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A Virginian


Of all the Northern Colonies, Pennsylvania has ever been the most vigilant to discover and active to avail herself of every commercial advantage. Maryland too, of late, has exhibited, some symptoms of attention to her true interests. Aware of the profits accruing from


the Indian and frontier trade, in her last Assembly she has taken into consideration the state of her public roads, and levied several thousand pounds to render more tolerable, the capital pass over the Alleghany only. Virginia, regardless of emoluments of this kind, still continues in a profound lethargy; and while the transmontane Territories of Penn and Baltimore, during the space of several years past, have, notwithstanding the senseless prohibiting proclamation, been rapidly peopled, those of this Colony remain in a manner unseated, except a small spot bordering on Pennsylvania, seized on by needy or foreign adventurers. To apply a remedy to this evil, it was destined to the good sense and activity of Lord Dunmore. Not contented with the reports of partial or uncertain fame, disregarding his own ease, and the difficulties of a tedious journey through almost impassible and uninhabited mountains, his Lordship penetrated to the seat of our grievances, and on the spot rendered himself an eye and ear witness, of the indispensable necessity of granting the back lands; and, by doing this, not only to deal justice to his own people, but with the same blow, to give a check to the aspiring and encroaching spirit of the princely Proprietor, who has been boldly venturing to extend his writs and precepts a hundred miles beyond his true limits, far into the Government of Virginia. To this end, his Lordship' s leading step was appointing a militia officer to preside at Fort Pitt, and magistrates to transact the business incident to their office in that quarter of Augusta. By this judicious measure, our countrymen there might expect to be relieved from the intolerable inconvenience of being dragged before the tribunal of Penn. These were their hopes. How vain! for, behold, the issue: These officers, the Captain commandant, and the Justices, were threatened with the horrours of a jail, if they but ventured to act in virtue of their commissions. This, however, did not deter the spirited Captain Conolly from doing his duty. Notwithstanding these, I will not call them impotent threats, he ordered and appointed a muster; but an unlucky circumstance rendered the Captain incapable of giving attendance, for the day before he was to have met his officers and men, the haughty Pennsylvanians realized their threats, and conducted him to prison.

To the guardians, therefore, of our rights and liberties, I venture, to drop these few loose hints, and shall detain neither you nor the public longer than just to close with this query: "Whether the establishing our Courts of Justice upon a certain footing, adjusting the boundaries of our Colony and counties, and in consequence determining what lands may or may not, with propriety and safety, be located and surveyed by the late military grantees, are not objects of that importance as to demand the immediate consideration of the Legislature; or if deferred until the summer, whether that short delay must not prove the sure fruitful source of litigation, confusion, and dispute."


WILLIAMSBURGH, March 3, 1774.