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The History of the United States from 1492 to 1910, Volume 1 by Julian Hawthorne

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Williams was killed, but Whiting of Connecticut guarded the retreat.
During the action, a redoubt of logs had been constructed in the camp, and
was strengthened with baggage and wagons. The Americans, with their
fowling-pieces, defended this place for five hours against two hundred
regular French troops, six hundred Canadians, and as many Indians. Johnson
received a scratch early in the engagement, and made it an excuse to
retire; and Lyman assumed direction. Dieskau bravely led the French
regulars, nearly all of whom were killed; he was four times wounded; the
Canadians were intimidated. At length, about half past four in the
afternoon, the French retreated, though the American losses equaled
theirs; a body of them were pursued by Macginnes of New Hampshire and left
their baggage behind them in their haste; but the body of Macginnes also
remained on the field. The credit for this battle, won by Lyman, was given
by the English government to Johnson, who received a baronetcy and a "tip"
of five thousand pounds. It would have been the first step in a series of
successes had not Johnson, instead of following up his victory, timidly
remained in camp, building Fort William Henry; and when winter approached,
he disbanded the New Englanders and retired. The French had taken
advantage of their opportunity to intrench themselves in Ticonderoga,
which was destined to become a name of awe for the colonists. At the same
time that Braddock marched on Fort Duquesne, Shirley had set out with two
thousand men to capture the fort at Niagara, garrisoned by but thirty
ill-armed men; the intention being to form a junction there with the
all-conquering Braddock. The latter's annihilation took all the heart out
of the superserviceable Shirley; he got no further than Oswego, where he
frittered the summer away, and then retreated under a cloud of pretexts.
He and the other royal officials were all this while pleading for a
general fund to be created by Parliament, or in any other manner, so that
a fund there be; and asserting that the frontiers would otherwise be, and
in fact were, defenseless. In the face of such tales the colonies were of
their own motion providing all the necessary supplies for war, and
Franklin had taken personal charge of the northwest border. But the
English ministry saw in these measures only increasing peril from popular
power, and pushed forward a scheme for a military dictatorship. In May,
1756, war was formally declared, and England arbitrarily forbade other
nations to carry French merchandise in their ships. Abercrombie was chosen
general for the prosecution of the campaign in America, and arrived at
Albany, after much dilatoriness, in June. Bradstreet reported that he had
put stores into Oswego for five thousand men; and that the place was
already threatened by the enemy. Still the English delayed. Montcalm
arrived at Quebec to lead the French army, and immediately planned the
capture of Oswego. In August he took an outlying redoubt, and the garrison
of Oswego surrendered just as he was about to open fire upon it. Sixteen
hundred prisoners, over a hundred cannon, stores, boats and money were the
prize; and Montcalm destroyed the fort and returned in triumph. Loudoun
and Abercrombie, with an army of thousands of men, which could have taken
Canada with ease, thought only of keeping out of Montcalm's way, pleading
in excuse that they feared to trust the "provincials"--who had thus far
done all the fighting that had been done, and won all the successes. In
spite of the remonstrances of the civic authorities, the British troops
and officers were billeted upon New York and Philadelphia. Two more
frightened generals were never seen; and the provinces were left open to
the enemy's attack. But the Americans took the war into their own hands.
John Armstrong of Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, crossed the Alleghanies
in September and in a desperate fight destroyed an Indian tribe that had
been massacring along the border, burned their town and blew up their
powder. In January of 1757, Stark, a daring ranger, with seventy men, made
a dash on Lake George, and engaged a party of two hundred and fifty
French. About the same time, at Philadelphia and Boston it was voted to
raise men for the service; a hundred thousand pounds was also voted, but
the proprietors refused to pay their quota, and represented in England
that the Pennsylvanians were obstructing the measures for defense.
Franklin, sent to England to remonstrate, was told that the king was the
legislator of the colonies. All action was paralyzed by the corruption and
cowardice of the royal officials. The pusillanimity of Loudoun, with his
ten thousand men and powerful fleet in Nova Scotia, has been already
mentioned. In July Montcalm, with a mixed force of more than seven
thousand, advanced upon Fort William Henry. Webb, who should have opposed
him, retreated, leaving Monro with five hundred men to hold the fort. He
refused Montcalm's summons to surrender; Webb, who might still have saved
him, refused to do so; he fought until his ammunition was gone and half
his guns burst, and then surrendered upon Montcalm's promise of the honors
of war and an escort out of the country. But the Indians had got rum from
the English stores and passed the night in drunken revelry; in the morning
they set upon the unarmed English as they left the fort, and began to
plunder and tomahawk them. Montcalm and his officers did their utmost to
stop the treacherous outrage; but thirty men were murdered. Montcalm has
been treated leniently by history; he was indeed a brilliant and heroic
soldier, and he had the crowning honor of dying bravely at Quebec; but he
cannot be held blameless in this affair. He had taught the Indians that he
was as one of themselves, had omitted no means of securing their amity;
had danced and sung with them and smiled approvingly on their butcherings
and scalpings; and he had no right to imagine that they would believe him
sincere in his promise to spare the prisoners. It was too late for him to
cry "Kill me, but spare them!" after the massacre had commenced. It was
his duty to have taken measures to render such a thing impossible
beforehand. He had touched pitch, and was denied.

Disgrace and panic reigned among all the English commanders. Webb
whimpered to be allowed to fall back on the Hudson with his six thousand
men; Loudoun cowered in New York with his large army, and could think of
no better way of defending the northwest frontier than by intrenching
himself on Long Island. There was not an Englishman in the Ohio or the St.
Lawrence Basins. Everywhere beyond the narrow strip of the colonies the
French were paramount. In Europe, England's position was almost as
contemptible. Such was the result of the attempt of the aristocracy to
rule England. There was only one man who could save England, and he was an
old man, poor, a commoner, and sick almost to death. But in 1757 William
Pitt was called to the English helm, accepted the responsibility, and
steered the country from her darkest to her most brilliant hour. The
campaigns which drove the soldiers of Louis XV. out of America were the
first chapter of the movement which ended in the expulsion of the British
from the territory of the United States. Catholicism and Protestantism
were arrayed against each other for the last time. Pitt was the man of the
people; his ambition, though generous, was as great as his abilities; the
colonies knew him as their friend. "I can save this country, and nobody
else can," he said; and bent his final energies to making England the
foremost nation in the world, and the most respected. The faith of Rome
allied France with Austria; and Prussia, with Frederic the Great, standing
as the sole bulwark of Protestantism on the Continent, was inevitably
drawn toward England.

With one movement of his all-powerful hand, Pitt reversed the oppressive
and suicidal policy of the colonial administration. Loudoun was recalled;
his excuses were vain. Amherst and Wolfe were sent out. The colonies were
told that no compulsion should be put upon them; they were expected to
levy, clothe and pay their men, but the government would repay their
outlay. Instantly they responded, and their contributions exceeded all
anticipation. Massachusetts taxed herself thirteen and fourpence in the
pound. Provincial officers not above colonel ranked with the British, and
a new spirit animated all. On the other hand, Canada suffered from famine,
and Montcalm foresaw eventual defeat. Amherst and Wolfe, with ten thousand
men, captured Louisburg and destroyed the fortifications. At the same
time, a great army was collected against Ticonderoga. Nine thousand
provincials, with Stark, Israel Putnam, and six hundred New England
rangers, camped side by side with over six thousand troops of the British
regulars under Abercrombie and Lord Howe. The French under Montcalm had
erected Fort Carillon on the outlet from Lake George to Champlain,
approachable only from the northwest. It was here that he planned his
defense. The English disembarked on the west side of the lake, protected
by Point Howe. In marching round the bend they came upon a French party of
three hundred and defeated them, Howe falling in the first attack.
Montcalm was behind intrenchments with thirty-six hundred men; Abercrombie
rashly gave orders to carry the works by storm without waiting for cannon,
but was careful to remain far in the rear during the action. The attack
was most gallantly and persistently delivered; nearly two thousand men,
mostly regulars, were killed; and, at the end of the murderous day,
Montcalm remained master of the field. Abercrombie still had four times as
many men as Montcalm, and with his artillery could easily have carried the
works and captured Ticonderoga; but he was by this time "distilled almost
to a jelly by the act of fear" and fled headlong at once. Montcalm had not
yet met his match.

Bradstreet, however, with seven hundred Massachusetts men and eleven
hundred New Yorkers, crossed Lake Ontario and took Port Frontenac, the
garrison fleeing at their approach. Amherst, on hearing of Abercrombie's
cowardice, embarked for Boston with over four thousand men, marched thence
to Albany and on to the camp; Abercrombie was sent to England, and Amherst
took his place as chief. The capture of Fort Duquesne was the first thing
planned. Over forty-five hundred men were raised in South Carolina,
Pennsylvania and Virginia; Joseph Forbes commanded them as
brigadier-general; Washington led the Virginians; John Armstrong and the
boy, Anthony Wayne, were with the Pennsylvanians. Washington, who had clad
part of his men in Indian deerskins, wanted to follow Braddock's line of
march; but Forbes, who had not long to live, though his brain remained
clear, preferred to build a road by which ready communication with
Philadelphia could be kept up. Washington got news that the Fort had but
eight hundred defenders, and a strong reconnaissance was sent forward,
without his knowledge, under Major Grant, who, thinking he had the French
at advantage, exposed himself and was defeated with a loss of three
hundred. The remaining five hundred reached camp in good order, thanks to
the discipline which had been given them by Washington. Forbes had decided
to advance no further that season--it was then November; but Washington
had information which caused him to gain permission to advance with
twenty-five hundred provincials, and he occupied intrenchments near
Duquesne. Nine days later the rest of the army arrived; and the garrison
of the Fort set fire to it at night and fled. The place was entered by the
troops, Armstrong raised the British flag, and at Forbes' suggestion it
was rechristened Pittsburgh. And there, above the confluence of the two
rivers, the city named after the Great Commoner stands to-day. A vast and
fertile country was thenceforward opened to the east. After burying the
bleaching bones of the men killed under Braddock, a garrison was left on
the spot, and the rest of the army returned.

Washington, who had seen five years' arduous service, resigned his
commission, and after receiving cordial honors from his fellow officers
and the Virginia legislature, married the widow, Martha Custis, and
settled down as a planter in Mount Vernon. He was a delegate to the
Virginia House of Burgesses and to the Continental Congresses of 1774 and
1775; but it was not until the latter year that he reappeared as a
soldier, accepting the command of the Continental forces on the 15th of
June, not against the French, but against the English.

In 1759 the genius and spirit of Pitt began to be fully felt. The English
were triumphant in Europe, and a comprehensive plan for the conquest of
Canada was intrusted for the first time to men capable of carrying it out.
Thousands of men were enlisted and paid for by the colonies north of
Maryland. Stanwix, Amherst, Prideaux and Wolfe were the chiefs in command.
Fifty thousand English and provincial troops were opposed by not more than
an eighth as many half-starved Frenchmen and Canadians. Montcalm had no
illusions; he told the French Minister of War that, barring extraordinary
accidents, Canada's hour had come; but he "was resolved to find his grave
under the ruins of the colony." And young General Wolfe had said, on being
given the department of the St. Lawrence, "I feel called upon to justify
the notice taken of me by such exertions and exposure of myself as will
probably lead to my fall." The premonitions of both these valiant soldiers
were fulfilled. Wolfe was at this time thirty-two years of age, and had
spent half his life in the army. The Marquis de Montcalm was forty-seven
when he fell on the Plains of Abraham. Neither general had been defeated
up to the moment they faced each other; neither could succumb to any less
worthy adversary.

But the first objective point was not Quebec, but Fort Niagara, which,
standing between Erie and Ontario, commanded the fur trade of the country
to the west. Prideaux, with an adequate force of English, Americans and
Indians, invested the place in July, D'Aubry, the French commander,
bringing up twelve hundred men to relieve it. Just before the action,
Prideaux was killed by the bursting of a mountain howitzer, but Sir
William Johnson was at hand to take his place. On the 24th the battle took
place; the French were flanked by the English Indians, and charged by the
English; they broke and fled, and the Fort surrendered next day. Stanwix
had meanwhile taken possession of all the French posts between Pittsburgh
and Erie. The English had got their enemy on the run all along the line.
Gage was the only English officer to disgrace himself in this campaign; he
squirmed out of compliance with Amherst's order to occupy the passes of
Ogdensburgh. Amherst, with artillery and eleven thousand men, advanced on
the hitherto invincible Ticonderoga. The French knew they were beaten, and
therefore, instead of fighting, abandoned the famous stronghold and Crown
Point, and retreated down to Isle aux Nois, whither Amherst should have
followed them. Instead of doing so, he took to building and repairing
fortifications--the last infirmity of military minds of a certain order
--and finally went into winter quarters with nothing further done.
Amherst, at the end of the war, received the routine rewards of a
well-meaning and not defeated commander-in-chief; but it was Wolfe who won

He collected his force of eight thousand men, including two battalions of
"Royal Americans," at Louisburg; among his ship captains was Cook the
explorer; Lieutenant-colonel Howe commanded a body of light infantry.
Before the end of June the army stepped ashore on the island that fills
the channel of the St. Lawrence below Quebec, called the Isle of Orleans.
Montcalm's camp was between them and the tall acclivity on which stood the
famous fortress, which had defied capture for a hundred and thirty years.
The French outnumbered the English, but neither the physical condition nor
the morale of their troops was good. That beetling cliff was the ally on
which Montcalm most depended. All the landing-places up stream for nine
miles had been fortified: the small river St. Charles covered with its
sedgy marshes the approach on the north and east, while on the west
another stream, the Montmorenci, rising nearly at the same place as the
St. Charles, falls in cataracts into the St. Lawrence nine miles above the
citadel. All these natural features had been improved by military art.
High up, north and west of the city, spread the broad Plains of Abraham.

