Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

the burgesses delegated their powers to a total separation." Then they decreed that permanent committee and adjourned. So their " delegates in Congress be instructed ended royal rule in Virginia.

to propose to that body to declare the In May, 1776, a convention of 130 dele- united colonies free and independent gates assembled at Williamsburg. After States, absolved from all allegiance or dehaving finished current business, the con- pendence upon the crown or Parliament of vention resolved itself into a committee Great Britain; and that they give the of the whole on the state of the colony. assent of this colony to such declaration, On May 15, resolutions which had been and to measures for forming foreign allidrafted by Edmund Pendleton were unani- ances and a confederation of the colonies; mously agreed to, 112 members being pres- provided that the power of forming govent. The preamble enumerated their chief ernment for, and the regulation of the grievances, and said, “We have no alterna- internal concerns of each colony be left tive left but an abject submission or a to the respective colonial legislatures.”

VIRGINIA, STATE OF Virginia, STATE OF. The State consti- as matter of right, and they and the tution was framed in June, 1776. While States respectively act with more energy the foremost citizen of Virginia was lead- than they have hitherto done, our cause is ing the army fighting for independence, lost. ... I see one head gradually changand was the most earnest advocate for a ing into thirteen. I see one army branchnational bond of all the States, the repre- ing into thirteen, which, instead of looking sentatives of her people, in her legislat- up to Congress as the supreme controlure, always opposed the measures that ling power of the United States, are conwould make the States one union. Her leg. sidering themselves as dependent on their islature separately ratified (June 2, 1779) the treaty with France, and asserted in its fullest degree the absolute sovereignty of the separate States, and when Congress received petitions concerning lands in the Ohio country, the Virginia Assembly remonstrated against any action in the premises by that body, because it would " be a dangerous precedent, which might hereafter subvert the sovereignty and government of any one or more of the l'nited States, and establish in Congress a power which, in process of time, must degenerate into an intolerable despotism." Patrick Henry, too, vehemently condemned the phraseology of the preamble to the national Constitution—“We, the people” -arguing that it should have been “We, the States.” So, also, did George Mason. So jealous of their “sovereignty” were the States in general that Congress, at several States.” Towards the end of June the beginning of 1780, finding itself utter- General Greene wrote: “ The Congress ly helpless, threw everything upon the have lost their influence. I have for a States. Washington deeply deplored this long time seen the necessity of some new state of things.“ Certain I am,” he wrote plan of civil government. l'nless there is to Joseph Jones, a delegate from Virginia, some control over the States by the Conin May, “unless Congress is vested with gress, we shall soon be like a broken band.” powers by the several States competent to The marauding expedition of Arnold up the great purposes of war, or assume them the James River, early in 1781, was fol

[graphic]

GEORGE MASON.

lowed by a more formidable invasion in (May 20), General Phillips died (May the latter part of March. General Phil. 13) at Petersburg. On May 24 Cornwallis lips, of Burgoyne's army, who had been crossed the James and pushed on towards exchanged for Lincoln, joined Arnold at Richmond. He seized all the fine horses Portsmouth, with 2,000 troops from New he could find, with which he mounted York, and took the chief command. They about 600 cavalry, whom he sent after went up the James and Appomattox Lafayette, then not far distant from Richrivers, took Petersburg (April 25), and mond, with 3,000 men, waiting for the ardestroyed 4,000 ' hogsheads of tobacco, rival of Wayne, who was approaching with which had been collected there for ship. Pennsylvania troops. The marquis fell

slowly back, and at a ford on the North Anne he met Wayne with 800 men.

Cornwallis had pursued him as far as Hanover Court - house, from which place the earl sent Lieutenant-Colonel Simcoe, with his loyalist corps, the Queen's Rangers,” to capture or destroy stores in charge of Steuben at the junction of the Ravenna and Fluvanna riv. ers. In this he failed.

