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Engrossed Copy - 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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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.
draft of a bill for providing against invasions and insurrections1
v. s. a.
[May 10, 1777.]
For making provision against invasions & insurrections & laying the burthen thereof equally on all be it enacted by the General assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia that the division of the militia of each county into ten parts directed by a former ordinance shall be completed & kept up in the following manner. The commanding officer of every county within one month after every general muster shall enroll under some captain such persons not before enrolled as ought to make a part of the militia, who together with those before enrolled & not yet formed into tenths & with such Quakers & Menonists as are not formed into tenths shall be such captain at his first muster after receiving the same be divided into equal parts as nearly as may be, each part to be distinguished by fair and equal lot by numbers from one to ten, & when so distinguished to be added to, and make part of the division of the militia of such county already distinguished by the same number.
And where any person subject to such allotment shall not attend, or shall refuse to draw for himself, the captain shall cause his lot to be drawn for him by some other in presence of the company.
When any officer of the militia shall receive notice of any invasion or insurrection within his own county, he shall immediately give intelligence thereof to the commanding officer of the county & if the urgency of the case requires it he shall forthwith raise the militia under his special command & proceed to oppose the enemy or insurgents: the commanding officer of the county on receiving notice thereof shall immediately if the case will admit delay or be greater than the force of his own militia may encounter, communicate the same to the Governor, by express, for which purpose he may impress boats, men & horses, & may also notify to any militia officer of the adjacent counties to be by him forwarded to his commanding officer & in the meantime if it be urging shall raise such part of his own militia as the case shall require & admit. The commanding officer of any adjacent county receiving the notice so forwarded, shall immediately raise such part of his militia, not exceeding two thirds, as the circumstances of the case may require & order them to the assistance of such adjacent county: but any of the commanding officers, if he think the case of too small consequence to require these proceedings may call a council of war to consist of a majority of his field officers & captains & take their advice whether any & what force shall be raised or sent or whether they may await the governor’s orders.
The governor on receiving such intelligence may, with the advice of the council of state cause to be embodied & marched to oppose such invasion or insurrection, such members of the militia as may be needful and from such counties as will suit the exigencies of the case; & if the corps consist of three or more battalions, may appoint a General officer to take command thereof.
The several divisions of the militia of any county shall be called into duty by regular rotation from the first to the tenth, & every person failing to attend when called on, or to send an able bodied man in his room, shall, unless there be good excuse, be considered as a deserter & suffer accordingly.
Any able bodied volunteers who will enter into the service shall be accepted instead of so many of the divisions of militia called for but if the invasion or insurrection be so near & pressing as not to allow the delay of calling for the division or divisions next in turn, the commanding officer may call on such part of the militia as shall be most convenient, to continue in duty till such division or divisions can come to supply their places.
The soldiers of such militia if not well armed & provided with ammunition shall be furnished with the arms & ammunition of the county & any deficiency in these may be supplied from the public magazines, or, if the case admit not the delay, by impressing arms & ammunition of private property, which ammunition so far as not used, & arms, shall be duly returned as soon as they may be spared & any person embezzling any such public or private arms, or not delivering them up when required by his commanding officer shall on his warrant be committed to prison without bail or mainprise there to remain till he deliver or make full satisfaction for the same.
The commanding officer shall appoint such officers of the militia as he shall think most proper to command the men called out by divisions in the following proportions: if there be called into duty not more than 15 men he shall appoint one ensign & one serjeant to command them: if not more than 25 men a lieutenant an ensign and two serjeants; if not more than 40 men, a captain, lieutenant ensign & three serjeants; if 50 men, a captain two lieutenants an ensign & four serjeants; & so in proportion for every greater number; adding, if there be several companies, such field officers as may be requisite. A distinct list of the names & numbers of officers & soldiers sent on duty, with the time they served, attested on oath by the officer commanding such party shall be certified by the commanding officer of the county to the next General assembly.
Any officer resigning his commission on being called into duty by the Governor or his commanding officer, shall be ordered into the ranks, & shall moreover suffer punishment as for disobedience of command.
The commanding officer of the corps marching to oppose any invasion or insurrection, or any commissioned officer by warrant under the hand of such commander, may, for the necessary use of such corps or for the transportation of them across waters, or of their baggage by land or water, impress provisions, vessels with their furniture, hands, wagons, carts, horses, oxen, utensils for intrenching, smiths, wheelwrights, carpenters or other artificers, & arms in the case before directed, such necessaries or the use of them by the day shall be previously appraised by two persons chosen the one by such officer & the other by the person interested, or both by the officer if the person interested shall refuse to name one and duly sworn by the said officer who is hereby empowered to administer the oath. Such officer shall give a receipt or a certificate of every particular impressed, of its appraised value, & of the purposes for which it was impressed: and if any article impressed shall receive damage while in public service such damage shall be enquired of & estimated by two men chosen & sworn in the same manner & shall be made good by the public.
All persons drawn into actual service by virtue of this act shall be exempted in their persons & property from civil process, & all proceedings against them in civil courts shall be stayed during their continuance in service.
Where any corps or detachment of militia shall be on duty with any corps or detachment of Colonial regulars or Continental troops, or both of them the Continental officers shall take command of the Colonial regulars of the same rank, & these again of militia officers of the same rank.
The commanding officer of each of the counties of Elizabeth City, Princess Anne, Northampton & Accomack, with permission from the Governor, may appoint any number of men not exceeding six in each county to keep a constant lookout to seaward by night & by day; who discovering any vessels appearing to belong to an enemy & to propose landing or hostility, shall immediately give notice thereof to some militia officer of the county, whereon such course shall be pursued as is before directed in case of an invasion or insurrection.
The pay of all officers and soldiers of the militia, from the time they leave their homes, by order of their commanding officer till they return to them again, & of all lookouts shall be the same as shall have been allowed by the last regulations of General assembly to Colonial regulars of the same rank or degree. Messengers shall be allowed by the auditors of public accounts according to the nature of their service.
Any militia officer receiving notice of an invasion or the approach of any vessel with hostile purpose, & not forwarding the same to his commanding officer shall forfeit, if a field officer one hundred pounds, if a captain or subaltern fifty pounds; any commanding officer of a county receiving such notice & not raising part of his militia nor taking the advice of his council of war two hundred pounds, recoverable with costs by action of debt in the name of the Commonwealth before any court of record, & appropriated to the same uses as the fines imposed by the courtmartial of his county.
Any officer or soldier, guilty of mutiny, desertion, disobedience of command, absence from duty or quarters, neglect of guard, or cowardice, shall be punished at the discretion of a courtmartial by degrading, cashiering, drumming out of the army, whipping not exceeding 20 lashes, fine not exceeding two months, or imprisonment not exceeding one month.
Such courtmartial shall be constituted of militia officers only, of the rank of Captains or higher, & shall consist of 7 members at the least whereof one shall be a county lieutenant or field officer, each of whom shall take the following oath: ‘I — do swear that I will well & truly try & impartially determine the cause of the prisoner now to be tried, according to the act of assembly for providing against invasions & insurrections so help me god,’ which oath shall be administered to the presiding officer by the next in command, & then by such presiding officer to the other members. The said court shall also appoint a clerk to enter and preserve their proceedings, to whom the president shall administer an oath truly and faithfully to execute the duties of his office. All persons called to give evidence shall take the usual oath of evidence, to be administered by the clerk of the court. If in any case the offender be not arrested before the corps of militia on duty be discharged, or cannot be tried for want of members sufficient to make a court, he shall be subject to be tried afterwards by the courtmartial of his county.
All other acts & ordinances so far as they make provisions against invasions & insurrections are hereby repealed.
This act shall be read to every company of the militia by order of the captain or next commanding officer twice in every year, that is to say, at their first muster next succeeding every general muster in his county on penalty of five pounds for every omission.
draft of a bill for regulating the appointment of delegates to general congress1
v. s. a.
[May 12, 1777.]
Be it enacted by the General assembly of the Commonwealth of Virginia that there shall be annually chosen five delegates to act the part of this Commonwealth in General Congress any three of whom shall have power to sit & vote. The delegates to be chosen in this present session of assembly shall continue in office till the day of and those hereafter to be chosen at the said annual election shall enter on the exercise of their office on the day of next succeeding their election & shall continue in the same one year, unless sooner recalled or permitted to resign by General assembly; in which case another shall be chosen to serve till the end of the year in the stead of any one so recalled, or permitted to resign.
No person who shall have served two years in Congress shall be capable of serving therein again till he shall have been out of the same one whole year.
Each of the said delegates for every day he shall attend in Congress shall receive [eight] dollars, and also [fifteen pence] per mile going and the same returning together with his ferriages, to be paid whereever Congress shall be sitting by the Treasurer of this Commonwealth out of any public monies which shall be in his hands.
to john adams1
Williamsburgh, 16 May, 1777.
Matters in our part of the continent are too much in quiet to send you news from hence. Our battalions for the continental service were some time ago so far filled as rendered the recommendation of a draught from the militia hardly requisite, and the more so as in this country it ever was the most unpopular and impracticable thing that could be attempted. Our people, even under the monarchical government, had learnt to consider it as the last of all oppressions. I learn from our delegates that the confederation is again on the carpet, a great and a necessary work, but I fear almost desperate. The point of representation is what most alarms me, as I fear the great and small colonies are bitterly determined not to cede. Will you be so good as to collect the proposition I formerly made you in private, and try if you can work it into some good to save our union? It was, that any proposition might be negatived by the representatives of a majority of the people of America, or of a majority of the colonies of America. The former secures the larger, the latter, the smaller colonies. I have mentioned it to many here. The good whigs, I think, will so far cede their opinions for the sake of the Union, and others we care little for.
The journals of Congress not being printed earlier, gives more uneasiness than I would wish ever to see produced by any act of that body, from whom alone I know our salvation can proceed. In our Assembly, even the best affected think it an indignity to freemen to be voted away, life and fortune, in the dark. Our House have lately written for a manuscript copy of your journals, not meaning to desire a communication of any thing ordered to be kept secret. I wish the regulation of the post-office, adopted by Congress last September, could be put in practice. It was for the travel night and day, and to go their several stages three times a week. The speedy and frequent communication of intelligence is really of great consequence. So many falsehoods have been propagated that nothing now is believed unless coming from Congress or camp. Our people, merely for want of intelligence which they may rely on, are become lethargic and insensible of the state they are in. Had you ever a leisure moment, I should ask a letter from you sometimes, directed to the care of Mr. Dick, Fredericksburgh; but having nothing to give in return, it would be a tax on your charity as well as your time. The esteem I have for you privately, as well as for your public importance, will always render assurances of your health and happiness agreeable. I am, dear sir, your friend and servant.
to benjamin franklin1
Virginia, August 13, 1777.
