Use one of 4 printable Primary Source Analysis Tools to use while reading this document for just 76 cents!
Do you have a picture of this document? I’d love to include it on this page!
At a General Meeting of the Freeholders and other Inhabitants of the County of Fairfax, at the Court House in the Town of Alexandria, on Monday, the 18th day of July, 1774:
GEORGE WASHINGTON, Esquire, Chairman, and
ROBERT HARRISON, Gentleman, Clerk.
Resolved, That this Colony and Dominion of Virginia cannot be considered as a conquered country, and, if it was, that the present inhabitants are the descendants, not of the conquered, but of the conquerors. That the same was not settled at the national expense of England, but at the private expense of the adventurers, our ancestors, by solemn compact with, and under the auspices and protection of, the British Crown, upon which we are, in every respect, as dependent as the people of Great Britain, and in the same manner subject to all his Majesty’s just, legal, and constitutional prerogatives; that our ancestors, when they left their native land, and settled in America, brought with them, even if the same had not been confirmed by Charters, the civil Constitution and form of Government of the country they came from, and were by the laws of nature and Nations entitled to all its privileges, immunities, and advantages, which have descended to us, their posterity, and ought of right to be as fully enjoyed as if we had still continued within the Realm of England.
Resolved, That the most important and valuable part of the British Constitution, upon which its very existence depends, Is the fundamental principle of the people’s being governed by no laws to which they have not given their consent by Representatives freely chosen by themselves, who are affected by the laws they enact equally with their constituents, to whom they are accountable, and whose burthens they share, in which consists the safety and happiness of the community; for if this part of the Constitution was taken away, or materially altered, the Government must degenerate either into an absolute and despotick monarchy, or a tyrannical aristocracy, and the freedom of the people be annihilated.
Resolved, Therefore, as the inhabitants of the American Colonies are not, and from their situation, cannot be represented in the British Parliament; that the Legislative power here can, of right, be exercised only by our Provincial Assemblies, or Parliaments, subject to the assent or negative of the British Crown, to be declared within some proper limited time; but as it was thought just and reasonable that the people of Great Britain should reap advantages from the Colonies adequate to the protection they afforded them, the British Parliament have claimed and exercised the power of regulating our trade and commerce, so as to restrain our importing from foreign countries such articles as they could furnish us with, of their own growth and manufacture, or exporting to foreign countries such articles and portions of our produce as Great Britain stood in need of, for her own consumption or manufacture. Such a power directed with wisdom and moderation, seems necessary for the general good of that great body politick of which we are a part, although in some degree repugnant to the principles of the Constitution. Under this idea, our ancestors submitted to it, the experience of more than a century, during the government of his Majesty’s royal predecessors, have proved its utility, and the reciprocal benefits flowing from it produced mutual uninterrupted harmony and good will between the inhabitants of Great Britain and her Colonies, who during that long period always considered themselves as one and the same people; and though such a power is capable of abuse, and in some instances hath been stretched beyond the original design and institution, yet to avoid strife and contention with our fellow-subjects, and strongly impressed with the experience of mutual benefits, we always cheerfully acquiesced in it while the entire regulation of our internal policy, and giving and granting our own money, were preserved to our own Provincial Legislatures.
Resolved, That it is the duty of these Colonies, on all emergencies, to contribute in proportion to their abilities, situation, and circumstances, to the necessary charge of supporting and defending the British Empire, of which they are a part; that while we are treated upon an equal footing with our fellow-subjects, the motives of self-interest and preservation will be a sufficient obligation, as was evident through the course of the last war; and that no argument can be fairly applied to the British Parliament’s taxing us, upon a presumption that we should refuse a just and reasonable contribution, but will equally operate in justification of the Executive power taxing the people of England, upon a supposition of their Representatives refusing to grant the necessary supplies.
