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Minutes of the Transylvania House of Delegates
Transylvania Colony. House of Delegates
May 23, 1775 - May 27, 1775
Volume 09, Pages 1267-1279

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[Reprinted from the American Archives. Vol. 4. Page 546.]
A JOURNAL OF THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE HOUSE OF DELEGATES OR REPRESENTATIVES OF THE COLONY OF TRANSYLVANIA BEGUN ON WEDNESDAY (TUESDAY), THE 23rd OF MAY, IN THE YEAR OF OUR LORD CHRIST 1775, AND IN THE FIFTEENTH YEAR OF THE REIGN OF HIS MAJESTY GEORGE THE THIRD KING OF GREAT BRITAIN.

The Proprietors of said Colony having called and required an election of Delegates or Representatives to be made, for the purpose of legislation, or making and ordaining laws and regulations for the future conduct of the inhabitants thereof, that is to say for the town of Boonesborough, six members; for Harrodsburgh, four; for the Boiling Spring Settlement, four; for the town of St. Asaph, four; and appointed their meeting for the purpose aforesaid, on the aforesaid 23d of May, Anno Domini 1775, and,

It being certified to us here this day by the Secretary, that the following persons were returned as duly elected for the several towns and settlements, to wit:

For Boonesborough—Squire Boone, Daniel Boone, William Cocke, Samuel Henderson, William Moore, and Richard Calloway.

Harrodsburgh—Thomas Slaughter, John Lythe, Valentine Harmond, and James Douglas.

Boiling Spring Settlement—James Harrod, Nathan Hammond, Isaac Hite and Azariah Davis,

The Town of St. Asaph—John Todd, Alexander Spotswood Dandridge, John Floyd, and Samuel Wood.

Present: Squire Boone, Daniel Boone, Samuel Henderson, William Moore, Richard Calloway, Thomas Slaughter, John Lythe, Valentine Harmond, James Douglas, James Harrod, Nathan Hammond, Isaac Hite, Azariah Davis, John Todd, Alexander Spotswood Dandridge, John Floyd, and Samuel Wood, who took their seats at Convention.

The House unanimously chose Colonel Thomas Slaughter, Chairman, and Matthew Jewett, Clerk; and after divine service was performed by the Reverend John Lythe, the House waited on the Proprietors, and acquainted them that they had chosen Mr Thomas

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Slaughter, Chairman, and Matthew Jewett, Clerk, of which they approved, and,

Colonel Richard Henderson in behalf of himself and the rest of the Proprietors, opened the Convention with a speech, a copy of which, to prevent mistakes, the Chairman procured.

Ordered, the same Speech be read. Read the same, which is as follows:

Mr. Chairman, and Gentlemen of the Convention:

You are called and assembled at this time for a noble and an honourable purpose—a purpose, however ridiculous or idle it may appear at first view, to superficial minds, yet, is of the most solid consequence; and if prudence, firmness, and wisdom, are suffered to influence your councils and direct your conduct, the peace and harmony of thousands may be expected to result from your deliberations; in short, you are about a work of the utmost importance to the well-being of this country in general, in which the interest and security of each and every individual is inseparably connected; for that State is truly sickly, politically speaking, whose laws or edicts are not careful, equally, of the different members, and most distant branches, which constitute the one united whole. Nay, it is not only a solecism in politics, but an insult to common sense, to attempt the happiness of any community, or composing laws for their benefit without securing to each individual his full proportion of advantage arising out of the general mass; thereby making his interest (that most powerful incentive to the actions of mankind) the consequence of obedience. This, at once, not only gives force and energy to legislation, but as justice is, and must be eternally the same, so your laws, founded in wisdom, will gather strength by time, and find an advocate in every wise and well-disposed person.

You, perhaps, are fixing the palladium, or placing the first cornerstone of an edifice, the height and magnificence of whose superstructure is now in the womb of futurity, and can only become great and glorious in proportion to the excellence of its foundation. These considerations, gentlemen, will, no doubt, animate and inspire you with sentiments worthy the grandeur of the subject.

