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Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J.; Leffler, Richard; Schoenleber, Charles H.; Carlson, Marybeth (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Virginia (1)
8 (1988)

Introduction,   pp. xxiii-xxxix


Page xxv

were elected annually. (For the qualifications of legislators and electors,
see "The General Assembly Calls a State Convention," 25-31 October,
notes 11 and 12, I below.) All bills had to originate in the House and
had to pass both houses to become laws. The Senate could propose
amendments to all bills, except money bills which it could only accept
or reject in toto.
The governor was elected annually by joint ballot of the General
Assembly, but he could not serve more than three successive terms.
He exercised the executive powers of government with the advice and
consent of an eight-member Council of State, which was also elected
by joint ballot of the two houses. He could grant pardons and re-
prieves, but he had no veto power.
The state judiciary consisted of a Supreme Court of Appeals, a Gen-
eral Court, a Chancery Court, and an Admiralty Court. The judges of
these courts were appointed by the General Assembly and continued
in office during good behavior.
The most powerful institution on the local level was the county court,
which exercised executive, legislative, and judicial functions. Justices
of the peace, who served for life, were appointed by the governor on
the recommendation of the county court, and were generally chosen
from among the leading families. The sheriff, often the longest-serving
justice, was nominated by the county court and approved by the gov-
ernor.
Delegates to Congress were elected annually by joint ballot of the
legislature. In 1777 and 1779 the legislature passed acts stating that
seven delegates were to be elected annually, although, beginning in
1784, it restricted the number to five.
For the texts of the Declaration of Rights and the state constitution,
see Appendix L.
The Payment of the British Debts
At the beginning of the Revolution, Virginians owed about
E2,000,000 sterling to British creditors. In January 1778 the legislature
suspended lawsuits for debts and permitted debtors to pay creditors
by depositing money in the state loan office. Under this act, about 500
planters deposited paper money totalling £274,000, that, in 1786, had
a value of only about £12,000 sterling. In 1780 the legislature repealed
this act and the next year placed a moratorium upon the payment of
foreign and domestic debts. In the spring of 1782 the legislature closed
the state's courts to suits by British citizens.
On 30 November 1782 British and American commissioners signed
the preliminary articles of peace. The fourth article stated that: "It is
agreed that Creditors on either side, shall meet with no lawful Im-
INTRODUCTION
XXV


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