Notes on the State of Verginia by Thomas Jefferson (1787)
When the first effectual settlement of our colony was made, which was in 1607, the country from the sea-coast to the mountains, and from Patowmac to the most southern waters of James river, was occupied by upwards of forty different tribes of Indians.
NOTES ON THE STATE
Query I: An exact description of the limits and boundaries of the State of Virginia.
Query II: A notice of the rivers, rivulets, and how far they are navigable.
Query III: A notice of the best seaports of the State, and howbig are the vessels they can receive.
Query IV: A notice of its mountains.
Query V: Its cascades and caverns.
Query VI: A notice of the mines and other subterraneous riches; its trees, plants, fruits, &c.
Query VII: A notice of all that can increase the progess of human knowledge.
Query VIII: The number of its inhabitants.
Query IX: The number and condition of the militia and regular troops, and their pay.
Query X: The marine.
Query XI: A description of the Indians established in that State.
Query XII: A notice of the counties, cities, townships and villages.
Query XIII: The constitution of the State, and its several charters.
Query XIV: The administration of justice and the description of the laws.
Query XV: The colleges and public establishments, the roads, buildings, &c.
Query XVI: The measures taken with regard to the estates and possessions of the rebels, commonly called tories.
Query XVII: The different religions received into that State.
Query XVIII: The particular customs and manners that may happen to be received into that State.
Query XIX: The present state of manufactures, commerce, interior and exterior trade.
Query XX: A notice of the commercial productions particlar to the State, and of those objects which the inhabitants are obliged to get from Europe and from other parts of the world.
Query XXI: The weights, measures, and the currency of the hard money. Some details relating to exchange with Europe.
Query XXII: The public income and expenses.
Query XXIII: The histories of the State, the memorials published in its name in the time of its being a colony, and the pamphlets relating to its interior or exterior affairs, present or ancient.
NOTES ON THE STATE OF VIRGINIA
by Thomas Jefferson
The following Notes were written in Virginia in the year 1781, and somewhat corrected and enlarged in the winter of 1782, in answer to Queries proposed to the Author, by a Foreigner of Distinction, then residing among us. The subjects are all treated imperfectly; some scarcely touched on. To apologize for this by developing the circumstances of the time and place of their composition, would be to open wounds which have already bled enough. To these circumstances some of their imperfections may with truth be ascribed; the great mass to the want of information and want of talents in the writer. He had a few copies printed, which he gave among his friends: and a translation of them has been lately published in France, but with such alterations as the laws of the press in that country rendered necessary. They are now offered to the public in their original form and language.
Feb. 27, 1787.
An exact description of the limits and boundaries of the state of Virginia?
Virginia is bounded on the East by the Atlantic: on the North by a line of latitude, crossing the Eastern Shore through Watkins’s Point, being about 37 degrees.57′ North latitude; from thence by a streight line to Cinquac, near the mouth of Patowmac; thence by the Patowmac, which is common to Virginia and Maryland, to the first fountain of its northern branch; thence by a meridian line, passing through that fountain till it intersects a line running East and West, in latitude 39 degrees.43′.42.4″ which divides Maryland from Pennsylvania, and which was marked by Messrs. Mason and Dixon; thence by that line, and a continuation of it westwardly to the completion of five degrees of longitude from the eastern boundary of Pennsylvania, in the same latitude, and thence by a meridian line to the Ohio: On the West by the Ohio and Missisipi, to latitude 36 degrees.30′. North: and on the South by the line of latitude last-mentioned. By admeasurements through nearly the whole of this last line, and supplying the unmeasured parts from good data, the Atlantic and Missisipi, are found in this latitude to be 758 miles distant, equal to 13 degrees.38′. of longitude, reckoning 55 miles and 3144 feet to the degree. This being our comprehension of longitude, that of our latitude, taken between this and Mason and Dixon’s line, is 3 degrees.13′.42.4″ equal to 223.3 miles, supposing a degree of a great circle to be 69 m. 864 f. as computed by Cassini. These boundaries include an area somewhat triangular, of 121525 square miles, whereof 79650 lie westward of the Allegany mountains, and 57034 westward of the meridian of the mouth of the Great Kanhaway. This state is therefore one third larger than the islands of Great Britain and Ireland, which are reckoned at 88357 square miles.
These limits result from, 1. The antient charters from the crown of England. 2. The grant of Maryland to the Lord Baltimore, and the subsequent determinations of the British court as to the extent of that grant. 3. The grant of Pennsylvania to William Penn, and a compact between the general assemblies of the commonwealths of Virginia and Pennsylvania as to the extent of that grant. 4. The grant of Carolina, and actual location of its northern boundary, by consent of both parties. 5. The treaty of Paris of 1763. 6. The confirmation of the charters of the neighbouring states by the convention of Virginia at the time of constituting their commonwealth. 7. The cession made by Virginia to Congress of all the lands to which they had title on the North side of the Ohio.
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