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Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century biographies contain errors and bias. We rely on volunteers to edit the historic biographies on a continual basis. If you would like to edit this biography please submit a rewritten biography in text form . If acceptable, the new biography will be published above the 19th Century Appleton's Cyclopedia Biography citing the volunteer editor





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Edmund Pendleton

PENDLETON, Edmund, statesman, born in Caroline county, Virginia, 9 September, 1721; died in Richmond, Virginia, 23 October, 1803. His grandfather, Philip, who was descended from Pendleton, of Manchester County, Lancashire, came from Norwich, England, to this country in 1676. Edmund had few early educational advantages, and began his career in the clerk's office of Caroline county, Virginia He was licensed to practise law in 1744, became a county justice in 1751, and in the following year was elected to the house of burgesses. He took an active part in the debates of that body, and in 1764 was one of the committee to memorialize the king. During the session of 1766 he gave the opinion " that the stamp-act was void, for want of constitutional authority in parliament to pass it," and voted in the alternative on the resolution that the "act did not bind the inhabitants of Virginia." He was one of the committee of correspondence in 1773, county lieutenant of Caroline in 1774, a member of the colonial convention of the latter year that was consequent on the Boston port bill, and was chosen by that body to the first Continental congress. Accordingly, in company with George Washington, Peyton Randolph, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Harrison, and Richard Henry Lee, he attended in Philadelphia in 1774. As president of the Virginia convention he was at the head of the government of the colony from 1775 till the creation of the Virginia constitution in 1776, and was appointed president of the committee of safety in that year. In May, 1776, he presided again over the convention, and drew up the celebrated resolutions by which the delegates from Virginia were instructed to propose a declaration of independence in congress, using the words that were afterward incorporated almost verbatim in the declaration, "that the delegation be instructed to propose to declare the United Colonies free and independent states, absolved from all allegiance or dependence upon the crown or parliament of Great Britain." As the leader of the cavaliers or planter class, he was the opponent of Patrick Henry, and as the head of the committee of safety he was active in the control of the military and naval operations and of the foreign correspondence of Virginia. On the organization of the state government he was chosen speaker of the house, and appointed, with Chancellor George Wythe and Thomas Jefferson, to revise the colonial laws. In March, 1'777, he was crippled for life by a fall from his horse, but in the same year he was re-elected speaker of the house of burgesses, and on the organization of the chancery court he was unanimously chosen its president. In 1779, on the establishment of the court of appeals, he became president of that body, holding office until his death. He presided over the State convention that ratified the constitution of the United States in 1788. His masterly advocacy of the document gained him the encomium from Jefferson that " taken all in all, he was the ablest man in debate that I ever met with." "There is no quarrel," said Pendleton, "between government and liberty; the former is the shield and protector of the latter. Who but the people can delegate powers, or have a right to form government ? The question must be between this government and the confederation: the latter is no government at all. Government, to be effectual, must have complete powers, a legislature, a judiciary, and executive. No gentleman in this committee would agree to vest these three powers in one body. The proposed government is not a consolidated government. It is, on the whole complexion of it, a government of laws, and not of men." He was appointed judge of the United States district court of Virginia in 1789, but declined to serve, and did not hold office again. In 1798 when a rupture with France was imminent, he published a pamphlet in which he protested against "war with a sister republic." Pendleton county, Virginia, is named in his honor. Washington Irving said of him: "He was schooled in public life, a veteran in council, with native force of intellect, and habits of deep reflection."--His nephew, Henry, jurist, born in Culpeper county, Virginia, in 1750; died in Greenville district, South Carolina, 10 January, 1789, was educated in Virginia. With his brother Nathaniel he joined the Culpeper minute men, the first patriot regiment that was organized in the south. At the close of the war he settled in South Carolina, and was elected a judge of the law court. He originated the county-court act of South Carolina, which was passed on 17 March, 1785. He was one of the three judges that were appointed to revise the laws of the state in the same year, and a member of the Constitutional convention in 1788. Pendleton county, South Carolina, is named in his honor.