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[274] for defence. In Queen's county, where a large
Chap. LVIII.} 1776. Jan.
part of the population was of Dutch descent, and among the English there were churchmen and very many Quakers, the inhabitants, by a vote of more than three to one, refused to send delegates to the provincial congress; and it was only after long delays that the inhabitants of Richmond county made their election. In West Chester, Morris of Morrisania and Van Cortland were unwavering in their patriotism; but the Delanceys and Philipse, who owned vast tracts of land in the county, bent their influence over their tenants in favor of the king with so much effect, that the inhabitants were nearly equally divided. In the city the popular movement was irresistible; but a large part of the wealthy merchants were opposed in any event to a separation from Britain. The colony of New York, guided in its policy by men of high ability, courage, and purity, had pursued with unvarying consistency a system of moderation, at first from a sincere desire to avoid a revolution, if it could be done without a surrender of American rights; and when that hope failed, with the purpose of making it manifest to all, that the plan of independence was adopted from necessity.

In this manner only could they stand acquitted of the guilt of needlessly provoking war, and unite in the impending struggle the large majority of the people. It was also obviously wise to delay the outbreak of actual hostilities till warlike stores could be imported, and the women and children of a rich and populous city be removed from danger. This system was maintained alike by the prudent and the bold; by Livingston and Jay, by John Morin Scott and Macdougall.

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