Wolfe's fleet commanded the river and the south shore. Point Levi, on
this shore, opposite Quebec, was fortified by the English, and siege guns
were mounted there, the channel being but a mile wide; the lower town
could be reached by the red-hot balls, but not the lofty citadel. After
personally examining the region during the greater part of July, Wolfe
decided on a double attack; one party to ford the Montmorenci, which was
practicable at a certain hour of the tide, and the other to cross over in
boats from Point Levi. But the boats grounded on some rocks in the
channel; and Wolfe was repulsed at the Montmorenci. Four hundred men were
lost. An expedition was now sent up stream to open communication with
Amherst; but though it was learned that Niagara, Crown Point and
Ticonderoga had fallen, Amherst did not appear. Wolfe must do his work
alone; the entire population of the country was against him, and the
strongest natural fortification in the world. His eager anxiety threw him
into a fever. "My constitution is entirely ruined, without the consolation
of having done any considerable service to the state, and without any
prospect of it," was what he wrote to the English government. Four days
afterward he was dying victorious on the Plains of Abraham.

The early Canadian winter would soon be at hand. The impossible must be
done, and at once. Wolfe, after several desperate proposals of his had
been rejected by the council of war, made a feint in force up the river,
in the hope of getting Montcalm where he could fight him. He scrutinized
the precipitous north shore as with a magnifying glass. At last, on the
11th of September, the hope that had so long been burning within him was
gratified. But what a hope! A headlong goat-track cleft its zigzag way up
the awful steep, and emerged at last upon the dizzy and breathless height
above. Two men could scarce climb abreast in it; and even this was
defended by fortifications, and at the summit, against the sky, tents
could be seen. Yet this was the only way to victory: only by this
heartbreaking path could England drive France from the western continent,
and give a mighty nation to the world. Wolfe saw, and was content; where
one man could go, thousands might follow. And he perceived that the very
difficulty of the enterprise was the best assurance of its success. The
place was defended indeed, but not strongly. Montcalm knew what daring
could accomplish, but even he had not dreamed of daring such as this.
Wolfe, with a great soul kindled into flame by the resolve to achieve a
feat almost beyond mortal limitations, dared it, and prevailed.

Till the hour of action, he kept his troops far up the stream. By the
13th, all preparations were made. Night came on, calm, like the heart of
the hero who knows that the culminating moment of his destiny has arrived.
At such a crisis, the mortal part of the man is transfigured by the
towering spirit, and his eyes pierce through the veils of things. His life
lies beneath him, and he contemplates its vicissitudes with the high
tranquillity of an immortal freedom. What is death to him who has already
triumphed over the fetters of the flesh, and tasted the drink of
immortality? He is the trustee of the purpose of God; and the guerdon his
deed deserves can be nothing less noble than to die.

It was at one in the morning that the adventure was begun. Silently the
boats moved down the stream, the dark ships following in silence.
Thousands of brave hearts beat with heroic resolve beneath the eternal
stars. The shadowy cove was gained; Wolfe's foot has touched the shore; as
the armed figures follow and gather at the foot of the ascent, no words
are spoken, but what an eloquence in those faces! Upward they climb, afire
with zeal; Howe has won a battery; upward! the picket on the height, too
late aroused from sleep by the stern miracle, is overpowered. With panting
lungs man after man tops the ascent and sees the darkling plain and forms
in line with his comrades, while still the stream winds up endlessly from
the depths below. The earth is giving birth to an army. Coiling upward,
deploying, ranging out, rank after rank they are extended along the front
of the forest, with Quebec before them. No drum has beat; no bugle has
spoken; but Wolfe is there, his spirit is in five thousand breasts, and
there needs no trumpet for the battle.

As the last of the army formed upon the rugged field, dawn broke upon the
east, and soon the early sunshine sparkled on their weapons and glowed
along the ranks of English red. Meanwhile Montcalm had been apprised; his
first instinct of incredulity had been swept away by the inevitable truth,
and he manned himself for the struggle. Often had he conquered against
odds; but now his spirit must bow before a spirit stronger than his, as
Antony's before Augustus. And what had he to oppose against the seasoned
veterans of the English army, thrice armed in the consciousness of their
unparalleled achievement?--Five weak and astounded battalions, and a horde
of inchoate peasants. But Montcalm did not falter; by ten he had taken up
his position, and by eleven, after some ineffectual cannonading, to allow
time for the arrival of re-enforcements which came not, he led the charge.
The attack was disordered by the uneven ground, the fences and the
ravines; and it was broken by the granite front of the English
(three-fourths of them Americans) and their long-reserved and withering
fire. The undisciplined Canadians flinched from that certain death; and
Wolfe, advancing on them with his grenadiers, saw them melt away before
the cold steel could reach them. The two leaders faced each other, both
equally undaunted and alert; it was like a duel between them; no opening
was missed, no chance neglected. The smoke hung in the still air of
morning; the long lines of men swayed and undulated beneath it obscurely,
and the roar of musketry dinned terribly in the ear, here slackening for a
moment, there breaking forth in volleying thunders; and men were dropping
everywhere; there were shoutings from the captains, the fierce crash of
cheers, yells of triumph or agony, and the faint groans of the wounded
unto death. Wolfe was hit, but he did not heed it; Montcalm has received a
musket ball, but he cannot yet die. The English battle does not yield; it
advances, the light of victory is upon it. Backward stagger the French;
Montcalm strives to check the fatal movement, but the flying death has
torn its way through his body, and he can no more. Wolfe, even as the day
was won, got his death wound in the breast, but "Support me--don't let my
brave fellows see me drop," he gasped out. His thoughts were with his
army; let the retreat of the enemy be cut off; and he died with a happy
will, and with God's name on his lips. Montcalm lingered, suggesting means
by which to retrieve the day; but the power of France died with him.
Quebec was lost and won; and human history was turned into a new channel,
and no longer flowing through the caverns of mediaeval error, rolled its
current toward the sunlight of liberty and progress. "The more a man is
versed in business, the more he finds the hand of Providence everywhere,"
was the reply of William Pitt, when Parliament congratulated him on the
victory. He had wrought his plans with wisdom and zeal; but "except the
Lord build the city, they labor in vain who build it." There have been
great statesmen and brave soldiers, before Pitt and Wolfe, and since; but
there could be only one fall of Quebec, with all which that implied.

The following spring and summer were overshadowed by an unrighteous war
against the Cherokees, precipitated by the royalist governor of Virginia,
Lyttleton. An attempt by the French under Levi to recapture Quebec failed,
in spite of the folly of the English commander, Murray; Pitt had foreseen
the effort, and destroyed it with an English fleet. Amherst, in his own
tortoise-like way, advanced and took possession of Montreal; and by
permission of the Indian, Pontiac, who regarded himself as lord of the
country, the English flag was carried to the outposts. Canada had
surrendered; in the terms imposed, property and the religious faith of the
people were respected; but nothing was promised them in the way of civil
liberty. In discussing the European peace that was now looked for,
question was raised whether to restore Canada, or the West Indian island
of Guadaloupe, to France. Some, who feared that the retention of Canada
would too much incline the colonies to independence, favored its return.
But Franklin said that Canada would be a source of strength to England.
The expense of defending that vast frontier would be saved; the rapidly
increasing population would absorb English manufactures without limit, and
their necessary devotion to farming would diminish their competition as
manufacturers. He pointed out that their differences in governments and
mutual jealousies made their united action against England unthinkable,
"unless you grossly abuse them."--"Very true: that, I see, will happen,"
returned the English lawyer Pratt, afterward Lord Cam den, the
attorney-general. But Pitt would not listen to Canada's being given up;
he was for England, not for any English clique. On the other hand, one
of those cliques was preparing to carry out the long meditated taxation of
the colonies; and the sudden death of George II., bringing his son to the
throne, favored their purpose; for the Third George had character and
energy, and not a little intelligence for a king; and he was soon seen to
intend the re-establishment of the royal prerogative in all its integrity.
As a preliminary step to this end, he accepted Pitt's resignation in
October, 1761.

Much to the displeasure of Massachusetts, Thomas Hutchinson, already
Judge of Probate, was by Governor Bernard appointed to the Chief
Justiceship of the colony; the royalist direction of his sympathies was
known. In February, 1761, he heard argument in court as to whether revenue
officers had power to call in executive assistance to enforce the acts of
trade. The crown lawyer argued that to refuse it was to deny the
sovereignty of the English Parliament in the colonies. Then James Otis
arose, and made a protest which tingled through the whole colony, and was
the first direct blow aimed against English domination. Power such as was
asked for, he said, had already cost one king of England his head and
another his throne. Writs of assistance were open to intolerable abuse;
were the instrument of arbitrary power and destructive of the fundamental
principles of law. Reason and the constitution were against them. "No act
of Parliament can establish such a writ: an act of Parliament against the
constitution is void!" These words were the seed of revolution. Hutchinson
was frightened, but succeeded in persuading his colleagues to postpone
decision until he had written to England. The English instruction was to
enforce the law, and the judges acted accordingly; but the people replied
by electing Otis to the assembly; and Hutchinson was more distrusted than
ever. At the same time, in Virginia, Richard Henry Lee denounced the slave
trade; the legislature indorsed his plea, but England denied it. South
Carolina was alienated by the same decree, and also by an unpopular war
against the Cherokees. In New York, the appointment of a judge "during the
king's pleasure" roused the assembly; but the result of their remonstrance
was that all colonial governors were instructed from England to grant no
judicial commissions but during the king's pleasure. This was to make the
Bench the instrument of the Prerogative. A judge acted on questions of
property, without a jury, on information furnished by crown officers, and
derived emoluments from his own award of forfeitures; and the governor
would favor large seizures because he got one-third of the spoils. All the
assemblies could do, for the present, was to reduce salaries; but that did
not make the offenders any less avaricious. Moreover, the king began the
practice of paying them in spite of the assemblies, and reproved the
latter for "not being animated by a sense of their duty to their king and

James Otis continued to be the voice of the colonies. "Kings were made
for the good of the people, not the people for them. By the laws of God
and nature, government must not raise taxes on the property of the people
without the consent of the people. To tax without the assembly's consent
was the same in principle as for the king and the House of Lords to usurp
legislative authority in England." For the utterance of these sentiments
he was honored by the hearty support of the people, and still more by the
denunciations of men of the Hutchinson sort. The ministers were not silent
on the popular side. "May Heaven blast the designs, though not the soul,"
said Mayhew, with Christian discrimination, "of whoever he be among us who
shall have the hardiness to attack the people's rights!" King George's
answer, as soon as he had concluded the peace with France and Spain, in
1763, was to take measures to terrorize the colonists by sending out an
army of twenty battalions to be kept permanently in America, the expenses
of which the colonists were to pay. But by enforcing the acts of trade,
England had now made herself the enemy of the whole civilized world, and
the American colonies would not be without allies in the struggle that was
drawing near.

While these matters were in agitation among the white people, the Indians
in the north were discovering grievances of their own. Pontiac, an Ottawa
chief, and by his personal abilities the natural leader of many tribes,
was the instigator and center of the revolt. The English masters of Canada
had showed themselves less congenial to the red men than the French had
done; they could not understand that savages had any rights which they
were bound to respect; while Pontiac conceived that no white man could
live in the wilderness without his permission. Upon this issue, trouble
was inevitable; and Pontiac planned a general movement of all the Indians
in the north against the colonists. The success of the scheme could of
course be only momentary; that it attained the dignity of a "war" was due
to the influence and energy of the Indian general. His design was of broad
scope, embracing a simultaneous attack on all the English frontier forts;
a wide coalition of tribes was effected; and though their tactics were not
essentially different from those heretofore employed by savages, yet their
possession of arms, their skill in their use, and their numbers, made
their onslaughts formidable. On several occasions they effected their
entry into the forts by stratagem: a tale of misery told by a squaw; a
ball in a game struck toward the door of the stronghold; professedly
amicable conferences suddenly becoming massacres; such were the naive yet
successful ruses employed. Many lives were lost, and the border lands were
laid waste and panicstricken; but it was impossible for the Indians to
hold together, and their victories hastened their undoing. No general
engagement, of course, was fought, but Pontiac's authority gradually
abated, and he was finally compelled to go into retirement. His Conspiracy
has its picturesque side, but it is not organically related to our
history; it was merely a fresh expression of the familiar fact that there
could be no sincere friendship between the white and the red. The former
could live with the latter if they would live like them; but no attempt to
reverse the case could succeed. The solemnity with which the practice of
signing treaties of peace with the Indians has uniformly been kept up is
one of the curious features of our colonial annals, and indeed of later
times. Indians will keep the peace without treaties, if they are kindly
used and given liberty to do as they please; but no engagement is binding
on them after they deem themselves wronged. They are pleased by the
formalities, the speeches, and the gifts that accompany such conferences;
they like to exchange compliments, and to play with belts of wampum; and
it is possible that when they make their promises, they think they will
keep them. They can understand the advantages of trade, and will make some
sacrifice of their pride or convenience to secure them. But the mind is
never dominant in them; the tides of passion flood it, and their wild
nature carries them away. It may be surmised that we should have had fewer
Indian troubles, had we never entered into any treaty with them. But
thousands of treaties have been made, and broken, sometimes by one side,
sometimes by the other, but always by one of the two. And then,
punishments must be administered; but if punishment is for improvement, it
has been as ineffective as the treaties. The only rational thing to do
with an Indian is to kill him; and yet it may fairly be doubted whether
complete moral justification could be shown for the killing of any Indian
since Columbus landed at San Salvador.--As for Pontiac, a keg of liquor
was inducement sufficient to one of his own race to murder him, five years
after the failure of his revolt.

