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ton, Edmund Pendleton, Richard Henry Lee, and Patrick Henry. The convention, however, did not dissolve it. self, until it had entered into a solemn agreement, which it also recommended to the people, not to import Bri. tish merchandise or manufactures, nor to import, nor even use the article of tea; and in case the American grievances were not redressed before the tenth of the next August, to cease the exportation of tobacco, or any other article whatever, to Great Britain.
On the meeting of the first general congress at Philadelphia, on the fifth day of September, 1774, Peyton Randolph was called, by the united voice of the members, to preside over their deliberations. The character and proceedings of that august and enlightened assembly are so well known to the world, that to dwell upon them here would be superfluous. It may be permitted, however, to mention a remarkable occurrence which took place on the opening of congress, regarding as it does, a per sonage, respecting whom even trifles become interesting. It is related, on the authority of the venerable Charles Thompson, that, upon the house being summoned to prayers, and their chaplain having commenced the service, it was perceived, that of all the members present, George Washington was the only one who was upon his knees. A striking circumstance, certainly, and adding another trait to the character of a man, who seemed destined to be, in every situation, distinguished from his fellow mortals.
The severe indisposition of Mr. Randolph obliged him to retire from the chair on the 22d October of this year, and he was succeeded by the honourable Henry Middleton as president of congress. But his country was not yet to be deprived of his valuable services; on the 20th of March, 1775, he appeared as president of the convention of deputies, convened at the town of Richmond, and was again elected a delegate to the general congress which was to be held at Philadelphia, on the 10th of the following May. But, before he left Virginia a second : time, he had more than one occasion of displaying the uncommon moderation of his character.. About the mid. dle of April, the conduct of lord Dunmore, in clandestinely removing on board a ship of war, the powder of
the city, together with his violent menaces against Williamsburg, had necessarily excited the resentment of the people; they were even upon the point of entering his house in an armed body; and nothing, probably, but the timely interference of their venerated townsman, Randolph, would have saved the governor from their violence. A considerable number of the inhabitants of the upper country had also risen in arms. They assembled at Fredericksburg, and had just come to a decision to march towards Williamsburg, when Mr. Randolph arrived there on his way to Philadelphia. His advice, joined by that of his friend, Edmund Pendleton, had its usual influence, and the volunteer companies, generally, returned to their several homes. There was, however, a remarkable exception to this acquiescence: a small force, commanded by the warm and enthusiastic Patrick Henry, actually proceeded to within a few miles of Williamsburg; where their leader, before he would disband his troops, obtained, from the king's receiver-general, a bill for the value of the powder in question.
A few days after the meeting of congress, in May, 1775, on the arrival in America of what was called lord North's conciliatory proposition, Mr. Randolph again quitted the chair of congress, and repaired to Williamsburg, where lord Dunmore had summoned the house of burgesses to assemble on the first of June, in order that he might lay before them the proposition of the British minister. Mr. Randolph resumed his situation as speaker of the house, and, when the answer to lord North was to be given, anxious that its tone and spirit should be such as to have an effect upon those of the other colonies that would follow, and meet the feelings of the body he had left, he requested the aid of a younger and more ardent pen; and it is to the vigorous conception of Jefferson that we owe that bold and masterly production. The opposition to it was but feeble, and Mr. Randolph steadily supported, and carried it through the house, with a few softenings only, which it received, in its course, from the more timid members.
After the adjournment of the house of burgesses, he returped to the congress, which was still sitting at Phi. ladelphia. It was generally expected that Mr. Hancock, who had succeeded him as president, would have resigned the chair on his return. Mr. Randolph, however, took his seat as a member, and entered readily into all the momentous proceedings of that body. But he was not destined to witness the independence of the country he had loved and served so faithfully. A stroke of apoplexy deprived him of life on the twenty-first of October, 1775, at the age of fifty-two years. He had accepted an invitation to dine with other company near Philadelphia. He fell from his seat, and immediately expircd. His corpse was taken to Virginia for interment.
Peyton Randolph was, indeed, a most excellent man, and no one was ever more beloved and respected by his friends. In manner, he was, perhaps, somewhat cold and reserved towards strangers, but of the sweetest affability when ripened into acquaintance; of attic pleasantry in conversation, and always good humoured and conciliatory. He was liberal in his expenses, but so strictly correct also, that he never found himself involved in pecuniary embarrassment. His heart was always open to the amiable sensibilities of our nature; and he performed as many good acts as could have been done with his fortune, without injuriously impairing his means of continuing them.
