Front Page Titles (by Subject) 1776 - to thomas nelson 1 - The Works, vol. 2 (1771-1779)
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1776 - to thomas nelson 1 - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 2 (1771-1779) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 2.
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to thomas nelson1
Philadelphia, May 16, 1776.
—I arrived here last Tuesday after being detained hence six weeks longer than I intended by a malady of which Gilmer can inform you. I have nothing new to inform you of as the last post carried you an account of the naval engagement in Delaware. I inclose a vote of yesterday on the subject of government as the ensuing campaign is likely to require greater exertion than our unorganized powers may at present effect. Should our Convention propose to establish now a form of government perhaps it might be agreeable to recall for a short time their delegates. It is a work of the most interesting nature and such as every individual would wish to have his voice in. In truth it is the whole object of the present controversy; for should a bad government be instituted for us in future it had been as well to have accepted at first the bad one offered to us from beyond the water without the risk & expence of contest. But this I mention to you in confidence, as in our situation, a hint to any other is too delicate however anxiously interesting the subject is to our feelings. In future you shall hear from me weekly while you stay, and I shall be glad to receive Conventional as well as publick intelligence from you.
P. S.—In the other colonies who have instituted government they recalled their delegates, leaving only one or two to give information to Congress of matters which might relate to their country particularly, and giving them a vote during the interval of absence.
I am at present in our old lodgings tho’ I think, as the excessive heats of the city are coming on fast, to endeavor to get lodgings in the skirts of the town where I may have the benefit of a freely circulating air. Tell Page & McClurgh that I received their letters this morning and shall devote myself to their contents. I am here in the same uneasy anxious state in which I was the last fall without Mrs. Jefferson who could not come with me. I wish much to see you here, yet hope you will contrive to bring on as early as you can in convention the great questions of the session. I suppose they will tell us what to say on the subject of independence,1 but hope respect will be expressed to the right of opinion in other colonies who may happen to differ from them. When at home I took great pains to enquire into the sentiments of the people on that head, in the upper counties I think I may safely say nine out of ten are for it. Adieu. My compliments to Mrs. Nelson.
May 19. Yesterday we received the disagreeable news of a second defeat at Quebec. Two men of war, two frigates and a tender arrived there early on the 6th instant. About 11 o’clock the same day the enemy sallied out to the number of a thousand. Our forces were so dispersed at different posts that not more than 200 could be collected at Headquarter’s. This small force could not resist the enemy. All our cannon, 500 muskets & 200 sick men fell into their hands. Besides this one of their frigates got possession of a batteau with 30 barrels of powder & an armed vessel which our crew was forced to abandon. Our army was to retreat to the mouth of the Sorel.
Genl. Arnold was to set off from Montreal to join them immediately, upon whose rejoining them, it was hoped they might return as far as Dechambeau. General Wooster has the credit of this misadventure, and if he cannot give a better account of it than has yet been heard, I hope he will be made an example of. Generals Thomas and Sullivan were on their way with reinforcements. Arnold had gone up to Montreal on business, or as some say, disgusted by Wooster.
The congress having ordered a new battalion of riflemen to be raised in Virginia, Innis wishes much to be translated to it from the Eastern shore which was so disagreeable to him that he had determined to have resigned.
report of committee on canadian affairs1
[May 21, 1776.]
R. 1. postpon’d
Resolved that the Commissioners for Indian affairs in the Northern department be directed to use their utmost endeavors to procure the assistance of the Indians within their department to act against the enemies of the Colonies, that they particularly endeavor to engage them to undertake the reduction of Niagara, engaging on behalf of Congress to pay them 133⅓ dollars for every prisoner they shall take and bring to headquarters, or to the said Commissioners.
R. 2. postpon’d
Resolved that the Commissioners for Indian affairs in the Middle department be directed to use their utmost endeavors to procure the assistance of the Indians within their department, that they particularly endeavor to engage them to undertake the reduction of Detroit upon the same terms offered the Indians who shall go against Niagara.
R. 3. postpon’d
Resolved that the Commissioners in each of the said departments be directed to employ one or more able partisans whom the Congress will liberally reward for their exertions in the business to be committed to them.
R. 4. referred to N. J. & P. for
Resolved that it is the opinion of this Committee that there be raised for the Service of the United Colonies one battalion of Germans1
Resolved that the companies of riflemen from Virginia and Maryland be regimented and that the regiment be compleated to the original number of the Pennsylvania battalion.
R. 6. a
Resolved that the Pennsylvania battalion of riflemen be compleated to their original establishment.
R. 6. b
Resolved that two Companies of the forces now in the Delaware counties be ordered to Cape May.
Resolved that the Committee appointed to Contract for cannon be directed to procure a number of brass or iron field pieces to be made or purchased immediately [and sent to Canada.]1
R. 8. Come. already appointed to procure medec.?
Resolved that a proper assortment of Medicenes be sent to Canada.
Resolved that Mr. James Mease be directed to purchase & forward to the Quarter Master general in New York as much cloth for tents as he can procure.
R. 10. Comd. to the Come. of which Mr. Shearman is Chairman
Resolved that proper persons be appointed by Congress to purchase such articles as may be wanted for the use of the soldiers in Canada & send the same to Albany, that they may be forwarded to the army in Canada: and that they be particularly attentive to provide in time a sufficient number of leathern breeches & under waistcoats, and such other winter cloathing as may be necessary for them.
Resolved that the Committee appointed to contract for the making of shoes for the army be directed to forward with all expedition to the Quarter Master in Canada such as are already provided.
Resolved that Prisoners taken by continental arms be not exchanged by any authority but the Continental Congress.
Resolved that it is the opinion of this Committee that all vessels which sailed from the port or harbor of Boston whilst the town of Boston was in possession of the enemy, having on board the effects belonging to the enemies of America & which have been or may be seized be liable, together with the said effects, to confiscation; in the same manner and proportions as have been heretofore resolved by Congress.
Resolved that the Continental agents in the respective colonies where no courts have been established for the trial of captures have power & be directed to dispose at public sale of such articles of a perishable nature as shall be taken from the enemies of America, and that the money arising from such sale be liable to the decree of such court whenever established.
Resolved that the inventory of the Ordinance Stores taken by Capt. Manly be sent to General Washington, & that he be requested to appoint a person on the part of the Colonies to join one on the part of Captain Manly & his crew, who, having first taken an oath for that purpose, shall proceed to value the same, & if they cannot agree in the value they shall call in a third person to determine the same: that the report of such persons be returned to Congress so soon as may be, and the value of the stores belonging to Captn. Manly & his crew be thereupon transmitted them.
proposed constitution for virginia1
A Bill for new modelling the form of government and for establishing the Fundamental principles of our future Constitution
Whereas George king of Great Britain & Ireland and Elector of Hanover.2
Be it therefore enacted by the authority of the people that the said George the third king of Great Britain and elector of Hanover formerly holding & exercising the kingly power office within this colony be & he is, be & he is hereby absolutely divested of deposed from the kingly office & powers within this colony, within yt government & absolutely divested of all it’s rights and powers & that he & his descendants & all persons claimg by or through him & all other persons whatsoever are hereby declared, shall be & forever remain incapable of being again appointed to holding the same & further that the sd office shall henceforth cease and be never more erected within this government colony.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid that the in lieu of those which have heretofore taken place the following fundamental laws & principles of government shall henceforth be established.
The Legislative, Executive, & Judicial offices shall be kept for ever separate, & no person exercising the one shall be capable of appointment to the others or to either of them.
Legislation shall be exercised by two separate houses who shall be called the General Assembly of Virginia to wit a house of Representatives and a house of Senators which shall be called the General assembly of Virginia.
The sd house of representatives shall be composed of persons chosen by the people annually on the [ day of December] and shall have power to meet in General Assembly on the [ day of January] following & so from time to time on their own adjournments, or at any other time when summoned by the Administrator, & to continue sitting so long as they shall think the publick service requires.
Vacancies in the sd house by death or disqualification shall be filled up by the electors under a warrant from the Speaker of the house.
All persons holding [half All male persons of full age & sane mind having a freehold estate in [¼ of an acre] of land in any town, or in  acres of land in the country, & all persons resident in the country colony who shall have paid scot & lot to government the last [three two] years shall have right to vote give their vote in the election of their respective representatives. And all every person so qualified to vote elect shall be capable of being elected; provided he shall have given no bribe either directly or indirectly to any elector voting for & and shall take an oath of fidelity to the government before he enters state & of duty in his office on the exercise thereof his office, and shall hold during his continuance therein in the said office he shall hold no public post of profit either himself or by another for his use.
The number of representatives for each county or borough shall be so proportioned to the number of it’s qualified electors that the whole number of representatives shall not exceed  nor be less than  for the present there shall be one representative for every  qualified electors in each county or borough; but when ever this or any future proportion shall be likely to exceed or fall short of the limits beforementioned, the proportion shall be again adjusted by the house of representatives.
The house of representatives when met shall be free to act according to their own judgments.
The Senate shall consist of  not less than  nor more than  members at the least, who shall be appointed by the house of representatives [for life. Their qualifications shall be an oath of fidelity to government the state & of duty in their office the being of  years of age at the least and the having given no bribes directly or indirectly to obtain their appointment: while in the Senatorial office they shall be incapable of holding any public posts of profits either themselves or by others for their use.
With the house of Senators]1 One third of them shall be removed out of office by lot at the end of the first three years & their places be supplied by a new appointment; one other third shall be removed by lot in like manner at the end of the second three years & their places be supplied by a new appointment; after which one third shall be removed annually at the end of every three years according to seniority. When once removed they shall be forever incapable of being re-appointed to that house.
The judges of the General court & of the High court of chancery shall have session & deliberative voice but not suffrage in the house of Senators.
The Senate & the house of representatives shall each of them have power to originate & amend bills, save only that money bills shall be originated & amended by the Representatives only; and the assent of both houses shall be requisite to pass a law.
The General assembly shall have no power to pass any law inflicting death for any crime excepting murder & excepting also those offences in the military service for which they shall think punishment of death absolutely necessary; nor shall they have power to prescribe and all capital punishments in other cases are hereby abolished: nor shall they have power to prescribe torture in any case whatever; nor for inflicting torture for in any cause whatever nor shall any law for levying money be in force longer than [ten] years from the time of it’s commencement.
Two thirds of the members of either house shall be a quorum to proceed to business.
For The exercise of the executive powers shall be exercised by in manner following one person to be called the [Administrator] who shall be annually appointed by the [house of representatives ] on the second day of their first session, & who after having acted [one] year shall be incapable of being again appointed till to that office until he shall have been out of the said same office [three] years.
Under him shall be appointed by the same house & at the same time a Deputy Administrator to assist his principal in the discharge of his office, & to succeed to the whole powers thereof in case of his death before the year shall have expired, to the whole powers thereof during the residue of the year.
The Administrator shall possess the powers formerly held by the king save only that
he shall be bound by acts of legislature tho’ not expressly named.
he shall have no negative on the bills of the Legislature.
he shall be liable to action tho’ not to personal restraint for private duties or wrongs?
he shall not possess no the prerogatives of
of dissolving, proroguing, or adjourning either house of assembly
of Declaring war or making concluding peace
of issuing letters of marque or reprisal
of raising or introducing armed forces, building armed vessels, forts or strongholds.
of coining monies or regulating their value.
of regulating weights & measures.
of erecting courts, offices, boroughs, corporations, fairs, markets, ports, beacons, lighthouses, sea-marks.
of laying embargoes or prohibiting the exportations of any commodity for a longer space than 4 days.
of retaining or recalling a member of the state but by legal process pro delicto vel contractu.
of making denizens.
of pardoning crimes or remitting fines or punishmts.
of creating dignities or granting rights of precedence.
but these powers shall be exercised by the legislature alone.
A privy council shall be annually appointed by the house of Representatives to consist of such number as they shall whose duty it shall be to give advice to the Administrator when called on by him. With them the Deputy Admr shall have session & suffrage
Treasurer Delegates see below
A Treasurer &c.
High Sheriffs and coroners of counties shall be annually elected by those qualified to vote for representatives: but officers of the courts of general jurisdiction and [part missing] by their respective courts and no person who shall have served as high sheriff [one] year shall be incapable of being reelected to the said office in the same county till he shall have been out of office [five] years.
Delegates see belowOther officers
All other officers civil & military shall be appointed by the Administrator but such appointment shall be subject to the negative of the privy council. Saving however to the legislature a right power of transferring from the Administrator the right of ye to any other persons appointment of such officers to any persons they may think fit of such offices or any of them.
The A Treasurer shall be appointed by the house of Representatives, who shall issue no money but by warrant from authority of both houses.
Delegates shall be appointed to represent this colony in the American Congress shall be appointed when necessary by the H. of Represves, who shall not be after serving [two] years in that office they shall not be capable of being reappointed to the same during an interval of [two] years.
The Judicial powers shall be exercised
First by County courts & other inferior jurisdictions.
Secondly by a General Court & a High Court of Chancery.
Thirdly by a Court of Appeals.
The justices judges of the County courts & other inferior jurisdictions shall be appointed by the Administrator, subject to the negative of the privy council. They shall not be fewer than [five] in number their jurisdiction shall be defined from time to time by the Legislature: & they shall be removable for misbehavior by the court of Appeals.
Genl Court & Chancery
The judges of the General court & of the High court of Chancery shall be appointed by the Administrator and Privy council. If kept united they shall be  in number, if separate there shall be [part lacking] &  for the High Court of Chancery. The appointment shall be made from the faculty of the law and of such persons of that faculty as shall have actually exercised the same at some the bar or bars of some court or courts of record within this colony for [seven] years. They shall hold their commissions during good behavior, for breach of which they shall be removable by the court of Appeals. Their jurisdiction shall be defined from time to time by the Legislature.
Court of Appeals
The court of Appeals shall consist of not less than  nor more than  members to be chosen appointed by the house of Representatives; they shall hold their offices during good behavior, for breach of which they shall be removable by an act of the legislature only. Their jurisdiction shall be to determine finally all causes removed before them from the General court or High court of Chancery on suggestion of error, to remove judges of the General court or High court of Chancery or of the County courts or other inferior jurisdictions for misbehavior: [to try impeachments against of high offenders to be lodged before them by the House of representatives for such crimes as shall be hereafter defined shall hereafter be precisely defined by the Legislature shall hereafter define with precision and [[Editor: illegible word]] and for the punishment of which the sd Legislature shall have previously presented certain & determinate pains. In this court the judges of the Genl Ct., & High Ct. of Chancy shall have session and deliberative voice but no suffrage.
All facts, in causes, whether of Chancery, Common, Ecclesiastical or Marine law, shall be tried by a jury upon evidence given viva voce in open court; unless but where witnesses are out of the colony in which case their depositions may be used or unable to attend through by through sickness or other invincible necessity, their depositions may be proposed submitted to the credit of the jury.
All Fines & Amercements shall be fixed by juries and determined assessed and terms of imprisonment for Contempts shall or misdemeanors shall be fixed by the verdict of a jury.
Stile of process
All process original & judicial process shall issue run in the name [part lacking] which it issues.
Two thirds of the members of the General Court, High court of Chancery, or Court of Appeals shall be a Quorum to proceed to business.
Unappropriated or Forfeited lands shall be appropriated by the Administrator and with the consent of the privy council.
Fifty acres of la
Every male person of full age neither owning nor having owned  acres of land shall be entitled to an appropriation of  acres or to so much as shall make up what he owns or has owned  acres in full and absolute dominion. And no other person shall be capable of taking an appropriation.
Lands heretofore holden of the crown in fee simple and those hereafter to be appropriated shall be holden of no superior by him in full and absolute dominion of no superior whatever.
No lands shall be appropriated until purchased of the Indian natives proprietors nor shall any purchases be made of them but on behalf of the public by authority of acts of the General assembly to be made passed for every purchase specially
[part lacking] contained within the charters erecting the colonies of Maryland, Pennsylvania, North & South Carolina, are hereby ceded & released and forever confirmed to the people of those pro colonies respectively with all the rights of jurisdiction and property, jurisdiction & and government and all other rights whatsoever claimed which might at any time heretofore have been claimed by this colony. The Western and Northern extent of this country shall in all other respects stand as described fixed by the Charter of until by act of the Legislature any new a territory or one or more territories shall be laid off Westward of the Alleganey mountains for the establishment of any new colony or colonies, which colony or colonies when established shall be free and independent of this & shall shall be established on the same fundamental laws contained in this instrument & shall be free & independent of this colony and of all the world.
Descents shall go according to the laws of Gavelkind, save only that females shall have equal rights with males.
No person hereafter coming into this country shall be held in slavery under any pretext whatever.
All persons who by their own oath or affirmation or by other testimony shall give satisfactory proof to any court of record in this colony that they purpose to reside in the same  years at the least and who shall subscribe the fundamental laws shall be considered as a residents & entitled to all the rights of a persons natural born.
All persons shall have full & free liberty of religious opinion nor shall any be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious institution. But this shall not be held to justify any seditious preaching or conversation against the authority of the civil government.
No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms [within his own lands or tenements].
There shall be no standing army but in time of actual war.
Printing presses shall be free, except so [part lacking] of private injury they may give cause [part lacking] action.
All forfeitures heretofore going to the king shall go to the state, save only such as the legislature may hereafter abolish.
The royal claim to Wrecks, Waifs, Strays, Treasure-trove, royal mines, royal fish, royal birds are declared to have been usurpations on the common right.
No salaries or perquisites shall be given to any officer but by act of the legislature. No salaries shall be given to the Administrator, members of the house of Representatives, Legislative houses, judges of the court of appeals, justices of the peace, members of the privy council, judges of the County courts or other inferior jurisdictions, Privy counsellors, or delegates to the American Congress. But the reasonable expences of the Administrator, members of the house of Representatives, judges of the court of Appeals, members of Privy counsellors & Delegates for subsistence while acting in the duties of their office may shall be borne by the public if the Legislature shall so direct.
Qualificns of officers
The Qualifications of all officers Civil, military Executive Judicial Civil, military & Ecclesiastical shall be an oath of fidelity to the governm state and the having given no bribe to obtain their office.
None of these fundamental laws & principles of government shall be repealed or alt or altered but by the personal consent of the people to be on summons to meet in their respective counties on one & the same day by an act of Legislature to be passed for every special occasion: and if in such county meetings the people of two thirds of the counties shall give their suffrage for any particular alter ation or repeal referred to them by the said act, the same shall be accordingly repealed or altered or repealed, and such repeal or alteration shall take it’s place among these fundamental [part lacking] the same footing with them in lieu of the article re[part lacking].
The laws heretofore in force in this colony shall remain still in force except so far as they are altered by the foregoing fundamental laws, or so far as they may be hereafter altered by acts of the legislature.
It is proposed that the above bill, after correction by the Convention, shall be referred by them to the people to be assembled in their respective counties: and that the suffrages of two third of the counties shall be requisite to establish it.
[A Bil]l for new-modelling the form of Government and for establishing the Fundamental principles thereof in future.
