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ph Spencer of Connecticut, a man past sixty, a most respectable citizen, but, from inexperience, not qualified for councils of war; by John Thomas, a physician of Kingston, Massachusetts, the best general officer of that colony; by John Sullivan, a lawyer of New Hampshire, always ready to act, but not always thoughtful of what he undertook; not free from defects and foibles; tinctured with vanity and eager to be popular; enterprising, spirited, and able. The last was Nathaniel Greene, of Rhode Island, who, after Washington, had no superior in natural resources, unless it were Montgomery. At a farewell supper, the members of congress all rose, as they drank a health to the commander in chief of the American army; to his thanks, they listened in stillness, for the sense of the difficulties which lay before him suppressed every festal cheer. A kind of destiny has thrown me upon this service; thus Washington announced the cutting stroke of his departure to his wife, whose miniature
and. The provincial congress at Watertown welcomed him in a cordial address. From Philadelphia, Hancock expressed the wish to serve under him; Greene and the Rhode Island officers received him with words of affectionate confidence. Now be strong and very courageous, wrote Trumbull, the governor of Connecticut; may the God of thd well-pointed trees, placed with the top towards Boston, prevented the approach of light horse. A breastwork also crossed the road to Dorchester. The men of Rhode Island were partly on Winter Hill, partly at Sewall's Farm, near the south bank of the Charles. The centre of the army was with Ward at Cambridge, its lines reachinge than fourteen thousand five hundred fit for duty. The community in arms presented a motley spectacle. In dress there was no uniformity. The companies from Rhode Island were furnished with tents, and had the appearance of regular troops; others filled the college halls, the episcopal church, and private houses; the fields were
found much less than half a ton; not more than enough to furnish his men with nine rounds of cartridge. The extremity of danger could not be divulged, even while he was forced to apply in every direction for relief. To Cooke, the governor of Rhode Island, he wrote on the fourth of August, for every pound of powder and lead that could possibly be spared from that colony; no quantity, however small, was beneath notice; the extremity of the case called loudly for the most strenuous exertions, andund of vexation and fatigue. In September the British were importing fuel for the winter, so that there was no reason to expect their voluntary removal; yet the time of the service of his army was soon to expire, the troops of Connecticut and Rhode Island being engaged only to the first of December, those of Massachusetts only to the end of the year; and no provision had been made for filling their places. The continental currency, as well as that of all the provinces, was rapidly depreciating
ble. Sullivan was sent to fortify Portsmouth; Trumbull, of Connecticut, took thought for the defence of New London. Meantime, the congress at Philadelphia was still Chap. XLVII.} 1775. Oct. halting in the sluggishness of irresolution; and, so long as there remained the dimmest hope of favor to its petition, the lukewarm patriots had the advantage. No court as yet had power to sanction the condemnation of vessels taken from the enemy. On the third of October, one of the delegates of Rhode Island laid before Congress their instructions to use their whole influence for building, equipping, and employing an American fleet. It was the origin of our navy. The proposal met great opposition; but John Adams engaged in it heartily, and pursued it unremittingly, though for a long time against wind and tide. On the fifth, Washington was authorized to employ two armed vessels to intercept British storeships, bound for Quebec; on the thirteenth, congress voted two armed vessels, of ten and
resolved, through the paramount power of parliament, to introduce a new colonial system, which Halifax, Bedford, and especially Charles Townshend, had matured, and which was to have sufficient vigor to control the unwilling. First: the charter governments were to be reduced to one uniform direct dependence on the king, by the abolition of the jurisdiction of the proprietaries in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and by the alteration or repeal of the charters of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island. Secondly: for the pay of the crown officers, the British parliament was to establish in each colony a permanent civil list, independent of the assemblies, so that every branch of the judicial and executive government should be wholly of the king's appointment and at the king's will. Thirdly: the British parliament was, by its own act of taxation, to levy on the colonies a revenue towards maintaining their military establishment. Townshend, as the head of the board of trade, was unfol
