Petition from Inhabitants of Nova Scotia, 8 February 1776

1776 washington

To His Excellency George Washington, Esq, Generalissimo of the Army of the Twelve United Colonies of America.

May it please your Excellency:

The liberty we take in addressing a person of so exalted a rank will, we presume, be fully pardoned when you perceive the occasion of it.

The inhabitants of Nova-Scotia, and in particular those of the County of Cumberland, have been under the greatest desire and apprehension ever since the great contest subsisting between Great Britain and the American Colonies. Our situation has been such that we have not had it in our power to do anything in conjunction with the other Colonies. The form of Government we are under, and the manner of executing its authority, has been such that we are rather to be looked upon as slaves than freemen.

With anxious desires have we been waiting for the success of your righteous cause, and that you would cast an eye of pity towards this forlorn part. We have; indeed, nothing to recommend us but misery and impending destruction and devastations. We trust our manner of proceeding will have the desired effect on you, as well as the others who are the instruments of supporting the liberty of mankind.

We have been harassed much, occasioned by different proceedings of Government; threatened are we because we have such sentiments concerning the cause contended for by our brethren on the Continent. News has been received that troops will soon be sent among us. This, in a manner, has roused many who were environed in lethargy.

Committees have been appointed from the different towns (including the Acadians) to fall upon some method of safety, there being a number among us (vainly called Government-men) who are continually prying into our proceedings, and, with accumulated tales, give information to the Government at Halifax. Liable, therefore, are we to be cut in pieces, having no expectation of succour but what comes through your Excellency.

We agreed in our Committees that nothing should be done publickly, as it might aggravate the others to fall upon us sooner than they intended; and further, as we could not tell the intention of the honourable Continental Congress concerning us.

Therefore, as individuals who belong to the aforesaid Committee, do recommend Jonathan Eddy, Esq˙, to your Excellency, who will acquaint you with our situation; and praying with ardency that your Excellency will please relieve us, so that we may be able to give our sentiments publickly, and join with our little strength, in conjunction with the other Colonies, in preventing the ensigns of slavery from being set up in any part of this great Empire. And we further pray your Excellency will keep this our request a secret for the present.

We do, separately and jointly, pray for the success of your arms, and that you may be victorious, and vanquish all your enemies.

We are, with the greatest respect, your Excellency’s most devoted and very humble servants,


“Petition from Inhabitants of Nova Scotia, 8 February 1776,” Founders Online, National Archives,