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Source & Citation Info

title:“Fairfax County Petition regarding Status of Prewar Debts Owed to British Creditors”
authors:George Mason
date written:1783-6-18

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:09 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Dec. 4, 2023, 1:08 a.m. UTC

Mason, George. "Letter to British Creditors." The Papers of George Mason. Vol. 2. Ed. Robert A. Rutland. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1970. 783-85. Print.
Manuscript, Virginia State Library, Richmond, Va.

Fairfax County Petition regarding Status of Prewar Debts Owed to British Creditors (June 18, 1783)

[18 June 1783]
The Petition of the Subscribers, Inhabitants of the County of Fairfax, in Behalf of themselves and their fellow-Citizens.
To the honourable the Speaker & Members of both Houses of Assembly
That the nominal Sum of about £272,588.0.0 has been paid, at various times, into the Public Treasury, in Paper-Money, by sundry Debtors, in Discharge of their Debts due to British Creditors; which Sum, adjusted according to the legal Scale of Depreciation, & the respective different Sums and times of Payment, amounts to the Value of about , 15,000.0.0 only in Gold or Silver; so that there now remains, to be made good, according to the late Treaty of Peace, either by the individual Debtors, or the Commonwealth, about the Sum of 257,588.0.0 in Specie or it's Value: And your Petitioners humbly conceive, to do Justice to all Parties, to the State as well as to Individuals, that Repayment of the Principal with Interest ought to be made out of the public Treasury, to each & every Individual having paid Paper-Money as above mentioned; according to it's real Value in Specie (to be adjusted by the legal Scale of Depreciation) at the time each Sum respectively was placed in the Treasury; and that such Debts, as well as all other private Debts & Contracts, shou'd be left to the common Course of the Laws of the Land, without any other Interfereance of the Legislature.1
But instead of some such fair & honest Mode of Settlement, to which we think no well-meaning Man can object, your Petitioners are inform'd that Application has been, or will be made to the General Assembly, to make good to the abovementioned Debtors, not at the real but the nominal Value, the said Sum paid into the Treasury; to exonerate them from their Creditors (altho' some of them have not paid the Value of six Pence in the Pound) to burden the Public with the Difference; and levy it by Taxes upon the People. Your Petitioners can not conceive any thing more unjust & iniquitous than such an Attempt, or more oppressive in it's Execution.2
The Revenue of Necessity required for the Support of Civil Government, for keeping the Country in a proper & safe Posture of Defence by a well regulated Militia,3 for the Arrears due to the Army, for the regular Payment of the Interest of the national Debt, and Establishment of certain Funds for discharging the Principal in a due Course of Years, will your Petitioners are convinced, create as great Taxes [a]s the People are able to pay; to these, and to all necessary Charges for the real &common Benefit of the Community, we are ready to contribute, most chearfully, our just Proportion. But we shou'd be unworthy the Name of free-Men, unworthy of the great Success with which God has blessed our Efforts in the late glorious Contest for Liberty, if we submitted to Taxes imposed for paying the private Debts of a few individuals, who have no greater Merit, and who have encountered no greater Difficultys or Dangers, in the Common Cause, than their Neighbours. In such a Case, we shou'd hold ourselves bound, by the Duty which we owe to our Country and our Posterity, to associate with our fellow-Citizens in resisting the Payment, by every Means in our Power. But Your Petitioners confide in the Wisdom & Justice of the General Assembly against all such Attempts to lay unnecessary unjust or oppressive Taxes; and humbly hope that they will adjust & settle, between the public & Individuals, the Sum of Paper-Money which bath been paid to the Treasury, on Account of Initial Debts, according to the Principles of Equity & Justice.
And your Petitioners will every pray.
[Here followed the names of George Mason and eighty-five other freeholders.]

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