History From America's Most Famous Valleys
Frontiersmen of New York
by Jeptha R. Simms
Albany, NY 1883
Volume I, Page 440.
Causes Leading to the American Revolution.-Before tracing the events of our long and bloody struggle for NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE; it may be well to give the young reader some of the causes which foreshadowed the coming of that great drama, made up of peril, of hope-deferred, of long-suffering---aye of death and eventual triumph.
Much had occurred during the colonizing of the several American states, to estrange their affection and allegiance from the British Crown. Repeated attempts had been made to abrogate the charters-limit their manufactures, and circumscribe their commerce: while numerous measures were adopted to render them more servile, and less confident in their own capacity for self-government.
The war between Great Britain and France, of which I have given a general account, which lasted from 1755 to 1762, and ended so gloriously for Britain in the conquest of Canada and other French possessions in America, first discovered to England the importance of her American colonies. The English, at that period, knew but little of the true state of feeling existing in America, except that obtained through prejudiced sources. The war to which I have alluded, created for Britain a heavy national debt. To liquidate this debt, the colonies were taxed, without having a voice in the councils of the mother country; against which they firmly, and with great unanimity remonstrated. The British ministry, ignorant of the geography of the colonies, treated those popular remonstrances with a degree of indifference that tended to lessen the confidence of the colonists in the home Government. To the mad policy the British ministry pursued, there were in England some honorable opposers. Among the foremost may be registered the illustrious names of a Pitt, a Conway and a Barre. From the fact, that the colonists found some noble champions in England to assert their rights, they were the more united and untiring in their attempts to obtain redress. As the criminal, if restrained even for an imaginary offence, is the more closely confined and watched if he makes any attempt to regain his liberty, so it was with the colonies; the more they remonstrated, the heavier the manacles wrought for them. It is not to be wondered at, that a people taught from the cradle to appreciate liberty, should manfully assert and maintain it.
A system of taxation was devised by the British ministry as early as 1754. The plan proposed that the colonies should erect fortifications, raise troops, etc.; with power to draw on the British treasury to defray the expense of the same--the whole ultimately to be reimbursed by a tax on the colonies. This plan was objected to by the sagacious Franklin, who, in a written reply to Governor Shirley of Massachusetts, proved clearly that the Americans could never submit to a tax that would render them servile-that they were already taxed indirectly without having a voice, being compelled to pay heavy duties on the manufactures of the mother country; although many of the articles might be manufactured on American soil, or purchased cheaper in some other foreign market.
Dissatisfaction was for years gaining ground in the colonies; and as the intelligence of the people increased, so that they could the better appreciate the value of liberty, the prejudices against the mother country were correspondingly augmented. Every new step the ministry took, having for its ultimate object to fix upon the Americans a system of taxation, was regarded with jealousy. They were aware that Great Britain had so fettered their foreign trade, as almost wholly to confine their commerce to herself.
The French war had swelled the national debt of England to nearly three hundred and twenty millions of dollars. George Grenville, then prime minister of England, wishing to devise some means for raising a revenue to meet the increased expenses of the British government, which should not prove onerous at home, proposed to raise a revenue in America to go into the exchequer of Great Britain. The first act for this object was passed in 1764. It imposed a duty on "clayed sugar, indigo, etc.," and would have been submitted to, had it not been closely followed by others still more oppressive. Governor Bernard, of Massachusetts, issued a pamphlet, doubtless from sinister motives, justifying the course of England. He recommended abolishing the colonial charters-a new division of the colonies-a nobility for life in each division the whole to come under one general government, and that to be under the control of the King, abolishing, also, religious freedom of opinion, etc. It may well be imagined what effect sentiments would produce in America, which were intended to demolish colonial rights. In March, of the same year, Mr. Grenville reported a resolution imposing certain stamp duties on the colonies. It was not to be acted upon, however, until the next session of Parliament. Opportunity being thus afforded the colonies, nearly all expressed in the interim, their disapprobation. In strong terms the House of Burgesses, of Virginia, signified their sense of the measure. They addressed lucid and sensible remonstrances to the King and both houses of Parliament. In those, they exhibited the want of a precedent to such a proceeding-the subversion of their rights as subjects of Great Britain-the exhausted state of their finances by the late war, which left that colony involved in a debt, to cancel which must impose for years to come a tax on her citizens-the general depression of business-their present exposed state, as the Indians on the frontier were unsubdued, and might increase their colonial debt, etc. The addresses throughout, breathed a tone of humble firmness. Those memorials were not even allowed to be read in the House of Commons. Doctor Franklin, who was then in England, waited upon Mr. Grenville in person, to persuade him to abandon a measure, he well knew must excite the whole continent. Grenville persevered, and in March, 1765, the obnoxious bill was brought into the House of Commons. General Conway was the only member who openly contended against the right of Parliament to enact such a law. Charles Townsend, an advocate for the bill, closed a long and pretty speech as follows:
"And now will those Americans, children planted by our care, nurished by our indulgence, till they are grown to a degree of strength and opulence, and protected by our arms, will they grudge to contribute their mite to relieve us from the heavy weight of that burden which we lie under?"