—I forbear to write you news, as the time of Mr. Short’s departure being uncertain, it might be old before you receive it, and he can, in person, possess you of all we have. With respect to the State of Virginia in particular, the people seem to have laid aside the monarchical, and taken up the republican government, with as much ease as would have attended their throwing off an old, and putting on a new suit of clothes. Not a single throe has attended this important transformation. A half-dozen aristocratical gentlemen, agonizing under the loss of pre-eminence, have sometimes ventured their sarcasms on our political metamorphosis. They have been thought fitter objects of pity, than of punishment. We are, at present, in the complete and quiet exercise of well-organized government, save only that our courts of justice do not open till the fall. I think nothing can bring the security of our continent and its cause into danger, if we can support the credit of our paper. To do that, I apprehend, one of two steps must be taken. Either to procure free trade by alliance with some naval power able to protect it; or, if we find there is no prospect of that, to shut our ports totally, to all the world, and turn our colonies into manufactories. The former would be most eligible, because most conformable to the habits and wishes of our people. Were the British Court to return to their senses in time to seize the little advantage which still remains within their reach, from this quarter, I judge, that, on acknowledging our absolute independence and sovereignty, a commercial treaty beneficial to them, and perhaps even a league of mutual offence and defence, might, not seeing the expense or consequences of such a measure, be approved by our people, if nothing, in the mean time, done on your part, should prevent it. But they will continue to grasp at their desperate sovereignty, till every benefit short of that is forever out of their reach. I wish my domestic situation had rendered it possible for me to join you in the very honorable charge confided to you. Residence in a polite Court, society of literati of the first order, a just cause and an approving God, will add length to a life for which all men pray, and none more than your most obedient and humble servant.
to john adams
Albemarle in Virga, Aug. 21, 1777.
—Your favor of May 26 came safely to hand. I wish it were in my power to suggest any remedy for the evil you complain of, tho’ did any occur I should propose it to you with great diffidence after knowing you had thought on the subject yourself. There is indeed a fact which may not have come to your knolege out of which perhaps some little good may be drawn. The borrowing money in Europe (or obtaining credit there for necessaries) has already probably been essayed & it is supposed with some degree of success. But I expect your applications have as yet been only to France, Holland, or such other states as are of principal note. There is however a small power, well disposed to our cause, &, as I am informed, possessed of abilities to assist us in this way. I speak of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. The little states of Italy you know have had long peace, & shew no disposition to interrupt that peace shortly. The Grand Duke being somewhat avaricious in his nature has availed himself of the opportunity of collecting & hoarding what money he has been able to gather. I am informed from good authority (an officer who was concerned in the business of his treasury1 ) that about three years ago he had ten millions of crowns, lying dead in his coffers. Of this it is thought possible as much might be borrowed as would amount to a million of pounds lawful money. At any rate the attempt might be worth making. Perhaps an application from Dr. Franklin who has some acquaintance in that court might be sufficient, or, as it might be prudent to sound well before the application, in order to prevent the discredit of a rebuff, perhaps Congress would think it worth while to send a special agent there to negotiate the matter. I think we have a gentleman here who would do it with dexterity & fidelity. He is a native of that Duchy; well connected there, conversant in courts of great understanding & equal zeal in our cause. He came over not long since to introduce the cultivation of vines, olives, &c among us. Should you think the matter worth a further thought, either of the Cols. Lees to whom he is known can acquaint you more fully of his character. If the money can be obtained in specie it may be applied to reduce the quantity of circulating paper & be so managed as to help the credit of that which will remain in circulation. If credit alone can be obtained for the manufactures of the country, it will still help to clothe our armies or to increase at market the necessaries our people want.
What upon earth can Howe mean by the manœuvre he is now practicing? There seems to me no object in this country which can be either of utility or reputation to his cause. I hope it will prove of a piece with all the other follies they have committed. The forming a junction with the Northern army up the Hudson’s river, or taking possession of Philadelphia might have been a feather in his cap, & given them a little reputation in Europe. The former as being the design with which they came, the latter as being a place of the first reputation abroad & the residence of Congress. Here he may destroy the little hamlet of Wmsbgh, steal a few slaves, & lose half his army among the fens & marshes of our lower country or by the heat of the climate. I am, dear sir, yours, &c.
first report of conference committee1
Thursday, Dec. 4, 1777.
Mr. Jefferson reported, from the Committee appointed to draw up what is proper to be offered at the conference proposed with the Senate, on the subject matter of their amendments to the resolution of this House for paying to Thomas Johnson the sum of 15£ 5s 6d. that the committee had accordingly drawn up what they think would be proper to be offered at the said conference, which they had directed him to report to the said House; he read the report in his place, and afterwards delivered it in at the clerks table, where the same was read and is as followeth, viz:
The House of Delegates has desired this conference, in order to preserve that harmony and friendly correspondence with the Senate, which is necessary for the discharge of their joint duties of legislation, and to prevent, both now and in future, the delay of public business, and injury which may accrue to individuals, should the two Houses differ in opinion as to the distinct office of each.
Though during the course of the last two, and also of the present session of Assembly, they have acquiesced, under some amendments made by the Senate to votes for allowing public claims and demands, yet they are of opinion that an adherence to fundamental principles is the most likely way to save both time and disagreement; and a departure from them may at some time or other be drawn into precedent for dangerous innovations, and that therefore it is better for both Houses, and for those by whom they are entrusted, to correct the error while new, and before it becomes inveterate by habit and custom.
The constitution having declared that “money bills shall in no instance be altered by the Senate, but wholly approved or rejected,” the delegates are of opinion the Senate had no authority to amend their late vote for allowing to Thomas Johnson the sum of fifteen pounds five shillings and six pence; and should the term “money bills” in the constitution not immediately convey the precise idea which the framers of that act intended to express, it is supposed that its explanation should be sought for in the institutions of that people, among whom alone a distinction between money bills and other acts of legislation is supposed to have been made, and from whom we, and others, emigrating from them, have indisputably copied it.
By the law and usage of their parliament then, all those are understood to be “money bills” which raise money in any way, or which dispose of it, and which regulate those circumstances of matter, method and time, which attend as of consequence on the right of giving and disposing. Again the law and customs of their parliament, which include the usage as to “money bills” are a part of the law of their land; our ancestors adopted their system of law in the general, making from time to time such alterations as local diversities required; but that part of their law which relates to the matter now in question, was never altered by our legislature, in any period of its history; but on the contrary, the two Houses of Assembly, both under our regal and republican governments, have ever done business on the constant admission that the law of parliament was their law. When the delegates, therefore, vote that fifteen pounds five shillings and six pence, whether raised or to be raised on the people shall be disposed of in payment to Thomas Johnson for losses sustained by him on the public behalf, this is a vote for the disposal of money, which the Senate are at liberty to approve or reject in the whole, but cannot amend by altering the sum.
The delegates, therefore, hope that the Senate will concur with them in a strict and mutual observance of those laws by which both houses are bound, and they are well assured, that this subject being properly stated to the Senate, they will forbear in future, to exercise a practice which seems not authorised, but, if there should be found any difference of opinion on this point, the delegates will be ready to join in any regular proposition for defining with precision, the subject of their difference, so as to prevent all doubts and delays in future.
second report of conference committee
Friday, Jan. 9, 1778.
Mr. Jefferson reported from the Committee, appointed to prepare reasons to be offered to the Senate, at the conference to be desired of them on the subject of the last conference; that the committee had accordingly prepared, what they thought would be proper to be offered at the said conference; and he read the same in his place, and afterwards delivered it in at the clerk’s table, where the same was read, and is as followeth, viz:
Reasons, to be offered at the conference to be desired of the Senate, in answer to their reasons delivered at the last conference:
The House of Delegates, not being satisfied with the reasons urged by the Senate, in support of their amendments to the resolution for allowing Thomas Johnson the sum of 15£ 5s. 6d., have desired this second conference to shew the insufficiency of the said reasons, and to propose that some expedient may be adopted by the two Houses, for reconciling their difference of opinion.
The resemblance between the constituent parts of our legislature, and that of Great Britain, is supposed by the Senate, so faint, that no ground remains for those jealousies, which have prompted the Commons of Great Britain against their House of Lords. This might have been, and doubtless was, urged, at the time our constitution was formed, as a reason why the Senate and Delegates should have equal powers of money bills. But the argument having been overruled, and the powers of the Senate, as to this point, being fixed, by the constitution, on the same restricted footing, with those of the Lords in the British legislature, it is conceived not to be the proper question of this day, whether the resemblance between them, in general, be faint or strong, well or ill-grounded, but, whether the constitution has not made them, to resemble in this point.
Had those who framed the constitution, as soon as they had completed that work, been asked, man by man, what a money bill was, it is supposed that man by man, they would have referred for answer to the well known laws and usages of Parliament, or, would have formed their answer, on the Parliamentary idea of that term. Its import, at this day, must be the same as it was then. And it would be unreasonable, now, to send us to seek its definition in the subsequent proceedings of that body, as it would have been for them, at that day, to have referred us to such proceedings before they had come into existence. The meaning of the term, must be supposed complete, at the time they use it; and to be sought for, in those resources only, which existed at the time. Constructions, which do not result from the words of the legislator, but lie hidden in his breast, till called forth, ex post facto, by subsequent occasions, are dangerous, and not to be justified by ordinary emergencies.
Nor do we, by this, set up the Parliament of England, as the expositor of our constitution, but the law of Parliament, as it existed, and was evidenced by usage, at the time the term in question was inserted in our instrument of government; a law coeval with the common law itself, and no more liable, as adopted by us, to subsequent change, from that body, than their common or statute law, which we have in like manner adopted. To suppose this branch of law, not existing in our code, would shake the foundation of our whole legal system; since every legislative proposition which has been passed or rejected since the first establishment of a legislature in this country, has been determined to be law, or not law, by the forms of Parliamentary proceeding.
With as little justice may it be said, that this is referring for the definition of a term, to multiplied disputes, which have for ages agitated the Parliament of England, and which no time will decide; that it is proving what is clear, by what is very obscure; and unsettling what is fixed: since we conceive that researches into Parliamentary history, will decisively shew, that their practice in this matter has been clear, fixed, and ancient; and, that for ages past, it has produced no agitation, unless we call by that name some groundless assertions of the Lords in the course of the last century. Yet, these assertions they departed from in practice, at the very time they advanced them: and at all times after, they stand contradicted by the declarations of the Commons, and the constant usage of both Houses; which, agreeing together, are supposed to form the strongest evidence what the law of Parliament is on this point.
