George Washington Papers

To George Washington from George Mason, 28 April 1769

From George Mason

Gunston-Hall 28th April 1769.

Dr Sir

Upon looking over the Association, of which I sent You a Copy,1 I have made some few alterations in it, as per Memdm on the other Side.2

I beg Your Care of the inclosed Letters; & heartily wishing you (what I fear you will not have) an agreeable Session,3 I am Dr Sr Yr most obdt Sert

G. Mason

P.S. I shall take it as a particular Favour if You’ll be kind enough to get me two pr of Gold Snaps made at Wmsburg for my little Girls; they are small rings with a joint in them, to wear in the Ears, instead of Earrings: also a pr of Toupee Tongs.4

ALS, DLC:GW. This letter has usually been printed under the date of 23 April. The date, however, is not clear. It appears at first glance to have been dated “23th,” but the three can be construed as a badly formed eight. The docket, in an unknown hand, seems also to have been changed from “23d” to “28th.” GW left for Williamsburg on 30 April.

1In his plan for a Virginia nonimportation association Mason drew heavily on the Philadelphia plan, and it was Mason’s plan, with minor changes, that the burgesses adopted at the Raleigh Tavern on 18 May. See the source note, GW to Mason, 5 April. The text of the association agreement adopted for Pennsylvania on 10 Mar. is printed in Hamilton, Letters to Washington description begins Stanislaus Murray Hamilton, ed. Letters to Washington and Accompanying Papers. 5 vols. Boston and New York, 1898–1902. description ends , 4:351–52; the text of the Virginia association agreement of 18 May may be most readily found in Scribner and Tarter, Revolutionary Virginia description begins William J. Van Schreeven et al., eds. Revolutionary Virginia: The Road to Independence. A Documentary Record. 7 vols. Charlottesville, Va., 1973–83. description ends , 1:74–77. Sometime between 5 and 23 April, Mason provided GW with a copy of his proposal for a nonimportation association: “The Merchants, Traders, Gentlemen, and other principal Inhabitants of the Colony of Virginia in general & of the County of [ ] in particular, deeply affected with the Grievances and Distresses with which his Majesty’s American Subjects are opp[r]essed, and dreading the evils which threaten the Ruin of themselves and their posterity, by reducing them from a free and happy people to a Wretched & miserable State of slavery, having taken into their serious Consideration the present State of the Trade of this Colony, and of the American Commerce in general, observe with anxiety that the Debt due to Great Britain for Goods imported from thence is very great, and the means of paying this Debt in the present Situation of affairs likely to become more and more precarious—that the Difficulties under which they now labour as a Trading people are oweing to the Restrictions prohibitions, & ill advised Regulations in severall late Acts of parliament in Great Britain; in particular that the last unconstitutional Acts imposing Duties on Tea, Paper, Glass &c. for the sole purpose of raiseing a Revenue in America, being injurious to property, & destructive to Liberty, have a necessary Tendency to prevent the payment of Old Debts or the contracting of new, and are of consequence ruinous to Trad⟨e⟩—that notwithstanding the many earnest applications already made there is little reason to expect a Redress of these Grievances. Therefore in justice to themselves & their posterity, as well as to the Traders of Great Britain concern’d in the American Commerce, the Subscribers have voluntarily & unanimously entered into the following Resolutions, in Hopes that their example will stimulate the good people of this Co⟨un⟩try to be frugal in the Use & Consumtion of British Man⟨ufac⟩ture, and that their Brethren the Merchants & Manufacturers ⟨of G⟩reat Britain may from motives of Interest justice & Friends⟨hip⟩ be engaged to exert themselves to obtain Redress of those Gr⟨ie⟩vances under which the Trade & inhabitants of Ameri⟨ca⟩ at present Labour.

“First It is unanimously agreed & resolved this [ ] Day of [ ] 1769. That the subscribers, as well by their own Example as by all other legal ways & means in their power, will promote & encourage Industry & Frugality, & discourage all manner of Luxury & Extravigance.

“Secondly That they will not at any time hereafter directly nor indirectly import or cause to be imported any manner of Goods Merchandize or Manufactures which are or shall hereafter be taxed by Act of Parliament for the purpose of raising a Revenue in America (except such only as orders have been already sent for) nor purchase any such after the first Day of September next of any person Whatsoever—But that they will always consider such Taxation in every Respect as an absolute prohibition, and in all future orders direct their correspondents to ship them no Goods whatever taxed as aforesaid.

