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tion) to measures of self-defence. Only a few days after Congress had assembled, their temper on this subject had been tried. Of the expected reinforcements from England, some it was thought were destined for New York; and the delegates of that Colony by order of their constituents had applied for advice how to conduct themselves on this occasion. The Congress agreed to recommend that if the troops arrived they should be permitted to remain in the barracks so long as they behaved peaceably and quietly, but that they should not be suffered to erect fortifications or to cut off the town from the country, and that if they should commit hostilities or invade private property, the inhabitants should defend themselves and their property and repel force by force; that meanwhile the warlike stores should be removed by the Colonists; that places of retreat in case of necessity should be provided for the women and children of New York; and that a sufficient number of men should be embodied and kept in constant readiness for protecting the inhabitants against insult or injury.
Still more marked was the feeling of the Congress when there came the news how without their sanction or knowledge the volunteers from New England had seized the forts on Lake Champlain. Unwilling to censure what was now irrevocable, the Congress agreed to accept the inadequate excuses offered on the part of these volunteers, and voted, not perhaps in perfect good faith — "Whereas there is "indubitable evidence that a design is formed by the British "Ministry of making a cruel invasion from the province of "Quebec upon these Colonies for the purpose of destroying "our lives and liberties —". They also gave orders for removing to a place of security the cannon and the military stores which had been captured in Ticonderoga. But at the same time they resolved: "That an exact inventory be taken "of all such cannon and stores, in order that they may be "safely returned, when the restoration of the former harmony "between Great Britain and herColonies,«o ardently wished "for by the latter, shall render it prudent and consistent
"with the overruling law of self-preservation." And on the 1st of June they passed this further Resolution: "That as "this Congress has nothing more in view than the defence "of these Colonies, no expedition or incursion ought to be "undertaken or made by any Colony or body of Colonists, "against or into Canada."
At that period then the Members of Congress continued to profess, and many of them no doubt continued to feel, a sense of loyal duty to the Crown. For several months ensuing they avoided (and none more carefully than Washington) to mention the troops from England as the Royal, and called them only the Ministerial, army. On the 8th of July they signed a Petition "to the King's Most Excellent Majesty," declaring themselves his dutiful subjects, and praying that His Royal magnanimity and benevolence might be interposed to direct some mode by which the united applications of his faithful Colonists might be improved into a happy and permanent reconciliation. "Notwithstanding our sufferings," they added, "our breasts retain too tender, a regard for the "kingdom from which we derive our origin, to request such "a reconciliation as might in any manner be inconsistent "with her dignity or her welfare." — This appeal, which if unsuccessful they resolved should be their last, they determined to lay before their Sovereign by the most solemn means in their power, by the hands of Mr. Richard Penn, one of the Proprietaries of the province in which they were assembled, in conjunction with the agents for the Colonies in England. Mr. Penn accordingly sailed homewards on this important mission; a mission which then and afterwards was commemorated in Araerica by an expressive phrase — "the Olive-branch."
From the kindly and respectful but vague and general words of this Petition it is not easy to discover what terms at that juncture the Congress might wish to propose or to accept There is no doubt that they considered as indispensable the total repeal of the late obnoxious Statutes. There is no doubt also that they desired a solemn and final
ifafton, History. VI. 5
compact in recognition of their rights, — a compact which might be to America whatMagna Charta had been to England. As to the conditions of such a compact there is reason to believe that they intended to offer an alternative. Either they would submit as heretofore to an absolute restriction of their trade for the benefit of the mother country, but in that case they would stipulate that no further aid or contribution of any kind should ever be required from them. Or else they would agree to raise through their own Assemblies their share of revenue for the support of the whole empire, but according to a certain rate, so that the Colonies should not be taxed one farthing without a security that Great Britain must at the same time tax herself in a still heavier proportion. In that case, however, the Americans would expect to be relieved of all restraints on their trade and navigation, and be empowered to regulate such matters without regard to any interests besides their own. * On these terms, or on terms resembling these, there is reason to believe that even then — even after Lexington and Bunker's Hill, — the progress of civil war might have been arrested, and the integrity of the empire might have been maintained.