Whereas George Guelf king of Great Britain and Ireland and Elector of Hanover, heretofore entrusted with the exercise of the kingly office in this government hath endeavored to pervert the same into a detestable and insupportable tyranny;
by putting his negative on laws the most wholesome & necessary for ye public good;
by denying to his governors permission to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operations for his assent, and, when so suspended, neglecting to attend to them for many years;
by refusing to pass certain other laws, unless the person to be benefited by them would relinquish the inestimable right of representation in the legislature
by dissolving legislative assemblies repeatedly and continually for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people;
when dissolved, by refusing to call others for a long space of time, thereby leaving the political system without any legislative head;
by endeavoring to prevent the population of our country, & for that purpose obstructing the laws for the naturalization of foreigners & raising the condition [lacking appro]priations of lands;
[by keeping among u]s, in times of peace, standing armies and ships of war;
[lacking]ing to render the military independent of & superior to the civil power;
by combining with others to subject us to a foreign jurisdiction, giving his assent to their pretended acts of legislation.
for quartering large bodies of troops among us;
for cutting off our trade with all parts of the world;
for imposing taxes on us without our consent;
for depriving us of the benefits of trial by jury;
for transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offences; and
for suspending our own legislatures & declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever;
by plundering our seas, ravaging our coasts, burning our towns and destroying the lives of our people;
by inciting insurrections of our fellow subjects with the allurements of forfeiture & confiscation;
by prompting our negroes to rise in arms among us; those very negroes whom he hath from time to time by an inhuman use of his negative he hath refused permission to exclude by law;
by endeavoring to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, & conditions of existence;
by transporting at this time a large army of foreign mercenaries [to complete] the works of death, desolation & tyranny already begun with circum[stances] of cruelty & perfidy so unworthy the head of a civilized nation;
by answering our repeated petitions for redress with a repetition of injuries;
and finally by abandoning the helm of government and declaring us out of his allegiance & protection;
by which several acts of misrule the said George Guelf has forfeited the kingly office and has rendered it necessary for the preservation of the people that he should be immediately deposed from the same, and divested of all its privileges powers, & prerogatives:
And forasmuch as the public liberty may be more certainly secured by abolishing an office which all experience hath shewn to be inveterately inimical thereto or which and it will thereupon become further necessary to re-establish such ancient principles as are friendly to the rights of the people and to declare certain others which may co-operate with and fortify the same in future.
Be it therefore enacted by the authority of the people that the said, George Guelf be, and he hereby is deposed from the kingly office within this government and absolutely divested of all it’s rights, powers, and prerogatives: and that he and his descendants and all persons acting by or through him, and all other persons whatsoever shall be and forever remain incapable of the same: and that the said office shall henceforth cease and never more either in name or substance be re-established within this colony.
And be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid that the following fundamental laws and principles of government shall henceforth be established.
The Legislative, Executive and Judiciary offices shall be kept forever separate; no person exercising the one shall be capable of appointment to the others, or to either of them.
Legislation shall be exercised by two separate houses, to wit a house of Representatives, and a house of Senators, which shall be called the General Assembly of Virginia.
Ho. of Representatives.
The sd house of Representatives shall be composed of persons chosen by the people annually on the [1st day of October] and shall meet in General assembly on the [1st day of November] following and so from time to time on their own adjournments, or at any time when summoned by the Administrator and to shall continue sitting so long as they shall think the publick service requires.
Vacancies in the said house by death or disqualification shall be filled by the electors under a warrant from the Speaker of the said house.
All male persons of full age and sane mind having a freehold estate in [one fourth of an acre] of land in any town, or in  acres of land in the country, and all persons resident in the colony who shall have paid scot and lot to government the last [two years] shall have right to give their vote in the election of their respective representatives. And every person so qualified to elect shall be capable of being elected, provided he shall have given no bribe either directly or indirectly to any elector, and shall take an oath of fidelity to the state and of duty in his office, before he enters on the exercise thereof. During his continuance in the said office he shall hold no public pension nor post of profit, either himself, or by another for his use.
The number of Representatives for each county or borough shall be so proportioned to the numbers of it’s qualified electors that the whole number of representatives shall not exceed  nor be less than [125.] for the present there shall be one representative for every [ ] qualified electors in each county or borough: but whenever this or any future proportion shall be likely to exceed or fall short of the limits before-mentioned, it shall be again adjusted by the house of representatives.
The house of Representatives when met shall be free to act according to their own judgment and conscience.
The Senate shall consist of not less than  nor more than  members who shall be appointed by the house of Representatives. One third of them shall be removed out of office by lot at the end of the first [three] years and their places be supplied by a new appointment; one other third shall be removed by lot in like manner at the end of the second [three] years and their places be supplied by a new appointment; after which one third shall be removed annually at the end of every [three] years according to seniority. When once removed, they shall be forever incapable of being re-appointed to that house. Their qualifications shall be an oath of fidelity to the state, and of duty in their office, the being  years of age at the least, and the having given no bribe directly or indirectly to obtain their appointment. While in the senatorial office they shall be incapable of holding any public pension or post of profit either themselves, or by others for their use.
The judges of the General court and of the High court of Chancery shall have session and deliberative voice, but not suffrage in the house of Senators.
The Senate and the house of representatives shall each of them have power to originate and amend bills; save only that bills for levying money bills shall be originated and amended by the representatives only: the assent of both houses shall be requisite to pass a law.
The General assembly shall have no power to pass any law inflicting death for any crime, excepting murder, & such those offences in the military service for which they shall think punishment by death absolutely necessary: and all capital punishments in other cases are hereby abolished. Nor shall they have power to prescribe torture in any case whatever: nor shall there be power anywhere to pardon crimes or to remit fines or punishments: nor shall any law for levying money be in force longer than [ten years] from the time of its commencement
[Two thirds] of the members of either house shall be a Quorum to proceed to business.
The executive powers shall be exercised in manner following.
One person to be called the [Administrator] shall be annually appointed by the house of Representatives on the second day of their first session, who after having acted [one] year shall be incapable of being again appointed to that office until he shall have been out of the same [three] years.
Under him shall be appointed by the same house and at the same time, a Deputy-Administrator to assist his principal in the discharge of his office, and to succeed, in case of his death before the year shall have expired, to the whole powers thereof during the residue of the year.
The administrator shall possess the power formerly held by the king: save only that, he shall be bound by acts of legislature tho’ not expressly named;
he shall have no negative on the bills of the Legislature;
he shall be liable to action, tho’ not to personal restraint for private duties or wrongs;
he shall not possess the prerogatives;
of dissolving, proroguing or adjourning either house of Assembly;
of declaring war or concluding peace;
of issuing letters of marque or reprisal;
of raising or introducing armed forces, building armed vessels, forts or strongholds;
of coining monies or regulating their values;
of regulating weights and measures;
of erecting courts, offices, boroughs, corporations, fairs, markets, ports, beacons, lighthouses, sea-marks.
of laying embargoes, or prohibiting the exportation of any commodity for a longer space than  days.
of retaining or recalling a member of the state but by legal process pro delicto vel contractu.
of making denizens.
of pardoning crimes, or remitting fines or punishments.
of creating dignities or granting rights of precedence.
but these powers shall be exercised by the legislature alone. and excepting also those powers which by these fundamentals are given to others, or abolished.
A Privy council shall be annually appointed by the house of representatives whose duties it shall be to give advice to the Administrator when called on by him. With them the Deputy Administrator shall have session and suffrage.
Delegates to represent this colony in the American Congress shall be appointed when necessary by the house of Representatives. After serving [one] year in that office they shall not be capable of being re-appointed to the same during an interval of [one] year.
A Treasurer shall be appointed by the house of Representatives who shall issue no money but by authority of both houses.
An Attorney general shall be appointed by the house of Representatives
High Sheriffs, &c.
High Sheriffs and Coroners of counties shall be annually elected by those qualified to vote for representatives: and no person who shall have served as high sheriff [one] year shall be capable of being re-elected to the said office in the same county till he shall have been out of office [five] years.
All other Officers civil and military shall be appointed by the Administrator; but such appointment shall be subject to the negative of the Privy council, saving however to the Legislature a power of transferring to any other persons the appointment of such officers or any of them.
The Judiciary powers shall be exercised
First, by County courts and other inferior jurisdictions:
Secondly, by a General court & a High court of Chancery:
Thirdly, by a Court of Appeals.
County Courts, &c.
The judges of the county courts and other inferior jurisdictions shall be appointed by the Administrator, subject to the negative of the privy council. They shall not be fewer than [five] in number. Their jurisdictions shall be defined from time to time by the legislature: and they shall be removable for misbehavior by the court of Appeals.
Genl. Court and High Ct. of Chancery
The Judges of the General court and of the High court of Chancery shall be appointed by the Administrator and Privy council. If kept united they shall be  in number, if separate, there shall be  for the General court &  for the High court of Chancery. The appointment shall be made from the faculty of the law, and of such persons of that faculty as shall have actually exercised the same at the bar of some court or courts of record within this colony for [seven] years. They shall hold their commissions during good behavior, for breach of which they shall be removable by the court of Appeals. Their jurisdiction shall be defined from time to time by the Legislature.
Court of Appeals
The Court of Appeals shall consist of not less than  nor more than  members, to be appointed by the house of Representatives: they shall hold their offices during good behavior, for breach of which they shall be removable by an act of the legislature only. Their jurisdiction shall be to determine finally all causes removed before them from the General Court or High Court of Chancery, or of the county courts or other inferior jurisdictions for misbehavior: [to try impeachments against high offenders lodged before them by the house of representatives for such crimes as shall hereafter be precisely defined by the Legislature, and for the punishment of which, the said legislature shall have previously prescribed certain and determinate pains.] In this court the judges of the General court and High court of Chancery shall have session and deliberative voice, but no suffrage.
All facts in causes whether of Chancery, Common, Ecclesiastical, or Marine law, shall be tried by a jury upon evidence given vivâ voce, in open court: but where witnesses are out of the colony or unable to attend through sickness or other invincible necessity, their deposition may be submitted to the credit of the jury.
All Fines or Amercements shall be assessed, & Terms of imprisonment for Contempts & Misdemeanors shall be fixed by the verdict of a Jury.
All Process Original & Judicial shall run in the name of the court from which it issues.
Two thirds of the members of the General court, High court of Chancery, or Court of Appeals shall be a Quorum to proceed to business.
IV. Rights, Private and Public
Unappropriated or Forfeited lands shall be appropriated by the Administrator with the consent of the Privy council.
Every person of full age neither owning nor having owned  acres of land, shall be entitled to an appropriation of  acres or to so much as shall make up what he owns or has owned  acres in full and absolute dominion. And no other person shall be capable of taking an appropriation.
Lands heretofore holden of the crown in fee simple, and those hereafter to be appropriated shall be holden in full and absolute dominion, of no superior whatever.
No lands shall be appropriated until purchased of the Indian native proprietors; nor shall any purchases be made of them but on behalf of the public, by authority of acts of the General assembly to be passed for every purchase specially.
The territories contained within the charters erecting the colonies of Maryland, Pennsylvania, North and South Carolina, are hereby ceeded, released, & forever confirmed to the people of those colonies respectively, with all the rights of property, jurisdiction and government and all other rights whatsoever which might at any time heretofore have been claimed by this colony. The Western and Northern extent of this country shall in all other respects stand as fixed by the charter of until by act of the Legislature one or more territories shall be laid off Westward of the Alleghaney mountains for new colonies, which colonies shall be established on the same fundamental laws contained in this instrument, and shall be free and independent of this colony and of all the world.
Descents shall go according to the laws Gavelkind, save only that females shall have equal rights with males.
No person hereafter coming into this county shall be held within the same in slavery under any pretext whatever.
All persons who by their own oath or affirmation, or by other testimony shall give satisfactory proof to any court of record in this colony that they propose to reside in the same  years at the least and who shall subscribe the fundamental laws, shall be considered as residents and entitled to all the rights of persons natural born.
All persons shall have full and free liberty of religious opinion; nor shall any be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious institution.
No freeman shall be debarred the use of arms [within his own lands].
There shall be no standing army but in time of actual war.
Printing presses shall be free, except so far as by commission of private injury cause may be given of private action.
All Forfeitures heretofore going to the king, shall go to the state; save only such as the legislature may hereafter abolish.
The royal claim to Wrecks, waifs, strays, treasure-trove, royal mines, royal fish, royal birds, are declared to have been usurpations on common right.
No Salaries or Perquisites shall be given to any officer but by some future act of the legislature. No salaries shall be given to the Administrator, members of the legislative houses, judges of the court of Appeals, judges of the County courts, or other inferior jurisdictions, Privy counsellors, or Delegates to the American Congress: but the reasonable expences of the Administrator, members of the house of representatives, judges of the court of Appeals, Privy counsellors, & Delegates for subsistence while acting in the duties of their office, may be borne by the public, if the legislature shall so direct.
No person shall be capable of acting in any office Civil, Military [or Ecclesiastical] The Qualifications of all not otherwise directed, shall be an oath of fidelity to state and the having given no bribe to obtain their office who shall have given any bribe to obtain such office, or who shall not previously take an oath of fidelity to the state.
None of these fundamental laws and principles of government shall be repealed or altered, but by the personal consent of the people on summons to meet in their respective counties on one and the same day by an act of Legislature to be passed for every special occasion: and if in such county meetings the people of two thirds of the counties shall give their suffrage for any particular alteration or repeal referred to them by the said act, the same shall be accordingly repealed or altered, and such repeal or alteration shall take it’s place among these fundamentals and stand on the same footing with them, in lieu of the article repealed or altered.
The laws heretofore in force in this colony shall remain in force, except so far as they are altered by the foregoing fundamental laws, or so far as they may be hereafter altered by acts of the Legislature.
report on cedars cartel1
[June 17, 1776.]
The Committee to whom were re-committed the Cartel between Brigadier General Arnold & captain Forster for the exchange of prisoners & the several papers relating thereto have had the same under their consideration and agreed to the following report.
Your committee having proceeded to make enquiry into the facts relating to the agreement entered into at St. Anne’s between Brigadier General Arnold & Capt. Forster, find a part of them well authenticated and others not, yet being apprehensive that silence on the part of Congress may be construed by some into a ratification of the said agreement they have thought it best to state the same as they appear at present, with such resolutions as they will justify if found true, reserving final decision till the whole truth shall be accurately enquired into & transmitted to Congress.
Your Committee on the best information they have been able to obtain find:
That on the 24th day of May last a party of the enemy consisting as is said of about 600 men under the command of capt. Forster attacked a post at the Cedars held by a garrison of 350 Con[tinental for]ces, then under the command of Major Butterfield.
That the said post was secured by a Stoc[kade of wood?] to cover the garrison from the enemy’s musquetry, that there were mounted therein two field pieces, & that the enemy had no cannon.
That the said garrison had ammunition & provisions sufficient to have lasted them ten days, that they had reason to expect immediate reinforcements in a few days,1 which on a requisition from themselves, was actually on it’s way from Montreal, and moreover were so near the main body of the army that they could not doubt being joined by detachments from thence sufficient to oblige the enemy to retire.
That the enemy for two days kept up only a scattering fire, by which not a single man of the garrison was killed or wounded, & that on the third day the garrison surrendered themselves prisoners of war having capitulated for the preservation of their own baggage from plunder, & that their persons should not be deliver’d into the hands of the savages.1
That the enemy broke the capitulation utterly & immediately on their part. Plundering the garrison of their baggage & stripping the cloathes from their backs, & Delivering the Prisoners into the hands of the Savages.1
That they then proceeded against the reinforcement which was on it’s way consisting of about 150 men under the command of Major Sherburne, that Major Sherburne & his party engaged & fought them with bravery; but being at length surrounded by numbers greatly superior and informed that the fort and garrison were already in the hands of the enemy, they were obliged to surrender themselves prisoners of war also; but whether on capitulation or not your committee are not informed.
That after they had put themselves into the hands of the enemy, the said enemy murdered two of them, butchering the one with tomahawks & drowning the other; and left divers others exposed on an island naked and perishing with cold & famine.
That by this time Brigadier General Arnold who had been detached by Major General Thomas to relieve the fort at the Cedars, approached & was making dispositions to attack the enemy.
That capt. Forster, thereupon notified1 General Arnold, that if he attacked him, the prisoners, then 500 in number, would every man of them be put to death; & proposing at the same time an exchange of [torn out.]
Arnold was extremely averse to entering on any agreement of that kind, & was at length induced to do it by no other motive than that of saving the prisoners from cruel & inhuman death, threatened in such terms as left no doubt it was to be perpetrated.
That agreement was thereupon entered into between Brigadr. Genl. Arnold & capt. Forster, bearing date at St. Anne’s, on the 27th day of May, whereby the s̃d Forster stipulated that he would deliver up all the said prisoners except such as were1 Canadians, to Genl. Arnold; who agreed on the other part that so many of equal rank & condition should be returned to the enemy of those taken by our arms on former occasions. That the prisoners so stipulated to be given up to the enemy were not in the possession of Genl. Arnold, nor under his direction but were at that time distributed through various parts of the continent under the orders of this house.
That capt. Forster in violation of this agreement also detained a considerable number of the prisoners he had thus stipulated to deliver, & sent them into the Indian countries for purposes unknown.
Whereupon your Committee have come to the following resolutions.
Resolved that it is the opinion of this Committee that plundering the baggage of the garrison at the Cedars, stripping them of their clothes, & deliverg the Prisonr into ye hands of the Savages1 was a breach of the capitulation on the part of the enemy, for which satisfaction ought to be demanded.
Resolved that the murder of two of the prisoners of war was a gross and barbarous violation of the laws of nature & nations, for which satisfaction should be made by the enemy by delivering into our hands either captain Forster or the individuals concerned in committing the murder.
Resolved that the agreement entered into at St. Anne’s was a mere sponsion on the part of Brigadr. Genl. Arnold, he not being invested with the powers for the absolute disposal of the Continental prisoners in general; and that therefore it is subject to be ratified or annulled at the discretion of this house, the sole representative of the United Colonies.2
Resolved that it is the opinion of this committee that Major Sherburne & his party having fought as men should do, so much of the said sponsion as relates to their exchange should be ratified & confirmed by this house; & that an equal number of captives from the enemy, of the same rank & condition should be restored to them as stipulated by the said sponsion.
Resolved that [torn out] opinion of this com. [torn out] the said sponsion as relates to the exchange of Major Butterfield & the garrison surrendering with him, ought not to be ratified: because we should redeem none but those who will fight, and because too the said sponsion excepted the Canadian prisoners, & we will in no case admit a distinction of countries among men fighting in the same cause.
Resolved therefore that the said Major Butterfield & garrison should still be considered as prisoners of war, appertaining to the enemy; but as by the actual murder of two of the prisoners & the threats at St. Anne’s to put the others to death, the enemy are found capable of destroying their captives, the s̃d prisoners ought not to be put into their hands, but should be permitted to remain in their own country; that in the meantime they shall not bear arms nor otherwise act against the enemy, but are bound to demean themselves in all things in the manner of prisoners of war enlarged on their parole, & to hold themselves subject to be recalled by the enemy whenever proper security shall have been given that their lives shall be safe.
Resolved that previous to the delivery of the prisoners to be returned in lieu of majr. Sherburne & those captivated with him, satisfaction be required from the enemy for the murder of the two prisoners by delivering into our hands capt. Forster, or the individuals concerned in perpetrating that horrid act; and likewise restitution for the plunder at the Cedars taken contrary to the faith of the capitulation; and that till such satisfaction & restitution be made, the said prisoners be not delivered.
Resolved that it is the opinion of this committee that if the enemy shall put to death, torture, or otherwise ill treat any of the hostages in their hands, or of the Canadian, or other prisoners captivated by them in the service of the United colonies, recourse must be had to retaliation as the sole means of stopping the progress of human butchery, & that for that purpose punishments of the same kind & degree be inflicted on an equal number of their subjects taken by us, till they shall be taught due respect to the violated rights of nations.
Resolved that it is the opinion of this committee, that a copy of this report be transmitted to the Commander in chief of the Continental forces in Canada, to be by him sent to the British commander there; and that he moreover make further & diligent [torn out] into the facts therein stated, & such others as may [torn out] same subject & rel [torn out] same duly authenticated [torn out] possible despatch [torn out] for their final decision, & that in the meantime the prisoners delivered up by the enemy abstain from bearing arms or otherwise acting against them.1
report on canadian affairs1
[June 17, 1776.]
