Half Title
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 Governor of Virginia--third term,...
 In the legislature--southern campaign,...
 Cession of the Northwest Territory,...
 Invasion of Virginia, 1781
 Close of the Revolution, 1781
 Legislation after the war--negotiations...
 Legislation, 1783-84
 Treaty of peace--legislative triumphs,...
 Governor of the state--fourth term,...
 Governor of the state--fifth term,...
 United States Constitution,...
 Virginia convention, 1788
 Objections to the Constitution,...
 Struggle for amendments--1788,...
 Amendments, 1790-91
 Return to the Bar, 1787-94
 In private life, 1790-94
 Courted by political parties,...
 Kentucky and Virginia resolutions...
 Closing scenes, 1798-99
 Appendix I
 Appendix II
 Appendix III
 Appendix IV

Group Title: Patrick Henry; life, correspondence and speeches
Title: Patrick Henry; life, correspondence and speeches,
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00076205/00002
 Material Information
Title: Patrick Henry; life, correspondence and speeches,
Physical Description: Book
Creator: Henry, William Wirt,
Publisher: Charles Scribner's Sons,
Copyright Date: 1891
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00076205
Volume ID: VID00002
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: 00727087 - OCLC

Table of Contents
    Half Title
        Half Title 1
        Half Title 2
    Title Page
        Title Page 1
        Title Page 2
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
        Page ix
        Page x
        Page xi
        Page xii
        Page xiii
        Page xiv
        Page xv
        Page xvi
    Governor of Virginia--third term, 1778-79
        Page 1
        Page 2
        Page 3
        Page 4
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    In the legislature--southern campaign, 1779-80
        Page 42
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    Cession of the Northwest Territory, 1780-81
        Page 75
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    Invasion of Virginia, 1781
        Page 110
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    Close of the Revolution, 1781
        Page 137
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    Legislation after the war--negotiations for peace, 1781-83
        Page 169
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    Legislation, 1783-84
        Page 197
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    Treaty of peace--legislative triumphs, 1783-84
        Page 229
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    Governor of the state--fourth term, 1784-85
        Page 249
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        Page 276
        Page 277
        Page 278
        Page 279
    Governor of the state--fifth term, 1785-86
        Page 280
        Page 281
        Page 282
        Page 283
        Page 284
        Page 285
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    United States Constitution, 1787-88
        Page 310
        Page 311
        Page 312
        Page 313
        Page 314
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    Virginia convention, 1788
        Page 338
        Page 339
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        Page 341
        Page 342
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    Objections to the Constitution, 1788
        Page 378
        Page 379
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    Struggle for amendments--1788, 1789
        Page 409
        Page 410
        Page 411
        Page 412
        Page 413
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    Amendments, 1790-91
        Page 440
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    Return to the Bar, 1787-94
        Page 464
        Page 465
        Page 466
        Page 467
        Page 468
        Page 469
        Page 470
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    In private life, 1790-94
        Page 505
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    Courted by political parties, 1790-96
        Page 535
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    Kentucky and Virginia resolutions of 1798, 1796-98
        Page 566
        Page 567
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    Closing scenes, 1798-99
        Page 600
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    Appendix I
        Page 633
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    Appendix II
        Page 646
        Page 647
    Appendix III
        Page 648
        Page 649
        Page 650
    Appendix IV
        Page 651
        Page 652
Full Text


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




Date: >j/ _




S.....' ... ....
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Proceedings in Parliament.-Attempted Intervention of
Spain.-Terms of Peace Proposed by Congress.-Attitude
of France.-Spain Declares War with England.-Philadel-
phia Evacuated.-Battle of Monmouth.-War Transferred
to the Southern States.-Governor Henry Sends Troops to
the Relief of Kentucky.-Virginia's Quota to the Continen-
tal Army.-Depreciation of the Currency.-Foreign Loan
Secured by Governor Henry.-Virginia's Generous Position
as to Her Northwestern Territory.-French Treaty Ratified
by Virginia.-Expedition Under Colonel Evan Shelby
Against the Indians.-Governor Henry Advises the Occu-
pation of the Lower Mississippi.-Collier's Expedition
against Virginia. -Vigorous Defence by Governor Henry.-
His Humane Treatment of Prisoners.-Criticism on Gov-
ernor Henry's Administration.-Approval by the Legisla-
ture.-He Declines a Re-election.


Patrick Henry Removes to Henry County.-His Sickness.
-Declines a Seat in Congress.-Season of Despondency
among American Patriots.-Reverses in the South.-Ef-
fects of Depreciated Currency.-Alarm of Washington.-
Mutiny in his Army.-Letter of Patrick Henry to Thomas
Jefferson.-He Returns to the House of Delegates.-Im-
parts Activity to its War Measures.--Resists the Design of
Congress to Replace the Old Paper Money by New Issues.
-Advocates Taxation to Support the Currency.-Return
of Lafayette with Promise of Aid from France.-Efficient

9 l702,


Measures of Congress upon the Advice of Washington.-
Last Attempt of the British to Conquer the West.-Meas-
ures of the Virginia Legislature.-Commercial Regulations
Proposed by Catharine of Russia.--Proceedings in Parlia-
ment.-The War in the South.-Conquest of South Caro-
lina.-Battle of King's Mountain. -General Nathaniel
Greene in Command of Southern Army.-Virginia Invaded.
-Meeting of Assembly.-Important Services of Patrick
Henry as a Member.


Resolution of Congress Requesting Cession of Western
Lands.-Contest between Virginia and the Land Compa-
nies.-Large Claims of the Latter.-They Appeal to Con-
gress.-Remonstrance of the Virginia Assembly.-Claims
of other States to Part of Virginia's Territory.-Action of
Maryland.-Policy of Spain.-Attempt to Treat with Her.
-The Land Companies Attempt to Bribe Congress.-Offer
of Virginia to Cede her Northwestern Territory, and to
Yield the Right to Navigate the Mississippi, in order to
Secure the Union.-The Conditions Attached Opposed by
the Land Companies.-Their Influence upon the Action of
Congress.-History of the Offer of Virginia in Congress.-
Final Acceptance.-Subsequent Action of the Indiana Com-
pany.-The Claim of Virginia to the Northwestern Terri-
tory Stated and Defended.


INVASION OF VIRGINIA.-1781....................... 110
British Fleet Enters the Capes, December 30, 1780.-
Capture of Richmond by Arnold, and Destruction of Prop-
erty.-The British Retire to Portsmouth and are Besieged.
-Lafayette Sent to Virginia.-Naval Engagement off the
Capes.-General Phillips, in Command of the British, Oc-
cupies Petersburg.-Meeting of the Legislature in March,
1781.-Critical Condition of the State.-Indifference of the
Northern States.-Mr. Henry Moves a Representation to
Congress.-Paper Prepared for the Committee.-Energetic
Measures to Meet the Invaders.-Controversy between the


Senate and House.-The Carolinas and Georgia Recovered
by General Greene.-Cornwallis Marches into Virginia.-
The State without Sufficient Arms.-Damaging Raids by
the British.-Wayne Joins Lafayette, and the British Re-
tire to Portsmouth.-Spirit of the Virginians.


CLOSE OF THE REVOLUTION.-1781................... 137
Legislature Meets in Richmond and Adjourns to Char-
lottesville.-Efficient Measures Carried by Mr. Henry.-
Adjournment to Staunton.-Alarm There.-General Thomas
Nelson Elected Governor.-Inquiry into the Conduct of
Mr. Jefferson as Governor Ordered.-Dissatisfaction with
Baron Steuben.-Scheme of a Dictator Proposed.-Mr.
Jefferson and the Legislature.-Active War Measures Un-
der the Leadership of Mr. Henry.-Address to Congress.
-Number of Virginia Troops.-Charge of John Taylor
against Mr. Henry.-Patriotism of Governor Nelson.-Mu-
tiny of Pennsylvania Troops.-Siege of Yorktown.-Sur-
render of Cornwallis.-Close of the Revolution.-Mr. Hen-
ry's Part in it.-Effect upon the Governments in Europe
and America.


-1781--83 ..................................... 169
Legislature of November, 1781.-Important Bills Intro-
duced by Mr. Henry.-Parliament Determines to End the
War.-Letter of General Gates to Mr. Henry.-Legislature
of May, 1782.-Movement for Separation of Kentucky and
Washington County from Virginia.-Virginia Withdraws
Her Consent to the Abandonment of the Free Navigation
of the Mississippi.-Movement of Maryland for Closer Re-
lations with Virginia.-Friendly Response of Virginia.-
Negotiations at Paris for Peace.-Importance of .Boundary
Question.-The Northwest Secured by Clark's Conquest.-
Terms of Treaty.-Mr. Henry's Policy after Peace.-Con-
trols the Legislation of the State.-Accounts of Some of
His Speeches.


LEfGSLATION.-1783-84 ............................ 197

Mr. Henry Advocates Internal Improvements and Educa-
tional Institutions.-Hampden Sydney College Chartered.
-Spread of French Infidelity Dreaded by Mr. Henry.-
Decay of Religion.-Scheme to Support Religious Teachers
by Taxation, and to Incorporate Churches.-Attitude of
the Baptist and Presbyterian Churches.-Fate of the
Measures.-Mr. Jefferson's Bill Establishing Religious
Freedom Passed.-It Carries out the Bill of Rights.-
Reminiscences of Mr. Henry as a Member of the Legisla-
ture.-His Humor.-Embarrassments to the Commerce of
the State.-Relations to the Indians.-Bill to Encourage
Intermarriages with Whites Offered by Mr. Henry.-His
Position as to the Northwestern Land.-Is for Strengthen-
ing the Power of Congress over Commerce, and in the
Matter of Requisitions.


Ministry Censured because of the Terms of the Treaty of
Peace.-The New Ministry Refuses to Comply with Certain
of Its Articles.-Posts and Property Retained.-Mr. Henry
Induces the Virginia Legislature to Resent the Conduct of
England.-His Attitude as to British Debts.-Defeats Ef-
fort to Change State Constitution.-Efforts to Regulate
Commerce on the Potomac.-Leading Part of Mr. Henry
in Doing Honor to Washington and Lafayette.-Washing-
ton's Scheme of Internal Improvements.-Failure of Land
Grant to Thomas Paine.-Reminiscences of Mr. Henry's
Legislative Career by Judge Spencer Roane.-Description
of His Person.-Anecdote of Him by Mr. Madison.-Ac-
quaintance with, and Influence over, the Career of Albert
Gallatin.-Mr. Henry's Penetration into Character, and His
Knowledge of Mankind.


Unanimous Re-election of Mr. Henry as Governor.-Re-
moval of His Family to Chesterfield County.-Death of His
Mother.-Her Exalted Christian Character.-Death of His
Brother and Aunt.-Style of Living as Governor.--Renewed
Correspondence with Richard Henry Lee.-Correspondence
with Washington in Reference to the Stock Voted Him by
the Legislature.-Causes the Marbles of Washington and
Lafayette Ordered by the Legislature to be Executed by
Houdon.-Grateful Feelings of Lafayette.-Lewis Little-
page.-His Remarkable Career.--Purchase in France, by
the Governor, of Arms for the State.-Visit of John Fitch.
Proposed Steamboat Navigation. Governor Henry
Grants Conditional Pardons, and Gives Birth to the Peni-
tentiary System.-Letter from the Countess of Hunting-
don.-Her Plan for Civilizing the Indians.-Approval by
Governor Henry and General Washington.-Its Failure in
Congress.-The State of Franklin.-Movement to Divide
Virginia Headed by Colonel Arthur Campbell.-Wise Course
of Governor Henry.-Able and Patriotic Letter in Refer-
ence to the State of Franklin.-The Scheme Abandoned.


Election of Governor Henry for Fifth Term.-Inefficiency
of the Confederation.-Steps Leading to Its Revisal.-In-
terference by Spain with the Settlement of the Mississippi
Valley.-Indian Hostility Led by McGilvray.-Retention of
the Northwestern Posts by the British.-Indian Raids.-
Colonel William Christian Killed in One of These.-Beau-
tiful Letter of Governor Henry to Mrs. Christian.-His Ap-
peal to Congress on Behalf of Kentucky.-His Efforts to
Protect the Inhabitants on the Failure of Congress to do
so.-Scheme of John Jay to Yield the Free Navigation of
the Mississippi to Spain for a Term of Years in Negotiating
a Treaty.-Action of the Eastern States in Congress.-Im-
portant Letter from James Monroe to Governor Henry on
this Subject.-Proposed Division of the Union by Northern


Men.-Irritating Conduct of Spanish Officials.-Action of
Virginia Legislature.-Effect on Governor Henry of the
Action of the New England States.-Elected a Delegate to
the Proposed Federal Convention.-Declines another Elec-
tion as Governor.-Condition of His Private Affairs.-Mar-
riage of Two Daughters.-Letter to Mrs. Roane on Her


UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION.-1787-88 ................ 310
Mr. Henry Declines the Appointment to the Federal Con-
vention.-Washington with Difficulty Prevailed on to At-
tend.-Important Political Events in the North and West
Demonstrating the Weakness of the Confederation.-Eng-
land and Spain Expecting a Dissolution of the Union.-
Meeting of the Convention.-The Plan of Government
Proposed by the Virginia Delegates.-The Constitution the
Result of Compromises.-Washington Sends Mr. Henry a
Copy.-His Reply.-Meeting of Virginia Legislature.-
Anxiety as to Mr. Henry's Attitude Toward the Proposed
Constitution.-He Declares for Amendments.-He Shapes
the Action of the Assembly in Calling a Convention.-Re-
markable Exhibition of His Power in Debate, in Defeating
the Proposal to Repeal Laws in Conflict with the British
Treaty.-Carries Resolutions as to the Mississippi.-Action
as to Paper Money and Tariff on Liquors, etc.-Mr. Henry
Returns to the Practice of Law.-Discussion of the Federal
Constitution. -Position of Washington. -Action of the
First State Convention which Met.


VIRGINIA CONVENTION.-1788 .......................... 338
Importance of Virginia's Action on the Proposed Consti-
tution.-Contest for Seats in her Convention Meeting of
the Body.-Intense Interest in Its Proceedings.-Mission
of Colonel Oswald.-Mr. Henry's Letter to General Lamb.
-Estimates of Strength of Parties.-Plan of the Anti-fed-
eralists.-Proceedings Reported in Shorthand.-Mr. Henry
as the Leader of the Opposition to Immediate Ratification.


-His Construction of the Constitution.-Course of the De-
bate.-Attacks Governor Randolph.-Scene with George
Nicholas.-Mr. Henry's Greatest Speech.-Tactics of the
Several Parties.-The Convention for Amendments.-Con-
cessions of the Federalists.-Form of Ratification Proposed.
-Conduct of Mr. Madison.-Mr. Henry Offers Previous
Amendments.--Closing Debate.-Storm Scene.-Madison
and Randolph Pledge Their Party to Subsequent Amend-
ments.-Last Speech of Mr. Henry in the Convention.-
Ratification Carried, and Mr. Henry's Amendments Urged
upon Congress.-Washington's Influence Effectual.-M-ad-
ison and Henry Compared.


OBJECTIONS TO THE CONSTITUTION.-1788 .............. 378
Mr. Henry Declares It a Consolidated Government.-Mr.
Madison's Definition of It.-The Conflicting Theories.-
Mr. Henry's Afterward Adopted by the Supreme Court and
Federal Government.-Balance of Power Destroyed.-Want
of Responsibility. Executive Patronage. Insufficient
Checks.-Bill of Rights Proposed.-Its Great Value in the
Government.-Rights of Person and of Property.-Relig-
ious Freedom.-Limits of Federal Powers Defined.-Pro-
posed Amendments Not Adopted.-Requisitions.-Two-
thirds Majority in Congress in Commercial and Navigation
Acts.-Restriction as to Elections.-Increase of Pay.-Im-
peachments.--Term of President.-Jurisdiction of Federal
Courts.-Verifications of Mr. Henry's Predictions.-Im-
plied Powers.-Abolition of Slavery.-Military Force Used
Against the States.-Interference in Elections.-Improper
Use of Money.-The South Sacrificed to the Interest of the
Majority.-Tendency to Monarchy.-Conflict of Federal
and State Courts.


STRUGGLE FOR AMENDMENTS.-1788-89 ................ 409
Meeting of Legislature in Extra Session.-Governor Clin-
ton's Letter.-Convention of New York.-Recommends
Another Federal Convention.-Convention of North Caro-


lina.-Demands Previous Amendments.-Mr. Henry's At-
titude.-Fears of the Federalists Concerning Him.-Meet-
ing of Legislature in October, 1788.-Course Pursued by
Mr. Henry to Obtain Amendments.-Passage Between him
and Francis Corbin.-Reply to Governor Clinton's Letter.
-Election of Senators.-Mr. Madison's Pledge to Support
Amendments.-Mr. Henry's Letter to R. H. Lee, giving
Reason for Opposing Madison.-Districting the State.-
Mr. Madison's District.-Letters of Decius.-Condemned
by Federalists.-Dignified Course of Mr. Henry Under the
Slanderous Attack.


