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find him as busily employed in co-operating in the revolu- and unsatisfactory. We know, however, that Lee, the tion of France—the offspring of the present revolution-as original mover, was supported by his colleague Wythe, and a member of the French national assembly.
most energetically by John Adams; that it was as vigorBesides pamphlets, sermons to the people and harangues ously opposed by John Dickenson and bis colleagues, to the soldiers were assiduously addressed, to bring the Wilson, of Pennsylvania, and Robert Livingstone, of New mass to the fusion point of independence. George III. and York, by Edward Rutledge, of South Carolina. More England were depicted in terrific colours as Pharaoh and the over, a considerable number of members from different states land of bondage; the poor afflicted Americans were the opposed the motion, on the ground, not of its being imoppressed children of Israel. A British officer in disguise, proper in itself, but, as yet, premature. Six colonies delistened to a speech addressed to a body of militia by their clared for it, including Virginia; Pennsylvania, New colonel, in which he was both scriptural and classical, em- Jersey, and Maryland, were expressly against it. New bellishing his oration with quotations from Cæsar and York, Delaware, and South Carolina, were not decided to Pompey, brigadier - generals Putnam and Ward! The move yet; and it was proposed to give them time to make people addressed on the subject of independence often up their minds. Dr. Zubly, of Georgia, protested against turned round with very posing questions, as, “What do you it, and quitted the congress. To give time for greater mean by independence ?" and on one occasion a correspon- unanimity, the subject was postponed till the 1st of July; dent of Washington informed him that the answer was, but, meantime, a committee was appointed to draw up a "We mean a form of government to make us independent declaration of independence. The members of this comof the rich, and every man able to do as he pleases." mittee were only five, namely, Thomas Jefferson, of Vir
Amongst the provinces employing themselves to carry out ginia ; John Adams, of Massachusetts ; Roger Sherman, of the recommendation of the congress, by framing new con- Connecticut; Richard R. Livingstone, of New York; and stitutions, that of New York was emboldened by the Benjamin Franklin, of Pennsylvania. Besides this, two presence of Washington and his army to disregard the other committees were appointed-one to draw up a plan of royalists, and to frame a perfectly independent system. confederation, and the other to prepare a scheine of the terms Goverpor Morris took the lead in the ultra party, and proper for foreign alliances. A board of war was also estab. declared that the time was now come for asserting entire lished, and John Adams was nominated its chairmanindependence. On the 27th of May, a resolution to that post, says the American historian, Hildreth, “which gave him effect was passed, asserting that, as governor Tryon had a full insight into the details of affairs, and compelled him to voluntarily abdicated (the fact being he had fled for his life), complain, like Washington, that, even in this infant age of it was necessary to fill up bis office according to the inherent our republic, corruption abounded, and a predominating rights of the people, to abolish the old assembly, which avarice, which threatened the ruin of America ; the golden had been called under regulations passed by Great Britain, age of pure, disinterested patriotism, being much like all now become hostile, and to elect a new assembly, and estab- other golden ages a thing at a distance, which will not lish a new government totally independent of all foreign bear a close inspection.” and external power. The delegates of the assembly were On the 1st of July the report of the committee was read, instructed to support these principles in the congress. together with the form of declaration as drawn up by Jeffer.
The assembly of Virginia, meeting in convention at son, but afterwards remodelled by Franklin and the comWilliamsburg on the 6th of May, drew up a declaration of mittee. Nine states now voted for independence. Pennrights, a document which afterwards became the model for sylvania and South Carolina voted against it. Delaware the celebrated “rights of man” with the French revolution- and South Carolina requested an adjournment to the next ists. In this declaration it was asserted that the rights of the day, in order to make up their miods, when they voted for people cannot exist with hereditary monarchy; and in the it, a new delegate having arrived from Delaware with fourth article it was affirmed, that the idea of "a man being firmer instructions. New York held out against indepenborn a magistrate, a legislator, or a judge, is unnatural and dence, general Howe having now arrived at Sandy Hook, absurd.” And, accordingly, Richard Henry Lee, as one of and the provincial congress having retired from New York their delegates, on the 7th of June, moved in the general to White Plains. Jay and governor Morris, from that congress, that “these united colonies are, and of right state, were, however, vehement for independence, asserting ought to be, free and independent states; that they are that the congress of New York ought to be dissolved, and absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that delegates sent up to a new and more popular congress. all political connection between them and the state of Great Morris said that congress had, in fact, established an indeBritain is, and ought to be totally dissolved ; that pendent sovereignty of its own; it had coined money. raised measures should immediately be taken for procuring the armies, and regulated commerce. It alone required one assistance of foreign powers, and a confederation bething more to enter into foreign alliances; and even that formed to bind the colonies more closely together."
