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title:“A Bill to prevent the forestalling of goods, so that they may reach Continental Troops”
authors:George Mason
date written:1777-12-29

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Mason, George. "Letter to prevent the forestalling of goods, so that they may reach Continental Troops." The Papers of George Mason. Vol. 1. Ed. Bernard Bailyn and James Morton Smith. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1970. 357-58. Print.
Manuscript, Virginia State Library, Richmond, Va.

A Bill to prevent the forestalling of goods, so that they may reach Continental Troops (December 29, 1777)

[29 December 1777]
Whereas divers persons devoting themselves to Avarice & Extortion, and intending to amass Riches out of the Ruins of their Country, or treacherously to betray it into the Hands of it's Enemies, by forestalling and ingrossing the Provisions necessary for the Sustenance of it's Armies in the ensuing Campaign, have industriously bought up, and already got into their Possession so great a Proportion of the Provisions usually brought to Market at this Season, that there is little Hope of our being able to lay up such Stores thereof as will be requisite for the Purposes of the succeeding Year, and some of them refuse to sell the same to the public Agents Contractors & Commissaries or demand such prices as amount to a Refusal, because they wou'd endanger a public Bankruptcy; and others under Pretence of exporting the same for Sale, mean to Supply our Enemies therewith.
Be it therefore enacted by the General Assembly that from and after the passing of this Act, no Pork or Beef, living or dead, shall be exported out of this Commonwealth by Land or by Water by any Person whatever, except only such as shall be sent thereout for the Support of the Continental Army by the Agents Contractors or Commissaries, acting under Appointment from the united States, or any of them, and except also such Quantity as may be really necessary for the Crew of any Vessel going out upon a Voyage or Cruise. And for defeating the Avarice and wicked Intentions of those who have endeavoured to forestall the Public, and making due Provision for the American Troops, Be it further enacted that it shall not be lawful for any Person who hath purchased, or shall hereafter purchase any Pork or Beef, living or dead, and who shall have the same on Hand at the time of passing this Act, or at any time after, during it's Continuance, to sell barter or otherwise dispose of the same, or any Part thereof, unless in the Sustenance of themselves, their Families, & those in their Employ, or within their own Houses, to any Person whatever, save only to the Agents Contractors or Commissaries duly authorised to purchase for the united American States or any of them; until the Governor & Council shall by Proclamation declare that the public Wants are sufficiently provided for.
Every Person offending herein by selling exporting or endeavouring to export Pork or Beef contrary to this Act shall forfeit the treble Value thereof, one Moiety to the Commonwealth, and the other Moiety to him who will sue as well for the Commonwealth, as for himself, or the whole to the Commonwealth, if a Prosecution shall be first instituted on the public Behalf alone.
This Act shall continue in Force for & during the space of months, and from thence to the End of the next Session of Assembly and no longer.

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