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To the People of Henrico County, Virginia



Friends and Fellow-Sufferers:

The threatened force of ministerial vengeance having been at length exerted, the bloody standard erected, and the sword reeking hot with the blood of your brethren in the Massachusetts, threatening you with the same fate, unless you prepare to repel its efforts; there cannot want any inducement for your making the most vigorous exertions for that purpose. And I am sure there needs no argument to picture to you the horrours in which you may be involved, if, by a fatal indifference, you should neglect to provide against the machinations, of your enemies, whether external or internal. The justice of the great and common case of America has been so fully and ably stated, so universally allowed, and so feebly denied, that I cannot suppose any of you ignorant thereof; and in that belief shall not now lake up any time in observing upon that head any other than the natural rights of all mankind, in the free enjoyment of persona! security, personal liberty, and private property, together with the free disposal of the last mentioned light, which are totally subverted by the assuming power of the British Parliament, are motives sufficient to justify opposition. I have for some time past observed the conduct of a few among you; and though their conduct has not yet had the evil tendency of influencing that of others, yet as the notoriety thereof may probably have a bad effect unless guarded against in time, this has been one inducement for my addressing you upon that head, strengthened by considering the bad policy of reposing publick confidence in such men. And it is to your indifference upon that head that I would guard you against, being sensible you have hitherto left nothing undone whereby to preserve in common your rights and liberties; and it is to such men, and


such only, whose consciences accuse them of not having taken an active part in endeavouring to preserve and defend the liberties of their Country, that I would retort the whole force of my former arguments, happy that they would work the desired effect. The good people of Virginia have ever been zealously attached to the present royal family; and you, gentlemen, have always borne an active part, in conjunction with the rest of the Counties in this Colony, in avowing and expressing your attachment and allegiance upon every occasion. And notwithstanding the artful suggestions of all internal enemies, sensible I am that the good people of this Colony wish not any diminution of the constitutional authority of the Crown, or to break off that connexion with the Mother Country so essential to the interests of both. Why, then, will persons pretending the most zealous attachment and firmest adherence to the just cause of America, and putting on professions foreign from their hearts, stand forth and endeavour to gain the confidence of a too much deluded people? To what purpose, other than that of exerting their weak efforts to destroy that unanimity at present so conspicuous throughout this Colony and America, can such persons put on such appearances? Ask such persons to enter themselves, as volunteers in the great cause of American freedom, and they will tell you they have taken the oath of allegiance, and cannot; or rather, I suppose, have taken an implicit oath of passive obedience, and will not. Now let such persons bear in mind the doctrine avowed by that very authority which is now endeavouring to enslave us — I mean the Parliament of Great Britain; "That an endeavour to subvert the Constitution of the Kingdom, by breaking the original contract between King and People, and violating the fundamental laws, was sufficient for the People to preserve them in despite of any authority whatever." Still more apparent, from a supposition that the Constitution is founded upon liberty, and if they do not depart from their former principles, we may yet have the satisfaction, of distinguishing between our friends and enemies.

Thus, my countrymen, have I, by a sketch of the political sentiments of this few, endeavoured to set them before you in the clearest point of view; and I could heartily wish that some able pen had taken up the subject before me, for which I have wailed with great expectation for some time past. But as it is of great concern that such persons should receive, every mark of discountenance and disesteem, they will, I hope, be carefully observed in future, and not be suffered to enlarge upon that confidence already entrusted, in them, or to deviate from your own avowed principles, laid down for them to act by — I mean your professed determination of living and dying freemen.

Being influenced to this address by nothing but an ardent zeal for the prosperity of the common cause, grammatical errours will be unnoticed by you, and nothing regarded but the intention of him who wishes at all times to prove himself.