AMENDMENTS.--1790-91 ............................ 440
Mr. Madison is Elected to Congress.-Mr. Henry as a
Member of the Electoral College Votes for Washington.-
Mr. Madison Moves in Congress for Amendments.--His
Fear of Mr. Henry's Influence.-Changed Position of Mr.
Madison in Reference to Necessity of Amendments.-Ac-
tion of Congress on His Motion.-Mr. Henry the Force
Behind Mr. Madison.-Correspondence between Mr. Henry
and the Virginia Members and Senators.-Measures of
First Congress.-Assembly of 1789.-Dissatisfaction with
the Action of Congress as to Amendments.-Aid to Chicka-
saws.-Request for Open Sessions of the United States
Senate.-Ratification by North Carolina and Rhode Island.
-Mr. Henry Declines a Seat in the United States Senate.
-Hamilton's Financial Schemes.-Rise of Parties.-Action
of Virginia Legislature in November, 1790.-Final Adop-
tion of the Amendments Proposed by Congress.-Close of
Mr. Henry's Political Life.-His Attitude Toward the Fed-
eral Government.-The Eleventh Amendment.


RETURN TO THE BAR.-1787-94 ..................... 464
Regains His Position at the Bar.-Brilliant Career as an
Advocate.-Contest with Edmund Randolph in Carter vs.
Carter.-The British Debt Cause.-Description of Mr.


Henry's Speech, by John Randolph of Roanoke, by Judge
Iredell.-Notices of Mr. Henry in Diary of Richard N. Yen-
able.-Family Cares.-Defence of Holland as Related by
Judge Roane.-The Turkey Case.-The John Hook Case.
-General Andrew Jackson's Tribute.-Mr. Henry's Ap-
pearance in a Murder Case, Described by Rev. Conrad
Speece.-His Advice to Rev. John Holt Rice.-Distributes
Soame Jennings's Book on Christianity. Removes to
Campbell County.-Defends Richard Randolph, Charged
with Infanticide.-Dr. Archibald Alexander's Account of
Mr. Henry as an Advocate.-Retainer Offered Him by Gov-
ernor Brooke in the Manor of Leeds Case.-Death of
George Mason and Richard Henry Lee.


IN PRIVATE LIFE.-1790-94 ...... ............ ... 505
Land Investments.-Treaty Between the United States
and the Creek Indians.-Virginia Yazoo Company.-Re-
moval of Mr. Henry to Red Hill.-Description of His New
Home.-His Domestic Life.--His Estimate of His Political
Associates.-His Religious Life.-Marriage of Two Daugh-
ters.-Commencement of French Revolution.-Condition
of the Nation.-Different Impressions of Gouverneur Morris
and Thomas Jefferson.-Progress of the Revolution.-War
between France and England.-Washington's Policy of
Neutrality.-Conduct of Genet, the French Minister to the
United States.-Effect of European Affairs on American
Political Parties. Questions of Maritime Law. -Jay's
Treaty.-The Whiskey Insurrection in Pennsylvania.-Op-
position to Washington's Administration.


COURTED BY POLITICAL PARTIES.-1790-96............ 535
Mr. Henry Better Satisfied with the Federal Government.
-Supports Washington's Policy of Neutrality.-Alarmed
by the Excesses of the French Revolution.-Reverence for
Washington.-Attitude Toward Parties.-Correspondence
Between Henry Lee and Washington.-Washington De-


sires to Engage Mr. Henry in the Service of the United
States.-Part Taken in the Matter by Governor Henry Lee.
-Mr. Henry Offered a United States Senatorship by Him.
-Washington Offers Him the Mission to Spain.-Mr. Jef-
ferson Attempts to Attach Him to His Party through Judge
Archibald Stuart.-Renewed Friendship Between Wash-
ington and Henry.--Washington Offers Him the Secretary-
ship of State.-Important Letter on the Occasion.-Mr.
Henry's Letter Declining It.-John Marshall's Account of
the Matter.-Washington Offers Him the Chief Justiceship.
-Desires to Send Him as Minister to France upon the
Recall of James Monroe.


Republican Attacks upon Washington.-Forged Letters.
-Betrayal of a Cabinet Paper.-Letter of Mr. Henry to
Mrs. Aylett.-Mr. Jefferson's Misrepresentation of Wash-
ington and Henry.-Mr. Henry Elected Governor the Sixth
Time.-Letter Declining the Office.-His Political Consist-
ency. Religious Character. Predicts Result of the
French Revolution.-John Adams Elected President.-Re-
lations to Jefferson.-Letter of Jefferson to Philip Mazzei.
-Irritating Policy of France.-Failure of the Mission of
Pinckney, Marshall, and Gerry.-Preparations for War.-
Alien and Sedition Laws.-Kentucky and Virginia Resolu-
tions.-Mr. Henry Disapproves of Them.-Advocates the
Election of John Marshall and Henry Lee to Congress.-
Letter to Archibald Blair.


(ILOSING SCENES.-1798-99.......................... 600
Alarm of General Washington for the Country.-Letter
to Mr. Henry Urging Him to Offer for the Legislature.-
His Candidacy and Its Effect on Parties.-Appearance at
the March County Court of Charlotte.-His Speech to the
Assembled People.-First Public Appearance of John Ran-
dolph of Roanoke.-Effects of the Kentucky and Virginia


Resolutions.-Mr. Madison's Effort to Explain His Work.
-Mr. Jefferson's Injustice to Mr. Henry.-Influence over
Mr. Wirt.-Difference of Views Between Henry and Jeffer-
son.-Election of Mr. Henry to the House of Delegates.-
Appointment as One of the Ministers to France.-His Let-
ter Declining It.-Rapid Decline in Health.-Death-bed.
-Grief of His Countrymen.-His Monument.-Growing
Reverence for His Character.-His Family.-His Parting
Injunction to His Countrymen.

APPENDIX I ......... .......... .................. 633
APPENDIX II................................. 646
APPENDIX III............ .......... .............. 648
APPENDIX IV .................................... 651




Proceedings in Parliament.-Attempted Intervention of Spain.-
Terms of Peace Proposed by Congress.-Attitude of France.-
Spain Declares War with England.-Philadelphia Evacuated.-
Battle of Monmouth.-War Transferred to the Southern States.
-Governor Henry Sends Troops to the Relief of Kentucky.-
Virginia's Quota to the Continental Army.-Depreciation of the
Currency.-Foreign Loan Secured by Governor Henry.-Vir-
ginia's Generous Position as to Her Northwestern Territory.-
French Treaty Ratified by Virginia.-Expedition Under Colonel
Evan Shelby Against the Indians.-Governor Henry Advises
the Occupation of the Lower Mississippi.-Collier's Expedition
against Virginia.-Vigorous Defence by Governor Henry.--His
Humane Treatment of Prisoners.-Criticism on Governor Hen-
ry's Administration.-Approval by the Legislature. -He De-
clines a Re-election.

THE third term of Governor Henry opened with
brighter prospects for the American cause than ever
before. A French fleet was on its way to aid in the
struggle, and negotiations were in progress which re-
sulted in the accession of Spain to the combination
against Great Britain; but Spain acted from the self-
ish motive of the expected acquisition of Gibraltar
and of the Mississippi Valley. In England the war
was severely felt. Commerce, which had suffered
so much by the loss of America as a market, was
now subjected to great risk by the daring of Amer-


ican privateers. The brave and brilliant Paul Jones
was insulting the British navy by taking prizes in
the Irish Channel. The distress of the nation was
described in the House of Lords by the Earl of Co-
ventry in these striking words:

"Our manufacturers are unemployed, starving,
and burdensome to their respective parishes. Our
commerce is declining, and is carried on upon south
risk, and on such high premiums of insurance, as to
render it but of small advantage to the merchant,
and burdensome to the consumer. Public credit is
drawing fast towards annihilation. Our stocks fal-
len nearly as low as at the conclusion of the late
war." 1

It was believed that had Chatham abated his op-
position to American independence, a union of his
adherents with the Rockingham whigs might have
unseated the North Ministry and restored peace.
The death of the great statesman put an end to that
hope. No enemy of England could have felt great-
er relief upon the happening of that event, than did
the Ruler whose kingdom he had so gloriously
strengthened. Upon the meeting of Parliament,
November 26, 1778, the King's speech was marked
in its determination to continue the war, and in its
bitterness toward France for aiding his "revolted sub-
jects in North America." Upon the address to the
throne, long and excited debates were had in both
Houses. The speech of the occasion was delivered
by Fox, and for eloquence and boldness of invective
it was a masterpiece. John Wilkes, who followed
him, said of it, "The honorable gentleman, in a di-
I Parliamentary History of England, xix., 1282.


vine strain of eloquence scarcely paralleled, never
surpassed within these walls, has treated the King's
speech with merited indignation. He pronounced
it false, demonstrated it to be so, and called it the
king's libel on Parliament." I
But neither the distress of the nation, nor the elo-
quence of the opposition, could overcome the minis-
terial majority, strengthened as it was by hatred to
France. The vote upon the address demonstrated
that the administration was supported by two-thirds
of each House.
Among the members of Parliament were Generals
Howe and Burgoyne, Lord Howe and Admiral
Keppel, all four seeking vindication; the first three
for failures in America, the fourth for permitting
the French fleet to sail out of Brest and depart for
the United States, without bringing on a decisive
action. Sir William Howe, on April 22, 1779, made
an elaborate defence of the conduct of his brother
aind himself,2 in which he contended that the failure
to effect more in America came from the inadequacy
of the troops furnished by the ministry, and the
neglect of his appeals for reinforcements.
During the winter of 1778-79 and the following
spring, the court of Spain was engaged in an effort
to effect a settlement of the pending hostilities.
The ground of settlement suggested was the secur-
ing to England the basin of the St. Lawrence, and
the territory northwest of the Ohio, the United
States to be bounded by the Alleghanies. Had this
been effected, Spain would have claimed as her own
the valley of the Mississippi below the mouth of

i Parliamentary History of England, xix., 1343.
2 Idem, xx., 676.


the Ohio. But without discovering her designs,
Spain craftily invited the belligerents to remit to
her court the points on which they intended to in-
sist.' In this she was foiled, the British minister
answering, "that while France supported the colon-
ies in rebellion, no negotiation could be entered
But the fact that such negotiations were being
attempted lulled Congress into inactivity, and en-
couraged the hope that hostilities would soon cease.
That body, at the instance of Gerard, the French
minister, entered into the consideration of the terms
upon which it would agree to peace. The report
of a special committee, on February 23, 1779, fixed
the ultimatum of the United States in negotiations
for peace at, (1) independence, (2) the Mississippi
as the western boundary from Canada to Florida,
with its free navigation to the southern boundary,
and a free port below, (3) Canada and Nova Scotia
as the northern boundary, and (4) the right of fish-
ery on the coasts of Newfoundland.3 The French
minister now sought, by personal appeals to the
members, to obtain the relinquishment of the claim
to the fisheries, and to the valley and navigation of
the Mississippi.4 In this he succeeded so far as to
have the question of the fisheries postponed for a
future treaty with England, but the other points
were insisted on, and John Jay was sent as a spec-
ial envoy to Spain.5
The court of Spain, loath to see the English Col-
onies independent republican states, for fear her
own colonies might follow their example, yet anx-

I Bancroft, x., 164-5.
*Idem, 212.

2Idem, 164. 'Idem, 214.
1 Idem, 219, etc.


ious to humble England and to regain Gibraltar,
finally threw off the mask, and on June 16, 1779,
made a declaration of war against Great Britain,
but without entering into alliance with the United
When Sir Henry Clinton sailed to supersede
General Howe, he brought orders for the prosecu-
tion of the war on a different plan from that pur-
sued by his predecessor. He was ordered to aban-
don Philadelphia, to hold New York and Rhode
Island, and to attack the accessible ports along the
Atlantic coast, destroying everything of value in his
reach. At the same time the Indians along the
western frontier, from Detroit to Florida, were to
be incited to renew their murderous raids.1 The
plan demonstrated that 'the threats of the commis-
sioners were not idle words.
In obedience to his orders, made necessary by the
expected arrival of the French fleet, Sir Henry
Clinton, at the head of 17,000 effective men,
evacuated Philadelphia June 17, 1778, and took up
his line of march by way of Monmouth to Sandy
Hook. Washington at once moved to fall upon his
retreating columns. General Charles Lee, who had
been exchanged and was again second in command,
was ordered to make the attack on June 28, near
Monmouth, but instead of doing so shamefully re-
treated before a body of British troops, without
making an effort to check the enemy. Washington
coming up, met Lee retreating in great disorder,
and was aroused to the highest pitch of passion.
He demanded of him, "What is the meaning of
this? in tones which abashed and confused the
I Bancroft, x., 123.


proud and haughty general, and when he stam-
mered out an incoherent reply, he was sent to the
rear. Washington himself rallied the men, and
posting them to advantage, he first checked and
then defeated the pursuing British. Clinton, by
abandoning the field before midnight, reached Sandy
Hook and New York without further interruption,
and Washington thereupon established his lines so
as to protect the adjacent country.
Lee's misconduct resulted in a court martial and
his disgrace, and thus was the American army
finally rid of a pretentious and wayward general,
who, as has since been proved, was also a traitor,1
and in criminal correspondence with the enemy.
In July the French fleet, commanded by the
Count D'Estaing, arrived at the Capes of Delaware,
and raised the hopes of the American patriots to
the highest pitch. These hopes were almost imme-
diately chilled, however, by the failure of a plan of
joint attack upon the British force in Rhode Island,
and the serious injury to the fleet by a storm, which
forced the commander to retire to Boston for re-
pairs. From thence he sailed for the West Indies.
The summer passed without progress in subduing
the American States, and a winter campaign was
planned for the South, which it was confidently be-
lieved would subdue, or allure to British allegiance,
all the country south of the Susquehanna.2 Georgia,
the weakest State, was to be first subdued. Accord-
ingly Savannah was attacked by a force from New
York, December 29, 1778, and the small American
army defending it was defeated. In January fol-
i Treason of Charles Lee, by George H. Moore.
SBancroft, x., 28-4.


lowing a British force marched from Florida across
lower Georgia, and another took possession of
Augusta. The State of Georgia thus seemed to be
conquered, and the British army gave itself up to
The next object of conquest was South Carolina,
and General Prevost proceeded to lay siege to
Charleston. The brilliant John Rutledge was Gov-
ernor of the State. Clothed with dictatorial
powers, he called out the reserved militia, and
threw himself into the city. The approach of
General Lincoln, now in command of the Southern
Department, caused the British general to retire,
and the battle of Stono followed. Though lost to
the Americans, it proved them to be genuine sol-
diers, and Mason's gallant Virginia brigade was
particularly mentioned for its bravery and steady
Upon entering on the third term of his service,
Governor Henry at once applied himself to raising
the troops ordered by the Assembly. Brigadier-
General Thomas Nelson was commissioned to raise
the regiment of cavalry.8 Colonel George Muter,
Lieut. Colonel Nicholas, George Macball&, and Major
Charles Porterfield, were commissioned to raise the
battalion of infantry for garrison duty in the State.4
Colonels Edward Stephens, George Slaughter,
Lewis Burwell, and Nicholas Cabell, and Majors
David Jameson, Edward Garland, Richard Waugh,
and William Haly Avery, to recruit the volunteer
battalions for the Continental Army.5 And Francis
Smith, and Alexander Baugh, of Chesterfield, John
I Bancroft, x., 286. 2 Lee's Memoirs of the War in the South, 131.
3 Executive Journal, 266. 4 Idem, 278. 5 Idem, 279 and 290.


Lewis, of Pittsylvania, Elisha White and Thomas
Richardson, of Hanover, John White, of Louisa,
Daniel Barksdale, of Caroline, John Holcombe, of
Prince Edward, William Allen, of James City, and
Alexander Cummings, of Bedford, to recruit men
for the regular Continental service.1
The Governor did not hesitate to express his
fears that the two thousand volunteers voted for
the ensuing campaign could not be raised in time,
and it was with a feeling of relief that he laid be-
fore the Council, on August 6, a resolution of
Congress thanking the Assembly for their zeal, and
informing the Executive, that a change in circum-
stances had rendered the march and services of the
cavalry and volunteer infantry at present inexpe-
dient.2 Orders were at once given to stop the en-
listment of men for these battalions.
At the same meeting of Council he laid before
them the resolution of Congress of July 25, 1778,
deferring the expedition against Detroit, and order-
ing instead an attack upon the hostile Indian towns
near the Ohio River, as had been advised by Gov-
ernor Henry. The Council thereupon advised the
Governor to direct the County Lieutenants of
Washington, Montgomery, Botetourt, Augusta,
Rockbridge, Rockingham, Greenbrier, Shenandoah,
Berkeley, Frederick, Hampshire, Monongalia, Yo-
hogania, and Ohio to furnish, properly equipped,
as many men as General McIntosh might demand
for the proposed Indian expedition; which was

I Bancroft, x., 290.
1 Executive Journal, 303. Colonel Nelson had already reached Phila-
delphia with his cavalry, and he was sent back. 3 Idem, 303.


