Resolutions of Caroline County, Virginia, Citizens
[10 September 1793]
At a very Numerous Meeting of the Substantial Planters, Farmers & other Yeomanry of the County of Caroline in Virginia, at the Court House on the 10th day of September 1793; being the day of holding the County Court, on which they had been previously requested to Assemble for the purpose of taking into consideration the present political State of American Affairs.1
It being considered that it is at all times the right, and at certain periods the duty of the People to declare their principles and Opinions on Subjects which concern the National Interest; and that in the present juncture, the exercise of that duty is rendered indispensible, By the prevailing practice of Declaratory Resolutions in places where the Inhabitants can more easily Assemble & Consult than in the Countrey at large; but where Interests, Views & Political Opinions different from those of the great body of the people, may happen to predominate; whence there may be danger of unfair & delusive inferences concerning the true and General sense of the People. In declaring Ours, however, since from our remote situation from the great Scene of Public transactions, we cannot possess a timely & correct knowledge of political incidents, & the Conduct of persons concerned therein; it is judged most prudent to wait with a decent reserve, for clear & full information relative thereto: and in Public Declarations to abide by those great principles, just sentiments and established truths, which can be little affected by transitory or Personal Occurrences.
Therefore, as the Unanimous sence of this Meeting,
Resolved That the Constitution of the United States, Ought to be firmly and vigilantly supported against all direct or indirect attempts that may be made to subvert or violate the same.
Resolved That, as it is the true Interest of the United States to cultivate the preservation of Peace by all just & Honorable Means, the Executive Authority ought to be supported in the exercise of it’s Constitutional Powers & functions for inforcing the laws existing for that purpose.
Resolved That the eminent Virtues & Services of our Illustrious fellow-Citizen George Washington, President of the United States, entitle him to the highest respect, confidence, and lasting Gratitude of his Countrey; Whose peace, Liberty & Safety must ever remind It of his distinguished Agency in the Attainment of those inestimable blessings.
Resolved That the eminent and generous Aids rendered to the United States in their Arduous strugle for liberty, by the French Nation, ought ever to be remembered and acknowledged with gratitude and kind affection; And that the Spectable exhibited by the glorious & severe contest It is now engaged in for it’s own liberty, ought & must be peculiarly interesting to the Wishes, the friendship & the Sympathy of the people of America.
Resolved—That all Attempts which may be made, in whatever form or disguise, to alienate the good Will of the people of America from the cause of Liberty & republican Government in France, have an evident tendency to weaken their Affection for the free principles of their own Governments, and manifest designs which ought to be narrowly watched & seasonably counteracted.
Resolved That such Attempts to disunite Nations mutually attached to the cause of Liberty, and viewed with unfriendly Eyes by all who hate it; ought to be more particularly reprobated at the present crisis, when such Vast Efforts are making by a combination of Princes—& Nobles to crush an example, which they fear may open the Eyes of all Mankind to their Natural & political rights.
Resolved That a dissolution of the Honorable & beneficial connection between the United States and France, must Obviously be Attempted with a view to forward a plan of a more intimate Union & connection of the former with Great Britain; as a leading step towards Assimilating the American Government to the form and Spirit of the British Monarchy: And these Apprehensions will be greatly strengthened, if it shall appear that the Active Zeal displayed in propogating prejudices against the French Nation & Revolution, hath proceeded from persons either disaffected to the American Revolution, Or of known Monarchical Principles.2
Resolved That all foreign Ministers to the United States ought to Negotiate the purposes of their Mission with the President. If at any time a difference in Opinion should happen, on the exposition of Treaties, or other subjects, the same ought to be stated by the Minister to the Governing powers of his Nation; that on a discussion between the two Governments, an Amicable Adjustment may be effected, & peace & friendship preserved: And all Applications of a Minister, in such a Case, to the people, who Act with foreign Nations, only by their representatives, in the different departments of Government, are highly improper, & tend to create parties & dissentions amongst Us. Nevertheless if a Minister shall adopt such improper Conduct on any Occasion, altho’ the Application ought to be treated with Contempt by the people, yet it should not affect his Nation, Unless It shall Avow & justify his conduct therein. We therefore declare our disapprobation of certain Attempts in late News-paper publications, to make some alledged behaviour of that kind in the Minister of the French Nation, if any such really existed, the means of withdrawing our affection, either from the beloved President, or our Respectable Allies.3
Ordered That the foregoing Resolutions be forthwith printed in the Several News-papers in the State; and that a fair Copy of them be transmitted to the President of the United States by the Chairman.
Attest Wm Nelson Secretary4
By Order of the Meeting
Edmd Pendleton Chairman
DS, in Edmund Pendleton’s writing, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.
The resolutions were printed in the Virginia Gazette, and General Advertiser (Richmond), 25 Sept.; Virginia Herald, and Fredericksburg Advertiser, 26 Sept.; and other newspapers. For GW’s response, see GW to Pendleton, 23 Sept. (first letter).
1. The notifications for this meeting had been distributed by John Taylor at the suggestion of James Madison (see Taylor to Madison, 25 Sept., Madison Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds. The Papers of James Madison, Congressional Series. 17 vols. Chicago and Charlottesville, Va., 1962–91. description ends , 15:123).
2. The preamble and preceding resolutions closely follow a draft produced by Madison in late August. For that text and discussion of efforts by Madison and James Monroe to have such resolutions passed at meetings in Virginia, see Resolutions on Franco-American Relations, c.27 Aug., and Madison to Thomas Jefferson, 2 Sept., Madison Papers description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds. The Papers of James Madison, Congressional Series. 17 vols. Chicago and Charlottesville, Va., 1962–91. description ends , 15:76–80, 92–95 (see also Jefferson Papers description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds. The Papers of Thomas Jefferson. 40 vols. to date. Princeton, N.J., 1950—. description ends , 27:16–20).
3. In a public letter of 12 Aug., John Jay and Rufus King had asserted that French minister Edmond Genet “had said he would Appeal to the People from certain decisions of the President” (Diary; or Loudon’s Register [New York], 12 Aug. 1793), a charge denied by Genet in a letter to GW of 13 Aug. that was made public by late August.
4. William Nelson was the Caroline County clerk.