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mond, on July 17, 1775, and among other things passed resolutions for the enlistment and arming of two regiments of regular soldiers, and sixteen battalions of militia, besides six companies of independent militia for service on the border. Patrick Henry was appointed colonel of the first regiment, and commander in chief of the forces in Virginia. A committee of safety was appointed, to which, owing to the hostile attitude of the royal governor, was confided, for the time being, the government of the province. At the same time they declared their allegiance to King George the Third, as their lawful sovereign. Even at this late date there were not wanting those who believed the king would himself take steps to counteract the oppressive measures instituted by his advisers, and that peace would again be assured under the powerful protection of the government themselves and their fathers had served for so many generations.
The second continental Congress had assembled at Philadelphia some months previous to this, and May 29, 1775, it passed resolutions for securing some effective mode of defense in the colonies; and at the same time, in obedience to the wishes of certain members, drew up a second petition to the king, which was presented to parliament, and by it denounced as a scheme to quiet the government until the provinces were fully prepared for the establishment of an independent empire in the west. On the 15th of June, Congress provided for the direction of the army by appointing George Washington commander in chief, with four major-generals, eight brigadiers, and an adjutant-general, as his subordinates; it also voted three millions of dollars for the arming and subsistence of the military forces of the colonies. Other action was taken, among the most important being a declaration setting forth the causes that led to the taking up of arms; that this had not been done with the design of separating from Great Britain and establishing independent states. This document was the joint production of Mr. Dickinson and Mr. Jefferson, and was read section by section and discussed by the full house previous to its adoption.
CHOSEN DELEGATE IN VIRGINIA CONVENTION-ELECTED TO CONGRESS.
"HE condition of his health had prevented Mr. Madison entering the
army, much as he desired so to do on the breaking out of hostilities. Many of his college associates had obtained commissions in the service, as had his younger brother, Ambrose. Broken down and debilitated by exces. sive study, he was unable to endure the hardships and privations of the camp and field, and perforce denied himself the service which he would have esteemed a privilege. Connected, as he was, with the committee of his county, he manifested zeal and energy in the prosecution of the duties that lay near him, and the exercise required in the performance of these duties was of benefit to his health. His association with the people of the county had shown them the material of which he was made, and with united voice he was called to represent them as a delegate in the convention, called to meet at Williamsburg the 6th of May, 1776. He was then twenty-five years of age, and with perhaps one or two exceptions, the youngest delegate in the convention. His associates were the most prominent persons in the province—such men as Richard Bland, the Lees, Patrick Henry, George Mason, Pendleton, Nicholas, Wythe, and Cary. Edmund Pendleton was chosen presiding officer. Business was expedited during the first few days of the session, and on the 15th the convention resolved itself into committee of the whole on the state of the country. Mr. Cary, chairman of the committee of the whole, presented resolutions that are historical, in that by them Virginia took the initiative in declaring for independence from Great Britain. The concluding paragraph of the resolutions instructed the dele gates in Congress “to propose to that body to declare the united colonies free and independent states, absolved from all allegiance to or dependence on the crown or parliament of Great Britain, and that they give the assent of this colony to such declaration, and to whatever measures may be thought proper and necessary by the congress for forming foreign alliances, and a
confederation of the colonies.” In the absence of any proof to the contrary, it is believed the authorship of these resolutions rests with Edmund Pendleton, the chairman of the convention. The Virginia delegates in Congress presented these resolutions to that body the 7th of June; on the 8th and 10th they were discussed, and on the last named day a committee was appointed to prepare a declaration in accordance with the resolutions. This was subscribed by the members of Congress on the 4th of July, 1776.
Not less important and far reaching in its results was the subsequent work of the convention. On the day which witnessed the instruction to the delegates in Congress, was taken the first step in the formation of a new state government. A committee, consisting of twenty-eight members, was appointed to frame a “declaration of rights and such plan of government as will be most likely to maintain peace and order in this colony, and secure substantial and equal liberty to the people." This committee was composed of the ablest men of an exceptionally able convention, Cary, Nicholas, Henry, Bland, Lee, Blair, and others being among the more prominent. The day following its appointment, James Madison, who had come out from behind his veil of modesty, and been recognized by the convention as among the ablest of the younger members, was added to the committee; and the day after, George Mason, who was to become the great leader of the committee in its labors, was appointed and took his seat. On the 27th of May the select committee reported the declaration of rights to the convenion, which, on the roth of June, resolved itself into committee of the whole, for discussion. Two days later it was adopted by the convention, after some slight verbal alterations, and has stood the test of time, not a word or letter having been altered, although since that time the state of Virginia has had three constitutions. Some of its leading features have been incorporated into the constitution of other states, and into amendments to the constitution of the United States. The name of George Mason deserves equal fame with that of Thomas Jefferson, as the author of one of the most important state papers of this continent. Among the verbal changes suggested was that relating to freedom of religious opinions. Mr. Madison objected to the use of the word “toleration" in the declaration : “All men should, therefore, enjoy the fullest toleration in the exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience, unpunished and unrestrained by the magistrate, unless, under color of religion any man disturb the peace, the happiness, or the safety of society.” He had seen much of the intolerance of toleration, and had vowed within himself to do what lay in his power for the relief of the oppressed sectaries. Freedom he held, should imply liberty of conscience as well as liberty of action. Feeling, as he did, his presumption in differing from men so much older, and perhaps wiser than himself, the justice of his cause alone sustained him in presenting it to the convention. His amendment was, in substance, accepted by the convention,