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[275] acquainted with the forms of business in the house, or
chap. XIII.} 1765. May.
with its members, he saw the time for the enforcement of the stamp-tax drawing near, while all the other colonies, through timid hesitation, or the want of opportunity, still remained silent, and cautious loyalty hushed the experienced statesmen of his own. More than half the assembly had made the approaching close of the session an excuse for returning home. But Patrick Henry disdained submission. Alone, a burgess of but a few days, unadvised and unassisted, in an auspicious moment, of which the recollection cheered him to his latest day, he came forward in the committee of the whole house, and while Thomas Jefferson, a young collegian, from the mountain frontier, stood outside of the closed hall, eager to catch the first tidings of resistance, and George Washington, as is believed, was in his place as a member, he maintained by resolutions,1 that the inhabitants of Virginia inherited from the first adventurers and settlers of that Dominion, equal franchises with the people of Great Britain; that royal charters had declared this equality; that taxation by themselves, or by persons chosen by themselves to represent them, was the distinguishing characteristic of British freedom and of the constitution; that the people of that most ancient colony had uninterruptedly enjoyed the right of being thus governed by their own laws respecting their internal polity and taxation; that this right had never been forfeited, nor in any other way given up,

1 For the authentic copy of Henry's Resolutions as first proposed, see Wirt's Patrick Henry, Section Second.

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