Our peculiar circumstances, in this remote country, surrounded on all sides with difficulties, and equally subject to one common danger, which threatens our common overthrow, must, I think, in their effects, secure to us an union of interests, and consequently,

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that harmony in opinion, so essential to the forming good, wise and wholesome laws.

If any doubt remain amongst you with respect to the force or efficacy of whatever laws you now, or hereafter make, be pleased to consider that all power is originally in the people; therefore, make it their interest by impartial and beneficial laws, and you may be sure of their inclination to see them enforced. For it is not to be supposed that a people, anxious and desirous of having laws made, who approve of the method of choosing Delegates or Representatives to meet in General Convention for that purpose, can want the necessary and concomitant virtue to carry them into execution.

Nay, gentlemen, for argument's sake, let us set virtue, for a moment, out of the question, and see how the matter will then stand. You must admit, that it is, and ever will be, the interest of a large majority, that the laws should be esteemed and held sacred. If so, surely this large majority can never want inclination or power to give sanction and efficacy to those very laws which advance their interest and secure their property.

And now, Mr Chairman and gentlemen of the Convention, as it is indispensably necessary that laws should be composed for the regulation of our conduct—as we have a right to make such laws without giving offence to Great Britain, or any of the American Colonies—without disturbing the repose of any society or community under Heaven—if it is probable, nay, certain, that the laws may derive force and efficacy from our mutual consent, and that consent resulting from our own virtue, interest, and convenience, nothing remains but to set about the business immediately, and let the event determine the wisdom of the undertaking.

Among the many objects that must present themselves for your consideration, the first in order must, from its importance, be that of establishing Courts of justice or tribunals, for the punishment of such as may offend against the laws you are about to make. As this law will be the chief corner-stone in the ground work or basis of our Constitution, let us, in a particular manner, recommend the most dispassionate attention, while you take for your guide as much of the spirit and genius of the laws of England as can be interwoven with those of this country. We are all Englishmen, or, what amounts to the same, ourselves and our fathers have, for many generations, experienced the invaluable blessings of that most excellent Constitution, and surely we cannot want motives to copy from so noble an original.

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Many things, no doubt, crowd upon your minds, and seem equally to demand your attention. But next to that of restraining vice and immorality, surely nothing can be of more importance than establishing some plain and easy method for the recovery of debts, and determining matters of dispute with respect to property, contracts, torts, injuries, &c. These things are so essential, that if not strictly attended to, our name will become odious abroad, and our peace of short and precarious duration. It would give honest and disinterested persons cause to suspect that there was some colourable reason, at least for the unworthy and scandalous assertions, together with the groundless insinuations contained in an infamous and scurrilous libel lately printed and published, concerning the settlement of this country, the author of which avails himself of his station, and under the specious pretence of proclamation, pompously dressed up and decorated in the garb of authority, has uttered invectives of the most malignant kind, and endeavors to wound the good name of persons, whose moral character would derive little advantage by being placed in computation with his, charging them, amongst other things equally untrue, with a design of “forming an Asylum for debtors, and other persons of desperate circumstances”; placing the proprietors of the soil at the head of a lawless train of abandoned villains, against whom the regal authority ought to be exerted, and every possible measure taken to put an immediate stop to so dangerous an enterprise.

I have not the least doubt, gentlemen, but that your conduct, in this Convention, will manifest the honest and laudable intentions of the present adventurers, whilst a conscious blush confounds the wilful calumniators and officious detractors of our infant, and, as yet, little community.

Next to the establishment of courts or tribunals, as well for the punishment of publick offenders, as the recovering of just debts, that of establishing and regulating a Militia seems of the greatest importance. It is apparent that, without some wise institution, respecting our mutual defence, the different towns or settlements are, every day, exposed to the most imminent danger, and liable to be destroyed at the mere will of the Savage Indians.

Nothing, I am persuaded, but their entire ignorance of our weakness and want of order, has, hitherto, preserved us from the destructive and rapacious hands of cruelty, and given us an opportunity, at this time, of forming secure, defensive plans, to be supported and

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carried into execution by the authority and sanction of a well digested law.

