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Meeting of the Inhabitants of the County of Dinwiddie, in Virginia



At a General Meeting of the Inhabitants of the County of Dinwiddie, at the Court House, on Friday, the 15th of July, in consequence of previous notice from their late Representatives, and an intimation of their desire to be advised and instructed relative to the differences now unhappily subsisting between Great Britain and her Colonies, after mature deliberation on this most interesting subject, they unanimously came to the following declaration of their sentiments, which are intended to manifest to the world the principles by which they are actuated in a dispute so important, as that they conceive on its decision, depends the political existence of all America:

We, the inhabitants of the County of Dinwiddie, do entertain the most cordial and unfeigned affection and loyalty for his Majesty' s person and Government, which, together with his right to the Crown of Great Britain and its dependencies, we will at all times defend and support, at the risk of our lives and fortunes; and under so true a conviction of the firmest allegiance, we think ourselves entitled, as a constitutional right, to protection from the Sovereign to whom we have been ever attached by the strongest ties of duty and inclination. But however happy we may consider ourselves under the auspices of the Supreme Magistrate, we cannot help being apprehensive of the ill effects which may flow from some recent and dangerous innovations, imagined and contrived in the House of Commons, against those rights to which the Americans have a just and constitutional claim in common with his Majesty' s subjects of Great Britain. Amongst these instances of oppression, we cannot omit the Parliament' s retention of a duty on tea, accompanied by an Act declaratory of their right in the fullest manner to tax America, thereby asserting in other terms, their claim to whatever property the Americans may by their labour acquire, which, if submitted to, would reduce us to a degree of servility unexampled but in a state of despotism; and yet, inconsistent as this plan of substituting power for right may appear with the noble and liberal spirit of the British Government, it has been adopted for some time by Administration, and pursued with a perseverance that becomes truly alarming. A late and striking proof of which we have to lament in the unprecedented Acts of Parliament for cutting off the people of Boston from every privilege valued by freemen, and subjecting them to hardships unknown but in arbitrary Governments. In pursuance of which Acts their town and harbour are blocked up; all commerce interdicted; and articles merely essential to life imported, and as a matter of favour, and an inducement to


submission, a part of their property may be held at the King' s pleasure, on the humiliating condition of their living in obedience to such laws. To aggravate these evils, should atrocious murder be committed in enforcing the execution of any of these Acts, the civil power is forbid to punish, but the criminal is to be sent to Great Britain for trial, or to any Colony at the will of the Governour; if to the former, the distance will operate to his acquittal for want of testimony; if the latter method is adopted, it is equally a subversion of the legal form of trial. This proves in what estimation our lives are held with a British Parliament, as the first law shows in what light they consider our property.

Upon these distressful circumstances, we sincerely sympathize with our fellow-subjects of Boston, and will concur with them and the rest of the Colonies in any measures that may be conducive to a repeal of laws so destructive to our common rights and liberty.

And though we do not pretend to justify the outrage committed by the people of Boston in destroying the private property of the East India Company, to which they might have been impelled by an apparent intention in the Parliament of fixing on them a precedent of arbitrary taxation; yet we cannot see the good policy or right reason that could dictate the depriving a whole people of their rights for a trespass committed by a few, when the civil laws of the community were amply provident of redress for the injury.

The result of our opinion upon these violent measures is, that we do protest against every Law or Act of the British Legislature that shall authorize the imposition of taxes on the Americans without their consent, which cannot be had in Parliament as they have no representation, nor ought not to have in that body from local circumstances, and other considerations; and because it is the proper, exclusive, and indefeisible right of every free state, especially under the British form of Government, to be taxed only by themselves or their Representatives.

We further declare, that upon all occasions where requisitions shall be made to us by the Crown, for aid in support of his Majesty' s just rights, or those of Government, we will most cheerfully comply with them to the utmost of our ability; but we cannot think a British Parliament fit judges of the mode by which, or the degree in which, we ought to be taxed.

And whereas a Convention of the late Representatives of this Colony was judged expedient, and was appointed after their dissolution to be held the first day of August next, at Williamsburg, there to consult upon the most plausible means of avoiding the dangerous precedents of acts of power now intended to be established against us. To promote on our part this laudable design, we do appoint our late Representatives, Robert Bolling and John Banister, Esquires, Deputies, to act for us on this important occasion, recommending it to them to concert with the Deputies from the other counties a firm and prudent plan of opposition to every invasion of our rights, and particularly to those Acts of Parliament we have pointed out. Confiding in their vigilance and attention, we wish them in their endeavours the success that so good a cause merits.