Colonel Barre, one of the most respectable members of the House of Commons, with strong feelings of indignation in his countenance and expression, replied to Mr. Townsend in the following eloquent and laconic manner:
"THEY PLANTED BY YOUR CARE?- No. Your oppressions planted them in America. They fled from your tyranny into a then uncultivated land, where they were exposed to all the hardships to which human nature is liable; and among others, to the cruelties of a savage foe, the most subtle, and, I will take upon me to say, the most terrible, that ever inhabited any part of God's earth. And yet, actuated by principles of true English liberty, they met all these hardships with pleasure, when they compared them with those they suffered in their own country, from men who should have been their friends.
"THEY NURISHED BY YOUR IDULGENCE?-They grew up by your neglect of them. As soon as you began to care about them, that care was exercised in sending persons to rule them in one department and in another, who were perhaps the deputies of deputies to some members of this House, sent to spy out their liberties, to misrepresent their actions, and to prey upon them, often whose behavior on many occasions, has caused the blood of those sons of liberty to recoil within them. -Men promoted to the highest seats of justice, some of whom to my own knowledge were glad, by going to a foreign country, to escape being brought to the bar of a court of justice in their own.
"THEY PROTECTED BY YOUR ARMS ?-They have nobly taken up arms in your defence. They have exerted a valor amidst their constant and laborious industry, for the defence of a country whose frontier was drenched in blood, while its interior parts yielded all its little savings to your emolument. And believe--remember I this day tell you so, that same spirit of freedom which actuated that people at first, will accompany them still: but prudence forbids me to explain myself further. God knows I do not at this time speak from any motives of party heat; what I deliver are the genuine sentiments of my heart. However superior to me in general knowledge and experience the respectable body of this House may be, yet I claim to know more of Americans than most of you, having seen and been conversant in that country. The people, I believe, are as truly loyal as any subjects the King has, but a people jealous of their liberties, and who will vindicate them, if ever they should be violated: but the subject is too delicate -I will say no more."
The bill was passed by the Commons, and met with no opposition in the House of Lords. On the twenty-second of the same month, 1765, it received the royal assent. Soon after the passage of the bill, Doctor Franklin, in a letter to Mr. Charles Thompson, afterwards secretary to Congress, thus writes: "The sun of liberty is set; you must light up the candles of industry and economy." Said Mr. Thompson, in his reply to Franklin "Be assured that we shall light up torches of quite another sort." To Mr. Ingersoll, who left London about the time the bill passed, Doctor Franklin said: "Go home and tell your people to get children [for soldiers] as fast as they can." The act, which was not to take effect until the following November, provided that all contracts should be written on stamped paper, or have no force in law. As a matter of course, the paper was to be furnished at extravagant prices. As it was foreseen that unusual measures would be required to enforce a law, which, from its very nature, must meet with resistance, provision was made that all penalties for its violation might be recovered in the admiralty courts, which received their appointment from the crown. This was intended to obviate the process of trial by jury, as it was supposed no colonial jury would aid in enforcing a law so obnoxious. The news of its final passage was received in the colonies with sorrow. Everything was done by the people that could be, to manifest their abhorrence of the stamp act. The shipping in the harbor at Boston displayed colors at half mast; church bells were muffled and tolled, and societies in most of the colonies were formed to resist the execution of the law. Masters of vessels who brought the stamps were treated with indignity, and compelled to deliver up the stamps to the populace, who made bonfires of them and the law. Effigies of Andrew Oliver, who had been appointed stamp-distributor for the colony of Massachusetts, and the British minister, Lord North (who had succeeded Mr. Grenville) and some of his advisers, were made, and in solemn mockery burned. Justices of the peace refused to interpose their authority to enforce the law. Stamp officers were compelled to yield to the popular will, and agree never to deliver a stamp. And what was most alarming to Great Britain, many of the merchants entered into solemn engagements to import no more goods from the mother country, until the act was repealed.
In the month of May following the passage of the act, five spirited resolutions against the law were introduced into the Legislature of Virginia by Patrick Henry, and after a very warm debate were adopted, The fifth resolution read as follows:
"Resolved, therefore, That the General Assembly of this colony have the sole right and power to lay taxes and impositions upon the inhabitants of this colony; and that every attempt to vest such power in any person or persons whatever, other than the General Assembly aforesaid, has a manifest tendency to destroy British as well as American freedom." [Nearly at the same time the Assembly of Massachusetts adopted similar resolves.]
In the city of New York the stamp-act was printed, under the title of "The folly of England, and the ruin of America," and hawked about the streets. When it became known that colonial assemblies were evincing hostility to the law, the timid became more bold, and the tendency to mobocracy could not be restrained. In many parts of Connecticut and Rhode Island, mobs to oppose the law were collected; while in Boston the populace wantonly destroyed the buildings and property of the stamp officers. In June the Legislature of Massachusetts proposed the expediency of calling a Continental Congress, to meet in New York the following October. Nine of the colonies sent delegates. The result of their deliberations was, a declaration of rights, in which they claimed the exclusive right to tax themselves, and the privilege of trial by jury, a memorial to the House of Lords, and petition to the King and Commons. Colonies, presented by the proroguing power of their Governors from sending delegates to the convention, expressed their earliest possible approbation of the proceedings.
