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SUIT BROUGHT BY INDIANA COMPANY.
have no doubt it will prove Mr. Hooe's projected new ferry not only unnecessary but productive of much injury and oppression to the people in its consequences, and calculated merely to serve a local job.
I am with great respect, dear Sir,
GEORGE MASON. Roger West, Esq:
Now upon the General Assembly in Richmond.'
The Indiana Company brought suit in the United States Court against Virginia, and the Assembly of 1792 pronounced upon the illegality of this proceeding. The committee, after quoting from the journal of the Assembly for June 9, 1779, to show that the claim had been already decided, passed the following resolution :
" That the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court of the United States does not and cannot extend to this case, it already having been decided on before a tribunal fully competent to its decision; that the State cannot be made a defendant in the said court, at the suit of any individual or individuals; and that the executive be requested to pursue such measures in this case, as may seem most conducive to the interest, honor, and dignity of this Commonwealth.”
The claim had been prosecuted by the company for twenty-nine years at an expense of over eighteen thousand dollars, and it involved a tract of country embracing nearly three millions of acres. Its final overthrow was a benefit both to Virginia and to the Union.
The opinion of Attorney-General Pratt, afterwards Lord Camden, to which George Mason refers, is doubtless the one given by him sustaining the claims made in 1757, by the upper House of the Maryland Assembly to the appointment of officers and the supervision of the acts of the lower
1 Mason Papers.
House. The upper House was the Council and consisted of the appointees and creatures of the proprietor, Lord Baltimore. The opinion of the English lawyer concluded with these words :
“The Upper House should take care how they admit encroachments of this kind, when they are supported by arguments drawn from the exercise of the like rights in the Commons here. The constitutions of the two assemblies differ fundamentally in many respects. Our House of Commons stands upon its own laws ; whereas Assemblies in the colonies are regulated by their respective charters, usages, and the common law of England, and will never be allowed to assume those which the House of Commons are justly entitled to here, upon principles that neither can nor must be applied to the colonies." }
Mr. John Hooe's proposed new ferry was to have been across the Occoquan River. And it seems, from the fact that it was not established, that George Mason's views controlled the action of the Assembly. It was in this year, 1791, that Colonel Mason wrote his last political paper. It relates to the division into Congressional districts. Virginia had been divided into ten districts by the act of 1788. Of these George Mason's district embraced the six counties of Prince William, Stafford, Loudoun, Fairfax, King George, and Fauquier. It is proposed, writes George Mason, at the next Assembly to lay off the State into twenty-one Congressional districts. “The five counties of Stafford, Prince William, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Fauquier (leaving out the county of King George, to be added to some of the lower counties) will now form two complete districts, and it will be attempted to make Fairfax and Loudoun compose one of these two districts; and Stafford, Prince William, and Fauquier compose the other district; by which means the substance of the right of suffrage, in electing members of Congress will be taken from the people of Fairfax, and the
VIRGINIA CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICTS.
name or shadow only left them.” He gives his reasons for believing that such a result will follow, and in a footnote states what he thinks is the real motive of the “ nefarious project." This was to secure the election of Richard Bland Lee, a Federalist. Colonel Mason's suggestion is that the three small counties, Stafford, Prince William, and Fairfax, should compose one district, and the two large counties, Loudoun and Fauquier, the other, as in the districts for the election of State senators, and in this way the small county of Fairfax would not lose its voice in the election, as would be the case if it was associated with a single, much larger county. In the following year, 1792, the Assembly in December, two months after George Mason's death, passed an act forming nineteen Congressional districts instead of the twenty-one anticipated. And the principle George Mason contended for seems to have been in some measure regarded. One district was formed of the large county of Loudoun with the two small ones of Fairfax and Prince William, while another district comprised the large county of Fauquier and the two small counties of Culpepper and Stafford. George Mason's paper, which was probably writ. ten to be circulated among the freeholders of his county, and to be used by its representatives in the Assembly, is full of dignity, and is a clear and logical presentation of his subject, basing its argument on the fundamental principles of free government which its author had so often expounded on greater occasions. But though the matter was not one affecting a continent or a commonwealth, it involved a political right and was therefore of value to the true patriot and statesman, and makes a not unfitting close to his public labors.
