Virginia Conventions

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Virginia Conventions

The Virginia Conventions were a series of five meetings that were held after the Boston Tea Party in which representatives from the colonies gathered to decide the future relations between the colonies and England.

The first convention, which opened August 1, 1774, in Williamsburg, Virginia, was the result of a serious conflict with England that had occurred three months earlier. On May 26, the Virginia legislature, the House of Burgesses, had declared a day of prayer and fasting to acknowledge the plight of Bostonians after the English had closed the port of Boston as punishment for the Boston Tea Party. The royal governor of Virginia, Lord Dunmore, ordered the House of Burgesses to be closed to discourage any display of sympathy for the rebellious Bostonians. Angered by Lord Dunmore's actions, the Virginia burgesses issued a plan for a meeting of representatives from all the colonies.

In August, the colonists met in Williamsburg and chose Peyton Randolph as their presiding officer. The convention adopted several resolutions including one on the nonimportation of English merchandise and another that said that the colonists should refuse to export colonial goods to England unless the English agreed to come to terms with them. Thomas Jefferson's work A Summary View of the Rights of British America, which was introduced at this convention, was used as a guideline at future meetings.

The second convention met in Richmond, Virginia, for a one-week period in 1775, from March 20 to March 27. At this convention, Patrick Henry initiated a program for defensive action and presented his celebrated "Give me liberty or give me death" speech, which inspired the colonists to follow the cause.

The third meeting was held in Richmond on July 17, 1775. There the representatives denounced the actions that the royal governor had taken against Virginia, including disbanding the assembly and mobilizing troops. When the governor fled to the sanctuary of an English ship, the convention became the governing force of Virginia. The delegates enacted legislation and established a Committee of Safety to direct military activities.

Williamsburg was the site of the fourth convention, which was held in December 1775. With Edmund Pendleton as president, the delegates empowered the Committee of Safety to be the source of governmental authority in Virginia.

By May 6, 1776, the date of the final convention, the colonists were moving determinedly toward complete independence from England. In Williamsburg, the delegates declared their desire for freedom in a statement issued to their congressional representatives. Virginia initiated the action, and on June 12, the convention ratified the Virginia Bill of Rights. This bill of rights served as a model for similar documents in the other colonies. Virginia was the first state to have a new constitution, and Patrick Henry served as the first governor under the new government.

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A Virginia convention has passed the Virginia Declaration of Rights on May 15, 1776.
On May 15, probably before knowing of this vote, the Virginia Convention appointed a committee to draft a bill of rights and a constitution.
Though Gutzman finds Madison's compromising position on the power of the slaveocracy at the Virginia Convention of 1829 and his failure to free his own slaves unworthy of his republican ideals, the author concludes admiringly with Madison's "Advice to My Country.
The Virginia Convention (June 5, 1788), in 9 THE DOCUMENTARY HISTORY OF THE RATIFICATION OF THE CONSTITUTION 943, 964 (John P.
But the Virginia convention remains in the hands of moderates.
of Western Ontario, Canada) collect selected speeches and debates from the Virginia convention, when disunionists in the state debated secession following Abraham Lincoln's election to the presidency.
He wrote to the Virginia Convention that a state constitution would be "a work of the most interesting nature," one that "every individual would wish to have his voice in.
For instance, in the West Virginia Convention of 1861-1863, John Powell sought to require the legislature to provide, '"within five years after the adoption of this Constitution"' (70) for "the establishment of a thorough and efficient system of free schools.
They are the motto of the State of Virginia, recommended to the Virginia Convention by George Mason (no doubt with one eye on George II) in 1776.
Day one will feature the collapse of royal government, depicting pivotal events during 1774 to 1776, including British Royal Governor Lord Dunmore's dismissal of the House of Burgesses and the convening of the first Virginia convention.
These include the English Bill of Rights (1689); the Virginia Declaration of Rights and Constitution (1776); the Philadelphia Constitutional Convention (1787); the Virginia Convention called to debate ratification of the Constitution (1788); the Bill of Rights, proposed in 1789 and ratified two years later; the Alien and Sedition Acts (1798); the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.
Despite his devotion to his family, Mason also was pulled by his country's needs, and reluctantly agreed to take Washington's place (who was by now commander of the Continental Army) at the Virginia Convention, July 1775.
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