James Madison Papers
Documents filtered by: Author="Madison, James" AND Recipient="Madison, James, Sr." AND Period="Confederation Period"
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From James Madison to James Madison, Sr., 27 November 1784

To James Madison, Sr.

Richd. Novr. 27. 1784

Hond. Sir

Having a moments time to drop you a line I inform you that the Bill for confirming surveys agst. subsequent entries has been negatived by a large majority, rather on the principle that it was unnecessary & retrospective, than that it was unjust in itself. On the contrary all the principal gentlemen were of opinion that it was just, but already provided for by the law.1 Mr. Innes the late Judge of the Kentucky Court, in particular told me he thought such surveys could not be overset. You will have heard of the vote in favr. of the Genl. Assesst.2 The bill is not yet brought in & I question whether it will, or if so, whether it will pass. This day a vote passed without a dissent for Circuit Cou[r]ts.3 What opposition may be made to its passage I know not. I have not yet found time to do your business at the Land Office. I expected before this to have seen my brother A. & Majr. Moore. I have been a little indisposed for a few days with a bad cold which still continues, otherwise I am well. M. Joseph will tell you the price of Tobo. I think it will rise. With my regards to the family I am Dr. Sir your affect. son

J Madison Jr

RC (DLC). Cover missing. Docketed by JM.

1The elder Madison was probably instrumental in circulating the Orange and Culpeper County petitions which possibly JM laid before the House on 4 Nov. 1784 as protests against the injustice of the 1779 law governing land patents. The petitions called for clear instruction so that titles could be obtained on the basis of previous surveys and for ways to prevent “the collusions and illegal practices between the principal surveyors and their deputies” (JHDV description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond. In the County of Henrico. The journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used is the one in which the journals for 1777–1786 are brought together in two volumes, with each journal published in Richmond in either 1827 or 1828 and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , Oct. 1784, p. 11). The Committee on Propositions and Grievances held these requests reasonable and ordered a bill written. What apparently happened was that Harry Innes, who was elected the Kentucky district attorney, persuaded the delegates a revision was unwise. The law had indeed bedeviled absentee landowners while creating a harvest for Kentucky lawyers. For a brief explanation of the Madison family investment in Kentucky lands, see Ralph Ketcham, James Madison: A Biography (New York, 1971), pp. 145–46.

2The House of Delegates passed, 47 to 32, a resolution calling for “a moderate tax or contribution, annually, for the support of the christian religion,” on Nov. 11 (JHDV description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond. In the County of Henrico. The journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used is the one in which the journals for 1777–1786 are brought together in two volumes, with each journal published in Richmond in either 1827 or 1828 and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , Oct. 1784, p. 19). JM was in the minority that opposed the proposed “General assessment” bill that was carried over to the Oct. 1785 session.

3A resolution passed by the House of Delegates held “That for the more convenient administration of justice throughout this Commonwealth, circuit courts ought to be established” (JHDV description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond. In the County of Henrico. The journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used is the one in which the journals for 1777–1786 are brought together in two volumes, with each journal published in Richmond in either 1827 or 1828 and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , Oct. 1784, p. 43). JM was appointed chairman of the committee charged with preparing the Assize Court bill of 2 Dec. 1784, which passed despite a strong undercurrent of opposition.

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