Resolved, That the claim lately assumed and exercised by the British Parliament for making all such laws as they think fit to govern the people of these Colonies, and to extort from us our money without our consent, is not only diametrically contrary to the first principles of the Constitution and the original compacts by which we are dependent upon the British Crown and Government, but is totally incompatible with the privileges of a free people and the natural rights of mankind, will render our own Legislatures merely nominal and nugatory, and is calculated to reduce us from a state of freedom and happiness to slavery and misery.
Resolved, That taxation and representation are in their nature inseparable; that the right of withholding, or of giving and granting their own money, is the only effectual security to a free people against the encroachments of despotism and tyranny; and that whenever they yield the one, they must quickly fall a prey to the other.
Resolved, That the powers over the people of America, now claimed by the British House of Commons, in whose election we have no share; in whose determinations we have no influence; whose information must be always defective, and often false; who in many instances may have a separate, and in some an opposite interest to ours; and who are removed from those impressions of tenderness and compassion, arising from personal intercourse and connection, which soften the rigours of the most despotick Governments, must, if continued, establish the most grievous and intolerable species of tyranny and oppression that ever was inflicted upon mankind.
Resolved, That it is our greatest wish and inclination, as well as interest, to continue our connection with, and dependence upon, the British Government; but though we are its subjects, we will use every means which Heaven hath given us to prevent our becoming its slaves.
Resolved, That there is a premeditated design and system formed and pursued by the British Ministry to introduce an arbitrary Government into his Majesty’s American Dominions, to which end they are artfully prejudicing our Sovereign and inflaming the minds of our fellow-subjects in Great Britain, by propagating the most malevolent falsehoods, particularly that there is an intention in the American Colonies to set up for independent states, endeavouring at the same time, by various acts of violence and oppression, by sudden and repeated dissolutions of our Assemblies, whenever they presume to examine the illegality of Ministerial mandates, or deliberate on the violated rights of their constituents, and by breaking in upon the American Charters, to reduce us to a state of desperation, and dissolve the original compact, by which our ancestors bound themselves and their posterity to remain dependent upon the British Crown; which measures, unless effectually counteracted, will end in the ruin, both of Great Britain and her Colonies.
Resolved, That the several Acts of Parliament for raising a revenue upon the people of America, without their consent; the erecting new and dangerous jurisdictions here; the taking away our trials by jury; the ordering persons, upon criminal accusations, to be tried in another country than that in which the fact is charged to have been committed; the Act inflicting Ministerial vengeance upon the town of Boston; and the two Bills lately brought into Parliament for abrogating the Charter of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, and for the protection and encouragement of murderers in the said Province, are part of the above mentioned iniquitous system; that the inhabitants of the town of Boston are now suffering in the common cause of all British America, and are justly entitled to its support and assistance; and, therefore, that a subscription ought immediately to be opened, and proper persons appointed, in every county in this Colony, to purchase provisions and consign them to some gentlemen of character in Boston, to be distributed among the poorer sort of the people there.
Resolved, That we will cordially join with our friends and brethren of this and the other Colonies, in such measures as shall be judged most effectual, for procuring a redress of our grievances; and that, upon obtaining such redress, if the destruction of the tea at Boston be regarded as an invasion of private property, we shall be willing to contribute towards paying the East India Company the value; but, as we consider the said Company as the tools and instruments of oppression in the hands of Government, and the cause of the present distress, it is the opinion of this meeting, that the people of these Colonies should forbear all further dealings with them, by refusing to purchase their merchandise, until that peace, safety, and good order, which they have disturbed, be perfectly restored; and that all tea now in this Colony, or which shall be imported into it, shipped before the first day of September next, should be deposited in some store-house; to be appointed by the respective Committees of each county, until a sufficient sum of money be raised, by subscription, to reimburse the owners the value, and then to be publickly burnt and destroyed; and if the same is not paid for and destroyed as aforesaid, that it remain in the custody of the said Committees, at the risk of the owners, until the Act of Parliament imposing a duty upon tea for raising a revenue in America, be repealed; and immediately afterwards be delivered unto the several proprietors thereof, their agents or attornies.
