James Wood's Executive papers are organized chronologically with undated items arranged at the end of each year. These papers primarily consist of incoming correspondence during Wood's three one-year terms as governor between 1 December 1796 until 6 December 1799. The correspondence in this collection relates to a variety of topics including appointments & recommendations for state positions; the construction of the Virginia Penitentiary & Manufactory of Arms; the Point of Fork Arsenal; foreign vessels in Virginia waters; resignations; arms & ammunition; the boundary line between Kentucky & Virginia; extraditions; state expenses & revenue; quarantine of vessels; elections; Presidential electors; the Capitol Building; the militia; and others. In addition to correspondence, there are resolutions from Congress and the Virginia Senate & House of Delegates; accounts; oaths; contracts; pardons; proposals; receipts; election returns & certificates; qualifications; lists; proclamations; petitions; reports; appointments; resignations; bonds; commissions; orders; proceedings; applications; opinions; and other sundry items.
The majority of correspondence relates to two significant building projects commenced during Wood's terms in office: the Virginia Penitentiary and the Virginia Manufactory of Arms. The Governor received numerous letters of application and recommendations for architects and superintendents for the construction of the Penitentiary. Benjamin Henry Latrobe was eventually named architect and Thomas Callis as superintendent of the project. Included is a letter from John Barret offering lots on the street opposite Hay Market for the site of the Penitentiary (1797 Jan. 11). Especially valuable is Thomas Jefferson's letter to the Governor on 31 March 1797 regarding his design of a prison which includes notes and an estimate for its construction. Many individuals submitted proposals for such tasks as laying bricks (1797 March 27, July 14 & 20, Oct. 9), furnishing bar iron (1798 June 4), and woodwork (1798 July 28). In addition, on 12 June 1798, John Mills and John Atkerson write agreeing to undertake the digging of the foundation. Thomas Callis also writes regarding laying the foundation (1797 Aug. 3), an estimate of the whole expense of erecting the Penitentiary (1797 Dec. 5), an account of the carpenter's work and an estimate for framing the roof (1798 May 26), the contract for the doors & window frames and slate for the roof (1798 July 3), the account of Reuben George for timber plank & scantling (1798 Nov. 30), and an account of the receipts given Harvie & Winston (1799 Feb. 14). Benjamin Latrobe periodically reports on topics including the foundation (1797 Aug. 7), his bill as architect (1798 Feb. 14), directions for the stone & brickwork (1798 March 10), the account of slate for the roof including a small sketch with measurements (1798 July 10), the arch of the cellar under the kitchen and the proposal for carpenter's work (1798 July 9), the new road to the Penitentiary and sewers including a rough drawing (1798 Sept. 3 & 8), an account of the stone work and an estimate of the expense for altering the design of the roof to a gable roof (1798 Sept. 22), the conduct of a blacksmith who assaulted some workmen (1798 Oct. 26), the progress in the Penitentiary since 1797 with specific work done on the east & west wings, the gate, and the men's court including the expense of the work (1798 Nov. 28), and a request for a leave of absence until Christmas (1798 Nov. 30). Latrobe's letter dated 1798 Sept. 8 also discusses the Council's proposition to remove him as architect. In another letter dated 23 Feb. 1799, Latrobe communicates the completion of his work on the Penitentiary, problems with his work in Philadelphia on the Bank of Pennsylvania which has delayed his return to Richmond, instructions to the bricklayer, and a recommendation for William Callis as Superintendent. Other miscellaneous items regarding the Penitentiary include letters from John Harvie regarding a draft from the Treasury to purchase oyster shells for lime in the construction (1797 May 11), an account of Augustine Davis for various work (1797 July 10); a letter from Samuel Dobie requesting compensation for his plan of the Penitentiary submitted to the Council (1797 Aug. 17); a recommendation of Harry Tetherston as blacksmith for the iron work (1798 March 6); prices for scantling and plank from Ebenezer Maule (1798 March 10); letters from John Clarke concerning bricklayers and a supply of iron for the blacksmiths (1799 June 22), shingling (1799 Sept. 14), and an estimate of bricks & lime to complete the building (1799 Sept. 28); and letters from Jesse Bowles & Nathaniel Quarles on the walls, arches, etc. (1798 Aug. 16) and the east & west wings (1799 Aug. 17).
