The Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution by Mercy Otis Warren, part 1 of 3

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The Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution

by Mrs. Mercy Warren of Plymouth Massachusetts

Volume 1: From the Origins to Valley Forge in 1778

Volume 2, Volume 3

The original 3-volume work is 1317 pages long. Mercy wrote early drafts of this work near the time of the events described, and completed the work about four years before it appeared in 1805. She explains the delay as due to health problems, temporary bouts of blindness, and grief at the death of one of her five sons.

Mercy wrote in the third person even when dealing with events involving her immediate family. Keep in mind that James Otis (early advocate of the rights of the colonies) was her brother, James Warren (speaker of the Massachusetts House of Representatives) was her husband, and Winslow Warren (would-be diplomat) was her son.

Introduction -- An Address to the Inhabitants of the United States of America

Chapter 1 -- Introductory Observations
Chapter 2 -- The Stamp Act. A Congress convened at New York, 1765. The Stamp Act repealed. New grievances. Suspension of the legislature of New York.
Chapter 3 -- Cursory Observations. Massachusetts Circular Letter. A new House of Representatives called. Governor Bernard impeached. A riot on the seizure of a vessel. Troops arrive. A Combination against all commerce with Great Britain. A General Assembly convened at Boston, removed to Cambridge. Governor Bernard after his impeachment repairs to England.
Chapter 4 -- Character of Mr. Hutchinson. Appointed Governor of Massachusetts. The attempted Assassination of Mr. Otiose. Transactions of the March 5, 1770. Arrival of the East India Company's Tea Ships. Establishment of Committees of Correspondence. The Right of Parliamentary Taxation without Representation urged by Mr. Hutchinson. Articles of Impeachment resolved on in the House of Representatives against Governor Hutchinson and Lieutenant Governor Oliver. Chief Justice of the Province impeached. Chief Justice of the Province impeached. Boston Port Bill. Governor Hutchinson leaves the Province.
Chapter 5 -- General Gage appointed Governor of Massachusetts. General Assembly meets at Salem. A proposal for a Congress from all the Colonies to be convened at Philadelphia. Mandamus Counselors obliged to resign. Resolutions of the General Congress. Occasional Observations. The Massachusetts attentive to the military discipline of their youth. Suffolk Resolves. A Provincial Congress chosen in the Massachusetts. Governor Gage summons a new House of Representatives.
Chapter 6 -- Parliamentary divisions on American affairs. Cursory observations and events. Measures for raising an army of observation by the four New England governments of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Battle of Lexington. Sketches of the conduct and characters of the governors of the southern provinces. Ticonderoga taken. Arrival of reinforcements from England. Proscription and characters of Samuel Adams and John Hancock. Battle of Bunker Hill. Death and character of General Joseph Warren. Massachusetts adopts a stable form of government.
Chapter 7 -- Continental Army. Mr. Washington appointed to the command. General Gage recalled, succeeded by Sir William Howe. Depredations on the sea coast. Falmouth burnt. Canadian affairs. Death and character of General Montgomery.
Chapter 8 -- Dissensions in the British Parliament. Petition of Governor Penn rejected. Boston evacuated. Sir Henry Clinton sent to the southward., followed by General Lee. His character. Sir Peter Parker's attack on Sullivan's Island. General Howe's Arrival at Sandy Hook. General Washington leaves Cambridge. Observations on the temper of some of the colonies.
Chapter 9 -- Declaration of Independence. Lord Howe's arrival in America. Action on Long Island. Retreat of the Americans through the Jerseys and the loss of Forts Washington and Lee. Affairs in Canada. Surprise of the Hessians at Trenton. Various transactions in the Jerseys. General Howe's retreat. Makes headquarters at Brunswick. His indecisions. Some traits of his character.
Chapter 10 -- Desultory circumstances. Skirmishes and events. General Howe withdraws from the Jerseys. Arrives at the River Elk. Followed by Washington. The Battle of Brandywine. General Washington defeated, retreats to Philadelphia. Obliged to draw of his army. Lord Cornwallis takes possession of the city. Action at Germantown, Red Bank, etc. The British Army take winter quarters in Philadelphia. The Americans encamp at Valley Forge. General Washington's situation not eligible. De Lisle's letters. General Conway resigns. The Baron de Steuben appointed Inspector General of the American army.
Volume 2 -- from Saratoga in 1778 to the eve of Yorktown in 1781
Chapter 11 -- Northern Department. General Carleton superseded. General Burgoyne vested with the command for operations in Canada. Ticonderoga abandoned by General St. Clair. Affair of Fort Stanwix. Of Bennington and various other important movements of the two armies, until the Convention of Saratoga. General Burgoyne repairs to England on parole. His reception there. Reflections and observations on the events of the Northern Campaign
Chapter 12 -- Observations on the conduct of the British Parliament, previous to the capture of Burgoyne. The ineffectual efforts of the commissioners sent to America in consequence of Lord North's Conciliatory Bill. Their attempts to corrupt individuals and public bodies. Negotiation broken off. Manifesto published by the commissioners. Counter Declaration by Congress. Sir William Howe repairs to England
Chapter 13 -- Evacuation of Philadelphia. Battle of Monmouth. General Lee censured. General Clinton reaches New York. The Count de Estaing arrives there. Repairs to Rhode Island. Expedition unsuccessful. French Fleet rendezvous at Boston to refit after damages sustained by a storm. Lord Howe leave the American Seas. Marauding exploits of General Grey. Destruction of Wyoming. Expedition into the Indian Territories.
Chapter 14 -- Foreign negotiations. Dissensions among the American commissioners. Deane recalled. Mr. Adams appointed. Mr. Lee and Mr. Adams recalled. Spain declares war against England. Mr. Jay sent to the Court of Madrid. Sir George Collier's expedition to Virginia. His sudden recall. Ravages on the North River. Depredations in the state of Connecticut, in aid of Governor Tryon and his partisans. General Washington seizes Stoney Point. Recovered by the British. Penobscot expedition. Destruction of the American navy.
Chapter 15 -- A retrospect of some naval transactions in the West Indies 1778 and 1779. Affairs in Georgia concisely reviewed. General Lincoln sent to take the command at the southward. The Count de Estaing's arrival in Georgia. Savannah closely besieged by the combined forces of France and America. Repulsed by General Prescott. The Count of Estaing leaves the southern clime. The Count Pulaski slain in Georgia. Some anecdotes of Count Kosciusko.
Chapter 16 -- Sir Henry Clinton and Admiral Arbuthnot sail for South Carolina. Charleston invested. Capitulates. General Lincoln and his army prisoners of war. General Clinton returns to New York. Lord Cornwallis's command and civil administration in Charleston. Mr. Gadsden an other gentlemen suspected and sent to St. Augustine. Much opposition to British authority in both the Carolinas. The Count de Rochambeau and the Admiral de Tiernay arrived at Newport. British depredations in the Jerseys. Catastrophe of Mr. Caldwell and his family. Armed neutrality. Some observations on the state of Ireland. Riots in England. Cursory observations.
Chapter 17 --Distressed situation of the army and the country from various causes. General Gates sent to the southward. Surprised and defeated at Camden by Lord Cornwallis. Superseded. General Greene appointed to the command in the Carolinas. Major Ferguson's defeat. Sir Henry Clinton makes a diversion in the Chesapeake in favor of Lord Cornwallis. General Arnold sent there. His defection and character. Detection, trial, and death of Major Andre. Disposition of the Dutch Republic with regard to America. Governor Trumbull's character and correspondence with Baron Van de Capellen. Mr. Laurens appointed to negotiate with the Dutch Republic.
Chapter 18 -- Revolt of the Pennsylvania line. Discontents in other parts of the army Paper medium sunk. Some active movements of Don Bernard de Galvez in America. War between Great Britain and Spain opened in Europe by the siege of Gibraltar. Short view of diplomatic transactions between America and several European powers. Empress of Russia refuses to treat with the American States.
Chapter 19 -- General Gates surrenders the command of the southern army to General Greene, on his arrival in South Carolina. Action between General Sumpter and Colonel Tarleton. General Morgan's expedition. Meet and defeats Colonel Tarleton. Lord Cornwallis pursues General Morgan. Party of Americans cut off at the Catawba. Lord Cornwallis arrives at Hillsborough. Calls by proclamation on all the inhabitants of the state to join him. Battle of Guilford. Americans defeated. Lord Cornwallis marches towards Wilmington. General Greene pursues him. General Greene returns towards Camden. Action at Camden. Lord Rawdon evacuates Camden and returns to Charleston. Barbarous state of society among the mountaineers, and in the back settlements of the Carolinas. Attack on Ninety-Six. Repulse. General Greene again obliged to retreat. Execution of Colonel Hayne. Lord Rawdon leaves the state of South Carolina and embarks for England. Action at the Eutaw Springs. General Greene retires to the high hills of Santee. Governor Rutledge returns to South Carolina and resumes the reins of government.
Chapter 20 -- Lord Cornwallis marches to Wilmington. Marquis de la Fayette sent to Virginia. Death of General Phillips. Lord Cornwallis moves from Petersburg to Williamsburg. Dissonant opinions between him and Sir Henry Clinton. Crosses James River. Takes post at Portsmouth. Indecision of Sir Henry Clinton. Meditates an attack on Philadelphia. The project relinquished.
Volume 3 -- from Yorktown in 1781 to the Treaty of Paris in 1783, plus a few subsequent events and observations about the Constitution (1787), the French Revolution (1789), and the presidencies of Washington and Adams (up to 1801)
Chapter 21 -- A first view of the forces of the contending parties. The Generals Washington and Rochambeau meet at Weathersfield. Attack on New York contemplated. The design relinquished. Combined armies march toward Virginia. Count de Grasse arrives in the Chesapeake. Sir Samuel Hood arrives at New York. Sails to the Chesapeake. Naval action. Lord Cornwallis attempts a retreat. Disappointed. Offers terms of capitulation. Terms of surrender agreed on. Lord Digby and Sir Henry Clinton arrive too late. Comparative view of the British commanders. General exchange of prisoners.
Chapter 22 -- General Wayne sent to the south. Embarrassments of General Greene in that quarter. Recovery of Georgia and evacuation of Savannah by the British. Death and character of Colonel Laurens. Character of General Greene. Consequent observations.
Chapter 23 -- General observations on the conduct of the British King and Parliament after the intelligence of the capture of Lord Cornwallis and his army. King's speech. Address of thanks opposed. Proposition by Sir Thomas Pitt to withhold supplies from the Crown. Vote carried in favor of granting supplies. General Burgoyne defends the American opposition to the measures of the Court. Variety of desultory circumstances discussed in Parliament.
Chapter 24 -- Naval transactions. Rupture between England and France opened in the Bay of Biscay. Admiral Keppel. Serapis and the Countess of Scarborough captured by Paul Jones. The protection given him by the States-General resented by the British Court. Transactions in the West Indies. Sir George Bridges Rodney returns to England after the capture of St. Eustatia. Sent out again the succeeding year. Engages an defeats the French squadron under the command of the Count de Grasse. Capture of the Ville de Paris. The Count de Grasse sent to England. Admiral Rodney created a peer of the realm on his return to England.
Chapter 25 -- Continuation of naval rencounters. Affair of Count Byland. Sir Hyde Parker and Admiral Zeutman. Commodore Johnstone ordered to the Cape of Good Hope. Admiral Kempenfelt. Loss of the Royal George. Baron de Rullincort's expedition to the Isle of Jersey. Capture of Minorca. Gibraltar again besieged, defended, and relieved. Mr. Adams's negotiations with the Dutch provinces.
Chapter 26 -- General uneasiness with ministerial measures in England, Scotland, and Ireland. Loud complaints against the Board of Admiralty. Sir Hyde Parker resigns his commission. Motion for an address for peace by General Conway. Resignation of Lord George Germaine. Created a peer of the realm. Lord North resigns. Some traits of his character. Petition of the city of London for peace. Coalition of parties. A new ministry. Death and character of the Marquis of Rockingham. Lord Shelburne's administration. Negotiations for peace. Provisional articles signed. Temper of the loyalists. Execution of Captain Huddy. Consequent imprisonment of Captain Asgill. Asgill's release.
Chapter 27 -- Discontents with the provisional articles. Mr. Hartley sent to Paris. The definitive treaty agreed to and signed by all parties. A general pacification among the nations at war. Mr. Pitt, Prime Minister in England. His attention to East India affairs. Some subsequent observations.
Chapter 28 -- Peace proclaimed in America. General Carleton delays the withdraw of the troops from New York. Situation of the loyalists. Efforts in their favor by some gentlemen in Parliament. Their final destination. Their dissatisfaction and subsequent conduct.
Chapter 29 -- Conduct of the American army on the news of peace. Mutiny and insurrection. Congress surrounded by a part of the American army. Mutineers disperse. Congress removes to Princeton. Order of Cincinnati. Observations thereon.
Chapter 30 -- A survey of the situation of America on the conclusion of the war with Britain. Observations on the Declaration of Independence. Withdraw of the British troops from New York. A few observations on the detention of the western posts. The American army disbanded, after the commander in chief had addressed the public and taken leave of his fellow soldiers. General Washington resigns his commission to Congress.
Chapter 31 --Supplementary observations on succeeding events, after the termination of the American Revolution. Insurrection in the Massachusetts. A general convention of the states. A new Constitution adopted. General Washington chosen President. British treaty negotiated by Mr. Jay. General Washington's second retreat from public life. General observations

 "Troubled on every side perplexed, but not in despair, Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed."

St. Paul
"Oh God! thy arm was here And not to us, but to thy arm alone, Ascribe we all." 

Volume I

District of Massachusetts, to wit

Be it remembered, that on the eleventh day of February, in the thirtieth year of the independence of the United States of America, Mercy Warren, of the said district, has deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof she claims as author, in the words following, to wit: -- "History of the Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution. Interspersed with Biographical, Political and Moral Observations. In Three Volumes. By Mrs. Mercy Warren, of Plymouth, Mass."

In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled, "An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned;" and also to an act, entitled "An act supplementary to an act, entitled, 'An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned;' and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints."

N. Goodie, Clerk of the District of Massachusetts. A true copy of record. Attest: N. Goodale, clerk


Introduction: An Address to the Inhabitants of the United States of America

At a period when every manly arm was occupied, and every trait of talent or activity  engaged, either in the cabinet or the field, apprehensive, that amidst the sudden  convulsions, crowded scenes, and rapid changes, that flowed in quick succession, many  circumstances might escape the more busy and active members of society, I  have been induced to improve the leisure Providence had lent, to record as they passed,  in the following pages, the new and inexperienced events exhibited in a land  previously blessed with peace, liberty, simplicity, and virtue.

As circumstances were collected, facts related, and characters drawn, many years  antecedent to any history since published, relative to the dismemberment of the  colonies, and to American independence, there are few allusions to any later writers.

Connected by nature, friendship, and every social tie, with many of the first patriots,  and most influential characters on the continent; in the habits of confidential and  epistolary intercourse with several gentlemen employed abroad in the most  distinguished stations, and with others since elevated to the highest grades of rank and  distinction, I had the best means of information, through a long period that the colonies  were in suspense, waiting the operation of foreign courts, and the success of  their own enterprising spirit.

The solemnity that covered every countenance, when contemplating the sword uplifted,  and the horrors of civil war rushing to habitations not inured to scenes of  rapine and misery; even to the quiet cottage, where only concord and affection had  reigned; stimulated to observation a mind that had not yielded to the assertion,  that all political attentions lay out of the road of female life.

It is true there are certain appropriate duties assigned to each sex; and doubtless it is the  more peculiar province of masculine strength, not only to repel the bold  invader of the rights of his country and of mankind, but in the nervous style of manly  eloquence, to describe the blood-stained field, and relate the story of  slaughtered armies.

Sensible of this, the trembling heart has recoiled at the magnitude of the undertaking,  and the hand often shrunk back from the talk; yet, recollecting that every  

domestic enjoyment depends on the unimpaired possession of civil and religious  liberty, that a concern for the welfare of society ought equally to glow in every  human breast, the work was not relinquished. The most interesting circumstances were  collected, active characters portrayed, the principles of the times developed,  and the changes marked; nor need it cause a blush to acknowledge, a detail was  preserved with a view of the transmitting it to the rising youth of my country, some  of them in infancy, others in the European world, while the most interesting events  lowered over their native land.

Conscious that truth has been the guide of my pen, and candor, as well as justice, the  accompaniment of my wishes through every page, I can say, with an ingenious  writer, "I have used my pen with the liberty of one, who neither hopes nor fears, nor  has any interest in the success or failure of any party, and who speaks to  posterity -- perhaps very far remote."

The sympathizing heart has looked abroad and wept the many victims of affliction,  inevitably such in consequence of civil feuds and the concomitant miseries of war,  either foreign or domestic. The reverses of life, and the instability of the world, have  been viewed on the point in both extremes. Their delusory nature and character,  have been contemplated as becomes the philosopher and the Christian: the one teaches  us from the analogies of nature, the necessity of changes, decay, and death;  the other strengthens the mind to meet them with the rational hope of revival and  renovation.

Several years have elapsed since the historical tracts, now with diffidence submitted to  the public, have been arranged in their present order. Local circumstances,  the decline of health, temporary deprivations of sight, the death of the most amiable of  children, "the shaft flew thrice, and thrice my peace was slain," have sometimes  prompted to throw the pen in despair. I draw a veil over the woe-fraught scenes that  have pierced my own heart. "While the soul was melting inwardly, it has  endeavored to support outwardly, with decency and dignity, those accidents which  admit of new redress, and to exert that spirit that enables to get the better of  those that do."  

Not indifferent to the opinion of the world, nor servilely courting its smiles, no further  apology is offered for the attempt, though many may be necessary, for the  incomplete execution of a design, that had rectitude for its basis, and a beneficent  regard for the civil and religious rights of mankind, for its motive.  

The liberal-minded will peruse with candor, rather than criticize with severity; nor will  they think it necessary that any apology should be offered for sometimes  introducing characters nearly connected with the author of the following annals; as they  were early and zealously attached to the public cause, uniform in their  principles, and constantly active in the great scenes that produced the revolution, and  obtained independence for their country, truth precludes that reserve which  might have been proper on less important occasions, and forbids to pass over in silence  the names of such as expired before the conflict was finished, or have since  retired from public scenes.  The historian has never laid aside the tenderness of the sex  or the friend; at the same time, she has endeavored, on all occasions, that the  strictest veracity should govern her heart, and the most exact impartiality be the guide  of her pen.  

If the work should be so far useful or entertaining, as to obtain the sanction of the  generous and virtuous part of the community, I cannot but be highly gratified and  amply rewarded for the effort, soothed at the same time with the idea that the motives  were justifiable in the eye of Omniscience. Then, if it should not escape the  remarks of the critic, or the censure of party, I shall feel no wound to my sensibility,  but repose on my pillow as quietly as ever --  

"While all the distant din the world can keep, Rolls o'er my grotto, and but soothes my sleep."

Before this address to my countrymen is closed, I beg leave to observe, that as a new  century has dawned upon us, the mind is naturally led to contemplate the great  events that have run parallel with and have just closed the last. From the revolutionary  spirit of the times, the vast improvements in science, arts, and agriculture, the  boldness of genius that marks the age, the investigation of new theories, and the change  in the political, civil, and religious characters of men, succeeding generations  have reason to expect still more astonishing exhibitions in the next. In the mean time,  Providence has clearly pointed out the duties of the present generation,  particularly the paths which Americans ought to tread. The United States form a young  republic, a confederacy which ought ever to be cemented by a union of  interests and affection, under the influence of those principles which obtained their  independence. These have indeed, at certain periods, appeared to be in the wane;  but let them never be eradicated, by the jarring interests of parties, jealousies of the  sister states, or the ambition of individuals!  It has been observed, by a writer of  celebrity [Paley's Moral Philosophy], that "that people, government, and constitution is  the freest, which makes the best provision for the enacting of expedient and  salutary laws." May this truth be evinced to all ages, by the wise and salutary laws that  shall be enacted in the federal legislature of America!

May the hands of the executive of their own choice, be strengthened more by the  unanimity and affection of the people, than by the dread of penal infliction, or any  restraints that might repress free inquiry, relative to the principles of their own  government, and the conduct of its administrators!  The world is now viewing America,  as experimenting a new system of government, a FEDERAL REPUBLIC, including a  territory to which the Kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland bear little  proportion. The practicability of supporting such a system has been doubted by some;  if she succeeds, it will refute the assertion that none but small states are  adapted to republican government; if she does not, and the union should be dissolved,  some ambitious son of Columbia, or some foreign adventurer, allured by the  prize, may wade to empire through seas of blood, or the friends of monarchy may see a  number of petty despots, stretching their scepters over the disjointed parts of  the continent. Thus by the mandate of a single sovereign, the degraded subjects of one  state, under the bannerets of royalty may be dragged to sheathe their swords  in the bosoms of the inhabitants of another.

The state of the public mind appears at present to be prepared to weigh these reflections  with solemnity and to receive with pleasure an effort to trace the origin of  the American Revolution, to review the characters that effected it, and to justify the  principles of the defection and final separation from the parent state.  With an  expanded heart, beating with high hopes of the continued freedom and prosperity of  America, the writer indulges a modest expectation that the following pages will  be perused with kindness and candor: this she claims both in consideration of her sex,  the uprightness of her intentions, and the fervency of her wishes for the  happiness of all the human race.

Mercy Warren, Plymouth, Mass., March, 1805


Chapter One: Introductory Observations. History, the deposit of crimes, and the record of everything disgraceful or honorary to mankind, requires a just knowledge of character, to investigate the sources of action; a clear comprehension, to review the combination of causes; and precision of language, to detail the events that have produced the most remarkable revolutions.

To analyze the secret springs that have effected the progressive changes in society; to trace the origin of the various modes of government, the consequent improvements in science, in morality, or the national tincture that marks the manners of the people under despotic or more liberal forms, is a bold and adventurous work.

The study of the human character opens at once a beautiful and a deformed picture of the soul. We there find a noble principle implanted in the nature of man, that pants for distinction. This principle operates in every bosom, and when kept under the control of reason, and the influence of humanity, it produces the most benevolent effects. But when the checks of conscience are thrown aside, or the moral sense weakened by the sudden acquisition of wealth or power, humanity is obscured, and if a favorable coincidence of circumstances permits, this love of distinction often exhibits the most mortifying instances of profligacy, tyranny, and the wanton exercise of arbitrary sway. Thus when we look over the theater of human action, scrutinize the windings of the heart, and survey the transactions of man from the earliest to the present period, it must be acknowledged that ambition and avarice are the leading springs which generally actuate the restless mind. From these primary sources of corruption have arisen all the rapine and confusion, the depredation and ruin, that have spread distress over the face of the earth from the days of Nimrod to Caesar, and from Caesar to an arbitrary prince of the house of Brunswick.

The indulgence of these turbulent passions has depopulated cities, laid waste the finest territories, and turned the beauty and harmony of the lower creation into an aceldama. Yet candor must bear honorable testimony to many signal instances of disinterested merit among the children of men; thus it is not possible to pronounce decidedly on the character of the politician or the statesman till the winding up of the drama. To evince the truth of this remark, it is needless to adduce innumerable instances of deception both in ancient and modern story. It is enough to observe, that the specious Augustus established himself in empire by the appearance of justice, clemency, and moderation, while the savage Nero shamelessly weltered in the blood of the citizens; but the sole object of each was to become the sovereign of life and property, and to govern the Roman world with a despotic hand.

Time may unlock the cabinets of princes, unfold the secret negotiations of statesmen, and hand down the immortal characters of dignified worth, or the blackened traits of finished villainy in exaggerated colors. But truth is most likely to be exhibited by the general sense of contemporaries, when the feelings of the heart can be expressed without suffering itself to be disguised by the prejudices of man. Yet it is not easy to convey to posterity a just idea of the embarrassed situation of the

western world, previous to the rupture with Britain; the dismemberment of the empire, and the loss of the most industrious, flourishing, and perhaps virtuous colonies, ever planted by the hand of man.

 The progress of the American Revolution has been so rapid and such the alteration of manners, the blending of characters, and the new train of ideas that almost

universally prevail, that the principles which animated to the noblest exertions have been nearly annihilated. Many who first stepped forth in vindication of the rights of human nature are forgotten, and the causes which involved the thirteen colonies in confusion and blood are scarcely known, amidst the rage of accumulation and the taste for expensive pleasures that have since prevailed; a taste that has abolished that mediocrity which once satisfied, and that contentment which long smiled in every countenance. Luxury, the companion of young acquired wealth, is usually the consequence of opposition to, or close connection with, opulent commercial states. Thus the hurry of spirits, that ever attends the eager pursuit of fortune and a passion for splendid enjoyment, leads to forgetfulness; and thus the inhabitants of America cease to look back with due gratitude and respect on the fortitude and virtue of their ancestors, who, through difficulties almost insurmountable, planted them in a happy foil. But the historian and the philosopher will ever venerate the memory of those pious and independent gentlemen, who, after suffering innumerable impositions, restrictions, and penalties, less for political, than theological opinions, left England, not as adventurers for wealth or fame, but for the quiet enjoyment of religion and liberty.

The love of domination and an uncontrolled lust of arbitrary power have prevailed among all nations and perhaps in proportion to the degrees of civilization. They have been equally conspicuous in the decline of Roman virtue, and in the dark pages of British story. It was these principles that overturned that ancient republic. It was these principles that frequently involved England in civil feuds. It was the resistance to them that brought one of their monarchies to the block, and struck another from his throne. It was the prevalence of them that drove the first settlers of America from elegant habitations and affluent circumstances, to seek an asylum in the cold and uncultivated regions of the western world. Oppressed in Britain by despotic kinds, and persecuted by prelatic fury, they fled to a distant country, where the desires of men were bounded by the wants of nature; where civilization had not created those artificial cravings which too frequently break over every moral and religious tie for their gratification.

The tyranny of the Stuart race has long been proverbial in English story: their efforts to establish an arbitrary system of government began with the weak and bigoted

reign of James the first, and were continued until the excision of his son Charles. The contest between the British parliament and this unfortunate monarch arose to such a height, as to augur an alarming defection of many of the best subjects in England. Great was their uneasiness at the state of public affairs, the arbitrary stretch of power, and the obstinacy of King Charles, who pursued his own despotic measures in spite of the opposition of a number of gentlemen in parliament attached to the liberties and privileges of Englishmen. Thus a sprit of emigration adopted in the preceding reign began to spread with great rapidity through the nation. Some gentlemen endowed with talents to defend their rights by the most cogent and resistless arguments were among the number who had taken the alarming resolution of seeking an asylum far from their natal soil, where they might enjoy the rights and privileges they claimed, and which they considered on the eve of annihilation at home. Among these were Oliver Cromwell, afterwards protector, and a number of other gentlemen of distinguished name, who had actually engaged to embark for New England. This was a circumstance so alarming to the court, that they were stopped by an order of government, and by royal edict all further emigration was forbidden. The spirit of colonization was not however much impeded, nor the growth of the young plantations prevented, by the arbitrary resolutions of the court. It was but a short time after this effort to check them, before numerous English emigrants were spread along the borders of the Atlantic from Plymouth to Virginia.

The independence with which these colonists acted; the high promise of future advantage from the beauty and fertility of the country; and, as was observed soon

after, "the prosperous state of their settlements, made it to be considered by the heads of the puritan party in England, many of whom were men of the first rank, fortune and abilities as "the sanctuary of liberty." (Universal History) The order above alluded to, indeed prevented the embarkation of the Lords Say and Brook, the Earl of Warwick, of Hampden, Pym, and many others, who despairing of recovering their civil and religious liberty on their native shore, had determined to secure it by a retreat to the New World, as it was then called. Patents were purchased by others, within a short period after the present, who planted the thirteen American colonies with a successful hand. Many circumstances concurred to awaken the spirit of adventure, and to draw out men, inured to foster habits, to encounter the difficulties and dangers of planting themselves and families in the wilderness.

The spirit of party had thrown accumulated advantages into the hands of Charles the second, after his restoration. The divisions and animosities at court rendered it more easy for him to pursue the same system which his father had adopted. Amidst the rage for pleasure, and the licentious manners that prevailed in his court, the complaisance of one party, the fears of another, and the weariness of all, of the dissensions and difficulties that had arisen under the protectorship of Cromwell, facilitated the measures of the high monarchists, who continually improved their advantages to enhance the prerogatives of the crown. The weak and bigoted conduct of his brother James increased the general uneasiness of the nation, until his abdication. Thus, through every successive reign of this line of the Stuarts, the colonies gained additional strength, by continual emigrations to the young American settlements.

The first colony of Europeans, permanently planted in North America, was by a handful of roving strangers, sickly, and necessitated to debark on the first land, where there was any promise of a quiet subsistence. Amidst the despotism of the first branch of the house of Stuart, on the throne of Britain, and the ecclesiastical persecutions in England, which sent many eminent characters abroad, a small company of dissenters from the national establishment left England, under the pastoral care of the pious and learned Mr. Robinson, and resided a short time in Holland, which they left in the beginning of autumn, 1620.

After a long and hazardous voyage, they landed on the borders of an inhospitable wilderness, in the dreary month of December, amidst the horrors of a North American winter. (see Note 1 at the end of this chapter) They were at first received by the savage inhabitants of the country with a degree of simple humanity:

They smoked with them the calumet of peace; purchased a tract of the uncultivated waste; hutted on the frozen shore, sheltered only by the lofty forest, that had been left for ages to thicken under the rude hand of time. From this small beginning was laid the stable foundations of those extensive settlements, that have since spread over the fairest quarter of the globe.

Virginia, indeed, had been earlier discovered by Sir Walter Raleigh, and a few men left there by him, to whom additions under various adventurers were afterwards made; but, by a series of misfortunes and misconduct, the plantation had fallen into such disorder and distress that the enterprise was abandoned. The fate of those left there by this great and good man has never been known with certainty: It is probable that most of them were murdered by the savages; and the remnant, if any there were, became incorporated with the barbarous nations.

There was afterwards a more successful effort for the settlement of a colony in Virginia. In the beginning of the seventeenth century Lord Delaware was appointed governor, and with him a considerable number of emigrants arrived from England. But his health was not equal to a residence in a rude and uncultivated wilderness; he soon returned to his native country, but left his son, with Thomas Gates and several other enterprising gentlemen, who pursued the project of an establishment in Virginia, and began to build a town on James River, in the year 1606. Thus was that state entitled to the prescriptive term of the Old Dominion, which it still retains. But their difficulties, misfortunes and disappointments, long prevented any permanent constitution or stable government, and they scarcely deserved the appellation of a regular colony, until a considerable time after the settlement in Plymouth, in 1620.

The discovery of the New World had opened a wide field of enterprise, and several other previous attempts had been made by Europeans to obtain settlements therein; yet little of a permanent nature was effected, until the patience and perseverance of the Leyden sufferers laid the foundation of social order.

This small company of settlers, after wandering some time on the frozen shore, fixed themselves at the bottom of the Massachusetts Bay. Though dispirited by innumerable discouraging circumstances, they immediately entered into engagements with each other to form themselves into a regular society, and drew up a covenant, by which they bound themselves to submit to order and subordination.

Their jurisprudence was marked with wisdom and dignity, and their simplicity and piety were displayed equally in the regulation of their police, the nature of their contracts and the punctuality of observance. The old Plymouth colony remained for some time a distinct government. They chose their own magistrates, independent of all foreign control; but a few years involved them with the Massachusetts, of which, Boston, more recently settled than Plymouth, was the capital.

From the local situation of a country, separated by an ocean of a thousand leagues from the parent state, and surrounded by a world of savages, an immediate compact with the King of Great Britain was thought necessary. Thus, a charter was early granted, stipulating on the part of the crown, that the Massachusetts should have a legislative body within itself, composed of three branches, and subject to no control, except his majesty's negative, within a limited term, to any laws formed by their assembly that might be thought to militate with the general interest of the realm of England. The governor was appointed by the crown, the representative body, annually chosen by the people, and the council elected by the representatives from the people at large.

Though more liberal charters were granted to some of the colonies, which, after the first settlement at Plymouth, rapidly spread over the face of this new discovered

country, yet modes of government nearly similar to that of Massachusetts were established in most of them, except Maryland and Pennsylvania, which were under the direction of particular proprietors. But the corrupt principles which had been fashionable in the voluptuous and bigoted courts of the Stuarts, soon followed the emigrants in their distant retreat, and interrupted the establishments of their civil police; which, it may be observed, were a mixture of Jewish theocracy, monarchic government, and the growing principles of republicanism, which had taken root in Britain as early as the days of Elizabeth.

It soon appeared that there was a strong party in England, who wished to govern the colonists with a rigorous hand. They discovered their inclinations by repeated attempts to procure a revision, an alteration, and a resumption of charters, on the most frivolous pretenses.

It is true, an indiscreet zeal, with regard to several religious sectaries, which had early introduced themselves into the young settlements, gave a pretext to some severities from the parent state. But the conduct of the first planters of the American colonies has been held up by some ingenious writers in too ludicrous a light. Yet while we admire their persevering and self-denying virtues, we must acknowledge that the illiberality and weakness of some of their municipal regulations has cast a shade over the memory of men, whose errors arose more from the fashion of the times, and the dangers which threatened them from every side, than from any deficiency either in the head or the heart. But the treatment of the Quakers in the Massachusetts can never be justified either by the principles of policy or humanity. [However censurable the early settlers in New England were, in their severities towards the Quakers and other non-conformists, they might think their conduct in some degree sanctioned by the example of their parent state, and the rigors exercised in other parts of the European world at that time, against all denominations which differed from the religious establishments of government.] The demeanor of these people was, indeed, in many instances, not only ridiculous, but disorderly and atrocious; yet an indelible stain will be left on the names of those, who adjudged to imprisonment, confiscation and death, a sect made considerable only by opposition.

In the story of the sufferings of these enthusiasts, there has never been a just discrimination between the sectaries denominated Quakers, who first visited the New England settlements, and the associates of the celebrated Penn, who having received a patent from the crown of England, fixed his residence on the borders of the

Delaware. He there reared, with astonishing rapidity, a flourishing, industrious colony, on the most benevolent principles. The equality of their condition, the mildness of their deportment, and the simplicity of their manners, encouraged the emigration of husbandmen, artisans and manufacturers from all parts of Europe. Thus was this colony soon raised to distinguished eminence, though under a proprietary government. [Mr. Penn published a system of government, on which it has been observed, "that the introductory piece is perhaps the most extraordinary compound that ever was published, of enthusiasm, sound policy, and good sense." The author tells us, "It was adapted to the great end of all government, viz. to support power in reverence with the people, and to secure the people from the abuse of power."] But the sectaries that infested the more eastern territory were generally loose, idle and refractory, aiming to introduce confusion and licentiousness rather than the establishment of any regular society. Excluded from Boston, and banished the Massachusetts, they repaired to a neighboring colony, less tenacious in religious opinion, by which the growth of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations was greatly facilitated.

The spirit of intolerance in the early stages of their settlements was not confined to the New England puritans, as they have in derision been styled. In Virginia, Maryland, and some other colonies, where the votaries of the church of England were the stronger party, the dissenters of every description were persecuted, with little less rigor than had been experienced by the Quakers from the Presbyterians of the Massachusetts. An act passed in the assembly of Virginia, in the early days

of her legislation, making it penal "for any master of a vessel to bring a Quaker into the province." "The inhabitants were inhibited from entertaining any person of that denomination. They were imprisoned, banished, and treated with every mark of severity short of death." (History of Virginia).

It is natural to suppose a society of men who had suffered so much from a spirit of religious bigotry, would have stretched a lenient hand towards any who might differ from themselves, either in mode or opinion, with regard to the worship of the Deity. But from a strange propensity in human nature to reduce every thing within the vortex of their own ideas, the same intolerant and persecuting spirit, from which they had so recently fled, discovered itself in those bold adventurers, who had braved the dangers of the ocean and planted themselves in a wilderness, for the enjoyment of civil and religious liberty.

In the cool moments of reflection, both humanity and philosophy revolt at the diabolical disposition, that has prevailed in almost every country, to persecute such as either from education or principle, from caprice or custom, refuse to subscribe to the religious creed of those, who, by various adventitious circumstances, have acquired a degree of superiority or power.

It is rational to believe that the benevolent Author of nature designed universal happiness as the basis of his works. Nor is it unphilosophical to suppose the difference in human sentiment, and the variety of opinions among mankind, may conduce to this end. They may be permitted, in order to improve the faculty of thinking, to

draw out the powers of the mind, to exercise the principles of candor, and learn us to wait, in a becoming manner, the full disclosure of the system of divine government. Thus probably, the variety in the formation of the human soul may appear to be such, as to have rendered it impossible for mankind to think exactly in the same channel. The contemplative and liberal minded man must, therefore, blush for the weakness of his own species, when he sees any of them endeavoring to circumscribe the limits of virtue and happiness within his own contracted sphere, too often darkened by superstition and bigotry.

The modern improvements in society, and the cultivation of reason, which has spread its benign influence over both the European and the American world, have nearly eradicated this persecuting spirit; and we look back, in both countries, mortified and ashamed of the illiberality of our ancestors. Yet such is the elasticity of the human mind, that when it has been long bent beyond a certain line of propriety, it frequently flies off to the opposite extreme. Thus there may be danger, that in the enthusiasm for toleration, indifference to all religion take place. [Since these annals were written this observation has been fully verified in the impious sentiments and conduct of several members of the national Convention of France, who, after the dissolution of monarchy, and the abolition of the privileged orders, were equally zealous for the destruction of the altars of God, and the annihilation of all religion.] Perhaps few will deny that religion, viewed merely in a political light, is after all the best cement of society, the great barrier of just government, and the only certain restraint of the passions, those dangerous inlets to licentiousness and anarchy.

It has been observed by an ingenious writer, that there are proselytes from atheism, but none from superstition. Would it not be more just to reverse the observation? The narrowness of superstition frequently wears off, by an intercourse with the world, and the subjects become useful members of society. But the hardiness of atheism sets at defiance both human and divine laws, until the man is lost to himself and to the world.

A cursory survey of the religious state of America, in the early stages of colonization, requires no apology. It is necessary to observe, the animosities which arose among themselves on external forms of worship, and different modes of thinking, were most unfortunate circumstances for the infant settlements; more especially while kept in continual alarm by the natives of the vast uncultivated wilds, who soon grew jealous of their new inmates. It is true that Massasoit, the principal chief of the north, had received the strangers with the same mildness and hospitality that marked the conduct of Montezuma at the south, on the arrival of the Spaniards in his territories. Perhaps the different demeanor of their sons, Philip and Guatimozin, was not

the result of more hostile of heroic dispositions than their fathers possessed. It more probably arose from an apprehension of the invasion of their rights, after time had given them a more perfect knowledge of the temper of their guests.

 It may be a mistake, that man, in a state of nature, is more disposed to cruelty than courtesy. Many instances might be adduced to prove the contrary. But when once awakened to suspicion, that either his life or his interest is in danger, all the black passions of the mind, with revenge in their rear, rise up in array. [A celebrated writer has observed, that "moral evil is foreign to man, as well as physical evil; that both the one and the other spring up out of deviations from the law of nature."] It is an undoubted truth, that both the rude savage and the polished citizen are equally tenacious of their pecuniary acquisitions. And however mankind may have trifled away liberty, virtue, religion, or life, yet when the first rudiments of society have been established, the right of private property has been held sacred. For an attempt to invade the possessions each one denominates his own, whether it is made by the rude hand of the savage, or by the refinements of ancient or modern policy, little short of the blood of the aggressor has been thought a sufficient atonement. Thus, the purchase of their commodities, the furs of the forest, and the alienation of their lands for trivial considerations; the assumed superiority of the Europeans; their knowledge of arts and war, and perhaps their supercilious deportment towards the aborigines might awaken in them just fears of extermination. Nor is it strange that the natural principle of self-defense operated strongly in their minds, and urged them to hostilities that often reduced the young colonies to the utmost danger and distress.

But the innumerable swarms of the wilderness, who were not driven back to the vast interior region, were soon swept off by the sword or by sickness, which remarkably raged among them about the time of the arrival of the English. [The Plymouth settlers landed the twenty-second of December, but saw not an Indian until the thirty-first of January. This was afterwards accounted for by information of Samoset, an Indian chief who visited them, and told them the natives on the borders had been all swept away by a pestilence that raged among them three or four years before.] The few who remained were quieted by treaty or by conquest: after which, the inhabitants of the American colonies lived many years perhaps as near the point of felicity as the condition of human nature will admit.

The religious bigotry of the first planters, and the temporary ferments it had occasioned, subsided, and a spirit of candor and forbearance every where took place. They seemed, previous to the rupture with Britain, to have acquired that just and happy medium between the ferocity of a state of nature, and those high stages of civilization and refinement, that at once corrupt the heart and sap the foundation of happiness. The sobriety of their manners and the purity of their morals were exemplary; their piety and hospitality engaging; and the equal and lenient administration of their government secured authority, subordination, justice, regularity and peace. A well-informed yeomanry and an enlightened peasantry evinced the early attention of the first settlers to domestic education. Public schools were established in every town, particularly in the eastern provinces, and as early as 1638, Harvard College was founded at Cambridge. [The elegant St. Pierre has observed, that there are three periods through which most nations pass; the first below nature, in the second they come up to her, and in the third, go beyond her.]

In the southern colonies, it is true, there was not general attention to early instruction; the children of the opulent planters only were educated in England, while the less affluent were neglected, and the common class of whites had little education above their slaves. Both knowledge and property were more equally divided in the colder regions of the north; consequently a spirit of more equal liberty was diffused. While the almost spontaneous harvests of the warmer latitudes, the great number of slaves thought necessary to secure their produce, and the easy acquisition of fortune, nourished more aristocratic principles. Perhaps it may be true, that wherever slavery is encouraged, there are among the free inhabitants very high ideas of liberty; though not so much from a sense of the common rights of man, as from their own feelings of superiority.

Democratic principles are the result of equality of condition. A superfluity of wealth, and a train of domestic slaves, naturally banish a sense of general liberty, and nourish the seeds of that kind of independence that usually terminates in aristocracy. Yet all America, from the first emigrants to the present generation, felt an attachment to the inhabitants, a regard to the interest, and a reverence for the laws and government of England. Those writers who have observed, that "these principles had scarcely any existence in the colonies at the commencement of the late war," have certainly mistaken the character of their country.

But unhappily both for Great Britain and America, the encroachments of the crown had gathered strength by time; and after the successes, the glory, and the demise of George the Second, the scepter descended to a prince, bred under the auspices of a Scotch nobleman of the house of Stuart. Nurtured in all the inflated ideas of kingly prerogative, surrounded by flatterers and dependents, who always swarm the purlieus of a place, this misguided sovereign, dazzled with the acquisition of empire, in the morning of youth, and in the zenith of national prosperity; more obstinate than cruel, rather weak than remarkably wicked, considered an opposition to

the mandates of his ministers, as a crime of too daring a nature to hope for the pardon of royalty.

Lord Bute, who from the preceptor of the prince in years of pupilage, had become the director of the monarch on the throne of Britain, found it not difficult, by the secret influence ever exercised by a favorite minister, to bring over a majority of the House of Commons to cooperate with the designs of the crown. Thus the parliament of England became the mere creature of administration, and appeared ready to leap the boundaries of justice, and to undermine the pillars of their own constitution, by adhering steadfastly for several years to a complicated system of tyranny, that threatened the new world with a yoke unknown to their fathers.

It had ever been deemed essential to the preservation of the boasted liberties of Englishmen, that no grants of moneys should be made, by tolls, talliage, excise, or any other way, without the consent of the people by their representative voice. Innovation in a point so interesting might well be expected to create a general ferment through the American provinces. Numberless restrictions had been laid on the trade of the colonies previous to this period, and every method had been taken to check their enterprising spirit, and to prevent the growth of their manufactures. Nor is it surprising, that loud complaints should be made when heavy exactions were laid on the subject, who had not, and whose local situation rendered it impracticable that he should have, an equal representation in parliament.

What still heightened the resentment of the Americans, in the beginning of the great contest, was the reflection, that they had not only always supported their own internal government with little expense to Great Britain; but while a friendly union existed, they had, on all occasions, exerted their utmost ability to comply with every constitutional requisition from the parent sate. We need not here revert further back than the beginning of the reign of George III, to prove this, though earlier instances might be adduced.

The extraordinary exertions of the colonies, in cooperation with British measures, against the French, in the late war, were acknowledged by the British parliament to be more than adequate to their ability. After the successful expedition to Louisburg, in 1745, the sum of 200,000 pounds sterling was voted by the commons, as a compensation to some of the colonies for their vigorous efforts, which were carried beyond their proportional strength, to aid the expedition.

Not contented with the voluntary aids they had from time to time received from the colonies, and grown giddy with the luster of their own power, in the plenitude of human grandeur, to which the nation had arrived in the long and successful reign of George II, such weak, impolitic and unjust measures were pursued, on the accession of his grandson, as soon threw the whole empire into the most violent convulsions.

A more particular narrative of the first settlement of America; their wars with the natives; their distresses at home; their perplexities abroad; and their disputes with the parent state, relative to grants, charters, privileges and limits, may be seen in the accounts of every historical writer on the state of the colonies. [These researches have been satisfactorily made by several literary gentlemen, whose talents were equal to the task.] As this is not comprehended in the design of the present work, the reader is referred to more voluminous, or more minute descriptions of the events preceding the transactions which brought forward a revolution, that emancipated the colonies from the domination of the scepter of Britain. This is a story of so much interest to the minds of every son and daughter of America, endowed with the ability of reflecting, that they will not reluctantly hasten to the detail of transactions, that have awakened the attention and expectation of the millions among the nations beyond the Atlantic.


Note 1

The reader's curiosity may be gratified by the perusal of a few particulars relative to the Plymouth settlers, from their earliest memorials. One hundred and one persons left Holland, all of whom arrived at Plymouth in the month of December, 1620. From the sufferings and hardships they sustained, more than half their number died before the end of March, 1621.

On the borders of a forlorn wilderness, without any governmental restrictions, they thought it necessary to adopt some measures for order and subordination. They voluntarily on their arrival at Cape Cod, entered into covenant for this necessary purpose. It was a short code, but replete with rules of equity and authority, sufficient to maintain peace among themselves, in their infant state. Forty-one persons affixed their names to the instrument; but at the end of four months, only twenty of them were living. These were, John Carver, their first governor, William Bradford the second, and Edward Winslow the third [Prince's Chronology, where may be found most of the particulars extant, relative to the first settlers at Plymouth], Captain Miles Standish, who had been an experienced military officer in the Netherlands, Richard Warren, eminently useful in the establishment of the new colony (he lived only to the year 1628) [The estates first purchased of the natives by Winslow, Warren, and Bradford, remain in the hands of their posterity to this day -- Warren at Plymouth, Bradford at Duxborough, and Winslow at Marshfield] , John Alden, Samuel Fuller, William Brewster, Isaac Allerton, Stephen Hopkins, Gilbert Winslow, Peter Brown, Richard Gardner, John Howland, Francis Cook, John Billington, Francis Eaton, Edward Doty, George Soule, Edward Leister.

Several weeks elapsed after their arrival at Plymouth, before they saw any of the natives. About the middle of March, an Indian chief named Samoset appeared, and abruptly exclaimed, "Welcome English." This Indian had formerly been a prisoner to some Europeans, and had learnt a little of their language. By him they found that a pestilence had raged among the bordering nations, that had swept them all off within the limits of Cape Cod and Braintree Bay, two or three years before. This was corroborate by the vast number of graves, and sepulchral mounds and holes they had observed, in which the dead were interred, in all the grounds they had explored. Somoset informed them, that Massasoit was a neighboring chief, who held jurisdiction over several other tribes. This induced the English to send him a friendly message by Samoset, which was faithfully delivered. The great sachem soon came forward in an amicable manner, and entered into a treaty of peace with

this handful of strangers.

In the next autumn, an addition of thirty-five persons from the Leyden congregation, arrived at Cape Code. They soon found their associates at Plymouth, patient, pious, and contented, though they could set nothing on their board but a lobster, cold water, and a scanty pittance of Indian bread, of the entertainment of their

countrymen recently arrived, to share with them the difficulties and dangers of planting settlements in the wilderness, at a vast distance from the civilized world, and surrounded by hordes of hostile nations of terrific form and barbarous manners. (New England Memorial).


Chapter Two: The Stamp Act. A Congress convened at New York, 1765. The Stamp  Act repealed. New grievances. Suspension  of the legislature of New York.

The project of an American taxation might have been longer meditated, but the  memorable era of the Stamp Act, in 1764, was the first innovation that gave a general  alarm throughout the continent. By this extraordinary act, a certain duty was to be levied  on all bonds, bills of lading, public papers, and writings of every kind, for  the express purpose of raising a revenue to the crown. As soon as this intelligence was  transmitted to America, a universal murmur succeeded; and while the  judicious and penetrating through it time to make a resolute stand against the  encroachments of power, the resentment of the lower classes broke out into such  excesses of riot and tumult as prevented the operation of the favorite project.

Multitudes assembled in the principal towns and cities, and the popular torrent bore  down all before it. The houses of some, who were the avowed abettors of the  measure, and of others who were only suspected as inimical to the liberties of America,  in Boston, in Newport, Connecticut, and many other places, were razed to  the ground. The commissioners of the Stamp Office were everywhere compelled to  renounce their employments and to enter into the most solemn engagements to  make no further attempts to act in this obnoxious business. At New York the act was  printed and cried about the streets under the title of "The folly of England, and  the ruin of America." In Philadelphia the cannon were spiked up and the bells of the  city, muffled, tolled from morning to evening, and every testimony of sincere  mourning was displayed on the arrival of the stamp papers. Nor were any of the more  southern colonies less opposed to the operation of this act; and the House of  Burgesses, in Virginia, was the first who formally resolved against the encroachments of  power and the unwarrantable designs of the British Parliament.

The novelty of their procedure and the boldness of spirit that marked the resolutions of  that assembly at once astonished and disconcerted the officers of the crown  and the supporters of the measures of administration. These resolves were ushered into  the house May 30, 1765 by Patrick Henry, esquire, a young gentleman of  

the law, till then unknown in political life. He was a man possessed of strong powers,  much professional knowledge, and of such abilities as qualified him for the  exigencies of the day. Fearless of the cry of "treason," echoed against him from several  quarters, he justified the measure and supported the resolves in a speech that  did honor both to his understanding and his patriotism. The governor, to check the  progress of such daring principles, immediately dissolved the assembly. (see Note  2 at the end of this chapter).

But the disposition of the people was discovered when on a new election those  gentlemen were everywhere re-chosen who had shown the most firmness and zeal in  opposition to the Stamp Act. Indeed, from New Hampshire to the Carolinas, a general  aversion appeared against this experiment of administration. Nor was the  flame confined to the continent. I had spread to the insular regions, whose inhabitants,  constitutionally more sanguine than those born in colder climates, discovered  stronger marks of resentment and prouder tokens of disobedience to ministerial  authority. Thus several of the West India islands showed equal violence in the  destruction of the stamp papers, disgust at the act, and indignation toward the officers  who were bold enough to attempt its execution. Nor did they at this period  appear less determined to resist the operation of all unconstitutional mandates, than the  generous planters of the southern or the independent spirits of the northern  colonies.

When the general assembly of the Massachusetts met this year, it appeared that most of  the members of the house of representatives had instructions from their  constituents to make every legal and spirited opposition to the distribution of the  stamped papers, to the execution of the act in any form, and to every other  parliamentary infringement on the rights of the people of the colonies. A specimen of  the spirit of the times may be seen in a single instance of those instructions which  were given to the representative of the town of Plymouth, the capital of the cold colony.  Similar measures were adopted in most of the other provinces. In  consequence of which, petitions from the respective assemblies, replete with the  strongest expressions of loyalty and affection to the kind and a regard to the British  nation were presented to his majesty through the hands of the colonial agents. (see Note  3 at the end of this chapter)

The ferment was however too general, and the spirits of the people to much agitated to  wait patiently the result of their own applications. So universal was the  resentment and discontent of the people that the more judicious and discrete characters  were exceedingly apprehensive that the general clamor might terminate in  extremes of anarchy Heavy duties had been laid on all goods imported from such of the  West India islands as did not belong to Great Britain. These duties were to  be paid into the exchequer and all penalties incurred were to be recovered in the courts  of vice admiralty, by the determination of a single judge, without trial by jury,  and the judge's salary was to be paid out of the fruits of the forfeiture.

All remonstrances against this innovating system had hitherto been without effect and in  this period of suspense, apprehension and anxiety, a general congress of  delegates from the several provinces was proposed by the honorable James Otis of  Barnstable, Massachusetts. He was a gentleman of great probity, experience,  and parliamentary abilities, whose religious adherence to the rights of his country had  distinguished him through a long course of years, in which he had sustained  some of the first offices in government. This proposal, from a man of his acknowledged  

judgment, discretion and firmness, was universally pleasing. The measure was  communicated to some of the principal members of the two houses of assembly and  immediately adopted, not only by Massachusetts, but very soon after by most of  the other colonies. Thus originated the first congress ever convened in America by the  united voice of the people in order to justify their claims to the rights of  Englishmen and the privileges of the British constitution.

It has been observed that Virginia and Massachusetts made the first opposition to  parliamentary measures on different grounds. The Virginians, in their resolves,  came forward conscious of their own independence and at once asserted their rights as  men. The Massachusetts generally founded their claims on the rights of  British subjects and the privileges of their English ancestors; but the era was not far  distant when the united colonies took the same ground, the claim of native  independence, regardless of charters of foreign restrictions.

At a period when the taste and opinions of Americans were comparatively pure and  simple, while they possessed that independence and dignity of mind, which is  lost only by a multiplicity of wants and interests, new scenes were opening, beyond the  reach of human calculation. At this important crisis the delegates appointed  from several of the colonies, to deliberate on the lowering aspect of political affairs, met  at New York, on the first Tuesday of October, 1765.

The moderate demands of this body, and the short period of its existence discovered at  once the affectionate attachment of its members to the parent state and their  dread of a general rupture, which at that time universally prevailed. [Several of the  colonies were prevented from sending delegates to the congress in New York by  the royal governors, who would not permit the assemblies to meet.] They stated their  claims as subjects to the crown of Great Britain, appointed agents to enforce  them in the national councils, and agreed on petitions for the repeal of the Stamp Act,  which had sown the seeds of discord throughout the colonies. The prayer of  their constituents was in a spirited, yet respectful manner, offered through them to the  king, lords, and commons of Great Britain. They then separated, to wait the  event. [See their petition in the records of the congress at New York, in 1765.]. (see  Note 4 at the end of this chapter)

A majority of the principal merchants of the city of London, the opulent West India  proprietors, who resided in England, and most of the manufacturing towns,  through the kingdom, accompanied with similar petitions, those offered by the congress  convened at New York. In consequence of the general aversion to the  Stamp Act, the British ministry were changed, in appearance, though the same men who  had fabricated the American system, still retained their influence on the mind  of the king, and in the councils of the nation. The parliamentary debates of the winter of  1766, evinced the important consequences expected from the decision of the  question relative to an American taxation. Warm and spirited arguments in favor of the  measure, energetic reasonings against it, with many sarcastic strokes on  administration from some of the prime orators in parliament interested the hearers of  every rank and description. Finally, in order to quiet the public mind, the  execution of the Stamp Act was pronounced inexpedient by a majority of the house of  commons, and a bill passed for its repeal on March 18, 1766. But a clause  was inserted therein, holding up a parliamentary right to make laws binding on the  colonies in all cases whatsoever; and a kind of condition was tacked to the repeal  that compensation should be made to all who had suffered either in person or property  by the late riotous proceedings.

A short-lived joy was diffused throughout America, even by this delusive appearance of  lenity. The people of every description manifested the strongest desire that  harmony might be re-established between Great Britain and the colonies. Bonfires,  illuminations, and all the usual expressions of popular satisfaction were displayed  on the joyful occasion. Yes, amidst the demonstrations of this lively gratitude, there  were some who had sagacity enough to see that the British ministry was not so much  instigated by principles of equity, as impelled by necessity. These deemed any  relaxation in parliament an act of justice, rather than favor, and felt more  resentment for the manner, than obligation for the design, of this partial repeal. Their  opinion was fully justified by the subsequent conduct of administration.

When the assembly of Massachusetts met the succeeding winter, there seemed to prevail  a general disposition for peace; the sense of injury was checked, and such  a spirit of affection and loyalty appeared that the two houses agreed to a bill for  compensation to all sufferers in the late times of confusion and riot. But they were  careful not to recognize a right in parliament to make such a requisition. They ordered it  to be entered on the journals of the house that "for the sake of internal peace,  they waved all debate and controversy, though persuaded the delinquent sufferers had no  just claim on the province: That, influenced by a loyal regard to his  majesty's recommendation (not considering it as a requisition) and that, from a  deference to the opinions of some illustrious patrons of America in the house of  commons who had urged them to a compliance: They therefore acceded to the proposal,  though at the same time they considered it a very reprehensible step in  those who had suffered to apply for relief to the parliament of Britain, instead of  submitting to the justice and clemency of their own legislature."

They made several other just and severe observations on the high-toned speech of the  governor who had said, "that the requisition of the ministry was found on so  much justice and humanity that it could not be controverted." They inquired if the  authority with which he introduced the ministerial demand precluded all disputation  about complying with it, what freedom of choice they had left in the case? They said,  "With regard to the rest of your Excellency's speech, we are constrained to  observe that the general air and style of it savors much more of an act of free grace and  pardon than of a parliamentary address to the two houses of assembly; and  we most sincerely with your excellency had been pleased to reserve it, if needful, for a  proclamation."

In the bill for compensation by the assembly of Massachusetts was added a very  offensive clause. A general pardon and oblivion was granted to all offenders in the  late confusion, tumults and riots. An exact detail of these proceedings was transmitted to  England. The king and council disallowed the act as comprising in it a bill of  indemnity to the Boston rioters and ordered compensation made to the late sufferers,  without any supplementary conditions. No notice was taken of this order, nor  any alteration made in the act. The money was drawn from the treasury of the province  to satisfy the claimants for compensation, and no farther inquiries were made  relative to the authors of the late tumultuary proceedings of the times, when the minds of  men had been wrought up to a ferment, beyond the reach of all legal  restraint.

