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An Investigation into the Conduct of Thomas Jefferson; an excerpt from the Journal of the House of Delegates (December 12, 1781)

In this excerpt from the Journal of the House of Delegates, from December 12, 1781, the House reports on its investigation into whether Thomas Jefferson had acted cowardly at the end of his second term as governor.

Transcription from Original

WEDNESDAY, December 12, 1781.

An engrossed bill, "for the reduction of the military and naval arrangements of the State," was read the third time.

Resolved, That the bill do pass; and that the title be, "an act for the reduction of the military and naval arrangements of this State."

Ordered, That Mr. Nicolas do carry the bill to the Senate, and desire their concurrence.

An engrossed bill, "to suspend the operations of an act, 'to enable the Congress of the United States to levy a duty of certain goods and merchandizes, and also on all prizes;" was read a third time.

Resolved, That the bill do pass; and that the title be, "an act, 'to suspend the operation of an act, 'to enable the Congress of the United States to levy a duty on certain goods and merchandizes, and also on all prizes."

Ordered, That Mr. Nicholas do carry the bill to the Senate, and desire their concurrence.

Mr. Richard Lee reported, from the committee of Trade, that the committee had, according to order, had several petitions to them referred under their consideration, and come to several resolutions thereupon, which he read in his place, and afterwards delivered in at the clerk's table, where the same were again read, and ordered to lie on the table.

Mr. Strother reported, from the committee of Propositions and Grievances, to whom the engrossed bill, "for restoring to Robert Baine his former estate," was committed, that the committee had, according to order, had the said bill under their consideration, and gone through the same, and made no amendment thereto.

An engrossed bill, "for restoring to Robert Baine, his former estate;" was read a third time, and the blanks therein filled up.

Resolved, That the bill do pass; and that the title be, "an act, for restoring to Robert Baine, his former estate."

Ordered, That Mr. Strother do carry the bill to the Senate, and desire their concurrence.

Mr. Southall reported, from the committee to whom was referred the bill, "for the relief of persons who have been or may be injured by the destruction of the records of county courts," that the committee had, according to order, had the said bill under their consideration, and made an amendment thereto, which he read in his place, and afterwards delivered in at the clerk's table, where the same were again twice read and agreed to by the House.

Ordered, That the bill, with the amendment, be engrossed and read the third time.

A petition of Thomas Newton and Preston Bowdoin, executors of Robert Tucker, deceased, was presented to the House, and read; setting forth, that a piece of land belonging to the estate of their testator, was taken for the public use, and fortification erected thereon, for the defence of the town of Portsmouth; and praying that the said estate may be compensated for the damage done thereto.

Also, a petition of Jack King; setting forth, that he received several wounds at the defeat of Col. Buford, which disables him from procuring a livelihood by labor; and praying relief.

Also, a petition of James Trabue; setting forth, that he was a purchasing commissary for the public in the county of Kentucky, in the year 1780, and was taken prisoner by the enemy, together with his papers; that the people of whom he purchased, will be great sufferers in their claims, unless allowed the depreciation upon the certificates given by him since his releasement from captivity; and praying that such depreciation may be allowed on all such claims.

Ordered, That the said petitions be referred to the committees of Trade; that they do examine the matter thereof, and report the same, with their opinions thereupon, to the House.

A motion was made, that the House do come to the following resolution:

Resolved, That the Solicitor General ought to be directed to give to John Poage, late sheriff of the county of Augusta, a full acquittance against a judgment entered in the General Court against him for thirty-five thousand three hundred and forty-five pounds five shillings, as sheriff, upon his paying that sum into the public treasury on or before the first day of March, 1782, without interest, depreciation, or damages.

And the said resolution being read a second time was, on the question put thereupon, agreed to by the House.

Ordered, That Mr. Henry, do carry the resolution to the Senate, and desire their concurrence.

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Ordered, That Mr. Taylor of Caroline, have leave to be absent from the service of this House, for the remainder of the session.

Mr. Henry reported, from the committee to whom the memorial of the officers of the State battalions and corps, was referred, that the committee had, according to order, had the same under their consideration and had come to several resolutions thereupon, which he read in his place, and afterwards delivered in at the clerk's table, where the same were again read, and are as followeth:

Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee, That the officers of the State battalions and corps, are entitled to half pay during life, to commence from the termination of their commands in the said battalions and corps, on their becoming supernumeraries from the reduction of the battalions and corps to which they belong; subject however, to be called upon to take command in the same or higher rank, and to the forfeiture of their pay, on refusing to take command when thereunto required.

Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee, That a return of all the State officers ought to be made to the next Assembly, wherein the corps, the rank of each officer, the date of his commission, the number of men at first raised in each corps, the number of men when reduced, and time when reduced; is particularly specified by the Executive; and in which the Executive are to set on foot proper inquiries to discriminate such officers as by unworthy conduct, or by any means whatever, be thought unfit to be considered as entitled to half pay.

Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee, That the whole pay of the State troops be made good, from the first of January, 1777, according to their times of service; and that the auditors be directed to liquidate and adjust immediately, the accounts of the officers and soldiers of the State battalions and corps; and that certificates equal to specie, be given immediately, for the respective balances.

Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee, That the bounty of land given to the officers of the Virginia line, in continental service, and the regulations for the surveying and appropriating the same, ought to be extended to the State officers.

Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee, That State officers, reduced and on half pay, ought to be eligible as members of the General Assembly.

Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee, That the State cavalry, is entitled to the same indulgencies and advantages as the infantry, and on the same terms.

Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee, That the same allowance should be made to the State officers, that have attended on this Assembly on the business of the officers and soldiers of the State, for their expenses, that is made to the officers of the Virginia continental line, attending the business of that line.

Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee, That the State officers who are in actual service, ought to receive the same advances of pay for their present relief, as the officers on continental service.

The first resolution was read a second time, and ordered to lie on the table.

The second and third resolutions, were severally read a second time, amended, and on the question put thereupon, agreed to by the House.

The fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth resolutions were severally read a second time; and on the question put thereupon, agreed to by the House.

Ordered, That a bill or bills, be brought in pursuant to the 2d, 3d, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th resolutions; and that Messrs. Henry, Nicholas, Holmes, Banister, Peyton, Mayo, and Taylor of Caroline, do prepare and bring in the same.

Mr. Banister reported, from the committee appointed to state any charges and receive such information as might be offered, respecting the administration of the late Executive; that the committee did, according to order, convene for that purpose, and no information being offered on the subject matter of the said inquiry, except that some rumors prevailed, which appeared to the committee to have been the cause of the original order of the 12th of June, directing the said inquiry; that the committee had come to a resolution thereupon, which he read in his place, and afterwards delivered in at the clerk's table, where the same was again twice read, and agreed to by the House, as followeth:

Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee, That the said rumors were groundless.

A motion was made, that the House do come to the following resolutions:

Resolved, That the sincere thanks of the General Assembly be given to our former Governor, Thomas Jefferson, Esq. for his impartial, upright, and attentive administration of the powers of the Executive, whilst in office; popular rumors gaining some degree of credence, by more pointed accusations, rendered it necessary to make an inquiry into his conduct, and delayed that retribution of public gratitude, so eminently merited; but that conduct having become the object of open scrutiny, tenfold value is added to an approbation, founded on a cool and deliberate discussion. The Assembly wish therefore, in the strongest manner, to declare the high opinion which they entertain of Mr. Jefferson's ability, rectitude and integrity, as Chief Magistrate of this Commonwealth; and mean by thus publicly avowing their opinion, to obviate all future, and to remove all former, unmerited censure.

And the said resolution being read a second time, was, on the question put thereupon, agreed to by the House, nemine contra dicente.

Ordered, That Mr. Talbot do carry the resolution to the Senate, and desire their concurrence.

The House being informed that Mr. Benjamin Harrison, one of the members for the county of Rockingham, at-

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tended in custody of the serjeant at arms, and that there was good cause to excuse his absence when the House was called over on Wednesday the 28th ultimo,

Ordered, That the said Benjamin Harrison be admitted to his seat, without paying fees.

The House being informed, that Mr. Robert Cravens, one of the members for the county at Rockingham, attended in custody of the serjeant at arms;

Ordered, That the said Robert Cravens be admitted to his seat, on paying fees.

On a motion made,

Ordered, That a committee be appointed to inquire into the conduct of Mr. John Hopkins, as commissioner of continental loans, respecting a malfeasance of office, charged against him.

And a committee was appointed, of Messrs. Ronald, Strother, Arthur Lee, Henry and Travis.

The orders of the day, for the House to resolve itself into a committee of the whole House on the state of Commonwealth; also, on the bills "to suspend the operation of the act 'concerning escheats and forfeitures from British subjects;" "for further continuing the act for establishing the county of Illinois, and for the more effectual protection and defence thereof;" "to remove the suspension of the Superior Courts, and alter the terms of holding the same;" and "to prevent the impressment of horses, wagons, carts, provisions, grain, and spirits;" being read,

Ordered, That the same be put off till to-morrow.

And then the House adjourned till to-morrow, 12 o'clock.