THE LIFE OF JAMES MADISON

CHAPTER I
THE AMENDMENT TO THE BILL OF RIGHTS

THE HOUSE OF BURGESSES of Virginia held its last session May 6, 1776, when forty-five members, assembling at Williamsburg, declared that the ancient constitution of the colony had been subverted by the King and Parliament of Great Britain. Accordingly, they disbanded, and the last official evidence of the subjection of Virginia to Great Britain disappeared. Another body met on the same day to inaugurate the new era of independence. Public opinion had unwillingly reached the point of desiring separation. It was dominated by the wealthy and educated men, and was in consequence conservative, and clung to the hope of an amicable settlement of differences; but events forced the people into a position of irrevocable rebellion. The final circumstances were: September 1, 1775, Lord Dunmore, the royal governor, seized the printing-press of John Holt because of his seditious articles; October 26, George Nicholas fired the first shot of the Revolution at one of Dunmore's tenders sent to destroy the town of Hampton; November 7, Dunmore issued his infamous proclamation, urging "all indented servants, negroes or others," to secure their freedom by joining in the forcible reduction of the colony; December 8, Leslie's attack on Woodford near Norfolk was repulsed; January 1, 1776, Norfolk, the largest city in Virginia, was bombarded and burned.

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