To prove this right, as uniformly claimed and exercised by the Commons, and assented to in practice by the Lords, the Delegates will subjoin some proceedings of Parliament, in addition to the passage cited by the Senate.
That a bill, for raising money by way of taxes, is a money bill, is admitted by the Senate, and need not therefore be proved.
That bills, for raising money by rates, and impositions on merchandise, are also considered as money bills, will appear, on recurring to the Parliamentary proceedings of 1671, in which it is affirmed, “that there is a fundamental right in the House of Commons alone, in bills of rates and impositions on merchandise, as to the matter, the measure, and the time;” and also, by their declaration of 1689, “that the Commons have always taken it for their undoubted privilege (of which they have been tender and jealous) that, in all aids given to the King by the Commons, the rate or tax ought not to be any way altered by the Lords,” which is supposed to be the passage cited by the Senate, as of the year 1671.
That bills, for applying forfeitures in aid of the public revenue are not amendable by the Lords, appears by the proceedings of 1700, on the bill “for applying Irish forfeitures to the use of the public,” to which the Lords were not permitted to make any amendments.
The right of levying money, in whatever way, being thus exercised by the Commons, as their exclusive office, it follows, as a necessary consequence, that they may also exclusively direct its application. “Cujus est dare, ejus est disponere,” is an elementary principle, both of law and of reason: That he who gives, may direct the application of the gift: or, in other words, may dispose of it: that if he may give absolutely, he may also carve out the conditions, limitations, purposes, and measure of the gift, seems as evidently true, as, that the greater power contains the lesser.
Parliamentary usage, has accordingly, approved this reasoning.
In July, 1678, the Commons resolved, “that it is their undoubted and sole right, to direct, limit, and appoint, in all aids and supplies granted to the King, the ends, purposes, considerations, limitations, and qualifications, of such grants; which ought not to be changed by the House of Lords.”
In December of the same year, the Commons having directed the payment of money, and the Lords proposed an amendment thereto, the former declared “that their Lordships never before changed any such disposition made on a supply granted by the Commons.”
In 1701, the Lords having amended a bill, “for stating and examining the public accounts,” by inserting a clause for allowing a particular debt, the Commons disagreed to the amendment; and declared for a reason, “that the disposition, as well as granting, of money by act of Parliament, hath ever been in the House of Commons; and, that the amendment relating to the disposal of money, does entrench upon that right.” And, to a bill of the same nature, the year following, the Lords having proposed an amendment, and declared “That their right in granting, limiting, and disposing public aids, being the main hinge of the controversy, they thought it of the highest concern that it should be cleared and settled.” They then go on to prove the usage, by precedents, and declarations, and, from these conclude, “That the limitation, disposition, and manner of account, belong only to them.”
In reply, the Lords said, “They declined all arguments concerning the rights of the Commons in granting, limiting and disposing public aids; and, therefore, forbore to answer any arguments of that kind”; but proceeded to insist that the business then depending was of quite another nature. And, at some subsequent conferences between the two Houses, during the same session, it was repeatedly declared, “That the Lords could not supply any deficiency, or apply any surplusage of the public money, and in case any should be found.” And this declaration does not appear to have been contradicted by the Lords, either then or at any time after.
The precedents are supposed to prove, not only that the disposal or application of public money is, equally with the raising of it, the exclusive office of the Commons, but also, that it makes no difference whether it be of money then actually in the treasury, or yet to be raised on the people; nor whether the raising and disposing be in the same or in separate bills.
Though the precedents referred to by the Senate, in the proceedings of the Council and House of Burgesses, in the years 1771, 1772, and 1773, (the first of which, however, we suppose to be mistaken for 1772) might perhaps be well accounted for from their particular nature, from the history of the times, or from other causes; and though the delegates might produce, from the same records, proofs, much more decisive in their favor, yet they decline resting the matter on that bottom: because, they are of opinion, that the present determination ought not to be influenced by the practice of those who have themselves only copied from the same original. Their practice, and our opinions, must be proved by the same common rule,—the law and practice of Parliament. Their acknowledgment of the rule, proves their submission to it, and that their practice should be tried by the law, and not the law by their practice.
How dangerous it is to appeal to other authorities from the Parliamentary records, the true text of decision, will appear also by examining the whole passage, of which a part only was cited from the Commentaries of Judge Blackstone; a writer, celebrated indeed; but, whether most for his attachment to the prerogatives of the crown, or to the rights of the people, would be worthy of consideration, where the question is on one of those rights, which have been of the greatest value to the people—the right of giving and disposing of their own money. That writer, after the definition cited from his book by the Senate, goes on to quote a passage from Judge Hale’s treatise on the jurisdiction of Parliament, which is to be found more at large in Broke’s Abridgement, under the title “Parliament, Pl. 4:” there it appears to be a saying of Kerbie, a clerk of the Parliament, who lays down in express terms, or by direct implication, these following positions, as of the law of Parliament:—
1st. That the Lords may amend a bill for granting aids.
2nd. That, if the amendment be by shortening the duration of the grant, they need not return the bill to the Commons for their concurrence.
3rd. That the King may alter a bill.
Broke indeed adds a quere to the case; but that Judge Blackstone, disapproved of it, cannot be inferred from his words. It is therefore submitted to the consideration of the Senate, whether they would set up as an arbiter of Parliamentary law, a writer who can cite or refer to such positions, whether condemning them, in decisive and unequivocal terms; for that part of his book, too, which the Senate quote and rely on, he cites no authority whatever. Are we then to take it upon his affirmation, when contradicted by the uniform current of Parliamentary usage? But, waiving further examination of the legality of his opinion, it suffices to observe, as a full answer to it, that the judges of the common law can take no cognizance of the law of Parliament. It can never come judicially in question before them. Their sayings or opinions on the subject, must be ever extra-judicial; and they have accordingly always disclaimed a right to give judgment on them. Definitions therefore, of Parliamentary law, by any other court, by a member of court, or by a private individual, must be rejected as inauthoritative in a Parliamentary disquisition.
For these reasons, the delegates still think, that the Senate have no authority to amend the vote in question. But open to conviction, if it can be shown they are wrong, and actuated by a strong desire to promote the public service, as well as to preserve the Constitution entire, they propose to the Senate, if they should still adhere to their former opinions, that a select committee may be appointed by each House, to meet together in full conference, and endeavor to define the office of the two Houses in bills, clauses, and votes, relating to money, and that such definition, if approved by both Houses, may be confirmed by act of Assembly.
draft of a bill giving certain powers to the executive1
v. s. a.
[Jan. 13, 1778.]
Whereas the present war between America & Great Britain was undertaken for defence of the common rights of the American states, & it is therefore just that each of them, when in danger, should be aided by the joint exertions of all; and as on any invasion of this Commonwealth in particular, we should hope for, & expect, necessary aids of militia from our neighboring sister states, so it is incumbent on us to yield the same assistance to them, under the like circumstances; & the laws heretofore empowering the Governor & council to send aids of militia to such states, will expire at the end of this present session of assembly.
Be it therefore enacted by the General assembly that on the invasion of any adjacent or neighboring state, & application from Congress, or from the legislative or executive powers of such state for aids of militia, it shall be lawful for the Governor, with the advice of the council of state, to order to their assistance such corps of the militia from any of the counties of this commonwealth as the exigence of the case may require or admit; having regard in such orders to the convenience & vicinity of such counties to the place invaded, their internal security & the imminence of the danger: and moreover to appoint such general, field & staff officers as may be requisite to command, attend, & provide for the same; to have them furnished with necessaries for travelling & camp uses, & such arms, ammunition and accoutrements as may be called for if the same can be procured & spared from this Commonwealth.
And to answer the expenses hereof in the first instance, the Governor is empowered to draw for any sums of money necessary to carry these purposes into effect on the Treasurer for this commonwealth, who is hereby authorized to pay the same out of any public money in his hands, keeping a separate & distinct account thereof, in order that the same may be reimbursed to the Commonwealth.
Such militia while on duty shall be subject to the Continental rules & articles of discipline & government, save only that all courtsmartial, whether general or regimental, which shall be holden on any of them, shall consist of their own officers only.
This act shall be in force until the end of the next session of General assembly & no longer.
draft of bill designating places for holding courts of chancery and general court1
[Jan. 20, 1778.]
Whereas by the acts constituting the High court of Chancery & General court, the said courts are to be holden at such place as the legislature shall direct, & no place hath as yet been appointed for that purpose:
Be it therefore enacted by the General assembly that for the term of one year after the end of this present session of assembly, & from thence to the end of the session next ensuing, the said courts shall be holden in the Capitol in the city of Williamsburgh.
And be it further enacted that it shall be lawful for the said High court of Chancery to appoint from time to time their own Serjeant at arms who shall be attendant on the sd court to perform the duties of his office; for which he shall receive such fees as shall be allowed by law.
a bill granting free pardon to certain offenders1
v. s. a.
[May 14, 1778.]
Whereas the American Congress by their resolution passed on the 23d day of April last past, reciting that persuasion & influence, the example of the deluded or wicked, the fear of danger or the calamities of war, may have induced some of the subjects of these states to join, aid, or abet the British forces in America, and who, tho’ now desirous of returning to their country, may be deterred by the fear of punishment: and that the people of these states are ever more ready to reclaim than to abandon, to mitigate than to increase the horrors of war, to pardon than to punish offenders: did recommend to the legislatures of the several states to pass laws, or to the executive authority of each state, if invested with sufficient power, to issue proclamations, offering pardon, with such exceptions, and under such limitations and restrictions, as they shall think expedient, to such of their inhabitants or subjects, as have levied war against any of these states, or adhered to, aided or abetted the enemy, and shall surrender themselves to any civil or military officer of any of these states, & shall return to the state to which they may belong before the 10th day of June next: and did further recommend to the good & faithful citizens of these states to receive such returning penitents with compassion and mercy, & to forgive & bury in oblivion their past failings and transgressions.
Be it therefore enacted by the General assembly that full and free pardon is hereby granted to all such persons without any exception who shall surrender themselves as aforesaid, and shall take the oath of fidelity to this Commonwealth within one month after their return thereto.
a bill for the speedy recovery of debts due the united states1
v. s. a.
[May 19, 1778.]
Whereas divers persons receiving money of the United States of America for publick uses, apply it to different purposes, and when called on refuse or neglect to repay the same; others enter into contracts for supplying the army & navy of the United states with provision and other necessaries, & fail or refuse to comply therewith; and whereas in like cases respecting this commonwealth in particular, speedy remedy was given by an act of general assembly passed in the year 1777, intitled “an act to establish a mode for the speedy and summary recovery of such sums of money as are or may become due, & for enforcing all contracts entered into with government” and it is expedient that the same speedy remedy be given in like cases respecting the United states: Be it therefore enacted by the general assembly that where in any case a remedy is by the sd act given to this commonwealth, or any of its agents or contractors, in a like case the same remedy shall be given to the United States, their agents & contractors; and where by the sd act such proceedings are directed to be instituted by the Treasurer in the name of the Governor for the time being, in a like case respecting the United states the proceedings shall be instituted by their deputy paymaster general within this commonwealth and in the name of the President of Congress for the time being.
draft of a bill for providing a supply for the public exigencies1
v. s. a.
