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tion, and joining in the measures of the United States, shall be entitled to all the advantages of this Union, but no other colony shall be admitted into the same, unless such admission be agreed to by nine States." This evidently relates to the other British colonies of Nova Scotia and the Floridas, neither of which is to be admitted into the Union, without the concurrence of nine States. Yet under color of this article, Congress assumes the power of curtailing and dividing the different States, of depriving them of territory for the benefit of the United States (directly contrary to the Confederation), of demanding cessions, and of erecting new States. There is no power whatsoever which they may not with equal propriety arrogate to themselves, and pretend to derive it from the Articles of the Confederation. Did the different States view this subject impartially, as they ought, no little jealousy, envy, or pique to any particular State, no local or party views would induce them to connive at innovations and unwarranted assumptions of power, which if continued, must end either in the dissolution of the federal Union or the destruction of American liberty. To show, therefore, the total absence of power in Congress on this occasion, and to expose the danger of their usurping it, I should conceive a very useful part of the work confided to the committee ; and preserving good manners and decency of language, I think the subject can hardly be too freely treated.

It is worthy of observation that the arguments against the chartered title of Virginia to the country on the north-west side the Ohio, if they prove anything, will prove it part of the new British province of Quebec or Canada. Because by an act of Parliament in the latter end of 1773, or the beginning of 1774, the boundaries of the province of Quebec or Canada were extended so as to include the whole country between the Ohio and the Mississippi rivers ; and this being done before the separation of the colonies, or the Declaration of Independence, when we professed ourselves British subjects, and acknowledged the obligation of their laws, except on the subject of taxation, the authority of Parliament to make the said act can not be impeached upon any other ground than the title of some of the old colonies, under their charters, to the country so included; and that the British government had no right to add to their new province of Quebec

THE VIRGINIA CHARTERS.

31

what had been, long before, solemnly granted to others. Aware of this, and to prevent too sudden an alarm or opposition, a proviso was inserted in the act, saving to the other colonies the lands within their respective charters. If, therefore, Congress taking upon itself the insidious and dangerous work of curtailing the boundaries of the different States, should set aside the title of Virginia, and Virginia acquiesces in it, that country will thenceforward be placed in the same predicament with the undisputed part of Canada, and the other British provinces of Nova Scotia, and the East and West Floridas; and what claim or demand could the United States or any of them, have upon it, unless they can conquer and hold it by force of arms ? Or upon a negotiation of peace with Great Britain, what argument could we fairly urge for contracting the lately extended boundaries of Canada and reducing it to its former limits ? Or what would any neutral or mediating power probably say to us upon such an occasion ? The consequences of suffering a British colony to surround great part of the United States, and extend itself between them and the numerous tribes of western Indians, are too obvious to need explanation ; and this subject is the more important, as it may easily be foreseen that settling the bounds of Canada will be one of the most difficult objects of a treaty.

I have not by me the copies of the Virginia charters in 1606 and 1609, or I should have made some remarks on them, endeavoring to show that Payne's construction of them is capricious and absurd, as several of his other strictures are, and some of them founded in misrepresentation and falsehood ; that the description and boundaries are intelligible, and admit a natural and easy construction, the charter of 1609 confirming and enlarging, not destroying that of 1606; that though the Virginia Company was dissolved, and the government resumed by the crown, the charter, so far as the settlers and their posterity are interested, or affected, remains valid, and among other things, the covenant in the charter of 1606, that no new colony should be settled to the westward, which seems to have been one of the causes of the great western extension of the second charter, whereby the repetition of the former clause became unnecessary; that the ancient method of granting lands, established by the Virginia Company in virtue of their charter, always continued under the king's government ; that the charter granted to the colony of Virginia in 1667, by King Charles the second, has reference to the country described in the former charter of 1609, and by recognising and confirming the ancient custom of granting lands for the importation of inhabitants, the privileges of the people, and the jurisdiction of the colony, has forever barred the crown from dismembering the colony, or refusing to grant lands to persons coming hither to settle, or importing others; that the crown has always considered the charter of 1667 in this light, and acted accordingly, until the present reign, when all reverence to law and justice was thrown aside, and a resolution formed to abolish the ancient constitution of the colonies, annihilate their charters, and establish despotism and slavery in their stead ; that the proclamation of 1763 therefore was absolutely illegal and void, as well as the scheme for erecting the new province of Vandalia, even if no lands had been previously granted, or inhabitants settled beyond the Alleghany Mountains. And as to what has been said of the acquiescence and approbation of the government of Virginia, the utmost that is asserted only shows that the privy-council of Virginia (holding their places at pleasure, and totally dependent upon the ministry) did not venture to oppose it.