they had dabbled in. They were treating with Canada, This all-important question was adjourned to the next and France and Spain they ought to treat with ; the rest day, the 8th of June, when it was debated in a committee was but a name. of the whole house. As the whole debate, however, took The revolutionary party in New York determined to place with closed doors, as all great debates of congress did, carry them, and the revolutionary party in Pennsylvania to hide the real state of opinion, and to give to the ultimate the same, right or wrong. In Pennsylvania delegates in decision the air of unanimity, the reports of it are meagresisted that those of their colleagues who were averse to the
declaration should absent themselves, and those favourable political feeling increased, had been exposed to the violence to it should attend and vote. From Delaware, one single of mobs, and to all sorts of personal indignities, in which delegate, Cæsar Rodney, voted and decided the question private malice, or a wanton and insolent spirit of mischief, in that province. The New York assembly only nominally had been too often gratified, under the disguise of reconstructed its provincial congress. Instead of calling the patriotism.” electors together, as recommended by the report of the 28th “The barbarous and disgraceful conduct of tarring and of May, some of the freeholders and voters declared such of feathering, and carting tories-placing them in a cart and the old members as were willing to vote for the declaration carrying them about as a sort of spectacle—had become, in re-elected; and this irregular and clearly unconstitutional some places, a favourite amusement. To restrain these outbody attended and voted for the declaration. Thus a body, rages, always to be apprehended in times of tumult and chosen by a very small minority, contrary to the law they had revolution, congress had especially committed the oversight themselves established, set aside the plain will of the ma- of tories and suspected persons to the regularly-appointed jority; for, since the arrival of Howe at Sandy Hook, the committees of inspection and observation for the several royalists came forth again, and were as resolute against counties and districts. But even these committees were not separation as ever. Even of the number of delegates thus always very judicious or discriminating in the exercise of sent up in violation of all rule, one of them, John Alsop, despotic powers implied in that delicate trust. refused to vote for the declaration, and, after making a "By the recent political changes, tories and suspected solemn protest, quitted the congress. Some other dele persons became exposed to dangers from the law as well as gates-amongst them, John Dickenson, of Pennsylvania from mobs. Having boldly seized the reins of government, staid, and protested totally against the whole proceeding, the new state authorities claimed the allegiance of all declaring they would never sign the declaration.
residents within their limits; and, under the lead and recomBy these violent, arbitrary, and unprincipled means was mendation of congress, those who refused to acknowledge at length passed the famous Declaration of Independence. their authority were exposed to severe penalties, confiscation The original motion for such a declaration, on the 8th of of property, imprisonment, banishment, and, finally, death. June, had only been supported by a bare majority of seven The new governments, however, were slow in resorting to states to six; and now the whole thirteen states were said extreme measures. The most obnoxious tories had already to have assented, though it is a notorious fact that several emigrated; and, for the present, the new governments consignatures were wanting, and were not supplied till months tented themselves with admonitions, fines, recognisances to afterwards by newly-chosen delegates.
keep the peace, and prohibitions to go beyond certain limits. Buzide3 Alsop resigning as delegate of New York, To many of the more ardent leaders, this leniency appeared Dickenson, Andrew Allen, late chief justice of Pennsylvania, dangerous. •Can we subsist ?' wrote Hawley to Gerry; and others who voted against the declaration, were recalled, did any state ever subsist without exterminating and Andrew Allen's brother William threw up his commis- traitors ?!" sion of lieutenant-colonel in the continental army.