The Virginia Manufactory of Arms is the other major building project during Wood's governorship. In 1796, the House of Delegates passed resolutions for employing additional artificers at the Point of Fork Arsenal and for ascertaining the best location in Richmond for an arsenal & manufactory of arms (1796 Dec. 26). John Clarke was appointed superintendent of the armory in 1798. Clarke visited the armory in Springfield, Massachusetts, and the Cecil Iron Works in Maryland. He writes the Governor on 7 March 1798 from Philadelphia regarding his trip. He again writes on March 10 concerning his failure to have 4,000 stand of arms manufactured in Philadelphia and considers the possibility of having arms imported from France. On 10 April 1798, Clarke informs Wood about his delay in reaching Springfield. On 23 July 1798, Clarke remarks on the cost of the houses, water works, etc., for the manufactory of small arms. Shortly thereafter, he comments on the cost of stonework (1798 July 27). Lastly, Clarke writes on several occasions respecting the digging of the foundation by Moses Bates (1798 Nov. 19, 1799 March 21, June 15, & Aug. 20, Oct. 19). Other items related to the Manufactory include a letter from John Hardien & Benjamin Hailey proposing to furnish bricks for the armory (1798 Aug. 21); the bond of Jesse Payne, James Mann, Daniel Burton, & William G. Payne to furnish timber & plank for the machinery (1798 Nov. 20), a report of the Committee of the Executive appointed to examine the progress & quality of the masonry (1799 Aug. 27), and Ninnan Wyse's stonework contract (1799 Nov. 16).
Other public projects continued during Wood's tenure as governor with work on the Capitol Building. The Directors of Public Buildings, including Daniel L. Hylton, William Foushee, William Hay, Richard Adams, Robert Goode, and Robert Mitchell, provide the Governor with periodic updates on the status of repairs to the Capitol, particularly the roof. On 31 August 1797, the Directors write regarding an advance with the undertaker to finish the outside of the Capitol and the problems with the slate roof. The Directors request additional warrants for funds on 11 Oct. 1797, 12 Dec. 1797, and 24 July 1798. An abstract of the proceedings of the Directors from William Hay provides an excellent summary of their activities between 1779 and 1793. On 5 Feb. 1798, the Directors enclose a report with a general account of transactions and the probable estimate to finish the Capitol. Goode & Foushee also write on 27 Aug. 1798 regarding the construction of two reservoirs on the Public Square. Additionally, the Directors write concerning the sale of public lead, as well as compensation to the directors & commissioners (1798 Oct. 20). Finally, Foushee writes regarding the completion of the Capitol roof and a warrant for $1000 for Henry Robertson to finish the outside of the Capitol (1798 Oct. 23). Other miscellaneous documents relating to the Capitol include a letter from John Johnson offering to contract to fill up the ravine near the Capitol (1797 Oct. 5), a letter from William Foushee regarding compensation for the Directors of Public Buildings (1798 Feb. 5), the account of Wyse & Hope for rebuilding the stone wall near the Capitol (1798 April 18), a letter from William Hay recommending Benjamin Latrobe to inspect the Capitol's roof (1798 Aug. 9), and a letter from William Hay regarding the plans & drawings of the Capitol & Public Prison sent from Paris by Thomas Jefferson (1799 March 18).
Governor Wood's Executive Papers also include correspondence from the United States government. Wood received letters from Timothy Pickering, Secretary of State; James McHenry, Secretary of War; Samuel A. Otis, Secretary of the Senate, John Beckley & Jonathan W. Cody, Clerks of the House of Representatives, Thomas Jefferson, Vice-President, and Virginia Delegates in Congress.