On the first day of November, 1765, when the stamp-act was to take effect, sadness was manifest in all the colonies. In Boston the workshops and stores were closed, and while the bells tolled as for a funeral, effigies of the friends of the act were marched in solemn procession through the streets to a gallows on Boston neck, where, after the hangman had done his duty, they were cut, down and destroyed. At Portsmouth public notice was given to the friends of liberty to attend her funeral; a coffin was prepared, upon which was inscribed in large letters the word Liberty. This was followed by a numerous procession-while the bells were tolling and minute guns were firing-to the grave. There an oration was pronounced, in which it was hinted that the deceased might possibly revive. The coffin was then disinterred, the word Revived conspicuously added to the inscription, after which the bells rang a merry peal. Printers boldly printed and circulated their papers, without the required stamp. Associations were formed from Maine to the Mississippi, entitled the "Sons of Liberty," composed of the talent and wealth of the people; pledging their fortunes and their lives to defend the liberty of the press, and put down the stamp-act. The scheme of continental alliance, which afterwards followed, sprang from these associations. Nor were the males alone patriotic: females of the highest rank, and bred to luxurious ease, became members in all the colonies, of societies, resolving to forego luxuries, and to card, spin, and weave their own clothing. Fair reader! a suit of home-spun was then a mark of popular distinction. Such was the spirit of opposition to a favorite measure of the British ministry. Parliament again convened in January, 1766; when a multitude of petitions, from all parts of England and America, were presented for the repeal of the stamp-act. Some changes had taken place in the English cabinet more favorable to the colonial cause, but Mr. Grenville still retained a place in it. After the speech of the King had been read, Mr. Pitt, the great champion of equal rights, occupied the floor. He briefly censured the acts of the late ministry, after which he thus expressed himself.
"It is a long time, Mr. Speaker, since I have attended in Parliament: when the resolution was taken in this House to tax America, I was ill in bed. If I could have endured to have been carried in my bed, so great was the agitation of my mind for the consequences, I would have solicited some kind hand to have laid me down on this floor, to have borne my testimony against it. It is my opinion, that this kingdom has no right to lay a tax upon the colonies. At the same time, I assert the authority of this kingdom to be sovereign and supreme in every circumstance of government and legislation whatsoever. Taxation is no part of the governing or legislative power; the taxes are a voluntary gift and grant of the Commons alone. The concurrence of the Peers and the Crown is necessary only as a form of law. This House represents the commons of Great Britain. When in this House we give and grant, therefore, we give and grant what is our own, but, can we give and grant the property of the Commons of America' It is an absurdity in terms. There is an idea in some, that the colonies are virtually represented in this House. I would fain know by whom? The idea of virtual representation is the most contemptible that ever entered into the head of man. It does not deserve a serious refutation. The commons in America, represented in their several Assemblies, have invariably exercised this constitutional right of giving and granting their own money: they would have been slaves if they had not enjoyed it. At the same time this kingdom has ever professed
the power of legislation and commercial control. The colonies acknowledge your authority in all things, with the sole exception that you shall not take their money out of their pockets without their consent. Here would I draw the line-quam ultra citraque nequit consistere rectum "-[right forbids you to go beyond or fall short of it.]"
Mr. Grenville, the prime mover of the mischief, arose to defend his measures. He compared the tumults in America to an open rebellion-said he feared the doctrine that day promulgated would lead to revolution. He justified the right of taxing the colonies, etc. Said he--
"Protection and obedience are reciprocal. Great Britain protects America, America is therefore bound to yield obedience. If not, tell me, when were the Americans emancipated? The seditious spirit of the colonies, owes its birth to the factions in this House. We were told we trod on tender ground; we were bid to expect disobedience; what is this but telling America to stand out against the law? To encourage their obstinacy with the expectation of support here? Ungrateful people of America! The nation bas run itself into an immense debt to give them protection; bounties have been extended to them; in their favor the act of navigation has been relaxed: and now that they are called upon to contribute a small share towards the public expense, they renounce your authority, insult your officers, and break out, I might almost say, into open rebellion."
Mr. Grenville took his seat, and Mr. Pitt, with permission of the House, rose, with indignation visible in his countenance, to reply:
"Sir," [addressing the speaker], "a charge is brought against gentlemen sitting in this House, for giving birth to sedition in America. The freedom with which they have spoken their sentiments against this unhappy act, is imputed to them as a crime; but the imputation shall not discourage me. It is a liberty which I hope no gentleman will be afraid to exercise; it is a liberty by which the gentleman who calumniates it, might have profited. He ought to have desisted from his project. We are told America is obstinate-America is almost in open rebellion. :Sir, I rejoice that America has resisted. Three millions of people so dead to all the feelings of liberty, as voluntarily to submit to be slaves, would have been fit instruments to have made slaves of all the rest." '[After a very happy reply to some old law passages cited by Mr. Grenville, he thus continued]-'" When,' said the honorable gentleman, 'were the colonies emancipated?' At what time, say I in answer, were they made slaves? I speak from accurate knowledge when I say, that the profits to Great Britain from the trade of the colonies, through all its branches, is two millions per annum. This is the fund which carried you triumphantly through the war; this is the price America pays you for her protection; and shall a miserable financier come with a boast that he can fetch a pepper-corn into the exchequer, at the loss of millions to the nation? I know the valor of your troops; I know the skill of your officers; I know the force of this country; but in such a cause your success would be hazardous. America, if she fell, would fall like the strong man: she would embrace the pillars of the State and pull down the Constitution with her. Is this your boasted peace '? Not to sheathe the sword in the scabbard, but to sheathe it in the bowels of your countrymen? The Americans have been wronged; they have been driven to madness by injustice. Will you punish them for the madness you have occasioned? No: let this country be the first to resume its prudence and temper; I will pledge myself for the colonies that, on their part, animosity and resentment will cease. The system of policy I would earnestly adopt in relation to America, is happily expressed in the words of a favorite poet:
'Be to her faults a little blind,
Be to her virtues very kind,
Let all her ways be unconfined
And clap your padlock on her mind.'
