In October of 1770, the beloved governor, Lord Botetourt died. His successor, the Earl of Dunmore, arrived in July of 1771. The Road to Revolution, 1773-1774 Virginia tobacco planters and merchants were not alone in their distress. From India came word of serious, even disastrous, troubles plaguing the East India Company.

At this period he made the discovery, or what he held to be the discovery, which governed his whole future career. He laid down the principle which was to give the clue to all his investigations; and, as he thought, required only to be announced to secure universal acceptance. When Bentham revolted against the intellectual food provided at school and college, he naturally took up the philosophy which at that period represented the really living stream of thought. To be a man of enlightenment in those days was to belong to the school of Locke. Locke represented reason, free thought, and the abandonment of prejudice. Besides Locke, he mentions Hume, Montesquieu, Helvétius, Beccaria, and Barrington. Helvétius especially did much to suggest to him his leading principle, and upon country trips which he took with his father and step-mother, he used to lag behind studying Helvétius' De l'Esprit. Locke, he says in an early note (1773-1774), should give the principles, Helvétius the matter, of a complete digest of the law. He mentions with especial interest the third volume of Hume's Treatise on Human Nature for its ethical views: 'he felt as if scales fell from his eyes' when he read it. Daines Barrington's Observations on the Statutes interested him by miscellaneous suggestions. The book, he says, was a 'great treasure. 'It is everything,