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Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 4


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General Gage, seeing the lowering aspect of affairs, took the precaution to throw more troops into the neighbourhood, so that he had some six regiments, with a train of artillery, when he encamped on the common near Boston. Active emissaries were immediately sent amongst these troops, who, by presents of ardent spirits and fine promises, seduced a considerable number from their duty. To prevent this, he stationed a strong guard at Boston Neck, a narrow isthmus connecting the town with the common and open country. On this a vehement cry was raised, that he was going to cut off all communication with the country, blockade the town, and reduce it to submission by famine. The inhabitants of the county of Worcester sent a deputation to inquire Gage's intentions, and they did not omit to hint that, if necessary, they would drive in the guard with arms; and, in fact, besides the arms which most Americans then had, others had been supplied to such as were too poor to purchase them. Gordon, their historian, tells us that the people were preparing to defend their rights by the sword; that they were supplying themselves from Boston with guns, knapsacks, &c. According to the militia law, most men were well furnished with muskets and powder, and were now busily employed in exercising themselves; that all was bustle, casting balls, and making ready for a struggle.

Gage, seeing all this, removed the gunpowder and the military stores from Charleston, Cambridge, and other localities, to his own quarters. This, again, excited a deep rage in the people, who threatened to attack his troops. To prevent this, he went on briskly with his defences on the Neck; but what he did by day the mob endeavoured to undo by night. They set fire to his supplies of straw; they sunk the boats that were bringing bricks, and overturned his wagons conveying timber. Nothing but the greatest patience and forebearance prevented an instant collision.

A meeting of delegates from the towns of the county of Suffolk - of which Boston was the chief - was held in September, which, in spite of the governor's proclamation of its illegality, went on to declare that the acts of the late parliament were not to be obeyed - they were the proceedings of a wicked administration; that no taxes should be paid to government; that all public monies should be retained in the hands of the collectors till congress should direct their appropriation; that the persons who had accepted seats in the assembly by a mandamus from the king had acted in direct violation of the duty they owed to their country, and that all who did not resign before the 20th of that month should be pronounced incorrigible enemies of their country; that the late act, establishing the Roman catholic religion in Canada, was highly dangerous to the protestant religion, and to the rights and liberties of all America; that all persons were to perfect themselves in the use of arms, to elect only such militia officers as were stanch friends to the rights of the people, and whenever it was rumoured that the governor intended to apprehend sundry persons, it was required that, on such arrests, the people should seize every servant of the government, and only release them on the release of their friends uninjured. They also sent an address to general Gage, protesting against his fortifications, as evidently meant to be employed to the injury of the public; to which the governor replied, that, on the contrary, they were meant for the simple defence of his troops and the preservation of peace, and would not be used at all, except to repel any hostile attempt on their part.

Meantime, the members of the council of Massachusetts had been named, according to the late act of parliament, to the number of thirty-six; but of these only twenty-four would take the oaths, and even half of these, terrified by the most deadly menaces, soon resigned. It was the same with the courts of justice; the juries summoned, to a man, refused to serve. Sheriffs, magistrates, clerks, and other officers, were equally deterred from acting; and those who did not coalesce with the people fled into Boston. Such was the state of things in this province; the soldiers were entrenched in their camp; the whole of the judicial and executive life of the colony was suspended, and only a single spark of popular offence needed at any hour to burst into the explosion of civil war.

But the commotion was by no means local. The Virginians, with Jefferson, and Henry, and Randolph at their head, were as busy brewing the tempest. On the 1st of August they held their convention to prepare the instructions for their delegates to the congress. Jefferson drew up a fiery article, denying the right of a hundred and sixty thousand electors in England to make laws for four millions of people in America. The number of Americans was grossly exaggerated by this statement; but the document went on to deny that the king had any right to a yard of land within the province, or to send a single armed man to those shores; that he had no right to lay any tax, or interfere in any manner with their trade. This was, in fact, a full declaration of independence. But Jefferson, in his zeal, was without the prudence of his more politic contemporaries. Though they thought much as he did, they did not yet want to alienate the opposition in England by avowing their real sentiments. A new set of instructions was therefore drawn up, professing their undiminished loyalty to the crown of England, and their determination to support the king in all his just rights with their lives and fortunes; admitting how deeply indebted the planters were to the merchants of Great Britain, and their desire to maintain the old connection; at the same time, declaring that they were bound to sympathise with and support the people of Massachusetts; and protesting that, if general Gage's proclamation against the Solemn League and Covenant was attempted to be carried out, it would justify resistance and reprisals. They instructed their delegates to subscribe for the sufferers in Boston as the congress should see fit, and to declare their determination to export no tobacco after the 10th of August till they obtained redress. The delegates elected were, Peyton Randolph, George Washington, Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Richard Bland, Edmund Pendleton, and Benjamin Harrison.