[May 20, 1778.]
Whereas in order to carry into effect the several acts passed at this present session of General assembly for raising a regiment of horse, for raising a battalion of infantry for garrison duty, for raising volunteers to join the grand army
And as it will be necessary to make a further emission of treasury notes and to provide for the redemption thereof; be it enacted by the General assembly that it shall be lawful for the Treasurer to issue treasury notes in dollars or parts of a dollar for any sum which may be requisite for the purposes aforesaid in addition to the sums issuable by former acts of assembly, so as the sd sum to be issued by authority of this act do not exceed hundred thousand dollars. And he shall cause the sd to be engraved & printed in such manner & on such paper as he shall judge most likely to secure the same from being counterfeited, and shall appoint proper persons to overlook the press, & to number and sign the notes upon the best terms on which he can procure them. and whereas there is reason to believe that the taxes imposed by an act passed at the last session of General assembly for raising a supply of money for publick exigencies will be more than sufficient to answer the purposes expressed in the sd act; be it further enacted that after the taxes which shall be levied by authority of the sd act shall have effected the purposes to which they are appropriated by the sd act, so much of what shall remain as shall be sufficient for the redemption of the notes to be issued by authority of this present act, shall be applied to that purpose, and if so much as shall be sufficient shall not remain, further provision shall be made by law for making good the deficiency and redeeming the whole before the first day of December which shall be in the year of our lord 1785.
Amendments to the supply of exigencies
3. For recruiting the Continental army & other purposes therein mentioned.
4. Insert the resolutions of the 29th May, 1778, for making good the losses of certain sufferers in the town of Norfolk.
10. Fill up the blank with the word “six.”
14. × [Inclosure]
× If any person shall counterfeit any of the treasury notes issued by authority of this act, or shall be accessory thereto, or shall pass any such counterfeited note knowing the same to be counterfeit, he shall on conviction thereof suffer death without benefit of clergy.
a bill to amend an act intitled “an act for raising a supply of money for public exigencies”1
[May 21, 1778.]
Whereas, by an act of the last session of the General Assembly entitled an act for raising a supply of money for public exigencies it was enacted that a tax or rate of ten shillings for every hundred pounds value should be paid among other things upon all slaves by the owner or proprietor; and that the value of such slaves should be estimated by assessors to be appointed in every hundred: and it hath been already seen that such valuation will be very unequal, slaves of the same value being estimated at three or four times more in some places than in others, insomuch that the sd tax on this particular is like to be very heavy on some citizens of this commonwealth and light on others which is unequal and unjust and it is believed that if one certain rate by the head be fixed on, all slaves bearing the same proportion to their average value as the said pound rate bore to their respective values, it will be more equal in the whole, it being supposed that in most parcels of slaves there will be nearly the same proportion of valuable & of indifferent.
Be it therefore enacted by the General assembly that as well for the present as the remaining years of the term during which the sd act is to continue in force a tax of fifteen shillings by the head shall be paid on all slaves of whatever age or sex, in lieu of the sd rate of ten shillings in every hundred pounds value; and in like manner the double of the sd tax by those who by the sd act were to pay a double rate. And when the assessors shall have noted therein the number of slaves for which they shall have assessed a pound rate on the proprietor the commissioners shall extend against such proprietor the tax aforesd in lieu of the pound rate on the sd slaves extended by the assessors; and where they shall not have so noted the number of slaves they shall be required by the sd Commissioners forthwith to do it. And if any person shall have paid such pound rate before notice of this act if the same were greater than the tax hereby imposed he may require the sheriff to refund the difference or overplus and on failure may recover the same before any justice if the sum be under twenty-five shillings, and if it amount to that sum then on motion before any court giving such sheriff ten days notice thereof: and if the pound rate so paid were less than the tax hereby imposed, then the sheriff shall collect the difference or deficiency in like manner as by the sd act he was authorized to collect the sd pound rate. And doubts having arisen where slaves are hired whether the sd pound rate should be paid by the owner or hirer, and as a like doubt may arise as to the tax hereby imposed, it is declared that the sd tax is paiable by the owner, unless otherwise settled by contract between the parties.
draft of bill of attainder against josiah philips1
v. s. a.
[May 28, 1778.]
Whereas a certain Josiah Philips, labourer, of the parish of Lynhaven and county of Princess Anne together with divers other inhabitants of the counties of Princess Anne & Norfolk and citizens of this commonwealth contrary to their fidelity associating and confederating together have levied war against this Commonwealth, within the same, committing murders, burning houses, wasting farms and still continue to exercise the same enormities on the good people of this commonwealth: and whereas the delays which would attend the proceeding to outlaw the said offenders according to the usual forms and procedures of the courts of law, would leave the said good people for a long time exposed to murder & devastation.
Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly that if the said Josiah Philips his associates and confederates shall not on or before the day of June in this present year render themselves to the Governor or to some member of the privy council, judge of the General court, justice of the peace or commissioned officer of the regular troops, navy, or militia of this commonwealth in order to their trials for the treasons, murders & other felonies by them committed, that then such of them the said Josiah Philips his associates and confederates as shall not so render him or themselves, shall stand and be convicted and attainted of high treason, and shall suffer the pains of death, and incur all forfeitures, penalties & disabilities prescribed by the law against those convicted & attainted of High-treason: and that execution of this sentence of attainder shall be done by order of the General Court to be entered so soon as may be conveniently after notice that any of the said offenders are in custody of the keeper of the public gaol, and if any person committed to the custody of the keeper of the public gaol, as an associate or confederate of the sd Josiah Philips shall alledge that he hath not been of his associates or confederates at any time after the day of in the year of our lord at which time the sd murders & devastations were begun, a petty jury shall be summoned & charged according to the forms of the law to try in presence of the said court the fact so alledged; and if it be found against the defendant, execution of this act shall be done as before directed.
And that the good people of this commonwealth may not in the mean-time be subject to the unrestrained hostilities of the said insurgents, be it further enacted that from and after the passing of this act it shall be lawful for any person with or without orders, to pursue and slay the said Josiah Philips and any others who have been his associates or confederates at any time after the sd day of aforesaid and shall not have previously rendered him or themselves to any of the officers civil or military before described, or otherwise to take and deliver them to justice to be dealt with according to law.
Provided that the person so slain be in arms at the time or endeavoring to escape being taken.
to richard henry lee1
Williamsburg, June 5, 1778.
—I am now to acknowledge the receipt of two of your favors, during the session of Assembly, but there being little to communicate to you, and that, being a busy time with me, has prevented my doing it sooner. The Assembly rose on Monday last; their only act which can shortly aid our army, was one for raising a regiment of horse, which, I think, will be raised as fast as it can be accoutred. Another act they passed, will also produce aid to our army, I hope, but it will be some [delay?] first; it was for giving great encouragement to soldiers, and appointing recruiting officers all over the country, to attend all publick places. By a third act, they foolishly repeated the experiment of raising volunteers; the first attempt was pardonable, because its ill-success could not be foreseen; the second is worse than ridiculous, because it may deceive our friends; I am satisfied there will not be a company raised. I wish Congress would commute a good part of the infantry required from us, for an equivalent force in horse. This service opens us a new fund of young men, who have not yet stepped forth; I mean those whose indolence or education, has unfitted them for foot service; this may be worth your thinking of. We passed the bill of pardon, recommended by Congress, but the Senate rejected it. Your letter, about enlarging your powers over the confederation, was not proceeded on, because the nature of the enlargement was not chalked out by you so intelligibly as enabled the house to do anything, unless they had given a carteblanche. Indeed, I believe, that, had the alterations proposed been specified unless they had been mere form indeed, it might have been difficult to obtain their consent. A Frenchman arrived here a week ago, with a vast cargo of woolens, made and unmade, stockings, shoes, &c. fit for the army, fifty thousand weight of powder, and other articles; the master had once sold the whole cargo, to the governor and council, for 5s 3p the livre, first cost; but, on suggestions from some of our forestallers, and those from Maryland, he flew off. Our bay is clear of the enemy. Nothing new here. I set out for Albemarle, within a day or two. Mr. Harvie will be with you in about three weeks. My complements to your brethren of the delegation, and am, dear sir, Your friend and servant,
Williamsburg in Virginia, June 8, 1778.
—Your letter of Sep. 15. 1777 from Paris comes safe to hand. We have not however had the pleasure of seeing Mr. De Cenis, the bearer of it in this country, as he joined the army in Pennsylvania as soon as he arrived. I should have taken particular pleasure in serving him on your recommendation. From the kind anxiety expressed in your letter as well as from other sources of information we discover that our enemies have filled Europe with Thrasonic accounts of victories they had never won and conquests they were fated never to make. While these accounts alarmed our friends in Europe they afforded us diversion. We have long been out of all fear for the event of the war. I enclose you a list of the killed, wounded, and captives of the enemy from the commencement of hostilities at Lexington in April, 1775, until November, 1777, since which there has been no event of any consequence. This is the best history of the war which can be brought within the compass of a letter. I believe the account to be near the truth, tho’ it is difficult to get at the numbers lost by an enemy with absolute precision. Many of the articles have been communicated to us from England as taken from the official returns made by their General. I wish it were in my power to send you as just an account of our loss. But this cannot be done without an application to the war office which being in another county is at this time out of my reach. I think that upon the whole it has been about one half the number lost by them, in some instances more, but in others less. This difference is ascribed to our superiority in taking aim when we fire; every soldier in our army having been intimate with his gun from his infancy. If there could have been a doubt before as to the event of the war it is now totally removed by the interposition of France, & the generous alliance she has entered into with us. Tho’ much of my time is employed in the councils of America I have yet a little leisure to indulge my fondness for philosophical studies. I could wish to correspond with you on subjects of that kind. It might not be unacceptable to you to be informed for instance of the true power of our climate as discoverable from the thermometer, from the force & direction of the winds, the quantity of rain, the plants which grow without shelter in winter &c. On the other hand we should be much pleased with cotemporary observations on the same particulars in your country, which will give us a comparative view of the two climates. Farenheit’s thermometer is the only one in use with us, I make my daily observations as early as possible in the morning & again about 4 o’clock in the afternoon, these generally showing the maxima of cold & heat in the course of 24 hours. I wish I could gratify your Botanical taste; but I am acquainted with nothing more than the first principles of that science; yet myself & my friends may furnish you with any Botanical subjects which this country affords, and are not to be had with you; and I shall take pleasure in procuring them when pointed out by you. The greatest difficulty will be the means of conveyance during the continuance of the war.