Toward the end of September, Jenkinson, Secretary of the Treasury in
England, presented the draft for an American stamp-tax--the true
authorship of which was never disclosed. This tax was the result of the
argument of exclusion applied to the problem, How to raise a permanent and
sufficient revenue from the colonies. Foreign and internal commerce taxes
would not serve, because such commerce was forbidden by the Navigation
Acts. A poll-tax would be inequitable to the slaveholders. Land-taxes
could not be collected. Exchequer-bills were against an act of Parliament.
Nothing but a stamp-tax remained, and all persons concerned were in favor
of it, the colonists only excepted. Their opinion was that taxation
without representation was an iniquity. But they did not perhaps consider
that England owed a debt of seven hundred million dollars which must be
provided for somehow; and that the interests of the empire demanded, in
the opinion of those who were at its head, that the colonies be ruled with
a stronger hand than heretofore. George Grenville accepted the
responsibility of the act.

The king gave his consent to the employment of the entire official force
of the colonies to prevent infringements of the Navigation Acts, and the
army and navy were to assist them. There were large emoluments for
seizures, and the right of search was unrestricted, afloat or ashore. In
order to diminish the danger of union between the colonies, a new
distribution, or alteration of boundaries, was adopted, with a view to
increasing their number. But the country between the Alleghanies and the
Mississippi was to be closed to colonization, lest it should prove
impossible to control settlers at such a distance. It proved, of course,
still less possible to prevent emigration thither. But all seemed going
well, and the Grenville ministry was so firmly established that nothing
seemed able to shake it. The fact that a young Virginia lawyer, Patrick
Henry by name, had said in the course of an argument against the claim of
a clergyman for the value of some tobacco, that a king who annuls salutary
laws is a tyrant, and forfeits all right to obedience; and that if
ministers fail to fulfill the uses for which they were ordained, the
community may justly strip them of their appointments--this circumstance
probably did not come to the ears of the British ministry; but it had its
effect in Virginia. Grenville, however, was induced by the appeals of some
influential Americans in London to postpone his tax for a year, so that
the assemblies might have an opportunity to consent to it. By way of
tempting them to do this, he sought for special inducements; he revived
the hemp and flax bounties; he permitted rice to be carried south of
Carolina and Georgia on payment of half subsidy; and he removed the
restrictions on the New England whale fishery. He then informed Parliament
of his purpose of applying the stamp-tax to America, and asked if any
member wished to question the right of Parliament to impose such a tax. In
a full house, not a single person rose to object. The king gave it his
"hearty" approval. It only remained for America humbly and gratefully to
accept it.

First came comments. "If taxes are laid upon us in any shape, without our
having a legal representation where they are laid, are we not reduced from
the character of free subjects to the miserable state of tributary
slaves?" asked Samuel Adams of Boston. "These duties are only the
beginning of evils," said Livingston of New York. "Acts of Parliament
against natural equity are void," Otis affirmed; and in a lucid and cogent
analysis of the principles and ends of government he pointed out that the
best good of the people could be secured only by a supreme legislative and
executive ultimately in the people; but a universal congress being
impracticable, representation was substituted: "but to bring the powers of
all into the hands of one or some few, and to make them hereditary, is the
interested work of the weak and wicked. Nothing but life and liberty are
actually hereditable.... British colonists do not hold their liberties or
their lands by so slippery a tenure as the will of princes; the colonists
are common children of the same Creator with their brethren in Great
Britain.... A time may come when Parliament shall declare every American
charter void; but the natural, inherent rights of the colonists as men and
citizens can never be abolished. The colonists know the blood and treasure
independence would cost. They will never think of it till driven to it as
the last fatal resort against ministerial oppression: but human nature
must and will be rescued from the general slavery that has so long
triumphed over the species." The immediate practical result was, that the
colonists pledged themselves to use nothing of English manufacture, even
to going without lamb to save wool. And even Hutchinson remarked that if
England had paid as much for the support of the wars as had been
voluntarily paid by the colonists, there would have been no great increase
in the national debt.

All this made no impression in England. The dregs of the Canadian
population were a handful of disreputable Protestant ex-officers, traders
and publicans--"the most immoral collection of men I ever knew," as Murray
said--but judges and juries were selected from these gentry, and the
Catholics were disfranchised. In New England, boundaries were rearranged,
and colonists had to buy new titles. New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island,
protested before Parliament against the taxation scheme; Philadelphia at
first petitioned to be delivered from the selfishness of its proprietors
even at the cost of becoming a royal colony; but later, Franklin advised
that they grant supplies to the crown only when required of them "in the
usual constitutional manner." George Wythe, speaking for Virginia,
remonstrated against measures "fitter for exiles driven from their country
after ignominiously forfeiting its favor and protection, than for the
posterity of loyal Britons." Yet there were many royalist Americans who
were urgent that English rule should be strengthened; and the English
Board of Trade declared that the protests of the colonies showed "a most
indecent disrespect to the legislature of Great Britain." The king decreed
that in all military matters in America the orders of the
commander-in-chief there, and under him of the brigadiers, should be
supreme; and only in the absence of these officers might the governors
give the word. This became important on the occasion of the "Boston
Massacre" a few years later. In Parliament, Grenville said that he would
never lend a hand toward forging chains for America, "lest in so doing I
forge them for myself"; but he shuffled out of the American demand not to
be taxed without representation by declaring that Parliament was "the
common council of the whole empire," and added that America was to all
intents and purposes as much represented in Parliament as many Englishmen.
This assertion brought to his feet Barré, the companion of Wolfe at
Quebec. He denied that America was virtually represented, and said that
the House was ignorant of American affairs. Charles Townshend, who posed
as an infallible authority on America, replied that the last war had cost
the colonies little though they had profited much by it; and now these
"American children, planted by our care, nourished up to strength and
opulence by our indulgence, and protected by our arms, grudge to
contribute their mite to relieve us from the heavy burden under which we

Barré could not restrain his indignation. In the course of a fiery
rejoinder he uttered truths that made him the most loved Englishman in
America, when his words were published there. "Your oppressions planted
them in America," he thundered. "They met with pleasure all hardships
compared with those they suffered in their own country. They grew by your
neglect of them: as soon as you began to care for them, deputies of
members of this house were sent to spy out their liberties, to
misrepresent their actions, and to prey upon them; men whose behavior
caused the blood of those Sons of Liberty to recoil within them: men who
were often glad, by going to a foreign country, to escape being brought to
the bar of justice in their own. They 'protected by your arms'?--They
have, amid their constant and laborious industry, nobly taken up arms for
the defense of a country whose frontier was drenched in blood, while its
interior parts yielded all its little savings to your emolument. And
believe me--remember--the same spirit of freedom which actuated that
people at first will accompany them still. They are as truly loyal as any
subjects the king has; but a people jealous of their liberties, and who
will vindicate them, if ever they should be violated." But Grenville had
gone too far to retreat; the case went against America by two hundred and
forty-five to forty-nine; and only Beckford and Conway were on record as
denying the power of Parliament to enact the tax. All petitions from the
colonies were refused. "We have power to tax them, and we will tax them,"
said one of the ministers. In the House of Lords the bill was agreed to
without debate or dissent. The king, at the time of signing the bill, was
suffering from one of his periodic attacks of insanity; but the
ratification was accepted as valid nevertheless. Neither Franklin nor any
of the other American agents imagined the act would be forcibly resisted
in America. Even Otis had said, "We must submit." But they reckoned
without their host. The stamp act was a two-edged sword; in aiming to cut
down the liberties of America, it severed the bonds that tied her to the
mother country.

The prospect before the colonies was truly intolerable. No product of
their industry could be exported save to England; none but English ships
might enter their ports; no wool might be moved from one part of the
country to another; no Bible might be printed anywhere; all hats must come
from England; no ore might be mined or worked; duties were imposed on
almost every imported article of use or luxury. No marriage, promissory
note, or other transaction requiring documentary record was valid except
with the government stamp. In a word, convicts in a jail could hardly be
shackled more severely than were these two millions of the most
freedom-loving and intelligent people on the globe. "If this system were
to prevail," remarked Thacher of Boston, "it would extinguish the flame of
liberty all over the world."

But it was not to prevail. Patrick Henry had been elected to the
legislature of Virginia. His first act was to maintain, in committee of
the whole, that the colony had never given up its right to be governed by
its own laws respecting taxation, and that it had been constantly
recognized by England; and that any attempt to vest such power in other
persons tended to destroy British as well as American freedom. In a
passionate peroration he warned George III. to remember the fate of other
tyrants who had trampled on popular liberties. Otis in Massachusetts
suggested the novel idea of summoning a congress from all the colonies to
deliberate on the situation. In New York a writer declared that while
there was no disposition among the colonies to break with England as long
as they were permitted their full rights, yet they would be "satisfied
with no less."--"The Gospel promises liberty and permits resistance," said
Mayhew. Finally, the dauntless and faithful Christopher Gadsden of South
Carolina, after considering Massachusett's suggestion of a union,
pronounced, as head of the committee, in its favor.

In England, meanwhile, the cause of the colonies had been somewhat
favored by the willfulness of the king, who, in order to bring his court
favorites into power, dismissed the Grenville ministry. There were no
persons of ability in the new cabinet, and vacant feebleness was accounted
better for America than resolute will to oppress. The king himself,
however, never wavered in his resolve that the colonies should be taxed.
On the other hand, the colonies were at this time disposed to think that
the king was friendly to their liberties. But whatever misapprehensions
existed on either side were soon to be finally dispelled.

In August, 1765, the names of the stamp distributers (who were to be
citizens of the colonies) were published in America; and the packages of
stamped paper were dispatched from England. There was an old elm-tree in
Boston, standing near the corner of Essex Street, opposite Boylston
Market. On the morning of the 14th of August, two figures were descried by
early pedestrians hanging from the lower branches of the tree. "They were
dressed in square-skirted coats and small-clothes, and as their wigs hung
down over their faces, they looked like real men. One was intended to
represent the Earl of Bute, who was supposed to have advised the king to
tax America; the other was meant for the effigy of Andrew Oliver, a
gentleman belonging to one of the most respectable families in
Massachusetts, whom the king had appointed to be the distributer of
stamps." It was in vain that Hutchinson ordered the removal of the
effigies; the people had the matter in their own hands. In the evening a
great and orderly crowd marched behind a bier bearing the figures, gave
three cheers for "Liberty, Property and no stamps," before the State
House, where the governor and Hutchinson were in session, and thence went
to the house which Oliver had intended for his stamp office, tore it down,
and burned his image in the fire they kindled with it, in front of his own
residence. "Death to the man who offers stamped paper to sell!" they
shouted. "Beat an alarm!" quavered Hutchinson to the militia colonel.--"My
drummers are in the mob," was the reply; and when Hutchinson attempted to
disperse the crowd, they forced him to run the gantlet, in the Indian
fashion which was too familiar to New Englanders, and caught him several
raps as he ran. "If Oliver had been there he'd have been murdered," said
Governor Bernard, with conviction; "if he doesn't resign--!" But Oliver,
much as he loved the perquisites of the office, loved his life more, and
he resigned before the mob could threaten him. Bernard, with chattering
teeth, was ensconced in the safest room in the castle. There remained
Hutchinson, in his handsome house in Garden Court Street, near the North
Square. Late at night the mob came surging and roaring in that direction.
As they turned into Garden Court Street, the sound of them was as if a
wild beast had broken loose and was howling for its prey. From the window,
the terrified chief-justice beheld "an immense concourse of people,
rolling onward like a tempestuous flood that had swelled beyond its bounds
and would sweep everything before it. He felt, at that moment, that the
wrath of the people was a thousand-fold more terrible than the wrath of a
king. That was a moment when an aristocrat and a loyalist might have
learned how powerless are kings, nobles, and great men, when the low and
humble range themselves against them. Had Hutchinson understood and
remembered this lesson he need not in after years have been an exile from
his native country, nor finally have laid his bones in a distant land."