The year 1766 had passed over without any other remarkable political events. All  colonial measures agitated in England were regularly transmitted by the minister for  the American department to the several plantation governors, who on every  communication endeavored to enforce the operation of parliamentary authority by the  most sanguine injunctions of their own and a magnificent display of royal resentment,  on the smallest token of disobedience to ministerial requisitions. But it will  appear that through a long series of resolves and messages, letters and petitions, which  passed between the parties previous to the commencement of hostilities, the  watchful guardians of American freedom never lost sight of the intrigues of their  enemies or the mischievous designs of such as were under the influence of the crown  on either side of the Atlantic.

It may be observed that the tranquility of the provinces had for some time been  interrupted by the innovating spirit of the British ministry, instigated by a few  prostitutes of power, nurtured in the lap of American and bound by every tie of honor  and gratitude to be faithful to the interests of their country. The social  enjoyments of life had long been disturbed, the mind fretted, and the people rendered  suspicious when they saw some of their fellow citizens who did not hesitate at a  junction with the accumulated swarms of hirelings sent from Great Britain to ravish  from the colonies the rights they claimed both by nature and by compact. That the  hard hearted judges of admiralty and the crowd of revenue officers that hovered bout the  custom houses should seldom be actuated by the principles of justice is not  strange. Peculation was generally the prime object of this class, and the oaths they  administered and the habits they encouraged were favorable to every species of  bribery and corruption. The rapacity which instigated these descriptions of men had  little check, while they saw themselves upheld even by some governors of  provinces. In this grade, which ought ever to be the protectors of the rights of the  people, there were some who were total strangers to all ideas of equity, freedom,  or urbanity. It was observed at this time in a speech before the house of commons by  Colonel Barre that "to his certain knowledge, some were promoted to the  highest seats of honor in America who were glad to fly to a foreign country, to escape  being brought to the bar of justice in their own." [Parliamentary debates for  1766.]

However injudicious the appointments to American departments might be, the darling  point of an American revenue was an object too consequential to be  relinquished either by the court at St. James's, the plantation governors, or their  mercenary adherents dispersed through the continent. Besides these, there were  several classes in America who were at first exceedingly opposed to measures that  militated with the designs of administration -- some impressed by long connection  

were intimidated by her power and attached by affection to Britain. Others, the true  disciples of passive obedience, had real scruples of conscience with regard to  any resistance to the power that be. These, whether actuated by affection or fear, by  

principle or interested, formed a close combination with the colonial governors,  custom-house officers, and all in subordinate departments who hung on the court for  subsistence. By the tenor of the writings of some of these and the insolent  behavior of others, they became equally obnoxious in the eyes of the people, with the  officers of the crown and the danglers for place, who, disappointed of their  prey by the repeal of the Stamp Act and restless for some new project that might enable  them to rise into importance on the spoils of America, were continually  whispering malicious insinuations into the ears of the financiers and ministers of  colonial departments.

They represented the mercantile body in America as a set of smugglers, forever breaking  over the laws of trade and of society; the people in general as factious,  turbulent, and aiming at independence; the legislatures in the several provinces as  marked with the same spirit and government everywhere in so lax a state that the  civil authority was insufficient to prevent the fatal effects of popular discontent. It is indeed true that resentment had in several instances arisen to outrage and that the  most unwarrantable excesses had been committed on some occasions, which  gave grounds for unfavorable representations. Yet it must be acknowledged that the  voice of the people seldom breathes universal murmur, but when the insolence  or the oppression of their rulers extorts the bitter complaint. On the contrary, there is a  certain supineness which generally overspreads the multitude and disposes  mankind to submit quietly to any form of government, rather than to be the expense and  hazard of resistance. They become attached to ancient modes by habits of  obedience, though the reins of authority are sometimes held by the most rigorous hand.  Thus we have seen in all ages the many become the slaves of the few;  preferring the wretched tranquility of inglorious ease, they patiently yield to despotic  masters, until awakened by multiplied wrongs to the feelings of human nature;  which when once aroused to a consciousness of the native freedom and equal rights of  man, every revolts at the idea of servitude.

Perhaps the story of political revolution never exhibited a more general enthusiasm in  the cause of liberty, than that which for several years pervaded all ranks in  America and brought forward events little expected by the most sanguine spirits in the  beginning of the controversy. A contest now pushed with so much bigotry, that  the intelligent yeomanry of the country, as well as those educated in the higher walks,  became convinced that nothing less than a systematical plan of slavery was  designed against them. They viewed the chains as already forged to manacle the unborn  millions; and though everyone seemed to dread any new interruption of  public tranquility, the impetuosity of some led them into excesses which could not be  restrained by those of more cool and discreet deportment. To the most  moderate and judicious, it soon became apparent that unless a timely and bold resistance  prevented, the colonists must in a few years sink into the same wretched  thralldom that marks the miserable Asiatic.  

Few of the executive officers employed by the kind of Great Britain and fewer of their  adherents were qualified either by education, principle, or inclination to allay  the ferment of the times, or to eradicate the suspicions of men who, from an hereditary  love of freedom, were tenderly touched by the smallest attempt to undermine  the invaluable possession. Yet, perhaps a few of the colonies at this period suffered  equal embarrassments with Massachusetts. The inhabitants of that province were  considered as the prime leaders of faction, the disturbers of public tranquility, and  Boston the seat of sedition. Vengeance was continually denounced against that  capital, and indeed the whole province, through the letters, messages, and speeches of  their first magistrate.  

Unhappily for both parties, Governor Bernard was very illy calculated to promote the  interest of the people, or support the honor of his master. He was a man of  little genius, but some learning. He was by education strongly impressed with high ideas  of canon and feudal law, and fond of a system of government that had been  long obsolete in England and had never had an existence in America. His disposition  was choleric and sanguine, obstinate and designing, yet too open and frank to  disguise his intrigues, and too precipitant to bring them to maturity. A revision of colony  charters, a resumption of former privileges, and an American revenue were  the constant topics of his letters to administration. [See his pamphlet on law and polity  and his letters to the British ministry, while he resided in Massachusetts.] To  prove the necessity of these measures, the most trivial disturbance was magnified to a  riot; and to give a pretext to these wicked insinuations, it was thought by many  that tumults were frequently excited by the indiscretion or malignancy of his own  partisans.  

The declaratory bill still hung suspended over the heads of the Americans, nor was it  suffered to remain long without trying its operative effects. The clause holding up  a right to tax American at pleasure and "to bind them in all cases whatsoever" was  comprehensive and alarming. Yet it was not generally expected that the ministry  would soon endeavor to avail themselves of the dangerous experiment; but, in this, the  public were mistaken.  

It was already been observed that the arbitrary disposition of George III, the absurd  system of policy adopted in conformity to his principles, and a parliamentary  majority at the command of the ministry rendered it not difficult to enforce any  measures that might tend to an accession to the powers of the crown. It was a just  sentiment of an elegant writer that "almost all the vices of royalty have been principally  occasioned by a slavish adulation in the language of their subjects; and to the  shame of the English it must be said that none of the enslaved nations in the world have  addressed the throne in a more fulsome and hyperbolical style." [Mrs.  Macauley's letter to Earl Stanhope.]  

The dignity of the crown, the supremacy of parliament, and the disloyalty of the  colonies were the theme of the court, the echo of its creatures, and of the British  nation in general. Nor was it thought good policy to let the high claims of government  lie long in a dormant state. Accordingly, not many months after the repeal of the  Stamp Act, the chancellor of the exchequer, Charles Townshend, Esquire, came forward  and pawned his character on the success of a new attempt to tax the  American colonies. He was a gentleman of conspicuous abilities and much professional  knowledge. Endowed with more boldness than discretion, he had "the talent  of bringing together at once all that was necessary to establish, to illustrate, and to  decorate the side of the question he was on." [A writer has more recently  observed that Charles Townshend was a man of rising parliamentary reputation and  brilliant talents; but capricious, insincere, intriguing, and wholly destitute of  discretion or solidity. Belsham on the reign of George III.]  

He introduced several bills in support of his sanguinary designs, which without much  difficulty obtained the sanction of parliament and the royal assent. The purport of  this new project for revenue was to levy certain duties on paper, glass, painters' colors,  and several other articles usually imported into America. It was also directed  that the duties on India teas, which had been a productive source of revenue in England,  should be taken off there, and three pence per pound levied on all kinds that  should in future be purchased in the colonies.  

This inconsiderable duty on teas finally became an object of high importance and  altercation. It was not the sum, but the principle that was contested. It manifestly  appeared that this was only a financiering expedient to raise a revenue from the colonies  by imperceptible taxes. The defenders of the privileges and the freedom of  the colonies, denied all parliamentary right to tax them in any way whatever. They  asserted that if the collection of this duty was permitted, it would establish a  precedent, and strengthen the claim parliament had assumed to tax them at pleasure. To  do it by the secret modes of imposts and excises would ruin their trade,  corrupt the morals of the people, and was more abhorrent in their eyes than a direct  demand. The most judicious and intelligent Americans at this time considered all  imperceptible taxes fraught with evils that tended to enslave any country plunged in the  boundless chaos of fiscal demands that this practice introduces.  

In consequence of the new system, a board of customs was instituted and commissioners  appointed to set in Boston to collect the duties which were besides other  purposes to supply a fund for the payment of the large salaries annexed to their office. A  civil list was soon after established and the governors of Massachusetts,  judges of the superior court, and such other officers as had heretofore depended on the  free grants of the representative body, were to be paid out of the revenue  chest.  

Thus rendered wholly independent of the general assembly, there was no check left on  the wanton exercise of power in the crown officers, however disposed they  might be to abuse their trust. The distance from the throne, it was said, must delay, if not  wholly prevent, all relief under any oppressions the people might suffer from  the servants of government.; and to crown the long list of  grievances, specified by the  patriots of the day, the extension of the courts of vice-admiralty was none of  the least. They were vested with certain powers that dispensed with the mode of trial by  jury, annihilated the privileges of Englishmen, and placed the liberty of every  man in the hand of a petty officer of the customers. By warrant of a writ of assistance  from the governor or lieutenant governor, any officer of the revenue was  authorized to enter the dwelling of the most respectable inhabitant on the smallest  suspicion of a concealment of contraband goods and to insult, search, or seize with  impunity.  

An attorney at law [Jonathan Sewall, a native of the province, whose pen had been  employed to vindicate the measures of administration and the conduct of  Governor Bernard, under the signature of Philalethes, Massachusettensis, etc., etc.] , of  some professional abilities and ingenuity, but without either property or  principle, was, by the instigation of Mr. Bernard, appointed sole judge of admiralty in  Massachusetts. The dangerous aspect of this court, particularly when aided by  writs of assistance, was opposed with peculiar energy and strength of argument, by  James Otis, Esquire of Boston, who, by the exertion of is talents and sacrifice of  interest, may justly claim the honor of laying the foundation of a revolution which has  been productive of the happiest effects to the civil and political interests of  mankind.  

He was the first champion of American freedom, who had the courage to put his  signature to the contest between Great Britain and the colonies. He had in a clear,  concise, and nervous manner, stated and vindicated the rights of the American colonies,  and published his observations in Boston, while the Stamp Act hung  suspended. This tract was written with such a spirit of liberality loyalty, and impartiality,  that though at the time some were ready to pronounce it treasonable, yet,  when opposition run higher, many of the most judicious partisans of the crown were  willing to admit it as a just criterion of political truth. [See Mr. Otis's pamphlet,  entitle, "The rights of the colonies stated and vindicated."] But the author was abused  and vilified by the scribblers of the court, and threatened with an arrest from the  crown, for the boldness of his opinions. Yet he continued to advocate the rights of the  people, and in the course of his argument against the iniquitous consequences  of writs of assistance, he observed that "his engaging in this cause had raised the  resentment of its abettors; but that he argued it from principle and with peculiar  pleasure, as it was in favor of British liberty, and in opposition t the exercise of a power  that in former periods of English history had cost one king of England his  head and another his crown." He added, "I can sincerely declare that I submit myself to  every opprobrious name for conscience sake, and despise all those, whom  guilt, folly, or malice have made my foes."  

It was on this occasion that Mr. Otis resigned the office of judge advocate and  renounced all employment under so corrupt an administration, boldly declaring in the  face of the supreme court at this dangerous crisis that "the only principle of public  conduct worthy a gentleman or a man was the sacrifice of health, ease, applause,  estate, or even life, to the sacred calls of his country; that these manly sentiments in  private life made the good citizen, in public, the patriot, and the hero." Thus was  verified in his conduct the observation of a writer of merit and celebrity that "it was as  difficult for Great Britain to frighten as to cheat Americans into servitude; that  she ought to leave them in the peaceable possession of that liberty which they received  at their birth, and were resolved to retain to their death." [Mr. Dickenson,  author of the much admired "Farmer's Letters," the first copy of which he enclosed to  his friend, Mr. Otis, and observed to him, that "the examples of public spirits in  the cold regions of the north had roused the languid latitudes of the south to a proper  

vindication of their rights." (see Note 5 at the end of this chapter)

When the new parliamentary regulations reached America, all the colonies in their  several departments petitioned in the most strenuous manner against any American  taxation, and all other recent innovations relative to the government of the British  provinces. These petitions were, when received by the ministry, treated by them  with the utmost contempt. But they were supported by a respectable party in the  parliament of Britain, who did not neglect to warm the administration of the danger  of precipitating measures that might require before the termination of a contest thus  hurried on "more virtue and abilities than the ministry possessed." By some steps taken by administration previous to the present period, there was reason  to suppose that they were themselves apprehensive, that their system for  governing the colonies in a more arbitrary manner would give great offense, and create  disturbances of so alarming a nature that perhaps the aid of military power  might become necessary to enforce the completion of their designs. Doubtless it was  with a view of facilitating the new projects that an extraordinary bill had been  passed in parliament, making it lawful for the officers of the British army to quarter their  troops in private houses through the colonies. Thus while mixed in every  family, it might become more easy to awe the people into submission, and compel them  by military terrors to the basest compliances. But the colony agents residing  in London and the merchants concerned in the American trade remonstrated so warmly  against the injustice and cruelty of such a procedure that a part of the bill was  dropped. Yet it was too important a point wholly to relinquish; of consequence a clause  was left, obliging the several legislative assemblies to provide quarters for the  king's marching regiments and furnish a number of specified articles at the expense of  the province, wherever they might be stationed.

The act continued in full force after the Stamp Act was repealed though it equally  militated with part of the British constitution which provides that no moneys should  be raised on the subject without his consent. Yet rather than enter on a new dispute, the  colonists in general chose to evade it for the present and without many  observations thereon had occasionally made some voluntary provisions for the support  the king's troops. It was hoped the act might be only a temporary expedient  to hold up the authority of parliament and that in a short time the claim might die of  itself without any attempt to revive such an unreasonable demand. But New York,  more explicit in her refusal to obey, was suspended from all powers of legislation until  the Quartering Act should be complied with in the fullest extent. By this  unprecedented treatment of one of the colonies, and innumerable exactions and  restrictions on all, a general apprehension prevailed, that nothing but a firm, vigorous  and united resistance could shield from the attacks that threatened the total extinction of  civil liberty through the continent.


Note 2

Virginia Resolves. On May 29, 1765, the House of Burgesses of Virginia came to the  following resolutions: "Whereas the honorable House of Commons in England  have late drawn into question how far the general assembly of this colony has power to  enact laws for laying taxes and imposing duties payable to the pope of this his  majesty's most ancient colony -- For settling and ascertaining the same to all future  times, the House of Burgesses of this present general assembly have come to the  several following resolutions:

Resolved, That the first adventurers and settlers of this his majesty's colony and  dominion of Virginia brought with them and transmitted to their posterity and all  others, his majesty's subjects since inhabiting in this is majesty's colony, all the  privileges and immunities that have at any time been held, enjoyed, and possessed by  the people of Great Britain.

Resolved, That by the two royal charters granted by King James the First, the colonists  aforesaid are declared entitled to all privileges of faithful, liege, and natural  born subjects, to all intents and purposes, as if they had been abiding and born within the  realm of England.

Resolved, That his majesty's liege people of this his most ancient colony have enjoyed  the right being thus governed by their own assembly, in the article of taxes and  internal police; and that the same have never been forfeited or any other way yielded up,  but have been constantly recognized by the kind and people of Great  Britain.

Resolved therefore, That the general assembly of the colony, together with his majesty  or his substitute have in their representative capacity the only exclusive right  and power to levy taxes and impositions on the inhabitants of this colony and that every  attempt to vest such a power in any person or persons whatsoever other  than the general assembly aforesaid is illegal, unconstitutional, and unjust, and has a  manifest tendency to destroy British, as well as American freedom.

The following resolves were not passed, though drawn up by the committee. They are  inserted as a specimen of the first and early energies of the Old Dominion, as  Virginia is usually called.

Resolved, That his majesty's liege people, the inhabitants of this colony, are not bound  to yield obedience to any law or ordinance whatsoever designed to impose  any taxation whatsoever upon them, other than the laws and ordinances of the general  assembly aforesaid.

Resolved, That any person who shall by speaking or writing maintain that any person or  persons other than the general assembly of this colony have any right or  power to impose or lay any taxation whatsoever on the people here shall be deemed an  enemy to this his majesty's colony.


Note 3

On October 21, the freeholders and other inhabitants of the town of Plymouth had a  meeting and unanimously agreed on instructions to Thomas Foster, Esquire,  their representative in the general assembly of Massachusetts Bay. In which, after  expressing the highest esteem for the British constitution, showing how far the  people of America have exerted themselves in support thereof, and detailing their  grievances, they proceed as follows:

"You, sir, represent a people who are not only descended from the first settlers of this  country, but inhabit the very spot they first possessed. Here was first laid the  foundation of the British empire in this part of America, which from a very small  beginning has increased and spread in a manner very surprising and almost  incredible; especially when we consider that all this has been effected without the aid of  assistance of any power on earth; that we have defended, protected, and  secured ourselves, against the invasions and cruelty of savages, and the subtlety and  inhumanity of our inveterate and natural enemies the French: and all this without  the appropriation of any tax by stamps or stamp acts laid upon our fellow subjects in any  part of the king's dominions, for defraying the expenses thereof. This place,  sir, was at first the asylum of liberty, and we hope will ever be preserved sacred to it;  thought it was then no more than a forlorn wilderness, inhabited only by savage  men and beasts. To this place our fathers, (whose memories be revere!) possessed of the  principles of liberty in their purity, disdaining slavery, fled, to enjoy those  privileges which they had an undoubted right to, but were deprived of by the hands of  violence and oppression in their native country. WE, sir, their posterity, the  freeholders and other inhabitants of this town, legally assembled for that purpose,  possessed of the same sentiments and retaining the same ardor for liberty, think it  our indispensable duty on this occasion to express to you these our sentiments of the  Stamp Act and its fatal consequences to this country, and to enjoin upon you,  as you regard not only the welfare, but the very being of this people, that you (consistent  with our allegiance to the king, and relation to the government of Great  Britain) disregarding all proposals for that purpose, exert all your power and influence in  relation to the Stamp Act, at least until we hear the success of our petitions  for relief. We likewise, to avoid disgracing the memories of our ancestors, as well as the  reproaches of our own consciences, and the curses of posterity,  recommend it to you to obtain, if possible, in the honorable house of representatives of  this province, a full and explicit assertion of our rights, and to have the same  entered on their public records -- that all generations yet to come may be convinced that  we have not only a just sense of our rights and liberties, but that we never  (with submission to Divine Providence) will be slaves to any power on earth. And as we  have at all times an abhorrence of tumults and disorders, we think ourselves  happy in being at present under no apprehensions of any, and in having good and  wholesome laws, sufficient to preserve the peace of the province in all future times,  unless provoked by some imprudent measure; so we think it by no means advisable for  you to interest yourself in the protection of stamp papers and stamp officers. "The only thing we have further to recommend to you at this time is to observe on all  occasions a suitable frugality and economy in the public expenses; and that you  consent to no unnecessary or unusual grant at this time of distress, when the people are  groaning under the burden of heavy taxes; and that you use your endeavors  to inquire into and bear testimony against any past, and prevent any future,  unconstitutional draughts on the public treasury."

***************************  Note 4

Names of the gentlemen delegated to meet at New York, in 1765, on the occasion of the  Stamp Act, with the resolves of this first American congress.

From the province of Massachusetts Bay. James Otis, Oliver Partridge, Timothy Ruggles, Esquires

From the colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Metcalf Bowler, Henry Ward, Esquires

From the colony of Connecticut. Eliphalet Dyer, David Rowland, William Samuel Johnson, Esquires

From the colony of New York. Robert R. Livingston, John Cruger, William Bayard, Leonard Lispenard, Esquires

From the colony of New Jersey.  Robert Ogden, Hendrick Fisher, Joseph Borden, Esquires  

From the province of Pennsylvania.  John Dickenson, John Morton, George Bryan, Esquires  

From the government of the counties of Newcastle, Kent and Sussex, on Delaware.  Caesar Rodney, Thomas McKean, Esquires  

From the province of Maryland.  William Murdock, Edward Tilghman, Thomas Ringold, Esquires  

From the province of South Carolina.  Thomas Lynch, Christopher Gadsden, John Rutledge, Esquires  

Saturday, A.M., October 19, 1765.  

The congress met according to adjournment, and resumed etc. as yesterday, and upon  mature deliberation, agreed to the following declarations of the rights and  grievances of the colonists in America, which were ordered to be inserted in their  journals.  

The members of this congress sincerely devoted with the warmest sentiments of  affection and duty to his majesty's person and government, inviolably attached to the  present happy establishment of the protestant succession, and with minds deeply  impressed by a sense of the present and impending misfortunes of the British  colonies on this continent, having considered as maturely as time will permit the  circumstances of the said colonies, esteem it our indispensable duty to make the  following declarations of our humble opinion, respecting the most essential rights and  liberties of the colonists, and of the grievances under which they labor, by  reason of several late acts of parliament.  

I. That his majesty's subjects in these colonies owe the same allegiance to the crown of  Great Britain that is owing from his subjects born within the realm, and all due  subordination to the august body, the parliament of Great Britain.  

II. That his majesty's liege subjects in these colonies are entitled to all the inherent rights  and liberties of his natural born subjects within the kingdom of Great Britain.  

III. That it is inseparably essential to the freedom of a people and the undoubted right of  Englishmen that no taxes be imposed on them but with their own consent,  given personally or by their representatives.  

IV. That the people of these colonies are not, and from their local circumstances cannot,  be represented in the House of Commons in Great Britain.  

V. That the only representatives of the people of these colonies are people chosen by  themselves, and that no taxes ever have been or can be constitutionally  imposed on them but by their respective legislatures.  

VI. That all supplies to the crown being free gifts of the people, it is unreasonable and  inconsistent with the principles and spirit of the British constitution for the  people of Great Britain to grant to his majesty the property of the colonists.  

VII. That trial by jury is the inherent and invaluable right of every British subject in  these colonies.  

VIII. That the late act of parliament entitle "An act for granting and applying certain  stamp duties and other duties in the British colonies and plantations in American  etc." by imposing taxes on the inhabitants of these colonies and the same act and several  other acts by extending the jurisdiction of the courts of admiralty beyond its  ancient limits, have a manifest tendency to subvert the rights and liberties of the  colonists.  

IX. That the duties imposed by several late acts of the British parliament, from the  peculiar circumstances of these colonies will be extremely burdensome and  grievous, and from the scarcity of specie, the payment of them absolutely impracticable.  

X. That as the profits of the trade of these colonies ultimately center in Great Britain, to  pay for the manufactures which they are obliged to take from thence, they  eventually contribute very largely to all supplies granted there to the crown.  

XI. That the restrictions imposed by several late acts of parliament on the trade of these  colonies, will render them unable to purchase the manufactures of Great  Britain.  

XII. That the increase, prosperity, and happiness of these colonies, depend on the full  and free enjoyment of their rights and liberties, and an intercourse with Great  Britain, mutually affectionate and advantageous.  

XIII. That it is the right of the British subjects in the colonies to petition the king or  either house of parliament.  

LASTLY. That it is the indispensable duty of these colonies, to the best of sovereigns, to  the mother country, and to themselves, to endeavor by a loyal and dutiful  address to his majesty, and humble applications to both houses of parliament, to procure  the repeal of the act for granting and applying certain stamp-duties; of all  clauses of any other acts of parliament whereby the jurisdiction of the admiralty is  extended as aforesaid; and of the other late acts for the restriction of American  commerce.  

After these resolves, they chose Thomas Lynch, James Otis, and Thomas McKean,  Esquires, to prepare a petition to the house of commons. An address to the king  and to the house of lords was also prepared and forwarded.

************************** Note 5

Copy from Mr. Dickenson's original letter to Mr. Otis, accompanying the celebrated  "Farmer's Letter." Philadelphia, Dec. 5, 1767

Dear Sir, The liberties of our common country appear to me to be at this moment exposed to the  most imminent danger; and this apprehension has engaged me to lay my  sentiments before the public in letters, of which I send you a copy;. Only one has yet published; and what their effect may be cannot yet be known. But  whenever the cause of American freedom is to be vindicated, I look toward the  prince of Massachusetts Bay. She must, as she has hitherto done, first kindle the sacred  flame, that on such occasions must warm and illuminate this continent. Words are wanting to express my sense of the vigilance, perseverance, spirit, prudence,  resolution, and firmness, with which your colony has distinguished herself, in  our unhappy times. May God ever grant her noble labors the same successful issue  which was obtained by the repeal of the Stamp Act. In my gratitude to your province in general, I do not forget the obligation which all  Americans are under to you in particular, for the indefatigable zeal and undaunted  courage you have shown in defending their rights. My opinion of your love for your  country induces me to commit to your hands the enclosed letters, to be disposed  of as you think proper, not intending to give out any other copy. I have shown them to  three men of learning here, who are my friends. They think with me that the  most destructive consequences must follow if these colonies do not instantly,  vigorously, and unanimously unite themselves in the same manner they did against the  Stamp Act. Perhaps they and I are mistaken; I therefore send the piece containing the  reasons for this opinion, to you, who I know can determine its true worth; and  if you can discover no other merit in it, permit me at least to claim the merit of having  wrote it with the most ardent affection for the British colonies the purest  intentions to promote their welfare, an honest desire to assert their rights, and with deep  sense of their impending misfortunes. Our cause is a cause of the highest dignity: it is nothing less than to maintain the liberty  with which Heaven itself "hath made us free." I hope it will not be disgraced in  any colony by a single rash step. We have constitutional methods of seeking redress, and  they are the best methods. This subject lead me to inform you with pleasure, because I think it must give you  pleasure, that the moderation of your conduct in composing the minds of your  fellow-citizens, has done you the highest credit with us. You may be assured I feel a  great satisfaction in hearing your praises; for every thing that advances your  reputation or interest, will always afford sincere joy to, dear sir, Your most affectionate and  

Most humble servant,  

John Dickenson.  

To Honorable James Otis, Junior, Esquire


Chapter Three: Cursory Observations. Massachusetts Circular Letter. A new House of  Representatives called. Governor  Bernard impeached. A riot on the seizure of a vessel. Troops arrive. A Combination  against all commerce with Great Britain. A  General Assembly convened at Boston, removed to Cambridge. Governor Bernard after  his impeachment repairs to England.

The British colonies at this period through the American continent contained, exclusive  of Canada and Nova Scotia, the provinces of New Hampshire and  Massachusetts Bay, of Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey,  Pennsylvania, the Delaware counties, Virginia, Maryland, the two Carolinas, and  Georgia, besides the Floridas, and an unbounded tract of wilderness not yet explored.  These several provinces had been always governed by their own distinct  legislatures. It is true there was some variety in their religious opinions, but a striking  similarity in their political institutions, except in the proprietary governments. At  the same time the colonies, afterwards the thirteen states, were equally marked with that  manly spirit of freedom, characteristic of Americans from New Hampshire  to Georgia.

Aroused by the same injuries from the parent state, threatened in the same manner by  the common enemies to the rights of society among themselves, their petitions  to the throne had been suppressed without even a reading, their remonstrances were  ridiculed and their supplications rejected. They determined no longer to submit.  All stood ready to unite in the same measures to obtain that redress of grievances they  had so long requested, and that relief from burdens they had so long  complained of, to so little purpose. Yet there was no bond of connection by which a  similarity of sentiment and concord in action might appear, whether they were  again disposed to revert to the hitherto fruitless mode of petition and remonstrance, or to  leave that humiliating path for a line of conduct more cogent and influential  in the contests of nations.

A circular letter dated February 11, 1768. by the legislature of Massachusetts, directed  to the representatives and burgesses of the people through the continent, was  a measure well calculated for this salutary purpose. (see Note 6 at the end of this  chapter) This letter painted in the strongest colors the difficulties they apprehended,  the embarrassments they felt, and the steps already taken to obtain relief. It contained  the full opinion of that assembly relative to the late acts of parliament; while at  the same time they expatiated on their duty and attachment to the King, and detailed in  terms of respect the representations that had been made to his ministers, they  expressed the boldest determination to continue a free but loyal people. Indeed there  were few, if any, who indulged an idea of a final separation from Britain at so  early a period; or that even wished for more than an equal participation of the privileges  of the British constitution.

Independence was a plant of later growth. Though the soil might be congenial, and the  boundaries of nature pointed out the event, yet every one chose to view it at a  distance, rather than wished to witness the convulsions that such a dismemberment of  the empire must necessarily occasion.

After the circulation of this alarming letter (see Note 7 at the end of this chapter),  wherever any of the governors had permitted the legislative bodies to meet, an  answer was returned by the assemblies replete with encomiums on the exertion and zeal  of the Massachusetts. They observed that the spirit that dictated that letter  was but a transcript of their own feelings; and that though equally impressed with every  sentiment of respect to the prince on the throne of Britain, and feeling the  strongest attachment to the house of Hanover, they could not but reject with disdain the  late measures so repugnant to the dignity of the crown and the true interest of  the realm; and that at every hazard they were determined to resist all acts of parliament  for the injurious purpose of raising a revenue in America. They also added  that they had respectively offered the most humble supplications to the kind; that they  had remonstrated to both houses of parliament, and had directed their agents at  the British court to leave no effort untried to obtain relief, without being compelled to  what might be deemed by royalty an illegal mode of opposition.

In consequence of the spirited proceedings of the House of Representatives, the General  Assembly of Massachusetts was dissolved, nor were they suffered to meet  again until a new election. These transactions were carefully transmitted to  administration by several of the plantation governors, and particularly Mr. Bernard, with  inflammatory observations of his own, interlarded with the most illiberal abuse of the  principal leaders of the late measures in the Assembly of Massachusetts.

Their charter, which still provided for the election of the legislature, obliged the  governor to summon a new assembly to meet May 24, 1768. The first communication  laid before the House by the governor contained a haughty requisition from the British  minister of state, directing in his majesty's name that the present House should  immediately rescind the resolutions of a former one, which had produced the celebrated  circular letter. Governor Bernard also intimated that it was his majesty's  pleasure that on a non-compliance with this extraordinary mandate the present assembly  should be dissolved without delay.

What heightened the resentment to the manner of this singular order signed by Lord  Hillsborough, secretary of state for the American department, was that he therein  intimated to the governor that he need not fear the most unqualified obedience on his  part to the high measure of administration, assuring him that it would not operate  to his disadvantage, as care would be taken in future to provide for his interest and to  support the dignity of government, without the interpositions or existence of a  provincial legislature.

These messages were received by the representative body with a steadiness and  resolution  becoming the defenders of the rights of a free people. After appointing a  committee to consider and prepare an answer to them, they proceeded with great  coolness to the usual business of the session, without further notice of what had  passed.

Within a day or two, they received  second message from the governor, purporting that  he expected an immediate and an explicit answer to the authoritative  requisition; and that if they longer postponed their resolutions, he should consider their  delay as an "oppugnation to his majesty's authority, and a negative to the  command, by an expiring faction." On this, the House desired time to consult their  constituents on such an extraordinary question.  This being peremptorily and  petulantly refused, the House ordered the Board of Council to be informed that they  were entering on a debate of important, that they should give them notice when  it was over, and directed the doorkeeper to call no member out, on any pretense  whatever.

The committee appointed to answer the governor's several messages were gentlemen of  known attachment to the cause of their country, who on every occasion had  rejected all servile compliances with ministerial requisitions. They were not long on the  business.  When they returned to the House, the galleries were immediately  cleared, and they reported on answer, bold and determined, yet decent an disloyal. In the  course of their reply, they observed that it was not an "expiring faction,"  that the governor had charged with "oppugnation to this majesty's authority," that it was  the best blood of the colony who opposed the ministerial measures, men of  reputation, fortune and rank, equal to any who enjoyed the smiles of government; that  their exertions were from a conscious sense of duty to their God, to their King,  to their country, and to posterity. [The principal members of this committee were Major  Joseph Hawley of Northampton, James Otis, Esquire of Boston, Samuel  Adams, James Warren of Plymouth, John Hancock, and Thomas Cushing, Esquires.]  

This committee at the same time reported a very spirited letter to Lord Hillsborough,  which they had prepared to lay before the House. In this they remonstrated on  the injustice as well as absurdity of a requisition when a  compliance was impracticable,  even had they the inclination to rescind the doings of a former house. This  letter was approved by the house, and on division on the question of rescinding the vote  of a former Assembly, it was negatived by a majority of 92 to 17.  

The same committee was immediately nominated to prepare a petition to the King to  remove Mr. Bernard from the government of Massachusetts. They drew up a  petition for this purpose without leaving the House and immediately reported it. They  alleged a long list of accusations against the governor, and requested his  majesty that one more worthy to represent so great and good a king might be sent to  preside in the province. Thus impeached by the house, the same minority that  had appeared ready to rescind the circular letter declared themselves against the  impeachment of Governor Bernard [Journals of the house.] Their servility was  marked with peculiar odium: they were stigmatized by the appellation of the infamous  17, until their names were lost in a succession of great events and more  important characters.  

When the doors of the House were opened, the secretary who had been long in waiting  for admission informed the House that the governor was in the chair and  desired their attendance in the Council Chamber. They complied without hesitation, but  were received in a most ungracious manner. With much ill humor, the  Governor reprimanded them in the language of an angry pedagogue, instead of the  manner becoming the first magistrate when addressing the representatives of a  free people: he concluded his harangue by proroguing the assembly, which within a few  days he dissolved by proclamation.  

In the mean time by warm and virulent letters from the indiscreet Governor; by others  full of invective from the commissioners of the customers, and by the secret  influence of some, who yet concealed themselves within the vizard of moderation, "who  held the language of patriotism, but trod in the footsteps of tyranny," leave  was obtained from administration to apply to the commander in chief of the King's  troops, then at New York, to send several regiments to Boston, as a necessary  aid to civil government, which they represented as too weak to suppress the disorders of  the times. It was urged that this step was absolutely necessary to enable the  officers of the crown to carry into execution the laws of the supreme legislature.

A new pretext had been recently given to the malignant party, to urge with the show of  plausibility the immediate necessity of the military arm to quell the riotous  proceedings of the town of Boston, to strengthen the hands of government, and restore  order and tranquility to the province. The seizure of a vessel belonging to a  popular gentleman, [John Hancock, Esquire, afterwards governor of the Massachusetts],  under suspicion of a breach of the acts of trade, raised a sudden  resentment among the citizens of Boston. The conduct of the owner was indeed  reprehensible, in permitting a part of the cargo to be unladen in a clandestine manner;  but the mode of the seizure appeared like a design to raise a sudden ferment, that might  be improved to corroborate the arguments for the necessity of standing  troops to be stationed within the town.

On a certain signal, a number of boats, manned and armed, rowed up to the wharf, cut  the fasts of the suspected vessel, carried her off, and placed her under the  stern of a ship of war, as if apprehensive of a rescue. This was executed in the edge of  the evening, when apprentices and the younger classes were usually in the  streets. It had what was thought to be the desired effect; the inconsiderate rabble,  unapprehensive of the snare, and thoughtless of consequences, pelted some of the  custom-house officers with brick-bats, broke their windows, drew one of their boats  before the door of the gentleman they thought injured, and set it on fire; after  which they dispersed without further mischief.

This trivial disturbance was exaggerated until it wore the complexion of a riot of the  first magnitude. By the insinuations of the party and their malignant conduct, it  was not strange that in England it was considered as a London mob collected in the  streets of Boston, with some formidable desperado at their head. After this  fracas, the custom-house officers repaired immediately to Castle William as did the  Board of Commissioners. This fortress was about a league from the town. From  thence they expressed their apprehensions of personal danger, in strong language. Fresh  applications were made to General Gage to hasten on his forces from New  York, assuring him that the lives of the officers of the Crown were insecure unless  placed beyond the reach of popular resentment, by an immediate military aid. In  consequence of these representations, several detachments from Halifax, and two  regiments lately from Ireland, were directed to repair to Boston with all possible  dispatch.

The experience of all ages, and the observations both of the historian and the  philosopher agree that a standing army is the most ready engine in the hand of  despotism to debase the powers of the human mind and eradicate the manly spirit of  freedom. The people have certainly everything to fear from a government when  the springs of its authority are fortified only a standing military force. Wherever an  army is established, it introduces a revolution in manners, corrupts the morals,  propagates every species of vice, and degrades the human character.  Threatened with  the immediate introduction of this dream calamity, deprived by the dissolution  of their legislature of all power to make any legal opposition; neglected by their  Sovereign, and insulted by the Governor he had set over them, much the largest part  of the community was convinced that they had no resource but in the strength of their  virtues, the energy of their resolutions, and the justice of their cause.

In this state of general apprehension, confusion, and suspense, the inhabitants of Boston  again requested Governor Bernard to convoke an Assembly, and suffer the  representatives of the whole people to consult and advise at this critical conjuncture. He  rejected this application with  an air of insult, and no time was to be lost.  Letters were instantly forwarded from the capital, requesting a delegation of suitable  persons to met in convention from every town in the province before the arrival  of the troops, and if possible, to take some steps to prevent the fatal effects of these  dangerous and unprecedented measures.

The whole country felt themselves interested, ad readily complied with the proposal.   The most respectable persons from 196 towns were chosen delegates to  assemble at Boston, on September 22.  They accordingly met at that time and place; as  soon as they were convened, the Governor sent them an angry message,  admonishing them immediately to disperse, assuring them "the King was determined to  maintain his entire sovereignty over the province -- that their present meeting  might be in consequence of their ignorance -- that that if after this admonition, they  continued their usurpation, they might repent their temerity, as he was determined  to assert the authority of the Crown in a more public manner, if they continued to  disregard this authoritative warning."

He, however, found he had not men to deal with, either ignorant of law, regardless of its  sanctions, or terrified by the frowns of power. The Convention made him a  spirited but decent answer, containing the reasons of their assembling, and the line of  conduct they were determined to pursue in spite of every menace. The  

Governor refused to receive their reply; he urged the illegality of the Assembly, and  made use of every subterfuge to interrupt their proceedings.

Their situation was indeed truly delicate, as well as dangerous.  The Convention was a  body not known in the constitution of their government, and in the strict sense  of law, it might be styled a treasonable meeting.  They still professed fealty to the  Crown of Britain; and though the principle had been shaken by injuries, that might  have justified a more sudden renunciation of loyalty, yet theirs was cherished by a  degree of religious scruple, amidst every species of insult.  Thus while they wished  to support this temper, and to cherish their former affection, they felt with poignancy the  invasion of their rights, and hourly expected the arrival of an armed force, to  back the threatenings of their first magistrate.

Great prudence and moderation, however, marked the transactions of an assembly of  men thus circumstanced; they could in their present situation only recapitulate  their sufferings, felt and feared. This they did in a pointed and nervous style, in a letter  addressed to Mr. De Berdt, [See letter to Mr. De Berdt, in the journals of the  House.], the agent of the province, residing in London.  They stated the circumstances  that occasioned their meeting, and a full detail of their proceedings.  They  enclosed a petition to the king, and ordered their agent to deliver it with his own hand.   The Convention then separated, ad returned to their respective towns, where  they impressed on their constituents the same perseverance, forbearance, and  magnanimity that had marked their own resolutions.

Within a few days after the separation, the troops arrived from Halifax. This was indeed  a painful era. The American War may be dated from the hostile parade of  this day; a day which marks with infamy the councils of Britain. At this period, the  inhabitants of the colonies almost universally breathed an unshaken loyalty to the  

King of England, and the strongest attachment to a country whence they derived their  origin.  Thus was the astonishment of the whole province excited, when to the  grief and consternation of the town of Boston several regiments were landed and  marched, sword in hand, through the principal streets of their city, then in profound  peace.

The disembarkation of the King's troops, which took place on October 1, 1768, was  viewed by a vast crowd of spectators, who beheld the solemn prelude to  devastation and bloodshed with a kind of sullen silence, that denoted the deepest  resentment.  Yet whatever might be the feelings of the citizens, not one among the  gazing multitude discovered any disposition to resist by arms the power and authority of  the King of Great Britain. This appearance of decent submission and order  was very unexpected to some, whose guilty fears had led them to expect a violent and  tumultuous resistance to the landing of a large body of armed soldiers in the  town.  The peaceable demeanor of the people was construed, by the party who had  brought this evil on the city, as a mark of abject submission.

As they supposed from the present acquiescent deportment that the spirit of the  inhabitants was totally subdued on the first appearance of military power, they  consequently rose in their demands.  General Gage arrived from New York soon after  the King's troops reached Boston.  With the aid of the Governor, the Chief  Justice of the province, and the Sheriff of the County of Suffolk, he forced quarters for  his soldiers in all the unoccupied houses in the town.  The Council convened  on this occasion opposed the measure; but to such a height was the insolence of power  pushed, by their passionate, vindictive, and wrong-headed Governor, that in  spite of the remonstrances of several magistrates, and the importunities of the people, he  suffered the State House, where the archives of the province were  deposited, to be improved as barracks for the King's troops. Thus the members of  Council, the magistrates of the town, and the courts of justice were daily  interrupted, and frequently challenged in their way to their several departments in  business, by military sentinels posted at the doors.

A standing army thus placed in their capital, their commerce fettered, their characters  traduced, their representative body prevented meeting, the united petitions of  all ranks that they might be convened at this critical conjuncture rejected by the  Governor; and still threatened with a further augmentation of troops to enforce  measures of ever view repugnant to the principles of the British constitution; little hope  remained of a peaceful accommodation.

The most rational arguments had been urged by the legislative assemblies, by corporate  bodies, associations, and individual characters of eminence, to shake the  arbitrary system that augured evils to both countries.  But their addresses were  disdainfully rejected; the King and court of Great Britain appeared equally deaf to the  cry of millions, who only asked a restoration of their rights. At the same time, every  worthless incendiary, who, taking advantage of these miserable times, crossed  the Atlantic with a tale of accusation against his country, was listened to with attention,  and rewarded with some token of royal favor.

In this situation, no remedy appeared to be left, short of an appeal to the sword, unless  an entire suspension of that commercial intercourse which had contributed so  much to the glory and grandeur of Britain, could be effected throughout the colonies.   As all the American continent was involved in one common danger, it was not  found difficult to obtain a general combination against all further importations from  England, a few articles only excepted. The mercantile body through all the  provinces entered into solemn engagements, and plighted their faith and honor to each  other, and to their country, that no orders should be forwarded by them for  British or India goods within a limited term, except for certain specified articles of  necessary use. These engagements originated in Boston, and were for a time  strictly adhered to through all the colonies.  Great encouragement was given to  American manufactures, and if pride of apparel was at all indulged, it was in wearing  the stuffs fabricated in their own looms.   Harmony and union, prudence and economy,  industry and virtue, were inculcated in their publications and enforced by the  example of the most respectable characters.

In consequence of these determinations, the clamors of the British manufacturers arose  to tumult in many parts of the kingdom; but no artifice was neglected to quiet  the trading part of the nation.  There were some Americans who by letters encouraged  administration to persevere in their measures relative to the colonies, assuring  them in the strongest terms that the interruption of commerce was but a temporary  struggle, or rather an effort of despair. No one in the country urged his opinion  with more indiscreet zeal than Andre Oliver, Esquire, then Secretary in the  Massachusetts.  He suggested "that government should stipulate with the merchants in  England to purchase large quantities of goods proper for the American market; agreeing  beforehand to allow them a premium equal to the advance of their stock in  trade, if the price of their goods was not sufficiently enhanced by a tenfold demand in  future, even though the goods might lay on hand till this temporary stagnation of  

business should cease."  He concluded his political rhapsody with this inhuman boast to  this correspondent: "By such a step the game will be up with my  countrymen." [See the original letters of Mr. Oliver to Mr. Whately and others, which  were afterwards published in a pamphlet; also in the British Remembrancer,  1773.]

The prediction on both sides of the Atlantic that this combination, which depended  wholly on the commercial part of the community, could not be of long duration,  proved indeed too true. A regard to private interest ever operates more forcibly on the  bulk of mankind than the ties of honor, or the principles of patriotism; and  when the latter are incompatible with the former, the balance seldom hangs long in  equilibrium.  Thus it is not uncommon to see virtue, liberty, love of country, and  regard to character, sacrificed at the shrine of wealth.

The winter following this salutary combination, a partial repeal of the act imposing  duties on certain articles of British manufacture took place. ON this it immediately  appeared that some in New York had previously given conditional orders to their  correspondents that if the measures of Parliament should in any degree be relaxed,  that without farther application they should furnish them with large quantities of goods.  Several in the other colonies had discovered as much avidity for an early  importation as the Yorkers.  They had given similar orders, and both received larger  supplies than usual, of British merchandise, early in the spring of 1769.  The  people, of course, considered the agreement nullified by the conduct of the merchants,  and the intercourse with England for a time went on as usual, without any  check.  Thus, by breaking through the agreement within the limited time of restriction, a  measure was defeated which, had it been religiously observed, might have  prevented the tragical consequences which ensured.

After this event, a series of altercation and abuse, of recrimination and suspense, was  

kept up on both sides of the Atlantic, without much appearance of lenity on the  one side or decision on the other.  There appeared little disposition in Parliament to relax  the reins of government, and less in the Americans to yield implicit  obedience.  But whether from an opinion that they had taken the lead in opposition, or  whether from their having a greater proportion of British sycophants among  themselves, whose artful insinuations operated against their country, or from other  concurring circumstances, the Massachusetts was still the principal butt of  ministerial resentment.  It is therefore necessary yet to continue a more particular detail  of the situation of that province.

As their charter was not yet annihilated, Governor Bernard found himself under a  necessity, as the period of annual election approached, to issue writs to convene a  General Assembly.  Accordingly, a new House of Representatives met at Boston as  usual on May 31, 1769. They immediately petitioned the Governor to remove  the military parade that surrounded the State House, urging that such a hostile  appearance might over-awe their proceedings, and prevent the freedom of election  and debate.

A unanimous resolve passed, "that it was the opinion of the House that placing an armed  force in the metropolis while the General Assembly is there convened is a  breach of privilege, and totally inconsistent with the dignity and freedom with which  they ought to deliberate and determine; " adding, "that they meant ever to support  their constitutional rights, that they should never voluntarily recede from their just  claims, contained both in the letter and spirit of the constitution."

After several messages both from the Council and the House o Representatives, the  Governor, ever obstinate in error, declared he had no authority over the King's  troops, nor should he use any influence to have them removed. [Journals of the House,  1769.] Thus by express acknowledgment of the first magistrate, it appeared  that the military was set so far above the civil authority that the latter was totally unable  to check the wanton exercise of this newly established power in the province.  But the Assembly peremptorily determined to do no business while thus insulted by the  planting of cannon at the doors of the State House, and interrupted in their  solemn deliberations by the noisy evolutions of military discipline.

The royal charter required that they should proceed to the choice of a speaker, and the  election of a Council, the first day of the meeting of the Assembly. They had  conformed to this as usual, but protested against its being considered as a precedent on  any future emergency.  Thus amidst the warmest expressions of resentment  from all classes, for the indignity offered a free people by this haughty treatment of their  legislature, the Governor suffered them to sit several weeks without doing  business; and at last compelled them to give way to an armed force, by adjourning the  General Assembly to Cambridge.

The internal state of the province required the attention of the House at this critical  exigency of affairs. They, therefore, on their first meeting at Cambridge, resolved,  "That it was their opinion that the British constitution admits no armed force within the  realm, but for the purpose of offensive or defensive war.  That placing troops  in the colony in the midst of profound peace was a breach of privilege, an infraction on  the natural rights of the people,  and manifestly subversive of that happy form  of government they had hitherto enjoyed.  That the honor, dignity, and service of the  Sovereign should be attended to by that Assembly, so far as was consistent with  the just rights of the people, their own dignity, and the freedom of debate; but that  proceeding to business while an armed force was quartered in the province was  not a dereliction of the privileges legally claimed by the colony, but from necessity, and  that no undue advantage should be taken from their compliance."

After this, they had not time to do any other business before two messages of a very  extraordinary nature, in their opinion were laid before them. [Journals of the first  session at Cambridge.]  The first was an order under the sign-manual of the King, that  Mr. Bernard should repair to England to lay the state of the province before  him.  To this message was tacked a request from the Governor, that as he attended his  Majesty's pleasure as commander in chief of the province, his salary might be  continued, though absent.  The substance of the other message was an account of  General Gage's expenditures in quartering his troops in the town of Boston;  accompanied by an unqualified demand for the establishment of fund for the discharge  thereof.  The Governor added that he was requested by General Gage to  make requisition for future provision for quartering his troops within the town.

The subsequent resolves of the House on these messages were comformable to the usual  spirit of that Assembly.  They warmly censured both Governor Bernard  and General Gage for wantonly acting against the constitution; charged them with  making false and injurious representations against his Majesty's faithful subjects,  and discovering on all occasions, a most inimical disposition towards the colonies.   They observed that General Gage had rashly and impertinently intermeddled with  affairs altogether out of his line, and that he had betrayed a degree of ignorance equal to  his malice when he presumed to touch on the civil police of the province.   They complained heavily of the arbitrary designs of government, the introduction of a  standing army, and the encroachments on civil liberty; and concluded with a  declaration replete with sentiment so men conscious of their own freedom and integrity,  and deeply affected with the injuries offered their country.  They observed  that to the utmost of their power they should vindicate the rights of human nature and  the privileges of Englishmen, and explicitly declared that duty to their  constituents forbade a compliance with either of these messages.  This clear, decided  answer being delivered, the Governor summoned the House to attend, and  after a short, angry, and threatening speech, he prorogued the Assembly to January,  1770.

Governor Bernard immediately embarked for Europe, from whence he never more  returned to a country he had by his arbitrary disposition and indiscreet conduct  inflamed to a degree that required both judgment and prudence to cool, perhaps beyond  the abilities, and certainly incompatible with the views of the administration  in being.

The province had little reason to suppose that considerations of the interest of the people  had any part in the recall or detention of this mischievous emissary.  His  reception at Court, the summary proceedings with regard to his impeachment and trial,  and the character of the man appointed to succeed him, strongly counteracted  such a flattering opinion. Notwithstanding the high charges that had been alleged against  Governor Bernard, he was acquitted by the King and Council, without  allowing time to the Assembly to support their accusations, honored with a title, and  rewarded with a pension of 1000 pounds sterling per annum on the Irish  establishment.

Governor Bernard had reason to be perfectly satisfied with the success of his  appointment tot he government of Massachusetts as it related to his personal interest.   His conduct there procured him the smiles of the British Court, an honorary title, ad a  pension for life. Besides this, the legislature of that province had in the early  part of his administration, in a moment of complacency, or perhaps from digested policy  with a hope of bribing him to his duty and stimulating him to defend their  invaded rights, made him a grant of a very large tract of land, the whole of the island of  Mount Desert. This was afterwards reclaimed by a Madame Gregoire, in  right of her ancestors, who had obtained a patent of some part of that country in the  early days of European emigration. But as Governor Bernard's property in  American had never been confiscated, the General Assembly of Massachusetts  afterwards granted to his son, Sir John Bernard, who still possesses this territory,  two townships of land near the River Kennebeck, in lieu of the valuable isle recovered  by Madame Gregoire.


Note 6

This measure had been contemplated by several gentlemen a year or two before it took  place; among others, by the learned Jonathan Mayhew of Boston. See the  annexed letter written by him soon after the repeal of the Stamp Act. The abilities,  virtue, and patriotism of Doctor Mayhew were so distinguished that the following  fragment may be pleasing and particularly impressive, as it was the last letter he ever  wrote to anyone, and within three days after its date, this great and good man  closed his eyes on the politics and vanities of human life.

Lord's day morning, June 8, 1766

Honorable James Otis, Junior, Esquire


To a good man all the time is holy enough and none too holy to do good, or to think  upon it.

Cultivating a good understanding and hearty friendship between these colonies and their  several houses of assembly appears to me to be so necessary a part of  prudence and good policy, all things considered, that no favorable opportunity for that  purpose ought to be omitted. I think such a one now presents.  Would it not  be very proper and decorous for our assembly to send circular congratulatory letters to  all the rest, without exception, on the repeal and the present favorable aspect  of things?  Letters conceived at once in terms of warm friendship and regard to them, of  loyalty to the King, of filial affection towards the mother country, and  intimating a desire to cement and perpetuate union among ourselves, by all practicable  and laudable methods?  A good foundation is already laid for this latter, by the  late Congress, which in my poor opinion was a wise measure, and actually contributed  not a little towards our obtaining a redress of grievances, however some may  affect to disparage it.  Pursuing this track, and never losing sight of it, maybe of the  utmost importance to the colonies, on some future occasions, perhaps the only  means of perpetuating their liberties; for what may be hereafter we cannot tell, how  favorable soever present appearances may be.  It is not safe for the colonies to  sleep, since they will probably always have some wakeful enemies in Britain; and if  they should be such children as to do so, I hope there are at least some persons  too much of men and friends to them to rock the cradle or sing lullaby to them.

You have heard of the communion of churches, and I am very early tomorrow morning  to set out for Rutland, to assist at an ecclesiastical council.  Not expecting  to return this week, while I was thinking of this in my bed, with the dawn of day, the  great use and importance of a communion of colonies appeared to me in a very  strong light, which determined me immediately to set down these hints, in order to  transmit them to you. Not knowing but the house may be prorogued or dissolved  before my return, or having an opportunity to speak to you, you will make such a use of  them as you think proper, or none at all.

I have had a sight of the answer to the last very extraordinary speech [Speech of  Governor Bernard], with which I was much pleased.  It appears to me solid and  judicious, and though spirited, not more so than the case absolutely required, unless we  could be content to have an absolute and uncontrollable, instead of a limited,  constitutional governor. I cannot think the man will have one wise and good, much less  one truly great man at home to stand by him in so open and flagrant an attack  upon our charter rights and privileges.  But the less asperity in language the better,  provided there is firmness in adhering to our rights, in opposition to all  encroachments.

I am, sir Your most obedient, Humble servant, Jonathan Mayhew


Note 7

Copy of the circular letter which was sent from the House of Representatives of the  province of Massachusetts Bay to the speakers of the respective Houses of  Representatives and Burgesses on the continent of North America.

Province of the Massachusetts Bay, February 11, 1768


The House of Representatives of this province have taken into their serious  consideration the great difficulties that must accrue to themselves and their constituents,  by  the operation of the several acts of Parliament imposing duties and taxes on the  American colonies.

As it is a subject in which every colony is deeply interested, they have no reason to  doubt but your House is duly impressed with its importance; and that such  constitutional measures will be come into as are proper.  It seems to be necessary that all  possible care should be taken that the representations of the several  Assemblies, upon so delicate a point, should harmonize with each other. The House  therefore hope that this letter will be candidly considered, in no other light than  as expressing a disposition freely to communicate their mind to a sister colony upon a  common concern, in the same manner as they would be glad to receive the  sentiments of your, or any other House of Assembly on the continent.

The House have humbly represented to the ministry their own sentiments; that His  Majesty's high court of Parliament is the supreme legislative power over the whole  empire; that in all free states the constitution is fixed; and as the supreme legislative  derives its power and authority form the constitution, it cannot overleap the  bounds of it, without destroying its foundation.  That the constitution ascertains and  limits both sovereignty and allegiance; and therefore His Majesty's American  subjects, who acknowledge themselves bound by the ties of allegiance, have an  equitable claim to the full enjoyment of the fundamental rules of the British  constitution. That it is an essential, unalterable right in nature, engrafted into the British  constitution as a fundamental law, and ever held sacred and irrevocable by the  subjects within the realm, that what a man has honestly acquired is absolutely his own,  which he may freely give, but cannot be taken from him without his consent.   That the American subjects may therefore, exclusive of any consideration of charter  rights, with a decent firmness, adapted to the character of freemen and subjects,  assert this natural, constitutional right.

It is moreover their humble opinion, which they express with the greatest deference to  the wisdom of the Parliament, that the acts made there, imposing duties on the  people of this province for the sole and express purpose of raising a revenue, are  infringements of their natural and constitutional rights. Because as they are not  represented in the British Parliament, His Majesty's Commons in Britain, by those acts  grant their property without their consent.

The House further are of opinion that their constituents, considering their local  circumstances, cannot by any possibility be represented in Parliament; and that it will  forever be impracticable that they should be equally represented there, and consequently  not at all, being separated by an ocean of a thousand leagues.  That His  Majesty's royal predecessors for this reason were graciously pleased to form a  subordinate legislative here, that their subjects might enjoy the unalienable right of a  representation.  Also, that considering the utter impracticability of their ever being fully  and equally represented in Parliament, and the great expense that must  unavoidably attend even a partial representation there, this House think that a taxation of  their constituents, even without their consent, grievous as it is, would be  preferable to any representation that could be admitted for them there.

Upon these principles, and also considering that were the right in the Parliament ever so  clear, yet for obvious reasons it would be beyond the rule of equity that their  constituents should be taxed on the manufactures of Great Britain here, in addition to the  duties they pay for them in England, and other advantages arising to Great  Britain from the Acts of Trade; this House have preferred a humble, dutiful, and loyal  petition to Our Most Gracious Sovereign, and made such representations to  His Majesty's ministers as they apprehend would tend to obtain redress.

