Front Matter
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Half Title
 Parentage - Early life - 1736-...
 Professional life - 1760-1764
 Political troubles with England...
 Entrance on public life - Resolutions...
 Practice in the general court -...
 Renewed troubles with England -...
 Irritating measures of England...
 Union of American opposition -...
 Political forecast - 1774
 Continental congress - 1774
 Arming the colony - 1774-1775
 Reclamation of the gunpowder -...
 Colonel of first Virginia regiment...
 Close of military service...
 Progress of the revolution...
 Virginia convention - Independence...
 Virginia convention - Constitution...
 Governor of Virginia - First term...
 Governor of Virginia - First term...
 Governor of Virginia - First term...
 Governor of Virginia - Second term...
 Governor of Virginia - Second term...
 Governor of Virginia - Second term...
 Governor of Virginia - Second term...

Group Title: Patrick Henry; life, correspondence and speeches
Title: Patrick Henry life, correspondence and speeches
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00076205/00001
 Material Information
Title: Patrick Henry life, correspondence and speeches
Physical Description: 3 v. : front. (port.) ; 24 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Henry, William Wirt, 1831-1900
Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons
Place of Publication: New York
Publication Date: 1891
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Statement of Responsibility: by William Wirt Henry ...
General Note: "Limited edition, eleven hundred copies, printed from type."
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00076205
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 00727087
lccn - 11016723

Table of Contents
    Front Matter
        Page i
        Page ii
        Page iii
    Title Page
        Page iv
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
    Table of Contents
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
        Page xv
        Page xvi
        Page xvii
        Page xviii
        Page xix
        Page xx
    Half Title
        Page xxi
    Parentage - Early life - 1736-1760
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
        Page 5
        Page 6
        Page 7
        Page 8
        Page 9
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        Page 19
        Page 20
        Page 21
        Page 22
        Page 23
    Professional life - 1760-1764
        Page 24
        Page 24a
        Page 25
        Page 26
        Page 27
        Page 28
        Page 29
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        Page 48
    Political troubles with England - 1764-1765
        Page 49
        Page 50
        Page 51
        Page 52
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    Entrance on public life - Resolutions against stamp act - 1765
        Page 70
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    Practice in the general court - 1766-1773
        Page 107
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    Renewed troubles with England - 1766-1773
        Page 128
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    Irritating measures of England - 1772-1774
        Page 154
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    Union of American opposition - 1774
        Page 174
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    Political forecast - 1774
        Page 203
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    Continental congress - 1774
        Page 218
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    Arming the colony - 1774-1775
        Page 248
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    Reclamation of the gunpowder - Second congress - 1775
        Page 276
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    Colonel of first Virginia regiment - 1775
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    Close of military service - 1776
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    Progress of the revolution - 1776
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    Virginia convention - Independence - 1776
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    Virginia convention - Constitution making - 1776
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    Governor of Virginia - First term - 1776
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    Governor of Virginia - First term - 1776
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    Governor of Virginia - First term - 1777
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    Governor of Virginia - Second term - 1777-8
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    Governor of Virginia - Second term - 1778
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    Governor of Virginia - Second term - 1778
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    Governor of Virginia - Second term - 1778
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Full Text

** Limited Edition, eleven hundred copies,
printed from type.


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IN preparing his sketch of Patrick Henry, Will-
iam Wirt, his first biographer, admits that the ma-
terials he had been able to collect were scanty and
meagre, and utterly disproportionate to the great
fame of Mr. Henry." The author of these volumes
can make no such excuse for their deficiencies. He
has had access to nearly all of the material used
by Mr. Wirt, including most of the communications
received from the contemporaries of Mr. Henry,
which have been kindly furnished by Dr. William
Wirt; and to a mass of matter which it was not
the good fortune of Mr. Wirt to examine. A most
important part of this additional matter consists of
the private papers of Mr. Henry, left at Red Hill,
which came into the possession of his youngest son,
John Henry, the father of the author. To these,
fortunately, has been added a considerable corre-
spondence, gathered from different quarters, which,
though far from being complete, throws a flood of
light on Mr. Henry's career, and is of great value in
estimating the part he bore in the American Revolu-
tion, and the important period that followed it.
The correspondence and works of his contempo-
raries, published within this century, have also
added greatly to the material for a life of Patrick


Henry. Among these should be specially men-
tioned the letters of George Washington, Richard
Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison,
and the diary of John Adams during the Congress
of 1774. In the State Department at Washington,
among the papers of Washington and of the Con-
tinental Congress, many letters of Patrick Henry
have been found which have never been printed, and
many more have been discovered among the Execu-
tive and Legislative papers preserved at the Capitol
at Richmond. In addition, access has been had to
the Executive journal kept during nearly all of
Mr. Henry's service of five years as Governor, and
to his Executive letter-book after the Revolution,
from which a few letters have been copied. The
missing volumes were destroyed, or carried away,
during the raid of Arnold in 1781. The author
has also been fortunate in finding, in print or in
MS., the journals of nearly every session of the
deliberative bodies in which Mr. Henry served, and
the legislative papers of the House of Delegates of
Virginia, from the commencement of its existence
as a State in 1776.
In using the material thus put at his command
he has been greatly aided by the admirable volume
of Dr. Moses Coit Tyler on Patrick Henry, which
appeared while this work was in preparation.
In collecting the correspondence of Mr. Henry
the author has been under obligations to a number
of persons who have sent him copies of original
letters in their possession. Among these he would
mention Hon. Lyman C. Draper, of Wisconsin;
Mrs. Susan Bullitt Dixon, of Kentucky; Colonel


Charles C. Jones, of Georgia; Professor William
Winston Fountaine, of Texas; Z. T. Hollingsworth,
of Boston; John B. Thacher, of Albany; Dr. Tho-
mas Addis Emmet, D. McN. Stauffer, and William
R. Benjamin, of New York; F. D. Stone, A. Gratz,
Charles Roberts, and John W. Jordan, of Philadel-
phia; Reverend I. Edwards, of Plymouth, Pa., and
Hon. I. Stamford Raffles, of Liverpool, England.
He would also acknowledge his indebtedness to Miss
Kate Mason Rowland, of Baltimore, who, from her
collection of material for a Life of George Mason,
has furnished him with valuable papers. From
the gentlemen in charge of the MSS., in Wash-
ington and Richmond, he has met with the most
courteous assistance. He would here express his
thanks, not only for the aid extended him in col-
lecting material for his work, but for the expres-
sions of interest in it which have reached him from
so many quarters.
The task of the author has been performed in
the midst of exacting professional engagements,
and under the disadvantage of inexperienced au-
thorship. He is aware that he has not done justice
to his subject, but he trusts that the material he
has been able to gather will enable the world to
form a more just estimate of the character and
genius of Patrick Henry, and of his great services
to his country.


PARENTAGE-EARLY LIFE.-1736-1760 ............... 1
Parentage. -Winstons, Henrys, Robertsons. Patrick
Henry's Birth, Youth, Education.-Influence of Rev.
Samuel Davies on Him.-Mercantile Life.-Marriage.-
Life as a Farmer and Merchant.-Studies Law.-Obtains
License to Practise.


PROFESSIONAL LIFE.-1760-1764 ..................... 24
Begins Practice of Law in Fall of 1760.-His Fee Books
Preserved.-Large Practice from the Beginning of His
Professional Life.-The "Parson's Cause."-Events Lead-
ing to It and Issues Involved in It.--Mr. Henry's Appear-
ance in It.--First Exhibition of His Genius as an Orator.-
Large Increase of His Practice.-His Appearance in Will-
iamsburg in the Contested Election Case of Dandridge vs.
Littlepage.-Purchase of a Farm in Louisa County.-
Judge Lyons's Account of His Manner at the Bar.


Cause of Troubles between England and the American
Colonies. -Charter Rights.-Local Governments.-Virginia
Early Claims the Sole Right to Tax Herself.-Commercial
Restrictions.-Colonial Government in England.-Laws of
Trade.-Power of Parliament.-Effort at Union in 1754.-
Defeat of Plans.--James Otis and Writs of Search.-War
between England and France.-Peace of Paris in 1763,


and Immense Territory Secured to England in America--
Joy in America.--Taxation of America Proposed in Parlia-
ment.-Parties Created by It.-Protest against It.-The
Stamp Act.-Its Reception in America.-Submission Ex-
pected and Prepared for in the Colonies.-What would
have been its Effect.


ACT.-1765 .................................. 70
Election of Mr. Henry to the House of Burgesses.-
Character of the House.-Lower Counties and Upper Coun-
ties.-Characteristics of the People.-Proposition to make
a Public Loan to Relieve Individual Embarrassments.-
Eloquent Speech of Mr. Henry in Opposition.-Resolu-
tions against the Stamp Act Introduced by Mr. Henry,
May 29, 1765, and Carried against the Opposition of the
Old Leaders.-Mr. Jefferson's Account of the Debate.-
Accounts of Governor Fauquier and Rev. William Robin-
son.-Contemporaneous Evidence Concerning the Number
of Resolutions Offered and Passed.-Leadership of the Col-
ony accorded Mr. Henry as a Consequence of His Action.-
Effect of His Resolves on the Colonies.-Resistance to the
Execution of the Act.-Stamp Act Congress.-Mr. Henry's
Fame.-He Gave the Initial Impulse to the Revolution.


PRACTICE IN THE GENERAL COURT.-1766-1773 ........ 107
Change in the British Ministry.-Repeal of the Stamp Act
with Claim of Power in Parliament over Colonies.-Joy
in England and America.-The New Assembly.-Division
of Office of Speaker and Treasurer.-Friendship of Richard
Henry Lee and Mr. Henry.-Acts for Additional Taxation
on Importation of Slaves, and for Relieving Quakers from
Military Service.-Fragment of a Paper by Mr. Henry.-
Persecution of Baptist Ministers.-Mr. Henry Enlists in
their Defence.-His Success at the Bar.-Practises in the
General Court.-His Power over Juries.-Description of
Him as He Appeared in the General Court, Given by
Judge St. George Tucker.


Determination of British Government to Exercise the
Right of Taxation in the Colonies.-Billeting Bill, and
Port Duties on Wine, Oil, etc.-Discussion of American
Rights by Able Writers through the Press.-Letter of
Massachusetts Assembly in 1768 to the Colonies, on their
Rights, drawn by Samuel Adams.-The Action of the Vir-
ginia Assembly.-Mr. Henry as a Leader.-Address of Par-
liament to King Concerning Trial of Americans in England.
-Attempts to Separate other Colonies from Massachusetts.
-Virginia Determines to Make Common Cause with Her.
-Non-importation Agreement Entered into by Virginians
and other Colonists.-Difficulties of the Ministry, and De-
termination to Repeal Duty Act, Except as to Tea.-Popu-
larity of Lord Botetourt as Governor.-Indian Troubles.
-Proposed Lines between the Whites and the Indians.-
Agreement not to Use Tea, and Committees in Counties to
Enforce Agreement.-Mr. Henry as a Committee Man.-
Death of Lord Botetourt.-Lord Dunmore Succeeds Him
as Governor.- New Assembly. Protests against Slave
Trade.-Mr. Henry on Slavery.


Attempt to Govern by Royal Instructions. -Act for Se-
curing Dockyards, Ships, and Stores.-Affair of the Gas-
pee.-Inquiry into it by a Commission with Secret Orders.
-Death of Colonel John Henry.-New Assembly.-Rebuke
to the Governor for Disregard of the Criminal Laws.-Law
Against Counterfeiting.-Acts for Internal Improvement.
-Committees of Correspondence Advised, and One Ap-
pointed for Virginia.-Incidents Relating to the Resolu-
tions, and Mr. Henry's Part in Them.-Judge Tucker's
Account of Mr. Henry in this Assembly.--Hearty Response
of the Other Colonies to the Proposal of Virginia, as Tend-
ing to Union.-What was the Honor Due to Virginia in
this Regard ?-Effect upon the Ministry.-Adjournment of
the Rhode Island Commission.-Embarrassment of the
East India Company.-Act for Their Relief.-Duty on Tea


Shipped to America Arouses Opposition.-The Consignees
in Three Ports Forced to Resign.-At Boston the Tea
Thrown Overboard by Disguised Men.-Rage of the Minis-
try.-Bill to Close the Port of Boston.


UNION OF AMERICAN OPPOSITION.-1774............... 174
Meeting of House of Burgesses, May, 1774.-Trouble
with Indians and Pennsylvania. -Refusal of House to
Raise Regular Troops.-Consultation of Patriots About
Political Affairs.-Boston Port Bill Arrives.-Notice Taken
of It.-Dissolution of the House.-Action of Members
Afterward.-Non-importation and Annual Congress Recom-
mended, with Delegates to be Elected by a Convention.
-Mr. Henry the Leader in the Measures.-Splendid Trib-
ute to Him by George Mason.-Tributes to Virginia by
other Colonies.--Effect of the Fast Day Recommended.-
Tyrannous Acts of Parliament in Reference to Massachu-
setts and the Colonies.-General Gage Sent with Four
Regiments to Enforce Them.-Firmness of the People.-
Instructions of Hanover County to Patrick Henry and John
Syme, Delegates to the Convention.-Commercial Non-
intercourse Relied on for Redress of Grievances.-Boston
Fed by the Patriots.-Virginia Convention.-Delegates to
Congress.-Instructions to Them.


POLITICAL FORECAST.--1774 ........................ 203
New Assembly Ordered.-Same Members Returned.-
Prorogued till November.-Governor Heads an Expedition
against the Indians on the Ohio.-Battle of Point Pleasant.
-Treaty with the Indians.-Resolutions of Officers to Offer
Their Swords in Defence of American Liberty.-Dunmore
Rebuked by Government, which did not Wish to Extend
Settlements Westward.-Mr. Henry's Forecast of the Re-
sult of the Struggle Going on with England.-Sketch of
Him at this Period by Edmund Randolph.-Entertained
at Mount Vernon on His Way to Philadelphia.-Arrival
with Washington and Pendleton.-Cordial Reception.-


Character of the Congress.-Some of Its Principal Charac-
ters.-The Great Reputation with which He Took His


CONTINENTAL CONGRESS.--1774 ...................... 218
Meeting of Congress.-Mr. Henry Opens its Discussions.
-Question of Representation.-Work of the Congress.-
Proposal of Joseph Galloway Opposed by Mr. Henry, who
Declares He Expects Their Measures to Lead to War.-
Virginia Leads the Congress.-Mr. Henry and R. H. Lee
on Nearly All the Committees.-The Addresses Put Forth
by the Body.-Mr. Henry's Want of Confidence in Their
Effect.-Their Impression in America and England. -Their
Authorship.-Impressions Made by Mr. Henry on the Body.
-His Estimate of John Rutledge and George Washington.


ARMING THE COLONY.-1774-1775 ..................... 248
Letter of Patrick Henry's Mother.--Conduct of Governor
Dunmore.-Hanover County, under the Influence of Pat-
rick Henry, Leads in Adopting the Association, and Ap-
pointing a Committee to Enforce It.-Virginia Aids in
Supporting the People of Boston.-Hanover Volunteers
Enlisted.--Effect of the Addresses of Congress in England.
-Second Virginia Convention.-Patrick Henry Moves to
Arm the Colony.--His Eloquent Speech in Support of His
Motion.-Accounts Given by Edmund Randolph, John
Tyler, and St. George Tucker.-Description by a Baptist
Clergyman.-By John Roane.-By Thomas Marshall.-
Proceedings in Parliament.-Ordinances of the Virginia


1775......................................... 276
Seizure of the Gunpowder at Williamsburg by Governor
Dunmore.-March of Mr. Henry at the Head of the Hanover
Volunteers to Obtain Satisfaction.-Payment Made to Him


by Order of the Governor.-Proclamation of the Governor
Against Him.-He is Condemned by the Council, but
Applauded by the People in County Meetings.-His Let-
ter to Francis L. Lee on the Subject.-He is Escorted
Across the Potomac on His Way to Congress.-Mr. Henry
Looking to Independence.-Congress of 1775.-New Mem-
bers.--Difficulties Besetting It.-Determines to Act on
Defensive.--Rejects Lord North's Proposals.-Determines
to Fortify the Hudson and Adopt the Army before Boston.
-Washington made Commander-in-Chief.-Other Officers.
-Measures of Congress.-Papers Issued.-Mr. Henry as a
Committee Man.-His Letter to General Washington.


