Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/45

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The Virginia Convention of 1785.

It was on the 5th of this month that delegates from twelve of the thirteen Colonies assembled, and Peyton Randolph, a Virginian, was called upon to preside over its deliberations. It is not my purpose to recapitulate the stirring events of the period that flashed across the horizon like the shifting scenes in a kaleidoscopic panorama—the Boston massacre, the battle of Concord, Lexington and other events that resulted in the appointment of Washington to the command of the armies of the embryo republic. On the fourth of July, 1776, the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed. Eight days thereafter the committee appointed for that purpose reported the articles of confederation, under which the war of the Revolution was waged and independence achieved. The war of the Revolution itself is an interesting theme and well worthy of a separate paper at some future date. The struggles, sufferings, the heroic sacrifices, the patriotism displayed, all call for admiration and evince the devotion of our forefathers to the principles they avowed and so strenuously maintained.

But whilst the sufferings of the Colonial troops at Valley Forge and throughout the struggle were great, I question if they were more severe or more heroically borne than the ordeal through which many of us passed during the second struggle for constitutional liberty —during the trying period of 1861-65.

At the termination of the struggle for independence the Colonies were confronted with chaotic conditions. Bills of Credit had been emitted known as "Continental Money." not including what was termed the "New Emission," amounting to two hundred millions of dollars—a vast sum for those days and values at that time and the poverty of the young republic. Public credit was exhausted; general stagnation existed; commerce was languishing; discontent prevailed; the confederation was inadequate to properly conduct the government or enforce the laws. The system was about to dissolve in its own inanity and imbecility. Congress had made requisitions upon the States for their quota to meet the public debt, some had paid in part, others refused to pay—there existed no adequate power to enforce payment. Large sums were due France and Holland upon which even the interest had not been paid. The individual indebtedness to the English merchants was over ten million