1792.005: A New Mode of Legislation.

Published: 1792

Full Title: A new mode of legislation, lately invented by Matthew Clay, representative for the county of Pittsylvania. Be it known to the Public, that the said Matthew Clay, did present to the present Session of Assembly, a counterfeit Petition, for clearing the Banister River in Pittsylvania County, with the Names of a number of the Inhabitants of the said County annexed thereto, who never saw the said Petition; and in Order to give Power to this new Machine in Legislation, did misrepresent and assert Falsities, respecting the Utility of the Mills on the said River. The Subscriber submits to the Public, whether the said Matthew Clay should not have the exclusive Privilege of this new Mode of gaining Power in politics? And whether any Person for the future, should be permitted to imitate his Invention, under Penalty of forfeiting his seat in that Honorable House. … William Clark.

Author: Clark, William (fl. 1788-1800).

Place Issued: Virginia

Issuing Press: Uncertain

Description: 1 sheet [1 pg.]; 26 x 22 cm. (broadside).


Complaint here is against Matthew Clay (1754-1815). Petition discussed, fraudulent or not, resulted in the passage of a law to extend "the navigation Banister river" (Hening's Statutes, XIII: 278-279). Enactment led to an exchange of insults between Clay and delegate David Clark of Halifax County, so the Assembly passed a second act that appointed commissioners to determine scale of those improvements (Hening's Statutes, XIII: 275-276). The affair did not damage Clay's political career; he remained in the Assembly until early 1795, was elected to Congress 1797 to 1813, and died 2 months into a return term in Congress in 1815. Sheet lacks printer credit and date. Issued after the Assembly session mentioned (October 17 to December 20, 1791), probably in Richmond, though title could be a Petersburg imprint, given that town's closer proximity to Pittsylvania, so the indeterminate attribution here; the assigned date of 1792 based on the probability that this broadside was published in order to stymie Clay's re-election to the following Assembly during spring or summer 1792.

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