If there is a gratification which I envy any people in this world, it is to your country its music. This is the favorite passion of my soul, & fortune has cast my lot in a country where it is in a state of deplorable barbarism. From the line of life in which we conjecture you to be, I have for some time lost the hope of seeing you here. Should the event prove so, I shall ask your assistance in procuring a substitute, who may be a proficient in singing, & on the Harpsichord. I should be contented to receive such an one two or three years hence, when it is hoped he may come more safely and find here a greater plenty of those useful things which commerce alone can furnish. The bounds of an American fortune will not admit the indulgence of a domestic band of musicians, yet I have thought that a passion for music might be reconciled with that economy which we are obliged to observe. I retain for instance among my domestic servants a gardener (Ortolans), a weaver (Tessitore di lino e lin), a cabinet maker (Stipeltaio) and a stone cutter (Scalpellino laborante in piano) to which I would add a vigneron. In a country where like yours music is cultivated and practised by every class of men I suppose there might be found persons of those trades who could perform on the French horn, clarinet or hautboy & bassoon, so that one might have a band of two French horns, two clarinets, & hautboys & a bassoon, without enlarging their domestic expenses. A certainty of employment for a half dozen years, and at the end of that time to find them if they choose a conveyance to their own country might induce them to come here on reasonable wages. Without meaning to give you trouble, perhaps it might be practicable for you in [your] ordinary intercourse with your people, to find out such men disposed to come to America. Sobriety and good nature would be desirable parts of their characters. If you think such a plan practicable, and will be so kind as to inform me what will be necessary to be done on my part I will take care that it shall be done. The necessary expenses, when informed of them, I can remit before they are wanting, to any port in France, with which country alone we have safe correspondence. I am Sir with much esteem your humble servant.
resolutions concerning peace with england1
[June ?, 1778.]
Resolved unanimously that a proposition from the Enemy to all or any of these United States for Peace or truce separate from their Allies is insidious and inadmissable.
Resolved unanimously that a proposition from the enemy for treating with any Assembly or Body of men in America other than the Congress of these United States is insidious and inadmissable.
Resolved unanimously that this Assembly will not listen to any Proposition nor suffer any Negotiation inconsistent with their National Faith and federal union.
Resolved unanimously that this assembly will exert the utmost Power of the State to carry on the War with vigour and effect until Peace shall be obtained in a manner consistent with our National Faith and Federal Union.
to rev. samuel henley1
Williamsburgh, June 9, 1778.
—Mr. Madison I believe informed you by letter written some time ago that one of your boxes of books left in his care burst open in removing it from the college to the president’s house for greater security. This accident discovered them to be in a state of ruin. They had contracted a dampness & stuck together in large blocks, insomuch that they could not sometimes be separated without tearing the cover. I happened to be in town & was of opinion with Mr. Madison that it was necessary to overhaul them and give them air. Indeed we both thought—I think it would be for your interest to have them sold, as books are now in considerable demand here, and, packed as they are in boxes, they must sustain injury. There are many of them which I would be glad to take myself at their stirling cost and would remit you the money by the way of France. That cost might be fixed either by note from yourself, informing me what they cost you, or by the estimate of anybody here in whom you trust. Upon a presumption that you could not but approve of the proposal to have them disposed of & the money remitted, for the reasons before given & others which you may apprehend but would be improper for me to explain, I have taken the liberty of laying apart many of them for myself, leaving with Mr. Madison a catalogue of them, and ready to return them to him if you shall direct it. I shall be glad of your answer as soon as possible, and will gladly serve you in the care of any interest you may have left here. The reasons are obvious which restrain this letter to matters of business. As soon as the obstacles to friendly correspondence are removed I shall be glad at all times to hear from you. I am Reverend Sir
Your friend & servant
to david rittenhouse1
Monticello in Albemarle, Virginia, July 19. 1778.
—I sincerely congratulate you on the recovery of Philadelphia, and wish it may be found uninjured by the enemy—how far the interests of literature may have suffered by the injury or removal of the Orrery (as it is miscalled) the publick libraries, your papers & implements, are doubts which still excite anxiety. We were much disappointed in Virginia generally on the day of the great eclipse, which proved to be cloudy. In Williamsburgh, where it was total, I understand only the beginning was seen. At this place which is in Lat. 38°-8′ and Longitude West from Williamsburgh about 1°-45′ as is conjectured, eleven digits only were supposed to be covered, as it was not seen at all till the moon had advanced nearly one third over the sun’s disc. Afterwards it was seen at intervals through the whole. The egress particularly was visible. It proved however of little use to me for want of a time piece that could be depended on; which circumstance, together with the subsequent restoration of Philadelphia to you, has induced me to trouble you with this letter to remind you of your kind promise of making me an accurate clock; which being intended for astronomical purposes only, I would have divested of all apparatus for striking or for any other purpose, which by increasing it’s complication might disturb it’s accuracy. A companion to it, for keeping seconds, and which might be moved easily, would greatly add to it’s value. The theodolite, for which I spoke to you also, I can now dispense with, having since purchased a most excellent one.
Writing to a philosopher, I may hope to be pardoned for intruding some thoughts of my own tho’ they relate to him personally. Your time for two years past has, I believe, been principally employed in the civil government of your country. Tho’ I have been aware of the authority our cause would acquire with the world from it’s being known that yourself & Doctr. Franklin were zealous friends to it and am myself duly impressed with a sense of the arduousness of government, and the obligation those are under who are able to conduct it, yet I am also satisfied there is an order of geniusses above that obligation, & therefore exempted from it, nobody can conceive that nature ever intended to throw away a Newton upon the occupations of a crown. It would have been a prodigality for which even the conduct of providence might have been arraigned, had he been by birth annexed to what was so far below him. Cooperating with nature in her ordinary economy we should dispose of and employ the geniusses of men according to their several orders and degrees. I doubt not there are in your country many persons equal to the task of conducting government: but you should consider that the world has but one Ryttenhouse, & that it never had one before. The amazing mechanical representation of the solar system which you conceived & executed, has never been surpassed by any but the work of which it is a copy. Are those powers then, which being intended for the erudition of the world are, like air and light, the world’s common property, to be taken from their proper pursuit to do the commonplace drudgery of governing a single state, a work which may be executed by men of an ordinary stature, such as are always & everywhere to be found? Without having ascended mount Sinai for inspiration, I can pronounce that the precept, in the decalogue of the vulgar, that they shall not make to themselves “the likeness of anything that is in the heavens above” is reversed for you, and that you will fulfill the highest purposes of your creation by employing yourself in the perpetual breach of that inhibition. For my own country in particular you must remember something like a promise that it should be adorned with one of them. The taking of your city by the enemy has hitherto prevented the proposition from being made & approved by our legislature. The zeal of a true whig in science must excuse the hazarding these free thoughts, which flow from a desire of promoting the diffusion of knowledge & of your fame, and from one who can assure you truly that he is with much sincerity & esteem Your most obedt. & most humble servt.
P. S. If you can spare as much time as to give me notice of the receipt of this, & what hope I may form of my clocks, it will oblige me. If sent to Fredericksburgh it will come safe to hand.
a bill for giving the members of the assembly an adequate allowance1
v. s. a.
[Dec. 12, 1778.]
Whereas it is just that members of General assembly, delegated by the people to transact for them the legislative business, should, while attending that business, have their reasonable sustenance defrayed, dedicating to the public service their time and labors freely & without account: and it is also expedient that the public councils should not be deprived of the aid of good & able men, who might be deterred from entering into them by the insufficiency of their private fortunes to be the extraordinary expences they must necessarily incur:
And it being inconsistent with the principles of civil liberty, & contrary to the natural rights of the other members of the society, that any body of men therein should have authority to enlarge their own powers, prerogatives, or emoluments without restraint the sd General assembly cannot at their own will increase the allowance which their members are to draw from the public treasury for their expences while in assembly; but to enable them so to do an application to the body of the people has become necessary:
And such application having been accordingly made to the freeholders of the several counties, & they having thereupon consented that the sd allowance shall be enlarged, and authorised & instructed their members to enlarge the same for themselves & the members of all future assemblies, to pounds of nett tobacco by the day for attendance on assembly, & to lbs of like tobacco for every mile they must necessarily travel going to or from the same, together with their ferriages, to be paid in money out of the public treasury at such rate as shall be estimated by the court of appeals at their session next before the meeting of every session of assembly, governing themselves in the said estimate by the worth of the sd tobacco, & the competence of the same to defray the necessary expences of travelling & attendance:
Be it therefore enacted by the General assembly by express authority & instruction from the body of the people that the allowance to the several members of the present & of all future assemblies shall be of pounds of tobacco by the day for attendance on the sd assemblies, lbs of the like tobacco for every mile they must necessarily travel going to or from the same, together with their ferriages; to be paid to them in money out of the public treasury at such rate as shall be estimated by the court of appeals at their session next before the meeting of each respective session of assembly, governing themselves in the said estimate by the worth of the sd tobacco & the competence of the same to defray the necessary expences of travelling & attendance.
to george wythe
Forest, March 1, 1779.
—Since I left you I have reflected on the bill regulating the practising of attornies, & of our omitting to continue the practitioners at the County & General Courts separate. I think the bar of the General Court a proper & an excellent nursery for future judges if it be so regulated as that science may be encouraged & may live there. But this can never be if an inundation of insects is permitted to come from the county courts & consume the harvest. These people traversing the counties seeing the clients frequently at their own courts, or, perhaps at their own houses must of necessity pick up all the business. The convenience of frequently seeing their counsel without going from home cannot be withstood by the country people. Men of science then (if there were to be any) would only be employed as auxiliary counsel in difficult cases. But can they live by that? Certainly not. The present members of that kind therefore must turn marauders in the county courts; & in future none will have leisure to acquire science. I should therefore be for excluding the county court attorneys, or rather for taking the general court lawyers from the incessant drudgery of the county courts & confining them to their studies that they may qualify themselves as well to support their clients as to become worthy successors to the bench. I hope to see the time when the election of Judges of the Supreme Courts shall be restrained to the bars of the General Court & High Court of Chancery, for when I speak of the former above, I mean to include the latter. I should even in our present bills have no objections to inserting such a restriction to take place seven or fourteen years hene. Adieu.
to the governor of virginia. (patrick henry)
Albemarle, March 27, 1779.
