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Address to the Governour in Answer to his Speech


Mr˙ Treasurer reported from the Committee appointed to draw up an Address to be presented to the Governour, that the Committee had drawn up an Address accordingly, which they had directed him to report to the House; 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:

MY LORD: We, His Majesty' s most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Burgesses of Virginia, now met in General Assembly, take this opportunity, which your Excellency hath given us, to express our great concern at the alarming situation of our Country and those evils brought upon us by a departure of His Majesty' s Ministers from that wise system of administration under the influence of which the Colonies of North America had so long and happily nourished.

However strangely this Country may have been misrepresented, we do solemnly avow the firmest and most unshaken attachment to our most gracious Sovereign and his Government, as founded on the laws and principles of our excellent Constitution, and we shall think ourselves happy in giving His Majesty every future testimony of our loyalty and affection.

We assure your Lordship that we will pursue the most speedy measures for defraying the expenses of the late military expedition against the Indians. That proper provision has not yet been made for those gallant officers and soldiers who so nobly exposed their lives in defence of this Country, cannot be justly imputed to any delay or neglect on our part, this being the first opportunity your Lordship hath been pleased to afford us of paying a proper attention to their signal services and giving them their due reward.

The occlusion of our Courts of justice can only be ascribed to a combination of untoward and distressing incidents, which we have long and deeply lamented. These Courts, my Lord, were established by different Acts of OUR General Assembly. In order to enable the officers of justice to receive such fees as were adequate to their services, our ancestors judged it necessary to settle and limit them by an express act of their Legislature. This law had existed and been continued with various amendments, such as the fluctuation of affairs made necessary, through a long tract of time. The late House of Burgesses, in May, 1774, finding that the Fee-Bill had expired just before they were convened, and that other most valuable acts were near expiring, proceeded to the continuance and revival of them; but their endeavours to discharge these and other important duties to their Country were arrested and cut short by a sudden and unexpected dissolution of the Assembly. Since this, my Lord, our situation has undergone a total change. For just and well known reasons, this Country, as well as our sister Colonies, have been driven to the necessity of suspending their commerce with Great Britain, Ireland, and the West-India Islands. There still, however, remained within the line of former parliamentary regulations, several other valuable branches of export to different parts of the world, which we well hoped would have enabled the inhabitants of this Country to discharge their debts more expeditiously than they could have done by continuing their usual exports and exceeding imports to and from Great Britain, so that we are convinced their creditors could have had no reasonable cause of complaint. But we have now, my Lord, received information, too well grounded it is to be feared, that these resources are to be entirely shut up by an act of the British Parliament, cutting off all our trade with all other parts of the whole universe, except the Islands of Great Britain, Ireland, and the West-Indies.


Money, my Lord, is not a plant of the native growth of this Country. If the people are totally restrained by the hand of power from sending such produce of their estates as they choose, and it is most for their general interest to make, to foreign markets, in which alone it will command a tolerable price, they are precluded from the necessary proper means of discharging their debts. In such a situation we presume it may be submitted to your Lordship' s Judgment, how far it would be consistent with prudence and justice, or even humanity, for us to interpose legislative authority, in order to compel the Magistrates to open the courts of civil jurisdiction, and thereby expose the people to cruel exactions; we rather think it will be better to await the time when the returning wisdom and justice of Great Britain may put it in our power to restore all things to that channel in which they formerly flowed to her aggrandizement, the prosperity and happiness of the whole Empire.

We will, my Lord, proceed forthwith to consider farther the state of the Country, the Address of the Lords and Commons, and His Majesty' s answer, together with the Resolution of the House of Commons, which you have laid before us; this we will endeavour to do with that calmness and impartiality which their great importance may require; and we sincerely hope, as your Lordship conceives, that we may find the propositions now made to us a benevolent, tender, and auspicious advance on the part of the Parent State towards bringing to a fortunate, and the most desirable. Issue, all those disputes and dissensions which have so unhappily prevailed.

The said Address being read a second time,

Resolved nemine contradicente, That the House doth agree with the Committee in the said Address to be presented to the Governour.

Resolved, That the said Address be presented to his Excellency by the whole House.

Ordered, That the Gentlemen who drew up the said Address do wait upon the Governour, to know his pleasure when this House shall attend his Excellency to present their Address.

Resolved, That the Governour' s Speech be taken into consideration to-morrow.

Resolved, That this House will, to-morrow, resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House to take into consideration the Governour' s Speech.