Six days afterward the Governor received infor-
mation which showed that the apparent inactivity
of the British in the east, was no indication of quiet
on the western border. He learned that an expe-
dition from Detroit was designed against the forts
in Kentucky. He at once ordered Colonel Arthur
Campbell, Lieutenant of Washington County, who
had given the information, to march with a force of
not less than one hundred, nor more than one hun-
dred and fifty men from his county, to the relief of
the people of Kentucky.1 The proposed expedi-
tion from Detroit was doubtless checked by the op-
erations of Clark in the Illinois country.
I By a report of H. Knox, Secretary of War, made
May 11, 1790,2 it appears that Virginia furnished
6,181 men to the Continental army in 17.76; that
her quota fixed by Congress for 1777 was 10,200
men, of which she had on the Continental rolls
5,744, and furnished besides 5,269 militia; that in
1778 her quota was fixed at 7,830 men, of which
she furnished the Continental rolls 5,230, besides
600 as a guard for the Saratoga prisoners, and 2,000
militia; and that in 1779 her quota was 5,742, and
she is credited by 3,973 regulars, 600 as a guard
for the prisoners and 4,000 militia. If this be cor-
rect, and it is believed to be an underestimate, it
appears that the efforts of Governor Henry to
make up Virginia's quota were remarkably success-
ful considering the difficulties which surrounded
him. And when the number of State troops, and of
men sent to the Northwest, to the defence of Ken-
tucky, and to the Indian wars are added to the
1 Executive Journal, 805.
2 American State Papers, Military Affairs, 1, 14, etc.


Virginians in the regular Continental army, it will
appear that the State during Governor Henry's
terms had many more men in continuous service
than her Continental quota, and this without esti-
mating her militia, so often called out for service in-
the State, nor the Virginians serving in the regi-
ments of other States.
The fact that her full quota was not credited to
her on the continental roll was not peculiar to
Virginia,1 but might be alleged of each of the other
States, none of whom were called upon to raise so
many troops for their separate State establishments.
An investigation of the facts shows conclusively
that Virginia did her whole duty to the common
cause, and she is not liable to the charge, sometimes
heard, that she failed to do her part of the fighting
in the Revolution. She did her part, and more
than her part, during the whole war.
The difficulty of raising troops and keeping them
in the field was greatly increased, during the third
year of Governor Henry's service, by the deprecia-
tion of the currency, which increased from a ratio
of five to one to that of twenty to one for gold.
The alarm which this gave, and the dangers of the
hour from this and from divisions among the States,
are given in the following interesting letter of
Richard Henry Lee to the Governor:
CHANTILLY, Nov'r 15th 1778.
"MY DEAR SIR: I send you by this opportunity
the trial of Gen' Lee, which be pleased to let our
friends Colo. Mason, Mr. Wythe, and Mr. Jefferson
see, after you have read it. I will not anticipate
your judgment, the thing speaks fully for itself.
1 Letter of Washington to Henry, October 7, 1778.


In my public letter to you, I observe that the enemy
still continue at N. York. Their reason for doing
so is not obvious. Their exposure is almost certain
destruction in the West Indies, their exceeding
weakness in every part of the world where they
have possessions, seems to demand their quitting
us for other objects, and this I should suppose they
would do if their hopes were not sustained by
other causes than the expectation of conquest by
force of arms. Division among ourselves, and the
precipice on which we stand with our paper money,
are, I verily believe, the sources of their hope.
The former is bad, but the latter is most seriously
dangerous! Already the continental emissions ex-
ceed in a sevenfold proportion the sum necessary
for medium; the State emissions added, greatly in-
crease the evil. It would be well if this were all,
but the forgeries of our currency are still more
mischievous. They depreciate not only by increas-
ing the quantity, but by creating universal diffidence
concerning the whole paper fabric. In my opinion,
these miscreants who forge our money are as much
more criminal than most other offenders, as parri-
cide exceeds murder. The mildness of our law will
not deter from this tempting vice. Certain Death
on conviction seems the least punishment that can
be supposed to answer the purpose. I believe most
nations have agreed in considering and punishing
the contamination of money as the highest crimes
against society are considered and punished. Can-
not the Assembly be prevailed upon to amend the
law on this point, and by means of light horse to
secure the arrest and punishment of these offenders,
without giving them the opportunity to escape that
now they flatter themselves with. I hope, sir, you
will pardon my saying so much on this subject, but
my anxiety arises from the clear conviction I have,
that the loss of our liberty seems at present more


likely to be derived from the state of our currency
than from all other causes. Congress is fully sensi-
ble of this, and I do suppose, that in order to detect
forgeries and reduce the quantity, it will be re-
quested of all the States to call into the Loan Offices
the Continental emissions previous to April last, by
compulsory laws.
This is a bold stroke in finance, but necessity,
and experience in the Eastern States, sanctify the
measure. The next cause that threatens our infant
republics, is division among ourselves. Three States
yet refuse to confederate; Maryland, Delaware,
and Jersey. Indeed New York can scarcely be said
to have confederated, since that State has signed
with this condition, to be bound in case all the
States confederate. Maryland I fear will never
come in whilst our claim remains so unlimited to
the westward. They affect to fear our power, and
they are certainly envious of the wealth they sup-
pose may flow from this source.
It is not improbable that the secret machina-
tions of our enemies are at the bottom of this.
Some of the most heated opponents of our claim
say, that if we would fix a reasonable limit, and
agree that a new State should be established to the
westward of those limits, they would be content to
confederate. What do you think, sir, of our pro-
posing the Ohio as a boundary to the westward,
and agreeing that the country beyond should be
settled for common good, and make a new State, on
condition that reasonable compensation should be
made us for Dunmore's, Colo. Christian's, and our
late expeditions. This might perhaps be agreed to
and be taken well as coming freely from us. When
we consider the difficulty of republican laws and
government piercing so far from the seat of Govern-
ment, and the benefit in point of economy from
having a frontier State to guard us from Indian


wars and the expense they create, I cannot help
thinking that upon the whole this would be our
wisest course. We should then probably unmask
those who found their objection to confederacy
upon the extensiveness of our claim, and by having
that bond of union fixt, foreclose forever the hopes
of our enemies. I have a prospect of paying my
respects to you and the Assembly between this and
Christmas, if the distracted state of my plantation
affairs can soon be put in reasonable order. I am
with sincere affection and esteem, dear Sir, your
most obedient humble servant,
To His Excellency PATRICK HENRY.

Two days before this letter was written, Gover-
nor Henry had sent a communication to the Vir-
ginia Assembly representing in the strongest terms
the danger to the commonwealth from counterfeit-
ing the currency, and urging that effectual legisla-
tion be had to check the evil. This message caused
the enactment of a law, making it a felony punish-
able with death without benefit of clergy to coun-
terfeit the currency, or to pass knowingly counterfeit
money, or to have in possession instruments or ma-
terials for the purpose of counterfeiting.1
In order to sustain the commonwealth amid the
serious dangers threatened by the depreciation of
paper money, which had not been checked by the
creation of the loan offices advised by Congress,
the Assembly authorized the Governor to nego-
tiate a foreign loan of one million pounds, in money
and military stores. Efforts were made by the Ex-
ecutive to effect this through Doctor William Lee, the
'Hening, ix., 541.


agent of the State, residing in Europe, and Captain
Lemaire, a special agent employed for the purpose.
Lemaire had been sent over March 3, 1778, and had
proved himself an active and successful agent. By
February, 1779, he had procured a shipment of ar-
tillery and munitions of war, by the French Govern-
ment, amounting to 256,633, 7s. 10d., but because
of a misunderstanding about payment, these were
detained till May 26, too late to reach Virginia be-
fore the end of Governor Henry's term.1 The effort
to purchase small arms was less successful, owing to
the unfortunate temper of William Lee. The tale
is told in the following letter of Benjamin Franklin,
to whom the Governor had appealed for assistance
in the mission of Captain Lemaire.

PASSY, 26th February, 1779.
SR: I had the honor of receiving your Excellen-
cy's letter of March 3, 1778, by Captain Lemaire,
acquainting me, that the state of Virginia has de-
sired Mr. William Lee, your agent, to procure a
quantity of arms and Military stores, and request-
ing me to assist him with my influence in obtaining
them on credit.
Being glad of any opportunity of serving Vir-
ginia, and showing my regard to the request of a
person whom I so highly esteem, and Mr. William
Lee being absent, I found immediately three different
merchants here, men of fortune, who were each of
them willing to undertake furnishing the whole,
and giving the credit desired. But Mr. Arthur Lee
being understood to have taken the management of
the affair into his own hands, one of the three soon
after refused to have anything to do with it; a sec-
I See the correspondence between Arthur, Lee and the French minis-
ter touching this matter. Life of A. Lee, i., 413-25.


ond, whose letter to me I enclose, apprehending
difficulties from Mr. Lee's temper, required my
name and Mr. Adams's to the agreement, which he
supposes Mr. Lee did not like, as his offer was not
accepted. I know not why the offer of the third
was not taken. I was afterward not at all con-
sulted in the business.
Poor Lemaire was sent about Germany to find
goods and credit, which consumed a great deal of
time to little purpose. Several of the manufacturers
wrote to me, that they would furnish him on my
promise of payment. I referred them to Mr. Lee.
On his return, Mr. Lee and he differed about his
expenses. He complained frequently to me of Mr.
Lee's not supplying him with necessary subsistence,
and treating him with great haughtiness and inso-
lence. I thought him really attentive to his duty,
and not well used, but I avoided meddling with his
affairs, to avoid if possible being engaged in quar-
rels myself. Mr. Lee in fine contracted with
Messrs. Penet and Dacosta to supply great part of
the goods. They too have differed, and I have
several letters of complaints from those gentlemen;
but I cannot remedy them, for I cannot change Mr.
Lee's temper.
"They have offered to send the things you want,
which he refused, on my account; but, not knowing
whether he has not provided them elsewhere, or in
what light he may look upon my concerning my-
self with what he takes to be his business, 1 dare
not meddle, being charged by the congress to en-
deavour at maintaining a good understanding with
their other servants, which is indeed a hard task
with some of them. I hope however that you will
at length be provided with what you want, which
I think might have been long since, if the affair had
not been in hands, of which men of honor and can-
dor here are generally averse to dealing with, as


not caring to hazard quarrels and abuses in the set-
tlements of their accounts. Our public affairs at
this court continue to go on well. Peace is soon
expected in Germany, and we hope Spain is now
near declaring against our enemies. I have the
honor to be, with great respect, &c.
Governor of Virginia.

In addition to Captain Lemaire, Philip Mazzei,
who returned to Europe early in 1779, was com-
missioned to borrow for the State the money needed.
Through the efforts of these and others employed
by the State, large loans were effected, which
greatly aided Virginia in maintaining her military
establishment during the remaining years of the
On November 14, 1778, the day before the letter
of Richard Henry Lee was penned, Governor Henry
wrote to the Virginia delegates in Congress, inform-
ing them of the success of the expedition of George
Rogers Clark in capturing the western posts. One
can hardly believe that this brilliant success of the
Virginia militia was received with joy by the dele-
gates of those States which had shown a jealousy of
Virginia's claim to the western territory, before it
was strengthened by this conquest.
Maryland was the most conspicuous of these.
Her delegates had refused to sign the articles of
confederation unless the western territory was
given up to the Confederation. The delay in sign-
ing the articles was seized upon in England and
America, by the Tory party, as a sure indication of a
fatal weakness, foreboding an early dissolution of the


union. The French government manifested great
uneasiness on the subject, and the estimate of Col
onel Lee as to its effect upon the cause was most
just. His letter contains the first suggestion of a
satisfactory settlement of this important matter.
But the Legislature of Virginia was not yet ready
to adopt his proposal. The fact that her title was
disputed, and the knowledge that the attack upon it
was led by men who were interested in the exten-
sive purchases of her territory from the Indians,
whose claims she had refused to recognize, made the
Legislature unwilling to yield aught of her rights.1
But the rights of the State were maintained in
no ungenerous spirit. On December 18, 1778, the
House adopted a resolution instructing the Virginia
delegates to propose in Congress that the articles
of confederation be binding on the States which had
ratified them; and also the following:

Resolved, nem. con., That it be an instruction to
the Virginia delegates, to inform Congress of the
resolutions of this General Assembly, respecting
purchases of lands from any Indian nation.
"And whereas this Assembly hath come to be-
lieve, that sundry citizens of some of the United
States, were and are connected and concerned with
some of the king of Great Britain's late governors
in America, as well as with sundry noblemen and
others, subjects of the said King, in the purchase of
a very large tract of land from the Indians, on the
northwest side of the Ohio River, within the terri-
tory of Virginia.
".Resolved, also, that the said delegates be in-
structed to use their endeavors in Congress, to cause
SHening, x., p. 50.


an inquiry to be made concerning the said pur-
chase, and whether any, and what citizens of any of
the United States were, or are, concerned therein.
The more effectually to enable Congress to com-
ply with the promise of a bounty in lands to the
officers and soldiers of the army, on continental
"Resolved, That this commonwealth will, in con-
junction with such other of the United States, as
have unappropriated back lands, furnish out of its
territory, between the rivers Ohio and Mississippi,
in such proportion as shall hereafter be adjusted
and settled by Congress, its proper quota or propor-
tion of such lands, without any purchase money, to
the troops on continental establishment of such of
the United States as already have acceded, or shall
within such time given, or indefinite, as to Congress
shall seem best, accede to the Confederation of the
United States, and who have not within their own
respective territory, unappropriated lands for that
purpose; and that a copy of this resolve be forth-
with transmitted to the Virginia delegates, to be by
them communicated to Congress."

On April 7, 1779, the Legislature of Connecticut
united in the proposal of Virginia that the Articles
should be binding on those States ratifying, but
Congress did not act upon the suggestion, nor upon
the request of Virginia to investigate the interest of
Tories in the Western Territory.
In this condition of affairs, and to enable the
State to raise her needed revenue, the Legislature,
at the May session, 1779, passed an act establishing
a land office, and offering for sale the lands south of
the Ohio.

' House Journal, 124.


In the meanwhile there were suggestions by the
enemies of America that, as the Articles of Confed-
eration had not been adopted, there was no power
in Congress to make treaties, and the French alli-
ance was a nullity.
To put an end to this pretension, so far as Vir-
ginia was concerned, the Assembly, on June 2, 1779,
formally ratified the treaty with France, and de-
clared it binding on the State. By this treaty the
possessions of the States, and their additions and
conquests during the war, were guaranteed to them
by France.1
The experience of Governor Henry during this
term convinced him more than ever of the want of
executive ability in Congress. We have seen that
the expedition against Detroit was planned too
late to be accomplished before winter. As great
blunders were committed in the plans for the
On September 25, Congress, in expectation of
an attack upon South Carolina and Georgia, called
upon Virginia and North Carolina to furnish aid to
those States at once. Virginia was asked for one
thousand militia for this purpose. Upon receiving
the requisition Governor Henry referred the mat-
ter to the Assembly, then in session, for the requis-
ite authority, the existing law only authorizing him
to march the militia out of the State to assist a State
already attacked. This authority was given, but
before it could be exercised, the enemy's fleet
turned northward, and the order was suspended by
Congress. A requisition now came to furnish all
the armed galleys fit for service, for an attack upon
Article XI. of the Treaty of Alliance. 2 Executive Journal, 326.


East Florida. Orders were given accordingly, but
as the vessels were to rendezvous at Charleston,
the Governor and council were perplexed at receiv-
ing by the next post a requisition for one thousand
militia to aid in the defence of South Carolina and
Georgia. That they might have some explanation
of these seemingly inconsistent orders, Governor
Henry wrote the following letter.

WMSBURG Nov' 28, 1778.
Sir: Your favor of the 16th instant is come to
hand together with the acts of Congress of the 26th
of August for establishing provision for soldiers and
sailors maimed or disabled in the public service--of
the 26th of September for organizing the Treasury,
a proclamation for a general Thanksgiving, & three
copies of the Alliance between his most Christian
Majesty & these United States.
"I lost no time in laying your letter before the
Privy Council, & in deliberating with them on the
subject of sending 1,000 Militia to Charles Town
S. Carolina. I beg leave to assure Congress of
the great zeal of every member of the Execu-
tive here, to give full efficacy to their designs
on every occasion. But on the present, I am
very sorry to observe, that obstacles great, & I
fear unsurmountable, are opposed to the imme-
diate march of the men. Upon Requisition to the
Deputy Quarter Master General in this Depart-
ment, for Tents, Kettles, Blankets & Waggons,
he informs me they cannot be had. The sea-
son when the march must begin, will be severe
& inclement, & without the aforementioned neces-
saries impracticable to men indifferently clad and
equipped, as they are in the present general scar-
city of clothes.
"The Council as well as myself are not a little


perplexed, on comparing this Requisition, to defend
South Carolina & Georgia from the assaults of the
enemy with that made a few Days past for Gallies
to conquer East Florida. The Gallies have orders
to rendezvous at Charles Town, which I was taught
to consider as a place of acknowledged safety; and
I beg leave to observe that there seems some De-
gree of Inconsistency in marching militia such a
distance in the depth of winter under the want of
necessaries to defend a place which the former
measures seem to declare safe.
"The Act of Assembly whereby it is made law-
ful to order their march confines the operations
to measures merely Defensive to a Sister State,
& of whose Danger there is certain information re-
"However, as Congress have not been pleased to
explain the matters herein alluded to, & altho. a
good deal of perplexity remains with me on the
subject, I have by advice of the Privy Council
given orders for 1,000 men to be instantly got into
readiness to march to Charles Town, and they will
march as soon as they are furnished with Tents,
Kettles, and Waggons. In the meantime if intelli-
gence is received, that their march is essential to
the preservation of either of the States of S. Car-
olina or Georgia, the men will encounter every dif-
ficulty, & have orders to proceed in the best way
they can, without waiting to be supplied with those
necessaries commonly afforded to Troops even on a
Summer's March.
I have to beg that Congress will please to re-
member the State of Embarrassment in which I
must necessarily remain with Respect to the order-
ing Gallies to Charles Town in their way to invade
Florida, while the militia are getting ready to de-
fend the States bordering on it, & that they will
please to favour me with the earliest Intelligence of


every Circumstance that is to influence the measures
either offensive or Defensive.
"I have the honor to be,
"Yr. mo. obedt. & very Hble servant,
President of Congress.
"P.S. The Despatches to Gov' Caswell are sent
by a safe hand."

