possible solutions to the problem.
The first week of the assembly saw numerous proposals for the colonization of free blacks and on December 14, William Henry Roane of Hanover presented a petition from the Society of Friends which proposed the abolition of slavery through the gradual colonization of slave in Africa. This proposal sparked intense debate between the members of the house and divided Tidewater delegates and those from the heavily agricultural “southside” of the James River. On January 11, 1832, Piedmont Delegate William O. Goode, a southsider, argued that debate on emancipation placed all of Virginia in grave danger because of the threat posed by blacks watching the actions of the Assembly. He proposed a resolution to table discussion for the safety of the Commonwealth.
A counter-resolution was proposed by western Piedmont delegate Thomas Jefferson Randolph proposing a state-wide referendum on gradual emancipation so that the people of Virginia could decide the issue rather than the members of the Assembly, who held a disproportionate stake in the institution of slavery. If the majority of the citizens were for abolition, the process would begin with all slaves born on or after July 4, 1840, becoming the property of the Commonwealth. They would be hired out by the state until enough money had been raised to provide for their removal from the country. The session closed with the passage of a statement supporting the exploration of possible colonizing of slaves. That mood would change by the next fall, a result in large part of the essay on slavery published by William and Mary professor Thomas R.
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