Primary tabs

Committee for Norfolk County, Virginia



At a meeting of the Committee of the County of Norfolk, at the Court-House of said County, on Thursday, the 4th of May, 1775:

The Resolves of the Convention held at the Town of Richmond, on the 20th of March last, were read, and unanimously approved.

Resolved, That the thanks of this Committee be presented to Thomas Newton, Junior, and James Holt, Esquires, our worthy Delegates, for their faithful discharge of the important trust reposed in them.

Having heretofore placed the highest degree of confidence in the good intentions of our Chief Magistrate towards


his Majesty' s most loyal and faithful subjects, the good people of this Dominion, over whom he presides, which we can safely affirm had gained him their universal esteem and respect, with equal surprise and sorrow we have seen in our publick Gazettes an extract of a Letter said to be wrote by our said Chief Magistrate, on the 24th of December last, to the Earl of Dartmouth, one of His Majesty' s principal Secretaries of State, and most grossly misrepresenting all the good people of this Colony, particularly the Magistrates, and those whom the people have elected as Committees to be the guardians of their inestimable rights and liberties. And as his Excellency has not thought proper to disavow being the author of such Letter, we must take it for granted that the extract published is a faithful copy. We therefore think it our indispensable duty, in justice to our own reputations, and that of our constituents, who have honoured us with such marks of their confidence and esteem, to refute so unjust and unmerited, so defamatory and atrocious a charge.

First, then, we declare that we know of no instance wherein any Committee in this or the neighbouring Counties has assumed an authority to inspect the books, or any other secrets of the trade of Merchants. We admit to have known some instances where some Merchants, being suspected of a breach of the Association, have voluntarily offered some private letters and books to be inspected, in order to acquit themselves of such charge.

He next says we stigmatize those we discover to have transgressed what we hardly call the Laws of the Congress; which stigmatizing, to use the words in the said extract, "is no other than inviting the vengeance of an outrageous and lawless mob to be exercised on the unhappy victims." Several in this Borough and County have been held up for publick censure for breaches of the Association, but no vengeance of any mob or individual has been inflicted on them, not even that fashionable one lately introduced by the Troops under the command of General Gage; and we could call upon sundry persons here who were thus stigmatized, to justify this assertion.

We wish his Excellency had deigned to name the County where the Committee had proceeded so far as to swear the men of their Independent Company to execute all orders which they should give them, as it is a piece of information entirely new to us; as well as that of every other County forming an Independent Company, for the avowed purpose, (as he says) of protecting their Committees, and to be employed against Government, if occasion require. We hope all the dark plots of our most secret or declared enemies will prove ineffectual in bringing matters to that unhappy issue; and we have so high an opinion of the virtue of our countrymen, that we look upon the solemnity of an oath altogether unnecessary to stimulate them to stand forth firm and intrepid upon all just occasions, in support of their civil and religious rights and liberties.

Whilst we were thus fondly flattering ourselves that we had in his Excellency a most powerful advocate in order to accommodate the unhappy disputes subsisting between Great Britain and the Colonies, we leave the world to judge what poignant sorrow we must feel on the discovery that it was a vain delusion; and that, instead of the good offices we expected, he was all the time widening the breach, by misrepresenting so greatly our conduct to those in power; and we now discover, from his Excellency' s said Letter, that his gentle and lenient conduct, which we were too ready to attribute to the regard he possessed, and which we flattered ourselves he had for his Government, proceeded only from his fears of the disgrace of a disappointment; and we find, as soon as it was known that that Letter would be made publick, the mask was thrown off; and the first step taken to open the eyes of the people, was the seizing of the Gunpowder in the publick Magazine, in the most secret manner. How far such a manoeuvre is justifiable, is not our intention at present to inquire into, that being a point on which the publick will undoubtedly undertake to judge for themselves; but we cannot help giving it as our opinion, that his Excellency' s answer to the Address of the respectable Corporation of the City of Williamsburgh, on that occasion, is highly disrespectful and evasive. And now, my countrymen, let us, by our steady perseverance in virtue and unanimity, convince his Excellency, when he says that every step we take must inevitably defeat its own


purpose, that he (to use the phrase of our late truly worthy and noble Governour) has not augured right.

We thought ourselves under the indispensable necessity of making the foregoing strictures on the above-mentioned Letter, lest our silence might be construed by our countrymen, or others, into a tacit confession of our guilt; and now we submit to the publick how far his Excellency merits the continuance of that unlimited confidence heretofore placed in him. The tribute of our respect we are still willing to pay him as our Chief Magistrate, and the representative of our most gracious Sovereign, to whom we shall always pay all due obedience.

Ordered, That the Clerk send a copy of these proceedings to Messrs˙ Dixon and Hunter, and Mr˙ John Hunter Holt, to be published; and they are desired to publish them in their next Gazettes.