They have also submitted to consideration, whether any people can be said to enjoy any  degree of freedom, if the Crown, in addition to its undoubted authority of  constituting a governor, should appoint him such a stipend as it should judge proper,  without the consent of the people, and at their expense; and wither while the  judges of the land and other civil officers hold not their commissions during good  behavior, their having salaries appointed for them by the Crown, independent of the  people, has not a tendency to subvert the principles of equity, and endanger the  happiness and security of the subject.

In addition to these measures, the House have written a letter to their agent, Mr. De  Derdt, the sentiments of which he is directed to lay before the ministry; wherein  they take notice of the hardship of the Act for Preventing Mutiny and Deserting, which  requires the governor and council to provide enumerated articles for the  King's marching troops, and the people to pay the expense; and also the commission of  the gentlemen appointed commissioners of the customers, to reside in  America, which authorizes them to make as many appointments as they think fit, and to  pay the appointees what sums they please, for whole mal-conduct they are  no accountable. From when it may happen that officers of the Crown may be multiplied  to such a degree as to become dangerous to the liberty of the people, by  virtue of a commission which does not appear to this House to derive any such  advantages to trade as many have been led to expect.

These are the sentiments and proceedings of this House; and as they have too much  reason to believe that the enemies of the colonies have represented them to His  Majesty's ministers, and the Parliament, as factious, disloyal, and having a disposition to  make themselves independent of the mother country, they have taken  occasion in the most humble terms to assure His Majesty and his ministers, that with  regard to the people of this province and as they doubt not of all the colonies,  that the charge is unjust.

The House is fully satisfied that your Assembly is too generous and enlarged in  sentiment to believe that this letter proceeds from an ambition of taking the lead or  

dictating to the other assemblies. They freely submit their opinion to the judgment of  others, an shall take it kind in your House to point out to them anything further  that may be thought necessary.

This House cannot conclude without expressing their firm confidence in the King, our  common head and father, that the united and dutiful supplications of his  distressed American subjects will meet with his royal and favorable acceptance.

Signed by the Speaker.

A copy of the above letter is also, by order of the House, sent to Dennis De Berdt,  Esquire, agent to the province in London, that he might make use of it, if  necessary, to prevent any misrepresentations in England.


Chapter Four: Character of Mr. Hutchinson. Appointed Governor of Massachusetts. The  attempted Assassination of Mr.  Otiose. Transactions of the March 5, 1770. Arrival of the East India Company's Tea  Ships. Establishment of Committees of  Correspondence. The Right of Parliamentary Taxation without Representation urged by  Mr. Hutchinson. Articles of  Impeachment resolved on in the House of Representatives against Governor Hutchinson  and Lieutenant Governor Oliver.  Chief Justice of the Province impeached. Chief Justice of the Province impeached.  Boston Port Bill. Governor Hutchinson  leaves the Province.

It is ever painful to a candid mind to exhibit the deformed features of its own species;  yet truth requires a just portrait of the public delinquent, though he may possess  such a share of private virtue as would lead us to esteem the man in his domestic  character, while we detest his political, and execrate his public transactions.

The barriers of the British constitution broken over, and the ministry encouraged by  their sovereign, to pursue the iniquitous system against the colonies to the most  alarming extremities, they probably judged it a prudent expedient, in order to curb the  refractory spirit of the Massachusetts, perhaps bolder in sentiment and earlier  in opposition than some of the other colonies, to appoint a man to preside over them  who had renounced the quondam ideas of public virtue, and sacrificed all  principle of that nature on the altar of ambition.

Soon after the recall of Mr. Bernard, Thomas Hutchinson, Esq., a native of Boston, was  appointed to the government of Massachusetts. All who yet remember his  pernicious administration and the fatal consequences that ensured, agree that few ages  have produced a more fit instrument for the purposes of a corrupt court. He  was dark, intriguing, insinuating, haughty and ambitious, while the extreme of avarice  marked each feature of his character.  His abilities were little elevated above the  line of mediocrity; yet by dint of industry, exact temperance, and indefatigable labor, he  became master of the accomplishments necessary to acquire popular fame.  Though bred a merchant, he had looked into the origin and the principles of the British  constitution, and made himself acquainted with the several forms of  government established in the colonies; he had acquired some knowledge of the  common law of England, diligently studied the intricacies of Machiavellian policy,  and never failed to recommend the Italian master as a model to his adherents.

Raised an distinguished by every honor the people could bestow, he supported for  several years the reputation of integrity, and generally decided with equity in his  judicial capacity; [Judge of probate for the county of Suffolk, and chief justice of the  Supreme Court] and by the appearance of a tenacious regard to the religious  institutions of his country, he courted the public eclat with the most profound  dissimulation, while he engaged the affections of the lower classes by an amiable  civility  and condescension, without departing from a certain gravity of deportment mistaken by  the vulgar for sanctity.

The Inhabitants of the Massachusetts were the lineal descendants of the puritans, who  had struggle din England for liberty as early as the reign of Edward V; and  though obscured in the subsequent bloody persecutions, even Mr. Hume has  acknowledged that to them England is indebted for the liberty she enjoys [Hume's  History of England]. Attached to the religious forms of their ancestors, equally disgusted  with the hierarchy of the Church of England, and prejudiced by the severities  their fathers had experienced before their emigration, they had, both by education and  principle, been always led to consider the religious as well as the political  characters of those they deputed to the highest trust.  Thus a profession of their own  religious mode of worship, and sometimes a tincture of superstition, was with  many a higher recommendation than brilliant talents. This accounts in some measure for  the unlimited confidence long placed in the specious accomplishments of Mr.  Hutchinson, whose character was not thoroughly investigated until some time after  Governor Bernard left the province.

But it was known at St. James's, that in proportion as Mr. Hutchinson gained the  confidence of administration, he lost the esteem of the best of his countrymen; for his  reason, he advancement to the chair of government was for a time postponed or  concealed, lest the people should consider themselves insulted by such an  appointment, and become too suddenly irritated. Appearances had for several years been  strong against him, though it was not then fully known that he had seized  the opportunity to undermine the happiness of ;the people, while he had their fullest  

confidence, and to barter the liberties of his country by the most shameless  duplicity. This was soon after displayed beyond all contradiction, by the recovery of  sundry letters to administration under his signature.

Mr. Hutchinson was one of the first in America who felt the full eight of popular  resentment.  His furniture was destroyed, and his house leveled to the ground, in the  tumults occasioned by the news of the Stamp Act. Ample compensation was indeed  afterwards made him for the loss of property, but the strong prejudices against  his political character were never eradicated.

All pretenses to moderation on the part of the British government now laid aside, the full  appointment of Mr. Hutchinson to the government of the Massachusetts was  publicly announced at the close of the year 1769.  On his promotion, the new governor  uniformly observed a more high-handed and haughty tone than his  predecessor.  He immediately, by an explicit declaration, avowed his independence on  the people, and informed the legislative that his Majesty had made ample  provision for his support without their aid or suffrages.  The vigilant guardians of the  rights of the people directly called upon him to relinquish the unconstitutional  stipend, and to accept the free grants of the General Assembly for his subsistence, as  usually practiced.  He replied that an acceptance of this offer would be a  breach of his instructions from the kind. This was his constant apology for every  arbitrary step.

 Secure of the favor of his Sovereign, an now regardless of the popularity he had  formerly courted with such avidity, he decidedly rejected the idea of responsibility  to, or dependence on, the people. With equal inflexibility he disregarded all arguments  used for the removal of the troops from the capital, and permission  to the  Council and House of Representatives to return to the usual feat of government.  Ht  silently heard their solicitations for this purpose, and as if with a design to pour  contempt on their supplications and complaints, he within a few days after withdrew a  garrison, in the pay of the province, from a strong fortress in the harbor of  Boston; placed two regiments of the King's troops in their stead, and delivered the keys  of the castle to Colonel Dalrymple, who then commanded the King's troops  through the province.

These steps, which seemed to bid defiance to complaint, created new fears in the minds  of the people. I required the utmost vigilance to quiet the murmurs and  prevent the total consequences apprehended from the ebullitions of popular resentment.  But cool, deliberate and persevering, the two houses continued to resolve,  remonstrate, and protest, against the infractions on their charter, and every dangerous  innovation on their rights and privileges. Indeed, the intrepid and spirited  conduct of those, who flood forth undaunted at this early crisis of hazard, with dignify  their names so long as the public records shall remain to witness their patriotic  firmness.

Many circumstances rendered it evident that the ministerial party wished a spirit of  opposition to the designs of the Court might break out into violence, even at the  expense of blood.  This they thought would in some degree have sanctioned a measure  suggested by one of the faction in America, devoted to the arbitrary system.  "That some method must be devised "to take off the original incendiaries [See Andrew  Oliver's letter to one of the ministry, dated Feb. 13, 1769.]  whose writings  instilled the position of sedition through the vehicle of the Boston Gazette. [This gazette  was much celebrated for the freedom of its disquisitions in favor of civil  liberty. I has been observed that "it will be a treasury of political intelligence "for the  historians of this country. Otis, Thacher, Dexter, Adams, Warren and Quincy,  Doctors Samuel Cooper and Mayhew, stars of the first magnitude in our northern  hemisphere, whose glory and brightness distance ages will admire; these gentlemen  of character and influence offered their first essays to the public through the medium of  the Boston Gazette, who which account the paper became odious to the  friends of prerogative, but not more disgusting to the Tories and High Church than it  was pleading to the Whigs." See collection of the Massachusetts Historical  Society.]

Had this advice been followed and a few gentlemen of integrity and ability, who had  spirit sufficient to make an effort in favor of their country in each colony, have  been seized at that same moment and immolated early in the contest on the bloody altar  of power, perhaps Great Britain might have held the continent in subjection a  few years longer.

That they had measures of this nature in contemplation there is not a doubt.  Several  instances of a less atrocious nature confirmed this opinion, and the turpitude of  design which at this period actuated the court party was clearly evinced by the attempted  assassination of the celebrated Mr. Otis, justly deemed the first martyr to  American freedom; and truth will enroll his name among the most distinguished patriots  who have expired on the "bloodstained theater of human action."

This gentleman, whose birth and education was equal to any in the province, possessed  an easy fortune, independent principles, a comprehensive genius, strong  mind, retentive memory, and great penetration. To these endowments may be added that  extensive professional knowledge, which at once forms the character of the  complete civilian and the able statesman.

In his public speeches, the fire of eloquence the acumen of argument, and the lively  sallies of wit, at once warmed the bosom of the stoic and commanded the  admiration of his enemies. To his probity and generosity in the public walks were added  the charms of affability and improving converse in private life. His humanity  was conspicuous, his sincerity acknowledged, his integrity unimpeached, his honor  unblemished, and his patriotism marked with the disinterestedness of the Spartan.  Yet he was susceptible of quick feelings and warm passions, which in the ebullitions of  zeal for the interest of his country sometimes betrayed him into unguarded  epithets that gave his foes an advantage, without benefit to the cause that lay nearest his  heart.

He had been affronted by the partisans of the crown, vilified in the public papers, and  treated (after his resignation of office [Office of judge advocate in Governor  Bernard's administration.]) in a manner too gross for a man of his spirit to pass over with  impunity. Fearless of consequences, he had always given the world his  opinions both in his writings and his conversation, and had recently published some  severe strictures on the conduct of the commissioners of the customers and  others of the ministerial party, and bidding defiance to resentment, he supported his  allegations by the signature of his name.

A few days after this publication appeared, Mr. Otis, with only one gentleman in  company, was suddenly assaulted in a public room, by a band of ruffians armed  with swords and bludgeons. They were headed by John Robinson, one of the  commissioners of the customers. The lights were immediately extinguished, and Mr.  Otis covered with wounds was left for dead, while the assassins made their way through  the crowd which began to assemble; and before their crime was discovered,  fortunately for themselves, they escaped soon enough to take refuge on board one of the  King's ships which then lay in the harbor.

In a state of nature, the savage may throw his poisoned arrow at the man whose soul  exhibits a transcript of benevolence that upbraids his own ferocity, and may  boast his bloodthirsty deed among the hordes of the forest without disgrace; but in a  high stage of civilization, where humanity is cherished, and politeness is become  a science, for the dark assassin then to level his blow at superior merit, and screen  himself in the arms of power, reflects an odium on the government that permits it,  and puts human nature to the blush.

The party had a complete triumph in this guilty deed; for though the wounds did not  prove mortal, the consequences were tenfold worse than death. The future  usefulness of this distinguished friend of his country was destroyed, reason was shaken  from its throne, genius obscured, and the great man in ruins lived several years  for his friends to weep over, and his country to lament the deprivation of talents  admirably adapted to promote the highest interests of society.

This catastrophe shocked the feelings of the virtuous not less than it raised the  indignation of the brave. Yet a remarkable spirit of forbearance continued for a time,  owing to the respect still paid to the opinions of this unfortunate gentleman, whose voice  though always opposed to the strides of despotism was ever loud against all  tumultuous and illegal proceedings.

He was after a partial recovery sensible himself of his incapacity for the exercise of  talents that had shone with peculiar luster, and often invoked the messenger of  death to give him a sudden release from a life become burdensome in every view but  when the calm interval of a moment permitted him the recollection of his own  integrity. In one of those intervals of beclouded reason he forgave the murderous band,  after the principal ruffian had asked pardon in a court of justice; [On a civil  process commenced against him, John Robinson was adjudge to pay 5000 pounds  sterling damages; but Mr. Otis despising all pecuniary compensation, relinquished  it on the culprit's asking pardon and setting his signature to a very humble  acknowledgment.] and at the intercession of the gentleman whom he had so grossly  abused, the people forbore inflicting that summary vengeance which was generally  though due to so black a crime.

Mr. Otis lived to see the independence of America, though in a state of mind incapable  of enjoying fully the glorious event which his own exertions had precipitated.  After several years of mental derangement, as if in consequence of his own prayers, his  great soul was instantly set free by a flash of lightning, from the evils in which  the love of his country had involved him. His death took place in May, 1783, the same  year the peace was concluded between Great Britain and America.

[A sister touched by the tenderest feelings, while she has thought it her duty to do justice  to a character neglected by some, and misrepresented by other historians,  can exculpate herself from all suspicion of partiality by the testimony of many of his  countrymen who witnessed his private merit and public exertions. But she will  however only subjoin a paragraph of a letter written to the author of these annals, on the  news of Mr. Otis' death, by John Adams, Esq. then minister plenipotentiary  from the United States to the Court of France: "Paris, September 10, 1783 "It was, Madam, with very afflicting sentiments I learned the death of Mr. Otis, my  worthy master. Extraordinary in death as in life, he has left a character that will  never die while the memory of the American Revolution remains; whose foundation he  laid with an energy, and with those masterly abilities, which no other man  possessed." The reader also may not be displeased at an extemporary exclamation of a gentleman of  poetic talents on hearing of the death of Mr. Otis: "When God in anger saw the spot, On earth to Otis given, In thunder as from Sinai's Mount, He snatched him back to heaven."]

Though the parliamentary system of colonial regulations was in many instance similar,  and equally aimed to curtail the privileges of each province, yet no military force  had been expressly called in aid of civil authority in any of them, except the  Massachusetts. From this circumstance some began to flatter themselves that more  lenient  dispositions were operating in the mind of the King of Great Britain, as well as in the  Parliament and the people towards America in general.

They had grounded these hopes on the strong assurances of several of the plantation  governors, particularly Lord Botetourt, who then presided in Virginia. He had a  speech to the Assembly of the colony, in the winter of 1769, declared himself so  confident that full satisfaction would be given to the provinces in the future conduct  of administration, that he pledge his faith to support to the last hour of his life the  interest of American. He observed that he grounded his own opinions and his  assurances to them on the intimations of the confidential servants of the King which  authorized him to promise redress.  He added that to his certain knowledge his  Sovereign had rather part with his  crown than preserve it by deception.

The credulity of this gentleman was undoubtedly imposed upon; however, the  Virginians, ever steady and systematic in opposition to tyranny, were for a time highly  gratified by those assurances from their first magistrate. But their vigilance was soon  called into exercise by the mal-administration of a succeeding governor, though  the fortitude of this patriotic colony was never shaken by the frown of any despotic  master or masters.  Some of the other colonies had listened to the soothing  language of moderation used by their chief executive officers, and were for a short time  influenced by that, and the flattering hopes held up by the Governor of  Virginia.

But before the period to which we have arrived in the narration of events, these  flattering appearances had evaporated with the breath of the courtier. The  subsequent conduct of administration baffled the expectations of the credulous. The  hand of government was more heavily felt through the continent; and from South  Carolina to Virginia, and from Virginia to New Hampshire, the mandate of a minister of  the signal for the dissolution of their assemblies. The people were compelled  to resort to conventions and committees to transact all public business, to unite in  petitions for relief, or to take the necessary preparatory steps if finally obliged to  resist by arms.

In the mean time, the inhabitants of the town of Boston had suffered almost every  species of insult from the British soldiery; who, countenanced by the royal party,  had generally found means to screen themselves from the hand of the civil officers.  Thus all authority rested on the point of the sword, and the partisans of the Crown  triumphed for a time in the plenitude of military power.  Yet the measure and the  manner of posting troops in the capital of the province, had roused such jealousy  and disgust as could not be subdued by the scourge that hung over their heads. Continual  bickerings took place in the streets between the soldiers and the citizens;  and the insolence of the first, which had been carried so far as to excite the African  slaves to murder their masters, with the promise of impunity, [Captain Wilson of  the 29th regiment was detected in the infamous practice; and it was proved beyond a  doubt by the testimony of some respectable citizens, who declared on oath,  that they had accidentally witnessed the offer of reward to the blacks, by some subaltern  officers, if they would rob and murder their masters.] and the indiscretion of  the last, was often productive of tumults and disorder that led the most cool and  temperate to be apprehensive of consequences of the most serious nature.

No previous outrage had given such a general alarm, as the commotion on March 5,  1770. Yet the accident that created a resentment which emboldened the timid,  determined the wavering, and awakened an energy and decision that neither the artifices  of the courtier, nor the terror of the sword could easily overcome, arose  from a trivial circumstance; a circumstance which but from the consideration that these  minute accidents frequently lead to the most important events, would be  beneath the dignity of history to record.

A sentinel posted at the door of the custom house had seized and abused a boy for  casting some opprobrious reflections on an office of rank; his cries collected a  number of other lads, who took the childish revenge of pelting the soldier with snow  balls. The main guard, stationed in the neighborhood of the custom house, was  informed by some persons from thence, of the rising tumult. They immediately turned  out under the command of a Captain Preston, and beat to arms. Several fracas  of little moment had taken place between the soldiery and some of the lower class  inhabitants, and probably both were in a temper to avenge their own private  wrongs. The cry of fire was raised in all parts of the town.  The mob collected, and the  soldiery from all quarters ran through the streets sword in hand, threatening  and wounding the people, and with every appearance of hostility, they rushed furiously  to the center of the town.

The soldiers thus ready for execution, and the populace grown outrageous, the whole  town was justly terrified by the unusual alarm. This naturally drew out persons  of higher condition and more peaceably disposed, to inquire the cause.  Their  consternation can scarcely be described when they found orders were given to fire  promiscuously among the unarmed multitude. Five or six persons fell at the first fire,  and several more were dangerously wounded at their own doors.

These sudden popular commotions are seldom to be justified, and their consequences  are ever to be dreaded. It is needless to make any observations on the  assumed rights of royalty in a time of peace to disperse by military murder the  disorderly and riotous assemblage of a thoughtless multitude. The question has  frequently been canvassed; and was on this occasion thoroughly discussed by gentlemen  of the first professional abilities.

The remains of loyalty to the Sovereign of Britain were not yet extinguished in  American bosoms, neither were the feelings of compassion which shrunk at the idea of  human carnage obliterated.  Yet this outrage enkindled a general resentment that could  not be disguised; but every method that prudence could dictate was used by a  number of influential gentlemen to cool the sudden ferment to prevent the populace  from attempting immediate vengeance, and to prevail on the multitude to retire  quietly to their own houses, and wait the decisions of law and equity.  They effected  their humane purposes; the people dispersed; and Captain Preston and his party  were taken into custody of the civil magistrate.  A judicial inquiry was afterwards made  into their conduct; and so far from being actuated by any partial or undue  bias, some of the first counselors at law engaged in their defense; and after a fair and  legal trial, they were acquitted of premeditated or willful murder by a jury of the  County of Suffolk.

 The people, not dismayed by the blood of their neighbors thus wantonly shed,  determined no longer to submit to the insolence of military power. Colonel Dalrymple,  who commanded in Boston, was informed the day after the riot in King Street, "that he  must withdraw his troops from the town within a limited term or hazard the  consequences."

The inhabitants of the town assembled in Faneuil Hall, where the subject was discussed  with becoming spirit, and the people unanimously resolved that no armed  force should be suffered longer to reside in the capital; that if the King's troops were not  immediately withdrawn by their own officers, the governor should be  requested to give orders for their removal, and thereby prevent the necessity of more  rigorous steps. A committee from the body was deputed to wait on the  governor, and request him to exert that authority which the exigencies of the times  required from the supreme magistrate.  Mr. Samuel Adams, the chairman of the  committee, with a pathos and address peculiar to himself, exposed the illegality of  quartering troops in the town in the midst of peace; he urged the apprehensions of  the people, and the fatal consequences that might ensue if their removal was delayed.

But no arguments could prevail on Mr. Hutchinson, who either from timidity or some  more censurable cause evaded acting at all in the business and grounded his  refusal on a pretended want of authority. [See extracts of Mr. Hutchinson's letters, Note  8 at the end of this chapter]. After which, Colonel Dalrymple, wishing to  compromise the matter, consented that the 29th regiment, more culpable than any other  in the late tumult, should be sent to Castle Island.  This concession was by  no means satisfactory. The people, inflexible in their demands, insisted that not one  British soldier should be left within the town. Their requisition was reluctantly  complied with, and within four days the whole army decamped.  It is not to be supposed  that this compliance of British veterans originated in their fears of an injured  and incensed people, who were not yet prepared to resist by arms. They were  undoubtedly sensible they had exceeded their orders and anticipated the designs of  their master; they had rashly begun the slaughter of Americans, and enkindled the  flames of civil war in a country where allegiance had not yet been renounced.

After the hasty retreat of the King's troops, Boston enjoyed, for a time, a degree of  tranquility to which they had been strangers for many months.  The  commissioners of the customs and several other obnoxious characters retired with the  army to Castle William, and their governor affected much moderation and  tenderness to his country; at the same time he neglected no opportunity to ripen the  present measures of administration or to secure his own interest, closely  interwoven therewith. The duplicity of Mr. Hutchinson as soon after laid open by the  discovery of a number of letters under his signature, written to some individuals  in the British cabinet. These letters detected by the vigilance of some friends in England,  were procured and sent on to America. [The original letters which detected  his treachery were procured by Doctor Franklin and published in a pamphlet at Boston.   They may also be seen in the British Annual Register, and in a large  collection of historical papers printed in London, entitled the Remembrancer. The  agitation into which many were thrown by the transmission of these letters,  produced important consequences Doctor Franklin was shamefully vilified and abused  in an outrageous philippic pronounced by Mr. Wedderburne, afterwards Lord  Longborough.  Threats, challenges, and duels took place, but it was not discovered by  what means these letters fell into the hands of Doctor Franklin, who soon  after repaired to America, where he was eminently serviceable in aid of the public cause  of his native America.]

Previous to this event there were many persons in the province who could not e fully  convinced that at the same period when he had put on the guise of compassion  to his country, when he had promised all his influence to obtain some relaxation of the  coercive system, that at that moment Mr. Hutchinson should be so lost to the  ideas of sincerity as to be artfully plotting new embarrassments to the colonies in  general, and the most mischievous projects against the province he was entrusted to  govern.  Thus conflicted as the grand incendiary who had sown the seeds of discord, and  cherished the dispute between Great Britain an the colonies, his friends  blushed at the discovery that his enemies triumphed, and his partisans were confounded.  In these letters, he had expressed his doubt of the propriety of suffering the  colonies to enjoy all the privileges of the parent state: he observed that "there must be an  abridgment of English liberties in colonial administration," and urged the  malignant art of necessity of the resumption of the charter of Massachusetts.

Through this and the succeeding year the British nation were much divided in opinion  relative to public measures, both at home and abroad. Debates and animosities  ran high in both houses of parliament. Many of their best orators had come forward in  defense of America, with that eloquence and precision which provided their  ancestry, and marked the spirit of a nation that had long boasted their own freedom. But  reason and argument are feeble barriers against the will of a monarch, or the  determinations of potent aristocratical bodies. Thus the system was fixed, the measures  were ripening, and a minister had the boldness to declare publicly that  "America should be brought to the footstool of Parliament," and humbled beneath the  pedestal of majesty. [Lord North's speech in the House of Commons].

The inhabitants of the whole American continent appeared even at this period nearly  ready for the last appeal, rather than longer to submit to the mandates of an  overbearing minister of state or the execution of his corrupt designs. The masterly  writers of this enlightened age had so clearly defined the nature and origin of the  government, the equal claims and natural rights of man, the principles of the British  constitution, and the freedom the subject had a right to enjoy thereby; that it had  become a prevailing opinion, that government and legislation were instituted for the  benefit of society at large, and not for the emolument of a few; and that whenever  prerogative began to stretch its rapacious arm beyond certain bounds, it was an  indispensable duty to resist.

Strongly attached to Great Britain, not only by the impression of ancient forms and the  habits of submission to government, but by religion, manners, language, and  consanguinity, the colonies still stood suspended in the pacific hope that a change of  ministry or a new parliament might operate in their favor and restore tranquility,  by the removal of the causes and the instruments of their sufferings.

Not yet conscious of her own strength, and scarcely ambitious of taking an independent  rank among the nations, America still cherished the flattering ideas of  reconciliation. But these expectations were finally dissipated by the repeated attempts to  reduce the colonies to unlimited submission to the supreme jurisdiction of  parliament, and the illegal exactions of the Crown, until by degrees all parliamentary  decisions became as indifferent to an American ear, as the rescripts of a Turkish  divan.

The tame acquiescence of the colonies would doubtless have given great advantages to  the corrupt party on one side of the Atlantic, while their assiduous agents on  the other did not revolt at the meanest and most wicked compliances to facilitate the  designs of their employers or to gratify their own inordinate passion for power  and wealth. Thus for a considerable time, a struggle was kept up between the power of  one country and the perseverance of the other, without a possibility of  calculating consequences.

A particular detail of the altercations between the representatives, the burgesses, and the  provincial governors, the remonstrances of the people, the resolves of their  legislative bodies, and the dissolution of their assemblies by the fiat of a governor, the  prayers of corporate and occulational societies, or the petitions of more public  and respectable bodies; the provocations on the side of government, and the riotous and,  in some degree, unjustifiable proceedings of the populace, in almost every  town on the continent, would be rather tedious than entertaining, in a compendious  narrative of the times.  It may, therefore, be well to pass over a year or two that  produced nothing but a sameness of complaint and a similarity of opposition on the one  side, and on the other a systematic effort to push the darling measure of an  American taxation, while neither party had much reason to promise themselves a speedy  decision.

It has already been observed that the revenue acts which had occasioned a general  murmur had been repealed, except a small duty on all India teas, by which a claim  was kept up to tax the colonies at pleasure, whenever it should be thought expedient.   This was an articled used by all ranks in America -- a luxury of such universal  consumption that administration was led to believe that a monopoly on the ales of tea  might be so managed as to become a productive source of revenue.

It was generally believed that governor Hutchinson had stipulated for the agency for his  sons, as they were the first in commission; and he had solicited for them and  obtained this odious employment by a promise that if they were appointed sole agents to  the East India Company, the sales should be so executed as to give perfect  satisfaction both to them and to administration.  All communities furnish examples of  men sufficiently base to share in the spoils of their country; nor was it difficult to  find such in every colony, who were ready enough to execute this ministerial job. Thus in  consequence of the insinuations of those interested in the success of the  measure, a number of ships were employed by government to transport a large quantity  of teas into each of the American colonies. The people throughout the  continent, apprised of the design and considering at that time all teas a pernicious article  of commerce, summoned meetings in al the capital towns and unanimously  resolved to resist the dangerous project by every legal opposition before they proceeded  to any extremities.

The firs step taken in Boston was to request the consignees to refuse the commission.  The inhabitants warmly remonstrated against the teas being landed in any of  their ports and urged the return of the ships, without permitting them to break bulk.  The  commissioners at New York, Philadelphia, an several other colonies were  applied to with similar requests; most of them complied. In some places the teas were  stored on proper conditions; in others sent back without injury.  But, in  Massachusetts, their difficulties were accumulated by the restless ambition of some of  her own degenerate sons.  Not the smallest impression was made on the  feelings of their governor by the united supplications of the inhabitants of Boston and its  environs. Mr. Hutchinson, who very well knew that virtue is seldom a  sufficient restrain to the passions, but that, in spite of patriotism, reasons, or religion, the  scale too frequently preponderates in favor of interest or appetite, persisted in  the execution of his favorite project. As by force of habit, this drug had become almost a  necessary article of diet, the demand for teas in America was astonishingly  great, and the agents in Boston, sure of finding purchasers if once the weed was  deposited in their stores, haughtily declined a resignation of office, and determined  when the ships arrived, to receive and dispose of their cargoes at every hazard.

Before either time or discretion had cooled the general disgust at the interested and  supercilious behavior of these young pupils of intrigue, the long-expected ships  arrived which were to establish a precedent thought dangerously consequential.   Resolved not to yield to the smallest vestige of parliamentary taxation, however  disguised, a numerous assembly of the most respectable people of Boston and its  neighborhood, repaired to the public hall, and drew up a remonstrance to the  governor, urging the necessity of his order to send back the ships without suffering any  part of their cargoes to be landed. His answer confirmed the opinion that he  was the instigator of the measure; it irritated the spirits of the people, and tended more to  increase, than allay the rising ferment.

A few days after this, the factors had the precaution to apply to the governor and council  for protection to enable them to receive and dispose of their consignments.   As the council refused to act in the affair, the governor called on Colonel Hancock, who  commanded a company of cadets, to hold himself in readiness to assist the  civil magistrate if any tumult should arise in consequence of any attempt to land the  teas.  This gentleman, thought professedly in opposition to the court, had  oscillated between the parties until neither of them at that time had much confidence in  his exertions.  It did not, however, appear that he had any inclination to obey  the summons; neither did he explicitly refuse; but he soon after signed his commission  and continued in future, unequivocally opposed to the ministerial system. On the  appearance of this persevering spirit among the people, Governor Hutchinson again  resorted to his usual arts of chicanery and deception; he affected a mildness of  deportment, and by many equivocal delays detained the ships and endeavored to disarm  his countrymen of that many resolution which was their principal fort.

The storage or detention of a few cargoes of teas is not a object in itself sufficient to  justify a detail of several pages; but as the subsequent severities toward the  Massachusetts were grounded on what the ministry termed their refractory behavior on  this occasion. And as those measures were followed by consequences of the  highest magnitude both to Great Britain and the colonies. A particular narration of the  transactions of the town of Boston is indispensable.  There the sword of civil  discord was first drawn, which was not resheathed until the emancipation of the  thirteen colonies from the yoke of foreign domination was acknowledged by the  diplomatic seals of the first powers in Europe.  This may apologize, if necessary, for the  appearance of locality  in the preceding pages, and for it farther continuance in  regard to a colony on which the bitterest cup of ministerial wrath was poured for a time,  and where the energies of the human mind were earlier called forth than in  several of the sister states.

Not intimidated by the frowns of greatness, nor allured by the smiles of intrigue, the  vigilance of the people was equal to the importance of the event  Though  expectation was equally awake in both parties, yet three or four weeks elapsed in a kind  of inertia; the one side flattered themselves with hopes, that as the ships  were suffered to be so long unmolested, with their cargoes entire, the point might yet be  obtained; the other thought it possible that some impression might yet be made  on the Governor, by the strong voice of the people.

Amidst this suspense a rumor was circulated that Admiral Montague was about to seize  the ships and dispose of their cargoes at public auction within 24 hours. This  step would as effectually have secured the duties, as would as effectually have secured  the duties as it sold at the shops of the consignees, and was judged to be only  a finesse, to place them there on their own terms. On this report, convinced of the  necessity of preventing so bold an attempt, a vast body of people convened  suddenly and repaired to one of the largest and most commodious churches in Boston;  where, previous to any other steps, many fruitless messages were sent both  to the Governor and the consignees, whose timidity had prompted them to a seclusion  from the public eye.  Yet they continued to refuse any satisfactory answer;  and while the assembled multitude were in quiet consultation on the safest mode to  prevent the sale and consumption of an herb, noxious at least to the political  constitution, the debates were interrupted by the entrance of the sheriff with an order  from the Governor, styling them an illegal assembly, and directing their  immediate dispersion.

This authoritative mandate was treated with great contempt, and the sheriff instantly  hissed out of the house. A confused murmur ensured both within and without the  walls; but in a few moments all was again quiet and the leaders of the people retuned  calmly to the point in question. Yet every expedient seemed fraught with  insurmountable difficulties and evening approaching without any decided resolution, the  meeting was adjourned without delay.

Within an hour after this as known abroad, there appeared a great number of persons,  clad like the aborigines of the wilderness, with tomahawks in their hands, and  clubs on their shoulders, who without the least molestation marched though the streets  with silent solemnity and, amidst innumerable spectators, proceeded to the  wharves, boarded the ships, demanded the keys, and with much deliberation knocked  open the chests, and emptied several thousand weight of the finest teas into  the ocean. No opposition was made, though surrounded by the King's ships; all was  silence and dismay.

This done, the procession returned through the town in the same order and solemnity as  observed in the outset of their attempt.  No other disorder took place, and it  was observed, the stillest night ensued that Boston had enjoyed for many months. This  unexpected event struck the ministerial party with rage and astonishment;  while, as it seemed to be an attack upon private property, many who wished well to the  public cause could not fully approve the measure. Yet perhaps the laws of  self-preservation might justify the deed, as the exigencies of the times required  extraordinary exertions, and every other method had been tried in vain to avoid this  disagreeable alternative. Besides, it was alleged, and doubtless it was true, the people  were ready to make ample compensation for all the damages sustained,  whenever the institutional duty should be taken off and other grievances radically  redressed.  But there appeared little prospect that any conciliatory advances would  soon be made. The officers of government discovered themselves more vindictive than  ever: animosities daily increased and the spirits of the people were irritated to  a degree of alienation, even from their tenderest connections, when they happened to  differ in political opinion.

By the frequent dissolution of the General Assemblies, all public debate had been  precluded and the usual regular intercourse between the colonies cut off.  The  modes of legislative communication thus obstructed at a period when the necessity of  harmony and concert was obvious to every eye, no systematical opposition to  gubernatorial intrigues supported by the king and parliament of Great Britain, was to be  expected without the utmost concord, confidence, and union of all the  colonies. Perhaps no single step contributed so much to cement the union of the colonies  and the final acquisition of independence as the establishment of committees  of correspondence. This supported a chain of communication from New Hampshire to  Georgia that produced unanimity and energy throughout the continent.

As in these annals there has yet been no particular mention made of this institution, it is  but justice to name at once the author, the origin, and the importance of the  measure.

At an early period of the contest, when the public mind was agitated by unexpected  events and remarkably pervaded with perplexity and anxiety, James Warren,  Esq. of Plymouth first proposed this institution to a private friend, on a visit at his own  house. [Samuel Adams, Esq. of Boston]  Mr. Warren had been an active and  influential members of the General Assembly from the beginning of the troubles in  America, which commenced soon after the demise of George II.  The principles  and firmness of this gentleman were well known and the uprightness of his character  had sufficient weight to recommend the measure.  As soon as the proposal was  communicated to a number of gentlemen in Boston, it was adopted with zeal, and spread  with the rapidity of enthusiasm, from town to town, and from province to  province. [The general impulse at this time seemed to operate by sympathy before  consultation could be had; thus it appeared afterwards that the vigilant inhabitants  of Virginia had concerted s similar plan about the same period.] Thus an intercourse was  established, by which a similarity of opinion, a connection of interest, and a  union of action appeared, that set opposition at defiance, and defeated the machinations  of their enemies through all the colonies.

The plan suggested was clear and methodical; it proposed that a public meeting should  be called in every town; that a number of persons should be selected by a  plurality of voices; that they should be men of respectable characters, whose attachment  to the great cause of American had been uniform; that they should be vested  by a majority of  suffrages with power to take cognizance of the state of commerce, of  the intrigues of toryism, of litigious ruptures that might create disturbances,  and everything else that might be thought to militate with the rights of the people, and  to promote everything that tended to general utility.

The business was not tardily executed. Committees were everywhere chosen, who were  directed to keep up a regular correspondence with each other, and to give  information of all intelligence received relative to the proceedings of administration, so  far as they affected the interest of the British colonies throughout America.   The trust was faithfully and diligently discharged, and when afterwards all legislative  authority was suspended, the courts of justice shut up and the last traits of British  government annihilated in the colonies, this new institution became a kind of juridical  tribunal.  Its injunctions were influential beyond the hopes of its most sanguine  friends, and the recommendations of the committees of correspondence had the force of  law. Thus, as despotism frequently springs from anarchy, a regular  democracy sometimes arises from the severe encroachments of despotism.

This institution had given such a general alarm to the adherents of administration and  had been replete with such important consequences through the union, that it was  justly dreaded by those who opposed it, and considered by them as the most important  bulwark of freedom.  A representation of this establishment and its effects  had been transmitted to England and laid before the King and Parliament, and Mr.  Hutchinson had received his Majesty's disapprobation for the measure. With the  hope of impeding its farther operation, by announcing the frown and the censure of  Royalty, and for the discussion of some other important questions, the Governor  had thought proper to convene the Council and House of Representatives, to meet in  January 1773.

The Assembly of the preceding year had passed a number of very severe resolves, when  the original letters mentioned above, written by Governor Hutchinson and  Lieutenant-Governor Oliver were detected, sent back to the Massachusetts, and laid  before the House.  They had observed that "the letters contained wicked and  injurious misrepresentations, designed to influence the ministry and the nation, and to  excite jealousies in the breast of the King against his faithful subjects." [See  11th resolve in the sessions of 1772.] They had proceeded to an impeachment and  unanimously requested that his Majesty would be pleased to remove both Mr.  Thomas Hutchinson and Mr. Andrew Oliver from their public functions in the province,  forever. [Journals of the House.] But before they had time to complete their  spirited measures, the Governor had, as usual, dissolved the Assembly.  This was a  stretch of power, and a manifestation of resentment that had been so frequently  exercised both by Mr. Hutchinson and his predecessor, that it was never unexpected, and  now totally disregarded.  This mode of conduct was not confined to the  Massachusetts; it was indeed the common signal of resentment exhibited by most of the  colonial governors: they immediately dissolved the legislative assemblies on  the discovery of energy, enterprise, or patriotism among the members.

When the new House of Assembly met at Boston the present year, it appeared to be  composed of the principal gentlemen and landholders in the province; men of  education and ability, of fortune and family, of integrity and honor; jealous of the  

infringement of their rights, and faithful guardians of a free people.

Their independence of mind was soon put to the test. On the opening of the new session,  the first communication from the Governor was that he had received his  Majesty's express disapprobation of all committees of correspondence; and to enforce  the displeasure of the Monarch, he very discreetly ventured himself to  censure with much warmth this institution and every other stand that the colonies had  unitedly made to ministerial and parliamentary invasions.  To complete the climax  of his own presumption, he, in a long and labored speech, imprudently agitated the  grand question of a parliamentary right of taxation without representation; [see  Note 9 "Extracts from Governor Hutchinson's letters urging his designs", at the end of  this chapter] he endeavored to justify both by law and precedent every  arbitrary step that had been taken for ten years past to reduce the colonies to a  disgraceful subjugation.

This gave a fair opening to the friends of their country which they did not neglect, to  discuss the illegality, injustice, and impolicy of the late innovations. They entered  on the debate with freedom of inquiry, stated their claims with clearness and precision,  and supported them with such reasoning and perspicuity that a man of less  hardiness than Mr. Hutchinson would not have made a second attempt to justify so  odious a cause, or to gain such an unpopular point by dint of argument. But  whether owing to his own intemperate zeal, or whether instigated by his superiors on the  other side of the Atlantic to bring on the dispute previous to the disclosure of  some extraordinary measures then in agitation, is uncertain. However, this was, he  supported his opinions with industry and ingenuity, and not discouraged by strong  opposition, he spun out the debate to a tedious and ridiculous length. Far from  terminating to the honor of the Governor, his officious defense of administration served  only to indicate the necessity of the most guarded watchfulness against the machinations  of powerful and designing men; and fanned, rather than checked the amor  patriae characteristic of the times.

Soon after this altercation ended, the representative body took cognizance of an affair  that had given great disgust and created much uneasiness through the  province.  By the royal charter granted by William and Mary, the Governor, Lieutenant- Governor and Secretary were appointed by the King; the Council were  chosen by the representatives of the people, the Governor being allowed a negative  voice; the judges, justices, and all other officers, civil and military, were left to his  nomination, and appointed by him, with the advice and consent of a board of  counselors. But as it is always necessary in a free government that the people should  retain some means in their own hands to check any unwarrantable exercise of power in  the executive, the legislature of Massachusetts had always enjoyed the  reasonable privilege of paying their own officers according to their ability and the  services rendered to the public.

It was at this time well known that Mr. Hutchinson had so far ingratiated himself as to  entitle him to peculiar favor from the Crown; and by a handsome salary from  the King, he was rendered entirely independent of the people.  His brother-in-law, also,  the Lieutenant-Governor, had obtained by misrepresentations, thought by  some to have been little short of perjury, [See Lieutenant-Governor Oliver's affidavit on  the Council books] a pension which he had long solicited; but chagrin at the  detection of his letters and the discovery of his duplicity soon put a period to a life that  might have been useful and exemplary, had he confined his pursuits only to the  domestic walks of life.

A strong family as well as political connection, had for some time been forming among  those who had been writing in favor of colonial regulations and urging the  creation of a patrician rank from which all officers of government should in future be  selected. Intermarriages among their children in the near degree of consanguinity  before the parties were of age for maturity of choice had strengthened the union of  interests among the candidates for preferment. Thus by a kind of compact, almost  every department of high trust as it became vacant by resignation, suspension or death  was filled by some relation or dependent of Governor Hutchinson; and no  other qualification was required except a suppleness of opinion and principle that could  readily bend to the measures of the Court.

But it was more recently discovered that the judges of the Superior Court, the near  relations or coadjutors of Mr. Hutchinson, and a few of them more scrupulously  delicate with regard tot he violation of the rights of their country than himself, had taken  advantage of the items and successfully insinuated that the dignity of their  offices must be supported by an allowance from the Crown sufficient to enable them to  execute the designs of government exclusively of any dependence on the  General Assembly.  In consequence of these representations, the judges were appointed  to hold their places during the King's pleasure, and a yearly stipend was  granted them to be paid out of the new revenue to be raised in America.

The General Court had not been convened after the full disclosure of this system before  the present period; of course no constitutional opposition could be made on  the infraction of their charter until a legal assembly had an opportunity to meet and  deliberate. Uncertain how long the intriguing spirit of the Governor would permit  them to continue in existence, the sitting assembly judged it necessary early in the  session to proceed to a parliamentary inquiry into the conduct of their judiciary  officers.  Accordingly, the judges of the Supreme Court were called upon to receive the  grants for their services as usual from the treasury of the province; to  renounce all institutional salaries, and to engage to receive no pay, pension or  emolument in reward of services as justices of the court of judicature, but from the free  grants of the legislative assembly.

Two of the judges, Trowbridge and Ropes, readily complied with the demand and  relinquished the offensive stipend. A third was William Cushing, Esq. a gentleman  rendered respectable in the eyes of all parties by his professional abilities and general  integrity.  He was a sensible, modest man, well acquainted with law, but  remarkable for the secrecy of his opinions: this kept up his reputation through all the  ebullitions of discordant parties. He readily resigned the royal stipend without  any observations of his own; yet it was thought at the time that it was with a reluctance  that his taciturnity could not conceal.  By this silent address he retained the  confidence of the court faction, nor was he less a favorite among the republicans. He was  immediately placed on the bench of justice after the assumption of  government in the Massachusetts. [The talents, the manner, and the urbanity  of Mr. Cushing procured his advancement to the supreme bench under the  new constitution afterwards adopted by the United States. In this station he was useful  to his country, and respected by every class through all the changes of party  and opinion which he lived to see.]

The next that was called forward for Foster Hutchinson, a brother of the Governor's, a  man of much less understanding and as little public virtue; in short,  remarkable for nothing but the malignancy of his heart. He, after much altercation and  abuse of the General Assembly, complied with a very ill grace with the  requisitions of the House.

But the chief seat of justice in the extraordinary administration was occupied by a man  unacquainted with law, and ignorant of the first principles of government.  [Peter Oliver, Esq. a brother-in-law of the Governor's.] He possessed a certain credulity  of mind that easily seduced him into erroneous opinions; at the same time a  frigid obstinacy of temper that rendered him incapable of conviction.  His insinuating  manners, his superficial abilities, and his implicit devotion to the Governor,  rendered him a fit instrument to give sanction by the forms of law to the most atrocious  acts of arbitrary power.  Equally deaf to the dictates of patriotism and to the  united voice of the people, he peremptorily refused to listen to the demands of their  representatives; and boldly declared his resolution to receive an annual grant from  the Crown of England in spite of the opinions or resentment of his country: he used as  an excuse the depreciation of his private fortune by his judicial attentions. His  station was important and influential and his temerity was considered as holding a bribe  to execute the corrupt measures of the British Court.

The House of Representatives not interrupted in their system, nor intimidated by the  presumption of the delinquent, proceeded directly to exhibit articles of  impeachment against Peter Oliver, Esq. accusing him of high crimes and misdemeanors,  and laid their complaints before the Governor and Council. On a division of  the House there appeared 92 members in favor of the measure and only 8 against it. The  Governor, as was expected, both from personal attachment and a full  approbation of Mr. Oliver's conduct, refused to act or sit on the business; for course all  proceedings were for a time suspended.

When a detail of these spirited measures reached England, exaggerated by the colorings  of the officers of the Crown, it threw the nation, more especially the trading  part, into a temporary fever.  The ministry rose in their resentment, and entered on the  most severe steps against the Massachusetts, and more particularly the town  of Boston. It was at this period that Lord North ushered into the House of Commons the  memorable bill for shutting up the port of Boston, also the bill for better  

regulating the government of the Massachusetts.

 The port bill enacted that after June 1, 1774, "Every vessel within the points Alderton  and Nahant, (the boundaries of the harbor of Boston,) should depart within six  hours, unless laden with food or fuel." That no merchandise should be taken in or  discharged at any of the stores, wharves, or quays within those limits; and that any  ship, barge of boat attempting to convey from other parts of America either stores,  goods or merchandise to Boston (one of the largest maritime towns on the  continent) should be deemed a legal forfeiture to the Crown.

This act was opposed with becoming zeal by several in both Houses of Parliament,  who still inherited the generous spirit of their ancestors, and darted to stand  forth the defenders of English liberty, in the most perilous seasons.  Though the cruelty  and injustice of this step was warmly criminated, the minister and his party  urged the necessity of strong measures; nor was it difficult to obtain a large majority to  enforce them. An abstract of an act for the more impartial administration of  justice in the province of Massachusetts accompanied the port bill.  Thus by one of those  severe and arbitrary acts, many thousands of the best and most loyal  subjects of the House of Brunswick were at once cut off from the means of subsistence;  poverty stared in the face of affluence, and a long train of evils threatened  every rank. No discriminations were made; the innocent were equally involved with the  real  or imputed guilty, and reduced to such distresses afterwards that, but  from the charitable donations of the other colonies, multitudes must have inevitably  perished.

The other bill directed that on an indictment for riot, resistance of the magistrate, or  impeding the laws of revenue in the smallest degree any person at the option of  the Governor, or, in his absence, the Lieutenant-Governor, might be transported to Great  Britain for trial, and there be ordered to wait amidst his foes, the decisions  of strangers unacquainted with the character of the prisoner, or the turpitude of a crime,  that should subject him to be transported a thousand leagues from his own  vicinity, for a final decision on the charges exhibited against him. Several of the  southern colonies remonstrated warmly against those novel proceedings toward the  Massachusetts, and considered it as a common cause. The House of Burgesses in  Virginia vigorously opposed this measure and passed resolutions expressing  "their exclusive right to tax their constituents, and their right to petition their Sovereign  for redress of grievances, and the lawfulness of procuring the concurrence of the  other colonies in praying for the Royal interposition in favor of the violated rights of  America: and that all trials for treasons, or for any crime whatsoever committed in  that colony ought to be before his Majesty's courts within the said colony; and that the  seizing any persons residing in the said colony, suspected of any crime  whatsoever committed therein, and sending such person to places beyond the sea to be  tried, was highly derogatory of the rights of British subjects."

These acts were to continue in full force until satisfaction should be made to the East  India Company for the loss of their teas; nor were any assurances given that in  case of submission and compliance they should be repealed. The indignation which  naturally arose in the minds of the people on these unexpected and accumulated  grievances was truly inexpressible.  It was frequently observed that the only melioration  of the present evils was that the recall of Mr. Hutchinson accompanied the bills  and his leaving the province at the same period the port bill was to be put in operation  seemed to impress a dawn of hope from time, if not from his immediate  successor.

Every historical record will doubtless witness that he was the principal author of the  sufferings of the unhappy Bostonians, previous to the convulsions which produced  the revolution.  So deeply rooted was this opinion among his enraged countrymen that  many apprehended the summary vengeance of an incensed populace would not  suffer so notorious a parricide to repair quietly to England. Yet such were the generous  and compassionate feelings of a people too virtuous to punish without a legal  process that he escaped the blow he had reason to fear would overtake him when  stripped of authority and no longer acting as the representative of Majesty.

Chagrined by the loss of place, mortified by the neglect of some and apprehensive from  the resentment of others, he retired to a small village in the neighborhood of  Boston, and secluded himself from observation until he embarked for London. This he  did on the same memorable day when by act of parliament the blockade of  Boston took place. Before his departure, the few partisans that still adhered to the man  and his principles procured by much assiduity a complimentary address,  thanking him for past services and held up to him the idea that by his talents he might  

obtain a redress of grievances, which they well knew had been drawn on their  country by the agency of Mr. Hutchinson. Much derision fell on the character of this  group of flatterers, who were long distinguished only by the appellation of  Hutchinson's addressers.

Mr. Huthcinson, furnished with these pitiful credentials, left his native country forever.  On his arrival in England, he was justified and caressed by his employers; and  notwithstanding the criminality of his political conduct had been so fully evinced by the  detection and recovery of his original letters, his impeachment, which was laid  before the Lords of the Privy-Council, was considered by them in a very frivolous light.  A professional character, by some thought to have been hired for the  purpose, was permitted to abuse the petitioners and their agent in the grossest terms  scurrility could invent; and the Lords reported that "the petition is groundless,  vexatious, and scandalous, and calculated only for the seditious purposes of keeping up a  spirit of discontent ...; that nothing had been laid  before them which did or could, in their opinion, in any manner or in any degree  impeach the honor, integrity or conduct of the Governor or Lieutenant-Governor;"  who had been at the same time impeached.

But eh operation of his measures, while Governor of the Massachusetts, was so  productive of misfortune to Great Britain, as well as to the united colonies, that Mr.  Hutchinson soon became the object of disgust to all parties.  He did not live to see the  independence of America established, but he lived long enough to repent in  bitterness of soul that part he had acted against a country once disposed to respect his  character.  After his mind had been involved many months in a state of  chagrin, disappointment, and despair, he died on the day the riots in London, excited  by Lord George Gordon, were at the height, in the year 1780. Those of the  family who survived their unhappy father remained in obscurity in England.

It must, however, be acknowledged that Governor Hutchinson was uniform in his  political conduct.  He was educated in reverential ideas of monarchic government,  and considered himself the servant of a King who had entrusted him with very high  authority. As a true disciple of passive obedience, he might think himself bound to  promote the designs of his master, and thus he might probably release his conscience from  the obligation to aid his countrymen in their opposition to the encroachments  of the crown.  In the eye of candor, he may therefore be much more excusable than any  who may deviate from their principles and professions of republicanism, who  have not been biased by the patronage of kings, nor influenced in favor of monarchy by  their early prejudices of education or employment.


Note 8

A few extracts form the letters of Mr. Hutchinson to Mr. Jackson, Bollan, and others, the  year previous to the disturbance in March, 1770, fully evince his  sentiments of stationing and retaining troops in the capital of the Massachusetts.

"Boston, January 1769

"Dear Sir, "I sent you under a blank cover, by way of Bristol and Glasgow, the account of  proceedings in New York Assembly, which you will find equal to those of the  Massachusetts Perhaps if they had no troops, the people too would have run riot as we  did.  Five or six men of war, and three or four regiments disturb nobody but  some of our grave people, who do not love assemblies and concerts, and cannot bear the  noise of drums upon a Sunday.  I know I have not slept in town any three  months these two years, in so much tranquility as I have done the three months since the  troops came."

Extract of a letter from Mr. Bollan to Mr. Hutchinson.

"Henrietta Street, August 11, 1767

"Mr. Paxton has several times told me that you and some other of my friends were of  opinion that standing troops were necessary to support the authority of the  government at Boston and that he was authorized to inform me this was your and their  opinion.  I need not say that I hold in the greatest abomination such outrages  that have taken place among you, and am sensible it is the duty of all charter or other  subordinate governments to take due care and punish such proceedings; and  that all governments must be supported by force, when necessary; yet we must  remember how often standing forces have introduced greater mischiefs than they  retrieved, and I am apprehensive that your distant situation from the center of all civil  and military power, might in this case, sooner or later, subject you to peculiar  difficulties.

"When Malcolm's bad behavior made a stir here, a minister who seemed inclined to  make use of standing forces, supposing this might not be agreeable to me, I  avoided giving an opinion, which then appeared needless and improper, but afterwards,  when it was confidently said, that preparations were making to send a  considerable number of standing troops in order to compel obedience, I endeavored to  prevent it."

Mr. Bolan goes on to observe that "he had informed some influential gentlemen in  England that he had the highest reason to believe that whoever should be  instrumental in sending over standing troops to America would be cursed to all  posterity."

Extract from Governor Hutchinson's letters to Governor Pownal. It is uncertain on what  occasion the following assertion was made, but it discovered the spirit and  wishes of the writer.

"Boston, June 22, 1772

"The union of the colonies is pretty well broken; I hope I shall never see it renewed.  Indeed our sons of liberty are hated and despised by their former brethren in  New York and Pennsylvania, and it must be something very extraordinary ever to  reconcile them."


Note 9

Extracts from Mr. Hutchinson's letters to Mr. Jackson, Pownal, and others

"Boston, August 27, 1772

"But before America is settled in peace, it would be necessary to go to the bottom of all  the disorder which has been so long neglected already.  The opinion that  every colony has a legislature within itself, the acts an doings of which are not to be  controlled by Parliament and that no legislative power ought to be exercised  over the colonies, except by their respective legislatures gains ground every day, and it  has an influence upon all the executive parts of government.  Grand juries will  not present; petit juries will not convict the highest offenders against acts of Parliament;  our newspapers publicly announce this independence every week; and, what  is much more, there is scarce an assembly which has not done it at one time or another.   The assembly of this province has done as much the last session by their  public votes and resolves, and by an address which they have sent to Doctor Franklin to  be presented to the King; so there is sufficient grounds for Parliament to  proceed, if there is a disposition.  What, it will be said, can be done?  A test as general as  the oaths required instead of the oaths of allegiance and supremacy, would  be most effectual; but this there is reason to fear would throw American into a general  confusion, and I doubt the expediency.  But can less be done than affixing  penalties and disqualifications or incapacities upon all who by word or writing shall  deny or call in question the supreme authority of parliament over all parts of the  British dominions? Can it be made necessary for all judges to be under oath, to observe  all acts of Parliament in their judgments? And may not the oaths of all jurors,  grand and petit, be so framed as to include acts of Parliament as the rule of law, as well  as law in general terms? And for assemblies or bodies of men, who shall  deny the authority of Parliament, may not all their subsequent proceedings be declared  to be ipso facto null and void, and every member who shall continue to act in  such assembly be subject to penalties an incapacities? I suggest these things for  consideration. everything depends on the settlement of this grand point.  We owe  much of our troubles to the countenance given by some in England to this doctrine of  independence. If the people were convinced that the nation with one voice  condemned the doctrine, or that Parliament at all events, was determined to maintain its  supremacy, we should soon be quiet. The demagogues who generally have  no property would continue their endeavors to inflame the minds of the people for some  time; but the people in general have real estates, which they would not run  the hazard of forfeiting, by any treasonable measures. If nothing more can be done, there  must be further provisions for carrying the Act of Trade into execution,  which I am informed administration are very sensible of, and have measures in  contemplation.  Thus you have a few of my sudden thoughts, which I must pray you  not to communicate as coming form me, lest I should be supposed here to have contributed  to any future proceedings respecting America.  I have only room to add  that I am, with sincere respect and esteem, Yours, etc."

"Boston, December 8, 1772

"To Mr. Jackson (private)

"Dear Sir,

"They succeed in their unwearied endeavors to propagate the doctrine of independence  upon Parliament, and the mischiefs of it every day increase.  I believe I have  repeatedly mentioned to you my opinion of the necessity of Parliament's taking some  measures to prevent the spread of this doctrine as well as to guard against the  mischiefs of it.  It is more difficult now than it was the last year, and it will become  more and more so every year it is neglected, until it is utterly impracticable. If I  consulted nothing but my own ease and quiet, I would propose neglect and contempt of  every affront offered to Parliament by the little American assemblies, but I  should be false to the King, and betray the trust he has reposed in me. ...