There are sundry other things highly worthy your consideration, and demand redress, such as the wanton destruction of our game, the only support of life amongst many of us, and for want of which the country would be abandoned ere to-morrow, and scarcely a probability remain of its ever becoming the habitation of any Christian people. This, together with the practice of many foreigners, who make a business of hunting in our country, killing, driving off, and lessening the number of wild cattle and other game, whilst the value of the skins and furs is appropriated to the benefit of persons not concerned or interested in our settlements. These are evils, I say, that I am convinced cannot escape your notice and attention.

Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of the Convention, you may assure yourselves that this new-born country is an object of the most particular attention of the Proprietors here on the spot, as well as those on the other side of the Mountains, and that they will most cheerfully concur in every measure which can, in the most distant and remote degree, promote its happiness or contribute to its grandeur.

RICHARD HENDERSON.

Ordered, That Colonel Calloway, Mr. Lythe, Mr. Todd, Mr. Dandridge, and Mr. Samuel Henderson, be a Committee to draw up an answer to the Proprietor's Speech.


May 25th 1775.

Mr Todd produced to the House an Answer (drawn up by the Committee) to the Proprietor's Speech, and being approved of by the Committee, Ordered, that Mr Todd, Mr Cocke, and Mr Harrod wait on the Proprietors with an answer to their Address, which is as follows:

Colonel Richard Henderson and Company,

Gentlemen: We received your speech with minds truly thankful for the care and attention you express towards the good people of this infant country, whom we represent. Well aware of the confusion which would ensue the want of rules for our conduct in life, and deeply impressed with a sense of the importance of the trust our constituents have reposed in us, though labouring under a thousand disadvantages, which attend prescribing remedies for disorders

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which already call for our assistance, as well as those that are lodged in the womb of futurity; Yet the task, arduous as it is, we will attempt with vigour, not doubting but unanimity will insure us success.

That we have an absolute right, as a political body, without giving umbrage to Great Britain or any of the Colonies, to frame rules for the government of our little society, cannot be doubted by any sensible, unbiased mind; and, being without the jurisdiction of, and not answerable to, any of His Majesty's Courts, the constituting tribunals of justice shall be a matter of our first contemplation; and, as this will be a matter of the greatest importance, we will still keep in the genius and spirit of the English laws, which happy pattern it shall be our chief care to copy after.

Next to the restraint of immorality, our attention shall be directed towards the relief of the injured, as well as the creditor; nor will we put it into the power of calumny and scurrility to say, that our country is an asylum for debtors, or any disorderly persons.

Nor shall we neglect, by regulating a Militia, as well as the infancy of our country will permit, to guard against the hostilities and incursions of our savage enemies, and, at the same time, to be cautious to preserve the game of our country, so essentially necessary for the subsistence of the first adventurers.

Conscious, gentlemen, of your veracity, we cannot express the satisfaction we experience, that the Proprietors of this promising Colony are so ready to concur with us in any measure which may tend to promote its happiness and contribute to its grandeur.

THOMAS SLAUGHTER, Chairman.

To which Colonel Henderson returned the following Answer,

Mr Chairman and Gentlemen of the Convention,

From the just sense of the nature and importance of the trust reposed in you by your constituents, and your laudable and truly patriotick resolution of exerting your abilities in the service of your country, we derive the most sanguine hopes.

Arduous as the task is, every difficulty must give way to perseverance, whilst your zeal for the publick good is tempered with that moderation and unanimity of opinion so apparent in your conduct.

We, gentlemen, look with infinite satisfaction on this happy presage of the future felicity of your infant country, and hope to merit a

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continuation of that confidence you are pleased to express in our veracity and good intentions. While our transactions have credit for the integrity of our desires, we cannot fail uniting with the Delegates of the good people of this country, fully persuaded that the Proprietors are jealously inclined to contribute every thing in their power which may tend to render it easy, prosperous and flourishing.

RICHARD HENDERSON,
For himself and the Company.