The Committee to whom the report from the Com̃mee of the whole house was recommitted, have had the same under their consideration & agreed to the following resolutions.
Resolved that it is the opinion of this Committee that an experienced general be immediately sent into Canada, with power to appoint a deputy adjutant general, a Deputy Quarter-master general, and such other officers as he shall find necessary for the good of the service, and to fill up vacancies in the army in Canada, and notify the same to Congress for their approbation. That he also have power to suspend any officer there till the pleasure of Congress be known, he giving his reasons for so doing in the orders of suspension & transmitting to Congress as soon as possible the charge against such officer. Provided that this power of suspending officers & filling up vacancies shall not be continued beyond the first day of October next.
Resolved that no officer suttle or sell to the soldiers on penalty of being fined one month’s pay & dismissed the service with infamy on conviction before a court martial.
Resolved that the baggage of Officers and soldiers be regulated conformably to the rules in the British armies.
Resolved that all sales of arms, ammunition, cloathing and accoutrements made by soldiers be void.
Resolved that no troops employed in Canada, be disbanded there: that all soldiers in Canada ordered to be disbanded, or whose times of enlistment being expired shall refuse to re-enlist, shall be sent under proper officers to Ticonderoga or such other post on the lakes as the General shall direct, where they shall be mustered, and the arms, accoutrements, blankets, & utensils, which they may have belonging to the public shall be delivered up and deposited in the public store.
Resolved that Doctor Potts be employed in the Continenal service in the Canadian department or at Lake George as the General shall think best: & that his pay be dollars per month. But this appointment is not intended to interfere with the office of Doctr. Stringer.1
Resolved that a Deputy Muster Master General be immediately sent into Canada.
Resolved that the local Commissaries and Quarter masters appointed at the different garrisons or posts shall make weekly returns to the General of the provisions & stores in the places at which they may happen to be stationed.
Resolved that the General to be sent to Canada be directed to view Point au fer and to order a fortress to be erected there if he should think proper.
Resolved that the General officers, Deputy Quarter master general, Local commissaries, Paymaster in Canada, and all other persons there who have received public monies be ordered without delay to render and settle their accounts; on which settlement no General officer shall receive pay as Colonel of a regiment, nor Field officer as Capt. of Company.
Resolved that Commissioners be appointed to settle in Canada the debts due on Certificates given by officers to the Canadians for carriages and other services. & to settle also the accounts for such goods as may have been seized through necessity for the use of the army to be by them finally discharged & that it be given in instruction to them to attend particularly to the case of Mr. Bernard: and also that in settling the certified debts they state carefully the names of all those who have given certificates, the nature of the service, & the time when performed; to return the whole when settled & stated to the board of treasury to be by them finally examined and discharged.1
Resolved that the Deputy Paymaster General be directed to transmit to Congress copies of the particulars before mentioned on the original certificates, with the report & remarks of the commissioners thereon.
Resolved that General Schuyler be directed to make a good waggon road from Fort Edward to Cheshire’s; to clear Wood creek & to construct a Lock at Skenesborough, so as to have a continued navigation for batteaus from Cheshires into Lake Champlain; to erect a grand magazine at Cheshire’s & to secure it by a stockaded fort; to erect a saw mill on Schoon creek; to order skilful persons to survey and take the level of the water’s falling into Hudson’s river near Fort Edward & those which fall into Wood creek & interlock with the former, particularly Jones’s run & Half-way brook, the latter of which is said to discharge itself into Wood creek at Cheshire’s. That he be directed to have a greater number of boats and hands kept on Hudson’s river, at the different stations between Albany & Fort Edward in order to save the expence of waggonage. That he be empowered to appoint proper officers to superintend the carriage by land and transportation by water of provisions, military stores and other things into Canada, that neither waste nor delay may arise therein. That he build with all expedition as many gallies and armed vessels as in the opinion of himself & the General officer to be sent into Canada shall be sufficient to make us indisputably masters of the lakes Champlain & George: for which purpose it is the opinion of this Committee there should be sent to him a master carpenter acquainted with the construction of the gallies used on the Delaware, who should take with him other carpenters, & models also if requisite. And that it be submitted to General Schuyler whether a temporary fortification or entrenched camp either at Crown point or opposite to Ticonderoga may be necessary.
Resolved that the Commissary general be directed to supply the army in Canada with provisions, and to appoint proper officers under him to receive and issue the same at the several posts taking the directions of the General; that he be empowered to contract with proper persons in Canada for supplying the army there with fresh provisions; that he be directed to purchase a quantity of Albany peas, and to furnish as much biscuit as may be necessary; and that his pay be raised to one hundred & fifty dollars per month.
Resolved that the Quarter-master General be directed to provide & forward such tents, cloathing and untensils as are wanted for the army in Canada, subject to the direction of the Commander in chief.
Resolved that General Washington be directed to send into Canada such small brass or iron field pieces as he can spare: that he be instructed to issue orders that no certificates be given in future by any but Brigadiers, Quarter-masters & their deputies, or a field officer on a march or officer commanding at a detached post.
Referr’d to 18th June
Resolved that General Washington be directed to order an enquiry to be made into the conduct of the officers heretofore employed in the Canada department; that the said enquiry be made at such times and places as in his judgment shall be most likely to do justice as well to the public as to the individuals; & that the result of the said enquiry together with the testimonies upon the subject be transmitted to Congress. That moreover all officers accused of cowardice, plundering, embezzlement of public monies & other misdemeanors be immediately brought to trial, and whereas Congress is informed that an opinion has prevailed that officers resigning their commissions are not subject to trial by a Court martial for offences committed previous to such resignation, whereby some have evaded the punishments to which they were liable, it is hereby declared that such opinion is not just.
Resolved that it is the opinion of this Committee that Lieutt. Colonel Burbeck be dismissed from the Continental service for disobedience of orders.1
Resolved that it is the opinion of this Committee that General Washington be authorized to fill up vacancies in the army by issuing Commissions to such officers under the rank of field officers as he shall think proper to supply such vacancies; he making a monthly return to Congress of such appointments which, unless disapproved of by Congress on such return, shall stand confirmed; and that blank commissions be sent to the General for that purpose.
Resolved that the pay of such of the soldiers at New York as have been enlisted at five dollars per month be raised to six dollars and two thirds per month.
Resolved that letters be written to the Convention of New
Resolved that a bounty of Ten dollars be given to every non-commissioned officer and soldier who will enlist to serve for the term of three years.
Resolved that letters be written to the Conventions of New Jersey & New York and to the Assembly of Connecticut recommending them to authorize the Commander in chief in the colony of New York, to call to the assistance of that colony (when necessity shall require it) such of the militia of those colonies as may be necessary; and to afford him such other assistance as the situation of affairs may require. And that it be further recommended to the Convention of New York to empower to said Commander in Chief to impress carriages and water craft when necessary for the public service, and also to remove ships and other vessels in Hudson’s and in the East rivers for the purpose of securing them from the enemy.
Resolved that General Washington be permitted to employ the Indians whom he may take into the service of the United colonies pursuant to a resolution of Congress of the 25 May last in any place where he shall judge they will be most useful, and that he be authorized to offer them a reward of one hundred dollars for every commissioned officer, & of thirty dollars for every private soldier of the King’s troops that they shall take prisoners in the Indian Country or on the frontiers of these colonies.
to william fleming1
Philadelphia, July 1, 1776.
—Yours of 22d June came to hand this morning and gratified me much, as this with your former contains interesting intelligence.
Our affairs in Canada go still retrograde, but I hope they are now nearly at their worst. The fatal sources of these misfortunes have been want of hard money with which to procure provisions, the ravages of the small pox with which one half of our army is still down, and an unlucky choice of some officers. By our last letters, Genl. Sullivan was retired as far as Isle au noix with his dispirited army and Burgoyne pursuing him with one of double or treble his numbers. It gives much concern that he had determined to make a stand there as it exposes to great danger of losing him and his army; and it was the universal sense of his officers that he ought to retire. Gen. Schuyler has sent him positive orders to retire to Crown point but whether they will reach him in time enough to withdraw him from danger is questionable. Here it seems to be the opinion of all the General officers that an effectual stand may be made and the enemy not only prevented access into New York, but by preserving a superiority on the lakes we may renew our attacks on them to advantage as soon as our army is recovered from the small pox and recruited. But recruits, tho long ordered, are very difficult to be procured on account of that dreadful disorder.
The Conspiracy at New York is not yet thoroughly developed, nor has any thing transpired, the whole being kept secret till the whole is got through. One fact is known of necessity, that one of the General’s lifeguards being thoroughly convicted was to be shot last Saturday. General Howe with some ships (we know not how many) is arrived at the Hook, and, as is said, has landed some horse on the Jersey shore. The famous major Rogers is in custody on violent suspicion of being concerned in the conspiracy.
I am glad to hear of the Highlanders carried into Virginia. It does not appear certainly how many of these people we have but I imagine at least six or eight hundred. Each effort should be made to keep up the spirits of the people the succeeding three months; which in the Universal opinion will be the only ones in which our trial can be severe.
I wish you had depended on yourself rather than others for giving me an account of the late nomination of delegates. I have no other state of it but the number of votes for each person. The omission of Harrison and Braxton and my being next to the lag give me some alarm. It is a painful situation to be 300 miles from one’s country, and thereby opened to secret assassination without a possibility of self-defence. I am willing to hope nothing of this kind has been done in my case, but yet I cannot be easy. If any doubts has arisen as to me, my country will have my political creed in the form of a “Declaration” &c. which I was lately directed to draw. This will give decisive proof that my own sentiment concurred with the vote they instructed me to give. Had the post been to go a day later we might have been at liberty to communicate this whole matter.
July 2. I have kept open my letter till this morning but nothing more new. Adieu.
declaration of independence1
July 4, 1776.
A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America in general Congress assembled.
When in the Course of human Events it becomes necessary for a People to advance from that Subordination, in which they have hitherto remained and to assume among the Powers of the Earth, the equal and independent Station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent Respect to the opinions of Mankind requires that they should declare the Causes, which impell them to the Change.
We hold these Truths to be self evident; that all Men are created equal and independent; that from that equal Creation they derive Rights
inherent and unalienable; among which are the Preservation of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness; that to secure these Ends, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the governed; that whenever, any form of Government, shall become destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter, or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such Form, as to them shall Seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence indeed will dictate that Governments long established should not change for light and transient Causes; and accordingly all Experience hath shown, that Mankind are more disposed to Suffer, while Evils are Sufferable, than to right themselves, by abolishing the Forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long Train of Abuses and Usurpations, begun at a distinguish’d Period, and pursuing invariably, the same object, evinces a Design to reduce them under absolute Power, it it is their Right, it is their Duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future Security. Such has been the patient Sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the Necessity, which constrains them to expunge their former
Systems of Government. The History of his present Majesty, is a History of unremitting Injuries and Usurpations, among which no one Fact stands Single or Solitary to contradict the uniform Tenor of the rest, all of which have in direct object, the Establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be Submitted to a candid World, for the Truth of which We pledge a Faith, as yet unsullied by falsehood.
He has refused his Assent to Laws the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing Importance, unless suspended in their operation, till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended he has neglected utterly to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large Districts of People, unless those People would relinquish the Right of Representation in the Legislature, a Right inestimable to them and formidable to Tyrants only.
He has dissolved Representative Houses, repeatedly, and continually, for opposing with manly Firmness his Invasions on the Rights of the People.
He has refused, for a long Space of Time after such Dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the legislative Powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their Exercise, the state remaining in the mean Time, exposed to all the Dangers of Invasion, from without, and Convulsions within—
He has endeavoured to prevent the Population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their Migrations hither; and raising the Conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has suffered the Administration of Justice totally to cease in some of these Colonies, refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
He has made our Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the Tenure of their offices, and amount of their Salaries:
He has created a Multitude of new offices by a Self-assumed Power, and sent hither swarms of officers to harrass our People and eat out their Substance.
He has kept among us, in Times of Peace, Standing Armies and Ships of War.
He has affected to render the military, independent of, and Superiour to, the civil Power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a Jurisdiction foreign to our Constitution and unacknowledged by our Laws; giving his Assent to their pretended Acts of legislation; for quartering large Bodies of armed Troops among us; for protecting them by a Mock Tryal from Punishment for any Murders they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States; for cutting off our Trade with all Parts of the World; for imposing Taxes on us without our Consent; for depriving Us of the Benefits of Trial by Jury; for transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offenses, for taking away our Charters, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Government; for suspending our own Legislatures and declaring themselves invested with Power to legislate for us in all Cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, withdrawing his Governors, and
declaring us, out of his Allegiance and Protection.
He has plundered our Seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the Lives of our People.
He is at this Time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to complete the Works of death, Desolation, and Tyranny, already begun with Circumstances of Cruelty and Perfidy unworthy the Head of a civilized Nation.
He has endeavoured to bring on the Inhabitants of our Frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known Rule of Warfare is an undistinguished Destruction of all Ages, Sexes, and Conditions of existence.
He has incited treasonable Insurrections of our Fellow Citizens, with the allurement of Forfeiture and Confiscation of our Property.
He has waged cruel War against human Nature itself, violating its most sacred Rights of Life and Liberty in the Persons of a distant People who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into Slavery in another Hemisphere, or to incur miserable Death, in their Transportation thither. This piratical Warfare, the opprobrium of infidel Powers, is the Warfare of the Christian King of Great Britain.
He has prostituted his Negative for Suppressing every legislative Attempt to prohibit or to restrain an execrable Commerce, determined to keep open a Markett where Men should be bought and sold, and that this assemblage of Horrors might want no Fact of distinguished Die
He is now exciting those very People to rise in Arms among us, and to purchase their Liberty of which he has deprived them, by murdering the People upon whom he also obtruded them: thus paying off, former Crimes committed against the Liberties of one People, with Crimes which he urges them to commit against the Lives of another.
In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress, in the most humble Terms; our repeated Petitions have been answered by repeated Injury. A Prince, whose Character is thus marked by every Act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the Ruler of a People who mean to be free.—future ages will scarce believe, that the Hardiness of one Man, adventured, within the Short Compass of twelve years only, on so many Acts of Tyranny, without a Mask, over a People, fostered and fixed in the Principles of Liberty.
Nor have we been wanting in Attentions to our British Brethren. We have warned them from Time to Time of attempts of their Legislature to extend a Jurisdiction over these our States. We have reminded them of the Circumstances of our Emigration and Settlement here, no one of which could warrant so strange a Pretension. That these were effected at the expense of our own Blood and Treasure, unassisted by the Wealth or the Strength of Great Britain; that in constituting indeed, our Several Forms of Government, we had adopted one common King, thereby laying a Foundation for Perpetual League and Amity with them; but that Submission to their Parliament, was no Part of our Constitution, nor ever in Idea, if History may be credited; and we appealed to their Nature, Justice and Magnanimity, as well as to the Ties of our common Kindred to disavow these usurpations, which were likely to interrupt our Correspondence and Connection. They too have been deaf to the Voice of Justice and of Consanguinity, and when occasions have been given them by the regular Course of their Laws of removing from their Councils, the Disturbers of our Harmony, they have by their free Election, re-established them in Power. At this very Time too, they are permitting their Chief Magistrate to send over not only soldiers of our common Blood, but Scotch and foreign Mercenaries, to invade and deluge us in Blood. These Facts have given the last Stab to agonizing affection, and manly Spirit bids us to renounce forever these unfeeling Brethren. We must endeavour to forget our former Love for them, and to hold them, as we hold the rest of Mankind, enemies in War, in Peace Friends. We might have been a free and a great People together but a Communication of Grandeur and of Freedom it seems is below their Dignity. Be it so, since they will have it: The Road to Happiness and to Glory is open to us too; we will climb it, apart from them, and acquiesce in the Necessity which denounces our eternal Separation.
We therefore the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled, do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these States, reject and renounce all Allegiance and Subjection to the Kings of Great Britain, and all others, who may hereafter claim by, through, or under them; We utterly dissolve and break off, all political Connection which may have heretofore subsisted between us and the People or Parliament of Great Britain, and finally we do assert and declare these Colonies to be free and independent States, and that as free and independent States they shall hereafter have Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which independent States may of Right do. And for the Support of this Declaration, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honour.
A Declaration by the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA in General Congress assembled.
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of natture’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with inherent & inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their happiness. Prudence indeed will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes: and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations begun at a distinguished period and pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies, and such is now the necessity which constrains them to expunge their former systems of government. The history of the present king of Great Britain is a history of unremitting injuries and usurpations, among which appears no solitary fact to contradict the uniform tenor of the rest; but all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states. To prove this let facts be submitted to a candid world, for the truth of which we pledge a faith yet unsullied by falsehood.
He has refused his assent to laws the most wholesome and necessary for the public good:
He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained, and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other laws for the accommodation of large districts of people unless those people would relinquish the right of representation, in the legislature, a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative houses repeatedly and continually for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the right of the people:
He has refused for a long time after such dissolutions to cause others to be elected whereby the legislative powers incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large for their exercise, the state remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without and convulsions within:
He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states, for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither; and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands:
He has suffered the administration of justice totally to cease in some of these states, refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers:
He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices and the amount and payment of their salaries:
He has erected a multitude of new offices by a self assumed power and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people and eat out their substance:
He has kept among us in times of peace, standing armies and ships of war without the consent of our legislatures:
He has affected to render the military, independent of and superior to the civil power:
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitutions and unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation, for quartering large bodies of armed troops among us; for protecting them by a mock trial from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these states; for cutting off our trade with all parts of the world; for imposing taxes on us without our consent; for depriving us in many cases of the benefits of trial by jury; for transporting us beyond seas to be tried for pretended offences; for abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies; for taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and fundamentally the forms of our governments for suspending our own legislatures and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever:
He has abdicated government here, withdrawing his governors, and declaring us out of his allegiance and protection.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns and destroyed the lives of our people:
He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy unworthy the head of a civilized nation:
He has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions of existence.
He has incited treasonable insurrections of our fellow-citizens, with the allurements of forfeiture and confiscation of our property:
He has constrained others, taken captive on the high seas to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands:
He has waged cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life and liberty in the persons of distant people, who never offended him, captivating and carrying them into slavery in another hemisphere, or to incur miserable death in their transportation thither. This piratical warfare, the opprobrium of infidel powers, is the warfare of the Christian king of Great Britain. Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought and sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or to restrain this execrable commerce: and that this assemblage of horrors might want no fact of distinguished dye, he is now exciting those very people to rise in arms among us, and to purchase that liberty of which he has deprived them by murdering the people upon whom he also obtruded them; thus paying off former crime committed against the liberties of one people, with crimes which he urges them to commit against the lives of another.
In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms; our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injuries. A prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a people who mean to be free. Future ages will scarce believe that the hardiness of one man adventured within the short compass of twelve years only, to build a foundation, so broad and undisguised for tyranny over a people fostered and fixed in the principles of freedom.
Nor have we been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time to attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over these our states. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here, no one of which could warrant so strange a pretension: that these were effected at the expence of our own blood and treasure, unassisted by the wealth or strength of Great Britain: that in constituting indeed our several forms of government, we had adopted a common king, thereby laying a foundation for perpetual league and amity with them: but that submission to their parliament was no part of our constitution nor ever in idea, if history be credited; and we have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, as well as to the ties of our common kindred, to disavow these usurpations which were likely to interrupt our connection and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity, and when occasions have been given them, by the regular course of their laws of removing from their councils the disturbers of our harmony, they have by their free elections re-established them in power. At this very time they are permitting their chief magistrate to send over not only soldiers of our own blood, but Scotch and other foreign mercenaries, to invade and destroy us. These facts have given the last stab to agonizing affections, and manly spirit bids us to renounce forever these unfeeling brethren. We must endeavor to forget our former love for them, to hold them as we hold the rest of mankind enemies in war, in peace friends.