The proposed withdrawal of his armed ships, so
necessary for the protection of the commerce of his
State, caused Governor Henry to apply to Congress,
on December 4, 1778, for naval assistance. In his
letter he showed that the protection of Chesapeake
Bay was of great importance to Pennsylvania, Mary.
land, Virginia, and North Carolina, and, without
stating that to be his object, demonstrated the folly
of depriving that important bay of its fleet for the
proposed attack upon Florida, and thus defeated the
project. When the long-expected blow fell upon
Savannah, on December 29, 1778, it found only fif-
teen hundred men, regulars and militia, ready for
its defence, owing to the inefficiency of Congress.
The British, after its capture, were soon able to
open communication with the Cherokees and other
tribes, and to supply them with munitions of war.
The savages only waited now to hear of the march
of Hamilton from Detroit southward, to join him in
his proposed attack upon Kentucky and the western
border of Virginia. Before they moved, however, a
memorable expedition was organized and success-
fully executed, which completely thwarted their
plans. This expedition was announced to General


Washington by Governor Henry, in a letter of
March 13, 1779, in the following words: About
five hundred militia are ordered down the Tennes-
see River to chastise some new settlements of rene-
gade Cherokees that infest our southwestern fron-
tier and prevent our navigation on that river, from
which we began to hope for great advantages."
The renegade Cherokees referred to were the in-
habitants of the Chickamauga towns, which had
been recently extended from the mouth of Chicka-
mauga Creek fifty miles down the Tennessee. The
inhabitants of these towns had refused to join in the
treaty with Colonel Christian, and had received in
their midst the murderers, thieves, and banditti of
adjacent Indian tribes, -as well as the Tory desper-
adoes who had fled from the States.' They per-
petrated the greatest outrages upon the frontier;
and with over a thousand fighting men, and Drag-
ging Canoe as their chief, they believed them-
selves secure from punishment. Governor Henry
commissioned the brave Colonel Evan Shelby to
chastise, and, if possible, to break up these outlaws.
He was to command five hundred Virginians, and
as many North Carolinians. The Virginians were
taken from the southwestern counties, and they ex-
hibited great ardor for the service.2 Many of the
men furnished by North Carolina were recruited
from Virginia; 8 the others were mostly from the
Watauga settlement. It is said that the necessary
supplies and transportation were furnished by the
exertions, and on the personal responsibility, of
I Ramsey's History of Tennessee, 186.
SLetter of Arthur Campbell to Governor Henry, March 15, 1779, vol.
iii., 231. Idem.


Isaac Shelby, who had been in the quartermaster
service of Virginia. The great depreciation of the
currency had so straitened the resources of the two
States, that this personal responsibility had to be
assumed to give success to the expedition.
The little army assembled at the mouth of Big
Creek, near the present town of Rogersville, in Ten-
nessee, and besides some six hundred militia it em-
braced 150 men under Colonel Montgomery,1 who
had been enlisted to reinforce Clark, but were now
temporarily diverted. It was determined to trans-
port the army to the Indian villages by water, in-
stead of by overland march, and the trees of the
forest were soon shaped into canoes and boats. On
April 10, 1779, all was ready, and embarking, they
descended the river, which was swollen by a freshet.
For three hundred miles, through a wilderness, they
floated, so swiftly and silently that the savages had
no warning of their approach. On April 13 they
reached the mouth of Chickamauga Creek, near
the lair of Dragging Canoe. Here they captured
an Indian, whom they forced to guide them to
the quarters of the chief. Completely surprised,
the Indians fled from their settlements, with the
loss of forty warriors. Shelby now burnt their
towns and destroyed their provisions. He cap-
tured stores and goods valued at 20,000, which
had been collected by the British agents for dis-
tribution at the grand council, to be had with
Hamilton and the Northern Indians at the mouth
of the Tennessee.2
This expedition left the Chickamaugas impotent

SRear Guard of The Revolution, 169.
2 Ramsey's History of Tennessee, 187.


for war, and checked the disposition of the Chero-
kees to unite in the attack upon the frontier; while
the union of the Northern and Southern Indians had
been effectually prevented by the capture of Ham-
ilton the preceding month.
Thus it was the good fortune of Governor Henry,
by the two expeditions he sent out, the one under
Clark and the other under Shelby, to defeat the
murderous design of the Royal Government to com-
bine the Indian tribes in savage war upon the West,
while the British regulars were engaging the Amer-
ican forces in the East. The wisdom displayed in
selecting the commanders of these expeditions in-
sured their success, and was in strong contrast with
the want of judgment shown by Congress in the
selection of commanders for the western frontier
and the South.
A striking instance of Governor Henry's foresight
and wisdom is found in his letter to General Wash-
ington, of March 13, 1779, in a passage relating to
the lower Mississippi. It is as follows:

Forts Natchez and Morishac are again in the
enemy's hands; and from thence they infest and
ruin our trade on the Mississippi, on which river the
Spaniards wish to open a very interesting commerce
with us. I have requested Congress to authorize
the conquest of these two posts, as the possession
of them will give a colorable pretence to retain all
West Florida when a treaty may be opened, and in
the meantime, ruin our trade in that quarter,
which would otherwise be so beneficial. I can get
no answer to this application, although it is interest-
ing to our back settlements, and not more than four
hundred men required for the service."

: '*' *. *..
. . ..

"".. ...


Had the suggestion of Governor Henry been
followed, the United States would have been in
possession of the posts commanding the lower
Mississippi above New Orleans when Spain de-
clared war with Great Britain. After that declara-
tion Spain seized upon these posts herself, and in
consequence retained possession of the Floridas at
the peace.
While Virginia was conducting her brilliant
campaigns against the western foe, the British
commander was arranging an expedition against
her sea-coast, which proved to be most damaging in
its results. The great extent of her water front
rendered it impossible to afford complete protection
from the attacks of an enemy in command of the
sea. All that could be done under the circum-
stances surrounding the State, was to fortify some
of the most important points, and with this view a
regiment of artillery had been enlisted and properly
posted. The most important fortification was Fort
Nelson, erected on the western side of Elizabeth
River, half a mile below Portsmouth, which was in-
tended as a protection to Norfolk, Portsmouth, and
the Navy Yard of the State at Gosport. Major
Thomas Matthews was in command of this post,
which was manned by about 150 men, of whom less
than 100 were regulars, and, was furnished with
sufficient cannon to defend it against any attack
from the water which was likely to be made. On
the evening of May 8, 1779, a fleet of about 35 sail,
under Admiral Sir George Collier, three days from
New York, entered the Chesapeake Bay, having on
board General Matthews and 1,800 men, besides

8. ..' .... -.
".... .... .


The expedition had not been expected, and found
Virginia unprepared to resist it at once. On the
10th, after a warm cannonade, a landing was
effected below the fort which made it necessary
to withdraw the garrison, as the fort was in no
condition to resist an attack from land and sea.
Major Matthews retreated with his handful of
men to the Dismal Swamp near by, after de-
stroying a fine ship ready for launching, and two
French merchantmen, one loaded with goods and
the other with tobacco. The British were now
left free to ravage the country, and they de-
stroyed an immense amount of property. After
occupying Portsmouth, Gosport, and Norfolk, and
destroying a large quantity of naval and other
stores, they proceeded to Suffolk, near by, where
there were large collections of provisions, merchan-
dise, and other stores for the Continental Army.
These, with the town, were burnt on the 15th,
and the invaders then retired before the Virginia
forces which now began to appear in their neigh-
borhood. Before leaving the Capes, the Otter, man-
of-war, with several armed vessels, were sent up
the Bay. These destroyed a large quantity of to-
bacco and other property along the shore, and re-
tired before troops could be gathered to oppose
The whole fleet, with General Matthews and his
men on board, sailed for New York on May 26,
having been in Virginia sixteen days. In that
time they had inflicted damage which they esti-
mated at one million pounds, and had nearly
destroyed the Virginia Navy. They claimed to
have taken or destroyed one hundred and thirty-


seven sail of vessels.1 The behavior of the British
in Virginia was but little better than that of the
savage foe on the western frontier.
On May 13, Colonel Lawson wrote from Smith-
field, in Isle of Wight County, to Governor Henry:
" I presume your Excellency by this time is pretty
well informed of the strength and movements
of the enemy. From accounts which I have re-
ceived, the cruel and horrid depredations and
rapine committed on the unfortunate and defence-
less inhabitants who have fallen within their reach,
exceed almost anything yet heard of within their
circle of tragic display of savage barbarity.
Household furniture, stock of all kind, houses, and
in short almost every species of perishable property
are effectually destroyed, with unrelenting fury,
by those devils incarnate; murder, rapine, rape,
violence, fill up the dark catalogue of their de-
testable transactions. They surprised and took
a small body of Frenchmen at the Great Bridge,
whom they murdered immediately on the spot,
to the amount of seven. The feelings of hu-
manity are deeply wounded with reflection on
the various pointed cruelties exercised toward
our suffering countrymen, and call aloud for the
most vigorous and spirited exertions. The militia
at this place, on being informed that arms were
coming down for them, are much spirited up, and
profess the greatest desire of revenge and retalia-
In another letter, he wrote: On my way down
(from Smithfield toward Suffolk), I met numbers
I See British account of this expedition in Virginia Historical Magazine,
iv., 181 ; and Virginia account, Girardin, 332, etc.


of the unfortunate and distressed inhabitants, flying
from the rapid approach of the enemy, with such
circumstances of distress as language cannot paint.
I feel no pleasure in enumerating and dwelling
upon the distresses of our unhappy country-men
and fellow-creatures-but on the present occasion
they exceed anything in imagination. The enemy
are now in possession of Suffolk, a part of which is
actually in flames, and the whole will probably be
so in a small time."
No sooner did the enemy appear in the Bay
than the Governor took active steps to defend the
State. The regular State troops were put in requi-
sition, and a call was made for the militia from
the counties nearest the points exposed to attack.
By May 19, between two and three thousand
militia had responded, and were under arms. In
response to the resolution of Congress of February
2, about two thousand men raised for the Conti-
nental service were being prepared to march to the
relief of South Carolina. The Legislature of the
State, which had met on May 3, passed a resolution
on the 10th, requesting General Scott, who was in
command of these Continental recruits, to march
them to Williamsburg to aid in the defence of the
State. On the 17th, a resolution was passed request-
ing General Scott to summon to his aid the portion
of Colonel Baylor's regiment of horse which was
stationed at Winchester. By the 20th, however,
it became apparent that the militia and State regu-
lars would be sufficient to protect the State from
further injury, and the Legislature directed the
Continental recruits and the militia previously
called out to aid South Carolina, about one thou-


sand,1 to march at once to the southward. The
following letter of Governor Henry touching this
invasion is of interest.
"W-BUBaeH, May 19th, 1779.
DEAR SIR: Yesterday I received your last favor
by express and laid it before the Assembly. The
enemy are here and I suppose them the same em-
barkation you mention. Their number is about
two thousand land forces. Their ships 1, 64, the
Raisonable, the Rainbow, 44, the Otter a new sloop,
and one or two other sloops and some privateers.
The rest are transports, in number about 15, making
in all about 35 sail. They took Portsmouth with
little opposition, our force there being under 100
Regulars. Four or five vessels of value and some
force were lost, one of which fell into the enemy's
hands. From thence they proceeded to Suffolk
last Friday, where they burnt the town and all the
continental possessions there, about I believe 1200
barrels of pork. No flour was destroyed, nor did
they get anything they could carry off except the
plunder of houses, which they indiscriminately
robbed and despoiled of everything valuable, and
then set fire to many. They retreated back to
Portsmouth where they now are and as yet have
not destroyed the town. It is, however, expected
daily to share the fate of Suffolk. Our militia
could not be embodied in time to attack the rav-
agers on their march, but we have now 2000 or
3000 in arms, and I trust we shall be pretty secure
in these parts against their future operations. But
the extent of our shores hinders the possibility of
defending all places. Seven Frenchmen, it is said
and believed, have been murdered in cold blood.
Others add that they were even strangled by the
1 See Letter of Patrick Henry to George Washington, March 13, 1779.
Vol. iii., 229.


British. I shall take care to investigate that mat-
ter and inform Congress if I find it true. Our
Assembly have called General Scott and the new
recruits to our aid. Yesterday also Bland's cavalry
were sent for here. Will it not disgrace our
country thus to cry out for aid against this band of
robbers ? However the Assembly have done it and
I must submit.
Govr Hamilton of Detroit is a prisoner with the
judge of that country, several captains, lieutenants,
and all the British who accompanied Hamilton in
his conquest of the Wabash. Our brave Col".
Clark (sent out from our militia) with 100 Vir-
ginians besieged the Governor in a strong fort with
several hundreds, and with small arms alone fairly
took the whole corps prisoners and sent them into
our interior country. This is a most gallant action
and I trust will secure our frontiers in great meas-
ure. The goods taken by Clark are said to be of
immense amount, and I hope will influence the In-
dians to espouse our interests. Detroit now tot-
ters; and if Clark had a few of McIntosh's forces
the place would be ours directly. I've lately sent
the French there all the State papers, translated
into their language, by the hands of a priest who I
believe has been very active. I cannot give you the
other particulars of Clark's success, his messenger to
me being killed and the letters torn by the Indians.
"Adieu, my dear sir. May you continue your
labors for the public good, which has been so much
forwarded by you for so long a time.
"Yrs. in haste,

The barbarities of the troops engaged in this in-
vasion caused the Assembly to pass the following
resolution on May 20, 1779.


"Resolved, That the Governor and Council be
desired to remonstrate with the commanding officer
of the British troops now in this State, against the
cruel and barbarous manner in which he is waging
war against the good people of this commonwealth,
by prosecuting it with fire and every other cruelty
unknown to civilized nations by custom or law."
It is doubtful whether this remonstrance had any
effect, and retaliation was soon recognized as the
only recourse left. Indeed the action of the com-
manding officers was in obedience to the require-
ment of the British Government, which openly
avowed, through its commissioners, that it would
destroy what it could not enjoy. The threatening
manifesto of the commissioners was the subject of a
noble protest in the House of Lords,' and was
stoutly defended by the ministry.
The evidence is overwhelming that the policy of
Great Britain was not only to destroy the property
of the Americans, but to withhold from them, as long
as possible, the rights accorded to belligerents by
civilized nations. Hence the long-delayed arrange-
ments for exchange, and the cruel treatment of
American prisoners, which was made the subject
of more than one protest. In striking contrast was
the action of Virginia in her treatment of British
prisoners and subjects residing within her bounds.
Only a few days before the destructive raid of
Collier and Matthews, Governor Henry had gener-
ously yielded to the request of General Philips, of
the Saratoga prisoners, who being in a guarded
camp near Charlottesville, desired permission to re-
turn the civilities extended the officers. by some of
I Parliamentary History, xx., 48-6.


the gentlemen in the neighborhood. The reply of
the Governor is reported in the following extract
from a letter of General Philips to Colonel The-
oderick Bland, in command of the guard.

Sm: I yesterday received a letter from Gover-
nor Henry, dated the 29th of April, from which I
take the liberty of sending you the following ex-
"' From the orders you have been pleased to give
Mr. Hoatesly, I am perfectly satisfied of your strict
attention to propriety in whatever relates to that
department, which, under a contrary conduct might
be the source of so much uneasiness and jealousy.
But my ideas do by no means go so far as to inter.
rupt that social intercourse, which strangers, in the
predicament of your corps, have a right to expect
from a people at war with your nation. In the
progress of it, I earnestly wish to evince that hu-
manity and generosity which accord with the pro-
fessions hitherto made to you. To say that the
civilities you have received must not be acknowl-
edged by something expressive of a sense of them,
might be considered as forbidding the exercise of
that hospitality which our country gentlemen in
general show to strangers. You will therefore, sir,
consider yourself at liberty to express your sense of
any civilities shown you by those gentlemen of Vir-
ginia, whom you please to consider as on a social
footing with you, in such manner as is most agree-
able to yourself.'"