In these facts, stated by their own historians, we have It may be truly said, that never had a country a more the germs of the present character of the Americans. The righteous cause than North America, and never was one disregard of personal right in asserting the general right; carried by means less commanding our respect. A certain the domination over all liberty of private judgment; the nu.nber of men, violent and regardless of the voices or a doption of any trick or stratagem to insure their objects; rights of others, domineered over the majority by the same the looseness of conscience in their pursuit of a determined hardy insolence as the southern states now domineer over end, are but to-day more prominently forced on the eye, in the northern ones. They had not faith enough in the the recklessness of American speculation, in their caucuses, nobility of their cause to allow righteous principles to and intimidations in elections, in their gasconading of their operate unchecked until their triumph, but attempted to excellencies and bravery, in their readiness to insult their force the course of events, irrespective of truth and justice, own mother country solely for their own electioneering whilst seeking victory. That trickiness, now grown to its purposes, in their proneness to repudiation of their obligaheight under the name of Yankeyism, shows its slimy tions, in their arbitrary resentment against the expression of trail even on the broad and thickly-signed sheet of the Act opinions disagreeable to them, however just ; and, above all, of Independence. The declaration once engrossed on parch- in their hugging of slavery, with all its demoralising consement and signed, the arbitrary spirit of the republican party quences. We look in vain for the original source of theso appeared more undisguised. All who continued of the royalist characteristics in their English forefathers, or their English party were menaced with fines and punishments. “Very contemporaries; but whencesoever they aocrue, they were Burious," says their own historian, Hildreth,“ was the change unquestionably not merely existent, but rife, at their in the legal position of the class known as tories, in many of revolution. the states a large minority, and in all respectable for wealth The admission of slavery into their new constitution, in and social position. Of those thus stigmatised, some were direct and shameless violation of the very first clause of their inclined to favour the utmost claims of the mother country; declaration of rights, “ that all men are born equally free, but the greater part, though determined to adhere to the possessing certain natural rights, of which they cannot, by British connection, yet deprecated the policy which had any compact, deprive their posterity," was such a thing, dono brought on so fatal a quarrel. This loyal minority—especi- in the face of all nations, as argued a fearful callousness to ally in its more conspicuous members—as the warmth of the touches of a noble shame. This odious feature of their constitution was originally omitted in the draught of symptoms, the confidence of many reflecting men in our freo the act of union, but was conceded to the southern states institutions is very much impaired. Some despair. That in order to insure the accomplishment of the union. By a main pillar of public liberty, mutual trust amongst citizens, remarkable Nemesis, it is now the menacing cause of a final is shaken. That we must seek security for property and life rupture of that union. Jefferson says, that “not only the in a stronger government, is a spreading conviction. Men south, but our northern brethren also, I believe, felt a little who, in public, talk of the stability of our institutions, tender under these censures, for, though their people had whisper their doubts—perhaps their scorn—in private." very few slaves themselves, yet they had been considerable When we add to these melancholy features of American carriers of them to others."
| character a treatment of free men and women of colour Slavery once admitted soon showed its diabolical influences. which scandalises the whole civilised world, we may truly It undermined the morality of government, of religion, and of say that, when they admitted black slavery into their act of a large bulk of the community ; it compelled slave-holders independence, they gave a very black complexion to that to imitate popery, in suppressing the Bible amongst the black document. The declarations contained the following population ; it taught ministers of the gospel to falsify the assertions of freedom :-1. That all men are born equally gospel, and to overturn all the principles of morality, justice, free, possessing certain natural rights, of which they and truth; to make the word of peace, and liberty, and cannot, by any compact, deprive their posterity. 2. That mutual equity, speak the most terrible blasphemies of the all power is vested in the people, from whom it is derived God" who made of one blood all the nations of the earth; " (but it was voted in congress the blacks made no part of it taught sensuality to break down all the boundaries of the people). 3. That they have an inalienable, indefeapurity and personal sanctity which Christ had set up, and sible right to reform, alter, or abolish their form of governled to the commission of a crime almost exclusively Ameri ment at pleasure. 4. That the idea of an hereditary first can—the selling your own offspring, the trading in your own magistrate is unnatural and absurd. Aesh and blood, in your own image, as well as the image of The Americans did not make their declaration of indethe common Father.
pendence till they had assurances from France that the This signal surrender of principle to expediency in the French king was prepared to support them with men, case of slavery has, no doubt, yet to be avenged, in national money, and arms. The English government, as lord North calamities and disruptions, to a degree frightful to the imagi- publicly declared in parliament, had long heard of nation; but it immediately tended to aggravate beyond American emissaries at Paris seeking aid there. We have everything else those features of American character, the this statement, again, from governor Morris, in congress; brutalities of duels with rifles and bowie knives, the knocking and John Jay, in his “Life and Opinions,” published by one another down on the floor of congress, the cudgelling of his son, not only gives a circumstantial account of this senators for the independent expression of their opinions, assurance of French aid, but adds that it had the effect of and the monstrosities and murders at sea, now so frequently inducing the congress to take the decisive step of making disgracing their mercantile navy. These things are too the declaration. This is Jay's account:-"Some time in notorious to be denied; but, that we may not be accused of the course of this year, 1775, probably about the month of injustice in stating them on this necessary occasion, we shall November, congress was informed that a foreigner was thera add the observations of one of their own most esteemed in Philadelphia who was desirous of making to them an writers, Dr. Channing, in a letter to Mr. Clay in 1837, important and confidential communication. This intimasince which time such features have become still worse :— tion having been several times repeated, a committee, con
“I cannot do justice to this topic without speaking freely sisting of Mr. Jay, Dr. Franklin, and Mr. Jefferson, was of our country -- as freely as I should of any other; appointed to hear what the foreigner had to say. These and, unhappily, we are so accustomed, as a people, to gentlemen agreed to meet him in one of the committee receive incense, to be soothed by flattery, and to account rooms in Carpenters' Hall. At the tiine appointed, they reputation a more important interest than morality, that my went there, and found already arrived an elderly, lame freedom may be construed into a kind of disloyalty. But gentleman, having the appearance of an old wounded French it would be wrong to make concessions to this dangerous officer. They told him they were authorised to receive his weakness.
