Thomas Jefferson Papers

Joseph C. Cabell to Thomas Jefferson, 21 February 1816

From Joseph C. Cabell

Richmond. 21st Feb: 1816.

Dear Sir,

I wrote you hastily by a late mail a short letter containing the substance of our proceedings respecting those Bills in which you felt a particular interest. A more particular statement may not be unacceptable to you. Capt: Miller’s Bill passed in the Senate by a vote of 12 to abt 5. after an elaborate discussion, in which not only the merits of the particular claim, but the general law of escheats, was brought into view. The style of the petition and the support you gave Capt: Miller, were no doubt, the cause of so large a majority in his favor. It was well that the title papers arrived when they did: otherwise the Bill would have been lost: and Capt: Miller would have been driven to the sale of the Real estate under the 3d section of the Act of 8th Feb: 1813: on which mr Johnson thought he ought to be suffered to rely. The honest but droll exultation of the worthy Captain, when he was informed of the passage of the Bill, was a source of great satisfaction & merriment to mr maury & myself. I am well persuaded he will always justify the statements you have made on his behalf, and that his gratitude to you will cease only with his life. His papers were returned to him, and were carried to Norfolk, to which place he hastened, as soon as the Bill passed.

I communicated to the Senate that part of your Letter containing your motives for giving to the Proctor of the Central College the powers of a Justice of the peace. Finding notwithstanding many members opposed to that part of the Bill, and we deeming it not very important to carry it at this time, I consented to strike it out. I moved also to strike out those sections relative to schools in the county of Albemarle.This motion, however, was not made till I had fully consulted with Governor Nicholas, my brother William, and several other friends.It is unquestionably in the contemplation of the Assembly, to establish a general system of education throughout the state; and for that purpose augmentations are made from time to time to the Literary fund. A resolution has recently passed the House of Delegates the object of which is to give to the Literary fund, the whole of the Surplus of the debt due to this state from the U. States, over & above the sum of six hundred thousand dollars. Whether this resolution will finally grow into a Law or not, the passage of it demonstrates the existence of a favorable temper, in regard to a speedy amelioration in the existing state of education in this state. As the revenue bill is now on the table of the Senate, and the estimated amount of the taxes embraces a sinking fund for paying gradually our debt of $750,000, to the Banks, I presume the Assembly will give the surplus of the debt over $600,000, to the Literary fund. As the people of Albemarle will be taxed to pay the debts of the state, or in other words, to form the Literary fund, they probably would have very great objections to a power in the Trustees of the Central College to impose additional taxes on them.1 Under these views of the subject, & supported by the unanimous advice of the abovenamed friends, I made the motion to amend the Bill in the part alluded to. Previous to its arrival in the senate, the part respecting the Literary fund was stricken out in the Lower House.—Mr Poindexter had been very friendly in regard to this Bill, and when he made a motion at a late stage of the proceedings to amend it, in such manner as to save to the counties of Louisa, and Fluvanna, their respective interests in the Glebes of St Anne, & Fredericksville, I could but yield to it, the more especially as I am confident the Senate would have overuled me had I opposed him on that point. I was the more inclined to this conciliatory course, because mr maury informed me, that only a very small part of the two Glebes could be claimed by Fluvanna & Louisa: and for this further reason, that the policy of the friends of the Central College, must be, to rely on funds to be here after obtained from the Legislature, rather than on the very limited means contemplated by the Bill. With these modifications the Bill has passed into a Law.The Bill respecting Mr Estis’s Lottery was rejected in the Senate. As it came to this House, it was a bill for a Lottery—the proceeds of which were to be applied to the purchase of Estis’s buildings, provided the trustees should consider them the best scite for the Central College. I proposed in the Senate, to amend the Bill by directing the proceeds of the Lottery to be applied to the use & benefit of the Central College, provided they should not wish to establish the College in Estis’s houses, or provided they should not be able to purchase them on such terms as they should deem just & reasonable. It was suggested by a member of the Senate that such a Bill as this would be giving the Petitioners “a stone when they asked for bread.” I admitted the departure in the Bill as it came from the House of Delegates, from the Petition: and the still further departure contemplated by the amendments I proposed: But informed the House of the conflict that might arise between Mr Estis’s Academy & the Central College, if his petition should be granted; & urged such possible conflict as a sufficient reason for rejecting the application of the petitioners in the form in which it appeared before the House of Delegates. If however the views of the petitioners could be reconciled with the interests of the College, I could have no objections: and as an additional Lottery for the benefit of the Central College might possibly succeed, I should vote for the Bill, & proposed the amendments merely to clear up all doubts as to the destination of the proceeds of the Lottery. The Senate rejected the Bill: nor was I much grieved by the decision.—You will have seen your Letter to Mr Carr in the Enquirer. It came out on the morning of the day that the Resolution passed the House of Delegates appropriating the surplus of our U. States debt to the Literary Fund, and I have reasons to believe, had a considerable effect in promoting the passage of that Resolution. I fear, however, no measure will be founded on it. The manner in which it is generally spoken of, induces me to believe that its publication will produce a very happy effect on the interests of science in this state.—I should be pleased to see in print2 your remarks on the division of the counties into wards, as preparatory to the future introduction of that measure into the Assembly. The proper point of time for making the attempt I presume would be, when the Literary fund shall be applied to the establishment of schools.—The Bill respecting the navigable waters of this commonwealth, with Col: Green’s amendments, has passed into a Law. No retrospective provision is embraced in the Law. Having now given such information as I thought might be agreeable to you,I have to beg the kindness of you at any leisure moment, to drop me a line, informing me whether De Say’s work on political Economy has ever been translated, I have some idea of making the attempt, shd it not already have been done by some other person. I feel myself infinitely obliged by the several letters you have had the goodness to write me during this session. I know the extent of your correspondence, & the drudgery it imposes on you: and all I ask is a line about De say.