These prisoners being in the neighborhood of Mr.
Jefferson, excited his interest, and a letter from him
to the Governor, of March 27, 1779, asking that they
be permitted to remain where they were, because of


the inconvenience and injury a removal would in-
flict upon them, met with a ready response. No
more striking contrast to the brutal conduct of the
British Government could be desired than is found
in the generous conduct of these eminent Virginians.
Among the correspondence of this date, only one
letter has been preserved which reflects upon the
Virginia authorities for the disasters of this attack
from the sea. It is from the pen of St. George
Tucker, and is dated June 6, 1779. The writer, in
referring to Jefferson, then just elected Governor,

I wish his excellency's activity may be equal to
the abilities he possesses in so eminent a degree.
In that case we may boast of having the greatest
man on the continent at the helm. But if he should
tread in the steps of his predecessor, there is not
much to be expected from the brightest talents.
Did the enemy know how very defenceless we are
at present, a very small addition to their late force
would be sufficient to commit the greatest ravages
throughout the country. It is a melancholy fact
that there were not arms enough to put in the hands
of the few militia who were called down on the late
occasion; of those which were to be had, a great
number were not fit for use. Nor was there by any
means a sufficiency of ammunition or camp utensils
of any kind. In short, never was a country in a
more shabby situation; for our fortifications and
marine, on which more than a million have been
thrown away, are in no capacity to render any ser-
vice to us; nor have we any standing force to give
the smallest check to an approaching enemy. In
two days after the departure of the fleet, they might
Letter to Colonel Theoderiok Bland, Jr. Bland Papers, vol. ii., 21.


have returned and found nobody to oppose them.
Such wisdom, energy, and foresight do our leaders
display on every occasion."

This criticism is not alone of Governor Henry,
but of the Legislature as well. It implies neglect
of duty in not having sufficient arms, ammunition,
and camp equipage for the forces called out, and in
not having a standing army sufficient to check such
an invasion.
The Executive journal shows continual effort on
the part of the Governor to provide arms and am-
munition of war for the State, not only from the
manufactories established by law in the State, but
from Europe. Large quantities were provided, but
these, not sufficient even for the State, were con-
stantly asked for by Congress, and generally given
by the Legislature for the general cause. As late
as April 13, 1779, Congress had requested of Vir-
ginia and obtained one thousand stand of arms,'
" for the purpose of arming the forces destined for
the defence of South Carolina and Georgia."
As to keeping a standing army sufficient to meet
any attack which might be made from the sea, or
to keep the invaders in check long enough to enable
the militia to be called out, the State was never in
a situation to do this. The utmost energy of those
in authority was taxed to raise soldiers for the Con-
tinental service, and for the State force kept in the
field. To have kept a larger standing army on
State account was not deemed practicable, and the
Legislature had not attempted it; indeed that body
had not approved of Governor Henry's keeping a
Congressional Journal.


force for the defence of Williamsburg as he pro-
posed in 1776. Besides, much of the stores in the
State belonged to Congress, and if they were to be
protected by a standing army, it should have been
a Continental force. The Legislature, who knew
best what the Governor did, and his resources, to
whom in fact, he communicated the steps he had
taken on the appearance of the invaders, did not
give the least indication of censure of his conduct,
but on the contrary, showed their appreciation of
him by a formal vote of approbation, and by elect-
ing him to Congress when no longer eligible as Gov-
ernor. A very different fate awaited his successor,
from whom Mr. Tucker expected so much.
But in truth the coast of Virginia is indefensible
from an attack by a superior naval force. This was
demonstrated during the succeeding administration
of Mr. Jefferson, who had warning of the Arnold
invasion, and in the wars that have occurred since
the Revolution. Had the French fleet not aban-
doned our coast, the expedition of Matthews and
Collier would not have been undertaken, or, if under-
taken, would have been arrested at sea. The British
fleet was confessedly in a bad condition, scarcely
three ships among them were in a condition of ser-
vice, being very foul for want of cleaning, and all
very ill manned."1
But St. George Tucker was at that time in no
situation to render a fair verdict upon Governor
Henry's administration, as he was laboring under
what he considered a personal grievance at his
hands. This he admitted in a letter to William
Wirt, February 10, 1805.' The dislike of Governor
I Virginia Historical Register, vol iv., 183. 'MS.


Henry, which he then confessed, was produced by
his reception of him in 1777, after his services as
agent for the State in Charleston in purchasing
indigo and shipping it to be exchanged for arms.
He says on his return he was forced to wait upon
the Council to get a warrant for 500, which he
had advanced for the State. This is his account of
what happened. I believe I attended twice, be-
fore I had the honor of admittance to the council
board, when Governor Henry received me like a
great man; I was not asked to sit down, I was not
thanked for my zeal and expedition, or for advanc-
ing my money. Mr. Henry ahade some remarks
upon the high price I had given for the Indigo-
said it was more than the State had bought it for
before (which was very true, for depreciation had
then begun), and that I appeared to have been too
much in a hurry to make the purchase. I felt
indignation flash from my eyes, and I feel it at my
heart at this moment. I am therefore an unfit per-
son to draw an exact portrait of Mr. Henry, or to
give a fair estimate of -his character."
It is evident that the young man's pride was un-
consciously touched by Governor Henry, who look-
ing only to the interest of the State, was disposed
to criticise where he was expected to compliment.
It is due to both parties to add another extract from
this letter of Judge Tucker. Speaking of being
thrown for the first time socially with Mr. Henry,
in 1792, he says: "His manners were the perfection
of urbanity; his conversation various, entertaining,
instructive, and fascinating. I parted from him
with infinite regret, and forgot for the whole time
I was with him, that I had so many years borne in


mind an expression which might not have been
intended to wound me, as it did."
The Executive Journal contains indisputable evi-
dence of the great executive ability of Governor
Henry, and justifies the legislature of his State in
re-electing him time and again without opposition
to the Executive chair, and General Washington for
complimenting him on his zeal and vigor." As
the end of the year for which he was last elected
approached, a discussion arose as to his eligibility
for another term. It was urged by some who de-
sired a continuance of his services, that his first
election, not having been by delegates who were
themselves elected under the constitution, should
not be counted in estimating the three terms to
which the Constitution limited the Executive ser-
vice. But Mr. Henry cut these discussions short by
sending to the speaker of the House of Delegates
the following letter:
SMay 28th, 1779.
"SIR: The term for which I had the honor to be
elected governor by the late assembly being just
about to expire, and the constitution, as I think,
making me ineligible to that office, I take the liberty
to communicate to the assembly through you, sir,
my intention to retire in four or five days.
"I have thought it necessary to give this notifi-
cation of my design, in order that the assembly may
have the earliest opportunity of deliberating upon
the choice of a successor to me in office.
With great regard,
"I have the honor to be, sir,
"Your most obedient servant,


The Assembly proceeded on June 1, to appoint
his successor, when Mr. Jefferson was elected by a
close vote. On the first ballot the vote stood 55 for
Mr. Jefferson, 38 for John Page, and 32 for Gen-
eral Nelson. On the second ballot it stood 67 for
Mr. Jefferson and 61 for Mr. Page.1
On the same day the Senate journal shows the
following action:

Resolved, nem. con. : That the thanks of this
House be given to Patrick Henry, esq., late Gov-
ernor of this com'th, for his faithful discharge of
that important trust, and his uniform endeavors to
promote the true interests of this State, and of all
Resolved, nem. con.: That this just tribute of
applause be presented to Mr. Henry, through a
joint committee of this House; and that Messrs.
John Jones, Lee, Adams, Harrison, Matthews, and
Ellzey be the said committee."

On the next day Mr. John Jones, from the com-
mittee, reported the following answer of Mr. Henry :

GENTLEMEN: The unanimous approbation which
the Senate have been pleased to give my public
conduct in the vote which you are pleased to com-
municate, confers the highest obligation on me. I
entreat you to convey to that honorable House, my
cordial acknowledgments, and to assure them that
the signal honor they have done me shall ever be
held in grateful remembrance."

On the same day, June 2, similar action was
taken by the House of Delegates, and Messrs. Mun-
i House Journal, p. 29.


ford, Page, Tazewell and (James) Henry were ap-
pointed to present the resolutions.1 The journal
contains the following notice of his answer:

"Mr. Munford, from the committee appointed to
wait on Patrick Henry, Esq., and to present him
with the resolutions of this House respecting his
conduct while Governor of this commonwealth, re-
ported that the Committee had, according to order,
attended Mr. Henry with the same, and that he was
pleased to return the following answer thereto:
' GENTLEMEN, The House of Delegates have done me
very great honor in the vote expressive of their ap-
probation of my public conduct.
"' I beg the favor of you, gentlemen, to convey to
that honorable House my most cordial acknowledg-
ments, and to assure them that I shall ever retain a
grateful remembrance of the high honor they have
conferred on me.'"

That these resolutions of the two Houses were
not mere empty compliments, is shown by their
electing Mr. Henry, one of the delegates to Con-
gress for the term beginning November 1, 1779.
Acting upon the recommendation of Governor
Henry, the Assembly constituted a Board of Audi-
tors, at the October session, 1778, and a Board of
War at the May session, 1779, but the relief which
they gave the Executive came too late to be enjoyed
by him.
Among the Acts of Assembly during his third
term the most notable were For preventing the
further importation of slaves," and "For establish-
The Journal of the House has a blank where the resolutions of appro-
bation should have been recorded. The failure of the clerk to insert
them has caused their loss.


ing a Court of Appeals," both passed at the Octo-
ber session, 1778.1
The Governor's salary, first fixed at 1,000, was
raised in October, 1777, to 1,500, and in October,
1778, to 3,000; but this advance in nominal
amount was not in the ratio of the depreciation of
the currency, and the salary was not sufficient to
pay the necessary expenses incident to the office.
SHening, ix., 470.



Patrick Henry Removes to Henry County.-His Sickness.-Declines
a Seat in Congress.-Season of Despondency among American
Patriots.-Reverses in the South.-Effects of Depreciated Cur-
rency.-Alarm of Washington.-Mutiny in his Army.-Letter
of Patrick Henry to Thomas Jefferson.-He Returns to the
House of Delegates.-Imparts Activity to its War Measures.-
Resists the Design of Congress to Replace the Old Paper Money
by New Issues.-Advocates Taxation to Support the Currency.
-Return of Lafayette with Promise of Aid from France.-Ef-
ficient Measures of Congress upon the Advice of Washington.-
Last Attempt of the British to Conquer the West.-Measures of
the Virginia Legislature.-Commercial Regulations Proposed
by Catharine of Russia.-Proceedings in Parliament.-The War
in the South.-Conquest of South Carolina.-Battle of King's
Mountain.-General Nathaniel Greene in Command of South-
ern Army.-Virginia Invaded.-Meeting of Assembly.-Im-
portant Services of Patrick Henry as a Member.

WrITHIN a few days after the close of his term, Mr.
Henry left Richmond with his family for Henry
County, where he took up his residence upon his
Leatherwood estate. He found the land largely in
the occupation of squatters, who were only removed
after much trouble. He carried with him, and set-
tled on a part of his estate, his son-in-law, Mr. Fon-
taine, who, with his family, became permanent resi-
dents of the county. Mr. Henry's residence was
about seven miles from the Court House, on the
road leading to Danville. It is described as "situ-
ate on the waters of the famous Leatherwood


Creek, surrounded on several sides by beautiful
hill views, with the creek twisting itself through
them, and high mountains at a distance." His ob-
ject in making his home so far in the interior, and
among a people so lacking in the culture of the
capital, seems to have been twofold: to place his
family in a country which would be free from Brit-
ish raids, and to get into a climate free from malar-
ial fevers. He had a severe attack of sickness soon
after reaching his new home, however, which was
doubtless the further development of the disease
with which he had been suffering in Williamsburg.
On June 17, 1779, the Assembly elected him one
of the delegates to Congress for the term commen-
cing November following. To the communication
informing him of his election, he returned the fol-
lowing answer:
"HENRY COUNTY, Oct. 18th 1779.
SIR: The vote of assembly appointing me a
member of congress never reached my hands until
several months after it passed. However a tedious
illness has prevented me from all attentions to busi-
ness, until lately; and now I am circumstanced so
as to make my attendance on congress impossible.
I beg you will please to inform the general assem-
bly of this, in order that another member may be
chosen in my stead.
I have the honor to be with every great regard
"Your most obedient servant,
"P.S. I have written another letter to you to the
above purpose, but as that may miscarry, I trouble
you with this."
Speaker of the House of Delegates.


The following entry in the family Bible explains
the circumstances alluded to in this letter:
Sarah Butler Henry, born January 4, 1780."
The year 1779 and the winter of 1779-80 were
seasons of peculiar despondency and danger to the
American cause. The accession of Spain to the
open enemies of Great Britain, and her attack upon
Gibraltar, aroused deep feeling in England, and the
King showed himself more determined than ever to
prosecute the American war, in regard to which
Lord North had begun to hesitate. ClintoA re-
mained intrenched in New York, sending out oc-
casional expeditions against unprotected points,
which proved harassing and destructive; Washing-
ton continued near the city on watch, but was not
strong enough to attack. The British were re-
minded however of the metal of their foe, by the
brilliant attack of General Wayne upon Stony
Point, on the Hudson, July 16, and of Major Hen-
ry Lee upon Paulus Hook, August 19. The real
seat of war had been now transferred to the South.
There General Lincoln, re-enforced by the Virginia
regiments of horse under Colonels Bland and Bay-
lor, detached from Washington's army; by the new
Virginia recruits for the Continental line; and by a
body of militia from Virginia and North Caro-
lina, concerted with the French admiral, then sta-
tioned in the West Indies, a combined attack upon
Savannah. An attempt to carry the place by storm
on October 9, failed, and resulted in the abandon-
ment of the siege, the French returning to the
West Indies, and General Lincoln to South Carolina.
Sir Henry Clinton in the meanwhile, having


received fresh troops from England, headed an ex-
pedition against Charleston, which sailed from
New York December 26, 1779. General Lincoln
risked his army, largely composed of Virginians, in
its defence, and was forced to capitulate on May 12,
1780, surrendering about 2,000 men of the Conti-
nental line, and 500 militia, besides 1,000 seamen,
400 pieces of ordnance, and a large supply of
military and naval stores. The Americans lost in
addition all the shipping in the harbor. This was
a heavy blow, and not only deepened the gloom
already pervading America, but greatly weakened
confidence in her cause in Europe.
But the greatest source of danger was the con-
tinued and rapid depreciation of the currency, and
the consequent corruption of morals among the
people. This was heightened by the inefficiency of
Congress, in which few of the leaders in the Revolu-
tion remained. Washington saw the danger, and
his great soul seemed almost despondent while he
attempted to arouse his countrymen.
On March 27, 1779, he wrote to George Mason:

"I view things very differently, I fear, from
what people in general do, who seem to think that
the contest is at an end, and to make money, and
to get places, the only thing now remaining to do.
I have seen without despondency (even for a
moment) the hours which America has styled her
gloomy ones, but I have beheld no day since the
commencement of hostilities, that I have thought
her liberties in such imminent danger as at present.
Friends and foes seem now to combine to pull down
the goodly fabric we have hitherto been raising at
the expense of so much time, blood, and treasure-


and unless the bodies politic will exert themselves
to bring things back to first principles, correct
abuses, and punish our internal foes, inevitable ruin
must follow. Indeed we seem to be verging so
fast to destruction, that I am filled with sensations
to which I have been a stranger till within these
three months. Our enemy behold with exultation
and joy, how effectually we labor for their benefit,
and from being in a state of absolute despair, and
on the point of evacuating America, are now on
tiptoe. Nothing, therefore in my judgment, can
save us, but a total reformation in our conduct, or
some decisive turn to affairs in Europe. The
former, alas! to our shame be it spoken, is less
likely to happen than the latter, as it is now con-
sistent with the views of the speculators-various
tribes of money makers and stock jobbers of all
denominations, to continue the war for their own
private emolument, without considering that their
avarice and thirst for gain must plunge everything
(including themselves) m our common ruin. . .
I cannot refrain lamenting in the most poignant
terms, the fatal policy too prevalent in most of the
states, of employing their ablest men at home in
posts of honor or profit, till the great national
interests are fixed upon a solid basis. . I
allude to no particular state, nor do I mean to cast
reflections upon any one of them-nor ought I, it
may be said, to do so upon their representatives;
but as it is a fact too notorious to be concealed,
that Congress is rent by party, that much business
of a trifling nature and personal concernment with-
draws their attention from matters of great national
moment at this critical period-when it is also
known that idleness and dissipation take the place
of close attention and application, no man who
wishes well to the liberties of his country and
desires to see its rights established, can avoid cry-


ing out, where are our men of abilities ? why do
they not come forth to save their country? Let
this voice, my dear sir, call upon you, Jefferson,
and others. Do not, from a mistaken opinion
that we are about to sit down under our own vine,
and own fig-tree, let our hitherto noble struggle end
in ignominy. Believe me when I tell you there is
danger of it. I have pretty good reasons for think-
ing that administration a little while ago, had
resolved to give the matter up and negotiate a
peace with us upon almost any terms; but I shall
be much mistaken if they do not now, from the
present state of our currency, dissensions, and other
circumstances, push matters to the utmost extremity.
Nothing, I am sure, will prevent it, but the inter-
position of Spain, and their disappointed hopes
from Russia."1
Spain did interpose, and Russia refused aid to
Great Britain, and thus the cause of America was
strengthened; but the evils flowing from a wretched
currency and a weak Congress continued to jeo-
pardize the issue. Washington's strong shoul-
ders, however, continued to bear the burden of
the Revolution, while he urged Congress and his
countrymen to do their duty. His army, badly
clothed and badly fed, passed through an exception-
ally cold winter at Morristown, where their suffer-
ings resulted in the mutiny of two Connecticut
regiments in May, 1780, which only the personal in-
fluence of Washington could quell.
It was during the despondency which pervaded
the country in the winter of 1779-80, that Mr.
Henry received a communication from Governor
Jefferson, to which he replied in the following let-
ter, which indicates how deeply he was affected by
the situation of affairs. Doubtless his feeble

I Virginia Historical Register, v., 96.


health was in some measure the cause of the de-
spondent tone in which he now for the first time
writes, but when the situation of the country de-
pressed Washington, others might well be alarmed.

