ePub 版

ardently wish may never be dissolved, and which cannot be dissolved, until their minds shall become indisputably hostile, or their inattention shall permit those who are thus hostile, to persist in prosecuting, with the powers of the realm, the destructive measures already operating against the colonists, and in either case, shall reduce the latter to such a situation, that they shall be compelled to renounce every regard but that of selfpreservation. Notwithstanding the violence with which affairs have been impelled, they have not yet reached that fatal point. We do not incline to accelerate their motion, already alarmingly rapid ; we have chosen a method of opposition that does not preclude a hearty reconciliation with our fel. low-citizens on the other side of the Atlantic. We deeply deplore the urgent necessity that presses us to an immediate interruption of commerce that may prove injurious to them. We trust they will acquit us of any unkind intentions towards them, by reflecting that we are driven by the hands of violence into unexperienced and unexpected public convulsions, and that we are contending for freedom, so often contended for by Our ancestors. The people of England will soon have an opportunity of declaring their sentiments concerning our cause. In their piety, generosity, and good sense, we repose high confidence ; and cannot, upon a review of past events, be persuaded that they, the defenders of true religion, and the asserters of the rights of mankind, will take part against their affectionate Protestant brethren in the colonies, in favor of our open and their own Secret enemies, whose intrigues, for several years past, have been wholly exercised in sapping the foundations of civil and religious liberty. Another reason that engaged us to prefer the commercial mode of opposition, arose from an assurance that the mode will prove efficacious, if it be persisted in with fidelity and virtue ; and that your conduct will be influenced by these laudable principles, cannot be questioned. Your own salVation, and that of your posterity, now depends upon yourselves. You have already shown that you entertain a proper sense of the blessings you are striving to retain. Against the temporary inconveniences you may suffer from a stoppage of trade, you will weigh in the opposite balance, the endless miseries you and your descendants must endure, from an established arbitrary power.

You will not forget the honor of your country, that must, from your behavior, take its title in the estimation of the world, to glory, or to shame ; and you will, with the deepest attention, reflect, that if the peaceable mode of opposition recommended by us, be broken and rendered ineffectual, as your cruel and haughty ministerial enemies, from a contemptuous opinion of your firmness, in solently predict will be the case, you must inevitably be reduced to choose either a more dangerous contest, or a final, ruinous, and infamous submission. .

Motives thus cogent, arising from the emergency of your unhappy condition, must excite your utmost diligence and zeal, to give all possible strength and energy to the pacific measures calculated for your relief: but we think ourselves bound, in duty, to observe to you, that the schemes agitated against these colonies, have been so conducted, as to render it prudent that you should extend your views to mournful events, and be, in all respects, prepared for every contingency. Above all things, we earnestly entreat you, with devotion of spirit, penitence of heart, and amendment of life, to humble yourselves, and implore the favor of Almighty God : and we fervently beseech his divine goodness to take you into his gracious protection.

IV.-PETITION OF CONGRESS TO THE KING.4 To the King's most excellent Majesty.

MosT GRACIOUs SoverEIGN :—WE, your majesty's faithful subjects, of the colonies of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the counties of New Castle, Kent, and Sussex, on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Corolina, and South Carolina, in behalf of ourselves and the inhabitants of these colonies, who have deputed us to

represent them in general Congress, by this our

humble petition, beg leave to lay our grievances before the throne. A standing army has been kept in these colonies ever since the conclusion of the late war, without the consent of our assemblies; and this army,

* Adopted October 26, 1774.




