QUERY XVI
 
        _The measures taken with regard of the estates and possessions
of the rebels, commonly called Tories?_

        Tories
        A Tory has been properly defined to be a traitor in thought,
but not in deed.  The only description, by which the laws have
endeavoured to come at them, was that of non-jurors, or persons
refusing to take the oath of fidelity to the state.  Persons of this
description were at one time subjected to double taxation, at another
to treble, and lastly were allowed retribution, and placed on a level
with good citizens.  It may be mentioned as a proof both of the
lenity of our government, and unanimity of its inhabitants, that
though this war has now raged near seven years, not a single
execution for treason has taken place.

        Under this query I will state the measures which have been
adopted as to British property, the owners of which stand on a much
fairer footing than the Tories.  By our laws, the same as the English
in this respect, no alien can hold lands, nor alien enemy maintain an
action for money, or other moveable thing.  Lands acquired or held by
aliens become forfeited to the state; and, on an action by an alien
enemy to recover money, or other moveable property, the defendant may
plead that he is an alien enemy.  This extinguishes his right in the
hands of the debtor or holder of his moveable property.  By our
separation from Great-Britain, British subjects became aliens, and
being at war, they were alien enemies.  Their lands were of course
forfeited, and their debts irrecoverable.  The assembly however
passed laws, at various times, for saving their property.  They first
sequestered their lands, slaves, and other property on their farms,
in the hands of commissioners, who were mostly the confidential
friends or agents of the owners, and directed their clear profits to
be paid into the treasury: and they gave leave to all persons owing
debts to British subjects to pay them also into the treasury.  The
monies so to be brought in were declared to remain the property of
the British subject, and, if used by the state, were to be repaid,
unless an improper conduct in Great-Britain should render a detention
of it reasonable.  Depreciation had at that time, though
unacknowledged and unperceived by the Whigs, begun in some small
degree.  Great sums of money were paid in by debtors.  At a later
period, the assembly, adhering to the political principles which
forbid an alien to hold lands in the state, ordered all British
property to be sold: and, become sensible of the real progress of
depreciation, and of the losses which would thence occur, if not
guarded against, they ordered that the proceeds of the sales should
be converted into their then worth in tobacco, subject to the future
direction of the legislature.  This act has left the question of
retribution more problematical.  In May 1780 another act took away
the permission to pay into the public treasury debts due to British
subjects.