The mob broke into the house, destroyed the valuable furniture, pictures
and library, and completely gutted it. The act was denounced and
repudiated by the better class of patriots, like Adams and Mayhew; but it
served a good purpose. The voice of the infuriated mob is sometimes the
only one that tyranny can hear. One after another all the colonies refused
to accept the stamp act, and every stamp officer was obliged to resign.
Meanwhile the leaders discussed the people's rights openly. The law was to
go into effect on November 1st. "Will you violate the law of Parliament?"
was asked. "The stamp act is against Magna Charta, and Lord Coke says an
act of Parliament against Magna Charta is for that reason void," was the
reply. "Rulers are attorneys, agents and trustees of the people," said
Adams, "and if the trust is betrayed or wantonly trifled away, the people
have a right to revoke the authority that they themselves have deputed,
and to constitute abler and better agents. We have an indisputable right
to demand our privileges against all the power and authority on earth."
Never had there been such unanimity throughout the colonies; but in New
York, General Gage, who had betrayed lack of courage under Amherst a few
years before, but who was now commander-in-chief, declared he would put
down disaffection with a strong hand. There were ships of war in the
harbor, and the fort in the town mounted heavy guns. Major James of the
artillery was intrusted with the preparations. "I'll cram the stamps down
their throats with the end of my sword: if they attempt to rise I'll drive
them out of town for a pack of rascals, with four and twenty men!" It was
easy to pass a stamp act, and to bring stamped paper into the colonies;
but it would take more than Major James, and Governor Golden, and General
Gage himself to make the people swallow them. The day of the "Sons of
Liberty" was dawning.



Issue was now joined between America and England. They faced each other
--the great, historic figure, and the stripling of a century--and knew
that the limit had been reached. The next move might be irrevocable.

"You must submit to the tax."--"I will not submit."

Englishmen, with some few eminent exceptions, believed that England was
in the right. If the word of Parliament was not law, what was? If the law
it made could be disregarded, what could stand? A colony was a child:
children must be kept in subjection. Colonies were planted for the benefit
and extension of commerce; if they were permitted to conduct their
commerce without regard to the mother country, their reason for existence
was gone. The protection of a colony was expensive: why should not the
protected one bear a part at least of the expense? If the mother country
allowed the colony to fix the amount it should pay, what guarantee could
she have that it would pay anything? Could mighty England assume toward
little America the attitude of a tradesman, humbly standing at the door
with a bill, asking whether it would be convenient to pay something on
account? If there were to be condescension, it should not come from
America. She clamored for justice; England would be just: but she must
first be obeyed. England might forgive the debt, but must insist upon
acknowledgment that the debt was due, and upon the right to collect it at
pleasure. As for the plea that taxation should postulate representation,
it would not bear examination. It might be true that Parliament was a
theoretically representative body; but, in fact, it was a gathering of the
men in England best qualified to govern, who were rather selected than
elected. Many of the commons held their seats by favor of the nobility;
the suffrage, as practiced, was a recognition that the people might have a
voice in the government of the country; but that voice was not to be a
deciding one. It was exercised only by a part of the people, and even
then, largely under advice or influence. Many important towns and
districts had no representatives. Americans were as well off as these
Englishmen; on what ground could they demand to be better off? They must
trust to the will of England to secure their advantage in securing her
own; to her wisdom, equity, and benevolence. Why should they complain of
the Navigation Acts? What more did they want than a market?--and that,
England afforded. Why should they feel aggrieved at the restriction on
their manufactures? England could manufacture articles better than they
could, and it was necessary to the well-being of her manufacturing classes
that they should be free from American competition. Did they object to the
measures England took to prevent smuggling and illicit dealing?--They had
only themselves to blame: was it not notorious that evasions and open
violations of the law had for years existed? Did they object to royal
governors?--What better expedient was there to keep the two countries in
touch with each other--to maintain that "representation" in England which
they craved?--whereas, were they to choose governors from among
themselves, they would soon drift away from sympathy with and
understanding of England. And why all this uproar about the stamp tax?
What easier, more equitable way could be devised to get the financial
tribute required without pressing hard on any one? If Americans would
object to that, they would object to anything; and they must either be
abandoned entirely to their own devices--which of course was out of the
question--or they must be compelled, if they would not do it voluntarily,
to accede to it. Compulsion meant force; force meant a resident English
army; and that army must be supported and accommodated by those for whose
regulation it was established.

Such was the attitude of men like Lord Chief-justice Mansfield, who spoke
on the subject in the House of Lords. He refused to recognize any
essential distinction between external and internal taxes; though, as Pitt
pointed out, the former was designed for the regulation of trade, and
whatever profit arose from it was incidental; while the latter was imposed
to raise revenue for the home government, and was, in effect, arbitrarily
appropriating the property of subjects without their consent asked or
obtained. Pitt disposed of the argument of virtual representation by
denying it point-blank; Americans were not in the same position with those
Englishmen who were not directly represented in Parliament; because the
latter were inhabitants of the kingdom, and could be, and were indirectly
represented in a hundred ways. But while opposing the right of Parliament
to rob America, he asserted in the strongest terms its right to govern
her. "The will of Parliament, properly signified, must forever keep the
colonies dependent upon the sovereign kingdom of Great Britain. If any
idea of renouncing allegiance has existed, it was but a momentary frenzy.
In a good cause, the force of this country can crush America to atoms. But
on this ground of the stamp act, I am one who will lift up my hands
against it. I rejoice that America has resisted. In such a cause, your
success would be hazardous. America, if she fell, would embrace the pillar
of the state, and pull down the constitution along with her."

The Lords passed the bill against a minority of five. In the Commons,
where Burke ardently spoke in favor of the tax, the majority was even
greater. "It was decided that irresponsible taxation was not a tyranny but
a vested right; that Parliament held legislative power, not as a
representative body but in absolute trust: that it was not and had never
been responsible to the people." This was the new Toryism, which was to
create a new opposition. The debate aroused a discussion of popular rights
in England itself, and the press began to advocate genuine representation.
Meanwhile, it looked ill for the colonies. But a law which is only
engrossed on parchment, and is not also founded in natural truth and
justice, has no binding power, even though it be supported by the army and
navy of England. Humanity was on the side of America, and made her small
numbers and physical weakness as strong as all that is good and right in
the world. All appearances to the contrary notwithstanding, there is
nothing real but right. Had America fought only for herself, she would
have failed.

The instances of mob violence in the colonies at this period were not to
be classed with lawless outbreaks in countries which have a government of
their own. The colonies were subjected to a government which they did not
elect or approve; and the management of their affairs consequently
reverted inevitably and rightly to the body of the people themselves. They
had no officers and no organization, but they knew what they wanted; and
having in view the slowness of inter-communication, and the differences in
the ideas and customs of the several colonies, the unanimity of their
action in the present juncture is surprising. When their congress met in
New York on the 7th of October, 1765, their debate was less as to
principles than as to the manner of their declaration and enforcement. The
watchword, "Join or die," had been started in September, and was taken up
all over the country. Union was strength, and on union all were resolved.
The mob had put a stop to the execution of the law; it now rested with the
congress to settle in what way and on what grounds the repeal of the law
should be demanded. Against the people and the congress were arrayed the
royal governors and other officials, and the troops. The former deluged
the home government with exhortations to be firm; the latter waited the
word to act, not without misgivings; for here were two million
inhabitants, a third or fourth part of whom might bear arms.

Should the congress base its liberties on charter rights, or on natural
justice and universal reason?--On the latter, said Gadsden of South
Carolina; and the rest acceded. "I wish," Gadsden had said, "that the
charters may not ensnare us at last by drawing different colonies to act
differently in this great cause. There ought to be no New England man, no
New Yorker, known on the continent, but all Americans." It was a great
truth to be enunciated at that time. There were statesmen less wise in
this country a hundred years later. The Duke of Choiseul, premier of
France, and one of the acutest ministers that ever lived, foresaw the
independence of America, and even so early began to take measures having
in view the attitude of France in that contingency.--In the congress, Otis
advocated repeal, not of the stamp act alone, but of all acts laying a
duty on trade; and it was finally agreed to mention the latter as
grievances. Trial by jury was stipulated for instead of admiralty
jurisdiction; taxes should be imposed only by colonial legislatures,
representation in Parliament being impracticable. One or two of the
delegates feared to sign the document embodying these views and demands;
whereupon Dyer of Connecticut observed that since disunion in these
matters was fatal, the remaining delegates ought to sign them; and this
was done, only Ruggles and Ogden, of Massachusetts and of New Jersey
respectively, declining. By this act the colonies became "a bundle of
sticks which could neither be bent nor broken." At the same time, Samuel
Adams addressed a letter to Governor Bernard of Massachusetts. "To suppose
a right in Parliament to tax subjects without their consent includes the
idea of a despotic power," said he. "The stamp act cancels the very
conditions upon which our ancestors, with toil and blood and at their sole
expense, settled this country. It tends to destroy that mutual confidence
and affection, as well as that equality, which ought to subsist among all
his majesty's subjects: and what is worst of all evils, if his majesty's
subjects are not to be governed according to the known and stated rules of
the constitution, their minds may in time become disaffected."

On the 1st of November, the day when the act was to go into effect,
Colden, governor of New York, "resolved to have the stamps distributed."
The army and navy professed themselves ready to support him. But the
population rose up in a body against it, with Isaac Sears as leader. "If
you fire on us, we'll hang you," they told Colden. Torchlight processions,
with the governor's effigy burned in a bonfire composed of his own
carriages, right under the guns of the fort in which he had taken refuge,
followed. Colden capitulated, and even gave up the stamps into the custody
of the people. Similar scenes were enacted in the other colonies. The
principle of "union and liberty" became daily more deeply rooted. If
England refused to repeal the act, "we will repeal it ourselves," declared
the colonists. John Adams said that the colonies were already discharged
from allegiance, because they were "out of the king's protection"
--protection and allegiance being reciprocal. The Sons of Liberty became a
recognized organization. The press printed an admonition to George III.,
brief but pithy: GREAT SIR, RETREAT, OR YOU ARE RUINED. Otis maintained
that the king, by mismanaging colonial affairs, had practically abdicated,
so far as they were concerned. Israel Putnam, being of an active turn,
rode through Connecticut to count noses, and reported that he could raise
a force of ten thousand men. Meanwhile the routine business of the country
went on with but slight modification, though according to the stamp act
nothing that was done without a stamp was good in law. But it appeared,
upon experiment, that if the law was in the people it could be dispensed
with on paper. And wherever you went, you found a population smilingly
clad in homespun.

Would England repeal the act? The House of Lords voted in favor of
enforcing it, February, 1766. In the Commons, General Howard declared that
if it were passed, rather than imbrue his hands in the blood of his
countrymen, he would sheathe his sword in his own body. The House divided
two to one against the repeal. The king said he was willing to modify, but
not to repeal it. On the 13th Franklin was summoned to the bar. He showed
why the colonies could not and would not pay the tax, and that, unless it
were repealed, their affection for England, and the commerce depending
thereon, would be lost. Would America pay a modified stamp duty?--he was
asked; and bravely replied, "No: never: they will never submit to it." But
could not a military force carry the act into effect?--"They cannot force
a man to take stamps who chooses to do without them," was the answer. He
added that the colonists thought it hard that a body in which they were
not represented should make a merit of giving what was not its own but
theirs. He affirmed a difference between internal and external taxation,
because the former could not be evaded, whereas articles of consumption,
on which the duty formed part of the price, could be dispensed with at
will. "But what if necessaries of life should be taxed?" asked Grenville,
thinking he had Franklin on the hip. But the American sage crushingly
replied, "I do not know a single article imported into the colonies but
what they can either do without it, or make it for themselves."

In the final debates, Pitt, called on to say whether, should total repeal
be granted, in compliance with American menaces of resistance, the
consequence would not be the overthrow of British authority in America,
gave his voice for repeal as a right. Grenville, on the other hand,
thought that America should learn that "prayers are not to be brought to
Caesar through riot and sedition." The vote for repeal, and against
modified enforcement, was two hundred and seventy-five to one hundred and
sixty-seven. The dissenting members of the Lords signed a protest,
because, should they assent to the repeal merely because it had passed the
lower house, "we in effect vote ourselves useless." This suggests the "Je
ne vois pas la nécessité" of the French epigrammatist. The Lords took
themselves too seriously. Meanwhile, Bow bells were rung, Pitt was
cheered, and flags flew; the news was sent to America in fast packets, and
the rejoicing in the colonies was great. Prisoners for debt were set free,
there were illuminations and bonfires, and honor was paid to Pitt, Camden,
Barre, and to the king, who was eating his heart with vexation fit having
been compelled to assent to what he called "the fatal repeal."

The British government, while repealing the law, had yet affirmed its
sovereign authority over the colonies. The colonies, on the other hand,
were inclined to confirm their present advantage and take a step still
further in advance. They would not be taxed without representation; why
should they submit to any legislation whatever without representation?
What right had England to enforce the Navigation Acts? The more the
general situation was contemplated and discussed, the plainer to all did
it appear that union was indispensable. The governors of most of the
colonies were directing a treacherous attack against the charters; but
bold students of the drift of things were foreseeing a time when charters
might be superseded by independence. Patriots everywhere were keenly on
the watch for any symptoms of a design on Parliament's part to raise a
revenue from America. The presence and quartering of English soldiers in
the colonies was regarded as not only a burden, but an insinuation. It was
moreover a constant occasion of disturbance; for there was no love lost
between the people and the soldiers. But, that there was no disposition on
the people's part to pick quarrels or to borrow trouble, was evident from
their voluntarily passing resolutions for the reimbursement of persons,
like Hutchinson, who had suffered loss from the riots. If England would
treat them like reasonable creatures, they were more than willing to meet
her half way. It is probable that but for the royal governors, England and
America might have arrived at an amicable understanding; yet, in the
ultimate interests of both countries, it was better that the evil
counselors of the day should prevail.

