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Washington surprised and took Fort du Quesne, but was afterwards obliged to yield to superior force. Virginia showed great opposition to the arbitrary measures of the British government, in 1765 and 1769; in 1781 it became the theatre of war. Norfolk, the most opulent and commercial town of the state, was consumed to ashes by a British squadron, under the orders of the Earl of Dunmore, in his quality as governor, and the valuable mills and iron works were also destroyed by fire, by the expedition under the command of the well-known Arnold. The capture of the British army at Yorktown, under Lord Cornwallis, decided the contest.
Constitution. The present constitution, or form of government, adopted in 1776, establishes two houses of assembly, a house of delegates and a senate. The former is composed of two freeholders from each county, and one from each of the cities or boroughs of Norfolk, Williamsburgh, Richmond, and Petersburgh, chosen annually by citizens who are proprietors of a life estate of 100 acres of uninhabited land, or 25 acres, with a house or lot thereon, or a house or lot in some town. Slaves enter into the scale of representation, in the proportion of three fifths of their number; so that, in the repartition of votes, 5000 slaves are counted equivalent to 3000 freemen. The Senate consists of twenty-four members, who must not be under twenty-five years of age. They are chosen in districts for the term of four years, and are divided into four classes, one of which is renewed each year. The Executive power is vested in a governor and
council of eight members, chosen annually by the joint ballot of both houses. They cannot serve more than three years in seven. The governor has the power of granting reprieves or pardons, except when the prosecution has been carried on by the house of delegates. When out of otfice, he is impeachable for corruption or mal-administration. The council of state is chosen from the members of the houses of assembly, or from the people at large ; and a president is elected, who, in case of death, inability, or absence of the governor, acts as lieutenant-governor. Each house of assembly appoints its own officers, and directs its own proceedings. All laws originate in the house of delegates, but may be approved, rejected, or amended by the senate, except bills relating to money, which must be simply approved or rejected. The magistrates of the counties elect new magistrates, recommended by the governor and council, a practice which is complained of as anti-republican, and will probably be altered by the convention lately called, for the purpose of revising the constitution. *
* This convention, which was held at Staunton, in 1816, ad. dressed a memorial to the legislature, in which they observed, " that 49 counties, adjacent to each other in the eastern and southern sections of the state, including three of the boroughs situated in these counties, have a majority of the whole number of representatives in the most numerous branch of the legislature; and these counties and boroughs contained, in 1810, only 204,766 white in. habitants, which is less than half the population of the state by 72,138 souls." " That in the other branch of the legislature the inequality is still more apparent. Incredible as it may seem, it is
· Judiciary.--The judges are appointed by the legislature, during good behaviour, and may be removed by impeachment of the lower house. Those of the general court are tried by the court of appeals. There are three superior courts; the high court of chancery, of three branches, which sits twice a-year, at Richmond, Williamsburg, and Staunton. The general court, which sits four times a-year at Richmond, twice as a civil and criminal court, and twice as a criminal court only. The two first receive appeals from the county courts, and have original jurisdiction where the subject of controversy is of the value of L.10 sterling, or when the question regards the titles or bounds of land. The third has a complete original jurisdiction. All the judges of the circuit courts are appointed by the joint ballot of the two houses of assembly, and continue in office during good behaviour. The supreme court, or court of appeals, is composed of three judges of the superior court, and assembles twice a-year at Richmond, for the final determination of civil cases, by appeal. There is a board of auditors for the settlement of public accounts, consisting of three members, appointed by the general assembly; but the case may
nevertheless a fact, that, while the country west of the Blue Ridge, consisting of three-fifths of the territory of the state, and containing, according to the census of 1810, a white population of 212,036 souls, has but 4 instead of 9 senators, to which it is entitled; 13 senatorial districts on tide-water, containing, according to the same census, a white population of only 162,717, have 13 instead of 7 senators, which would be their just proportion."
be carried before the superior court. The justices of the peace for the counties are appointed by the governor, with the advice of the council, and have ju. risdiction in all cases of equity, and at common law. If the case involves a value not exceeding twenty dollars, it may be tried by a single member; if of greater value, it is adjudged by the county court, composed of the magistrates of each county, presided over by a judge of the superior court, to which an appeal may be carried, if the matter exceeds the value of twenty dollars, or relates to titles or bounds of lands. The trial is final, if the criminal be a slave. The claims and differences between foreigners are decided by the consuls of their respective nations, or, if the parties choose, by the ordinary courts of justice, which is the usual mode of trial, if one only of the contesting parties be a foreigner ; but the suit may be carried from the county court to the general court; and, in a case of life and death, the trial is before the federal courts, and by a jury, one half of whom are foreigners, the other natives. Debtors, who are unable to pay their debts, and who make a faithful delivery of their effects, are released from imprisonment; but their creditors have a claim upon any property which they may afterwards acquire. By an act of the 9th assembly of 1661, the laws of England were adopted, except when a difference of circumstances rendered them inapplicable. The officers for the general government in this state are a judge, with a salary of 1800 dollars; an attorney with 200; a marshal with fees only; a clerk with fees.
Finances. The subjects of taxation are : * 1. Free males above twenty-one years. 2. Slaves of both sexes. 3. Horses. 4. Cattle. 5. Riding carriages, according to the number of wheels. 6. Taverns. 7. Merchants, hawkers, and pedlars, who are licensed. 8. Law processes, transfers of surveyors, certificates of notorial attestations. 9. Stud horses. The treasury receipts of 1811 amounted to 414,133 dollars, the expenditure to 369,912 dollars, leaving a balance in favour of the treasury of 44,221 dollars ; the expences of the general assembly, 54,974 dollars ; of the officers of civil government, 69,303; the assessment of real property in the town of Richmond, for the year 1817, was 15,997,851 dollars ; in 1813 it was 8,534,147, giving an increase in four years of 87 per cent.
Salaries of the Officers of Civil Government.
2,667 dollars per annum. Members of the privy council, 6,667 for all the members, Judges,
1,500 dollars each. Attorney-general,
667 Each of his deputies in the district and courts,
75) Auditor of public accounts, . 1,000 Clerk of the general court,
100 dollars per annum. Treasurer,
• 1,667 Register of the land office,
1,333 His clerks,
* Before the Revolution the crown revenue was derived from a duty on tobacco, quit rents, newly-arrived passengers, slaves, liquors fines, and forfeitures.' The duties on tobacco were so cnormous, as to absorb nearly three-fourths of the value.