LEATHERWOOD, Feb. 15, 1780.
DE S SIR: I return many thanks for your favour
by Mr. Sanders. The kind notice you were pleased
to take of me was particularly obliging, as I have
scarcely heard a word of public matters since I
moved up in the retirement where I live. I have
had many anxieties for our commonwealth, princi-
pally occasioned by the depreciation of our money.
To judge by this, which somebody has called the
pulse of the State, I have feared that our body pol-
itic was dangerously sick. God forbid it may not
be unto death. But I cannot forbear thinking, the
present increase of prices is in great part owing to
a kind of habit which is now of four or five years
growth, which is fostered by a mistaken avarice,
and like other habits hard to part with-for there
is really very little money hereabouts. What you
say of the practices of our disguised stories perfectly
agrees with my own observation, and the attempts
to raise prejudices against the French, I know, were
begun when I lived below. What gave me the ut-
most pain was to see some men, indeed very many,
who were thought good whigs, keep company with
the miscreants, wretches, who, I am satisfied, were
labouring for our destruction. This countenance
shewn them is of fatal tendency. They should be
shunned and execrated, and this is the only way
to supply the place of legal conviction and punish-
ment. But this is an effort of virtue, small as it
seems, of which our countrymen are not capable.
Indeed, I will own to you, my dear sir, that observ-
ing this impunity, and even respect, which some


wicked individuals have met with, while their guilt
was clear as the sun, has sickened me, and made
me sometimes wish to be in retirement for the rest
of my life. I will, however, be down on the next
assembly, if I am chosen. My health, I am satis-
fied, will never again permit a close application to
sedentary business, and I even doubt whether I can
remain below long enough to serve in the assembly.
I will, however, make the trial. But tell me, do
you remember any instance where tyranny was de-
stroyed and freedom established on its ruins, among
a people possessing so small a share of virtue and
public spirit ? I recollect none, and this more than
the British arms makes me fearful of final success,
without a reform. But when or how this is to be
effected, I have not the means of judging. I most
sincerely wish you health and prosperity. If you
can spare time to drop me a line now and then, it
will be highly obliging to, Dear Sir, your affection-
ate friend & obt Servt,
At Richmond.

It need hardly be said that the people of Henry
County were proud to have Patrick Henry as one
of their delegates in the next assembly. The
House met May 1, but Mr. Henry's name does
not appear in the journal till the 18th, when he was
placed on the committee to bring in a bill to amend
the law relating to warehouses. On the next day
he was placed on the committee to prepare a bill
for the more general diffusion of knowledge, and
was elected by the House one of the nine constitut-
ing a committee of Ways and Means, the most im-
portant committee of the body in the then critical
condition of affairs. So important was this com-


mittee that its selection was not trusted to the
Speaker. Within a few days we find him on a com-
mittee for inquiring into and settling the accounts
of the State with the United States; on a commit-
tee for preparing a bill to repeal that part of the
sequestration act which authorized debtors of Brit-
ish subjects to pay their dues into the treasury; and
on three committees respecting the duties of high
sheriffs and grand juries. These appointments
show how he was valued as a working member, and
that neither his feeble health nor his late exalted
position, prevented him from doing his full share of
the drudgery of the body, during the short time he
was able to sit in it.
His return to the Assembly was hailed with
delight throughout the State, for of all leaders
he was the one most implicitly trusted. As a
leader of the House he had in previous years
shown himself without a rival, but now that he
reappeared with the experience and honors of the
chief magistracy superadded to his genius, he
controlled the body with absolute sway, and this
though he had as colleagues, and often as oppo-
nents, such great men as Richard Henry Lee and
George Mason.
The alarm for the country expressed in the letter
of Mr. Henry to Governor Jefferson worked no
despondency in his mind, but from the moment he
re-entered the Legislature of his State we find its
war measures indicating a renewed activity and the
broadest patriotism. The intensity of his nature
was evidently imparted to the body. Within the
twenty days he sat this session, arms were ordered
to be sent to North Carolina to furnish her troops;


the Governor was empowered to impress horses
upon which to mount the Maryland troops ordered
to South Carolina, and wagons to transport their
baggage; a large body of the militia of the State
was ordered to march to the aid of South Carolina;
a camp of five thousand men was directed to be
formed, and kept convenient, to aid the Southern
States, or to protect Virginia from invasion; the
Governor was empowered to take charge of the
foundry at Westham, on the James River; and he
was also directed to appoint commissioners, to ex-
amine into the amount of provisions in each county,
and after allowing enough for the support of the
several families for the year, to impress the sur
plus for public use; the public arms were ordered
to be repaired and made fit for use, and provi-
sion was made for the workmen needed; Con-
gress was addressed upon the subject of the war
being transferred to the South, was informed of
the exertions put forth by Virginia to defend her-
self and her sister Southern States, and was urged
to send speedily a strong Continental force South,
and to aid Virginia in furnishing arms to North
The important question of the currency came up
for discussion upon the presentation of the resolu-
tions of Congress adopted March 18, 1780. These
resolutions contained a plan for righting the cur-
rency which was dictated by despair. Already
Congress had issued over two hundred and sixty
millions of dollars of paper money,' and the several
States had issued as much more, while no adequate
provision had been made for the redemption of
I Green's Historical View, Table vi., p. 457.


either issue. In spite of every effort to keep up its
value, by laws requiring it to be taken as though it
were specie, it had steadily fallen, till it was now
worth only one-fortieth of specie, and could no
longer be relied on to purchase food for the army.
On February 25, Congress, recognizing this fact,
called on the several States to furnish the supplies
needed for the ensuing campaign in kind, and in
fixed quotas. On March. 18, following, having
pledged that not over $40,000,000 more should be
issued, they proposed to the States to continue to
bring into the Continental treasury, till April, 1781,
fifteen millions of dollars in paper money monthly,
or its equivalent in specie at forty to one. The
bills to be brought in to be destroyed, and new
bills, one.twentieth in amount, to be issued instead,
to carry five per cent. per annum interest, and to
be redeemable within six years in specie. The
new bills to be issued by the States severally, and
guaranteed by the United States, and to be taken
as specie.
The scheme involved the discrediting by the
Government itself, of obligations it had time and
again solemnly declared would be paid in full, and
a settling of old promises to pay at one-twentieth of
their face value, by new promises to pay, which had
no more substantial basis to rest upon than those
now admitted to be about worthless. From Ed-
mund Randolph we learn, that when the resolutions
of Congress were introduced into the Virginia
Legislature, George Mason and Richard Henry
Lee advocated them, as being the only expedient re-
maining for the restoration of public credit. Pat-
rick Henry poured forth all his eloquence in op-


position."1 The journal shows that the scheme pro-
posed by Mr. Henry as a substitute was:
1st. That ample and certain funds ought to be
established for sinking the quota of the Continental
debt due from this State in fifteen years.
2d. That certain funds ought to be established,
for furnishing to the Continent the quota of this
State, for the support of the war for the current
"3d. That a specific tax ought to be laid for the
use of the Continent, in full proportion to the abili-
ties of the people."2
Mr. Henry's counter-proposals certainly had the
merit of keeping faith with the public creditors, and
strengthening public credit by taxation, the only
way possible of saving paper money from utter
destruction. He carried them by a vote of fifty-
nine to twenty-five, a great triumph when we con-
sider that the defeated plan was proposed by Con-
gress, and advocated by Mason and Lee.
On the next day Mr. Henry obtained leave of
absence for the remainder of the session, and was
not again in his seat. As he had anticipated, his
health had not been sufficiently restored to undergo
the fatigue of the session. Some time after he left
the body the plan of Congress was again brought
forward, and was adopted. His prediction proved
too true. The plan failed to stop the depreciation
of the currency, which was now sixty to one, and
which continued to increase till May 31, 1781, when
it reached five hundred to one, and both the new and
old issues ceased to circulate." It was claimed that
MS. History of Virginia. 2 Journal for June 6, 1780. p. 36.
3 Green's Historical View, Table vii., p. 457.


every day added to the currency of paper money,
however great the depreciation, was so much gained
for the struggle; and this is true: but the problem
before the councils of the nation was, how best to
sustain paper money as currency, and there seems,
in the light of history, hardly a doubt that the
plan proposed by Mr. Henry would have been the
The scheme of Congress was based upon the idea,
that the depreciation was due to the issues being in
excess of the needs of the country for purposes of
currency. This was only a part of the truth. The
greatest cause of the depreciation was the belief of
the people that no adequate provisions had been
made for the redemption of the currency. The
plan of Mr. Henry was to reduce the amount in cir-
culation, and at the same time to provide certain
funds for the support of the war. Could this plan
have been carried out, the currency would have
been brought back to a sound basis.
It is remarkable that in the two great revolution-
ary struggles which have been attempted since this
period, the experience of our American law-makers
of 1780 should have been so little regarded. In the
French Revolution the assignats had the same history
of over-issue and depreciation, and a similar effort
was made to call them in at a fixed rate of deprecia-
tion, and to substitute in their stead mandates, a re-
duced issue of paper money. Both went down. In
the late civil war in the United States, the Confeder-
ate States issued treasury notes which ran the same
course, and the same remedy was attempted with
a similar result, the rapid depreciation of both is-


But, notwithstanding the increasing troubles with
the currency, the affairs of America were putting on
a more hopeful aspect. On April 27, Lafayette re-
turned from a visit to France, where he had gone in
the interest of the United States, bringing the wel-
come promise of a French fleet of six men-of-war
and six thousand regular troops, to be despatched
during the spring to the aid of America. The com-
mittee of Congress, in conjunction with the com-
mander-in-chief, devised wise plans for the ameliora-
tion of the service. The patriotism of the people
was aroused anew, and manifested itself in a more
ready compliance with the public demands. The
ladies of Philadelphia led the way in devoting their
jewels to the relief of the army, and the ladies of
Virginia followed their example.' A bank was es-
tablished in Philadelphia to facilitate the purchase
of needed army supplies. The action of the Vir-
ginia Legislature gave assurance that all of her re-
served force would be brought out; and encourag-
ing responses came from other States to the appeals
of Washington and Congress to fill up their several
quotas, so that with the French army they might
be strong enough to put an end to the war. We,
for the first time in many months, find Washington
hopeful. On June 27, 1780, he wrote to Governor
Trumbull, urging compliance with the measures
recommended by the Committee of Congress, and
added: As I always speak to your Excellency in
the confidence of friendship, I shall not scruple to
confess that the prevailing politics for a considerable
time past have filled me with inexpressible anxiety
and apprehension, and have uniformly appeared to
Jefferson's Works, i., 244.


me to threaten the subversion of our independence.
I hope a period to them is now arrived, and that a
change of measures will save us from ruin."
Soon he received intelligence of the retreat of the
forces under Captain Bird, sent out from Detroit to
conduct an Indian expedition against Kentucky.
This was a part of a deep-laid plan of the British
Cabinet for the campaign of 1780. General Camp-
bell was to move from Pensacola, enter the Missis-
sippi, and capture New Orleans and other Spanish
settlements, while Clinton and Cornwallis were at-
tacking Charleston. At Natchez, Campbell was to
be met by an Indian force descending the river,
who were expected to capture St. Louis and St.
Genevieve on their way down. The combined force
was to recapture western North Carolina, Kentucky,
and the Northwest. Letters captured by General
George Rogers Clark and Governor Galvez revealed
the plan, which they at once took steps to defeat.
Galvez, as we have seen, struck the first blow, and
took several British posts, thus preventing Camp-
bell from performing his part of the plan. The
raid upon St. Louis was defeated by the energy of
Clark, who at once hurried back to Kentucky in
the disguise of an Indian. Raising one thousand
men, he followed the retreating forces of Bird, who,
having captured two stockades at the fork of Lick-
ing River, rapidly recrossed the Ohio. It need
hardly be added that Clark severely punished the
invaders. This was the last attempt of the British
to conquer the West.2
Sparks's Writings of Washington, vil., 93.
2 See a valuable paper in the Atlantic Monthly for November, 1889, by
Dr. William F. Poole, reviewing Roosevelt's, The Winning of the West."


Before leaving the House, Mr. Henry had an op-
portunity of returning the compliment paid him in
1778 by Mr. Jefferson, by being made chairman of
the committee appointed to inform him of his re-
election to the office of governor. Mr. Jefferson,
however, had not been so fortunate in the circum-
stances of his re-election, having met with a decided
It was doubtless at this session that the following
incident occurred, which showed that in all of his
fierce patriotism Mr. Henry never failed to be just.
The Reverend Christopher McCrae, a Scotchman, a
minister of the Episcopal Church, and a most ex-
cellent man, was reticent of his political opinions,
and was therefore suspected by some of being a
Tory. He suffered persecution in consequence at
the hands of some of the citizens of Cumberland
County, where he then resided. His daughter, in
giving an account of this to Bishop Meade, wrote:

A petition was sent to the Legislature praying
that he, Mr McCrae, might be banished. Patrick
Henry instantly arose, and said that there were
many fictitious names on that paper; that he knew
Mr McCrae intimately, and that if he was banished
they would lose one of their best citizens; he hoped
nothing would be done till he could send an express
to Cumberland, who returned with a counter-peti-
tion, signed by the most respectable portion of the
community, praying that he might remain with
them, which was granted." 2
Among the important measures enacted during
the spring session after Mr. Henry left his seat, was
Journal for June 1 and 2, 1780, 80, 31.
2 Old Churches and Families of Virginia, ii., 36, note.


the ratification of the boundary line with Pennsyl-
vania agreed on as a compromise by the commis-
sioners of the two States. This was an extension of
Mason and Dixon's line due west five degrees from
the Delaware River, for the southern boundary of
Pennsylvania, and from the western extremity, a
meridian to the .northern limit of the State, as the
western boundary. This was a material change in
the charter line, which made the western boundary
a reproduction of the line of the Delaware River
on the east. The change gave Pittsburg to Penn-
sylvania, and left for Virginia a narrow strip of
land between Pennsylvania and the Ohio River,
since styled the Pan-handle.
In Europe affairs were favorable to America.
The overbearing conduct of England on the sea
toward neutrals, which had so long characterized
her, and which was so grievous to the commerce of
Europe, produced an unexpected result. On Feb-
ruary 26, 1780, Catherine II., of Russia, made pub-
lic certain principles which she declared it her pur-
pose to adopt, and which she invited all Europe t6
aid her in maintaining. They were that neutral
ships shall enjoy a free navigation from port to
port, and on the coasts of the belligerent powers;
free ships shall make free all goods except contra-
band; contraband shall be arms and ammunitions
of war, and nothing else; no port shall be deemed
blockaded unless the enemy's ships, in adequate
numbers, are near enough to make entry dangerous.1
This great advance in maritime rights was generally
approved by the States of Europe, and their agree-
ment was known as The Armed Neutrality."
Bancroft, x., 281.