The Petition to the King of July 1775 was drawn up by John Dickinson and adopted mainly through his influence. I do not call in question the perfect sincerity and honour of the great majority of those who signed it. But as to one at least, Dr. Franklin, whose name appears beneath it, I may observe that its expressions of "tender regard" towards the mother country stand forth in striking contrast with some other expressions in his private correspondence. Almost on the very day that Franklin subscribed this Petition to the King he wrote as follows to a former friend in London. "Mr. Strahan: You are a Member of Parliament and one of "that majority which has doomed my country to destruc"tion. You have begun to burn our towns and murder our
* See the American Archives, especially two letters dated June SO. 1775 (vol. 11. p. 1033.).
"people. Look upon your hands, they are stained with the "blood of your relations! You and I were long friends; you "are now my enemy, and 1 am Yours, Benjamin Franklin." *
The Petition to the King was by no means the only document which the Congress at this period prepared. There was an Address to the people of Great Britain. There was another Address to the People of Ireland. There was a Declaration ordered to be read aloud to their assembled troops and public bodies, and setting forth in uncompromising language the causes of their taking up arms. At this very time their spirits were sustained by the accession of Georgia; an accession which had been much desired and long delayed, and which enabled them to speak henceforward in the name of the Thirteen United Colonies. The same shrewd observer whose diatribe to Mr. Strahan I have so lately cited bears in another letter a striking testimony to the earnestness and determination which he beheld around him. "Great frugality and great industry are now "become fashionable here. Gentlemen who used to enter"tain with two or three courses pride themselves now in "treating with simple beef and pudding. Thus we shall be "better able to pay our voluntary taxes for the support of "our troops."**
The troops to which Franklin here refers were indeed in such a state as to require all the aid that zeal could prompt or that money could supply. On reaching the head quarters at Cambridge, Washington had expected to find an army of twenty thousand men; he found no more than sixteen thousand on the rolls; and of them only fourteen thousand fit for duty. Even these he was obliged to describe as "a mixed multitude of people under very little order or "government." The men had no uniforms, but continued to wear the common working dresses in which they had come; a deficiency which was afterwards in some degree
* July 5. 1775; Franklin'a Works, vol viii. p. 155. I can by no meana concur with his last American editor in thinking of this production that " in "truth it was meant to be nothing more than a pleasantry I"
Dr. Franklin to Dr. Priestley, Philadelphia, July 7. 1775.
remedied by a supply from Congress of ten thousand hunting shirts, at the General's suggestion. "I know nothing," says he, "in a speculative view more trivial, yet nothing "which, if put in practice, would have a happier tendency "to unite the menand abolish their provincial distinctions."* The want of money was most severely felt. On the 21st of September Washington reports the military chest totally exhausted and the Paymaster without one single dollar in hand. For lack of commissaries the supplies of provisions were both insufficient and ill-distributed. Entrenching tools were wanted and likewise engineers. It was also found by Washington that the late action at Bunker's Hill inspired with much higher spirits those who declaimed upon it at a distance, and who by unanswerable arguments proved it an undoubted victory, than those who had closely viewed or themselves partaken in it. With a heavy heart, though with a resolute courage, Washington while making known his wants to Congress could not conceal from them that there was a total laxity of discipline among his troops, and that the greater part of them were not to be relied on in the event of another action.
It is highly to the honour of Washington, labouring under so many disadvantages, to have yet achieved so much. The active scenes which followed his arrival are well described in a private letter from one of the Chaplains in his army.— "There is great over-turning in the camp "as to order and regularity. New Lords, new laws. The "Generals Washington and Lee are upon the lines every "day. New orders from His Excellency are read to the "respective regiments every morning after prayers. The "strictest government is taking place, and great distinction "is made between officers and soldiers. Every one is made "to know his place and keep in it, or be tied up and receive "thirty or forty lashes according to his crime. Thousands "are at work every day from four till eleven o'clock in the
* Letters to his brother, July 27. and to the President of Congress, July 10. 1775.