From the Georgia Commons House of Assembly: Instructions to Its Agent
ADS (copy): American Philosophical Society
Georgia Commons House of Assembly Thursday May 10th: 1770
Mr. Graeme5 from the Committee appointed to draw up such Instructions as may be thought proper to be transmitted to the Agent reported that the Committee had come to several Resolutions which they had directed him to report to the House and he read the Report in his place and afterwards delivered the same in at the Table where the Resolutions were severally again read and agreed to by the House and are as follow Vizt.
That it is the Opinion of this Committee that the Agent be instructed by the Committee of Correspondence to use his utmost endeavours to obtain his Majestys Royal Assent as soon as possible to the Act passed this Sessions for ordering and governing Slaves &ca. [In margin in Franklin’s hand: Have attended Mr. J. on it.]6
That it is the Opinion of this Committee that the Agent be instructed to use his utmost endeavours to obtain an Instruction from his Majesty permitting his Excellency the Governor to issue Writs for electing Members to represent the Parishes of St. David, St. Patrick, St. Thomas and St. Mary.7 [In margin in Franklin’s hand: Done.]
That it is the Opinion of this Committee that the Agent be instructed to use his Utmost endeavours to obtain an Instruction from his Majesty permitting his Excellency the Governor to give his Assent to a Law of the same Tenor and purport as a Bill passed both Houses of Assembly this Session Intitled an Act to amend an Act to ascertain the manner and form of electing Members to represent the Inhabitants of this Province in the Commons House of Assembly.8
That it is the Opinion of this Committee that the Agent be instructed to use his utmost endeavours to obtain from William Knox Esqr. (lately Agent for this Province) the plan of the Land claimed by the late Sir William Baker deceased and the Petition accompanying it which was transmitted to him to be presented to his Majesty and that the Agent be further instructed to present the said Petition to his Majesty with all Convenient speed.9 [In margin in Franklin’s hand: done.]
That the above Resolutions be referred to the Committee of Correspondence as an Act of this House.
A true Copy from the Original Journals of the Commons House of Assembly examined
Jno Simpson Clk1
Endorsed: Copy Resolutions of the Commons House of Assembly—to be transmitted to the Agent May 10th. 1770 A.
5. William Graeme, or Groeme, was a lawyer who had been elected to the Assembly in 1768 but had been denied his seat because he had not been a resident for a year. He was re-elected in 1769, to represent Darien and St. Andrew’s Parish; he may also have been the William Graeme who was attorney general that year. He died in 1770, soon after presenting the Committee’s report. Savannah Gaz., Nov. 1, 1769; Candler, ed., Ga. Col. Recs., XIV, 599; XV, passim, XIX, pt. 1, 131, 191, 470; S.C. Hist. and Geneal. Mag., XVI (July, 1915), 131.
6. For five years the Assembly had been trying to frame a code acceptable to Whitehall for governing Georgia slaves; the most recent effort was the act referred to here. See William W. Abbot, The Royal Governors of Georgia, 1754–1775 (Chapel Hill, ), p. 153; Candler, op. cit., XIX, pt. 1, 209–49. BF took the matter to Richard Jackson as counsel to the Board of Trade. On March 6, 1771, the Board considered the act and, in the light of a favorable report from Jackson, recommended to the King that it should be confirmed. Board of Trade Jour., 1768–75, p. 237.
7. The four parishes had been created out of territory annexed to Georgia in 1763. As the number of settlers grew, Governor Wright urged the home government to allow them representation. Nothing happened. The Assembly refused to tax unrepresented parishes, and exempted them in its tax bill of March, 1770. See Kenneth Coleman, The American Revolution in Georgia, 1763–1789 (Athens, Ga., ), pp. 32–3; Abbot, op. cit., pp. 153–4; Candler, op. cit., XIX, pt. 1, 163.
8. The Governor had refused his consent on the ground of his instructions, and the Assembly had requested him to attempt to have the instructions changed; he had forwarded to London the request and the act in question. Ibid., XVII, 593–6. For the changes in representation that the Assembly was attempting to make, and its reasons for them, see the Georgia Committee of Correspondence to BF below, May 23.
9. For William Knox see above, XV, 94. Sir William Baker (1705–70) had been a London alderman and M.P., one of the foremost merchants trading with America, and a member of Rockingham’s inner circle; he had died the previous January. He had extensive landholdings throughout the southern colonies, part of them in territory transferred from Carolina to Georgia, and his claims conflicted with those of settlers who had moved into the lands in question; the problem is discussed at length in the letter from the Committee of Correspondence to BF below, May 28. See also Namier and Brooke, House of Commons, 11, 40–1; Ga. Hist. Soc. Collections, VI (1904), 33–5; Henry A. M. Smith, “The Baronies of South Carolina,” S.C. Hist. and Geneal. Mag., XI (April, 1910), 75–6, XIV (April, 1913), 61–3; William S. Powell, The Proprietors of Carolina (Raleigh, 1963), pp. 56–7; Robert L. Gold, Borderland Empires in Transition … (Carbondale and Edwardsville, Ill. ), p. 127.
1. Identified above, XV, 95 n.