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CHAR "'• leaders of the opposition, but he was secretly 1775. exerting all the influence of his station in defeating their views, and was at length detected in carrying on some negotiations with the Indians, and with the disaffected in the back country who had refused to sign the association. These persons had been induced to believe that the inhabitants of the sea coast, in order to exempt their own tea from a trifling tax, were about to engage them in a contest, in which they would be deprived of their salt, osnaburgs, and other imported articles of absolute necessity. The detection of these intrigues excited such a ferment among the people that the governor was compelled to fly from Charleston, and take refuge on board a ship of war in the river. The government was then, as elsewhere, taken entirely into the hands of men chosen by the people; and a large body of troops was ordered into that part of the country, which adhered to the royal cause, where many of the people, contrary to the advice of governor Campbell, had risen in arms. Unable to collect a sufficient force to repel so formidable an invasion, the leaders were seized, and their followers dispersed.
In North Carolina, governor Martin was also charged with fomenting a civil war, and exciting an insurrection among the negroes. Relying on the aid he expected from some of the back settlers, and from some highland emigrants, he made preparations for the defence of Chap. Ul his palace; but the people taking the alarm 1775. before the troops he counted on were raised, he was compelled to fly for safety on board a sloop of war in cape Fear river; soon after which, the committee resolved " that no person or persons whatsoever should have any correspondence with him on pain of being deemed enemies to the liberties of America, and dealt with accordingly."
As soon as congress was in readiness to enter May 12. upon the public business, mr. Hancock laid before that body the depositions which had been taken for the purpose of showing that in the battle of Lexington, the king's troops were entirely the aggressors; together with the proceedings of the provincial assembly of Massachusetts. on that occasion.
They had now arrived at the crisis to which things had for some time been rapidly tending; and it became necessary for the delegates of the other provinces finally to determine, either to embark with New England in actual war, or, by separating themselves from those colonies, to surrender the object for which they had so long jointly contended, and submit to that unlimited supremacy which was claimed by the British parliament.
Even among the well informed of the American people, the opinion that the contest between the mother country and her colonies
Chap.ih. would ultimately be decided by the sword, had 1775. not yet become general. The hope had been hitherto indulged by a great portion of the popular leaders, that the union of the colonies, the extent and serious aspect of the opposition, and the distress which their non-importation agreements would produce among the merchants and manufacturers of the parent state, would induce the administration to recede from the high pretensions which had been insisted on, and would restore that harmony and free intercourse which had formerly subsisted between the two countries, and which they sincerely believed to be advantageous to both. This opinion had derived strength from the communications made them by many of their zealous friends in England. The divisions and discontents of that country had been represented as much greater than the fact would justify; and the exhortations transmitted to them to persevere in the honourable course which had been commenced with so much glory, had generally been accompanied with assurances that success must yet crown their patriotic labours. Very many had engaged with zeal in the resistance made by America, and had acted on a full conviction' of the correctness of the principles for which they contended, who would very reluctantly have engaged in the measures which had been adopted, had they really believed that those measures would have issued in war. But each party counted too Chap.hi. much on the divisions of the other, and each 1775. seems to have taken step after step, in the hope that its adversary would yield the point in contest without resorting1 to open force. Thus on both sides, the public feelings had been gradually conducted to a point, which would in the first instance have been thought of with horror, and had been prepared for events, the contemplation of which, in the beginning of the controversy, would have alarmed the most intrepid. The sentiment now prevailing in the middle and southern colonies was, that a reconciliation, on the terms proposed by America, was not even yet impracticable, and was devoutly to be wished; but that war with all its hazards and its horrors was to be preferred to a surrender of those rights for which they had contended, and to which they believed every British subject, wherever placed, to be unquestionably entitled.
They did not hesitate, therefore, which part of the alternative now offered them to embrace, and their delegates united cordially with those of their northern brethren in such measures as the present exigency required. It was unanimously determined that as hostilities had actually commenced, and as large re-enforcements to the British army were expected, these colonies should be immediately put in a state of defence, and that the militia of New York should be armed Vol. 11. F f
Chap. Hi. and trained, and kept in readiness to act at a 1775. moment's warning. It was also determined to embody a number of men, without delay, for the protection of the inhabitants of that place, but they appear not to have been authorized to oppose the landing of any troops which might be ordered to that station by the crown. The convention of New York had already consulted congress, on the steps to be pursued by that colony in the event of the arrival of the troops daily expected at that place from Europe; and they had been advised to permit the soldiers to take possession of the barracks, and to remain there so long as they conducted themselves peaceably; but if they should commit hostilities, or invade private property, the inhabitants were then to repel force by force. Thus anxious was congress, even after a battle had been fought, not to widen still further the breach between the two countries. In addition to the real wish for reconciliation, much felt by a majority of this body, the soundest policy directed that the people of America should engage in the arduous conflict which was approaching, with a perfect conviction that it was forced upon them, and that it had been occasioned by no fault of theirs, and by no intemperate conduct on the part of their leaders. The divisions existing in several of the states i suggested the propriety of this conduct, even I to those who despaired of deriving any other .