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General Assembly of Virginia.


Tuesday, December 19, 1865.
The Senate met at the usual hour. There was no prayer this morning. Dr. Duncan, the chaplain for the week, failed again to come, and the lambs of the flock of the Senate of Virginia went without prayers.

On motion of Mr. Lee, of Orange, the following bill was called up:

‘ "A bill to Repeal all Acts and Parts of Acts Heretofore passed and now in Existence in Relation to the Status of Slaves and free negroes, and to Legalize to Legalize the Testimony of Freedmen.

  1. "1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia, That all acts and parts of acts heretofore passed, and now in force by reason of any previous legislation of Virginia, in relation to slavery, slaves and free negroes, be, and the same are hereby, repealed.
  2. "2. That hereafter all persons named and embraced in the preceding section may and shall be allowed to testify in all suits and controversies in law and equity in which persons of the same status are directly or indirectly interested, and in all criminal cases.
  3. "3. This act shall be in force from its passage."
Mr. Lee then offered a resolution to recommit the bill to the committee, to consider each law affected by the bill. Mr. Lee believed that there would be no opposition to the bill, and that the only question would be as to the best mode of reaching the end proposed by the bill. He felt anxious that the Legislature should come up promptly and meet this question, to show that they were not biased by outside influence.

Mr. Gilmer seconded the resolution, and assumed the entire responsibility of the bill. He considered the bill of such great importance that legislators should invoke Divine assistance. He spoke with great earnestness.

Mr. Gray, of Rockingham, spoke for his people at home. That was the crucible. Whilst he despised the arts of the demagogue, he respected the people. He considered the bill one of the most important in the history of Virginia. He spoke with much force, and favored the resolution.

Mr. Cabell, of Nelson, offered a resolution instructing the committee to inquire into the second section of the act, with a view of bringing in a separate bill. In a speech of much ability, he argued that the bill mixed up two things, on which he wanted to vote separately.

Mr. Galt offered a report of a committee, who waited on the Governor, in relation to a suspension of the Federal tax. The Governor saw the Secretary of the Treasury, who said the tax has been suspended, but did not tell him how long. The Governor intends to visit Washington to make further inquiry.

Mr. Peck offered a resolution that the Committee on Roads and Internal Navigation inquire what legislation (if any) is necessary to complete the Covington and Ohio railroad. Passed.

By Mr. Power.--A bill to authorize the overseers of the poor to sell wood for other purposes than the maintenance of the poor. Passed.

House bill staying the collection of debts for a limited period. Passed.

By Mr. Strother.--A bill for the collection of arms, State and National. Amended, on motion of Mr. Keen, and passed.

Joint resolution from the House authorizing the Governor to purchase arms for the State Guard was laid on the table, on motion of Mr. Gray, although opposed by Mr. Gilmer in an eloquent speech.

House of Delegates.

The Speaker announced the following as the Committee of Conference, on the part of the House, on Public Printing: Messrs. Waddell, Dunnington, Word, Leawell, Jones, Watkins, Merritt, Browning and Dickenson.

Also, the following Select Committee on the Re-union of the State of Virginia: Messrs. Woodson, Robertson, Ellis, Garnett, Patterson, A. J. Clarke, Pendleton, Wall and Kellam.

Mr. Joynes, from the Committee on Courts of Justice, reported back adversely the resolution relative to imposing fines on Justices of the Peace for not attending terms of their counts.

Mr. Joynes, from the same, reported a number of bills, which were read a first and second time and ordered to be printed.

suspended, and the bill staying the collection of debts for a limited period, reported from the Committee on Courts of Justice, was put upon its passage.

Mr. Joynes explained that, in reporting the bill, the committee were aware that it contained many imperfections, but the fear being that the general stay law, if it got through this House, would not pass the Senate before the recess, this was offered to stay suits and otherwise protect debtors until such time as the principal bill should be passed.

After various amendments, the bill was read and ordered to be engrossed in the following form:

  1. "Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia, That no execution, venditioni exponas, attachment or other process to compel the payment of money, or the sale of property for that purpose, shall be issued, or it heretofore issued, shall be proceeded with, and that no judgment, decree or order for the payment of money, rendered or made during the period that this act is in force, shall operate as a lien upon any estate held or owned, or any interest on such estate, by the person or persons against whom such judgment, decree or order may be rendered or made. Nor shall there be any sale under a deed of trust, mortgage, pledge, or other security, nor under any judgment, degree or order for the payment of any money while this act remains in force, unless by consent of parties; Provided, that no part of this act shall apply to the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth; nor the counties of Accomac, Northampton, Norfolk and Princess Anne; but the act entitled 'an act staying the collection of debts,' passed January 23d, 1864, and the amendment thereof, passed June 23d, 1865, shall remain in force so far as the said cities and counties are concerned, with the exception that sales of property may take place, under the judgment and decree of court, in cases where the collection of debts is not the object of such sales.
  2. "Second. If any execution shall have been levied before the passage of this act, the property levied on shall be restored to the defendant, but shall remain subject to the lien of the execution aforesaid.
  3. "Third. This act shall be in force from its passage, and shall so continue during the present session of this General Assembly, unless sooner altered, amended or repealed."
The Committee on Roads and Internal Navigation reported back House bill to incorporate the Norfolk City railway.

Mr. Bentley, from the Committee on Banks, reported a bill restraining the banks of the State from making any disposition of their assets until otherwise provided by law.

Mr. Lee, from the minority of the same committee, reported a bill concerning banks of the State, and providing for the liquidation of their liabilities. Both bills were ordered to be printed.

Mr. Daniel from the Military Committee, reported a joint resolution authorizing the Governor to purchase thirty muskets, and accoutrements and ammunition, for the use of the Public Guard, which was passed.

The hour of one o'clock having arrived, the House proceeded to the consideration of the standing order, viz: "A bill providing for staying the collection of debts for a limited period." A large number of amendments, sufficient to make the bill a new measure, were offered and received by the Speaker for consideration at the proper time;

When, on motion of Mr. Garnett, the further consideration of the subject was postponed and the temporary stay law, previously ordered to its engrossment, and a copy of which is published above, was taken up and passed.

Mr. Watkins moved that the general stay law be postponed till the following day at one o'clock, that members might have time to mature their amendments. Agreed to.

Mr. Ellis, of Norfolk city, offered the following, which was agreed to:

‘ "Whereas there are large numbers of unfortunate people in the Commonwealth of Virginia, composed, for the most part, of those who were lately merchants, mechanics, artizans and professional men, who, before, during and since the late war, have, in a spirit of generosity and liberality, disposed of their goods, wares and merchandise, their labor and their money, on credit, to a parcel of individuals who have become excessively poor and miserable in consequence of being proprietors of immense tracts of land, and are therefore utterly unable, in all coming time, as some people think, to pay any part of their just liabilities; and whereas the first-mentioned class of persons, in consequence of the credit system as above illustrated, have no property except the debts due them as aforesaid, and are therefore in danger of remote, if not immediate starvation, therefore.

"Resolved, That the Committee on Propositions and Grievances be instructed to take into consideration the forlorn condition of the class of persons first herein before mentioned, to inquire what legislation, if any, is necessary to arrest the untold miseries that threaten them, and report by bill or otherwise."

’ The Committee on Finance reported back, with an amendment by way of a substitute, House joint resolution relative to the United States land tax. Adjourned.

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