Townshend, an able, eloquent, but entirely untrustworthy man, devoted to
affairs, and of insatiable though unprincipled ambition, proposed in
Parliament to formulate a plan to derive a permanent revenue from America.
This Parliament has been described by historians, and is convicted by its
record, as the most corrupt, profligate and unscrupulous in English
annals. William Pitt, who had accepted the title of Lord Chatham, and
entered the House of Lords, was nominally the leader, but his health and
failing faculties left him no real power. Shelburne, Secretary of State,
was moderate and liberal, but no match for Townshend's brilliancy. The
latter's proposal was to suspend the legislature of New York, as a
punishment for the insubordination of the colony and a warning to others;
to support a resident army, and to pay salaries to governors, judges and
other crown officers, out of the revenue from America; to establish
commissioners of the customs in the country; to legalize general writs of
assistance; to permit no native-born American to hold office under the
crown; and to make the revenue derivable from specified taxes on imports.
The tax on tea was among those particularly mentioned. This was the scheme
which was to be substituted for the repealed stamp tax; the colonies had
objected to that as internal; this was external, and, though Townshend had
refused to admit any difference between the two, he now employed it as a
means of bringing the colonies to terms. The measure was received with
acclaim by Parliament, though it was contrary to the real sentiment of the
English nation. The king was charmed with it. Townshend died soon after it
was passed, at the age of forty-one; and the king called on Lord North to
take his place; a man of infirm will, but able, well-informed and
clear-minded, with a settled predisposition against the cause of the
people. He was as good an enemy of America as Grenville himself, though a
less ill-natured one.

But, viewing this period broadly, it is manifest that the finest brains
and best hearts, both in England and America, were friends to the cause of
liberty. America, certainly, at this critical epoch in her career,
produced a remarkable band of statesmen and patriots, perfectly fitted to
the parts they had to play. The two Adamses, Gadsden, Franklin, Otis,
Patrick Henry, Livingstone of New York, John Hancock, the wealthy and
splendid Boston merchant, Hawley of Connecticut, and Washington,
meditating upon the liberties of his country in the retirement of Mount
Vernon, and unconsciously preparing himself to lead her armies through the
Revolution--there has never been a company of better men active at one
time in any country. Just at this juncture, too, there arose in Delaware a
prophet by the name of John Dickinson, who wrote under the title of The
Farmer, and who formulated an argument against the new revenue law which
caught the attention of all the colonies. England, he pointed out,
prohibits American manufactures; she now lays duties on importations, for
the purpose of revenue only. Americans were taking steps to establish a
league to abstain from purchasing any articles brought from England,
intending thus to defeat the operation of the act without breaking the
law. This might answer in the case of luxuries, or of things which could
be made at home. But what if England were to meet this move by laying a
duty on some necessary of life, and then forbid Americans to manufacture
it at home? Obviously, they would then be constrained to buy it, paying
the duty, and thus surrendering their freedom. From this point of view it
would not be enough to evade the tax; it must be repealed, or resisted;
and resistance meant war.

Unless, however, some action of an official character were taken, binding
the colonies to co-operation, it was evident that the law would gradually
go into effect. The Massachusetts assembly, early in 1768, sent to its
London agent a letter, composed by Samuel Adams, embodying their formal
protest to the articles of the revenue act and its corollaries. At the
same time, they sent copies of the statement to the other colonial
assemblies in the country, accompanied with the suggestion that all unite
in discontinuing the use of British imported manufactures and other
articles. The crown officers, for their part, renewed their appeal to
England for naval and military forces to compel obedience and secure order.

The king and the government inclined to think that force was the remedy
in this case. It was in vain that the more magnanimous called attention to
the fact that an army and navy could not compel a man to buy a black
broadcloth coat, if he liked a homespun one better. Inflammatory reports
from America represented it as being practically in a state of
insurrection. A Boston newspaper, which had published a severe arraignment
of Governor Bernard, was tried for libel, and the jury, though informed by
Hutchinson that if they did not convict of high treason they "might depend
on being damned," brought in a verdict of acquittal. The Adams letter was
laid before the English ministry and pronounced to be "of a most dangerous
and factious tendency," and an injunction was dispatched to the several
colonial governors to bid their assemblies to treat it with contempt, and
if they declined, to dissolve them. Gage was ordered to enforce
tranquillity. But the colonial resistance had thus far been passive only.
The assemblies now declared that they had exclusive right to tax the
people; Virginia not only agreed to the Adams letter, but indited one even
more uncompromising; Pennsylvania and New York fell into line. A Boston
committee presented an address to Bernard asking him to mediate between
the people and England; he promised to do so, but at the same time sent
out secret requests to have regiments sent to Boston. Divining his
duplicity, John Adams, at the next town meeting, formulated the people's
resolve to vindicate their rights "at the utmost hazard of their lives and
fortunes," declaring that whosoever should solicit the importation of
troops was "an enemy to this town and province." The determination not to
rescind the principles stated in the Samuel Adams letter of January was
unanimous. Lord Mansfield thereupon declared that the Americans must be
reduced to entire obedience before their alleged grievances could be
considered. Camden confessed that he did not know what to do; the law must
be executed: but how? "If any province is to be chastised, it should be
Boston." Finally, two regiments and a squadron were ordered to Boston from
Halifax. Samuel Adams felt that the time was now at hand either for
independence or annihilation, and he affirmed publicly that the colonists
would be justified in "destroying every British soldier whose foot should
touch the shore." In the country round Boston, thirty thousand men were
ready to fight. A meeting was called in Faneuil Hall, and it resolved that
"the inhabitants of the Town of Boston will at the utmost peril of their
lives and fortunes maintain and defend their rights, liberties, privileges
and immunities."--"And," said Otis, pointing to four hundred muskets which
had been collected, "there are your arms; when an attempt is made against
your liberties, they will be delivered." Bernard, who was pale with alarm,
had to announce that the regiments were coming, and would be quartered,
one in Castle William, the other on the town. The council replied that
there was room enough in the Castle for both, and that, according to the
law, any officer attempting to use private houses would be cashiered. In
the midst of the dispute, the regiments arrived. The convention had, from
the first, law on their side; and in order to preserve this advantage were
determined to offer only a passive resistance to the revenue law, and to
abstain from violence until it was offered to them. No charge of high
treason would stand against any one. The anchoring of the squadron off
Castle William, with guns trained on the State House, had no effect. On
the first of October, in compliance with an order from Gage, and in the
absence of Bernard, who had fled to the country in a panic, the regiments
were landed at Long Wharf. With military music playing, fixed bayonets and
loaded guns, they marched to the Common, which was whitened by their
tents. An artillery train was also brought ashore. An attempt to browbeat
the people into providing quarters failed, and the officers dared not
seize them. At length they were obliged to rent rooms, and some of the men
were lodged in the State House, as the weather became too cold for outdoor
encampment; not a few of them deserted, and escaped into the country. But
Boston was under military rule, though there was nothing for the soldiers
to do. Sentinels were posted about the town, and citizens were challenged
as they walked their streets. On the Sabbath Day, drums and bugles
disturbed the worshipers in the churches. Officers of the custom house and
army officers met at the British coffee house in King Street. On the south
side of the State House was a court of guard, defended by two brass
cannon, and a large number of soldiers were kept there; in front of the
custom house, further down the street, a sentinel paced his beat. Boston
was indignant, but restricted itself to ceasing all purchases of
importations, trusting thus to wear out their oppressors. Some of the
younger men, however, were becoming restive under the implied or overt
insults of the officers and soldiery, and there were occasional quarrels
which might develop into something more serious. It was at this time that
the French inhabitants of New Orleans rose and drove out the Spanish
governor, Ulloa; and Du Chatelet remarked that it was "a good example for
the English colonies." But Boston needed no example; she afforded one in
herself. All the other colonies had indorsed her attitude; but the
animosity of England was concentrated against her. The whole kingdom was
embattled against the one small town; two more regiments had been sent
there, but no rebellion could be found. Was it the purpose to provoke one?
Soldiers, from time to time, were arrested for misdemeanors, and brought
before the civil magistrates, but were pardoned, when convicted, by the
higher courts. Samuel Adams and others, on the other hand, continued to be
threatened with prosecution for treason, but did not recede from their
position. Bernard, Hutchinson, Oliver, and the attorney-general acted as
secret informers and purveyors of evidence against the patriots. All
petitions from the colonies addressed to the English government were
refused so much as a hearing. And yet there was a strong division of
opinion in Parliament as to the course England was taking; and there were
many who wished that the question of taxation had never been raised. In
1769, it was conceded that the duties on most specified articles should be
abolished; nevertheless, Hillsborough, Secretary for the Colonies, said
that he would "grant nothing to Americans except what they might ask with
a halter round their necks"; and the great Samuel Johnson did not scruple
to add that "they are a race of convicts, and ought to be thankful for
anything we allow them short of hanging." Against such intemperate
vaporings are to be set the noble resolutions of the Virginia assembly, of
which Jefferson, Patrick Henry and Washington were members, extending its
sympathy and support to Massachusetts, warning King George against
carrying Americans beyond seas for trial, and advocating colonial union.
This was the more admirable, because England had treated Virginia with
especial tenderness and consideration. Similar resolutions in other
colonies followed, and a regular correspondence between the assemblies was
agreed to. The folly of English oppression had already created a united

At length the English government, weakened by the opposition, and by the
badness of their cause, agreed to abolish all duties except that on tea,
which was now bought cheaper in Boston than in London; and to withdraw two
at least of the regiments. But Boston was contending for a principle, not
for a few hundred pounds, and refused to accept the tea as a compromise.
Much more conducive to good feeling was the recall of Governor Bernard,
just as he was making himself comfortable for a long tenure of office
under the protection of British soldiers. This man's character is as
contemptible as any in colonial history. It was not merely or chiefly that
he was an abject miser and a foe to liberty. He was a convicted liar, a
spy, and a double-dealer; and his cowardice made him despised even by the
British. He scrupled not to swindle the British government, by conniving
at smuggling, while assuring them of his zeal in putting it down. While
smiling in men's faces, he was covertly laying plots for their
destruction. His last thought, after receiving the crushing news of his
recall, was to try to beguile the assembly into voting him his salary for
the coming year. The attempt failed, and he retreated in disgrace, with
joy-bells ringing in his ears. His only consolation was that he left
Hutchinson in his place, as ill-disposed toward liberty and honor as
himself, and his superior in intelligence. His recall had been due to the
desire of London merchants, who believed that his presence was destructive
of their commercial interests. The ministers for whom he had incurred so
much ignominy would do nothing for him; for the dishonorable are always
ready to sacrifice their instruments.

Hutchinson immediately began the system of secret conspiracy against the
lives and liberties of the chief citizens of Boston which marked his
administration; flattering them in their presence, while writing letters
of false accusations to the English ministry, which he begged them never
to disclose. But his cowardice was equal to Bernard's; so that when the
people detected an informer, and tarred and feathered him, he dared not
order the English regiments to interfere, and no one else was qualified to
give the word. But the hatred between the soldiers and the citizens was
inflamed. A British officer told his men, if they were "touched" by a
citizen, to "run him through the body." Many young men went armed with
oaken cudgels.

Two sons of Hutchinson, worthy of their sire, were guilty of felony in
breaking a lock to get at a consignment of tea, which had been locked up
by the committee of merchants. The merchants called Hutchinson to account;
he promised to deposit the price of what tea had been sold and to return
the rest. Dalrymple, the commander, issued twelve rounds of ammunition,
with which the soldiers ostentatiously paraded the streets. But inasmuch
as no one but the governor was authorized to bid them fire, and the
citizens knew Hutchinson's timidity too well to imagine that he would do
such a thing, this only led to taunts and revilings; and such epithets as
"lobster-backs" and "damned rebels" were freely bandied between the
military and the young men. The officers made common cause with their men,
and the custom house people fomented the bitterness. A vague plan seems to
have been formed to provoke the citizens into attacking the military, who
were then to fire, and plead self-defense.

On Friday, March 2, 1770, some soldiers came to blows with men employed
on a rope-walk. The affair was talked over in the barracks, and nothing
was done to restrain the desire of the soldiers for revenge, or to keep
them off the streets at night. On the 5th, squads of them were forging
about, armed with bludgeons, bayonets and cutlasses, boasting of their
"valor," challenging the people they met, and even striking them. Their
officers openly encouraged them. Their regiments were the Fourteenth and
the Twenty-ninth, notorious for their dissoluteness and disorderliness.
The night was cold, and a few inches of snow fell. Other groups of
soldiers came out, with their flintlocks in their hands: a boy was struck
on the head; several times the guns were leveled, and the threat was made
to fire. One youth was knocked down with a cutlass. Knots of angry young
men began to range hither and thither with staves:--"Where are they?
--Cowards!--Fire if you dare!--Lobster-scoundrels!" The soldiers, on the
other hand, were giving way to fury, striking persons in the doors of
their houses, calling out that they would kill everybody, and shouting
"Fire--fire!" as if it were a watchword. But as yet no irrevocable act had
been done.

Soon after nine o'clock, however, the alarm bell at the top of King
Street was rung hurriedly. Many persons thought it was for fire; and as
Boston had been nearly destroyed by a great fire ten years before, a large
crowd rapidly poured out into the streets. But the frosty air carried no
scent of smoke, and as the bell soon stopped its clangor, a number
returned to their homes; but the younger and more hot-headed smelled
mischief, if not smoke, and drew from various directions toward the
barracks. A party of them came down King Street toward the custom house.
They were halted by the gruff "Who goes there?" of the sentry, and his
bayonet at their breasts.