Tarleton had been detached, at the same time, to capture Governor Jefferson and the members of the Virginia legislature at Charlottesville, whither they had fled from Richmond. Only

seven of them were made capment to France on account of the Con- tives. Jefferson narrowly escaped by fleegress. There were virtually no troops in ing from his house (at Monticello) on Virginia to oppose this invasion, for all horseback, accompanied by a single serthat were really fit for service had been vant, and hiding in the mountains. He had sent to the army of Greene, in the left his dwelling only ten minutes beCarolinas. Steuben had about 500 half- fore one of Tarleton's officers entered it. starved and naked troops, whom he was At Jefferson's plantation, near the Point training for recruits. These were mostly of Forks, Cornwallis committed the most without arms, and retreated before Phil. wanton destruction of property, cutting lips to Richmond. Lafayette, who had the throats of young horses not fit for halted at Annapolis, now hurried forward, service, slaughtering the cattle, and burnand, by a forced march of 200 miles, ing the barns with remains of previous reached Richmond twelve hours before crops, laying waste growing ones, burning Phillips and Arnold appeared on the oppo- all the fences on the plantation, and carry. site side of the river. Joined by Steuben. ing away about thirty slaves. Lafayette the marquis here checked the invaders, now turned upon the earl, when the latter, who retired to City Point, at the junction supposing the forces of the marquis to be of the James and Appomattox. After much greater than they were, retreated collecting an immense plunder in tobacco in haste down the Virginia peninsula to and slaves, besides destroying ships, mills, Williamsburg, blackening his pathway and every species of property that fell in with fire. It is estimated that during the his way, Phillips embarked his army and invasion—from Arnold's advent in Janudropped some distance down the river. ary until Cornwallis reached Williamsburg

When, soon afterwards, Cornwallis ap- late in June-property to the amount of proached Virginia from the south, he $15,000,000 was destroyed and 30,000 ordered Phillips to meet him at Peters. slaves were carried away. The British, in burg. Before the arrival of the earl their retreat, had been closely followed by

[graphic]

MONTICELLO.

Lafayette, Wayne, and Steuben, and were During the War of 1812 – 15 its coasts not allowed a minute's rest until they were ravished by British marauders. reached Williamsburg, where they were In 1831 an insurrection occurred in protected by their shipping.

Southampton county, led by a negro The convention to consider the Articles named Nat Turner, which alarmed the of Confederation, or to form a new con- whole State, but it was speedily substitution, having met on the invitation of dued. In 1859 an attempt was made Virginia, courtesy assigned to the dele- by JOHN BROWN (9. v.) to free the slaves gates to that State the task of giving a of Virginia. Early in 1861 the question of start to the proceedings. Accordingly, secession divided the people. The ConGovernor Randolph, after a speech on the federate leaders of Virginia found it hard defects of the confederation, on May 29, work to “ carry out" the State, for there 1787, offered fifteen resolutions suggest was a strong Union sentiment among the ing amendments to the federal system. people, especially in the western or moun. They proposed a national legislature, to tain districts. They finally procured the consist of two branches, the members of authorization of a convention, which asthe first, or most numerous branch, to be sembled in Richmond, Feb. 13, 1861, with chosen by the people, and to be appor. John Janney as chairman. It had a tioned to the States in the proportion of stormy session from February until April, free population or taxes; those of the sec. for the Unionists were in the majority. ond branch to be chosen by the first, out Even as late as April 4 the convention reof candidates to be nominated by the State fused, by. a vote of 89 against 45, to pass legislatures. A separate national execu- an ordinance of secession. But the pressure tive was proposed, to be chosen by the of the Confederates had then become so national legislature; a national judiciary and a council of revision, to consist of the executive and a part of the judiciary, with a quali. fied negative on every act of legis. lation, State as well as national. These were the principal features of the “ Virginia plan,” as it was called. It was referred to a committee, together with a sketch of a plan by Charles Cotesworth Pinck. ney, which, in its form and arrange. ment, furnished the outline of the constitution as adopted.

For many years the State of Vir. ginia maintained a predominating influence in the af.

K fairs of the nation.

[graphic]

A VIRGINIA LANDSCAPE.

were

[ocr errors]

STATE SEAL OF VIRGINIA.

mard that one weak Unionist after another hanged.* Resistance would be useless, and gave way, converted by sophistry or the ten members did not appear in the conthreats. Commissioners

sent to vention. Other Unionists who remained in President Lincoln, to ascertain his deter- the convention were awed by their violent

proceedings, and on Monday, April 17, an ordinance was passed by a vote of 85 against 55 entitled, “ An ordinance to repeal the ratification of the Constitution of the United States of America by the State of Virginia, and to reserve all the rights and powers granted under said Constitution.”

