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In March of 1775, the delegates met at St. John's Church to discuss what to do about the British. The conservative delegates wanted to give King George III time to respond to their latest letters petitioning reconciliation. They did not want a war. Henry tactfully honored their intentions but politely disagreed because "I have but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past."
He then asks the president to consider what the British have done so far, and how they have responded to their petitions for reconciliation. The British are clearly preparing for war as they speak, and these, Henry points out, are not the actions of a king who has any interest in making peace; they are, actually, the last resort of a man who is intent upon forcing the British colonies into submission. Thus, Henry argues, it is past time to raise militias and prepare for the colonies' defense.
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