Page images

ance of restraint, is our indefeasible right. This exalted blessing we are resolutely determined to defend with our blood, and to transfer it uncontaminated to our posterity. America has grown so irritable, by oppression, that the least shock in any part, is, by the most powerful and sympathetic affection, instantaneously felt through the whole continent.That while the whole continent are ardently wishing for peace, on such terms as can be acceded to by Englishmen, they are indefatigable in preparing for the last appeal. We speak the real sentiments of the confederated continent, from Novascotia to Georgia, when we declare, that all the horrors of a civil war, will never compel America to submit to taxation by authority of Parliament.”

They closed their address by conjuring the city of London, to put forth their most vigorous exertions to restore union and peace to the empire.

The next day, May 6th, a general association took place in the city and county of New York, for the support of the measures of the General Congress, and their own mutual co-operations against the oppressive measures of Parliament, as well as their joint efforts with their committee of safety, for the defence and protection of their honors and property.

New-Jersey took the alarm, at the first tidings of the Lexington battle, seized on the treasury of the province, and appropriated its contents, (say 20,000l.) to the payment of the levies, then raising for the war.

Philadelphia co-operated with New-York, in closing her


At this time, the conciliatory plan of disunion arrived at Philadelphia, and was laid before the assembly by the governor; but the plan was promptly rejected, as dangerous to the union, and harmony of the colonies. This conciliatory bill was as follows:

Whenever the governor, council, and assembly, or general court of his majesty's provinces, or colonies, shall propose to make provision, according to their respective conditions, circumstances, and situations, for contributing their proportion to the common defence, (such proportion to be raised under the authorities of the general court, or general assembly of such province, orcolony, and disposable by parliament,) and shall engage to make provision for the support of the civil government, and the administration of justice in such province, or colony, it will be proper, if such proposal shall be approved by his majesty in parliament, and for so long as such provision shall be made accordingly, to forbear, in respect to such province, or colony, to levy any duties, tax, or assessment; or to impose any further duty, tax, or assessment, except only such duties, as it may be expedient to impose for the regulation of commerce; the nett produce of the duties last mentioned, to be carried to the account of such province, colony, or plantation, respectively."

Even the high prerogative party in parliament declared their opposition to this bill, as being highly insidious, base, and treacherous;" all which the minister acknowledged, and yet it passed by a majority of three to one.

Dr. Franklin had now returned to America, and was elected a member of this assembly. The house had expressed, by a resolution, the high sense they entertained of his useful services in England, and their confidence in his talents, and integrity. The house at the same time rejected the insidious bill of the minister, with indignation, and this became the fate of the bill whenever it was introduced.

The conflict at Lexington was communicated to the citizens of Baltimore, in six days-viz. on the 25th, and they immediately seized on the provincial magazine, conVOL. III.


taining 1500 stands of arms, and co-operated with NewYork and Philadelphia, in closing their port, and laying restrictions on commerce.

In Virginia, measures were not so cordial. The governor secured about 750lb. of powder, and caused it to be conveyed from the public magazine, on board an armed British vessel, on the night of the 20th of April. This gave a gene ral alarm to the citizens of Williamsburg, who assembled under the direction of the mayor, and corporation, and demanded the powder, in a spirited address to the governor, who gave them assurances that it should be instantly returned, if any insurrection should require it. This satisfied Williamsburg; but Patric Henry, as captain of a volunteer corps, marched from Hanover county, to secure the public treasury at Williamsburg, as well as to obtain satisfaction for the powder; but when they had arrived within 15 miles of the capital, the receiver general made a full compensation for the powder, and the citizens pledged themselves to secure the public treasury, and magazine, and the captain disbanded his troops,


and returned.

The governor resented this outrage upon his authority, as he termed it, and threatened to be revenged upon the people, by erecting the royal standard, enfranchising the negroes, and arming them against their masters. These threats, added to the outrage of the governor upon the rights of the people, in seizing the powder, highly exasperated the citizens of Virginia, and in the midst of this high excitement of the public mind, arrived the news of the Lexington battle. They turned their first attention to the organization of their militia; formed volunteer companies, and prepared for the war.

The minds of the Carolinians were equally prepared for tidings from the north, by the arrival of a packet from London, on the 19th of April; which brought out the

whole war budget from England, and opened their eyes to the views of Parliament, and disclosed the fact, that war or submisson was inevitable. The principal characters of Charlestown, upon the arrival of the news of the Lexington fight, seized about twelve hundred stands C arms, in the royal arsenal, and caused them to be distri buted amongst the people: regardless of their defenceless sea coast, (then exposed to the depredati ons of the British, along the coast,) as well as of their extensive frontier, which would be laid open to the ravages of an Indian war; they rose manfully to the contest, determined to sacrifice every thing rather than resign up their dear native rights.

The patriotism of South-Carolina was highly to be appreciated, because the embarrassments which she had to surmount were truly great.

Her goverment was decidedly a royal government, and had been from an early date: she had never known, nor tasted of those ble ssings of liberty, which had been common to the other colonies; her governor was absolute, under the crown; he held the command of her militia; and a military officers held their commissions of him. The people were without arms, ammunition, money, clothing, ships, or even discipline; no civil community could be more defenceless; yet all these embarrassinents, the patriots of South-Carolina braved, with undaunted firmness, and enrolled themselves in the ranks of their country, to share the dangers, and reap the rewards of the common cause.

All the embarrassments attached to South-Carolina were spread before North-Carolina; yet she surmounted them all, and embarked in the cause of freedom, with ardent patriotic zeal, and shared in the dangers, and distresses of her suffering country, as well as the glories of her triumphant cause.



THE battle of Lexington had now opened the bloody conflict between Great-Britain and her colonies in America, and the madness of her counsels, and the more than mad system of her measures, had now arrayed the nation against herself, and kindled a civil war, to the inexpressi ble grief of her friends, and the eternal joy of her enemies. Thus armed against herself, she put forth all her efforts to prosecute the war, and bring the colonies at her feet.

The colonies were now arrayed in one firm bond of union, under the guidance of their General Congress; and this union, added to the justice of their cause, and the spirit of the day, together with their confidence in the God of their fathers, formed the whole strength and confidence of the nation. Thus arrayed in defence of their fires and their altars, without arms, ammunition, or military stores; without ships, without' money, without credit, and even without allies, America committed her cause to God, and entered the lists with Britain, then mistress of the seas, and arbiter of the world.

The provincial congress of Massachusetts dispatched the _following circular to the several colonies, bearing date April 28, 1775.

"We conjure you, by all that is dear, by all that is sacred, that you give all assistance possible in forming an army in defence of the country. Our all is at stake. Death and destruction are the certain consequences of delay. Every moment is infinitely precious. An hour lost. may deluge your country in blood, and entail perpetual

« PreviousContinue »