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Instructions to the Delegates of Anne Arundel County




GENTLEMEN: We the subscribers, freemen of Anne Arundel County, taking into our most serious consideration the important business you are to meet upon, the 12th of this instant, think it our indispensable duty to give you the following Instructions:

It is with the utmost concern and displeasure we find that the last Convention excluded all such of our countrymen who did not possess fifty acres of land, or a visible estate of £40 sterling, in the election of Representatives; thereby unjustly depriving near half of the free inhabitants of this State of the inestimable right of free suffrage, nevertheless subjecting them to all the pains and burdens of Government. This glaring injustice, hateful distinction, and apparent impolicy, we are determined to use our utmost efforts to get redressed; and that our free, honest, well-affected brethren, as they proportionably bear with us every burden and brave every danger, shall equally share every privilege. We therefore direct and instruct you to move for, and use your utmost endeavours to establish, in the new Government: That all freemen, natives of this State, above twenty-one years of age, and well-affected to the present glorious cause in which we are engaged, shall have the right of a free vote in the election of all officers who are to be chosen by the people, provided such persons shall have resided one year next preceding the election in the County, District, City, or Town, where he shall offer to vote; also, that every foreigner above twenty-one years of age, well-affected to the present glorious cause, having a visible estate of £30 currency, or a freehold of fifty acres of land, and who has resided as a freeman two years next preceding the election in the County, District, City, or Town, where he shall offer to vote, shall have the free suffrage in the election of all officers who are to be chosen by the people; also, that all elections be free, and made viva voce, in the manner heretofore used in this State; also, that Annapolis be represented, but that the inhabitants thereof be not allowed to vote for the Representatives for this County; that there be chosen by the people an Upper and Lower House annually — these two Houses to be distinct and independent of each other, and to form the Legislative power; and also that the persons appointed to hold the Executive power, have no share or negative in the Legislature; also, that no person shall be eligible to sit in either House, or Legislature, or Congress, who holds any office of profit, or any pension, or any part of the profit thereof, either directly or indirectly, or who holds any office in the regular military service, or marine service, either Continental or Provincial; that the trial by Jury be held and kept sacred, and the habeas corpus preserved; also, that Justices of the Peace, Sheriffs, Clerks of Counties, and Surveyors, be chosen by the people, annually, of each County; that a well-regulated Militia be established in this State, as being the best security for the preservation of the lives, liberties, and properties of the people; that every Militia company choose its own officers, and battalions their Field-Officers; that Adjutants, drummers, and fifers, with drums, fifes, colours, and cartouch-boxes, be provided at the publick expense for the different battalions of Militia, and guns for such unarmed men who are not able to purchase the same, and that the Colonels of each battalion be empowered to contract for the above, procure the same, and draw on the Treasurer for the amount; that all moneys to be raised on the people be by a fair and equal assessment, in proportion to every person' s estate, and that the unjust mode of taxation by the poll, heretofore used, be abolished, and that Assessors be chosen by the people of each district in each County, annually; also, that the votes and proceedings of the Assembly be published, except such parts as relate to military operations and measures taken to procure arms and ammunition, and that they sit open, except when particular business requires their being private; also that the votes and proceedings of Congress be published, except as aforesaid.

(Signed by eight hundred and eighty-five Freemen.)