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This important paper commences with sta- Chap.vi. ting that, "when in the course of human events 1776. it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal stations to which the laws of Nature, and of Nature's God, entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires, that they* should declare the causes which impel them to the separation."
The causes are then stated, and a long enumeration of the oppressions complained of by America is closed with saying, "a prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people."
The fruitless appeals which had been made to the people of Great Britain are also recounted, but, "they too," concludes this declaration, "have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends.
"We therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in general congress
* Mr. Jefferson, Mr. John Adams, Mr. Franklin, Mr.
Sherman, and Mr. R. R. Livingston, were appointed to
prepare this declaration; and the draft reported by the
committee has been generally attributed to Mr. Jefferson.
Chap.vi. assembled, appealing to the supreme judge of 1776. the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connexion between them and the state of Great Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as free and independent states, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things, which independent states may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other, our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour."*
This declaration was immediately communicated to the armies, where it was received with enthusiasm. It was also proclaimed throughout the United States, and gave to the people very general joy. Some individuals, however, who had been very zealous supporters of all measures, which had for their object only a redress of grievances; and in whose bosoms the hope of accommodation still lingered; either too timid to meet the arduous conflict which this
• See JVote, JVb. XVIII. at the end of the volume.
measure rendered, in their estimation, certain Chap.vl and inevitable, or sincerely believing that the 1776. happiness of America would be best consulted by preserving their political connexion with Great Britain, viewed the dissolution of that connexion with anxious regret; and others, who afterwards deserted the American cause, which they had at first embraced, attributed their defection to this measure. It was also an unfortunate truth that, in the whole country between New England and the Potowmac, which was now to become the great theatre of action, although the majority was in favour of independence, yet there existed a formidable minority, who not only refused to act with their countrymen, but were ready to give to the enemy every aid in their power.
It cannot, however, be questioned, that the declaration of independence was wise and well timed; and that since the continuance of the war was inevitable, every principle of sound policy required, that the avowed characters of the parties should be changed; and that it should no longer be denominated, or considered, a war between a sovereign and his acknowledged subjects.
Lord and sir William Howe arrive before New York....
ON evacuating Boston, general Howe had
length resolved with the forces already under
'776. his command, to sail for New York, in some
June 10. .
of the islands on the seaboard of which, it
would be in his power to take a station of perfect security, until he should be strong enough to commence the great plan of operations which was contemplated. This measure was recommended by several considerations. His troops would there receive plentiful supplies of fresh provisions; he would be enabled to ascertain with more precision the dependence to be placed on the inhabitants; and in the mean time, to make those preparations whioh would facilitate his plan for opening the campaign Chap.vil with vigour, so soon as his whole army should 1776. be collected. In the latter end of June, he arrived off Sandyhook, in the Grey-hound, and on the twenty-ninth of that month, the first division of the fleet from Halifax reached the same place. The rear division soon followed, and having passed the Narrows, landed the troops on Staten island, where general Wash- J^y3 h *, ington had placed only a small military force, for the purpose of collecting and driving off such stock, as might otherwise supply the invading army with fresh provisions. Here, they were received with great demonstrations of joy by the inhabitants, who took the oaths of allegiance to the British crown, and embodied themselves under the authority of the late governor Tryon, for the defence of the island. Strong assurances were also received from Long island, and the neighbouring parts of New Jersey, of the favourable dispositions of a great proportion of the people to the royal cause. On Staten island, general Howe resolved to wait until his army should be in full force, unless circumstances shoidd require a change of system.