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CHAP. VI. on the Jersey shore, and penetrate into the 1776. heart of the middle colonies, was too apparent
to permit that portion of the union to remain entirely unprotected. It was therefore resolved to form, in the middle colonies, a flying camp, to be composed of ten thousand men, to be furnished by Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland. The militia, both of the flying camp, and of the army at New York, were to be engaged to serve until the first of December; and the commander in chief was empowered to form such magazines of military stores, and provisions, as he should deem necessary. He was also authorized to call on the neighbouring colonies for such additional temporary aids of militia, as the exigencies of his army might render necessary; and, as he knew well, that if this power should be immediately exercised, it would be impossible to retain them in the field even until the occasion should render their service indispensable, he forbore to call them from their homes, until the enemy should actually appear in force.
Great and embarrassing as were the difficul. ties already noticed, attending the situation of the commander in chief, they were very much augmented by the disaffection of the inhabitants about the city of New York, and the adjacent islands. A plot, to favour the enemy on their landing, and, as was understood, to seize and deliver up general Washington himself, had
been formed; in which governor Tryon, CHAP. VI. through the agency of the mayor of New 1776. York, was believed to be principally concerned. This plot had extended to the American army and even some of the general's guards were engaged in it. It was fortunately discovered in time to be defeated, and some of the persons concerned were executed. About the same time, a similar plot was discovered about Albany, and some executions there too were found necessary. .
Hitherto, the war had been carried on with the avowed wish of obtaining a redress of grievances. The utmost horror at the idea of attempting independence had been expressed, and the most anxious desire of establishing, on its ancient principles, the union which had so long subsisted between the two countries, was openly and generally declared. But, however sincere the wish to retain a political connexion with Great Britain might have been at the commencement of the conflict, the operation of hostilities on that sentiment was infallible. To profess allegiance and respect for a monarch, who was believed to be endeavouring, by force of arms, to wrest from them all that rendered life valuable; whilst every possible effort was making, by arms, to repel the attempt; began to be felt as an absurdity, and to maintain such a system was impossible. The human mind, when it receives a vast momentum, does not,
CHAP. VI. like projectiles, stop at the point, to which the 1776. force originally applied may have been calcu.
lated to carry it. A variety of causes act upon it in its course. It is either checked, or an additional impetus is given to it; and it often takes a direction totally different from that at first designed. When the appeal was first made to arms, and the battle of Lexington was fought, a great majority of those who guided the couns cils and led the battalions of America, wished only for a repeal of the obnoxious acts of par. liament, which had occasioned their resistance to the authority of the crown; and would have been truly unwilling to venture into the unexplored regions of self government. Having imbibed, from education, strong prejudices in favour of the British nation and of the British constitution, they wished only to enjoy its substantial benefits. It is evidence of this temper, that governor Eden of Maryland, and governor Franklin of New Jersey, were per. mitted to remain in their respective colonies, until it was perceived that this moderation was abused by those characters, who availed themselves of it to act as spies for the public enemy. For some time, the king was still prayed for in the performance of divine service, and in the proclamation of a fast by congress, in June 1775, one of the motives for recommending it was, to beseech the Almighty "to bless our rightful sovereign king George III. and inspire him with wisdom."
The prejudices in favour of a connexion CHAP. VI. with England, and of the English constitution, 1776. gradually, but rapidly wore off; and were Measures succeeded by republican principles, and wishes independence for independence. Many essays appeared in the papers calculated to extend these opinions, and a pamphlet under the signature of Common Sense, written by Thomas Paine, an Englishman, who had lately come over to America, had particular influence. He possessed a style and manner of saying bold things, singularly well fitted to act on the public mind, to inlist every feeling with him; and, very often, espe·cially in times when men were greatly agitated, to seize on the judgment itself. He boldly pronounced the further continuance of a connexion with England, unsafe, as well as impracticable; and even ventured to attack, with successful ridicule, a constitution which had been deemed the masterpiece of political workmanship. He was universally read, and among those who were zealous in the war, obtained every where friends to the doctrine of independence. New strength was every day added to the opinions, that a cordial reconciliation with Great Britain had become impossible; that mutual confidence could never be restored; that reciprocal jealousy, suspicion, and hate, would take and hold the place of that affection, which could alone render such a connexion happy, and beneficial; that even the commercial
CHAP. VI. dependence of America upon Britain, was 1776. greatly injurious to the former, and that incal.
culable benefits must be derived from opening to themselves the markets of the world; that to be governed by a nation, or a sovereign, distant from them three thousand miles, unacquainted with, and unmindful of, their interests, would, even if reinstated in their former situation, occasion infinite injury; and, in the present state of America, was an evil too great to be voluntarily borne. But victory alone could restore them to that situation, and victory would give them independence. The hazard was the same; and, since the risk of every thing was unavoidable, the most valuable attainable object ought, in common justice, and common prudence, to be the reward of success. In such horror too was viewed the present war, and the principles on which it was believed to be conducted, that it was supposed impossible it could receive the support of a free people. The alacrity therefore, with which the English nation entered into it, was ascribed to a secret and dangerous influence, which was, with rapid progress, undermining the liberties, and the morals of the mother country; and which, it was feared, would cross the Atlantic, and infect and contaminate the principles of the colonists likewise, should the ancient political connexion be restored. The intercourse of America with the world, and her own experience, had not