There was a battle between the Federalists (for the Constitution) and Anti-Federalists (against the Constitution) in the Virginia Convention. The orator for the Anti-Federalists was Patrick Henry, arguably the most distinguished orator of the time. Who cannot recall his passionate “Give me liberty…or give me death!” oration? James Madison, Jr. was his opponent for the Federalists. While neither dynamic nor a powerful orator, Madison used intellect and logic to counter Henry’s arguments. The end result of much argument, however, was Virginia’s ratification of our United States Constitution.
On exhibit (photograph), courtesy of Mrs. Helen. M. Taylor, is Edmund Pendleton’s (1721-1803) copy of the 1788 ratifying document. Pendleton, one of the most accomplished attorneys of the American Revolutionary era and author of numerous documents and resolutions key to Virginia’s governance, served as the President of the Virginia Convention. Following the ratification by Virginia, he became the head of Virginia’s judiciary department, the Court of Appeals; serving until his death (10/23/1803). He had been appointed a judge for the United States District Court of Virginia by George Washington, but declined the appointment.
Edmund Pendleton’s copy of the ratifying document; courtesy of H. M. Taylor.