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and as to the constructions of the world, they would only have added one to the many sins for which they are to go to the devil. As this is the first, I hope it will be the last, instance of ceremony between us. A desire to see my family, which is in Charles City, carries me thither to-morrow, and I shall not return till Monday.
Mrs. Jefferson I believe will not come shortly to town. When she does however she has too much value for Mrs. Page not to consider her acquaintance as a principal among those circumstances which are to reconcile her to her situation. A knowledge of her sentiments on this subject renders it safe in undertaking that she shall do her part in cultivating a friendly intercourse. Be pleased to present my compliments to Mrs. Page, and add this to the assurances I have ever given you, that I am, dear Page, your affectionate friend.
TO WILLIAM FLEMING,
WILLIAMSBURGH, June 8, 1779. DEAR FLEMING,—I received your letter and have now to thank you for it. Some resolutions of Congress came to hand yesterday desiring an authentic state to be sent them of the cruelties said to have been committed by the enemy during their late invasion. The council had already taken measures to obtain such a state. Tho' so near the scene where these barbarities are said to have been committed I am not able yet to decide within myself whether they were such or not. The testimony on both sides is such as if heard separately could not admit a moment's suspension of our faith.
1 From the Southern Literary Messenger, III, 306.
We have lately been extremely disturbed to find a pretty general opinion prevailing that peace and the independence of the thirteen states are now within our power, and that Congress have hesitations on the subject, and delay entering on the consideration. It has even been said that their conduct on this head has been so dissatisfactory to the French minister that he thinks of returning to his own country, ostensibly for better health, but in truth through disgust. Such an event would be deplored'here as the most dreadful calamity. It is in contemplation of some gentlemen who conferred on the subject to propose the re-establishment of our committees of correspondence; others thought this too slow for the emergency and that plenipotentiary deputies should be sent to satisfy the mind of the French minister, and to set on foot proper measures for procuring the genuine sense of the several states. The whole however subsided on a supposition that the information might not be true, and that our delegates in Congress would think no obligations of secrecy under which they may have been laid sufficient to restrain them from informing their constituents of any proceedings which may involve the fate of their freedom and independence. It would surely be better to carry on a ten years' war some time hence than to continue the present an unnecessary moment.
Our land office I think will be opened; the sale of British property take place, and our tax bill put on a
with an occasion of acknowledging, with this, the many other obligations under which you have laid me, of which I shall always be proud to shew a due sense, whenever opportunities shall offer. I am, dear sir, with much esteem, your friend and servant.
A BILL CONCERNING ESCHEATS AND FORFEITURES FROM BRITISH SUBJECTS.
V. S. A.
[May 27, 1779.) Whereas during the connection which subsisted between the now United States of America and the other parts of the British empire, & their subjection to one common prince the inhabitants an extent which made this tender less than one quarter of the amount originally received. Jones preferred to refuse it entirely (though under the law the tender constituted payment) on the ground that in a personal debt such pretended payment was dishonorable and fictitious. Jefferson never replied to Jones' protest, but when in France, several years later, his agent made payment in full. The affair was first made public by J. T. Callender, in The Recorder of Dec. 8, 1802. This led to considerable controversy, and finally induced Jones to write a narrative of the transaction, which is in The Recorder of June 4, 1803. In the National Intelligencer of July 1, 1803 is a piece signed “Timoleon," in defence of Jefferson, which was undoubtedly inspired, is not written, by Jefferson. A broadside, signed Veritas," was written and circulated by Philip Grymes, entitled Letter to Gabriel Jones, a copy of which is in the Library of Congress among the Jefferson pamphlets; and this produced a pamphlet entitled : A Refutation of the Charges Made by a Writer under the Signature of “ Veritas," against the Character of Gabriel Jones-the Lately Acknowledged Author being the Honorable Philip Grymes, Member of the Council of State,-in Which Every Charge or Insinuation against Him in that Libel is Fully and Clearly Refuted. Winchester : Printed by Richard Bowen, (1803).