Upon the whole I beg leave to tell the House, in a few words, what is really my opinion. It is that the stamp-act be repealed; ABSOLUTELY, TOTALLY AND IMMEDIATELY."
In addition to the information contained in the numerous petitions laid before Parliament, Dr. Franklin was called to the bar, and questioned freely as to the real state of feeling existing in the colonies toward the act. By a division of the House a large majority were in favor of not enforcing; and shortly after a bill passed for repealing the law. The news of its repeal produced joy throughout England and America. Illuminations and decorations took place in the former, while in the latter country public thanksgivings were offered in the churches; non-importation resolutions rescinded. and the home-spun apparel given to the poor. The difficulty between the two countries would soon have been healed, had not the repeal of the stamp-act been followed with the "Declaratory Act," which was, "that Parliament have, and of right ought to have, power to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever." In this the right to tax was still maintained: in addition to this probe to open the wound anew, a law remained unrepealed, which directed that whenever troops should be marched into any of the colonies, necessary articles should be provided for them at the expense of the colony. The Assembly of New York refused obedience to this law, and Parliament, to punish that body, suspended its authority. The alarm occasioned by this act, considered by the people despotic, had not time to die away, before a new and aggravated cause of grievance was added, by the passage of a law imposing duties on the importation of glass, tea, and other enumerated articles, into the colonies, provision by the act being made for the appointment of com. missioners of the customs, to be dependent solely on the Crown. About the same time Gov. Bernard of Massachusetts who had received private instructions to see that the colony made provision to remunerate the losses of those who had honored the stamp-act, being already very unpopular with the people, assumed, in his message to the Assembly, a tone of haughty reproach. This message produced a sarcastic and indignant reply. From this time the friends of liberty daily increased, and the court party correspondingly declined. The joy felt in the colonies for the repeal of the stamp-act, was of very short duration. The non-importation agreements were revived-looms and cards once more set to work-the spinning wheel, the piano of the times, was heard buzzing in the dwellings of the rich, where" the women that were wise-headed," imitating those described in the 35th chapter of Exodus-" did spin with their hands." Articles of domestic manufacture became again, with patriots, the fashion of the day-petitions and remonstrances were drawn up and circulated-and India tea, yielded its place on the tables of its fond drinkers, to beverages of a different character.
In 1768, troops were stationed in New York and Boston, to awe the people into submission to the acts of Parliament.
Early in the same year Massachusetts addressed a circular letter to the Legislatures of the sister colonies, to have them unite in advising what course it was best to pursue. A series of essays, published in a Philadelphia newspaper at this period, entitled, "Letters from a farmer in Pennsylvania to the inhabitants of the British Colonies," from the pen of that enlightened patriot, John Dickinson, Esq., augmented the spirit of the times. In 1769, resolutions were adopted in Parliament reprobating in strong terms the conduct of the people of Massachusetts, and directing that pliant tool of oppression, Governor Bernard, to make strict inquiry into all treasonable acts committed in that province since 1767, that persons thus guilty might have their offenses investigated, and their fate decided upon within the realm os Great Britain.
The House of Burgesses of Virginia, which met shortly after, adopted, with closed doors, from fear of being prorogued by the Governor, resolutions expressive of their sense of the injustice and unconstitutionality of transporting criminals for trial among strangers, believing it to be highly derogatory to the rights of British subjects. Soon after this public manifestation of popular displeasure, the general court of Massachusetts convened at Cambridge; the public buildings in Boston being filled at that time with British soldiers. Governor Bernard wished them to provide funds to defray the expenses of quartering his Majesty's troops. No notice, however, was taken of the request ; and he shortly after left the province, unhonored and unlamented. He had been an eye servant for the British ministry, .and his system of espionage had won for him the curses of the Union, which was then forming. Had the colonies been governed by men who were more willing to redress known grievances, and less anxious to please a ministry 3,000 miles distant, it is possible the separation of the colonies from the mother,country might have been prevented. Gov. Trumbull, of Connecticut, it should be observed, was an exception to the general rule.
Nothing occurred in 1769 to avert the impending storm. The mass of the people, in the meantime, were properly investigating the causes then agitating the country, and which were fast approaching a crisis. Non-importation agreements were now producing an effect which told on the mother country. In June of that year, delegate!! from the several counties in Maryland met at Annapolis and adopted spirited resolves: in one of which they took measures to secure to the country the article of wool, by agreeing not to kill any ewe lambs.
