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

permanent link
to this version:
https://consource.org/document/george-mason-to-samuel-purviance-1782-5-20/20130122080041/
last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:00 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Sept. 20, 2019, 10:54 p.m. UTC

transcription
citation:
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.
manuscript
source:
Recipient's Copy, Duke University, Durham, N.C.

George Mason to Samuel Purviance (May 20, 1782)

Virginia, Gunston-Hall, May 20th. 1782.
SIR
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.
G MASON
TO THE HONBLE THE SPEAKERS, AND GENTLEMEN OF BOTH HOUSES OF ASSEMBLY IN THE COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
THE PETITION OF——
HUMBLY SHEWETH
THAT——
8 ENCLOSURES
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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