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1 November 16th.
Virginia Convention.--The committees having chiefly reported, “the tug of war” between the ‘old lights’ and the new has commenced; and the question is to be settled whether trees and stones, and arbitrary divisions of land, with almost as senseless herds of black slaves, or the free, tax-paying inhabitants of the State, shall have political power. Very important events will grow out of this convention, and their effect will not be confined to Virginia. We hope and believe, that the free white population of the State will be adopted as the basis of representation in the popular branch of the Legislature — indeed, it cannot be popular without it; but perhaps the Senate may be apportioned according to “ federal numbers,” in which three-fifths of the slaves are counted. If the latter may stand as a peace-offering to the departing power of the old lights, we would let them have it — in a few years, under a liberal Constitution, the free population of middle and western Virginia will be so increased, that the power in the Senate, derived from slaves, will not be injuriously felt. And then will the tacticians, who have kept Virginia back half a century, compared with New York and Pennsylvania, disappear, and give place to practical men-then will roads and canals be made, domestic manufactures encouraged, and a free and virtuous and laborious people give wealth and power and security to the commonwealth — the “old families,” as they are called — persons much partaking of the character of the old nobility of France, imbecile and incorrigible — pass away, and a healthful and happy, bold and intelligent middle class rise up to sweeten and invigorate society, by rendering labor honorable; and Richmond will not any longer be all Virginia, as a distinguished gentleman used to proclaim, in matters of politics or policy. The moral effects of these things over the slave population of Virginia, and in the adjacent States, are hardly to be calculated. The presence of numerous slaves is incompatible with that of a numerous free population; and it is shown that the labor of the latter, in all the important operations of agriculture or the arts, except the cultivation of cotton, sugar, tobacco, and rice (as at present carried on), is the cheapest and the best. And in truth, it would not perhaps be straining the facts too far, to express an opinion, that the greatest question before the Virginia convention is, the perpetual duration of negro slavery, or the increase of a generous and free white population.
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