In “A Caution to All Travellers to Philadelphia,” published in the Virginia Journal and Alexandria Advertiser on March 30, 1786, Philip Dalby, of Alexandria, complains that Quakers have sued for his slave’s freedom.
“A Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments,” anonymously authored by James Madison and published on or about June 20, 1785, argues against a resolution by the House of Delegates, adopted on November 11, 1784, to levy a so-called General Assessment to benefit all Christian sects, including dissenters against the established Church of England. The resolution excited such opposition, and petitions like Madison’s such support, that Madison was emboldened to reintroduce Thomas Jefferson‘s Bill for Establishing Religious Freedom, which passed the General Assembly on January 16, 1786.
In this excerpt from the diary he kept for more than twenty-five years, Landon Carter notes that several of his slaves have run away following a proclamation by the royal governor, John Murray, Earl of Dunmore, promising freedom to slaves who joined British forces during the American Revolution (1775–1783). Carter repeatedly voices his dislike for Patrick Henry and his belief that he (Carter), and not Henry, had taken the lead in opposing the Stamp Act (1765). Finally, he gives evidence of strained relations at home with his son and wife, and brags of his abilities as a physician.
In this account, dated November 14, 1788, and published in the January 1789 issue of American Museum, or Universal Magazine, Dr. Benjamin Rush describes the life and mathematical feats of Thomas Fuller, an enslaved man living near Alexandria.
In “An ACT concerning patrols,” passed on January 16, 1801, the General Assembly explicitly empowered local magistrates to send out patrols, making special mention of Petersburg and Fredericksburg. This came in wake of Gabriel’s Conspiracy (1800).
In “An Act declaring tenants of lands or slaves in taille to hold the same in fee simple,” passed in the October 1776 session of the General Assembly, legislators abolish the feudal English property rule of entail, which protected land from answering any debts accumulated by spendthrift offspring. Thomas Jefferson complained in his Autobiography that the result of this and primogeniture, or automatically passing inheritances to the eldest son, was the “accumulation and perpetuation of wealth, in select families.” As part of his attempt at a comprehensive legal reform, he authored this bill.
In “An act for regulating conveyances,” passed in the October 1785 session of the General Assembly, legislators clarify the means by which land is transferred. Among other things, the act abolished the feudal English property rule of primogeniture, which automatically passed inheritances to the eldest son. Thomas Jefferson complained in his Autobiography that the result of this and entail, which protected land from answering any debts accumulated by spendthrift offspring, was the “accumulation and perpetuation of wealth, in select families.” As part of his attempt at a comprehensive legal reform, he authored the original version of this bill.