Reaction to Virginia's Committees of Correspondence

When Virginia's resolution creating an intercolonial committee of correspondence reached Boston, Samuel Adams called his town committee into special session and ordered 300 copies sent to every other town in the colony, along with a letter congratulating them "upon the Acquisition of such respectable Aid as the ancient and patriotic Province of Virginia, the earliest Resolvers against the detestable Stamp-Act." Adams wrote to Richard Henry Lee on April 10, "The reception of the truly patriotic resolves of the House of Burgesses of Virginia gladdens the hearts of all who are friends to liberty. . . I hope you will have the hearty concurrence of every assembly on the continent. It is a measure which will be attended with great and good consequences." In Connecticut, Ezra Stiles predicted that "the Resolutions and Measures, proposed by the Virginia Assembly, in March last ... will undoubtedly become universal ... [and] these Assembly Committees will finally terminate in a general Congress." When the editors of the New Hampshire Gazette learned the news, they opined, "The Union of the Colonies which is now taking place is big with the most important Advantages to this Continent. . . . The United Americans may bid Defiance to all their open as well as secret foes; therefore let it be the Study of all to make the Union of the Colonies firm and perpetual, as it will be the great Basis for Liberty and every public Blessing in America." On June 18, 1773, another New Hampshire writer added his support for the plan in the Gazette: "Heaven itself seemed to have dictated it to the noble Virginians. O Americans, embrace this plan of union as your life. It will work out to your political salvation." John Adams wrote of the committees in his "Novanglus" essays early in 1775, "Almost all mankind have lost their liberties through ignorance, inattention, and disunion. These committees are admirably calculated to diffuse knowledge, to communicate intelligence, and promote unanimity."

Even the myopic British ministry saw the import of the intercolonial committee system. A London correspondent wrote on January 1, 1774, that Virginia's move "struck a greater panic into the Ministers than anything that had taken place since the passage of the Stamp Act."

By the time news of the first of the Intolerable Acts, the Boston Port Act, was printed in the Virginia Gazette on May 19, 1774, every colony had established a committee of correspondence.

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