The troops quartered in New York and Boston were a constant source of irritation and difficulty with the inhabitants. On the second day of March, 1770, a quarrel took place at Boston between a British soldier and a man employed at a ropewalk. This quarrel was renewed by the citizens on the evening of the fifth, when a part of Captain Preston's company, after having been pelted with snow-balls, derided and dared to, fired upon the multitude, killing three and wounding five others. The ringing of bells, the beating of drums, and the shout to arms! by the people, soon brought together thousands of citizens. A body of troops-sent, in the meantime, to rescue Preston's men-would doubtless have been massacred, had not Governor Hutchinson and some of the leading citizens, among whom was Samuel Adams, interfered. The Governor promised that the matter should be amicably adjusted in the morning, and the mob dispersed. The anniversary of this first martyrdom in the cause of American liberty, was celebrated by the Bostonians until the close of the war. The immortal Warren delivered two of the anniversary orations. In the first which he delivered in 1772, on alluding to the events of that memorable evening, he thus speaks:
"When we beheld the authors of our distress parading in our streets, or drawn up in a regular battalia, as though in a hostile city, our hearts beat to arms; we snatched our weapons, almost resolved, by one decisive stroke, to avenge the death of our slaughtered brethren, and to secure from future danger all that we held most dear: but propitious heaven forbade the bloody carnage, and saved the threatened victims of our too keen resentment; not by their discipline, not by their regular array-no, it was royal George's livery that proved their shield -it was that which turned the pointed engines of destruction from their breasts." [In a note of reference to the foregoing extract, he thus adds;] "I have the strongest reason to believe that I have mentioned the only circumstance which saved the troops from destruction. It was then, and now is, the opinion of those who were best acquainted with the state of affairs at that time, that had thrice that number of troops, belonging to any power at open war with us, been in this town, in the same exposed condition, scarce a man would have lived to have seen the morning light."
Three days after the massacre the obsequies were solemnized. Every demonstration of respect was manifested. The stores and workshops were closed, the bells of Boston, Charlestown and Roxbury were tolled, and thousands followed the remains to their final resting place. The bodies were all deposited in one vault. This unhappy event and its annual observance, tended greatly to widen the breach between the colony of Massachusetts and the mother country. In New York, quarrels also arose between the citizens and soldiers. Liberty poles, erected by the former, were cut down by the latter.
While such events were transpiring, an attempt was made in England to repeal the laws for raising a revenue in America. The duties were removed from all articles except tea, it being thought necessary by Parliament to have, at least, one loaf constantly ill the oven of discord. The repeal of a part of the obnoxious law produced little effect in the colonies, except to modify the non-importation agreements so as to exclude only tea from the country; and those patriots who had not before substituted, instead of tea, a cold water or herbaceous beverage, did now. Said Dr. Thacher in his Military Journal, written at that period, "Those who are anxious to avoid the epithet of enemies to their country, strictly prohibit the use of tea in '. their families; and the most squeamish ladies are compelled to shave recourse to substitutes, or secretly steal indulgence in their favorite East India beverage."
The Crisis Approaching.-The reader will perceive that, the place: that period is now approaching when, by the clashing of 8teel, it was to be maintained.
In 1772, his Majesty's revenue cutter Gaspee, while giving chase to the Providence, a packet sailing into Newport, and suspected of dealing in contraband wares, ran aground in Providence river, and was burned by the patriots in the vicinity. This was a bold act, and the sum of five hundred pounds was offered for the discovery of the offenders, and full pardon to anyone who would become State's evidence: but in this case, as in that of Andre's capture, gold had no influence.
In 1773 provinces not exposed to the acts of a lawless soldiery, were fast breathing the same spirit manifested by those which were: propitious gales wafted it to the remotest parts. The talented Patrick Henry, who made human nature and human events his study, prophesied, during this year, that the colonies would become independent. Virginia, in March of 1773, again took the lead in Legislative resolves, against tyrannical oppression. The Legislatures of New England and Mary]and responded cordially to them. Governor Hutchinson of Massachusetts, who succeeded Mr. Bernard, by a system of espionage similar to that of the latter, became to the people of that colony very odious. During this year standing committees were appointed in the colonial assemblies, to correspond with each other. At this period, committees had been formed in almost every town in some of the colonies, which had for their chief object, the speedy communication of important information, there being then but few printing presses in the country. Some time in this year, Doctor Franklin obtained in London several original letters, written by governor Hutchinson and others at Boston, to members of the British Parliament; stating that the opposition to the laws, were, in Massachusetts, confined to a few factious individuals: recommending at the same time, the abridging of colonial rights, and the adoption of more vigorous measures. These letters were transmitted to America, and their contents being soon known in every hamlet in New England, the popular indignation was greatly increased. The Legislature of Massachusetts, in an address to his Majesty, demanded the recall of the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor. This Legislative proceeding was the cause of much opprobrium being cast upon Franklin in Eng]and.