"You see no difference between the case of the colonies and that of Ireland. I care not  how favorable a light you look upon the colonies, if it does not separate us  form you.  You will certainly find it more difficult to retain the colonies than you do  Ireland.  Ireland is near and under your constant inspection.  All officers are  dependent, and removable at pleasure.  The colonies are remote, and the officers  generally more disposed to please the people than the King or his representative.   In the one, you have always the ultimate ratio; in the other, you are either destitute of it, or  you have no civil magistrate to direct the use of it.  Indeed, to prevent a  general revolt, the naval power may for a long course of years be sufficient, but to  preserve the peace of the colonies, and to continue them beneficial to the mother  country, this will be to little purpose; but I am writing to a gentleman who knows these  things better than I do."

"Boston, January 1773

"John Pownal, Esquire

"My Dear Sir,

I have not answered your very kind and confidential letter of the 6th of October.   Nothing could confirm me more in my own plan of measures for the colonies than  finding it to agree with your sentiments. You know I have been begging for measures to  maintain the supremacy of Parliament.  While it is suffered to be denied, all is  confusion, and the opposition to government is continually gaining strength."

"Boston, April 19, 1773

"John Pownal, Esquire

"Dear Sir,

"Our patriots say that the votes of the town of Boston, which they sent to Virginia, have  produced the resolves of the assembly there, appointing a committee of  correspondence; and I have no doubt it is their expectation that a committee for the same  purpose will be appointed by most of the other assemblies on the  continent.  If anything therefore be done by Parliament respecting America, it now  seems necessary that it should be general, and not confined to particular colonies,  as the same spirit prevails everywhere, though not in the like degree."

"Boston, October 18, 1773

"John Pownal, Esquire (private)

"Dear Sir,

"The leaders of the party give out openly that they must have another convention of all  the colonies; and the speaker has made it known to several of the  members  that the agent in England recommends it as a measure necessary to be engaged in without  delay, and proposes, in order to bring the dispute to a crisis, that the rights of  the colonies should be there solemnly and fully asserted and declared; that there should  be a firm engagement with each other, that they will never grant any aid to the  Crown, even in case of war, unless the King and the two houses of Parliament first  recognize those rights; and that the resolution should be immediately communicated  to the Crown; and assures them that in this way they will finally obtain their end.

"I am not fond of conveying this sort of intelligence; but as I have the fullest evidence of  the fact, I do not see how I can be faithful to my trust and neglect it;  therefore, though I consider this as a private letter, yet I leave it to you to communicate  this part of it, so far as His Majesty's service may require, and as I have  nothing but that in view, I wish it may go no further.  the measure appears to me, of all  others, the most likely to rekindle a general flame in the colonies."

These above extracts were taken form Governor Hutchinson's letter book, found after he  repaired to England, deposited in a secret corner of his house in Milton.  If  the reader wishes a further gratification of his curiosity in regard to the subtle stratagems  of Mr. Hutchinson, he is referred to the whole collection, as published in  England.


Chapter Five: General Gage appointed Governor of Massachusetts. General Assembly  meets at Salem. A proposal for a  Congress from all the Colonies to be convened at Philadelphia. Mandamus Counselors  obliged to resign. Resolutions of the  General Congress. Occasional Observations. The Massachusetts attentive to the military  discipline of their youth. Suffolk  Resolves. A Provincial Congress chosen in the Massachusetts. Governor Gage summons  a new House of Representatives.

The speculatist and the philosopher frequently observe a casual subordination of  circumstances independent of political decision, which fixes the character and  manners of nations. This thought may be piously improved till it leads the mind to view  those causalities directed by a secret hand which points the revolutions of time  and decides the fate of empires. The occasional instruments for the completion of the  grand system of Providence have seldom any other stimulus but the bubble of  fame, the lust of wealth, or some contemptible passion that centers in self. Event he  bosom of virtue warmed by higher principles and the man actuated by nobler  motives walks in a narrow sphere of comprehension. The scale by which the ideas of  mortals are circumscribed generally limits his wishes to a certain point without  consideration, or a just calculation of extensive consequences.

Thus while the King of Great Britain was contending with the colonies for a three-penny  duty on tea, and the Americans with the bold spirit of patriotism resisting an  encroachment on their rights, the one thought they only asked a moderate and  reasonable indulgence from their Sovereign, which they had a right to demand if  withheld; on the other side, the most severe and strong measures were adopted and  exercised towards the colonies, which parliament considered as only the proper  and necessary chastisement of rebellious subjects. Thus on the eve of one of the most  remarkable revolutions recorded in the pages of history, a revolution which  Great Britain precipitated by her indiscretion and which the hardiest sons of America  viewed in the beginning of opposition as a work reserved for the enterprising  hand of posterity, few on either side comprehended the magnitude of the contest, and  fewer still had the courage to name the independence of the American colonies  as the ultimatum of their designs.

After the spirits of men had been wrought up to a high tone of resentment by repeated  injuries on the one hand, and an open resistance on the other, there was little  reason to expect a ready compliance with regulations, repugnant to the feelings, the  principles, and the interest of Americans. The parliament of Britain therefore  thought it expedient to enforce obedience by the sword and determined to send out an  armament sufficient for the purpose early in the spring of 1774. The  subjugation of the colonies by arms was yet considered in England by some as a work of  such facility that four or five regiments, with a few ships of the line were  equal to the business, provided they were commanded by officers who had not sagacity  enough to judge of the impropriety of the measures of administration, nor  humanity to feel for the miseries of the people or liberality to endeavor to mitigate the  rigors of government.  In consequence of this opinion, Admiral Montague was  recalled from Boston and Admiral Graves appointed to succeed, whose character was  known to be more avaricious, severe, and vigilant than his predecessor, and  in all respects a more fit instrument to execute the weak, indigested and irritating  system.

General Gage, unhappily for himself, as will appear in the sequel, was selected as a  proper person to take the command of all his Majesty's forces in North America,  and reduce the country to submission.  He had married a lady of respectable connections  in New York, and had held with considerable reputation for several years  a military employment in the colonies. He was at this time appointed governor and  commander in chief of the province of Massachusetts Bay; directed to repair  immediately there, and on his arrival to remove the seat of government from Boston,  and to convene the General Assembly to meet at Salem, a smaller town,  situated about twenty miles from the capital. The Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, the  Secretary, the Board of Commissioners, and all crown officers were ordered  by special mandate to leave Boston and make the town of Salem the place of their future  residence.

A few days before the annual election for May 1774, the new Governor of the  Massachusetts arrived. He was received by the inhabitants of Boston with the same  respect that had been usually shown to those who were dignified by the title of the  King's representative. An elegant entertainment was provided at Faneuil Hall, to  which he was escorted by a company of cadets and attended with great civility by the  magistrates and principal gentlemen of the town; and though jealousy, disgust  and resentment burnt in the bosom of one party, the most unwarrantable designs  occupied the thoughts of the other, yet the appearance of politeness and good  humor was kept up through the etiquette of the day.

The week following was the anniversary of the general election, agreeable to charter.   The day was ushered in with the usual parade, and the House of  Representatives proceeded to business in the common form: but a specimen of the  measures to be expected from the new administration appeared in the first act of  authority recorded of Governor Gage. A list of counselors was presented for his  approbation, from which he erased the names of thirteen gentlemen out of  twenty-eight, unanimously chosen by the free voice of the representatives of the people,  leaving only a quorum as established by charter, or it was apprehended, in  the exercise of his new prerogative he might have annihilated the whole. Most of the  gentlemen on the negatived list had been distinguished for their attachment to the  ancient constitution, and their decided opposition to the present ministerial measures.  Among them was James Bowdoin Esq. whose understanding, discernment and  conscientious deportment rendered him a very unfit instrument for the view of the court  at this extraordinary period. John Winthrop, Hollisian professor of  mathematics and natural philosophy at Cambridge; his public conduct was but the  emanation of superior genius, united with an excellent heart, as much distinguished  for every private virtue as for his attachment to the liberties of a country that may glory  in giving birth to a man of exalted character. [Dr. Winthrop was lineally  descended from the first governor of Massachusetts, and inherited the virtues and talents  of his great ancestor, too well known to need any encomium.] Colonel Otis  of Barn stable, whose name has been already mentioned; and John Adams, a barrister at  law of rising abilities; his appearance on the theater of politics commenced  at this period; we shall meet him again in still more dignified stations. These gentlemen  had been undoubtedly pointed out as obnoxious to administration by the  predecessor of Governor Gage, as he had not been long enough in the province to  discriminate characters.

The House of Representatives did not think proper to replace the members of Council by  a new choice; they silently bore this indiscreet exercise of authority,  sensible it was but a prelude to the impending storm. The Assembly was the next day  adjourned for a week; at the expiration of that time, they were directed to meet  at Salem. In the interim the Governor removed himself and the whole band of revenue  and crown officers deserted the town of Boston at once, as a place devoted  to destruction.

Every external appearance of respect was still kept up towards the new Governor. The  Council, the House, the judiciary officers, the mercantile and other bodies  prepared and offered congratulatory addresses as usual, on the recent arrival of the  commander in chief at   the seat of government. The incense was received both  at Boston and Salem with the usual satisfaction, except the address from the remaining  Board of Councilors; this was checked with asperity, and the reading it  through forbidden, as the composition contained some strictures on administration, and  censured rather too freely for the delicate ear of an infant magistrate the  conduct of some of his predecessors. But this was the last compliment of the kind ever  offered by either branch of the legislature of the Massachusetts to a governor  appointed by the King of Great Britain. No marks of ministerial resentment had either  humbled or intimidated the spirits, nor shook the intrepidity of mind necessary  for the times; and though it was first called into action in the Massachusetts, it breathed  its influence through all the colonies. They all seemed equally prepared to  suffer and equally determined to resist in unison, if no means but that of absolute  submission was to be the test of loyalty.

The first day of June, 1774, the day when the Boston port bill began to operate, was  observed in most of the colonies with uncommon solemnity as a day of fasting  and prayer. In all of them, sympathy and indignation, compassion and resentment  alternately arose in every bosom. A zeal to relieve and an alacrity to support the  distressed Bostonians seemed to pervade the whole continent, except the dependents on  the Crown, and their partisans, allured by interest to adhere to the royal  cause. There were indeed a few others in every colony led to unite with and to think  favorably of the measures of administration from their attachment to monarchy,  in which they had been educated; and some there were who justified all things done by  the hand of power, either from fear, ignorance, or imbecility.

The session at Salem was of short duration, but it was a busy and an important period.  The leading characters in the House of Representatives contemplated the  present moment, replete with consequences of the utmost magnitude. They judged it a  crisis that required measures bold and decisive, though hazardous, and that the  extrication of their country from the designs of their enemies depended much on the  conduct of the present assembly. Their charter was on the point of annihilation. A  military governor had just arrived with troops on the spot to support the arbitrary  systems of the Court of St. James.

These appearances had a disagreeable effect on some who had before cooperated with  the patriots; they began to tremble at the power and severity of Britain, at a  time when firmness was most required, zeal indispensable, and secrecy necessary. Yet  those who possessed the energies of mind requisite for the completion or the  defeat of great designs had not their ardor or resolution shaken in the smallest degree by  either dangers, threats, or caresses.  It was a prime object to select a few  members of the House that might be trusted most confidentially on any emergency. This  task fell to Mr. Samuel Adams of Boston and Mr. Warren of Plymouth.  They drew off a few chosen spirits who met at a place appointed for a secret conference.  [Among these the names of Hancock, Cushing, and Halwey, of Sullivan,  Robert Payne, and Benjamin Greenleaf of Newburyport and many others should not be  forgotten, but ought always to be mentioned with respect, for their zeal at  this critical moment.] Several others were introduced the ensuing evening, when a  discussion of circumstances took place. Immediate decision and effectual modes of  action were urged and such caution energy and dispatch were observed by this daring  and dauntless secret council that on the third evening of their conference their  business was ripe for execution.

This committee had digested a plan for a general congress from all the colonies to  consult on the common safety of America; named their own delegates; and as all  present were convinced of the necessity and expediency of such a convention, they  estimated the expense, and provided funds for the liquidation, prepared letters to  the other colonies, enforcing the reasons for their strong confederacy, and disclosed their  proceedings to the House, before the governmental party had the least  suspicion of their designs. [ Such a remarkable coincidence of opinion, energy, and zeal  

existed between the provinces of Virginia and the Massachusetts that their  measures and resolutions were often similar, previous to the opportunity ;for conference.  Thus the propriety of a general congress had been discussed and agreed  upon by the Virginians before they were informed of the resolutions of Massachusetts.  Some of the other colonies had contemplated the same measure without any  previous consultation.] Before the full disclosure of the business they were upon, the  doors of the House were locked, and a vote passed, that no one should be  suffered to enter or retire until a final determination took place on the important  questions before them. When these designs were opened, the partisans of  administration then in the House were thunderstruck with measures so replete with  ability and vigor and that wore such as aspect of high and dangerous  consequences.

These transactions might have been legally styled treasonable, but loyalty had lost its  influence and power its terrors.  Firm and disinterested, intrepid and united, they  stood ready to submit to the chances of war and to sacrifice their devoted lives to  preserve inviolate and to transmit to posterity the inherent rights of men conferred  on all by the God of nature and the privileges of Englishmen, claimed by Americans  from the sacred sanctions of compact.

When the measures agitated in the secret conference were laid before the House of  Representatives, one of the members, a devotee to all governors, pretended a  sudden indisposition and requested leave to withdraw. He pleaded the necessities of  nature, was released from his uneasy confinement, and ran immediately to  Governor Gate with information of the bold and high-handed proceedings of the lower  house. The Governor, not less alarmed than the sycophant at these  unexpected maneuvers, instantly directed the Secretary to dissolve the Assembly by  proclamation.

Finding the doors of the House closed and no prospect of admittance for him, the  Secretary desired the door keeper to acquaint the House he had a message from  the Governor and requested leave to deliver it. The Speaker replied that it was the order  of the House that no one should be permitted to enter on any pretense  whatever before the business they were upon was fully completed. Agitated and  embarrassed, the Secretary then read on the stairs a proclamation for the immediate  dissolution of the General Assembly.

The main point gained, the delegates for a congress chosen, supplies for their support  voted, and letters to the other colonies requesting them to accord in these  measures, signed by the Speaker, the members cheerfully dispersed and returned to their  constituents, satisfied that, notwithstanding the precipitant dissolution of the  Assembly, they had done all that the circumstances of the times would admit, to remedy  the present and guard against future evils.

This early step to promote the general interest of the colonies and lay the foundation of  union and concord in all their subsequent transactions will ever reflect luster  on the characters of those who conducted it with such firmness and decision. It was  indeed a very critical era: nor were those gentlemen insensible of the truth of the  observation that "whoever has a standing army at command has or may have the state."  Nor were they less sensible that in the present circumstance while they  acknowledged themselves the subjects of the King of England, their conduct must be  styled rebellion and that death must be the inevitable consequence of defeat.  Yet life was then considered a trivial stake in competition with liberty.

All the old colonies except Georgia readily acceded to the proposal of calling a general  congress. They made immediate exertions that there might be no discord in  the councils of the several provinces and that their opposition should be consistent,  spirited and systematical. Most of them had previously laid aside many of their  local prejudices and by public resolves and various other modes had expressed their  disgust at the summary proceedings of Parliament against the Massachusetts.   They reprobated the port bill in terms of detestation, raised liberal contributions for the  suffering inhabitants of Boston, and continued their determinations to support  that province at every hazard through the conflict in which they were involved.

In conformity to the coercive system, the governors of all the colonies frowned on the  sympathetic part the several legislative bodies had been disposed to take with  the turbulent descendants, as they were pleased to style the Massachusetts, of puritans,  republicans and regicides. Thus most of the colonial assemblies had been  petulantly dissolved, nor could any applications from the people prevail on the supreme  magistrate to suffer the representatives and burgesses to meet, and in a legal  capacity deliberate on measures most consistent with loyalty and freedom. But this  persevering obstinacy of the governors did not retard the resolutions of the  people; they met in parishes, and selected persons from almost every town to meet in  provincial conventions and there to make choice of suitable delegates to meet  in general congress.

The beginning of autumn, 1774 was the time appointed, and the city of Philadelphia  chosen as the most central and convenient place for this body to meet and  deliberate at so critical a conjuncture. Yet such as the attachment to Britain, the strength  of habit, and the influence of ancient forms; such the reluctant dread of  spilling human blood, which at that period was universally felt in America, that there  were few who did not ardently wish some friendly intervention might yet prevent  a rupture which probably might shake the empire of Britain and waste the inhabitants on  both sides of the Atlantic.

At the early period, there were some who viewed the step of their summoning a general  congress, under existing circumstances of peculiar embarrassment, as a  prelude to a revolution which appeared pregnant with events that might affect not only  the political systems but the character and manners of a considerable part of  the habitable globe. [This observation has since been verified in the remarkable  revolution in France -- a struggle fro freedom on one side and the combinations of  European monarch on the other, to depress and eradicate the spirit of liberty caught in  America, was displayed to the world. Nor was any of the combination of  princes at the Treaty of Piloting more persevering in the cause of despotism than the  King of Great Britain.]

America was then little known, her character, ability, and police less understood abroad.  But she soon became the object of attention among the potentates of  Europe, the admiration of both the philosophic and the brave, and her fields of theater of  fame throughout the civilized world.  Her principles were disseminated: the  seeds sown in America ripened in the more cultivated grounds of Europe, and inspired  ideas among the enslaved nations that have long trembled at the name of the  bastate and the bastinado. This may finally lead to the completion of prophetic  predictions and spread universal liberty and peace as far at least as is compatible with  the present state of human nature.  The wild vagaries of the perfectibility of man, so long as the passions to which the  species are liable play about the hearts of all, may be left to the dreaming scholiast  who wanders in search of impracticable theories. He may remain entangled in his own  web, while that rational liberty, to which all have a right, may be exhibited and  defended by men of principle and heroism who better understand the laws of social  order.

Through the summer previous to the meeting of Congress, no expressions of loyalty to  the Sovereign or affection to the parent state were neglected in their public  declarations. Yet the colonies seemed to be animated as it were by one soul to train their  youth to arms, to withhold all commercial connection with Great Britain,  and to cultivate that unanimity necessary to bind society when ancient forms are relaxed  of broken and the common safety required the assumption of new modes of  government.  But while attentive to the regulations of their internal economy and  police, each colony beheld with a friendly and compassionate eye, the severe  struggles of the Massachusetts where the arm of power was principally leveled and the  ebullitions of ministerial resentment poured forth as if to terrify the sister  provinces into submission.

Not long after the dissolution of the last Assembly ever convened in that province on the  principles of their former charter, Admiral Graves arrived in Boston with  several ships of the line and a number of transports laden with troops, military stores,  and all warlike accouterments. The troops landed peaceably, took possession  of the open grounds, and formed several encampments within the town.

At the same time arrived the bill for new modeling the government of the  Massachusetts.  By this bill, their former charter was entirely vacated: a council of 36  members was appointed by mandamus to hold their places during the King's pleasures;  all judges, justices, sheriffs, etc. were to be appointed by the Governor,  without the advice of council, and to be removed at his sole option. Jurors in future were  to be named by the sheriff, instead of the usual and more impartial mode of  drawing them by lot. All town-meetings without express leave from the governor were  forbidden, except those annually held in the spring for the choice of  representatives and town-officers. Several other violations of the former compact  completed the system.

This new mode of government, though it had been for some time expected, occasioned  such loud complaints, such universal murmurs that several of the newly  appointed counselors had not the courage to accept places which they were sensible  would reflect disgrace on their memory.  Tow of them [These were James  Russell, Esq. of Charlestown, and William Vassal, Esq. of Boston.] seemed really to  decline from principle and publicly declared they would have no hand in the  dereliction of the rights of their country. Several others relinquished their seats for fear  

of offending their countrymen. But most of them, selected by Mr. Hutchinson  as proper instruments for the purpose, were destitute of all ideas of public virtue. They  readily took the qualifying oaths and engaged to lend their hand to erase the  last vestige of freedom in that devoted province.

The people, still firm and undaunted, assembled in multitudes and repaired to the houses  of the obnoxious counselors.  They demanded an immediate resignation of  their unconstitutional appoints, and a solemn assurance that they would never accept any  office incompatible with the former privileges enjoyed by their country.   Some of them, terrified by the resolution of the people, complied and remained  afterwards quiet and unmolested in their own houses. Others, who had prostrated all  principle in the hope of preferment and were hardy enough to go every length to secure  it, conscious of the guilty part they had acted, made their escape into Boston,  where they were sure of the protection of the King's troops.  Indeed that unhappy town  soon became the receptacle of all the devotees to ministerial measures from  every part of the province:  they there consoled themselves with the barbarous hope that  Parliament would take the severest measures to enforce their own acts, nor  were these hopes unfounded.

It has been observed that by the late edict for the better administration of justice in the  Massachusetts, any man was liable on the slightest suspicion of treason or  misprision of treason, to be dragged from his own family or vicinity to any part of the  King of England's dominions for trial. It was now reported that General Gage  had orders to arrest the leading characters in opposition and transport them beyond  sea and that a reinforcement of troops might be hourly expected sufficient to  enable him to execute all the mad projects of a rash and unprincipled ministry.

Though the operation of this system in its utmost latitude was daily threatened and  expected, it made little impression on a people determined to withhold even a tacit  consent to any infractions on their charter.  They considered the present measures as a  breach of a solemn covenant, which at the same time that it subjected them to  the authority of the King of England, stipulated to them the equal enjoyment of all the  rights and privileges of free and natural-born subjects.  They chose to hazard  the consequences of returning back to a state of nature, rather than quietly submit to  unjust and arbitrary measures continually accumulating. This was a dangerous  experiment, though they were sensible that the necessities of man will soon restore order  and subordination, even from confusion and anarchy: on the contrary, the  yoke of despotism once riveted, no human sagacity can justly calculate its termination.

While matters hung in this suspense, the people in all the shire towns collected in  prodigious numbers to prevent the sitting of the courts of common law; forbidding  the justices to meet, or the jurors to impanel, and obliging all civil magistrates to bind  themselves by oath not to conform to the late acts of Parliament in any judiciary  proceedings; and all military officers were called upon to resign their commissions.   Thus were the bands of society relaxed, law set at defiance, and government  unhinged throughout the province. Perhaps this may be marked in the annals of time as  one of the most extraordinary ears in the history of man: the exertions of spirit  awakened by the severe hand of power had led to that most alarming experiment of  leveling all ranks, and destroying all subordination.

It cannot be denied that nothing is more difficult than to restrain the provoked multitude  when once aroused by a sense of wrong, from the supineness which generally  over spreads the common class of mankind. Ignorant and fierce, they know not in the  first ebullitions of resentment how to repel with safety the arm of the  oppressor.  It is a work of time to establish a regular opposition to long-established  tyranny.  A celebrated writer has observed that "men bear with the defects in  their police as they do wit the inconveniences and hardships in living"; and perhaps the  facility of the human mind in adapting itself to its circumstances was never  more remarkably exemplified than it was at this time in America.

Trade had long been embarrassed throughout the colonies by the restraints of Parliament  and the rapacity of revenue officers; the shutting up the port of Boston was  felt in every villa of the New England colonies; the bill for altering the constitution of  Massachusetts prevented all legislative proceedings; the executive officers were  rendered incapable of acting in their several departments and the courts of justice shut  up.  it must be ascribed to the virtue of the people, however reluctant some  may be to acknowledge this truth, that they did not feel the effects of anarchy in the  extreme.

But a general forbearance and complacency seemed for a time almost to preclude the  necessity of legal restraint; and except in a few instances, when the indiscretion  of individuals provoked abuse, there was less violence and personal insult than perhaps  ever was known in the same period of time, when all political union was  broken down, and private affection weakened, by the virulence of party prejudice, which  generally cuts in sunder the bands of social and friendly connection.  The  people irritated in the highest degree, the sword seemed to be half drawn from the  scabbard, while the trembling hand appeared unwilling to display its whetted  point; and all America, as well as the Massachusetts, suspended all partial opposition,  and waited to anxious hope and expectation the decisions of a Continental  Congress.

This respected Assembly, the Amphyctions of the western world, convened by the free  suffrages of twelve colonies, met at the time proposed, on the fourth of  September, 1774. They entered on business with hearts warmed with the love of their  country, a sense of the common and equal rights of man, and the dignity of  human nature.  Peyton Randolph, Esq. a gentleman from Virginia, whose sobriety,  integrity, and political abilities, qualified him for the important station, was  unanimously chosen to preside in this grand council of American peers.

Though this body was sensibly affected by the many injuries received from the parent  state, their first wish was a reconciliation on terms of reciprocity, justice and  honor. In consequence of these sentiments with the duty due to their constituents, every  thing that might tend to widen the breach between Great Britain and the  colonies.  Yet they were determined, if Parliament continued deaf to the calls of justice,  not to submit to the yoke of tyranny, but to take the preparatory steps  necessary for a vigorous resistance.

After a thorough discussion of the civil, political, and commercial interests of both  countries, the natural ties, and the mutual benefits resulting from the strictest amity,  and the unhappy consequences that must ensue, if driven to the last appeal, they  resolved on a dutiful and loyal petition to the King, recapitulating their grievances,  and imploring redress: they modestly remonstrated, and obliquely censured the authors  of those mischiefs, which filled all America with complaint.

They drew up an affectionate, but spirited memorial to the people of England, reminding  them that they held their own boasted liberties on a precarious tenure, if  government, under the sanction of Parliamentary authority, might enforce by the terrors  of the sword their unconstitutional edicts. They informed them, that they  determined, from a sense of justice to posterity, and for the honor of human nature, to  resist all infringements on the natural rights of men; that, if neither the dictates  of equity, nor the suggestions of humanity, were powerful enough to restrain a wanton  administration from shedding blood in a cause so derogatory to the principles  of justice, not all the exertions of superior strength should lead them to submit servilely  to the impositions of a foreign power.  They forwarded a well-adapted  address to the French inhabitants of Canada, to which they subjoined a detail of their  rights, with observations on the alarming aspect of the late Quebec bill, and  invited them to join in the common cause of America.

Energy and precision, political ability, and the genuine amor patriae marked the  measures of the short session of this Congress.  They concluded their proceedings  with an address to the several American colonies, exhorting them to union and  perseverance in the modes of opposition they had pointed out.  Among the most  important of these was a strong recommendation to discontinue all commerce with Great  Britain, and encourage the improvement of arts and manufactures among  themselves.  They exhorted all ranks and orders of men to a strict adherence to industry,  frugality, and sobriety of manners; and to look primarily to the supreme  ruler of the universe, who is able to defeat the crafty designs of the most potent enemy.  They agreed on a declaration of rights, and entered into an association, to  which the signature of every member of Congress was affixed [see Note 10 at the  bottom of this page]; in which they bound themselves to suspend all farther  intercourse with Great Britain, to import no merchandise from that hostile country, to  abstain from the use of all India teas; and that after a limited time, if a radical  redress of grievances was not obtained, no American produce should be exported either  to England or the West India islands under the jurisdiction of Britain.

To these recommendations were added several sumptuary resolves; after which they  advised their constituents to a new choice of delegates to meet in congress on  May 10, 1775: they judged it probable that, by that time, they should hear the success of  their petitions to the throne.  They then prudently dissolved themselves, and  returned to their private occupations in their several provinces, there to wait the  operation of their resolutions and addresses.

It is scarcely possible to describe the influence of the transactions and resolves of  Congress on the generality of the people throughout the wide extended continent of  America.  History records no injunctions of men, that were ever more religiously  observed; or any human laws more readily and universally obeyed, than were the  recommendations of this revered body. It is indeed a singular phenomenon in the story  of human conduct, that when all legal institutions were abolished, and long  established governments at once annihilated in so many distinct states that the  recommendations of committees and conventions, not enforced by penal sanctions,  should be equally influential and binding with the severest code of law, backed by royal  authority, and strengthened by the murdering sword of despotism. Doubtless  the fear of popular resentment operated on some, with a force equal to the rod of the  magistrate: the singular punishments [Such as tarring and feathering, etc.],  inflicted in some instances by an inflamed rabble, on a few who endeavored to  counteract the public measures, deterred others from opening violating the public  resolves, and acting against the general consent of the people.

Not the bitterest foe to American freedom, whatever might be his wishes, presumed to  counteract the general voice by an avowed importation of a single article of  British merchandise, after the first day of February, 1775. The cargoes of all vessels that  happened to arrive after this limited period were punctually delivered to the  committees of correspondence, in the first port of their arrival, and sold at public  auction.  The prime cost and charges and the half of one per cent was paid to the  owners, and the surplus of the profits was appropriated to the relief of the distressed  inhabitants of Boston, agreeable to the seventh article in the association of the  Continental Congress.

The voice of the multitude is as the rushing down of a torrent, nor is it strange that some  outrages were committed against a few obstinate and imprudent partisans of  the court, by persons of as little consideration as themselves.  It is true that in the course  of the arduous struggle, there were many irregularities that could not be  justified and some violences in consequence of the general discontent that will not stand  the test, when examined at the bar of equity; yet perhaps fewer than ever  took place in any country under similar circumstances. Witness the convulsions of  Rome on the demolition of her first race of kings; the insurrections and commotions  of her colonies before the downfall of the commonwealth; and to come nearer home, the  confusions, the mobs, the cruelties in Britain in their civil convulsions, from  William the Conqueror to the days of the Stuarts, and from the arbitrary Stuarts to the  riots of London and Liverpool, even in the reign of George III.

Many other instances of the dread effects of popular commotion, when wrought up to  resistance by the oppressive hand of power, might be adduced from the  history of nations, [France might have been mentioned as a remarkable instance of the  truth of these observations, had they not been written several years before the  extraordinary revolutions and cruel convulsions that have since agitated that unhappy  country. Every one will observe the astonishing difference in the conduct of the  people of America and of France, in the two revolutions which took place within a few  years of each other. In the one, all was horror, robbery, assassination,  murder, devastation and massacre; in the other, a general sense of rectitude checked the  commission of those crimes, and the dread of spilling human blood withheld  for a time the hand of party, even when the passions were irritated to the extreme. This  must be attributed to the different religion, government, laws, and manners of  the two countries, previous to these great events; not to any difference in the nature of  man; in similar circumstances, revenge, cruelty, confusion, and every evil  work, operate equally on the ungoverned passions of men in al nations.] and the ferocity  of human nature, when not governed by interest or fear. Considering the  right of personal liberty, which ever one justly claims, the tenacious regard to property,  and the pride of opinion, which sometimes operates to the dissolution of the  tenderest ties of nature, it is wonderful, when the mind was elevated by these powerful  springs, and the passions whetted by opposition or insult, that riot and  confusion, desolation and bloodshed, was not the fatal consequence of the long  interregnum of law and government throughout the colonies. Yet not a life was lost till  the trump of war summoned all parties to the field.

Valor is an instinct that appears even among savages, as a dictate of nature planted for  self-defense; but patriotism on the diffusive principles of general benevolence,  is the child of society. This virtue with the fair accomplishments of science, gradually  grows and increases with civilization, until refinement is wrought to a height that  poisons and corrupts the mind. This appears when the accumulation of wealth is rapid,  and the gratifications of luxurious appetite become easy; the seeds of  benevolence are then often destroyed and the man reverts back to selfish barbarism, and  feels no check to his rapacity and boundless ambition, though his passions  may be frequently veiled under various alluring and deceptive appearances.

America was now a fair field for a transcript of all the virtues and vices that have  illumined or darkened, disgraced and reigned triumphant in their turn over all the  other quarters of the habitable globe.  The progress of every thing had there been  remarkably rapid, from the first settlement of the country. Learning was cultivated,  knowledge disseminated, politeness and morals improved, and valor and patriotism  cherished, in proportion to the rapidity of her population.  This extraordinary  cultivation of arts and manners may be accounted for, from the stage of society and  improvement in which the first planters of America were educated before they  left their native clime. The first emigrations to North America were not composed of a  strolling banditti of rude nations, like the first people of most other colonies in  the history of the world. The early settlers in the newly discovered continent were as far  advanced in civilization, policy, and manner; in their ideas of government, the  nature of compacts, and the bands of civil union, as any of their neighbors at that period  among the most polished nations of Europe. Thus they soon grew to maturity  and became able to vie with their European ancestors in arts, in arms, in perspicuity in  the cabinet, courage in the field, and ability for foreign negotiations, and in the  same space of time that most other colonies have required to pare off the ruggedness of  their native ferocity, establish the rudiments of civil society, and begin the  fabric of government and jurisprudence. Yet as they were not fully sensible of their own  strength and abilities, they wished still to hang upon the arm, and look up for  protection to their original parent.

The united voice of millions still acknowledged the scepter of Brunswick; firmly  attached to the House of Hanover, educated in the principles of monarchy, and fond  of that mode of government under certain limitations, they were still petitioning the  King of England only to be restored to the same footing of privilege claimed by his  other subjects, and wished ardently to keep the way open to a reunion, consistent with  their ideas  of honor and freedom.

Thus the grand council of union were disposed to wait the operations of time, without  hurrying to momentous decisions that might in a degree have sanctioned  severities in the parent state that would have shut up every avenue to reconciliation.  While the representatives of all the provinces had thus been deliberating, the  individual colonies were far from being idle.  Provincial congresses and conventions had  in almost every province taken place of the old forms of legislation and  government, and they were all equally industrious and united in the same modes to  combat the intrigues of the governmental faction, which equally forfeited the  whole, though the eastern borders of the continent more immediately suffered.  But their  institutions in infancy, commerce suspended, and their property seized;  threatened by the national orators, by the proud chieftains of military departments, and  by the British fleet and army daily augmenting, hostilities of the most serious  nature lowered on all sides; the artillery of war and the fire of rhetoric seemed to  combine for the destruction of America.

The minds of the people at this period, though not dismayed, were generally solemnized,  in expectation of events, decisive both to political and private happiness,  and every brow appeared expressive of sober anxiety. The people trembled for their  liberties, the merchant for his interest, the Tories for their places, the Whigs for  their country, and the virtuous ;for the manners of society.

It must be allowed that the genius of America was bold, resolute and enterprising;  tenacious of the rights their fathers had endured such hardships to purchase, they  determined to defend to the last breath the invaluable possession.  to check this ardent  characteristic it had, previous to the time we are upon, been considered, as if  by common consent among the plantation governors, a stroke of policy to depress the  militia of the country. All military discipline had for several years been totally  neglected; thus untrained to arms, whenever there had been an occasional call in aid of  British operations in America, the militia were considered as a rustic set of  auxiliaries, and employed not only in the least honorable, but the most menial services.   Though this indignity was felt, it was never properly resented; they had borne  the burden of fatigue and subordination without much complaint: but the martial spirit  of the country now became conspicuous, and the inclination of the youth of  every class was universally cherished, and military evolutions were the interludes that  most delighted even children in the intermission of their sedentary exercises at  school.

Among the maneuvers of this period of expectation, a certain quota of hardy youth were  drawn from the train-bands in every town, who were styled minute men.  They voluntarily devoted a daily portion of their time to improve themselves in the  military art, under officers of their own choice. Thus when hostilities commenced,  every district could furnish a number of soldiers who wanted nothing but experience in  the operations of war to make them a match for any troops the Sovereign of  Britain could boast.

This military ardor wore an unpleasant aspect in the eyes of administration. By a letter  from Lord Dartmouth to General Gage, soon after he was appointed governor  of the Massachusetts, it appeared that a project for disarming certain provinces was  seriously contemplated in the cabinet. [General Gage in his reply to the minister  upon the above suggestion, observes, "Your lordship's idea of disarming certain  provinces would doubtless be consistent with produce and safety; but it neither is  nor has been practicable, without having resources to force: we must first become  masters of the country."] The Parliament actually prohibited the exportation of  arms, ammunition, and military stores to any part of America, except for their own fleets  and armies employed in the colonies; and the king's troops were frequently  sent out in small parties to dismantle the forts, and seize the powder magazines or other  military stores wherever they could be found. The people throughout the  colonies with better success took similar measures to secure to themselves whatever  warlike stores were already in the country. Thus a kind of predatory struggle  almost universally took place. Every appearance of hostilities was discoverable in the  occasional rencontres, except the drawing of blood, which was for a time  suspended; delayed on one side from an apprehension that they were not quite ripe for  the conflict; on the other, from an expectation of reinforcements that might  ensure victory on the easiest terms; and perhaps by both, from the recollection of their  former connection and attachment.

A disunion of the colonies had long bee zealously wished for, and vainly attempted by  administration; as that could not be effected, it was deemed a wise and politic  

measure to make an example of one they judged the most refractory.  Thus resentment  seemed particularly leveled at the Massachusetts; consequently they obliged  that colony first to measure the sword with the hardy veterans of Britain.

The spirited proceedings of the County of Suffolk, soon after the arrival of Gage, and  his hasty dissolution of the General Assembly, in some measure damped the  expectation of the ministry, who had  flattered themselves that the depression and ruin  of the Massachusetts would strike terror through the other provinces, and  render the work of conquest more easy.  But the decision and energy of this Convention,  composed of members from the principal towns in the county, discovered  that the spirit of Americans at that time was not to be coerced by dragoons and that if  one colony, under the immediate frowns of government, with an army in their  capital, were thus bold and determined, new calculations must be made for the  subjugation of all.

The Convention met in Suffolk, at once unanimously renounced the authority of the new  legislature, and engaged to bear harmless all officers who should refuse to  act under it.  They pronounced all those who had accepted seats at the Board of Council  by mandamus the incorrigible enemies of their country.  They  recommended to the people to perfect themselves in the art of war, and prepare to resist  by force of arms every hostile invasion. They resolved, that if any person  should be apprehended for his exertions in the public cause, reprisals should be made,  by seizing and holding in custody the principal officers of the Crown, wherever  they could be found, until ample justice should be done. They advised the collectors and  receivers of all public moneys to hold it in their hands until appropriations  should be directed by authority of a provincial congress.  They earnestly urged an  immediate choice of delegates for that purpose and recommended their convening  at Salem.

These and several other resolves in the same style and manner, were considered by  government as the most overt acts of treason that had yet taken place; but their  doings were but a specimen of the spirit which actuated the whole province. Every town,  with the utmost alacrity, chose one or more of the most respectable  gentlemen, to meet in provincial congress, agreeable to the recommendation of October  15, 1774. They were requested by their constituents to take into  consideration the distressed state of the country and to devise the most practicable  measures to extricate the people from their present perplexed situation.

In the mean time, to preclude the appearance of necessity for such a convention,  Governor Gage issued precepts summoning a new General Assembly to meet at  Salem, the week preceding the time appointed for the meeting of the Convention.  The  people obeyed the order of the Governor, and every where chose their  representatives; but they all chose the same persons they had recently delegated to meet  in Convention.  Whether the governor was apprehensive that it would not  be safe for his mandamus council to venture out of the capital, or whether conscious that  it would not be a constitutional assembly or from the imbecility of his own  mind, in a situation altogether new to him, is uncertain; but from whatever cause it  arose, he discovered his embarrassment by a proclamation dated the day before  he was to meet them at Salem to dissolve the new House of Representatives.  This  extraordinary dissolution only precipitated the pre-determination of the delegates.  They had taken their line of conduct, and their determinations were not easily shaken.

The Council chosen by the House on the day of their last election had also, as requested,  repaired to Salem.  The design was to proceed to business a usual, without  any notice of the annihilation of their charter.  Their determination was, if the Governor  refused to met with or countenance them, to consider him as absent from the  province.  It had been usual under the old charter, when the Governor's signature could  not be obtained by reason of death or absence, that by the names of 15  counselors affixed thereto, all the acts of assembly were equally valid, as when signed  by the Governor.  But by the extraordinary conduct of the chief magistrate, the  General Assembly was left at liberty to complete measures in any mode or form that  appeared most expedient.  Accordingly, they adjourned to Concord, a town  situated about 30 miles from Salem, and there prosecuted the business of their  constituents.

As it was not yet thought prudent to assume all the powers of an organized government,  they chose a president, and acted as a provincial congress, as previously  proposed. They recommended to the militia to choose their own officers and submit to  regular discipline at least thrice a week, and that a fourth part of them should  be drafted and hold themselves in readiness to march at a moment's warning to any part  of the province. They recommended to the several counties to adhere to  their own resolves, and to keep the courts of common law shut until some future period,  when justice could be legally administered.  They appointed a committee of  supplies to provide ammunition, provisions, and warlike stores, and to deposit them in  some place of safety, ready for use, if they should be obliged to take  up arms  in defense of their rights.

This business required talents and energy to make arrangements for exigencies, new and  untried. Fortunately, "Elbridge Gerry, Esq. was placed at the head of this  commissions, who executed it with his usual punctuality and indefatigable industry.   This gentleman entered from principle, early in the opposition to British  encroachments, and continued one of the most uniform republicans to the end of the  contest.  He was the next year chosen a delegate to the Continental Congress.   Firm, exact, perspicuous, and tenacious of public and private honor, he rendered  essential service to the union for many years that he continued a member of that  honorable body. [Mr. Gerry's services and exertions to promote the public interest  through every important station which he filled from this period until he was  appointed to negotiate with the Republic of France in the year 1798 were uniform. There  his indefatigable zeal, his penetration, and cool perseverance when  everything appeared on the eve of rupture between the two republics, laid the foundation  and formed the outlines of an accommodation which soon after terminated  in an amicable treaty between France and the United States of America.]

The Provincial Congress appointed a Committee of Safety, consisting of nine members,  and vested them with powers to act as they should see fit for the public  service, in the recess, and to call them together again, on any extraordinary emergency;  and before they separated, they chose a new set of delegates to meet in  General Congress the ensuing spring. After this they held a conference with the  committees of donation and correspondence and the selectmen of the town of Boston  on the expediency of an effort to remove the inhabitants from a town blockaded on all  sides.  They then separated for a few weeks to exert their influence in aid to  

the resolutions of the people; to strengthen their fortitude, and prepare them for the  approaching storm, which they were sensible could be at no great distance.

Though the inhabitants of Boston were shut up in garrison, insulted by the troops, and in  many respects felt the evils of a severe military government; yet the difficulty  of removing thousands from their residence in the capital, to seek an asylum in the  country on the eve of winter, appeared fraught with inconveniences too great to be  attempted. They were, of consequence, the most of them obliged to continue amid the  outrages of a  licentious army, and wait patiently the events of the ensuing  spring.

The principal inhabitants of the town, though more immediately under the eye of their  oppressors, lost no part of their determined spirit, but still acted in unison with  their friends more at liberty without the city. A bold instance of this appeared when Mr.  Oliver, the chief justice, regardless of the impeachment that lay against him,  attempted with his associates to open the Superior Court and transact business according  to the new regulations. Advertisements were posted in several public  places, forbidding on their peril the attorneys and barristers at law to carry any cause up  to the bar. Both the grand and petit-jurors refused attendance, and finally  the court was obliged to adjourn without delay.

These circumstances greatly alarmed the party, more especially those natives of the  country who had taken sanctuary under the banners of an officer who had orders  to enforce the acts of administration, even at the point of the bayonet. Apprehensive they  might be  dragged from their asylum within the gates, they were continually  urging General Gage to more vigorous measures without.  They assured him that it  would be easy for him to execute the designs of government provided he would  by law marital seize, try, or transport to England such persons as were most particularly  obnoxious; and that if the people once saw him thus determined, they would  sacrifice their leaders and submit quietly.

They associated and bound themselves by covenant to go all lengths in support of the  projects of administration against their country; but the General, assured of  reinforcements in the spring, sufficient to enable him to open a bloody campaign, and  not remarkable for resolution or activity, had not the courage, and perhaps not  the inclination, to try the dangerous experiment, until he felt himself stronger.  He was  also sensible of the striking similarity of genius, manners, and conduct of the  colonies in union.  It was observable to everyone that local prejudices, either in religion  or government, taste or politics, were suspended, and that every distinction  was sunk, in the consideration of the necessity of connection and vigor in one general  system of defense. He therefore proceeded no farther, during the winter, than  publishing proclamations against congresses, committees, and conventions, styling all  associations of the kind unlawful and treasonable combinations, and forbidding  all persons to pay the smallest regard to their recommendations, on penalty of his  Majesty's severest displeasure.

These feeble exertions only confirmed the people in their adherence to the modes  pointed out by those to whom they had entrusted the safety of the Commonwealth.  The only active movement of the season was that of a party commanded by Colon Leslie,  who departed from Castle William on the evening of Saturday, February  27, 1775, on a secret expedition to Salem. The design was principally to seize a few  cannon on the ensuing morning. The people apprised of his approach, drew up  a bridge over which his troops were to pass.  Leslie, finding his passage would be  disputed and having no orders to proceed to blows, after much expostulation  engaged that if he might be permitted to go on the ground, he would molest neither  public nor private property.  The bridge was immediately let down, and through a  line of armed inhabitants, ready to take vengeance on a forfeiture of his word, he only  marched to the extreme part of the town and then returned to Boston, to the  mortification of himself and his friends, that an officer of Colonel Leslie's  acknowledged bravery should be sent out on so frivolous an errand.

This incident discovered the determination of the Americans, carefully to avoid  everything that had the appearance of beginning hostilities on their part; an imputation  that might have been attended with great inconvenience; nor indeed were they prepared  to precipitate a conflict, the consequences and the termination of which no  human calculation could reach.  This maneuver also discovered that the people of the  country were not deficient in point of courage, but that they stood charged for a  resistance that might smite the sceptered hand, whenever it should be stretched forth to  arrest by force the inheritance purchased by the blood of ancestors, whose  self-denying virtues had rivaled the admired heroes of antiquity.


Note 10

Names of the members of the American Congress, in 1774.

Peyton Randolph, President

New Hampshire: John Sullivan, Nathaniel Folsom Massachusetts Bay: Thomas Cushing, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Robert Treat Paine Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, Samuel Ward Connecticut: Eliphalet Dyer, Roger Sherman, Silas Deane New York: Isaac Low, John Alsop, John Jay, James Duane, William Floyd, Henry  Wisner, Samuel Bocrum New Jersey: James Kinsey, William Livingston, Stephen Crane, Richard Smith Pennsylvania: Joseph Galloway, Charles Humphreys, John Dickenson, Thomas Mifflin,  Edward Biddle, John Morton, George Ross Newcastle, etc.: Caesar Rodney, Thomas McKean, George Read Maryland: Matthew Tilghman, Thomas Johnson, William Paca, Samuel Chase Virginia: Richard Henry Lee, George Washington, Patrick Henry, Junior, Richard  Bland, Benjamin Harrison, Edmund Pendleton North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, R. Caswell South Carolina: Henry Middleton, Thomas Lynch, Christopher Gadsden, John Rutledge,  Edward Rutledge


Chapter Six:  Parliamentary divisions on American affairs. Cursory observations and  events. Measures for raising an army of  observation by the four New England governments of New Hampshire, Massachusetts,  Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Battle  of Lexington. Sketches of the conduct and characters of the governors of the southern  provinces. Ticonderoga taken. Arrival of  reinforcements from England. Proscription and characters of Samuel Adams and John  Hancock. Battle of Bunker Hill.  Death  and character of General Joseph Warren. Massachusetts adopts a stable form of  government.

 We have seen several years pass off in doubtful anxiety, in repression and repulsion,  while many yet indulged the pleasing hope that some able genius might arise that  would devise measures to heal the breach, to revive the languishing commerce of both  countries, and restore the blessings of peace, by removing the causes of  complaint. But these hopes vanished, and all expectation of that kind were soon cut off  by the determined system of coercion in Britain, and the actual  commencement of war in America.

The earliest accounts from England, after the beginning of the year 1775, announced the  ferments of the British nation, principally on account of American measures,  the perseverance of the ministry, and the obstinacy of the King, in support of the system;  the sudden dissolution of one Parliament, and the immediate election of  another, composed of the same members, or men of the same principles as the former.

Administration had triumphed through the late Parliament over reason, justice, and the  humanity of individuals, and the interest of the nation. Notwithstanding the  noble and spirited opposition of several distinguished characters in both Houses, it soon  appeared that the influence of the ministry over the old Parliament was not  depreciated, or that more lenient principles pervaded the councils of the new one. Nor  did more judicious and favorable decisions lead to the prospect of an  equitable adjustment of a dispute that had interested the feelings of the whole empire,  and excited the attention of neighboring nations, not as an object of curiosity,  but whit views and expectations that might give a new face to the political and  commercial systems of a considerable part of the European world.

The petition of the Continental Congress to the King, their address to the people of  England, with General Gage's letters, and all papers relative to America, were  introduced early in the session of the new Parliament. Warm debates ensured, and the  cause of the colonies was advocated with ability and energy by the most  admired orators among the Commons, and by several very illustrious names in the  House of Lords. They descanted largely on the injustice and impolicy of the  present system, and the impracticability of its execution. They urged that the immediate  repeal of the revenue acts, the recall of the troops, and the opening the port  of Boston were necessary, preliminary steps to any hope of reconciliation; and that these  measures only would preserve the empire from consequences that would  be fatal to her interests, as well as disgraceful to her councils. But, predetermined in the  Cabinet, a large majority in Parliament appeared in favor of strong measures.  The ministerial party insisted that coercion only could ensure obedience, restore  tranquility to the colonies, repair the insulted dignity, and reestablish the supremacy  of Parliament.

An act was immediately passed, prohibiting New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode  Island, and Connecticut from carrying on the fishing business on the banks of  Newfoundland. By this arbitrary step, thousands of miserable families were suddenly  cut off from all means of subsistence. But, as if determined the rigors of power  should know no bounds, before Parliament had time to cool, after the animosities  occasioned by the bill just mentioned, another [Parliamentary proceedings in 1775]  was introduced by the minister, whereby the trade of the southern colonies was  restrained, and in future confined entirely to Great Britain. The minority still  persevered in the most decided opposition both against the former and the present  modes of severity towards the colonies.  Very sensible and spirited protests were  entered against the new bills, signed by some of the first nobility. A young nobleman of  high rank and reputation predicted that "measures commenced in iniquity, and  pursued in resentment, must end in blood, and involve the nation in immediate civil  war." [Debates in Parliament, 1775].  It was replied that the colonies were already  in a state of rebellion, that the supremacy of Parliament must not even be questioned,  and that compulsory measures must be pursued from absolute necessity.  Neither reason nor argument, humanity nor policy, made the smallest impression on  those determined to support all despotic proceedings. Thus after much  altercation, a majority of 282 appeared in favor of augmenting the forces in America,  both by sea and land, against only 70 in the House of Commons, who opposed  the measure.

All ideas of courage or ability in the colonists to face the dragoons and resist the power  of Britain were treaded with the greatest derision, and particularly ridiculed  by a general officer [General Burgoyne, afterwards captured at Saratoga], then in the  House, who soon after delivered his standards and saw the surrender of a  capital army under his command to those undisciplined Americans he had affected to  hold in so much contempt. The First Lord of the Admiralty also declared, "the  Americans were neither disciplined nor capable of discipline."

Several ships of the line and a number of frigates were immediately ordered to join the  squadron at Boston. 10,000 men were ordered for the land service, in  addition to those already there. A regiment of light horse and a body of troops from  Ireland, to complete the number, were directed to embark with all possible  dispatch to reinforce General Gage.

The speech from the throne, approving the sanguinary conduct of the minister and the  Parliament, blasted all the hopes of the more moderate and humane part of the  nation. Several gallant officers of the first rank, disgusted with the policy, and revolting  at the idea of butchering their American brethren, resigned their commissions.  The Earl of Effingham was among the first who, with a frankness that his enemies styled  a degree of insanity, assured his Majesty "that though he loved the profession  of a solider and would with the utmost cheerfulness sacrifice his fortune and his life for  the safety of his majesty's person, and the dignity of his crown, yet the same  principles which inspired him with those unalterable sentiments of duty and affection  would not suffer him to be instrumental in depriving any part of the people of  their liberties, which to him appeared the best security of their fidelity and obedience;  therefore without the severest reproaches of conscience he could not consent  to bear arms against the Americans."

But there is no age which bears a testimony so honorable to human nature; as shows  mankind at so sublime a pitch of virtue that there are not always enough to be  found ready to aid the arm of the oppressor, provided they may share in the spoils of the  oppressed.  Thus, many officers of ability and experience courted the  American service as the readiest road to preferment.

Administration not satisfied with their own severe restrictions, set on foot a treaty with  the Dutch and several other nations to prevent their aiding the colonies by  supplying them with any kind of warlike stores. Every thing within ad without wore the  most hostile appearance, even while the commercial interest of Great Britain  was closely interwoven with that of America; and the treasures of the colonies, which  had been continually pouring into the lap of the mother country in exchange for  her manufactures, were still held ready for her use in any advance to harmony.

The boundaries of the King of England's continental domains were almost  immeasurable, and the inhabitants were governed by a strong predilection in favor of the  nation from whom they derived their origin: hence it is difficult to account on any  principles of human policy for the infatuation that instigated tot he absurd project of  conquering a country already theirs on the most advantageous terms.  But the seeds of  separation were sown, and the ball of empire rolled westward with such  astonishing rapidity that the pious mind is naturally excited to acknowledge a  superintending Providence, that led to the period of independence, even before America  was conscious of her maturity. Precipitated into a war dreadful even in contemplation,  humanity recoiled at the idea of civil feuds and their concomitant evils.

When the news arrived in the colonies that the British army in Boston was to be  reinforced, that the coercive system was at all hazards to be prosecuted, though  astonished at the persevering severity of a nation still beloved and revered by  Americans, deeply affected with the calamities that threatened the whole empire, and  shocked at the prospect of the convulsion and cruelties even attendant on civil war, yet  few balanced on the part they were to act.  The alternative held up was a  bold and vigorous resistance, or an abject submission to the ignoble terms demanded by  administration Armed with resolution and magnanimity, united by affection,  and a remarkable conformity to opinion, the whole people through the wide extended  continent seemed determined to resist in blood, rather than become the slaves  of arbitrary power.

Happily for America, the inhabitants, in general,  possessed not only the virtues of  native courage and a spirit of enterprise, but minds generally devoted to the best  affections. Many of them retained this character to the end of the conflict by the  dereliction of interest and the costly sacrifices of health, fortune, and life. Perhaps the  truth of the observation that "a national force is best formed where numbers of men are  used to equality, and where the meanest citizen may consider himself destined  to command as well as to obey," was never more conspicuous than in the brave  resistance of Americans to the potent and conquering arm of Great Britain, who, in  conjunction with her colonies had long taught the nations to tremble at her strength.

But the painful period hastened on when the connection which nature and interest had  long maintained between Great Britain and the colonies, must be broken off,  the sword draw, and the scabbard thrown down the gulf of time. We must now pursue  the progress of a war enkindled by avarice, whetted by ambition, and blown  up into a thirst for revenge by repeated disappointment. Not the splendor of a diadem,  the purple of princes, or the pride of power can ever sanction the deeds of  cruelty perpetrated on the western side of the Atlantic, and not infrequently by men,  whose crimes emblazoned by title will enhance the infamy of their injustice and  barbarism when the tragic  tale is faithfully related.

We have already observed on the supplicatory address every where offered to the old  government, the rebuffs attending them, the obstruction to legal debate, and  the best possible regulations made by the colonies in their circumstance, under the new  modes established by themselves.

The authority of congresses and committees of correspondence, and the spirit which  pervaded the united colonies in their preparations for war, during the last six  months previous to the commencement of hostilities, bore such a resemblance that the  detail of the transactions of one province is an epitome of the story of all.

The particular resentment of Great Britain leveled at the Massachusetts made it  necessary for that province to act a more decided part, that they might be in some  readiness to repel the storm which it appeared probable would first burst upon them.  Their Provincial Congress was sitting when the news first arrived that all hope  of reconciliation was precluded by the hostile resolutions of Parliament. This rather  quickened than retarded the important step which was then the subject of their  deliberations. Persuaded that the unhappy contest could not terminate without  bloodshed, they were consulting on the expediency of raising an army of observation  from the four New England governments, that they might be prepared for defense in  case of an attack before the Continental Congress could again meet and make  proper arrangements for farther operations.  They proceeded to name their own  commanding officers, and appointed delegates to confer with New Hampshire,  Connecticut, and Rhode Island, on the proportion of men they would furnish and their  quota of expense for the equipment of such an armament.

Connecticut and New Hampshire readily acceded to the proposal, but in Rhode Island   several embarrassments were thrown in the way, though the people in that  colony were in general as ready to enter warmly into measure for the common safety as  any of the others; nor had they less reason. They had long been exasperated  by the insolence and rapacity of the officers of a part of the navy stationed there to  watch their trade. These had, without color of right, frequently robbed Newport  and plundered the adjacent islands. They had seized the little skiffs in which a number  of poor people had gained a scanty subsistence; and insulted, embarrassed,  and abused the inhabitants in various ways through the preceding year.

It is the nature of man, when he despairs of legal reparation for injuries received, to seek  satisfaction by avenging his own wrongs. Thus, some time before this period  [see Note 11 at the end of this chapter, Governor Hutchinson's representation of this  affair.] a number of men in disguise had riotously assembled, and set fire to a  sloop of war in the harbor.  When they had thus discovered their resentment by this  illegal proceeding, they this illegal proceeding, they dispersed without farther  violence. For this imputed crime, the whole colony had been deemed guilty, and  interdicted as accessory. A court of inquiry was appointment by his Majesty, vested  with the power of seizing any person on suspicion, confining him on board a King's  ship, and sending him to England for trial. But some of the gentlemen named for  this inquisitorial business had not the temerity to execute it in the latitude designed; and  after sitting a few days, examining a few persons, and threatening many, they  adjourned to a distant day.

The extraordinary precedent of erecting such a court [The gentlemen who composed this  court, were Wanton, governor of Rhode Island, Horsemanden, chief  justice of New York, Smith, chief justice of New Jersey, Oliver, chief justice of  Massachusetts, and Auchmuty, judge of admiralty.] among them was not forgotten;  but there was a considerable party in Newport strongly attached to the royal cause.  These, headed by their governor, Mr. Wanton, a man of weak capacity and little  political knowledge, endeavored to impede all measures of opposition and to prevent  even a discussion on the propriety of raising a defensive army.

The news of an action at Lexington on April 19, between a party of the King's troops and  some Americans hastily collected, reached Providence on the same  evening, a few hours after the gentlemen entrusted with the mission for conference with  the colony had arrived there; they had not entered on business, having been in  town but an hour or two before this intelligence was received by a special messenger.

