Resolutions from James City County, Virginia, Citizens
[12 September 1793]
At a meeting of several Freeholders and Freemen of James City County convened by public advertizements at the Courthouse in Williamsburg the twelfth day of September 1793. for the purpose of taking into consideration the proclamation of the President of the United States, and other Subjects of a political nature.1
The Right Revd Doctr Madison, elected Chairman.
Robert H: Waller appointed Clerk to the meeting.
The meeting appointed a Committee of Mr Pierce, Mr Saml Griffin, Mr Lee, The Revd Mr Bracken, Mr William Walker, and Mr Coleman, to prepare Resolutions on the subject of the President’s Proclamation, who retired, and after some short time, returned and reported sundry resolutions thereon, which were severally read, approved and adopted as follows.2
1st Resolved—As common sense points out to us, it is essential to the welfare of America, that the strictest neutrality be preserved towards all the belligerent powers of Europe; so we conceive, that nothing but the madness of Party, or the Folly of Individuals can suggest any measures, which may tend to the violation of such neutrality; or, in any way, involve the United States of America, seperated as they are by nature from Europe, in her sanguinary, ambitious and destructive contests.
2d Resolved, that the late Proclamation of the President of the United States was founded in wisdom, and such as the Citizens of America, not only had a right to expect, both from his invariable patriotism and uniform attention to the Duties of his Office; but also such, as they are bound strictly to observe and enforce.
3d Resolved, that it is the sacred Duty of the governing Powers to cause all existing Treaties to be observed with that exactitude, which the Laws of nations require.3
4th Resolved That as the People of America are fully competent to the conduct and management of their own political concerns; all foreign Interference of whatever nature, ought to be considered as a most presumptuous and dangerous attack upon their Sovereignty; and therefore, should such Interference, in the smallest degree, be discovered, it ought to be instantly repelled with that indignation, which becomes Freemen who know how to value and to preserve their political Liberty.4
5th Resolved, that this Meeting is conscious of the obligations which the People of America owe to the French nation for their generous assistance during the late War, and will at all times be ready to testify towards them the most cordial Friendship.
6th Resolved that the Chairman be requested to transmit a Copy of the foregoing resolutions to the President of the United States.5
Signed, James Madison
Chairman of the Meeting
D, DLC:GW; LB, DLC:GW. These resolutions were printed in the Virginia Gazette, and General Advertiser (Richmond), 25 September.
1. This refers to GW’s Neutrality Proclamation of 22 April.
2. Robert H. Waller, Samuel Griffin, and John Bracken helped formulate similar resolutions at an earlier meeting of GW supporters in Williamsburg, Va. (see enclosure to Joseph Prentis to GW, 14 Sept.). John Pierce represented James City County in the Virginia general assembly for eleven terms, 1777–78, 1789–98. Mr. Lee probably was William Lee (1739–1795), a brother of Richard Henry Lee and U.S. commissioner to the courts of Vienna and Berlin, 1777–79. He had retired to Green Springs in James City County after his return from Europe in 1783. William Walker represented James City County in the Virginia general assembly for three terms, 1784–87. Mr. Coleman probably was William Coleman (c.1740–1819), who operated a grist and sawmill complex on Mill Creek in James City County and served in 1807 as mayor of Williamsburg.
3. This resolution had reference to the 1778 treaties of Alliance and of Amity and Commerce between the United States and France (Miller, Treaties description begins Hunter Miller, ed. Treaties and Other International Acts of the United States of America. Vol. 2, 1776-1818. Washington, D.C., 1931. description ends , 3–44).