Resolved, That nothing will so much contribute to defeat the pernicious designs of the common enemies of Great Britain and her Colonies, as a firm union of the latter, who ought to regard every act of violence or oppression inflicted upon any one of them, as aimed at all; and to effect this desirable purpose, that a Congress should be appointed, to consist of Deputies from all the Colonies, to concert a general and uniform plan for the defence and preservation of our common rights, and continuing the connection and dependence of the said Colonies upon Great Britain, under a just, lenient, permanent, and constitutional form of Government.
Resolved, That our most sincere and cordial thanks be given to the patrons and friends of liberty in Great Britain, for their spirited and patriotick conduct in support of our constitutional rights and privileges, and their generous efforts to prevent the present distress and calamity of America.
Resolved, That every little jarring interest and dispute which hath ever happened between these Colonies, should be buried in eternal oblivion; that all manner of luxury and extravagance ought immediately to be laid aside, as totally inconsistent with the threatening and gloomy prospect before us; that it is the indispensable duty of all the gentlemen and men of fortunes to set examples of temperance, fortitude, frugality, and industry, and give every encouragement in their power, particularly by subscriptions and premiums, to the improvement of arts and manufactures in America; that great care and attention should be had to the cultivation of flax, cotton, and other materials for manufactures; and we recommend it to such of the inhabitants as have large stocks of sheep, to sell to their neighbours at a moderate price, as the most certain means of speedily increasing our breed of sheep and quantity of wool.
Resolved, That until American grievances be redressed, by restoration of our just rights and privileges, no goods or merchandise whatsoever ought to be imported into this Colony, which shall be shipped from Great Britain or Ireland, after the first day of September next, except linens not exceeding fifteen pence per yard, coarse woollen cloth, not exceeding two shillings sterling per yard; nails, wire, and wire cards, needles and pins, paper, saltpetre, and medicines, which may be imported until the first day of September, 1776; and if any goods or merchandise, other than those hereby excepted, should be shipped from Great Britain after the time aforesaid, to this Colony, that the same, immediately upon their arrival, should either be sent back again by the owners, their agents or attornies, or stored and deposited in some warehouse, to be appointed by the Committee for each respective county, and there kept at the risk and charge of the owners, to be delivered to them when a free importation of goods hither shall again take place; and that the merchants and venders of goods and merchandise within this Colony ought not to take advantage of our present distress, but continue to sell the goods and merchandise which they now have, or which may be shipped to them before the first day of September next, at the same rates and prices they have been accustomed to do within one year last past; and if any person shall sell such goods on any other terms than above expressed, that no inhabitant of this Colony should, at any time forever thereafter, deal with him, his agent, factor, or storekeeper, for any commodity whatsoever.
Resolved, That it it is the opinion of this meeting, that the merchants and venders of goods and merchandise within this Colony should take an oath not to sell or dispose of any goods or merchandise whatsoever, which may be shipped from Great Britain after the first day of September next, as aforesaid, except the articles before excepted; and that they will, upon the receipt of such prohibited goods, either send the same back again by the first opportunity, or deliver them to the Committees of the respective counties, to be deposited in some warehouse, at the risk and charge of the owners, until they, their agents, or factors, shall be permitted to take them away by the said Committees; and that the names of those who refuse to take such oath, be advertised by the respective Committees, in the counties wherein they reside; and to the end that the inhabitants of this Colony may know what merchants and venders of goods and merchandise have taken such oath, that the respective Committees should grant a certificate thereof to every such person who shall take the same.
Resolved, That it is the opinion of this meeting, that during our present difficulties and distress, no slaves ought to be imported into any of the British Colonies on this Continent; and we take this opportunity of declaring our most earnest wishes to see an entire stop forever put to such a wicked, cruel, and unnatural trade.
Resolved, That no kind of lumber should be exported from this Colony to the West Indies, until America be restored to her constitutional rights and liberties, if the other Colonies will accede to a like resolution: and that it be recommended to the general Congress to appoint as early a day as possible for stopping such exports.
