George Washington Papers

Enclosure: Resolutions from the Albemarle County, Virginia, Citizens, 10 October 1793


Resolutions from the Albemarle County, Virginia, Citizens

[Charlottesville, Va., 10 October 1793]

At a numerus meeting of the free men of the County of Albemarle in the State of Virginia, at the Town of Charlottesville on the tenth day of October, one thousand seven hundred and ninety three, being the day appointed by Law, for holding Court, within the said County on which day they had been requested to attend for the special purpose of taking into consideration the political subjects that now engage the Publick attention, and the matter being opened to them the following persons were appointed a committee, to draw up resolutions declaratory of their sentiments, Viz., Wilson C. Nicholas, Nicholas Lewis, William Woods, Thomas M. Randolph[,] Robert Jouett, Peter Carr, James Kerr, John Key, Bernard Brown, Bazaleel Brown, William Clark, Edward Moore, Samuel Dyer[,] Samuel Murril, Thomas Garth, Joseph J. Monroe, & John Carr, who then retired and proceeded to appoint, Nicholas Lewis, their Chairman & John Carr Secretary, who came to the following resolutions, unanimously & having presented them to the People, were unanimously agreed to.1

It is conceived that all Power is vestered in the hands of the People from which it follows that all the Power which is exercised by any man or men, being derived from the people, they have a right to direct the tendency and to declare the objects, towards which, it ought to be pointed; It being considered impossible that the people can be too watchful of their liberties, it is expedient for them to adopt some mode, by which they may declare their wishes and opinions, relative to the great questions which now employ the attention of this Country, It is considered the more necessary at this particular crisis, when it is common for some men actuated probably by motives different from those of the bulk of the nation, to give their own notions and wishes as those of the People.

It is thought prudent to avoid this danger by entering into resolutions declaratory of the true sence of this County.

Resolved, that our Constitution ought to be supported against every effort that may be made to subvert it, and that all who entertain any such designs ought to be viewed as the Enemies of their Country.

Resolved that we ought carefully to avoid, by all proper means, disputes with any foreign nation whatever, as injurious to the welfare of this infant Country.

Resolved that the past services of our worthy fellow Citizen George Washington, President of the United States, entitle him to our highest respect and gratitude, and that the executive ought to be supported, in the exercise of those Powers, entrusted to them for the benefit of the People.

Resolved, that the generous support and great services rendered us by the French, in our efforts for independance, entitle them to our warmest wishes & earnest Prayers for their success.

Resolved that attempts to disunite the People of France and the people of America ought to be reprobated by the Lovers of Liberty and Equality, as they are encouraged by those who hate them.

Resolved, that those who make such attempts ought to be detested by all honest republicans, as they tend to lessen our esteem for the principles of our own Government from which we should never deviate.

Resolved, that our Connection with France is a beneficial and glorious one, that to brake it off would be a great stride towards an allience with some power unfriendly to the spirit of our Government, that such a connection ought to be warmly opposed, as it would tend to distroy our Present Government, and to introduce in its stead one unfriendly to the principles, we wish to Cherish.

Resolved, that the French revolution ought to be earnestly espoused by those who are friends to the generous principles which produced it, that it ought to be the more particularly favoured at this conjuncture, when there is such a combination of Tyrants to distroy it, that we have the more reason to interest ourselves, as we have great fears, that there are in our Country, men of Monarchical principles, unfriendly to the cause which gave birth to an event, that may serve to open the eyes of all mankind, to their natural and inherent rights.2

Resolved, that the intention of the Presidents proclamation was laudable, that as the Power of declaring peace or War, is not vested in him, the exercise of such Power, would be userpation, and contrary to the general tenor of his conduct, that it is illiberal under these circumstances to attribute, to him any such unconstitutional designs without manifest intention.3

Ordered that the foregoing resolutions be forthwith Published in the national Gazett, and the Publick Papers of Virginia,4 and a fair Copy thereof transmitted by the Chairman, to the President of the United States.

Nicholas Lewis, Chairman

John Carr Secretary

DS, in John Carr’s writing, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW.

John Carr (b. 1753), a younger brother of Thomas Jefferson’s brother-in-law Dabney Carr, was deputy clerk for Albemarle County from 1793 to 1805 and clerk of the circuit court from 1809 to 1819.

1William Woods (1738–1819) was a Baptist minister who completed Nicholas’s term in the Virginia House of Delegates, 1799–1800. He later moved to Kentucky. Thomas Mann Randolph (1768–1828), Thomas Jefferson’s son-in-law, represented Virginia in the U.S. Senate, 1793–94, and in the U.S. House, 1803–7. An infantry colonel in the War of 1812, Randolph was governor of Virginia, 1819–22. Robert Jouett (c.1756–1796) was a Revolutionary War officer and a lawyer. Peter Carr (1770–1815), Jefferson’s nephew, served four terms in the Virginia House of Delegates, 1801–4, 1807–8. James Kerr, who lived in the Ivy Creek area and was a county magistrate, became county sheriff on this date. Brothers Bernard Brown (1750–1800) and Bazaleel Brown (1754–1829) were Revolutionary War veterans who lived near White Hall and Doyles River. They were both county magistrates. William Clark[e] (d. 1800) and Edward Moore (d. 1808) represented Albemarle County in the Virginia House of Delegates at this time, Clark serving 1790–93, and Moore, 1792–95. Clark was also a magistrate, and Moore became one in 1794. Thomas Garth (c.1740–1812) and John Key (d. 1811) were formerly stewards for Thomas Jefferson. Garth was a county magistrate. Key, a former magistrate, became county coroner on this date and county sheriff in 1795. Samuel Dyer (1756–1839), a Revolutionary War veteran, was a merchant. Samuel Murrell (1756–1836) was a Revolutionary War veteran, a county magistrate, and in 1794 a militia major. In 1806 he moved to Barren County, Kentucky, where he served in the state legislature and as a presidential elector. Joseph Jones Monroe (1771–1824) was a brother of James Monroe and son-in-law of James Kerr.

2The preceding resolutions generally follow a draft for such resolutions created by James Madison and James Monroe in late August. For their role in regard to the Albemarle County resolutions, see Resolutions on Franco-American Relations, c. 27 Aug., and Monroe 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 , 15:76–80, 121–22.

3This resolution evidently was addressing the issues raised by “Helvidius” (James Madison) in five essays printed in the Gazette of the United States (Philadelphia) from 24 Aug. to 18 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 , 15:66–74, 80–87, 95–103, 106–110, 113–20). “Helvidius” responded to what he saw as dangerous claims of executive authority made by “Pacificus” (Alexander Hamilton) in an essay printed in the Gazette of 29 June (Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 15:33–43), first by denying that those claims were valid and, second, by denying that GW’s Neutrality Proclamation involved any such claim of authority.

4The resolutions were not printed in the Philadelphia National Gazette before that paper was discontinued, after the issue of 26 October. They were, however, printed in Dunlap’s American Daily Advertiser (Philadelphia), 4 December.

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