Debating the Issues in Colonial Newspapers: Primary Documents on Events of the Period

By David A. Copeland | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 27
Arguments over Going to War with England, 1774-1776

In March 1775, the Virginia Convention met in Richmond. The delegates, who met to discuss the crisis with Britain, moved approximately fifty miles inland from Williamsburg to keep their business from being interrupted by the governor and the British troops stationed in the capital. The meeting might be considered a gathering of who's who in the formation of the United States with men such as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Richard Henry Lee, and Peyton Randolph in attendance.

While all of these men played crucial roles in what Virginia did during the eight-day convention, none were more vocal or more bellicose than Patrick Henry. Already in 1774, Henry, who became an outspoken proponent of American rights during the Stamp Act crisis, had admitted that the colonies must fight England if taxation and virtual control over the colonies by Parliament could not be removed from America.1 Now with Virginia's delegates meeting in convention, Henry demanded and the convention approved the raising of militias in every county of Virginia and providing them with the tools of war.2 Henry felt the time had come for the colonies to go to war with England.

Not all of the Virginia delegates agreed with Henry's demands that the colony prepare for war, but few could speak as eloquently as the 38-year- old lawyer. On the fourth day of the convention, he told all the delegates exactly how he felt:

This is no time for ceremony. The question before the House is one of awful moment to this country. For my own part, I consider it as nothing less than a

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