with a considerable naval armament, has been employed to enforce the collection of taxes. The authority of the commander-in-chief, and under him the brigadier-general, has in time of peace been rendered supreme in all the civil governments in America. The commander-in-chief of all your majesty's forces in North America, has, in time of peace, been appointed governor of a colony. The charges of usual officers have been greatly increased, and new, expensive, and oppressive offices have been multiplied. The judges of admiralty and vice-admiralty courts are empowered to receive their salaries and fees from the effects condemned by themselves. The officers of the customs are empowered to break open and enter houses without the authority of any civil magistrate, founded on legal information. The judges of courts of common law have been made entirely dependent on one part of the legislature for their salaries, as well as for the duration of their commissions. Counsellors, holding their commissions during pleasure, exercise legislative authority. Humble and reasonable petitions, from the representatives of the people, have been fruitless. The agents of the people have been discountenanced, and governors have been instructed to prevent the payment of the salaries. Assemblies have been repeatedly and injuriously dissolved. Commerce has been burdened with many useless and oppressive restrictions. By several Acts of Parliament made in the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth years of your majesty's reign, duties are imposed on us for the purpose of raising a revenue ; and the powers of admiralty and vice-admiralty courts are extended beyond their ancient limits, whereby our property is taken from us without our consent, the trial by jury in many civil cases is abolished, enormous forfeitures are incurred for slight offences, vexatious informers are exempted from paying damages to which they are justly liable, and oppressive security is required from owners before they are allowed to defend their right. Both Houses of Parliament have resolved that colonists may be tried in England for offences alleged to have been committed in America, by virtue of a statute passed in the thirty-fifth year

of Henry the Eighth, and in consequence thereof, attempts have been made to enforce that statute. A statute was passed in the twelfth year of your majesty's reign, directing that persons charged with committing any offence therein described in any place out of the realm, may be indicted and tried for the same in any shire or county within the realm, whereby inhabitants of these colonies may, in sundry cases, by that statute made capital, be deprived of a trial by their peers of the vicinage. In the last session of Parliament an act was passed for blocking up the harbor of Boston ; another, empowering the governor of the Massachusetts Bay, to send persons indicted for murder in that province to another colony, or even to Great Britain, for trial, whereby such offenders may escape legal punishment; a third, for altering the chartered constitution of government in that province; and a fourth, for altering the limits of Quebec, abolishing the English and restoring the French laws, whereby great numbers of British Frenchmen are subjected to the latter, and establishing an absolute government and the Roman Catholic religion throughout those vast regions that border on the westerly and northerly boundaries of the free, Protestant, English settlements; and a fifth, for the better providing suitable quarters for officers and soldiers, in his majesty's service, in North America. To a sovereign, who glories in the name of Britain, the bare recital of these acts must, we presume, justify the loyal subjects, who fly to the foot of his throne, and implore his clemency for protection against them. From this destructive system of colony administration, adopted since the conclusion of the last war, have flowed those distresses, dangers, fears, and jealousies, that overwhelm your majesty's dutiful colonists with affliction ; and we defy our most subtile and inveterate enemies to trace the unhappy differences between Great Britain and these colonies from an earlier period, or from other causes, than we have assigned. Had they proceeded on our part from a restless levity of temper, unjust impulses of ambition, or

artful suggestions of seditious persons, we should

merit the opprobrious terms frequently bestowed upon us by those we revere. But so far from promoting innovations, we have only opposed them, and can be charged with no offence, unless

it be one to receive injuries, and be sensible of them. Had our Creator been pleased to give us existence in a land of slavery, the sense of our condition might have been mitigated by ignorance and habit. But, thanks be to his adorable goodness, we were born the heirs of freedom, and ever enjoyed our right under the auspices of your royal ancestors, whose family was seated on the throne to rescue and secure a pious and gallant nation from the popery and despotism of a superstitious and inexorable tyrant. Your majesty, we are confident, justly rejoices that your title to the crown is thus founded on the title of your people to liberty; and, therefore, we doubt not but your royal wisdom must approve the sensibility that teaches your subjects anxiously to guard the blessing they received from divine Providence, and thereby to prove the performance of that compact which elevated the illustrious house of Brunswick to the imperial dignity it now pos. SéSSCS. The apprehension of being degraded into a state of Servitude, from the pre-eminent rank of English freemen, while our minds retain the strongest love of liberty, and clearly foresee the miseries preparing for us and our posterity, excites emotions in our breasts, which, though we cannot describe, we should not wish to conceal. Feeling as men, and thinking as subjects in the manner we do, silence would be disloyalty. By giving this faithful information, we do all in our power to promote the great objects of your royal cares, the tranquillity of your government, and the welfare of your people. Duty to your majesty, and regard for the pres. ervation of ourselves and our posterity, the primary obligations of nature and society, command us to entreat your royal attention ; and as your majesty enjoys the signal distinction of reigning over freemen, we apprehend the language of freemen cannot be displeasing. Your royal indignation, we hope, will rather fall on those designing and dangerous men, who, daringly interposing themselves between your royal person and your faithful subjects, and for several years past incesSantly employed to dissolve the bonds of society, by abusing your majesty's authority, misrepresenting your American subjects, and prosecuting the most desperate and irritating projects of oppression, have at length compelled us, by the force of

