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Proceedings of the House of Delegates of the Colony of Transylvania


A Journal of the Proceedings of the House of Delegates or Representatives of the Colony of TRANSYLVANIA, begun on WEDNESDAY, [TUESDAY] the 23d of MAY, in the year of our Lord CHRIST 1775, and in the fifteenth year of the reign of His Majesty GEORGE the Third, King of GREAT BRITAIN.

The Proprietors of said Colony having called and required an election of Delegates or Representatives to be made, for the purpose of legislation, or making and ordaining laws and regulations for the future conduct of the inhabitants thereof, that is to say, for the town of Boonesborough, six members; for Harrodsburgh, four; for the Boiling Spring Settlement, four; for the town of St˙ Asaph, four; and appointed their meeting for the purpose aforesaid, on the aforesaid 23d of May, Anno Domini, 1775, and,

It being certified to us here this day by the Secretary, that the following persons were returned as duly elected for the several towns and settlements, to wit:

FOR BOONESBOROUGH: Squire Boons, Daniel Boone, William Corke, Samuel Henderson, William Moore, and Richard Galloway.

HARRODSBURgH: Thomas Slaughter, John Lythe, Valentine Harmond, and James Douglass.

BOILING-SPRING SETTLEMENT: James Harrod, Nathan Hammond, Isaac and Azariah Davis.

THE TOWN OF ST˙ ASAPH: John Todd, Alexander Spotswood Dandridge, John Floyd, and Samuel Wood.

Present: Squire Boone, Daniel Boone, Samuel Henderson, William Moore, Richard Galloway, Thomas Slaughter, John Lythe, Valentine Harmond, James Douglass, James Harrod, Nathan Hammond, Isaac Hite, Azariah Davis, John Todd, Alexander Spotswood Dandridge, John Floyd, and Samuel Wood, who took their seats at Convention.

The House unanimously chose Colonel Thomas Slaughter Chairman, and Matthew Jewell Clerk; and after divine service was performed by the Reverend John Lythe, the House waited on the Proprietors, and acquainted them that they had chosen Mr˙ Thomas Slaughter Chairman, and Matthew Jewett Clerk, of which they approved; and, Colonel Richard Henderson, in behalf of himself and the rest of the Proprietors, opened the Convention with a speech, a copy of which, to prevent mistakes, the Chairman procured.

Ordered, The same Speech be read.

Read the same, which is as follows:

Mr˙ Chairman, and Gentlemen of the Convention:

You are called and assembled at this time for a noble and an honourable purpose — a purpose, however ridiculous or idle it may appear at first view, to superficial minds, yet is of the most solid consequence; and if prudence, firmness, and wisdom, are suffered to influence your councils and direct your conduct, the peace and harmony of thousands may be expected to result from your deliberations; in short, you are about a work of the utmost importance to the well-being of this country in general, in which the interest and security of each and every individual is inseparably connected; for that State is truly sickly, politically speaking, whose laws or edicts are not careful, equally, of the different members, and most distant branches, which constitute the one united whole. Nay, it is not only a solecism in politics, but an insult to common sense, to attempt the happiness of any community, or composing laws for their benefit, without securing to each individual his full proportion of advantage arising out of the general mass; thereby making his interest (that most powerful incentive to the actions of mankind) the consequence of obedience. This, at once, not only gives force and energy to legislation, but as justice is, and must be eternally the same, so your laws, founded in wisdom, will gather strength by time, and find an advocate in every wise and well disposed person.

YOU, perhaps, are fixing the palladium, or placing the first corner stone of an edifice, the height and magnificence of whose superstructure is now in the womb of futurity, and can only become great and glorious in proportion to the excellence of its foundation. These considerations, gentlemen


will, no doubt, animate and inspire you with sentiments worthy the grandeur of the subject.

Our peculiar circumstances, in this remote country, surrounded, on all sides with difficulties, and equally subject to one; common danger, which threatens our common overthrow, must, I think, in their effects, secure to us an union of interests, and, consequently, that harmony in opinion, so essential to the forming good, wise, and wholesome laws.

If any doubt remain amongst you with respect to the force or efficacy of whatever laws you now, or hereafter make, be pleased to consider that all power is originally in the people; therefore, make it their interest, by impartial and beneficial laws, and you may be sure of their inclination to see them enforced. For it is not to be supposed that a people, anxious and desirous of having laws made, who approve of the method of choosing Delegates or Representatives, to meet in General Convention for that purpose, can want the necessary and concomitant virtue to carry them into execution.