Virginia Riflemen Sent to Boston.-Meeting of the As-
sembly.-Difficulties with Governor Dunmore.-His Flight.
-Demand of Hanover Presbytery for Religious Liberty.-
Meeting of Third Convention.-George Mason a Member.
-Troops Ordered to be Raised. Patrick Henry Made
Colonel of the First Regiment and Commander of Virginia
Forces.-Committee of Safety Appointed.-Address of Con-
vention.-Enthusiastic Reception of Colonel Henry by His
Troops.-The Colonies Declared to be in a State of Re-
bellion. -War Upon Virginia by Dunmore.-The Com-
mittee of Safety Prevent Colonel Henry from Taking the
Field.-Battle of Great Bridge.-Meeting of Elizabeth
Henry and William Campbell.


CLOSE OF MILITARY SERVICE.-1776 .................. 331
Convention of December, 1775.-War Measures.-Treat-
ment of Colonel Henry by the Committee of Safety.-
Colonel Woodford Refuses to Report to Him.-Scope of
Colonel Henry's Commission.-The Question Left to the
Committee of Safety.-Its Compromise.-Virginia Troops
Transferred to Congress. -New Commission Offered
Colonel Henry, Lowering His Rank.-He Refuses to Ac-
cept It.-Excitement Produced by His Action.-His Course


Applauded by His Officers and Men.-Publications in the
Gazette.-Pendleton Blamed.


PROGRESS OF THE REVOLUTION.-1776 ................ 358
Bitterness of the King. Debates in Parliament on
American Affairs.-Firmness of the Friends of America.-
Vindictiveness of the Administration.-Effect in America.
-Evidence that Independence had not been Previously
Desired.-Alleged Mecklenburg Declaration.-Change in
American Sentiment as to Independence.-Difficulties in
the Way.-Congress Hampered.-The People of Virginia
Declare for Independence.-Charlotte County Instructions.
-All Eyes Turned upon Patrick Henry.-Letters to Him.


Character of Members.-James Madison and Edmund
Randolph Enter Public Life.-Patrick Henry Leads the
Convention.-Arranges for General Thomas Nelson to Move
Independence.-Supports the Resolution with Overpower-
ing Eloquence.-History of the Motion in the Convention.
-Opposition of Robert Carter Nicholas.-Public Demon-
strations of Joy by the Army and People of Williamsburg.
-Hearty Approval Throughout America.-The Virginia
Resolutions in Congress.-Declaration of Independence.-
Articles of Confederation.


Power of Convention to Frame a Constitution.-A Writ-
ten Constitution Determined on.-Patrick Henry's Views.
-Correspondence with John Adams.-Plan of Adams Ap-
proved by R. H. Lee and Patrick Henry.-Draft of Bill of
Rights by George Mason.-Patrick Henry's Part in Per-
fecting It.-Analysis of the Bill of Rights.-Sources from



Whence Derived.-Important Sections Proposed by Pat-
rick Henry.-He Inserts the Principle of Religious Liberty.
-Mason's Plan of a Constitution.-Compared with Adams'
Plan, and the Instrument Adopted.-Proposals of Patriek
Henry.-Plan of Mr. Jefferson.


GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA.-FIRST TERM.--1776 .......... 444
Election of Patrick Henry as Governor.-Letter of Ac-
ceptance. -Important Ordinances of the Convention.-Sick-
ness of Governor Henry.-Address of Congratulations to
Him by the First and Second Virginia Regiments.-Similar
Address by the Baptist Association.-Replies of Governor
Henry.-Importance of the Period at which He Entered
upon His Office.-Evidence of His Great Executive Abili-
ties Afforded by the Journal.-State of the War in Virginia.
-Dunmore Driven Away.-Indian War on the Western
Border.-Expedition Under Colonel William Christian.-
Richard Henderson's Purchase from the Indians. -His
Claims to Kentucky.-First Appearance of George Rogers
Clark in Kentucky.-His Visit to Governor Henry.-Aid
Extended Him for Kentucky.


Onerous Duties Devolved on the Executive.--Needs and
Perils of the State.-Correspondence with Washington.-
Creation of a Virginia Navy.-Its Great Services and Hero-
ism.-Munitions of War Supplied.-Troops Furnished the
Continental Army.-Arrangements to Obtain Intelligence
from the Army.-Effect of Declaration of Independence in
England.-Campaign in America.-Retreat through New
Jersey. Reduced Condition of Washington's Army. -
Battles of Trenton and Princeton.-Virginia Assembly.-
Its Important Work.-Religious Liberty.-Alarm at Re-
verses at the North.-Enlarges Powers of Governor.-A1-
leged Scheme for a Dictatorship.


Re-enlistment of Virginia Troops.-Difficulties Besetting
the Executive.-Efforts of Governor Henry to Fill up Vir-
ginia's Quota of Troops.-Correspondence with Lee and
Washington. -A Draft Ordered.--Indian Hostilities.-
British Subjects Sent Out of Virginia.-Meeting of As-
sembly.-Confidential Letter of Washington to the Gover-
nor.-Acts of the Assembly.-Unanimous Re-election of
Patrick Henry as Governor.-Attack upon Richard Henry
Lee in the Assembly.-His Triumphant Vindication.-Gov-
ernor Henry Visits His Home, and Arranges for His Sec-
ond Marriage.


Vigorous Measures of British Ministry.-Plan of Cam-
paign.-Battle of Saratoga.-Battle of Brandywine.-Occu-
pation of Philadelphia.- Treaty with France.-Effect in
England.-Death of the Earl of Chatham.-Serious Effect
in America of the Depreciation of the Currency.-Procla-
mation of Governor Henry.-His Effort to Sustain Public
Credit.-To Recruit the Army.-To Protect the Coast.-
Correspondence with Washington.-Attempt to Engage
Governor Henry in Plot to Supersede Washington.-His
Patriotic Conduct.


Distressing Condition of the Army.-Exertions of Gover-
nor Henry to Relieve It.-His Letter to Congress.--Alarm-
ing Letter from General Washington.-Governor Henry's
Efficient Action Relieves the Army at Valley Forge, and
Prevents It from Disbanding.-Important Action of Con-
gress in Aid of the Army.-Arrival of the French Minis-
ter and British Commissioners.-Attempt to Defeat the
French Treaty.-Strong Feeling of Governor Henry.-Let-
ter to Richard Henry Lee.-Congress Declines the British


Proposals.-Attempt of Commissioners to Communicate
with Virginia Foiled.-The Aid of France Indispensable
to American Success.-Indian Troubles.-Murder of Corn-
stalk.-Action of Governor Henry in Consequence.-Re-
taliation by the Indians.-Proposed Expedition Against


GOVERNOR OF VIRGINIA.-SECOND TER.-1778 ........... 580
British Occupation of the Northwest.-Plan of George
Rogers Clark to Attack their Forts.-Approved by Gover-
nor Henry.-Arrangements Made and Instructions Given
by Him.-Force Enlisted by Clark.-His Brilliant Cam-
paign. Difficulties Surrounding His Occupation of the
Country. Governor Henry's Foresight as to the Missis-
sippi and the St. Lawrence Rivers.-Clark's Attack upon
St. Vincent's.-Capture of Governor Hamilton.-Manage-
ment of the Indians.-Failure of Re-enforcements from Ken-
tucky.-Important Services of Oliver Pollock in Aid of


Expedition of Colonel David.Rogers to the Lower Mis-
sissippi.-Stores sent by Spain to New Orleans for Virginia.
-Instructions to Colonel Rogers.-Experiences of Colonel
Rogers and His Men.-Disturbances in Virginia by Tories.
-Josiah Phillips and His Band.-Action of Governor
Henry and of the Legislature in Reference to Them.-
British and Quaker Prisoners sent to Virginia.-Foreign
Officers Seeking Employment. The Governor Obtains
Munitions of War and Loans from Europe.-James Madi-
son in the Council.-Second Marriage of Governor Henry.
-His Estate.-His Purchase of Lands in Henry County.-
Third Election as Governor.





Parentage. -Winstons, Henrys, Robertsons.-Patrick Henry's Birth
Youth, Education.-Influence of Rev. Samuel Davies on Him.-
Mercantile Life.--Marriage.-Life as a Farmer and Merchant.
-Studies Law.-Obtains License to Practise.

WITHIN the first quarter of the eighteenth century,
three brothers of the ancient and honorable family
of Winston, of Yorkshire, England,1 emigrated from
Wales to the Colony of Virginia. They were
named William, Isaac, and James, and from them
have descended a numerous posterity, which has em-
braced many of the most distinguished of American
citizens. Isaac Winston married Mary Dabney and
resided in the County of Hanover. Among their
children was a daughter, Sarah, who married Col-
onel John Syme, and lived in the same county.
There also emigrated to Virginia, some time prior
to 1730, John Henry, the son of Alexander Henry
and Jean Robertson, of Aberdeen, Scotland. John
Henry was a friend of Robert Dinwiddie, who be-
came Governor of Virginia in 1752, and it is said
I The Duke of Marlborough was descended from the Gloucestershire
branch of the family.


brought a letter of introduction from him to Colonel
John Syme.' It is very probable that the families
were at this time connected in Scotland, and that
this fact caused John Henry to make his way to
Hanover on his arrival in Virginia. However this
may be, it is certain that he soon became domesti-
cated in the family of Colonel Syme.
The author is indebted to Sir Mitchell Henry, of
Kylemore Castle, Galway, Ireland, for years a dis-
tinguished member of Parliament, for some account
of the Henry family of Scotland. He writes: "Al-
though the recent Henrys are of Scotch extraction,
the family was originally Norman, and will be
found in the Livre des Conquerants of William the
Conqueror; and in Brittany there are many Henrys,
(not Henri) still remaining. Some of the Henrys
after the Conquest settled in England, and some
went north to Scotland, and are to be found in 1153
in Hampshire, Bedfordshire, and Surrey, among the
latter in 1196, Alexander filius Henrici. I have lit-
tle doubt that if anyone would take the trouble to
do it, a very complete history of the family name
could be traced, as their names occur in the roll of
Battle Abbey, and in Domesday Book, and in the
Great Rolls of the Pipe, 1153." Of his own family
he writes: "The branch from which I descended
came from Scotland to Ireland in the year 1616, at
the plantation of Ulster, and settled as substantial
yeomen at Loughbrickland, County Down, which
they still possess. The names of Alexander, Pat-
rick, Archibald, and Hugh were common with them.
There are other Henrys in Ireland, who have a peli-
can as coat of arms, of whom Hugh Henry, of Straf-
Wirt's Life of Patrick Henry, 20, edition of 1836.


fan, was the representative, and married into the
family of the Duke of Leicester. The late Sir
Thomas Henry, the chief magistrate of London,
lately dead, was a Henry professing the Roman Cath-
olic religion, and the son of William Henry, of Dub-
lin, who was employed in a romantic attempt to res-
cue Marie Antoinette from prison and the scafEold."'
John Henry, the emigrant, was second cousin to
David Henry, who, leaving Scotland for London at
the age of fourteen, became a journeyman printer in
the same office with Benjamin Franklin, and after-
ward married the sister of Edward Cave, the foun-
der of the "Gentleman's Magazine." He was for
more than fifty years an associate editor of that val-
uable publication, and was an accomplished scholar
and writer. David Henry described his Henry kin
in Scotland as more respected for their good sense
and superior education than for their riches; as at
every neighboring meeting of gentlemen they were
among the foremost." 2
Jean Robertson, the mother of John Henry, was a
sister of Rev. William Robertson, the father of Dr.
William Robertson, the distinguished scholar, his-
torian, and divine." One of the sisters of Dr. Rob-
ertson married a Syme, doubtless a relation of Col-
onel John Syme, of Virginia. She was the mother
of Eleanor Syme, the mother of Henry Brougham,
who considered himself indebted to her for his tal-
ents.4 The Robertsons were descendants of the
Duncans of Scotland, and William Robertson was
said to have had the blood of John Knox in his
I MS. letter dated September 21, 1876. 2 Gentleman's Magazine."
3 She is sometimes represented as a sister of Dr. Robertson, but the
dates of birth of his sisters disprove this.
4 Life and Times of Lord Brougham, written by himself, i., 17.


veins.1 Donald, a younger brother of Jean Robert-
son, emigrated to Virginia, and conducted a classi-
cal school in King and Queen County, at which
James Madison was prepared for Princeton College.
Madison referred to him in after-life as his learned
teacher." 2 Donald Robertson was related to the
late learned Chief-Justice of Kentucky, George
John Henry was a man of classical education.
The Rev. Samuel Davies, himself a finished classical
scholar, describes him as a man more familiar with
his Horace than with his Bible.3 He was by no
means deficient, however, in his knowledge of the
latter, as is abundantly shown by a letter to his
brother, the Rev. Patrick Henry, which has been
preserved. In it he refers to a discussion going on
between himself, Colonel Richard Bland, and Com-
missary Blair upon the doctrine of eternal punish-
ment, which he defends by a critical examination of
the Greek text of the New Testament.4 He is de-
scribed by his acquaintances as a man of plain but
solid understanding, a zealous member of the Estab-
lished Church, and warmly attached to the reigning
family. He led a life of irreproachable integrity
and exemplary piety, and won the full confidence of
the community in which he lived. He filled the
offices of county surveyor and presiding magistrate
of the county of Hanover, and was colonel of its
regiment of militia. As their commanding officer he
convened the militia at the Court House, and cele-
brated the coronation of George the Third by mak-

Life and Times of Lord Brougham, written by himself, i., 82.
SRives's Madison, i., 10. 3 Grigsby's Virginia Convention of 1776, 145.
4 Evangelical Magazine," iii., 173.


ing them perform a number of evolutions, and burn
a quantity of gunpowder, little dreaming that a son
of his would be instrumental in separating America
from his Majesty's dominions.
Colonel John Syme died in the year 1731, as
near as can be ascertained, leaving one child, a son,
and a most attractive widow, who has been so well
described by Colonel William Byrd, of Westover,
that the passage may well be transcribed. In his
"Progress to the Mines," under date of October 7,
1732, he writes:
"In the evening Tinsley conducted me to Mrs.
Syme's house, where I intended to take up my
quarters. This lady, at first suspecting I was some
lover, put on a gravity which becomes a weed, but
so soon as she learned who I was, brightened up
into an unusual cheerfulness and serenity. She was
a portly, handsome dame of the family of Esau, and
seemed not to pine too much for the death of her
husband, who was of the family of the Saracens.
He left a son by her, who has all the strong feat-
ures of his sire, not softened in the least by any of
"This widow is a person of a lively and cheerful
conversation, with much less reserve than most of
her countrywomen. It becomes her well, and sets
off her other agreeable qualities to advantage. We
tossed off a bottle of honest port, which we relished
with a broiled chicken." On the next day, he adds,
" I moistened my clay with a quart of milk and tea,
which I found altogether as great a help to dis-
course as the juice of the grape. The courteous
widow invited me to rest myself there that good
day, and go to church with her, but I excused my-
self by telling her she would certainly spoil my
devotions. Then she civilly entreated me to make


her house my home whenever I visited my planta-
tions, which made me bow low and thank her very

As Colonel Byrd was not only an accomplished
scholar, but was one of the wittiest men in the col-
ony, it is not to be wondered at that the gravity
of the young widow was disturbed by his polished
humor. The cheerfulness of which he speaks never
left her, and if not at that time, she soon became,
a devoted Christian. She is described as a woman
of remarkable intellectual gifts, with an unusual
command of language, and as happily uniting firm-
ness with gentleness in the management of her
family, before which she set an example of fervent
piety. Her talents, indeed, seemed a family posses-
sion; certainly her brother, William Winston, was
a person of great powers of eloquence, as the fol-
lowing account of him in a letter of Nathaniel Pope
to Mr. Wirt attests.