We might have been a free and a great people together; but a communication of grandeur and of freedom it seems, is below their dignity. Be it so, since they will have it: the road to happiness and to glory is open to us too; we will climb it apart from them, and acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our eternal separation!
We therefore the representatives of the United States in General Congress assembled in the name and by authority of the good people of these states, reject and renounce all allegiance and subjection to the kings of Great Britain and all others who may hereafter claim by, through, or under them; we utterly dissolve all political connection which may heretofore have subsisted between us and the people or parliament of Great Britain, and finally we do assert and declare these colonies to be free and independant, and that as free and independant states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour.
In Congress, July 4, 1776. The Unanimous Declaration of the thirteen United States of America.
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time after such dissolutions to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation have returned to the People at large for their exercise, the State remaining, in the meantime, exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:—For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: — For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:—For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world: — For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:—For depriving us in many cases of the benefits of Trial by jury:—For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences: — For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:—For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments : — For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here by declaring us out of his Protection, and waging war against us:—
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the Lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has excited domestic insurrection among us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
He has constrained our fellow citizens taken Captive on the high Seas, to bear arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injuries.
A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations which would inevitably interrupt our connection and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must therefore acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent states, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.
And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
to richard henry lee1
Philadelphia, July 8th, 1776.
—For news, I refer you to your brother, who writes on that head. I enclose a copy of the Declaration of Independence, as agreed to by the House, and also as originally framed: you will judge whether it is the better of worse for the critics. I shall return to Virginia after the 11th of August. I wish my successor may be certain to come before that time: in that case, I shall hope to see you, and not Wythe, in convention, that the business of government, which if of everlasting concern, may receive your aid. Adieu, and believe me to be your friend and servant.
to george wythe1
[July ? 1776.]
The dignity and stability of government in all its branches, the morals of the people, and every blessing of society, depend so much upon an upright and skillful administration of justice, that the judicial power ought to be distinct from both the legislature and executive, and independent upon both, that so it may be a check upon both, as both should be checks upon that. The judges, therefore, should always be men of learning and experience in the laws, of exemplary morals, great patience, calmness and attention; their minds should not be distracted with jarring interests; they should not be dependent upon any man or body of men. To these ends they should hold estates for life in their offices, or, in other words, their commissions should be during good behavior, and their salaries ascertained and established by law.
For misbehavior, the grand inquest of the colony, the house of representatives, should impeach them before the governor and council, when they should have time and opportunity to make their defence; but if convicted, should be removed from their offices, and subjected to such other punishment as shall be thought proper.
notes of rules for continental congress.1
No person to read printed papers.
Every colony present, unless divided, to be counted.
No person to vote unless present when question put.
No person to walk while question putting.
Every person to sit while not speaking.
Orders of day at 12 o’clock.
Amendments first proposed to be first put.
Commit. or officers to be named before balot.
Call of the house every morn. absentees to be noted & ret’d to Convent.
No members to be absent without leave of house or written ord. of Conventn on pain of being ret’d to Conventn.
to edmund pendleton2
I am sorry the situation of my domestic affairs, renders it indispensably necessary that I should solicit the substitution of some other person here in my room. The delicacy of the House will not require me to enter minutely into the private causes which render this necessary. I trust they will be satisfied. I would not urge it again, were it not unavoidable. I shall with cheerfulness continue my duty here till the expiration of our year by which time I hope it will be convenient for my successor to attend.
resolution for rotation of members of continental congress1
To prevent every danger which might arise to American freedom by continuing too long in office the members of the Continental Congress, to preserve to that body the confidence of their friends, and to disarm the malignant imputation of their enemies: It is earnestly recommended to the several Provinces, Assemblies or Conventions of the United colonies that in their future elections of delegates to the Continental Congress one half at least of the persons chosen be such as were not of the delegation next preceeding, and the residue be of such as shall not have served in that office longer than two years. And that their deputies be chosen for one year, with power to adjourn themselves from time to time & from place to place as occasions may require, and also to fix the time & place at which their successors shall meet.
to francis eppes1
Philadelphia, July 15th, 1776.
—Yours of the 3rd inst. came to day. I wish I could be better satisfied on the point of Patty’s recovery. I had not heard from her at all for two posts before, and no letter from herself now. I wish it were in my power to return by way of the Forest, as you think it will be impracticable for Mrs. Eppes to travel to the mountains. However, it will be late in August before I can get home, and our Convention will call me down early in October. Till that time, therefore, I must defer the hope of seeing Mrs. Eppes and yourself. Admiral Howe is himself arrived at New York, and two or three vessels, supposed to be of his fleet, were coming in. The whole is expected daily.
Washington’s numbers are greatly increased, but we do not know them exactly. I imagine he must have from 30 to 35,000 by this time. The enemy the other day ordered two of their men-of-war to hoist anchor and push by our batteries up the Hudson River. Both wind and tide were very fair. They passed all the batteries with ease, and, as far as is known, without receiving material damage; though there was an incessant fire kept up on them. This experiment of theirs, I suppose, is a prelude to the passage of their whole fleet, and seems to indicate an intention of landing above New York. I imagine General Washington, finding he cannot prevent their going up the river, will prepare to amuse them whenever they shall go. Our army from Canada is now at Crown Point, but still one half down with the smallpox. You ask about Arnold’s behavior at the Cedars. It was this. The scoundrel, Major Butterfield, having surrendered three hundred and ninety men, in a fort with twenty or thirty days’ provision, and ammunition enough, to about forty regulars, one hundred Canadians, and five hundred Indians, before he had lost a single man—and Maj. Sherburne, who was coming to the relief of the fort with one hundred men, having, after bravely engaging the enemy an hour and forty minutes, killing twenty of them and losing twelve of his own, been surrounded by them, and taken prisoners also —Gen. Arnold appeared on the opposite side of the river and prepared to attack them. His numbers I know not, but believe they were about equal to the enemy. Capt. Foster, commander of the king’s troops, sent over a flag to him, proposing an exchange of prisoners for as many of the king’s in our possession, and, moreover, informed Arnold that if he should attack, the Indians would put every man of the prisoners to death. Arnold refused, called a council of war, and, it being now in the night, it was determined to attack next morning. A second flag came over; he again refused, though in an excruciating situation, as he saw the enemy were in earnest about killing the prisoners. His men, too, began to be importunate for the recovery of their fellow-soldiers. A third flag came, the men grew more clamorous and Arnold, now almost raving with rage and compassion, was obliged to consent to the exchange and six days suspension of hostilities, Foster declaring he had not boats to deliver them in less time. However, he did deliver them so much sooner as that before the six days were expired, himself and party had fled out of all reach. Arnold then retired to Montreal. You have long before this heard of Gen. Thompson’s defeat. The truth of that matter has never appeared till lately. You will see it in the public papers. No men on earth ever behaved better than ours did. The enemy behaved dastardly. Col. Allen (who was in the engagement) assured me this day, that such was the situation of our men, half way up to the thighs in mud for several hours, that five hundred men of spirit must have taken the whole; yet the enemy were repulsed several times, and our people had time to extricate themselves and come off. It is believed the enemy suffered considerably. The above account of Arnold’s affair you may rely on, as I was one of a committee appointed to inquire into the whole of that matter, and have it from those who were in the whole transaction, and were taken prisoners.
My sincere affections to Mrs. Eppes, and adieu.
to the pennsylvania convention1
Philada, July 15, 1776.
—The honble the convention of Virga attending to the inconveniencies which may arise from an unsettled jurisdn in the neighborhood of fort pitt, have instructed us to propose to your honorable house to agree on some temporary boundary which may serve for preservation of the peace in that territory until an amicable and final determination may be had before arbiters mutually chosen. Such temporary settlement will from its nature do predjudice to neither party when at any future day a complete informn of facts shall enable them to submit the doubt to a just & final decision. We can assure you that the colony of Virga does not entertain a wish that one inch should be added to theirs from the territory of a sister colony & we have a perfect confidence that the same just sentiments prevails in your house. Parties thus disposed can scarcely meet with difficulty in adjusting either a temporary or a final settlement. The decision, whatever it be, will not annihilate the lands. They will remain to be occupied by Americans & whether these be counted in the numbers of this or that of the United States will be thought a matter of little moment. We shall be ready to confer on this subject with any gentleman you may please to appoint for that purpose & am Sir, with every sentiment of respect.
notes on virginia-pennsylvania boundary
If the Monongahela is the line it will throw 300 Virginia families into Pennsylva. Most of these live below the Yohiogany & Monongahela. Not one third of that number of Pennsylvanians would be thrown on the Virginia side.
If the Laurel hill is the boundary it will place on the Virginia side all the Virginia settlers, & about 200 families of Pennsylvania settlers.
A middle line is thought to be just. Braddock’s old road crosses the Yohiogany in the Allegany mountain. Then turns along by the head of the Redstone on the West side of the Yohiogany & crosses the Laurel hill about 6 miles from Stewart’s (or Hart’s) crossing, then crosses the river at Stewart’s crossing, Jacob’s creek 4 m above mouth, Swiglie1 5 m above mouth, then goes down to the Monongahela about 2 m below the mouth of Yohiogany then recrosses it within a mile & there stopped. A line then run from the mouth of the Turtle cr. to the mouth of the first creek that empties into the Allegany above Croghans.
This would give tolerable satisfaction to Virginia, would throw about 150 Pennsylvas into Virga & about 20 or 30 Virginians into Pennsylvana. The 150 Pennsylvs live in such manner dispersed on the Yohiogany and Monongahela that no line will throw them into Pennsylva.
If Braddock’s road cannot be established, the Laurel hill & Yohiogany might do without great uneasiness, & so from the mouth of the Turtle as before.
to the governor of virginia1(patrick henry)
[Phila., July 16, 1776.]
We were informed a few weeks ago that 5000 lb. of lead imported by our colony were landed at Fredsbgh. As it appeared very unlikely it should be wanting in Virga, and the flying camp forming in the Jerseys, in the face of a powerful enemy, are likely to be in distress for this article, we thought we should be wanting to the public cause, which includes that of our own country, had we hesitated to desire it to be brought here. Had the wants of the camp admitted the delay of an application to you we should most certainly have waited an order from you, but their distress is instantaneous. Even this supply is insufficient. The army in Canada, & the army in N. York will want much lead & there seems to be no certain source of supply unless the mine in Virga can be rendered such. We are therefore by direction of Congress to beg further you will be pleased to send them what lead can be spared from Wmburgh, and moreover order 15 or 20 tons to be brought here immediately from the mine.
We take the liberty of recommending the lead mines to you as an object of vast importance, We think it impossible they can be worked to too great an extent. Considered as perhaps the sole means of supporting the American cause, they are inestimable. As an article of commerce to our colony, too, they will be valuable; & even the waggonage, if done either by the colony or individuals belonging to it, will carry to it no trifling sum of money. We enclose you a resoln of Congress of the subjects of forts & garrisons on the Ohio.
Several vacancies having happened in our battalions, we are unable to have them filled for want of a list of the officers stating their seniority. We must beg the favor of you to furnish us with one. We received from Colo. R. H. Lee a resolution of Convention recommending us to endeavor that the promotions of the officers be according to seniority without regard to regiments or companies. In one instance indeed the Congress reserved to themselves a right of departing from seniority; that is where a person either out of the line of command, or in an inferior part of it, has displayed eminent talents. Most of the the general officers have been promoted in this way. Without this reservation the whole continent must have been supplied with general officers from the Eastern colonies, where a large army was formed & officered before any other colony had occasion to raise troops at all, & a number of experienced, able & valuable officers must have been lost to the public merely from the locality of their situation.
The resolution of our Convention on the subject of salt we shall lay before Congress. The Convention of Pennsylva did not proceed to business yesterday for want of a quorum. As soon as they do we shall lay before them the proposition from our convention on the differences at fort pitt, & communicate to you the result.
We are your Excys.
to col. fielding lewis
Philadelphia, July 16, 1776.
We were informed a few weeks ago that 5000 lb. of lead imported on acct, of our colony were landed at Fredsbgh. There appears scarcely a possibility it should be wanting in Virga., more especially when we consider the supplies which may be expected from the mines of that colony. The flying camp now forming in the Jerseys & which will be immediately in the face of a powerful enemy is likely to be in great want of that article. Did their wants admit of delay of an application to the governor we should have applied to him & have not a doubt he would order it hither. But circumstances are too pressing, & we are assured we should incur the censures of our country were we to permit the public cause to suffer essentially while the means of preventing it (tho not under our immediate charge) are within our reach. We therefore take the liberty of desiring you to stop so many of the powder waggons now on their way to Wmsburgh as may be necessary & return them immediately with this lead, & whatever more you can collect sending the powder on by other waggons. But should the lead have been sent to Wmsburgh the waggons may then proceed on their Journey & the Govr. to whom we have written will take care of the matter.1
to john page2
Philadelphia, July 20, 1776.
—On the receipt of your letter we enquired into the probability of getting your seal done here. We find a drawer and an engraver here both of whom we have reason to believe are excellent in their way. They did great seals for Jamaica and Barbadoes both of which are said to have been well done, and a seal for the Philosophical society here which we are told is excellent. But they are expensive, and will require two months to complete it. The drawing the figures for the engraver will cost about 50 dollars, and the engraving will be still more. Nevertheless as it would be long before we could consult you and receive an answer, as we think you have no such hands, and the expence is never to be incurred a second time we shall order it to be done. I like the device of the first side of the seal much. The second I think is too much crowded, nor is the design so striking. But for god’s sake what is the “Deus nobis haec otia facit”? It puzzles every body here; if my country really enjoys that otium, it is singular, as every other colony seems to be hard struggling. I think it was agreed on before Dunmore’s flight from Gwyn’s island so that it can hardly be referred to the temporary holiday that has given you. This device is too ænigmatical, since it puzzles now, it will be absolutely insoluble fifty years hence.
I would not advise that the French gentleman should come here. We have so many of that country and have been so much imposed on, that the Congress begins to be sore on that head. Besides there is no prospect of raising horse this way. But if you approve of the Chevalier de St. Aubin, why not appoint him yourselves, as your troops of horse are Colonial not Continental.
The 8th battalion will no doubt be taken into Continental pay from the date you mention. So also will be the two written for lately to come to the Jersies. The 7th should have been moved in Congress long e’er now, but the muster roll sent us by Mr. Yates was so miserably defective that it would not have been received, and would have exposed him. We therefore desired him to send one more full, still giving it the same date, and I enclosed him a proper form. If he is diligent we may receive it by next post.
The answer to your public letter we have addressed to the governor.
There is nothing new here. Washington’s and Mercer’s camps recruit with amazing slowness. Had they been reinforced more readily something might have been attempted on Staten Island. The enemy there are not more than 8, or 10,000 strong. Ld Howe has recd. none of his fleet, unless some Highlanders (about 8, or 10 vessels) were of it. Our army at Tyonderoga is getting out of the small pox. We have about 150 carpenters I suppose got there by now. I hope they will out-build the enemy, so as to keep our force on the lake superior to theirs. There is a mystery in the dereliction of Crown-point. The general officers were unanimous in preferring Tyonderoga, and the Field officers against it. The latter have assigned reasons in their remonstrance which appear unanswerable, yet every one acquainted with the ground pronounce the measure right without answering these reasons.
Having declined serving here the next year, I shall be with you at the first session of our assembly. I purpose to leave this place the 11th of August, having so advised Mrs. Jefferson by last post, and every letter brings me such an account of the state of her health, that it is with great pain I can stay here till then. But Braxton purposing to leave us the day after tomorrow, the colony would be unrepresented were I to go, before the 11th. I hope to see Col. Lee and Mr. Wythe here. Tho’ the stay of the latter will I hope be short, as he must not be spared from the important department of the law. Adieu, adieu.
to francis eppes1
Philadelphia, July 23, 1776.
—We have nothing new here now but from the southward. The successes there I hope will prove valuable here, by giving new spirit to our people. The ill successes in Canada had depressed the minds of many; when we shall hear the last of them I know not; everybody had supposed Crown Point would be a certain stand for them, but they have retreated from that to Ticonderoga, against everything which in my eye wears the shape of reason. When I wrote you last, we were deceived in General Washington’s numbers. By a return which came to hand a day or two after, he then had but 15,000 effective men. His reinforcements have come in pretty well since. The flying camp in the Jerseys under General Mercer begins to form, but not as fast as exigencies require. The Congress have, therefore, been obliged to send for two of our battalions from Virginia. I hope that country is perfectly safe now; and if it is, it seems hardly right that she should not contribute a man to an army of 40,000 and an army too on which was to depend the decision of all our rights. Lord Howe’s fleet has not yet arrived. The first division sailed five days before he did, but report says it was scattered by a storm. This seems probable, as Lord Howe had a long passage. The other two divisions were not sailed when he came away. I do not expect his army will be here and fit for action till the middle or last of August; in the meantime, if Mercer’s camp could be formed with the expedition it merits, it might be possible to attack the present force from the Jersey side of Staten Island, and get rid of that beforehand; the militia go in freely, considering they leave their harvest to rot in the field.
I have received no letter this week, which lays me under great anxiety. I shall leave this place about the 11th of next month. Give my love to Mrs. Eppes, and tell her that when both you and Patty fail to write me, I think I shall not be unreasonable in insisting she shall.
to john page1
Philadelphia, Aug. 5, 1776.
—I am sorry to hear that the Indians have commenced war, but greatly pleased you have been so decisive on that head. Nothing will reduce those wretches so soon as pushing the war into the heart of their country. But I would not stop there. I would never cease pursuing them while one of them remained on this side the Mississippi. So unprovoked an attack & so treacherous a one should never be forgiven while one of them remains near enough to do us injury. The Congress having had reason to suspect the Six nations intended war, instructed their commissioners to declare to them peremptorily that if they chose to go to war with us, they should be at liberty to remove their families out of our settlements, but to remember that they should not only never more return to their dwellings on any terms but that we would never cease pursuing them with war while one remained on the face of the earth; & moreover, to avoid equivocation, to let them know they must recall their young men from Canada, or we should consider them as acting against us nationally. This decisive declaration produced an equally decisive act on their part; they have recalled their young men, & are stirring themselves with anxiety to keep their people quiet, so that the storm we apprehended to be brewing there it is hoped is blown over. Colo. Lee being unable to attend here till the 20th inst I am under the painful necessity of putting off my departure, notwithstanding the unfavorable situation of Mrs Jefferson’s health. We have had hopes till to-day of receiving an authentication of the next year’s delegation, but are disappointed. I know not who should have sent it, the Governor, or President of Convention: but certainly somebody should have done it. What will be the consequence I know not. We cannot be admitted to take our seat on any precedent or the spirit of any precedent yet set! According to the standing rules not only an authentic copy will be required, but it must be entered in the journals verbatim that it may there appear we have right to sit. This seems the more necessary as the quorum is then to be reduced. Some of the newspapers indeed mention that on such a day such & such gentlemen were appointed to serve for the next year, but could newspaper evidence be received. They could not furnish the form of the appointment, not yet that quorum is to be admitted.
Ld. Howe is recruiting fast. Forty odd ships arrived the other day, & others at other times. It is questionable whether our recruits come in so speedily as his. Several valuable West Indian men have been taken & brought in lately, & the spirit of privateering is gaining ground fast. No news from Ticonderoga. I enclose you (to amuse your curiosity) the form of the prayer substituted in the room of the prayer for the King by Mr. Duché, chaplain to the Congress. I think by making it so general as to take in Conventions, assemblies, &c., it might be used instead of that for the parliament. Adieu.
to francis eppes1
Philadelphia, Aug. 9th, 1776.
