Thomas Jefferson Papers

William W. Hening to Thomas Jefferson, 19 August 1820

From William W. Hening

Richmond August 19. 1820.


Having resumed the publication of the Statutes at Large, under the patronage of the legislature, I beg permission to manifest my gratitude for the aid you have afforded, by presenting you with a copy, elegantly bound, as far as the work is yet published, which is to Vol. 6. inclusive. The 7th volume is printed, but not yet bound. The subsequent volumes shall be bound uniformly with those now sent. The 8th volume will terminate the laws under the colonial government, and embrace all those in your 5th Volume of the sessions acts; after which I shall send it on to the librarian of congress, as I have already done with M.S. D, which I received from Mr Randolph, but which you satisfied me belonged to your library.

In order to commence the laws of the Revolution with a volume, I have found it necessary to make the 7th & 8th volumes considerably larger than either of the former.—

Indeed my anxiety to complete the work is so great, that I would submit to no small sacrifice to effect it. I could very easily publish four volumes a year; but as the law now stands, I can only be paid for one, in each year; and the expenses are so great, that I cannot furnish capital to remain so long inactive.—Had it not been for the peculiar state of the treasury, I should have made an effort last session to get the law so amended, as to authorise payment for each volume, as it was published

I am respy Yrs

Wm W: Hening

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 25 Aug. 1820 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Hening, description begins William Waller Hening, ed., The Statutes at Large; being a Collection of all the Laws of Virginia, Richmond, 1809–23, 13 vols.; Sowerby, no. 1863; Poor, Jefferson’s Library, 10 (no. 573) description ends vols. 1–6.

Five years previously TJ had asked Hening to forward his 5th volume of the sessions acts to George Watterston, the librarian of congress (TJ to Hening, 11 Mar. 1815; Hening to TJ, 15 Mar. 1815). For the circuitous travels of m.s. d, which Edmund Randolph had borrowed from TJ’s library during the 1780s, see TJ to Hening, 25 Apr. 1815. as the law now stands: the 5 Feb. 1808 “Act authorising William Waller Hening to Publish an Edition of certain Laws of this Commonwealth, and for other purposes,” provided that no “more than one volume of the said edition … be paid for out of the treasury in any one year” (Acts of Assembly description begins Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia (cited by session; title varies over time) description ends [1807–08 sess.], 24).

Index Entries

  • An Act authorising William Waller Hening to Publish an Edition of certain Laws of this Commonwealth, and for other purposes (1808) search
  • Hening, William Waller; and TJ’s collection of Va. laws search
  • Hening, William Waller; letters from search
  • Hening, William Waller; The Statutes at Large search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Books & Library; works sent to search
  • law; books on search
  • Library of Congress; manuscripts of Va. laws acquired by search
  • Randolph, Edmund; and manuscript of Va. laws search
  • The Statutes at Large (W. W. Hening); publication of search
  • The Statutes at Large (W. W. Hening); sent to TJ search
  • Virginia; General Assembly search
  • Virginia; laws of search
  • Virginia; TJ’s collection of laws of search
  • Virginia; treasury of search
  • Watterston, George; as librarian of Congress search