Log In Register

Source & Citation Info

title:“An Ordinance for Establishing a General Test Oath”
authors:George Mason
date written:1775-8-19

permanent link
to this version:
last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:16 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Feb. 25, 2024, 9:40 a.m. UTC

Mason, George. "An Ordinance for Establishing a General Test Oath." The Papers of George Mason. Vol. 1. Ed. Bernard Bailyn and James Morton Smith. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1970. 246-49. Print.
Transcription, Virginia State Library, Richmond, Va.

An Ordinance for Establishing a General Test Oath (August 19, 1775)

[19 August 1775]
WHEREAS the long premeditated and now avowed Design of the British Ministry to force Loyal Colonists into an abject surrender of their Rights and Priveleges as Freemen, are still persisted in by the British Government and have been lately attempted to be carried into execution in this Colony by Lord Dunmore as Chief Majestrate, by an unexampled & wanton suspension of the Law of the Land & Institution of that horrid Supporter of Tyranny, Law Martial, by seising, and imprisoning and transporting the persons of our peaceable Citizens, by declaring our Servants and Slaves free and inviting & arming them to assassinate their Masters, our innocent Wifes and helpless Children, which cruel and horrid Measures have been countenanced & supported by some wicked Persons among ourselves in wanton violation of their plighted Faith voluntarily offered in support of our late happy Constitution: It is now become indispensably necessary, by an Appeal to Heaven, to enter into a more firm Union for our common defence, and to distinguish those deserving our Protection from such as are Enemies to our just Cause.1
Be it therefore ordained by the Delegates and Representatives of the several Counties and Corporations within this Colony and Dominion of Virginia now assembled in General Convention And it is hereby Ordained by the authority of the same, that the Committees of the several Counties & Corporations within this Colony, having themselves first taken & subscribed [th]e following Oath in Committee, shall and they are hereby authorized and required to appoint such of their Members as they may think proper, to render the same to be taken & subscribed by each & every Freeman within their Counties above the age of sixteen years Vizt. "I ______ ______ of the Parish of ________ in the County of _______ in the Colony of Virginia do solemnly & sincerely promise & declare that I will not directly or indirectly violate the Association now in force in this Colony but that I will conform thereto so long as the same shall continue in force; that I will not take up Arms against the good People Freemen Inhabitants of this Colony or any other part of America acting under & in support of the Ordinances of general Convention during the unhappy differences now subsisting between Great Britain and America, nor will I directly or indirectly by correspondence, Signs or Tokens or by any ways or means aid, assist, or support any Power that shall or may be emploied against the good People of America: And I do declare that I will defend and support this Colony against all Invasions & Insurrections whatsoever that shall or may be made against the Rights & Liberties of America according to my abilities & pursuant to ordinances of General Convention—So help me God—2
Provided always that the people called Quakers shall affirm to the same effect & also subscribe the same.
And be it farther Ordained by the authority aforesaid that the Members of the Committee appointed as aforesaid & each & every [one] of them be and they are hereby authorized & required to tender the said Declaration to be made sworn to, affirmed & subscribed as aforesaid to the several persons, within such districts as shall be described by the said Committees and to return to their respective Committees the names of the persons taking and subscribing the same, also a List of those who shall refuse so to do, within three months after their appointment, to be carefully filed & preserved by the said Committees, and every person so appointed & neglecting to return such List shall be subject to a fine to be inflicted by the respective Committees not exceeding—Pounds.
And be it farther Ordained that the respective Committees shall and may and they are hereby required to summon all persons so refusing to take the Oath or make the Affirmation aforesaid to appear before them in Committee, where the said Oath shall be again tendered to such persons to be taken and subscribed and upon their refusing so to do, the said Committee shall enter such refusal in their Minutes describing the persons so refusing, their place of Nativity, Residence and occupation & thereupon order every person so refusing to be disarmed & not to depart above five Miles from their place of Residence 'til the further order of the said Committee, without a special Licence in writing from them. And in case such Persons shall fail to appear before the said Committee when duly summon'd the said Committee shall order them to be summoned again & in case of a second failure to attend, upon proof on Oath of such Summons being served, the said Committee shall proceed against them in the same manner as is directed against persons appearing & refusing as aforementioned.
And be it farther ordained that all & every person so refusing or failing to attend the Committees as aforesaid & being entered on their Minutes as Delinquents shall & they are hereby declared to be subject to the payment of treble Taxes as imposed by Ordinance of last Convention during the Continuance therof; to commence & be payable by or before the tenth Day of June next, to be levied &collected by such persons as the Committee of the several Countys shall appoint, who shall account for the same with the Treasurer of this Colony for the time being in the same manner and under the like Penalties as are directed by the last mentioned Ordinance respecting the collection of the other Taxes imposed thereby. And to the end that such persons may be distinguished from the worthy Members of the Community, the County Committees aforesaid shall publish the names of such Delinquents in the Virginia Gazette— Provided always and be it further Ordained that if any such Delinquent shall at any time within six months after his refusal being entered as aforesaid, be willing & shall make Oath (or being one of the People called Quakers shall make affirmation) as aforesaid before the Committee of the County wherein his default was entered, such Committee shall admit him so to do & grant Certificate thereof and in such case, such Delinquent shall thence forward be exempt from all Penalties and Restrictions imposed by this Ordinance, in the same manner as if he had originally conformed to the Regulations thereof.

Resource Metadata