previous next

General Assembly of Virginia.

The representative body of Virginia as she is, since her dismemberment by the withdrawal from her authority of the main part of her western territory, met in the capitol, in this city, on Monday last. We present a brief outline of its most important proceedings to the present time, in order that the Dispatch file may give a full history of the doings of the body. It has some most important subjects for deliberation, and its action upon them is regarded with very great anxiety.

Monday, December 4.

--In the Senate, upon the calling of the roll by Mr. R. F. Walker, Clerk of the last session, it appeared that there were twenty-four Senators present; absent, nine. In the absence of Lieutenant-Governor Leopold P. C. Cowper, on motion of Mr. Mercier, of Loudoun, Mr. Robinson, of Norfolk, was chosen Speaker pro tempore.

Shelton C. Davis, for many years Clerk of the Senate, was again elected unanimously to that position upon his nomination by Mr. Gilmer, of this city.

Wm. Wirt Harrison, of this city, was elected Sergeant-at-Arms over several competitors, including Messrs. Alexander Thompson and J. A. Jordan, who formerly held the office.

Mr. August Rosen, of this city, was elected Doorkeeper.

Mr. James E. Goode was elected Public Printer over Mr. J. W. Lewellen. [Mr. Goode has been printer to the Senate since the death of the late John Warrock until the last session.]

After interchanging with the House messages of readiness to proceed to business and informing the Governor of the organization of the Assembly, the annual message of the Executive was received by the Secretary of the Commonwealth, and, being read, was ordered to be printed.

On motion of Mr. Coleman, of Louisa, a resolution was adopted inquiring into the expediency of authorizing the Central railroad to borrow money to repair its roadway, etc.

The Senate transacted no other business.

Monday, December 4.--In the House of Delegates, there was a full meeting of members--ninety (nine-tenths of the body) answering to their names.

Mr. John Bell Bigger, of this city, was elected Clerk of the House by a vote of forty-eight to forty-four, over Mr. Gordon, the former clerk.

Mr. John B. Baldwin, of Augusta, was elected Speaker by a vote of 49 to 42 over F. N. Watkins, of Prince Edward.

On taking the chair, Mr. Baldwin delivered an address, which is remarkable for its pith and brevity and the wide contrast between it and all addresses from the Chair heretofore. In this brief resume of the doings of the Legislature we find room for it bodily. Mr. Baldwin said:

‘ "Gentlemen,--The best evidence I can give you of the appreciation of the honor conferred upon me is to enter at once upon the earnest and honest discharge of its duties. The House will come to order."

Mr. R. W. Burke, of Augusta, was elected Sergeant-at-Arms; and Messrs. Keblinger, of Albemarle, and George Wilson, Jr., were elected First and Second Doorkeepers.

The Executive Message was received and ordered to be printed.

Mr. Grattan introduced a bill to amend the third article of the Alexandria Constitution (under which we now live), as authorized by the people by their recent vote.

The subject of amending the vagrant laws so as to suit the present condition of things was introduced by Mr. Garnett, of Essex, and referred.

Petitions were presented touching the case of Berkeley and Jefferson counties, now claimed by the Governor, Boreman, of West Virginia as belonging to that State, but which protest that they are a part of Old Virginia. The subject was referred to the Judiciary Committee by a proposition from Mr. Woodson, of Rockingham, for repealing the law ceding those counties to West Virginia. No other business was transacted.

Tuesday, December 5.
--In the Senate, a bill was introduced amending the third article of the Constitution — the same as that introduced by Mr. Grattan, in the House, Monday. Mr. Robinson reported a bill to incorporate the Norfolk City railroad. A bill was unanimously passed rescinding the acts of 13th of May, 1862, and 31st of January, 1863, consenting to the transfer from this State to the State of West Virginia of the counties of Jefferson and Berkeley, and the said counties were declared a part of this State and under its authority. This act had previously passed the House with the same unanimity. On motion of Mr. Galt, a committee was ordered to consider the subject of immigration, and how it may be encouraged.