On motion made, Ordered, that Mr Todd have leave to bring in a bill for the establishment of Courts of Judicature, and regulating the practice therein.

Ordered, That Mr Todd, Mr Dandridge, Mr Calloway and Mr Henderson, do bring in a bill for that purpose.

On motion of Mr Douglass, leave is given to bring in a bill for Regulating a Militia.

Ordered, That Mr Floyd, Mr Harrod, Mr Cocke, Mr Douglass, and Mr Hite, be a Committee for that purpose.

On motion of Mr Daniel Boone, leave is given to bring in a bill for Preserving Game &c.

Ordered, That Mr Boone, Mr Davis, Mr Harmon, Mr Hammond, and Mr Moore, be a Committee for that purpose.

The Bill for establishing Courts of Judicature, and regulating the practice therein, brought in by the Committee and read by Mr Todd and passed the first time; ordered to be referred for a second reading.

The Bill for establishing and Regulating a Militia brought in by the Committee, read by Mr Floyd, ordered to be read by the Clerk, passed the first time; ordered to be referred for a second reading.

The Bill for Preserving Game, brought in by the Committee, ordered to be read by the Clerk; read and passed the first time, and ordered to be referred for a second reading.

Ordered, That the Convention be adjourned until to morrow, six o'clock.


May 26th, 1775.

Met according to adjournment.

Mr Robert McAfee appointed Sergeant-at-Arms.

Ordered, That the Sergeant-at-Arms bring John Guess before this Convention, to answer for an insult offered Colonel Richard Calloway.

The Bill for Regulating a Militia, read the second time, and ordered to be engrossed.

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The Bill for Establishing Courts of Judicature, and regulating the practice therein, read a second time, ordered to be recommitted: and that Mr Dandridge, Mr Todd, Mr Henderson, and Mr Calloway, be a Committee to take it into consideration.

On motion of Mr Todd, leave is given to bring in an Attachment Bill.

Ordered, That Mr Todd, Mr Dandridge, and Mr Douglass, be a Committee for that purpose.

The Bill for Establishing Writs of Attachment, read by the Clerk, and passed the first time; ordered to be referred for a second reading.

On motion of Mr Dandridge, leave is given to bring in a Bill to ascertain Clerks' and Sheriffs' Fees.

The said Bill was read, and passed the first time; ordered to be referred for the second reading.

On motion made by Mr Todd, Ordered, That Mr Todd, Mr Lythe, Mr Douglass, and Mr Hite, be a Committee to draw up a compact between the Proprietors and the people of this Colony.

On motion of Mr Lythe, leave is given to bring in a bill to Prevent Profane Swearing and Sabbath Breaking. The same was read by the Clerk.

Ordered, That it be recommitted, and that Mr Lythe, Mr Todd, and Mr Harrod, be a Committee to make amendments.

Mr Guess was brought before the Convention, and reprimanded by the Chairman.

Ordered, That Mr Todd and Mr Harrod wait on the Proprietors, to know what name for this Colony would be agreeable.

Mr Todd and Mr Harrod reported, that it was their pleasure that it should be called Transylvania.

The Bill for ascertaining Clerks' and Sheriffs' Fees read a second time, passed, and ordered to be engrossed.

The Attachment Bill read a second time and ordered to be engrossed.

A Bill for Preserving Game, read the second time and passed; ordered to be recommitted, and that Mr Todd, Mr Boone, and Mr Harrod, be a Committee to take it into consideration.

The Militia Bill read a third time, and passed.

On motion of Mr Todd, leave is given to bring in a bill for the Punishment of Criminals.

Ordered, That Mr Todd, Mr Dandridge, and Mr Lythe, be a Committee for that purpose.

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The Bill for establishing Courts of Judicature, and regulating the practice therein, read a second time, and ordered to be engrossed.

On motion of Mr Boone, leave is given to bring in a bill for Improving the breed of Horses.

Ordered, That Mr Boone, Mr Davis, and Mr Hammond, bring in a bill for that purpose.