Owing to the rigid observance of the non-importation resolves, the East India company now found their tea accumulating in vast quantities in their ware-houses. They were therefore under the necessity of petitioning Parliament for relief. Permission was granted them to import it on their own account: and they accordingly appointed consignees in several American sea-ports, and made heavy shipments to them. They intended, no doubt, to land it free of duty to the American merchant, but the law imposing the duty yet remained on the statute book of England; and the popular voice decided, that while the right to tax was maintained, the tea should not be landed. In Philadelphia the consignees declined their appointment. In New York, hand-bills were circulated, threatening with ruin those who should vend tea; and warning pilots, at their peril, not to conduct ships into that port laden with the article. In Boston, inflammatory handbills were also circulated, but the consignees, being in favor with the governor, accepted their appointments. This excited the whole colony of Massachusetts, and enraged the citizens. In the mean time, several ships, containing thousands of chests, arrived on the coast. So determined were the people not to allow the tea to be landed, that ship after ship was compelled to return to England, without unloading a single chest. Philadelphia took the lead, and was nobly sustained by New York. In Charleston, S. C., it was landed but not permitted to be sold. On the 29 of November, 1773, the Dartmouth, an East India ship, laden with tea, entered the harbor of Boston. At a numerous meeting of citizens, held to consult on the course to be pursued, it was resolved, "that the tea should not be landed, that no duty should be paid, and that it should be sent back in the same vessel." To enforce the resolutions, a vigilant watch was organized to prevent its being secretly landed. The captain was notified to return with his cargo; but Governor Hutchinson refused to sanction his return. In the mean time, other vessels, laden with tea, arrived there. On the 16 of December, the citizens of Boston and vicinity assembled to determine what course to adopt. On the evening of that day, when it was known that the Governor refused a pass for the vessels to return, a person in an Indian's dress gave the war whoop in the gallery of the Assembly room. At this signal the people hurried to the wharves; when a party of about thirty men, disguised as Mohawks, protected by thousands of citizens on shore, boarded the vessels, broke open and emptied the contents of three hundred and forty-two chests of tea into the ocean, without tumult or personal injury.
These violent proceedings greatly excited the displeasure of the British government. Early in 1774 an act was passed in Parliament, levying a fine on the town of Boston, as a compensation to the East India company for the tea destroyed the preceding December. About the same time, an act closing the port of Boston, and removing the custom house to Salem: and another depriving the colony of Massachusetts of her constitution and charter, were passed: and to cap the climax of oppression, a bill was introduced making provision for the trial in England, instead of that colony for capital offense; which passed the same year. A few individuals strenuously opposed those measures, believing that the colonists would be driven to acts of desperation; but they were passed by large majorities. When the bill for blockading the town of Boston was under discussion in March of this year, Gov. Johnston, who opposed the measure, said in a speech on that occasion, "I now venture to predict to this house, that the effect of the present bill must be productive of a general Confederacy, to resist the power of this country." Gen. Conway was again found the champion of equal rights, and when the bill was under discussion to destroy the chartered privileges of the colony, he closed a brief but pertinent speech with the following sentence: "These acts respecting America, will involve this country and its ministers in misfortune: and, I wish I may not add, in ruin." It has often been asserted that the whole bench of Bishops in England who are legally constituted members of Parliament, were in favor of forcing the colonies to submit to the unwise acts of the mother country. There was one most honorable exception. The Rev. Dr. Johnathan Shipley, Bishop of St. Asaph, was the nobleman alluded to. When the bill for altering the charter of the colony of Massachusetts was under discussion, he prepared a speech replete with wisdom, and containing the most convincing proofs, that the British government were in the wrong and were pursuing a course illy calculated to bring the colonies again to prove profitable to England. He showed the evil of making the Governors dependent on the crown, instead of the governed, for support. Said he :
" Your ears have been open to the governors and shut to the people. This must necessarily lead us to countenance the jobs of interested men, under the pretence of defending the rights of the crown. But the people are certainly the best judges whether they are well governed; and the crown can have no rights inconsistent with the happiness of the people." [Speaking of the act of taxation, he says:] "If it was unjust to tax them, [the Americans] we ought to repeal it for their sakes; if it was unwise to tax them, we ought to repeal it for our own." [He exhibited the fact that the whole revenue raised in America in 1772, amounted only to eighty-five pounds.] " Money that is earned so dearly as this [said he] ought to be expended with great wisdom and economy. My lords, were you to take up but one thousand pounds more from North America upon the same terms, the nation itself would be a bankrupt. [He added in another place:] It is a strange idea we have taken up, to cure their resentments, by increasing their provocations, to remove the effects of our own ill conduct, by multiplying the instances of it. But the spirit of blindness and infatuation has gone forth. * * Recollect that the Americans are men of like passions with ourselves, and think how deeply this treatment must affect them."
The argumentative speech of the learned Bishop, which was not delivered in the House for want of an opportunity, was published soon after, but, as he had anticipated, "not a word of it was regarded." While the declaratory bill of the sovereignty of Great Britain, over the colonies was under discussion, in March, Mr. Pitt, then lord Chatham, again opposed the principle of taxation without representation, and closed an animated speech as follows:
"The forefathers of the Americans did not leave their native country, and subject themselves to every danger and distress, to be reduced to a state of slavery: they did not give up their rights; they looked for protection, and not for chains, from their mother country; by her they expected to be defended in the possession of their property, and not to be deprived of it; for should the present power continue, there is nothing they can call their own; or, to use the words of Mr. Locke, ‘what property have they in that which another may by right take, when he pleases, to himself?'"