On May 27, 1779, Jefferson was appointed to prepare this bill, and reported it the same day, when it was read for the first time. On the next day it was read for a second time, and committed to the Committee of the Courts of Justice. They reported it back with amendments on June uth, when it was ordered engrossed, and passed. This is printed from the draft in Jefferson's handwriting, the act as adopted being in the Sessions Acts for May, 1779, and in Hening, x, 60. Another bill dealing with this matter is in the Report of the Revisers, p. 22.
of either part had all the rights of natural born subjects in the other, & so might lawfully take & hold real property, and transmit the same by descent to their heirs in fee simple, which could not be done by mere aliens; and the inhabitants on each part had accordingly acquired real property in the other : and in like manner had acquired personal property which by their common laws might be possessed by any other than an alien enemy & transmitted to executors & administrators : but when by the tyrannies of that prince, & the open hostilities committed by his armies & subjects inhabitants of the other parts of his dominions on the good people of the sd United States they are obliged to wage war in defense of their rights & finally to separate themselves from the rest of the British empire, to renounce all subjection to their common prince, and to become sovereign & independent states, the sd inhabitants of the other parts of the British empire become aliens & enemies to the sd states, & as such, incapable of holding the property real or personal so acquired therein & so much thereof as was within this commonwealth became by the laws vested in the commonwealth.
Nevertheless the General assembly, tho' provoked by the example of their enemies to a departure from that generosity which so honourably distinguishes the civilized nations of the present age, yet desirous to conduct themselves with moderation & temper, by an act passed at their session in the year 1777 took measures for preventing what had been the property of British subjects within this commonwealth from waste &.destruction, be putting the same into the hands & under the management of commissioners appointed for that purpose, that so it might be in their power, if reasonable at a future day, to restore to the former proprietors the full value thereof :
And whereas it is found that the sd property is liable to be lost, wasted & impaired without greater attention in the officers of government than is consistent with the discharge of their public duties and that from the advanced price at which the same would now sell, it may be most for the benefit of the former owners if the same should be restored to them hereafter, or to the public if not so restored, that the sale thereof should take place at this time, & the proceeds be lodged in the public treasury.
Be it therefore enacted by the General assembly that so much of the act before mentioned as may be supposed to have suspended the operation of the law of escheats & forfeitures shall be hereby repealed & that all the property, real & personal within this commonwealth belonging at this time to any British subject, or which did belong to any British subject at the time such escheat or forfeiture may have taken place, shall be deemed to be vested in the commonwealth, the sd real estate by way of escheat & the said personal estate by forfeiture.
The Governor with the advice of council so far as their information will enable them, & the commissioners of the tax within their several counties aided by their assessors shall forthwith institute proper proceedings of escheat & forfeiture for all such property real & personal in which they shall be advised and assisted by the several attornies for the commonwealth.
Where any office in the cases before mentioned shall be found for the commonwealth & returned to the General court, it shall remain there but one month for the claim of any pretending right to the estate, and if within that time no such claim be made, or being made if it be found & discussed for the commonwealth, the title of the owner to such estate real or personal shall be forever barred, but may be afterwards asserted as to the money proceeding from the sale thereof with equal force & advantage as might have been to the thing itself ; and such further proceedings shall be had for making sale, of the lands so found, in parcels not greater than 400 acres (to be described by the commissioners hereafter mentioned and measured & marked by metes & bounds by a surveyor where they shall think necessary) and of the other property, as in the cases of escheat & forfeiture; save only that the Governor with advice of council, for every such sale shall appoint two commissioners to superintend & control the proceedings of the sd escheators, which commissioners shall be sworn to use their best endeavors to have the estate to which their trust extends sold to the best advantage. The sd sales shall be for ready money to be paid to the Escheator, who shall retain thereof five per centum for his trouble. His certificate of such paiment in the case of lands, and of the person purchasing, to the register of the land office, shall entitle the