possess all the weight, stability, and dignity due to
CHAP. Lxviii} 1776.
the importance of their office.
But Patrick Henry
, and the other chief members of the convention did not share this dread of the power of the people; and nothing more was conceded than that two only of the eight councillors should be triennially changed, so that the whole body was to be renewed only once in the course of twelve years. The governor with their advice had the appointment of militia officers and of justices of the peace; but the general assembly by joint ballot elected the treasurer, the judges, and officers of the higher courts.
The general assembly like the British parliament consisted of two branches; an annual house of delegates; and a senate of twenty four members.
The state was to be divided into twenty four districts for the choice of senators, of whom one fourth was to be renewed each year.
The convention recognised the territorial rights of Maryland
, and the Carolinas, and the limit set by the peace of 1763; otherwise it claimed jurisdiction over all the region, granted by the second charter of King James the First.
The privilege of purchasing Indian titles was reserved to the public; but by resolves of the convention, a right of pre-emption was secured to actual settlers on unappropriated lands.
In framing the constitution George Mason
had a principal part, aided by the active participation of Richard Henry Lee
and of George Wythe
; a form of government, sent by Jefferson
, arrived too late; but his draft of a preamble was adopted; and he was looked to by Wythe
to become the author of further reform.
The institutions of Virginia
then established, like every thing else which is the work of man's hands,