Pendleton, Edmund

Pendleton, Edmund,

1721–1803, American jurist and political leader in the American Revolution, b. Caroline co., Va. He began law practice in 1741 and was elected (1752) to the Virginia house of burgesses, where, although a leading conservative, he became an outstanding opponent of British colonial policies. Pendleton was a member of the Virginia committee of correspondence, delegate to the First Continental Congress (1774–75), head of the Virginia committee of safety (1775), and president of the convention (1776) that adopted his resolution instructing Virginia delegates to the Continental Congress to propose independence from Britain. After independence he was elected speaker of the new house of delegates. With Thomas Jefferson and George Wythe he completed (1779) the revision of the state's laws and was president of the court of appeals from 1779 to 1789 and of the reorganized supreme court of appeals from 1789 till his death. In 1788 he presided over the state convention that ratified the U.S. Constitution.


See his letters and papers ed. by D. J. Mays (2 vol., 1967); biography by Mays (2 vol., 1952).

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Pendleton, Edmund

(1721–1803) jurist, Revolutionary patriot; born in Caroline County, Va. His father died the year he was born. He worked as a law clerk and was admitted to the bar in 1745. Although he did not come from wealth, he led the conservatives' party in Virginia and opposed Patrick Henry on almost every question except the goal of American freedom. He sat in the Continental Congress (1774, 1775) and was president of the Virginia convention of 1776 that called for a declaration of independence. He was Speaker of the House of Delegates (1776), president of the Virginia constitutional convention (1788), and worked for the adoption of the new federal Constitution. He served as president of the Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals (1779–1803).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.