"I have often heard my father, who was inti-
mately acquainted with this William Winston, say,
that he was the greatest orator whom he ever heard,
Patrick Henry excepted; that during the last French
and Indian War, and soon after Braddock's defeat,
when the militia were marched to the frontier of
Virginia against the enemy, this William Winston
was the lieutenant of a company; that the men,
who were indifferently clothed, without tents, and
exposed to the rigor and inclemency of the weather,
discovered great aversion to the service, and were
anxious, and even clamorous, to return to their
families, when this William Winston, mounting a
stump, addressed them with such keenness of invec-
tive, and declaimed with such force of eloquence on


liberty and patriotism, that when he concluded the
general cry was, Let us march on; lead us against
the enemy !' and they were now willing, nay, anx-
ious, to encounter all those difficulties and dangers,
which, but a few moments before, had almost pro-
duced mutiny." 1

Not many months after this visit of Colonel
Byrd, Mrs. Syme married John Henry. Their resi-
dence was Studley, in Hanover County, the home
of Mrs. Henry before marriage, situated three miles
from Hanover town and sixteen from Richmond.
The dwelling has long since disappeared, and its site
is marked by antique hedges of box, approached
through an avenue of aged trees. The spot is sur-
rounded by a forest, which is devoid of picturesque
scenery, but which makes it literally true that the
subject of this memoir was "forest-born." A few
miles distant are the Slashes of Hanover," famous
as the birthplace of Henry Clay.
There were nine children born to John Henry and
Sarah Winston, two sons and seven daughters, and
from them has sprung a numerous progeny, includ-
ing many persons of distinction.3 The daughters
are described as being nearly all of them very
gifted. The first son was named William, after
Mrs. Henry's brother; the second, born May 29,
1736, was named Patrick, after the Rev. Patrick
Henry, the brother of John Henry. This gentleman
had been induced to come to Virginia by his
brother, through whose influence he had been made
rector of St. George's parish, in Spottsylvania
County, in April, 1733. On June 11, 1736, he be-
' Wirt's Henry, 21. 2 Lord Byron so calls him in The Age of Bronze.
3 See Appendix I.


came rector of St. Paul's parish, in Hanover County.
On the same day the Vestry Book records that John
Henry was chosen one of the vestry, and sold to
the parish a tract of land containing three hundred
and forty-eight acres, called Mount Pleasant, as a
glebe.' The two brothers, who were tenderly at-
tached to each other, afterward lived not far apart.
While Patrick Henry was still an infant his
parents removed to another home in the same coun-
ty, on the South Anna River, near Rocky Mills, and
about twenty-two miles from Richmond. This new
home was then called Mount Brilliant, but after-
ward became known as The Retreat.
Here Patrick Henry spent his youth, and received
his education. As that youth has been represented
as having been thrown away in idleness, it is fortu-
nate that the account of it given by his brother-in-
law, Colonel Samuel Meredith, has been preserved.
Colonel Meredith was four years his senior, and
lived within four miles of him. He says:

"He was sent to a common English school until
about the age of ten years, where he learned to
read and write, and acquired some little knowledge
of arithmetic. He never went to any other school,
public or private, but remained with his father, who
was his only tutor. With him he acquired a knowl-
edge of the Latin language, and a smattering of the
Greek. He became well acqainted with mathe-
matics, of which he was very fond. At the age
of fifteen he was well versed in both ancient and
modern history. Until he attained to eminence at
the bar, there was nothing very remarkable in
'Extract from Vestry Book, published in The Southern Churchman,"
April 22, 1886.


the person, mind, or manners of Mr. Henry. His
disposition was very mild, benevolent, and humane.
He was quiet, and inclined to be thoughtful, but
fond of society. From his earliest days he was an
attentive observer of everything of consequence
that passed before him. Nothing escaped his at-
tention. He was fond of reading, but indulged
much in innocent amusements. He was remarkably
fond of his gun. He interested himself much in
the happiness of others, particularly of his sisters,
whose advocate he always was when any favor or
indulgence was to be procured from their mother.
In his youth he seemed regardless of the appearance
of his outside dress, but was unusually attentive in
having clean linen and stockings. He was not re-
markable for an uncouth or a genteel appearance in
his youth. In fact, there was nothing in early life
for which he was remarkable, except his invariable
habit of close and attentive observation. He had a
nice ear for music, and when he was about the age
of twelve he had his collar-bone broken, and.during
the confinement learned to play very well on the flute.
He was also an excellent performer on the violin.
He was in early youth, as in advanced life, plain and
easy in his manners, exempt from that bashfulness
often so distressing to young persons who have not
seen much company. His father often said that he
was one of the most dutiful sons that ever lived,
and his sister, Mrs. Meredith, states, that he was
never known in his life to utter the name of God,
except on a necessary or proper occasion." 1

Another of Mr. Henry's early companions writes:

He was delighted with the Life and Opinions of
Tristram Shandy,' which I have known him to read
SMS. Narrative of Colonel Samuel Meredith, taken down by Judge
William H. Cabell and sent to Mr. Wirt.


several hours together, lying with his back upon a
bed. He had a most retentive memory, making
whatever he read his own. I never heard him quote
verbatim any passages from history or poetry, but
he would give you the fact or sentiment in his own
expressive language. He had a most extraordinary
talent for collecting the sentiments of his company
upon any subject, without discovering his own, and
he would effect this by interrogations which to the
company often appeared to be irrelevant to the sub-

It was also the testimony of several of his early
companions, that he was remarkably fond of fun,
but that his fun was innocent, and he never discov-
ered in any one action of his childhood or youth the
least spice of ill-nature or malevolence; also that he
was remarkably fond of hunting, fishing, and play-
ing on the violin." 2
From the statement of Patrick Henry in after-
life, we learn that at fifteen he had read Virgil and
Livy in the original; and from some sentences in
French written by him in a law book, in 1760, it
appears that he must have been taught something
of that language. He also told Judge Hugh Nel-
son, that a little later in life he made it a rule to
read a translation of Livy through every year.4
The character given of young Patrick Henry by
his companions indicates the careful religious train-
ing he received from his pious parents. In addition
to this it was his good fortune in his youth to come
under the influence of a man of the highest order of
SMS. Letter of Nathaniel Pope to Mr. Wirt, September 27, 1805, giving
statement of Captain George Dabney.
SId. 3 Diary of John Adams, Life and Works, ii, 396.
4 Wirt's Henry, 81.


genius and of the deepest piety. This was the cele-
brated pulpit orator, Samuel Davies. The circum-
stances leading to the residence in the County of
Hanover of this gifted man, who exercised so marked
an influence over the future of Patrick Henry, are
full of interest.
In the early part of the eighteenth century, many
of the ministers of the Established Church in Virginia
had become very unfaithful to the religion of the
Bible, both in their preaching and their manner of
life.1 Far removed from the eye of their diocesan,
the Bishop of London, and often mere clerical ad-
venturers, who had sought positions in the colony
from mercenary motives, they not only did not
preach the gospel of Jesus Christ with faithfulness
themselves, but they were unwilling that their par-
ishioners should hear it from other lips. They were
therefore careful that the laws against absenting
one's self from Episcopal services, and against at-
tending the preaching of Dissenters, should be rigor-
ously enforced in their parishes.
In the county of Hanover, about the year 1740,
four gentlemen, who had been very regular in their
attendance at church, becoming convinced that the
parish minister was not preaching the gospel,2 ab-
sented themselves from church the same day, but
without preconcert. Summoned before the magis-
trate to answer for their conduct, each learned for
the first time that three of his neighbors were un-
der the like condemnation with himself. They bore

'See this brought out in Bishop Meade's Old Churches and Families
of Virginia.
SThis minister was no doubt the rector of St. Martin's parish, and
possibly Rev. Robert Barrett. See Meade's Old Churches, i., 420.


their fines patiently, and afterward met regularly in
their private houses on the Sabbath, and read what
few religious books they could get, delighting mostly
in some volumes of Luther. Soon the attendance
became too large for a private house, and they built
houses of worship, calling them "Morris's Reading
Houses," 1 after Samuel Morris, on whose land the
first was built. From this beginning was developed
the Presbyterian Church in Hanover, which soon ex-
tended over all the colony between the mountains
and the sea-shore.
Isaac Winston, the father of Mrs. John Henry,
was probably one of the four gentlemen who ab-
sented themselves from the parish church. If not,
he soon joined them, for we find him indicted in the
General Court, held by the Governor and Council,
October 19, 1745, for permitting the Rev. John
Roane, a dissenting minister, to preach at his house.2
In 1743 Rev. William Robinson, an eminent
Presbyterian minister, was sent by the Presbytery
of Newcastle, as an evangelist to visit the churches
in Virginia. He preached to the Dissenters in Han-
over, and on leaving they expressed their gratitude
by presenting him with a considerable sum of money.
This he declined, but when he found that they had
put it into his saddle-bags, he consented to keep it,
if he were allowed to use it in educating a young
man to be sent to them as a minister. The young
man he selected was Samuel Davies.3 He was
educated at the famous classical school of Samuel
Blair, at Fogg's Manor, in Pennsylvania, and came to
Hanover in 1747,4 after first obtaining from the Gov-
Foote's Sketches of the Presbyterian Church in Virginia, 122-3.
SId., 141-2 and 161. 3Id., 129. 4 Id., 160.


ernor and Council the benefit of the toleration act,
by which he was permitted to exercise his ministry
unmolested. He continued to preach in Hanover
and the surrounding counties, until he was called
to the presidency of Princeton in 1759. This min-
istry of twelve years was only interrupted by a
mission to England in behalf of an endowment for
the college, which was entered upon in the fall of
1753, and lasted fifteen months. So successful was
he in his labors in the ministry, that he is justly re-
garded as "the father of the Presbyterian Church in
Virginia;" and his contemporaries declared that he
was "the prince..of American_ preachers," and..sec-
ond only as a pulpit orator to the great Whitefield.
I'-n person he was tall, well proportioned, erect, and
comely; his carriage easy, graceful, and dignified;
his dress neat and tasteful, and his manners pol-
ished. A distinguished Virginian well expressed
the impression his appearance made, who, seeing
him walk through a courtyard, remarked that he
looked like the embassador of some great king."
He was endowed with a voice strong, clear, and
musical, a memory from which nothing seemed to
escape, a powerful yet delicate imagination, a per-
fect command of strong, ornate, and perspicuous dic-
tion, and an animation in delivery which lighted
up his features, pervaded every look, gesture, and
movement, and seemed to blend the simplicity of
nature with the highest culture of art. Indeed, his
manner of delivery as to pronunciation, gesture, and
modulation of voice was a perfect model of the most
moving and striking oratory, while the sublimity
and elegance, simplicity and perspicuity of his dis-
courses, rendered his sermons not only models for


all who heard them, but for posterity as well, for
whom, happily, many of them have been preserved.
Whenever this august and venerable person ascended
the sacred desk, he seized the attention and com-
manded all the various passions of his audience,
and imparted to the discourse a solemnity which
could never be forgotten. A true patriot, he em-
ployed his great gifts in cheering up his countrymen
after the depressing defeat of Braddock in 1755,
and the first volunteer company raised in Virginia,
after that crushing disaster, was from his congrega-
tions, the result of a patriotic discourse delivered
July 20, 1755. Before this company, commandedby
Captain Overton, he preached August 17, 1755, and
in appealing to the martial spirit of his hearers he
made prophetic mention of the young officer who
had saved the command of Braddock from annihila-
tion. He said: As a remarkable instance of this, I
may point out to the public, that heroic youth, Col-
onel Washington, whom I cannot but hope Provi-
dence has hitherto preserved in so signal a manner
for some important service to his country."
An anecdote is related of him which shows his
fearlessness as a preacher. It is said that while he
was in London King George II., attracted by his
reputation, attended one of his services. He was so
pleased that he expressed himself to those sitting
near him, to the great interruption of the service.
Finally Mr. Davies fixed his eye upon him, and said,
with great solemnity: "When the lion roareth, the
beasts of the forests tremble; when the Lord speak-
eth, let the kings of the earth keep silence." The
I For some account of Mr. Davies and his work, see Foote's Sketches
of Virginia.


King shrank back in his seat and remained quiet
during the remainder of the discourse, and next day
sent for Mr. Davies and gave him fifty guineas for
the college, observing at the same time to his cour-
tiers, He is an honest man an honest man "
It was under the influence of such a man that
Patrick Henry came at the impressible age of
twelve. One of the places at which Mr. Davies
preached was known as "the Fork Church," and
here Mrs. John Henry, who became a member of
his church, attended regularly. She was in the
habit of riding in a double gig, taking with her
young Patrick, who, from the first, showed a high
appreciation of the preacher. Returning from
church she would make him give the text and a re-
capitulation of the discourse. She could have done
her son no greater service. His sympathetic gen-
ius was not only aroused by the eloquence of the
preacher, who, he ever declared, was the greatest
orator he ever heard," but he learned from him
that robust system of theology which is known as
Calvinism, and which has furnished to the world
so many of her greatest characters-a system of
which Froude writes: "It has been able to inspire
and sustain the bravest efforts ever made by man
to break the yoke of unjust authority, has
borne ever an inflexible front to illusion and men-
dacity, and has preferred rather to be ground to
powder, like flint, than to bend before violence, or
melt under enervating temptation." 2
Although Mr. Whitefield visited Hanover during
one of his American tours, it is probable that Pat-
SHowe's Virginia Historical Collections, 294.
Address to the Students at St. Andrews, March 17, 1871.


rick Henry was too young to have appreciated him,
and he had reached manhood before James Wad-
dell, the eloquent blind preacher, entered the minis-
try.' His early example of eloquence, therefore,
was Mr. Davies, and the effect of his teaching upon
his after life may be plainly traced. Although he
never withdrew from the Episcopal Church, in
which he was baptized, he became the persistent
advocate of religious liberty. Colonel Meredith
says of him : He was through life a warm friend
of the Christian religion. He was an Episcopalian,
but very friendly to all sects, particularly the Pres-
byterian. His father was an Episcopalian, his
mother a Presbyterian." 2
When about the age of fifteen Patrick Henry
was placed by his father with a merchant of the
county, in order that he might be trained for mer-
cantile life. After a year's experience he and his
brother William were set up in business in a coun-
try store, with a stock of goods purchased for them
by their father. Patrick, though the younger, was
equally interested, and was indeed the principal
manager. The brothers were too indulgent in grant-
ing credit, and one year was enough to embarrass
the business and cause its discontinuance. Upon
Patrick devolved the care of winding up this short-
lived firm, and while he was thus engaged, in the
fall of 1754, before he was nineteen years of age,
he was married to Sarah, a daughter of John Shel-
ton, who lived in the part of the county known as
the Fork. His wife was an estimable woman, of
most excellent parentage, and brought him six ne-
This was in 1761. Foote's Sketches of Virginia, 351.
2 MS. Narrative sent to Mr. Wirt.


groes and a tract of poor land, containing three
hundred acres, called Pine Slash, and adjoining her
father's place.' His parents gave him some little
property besides, and with this start in the world
he attempted to support himself by agriculture. It
is probable that most of the negroes given him
were very young, as we find him forced to labor on
his farm with his own hands.' In the year 1757 he
lost, by an accidental fire, his dwelling-house and
the greater part of his furniture. He thereupon
sold some of his negroes to repair his loss and to buy
a small stock of goods, with which, early in 1758, he
opened a country store,8 hoping with his farm and
store to secure a support for his growing family.
His mercantile business was small, even for a coun-
try store, and was conducted by a clerk.4 Unfor-
tunately he did not profit by his previous experience
in the matter of credit, as many of his accounts ap-
pear to have been uncollected. The business con-
tinued for about two years, and his cash sales only
footed up 39 6s. 3d. This was doubtless due to
the failure in the tobacco crop in 1759, upon which
the planters were dependent for money. At the end
of two years he found his capital gone and himself
in debt, but not insolvent, as has been represented.
His business had been too limited for that result,
and we have his statement, late in life, that he was
never sued for a debt of his own.
It was during this critical period of his life that
we are permitted to see him as he appeared to
1 Entry of Patrick Henry in his account book.
2 MS. Letter of Judge Edmund Winston to Mr. Wirt.
3 MS. Statement of Colonel Meredith sent to Mr. Wirt.
This appears by the handwriting in the ledger in possession of the


Thomas Jefferson, who has left an account of their
first meeting. One of Mr. Henry's nearest neigh-
bors and warmest friends was Captain Nathaniel
West Dandridge, formerly of the British navy, who
was a great-grandson of Captain John West, brother
of Thomas West, Lord Delaware, and who had mar-
ried Dorothea, daughter of Governor Alexander
Spotswood. He was a man of large means, and, as
was the custom of the colony, very hospitable. It
was at his house that Patrick Henry and Thomas
Jefferson first met. The following is Mr. Jeffer-
son's account of the meeting :
My acquaintance with Mr. Henry commenced
in the winter of 1759-1760. On my way to the
College I passed the Christmas holidays at Colonel
Dandridge's, in Hanover, to whom Mr. Henry
was a near neighbor. During the festivity of the
season I met him in society every day, and we be-
came well acquainted, although I was much his jun-
ior, being then in my seventeenth year and he a
married man. His manners had something of
coarseness in them; his passion was music, danc-
ing, and pleasantry. He excelled in the last, and it
attached everyone to him. You ask some account
of his mind and information at this period, but you
will recollect that we were almost continually en-
gaged in the usual revelries of the season. The oc-
casion, perhaps, as much as his idle disposition, pre-
vented his engaging in any conversation which
might give the measure either of his mind or in-
formation. Opportunity was not, indeed, wholly
wanting, because Mr. John Campbell was there,
who had married Mrs. Spotswood, the sister of Colo-
nel Dandridge. He was a man of science and often
introduced conversation on scientific subjects. Mr.
Henry had, a little before, broken up his store-or,


rather, it had broken him up; but his misfortunes
were not traced, either in his countenance or con-