communication, upon which he said that his most Christian “ Amongst us a spirit of lawlessness pervades the com- majesty had heard with pleasure of the exertions made by munity, which, if not repressed, threatens the dissolution of the American colonies in defence of their rights and our present forms of society. Even in the old states, mobs privileges; that his majesty wished them success, and would, are taking the government into their hands; and a profli- whenever it should be necessary, manifest more openly his gate newspaper finds little difficulty in stirring up multi friendly sentiments towards them. tudes to violence. When we look at the parts of the country “The committee requested to know his authority for nearest to Texas, we see the arms of the law paralysed those assurances. He answered only by drawing his hand by the passions of the individual. Add to all this the in- across his throat, and saying, “Gentlemen, I shall take care vasions of the rights of speech and of the press by lawless of my head.' They then asked what demonstrations of force, the extent and toleration of which oblige us to friendship they might expect from the king of France. believe that a considerable portion of our citizens have no Gentlemen,' answered the foreigner, if you want arms, comprehension of the first principles of liberty. It is an you shall have them ; if you want ammunition, you shall undeniable fact that, in consequence of these and other I have it; if you want money, you shall have it.' The
committee observed that these assurances were indeed im- destruction. We hope the patient abiding of the meek may portant, but again desired to know by what authority not always be forgotten." they were made. "Gentlemen,' said he, repeating his It is edifying to recollect that this Mr. Jay, who thus former gesture, 'I shall take care of my head;' and declared the Americans still ready to obey the laws, still longthis was the only answer they could obtain from him. ing for reconciliation, still prepared to bleed for their Ile was seen in Philadelphia no more. It was the sovereign in a rightful cause, had been always amongst the opinion of the committee that he was a secret agent of foremost in forcing on the people of New York to an irrethe French court, and directed to give these indirect as- concilable rupture, and in authorising a minority to send surances, but in such a manner that he might be disavowed, delegates to supersede in congress the delegates of the if necessary.'"
properly-constituted assembly, because they would not vote In consequence, Mr. Jay says, a secret committee, of for the declaration of independence. which he himself was a member, and which had Thomas. It is a very significant fact, that, though the declaration Paine for its secretary, was appointed to correspond with of independence had thus been violently and irregularly the friends of America in Great Britain, Ireland, and forced into being, its announcement was everywhere other parts of the world. Encouraged by the assurances of received with a cold indifference. When it arrived from France, the secret committee was soon converted into a congress at the camp, it was, by Washington's order, read pablic one, and agents were sent off to almost every court aloud at the head of every regiment, but it produced no of Europe to solicit aid of one kind or another against the particular sensation. The adjutant-general (Reed) does not mother country, not omitting even Spain, Naples, Holland, even mention it in his almost daily letters to his wife; and Russia. Silas Deane was dispatched to Paris in March and his biographer remarks in his Life, written at the of this year, to announce the almost certainty of a total present day, that, “ No one can read the private correseparation of the colonies from Great Britain, and to solicit spondence of the times without being struck with the the promised co-operation.