The news in the colonies of the passage of these unjust laws carried with it gloom and terror. The better informed saw the approaching contest, yet firmly resolved to live or die freemen. From the north to the south the same spirit was manifested, and the kindest sympathy felt for the Bostonians, who were considered as suffering in the cause of liberty. The first day of June, when the Boston port bill began to operate, was observed in most of the colonies as a day of fasting and prayer.
Governor Hutchinson of Massachusetts was recalled early in 1774, and Gen. Gage appointed his successor; but the interests of the people found no material benefit from this change of rulers. On the 17th of June, the general court of Massachusetts, at the suggestion of a committee in Virginia, recommended the calling of a Congress at Philadelphia, on the first Monday of the following September. At a numerous meeting of the inhabitants of the city of New York, convened in an open field on the sixth of July, with Alexander McDougal in the chair, a series of spirited resolutions were adopted, among which was the following:
"Resolved, That any attack or attempt to abridge the liberties or invade the constitution of any of our sister colonies, is immediately an attack upon the liberties and constitution of all the other British colonies."
About this time, the motto, United we stand, divided we fall!" originated in Hanover, Virginia; while almost at the same instant the motto, "Join or die!" had its origin in Rhode Island. On the first day of September, the following circumstance gave a new impulse to the spirit of independence in the colony of Massachusetts: Gov. Gage had ordered a military force to take possession of the powder in the provincial arsenal at Charlestown, near Boston. It was rumored abroad that the British fleet in the harbor were bombarding the town, and thirty thousand men, in less than two days, mostly armed, were on their way to Boston. Another circumstance took place in that city, about the same time, which added oil to the lamp of liberty. Gov. Gage deprived John Hancock of his commission as Colonel of cadets; a volunteer body of Governor's guards. The company took offense at the act and instantly disbanded. The late Governors, Bernard and Hutchinson, repeatedly represented to the British ministry that the colonies could never form a union. They had hoped as much, and taken no little pains to prevent such an event; but when the fifth of September, 1774, arrived, delegates from twelve of the thirteen colonies met in convention, Georgia alone excepted: she soon after joined the confederacy. Peyton Randolph, of Virginia, was chosen president, and Charles Thompson, of Pennsylvania, secretary of this body. Patrick Henry was the first to address the meeting. While in session, this Congress passed resolutions approving the course of the citizens of Boston, opposing the acts of Parliament, advising union, peaceable conduct, etc. They remonstrated with General Gage against fortifying Boston Neck recommended a future course to be pursued by the colonies setting forth clearly the present evils, their causes and remedies. They advised economy and frugality-the abstaining from all kinds of intemperance, festivities, and the like-requiring committees to report all the enemies of American liberty, that their names might be published. They also addressed a petition to the King, a memorial to the citizens of England, an address to the people of the colonies, and another to the French inhabitants of Quebec, Georgia, Nova Scotia, and other British provinces not represented. In their petition to the King, they simply asked to be restored to their situation in the peace of 1763, in humble, strong and respectful terms. They urged the colonies "to be prepared for every contingency." They invited the co-operation of the British colonies not represented in that congress, in their resistance to oppression; and adjourned on the 26th of October, after a session of fifty-two days, to meet again on the tenth of the following May. Says "Mr. Allen, author of the American Revolution:
"That an assembly of fifty-two men, born and educated in the wilds of a new world, unpracticed in the arts of polity, most of them unexperienced in the arduous duties of Legislation, coming from distant colonies and distant governments, differing in religion, manners, customs and habits-as they did in their views with regard to the nature of their connection with Great Britain; that such an assembly, so constituted, should display so much wisdom, sagacity, foresight and knowledge of the world, such skill in argument, such force of reasoning, such firmness and soundness of judgment, so profound an acquaintance with the rights of man, such elevation of sentiment, such genuine patriotism, and, above all, such unexampled union of opinion, was, indeed, a political phenomenon, to which history has as yet furnished no parallel."
January 3, 1774, Gov. Tryon wrote to the Earl of Dartmouth, and after speaking of the destruction of tea at Boston, he said: From the general appearance of the united opposition to the principle of the monopoly, and the importation duty in America, I can form no other opinion than that the landing, storing and safe keeping of the tea, when stored, could be accomplished, but only under the protection of the point of the bayonet and muzzle of the cannon; and even then I do not see how the consumption could be effected. *
Noting the effect of the non-importation resolutions of the colonies, the Earl of Dartmouth, February 5, 1774-, closed a letter to Gov. Tryon with this emphatic sentence, showing the design of the mother country to make her colonies entirely dependent upon her will: "What has already happened-on occasion of the importation of teas by the East India Company into some of the colonies-is of the most alarming nature, and I have it in command, from the King, to acquaint you, that it is his +Majesty's firm resolution, upon the unanimous advice of his confidential servants, to pursue such measures as shall be effectual for securing the dependence of the colonies upon this kingdom."+ April 7, 1774, Gov. Tryon embarked for England in the packet Mercury for -the benefit of his health, leaving the State affairs with Lieut. Gov. Colden.
