Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

ture and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident.....that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights ; that among these are life, liberty, and thepursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed ; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute a new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that governments long established, should not be changed for light and transient causes ; and, accordingly, all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves - by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing, invariably, the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government..... The history of the present king of Great Britain, is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation, till his assent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he had utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws, for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in the Legislature.....a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies, at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness, his invasions on the rights of the people,

He has refused, for a long time after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the legislative powers, incapable

of annihilation, have returned to the people at large, for their exercise; the State remaining, in the meantime, exposed to all the danger of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose, obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others, to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws, for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms-of officers, to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of our Legislature.

He has affected to render the military independent of, and superior to the civil power.

He has combined with others, to subject us to a jurisdiction, foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation.

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among usic...

For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these States:... For cutting off our trade with all parts of the world...... For imposing taxes on us without our consent :.....

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury:.....

for transporting us beyond seas, to be tried for pretended of. fences :.....

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighbouring province, establishing iherein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries, so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument, for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies :.....

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments ......

For suspending our own legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases w

wbatsoever. He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection, and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is, at this time, transporting large armies of foreign mer: çenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tyranny,

US.

already bezun, with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy, scarce. ly paralleled in the inost barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constramed our fellow citizens, taken captive on the high seas, tú bear arins against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and breturen, or to fall theinselves by their hands.

He has cxcited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our fron ters, the mer. ciless Iudian sivages, whose kaown rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions, we have petitioned for re. dress in the most humibie teruis; our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a tyrant, is uniit to be the ruler of a Fiee People.

Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time, of attempts made by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over

We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and maynanimity, and we have conjured them, by the ties of our common kindred, to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably iuterrupt our connexions and correspondence. They, too, have been deal to the voice of justice and cousanguinily: We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind.....enemies in war....in peace, friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, appealing to the supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of sur intentions, 1), in the warne and by the authority of the wood Peuple of these colonies, solemnjy deciare, that these United Colonies are, and of rght ought to be, Free and Independent states.....that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connexion, between them and the State of G:ent Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as Free and kudependent States, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish com.nerce, and to do all other acts and trions which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour.”

Previous to this, a circular letter had been sent through each colony, stating the reasons for it; and such was the animosity now every where prevailing against Great Britain, that it met with general approbation, except in the proviace of Maryland alone. It was not long, however, before the people of that colony, finding themselves left in a very dangerous minority, thought proper to accede to the measures of the rest.

The manifesto itself, was in the usual nervous style, stating a long list of grievances, for a redress of which they had often ap, plied, but in vain; for these reasons they determined on a final separation; and to hold the people of Great Britain, as well as the rest of mankind, “enemies in war, in peace friends."

After thus publicly throwing off all allegiance and hope of reconciliation, the colonists soon found that an exertion of all their strength would be necessary to support their pretensions. Their arms had not been successful in Canada. Reinforcements had been promised to general Arnold, who still continued to blockade Quebec; but they did not arrive in time to second his operations. But being sensible that he must either desist from the enterprise, or finish it succesefuily, he recommenced his operations in form, and attempted to destroy the shipping and burn the town. They succeeded so far as to burn a number of houses in the suburbs, and the garrison were obliged to pull down the remainder, in order to prevent the fire from spreading. Notwithstanding the provincials were unable to reduce the town, they kept the garrison in continual alarms, and in a very disagreable situation.

Some of the nobility collected in a body under the command of one gentleman, whose name was Beaujeau, in order to relieve their capital; but they were met on their march, by the provincials, and defeated. 'l'he Americans bad but little reason to plume themselves upon this success. Their want of artillery convinced them that it was in practicable in their situation to reduce a town so strongly fortified; the small pox, at ihe same time, made its appearance in their camp, and carried off great numbers; inti: midating the rest to such a degree, that they deserted in crowds. To add to their misfortunes, the British reinforcements uner. pectedly appeared, and the ships made their way with such surprising celerity through the ice, that the one part of the army was separated from the other, and general Carleton-sallying out, as soon as the reinforcement was Tunded, obliged them to fly with the utmost precipitation, leaving behind them all their cannon and military stores; at the same time that their shipping was cap. tured by vessels sent up the river for that purpose.

On this occasion, the provincials fled with such haste, that they could not be overtaken; so that none fell into the hands of the British, excepting the sick and the wounded. Generai Carleton, now gave an instance of his humanity: being well apprised that many of the provincials had not been able to accompany the rest in their retreat, and that they were concealed in the woods, &c. in a very deplorable situation, he generously issued a proclama. tion, ordering proper persons to seek them out, and give them relief at the public expense; and at the same time, lest through fear of their being made prisoners, they should refuse these offers of hunanity, he promised, that as soon as their situation enabled them, they should be at liberty to depart to their respective homes.

The British general, now freed from any danger of an attack, was soon enabled to act offensively against the provincials, by the arrival of the forces destined for that purpose from Britain. By these he was put at the head of twelve thousand regular troopss among whom were those of Brunswick. With this force he set out for the Three rivers, where he expected Arnold would have made a stand; but he had retired to Sorel, a place one hundred and fifty miles from Quebec; where he was at last met by the reinforcements ordered by Congress.

Here, though the preceding events were by no means calculatsed to inspire much military ardour, a very daring enterprise was undertaken ; and this was to surprise the British troops, posted under generals Fraser and Nesbit: of whom, the former commanded those on land; the latter such as were on board the transports, and were but a little way distant. The enterprise was very hazardous, both on account of the strength of the parties, against whom they were to act, and as the main body of the British forees were advanced within fifty miles of the place; besides that a number of armed vessels and transports with troops, lay between them and the Three rivers. Two thousand chosen men, however, under general Thompson, engaged in this undertaking. Their succes was by no means answerable to their spirit and valour,

Though they passed the shipping without being observed, general Fraser had notice of their landing, and thus, being prepared to receive them, they were soon thrown into disorder; at the same time that general Nesbit, having landed his forces, prepared to attack them in the rear. Ou this occasion, some field pieces did prodigious execution; and a retreat was found to be unavoidable. General Nesbit was now between them and their boats, so that they were obliged to take a circuit through a deep swamp, while they were hotly pursued by both parties at the same time, who marched for some miles on each side of the swamp, till at last the unfortunate provincials were sheltered from further danger by a wood at the end of the swamp. Their general, however, was taken with two hundred of his men.

By this disaster, the provincials lost all hopes of accomplishing any thing in Canada. They, therefore, demolished their works, and carried off their artillery, with the utmost expedition. They were pursued by general Burgoyne, against whom it was expected they would have collected all their force, and make a resolute stand. But they were now too much dispirited by misfortune, to make any more exertions of valour. On the eighteenth of June, the British general arrived at Fort St. Jubas, which he found

[ocr errors]
« ПредишнаНапред »