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Chap. in. the governors of the several colonies in a cir1775. cular letter, from lord Dartmouth, with directions to use their utmost influence to procure its adoption. These endeavours, however, were no where successful. The colonists were universally impressed with too strong a conviction of the importance of union, and now understood too well the real principle of the contest, to permit themselves to be divided or deceived by this proposition which was conciliatory only in name. After the passage of the bill for restraining the trade of New England, information was received that the inhabitants of the middle and southern colonies were supporting their northern brethren in every measure of opposition. In consequence of this intelligence, a second bill was brought in for imposing similar restrictions on the colonies of East and West Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, South Carolina, and the counties on the Delaware, which was passed without much opposition. The favourite colonies of New York and North Carolina were thought less disaffected than the others, and were not included in this bill. Fortunately, some time afterwards, the house of commons refused to hear a petition, offered by mr. Burke, from
to disunite America, for if only one province accepts the offer, their confederacy, which alone makes them formidable, will be broken." ( Rcm„y> mL t. p. l63.
the legislature of New York, which alone had Chap.ih.
declined acceding to the resolutions of the 1775.
general congress, because, as was suggested
by the minister, it contained claims incompatible with the supremacy of parliament. This haughty rejection had some tendency to convince such of that province, as cherished the hope of producing accommodation by milder measures than had been adopted by their sister colonies, that there was no medium between resistance and absolute submission.
Notwithstanding the ill success which had heretofore attended the efforts of the minority, a series of resolutions was brought forward by mr. Burke, enforced by a most able and eloquent speech, the object of which was to restore the ancient state of things between the mother country and her colonies; but these resolutions experienced the same fate which had attended all other truly conciliatory propositions.
The king's speech and the proceedings of parliament served only to convince the leaders of the opposition in America that they must indeed prepare to meet "mournful events." They had flattered themselves that the union of the colonies, the petition of congress to the king, and the address to the people of Great Britain, would have produced some happy effects; but the measures now adopted in a great measure removed the delusion. The new provincial
Chap. in. congress of Massachussetts published a resolu* 1775. tion, informing the people, that from the disposition manifested by the British parliament and ministry, there was real cause to fear that the reasonable and just applications of that continent to Great Britain for peace, liberty and safety, would not meet with a favourable reception; that on the contrary, from the large reenforcements of troops expected in that colony, the tenor of intelligence from Great Britain, and general appearances, they had reason to apprehend that the sudden destruction of that colony in particular was intended.
They therefore urged, in the strongest terms, • the militia in general, and the minute men in particular, to spare neither time, pains, nor expense, at so critical a juncture, to perfect themselves in military discipline. They also passed resolutions for procuring and making fire arms and bayonets.
In the mean time, delegates for the ensuing congress were every where chosen. Even in New York, where the influence of the administration in the legislature, had been sufficient to prevent an adoption of the recommendations of the former congress, and where the people were much divided, a convention was chosen for the sole purpose of electing members, who should represent that province in the grand council of the colonies.
In New England, although a determination Chap.ih. not to commence hostility appears to have been 1775. maintained, an expectation of it, and a settled purpose to repel it, universally prevailed.
It was not long before the firmness of this resolution was put to the test.
A considerable quantity of military stores had been collected at the town of Concord, about eighteen miles from Boston, which general Gage proposed to destroy. On the night pre- April is. ceding the 19th of April, lieutenant colonel Smith and major Pitcairn, with the grenadiers and light infantry of the army, amounting to eight or nine hundred men, were detached on this service. Notwithstanding the secrecy and dispatch which were used, and although some officers on horseback had before the marchine: of the detachment, scoured the roads, and secured such people as they fell in with, the country was alarmed by messengers sent out by doctor Warren, some of whom eluded the vigilance of the patrols; and, on the arrival of the British troops at Lexington, about five in the morning, part of the company of militia ■ belonging to that town, amounting to about seventy men, were found on the parade under arms.
Major Pitcairn, who led the van, ealloped Ba«ie of
". i Lexington.
up, calling out, "disperse rebels; throw down your arms, and disperse." The soldiers at the same time ran up huzzaing; some scattering Chap. m. guns were fired first, which were immediately 1775. followed by a general discharge, and the firing was continued as long as any of the militia appeared. Eight men were killed, and several wounded.
The detachment then proceeded to Concord, the commanding officer having previously dispatched six companies of light infantry to possess two bridges which lay at some distance beyond the town. While the main body of the detachment was employed in destroying the stores in Concord, some minute men and militia, who were collected from that place and its neighbourhood, having orders not to give the first fire, approached one of the bridges as if to pass it in the character of common travellers. They were fired on, and two men killed. The fire was immediately returned, and a skirmish ensued, in which the regulars were worsted, and compelled to retreat, with some loss. The country was now generally alarmed, and the people rushed from evenquarter to the scene of action. The king's troops were attacked on all sides. Skirmish after skirmish ensued, and they were driven from post to post into Lexington. Fortunately for the British, general Gage did not entertain precisely the same opinion of the military character of the Americans, which had been expressed by general Grant and other officers in the house of commons. Apprehending the