—As Col. Harrison was about to have some things packed, I set out upon the execution of your glass commission, and was surprised to find that the whole glass stores of the city could not make out anything like what you desired. I therefore did what I thought would be best, imagining you wanted the number you mentioned at any event, and that not being able to get them of that form, you would take them of any other. I therefore got 4 pint cans, 10s; 2 quart do. 8s; and six half-pint tumblers, 6s., all of double flint. So that there still remains in my hands £4 16s., Pennsylva currcy.
Your teckle is not yet come. It seems the man who had promised to sell it to the gentleman I employed to get it, now raises some difficulties either to get off others which he calls the set, or to enhance the price. However, the gentleman still expects it, and I am after him every day for it. Our galleys at New York have had a smart engagement with the men-of-war which went up the river; it is believed the enemy suffered a good deal. The galleys are much injured, though we lost but two men. The commander writes us word he retired, that he might go and give them another drubbing, which in plain English meant, I suppose, that he was obliged to retire. Gen. Washington commends the behavior of the men much. They lay pretty close to the enemy, and two of the galleys were exposed to the broadside of their ships almost the whole time. The damage done them proves they were in a warm situation. Madison (of the college) and one Johnson, of Augusta, were coming passengers in the New York Packet; they were attacked by one of our armed vessels, and nothing but the intervention of night prevented the packet being taken. She is arrived at New York, and they permitted to come. In a letter by them, we have intelligence that the French ministry is changed, the pacific men turned out, and those who are for war, with the Duke de Choiseul at their head, are taken in. We have also the king’s speech on the prorogation of parliament, declaring he will see it out with us to the bitter end.
The South Carolina army with Clinton Sr., arrived at Staten Island last week, one of their transports, with 5 companies of Highlanders, having first fallen into General Lee’s hands. They now make Lord Howe 12,000 strong. With this force he is preparing to attack. He is embarking his cannon; has launched 8 galleys, and formed his men-of-war into line of battle. From these circumstances, it is believed the attack of New York will be within three or four days. They expect with the utmost confidence to carry it, and they consider our army but as a rude undisciplined rabble. I hope they will find it a Bunker’s Hill rabble. Notwithstanding these appearances of attack, there are some who believe, and with appearance of reason, that these measures are taken by the enemy to secure themselves and not to attack us. A little time will shew. General Arnold (a fine sailor) has undertaken to command our fleet on the lakes. The enemy are fortifying Oswego, and I believe our army there, when recovered from their sickness, will find they have lost a good campaign, though they have had no battle of moment.
My love to Mrs. Eppes. I hope my letter by last post got there time enough to stay Patty with her a while longer. Adieu.
to — 1
Philadelphia, Aug. 13, 1776.
—Your’s of Aug. 3. came to hand yesterday; having had no moment to spare since, I am obliged to set down to answer it at a Committee table while the Committee is collecting. My thoughts therefore on the subject you propose will be merely extempore. The opinion that our lands were allodial possessions is one which I have very long held, and had in my eye during a pretty considerable part of my law reading which I found always strengthened it. It was mentioned in a very hasty production, intended to have been put under a course of severe correction, but produced afterwards to the world in a way with which you are acquainted. This opinion I have thought & still think to prove if ever I should have time to look into books again. But this is only meant with respect to the English law as transplanted here. How far our acts of assembly or acceptance of grants may have converted lands which were allodial into feuds I have never considered. This matter is now become a mere speculative point; & we have it in our power to make it what it ought to be for the public good.
It may be considered in the two points of view 1st. as bringing a revenue into the public treasury. 2d. as a tenure. I have only time to suggest hints on each of these heads. 1. Is it consistent with good policy or free government to establish a perpetual revenue? is it not against the practice of our wise British ancestors? have not the instances in which we have departed from this in Virginia been constantly condemned by the universal voice of our country? is it safe to make the governing power when once seated in office, independent of it’s revenue? should we not have in contemplation & prepare for an event (however deprecated) which may happen in the possibility of things; I mean a reacknowledgment of the British tyrant as our king, & previously strip him of every prejudicial possession? Remember how universally the people run into the idea of recalling Charles the 2d after living many years under a republican government.—As to the second was not the separation of the property from the perpetual use of lands a mere fiction? Is not it’s history well known, & the purposes for which it was introduced, to wit, the establishment of a military system of defence?
Was it not afterwards made an engine of immense oppression? Is it wanting with us for the purpose of military defence? May not it’s other legal effects (such of them at least as are valuable) be performed in other more simple ways? Has it not been the practice of all other nations to hold their lands as their personal estate in absolute dominion? Are we not the better for what we have hitherto abolished of the feudal system? Has not every restitution of the antient Saxon laws had happy effects? Is it not better now that we return at once into that happy system of our ancestors, the wisest & most perfect ever yet devised by the wit of man, as it stood before the 8th century.
The idea of Congress selling out unlocated lands has been sometimes dropped, but we have always met the hint with such determined opposition that I believe it will never be proposed.—I am against selling the lands at all. The people who will migrate to the Westward whether they form part of the old, or of a new colony will be subject to their proportion of the Continental debt then unpaid. They ought not to be subject to more. They will be a people little able to pay taxes. There is no equity in fixing upon them the whole burthen of this war, or any other proportion than we bear ourselves. By selling the lands to them, you will disgust them, and cause an avulsion of them from the common union. They will settle the lands in spite of everybody.—I am at the same time clear that they should be appropriated in small quantities. It is said that wealthy foreigners will come in great numbers, & they ought to pay for the liberty we shall have provided for them. True, but make them pay in settlers. A foreigner who brings a settler for every 100, or 200 acres of land to be granted him pays a better price than if he had put into the public treasury 5/ or 5£. That settler will be worth to the public 20 times as much every year, as on our old plan he would have paid in one paiment. I have thrown these loose thoughts together only in obedience to your letter, there is not an atom of them which would not have occurred to you on a moment’s contemplation of the subject. Charge yourself therefore with the trouble of reading two pages of such undigested stuff.
By Saturday’s post the General wrote us that Ld. Howe had got (I think 100) flat bottomed boats alongside, & 30 of them were then loaded with men; by which it was concluded he was preparing to attack, yet this is Tuesday & we hear nothing further. The General has by this last return, 17000 some odd men, of whom near 4000 are sick & near 3000 at out posts in Long Island &c. So you may say he has but 10000 effective men to defend the works of New York. His works however are good & his men in spirits, which I hope will be equal to an addition of many thousands. He had called for 2000 men from the flying camp which were then embarking to him & would certainly be with him in time even if the attack was immediate. The enemy have (since Clinton & his army joined them) 15.000 men of whom not many are sick. Every influence of Congress has been exerted in vain to double the General’s force. It was impossible to prevail on the people to leave their harvest. That is now in, & great numbers are in motion, but they have no chance to be there in time. Should however any disaster befall us at New York they will form a great army on the spot to stop the progress of the enemy. I think there cannot be less than 6 or 8000 men in this city & between it & the flying camp. Our council complain of our calling away two of the Virginia battalions. But is this reasonable. They have no British enemy, & if human reason is of any use to conjecture future events, they will not have one. Their Indian enemy is not to be opposed by their regular battalions. Other colonies of not more than half their military strength have 20 battalions in the field. Think of these things & endeavor to reconcile them not only to this, but to yield greater assistance to the common cause if wanted. I wish every battalion we have was now in New York.—We yesterday received dispatches from the Commissioners at Fort Pitt. I have not read them, but a gentleman who has, tells me they are favorable. The Shawanese & Delewares are disposed to peace. I believe it, for this reason. We had by different advices information from the Shawanese that they should strike us, that this was against their will, but that they must do what the Senecas bid them. At that time we knew the Senecas meditated war. We directed a declaration to be made to the six nations in general that if they did not take the most decisive measures for the preservation of neutrality we would never cease waging war with them while one was to be found on the face of the earth. They immediately changed their conduct and I doubt not have given corresponding information to the Shawanese and Delewares.
I hope the Cherokees will now be driven beyond the Missisipi & that this in future will be declared to the Indians the invariable consequence of their beginning a war. Our contest with Britain is too serious and too great to permit any possibility of avocation from the Indians. This then is the season for driving them off, & our Southern colonies are happily rid of every other enemy & may exert their whole force in that quarter.
I hope to leave this place sometime this month.
I am Dear Sir, Your affectionate friend
P. S. Mr. Madison of the college & Mr. Johnson of Fredsb’gh are arrived in New York. They say nothing material had happened in England. The French ministry was changed.
to john page1
Philadelphia, Aug. 20, 1776.
—We have been in hourly expectation of the great decision at New York, but it has not yet happened. About three nights ago an attempt was made to burn the two ships which had gone up the river. One of the two fire-rafts prepared for that purpose grappled the Phenix ten minutes, but was cleared away at last. A tender however was burnt. The two ships came down on Sunday evening and passed all our batteries again with impunity. Ld. Dunmore is at Staten isld. His sick he sent to Halifx, his effective men he carried to Staten isld. & the blacks he shipped off to the West Indies. Two gentlemen who had been taken prisoners by the enemy have made their escape. They say they are now 20,000 & that another division of 5,000 foreigners is still expected. They think Ld Howe will not attack these 10 days, but that he does not wait for his last division, being confident of victory without. One of these informants was captain of a continental vessel going for ammunition. The mate & crew rose & took the vessel. They fell in with the division of the Hessians which came with the Hessian general & were brought to. The general learning from the dethroned captain what had happened, immediately threw the piratical mate into irons, & had the captain to dine with him every day till they got to Halifx where he delivered him, vessel &c. over to the English.—A gentleman who lived some time in this city, but since last winter has become a resident of St. Eustatia writes that by a Dutch ship from Amsterdam they have advice that the states of Holland had refused to renew the prohibition on the exportation of powder to the colonies, or to cede to the English the Scotch brigade in their service, or to furnish them with some men of war asked of them by the British court. This refusal so piqued the ministry that they had been enduced to take several Dutch ships, amongst which he said were two which sailed from that island & were carried to London, another to St. Kitt’s. In consequence of this the Dutch have armed 40 ships of war & ordered 60 more to be built & are raising 20,000 land forces. The French governor in chief of their W. Indies has not only refused to permit a capt of a man of war to make prize of our vessels in their ports but forbidden them to come within gun shot of the ports. The enemy’s men of war being withdrawn from our whole coast to N.York gives us now fine opportunities of getting in powder. We see the effect here already.
Two Canadians who had been captains in our Canadian regiment & who General Gates writes us are known in the army to be worthy of good credit made their escape from St. John’s, & came over to our army from Tyconderoga; & give the following intelligence. The enemy did not fortify any place we abandoned. They had 2000 men at Isle aux noix under Genl. Fraser, 2000 at St. John’s under Carleton & some at Montreal. 250 only had been left at Quebec. It was reported that 4000 English troops which were to have been a part of that army had perished at sea which gave great uneasiness. The fleet brot over timber &c for 50 boats which they attempted to transport by land from the mouth of Sorel to St. John’s, but could not for want of carriages which had been destroyed. Carleton, therefore, employed Canadians to build batteaux at St. John’s. He has rendered himself very odious to the Canadians by levying contributions on them in general & confiscating the estates of all those who follow-lowed our army or who abscond. Great numbers of the Germans desert daily & are anxiously concealed by the inhabitants. 70 Brunswickers disappeared in one day. Their officers are so much afraid of bush-fighting & ambushes that they will not head any parties to pursue the runaways. The men have the same fears, which prevents them from deserting in so great numbers as is supposed they will when once our fleet shall appear cruising on the lake to receive & protect them. Between the 22d & 24th July Carlet on & the other generals abandoned all their posts on this side Sorel except St. John’s with as great precipitation as our poor sick army had done, carrying with them their artillery & provisions. This was occasioned by the arrival and mysterious manœuvres of a fleet at Quebec supposed French, hoisting different colours & firing at Tenders sent from the town to enquire who they were. 200 men were left at Isle aux noix to send them intelligence of our operations, who they say will go down the river if we return into Canada. For this event the Canadians are offering up prayers at the shrines of all their saints. Carleton some time ago hearing that we were returning with a considerable reinforcement was so terrified that he would have retired immediately had not some of his spies come in & informed him of the deplorable situation to which the small pox had reduced our army.—They are recovering health and spirits. Genl. Gates writes that he had accounts of the roads being crowded with militia coming to his assistance. 600 from New Hampshire came in while he was writing his letter, being the first. His fleet had sailed from Tyconderoga to Crown point. Their number and force as follows.
Eight more gallies would be ready to join them in a fortnight when they would proceed down the Cape. General Arnold (who is said to be a good sailor) had undertaken the command. We have 200 fine ship carpenters (mostly sent from here) at work. I hope a fleet will soon be exhibited on that lake such as it never bore. The Indians have absolutely refused Carleton in Canada & Butler at Niagara to have any thing to do in this quarrel, & applaud in the highest terms our wisdom & candour for not requiring them to meddle. Some of the most sensible speeches I ever saw of theirs are on this head, not to be spoken to us, but behind our backs in the councils of our enemies. From very good intelligence the Indians of the middle department will be quiet. That treaty is put off till October. Were it not that it interferes with our Assembly I would go to it, as I think something important might be done there, which could not be so well planned as by going to the spot & seeing its geography. We have great fear that the sending an agent from Virginia to enlist Indians will have ill consequences. It breaks in upon the plan pursued here & destroys that uniformity & consistency of counsels which the Indians have noticed & approved in their speeches. Besides they are a useless, expensive, ungovernable ally.—I forgot to observe that a captain Mesnard of Canada had come to Genl. Gates after the two above mentioned & confirmed their account in almost every article. One of the German deserters travelled with him to within 20 miles of our camp, when he was obliged to halt through fatigue. He passed 3 others of them.—Baron Woedeke is dead, no great loss from his habit of drinking.—The infamous Bedel & Butterfield were ordered by Congress to be tried for their conduct. They have been tried by a Court martial, condemned & broke with infamy. We inclose to you all the Commissions mentioned in the last letter of the delegates, except Innis’s to be forwarded to the Eastern shore immediately, & Weedon’s & Marshall’s who we are informed are on the road hither. Would to God they were in N. York. We wait your recommendation for the 2 vacant majorities. Pray regard militaryment alone. The commissions now sent do not fix the officers to any particular battalion so that the commanding officer will dispose of them. Cannot you make use of any interest with Lee or Lewis to call Innis over to the Western shore. He pants for it, & in my opinion has a right to ask it. Adieu, Adieu.
Davis with the 4000 lb of gun powder & 90 stand of arms for Virgā got into Egg harbour. We have sent waggons for the powder to bring it here, & shall wait your further order. We were obliged to open Van Bibber & Harrison’s letter to the Council of safety of Virgā in order to take out the bill of lading without which it would not be delivered.
resolution to encourage desertions of hessian officers1
Aug. 27. 
The Congress proceeding to take into further consideration the expediency of inviting from the service of his Brittanick majesty such foreigners as by the compulsive authority of their prince may have been engaged therein & sent hither for the purpose of waging war against these states, and expecting that the enlightened minds of the officers having command in those foreign corps will feel more sensibly the agency of the principles urged in our resolution of the 14th instant,2 principles which be derived from the unalterable laws of God & nature cannot be superseded by any human authority or engagement, and willing to tender to them also, as they had before done to the soldiery of their corps a participation of the blessings of peace, liberty, property & mild government, on their relinquishing the disgraceful office on which they have been sent hither: Resolved that they will give all such of the said foreign officers as shall leave the armies of his Britannic majy in America & chuse to become citizens of these states, unappropriated lands in the following quantities and proportions to them & their heirs in absolute dominnion: To a colonel 1,000 acres, to a Lt Col. 800 as. to a Major 600 as. to a Captn 400 as. to an Ensign 200 as. to every non commisd. officer 100 as. & to every other officer or person employed in the sd foreign corps & whose office or employment is not here specifically named, lands in the like proportion to their rank or pay in the sd corps: & moreover that where any officers shall bring with them a number of the sd foreign soldiers, this Congress, besides the lands before promised to the sd officers and soldiers will give to such officers further rewards proportionate to the numbers they shall bring over & suited to the nature of their wants. Provided that such foreign officers or soldiers shall come within over from the sd service before these offers be recalled, or within after a reasonable time.
resolutions on peace propositions1
[Aug. 28, 1776]
Resolved that tho’ this Congress, during the dependance of these states on the British crown with unwearied supplications sued for peace & just redress, & tho’ they still retain a sincere disposition to peace; yet as his Britannic majesty by an obstinate perseverance in injury & a callous indifference to the sufferings & the complaints of these states, has driven them to the necessity of declaring themselves independent, this Congress bound by the voice of their constituents, which coincides with their own sentiments, have no power to enter into conference or to receive any propositions on the subject of peace which do not as a preliminary acknowledge these states to be sovereign & independant: & that whenever this shall have been authoritatively admitted on the part of Great Britain they shall at all times & with that earnestness which the love of peace and justice inspires, be ready to enter into conference or treaty for the purpose of stopping the effusion of so much kindred blood.
Resolved that the reproof given by Genl. Washington to Ld Drummond for breach of his parole, & his refusal to give him a pass thro’ the states on so idle an errand and after a conduct so dishonourable, be approved by this house & let it be submitted to the General to take such measures as his prudence will suggest to prevent any evil which may happen to these states by Lord Drummond’s further continuing communication with their enemies.
Resolved that the articles enclosed by Ld Drummond to Ld Howe whereby it is proposed “that it shall be ascertained by calculation what supply towards the general exigency of the state each separate colony shall furnish, to be increased or lessened in proportion to the growth or decline of such colony, & to be vested in the king by a perpetual grant, in consideration whereof Great Britain should relinquish only her claim to taxation over these colonies,” which the sd Ld Drummond suggests “the colonies were disposed not many months ago to have made the basis of a reconciliation with Gr. Britain,” were the unauthorized, officious & groundless suggestions of a person who seems totally unacquainted with either reasonings or the facts which have attended this great controversy; since from its first origin to this day there never was a time when these states intimated a disposition to give away in perpetuum their essential right of judging whether they should give or withhold their money for what purposes they should make the gift, and what should be its continuance.
to the president of the continental congress1(john hancock)
Williamsburgh, Octob. 11, 1776.
—Your favor of the 30th together with the resolutions of Congress of the 26th Ult came safe to hand. It would argue great insensibility in me could I receive with indifference so confidential an appointment from your body. My thanks are a poor return for the partiality they have been pleased to entertain for me. No cares for my own person, nor yet for my private affairs would have induced one moment’s hesitation to accept the charge. But circumstances very peculiar in the situation of my family, such as neither permit me to leave nor to carry it, compel me to ask leave to decline a service so honorable & at the same time so important to the American cause. The necessity under which I labor & the conflict I have undergone for three days, during which I could not determine to dismiss your messenger, will I hope plead my pardon with Congress, and I am sure there are too many of that body, to whom they may with better hopes confide this charge, to leave them under a moment’s difficulty in making a new choice. I am, Sir, with the most sincere attachment to your honorable body & and the great cause they support, their and your most obedient humble servt.
notes on religion1
Sabellians. Xn. heretics. That there is but one person in the Godhead. That the ‘Word’ & holy spirit are only virtues, emanations or functions of the deity.
Sorcinians. Xn. heretics. That the Father is the one only god. That the Word is no more than an expression of ye. godhead & had not existed from all eternity; that Jes. Christ was god no otherwise than by his superiority above all creatures who were put in subjection to him by the father. That he was not a mediator, but sent to be a pattern of conduct to men. That the punishments of hell are nt. eternal.