On this important information, James Warren, Esq. the head of the delegation, was of  opinion that this event not only opened new prospects and expectations, but  that it entirely changed the object of negotiation, and that new ground must be taken.  Their mission was by the Massachusetts designed merely as a defensive  movement, but he observed to the principal inhabitants collected to consult on the  alarming aspect of present affairs, that there now appeared a necessity not only for  defensive, but for offensive operations; he urged his reasons with such ability and  address that an immediate convention of the Assembly was obtained. They met at  Providence the ensuring day, where by the trifling of the Governor and the indiscretion  of his partisans, the business labored in the upper house for several days.  But  the representative branch, impatient of delay, determined to act without any  consideration of their Governor, if he continued thus to impede their designs, and to  unite, by authority of their own body, in vigorous measures with their sister colonies. A  majority of the council, however, at last impelled the Governor to agree to the  determinations of the lower house, who had voted a number of men to be raised wit the  utmost dispatch; accordingly, a large detachment was sent forward to the  Massachusetts within three days.

When the gentlemen left congress for the purpose of combining and organizing an army  in the eastern states, a short adjournment was made. before they separated,  they selected a standing committee to reside at Concord, where a provincial magazine  was kept, and vested them with power to summon congress to meet again at a  moment's warning, if any extraordinary emergency should arise.

In the course of the preceding winter, a single regiment at a time had frequently made  excursions from the army at Boston, and reconnoitered the environs of the  town without committing any hostilities in the country, except picking up cannon,  powder, and warlike stores, wherever they could find and seize them with impunity.  In the spring, as they daily expected fresh auxiliaries, they grew more insolent; from  their deportment there was the highest reason to expect they would extend their  researches and endeavor to seize and secure, as they termed them, the factious leaders of  rebellion.  Yet this was attempted rather sooner than was generally  expected.

On the evening of April 18, the grenadiers and light infantry of the army stationed at  Boston embarked under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Smith and were  ordered to land at Cambridge before the dawn of the ensuing day. This order was  executed with such secrecy and dispatch that the troops reached Lexington, a  small village nine miles beyond Cambridge, and began the tragedy of the day just as the  sun rose.

An advanced guard of officers had been sent out by land to seize and secure all travelers  who might be suspected as going forward with intelligence of the hostile  aspect of the King's troops. But notwithstanding this vigilance to prevent notice, a report  reached the neighboring towns very early that a large body of troops,  accompanied by some of the most virulent individuals among the Tories, who had taken  refuge in Boston, were moving with design to destroy the provincial  magazine at Concord, and take into custody the principal persons belonging to the  committee of safety.  Few suspected there was a real intention to attack the  defenseless peasants of Lexington, or to try the bravery of the surrounding villages.  But  it being reduced to a certainty that a number of persons had the evening  before in the environs of Cambridge been insulted, abused, and stripped by officers in  British uniform, and that a considerable armament might be immediately  expected in the vicinity, Captain Parker, who commanded a company of militia, ordered  them to appear at beat of drum on the parade at Lexington on the 19th.  They accordingly obeyed and were embodied before sunrise.

Colonel Smith, who commanded about 800 men, came suddenly upon them within a  few minutes after and, accosting them in language very unbecoming an officer of  his rank, he ordered them to lay down their arms and disperse immediately. He  illiberally branded them with the epithets of rebel and traitor; and before the little  party had time either to resist or to obey, he, with wanton precipitation, ordered his  troops to fire.  Eight men were killed on the spot; and, without any concern for  his rashness, or little molestation from the inhabitants, Smith proceeded on his rout.

By the time he reached Concord, and had destroyed a part of the stores deposited there,  the country contiguous appeared in arms, as if determined not to be the  tame spectators of the outrages committed against the persons, property, and lives of  their fellow citizens.  Two or three hundred men assembled under the  command of Colonel Barrett.  He ordered them to begin no onset against the troops of  their sovereign, until farther provocation; this order was punctually obeyed.  Colonel Smith had ordered a bridge beyond the town to be taken up, to prevent the  people on the other side from coming to their assistance. Barrett advanced to  take possession before the party reached it, and a smart skirmish ensued; several were  killed and a number wounded on both sides. Not dismayed or daunted this  small body of yeomanry, armed in the cause of justice, and struggling for everything  they held dear, maintained their stand until the British troops, though far superior  in numbers and in all the advantages of military skill, discipline, and equipment, gave  ground and retreated, without half executing the purpose designed by this forced  march to Concord.

The adjacent villagers collected and prepared to cut off their retreat; but a dispatch had  been sent by Colonel Smith to inform General Gage that the country was  arming and his troops in danger.  A battalion under the command of Lord Percy was  sent to succor him, and arrived in time to save Smith's corps. A son of the  Duke of Northumberland, [The Duke of Northumberland, father of Earl Percy, had been  uniformly opposed to the late measures of administration in their American  system.] previous to this day's work, was viewed by Americans with a favorable eye;  though more from a partiality to the father, than from any remarkable personal  qualities discoverable in the son. Lord Percy came up with the routed corps near the  fields of Menotomy, where barbarities were committed by the King's army,  which might have been expected only from a tribe of savages.  They entered, rifled,  plundered, and burnt several houses; and in some instances the aged and infirm  fell under the sword of the ruffian; women, with their new-born infants, were obliged to  fly naked, to escape the fury of the flames in which their houses were  enwrapped.

The footsteps of the most remorseless nations have seldom been marked with more  rancorous and ferocious rage than may be traced in the transactions of this day,  a day never to be forgotten by Americans.  A scene like this had never before been  exhibited on her peaceful plains and the manner in which it was executed will  leave an indelible stain on a nation long famed for their courage, humanity and honor.   But they appeared at this period so lost to a sense of dignity as to be engaged  in a cause that required perfidy and meanness to support it.  Yet the impression of  justice is so strongly stamped on the bosom of man that when conscious the  sword is lifted against the rights of equity it often disarms the firmest heart, and unnerve  the most valiant arm, when impelled to little subterfuges and private cruelties  to execute their guilty designs.

The affair of Lexington and the precipitant retreat after the ravages at Menotomy are  testimonies of the truth of this observation.  For, notwithstanding their  superiority in every respect, several regiments of the best troops in the royal army were  seen to the surprise and joy of every lover of his country, flying before    raw  inexperienced peasantry, who had run hastily together in defense of their lives and  liberties. Had the militia of Salem and Marblehead have come on, as it was thought  they might have done, they would undoubtedly have prevented this routed, disappointed  army, from reaching the advantageous post of Charlestown. But the  tardiness of Colonel Pickering, who commanded the Salem regiment, gave them an  opportunity to make good their retreat.  Whether Mr. Pickering's [Timothy  Pickering, afterwards Secretary of State under the presidency of Mr. Adams, by whom  he was dismissed from public business.] delay was owing to timidity or to a  predilection in favor of Britain remains uncertain; however it was, censure at the time  fell very heavily on his character.

Other parts of the country were in motion; but the retreat of the British army was so  rapid that they got under cover of their own ships, and many of them made their  escape into Boston. Others, too much exhausted by a quick march and unremitting  exercise, without time for refreshment from sunrise to sunset, were unable, both  from wounds and fatigue to cross the river.  These were obliged to rest the night, nor  were they mistaken in the confidence they placed in the hospitality of the  inhabitants of Charlestown; this they reasonably enough expected, both from motives of  compassion and fear.

Intimidated by the appearance of such a formidable body of troops within their town and  touched with humanity on seeing the famished condition of the King's  officers and soldiers, several of whom, from their wounds and their sufferings, expired  before the next morning.  The people everywhere opened their doors,  received the distressed Britons, dressed their wounds, and contributed every relief:  nothing was neglected that could assist, refresh, or comfort the defeated.

The victorious party, sensible they could gain little advantage by a farther pursuit, as the  British  were within reach of their own ships and at the same time under the  protection of the town of Charlestown; they therefore retreated a few miles to take care of  their own wounded men, and to refresh themselves.

 The action at Lexington, detached from its consequences, was but a trivial maneuver  when compared with the records of war and slaughter, that have disgraced the  pages of history through all generation of men.  But a circumstantial detail of lesser  events, when antecedent to the convulsions of empire, and national revolution, are  not only excusable, but necessary.  The provincials lost in this memorable action,  including those who fell, who were not in arms, upwards of fourscore persons.  It  was not easy to ascertain how many of their opponents were lost, as they endeavored by  all possible means to conceal the number, and the disgrace of the day.  By  the best information, it was judged, including those who died soon after of wounds and  fatigue, that their loss was very much greater than that of the Americans. Thus  resentment stimulated by recent provocation, the colonies, under all the disadvantages of  an infant country, without discipline, without allies, and without resources,  except what they derived from their own valor and virtue, were compelled to resort to  the last appeal, the precarious decision of the sword, against the mighty power  of Britain.

The four New England governments now thought proper to make this last appeal, and  resolved to stand or fall together.  It was a bold and adventurous enterprise;  but conscious of the equal privileges bestowed by Heaven, on all its intelligent creatures  on this habitable ball, they did not hesitate on the part they had to act to  retain them.  They cheerfully engaged, sure of the support of the other colonies, as soon  as Congress should have time to meet, deliberate, and resolve. They were  very sensible the middle and southern colonies were generally preparing themselves,  

with equal industry and ability, for a decision by arms, whenever hostilities  should seriously commence in any part of the continent.

As soon as intelligence was spread that the first blow was struck, and that the shrill  clarion of war actually resounded in the capital of the eastern states, the whole  country rose in arms. Thousands collected within 24 hours in the vicinity of Boston; and  the colonies of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire seemed all  to be in motion. Such was the resentment of the people and the ardor of enterprise that it  was with difficulty they were restrained from rushing into Boston, and rashly  involving their friends in common with their enemies, in all the calamities of a town  taken by storm.

The day after the Battle of Lexington, the Congress of Massachusetts met at Watertown.   They immediately determined on the number of men necessary to be kept  on the ground, appointed and made establishments for the officers of each regiment,  agreed on regulations for all military movements, and struck off a currency of  paper for the payment of the soldiers, making the bills a tender for the payment of debts,  to prevent depreciation.  They drew up a set of judicious rules and orders  for the army to be observed by both officers and soldiers, until they should be embodied  on a larger scale, under the general direction of the Continental Congress.

In the mean time, the consternation of General Gage was equaled by nothing but the  rage of his troops and the dismay of the refugees under his protection.  He had  known little of the country, and less of the disposition and bravery of its inhabitants.  He  had formed his opinions entirely on the misrepresentations of men who  judging from their own feelings more than from the general conduct of mankind had  themselves no idea that the valor of their countrymen could be roused to hazard  life and property for the sake of the common weal.  Struck with astonishment at the  intrepidity of a people he had been led to despise, and stung with vexation at the  defeat of some of his best troops, he ordered the gates of the town to be shut and every  avenue guarded, to prevent the inhabitants, whom he now considered his  best security, from making their escape into the country. He had before caused  entrenchments to be thrown up across a narrow isthmus, then the only entrance by  land: still apprehensive of an attempt to storm the town, he now ordered the environs  fortified; and soon made a entrance impracticable, but at too great an expense  of blood.

The Bostonians thus unexpectedly made prisoners, and all intercourse with the country,  from whence they usually received their daily supplies, cut off, famine stared  them in the face on one side, and on the other they beheld the lawless rapine of an  enraged enemy, with the sword of vengeance stretched over their heads. Yet, with  a firmness worthy of more generous treatment, the principal citizens assembled, and  after consultation, determined on a bold and free remonstrance to their military  governor. They reminded him of his repeated assurances of personal liberty, safety, and  protection, if they would not evacuate the town, as they had long been  solicited to do by their friends in the country. Had this been seasonably done, the  Americans would have reduced the garrison by Withholding provisions. The  inhabitants of the town now earnestly requested that the gates might be opened that none  who chose to retired with their wives, families, and property might be  impeded.

Whether moved by feelings of compassion, of which he did not seem to be wholly  destitute, or whether it was a premeditated deception, yet remains uncertain;  however, General Gage plighted his faith in the strongest terms, that if the inhabitants  would deliver up their arms and suffer them to be deposited in the City Hall,  they should depart at pleasure, and be assisted by the King's troops in removing their  property.  His shameful violation of faith in this instance will leave a stain on the  memory of the Governor, so long as the obligations of truth are held sacred among  mankind.

The insulted people of Boston, after performing the hard conditions of the contract, were  not permitted to depart until after several months of anxiety had elapsed,  when the scarcity and badness of provisions had brought on a pestilential disorder, both  among the inhabitants and the soldiers.  Thus, from a reluctance to dip their  hands in human blood and from the dread of insult to which their feebler connections  were exposed, this unfortunate town, which contained nearly 20,000  inhabitants, was betrayed into a disgraceful resignation of their arms, which the natural  love of liberty should have inspired them to have held for their own defense,  while subjected to the caprice of an arbitrary master.  After their arms were delivered up  and secured, General Gage denied the contract and forbade their retreat;   though afterwards obliged to a partial compliance by the difficulty of obtaining food for  the subsistence of his own army.  On certain stipulated gratuities to some of  his officers, a permit was granted them to leave their elegant houses, their furniture and  goods, and to depart naked from the capital, to seek an asylum and support  from the hospitality of their friends in the country.

The islands within the harbor of Boston were so plentifully stocked with sheep, cattle,  and poultry that they would have afforded an ample supply to the British army  for a long time had they been suffered quietly to possess them. General Putnam, an  officer of courage and experience, defeated this expectation by taking off  everything from one of the principal islands, under the fire of the British ships.  At the  same time, he was so fortunate as to burn several of their tenders, without  losing a man. [General Putnam was an old American officer of distinguished bravery,  plain manners, and sober habits; nourished in agricultural life, and those simple  principles that excite the virtuous to duty in every department.] His example was  followed; and from Chelsea to Point Alderton, the island were stripped of wheat  and other grain, of cattle and forage; and whatever they could not carry off, the  Americans destroyed by fire. They burnt the lighthouse at the entrance of the harbor  and the buildings on all the islands, to prevent the British availing themselves of such  convenient appendages for encampments so near the town.

While these transactions were passing in the eastern provinces, the other colonies were  equally animated by the spirit of resistance and equally busy in preparation.  Their public bodies were undismayed; their temper, their conduct, and their operations,  both in the civil and military line, were a fair uniform transcript of the conduct  of the Massachusetts; and some of them equally experienced thus early the rigorous  proceedings of their unrelenting governors.

New York was alarmed soon after the commencement of hostilities near Boston by a  rumor that a part of the armament expected from Great Britain was to be  stationed there to awe the country and for the protection of numerous loyalists in the  city. In some instances, the province of New York had not yet fully acceded to  the doings of the General Congress; but they now applied to them for advice and  showed themselves equally ready to renounce their allegiance to the King of Great  Britain, and to unite in the common cause in all respects, as any of the other colonies.   Agreeable to the recommendation of Congress, they sent off their women,  children, and effects, and ordered a number of men to be embodied and hold themselves  in readiness for immediate service.

Tryon was the last governor who presided at New York under the Crown of England.  This gentleman had formerly been governor of North Carolina, where his  severities had rendered him very obnoxious.  It is true, this disposition was principally  exercised toward a set of disorderly, ignorant people, who had felt themselves  oppressed, had embodied, and styling themselves regulators, opposed the authority of  the laws.  After they had been subdued and several of the ringleaders  executed, Governor Tryon returned to England, but was again sent out as Governor of  the province of New York. He was received wit cordiality, treated with  respect, and was for a time much esteemed by many of the inhabitants of the city and the  neighboring country.  Very soon after the contest became warm between  Great Britain and the inhabitants of America, he, like all the other governors in the  American colonies, tenacious of supporting the prerogatives of the crown, laid  aside the spirit of enmity he had previously affected to feel.

Governor Tryon entered with great zeal into all the measures of administration; and  endeavored with art, influence, and intrigue, of which he was perfectly master, to  induce the city of New York and the inhabitants under his government to submit quietly  and to decline a union of opinion and action wits the other colonies, in their  opposition to the new regulations of the British Parliament.  But he soon found he could  not avail himself sufficiently of the interest he possessed among some of the  first characters in the city, to carry the point, and subdue the spirit of liberty, which was  every day appreciating in that colony.

On the determination of the Provincial Congress to arrest the crown officers, and disarm  the persons of those who were denominated Tories, Governor Tryon began  to be apprehensive for his own safety. The Congress of New York had resolved, "that it  be recommended to the several provincial assemblies or conventions and  councils or committees of safety to arrest and secure every person in their respective  colonies whose going at large may, in their opinion, endanger the safety of the  colony or the liberties of America."

Though Governor Tryon was not particularly named, he apprehended himself a principal  person pointed at in this resolve. This awakened his fears to such a degree  that he left the seat of government and went on board the Halifax packet; from whence  he wrote the mayor of the city that he was there ready to execute any such  business as the circumstances of the times would permit. But the indifference as to the  residence or even the conduct of a plantation  governor was now become so  general among the inhabitants of America that he soon found his command in New York  was at an end. After this, he put himself at the head of a body of loyalists  and annoyed the inhabitants of New York and New Jersey and wherever else he could  penetrate with the assistance of some British troops that occasionally joined  them.

The governors of the several colonies, as if hurried by a consciousness of their own  guilt, flying like fugitives to screen themselves from the resentment of the people,  on board the King's ships, appear as if they had been composed of similar characters to  those described by a writer of the history of such as were appointed to  office in the more early settlement of the American colonies. He said, "It unfortunately  happened for our American provinces that a government in any of our colonies  in those parts was scarcely looked upon in any other light than that of a hospital, where  the favorites of the ministry might lie until they had recovered their broken  fortunes, and oftentimes they served as an asylum from their creditors." [Modern  Universal History, volume 39, p. 357.]

The neighboring government of New Jersey was for some time equally embarrassed  with that of New York. They felt the effects of the impressions made by  Governor Franklin, in favor of the measures of administration; but not so generally as to  preclude many of the inhabitants from uniting with the other colonies, in  vigorous steps to preserve their civil freedom. Governor Franklin had, among many  other expressions which discovered his opinions, observed in a letter to Mr.  Secretary Conway, "It gives me great pleasure that I have been able through all the late  disturbances to preserve the tranquility of this province, notwithstanding the  endeavors of some to stimulate the populace to such acts as have disgraced the  colonies." He kept up this tone of reproach, until he also was deprived by the people  of his command; and New Jersey, by the authority of committees, seized all the money  in the public treasury, and appropriated it to the pay of the troops raising for  the common defense. They took every other prudent measure in their power, to place  themselves in readiness for the critical moment.

Pennsylvania, though immediately under the eye of Congress, has some peculiar  difficulties to struggle with, from a proprietary government, from the partisans of the  Crown, and the great body of the Quakers, most of them opposed to the American cause.  But the people in general were guarded and vigilant and far from  neglecting the most necessary steps for general defense.

In Virginia, Maryland, and the Carolinas, where they had the greatest number of African  slaves, their embarrassments were accumulated, and the dangers which  hung over them, peculiarly aggravated. From their long habit of filling their country  with foreign saves, they were threatened with a host of domestic enemies, from  which the other colonies had nothing to fear.  The Virginians had been disposed in  general to treat their governor, Lord Dunmore, and his family, with every mark of  respect; and had not his intemperate zeal in the service of his master given universal  disgust, he might have remained longer among them, and finally have left them in  a much less disgraceful manner.

However qualified this gentleman might have been to preside in any of the colonies in  more pacific seasons, he was little calculated for the times when ability and  moderation, energy and condescension, coolness in decision, and delicacy in execution  were highly requisite to govern a people struggling with the poniard at their  throat and the sword in their hand, against the potent invaders of their privileges and  claims.

He had the inhumanity early to intimate his designs if opposition ran high to declare  freedom to the blacks, and, on any appearance of hostile resistance to the King's  authority to arm them against their masters.  Neither the House of Burgesses nor the  people at large were disposed to recede from their determinations in  consequence of this threats nor to submit to any authority that demanded implicit  obedience on pain of devastation and ruin. Irritated by opposition too rash for  consideration, too haughty for condescension, and fond of distinguishing himself in  support of the parliamentary system, Lord Dunmore dismantled the fort in  Williamsburg, plundered the magazines, threatened to lay the city in ashes and  depopulate the country: As far as he was able, he executed his nefarious purposes.

When his lordship found the resolution of the House of Burgesses, the committees and  conventions was no where to be shaken, he immediately proclaimed the  emancipation of the blacks and put arms into their hands. He excited disturbances in the  back settlements and encouraged the natives bordering on the southern  colonies to rush from the wilderness and make inroads on the frontiers. For this  business, he employed as his agent one Connolly, a Scotch renegado, who traveled  from Virginia to the Ohio and from the Ohio to General Gage at Boston, with an  account of his success and a detail of his negotiations. From General Gage, he  received a colonel's commission and was by him ordered to return to the savages and  encourage them with the aid of some British settlers on the River Ohio to  penetrate the back country and distress the borders of Virginia. But fortunately,  Connolly was arrested in his career, and with his accomplices taken and imprisoned  on his advance through Maryland. He papers were seized, and a full disclosure of the  cruel designs of his employers sent forward to Congress.

By the indiscreet conduct of Lord Dunmore, the ferments in Virginia daily increased.   All respect toward the Governor was lost, and his lady, terrified by continual  tumult, left the palace and took sanctuary on board one of the King's ships. After much  alteration and dispute, with everything irritating on the one side and no marks  of submission on the other, his lordship left his seat, and with his family and a few  loyalists retired on board the Fowey man of war, where his lady in great anxiety  had resided many days. [Lady Dunmore soon after took passage for England.] There he  found some of the most criminal of his partisans had resorted before he  quitted the government. With these and some banditti that had taken shelter in a  considerable number of vessels under his lordship's command and the assistance of a  few runaway negroes, he carried on a kind of predatory war on the colony for several  months. The burning of Norfolk, the beset won in the territory of Virginia,  completed his disgraceful campaign. [see Note 12 at the end of this chapter]. It has been  asserted by some that the inhabitants themselves assisted in the  conflagration of Norfolk to prevent Lord Dunmore's retaining it as a place of arms.

The administration of Lord William Campbell and Mr. Martin, the governors of the two  Carolinas, had no distinguished trait from that of most of the other colonial  governors. They held up the supreme authority of Parliament in the same high style of  dignity and announced the resentment of affronted majesty and the severe  punishment that would be inflicted on congresses conventions and committees, and the  miserable situation to which the people of America would be reduced if they  continued to adhere to the factious demagogues of party. With the same spirit and cruel  policy that instigated Lord Dunmore, they carried out their negotiations with  the Indians, and encouraged the insurrections of the negroes, until all harmony and  confidence were totally destroyed between themselves and the people who  supported their own measures for defense in the highest tone of freedom and  independence. Both the Governors of North and South Carolina soon began to be  apprehensive of the effects of public resentment, and, about this time, thought it  necessary for their own safety to repair on board the King's ships, though their  language and manners had not been equally rash and abusive with that of the Governor  of Virginia.

Henry Laurens, Esq. was President of the Provincial Congress of South Carolina at this  period, whose uniform virtue and independence of spirit we shall see  conspicuously displayed hereafter on many other trying occasions. It was not long  after the present period when he wrote to a friend and observed that "he meant  to finish his peregrinations in this world by a journey through the United States; then  retire and learn to die." But he had this important lesson to learn in the ordeal of  affliction and disappointment that he severely experienced in his public life and  domestic sorrows which he bore with that firmness and equanimity which ever  dignifies great and good characters.

Sir Robert Eden, Governor of Maryland, a man of social manners, jovial temper, and  humane disposition, had been more disposed to lenity and forbearance than  any of the great officers in the American department. But so high wrought was the  opposition to British authority and the jealousies entertained of all magistrates  appointed by the crown, that it was not long after the departure of the neighboring  governors, before he was ordered by Congress to quit his government and repair  to England. He was obliged to comply, though with much reluctance. He had been  in danger of very rough usage before his departure from General Lee, who had  intercepted a confidential letter from Lord George Germaine to Governor Eden. Lee  threatened to seize and confine him, but by the interference of the  Committee of Safety and some military officers at Annapolis, the order was not  executed. They thought it wrong to consider him as responsible for the sentiments  contained in the letters of his correspondents; and only desired Mr. Eden to give his  word of honor that he would not leave the province before the meeting of a  General Congress of that state; not did they suffer him to be farther molested. He was  permitted quietly to take leave of his friends and his province, after he had  received the order o the Continental Congress for his departure; and in hopes of  returning in more tranquil times, he left his property behind him, and sailed for  England in the summer of 1776. [See the conduct relative to Sire Robert Eden and the  transactions between the southern governors and the people, this year, at  large in the British Remembrancer, which is here anticipated to prevent interrupting the  narration by any further detail of General Lee's transactions in Maryland  relative to Governor Eden.]

The influence of Sir James Wright, the Governor of Georgia, prevented that state from  acceding to the measure of a general congress in 1774. Yet the people at large  were equally disaffected, and soon after, in an address to his Excellency, acknowledged  themselves the only link in the great American chain that had not publicly  united with the other colonies in their opposition to the claims of Parliament. They called  a Provincial Congress, who resolved in the name of their constituents that  they would receive no merchandise whatever from Great Britain or Ireland after July 7,  1775; that they fully approved and adopted the American declaration and bill  of rights, published by the late Continental Congress; that they should now join with the  other colonies, choose delegates to meet in General Congress; that they  meant invariably to adhere to the public cause; and that they would no longer lie under  the suspicion of being unconcerned for the rights and freedom of America.

Indeed the torch of war seemed already to have reached the most distant corner of the  continent. The flame had spread and penetrated to the last province in  America held by Great Britain, and a way opened to the gates of Quebec, before  administration had dreamed of the smallest danger in that quarter.  Soon after the  action at Lexington, a number of enterprising young men, principally from Connecticut,  proposed to each other a sudden march towards the lakes, and a bold  attempt to surprise Ticonderoga, garrisoned by the King's troops. These young  adventurers applied to Governor Trumbull and obtained leave of the Assembly of  Connecticut to pursue their project; and so secretly, judiciously, and rapidly was the  expedition conducted that they entered the garrison and saluted the principal  officer as their prisoner before he had any reason to apprehend an enemy was near. [ On  the surprise of Ticonderoga, the commanding officer there inquired by whose  authority this was done? Colonel Allen replied, "I demand your surrender in the name of  the great Jehovah and the Continental Congress."] This enterprise was  conducted by the Colonels Easton, Arnold, and Allen.  The invaders possessed  themselves of a considerable number of brass and iron cannon and many warlike  stores, without suffering any loss of life.

It had been proved beyond a doubt that the British government had spared no pains to  encourage the inroads of the savages; of consequence, this coup de main was  deemed a very meritorious and important step. Ticonderoga commanded all the passes  between Canada and the other provinces.  The possession of this important  fortress on the Lake Champlain, in a great measure secured the frontiers from the  incursions of the savages, who had been excited by the cruel polity of Britain to war,  which, by these ferocious nations, is ever carried on by modes at which humanity  shudders and civilization blushes to avow. [A few months after the expedition,  Colonel Allen experienced a reverse of fortune, by falling to the hands of the British near  Montreal, was loaded with irons, and immediately sent to England.]

Thus was the sword brandished through the land, and hung suspended from cruel  execution of all the evils attendant on a state of civil convulsion, only by the faint  hope that the Sovereign of Britain might yet be softened to hold out the olive branch in  one hand and a redress of grievances in the other.  But every pacific hope was  reversed, and all prospect of the restoration of harmony annihilated early in the summer,  by the arrival of a large reinforcement at Boston, commanded by three  general officers of high consideration.

All former delusive expectations now extinguished, both the statesman and the peasant,  actuated by the feelings of the man and the patriot, discovered a most  unconquerable magnanimity of spirit. Undismayed by the necessity of an appeal to the  sword, though unprovided with the sufficient resources for so arduous a  conflict, they animated each other to sustain it, if necessary, until they should leave their  foes only a depopulated soil, if victory should declare in their favor. Nature  revolts at the idea, when the poniard is pushed by despair; yet preferring death to  thraldom, the Americans were everywhere decisive in council and determined in  action.  There appeared that kind of enthusiasm which sets danger at defiance and  impels the manly arm to resist, until the warm current that plays round the heart, is  poured out as a libation at the shrine of freedom.

On the other hand, the fears of the dependents on the Crown were dissipated by the  augmentation of the British army, their hopes invigorated and every artifice used  to spread terror and dismay among the people. The turpitude of rebellion and the dread  consequences of defeat were painted in the most gloomy colors; the merits  and the abilities of the principal officers extolled, their distinguished names and  characters enhanced, and every thing circulated that might tend to weaken the  resolution of the people.

It was said, General Burgoyne commanded a squadron of light horse which was to  scour the country, and pick up the leading insurgents in every quarter. The  capacity, bravery, and virtues of General Clinton were everywhere announced by the  votaries of administration; and the name of Howe was at that time at once  revered, beloved and dreaded in America. A monumental tribute of applause had been  reared in honor of one brother, who had fallen in that country in the late war  between Great Britain and France; and the gratitude of the people had excited a  predilection in favor of the other, and indeed of every branch of that family.  But this  partiality was soon succeeded by a universal disgust towards the two surviving brothers,  Lord and General Howe, who undertook the conquest of America; a  project held reproachful, and which would have reflected dishonor on the perpetrators,  even had it been crowned with success.

In the beginning of June, 1775, General Gage thought proper to act a more decided part  than he had hitherto done.  He published a proclamation, denouncing  martial law in all its rigors against any one who should supply, conceal, or correspond  with any of those he was pleased to stigmatize by the epithets of traitors,  rebels, or insurgents. But as an act of grace, he offered pardon in the King's name to all  who should lay down their arms and submit to mercy, only excluding by  name, Samuel Adams and John Hancock; he alleged that their crimes were of too  flagitious a nature to hope for pardon.

This proscription discovered the little knowledge which General Gage then possessed of  the temper of the times, the disposition of the people at large, or the  character of individuals.  His discrimination, rather accidental than judicious, set these  two gentlemen in the most conspicuous point of view, and drew the particular  attention of the whole continent to their names, distinguished from many of their  compeers, more by this single circumstance than by superior ability or exertion. By  this they became at once the favorites of popularity and the objects of general applause,  which at that time would have been the fortune of anyone honored by such a  mark of disapprobation of the British commander in chief.

Mr. Adams was a gentleman of good education, a decent family, but no fortune. Early  nurture din the principles of civil and religious liberty, he possessed a quick  understanding, a cool head, stern manners, a smooth address, and a Roman-like  firmness, united with that sagacity and penetration that would have made a figure in  a conclave. He was at the same time liberal in opinion, and uniformly devout; social  with men of all denominations, grave in deportment; placid, yet severe; sober and  indefatiguable; calm in seasons of difficulty, tranquil and unruffled in the vortex of  political altercation; too firm to be intimidated, too haughty for condescension, his  mind was replete with resources that dissipated fear, and extricated in the greatest  emergencies. Thus qualified, he stood forth early, and continued firm, through the  great struggle, and may justly claim a large share of honor, due to that spirit of energy  which opposed the measures of administration and produced the independence  of America. Through a long life, he exhibited on all occasions an example of patriotism,  religion, and virtue honorary to the human character.

Mr. Hancock was a young gentleman of fortune, of more external accomplishments than  real abilities. He was polite in manners, easy in address, affable, civil, and  liberal. With these accomplishments, he was capricious, sanguine, and implacable:  naturally generous, he was profuse in expense; he scattered largesses without  discretion, and purchased favors by the waste of wealth, until he reached the ultimatum  of his wishes, which centered in the focus of popular applause. He enlisted  early in the cause of his country, at the instigation of some gentlemen of penetration,  who thought his ample fortune might give consideration, while his fickleness  could not injure, so long as he was under the influence of men of superior judgment.   They complimented him by nominations to committees of importance, until he  plunged too far to recede; and flattered by ideas of his own consequence, he had taken a  decided part before the Battle of Lexington, and was President of the  Provincial Congress when that even took place.

By the appearance of zeal, added to a certain alacrity of engaging in any public  department, Mr. Hancock was influential in keeping up the tide of opposition; and by  a concurrence of fortuitous circumstances, among which this proscription was the most  capital, he reached the summit of popularity which raised him afterwards to  the most elevated stations, and very fortunately he had the honor  of affixing his  signature as president to many of the subsequent proceedings of the Continental  Congress, which will ever hold an illustrious rank in the page of history.

Mr. Hancock had repaired to Philadelphia to take his seat in Congress immediately after  he made his escape from Lexington.  Part of the object of the excursion of  April 18 was the capture of him and Mr. Adams. They were both particularly inquired  for, and the house in which they lodged was surrounded by the King's troops  the moment after these gentlemen had retreated half-naked. Had they been found, they  would undoubtedly have been shut up in Boston, if nothing more fatal had  been inflicted, instead of being left a liberty to pursue a political career that will transmit  their names, with applause, to posterity.

The absence of the late worthy President of Congress, Mr. Randolph, and the arrival of  Mr. Hancock at Philadelphia at the fortunate moment when the enthusiasm  inspired by Gage's proclamation was at the height, both concurred to promote his  elevation.  He was chosen to preside in the respectable assembly of delegates,  avowedly on the sole principle of his having been proscribed by General Gage. It was  uncouthly said by a member of Congress that "they would show mother Britain  how little they cared for her by choosing a Massachusetts man for their president, who  had been recently excluded from pardon by public proclamation." The  choice was suddenly made and with rather too much levity for the times, or for the  dignity of the office. Mr. Hancock's modesty prompted him for a moment to  hesitate on the unexpected event, as if diffident of his own qualifications; when one of  the members, [A Mr. Harrison, from Virginia, the same who made the above  speech. These circumstances were verbally detailed to the author of these annals by a  respectable member of Congress then present.] of a more robust constitution,  and less delicacy of manners, took him in his arms, and placed him in the presidential  chair.

This sudden elevation might place the fortunate candidate in a similar situation with the  celebrated Pope Ganganelli, who observed of himself that after putting on the  triple crown, he often felt his own pulse to see if he was the same identical person he  was a few years before. Mr. Hancock continued in the presidential chair until  October, 1779, when he took a formal leave of Congress and never again rejoined that  respectable body. His time, however, was fully occupied in his own state in  the various employments to which was called by a majority of voices in the  Massachusetts, where his popular talents had a commanding influence during the  residue of his life. [See Note 13 at the end of this chapter] But in the progress of the  revolution, several men of less consequence than Mr. Hancock and with far  inferior claims to patriotism were raised to the same dignified station.

In the effervescence of popular commotions, it is not uncommon to see the favorites of  fortune elevated to the pinnacle of rank by trivial circumstances that appear  the result of accident.

Those who mark the changes and the progress of events through all revolutions will  frequently see distinctions bestowed where there are no commanding talents  and honors retained more from the strong influence of popular enthusiasm than from the  guidance of reason, which operates too little on the generality of mankind.

It may be observed that public commotions in human affairs, like the shocks of nature,  convulse the whole system and level the lofty mountains which have arisen for  ages above the clouds, beneath the valleys; while the hillock, unnoticed before, is raised  to a pitch of elevation that renders it a landmark for the eye of weary seamen  to rest upon.

All revolutions evince the truth of the observation of a writer that "Many men great in  title have the spirit of slaves, many low in fortune have great spirits, many a  Cicero has kept sheep, many a Caesar followed the plough, many a Virgil folded cattle."  [Sir Francis Osborne's Memoirs]

The sudden rotations in human affairs are wisely permitted by Providence to remind  mankind of their natural equality, to check the pride of wealth, to restrain the  insolence of rank and family distinctions which too frequently oppress the various  classes in  society.

The late proclamation of General Gage was considered as a prelude to immediate action,  and from all intelligence that could be obtained from the town, there  appeared the strongest reason to expect a second sally from the troops lying in Boston.  Uncertain on which side the storm would begin, the provincial thought it  necessary to guard against surprise by fortifying on both sides of the  town, in the best  manner they were able. They threw up some slight entrenchments at Roxbury,  and several other places on the south side of Boston; at the same time, on the night of  June 16, they began some works at the extreme part of a peninsula at the  north, running from Charlestown to the river, which separates that town from Boston.   They executed this business with such secrecy and dispatch that the officers of  a ship of war then in the river expressed their astonishment in the morning when they  saw some considerable works reared and fortified in the compass of a few  hours, where, from the contiguous situation, they least expected the Americans would  look them in the face. [These works were erected on Breed's Hill.  This was  the spot that cost the British army so dear through the glorious action of that day  generally styled the Battle of Bunker Hill.  After the Americans retreated, the British  left Breed's Hill, took their stand, and strongly fortified Bunker Hill, about a fourth of a  mile distant.  Thus has the name of the place of action been frequently  confounded.]

The alarm was immediately given, and orders issued, that a continual fire should be kept  playing on the unfinished works from the ships, the floating batteries in the  river, and a fortified hill on the other side; but with unparalleled perseverance, the  Americans continued to strengthen their entrenchments, without returning a shot  until near noon, when the British army, consisting of ten companies of grenadiers, four  battalions of infantry, and a heavy train of artillery, advanced under the command  of General Pigot and Major General Howe.  A severe engagement ensured: many men  and several brave officers of the royal army fell on the first fire of the  Americans.  This unexpected salute threw them into some confusion; but by the firmness  of General Howe, and the timely assistance of General Clinton, who, with a  fresh detachment arrived in season, the troops were immediately rallied and brought to  the charge with redoubled fury. They ;mounted the ramparts with fixed  bayonets, and notwithstanding the most heroic resistance, they soon made themselves  masters of the disputed hill.

Overpowered by numbers and exhausted by the fatigue of the preceding night and all  hope of reinforcement cut off by the incessant fire of the ships across a neck of  land that separated them from the country, the provincials were obliged to retreat and  leave the ground to the British troops. Many of their most experienced officers  acknowledged the valor of their opponents; and that in proportion to the forces engaged,  there had been few actions in which the military renown of British troops  had been more severely tried.  Their chagrin was manifest that the bravery of British  soldiers, which had been often signalized in the nobles feats of valor, should be  thus resisted; that they should be galled, wounded, and slaughtered by a handful of  cottagers, as they termed them, under officers of little military skill, and less  experience, whom they had affected to hold in ineffable contempt.

There is a certain point of military honor that often urges against the feelings of  humanity, to dip the sword in blood. Thus, from the early maxims of implicit  obedience, the first principle of military education, many men of real merit hazarded  fortune, life, and reputation in the inglorious work of devastation and ruin, through  the e fields and villages of America.  Yet such was the reluctance shown by some to  engage with spirit in the disagreeable enterprise of this day that their officers  were obliged to sue the utmost severity towards them, to stimulate others to persevere.   The town of Charlestown was reduced to ashes by the fire of the shipping,  while the land forces were storming the hills.  Thus, in concert, was this flourishing and  compact town destroyed, in the most wanton display of power.  There were  about 400 dwelling houses in the center of Charlestown, which, with the out-houses  adjacent, and many buildings in the suburbs were also sunk in the  conflagration.  The fate of this unfortunate town was beheld with solemnity and regret,  by many even of those who were not favorably disposed to the liberties of the  western world.  The ingratitude which marked the transaction aggravated the guilty  deed.  We have recently seen the inhabitants of that place, prompted by  humanity, opening their doors for the relief, and pouring balm into the wounds of the  routed corps on April 19. This in the eye of justice must enhance the atrocity  and forever stigmatize the ingratitude which so soon after wrapped the town in flames  and sent out the naked inhabitants, the prey of poverty and despair.

There are few things which place the pride of man in a more conspicuous point of view  than the advantages claimed in all military rencontres that are not decisive.  Thus, though at the expense of many lives, and the loss of some of their bravest officers,  the British army exulted much in becoming masters of an unfinished  entrenchment and driving the Americans from their advanced post. Upwards of 1000  men, including the wounded, fell in this action on the royal side. Among the  slain was Lieutenant Colonel Abercrombie, an officer much esteemed by his friends  and his country, and a Major Pitcairn, a gentleman of so much merit that his fall  was lamented even by his enemies. His valor on this occasion would have reflected  glory on his memory, had it been signalized in a more honorable cause. [It may  be observed that his zeal in the cause in which he was engaged had hurried him previous  to this action to some steps that could not easily be forgiven by Americans,  particularly by those who believed him to have been the officer who first gave the order  for the King's troops to fire on the militia assembling at Lexington on their  appearance.]

While this tragedy was acting on the other side of the Charles River, the terror and  consternation of the town of Boston are scarcely describable. In the utmost  anxiety, they beheld the scene from the eminences. Apprehensive for themselves, and  trembling for their friends engaged in the bloody conflict, they were not less  affected by the hideous shrieks of the women and children connected with the King's  troops, who beheld their husbands, their friends, and relations, wounded,  mangled, and slain, ferried over the river in boatloads from the field of carnage.

On the other side, though the Americans were obliged to quit the field with very  considerable loss, yet they gloried in the honor they had this day acquired by arms.   They retired only one mile from the scene of action, where they took possession of an  advantageous height, and threw up new works on Prospect Hill, with the  enthusiasm of men determined to be free. They soon environed the town of Boston on all  sides with military parade, and though they wept the fall of many brave men,  they bade a daily challenge to their enemies.

But a cloud was cast over every face by the death of the intrepid Major General Joseph  Warren, who, to the inexpressible grief of his countrymen, lost his life in the  memorable action usually styled the Battle of Bunker Hill.  He fell covered with laurels,  choosing rather to die in the field than to grace the victory of his foes by the  triumph they would have enjoyed in his imprisonment. He had been chosen president of  the Provincial Congress when Mr. Hancock repaired to Philadelphia. and  was an active volunteer in several skirmishes that had taken place since the  commencement of hostilities, which in the minds of his enemies would have  sanctioned  the severest indignities their resentment might have dictated had he fallen into their  hands at this early period of the war.

This gentleman had been appointed a major general only four days previous to the late  action: he was educated in the medical line, and was much respected for his  professional as well as his political abilities.  He possessed a clear understanding, a  strong mind, a disposition humane and generous, with manners easy, affable and  engaging; but zealous, active, and sanguine in the cause of his oppressed country, it is to  be lamented that he rather incautiously courted the post of danger and rushed  precipitately on his fate, while more important occasions required his paying some  regard to personal safety. Yet, if the love of fame is the strongest passion of the  mind, and human nature pants for distinction in the flowery field, perhaps there was  never a moment of more unfading glory, offered to the wishes of the brave than  that which marked the exit of this heroic officer.

He was the first victim of rank that fell by the sword in the contest between Great  Britain and America: and the conflagration of Charlestown, enkindled by the  wanton barbarity of his enemies, lighted his manes to the grave.  These circumstances  ensure a record in every historical annal, while his memory will be revered by  every lover of his country, and the name of Warren will be enrolled at the head of that  band of patriots and heroes who sacrificed their lives to purchase the  independence of America.

After the late action, the British troops appeared to be in no condition for further  operations; weakened by the severe engagement near Bunker Hill, sickly in the  camp, and disheartened by unexpected bravery where they had feared no resistance;  straitened for provisions, destitute of forage, except what was piratically  plundered from the neighboring shore, they kept themselves shut up in Boston the  remainder of the summer.  Here they continued in so quiet a manner that had they  not sometimes for their own amusement saluted the country with the sound of a useless  canonade or the bursting of a shell, the people might have forgotten that the  Monarch of Britain had several thousand soldiers cooped up within the walls of a city  that still acknowledged him as their Sovereign.  the inhabitants of the town  were held in duress, but their military masters did not presume to enlarge their won  quarters.

 While this interesting scene had been acting in the field, the Congress of the  Massachusetts had sent on to Philadelphia for the opinion of the united delegates relative  to their assumption of a regular form of government.  Articles of Confederation had  been agreed to in General Congress, in which a recapitulation of grievances and  the reasons for taking up arms were subjoined in terms little short of a declaration of  war. These had been published in May, 1775; but their ratification by legislative  bodies or provincial congresses, had not yet generally taken place. But as the  independence of America was not yet formally declared, it was in contemplation with  many members of Congress as well as others of equal judgment, that when all should  be convinced that the breach between the two countries was totally  irreconcilable, that the same modes of legislation and government should be adopted  in all the colonies. It was then thought that a similarity of manners, police, and  government, throughout the continent, would cement the union and might support the  sovereignty of each individual state, while yet, for general purposes, all should be  in subordination to the congressional head.

An elegant writer has observed that it is no easy matter to render the union of  independent states perfect and entire, unless the genius and forms of their respective  governments are in some degree similar. The judicious body assembled at Philadelphia  were fully convinced of this; they were not insensible that a number of states,  under different constitutions and various modes of government and civil police, each  regulated by their own municipal laws, would soon be swayed by local interests  that might create irreconcilable feuds tending to disjoint the whole. [Congress had about  this time adopted the resolution to advise each of the colonies explicitly to  renounce the government of Great Britain and to form constitutions of government for  themselves, adequate to their exigencies, and agreeable to their own modes of  thinking, where any variation of sentiment prevailed. This was acted upon and a  representative government, consisting of one or more branches, was adopted in each  colony.] It was therefore judged best to recommend to the Massachusetts the resumption  of a regular form of government in the present exigency, on the plan of the  old charter of William and Mary, which gave authority to the majority of counsellors,  chosen by a house of representatives, to exercise all governmental acts, as if the  governor was really absent of dead.

On this recommendation, James Warren, Esq., President of the Provincial Congress, by  their authority, issued writs in his own name, requiring the freeholders in  every town to convene and elect their representatives, to meet at Watertown on July 20,  1775.  This summons was readily obeyed, and a full house appeared at the  time and place appointed; the late president of the Provincial Congress was unanimously  chosen Speaker of the New House. Regardless of the vacant chair, they  selected a Council, and the two ranches proceeded to legislation and the internal police  of the province, as usually had been the practice in the absence of the  Governor and Lieutenant Governor. [See Note 14 at the end of this chapter.]

Thus, after living for more than 12 months without any  legal government, without law,  and without any regular administration of justice, but what arose from the  internal sense of moral obligation which is seldom a sufficient restraint on the people at  large, the Massachusetts returned peaceably to the regular and necessary  subordination of civil society reduced nearly to a state of nature with regard to all civil  or authoritative ties, it is almost incredible that the principles of rectitude and  common justice should have been so generally influential. For, such is the restless and  hostile disposition of man that it will not suffer him to remain long in a state of  repose, whether on the summit of human glory, or reclined on his own native turf, when  probable contingencies promise him the acquisition of either wealth or fame.   From the wants, the weakness, and the ferocity of human nature, mankind cannot subsist  long in society, without some stable system of coercive power. Yet amid  the complicated difficulties whit which they were surrounded, the horrors of anarchy  were far from prevailing in the province: vice seemed to be abashed by the  examples of moderation, disinterestedness, and generosity, exhibited by many of the  patriotic leaders of present measures.

It ahs been observed already that not a drop of blood had ever been spilt by the people in  any of the commotions preceding the commencement of war, and that the  fear of popular resentment was undoubtedly a guard on the conduct of some individuals.   Others, checked by the frowns of public virtue, crimes of an atrocious  nature had seldom been perpetrated: all classes seemed to be awed by the magnitude of  the objects before them; private disputes were amicably adjusted or  postponed, until time and events should give the opportunity of legal decision or render  the claims of individuals of little consequence, by their being ingulfed in the  torrent of despotism, generally poured out by the conqueror, who fights for the  establishment of uncontrolled power.


Note 11

Extract of a letter from Governor Hutchinson to Commodore Gambier.

"Boston, June 30, 1772.

"Dear Sir,

"... Our last ships carried you the news of the burning of the Gaspee schooner at  Providence.  I hope if there should be another like attempt, some concerned in it  may be taken prisoners and carried directly to England. A few punished at Execution  Dock would be the only effectual preventive of any further attempts..."

On the same subject, to Secretary Pownal.

"Boston, August 29, 1772.

"Dear Sir,

"I troubled you with a long letter the 21st of July.  Give me leave now only to add one or  two things which I then intended, but, to avoid being too tedious, omitted.   People in this province, both friends an enemies to government, are in great expectations  from the late affair at Rhode Island of burning the King's schooner, and they  consider the manner in which the news of it will be received in England, and the  measures to be taken, as decisive.  If it is passed over without a full inquiry and due  resentment, our liberty people will think they may with impunity commit any acts of  violence, be they ever so atrocious, and the friends to government will despond,  and give up all hopes of being able to withstand the faction.  The persons who were  immediate actors are men of estate and property in the colony.  A prosecution is  impossible. If ever the government of that colony is to be reformed, this seems to be the  

time, and it would have a happy effect on the colonies which adjoin to it.   Several persons have been advised by letters from their friends that as the ministry are  united, and the opposition at an end, there will certainly be an inquiry into the  state of America, the next session of Parliament.  The denial of the supremacy of  Parliament and the contempt with which its authority has been treated by the  Lillputian assemblies of America can never be justified or excused by any one member  of either house of Parliament...."

"Boston, September 2, 1772.

"Samuel Hood, Esquire

"Dear Sir,

"Captain Linzee can inform you of the state of Rhode Island colony better than I can.   So daring an insult as burning the King's schooner, by people who are as well  known as any who were concerned in the last rebellion and yet cannot be prosecuted,  will certainly rouse the British lion, which has been asleep these four or five  years.  Admiral Montague says that Lord Sandwich will never leave pursuing the  colony, until it is disenfranchised.  If it is passed over, the other colonies will follow  the example."


Note 12

The sufferings of the colony of Virginia, under Lord Dunmore's administration, and the  spirit and magnanimity of the inhabitants, might claim a larger detail in this  narrative; but so distinguished have been many of their leading characters, through all  the transactions of the great contest, from the introduction of the resolves by  Patrick Henry, in the year 1765, to the elevation of Mr. Jefferson to the presidential  chair in 1801, as to be sufficient to furnish ample materials for a volume by itself.   But every historical record of the American Revolution and its consequences must  necessarily introduce the names of many illustrious characters that have adorned  and dignified the state of Virginia.


Note 13

Mr. Hancock retained his popularity to the end of his life.  His death did not take place  until the year 1793. He was chosen governor of the Massachusetts in 1780,  and though a remarkable debilitation of body rendered him to appearance little able to  discharge the duties of the first magistrate, yet the suffrages of the people kept  him long  in the chair, after he was reduced to such a state of weakness as to be lifted by  his servants into his carriage, ad thence into the State House, to deliver his  public speeches.  In this, he acquitted himself with a degree of elocution, pleasing and  popular, though his health did not admit of his writing them previously, and  seldom had he strength to add his signature to the acts of the legislature.  But his mental  faculties were not much impaired by the infirmities of his bodily constitution;  they were not indeed composed of those elementary sparks of genius that soon burn  themselves out; nor were the energies of his mind blunted by industry and  application.

He had been so long habituated to ideas of independence that after they were thoroughly  fixed in his mind, he uniformly retained his principles to the last.  He was  against the consolidation of the general government, and the monarchical views of  many who had risen to power before the had finished his career of life.  He  supported his opinion of the sovereignty of the individual states in a manly manner, in  one of his last transactions of a public nature.  This was his conduct relative to  the suability of the states.  An experiment made by a process commenced against the  Massachusetts in favor of William Vassal, Esquire, the governor of the state  was summoned by a writ to answer to the prosecution.  He declined the smallest  concession that might lessen the independence and sovereignty of each state, and  supported his opinion with firmness and dignity equally popular and honorable to  himself.  Litigations of this nature were soon after barred by an amendment in the  Constitution of the United States.

An ample measure of gratitude was repaid to Mr. Hancock, both for public services and  private benefits; a mantle of love was thrown over his foibles by his  countrymen, and his memory was embalmed in the affections of his townsmen.


Note 14

The state of Massachusetts continued this mode of legislation and government until the  year 1780, when a convention was called for the purpose, and a more stable  form adopted. By this, a governor, lieutenant governor, senate, and house of  representatives were to be chosen by the free suffrages of the people.  A council of  nine were to be chosen by the legislative, either form the senate or the people at large.


The Rise, Progress and Termination of the American Revolution  Interspersed with Biographical, Political, and Moral Observations

by Mercy Otis Warren

Chapter Seven:  Continental Army. Mr. Washington appointed to the command. General  Gage recalled, succeeded by Sir  William Howe. Depredations on the sea coast. Falmouth burnt. Canadian affairs. Death  and character of General Montgomery.

 Freedom, long hunted round the globe by a succession of tyrants, appeared at this period  as if about to erect her standard in America. The scimitar was drawn from  principles that held life and property as a feather in the balance against the chains of  servitude that clanked in her disgusted ear. The blood of innocence had already  crimsoned over the fields which had teemed for the nourishment of Britain, who, instead  of listening to the groans of an oppressed country, had recently wrung out  the tears of anguish, until the inhabitants of the plundered towns were ready to quit the  elegances of life and take refuge in the forest to secure the unimpaired  possession of those privileges which they considered as a grant from heaven, that no  earthly potentate had a right to seize with impunity.

The bulk of mankind have indeed, in all countries in their turn, been made the prey of  ambition. It is a truth that no one will contest, though all may regret, that in  proportion to the increase of wealth, the improvement in arts, and the refinements in  society, the great body of the people have either by force or fraud become the  slaves of the few, who by chance, violence, or accident have destroyed the natural  equality of their associates. Sanctioned by time and habit, an indefeasible right has  been claimed that sets so mischievous a creature as man above all law, and subjects the  lives of millions to the rapacious will of an individual who, by the intoxicating  nature of power, soon forgets that there are any obligations due to the subject, a reptile  in his opinion, made only for the drudgery necessary to maintain the splendor  of government and the support of prerogative. Every step taken by the British  government relative to the colonies confirmed this truth, taught them their danger, and  evinced to the Americans the necessity of guarding at all points against the assumed  jurisdiction of an assembly of men disposed to innovate continually on the rights  of their fellow subjects who had no voice in Parliament, and whose petitions did not  reach or had no influence on the ear of the sovereign.

The success of the last supplicatory address offered to the Parliament of Britain by the  United States still hung in suspense. Yet the crisis appears so alarming that it  was thought necessary by many to attend immediately to the establishment of a  continental army on some stable and respectable footing. But there were some  influential members in Congress who dreaded the consequence of a step so replete with  the appearance of hostility, if not with the avowed design of independence.  They observed that such a measure would be an inevitable bar to the restoration of  harmony.

Some who had warmly opposed the measures of administration and ably advocated the  rights of the colonies were of this opinion. The idea of dissevering the empire  shocked their feelings.  They still ardently wished, both from the principles of humanity  and what they judged the soundest policy, to continue, is possible, the natural  connection with Britain.  Others of a more timid complexion readily united with these  gentlemen and urged, notwithstanding the contempt poured on all former  supplications, that even if their late petition should be rejected they should yet make one  effort more for conciliation and relief, by the hitherto fruitless mode of prayer  and remonstrance. Men of more enlarged and comprehensive views considered this  proposal as the finesse of shallow politicians, designed only to prevent the  organization of a continental army.

The celebrated Machiavelli, pronounced by some the prince of politicians, has observed  "that every state is in danger of dissolution whose government is not  frequently reduced to its original principles." The conduct of the British administration  towards the colonies, the corruption of the government in every department,  their deviations from first principles, and the enormous public debt of the nation evinced  not only the necessity of a reform in Parliament, but appeared to require such  a renovation of the British Constitution as was not likely soon to take place. Thus  circumstanced, many thought it the interest of America to dissolve the connection  with such a government, and were utterly opposed to delay or any further application to  the British king of Parliament, by petition or concession.

After a long debate on the subject, the last description of persons were obliged  reluctantly to accede to a measure which they thought promised nothing but delay or  disgrace. By a kind of necessary compromise, a most humble and loyal petition directly  to the King of Great Britain was again agreed to by the delegated powers of  the United States. At the same time, it was stipulated by all parties that military  preparations should be made and an army raised without further hesitation.  A  decided majority in Congress voted that 20,000 men should be immediately equipped  

and supported at the expense of the United States of America. The honorable  William Penn, late governor of Pennsylvania, was chosen agent to the Court of Britain,  and directed to deliver the petition to the King himself and to endeavor by his  personal influence to procure a favorable reception to this last address.

The command of the army, by unanimous voice of Congress, was vested in George  Washington, Esquire, then a delegate from the Sate of Virginia. He received this  mark of confidence from his country with becoming modesty, and declined all  compensation for his services, more than should be sufficient to defray his  expenditures, for which he would regularly account.

Mr. Washington was a gentleman of family and fortune, of a polite, but not a learned  education.  He appeared to possess a coolness of temper and a degree of  moderation and judgment that qualified him for the elevated station in which he was  now placed. With some considerable knowledge of mankind, he supported the  reserve of the statesman with the occasional affability of the courtier.  In his character  was blended a certain dignity, united with the appearance of good humor. He  possessed courage without rashness, patriotism and zeal without acrimony, and retained  with universal applause the first military command until the establishment of  independence. Through the various changes of fortune in the subsequent conflict,  though the slowness of his movements were censured by some, his character  suffered little diminution to the conclusion of a war that from the extraordinary  exigencies of an infant republic required at times the caution of Fabius, the energy of  Caesar, and the happy facility of expedient in distress, so remarkable in the military  operations of the illustrious Frederick. [The late Kind of Prussia, well known for  this trait in his character by all who are acquainted with the history of his reign.] With  the first of these qualities, he was endowed by nature; the second was  awakened by necessity; and the third he acquired by experience in the field of glory and  danger, which extended his fame through half the globe.

In the late war between England and France, Mr. Washington had been in several  military encounters and had particularly signalized himself in the unfortunate  expedition under General Braddock, in the wilderness on the borders of the Ohio, in the  year 1755. His conduct on that occasion raised an eclat of his valor and  prudence, in consequence of which many young gentlemen from all parts of the  continent, allured by the name of Major Washington, voluntarily entered the service,  proud of being enrolled in the list of officers under one esteemed so gallant a  commander.

