Page images
PDF
EPUB

middle of the field, and without changing his clothes, repaired to Cambridge, riding in a single day one hundred miles. He was soon appointed a najor-general in the provincial army, and relarning to Connecticut, he made no delay in bringing on a body of troops.

Among other examples of patriotism that might be related, the following is from a living witness. The day that the report of the battle of Lexington reached Barnstable, a company of militia immediately assembled and marched off to Cambridge. In the front rank there was & young man, the son of a respectable farmer, and his only child. In marching from the village, as they passed his house, he came out to meet them. There was a momentary halt. The drum and fife paused for an instant. The father, suppressing a strong and evident emotion, said, “ God be with you all, my friends! and, John, if you, my son, are called into battle, take care that you behave like a man, or else let me never see your

face again!” A tear started into every eye, and the march was resumed.

Not long after his appointment, the commander of the British army, unwilling that so valuable an officer should act in opposition, privately conveyed to him a proposal, that if he would quit the rebel party, he might rely on being made a major-general in the British establishment, and receiving a great pecuniary compensation for his services; but he spurned the offer. On the 16th of June, 1775, it was determined, in a council of war, at which general Putnam assisted, that a fortified post should be established at, or near Bunker's Hill. General Putnam marched with the first detachment, and commenced the work; he was the principal agent or engi. neer who traced the lines of the redoubt, and he continued most, if not all the night, with the workmen; at any rate, he was on the spot before sun-rise in the morning, and had taken his station on the top of Bunker's Hill, and participated in the danger, as well as the glory of that day.

When the army was organized by general Washing. ton at Cambridge, general Putnam was appointed to command the reserve. In August, 1776, he was stationed at Brooklyn, on Long Island. After the defeat of our

army, on the 27th of that month, he went to New York, and was very serviceable in the city and neighbourhood, In October or November, he was sent to Philadelphia to fortify that city. In January, 1777, he was directed to take post at Princeton, where he continued until spring. At this place, a sick prisoner, a captain, requested that a friend in the British army at Brunswick, might be sent for, to assist him in making his will. Putnam was per: plexed. He had but fifty men under his command, and did not wish to have his weakness known; but yet he was unwilling to deny the request. He, however, sent a fag of truce, and directed the officer to be brought in the night. In the evening, lights were placed in all the college windows, and in every apartment of the vacant houses throughout the town. The officer, on his return, reported, that general Putnam's army could not consist of less than four or five thousand men. In the spring, he was appointed to the command of a separate army, in the highlands of New York. One Palmer, a lieutenant iq the tory new levies, was detected in the camp: governor Tyron reclaimed him as a British officer, threatening vengeance if he was not restored. General Putnam wrote the following pithy reply:

66 SIR,

“Nathan Palmer, a lieutenant in your king's service, was taken in my camp as a spy; he was tried as a spy; he was condemned as a spy; and he shall be hanged as

a spy:

“ISRAEL PUTNAM." “ P. S. Afternoon. He is hanged. After the loss of fort Montgomery, the commander in chief determined to build another fortification, and he directed general Putnam to fix on a spot. To him be. longs the praise of having chosen West Point. The campaign of 1779, which was principally spent in strengthening the works at this place, finished the military career of Putnam. A paralytic affection impaired the activity of his body, and he passed the remainder of his days in retirement, retaining his relish for enjoy. ment, his love of pleasantry, his strength of memory, and all the faculties of his mind.

* He died at Brookline, Connecticut, May, 29; 1790, aged seventy-two years.