The Bill for ascertaining Clerks' and Sheriffs' Fees, read a third time and passed.

The Bill for establishing Writs of Attachment, read a third time and passed.

On motion, Ordered, That Mr Todd have leave to absent himself from this House.

The Bill for the Punishment of Criminals, brought in by the Committee, read by the Clerk, passed the first time, and ordered to be read a second time.

The Bill for establishing Courts of Judicature and regulating the practice therein, read the third time with amendments, and passed.

The Bill for Improving the breed of Horses, brought in by Captain Boone, read the first time, passed, and ordered for consideration, &c.

Ordered, That the Convention adjourn until to-morrow, six o'clock.


May 27th, 1775.

Met according to adjournment.

The Bill to Prevent Profane Swearing and Sabbath Breaking, read the second time, with amendments; ordered to be engrossed.

The Bill for the Punishment of Criminals, brought in and read, passed the second time; ordered to be engrossed.

The Bill for the Improvement of the breed of Horses was read a second time, and ordered to be engrossed.

Ordered, That Mr Harrod, Mr Boone, and Mr Cocke, wait on the Proprietors and beg they will not indulge any person whatever in granting them Lands on the present terms, unless they comply with the former proposals of settling the Country, &c.

On motion of Squire Boone, leave is given to bring in a bill to Preserve the Range.

Ordered, That he have leave to bring in a bill for that purpose.

The following Message was received from the Proprietors, to-wit:

To give every possible satisfaction to the good people, your constituents, we desire to exhibit our title deed from the Aborigines and

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first owners of the soil in Transylvania, and hope you will cause an entry to be made of the exhibition in your journals, including the corners and abutments of the lands or country contained therein, so that the boundaries of our Colony may be known and kept on record.

RICHARD HENDERSON.

Transylvania, May 27th, 1775.

Ordered, That Mr Todd, Mr Douglass, and Mr Hite, inform the Proprietors that their request will be complied with.

To which Colonel Henderson, in behalf of himself and Company, produced his Deed, which is bounded and abutted as follows, viz:

Beginning on the Ohio River, at the mouth of the Cantuckey Chinra, or what, by the English, is called Louisa River; from thence running up the said river, and the most northwardly branch, to the head Spring thereof; thence a southeast course to the top ridge of Powell's Mountain; thence westwardly along the ridge of Powell's Mountain, unto a point from which a northwest course will strike or hit the head Spring, or the most southwardly branch of Cumberland River; thence down the said river, including all its waters, to the Ohio River; thence up the said river to the beginning.

A Bill for Preserving the Range, brought in by the Committee and read, passed the first time; ordered to be laid by for second consideration.

The Bill to Prevent Profane Swearing and Sabbath Breaking, read the third time and passed.

Ordered, That Mr Calloway and Mr Cocke wait on the Proprietors with the Laws that have passed for their perusal and approbation.

The Committee appointed to draw up the Compact between the Proprietors and the People, brought in and read it, as follows, viz:

Whereas, it is highly necessary, for the peace of the Proprietors and the security of the People of this Colony, that the powers of the one and the liberties of the other be ascertained, we, Richard Henderson, Nathaniel Hart, and J. Luttrell, on behalf of ourselves, as well as the other Proprietors of the Colony of Transylvania, of the one part, and the Representatives of the People of said Colony, in Convention assembled, of the other part, do most solemnly enter into the following contract or agreement, to-wit:

1. That the election of Delegates in this Colony be annual.

2. That the Convention may adjourn, and meet again on their own adjournment: Provided, That, in cases of great emergency, the Proprietors

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may call together the Delegates before the time adjourned to; and, if a majority do not attend, they may dissolve them and call a new one.

3. That, to prevent dissention and delay of business, one Proprietor shall act for the whole, or some one delegated by them for that purpose, who shall always reside in the Colony.

4. That there be perfect religious freedom and general toleration: Provided, That the propagators of any doctrine or tenets, evidently tending to the subversion of our laws, shall, for such conduct, be amenable to, and punished by, the Civil Courts.

