« PreviousContinue »
your priests are exposed to expulsion, banishment, and ruin, whenever their wealth and possessions furnish sufficient temptation. They cannot be sure that a virtuous prince will always fill the throne, and should a wicked or a careless king concur with a wicked ministry in extract. ing the treasure and strength of your country, it is impossible to conceive, to what variety, and to what extremes of wretchedness, you may, under the present establishment, be reduced.
« We are informed you have already been called upon to waste your lives in a contest with us. Should you, by complying in this instance, assent to your new establishment, and a war break out with France, your wealth and your sons may be sent to perish in expeditions against their islands in the West Indies.
“ It cannot be presumed that these considerations will have no weight with you, or that you are so lost to all sense of honour. We can never believe that the present race of Canadians are so degenerated as to possess neither the spirit, the gallantry, nor the courage of their ancestors, You certainly will not permit the infamy and disgrace of such pusillanimity to rest on your own heads, and the consequences of it on your children forever.
• We for our parts are determined to live free or not at all, and are resolved that posterity shall never reproach us with having brought siaves into the world.
“ Permit us again to repeat that we are your friends, not your enemies; and be not imposed upon by those who may endeavour to create animosities. The taking of the fort and military stores at Ticonderoga and Crown Point, and the armed vessels on the lake, was dictated by the great law of self preservation. They were intended to annoy us, and to cut off that friendly intercourse and communication, which have hitherto subsisted between you and us. We hope it has given you no uneasiness, and you may rely on our assurances, that these colonies will pursue no measures whatever, but such as friendship and a regard for our mutual safety and interest may sug. gest.
“ As our concern for your welfare entitles us to your friendship, we presume you will not, by doing us injury, reduce us to the disagreeable necessity of treating you as encmies.
“We yet entertain hopes of your uniting with us in the desence of our common liberty, and there is yet reason to believe, that should we join in imploring the attention of our sovereign, to the unmerited and unparalleled oppressions of his American subjects, he will at length be undeceived, and forbid a licentious ministry any longer to riot in the ruins of the rights of mankind.”
The committee appointed to draw this letter consisted of mr. Jay, mr. Samuel Adams, and mr. Deane.
The delegates of the United Colonies of New Hampshire, Massachussetts Bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the counties of Newcastle, Kent and Sussex on Delaware, Maryland, Vir. ginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina:
To George Washington, esquire. We, reposing special trust and confidence in your patriotism, valour, conduct, and fidelity, do, by these presents constitute and appoint you to be general and com- , mander in chief of the army of the United Colonies, and of all the forces now raised, or to be raised by them, and of all others who shall voluntarily offer their service, and join the said army for the defence of American liberty, and for repelling every hostile invasion thereof: and you are hereby invested with full power and authority to act as you shall think for the good and welfare of the service. · And we do hereby strictly charge and require all officers and soldiers under your command, to be obedient to your orders, and diligent in the exercise of their several duties. . And we also enjoin and require you to be careful in executing the great trust reposed'in you, by causing strict discipline and order to be observed in the army, and that the soldiers be duly exercised and provided with all con. venient necessaries.
And you are to regulate your conduct in every respect by the rules and discipline of war, (as herewith given you) and punctually to observe and follow such orders and directions from time to time as you shall receive from this or a future congress of these United Colonies, or committee of congress.
This commission to continue in force, until revoked by this, or a future congress.
Whereas it has been represented to this congress, that divers well meaning and honest, but uninformed people in these colonies have, by the art and address of ministerial agents, been deceived and drawn into erroneous opinions respecting the American cause, and the probable issue of the present contest;
Resolved, that it be recommended to the different committees, and other friends to American liberty, in the said colonies, to treat all such persons with kindness and attention; to consider them as the inhabitants of a country determined to be free, and to view their errors as proceeding rather from want of information, than want of virtue or public spirit; to explain to them the origin, nature and extent of the present controversy; to acquaint them with the fate of the numerous petitions presented to his majesty as well by assemblies as by congresses, for reconciliation and redress of grievances, and that the last from this congress, humbly requesting the single favour of being heard, like all others, has proved unsuccessful; to unfold to them the various arts of administration to
insnare and enslave us, and the manner in which we have been cruelly driven to defend, by arms, those very rights, liberties, and estates, which we and our forefathers had so long enjoyed unmolested in the reigns of his present majesty's predecessors. And it is hereby recommended to all conventions and assemblies, in these colonies, liberally to distribute among the people the proceedings of this and the former congress, the late speeches of the great patriots in both houses of parliament relative to American grievances, and such other pamphlets and papers as tend to elucidate the merits of the American cause, the congress being fully persuaded that the more our right to the enjoyment of our ancient liberties and privileges is examined, the more just and necessary our present opposition to ministerial tyranny will appear.
And, with respect to all such unworthy Americans as, regardless of their duty to their creator, their country, and their posterity, have taken part with our oppressors, and, influenced by the hope of possessing ignominious rewards, strive to recommend themselves to the bounty of administration, by misrepresenting and traducing the conduct and principles of the friends of American liberty, and opposing every measure formed for its preservation and security.
Resolved, that it be recommended to the different assemblies, conventions and committees, or councils of safety of the United Colonies, by the most speedy and effectual measures, to frustrate the mischievous machinations, and restrain the wicked practices of these men: and it is the opinion of this congress, that they ought to be disarmed, and the more dangerous among them either kept in safe custody, or bound with sufficient sureties to their good behaviour.
And, in order that the said assemblies, conventions, committees, or councils of safety may be enabled with greater ease and facility to carry this resolution into ex. ecution,
Resolved, that they be authorized to call to their aid whatever continental troops, stationed in or near their respective colonies, may be conveniently spared from their more immediate duty; and the commanding officers of such troops are hereby directed to afford the said assemblies, conventions, committees, or councils of safety, all such, assistance in executing this resolution, as they may require, and which consistent with the good of the service may be supplied.
Resolved, that all detachments of continental troops, which may be ordered on the business in the foregoing resolution mentioned, be, while so employed, under the direction and control of the assemblies, conventions, committees, or councils of safety aforesaid.
This letter is so truly characteristic of the writer, and treats
in a manner 80 peculiar to himself, the measures of congress on this subject that, although it may not be immediately connected with the Life of General Washington, the reader will not be displeased with its insertion.
Stamford, January 22, 1779.
As general Washington has informed the congress of his motives for detaching me, it is needless to trouble you upon the subject. I am therefore only to inform you that I have collected a body of about twelve hundred men from the colony of Connecticut, whose zeal and ardour demonstrated on this occasion cannot be sufficiently praised. With this body I am marching directly to New York to execute the different purposes for which I am detached. I am sensible, sir, that nothing can carry the air of greater presuniption than a servant intruding his opinion unasked upon his master, but at the same time