There were words of defiance: a sudden scuffle: and out of the barrack
gate came pouring the guard, with guns in their hands. Almost in the same
moment a great multitude of citizens came surging in from all sides, and
thronged in front of the custom house, where the fight seemed to be going
on. Those behind pushed against those in front, and all became wedged in a
mass, trying to see what was going forward, swaying this way and that,
uttering broken shouts, threatening, warning, asking, replying; and hot at
heart with that fierce craving to measure strength against strength which
is the characteristic of the Anglo-Saxon when his blood is up. The
soldiers were wholly in the wrong: they had no right to be where they
were; they had no right to wantonly annoy and provoke citizens in their
own town; their presence in the colony, for the purpose of constraining a
peaceful population, was a crime; but consciousness of this fact did not
lessen their animosity. As for the Boston people, they felt, as they faced
the emissaries of their oppressors on that wintry night, the accumulated
exasperation of generations of injustice, and perhaps a stern thrill of
joy that now, at last, the final, unforgivable outrage was to be

The great majority of citizens had not even sticks in their hands; none
of them carried guns or cutlasses. Some snowballs were thrown at the
soldiers, who faced the crowd with savage faces, and leveled bayonets.
Then there was a fresh crowding and uproar, for Captain Preston and a
squad of eight men had issued from the guard house and were forcing their
way to their comrades with the point of the cold steel. Their red coats
and black shakos and the glint of the moonlight on their weapons made them
conspicuous in the struggling mass, and the sinister intent which was
manifest in their look and bearing sent a strange thrill through the

A tall man in a black cloak, who five years later was a general of
artillery in the American army, laid his hand on Preston's shoulder
forcibly. "For God's sake, sir, get back to your barracks; if you fire,
you must die for it!" exclaimed he, in a deep voice. Preston stared at
him, hardly seeming to see him, and quivering with agitation. "Stand aside
--I know what I'm about," he replied huskily. As the soldiers reached the
sentinel's post and faced about in a semicircle, the crowd fell back, and
there were voices calling "Home--home!" The soldiers began to load,
pouring the powder and ball into the muzzles of their guns, and ramming
the charge home sharply with their ramrods. At this, a dozen men, with
cudgels, advanced upon the soldiers, cheering, and passed in front of
them, striking the barrels of their muskets with their sticks. "Cowardly
rascals!--drop your guns, and we're ready for you," said some between
their gritted teeth. "Fire, lobsters!--you daren't fire!" cried others.
"Down with 'em! drive the cowards to their barracks!" shouted some. "Are
your men loaded?" demanded a citizen, stepping up to Preston; and when the
latter nodded--"Will they fire upon the inhabitants?"--"Not without my
orders," the captain seemed to say. "Come on, you rascals--fire if you
dare--you daren't fire!" yelled the fiercer spirits, now beside themselves
with passion; and one struck a soldier's piece. He leveled it and fired,
at the same moment that Preston waved his sword and gave the word. A man
fell at the shot: the people gave back; the other soldiers fired
deliberately and viciously, not in a volley, but one after another, taking
aim. Some of them started forward to use the bayonet. It is said that a
figure was seen to come out on the balcony of the custom house, his face
concealed by a veil hanging down over it, and fire into the retreating
throng. The open space in front of the soldiers was overhung with smoke,
which slowly dissolved away, and revealed eleven New Englanders stretched
along the trodden snow of their native town. Some tried to rise; others
lay still. Blood flowed from their wounds, smoking in the icy air, and
tinging the white snow red. The deed had been done.

A sullen muttering of horror, swelling by degrees into a roar of rage,
burst from hundreds of throats as that spectacle was seen; and in a
moment, as it seemed, the town drums had beat to arms, the bells were
clanging, and all Boston was pressing tumultuously into King Street. The
Twenty-ninth regiment was hurriedly marshaled under arms; it appeared at
first as if the populace, thousands strong, and not without weapons, would
rush upon them and tear them in pieces. But by this time the saner and
stronger men had reached the scene, and set themselves resolutely to
withhold the people. "You shall have justice," they told them, "but let it
be by due course of law." And there was Hutchinson, promising everything
in his dismay, hurrying between the soldiers and the crowd, his feet
making blood-stained marks in the snow as he went. To no man more than to
him was due the guilt of that night's work.

Prompt and clean measures were taken: a town-meeting was held, and the
immediate withdrawal of all troops from Boston was required. The wretched
Hutchinson tried to temporize: he denied that he had power to move the
soldiers; then he consented to send one regiment away, letting the other
remain; the people would accept no compromise; Dalrymple said that he
would do as the governor directed. Samuel Adams and Hutchinson finally
faced each other in Faneuil Hall. "If you have power to remove one
regiment, you have power to remove both," said Adams, in a low but
distinct voice, pointing his finger at the other. "Here are three thousand
people: they are becoming very impatient: the country is in general
motion: night is approaching: an immediate answer is expected: it is at
your peril if you refuse." And describing the scene afterward, Adams said,
"at the appearance of the determined citizens, peremptorily demanding
redress of grievances, I saw his knees tremble and his face grow pale: and
I enjoyed the sight!" Truly, it was a subject for a great artist to
immortalize. The troops must go: and they went, choking with humiliation.

The news of this affair in England shocked the more reasonable people,
and led to criticism of the ministers; but Lord North, supported by the
king, would not consent to remove the tax on tea. He made it "a test of
authority," and a punishment for "American insolence." It was an expensive
punishment for England; the cost of keeping an army in the colonies, and
other incidental expenses, footed up about half a million dollars, against
a revenue from duties of four hundred dollars only. Americans got their
tea from the Dutch by smuggling and by corrupt connivance of the English
customs officers; and the loss of the English East India Company was
estimated at two and a half million dollars at least. There was great
uneasiness at this absurd showing; and Burke declared that "the idea of a
military establishment in America is all wrong." Lord Chatham, reading the
letters from Boston patriots, and resolutions of assemblies, remarked,
"These worthy New Englanders ever feel as Old Englanders ought to feel."
The colonists, however, zealous as they were for their liberties, were
ready to meet half way any effort toward conciliation on England's part.
The agreement to accept no British imports was but slackly kept, in spite
of protests from South Carolina and elsewhere. The people were wearied of
strife and would have welcomed any honorable means of peace. In this
juncture, two things only kept alive the spirit of independence; neither
would have sufficed apart from the other. The first was the pig-headedness
of the English government, with the king at the head of it, and men like
Thurlow, an irreconcilable foe to America, assisting; together with the
conspiracy against the colonies of the royal governors and officials, who
sent home false and exaggerated reports, all aiming to show that martial
law was the only thing that could insure order--or, in other words, secure
them their salaries and perquisites. These persons, by continually
irritating the raw place, prevented the colonists from forgetting their
injuries. In South Carolina, Governor Tryon, a bloody-minded Irishman,
went further; he took the field against the "Regulators"--a body of
citizens who had organized to counteract the lawlessness of the internal
conduct of the colony--and after a skirmish took a number of them
prisoners and hanged them out of hand; most of the rest, to save their
lives, took to the woods and, journeying westward, came upon the lovely
vales of Tennessee, which was thus settled. Daniel Boone had already made
himself at home in Kentucky. In Virginia, where the people were disposed
to loyalty, the agitation to do away with slavery, both on practical and
moral grounds, was harshly opposed by England, and the other colonies,
sympathizing with her action, were snubbed along with her. In short, the
pompous and hide-bound Hillsborough followed everywhere the policy of
alienation, under the impression that he was maintaining English dignity.

But all this would not have sufficed to keep the colonies on their course
toward independence, had it not been for the ceaseless vigilance and
foresight of Samuel Adams in Boston, Benjamin Franklin in London, and the
small but eminent band of patriots whom they worked with. Adams,
profoundly meditating on the signs of the times and the qualities of human
nature, perceived that England would continue to oppress, and that the
longer the colonies abstained from open resistance, the more difficult
would the inevitable revolt become. He did not hesitate, therefore, to
speak in ever plainer and bolder terms as the peril augmented. Reason was
on his side, and his command of logic and of terse and telling language
enabled him to set his cause in the most effective light. By drawing a
distinction between the king and his ministers, he opened the way to
arraign the latter for their "wickedness" in sending an "impudent mandate"
to one assembly to rescind the lawful resolution of another. The too eager
Hutchinson fell into the trap, and pointed out that it was the king,
rather than the ministry, who must be charged with impudence. But this was
not to disprove the impudence; it was simply to make the king instead of
the ministry obnoxious to the charge, and to enlighten the people as to
who their real enemy was. "The king," said Adams, "has placed us in a
position where we must either pay no tax at all, or pay it in accordance
with his good pleasure"--against the charter and the constitution. "The
liberties of our country," he went on, "are worth defending at all
hazards. Every step has been taken but one: and the last appeal requires
prudence, fortitude and unanimity. America must herself, under God, work
out her own salvation." He set resolutely to work to put into execution
his plan of a committee of correspondence, to elicit and stimulate the
patriotic views of the various colonies. "The people must instruct their
representatives to send a remonstrance to the king, and assure him, unless
their liberties are immediately restored whole and entire, they will form
an independent commonwealth, and offer a free trade to all nations."--"It
is more than time," Adams wrote to Warren, "to be rid of both tyrants and
tyranny." He prepared a statement of rights, among which was the right to
change allegiance in case oppression became intolerable, and to rescue and
preserve their liberties sword in hand. A detailed statement of grievances
was also drawn up, to be submitted to the king; its specifications were no
doubt familiar to Jefferson, when he wrote the "Declaration" four years
later. This document was circulated throughout the colony, and was
indorsed with unexpected enthusiasm by scores of towns; many of them, with
rustic bluntness, telling their thoughts in language even stronger than
that of their model. The fishermen of Marblehead (of whom history says not
much, but whatever is said, is memorable) affirmed that they were
"incensed at the unconstitutional, unrighteous proceedings of the
ministers, detested the name of Hillsborough, and were ready to unite for
the recovery of their violated rights." In Plymouth, "ninety to one were
for fighting Great Britain." The village of Pembroke, inhabited by
descendants of the Pilgrims, said that the oppressions which existed must
and would issue in the total dissolution of the union between the mother
country and the colonies. "Death is more eligible than slavery," said
Marlborough; and Lenox refused to "crouch, Issachar-like between the two
burdens of poverty and slavery." There was no doubt about the sentiment of
the country; and the hands of Adams and his colleagues were immensely
strengthened by the revelation.

In the spring of 1773 the next step was taken by Virginia. Young Dabney
Carr rose in the assembly and moved a system of correspondence between all
the colonies similar to that which had been established in Massachusetts.
In other words, the intercommunication of councils in all the colonies was
organized, and when these councils should meet, the Continental Congress
would exist. The response was earnest and cordial from Georgia to Maine.
Things were rapidly shaping themselves for the end. If anything more were
needed to consolidate England's offspring against her, it was not wanting.
Hutchinson, the veteran plotter and self-seeker, who never did a generous
or magnanimous act, who stabbed men in the back, and who valued money more
than country or honor, was exposed to the contempt of all men both in
America and England, and was forced to resign his governorship in disgrace
and to fly to England, where he died a few years later. Franklin was the
immediate means of his downfall. A member of Parliament had remarked to
him in conversation that the alleged grievances of which the colonists
complained had not been inflicted by any English initiative, but were the
result of solicitation from the most respectable of the colonists
themselves, who had affirmed these measures to be essential to the welfare
of the country. Franklin lifted his eyebrows; upon which his interlocutor
produced a number of Hutchinson's secret letters to Hillsborough. They
proved a conspiracy, on the part of Hutchinson, Oliver and others, to
crush American liberty and introduce military rule: they were treasonable
in the worst sense. Franklin remarked, after reading them, that his
resentment against England's arbitrary conduct was much abated; since it
was now evident that the oppression had been suggested and urged by
Americans whom England must have supposed represented the better class of
the colonists. He sent the letters to Boston; and "as to the writers," he
wrote, "when I find them bartering away the liberties of their native
country for posts, negotiating for salaries and pensions extorted from the
people, and, conscious of the odium these might be attended with, calling
for troops to protect and secure them in the enjoyment of them;--when I
see them exciting jealousies in the crown, and provoking it to wrath
against so great a part of its most faithful subjects; creating enmities
between the different countries of which the empire consists; occasioning
a great expense to the old country for suppressing or preventing imaginary
rebellions in the new, and to the new country for the payment of needless
gratifications to useless officers and enemies--I cannot but doubt their
sincerity even in the political principles they profess, and deem them
mere time-servers, seeking their own private emoluments through any
quantity of public mischief; betrayers of the interest not of their native
country only, but of the government they pretend to serve, and of the
whole English empire."

The letters were read in the assembly in secret session. But in the
meanwhile Hutchinson had been led into another mistake. He had denied, in
his speech to the legislature, that any line could be drawn between the
supreme authority of Parliament and the total independence of the
colonies. Either yield, then (he said), or convince me of error. The
terrible Adams asked nothing better. Accepting Hutchinson's alternative,
he answered, "If there be no such line between Parliament's supreme
authority and our total independence, then are we either vassals of
Parliament or independent. But since the parties to the compact cannot
have intended that one of them should be vassals, it follows that our
independence was intended. If, as you contend, two independent
legislatures cannot coexist in one and the same state, then have our
charters made us distinct states from England."--Thus had the governor
unwittingly pointed his opponent's spear, and, instead of driving him to
attack Parliament, been placed in the position of implicitly questioning
its authority himself.

