From Francis Corbin
Richmond—Virga. Decr. 7th. 1791
My Dear Sir
I embrace the first oppy. to inform you that your Conjectures with respect to the motives of the Virga. assemy. for sending forward to Congress only One of the 12 Amendts. to the Consn. were well founded. So that your object—whether it was to save our federal Credit, or to promote our adoption of those Amendments—has been fully Accomplish’d.
The multiplicity of Local business before the House of Delegates, which you know is always of the most importunate kind, prevented me from bringing them forward sooner than yesterday; when, by a sort of Modest Gasconade, I prevailed upon our lower House to adopt them all, without a single Exception, and (Excepting One Nay) by an unanimous Vote.1 How they will fare in the Senate—I know not. But I am apprehensive that some impediments will be there thrown in the Way of a Complete Ratification. I am led to entertain some suspicions from the Conversation I had yesterday with Mr. Henry who favored me with his Company at Dinner.
However this Day he left Richmd. & I am in hopes that my fears and doubts upon the Subject will depart with him.
The British Debt business has Ended better than I Expected—with nothing more than a Delay of Legislative Matters for 6 Days! The judges have decided nothing!
Tomorrow we shall proceed to the arrangement of Congressional Districts.2 I do not wish to interfere at all—but I am afraid I shall be obliged to do it. Party Work runs higher than I ever knew it before upon any Legislative Arrangt. whatever. Much time will be spent in Disputation.
I wish it was over—for I mean to pay you a Visit as soon as the session Ends.
Inclosed you receive a rough hasty and ill worded Statement of facts relative to the Pennsylvanian Demands on Virga. You will be able however to collect the Substance out of the Chaos. I am puzzled in drawing a Report upon the Subject—so as to do justice to Virga. & to avoid disagreeable Imputations.3
In order to suit the temper of the present Assembly, and to promote what I think right, I shall be obliged to refine a little in my Construction of the Consn. Whatever is finally agreed upon shall be immedy. commd. by Dear Sir with Sincere Regard Yrs. Mo faithfully
RC (DLC). Docketed by JM, “Decr. / Jany. 7. 1792.” Misdated 7 Jan. 1791 in Index to the James Madison Papers. Enclosure not found.
1. The House of Delegates passed resolutions ratifying one constitutional amendment on 25 Oct. and the rest of the proposed amendments on 5 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 , XIII, 327–29).
2. On 4 Nov. the House of Delegates passed a resolution for “arranging the districts for the choice of Representatives to Congress” and appointed Corbin to the committee to prepare a bill pursuant to the resolution. The House passed the bill on 17 Dec. but rejected a Senate amendment on 20 Dec., the last day of the session, thus in effect killing the bill. With redistricting unresolved, the assembly on the same day passed “An act for the election of additional Representatives to the present Congress,” which allowed each existing district to elect an additional congressman on 14 Feb. 1792. Corbin and at least five other candidates were then elected but never served. John James Maund, who became a state senator in 1793, correctly noted that the state election law “must be nugatory,” since the two houses of Congress were then deadlocked over their respective versions of the federal apportionment bill. The Virginia assembly finally passed a redistricting act late in its 1792 session (JHDV description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Richmond. Volumes in this series are designated by the month in which the session began. description ends , Oct. 1791, pp. 33, 137, 142–46; 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 , XIII, 251–52, 331–35; CVSP description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts (11 vols.; Richmond, 1875–93). description ends , V, 448–50; WMQ description begins William and Mary Quarterly. description ends , 1st ser., XX [1911–12], 274).
3. On 29 Nov. the House of Delegates referred the demands of Pennsylvania governor Mifflin, for the extradition of fugitives from justice, to a committee chaired by Corbin. On 17 Dec. he delivered a report and proposed resolutions, which both houses of the General Assembly passed on 20 Dec, charging that Pennsylvanians had encouraged slaves to flee from Virginia (JHDV description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia, Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Richmond. Volumes in this series are designated by the month in which the session began. description ends , Oct. 1791, pp. 91, 97, 137–38, 144–45).