Primary Resource

Thomas Jefferson's Acceptance Speech for the Position of Governor: excerpt from the Journal of the House of Delegates (June 2, 1779)

In this excerpt from the Journal of the House of Delegates, from June 2, 1779, Thomas Jefferson thanks the House for electing him governor of Virginia.

Transcription from Original

WEDNESDAY, June 2, 1779.

An engrossed bill, "for paying the wages of the members of this present session of Assembly," was read the third time.

Resolved, That the bill do pass, and that the title be, "an act for paying the wages of the members of this present session of Assembly."

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

— page 31 —

Resolved, That the discussion of the claim of the Indiana Company, which was appointed to be heard on this day, be put off till Monday next.

Mr. Charles Carter presented, according to order, a bill "to increase the salaries of the clerks to the auditors of public accounts;" and the same was received and read the first time, and ordered to be read a second time.

Mr. Harvie, from the committee appointed, in conjunction with a committee of the Senate, to notify to Thomas Jefferson, Esq. his appointment to be Governor of this Commonwealth, reported, that the committee had, according to order, waited on that gentleman, and notified his appointment, and that he was pleased to return the following answer:

Gentlemen,―The honor which the General Assembly have been pleased to confer on me, by calling me to the high office of Governor of this Commonwealth, demands my most grateful acknowledgments, which I desire, through you, gentlemen, to tender to them with the utmost respect. In a virtuous and free State no rewards can be so pleasing to sensible minds, as those which include the approbation of our fellow-citizens. My great pain is, lest my poor endeavors should fall short of the kind expectations of my country. So far as impartiality, assiduous attention, and sincere affection to the great American cause, shall enable me to fulfill the duties of my appointment, so far I may with confidence undertake; for all beyond, I must rely on the wise counsels of the General Assembly, and of those whom they have appointed for my aid in those duties.

To you, gentlemen, I return my particular thanks for the polite terms in which you have been pleased to notify the will of the General Assembly.

Mr. Charles Carter reported, from the committee of Propositions and Grievances, that the committee had, according to order, had under their consideration several petitions to them referred, 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 twice read and agreed to, as followeth:

Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee, That the petition of divers inhabitants of the counties of Amelia and Chesterfield, praying that toll gates or turnpikes may be erected at Belville's and Goode's bridge over Appomattox river, to enable the said inhabitants to defray the expenses of building and supporting the said bridges, be rejected.

Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee, That the petition of divers inhabitants of the county of Pittsylvania, praying that the owners of mills on the river Banister, may be compelled to make an opening in their dam sufficient for the passage of fish, and that other obstructions in the said river may be removed, be rejected.

Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee, That the petition of divers inhabitants of the county of Frederick, praying that a public ferry may be established from the land of T. B. Martin, Esq. where John Nicholas lately lived, in the county of Frederick, across Shenandoah river, to the lands of the Hon. Thomas Lord Fairfax, on the opposite shore, is reasonable.

Ordered, That a bill or bills, be brought in pursuant to the third resolution; and that the committee of Propositions and Grievances do prepare and bring in the same.

The House, according to the order of yesterday, resumed the consideration of the amendments made by the committee of the whole House, to the bill, "for raising a supply of money for the services of the current year, and for procuring an equal assessment of taxable property in this Commonwealth;" and the same were again twice read and agreed to by the House.

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

Mr. Lyne reported, from the committee of Propositions and Grievances, that the committee had, according to order, had under their consideration sundry petitions to them referred, 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 twice read, and agreed to by the House, as followeth:

Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee, That the petitions of divers inhabitants of the county of Stafford, and of the town of Fredericksburg, in the county of Spotsylvania, praying that a public ferry may be established from the lands of Col. Fielding Lewis at the upper end of the said town, over Rappahannock river, to the lands of William Fitzhugh, Esq. on the opposite shore, be rejected.

Resolved, that it is the opinion of this committee, That the memorial of the trustees of the town of Falmouth, and of James Hunter and others, in opposition thereto, is reasonable.

A petition of sundry inhabitants of the counties of Botetourt and Montgomery, whose names are thereunto subscribed, was presented to the House, and read; setting forth, that the inhabitants of the upper end of Botetourt, and of the lower end of Montgomery, are inconveniently situated to their respective courthouses; that the great extent of the said counties is very injurious to the petitioners; and praying that a new county may be formed, agreeable to the bounds therein expressed.

Also, a petition of Robert Kincade; setting forth, that being uninformed of the law, he neglected to take the oath of allegiance to the State, until the time allowed by the act of Assembly had elapsed, whereby he incurred the penalty of treble rates and taxes; and praying relief.

Ordered, That the said petitions be referred to the committee of Propositions and Grievances; that they do examine the matter thereof, and report the same, with their opinion thereupon, to the House.

