resolutions respecting the Stamp Act, were introduced, and was one of those who, fired by the wonderful eloquence of the orator on that occasion, boldly voted in support of them.*

Mr. Braxton was a member of the Virginia Convention in 1769, when Lord Botetourt, one of the best disposed royal governors that ever ruled in Virginia, suddenly dissolved it, in consequence of some acts therein which he deemed treasonable. Mr. Braxton was one of the members who immediately retired to a private room and signed a non-importation agreement. Lord Botetourt died toward the close of 1770, and was succeeded by Lord Dunmore, a man of very defective judgment and unyielding disposition, whose unpopular management greatly increased the spirit of opposition to royal misrule in Virginia. During the interval between the death of Botetourt and the arrival of Dunmore, Mr. Braxton held the office of high sheriff of the county where he resided, but he refused to hold it under the new governor. He was one of the eighty-nine members of the Assembly who, on the dissolution thereof by Governor Dunmore, in the summer of 1774, recommended a general convention of the people of Virginia, to meet at Williamsburg. They did so, and elected delegates to the Continental Congress, which met at Philadelphia on the fourth of the month following. Mr. Braxton was a member of that convention. When, in 1777, the attempt of Lord Dunmore to take

* The eloquence of Henry on that occasion, fell like successive thunderbolts on the ears of the timid Assembly. "It was in the midst of the magnificent debate on those resolutions," says Mr. Wirt, "while, he was descanting on the tyranny of the obnoxious Act, that he exclaimed, in a voice of thunder, and with the look of a God; Cæsar had his Brutus, Charles the First his Cromwell -and George the Third' Treason!' cried the Speaker-'treason, treason,' echoed from every part of the House. It was one of those trying moments which are decisive of character. Henry faltered not for an instant; but rising to a loftier altitude, and fixing on the Speaker an eye of the most determined fire, he finished the sentence with the firmest emphasis-and George the Third-may profit by their example. If that be treason, make the most of it.'"

the ammunition from the public magazines on board the Fowey ship-of-war, then lying off Williamsburg, excited the people to the highest pitch, and threatened open rebellion and armed resistance,* Mr. Braxton, by a wise and prudent course, succeeded in quelling the disturbance, and in bringing about such an arrangement as quite satis fied the people, and probably saved the town from de struction.†

Mr. Braxton was an active member of the last House of Burgesses that convened under royal authority in Virginia, and he was a member of the committee of that Assembly to whom was referred the difficulty that existed between it and Governor Dunmore. It was while this committee was in conference, that the tumult above alluded to, and the abdication of the governor, took place, and this, of course, rendered further action quite unnecessary; for the governor refused to return to his palace, and the legislature, of course, would not go on board the vessel to meet him. By this abdication all power reverted to the people, and a Provincial Government was at once formed by a convention of the inhabitants, in which movement Mr. Braxton took a conspicuous part, and was chosen a representative in the newly formed Assembly.

In December, 1775, he was chosen a delegate to the Continental Congress to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of Peyton Randolph. He took an active part in favor of independence, and voted for and signed the

* Patrick Henry put himself at the head of a military company, and marched toward Williamsburg, to demand from Lord Dunmore the return of the powder. His company rapidly augmented in numbers as he approached the town, and he entered it at the head of an overwhelming force. The governor, finding resistance vain, finally agreed to pay for the powder, and was then allowed quietly to retire with his family on board the ship-of-war in the river.

†The captain of the Fowey had declared his intention to fire upon and destroy the town, if the governor should experience any personal violence, and he placed the broadside of his vessel parallel with the shore, and shotted his guns for the purpose.

Declaration. He remained in Congress during only one session, and then resumed his seat in the Virginia Legislature, where he continued with but little interruption, until 1785. In 1786, he was appointed a member of the council of the State, and held that station until 1791. He was elected to the same office in 1794, where he continued until within four days of his death. This event, which was occasioned by paralysis, occurred on the tenth day of October, 1797, when he was in the sixty-first year of his age.

Mr. Braxton was not a brilliant man, but he was a talented and very useful one. He possessed a highly cultivated mind, and an imagination of peculiar warmth and vigor, yet the crowning attribute of his character, was sound judgment and remarkable prudence and forethought. These, in a movement like the American Revolution, were essential elements in the characters of those who were the prominent actors, and well was it for them and for posterity, that a large proportion of not only the Signers to the Declaration of Independence, but those who were called to act in the councils of the nation, possessed these requisites to a remarkable degree. While fiery spirits were needed to arouse, and bold, energetic men were necessary to control and guide, the success of that rebellion, so far as human ken can penetrate, depended upon the calm judgment and well directed prudence of a great body of the patriots.

Of this class Mr. Braxton was a prominent one. His oratory, though not brilliant, was graceful and flowing, and it was persuasive in the highest degree. He always fixed the attention of his auditors and seldom failed to convince and lead them. In public, as well as in private life, his virtue and morality were above reproach, and as a public benefactor, his death was widely lamented.

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Ypm Hooper

ILLIAM HOOPER was born in Boston, Massachusetts, on the seventeenth day of June, 1742. His father was a Scotchman and a graduate of the University of Edinburgh. Soon after leaving that institution, he emigrated to America, and fixed his residence at Boston, where he was married. William was his first born, and he paid particular attention to his preparation for a collegiate course. He was placed under the charge of Mr. Lovell, then one of the most eminent instructors in the colony of Massachusetts Bay.

Having completed his preparatory studies, William was entered a pupil at Harvard University, where he remained a close and industrious student for three years, and in 1760 he graduated with distinguished honors.

His father designed him for the clerical profession, but as he evinced a decided preference for the bar, he was placed as a student in the office of the celebrated James Otis. On the completion of his studies, perceiving that the profession was quite full of practicians in Massachusetts, he went to North Carolina, where many of his Scotch relations resided, and began business in that province in 1767.

Mr. Hooper formed a circle of very polished acquaintances there, and he soon became highly esteemed among the literary men of the province. He rose rapidly in his profession, and in a very short time he stood at the head of the bar in that region. He was greatly esteemed by the officers of the government, and his success in the management of several causes, in which the government was his client, gave him much influence.

When, in 1770-"71, an insurrectionary movement was set on foot by a party of the people termed the "Regulators,"* Mr. Hooper took sides with the government, and

* This movement of the "Regulators" has been viewed in quite opposing lights; one party regarding them as only a knot of low-minded malcontents, who had everything to gain and nothing to lose, and who hoped by getting up an excitement, to secure something for themselves in the general scramble. This was the phase in which they appeared to Mr. Hooper, and thus regarding them, he felt it his duty to oppose them and maintain good order in the State. Others viewed them as patriots, impelled to action by a strong sense of wrong and injustice, the author of which was Governor Tryon, whose oppressive and cruel acts, even his partisans could not deny. From all the lights we have upon the subject, we cannot but view the movement as a truly patriotic one, and kindred to those which subsequently took place in Massachusetts and Virginia, when Boston harbor was made a teapot, and Patrick Henry drove the royal governor Dunmore from the Province of Virginia. Governor Tryon was a tyrant of the darkest hue, for he commingled, with his oppressions, acts of the grossest immorality and wanton cruelty. Although the "Regulators" were men moving in the common walks of life, (and doubtless many vagabonds enrolled themselves among them), yet the rules

« ForrigeFortsett »