November 1, 1779
Amherst County, Virginia
Prepared by Paul E. Pennebaker

Legislative Petition, 1779 - Amherst Co. VA To the Honourable the Speaker & Gentlemen of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia The Petition of Divers of the Freeholders and other Free Inhabitants of Amherst County

Humbly Showeth
That some of your Petitioners have seen and the rest have heard of the Draft of a Bill that into your Hon'ble House last Session For giving Free and equal Liberty & Privileges in matters of Religion to all the Inhabitants of this Commonwealth - which we apprehend was Printed and Dispersed by Order of your Hon'ble House That they might at the next Session be the better & more fully informed of the Sentiments of the People in General before they proceed to determine Finally upon this great & Important Point - And we assure you Gentlemen It is with much Satisfaction That we your Petitioners who are Compos'd of Church of England men, Presbyterians, Baptists & Methodists do all unanimously & with one voice hereby declare to your Hon'ble House our hearty assent concurrence & approbation to the purport of the said Bill and desire that the same may be passed into a Law - Fully Persuaded, Gentlemen, That the Religion of Jesus Christ may and ought to be committed to the Reflection Guidance and Blessing of its Divine Author, & needs not the Interposition of any Human Power for its Establishment & Support we most earnestly desire and pray that not only an Universal Toleration may take Place, but that all the Subjects of this Free State may be put upon the same footing and enjoy equal Liberties and privileges (which we think consistent with the 16th paragraph of the Declaration of Rights) can no longer with any shadow of Justice be withheld. Permit us gentlemen only further to observe as it is generally allowed that Force or Constraint when applied to any of the enjoyments of Sense do entirely marr & destroy all the Satisfactions which would result from them - How astonishing it is then, That Religion which consists in a Voluntary offering up our Souls to God, and Devoting our Bodies to his Service, should be bound down to any one particular Form devised by only mere men like ourselves or those who Refuse it (besides providing for their own) must be burthend with Taxes & Contributions for the Support of the Ministers & Teachers of another Form of Worship which their Consciences will not allow them to Conform to - Justice Vanishes - Reason looks with Disdain, & Religion looses [sic] her Angels Face and looks pale & Sickly, at the thought of such unrighteous Distinctions. - And we earnestly Desire & Instruct you our worthy & faithful Representatives for this County & District Nicholas Cabell and John Rose Esqrs, Delegates, & William Cabell Esq Senator, to vote for & use your best endeavours to promote a Total & final Repeal of all Laws giving Rise to them. That the Almighty may induce [?] the Councils & give Success to all the Determinations of your Honble House for both its temporal & Eternal Interests of the whole Community We your Petitioners, Gentlemen, in Duty bound, shall ever Pray -----

David Shelton Wm Alton James McAlexander Jr Jas Hopkins
Robert Wright Samuel [?] Alexander McAlexander John King
James Wright [?] Clever Caldwell Thomas William Fitzpatrick
William Goins [?] William Horrall Samuel King
Peter Parrish (?) [?] James McAlexander Sr James Montgomery
Bartlet Eads [?] John McAlexander John Cull
William Chastain [?] David Montgomery Jr Thos Street
Wm Wright Jun Saml Edmund Beverly Warwick
John Loving Benjamin Plunket Samuel McAlexander Francis Bush
Thomas Bullard Jas. Dinsmore David Philips
George Loving William Thompson Sheaton [?] Griffin
Reuben Jordan John Edmunds Wm Harris
David Clarke [?] Clayton Coleman
John Harris John McCann
Andrew Wright William Helton
Plus about 56 others...

James McAlexander, Sr. and four sons, James, Jr., Alexander, John and Samuel, signed the petition. William, his other son, was in Patrick County, Virginia during this time.

The actual petition images, 084001r.jpg and 084002r.jpg, from Early Virginia Religious Petitions as posted on the Library of Congress - American Memory website co-sponsored by the Virginia State Library, were used as the transcription records. The transcription shown here is primarily by Mary Smith, with additions by Paul E. Pennebaker.

Top Copyright 1998-  Paul E. Pennebaker