“Thirdly That the Subscribers will not hereafter directly nor indirectly import or cause to [be] imported from Great Britain or any part of Europe (except such Articles of the produce or manufacture of Ireland as are brought hither imediately from thence, & Fruit & Oyl imediatly from the Mediteranean, & except also such Goods as orders have been already sent for) any of the Goods hereinafter enumerated Vizt. Spirits, Wine, Cyder, sherry, Beer, Ale, Malt, Barley, peas, Beef, Pork, Fish, Butter, Cheese, Tallow, Candles, Oyl, Fruit, sugar, pickles, Confectionry, Pewter, Hoes, Axes, Watches, Clocks, Tables, Chairs, Looking-glasses, Carriages, Joiners & Cabinet work of all sorts, upholstery of all Sorts, Trinkets & Jewellry, plate, & Gold & Silver Smiths work of all sorts, Ribbon & Millinary of all sorts Lace of all sorts India Goods of all sorts (except Spices) Silks of all sort⟨s⟩ (except sewing silk.) Cambricks, Lawn, Muslin, Gauze except Boulting cloths cott⟨on⟩ or cotton stuffs of more than 2/ pr yd Linnens at mo⟨re⟩ than 2/ pr yd Woolen Worsted & Mix’d Stuffs of all sort⟨s⟩ at more than 1/6 pr yd Broad Cloaths of all kinds at more than ⟨mutilated⟩ pr yd narrow Cloaths of all kinds at more than 3/ pr y⟨d⟩ Hats, Stockings, Shoes, & Boots, Saddles, & all ma⟨nu⟩factures of Leather & skins of all kinds unti⟨l⟩ the late Acts of parliament imposing Duties on Tea pap⟨er⟩ Glass &c. for the purpose of raising a Revenue in am⟨er⟩ica are repealed; and that they will not after the first of September next purchase any of the above enumerated goods of any person whatever, unless the above mentioned Acts of parliaments are repealed.

“Fourthly That in all orders which any of the Subscribers may hereafter send to great Britain they shall & will expressly direct their correspondents not to ship them any of the before enumerated Goods, untill the before mentioned Acts of parliament are repeal’d; and if any Goods are ship’d them contrary to the tenor of this agreement, they will refuse to take the same, or make themselves chargible therewith.

“Fifthly That they will not import any Slaves, or purchase any hereafter imported untill the said Acts of parliament are repeale’d.

“Sixthly That if the Measures already entered into shoud prove ineffectual, & our Grievances & oppressions shoud notwithstanding be continued; then & in that case, the subscribe⟨rs⟩ will put a stop to their exports to Europe of Tar, pitch, Turpentine, Timber, & Lumber & Skins and Furs of all sorts, and will endeavour to find some other Employment for their Slaves and other Hands than Cultivating Tobacco, which they will entirely leave off making, & will enter into such Regulations as may be necessary with Regard to Rents & other Tobacco Debts.

“Seventhly & Lastly That these Resolves shall be binding on all & each of the Subscribers who do hereby each & every person for himself upon his word & Honour agree, that he will strictly & firmly adhere to & abide by every Article of this agreement from the time of his signing the same for & during the continuance of the before mentioned Acts of parliament; or untill a general meeting of the subscribers, after one Months public Notice, shall determine otherwise; the second Article of this Agreement still, & for ever continuing in full power & Force” (DLC:GW).

2Mason’s instructions as to corrections, all of which GW made, were: “Among the enumerated Goods after the Articles Oyl & Fruit is added—Sugar—after Millinary of all Sorts is added—Lace of all Sorts—after the Article of Gauze is added (except Boulting cloaths).

“In the fifth Resolve the word—Slaves—in the second Line is struck out, & the word—hereafter—is added between the word, any, & the word, imported.

“At the End of the sixth Resolve after Tobacco-Debts, are added the words—due to them.

“N.B. The reason of making this last Alteration is that at a time when the Government endeavours to call everything Seditious, it might be urged that the Subscribers took upon them a Sort of legislative authority, in declaring they wou’d make Regulations relative to Tobo Debts, now they have an undoubted Right to make what Regulations they please in Debts due to themselves, as the Option will still remain in the Debtor” (DLC:GW).

4GW paid for two pairs of “Snap Earings” (Cash Accounts, May 1769) for Mason’s two daughters, probably for the two middle ones named Sarah Eilbeck (1760–1823) and Mary Thomson (1762–1806).

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