5. That the Judges of the Superior or Supreme Courts be appointed by the Proprietors, but be supported by the People, and to them be answerable for their malconduct.

6. That the quit-rents never exceed two shillings, sterling, per hundred acres.

7. That the Proprietors appoint a Sheriff, who shall be one of three persons recommended by the Court.

8. That the Judges of the Superior Courts have, without fee or reward, the appointment of the Clerks of this Colony.

9. That the Judges of the Inferior Courts be recommended by the people, and approved by the Proprietors, and by them commissioned.

10. That all other civil and military officers be within the appointment of the Proprietors.

11. That the office of Surveyor-General belong to no person interested, or a partner, in this purchase.

12. That the legislative authority, after the strength and maturity of the Colony will permit, consist of three branches, to-wit: The Delegates, or Representatives, chosen by the people; a Council, not exceeding twelve men, possessed of landed estate, who reside in the Colony; and the Proprietors.

13. That nothing, with respect to the number of Delegates from any town or settlement, shall, hereafter, be drawn into precedent, but that the number of Representatives shall be ascertained by law, when the State of the Colony will admit of amendment.

14. That the Land Office be always open.

15. That commissions without profit, be granted without fee.

16. That the fees and salaries of all officers appointed by the Proprietors, be settled and regulated by the laws of the country.

17. That the Convention have the sole power of raising and appropriating all public moneys, and electing their Treasurer.

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18. That, for a short time, till the state of the Colony will permit to fix some place of holding the Convention, which shall be permanent, the place of meeting shall be agreed upon between the Proprietors and the Convention.

To the faithful, and religious, and perpetual observance of all and every of the above articles, the said Proprietors, on behalf of themselves, as well as those absent, and the Chairman of the Convention, on behalf of them and their constituents, have hereunto interchangeably set their hands, and affixed their seals, the twentyseventh day of May, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six.

RICHARD HENDERSON [Seal].
NATHANIEL HART [Seal].
J. LUTTRELL [Seal].
T. SLAUGHTER, Chair'n [Seal].

A Bill for Improving the breed of Horses. Read the third time and passed.

The Bill for the Punishment of Criminals. Read the third time, and passed.

The Bill to Preserve the Range. Read the second time, and ordered to be engrossed.

Ordered, That Mr. Lythe wait on Colonel Henderson, and the rest of the Proprietors, with the Bill for establishing Courts of Justice, and regulating the practice therein.

The Bill to Preserve the Range. Read the third time, and passed.

Ordered, That Colonel Calloway wait on the Proprietors, with the Bill for Preserving the Range.

Ordered, That a fair copy of the several Bills, passed into laws, be transmitted to every settlement in this Colony that is represented.

Ordered, That the Delegates of Boonesborough be a Committee to see that all the Bills that are passed be transcribed in a fair hand into a book for that purpose.

Ordered, That the Proprietors be waited on by the Chairman, acquainting them that all the Bills are ready for signing.

The following Bills this day passed and [were] signed by the Proprietors, on behalf of themselves and their partners, and the Chairman of the Convention, on behalf of himself and the other Delegates:

1. An Act for establishing Courts of Judicature and regulating the practice therein.

2. An Act for regulating a Militia.

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3. An Act for the Punishment of Criminals.

4. An Act to Prevent Profane Swearing and Sabbath Breaking.

5. An Act for Writs of Attachment.

6. An Act for ascertaining Clerks' and Sheriffs' Fees.

7. An Act to Preserve the Range.

8. An Act for Improving the breed of Horses.

9. An Act for Preserving Game.

All the above-mentioned Acts were signed by the Chairman and Proprietors, except the Act for ascertaining the Clerks' and Sheriffs' Fees, which was omitted by the Clerk's not giving it with the rest.

Ordered, That at the next meeting of Delegates, if any member be absent and doth not attend, that the people choose one to serve in the room of such absent member.

Ordered, That the Convention be adjourned until the first Thursday in September next, then to meet at Boonesborough.

MATTHEW JEWETT, Clerk.