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The

Declaration of Independence:

Its History

I

SEVENTEEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FOUR

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(EVENTEEN hundred and seventy-four saw the

people at large for the first time recognize that the cause of Boston was a common cause.

Accordingly, it was determined to hold a meeting of Delegates from the various Colonies; and Philadelphia was chosen as the place and the 5th of September as the day of meeting

When the time approached, Washington ", says ? Irving, “was joined at Mount Vernon by Patrick Henry and Edmund Pendleton, and they performed the journey together on horseback. It was a noble companionship. Henry was then in the youthful vigor and elasticity of his bounding genius; ardent, acute, fanciful, eloquent. Pendleton, schooled in public life, a veteran in council, with native force of intellect, and habits of deep reflection. Washington, in the meridian of his days, mature in wisdom, comprehensive in mind, sagacious in foresight.”

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We have even a more interesting account of the journey of the Delegates of Massachusetts.

She had selected James Bowdoin, Samuel and John Adams, Thomas Cushing and Robert Treat Paine. Bowdoin having declined the appointment, the others set out from Boston, from Cushing's house, in coach, August ioth.

On the 15th, they were in Hartford, whither Silas Deane came to meet them; and, from him, they received an account of the New York Delegates, with whom they were unacquainted. On the 16th, about dusk, they arrived in New Haven; and “all the bells in town were set to ringing”. There, the next day, at the tavern (Isaac Bears'), Roger Sherman called upon them, and expressed the opinion “that the Parliament of Great Britain had authority to make laws for America in no case whatever."

On the 20th, they “ Lodged at Cock's, at Kingsbridge”; then breakfasted at Day's ; and arrived in New York “at ten o'clock, at Hull's, a tavern, the sign the Bunch of Grapes ”, whence they “ went to private lodgings at Mr. Tobias Stoutenberg's, in King Street, very near the City Hall one way, and the French Church the other.” John Adams writes in his Diary : “ The streets of this town are vastly more regular and elegant than those in Boston, and the houses are more grand, as well as neat. They are almost all painted, brick buildings and all.”

At 9 o'clock on the 26th, they “ crossed Paulus Hook Ferry to New Jersey, then Hackinsack Ferry, then Newark Ferry, and dined at Elizabethtown”; and thence

on to Brunswick. About noon on the 27th, they came to the tavern in Princeton, “which holds out the sign of Hudibras, near Nassau Hall College. The tavern keeper's name is Hire.” Here they spent Sunday also, when they heard Dr. John Witherspoon preach, and, from Jonathan D. Sergeant, learned of the Delegates from Pennsylvania and Virginia, with whom also they were unacquainted, and still more of the Delegates from New York.

Having breakfasted, on Monday, at Trenton, they crossed the Delaware and passed through Bristol to Frankford?, five miles from Philadelphia, where a number of gentlemen came from that city to meet them — among them, Thomas M:Kean, Thomas Mifflin, John Sullivan, Nathaniel Folsom and (?) Rutledge. They "then rode into town, and dirty, dusty, and fatigued as we were,” writes John Adams in his Diary, “ we could not resist the importunity to go to the tavern, the most genteel one in America”, where they met Thomas Lynch. Adams, on taking a walk around the city the next day, was much impressed with its “regularity and elegance”, in comparison with the “ cowpaths ” of Boston. On the last day of August, he and his associates moved their “lodgings to the house of Miss Jane Port, in Arch Street, about half way between Front Street and Second Street”.

On September ist, in the evening, the Massachusetts Delegates, together with the Delegates from the other Colonies who had arrived in Philadelphia, 25 in number, met at Smith's, the new City Tavern. The Adamses, Cushing and Paine were introduced, the next day, to Peyton Randolph, Benjamin Harrison and Richard

Henry Lee. On the 3d, they met Matthew Tilghman (perhaps) and Cæsar Rodney.

Two days later (Monday, the 5th of September, the day which had been set for the meeting), “At ten”. writes John Adams in his Diary, “the delegates all met at the City Tavern, and walked to the Carpenters' Hall, where they took a view of the room, and of the chamber where is an excellent library; there is also a long entry where gentlemen may walk, and a convenient chamber opposite to the library. The general cry was, that this was a good room ...

Thus began what has since become known as the First Continental Congress.

The Journal shows us that, on this day, Cushing, Samuel 45 and John 46 Adams and Paine 47 of Massachusetts, Sullivan and Folsom of New Hampshire, Stephen Hopkins 4 and Samuel Ward of Rhode Island, Eliphalet Dyer, Deane and Sherman 48 of Connecticut, James Duane', John Jay , Philip Livingston 411, Isaac Low and William Floyd 4 12 of New York, James Kinsey, William Livingston 13, John De Hart, Steven Crane and Richard Smith of New Jersey, Joseph Galloway, Samuel Rhoads, Miffin, Charles Humphreys, John Morton and Edward Biddle of Pennsylvania, Rodney 4 14, M:Kean* and George Read of Delaware, Robert Goldsborough, William Paca 4 15 and Samuel Chase Maryland, Randolph, Washington, Henry, Richard Bland, Harrison 4 17 and Pendleton of Virginia and Henry Middleton, John and Edward 4 18 Rutledge, Christopher Gadsden and Thomas Lynch 19 of South Carolina were present. R. H. Lee 4 20 21 of Virginia and Thomas John

4 16 of

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son, Jr., of Maryland took their seats on the next day. Tilghman of Maryland did not attend until the 12th; William Hooper 4 and Joseph Hewes * of North Carolina, Henry Wisner and John Alsop 23 of New York and George Rosso of Pennsylvania until the 14th ; Richard Caswell of North Carolina until the 17th; John Herring of New York until the 26th ; Simon Boerum of New York until October ist; and John Dickinson 24 of Pennsylvania until October 17th.

Randolph 25 was unanimously chosen President; and Charles Thomson of Pennsylvania became 26 Secretary.

This Congress agreed not to import, after the ist of December, any goods, wares or merchandise from Great Britain or Ireland, or any East India tea, or any molasses, syrups, paneles, coffee or pimento from the British plantations or Dominica, or any wines from Madeira or the Western Islands or any foreign indigo; and the Delegates embodied in the agreement a nonconsumptive clause, binding themselves, as an effectual security for the observation of the non-importation. It was the beginning of the American Union.

Toward declaring independence, however, the First Continental Congress took no action whatever; nor does such a measure seem to have been considered even as a possibility.

Indeed, the association spoken of, of October 20th, itself avowed allegiance to his Majesty ; and the address of this Congress to the King stated that the Colonists yielded to other British subjects in affectionate attachment to his Majesty's person, family and government.

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