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title:“George Mason to Richard Henry Lee”
authors:George Mason
date written:1779-6-19

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:34 a.m. UTC
retrieved:April 19, 2024, 12:17 p.m. UTC

Mason, George. "Letter to Richard Henry Lee." The Papers of George Mason. Vol. 2. Ed. Robert A. Rutland. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1970. 522-24. Print.
Recipient's Copy, Lee Papers, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.

George Mason to Richard Henry Lee (June 19, 1779)

Wmsburg June 19th: 1779.
Colo. Loyota, coming to pay you a Visit at Chantilly, gives me an Opportunity of informing you, not of the News, but of the Dearth of News at this place. All our pleasing Accounts from Charles Town, I fear, are vanished into nothing, at least nothing that can be depended on. The great Business of the Legislature goes on heavily, the members inattentive, tired, & restless to get away: in this Situation of things, you well know what sort of Investigation the most important Subjects are likely to have, & that Reason & sound Argument will have little Avail. The Indiana Company's Title, after two or three Days Debate, & every Effort, within & without Doors, to support it, is rejected; and an Act passed, in the most explicite Terms, firmly asserting the Commonwealth's exclusive Right of Pre-emption from the Indian's, within our own Territory, declaring that all Deeds or Cessions heretofore made to the Crown shall inure to the Use & Benefit of the Commonwealth, & that all Deeds which have been or shall be made by the Indians, for the seperate Use or Benefit of any Person or Persons whatsoever, are void & of no Effect.
The Land Office Bill, upon very proper Principles, and a Bill for setling the Titles of Claimers under the former Government, have passed the House of Delegates, & are now before the Senate; what Alterations they may undergo I know not; but some to the latter Bill, made Yesterday in the Committee by the Senate, at the Instance of their Speaker, are very absurd & unjust; they are to be reported to-morrow, & as the old Bruiser will then have his Mouth shut in the Chair, perhaps they may be set right. My Charter Rights, I believe, will be established, & my Locations preserved to me, upon resurveying the same Lands, that is, upon putting a considerable Sum of Money out of my Pocket into the County Surveyors; for the State will not gain a Copper by it: our Friend B [raxto] n, & some others did everything they cou'd to invalidate them. The Ohio Company were not permitted a special Investigation of their claim, obliged to submit to the Description in a general Bill, & thus in Fact denied a Hearing; & yet every Attempt, that Art or Cunning cou'd suggest, [was] made to introduce particular words to exclude them. I have spared no Trouble, nor omitted any thing in my Power, to procure them Justice; the only chance now left, is to get their Claim referred to the Court of Appeals, & to preserve to them the right of their Location, by Resurveying the same Lands, if their Claim shall be established upon a Hearing before the said Court; & in this I have still Hopes of succeeding; two Days more will determine it. The principal Bills still before our House are upon the Subjects of the Militia, Invasion or Insurrection, raising Troops for the imediate Defence of the Commonwealth, selling the real & personal Estates of British Subjects & lodging the proceeds in the public Treasury subject to the further order of the General Assembly, Naturalization, ascertaining the Damage done by the Enemie on private property that compensation may in due time be demanded or levyed by exclusive Duties on the British Trade with us at any time hereafter, on the Mode of proving Book Debts & discouraging extensive Credits, & on the more effectual Manner of supplying our Troops with the Articles necessary for their comfortable Accommodation & preventing Embezlement; most of these Bills now stand committed, whether the House will have patience to go thro' them all is uncertain; I fear not; many members declaring that they will stay no longer than next Saturday, at all Events, & some that they will go away sooner: we shou'd not have had a House now, but for a little Piece of Generalship I got our Friend Mr. Page to undertake, procuring an order that the Clerk shou'd grant no Certificate to any Member for his wages until the Assembly shou'd have adjourned; unless upon Leave of Absence: some of the Fellows threat'ned, and kick'd, & strugled; but can't loosen the Knot. We are endeavouring to digest a Scheme for laying a Tax in specific Commodities; which I think will have more Effect, in preventing the further Depreciation of our Money, than every thing we have done, or can do besides.
We have had Mr. Penet & Compy's Memorial—several Days before a select Committee, the members of which seem well inclined to encourage so important an Undertaking; if this can properly be said of Men who are too indolent to attend to any thing; the Committee have met, or rather failed to meet, at my Lodgings, every Morning & Evening for this Fortnight; Ballendine has got Possession of the Key to the Navigation of James River, & is acting exactly the Part of the Dog in the Manger. I am very uneasy about it, & fearful nothing decisive will be done, & the Gentlemen left in Doubt, & Disgust.
I have got pretty well over my late Fit of the Gout; but remain in a very indifferent State of Health, to which Vexation has not a little contributed.
I had almost forgot to inform you of our new Election of Members to Congress; it is indeed a disagreeable Subject; for in my Opinion (except our late Governor, who I hardly think will serve, & Gabriel Jones) we never had so bad one: I inclose you a List of them; & I think you will hardly blame me for taking care, in time, to keep out of such Company: I beg to be kindly remembered to our Friend Parker; and am, with my Compliments to your Lady & Family, Dear Sir, Yr. affecte. Friend & Servt.

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