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Assion, and Mr. Jefferson, as we have seen, was for the first time a member. The doctrines avowed in these menacing papers, although they were directed principally against the people of Massachusetts, were too extraordinary to be overlooked in any assembly which contained a Jefferson. They were no sooner made known to the House, than he proposed the adoption of counter resolutions, and advocated warmly, the propriety of making common cause with Massachusetts, at the hazard of every sacrifice. Counter resolutions, and an address to the King, were accordingly agreed to, with little opposition ; and the pregnant determination was then and there formed, of considering the cause of any one Colony as a common one. The seed of the American Union was here first \sown. Who cannot perceive, in that spirit of godlike magnanimity, which forgot self, kindred, friends, every thing, in commissera- o tion of the sufferings of a distant Colony, the elements of that powerful fraternal principle, which carried these Colonies in solid phalanx, side to side, and step for step, through the angry billows of the Revolution; and which, through so many years of high prosperity, has overawed every rampant ebullition, and, by a ceaceless attraction, held upon its point every discordancy of interest and opinion. The spark which was elicited on this occasion, was communicated from heart to heart, and from Colony to Colony, until the principle of cohesion became paramount and universal, dissolving every incongruous tie, and melting into one mass, having a common interest and a common danger, the whole body of the people. By the resolutions which they passed, the Legislature re-asserted the exclusive right of the Colonies to tax themselves in all cases whatsoever; denounced the recent acts of Parliament, as flagrant violations of the British Constitution; and remonstrated, sternly, against the assumed right to transport the freeborn citizens of America to Eng. land, to be tried by their inveterate enemies. The tone of these resolutions was so strong, as to excite, for the first time, the displeasure of the Governor, the amiable Lord Bottetourt, whose facility of disposition was proverbial. The House had scarcely adopted, and ordered them to be entered upon their journals, when they were summoned to his presence, to receive the sentence of dissolution. “Mr. Speaker,” said he, “and gentlemen of the House of Representatives, I have heard of your resolves, and augur ill of their effects; you have made it my duty to dissolve you, and you are accordingly dissolved.” But the interference of the Executive had no other effect, than to encourage the holy feeling it attempted to repress. The next day, led on by the young spirits, Jefferson, Henry, and the two Lees, the great body of the members retired to a room, called the Apollo, in the Raleigh tavern, the principal hotel in Williamsburg. They there formed themselves into a voluntary Convention, drew up Articles of Association against the use of any merchandise imported from Great Britain, signed, and recommended them to the people. * They repaired to their several counties, circulated the Articles of the League among their constituents, and, to the astonishment of all, so popular was the measure, that at the call of another Legislature, , themselves were re-elected without a single exception. ' The impetus thus given to the heroic example of Massachusetts, by a remote Province, carried it home to the breast of every Colony. The non-importation agreement became general. All the luxuries, and many of the comforts of life, were sacrificed, at once, on the altar of colonial liberty. The history of that period presents a sublime spectacle of self-devotement, and rigorous patriotism. Associations were formed at every point, and a systematic war of interdiction and non-consumption, was directed against British mer. chandise. All ranks, all ages, and both sexes joined, with holy emulation, in nullifying the unconstitutional tariff. The ladies, who are never permitted to be greatest but on the greatest occasions, established a peculiar claim to pre-eminence, on this. They relinquished, without a struggle, all the elegancies, the embellishments, and even the comforts to which they had been accustomed; and experienced a refined pleasure in preferring, for their attire, the simple fabric of their own free hands, to the most gorgeous habiliments of tyranny. In Virginia, the anti-revenue movement was reduced to a system, and pursued with unparalleled rigor. A committee of vig. ilance was established in every county, whose duty it was to promote subscriptions to the covenant, and to guard the execution of the Articles. The powers of these committees, being undefined, were almost unlimited. They examined the books of the merchant, and pushed their inquisitorial tribunal into the sanctity of the fire. side, punishing every breach, by fine and public advertisement of the offender, and rewarding every observance by an appropriate
badge of merit. Such, too, was the imperious virtue of popular opinion, that from their decision there was no appeal. All who refused to subscribe the covenant of self-disfranchisement, or proved derelict in one iota, to its obligations, underwent a species of social excommunication. But the examples of delinquency were exceed. ingly rare—of recusancy, rarer; a few old tories only, of the most intractable stamp, were sent into gentlemanly exile, beyond the mountains. The dissolution of the House of Burgesses, was not attended, as before remarked, with any change in the popular representation; except only in the very few instances of those who had declined assent to the patriot proceedings. The next meeting of the Legislature, n any permanent interest, which was not until the spring of 1773, saw Mr. Jefferson again at his post, and intent upon the great business of substituting just principles of government, in the room of o which unjustly prevailed. A court of inquiry, held in Rhode-Island, as far back as 1762, in which was vested the extraordinary power to transport persons to England, to be tried for offences committed in America, was considered by him as demanding attention, even after so