General Washington arrived at the camp at Cambridge in the neighborhood of Boston in  the beginning of July, 1775. He was accompanied by several officers of  distinction from the southern states, and by Charles Lee and Horatio Gates, both natives  of Great Britain, appointed now to high rank in the American army. There  appeared much expectation from his abilities and a general satisfaction in the  appointment of Mr. Washington to the chief command. A congratulatory address,  expressive of their esteem, with the strongest assurances of their aid and support, to  enable him to discharge the duties of his arduous and exalted station, was  presented to him from the Provincial Congress of Massachusetts through the hand of  their president, James Warren. To this gentleman, General Washington brought  letters of importance, and to him he was referred for advice by the delegates of the  Massachusetts, as "a judicious, confidential friend, who would never deceive  him."

In his reply to this address, General Washington observed, "That in leaving the  enjoyments of domestic life, he had only emulated the virtue and public spirit of the  whole province of Massachusetts Bay, who with a firmness and patriotism without  example in history had sacrificed the comforts of social and private felicity in  support of the rights of mankind, and the welfare of their country."  Indeed, all ranks  were emulous to manifest their respect to the commander of the army.  Multitudes flocked from every quarter to the American standard, and within a few  weeks the environs of Boston exhibited a brave and high spirited army which  formed to order, discipline, and subordination more rapidly than could have been  expected from their former habits. Fired with an enthusiasm arising from a sense of  the justice of their cause; ardent, healthy, and vigorous; they were eager for action, and  impatient to be led to an attack on the town of Boston, where the British  army was encamped. But they were still ignorant that both private and political  adventurers had been so negligent of their own and the public safety as to pay little  attention to the importation of powder, arms, and other warlike stores, previous to the  prohibition of Britain, restricting the shipment of those articles to America, but  for the immediate use of the King's troops.

Thus when hostilities commenced, and a war was denounced against the colonies, they  had innumerable difficulties to surmount. Several of the most formidable  powers of Europe had been invited by Britain to aid the cruel purposes of  administration, either by the loan of auxiliaries, or by a refusal of supplies to the infant  states, now struggling alone against a foe whose power, pride, and success had often  made the nations tremble. On a retrospect of the critical situation of America, it  is astonishing she did not fall at the threshold. She had new governments to erect in the  several states; her legislatures to form; and her civil police to regulate on  untrodden ground. She had her armies to establish and funds to provide for their  payment. She had her alliances to negotiate, new sources of trade to strike out, and  a navy to begin, while the thunder of Britain was alarming her coasts, the savages  threatening her borders, and the troops of George III, with the sword uplifted,  pushing their execrable purpose to exterminate the last vestige of freedom.

But as Providence had led to the period of independence, the powers of industry and  invention were called forth.  Not discouraged by the magnitude of the work or  the numberless obstacles to the completion of their design, no difficulties damped the  ardor and unanimity of their exertions, though for a time it appeared as if their  magazines must be furnished by the nitre from heaven and the ore dug by their own  hands from the bowels of the earth.  The manufacture of salt-peter, at first  considered as the ideal project of some enthusiast for freedom, was not only attempted,  but became the easy occupation of women and children. Large quantities  

were furnished from many parts of America, and powder mills were erected which  worked it with success.  Sulfur, lead, and iron ore are the natural productions of  the country, and mountains of flint had recently been discovered and wrought for use.  As nature had thus furnished the materials, every hand that was not engaged in  arms was employed in arts, with an alacrity and cheerfulness that discovered a  determination to be free.  Precipitated into a conflict that probably might light half  Europe in flames, the demand was too great, and the process too slow to rely entirely on  the efforts of genius and industry.

When General Washington became fully apprised of the astonishing deficiency in the  article of power, having been led into a misapprehension of the stock on hand,  by irregular returns, he embarrassment was great.  He immediately applied for advice tot  he Speaker of the House of Representatives, who judged that the most  prompt measures were indispensably necessary. They agreed that the Speaker should  communicate the circumstance to a few members who might be confidentially  entrusted: the result was that committees were immediately sent by the Assembly to  many towns in the province, in a cautious, guarded manner, to require the stocks  of powder on hand in their several magazines. This was expeditiously effected, and with  little difficulty; but the collection was very inadequate, yet sufficient to relieve  the anxiety of the present moment. Happily they were not apprised within the walls of  Boston of the poverty of their antagonists without, particularly in this article,  until they had time to collect the small stocks from the neighboring towns and to receive  some, though far from an ample supply, from the southern colonies. At this  crisis, had General Gage ventured without his entrenchments, both the American army  and the people must have been involved in extreme distress.

Several vessels had been privately sent both to the Dutch and English islands to procure  arms and ammunition; but so narrowly were they watched by the British  cruisers that they had returned with little success.

These circumstances accelerated a spirited measure, before contemplated only by a few.   The arming and equipping of ships to cruise on British property was a bold  attempt that startled apprehensions of many zealously opposed to the undue exercise of  British power; but necessity impelled, and the enterprise was pursued.  The General Assembly of the Massachusetts soon resolved to build, equip, and arm a  number of vessels suitable for the purpose, to cruise and capture any British ships  that might be found on or near their coasts. They granted letters of marque and reprisal  to several adventurers, and appointed courts of admiralty for the trial and  condemnation of any captures within those limits. By these means, the seasonable  capture, in the beginning of this enterprise, of a British ship laden with ordnance  and an assorted cargo of warlike stores sufficiently supplied the exigencies of the army  and dissipated the fears of those who had suffered the most painful  apprehensions for the safety of their country.

These naval preparations may perhaps be said not to have been merely of a defensive  nature -- the line yet avowedly observed by the Americans. But they had  advanced too far to recede. Sophistical distinctions of words or names were laid aside. It  is a fact, of which everyone is sensible, that successful opposition to  arbitrary sway places a civic crown on the head of the hero that resists, when  contingencies that defeat confer a hemp cord instead of laurel. The success and  catastrophe of the infant navy of America will be shown in the succeeding pages.

The naked state of the magazines had been kept as secret as possible, and every  preparation for attack of defense had been made as if no deficiency was felt, while  there were not three rounds of powder in the American camp. Lines of circumvallation  had been formed from Mystic River to Roxbury and Dorchester. But,  notwithstanding the appearance of strength, the collection of numbers, and the hostile  disposition of both parties, nothing of consequence was attempted by either,  after the action of June 17, during the remainder of Gage's administration. This  inactivity was heavily censured by the more ardent spirits both within and without the  camp. It was thought disgraceful on the one side, nor would it have been less  dishonorable on the other had not their inability from the causes just mentioned  prevented more vigorous movements. Yet, from the circumstances of the colonies, their  petition to the King still pending, and their allegiance not formally renounced,  it was judged by many most prudent for the American army to remain for the present  only on the defensive.

Governor Gage obtained leave to repair to England in the autumn of 1775. It was indeed  unfortunate for him that he had been appointed to the command of an army  and the government of a province without the talents that qualified for the times. He was  naturally a man of a humane disposition, nor had his courage ever been  impeached.  But he had not the intrigue of the statesman to balance the parties, nor the  sagacity necessary to defeat their designs. Nor was he possessed of that  soldierly promptitude that leaves no interval between the determination and the  execution of his projects. Glad to quit the thorny field, he bade adieu to a country he  had not the ability and perhaps not the inclination to subdue, and the command of the  army devolved on Sir William Howe.

General Oglethorpe, his senior in office, an experienced veteran, grown old in military  fame without sullying his laurels, had the prior offer of this command. He  agreed to accept the appointment on condition the ministry would authorize him to  assure the colonies that justice should be done them. His proposal at once  appeared the result of humanity and equity. He declared that "he knew the people of  America well; that they never would be subdued by arms, but that their  obedience would be ever secured by doing them justice."  [British Annual Register.] A  man with these ideas was not a fit instrument for the designs of the British  government. He was, therefore, agreeable to his own request, permitted to remain at  home, where he was a quiet spectator of the folly of his country through a seven  years war with the colonies. [General Oglethorpe had been distinguished for the  benevolence of his disposition through all his transactions in America, where he had  resided several years. His mildness and equity towards the natives of the early  settlement of the state of Georgia, and his conduct both in a civil and military capacity  had won the esteem and affection of the inhabitants of the southern colonies the  approbation of his sovereign, and the applause of his native country -- Modern  Universal History, Volume 11]. On his declining the appointment, the important and  hazardous command was given to General Howe, a man of pleasure and a  soldier. But the predominance of the first trait in his character often interfered with the  vigor and decision necessary to complete the last. Early on his promotion, his  severity and indiscretion erased the favorable impression which many in America yet  cherished for his name and family. In the beginning of his administration,  he published a proclamation condemning to  military execution any of the remaining inhabitants of Boston who should attempt  to leave the town. He compelled them to form themselves into bodies under officers he  should appoint and to take arms in case of an attack against their brethren in  the country. Yet for a certain sum of money, he promised an exemption from the cruel  task of imbruing their hands in the blood of their friends. But the most  memorable event that took place while he presided in the province, previous to the  evacuation of Boston, was the cannonade and destruction of Falmouth, a  flourishing and well-built town on the eastern parts of Massachusetts.

Alarm and depredation had spread from shore to shore through all the sea coasts of  America. Their shipping were seized, their islands plundered, their harbors  infested by the landing of marauding parties, and many places threatened with  immediate conflagration. Bristol, near Rhode Island, had been attacked in a dark  stormy night, and 120 canon fired on that defenseless town within an hour. Many houses  were injured, and some set on fire. A remarkable sickness had raged in the  town for some time, and the languishing inhabitants were now hurried into the streets in  their beds, to preserve them from immediate death in the conflagration of their  houses. [The Rev. Mr. Burt, distinguished for his piety, benevolence, and attachment to  the liberties of his country, was found dead in a field the morning after the  conflagration. He had fled from his bed where he was confined by sickness, to escape  the flames that consumed his house.] This was an uncivil mode of demanding a  tax of cattle, sheep, and hogs, for the supply of the squadron of Captain (afterwards) Sir  James Wallace, who had for many months harassed and distressed the state  of Rhode Island.

This rude attack on Bristol took place only eight days previous to the wanton desolation  which on the eve of winter stripped the inhabitants of Falmouth, both of  shelter and provisions, and drove them naked into the wilderness, uncertain of any  accommodations to secure them from the inclemency of the season. One Captain  Mowatt, who had recently been a prisoner there and had received the most hospitable  treatment from the inhabitants, was the instrument to execute this deed of  unprovoked barbarity. It is true he notified the town that "he would give them two hours  to remove the human species, at the period of which term a red pendant  would be hoisted at the main top gallant mast head, and that on the least resistance he  should be freed from all humanity dictated by his orders or his inclination."  [This is an exact copy of Mowatt's letter. See British Remembrancer.]

Three gentlemen repaired on board his ship to inquire the reason of this extraordinary  summons. Mowatt replied that "he had orders to set on fire all the seaport  towns from Boston to Halifax, and that he supposed New York was already in ashes."  He said "he could dispense with his orders on no terms but the compliance of  the inhabitants to deliver up their arms and ammunition and their sending on board a  supply of provisions, four carriage guns, and the same number of the principal  persons in the town, as hostages, that they should engage not to unite with their country  in any kind of opposition to Britain." He assured them that on a refusal of  these conditions, he should lay the town in ashes within three hours.

Unprepared for such a attack, and intimidated by the roar of cannon which began to play  on the town, the people supplicated a suspension until the morning before  they replied to the humiliating proposal. They improved the short reprieve which with  difficulty they obtained in removing their families and effects; after which they  made no further resistance, not even to the marines who landed with lighted torches to  make the devastation complete. In this defenseless situation, the inhabitants  considered opposition only as a useless waste of human life, and many of them stood on  the heights, the passive spectators of the fire that played on the town  through the day.  They beheld with various emotions a conflagration that reduced many  of them to penury and despair. Thus were they prepared for the occupation  of soldiers, and driven to the field from the double motive of resentment and the  necessity of immediate subsistence.

New York, Stonington, Newport, and many other places were threatened, but did not  experience a similar fate. The last, situated on an island, was obliged to  stipulate for a weekly supply to save their town from the fury of the piratical corsairs  that surrounded them, who proudly boasted to the civility and generosity of their  nation.  England has indeed been long celebrated for magnanimity, clemency, and  humanity.  But it is with nations as with individuals, when human nature falls from  virtue, it generally sinks into the extremes of vice, in proportion as it was before  conspicuous for superior excellence.

Thus, the monarch divested of compassion, and the ministry of principle, the naval  strength of Britain, the mistress of the seas, and the terror Europe was employed  to interrupt the commerce, lay waste the cities, destroy the towns, and plunge the  inhabitants of America in misery and despair, forgetful that she was every  contributing by the acquisitions of her industry to the strength of Britain. Nor was  America yet sufficiently irritated to renounce her allegiance to the King or relinquish  her connection with England, cemented by the strong ties of habit and consanguinity,  language, religion, and manners. Yet, though there was no formal dissolution of  the legal bands that had united them, the frequent outrages experienced by Americans  convinced them of the necessity of some effectual naval preparations on their  part. This was so obvious that Congress no longer delayed acting with decision on a  measure that had been balanced by various opinions. they directed General  Washington to contract for a number of armed vessels to cruise abroad, to defend the sea  coasts at home, and as far as it was practicable, to capture British  property wherever it might be found.

Many gentlemen, sanguine in opinion that an American navy was no Utopian project,  but that her marine might rapidly rise to a respectable height, engaged with a  energy that seldom fails of carrying into execution any attempt the human mind, on  principles of reason, is capable of forming.  They accordingly built on the large  rivers from Portsmouth to Pennsylvania a number of vessels, row galleys, and frigates  from four to forty guns; and fitted, manned, and completely equipped them for  sea in the course of a few months. All encouragement was given both to public and  private adventurers who engaged in the sea service. Success was equal to  expectation. Many very valuable prizes, and a vast number of provision vessels from  England, Ireland, and Nova Scotia were captured, and by this means the  Americans were soon supplied, not only with the necessaries of war, but with the  conveniences and luxuries of life.

While things remained in this situation in Boston and along the Atlantic shore, a very  busy and important scene was acting in another quarter of America.  The  conquest of Quebec by the immortal Wolfe, in conjunction  with the bold and hardy  New Englanders is a story well known in the annals of Britain. On the peace  concluded with France at Fontainebleau in the Duke of Bed ford's administration, the  whole province of Canada was ceded to the crown of England, in lieu of more  valuable acquisitions relinquished to France. Most of the inhabitants of the country were  French -- some of them noblesse, and all  of them attached to their former  master.  The Roman Catholic faith was the established religion of the country, yet the  Canadians were in all respects to be governed according to the laws of England,  until the Quebec Bill, the subject of much political disunion in England, passed into an  Act in 1774. This act cut the Canadians off from the privileges of English  subjects, denied them an assembly of their own on principles of the British Constitution,  

deprived them of the trial by jury in civil processes. the laws of France were  restored, and the boundaries of the province were extended far beyond the just limits.  The Roman Catholic religion also was not only to be tolerated, but established  by Act of Parliament. This was very offensive both to the French and the English  inhabitants, who found their interests inseparably connected. These new regulations  were made with a view of fixing the Canadians more firmly in the interest of the  ministry; but as they had tasted the advantages of a less despotic government, the  people in general had adopted more liberal modes of thinking, both in civil and religious  matters; and most of the inhabitants were equally dissatisfied with the late  parliamentary regulations.

The Quebec Act, unpopular in England and alarming in America, was particularly  disgusting to all the English settlers in Canada, except a few individuals employed  by the Crown. Neither the authority of administration, nor the address of Governor  Carleton was sufficient to quiet the disorders that arose, or to induce the  Canadians in this early stage of the dispute to take arms to assist in the subjugation of  the other colonies. They murmured loudly at the measures of the British  government. They refused peremptorily to act against the United Sates, and several of  the principal English inhabitants corresponded with some of the members of  Congress and encouraged the measures that were taken to bring the province of Canada  into a union with the thirteen colonies.

Thus it required no small intrigue to instigate event he savages who delight in blood to  the commission of unprovoked hostilities, which would interrupt the traffic  carried on between them and the frontiers of the other provinces. It has been justly  observed "that the introduction of barbarians and savages into the contests of  civilized nations is a measure pregnant with shame and mischief, which the interest of a  moment may impel, but which is reprobated by the best principles of humanity  and reason." [Gibbon on the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire] But these were not  the principles on which the American war was conducted.  Congress had  authentic information that every method was used to induce the savages to take up the  hatchet against the Americans. Several conferences had been held the  preceding summer with many of their chiefs assembled at Montreal. this was in  consequence of the machination of Colon Johnson, a famous Indian partisan in the  last war, whose influence among them was very extensive. In these conferences, he gave  each of them a war belt and a tomahawk; invited them to drink the blood  and feast on the body of a Bostonian, and to sing the war son over a roasted bullock and  a pipe of wine he had prepared for the purpose.  But several of them  declined either to eat, drink, or sing the barbarous song. They afterwards delivered up  the black belt with the hatchet depictured thereon, to some of the American  officers. [General Schuyler's letter, Dec. 14, 1775, published by order of Congress.]

These transactions were considered as incontestable proof that administration was  determined to employ as their allies the fierce and numerous hordes of the  wilderness to subdue and butcher the Americans, even before they had thrown off their  allegiance to the Crown of Britain. It had also been recently discovered that  Governor Carleton had received a commission authorizing him to muster and arm all  persons residing within the province of Canada and "as occasion should require,  to march and embark the levies to any of the provinces of America, to pursue and  prosecute either by sea or land all enemies, pirates, or rebels, either in or out of  the province; and if it should so please God, them to vanquish, to take, and so  apprehended, according to law, put them to death or to reserve alive, at his  discretion." [The whole of General Carleton's extraordinary commission maybe seen in  the parliamentary register of November 2, in the second sessions of the then  Parliament.]

A detail of the sufferings of one family will evince the wretched situation of all in that  

province who had the courage to complain of the measures and administration,  or indulged a favorable opinion of the exertions o the other colonies.  The singular mode  of bending the minds of men of liberal opinions to the designs of government  was first experimented on Mr. Walker, an English gentleman of fortune and abilities,  who had been many years a resident at Montreal.  His avowed dislike of the  Quebec Bill drew on him the resentment of the officers of government and involved him  in altercation and danger. He had in answer to the service maxim "Qui le roi,  est maitre" repeated by one Rouvelle, coolly replied that "with regard to Monsieur  Rouvelle, it might be so, as he ate his Majesty's bread"; but added "I deny that the  King is my master: I respect him as my lawful sovereign, and am ready to pay due  obedience to his lawful commands; but I cannot acknowledge any one as my  master while I live by my own industry; when I receive pay from the King, perhaps my  acknowledgments may be equally submissive." Rouvelle immediately  informed General Carleton of this conversation. His prudence was commended, and he  was soon after appointed one of the judges of the Supreme Court at  Montreal. This appointment was equally astonishing to the French inhabitants, as it was  disgusting to the English. Men of all descriptions had a very ill opinion of  Rouvelle. The recent conversation between him and Mr. Walker was misrepresented and  exaggerated. The partisans of the Crown and the officers of the army were  highly exasperated against him; and soon after, resentment was carried so far as to  attempt the assassination of Mr. Walker.

A number of soldiers under the command of a Captain Disney entered his house in the  evening when at supper with a few friends. On a sudden noise at the door of  the hall, Mrs. Walker imagined it to be some Canadians who had been the preceding  day on business with Mr. Walker, as an officer of justice. Without any  hesitation, she pronounced "entrez"; but to her inexpressible surprise, the next moment  she saw through the lasses of the inner door a number of faces, some of them  blacked, others covered with a lizard of crepe, all rising on the steps, and rushing with  precipitation into the room: in an agony of surprise, she exclaimed, "Good  God, this is murder!" Mr. Walker sat with his back to the door, and before he had time  to rise, he received from one of the ruffians a violent stroke of a broad sword  on his head. He attempted to recover his arms and defend himself, but wounded in a  most cruel manner, he sunk motionless on the floor, when one of the villains  kneeled on his breast and cut off his right ear, while he so far retained his senses as to  hear one of them say, "damn him, he is dead."

After recovering from his wounds, he commenced a civil process against Disney and his  party. The crime was proved with all its atrocious aggravations, but justice  had not its operation, either in compensation to the sufferer, or punishment to the guilty.  Mr. Walker, finding himself unsafe in the city, retired to his country house,  determined to amuse himself with his books and his farm, without farther attention to  political or public scenes. But his persecution was not at an end. He had not  long resided in his villa before he was molested in a still more barbarous manner.

A party of thirty soldiers was sent by Governor Carleton to bring him dead of alive to  Quebec. They surrounded his house just before day and summoned him to  surrender. Instead of a compliance, he courageously endeavored to defend himself and  his family, until the party without set fire to his house in several places, when  he was obliged to escape the flames by throwing himself from the third story. In the fall  from a window of such a height, one of his legs was broken, which left him to  the mercy of his antagonists, who made him their prisoner, and conducted him to  Quebec, where he was loaded with irons, denied the use of pen, ink, and paper,  and forbidden even the light of a taper in his darksome cell.

Mrs. Walker, a lady of great elegance and sensibility, had in the terror of the night  leaped from a second story window and walked through the snow until, exhausted  by fear and fatigue, she was overtaken by one of the party, who had the compassion to  throw his cloak over her and conduct her to a neighboring house. She soon  after made her escape from that part of the country over the lakes, accompanied by the  commissioners Congress had some time before sent on to confer with and  secure the interest of the Canadians. The boat in which she crossed one of those island  seas passed another almost within call which conveyed her husband a  prisoner to Quebec.

It has already been observed that an address had been sent by Congress to the  inhabitants of Canada, couched in nervous, friendly, and -pathetic terms, reminding  them of their common danger, and urging them to a union with the other colonies in  defense of their common rights. But the mixture of French, British, American, and  savage inhabitants of that country rendered it very uncertain how far the other colonies  might depend on the aid of friendship of the Canadians. Congress apprised of  the situation of affairs there, judged it prudent to endeavor to engage the people of all  descriptions sin that quarter, more firmly to the interest of the union.  It was  thought a favorable crisis for this purpose, when the flower of the British troops then in  America were shut up in Boston; and when the governors of the southern  provinces, interrupted in their negotiations with the Indians, had taken refuge on board  the King's ships, either from real or imagined personal danger. This was an  important business, as whoever possesses Canada will in a great measure command the  numerous tribes beyond the lakes. A respectable delegation was sent to  Montreal to treat with the white inhabitants, and, as far as possible, to conciliate or  secure the copper-colored nations.

The importance of possessing Canada strongly impressed the minds at this time of  gentlemen of the first penetration. A very respectable committee was sent by  Congress into the country, with Dr. Franklin at the head of the mission, whose talents as  a statesman, perfect knowledge of the French language, extensive literary  acquaintance with that nation, urbanity of manners, courteous deportment, united with a  prudent reserve, marked him as a suitable character to negotiate with and  endeavor to attach the Canadians of all descriptions to the American union.  Mr. Carrol  of Maryland, a clergyman of the Roman Catholic profession, was sent on  with the delegation to administer the ordinances of religion, baptism, absolution, etc.,  which they had been denied for some time by their clergy under British  influence; who, instead of bestowing the blessings of the church, had denounced their  anathemas, to the great grievance of many tender consciences, and threatened  the vengeance of heaven, as well as earth, on failure of due submission to parliamentary  mandates.

These efforts to engage and fix the Canadians to a certain point failed. The committee  returned with little success.  Words and professions are of little avail when the  sword is, or is about to be, lifted for decision. Congress now found that a force sufficient  to strengthen the hands of their friends in that province was the only mode  to be relied on. In consequence of this necessity, they directed two regiments of New  York militia and a body of New Englanders, consisting in the whole of about  three thousand men, to proceed under the command of Generals Schuyler and  Montgomery, by the Lake Champlain to the River Sorel, which empties itself into the  St. Lawrence, and immediately attempt the reduction of Quebec. They arrived at the Isle  Noix, which lies at the entrance of that river in the autumn of 1775.

The commander there published a declaration announcing the reasons of this movement  and inviting the inhabitants of every description to arrange themselves under  the banners of liberty, and unite in the common cause of America. After this, they  immediately pushed on through woods, swamps, and morasses to a fort about 12  miles distance. Here an unexpected attack from a large body of Indians obliged them to  retreat to their former post and wait the arrival of reinforcements.

On this retreat to the Isle Noix, General Schuyler immediately returned to Albany.  The  ostensible reason was the broken state of his health, which indeed was so  impaired as to render him unfit for the fatigue of such a service. Thus the whole weight  

of the war in that quarter was left to the intrepid Montgomery, who, though  qualified by his courage, capacity, and military experience, was not in force sufficient  for so great an undertaking. He, however, notwithstanding the vigilance of  General Carlteton, made himself master of the forts of Chamblee and St. John's, and  with various other successes arrived at Montreal about the middle of  November. General Carleton had arrived there some time before and had made every  exertion for the preservation of all the posts in the neighborhood, as well as  those above mentioned; but the people disaffected, and his army weak, his efforts were  lasted, and he thought himself happy to escape the vigilance of Montgomery,  who had placed guards at every post for his interception. He, however, in a dark night,  in an open boat, fortunately passed them all, and arrived at Quebec in safety.

When General Montgomery arrived at Montreal, the inhabitants, both French and  English, wished to surrender by capitulation. but with a spirit and dignity consistent  with his usual character, he refused this, though at the same time he gave them the  strongest assurances of justice, security, and personal safety. He pledged his honor  for their peaceable possession of their property, and the free exercise of their religion: he  expressed in liberal terms his disposition to protect the inhabitants on the  same footing with the other American colonies. He then demanded the possession of the  gates and the keys of all the public stores, and ordered them to be delivered  by 9 o'clock the ensuing morning. Accordingly, the gates were thrown open, and his  troops entered at the appointed hour: thus without the  smallest resistance, he  took possession of this important post. He treated every class of inhabitants with that  lenity and politeness which at once attached them to his person, strengthened  their prejudices against the British government, and cherished the favorable ideas many  had before imbibed, both of the Americans and the cause in which they were  engaged.

When Montgomery had made all proper arrangements for the security and peace of  Montreal, he prepared immediately to go forward and invest Quebec, then in a  week, defenseless condition, their governor absent, the inhabitants disaffected, and but a  handful of troops in the garrison.  When General Carleton left the  neighborhood of Montreal, he made the utmost dispatch to reach and put the capital of  Canada in a proper state of defense; but he found Quebec in the greatest  consternation and danger, from a quarter not apprehended and scarcely conceived  possible -- from the novelty and hazard of the undertaking.

A detachment of upwards of one thousand men had been marched from the army near  Boston. The command of this little band had been given to a Colonel Arnold,  a young soldier of fortune who held in equal contempt both danger and principle. They  took passage at Merrimack and arrived at the mouth of the Kennebeck on  September 22. There, finding it probable their provisions might fall short where there  could be no possibility of fresh supply, Arnold sent back three hundred of his  men. [These appeared ready to desert with a field officer at their head if they had not  been permitted to return.] Most of the remainder embarked in bateaux  prepared for the purpose -- a small division of the troops marched slowly and kept the  banks of the river.

They encamped together every night, though frequently interrupted in their progress by  rocks, falls, rapids and carrying places where they were obliged to carry their  boats for several miles together on their shoulders. With incredible perseverance, they  traversed woods, mountains, swamps, and precipices, and were obliged  alternately to cut their way where no human foot had trodden, to ford shallows, o  attempt the navigation of a rapid stream, with a rocky bottom, which seemed not  designed as a passage for any human being to attempt. At the same time, their  provisions were so reduced that they were obliged to eat their own dogs and convert  their shoe leather into food.

But with astonishing resolution, they surmounted every obstacle, and near two thirds of  the detachment completed a route of several hundred miles through a hideous  wilderness, unexplored before but by the beasts and savages of the forest. It was at the  time thought that if the historian did justice to the heroic firmness of this little  party, that would be as honorable a testimony of the exertions of human intrepidity as  the celebrated march of the renowned Hannibal: but the enterprising sprit of  America has since taught her sons to tread over a track of the forlorn desert so much  more extensive that this now appears but an epitome of their hardihood.

Colonel Arnold, with his little army almost exhausted by hunger and fatigue, reached  the Canadian settlements on the third of November. He was received in a  friendly manner, and a liberal supply of provisions was collected for his relief. By the  alacrity of the inhabitants, he was in a few days furnished with boats to cross the  St. Lawrence, and by favor of the night he effected his passage, in spite of the vigilance  of several frigates that lay in the river. When he sat down before Quebec, he  found all the batteries manned from the shipping; but having no artillery, he could do  little more than parade before the city and wait the arrival of General  Montgomery.

In the mean time, General Carleton was not idle. Every preparation that courage of  vigilance could dictate was made for the reception of Montgomery. He ordered  by proclamation all who refused to take arms, immediately to quit the city with their  wives and children, on peril of being treated with the utmost severity, as rebels  and traitors to the king. Many of them obeyed and abandoned their residence and  property. The Scotch inhabitants and the French noblesse, he could at that time  firmly rely on. All others, disgusted with the Quebec Act and alienated by the severity  of the governor, were in a temper to renounce their loyalty and join the  Americans. Yet the fear of losing their property in eh confusion that might ensure if the  city was obliged to change its masters operated on some and caused them to  arm, though with great reluctance. The consideration of pecuniary losses will always  have a powerful influence on the minds of men. Thus, the zeal which had been  nurtured for the defense of liberty soon began to abate; and both English and Canadians,  actuated by the principle of immediate self-interest, concealed their former  defection to the British government. Many of them were wealthy and opulent, and  became daily more disposed to unite in defense of the town, which contained  more families in opulent circumstances than all the province besides.

After placing a garrison in Montreal, new clothing his troops and stationing some small  detachments in the outposts in the neighborhood, General Montgomery sent a  few troops to different parts of the province to expedite farther supplies of provisions,  clothing, and other necessaries. He then pushed on his march beneath the fall  of snows, embarrassed with bad roads, a severe winter, an inhospitable climate, and the  murmur of his little army. The term of their enlistment was nearly expired.  Nothing kept them together but their attachment to their commander, and that zeal in the  public cause which had already prompted them to encounter perils and  endure hardships which the human constitution seems not calculated to surmount, after  being softened by the habits of civilized life.  But by the address of the  commander and the resolution of the troops, they with incredible expedition arrived at  Quebec, notwithstanding the impediments that lay in their way.

The soldiers in garrison, with the marines from the King's frigates, that had been placed  therein, and the armed militia, both French and English, did not amount to  more than 2000 men when the army arrived from Montreal. But by the intrepidity of  general Carleton and the activity of his officers, they had prepared for defense  with the sprit of veterans. They rejected with disdain a summons from Montgomery to  surrender the town, to prevent the fatal consequences of its being taken by  storm; fired on the flag that offered to convey letters with proposals for capitulation,  obliged it to retire, and all communication was forbidden by the inflexible  Carleton.

General Montgomery after this sent a second letter [See General Montgomery's letter,  December 6, 1775, Note 15 at the end of this chapter.] by Colonel Arnold  and Mr. MacPherson, his aide-de-camp, to General Carleton. He upbraided him with  personal ill-treatment, with the cruelty exercised towards the prisoners that  had fallen into his hands, and with the unparalleled conduct, except among savages, of  firing at a flag of truce. He warned him not to destroy either public or private  stores, as he had done at Montreal, and kept up a tone of superiority as if sure of  success.  The messengers reached the walls of Quebec, but were ordered to  decamp with speed, and informed that the Governor would receive no letters or hold any  intercourse with rebels.

Thus circumstanced, General Montgomery judged that immediate and decided action  was the only means of serving his country, and securing to himself that renown  which the luster of his former conduct had acquired. Thus, depending too much on his  own good fortune, and too little acquainted with the arrangement and vigor  within the walls, he resolved on the dangerous and desperate measure of an effort to take  the city by escalade. He made his dispositions accordingly, and under the  cover of a violent snow storm, he army, in four separate divisions, began the arduous  work at the same moment, early on the morning of December 31.

But the enemy had gained intelligence of his movements, the alarm had been given, and  a signal made for the general engagement in the lower town, some time  before Montgomery had reached it. He, however, pushed on through a narrow passage  with a hanging rock on the one side and a dangerous precipice on the banks  of the river on the other, and with a resolution becoming his character, he gained the  first barrier. Warmed with the spirit of magnanimity and a thirst for glory, the  inseparable companions of exalted minds, he met undaunted the fire of his enemies and  accompanied by some of his bravest officers, he rushed on to attack a  well-defended barricade. But to the regret of the army, the grief of his country, and the  inexpressible sorrow of his numerous friends, the valiant Montgomery, with  the laurels fresh blooming on his brow, fell at the gates by a random shot from the  frozen walls of Quebec.

Connected with one of the first families in New York, [He married a daughter of Judge  Livingston.] happy in the highest enjoyment of domestic felicity, he was led  by principle to quit the occupations of rural life; and animated with an ardent zeal for the  cause of human nature, the liberties of mankind, and the glory of America,  both his active life, and his heroic death verified his last expression to his amiable lady - - "You shall never blush for your Montgomery." [The writer of these annals  had the particular of his last adieu in a letter from his lady immediately after his death.]

His philosophic taste, his pleasing manners, his private virtues, and his military abilities  were acknowledged and revered even by his enemies, who cannot but  pronounce the Canadian fields are marked with peculiar glory. It is there the choicest  flowers of fame may be culled to crown the memory of a Wolfe and a  Montgomery. Yet, while one of those illustrious names, written in characters of blood,  reflects luster on the glory of a British monarch, the other will announce to  posterity the efforts of virtue to resist the tyranny of his successor.

General Montgomery was justly considered as an early martyr in the cause of freedom,  and the premature stroke that robbed his country of an officer of tried  bravery and decided merit, was not only bewailed by his friends, but excited the tear of  generous compassion from all those who were susceptible of the nobler  feelings of the soul, among such as were opposed to him in political opinion.  The  animosities of war, and the enmities created by different sentiments or rivalry in  fame, should ever expire with the life of a hero. Yet the obsequies of this great and  amiable man were not attended with those honorary marks of respect usually paid  to illustrious military characters when victory has satiated resentment. His body was  thrown into a sledge and, without even a coffin, conveyed to the place of burial.   The manner of General Montgomery's interment was at first reported much more to the  honor of General Carleton, but the above account is from the testimony of  several respectable American officers then in Quebec. [Particularly Captain, afterwards  General, Dearborn, taken prisoner at the attempt on the second barrier.] By  the persuasion of a lady who afterwards married the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec,  who had formerly served in the British army with General Montgomery, the  body of this worthy officer was taken up and again interred in a rough coffin, but  without any particular marks of respect. The other officers who fell were  indiscriminately thrown with their clothes on into the same grave with their soldiers.

The death of General Montgomery decided the fate of the day, though Colonel Arnold  and his party with great bravery kept up the attack. Nor did they quit the field  until after Arnold was obliged to retire, having received a dangerous wound.  Notwithstanding this accident, added to the unspeakable loss of their brave commander,  this small resolute party kept their ground, until galled on every side, attacked in the  rear, and their retreat cut off by a British party who found means to secure a  passage that prevented even the attempt, yet they kept up an obstinate defense for  several hours, but at last were obliged to surrender themselves prisoners of war.  [Most of the American officers distinguished themselves by their intrepidity and  vigilance on this fated day; but none more than Captain Morgan, who seemed to be  adapted by nature, by his strength of body, vigor of mind, and unconquerable resolution,  for the severe conflicts of war. This was afterwards exemplified in the many  renounters he met in the ravage of the Carolinas.]

Though the manes of their commander in chief had not been treated with that generosity  which is usually the result of true magnanimity, yet General Carleton treated  the prisoners that afterwards fell into his hands with more humanity.  Their wounds  were dressed, their wants relieved, and his own physicians sent to visit the sick.  He also endeavored to recall those who, after the defeat, had taken shelter in the woods,  or such as had been left sick or wounded on the way, after the retreat; and  by proclamation, he promised liberty to all t he unhappy stragglers when they should be  cured of their wounds and diseases.

After the death of Montgomery, the retreat of Arnold, and a surrender of a considerable  part of his troops, the broken forces collected and retired about three miles  from the city. There they kept up a kind of blockage through the winder; and by the  spirit of Arnold, on whom the command had devolved, and the vigilance of his  party, they prevented in a great measure, additional recruits and supplies for the relief of  the city. This there was every reason to expect would be attempted, not only  from the difficulties of their situation within the city, but from the fickleness of the  Canadians without and their manifest disposition to enlist under the banners of  success.  From their local circumstances, this change of temper might from the  beginning have been apprehended, for those pretended allies of the United States.  Their neighborhood and the connection with the savages, their long habit of oscillating  between England and France, and their ignorance in general of the grounds of  the dispute must naturally render their fidelity to the states under the jurisdiction of  Congress very uncertain.

But we leave the lakes, the wilderness, the savages, and their employers in that quarter  for the present, to observe for a time the interesting movements on the  borders of the Atlantic, and the disposition discovered by the ancient parent of the  colonies which soon produced consequences of the highest moment. It may,  however be proper to observe here that General Arnold extricated himself in a  remarkable manner from his embarrassments in this quarter and lived to be  conspicuously distinguished through the American war for his bravery and address, his  activity, and his villainy.


Note 15

Copy of General Montgomery's last letter to General Carleton.

"Holland House, December 6, 1775


"Notwithstanding the personal ill treatment I have received at your hands,  notwithstanding the cruelty you have shown to the unhappy prisoners you have taken,  the feelings of humanity induce me to have recourse to this expedient, to save you from  the destruction which hangs over your wretched garrison.  Give me leave to  inform you that I am well acquainted with your situation; a great extent of works, in  their nature incapable of defense, manned with a motley crew of sailors, most of  them our friends an citizens, who wish to see us within their walls, -- a few of the worst  troops that call themselves soldiers, -- the impossibility of relief, and the  certain prospect of wanting every necessary of life, should you opponents confine their  operations to a single blockade -- point out the absurdity of resistance; such  is your situation.

I am at the head of troops accustomed to success, confident of the righteous cause they  are engaged in, inured to danger and fatigue, and so highly incensed at your  inhumanity, illiberal abuse, and the ungenerous means employed to prejudice them in  the minds of the Canadians, that it is with difficulty I restrain them till my  batteries are ready, from insulting your works, which would afford them the fair  opportunity of ample vengeance and just retaliation.  Firing upon a flag of truce,  hitherto unprecedented, even among savages, prevents my following the ordinary mode  of conveying my sentiments; however I will at any rate acquit my conscience.  Should you perish in an unwarrantable defense, the consequence be upon your own  head. Beware of destroying stores of any fort, public or private, as you did at  Montreal or in the rive. If you do, by heavens, there will be no mercy shown."


Chapter Eight:  Dissensions in the British Parliament. Petition of Governor Penn rejected. Boston  evacuated. Sir Henry Clinton  sent to the southward., followed by General Lee. His character. Sir Peter Parker's attack on  Sullivan's Island. General Howe's  Arrival at Sandy Hook. General Washington leaves Cambridge. Observations on the temper of  some of the colonies.

 While as above related, a busy and important scene was exhibited at the northward, the southern  colonies were parrying the embarrassments created by the royal  governors, some of whom had recently left America.  The people were gradually laying aside the  prejudices which mankind generally imbibe for old established  governments and were preparing themselves for new modes, if necessity should impel, whenever  the delegates with whom they had entrusted their rights should  judge affairs fully ripened for a declaration of independence and a final separation from Britain.  The American Congress was yet waiting the result of their late petition  to the throne, with a degree of temper and moderation scarcely paralleled among men possessing  the unlimited confidence of their country on the one side and on the  other irritated by the neglect and contempt of their oppressors and the rude insults of ministerial  menace.

Thus suspended on the wing of expectation or rather an unfounded and fruitless hope, everything  remained quiet at headquarters through the winter of 1776. No  attempt was made against Boston by the American army, nor did General Howe show any  disposition to sally from the town and interrupt the tranquility of the camp.  In short, the British army, engrossed by the pleasures of the town and the exhibition of farces  composed by one of their general officers [General Burgoyne, whose  genius for these literary products was afterwards displayed more to his honor.], became so inactive  and appeared so inoffensive that the Americans (little less  disposed to indulge in the pleasures of peace) enjoyed at Cambridge the conviviality of the season.  The ladies of the principal American officers repaired to the  camp. Harmony and hospitality, united with that simplicity which had hitherto been characteristic  of the domestic taste, style, and manners of the most respectable  Americans, reigned among them for several months, without the smallest interruption. Civility and  mutual forbearance appeared between the officers of the royal and  continental armies, and a frequent interchange of flags was indulged for the gratification of the  different partisans.

But notwithstanding the reluctance to action observable in two powerful and contiguous armies, the  wheels of revolution were rolling on in swift progression.  The  approach of spring lowered the fate of empire, the birth of nations, and the painful convulsions  experienced by every state, struggling to retrieve and permanently  secure the rights of nature, seized or curtailed by the strong hand of power.

Through the last ten years the British ministry had been repeatedly changed, and though none of  them, except the Duck of Grafton and the Marquis of Rockingham  [The Marquis of Rockingham was through his whole life uniformly opposed to the American war.],  who had figured at the head of administration, had shown any  disposition to do justice to America, yet the counsels of cabinet had been kept in continual  fluctuation. From the retirement of Lord Bute in 1756, there had been an  extraordinary variety and succession of characters in the colonial department. The Lords Grenville,  Rockingham, North, Hillsborough, and Dartmouth had alternately  taken the lead in this thorny path. Several others had labored in the road for a time and retired  equally successless and chagrined, particularly the Duke of Grafton.  [The Duke of Grafton was very explicit with his Majesty in his reasons for resignation.]

From the religious deportment of Lord Dartmouth, he had secured the partiality of a party; but it  soon appeared from the inefficacy of his measures and the want of  stability in his conduct that he was a very unfit person for a place that required deeper intrigue,  more energy, and stronger abilities than he possessed. Tired of the  burden himself, and his employers weary of his administration, he resigned his office in the  summer of 1775.

On his resignation, Lord George Germaine, "the hero of the Minden," entered a field which did not  brighten his laurels, though he engaged with a boldness and  temerity of spirit that he had not on all occasions discovered. Zealous for the honor of his  sovereign, the interest and superiority of his nation, the dignity and  supremacy of Parliament, he undertook the conduct of the American war, the subjugation of the  colonies, with a temper and resolution more sanguine than discreet.  Early in his administration and through the whole course of this eventful year, proposals for an  accommodation with the colonies were offered from various quarters;  but conciliation with America had no place in the system of the new minister.

The first bill that appeared for this purpose was from the hand of Lord Chatham, whose energetic  abilities and dignified policy, had recently rescued the empire from  ruin. But not even the talents of a man who had been courted by his sovereign, admired by his  enemies, and adored by the nation had any influence on a ministry deaf  to everything but an American revenue and the supremacy of Parliament. After the failure of the  efforts of this distinguished statesman, Burke, Franklin, Fothergill,  Hartley, and others anxious to prevent the wanton waste of human blood brought forward their  proposals to procure a reconciliation with the colonies, either on the  terms of equity or partial concession.  They supported with the most interesting pathos and with  great strength of argument. But neither the persuasive eloquence of  the orator []Edmund Burke], the reasoning powers or conclusive arguments of the philosopher [Dr.  Franklin], nor the mild simplicity and humane interference of the  upright Quaker [Dr. Fothergill ... All well known in the literary world.], were listened to with the  smallest attention by a predetermined administration, sanctioned by  the approbation of royalty. Every suggestion that wore any appearance of lenity or reunion with the  colonies was rejected on the principle of the supremacy of  Parliament. Tenacious of their power and the right to alter or resume at pleasure all colonial  charters and to regulate and tax as consistent with the convenience of the  parent state, the late petition from Congress met the usual neglect that had been shown to every  former application.

Before it was totally rejected, the Duke of Richmond suggested the propriety of questioning  Governor Penn, who presented the petition, relative to the strength, the  resources, the disposition, and the designs of America. Mr. Penn was a gentleman whose talents  were equal to the business he was sent to negotiate. When called on  the floor of the House of Commons for examination, he gave a clear and decided statement of the  situation ad the views, the expectations, the wishes, and the final  determination of his countrymen, if they failed in their present attempt to be heard by their  Sovereign. [When the petition was presented by Mr. Penn and Arthur Lee,  Esquire, they were told by the minister that no notice would be taken of it.] But it was immediately  asserted that Congress was an illegal body, that no parley could be  held with rebels, that while the Americans in hostile array were preparing armies for opposition to  parliamentary authority, it was beneath the dignity of the supreme  legislative to hold treaties with men who denied their supremacy; that coercion alone was the  proper line of action for the nation; and that it was necessary this system  should be pushed with redoubled vigor. Consequently, after much debate, it was agreed in the  House that foreign auxiliaries should be hired at an immense expense  to assist in the complete subjugation of the colonies. A treaty with the Langrave of Hesse and a  price for payment for the loan of his slaves was voted, and several  other similar steps adopted to facilitate the designs against America.

These measures appeared to many in the House replete with absurdity, particularly the calling in of  foreign mercenaries to assist in a work that discovered little  liberality, less humanity, and no wise policy. It was observed that no language or act could justify  the authors or supporters of this project. It was replied "that foreign  troops inspired with military maxims and ideas of implicit obedience would be less liable to be  biased by the false lenity which national soldiers might indulge at the  the expense of national interest." [British Annual Register] This was an unusual and bold assertion  to be made in a British House of Commons and seemed tinctured  with  a spirit of despotism that had not always been characteristic of Englishmen; and indeed now,  the minority in opposition to this and several other high-handed  measures was too respectable to be frowned into insignificance, even by the disapprobation of  kings. [See Note 16 at the end of this chapter.]

The noble names of Rockingham, Scarborough, Abingdon, Effingham, and Ponsonby; the Dukes of  Manchester, Devonshire, Richmond, and Grafton, with many  others of equal rank and consideration, appeared on the protests against the sanguine, summary,  and dangerous proceedings of Parliament. Their opinions were  supported even by some of the royal family:  the efforts of the Duke of Cumberland were  strenuous. He reprobated in the most explicit terms the whole American  system. He lamented in pathetic language the employing of foreigners. He observed that he much  regretted "that Brunswickers. who once to their honor had been  employed in defense of the liberties of the subject, should now be sent to subjugate a distant part of  the British Empire." [See the speech of his Royal Highness at  large in the British Annual Register.]

But in spite of protests, arguments, reason, or humanity, the Parliament of Britain proceeded, as  expressed in the dissent of the Lords, to "a refinement in tyranny."  Towards the close of the year, they interdicted all trade with America, declared the colonies out of  the royal protection, licensed the seizure of their property on the  high seas, and by an act of Parliament gave the forfeiture of the captors, and directed an  indiscriminate compulsion of all persons taken on board any American  vessel to serve as common sailors in His Majesty's navy.

This mode of procedure was opposed and criminated with all the powers of language by some  members of the first consequence in the House of Commons. They  pronounced it the last degree of wretchedness and indignity to which human nature could be  subjugated. They observed that "this was an instance of tyranny worse  than death, thus to compel the unfortunate captives who might fall into their hands, after being  plundered themselves, to assist their enemies in plundering their  brethren." They asserted "that such modes of severity were without example, except among pirates,  outlaws, and the common enemies of civil society." Yet,  notwithstanding these sensible remonstrances, there were some of the most distinguished characters  in England, so heated by party spirit, national pride, and the high  claims of parliamentary dignity and superiority as shamelessly to avow the necessity of leaping  over the boundaries of equity and winking out of sight the immutable  laws of justice. It is painful to record, as an evidence of this assertion, a single instance that must  cause a blush for the weakness or wickedness of man. Even the  great Lord Mansfield, whose superior talents, profound erudition, law knowledge, and  philosophical abilities should have elevated him above all local and party  prejudices, declared publicly "that the original question of right ought "no longer to be considered;  that the justice of the cause must give way to the present situation;  that they were engaged in a war, and must use every effort to obtain the end proposed thereby."  [Debates in Parliament and Lord Mansfield's speech in the House of  Lords, December 1775.] If the politician can justify this sophistical reasoning, the dictates of justice  must lead the upright to revolt at the idea: a declaration so devoid  of the principles of rectitude, from a man of his lordship's celebrity, at once shocks the feelings of  equity and wounds the sensations of humanity.

The passions of some were irritated by this extraordinary speech of Lord Mansfield, and the  judgment of others convinced that America had nothing to expect either  from the justice or clemency of Parliament, under the influence of men of such abilities and  principles. Yet still the chimerical project of conquest and subjugation  

continued to be uniformly opposed by the dissenting Lords in one house and a melioration of the  American system urged in the other, on the strongest grounds of  reason, justice, policy, and humanity.  But a ministerial majority was astonishingly kept up in both,  and on a division on every question relative to the colonies, the  minority bore no proportion to the names in the other scale.

A war with America did not at this period appear to be the general wish of the nation at large; but  engaged in their own pleasures and pursuits, they seemed rather  inattentive to the object in dispute, as a matter that very little concerned them. There was indeed  some clamor among the great body of the merchants on the total  destruction of the American trade, and some of the manufacturing towns were disposed to be  riotous on the occasion.  But the danger of a foreign war or a final  dismemberment of the Empire was not generally apprehended by the people, though these  consequences were predicted by some sagacious heads, and the hearts of  the patriotic and compassionate were hurt by the anticipation of the impending evils.

Calling in the aid of foreigners, and introducing a large body of German mercenaries in British pay  to settle a domestic quarrel with the colonies was mortifying to the  pride and valor of every uncorrupted Englishman. But the torrent of secret influence was  irresistible; the expensive system was precipitated: prerogative and conquest  was the ministerial creed; power the princely object: and on the approbatory speech of the monarch,  when all was at hazard, there appeared a coolness that  bordered on apathy. Silence and submission were enjoined on the friends of America in the House  of Commons; and the liberty of writing their names and witnessing  their uneasiness by their own signature was all the consolation of the protesting lords, while these  important questions were in agitation. [On the prohibitory, the  Restraining Act, the interdiction of trade, and all other coercive bills, the usual rate of voices in  favor to them was from 120 to 150 -- the number of the minority  seldom more than 30 or 40. When they amounted to 40, it was thought a considerable acquisition.]

The debates in Parliament relative to colonial measures, the King's speech, and the rejection of the  late petition of the Continental Congress arrived in America  before the month of March, 1776. These were accompanied with the intelligence of the Hessian  Treaty, and that foreign auxiliaries from various other nations were  to be employed in the compulsory system, and that the barbarous strangers were to assist in the  entire subjugation of the colonies,  if not otherwise reduced to  unworthy submission.

On this information, the indignation of all ranks can scarcely be described. The King's speech was  condemned and ordered to be burnt in the center of the camp at  Cambridge. The wavering were resolved, the timid grew bold, the placid and philosophic lovers of  peace left the retired haunts of literary felicity; and beneath the  helmet and the buckler courted the post of danger: vigorous action was now the only line of  conduct to be observed through every department. Previous to any other  movement, it was judged important that the British forces should be immediately removed from  their stronghold in the town of Boston, lest the work should be  rendered more difficult on the arrival of fresh troops from Great Britain, now daily expected.

General Washington, sensible of this necessity, and that no more time was to be lost, opened a  severe cannonade on the western side, not far distant from the town,  on the evening of March 4. This was designed rather to divert attention within the walls than for  any important consequences expected from this maneuver without.  The Americans kept up a constant fire through the night, while several smaller works were erected  for the annoyance of the besieged. but the principal effect was  expected from the heights of Dorchester.  By the greatest industry and dispatch, a strong battery,  very unexpectedly to the enemy, appeared there on the morning of  the fifth, from whence the Americans played their artillery with ease on the town. The assailants,  under the direction of General Thomas, erected and extended their  works in such a judicious manner as to command the peninsula leading to Boston, Castle William,  and at the same time a considerable part of the harbor.

General Howe, mortified that such an advantageous post should have been so long neglected by  himself, and astonished at the appearance of such strong and  defensible works rising as it were in a night without noise or alarm in that quarter, did not long  hesitate on the part necessary for him to act in this critical conjuncture.   There remained no alternative between a bold and vigorous attempt to dislodge the Americans or  an immediate evacuation of the town. To fly on the first  appearance of danger was humiliating to the pride of the soldier, lessening his military honor and  sinking the dignity of the commander in chief.

A choice of difficulties lay before him. He was short of provisions. The soldiers had become  discontented with the service and fatigued with continual watching. An  immediate retreat might appear to him less disgraceful than the consequences of resistance under  many apparent disadvantages. On the other hand, chagrined at the  idea of drawing off seven or eight thousand of the best troops the King his master had in service,  without striking a blow, and relinquishing the only American town  they then had in possession to the undisciplined peasantry of the country, was still a more  humiliating thought.  From these considerations, he made all possible  preparation to dislodge the American troops the evening after they were discovered on the heights  of Dorchester.  But the intervention of the elements disconcerted  his operations: a tremendous storm of wind and rain prevented the dangerous enterprise, and saved  

the expense of much blood.

General Howe finding his design impracticable, in consequence of this disappointment, ordered an  embarkation to begin as soon as the tempest should subside. But  embarrassed by a crowd of refugees and other delinquents, who, conscious they could not rely on  their country for safety, had thrown themselves on his protection;  encumbered with women, children, furniture, soldiers, officers, and camp equipage; the  inconveniences and dangers of a voyage at the equinoctial season; the sterility  of the country [General Howe went from Boston to Halifax, Nova Scotia.] and the coldness of the  clime to which he must repair, with a discontented army and a  group of miserable, disappointed Tories, rendered the situation of the British commander in chief  truly pitiable. To add to the confusion of the scene, the strictest  harmony did not exist between the officers of the army and navy. This increased the difficulty of  accommodation on this unexpected emergency, when so many  

useless persons claimed protection and subsistence.

When the Americans saw the British troops about to depart, they did not offer to impede their  design in the smallest degree.  The cannonade was suspended, and  they beheld with an eye of compassion the extraordinary emigration of some hundreds of  disaffected Americans, whom they suffered to depart with the successless  army, without a wish to retard their flight.  These unhappy people took with them such of their  effects as the hurry of the occasion and their military masters would  permit.  General Washington, with a few troops, entered Boston, with the ensigns of triumph  displayed, and beheld the rear of the panic-struck army of Britain,  precipitately flying from a town that had long been the object of ministerial vengeance.

The bloodless victory on the one side, and the disgraceful flight on the other, was viewed with  pleasure and surprise, or with astonishment and grief, in proportion to  the political hopes and fears that agitated the various parties, who all considered the transactions of  the day replete with important consequences.  Every mark of  respect was externally shown to General Washington, even by those who were not well affected to  the cause in which he was engaged. Many of this class, more  culpable than some who went off with the British army, chose to stay and cast themselves at the  mercy of their countrymen, rather than to hazard the danger of a  voyage, the loss of property, and a separation from their families.

Some, much less criminal than these, and many really inoffensive persons, suddenly struck with  imaginary fears, abandoned their habitations and their country, which  by a little address they might quietly have possessed. Several very doubtful characters not only  acted with decent civility and condescension, but confidently assumed  merit to themselves as friends of the revolution: some of these were afterwards promoted to places  and offices of high trust. Indeed the loyalists in general who  stayed in Boston and chose to run all hazards rather than quit their native country, experienced  much clemency from the opposite party; yet, perhaps not in the full  latitude that policy might have dictated: but the impressions of danger and insult to which the  victors had long been exposed operated more powerfully in the minds of  many than the laws of forgiveness or the distant view of political consequences.

Thus a kind o inquisitorial court was erected in Boston, and some persons more warm than discreet  and more zealous than judicious, were appointed to decide on the  criminality of state delinquents, several of whom were adjudge to punishments rather ridiculous  than severe. This step tended only to strengthen the alienation of those  who had either from interest, treachery, timidity, or a passion for the splendor of monarchy,  enlisted under the banners of royalty, without any fixed principles in  religion or politics. Had the new government at this period passed an act of indemnity and oblivion  and proclaimed pardon to all who had incurred the public  resentment, excepting a few who had notoriously deserved proscription, it is probable many would  have returned to the bosom of their country and become faithful  subjects to the United States, when they could have done it without the imputation of being rebels  to their sovereign.  This consideration before the Declaration of  Independence had a conscientious influence on the minds of some who disapproved of the  ministerial encroachments, yet scrupled the right of resistance while the  legal subjects of the British Crown; but the line of separation soon after drown, the doubts of many  well-disposed persons were entirely dissipated.

After the evacuation of Boston, the succession of important events was too rapid for the mind to  dwell long on single incidents. It remained for some time uncertain  where the British army and navy would next direct their operations.  Though they sailed  immediately for Halifax, it was only to disembark their useless hands and  secure a rendezvous until fresh reinforcement should arrive from England.

The situation of the southern colonies at this time commanded the attention of every well-wisher to  the American cause.  Some time before the British troops left  Boston, General Clinton had been sent southward to the assistance of Governor Martin and Lord  William Campbell.  We have seen that before they left their  governments, they had instigated a number of the back settlers in the Carolinas to create  disturbances. These people, formerly aggrieved by their own government,  had styled themselves Regulators, had embodied for opposition, had resisted authority, and had  suffered severely. They were now persuaded that the same persons  who had some years before oppressed them were at this time in rebellion against their sovereign.  This opinion was strengthened by Governor Martin, who kept up a  correspondence with their leaders and invited them to repair to the  royal standard at Brunswick,  where they should be supported by a large body of the King's  troops.

Though, as observed, these people had been compelled to submission and had remained quiet a  number of years, yet their old antipathies were not obliterated.  Ignorant of the causes of the general uneasiness of the colonies and mistaken in character, they  united under the very men who had formerly exercised every severity  against them and their leaders. [Particularly a Colonel Fanning, a violent partisan of the Crown,  who had been in the former insurrection the executioner of most of  their principal leaders, without even the form of a trial.] These were joined by the Highlanders, who  had migrated in shoals after the rebellion in Scotland, in 1745.   They had suffered too much not to dread a second opposition to the authority of the King of  England.  These descriptions of men were for a time very troublesome  on the southern borders, more particularly of North Carolina; but by the spirit and activity of some  continental troops under the command of Brigadier General  More, the whole party was defeated. Their commanding officer Macdonald and most of the other  officers imprisoned, the unhappy remnant who escaped  imprisonment or death retreated to the woods; and all hope or fear from this quarter was  extinguished before the arrival of Sir Henry Clinton at Cape Fear.