This account was given to Mr. Wirt after Mr.
Jefferson had become an old man, and a political
opponent of Mr. Henry, and his statements concern-
ing him must be taken with due allowance. Mr.
Jefferson is certainly inaccurate in stating that "Mr.
Henry had, a little before, broken up his store, or
rather it had broken him up." Mr. Henry's ledger
shows that the store was not closed before July,
1760, and the closing-out sale of the remnant of his
goods was made to one firm, Crenshaw & Grant,
September 19, 1760.
It was doubtless after he had become aware that
the store and farm combined would not support his
family, that Mr. Jefferson met him. His cheerful-
ness of mind was not the result of callousness as to
his affairs, but of a cheerful and self-reliant spirit
which no misfortune could benumb. Before he
closed his mercantile venture he had determined to
try the profession of the law, for which he was con-
scious of at least one qualification, a knowledge of
human nature. This his habit of close observation
and ample opportunities as a merchant had given
him in a remarkable degree. While doubtless
drawn to the profession by some fancy for its con-
tests, he was not yet aware of the genius which it
was to develop in him. Says Judge Edmund Win-
ston, his first cousin and contemporary: He may
be considered to have been at this time a virtuous
young man, unconscious of the powers of his own
Wirt's Henry, 32-8.


mind, and in very narrow circumstances, making a
last effort to supply the wants of his family." 1
The necessity which drove him to this step proved
an incalculable blessing, and when, late in life, he
wrote the following to a young friend, who had
been unfortunate in business, he crystallized into
one of the gems of English literature his own expe-
rience. Said he: Looking forward into life and to
those prospects which seem to be commensurate
with your talents, native and acquired, you may
justly esteem those incidents fortunate which com-
pel an exertion of mental power, maturity of which
is rarely seen growing out of an uninterrupted tran-
quillity. Adversity toughens manhood, and the
characteristic of the good or the great man, is not
that he has been exempted from the evils of life,
but that he has surmounted them." 2 Having de-
termined to enter the profession, he borrowed a Coke
upon Littleton," and a Digest of the Virginia Acts."
These he read in a month or six weeks, by close ap-
plication, and then, upon the advice of John Lewis,
a prominent lawyer of the county, he rode to Will-
iamsburg and appeared before the Board of Exam-
iners as an applicant for license. Although his re-
tentive memory enabled him to use what he had
read, so circumscribed had been his course, that the
examiners, before whom he appeared separately,
were said to have been reluctant to sign his license.
His experience with one of them, the accomplished
John Randolph, afterward Attorney-General for the
colony, was related by Mr. Henry subsequently to

1 MS. Letter to Mr. Wirt.
SFrom The Southern Literary Messenger," xix., 317. The letter is
dated June 2, 1793.


his friend, Judge John Tyler. Mr. Randolph, ac-
cording to Judge Tyler, was not at first pleased with
his appearance in his plain country clothes, and was
indisposed to examine him at all, but learning that
he already had two signatures he reluctantly con-
sented to ask him some questions.
Mr. Wirt, in giving Judge Tyler's account, says:

A very short time was sufficient to satisfy him of
the erroneous conclusion which he had drawn from
the exterior of the candidate. With evident marks
of increasing surprise (produced, no doubt, by the
peculiar texture and strength of Mr. Henry's style,
and the boldness and originality of his combinations,)
he continued the examination for several hours; in
terrogating the candidate, not on the principles of
municipal law, in which he no doubt soon discovered
his deficiency, but on the laws of nature and of na-
tions, on the policy of the feudal system, and on gen-
eral history, which last he found to be his stronghold.
During the very short portion of the examination
which was devoted to the common law, Mr. Ran-
dolph dissented, or affected to dissent, from one of
Mr. Henry's answers, and called upon him to assign
the reasons for his opinions. This produced an ar-
gument; and Mr. Randolph now played off on him
the same arts which he himself had so often prac-
tised on his customers, drawing him out by ques-
tions, endeavoring to puzzle him by subtleties, as-
sailing him with declamation, and watching continu-
ally the defensive operations of his mind. After a
considerable discussion, he said: You defend your
opinions well, sir, but now to the law and to the testi-
mony.' Hereupon he carried him to his office, and
opening the authorities he said to him: 'Behold
the force of natural reason; you have never seen
these books, nor this principle of the law; yet you


are right and I am wrong; and from this lesson
which you have given me (you must excuse me for
saying it,) I will never trust to appearances again.
Mr. Henry, if your industry be only half equal to
your genius I augur that you will do well, and be-
come an ornament and an honor to your profes-
sion.' "1
Mr. Jefferson has given two accounts of this ex-
amination, not entirely consistent with each other.2
In one of them, that given to Mr. Wirt, after relating
their meeting at Colonel Dandridge's in the winter
of 1759-60, he says:
The spring following he came to Williamsburg to
obtain a license as a lawyer, and he called on me at
college. He told me he had been reading law only
six weeks. Two of the examiners, however, Peyton
and John Randolph, men of great facility of temper,
signed his license with as much reluctance as their
dispositions would permit them to show. Mr. Wythe
absolutely refused. Robert C. Nicholas refused also
at first, but on repeated importunity and promises
of future reading, he signed. These facts I had
afterward from the gentlemen themselves, the two
Randolphs acknowledging he was very ignorant of
law, but that they perceived him to be a young
man of genius and did not doubt he would soon
qualify himself." '
In 1824, some ten years later, Mr. Jefferson said
to Daniel Webster and the Ticknors at Monticello:
"There were four examiners, Wythe, Pendleton,
Peyton Randolph, and John Randolph. Wythe and
I Wirt's Henry, 34.
2 See these compared in Tyler's Life of Patrick Henry, 21.
3 Memorandum for Mr. Wirt. Historical Magazine," August, 1867,


Pendleton at once rejected his application; the two
Randolphs were, by his importunity, prevailed upon
to sign the license; and having obtained their signa-
tures, he again applied to Pendleton, and after much
entreaty and many promises of future study, suc-
ceeded also in obtaining his. He then turned out
for a practising lawyer."

Doubtless the account given Mr. Wirt by Judge
Tyler is the most correct of these. It is very cer-
tain that Mr. Henry was poorly prepared to stand
an examination by the learned lawyers who consti-
tuted the board. But, however ignorant of his la-
tent powers, it is clear that he was already recognized
as a man of uncommon intellectual gifts.
I Curtis's Life of Webster, i., 584.



Begins Practice of Law in Fall of 1760.-His Fee Books Preserved.
-Large Practice from the Beginning of His Professional Life.
-The "Parsons' Cause."-Events Leading to It and Issues In-
volved in It.-Mr. Henry's Appearance in It.-First Exhibition
of His Genius as an Orator.-Large Increase of His Practice.-.
His Appearance in Williamsburg in the Contested Election
Case of Dandridge vs. Littlepage.-Purchase of a Farm in
Louisa County.-Judge Lyons's Account of His Manner at the

As we have seen, Mr. Jefferson fixes the visit of Mr.
Henry to Williamsburg, to obtain his license as a
lawyer, in the Spring of 1760.1 If this be correct,
he very certainly continued his studies for some
months after his return before commencing the prac-
tice. That all-important book to a young attorney,
a volume of forms of declarations and pleas, was
given him by Peter Fontaine, whose sister Mary
Ann had married Isaac Winston, the uncle of Mr.
Henry. In it, in the handwriting of Mr. Henry, are
found these words: "Le don de Pierre de la Fon-
taine," and "Patrice Henry le Jeune, son livre.
Avrille 18th, 1760." 2
The appearance of his first fee book indicates that
he did not commence practice till the fall of the

I Memorandum sent Mr. Wirt, printed in The Philadelphia Age and
" Historical Magazine," August, 1867, 90, which last is quoted.
2 The volume was given to the author by Mr. Bowyer Caldwell, of the
White Sulphur Springs, W. Va.

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year. This is in the same folio in which he kept
the ledger of his mercantile business. The last
entry touching this is dated September 19, 1760, and
is a charge to Crenshaw & Grant of the remnant of
his goods, amounting to 25 Is. 34d. On the next
leaf he commences the index to his fee accounts.
His fees follow, and are charged by the year, but
not by the month. His first clients were a firm of
merchants, Coutts & Crosse, and during the year
1760 he entered the names of sixty clients, and
charged one hundred and seventy-five fees, besides
those charged on the first page, which has been lost
from the book. Such a remarkable success for the
first few months of his professional career demon-
strates conclusively that he was personally popu-
lar, and was recognized as an industrious and capa-
ble lawyer from the beginning. The full practice
upon which he at once entered was retained. Of
the ninety-two pages of his fee books, extending
through the year 1763, sixteen had been cut out
and taken away by relic-hunters, or otherwise lost,
before the book came into the possession of the au-
thor. But estimating that the fees charged on the
missing pages average with those still preserved,
it appears that from the fall of 1760 to the end of
1763, Mr. Henry charged fees in 1,185 suits, be-
sides many fees for advice, and for preparing papers
out of court. An examination of these entries of
fees shows that Mr. Henry was transacting all the
business of a country practice, his courts being the
county courts of Hanover and the surrounding
counties. The.county courts, held by justices, were
the only courts in the colony, except the General
Court, consisting of the Governor and his Council,
..: : *. ...
-..: : : **...

.*.: : : :* .. .*..*
..... : -": .'.:*


sitting at Williamsburg. This country practice,
which embraced every branch of the profession, was
the best training which he could have had. It was
impossible for him to have acquired or retained it,
unless he had been attentive and faithful in his
business, and industrious in his habits, for the great
bulk of it was mere routine work, such as bringing
plain actions of debt.
The fortunate preservation of Mr. Henry's fee
books, covering the whole time of his service at the
bar, corrects the false impression of him as a law-
yer given to the world through Mr. Jefferson's com-
munication to Mr. Wirt, in which he wrote:

"He turned his views to the law, for the acquisi
tion or practice of which he was too lazy .
He never undertook to draw pleadings if he could
avoid it, or to manage that part of the cause, and
very unwillingly engaged but as an assistant to
speak in the cause, and the fee was an indispen-
sable preliminary, observing to the applicant that
he kept no accounts, never putting them to paper,
which was true." 1

The neatly kept accounts, showing many fees for
drawing papers, and appearing in cases in which,
from their nature, he must have been the only coun-
sel, and the moderate fees charged, as regulated by
statute, prove that Mr. Henry was a very different
business man and lawyer from the picture drawn by
the pen of Mr. Jefferson in his old age. Indeed,
these invaluable records of his professional life
show that Mr. Henry's success as a lawyer was far
SMemorandum of Jefferson, "Historical Magazine," August, 1867,
.......... .. ...
*: .*.:.* *:.. *.:e.
*^* *.**..
*""*".':. :.

:.. '.. ":i..i ::


greater, from the first, than that of Mr. Jefferson as
claimed by his ablest biographer.1
Such a practice, although the fees were moderate
and not rigidly collected, soon enabled Mr. Henry
to relieve himself from the debt he had incurred, and
not only to support his family comfortably, but to
help both his father and father-in-law, who were not
prosperous men. Their accounts on his books show
that this help was generously extended.
Mr. Shelton had moved to Hanover Court House,
and opened a house of public entertainment. Mr.
Henry, while attending court, stayed with him, and
it is said sometimes assisted him in attending to the
guests. This, no doubt, was the origin of the state-
ment made by Mr. Jefferson to Mr. Wirt long after-
ward. He wrote: "He acted, as I have under-
stood, as barkeeper in the tavern at Hanover Court
House for some time." 2 This statement was indig-
nantly denied by Colonel Meredith and others, who
stated that nothing could have been more repugnant
to Mr. Henry than such an occupation. The evi-
dence on the subject has been examined in the origi-
nal, by Mr. Wirt and Dr. Tyler, and both have
expressed themselves satisfied that the statement
repeated by Mr. Jefferson is not true.3 Indeed, the
business recorded on Mr. Henry's fee books would
have prevented his occupying his time in any other
way, than in attending to his profession.
The entries by Mr. Henry on his mercantile and
fee books entirely disprove another misstatement
about him, namely, that he was an illiterate man
i Randall's Life of Jefferson, i., 47.
3 Memorandum, Historical Magazine," August, 1867, 93.
3 Wirt's Henry, 37, and Tyler's Henry, 24.


when he entered upon his profession. These entries
are in a well-formed hand, and are faultless in spell-
ing and punctuation. The same may be said of all
of his private papers; and when the reader is in-
troduced to his correspondence, he will find his com-
position not only correct, but exceedingly graceful.
Mr. Jefferson told Daniel Webster that his "pro-
nunciation was vulgar and vicious; and Governor
John Page related that he once heard him say:
" Naiteral parts is better than all the larnin' upon
yearth." 2 This vicious pronunciation and bad gram-
mar were evidently used to point some exhibition of
humor, of which Mr. Henry was fond, as he was
undoubtedly a good grammarian. What is called
vulgar and vicious pronunciation by Mr. Jefferson,
was doubtless the country mode of pronouncing cer-
tain words, which struck the ear of the polished
Jefferson unpleasantly. These peculiarities of pro-
nunciation were not confined to Mr. Henry how-
ever. We are told by Judge Roane that the ac-
complished Edmund Pendleton was in the habit of
saying scaicely for scarcely, and the no less scholar-
ly John Taylor, of Caroline, of saying bare for bar.8
There can be little doubt that in a practice of
three years, such as Mr. Henry enjoyed, he made
reputation as an advocate. Had he not done so,
he would not have been employed in November,
1763, as a forlorn hope, in the celebrated "Parsons'
Cause." This cause, which had such an important
bearing upon his subsequent life, and upon the his-
tory of Virginia, deserves a careful notice.
The charter government of Virginia allowed her
Curtis's Life of Webster, i., 585. 2 Wirt's Henry, 53.
1 MS. Communication to Mr. Wirt.


a House of Burgesses, elected by the people, which
was first held in 1619. All acts of this body, to
become laws, however, required the approval of the
Governor and his Council, the Governor being the
representative of the King. But an act approved
by both the Burgesses and the Governor and Council
might be disallowed by the King. This operated
greatly to the inconvenience and injury of the col-
ony, as it was impossible to meet sudden calamity
and distress by legislation, which was dependent on
the will of a sovereign with whom it took months
to communicate, whose information as to the needs
of the colony was necessarily imperfect, and who
often disallowed laws most beneficial to the people.
When an act had been once approved by the King,
he required all subsequent acts making any altera-
tion therein to be suspended in terms, until they
should be approved by him.
One of the most difficult problems of colonial life
was that of currency. The colony was not allowed
the privilege of coining money, and its trade with
the mother country did not bring in British gold.
Tobacco was its great staple for export, but the ab-
sorption of its trade by Great Britain, and the dis-
couragements to home manufactures, resulted in a
usual balance of trade against the colony. Hugh
Jones wrote in 1724: "The country is yearly sup-
plied with vast quantities of goods from Great
Britain. The merchants, factors, or store-
keepers in Virginia buy up the tobacco of the
planters, either for goods or current Spanish money,
or with sterling bills payable in Great Britain." '
The Spanish money was coin obtained from the
1 Present State of Virginia, 53, 55.


adjacent Spanish possessions, and was in small quan-
tity. From necessity the planters began to use to-
bacco as a medium of exchange, and to make their
contracts payable therein. Various acts were passed
to regulate this custom, which will be found consol-
idated in 1632,1 by an act providing for five ware-
houses, in which all tobacco intended to be used as
a medium of trade should be stored, and properly
inspected, that found to be below the standard
quality to be burned. Several subsequent revis-
ions were made of the tobacco laws, and it came to
pass that the certificates, or inspectors' notes, given
at the legal warehouses, became the main currency
of the colony, the value of tobacco being quite a
steady quantity. In this currency not only private,
but public dues were solvable. The expenses of
government were estimated and taxes were levied
payable in it.
As early as 1696, the salaries of the clergy of the
Established Church had been fixed by statute at six-
teen thousand pounds of tobacco, to be levied by the
several vestries on their parishes.2 This was besides
their "lawful perquisites," consisting of the use of
the glebes, and the monopoly of marriage and burial
fees. In 1748 this law was revised and re-enacted,
and this new act was approved by the King.8 At
this time, and afterward for some years, the value
of the inspected tobacco was rated at sixteen shil-
lings and eight pence per hundred pounds, at the
highest. This appears by the act of 1752, provid-
ing compensation to the planters who had suffered
by loss from the overflow of certain warehouses on

SHening : Statutes at Large, i., 203.
SId., vi., 88.