The resolves of Congress were strictly observed by all the thirteen colonies, a system of commercial non-intercourse with the mother country was maintained, and the militia were drilled and preparations made for any emergency. In December
* Brad. Papers, vol. 8, 408.
+ Brod. Papers, vol. 8, p. 409.
following. Maryland alone resolved to raise £10,000, for the purchase of arms and ammunition for her defense. In January, 1775, colonial difficulties were the cause of warm discussions, in both Houses of the mother government. On a motion for an address to his Majesty, to give immediate orders for removing his troops from Boston, Lord Chatham delivered a powerful speech. He asserted that the measures of the preceding year, which had placed their American affairs in so alarming a state, were founded upon misrepresentation; that instead of its being only a faction in Boston, as they had been told, who were opposed to their unlawful government, it was, in truth, the whole continent. Said he--
"When I urge this measure for recalling the troops from Boston, I urge it on this pressing principle-that it is necessarily preparatory to the restoration of your prosperity." [He termed the troops under General Gage,] "an army of impotence-and irritation-I do not mean to censure the inactivity of the troops. It is a prudent and necessary inaction. But it is a miserable condition, where disgrace is prudence; and where it is necessary to be contemptible. Woe be to him who sheds the first, the unexpiable drop of blood in an impious war, with a people contending in the great cause of public liberty. I will tell you plainly, my lords, no son of mine, nor anyone over whom I have influence, shall ever draw his sword upon his fellow subjects." [He stated, that from authentic information he knew that the whole continent was uniting, and not commercial factions, as had been asserted. Speaking of the principles which united the Americans, he said,]-" 'Tis liberty to liberty engaged, that they will defend themselves, their families and their country. In this great cause they are immovably allied. It is the alliance of God and nature--immutable, eternal, fixed as the firmament of Heaven. When your lordships look at the papers transmitted us from America, when you consider their decency, firmness and wisdom, you can not but respect their cause and wish to make it your own -for myself I must declare and avow that, in all my reading and observation, and it has been my favorite study-I have read Thucidydes, and have studied and admired the master states of the world-that for solidity and reasoning, force of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion, under such a complication of different circumstances, no nation or body of men can stand in preference to the General Congress at Philadelphia. I trust it is obvious to your lordships, that all attempts to impose servitude on such men, to establish despotism over such a mighty continental nation-must be vain-must be futile. To conclude, my lords, if the ministers thus persevere in misadvising and misleading the King, I will not say that they can alienate his subjects from his crown, but I will affirm that they will make the crown not worth his wearing. I shall not say that the King is betrayed, but I will pronounce that the king. dom is undone."
Lord Chatham was nobly sustained by Lord Camden, but they were of a small minority, and their reasoning was buried in the popular will of Lord North. A favorite measure of the latter gentleman, for healing the di8sensions in the colonies was adopted, which was in substance, that if any colony would consent to tax itself for the benefit of the mother country, Parliament would forbear to tax that colony, as long as the contribution was punctually paid. One would suppose that head brainless that looked for a beneficial result from the passage of such a law. In March of this year, the celebrated Edmund Burke delivered a long and able speech in Parliament in favor of conciliating colonial difficulties-but to no purpose. An effort was made by the British ministry, when they found the Americans uniting, to create a separation of interest, and prevent a union of the northern and southern, by conciliating the middle colonies, but without effect: thc motto, United we stand, had gone forth, and no political manoeuvering could aunual it. At this period there were not a few in the colonies, who, from reverence, timidity or sinister motives, clung to the authority of the mother country. The most of those, however, were recent immigrants from England and Scotland, and a multitude of officers dependent on the Crown and its authority, for a continuance of kingly honors. These adherents to British authority were called Tories, and the friends of liberty and equal rights were called Whigs, names originated many years before in England. To compel New England to submit to the acts of Parliament, they were prohibited, in the course of this year, from fishing on the banks of Newfoundland; and armed vessels were sent to enforce the law. This prohibition was severely felt, as several colonies were extensively engaged in that business.
Population of the Colony.-Agreeable to an estimate made by Gov. Tryon to His Majesty June 11, 1774, the population of the colony of New York was then 182,257.
October 19, 1774, the British Crown prohibited the exportation of gun-powder or any kind of arms to any of the Provinces; from any parts of the British Kingdom.
December 10, 1776, Great Britain reiterated its determination to maintain" its steadfast Resolution," with regard to its illiberal position toward the colonies.
It was believed in England and America by the friends of royalty, that the Americans would not dare to encounter British troops in the battle field; and Lieu. Gov. Colden wrote the Earl of Dartmouth, :March 1, 1775-after stating the fate of some of the ships laden with tabooed freight in New York harbor, and expressing an opinion that one of the large war ships should be sent from Boston to the waters of New York to. overawe the people-observes: "The idea of their really fighting the King's troops, is so full of madness and folly, that one can hardly think seriously of it."-Brod. Papers, 8. 544.
Revolutionary Calendar-The following tables are prepared, to show the reader what day in the week any event transpired in the Revolution, of which the true date is given. Had such a register been presented by earlier writers, and the day of the week given, when known, it is believed that many of the discrepancies found in books in dating important events, would have been avoided. The day of the week on which some transactions of the war transpired, was often better remembered than the day of the month: (this will be put on the next web page.)