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title:“The Remonstrance of the General Assembly of Virginia to the Delegates of the United American States in Congress Assembled”
authors:George Mason
date written:1779-12-10

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:08 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Sept. 27, 2023, 10:29 p.m. UTC

Mason, George. "Letter to the Delegates of the United American States in Congress Assembled." The Papers of George Mason. Vol. 2. Ed. Robert A. Rutland. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1970. 595-97. Print.
Manuscript, Virginia State Library, Richmond, Va.; Tr, Gunston Hall, Lorton, Va.

The Remonstrance of the General Assembly of Virginia to the Delegates of the United American States in Congress Assembled (December 10, 1779)

[10 December 1779]
The General Assembly of Virginia ever attentive to the Recommendations of Congress, and desirous to give the great Council of the United States every Satisfaction in their power, consistent with the Rights and Constitution of their own Commonwealth, have enacted a Law to prevent present Settlements on the North West Side of the Ohio River, and will on all occasions endeavour to manifest their Attachment to the Common interest of America, and their earnest wishes to remove every cause of Jealousy and promote that mutual confidence and harmony between the different States so essential to their true Interest and Safety.
Strongly impressed with these Sentiments, the General Assembly of Virginia cannot avoid expressing their Surpize and concern upon the information that Congress had received and countenanced petitions from certain persons stiling themselves the Vandalia & Indiana Company's, asserting claims to Lands in defiance of the Civil Authority, jurisdiction & Laws of this Commonwealth, and offering to erect a seperate government within the Territory thereof. Should Congress assume a Jurisdiction, and arrogate to themselves a Right of Adjudication not only unwarranted by, but expressly contrary to the fundamental principles of the Confederation, superseding or controuling the internal policy, Civil regulations, and Municipal Laws of this or any other State, it would be a violation of public faith, introduce a most dangerous precedent which might hereafter be urged to deprive of Territory, or subvert the sovereignty and Government of any one or more of the United States, and establish in Congress a power which in process of Time must degenerate into an intolerable despotism.2
It is notorious that the Vandalia & Indiana Company's are not the only Claimers of large tracts of Land under titles repugnant to our Laws; that several Men of great influence in some neighbouring States, are concerned in partnership with the Earl of Dunmore and other Subjects of the British King, who under purchases from the Indians claim extensive Tracts of Country between the Ohio & Mississipi Rivers, and that propositions have been made to Congress evidently calculated to secure and guarranty such purchases; so that under colour of creating a common fund, had those propositions been adopted, the Public would have been duped by the Arts of Individuals, and great part of the value of the unappropriated Lands converted to private purposes.
Congress have lately described and ascertained the Boundaries of the United States as an ultimatum in their terms of peace. The United States hold no Territory but in right of some one individual State in the Union. The Territory of each State from time immemorial, hath been fixed and determined by their Respective Charters: there being no other Rule or criterion to judge by, should these in any Instance (where there is no disputed Territory between particular States) be abridged without the consent of the States affected by it, general confusion must ensue; each State would be subjected in its turn to the incroachments of the others, and a field opened for future Wars & bloodshed; nor can any arguments be fairly urged to prove that any particular tract of Country, within the limits claimed by Congress on behalf of the United States, is not part of the chartered territory of some one of them, but must militate with equal force against the right of the United States in general; and tend to prove such tract of Country (if North West of the Ohio River) part of the British province of Canada.3
When Virginia acceded to the Articles of Confederation, her Rights of Sovereignty and jurisdiction within her own territory were reserved & secured to her, &cannot now be infringed or alterd without her Consent. She could have no latent views of extending that territory; because it had long before been expressly and clearly defined in the Act which formed her new Government.4 The General Assembly of Virginia have heretofore offered Congress to furnish lands out of their territory on the North West side the Ohio River, without purchase money, to the troops on Continental establishment of such of the Confederated States as had not unappropriated Lands for that purpose, in conjunction with the other States holding unappropriated Lands, and in such proportion as should be adjusted and settled by Congress; which offer when accepted they will most cheerfully make good to the same extent, with the provision made by Law for their own troops, if Congress shall think fit to allow the like quantities of Land to the other troops on Continental establishment. But altho' the General Assembly of Virginia would make great Sacrifices to the common interest of America (as they have already done on the subject of Representation) and will be ready to listen to any just & reasonable propositions for removing the ostensible causes of delay to the complete Ratification of the Confederation; they find themselves impelled by the duties which they owe to their Constituents, to their Posterity, to their Country and to the United States in General, to remonstrate & protest, and they do hereby, in the name and on behalf of the Commonwealth of Virginia expressly protest against any jurisdiction or right of adjudication in Congress, upon the petitions of the Vandalia or Indiana Company's, or on any other matter or thing subversive of the internal policy, civil government or sovereignty of this or any other of the United American States, or unwarranted by the Articles of the Confederation.

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