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ceeding, he immediately dissolved the Assembly; but before their separation, eighty-nine of the members signed a declaration, in which they declared that "an attack made upon one of our sister colonies to compel submission to arbitrary taxes is an attack made upon all British America, and threatens ruin to the rights of all, unless the united wisdom of the whole be applied." They also instructed the committee of correspondence to propose to similar committees in the other colonies the appointment of delegates to a general congress, to meet annually, in order to watch over the general interests of the whole people.

The opinions of Colonel Washington, if further proof of them than the proceedings of a public body of which he was a member be required, may be learned from a letter written at the time to Bryan Fairfax, who was strongly opposed to violent measures, and anxious that time should be given for the repeal of the obnoxious acts. In the course of the letter, Washington writes:

"As to your political sentiments, I would heartily join you in them, so far as relates to an humble and dutiful petition to the throne, provided there was the most distant hope of success. But have we not tried this already? Have we not addressed the Lords, and remonstrated to the Commons? And to what end? Did they deign to look at our petitions? Does it not appear as clear as the sun in its meridian brightness, that there is a regular, systematic plan formed to fix the right and practice of taxation upon us? Does not the uniform conduct of parliament for some years past confirm this? Do not all the debates, especially those just brought to us, in the House of Commons, on the side of government, expressly declare that America must be taxed in aid of the British funds, and that she has no longer resources within herself? Is there any thing to be expected from petitioning after this? Is not the attack upon the liberty and property of the people of Boston, before restitution of the loss to the India Company was demanded, a plain and selfevident proof of what they are aiming at? Do not the subsequent bills (now I dare say acts) for depriving the Massachusetts Bay of its charter, and for transporting offenders into other colonies or to Great Britain for trial, where it is impossible from the nature of the thing that justice can be obtained, convince us that the administration is determined to stick at nothing to carry its point? Ought we not, then, to put our virtue and fortitude to the severest test?

"With you I think it a folly to attempt more than we can execute, as that will not only bring disgrace upon us, but weaken our cause; yet I think we may do more than is generally believed, in respect

to the non-importation scheme. As to the withholding of our remittances, that is another point, in which I own I have my doubts on several accounts, but principally on that of justice; for I think, while we are accusing others of injustice, we should be just ourselves; and how this can be, whilst we owe a considerable debt, and refuse payment of it to Great Britain, is to me inconceivable. Nothing but the last extremity, I think, can justify it. Whether this is now come is the question."

The conjectures expressed in this letter were speedily realized. An act soon arrived, by which the charter of the province of Massachusetts Bay was nullified, and the appointment of all magistrates and officers of every kind vested in the crown. This act was speedily followed by another, professing to secure the impartial administration of justice in the province, which provided, "That in case any person should be indicted in that province for murder, or any other capital offence, and it should appear by information. given on oath to the governor that the fact was committed in the exercise and aid of magistracy in suppressing riots, and that a fair trial could not be had in the province, he should send the person so indicted to any other colony, or to Great Britain to be tried."

In the mean time the General Assembly of Massachusetts met on the 31st of May, and were immediately adjourned by the governor to meet at Salem on the 7th of June. Having there organized, they proceeded to revive a project formerly proposed by them and lately suggested by the legislature of Virginia. They accordingly declared a general congress of delegates from all the provinces to be highly expedient, and necessary to concert measures for the recovery of the just rights and liberties of Americans, and for the restoration of that union and harmony between Great Britain and the colonies, most ardently desired by all good men." In order to carry out this resolution, a committee of five of the most distinguished patriots of Massachusetts was elected to meet the delegates which might be sent from the other colonies, at Philadelphia, in the month of September. Apprised of their proceedings, General Gage sent his secretary to dissolve the Assembly; but they kept the door of the room, in which they met, locked until these measures were completed.

The effect of the tyranical acts of the British parliament upon the town of Boston, was most calamitous. Silent streets, deserted arsenals, closed warehouses, unemployed workmen and starving families, testified that the spirit of commercial industry had taken its departure. At the same time, the sympathy of their fellow

countrymen contributed materially to mitigate their sufferings, and evinced itself in acts of disinterested patriotism, of which old Rome would have been proud. The Boston port bill, instead of fomenting jealousy and disunion within the province, as had been wished and expected by its originators, produced only a closer union and greater firmness of purpose among the inhabitants. The people of Marblehead offered the use of their harbour to the Boston merchants, together with free store-room in their stores and warehouses, as well as their personal services in lading and unlading goods. The people of Salem, which, by the removal of the seat of government, became the capital of the province, in a memorial presented at the dissolution of the last Assembly, addressed the governor in the following highly honourable and patriotic strain :

"We are deeply afflicted with the sense of our public calamities; but the miseries that are now rapidly hastening on our brethren in the capital of the province greatly excite our commiseration; and we hope your excellency will use your endeavours to prevent a further accumulation of evils on that already sorely distressed people."—"By shutting up the port of Boston some imagine that the course of trade might be turned hither, and to our benefit; but nature, in the formation of our harbour, forbids our becoming rivals in commerce with that ancient mart; and, were it otherwise, we must be dead to every idea of justice, and lost to all feelings of humanity, could we indulge in one thought to seize on wealth, and raise our fortunes on the ruin of our suffering neighbours."