The large carrying trade of the Dutch made the ad-
hesion of the Netherlands to these principles par-
ticularly objectionable to Great Britain, and it soon
resulted in open war between the two countries,
which commenced in February, 1781, by the seizure
of the island of St. Eustatius by the British. Thus
the prediction of Mr. Henry as to France, Spain,
and Holland joining the Colonies in their struggle,
made before the war commenced, was fully verified.
In Parliament the opposition to Lord North's
administration was increasing in strength. On
April 6, 1780, Mr. Dunning moved in the House of
Commons, sitting as a committee of the whole,
" That it is the opinion of this committee, that it is
necessary to declare that the influence of the crown
has increased, is increasing, and ought to be dimin-
ished." This was carried by a vote of 233 to 215.1
Mr. Dunning then moved a further resolution assert-
ing the right of Parliament to examine into and
correct abuses in the expenditure of the civil list
revenues, as well as in every other branch of the
public revenue." This was carried by a vote of
215 to 213.2 The decaying power of the ministry
was reinvigorated, however, by an unexpected
event, a tumult which threatened the subversion of
all government, and called to its aid all lovers of
order. On June 2, Lord George Gordon presented
a petition from the Protestant Association, signed
by nearly 120,000 persons, of whom it was esti-
mated near 60,000 accompanied him to the lobby
of the House, asking for the repeal of an act, passed
two years before, relaxing the penalties against Pa-
pists. The presence of so large a body was of itself
'Parliamentary History, xxi., 867. 2 Idem, 386.


a menace to Parliament, but, as was to have been
expected, they soon became riotous and insulting to
members, and were only dispersed by the interfer-
ence of troops.' This occurrence threw a damper
upon all endeavors to reform the corruptions of the
government. On July 8, the body was prorogued
to August 24. It was then further prorogued, and
on September 1 it was dissolved, the ministry
being afraid to trust it again. The proclamation
for dissolution took the country by surprise, and
the short time allowed for the new elections placed
the opposition, who were not in the secret, at a
great disadvantage. Many of them were absent
from their constituencies and were unable to return
in time to attend to their interests. By this trick
of the Ministry the elections went greatly more in
favor of the court than they would otherwise have
done. The new Parliament assembled October 31,
1780, and were met by a speech from the throne,
which, referring to the late successes in Georgia and
South Carolina, drew from them an augury of "a
happy conclusion to the war. The divisions upon
the address of thanks in reply, showed the strength
of parties to be, in the Lords, 68 for, and 23 against,
and in the Commons, 213 for, and 130 against gov-
On May 30, 1781, Mr. Hartley moved for leave
to bring in a bill to restore peace with America.
Lord North declined to debate the question, on the
ground that it had been moved in two successive
sessions, and been voted down. Mr. Fox, however,
made one of his great speeches in its support, in
which, reviewing the course of the ministry and the
SParliamentary History, xxi., 654, etc.


conduct of the war, he predicted that independence
would have to be granted, and he charged on the
ministry that they were only prolonging the strug-
gle for the selfish purpose of retaining office. The
motion was defeated by a vote of 72 for, and 106
against it.
On June 12, Mr. Fox moved for "a committee to
take into consideration the state of the American
war," basing his motion on the report of Lord Corn-
wallis of his operations in North Carolina, ending
in his retiring to Wilmington. This gave rise to a
spirited debate, in which William Pitt took part,
declaring his sympathy with his distinguished fa-
ther in his opposition to the war. The division
showed 99 for, and 172 against, the motion. These
votes indicated that a large number of the Commons
were then ready to grant independence to America.
While Mr. Henry was recruiting his shattered
health at his Leatherwood estate, in 1780, the Brit-
ish were dealing heavy blows to the Southern
States for whom Virginia was putting forth every
exertion. Governor Jefferson, with the powers
granted him under the acts of the Legislature, was
soon enabled to replace the Virginia troops taken
at Charleston, but he could only do so by fresh lev-
ies of militia. On June 11, he wrote to General
Washington, that twenty-five hundred men would
move on the 19th under General Edward Stevens,
of Culpepper; and he added: Could arms be
furnished, I think this State and North Carolina
would embody from ten to fifteen thousand militia
immediately, and more if necessary." The members
of Congress from the extreme South insisted on
General Washington taking command of that de-


apartment in person, as the enemy was evidently
bending his energies for the subjugation of the
Southern States. This proposal was resisted by
some of the northern members, and the impression
began to be current that the northern members
had determined to sacrifice the two most southern
States. Of course, such a suspicion was productive
of the greatest animosity among the members.1
With a lack of judgment too often displayed,
Congress selected General Gates to succeed the un-
fortunate Lincoln, and he assumed command in
June. Besides the fresh troops raised he had the
gallant Maryland and Delaware lines. Within two
months afterward, on August 16, the battle of
Camden was fought, in which the American army
was nearly annihilated. This battle cannot be
mentioned without a feeling of mortification at the
conduct of the Virginia and North Carolina militia,
which gave way at the first assault of the British
troops and fled from the field panic stricken. The
brave Continentals sustained the fight till they were
almost completely sacrificed, and finally yielded the
field, counting among their loss the gallant Baron
De Kalb, their leader. In view of the many in-
stances of bravery displayed during the war by
the militia of these States, we may well look for
some cause for the disgrace at Camden, other than
a lack of valor. This is found in the want of gen-
eralship displayed by Gates, who risked a pitched
battle with such a commander as Cornwallis, and
such troops as the British regulars, while his own
force consisted mostly of raw militia, who had
never heard an enemy's gun, and whose spirits were
1 Sparks's Writings of Washington, vii., 92-3.


broken by the forced marches by night, which the
season and climate had rendered necessary to get
them to his camp. That it was the mismanagement
of these raw troops which caused the disaster, was
demonstrated by the fine behavior of one of the
regiments of North Carolina militia, that under
Colonel Dixon, a splendid officer, who had been
trained in Washington's army, this regiment gal-
lantly held its ground when the others fled, and
joining the veteran Marylanders, vied with them in
deeds of courage.
Cornwallis now felt that the conquest of South
Carolina was effected, as no resistance was left save
the diminished bands of partisans under Marion,
Sumter, and Pickens. After taking steps to secure
this State he moved from Camden, September 8,
to invade North Carolina, the conquest of which
was deemed certain before Congress could send an-
other army to its relief. North Carolina subjected,
Virginia was to be the next victim of his arms.
But now occurred one of the most remarkable
events of the war, one which checked the victorious
advance of the British, and finally led to the close
of the struggle.
Cornwallis moved with his main body toward
Charlotte, the county seat of Mecklenberg County,
aiming at Salisbury, where Gates was collecting his
shattered forces. On the west, Tarleton with his
noted legion traversed the country, while further
west, and constituting the British left wing, Col-
onel Patrick Ferguson moved with a force of about
1,200 men, of whom a few were Queen's rangers,
and the rest Tory regiments gathered in New York,
New Jersey, and the mountain districts of the


Carolinas. He was a cousin of the famous Dr.
Adam Ferguson, and was considered one of the
finest officers in the British army. The material of
his force made it particularly obnoxious to the
Whigs, who had good reason for hating his men in
the exasperating excesses which attended their
march. In the fights at Cedar Spring and Mus-
grove's Mill, Ferguson for the first time heard the
deadly rifles of the Watauga men, who had crossed
the mountains under Isaac Shelby and were aiding
their Carolina neighbors to annoy, if they could not
destroy, the invaders. The defeat of Gates caused
Shelby to retire to Watauga, but he had not been
long at home before he received a message from
Ferguson, sent by a released prisoner, Samuel
Philips. "Tell him," said the proud Briton, that
if he and the others do not desist from their opposi-
tion to the British arms, I will march my army
over the mountains, hang their leaders, and lay
their country waste with fire and sword." Never
was a threat more disastrous to the person sending
it. The brave settlers over the mountains were
aroused by its delivery, and at once determined not
to wait for the hated Ferguson, but to destroy him,
if possible, before he attempted to cross the moun-
tains. Colonel Shelby, and Colonel John Sevier, of
Washington County, North Carolina, first concerted
the plan, and despatched a messenger to Colonel
William Campbell, of Washington County, Virginia,
requesting him to join them. On September 25,
there assembled at Watauga, the appointed rendez-
vous, 400 men from Washington County, Virginia,
under Colonel Campbell, 240 from Sullivan County,
North Carolina, under Colonel Isaac Shelby, 240


from Washington County, North Carolina, under
Colonel John Sevier, and 160 men under Colonel
Charles McDowell, who were refugees from Burke
and Rutherford Counties, North Carolina. On the
next day they began their march, Parson Doak,
their pioneer parson, blessing them, and adding, Go
forth, my brave men-go forth with the sword of
the Lord and of Gideon." On the 30th, after cross-
ing the mountains, they were joined by Colonel
Benjamin Cleveland and Major Joseph Winston,
with 350 men from Wilkes and Surry Counties,
North Carolina. The little army was mostly well
mounted, and armed with the deadly Deckard ri-
fle, in the use of which every man was an expert.
Their baggage consisted of a blanket, a tin cup,
and a wallet filled with provisions, most frequent-
ly parched corn and maple sugar. Here and there
a skillet might be seen, serving for a mess, and such
game as might fall in their way. On the march
they were joined by 270 of Sumter's men, under
Colonel Lacy, and 160 other recruits, making the
force 1,840 strong.
Before leaving Watauga Colonel Campbell had
been selected as the commander of this brave band.
He had not only the imposing figure so well becom-
ing a great leader, but military genius of a high
order, and that rare capacity of inspiring his com-
mand, as if by magnetism, with his own confidence
and indomitable courage. They were ever ready
to follow wherever he would lead.
While this band of brave volunteers was march-
ing rapidly toward the British invaders, Ferguson
was waiting at Gilbert Town. Upon hearing of
their approach he took a position on King's Mountain.


Campbell's van consisted of his 910 mounted
men, and fifty riflemen, who, outstripping the others,
had marched fifty miles in eighteen hours through
mud, rain, and darkness, and had overtaken the
horses. Although inferior to Ferguson in numbers,
he did not hesitate to attack him at once. Throwing
his force around the little mountain, he encircled
the enemy, and after a stubborn fight in which Fer-
guson fell, he killed or captured the entire British
army consisting of 1,105 men.1 For this gallant
action Campbell and his officers and men received
the warm thanks of the Virginia Legislature and of
Congress, and never were men better entitled to the
lasting gratitude of their country.
The effect of this victory was to turn the tide of
war in the South. Cornwallis, who had advanced
beyond Charlotte on the road to Salisbury, at once
fell back to Winnsborough, in South Carolina,
where he waited for re-enforcements.
Sir Henry Clinton had sent General Leslie to
Portsmouth, Virginia, in October, with three thou-
sand men, in order that he might meet Cornwallis
in his advance through North Carolina into Vir-
ginia. He now ordered him to sail for Charleston,
and from there to join Cornwallis. In the meantime
the States of North Carolina and Virginia were
using every effort to raise another army to take the
place of the one destroyed at Camden. The invasion
of Leslie had for the time prevented the Virginia
troops from leaving her borders, but his departure
on November 12, released them, and they were

1 So stated in the resolution of the House of Delegates thanking Camp-
bell and his men. See King's Mountain and its Heroes, by Lyman C.
Draper, for a full account of this battle and the incidents leading to it.


sent south. Congress removed General Gates from
his command, and left it to Washington to appoint
his successor. He sent General Nathaniel Greene to
take charge of the southern department. Now, for
the first time, Cornwallis had to oppose in his
southern campaign a general fully his equal, if not
his superior. Greene reached his command in De-
cember. He found it about two thousand strong, of
whom the greater part were militia. Among his
officers he found men of real ability in Generals
Smallwood and Morgan, and Colonels Washington,
Lee, Howard, Williams, and Carrington. He soon
won the confidence and enthusiastic admiration of
his men.
Cornwallis being re-enforced by Leslie, began to
move toward North Carolina again. At Cowpens,
January 17, 1781, his able Lieutenant, Tarleton, was
encountered by Morgan and badly beaten. In this
action the Virginia troops, including her militia,
were conspicuous for their bravery. Cornwallis
now determined to convert his whole army into light
troops by the destruction of his baggage, and with
a vastly superior force commenced to press Greene,
who retired before him. By masterly movements
he saved his army during a retreat through North
Carolina, crossing the Dan at Boyd's Ferry, now
South Boston, in Halifax County, Virginia, on Feb-
ruary 12.1
Two days before reaching the Dan, Greene wrote
to Governor Jefferson,2 Our force is so inferior,
that every exertion in the State of Virginia is ne-

I See a detailed account of this retreat in Lee's Memoirs of the
War" in the Southern department.
9 Calendar of Virginia State Papers, i., 504.


cessary to support us. I have taken the liberty to
write to Mr. Henry to collect fourteen or fifteen
hundred volunteers to aid us." The home of Mr.
Henry was in a county lying on the waters of the
Dan. That he at once responded to the call of
Greene is seen by the large re-enforcements which
joined his army on reaching the north bank of the
river. In Henry County, on receipt of the Gov-
ernor's order to call out the militia, the officer re-
plied that they had already joined General Greene
"in greater numbers than called for," and the
Counties of Pittsylvania, Halifax, Charlotte, Prince
Edward, and others adjoining, were prompt to
send forward their militia.
Cornwallis, baffled in his pursuit, turned to Hills-
borough, and raised the royal standard there. But
soon Greene with his re-enforcements was able to re-
cross the Dan and move toward the enemy. At
first he avoided a battle, but being further re-enforced
by Colonel Campbell with 400 mountaineer rifle-
men, a brigade of Virginia militia under General
Lawson, of Prince Edward County, two brigades of
North Carolina militia under Colonels Butler and
Eaton, and 400 regulars, he delivered battle at
Guilford on March 15, 1781. After a hotly con-
tested day he was forced to leave the British in pos-
session of the field. In this battle the Virginia militia
behaved with great bravery. Cornwallis suffered
so heavily, that he experienced all the disadvan-
tages of a defeat, and, unable longer to hold North
Carolina, retired to Wilmington on the coast. Thus
the splendid campaign of Washington in 1776-7
was re-enacted by his able lieutenant in 1780-1.
1 Calendar of Virginia State Papers, i., 533.


Although another invading army, this time under
the traitor Arnold, was in Virginia, she had not with-
held her re-enforcements to Greene, and of the 3,650
men with which he fought at Guilford, 2,481 were
Virginians, of whom 773 were Continentals.1 The
great re-enforcements," wrote Cornwallis to Ger-
maine, sent by Virginia to General Greene while
General Arnold was in the Chesapeake, are convinc-
ing proofs that small expeditions do not frighten
that powerful province." 2
Greene also wrote to Washington directly after the
battle, "Virginia has given me every support I
could wish."8 Indeed, the generous aid furnished by
Virginia to the common cause with an almost reck-
less disregard of her own safety, is above all praise.
At this period she had by the return of her Gov-
ernor, ten thousand men in Continental service, of
whom 7,500 were regulars.4 As indicated by the
foregoing extract from Cornwallis' letter, her pow-
erful exertions determined the enemy to attack her
with a strong force, sufficient, as it was thought, to
effect her subjugation.
In addition to her contribution to the Continental
service, Virginia was again obliged to take active
measures to check the renewed disposition of the
Cherokees to aid the British in their war upon the
Southern States. In January, 1781, a parcel of her
militia, under Colonel Arthur Campbell, of Wash-
ington County, with 300 men from the Watauga
settlement, under Colonel Sevier, and 400 men from
Sullivan County, North Carolina, all volunteers,
I Bancroft, x., 479. 2 Idem.
3 Correspondence of the Revolution, iii., 267.
4Girardin's continuation of Burk's History of Virginia, iv., 425-480.
Randall's Jefferson, i., 290.


went upon an expedition against the Cherokees, and
routing the warriors, burned their principal towns.
At a peace conference, the Virginians retained the
right to fortify a point at the junction of the Hol-
ston and Tennessee Rivers. The fort proved an
effectual check upon the Cherokees, and protected
the communication with the Mississippi, and the
route to Kentucky and the southwestern frontier.1
The ever restless northern tribes, instigated by
the British at Detroit, were a continual menace
to the security of the western frontier. General
George Rogers Clark now asked to be permitted to
undertake his long-desired expedition against that
fort, and the Governor of Virginia determined to
give him the needed men and means. Considerable
progress was made in preparing for the expedition
during the winter of 1780-81, but the enterprise
was finally abandoned in view of the pressing needs
of the State under the British invasion.2
At the North the year 1780 was one of excited
hopes for the American patriots, followed by dis-
appointment. On July 10, a French fleet, under
Admiral De Ternay, having on board 5,000 troops
under the command of Count Rochambeau, arrived
at Newport, in Rhode Island. This was the first
installment of the promised aid. Washington at
once concerted with the commander an attack upon
New York, but on the 18th, the British Admiral
Graves appeared with a superior fleet, and pre-
vented the French from leaving the port. Wash-
ington, whose own army was much reduced, was

Girardin, 472. Calendar of Virginia State Papers, i., 434.
2 See papers touching this expedition in Calendar of Virginia State
Papers, vol. i.


forced to await the arrival of the second division of
the French re-enforcement, and this was blockaded
in the harbor of Brest, by a British squadron. In
September the country was startled by Arnold's
treason and attempt to betray West Point into
the hands of the British, which was discovered and
prevented by the capture of Andr6. Clinton, trust-
ing the safety of New York to the superiority of
the British fleet, now detached Leslie to Virginia,
where he expected him to meet Cornwallis as the
conqueror of the Carolinas, as we have seen.
It was in this condition of affairs that the Assem-
bly met at Richmond, October 16. Mr. Henry
was promptly in his seat, with his health greatly
improved. The body did not get to work till No-
vember 6, owing to the unusual number of ab-
sences which the disturbed state of the country
produced. On that day Mr. Henry was made
chairman of the Committee of Privileges and Elec-
tions, and of the committee to bring in a bill for
the better defence of the Southern frontier, and
was placed upon the Committees of Propositions
and Grievances, and of Courts of Justice. We also
find him during the session on committees to form
a plan for the defence of the eastern frontier of
the State; to prepare bills for raising the State's
quota of men and money; to settle the accounts of
the delegates to Congress, and the accounts of the
State with the United States; to draw bills for
the organization and maintenance of the navy, the
better regulation and discipline of the militia, and
the supplying the army with clothes and provisions.1
Of some of these committees he was chairman.
I Journal, 7, 8, 10, 14, 24, 45, 50, 51.


