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advantage of it. The sub-committee thanked me for my care over the liberties of their fellow citizens, and owned the necessity of taking up government. Sears, Smith, &c. were strongly of that opinion, and all went home perfectly satisfied, and without suspecting the conversation was any thing more than accidental. The next day Greene and I were ordered to the jail to see some prisoners of war. There I found some persons in for robbery, and one for murder. As I found I had good success in the beginning I determined to keep on, and frequently took occasion to mention the great difficulty which must attend their present state-that it would be tyrannical to execute those persons without a trial to try and execute them, by process in the name of a king, with whom we were at war, would be absurd ; and if neither of these methods were taken, they must whether guilty or not suffer perpetual imprisonment. The argument took effect; and even tories themselves acknowledged it was best to take up government, till reconciliation should take place.This doctrine pleased me well; for I knew if government was once assumed upon whatever motives, they would find that the Rubicon was passed, and that they could never return to their ancient form. I then, by the advice of my privy council, drew up a piece purporting a petition to the committee of safety, to request leave from the continental congress to take up government.This piece I enclose you, and though badly wrote, it steers so directly between whiggism and toryism, that no person can tell whether it was drawn by a whig or tory. My privy council informed me, that it had the desired effect; the whigs were fond of it because it took effect, their point was carried, and no retreat could ever take place; the tories were fond of it, because it held up the d-d reconciliation they were seeking after. ing well informed of my success, I thought it time to sound our colonel (thought to be M'Dougall.) I sent for him. We conversed freely upon the matter of taking up government. He owned the necessity of it, and said it would be carried into execution at all events, at the meeting of their convention. He informed me, that almost every person began to see the necessity, and that the instructions, then drawing up for their delegates, mentioned nothing about effecting a reconciliation, but to protect and defend America. When I found him in the true way to happiness, I dismissed him, and attacked others; -to tories I painted the evils attending their present state; to whigs I held up the advantage of seizing the precious moment, I soon found my party increase with surprising rapidity."
Within seven days after this letter was sent to Philadelphia, Congress resolved, [May 10.] "That it be recommended to the
respective assemblies and conventions, of the united colonies, where no government sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs hath been hitherto established, to adopt such government as shall in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in par ticular, and America in general." The following preamble was prepared and agreed to, five days after, "Whereas his Britannic majesty, in conjunction with the lords and commons of Great Britain has, by a late act of parliament, excluded the inhabitants of these united colonies from the protection of his crown; and whereas no answer whatever to the humble petitions of the co lonies for redress of grievancies and reconciliation with Great Britain has been or is likely to be given, but the whole force of that kingdom, aided by foreign mercenaries, is to be exerted for the destruction of the good people of these colonies; and where as it appears absolutely irreconcilable to reason and good con science, for the people of these colonies now to take the oaths and affirmations necessary for the support of any government under the crown of Great-Britain, and it is necessary that the exercise of every kind of authority, under the said crown should be totally suppressed, and all the powers of government exerted under the authority of the people of the colonies, for the preser vation of internal peace, virtue and good order, as well as for the defence of their lives, liberties and properties against the hostile invasions and cruel depredations of their enemies, theres fore resolved." &c. as above.
[May 18 The secret committee was ordered to endeavour to discover the design of the French in assembling so large a fleet and so great a number of troops in the West-Indies, and whe ther they mean to act for or against America. By this it ap pears that the congress have no assurance or certainty of support from France.
Corporal Cruz, the rifleman who was carried to England and discharged by the mayor, is arrived with dispatches from Arthur Lee, esq. containing intelligence of the whole naval and land force intended for the attack of the united colonies, and of the places for which they were destined. He got a passage to Hali fax, from whence he made his escape to Boston; and then went on to head quarters at New-York. Soon after, congress resol ved, [May 23.] That a committee of five be appointed to confer with generals Washington, Gates and Mifflin, upon the most speedy and effectual means for supporting the American cause in Canada. It was the opinion of the generals, that it would be impossible to keep the Indians in a state of neutrality; that they would undoubtedly take an active part, either for or
against the Americans; and that it would be best immediately to engage them on their side, and to use their utmost endeavors to prevent their minds being poisoned by ministerial emissaries. When the committee brought in their report, it was resolved, among other things [May 25.] "That it is highly expedient to engage the Indians in the service of the united colonies."
Upon the first intelligence received at Philadelphia of the troops to be employed against the Americans, a citizen of eminence wrote to his correspondent, "We now know who the commissioners are, and their numbers, viz. Messrs. the Hessians, Brunswickers, Waldeckers, English, Scotch and Irish. This gives the coup de grace to the British and American connection. It has already wrought wonders in this city; conversions have been more rapid than ever under Mr. Whitefield. The Pennsylvania farmer (Dickinson) told me yesterday in the field, that his sentiments were changed; he had been desirous of keeping the door open as long as possible, and was now convinced that nothing was to be expected from our enemies but slavery.”