But this was nothing compared with the revelation of his treacherous
letters. His first instinct, of course, was falsehood. "I never wrote any
letter tending to subvert the constitution," he asseverated. Being
confronted with his own sign-manual, "Their design," he cried, "is not to
subvert but to protect." But he knew he was ruined, and sent word to his
correspondents in England to burn the letters they held. The letters were
published, and distributed all over the colonies. Not a man or woman in
the country but knew Hutchinson for the dastardly traitor he was. A
petition to remove him and Oliver was sent to the king, but he hastened to
submit his resignation, with a whining entreaty that he be not "left
destitute, to be insulted and triumphed over." And bringing false charges
against Franklin, he begged to receive the latter's office of deputy

Before this matter could be settled, affairs in Boston had come to a
crisis. The East India Company had large consignments of tea ready for
shipment to the principal towns along the American coast. The latter
warned them of loss, but Lord North said "The king means to try this
question with America." It was seen that the connection between England
and her colonies could be continued only on a basis of equal liberties,
and "Resist all shipments of tea!" was the word. New York and Philadelphia
settled the matter by commanding all consignees to resign, which they did;
but this was not to be the solution in Boston. When, on November 28th, the
"Dartmouth," Captain Rotch, arrived with one hundred and fourteen cases of
tea, the representatives of the people ordered him not to enter till
Tuesday, the 30th. Four weeks before a meeting at Liberty Tree had been
summoned, and the consignees directed to attend and resign. The meeting
was held, but Clarke and the other consignees had refused to recognize its
authority. They now temporized, and were granted a day to consider;
meanwhile a guard was kept on the ship. The next day the consignees
proposed to suspend action until they could write to the exporters for
advice; but this was seen to be a subterfuge and was indignantly refused.
Rotch agreed to take the tea back; but the custom house refused him a
clearance. For if the ship remained in port, with her cargo undischarged,
twenty days, the authorities could seize and land it by law. If then the
people were to prevail, they must do so within that time. It seemed as if
they must be defeated; for if the consignees would not resign, and the
ship could not get a clearance, nothing but a direct violation of the law
could prevent the tea from being landed. To make assurance surer, two
frigates kept guard at the mouth of the harbor, and the guns of the Castle
were loaded. The governor and the officers were already chuckling over
their anticipated victory.

Adams and the committee of correspondence met, in secret session, and
what they determined never has transpired and can be surmised by inference
only. On Thursday, December 16th, a great meeting was called in the Old
South Church. Thousands of people from surrounding towns were in
attendance; the willingness and eagerness of them all to resist at the
cost of their lives and fortunes had been abundantly expressed. Had there
been an armed force with which they could have fought, the way would have
been easy; but there was nothing palpable here: only that intangible Law,
which they had never yet broken, and their uniform loyalty to which, in
their disputes with England, had given them strength and advantage. Must
they defy it now, in the cause of liberty, and engage in a scuffle with
the king's officers, in which the latter would be technically at least in
the right? No doubt they might prevail: but would not the moral defeat
counterbalance the gain?

"Throw it overboard!" Young had exclaimed, at a meeting two weeks before.
The suggestion had seemed to pass unheeded; but this was a crisis when
every proposition must be considered. Josiah Quincy and other speakers set
clearly before the multitude the dilemma in which they stood. Rotch had
been dispatched to Milton, where the governor had taken refuge, to ask for
a pass out of the harbor, this being the last resort after the refusal of
clearance papers. The short winter day drew to a close; darkness fell, and
the church, filled with that great throng of resolute New Englanders, was
lighted only by a few wax candles, whose dim flare flickered on the stern
and anxious countenances that packed the pews and crowded the aisles, and
upon Adams, Young, Quincy, Hancock, and the other leaders, grouped round
the pulpit. They were in the house of God: would He provide help for His
people? A few hours more, and the cargo in yonder ship would lapse into
the hands of the British admiral. The meeting had given its final,
unanimous vote that the cargo never should be landed; but what measures
were to be taken to prevent it, was known to but few.

It was near six when a commotion at the door resolved itself into the
ushering-in of Rotch, panting from his ten-mile ride in the frosty air; he
made his way up the aisle, and delivered his report: the governor had
refused the pass. No other reply had been looked for; but at the news a
silence fell upon the grim assembly, which felt that it was now face to
face with the sinister power of the king. Then of a sudden, loud shouts
came from the lower part of the church, near the open door; and even as
Adams rose to his feet and throwing up his arm, called out, "This meeting
can do nothing more to save the country"--there was heard from without the
shrill, reduplicating yell of the Indian war whoop; and dusky figures were
seen to pass, their faces grisly with streaks of black and red, feathers
tossing in their hair, and blankets gathered round their shoulders; each,
as he passed through the dim light-ray, swung his hatchet, uttered his
war-cry, and was swallowed up in darkness again. Out poured the multitude
from the church, startled, excited, mystified, obscurely feeling that some
decisive act was about to be done: and here are Adams and Hancock among
them, cheering on that strange procession which passed down toward the
wharfs swiftly, two by two, and seeming to increase in numbers as they
passed. After them streamed the people, murmuring and questioning, through
the winter gloom of the narrow street, until the high-shouldered houses
fell away, and there were the wide reaches of the harbor, with the ships
lying at Griffin's Wharf amid the cakes of ice that swung up and down with
the movement of the tide. As they came there, a strange silence fell upon
all, amid which the Indians--were they Indians?--swung themselves lightly
aboard the vessels, and went swiftly and silently to work. Up from the
hold came case after case of tea, which were seized and broken open by the
hatchets, the sound of their breaking being clearly audible in the tense
stillness; and the black contents were showered into the waters. Minute
after minute, hour after hour went by, and still the wild figures worked,
and still the multitude looked on, forgetful of the cold, their hearts
beating higher and fuller with exultation as they saw the hated cargo
disappear. It was all but ten of the clock before the last hatchet-stroke
that smote the king's fetters from Massachusetts had been delivered; and
then the feathered and painted figures leaped ashore, drawing their
blankets round their faces, and melted silently into the crowd, and were
lost, never again to reappear. Who were they?--Never was secret better
kept; after six score years we know as little as did King George's
officers on that night. They seemed to have sprung into existence solely
to do that one bold deed, and then to vanish like a dream. But the deed
was no dream; nor its sequel. No blood was shed on the night of the 16th
of December, 1773: but Massachusetts, and through her the other colonies,
then and there gave notice to King George that he had passed the limits
which they had appointed for his tyranny; and the next argument must be
held at the musket's mouth.



Franklin was sixty-seven years of age at this time; no man was then alive
more worthy than he of honor and veneration. For twenty years he had
guarded the interests of America in England; and while he had been
unswerving in his wise solicitude for the colonies, he had ever been
heedful to avoid all needless offense to England. The best men there were
the men who held Franklin in highest esteem as a politician, a
philosopher, and a man; and in France he was regarded as a superior being.
No other man could have filled his place as agent of the colonies: no
other had his sagacity, his experience, his wisdom, his address. He was
not of that class of diplomatists who surround every subject they handle
with a tissue of illusion or falsehood; Franklin was always honest and
undisguised in his transactions; so that what was long afterward said of a
lesser man was true of him: "Whatever record spring to light, he never
will be shamed." No service rendered by him to his country was more useful
than the exposure of Hutchinson; none was more incumbent on him, as
protector of colonial affairs. But in the rage which possessed the English
ministry upon learning how Massachusetts had parried the attack made upon
her liberties, some immediate victim was indispensable; and as Franklin
was there present, they fell upon him. A fluent and foul-mouthed young
barrister, Alexander Wedderburn by name, had by corrupt influence secured
the post of solicitor-general; and he made use of the occasion of
Franklin's submitting the petition for the removal of Hutchinson and
Oliver, to make a personal attack upon him, which was half falsehood and
half ribaldry. He pretended that the Hutchinson letters had been
dishonorably acquired, and that their publication was an outrage on
private ownership. Incidentally, he painted Hutchinson as a true patriot
and savior of his country; and called Franklin an incendiary, a traitor, a
hypocrite, who should find a fitting termination of his career on the
gallows. This billingsgate was heaped upon him before an unusually full
meeting of the lords of the privy council, the highest court of appeal;
and they laughed and cheered, while the venerable envoy of the colonies
stood "conspicuously erect," facing them with a steady countenance. Such,
and of such temper, were the aristocratic rulers of England and of America
(if she would be ruled) at this epoch.

America's friends in England were still stanch; but the ministry found no
difficulty in giving events a color which irritated the English people at
large against the colonies, and against Boston in particular; and they had
little trouble in securing the passage of the Boston Port Bill, the effect
of which was to close the largest and busiest port in the colonies against
all commerce whatsoever. Fuller said that it could not be put in execution
but by a military force; to which Lord North answered, "I shall not
hesitate to enforce a due obedience to the laws of this country." Another
added, "You will never meet with proper obedience until you have destroyed
that nest of locusts." Lord George Germain, speaking of revoking the
Massachusetts charter, said, "Whoever wishes to preserve such charters, I
wish him no worse than to govern such subjects." The act passed both
houses without a division, and Gage was appointed military governor, in
place of Hutchinson, who was recalled; and four regiments were quartered
in Boston. The wharfs were empty and deserted; the streets were dull, the
shops were closed; but the British Coffee House in King Street was gay
once more; and King George in London, felt that he was having his revenge,
though he was paying a round price for it. But Boston, having shown that
she could do without tea, and without commerce, was now about to show that
she could also do without George.

Nobody but Americans could govern America. The people were too
intelligent, too active, too various-minded, too full of native quality
and genius to be ruled from abroad. If they were to fall under foreign
subjection, they would become a dead weight in the world, instead of a
source of life; as Adams said, every increase in population would be but
an increase of slaves. And that they preferred death to slavery was every
day becoming increasingly manifest. They felt that the future was in them,
and that they must have space and freedom to bring it forth; and it is one
of the paradoxes of history that England, to whom they stood in
blood-relationship, from whom they derived the instinct for liberty,
should have attempted to reduce them to the most absolute bondage anywhere
known, except in the colonies of Spain. She was actuated partly by the
pride of authority, centered in George III., and from him percolating into
his creatures in the ministry and Parliament; and partly by the horde of
office-seekers and holders whose aim was sheer pecuniary gain at any cost
of honor and principle. The mercantile class had borne their share in
oppression at first; but when it became evident that tyranny applied to
America would kill her productiveness, the merchants were no longer on the
side of the tyrants. It was then too late to change the policy of the
country, however; George would have his way to the bitter end; the blind
lust to thrash the colonies into abject submission had the upper hand in
England; reason could not get a hearing; and such criticisms as the
opposition could offer served only to make still more rigid and medieval
the determination of the king.

It was the policy of the English government to regard Boston as the
head-center of revolt, and to concentrate all severities against her. It
was thought that in this way she could be isolated from the other
colonies, who would say to themselves that her troubles were none of
their affair, and that so long as they were treated with decency they
would not antagonize all-powerful England. Arguing from the average
selfishness of human nature, this policy did not seem unwise; but the fact
was that in this case human nature manifested an exceptional generosity
and enlightenment. Although the colonies, being on the coast, must depend
largely for their prosperity on commerce, and commerce is notoriously
self-seeking, nevertheless all the American settlements without exception
made the cause of Boston their own, sent her supplies to tide over her
evil days, and passed resolutions looking to union and common action
against oppression. South Carolina had every selfish ground for siding
with England; her internal affairs were in a prosperous condition, and her
traffic with England was profitable, and not likely to be interfered with;
yet none of the colonies was more outspoken and thoroughgoing than she in
denouncing England's action and befriending Boston. The great commonwealth
of Virginia was not less altruistic in her conduct, and did more than any
of her sister provinces to enforce the doctrine of union and independence.
New York, a colony in which aristocracy held a dominant place, owing to
the tenure of large estates by the patroons, and which necessarily was a
commercial center, yet spoke with no uncertain voice, in spite of the fact
that there were there two parties, representing the lower and the upper
social class, whose differences were marked, and later led to the
formation of two political parties throughout the colonies. In
Pennsylvania, the combination of non-fighting Quakers and careful traders
deadened energy in the cause, and the preachings of Dickinson, the
venerable "Farmer," were interpreted as favoring a policy of conciliation;
but this hesitation was only temporary. The new-made city of Baltimore was
conspicuous in patriotism; and the lesser colonies, and many
out-of-the-way hamlets and villages, were magnificent in their devotion
and liberality. The demand for a congress was general, and Boston was made
to feel that her sacrifices were understood and appreciated. She had but
to pay for the tea which had been thrown overboard, and her port would
have been reopened and her business restored; but she staked her existence
upon a principle and did not weaken. There were, in all parts of the
colonies, a strong minority of loyalists, as they called themselves,
traitors, as they were termed by extremists on the other side, or tories,
as they came to be known later on, who did and said what they could to
induce submission to England, with all which that implied. But the
practical assistance they were able to give to England was never
considerable, and, on the other hand, they sharpened the senses of the
patriots and kept them from slackening their efforts or modifying their

