Throughout the mid 18th century, committees of correspondence were formed throughout the colonies in order to establish a system of communication with other colony governments, educate citizens on their rights, and rally support for the American cause in the face of oppressive British policies. They helped create unity both within colonies and across the continent and were essential in the formation of the First Continental Congress. Virginia established their committee of correspondence in 1773, and by the end of 1774, 11 out of 13 colonies had a committee.
March 12, 1773
Whereas, the minds of his Majesty's faithful subjects in this colony have been much disturbed by various rumours and reports of proceedings tending to deprive them of their ancient, legal, and constitutional rights.
And whereas, the affairs of this colony are frequently connected with those of Great Britain, as well as of the neighbouring colonies, which renders a communication of sentiments necessary; in order, therefore, to remove the uneasinesses and to quiet the minds of the people, as well as for the other good purposes above mentioned Be it resolved, that a standing committee of correspondence and inquiry be appointed to consist of eleven persons, to wit: the Honourable Peyton Randolph, Esquire; Robert Carter Nicholas, Richard Bland, Richard Henry Lee, Benjamin Harrison, Edmund Pendleton, Patrick Henry, Dudley Digges, Dabney Carr, Archibald Cary, and Thomas Jefferson, Esquires, any six of whom to be a committee, whose business it shall be to obtain the most early and authentic intelligence of all such Acts and resolutions of the British Parliament, or proceedings of administration, as may relate to or affect the British colonies in America, and to keep up and maintain a correspondence and communication with our sister colonies, respecting these important considerations ; and the result of such their proceedings, from time to time, to lay before this House.
Resolved, that it be an instruction to the said committee that they do, without delay, inform themselves particularly of the principles and authority on which was constituted a court of inquiry, said to have been lately held in Rhode Island, with powers to transmit persons accused of offences committed in America to places beyond the seas to be tried.
The said resolutions being severally read a second time, were, upon the question severally put thereupon, agreed to by the House, nemine contradicente.
Resolved, that the speaker of this House do transmit to the speakers of the different assemblies of the British colonies on the continent, copies of the said resolutions, and desire that they will lay them before their respective assemblies, and request them to appoint some person or persons of their respective bodies, to communicate from time to time with the said committee.