In 1776, Henrico representatives Richard Adams and Nathaniel Wilkenson participated in the Fifth Virginia Convention, which voted to send delegates to the Continental Congress to propose separation from the British. That proposal led to the Declaration of Independence.

During the Revolutionary War, when Benedict Arnold’s invading army occupied Richmond in January 1781, the Henrico militia was called to active duty. During the brief British occupation of Richmond, many Henrico court records were destroyed.

Three months later when Arnold’s men, now part of British forces led by General William Phillips, approached Richmond for a second time, the British were stopped by the sight of local militiamen and American Continental troops led by a young Frenchman, the Marquis de Lafayette. Outnumbered, Lafayette abandoned Richmond when General Charles Cornwallis occupied the town in June 1781. Cornwallis then retired to Williamsburg and later to Yorktown. After being surrounded there by General George Washington and his French allies, Cornwallis surrendered, effectively ending the American Revolution.

The Virginia Convention Of 1788

In 1788, the General Assembly called a special convention to consider the ratification of the proposed United States Constitution. Henrico sent Governor Edmund Randolph, who presided over the convention, and John Marshall, future chief justice, as delegates. After 25 days of heated debate, Virginia voted 89-79 in favor of ratification. Counted among the aye votes were Randolph and Marshall.