Primary Resource

"An act to enable the inhabitants of this colony to discharge their Tobacco debts in money, for this present year" (1755)

In "An act to enable the inhabitants of this colony to discharge their Tobacco debts in money, for this present year," better known as the Two Penny Act, the General Assembly responded to the failure of the colony's tobacco crops by allowing vestries and county courts to collect taxes and pay salaries in money calculated at the usual market price for tobacco rather than in tobacco at windfall rates. Lieutenant Governor Robert Dinwiddie signed the act into law, on behalf of George II, on November 8, 1755.

Transcription from Original


— page 568 —

WHEREAS by reason of the great drought a very small quantity of tobacco is made, so that the inhabitants of this colony are not able to pay their public, county and parish levies, and the officers fees, and other tobacco debts in tobacco for this present year, according to the directions of the laws now in force; for remedy whereof, and to prevent the sheriffs and other collectors of the public dues, from taking advantage of the necessities of the people, and exacting exorbitant prices for tobacco, due or payable to them from the poor and needy.


— page 569 —

BE it enacted, by the Lieutenant Governor, Council, and Burgesses, of this present General Assembly, and it is hereby enacted, by the authority of the same, That it shall and may be lawful to and for any person or persons, from whom any tobacco is due by judgement, for rent, by bond, or upon any contract, or for public, county and parish levies, or for any secretaries, clerks, sheriffs, surveyors, or other officers fees, or by any other ways or means whatsoever, to pay and satisfy the same, either in tobacco, according to the directions of the act of Assembly, intituled, An act for amending the staple of tobacco, and preventing frauds in his majesty's customs, or in money, at the rate of sixteen shillings and eight pence, for every hundred pounds of nett tobacco, and so in proportion for a greater or lesser quantity, at the option of the payer: And the sheriffs and other collectors shall, and they are hereby required to receive the same from any person or persons, in discharge of any such levies and officers fees; and the sheriffs or other collectors of the levies and fees, aforesaid, shall account with, and pay to the persons entitled to the same, in proportion to their several demands, all tobacco and money which they shall receive in payment of such levies and fees, which shall discharge such sheriffs and collectors from any other demand for such levies and fees, any law to the contrary thereof notwithstanding.


Provided always, That nothing herein contained shall extend, or be construed to extend, to any public, county, or parish levies, or officers fees now due or hereafter to become due, in any county where by law the inhabitants of such county, are now impowered to discharge the same in money.


And be it further enacted, That this act shall continue and be in force for the space of ten months, and no longer.