SId., iii., 152.


tide water.' This was fifty per cent. advance upon
the value of tobacco in 1696, when the salaries of
the clergy were fixed at sixteen thousand pounds.
In October, 1755, the House of Burgesses, finding
that a great drought had cut short the crop of to-
bacco, so that it would be impossible for the people
to pay their tobacco debts in kind, passed an act, to
continue in force for ten months, making it lawful
for debtors to pay their tobacco dues and taxes in
money, at the rate of sixteen shillings and eight
pence for every hundred pounds of tobacco.2 This
being at the rate of two pence per pound caused the
act to be known as "the twopenny act." This act,
the necessity of which was so obvious, was very
generally acquiesced in by creditors.3 As it was an
effort to regulate a fluctuating currency by one ac-
knowledged to be the standard, and only directed the
value to be placed on that which had fluctuated
which was in the minds of the parties to the con-
tracts involved, and of the legislature when the
public taxes were laid, it must be admitted to have
been right and proper. The same principle was ap-
plied in settling debts in the United States, in France,
and in the late Confederate States, upon the failure
of their revolutionary currencies. Debtors were al-
lowed to pay their debts contracted with reference
to the collapsed paper money as a standard of value,
in the equivalent value in specie.
As was anticipated, tobacco rose in value, but the
price was not greatly increased.4 Some of the clergy
were unwilling to forego the advantage of collect-
ing their salaries in kind, and addressed a commu-
SHening: Statutes at Large, vi., 237. 2 Id., vi., 368.
3 Campbell's History of Virginia, 507. Perry's Collections, 508.


nication to their Diocesan, the Bishop of London,
praying that he would exert his influence to have
the act annulled by the King.' Among the peti-
tioners was the Rev. Patrick Henry. Others of
the clergy determined to make no opposition to the
act, declaring that they thought it right that they
should share in the misfortunes of the community.
Among these was the Rev. James Maury, of Louisa.2
To this conclusion came the convention of the clergy
afterward held."
On September 14, 1758, upon the meeting of the
Assembly, it was apparent that the unseasonable
weather of the summer would again produce a short
crop of tobacco. An act similar to that of 1755
was thereupon passed, to continue in force for one
year. Neither of these acts had the usual clause
suspending its operation until the royal sanction was
obtained. The crop fell short and the price rose
correspondingly. Although the law was universal
in its effects, the clergy were the only class that de-
termined to resist its operation. The Rev. John
Camm assailed the action of the Assembly in "The
Virginia Gazette," and was replied to by Colonel
Richard Bland and Colonel Landon Carter, two of
the most prominent men in the colony. The con-
test was acrimonious, and the cause of the clergy
became so unpopular, that Mr. Camm was forced
to go to Maryland to find a printer for his rejoin-
der, styled, "The Colonels Dismounted." A con-
vention of the clergy was held, and they determined
to appeal to the King. Mr. Camm was sent to
England with a petition for the veto of the act.

SPerry's Collections, 440.
8 Perry's Collections, 508.

I Memoirs of a Huguenot Family, 402.


He obtained an order of Council to this effect,
dated August 10, 1759, and was told by the Lords
of Trade and the Privy Council that this would
render the act void, ab initio. He thereupon re-
turned to Virginia, and brought a suit in the Gen-
eral Court to test the validity of the law, deter-
mined to appeal to the King in Council if defeated
in the Virginia Court. The Assembly met after-
ward and voted to bear the expenses of appeal in
all cases brought by the clergy. Thus the Assem-
bly and the clergy were in declared antagonism.
The clergy contended that their salaries must be
considered as due by contracts which fixed them at
sixteen thousand pounds of tobacco per annum;
that as they had received this quantity when to-
bacco was low because of large crops, so they were
entitled to it when it was high because of a small
crop; that while it was true that the Governor had
approved of the act, he had done so in violation of
his general instructions, and it required the King's
express consent to give it force, as it affected a pre-
vious law which he had approved; and that once
disapproved it was shown to have been void, ab
Those who defended the Assembly urged, that the
small crop had made it impossible for debtors to
meet their tobacco dues, rendered unusually large
by the burden of taxation caused by the French
War; that the act was general, and relieved all
debtors who owed tobacco; that it operated not
to reduce the quantity, but to fix the fair value of
the staple contracted for; that of all classes the
clergy should be the first to sympathize with the
distress of the people, but now they were found to


be the only creditors who wished to oppress them;
and that the act, having received the approval of
the royal Governor, was of force till it was disal-
lowed by the King himself, when it had, in fact, ex-
pired by its terms.' It will be seen that, stripped of
the moral questions, the controversy was reduced to
the sole question of the force of an act between its
date and the disapproval of the King.
Some of the clergy were unwilling that their
rights should be settled by the suit instituted by
Mr. Camm, and they brought separate actions in the
county courts, with varied results. In the suit of
Rev. Thomas Warrington, of York County, the
jury gave damages against the parish collector,
but the court held the act to be valid and refused
to enter up judgment for the plaintiff. In the case
of Rev. Alexander White, of King William, all the
questions were left to the jury, and they found for
the defendant. In both of these cases appeals were
taken to the General Court.2 None of the suits
brought excited such interest as that instituted by
Rev. James Maury, of the parish of Fredericksville,
in Louisa County. He was a man of high character,
and had refused to oppose the previous act. On
April 1, 1762, he brought suit in the County Court
of Hanover, in the name of the vestry of his parish,
against Thomas Johnson and Tarlton Brown, col-
lectors of the parish levies, and the sureties on their
official bond. Peter Lyons, the leading lawyer in
that part of the colony, and afterward the distin-
guished president of the Virginia Court of Appeals,

I Quite a full discussion of the act will be found in Campbell's History
of Virginia, chap. lxv.
I See Perry's Collections for these suits.


was his counsel. John Lewis, also able counsel, ap-
peared for the defendants, and relied on the Act of
September 14, 1758, with which they had strictly
complied. To this plea the plaintiff demurred as
insufficient, and thus raised the question of the va-
lidity of the act. The demurrer was argued on No-
vember 5, 1763, and was sustained by the court,
which thus declared the act to have been null and
void. Considering the popular feeling, this action
of the court, presided over by Colonel John Henry,
is highly creditable to its integrity and firmness.
These qualities, indeed, were characteristic of the
Virginia magistrates, and when we remember that
they were selected for their intelligence and stand-
ing in the community, and held office by a life ten-
ure, we can understand what an important part they
played in the history of the colony.
The decision upon the demurrer left nothing to be
done in Mr. Maury's case but the ascertainment by
a jury of the damages, which consisted of the dif-
ference between the money actually paid him and
the value of the tobacco to which he was entitled.
The litigation had thus assumed the most favorable
aspect for the clergy, who looked upon it now as a
test case in which the jury would be forced to give
the full amount of the damages claimed. Mr. Lewis
considered the cause of his clients lost, and in this
extremity Patrick Henry was employed for the de-
/ The jury trial was fixed for the December term
of the court, commencing on the first day of the
month, and excited a widespread interest. Not-
withstanding the inclement season of the year a
large crowd attended. Early in the morning the


sturdy planters, in their home-spun and home-made
clothes, might be seen approaching the court-house
on horseback. Interspersed with them were the
Scotch merchants and richer citizens, dressed in
cloth of finer texture. These mingled freely in the
court-yard, while grouped by themselves might be
seen the ministers, who had collected from the
neighboring parishes to the number of twenty.
Among these was the Rev. Alexander White, whose
defeat before a jury of his own county had only
served to intensify his interest in the struggle
of the clergy. The ordinary topics of the court-
yard were laid aside, and instead of the usual in-
quiries as to the condition of the tobacco crop in
the barns, and the prices to be expected for it;
the arrivals of vessels from abroad, and the prices
of goods expected by them; the absorbing sub-
ject of conversation was the controversy with the
During the morning the carriage of the venerable
clergyman of the county, the Rev. Patrick Henry,
was seen approaching the court-house. No sooner
was it recognized by his nephew, than he walked to
meet him, accompanied by his brother-in-law, Col-
onel Samuel Meredith. When the aged minister
alighted Mr. Henry accosted him most respectfully,
and requested him not to appear in the court-house
on that day. "Why? asked the old gentleman.
" Because," replied his nephew, I am engaged in
opposition to the clergy, and your appearance there
might strike me with such awe as to prevent me
from doing justice to my clients." "Rather than
that effect should be produced, Patrick," said his
uncle, I will not only absent myself from the court-


house, but will return home." And, accordingly,
entering his carriage again, he rode away.1
On the opening of the court Colonel John Henry
occupied his seat as presiding justice, while to his
right and left sat the other justices. Next to these,
on the same long bench, the clergy found seats, ex-
cept Mr. Maury, who sat in the bar with his coun-
sel. The case of Maury against Johnson and others
was soon called, and upon the announcement of
counsel that they were ready for trial, the sheriff
was ordered to summon a select jury. He went
out, and in due time returned with a list which did
not suit the plaintiff, as he only knew one or two
of them, and none belonged to the class known as
gentlemen. He thereupon objected to the panel, but
as he had not the right of peremptory challenge, and
could not show good cause for his objection, and as
Patrick Henry insisted that they were honest men,
and therefore unexceptionable, they were sworn as
jurymen. Their names were Benjamin Anderson,
John Wingfield, George Dabney, John Thornton,
Samuel Morris, Brewster Sims, William Claybrook,
Stephen Willis, Jacob Hundly, Roger Shackelford,
John Blackwell, and Benjamin Oliver.2 Three of
them certainly were Dissenters, George Dabney,
Samuel Morris, and Roger Shackelford, and the two
last had been prosecuted in 1745 for allowing Rev.
John Roane to preach at their houses.3 The plain-
tiff's counsel introduced as testimony the bond of
the defendants as collectors; the order of the vestry
directing a levy to be made for the salary of Mr.

MS. Memorandum of Colonel Samuel Meredith made for Mr. Wirt.
2 Taken from the record of the case.
Foote's Sketches of Virginia, 142, 161.


Maury in 1759; and two witnesses, Mr. Gist and
Mr. McDowell, the largest dealers in tobacco in the
county, by whom it was proved that the price of
tobacco in the county in 1759 was fifty shillings per
hundred pounds. Mr. Lyons here rested the evi-
dence for the plaintiffs. The counsel for the defence
then introduced the receipt of Mr. Maury for 144,
the value of the tobacco due him as commuted by
the act of Assembly, and rested their evidence. Mr.
Lyons then arose and commenced his argument for
the plaintiff. He explained to the jury the issue
they had been sworn to try, and how it had been
narrowed down, by the decision of the court on the
law, to a simple calculation of the difference be-
tween the 144 actually paid, and the value of six
teen thousand pounds of tobacco at fifty shillings per
hundred. He was not content to rest his case, how-
ever, on the bare application of the law to the facts
proved, but, recognizing the existence of popular feel-
ing against the clergy, he attempted to disarm it by
a highly wrought eulogium upon their benevolence.
Mr. Henry had studied profoundly his case. To
him it was not a mere matter of dollars and cents,
but involved the dearest rights of the people as he
had learned them from the pages of English history.
While he brooded over this thought he felt the quick-
ening of a hitherto unknown genius, which, under the
powerful stimulus of his first great cause, was to burst
forth into full flower. The man and the occasion had
met, and both were to be ever afterward famous.
/He rose to reply to Mr. Lyons with apparent em-
barrassment and some awkwardness, and began a
faltering exordium. The people hung their heads
at the unpromising commencement, and the clergy


were observed to exchange sly looks with each
other, while his father sank back in his chair in evi-
dent confusion. All this was of short duration how-
ever. As he proceeded and warmed up with his
subject, a wondrous change came over him. His
attitude became erect and lofty, his face lighted up
with genius, and his eyes seemed to flash fire;
'his gesture became graceful and impressive, his voice
and his emphasis peculiarly charming. His appeals
to the passions were overpowering. In the language
of those who heard him, he made their blood to
run cold, and their hair to rise on end." In a word
to the astonishment of all, he suddenly burst upon
them as an orator of the highest order. The sur-
prise of the people was only equalled by their de-
light, and so overcome was his father that tears
flowed profusely down his cheeks.
The line of argument taken in this celebrated
speech has been preserved by the plaintiff, in a let-
ter written a few days afterward to the Rev. John
Camm,1 and by Captain Thomas Trevilian, one of
the audience, who related for years afterward one
of the passages.2 From these sources the following
outline of the speech is taken.
/-Mr. Henry commenced by stating his view of the
issues involved in the case. He then entered upon
a discussion of the mutual relations and reciprocal
duties of the king and his subjects. He maintained
that government was a conditional compact, com-
posed of mutual and dependent covenants, the king
stipulating protection on the one hand, and the peo-
ple stipulating obedience and support on the other.
I Memoirs of a Huguenot Family, 418.
2 MS. Letter of N. Pope to Mr. Wirt.


He declared that a violation of these covenants by
either party discharged the other from obligation.
He claimed that in the colonial government the
Burgesses represented the House of Commons, the
Council the House of Lords, and the Governor the
King, and that a law approved by these should be
deemed valid until it was disallowed. He then took
up the act of 1758, and discussed its provisions, and
the necessities of the people which caused its enact-
ment. He contended that it had every character-
istic of a good law, that it was a law of general
utility, and could not be annulled consistently with
the compact between the King and people; that the
disallowance by the King of this salutary act was
an instance of misrule, and neglect of the interests
of the colony, which made it necessary that they
should provide for their own safety by adhering
to the directions of the act; and that by this con-
duct the King, from being the father of his people,
had degenerated into a tyrant, and forfeited all
right to his subjects' obedience to his order regard-
ing it. At this point Mr. Lyons cried out with
warmth, The gentleman has spoken treason, and I
am astonished that your Worships can hear it with-
out emotion, or any mark of dissatisfaction." At
the same instant among some gentlemen behind the
bar there was a confused murmur of Treason!
Treason! Mr. Henry paid no attention to the
interruption, but continued in the same strain,
without receiving any sign of disapprobation from
the bench, which sat spell-bound by his eloquence,
while some of the jury nodded their approbation.
Passing from this topic, the speaker next discussed
the relations of the clergy to the people. He con-


tended that the only use of an established church
and clergy in society is to enforce obedience to
civil sanctions, and the observance of those which
are called duties of imperfect obligation; that when
a clergy cease to answer these ends, the community
have no further need of their ministry, and may justly
strip them of their appointments; that the clergy
of Virginia, in this particular instance of their refus-
ing to acquiesce in the law in question, so far from
answering, had most notoriously counteracted those
great ends of their institution; that therefore, instead
of useful members of the State, they ought to be
considered as enemies of the community; and that
in the case now before them, Mr. Maury, instead of
countenance and protection and damages, very justly
deserved to be punished with signal severity. While
discussing this part of his subject, he said, as Cap-
tain Trevilian relates, "We have heard a great deal
about the benevolence and holy zeal of our reverend
clergy, but how is this manifested ? Do they mani-
fest their zeal in the cause of religion and humanity
by practising the mild and benevolent precepts of
the Gospel of Jesus ? Do they feed the hungry and
clothe the naked ? Oh, no, gentlemen Instead of
feeding the hungry and clothing the naked, these
rapacious harpies would, were their powers equal to
their will, snatch from the hearth of their honest
parishioner his last hoe-cake, from the widow and
her orphan children their last milch cow ithe last
bed, nay, the last blanket from the lying-in woman "
These words, uttered with all the power of the
orator, aroused in the audience an intense feeling
against the clergy, which became so apparent as to
cause the reverend gentlemen to leave their seats


on the bench, and to quit the court-house in dis-
The speaker, continuing, described the bondage of
a people who were denied the privilege of enacting
their own laws, and told the jury that, unless they
were disposed to rivet the chains of bondage on their
necks, he hoped they would not let slip the oppor-
tunity, which was now offered, of making such an ex-
ample of the plaintiff, as might hereafter be a warn-
ing to himself and to his brethren not to dispute the
validity of such laws, authenticated by the only
authority which in his conception could give force
to laws for the government of the colony, the au-
thority of a House of Burgesses, of a Council, and
of a kind, benevolent, and patriotic Governor. He
added that, under the ruling of the court, they must
find for the plaintiff, but they need not find more
than one farthing, and that this would accomplish
all that the defence desired.
./When he had concluded, after speaking about an
hour, his associate declined to add anything to the
defence, and Mr. Lyons closed the case for the plain-
tiff, vainly endeavoring to break the force of Mr.
Henry's speech. When he sat down the jury retired
to consult, and in less than five minutes returned
with a verdict of one penny damages for the plain-
tiff. Mr. Lyons objected to receiving the verdict,
insisting that it was contrary to the evidence, and
asked that the jury be sent out again. This motion
the court promptly overruled, and ordered the ver-
dict to be recorded. He then moved for a new trial,
which was also refused; and, lastly, he prayed for
an appeal to the General Court, which was granted.
\Wirt's Henry, 45.