The charters, I presume, may all be found in the House of Delegates' office : I had them all in my possession (made up in one bundle) when I was formerly appointed to settle some matters of jurisdiction in Chespeake Bay and Potomac River with the State of Maryland, but our Assembly not thinking it prudent to enter into any engagement with that State, while it refused confederating, I returned the charters into the House of Delegates at the clerk's table. If any of the observations which I have scattered up and down, without method or order, will be of use, they are very much at the committee's service. And though I hope to be excused from taking any particular part in this business, for the reasons I have already given, yet if the gentlemen of the committee conceive I can be useful to them on any occasion, I will wait on them (my health permitting) at any time and place they shall be pleased to appoint, for I can truly say there are no men in the United States in whom I can more cordially confide, or with whom I would more cheerfully act.

I must entreat them to consider this long epistle as a general

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LETTER TO HIS SON GEORGE.

33

letter, and excuse my not writing to each particular member. must entreat them, too, to proceed in the business, without delaying it on account of

Dear Sir,
Your affectionate and obedient servant,

G. MASON. Edmund Randolph, Esquire,

Attorney-General.'

George Mason, Jr., was still in France, and John Adams, who was in Paris in the winter of 1782–3 negotiating the treaty of peace, mentions in his journal Mr. Mason among other Americans to whom he extends his hospitality. The following letter from Colonel Mason to his son gives some public as well as personal details which are not without interest. There would seem to have been a number of his countrymen abroad, at this time, in embarrassed circumstances, to whom Mr. Mason had given assistance, and his father endorses this liberality in the same spirit of openhanded sympathy.

“ GUNSTON HALL, January 8th, 1783.

“ As to the money you have spent in Europe, provided you can satisfy me that it has not been spent in extravagance, dissipation, or idle parade, I don't regard it. It is true, I have a large family to provide for; and that I am determined, from motives of morality and duty, to do justice to them all ; it is certain also that I have not lost less than ten thousand pounds sterling by the war, in the depreciation of paper money and the loss of the profits of my estate ; but think this a cheap purchase of liberty and independence. I thank God, I have been able, by adopting principles of strict economy and frugality, to keep my principal, I mean my country estate, unimpaired, and I have suffered little by the depredations of the enemy. I have at this time, two years' rents (you know mine are all tobacco rents) in arrear and two crops uninspected ; so that if a peace happens, it will find me plentiful handed in the article of tobacco, which

1 Mason Papers.

Vol. II.-3

will then be

very
valuable. The

money it has cost you to relieve the distresses of your unfortunate countrymen was worthily expended, and you will receive retribution, with large interest, in heaven-but in order to shorten the time of credit and also to entitle myself to some proportion of the merit, I shall insist upon replacing to you every shilling of it here ; I hope you will therefore keep an exact account of it.

“I beg you will freely communicate to me the situation of your affairs ; and if there should be a necessity of making you remittances, I will endeavor to do it at all events, though it must be by selling some of the produce of my estate at an undervalue. I am now pretty far advanced in life, and all my views are centred in the happiness and welfare of my children—you will therefore find from me every indulgence which you have a right to expect from an affectionate parent.

“I have been for some time in retirement and shall not probably return again to public life; my anxiety for my country in these times of danger, makes me sometimes dabble a little in politics, and keep up a correspondence with some men upon the public stage. You know I am not apt to form opinions lightly and without due examination. And I can venture to say that the French court and nation may confide in the honor and good faith of America. We reflect with gratitude on the important aids France has given us; but she must not, and I hope will not, attempt to lead us into a war of ambition or conquest, or trail us around the mysterious circle of European politics. We have little news worth communicating-nothing of consequence has happened here this campaign, the enemy having generally kept close within their lines, and the American army not strong enough to force them. We have a long time expected the evacuation of Charlestown, the enemy having dismantled their outworks and embarked their heavy artillery and some of their troops. However, by the last accounts (in December) they had still a garrison there. By late accounts from Kentucky, we are informed that General Clarke, with twelve hundred volunteers, had crossed the Ohio river and destroyed six of the Shawnese towns, destroying also about two thousand barrels of their corn and bringing off furs and other plunder to the value of three thousand pounds, which was sold, and the money divided among his men; this will

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