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the terms contained in the act of Congress of the thirteenth September last : Provided that lands be reserved out of these hereby proposed to be ceded sufficient to make good the several military bounties agreed to be given to sundry officers by resolutions of both Houses of Assembly : the lands hitherto reserved being insufficient for that purpose."
And on the 15th Joseph Jones presented a bill in accordance with this resolution. This cession was accepted by Congress and, as Hinsdale says in his able work on this subject, it ended the long struggle between Virginia and the States in Congress opposed to her rights, leaving Virginia substantially victorious. She retained, as she had desired, the lands now forming the States of Kentucky and West Virginia, “the territory south-east of the Ohio, the sole question at issue.". In the interests of peace and union, Virginia had made a generous gift to the Confederacy. She parted with two hundred and seventy thousand, five hundred and fifty square miles of territory, which by its sale since to private individuals has enriched the Federal treasury to the extent of more than a hundred million of dollars.' George Mason, as has been seen, first sketched the terms of this cession, and by his influence, in and out of the Assembly, aided in securing its adoption by his State.
What Colonel Mason thought of the measures of the Assembly at this session we learn through a letter from Madison to Jefferson, written after his return from Congress then sitting at Annapolis:
ORANGE, December roth, 1783.
“I took Col. Mason in my way, and had an evening's conversation with him. I found him much less opposed to the general impost than I expected. Indeed he disclaimed all opposition
Journal of the Assembly. *“ The Old Northwest,” p. 245. A part of this territory was torn from Virginia, in direct violation of the Constitution, and erected into a new State, within our own time.
Bill introduced into the Virginia Assembly, February, 1888.
to the measure itself, but had taken up a vague apprehension, that, if adopted at this crisis, it might embarrass the defence of our trade against British machinations. He seemed, upon the whole, to acquiesce in the territorial cession, but dwelt much on the expediency of the guaranty. On the article of a convention for revising our form of State government, he was sound and ripe, and, I think would not decline a participation in the work. His heterodoxy lay chiefly in being too little impressed with either the necessity or the proper means of preserving the Confederacy."?
Jefferson wrote to Madison from Annapolis on the following day, making anxious inquiries as to the sentiments of the recluse at “Gunston"
“Gunston" on the subject of the State Constitution :
“ You have seen G. M. I hope, and had much conversation with him. What are his sentiments as to the amendment of our constitution ? What amendments would he oppose? Is he determined to sleep on, or will he rouse and be active ? I wish to hear from you on this subject.”
His compatriots were all desirous to know George Mason's views, and to see him back again in public life. Joseph Jones wrote to Jefferson on the 29th of December in regard to the British debt question and other important subjects that would come before the Assembly at its next session. And he feared the abilities of this body would not be equal to the trust: “Madison's aid I think we may depend on"; he adds, "perhaps old Mr. G. Mason's, as the business of the land offices requires revision, and his apprehensions on that subject, if nothing else, may draw him from his retirement.”
Washington resigned his commission in December, and left Annapolis in time to reach “ Mount Vernon ” Christmas
From a young lady's letter, Miss Lewis of FredericksMadison Papers," vol. i., p. 579. * Bancroft's “ History of the Constitution," vol. i., p. 335, Appendix. 3 “ Letters of Joseph Jones," p. 137.
CHRISTMAS-DAY IN 1783.
burg, probably the daughter of Colonel Fielding Lewis, General Washington's brother-in-law, we obtain a lively picture of the home-coming of the chief and the attendant festivities. And the foremost figure among the guests was Colonel Mason, whose appearance is pleasantly portrayed by the pen of his fair young admirer : :
" I must tell you what a charming day I spent at Mount Vernon with Mama and Sally. The general and madame came home on Christmas Eve, and such a racket the servants made, for they were glad of their coming! Three handsome young officers came with them. All Christmas afternoon people came to pay their respects and duty. Among them were stately dames and gay young women. The general seemed very happy, and Mistress Washington was busy from daybreak making everything as agreeable as possible for everybody. Among the most notable of the callers was Mr. George Mason, of Gunston Hall, who was on his way home from Alexandria, and who brought a charming granddaughter with him, about fourteen years old. He is said to be one of the greatest statesmen and wisest men in Virginia. We had heard much of him and were delighted to look in his face, hear him speak, and take his hand, which he offered in a courtly manner. He is straight in figure but not tall, and has a grand head and clear gray eyes. He has few white hairs, though they say he is about sixty years
VIRGINIA'S COMPACT WITH MARYLAND.
The following letter, found among Monroe's papers,' is believed to have been written by him to George Mason, to whom the younger statesman had applied for advice on the several important public questions before the country. Monroe was at this time in Congress at Annapolis:
“ ANNAPOLIS, February, 1784. “ DEAR SIR :
"Your favor of the 5th ultimo did not reach me till a few days since from the difficulty the severity of the season hath created in passage of the rivers. I am particularly happy to receive it as it promises to me, in the office which I hold, the aid of your age, judgment and experience. I have paid great attention to your reasoning, and think that in two instances, viz., the peace establishment and the seat for the residence of Congress, it is conclusive. If no European power had possessions on the continent I should suppose the idea of a standing army would never have been brought upon the carpet. The Indian incursions or trade, as you observe, would more regularly come within the cognizance of the State exposed or to derive advantage from it. But the possessions of these powers, and particularly of Great Britain, is a matter of more serious import. The impolicy of New York hath already thrown a considerable body of people into Nova Scotia ; and Canada, in tracts at present uninhabited, is certainly capable
· Evidently the rough, first draft of the letter sent to his correspondent. There was some doubt at first as to its authorship, but Mr. Bancroft, to whom the MS. was shown, pronounced it unmistakably Monroe's handwriting.
JAMES MONROE TO GEORGE MASON.
of maintaining extensive settlements. Many European countries, in a higher northern latitude, are thickly settled, and the lands of Canada are perhaps richer than those of the Swiss Cantons, Denmark, Sweden or Russia. These provinces are also well timbered, and at the same time that the inhabitants promise to be an hardy and robust race of men give them all the advantages from their situation of a nursery for seamen, dock-yards for building ships and a share in our carrying business.
“ The court of London hath turned its attention to the Indies, proposing to attempt such arrangements as may compensate to the nation the loss of America. But what can Great Britain promise [herself] from the Indies which she doth not now possess. If colonies are established upon the footing we lately stood, and emigration is encouraged, how long will they be connected with the parent country? And will not such establishments which take the Indies out of the Company induce the necessity of standing armies and respectable fleets to prevent insurrection, and turn the tide of commerce into the bosom of the parent country, and will not this expense be thrown upon the state ? And as the climate suits a despotic government, and the general in command may be popular with his troops, is it not rational to suspect he will seek the sovereignty himself? If these questions could be answered in the negative, I think it will be granted that the possession of India will only prove a commercial advantage. The inhabitants of these provinces will have but little attatchment to the parent country, and will personally be never brought to add to its number or increase its strength in any European operation, While this trade and government are in the possession of a company, the nation is free from the expense of these troops or fleets. Considering therefore all the relative circumstances, I think it a doubtful question whether this change would be of public advantage, while most certainly it would prove very materially injurious to the Crown. The Crown now has the advantage of the sale occasionally of the renewal of the charter to the Company, and of this it would of course be deprived. I think therefore the conclusion just that the monopoly of the trade and expense of the government will remain with the Company, and that any arrangement the court of London may make with respect to that country will only tend to create dependants on the Crown and