RAMSAY, David, was born in Lancaster county, Pennsylvania, and graduated at Princeton college, New Jersey, in the seventeenth year of his age. He studied physic under Dr. Thomas Bond, of Philadelphia, and was the fifth who obtained the degree of M. D. from the Philadelphia Medical School, the only institution of the kind then in America. He commenced the practice of inedicine in Cecil county, Maryland; but in a short time removed to Charleston, South Carolina, where he continued in practice until his death. During the revolutionary war, he espoused, with ardour and ability, the cause of his country; and when Charleston fell into the hands of the enemy, he was, with many other distinguished patriots, transported to St. Augustine, where he suffered a long and rigorous imprisonment, during which he employed himself in historical researches and writ: ings. In 1782-83-85 and '86, he represented South Carolina in the congress of the United States; and for the last six months of that period, filled the presidential chair, in the absence of John Hancock. He represented the city of Charleston in the state legislature, for twenty-one successive years, for the last seven of which he was president of the senate of that state. To good natural abilities, and a liberal education, he added close application to public business and private studies; and the opportunities which his legislative stations gave him, were diligently improved in the collection of official and authentic materials for the various historical works which he was engaged in. The principal of these were his Universal History Americanized; History of America, in three volumes; History of the Revolution, in two volumes; and History of South Carolina, in two volumes. Besides these, he published many orations and essays on medical and political subjects; and an Historic and Biographic Chart of the United States. As an historian and physician, he deservedly ranks high; and as a patriot and Christian, he was revered and esteemed. He was cut off in the midst of his honours and usefulness, by a man whose insanity he was called to bear testimony to as a physician in a court of justice; and who, in revenge, assassinated him in the street soon after. He lin gered a few days, and died on the 6th of May, 1815.

RANDOLPH, Perton, first president of congress, descended from one of the most ancient and respectable families in Virginia, of which colony he was attorney. general, as early as 1748. In 1756, he formed a company of a hundred gentlemen, who engaged as volunteers against the Indians. He commanded a company in the regiment commanded by colonel Washington. In 1764, he was elected a member of the house of burgesses. In 1766, having resigned the office of attorney-general, he was chosen speaker of the assembly, to the great satisfaction of all classes of his fellow-citizens. In 1769, a new assembly was convened by lord Botetourt, who had lately arrived as governor. This assembly proceeded to the immediate consideration of a new grievance which was about to fall on the colonies. This was the threat. ened transportation to England, for trial, of all persons who might be charged with treason in the province of Massachusetts; a measure which had passed both houses of parliament. The assembly of Virginia added a decided protest to the measure, and a copy of their resolutions was ordered to be sent to the colonial assemblies throughout the continent, with a request that they would concur therein. The assembly being suddenly dissolved by the governor, the members convened at a private house, where, having chosen Mr. Randolph as moderator, they entered into a non-importation agreement, the articles of which were signed by every one present ; among whom were Peyton Randolph, George Washing. con, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, R. C. Nicholas,

and many others, second to those only in the remem brance of their country.

Intelligence of the act of parliament, shutting up the port of Boston, reached Williamsburg on the 26th of May, The house of burgesses, then in session, instantly resolved, that the first of June, the day on which the act was to go into operation, should be set apart as a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer; that the divine interposition might then be implored, either to avert tře ihreatening evils of civil war, or to give to the people energy and union, to meet them with spirit and effect. In the midst of further animated debate, the assembly was abruptly dissolved by lord Dunmore. But the members, soon after, met as private citizens, and, their late speaker, Mr. Randolph, presiding, they unanimously signed an address to their countrymen; in which, after recommending to them to abstain from the purchase or use of East India commodities, they declare, that the late attack on the rights of a sister colony, menaced ruin to the rights of all, unless the united wisdom of the whole should be applied; and the committee of correspondence, of which Mr. Randolph was chairman, were therefore instructed to communicate with the other colo. nies on the expediency of calling a general congress of delegates, to meet annually, for the purpose of deliberating on those general measures, which the united interests of America might from time to time require. It may be necessary to remark, that the meeting of the first congress at Philadelphia, in the September following, was a consequence of this recommendation.

On the first day of August, the convention of deputies elected by the several counties of Virginia, assembled at Williamsburg, and Peyton Randolph was chosen their chairman, The first act of this body was a declaration of the necessity of a general congress, in order that redress might be procured for the much injured province of Massachusetts, and that the other provinces might be secured from the ravage and ruin of arbitrary taxes. In pursuance of this declaration, on the fifth of the same month, they chose seven of their most distinguished members to represent the colony in general congress; among these were Peyton Randolph, Cearge Washing

« PreviousContinue »