accumulated injuries, too severe to be any longer tolerable, to disturb your majesty's repose by our complaints. ^. These sentiments are extorted from hearts that much more willingly would bleed in your majesty's service. Yet so greatly have we been misrepresented, that a necessity has been alleged of taking away our property from us without our consent, “to defray the charge of the administration of justice, the support of civil government, and the defence, protection, and security of the colonies.” But we beg leave to assure your majesty, that such provision has been, and will be made for defraying the two first articles, as has been, and shall be judged, by the legislatures of the Several colonies, just and suitable to their respective circumstances: and, for the defence, protection, and security of the colonies, their militia, if properly regulated, as they earnestly desire may immediately be done, would be fully sufficient, at least in times of peace ; and, in case of war, your faithful colonists will be ready and willing, as they ever have been, when constitutionally required, to demonstrate their loyalty to your majesty, by exerting their most strenuous efforts in granting supplies and raising forces. Yielding to no British subjects in affectionate attachment to your majesty's person, family, and government, we too dearly prize the privilege of expressing that attachment by those proofs, that are honorable to the prince who receives them, and to the people who give them, ever to resign it to any body of men upon earth. Had we been permitted to enjoy, in quiet, the inheritance left us by our forefathers, we should, at this time, have been peaceably, cheerfully, and usefully employed in recommending ourselves, by every testimony of devotion, to your majesty, and of veneration to the state from which we derive our origin. But though now exposed to unexpected and unnatural scenes of distress, by a contention with that nation, in whose parental guidance on all important affairs, we have hitherto, with filial reverence, constantly trusted, and therefore can derive no instruction in our present unhappy and perplexing circumstances from any former experience ; yet we doubt not, the purity of our intention, and the integrity of our conduct, will justify us at that grand tribunal, before which all mankind must submit to judgment. We ask but for peace, liberty, and safety.




We wish not a diminution of the prerogative, nor do we solicit the grant of any new right in our favor. Your royal authority over us, and our connection with Great Britain, we shall always carefully and Zealously endeavor to support and maintain. Filled with sentiments of duty to your majesty, and of affection to our parent state, deeply impressed by our education, and strongly confirmed by our reason, and anxious to evince the sincerity of these dispositions, we present this petition only to obtain redress of grievances, and relief from fears and jealousies occasioned by the system of statutes and regulations adopted since the close of the late war, for raising a revenue in America ; extending the powers of courts of admiralty and vice-admiralty; trying persons in Great Britain for offences alleged to be committed in America, affecting the province of Massachusetts Bay; and altering the government and extending the limits of Quebec ; by the abolition of which system, the harmony between Great Britain and these colonies, so necessary to the happiness of both, and so ardently desired by the latter, and the usual intercourses will be immediately restored. In the magnanimity and justice of your Majesty and Parliament, we confide for a redress of our other grievances, trusting that When the causes of our apprehensions are removed, our future conduct will prove us not unWorthy of the regard we have been accustomed, in our happier days, to enjoy. For, appealing to that Being who searches, thoroughly, the hearts

of his creatures, we solemnly profess that our councils have been influenced by no other motives than a dread of impending destruction.

