On the eve of the American Revolution, the Vestry of St. Paul’s Church in Edenton wrote the “Test”, and it became a catalyst for fanning the flames of independence within the colony of North Carolina.
In 1774, the British Parliament passed the Intolerable Acts as a punishment against the American colonies for the Boston Tea Party. In response, each colony sent delegates to meet for a Continental Congress that unified and established the colonies course of action against Britain.
In support of the tax protests, and approximately a month prior to the Continental Congress's Declaration of Independence, the Vestry of St. Paul's Church, in a written document called "Test," dissented against unfair taxes, unjust meddling in colonial government, and other infractions of the rights of free peoples.
The “Test” was a reflection of the revolutionary passions alive in Edenton, and it proved to be the church’s own declaration of independence. The text of the Test was engraved on the back interior wall of St Paul’s Church in Edenton. It can still be found there today.
It reads as follows:
We, the subscribers, professing our allegiance to the King and acknowledging the constitutional, executive power of government, do solemnly profess, testify, and declare that we do absolutely believe that neither the Parliament of Great Britain nor any member or constituent branch thereof have a right to impose taxes upon these colonies to regulate the internal policy thereof, and that all attempts by fraud or force to establish and exercise such claims and powers are violations of the peace and security of the people and ought to be resisted to the utmost, and that the people of this province singly and collectively are bound by the acts and resolutions of the Continental and Provincial Congresses, because in both they are freely represented by persons chosen by themselves, and we do solemnly and sincerely promise and engage under the sanction of virtue, honor and sacred love of liberty and our country to maintain and support all and every the acts, resolutions and regulations of the said Continental and Provincial Congresses to the utmost of our power and ability. In testimony whereof we have hereto set our hands this 19th of June 1776. Richd. Hoskins, David Rice, Aaron Hill, Pelitiah Walton, Wm. Hinton, William Roberts, Thos. Bonner, Wm. Boyd, Thos. Benbury, Jacob Hunter, John Beasley, Willm. Bennett.
St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, http://stpauls-edenton.org/ (last accessed August 24, 2010); State Library of North Carolina, http://statelibrary.ncdcr.gov/ (last accessed August 24, 2010); Edenton County, http://www.edenton.com/ (last accessed August 24, 2010); The Hunters and the Vestry of St. Paul’s Parish, Chowan, N. C., http://www.huntersofnansemond.info/ (last accessed August 24, 2010).
By Kellie Slappey, North Carolina History Project
See Also:Related Categories: Revolution Era, Churches, Religion, Political History, Political Documents, Colonial North Carolina