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[280] defence was not given up by the Americans; under the
Chap. LVIII.} 1776. Feb.
harmonizing influence of the continental committee, Lee and the New York committee held friendly conferences; the whole people showed a wonderful alacrity; and men and boys of all ages toiled with the greatest zeal and pleasure. To control the commerce of the Sound, a fortification was raised at Hellgate; on a height west of Trinity church, a battery was erected fronting the North River; that part of the old fort which faced Broadway was torn down; Lee and Lord Stirling, crossing to Long Island, marked out the ground for an intrenched camp, extending from the Wallabout to Gowanus Bay, and spacious enough to hold four thousand men; the connection between Long Island and New York was secured by a battery of forty guns at the foot of Wall street, and another of twenty guns a little further to the south. It was fondly hoped that the proposed fortifications would prove impregnable; the ships of war, without firing a gun, removed to the bay; and this state of peace and of confidence confirmed the preconceived notion of Lee's superior ability. The charm of exercising a separate command wrought a change in his caprices; and he who two months before had scorned the Americans as unworthy to aspire after independence, was now loud in praise of the doctrines of ‘Common Sense,’ and repudiated the thought of reconciliation with Britain, unless ‘the whole ministry should be condignly punished, and the king beheaded or dethroned.’

His zeal and his seeming success concentred upon him public confidence. ‘Canada,’ said Washington, ‘will be a fine field for the exertion of your admirable ’

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