Timothy Pickering writes the Governor on 26 June 1797 enclosing an "act to provide for the further defense of the ports & harbors of the United States." Pickering also transmits sets of acts passed in the 1st session of the 5th Congress on 26 Oct. 1797, as well as the first volume of the acts of Congress on 8 May 1798. On 28 Sept. 1798, Pickering requests the Governor to convey a piece of land to the U.S. at Old Point Comfort for the purpose of building a lighthouse.
James McHenry, on 1 August 1797, remarks on the act authorizing a detachment from the militia of the United States passed 24 June 1797. On 14 January 1798, he writes Wood recommending Robert McCormick to establish a manufactory of arms in Virginia. McHenry also writes regarding field artillery belonging to the federal government and the sale of cannon to the War Office (1798 Aug. 3).
Samuel A. Otis, John Beckley, & Jonathan Cody periodically transmit journals of the proceedings of the U.S. Senate & House of Representatives (1797 April 22, 1797 May 1, 1797 July 10, 1797 Aug. 16, 1799 March 31). In addition, Otis & Beckley write on 31 Jan. 1797 regarding the amendment to the Constitution on the suability of states. Otis submits a resolution on 24 Jan. 1799 notifying the Governor of the death of Henry Tazewell, U.S. Senator from Virginia. Similarly, both Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia Delegates in Congress write letters informing Governor Wood of Tazewell's death (1799 Jan. 24).
As senators from Virginia, Henry Tazewell & Stevens Thomson Mason write the Governor concerning an amendment to the U.S. Constitution (1797 March 2). In a letter dated 10 July 1797, Tazewell discusses the exemption of arms imported by the state from duties, as well as Governor William Blount's plan to invade the Spanish Territories on the Mississippi and his impeachment. In another letter from 7 February 1798, Tazewell remarks on the contract with James Swan for arms, Pennsylvania laws, foreign affairs, the cession of western territory to the U.S., and the amendment to the Constitution concerning the suability of the states.
Significant correspondents from Virginia State government include Archibald Blair, Clerk of the Council; Samuel Coleman, Assistant Clerk of the Council of State; Robert Brooke, Attorney General; John Stewart, Clerk of the House of Delegates; Humphrey Brooke, Clerk of the Senate; Robert Quarles, Superintendent of the Point of Fork Arsenal; Thomas Newton, County Lieutenant & Superintendent of Quarantine for Norfolk; Samuel Shepard, Auditor of Public Accounts; and Jaquelin Ambler & William Berkeley, Treasurers.
Archibald Blair & Samuel Coleman, as Clerk & Assistant Clerk of the Council, communicate with the Governor regularly through the Council Office. Blair submits the advice of council on such issues as the petition of the Mayor of Alexandria for the Superintendent of Quarantine to provide nurses (1798 Oct. 27) and the appointment of Jesse Bowles & Nathaniel Quarles to count the number of bricks laid in the walls of the Penitentiary according to the contract of Harvie & Winston (1799 March 30 & 1799 Aug. 13). On 7 July 1798, Blair submitted a circular directing the Deputy Adjutant General to order the commanding officers of regiments to appoint a field officer to inspect the arms received from the public arsenals. Samuel Coleman encloses a return of arms issued to the militia including brigade, regiment, county in which the officer resides, names of officers receiving the arms, number of arms issues, number of arms returned, and number of arms still to be accounted for (1798 July 6). He also writes on 27 June 1798 on behalf of Simon Morgan, Adjutant General, regarding a general order to Col. Lambert.
As Attorney General of Virginia, Robert Brooke writes the Governor on several occasions. On 20 January 1797, Brooke remarks on the land entered by General Clarke in Kentucky on behalf of Virginia, as well as his appointment as commissioner to adjust the boundary line between Virginia & Maryland. Brooke also provides his opinion regarding the claim of land in Kentucky within the territory ceded to the Chickasaw Nation by treaty (1797 Feb. 21) and the revision of the Arsenal Act (1798 March 10). On 20 August 1798, Brooke requests papers from the clerks of courts in criminal cases to be sent to the Attorney General's Office. On 15 February 1799, Brooke writes Governor Wood concerning the settlement of the account of James Reveley as Superintendent of the Foundry and the indebtedness of John Ballandine & the Buckingham Furnace.
