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[Entered according to act of Congress, in the ye 1901, by John T. West and David G.
Pulliam, in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.]
SEP 15 1925
UNDER our popular institutions the deliberations of all political and governmental bodies afford lively incitements to interest and discussion among the people. This is true, because the people look upon these deliberations virtually as their own, as the delegates to these assemblies are the representatives of the people, and are supposed to perform what the people wish and authorize.
A peculiar interest has heretofore attached to the convocation of such bodies in Virginia, because the matters debated have usually been of large importance, and the delegates have seemingly tried in all the previous Conventions, save one—the Convention of 1867-68,--to register the will of the people of the State. This feeling has been intensified in all these gatherings, except the last named, by the splendid abilities, reputations and characters of the distinguished men who have served in the great Constitutional Conventions known to her history.
When we are approaching the time that another Constitutional Convention is to be held in this State, it should be interesting and profitable to recur to and study the most important of these popular assemblages of the past, and examine and briefly narrate the mode of formation, the principles that the several bodies sought to incorporate into our organic law, the procedure of the Conventions, and the incidents-political, biographical and social—that cluster around and make these renowned assemblies of Virginia's brilliant and patriotic sons illustrious in her annals.
It is proposed, in this book, to present these particulars concerning the five Constitutional Conventions of the State-the past Conventions of 1776, 1788, 1829–30, 1850-51, 1867–68—and the ensuing Convention of 1901. As the information here given and the characters here portrayed are of vast moment and interest, we trust our effort shall meet the approval, while it supplies the needs, of all persons interested in these celebrated representative bodies of the past, and the Constitutions they framed and presented to the people for adoption and ratification.
All the statements made in this volume have been verified, and are based upon the journals of the several Conventions, the Acts of the General Assembly, the laws of the State and her history; and every effort has been made to ensure accuracy and reliability as to all matters embraced in it.
We desire to express our thanks for and in consideration of the polite and valuable assistance of Mr. John M. French, of the city of Manchester, who has furnished us with brief sketches of many of the members of the several Conventions (not procurable from other sources), from the admirable biographical collection compiled by his father, the late Hon. S. Bassett French.