This important congress met at Philadelphia on the 4th of September, when all the delegates, except those of North Carolina, who did not arrive till the 14th, were found to represent twelve states, namely: the four New England States, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and the two Carolinas. The number of delegates was fifty-five, including nearly all those afterwards honoured with the title of patres patriae, except Franklin, who was yet in England. These delegates had been elected in various modes, and the numbers from different states were very various, some sending eight, some only two. It was settled, however, that, whatever the number of delegates, each colony should have one vote. The instructions from different colonies were also found to be as various, some being extremely violent, some moderate, and others verging on vagueness and indifference.

The next day they assembled in Carpenters' Hall for business, and elected Peyton Randolph, late speaker of the Virginian house of burgesses, president. The debates were opened by Patrick Henry, the popular and democratic orator of Virginia. It was soon found that so much diversity of opinion prevailed, that it was deemed prudent, in order to preserve the air of unanimity, to deliberate with closed doors. It was clear that Massachusetts and Virginia were ready for war; but it became equally clear that other states yet clung with all the attachment of blood and old connection to the fatherland. Nothing can express this more strongly than the extract of a letter from Mr. Reed, afterwards adjutant-general to Washington, addressed at this moment from the seat of congress to lord Dartmouth: - "Believe me, my lord, no king ever had more loyal subjects, or any country more affectionate colonists, than the Americans were. I, who am but a young man, well member when the king was always mentioned with respect approaching to adoration; and to be an Englishman was alone a sufficient recommendation for an office of friendship or civility. But I confess, with the greatest concern, that the happy days seem passing swiftly away, and, unless some scheme of accommodation can be speedily formed, the affections of the colonists will be irrevocably lost."

Even at this late period, it would appear that if we had had a king, or a great minister, capable of discovering the, to us, palpable fact, that there ought to be no taxation without representation, the storm might have blown over. Strong and long-continued, according to Mr. Joseph Galloway, one of their own members, were the debates; and though they finally, and, from their system of secrecy, with an air of unanimity, drew up strong resolutions, they were more moderately expressed than the instructions of many of the delegates. They concluded on a Declaration of Rights, in which they asserted that they had neither lost the rights of nature, nor the privileges of Englishmen, by emigration; consequently, that the late acts of parliament had been gross violations of those rights, especially as affecting Massachusetts. They therefore passed resolutions to suspend all imports, or use of imported goods, until harmony was restored betwixt Great Britain and her colonies. An association was formed to carry these resolutions out, to which every member subscribed.

They then composed addresses to the king of England, expressing their loyal affection; and one much more significant to the people of England, telling how tyrannically these loyal colonies had been treated, and that this policy was but the prelude to the same despotism at home. Another was to the French of Canada, calling on them to make common cause with the other American colonies. They assured them that all the American colonies must stand or fall together; part oppressed, all must be oppressed; part successful in maintaining their rights, all must be so. That they were all bound in one bright and strong chain of interest; that Nature had joined their country to the other colonies. They appealed to them by their eloquent writer, Montesquieu, and his " Esprit du Lois."

But, as regarded the Canadians, they had already fatally committed themselves. They had lately denounced the act of Great Britain, which gave to the Canadians the full exercise of their religion, and pronounced that act disastrous to the protestantism of the American colonies. England had given Canada all that it asked - the retention of the French laws and of the catholic religion. This was more than the fierce puritans of New England were likely to do; and their address to the Canadians fell flat, as their invasion of the country afterwards did. Had the English government been as conceding to the other American colonies as to Canada, the trouble had soon been over. Similar letters were addressed to the inhabitants of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and to those of Georgia and East and West Florida, with very similar want of response.