John Stewart, Clerk of the House of Delegates, and Humphrey Brooke, Clerk of the Senate, often submit legislation and qualifications of election to the Governor. Stewart & Brooke transmit a resolution regarding the boundary line between Kentucky & Virginia (1796 Dec. 13). Stewart also transmits resolutions related to the appointment of Henry Tazewell as U.S. Senator (1798 Dec. 12); arms distributed from the Point of Fork Arsenal (1799 Jan. 7); and the printing of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, the Amendments, and the Alien & Sedition Acts (1799 Jan. 24). Included are notices for the following elections: Meriwether Jones, John Pendleton, & John Mayo to the Council of State (1796 Dec. 6); John Guerrant, Jr., & Alexander McRae to the Council of State (1796 Dec. 8); Jaquelin Ambler as Treasurer (1796 Dec. 23); James Wood as Governor (1797 Dec. 7 & 1798 Dec. 7); George Conway Taylor & Samuel McCraw as members of the Privy Council (1798 Jan. 10); Meriwether Jones & John Dixon as Public Printers (1798 Dec. 6); Henry Tazewell as U.S. Senator (1798 Dec. 12); John Allen as a member of the Privy Council to replace Meriwether Jones (1798 Dec. 14); John White as a member of the Privy Council to replace George C. Taylor (1798 Dec. 28); William Berkeley as Treasurer (1798 Dec. 31); John B. Scott as Brigadier General of the 11th Brigade (1799 Jan. 5); John Brown as Brigadier General of the Brigade composed of Hampshire, Hardy, & Pendleton (1799 Jan. 24); John Preston as Brigadier General of the district composed of Wythe, Montgomery, & Monroe (1799 Jan. 24); Wilson Cary Nicholas as Senator to supply the vacancy occasioned by the death of Henry Tazewell (1799 Dec. 5); and James Monroe as Governor (1799 Dec. 6).
Maj. Robert Quarles submits quarterly returns of arms, ordnance, & public stores at Point of Fork (1796 Dec. 31, 1797 March 31, 1797 July 1, 1797 Sept. 30, 1797 Dec. 31, 1798 July 1, 1798 Oct. 1, 1799 April 1, & 1799 July 1). In addition, Quarles writes on such topics as the employment of additional artificers (1797 Jan. 16), contracts for rations (1797 Oct. 30, 1798 Oct. 13, 1798 Nov. 7, 1799 Oct. 1 & 28), payment for a contract for timber to erect a stockade around the arsenal (1798 March 30), the shipment of 250 arms to Richmond (1798 June 18), an inventory of the boxes of arms sent to Richmond (1798 July 31), artificers at Point of Fork (1798 Aug. 14), medical attendance & medicines for the soldiers (1798 Oct. 1), and the receipt of arms (1799 Oct. 10). Additionally, Quarles writes the Governor on 12 April 1798 applying for the appointment of Major Commandant of the State Arsenals.
Thomas Newton, Jr., County Lieutenant & Superintendent of Quarantine for Norfolk Borough, frequently writes the Governor concerning the quarantine of vessels. On 5 May 1797, Newton informs the Governor of the purchase of five acres of land to perform quarantine. The following month, Newton comments on the house to be built on the land he purchased for performing quarantine (1797 June 2). He also notifies the Governor of the payment to William Willoughby as undertaker to build the house (1797 July 1). Newton also often informs the Governor of possible infectious diseases in the West Indies and other places (1797 July 17 & 28, 1797 Aug. 28, & 1798 Aug. 2). On 16 November 1799, he requests to discharge the quarantine boat from service. Lastly, Newton encloses a letter from Dr. J. K. Read along with a report of vessels entered & examined by the health officer (1799 Nov. 14 & 27). Other sundry correspondence from Newton includes information on the suit of John Hamilton & Co. against him (1797 Nov. 11) and a warrant for the Dismal Swamp Company (1799 April 7).
