Sunday, October 09, 2016

Four weeks after the Fincastle Resolutions: The Staunton Instructions, 22 February 1775

Yet another document from Scotch-Irish Virginia, given to their delegates to the House of Burgesses. As historian Oren Frederick Morton wrote, “Augusta County had been established by the Scotch-Irish and was dominated by them. The temper of its people will appear in the instructions drawn up at Staunton, February 22, 1775”:

"The people of Augusta are impressed with just sentiments of loyalty to his majesty, King George, whose title to the crown of Great Britain rests on no other foundation than the liberty of all his subjects. We have respect for the parent state, which respect is founded on religion, on law, and on the genuine principles of the British constitution. On these principles do we earnestly desire to see harmony and good understanding restored between Great Britain and America.

Many of us and our forefathers left our native land and explored this once savage wilderness to enjoy the free exercise of the rights of conscience and of human nature. These rights we are fully resolved with our lives and fortunes inviolably to preserve; nor will we surrender such inestimable blessings, the purchase of toil and danger, to any ministry, to any parliament, or any body of men by whom we are not represented, and in whom we are not represented, and in whose decisions, therefore, we have no voice.

We are determined to maintain unimpaired that liberty which is the gift of Heaven to the subjects of Britain's empire, and will most cordially join our countrymen in such measures as may be necessary to secure and perpetuate the ancient, just, and legal rights of this colony and all British subjects."

The meeting which produced that statement is described in detail here, with a fuller version of the statement too. The key men were Donegal-born Thomas Lewis and Captain Samuel McDowell. Others in the gathering whose names were recorded were Edinburgh-born Rev Alexander Balmaine, Sampson Mathews, Captain Alexander McClanahan, Michael Bowyer, William Lewis and Captain George Mathews.