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SEVENTEEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE
EVENTEEN hundred and seventy-five is the year of Paul Revere's ride — the year of Lex
ington and Concord and Bunker Hill. War had become a reality.
Strangely enough, however, the majority of the people still desired reconciliation 1 the love of Liberty of the Anglo-Saxon, as a race, not yet having overcome in them the cradle-nurtured spirit of the subject; and, of the comparatively few who favored independence, many feared and others seemed ashamed openly to express their opinions.
Only six days before the end of the year, Portsmouth, N. H., instructed ? her Representatives to the Provincial Congress : : “We are of opinion that the present times are too unsettled to admit of perfecting a firm, stable and permanent government [for New Hampshire]; and that to attempt it now would injure us, by furnishing our enemies in Great Britain with arguments to persuade the good people there that we are aiming at independency, which we totally disavow ... We particularly recommend, that you strictly guard against every measure that may have a tendency to cause disunion .
Even in Boston, — when delivering too the oration to commemorate the tragedy of March 5, 1770!— Dr. Joseph Warren expressed himself thus: “An independence on Great Britain is not our aim. No, our wish is that Britain and the Colonies may, like the oak and ivy, grow and increase in strength together..." Indeed, after the battle of Lexington, the same orator said: “This [reconciliation] I most heartily wish, as I feel a warm affection for the parent state ...
William Gordon writes from Jamaica Plain, July 30th, to Mrs. Elizabeth Smith at Weathersfield: “[N] I still retain with you an affection for our native country, & wish to have matters accommodated, if it is the will of heaven, without a total separation.”
The Provincial Congress itself of Massachusetts, in its address to the inhabitants of Great Britain, declared, April 26th : “We profess to be his loyal and dutiful subjects; and so hardly dealt with as we have been, are still ready, with our lives and fortunes, to defend his person, family, crown, and dignity.”
“ Brother Jonathan ” (Trumbull) writes, to the Earl of Dartmouth, in March : “We consider the interests of the two countries as inseparable, and are shocked at the idea of any disunion between them ... The good people of this Colony [Connecticut], my Lord, are unfeignedly loyal, and firmly attached to his Majesty's person, family, and government.”
As for New York, under no circumstances could she yet tolerate the idea of independence. On June 26th, the Provincial Congress approved of an address, to be delivered to Washington, who was on his way to take
command of the army, in which they spoke of (that fondest wish of each American soul) an accommodation with our Mother Country”; the Committee of “ Manhattan”, on August 4th, finding that a Mr. Archer (“lately” of Philadelphia) had propagated a report there that Congress had resolved “that unless American grievances were redressed by the first of March, these Colonies should be independent of Great Britain . . Resolved, That the author of such report is guilty of a malicious attempt to represent the Continental Congress as intending to cast off the connexion and dependence of the Colonies on Great Britain, and thereby to widen the unhappy breach already subsisting between them ”; and the Provincial Congress again, four months later, declared “That the supposed present turbulent state' of this Colony arises not ... from a desire to become independent ..."
The Assembly of Delaware instructed her Delegates, March 29th : “That in every act to be done in Congress, you studiously avoid, as you have heretofore done, everything disrespectful or offensive to our most gracious Sovereign, or in any way invasive of his just rights and prerogative.”
“Camillus”, in a Pennsylvania newspaper, thus concisely compares the rights of the Colonists with those of the citizens of the mother country : 4 IN ENGLAND
IN AMERICA 1. A tryal by a jury of his country, 1. A tryal by jury only in some in all cases of life and property. cases, subjected in others to a single
Judge, or a Board of Commissioners. 2. A tryal where the offence was 2. A tryal, if a Gov pleases, committed.
3000 miles from the place where the offence was committed.
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 10, 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, Mifflin, Charles Humphreys, John Morton4 and Edward Biddle of Pennsylvania, Rodney 414, M:Keano and George Read* of Delaware, Robert Goldsborough, William Paca 4 15 and Samuel Chase 4 16 of 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 * 20 21 of Virginia and Thomas John
son, Jr., of Maryland took their seats on the next day. Tilghman of Maryland did not attend until the 12th; William Hooper* and Joseph Hewes 4 of North Carolina, Henry Wisner and John Alsop 23 of New York and George Ross * 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 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.