The feelings of the excited people, which with diffi-
culty had been restrained, now overleaped all bounds,
and, wild with delight, they seized their champion
and bore him on their shoulders in triumph around
the court-yard. He had not only proved himself
to be an orator o j mas erin e
emotions and judgmeiatof -ia-adiencbul ha id
opbeilyvand powerfully attacked the..tyrannyain
Ohiirctand State, which all felt and yet no one had
been bold enough to denounce. It is said that the
people who heard this famous speech never tired of
talking of it, and they could pay no higher compli-
ment to a speaker afterward than to say of him,
" He is almost equal to Patrick Henry when he
plead against the parsons."
Colonel John Henry's feelings were modestly ex-
pressed a few days afterward to Judge Edmund
Winston in these words: Patrick spoke near an
hour, without hesitation or embarrassment, and in
a manner that surprised me, and showed himself
well informed on a subject of which I did not know
he had any knowledge." 2
In the hour of his triumph Mr. Henry, with a
generosity characteristic of him, sought Mr. Maury,
smarting under his defeat and the attack upon his
class, in order that he might disclaim any personal
ill-will toward him or them. Mr. Maury, in his
letter to Mr. Camm, gives an account of this inter-
view and of the impression the day's occurrences
made upon him. He wrote:

"After the court was adjourned, he apologized
to me for what he had said, alleging that his sole
1 Wirt's Henry, 46. MS. Letter of Judge Winston to Mr. Wirt.


view in engaging in the cause, and in saying what
he had, was to render himself popular. You see,
then, it is so clear a point in this person's opinion
that the ready road to popularity here is to trample
under foot the interests of religion, the rights of the
Church, and the prerogative of the Crown. If this
be not pleading for the 'assumption of a power to
bind the King's hands,' if it be not asserting such
supremacy in provincial legislation' as is incon-
sistent with the dignity of the Church of England,
and manifestly tends to draw the people of these
plantations from their allegiance to the King, tell
me, my dear sir, what is so, if you can. Mr. Cootes,
merchant on James River, after court, said 'he
would have given a considerable sum out of his
own pocket, rather than his friend Patrick should
have been guilty of a crime but little, if anything,
inferior to that which brought Simon, Lord Lovatt,
to the block; and justly observed that he exceeded
the most seditious and inflammatory harangues of
the tribunes of old Rome."

Mr. Cootes (or Coutts), who thus at once indi-
cated his affection for the King and the treasonable
advocate, had been Mr. Henry's first client. He
fairly represented the high Toryism which was
characteristic of the Scotch merchants who lived in
SThe clergy were greatly irritated, and more than
hinted that Mr. Henry, whom they styled "an ob-
scure attorney," should be prosecuted for treason,
and, it is said, furnished the Crown officers of the
colony with a list of names as witnesses. No prose-
cution, however, was attempted. Trusting to the
appellate courts, the clergy continued the struggle.
Memoirs of a Huguenot Family, 423.


In 1764 the Rev. Patrick Henry, through Mr.
Lyons, his attorney, instituted a suit in Hanover
against Henry Thompkins, late collector of St.
Paul's parish, for the tobacco due him for the year
1759. This suit was defended by his nephew as at-
torney for the defendant, and was allowed to be
continued till the result of Mr. Camm's suit was
known, and was then dismissed.
During the same year the case of the Rev. Mr.
Camm was tried before the Governor and his Council,
sitting as a general court, Robert Carter Nicholas ap-
pearing for the defence, and was decided against the
plaintiff, on the ground that the act was in force till
disallowed by the King. The majority thus voting
were John Blair, John Taylor, William Byrd, Pres-
ley Thornton, and Robert Burwell. The minority,
who voted to give damages, were Richard Corbin,
Peter Randolph, Philip Ludwell Lee, and Robert
Carter. There were two members, Thomas and
William Nelson, who excused themselves from vot-
ing, being parishioners of Mr. Camm. They would
have changed the decision. Governor Fauquier, was
not required to vote, as there was no tie, but he never-
theless declared his belief that the act was bind-
Mr. Camm appealed to the Privy Council in Eng-
land, and pending his appeal the court refused to
hear any other similar case. The appeal was
heard in 1767, and the decision of the General Court
was affirmed, on the ground, it is said, that Mr.
Camm's suit was improperly brought, and without
going into the merits. This was believed to be,
and doubtless was, but a pretext to get rid of a
troublesome question, for the discussion of which


the times were not then suited. Thus the clergy
saw the men who had advised Mr. Camm to bring
his suit in 1760, vote to dismiss it in 1767, for po-
litical reasons.
This decision settled the litigation of the clergy
in Virginia, and they found that, instead of gaining
their salaries, they had greatly weakened their hold
upon the public, and had given a fresh impulse to
the spirit of dissent, already grown strong in the
colony. Not only so, but the struggle greatly
strained the bond between the King and the colo-
nists, and was the prelude to the great contest which
snapped that bond asunder, the keynote to which
Mr. Henry had boldly struck.
- The argument of the Parsons' Cause increased
Mr. Henry's practice greatly. During the first year
afterwards his fee book shows that he entered the
names of 164 new clients, and charged 555 fees. In
That year he was called to Williamsburg to represent
his friend Captain Nathaniel West Dandridge, before
the Committee on Privileges and Elections of the As-
sembly, in a contest with James Littlepage, the re-
turned member. It is doubtful whether he had ever
visited Williamsburg before. If he had done so, it
was in no way to attract attention, and he was per-
sonally known to but few of the persons he now met.
The session of the Assembly, and the vice-regal state
in which the Governor lived, caused the town to be
filled with an elegant society, which strikingly con-
trasted with the plain society in which he lived. He
is said to have appeared in country garb, and wher-
ever he went attracted the attention of the curious.
Judge Tyler has given the following account of his
appearance before the committee:


"The proud airs of aristocracy, added to the dig-
nified forms of that truly august body, were enough
to have deterred any man possessing less firmness
and independence .of spirit than Mr. Henry. He
was ushered with great state and ceremony into the
room of the committee, whose chairman was Colonel
Bland. Mr. Henry was dressed in very coarse ap-
parel; no one knew anything of him, and scarcely
was he treated with decent respect by anyone ex-
cept the chairman, who could not do so much vio-
lence to his feelings and principles as to depart, on
any occasion, from the delicacy of the gentleman.
But the general contempt was soon changed into a
general admiration, for Mr. Henry distinguished
himself by a copious and brilliant display on the
great subject of the rights of suffrage, superior to
anything that had been heard before within those
walls. Such a burst of eloquence from a man .so
very plain and ordinary in appearance struck the
committee with amazement, so that a deep and
perfect silence took place during the speech, and not
a sound, but from his lips, was to be heard in the
room." 1

Judge Winston says :

Some time after, a member of the House, speak-
ing to me of this occurrence, said he had for a
day or two observed an ill-dressed young man saun-
tering in the lobby, that he seemed to be a stranger
to everybody, and he had not the curiosity to in-
quire his name, but that attending when the case
of a contested election came on, he was surprised to
find this same person counsel for one of the parties,
and still more so, when he delivered an argument
superior to anything he ever heard."

' Wirt's Henry, 58.

I Id., 59.


The report of the evidence in the case is spread
upon the journal, and shows that an effort had been
made to get Mr. Henry to offer himself for the vacant
seat, and that so great was his popularity in the
county, that the other candidate would have prob-
ably retired in his favor. But he was not yet ready
to engage in public life. He was trying to attain in-
dependence by the practice of his profession. At this
period of his life he had not overcome his passion for
hunting. He is represented as often appearing at his
courts in his hunting garb, fresh from the chase, but
always ready when his cases were called, and if they
allowed any scope for the advocate, invariably en-
chanting court and jury by his wonderful eloquence.
Ever after the Parsons' Cause," his manner of
speaking was irresistibly captivating, even when the
subject seemed trivial. One who was often his ad-
versary, Judge Peter Lyons, says of him:

"I could write a letter or draw a declaration
or plea at the bar with as much accuracy as I
could in my office, under all circumstances, except
when Patrick rose to speak ; but whenever he rose,
although it might be on so trifling a subject as a
summons and petition for twenty shillings, I was
obliged to lay down my pen, and could not write
another word until the speech was finished." 1

It is easy to understand that Mr. Henry's reputa-
tion went abroad after the Parsons' Cause," and
that he was considered the most eloquent advocate
in the colony.
I Wirt's Henry, 56.



Cause of Troubles between England and the American Colonies.-
Charter Rights.-Local Governments.-Virginia Early Claims
the Sole Right to Tax Herself.-Commercial Restrictions.-
Colonial Government in England.-Laws of Trade.-Power of
Parliament.-Effort at Union in 1754.-Defeat of Plans.-James
Otis and Writs of Search.-War between England and France.-
Peace of Paris in 1763, and Immense Territory Secured to Eng-
land in America.-Joy in America.-Taxation of America Pro-
posed in Parliament.-Parties Created by it.-Protests against
It.-The Stamp Act.-Its Reception in America.-Submission
Expected and Prepared for in the Colonies.-What would have
been its Effect.

WHILE Mr. Henry was winning his high position at
the bar, the political troubles between England and
her American colonies were assuming a serious as-
pect. Those troubles were the result of a series of
mistakes on the part of the mother country on the
one side, and of the independent, restless spirit
which pervaded the colonies on the other. That
spirit was the outgrowth of the principles of liberty
brought over by men fleeing from oppression, and
nourished in communities of pioneers, whose con-
stant exposure to danger rendered them self-reliant
and brave, who hated arbitrary power, and rejoiced
in the liberty of thought and action which was
characteristic of the Western World.
The charter granted by King James on April 10,
1606, to the London Company which planted the


first permanent English colonies in America, con-
tained the following provision:

Also we do, for us, our heirs, and successors, de-
clare, by these presents, that all and every the per-
sons, being our subjects, which shall dwell and in-
habit within every or any of the said colonies and
plantations, and every of their children, which shall
happen to be born within any of the limits and pre-
cincts of the said several colonies and plantations,
shall have and enjoy all liberties, franchises, and
immunities, within any of our other dominions, to
all intents and purposes as if they had been abiding
and born within this our realm of England, or any
other of our said dominions."

Similar provisions are found in all subsequent
charters. With this distinct pledge that they
were to enjoy all the "liberties, franchises, and im-
munities" of Englishmen, the several English
American colonies were settled by men who left
their homes in the Old World, and risked their
lives in subduing the forests and the savages of the
New. Had their charters not contained such a pro-
vision, however, still Englishmen acknowledging
allegiance to Great Britain would have been enti-
tled, wherever resident, to all the "liberties, fran-
chises, and immunities" of British subjects; and
men of other nationalities becoming citizens of Brit-
ish colonies and subjects of the British Crown,
would equally have become entitled to the rights of
native-born Englishmen.
The several colonies, separated by an ocean from
the mother country, instinctively organized local
governments, Virginia leading the way, and in doing


so carried free institutions much beyond what the
colonists had enjoyed in the Old World. They
claimed and enjoyed trial by jury and the writ of
habeas corpus, the great guardians of person and
property. But in addition, each colony enacted
laws for itself in its own General Assembly,
and the elective franchise was far more liberal
than in England, even at this day. The Gover-
nor was ordinarily appointed by the King, and was
regarded as his representative, the Council was ap-
pointed, or nominated, by the Governor, and was
the representative of the House of Lords, while the
House of Burgesses, elected by the people, repre-
sented the House of Commons.
In June, 1619, Governor Yeardley convened the
first Virginia Assembly, which was the first repre-
sentative body that ever sat in America. As early
as 1624, ten years before any other colony had an
assembly, this body declared, that "The Governor
shall not lay any taxes or ympositions upon the
colony, their lands or commodities, otherway than
by the authority of the General Assembly, to be
levyed and. employed as the said Assembly shall
appoynt."' Thus the Virginians from the first
claimed the protection of the great principle which
has proved the bulwark of British liberty,2 and
for which so much blood has been shed. This
claim was reasserted from time to time by Virginia,
and the other colonies followed her example.
Until Cromwell ruled in England the trade of the
colonies was open to all the world. But that great
ruler, finding that the Dutch were monopolizing the
1 Hening: Statutes at Large, i., 124.
2 De Lolme on the Constitution of England, ch. xx.


carrying trade of the world, to the great injury of
British shipping, caused an act to be passed in 1651,
requiring that the commerce of England with all the
world should be conducted in ships solely owned, and
principally manned, by Englishmen. This act was
not seriously objected to, and not rigidly enforced,
in the colonies. But the same parliament that re-
stored Charles II. passed another navigation act, by
which, not content with protecting English shipping,
it was sought to give a complete monopoly to the
English merchants of the commerce of the colonies,
now become exceedingly valuable. By this act, and
its amendment in 1663, all the colonial trade, both
import and export, was required to be in English
bottoms and with Englishmen. It was only when
there was no sale for them in England, that articles
raised in America could be carried to some other
country. By another amendment the liberty of free
traffic between the colonies was taken away, and a
duty imposed on intercolonial trade equal to that
required on exports to England.
For more than a century this harsh and irritat-
ing policy was pursued, every amendment having
for its object, the more thorough establishment of
the monopoly of the commerce of the colonies in
the hands of British merchants. That the colonists
were justified in considering these navigation acts
oppressive, we have the judgment of the great ex-
pounder of political economy, Adam Smith, who in
his Wealth of Nations pronounced them, a mani-
fest violation of the rights of mankind;" and of
the most profound statesman of his day, Edmund
Burke, who said of them in his speech on American
taxation, that he thought the system, if uncompen-


sated, to be a condition of as rigorous servitude as
men can be subject to."
The enactment of these laws was without excuse,
except to gratify the avarice of British merchants.
The revenue derived by the state was trifling, while
the profits to the English traders were enormous. But
neither the English Government nor the English mer-
chants had any just right to profit at the expense
of the colonies. They had been planted by private
enterprise and at no cost to the Government, and the
company, which at the greatest expense had made the
first plantations, had been deprived of their charter
by the King when their venture had begun to be
profitable. Nor was the claim of protection by the
mother country, as compensation for the monopoly,
a good one. The only expense that was incurred in
protecting the colonies was in wars which had been
begun in Europe and transferred to America. The
connection of the colonies with England caused their
peril in these, and they were not justly chargeable
by England with the cost of wars; which would not
have afflicted them had they not belonged to her.
The only compensation which Burke could see for
the hardships of the navigation acts, was in the fact
that English capital was used in fostering the in-
dustries of the colonies; but there can be no doubt
that had they been left free to sell where they could
sell highest, and buy where they could buy lowest,
they would not only have accumulated capital
more rapidly, but they would have interested the
capital of all nations in their industries.
Such obnoxious laws were liable to evasion, but
so law-abiding were the colonies, that these evasions
were not believed by Burke to be more frequent


than occurred on the coasts of England, in refer-
ence to the laws of trade with other nations.
They were met by more stringent enactments,
among which was the grant of general writs to
the officers of customs, by which they were author-
ized to search when and where they pleased. These
writs were considered injurious to the rights of the
colonists, and their issue by the court of Massachu-
setts was resisted by James Otis, in February, 1761,
in a speech of great eloquence and power, in which he
argued that the law was opposed to the British Con-
stitution, and that an act of Parliament against the
Constitution is void." This bold declaration was
treasured by the people, and inflamed their spirit of
resentment against the oppressive law. But the
subservient court issued the writs, and they were
submitted to by the Colony.
Among the imports were African slaves in large
numbers. This wicked traffic was the subject of
protest by the colonies, time and again, and by none
more strenuously than by Virginia, which went so
far as to pass an act prohibiting it. But from the
days of Good Queen Anne," a large share of the
enormous profits made by the traders went into
the coffers of the British sovereigns, and the laws
interfering with the traffic were disapproved and
annulled by them.1
In spite of all restrictions, the trade of the colo-
nies increased with their population, making Eng-
land rich, and laying the foundation of her commer-
cial and maritime greatness. Grievous as these
restrictions were, the right of Parliament to lay
SSee Tyler's Life of Chief Justice Taney, Appendix, for a statement
of this interest of the British sovereigns in the slave trade.


them was not denied by the colonies, which drew
a distinction between external and internal taxa-
The assent of the King, either in person or
through the Governors acting under his instruc-
tions, was necessary to give validity to the laws
enacted by the colonial Assemblies, and his dissent
was sufficient to render the acts null and void. His
assent was often long delayed, and sometimes when
given the acts had become useless, because the oc-
casion of their enactment had passed by. Frequently
the acts most needed were disallowed.
The manner in which colonial affairs were consid-
ered conduced to this criminal mismanagement. All
matters touching the colonies were first considered
by the Board of Commissioners for Trade and Plan-
tations, who gave information and advice concern-
ing them to the Secretary of State having them in
charge. This Board, called the Lords of Trade,"
had no power to enforce their recommendations, no
voice in the Cabinet, and no access to the King.
Its very feebleness made it impatient of contradic-
tion, and being constantly at variance with the As-
semblies, it was disposed to suggest the harshest
measures. At more than one period, the Lords of
Trade proposed to take away the liberal charters
under which the colonies were planted, and reduce
them to subjection by destroying the independence
of their Assemblies. In the reign of James II.,
whose tyranny cost him his throne, this scheme was
carried into effect in New England, but the revolu-
tion of 1688, which seated William and Mary, re-
stored to the colonies their lost liberties.
1 Burke's History of Virginia, iii., 283-4.


