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duced a supposition in my mind that the reception was very different in that house. But they have not the power to originate any bill in the Senate: the matter therefore rested with a civil acknowledgement, &c.
Notwithstanding this ill success, I ought not to be discouraged. Not a copy of the pamphlet had been transmitted to Virginia (except four to myself, two of which were lost) when it was presented to the House. Nobody, I believe, had read it; nobody could explain its contents. Nobody was prepared to meet the blind fury of the enemies of freedom; and our Assembly was at that time split into factions, debating upon federal politics, and neither side probably wished to weaken its own influence by a division of sentiment among its partizans on any point whatever. But, when I thus express myself, I must be understood as not cherishing the smallest hope of advancing a cause so dear to me as the abolition of slavery. Actual suffering will one day, perhaps, open the oppressors' eyes. Till that happens, they will shut their ears against argument.
Accept, sir, my sincerest wishes for the perfect restoration of your health, and for the enjoyment of every sublunary blessing, and believe me, with unfeigned sentiments of esteem and friendship,
Your most obedient humble servant,
S. G. TUCKER.
JUDGE TUCKER TO DR. BELKNAP.
WILLIAMSBURG, June 5, 1798.
DEAR SIR, — I was some time since favoured with your letter, accompanied by Doctor Morse's Geographical Grammar; and at the moment of leaving home this spring, I received your favor of the 8th of February, with Mr. Minot's continuation of the History of Massachusetts, for all which be pleased to accept my best acknowledgements. In the expectation of seeing Mr. Jefferson this spring at his own house, I deferred making of him the enquiry you requested; but, finding there was no longer any hope of a personal communication, I wrote to him not long since in Philadelphia. His answer is in the following words: "At
an early part of my life, from 1762 to 1775, I passed much time in going through the public records in Virginia, then in the Secretary's office, and especially those of a very early date of our settlement. In these are abundant instances of purchases made by our first assemblies of the Indians living around them. The opinion I formed at the time was, that, if the records were complete and thoroughly searched, it would be found that nearly the whole of the lower country was covered by these contracts. Sometimes at the conclusion of a war, land would be ceded by them as an indemnification, but I think there were few instances of this. In general, the colony lived in peace with the Indians. Their habitations touched one another, and the latter receded gradually and peaceably. I do not know in what States the public records are since the British invasion; but, if preserved, the facts I state may be abundantly verified from them.”
Thus far Mr. Jefferson.
In Purvis's collection of the laws of Virginia, there is an act, either passed or re-enacted in 1662, which recites that the laws prohibiting the purchase of any Indian's lands (unless acknowledged at General Courts or Assemblies, by reason it is easy to fright them to a public, as well as a private acknowledgement) are made fruitless and ineffectual, corrupt interpreters often adding to this mischief by rendering them willing to surrender, when indeed they intended to receive a confirmation of their own rights, and a redress of their wrongs; which mischiefs, had they continued, must needs have involved the country in war, for remedy whereof it is enacted, that for the future no Indian king, or other, shall upon any pretence alien or sell; nor any English, for any cause or consideration whatsoever, purchase or buy any tract or parcel of land justly claimed or actually possessed by any Indian or Indians whatever, all such bargains and sales thereafter made or pretended to be made being thereby declared null and void." And further, "That what Englishman hath already, contrary to the laws formerly in force for surrendering and acknowledging Indians' lands, made incroachments or seated upon them, shall, if they make not good proof of their title, upon complaint made, be, by order directed to the sheriff to execute, removed from their seats of lands thus wrongfully encroached, and all houses by them built upon the said lands be demolished and burned." The same act provides that the Indians' bounds should be fixed,
and thereafter annually visited, that no intrenchment might thenceforth be made upon the Indians. This act is, I presume, of a much earlier date than 1662, being one of 138 acts which appear to have been collected and republished, or re-enacted at that period.
By an act made in 1665, it appears that the boundaries of the Indians south of James River were limited by the southern branches of the Black-Water River, thence to the Appamatuck Indian town (Petersburg), and thence cross the river to the Monakin Indian town (about fifteen miles above Richmond). This act refers to an agreement the date of which is not specified.
In 1676, the title of an act occurs, “concerning Indian lands deserted." This was during Bacon's usurpation. All the acts of this Assembly were declared null and void by proclamation, as also by a subsequent act of assembly passed in the same year.
In 1705, we find an act declaring that it shall not be lawful for any Indian king, or any other tributary Indians whatever, to bargain and sell, or demise to any person or persons, other than to some of their own nation, or their posterity in fee, for life or for years, the lands laid out and appropriated for the use of the said Indians, or any part or parcel thereof; or to bargain and sell, as aforesaid, any other land whatsoever, then actually possessed, or justly claimed and pretended to by the said Indians, or any of them, by virtue of the articles of peace made and concluded with the said Indians the 29th day of May, 1677, and every bargain, sale, or demise contrary to that act, is declared void. From the same act it appears that one of the articles of that treaty was, "that no English shall seat or plant nearer than three miles of any Indian town ; but the act declares that this shall not be construed to prohibit the seating on the opposite side of a navigable river, though within three miles of an Indian town.
These acts throw but little light upon the subject of your enquiries. I thought, however, it might not be unacceptable to you to notice them. As I seldom visit Richmond, and, when I do, but for a few days, I fear it will not be in my power to make such researches into our public records as I could wish.
Be pleased to subscribe for the Collections of the Massachu
setts Historical Society in my behalf. We have nothing, in this part of the continent, from the press, beyond newspaper essays. I am, with the greatest respect and esteem, dear sir, Your obliged friend and servant,
S. G. TUCKER.
Having just returned, I have not yet had time to dip into Minot's Continuation. Doctor Morse's Grammar, like all first attempts, has its errors; but even errors are useful, where they may lead to their own correction.
NEGRO PETITIONS FOR FREEDOM.
The recent Petition sent in by [torn]
To his Excellency Thomas Hutchinson Governor of said Provnce, to the Honorable his Majestys Council, [and to the] Honourable House of Representatives in General Court assembled June 1773.
The Petition of us the subscribers in behalf of all thous who by divine Permission are held in a state of slavery, within the bowels of a free Country, Humbly sheweth,
That your Petitioners apprehend they have in comon with other men a naturel right to be free and without molestation to injoy such Property as thay may acquire by their industry, or by any other means not detrimetal to their fellow men, and that no person can have any just claim to their services unless
To his Excellency Thomas Gage Esq Captain General and Governor in Chief in and over this Province.
To the Honourable his Majestys Council and the Honourable House of Representatives in General Court assembled may 25 177-*
The Petition of a Grate Number of Blackes of this Province who by divine permission are held in a state of Slavery within the bowels of a free and christian Country
That your Petitioners apprehind we have in common with all other men a naturel right to our freedoms without Being de
*The last numeral has been altered once or twice, and looks a little like 7. But the heading of the petition would show that its date should be 1774. — Eds.