slight impression made, on either the army or the mass of The Americans had great hopes of exciting a rebellion in the people, by the declaration.” Jared Sparks, indeed, in Ireland at the same time that they promoted the discontent his “ Life of Washington,” makes the general, in his letters of the people of England. Jay tells us that he was em- to congress, say that the troops" testified their warmest ployed to draw up at this time an address to the Irish, in approbation;" but lord Mahon (see appendix to his History which he took care to remind them of the oppressions of of England, vol. vi.) has so completely exposed his falsifithemselves by Great Britain ; of their love for the Irish, cations of the original letters and dispatches of Washington, and deep sympathy with their wrongs; of the gratitude of that this assertion, contrary to the general evidence, is of the Americans for the friendly spirit they had manifested little value. The most marked act following the publicatowards them during the tyrannies of England. They tion of the declaration was, that a party of soldiers pulled deplored their necessity of stopping trade with Ireland as down and beheaded a leaden statue of George III., which well as England ; because, if they did not, England would had been erected in the Broadway, at New York, six years continue the trade through Ireland. And they thus con- before, and cast it into bullets. cluded :-" Compelled to behold thousands of our country- Lord Howe arrived from England, and cast anchor off men imprisoned, and men, women, and children, in Sandy Hook, a few hours after the declaration of indepromiscuous and unmerited misery; when we find all faith pendence had been read to the army by Washington. He at an end, and sacred treaties turned into tricks of state; had been expected by his brother, general Howe, who had when we perceived our friends and kinsmen massacred, our arrived at the same point on the 29th of June, supposing he habitations plundered, our houses in flames, and our once should find the admiral already there. General Howe had happy inhabitants fed only by the hand of charity ; who been immediately waited on by governor Tryon, who was can blame us for endeavouring to restrain the progress of lying there on board a ship of war, and had engaged two che desolation ? Who can censure us for repelling the hundred volunteers from amongst the tories of New York, attacks of such a barbarous band? Who, in such circum- who were violently incensed at the persecutions of the stances, would not obey the great, the universal, the divine republicans, who had denounced the penalty of death on all law of self-preservation? Though vilified as wanting spirit, who in any way assisted the English, and were then we are determined to behave like men ; though insulted and confiscating and selling their property by public auction. abused, we wish for reconciliation; though defamed as General Howe found Washington already in New York, seditious, we are ready to obey the laws; and though and actively engaged in throwing up entrenchments, both charged with rebellion, we will cheerfully bleed in defence there and on Long Island, to close the Hudson against the of our sovereign in a righteous cause. What more can we English fleet. Washington's head-quarters were at New say? What more can we offer? We know that you are York; those of general Sullivan, at the western extremity not without your grievances. We sympathise with you in of Long Island, opposite to New York; and Governor's your distress, and are pleased to find that the design of Island, Paulus Hook, New Rochelle, and other points, subjugating us has persuaded the administration to dispense to were strongly defended to protect the rear of the city. Ireland some vagrant rays of ministerial sunshine. Even At the time of admiral Howe's arrival, the army of the tender mercies of government have long been cruel Washington did not amount to more than seventeen towards you. In the fat pastures of Ireland, many hungry thousand men, of whom three thousand were sick, and but parricides have fed and grown strong to labour in her about ten thousand men fit for duty. By his letters to
though inting spirit, we mublicans, whola incensed the torie
congress, it is clear that he entertained very little hope of His first act was to dispatch a letter to Franklin, who, in inaintaining his ground in case of attack, for the fresh England, had expressed so earnest a desire for accommodaforces brought by Howe from England, being joined by the tion of all differences, informing him of his commission to shattered remains of Sir Peter Parker's squadron, amounted seek reconciliation, and of his powers for the purpose. But to twenty thousand men. A few days afterwards, however, the declaration being now made, Franklin had no longer a he was joined by two regiments from Philadelphia, and by motive to conceal his real sentiments, and he replied in terms large bodies of New York and New England militia, which greatly astonished Howe, filling his letters only with
raising his army to twenty-seven thousand men, but of these complaints of " atrocious injuries," and of what America a large number were sick. He now posted strong reinforce- | had endured from "your proud and uninformed nation." ments in Brooklyn. On this, general Howe quitted Sandy Howe next turned to Washington, to whom he dispatched Hook, and advanced to Staten Island, where he could watch a flag of truce, bearing a letter to the commander-in-chief. the operations of the enemy. The Americans abandoned But, as Washington could only be regarded as an insurgent Staten Island, on his approach, without firing a gun. chief, lord Howe thought he could not officially recogoise
Things being in this position on the arrival of lord a title only conferred by the American congress, and admiral Howe, he determined still, notwithstanding the therefore did not address him as general, but simply as proclamation of independence, to make every effort to pro- George Washington, esquire. Washington refused to treat cure a last chance of peace. He deeply regretted the delays in any other character than that of commander-in-chief of which had attended his fleet, and lost no time in sending on the American forces. He instantly returned Howe's letter, ehore an intimation that he brought conciliatory overtures. I and forwarded the other papers to congress. One of these