mainly from adventurers, who were not fugitives for
conscience' sake, or sufferers from persecution, or passionate partisans of monarchy.
The population had been recruited by successive infusions of Scotch-Irish Presbyterians; Huguenots, and the descendants of Huguenots; men who had been so attached to Cromwell
or to the republic, that they preferred to emigrate on the return of Charles the Second; Baptists, and other dissenters; and in the valley of Virginia
there was already a very large German population.
Beside all these, there was the great body of the backwoodsmen, rovers from Maryland
, not caring much for the record of their lineage.
The territory for which the convention was to act was not a limited one like that of Sparta
; beginning at the ocean, it comprised the great bay of the Chesapeake
, with its central and southern tributaries; the beautiful valleys on the head springs of the Roanoke
and along the whole course of the Shenandoah
; the country beyond the mountains, including the sources of the Monongahela
and the Cumberland river
, and extending indefinitely to the Tennessee
and beyond it. Nor that only; Virginia
insisted that its jurisdiction stretched without bounds over all the country west and northwest of a line two hundred miles north of Old Point
Comfort, not granted to others by royal charters; and there was no one to dispute a large part of this claim except the province of Quebec
under an act of parliament which the continental congress had annulled.
For all this wide region, rich in soil, precious minerals, healing springs, forests, convenient marts for foreign commerce, the great pathways to the west, more fertile, more spacious