Among the papers which he introduced, the fol-
lowing are worthy of note:
Resolutions, that a special messenger be sent to
the Governor of North Carolina, urging the forma-
tion of magazines of provisions for the use of the
Virginia soldiers going south; that a proper per-
son be appointed to lay before Congress the condi-
tion of the South, and the resources of Virginia,
and to concert with that body, the minister of
France, and General Washington, the necessary
measures to be taken, and urging both France and
Spain to join in expelling the common enemy from
their late conquests; that a French loan be nego-
tiated; that salt and money be sent to the families
of those who fell at King's Mountain; that the Gov-
ernor be empowered to impress clothing for the
Virginia line; for the removal of the Convention
troops out of the State during its invasion; to dis-
pense with supernumerary officers; and to authorize'
the Governor to change the next place of meeting
of the Legislature, in case of invasion.1
The work of this session shows the body fully
alive to the danger which threatened the common-
wealth. Three thousand men were ordered to be
raised by draft, if necessary, to complete the State's
Continental quota, each recruit for the war to receive
twelve thousand dollars in paper money, and at its
close a healthy negro, or sixty pounds in specie, and
three .hundred acres of land. The Governor was
empowered, in case of invasion, to call out any num-
ber of men needed; the several counties and corpor-
ations were required to furnish the needed clothes,
provisions, and wagons; additional treasury notes
Journal, 17, 35, 43, 57, 66, 76, 79.


not exceeding ten millions were ordered to be is-
sued, and heavy taxes were laid to meet present
requirements and fund the old issues.
Among the acts there was one which was doubt-
less the work of Mr. Henry, though the journal does
not disclose its author. It was the "act declaring
what shall be a lawful marriage." By its provi-
sions a minister of any society or congregation of
Christians was authorized to celebrate the rite of
matrimony, and all marriages theretofore celebrated
by dissenting ministers were declared valid. This
law was passed in response to a memorial of the
Baptists, whose ministers for some time past had
been performing marriage ceremonies with doubtful
warrant of law, under the advice, it is said, of Mr.
Henry, as the best method of obtaining the proper
During the session General Gates, displaced from
his command, bowed down with shame at his defeat
at Camden, and on his way to meet a court of in-
quiry, reached Richmond. The Legislature exhib-
ited a nobility far different from the spirit shown
in the conduct of King George, who refused to per-
mit Burgoyne to entei his presence after his defeat
at Saratoga. On December 28, 1780, Mr. Henry, in
the House of Delegates, moved, That a committee
of four be appointed to wait upon Major-General
Gates, and to assure him of the high regard and es-
teem of this House. That the remembrance of his
former glorious services cannot be obliterated by
any reverse of fortune; and that this House, ever
mindful of his great merit, will omit no opportunity
of testifying to the world the gratitude which, as a
I Semple's Baptists in Virginia, 60.


member of the American Union, this country owes
to him in his military character." This resolution
was unanimously adopted, and Messrs. Henry, R.
H. Lee, Lane, and General Nelson, were appointed
the committee to communicate it to General Gates.
The fallen hero was deeply moved by this generous
action of the House, and returned the following

"SIRs: I shall ever remember with the utmost
gratitude, the high honor this day done me by the
honorable the House of Delegates of Virginia.
When engaged in the noble cause of freedom and
the United States, I devoted myself entirely to the
service of obtaining the great end of their union.
That I have been once unfortunate is my great
mortification; but let the events of my future ser-
vices be what they may, they will, as they always
have been, be directed by the most faithful integ-
rity, and animated by the truest zeal for the honor
and interest of the United States."

The special mission to Congress, moved by Mr.
Henry, was intrusted to Benjamin Harrison, who
succeeded in procuring an act assigning to the
southern army all the regular troops from Pennsyl-
vania to Georgia inclusive, and the order for Lafay-
ette to march south at once with a detachment of
1,200 regulars. This action proved most timely
and important in its results.



Resolution of Congress Requesting Cession of Western Lands.-
Contest between Virginia and the Land Companies.-Large
Claims of the Latter.-They Appeal to Congress.-Remon-
strance of the Virginia Assembly.-Claims of other States to
Part of Virginia's Territory.-Action of Maryland.-Policy of
Spain.-Attempt to Treat with Her.-The Land Companies At-
tempt to Bribe Congress.-Offer of Virginia to Cede her North-
western Territory, and to Yield the Right to Navigate the Mis-
sissippi, in order to Secure the Union. The Conditions
Attached Opposed by the Land Companies.-Their Influence
upon the Action of Congress.-History of the Offer of Virginia
in Congress.-Final Acceptance.-Subsequent Action of the
Indiana Company.-The Claim of Virginia to the Northwestern
Territory Stated and Defended.

A MATTER of the gravest importance was brought
to the attention of the Legislature at this session
by the resolution of Congress of September 6, 1780,
which after reciting the refusal of Maryland to sign
the articles of confederation unless the western
lands were ceded to the Union, and the vital im-
portance of the completion of the confederation,
urged "those States who have claims to the west-
ern country, to pass such laws, and to give their
delegates in Congress such powers, as may effect-
ually remove the only obstacle to a final ratifica-
tion of the articles of confederation."
The questions which had been raised concerning
the western country were serious, and their solution
had been made more difficult by complications with


other matters, and by the improper methods used to
influence the action of Congress. Their effect upon
the history of the United States requires a more
particular notice of them than has been heretofore
given in these pages.
The claim of Virginia that her territory extended
westward to the Mississippi River, between the
lines established by her charter of 1609, and that
no purchase of lands of the Indians within her bor-
ders was valid, except by authority of the State,
not only aroused the jealousy of those States hav-
ing no western territory, but excited the bitterest
hostility on the part of the great land companies
who were claiming large portions of her territory
under Indian grants. These were the Indiana,
Vandalia, Illinois, and Wabash Companies. The
two first named were the most persistent and effec-
tive in their opposition to the claims of Virginia.
The Indiana Company based their rights upon a
purchase from the Six Nations in 1768, at Fort Stan-
wix, of a large tract of land south of Pennsylvania,
between the Laurel Hills on the east, the Ohio on
the west, and the Kanawha on the south.' The grant-
ees were William Trent, George Morgan, Evan
Shelby, John Gibson, and nineteen others.2 The
Vandalia Company originated in a scheme of
Thomas Walpole, Samuel Wharton, Benjamin
Franklin, and Thomas Pownal, in 1769, to form a
new colony on the south side of the Ohio River.
They applied to the King in council for the pur-
chase of two million four hundred thousand acres,
and although opposed by Lord Hillsborough, then
I Calendar of Virginia State Papers, i., 273.
2 Idem, vi., 4.


President of the Board of Trade, an order was
passed granting their petition, but the patent was
never signed. The intended purchase was known as
the Walpole Grant," the company formed was
called the Grand Company," and they proposed
to name the Colony "Vandalia."1 Their proposed
boundaries would have taken in the territory of
Virginia between the Alleghany Mountains and the
Ohio River,2 now West Virginia, and included the
land claimed by the Indiana Company. The Illi-
nois and Wabash Companies claimed lands north of
the Ohio, purchased of the Indians since the begin-
ning of the war. They were united and did not at
first dispute the territorial rights of Virginia."
The Indiana Company having commenced to sell
lands to settlers, the Virginia Convention, on June
24, 1776, declared that no purchase of lands within
her chartered limits should be made of any Indian
tribe without the approbation of the Legislature,
and appointed a commission to take evidence
against the persons claiming under such purchases.
Thereupon the Indiana Company presented a mem-
orial to the Legislature, dated October 1, 1776, pro-
testing against any impeachment of their title.
Upon the report of the commissioners, the Legisla-
ture reaffirmed the position previously taken, and
by resolution, May 18, 1779, declared, that the pur-
chases by individuals of Indian titles enured solely
to the commonwealth, and proceeded to open a land
office to dispose of the lands south of the Ohio.
The company next appealed to Congress in a mem-
'Writings of Washington, ii., 483-5. Old Northwest, by Hinsdale, 183.
2 Writings of Washington, ii., 357 and 360.
3 Calendar of Virginia State Papers, i., 314.


orial dated September 11, 1779, in which, after deny-
ing the right of Virginia to the western lands, they
claimed that sovereignty over them was vested in
the United States in Congress assembled, as succes-
sors to the rights of the crown, and prayed that
Congress would hear and determine their dispute
with Virginia.
The Virginia delegates protested against the con-
sideration of this memorial, but Congress on Oc-
tobar 30, 1779, hesitating to assume jurisdiction in
the matter, yet not declining it, recommended to Vir-
ginia to reconsider her act for opening a land office,
and requested that all States claiming western land
forbear to issue warrants for them during the war.
This memorial and the action of Congress thereon
called forth an able remonstrance from the Virginia
Assembly, drawn by George Mason, and adopted
December 10, 1779. In it they say:

Congress have lately described and ascertained
the boundaries of these United States, as an ulti-
matum in their terms of peace. The United States
hold no territory but in right of some one individual
State in the Union. The territory of each State,
from time immemorial, hath been fixed and deter-
mined by their respective charters, there being no
other rule or criterion to judge by. Should these in
any instance (when there is no disputed territory
between particular States) be abridged without the
consent of the States affected by it, general confu-
sion must ensue; each State would be subjected, in
its turn, to the encroachments of the others, and a
field opened for future wars and bloodshed; nor
can any arguments be fairly urged to prove that
any particular tract of country, within the limits
claimed by Congress on behalf of the United States,


is not part of the chartered territory of some one of
them, but must militate with equal force against
the right of the United States in general, and tend
to prove such tract of country (if northwest of the
Ohio River) part of the British province of Canada.
When Virginia acceded to the articles of confed-
eration, her rights of sovereignty and jurisdiction
within her own territory were reserved and secured
to her, and cannot be infringed or altered without
her consent. . The General Assembly of
Virginia have heretofore offered Congress to furnish
lands out of their territory on the northwest side of
the Ohio River, without purchase money, to the
troops on Continental establishment. . But
although the General Assembly of Virginia would
make great sacrifices to the common interest of
America (as they have already done on the subject
of representation), and will be ready to listen to any
just and reasonable propositions for removing the
ostensible cause of delay to the complete ratification
of the confederation, they find themselves impelled
by the duties which they owe to their constituents,
to their posterity, to their country, and to the
United States in general, to remonstrate and protest,
and they do hereby, in the name and on behalf of
the commonwealth of Virginia, expressly protest
against any jurisdiction 'or right of adjudication in
Congress upon the petitions of the Vandalia and In-
diana Companies, or on any other matter or thing
subversive of the internal policy, civil government,
or sovereignty of this or any other of the United
States, or unwarranted by the articles of confed-
eration." 1

This able paper effectually disposed of the claim
of sovereignty in the United States over the west-

' Journal of House.


ern territory, and its positions have been since fully
sustained by the Supreme Court of the United
States. But another claimant had appeared to con-
test Virginia's rights. The State of New York put
up a claim to all of the lands occupied or claimed
by the Six Nations and their tributaries, which em-
braced all the northwestern lands and some south of
the Ohio, on the ground of a protectorate over these
tribes; and then, with an air of great generosity, her
Legislature on March 7, 1780, authorized her dele-
gates in Congress to cede to the United States this
territory, to accelerate the federal alliance." This
baseless claim, and its transfer to Congress, was
doubtless for the purpose of furnishing that body
with a pretext to claim these lands against Virginia,
as was subsequently attempted in a committee's re-
The States of Connecticut and Massachusetts also
laid claim to a part of the western territory under
their charters. Connecticut claimed the strip be-
tween the parallels of 41 and 42 2' north latitude,
and Massachusetts a strip north of this. The claim
of New York was large enough to cover these also,
as they were within the hunting grounds of the Six
The act of New York did not satisfy Maryland,
which still refused to sign the articles of confedera-
tion. Indeed, that State was evidently in accord
with the land companies. Her declaration of De-
cember 15, 1778, of the reasons which determined
her to withhold her assent to the articles, made a
condition of such assent, that the United States
should have the right "to all lands lying westward
of the frontiers, not granted to, surveyed for, or


purchased by individuals, at the commencement of
the present war."'
The act of New York contained no condition in
conflict with the claims of the land companies, but
Maryland, having no confidence in her asserted
right, waited for Virginia to act.
Upon consideration of the instructions of Mary-
land to her delegates, the remonstrance of Virginia,
and the act of New York, Congress on September
6, 1780, waiving all discussion of the serious ques-
tions involved, passed the resolution heretofore
noticed, earnestly recommending to the claimant
States to remove the only obstacle to the confedera-
tion by ceding their claims to the United States.
The companies now proposed to the Virginia dele-
gates, by a letter of November 16, to submit
their dispute to arbitrators to be chosen by Con-
gress. This was declined on the ground that Vir-
ginia had finally decided the matter, and it was
derogatory to her sovereignty to allow an appeal
from her decision on a claim of individuals."
Another matter of serious import now entered
into the complication. It grew out of the selfish
policy of Spain. That kingdom had refused to
enter into treaties with the United States, though
at war with Great Britain. Her movements in
America indicated a disposition not only to possess
herself of the territory held by the British, but also
of the entire valley of the Mississippi, into which
she sent an expedition in 1779. A portion of the
letter of Congress to Jay, of October 17, 1780, was
devoted to combating her right to possess herself of
I See this paper in Hening's Statutes at Large, x., 549.
SMS. Executive Communication in 1780.


the territory of the United States, although she
might find it temporarily under British dominion.
Another part argued the right of the United States
to the free navigation of the Mississippi to the Gulf,
which Congress, at the instance of Virginia, had re-
quired to be a condition of any treaty, but which
it was understood Spain was loath to grant. This
disposition of Spain to acquire western territory,
was discovered by George Rogers Clark in his in-
tercourse with her authorities in St. Louis. He
wrote to Governor Jefferson, March, 1780, "I am
not clear but the Spaniards would fondly suffer
their settlements in the Illinois to fall with ours,
for the sake of having the opportunity of retaking
both. I doubt they are too fond of territory to
think of restoring it again." '
The subjugation of Georgia and South Carolina
by the British excited serious alarm. It was well
known that the neutral powers in Europe were at-
tempting to force a peace, and there was danger
that such a peace might be on the principle of uti
possidetis, and so Georgia and South Carolina be
left in possession of Great Britain, or partly in
the possession of Spain under conquests from the
English. This made it of the greatest importance
to engage Spain in a treaty, which would not only
prevent her from conquering any of the territory of
the United States for herself, but would secure her
aid in wresting it from British occupation for the
United States. The delegates from the occupied
States, after October 17, 1780, pressed these con-
siderations upon Congress, and insisted that in
order to effect a treaty with Spain, and obtain pe-
Virginia Calendar of State Papers, i., 338.


cuniary and other aid from her, it would be better
to yield temporarily the right to the free naviga-
tion of the Mississippi, however important to the
western country, and to this view they won Colonel
Bland, one of the two Virginia delegates in attend-
ance,1 and enough of the other delegates to carry
their proposal, if need be, without the vote of Vir-
To add to the embarrassments of the territorial
questions, the country learned with horror that the
land companies had bribed some of the members of
Congress by giving them stock in their enterprises.
A rumor to this effect is mentioned by George
Mason in a letter to Joseph Jones, one of the Vir-
ginia delegates, July 27, 1780.2
The whole subject of the western lands was
brought to the attention of the Legislature by the
resolution of Congress of September 6, and by let-
ters from the Virginia delegates. Among these a
letter from Colonel Bland of November 22, 1780,
addressed to the Governor, contained the following

"It may not be improper to inform your Excel-
lency and (through your Excellency) the Legisla-
ture, who we suppose may be now sitting, that
every art has been and 'tis probable may be used,
by that company (the Indiana) to extend their in-
fluence and support their pretensions, and we are
sorry to say that we have suspicion founded upon
more than mere conjecture, that the land jobs of
this company, and the Vandalia and Illinois com-
panies, have too great an influence in procrastinat-
I Letter of James Madison, Madison's Works, vol. iv., 558, etc.
2 Bland Papers, ii., 130.


ing that desirable and necessary event of complete-
ing the confederation, which we hope the wisdom,
firmness, candor, and moderation of our Legislature
now in session will remove every obstacle to.
"We could wish also, and we think it a duty we
owe to our constituents, to call their attention to
a revision of our former instructions relative to
the navigation of the Mississippi-that should any
overtures from Spain be offered which are advan-
tageous to the United States, and which might con-
tribute not only to relieve our present necessities,
but promise us peace and a firm establishment of
our independence, it might not be considered as
an object that would counterbalance the distant
prospect of a free navigation of that river, with stip-
ulated ports-which may perhaps, under another
form or at some more convenient opportunity, be
obtained from that nation, in behalf of our citizens
settled on its banks and waters. Having shown
the above to my colleague, Mr. Madison, he has
thought it unnecessary to join in that part of it
relating to our instructions on the subject of the
navigation of the Mississippi."

These papers found the Virginia Assembly ready
to consider the grave matters contained in them
in the most patriotic spirit. Colonel Mason, who
had drawn the remonstrance of December 10, 1779,
had written to Mr. Jones in the letter of July 27,
1780, already cited, as follows:

Nothing has been moved in our assembly re-
specting our western territory since the remon-
strance to Congress, nor do I think there will be
shortly, unless there are some propositions from
Congress on the subject; but I am sure the most
I MS. Executive Communication of 1780.

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