General Assembly Vote, January 12, 1832

 

               In the wake of Nat Turner's rebellion, the Virginia government created a committee to deal with the issue of slaves and free blacks in the state. In early January 1832, the issue became an open public debate within the entire General Assembly. This was due, unintentionally, to the efforts of William O. Goode from Mecklenburg County. Mr. Goode was a pro-slavery advocate and as such sought to prevent any future discussion of emancipation in the committee. He proposed a resolution that would ignore the numerous petitions that called for freeing slaves and would state that the Virginia government had no desire to create legislation on slavery. His attempt to quash any debate on emancipation only resulted in sparking one.

 

               In response to Goode’s resolution, Thomas Jefferson Randolph, the grandson of President Thomas Jefferson, from Albemarle County put forward a motion that the committee should instead explore the possibility of emancipating Virginia's slaves gradually. Randolph’s motion was similar to the gradual emancipation statute that had passed in Pennsylvania in 1780.

 

               The Assembly voted 116-7 to have a debate that would decide if they should pass Goode’s resolution or Randolph’s resolution.

 

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[January 11, 1832] 

 

                [p. 93] A motion was made by Mr. Goode, that the house adopt the following resolution: Resolved, That the select committee raised on the subject of slaves, free negroes, and the melancholy occurrences growing out of the tragical massacre in Southampton, be discharged from the consideration of all petitions, memorials and resolutions, which have for their object the manumission of persons held in servitude under the existing laws of this commonwealth, and that it is not expedient to legislate on the subject.

 

                 Whereupon, a motion was made by Mr. Randolph, to amend the same, by striking therefrom the whole after the word " Southampton," and insert in lieu thereof the following: "be instructed to enquire into the expediency of submitting to the vote of the qualified voters in the several towns, cities, boroughs and counties of this commonwealth, the propriety of providing by law, that the children of all female slaves who may be born in this state on or after the fourth day of July, 1840, shall become the property of the commonwealth, the males at the age of twenty-one years, and females at the age of eighteen, if detained by their owners within the limits of Virginia, until they shall respectively arrive at the ages aforesaid; to be hired out until the net sum arising therefrom shall be sufficient to defray the expense of their removal beyond the limits of the United States;" and that said committee have leave to report by bill or otherwise. On motion of Mr. Gholson, the said resolution and amendment were ordered to be laid upon the table...

 

[January 12, 1832] 

 

                 [p. 94] A motion was made by Mr. Gholson, that the house now take up the resolution offered by Mr. Goode on yesterday, for discharging the committee on the coloured population of the stale, from the consideration of all the propositions for the manumission of persons held in servitude, together with the substitute thereto proposed by Mr. Randolph; and the question being put thereupon, was determined in the affirmative.—Ayes 116, noes 7. On motion of Mr. Witcher, (seven of the members present concurring,) Ordered, That the ayes and noes upon the said question be inserted in the journal.

 

[Ayes]

The names of the gentlemen who voted in the affirmative, are Messrs. Banks, (the speaker,) Drummond, Wood of Albemarle, Randolph, Persinger, Garland, M'Cue, Cameron, Campbell of Bedford, Pate, Faulkner, Good, Anderson of Botetourt, Wilson of Botetourt, Campbell of Brooke, Gholson, Shell, Patteson of Buckingham, Bolling, Spurlock, Rives, Daniel, Halyburton, Richardson, Patteson of Chesterfield, Pendleton, Broadus, Wilson of Cumberland, Brodnax, Ritchie, Ball, Chilton, Marshall, Stillman, Helms, Hale of Franklin, Woods, Wood of Frederick, Bryce of Frederick, Smith of Frederick, Snidow, Smith of Gloucester, Hail of Grayson, Spencer, Bruce, Sims, Carskadon, Poston, Roane, Mullen, Johnson, Mayo, Gravely, Jordan, Sheild, Gallaher, Berry, Summers, Harwood, Hooe, Dabney, Carter of Richmond, Allen, Hays, Lawson, M'llhaney, Cordell, Caldwell, Poindexter, Hudgins, Smith of Mason, Goode, Knox, Billingsly, Vawter, Preston, Webb, Cabell, Chandler, Leigh, Harvey, Anderson of Nottoway, Parriott, Davis, Robertson, Adams, Hiner, Witcher, Swanson, Gilliland, Miller, Zinn, Dupuy, Land, Shands, Carter of Prince William, Moore, M'Dowell, M'Mahon, Cline, Jessee, Bare, Carson, Cobb, Powell, Crump, Hargrave, Gillespie, M'Coy, M'Culloch, Keller, Newton, Morris, Crockett, King and Brown—116.

 

[Noes]

And the names of the gentlemen who voted in the negative, are Messrs. Brooke, Bryce of Goochland, Erskine, Williams, Fitzhugh, Hart and Moncure—7.

 

From Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia 1831-1832 , pp. 93-94.