« PreviousContinue »
must be destroyed, and the security of their CHAP. III. property and persons annihilated, by submission 1774. to the pretensions of Great Britain. Their greatest object being to unite the people of America, by demonstrating to them the sincerity with which their leaders had sought for recon. ciliation, on terms compatible with liberty; the conduct of the colonists was contended to have been uniformly moderate, and entirely exempt from blame, while the system of administration was treated as equally dangerous to them all, though it insidiously professed to be particularly aimed at Massachussetts. They stated the measures which had been adopted by congress, and after having declared their confidence, that the mode of commercial resistance, which had been recommended, would prove efficacious if persisted in with fidelity and virtue, they concluded with saying, “ your own salvation, and that of your posterity, now depends upon yourselves. You have already shown that you entertain a proper sense of the blessings you are striving to retain. Against the temporary inconveniences you may suffer from a stoppage of trade, you will weigh in the opposite balance, the endless miseries you and your descendants must endure, from an established arbitrary power. You will not forget the honour of your country, that must, from your behaviour, take its title, in the estimation of the world, to glory or to shame; and you will,
CHAP. 11. with the deepest attention, reflect, that if the 1774. peaceable mode of opposition, recommended
by us, be broken and rendered ineffectual, as your cruel and haughty ministerial enemies, from a contemptuous opinion of your firmness, insolently predict will be the case, you must inevitably be reduced to choose, either a more dangerous contest, or a final, ruinous, and infamous submission.
“Motives thus cogent, arising from the emergency of your unhappy condition, must excite your utmost diligence and zeal, to give all possible strength and energy to the pacific measures calculated for your relief. But we think ourselves bound in duty to observe to you, that the schemes agitated against the colonies have been so conducted, as to render it prudent that you should extend your views to mournful events, and be in all respects prepared for every contingency. Above all things, we earnestly entreat you, with devotion of spirit,' penitence of heart, and amendment of life, to humble yourselves, and implore the favour of Almighty God; and we fervently beseech his divine goodness, to take you into his gracious protection."'*
The letter to the people of Canada required no inconsiderable degree of address. The vast
* Mr. Lee, mr. Livingston and mr. Jay were also the committee that brought in this address.
extent of that province was by no means so CHAP. III. alarming to them, as to their neighbours; and 1774, it was not easy to persuade the French inhabi. tants, who were by far the most numerous, that the establishment of their religion, and the partial restoration of their ancient jurisprudence; were acts of oppression which ought to be resisted. This delicate subject was managed with considerable dexterity, and the prejudices of the Canadians were assailed with some success.
Letters were also addressed to the colonies of St. Johns, Nova Scotia, Georgia, and the Floridas, inviting them to unite with their brethren in what was deemed the common cause of all British America.*
Having completed the business before them, October 26. and recommended that another congress should be held in Philadelphia on the 10th day of the succeeding May, the house dissolved itself.
The proceedings of congress were read throughout America, with enthusiastic admiration. Their recommendations were revered as revelations, and obeyed as laws of the highest obligation. It is true, that in some few places, dişaffection to the system of opposition prevailed. Absolute unanimity did not, and
* These letters, as well as that to the inhabitants of the province of Quebec, were prepared by mr. Cushing, mr. Lee, and mr. Dickinson.
CHAP. II. could not be expected, to exist. But seldom .1774. have a whole people been more united on any
occasion; and never did a more sincere and perfect conviction, that every principle of right was arranged with them, animate the human bosom, than was now felt by the great body of Americans. The people, generally, made great efforts to arm and discipline them. selves. Independent companies were every. where formed of the most influential characters, and the whole face of the country exhibited the aspect of an approaching war. It, however, is apparent from the measures adopted, that although resistance by force was contemplated as a possible event, yet the hope, that the 'nonimportation of British goods would so extensively interest the merchants and manufacturers of that nation in their favour, as to obtain thereby a repeal of the obnoxious acts, was fondly cherished and adhered to. It is impossible, otherwise, to account for the non-impor. tation agreement itself. Had war been .consi. dered as inevitable, every principle of sound policy would have demanded that imports should have been encouraged, and the largest possible stock of supplies for an army obtained.
Notwithstanding the liberal contributions, made through the colonies, for the people of Boston, the total stoppage of the trade of that town produced infinite distress. It was, however, borne with exemplary fortitude, a fortitude
supported by the consoling reflection that they CHAP. III. were the objects of general sympathy and admi. 1774. ration. The merchants, and other inhabitants of the neighbouring town of Marblehead, one of the places to be benefited by diverting from the capital the trade of the province, generously offered to the importers of Boston the free use of their stores and wharves, and to attend the lading and unlading their vessels without expense. They at the same time exhorted them to persevere, with that patience and resolution which had ever characterized them.
Soon after the entrance of general Gage into his government, two regiments of foot, with a small detachment of artillery and some cannon, were landed at Boston, and encamped on the common which lies within the peninsula on which the town stands. They were gradually re-enforced by several regiments from Ireland, and from different parts of the continent. The Troops dissatisfaction occasioned by the appearance of on Boston these troops, was increased by placing a guard on Boston neck, the narrow isthmus which connects the peninsula with the continent.
This circumstance suggested a report, which plainly manifested to the inhabitants of the metropolis the temper of their neighbouring brethren. It was said, that a regiment, stationed on the neck, had totally cut off the communication of the town with the country, in order to starve it into submission. On hearing