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sharp-spoken resolutions declaring their own rights and defending Massachusetts. The result was a dissolution. Thereupon the burgesses repaired to the Raleigh tavern, where they adopted a set of non-importation resolutions and formed an associa. tion. The resolutions were offered by Washington, and were the result of his quiet country talks with Mason. When the moment for action arrived, Washington came naturally to the front, and then returned quietly to Mount Vernon, once more to about his business and watch the threatening political horizon. Virginia did not live up to this first non-importation agreement, and formed another a year later. But Washington was not in the habit of presenting resolutions merely for effect, and there was nothing of the actor in his composition. His resolutions meant business, and he lived up to them rigidly himself. Neither tea nor any of the proscribed articles were allowed in his house. Most of the leaders did not realize the seriousness of the situation, but Washington, looking forward with clear and sober gaze, was in grim earnest, and was fully conscious that when he offered his resolutions the colony was trying the last peaceful remedy, and that the next step would be war.
Still he went calmly about his many affairs as usual, and gratified the old passion for the frontier by a journey to Pittsburgh for the sake of lands and soldiers' claims, and thence down the Ohio and into the wilderness with his old friends the trap
pers and pioneers. He visited the Indian villages as in the days of the French mission, and noted in the savages an ominous restlessness, which seemed, like the flight of birds, to express the dumb instinct of an approaching storm. The clouds broke away somewhat under the kindly management of Lord Botetourt, and then gathered again more thickly on the accession of his successor, Lord Dunmore. With both these gentlemen Washington was on the most friendly terms. He visited them often, and was consulted by them, as it behooved them to consult the strongest man within the limits of their government. Still he waited and watched, and scanned carefully the news from the North. Before long he heard that tea-chests were floating in Boston harbor, and then from across the water came intelligence of the passage of the Port Bill and other measures destined to crush to earth the little rebel town.
When the Virginia assembly met again, they proceeded to congratulate the governor on the arrival of Lady Dunmore, and then suddenly, as all was flowing smoothly along, there came a letter through the corresponding committee which Washington had helped to establish, telling of the measures against Boston. Everything else was thrown aside at once, a vigorous protest was entered on the journal of the House, and June 1st, when the Port Bill was to go into operation, was appointed a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer. The first result was prompt dissolution of the assem
bly. The next was another meeting in the long room of the Raleigh tavern, where the Boston bill was denounced, non-importation renewed, and the committee of correspondence instructed to take steps for calling a general congress.
Events were beginning to move at last with perilous rapidity. Washington dined with Lord Dunmore on the evening of that day, rode with him, and appeared at her ladyship’s ball the next night. It was not his way to bite his thumb at men from whom he differed politically, nor to call the motives of his opponents in question. But when the 1st of June arrived, he noted in his diary that he fasted all day and attended the appointed services. He always meant what he said, being of a simple nature, and when he fasted and prayed there was something ominously earnest about it, something that his excellency the governor, who liked the society of this agreeable man and wise counsellor, would have done well to consider and draw conclusions from, and which he probably did not heed at all. He might well have reflected, as he undoubtedly failed to do, that when men of the George Washington type fast and pray on account of political misdoings, it is well for their opponents to look to it carefully
Meantime Boston had sent forth appeals to form a league among the colonies, and thereupon another meeting was held in the Raleigh tavern, and a letter was dispatched advising the burgesses to consider this matter of a general league and take
the sense of their respective counties. Virginia and Massachusetts had joined hands now, and they were sweeping the rest of the continent irresistibly forward with them. As for Washington, he returned to Mount Vernon and at once set about taking the sense of his county, as he had agreed. Before doing so he had some correspondence with his old friend Bryan Fairfax. The Fairfaxes naturally sided with the mother country, and Bryan was much distressed by the course of Virginia, and remonstrated strongly, and at length by letter, against violent measures. Washington replied to him : “Does it not appear as clear as the sun in its meridian brightness that there is a regular, systematic plan formed to fix the right and practice of taxation on us? Does not the uniform conduct of Parliament for some years past confirm this? Do not all the debates, especially those just brought to us in the House of Commons, on the side of government expressly declare that America must be taxed in aid of the British funds, and that she has no longer resources within herself? Is there anything to be expected from petitioning after this ? Is not the attack upon the liberty and property of the people of Boston, before restitution of the loss to the India Company was demanded, a plain and selfevident proof of what they are aiming at? Do not the subsequent bills (now I dare say acts) for depriving the Massachusetts Bay of its charter, and for transporting offenders into other colonies, or to Great Britain for trial, where it is impossible
from the nature of the thing that justice can be obtained, convince us that the administration is determined to stick at nothing to carry its point? Ought we not, then, to put our virtue and fortitude to the severest test ?” He was prepared, he continued, for anything except confiscating British debts, which struck him as dishonorable. These were plain but pregnant questions, but what we mark in them, and in all his letters of this time, is the absence of constitutional discussion, of which America was then full. They are confined to a direct presentation of the broad political question, which underlay everything. Washington always went straight to the mark, and he now saw, through all the dust of legal and constitutional strife, that the only real issue was whether America was to be allowed to govern herself in her own way or not. In the acts of the ministry he perceived a policy which aimed at substantial power, and he believed that such a policy, if insisted on, could have but one result.
The meeting of Fairfax County was held in due course, and Washington presided. The usual resolutions for self-government and against the vindictive Massachusetts measures were adopted. Union and non-importation were urged ; and then the congress, which they advocated, was recommended to address a petition and remonstrance to the king, and ask him to reflect that “ from our sovereign there can be but one appeal.” Everything was to be tried, everything was to be done, but the ultie