Primary tabs

Virginius to Lord Dimmore


To his Excellency the Right Honorable JOHN Earl of DUNMORE, &c˙, &c˙, &c.
MY LORD: Though I know it is an established maxim with your Lordship that, as you are ever open to personal access, to take but little notice of addresses communicated to you through the channel of a common newspaper, yet I dare hope, that should some chance direct your Lordship' s eye to this letter, it will engage your closest attention. I do not mean to spread abroad causeless apprehensions, or aggrevate reports that have been already disseminated through the country; but it is my intention to give you informations founded on undoubted veracity, and then leave it to your Lordship' s wisdom to determine what is most expedient to be done. Doubt it not then my Lord, when I assure you, from testimony scarcely to be invalidated, that the situation of the frontier counties of this Colony is of the most alarming nature; a situation so truly critical, as to require the instant assistance of both the Executive and Legislative powers.

Our treacherous and clandestine foes, the Indians, have ever greedily embraced all opportunities of manifesting their inimical afflictions


towards us; but some recent transactions of theirs, with which (if report speaks the language of truth) your Lordship has been already made acquainted, leaves us no room to doubt that the storm which has been so long gathering, will, ere long, break forth in all its fury. And should this ill-fated event take place while the inhabitants on the confines of the Colony remain in their present undisciplined, distressed situation, it will not be easy to give your Lordship an adequate idea of the horrid consequences that must ensue. The indiscriminate massacre of men, women and children, the depopulation of an infant Colony, whose fertility has already been sufficient to induce us to foster the most sanguine anticipations of its future value, the forcing from their peaceful habitations those adventurous people whom it ought ever to be the first object of Government to support; these, my Lord, with an infinite series of other melancholy circumstances, must be the certain concomitants of an Indian war, should we tamely suffer those savages to be the first invaders. It is neither by the suggestions of a blood-thirsty nor an avaricious disposition that I am instigated to dictate thus freely to your Lordship on this subject, but by the forebodings of a sympathetic apprehension of the impending destruction which awaits my countrymen in the frontier counties. Their emergency loudly calls for the relief of the Supreme Magistrate, and that, my Lord, must apologize for the freedom which an obscure individual has assumed with your Lordship, should you suppose any apology on that score necessary. Ten thousand incidents conspire to render a war at this time necessary, nay, inevitable; and the innocent lives of numbers might be saved by the timely proclamation of it. The very smiles of those faithless tribes ought to be considered as the harbingers of perfidy; but when they dare openly to annoy us with acts of hostility, surely a more solid resentment is due. Should an instance of any hostile act of theirs be demanded, I need only mention the unhappy murder of young Russell, committed not long ago, and, as has since been ascertained, was perpetrated by a Cherokee Chief. Numberless other examples, of hostilities equally atrocious, might be adduced, were it not hoped that this of itself is sufficient. Whether it would he prudent to wait for a second stroke let the provident determine. The spring, it seems, is the stated period for an invasion; and, in all probability, the attack will be earlier on the more remote inhabitants. The month of May is the time appointed for the convention of the Assembly; so that it is more than probable to suppose those barbarians will be scattering havoc and desolation around, while our House of Burgesses are spending much time in debiting in what manner to prohibit such outrages. By convening them a month or two sooner, what mischiefs might not be prevented? You have it now in your power, my Lord, to render the name of Dunmore as memorable in Virginia as that of Marlborough is in Great Britain. Do not let slip the golden opportunity.

WILLIAMSBURG, March 24, 1774.