—A report prevailing here, that in consequence of some powers from Congress, the Governor and Council have it in contemplation to remove the Convention troops, either wholly or in part, from their present situation, I take the liberty of troubling you with some observations on that subject. The reputation and interest of our country, in general, may be affected by such a measure: it would, therefore, hardly be deemed an indecent liberty in the most private citizen, to offer his thoughts to the consideration of the Executive. The locality of my situation, particularly in the neighborhood of the present barracks, and the public relation in which I stand to the people among whom they are situated, together with a confidence which a personal knowledge of the members of the Executive gives me, that they will be glad of information from any quarter, on a subject interesting to the public, induce me to hope that they will acquit me of impropriety in the present representation.
By an article in the Convention of Saratoga, it is stipulated, on the part of the United States, that the officers shall not be separated from their men. I suppose the term officers, includes general as well as regimental officers. As there are general officers who command all the troops, no part of them can be separated from these officers without a violation of the article: they cannot, of course, be separated from one another, unless the same general officer could be in different places at the same time. It is true, the article adds the words, “as far as circumstances will admit.” This was a necessary qualification; because, in no place in America, I suppose, could there have been found quarters for both officers and men together; those for the officers to be according to their rank. So far, then, as the circumstances of the place where they should be quartered, should render a separation necessary, in order to procure quarters for the officers, according to their rank, the article admits that separation. And these are the circumstances which must have been under the contemplation of the parties; both of whom, and all the world beside (who are ultimate judges in the case), would still understand that they were to be as near in the environs of the camp, as convenient quarters could be procured; and not that the qualification of the article destroyed the article itself, and laid it wholly at our discretion. Congress, indeed, have admitted of this separation; but are they so far lords of right and wrong as that our consciences may be quiet with their dispensation? Or is the case amended by saying they leave it optional in the Governor and Council to separate the troops or not? At the same time that it exculpates not them, it is drawing the Governor and Council into a participation in the breach of faith. If indeed it is only proposed, that a separation of the troops shall be referred to the consent of their officers; that is a very different matter. Having carefully avoided conversation with them on public subjects, I cannot say, of my own knowledge, how they would relish such a proposition. I have heard from others, that they will choose to undergo anything together, rather than to be separated, and that they will remonstrate against it in the strongest terms. The Executive, therefore, if voluntary agents in this measure, must be drawn into a paper war with them, the more disagreeable, as it seems that faith and reason will be on the other side. As an American, I cannot help feeling a thorough mortification, that our Congress should have permitted an infraction of our public honor; as a citizen of Virginia, I cannot help hoping and confiding, that our Supreme Executive, whose acts will be considered as the acts of the Commonwealth, estimate that honor too highly to make its infraction their own act. I may be permitted to hope, then, that if any removal takes place, it will be a general one; and, as it is said to be left to the Governor and Council to determine on this, I am satisfied that, suppressing every other consideration, and weighing the matter dispassionately, they will determine upon this sole question, Is it for the benefit of those for whom they act, that the Convention troops should be removed from among them? Under the head of interest, these circumstances, viz., the expense of building barracks, said to have been £25,000, and of removing the troops backwards and forwards, amounting to, I know not how much, are not to be permitted, merely because they are Continental expenses; for we are a part of the Continent; we must pay a shilling of every dollar wasted. But the sums of money which, by these troops, or on their account, are brought into, and expended in this State, are a great and local advantage. This can require no proof. If, at the conclusion of the war, for instance, our share of the Continental debt should be twenty millions of dollars, or say that we are called on to furnish an annual quota of two millions four hundred thousand dollars, to Congress, to be raised by tax, it is obvious that we should raise these given sums with greater or less ease, in proportion to the greater or less quantity of money found in circulation among us. I expect that our circulating money is [increased?], by the presence of these troops, at the rate of $30,000 a week, at the least. I have heard, indeed, that an objection arises to their being kept within this State, from the information of the commissary that they cannot be subsisted here. In attending to the information of that officer, it should be borne in mind that the county of King William and its vicinities are one thing, the territory of Virginia another. If the troops could be fed upon long letters, I believe the gentleman at the head of that department in this country, would be the best commissary upon earth. But till I see him determined to act, not to write; to sacrifice his domestic ease to the duties of his appointment, and apply to the resources of this country, wheresoever they are to be had, I must entertain a different opinion of him. I am mistaken if, for the animal subsistence of the troops hitherto, we are not principally indebted to the genius and exertions of Hawkins, during the very short time he lived after his appointment to that department, by your board. His eye immediately pervaded the whole State, it was reduced at once to a regular machine, to a system, and the whole put into movement and animation by the fiat of a comprehensive mind. If the Commonwealth of Virginia cannot furnish these troops with bread, I would ask of the commissariat, which of the thirteen is now become the grain colony? If we are in danger of famine from the addition of four thousand mouths, what is become of that surplus of bread, the exportation of which used to feed the West Indies and Eastern States, and fill the colony with hard money? When I urge the sufficiency of this State, however, to subsist these troops, I beg to be understood, as having in contemplation the quantity of provisions necessary for their real use, and not as calculating what is to be lost by the wanton waste, mismanagement, and carelessness of those employed about it. If magazines of beef and pork are suffered to rot by slovenly butchering, or for want of timely provision and sale; if quantities of flour are exposed, by the commissaries entrusted with the keeping it, to pillage and destruction; and if, when laid up in the Continental stores, it is still to be embezzled and sold, the land of Egypt itself would be insufficient for their supply, and their removal would be necessary, not to a more plentiful country, but to more able and honest commissaries. Perhaps the magnitude of this question, and its relation to the whole State, may render it worth while to await the opinion of the National Council, which is now to meet within a few weeks. There is no danger of distress in the meantime, as the commissaries affirm they have a great sufficiency of provisions for some time to come. Should the measure of removing them into another State be adopted, and carried into execution, before the meeting of Assembly, no disapprobation of theirs will bring them back, because they will then be in the power of others, who will hardly give them up.
Want of information as to what may be the precise measure proposed by the Governor and Council, obliges me to shift my ground, and take up the subject in every possible form. Perhaps, they have not thought to remove the troops out of this State altogether, but to some other part of it. Here, the objections arising from the expenses of removal, and of building new barracks, recur. As to animal food, it may be driven to one part of the country as easily as to another: that circumstance, therefore, may be thrown out of the question. As to bread, I suppose they will require about forty or forty-five thousand bushels of grain a year. The place to which it is to be brought to them, is about the centre of the State. Besides, that the country round about is fertile, all the grain made in the counties adjacent to any kind of navigation, may be brought by water to within twelve miles of the spot. For these twelve miles, wagons must be employed; I suppose half a dozen will be a plenty. Perhaps, this part of the expense might have been saved, had the barracks been built on the water; but it is not sufficient to justify their being abandoned now they are built. Wagonage, indeed, seems to the commissariat an article not worth economizing. The most wanton and studied circuity of transportation has been practised: to mention only one act, they have bought quantities of flour for these troops in Cumberland, have ordered it to be wagoned down to Manchester, and wagoned thence up to the barracks. This fact happened to fall within my own knowledge. I doubt not there are many more such, in order either to produce their total removal, or to run up the expenses of the present situation, and satisfy Congress that the nearer they are brought to the commissary’s own bed, the cheaper they will be subsisted. The grain made in the western counties may be brought partly in wagons, as conveniently to this as to any other place; perhaps more so, on account of its vicinity to one of the best passes through the Blue Ridge; and partly by water, as it is near to James river, to the navigation of which, ten counties are adjacent above the falls. When I said that the grain might be brought hither from all the counties of the State adjacent to navigation, I did not mean to say it would be proper to bring it from all. On the contrary, I think the commissary should be instructed, after the next harvest, not to send one bushel of grain to the barracks from below the falls of the rivers, or from the northern counties. The counties on tide water are accessible to the calls for our own army. Their supplies ought, therefore, to be husbanded for them. The counties in the northwestern parts of the State are not only within reach for our own grand army, but peculiarly necessary for the support of Macintosh’s army; or for the support of any other northwestern expedition, which the uncertain conduct of the Indians should render necessary; insomuch, that if the supplies of that quarter should be misapplied to any other purpose, it would destroy, in embryo, every exertion, either for particular or general safety there. The counties above tide water, in the middle and southern and western parts of the country, are not accessible to calls for either of those purposes, but at such an expense of transportation as the article would not bear. Here, then, is a great field, whose supplies of bread cannot be carried to our army, or rather, which will raise no supplies of bread, because there is nobody to eat them. Was it not, then, wise in Congress to remove to that field four thousand idle mouths, who must otherwise have interfered with the pasture of our own troops? And, if they are removed to any other part of the country, will it not defeat this wise purpose? The mills on the waters of James river, above the falls, open to canoe navigation, are very many. Some of them are of great note, as manufacturers. The barracks are surrounded by mills. There are five or six round about Charlottesville. Any two or three of the whole might, in the course of the winter, manufacture flour sufficient for the year. To say the worst, then, of this situation, it is but twelve miles wrong. The safe custody of these troops is another circumstance worthy consideration. Equally removed from the access of an eastern or western enemy; central to the whole State, so that should they attempt an irruption in any direction, they must pass through a great extent of hostile country; in a neighborhood thickly inhabited by a robust and hardy people zealous in the American cause, acquainted with the use of arms, and the defiles and passes by which they must issue: it would seem, that in this point of view, no place could have been better chosen.
Their health is also of importance. I would not endeavor to show that their lives are valuable to us, because it would suppose a possibility, that humanity was kicked out of doors in America, and interest only attended to. The barracks occupy the top and brow of a very high hill, (you have been untruly told they were in a bottom.) They are free from bog, have four springs which seem to be plentiful, one within twenty yards of the piquet, two within fifty yards, and another within two hundred and fifty, and they propose to sink wells within the piquet. Of four thousand people, it should be expected, according to the ordinary calcalutions, that one should die every day. Yet, in the space of near three months, there have been but four deaths among them; two infants under three weeks old, and two others by apoplexy. The officers tell me, the troops were never before so healthy since they were embodied.
