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title:“George Mason to Martin Cockburn”
authors:George Mason
date written:1775-8-22

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:18 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Dec. 6, 2023, 8:55 a.m. UTC

Mason, George. "Letter to Martin Cockburn." The Papers of George Mason. Vol. 1. Ed. Bernard Bailyn and James Morton Smith. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1970. 249-52. Print.
Recipient's Copy, Mason Papers, Library of Congress

George Mason to Martin Cockburn (August 22, 1775)

Richmond Augt 22d 1775.
Colo. Blackburn telling me he shall set out for Pr. Wm. [Prince William County] to-day, I take the opportunity of informing you that I am now pretty well, tho' I was exceedingly indisposed for several Days, some of which I was confined to my Bed, but a little fresh Air, good Water, & exceeding kind & hospitable Treatment from a neighbouring Country Gentleman has recover'd me. I have found my Apprehensions in being sent to this Convention but too well verified. Before the Choice of Delegates for the ensueing Congress, I was personally applied to by more than two thirds of the Members, insisting upon my serving at the Congress, but by assuring them that I cou'd not possibly attend, I prevailed on them not to name me, except abt. twenty who wou'd take no Excuse. A Day or two after, upon Colo. Bland's Resignation, a strong Party was form'd at the Head of which were Colo. Henry, Mr. Jefferson, & Colo. Carrington, for sending me to the Congress at all Events, laying it down as a Rule that I wou'd not refuse if ordered by my Country: in Consequence of this, just before the Ballot, I publickly called upon in Convention, & obliged to make a public Excuse, & give my Reasons for refusal, in doing which I felt myself more distress'd than ever I was in my Life, especially when I saw Tears run down the President's cheeks. I took Occasion, at the same time, to recommend Colo. Francis Lee; who was accordingly chosen in the room of Colo. Bland. But my getting clear of this Appointment has avail'd me little, as I have been since, in Spite of every thing I cou'd do to the Contrary, put upon the Committee of Safety; which is even more inconvenient & disagreeable to me than going to the Congress. I endeavour'd to excuse myself, & beg'd the Convention wou'd permit me to resign; but was answer'd by an universal NO. The 3,000 regular Troops (exclusive of the western frontier Garrisons) first proposed to be raised are reduced to 1,000 to be form'd into two regiments, one of eight the other of seven Compys. These 15 Compys are to be raised in the 15 western Shoar Districts, the Captains & subaltern Officers to be appointed by the Committee of each County in the District. The first Regiment is commanded by Colo. Henry, Lieut. Colo. Christian, & Majr. Eppes, the second Regiment by Colo. Wm. Woodford, Lieut. Colo. Chs. Scott & Majr. Spotswood. A Regiment of Minute-Men of 68o rank & file, is to be raised in the Eastern Shoar District, & a regiment of 500 rank & File in each of the fifteen Districts on the Western Shoar with the same Field & Staff Officers, Chaplain, Surgeon &c. as the regiments of regulars, & wth. the same Pay, when upon Duty in the District, or drawn into actual Service—the officers to be appointed by the District Committees, &commissioned by the Committee of Safety—the militia Officers are all to give up their present Commissions, & be nominated by the respective Committees of the Counties, the militia Companys to be exercised once a Fortnight, except the three winter Months, & general County Musters twice a Year. Arms Tents &c. to be provided for the Minute-Men at the public Charge. These are the great out-lines of our Plan of Defence which I think a good, tho' a very expensive one; the particulars wou'd take up too much room for a common Letter; paricular rules are drawn up for the better regulation & Government of the Army; to which both the Minute-Men and Militia are subjected when drawn out into actual Service. The volunteer Companys are all discharged & melted down in the plan for the Regiments of Minute-Men. These Informations you may rely on, as the Ordinance Yesterday received it's final fiat.
There are several ordinances under the Consideration of the Committee of the whole House & nearly compleated, vizt. one for the raising of Money & imposing Taxes, one for furnishing Arms & encouraging the making Salt-petre, Sulphur, Powder & Lead, one for appointing a Committee of safety & defining it's Powers, which are very extensive, one for regulating the Elections of Delegates & County Committees, & one for establishing a general Test. The Maryland Convention not concurring in the Resolve for imediatly stoping the Export of Provision[s], it became necessary to rescind ours; that our ports, as well [as] theirs, might be kept open til the 10th of Sept.
A very sensible petition from the merchants who are Natives of great Britain has been put into my Hands, & will be presented to-day or to-morrow praying that some certain Line of Conduct may be prescribed to them, & a recommendation to the people from the Convention, respecting them. As I drew the ordinance for a general Test, I have endeavour'd to make it such as no good Man wou'd object to: the Merchants here declare themselves well pleased with it. Pray excuse me to Mr. Massey, Mr. McCarty, Mr. Henderson, & all enquiring Friends for not writing to them, & tell them I consider all public news wrote to you, as to be communicated to them, & such of my Constitutents as desire Information.
I expect the Convention will rise abt. the End of this or the Begining of next week. The Members of the Committee of safety (of which I send you a List) meet next Friday; how long I shall be detain'd on that Business God only knows. My kind Regards to my dear Family, & to the Family at Spring-field conclude me. Dr Sir Yr. affectn. Friend & Sert.
P. S. Every Ordinance goes thro all the Formalities of a Bill in the House of Burgesses has three readings &c. before it is passed, & in every respect wears the Face of Law. Resolves or Recommendations being no longer trusted to in Matters of Importance.

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