PENDLETON, EDMUND (1721-1803), American lawyer and statesman, was born, of English Royalist descent, in Caroline county, Virginia, on the 9th of September 1721. He was self-educated, but after reading law and being admitted to the bar (1744) his success was immediate. He served in the Virginia House of Burgesses from 1752 until the organization of the state government in 1776, was the recognized leader of the conservative Whigs, and took a leading part in opposing the British government. He was a member of the Virginia committee of correspondence in 1773, in 1774 was president of the Virginia provincial convention, and a member of the first Continental Congress. In 1776, as president of the provincial convention, which adopted a state constitution for Virginia, he drew up the instructions to the Virginia members of Congress directing them to advocate the independence of the American colonies. In the same year he became president of the Virginia committee of safety, and in October was chosen the first speaker of the House of Delegates. With Jefferson and Chancellor George Wythe he drew up a new law code for Virginia. He was president of the court of chancery in 1777-1788, and from 1779 until his death was president of the Virginia court of appeals. He was an enthusiastic advocate of the Federal constitution, and in 1 788 exerted strong influence to secure its ratification by his native state. He was a leader of the Federalist party in Virginia until his death at Richmond, Va., on the 23rd of October 1803.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)