--Edmund's nephew, Nathaniel, jurist, born in Culpeper county, Virginia, in 1756; died in New York city, 20 October, 1821, entered the Revolutionary army at nineteen years of age, served with the rank of major on the staff of General Nathanael Greene, and received the thanks of congress for his gallantry at Eutaw. He afterward settled in Georgia, studied law, and became United States district judge. Washington suggested his name for the office of secretary of state, but the proposition was opposed by Alexander Hamilton, who said of him: "Judge Pendleton writes well, is of respectable abilities, and a gentleman-like, smooth man, but I fear he has been somewhat tainted with the prejudices of Mr. Jefferson and Mr. Madison." Later they became personal friends, and Mr. Pendleton acted as Hamilton's second in his duel with Aaron Burr. Mr. Pendleton was a delegate to the convention that framed the constitution of the United States in 1787, but, not being present on the last day of its proceedings, failed to sign. He removed to New York city in 1796, married Susan, daughter of Dr. John Bard, of New York, attained to eminence at the bar, and became a judge of Dutchess county. --His son, Nathaniel Greene, congressman, born in Savannah, Georgia, in August, 1793; died in Cincinnati, Ohio, 16 June, 1861, removed with his father to New York city in 1776, was graduated at Columbia in 1813, and the same year joined the army as aide to his kinsman, General Edmund Pendleton Gaines, serving till the close of the war. He removed to Ohio in 1818, settled in the practice of law, was a member of the state senate in 1825-'6, and in 1840 was elected to congress as a Whig, serving from 1841 till his voluntary retirement in 1843. He then resumed his profession, in which he continued until his death.--Nathaniel Greene's son, George Hunt, senator, born in Cincinnati, Ohio, 25 July, 1825, received an academic education, studied law, and was admitted to the bar in Cincinnati. He was a member of the state senate in 1854-'5, and was elected to congress as a Democrat in 1856, serving till 1865. He was a member of the committee on military affairs during each term, and in the 38th congress served on the committee of ways and means, and as chairman of the special committee on admitting members of the cabinet to the floor of the house of representatives. He was nominated for the vice-presidency on the ticket with George B. McClellan for president in 1864. He was a member of the Philadelphia loyalist convention in 1866, an unsuccessful Candidate for governor of Ohio in 1869, and in the same year became president of the Kentucky railroad company. He was elected United States senator in 1878, and during his senatorial service he was chairman of the committee on civil-service reform, and as such, on 26 June, 1882, introduced a resolution that instructed the committee " to inquire whether any attempt is being made to levy and collect assessments for political partisan purposes from any employes of the government." In 1846 he married Alice, daughter of Francis Scott Key. At the expiration of his term, in 1885, he was appointed by President Cleveland United States minister to Germany.--Edmund's great nephew, William Nelson, soldier, born in Richmond, Virginia, 26 December, 1809 ; died in Lexington, Virginia, 15 January, 1883, was graduated at the United States military academy in 1830, served as assistant professor of mathematics there in 1831-'2, and the next year resigned to become professor of mathematics in Bristol college, Tennessee. He was ordained deacon in the Protestant Episcopal church in 1837, priest in 1838, and the next year established the Episcopal high-school in Alexandria, Virginia, and became its principal. In 1853 he accepted the charge of the church in Lexington. He joined the Confederate army as captain of artillery in 1861, was made colonel the same year, and shortly afterward appointed chief of artillery to the Army of the Shenandoah. He was commissioned brigadier-general in March, 1862, and, with three exceptions, participated in every battle that was fought by the Army of Northern Virginia front the first battle of Bull Run to Appomattox, where, with General John B. Gordon and General James Longstreet, he was appointed to negotiate the terms of surrender. He then returned to his charge in Lexington, which he had continued to hold during the civil war, and so remained until his death. He was largely instrumental in building the Lee memorial church in that town. He received the degree of D. D. from Alexandria theological seminary in 1868. Dr. Pendleton published "Science a Witness for the Bible" (London, 1860). His only son, Alexander S., served on General "Stonewall" Jackson's staff until his death, and subsequently as adjutant-general to General Jubal A. Early and General Richard S. Ewell. He was killed at Fisher's Hill, Virginia, 22 September, 1864.

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