LOC: VA-HA: 1785 Petition to Virginia House of Delegates

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  • Title LOC: VA-HA: 1785 Petition to Virginia House of Delegates 
    Short Title LOC: VA-HA: 1785 Petition to Virginia House of Delegates  
    Author Hanover County Taxpayers - Saint Paul's Parish 1782-1815 (Cocke, William Ronald, III) 
    Publisher Baltimore, MD, USA: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000 
    Source ID S39 
    Text [This petition, dated 7 November 1785, includes some signatories, such as Jesse Darwin, who were resident in neighbouring Louisa County. This document may indicate that Jesse Darwin, contrary to our previous assumption, was literate. Alternatively, it is possible that someone else signed his name on his behalf on this document.]

    To the Honourable the Speaker and the Gentlemen of the House of Delegates

    The Petition of the Inhabitants of the County of Hanover humbly sheweth That whereas it hath pleased your Honourable House to Publish a bill Obliging the Inhabitants of the common wealth to pay Teachers of the Christian Religion and have Requested their Opinion concerning it, your Petitioners do most earnestly declare against it, believing That the Legislature should not establish modes of Religion, nor the manner of supporting its teachers, that all modes of Religion should be Regulated And determined by the Different Religious Societies: and the manner of Supporting it by Voluntary Contribution. That when ever Civil Power Shall so far Interfere in matters of Religion as to Regulate and Determine The manner of divine worship, or shall tax the Inhabitants of this state for the support of teachers of the Christian Religion they have Departed from the Spirit of the Gospel and from the Bill of Rights.

    Certain it is that our blessed savior not only without the aid of Civil Power, but against all the powers of the Earth supported and defended his Gospel for several Hundred Years, how strange then, to hear it Asserted that it must fall if not established by human Laws.

    When Christianity was first established by the first Christian King How soon was the church overrun with error Superstition and immorality, how unlike were Ministers then to what they were in time Past, both in Purity of Doctrine and uprightness of Life.

    That Religious establishment and Government is Linked together and that the latter cannot exist without the former is contrary to experience. Witness the state of Pensylvania wherein no such Establishment hath taken place: their Government stands firm and can any of the Neighboring states boast of men of better morals and more upright Characters.

    But 'tis said Religion is taking its flight and that Deism prevails. This cannot be owing to the want of Religious Establishment but to other causes. Let your Laws punish the Vices of the times, and let there not be wanting such men in power and authority who by their pious Example shall recommend Religion and by their faithfulness shall stop the growth of immorality, let ministers convince the world that they are moved by the Holy Ghost to take upon them that office, that they seek the good of mankind and not worldly Interest. Let their Doctrine be scriptural and their lives Holy; then shall Religion beam forth as the sun and Deism shall be put to open shame.

    Such Assessment would introduce no more useful and faithful men into the ministry, those whom Divine Grace hath called to that Work will esteem it their highest honour to do his Pleasure. Likely it would call into the church a number of hirelings whose chief motive would be worldly Interest.

    Our Bill of Rights which says that no person of this Commonwealth shall enjoy exclusive Privileges except for services rendered that State, certainly forbids such tax, since this is not for services Rendered to Government, which may as well exist without it.

    As such Assessment therefore appears to be contrary to the spirit of the Gospel and the bill of Rights, and is big with pernicious consequences to the church of Christ, Your petitioners trust that the wisdom and uprightness of your Honourable House will ever leave them entirely free in all matters of Religion and the manner of Supporting its teachers.

    And they shall ever Pray

    Luke Anthony
    Martin Baker
    Benjamin Bowles
    John Butler
    Samuel Butler
    Thomas Crenshaw
    Jesse Darwin
    James Davis
    Lewis Davis
    Samuel Davis
    Supry Davis
    Joseph Eggleston
    William England
    William Frazer
    Richard Gilman
    James Glazebrook
    Richard Glazebrook
    Christopher Hanes
    William Harper
    James Marshall
    Elijah Priddy
    Robert Priddy
    Samuel Priddy
    Holman Rice
    John Sims
    Stephen Stone
    Randolph Thacker

    Linked to Jesse DARWIN 

  • Photos
    Signature of Jesse Darwin (1785)
    Signature of Jesse Darwin (1785)
    Whether signature is in Jesse's own hand, or applied on his behalf, is uncertain