In the House, the act, above referred to, relating to Jefferson and Berkeley counties was passed. On motion of Mr. Grattan a writ of election was ordered to supply the vacancy in the House of Delegates from this city occasioned by the death of L. Tazewell. On motion of Mr. Dickinson, inquiry was ordered as to the expediency of amending the stay law so as to obviate the necessity of giving notice, and to allow only interest, with one-fourth of the principal, to be collected per annum; and a further inquiry was ordered, on motion of Mr. Braxton, into the expediency of suspending all legal proceedings for the collection of debts for a limited period. On motion of Mr. Grattan, ordered that inquiry be made as to the expediency of amending the charter of the city of Richmond; also, as to allowing the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad Company to borrow money for repairs; also, for incorporating a new insurance company--J. Alfred Jones, Wellington Goddin, Thomas, W. McCance and others, corporators. Mr. Daniel, of Prince George, got leave to bring in a bill incorporating the Petersburg Iron Company. The Governor's Message was properly referred, and the House adjourned.

Wednesday, December 6.--In the Senate, a number of resolutions of inquiry as to the expediency of a great many propositions were agreed to. We notice a few of special interest, viz: By Mr. Gilmer --For incorporating the National Express and Transportation Company; for increasing the capital stock of the Richmond and Fredericksburg Railroad Company; for authorising the Board of Public Works to revise the tariff of fares on railroads and canals. By Mr. Cabell--For enacting a vagrant law, and for more effectually preventing burglary and larceny. By Mr. Bolling, of Petersburg — For funding the interest on the public debt, and permitting the conversion of registered bonds into coupon bounds. By Mr. McRae--For authorizing the trustees of the town of Manchester to construct a bridge across James river at Richmond.

Mr. Dulaney, of Fairfax, offered a resolution for a joint committee to consider what action is proper to express the sense of the Legislature as to the release of Mr. Davis, President of the late Confederacy, and for the restoration of the writ of habeas corpus, &c. The resolution, under the rule, was laid over for one day.

In the course of the day the Senate took two recesses; appointed G. A. Jordon (former Sergeant-at-Arms) Second Doorkeeper, and adjourned over till Friday, to observe the day of thanksgiving, ordered by President Johnson.

In the House, on Wednesday, the bill from the Senate amending the third article of the Constitution was taken up for consideration, and Mr. Graves, of Madison, offered a substitute for it, which, after some discussion, was, together with the bill itself, referred to the Committee of Courts of Justice.

The House was then deluged, as is the custom in the first days of the sessions of our Virginia Assembly, with resolutions. Under the practice of the Legislature, these resolutions always inquire into the expediency of measures proposed, and are referred to the proper committees. Among them were the following: For an enabling act to legalize the proceedings of courts of justice during the war; for repealing the act of 14th and 15th May, 1862, prescribing oaths in certain cases. By Mr. Stearns--For carrying out the recommendation of the Governor relative to schools and colleges. By Mr. Garett --For the assumption by Virginia of the debt due by the people of the State under the act of Congress of May, 1861. By Mr. Wood --For incorporating the National Express Company. By Mr. Scott --For organizing a military force for police duty in the counties. By Mr. Bentley--For reducing the tax on merchants' license. By Mr. Martin--For some relief to the citizens who have lost all they possessed (save their lands) in the war, and who are involved in debts they cannot pay.

On motion of Mr. Kelley, a special committee was ordered to inquire into the amount of property of private citizens of this Commonwealth taken or destroyed by the armies of the late Confederacy and the United States respectively. [Rather a heavy job. For what good at this time, it is hard to see.]

Mr. Ellis, of Norfolk, introduced a bill ratifying the amendment of the Constitution proposed by Congress for the abolition of slavery.

The House adjourned over to Friday, under the order of President Johnson making Thursday a day of thanksgiving, &c.

During the day the standing committees of the House were announced.


Friday, December 8, 1865.
The Senate met at the usual hour, Lieutenant-Governor Cowper in the chair. Prayer by Dr. Price.

A message was received from the House of Delegates, asking concurrence in joint resolution to appoint a joint committee to consider that part of the Governor's message which relates to a public printer.

The proposed rules of the Senate were taken up and read by the Clerk and adopted.

Mr. Lee, of Orange, offered a joint resolution to appoint a joint committee of five on the part of the Senate, and ten on the part of the House, to confer with the Superintendent of the Freedmen's Bureau in reference to the restoration of domestic tranquillity and the withdrawal of United States troops. Passed. Committee appointed and House informed of action by the Senate.