Arminians. They think with the Romish church (agt. the Calvinists) that there is an universal grace given to all men, & that man is always free & at liberty to receive or reject grace. That God creates men free, that his justice would not permit him to punish men for crimes they are predestinated to commit. They admit the presence of god, but distinguish between fore-knowing & predestinating. All the fathers before St. Austin were of this opinion. The church of Engld founded her article of predestination on his authority.
Arians. Xn. heretics. They avow there was a time when the Son was not, that he was created in time mutable in nature, & like the angels liable to sin; they deny the three persons in the trinity to be of the same essence. Erasmus and Grotius were Arians.
Apollinarians. Xn. heretics. They affirm there was but one nature in Christ, that his body as well as soul was impassive & immortal, & that his birth, death, & resurrection was only in appearance.
Macedonians. Xn. heretics. They teach that the Holy ghost was a meer creature, but superior in excellence to the Angels. See Broughton, verbo ‘Heretics,’ an enumeration of 48. sects of Christians pronounced Heretics.
Locke’s system of Christianity is this: Adam was created happy & immortal; but his happiness was to have been Earthly & Earthly immortality. By sin he lost this—so that he became subject to total death (like that of brutes) to the crosses & unhappiness of this life. At the intercession however of the son of god this sentence was in part remitted. A life conformable to the law was to restore them again to immortality. And moreover to them who believed their faith was to be counted for righteousness. Not that faith without works was to save them; St. James. c. 2. sais expressly the contrary; & all make the fundamental pillars of Xty to be faith & repentance. So that a reformation of life (included under repentance) was essential, & defects in this would be made up by their faith; i. e. their faith should be counted for righteousness. As to that part of mankind who never had the gospel preached to them, they are 1. Jews.—2. Pagans, or Gentiles. The Jews had the law of works revealed to them. By this therefore they were to be saved: & a lively faith in god’s promises to send the Messiah would supply small defects. 2. The Gentiles. St. Pa. sais—Rom. 2. 13. ‘the Gentiles have the law written in their hearts, i. e. the law of nature: to which adding a faith in God’s & his attributes that on their repentance he would pardon them, they also would be justified. This then explains the text ‘there is no other name under heaven by which a man may be saved,’ i. e. the defects in good works shall not be supplied by a faith in Mahomet Foe, [?] or any other except Christ.
The fundamentals of Xty as found in the gospels are 1. Faith, 2. Repentance. That faith is every [where?] explained to be a belief that Jesus was the Messiah who had been promised. Repentance was to be proved sincerely by good works. The advantages accruing to mankind from our Saviour’s mission are these.
1. The knolege of one god only.
2. A clear knolege of their duty, or system of morality, delivered on such authority as to give it sanction.
3. The outward forms of religious worship wanted to be purged of that farcical pomp & nonsense with which they were loaded.
4. An inducement to a pious life, by revealing clearly a future existence in bliss, & that it was to be the reward of the virtuous.
The Epistles were written to persons already Christians. A person might be a Xn then before they were written. Consequently the fundamentals of Xty were to be found in the preaching of our Saviour, which is related in the gospels. These fundamentals are to be found in the epistles dropped here & there, & promiscuously mixed with other truths. But these other truths are not to be made fundamentals. They serve for edification indeed & explaining to us matters in worship & morality, but being written occasionally it will readily be seen that their explanations are adpated to the notions & customs of the people they were written to. But yet every sentence in them (tho the writers were inspired) must not be taken up & made a fundamental, without assent to which a man is not to be admitted a member of the Xn church here, or to his kingdom hereafter. The Apostles creed was by them taken to contain all things necessary to salvation, & consequently to a communion.
Shaftesbury Charact. As the Antients tolerated visionaries & enthusiasts of all kinds so they permitted a free scope to philosophy as a balance. As the Pythagoreans & latter Platonists joined with the superstition of their times the Epicureans & Academicks were allowed all the use of wit & railery against it. Thus matters were balanced; reason had play & science flourished. These contrarieties produced harmony. Superstition & enthusiasm thus let alone never raged to bloodshed, persecution &c. But now a new sort of policy, which considers the future lives & happiness of men rather than the present, has taught to distress one another, & raised an antipathy which if temporal interests could ever do now uniformity of opn, a hopeful project! is looked on as the only remedy agt. this evil & is made the very object of govm’t itself. If magistracy had vouchsafed to interpose thus in other sciences, we should have as bad logic, mathematics & philosophy as we have divinity in countries where the law settles orthodoxy.
Suppose the state should take into head that there should be an uniformity of countenance. Men would be obliged to put an artificial bump or swelling here, a patch there &c. but this would be merely hypocritical, or if the alternative was given of wearing a mask, 99/100 ths must immediately mask. Would this add to the beauty of nature? Why otherwise in opinions? In the middle ages of Xty opposition to the State opins was hushed. The consequence was, Xty became loaded with all the Romish follies. Nothing but free argument, raillery & even ridicule will preserve the purity of religion. 2 Cor. 1. 24. the apostles declare they had no dominion over the faith.
A heretic is an impugner of fundamentals. What are fundamentals? The protestants will say those doctrines which are clearly & precisely delivered in the holy Scriptures. Dr. Vaterland would say the Trinity. But how far this character of being clearly delivered will suit the doctrine of the trinity I leave others to determine. It is nowhere expressly declared by any of the earliest fathers, & was never affirmed or taught by the Church before the Council of Nice (Chillingas Pref. § 18. 33.) Iranæus sais ‘who are the clean? those who go on firmly, believing in the Father & in the Son.” The fundamental doctrine or the firmness of the Xn faith in this early age then was to believe in the Father & Son. Constantine wrote to Arius & Alexr treating the question “as vain foolish & impertinent as a dispute of words without sense which none could explain nor any comprehend &c.’ This line is commended by Eusebius (Vit. Constant 1. r. c. 64 &c.) and Socrates (Hist. Eccles. 1. i. c. 7) as excellent admirable & full of wisdom. 2 Middleton. 115. remarks on the story of St. John & [[Editor: illegible word “Le saint concil (de Nièce anno 630) ayant defini que le fils de dieu est de meme substance que son pere & qu’il est eternel comme lui, composa une Simbole (the Nicene creed) ou il explique la divinite du pere et du fils et qu’il finit par ces paroles ‘dont le regne n’aura point de fin.’ car la doctrine que regarde le Saint Esprit ne fut ajoutée que dans la seconde concile tenu contre les erreurs de Macedoniens, ou ces questions furent agitées.” Zonaras par Coussin. Ann. 330. The second council meant by Zonoras was that of Constantinople ann. 381. D’hist. Prim. Xty. pref. XXXVIII. 2d app. to pref. 49. The Council of Antioch ann [ ] expressly affirms of our Saviour οὐϰ ἐστιν ὁμουσιοϛ that he was not consubstantial to the father. The Council of Nice affirmed the direct contrary. Dhist. Prim. Xty. Pref. CXXV.]]
Episcopy. Gr. Επισϰοποϛ. Lat. Episcopus. Ital. Vescovo. Fr. Evesque. Saxon, Byscop. Bishop (overseer). The epistles of Paul to Timothy & Titus are relied on (together with Tradition) for the Apostolic institution of bishops.
As to tradition, if we are Protestants we reject all tradition, & rely on the scripture alone, for that is the essence & common principle of all the protestant churches. As to Scripture 1. Tim. 3. 2. ‘a bishop must be blameless &c. Επισϰοποϛ.’ v. 8.; ‘likewise must the deacons be grave &c. Διαϰονοϛ’ (ministers). C. 5. v. 6, he calls Timothy a ‘minister, Διαϰονοϛ;’ C. 4. v. 14. ‘neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy with the laying on the hands of the presbytery, πρεσβυτεριου’; C. 5. ‘rebuke not an elder; Πρεσβυτεροι.’ 5:17;—‘let the elders that rule well, &c. Πρεσβυτεροι.’ 5.19; ‘against an elder (Πρεσβυτεροϛ) receive nt an accusn.’ 5.22. ‘lay hands suddenly on no man, χειραϛ ἐπιτίθει.’ 6.11. He calls Timothy man of God ἄνθρωπε τοῦ θεοῦ, 2. Tim. 1. 6. ‘stir up the gift of god, which is in thee, by the putting on of my hands ‘ἐπιθεσεωϛ των χειρων’ but ante c. 4. v. 14, he said it was by the hands of the presbytery. This imposition of hands then was some ceremony or custom frequently repeated, & certainly is a good proof that Timothy was ordained by the elders (& consequently that they might ordain) as that it was by Paul. 1. 11. Paul calls himself ‘a preacher,’ ‘an apostle,’ ‘a teacher.’ ‘ϰηρυξ, ϰαι αποστολοϛ ϰαι διδασϰαλοϛ.’ Here he designates himself by several synonims as he had before done Timothy. Does this prove that every synonim authorizes a different order of ecclesiastics. 4. 5. ‘do the work of an Evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry’ ἐργον ποιησον εὐαγγελιστου, την διαϰονιαν σου πληροφορεισον.’ Timothy then is called ‘επισϰοποϛ, διαϰονοϛ, ευαγγελιστοϛ.’ ανϑρωποϛ ϑεου.’ 4.11. He tells Tim. to bring Mark with him, for ‘he is profitable to me for the ministry.’ διαϰονιαν. Epist. to Titus. 1. 1, he calls himself ‘a servant of god’ δουλοϛ θεου.’ 1.5. ‘for this cause left I thee in Crete that thou shouldst set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain (ϰαταστησῃϛ) elders in every city, as I had appointed thee.’ If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children, not accused of riot or unruly, for a bishop must be blameless as the steward of god &c. Here then it appears that as the elders appointed the bishops, so the bishops appointed the elders, i. e., they are synonims. Again when telling Titus to appoint elders in every city he tells him what kind of men they must be, for said he a bishop must be &c., so that in the same sentence he calls elders bishops. 3.10 ‘a man that is an heretic after the first & second admonition, reject, ‘αἱρετιϰον.’ James 5. 14. ‘is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders (πρεσβυτεροϛ) of the church, & let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the lord.’
Another plea for Episcopal government in Religion in England is it’s similarity to the political governmt by a king. No bishop, no king. This then with us is a plea for government by a presbytery which resembles republican government.
The clergy have ever seen this. The bishops were alwais mere tools of the crown.
The Presbyterian spirit is known to be so congenial with friendly liberty, that the patriots after the restoration finding that the humour of people was running too strongly to exalt the prerogative of the crown promoted the dissenting interest as a check a and balance, & thus was produced the Toleration Act.
St. Peter gave the title of clergy to all god’s people till Pope Higinus & ye. succeeding prelates took it from them & appropriated it to priests only. 1 Milt. 230.
Origen, being yet a layman, expounded the scripchures publickly & was therein defended by Alexander of Jerusalem & Theodotn of Cæsarea producing in his behalf divers examples that the privilege of teaching was antiently permitted to laymen. The first Nicene council called in the assistance of many learned lay brethren. ib. 230.
Bishops were elected by the hands of the whole church. Ignatius (the most ant. of the extant fathers) writing to the Philadelphians sais ‘that it belongs to them as to the church of god to chuse a bishop.’ Camden in his description of Scotld sais ‘that over all the world bps had no certain dioces till pope Dionysius about the year 268 did cut them out, & that the bps of Scotld extd their function in what place soever they came, indifferently till temp Malcolm 3. 1070.’
Cyprian, epist. 68. sais ‘the people chiefly hath power either of chusing worthy or refusing unworthy bps the council of Nice contrary to the African churches exorts them to chuse orthodox bps in the place of the dead.’ 1 Milt. 254.
Nicephorus Phocas the Greek emperor Ann. 1000 first enacted that no bps shd be chozen without his will. Ignatius in his epistle to those of Tra [mutilated] confesseth that the presbyters are his fellowsellers & fellow henchers & Cyprian in the 6. 4. 52. epst. calls the presbyters, ‘his com-presbyters’ yet he was a bps.—A modern bps to be moulded into a primitive one must be elected by the people, undiocest, unrevenued, unlorded. 1 Milt. 255. From the dissensions among sects themselves arises necessarily a right of chusing & necessity of deliberating to which we will conform, but if we chuse for ourselves, we must allow others to chuse also, & to reciprocally. This establishes religious liberty.
Why require those things in order to eccliastical communion which Christ does not require in order to life eternal? How can that be the church of Christ which excludes such persons from its communion as he will one day receive into the kingdom of heaven.
The arms of a religious society or church are exhortations, admonitions & advice, & ultimately expulsion or excommunication. This last is the utmost limit of power.
How far does the duty of toleration extend?
Each church being free, no one can have jurisdn over another one, not even when the civil magistrate joins it. It neither acquires the right of the sword by the magistrate’s coming to it, nor does it lose the rights of instruction or excommunicn by his going from it. It cannot by the accession of any new member acquire jurisdn over those who do not accede. He brings only himself, having no power to bring others. Suppose for instance two churches, one of Arminians another of Calvinists in Constantinople, has either any right over the other? Will it be said the orthodox one has? Every church is to itself orthodox; to others erroneous or heretical.
No man complains of his neighbor for ill management of his affairs, for an error in sowing his land, or marrying his daughter, for consuming his substance in taverns, pulling down building &c. in all these he has his liberty: but if he do not frequent the church or there conform to ceremonies, there is an immediate uproar.
The care of every man’s soul belongs to himself. But what if he neglect the care of it? Well what if he neglect the care of his health or estate, which more nearly relate to the state. Will the magistrate make a law that he shall not be poor or sick? Laws provide against injury from others; but not from ourselves. God himself will not save men against their wills.
If I be marching on with my utmost vigour in that way which according to the sacred geography leads to Jerusalem straight, why am I beaten & ill used by others because my hair is not of the right cut; because I have not been dresst right, bec. I eat flesh on the road, bec. I avoid certain by-ways which seem to lead into briars, bec. among several paths I take that which seems shortest & cleanest, bec. I avoid travellers less grave & keep company with others who are more sour & austere, or bec. I follow a guide crowned with a mitre & cloathed in white, yet these are the frivolous things which keep Xns at war.
If the magistrate command me to bring my commodity to a publick store house I bring it because he can indemnify me if he erred & I thereby lose it; but what indemnification can he give one for the kdom of heaven?
I cannot give up my guidance to the magistrates, bec. he knows no more of the way to heaven than I do, & is less concerned to direct me right than I am to go right. If the Jews had followed their Kings, among so many, what number would have led them to idolatry? Consider the vicissitudes among the Emperors, Arians, Athana &c. or among our princes. H. 8. E. 6. Mary. Elizabeth. Locke’s Works 2d vol.
Why persecute for diffce in religs opinion?
1. For love to the person.
2. Because of tendency of these opns to dis[[Editor: illegible word.]]
1. When I see them persecute their nearest connection & acquaintance for gross vices, I shall believe it may proceed from love. Till they do this I appeal to their own conscences if they will examine, wh. ye do nt find some other principle.
2. Because of tendency. Why not then level persecution at the crimes you fear will be introduced? Burn or hang the adulterer, cheat &c. Or exclude them from offices. Strange should be so zealous against things which tend to produce immorality & yet so indulgent to the immorality when produced. These moral vices all men acknowledge to be diametrically against X. & obstructive of salvation of souls, but the fantastical points for which we generally persecute are often very questionable; as we may be assured by the very different conclusions of people. Our Savior chose not to propagate his religion by temporal punmts or civil incapacitation, if he had, it was in his almighty power. But he chose to extend it by it’s influence on reason, there by shewing to others how they should proceed.
The commonwealth is ‘a Society of men constituted for protecting their civil interests.’
Civil interests are ‘life, health, indolency of body, liberty and property.’ That the magistrate’s jurisdn extends only to civil rights appears from these considns.
1. The magistrate has no power but wt ye people gave.
The people hve nt givn hm the care of souls bec. ye cd not, ye cd not, because no man hsright to abandon ye care of his salvation to another.
No man has power to let another prescribe his faith. Faith is not faith witht believing. No man can conform his faith to the dictates of another. The life & essence of religion consists in the internal persuasion or belief of the mind. External forms of worship, when against our belief are hypocrisy & impiety. Rom. 14. 23. “he that doubteth is damned, if he eat, because he eateth not of faith: for whatsoever is not of faith, is sin?”
2. If it be said the magistrate may make use of arguments & so draw the heterodox to truth, I answer, every man has a commission to admonish, exhort, convince another of error.
12. A church is ‘a voluntary society of men, joining themselves together of their own accord, in order to the public worshipping of god in such a manner as they judge acceptable to him & effectual to the salvation of their souls.’ It is voluntary bec. no man is by nature bound to any church. The hope of salvation is the cause of his entering into it. If he find anything wrong in it, he should be as free to go out as he was to come in.
13. What is the power of that church. As it is a society it must have some laws for it’s regulation. Time & place of meeting. Admitting & excluding members &c. Must be regulatn but as it was a spontaneous joining of members, it follows that it’s laws extend to it’s own members only, not to those of any other voluntary society, for then by the same rule some other voluntary society might usurp power over them.
Christ has said ‘wheresoever 2 or 3 are gatherd. togeth in his name he will be in the midst of them.’ This is his definition of a society. He does not make it essential that a bishop or presbyter govern them. Without them it suffices for the salvation of souls.
Compulsion in religion is distinguished peculiarly from compulsion in every other thing. I may grow rich by art I am compelled to follow, I may recover health by medicines I am compelled to take agt. my own judgment, but I cannot be saved by a worship I disbelieve & abhor.
Whatsoever is lawful in the Commonwealth, or permitted to the subject in the ordinary way, cannot be forbidden to him for religious uses: & whatsoever is prejudicial to the Commonwealth in their ordinary uses & therefore prohibited by the laws, ought not to be permitted to churches in their sacred rites. For instance it is unlawful in the ordinary course of things or in a private house to murder a child. It should not be permitted any sect then to sacrifice children: it is ordinarily lawful (or temporarily lawful) to kill calves or lambs. They may therefore be religiously sacrificed, but if the good of the state required a temporary suspension of killing lambs, as during a siege, sacrifices of them may then be rightfully suspended also. This is the true extent of toleration.
Truth will do well enough if left to shift for herself. She seldom has received much aid from the power of great men to whom she is rarely known & seldom welcome. She has no need of force to procure entrance into the minds of men. Error indeed has often prevailed by the assistance of power or force. Truth is the proper & sufficient antagonist to error. If anything pass in a religious meeting seditiously and contrary to the public peace, let it be punished in the same manner & no otherwise than as if it had happened in a fair or market. These meetings ought not to be sanctuaries for faction & flagitiousness.
Locke denies toleration to those who entertain opns contrary to those moral rules necessary for the preservation of society; as for instance, that faith is not to be kept with those of another persuasion, that Kings excommunicated forfeit their crowns, that dominion is founded in grace, or that obedience is due to some foreign prince, or who will not own & teach the duty of tolerating all men in matters of religion, or who deny the existence of a god (it was a great thing to go so far—as he himself sais of the parl. who framed the act of tolern but where he stopped short we may go on.)1
He sais ‘neither Pagan nor Mahomedan nor Jew ought to be excluded from the civil rights of the Commonwealth because of his religion.’ Shall we suffer a Pagan to deal with us and not suffer him to pray to his god? Why have Xns. been distinguished above all people who have ever lived, for persecutions? Is it because it is the genius of their religion? No, it’s genius is the reverse. It is the refusing toleration to those of a different opn which has produced all the bustles and wars on account of religion. It was the misfortune of mankind that during the darker centuries the Xn. priests following their ambition and avarice combining with the magistrate to divide the spoils of the people, could establish the notion that schismatics might be ousted of their possessions & destroyed. This notion we have not yet cleared ourselves from. In this case no wonder the oppressed should rebel, & they will continue to rebel & raise disturbance until their civil rights are fully restored to them & all partial distinctions, exclusions & incapacitations removed.
draft of bill to abolish entails.1
v. s. a.
