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their grievances, they were no less firmly determined to uphold their connection. — An Englishman viewing these things after the event cannot but observe with pain, and also in a national sense with self-reproach, how strong had been, and was still, the tie of duty and affection which (always excepting Massachusetts) bound the Colonies to England. During the Session and from the seat of the first Congress we find an American statesman and patriot, as yet a friend to the mother country, but afterwards_Adjutant General to Washington, write as follows to Lord Dartmouth : “ Believe me, my Lord, no “ King ever had more loyal subjects, or any country “ more affectionate Colonists, than the Americans were. “I who am but a young man well remember when the “ King was always mentioned with a respect approaching “ to adoration ; and to be an Englishman was alone a suf“ ficient recommendation for any office of friendship or
civility. But I confess with the greatest concern that “ these happy days seem passing swiftly away; and “ unless some scheme of accommodation can be speedily 6 formed the affection of the Colonists will be irrecoverably lost.” *
In the further course of this General Congress the ex treme Anti-English party gave way to the less forward. They wisely felt that all their hopes depended on united action, and determined not indeed to relinquish but postpone their ulterior views. By their concessions the measures of the Congress — all apparently unanimous were upon the whole marked by moderation, combined with dignity and firmness. They indeed go the length of approving in word the Resolves of the Suffolk County meeting, but themselves avoided the violence which that meeting had displayed. They drew up an able Declaration of Rights, claiming for themselves all the liberties of Englishmen, which they said they had neither surrendered, forfeited, nor lost, by emigration. From these premises they deduced that several recent Acts of Parliament, and more especially those of the last Session against the province of Massachusetts, were violations of their rights, and that the repeal of such Acts was es
* Mr. Reed to the Earl of Dartmouth, Sept. 25. 1774.
sential to the restoration of harmony between Great Britain and her Colonies. As practical means to this end the Congress passed Resolutions to suspend all imports, or use of imports, from Great Britain or Ireland, or any of their dependencies, after the first day of December next, and all exports to those countries after the 10th of September in the year ensuing, unless American grievances should be redressed before that time. An Association to carry out these Resolutions was then formed and subscribed by every Member present; and with almost equal ardour was that Association as soon as known approved and joined throughout the twelve Colonies.
In the Resolutions then published, and thus forbidding exports to Great Britain or Ireland, there appear these words, strangely devoid of congruity : "except rice to
Europe.” But this interpolation was inserted to gratify the delegates from Carolina, who otherwise had threatened to secede. Such was the cautious regard to local interests required at this period to secure a seeming unanimity.
The Congress likewise published several Addresses, as one to the people of Great Britain, another to the people of Canada, and a Petition to the King. The preparation of each of these state-papers had been referred to a small Committee, but, as was commonly thought, the Address to the English people was composed by Mr. John Jay of New York, and the Petition to the King by Mr. John Dickinson of Pennsylvania. The Address to the people of Canada, though like the rest by no means wanting in eloquence, displayed much misapprehension as to the feeling in that country. By the Quebec Act of last Session the administration of the province had been vested in a Governor and Council nominated by the Crown; and the Trial by Jury though granted in criminal was withheld in civil cases. In the British Parliament the fervid Opposition orators as Dunning and Chatham - had denounced these provisions in the strongest terms as robbing British subjects of their British rights. Yet in whom at that period could a right of election have been safely vested ? In the English Protestants still so few in numbers ? Or in the French Roman Catholics still so recent in allegiance ? Above all it was not considered
that the mass of the people in Canada born and bred under the old French civil laws were accustomed to no other, and according to the evidence produced at the Bar of the House of Commons were desirous of no other. * Such evidence, though resting on experienced and respectable authority, was overlooked in the American Congress as it had been by the Opposition in the British Parliament. It was imagined that the Canadians were secretly pining and dissatisfied at the acts of the British Government, an idea wholly erroneous, which caused at this time a fruitless Address, and after the war had commenced a baffled expedition.
The Congress having completed the business before them passed a Resolution for convening another Congress on the 10th of May in the ensuing year, and then on the 26th of October quietly dissolved themselves. Even while their sittings still continued the breach in Massachusetts between the administration and the people far from closing had grown wider. The Governor had issued Writs for a new Assembly to meet at Salem in the beginning of October. But finding the resignations in his new Council so many that the Council had no longer the legal numbers to do business, he changed his purpose, and issued a Proclamation to countermand his Writs. That Proclamation was treated by the patriots as so much waste paper. In open defiance of it they met at Salem, from whence next day they adjourned to Concord, an inland town still further removed from the
* See Parl. Hist. vol. xvii. p. 1367, &c. Thus, for instance, in the examination of General Carleton who had commanded in the province:
“ Mr. Mackworth. Did you find the Canadians disapprove the “ Trial by Jury ? (in civil cases.)