By this great revolution, so memorable in the his-
tory of England, the power of Parliament was firmly
established, and as a consequence that body has
since become the ruler of the nation, and the sover-
eign simply the executive of its will. The dangers
which the colonies thereafter experienced, were no
longer from encroachments on their rights by the
throne, but by Parliament.
The French extended their forts from Canada to
the mouth of the Mississippi, claiming the rich val-
leys of the Ohio and Mississippi, and the country to
the west, and exciting the Indians to hostilities with
the English. So detrimental had their conduct be-
come, that the Lords of Trade, in 1754, advised a
meeting of commissioners from the several colonies
for the purpose of strengthening their treaties with
the Indians, and devising a plan of union for the de-
fence of all the colonies, and for the extension of their
settlements. This convention, representing seven
colonies, met at Albany, June 19, 1754, and recom-
mended a plan of union, drawn up by Benjamin
Franklin, one of the delegates from Pennsylvania,
which contained the germinal ideas of the American
Union. It provided for a general government, to
be administered by an executive appointed and
supported by the Crown, and a Grand Council, to be
composed of members chosen by the colonial As-
semblies, with power to make laws and lay and levy
general duties, imposts, and taxes. The plan was not
approved by the colonies, because it contained too
much of prerogative, nor by the Lords of Trade, who
deemed it too democratic. Another plan was sent
from England for adoption, whereby the Governors
of all the colonies, attended by one or two members of


their respective Councils, were to assemble and con-
cert measures for the defence of the whole, erect
forts where they judged proper, and raise what troops
they thought necessary, with power to draw on the
Treasury for the sums that should be wanted, the
Treasury to be reimbursed by a tax laid on the colo-
nies by Act of Parliament.
This plan was communicated to Franklin by Gov-
ernor Shirley, of Massachusetts, with the request
that he give his views upon its provisions. The
letters he sent in reply state with great clearness
the relations of the colonies to England, and the
right claimed by them to be taxed only through
their own Assemblies.1 These letters had the effect
of preventing the Governor from urging the plan of
the Lords of Trade.
The colonies adopting no plan of union for de-
fence, their protection devolved on England, whose
war with France caused them to be put in peril.
The terrible defeat of Braddock caused England
to leave them to their fate. But Franklin, hav-
ing been sent to London in 1757, as the agent for
Pennsylvania, found that Pitt had been made Prime
Minister, and that the helm of state was already re-
sponding to the hand of his transcendent genius.
He at once proposed to the ministry to send another
army to America, charged with the conquest of
Canada and the French possessions. He urged that
this was the true way to fight France, instead of
engaging her in Europe, because defeating her in
America meant the acquisition by England of the
territory north and west of her colonies. Pitt at
once acted on the suggestion, and the capture of
I Franklin's Works, vol. iii., 57-68.


Quebec by Wolfe and the driving of the French
from North America were the result.
In after life Franklin, in relating the fate of his
plan of union proposed at the Albany convention,
said: It would have been happy for both sides if it
had been adopted. The colonies so united would
have been sufficiently strong to have defended them-
selves; there would then have been no need of
troops from England. Of course, the subsequent
pretext for taxing America and the bloody contest
it occasioned would have been avoided." Philoso-
pher as he was, he did not recognize the hand
of Providence, which, rejecting his seemingly wise
plan, brought on step by step the American Revo-
lution, and which prepared the continent for the
future American Republic by first giving so large
a part of it to the English, to be wrested from
them by the United States in their War of Inde-
By the treaty of Paris, in 1763, her conquests in
America were secured to England, and she was left
in possession of all North America, except New Or-
leans, the Floridas, and Louisiana west of the Missis-
sippi, which were held by Spain. The genius of
Pitt had not only extricated England from the dan-
gers which a series of disasters had brought upon her,
but had added a vast territory to her possessions,
and had advanced her to the highest place among
the nations of the earth.
In no part of her dominions was there more true
joy at the result than in the American colonies.
James Otis gave expression to their joyful anticipa-
tions and genuine loyalty, when, at a Boston town
meeting, he exclaimed: "We in America have


abundant reason to rejoice. The heathen are driven
out, and the Canadians conquered. The British do-
minion now extends from sea to sea, and from the
great rivers to the end of the earth. Liberty and
knowledge, civil and religious, will co-extend, im-
proved and preserved, to the latest posterity." And
extolling the British Constitution and the union
between Great Britain and her colonies, he said,
"What God in his providence has united, let no
man dare attempt to pull asunder."
But these bright anticipations of a happy future
were soon turned into the gloomiest forebodings.
In 1763, Parliament renewed the tax on sugar and
molasses imported into the colonies, and steps were
taken for the rigid enforcement of this and the navi-
gation acts. All officers, civil, military, and naval,
were constituted Custom House officials, and re-
quired to break up all illicit traffic by seizures, to be
carried before courts of admiralty presided over by
appointees of the Crown, in which trials by jury
were not allowed. Large emoluments in cases of
forfeiture were given to the officers making the seiz-
ures. Of course their proceedings became oppres-
sive in the highest degree, and the more so as practi-
cally there was no appeal, so great was the cost and
difficulty of obtaining a hearing before the Privy
Council in England.
Soon the colonies were informed by their agents
that the ministry of the young King, George III.,
from which Pitt had been driven, designed to alter
the colonial charters so as to destroy the influence of
their Assemblies, to quarter a standing army in their
midst, and to impose a tax on the colonies with
which that army should be supported, and a revenue


be derived to England, burdened with an enormous
debt by her late wars.
George Grenville, succeeding the Earl of Bute in
the Ministry, abandoned the scheme of changing the
charters, but informed the colonial agents that it was
fully determined to impose a tax, and that a stamp
tax had been determined on, unless the colonies
would suggest one equally efficient; and in order
that they might have an opportunity of doing so,
the tax would not be pressed until the next session
of Parliament. Accordingly, on March 9, 1764, he
read in the House of Commons resolutions declara-
tory of this purpose, the execution of which he asked
might be deferred until the colonies could be heard
from. These resolutions were agreed to on the 17th
of the month in Committee of the Whole, and were
heartily approved by the King, who, in proroguing
Parliament on April 19, spoke of the wise regu-
lations which had been established to augment the
public revenues, to unite the interests of the most
distant possessions of the Crown, and to encourage
and secure their commerce with Great Britain."
How little he dreamed of the stupendous folly of
the proposed legislation !
The Declaratory Resolves caused the greatest sen-
sation throughout America. Men everywhere en-
tered upon the discussion of the constitutional and
chartered rights of the colonies, and as the discussion
progressed in the press, in public meetings, and in
legislative assemblies, parties were formed. The op-
ponents of the tax were called "Whigs," and Pat-
riots," and the supporters of the administration were
called "Loyalists," Tories," and "Friends of Gov-


The first public meeting in which opposition to
the proposed tax was indicated, assembled in Fan.
euil Hall, in the town of Boston, on May 24, 1764.
This meeting instructed their representatives in the
Assembly, in a paper prepared by Samuel Adams, to
oppose the proposed tax as subversive of their rights,
and directed that an effort be made to engage the
other colonies in a united protest against it. The
General Court, as the Assembly was styled, met six
days afterward, and James Otis, a member from
Boston, was the leading spirit. By his influence its
action was cast in the mould of these instructions.
Almost all of the colonies, through their Assem-
blies, protested in earnest and able papers against
the proposed tax. The Virginia Assembly met in
November, 1764. On December 18 a committee
reported an address to the King, a memorial to the
House of Lords, and a remonstrance to the House of
Commons. The first and second of these papers
were drawn by Richard Henry Lee, and the third
by George Wythe. For ability and spirit in pre-
senting the cause of the colonies, they compare fa-
vorably with any sent to England.' Yet they evi-
dently anticipated no opposition beyond remon-
strance, and this may be said of all the papers sent
from the other colonies.
The British Ministry had only asked the colonies
to indicate the tax most acceptable to them, not to
furnish reasons why they should not be taxed. A
tax had been determined on, and the protest of the
colonies against the right to levy it, only made them
the more determined to establish the right by ex-
ercising it. On February 6, 1765, Grenville pro-
I See them in Wirt's Henry, Appendix.


posed to the Committee of Ways and Means of the
whole House fifty-five resolutions, embracing the
details of a Stamp Act for America, and making all
offences against it cognizable in Courts of Admi-
ralty. In his speech he urged that the right of the
colonies to protection at the hands of Parliament,
gave Parliament the right to enforce a revenue from
them; that protection meant an army, and an army
must be paid, and this required the levy of taxes;
that the debt of England was one hundred and forty
millions sterling, while America only owed eight
hundred thousand pounds, and paid only seventy-
five thousand pounds annually for the support of
its government. He claimed that their charters in-
terposed no obstacle to a parliamentary tax, and if
they did, they were subject to the control of Parlia-
ment and could be altered; and finally he claimed
that the colonies were constructively represented in
Parliament, which was the common council of the
whole empire, and could legislate for all parts in all
The motion was opposed by Alderman Beckford,
Richard Jackson, Colonel Isaac Barr6, and General
H. S. Conway, the last two of whom had been dis-
missed from the army because of their independent
course in Parliament. Colonel Barr6 had accom-
panied the gallant Wolfe in his American campaign,
and knew personally the American character and
the grievances of the colonies. His reply to Charles
Townshend's attack on the colonists made him fa-
mous. In it he called the Americans Sons of Lib-
erty, and on the report of his speech the party of
the Patriots added these words to their name.
In this debate only Beckford and Conway questioned


the power of Parliament to impose the tax. Pitt
was not in his seat. In his speech urging the repeal
of the act, delivered in January, 1766, he said:
" When the resolution was taken in the House to
tax America I was ill in bed. If I could have en-
dured to have been carried in my bed, so great was
the agitation of my mind for the consequences, I
would have solicited some kind hand to have laid
me down on this floor to have borne my testimony
against it."
On February 27, 1765, the Stamp Act passed the
House of Commons, which refused even to allow the
protests of the colonies to be read. On March 8,
it was agreed to by the Lords, without division or
debate. On March 22, the royal assent was given
by a commission, the King having become insane.'
In passing the Act Parliament reflected the will
of its constituents. Dr. Franklin, after doing all
in his power to prevent its passage, wrote: "The
tide was too strong against us. The nation was pro-
voked by American claims of independence (of the
power of Parliament), and all parties joined by re-
solving in this Act to settle the point. We might as
well have hindered the sun's setting."
The Act was to go into operation on November 1,
1765, and was so contrived as to enforce itself.
Unless stamps were used marriages would be null,
obligations valueless, ships at sea prizes to the first
captor, alienations of real estate invalid, inheritances
irreclaimable, legal proceedings impossible.
It was not doubted in England or America that

A concise statement of the conduct of England toward the colonies,
with a full list of authorities, will be found in Winsor's Narrative and
Critical History of America, vi., chap. 1.


the Act would be enforced. James Otis had said in
1764, It is our duty to submit." 1 The legislature
of Massachusetts had said, "We yield obedience
to the Act granting duties." 2 When the Act was
first proposed the agents of the colonies showed no
disposition to oppose it,8 and in no colony had the
ground been taken that the tax, if imposed, should
be resisted.
Grenville expected, however, that the submission
would be by men smarting under a feeling of wrong,
and to avoid all unnecessary irritation he determined
to select only Americans, and those of character and
influence, to act as stamp distributors. He requested
the colonial agents to select his appointees, and they
complied with his request, Dr. Franklin naming
John Hughes for Pennsylvania.4
The intelligence of the passage of the Act caused
the deepest despondency among the patriots of
America. They had trusted that their earnest pro-
test would cause it to be abandoned, but now that
they realized the fact that the tax was imposed,
and saw no way to escape it, they felt that a great
political right, the corner-stone of English liberty,
was about to be wrested from them forever. Resist-
ance to the British authority was not proposed by
the patriot leaders, and submission to the tax was
the only alternative. In all the colonies unmis-
takable signs were given of submission to the will
of Parliament, but by a people greatly dissatis-
1 Rights of the Colonies, p. 40.
SAnswer of Council and House, November 3, 1764.
Bancroft's United States, v., p. 180, ed. 1857.
4 Franklin to Dean Tucker, Works of Franklin, Sparks's edition, iv.,


The leading spirit in New England, James Otis,
repelled the idea that there would be any resistance.
He said: It is the duty of all humbly, and silently,
to acquiesce in all the decisions of the supreme legis-
lature. Nine hundred and ninety-nine in a thousand
of the colonists will never once entertain a thought
but of submission to our Sovereign, and to the au-
thority of Parliament in all possible contingencies.
They undoubtedly have the right to levy internal
taxes on the colonies."1 With a knowledge of his sen-
timents the town of Boston re-elected him to the
Assembly in May, and that body re-elected Thomas
Oliver as Councillor, although he had been appoint-
ed a stamp distributor. On June 6 Otis prevailed
on the body to propose to the colonies a congress,
to meet in New York in October, "to consult to-
gether on the present circumstances of the colonies,
and the difficulties to which they are and must be
reduced, by the operation of the Acts of Parliament
for levying duties and taxes on the colonies; and to
consider of a general and united, dutiful, loyal, and
humble representation of their condition to his
Majesty, and to the Parliament, and to implore re-
lief." This, the only action taken by the Massachu-
setts legislature, was aided by the royal Governor,
Bernard, who thus gained control of the movement,
and managed to have two "government men,"
Oliver Partridge and Timothy Ruggles, associated
with Otis on the delegation from that colony.2 It
is apparent, both from the expressed object of the
call, and from the time fixed for the meeting of the
convention, that it was expected that the act would
I Bancroft, v., 271.
SGordon's History of the American Revolution, voL i., p. 120.


go into operation before the result of its "humble
representation could be heard--indeed before it
could reach England. Hutchinson, the Chief Jus-
tice of the colony, wrote to the ministry five weeks
after news of its passage: The Stamp Act is re-
ceived among us with as much decency as could be
expected; it leaves no room for evasion, and will exe-
cute itself." 1 So little did the legislature of New
Hampshire care for the Act, that it adjourned with-
out even accepting the invitation of Massachusetts.2
The colony of Rhode Island appeared ready to sub-
mit to Parliament,8 as did Connecticut.4 From New
York Lieutenant-Governor Colden wrote to the
Ministry that the passage of the Act caused no dis-
turbance in that colony.5 The legislature of New
Jersey declined the invitation of Massachusetts to
meet in a convention.6 The legislature of Pennsyl-
vania was in session when intelligence of the pas-
sage of the Act was received at Philadelphia, but it
adjourned without taking notice of it.' The legis-
lature of Delaware had no opportunity of taking
action before the congress met in New York, on
October 7, but no signs of resistance to the execu-
tion of the Act appeared in that colony. The Gov-
ernor of Maryland reported that the Act would be
carried into execution.8 In North Carolina the legis-
lature, so far from resenting the passage of the Act,
took steps, at the instance of Governor Tryon, to
support the Church of England by a general tax,
although many of the inhabitants were Dissenters.9
i Bancroft, United States, v., 272, 2 Id., 293.
3 Gordon, vol. i., 119. 4 Id., 117.
6 Documents Relating to the Colonial History of New York, vii,, 710.
6 Bancroft, v., 292. Gordon's History of Pennsylvania, p. 433.
SBancroft, v., 293. 9 Id., 271.


