James Madison Papers
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To James Madison from Joseph Jones, 2 November 1789

From Joseph Jones

[Rich]mond 2d. Novr. 1789.

Dr. Sr.

My excursions during the sickly season deprived me of the pleasure of continuing our correspondence which should have been sooner resumed on my part after my return had I not expected on the adjournment of congress you wod. have left N. York—but hearing you were not returned to Virginia I take occasion by Mr. Griffin to drop you a few lines. The Assembly are as usual moving slowly in the public business slower than I think they would have done but for Mr. E Randolphs indisposition the last week which disabled him from attending the house for some days. He is now better and will be in condition this week to Prosecute a measure he has brot. forward respecting our code of laws—the intention appears to me to be not only a compilation of the laws in force but to reenact the ancient British statutes that are deemed in force here that apply to our situation and repeal all others—to reduce to one act the Parts of laws on the same subject—to make some changes in some of the existing acts—to incorporate into the acts such improvements as the later British statutes have made to the ancient acts in force here where they shall be deemed usefull, and to affix to each law a period for its commencement instead of the present period of its passage. These are I think the outlines of the plan or nearly so—whether the friends to the measure will be able to carry it through the legislature this Session is doubted by many. All seem to admit the necessity of a compilation but there are those who are averse to the great changes they conceive the plan contemplates, of this number I think H——y is one. As it is probable Ra—d—ph will not be a member the ensuing Session he will no doubt make every effort to forward it the present.1 It is also in contemplation to propose the calling a convention to revise our state constitution.2 The vacancies expected in the Judiciary by the appointments of the general goverment have brot. forward many names and some applications to supply the vacancies and to supply the vacancies in the Executive I hear twelve or fifteen are mentioned. Yesterday in the house of Delegates it was decided in consequence of a letter from Griffin on the subject, that he had vacated his seat at the board by accepting the Indian commission Which will I suppose determine him to discontinue his seat at the board notwithstanding his having taken it the day before. H——y and R——ph both declared they thought the law agt. him but that as soon as the Indian appointment terminated he wod. be eligible and might and they doubted not wod. be re:elected.3 I had requested Mr. Dawson in the fall when going to Philadelphia to send you £25 he was to receive for me which he informed he complied with. Do you not intend to Orange before the next Session of Congress and about what time do you intend being there. I a[m] Yr. friend & [serv]t

Jo[s: Jones]

RC (DLC). Addressed by Jones. Docketed by JM. Brackets enclose letters missing owing to tears in the Ms.

2Randolph also took the lead in urging a reform of the Virginia Constitution of 1776. In December he delivered a lengthy critique of that constitution in the form of a resolution before the House of Delegates. Randolph’s proposal, however, was angrily denounced as “repugnant to Republican Government, and dangerous to the freedom of this country.” As a result, constitutional reform in Virginia was postponed for a generation (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 1777–1790 are brought together in three volumes, with each journal published in Richmond in either 1827 or 1828, and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , Oct. 1789, pp. 108–11; Richard R. Beeman, The Old Dominion and the New Nation, 1788–1801 [Lexington, Ky., 1972], pp. 51–55)

3Cyrus Griffin, elected to the Virginia Council of State in December 1788, had been appointed a federal commissioner to negotiate with the Southern Indians in August 1789. Having completed the Indian negotiations, though still holding his federal commission, Griffin took his seat on the council on 29 Oct. The General Assembly ruled that Griffin should vacate his council seat on account of the law disqualifying state officials from holding federal offices. On 14 Dec. the House of Delegates received Griffin’s resignation from the council (DHFC description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds., Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America (3 vols. to date; Baltimore, 1972—). description ends , II, 30; 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 1777–1790 are brought together in three volumes, with each journal published in Richmond in either 1827 or 1828, and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , Oct. 1789, pp. 25, 53, 120; Hening, Statutes description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia, from the First Session of the Legislature, in the Year 1619 (13 vols.; Richmond and Philadelphia, 1819–23). description ends , XII, 694–95).

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