The Politics of Personalities, 1781-1783
THE WAR came late to the Chesapeake, but it came with a vengeance. Coastal plantations in Virginia and North Carolina suffered substantial damage, while military actions and Loyalist removals displaced population. British ships at the entrance to the bay effectively strangled trade and left planters desperately short of cash. But the emergency did force an end, at least temporarily, to political disputes, and in all three states there was general agreement on the need for debtor relief, even as the fighting died down after the fall of Yorktown.
Powerful personalities who had come to the forefront during the war dominated the political scene in each state -- Samuel Chase and Charles Carroll in Maryland; Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, and Benjamin Harrison in Virginia; Samuel Johnston and Willie Jones in North Carolina. Each was thought to command a personal following, though not one could claim control of his assembly. During the war these leaders had clashed frequently, sometimes violently, but in the final emergency their differences were composed. In the last months of the war all three states issued