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‘ [377] colony, and would readily embrace every opportu-
Chap. XLIV.} 1776. May.
nity of obeying any commands from the convention.’

To that body were chosen more than one hundred and thirty of the ablest and most weighty men of Virginia. Among them were no rash enthusiasts for liberty; no lovers of revolution for the sake of change; no ambitious demagogues hoping for advancement by the overthrow of existing institutions; they were the choice of the freeholders of Virginia, and the majority were men of independent fortune or even opulence. It was afterwards remembered that of this grave assembly the members were for the most part men of large stature and robust frames, and that a very great proportion of them lived to exceeding old age. They were now to decide whether Virginia demanded independence, and if so, they were to establish a commonwealth; and in making this decision they moved like a pillar of fire in front of the whole country.

When the delegates had assembled and appointed a clerk, Richard Bland recommended Edmund Pendleton to be chosen president, and was seconded by Archibald Cary; while Thomas Johnson of Louisa, and Bartholomew Dandridge proposed Thomas Ludwell Lee. For a moment there was something like an array of parties, but it instantly subsided; Virginia showed her greatness by her moderation, and gave to the world new evidence that the revolution sprung from necessity, by placing in the chair Pendleton, the most cautious and conservative among the patriots.

The convention, after having been employed for some days on current business, resolved itself into a committee of the whole on the state of the colony;

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