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[349] was an eminent lawyer and a very large landed proprietor, and was the author of ‘Mercer's Abridgment of the Laws of Virginia.’ A folio volume containing entries of all his landed property, its bounds and limits, when purchased and when sold, entered in his own neat, and regular hand, is still preserved.

James Mercer Garnett was educated at home, receiving the liberal private education customary in Virginia at that time. He married on September 21st, 1793, his first cousin, Mary Eleanor Dick Mercer, only daughter of Judge James Mercer, of Fredericksburg, and his wife, Eleanor Dick, daughter of Major Charles Dick, of Scottish parentage and of Revolutionary fame. James Mercer, after whom his nephew was named, was the fifth son and sixth child of the above mentioned John Mercer, of Marlborough, and his first wife, Catharine Mason, aunt of the distinguished statesman, George Mason, of Gunston Hall, Fairfax county, who wrote the Declaration of Rights and the first Constitution of Virginia, and is so well known in the early history of the State. James Mercer graduated at William and Mary College, was a member of the House of Burgesses of Virginia, of all the Virginia Conventions of the day, of the Virginia Committee of Safety that governed the State in 1775-76 until the inauguration of Patrick Henry as first Governor, July I, 1776; he was also a member of the Continental Congress in 1779-80. He was appointed a judge of the General Court in 1780, and a judge of the Court of Appeals of five judges in 1789, in which year he was also appointed one of the revisors of the laws of Virginia. He was the father of General Charles Fenton Mercer, of Aldie, Loudoun county, who was a member of the Virginia Legislature, 1810-17, except while in military service during the war of 1812, of the United States Congress, 1817-39, of the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1829-30 and was the first President of the Chesapeake & Ohio canal.

The following is a brief record of the official life of James Mercer Garnett as far as it can be traced. I have been informed that he was a member of the Virginia Legislature of 1798-99, and that he voted for the celebrated resolutions of that session denouncing the alien and sedition acts; but I think it is more probable that he was a member during the following session and voted for the adoption of Mr. Madison's report on those resolutions. Mr. Madison, the father of the resolutions, consulted often with Colonel John Taylor, of Caroline county, and Mr. Garnett, the intimate friend of Colonel Taylor, frequently participated in those consultations, which were often held in Mr. Garnett's room.

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