Most respectfully & truly yours

Joseph C. Cabell

RC (ViU: TJP-PC); endorsed by TJ as received 23 Feb. 1816 and so recorded in SJL.

The Virginia statute of 8th feb: 1813 was “An Act, releasing the Commonwealth’s right to lands, in certain cases, and vesting in the Commonwealth, in certain cases, the title to the undisposed of residuum of personal estates.” Its third section provided that an alien who held or claimed Virginia land could sell it to American citizens if proceedings for escheating the property to the state had not commenced (Acts of Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia (cited by session; title varies over time) description ends [1812–13 sess.], 35–6).

The bill respecting mr estis’s lottery resulted from a Petition of Albemarle County Inhabitants to the Virginia House of Delegates (MS in Vi: RG 78, Legislative Petitions, Albemarle Co., in an unidentified hand, signed by John Harris and 155 other petitioners, docketed: “Albemarle Petition. Decr 15th 1815. refd to Ct of J. Reasonable  Bill drawn January 24th 1816”; Tr in ViU: JCC, in an unidentified hand, lacking nine names, endorsed by Cabell: “Petition of 147 Inhabitants of Albemarle. 1815”). Presented to the House of Delegates on 15 Dec. 1815 (JHD description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia description ends [1815–16 sess.], 43), it urged the General Assembly to pass a law “authorising a sufficient sum to be raised by lottery, adequate to the purchase of the house at present occupied by T: T. Estes in the village of Charlottesville, to be used & established as an Academy, & to raise such other sums, & make such other provisions, as to your Honorable Body may appear adequate to the object.”

your letter to mr carr: TJ to Peter Carr, 7 Sept. 1814. de say: Jean Baptiste Say.

1Cabell here canceled “for the same object.”

2Preceding two words interlined.

Index Entries

  • Albemarle Academy; and sale of glebe lands search
  • Albemarle Academy; lottery for search
  • Albemarle County, Va.; petitions to General Assembly search
  • An Act, releasing the Commonwealth’s right to lands, in certain cases, and vesting in the Commonwealth, in certain cases, the title to the undisposed of residuum of personal estates (1813) search
  • An Act to prevent obstructions in the navigable water courses within the Commonwealth (1816) search
  • An Act vesting in Joseph Miller the Commonwealth’s right to the real and personal estate of which Thomas Reed died seised and possessed (1816) search
  • banks; in Va. search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; and J. Miller’s petition search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; as Va. state senator search
  • Cabell, Joseph Carrington; letters from search
  • Cabell, William H.; advises J. C. Cabell search
  • Carr, Peter (1770–1815) (TJ’s nephew); and Albemarle Academy search
  • Central College; Draft Bill to Create Central College and Amend the1796Public Schools Act search
  • Central College; proctor of search
  • education; in Va. search
  • Estes, Triplett T.; and Albemarle Academy search
  • Green, John W.; as Va. state senator search
  • Harris, John (d.1832); and Albemarle Academy search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Draft Bill to Create Central College and Amend the1796Public Schools Act search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Writings; Petition of Joseph Miller to the Virginia General Assembly search
  • Johnson, Chapman; as Va. state senator search
  • lotteries; for Albemarle Academy search
  • Maury, Thomas Walker; as Va. legislator search
  • Miller, Joseph; An Act vesting in Joseph Miller the Commonwealth’s right to the real and personal estate of which Thomas Reed died seised and possessed (1816) search
  • Nicholas, Wilson Cary (1761–1820); as Va. governor search
  • Poindexter, William Green; as Va. state senator search
  • political economy; works on search
  • Richmond Enquirer (newspaper); prints TJ’s correspondence search
  • Say, Jean Baptiste; Traité d’Économie Politique search
  • Traité d’Économie Politique (J. B. Say) search
  • United States; debt to state of Va. search
  • Virginia; and education search
  • Virginia; banks in search
  • Virginia; General Assembly search
  • Virginia; House of Delegates search
  • Virginia; Literary Fund search
  • Virginia; Senate search