“ General Carleton. Very much. They have often said to me " that they thought it very extraordinary that English gentlem en " should think their property safer in the determination of tailors,
shoemakers, mixed with people in trade, than in that of the Judges. “ Lord North. Did they express wishes of having an Assembly?
“ General Carleton. Much the contrary. In the conversations I “ have had with them they have all said that when they found what
disputes the other Colonies had with the Crown upon account of “ Assemblies they would much rather be without them.” VOL. VI.
Governor's control. There they voted themselves a provincial Congress, and began to administer the affairs of the Colony as though they had been legally convened. They entrusted the principal power to a select body of their own Members to be called the “ Committee of
Safety,” a precedent afterwards followed both by other Colonies and by the Congress, and at a later period by the COMITÉS DU SALUT PUBLIC in France.* Above all they drew up a plan for their defence; they provided ammunition and stores for twelve thousand Militia ; they appointed as chiefs Artemas Ward and Jedediah Preble, who had seen some service in the late Canadian war; and they enrolled a great number of selected Militia or MINUTE-MEN, so called from their engagement which was to appear in arms at a minute's warning. - To guard against such projects a Royal Proclamation was issued in England forbidding the export of arms and ammunition to the Colonies. The news of that Proclamation added fuel to the flame. Several riots ensued, which, though not serious, were significant. In Rhode Island the people seized a train of artillery belonging to the Crown. In New Hampshire they surprised a small fort, named William and Mary, garrisoned only by an officer and five men.
While thus each packet-ship which in succession reached England from America brought gloomier and gloomier tidings to the friends of peace, the English people were involved in the turmoil and conflict of a General Election. The Parliament now approaching its Septennial period was dissolved by Proclamation on the 30th of September. Several seats continued to be bought and sold ; thus earlier in the year the estate of Gatton comprising the nomination of two Members for that borough had been disposed of for 75,0001.† But upon the whole we hear much less of venality at this General Election than in the preceding one.
In most of the populous places where the public feeling could be shown it
* On the appointment and powers of this first “ Committee of Safety" see the American Archives, vol. i. p. 843.
† Annual Register, 1774, p. 81. I have heard it said that in 1830 the late Lord Monson paid 180,0001. for the same estate.
was shown clearly and beyond dispute on the side of Ministers. Thus in Westminster Burke who desired to stand could meet with no encouragement.* Two gentlemen who did stand - Lord Mahon as the kinsman of Chatham, and Humphrey Cotes as the friend of Wilkes were utterly defeated by the Court candidates, Lord Thomas Clinton and Lord Percy. The common sentiment was that the Government during the last few years had been justly provoked by the misconduct of Massachusetts and the other' New England provinces,
that conciliation had been tried and had failed, that at all hazards the refractory and rebellious spirit of that country must be quelled. Such at this period were the feelings of the people; such also were the feelings of the King. In such feelings, as in the contrary feelings of America, there was no doubt a foundation of truth. But unhappily the two nations on the opposite shores of the Atlantic, like the two Knights in the old legend, would look only to the colour on their own side of the shield.
The result of these Elections therefore was not only to confirm but to increase the general majority of Ministers. Not of course that their opponents were everywhere alike defeated. At Bristol after a severe contest Burke was triumphantly returned. In Middlesex no competitor ventured even to appear against Wilkes and Glynn. In London the City men were keen as ever on the side of Opposition. Already a year before had they shown their tendency by selecting for their Sheriffs two natives of America, Sayre and William Lee.f They now chose for their Members four thorough-going adversaries to Lord North; and further still, at this same period nominated Wilkes as their Lord Mayor.
* Observe his angry expressions in writing to Lord Rockingham ; (Correspondence, vol. i. p. 471_477.) The rumour which he heard through Dr. Morris that “ a Spanish nobleman has left Lord Mahon
50,000l.” was a mere (may I not add an Electioneering ?) fable.
† In 1775 Stephen Sayre was committed to the Tower on a charge of High Treason. He had many other adventures, some at Berlin and St. Petersburg; (see the Malmesbury Papers, vol. i. p. 328.) returned to America, where he became an active opponent of General Washington's administration; and survived till 1820. Note to the Reed Correspondence, vol. i. p. 27