As soon as it was discovered at Cambridge that General Clinton had left Boston, General Lee was  ordered to set forward to observe his maneuvers and prepare to  meet him with advantage in any part of the continent he might think proper to visit. No man was  better qualified at this early stage of the war to penetrate the designs  or to face in the field an experienced British veteran than General Lee.  He had been an officer of  character and rank in the late war between England and France.  [HE had served with reputation in Portugal, under the command of Count de la Lippe.] Fearless of  danger, fond of glory, he was calculated for the field, without any  of the graces that recommend the soldier to the circles of the polite. He was plain in his person even  to ugliness, and careless in his manners to a degree of rudeness.   He possessed a bold genius and an unconquerable spirit: his voice was rough, his garb ordinary, his  deportment morose. A considerable traveler, and well acquainted  with most of the European nations, he was frequently agreeable in narration and judicious and  entertaining in observation. Disgusted with the ministerial system, and  more so with his Sovereign who authorized it, he cherished the American cause from motives of  resentment, and a predilection in favor of freedom, more than from a  just sense of the rights of mankind.

Without religion or country, principle or attachment, gold was his deity, and liberty the idol of his  fancy. He hoarded the former without taste for its enjoyment, and  worshipped the latter as the patroness of licentiousness, rather than the protectress of virtue. He  affected to despise the opinion of the world, yet was fond of  applause. Ambitious of fame, without the dignity to support it, he emulated the heroes of antiquity  in the field, while in private life he sunk into the vulgarity of the  clown. Congress did wisely to avail themselves of his military experience in the infancy of a  confederated army, and still more wisely in placing him in a degree of  subordination. He was on the first list of continental officers, and only the Generals Washington  and Ward were named before him; but though nominally the third in  rank, as a soldier he was second to no man. The abilities of General Ward were better adapted to  the more quiet disquisitions of the cabinet than on the hostile and  dangerous scenes of the field or the camp, both of which he soon left and retired to private life,  wherein nothing remained to prevent this singular stranger from taking  the command of the armies of the United States but the life of Washington.

General Lee with his detachment from Cambridge reached New York and put it in a state of  defense before Sir Henry Clinton arrived there, though he had sailed  from Boston several days previous to its being known at Cambridge.  While at New York, Lee  drew up a list of suspected persons and disarmed them. He carried  his military authority so high that the Congress of that state thought proper to check his career.  They informed him that the trial and punishment of their citizens  belonged to themselves and not to any military character.  He apologized by observing that "when  the enemy were at the door, forms must be dispensed with; that  his duty to them, to the continent, and to his conscience dictated the measure; that if he had done  wrong, he would submit himself to the shame of being imputed rash;  but that he should still have the consolation in his own breast that pure motives of serving the  community, uncontaminated by individual resentment, had urged him to  those steps."

The movements of General Lee were so rapid that, to the surprise of Sir Henry Clinton, he was in  Virginia before him. But as the object of the British armament was  still farther south, Lee, with uncommon celerity, traversed the continent, met General Clinton in  North Carolina, and was again ready for the defense of Sullivan's  Island, near Charleston in South Carolina, before the arrival of the British troops under the  command of General Clinton.

Sir Peter Parker had appeared off Cape Fear in the month of May, 1776, with a considerable  squadron of line-of-battle ships, and a number of transports containing  several regiments of land forces, and a heavy train of artillery. A body of troops commanded by  Lord Cornwallis and General Vaughan were soon after landed on  Long Island: the design was to unite with General Clinton and reduce Charleston, the rich capital of  South Carolina.  This state had thrown off their allegiance,  assumed a government of their own, and chosen John Rutledge, Esquire, their chief magistrate,  under the style and title of President.

Notwithstanding the parade of immediate attack, near a month elapsed in total inaction before the  assault on Sullivan's Island was begun by the British naval  commander.  In the mean time, the Americans were strongly posted there.  The engagement took  place on June 29, and was conducted with great spirit and bravery  on both sides. The highest encomiums are justly due to the valor and intrepidity of the British  officers and seamen; and notwithstanding the courage and ability of  General Gadsden, the vigor, activity, and bravery of General Moultrie, and the experience and  military knowledge of General Lee, it is probable the action would  have terminated more to the honor of the British navy, had they been properly supported by the  land forces.

It remains yet to be investigated why no attempt was made by the troops on Long Island to cause a  diversion on the other side, which would doubtless have altered  the whole face of the action.  But whether from a series of unexpected resistance, their imaginations  had become habituated to view everything through the medium  of danger, or whether from a degree of caution that sometimes betrays the brave into the  appearance of timidity, or from any jealousies subsisting between the  commandeers is uncertain.  However, this neglect occasioned loud complaints among the officers  of the navy; nor was it easy for Lord Cornwallis and General  Clinton, though high on the rolls of military fame, to wipe off the aspersions thrown on their  conduct. Even their apologies for their own inactivity, instead of  exculpating themselves, were rather a testimony of the skill, ability, ;and vigor of their antagonists,  who, in so short a time, were prepared to bid defiance to the  combined force of Britain, though commanded by sea and land, by officers of acknowledged merit  in the line of their profession.

Many brave officers of the navy fought with valor and spirit that would have been truly glorious in  a more honorable cause. One instance of this, among many others  of the unfortunate who fell on the occasion, was the valiant and spirited Captain Morris of the  Bristol. He lost an arm by a ball in the beginning of the engagement,  and while retired to dress his wounds, two of his surgeons were killed by his side before they had  finished the operation. On this, the captain, with his usual  intrepidity, resumed his command. When he immediately received a shot through the body and had  time only to observe before he expired that "he consigned his  family to God and his country."  After an obstinate engagement of ten or twelve hours, the sailors  disheartened, and their officers wounded [Lord William Campbell,  governor of South Carolina, who had taken refuge on board one of the king's ships, was mortally  wounded in the attack on Fort Moultrie.], the shattered fleet with  difficulty retired to the distance of three or four miles from the fort, and in a few days put  themselves in a condition to withdraw to the general rendezvous before  New York.

The triumph of the Americans in this success, who had always justly dreaded the naval power of  Britain, was in equal proportion to the chagrin of their enemies, thus  repulsed in a quarter where, from the locality of circumstances, they least expected it.  The  

multitude of manumitted slaves, and the aristocratic spirit of many of the  principal planters had flattered them with the idea that in the southern colonies they should meet  but a feeble resistance. Lord Dummore, who had joined in the  expedition, continued several weeks after the repulse, to cruise about the borders of Virginia and  the Carolinas, with his little fleet of fugitives and slaves.  But, as the  mid-summer heats increased, a pestilential fever raged on board, which carried off many of the  refugees, and swept away most of the miserable negroes he had  decoyed from their masters. Forbidden admittance wherever he attempted to land, and suffering for  provisions, he burnt several of his vessels. The remainder,  except one in which he sheltered himself and family, and two other ships of war for his protection,  he sent laden with the wretched victims of his folly and cruelty, to  seek some kind of subsistence in the Floridas, Bermudas, and the West Indies.

Lord Howe had been long expected with his motley mercenaries from Hesse, Hanover, and  Brunswick. His brother Sir William, after a disagreeable residence of  two or three months at Halifax, did not think proper to wait longer there the arrival of his lordship.  Miserably accommodated and painful agitated by the recollection  of his disgraceful flight from Boston, anxious for intelligence from Europe, and distressed by the  delay of recruits and supplies, without which little could be done to  retrieve his suffering fame, he quitted that station, accompanied by Admiral Shuldham, and arrived  at Sandy Hook June 29. On his passage to New York, he  accidentally fell in with a few scattering transports from England, which he took under his  protection, while many less fortunate were captured by the American  cruisers.

General Howe was, soon after this arrival in New York, joined by the repulsed troops from the  southward, and the broken squadron under the command of Sir  Peter Parker; by a regiment from St. Augustine, another from Pensacola, also by a few troops from  St. Vincents, some small additions from other posts, and a  considerable party of loyalists from New Jersey, and from the environs of Philadelphia and New  York, which by great industry had been collected and embodied by  Governor Tryon.  Notwithstanding this acquisition of strength, he found the continental army so  strongly posted on Long Island and New York, that he did not  immediately attempt anything of consequence.

Immediately after the evacuation of Boston, General Washington had sent on the army in  detachments, and when he had made some necessary arrangements for the  future defense of the eastern states, he hastened on himself to New York, where he had made all  possible preparation for the reception of General Howe. It has just  been observed that the British commander had collected all his strength and called in the forces  from every quarter of America except Canada, where under the  direction of Generals Carleton and Burgoyne, measures were ripening for a junction at Albany,  with the expected conquerors of the more southern colonies.  But in  the present circumstance of affairs, General Howe thought proper to land his troops at Staten Island  and wait more favorable appearances which he had reason to  expect on the arrival of his brother, an event hourly and anxiously looked for.

His lordship was considered by many in America as a harbinger of peace, though advancing in all  the pride and pomp of war, accompanied by the ready  executioners of every hostile design. It was reported that the commander of a formidable equipment  both for sea and land service came out in a double capacity; that  though prepared for offensive operations, Lord Howe had yet a commission from his royal master  to accommodate the disputes and to restore tranquility to the  colonies, on generous and equitable terms. The augurs of each party predicted the consequences of  this ministerial maneuver, and interpreted the designs of his  lordship's commission, according to their own hopes, fears, or expectations.

In the infancy of her emancipation, America was not such an adept in the science of political  intrigue, but that many yet flattered themselves that an accommodation  might take place, and the halcyon days might be restored by the interposition of the two brothers,  Lord and General Howe, joined in the commission of peace under  the sanction of royal indulgence.  But more judicious men saw through and despised the bubble of  policy, which held a pardon in one hand and a poniard in the   other, with the detestable offer of assassination or slavery.  They considered the mode of  pacification proposed as at once an insult to the feelings, and an affront to  the understandings of a people too serious for trifling when all was at stake and too wise to be  cajoled by superficial appearances.  Yet, those best acquainted with  the situation and character, the genius and  connections of the inhabitants of the middle colonies,  were not surprised to find many among them who seemed ready to  embrace such humiliating conditions, as the safety, the interest, the honor and justice of America.,  were bound to reject.

It was well  known that from the beginning of the grand contest, the lamp of liberty had not burnt  so bright in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania as in some  other parts of America.  Though there was a party in New York strongly attached to the cause of  the colonies there had been early reason to suppose that some  men of high consideration in that state were not entirely proof against the influence of ministerial  gold. New Jersey was the retreat of the timid, the disaffected, and  the lovers of inglorious ease, from each corner of America. They thought they might rest secure  from the ravages of war, as the torch which was lighted at both ends  might be extinguished before it penetrated to the center.

The Quakers and the proprietary interest long hung as a dead weight on the spirited measures of the  genuine friends of freedom and of their country, both in  Pennsylvania and Maryland. But the incidents of a few months connected every interest, and  brought almost every dissentient voice into union, and hastened on an  event that everyone considered as decisive of the fate of America.  The necessity of a Declaration  of Independence was acknowledged by all: even Maryland, the  last state of the union that came into the measure and whose delegates seceded on the question of  independence, was among the first who erected their own  government and established their own modes of legislation, independent of proprietors or kings.

"The dread of slavery in free nations has at all times produced more virtues than the principles of  their political institutions." [Travels of Anacharsis.] This dread hung  heavily on the most sober and judicious, the most wise and virtuous part of the inhabitants of  America. They were sensible that both public and private virtue sink  with the loss of liberty, and that the nobler emulations which are drawn out and adorn the soul of  man, when not fettered by servility, frequently hide themselves in the  shade or shrink into littleness at the frown of a despot. They felt too much for themselves and  feared too much for posterity, longer to balance between either  complete or partial submission, or an unreserved and entire claim of absolute independence.

These ideas precipitated the important era when a connection was dissolved, the continuance of  which both nature and affection seemed to require. Great Britain, the  revered parent, and America, the dutiful child, had long been bound together by interest, by a  sameness of habits, manners, religion, laws, and government. The  recollection of their original consanguinity had always been cherished with an amiable sensibility,  or a kind of mechanic enthusiasm, that promoted mutual felicity  when they met on each other's shores or in distant lands saluted each other in the same language.

A dereliction of old habits of friendship and attachment was far from the wish of many, who had  yet strongly opposed the ministerial system. But the period was  now arrived when American felt her wrongs, without hope of redress and supported her own rights  by assuming her rank as a distinct nation on the political theater.   

We shall see her relinquish at once all hopes of protection, or fears of control, from the sovereignty  of Britain.  The reverential awe with which she had formerly  viewed her potent parent was laid aside, and every effort made to forget her fond attachment for a  people that from her earliest infancy she had looked up to as  fathers, brothers, and friends.

The severities of the British government towards the American colonies had not yet taught them to  express themselves in any other modes of language but what  indicated their firm attachment to the mother country; nor had they erased the habitual ideas, even  of tenderness, conveyed as their usual modes of expression .  When they formed a design to visit England, I had always been thus announced, "I am going  home." Home, the seat of happiness, the retreat to all the felicities of the  human mind, is too intimately associated with the best feelings of the heart to renounce without  pain, whether applied to the natural or the political parent.


Note 16

The many protests of a number of the House of Lords, which appeared from time to time against  the high measures of a majority in Parliament, epitomize the  American grievances in a point of view that exhibited the opinion at the time, of a very  considerable part of the most judicious and unprejudiced persons through the  nation, both in and out of Parliament.  These protests may be found in a variety of British  publications.

This general favorable disposition toward the Americans in the early part of the contest was  evinced by numberless circumstances; a crimination of the measures of  administration against the colonies, existed on both sides of the Tweed, and indeed throughout the  kingdom.  Many letters and other excellent writings on the subject  of civil and religious liberty were transmitted from England to America, from the year 1755, until  the period when hostilities commenced. Among the numberless  instances that might be adduced, of the spirit and disposition of the writers of those times, we will  here only give the following extract of a letter form the Earl of  Buchan to Mr. Otis; this was accompanied by some very excellent essays on the subject of  liberty,  and by several portraits of his person, adorned at the foot with a  cap of liberty in the center of an annexed motto, "Ubi libertas, ibi patria."

"London January 26, 1768


"I take the liberty of transmitting to you the enclosed representations of a man strongly attached to  the principles of that invaluable liberty, without which no real  happiness can subsist anywhere.

"My family has often bled in the support it; and descended as I am from the English Henrys and  Edwards, I glory more in the banishment of my great-grandfather,  Lord Cardross to Carolina and the stand made by Lord Halifax, my ancestor, than in all that title  and descent can give me.

"You may dispose of the other prints to the lovers of my principles; and I beg you will be so good  as to transmit four of them to Messrs... as eminent defenders of  those doctrines in the church, which are so intimately connected with liberty in the state... Lord  Chatham [Lord Chatham afterwards totally reprobated the conduct  of administration towards the colonies.] has forsaken you, having loved this world; but his favorite,  your humble servant, will not, I trust, ever follow his steps.

"I am, sir, with great regard, Your most obedient, humble servant,


"James Otis, Esquire, Boston."


Chapter Nine:  Declaration of Independence. Lord Howe's arrival in America. Action on Long  Island. Retreat of the Americans  through the Jerseys and the loss of Forts Washington and Lee. Affairs in Canada. Surprise of the  Hessians at Trenton. Various  transactions in the Jerseys. General Howe's retreat. Makes headquarters at Brunswick. His  indecisions. Some traits of his  character.

 The commissioners who had been announced as the messengers of peace were now hourly  expected. But the dubious aspect of their mission and the equivocal  character in which they were about to appear was far from lulling to inattention the guardians of the  cause of America.  Their errand was ostensibly to restore peace  to the colonies; but many circumstances combined to evince that the design was in reality to furnish  new pretexts for the prosecution of the war, with redoubled  vigor. Thus was the Continental Congress fully convinced of the impropriety of longer holding  themselves in suspense by desultory hopes, or the uncertain termination  of their expectations or their fears. They were sensible the step they were about to take would either  set their country on the pinnacle of human glory, or plunge it in  the abject state into which turbulent and conquered colonies have been generally reduced. Yet they  wisely judged that this was a proper period to break the shackles  and renounce all political union with the parent state, by a free and bold declaration of the  independence of the American States. This measure had been  contemplated by some gentlemen in the several colonies some months before it took place.  They  had communicated their sentiments to the individual members of  Congress, but that body had been apprehensive that the people at large were not prepared to unite in  a step so replete with important consequences. But the  moment of decision had now arrived when both the Congress and the inhabitants of the colonies  advanced too far to recede.

Richard Henry Lee, Esquire, a delegate from the state of Virginia, a gentleman of distinguished  ability, uniform patriotism, and unshaken firmness and integrity, was  the first who dared explicitly to propose that this decided measure, on which hung such mighty  consequences, should no longer be delayed. This public and  unequivocal proposal, from a man of his virtue and shining qualities, appeared to spread a kind of  sudden dismay.  A silent astonishment for a few minutes seemed to  pervade the whole assembly: this was soon succeeded by a long debate, and a considerable division  of sentiment on the important question.

After the short silence just observed, the measure proposed by Mr. Lee was advocated with peculiar  zeal by John Adams, Esquire, of the Massachusetts Bay. He  rose with a face of intrepidity and the voice of energy, and invoked the god of eloquence to enable  him to do justice to the cause of his country and to enforce this  important step in such a manner as might silence all opposition and convince every one of the  necessity of an immediate declaration of the independence of the  United States of America.

Mr. John Dickinson of Pennsylvania took the lead in opposition to the boldness and danger of this  decided measure. He had drawn the petition to the King  forwarded by Mr. Penn, and though no man was more strenuous in support of the rights of the  colonies, he had always been averse to a separation from Britain, and  shuddered at the idea of an avowed revolt of the American colonies. He arose on this occasion with  no less solemnity than Mr. Adams had recently done, and with  equal pathos of expression, and more  brilliance of epithet, he invoked the Great Governor of the  Universe, to animate him with powers of language sufficient to  exhibit a view of the dread consequences to both countries that such a hasty dismemberment of the  Empire might produce. He descanted largely on the happy effects  that might probably ensue from more patient and conciliatory dispositions, and urged at least a  temporary suspension of a step that could never be revoked. He  declared that it was his opinion that even policy forbade the precipitation of this measure and that  humanity more strongly dictated that they ought to wait longer the  success of petitions and negotiations, before they formally renounced their allegiance to the King of  Great Britain, broke off all connection with England, plunged  

alone into an unequal war, and rushed without allies into the unforeseen and inevitable dangers that  attended it.

The consequences of such a solemn act of separation were indeed of serious and extensive  magnitude. The energy of brilliant talents, and great strength of argument  were displayed by both parties on this weighty occasion. The reasons urging the necessity of  decision, and the indubitable danger of delay were clear and cogent; the  objections, plausible, humane, and important.  But after a fair discussion of the question, an  accurate statement of the reasons for adopting the measure and a candid  scrutiny of the objections against it, grounded either on policy or humanity, a large majority of the  members of Congress appeared in favor of an immediate  renunciation of allegiance to the Crown, or any future subjugation to the King of Great Britain.

A declaration of the independence of America [See Note 17 at the end of this chapter], and the  sovereignty of the United States was drawn by the ingenious and  philosophic pen of Thomas Jefferson, Esquire, a delegate from the state of Virginia. [This wise and  patriotic statesman was afterwards appointed ambassador to the  court of France. On the adoption of the present constitution of government, he was appointed  secretary for foreign affairs, was chosen vice president, and  afterwards president of the United States of America.] The delegates from twelve [The members  from Maryland seceded, but in a short time after joined the  confederation.] of the American States agreed almost unanimously to this declaration, the language,  the principles, and the spirit of which were equally honorable to  themselves and their country. It was signed by John Hancock, then president of Congress, on July  4, 1776.

The allegiance of 13 states at once withdrawn by a solemn declaration from a government  towards which they had looked with the highest veneration; whose  authority they had acknowledged, whose laws they had obeyed, whose protection they had claimed  for more than a century and a half -- was a consideration of  solemnity, a bold resolution, an experiment of hazard: especially when the infancy of the colonies  as a nation, without wealth, resources, or allies, was contrasted with  the strength, riches, and power of Great Britain. The timid trembled at the ideas of final separation;  the disciples of passive obedience were shocked by a reflection  of a breach of faith to their ancient sovereign; and the enemies to the general freedom of mankind  were incensed to madness or involved in despair. But these classes  bore a small proportion to those who resented the rejection of their petitions and coolly surveyed  the impending dangers that threatened themselves and their  children, which rendered it clear to their apprehension that this step was necessary to their political  salvation. They considered themselves no longer bound by any  moral tie, to render fealty to a sovereign thus disposed to encroach on their civil freedom, which  they could now secure only by a social compact among themselves,  and which they determined to maintain or perish in the attempt.

By the Declaration of Independence, dreaded by the foes an for a time doubtfully viewed by many  of the friends of America, everything stood on a new and more  respectable footing, both with regard to the operations of war or negotiations with foreign powers.   Americans could now no more be considered as rebels in their  proposals for treaties of peace and conciliation with Britain.  They were a distinct people, who  claimed the rights, the usage, the faith, and the respect of nations,  uncontrolled by any foreign power.  The colonies thus irretrievably lost to Great Britain, a new face  appeared on all affairs both at home and abroad.

America had been little known among the kingdoms of Europe. She was considered only as an  appendage to the power of Britain. The principles of her sons were in  some respects dissimilar, and their manners not yet wrought up to the standard of refinement  reigning in ancient courts. Her statesmen in general were unacquainted  with the intrigues necessary for negotiations and the finesse usually hackneyed in and about the  cabinets of princes. She now appeared in their eyes a new theater,  pregnant with events that might be interesting to the civil and political institutions of nations, that  had never before paid much attention to the growth, population, and  importance of an immense territory beyond the Atlantic.

The United States had their ambassadors to create or to transplant from the bar or the counting  house.  Their generals were, many of them, the yeomanry or the  tradesmen of the country. Their subordinate officers had been of equal rank and fortune, and the  army to be governed was composed of many of the old  associates  of the principal officers and were equally tenacious of personal liberty.  The regalia of power,  orders of nobility, and the splendor of courts had been by them viewed  only at a distance. The discipline of armies was entirely new. The difficulty of connecting many  distinct states to act as it were by one will, the expenses of  government in new exigencies, and the waste of war had not yet been accurately calculated by their  politicians and statesmen. But their senators, their  representatives, and their magistrates were generally sagacious and vigilant, upright and firm.  There officers were brace., their troops in spirits, and with a full  confidence in their command in chief. Hope was exhilarated by the retreat from Boston, and the  repeated successes of their arms at the southward; while new dignity  was added to office, and stronger motives for illustrious action by the rank America had now taken  among the nations. Thus, by the Declaration of Independence,  they had new ground to tread. The scene of action was changed. Genius was called forth from  every quarter of the continent, and the public expectation enhanced  by the general favorable appearance in all their military operations.

In this situation stood affairs, both in the cabinet and in the field, when Lord Howe arrived at Staten  Island, with a formidable squadron under his command, on July  12, 1776. At the head of this hostile arrangement, his Lordship came in full confidence of success.   Yet amid the splendor and parade of war, while he held out his  potent arm, he still cherished the delusory hope of peace.

By a pompous declaration, he early announced his pacific powers to the principal magistrates of the  several colonies, and promised pardon to all who, in late times,  had deviated from their allegiance, on condition that they would speedily return to their duty, ad  gave encouragement that they should, on compliance, hereafter reap  the benefit of royal favor. Lord Howe observed in his declaration "that the commissioners were  authorized in his Majesty's name to declare any province, colony,  county, district, or town to be at peace of his Majesty, and that due consideration should be had to  the meritorious services of any who should aid or assist in  restoring the public tranquility; that their dutiful representations should be received, pardons  granted, and suitable encouragement to such as would promote the  measures of legal government and peace, in pursuance of His Majesty's most gracious purposes."  [This declaration and the consequent resolves of Congress may be  seen at large in the public journals of the sessions of 1776.]

Congress ordered the declaration to be immediately published in all the American gazettes, that the  people of the Untied States might be fully informed of the terms  of peace; that they might see for themselves that the business of the commissioners was to amuse,  disunite, and deceive them; and that those who still continued in  suspense from hopes founded either on the justice or moderation of the Court of Great Britain  might now be fully convinced that their own valor, virtue, and firmness  must rescue and preserve the freedom of their country. [The American Congress were not remiss at  this time in exerting their efforts to detach foreigners from the  service of Britain, and alluring them to become inhabitants of the United States, by promising them  a quiet residence, an allotment of lands, and a security from all  interruptions in the enjoyment of their religious opinions, and the investiture of all the privileges of  native citizens.]

The next advance His Lordship made for the execution of his commission was by a flag sent on  shore within a few days after his arrival, with a letter directed to  George Washington, Esquire. By their principles and their professions, the Americans were taught  at this period to look down on titles and distinguished ranks. Yet,  in this instance, they did not think proper to pass over the implicit denial of either to their  commander in chief. It was viewed as a designed affront from those who  consider such adventitious circumstances of so much consequence, as carefully to avoid all  honorary epithets in their addresses to the first officers of the United  States. It was thought more becoming the dignity of his station, both as a soldier and a patriot, for  the chief commander to refuse an address that tacitly denied the  legality of his commission and the right now claimed of negotiating on terms of equality. This letter  was, therefore, by the advice of the principal officers, returned  unopened.

This drew out a second advance from the hands of the British commissioners, when Major  Patterson, adjutant general of the army, was charged with a letter  directed to George Washington, etc. He was receive din military state and treated with great  politeness in the American camp. His Lordship in this second address  expressed the highest respect for the private character of General Washington, but as he did not yet  condescend to acknowledge the commander in chief of the  American troops as anything more than a rebel in arms, this letter was also returned without  breaking the seal.

Many civilities passed in this interview with Mr. Patterson, who did not forget to insinuate his own  wishes for the restoration of friendship and harmony between the  two countries. He, with due propriety, made several observations on the extensive powers vested in  the commissioners of this salutary purpose. This introduced  some general conversation relative to the treatment of prisoners on both sides. The conference was  of some length, but as no circumstance indicated a happy result  from the negotiation, General Washington, in the most explicit terms, informed the British adjutant  general that the inhabitants of the American States were generally  of opinion that a people armed in defense of their rights were in the way of their duty; that  conscious of no criminality, they needed no pardon; and as his Lordship's  commission extended no farther, nothing important could be expected from protracting the  negotiation.

In the mean time, reinforcements were daily dropping in to the assistance of the British army. The  scattered divisions of Hessians, Waldeckers, etc. designed for the  summer campaign had been somewhat retarded by not knowing with certainty the spot destined for  headquarters. They had some of them sailed directly for Halifax.  This occasioned a delay of any energetic movement until the latter part of the month of August,  when the British army began to act with vigor.

General Washington had rather incautiously encamped the bulk of his army on Long Island -- a  large and plentiful district about two miles from the city of New  York. This island contained many settlements, through an extend of 120 miles in length. It was  inhabited principally by loyalists and persons generally disaffected to  the American cause. Many were at a loss for a reason, nor indeed could any conjecture why the  commander of the American army should hazard his troops on an  island liable at any moment to be surrounded by the British navy. However it was, several thousand  Americans were there posted, under the command of Generals  Putnam, Sullivan, and William Alexander, Lord Stirling.

Sir William Howe very wisely judged that it was a less arduous and a more promising undertaking  to dislodge the Americans from their encampment on the island  than a direct attempt to reduce New York.  The royal army at that time consisted of about 30,000  men. These he found no difficulty in landing from Staten Island,  and in detachments posted them from one end of Long Island to the other, separated from the  Americans by a ridge of hills covered with woods.  Very fortunately  for the enterprise of the British, one of the American out-guards early fell into the hands of General  Clinton. In consequence of some intelligence gained by this  accident, he, before daylight on the morning of August 27, possessed himself of some very  advantageous heights and made such a judicious arrangement of his  troops as might have insured success even had the Americans been better prepared for the attack  which at that time was rather unexpected.  The assault was begun by the Hessian General de Heister. He opened the cannonade in front of the  American lines early on the morning of August 28. A general  engagement speedily ensured. Nearly the whole of the British forces were called into action, under  the command of Sir Henry Clinton, Earl Percy, and Lord  Cornwallis. By some fatal neglect, a very important post was left unguarded by the American,  which was seized by the British troops, who fought on this occasion  with a spirit and bravery becoming the experienced commander and the hardy veteran.  The  American troops were early deranged. Apprised of their danger, they  with great resolution endeavored to recover their camp; but nearly surrounded by the British, and  pushed in the center by the Hessians, they were so far from  effecting their design that their retreat was nearly cut off. Yet many of them desperately fought  their way through some of the British lines and again bravely stood on  their defense. Others, entangled in the woods and marshes through which they endeavored to  escape, were either captured or perished in the attempt.

In the midst of the general anxiety of the danger and distress of the little army on Long Island,  General Washington, undoubtedly anxious to retrieve his mistake in  thus exposing them, passed over from New York to endeavor to secure the retreat of the surviving  troops. This was executed in the night of August 29, without  noise or tumult. The remainder of the broken regiments that had outlived the fatal action,  abandoned the island with a considerable part of their baggage, some  artillery, and military stores, and without molestation reached the city of New York. They had  made a bold and resolute stand, against far superior numbers and  discipline; and it may be deemed fortunate that any of them escaped, as on a island they might  easily have been hemmed in by a small number of British ships.   Perhaps the commanders on both sides were afterwards sensible of their error, the one in hazarding  his troops in such an exposed situation, the other in suffering a  single American to escape either captivity or death.

The loss of men in this action was not inconsiderable on either side, but it fell most heavily on the  Americans.  Many brave men perished by the sword; others, as  was observed, were lost in the morasses and swamps to which they had fled on the defeat. Three  general officers and a large number of inferior rank were made  prisoners. A regiment of valiant young men from Maryland, many of them of family and fortune,  commanded by the gallant Colonel Smallwood, were almost to a  man cut off.  The misfortune of the day was severely felt by them, but without checking the ardor  of the American army, the people or the Continental Congress.   The same uniform dignity and unruffled superiority of mind appeared in the judicious  determinations of the united delegates, in the conduct of the state departments,  and in the subsequent firmness of most o the military officers as before this defeat. But the success  of their arms and the acquisition of Long Island exhilarated the  spirits of the British and gave hopes of more compliant dispositions and a more ready acquiescence  in the requisitions of ministers or the veto of kings: and that the  business of the commissioners might now be brought forward without farther impediment.

Not many days after the retreat from Long Island, Congress was called upon to exhibit a new proof  of their firmness.  General Sullivan, one of the captured officers,  was dispatched on parole with a message to that assembly, in the joint names of Lord and General  Howe.  The purport of the message was that they had full powers  and that they were disposed to treat on terms of accommodation and peace. At the same time they  intimated that as Congress was not considered in the eye of  Majesty as a legal assembly, they only desired a private conference with a few individuals  belonging to that body in the character and capacity of private gentlemen.   To this extraordinary request, which threw them into a very delicate situation, Congress replied that  as delegates of a free and independent people, they could with  no propriety send any of the members of Congress in a private capacity on an errand so replete with  public consequences. But they would depute a committee from  their body to inquire by what authority and on what terms His Lordship and brother were  empowered to negotiate.

The insidious message received had no tendency to eradicate the previous opinion of Congress that  this was but a ministerial pretext to palliate their injurious designs.  They were convinced that the commission of the agents was derogatory to the great national  councils and to that high authority which had vested the British  commissioners with no powers, but to pardon those who deemed themselves guiltless and with no  conciliatory proposals at which freemen would not spurn, unless  driven to despair. Yet they condescended so far to this political trifling as to depute a very  respectable committee to meet Lord Howe and confer on the subject. The  celebration Doctor Franklin, the Honorable Mr. Rutledge of South Carolina, and John Adams,  Esquire, of the Massachusetts were the persons chosen for this  singular interview.

On a stipulated day, they met his Lordship on Staten Island, accompanied only by Mr. Strachey, his  secretary. He received them with much civility, but conversed  equivocally; and though careful not to be explicit, it did not require the penetration of men of far  less superior abilities to discover that he was restricted to very  narrow limits for a negotiator between contending nations.  It was evident that he had no plan of  accommodation, or any proposals for amity, on any terms but those  of absolute and unconditional submission.  Yet these gentlemen patiently attended to the  circumvolutions of His Lordship, who observed neither precision or  perspicuity in his modes of conversing; nor could he disguise an apparent embarrassment under the  display of affability and good humor.  It was even painful to see a  British nobleman, endowed with talents for the most honorable employments, thus reduced to act  under a veil of intrigue, inconsistent with the character of the  gentleman or the man of business. [The above detail of the interview on Staten Island was soon  after verbally related to the author of these annals by one of the  committee of conference.]

This conference continued three or four hours, when a short and frugal repast concluded a  negotiation that had fed many well-meaning people with delusory hopes  and for several months had been the subject of political speculation both in Europe and America.   This singular interview had indeed little other effect than, on the  one side, to rivet that strong disgust which before existed, against the treacherous councils of the  British ministry and Parliament, and, on the other, to convince more  perfectly the agents of monarchy of the determined spirit of America, and the ability of men with  whom she had entrusted the security of her rights. However, when  the parties took leave of each other, it was not without some tender emotions.  Dr. Franklin had been  in long habits of friendship and intimacy with Lord Howe. They  had in England frequently conversed, and afterwards corresponded on the parliamentary dispute  with America. Their regard for each other was mutual, and as there  was now every reason to suppose this would be the last personal interview between them, the idea  was painful that this political storm might sweep away all remains  of private friendship. [In a similar conversation between Lord Howe and Doctor Franklin, His  Lordship expressed a regard for the Americans and the pain he felt for  their approaching sufferings.  Doctor Franklin, in his easy sententious manner, thanked him for his  regards, and assured him that "the Americans would show their  gratitude by endeavoring to lessen as much as possible all pain he might feel on their account by  exerting their utmost abilities in taking good care of themselves."]

It was not long after all ideas of negotiation were relinquished before the commissioners and their  Sovereign had the most positive proofs that though the villages  might be stained with the crimson tide that threatened to deluge the land, yet freedom in her last  asylum would resist the designs of all who had sighed for her  annihilation, to the last moment of her existence.

The late defeat of the Americans and the entire possession of Long Island threw accumulated  advantages into the hand of the British commander, who made  immediate preparation to attack and take possession of the city of New York. In consequence of  these movements, General Washington, advised by the most  judicious of his officers [General Lee particularly, who had just arrived from Georgia. He, by  urging this advice, may be said to share in the merit of saving the  American army.], thought it prudent to evacuate the city without further delay. It would indeed  have been madness to have attempted a longer defense with his  diminished numbers, against a potent army flushed with recent success.  The American army was  drawn off from above Kingsbridge on October 21, but a day  before the British took possession of the city.  General Washington encamped his retreating troops  on the heights of Harlem, about nine miles distance from  Kingsbridge. When General Howe took possession of the evacuated post, he must from this event  undoubtedly have felt some consolation for the mortification he  had suffered on recollecting the circumstances of his flight from Boston. The alternate triumph or  chagrin, from the uncertain chances and events of war, are generally  of short duration: the Americans now in their turn experienced the pains of anxiety,  disappointment, and want, through a rapid flight from post to post, before a  victorious army, who despised their weakness and ridiculed their want of discipline.

General Howe placed a strong detachment in the garrison for the defense of the city of New York,  and immediately marched with the main body of his army in  pursuit of Washington.  He crossed East River, seized a point of land near West Chester, and made  himself master of the lower road to Connecticut, with design to  impede the intercourse between the northern and southern states. By this movement, he also hoped  to impel the American commander, at every hazard, to risk an  engagement that might probably have been decisive.  But General Washington was too well  acquainted with human nature to suffer his troops, though ardent for  action and impatient of delay, to trust to the impulse of constitutional courage and expose the  reputation of the American arms and the decision of the great contest to  the uncertain events of a day under the present disadvantages of number and discipline.  A second  defeat in so short a time would undoubtedly have spread dismay  and perhaps a defection that might have been fatal to the independence of America. [This opinion  as corroborated by the behavior of the Americans when the British  landed from Kepp's Bay, September 15. They discovered a timidity that nothing can excuse, but  their recent sufferings on Long Island, their inferior numbers, and  their dread of the superior discipline of British troops.] He was sensible his troops, though naturally  brave, were not sufficiently inured to danger, and hardened by  experience, to raise the mind to that sublime pitch of enthusiasm and inflexibility necessary to stand  their ground against superior strength, discipline, and numbers.   He therefore determined, by cautious and guarded marches, to keep in flank with the British army,  until circumstances might put it in his power to combat on more  equal terms.

He place a strong party in Fort Washington, a fortress near Kingsbridge, which, though well  provided, was at the time judged not tenable by some of his best  officers.  This opinion was over-ruled, and between three and four thousand men were left there.   This was considered by many a second fatal mistake of the  renowned Washington. [General Washington, however, was undoubtedly advised to this step by  several of his best officers.] With the remainder of the army, the  commander in chief decamped and moved towards the high grounds on the upper road to Boston.   The possession of this part of the country was an important  object; of consequence, the Americans were closely pursued by General Howe, who did not yet  relinquish his hopes of a decisive action.

Frequent skirmishes had taken place on the route, without material advantages on either side; but  on October 28, the British overtook the American army near the  White Plains, thirty miles distant from New York City, when an action of moment ensued. The  attack was begun by the Hessians, the forlorn hope of the British  army.  They were commanded by General de Hister and Colonel Rhal. Equal resolution animated  both parties, and a considerable slaughter among the troops on  both sides took place. [Among the slain was the valiant Colonel Smallwood, whose regiment was  nearly cut to pieces in the action on Long Island.] The Americans,  unable to bear these losses, fully apprised of the strength of the enemy, and that reinforcements had  recently arrived under Lord Percy, both the American  commander and the army were equally willing to take a more distant position.

The British army had gained several very important advantages, among which was the command of  the River Bronx, which was passed by Colonel Rhal, who by this  means acquired a very important post, which enable him essentially to annoy the American army.

The action on the White Plains was a well-fought battle on both sides; but the Americans had  neither the numbers, the experience, nor the equipments for war, at that  time, which rendered them equally able to cope with the strength, the numbers, the preparation, and  the valor of the British army, under officers whose trade had  long been that of war. And though the American commander made his escape with his small  armament, and retreated with all the prudence and firmness of a general  who had been longer tried in the field of action, the British had certainly a right in this affair to  boast a complete victory. [The town of White Plains was set on fire  after the action, and all the houses and forage near the lines burnt.  This the British charge to the  account of the American commander.]

After the engagement, General Washington found it necessary to quit the field.  He drew back in  the night to his entrenchments, and the next day took possession of  some higher grounds, about the distance of two miles.

General Howe, after parading a few days near the late scene of action, and indiscriminately  plundering the neighborhood, ordered his tents to be struck, and a  movement of his whole army to be made towards New York.  As his troops had long been kept in  continual motion, were fatigued and harassed by sudden alarms,  and the season far advanced, it was rationally concluded that his design was to repair immediately  to winter quarters.  But by a stroke of generalship, little expected  where no remarkable superiority in military knowledge had yet been discovered, affairs took a most  unfavorable turn for the Americans, and reduced the little,  resolute continental army to dangers and distresses, to exertions and vigor, scarcely to be paralleled  in history.

The numbers that had already fallen on both sides, by the rapid movements and frequent skirmishes  of the space of three or four months cannot be ascertained with  exactitude.  It was computed that not less than 5000, principally Hessians, either perished or  deserted from the ministerial army, after the action of Long Island to the  middle of November, when General Howe laid the estimate before Lord George Germaine. [In  General Howe's letter to the Secretary for American Affairs, he  acknowledged he had lost upwards of 300 staff and other officers, and between 4000 and 5000  privates.] The Americans undoubtedly suffered in more than equal  proportion, and from many causes were much less able to bear the reduction.  The peculiar mode of  raising troops hitherto adopted by the United States had a  tendency to retard the operations of war, and in some measure to defeat the best concerted plans,  either for enterprise or defense. The several colonies had  furnished their quota of men for a limited term only; and the country unused to standing armies,  and the control of military power, impatient at the subordination  necessary in a camp, and actuated by a strong sense of the liberty of the individual, each one had  usually returned to his habitation at the expiration of his term of  service, in spite of every danger that threatened the whole.  This had occasioned frequent calls on  the militia of the country, in aid of the army thus weakened, and  kept in continual fluctuation by raw recruits, raised and sent on for a few months at a time.

In addition to these embarrassments, animosities had sometimes arisen between the southern and  eastern troops, occasioned by the revival of some old local  prejudices.  The aristocratic spirit that had been formerly characteristic of the south, frequently  appeared in airs of assumed superiority, very disgusting to the feelings  of their eastern brethren, the bold and hardy New Englanders.  The full-blooded Yankees, as they  sometimes boasted themselves, who, having few slaves at their  command, had always been sued to more equality of condition, both in rank, fortune, and  education.  These trivial causes sometimes raised animosities to such a  height that in the present circumstance of the army, the authority of the commander in chief was  

scarcely sufficient to restrain them.

General Washington was also obliged often in his retreat through the Jerseys to press for provisions,  forage, and clothing, in a manner new to the inhabitants of  America, who, as their misfortunes seemed to thicken, grew more remiss for a time in voluntary  aids to the army.  Their grain was seized and threshed out for use of  the troops, their blankets, provisions, etc. forcibly taken from the houses, with a promise of  payment in paper bills, when the exigencies of the country should permit.  But it always appeared to the people the act of some subordinate officers, rather than the order of  the commander in chief.  Thus was his popularity kept up; and  thus were the inhabitants of the Jerseys plundered by each party; while many of them disaffected to  both, were uncertain on which side to declare.

General Howe, well acquainted with these embarrassing circumstances, and apprised that Congress  were taking measures to remedy the evils in the future, wisely  judged that as he could not force Washington to a general engagement, it would be more  advantageous for the present to suspend his pursuit and dislodge the  Americans from their strongholds in the environs of New York.  He was too sensible from the  causes above related that the continental army would diminish of itself  as soon as the term of their enlistment expired. From these considerations, he drew back his army,  with the determination to invest Fort Washington immediately.  [Near Kingsbridge, 15 miles from New York City]. This fortress on the one side of the North River,  and Fort Lee on the opposite shore, commanded the whole  navigation of the river, at the same time that it impeded the communication with New York by  land.

General Washington could not rationally suppose that a post of so much importance would remain  long unmolested or that the garrison could be defended against the  whole force of the British army.  General Lee afterwards boasted in a letter to a friend that he had  advised the evacuation of both Fort Washington and Fort Lee  previous to the main body of the American army leaving the neighborhood of New York. However  this might have been, it was indeed a great mistake that it was  not done. General Washington might then have had the assistance of the brave men who fell there.  [An officer of the army wrote to General Lee after the surrender  of Fort Washington and expressed himself thus: "We have all additional reasons for most earnestly  wishing to have you where the principal scene of action is laid. I  have no doubt had you been here, the garrison of Mount Washington would now have composed a  part of this army; every gentleman of the family, the officers and  soldiers generally, have a confidence in you; the enemy constantly inquire where you are and seem  to me to be less confident when you are present.  We are  informed by an officer lately liberated that the enemy have a southern expedition in view; that they  hold us very cheap in consequence of the late affair at Mount  Washington, where both the plan of defense and execution were contemptible.  If a real defense of  the lines was intended, the number was too few; if the fort only,  

the garrison was too numerous by half." Extract from General Reed to General Lee.]

General Knyphaufen with six battalions suddenly crossed the country from Rochelle to  Kingsbridge, where, joined by light infantry and grenadiers, the one  commanded by Lord Cornwallis, the other by Earl Percy, the fort was on all side attacked with  vigor, and defended with bravery.  On November 16, Colonel  Magaw, the commanding officer, was summoned to surrender without farther delay.  He requested  that he might be allowed to consider till nine o'clock the next  morning, before he gave a decisive answer.  It was replied that two hours only were granted. At the  expiration of this short parley, the adjutant general of the British  army who waited the reply, was informed that the fort would be defended to the last moment.   Accordingly, a resistance was made with astonishing valor for several  hours; but to prevent the farther effusion of blood, the Americans yielded to necessity and  surrendered themselves prisoners of war, at the moment when the Hessian  and British troops were on the point of storming the garrison.

Near 3000 continental troops were lost by this disaster.  These unhappy victims of war,  notwithstanding the inclemency of the season, were stripped of their apparel  and thrown naked into jails of New York; where, after suffering the extremes of misery from cold,  hunger, and sickness, most of them perished.  The remnant who  escaped immediate death were after some months imprisonment, sent on parole to visit their  friends, many of them infected with the small pox, and all of them in such  a languishing, emaciated condition as proved a useful lesson to their countrymen; who, by this  instance of severity towards the brave and unfortunate, were  universally convinced that death in the field of battle was much to be preferred to the cruelties they  had reason to expect if they fell into British hands, though a nation  once famed for the virtues of justice, generosity, and clemency.

After the surrender of Fort Washington, no time was lost. The advantages gained by the British  troops were pushed with spirit. With the utmost ease, they took  possession of Fort Lee. The American garrison fled on the first apprehension of an attack, without  offering the smallest resistance.  General Howe embraced these  favorable circumstances to prosecute his designs, stimulated by the hope of reaching and surprising  Philadelphia before the American army could be reinforced.   Thus, near the close of the campaign, when the continental troops were daily dropping off, and a  severe winter setting in, he had every reason to cherish his most  sanguine hopes.  He for some time pushed his purposes with vigor and alacrity, and obliged  General Washington, with a handful of men, to retreat from town to  town, until hunted through the state of New Jersey, and even over the Delaware, which he had time  to cross only six hours before the whole body of the British  army, consisting of 10, 000 or 12,000 men, were on the opposite banks.

The reasons why General Howe did not sooner overtake the distressed fugitives, or why he  cantoned his troops without crossing the river and taking possession of  the city of Philadelphia, remain yet to be investigated.  The retreat was conducted with ability, but  the remnant that escaped was too small to intimidate the enemy or  to encourage the friends of the American cause.  A great part of the inhabitants of the city, either  from fear, affection, or interest, were at that time disposed to  receive with open arms the British commander; and the consternation of all parties operated in  favor of erecting the King's standard in the capital of America.

Congress, by advice of some military characters, precipitately removed to Baltimore, in the state of  Maryland.  The public concern was also heightened at this critical  period, by the recent capture of General Lee.  He had been collecting a number of militia in the  neighborhood of Morristown, with a design to fall on the rear of the  British army, while in chase of Washington through the Jerseys. It is not known why he was thus  unguarded, but he incautiously lodged at the little village of  Baskenridge, four miles from the troops he had collected, and about 20 from the British army.   Here he was betrayed, surprised, and taken prisoner.  Colonel  Harcourt of the light horse conducted the enterprise with so much address that with a very small  party, he without noise passed all the American guards on his way,  surrounded the house, and took possession of his prisoner without the smallest resistance. In the  hurry of the business, Lee was not suffered to take either hat or  cloak, and thus in a ruffian-like manner was conducted to the British headquarters.

A peculiar triumph was enjoyed by his enemies in the capture of this single officer.  They  considered his services at that period of the greatest consequence to the  American army.  In addition to this, he was viewed as a rebel to the Sovereign of Britain in a  double sense, both as a deserter from the King's service, in which he  had long held an honorable rank, and as an abettor of the American defection, and one of the first  officers of their army.  He was, of course, confined in the strictest  

manner, and threatened with military execution as a traitor to the King.  The Americans at that time  had no British prisoners of equal rank, yet they made the most  strenuous efforts for his release.  A Colonel Campbell with five Hessian field-officers were soon  after offered for the exchange of General Lee.  When this was  refused, General Washington advertised Sir William Howe that heir blood must atone for his life if  Lee fell a sacrifice to the resentment of his enemies.

Humanity recoils at the sufferings of individuals who by the laws of retaliation are deemed the  legal victims of policy. But though the mind of the gentle may be  wounded by the necessity, habit, in time, too often learns it to acquiesce in the cruel policy of  nations.  Public emergencies may require the hand of severity to fall  heavily on those who are not personally guilty, but compassion prompts, and ever urges to milder  methods. However, General Lee was not executed nor suddenly  released. Colonel Campbell was closely imprisoned and treated with much severity, and a  considerable time elapsed before either of them were relieved, except by  some mitigation in the manner of Colonel Campbell's confinement, which was carried to an  extreme not warranted even to a notorious felon. [General Lee was also  treated very severely until the defeat of Burgoyne. After this, he was permitted to repair to New  York on parole and soon after liberated by an exchange of  prisoners.]

Perhaps at no period of the great struggle for independence were the affairs of the United States at  so low an ebb as at the present. The foot steps of the British  army in their route through the Jerseys were everywhere marked with the most wanton instances of  rapine and bloodshed.  Even the sacred repositories of the dead  were not unmolested by the sacrilegious hands of the soldiery. [This usage of the dead is  authenticated by the accounts of several gentlemen of respectability near the  scene of action.]  While the licentiousness of their officers spread rape, misery, and despair  indiscriminately through every village.

Thus, while human nature was disgraced, and the feelings of benevolence shocked by the  perpetration of every crime; when the army spared neither age nor sex,  youth, beauty, nor innocence; it is observable that the distresses of war had fallen principally on  that state which at that time contained a greater proportion of  persons attached to the royal cause than could have been found in any other part of America.  But  so intermixed and blended were persons, families, and parties of  different political opinions that it was not easy to distinguish in the wanton riot of victory their  friends from their foes or the royalists from the Whigs, even had the  royal army been disposed to discriminate. It was indeed impossible for their foreign auxiliaries to  make any distinction among Americans, though some British officers  would gladly have checked the insolence of triumph, unbalanced by any principle of religion,  honor, or humanity.  A neglect of strict discipline prevented the  melioration of crime and misery, and filled up the measure of censure which afterwards fell on the  commander in chief of the British forces, even from those who  wished to give his military operations the most brilliant cast. [See Sir William Howe's defense of  his conduct in his letters to administration, published in London.]

Had General Howe persevered in his pursuit and have crossed the Delaware, he would inevitably  have destroyed even the vestige of an American army.  The  remnant of the old troops drawn into Philadelphia was too small for resistance.  The citizens were  divided and intimidated. Congress had retreated to Baltimore. The  country was dispirited, and Washington himself. ready to despair, had actually consulted some of  his officers on the expediency of flying to the back parts of  Pennsylvania, or even beyond the Allegheny Mountains, to escape the usual fate of unsuccessful  rebels, or as himself expressed it "to save his neck from a halter."  [This was confidentially said to an officer who reported that the General put his hand to his neck  and observed that it did not feel as if made for a halter.  See  Stedman's History.  It is probably if ever General Washington really expressed himself in this  manner, it was uttered more from the momentary ebullition of distress  than from the serious contemplation of despair. It discovered more a determination to live free than  any timidity from sudden dismay.  Had General Howe overtaken  the American troops and have secured their commander, he would doubtless have been made a  victim of severe vengeance.]

Thus, without an army, without allies, and without resources, the gloom of disappointment  overspread not only the brow of the commander in chief, but expanded  wide, and ruin from every quarter lowered on the face of American freedom.  Newport and the  adjacent islands were taken possession of by a part of the British  army and navy, under the command of Commodore Sir Peter Parker and Sir Henry Clinton.  The  whole colony of Rhode Island was not able to make the smallest  resistance to the seizure of their capital. And to complete the climax of danger which this  melancholy winter exhibited, the irruptions of the natives in various parts  was not the least.  Many tribes of those aborigines, stimulated by British influence and headed by  some American desperadoes in the service of Britain, were making  the most horrid depredations on the back settlements of some of the southern states. Nor did the  affairs of America at the northward wear a more favorable aspect.

General Carleton had conducted the campaign of this year with the ability of the statesman and the  courage of the soldier; and notwithstanding the severity of his  general character, he, with a degree of humanity honorable to himself, and exemplary to his  military associates, had been disposed to commiserate the unfortunate.  It  has been observed that all who fell into his hands after the death of General Montgomery were  treated with lenity and tenderness.  He was doubtless sensible that a  war enkindled more to satiate a spirit of resentment and pride than to establish the principles of  justice required every palliative to mitigate the odium of the  disgraceful design of subduing America by the aid of savages, who had hutted for ages in the  wilderness beyond the distant lakes.  General Carleton, with the most  extraordinary vigilance and vigor, had conducted the pursuit of the Americans, until Arnold and his  party were chased out of the Province of Quebec. Nor did he  ever lose sight of his object, which was to make himself master of the Hudson, and form a junction  at Albany with General Howe, whose troops in detached parties  were wasting the middle colonies and cooperating in the same design.

By uncommon exertions, Carleton obtained a fleet in the wilderness of such strength and  superiority as to destroy the little American squadron on the Lake  Champlain, one of the smaller navigable basins in the woods of that astonishing country.  The lakes  of America are among the wonders of the world.  They are  numerous and extensive, deep and navigable at many hundreds miles distance from the ocean.  A  view of this part of creation is sublime and astonishing. There are  five of those lakes of principal magnitude. The smallest of them, Lake Ontario, is more than 200,  and the largest, Lake Superior, is 500 leagues in circumference.  [The principal of these inland seas are Lake Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario. The  description of these and smaller sheets of water spread over the vast  western territory may be found in every geographical work.] Happy might it have been for the  Atlantic states had they been content within these boundaries of  nature, and not at an after period have wasted the blood of their citizens in attempting to wrest from  the natives a vast extent of territory which is very improbable  they will be long able to govern, unless a remarkable coincidence of events should give them a  commanding influence, superior to any European power.

The bravery of Arnold was on his retreat equally conspicuous with the outset of his extraordinary  undertaking.  But notwithstanding his vigilance and the valor of his  soldiers, they were reduced to the utmost distress before he blew up the remainder of his fleet,  which Carleton had not captured, and run his last ship on shore,  without acknowledging the superiority of the British flag by servile signal of striking of his colors.   Obliged to relinquish every post of advantage, Arnold and the  remnant of his troops were driven naked, defenseless, and despondent from forest to forest and  from lake to lake, until they reached Ticonderoga.  The garrison  there had been reinforced by some militia from the eastern states, but they were in no condition to  meet General Carleton, whose advancement they had every  reason to expect, with superior numbers, and the double advantage of discipline and success, and  his exertions aided by tribes of copper-colored savages.

General Thomas had been seen from Cambridge in the spring, 1776, with a detachment of the  continental army to endeavor in conjunction with the eastern militia, to  retrieve the wretched state of affairs in Canada.  He was a man of cool judgment, possessed of  courage the result of principle, rather than bravery the impulse of  passion.  He was respected by the citizens, beloved by the soldiers, and well qualified by the  firmness of his mind and the strength of his constitution to face the  dangers of a campaign in the wilderness.  But unfortunately for him, he was deputed to the northern  command to oppose the enjoined forces of the native barbarians  and their British allies, at a time when the remains of the American army were dismayed by defeat,  worn out by fatigue, and in addition to their distresses, a  pestilential disorder, then fatal to New Englanders, had spread through the camp.  The small pox,  by the ill policy of the country, had been so long kept from their  doors that there was scarce a man among them who was not more afraid of an attack from this kind  of pestilence than the fury of the sword.  But no caution could  prevent the rapidity of the contagion. It pervaded the whole army, and proved fatal to most of the  new raised troops.

The character of the military officer who dies in his bed, however meritorious, is seldom crowned  by the eclat of fame, which follows the hero who perishes in the  field.  Thus this good man, qualified to reap the fairest laurels in a day of battle, was immediately  on his arrival at the scene of action cut down by the hand of  sickness, and his memory almost extinguished by a succession of new characters and events that  crowded for attention.  By the death of General Thomas and the  reduced state of the Americans, they were far from being in any preparation for the reception of  General Carleton, whose arrival they momently expected.  They had  nothing to hope -- an immediate surrender to mercy was their only resource.  On this they had  determined, when to their surprise and joy they were informed that all  further pursuit was relinquished and that the Canadians and British troops had precipitately  retreated.

Thus the remnant of the broken continental army was left at full liberty to escape in the best manner  they could from other impending dangers.  From the nature of the  grounds, and from the neighborhood of the savages, from their weak, sickly, and reduced state,  their retreat was extremely difficult. But in scattered parties they  reached Crown Point in a very feeble condition.  After this series of successful efforts, all farther  thoughts of the reduction and conquest of Canada were for the  present laid aside.  General Carleton had repaired to Quebec. General Phillips with a considerable  force made winter quarters at Montreal.  And General Burgoyne  took passage for England.  Both these officers had been very active in aid of Carleton, through the  campaign of 1776.

The defeat of the Americans in Canada and the advantages gained by the British arms in the  Jerseys, and indeed for some months in every other quarter, gave to the  royal cause an air of triumph. The brilliant hopes formed from these circumstances by the  calculators of events for the ensuing spring, led the ministry and the army,  the nation and their Sovereign to flatter themselves that only one more campaign would be  necessary for the entire subjugation of America.  The vicissitudes of  fortune, that hourly could or brighten all human affairs,  soon convinced them that this was but the  triumph of a day.  The new year opened in a reversive view.  A  spirited movement of General Washington at this important crisis had a most happy effect. A  single incident gave a different face to the affairs of the colonies, in a  shorter time than could have been imagined, after the ruinous appearance of everything at the close  of the campaign.

On the evening of December 25, General Washington in a most severe season crossed the Delaware  with a part of his army, then reduced to less than 2000 men in  the whole. They very unexpectedly landed near Trenton.  Colonel Rhal, an officer of decided  bravery, commanded a detachment of 1200 Hessians stationed there,  where they lay in perfect security.  It was near morning before they were alarmed. The surprise was  complete; the resistance small. Rhal was mortally wounded, and  his whole corps surrendered prisoners of war. After the fatigue, the hazards, and the success of the  night, General Washington with his party and his prisoners,  consisting of the three regiments of Rhal, Lofbourg, and Knyphausen, recrossed the river before  eight in the morning, with little or no loss.

