From Charles Lee
Richmond 14th april [May] 1788
I have received your Letter covering one to Mr John Hopkins to whom I have delivered it.1 The warrants in my hands not being receivable in discharge of the claims of the James River Company have been deposited in Mr Hopkin’s hands as you directed.2 He informs me (and he is right in my opinion) that the securities you enclosed to him will not answer in the payment of your taxes for 1785 & 1786 exactly as stated in your letter and I have desired him to retain such as can be applied to those taxes and to return to me the residue with a Sketch of his account enclosed to you.3 As to your other lands not contained in the account of the Green Brier Sheriff, I suppose they cannot have been sold because a previous advertisement in some newspaper has been necessary.
The Court of Appeals after much consideration have determined that the District Law of the last session is contrary to the constitution and therefore ought not to be executed. This they have represented to the Executive who are this day to decide whether the Genl Assembly ought not immediately to be called which I think probable. However the Governor does not seem to like the idea and this aversion is attributed to the circumstance, that the district bill was drawn by him. I apprehend the public opinion will be much divided respecting the conduct of the Judiciary and that it will be a source of uneasiness and distraction among the people at large.
With regard to the proposed constitution, it seems that the newspapers have mispublished the delegates from Kentucky and the governor informs me that they are to a man opposed to it—He seems to be fixing in favor of it, and this stroke of the Judiciary will have some effect upon his mind and perhaps on the minds of others shewing the incompetency of our present government to maintain us in society. I have the honor to remain Dear Sir with great regard and esteem your most obed. hble Sert
P.S. The Assembly are to meet on the 23d June by order of Council.4 C. Lee
ALS, DLC:GW. Lee dates this letter 14 April, but it is written in response to GW’s letter of 27 April, in which he enclosed a letter to John Hopkins of the same date dealing with the same matter. Hopkins’s reply is dated 14 May, and it has been assumed that Lee mistook only the month and not the day of the month as well. The date, 14 May, fits the contents of the letter.
4. The Virginia assembly on 3 Jan. 1788 passed a bill establishing district courts in Virginia to be presided over by the judges of the general court, whose number were to be increased by four (12 Hening 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. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends 532–58). On 12 May the judges of the court of appeals drew up a remonstrance objecting to the act on the grounds that it infringed on the independence of the judiciary, and they presented it to Gov. Edmund Randolph to be forwarded to the assembly. On 14 May after Randolph informed the executive council of the remonstrance, it was decided that the legislature should be called into special session on 23 June. In the special session, 24–30 June, the legislature voted to suspend the operation of the district court act (Reardon, Randolph, description begins John J. Reardon. Edmund Randolph: A Biography. New York, 1974. description ends 161–62). A new district court bill was passed in the next session, on 22 Dec. 1788 (12 Hening 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. 1819–23. Reprint. Charlottesville, Va., 1969. description ends 730–63).