« ZurückWeiter »
but their execrations of the British parliament were loud and violent. Contributions poured in from all quarters for their relief; and they were comforted by letters of condolence in their distresses, and of thanks for their steadiness. The inhabitants of Marblehead offered to accommodate the merchants of Boston with their warehouses, and the people of Salem, in an address to the governor, declared that they could not 'indulge one thought to seize on wealth, and raise their fortunes on the ruin of their suffering neighbors.'
FIRST ACTS OF THE ASSEMBLY AT CONCORD.
On the 7th of June, the governor held the general court of Massachusetts, at Salem; but finding that the popular leaders were prepared, on the first day of its meeting, to carry some most obnoxious motions, he promptly dissolved the assembly. This, however, he did not effect before it had nominated five deputies to meet the committees of other provinces at Philadelphia on the ensuing 1st of September.
The more indeed, he exerted himself to embarrass the proceedings of the patriots, the more decidedly did he find himself baffled by their vigilance and their ingenuityWhen, according to the provisions of the coercive statutes, he issued a proclamation prohibiting the calling of any town meetings after the 1st of August, 1774, an assembly
By what were they relieved and condoled?
of this kind was, nevertheless, held; and, on his summoning the selectmen to aid him to disperse it, he was encountered by the following notable specimen of special pleading, that the holding of the meeting to which he objected was no violation of the Act of Parliament, for that only prohibited the calling of town meetings, and that no such call had been made; a former legal meeting, before the 1st of August, having only adjourned themselves from time to time. One consequence of these adjourned meetings was a 'solemn league and covenant, whereby the parties who signed it bound themselves 'to suspend all commercial intercourse with Great Britain until the late obnoxious laws were repealed, and the colony of Massachusetts was restored to its
chartered rights. A proclamation by which the governor denounced this association as 'unlawful, hostile, and traitorous,' was treated with contempt. In another proclamation, published about this time, 'for the encouragement of piety and virtue, and for the prevention and punishing of vice, profaneness, and immorality,' the governor made especial mention of the vice of hypocrisy, as a failing which the people were admonished to eschew. No doubt, the staff of General Gage thought this an excellent satire upon the puritanism of the Bostonians. But the joke was ill-timed, and severed only to add fuel to the popular mind, which was already in a high state of inflammation. When, : in the month of August, Gage attempted to organize the new constitution of the colony, most of the counsellors whom he appointed refused to act, and the juries declined to serve under judges nominated by the crown. Dreading the most serious consequences from the obstinacy thus manifested by the people of Massachusetts, the governor
What was one consequence of these meetings?
thought it prudent to fortify Boston Neck, and to seize the powder deposited in the arsenal at Charlestown, which is a kind of suburb to Boston.* These measures produced a general rising throughout the province, which was with difficulty repressed by the prudence of the leading patriots. This demonstration drove the governor and his revenue officers from the new seat of government to the proscribed town of Boston. Whilst these transactions were going on, the Congress, or union of several committees, had assembled at Philadelphia, and, as the first fruits of its deliberations, issued a declaration, that it'most thoroughly approved the wisdom and fortitude with which opposition to wicked ministerial measures had been hitherto established in Massachusetts; and recommended perseverance in the same firm and temperate conduct, as expressed in the resolutions of the delegates from the county of Suffolk.' The tenor of these resolutions was, that no obedience was due to the restraining statutes. Emboldened by the approbation of Congress to act up to the spirit of these resolutions, a provincial assembly, held at Concord, of which Mr Hancock was president, after having in vain solicited the governor to desist from constructing a fortress at the entrance into Boston, in defiance of his Excellency's authority, appointed a committee to draw upa plan for the arming of the province. The members of this committee did not shrink from the discharge of their perilous duty. They gave instructions for the organizing of a species of partisans, under the name
* To which it is now united by a bridge.
What then did he do?
What did these measures produce?
of minute men, the command of whom was conferred on Jedediah Prebble, Artemas Ward, and Seth Pomeroy, warriors whose puritanical names gave ominous foreboding of a determination of purpose and of an obstinacy of valor, which their future conduct did not belie. The assembling of the militia was delegated to a committee of safety; and a committee of supply was authorized to expend the sum of 15,0001. sterling, in provisions, military accouterments, and stores, which were accordingly provided, and deposited at Worcester and Concord. At a later meeting of the provincial congress, still bolder measures were adopted. Resolutions were then passed to raise an army of 12,000 men, and delegates were sent to the adjacent conlonies to urge them to increase these forces the number of 20,000. It was, moreover, determined that the British troops should be attacked if they marched in field equipment beyond Boston Neck. A circular letter was also issued requesting the clergy to aid the common cause by their prayers and exhortations. At this crisis the situation of the governor was far from being an enviable one.
The reins of authority had fallen from his hands, and had been seized by the provincial congress, whose resolutions had throughout the province the force of laws. At the approach of winter he experienced the utmost difficulty in procuring materials or workmen to construct barracks for the sheltering of his troops. The straw which he purchased in the vicinity of the town was set on fire, and the timber which he had bought for the king's stores was seized or destroyed.-Nor was the spirit of open resistance confined to Boston.
Who were the commanders of these minute men?
In Rhode Island the people seized the public battery of forty pieces of cannon, and took the castle of Portsmouth, where they obtained a seasonable supply of powder.
OPENING OF THE CONGRESS AT PHILADELPHIA.
These active measures, which amounted to a direct levying of war against the King, were provoked by the rigor exercised against the colony of Massachusetts. In the meantime, the deputies of eleven provinces had assembled in congress at Philadelphia, and were soon joined by delegates from North Carolina. Peyton Randolph was chosen president of this assembly, and Charles Thomson was appointed its secretary. After a slight controversy as to the mode of voting, which was at length determined to be taken by provinces, each province having one vote, the members proceeded with the utmost zeal and harmony to the arduous business before them. In the first place, they issued a declaration of rights, in which, whilst they claimed a total exemption from any species of internal taxation imposed by the British parliament, they professed their willingness to obey all the laws which might be enacted in the mother country for the regulation of trade. They protested against the introduction of a standing army into the colonies without their consent, as also against the violation of their chartered rights in the infringement of their an
What was done in Rhode Island?