This adventure gave an astonishing spring to the spirits of the American army and people, a short  time before driven to the brink of despair.  They had viewed the  Hessians as a most terrific enemy, and in conjunction with the veterans of Britain, as an  invulnerable foe. To see such a body of them surprised in their camp, and  yielding themselves prisoners to the shreds of an American army inspired them with a boldness that  an action of the greatest magnitude might not have awakened in  different circumstances.  General Washington did not sit down in Philadelphia satisfied with the  eclat of this enterprise, but in a few days again passed the Delaware  and took post at Trenton.

The British army elated by success had lain carelessly cantoned in small divisions, in a line  extending through New Jersey to New York.  General Howe was  afterwards severely censured by his employers for his neglect in not crossing the Delaware while  he had the promise of the most brilliant success from his own arms.   The panic of the Pennsylvanians had inspired most of them with a disposition to succumb to any  terms he should impose, which ought to have been an additional  stimulus to have pursued his good fortune.  Nor was he less censured for his unguarded  cantonments, through such an extensive line as the whole length of the  Jerseys. [See trial and defense of General Howe.]

General Washington moved on from Trenton to Princeton by a circuitous march, to avoid engaging  the British or being hemmed in near Trenton.  He suddenly  attacked the British encampment at Princeton, while the main body of the British army had  marched to Trenton, with design to dislodge the Americans from that  post.  From Princeton the American army moved to Elizabethtown. Animated by success, warmed  by bravery, and supported by fortitude, they gathered strength as  they moved, and gained some signal advantages in several places on the Jersey side of the river;  and in their turn pursued the King's troops with as much rapidity as  they had recently fled before them; while the British, as if seized with a general panic, made but a  feeble resistance.

After many marches, counter-marches, and skirmishes, the strength of the British force was  collected at Brunswick, a town of the Jerseys, about 60 miles from  Philadelphia and 35 from New York.  They continued their headquarters there the remainder of the  winter; but they were not without apprehensions for the safety of  their troops and their magazines, even at this distance from Philadelphia, notwithstanding the  contempt with which they had but a short time before, viewed the  broken, disheartened remains of a continental army, which they had pursued into the city.

The British were indeed very far superior to the Americans in every respect necessary to military  operations, except the revivified courage and resolution, the result  of sudden success after despair.  In this, the Americans at the time yielded the palm to none; while  the confidence of their antagonists apparently diminished, and  victory began by them to be viewed at a distance.

The waste of human life from various causes, through the vicissitudes of this winder was not  inconsiderable on either side.  But the success of the American arms  through the Jerseys was in some measure damped by the death of the brave General Mercer of  Virginia, who fell at Princeton, in an action made memorable by the  loss of so gallant an officer.  His distinguished merit was gratefully acknowledged by Congress in  the provision afterwards made for the education and support of the  youngest son of his family.

The fortunate movements of the Americans at this critical era had the usual effect on public  opinion.   Such is human nature, that success ever brightens the talents of  the fortunate commander, and applause generally outruns the expectations of the ambitious.   General Washington, popular before, from this period became the idol  of his country, and the admiration of his enemies.  His humanity to the prisoners who fell into his  hands was a contrast to the severities suffered by those captured at  Fort Washington, and the victims in other places that fell under the power of either Hessians or  Britons.  In a book of general orders belonging to Colonel Rhal,  found after the action at Trenton, it was recorded that "His Excellency the commander in chief  orders that all Americans found in arms, not having an officer with  them, shall be immediately hanged." [The intimation of Lord Cornwallis afterwards to the  commander of a party sent out, much superior to the Americans they  expected to meet, was not more humane. His Lordship observed that "he wanted no prisoners."

On the  contrary, the lenity shown by General Washington towards the loyalists captured by his  soldiers, disarmed the prejudices of many, and multitudes flocked to  the American standard, who, in the beginning of the dispute, were favorers of the royal cause, and  within a few months had been ready to throw themselves into the  arms of Great Britain.  But every favorable impression was erased and every idea of submission  annihilated by the indiscriminate ravages of the Hessian and British  soldiery in their route through the Jerseys.  The elegant houses of some of their own most devoted  partisans were bunt. Their wives and daughters pursued and  ravished in the woods to which they had fled for shelter.  Many unfortunate fathers, in the stupor of  grief, beheld the misery of their female connections, without being  able to relieve them, and heard the shrieks of infant innocence, subjected to the brutal lust of British  grenadiers or Hessian Yaughers.

In short, it may be difficult for the most descriptive pen to portray the situation of the inhabitants of  the Jerseys and the neighborhood of their state.  The confusion of  parties, the dismay of individuals, who were still serving in the remnant of the American army,  whose dearest connections were scattered through the country, and  exposed to the danger of plunder and misery, from the hostile inroads of a victorious army, can be  imagined only by those whose souls are susceptible at once of the  noblest and the tenderest feelings.  Many of this description were among the brave officers who had  led the fragments of a fugitive army across the Delaware, and  sheltered in the city of Philadelphia, had by flight escaped a total excision.

But after escaping the perilous pursuit, there appeared little on which to ground any rational hope  of effectually counteracting the designs of their enemies.  They  found Congress had retreated, and that the inhabitants of the city were agitated and divided.   Several of the more wealthy citizens secured their property by  renouncing the authority of Congress and acknowledging themselves the subjects of the Crown.  Others availed themselves of a proclamation of pardon, published by  the British commander, and took protection under the royal standard, for personal security.

Several officers of high character and consideration were on the point of pursuing the same steps,  previous to the action at Trenton, from the anxiety they felt for their  families, despair of the general cause, danger of the city, or the immediate military executions that  might take place when the victorious army should cross the river,  which they momently expected.  Why this was not done remains involved among the fortuitous  events which often decide the fate of armies or of nations, as it were  by accident.  The votaries of blind chance, or indeed the more sober calculators on human events,  would have pronounced the fortune of the day was in the hands of  the British commander.  Why he did not embrace her tenders while it was in his power, no one can  tell; nor why he stopped short on the borders of the river, as if  afraid the waters of the Delaware, like another Red Sea, would overwhelm the pursuers of the  injured Americans, who had in many instances as manifestly  experienced the protecting hand of Providence, as the favored Israelites.

The neglect of so fair an opportunity, by a single effort, to have totally destroyed or dispersed the  American army, or in the language of administration, to have cut off  the hydra head of rebellion, by the subjugation of the capital city, was viewed in the most  unpardonable light by his employers  They were not yet fully apprised of  the spirit of Americans.  Their ideas did not quadrate with those of a distinguished military officer,  well acquainted with the country, who observed in a letter to a  friend, [See a letter from General Charles Lee to the Duke of Richmond, October 1774.] "it is no  exaggeration to assert that there are 200,000 strong-bodied,  active yeomanry ready to encounter all hazards and dangers, ready to sacrifice all considerations,  rather than surrender a title of the rights which they have derived  from God and their ancestors."  Subsequent events will prove that he had not formed a mistaken  opinion of the resolution and prowess of the Americans.  It will be  seen that they were far from relinquishing their claim to independence, by the ill success of a single  campaign.  The tardy conduct of Sir William Howe was  reprehended with severity; now was he ever able to justify or vindicate himself, either to  administration or to the world.

From these and other circumstances, the character of Sir William Howe depreciated in proportion  to the rising fame of the American commander in chief, his rival in  glory, and his competitor for the crown of victory, on a theater that soon excited the curiosity, and  awakened the ambition of the heroes and princes of Europe.

Indeed it must be acknowledged that General Howe had innumerable difficulties to surmount,  notwithstanding the number of his troops.  He was at a distance from  his employers, who were ignorant of his situation, and unable to support him as emergencies  required.  He was in an enemy's country, where every acquisition of  forage or provisions, was procured at the expense or hazard of life or reputation.  A considerable  part of his army was composed of discontented foreigners, who,  disappointed of the easy settlements they had been led to expect, from the conquest of rebels, and  the forfeiture of their estates, -- their former poverty not mitigated,  or their yoke of slavery meliorated, in the service of their new masters -- they were clamorous for  pay, and too eager for plunder to be kept within the rules of  disciplines. And their alien language and manners disgusting to their British comrades, a constant  bickering was kept up between them.

Nor was the British commander less embarrassed by the Tories, who from every state had fled from  the resentment of their countrymen and hung upon his hands for  subsistence.  On their fidelity or their information, he could make little dependence. Many of them  had never possess property at all, others irritated by the loss of  wealth; both were continually urging him to deeds of cruelty, to which he did not seem naturally  inclined.  AT the same time, he was sensible that the hopes of his  nation would sink by the protraction of a war which they had flattered themselves might be  concluded with the utmost facility and expedition.

There were many concurring circumstances to lead the world to conclude that Sir William Howe  was not qualified, either by education or habits of life, for the  execution of an object of such magnitude as the restoration of the revolted colonies to obedience,  and dependence on the Crown of Britain.  "He fought as a soldier  and a servant to his king, without other principle than that of passive obedience.  The immensity of  the prospect before him embarrassed his mind, clouded his  understanding; and, too much engrossed by his bottle and his mistress, he frequently left his orders  and his letters to be fabricated by subordinate officers; and  seemed at some times to sink into stupor or indolence, at others, brave and cool as Julius Caesar."

If these traits of the character of the British commander are just and impartial, as said to be by one  of his former associates, [See letter of General Lee, Note 18 at  the end of this chapter, which discovered the temper and character of the writer, as well as of Sir  William Howe.] the world need be at no loss why such instances of  shameful outrage and rapine appeared wherever his army entered; or why, when he had driven the  Americans over the Delaware, he did not pursue and complete  the business, by a triumphal entrance into Philadelphia, and the total destruction of General  Washington and his remaining troops.

No military character ever had a fairer opportunity (as observed above) to place the martial laurel  on his brow, than was presented to General Howe on the banks of  the Delaware; but he suffered it to wave at a distance, without the resolution to seize it. And instead  of a chaplet of glory, he reaped only the hatred of America, the  loss of esteem and reputation in England, and disgrace and censure from his parliamentary masters.

The negligence of Sir William Howe gave an opportunity to the Americans to recover the energies  of their former courage.  The hopeless prospect that had  beclouded their minds, vanished on the successful termination of a single enterprise projected by  

the commander in chief, and executed with resolution and  magnanimity by officers who had been almost reduced to despondency.

The surprise of Trenton saved the army, the city, and in some degree, the reputation of the  commander in chief, which frequently depends more on the fortunate  exigencies of a moment than on superior talents.  The world ever prone to neglect the unfortunate,  however brave, amiable, or virtuous, generally pays its idolatrous  homage to those elevated by the favors of the ideal deity to the pinnacle of honor. Yet real merit  usually commands the plaudit of posterity, however it may be  withheld by contemporaries, from rivalry or envy.

Perhaps there are no people on earth, in whom a spirit of enthusiastic zeal is so readily enkindled,  and burns so remarkably conspicuous, as among the Americans.  Any fortuitous circumstance that holds out the most distant promise of a completion of their wishes  is pushed with an ardor and unanimity that seldom fails of  success.  This characteristic trait may in some measure account for the rapidity with which  everything has been brought to maturity there, from the first settlement of  the colonies.

The energetic operation of this sanguine temper was never more remarkably exhibited than in the  change instantaneously wrought in the minds of men by the capture  of Trenton at so unexpected a moment.  From the state of mind bordering on despair, courage was  invigorated, every countenance brightened, and the nervous arm  was outstretched, as if by one general impulse, all were determined to drive the hostile invaders,  that had plundered their villages, and dipped the remorseless sword  in the bosom of the innocent victims of their fury, from off the American shores.

But we shall see in the subsequent pages of these memoirs that they had yet many years to struggle  with the dangers, the chances, and miseries of war, before an  extensive country, convulsed in every part, was restored to tranquility.  Agonizing amid the  complicated difficulties of raising, paying, and keeping an army in the field,  it is easy to conceive it was not with much facility that money was drawn from the pockets of the  rich for the support of the public cause, at the hazard of receiving a  script of depreciated paper in lieu of silver and gold.

A nominal substitute for specie has often its temporary advantages, and when not extended too far,  its permanent ones. But it is oftener attended with a great balance  of evil.  its deceptive value often plunges a great part of the community into ruin, and corrupts the  morals of the people before they are apprehensive of the danger.   Yet without the expedient  of a paper currency, the Americans could never have supported an army,  or have procured the necessaries of life from day to day.   Experience had before taught them the pernicious effects of a paper medium, without funds  sufficient for its redemption; but the peculiar exigencies of their situation  left them no other resources.

The United States had engaged in a hazardous enterprise, in which all was at stake.  Deficient as  they were in the means necessary to support a war, against a  wealthy and potent nation, they yet stood alone, uncertain whether any other power would aid their  cause or view them wit that degree of consideration that might  obtain a credit for foreign loans.  It was an interesting spectacle to all such nations as had colonies  of their own to view such an unexpected spirit of resistance and  revolt in the Americans, as might be contagious and probably produce commotions as much to be  dreaded by them as the alienation of the thirteen colonies was by  England.  The most judicious statesmen in America were sensible that much time must elapse and  many event stake place before any foreign stipulations could be  effected.  They were therefore impelled by the peculiar circumstances of their situation to resort to  this dangerous expedient, or relinquish the contest.  No wise  legislator, no experienced statesman, no man of principle would have recourse to a measure fraught  with such uncertain consequences but from that necessity which  in human affairs sometimes precludes all deliberation between present utility and distant events  which may accrue.

In consequence of this dilemma, Congress had emitted sums to a vast amount in paper bills, with a  promise on the face of the bill of payment in specie at some  distant period.  This circumstance was alarming to the avaricious and the wealthy, who  immediately withdrew their gold and silver from circulation.  This and other  combining circumstances, among which the immense sums counterfeited in New York by the  British and thrown into the colonies, produced an immediate and an  astonishing depreciation.  At the same time, the widow and the orphan were obliged to receive the  interest of their property, deposited for security in the public  treasuries, according to the nominal sum on the ace of the bills; by which they and other classes  were reduced to extreme necessity.  The operative effects of this  paper medium, its uses, its depreciation, and total annihilation, will be seen hereafter, when the  credit of the circulating paper had sunk so low that no one presumed  to offer it in barter of any commodity.  All public demands were consolidated by government at a  very great discount, and public securities given to those who had  demands for services or loans, and the faith of Congress pledge for their payment in full value, as  soon as practicable. [ See Note 19 at the end of this chapter.]

The honor and the fate of the commander in chief had been daily hazarded by the unrestrained  license of soldiers with whom it was optional to stay a few days  longer, or to withdraw after the short term of their enlistment had expired, however imminent the  dangers might be that threatened their country.  Yet the  establishment of a permanent army was not more ardently wished by General Washington than by  every judicious man in America.  But the work, though not  insurmountable, was attended with complicated difficulties. The reluctance felt through the class of  men from which an army was to be drawn to enlist for an indefinite  term, as apparent to all.  The precarious resources for the support of an army, which at that time  depended only on a depreciating medium, could not be concealed,  and were discouraging indeed. At the same time, it was a subject too delicate to expatiate on, as the  more it was conversed upon, the greater was the danger of  defeating the desired object.  But, the firmness of Congress unshaken, and the legislatures of the  individual states equally zealous, while the people at large were  convinced of the utility of the measure, the object was in time obtained, though not so rapidly as the  exigencies of the day required.


Note 17 In Congress, July 4, 1776

A declaration by the representatives of the United States of America in general congress assembled.

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political  bands which have connected them with another, and to assume  among the powers of the Earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and  nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind  requires, that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by  their Creator with certain unalienable rights: that among these are  life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: that to secure these rights, governments are instituted  among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the  governed: and whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right  of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute a new  government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form as to  them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.   Prudence indeed will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and  transient causes; and accordingly, all experience hath shown that  mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by  abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed; but when a long trains  of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them  under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty to throw off  such government, and to provide new guards for their future security.  Such has been the patient  sufferance of these colonies, and such is now the necessity which  constrains them to alter their former systems of government.  The history of the present king of  Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations; all  having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these states: to prove this, let  facts to submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless  suspended in their operation till his assent should be obtained; and when  so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws, for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those  people would relinquish the rights of representation in the  legislature; a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the  depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing  them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved representative houses repeatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness, his  invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time after such dissolution, to cause others to be erected, whereby the  legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the  people at large for their exercise -- the state remaining in the mean time, exposed to all  the dangers  of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavored to prevent the population of these states; for that purpose, obstructing the laws  for naturalization of foreigners, refusing to pass others to  encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing to assent to laws for establishing  judiciary powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and  payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers, to harass our people,  and eat out their subsistence.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior to, the civil power.

He has combined with others, to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and  unacknowledged by our laws, giving his assent to their pretended acts of  legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit  on the inhabitants of these states:

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing taxes on us without our consent:

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefit of trial by jury:

For transporting us beyond seas, to be tried for pretended offenses:

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighboring province, establishing therein an  arbitrary government, and enlarging its  boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into their colonies.

For taking away our charters abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the  forms of our governments:

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for  us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection, and waging war against  us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts bunt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our  people.

He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries, to complete the works of death,  desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of  cruelty and perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head  of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow-citizens, taken captive on the high seas, to bear arms against their  country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or  to fall themselves by their hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants  of our frontiers the merciless Indian savages, whose Known rule of  warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions, we have petitioned for redress, in the most humble terms: our  repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A  prince, who character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler  of a free people.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them, for time to  time, of attempts, by their legislature, to extend an unwarrantable  jurisdiction over us; we have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement  here; we have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity.   And we have conjured them, by the tie of common kindred, to disavow these usurpations, which  would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence.   They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and consanguinity. We must therefore acquiesce in  the necessity which denounces our separation, and hold them, as  we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.

We therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in general congress assembled,  appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of  our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly  publish and declare that these united colonies are, and of right  ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES; and that they are absolved from all allegiance  to the British crown; and that all political connection between  them and the state of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that, as free and  independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace,  contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states  may of right do.  And for the support of this declaration, with a  firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives,  our fortunes, and our sacred honor.

Signed by order and in behalf of the congress

John Hancock, president

Attest: Charles Thompson, secretary


Note 18

Copy of a letter from General Lee to Doctor B. Rush. See life and memoirs of General Lee.

"Camp at Valley Forge, June 4, 1778.

"My dear Rush,

"Though I had no occasion for fresh assurances of your friendship, I cannot help being much  pleased with the warmth which your letter, delivered to me by Mr. H__,  breathes; and I hope, it is unnecessary to assure you that my sentiments, with respect to you, are  correspondent.

"You will think it odd that I should seem to be an apologist for General Howe.  I know not how it  happens.  But when I have taken prejudices in favor or against a  man, I find it a difficulty in shaking them off.  From my first acquaintance with Mr. Howe, I like  him.  I thought him friendly, candid, good natured, brave, and rather  sensible than the reverse.  I believe still that he is naturally so; but a corrupt or more properly, no  education, the fashion of the times, and the reigning idolatry among  the English (particularly the soldiery) for every sceptered calf, wolf, or ass, have so totally  perverted his understanding and heart that private friendship has not force  sufficient to keep a door open for the admittance of mercy towards political heretics.  He was  besides persuaded that I was doubly criminal, both as a traitor and  deserter.  In short, so totally was he inebriated with this idea that I am convinced he would have  thought himself both politically and morally damned had he acted  any other part than what he did.  He is besides the most indolent of mortals; never took further  pains to examine the merits or demerits of the cause in which he was  engaged, than merely to recollect that Great Britain was said to be the mother country, George III  king of Great Britain, that the Parliament was called the  representatives of Great Britain, that the King and Parliament formed the supreme power, that a  supreme power is absolute and uncontrollable, that all resistance  must consequently be rebellion; but above all, that he was a soldier, and bound to obey all cases  whatever.

"These are his notions, and this his logic. But through these absurdities, I could distinguish, when  he was left to himself, rays of friendship and good nature breaking  out.  It is true, he was seldom left to himself; for never poor mortal, thrust into high station, was  surrounded by such fools and scoundrels.  McKenzie, Balfour,  Galloway, were his counselors.  They urged him to all his acts of harshness. They were his scribes.  All the damned stuff which was issued to the astonished world  was theirs.  I believe he scarcely ever read the letters he signed. You will scarcely believe it, but I  can assure you as a fact that he never read the curious  proclamation issued at the Head of Elk until three days after it was published.  You will say that I  am drawing my friend Howe in more ridiculous colors that he has  yet been represented in; but this is his real character.  His is naturally good humored, complaisant,  but illiterate and indolent to the last degree, unless as an executive  soldier, in which capacity he is all fire and activity, brave and cool as Julius Caesar.  His  understanding is, as I observed before, rather good than otherwise, but was  totally confounded and stupefied by the immensity of the talk imposed upon him.  He shut his eyes,  fought his battles, frank his bottle, had his little ___, advised with  his counselors, received his orders from North and Germaine, (one more absurd than the other)  took Galloway's opinion, shut his eyes, fought again, and is now, I  suppose, to be called to account for acting according to instructions.  But I believe his eyes are now  opened. HE sees he has been an instrument of wickedness and  folly.  Indeed, when I observed it to him, he not only took patiently the observation, but indirectly  assented to the truth of it.  He made, at the same time, as far as his  mauvais honte would permit, an apology for his treatment of me.

"Thus far with regard to Mr. Howe.  You are struck with the great events, changes, and new  characters which have appeared on the stage since I saw you last. But I  am more struck with the admirable efficacy of blunders.  It seemed to be a trial of skill which party  should outdo the other; and it is hard to say which played the  deepest strokes; but it was a capital one of ours, which certainly gave the happy turn which affairs  have taken. Upon my soul, it was time for fortune to interpose, or  we were inevitably lost; but this we will talk over another time. I suppose we shall see one another  at Philadelphia very soon, in attendance.  God bless you!

"Yours affectionately,

"Charles Lee."


Note 19

The iniquitous conduct of speculators and swindlers  to secure to themselves the possession of most  of the public securities will leave a stain on a large class of  people who by every art endeavored to sink the faith of Congress.  Indeed their attempts to injure  the credit of all public bodies were attended with the most  pernicious consequences to the honest and unsuspecting holders of public paper.  By every  insidious practice, they induced the ignorant and necessitous to part with  their securities for the most trifling considerations, to supply their immediate wants.  Thus  afterwards, when a new constitution of government was formed and a  funding system created, no discrimination was made in favor of the original holders, who had  dispossessed themselves of the public securities. Those who had gained  them by their artificial deception were enriched beyond call calculation by subsequent  circumstances.  They afterwards received the nominal value in specie, while  many of the former holders were reduced to extreme poverty.

It was pathetically observed by one who felt these inconveniences that "the public securities, tied of  their humble abodes, had soon fled to the splendid seats of  wealth and greatness; and that while they remained with a class who had dearly earned them by  their services, no interest was promised, no time, place, or person  ascertained, to direct our application for payment.  They fell into disgrace, which concurring with  our necessities, as they could yield no present comfort or future  hope, induced us to part with them for the most trifling considerations.  But when they had chosen  their elevated residence, their credit revived, and provision was  made for the payment of interest on them.  We, in event, literally sold them for nothing, and are  obliged to pay their present holders an annual sum for keeping them  in possession; for many of us have, or must soon pay for the interest of them, a sum nearly or quite  equal to the money given to purchase them, and still be annually  taxed to discharge the interest and principal of said securities."

This is an anticipation of what literally took place afterwards, though it is but justice to observe that  Mr. Madison of Virginia, a distinguished member of Congress,  and several others of that body, left no rational argument untried to procure a discrimination when  the funding system was about to be introduced in 1788, that would  have made some equitable compensation to the original holders of public securities, and prevented  a sudden accumulation of wealth to a class of men who had, many  of them, never earned by their own private industry, or their services to the public, sufficient for a  competent support.  They grew rich on the property of those who  had suffered in the service of their country, who were left to complain, without a possibility of  redress.


Chapter Ten:  Desultory circumstances. Skirmishes and events. General Howe  withdraws from the Jerseys. Arrives at the River  Elk. Followed by Washington. The Battle of Brandywine. General Washington defeated,  retreats to Philadelphia. Obliged to  draw of his army. Lord Cornwallis takes possession of the city. Action at Germantown,  Red Bank, etc. The British Army take  winter quarters in Philadelphia. The Americans encamp at Valley Forge. General  Washington's situation not eligible. De Lisle's  letters. General Conway resigns. The Baron de Steuben appointed Inspector General of  the American army.

 In the beginning of the year 1777, the spirits of the Americans were generally re- animated by fresh hopes, in consequence of the measures taken by Congress to  establish a permanent army until the conclusion of the war, and still more by their  sanguine expectations of success from the negotiations and prospects of an alliance  with France.

A solemn confederation, consisting of a number of articles by which the United States  should in future be governed had been drafted, discussed, and unanimously  signed by all the delegates in Congress, in October 1776.  This instrument was sent to  each legislature in the thirteen states and approved and afterwards ratified by  the individual governments. After this, the Congress of the United States thought proper  to appoint commissioners to the Court of France, when fortunately a load of  money was negotiated on the faith of the United States, and permission obtained for the  reception of American ships of war and the sale of prizes that might be  captured by them and carried into any of the ports of France.  They were also  encouraged to hope for still further assistance from the generosity of that nation.

The growth of the infant marine of the United States had been so rapid and so successful  had been the adventurers in this early stage of the war that it was rationally  concluded it could not be many years before the navy of America might make a  respectable figure among the nations.

It was not expected in Great Britain that the colonies could thus early have acquired a  naval force of the least consideration.  In consequence of this idea, a great  number of British ships and transports that went out slightly armed or not armed at all  were this year captured on their way to America.  So bold and adventurous  were the American privateers and their public ships that the domestic trade of Britain  was rendered insecure; and a convoy became necessary to protect the linen  ships from Dublin to Newry: a circumstance that never took place. [British Annual  Register, 1777.]  The successful depredations also on the British West India trade  were felt through Great Britain in an alarming degrees, and shocked their commerce so  far as to occasion sudden and frequent bankruptcies in London, Bristol, and  almost all the great marts of the nation.

Thus the colonies were filled with everything necessary for carrying on a war, or that  furnished them the luxuries of life.  But the sudden acquisition of wealth, which in  consequence of unexpected success flowed into the lap of individuals, so much beyond  their former fortune or ideas, was not indeed very favorable to the virtue or  manners of the possessors.  It had a tendency to contract the mind, and led it to shrink  into selfish views and indulgences, totally inconsistent with genuine  republicanism.  The coffers of the rich were not unlocked for the public benefit, but their  contents were liberally squandered in pursuit of frivolous enjoyments, to  which most of them had heretofore been strangers.

This avaricious spirit, indeed, somewhat retarded the measures contemplated by  Congress, who had determined that the army in future should stand on a more  stable footing. They had directed that 88 battalions should be raised and kept in full pay  until the close of the war; and as an encouragement to enlist, they promised a  certain allotment of lands to both officers and soldiers, at the commencement of peace.   Yet the recruiting service went on heavily for a time, and at an immense  expense to the United States.  But among a people whose personal liberty had been their  proudest boast, the above was not the sole cause of the difficulty of raising  a permanent army.  The novelty of being enchained to a standing army was disgusting.   They generally revolted at the idea of enlisting for an indefinite term. Thus the  army still remained incomplete, and the militia were again called out as before. In that  mode there was no want of zeal and alacrity. Great numbers always appeared  ready for any temporary service.

During the winter of this year, the British commander did not attempt anything of  greater magnitude than the destruction of the American magazines.  He effected his  purpose at Peekskill, at Courtland Manor; and about the middle of April, he sent on a  detachment under the command of Governor Tryon to the little town of  Danbury, on the borders of Connecticut, where a considerable quantity of provisions and  other articles had been deposited for the use of the American army.  He  considered it of great importance to cut off these resources before the opening of the  spring campaign.

In conjunction with Sir William Erskine and Brigadier General Agnew, Governor  Tryon, who had embodied near 2000 royalists, was vested with the principal  command, on the trivial expedition to Danbury.  He executed his orders with alacrity.  They destroyed a few hogsheads of rum and sugar, a considerable quantity of  grain and other provisions, about 1700 tents, and plundered and burnt a number of  houses in the town of Danbury.  But their retreat to their shipping was intercepted  by the militia of the country, drawn out by the Generals Wooster and Silliman. A small  detachment of continental troops commanded by General Arnold, with a party  of recruiting officers, joined them, an a encounter ensued, when much bravery was  exhibited on both sides.  General Wooster, an aged and experienced officer, and  a very worthy man, was mortally wounded.  General Arnold had his horse shot out  under him at the moment a soldier had his bayonet lifted for his destruction; but  with surprising agility, he disengaged himself from his horse, and drew a pistol that laid  his enemy dead at his feet. On the third day after his landing, Governor Tryon  again reached the shipping and re-embarked his troops with inconsiderable loss, though  exceedingly fatigued by a march of 30 miles, harassed the whole time by an  enemy arranged on each hand, and pressed in the rear by recruits hourly coming in to the  assistance of his opponents. [It has been acknowledge by some British  historians that their loss more than counterbalanced the advantages gained in this  expedition to Danbury.]

 Within a few days, reprisals were made for this successful feat of Tryon, by the more  brilliant enterprise of Colonel Meiggs, show, with only 170 men, landed on the  southern part of Long Island, surprised the enemy lying at Sag Harbor, burnt 12 armed  vessels, captured the sailors, destroyed the forage and stores on the east part  of the island, and returned to Guilford, about 90 miles distance, within 30 hours from the  time of his departure from thence.  He brought with him the trophies of his  

success, without the loss of a man.  As no action of importance was exhibited for several  months, these smaller depredations and inconsiderable skirmishes served  only to keep the spirits in play, and preserve the mind from that lethargic state, which  

inaction or want of object creates.

The plan digested for the summer campaign among the British officers was to gain  possession of Philadelphia, to command the central colonies, and to drive the  Americans from all their posts in the province of Canada.  Some  circumstances had  taken place that seemed to favor these designs. Confident of his success from  his superior numbers in the field, General Howe, for a time, exercised all the artifices of  an experienced commander to bring General Washington to a decisive  engagement.  But, from a perfect command of his temper, and a judicious arrangement  of the few continental troops and the militia he had in aid, the American  chieftain defeated every measure practiced to bring him to a general action.  He placed  about 2000 men in Princeton, and with the main body of his army took his  stand on the high and advantageous grounds in the neighborhood, and made all possible  preparation for defense.  This determined line of conduct in General  Washington gave a new turn to British operations.  On June 19, General Howe  decamped from Brunswick and removed to Amboy, with every appearance of a  speedy embarkation.  His troops as usual committed every outrage on their way, and as  if instigated by despair of becoming masters of the country, and envious of  the progress of arts and sciences in America, the colleges and public libraries were  burnt, all public buildings and places of worship swept away, and nothing that had  the appearance of distinguished elegance escaped.  But the mind and the pen weary of  the detail of destruction. It is enough to observe that the British army in their  retreat left every trait of desolation and barbarism behind them.

The maneuvers of the British commander led to the belief, and everything wore the  strongest appearance that he was about to take a final leave of the Jerseys.  The  illusion succeeded so far as to induce General Washington to send a body of 3000 men,  commanded by Generals Maxwell, Conway, and Lord Stirling, with the  design to attack the rear of the march.  General Howe, apprised of this movement,  hastily returned to the charge.  He dispatched Lord Cornwallis on a circuitous  route, who soon came up with Lord Stirling, strongly posted in a wood.

The Americans determined to dispute the ground with Cornwallis; but the ardor of the  British troops and the rivalry of the Hessians obliged them soon to quit their  advantageous post and retreat with precipitation.  The loss the Americans sustained was  not inconsiderable; they suffered greatly, both from the extreme heat of the  season and the valor of their antagonists.  From this and some other circumstances, it  was for a time generally believed that the late movement of General Howe and  

his army was but a feint to draw General Washington to an action, rather than from a  fixed design immediately to evacuate the state of New Jersey.  Convinced of  this, Washington drew in his lines and recovered his camp on the hills, determined to  persevere in his defensive system, until some more advantageous opportunity  should justify the hazard of a general engagement.

It would undoubtedly have been highly imprudent for General Howe at this time to have  persisted in pushing his way to the Delaware through a country disgusted  and alienated by the barbarity of his troops.  Most of the inhabitants of this state were  now armed for defense. Inflamed by resentment from the suffering of the last  year, impelled by necessity from the impediments in the way of all private occupations,  and fired by a love of glory, they were now ardent for action, in proportion as  they had been heretofore remiss; and came to the field prepared to conquer or die in  defense of their country.  At the same time, General Washington was daily  gaining strength by the arrival of fresh troops from various other quarters.

The British commander accordingly thought proper, about midsummer, to decamp in  earnest.  He drew off his whole force as privately as possible to New York;  thence embarked and sailed from Sandy Hook July 23.  The destination of the fleet and  army was kept so profoundly secret that for some time after their  embarkation every capital on the continent was apprehensive that they should be the  

object of the next visit from a potent armament that seemed at a loss where to  direct their operations.  This expectation occasioned a general anxiety until the latter  part of August, when the fleet appeared in the Chesapeake, and the army soon  after landed at the head of the River Elk.  On his arrival there, General Howe  immediately published a proclamation in which he assured the inhabitants everywhere  of safety and protection, provided they were not found in arms, and promised pardon to  all officers and soldiers who should surrender to the royal army.

Indeed, his disposition to clemency appeared so conspicuous on this first arrival that it  prevented the entire depopulation of the adjacent parts of Maryland,  Pennsylvania, and the lower counties of Delaware; the inhabitants of which, on the first  appearance of so formidable a foe in their neighborhood, were struck with  consternation, and on the point of abandoning their habitations.

It was now obvious that the possession of the city of Philadelphia was the stake for  which both armies played.  General Washington had moved with the greatest  part of his troops for the defense of that elegant city and had by detached parties  embarrassed the march of the British army from the River Elk to the Brandywine.   In the neighborhood of the last, the two armies met, and on September 11 came to a  general engagement.  The battle was fought with bravery, and sustained with  spirit on both sides; but the fortune of the day declared against the Americans, yet not so  decidedly as the sanguine expectations of their antagonists had led them to  hope from such an event.  But it gave them an astonishing advantage in the minds of the  people through all the district of Pennsylvania; and enabled General Howe  with more facility to complete his enterprise.  Many officers of high rank on both sides  suffered much in the spirited action at the Brandywine.  A few days after this  affair, General Wayne, who had concealed himself in a wood with 1500 men, in order to  harass the rear of the British, was discovered and attacked by Brigadier  General Grey, who had given orders that no alarm should be made by the use of fire- arms.  He made the onset about one o'clock in the morning; and by more cruel  exercise of the bayonet, several hundred Americans were killed and wounded.  The  remainder, with difficulty, escaped by flight.

Among others who suffered in the Battle of Brandywine, the Marquis de la Fayette, a  young nobleman of France, was dangerously wounded.  Warmed by an  enthusiastic love of liberty, and animated by a laudable ambition, this amiable young  gentleman had left the Court of France without leave of the King. Quitting the  pleasures of domestic felicity, he embarked at his own expense, and engaged in the  service of the United States at an early period of the war, when the affairs of  America wore the darkest aspect.  His zeal and his heroism to the conclusion of the  contest placed the well-earned laurel on his brow, and procured him the love,  respect, and best wishes of the people throughout America.  Indeed, all the French  officers in the continental army, among whom were many of high consideration,  acquitted themselves with distinguished gallantry on this and many other occasions,  where the courage of the soldier, and the humanity of the officer, were called into  exercise.

General Washington, obliged to retreat in disorder and closely pursed after the action,  retired to Chester.  He soon after, with his army, reached Philadelphia.  But  the British commanders directed their operations with so much judgment and success  that before September 26 Washington thought proper to evacuate the city.  Lord Cornwallis with the British grenadiers and two battalions of Hessians on that day  made a triumphal entry and took possession of the capital of the United  States.

The era was truly critical. Congress again found it necessary, a second time, to desert the  city, and now repaired to York Town for safety.  Dissensions ran high  among the inhabitants of Philadelphia.  Some of the most opulent families were  disaffected, and renounced all adherence to the union; and several persons of different  descriptions, emboldened by the absence of Congress and the success of the British  arms, took this opportunity to declare in favor of the royal cause. One of  principal consideration among them went out and conducted the King's troops into the  city.  Others declared themselves zealously attached to the measures of  administration and equally disgusted with the opposition of the colonies.  Among these  was Joseph Galloway, a member of Congress and Speaker of the House of  Representatives in Pennsylvania.  He soon after repaired to England, where he  indefatigably exerted his abilities and influence against his native country, on all  occasions.

Besides those individual apostates, the Quaker interest had long embarrassed every  public measure in that colony.  They were a large and powerful body in the state  of Pennsylvania; and, notwithstanding their pacific principles, though not actually in  arms, they at this time took a decided part against the American cause. Their  previous conduct had drawn upon themselves many severities.  Several of the principal  leaders had been imprisoned, and others sent out of the city of Philadelphia,  on the approach of the British army.  Yet still they refused the smallest submission to  the present government and appealed to the laws by which they claimed  personal safety.  But whether from a consideration of the necessity of a temporary  suspension of law, in times of public and imminent danger, or whether from the  sanguine resolutions which operate on all parties when their favorite system totters on  the brink of ruin, little regard was paid even to the legal claims of this body of  citizens.  Several persons of the first distinction and character among them,  notwithstanding their just and sensible remonstrances, were sent off to Virginia to  prevent  the influence they might have through a state, then the principal seat of war.

From these political dissensions, the partial defeats, the loss of Philadelphia, the  slowness of recruits for permanent service, the difficulty of obtaining supplies for the  army from various causes, and particularly from the monopolizing and avaricious spirit  that was fast gaining ground in America, and from delay, "the betrayer of all  confederations," a lowering aspect was cast over the operations of America on every  side. On the contrary, the British government, the army, and their adherents,  had much reasons to flatter themselves with an idea of the speedy completion of their  designs against the United States.  They were now in possession of the first city  in the union; General Clinton was in force at New York; General Vaughan on the North  River, with troops sufficient to sweep away the inhabitants on both sides and  to keep the adjacent country in awe.  A large detachment of the British army still held  the possession of Newport. Colonel Losbourg with a Hessian brigade in  conjunction with them was piratically plundering the neighboring coasts and burning the  scattered villages of the state of Rhode Island.

It is proper here to observe that soon after the British troops had taken possession of  Rhode Island, some animosities had arisen between General How and Lord  Percy, who commanded there.  This was occasioned by a requisition from Sir William  Howe to His Lordship to send him on 1500 men for the better defense of  New York, and to aid his operations in that quarter.

Lord Percy declined a compliance with this order, alleging as a reason for this refusal  that the Americans were rapidly collecting and strengthening themselves in the  town of Providence; that the number of troops already there gave them reason to be  apprehensive for the safety of Newport.  General Howe resented the refusal;  threatened Earl Percy with a trial for disobedience of orders, and reprimanded him in  language which the Earl thought derogatory to an officer of his rank, character,  and consequence.  On this usage, which Lord Percy considered very affrontive, he  immediately wrote to his father the Duke of Northumberland, requesting him,  without delay, to obtain his recall from the American service.  Soon after this, he  embarked for England, having resigned his command to General Prescott.

His advance to the chief command of the troops on Rhode Island was not long enjoyed  by General Prescott, before a circumstance took place which was sufficiently  mortifying to himself and the British.  In the beginning of July 1777, Colon Barton, a  provincial officer, and several others, accompanied by only 38 men, embarked  in several boats from Warwick Neck, eluding the vigilance of the British ships and  guard boats, he and his party passed them in the dark and landed on Rhode Island  about 12 o'clock at night.

Colonel Barton had received some intelligence of the insecure situation in which the  British commander frequently lodged on the island. On this information, he  formed the bold design of surprising and seizing him. This he effected with a facility  beyond his own most sanguine expectations.  Having first secured the sentinel at  the door, he surprised General Prescott in his bed. One of his aids leaped from a window  in hopes of escape, but was prevented.  Their design accomplished, the little  party hastened to their boats with all possible expedition.  Signals were made for an  alarm on shore; but it was too late. Baron and his party were out of danger.   When they reached the spot from whence they had set out on this adventure, a chariot  was prepared for the reception of General Prescott, in which he was escorted  safely from Warwick to Providence.

Colonel Barton received great applause from his countrymen for his spirited and well  executed enterprise. It was not indeed an objected of much magnitude, but the  previous circumstances of General Prescott's conduct had been such as to render his  capture a subject of much exultation to the Americans. He had, while in  command at Newport, insulted and abused the inhabitants, ridiculed the American  officers, and set a price on some of their heads, particularly on that of General  Arnold, which Arnold retaliated with the advertisement of a small price for the head of  General Prescott.

The similarity of circumstances that attended the captures of generals Prescott and Lee  and their rank in the armies to which they respectively belonged rendered it  highly proper that an exchange should have taken place immediately. It was, however,  for a time delayed; but finally, General Lee obtained his liberty in consequence  of this business.

The discouraging circumstances above related with regard to the arrangements, military  posts, and operations of the British from Newport to New York, and from  New York to Philadelphia gave very promising prospects of success to the British in that  part of America.  At the same time, General Burgoyne, with the flower of  the British army, the Canadian provincial, and hordes of savages that poured down from  beyond the lakes, was making advances, and in the language of bombast  and self-confidence, threatened destruction and vengeance to any who should have  hardihood enough to endeavor to stop his progress or to oppose the authority  under which he acted. But notwithstanding the general wayward appearance of the affairs of the United States,  the legislatures, as we shall see, lost not their magnanimity, the people their  ardor, nor the army their valor. Not disheartened by the circumstances o the late action  at the Brandywine or the loss of Philadelphia, General Washington, with his  brave troops, in numbers comparatively inconsiderable, kept the British army in play,  until the setting in of winter.  Within a few days after the surrender of  Philadelphia, the Americans attacked the royal camp at Germantown, situated about six  miles from the city, where the main body of the British army had taken their  stand.

This was a very unexpected maneuver.  The attempt was bold, and the defense brave.   The Americans for a time seemed to have greatly the advantage; but the  enterprise finally failed. They were obliged to retreat  in great confusion, after the heavy  loss of many officers and men.  The disappointment of the Americans was in  consequence of the address and ability of Colonel Musgrove, who judiciously stood on  the defensive and check the progress of the continental troops until General  Grey and Brigadier General Agnew, with a large detachment, came to his relief. A  warm, but short action ensued; when the Americans were totally routed and  driven out of the field of action.

General Lee, who had not the highest opinion of General Washington's military abilities,  observed on this occasion "that by a single stroke of the bathos, the partial  victory at Germantown was corrupted into a defeat. [General Lee's letters.]  This was,  however, too severe a censure. A number of circumstances operated to blast  the hopes of the Americans, after the early promise of success.  The Britons themselves  have given testimony to the bravery and good conduct of Washington and  his army on this occasion.  One of their writers had attested "in this action the Americans  acted upon the offensive; and though repulsed with loss showed themselves a  formidable adversary, capable of charging with resolution, and retreating with order   The hope therefore entertained from the effect of any fair action with them, as  decisive, and likely to put a speedy termination to the war, was exceedingly abated."

The highest expectation had been formed on the reduction of Philadelphia both by the  foreign and internal foes of America.  Though both armies were fired with  equal ardor and on all occasions were equally ready for action, yet the repeated  skirmishes for several weeks in the neighborhood of the city, were not productive of  any very important consequences, except the loss of many brave men, and several  officers of great merit.  None of these were more distinguished and lamented than  General Nash on the American side and Brigadier General Agnew and Colonel Bird on  the British line, who lost their lives in the Battle of Germantown.

It was very important to the British commander after the above transactions to open  a free passage to Philadelphia by the Delaware, in order to obtain supplies  of provisions by water for their army.  this was impeded by the American shipping, and  by several strong posts held by the Americans on the river; the principal of  which was Red Bank. Here they had an opportunity of retrieving the recent disgrace of  their arms at Germantown.  the Hessians under the command of Colonel  Donop, had the principal hand in this business.  He crossed the Delaware, with 1500  men, at Cooper's Ferry opposite Philadelphia, and marched to attack the  redoubts at Red Bank.

A cannonade was opened:  the camp was attacked with spirit and defended with equal  gallantry by Colonel Greene of Rhode Island; who replied to the summons of  Count Donop to surrender, "that he should defend the place to the last extremity."  On  this, the Hessians attempted to storm the redoubts; but the assailants were  obliged to retreat in their turn.  One Hessian brigade was nearly cut to pieces in the  action, and Count Donop mortally wounded and taken prisoner, as were several  other officers of consideration.  The remainder retreated with great precipitation through  the night, leaving one half of their party dead, wounded, or prisoners to the  Americans; crossed the river the next morning; and in this mortified situation, the  remnant who escaped entered Philadelphia.  This important pass was a key to the  other posts on the river; and for its rave defense the officers and soldiers were justly  applauded, and Colonel Greene complimented by Congress, with the present of  an elegant sword.

After the action at Red Bank, the vigilance and caution of General Washington could  not be overcome by the valor and advantages of his foes, so far as to induce  him to hazard any action of consequence. [For this, General Washington was very  severely censured by some; and even the legislature of the state of Pennsylvania  remonstrated to Congress and expressed their uneasiness that the American commander  should leave the capital in possession of the enemy and retire to winter  quarters.  But his little army, destitute of every necessary, without the possibility of a  supply at that season, as a sufficient apology.] The design of opening the  Delaware as not the principal object of the British commander. This was effected  without much difficulty, after the reduction of Mud Island.  From this strong post,  the American's were obliged to retreat, after a very manly resistance.  They did not  evacuate their works until reduced to despair by some British ships  advantageously playing upon them.  From the very superior advantages of their enemies  in many respects they were induced to set fire to everything within reach;  and after great slaughter they abandoned a place which had already cost them too much  in its defense.

In the struggle to open the Delaware, the Augusta and the Merlin, on the part of Britain  were lost; but the losses to the Americans were far beyond those of the  British.  The Delaware frigate and some others were captured, and several ships burnt by  themselves to prevent their falling into the hands of their enemies.

Nothing more decided than the above transactions took place this season.  The Delaware  River thus cleared, and eligible winter quarters secured for the King's  troops, and the cold season fast advancing, General Howe gave up the pursuit of the  cautious and wary Washington. He found it impossible with all his efforts to  bring him to another general action, while his own judgment, and that of the most  judicious of his officers, forbade it, and common prudence dictated the probable  disadvantages of such a movement. His numbers were too small, and the wants of the  army too many, to hazard anything.  The most prudent defense was the only  line of conduct left to the American commander.

These circumstances induced General Howe, about the middle of December, to draw the  main body of his army into the city of Philadelphia. They were indeed  unable longer to keep the field, being very destitute of tents and other equipage  necessary for the army in a cold climate, at this inclement season.

Thus after the proud vaunts of victory and conquest, and the loss of many gallant  officers and brave men, the British commander had little to boast at the conclusion  of the campaign, but the possession of a city abandoned by the best of its inhabitants,  and the command of the adjacent country, circumscribed within the narrow  limits of 20 miles.  This was but a small compensation for the waste of life and treasure.   it was a gloomy picture of the termination of a campaign for Sir William  Howe to convey to his master and to his countrymen, after the exultation for some  partial successes had flattered them with the highest hopes of speedy and  complete victory. Yet, notwithstanding these vauntings over a people, among whom  there did not yet appear a probability of complete subjugation by the sword, nor  the smallest traces of a disposition among the people of America, to yield obedience to  the laws and requisitions which the government of Great Britain were  attempting thus to enforce at the point of the bayonet.

After Sir William Howe had retired and taken winter quarters in the city, a novel scene,  considering the weakness of the continental army, was exhibited without.  To  the surprise and wonder of their foes, and to the admiration of all mankind acquainted  with the circumstances, the Americans, nearly destitute of tents, poorly  supplied with provisions, almost without shoes, stockings, blankets, or other clothing,  cheerfully erected themselves huts of timber and brush, and encamped for the  winter at a place called Valley Forge, within 25 miles of the city of Philadelphia.  Thus  in the neighborhood of a powerful British army, fearless of its numbers and  strength, a striking proof of their intrepidity in suffering, sand their defiance of danger,  was exhibited by a kind of challenge bidden to their enemies, not very usual in  similar situations.  The commander in chief, and several of the principal officers of the  American army, in defiance of danger, either to themselves or to such tender  connections, sent for their ladies from the different states to which they belonged, to  pass the remainder of the winter, and by their presence to enliven the gloomy  appearance of a hutted village in the woods, inhabited only by a hungry and half-naked  soldiery. [Nothing but the inexperience of the American ladies and their  confidence in the judgment of their husbands could justify this hazard to their persons,  and to their feelings of delicacy.]

The resolution and patience of this little army surmounted every difficulty.  They waited  long, amid penury, hunger, and cold, for the necessary supplies which, in spite  of the utmost exertions of the several states, came in but too slowly. Such was the  deficiency of horses and wagons for the ordinary as well as extraordinary  occasions of the army, that the men in many instances cheerfully  yoked themselves to  little carriages of their own construction. Others loaded the wood and  provisions on their backs for present supply, in their extreme necessity.  General  Washington informed a committee sent from Congress to inquire into the state of the  army that some brigades had been some days without meat, and that the common  soldiers had frequently been at his quarters to make known their distresses.   Unprovided with materials to raise their cold lodgment from the ground, the dampness  of the situation, and the wet earth on which they lay occasioned sickness and  mortality to rage among them to an astonishing degree. "Indeed nothing could surpass  their suffering except the patience and fortitude with which it was endured by  the faithful part of the army.  Those of a different character deserted in great numbers."  [See a letter from the committee sent from Congress to Mr. Laurens, the  president.]

In this weak and dangerous situation, the American army continued encamped at Valley  Forge from December until May, while the British troops in high health and  spirits lay in Philadelphia, without once attempting to molest them. For this want of  vigor and enterprise, General Howe was severely and justly censured in Britain,  blamed by those interested in his success in America, and ridiculed by the impartial  observer in every quarter.  By his negligence this winter, he again undoubtedly  lost the fairest opportunity of executing the designs of his master and acquiring to  himself much military fame.  But by wasting his time in effeminate and reprehensible  pleasures, he sunk his character as an officer; and few scrupled to assert that the man of  honor and valor was lost for a time, in the arms of a handsome adulteress.  Many of his officers followed his example, and abandoned themselves to idleness and  debauchery; while the soldiers were left to indulge their own licentious habits.

At this period, though not attacked by a foreign foe, the situation of the American  commander in chief was really not very enviable.  It required the utmost prudence  and address to keep together the appearance of an army, under the complicated miseries  they must feel in the depth of winder, hungry and barefooted, whose  fatiguing, circuitous marches over the snowy path had been marked by their bleeding  feet, before they, in such a destitute predicament, pitched their tents in the  valley.  The dilatory spirit of some, and the peculating dispositions of other officers in  the various public departments, increased every difficulty with regard to clothing  and subsistence. The deplorable state of the sick, the corrupt conduct in some of the  hospitals, the want of discipline among the soldiers, the inexperience of officers,  the slowness of recruits, and the diminution of the old army from various causes, were  circumstances discouraging indeed; and might have been considered, if not a  balance, at least a weight in the scale against the advantages and pride of high station.  Yet these were not all the embarrassments which the commander in chief had  to encounter. General Washington had his personal enemies to combat: nor was he  without his rivals for power and fame. [Both the conduct and letters of General  Lee had in several instances confirmed the opinion that he was ambitious of obtaining  the chief command of the army of the United States; and doubtless he had a  party that for a short time flattered these expectations.  AT this time, indeed, he was a  prisoner, but his correspondences were extensive.]

In all communities there are some restless minds, who create jealousies and foment  divisions, that often injure the best cause, and the most unimpeachable character.  And it may be observed that there is every a spirit of intrigue and circumvention that  runs parallel with the passions of men.  Thus the fortune of war is frequently  changed by dangerous emulations, and the beset systems of social and political  happiness overthrown, by the envy and resentment of little minds, or the boundless  ambition of more exalted souls.  Nor was it many years before American discovered she  had in he bosom her Caesars and her Catalines, as well as her Brutuses and  her Catos.

Many persons were disgusted with the dictatorial powers vested in General Washington,  after the action at Trenton, which they alleged were at his own request.   These were ample indeed. He was empowered by Congress "to reform and new model  the military arrangements, in such manner as he judged best of the public  service."  He was also vested with several other discretionary powers [See resolves of  Congress.] Congress had indeed limited his power to six months; but  exigencies of the highest necessity had urged him sometimes to exercise it in a manner  too arbitrary for the principles and dispositions of Americans, unused to the  impressment of their property or the use of armies.

In this state of affairs, the commander was attacked by anonymous letters fictitious  signatures, and incendiary suggestion. He was censured for his cool operations,  defensive movements, and Fabian slowness.  Disadvantageous impressions were made  on the minds of some, and others were led to believe that General  Washington as not without his weaknesses and his foibles.  It was observed by one of  his principal officers [See a letter from General Reed to General Lee,  afterwards published], "That decision is often wanting in minds other ways valuable;  that an indecisive mind in a commander, is one of the greatest misfortunes that  could befall an army; that he had often lamented this circumstance through the  campaign; that they were in a very awful situation, in an alarming state, that required  the utmost wisdom and firmness of mind."

A wish at this time undoubtedly prevailed among some distinguished characters,  [Samuel Adams of Boston, General Mifflin, and several other characters of  distinction were suspected of unfriendly designs towards the commander in chief. But  there never were sufficient grounds to suppose that Mr. Adams ever harbored  an disaffection to the person of General Washington.  On the contrary, he respected and  esteemed his character and loved the man. But zealous and ardent in the  defense of his injured country, he was startled at everything that appeared to retard the  operations of war, or impede the success of the revolution; a revolution for  which posterity is as much indebted to the talents and exertions of Mr. Adams, as to  those of anyone in the United States. General Mifflin was a young gentleman of a warm and sanguine disposition. Active and  zealous, he engaged early in opposition to the measures of the British  Parliament. He took arms, and was among the first officers commissioned on the  organization of a continental army. For this he was read out of the Society of  Quakers, to which himself and his family had belonged. But Mr. Mifflin's principles led  him to consider himself under a moral obligation to act offensively as well as  defensively and vigorously to oppose the enemies of his country; and from his character  and principle, he undoubtedly wished o see a commander in chief of the  united armies who would admit of no delay in the acceleration of the object in which  they were engaged.] for a supercedence of his command. But Washington,  cool, cautious, and more popular than any man, his good genius was ever at hand to  preserve his character invulnerable. Yet, several circumstances confirmed the  opinion that even some members of Congress at this period were intriguing for his  removal.  It might indeed at this time have had a fatal effect on American affairs  had General Washington fallen beneath a popular disgust or the intrigues of his enemy.

Perhaps few other men could have kept together the shadow of an army under such a  combination of difficulties as the young republic had to encounter, both in the  field and the cabinet.  many men of a more active and enterprising spirit, might have put  a period to the war in a shorter space of time; yet perhaps not ultimately so  much in favor of America, as the slow, defensive movements of the officer then vested  with the chief command.

This line of conduct was thought by some to be not so much owing to his superior  sagacity and penetration, as to a constitutional want of ardency, at times when  energy appeared most necessary to many persons.  A predilection in favor of a  connection with Britain seems united to this disposition.  It had appeared clearly by  many circumstance sin conversation with this confidential friends that he was not in the  beginning of opposition, fond of a final separation from the parent state; and  that he wished to move defensively until some events might take place that would bring  back, and with honor and dignity re-unite the revolted colonies to the bosom  of their ancient parent. [In the early period of the war, many very worthy characters  opposed tot he British system, besides General Washington, wished for a  reconciliation with great Britain, if it could be procured consistently with honor, and  with sufficient pledges of security to the just claims to the colonies rather than an  irrevocable separation. But time convinced all that nothing but independence and a total  dismemberment could secure the liberties of the United States.

But the public opinion always in his favor, with a happy talent to secure the confidence  of the people, he commanded in a remarkable manner, their affections, their  resources, and their attachment to the end of the war; and had the good fortune to parry  every charge brought against him, with the firmness of the soldier, though  not without the sensibility of the man who found his reputation at stake.  He complained  heavily to his private friends, yet took no public notice of the vague  imputations of slander, that fell from the pen of a French officer of distinction, under the  signature De Lisle.

These letters were fraught with the most severe strictures on the general's military  character and abilities. Some other letters in the same style and manner, without a  name, were directed to gentlemen of character and consideration in several of the states.   Some addressed to Patrick Henry, Governor of the State of Virginia, he  immediately transmitted to Congress, and to the General himself.  However boldly some  of the charges were urged they made little impression on the public mind.  The transient tale of a day passed as the pathless, without leaving trace behind.   His  enemies shrunk from the charge; and General Washington, by the current of  applause that always set in his favor, became more than ever the idol of the army an the  people.

General Conway, the reputed author of the letters signed De Lisle, was a gentleman of  great military talents and experience, with an ambition equal to his abilities.   He had left France with high expectations of rank in the service of the United States.  Not satisfied with the appointment of Inspector General of the American army,  his pride wounded, and disappointed that he did not sustain a higher grade in office,  which he had been led to flatter himself with before he left his country, and  disgusted by the suspicions that fell on him after the publication of De Lisle's letters, he  resigned his commission and returned to Europe.

Conway was not the only officer of his country that suffered similar mortifications.  The  credulity of men of talents, family, and merit had been imposed on by the  indiscretion of one [Silas Deane, the first agent sent by Congress to France.] of the  American agents, and their imaginations fired by ideas of rank and preferment in  America, to which no foreigner was entitled.  Thus chagrined from the same cause, it  was thought the valiant Coudray, an officer of distinguished name and merit,  who was a brigadier general and chief engineer in the French service, leaped voluntarily  to his watery grave.  His death indeed was attributed to the fleetness of his  horse which it was said he could not command. Having occasion to cross the Schuylkill,  in company with some other officers, he entered a boat on horseback. The  career was swift; the catastrophe fatal. He leaped in on one side of the boat, and with  equal celerity out on the other.  Thus both horse and rider were irretrievably  lost.  Coudray was beloved and lamented by all who knew him; and the loss of Conway  was regretted by many who esteemed him for his literary abilities and his  military talents.