As a lawyer, he was well read, and possessed a strong and logical mind. His opinions were highly regarded. They presented always a learned and sound view of the subject, but generally, too, betraying an unwillingness to go into its thorough development. For, being heavy and inert in body, he was rather too indolent and careless for business, which occasioned him to have a smaller portion of it than his abilities would have otherwise commanded. Indeed, after his appointment as attorney. general, he did not seem to court, nor scarcely to welcome business. It ought, however, to be said of him to his honour, that in the discharge of that office he considered himself equally charged with the rights of the colony as with those of the crown: and that, in criminal prosecutions, exaggerating nothing, he aimed oply to arrive at a candid and just state of the transaction, believing it more a duty to save an innocent, than 19 convict a guilty man.
As a politician, he was firm in his principles, and Steady in his opposition to foreign usurpation; but, with the other older members of the assembly, generally yielding the lead to the younger; contenting himself with tempering their extreme ardour, and so far mode, rating their pace, as to prevent their going too much in advance of public sentiment. He presided in the house of burgesses, and subsequently in the general congress, with uncommon dignity; and, although not eloquent, yet when he spoke, his matter was so substantial, that no man commanded more attention. This, joined with the universal knowledge of his worth, gave him a weight in the assembly of Virginia, which few ever attained.
He left no issue, and his fortune was bequeathed to his widow, and his nephew, the late Edmund Randolph.
REED, JOSEPH, president of the state of Pennsylvania, was born in the state of New Jersey, the 27th of August, A. D. 1741. In the year 1757, at the early age of sixteen, he graduated with considerable honour, at Princeton college. Having studied the law with Richard Stockton, Esq., an eminent counsellor of that place, he visited England, and pursued his studies in the temple, until the disturbances which first broke out in the colonics on the passage of the stamp act. On his return to his native country, he commenced the practice of the law, and bore a distinguished part in the political commotions of the day. Having married the daughter of Dennis de Berdt, an eminent merchant of London, and, before the American revolution, agent for the province of Massachusetts, he soon after returned to America, and practised the law with eminent success in the city of Philadelphia. Finding that reconciliation with the mother country was not to be accomplished without the sacrifice of honour as 'well as liberty, he became one of the most zealous advo. cates of independence. In 1774, he was appointed one of the committee of correspondence of Philadelphia, and afterwards president of the convention, and, subsequent
ly, member of the continental congress. On the forma tion of the army, he resigned a lucrative practice, which he was enjoying at Philadelphia, and repaired to the camp at Cambridge, where he was appointed aid-decamp and secretary to general Washington; and although merely acting as a volunteer, he displayed in this campaign, on many occasions, the greatest courage and mi. litary ability. At the opening of the campaign in 1776, on the promotion of general Gates, he was advanced, at the special recommendation of general Washington, to the post of adjutant-general, and bore an active part in this campaign; his local knowledge of the country being eminently useful in the affair at Trenton, and at the battle of Princeton: in the course of these events, and the constant follower of his fortunes, he enjoyed the confidence and esteem of the commander in chief. At the end of the year he resigned the office of adjutant-general, and was immediately appointed a general officer, with a view to the command of cavalry; but owing to the difficulty of raising troops, and the very detached parties in which they were employed, he was prevented from acting in that station. He still attended the army, and from the entrance of the British army into Pennsylvania, till the close of the campaign in 1777, he was seldom absent. He was engaged at the battle of Germantown, and at White Marsh assisted general Potter in drawing up the militia. In 1778, he was appointed a member of congress, and signed the articles of confederation. About this time the British commissioners, governor John. stone, lord Carlisle, and Mr. Eden, invested with power to treat of peace, arrived in America, and governor Johnstone, the principal of them, addressed private let. ters to Henry Laurens, Joseph Reed, Francis Dana, and Robert Morris, offering them many advantages in case they would lend themselves to his views. Private information was communicated from governor Johnstone to general Reed, that in case he would exert his abilities to promote a reconciliation, ten thousand pounds sterling, and the most valuable office in the colonies, were at his disposal; to which Mr. Reed made this memorable reply: “ that he was not worth purchasing; but that, such as he was, the king of Great Britain was not rich enough