Thomas Jefferson Papers

Enclosure: William Wirt’s Notes on Membership in the Virginia House of Burgesses and the Rhode Island Stamp Act Resolves, [ca. 24 July 1815]


William Wirt’s Notes on Membership in the Virginia House of Burgesses and the Rhode Island Stamp Act Resolves

[ca. 24 July 1815]

On a more attentive persual, I find that the Journal of ’64 which you have, contains the names of the members who composed the house of burgesses in ’65. So that it becomes unnecessary to send you the list of members promissed in my letter. On the first day of May ’65 being the first of the session, 4 new writs of election were moved for. 1st for Chesterfield to supply the place of Richard Eppes who had died. 2nd for Amelia, to supply that of Mr Greenhill who had accepted the place of Sheriff. 3rd for Lunenburg, to supply that of Mr Clement Read, appointed coroner. and 4th for Louisa, in the room of William Johnston also appointed coroner. The tradition is that Colo. Johnston vacated his seat for the express purpose of letting in Henry to oppose the Stamp act. The first appearance of a new member on either of those writs is on the 18th May. the name of the member is not given. On monday the 20th another member appeared and then it is added—“Ordered that Mr Ward be added to the committee of claims—and Mr Henry to the courts of justice.” Henry’s first appearance therefore was on the 18th or 20th of May. Other writs of election had been moved for after the 1st of May, and in the course of the session the new members took their seats from time to time; but no farther1 notice is taken of names ’till the 30th of May when there is an order that Mr Read, Mr Carrington, Mr William Taylor & Mr Robert Munford should be added to a committee This is all the information which the journal of 65 affords as to the new members.

By the Pennsylvania Gazette of August 29. 1765—Printed by B. Franklin Postmaster, and D. Hall, It appears, that the town of Providence on the 13th of that month instructed their2 Deputies in General assembly to insist on the exclusive3 right of the colony to tax itself, and proposed a set of resolutions, which were afterwards adopted, in substance & nearly in words, by the Assembly, as follows—(Resolutions of Rhode I. & P. P. extracted from the P. Gazette of 26. Sept. ’65)4

1. That the first adventurers, settlers of this his Majesty’s Colony and Dominion of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, brought with them and transmitted to their Posterity, and all other his Majesty’s Subjects, since inhabating in this his Majesty’s Colony, all the Privileges and Immunities that have at any time been held, enjoyed and possessed by the People of Great Britain

2. That by a charter, granted by King Charles the Second, in the 15th year of his Reign,5 the Colony aforesaid is declared intitled to all Privileges and Immunities of natural born Subjects, to all Intents and Purposes, as if they had been abiding and born within the Realm of England.

3. That his majesty’s liege people of this Colony have enjoyed the Right of being governed by their own Assembly in the Article of Taxes and internal Police; and that the same have never been forfeited or any other Way yielded up, but have been constantly recognized by the King & People of Great Britain.

4. That therefore6 the General Assembly of this Colony have in their Representative7 Capacity, the only exclusive Right to lay Taxes and Imposts upon the Inhabitants of this Colony: and that Every Attempt to vest such Power in any Person or Persons whatever8 other than the General Assembly aforesaid is unconstitutional, and hath a manifest Tendency to destroy9 the Liberties of the People of this Colony.

5. That his Majesty’s liege People the Inhabitants of this Colony are not bound to yield Obedience to any Law or Ordinance designed to impose any internal Taxation whatsoever upon them other than the Laws or Ordinances of the General Assembly, aforesaid.10

6. That all the officers in this colony appointed by the authority thereof be and they are hereby directed to proceed in the execution of their respective offices in the same manner as usual: and that this assembly will indemnify and save harmless all the said officers on account of their conduct agreable to this Resolution.

MS (DLC: TJ Papers, 204:36368–9); in Wirt’s hand; undated; endorsed by Wirt: “Members of the house of Burgesses of Virginia in 1765. and Resolutions of R. Island, in the same year.”

A 13 Aug. 1765 town meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, instructed its representatives to propose a series of resolves on the Stamp Act to the Rhode Island General Assembly (Providence Gazette, extraordinary ed., 24 Aug. 1765, repr. in Pennsylvania Gazette, 29 Aug. 1765). At its session the following month the legislature passed a set of similar resolutions, which were printed in that year’s session laws (September, 1765. At the General Assembly Of the Governor and Company of the English Colony of Rhode-Island, and Providence Plantations … begun and holden [by Adjournment] at East-Greenwich … [Newport, 1765], 59–60) and extracted with only minor differences in the Pennsylvania Gazette, 26 Sept. 1765, from which Wirt copied. Significant differences between the Providence resolves (as given in the Providence Gazette) and those adopted by the Rhode Island General Assembly are noted below.

1Word interlined.

2Wirt here canceled “Delegates.”

3Word interlined.

4Omitted closing parenthesis editorially supplied.

5Providence resolve from this point reads “it is declared and granted unto the Governor and Company of this Colony, and their Successors, that all and every the Subjects of his said Majesty, his Heirs and Successors, which were then planted within the said Colony, or which should thereafter go to inhabit within the said Colony, and all and every of their Children, which had been born there, or which should afterwards be born there, or on the Sea going thither, or returning from thence, should have and enjoy all Liberties and Immunities of free and natural Subjects within any the Dominions of his said Majesty, his Heirs or Successors; to all Intents, Constructions, and Purposes, whatsoever, as if they and every of them were born within the Realm of England.”

6Providence resolve here adds “his Majesty or his Substitutes, together with.”

7Wirt here canceled “character.”

8Providence resolve: “whatsoever.”

9Providence resolve from this point reads “British, as well as American Liberty.”

10Providence resolves end here.

Index Entries

  • Carrington, George; as a burgess search
  • Eppes, Richard; as a burgess search
  • Franklin, Benjamin; and Pennsylvania Gazette search
  • Greenhill, David; as a burgess search
  • Hall, David; and Pennsylvania Gazette search
  • Henry, Patrick (1736–99); and Stamp Act search
  • Henry, Patrick (1736–99); as legislator search
  • Johnson, William (burgess); and P. Henry search
  • Munford, Robert; as burgess search
  • newspapers; Philadelphia Pennsylvania Gazette search
  • newspapers; Providence Gazette search
  • Pennsylvania Gazette (Philadelphia newspaper) search
  • Philadelphia; newspapers in search
  • Providence Gazette (R.I. newspaper) search
  • Reade, Clement, Jr.; as a burgess search
  • Rhode Island; newspapers in search
  • Rhode Island; Stamp Act resolutions of search
  • Stamp Act (1765); resolutions opposing search
  • Stamp Act Crisis; Rhode Island Resolves search
  • Taylor, William (burgess) search
  • Virginia; House of Burgesses search
  • Virginia; House of Burgesses, journals of search
  • Ward, Seth; as burgess search
  • Wirt, William; Notes on Membership in the Virginia House of Burgesses and the Rhode Island Stamp Act Resolves search