Nay, gentlemen, for arguments' sake, let us set virtue, for a moment, out of the question, and see how the matter will then stand. You must admit, that it is, and ever will be, the interest of a large majority, that the laws should be esteemed and held sacred. If so, surely this large majority can never want inclination or power to give sanction and efficacy to those very laws which advance their interest and secure their property. And now, Mr˙ Chairman, and gentlemen of the Convention, as it is indispensably necessary that laws should be composed for the regulation of our conduct — as we have a right to make such laws without giving offence to Great Britain, or any of the American Colonies — without disturbing the repose of any society or community under Heaven — if it is probable, nay, certain, that the laws may derive force and efficacy from our mutual consent, and that consent resulting from our own virtue, interest, and convenience, nothing remains but to set about the business immediately, and let the event determine the wisdom of the undertaking.

Among the many objects that must present themselves for your consideration, the first in order must, from its importance, be that of establishing courts of justice or tribunals, for the punishment of such as may offend against the laws you are about to make. As this law will be the chief corner-stone in the groundwork or basis of our Constitution, let us, in a particular manner, recommend the most dispassionate attention, while you take for your guide as much of the spirit and genius of the laws of England, as can be interwoven with those of this country. We are all Englishmen, or, what amounts to the same, ourselves and our fathers have, for many generations, experienced the invaluable blessings of that most excellent Constitution, and surely we cannot want motives to copy from so noble an original.

Many things, no doubt, crowd upon your minds, and seem equally to demand your attention. But next to that of restraining vice and immorality, surely nothing can be of more importance than establishing some plain and easy method for the recovery of debts, and determining matters of dispute with respect to property, contracts, torts, injuries, &c. These things are so essential, that if not strictly attended to, our name will become odious abroad, and our peace of short and precarious duration. It would give honest and disinterested persons cause to suspect that there was some colourable reason, at least, for the unworthy and scandalous assertions, together with the groundless insinuations contained in an infamous and scurrilous libel lately printed and published, concerning the settlement of this country, the author of which avails himself of his station, and, under the specious pretence of proclamation, pompously dressed up and decorated in the garb of authority, has uttered invectives of the most malignant kind, and endeavours to wound the good name of persons, whose moral character would derive little advantage by being placed in computation with his, charging them, amongst other things equally untrue, with a design of forming an asylum for debtors, and other persons of desperate circumstances; "placing the proprietors of the soil at the head of a lawless train of abandoned villains, against whom the regal authority ought to be exerted, and every possible measure taken to put an immediate stop to so dangerous an enterprise.


I have not the least doubt, gentlemen, but that your conduct, in this Convention, will manifest the honest and laudable intentions of the present adventurers, whilst a conscious blush confounds the wilful calumniators and officious detractors of our infant, and, as yet, little community.

Next to the establishment of courts or tribunals, as well for the punishment of publick offenders, as the recovering of just debts, that of establishing and regulating a Militia seems of the greatest importance. It is apparent that, without some wise institution, respecting our mutual defence, the different towns or settlements are, every day, exposed to the most imminent danger, and liable to be destroyed at the mere will of the savage Indians. Nothing, I am persuaded, but their entire ignorance of our weakness and want of order, has, hitherto, preserved us from the destructive and rapacious hands of cruelty, and given us an opportunity, at this time, of forming secure, defensive plans, to be supported and carried into execution by the authority and sanction of a well-digested law.

There are sundry other things highly worthy your consideration, and demand redress, such as the wanton destruction of our game, the only support of life amongst many of us, and for want of which the country would be abandoned ere to-morrow, and scarcely a probability remain of its ever becoming the habitation of any Christian people. This, together with the practice of many foreigners, who make a business of hunting in our country, killing, driving off, and lessening the number of wild cattle and other game, whilst the value of the skins and furs is appropriated to the benefit of persons not concerned or interested in our settlemenls. These are evils, I say, that I am convinced cannot escape your notice and attention.

Mr˙ Chairman and Gentlemen of the Convention: You may assure yourselves that this new-born country is an object of the most particular attention of the Proprietors here on the spot, as well as those on the other side of the Mountains, and that they will most cheerfully concur in every measure which can, in the most distant and remote degree, promote its happiness or contribute to its grandeur.


May 23, 1775.

Ordered, That Colonel Galloway, Mr˙ Lythe, Mr˙ Todd, Mr˙ Dandridge, and Mr˙ Samuel Henderson, be a Committee to draw up an answer to the Proprietors' Speech.