Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 36.djvu/60

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44 Southern Historical Society Papers.

adhered to the standard of England. The son, undaunted by the conduct of his father, who is said to have disinherited him for refusing to follow his example, but impelled by patriotic motives, hastened to the Continental army, then encamped on the heights of Boston, and offered his services in her defence. This manly course tendered to his advantage and he was looked upon with great iavnr and pride by the people. He was elected from Williamsburg to the Convention of 1776. He was successively elected Attorney-General and to Congress, and in 1787 he was sent to the General Convention which framed the Federal Con- stitution. He was at this time (1788) Governor of the Com- monwealth. He was, at one time, opposed to the Constitution, and as one of the delegates from Virginia to the General Con- vention, refused to sign. He was now an advocate for its adop- tion and was placed in a delicate and embarrassing position, which Henry at once seized on and twitted him with. A spirited, and at times an acrimonious debate ensued, in which the Gov- ernor lost his temper and Henry rather got the better of him. Randolph was both argumentative and logical in his discourses. To Henry's inquiry, already adverted to, why, "We, the people?" he replied: "I ask why not? The government is for the people, and the misfortune was that the people had no agency in the government before * * * What harm is there in consulting the people on the construction of a government by which they are to be bound? Is it fair? Is it unjust? If the govern- ment is to be binding upon the people are not the people the proper persons to examine its merits or defects? I take this to- be one of the least and most trival objections that will be made to the Constitution." The bold and sarcastic tone in which he answered the inquiries of Henry told that he defied the attacks of the orator of the people. The personalities indulged in came near culminating in a hostile meeting. Randolph ended a long and brilliant debate in repy to Henry's charge of his inconsis- tency in opposing the Constitution at one time and advocating it at another. In a touching valedictory in justification of his conduct, said he: "But although for every other act of my life I shall seek refuge in the mercy of God, for this I request jus- tice only. I went to the Federal Convention with the strongest affection for the Union ; that I acted there in full conformity