Author: Catherine Treesh

Catherine Treesh earned her PhD in history from Yale University. Her dissertation is entitled “Writing Union into Resistance: How Committees of Correspondence Forged a Continental Community” (2021).

The Virginia Committee of Correspondence

The Virginia Committee of Correspondence was an eleven-man group formed by the House of Burgesses on March 12, 1773, in response to perceived threats to colonial charters and legislative authority resulting from the Gaspee affair. The burgesses ordered the Committee of Correspondence to write to other colonial legislatures with a request to share information about imperial legislation and any actions they might take in response. Colonial committees of correspondence previously had existed to facilitate transatlantic communication between the colonies and London, but the intent of the House of Burgesses was to create a permanent inter-colonial communication network that would be active in times of crisis and peace. In response to the request from the Virginia legislators, other colonial legislatures quickly agreed to form a network of committees of correspondence. These committees would help organize the First Continental Congress in 1774. The network that the Virginia Committee built was not itself revolutionary, but it did produce critical opportunities for colonists to acknowledge shared grievances and frame their local problems in terms of a broader community—all of which helped catalyze the American Revolution.