Resolved, That it is the opinion of this meeting, if American grievances be not redressed before the first day of November, 1775, that all exports of produce from the several Colonies to Great Britain, should cease; and to carry the said resolution more effectually into execution, that we will not plant or cultivate any tobacco after the crop now growing, provided the same measure shall be adopted by the other Colonies on this Continent, as well as those who have heretofore made tobacco, as those who have not. And it is our opinion, also, if the Congress of Deputies from the several Colonies shall adopt the measure of non-exportation to Great Britain, as the people will be thereby disabled from paying their debts, that no judgments should be rendered by the Courts in the said Colonies, for any debt, after information of the said measures being determined upon.
Resolved, That it is the opinion of this meeting, that a Solemn Covenant and Association should be entered into by the inhabitants of all the Colonies, upon oath, that they will not, after the time which shall be respectively agreed on at the general Congress, export any manner of lumber to the West Indies; nor any of their produce to Great Britain; or sell or dispose of the same to any person who shall not have entered into the said Covenant and Association; and also, that they will not import or receive any goods or merchandise which shall be shipped from Great Britain, after the first day of September next, other than the before enumerated articles; nor buy or purchase any goods, except as before excepted, of any person whatsoever, who shall not have taken the oath herein before recommended to be taken by the merchants and venders of goods; nor buy or purchase any slaves hereafter imported into any part of this Continent, until a free exportation and importation be again resolved on by a majority of the Representatives or Deputies of the Colonies; and that the respective Committees of the counties in each Colony, so soon as the Covenant and Association becomes general, publish by advertisements in their several counties, a list of the names of those, (if any such there be) who will not accede thereto, that such traitors to their country may be publickly known and detested.
Resolved, That it is the opinion of this meeting, that this and the other associating Colonies should break off all trade, intercourse, and dealings, with that Colony, Province, or town, which shall decline or refuse to agree to the plan which shall be adopted by the general Congress.
Resolved, That should the town of Boston be forced to submit to the late cruel and oppressive measures of Government, that we shall not hold the same to be binding upon us, but will, notwithstanding, religiously maintain, and inviolably adhere to, such measures as shall be concerted by the general Congress, for the preservation of our lives, liberties, and fortunes.
Resolved, That it be recommended to the Deputies of the general Congress, to draw up and transmit an humble and dutiful Petition and Remonstrance to his Majesty, asserting in decent firmness our just and constitutional rights and privileges, lamenting the fatal necessity of being compelled to enter into measures disgusting to his Majesty and his Parliament, or injurious to our fellow-subjects in Great Britain;declaring, in the strongest terms, our duty and affection to his Majesty’s person, family, and Government, and our desire forever to continue our dependence upon Great Britain; and most humbly conjuring and beseeching his Majesty not to reduce his faithful subjects of America to a state of desperation, and to reflect, that from our Sovereign there can be but one appeal. And it is the opinion of this meeting, that after such Petition and Remonstrance shall have been presented to his Majesty, the same shall be printed in the public papers in all the principal towns in Great Britain.
Resolved, That George Washington, Esquire, and Charles Broadwater, Gentleman, lately elected our Representatives to serve in the General Assembly, attend the Convention at Williamsburg, on the first day of August next, and present these Resolves as the sense of the people of this county upon the measures proper to be taken in the present alarming and dangerous situation of America.
Resolved, That George Washington, Esq., John West, George Mason, William Rumney, William Ramsay, George Gilpton, Robert Hanson Harrison, John Carlyle, Robert Adam, John Dalton, Philip Alexander, James Kirk, William Brown, Charles Broadwater, William Payne, Martin Cockburne, Lee Massey, William Hartshorne, Thomas Triplett, Charles Alexander, Thomas Pollard, Townsend Dade, Jr., Edward Payne, Henry Gunnell, and Thomas Lewis, be a Committee for this county; that they, or a majority of them, on any emergency, have power to call a general meeting, and to concert and adopt such measures as may be thought most expedient and necessary.
Resolved, That a copy of these Proceedings be transmitted to the Printer at Williamsburg, to be published.