The detaching of the ten strongest regiments to Canada, made the most strenuous exertions necessary for getting New-York into a proper state of defence. Congress therefore authorised general Washington to direct the building of as many fire rafts, row-gallies, armed boats and floating batteries, as might be judged requisite for the immediate defence of that port and of Hudson's river. They afterward resolved [June 3.] that 13,800 militia be employed to reinforce the army; and that a flying camp be immediately established in the middle colonies, to consist of 10,000 men. They did not overlook Canada; but on the same day agreed that the general should be empowered to employ in that province a number of Indians, not exceeding two thousand, and two days after [June 5.] ordered that the standing com mittee for Indian affairs, do devise ways and means for carrying the same into effect. Within four and twenty hours after, they complimented the earl of Effingham, for the singularly noble part he had acted, by naming one of their frigates now building, the Effingham. The names of the rest are, the Congress, Randolph, Hancock, Washington, Trumbull, Raleigh, Montgomery, Warren, Boston, Virginia, Providence and De
[June 7.] Certain resolutions respecting independency, were -moved and seconded, and the consideration of them referred till the next day. Richard Henry Lee, esq. one of the Virginia delegates, had given notice to congress, that on that day he should move for a declaration of independence; he accordingly made the motion. Various occurrences had contributed to ripen
the colonies for the measure: several of which have been occasionally mentioned: others remain to be noticed. The North Carolinians were at one time violent against a separation from Great-Britain; a delegate in their convention mentioning independence, the cry was--treason--treason; and he was called to order: but they have been wearied out by the proceedings of the British ministry, and the methods pursued and countenanced by governor Martin; so that all regard and fondness for the king and nation of Great-Britain has subsided, and independence has become the word most in use among them They ask, “Is it possible that any colony, after what has passed, can wish for re conciliation? The constant publications, which have appeared and been read with attention, have greatly promoted the spirft of independency: but no one so much as the pamphlet under the signature of Common Sense, written by Mr. Thomas Paine, an Englishman. The stile, manner, and language of the author is singular and captivating. He undertakes to prove the necessity, the advantages, and practicability of independence. That no lurk ing affection for the sovereign may impede it, kings are placed in a light, that tends not only to destroy all attachment to them, but to make them distasteful; their very office is attempted to be rendered odious; from whence the transition to the royal person is easy. Nothing could have been better timed that this performance. In unison with the sentiments and feelings of the people, it has produced most astonishing effects and been received with vast applause; read by almost every American; and recommended as a work replete with truth; and against which none but the partial and prejudiced can form any objections. It has satisfied multitudes, that it is their true interests immediately to cut the Gordian knot by which the American colonies have been bound to Great-Britain, and to open their commerce, as an independent people, to all the nations of the world. It has been greatly instrumental in producing a similarity of sentiment through the continent, upon the subject under the consideration of congress. On the 10th, the business was postponed to the 1st of July; but that no time might be lost, the next day Messrs. Jefferson, John Adams, Franklin, Sherman and R. R. Livingston, were appointed a committee to prepare a declaration of independence. Directly upon which, congress resolved, "That a committee be appointed to prepare and digest the form of a confederation to be entered into between these colonies; and that a committee be appointed to prepare a plan of treaties to be proposed to foreign powers."
Let us pass for a while to other matters.
[June 17.] Congress resolved to send major general Gates into Canada, to take the command of the forces in that province;
but before the latter could reach them, they were at CrownPoint; this however could not be known by congress. They concluded upon authorizing gen. Washington to offer the Indians a reward of a hundred dollars for every commissioned officer, and thirty dollars for every private soldier of the king's troops, that they should take prisoners in the Indian country or on the frontiers of the united colonies. The general's army is surrounded by a great number of secret foes, who, he is persuaded, will stick at nothing to effect their purposes of destroying it. They had laid a deep scheme for doing it, which was prosecuted with the utmost vigilance, but has been happily discovered. The general has full proof as to their intentions against the army; but is not so clear whether there was any thing personal designed against himself. The reliance however, which he has on the protection of an all-wise and beneficent Being, has secured him at least against the fear of it; and will prevent any change in his conduct from taking place through apprehension. Two of the general's guard were concerned; a third, it is said, whom they tempted to join them, made the discovery. Several were taken into custody; and among them the mayor of NewYork, who confessed the bringing of money from governor Tryon to pay for rifles made by a gunsmith now in irons. The mayor, after being twice examined, was remanded to prison, under a proper guard.
This affair produced a change in the politics of New-Jersey, That colony, it was thought, would be among the last to alter its government, whereas it will now be among the first that gets a settled constitution. Nothing more than a bare majority in favor of the alteration, was expected in the provincial congressz but the plot against the general wrought wonders; there were but four dissenting voices. On the 21st, however, before they could know the plot as a body, they proceeded to elect delegates for the continental congress, whom they empowered to join in declaring the united colonies independent of Great Britain. In this election they left out William Livingston, esq. under a strong persuasion that he was not favorable to indepeddency; and chose the Rev. Dr. Witherspoon, the president of the college at Princeton, from a conviction that he would support it with all his abilities.
[June 25.] Gen. Howe arrived at Sandy-Hook in the Greyhound frigate. He soon received from gov. Tryon a full account of the state and disposition of the province, as well as of the strength of the Americans. Gen. Washington's army was small, rather below nine thousand fit for duty. Of this little army, he wrote [June 28.]. at least 2000 are wholly destitute of
The general's letter to me,