Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

effects, but afterwards refused to fulfil his promise. When he resigned his place to general Howe in October, 1775, the latter, apprehensive that they might give intelligence of the situation of the British troups, strictly prohibited any person, from leaving the place under pain of military execution. Thus matters' continued until the month of March 1776, when the town was evacuated. On the second of that month general Washington opened a battery, on the west side of the town, from whence it was bombarded, with a heavy fire of cannon at the same time, and three days after it was attacked by another battery from the eastern shore; this continued for fourteen days without intera ission. When general Howe, finding the place no longer tenable, determined, if possible, to drive the enemy from their works. Preparations were therefore made for a most vigorous attack, on a hill called Dorchester-neck, which the Americans had fortified in such a manner, as would in all probability, have rendered the enterprize next to desperate. No difficulties, however, were sufficient to daunt the spirit of the general; and every thing was in readiness, when a sudden storm prevented an exertion, which must have been productive of a dreadful waste of blood. Next day upon a more close examination of the works, it was thought advisable to desist from the attack altogether. The fortifications were very strong, and well provided with artillery ; and upwards of one hundred hogsheads filled with stones, were provided to roll down upon the enemy as they came up ; which, as the ascent was very steep, must have done great execution.

Nothing, therefore, now remained for the British, but to retreat; and to effect this, there appeared great difficulty and danger. But the Americans, knowing that it was in the power of the enemy to reduce the town to ashes, which could not have been repaired in many years, did not think proper to give the least molestation ; and for the space of a fortnight the troops were employed in the evacuation of the place, from whence they carried along with them two thousand of the inhabitants, who durst not stay, on account of their attachment to the British cause.

From Boston they sailed to Halifax, but all their vigilance could not prevent a number of valuable ships from falling into the hands of the provincials. A considerable quantity of cannon and ammu. nition had also been left at Bunker's hill and Boston neck; and in the town an immense variety of goods, principally of woollen and linen, of which the provincials stood very much in need. The estates of those who fled to Halifax were confiscated; as also of those who had remained in the town, and who had shewn a decided attachment to the British government.

As an attack was expected as soon as the British forces should arrive, every method was employed to render the fortifications impregnable. For this purpose some foreign engineers were employed, who had arrived at Boston ; and so eager were the people of all ranks to accomplish this business, that every able-bodied man in the place, without distinction of rank, set apart two days in the week to compleat it the sooner.

The Americans, exasperated by the proceedings of parliament, which placed them out of the royal protection ; and engaged foreign mercenaries in the plan for subduing them, now formally renounced all connexion with Britain, and declared themselves independent. This celebrated declaration was published on the fourth of July, 1776, as follows :

“ When in the course of human events, 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 station to which the laws of na. ture 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.

We hold these truths to be self-evident....that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that governments long established, should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them une der absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government... The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation, till his assent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he has utter Jy neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws, for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the

[ocr errors]

right of representation in the Legislature....a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies, at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the People.

He has refused, for a long time after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large, for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time, exposed to all the danger of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others, to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws, for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers, to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our Legislatures.

He has affected to render the military, independent of, and superior to, the civil power.

He has combined with others, to subject us to a jurisdiction, foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation.

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us :....

For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these States .....

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world .....
For imposing taxes on us without our consent :...

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury :....

For transporting us beyond seas, to be tried for pretended offences :....

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighbouring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument, for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies ...

[ocr errors]

man in the place, without distinction of rank, set apart two days in the week to compleat it the sooner.

The Americans, exasperated by the proceedings of parliament, which placed them out of the royal protection ; and engaged foreign mercenaries in the plan for subduing them, now for. mally renounced all connexion with Britain, and declared themselves independent. This celebrated declaration was published on the fourth of July, 1776, as follows :

« When in the course of human events, 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 station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opi. nions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident.....that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that governments long established, should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government... The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass låws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation, till his assent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws, for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the

right of representation in the Legislature....a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies, at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. • He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the People.

He has refused, for a long time after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large, for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time, exposed to all the danger of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others, to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws, for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their sa. laries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers, to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in tiines of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our Legislatures.

He has affected to render the military, independent of, and superior to, the civil power.

He has combined with others, to subject us to a jurisdiction, foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giying his assent to their acts of pretended legislation.

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us :....

For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these States .....

For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world ..... For imposing taxes on us without our consent :.... For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury ....

For transporting us beyond seas, to be tried for pretended offences :....

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighbouring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument, for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies :....

TA

« ZurückWeiter »