At the same time the convention passed an ordinance requiring the governor to

call out as many volunteers as might be SIC SEMPER TYRANNIS

necessary to repel an invasion of the State. It was ordained that the secession ordinance should go into effect only when it should be ratified by the votes of a majority of the people. The day for the casting of such vote was fixed for May 23. Meanwhile the whole military force of Virginia had been placed under the con

trol of the Confederate States of America. mination about seceding States, who were Nearly the whole State was under the told explicitly that he should defend the control of the military authority. At the life of the republic to the best of his time appointed for the vote, Senator ability. Their report added fuel to the James M. Mason, author of the fugitive flame of passion then raging in Richmond. slave law, addressed a letter to the people, In the convention, the only question re- declaring that the ordinance of secession maining on the evening of April 15 was, absolved them from all allegiance to the Shall Virginia secede at once, or wait United States; that they were bound to for the co-operation of the border slave- support the “sacred pledge ” made to the labor States ? In the midst of the ex- “ Confederate States” by the treaty of ancitement pending that question, the con- nexation, etc. vention adjourned until the next morn- The Virginia convention had appointed ing.

ex-President John Tyler, W. Ballard PresThe following day the convention as- ton, S. M. D. Moore, James P. Holsembled in secret session. For three days combe, James C. Bruce, and Levi E. threats and persuasion had been brought Harvie, commissioners to treat with to bear upon the faithful Union members, Alexander H. Stephens, Vice-President of who were chiefly from the mountain dis- the Confederate States of America, for tricts of western Virginia, where slavery the annexation of Virginia to the Southern had a very light hold upon the people. On Confederacy. Mr. Stephens was clothed the adjournment, on the 15th, there was a with full power to make a treaty to clear majority of 153 in the convention that effect. It was then planned to seize against secession. Many of the Unionists the national capital; and at several gave way on the 16th. It was calculated places on his way towards Richmond, that if ten Union members of the con- where he harangued the people, he raised vention should be absent, there would be the cry of “ On to WASHINGTON!” (q. 1.). a majority for secession. That number of Troops were pressing towards that goal the weaker ones were waited upon on the from the South. He was received in evening of the 16th, and informed that Richmond, by the authorities of every they had the choice of doing one of three

* Statement by a member of the things—namely, to vote for a secession vention, cited in the Annual Cyclopaedia. ordinance, to absent themselves, or be 1861, p. 735.

[graphic]

con

kind, with assurances that his mission Pickens, of South Carolina : “We are would be successful. The leaders were fellow-citizens once more. By an ordieager for the consummation of the treaty nance passed this day Virginia has adoptbefore the people should vote on the ed the provisional government of the ordinance of secession; and on Stephens's Confederate States." They also proarrival he and the Virginia commis- ceeded to appoint delegates to the Consioners entered upon their prescribed federate Congress; authorized the banks duties. On April 24 they agreed to of the State to suspend specie payment; and signed a convention between the made provision for the establishment of commonwealth of Virginia and the Con- a navy for Virginia, and for enlistments federate States of America," which pro- for the State army, and adopted other vided that, until the union of Virginia preparations for war. They also invited with the latter should be perfected,“ the the Confederate States government to whole military force and military opera- make Richmond its headquarters. The tions, offensive and defensive, of said proclamation of the annexation was imcommonwealth in the impending con- mediately put forth by John Letcher, the flict with the United States, should be governor of 'Virginia. All this was done under the chief control and direction of almost month before the people of the President of the Confederate States." Virginia were allowed to vote on

On the following day the convention sion. passed an ordinance ratifying the treaty, The vote for secession was 125,950, and and adopting and ratifying the “pro- against secession 20,373. This did not invisional constitution of the Confederate clude the vote of northwestern Virginia, States of America.” On the same day where, in convention, ten days before the John Tyler telegraphed to Governor voting, they had planted the seeds of a

a

seces

[graphic][merged small]
« AnteriorContinuar »