[Oct. 14, 1776.]
A Bill to enable tenants in tail to convey their lands in fee-simple. Whereas the perpetuation of property in certain families by means of gifts made to them in fee-simple is contrary to good policy, tends to deceive fair traders who give credit on the visible possession of such estates, discourages the holder thereof from taking care & improving the same, and sometime 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 tail by special act of assembly formed for every particular case employed very much time of the legislature, was burthensome to the public, and also to the individual who made application for such acts:
Be it therefore enacted by1 and it is hereby enacted by authority of the same that any person who now hath, or hereafter may have any estate in fee tail general or special in any lands or slaves in possession, or in the use or trust of any lands or slaves in possession, or who now is or hereafter may be entitled to any such estate tail in reversion or remainder after the determination of any estate for life or lives or of any lesser estate, whether such estate hath been or shall be created by deed, will, act of assembly, or any other ways or means shall have full power to pass, convey, or assure in fee-simple or for any lesser estate the said lands or slaves, or use in lands or slaves or such reversion or remainder therein, or any part or parcel thereof, to any person or persons whatsoever by deed or deeds of feoffment, gift, grant, exchange, partition, lease, release, bargain, and sale, convenant to stand seized to uses, deed to lead uses, or by his last will and testament, or by any other mode or form of conveiance or assurance by which such lands or slaves, or use in lands or slaves, or such reversion or remainder therein might have been passed, conveied or assured had the same been held in feesimple by the person so passing, conveying or assuring the same: and such deed, will or other conveiance shall be good and effectual to bar the issue in tail & those in remainder and revertor as to such estate or estates so passed, conveied, or assured by such deed will or other conveiance.
Provided nevertheless that such deed, will, or other conveiance shall be executed, acknowledged, or proved, and recorded in like manner as, and in all cases where, the same should have been done, had the person or persons so conveying or assuring held the said lands or slaves, or use of lands and slaves or such reversion or remainder in fee-simple.
Amendments to Bill to Abolish Entails1
Line 18. omit ‘have &c. to the end of the bill, & insert ‘from henceforth, or from the commencement of such estate tail, stand ipso facto seized, possessed, or entitled of, in, or to, such lands or slaves or use in lands or slaves so held or to be held as aforesaid in possession, reversion, or remainder in full & absolute fee-simple, in like manner as if such deed, will, act of assembly, or other instrument had conveyed the same to him in fee-simple; any words, limitations, or conditions in the said deed, will, act of assembly, or other instrument to the contrary notwithstanding.
Saving to all & every person & persons, bodies politic and corporate, other than the issue in tail & those in reversion & remainder, all such right title, interest & estate claim & demand, as they, every, or any of them could or might claim, if this act had never been made: and Saving also to such issue in tail & to those in reversion & remainder any right or title which they may have acquired by their own contract for good & valuable consideration actually & bona fide paid or performed.
draft of a bill to remove seat of government1
[October 14, 1776.]
Whereas great numbers of the inhabitants of this commonwealth must frequently & of necessity resort to the seat of government where general assemblies are convened, Superior courts are held & the Governor & Council usually transact the executive business of government; & the equal rights of all the sd inhabitants require that such seat of government should be as nearly central to all as may be, having regard only to navigation, the benefits of which are necessary for promoting the growth of a town sufficient for the accommodation of those who resort thereto, and able to aid the operations of government: and it has been also found inconvenient in the course of the present war where seats of government have been so situated as to be exposed to the insults & injuries of the public enemy; which dangers may be avoided and equal justice done to all the Citizens of this commonwealth by removing the seat of government to the town of in the county of which is more safe & central than any other town situated on navigable water:
Be it therefore enacted by the general Assembly that six whole squares of ground surrounded each of them by four streets & containing all the ground within such streets situate in the said town of and on an open & airy part thereof shall be appropriated to the use & purpose of public buildings. On one of the sd squares shall be erected one house for the use of the General Assembly to be called the Capitol, which said Capitol shall contain two apartments for the use of the Senate & their clerk, two others for the use of the house of delegates & their clerk, and others for the purposes of Conferences, Committees, & a Lobby, of such forms & dimensions as shall be adapted to their respective purposes. On one other of the sd squares shall be erected another building to be called the Halls [sic] of justice which shall contain two apartments for the use of the court of Appeals & it’s clerk, two others for the use of the High court of Chancery & it’s clerk, two others for the General court & it’s clerk, two others for the use of the Court of Admiralty & it’s clerk, & others for the uses of grand & petty juries, of such forms & dimensions as shall be adapted to their respective purposes; and on the same square last mentioned shall be built a public jail with few apartments for the present but so planned as to admit of addition hereafter. One other of the sd squares shall be reserved for the purpose of building thereon hereafter a house for the several executive boards and offices to be held in. Two others with the intervening street shall be reserved for the use of the governor of this commonwealth for the time being to be built on hereafter. And the remaining square shall be appropriated to the use of a public Market. The said houses shall be built in a handsome manner with walls of brick, or stone & Porticos where the same may be convenient or ornamental, and with pillars & pavements of stone.
There shall be appointed by joint ballot of both houses of assembly five persons to be called the directors of the public buildings, who, or any three of them shall have power to make choice of such squares of ground situate as before directed, as shall be most proper & convenient for the sd public purposes, to agree on plans for the said buildings, to employ proper workmen to erect the same, to superintend them, to procure necessary materials by themselves or by the board of trade, & to draw on the Treasurer of this commonwealth from time to time for such sums of money as shall be wanting; the plans & estimates of which shall be submitted to the two houses of assembly whensoever called for by their joint vote, & shall be subjected to their controul.
And that reasonable satisfaction may be paid & allowed for all such lots of ground as by virtue of this act may be taken & appropriated to the uses aforesaid, the clerk of the county of omitted is hereby empowered & required on requisition from the sd directors to issue a writ in nature of a writ of Ad quod damnum to be directed to the sheriff of the sd county commanding him to summon & impanel twelve able & discreet freeholders of the vicinage no ways concerned in interest in the sd lots of land nor related to the owners or proprietors thereof to meet on the sd lots on a certain day to be named in the sd writ not under five nor more than ten days from the date thereof, of which notice shall be given by the sheriff to the proprietors and tenants of the sd lots of land if they be to be found within the county, & if not, then to their agents therein if any they have, which freeholders taking nothing, on pain of being discharged from the inquest & immediately imprisoned by the sheriff, either of meat or drink from any person whatever from the time they come to the sd place until their inquest, seated shall be charged by the sd sheriff impartially & to the best of their skill & judgment to value the sd lots of ground in so many several & distinct parcels as shall be owned & held by several & distinct owners & tenants & according to their respective interests & estates therein, & if the sd valuation cannot be completed in one day then the sd sheriff shall adjourn the sd jurors from day to day until the same be completed; & after such valuation made the sd sheriff shall forthwith return the same under the hands & seals of the sd jurors to the clerk’s office of the sd county, and the right & property of the sd owners & tenants in the sd lots of land shall be immediately divested & be transferred to this commonwealth in full & absolute dominion, any want of consent or disability to consent in the sd owners & tenants notwithstanding.
The costs of the sd inquest & the several sums at which the rights of the owners & tenants are valued shall be paid by the Treasurer to the sd owners, tenants & others entitled respectively on warrant from the Auditors.1
And whereas it may be expedient to enlarge the sd town of omitted by laying off a number of lots to be added, thereto, & it may also happen that some of the lands adjacent to the sd town may be more convenient for the public uses; be it therefore enacted that the sd directors cause two hundred additional lots or half acres, with necessary streets to be laid off adjacent to such parts of the sd town as to them shall seem most convenient and they shall also be at liberty to appropriate the six squares aforesd or any part of them either from among the lots now in the sd town, or those to be laid off as before directed, or of the lands adjacent to the sd former or latter lots; and the sd six squares & two hundred lots shall thenceforth be a part of the sd town, and the sd directors shall return into the clerk’s office of the sd county of omitted there to be recorded, a full & distinct report under their hands and seals of the lots and squares of land added by them to the sd town or appropriated to the public uses, together with a plan thereof, the rights of the several owners & tenants of the lots of land so to be added to the town & not appropriated to the public uses are nevertheless saved to them.
And be it further enacted that from & after the last day of December which shall be in the year of our Lord 1780 the sd Court of Appeals, High Court of Chancery, General Court & Court of Admiralty shall hold their sessions in the apartments prepared for them by the sd directors in the sd Halls of justice; that the first meeting of general assembly after the same day shall be in the said Capitol, that the clerks of the two houses of Assembly and of the several courts before mentioned, shall previously cause to be removed thither at the public expense the records, papers, and other things belonging to their respective offices, and that the keeper of the public jail shall in like manner cause all prisoners in his custody to be removed to the public jail to be built as before directed, which shall thenceforward be deemed and used as the public jail spoken of by the laws whether heretofore or hereafter passed.
draft of a bill for raising six additional battalions of infantry on the continental establishment1
[October 28, 1776.]
Whereas it has been thought necessary by the American Congress that the armies of the United States should be augmented to eighty eight battalions to be enlisted to serve during the continuance of the present war unless sooner discharged, & that fifteen of the said battalions should be furnished by this Commonwealth; and the said Congress by their resolutions have engaged to give to every noncommissioned officer & private soldier a present bounty of twenty dollars (an annual bounty of a suit of clothes, to consist for the present year of two linen hunting shirts, two pr of overalls, a leathern or woollen waistcoat with sleeves, one pr of breeches, a hat or leathern cap, 2 shirts, 2 pr of hose, & 2 pr of shoes, amounting in the whole to the value of 20 dollars or that sum to be paid to each soldier who shall procure those articles for themselves) & to provide the following portions of lands to be given at the close of the war, or whensoever discharged to the officers and soldiers who shall engage in the said service, or to their representatives if slain by the enemy; to wit, to every noncommissioned officer or soldier one hundred acres, to every ensign one hundred and fifty acres, to every Lieutenant two hundred acres, to every captain three hundred acres, to every Major four hundred acres, to every Lieutt. Colonel four hundred & fifty acres & to every Colonel five hundred acres.
And whereas there are already in the Continental service eight battalions of regulars raised in this Commonwealth who were enlisted to serve for certain terms only, and one other battalion, formerly in the same service & dissolved by the expiration of the time of their enlistment, has been ordered to be reestablished by new levies; which nine battalions are to be taken as part of the fifteen from this commonwealth provided they shall re-enlist for the continuance of the war: and there are also in the service of this commonwealth (nine companies of marines &) five companies of land forces stationed at different posts on the river Ohio whom it may be expedient to engage in the six new battalions now necessary to be raised to complete the said number of fifteen battalions.
Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia that1 it shall & may be lawful for the governor with the advice of his privy council & he & they are hereby required to take such measures as to them shall seem most expedient for engaging the said nine battalions & also so many (of the sd Marines &) of the companies stationed on the Ohio as shall be willing to be of the Armies of the United States on the new establishment before recited; & for that purpose to give recruiting Powers to the officers commanding the same, or to send special Commissioners if that measure shall appear more effectual, or to adopt any other ways or means most likely to procure their speedy enlistment.
[1 And whereas it will be necessary, in order to augment & form the said Marines into one complete battalion, that an additional company or companies should be raised for that purpose, but the numbers which may be wanting of officers & men being now unknown, the appointing & raising the same cannot be precisely directed, be it therefore enacted that it shall & may be lawful for the governor by warrant under his hand to authorize such of the County committees as he shall think proper to appoint such & so many captains & other inferior officers as may be wanting completely to officer the said battalion, who shall immediately proceed to raise their quotas of men: & in case any officers of the Marines engaging in the sd service shall fail to raise the quota of men hereafter prescribed for his office before the day omitted of next omitted it shall be lawful for the governor with the advice of the privy council either to appoint another in his stead or to continue him as shall appear most likely to expedite the raising his said quota.
And be it farther enacted that the Committees for the counties of Fincastle, Botetourt, East-Augusta, & Hampshire shall each of them appoint one captain, 2 Lieutenants, one Ensign & four sergeants to be added to the officers of the five companies stationed on the Ohio or to such of them as shall be willing to engage as aforesaid in the Continental service & shall with them be formed into one battalion; provided that if all or any of the officers of the sd five companies stationed on the Ohio shall refuse to enter into the sd service it shall be lawful for the Committee of the county from which such officer or officers received his or their appointment to appoint others in their room.]1
Quotas from the several counties.
And for raising the sd six additional battalions be it further enacted that the committee for the district of West Augusta shall have power to appoint ten captains, twenty Lieutenants & ten Ensigns & the committees for the other counties in this commonwealth to appoint the following officers respectively to wit, the Commee for the county of
which several officers so to be appointed shall immediately proceed to enlist the several quotas of men following, that is to say, every Captain shall enlist 28 men, every first Lieutent. 20, every sd. Lieutt. 16, & every ensign 10 & shall be at liberty to do the same as well within their respective counties as without.
Officers failing to enlist quota
And if any officer shall fail to recruit his quota of men before mentioned on or before the day of next the Commee of the county by whom such officer was appointed may either appoint another in his stead, or may continue him if it shall appear to them that the quota of such officer may be sooner completed by his continuance. But if he or the officer appointed in his stead shall further fail to raise the sd quota before the day of next, then the commee of the county who appointed such officer shall make report of the whole matter to the Governor, who with the advice of the privy council shall take such measures thereon as shall seem most likely to expedite the raising the said quota, whether it be by continuing the same officer, or by making a new appointment; and wheresoever any new appointment shall be made on failure of any officer or officers to raise their quota, the men enlisted by such officer or officers so failing shall be delivered over to the officer appointed to succeed him, he refunding to the officer who enlisted the same such recruiting expenses as the committee shall judge reasonable.
And be it further enacted, that to each of the sd six additional battalions 1 Colonel, one Lieutenant Colonel & one Major shall be appointed by joint ballot of both houses of assembly and one chaplain & one Surgeon by the field officers & captains of each battalion respectively, & that all Chaplains, & Surgeons as well of the sd six battalions as of the nine battalions now in Continental service shall at all times be removeable, and others appointed in their steads by the sd field officers & Captains of their respective battalions for good cause to them shewn: and the Surgeon’s Mates shall be appointed by the Surgeon himself with the approbation of the Commanding officer of the battalion & the Adjutant, Regimental Quarter Master, Sergt. Major, Quarter Master Sergeant & Drum Major by the said commanding officer of the battalion.
How to be formed into companies & battalions.
And be it further enacted that the Quotas of men raised by the officers to be appointed by the Commee of West Augusta shall be formed into distinct companies by the sd Commee which companies shall constitute one of the sd six additional battalions: & the Quotas raised by the officers to be appointed by any other Commees shall by the same Commee be formed into one or more companies or parts of a company according to the nature & number of the Quotas: & the said companies & parts of companies shall be formed into battalions of ten companies each by the governor or in his absence by the President who shall Allot to each battalion such of the field officers to be appointed by the two houses of assembly as he shall judge best suited to the same, and shall deliver to the Continental Commander in this Colony a roll of each battalion as soon as the same shall be so embodied and officered.
And whereas it is apprehended that sufficient care and attention hath not been alwais had by officers to the cleanliness, to the health & to the comfort of the soldiers entrusted to their command be it therefore enacted that so long as any troops from this commonwealth shall be in any service to the Northward thereof it shall & may be lawful for our delegates in Congress & they are hereby required from time to time to enquire into the state & condition of the troops & the conduct of the officers commanding & where any troops raised in this commonwealth are upon duty within the same or any where to the Southward there the Govr. & Council are required to make similar enquiry by such ways or means as shall be in their power; & whensoever it shall be found that any officer appointed by this commonwealth shall have been guilty of negligence or want of fatherly care of the soldiers under his command they are hereby respectively required to report to this assembly the whole truth of the case who hereby reserve to themselves a power of removing such officer: & whenever they shall find that such troops shall have suffered thro’ the negligence or inattention of any officer of Continental Appointment they are in like manner to make report thereof to this assembly whose duty it will be to represent the same to Congress: and they are further respectively required from time to time to procure & lay before this assembly exact returns of the numbers & condition of such their troops.
draft of a bill establishing county courts1
v. s. a.
[Nov. 4, 1776.]
For fixing the places of holding courts for the counties of Pittsylvania & Henry. Be it enacted by the General assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia that it shall & may be lawful for the freeholders of the said county of Pittsylvania qualified by law to vote for representatives in general assembly, & they are hereby required to meet at the house of Richard Faithing in the said county on the day of next, then & there to chuse the most convenient place (having due regard as well to the extent of the said county as to the populousness of its several parts) for holding courts for the said county in future.
And be it further enacted that notice shall be given to the freeholders of the said county of Pittsylvania by the Sheriff, ministers & readers, in the same manner & under the like penalties as are directed for giving notice of an election of representatives to serve in General assembly & that the election shall be held by the said Sheriff in the same manner as such election of representatives to serve in General assembly, writing down the names of the places voted for, every one in a separate column of his poll, & the names of every freeholder voting under the place for which he votes: & the place for which the most votes shall be given shall thenceforth be the place for holding courts for the said county: & after the election shall be made the sheriff shall return the original poll, attested by himself, to the clerk’s office of the said county, by whom the same shall be recorded.
And be it further enacted that the same rules & proceedings shall be observed in every article relating to the said election & all persons failing to do their respective duties shall incur the same and be subject to the same actions as are prescribed by law in case of an election of representatives to serve in General assembly.
And be it further enacted that it shall and may be lawful for the freeholders of the said county of Henry qualified by law to vote for representatives to serve in General assembly, & they are hereby required, at the time & place to make their first choice of representatives (which place is hereby declared to be the plantation of John Rolands) to make choice also of the most convenient place for holding courts for the said county of Henry in future having due regard as well to the extent of the said county as to the populousness of it’s several parts, which election shall be notified & held, & in all circumstances to be conducted by the same rules & proceedings, & all persons failing to do their respective duties shall incur the like penalties & be subject to the same action as before directed for the county of Pittslyvania.
Provided that if the freeholders of either of the said counties of Pittsylvania or Henry shall be prevented by rain snow or accidental rise of watercourses from assembling at the places of election on either of the days beforementioned that then it shall & may be lawful for the Sheriff & he is hereby required to postpone the election so prevented until that day week, & so in like manner from week to week so often as the case shall happen.
And whereas by the usual course of the law sheriffs can not be qualified for their offices but by the justices of the peace in open court at the court-house of their counties; and no court can be held for the qualification of a sheriff for the said county of Henry until a place for holding the same is fixed on as before directed; be therefore that the sheriff for the county of Pittsylvania shall have authority & power & he is hereby required to notify & hold the sd election for the county of Henry as well of a place for holding courts as aforesaid as for making their first choice of representatives to serve in General assembly, in like manner & subject to the same penalties & actions as are before presented in the case of the election for the county of Pittsylvania.
draft of a bill for altering rates of copper coin1
v. s. a.
[Nov. 7, 1776.]
For rendering the half penny pieces of copper coin of this commonwealth of more convenient value & by that means introducing them into more general circulation; be it enacted by the General Assembly of the commonwealth of Virginia that from and after the passing of this act the said pieces of copper coin shall pass in all payments for one penny each of current money of Virginia. Provided nevertheless as was heretofore provided by the laws that no person shall be obliged to take above one shilling of the said copper coin in any one paiment of twenty shillings or under, nor more than two shillings & six pence of the said coin in any one paiment of a greater sum than twenty shillings.
report on upshur2
In the House of Delegates, Thursday, Nov. 28, 1776.