Permit us, then, most gracious Sovereign, in the name of all your faithful people in America, with the utmost humility, to implore you, for the honor of Almighty God, whose pure religion our enemies are undermining ; for your glory, which can be advanced only by rendering your subjects happy, and keeping them united ; for the interests of your family, depending on an adherence to the principles that enthroned it; for the Safety and welfare of your kingdoms and dominions, threatened with almost unavoidable dan. gers and distresses; that your majesty, as the loving father of your whole people, connected by the same bonds of law, loyalty, faith, and blood, though dwelling in various countries, will not suffer the transcendent relation formed by these ties to be further violated, in uncertain expectation of effects, that, if attained, never can compensate for the calamities through which they must be gained.

We, therefore, most earnestly beseech your majesty, that your royal authority and interposition may be used for our relief, and that a gracious answer may be given to this petition.

That your majesty may enjoy every felicity through a long and glorious reign, over loyal and happy subjects, and that your descendants may inherit your prosperity and dominions till time shall be no more, is, and always will be, our sincere and fervent prayer.



The spirit roused by the battle of Lexington — Stark and Putnam —Washington's sentiments – Action of Massachu

setts Congress–Troops raised – Boston besieged — Ward captain-general — Ethan Allen and Green Mountain Boys – Ticonderoga taken — Crown Point also –Second Continental Congress—Difficulties and embarrassments in its way-Time of trial — Course pursued — Various papers issued — Congress authorize $3,000,000 in paper money – Provincial Congress in New York — Appointment of a commander-in-chief – Not an easy question to decide – Washington unanimously chosen — His acceptance and speech — Declines all pay for services – His commission — Four major-generals and eight brigadier-generals appointed — Washington enters upon his duties — Arrival of reinforcements at Boston — Gage purposes active measures — Breed's Hill fortified by mistake — British greatly surprised — Attempt to dislodge the Americans— Battle of Bunker Hill — Great slaughter of the royal troops—Importance of this battle–Loss of Warren–Washington finds the army sadly in want of every thing – Vigorous efforts to organize and discipline the army — Further issue of paper money by Congress — Papers set forth by Congress – Efforts as respected the Indians — Speech to these — Colonel Guy Johnson's course — Georgia joins the other colonies — Delegates sent — THE THIRTEEN UNITED ColoniEs – Washington's trials and vexations – Necessity of a regular army — Correspondence with General Gage — Large body of colonists not yet ready for separation from the mother country — Documents quoted — Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence — Expedition into Canada — Montreal taken — Quebec assaulted — Montgomery killed – Americans finally driven out of Canada – Washington confers with Congress as to the troops — Council of war decide against Washington's wish to attack Boston — Outrages by English vessels — Congress lay the foundation of the Navy. APPENDIX To CHAPTER XIII. —I. A Declaration setting forth the causes and necessity of the

colonies taking up arms. – II. Second Petition to the King.

IT is well nigh impossible for us, at this day, fully to realize the intense and burning indignation which was aroused throughout the length and breadth of the land, by the news of the battle at Lexington. Blood had been shed; and the blood of murdered brethren cried from the ground for vengeance. Volunteers immediately hastened towards the scene of action, and within a few days Boston was besieged by the outraged people. Stark, of New Hampshire, ten minutes after the news reached him, was on his way to join the patriot force. Israel Putnam, of Connecticut, sixty years of age, was peacefully occupied in ploughing, when the tidings of the battle

L 775.

arrived, and he left his plough in the field, and without even going to his house, sped on his way to the camp. All Virginia was aroused. Lord Dun. more had attempted a similar exploit to that of Gage, in seizing upon military stores, which caused great excitement, and nothing but timely conces

Sion on the part of the governor pre

vented bloodshed. In New York, in Philadelphia, and farther south, the spirit of the people showed how deeply they sympathized with their countrymen in Massachusetts. It was felt everywhere that the sword had been drawn, and that now the contest must be decided by the sword. “Unhappy is it,” said Washington, writing to Fair.

« 上一頁繼續 »