long an interval of silence. He was not in public life at the time this proceeding was instituted, and consequently had not the power to raise his voice againstit; but such was his strong senseofpolitical justice, that, when an important principle was violated, he deemed it never too late to rally to the breach. Acquiescence in such a high-handed encroachment, would give it the force of precedent, and precedent would soon establish the right. A suitable investigation and protest, too, would resuscitate the apprehensions of the Colonists, which had already relapsed into a fatal repose. This, indeed, appeared to him a more desirable result, than the simple reclamation of right in that particular case. Nothing of unusual excitement having occurred, during the protracted interval of legislative interruption, the people had fallen into a state of insensibility to their situation: and yet, the same causes of irritation existed, that had recently thrown them into such ferment. The duty on tea, with a multitude of co-incumbrances, still pressed upon them; and the Declaratory Act, of a right in the British Parliament, to bind them by their laws, in all cases whatsorever, still suspended over o hanging by the tenure of ministeri
alcaprice. The lethargy of the public mind, under such a pressure of injustice, indicated to Mr. Jefferson, a fearful state of things. It presented to his philosophic eye, a degree of moral prostration, but one remove from that, which constitutes the proper element for des. potism, and invites its fiercest visitations. It appeared to him indispensable, as a first measure, that something should be done, to break in upon the dead calm, which rested, like an incubus, on the Colonies, and to rouse the people to a sense of their real situation. Something, moreover, had been perpetually wanting, to produce concert of action, and a mutual understanding among the Colonies; which was essential to a systematic and efficacious resis_tance. These objects could only be accomplished, he conceived, by * the dissemination, in an impressive form, of the earliest intelligence of events, with suitable and wholesome comments. This would keep their understandings sufficiently informed, and by scattering "the flames of excitement, which were principally local, from one Colony to another, until the whole continent should be in a blaze, would keep them, also, in a mutual and constant state of alarm. With a view, therefore, to these important objects, and “not thinking the old and leading members up to the point of forwardness, which the times required,” he proposed to a few of the younger ones, a private meeting, in the evening, “to consult on the state of things.” On the evening of the eleventh of March, 1773, there\sore. we find this little band of Virginia patriots, consisting of Mr. Jefferson, Patrick Henry, R. H. Lee, F. L. Lee, and Dabney (Carr, assembled together in a private room of the Raleigh tavern, to deliberate on the momentous concerns of all British America. | The minds of these bold statesmen were in perfect unison; and | the concurrence of such minds, upon such an occasion, could scarcely fail to educe results, which should mark an era in the \o of our nation. Nor did it so fail. This little conclave, at the Raleigh tavern in Williamsburg, had the distinguishing merit of originating the most formidable engine of Colonial resistance, that had ever been devised; to wit, the “Committees of Correspondence,” between the Legislatures of the different Colonies: and the first visible offspring of this measure, was a movement of inconceivably more consequence, not only to America, but to the world—the call of a general Congress of all the Colonies.
This important result was foreseen, it appears, by the meeting, particularly by Mr. Jefferson, who has left us an interesting reminiscence of their doings, avoiding, in his usual way, any particular mention of his own agency. “We were all sensible that the most urgent of all measures, was that of coming to an understanding with all the other. Colo: nies, to consider the British claims as a common cause to all, and to produce a unity of action; and for this surpose that a Committee of Correspondence, in each Colony, would be the best instru: ment for inter-communication: and that their first measure would probably be, to propose a meeting of Deputies from every Colo'ny, at some central place, who should be charged with the direction of the measures which should be taken by all.” This presentiment, of the call of a General Congress, as the result of their meeting, must have made a powerful impression upon the mind of Mr. Jefferson; for at the age of seventy-three it was still fresh in his memory. In a letter to a son of Dabney Carr, in 1816, he alludes to it: “I remember that Mr. Carr and myself, returning home together, and conversing on the subject, by the way, concurred in the conclusion, that that measure [Committees of Correspondence] must inevitably beget the meeting of a Congress of Deputies from all the Colonies, for the purpose of uniting all in the same principles and measures, for the maintenance of our rights.” It being decided to recommend the appointment of these committees, Mr. Jefferson proceeded to draft a set of resolutions to that intent, and improved the opportunity to insert a special one, directing an inquiry into the judicial proceedings in Rhode-Island. The resolutions being agreed to, it was decided to propose them to the House of Burgesses, the next morning. His colleagues in council, pressed upon Mr. Jefferson to move them; “but I urged,” says he, “that it should be done by Mr. Carr, my friend and brother-in-law, then a new member, to whom I wished an opportunity should be given, of making known to the House, his great worth and talents.” It was accordingly agreed that Mr. Carr should move them; after which, this patriotic coterie dissolved, and repaired to their lodgings. The resolutions were brought forward in the House of Burgesses, the next morning, by young Mr. Carr; who failed not to exhibit on the occasion, “his great worth and talents,” in a speech which electrified the whole assembly. For once, it is said, the genius of Henry stood rebuked, before the eloquence of such a rival. Mr. Carr