Monday, August 8, 2016

Preparing for the Revolutionary War

In about 1772 Britain decided to have the salaries of its royal governors and judges be paid by the crown rather than the colonies. Control of those salaries was one of the major ways in which the colonies could control their local British rulers. Within months over 100 Massachusetts towns had created committees to correspond with one another to keep all of the apprised of their activities in response to the British action. Samuel Adams led the colonies' main Committee of Correspondence.

Committee of Correspondence meeting about the militia; purchased from
Historical Image Bank for non-commercial reuse

Soon thereafter the Speaker of the Massachusetts assembly corresponded with Richard Henry Lee of Virginia regarding the purpose of the colony's newly formed committees. Either Dabney Carr or Lee proposed Virginia create similar committees. The resolution was quickly adopted and 11 prominent men were appointed. The preamble read as follows:

"This House, being deeply impressed with the Apprehension of the great Dangers to be derived to British America from the hostile invasion of the City of Boston, in our Sister Colony of Massachusetts Bay, whose commerce and Harbour are, on the first Day of June next, to be stopped by an armed Force, deem it highly necessary that the said first Day of June be set apart, by the Members of this House, as a Day of Fasting, Humilation, and Prayer, devoutly to implore the Devine Interposition, for averting the heavy Calamity which threatens Destruction to our civil Rights, and the Evils of Civil War, to give us one Heart and one Mind, firmly to oppose, by all just and proper Means, every Injury to American Rights; and that the Minds of his Majesty, and his Parliament, may be inspired from above with Wisdom, Moderation, and Justice, to remove from the loyal People of America all Cause of Danger from a continued Pursuit of Measures, pregnant with their Ruin."[1]

Three days later 89 late members of the Virginia House of Burgesses retired to the Apollo room at the Raleigh Tavern and crafted and signed a resolution with 14 articles. Article 11 created what came to be known as Committees of Safety in every county, city and town of the colony. The purpose was basically to observe their fellow citizens in order to ferret out people with Royalist tendencies.

Engraving of the Apollo Room; courtesy of Colonial Williamsburg

"That a Committee be chosen in every County, City, and Town, by those who are qualified to vote for Representatives in the Legislature, whose business it shall be attentively to observe the Conduct of all Persons touching this Association; and when it shall be made to appear, to the Satisfaction of the Majority of any such Committee, that any Person within the Limits of their Appointment has violated this Association, that such Majority do forthwith cause the Truth of the Case to be published in the Gazette, to the End that all such Foes of the Rights of British America may be publickly known, and universally condemned as Enemies of American Liberty; and thenceforth we, respectively, will break off all dealings with him or her."

These committees eventually became shadow governments, usurping power from increasingly helpless Royal officials.

On 23 May 1775 Bedford County, Virginia, chose the members of their Committee of Safety and among those members was my six times great grandfather, Rev. David Rice.

William & Mary Quarterly, First Series, Volume 5, page 253; courtesy of
Google Books

David Rice was my five times great greandfather, a Presbyterian minister and the grandson of Thomas Rice, who was an Englishman by birth of Welsh extraction and "an early adventurer into Virginia."[2]

[1] Transcription available on USGenWeb Archives by Kathy Merrill
[2] Quote from A History of St. Mark's Parish, Culpeper, Virginia, by Rev. Philip Slaughter

I have not yet thoroughly researched the Rice family beyond Rev. David Rice. However, my paternal uncle's DNA test results have many matches in which the common shared ancestor will be Thomas Rice (died 1711).

Pray Together, Stay Together
Apostle of Kentucky

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