University of Virginia Library

Search this document 
The Jeffersonian cyclopedia;

a comprehensive collection of the views of Thomas Jefferson classified and arranged in alphabetical order under nine thousand titles relating to government, politics, law, education, political economy, finance, science, art, literature, religious freedom, morals, etc.;

expand sectionA. 
expand sectionB. 
expand sectionC. 
expand sectionD. 
expand sectionE. 
expand sectionF. 
expand sectionG. 
expand sectionH. 
expand sectionI. 
expand sectionJ. 
expand sectionK. 
expand sectionL. 
expand sectionM. 
expand sectionN. 
expand sectionO. 
collapse sectionP. 
6945. PRIMOGENITURE, Abolition of law.—
expand sectionQ. 
expand sectionR. 
expand sectionS. 
expand sectionT. 
expand sectionU. 
expand sectionV. 
expand sectionW. 
expand sectionX. 
expand sectionY. 
expand sectionZ. 

expand section 
expand section 

6945. PRIMOGENITURE, Abolition of law.—

As the law of Descents, and the Criminal
law fell, of course, within my portion [in the
revision of the Virginia Code], I wished the Committee
to settle the leading principles of these,
as a guide for me in framing them; and,
with respect to the first, I proposed to abolish
the law of primogeniture, and to make real
estate descendible in parcenary to the next of
kin, as personal property is, by the statute of
distribution. Mr. Pendleton wished to preserve
the right of primogeniture, but seeing at once
that that could not prevail, he proposed we
should adopt the Hebrew principle, and give
a double portion to the elder son. I observed
that if the eldest son could eat twice as much,
or do double work, it might be a natural evidence
of his right to a double portion; but,
being on a par in his powers and wants with
his brothers and sisters, he should be on a par
also in the partition of the patrimony; and
such was the decision of the other members. [399]
Autobiography. Washington ed. i, 43. Ford ed., i, 59.


The preamble to this great law is as follows:
“Whereas, the perpetuation of property in certain
families, by means of gifts made to them in fee taille,
is contrary to good policy, tends to deceive fair
traders, who give credit on the visible possession of
such estates, discourages the holders thereof from
taking care and improving the same, and sometimes
does injury to the morals of youth, by rendering
them independent of, and disobedient to their
parents; and whereas, the former method of docking
such estates taille, by special act of Assembly, formed
for every particular case, employed very much of
the time of the Legislature, and the same, as well as
the method of defeating such estates, when of small
value, was burthensome to the public, and also to
individuals. Be it therefore enacted.”—Editor.