Governor Wood corresponds often with Samuel Shepard, Auditor of Public Accounts, and Jaquelin Ambler & William Berkeley, Treasurers, regarding various financial matters. Shepard regularly encloses accounts of expenses for forwarding notices, executions, etc. (1797 March 16, 1797 Sept. 7, 1798 Sept. 1, & 1799 April 5). Additionally, John Carter submits lists of warrants issued through the Auditor's Office (1797 April 1, 1797 July 6, 1797 Oct. 17, 1798 Feb. 1, 1799 March 8, 1799 April 6, 1799 Aug. 29, & 1799 Nov. 10). Jaquelin Ambler reports to the Governor on attempted robberies into the Treasury and suggests alterations to the building to prevent theft (1797 May 5). William Berkeley was appointed Treasurer upon the death of Jaquelin Ambler in 1798. Berkeley writes the Governor on 9 November 1799 requesting a wooden chest to hold receipts until the iron one arrives.
Additional significant correspondence includes the following: Robert Brooke enclosing a list of furniture in the Government House (1796 Dec. 19); William Price, Register of the Land Office, regarding an estimate of the time to record the plats & certificates of survey (1797 Jan. 16); James Garrard enclosing resolutions of the Kentucky Legislature on the report of the commissioners for ascertaining & fixing the boundary line between Virginia & Kentucky (1797 Jan. 2); James Breckinridge, Attorney General of Kentucky, regarding a claim in that state (1797 Feb. 2); James Penn regarding the New London Armory and the manufacture of arms in Virginia (1797 Feb. 20); William Lindsay regarding the suspected privateer Neptune (1797 March 16); Harry Toulmin, Secretary of Kentucky, regarding the boundary line between Kentucky & Virginia (1797 March 23); Edmund Randolph regarding the title of Dr. Philip Turpin to the garden in the Governor's possession (1797 April 12); Louis-Etienne Duhail, Vice-Consul of the French Republic at Norfolk, to Gen. Thomas Mathews regarding the blockade of two French frigates in Norfolk by the British (1797 May 29); Thomas Mathews to Timothy Pickering enclosing a letter received from Governor Wood and a letter from Duhail regarding armed vessels within U.S. jurisdiction (1797 May 30); Brig. Gen. Thomas Mathews regarding letters from Louis-Etienne Duhail concerning the rules for foreign ships departing U.S. waters (1797 June 19); Samuel Ashe, Governor of North Carolina, regarding Robert Wheatley, committed to one of the jails in Virginia for horse stealing (1797 June 27); Thomas Mathews enclosing his letter to the commanding officers of the French & British ships of war within Virginia to prevent any violation of the rights of the United States as a neutral nation (1797 July 10); Robert Johnson to Archibald Stuart regarding the boundary line between Kentucky & Virginia and settling claims in the disputed area (1797 Aug. 9); James Robertson regarding possible quarantine of vessels from Philadelphia at City Point (1797 Aug. 31); Archibald Stuart, Joseph Martin, & Creed Taylor, Commissioners of Kentucky, regarding the boundary line between Kentucky & Virginia (1797 Sept. 18); James McClurg, Mayor of Richmond, enclosing a resolution of the Common Hall regarding protecting Richmond from the spread of infectious disease (1797 Sept. 19); James Allan, Jr., Superintendent of Quarantine in Fredericksburg, regarding yellow fever in Philadelphia, Baltimore, & Norfolk (1797 Sept. 25); Vice-Consul Duhail regarding French ships of war (1797 Oct. 26); John Dawson recommending Robert McCormick to establish a manufactory of arms in Virginia (1798 Jan. 12); Edmund Randolph regarding his opinion on the refusal of the clerk of the District Court of Henrico to issue a writ of ad quod damnum for the Arsenal (1798 Feb. 1); Charles Lee regarding the dismissal of the suit by the Indiana Company against the State of Virginia by the Supreme Court (1798 Feb. 14); Robert McCormick proposing to manufacture 4,000 stand of arms (1798 Feb. 23); Elisha White applying to be Director of the Penitentiary House (1798 Feb. 27); William B. Wallace applying for Superintendent