Colonel Mason's son John was still in Virginia, and some notes to him from his father written in December, 1791, bring to a conclusion the year's personal record for the subject of our memoir. 1 Hening's “Statutes," vol. xiii. Appendix v.
GUNSTON HALL, December 6, 1791. DEAR JOHN :
Having occasion to send the bearer, negro Charles, to Dr. Craik, I take the opportunity by him, of informing you that I expect my overseers, Green and Tugate, or one of them will go to Alexandria to-morrow or next day, in my little boat. I will direct them to apply to you, and you can let me know by them whether you have sold my wheat, &c. I have also to desire you will buy for me in town, upon the best terms you can for cash, and send me down by the overseers, in my boat, the articles per list on the other side. It will be best to have them ready for the overseers before they come up, that the boat may not be detained, and I will repay you the money for them when you return to Gunston. I forgot to ask you whether you had taken out for me (as I desired) from the Alexandria inspectors, the notes for my little Hunting Creek crop, of which I gave you a memorandum. If you have not pray take them out now, and bring them to me when you come to Gunston. Notes have not been issued for any of the said crop, except one hogshead, for which I gave Mitchell, the overseer an order.
Since you went away I have been reflecting upon the situation you are in with the ships you are now loading, and that if you don't get the tobacco speedily they may perhaps be stopped by the ice. Rather than you should incur this risk, I will ship you, on board of both, or either of your ships (besides the notes already delivered you), sixty-five hogsheads of tobacco, which I have by me, four of which are in Aquia, two at the Falls, and all the rest at Chickamuxon, Dumfries, Colchester, and Alexandria. Lindsay at Colchester owes me five hogsheads which he has told me were ready whenever I called for them.
If they are, and I will send to him to-day to know, you may have them also, as they may enable you to leave out the tobacco at Aquia or the Falls, as may best answer your purpose. If you find it necessary to take the tobacco I offer it will be proper to advise me of it without delay.
The reason I did not incline to ship this tobacco when I gave you the other notes, was that it is common, ordinary, light tobacco, and I was dubious of the quality answering the French market, now that the emulation among the individual manufacturers will occasion a demand for tobaccos of
TOBACCO SHIPPED TO FRANCE.
superior qualities, though considering the present low price and unpromising prospects here, I think I can hardly lose by shipping in French bottoms.
I am, dear John,
GUNSTON HALL, December 15, 1791.
12 o'clock. DEAR JOHN :
Your brother George having occasion to send to Alexandria, I take the opportunity of writing by his messenger, and wish to ear whether most of your long expected craft has arrived, and whether you have secured tobacco enough for both of your ships, &c. Thinking you would be glad to hear how your craft in Occoquan is going on, I sent this morning to know. Mr. Bayley writes me that the craft which took in tobacco from Colchester warehouse for you, a few days ago, got out of Occoquan yesterday, and he imagines is at Alexandria before this time ; and that another craft of yours, I presume that which went to Chickamuxon for my tobacco there, is now at the wharf at Colchester taking in 23 hhds. of my tobaccos and 5 hhds. shipped by Mr. Carter of “Nomini” and will go off this evening. The mercury is now at 40 degrees in Fahrenheit's thermometer, 8 degrees above the freezing point. If this weather holds another day it will certainly open all the creeks. Indeed I expect the creek at Dumfries will be open this afternoon, so that if the shippers of the craft do their duty, all your tobaccos from these warehouses will be up this week. About Christmas, or two or three days before, the winter's frost may probably set in, before which time I hope you may be able to get your ships loaded and down the river. After you have made your arrangements, with respect to my tobacco and got it on board the ships, give me the earliest information you can, that I may have my letters, &c., ready. You know it is my custom to enclose exact lists of the marked numbers and weights (gross, tare, and nett] of my tobacco, with the bills of lading.
Pray tell Mr. Wilson I am surprised at his not having sent a vessel for my wheat, being very anxious to have it taken away