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ington. It chanced that George Mason also was then at Williamsburg, a man of strong Chap. III.} 1774. May. and true affections; learned in constitutional law; a profound reasoner; honest and fearless in council; shunning ambition and public life, from desponding sorrow at the death of his wife, for whom he never ceased to mourn; but earnestly mindful of his country as became one whose chastened spirit looked beyond the interests of the moment. After deliberation with these associates, Jefferson prepared the measure that was to declare irrevocably the policy of Virginia; and its house of burgesses, on the twenty-fourth, on motion of Robert Carter Nicholas, adopted the concerted resolution, which was in itself a solemn invocation of God as the witness of their deliberate purpose to rescue their liberties even at the risk of being compelled to defend them with arms. It recommended to their fellow-citizens that the day on which the Boston port-act was to take effect should be set ap
s than from Norfolk, which was the largest place of trade in that well-watered and extensive dominion, and which, from its deep channel and nearness to the ocean, lay most exposed to ships of war. Our Chap. IV.} 1774. June. hearts are warmed with affection for you, such was its message; we address the Almighty Ruler to support you in your afflictions. Be assured we consider you as suffering in the common cause, and look upon ourselves as bound by the most sacred ties to support you. Jefferson, from the foot of the Blue Ridge of the Alleghanies, condemned the act, which in a moment reduced an ancient and wealthy town from opulence to want, and without a hearing and without discrimination, sacrificed property of the value of millions to revenge—not repay—the loss of a few thousands. If the pulse of the people beat calmly under such an experiment by the new and till now unheard of executive power of a British parliament, said the young statesman, another and another will be tried,
and divided, leaving Virginia to give the example of energy and courage. Dunmore had issued writs for an assembly; but the delegates from the different counties of Virginia none the less assembled in provincial convention. Illness detained Jefferson on the road, but he sent for consideration a paper which expressed his convictions and distinctly foreshadowed the declaration of independence. Enumerating the grievances which affected all the colonies, he made a special complaint of a wrongo defeated by his majesty's negative; thus preferring the immediate advantage of a few British corsairs, to the lasting interests of the American states, and to the rights of human nature, deeply wounded by this infamous practice. The words of Jefferson were universally approved; and the convention to which they were presented by Peyton Aug. Randolph came to this resolution: After the first day of November next, we will neither ourselves import, nor purchase any slave or slaves imported by an
and those who had not gone out to meet them, thronged the windows and doors to gaze. There they were encouraged by Roger Sherman, whom solid sense and the power of clear analysis were to constitute one of the master builders of our republic. The parliament of Great Britain, said he, can rightfully make laws for America in no case whatever. The freeholders of Albemarle county, in Virginia, had a Chap. IX.} 1774. Aug. month earlier expressed the same conclusion, and, in the language of Jefferson, claimed to hold the privilege of exemption from the authority of every other legislature than their own as one of the common rights of mankind. After resting one night at New Haven, and visiting the grave of the regicide Dixwell, the envoys continued on their way. As they reached the Hudson, they found that the British ministry had failed to allure, to intimidate, or to divide New York. A federative union of all the English colonies, under the sovereignty of the British king, had for
repeal the statutes complained of, and to renounce the power of taxation; America in turn was to recognise its right of regulating the commerce of the whole empire, and by the free grants of her own assemblies, was to defray the expenses of her governments. This was the true meaning of his Chap. XX.} 1775. Feb. motion, though clauses were added to make it less unpalatable to the pride of the British legislature. Franklin was persuaded that he sincerely wished to satisfy the Americans; Jefferson, on reading the bill, hoped that it might bring on a reconciliation; but Samuel Adams saw danger lurking under even a conditional recognition of the supremacy of parliament. Let us take care, said he, lest, instead of a thorn in the foot, we have a dagger in the heart. No sooner had Chatham concisely invited the assistance of the house in adapting his crude materials to the great end of an honorable and permanent adjustment, than Dartmouth spoke of the magnitude of the subject, and ask
spoke, and Chap. XXV.} 1775. April. his words fell like a doom of fate. He was supported by Richard Henry Lee, who made an estimate of the force which Britain could employ against the colonies, and after comparing it with their means of resistance, proclaimed, that the auspices were good; adding, that Thrice is he armed, who hath his quarrel just! The resolutions were adopted. To give them effect, a committee was raised, consisting of Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Washington, Jefferson, and others, who in a few days reported a plan for the establishment of a well-regulated militia by forming in every county one or more volunteer companies and troops of horse, to be in constant training and readiness to act on any emergency. Whatever doubts had been before expressed, the plan was unanimously accepted. Nicholas would even have desired the more energetic measure of organizing an army. The convention also voted to encourage the manufacture of woollen, cotton, and linen; o
y. Wise philosophy would have compared the systems of government, and would have lost from hesitation the glory of opening a new era on mankind. The humble trainbands at Concord acted, and God was with them. I never heard from any person the least expression of a wish for a separation, Franklin, not long before, had said to Chatham. In October, 1774, Washington wrote, No such thing as independence is desired by any thinking man in America. Before the nineteenth of April, 1775, relates Jefferson, I never had heard a whisper of a disposition to separate from Great Britain. Just thirtyseven days had passed, since John Adams in Boston published to the world: That there are any who pant after independence, is the greatest slander on the province. The American revolution did not proceed from precarious intentions. It grew out of the soul of the people, and was an inevitable result of a living affection for freedom, which actuated harmonious effort as certainly as the beating of th
le with clear perceptions of the path of public duty. When parliament oppressed the colonies by the imposing of taxes, Jefferson would have been content with their repeal; when the charter and laws of Massachusetts were mutilated and set aside by t he still hoped for conciliation through the wisdom of Chatham. But after Lexington green had been stained with blood, Jefferson would no longer accept acts of repeal, unless accompanied by security against future aggression. The finances of Virgiavowal of an intention to raise, free, and arm slaves. Meantime their consultations extended through several days, and Jefferson was selected to draft their reply. While the house was thus engaged, Dunmore received an express from Gage to acquai persuade himself, that the infatuation of the British ministry was so blind as to neglect them all. From Williamsburg, Jefferson repaired to Philadelphia; but before he arrived there, decisive communications had been received from Massachusetts.