Jefferson immediately assumed his seat in the newly-created House of Delegates under the Virginia Constitution (James Madison arrived in Williamsburg a week later). On 12 October, Jefferson introduced a motion to revise the laws of Virginia, focusing especially on criminal, religious, education, and property rights.
Jefferson was trying to empower the "Rising Generation" in Virginia, which to him meant the non-Tidewater Virginians, who held most of the property and power (The Tidewater region of Virginia dominated the state, and Williamsburg was the state capital; eventually, Jefferson would relocate the state capital to Richmond, in his Piedmont region of Virginia). On 26 October, Jefferson's bill passed, and was sent to a special committee, which included, among others, George Mason). Jefferson's big idea was to transform Virginia's laws, making the state an "Enlightened Republic".
In order to accomplish that goal, TJ wanted to spread (diffuse) knowledge among the white population in Virginia: all Virginians should be able to acquire land, civilize the wilderness, to experience and benefit from self-government. TJ wanted to create an Agrarian Society that would nurture Anglo-Saxon virtues for a Republic. TJ's definition of a republic meant that a majority of freeholders (whites) would have a real stake in society and a voice in government.
TJ's first reform came under the heading of property law; he was trying to end the de facto system of feudalism in Virginia, which was labeled "Primogeniture" and "Entail". TJ believed that if so much land was in so few hands (especially the Tidewater Elite), African slavery would increase. Land reform was a very radical effort by TJ to socially and literally change the landscape of Virginia; to him land ownership was, at least in part, a "Zero Sum Game", in that if power was taken from the Tidewater region, more power should flow to his beloved Piedmont region of Virginia.
By the Revolutionary War, most of Virginia's land was "entailed", which meant that lands were inherited generation after generation (10% of Virginia's population owned, through "entailing" the land, the vast majority of the state). TJ wanted that land freed up for redistribution, which of course led to fierce resistance by the powerful Tidewater Elite.
This reform would be no easier for Jefferson to achieve. TJ saw African slavery as a deterrent to good manners, morals, and laws. Weakening the slaveholding oligarchy "entailed" more than land redistribution; it would require radical social engineering taking into account that no one in Virginia advocated mass emancipation . . . there was zero support for freeing African slaves OR allowing them to acquire citizenship rights.
TJ's goal was to reduce the African slave population, which he hoped would lead to its future extinction. Ending the African Slave Trade to Virginia seemed to be the best way to start his attempted reform, and TJ wanted to grant freedom to African slaves after five years of labor. TJ also supported the voluntary manumission (formal emancipation) of African slaves; his goal in the end was to "Whiten" the population of Virginia. TJ believed that racial homogeneity was essential for a society to prosper and flourish.
Jefferson had enough of the "Dead Hands" of Virginia's long deceased gentry influencing life in Virginia. He also saw that the practice of "Primogeniture" and "Entail" affected African slaves as well, in that their future was set in a negative, oppressive fashion. To TJ, Virginia in 1776 was a corrupt and disfigured state, with various factions at war with each other. TJ viewed African slavery as a social contagion, but abolition of slavery would be an unreliable solution. Rather, exiling Free Blacks from Virginia would establish a racial quarantine, making Virginia safe for future (white) generations.
In Jefferson's view, education would suture the wounds created by the Tidewater aristocracy and African slavery. Education would transform the Virginia master class into an Enlightened Class with liberal, republican principles. TJ introduced Bill #79, which wanted primary schools for all free children, grammar schools for the more capable children, and college for the most gifted (those with genius and virtue).
TJ wanted the state to help subsidize the cost of his educational reforms, mostly the odds would increase that education wouldn't remain in the province of Virginia's Elite (this attitude would resurface in the 1790s and early 1800s with his battles with the Federalist Party . . . to TJ, the Federalists were unfit to rule since they were "corrupt"). Also, TJ wanted to weed out the poor lawyers in Virginia's county courts; he labeled them "insects" . . . in short, TJ wanted to create an Enlightened All-Male White Intellectual Guardian Class in his beloved state of Virginia.
In the Fall of 1776, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were both on the Committee of Religion, which had a total of 17 members. They were only socially connected with each other at that point; they both knew an incredible array of prominent and powerful Virginians . . . it would take more interactions and time until they would discover that they were "Political Soul Mates".
TJ wanted to end what he termed "Spiritual Tyranny"; even with James Madison in support of creating an atmosphere of religious freedom (by reducing the power of the Anglican Church) in Virginia, powerful members of the Tidewater region blocked the bill in committee . . . the separation of Church and State would be delayed.