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title:“George Mason to Samuel Purviance”
authors:George Mason
date written:1782-5-20

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retrieved:Dec. 3, 2023, 9:10 p.m. UTC

Mason, George. "Letter to Samuel Purviance." The Papers of George Mason. Vol. 2. Ed. Robert A. Rutland. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1970. 714-16. Print.
Recipient's Copy, Duke University, Durham, N.C.

George Mason to Samuel Purviance (May 20, 1782)

Virginia, Gunston-Hall, May 20th. 1782.
I fear you must have thought me guilty of great Inattention, in not answering sooner your Letter respecting the back-Lands: I shou'd have done it long ago, but waited to get some particular Documents, for your more certain Information; which I have not been able to procure until very lately. I now inclose you sundry Papers, Copys & Extracts, from No. 1 to No. 7; to which I beg Leave to refer. They will inform you so fully, that it is needless for me to add much upon the Subject. Their Authenticity you may depend on.
I am not at present a Member of the Virga. Assembly, having declined serving for about a Year past; but from the best Judgement I cou'd form of the public Sentiments, while I was a Member, our Assembly will not make a greater Cession to the united States than that already offered, vizt. all the Lands on the North West Side the Ohio River; nor re[c]ede from the Conditions; particularly that of setting aside Claims under Indian Purchases, &c. & making the Proceeds of the said Lands, bona fide, a public Fund; it being the general Opinion here that many Members of Congress have been privately admitted into the Indiana, Vandalia & other Companys; which is conceived to be as effectual Bribery, as if they had received a round Sum in Guineas. The Report of the Cimmittee, & the subsequent Conduct of Congress is not of a Complexion to lessen this Suspicion. The Indiana & Vandalia Claims are in Fact Bubbles; which have long served the purpose of supporting T[ren]t and W[harto]n, & imposing upon People of sanguine &credulous Minds; most of the Lands that are good for any thing, within their claims, being possessed by People under Titles, which they have a just Right to defend, and will defend effectually, at the Peril of those who shall offer to molest them; but if the Western Lands were once ceded to Congress, without Condition or Restriction, they cou'd easily get Lands on the North West of the Ohio in Lieu of them; the Illinois & Wabash Company's too wou'd renew their Application, & probably with Success; and thus the most valuable Part of the Lands ceded by Virginia, under the popular Pretence of a public Fund, wou'd be converted to private Purposes. I have lately been consulted upon the Subject by some of the principal Members of our Assembly, and have advised the Appointment of a standing Committee, during the next Recess of the Assembly, with Power to call for Papers & Persons, to collect the proper Documents & Evidence, and to state fully the Claim & Title of Virginia for the Consideration of the next Session of Assembly. I think it probable this Method will be pursued. Virginia is certainly bound in Justice to support her public Faith, in making good & protecting the Titles honestly & fairly obtained under her Laws; especially as these Laws were founded on indubitable Right; she wou'd act infamously in doing otherwise; and I wou'd strongly recommend it to you to present a Petition to our Assembly now sitting; shewing that as a Citizen of a neighbouring State, you thought yourself safe in placing proper Confidence in the Laws of Virginia; upon the Faith of which you have advanced large Sums of Money in legal Purchases here, declaring your Apprehensions upon the Reports industriously propagated by the Indiana & Vandalia Companys, and praying that Protection which every fair & honest Purchaser has a right to expect. Dr. Arthur Lee (now a Member of the Assembly) is a very proper Person to transmit your Petition to, and I wou'd also advise Letters on the Subject to the Honble Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, Richd. Henry Lee, & General Nellson. The Assembly has but just met, & will probably continue sitting 'til late in June; tho' I think the sooner your Petition is presented, the better. On the other Side is the proper Style or Form of Address for such Petition.
I shall be glad to be advised of your having received safe the Papers, I now send; and if on this, or any future Occasion, my services can be of any Use to you, I beg you will, without ceremony, command, Sir, Your most obdt. Servt.
Enclosure No. 1. The Remonstrance of the General Assembly of Virginia to the Delegates of the United American States in Congress Assembled [see earlier document]
[Other enclosures printed separately]

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