Having adjourned till the 10th of May of the next years the congress dissolved itself on the 26th of October, and the delegates then hastened home to keep alive the flame of their revived zeal in every quarter of the continent. Though the more violent paper of instructions for the delegates, drawn up by Jefferson, had been superseded by a milder one, this paper was made to do duty in the form of a pamphlet entitled, "A Summary View of the Rights of British America," and zealously circulated. Within the doors of the congress, too, there had been heard far more fiery harangues than they had allowed to issue out of doors. Amongst the most-determined incendiaries was the Bostonian defaulter, Samuel Adams, who seemed to have adopted the task of blowing the fire of hatred to England with greatest unction. He exclaimed, " I would advise persisting in our struggle for liberty, though it was revealed from Heaven that nine hundred and ninety-nine were to perish, and only one of a thousand to survive and retain his liberty! " But the bulk of the colonists were far from this self-immolating pitch of virtue. They were ready to concede a great deal to sec tire partisans, and to retain the adhesion of South Carolina, which threatened to secede if they were not allowed to export rice to Europe. They permitted that exception, as they afterwards made a more fatal concession to the slave states - that of retaining slavery - an abandonment of principle which is now menacing them with a frightful Nemesis.

But, whilst congress was sitting, the spirit of revolution was every day growing more rife in Massachusetts. Governor Gage had issued writs for a new assembly, which was to meet at Salem on the 5th of October; but so many of the newly-appointed members refused to act, that he issued a proclamation to countermand the writs. The patriots, however, set the proclamation at defiance; and confident, from the resignation of the timid loyalists, that they were in a majority, met at Salem, and formed themselves into a provincial congress, to be joined by such other persons as should be chosen for the consideration of public affairs. They then adjourned to Concord, a town about twenty-five miles from Boston, and elected John Hancock, the owner of the Liberty sloop, as president. They appointed a standing committee, to be called the " Committee of Safety," a precedent adopted not only by the other colonies, but afterwards by the French in their revolution, " Comite du Salut Public."

They then sent a deputation to governor Gage, to remonstrate on the maintenance of his camp so near Boston, as menacing to the liberties and lives of the colonists. Gage, who might very properly have refused to receive a deputation from an unconstitutional body, prudently waived that consideration, received them, and told them that their pretence of fear from the troops was simply absurd; that they had seen that, notwithstanding the constant provocations of the people, the troops had calmly refrained from every attempt at injury or retaliation; that, so far from his violating the constitution, it was they who at this moment were there in open violation of it.

Returning from this interview, where they certainly had the worst of the argument, they proceeded to still more warlike measures. They adjourned to Cambridge, and constituted Concord the depot of arms and ammunition for twelve thousand militia. They appointed as generals, Jeremiah Pribble and Artenias Ward, who had seen some service in the Canadian war, and enrolled the militia under the name of Minute Men, or men who were to turn out, at a minute's notice, with musket or rifle. They appointed committees and sub-committes for different purposes, and, in fact, put the province into a perfect attitude of war.

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Pictures for Reign of George III. (Continued.) page 4

Boston Boys
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John Adams
John Adams >>>>
North American forest scene
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The colonists under Liberty Tree
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The residence of George Washington
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The skirmish at Lexington
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View of Charlestown
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George Washington and his mother
George Washington and his mother >>>>
Flag of the Colonists
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Plan of the battle of Bunkers Hill
Plan of the battle of Bunkers Hill >>>>
A Canadian Indian
A Canadian Indian >>>>
View on the river St. Lawrence
View on the river St. Lawrence >>>>
Near Quebec
Near Quebec >>>>
A Canadian forest scene
A Canadian forest scene >>>>
The cauldron rapids, near Ottawa
The cauldron rapids, near Ottawa >>>>
Waterfall of Montmorency
Waterfall of Montmorency >>>>
First house erected at Quebec
First house erected at Quebec >>>>

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