Gage, a weak and irresolute man, as well as a stupid one, was making a
great bluster in Boston. His powers were despotic. Soldiers and frigates
were his in abundance; he talked about arresting the patriots for treason,
to be tried in England; and Parliament had passed an act relieving him and
his men from all responsibility for killings or other outrages done upon
the colonists. He transferred the legislature from Boston to Salem; and
urged in season and out of season the doctrine that resistance to England
was hopeless. Upon the whole, his threats were more terrible than his
deeds, though these were bad enough. Meanwhile Hutchinson in England had
been encouraging and at the same time misleading the king, by assurances
that the colonies would not unite, and that Boston must succumb. At the
same time, Washington was declaring that nothing was to be expected from
petitioning, and that he was ready to raise a thousand men and subsist
them at his own expense, and march at their head for the relief of Boston;
Thomson Mason was saying that he did not wish to survive the liberties of
his country a single moment; Prescott of New Hampshire was affirming that
"a glorious death in defense of our liberties is better than a short and
infamous life"; Israel Putnam of Connecticut announced himself ready to
treat the army and navy of England as enemies; and thousands of citizens
in Massachusetts were compelling royal councilors to resign their places,
and answering those who threatened them with the charge of treason and
death with--"No consequences are so dreadful to a free people as that of
being made slaves." Jay's suggestion to form a union under the auspices of
the king was disapproved: "We must stand undisguised on one side or the
other." Gage's orders were ignored; judges appointed by royal decree were
forced to retire; and "if British troops should march to Worcester, they
would be opposed by at least twenty thousand men from Hampshire County and
Connecticut." Gage, finding himself confronted by a population, could
think of no remedy but more troops. He wrote to England that "the people
are numerous, waked up to a fury, and not a Boston rabble, but the
freeholders of the county. A check would be fatal, and the first stroke
will decide a great deal. We should therefore be strong before anything
decisive is urged." He had, on the 1st of September, 1774, captured two
hundred and fifty half-barrels of provincial powder, stored at Quarry
Hill, near Medford. Forty thousand militia, from various parts of the
country, took up arms and prepared to march on Boston; and though word was
sent to them that the time had not yet come, their rising was an object
lesson to those who had been asserting that the colonies would submit.
Gage had ten regiments at his disposal, but was trying to raise a force of
Canadians and Indians in addition, and was asking for still more
re-enforcements from England. The employment of Indians was a new thing in
English policy, and was a needless barbarism which can never be excused or
palliated. Gage fortified Boston Neck, thus putting all within the lines
at the mercy of his army; yet the starving carpenters of the town refused
to erect barracks for the British troops. Outside of Boston, the towns
threw off the English yoke. Hawley said he would resist the whole power of
England with the forces of the four New England colonies alone; and every
man between sixteen and seventy years of age was enrolled under the name
of "minute-men," ready to march and fight at a minute's warning.

On the 5th of September, the first American Congress met in Philadelphia.
Almost all the eminent men of the country were present--Gadsden of South
Carolina, Washington, Dickinson, Patrick Henry, Lee, the Adamses, and many
more. They agreed to vote by colonies. Their business was to consider a
constitution, to protest against the regulating act in force at Boston,
which left no liberty to the citizens; to frame a declaration of rights,
and to make a statement to the king of their attitude and demands. The
session was long, for the delegates had to make one another's
acquaintance, and to discover a middle course between what was desired by
separate colonies and what was agreeable to all. Great differences of
opinion and policy were developed, and there were not wanting men like
Galloway, the Speaker, who aimed at paralyzing all resistance to England.
But the longer they debated and voted, the more clearly and unanimously
did they oppose the tyrannous acts of Parliament and the extension of the
royal prerogative, and the more firmly did they demand liberty and
equality. Separation they did not demand, but a free union with the mother
country, to the mutual enrichment and advantage of both. By a concession,
they admitted the right of Parliament to lay external duties and to
regulate trade; but they strongly indorsed the resistance of
Massachusetts, and declared that if her oppression were persisted in, it
would be the duty of all America to come to her aid. With the hope of
influencing the merchants of England to reflect upon the injustice of the
present trade restrictions, they voted to cease all imports into England,
and to refuse all exports therefrom, though the loss and inconvenience to
themselves from this resolve must be immeasurably greater than to the
older country, which had other sources of supply and markets for goods. In
all that they did, they were ruled by the consideration that they
possessed no power of enforcing their decrees upon their own
fellow-countrymen, and must therefore so frame them that the natural
instinct for right and justice should induce to obedience to them. Their
moderation, their desire for conciliation, was marked throughout; and when
a message was received from Boston, reciting the iniquitous proceedings of
Gage, and proposing, if the Congress agreed, that the citizens of the
wealthiest community in the new world should abandon their homes and
possessions and retire to a life of log huts and cornfields in the
wilderness--when this heroic suggestion was made, the Congress resisted
the fiery counsel of Gadsden to march forthwith on Boston and drive Gage
and his army into the sea; and bade the people of Boston to be patient yet
a while, and await the issue of the message to England. But although they
were conscientious in adopting every measure that could honorably be
employed to induce England to reconsider her behavior, they had little
hope of a favorable issue. "After all, we must fight," said Hawley; and
Washington, when he heard it, raised his hand, and called God to witness
as he cried out, "I am of that man's mind!"

Their final utterance to England was noble and full of dignity. "To your
justice we appeal. You have been told that we are impatient of government
and desirous of independence. These are calumnies. Permit us to be as free
as yourselves, and we shall ever esteem a union with you to be our
greatest glory and our greatest happiness. But if you are determined that
your ministers shall wantonly sport with the rights of mankind: if neither
the voice of justice, the dictates of law, the principles of the
constitution, or the suggestions of humanity, can restrain your hands from
shedding human blood in such an impious cause, we must then tell you that
we will never submit to be hewers of wood and drawers of water for any
ministry or nation in the world."

In order to cripple America, the new province of Quebec was enlarged, so
as to cut off the western extension of several of the older colonies. At
the same time discrimination against the Catholics was relaxed, and the
Canadians were given to understand that they would be treated with favor.
The Americans, however, were not blind to the value of Canadian
friendship, and sent emissaries among them to secure their good will. "If
you throw in your lot with us," they were told, "you will have been
conquered into liberty." In Virginia, Lord Dunmore had been appointed
governor, and in order to gratify his passion for wealth, he broke the
injunction of the king, and allowed the extension of the province
westward; but this was the result of his personal greed, and did not
prevent his hostility to all plans for colonial liberty. Nevertheless, his
conduct gained him temporary popularity in Virginia; and still more did
his management of the war against the Shawnees, brought on by their
attacks upon the frontiersmen who had pushed their little settlements as
far as the Mississippi. These backwoodsmen were always on the borders of
peril, and aided in hastening the spread of population westward.

The proceedings of the American Congress produced a sensation in England;
they were more moderate in tone and able in quality than had been
anticipated. They could not divert the king from his purpose, but they
aroused sympathy in England among the People, and from Lord Chatham the
remark that the annals of Greece and Rome yielded nothing so lofty and
just in sentiment as their remonstrance. The non-representative character
of Parliament at this juncture is illustrated by the fact that
three-fourths of the English population were estimated to be opposed to
the war with America. It was also pointed out that it would be difficult
to find men to fill the regiments, inasmuch as all the ablebodied men in
England were needed to carry on the industries of the country; there were
no general officers of reputation, and many of those holding commissions
were mere boys, or incompetent for service. There were three million
people in America, and they would be fighting for their own homes, and
amid them, with the whole vastness of the continent to retire into. On the
other hand, it was asserted that the Americans were all cowards, and
incapable of discipline; that five thousand English soldiers were more
than a match for fifty thousand provincials. They had no navy, no army, no
forts, no organization. They would collapse at the first real threat of
force. The English ministry and their followers vied with one another in
heaping contempt and abuse upon the colonists. It was in reply to them
that Burke made one of his greatest speeches. Burke was an artist in
sentiments, and cannot be regarded as a statesman of settled and profound
convictions; his voice regarding America had not been consistent or wise;
but ever and anon he threw forth some worthy and noble thought. "I do not
know the method," he said in his speech, "of drawing up an indictment
against a whole people." Franklin, in March, after listening to one of
Lord Sandwich's shallow and frothy vilifications of America, "turned on
his heel" and left England. With him vanished the last hope of
reconciliation. "Had I been in power," exclaimed Hutchinson, "I would not
have suffered him to embark."

The colonists everywhere were collecting arms and ammunition, storing
powder, and diligently drilling. Whatever the leaders might say, or
refrain from saying, the mass of the people believed in the immediate
probability of war with England. In every village you could see the
farmers shouldering arms and marching to and fro on the green, while an
old man played the fife and a boy beat the drum. They did not concern
themselves about "regimentals" or any of the pomp and glory of battle; but
they knew how to cast bullets, and how to shoot them into the bull's-eye.
In their homespun small-clothes, home-knit stockings, home-made shirts and
cowhide shoes, they could march to the cannon's mouth as well as in the
finest scarlet broadcloth and gold epaulets. Their intelligence, their
good cause, their sore extremity, made them learn to be soldiers more
quickly than seemed possible to English officers who knew the sturdy
stupidity of the English peasant of whom the British regiments were
composed. And while the Yankees (as they began to be called) were learning
how to march and countermarch, and do whatever else the system of the
British regulars called for, they also knew, by inheritance, if not by
actual experience, the tactics of the Indians; they could make a fortress
of a rock or a tree or a rail fence, and could shoot and vanish, or fall,
as it seemed, from the empty air into the midst of the unsuspecting foe.
They were effective not only in bodies, but individually; and in the heart
of each, as he faced the foe, would be not only the resolve to conquer,
but the holy thought of wife and children, and of liberty. They were as
fit to be led by Washington as was he to lead them. Professing to despise
them, Gage nevertheless protested against taking the field with less than
twenty thousand men; upon which David Hume scornfully observed, "If fifty
thousand men and twenty millions of money were intrusted to such a
lukewarm coward, they never could produce any effect." It was resolved to
supersede him.

The men of Portsmouth had seized a quantity of powder and arms, which
belonged to them, but had been sequestered in the fort. The British, as a
set-off, marched to Salem to capture some stores there; they did not find
them, and proceeded toward Danvers. A river, spanned by a drawbridge,
intervened, and when they arrived, the draw was up. There stood Colonel
Timothy Pickering, with forty provincials, asking what Captain Leslie with
his two hundred red-coated regulars wanted. The captain blustered and
threatened; but the draw remained up, and the provincials all had guns in
their hands, and looked able and willing to use them, if occasion
demanded. But the captain did not think it best to give the signal for
combat, and meanwhile time was passing, and no soothsayer was needed to
reveal that the stores were being removed to a place of safety. After an
hour or so, Colonel Pickering relented so far as to permit the captain and
his regulars to cross the bridge and advance thirty yards beyond it; after
which he must face about and return to Boston. This he did; and thus ended
the first collision between the colonies and England. Nobody was hurt; but
in less than two months blood was to be shed on both sides. "The two
characteristics of this people, religion and humanity, are strongly marked
in all their proceedings," John Adams had said. "Resistance by arms
against usurpation and lawless violence is not rebellion by the law of God
or the land. If there is no possible medium between absolute independence
and subjection to the authority of Parliament, all North America are
convinced of their independence, and determined to defend it at all
hazards." The British answer to utterances like these was to seize a
farmer from the country, who had come to town to buy a firelock, tar and
feather him, stick a placard on his back, "American liberty, or a specimen
of democracy," and conduct him through the streets amid a mob of soldiers
and officers, to the strains of "Yankee Doodle."

As the last moments before the irrevocable outbreak passed away, there
was both a strong yearning for peace, and a stern perception that peace
must be impossible. "If Americans would be free, they must fight," said
Patrick Henry in Virginia. One after another, with singular unanimity, the
colonies fell in with this view. New York was regarded by the British as
most likely to be loyal; New England, and especially Massachusetts, were
expected to be the scene of the first hostilities. Sir William Howe,
brother of the Howe who died bravely in the Old French War, was appointed
commander-in-chief in place of Gage. The latter was directed to adopt the
most rigorous and summary measures toward the Boston people, whose
congress was pronounced by Thurlow and Wedderburn to be a treasonable
body, deserving of condign punishment. Orders were given to raise
regiments of French Papists in Canada; and the signal that should let
loose the red men for their work of tomahawking women and children was in
suspense. It was now the middle of April.

The winter season had been exceptionally mild. In the country neighboring
Boston the leaves were budding a month earlier than usual, and the grass
was deep and green as in English meadows. The delicate and fragrant
blossoms of the mayflower made the wooded hillsides sweet, and birds were
singing and building their nests in the mild breezes, under the
cloud-flecked sky. The farmers were sowing their fields and caring for
their cattle; their wives were feeding their poultry and milking their
cows; New England seemed to have put off her sternness, and to be wearing
her most inviting and peaceful aspect. Innocence and love breathed in the
air and murmured in the woods, and warbled in the liquid flowing of the
brooks. In such a time and place, Adam and Eve might have begun the life
of humanity on earth, and found in the loveliness and beauty of the world
a fitting image of the tranquillity and tenderness that overflowed their
guileless hearts.

But Eden was far away from New England in the spring of 1775. Committees

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