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and afterwards, for securing this same harmony of action and unity of purpose between the several colonies, upon the suggestion of Jefferson's resolution adopted by the band of patriots met in the Apollo Room in the Raleigh Tavern at Williamsburg. During the interregnum between recognized British authority and the newly organized American authority, these committees constituted the real government. Through them the American people learned, in nearly all of the colonies, the lesson of the capacity of the people to govern themselves directly, even without regularly constituted over-lords or governors. It is no wonder that Daniel Leonard, the great Tory and British local leader, said of these committees, “This is the foulest, subtlest, and most venomous serpent ever issued from the egg of sedition. It is the source of the rebellion. I saw the small seed when it was planted; it was a grain of mustard. I have watched the plant until it has become a tree.”
The resolution to make these committees of correspondence intercolonial was, at Jefferson's request, offered in the Assembly by Dabney Carr, the friend and later the brother-in-law of Jefferson, with whom Jefferson had so often sat upon the “Little Mountain," in closest political and intellectual communion, in a sweetness of friendship seldom rivaled between men.
Now comes another meeting of the members of the House of Burgesses at the Apollo Room in the Raleigh Tavern and the formation of another association, entered into by all of them, declaring it unpatriotic to buy British East Indian tea or other commodities; that "an attack upon one of the colonies was an attack upon
all," and directing the Corresponding Committee of the State to devise with the other committees of the other colonies a general annual congress, and at the same time calling a Virginia convention to be held at Williamsburg on August 1st, to appoint delegates to this Congress. Thus was formally conceived our Union, destined to grow and strengthen, in due process of development, until it should become indissoluble.
Massachusetts, in this crisis of her history, would probably have stood alone but for the committees of correspondence — really revolutionary committees — which were keeping in elbow touch with one another from what is now Vermont down to what is now Georgia.
The action of the Government in closing the port of Boston constituted a declaration of war upon all America, although perhaps no man in the British ministry, or in the confidence of the King, so understood it.
It is wonderful how everything goes back to this Apollo Room in the Raleigh Tavern, where Jefferson was one of the ruling spirits. For example, the movement towards a Continental Congress came first from New York. Coming from that State, only partially loyal to the American cause — perhaps not at that time loyal by a majority vote - it would have died still-born, had it not been taken up by the members of the Legislature of Virginia — prorogued and adjourned — but still sitting in solemn voluntary session - in the Raleigh Tavern.
It was on the 14th day of May, 1776, that the selfreconstituted Legislature of Virginia unanimously voted these instructions to its delegates: “To propose to that respectable body” (meaning by that respectable body, the Continental Congress) “to declare the United Colonies free and independent States," and to "give the assent of this Colony to measures to form foreign alliances and a confederation, provided the power of forming government for the internal regulations of each colony be left to the colonial legislatures." Here is the germ of our dual system of government — federal in foreign and inter-state matters, state in domestic affairs. In all your study of American history, keep this italicized proviso in your minds. It will explain
Revolutionary intimidation, it must be confessed, reigned foot-loose throughout America. The bold, patriotic and liberty-loving were not everywhere in a majority. The conditions were such, as Fiske says, that "neither councillors, nor judges, neither sheriffs nor jurymen, could be found to serve under the royal commission” to “execute the Regulating Act in Massachusetts.” He further adds that for nine months this state of seeming anarchy continued, and that "yet the affairs of every-day life had gone on without friction or disturbance."
This too recalls the condition of affairs in the South in '74 and '75, when, first in one place and then in another, all carpet-bag authority had been intimidated into flight or quiescence, and yet afterwards peace and law and order reigned. Both conditions, as well as what happened in the early history of California, are high tributes to the capacity of the American people for self-government.
The instructions of Albemarle County to Mr. Thomas
od order reigned
history of Sannican people 105 Jefferson and Mr. John Walker, their two members of the House of Burgesses and their two deputies to the convention, are worth regarding, especially as from the style and the surroundings they were evidently written by Mr. Jefferson. They are as follows:
“Resolved, That the several inhabitants of the several States of British America are subject to the laws which they adopted at their first settlement, and to such others as have been since made by their respective Legislatures, duly constituted and appointed with their own consent. That no other Legislature whatever can rightly exercise authority over them, and that these privileges they hold as common rights of mankind, confirmed by political constitutions they have respectfully assumed, and also by several charters of compact from the Crown.”
Notice he goes back to the “common rights of mankind,” which are “confirmed” — not created by charters and “political constitutions."
The language, “these privileges they hold as common rights of mankind,” is, so far as I can discover, the first basing of the American cause upon “the rights of man," rather than upon the inherited legal rights of Englishmen. This was to grow into an assertion of the inherent right of self-government vested in every community, and by logical consequence, into the claim of right upon the part of any community to throw off any government, which, in its opinion, had ceased to subserve the purpose of all government, to wit: securing and maintaining the happiness and the liberties of those governed.
Jefferson in his “Memoir” says, that these were his views from the very first dawn of the dispute, but that he had then “never been able to get anyone to agree with him except Mr. Wythe.”
Patrick Henry, the controlling genius in Hanover County, and probably the dictator of its resolutions, did not go so far. We find these resolutions asserting only “the privileges and immunities of their fellowsubjects in England,” etc.
The resolutions from Fairfax County, where George Washington presided over the meeting, used language not so strong as that of Hanover.
The Virginia Convention met at the prescribed time. Jefferson was prevented by illness from attending. He had prepared, to be offered to the Convention, a draft of instructions to the Virginia members of Congress. He had forwarded a copy to Peyton Randolph and one to Henry. The fate of these resolutions we will give in Mr. Jefferson's own language:
“They were written in haste, with some uncertainties and inaccuracies about historical facts, which I neglected at the moment, because I thought they could be readily corrected at the convention. ... Peyton Randolph informed the convention that he had received such a paper from a member, prevented by sickness from offering it in his place, and he laid it on the table for perusal. It was read generally by the members, approved by many, though thought too bold for the present state of things; but they printed it in pamphlet form, under the title of 'A Summary View of the Rights of British America. It found its way to England and was taken up by the opposition, interpolated a little by Mr. Burke, so as to make it answer opposition purposes” (in England) “and in that form ran rapidly through several editions. . . . I was informed afterwards by Peyton Randolph, that it had procured me the honor of having my name inserted in a long list of proscriptions, enrolled in a bill of attainder, which was commenced in one of the Houses of Parliament, but was suppressed in embryo by the hasty step of events, which warned them to be a little cautious. . . . Tamer sentiments were preferred, and, I believe, wisely preferred; the leap I proposed being too long, as yet, for the mass of our citizens. The distance