of the Arsenal created by an act of Congress (1798 March 5); John Steele regarding progress in settling the accounts of Virginia with the U.S. (1798 March 23 & April 12); Henry Lee recommending William B. Wallace as Commandant of the State Arsenal (1798 May 8); Lawrence H. Wells, Robert Gwathmey, & Edward Johnston regarding the formation of the Richmond Light Infantry Blues (1798 June 28); John Dawson regarding the claim of the Executive against the United States (1798 July 19 & 20); James Garrard, Governor of Kentucky, regarding a free negro boy purchased by Brian Stone (1798 Aug. 27); Samuel Mulford, Superintendent of Quarantine at Rockett's Landing, regarding the quarantine of the Sloop Johns (1798 Sept. 6 & 8); James Talley asking permission for the water from his grist mill to pass down a run on part of public ground to the river including a map (1798 Sept. 7); Elisha C. Dick, Superintendent of Quarantine at Alexandria regarding a house for quarantine and yellow fever (1798 Oct. 10); William B. Giles resigning his seat in the House of Representatives (1798 Oct. 2); John Dundas, Mayor of Alexandria, regarding the petition for the establishment of Craney Island as a permanent place for quarantine on the Potomac (1798 Nov. 14); John Taylor Gilman, Governor of New Hampshire, regarding resolutions from Virginia (1799 Jan. 19); Creed Taylor enclosing a letter from the Commissioners of Kentucky for ascertaining the boundary line with the state of Virginia (1799 June 23); Alexander Quarrier regarding shingles purchased for public buildings in Richmond (1799 Sept. 7); Archibald Stuart, Joseph Martin, & Creed Taylor enclosing a report, map, & survey of the commissioners with respect to the boundary line between Virginia & Kentucky (1799 Dec. 4).
Other noteworthy items include: proceedings of a meeting of the President & Vice-President electors from Benjamin Temple (1796 Dec. 7); certificate of the oaths administered to Meriwether Jones & John Pendleton as Privy Councilors (1796 Dec. 7); certificate of the oath administered to James Wood as Governor (1796 Dec. 7); certificate of the oath taken by John Mayo as Privy Councilor (1796 Dec. 28); bond of William Price & John Harvie to record all grants, plats, & certificates of survey in the Land Office (1797 Jan. 30); certificate of election for Thomas Evans as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for York District (1797 March 27); order for a warrant from the Auditor for the Lunatic Hospital in Williamsburg (1797 April 21); proclamation by Governor Wood regarding a reward for the capture of William Compton, alias Smith, convicted of murder (1797 May 18); articles of agreement between the Governor & James Swan of Boston to furnish 4,000 stand of arms for Virginia (1797 May N.D., 1798 Jan. 16, & 1798 April 10); certificate of Alexander McRae as a member of the Privy Council (1797 June 1); list of persons who qualified as citizens at Richmond District Court (1797 Aug. 31); bond of William Berkeley as Treasurer (1798 Jan. 12); report of the state of the Treasury at the death of Jaquelin Ambler (1798 Jan. 10); report of John Guerrant & Samuel McCraw on the Arsenal at Point of Fork and recommend the erection of a stockade (1798 Feb. 6); resolutions of the Massachusetts House of Representatives regarding an amendment to the Constitution concerning the eligibility of the President, Vice President, etc., as natural born citizens at the time of the Declaration (1798 June 28); proclamation calling the General Assembly into session on 3 September (1798 July 7); account of James Breckinridge for iron purchased by the Director of the Penitentiary Building (1798 Oct. 13); bond of William Berkeley as Treasurer (1799 Jan. 4); certificate of oath to John Allen & John White as Privy Councilors (1799 Jan. 24); statements of arms issued from the Public Arsenal to the militia since 1792 (1799 April 17 & June 22); election certificate of Henry Lee to the U.S. House of Representatives (1799 May 2); and bills of lading for shingles to the Penitentiary House (1799 Sept. 16).