From Joseph Jones
Richmond 21. Novr. 1788
I have returned to this place a few days past in rather indifferent health. Cool settled weather seems to be wanting for the restoration of good health to many of us—this fall has exhibited more changes from very warm to very cold weather than I ever experienced and has been fatal to the health and lives of many—at present it is uncommonly warm and every morning a thick fog. Mr. Dawson I expect has given you the history of the proceedings here antecedent to his departure.1 Since my being in Town a bill intitled an exclusion bill passed the Delegates and will the Senate—it is calculated to prevent the same persons executing or holding offices under both governments—the policy as to some offices I think well founded, but as it stands, from what I have heard, for I never saw the bill, it is perhaps too general, as it manifestly tends to multiply officers and expence. The business of the Judges and district Law has been brot. forward—yesterday several resolutions were agreed to in Com: of the whole & also on the report by the house to this effect—the chancery court to remain as heretofore—the general Court to be continued—a Court of appeals to consist of persons not Judges of either of the Other Courts to be established, and the Admiralty Judges to be added to the general Court—the Judges of the general Court to execute the district law besides holding sessions as a general Court for particular purposes—the district law to be amended. Such is the outline what it will be finally is very uncertain—at present however if we may form conclusions from appearances the issue will be favourable.2 The parties fœds and antis have in most transactions been pretty distinguishable. Your case is one among others where the spirit of party operated strongly. Being among the number of those who wish to see some amendments in the plan I have been pressed to come forward and be of the new Congress but it is too late in the day for me to involve myself in troublesome business and have declared agt. it. The time for the election of the Governor is not yet fixed but I expect it will in a few days as Mr. Harrisons eligibility commences the 29th or 30th.3 It is as yet very doubtful whr. Harrison or B. Randolph will succeed. I think the latter gains some ground. Bland is also to be brought forward. Henry is gone home. E. Randolph in the house. Yr. friend & Servt.
Respects to Mr. Dawson he shall hear from me in a few days.
RC (DLC). Docketed by JM.
1. John Dawson had been elected to serve in the last session of the Continental Congress. He presented his credentials on 1 Dec. (JCC description begins Worthington C. Ford et al., eds., Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (34 vols.; Washington, 1904–37). description ends , XXXIV, 604, 610 n. 1).
2. See 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. 1788, pp. 54–55. A bill “establishing district courts, and for regulating the general court” became law on 22 Dec. (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, 730–63). This act was passed in response to a remonstrance by the Court of Appeals judges against the former district court law (PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (vols. 1–10, Chicago, 1962–77; vols. 11—, Charlottesville, Va., 1977—). description ends , X, 402 and n. 2). Since all admiralty matters became the exclusive province of the national government under the federal Constitution, the judges of the Admiralty Court were added to the General Court to give them employment.
3. Benjamin Harrison had been governor from 1781 to 1784. Under the Virginia Constitution he was not again eligible for the governorship until four years after he left office (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 , IX, 115).