The Chair read his appointment of the standing committees.

The proposed amendment to the third article of the Constitution of Virginia was returned from the House of Delegates amended by striking out section first, article third: No person shall hold any office under this Constitution who has held any office under the Confederate Government or State while in rebellion. Section second, inserting: The General Assembly retains to itself the power to alter all provisions in said third article.

The amendment of the House, after a long debate, was adopted--fourteen to thirteen.

A message from the House of Delegates, to the effect that, with the concurrence of the Senate, they will, on Tuesday next, proceed to the election of Secretary of the Commonwealth, First Auditor, Second Auditor and Treasurer. The Senate amended by fixing the day at Thursday, 21st instant.

A joint resolution was adopted appointing three Senators to confer with three members of the House, in joint committee, to consider what encouragement it is proper for the State to give to immigration.

Mr. Gilmer, of Richmond, offered a bill to increase the capital stock of the Richmond and Fredericksburg railroad. Referred to Committee on Roads.

Mr. Trout, of Pendleton, offered a petition from Pendleton county to be restored to Virginia.

A message from the House, asking concurrence in a bill in reference to the Richmond and Petersburg railroad, was referred to the appropriate committee.

A message from the House of Delegates, asking the appointment of a joint committee of three on the part of the Senate and seven on the part of the House, to consider that part of the Governor's message concerning oysters and the oyster trade, was amended by the Senate making the committee six on the part of the Senate and twelve on the part of the House.

On motion, the Senate adjourned.

House of Delegates.

Prayer by Rev. Mr. Price, of the Third Presbyterian Church.

Third article of the Constitution.

Mr. Joynes, from the Committee on Courts of Justice, reported back Senate bill to amend the third article of the Constitution, with the following amendment;

Strike out all after the preamble and insert in lieu thereof the following:

  1. 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia, That the first section of the said third article of the Constitution be amended by striking therefrom the following words: "No person shall hold any office under this Constitution who shall not have taken and subscribed to the oath aforesaid. But no person shall vote or hold office under this Constitution who has held office under the so-called Confederate Government, or under any State Legislature in rebellion against the authority of the United States, excepting there from county officers."
  2. 2. The General Assembly retains to itself the power to alter or amend all other provisions of the said third article.
  3. 3. This shall be in force from its passage.
The amendment was adopted, and the bill, as amended, read a third time and passed, and ordered to be sent to the Senate.

E. M. T. Hunter — Pardons.

The select committee to whom had been referred the resolution relative to the pardon of Mr. R. M. T. Hunter reported the following:

‘ Whereas the people of Virginia are invited by the President of the United States to unite at this time in giving thanks to Almighty God for the return of peace and the restoration of the ancient relations between the Government of the United States and themselves — relations which it is desirable should be universal and without exception of individuals; and whereas observation and experience have impressed the members of this General Assembly with the conviction that the more liberal exercise of executive clemency is the surest and speediest means of overcoming estrangements and re-awakening those sentiments of attachment and devotion in which a government based on the consent of the governed will always find its best support and strongest defence; and whereas in the stricken and prostrate condition of this Commonwealth, it is of vital importance that all of her citizens who, from experience in public offices, and from the influence they command, are capable of aiding in her resuscitation, should be relieved from such disabilities as impair their capacity for usefulness;

’ And whereas we recognize among such citizens Mr. R. M. T. Hunter and Robert D. Montague, whose purpose to conform faithfully to the requirements of the Government, and to give a sincere support to those who direct its affairs and administer its laws, we have entire confidence; therefore be it.

Resolved by the General Assembly of Virginia. That His Excellency Andrew Johnson, President of the United States, be earnestly and respectfully requested to grant to Mr. Hunter and Mr. Montague a full and free pardon, restoring them, to all the rights and privileges of citizens of the United States; and that His Excellency Governor Peirpoint communicate these proceedings to the President of the United States.

Mr. Graham, of Rockbridge, moved to insert the names of Messrs. Smith and Letcher.

