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    The Revisal of the Laws 1776–1786

    From: Jefferson Papers | Main Series | Volume 2 | The Revisal of the Laws 1776–1786

    It is an extremely difficult task to bring into proper focus, to say nothing of fully encompassing, the far-reaching revision of the laws that Jefferson and other leading Virginians embarked upon in the autumn of 1776. This is chiefly because the revision of the laws itself never came into focus. It was a long-drawn-out movement, ending in something of an anti-climax, and never became embodied...
    The Common Law not to be medled with, except where Alterations are necessary. The Statutes to be revised and digested, alterations proper for us to be made; the Diction, where obsolete or redundant, to be reformed; but otherwise to undergo as few Changes as possible. The Acts of the English Common-wealth to be examined. The Statutes to be divided into Periods: the Acts of Assembly, made on the...
    1. A Bill To arrange the counties into Senatorial districts. 2. Concerning the election of members of General Assembly. 3. Empowering one of the Privy Council to officiate in certain cases as Lieutenant Governor. 4. To empower the Governor with advice of the Privy Council to lay embargoes. 5. For regulating and disciplining the militia. 6. Making provision against invasions and insurrections....
    Be it enacted by the General Assembly that the districts, for which Senators are to be chosen to serve in General Assembly, shall be those which are herein after described, that is to say, the counties of Accomack and Northampton, one district; the counties of Princess Ann, Norfolk, and Nansemond, one other district; the counties of Isle-of-wight, Surry, and Prince George, one other district;...
    Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that the Delegates for the several counties, and the City of Williamsburg and Borough of Norfolk, and the six Senators for one of the four classes of districts, in the room of those who will annually be displaced, shall be chosen, in the manner hereafter directed, on the first Monday of September in every year, and shall meet together, and with the...
    Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that if the Governor and President of the Privy Council shall die, or otherwise become unable to perform his duty, in the recess of the General Assembly, the Privy Councillor whose name stands next in the list of their appointments shall officiate as Lieutenant Governor, until the vacancy be supplied, or the disability cease. And, in the absence of the...
    Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that it shall be lawful for the Governor, with advice of the Privy Council, whenever, before the next session of General Assembly, they shall judge it to be for the good of the commonwealth, by his proclamation, published in the Virginia Gazette, to prohibit, during such time, to be therein limitted, as they shall think the exigency will probably...
    For forming the citizens of this commonwealth into a militia and disciplining the same for defence thereof, be it enacted by the General Assembly of the commonwealth of Virginia, that all free male persons, hired servants and apprentices, between the ages of 16 and 50 years (except the Governor and members of the Council of State, members of the American Congress, Judges of the Superior...
    For making provision against invasions and insurrections, and laying the burthen thereof equally on all: Be it enacted by the General Assembly, that the division of the militia of each county into ten parts, [made under the laws heretofore in force, shall be] kept up in the following manner: The commanding officer of every county, within one month after every general muster, shall enroll,...
    Whereas the present war between America and Great-Britain was undertaken for defence of the common rights of the American States, and it is therefore just that each of them, when in danger, should be aided by the joint exertions of all; and as on any invasion of this commonwealth in particular, we should hope for and expect necessary aids of militia from our neighboring sister states, so it is...