The legislature of South Carolina did not meet till
July, and no sign of resistance was seen in that
colony. Her legislature, however, was the first to
respond favorably to the call of Massachusetts.1
In Georgia the Act was deemed an equal mode of
taxation, and it had been defended by Knox, the
agent of the colony.2 In Virginia the people pre-
pared themselves to submit, but with despondent
feelings. They determined, by frugality, and ban-
ishing articles of luxury of English manufacture, to
cause the Act to recoil on England. The House of
Burgesses reassembled on May 1, but none of the
members proposed any measure of resistance, or
even of further protest. Richard Henry Lee, so
active at the preceding session in protesting against
the passage of the Act, did not attend the meeting.3
A majority of the Governors wrote to the Ministry
that the Act would be enforced, and this was the
belief of the gentlemen who accepted the office of
stamp distributors.4
Thus the execution of the Act seemed inevitable,
and, once submitted to, the claim of Parliament to
tax the colonies would have been firmly established,
and the colonies enslaved. Burke described their
condition, subjected to such a power, when he after-
ward asked the Ministry,6 What one characteristic
of liberty the Americans have, and what one brand of
slavery are they free from, if they are bound in their
property and industry by all the restraints you
can imagine on commerce, and at the same time are
made pack-horses of every tax you choose to impose,
1 Bancroft, v., 294. 1 Id., 165 and 272.
3 The Journal does not show his presence.
4 Parliamentary History, vol. 16, p. 191.
5 Speech on American Taxation.


without the least share in granting them ? And
Bacon had said before him: "The blessings of
Judah and Issachar will never meet, that the same
people or nation should be both the lion's whelp
and the ass between two burdens; neither will it be
that a people overlaid with taxes should ever be-
come valiant and martial. It is true that taxes
levied by consent of the state do abate men's cour-
age less, as it hath been seen notably in the excise
of the Low Countries, and in the subsidies of Eng-
land, for you must note that we speak now of the
heart and not of the purse; so that although the
same tribute or tax laid by consent or by impos-
ing be all one to the purse, yet it works diversely
upon the courage, so that you may conclude that
no people overcharged with tribute is fit for em-
pire." 1
The inevitable effect of once submitting to the
Act was fully appreciated by the patriots, and
John Adams expressed their conviction when he
entered in his diary, on December 18, 1765, "If
this authority is once acknowledged and estab-
lished, the ruin of America will become inevit-
The great mass of the people were thoroughly
convinced that the Act was in violation of their
rights, and an unjustifiable wrong inflicted on them,
but no one stood forth around whom they could
rally in opposing its execution. All the leaders to
whom they had been accustomed to look, failed
them in this their hour of extreme peril. But,
as so often has happened in great crises, the rul-
er of human affairs had trained, and now brought
Bacon on the True Greatness of Kingdoms.


forward, one in every way equal to the occasion
-a man of the people, thoroughly identified with
them, and fitted, by native genius and by undaunted
courage, to inspire them with the high resolve, to
stake all on the preservation of the great principle
of representative government.



Election of Mr. Henry to the House of Burgesses.-Character of
the House.-Lower Counties and Upper Counties.-Character-
istics of the People.-Proposition to make a Public Loan to
Relieve Individual Embarrassment.-Eloquent Speech of Mr.
Henry in Opposition.-Resolutions against the Stamp Act In-
troduced by Mr. Henry, May 29, 1765, and Carried against the
Opposition of the Old Leaders.-Mr. Jefferson's Account of the
Debate.-Accounts of Governor Fauquier and Rev. William
Robinson.-Contemporaneous Evidence Concerning the Num-
ber of Resolutions Offered and Passed.-Leadership of the Col-
ony accorded Mr. Henry as a Consequence of his Action.-Effect
of his Resolves on the Colonies.-Resistance to the Execution
of the Act.-Stamp Act Congress.-Mr. Henry's Fame.-He
Gave the Initial Impulse to the Revolution.

IT was at this critical period that Patrick Henry
entered upon public life. On the first day of its
session the House of Burgesses took steps to fill
several vacancies which had occurred during the re-
cess. One of these was from the county of Louisa,
whose delegate, William Johnson, had accepted the
office of Coroner. Mr. Henry, though not a resident
of that county, was elected to fill the vacancy,1 his
name being brought forward by William Venable,
a prominent citizen. It has been said that the va-
cancy was made in order that Mr. Henry might be-
come a member of the House, and exert himself

'A bond executed in August, 1765, describes him as a resident of Han-
over County.


against the Stamp Act. But there seems to be no
ground for this assertion, as Mr. Johnson accepted
the office of Coroner, which required the resignation
of his seat, before information was received of the
passage of the Act.' The happening of the vacancy
at this time, and the election of Mr. Henry to fill it,
must be considered events of that kind styled by
some, accidental, but by the more thoughtful, prov-
idential. Certainly no event seemingly so unimpor-
tant as the resignation of Mr. Johnson, ever pro-
duced more important results.
Mr. Henry took his seat May 20, and was at once
placed on the Committee of Courts of Justice. He
entered a body of intellectual and patriotic men,
whose proceedings were conducted with the utmost
decorum, and whose leaders were possessed of ability,
of culture, and of deserved influence.2
John Robinson, the Speaker of the House, had filled
the chair for twenty-five years with great dignity. He
was possessed of a strong mind, which was enlarged
by great experience, and of a benevolence of spirit and
courtesy of manner which rendered him exceedingly
popular. He was wealthy, and was the acknowl-
edged head of the landed aristocracy. As Speaker
of the House he was also Treasurer of the colony,
and was altogether the most influential member of
the body. The high offices he held caused him to
be warmly attached to the royal government, and he
was very averse to taking any step which would be
censured by the Ministry.
Peyton Randolph, the Attorney-General, held the
next rank to the Speaker. He was an eminent law-
This information was not received till after the House met.
2 See Appendix II. for a list of the members.


yer, an accomplished parliamentarian, and a practi-
cal statesman of a high order. He presided over the
House when it sat in committee of the whole.
Edmund Pendleton was justly ranked as one of
the ablest men in the House. Mr. Jefferson has
said of him, Taken all in all, he was the ablest man
in debate I ever met; he was cool, smooth, and per-
suasive; his language flowing, chaste, and embel-
lished; his conceptions quick, acute, and full of re-
source; add to this that he was one of the most
virtuous and benevolent of men, the kindest friend,
the most amiable and pleasant of companions."
George Wythe is described by Mr. Jefferson as
the best Latin and Greek scholar in the colony, and of
such purity and inflexible integrity, of such warm
patriotism and devotion to liberty, that he might
have been called the Cato of his country, without
the avarice of the Roman. His elocution was easy
and his language chaste. He was methodical in the
arrangement of his matter, learned and logical in
the use of it, and of great urbanity in debate; not
quick of apprehension, but profound in penetration,
and sound in conclusion.
Richard Bland is described by the same pen, as
the most learned and logical man of those who took
a prominent lead in public affairs; profound in con-
stitutional lore, but a most ungraceful speaker in
debate. He wrote the first pamphlet on the nature
of the colonial connection with Great Britain, which
had any pretension to accuracy of view on that sub-
ject. Edmund Randolph states, that his perfect
knowledge of the history of the colony had given
him the name of the Virginian Antiquarian."
Richard Henry Lee was already distinguished for


that learning, and those great gifts of tongue and
pen, which won for him the title of the Cicero of
George Washington, modest and retiring as a
member, was the beau ideal of a soldier, and was
already noted for that strong common sense and per-
fectly balanced character, which have won the ad-
miration of the world. He at once became Mr.
Henry's friend.
Robert Carter Nicholas, of singular purity of
character and strength of intellect, was the leading
lawyer of the colony.
Besides these may be named among those who
deservedly rose to high position, and were already
men of influence, Paul Carrington, Benjamin Harri-
son, William Cabell, Archibald Cary, Thomas Mar-
shall, John Page, Carter Braxton, Francis Lightfoot
Lee, Thompson Mason, Dudley Digges, and the ac-
complished John Blair of the College. The list
shows other names of equal merit and intelligence
which will be recognized by the reader.
History does not tell us of a State of the same
size as Virginia which could, at any one period, fur-
nish such a galaxy of great names as is found on
the roll of this House; and one is forced to admire
the elements of Virginia society, which united to
bring upon the stage of action at one time such a
superb body of men.
If there were parties in the House they were
best divided by a geographical line, which would
separate the old counties on tide-water, from the
newer and more western, known as upper coun-
ties." Of the fifty-six counties on the roll of the
House thirty-five were on tide-water, or in that sec-


tion.' The rest were in the piedmont and mountain-
ous regions.
But this division would have been made not be-
cause of the geographical line, but of the difference
in the population on either side of it. The counties
on tide-water, first settled, contained a population
almost purely English, an admixture of the cavalier
and puritan elements, and showing some of the best
characteristics of both. Many younger sons of
wealthy or noble families, many of the yeomanry,
and many of the merchant class of England were
found among them. Entailed estates, and large
property in slaves, had developed a decided aris-
tocracy, which vied with the vice-regal court of
the Governor at Williamsburg in their manner of
living. They prided themselves on being loyal to
the King and the Established Church.
Far different were the people who settled to the
westward, and who, or whose immediate ancestors,
had to subdue the forest and its savage inhabitants.
While these were largely English also, with some
admixture of French Huguenot, Scotch, and Ger-
man, as was also the case in tide-water Virginia,
there was also found a large, and in some counties
a controlling element, of Scotch-Irish. This was
notably so in the valley counties.
The Scotch who settled the north of Ireland dur-
ing the first quarter of the seventeenth century, be-
came restless under the persecutions to which they
were subjected in the reign of Queen Anne, and emi-
grated to America in great numbers during the
eighteenth century. In 1738, they applied to Gov-
ernor Gooch for permission to settle in the valley of
Jefferson's Notes on Virginia, 152.


Virginia, promising to hold the western frontier
against the Indians, and imposing but one condition,
" that they be allowed the liberty of their consciences,
and of worshipping God in a way agreeable to the
principles of their education." The Governor re-
turned a gracious answer, and soon the valley of
Virginia, from Pennsylvania to the North Carolina
line, was filled with this hardy race, which over-
flowed the mountains and gave tone and character
to the piedmont counties.
This people, which has so largely controlled the
history of Virginia, retained in a remarkable degree
the characteristics which distinguished them in the
old world. They were Presbyterians in their re-
ligion and church government, were loyal to the
conceded authority of the king, but held him to be
bound, as well as themselves, by "the solemn
League and Covenant," made in 1643, by which the
throne was pledged to the support of the reforma-
tion, and of the liberties of the kingdoms; they
claimed the rights of a free church; they practised
strict discipline in morals, and rigidly trained their
youth in secular and religious learning; and as a race
they combined, as perhaps no other did, acuteness
of intellect, firmness of purpose, and conscientious
devotion to duty. Trained to arms by their contin-
uous contact with the treacherous savage, they be-
came a race of soldiers, distinguished in every war in
which Virginia had been engaged. As the vast ter-
ritory was divided into new counties, this popula-
tion began to exercise influence in the councils of
the State. Upon all questions involving the exer-
cise of arbitrary powers they were a united band,
withstanding the tendency of the cavaliers to bow


to royal authority, and maintaining their rights with
the spirit of John Knox.
Mr. Henry had not been in his seat three days
before he was called to his feet, by a proposition
that the colony borrow 240,000, to be secured and
met by a tax on tobacco, of which 100,000 was to
be used to redeem the current paper money, issued
to meet the expenses of the late war, and 140,000
in loans on permanent security. Mr. Jefferson, who
heard the debate, has left the following account of
the matter:

"The gentlemen of this country had, at that time,
become deeply involved in that state of indebtment
which has since ended in so general a crush of their
fortunes. Mr. Robinson, the Speaker, was also the
Treasurer, an officer always chosen by the Assembly.
He was an excellent man, liberal, friendly, and rich.
He had been drawn in to lend, on his own account,
great sums of money to persons of this description;
and especially those who were of the assembly. He
used freely for this purpose the public money, con-
fiding for its replacement in his own means, and the
securities he had taken on those loans. About this
time, however, he became sensible that his deficit to
the public was become so enormous, as that a dis-
covery must soon take place, for as yet the public
had no suspicion of it. He devised therefore, with
his friends in the assembly, a plan for a public loan
office, to a certain amount, from which money might
be lent on public account, and on good landed secur-
ity, to individuals. I find in Royle's Virginia
Gazette of May 17, 1765, this proposition for a loan
office presented, its advantages detailed, and the
plan explained. It seems to have been done by a
borrowing member, from the feeling with which the
motives are expressed, and to have been preparatory


to the intended motion. The motion for a loan
office was accordingly brought forward in the House
of Burgesses, and had it succeeded, the debts due
to Robinson on these loans would have been trans-
ferred to the public, and his deficit thus completely
covered. This state of things, however, was not yet
known: but Mr. Henry attacked the scheme on
other general grounds, in that style of bold, grand,
and overwhelming eloquence, for which he became
so justly celebrated afterward. I had been intimate
with him from the year 1759-60, and felt an
interest in what concerned him; and I can never
forget a particular exclamation of his in the debate,
which electrified his hearers. It had been urged,
that, from certain unhappy circumstances of the
colony, men of substantial property had contracted
debts, which, if exacted suddenly, must ruin them
and their families, but with a little indulgence of
time, might be paid with ease. 'What sir,' ex-
claimed Mr. Henry, in animadverting on this, is it
proposed, then, to reclaim the spendthrift from his
dissipation and extravagance, by filling his pockets
with money ? These expressions are indelibly im-
pressed on my memory. He laid open with so
much energy the spirit of favoritism, on which the
proposition was founded, and the abuses to which it
would lead, that it was crushed in its birth. He
carried with him all the members of the upper
counties, and left a minority composed merely of the
aristocracy of the country. From this time his
popularity swelled apace; and Mr. Robinson dying
the year afterward, his deficit was brought to light,
and discovered the true object of the proposition."

Mr. Jefferson's memory was at fault in the state-
ment that the proposition was defeated in the House.

1 Wirt's Henry, 69-71.


The Journal shows that it passed the House, and was
disapproved by the Council, after a conference with
a committee of the House, consisting of Edmund
Pendleton, Archibald Cary, Benjamin Harrison,
Lewis Burwell, George Braxton, and John Fleming,
who were, doubtless, advocates of the scheme.
The exclamation so indelibly impressed on Mr.
Jefferson's memory is an example of Mr. Henry's
wonderful power of expression, by which he was
enabled to condense his argument into one brilliant
sentence, which, like an electric flash, illumined his
subject, and stamped itself on the minds of his hear-
ers. In this, Mr. Henry's first debate in the House,
he displayed not only his great powers of eloquence,
but his courage in maintaining his convictions of
public duty against the united efforts of the aristo-
cratic leaders of the body. He at once threw him-
self athwart their path, and aroused their enmity,
which was none the less bitter because mixed with
But what he lost on one side of the House he
gained on the other. The members who, like him-
self, represented the yeomanry of the colony, were
filled with admiration and delight. They rallied
around the man who was one of themselves, and
who showed himself able to cope with the ablest of
the old leaders.
Mr. Henry, since the argument of the Parsons'
Cause," had been recognized in his county as the bold-
est of the advocates of colonial rights, and it was
doubtless due to this that he had been elected to
the House of Burgesses. He found the House
thrown into consternation by the intelligence of the
passage of the Stamp Act, but with no seeming dis-

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