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title:“George Mason to Zachariah Johnston”
authors:George Mason
date written:1790-11-3

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:49 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Jan. 28, 2020, 3:15 a.m. UTC

Mason, George. "Letter to Zachariah Johnston." The Papers of George Mason. Vol. 3. Ed. A Rutland. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1970. 1208-10. Print.
Recipient's Copy, Owned by M. W. Paxton, Lexington, Va, 1969

George Mason to Zachariah Johnston (November 3, 1790)

Gunton-Hall Novemr. 3d: 1790.
After the very friendly Part, you were so obliging to take in Support of the Petition for removing the Court of Fairfax County from the Town of Alexandria to some Place near the Center of the County I am almost ashamed to trouble you again upon the same Subject. The benevolent Intention of the Assembly has, however, been frustrated, by the Justices of the Town-Faction, who have presumed to dispense with a positive Law, and are now using all the Arts of Misrepresentation and Falsehood, to obtain a Repeal of it. This has laid us under the Necessity of applying to the Legislature, to inforce their own Authority, by such Amendments to the former Act, as will compel the due Execution. The Matter is fully & truly stated in our Petition to this Session of Assembly with a Copy of our last Year's Petition annexed to it, and some other Documents, explanatory of the Proceedings of the County Corporation Courts; to which I beg Leave to refer you; and if you shall be of Opinion that the Grievances mentioned therein require Redress, I flatter myself, it will be favoured with your Support & Patronage; which it will stand in the greater need of; as I have Reason to believe both our County Members are in the Town-Interest; which is easily accounted for; when the general Inattention of the Country People, & the Distance most of them have to come to the Elections, is considered, and that the People of the Town are always upon the Spot, & ready to act in Concert; upon such Occasions; which Circumstances put it in the Power of the Town to decide Elections as it pleases, and deprive the Country people of having any Share in the Choice; so that in our present Situation, the County is, in Reallity, represented by the Town of Alexandria. And by the unfortunate, and ill-judged Clause in our Constitution of Government, investing the County Courts with the dangerous Power of filling up their own Vacancys, & encreasing their own Number, by new Nominations, the Alexandria Faction has now such a decided Majority upon the County Court Bench, as will naturally engender & perpetuate Party & Faction, corrupt and pervert the Administration of Justice, and enable them, without Fear of Controul or Punishment, to oppress the People; as hath already been done, in some Instances; which have called for, and obtained the Interposition of the Legislature, and this kind of undue Influence is continually gaining Strength, by the Power of appointing Militia Officers, Commissioners of the Tax, and other Money-Jobs. I believe such things are not merely peculiar to the Town of Alexandria; for if I am rightly informed, they had risen to such Height in the Town of Norfolk, as occasioned the effectual Interference of the Legislature, in Behalf of the People of the County, at the last Session of Assembly; and it is evident that similar Relief was at the same time, intended for the people of Fairfax County; tho' they have been juggled out of it, by the Means mentioned in their present Petition, for removing the Court House; to which there are near six hundred Subscribers; which is a large Majority of the People of the County; & among the Subscribers are most of the principal Gentlemen of the County. The Alexandrians boast that they have a great many more Names to their Petition for continueing it. By Threats to some, & Promises to others, they have it in their Power to influence many of the County People; the Town itself contains a good many Inhabitants; the Names of Boys & Children may be made Use of; they may also, from time to time, have had it signed by a great Number of Sailors, & other Itinerant People; and if these Means were insufficient, they have an inexhaustible Source, in the Fabrication of fictitious Names; and the Commissioners of the County Taxes, in Gratitude for their having been appointed directly contrary to Law, wou'd, I make no Doubt, lend their Attestation to any thing their Patrons required.
I am told, for I have not seen it, that some of the Justices of the Town-Faction have sent down to the Assembly a Peice called a Memorial containing some false & scandalous Reflections upon my Character, merely to gratify a Malevolence, for which I have given no other Cause, than endeavouring to rescue the People of the County from Oppression. You Sir have been a Witness to my Conduct & Character in the most dangerous & trying times; several other Gentlemen also still remain in the Assembly, with whom I have had the Honour of serving thro' great Part of the late Revolution; to such I dare boldly appeal, for a Refutation of such Calumny; but as our annual Elections have introduced a great Number of new Members, to whom I [was] not personally known, I confide in those Gentlemen, who have served long in the Assembly with me to do me that Justice, which they may think I Deserve.
I understand Colo. Monroe is a Candidate for the vacant Seat of o [ne of] our Members in the Senate of the United States. When Colo. Monr [oe was] in Congress, during the late War, I frequently corresponded with [him] upon public Affairs; and can truly say that I had great Cause to think him a Man of Integrity & Abilities, and firmly attached to his Country's Interest.
I am, with great Regard and Esteem Dear Sir, Your most obdt. Servt.

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