The ancient privilege of holding town-meetings was next attacked, and the governor issued his proclamation, prohibiting, in obedience to act of parliament, the calling of town-meetings after the 1st of August. As soon as this proclamation was issued, an assembly of this kind was called, which adjourned till after the day mentioned, and then met. The governor ordered them to disperse, but he was told that the holding of the meeting was no violation of the act of parliament, which only forbade the calling of town-meetings; and that no such call had been made, a legal meeting, held before the 1st of August, having since adjourned themselves from time to time. At one of these adjourned meetings, "a solemn league and covenant" was adopted by which the signers of the paper bound themselves to suspend all commercial intercourse with Great Britain until the late obnoxious laws were repealed, and the colony of Massachusetts restored to its chartered rights."

The governor next attempted to form the government under the new constitution; but he could find none to act as jurors under the direction of judges appointed by the crown, and very few to accept the offices now in the gift of the king. Finding himself thus involved in difficulties, which daily assumed a more threatening aspect, he began to fortify Boston Neck, and increase the garrison, and he soon had such a force at his command, and was so well entrenched as to commence aggressive and coercive mea


In the midst of the gathering storm, when black clouds seemed. to be fast hiding the heavens, the solemnity of the crisis, and the responsibilities imposed by it were felt by none more than by George Washington. On the 18th of July, 1774, he presided at a general meeting of the freeholders and inhabitants of the County of Fairfax, at which a series of resolutions were passed, which may be considered as imbodying his sentiments at the commencement of the revolutionary contest, as well as the predominant opinions of the province of Virginia. They are chiefly expressive of a determined denial of the right claimed by Great Britain to tax the American colonies, of determination to suspend all commercial intercourse with England until the claim should be abandoned, and with all parties in America who should refuse to enter into a similar agreement. They contain a luminous statement of the constitutional rights of America, and many earnest exhortations to the use of those expedients which should enable the colonies to dispense with the commerce of England, and to consolidate their strength by union. It is remarkable that one of these resolutions condemns the importation of slaves as "a wicked, cruel, and unnatural trade." George Washington and Charles Broadwater were chosen by this meeting to represent the county of Fairfax at the convention which was called to meet at Williamsburg on the 1st day of August.

The Virginia convention appointed Peyton Randolph, Richard Henry Lee, George Washington, Patrick Henry, Richard Bland, Benjamin Harrison, and Edmund Pendleton, to meet the delegates from the other colonies, which were to assemble at Philadelphia in September. In a session of six days, the convention gave instructions to these deputies, and adopted a series of resolutions, which they called an association, similar in tenor and temper to those adopted two weeks before in Fairfax county.

Before noticing the acts of the first continental Congress, it may be important to understand the precise state of Washington's

mind respecting the dispute between the two countries. This is important for two reasons; first, because the sentiments of Washington may be considered as a fair exponent of those of his countrymen at large; and next, because these sentiments have been much misunderstood, in consequence of the circulation of a series of spurious letters bearing his name, and tending to show that he did not enter heartily into the defence of the cause of his country. The statements of these letters were believed by many. They even crept into history, and were, a little before the close of his life, revived against him by his political opponents.

The utter falsehood of these representations will best be shown by three of his letters written about this time. The first was addressed to Bryan, afterwards Lord Fairfax, dated July 20, 1774, and contains the following passages.

"That I differ very widely from you in respect to the mode of obtaining a repeal of the acts so much and so justly complained of, I shall not hesitate to acknowledge; and that this difference in opinion probably proceeds from the different constructions we put upon the conduct and intention of the ministry, may also be true; but as I see nothing, on the one hand, to induce a belief that the parliament would embrace a favourable opportunity of repealing acts, which they go on with great rapidity to pass, in order to enforce their tyrannical system; and, on the other, I observe, or think I observe, that government is pursuing a regular plan at the expense of law and justice to overthrow our constitutional rights and liberties, how can I expect any redress from a measure which has been ineffectually tried already? For, sir, what is it we are contending against? Is it against paying the duty of three pence per pound on tea because burdensome? No, it is the right only that we have all along disputed; and to this end we have already petitioned his majesty in as humble and dutiful a manner as subjects could do. Nay, more, we applied to the House of Lords and House of Commons in their different legislative capacities, setting forth, that, as Englishmen, we could not be deprived of this essential and valuable part of our constitution. If, then, as the fact really is, it is against the right of taxation that we now do, and, as I before said, all along have contended, why should they suppose an exertion of this power would be less obnoxious now than formerly? And what reason have we to believe that they would make a second attempt, whilst the same sentiments fill the breast of every American, if they did not intend to enforce it if possible?

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