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Declaration presented to the Convention


The following Declaration was presented to the Convention, maturely considered, and unanimously agreed to.

"A Declaration of the Delegates deputed by the several Counties and Corporations in the Colony and Dominion of VIRGINIA to represent them in General Convention, setting forth the cause of their meeting, and the necessity of immediately putting the Country into a posture of defence, for the better protection of their lives, liberties, and properties.

"The advantages resulting from the wisest institutions, and the price of all sublunary enjoyments, are best to be estimated from their loss or diminution. By this accurate scale we are taught to weigh the many blessings derived to this once happy Country from our excellent Constitution. So long as this was maintained on its original principles, and remained inviolate, all was well with us; every thing flowed in a proper, peaceful channel, all were quiet and at ease. But, how great the change! how dreadful the reverse!

"The times were, and these not very distant, when the representatives of the people, with much pleasure, met their Governours in General Assembly. In these assemblies the greatest harmony prevailed, till a fatal change of ministerial systems took place. A causeless, hasty dissolution drove the representative body to the unhappy dilemma of either sacrificing the most essential interests of their constituents, or of meeting in General Convention to assert and preserve them. The unlucky incidents here alluded to are of publick notoriety, and need not a particular enumeration.

"Repeated prorogations of our Assembly, when the Country was in the greatest distress, rendered a Convention, in the month of March last, absolutely necessary. The Delegates of the people then met in full Convention, the most numerous assembly that had ever been known in this Colony, taking a view of our unhappy situation; considering the Country exposed to the most imminent dangers, as well from invasions as insurrections, knowing its then defenceless state, and seeing no prospect that opportunity would be given them in General Assembly to provide and guard against such extensive evils, judged it their indispensible duty to put the Country into a posture of defence. They recommended a due attention to the militia law; but, considering this inadequate to the purpose, they further advised the raising one or more volunteer companies in each County. In all their transactions, however, a proper regard and respect was paid to Government.

"In a short time afterwards a most extraordinary manoeuvre was exerted by the Governour, to render this Country still more defenceless, by removing our small stock of gunpowder from the publick magazine, and stripping of their locks a great number of publick arms. It is very remarkable that this was done at a time when he acknowledged to have received information that an insurrection was apprehended in a neighbouring County. This, together with his Lordship' s threats of emancipating our slaves, and reducing to ashes the principal city in this Colony, added to the many alarming accounts received from the Northern Colonies, could not but excite jealousies, and awaken the fears of the people.

"The Country, by these means, being thrown into aferment, and there being little ground of hope that the Assembly would be called, it was thought advisable that a General Convention should be speedily held, to take under their consideration the state of the Colony. The Governour, however, on receipt of despatches from England, was pleased to issue his Proclamation for convening the General Assembly. The design of calling a Convention was then laid aside, in Hopes that matters might, in another place, be settled and adjusted in the usual mode. The proceedings of the House of Burgesses, the Governour' s conduct towards them, his withdrawing from the seat of his


Government and taking up his residence on board one of His Majesty' s ships of war; the many obstructions given by his Lordship to the business of the Assembly, and his determined resolution to render abortive those very measures he had recommended, are faithfully and impartially submitted to the publick in a pamphlet, published by order of the House of Burgesses.

"The two other branches of our Legislature, His Majesty' s Council and the Burgesses, finding that his Lordship had resisted their joint and most earnest entreaties, and that he was resolved not to return to the duties of his station, adjourned themselves to the month of October next.

"The Governour still continuing on board the man-of-war, if his former conduct, his repeated and horrible threats, his at least connivance at the detention of some of our slaves on board the same ship, and a too well grounded report of his having solicited Troops to be sent among us, some of which are now arrived, could have left a doubt of his hostile intentions towards this Country; the hurrying his most amiable lady and his children across the Atlantick, under a frivolous and groundless pretence of their being in danger amongst a people by whom they are universally esteemed and respected, holds out to us an irrefragable proof of his fixed determination to do this unhappy Country every injury in his power.

"Under these embarrassments, seeing an unusual resort of ships of war and other armed vessels in our harbours, knowing the threats of one of their commanders; in short, when exposed to such accumulated dangers, what could be expected of this Country? That we should sit supinely down, and suffer the views and machinations of an arbitrary relentless Ministry to be carried into execution without opposition or control? The justice due to this community, every motive to publick virtue, conspire in forbidding it. We, therefore, deputed for this important purpose, have met in General Convention, and taken into our most serious consideration the state of the Colony. Since our assembling, we have received authentick intelligence of the remorseless fury with which General Gage and his coadjutors are endeavouring to spread fire, famine, and the most horrid desolation, throughout a sister Colony; of their insidious and cruel attempts to stir up the barbarous savages against the inhabitants on the frontiers of the different Colonies. We have seen a declaration of the Continental Congress, which proves the necessity of an immediate preparation for our security, by putting this whole Country into a full state of defence, both against invasions and insurrections. In the present untoward and distressful situation of our affairs, and the better to preserve the peace and good order of the community, we are further driven to the very disagreeable necessity of supplying the present want of Government, by appointing proper guardians of the rights and liberties of our Country. But, lest our views and designs should be misrepresented or misunderstood, we again, and for all, publickly and solemnly declare, before God and the world, that we do bear faith and true allegiance to His Majesty George the Third, our only lawful and rightful King; that we will, so long as it may be in our power, defend him and his Government, as founded on the laws and well known principles of the Constitution; that we will, to the utmost of our power, preserve peace and good order throughout the Country, and endeavour, by every honourable means, to promote a restoration of that friendship and amity, which so long and happily subsisted between our fellows-subjects in Great Britain and the inhabitants of America; that as on the one hand we are determined to defend our lives and properties, and maintain our just rights and privileges at every, even the extremest hazard, so, on the other, it is our fixed and unalterable resolution to disband such forces as may be raised in this Colony, whenever our dangers are removed, and America is restored to that former state of tranquillity and happiness, the interruption of which is so much deplored by us and every friend to either Country.

"It remains a bounden duty on us to commit our cause to the justice of that Supreme Being, who ruleth and ordereth all human events with unerring wisdom, most humbly beseeching him to lake this Colony, and the whole Continent, under his fatherly and divine protection, and that he will be graciously pleased to soften the hearts of all those who meditate evil against our land, and inspire them with


the purest sentiments of justice, moderation, and brotherly affection.

"RO˙ C˙ NICHOLAS, President pro tempore.
"JOHN TAZEWELL, Clerk of the Convention."