But is an enemy so execrable, that, though in captivity, his wishes and comforts are to be disregarded and even crossed? I think not. It is for the benefit of mankind to mitigate the horrors of war as much as possible. The practice, therefore, of modern nations, of treating captive enemies with politeness and generosity, is not only delightful in contemplation, but really interesting to all the world, friends, foes, and neutrals. Let us apply this: the officers, after considerable hardships, have all procured quarters, comfortable and satisfactory to them. In order to do this, they were obliged, in many instances, to hire houses for a year certain, and at such exorbitant rents, as were sufficient to tempt independent owners to go out of them, and shift as they could. These houses, in most cases, were much out of repair. They have repaired them at a considerable expense. One of the general officers has taken a place for two years, advanced the rent for the whole time, and been obliged, moreover, to erect additional buildings for the accommodation of part of his family, for which there was not room in the house rented. Independent of the brick work, for the carpentry of these additional buildings, I know he is to pay fifteen hundred dollars. The same gentleman, to my knowledge, has paid to one person three thousand six hundred and seventy dollars for different articles to fix himself commodiously. They have generally laid in their stocks of grain and other provisions, for it is well known that officers do not live on their rations. They have purchased cows, sheep, &c., set in to farming, prepared their gardens, and have a prospect of comfort and quiet before them. To turn to the soldiers: the environs of the barracks are delightful, the ground cleared, laid off in hundreds of gardens, each enclosed in its separate paling; these well prepared, and exhibiting a fine appearance. General Riedezel alone laid out upwards of two hundred pounds in garden seeds for the German troops only. Judge what an extent of ground these seeds would cover. There is little doubt that their own gardens will furnish them a great abundance of vegetables through the year. Their poultry, pigeons and other preparations of that kind, present to the mind, the idea of a company of farmers, rather than a camp of soldiers. In addition to the barracks built for them by the public, and now very comfortable, they have built great numbers for themselves, in such messes as fancied each other; and the whole corps, both officers and men, seem now happy and satisfied with their situation. Having thus found the art of rendering captivity itself comfortable, and carried it into execution, at their own great expense and labor, their spirits sustained by the prospect of gratifications rising before their eyes, does not every sentiment of humanity revolt against the proposition of stripping them of all this, and removing them into new situations, where, from the advanced season of the year, no preparations can be made for carrying themselves comfortably through the heats of summer; and when it is known that the necessary advances for the conveniences already provided, have exhausted their funds and left them unable to make the like exertions anew. Again, review this matter, as it may regard appearances. A body of troops, after staying a twelvemonth at Boston, are ordered to take a march of seven hundred miles to Virginia, where, it is said, they may be plentifully subsisted. As soon as they are there, they are ordered on some other march, because, in Virginia, it is said, they cannot be subsisted. Indifferent nations will charge this either to ignorance, or to whim and caprice; the parties interested, to cruelty. They now view the proposition in that light, and it is said, there is a general and firm persuasion among them, that they were marched from Boston with no other purpose than to harass and destroy them with eternal marches. Perseverance in object, though not by the most direct way, is often more laudable than perpetual changes, as often as the object shifts light. A character of steadiness in our councils, is worth more than the subsistence of four thousand people.
There could not have been a more unlucky concurrence of circumstances than when these troops first came. The barracks were unfinished for want of laborers, the spell of weather the worst ever known within the memory of man, no stores of bread laid in, the roads, by the weather and number of wagons, soon rendered impassable: not only the troops themselves were greatly disappointed, but the people in the neighborhood were alarmed at the consequences which a total failure of provisions might produce. In this worst state of things, their situation was seen by many and disseminated through the country, so as to occasion a general dissatisfaction, which even seized the minds of reasonable men, who, if not affected by the contagion, must have foreseen that the prospect must brighten, and that great advantages to the people must necessarily arise. It has, accordingly, so happened. The planters, being more generally sellers than buyers, have felt the benefit of their presence in the most vital part about them, their purses, and are now sensible of its source. I have too good an opinion of their love of order to believe that a removal of these troops would produce any irregular proofs of their disapprobation, but I am well assured it would be extremely odious to them.
To conclude. The separation of these troops would be a breach of public faith, therefore I suppose it is impossible; if they are removed to another State, it is the fault of the commissaries; if they are removed to any other part of the State, it is the fault of the commissaries; and in both cases, the public interest and public security suffer, the comfortable and plentiful subsistence of our own army is lessened, the health of the troops neglected, their wishes crossed, and their comforts torn from them, the character of whim and caprice, or, what is worse, of cruelty, fixed on us as a nation, and, to crown the whole, our own people disgusted with such a proceeding.
I have thus taken the liberty of representing to you the facts and the reasons, which seem to militate against the separation or removal of these troops. I am sensible, however, that the same subject may appear to different persons, in very different lights. What I have urged as reasons, may, to sounder minds, be apparent fallacies. I hope they will appear, at least, so plausible, as to excuse the interposition of
Your Excellency’s most obedient and most humble servant.
to richard henry lee1
Monticello, April 21, 1779.
—Among the convention prisoners in this neighborhood is a Baron de Geismar of the Germans, brigade major to Genl. Gall, whose situation I would wish to make you acquainted with. He is the only son of a German nobleman, and has I believe an only sister; his father, now 70 years of age, if living; and excessively anxious to see him before his death. His Patrimonial expectations in danger of being transferred to others in the weak state of his father, or perhaps plundered in the case of his death; the footing on which he stands with his prince such as might give him reason to hope for protection were he on the spot, but everything of that kind certain of passing by him as long as he is absent. Under the circumstances, captivity is peculiarly injurious to him, & he petitions Congress to exchange him if possible, or otherwise permit him to return home on any parole they will describe. I am satisfied he will carry with him no disposition to injure us; and his personal merit, with which I am become intimately acquainted, entitles him to every indulgence consistent with the indispensable rules of Congress. I take the liberty of recommending his request to your sollicitations, as from a knowledge of the man I am become interested in his happiness. Whatever you can do for him will be considered as a peculiar obligation on Dr. Sir, Your friend & serv’t.
to gabriel jones1
Monticello, April 29, 1779.
—By Mrs. Harvey I inclose to you the principle and interest of the money you were so kind as to lend me some years ago. It furnishes me also with an occasion of acknowledging, with this, the many other obligations under which you have laid me, of which I shall always be proud to shew a due sense, whenever opportunities shall offer. I am, dear sir, with much esteem, your friend and servant.
a bill concerning escheats and forfeitures from british subjects2
v. s. a.
[May 27, 1779.]
Whereas during the connection which subsisted between the now United States of America and the other parts of the British empire, & their subjection to one common prince the inhabitants of either part had all the rights of natural born subjects in the other, & so might lawfully take & hold real property, and transmit the same by descent to their heirs in fee simple, which could not be done by mere aliens; and the inhabitants on each part had accordingly acquired real property in the other: and in like manner had acquired personal property which by their common laws might be possessed by any other than an alien enemy & transmitted to executors & administrators: but when by the tyrannies of that prince, & the open hostilities committed by his armies & subjects inhabitants of the other parts of his dominions on the good people of the sd United States they are obliged to wage war in defense of their rights & finally to separate themselves from the rest of the British empire, to renounce all subjection to their common prince, and to become sovereign & independent states, the sd inhabitants of the other parts of the British empire become aliens & enemies to the sd states, & as such, incapable of holding the property real or personal so acquired therein & so much thereof as was within this commonwealth became by the laws vested in the commonwealth.
Nevertheless the General assembly, tho’ provoked by the example of their enemies to a departure from that generosity which so honourably distinguishes the civilized nations of the present age, yet desirous to conduct themselves with moderation & temper, by an act passed at their session in the year 1777 took measures for preventing what had been the property of British subjects within this commonwealth from waste & destruction, by putting the same into the hands & under the management of commissioners appointed for that purpose, that so it might be in their power, if reasonable at a future day, to restore to the former proprietors the full value thereof:
And whereas it is found that the sd property is liable to be lost, wasted & impaired without greater attention in the officers of government than is consistent with the discharge of their public duties and that from the advanced price at which the same would now sell, it may be most for the benefit of the former owners if the same should be restored to them hereafter, or to the public if not so restored, that the sale thereof should take place at this time, & the proceeds be lodged in the public treasury.
Be it therefore enacted by the General assembly that so much of the act before mentioned as may be supposed to have suspended the operation of the law of escheats & forfeitures shall be hereby repealed & that all the property, real & personal within this commonwealth belonging at this time to any British subject, or which did belong to any British subject at the time such escheat or forfeiture may have taken place, shall be deemed to be vested in the commonwealth, the sd real estate by way of escheat & the said personal estate by forfeiture.
The Governor with the advice of council so far as their information will enable them, & the commissioners of the tax within their several counties aided by their assessors shall forthwith institute proper proceedings of escheat & forfeiture for all such property real & personal in which they shall be advised and assisted by the several attornies for the commonwealth.
Where any office in the cases before mentioned shall be found for the commonwealth & returned to the General court, it shall remain there but one month for the claim of any pretending right to the estate, and if within that time no such claim be made, or being made if it be found & discussed for the commonwealth, the title of the owner to such estate real or personal shall be forever barred, but may be afterwards asserted as to the money proceeding from the sale thereof with equal force & advantage as might have been to the thing itself; and such further proceedings shall be had for making sale, of the lands so found, in parcels not greater than 400 acres (to be described by the commissioners hereafter mentioned and measured & marked by metes & bounds by a surveyor where they shall think necessary) and of the other property, as in the cases of escheat & forfeiture; save only that the Governor with advice of council, for every such sale shall appoint two commissioners to superintend & control the proceedings of the sd escheators, which commissioners shall be sworn to use their best endeavors to have the estate to which their trust extends sold to the best advantage. The sd sales shall be for ready money to be paid to the Escheator, who shall retain thereof five per centum for his trouble. His certificate of such paiment in the case of lands, and of the person purchasing, to the register of the land office, shall entitle the purchaser to a grant of the sd lands, if the sd Escheator shall fail to pay the sd money into the hands of the Treasurer within a reasonable time after any such sale (which reasonable time shall be accounted one day for every 20 miles such sale was distant from the public treasury and days of grace in addition thereto) he shall pay interest thereon from the time of the sd sale at the rate of 20 per centum per annum; & moreover it shall be lawful for the Auditors on the last day but one of any General court, or at any court to be held for the county wherein such property was sold, after the expiration of the time allowed for paiment to obtain judgment on motion against such Escheator his heirs executors & administrators for the principal sum and such interest, together with costs. And for the information of the Auditors, the commissioners of the sale shall immediately on such sale certify to whom & for how much such sale was made & transmit such certificate by some safe & early conveyance to the Auditors; which certificate shall be legal evidence against such Escheator. The Auditors shall allow the commissioners so appointed the expences of the surveys by them directed & made, & other their reasonable expenses; and such compensation for their trouble as to them shall seem proper. Where the commissioners shall be of opinion that it will be more to the interest of the owner or public that possession of such property real or personal should be retained for finishing & removing a crop or other purpose, it shall be lawful for them to stay the possession as it is now until the day of next, giving notice of such their intentions at the time of sale.