After discussion the following amendment was offered by Mr. Gibboney, of Wythe, and agreed to; and, as amended, the joint resolution was passed:

‘ Strike out all in the preamble having reference to Messrs. Hunter and Montague, and all after "resolved," and insert, "That the President be earnestly requested to grant a general pardon to all citizens of Virginia requiring Executive clemency under existing laws of the United States."

Mr. Hurst, of Norfolk county, offered the following, which was laid upon the table:

Whereas it is currently reported and generally believed that the celebrated Hudibrastic General B. F. Butler is about to take charge of this military department, with powers extraordinary; therefore.

Resolved, That whatever money may remain in the State Treasury be immediately divided among the widows and orphans of deceased soldiers, and couriers be dispatched to the various counties, requesting the people to secrete or bury their plate.

Mr. Clarke, of Campbell, offered a resolution, which was agreed to, that the Committee on Courts of Justice be instructed to inquire into the expediency of restricting the right of suffrage to a property qualification.

Mr. Grattan, of Richmond, offered a resolution, which was agreed to, that the resolution adopted on the 5th instant, directing the Speaker of the House to issue a writ of election to supply the vacancy occasioned by the death of Littleton Tazewell, a delegate elect from the city of Richmond, and fixing Tuesday, the 12th instant, as the day of election, be rescinded; and that the Speaker be directed to issue a writ of election for the purpose aforesaid.

By Mr. Clark, of Campbell — A resolution of inquiry into the expediency of establishing negro poor-houses in each county of the State, and levying a capitation tax on the negroes to support the paupers in the county wherein they reside. Agreed to

By Mr. Clark--A resolution that the Committee on Courts of Justice be instructed to inquire into the expediency of abolishing the Board of Public Works.

By Mr. Smith, of Williamsburg — A resolution that the Committee of Grievances inquire into the expediency of removing all the negroes now located in the counties of Williamsburg and York, Warwick and Elizabeth city, that did not live there before the war, back to the cities and counties of the State where they belonged originally. Agreed to.

By Mr. Holmes, of Southampton — A resolution of inquiry in relation to an order by the Legislature for a re-assessment of the land of the State. Agreed to.

By Mr. Straughan, of Northumberland — A resolution calling on the Auditor of Public Accounts for a tabular statement of the taxes of the State for 1860 in real estate, slaves, &c., and a similar statement showing the amount of taxes assessed and collected in the several counties and towns now constituting West Virginia. Agreed to.

Mr. Watkins, of Prince Edward, offered a resolution that, the Senate concurring, the General Assembly will proceed to elect a Secretary of the Commonwealth, a First Auditor and a Second Auditor and Treasurer of the Commonwealth on Tuesday next.

Motions by Mr. Pendleton, of Giles, to amend by inserting "and Public Printer," and by Mr. Kilby, to change the day to Thursday, were rejected and the resolution agreed to.

By Mr. Davis, of Louisa — A resolution that the Committee on Courts of Justice consider the expediency of authorizing the county courts to appoint a sufficient police, with power to preserve order, suppress improper assemblages for mischievous purposes and prevent vagrancy, and report at an early day. Agreed to.

By Mr. Teeter, of Washington — A resolution of inquiry relative to providing a more efficient common school system.

By Mr. Garnett, of Essex — A resolution referring to the Committee of Finance so much of the Governor's message as refers to settlement of accounts between the Commonwealth of Virginia and West Virginia.

The bill to incorporate the Petersburg Iron Company was taken up, considered, and, the rule being suspended, passed.

By Mr. Clark--A resolution that the Committee on Internal Improvements inquire in to the expediency of authorizing the Richmond and Danville Railroad Company to issue their bonds to an amount not exceeding $500,000, for the purpose of improving their road. Agreed to.

On motion of Mr. Geattan, the House bill authorizing the Richmond and Petersburg Railroad Company to issue their coupon bonds for an amount not exceeding $175,000, for rebuilding their road, &c., was taken up, and the rules being suspended, was passed.

Senate joint resolution for the appointment of a joint committee to confer with the Superintendent of the Freedmen's Bureau was taken up and passed.

Notice of a number of resolutions of inquiry, memorials, &c., which must be acted on by the committees to which they are referred to acquire importance, is omitted.

On motion by Mr. White, the House, at half-past 2 o'clock P. M., adjourned.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Dates (automatically extracted)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: