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title:“Voters of Fairfax County to George Mason and Philip Alexander”
date written:1777-8-20

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:31 a.m. UTC
retrieved:Nov. 29, 2023, 5:45 p.m. UTC

"Letter to George Mason and Philip Alexander." The Papers of George Mason. Vol. 1. Ed. Bernard Bailyn and James Morton Smith. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1970. 346-49. Print.

Voters of Fairfax County to George Mason and Philip Alexander (August 20, 1777)

[20 August 1777]
GENTLEMEN, We your constituents of the county of Fairfax, and town of Alexandria, are greatly alarmed at the HIGH PRICE of every COMMODITY now exposed to sale, and at the distant prospect of their being cheaper, unless some method can be fallen on to lessen the immense quantity of money now in circulation. This done, we apprehend will be a great means of raising the value of money, lowering the price of goods, workmens wages, and enable the soldier to supply himself with more necessaries, and render his service more easy and cheerful to himself, and indeed more beneficial to his country.
We are of opinion, that OUR MONEY, and money in general, has a proper circulation through the country, which the planter, the farmer, and every person that has had any dealing (and most have in some way) must have experienced, from the very high prices they have received from the purchaser, for every article they have sold, some few excepted.
That a tax be immediately laid and collected, we think, would be one great means of giving a proper value to our money. It would lessen the quantity, and consequently be productive of great good to the community.
We think the people are not only able to pay the tax, but that they will cheerfully submit to it; the people in this quarter appear well disposed for the purpose. Therefore we strongly recommend it to you, and enjoin you, to use your utmost e[n]deavours to obtain a law to pass to tax the people of this state, in such sort as your Honourable House shall judge proper.
We are of the opinion, that a GENERAL ASSESSMENT would be the most equi[t]able, and the only way to raise a sum adequate to the purpose. Lo[n]g experience has taught us, that our mode of taxation hitherto adopted never raised the money intended without many additions, or long continuance of the taxes. Let us endeavour to remedy it.
We are of opinion, that opening the COURTS of JUSTICE would operate for the publick good. The people would then pay their debts, or be legally compelled to it. This would enable the merchant to extend his trade; there would be larger importations; and it would be a great means of stimulating us to industry, and prevent our laying out money in superfluous things, that we can well do without. Another salutary end would be obtained; licentiousness would be restrained, and every thing again returned to its prop[e]r channel.
We desire, that you use your utmost interest that the legislature (at any risk) would fall on ways and means to import A LARGE QUANTITY OF SALT, for the use of the people in this state. The introduction of this necessary article would ease their minds, and enable them to support their families much better than they can without. They are willing to pay almost any price, if it could be purchased with money. Some provisions also might be made for those who cannot, at any rate, purchase. Should laws for this purpose (which we judge salutary) take place, the immense quantity of money in circulation would decrease, its credit and value increase; our loan office would greatly experience the benefit; every kind of goods would fall in price; the officer and soldier (who claim your greatest care and attention) that are now, or may be hereafter, in the service of his country, to preserve and to secure to us every thing that is dear and valuable, would procure necessaries cheaper, and be enabled to live upon his pay, which at present he cannot do. We might then expect to keep up an army, and it would increase. In our present situation, its duration may have a short existence. Perhaps this may be the last campaign. Should this be the case, we may at last be obliged to submit to the unconditional terms of a tyrant king, corrupt ministry, a venal parliament, and a cruel banditti. Hard terms! forbid it, Heaven!
We hope you join us in opinion, that these at least are probable means to obtain the desired end. We therefore again enjoin you to use your greatest efforts that such laws do pass, by which means you will secure to yourselves the esteem and confidence (we hope) of the publick in general, and of your constituents in particular.
We request, that particular inquiry may be made how the PUBLICK MONEY HAS BEEN EXPENDED; if proper persons are at the head of several departments in which they are employed, not only those that are in the pay of this state, but those that act in this state in the continental service, because we must not only pay our own expenses, but a large proportion of the general expense. Let inquiry be made into the salary given to each person in the several departments of this commonwealth; let every man in office be well paid, but let none make fortunes at the expense of their country. ASSIZE COURTS, and CIRCUIT JUDGES would be a great ease to the people, less expensive to the country, many villanies would appear that are [n]ow concealed; consequently, many would suffer condign punishment that now escape, for reasons too obvious to mention. This has long been thought highly useful. Why has [n]ot a law already passed to procure so great a good to the publick?
If a STATE ENSURANCE OFFICE was opened (and surely it may be done) at least it is worthy [of] the notice of the legislature, it would be a great means of introducing goods of every kind. In consequence, they would be cheaper; the farmer, indeed every body, would experience the use; and the happiness it would diffuse through all ranks of mankind wou'd make them cheerfully pay any tax that the legislature may think necessary to impose for the good of the country.
As we put the greatest confidence in your attachment and attention to the good of your coun[t]ry, we expect that you will pay a proper regard to our opinion and requests in the matters to you recommended. We are, gentlemen, with esteem, your humble servants,

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