And for preventing doubt who shall be deemed British subjects within the meaning of this act, it is hereby declared & enacted that (1) all persons, subjects of his Britannic majesty, who on the day of April in the year 1775, when hostilities were commenced at Lexington between the United States of America & the other parts of the British empire, were resident or following their vocations in any part of the world other than the sd United states, and have not since either entered into public employment of the sd states, or joined the same and by overt act adhered to them; and (2.) all such subjects inhabitants of any of the sd United States, as were out of the sd states on the same day, & have since by overt act adhered to the enemies of the sd states; and (3) all inhabitants of the sd states who after the sd day and before the commencement of the act of the General assembly intituled ‘an act declaring what shall be treason’ departed from the sd states & joined the subjects of his Britannic majesty of their own free will, or who by any county court within this commonwealth were declared to be British subjects within the meaning & operation of the resolution of the General assembly of and the Governor’s proclamation founded thereon; shall be deemed British subjects within the intention of this act.
But this act shall not extend to debts due to British subjects & paiable into the loan office according to the act of General assembly for sequestering British property; nor take effect on the property of such British subjects as are infants, femes covertes, or insane mind, who within one year after their disability removed and hostilities suspended between his Britannic majesty and the United states shall become citizens of any of the sd states; nor on any lots of land within the town of Richmond as the limits of sd town now are, or shall be at the time of the inquest found, which by the directors of the public buildings shall be included within the squares appropriated for such buildings further than that an office shall be found as to such lots of land and the estimated value thereof be disposed of hereafter as the price would have been by this act had they been exposed to public sale; nor on any other such lots within the same town as shall by the sd directors be declared proper for the public use until buildings be erected on the squares before mentioned, & so long as they shall be applied to such public use.
speech to general assembly1
Wednesday, June 2, 1779.
—The honor which the General assembly have been pleased to confer on me, by calling me to the high office of Governor of this Commonwealth, demands my most grateful acknowledgments, which I desire, through you, gentlemen, to tender to them with the utmost respect. In a virtuous and free State no rewards can be so pleasing to sensible minds, as those which include the approbation of our fellow-citizens. My great pain is, lest my poor endeavors should fall short of the kind expectations of my country. So far as impartiality, assiduous attention, and sincere affection to the great American cause, shall enable me to fulfil the duties of my appointment, so far I may with confidence undertake; for all beyond, I must rely on the wise counsels of the General assembly, and of those whom they have appointed for my aid in those duties.
To you, gentlemen, I return my particular thanks for the polite terms in which you have been pleased to notify the will of the General assembly.
to john page1
—I received your letter2 by Mr. Jamieson. It had given me much pain, that the zeal of our respective friends should ever have placed you and me in the situation of competitors. I was comforted, however, with the reflection, that it was their competition, not ours, and that the difference of the numbers which decided between us, was too insignificant to give you a pain, or me a pleasure, had our dispositions towards each other been such as to admit those sensations. I know you too well to need an apology for anything you do, and hope you will forever be assured of this; and as to the constructions of the world, they would only have added one to the many sins for which they are to go to the devil. As this is the first, I hope it will be the last, instance of ceremony between us. A desire to see my family, which is in Charles City, carries me thither to-morrow, and I shall not return till Monday. Mrs. Jefferson I believe will not come shortly to town. When she does however she has too much value for Mrs. Page not to consider her acquaintance as a principal among those circumstances which are to reconcile her to her situation. A knowledge of her sentiments on this subject renders it safe in undertaking that she shall do her part in cultivating a friendly intercourse. Be pleased to present my compliments to Mrs. Page, and add this to the assurances I have ever given you, that I am, dear Page, your affectionate friend.
to william fleming1
Williamsburgh, June 8, 1779.
—I received your letter and have now to thank you for it. Some resolutions of Congress came to hand yesterday desiring an authentic state to be sent them of the cruelties said to have been committed by the enemy during their late invasion. The council had already taken measures to obtain such a state. Tho’ so near the scene where these barbarities are said to have been committed I am not able yet to decide within myself whether they were such or not. The testimony on both sides is such as if heard separately could not admit a moment’s suspension of our faith.
We have lately been extremely disturbed to find a pretty general opinion prevailing that peace and the independence of the thirteen states are now within our power, and that Congress have hesitations on the subject, and delay entering on the consideration. It has even been said that their conduct on this head has been so dissatisfactory to the French minister that he thinks of returning to his own country, ostensibly for better health, but in truth through disgust. Such an event would be deplored here as the most dreadful calamity. It is in contemplation of some gentlemen who conferred on the subject to propose the re-establishment of our committees of correspondence; others thought this too slow for the emergency and that plenipotentiary deputies should be sent to satisfy the mind of the French minister, and to set on foot proper measures for procuring the genuine sense of the several states. The whole however subsided on a supposition that the information might not be true, and that our delegates in Congress would think no obligations of secrecy under which they may have been laid sufficient to restrain them from informing their constituents of any proceedings which may involve the fate of their freedom and independence. It would surely be better to carry on a ten years’ war some time hence than to continue the present an unnecessary moment.
Our land office I think will be opened; the sale of British property take place, and our tax bill put on a better footing. These measures I hope will put our finances into a better way and enable us to cooperate with our sister states in reducing the enormous sums of money in circulation. Every other remedy is nonsensical quackery. The house of delegates have passed a bill for removing the seat of government to Richmond. It hesitates with the Senate. We have established a board of war and a board of trade. I hear from your quarter that Genl. Sullivan is marching with a large army against the Indians. If he succeeds it will be the first instance of a great army doing anything against Indians and his laurels will be greater. We have ever found that chosen corps of men fit for the service of the woods, going against them with rapidity, and by surprize, have been most successful. I believe that our Colo. Clarke if we could properly reinforce him, would be more likely to succeed against those within his reach than Genl. Macintosh’s regular method of proceeding. I shall hope to hear from you often. I put no name to this letter, because letters have miscarried, and if it goes safely you know the hand.
to theodorick bland, jr.1
Williamsburg, June 8th, 1779.
—Your letter to Governor Henry, of the 1st instant, came to hand yesterday, and I immediately laid it before the council. It gave them pain to hesitate on any request from General Phillips, whose polite conduct has disposed them to every indulgence consistent with the duties of their appointment. The indiscriminate murder of men, women and children, with the horrid circumstances of barbarity practised by the Indian savages, was the particular task of Governor Hamilton’s employment; and if anything could have aggravated the acceptance of such an office, and have made him personally answerable in a high degree, it was that eager spirit with which he is said to have executed it, and which, if the representations before the council are to be credited, seems to have shown that his own feelings and disposition were in unison with his employment. The truth of these representations will be the subject of their inquiry shortly, and the treatment of Governor Hamilton will be mild or otherwise, as his conduct shall appear to merit, upon a more intimate examination. We trust it must furnish a contemplation highly pleasing to the generous soldier, to see honorable bravery respected, even by those against whom it happens to be enlisted, and discriminated from the cruel and cowardly warfare of the savage, whose object in war is to extinguish human nature.
By a letter dated May 27th, you were desired to discharge the militia under your command as soon as you judged it proper; lest that letter should have miscarried, I now enclose you a copy. Colonel Finnie informs me he has written to you to apply for clothes at Winchester, for the use of your regiment of guards, and of the horse now with you. He yesterday showed me a letter from the continental board of war, giving the same directions; he says also that he had lately written to you on the subject of the articles desired for your particular use, and that he is not enabled to procure them more fully.
As to putting the horse now with you on the same pay-roll with the regiment of guards, the council are of opinion that either your own powers are competent to it, or at least that it may be done in concert with the continental paymaster. The regiment of guards is recognized as continental; the duty they are jointly engaged in is continental; they therefore wish that this matter should go into the continental line altogether, rather than be controlled by their interference, where it is not absolutely necessary. I am your most obedient servant, &c.
to richard henry lee1
Williamsburg, June 17, 1779.
—I received your letter, and kind congratulations, for which I return you my thanks. In a virtuous government, and more especially in times like these, public offices are, what they should be, burthens to those appointed to them, which it would be wrong to decline, though foreseen to bring with them intense labour, and great private loss. I am, also, still to thank you for a former favour, enclosing a song and receipt. We have little new here. Colonel Clarke’s expedition against St Vincents you know of; his prisoners are arrived at Chesterfield, and three of them brought to this place to be severely dealt with; the enclosed paper will explain that matter. We have 300 men, under Colonel Bowman, in the Shawnee county, of whom we hope to receive good accounts: the destruction of the villages of the Cherokees, at Chuchamogga, and taking their goods, &c., has brought them to sue for peace; but the happiest stroke was the burning twenty-thousand bushels of corn, collected there for the use of the expeditions, which were to have been adopted at the great council. Governor Hamilton had called at the mouth of the Tanissee, as mentioned in the within paper. It is a cruel thought, that, when we feel ourselves standing on the firmest ground, in every respect, the cursed art of our secret enemies, combining with other causes, should effect, by depreciating our money, what the open arms of a powerful enemy could not. What is to be done? Taxation is become of no account, for it is foreseen, that, notwithstanding its increased amount, there will still be a greater deficiency than ever. I own I see no assured hope, but in peace, or a plentiful loan of hard money.
I shall be obliged by your letters, when convenient to you to write. I never was a punctual correspondent to any person, as I must own to my shame; perhaps my present office will put it more out of my power; however as it may sometimes furnish me with matter which may induce me to hope my letters may be worth sending, I may venture to say, you shall hear from me whenever I can get over the twofold difficulty of many letters of absolute necessity, to write, and an innate aversion to that kind of business.
to theodorick bland, jr.1
Williamsburgh, June 18th, 1779.
—Yours of the 14th instant came to hand this day. * * * With respect to Col. Finnie, as a continental officer, [we decline med]dling with his conduct; being yourself in the continental service, [we] take it for granted, that if he fails in his duty you will [put] him under a proper train of enquiry? His assurances to us are fair; one thing only I am to inform you, that however true it may be that he is without money, it is no just excuse for failing to do anything for the public service, because that was never permitted by the executive here, to be on sufferance for want of money. He never applied in vain, and we still are, as we ever have been, ready to lend him (as a continental officer) any monies, which the due discharge of his office may call [for] * * * and politeness at the [least] hardly permits them to suppose the duties of the [post can be as] well discharged by any other, as by yourself. But your health for that very reason is the more to be taken care of. You will please to permit Capt. Bertling and Lieutenant Campbell to pass by land to the lower ferry of the Chickahominy, [where the Flag] lies, and finally settle the business, on which he came, according [to the rules] usual in their service. I enclose you the reasons, which have induced the council to [act] with such rigor with Governor Hamilton and the others there. It is impossible for any generous man to disapprove his sentence. I am, sir, with much [respect,] your most obedient and most humble servant, &c.
REPORT OF THE REVISORS
REPORT OF THE REVISORS