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Address from the Baptists in the Colony


Wednesday, August 16, 1775.

An Address from the Baptists in this Colony was presented to the Convention, and read; setting forth, that however distinguished from the body of their countrymen, by appellatives and sentiments of a religious nature, they nevertheless consider themselves as members of the same community in respect to matters of a civil nature, and embarked in the same common cause; that, alarmed at the oppression which hangs over America, they had considered what part it would be proper to take in the unhappy contest, and had determined that in some cases it was lawful to go to war, and that they ought to make a military resistance against Great Britain in her unjust invasion, tyrannical oppressions and repeated hostilities; that their brethren were left at discretion to enlist, without incurring the censure of their religious community; and, under these circumstances, many of them had enlisted as soldiers, and many more were ready to do so, who had an earnest desire their Ministers should preach to them during the campaign; that they had therefore appointed four of their brethren to make application to this Convention for the liberty of preaching to the Troops at convenient times, without molestation or abuse, and praying the same may be granted them.

Resolved, That it be an instruction to the Commanding Officers of the Regiments or Troops to be raised, that they permit dissenting Clergymen to celebrate divine worship, and to preach to the Soldiers, or exhort, from time to time, as the various operations of the military service may permit, for the ease of such scrupulous consciences as may not choose to attend divine service as celebrated by the Chaplain.

The Convention then, according to the Order of the Day, resolved itself into a Committee on the state of the Colony; and after some time spent therein, Mr˙ President resumed the chair, and Mr˙ Robert Carter Nicholas reported, that the Committee had, according to order, had under their consideration the state of the Colony, and had come to several Resolutions thereupon, which he read in his place, and then delivered in at the Clerk' s table, where the same were again twice read, and agreed to, as follows:

Resolved, That for the more effectual carrying into execution the several Rules and Regulations established by this Convention, for the defence and protection of this Colony, a Committee of Safety be appointed, to consist of eleven Members, to be chosen by ballot, by the Members of this Convention, who are to continue to the next sitting of the Convention, or for one year, in case the Convention shall not meet within that time.

Resolved, That no Member of the Committee of Safety shall hold any military office whatsoever after the end of this session of the Convention.

Ordered, That Mr˙ Robert Carter Nicholas, Mr˙ Henry, Mr˙ Richard Henry Lee, Mr˙ Jones, and Mr˙ Jefferson, be a Committee to prepare and bring in an Ordinance pursuant to the said Resolutions.

Ordered, That leave be given to bring in an Ordinance for establishing a General Test in this Colony, and that Mr˙ Parker and Mr˙ George Mason do prepare and bring in the same.

A Letter from the Committee on the Western Waters of Augusta, enclosing several papers on the subject of Indian affairs, was laid before the Convention, read, and ordered to lie on the table.

Ordered, That Mr˙ Jefferson have leave of absence from the service of this Convention for the remainder of the session.

The Orders of the Day — for the Convention to resolve itself into a Committee on the Ordinance for regulating the election of Delegates and ascertaining their allowances; and also for regulating the election of Committee-Men in the several Counties and Corporations within this Colony, and for other purposes therein mentioned; for the Convention


to proceed to the appointment of Officers to command the Regular Forces to be raised for the defence and protection of this Colony; and for the Convention to resolve itself into a Committee on the Ordinance for raising and embodying a sufficient Force for the defence and protection of this Colony — being read,

Resolved, That the same be postponed till to-morrow.

It being observed, with great concern, that the President was much indisposed, and that the time of his departure for the General Continental Congress was nearly approaching, it was unanimously recommended to him to retire for the present from the fatigues of the business of this Convention; in which he was pleased, though with reluctance, to acquiesce.

It was then unanimously Resolved, That the Thanks of this Convention be presented to his Honour the President, for his unremitted attention to the important interests of this Country, and his unwearied application to, and able, faithful, and impartial discharge of the duties of his office; assuring him that he hath the warmest wishes of this Convention for a speedy return of health, and an uninterrupted enjoyment of every felicity.

Adjourned till to-morrow, nine o' clock.