A petition of Richard Henderson and Company, was presented to the House, and read; setting forth, that the grant of lands on the Ohio and Green rivers, made to them by the last Assembly, will be of no immediate advantage

— page 32 —

to them, but are at present a heavy expense, as they are situate near two hundred miles from any settlement, and subject to taxation with other lands in this Commonwealth; that promiscuous settlements thereon would be unsafe and impracticable; and praying such indulgence as may be thought just and reasonable.

Ordered, That the said petition be referred to the committee appointed to prepare and bring in a bill, "to adjust the titles of the different claimants to unpatented lands;" that they do examine the matter thereof, and report the same, with their opinion thereupon, to the House.

A petition of William Hughes was presented to the House, and read; setting forth, that he was an officer in the troops of this colony for many years; that the disciplining the old Virginia regiment fell under his care; that he continued in the service until the reduction of the said regiment, in 1762, and during his service met with the misfortune of having his leg broke; and praying such relief as to the House shall appear just.

Also, a petition of Alexander McRoberts; setting forth, that he was appointed clerk to the commissioners of Prince Edward county; that he performed sundry services, and was at considerable expense therein, for which the commissioners refused to pay him; and praying such satisfaction for the same as to the House may seem just.

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

Ordered, That leave be given to bring in a bill, "to amend an act, entitled 'an act for the more speedily completing the quota of troops to be raised in this Commonwealth for the continental army, and for other purposes['];" and that Messrs. Thomas Hite, Baker, and Parker, do prepare and bring in the same.

[space]

Ordered, That Messrs. Munford, Page, Tazewell, and Henry, be appointed a committee to present the said resolutions to Mr. Henry.

The orders of the day, for the House to resolve itself into a committee of the whole House, on the bill, "for the better regulation and discipline of the militia;" also on the bill, "for punishing persons guilty of certain forgeries," being read.

Ordered, That the same be put off till Friday next.

Ordered, That leave be given to bring in a bill, "for giving farther time to purchasers of lots in the town of Bath to build thereon," and that Mr. Thomas Hite do prepare and bring in the same.

Mr. Munford, from the committee appointed to wait on Patrick Henry, Esq. and to present him with the resolutions of this House respecting his conduct while Governor of this Commonwealth, reported, that the committee had, according to order, attended Mr. Henry with the same, and that he was pleased to return the following answer thereto:

Gentlemen,―The House of Delegates have done me very great honor in the vote expressive of their approbation of my public conduct.

I beg the favor of you, gentlemen, to convey to the honorable House my most cordial acknowledgments, and to assure them that I shall ever retain a grateful remembrance of the high honor they have now conferred on me.

A memorial of Penet, Wendall and Company, was presented to the House, and read; setting forth, that having agreed with Congress for establishing a manufactory of artillery and small arms in some one of the States of Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Jersey, they have determined, for many reasons, to prefer this State; and praying their certain advantages may be afforded them by the legislature upon terms and conditions therein expressed.

Ordered, That the said memorial be referred to Messrs. Mason, Parker, Henry, Zane, Lyne, Tyler, Baker, Munford, Braxton, General Nelson, Page, Thomas Hite, Thomas Johnson, and Talbot, that they do examine the matter thereof, and report the same, with their opinion thereupon, to the House.

Ordered, That Messrs. Peyton, Lyne, and Peachey, be added to the committee of Public Trade.

The House, according to the order of the day, resolved itself into a committee of the whole House, on the state of the Commonwealth; and after some time spent therein, Mr. Speaker resumed the chair, and Mr. Braxton reported, that the committee had, according to order, had the state of the Commonwealth under their farther consideration, and agreed 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 agreed to, as followeth:

Resolved, That two thousand five hundred volunteers be raised for the better defence of this Commonwealth, to be formed into four battalions of infantry and six troops of horse; and that the Governor, with the advice of the Council, be empowered to embody fifteen hundred militia for the same purpose; the whole to be paid, armed, accoutred, and disciplined, as the other troops raised for the particular service thereof.

Resolved, nemine contra dicente, that it is the opinion of this committee, That the treaties of alliance and commerce entered into between His Most Christian Majesty of France on the one part, and the Congress of the United States of America on behalf of the said States on the other part, ought to be ratified, confirmed, and declared binding on this Commonwealth.

Resolved, That the Governor be desired to notify to the minister of His Most Christian Majesty, resident at Philadelphia, the above ratification under the seal of this Conmmonwealth.

— page 33 —

Ordered, That a bill or bills, be brought in pursuant to the first resolution; and that Messrs. Braxton, Mason, Baker, Parker, Harrison of Brandon, Peachey, Munford, Taylor and Lyne, do prepare and bring in the same.

Ordered, That Mr. Braxton do carry the second and third resolution to the Senate, and desire their concurrence.

Resolved, That this House will, to-morrow, again resolve itself into a committee of the whole House upon the State of the Commonwealth.

And then the House adjourned till to-morrow morning, 10 o'clock.