varicious and profuse; grasping but not sordid; sanguinely hopeful; of restless activity; intelligent and enterprising. The next in rank as lieutenant colonels were Roger Enos, who proved to be a craven, and the brave Christopher Greene of Rhode Island. The ma- Chap. LIII.} 1775 Sept. jors were Return J. Meigs of Connecticut, and Timothy Bigelow, the early patriot of Worcester, Massachusetts. Morgan, with Humphreys and Heth, led the Virginia riflemen; Hendricks, a Pennsylvania company; Thayer commanded one from Rhode Island, and like Arnold, Meigs, Dearborn, Henry, Senter, Melvin, left a journal of the expedition. Aaron Burr, then but nineteen years old, and his friend Matthias Ogden, carrying muskets and knapsacks, joined as volunteers. Samuel Spring attended as chaplain. The humane instructions given to Arnold enjoined respect for the rights of property and the freedom of opinion, and aimed at conciliating the affectionate cooperation of the Canadians. If Lord Chatham's
North communicated his proposition as the ultimatum of British justice, he would have had it received as such and would have acted accordingly; on the echo from England of the battle of Bunker Hill, he saw that every hope of accommodation was delusive: the new year brought the king's speech to parliament in November, and Washington no longer held back his opinion that independence should be declared. Those around him shared his resolution; Greene wrote to his friend Ward, a delegate from Rhode Island to the general congress: The interests of mankind hang upon that body of which you are a member: you stand the representative not of America only, but of the friends of liberty and the supporters of the rights of human nature in the whole world; permit me from the sincerity of my heart, ready at all times to bleed in my country's cause, to recommend a declaration of independence, and call upon the world and the great God who governs it, to witness the necessity, propriety, and rectitude t
of domesticity, dependent for culture, employment, and support on a superior race; and it was then the prevailing opinion, especially in Virginia, that the total prohibition of the slave trade would, at no very distant day, be followed by universal emancipation. The first who, as far as appears, suggested that negroes might be emancipated and a public provision be made to transport them to Africa, where they might probably live better than in any other country, was Samuel Hopkins, of Rhode Island, a divine, who Chap. LX.} 1776. Apr. taught that, through divine interposition, sin is an advantage to the universe; a firm believer in the coming of the millennium; a theorist of high ideal conceptions, who held virtue to require more than disinterested love, a love that is willing to make a sacrifice of itself. Writing in a town which had grown rich by the slave trade, he addressed a long and elaborate memorial to the members of the continental congress, entreating them to be the happ
Chapter 62: The example of the Carolinas and Rhode Island. February—May, 1776. The American congress needed an impulse from Chap. LXII.} 1776. Feb. the resolute spirit of some colonial convention, and an example of a government springing wholly from the people. Massachusetts had followed closely the forms of its charter; New Hampshire had deviated as little as possible from its former system; neither of the two had appointed a chief executive officer. On the eighth of February th by their public spirit to the camp on the Hudson, and even to Canada; leaving power in the hands of the timid who remained at home. The despondency and hesitation of the assembly of Pennsylvania was in marked contrast with the fortitude of Rhode Island, whose general assembly, on the fourth day of May, passed an act discharging the inhabitants of that colony from allegiance to the king of Great Britain. The measure was carried in the Chap. LXII.} 1776. May. upper house unanimously, and i
ter of Massachusetts. Lord North, when he relapsed into his natural bias towards justice, used to say publicly that the right of taxation was abandoned; Germain always asserted that it was not. The instructions to the commissioners were founded upon the resolution of the twentieth of February, 1775; which the colonies had solemnly declared to be insufficient. The parliamentary change in the charter of Massachusetts was to be enforced; and secret instructions required that Connecticut and Rhode Island should be compelled, if possible, to accept analogous changes; so that not only was uncon ditional submission required, but in the moment of Chap. LXIII.} 1776. May. victory other colonial charters were still further to be violated, in order to carry out the system which the king had pursued from the time of the ministry of Bute. Lord Howe wished well to the Americans, kept up his friendly relations with Chatham, and escaped the suspicion of a subservient complicity with the administr
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