Mr. Jefferson, from the Committee of Privileges and Elections, reported that the committee had, according to order, had under their consideration the petition of Arthur Upshur, to them referred, and had agreed to the following report and resolution thereupon; which he read in his place, and afterwards delivered in at the clerk’s table, where the same were again twice read, and agreed to. Your committee find that the said Arthur Upshur having several vessels on the stocks, cleared one of them out for the British West Indies on the 20th day of July, 1775, but that the said vessel was not launched until the 26th day of August; that on the 2d day of September, when the storm happened, the said vessel had no part of her loading on board; that the said vessel sailed after the 10th day of September to one of the foreign West India Islands, with a load of Indian corn; that on the 2d day of October following the Committee of the county of Accomack proceeded to inquire into the matter, and on such inquiry declared the said Upshur had violated the continental association by sending out the said vessel and ordered his case to be published in the Virginia Gazette; that after the return of the said vessel, the said Upshur (as appears by the minutes of the said committee) denying that he had intentionally violated the said association, voluntarily submitted the matter again to the determination of the committee, who, at a session held on the 8th day of January, 1776, upon farther enquiry, were of the opinion that he had violated the said association ignorantly, but that, having behaved obstinately, and ill afterwards, he ought to be fined, and they accordingly fined him 100£, which sum the said Upshur deposited with a member of the Committee. Your committee farther find, that the said petitioner hath conducted himself, both before and since the said transaction, as a friend to the American cause.
Resolved, that though the committee of Accomack were actuated by the best of motives, yet they erred in proceeding to impose the fine upon the petitioner and that therefore the said fine ought to be restored to the said petitioner by the person with whom it was deposited.
Resolved, that the said petitioner having violated the association through ignorance, and having in other respects conducted himself as a friend to the American cause, ought to be restored to the rights of dealing and intercourse with his country.
a bill for the trial of offences committed out of this commonwealth.
v. s. a.
[Dec. 5, 1776.]
For the punishment of Treasons, misprisions of treason or concealment of treasons, felonies, robberies, murthers & confederacies hereafter to be committed out of this Commonwealth.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia that all treasons, misprisions of treasons, concealments of treasons, felonies, robberies, murthers & confederacies hereafter to be committed in or upon the sea, or in any haven, river creek or other place by land or by water not within the body of any county of this Commonwealth, shall be enquired, tried, heard, determined & judged in such counties and places in this Commonwealth as shall be limited by the Governor’s commission or commissions to be directed for the same in like form & condition as if any such offence or offences had been committed or done in or upon land: and such commission shall be had under the seal of the Commonwealth directed to any three or more judges of the General Court, from time to time and as oft as need shall require to hear & determine in such offences after the common course of the laws of this commonwealth, used for treasons, misprisions of treasons, concealments of treasons, felonies, murthers, robberies, & confederacies of the same, done and committed upon the land within this Commonwealth.
And be it enacted by the authority aforesaid that such persons to whom such commission or commissions shall be directed, or two of them at the least, shall have full power & authority to enquire of such offences & of every of them, by the oaths of twelve good & lawful inhabitants in the county limited in their commission in such like manner & form, as if such offences had been committed upon the land within the said county; and that every indictment found and presented before such commissioners, of any treasons, misprisions of treasons, concealments of treasons, felonies, robberies, murthers, man-slaughters, or such other offences, being committed or done in and upon the seas, or in or upon any haven, river, creek or other places by land or by water not being in the body of any county of this Commonwealth, shall be good and effectual in the law; and if any person or persons happen to be indicted for any such offence done or hereafter to be done upon the seas, or in any other place above limited, that then such order, process, judgement, & execution shall be used, had, done & made, to & against every such person and persons so being indicted as against Traytors, felons, murtherers and other offenders aforesaid for treason, misprision of treason, concealment of treason, felony, robbery, murther, or other such offences done upon the land, as by the laws of this Commonwealth is accustomed; & that the trial of such offence or offences if it be denied by the offender or offenders, shall be had by twelve lawful men inhabited in the county limited within such commission, which shall be directed as is aforesaid, & no challenge or challenges to be had for the county; & such as shall be convicted of any such offence or offences by verdict, confession or process, by authority of any such commission, shall have & suffer such pains of death, losses of lands, goods & chattels, as if they had been attainted & convicted of any treasons, misprisions of treasons, concealments of treasons, felonies, robberies, or other the said offences done upon the lands.
And be it enacted by authority afore said, that for treasons, misprisions of treasons, concealments of treasons, felonies, murthers & confederacies done upon the sea or seas, or in or upon any haven, river or creek of this Commonwealth, the offenders shall not be admitted to have the benefit of his or their clergy, but be utterly excluded thereof & from the same.
Provided alway, that this act extend not to be prejudicial or hurtfull to any person or persons, for taking any victual, cables, ropes, anchors, or sails, which any such person or persons (compelled by necessity) taketh of or in any ship which may conveniently spare the same, so that the same person or persons pay out of hand for the same victual, cables, ropes, anchors, or sales, money or money-worth, to the value of the thing so taken, or do deliver for the same a sufficient bill obligatory to be paid within months next ensuing the making of such bills, & that the makers of such bills well and truly pay the same debt at the day to be limited within the said bills.
draft of a bill for suspending executions for debt1
v. s. a.
[Dec. 6, 1776.]
Whereas by the expiration of the act for the regulating and collecting certain officers fees, and by the troubles which have since subsisted in this country, the administration of justice hath been in a great measure suspended; and altho it is thought proper to revive and establish the courts of justice for the purpose of securing & preserving internal peace & good order, of determining disputed rights and titles and of ascertaining just debts and unsettled demands which might otherwise be lost by the death of witnesses or insolvency of debtors; yet nevertheless it may produce great oppression and ruin to debtors to suffer executions to be levied on decrees to be inforced, during the present limited and uncertain state of our trade, for debts heretofore contracted: Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia that when judgement shall be entered or decree passed in any court of record for the recovery of money due from the defendant or defendants before the passing of this act, if such defendant or defendants shall give to the said court good & sufficient security for paiment of the money whensoever by a restoration of trade or from other circumstances it shall appear proper to the General assembly to pass an act for levying executions or enforcing decrees for money then such court shall order execution of the sd judgement or process for enforcing the said decree to be stayed, entering of record the recognisance of such security, so that if the money be not paid when directed by such future act of assembly, a scire facias may issue thereon, without the necessity of commencing a new suit.
[1 ]From the original in the American Antiquarian Society, of Worcester, Mass.
[1 ]The Virginia Convention passed the instruction for independence the day before this was written.
[1 ]On May 14, 1776, “a letter of the 11th from general Washington inclosing sundry papers; a letter of the 3d from general Schuyler; and a letter of the 9th from Daniel Robertson, were laid before Congress and read: Resolved, That they be referred to a committee of three. The members chosen, Mr. W. Livingston, Mr. Jefferson, and Mr. J. Adams.” On May 16th letters from the Commissioners of Congress in Canada, and from Washington, were referred to the same Committee. They presented the above report May 21st, which was read the same day, and consideration postponed. It was again considered on the 22d, and sundry resolutions adopted. Cf. Journal of Congress. This report is printed from the original in Jefferson’s handwriting, which is headed “Report on Indians.”
[1 ]This paragraph is stricken out.
[1 ]The words in brackets are stricken out.
[1 ]The fair copy is endorsed in Jefferson’s handwriting, “A Bill for new modelling the form of government, & for establishing the fundamental principles thereof in future. It is proposed that this bill, after correction by the Convention, shall be referred by them to the people, to be assembled in their respective counties and that the suffrages of two thirds of the counties shall be requisite to establish it.” The rough draft has no preamble, though space was left for it. In both copies the erasures and interlineations are indicated. The bracketed portions in Roman are so written by Jefferson. Those in italic are inserted by the editor. For these most important papers I am under obligation to the courtesy of Mr. Cassius F. Lee of Alexandria, Va., and Mr. Worthington Chauncey Ford, of Brooklyn, N. Y., not merely for photographic reproductions, but also for the facts concerning them given at large in the latter’s Jefferson’s Constitution for Virginia (The Nation, li., 107). This constitution, though mentioned in several of the histories and other works concerning Virginia, and though seen by Wirt (Life of Patrick Henry, p. 196), and by Leigh (Debates of Virginia Convention, 1830, p. 160), has never yet been printed or even quoted. The history of its production is as follows:
[2 ]This heading is written on a separate sheet, the remainder of the page being left blank.
[1 ]This portion in brackets is cancelled by the paragraph following, which is pasted as a flap over it.
[1 ]On June 16th Congress referred this matter to Jefferson, Braxton, Paine, and Middleton. They made this report on June 17th, when it was read and laid on the table. On June 24th it was recommitted, and again reported to the Congress on July 10th, when it passed in a much modified form. Cf. Journals of Congress, ii., 256.
[1 ]Words in italics not in Jefferson’s handwriting.
[1 ]Words in italics not in Jefferson’s handwriting.
[1 ]Words in italics not in Jefferson’s handwriting.
[1 ]Words in italics not in Jefferson’s handwriting.
[1 ]Words in italics not in Jefferson’s handwriting.
[1 ]Words in italics not in Jefferson’s handwriting.
[2 ]Here Jefferson had written “States of America” which has been stricken out by another hand and “Colonies” written in its place.
[1 ]Endorsed: “Report of the Comte. on the capitulation entered into between genl Arnold & capt. Forster. No. 1 brot. in June 17, 1776, read & ordered to lie on the table, recommitted June 24, 1776, passed July 10.”
[1 ]On May 23, 1776, Congress appointed Harrison, R. H. Lee, J. Adams, J. Wilson, and Edward Rutledge a committee to confer with Washington, Gates, and Mifflin, “upon the most speedy and effectual means for supporting the American cause in Canada.” They reported to Congress the following day, but were directed to confer further with the generals. They reported again May 29th, and on May 30th Congress resolved itself into a committee of the whole to consider the report. It was considered from time to time, a few resolutions being reported, till June 15th, when the committee of the whole reported the results of their deliberations to Congress. On the same day Congress named Jefferson, Braxton, Paine, and Middleton a committee “to digest and arrange the several resolutions agreed to in the committee of the whole.” They presented the following report (which is in Jefferson’s handwriting) on June 17th, and with some changes it was adopted the same day. Cf. Journals of Congress, June 17, 1776, and Ford’s Writings of Washington, iv., 109.
[1 ]This paragraph is stricken out.
[1 ]This and the succeeding paragraphs are stricken out.
[1 ]This and the succeeding three paragraphs are stricken out.
[1 ]From the Southern Literary Messenger, iii., 306.
[1 ]The text in the first column is from a copy in the handwriting of John Adams, now in the Adams papers at Quincy, for which I am indebted to the courtesy of Mr. Charles Francis Adams and Mr. Theodore F. Dwight. From a comparison of it with the facsimile of Jefferson’s rough draft, it is evident that it represents the first phrasing of the paper. The text in the second column is approximately that reported by the committee to Congress, and is taken from Jefferson’s rough draft reproduced herein in facsimile from the original in the Department of State. The text in the third column is from the engrossed copy of the Declaration of Independence, also in the Department of State. Another MSS. copy in Jefferson’s writing, slightly altered in wording, was inserted by him in his Autobiography, and is printed, ante, 1, 35. This is in the Department of State, as is likewise a copy in his handwriting made for Madison in 1783, which is reproduced in facsimile in the Madison Papers, vol. iii. Between July 4th-10th, Jefferson made copies of the Declaration, indicating his phrasing and that adopted by the Congress, and sent them to R. H. Lee, Wythe, Page, Pendleton, and Mazzei, and probably others. Lee gave his copy to the American Philosophical Society, where it now is. Those of Wythe, Page, and Pendleton have never been heard of. Mazzei gave his to the Countess de Tessie of France, and it has not been traced. A copy in Jefferson’s writing is now owned by Dr. Thomas Addis Emmett, and a fragment of another is in the possession of Mrs. Washburn of Boston. Thus at least five copies and a fragment of a sixth are still extant.—Cf. ante, vol. i., 35.
[1 ]From Lee’s Life of R. H. Lee, i., 275.
[1 ]A fragment from The Balance, ii., 146.
[1 ]On June 10th, Rutledge, Jefferson, and Paine were appointed a committee to “draw up rules and regulations for the conduct of the house, during debate,” and they reported a plan on July 10th, which after consideration and amendment was adopted July 17th. These rough notes though undated, are clearly, from their similarity to the rules so adopted, those used by the committee.
[2 ]A fragment from Girardin’s History of Virginia, iv.
[1 ]This resolution is not dated, and is apparently not entered in the Journal of the Continental Congress. It was probably offered in July, 1776, when Congress was establishing rules for its own guidance, and rejected.
[1 ]From Randall’s Life of Jefferson, iii., 582.
[1 ]This is copied from a rough draft, which has no address but the following note from the Minutes of the Convention, as printed in the Philadelphia Evening Post of August 6, 1776, shows to whom it was written: “A letter was read from the Delegates of the state of Virginia, now in Congress, proposing ‘a temporary line’; the same being considered, it was ordered ‘that further consideration thereof be deferred.’ ” Nor does the proposition ever seem to have been voted upon.
[1 ]Sewickly Creek.
[1 ]This and the following letter, printed from rough drafts in Jefferson’s handwriting, were evidently intended to be signed by the whole Virginia delegation.
[1 ]Cf. Journals of Congress, 14 July, 1776.
[2 ]From the New England Historical and Genealogical Register, xx., 69.
[1 ]From Randall’s Life of Jefferson, iii., 582.
[1 ]From a copy courteously furnished by Mr. Cassius F. Lee, of Alexandria, Va.
[1 ]From Randall’s Life of Jefferson, iii., 584.
[1 ]From a copy courteously furnished by Dr. J. S. H. Fogg, of Boston. It was purchased by him in the papers of John Taylor of Caroline, but was probably written to Edmund Pendleton, whose papers passed into Taylor’s hands.
[1 ]From the original in the possession of the American Antiquarian Society of Worcester.
[1 ]Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams were appointed a committee on Aug. 26th to report on a letter of James Wilson, and this resolution with a preamble, and additional resolution, was adopted the following day as the result of their report. This resolution is in Jefferson’s handwriting, but the preamble is in that of John Adams.
[2 ]A plan for encouraging the Hessians and other foreigners to quit the British service.
[1 ]These resolutions were apparently moved in the Congress on the arrival of Washington’s letter of Aug. 26th, enclosing Lord Drummond’s letter to him, and his answer. Cf. Ford’s Writings of Washington, iv., 350, 369.
[1 ]A reply to a notification of his election as a Commissioner to France.
[1 ]These are endorsed by Jefferson: “scraps early in the revolution.” They were probably materials and notes for his speeches in the House of Delegates on the petitions for the disestablishment of the Episcopal church. Owing to the rebinding it is practically impossible to say if any order was intended.
[1 ]“Will not his own excellent rule be sufficient here too; to punish these as civil offences. e. gr. to assert that a foreign prince has power within this Commonwealth is a misdemeanor. The other opns may be despised. Perhaps the single thing & which may be required to others before toleration to them would be an oath that they would allow toleration to others.”—T. J.
[1 ]On Oct. 12, 1776, leave was granted to introduce this bill, and Jefferson, Starke, and Bullitt were named a committee to draft it. Jefferson reported this draft Oct. 14th. It was considered and amended in the Committee of the Whole on Oct. 17th and 18th, was passed by the lower house on Oct. 23d, and concurred in by the Senate, Nov. 1st. It was the first great blow at the aristocratic or landed class of Virginia, and is noticed by Jefferson in his Autobiography; ante, i, 58. This is the draft of the bill, in Jefferson’s handwriting, the bill as finally adopted being in the Session Acts for 1776, p. 37; A Collection of the Public Acts of Va., 1785, p. 45; and in Hening, ix., 226.
[1 ]As this was one of the first bills passed by the Assembly as formed under the Constitution adopted in this year, the enacting clause was not yet definitely settled, and is left blank in the draft.
[1 ]These amendments were proposed by Jefferson himself, and are taken from the original in his handwriting, in the Virginia archives.
[1 ]On Oct. 14th the House of Delegates “ordered, That leave be given to bring in a bill for the removal of the seat of government, and that Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Adams and Mr. Starke do prepare and bring in the same.” On the same day Jefferson introduced this bill, which was read for a first time, and “on the question put that the said bill be read a second time, it passed in the negative.” Journal for 1776, p. 51. See Jefferson’s Autobiography, ante, i, 64. A bill for this purpose, with the preamble of the above, was introduced by Harvey on May 28, 1779, and passed. It is printed in A Collection of the Public Acts of Virginia, 1785, p. 100; and in Hening, x., 85.
[1 ]This clause, which is stricken out, follows: “The sd directors shall work at the public expense for the act.”
[1 ]On October 15, 1776, the House of Delegates appointed Mr. Treasurer (R. C. Nicholas), Nelson, Bullitt, Jefferson, and Smith to prepare this bill. On Oct. 24th, they added to these, Jones, Fleming, Henry, and Read. The bill was reported by Jefferson on Oct. 28th, and read the first time. Read the second time on the following day, and passed on Nov. 2d. This is printed from the original draft in Jefferson’s handwriting. The act as adopted is given in Hening, ix., 179.
[1 ]Then follows this clause, which is stricken out: “a committee of three persons to be chosen by joint ballot of both houses shall proceed immediately.” And Jefferson has written: “Govt. to re-enlist 9 former battalions, marines & Ohio garrisons. T. Nelson, R. H. Lee, etc.”
[1 ]“Govr. to direct commees shall No. companies to compleat Battalions of marines.”—T. J.
[1 ]The paragraphs in brackets are stricken out.
[1 ]On Oct. 25th, leave was granted to introduce this bill, and Jefferson, Williams, Bullitt, and Terry were named to do it. On Nov. 4th, it was read for the first time and on the 5th, it was read a second time and committed to the Committee of the Whole. On Nov. 21st, it was sent back to the drafting committee, to which the members from Pittsylvania were added. It was reported again on Dec. 2d, and passed on the 5th. It is difficult to discover the cause for dissatisfaction with Jefferson’s draft, which led to its recommittal, for a comparison with the act as passed gives no indication of it, but it undoubtedly was intended to aid the western counties in the struggle to obtain equal privileges with those on the tide-waters.
[1 ]On Nov. 7th, the House of Delegates gave leave for the introduction of this bill, and named Jefferson and Fleming to “propose the same” which was done the same day. On Nov. 8th, it was read for a second time, and on Nov. 21st, was rejected.
[2 ]From the Virginia Gazette, Dec. 13, 1776.
[1 ]The system of mortgaging crops in Virginia; the non-exportation association of the Continental Congress; the interruption of all trade by the restraining acts; and the outbreak of actual war, threatened to force bankruptcy on the larger part of the planter interest in that State. This class therefore united in opposing the establishment of courts of justice under the new Constitution. In hopes of lessening this serious opposition, leave was given by the Burgesses, Dec. 5th, for the introduction of this bill, and Mason, Jefferson, T. Adams, Bullitt, Nicholas, and Braxton were named a committee to do so. On Dec. 6th, it was introduced by Mason, and read the first time. On the 9th, it was read for a second time and committed to the Committee of the Whole. In the meantime, the planters, not satisfied with this sop, had succeeded in deferring the bills organizing the courts, till the next session; so those opposed to them united and deferred this bill also. It was never again introduced. The draft is in Jefferson’s handwriting.