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[346] American navy, representing in a yellow field a rat-
Chap. LXII.} 1776. Feb.
tlesnake of thirteen full-grown rattles, coiled to strike, with the motto: Don't Tread on me. When, on the tenth, the report on reforming the provincial government was considered, and many hesitated, Gadsden spoke out not only for the new constitution, but for the absolute independence of America. The sentiment came like a thunderbolt upon the members, of whom the majority had thus far refused to contemplate the end towards which they were irresistibly impelled. One member avowed his willingness to ride post by day and night to Philadelphia, in order to assist in reuniting Great Britain and her colonies; another heaped the coarsest abuse upon the author of Common Sense: but meanwhile the criminal laws could not be enforced for want of officers; public and private affairs were running into confusion; the imminent danger of invasion was proved by intercepted letters; so that necessity compelled the adoption of some adequate system of rule.

While a committee of eleven was preparing the organic law, Gadsden, on the thirteenth, began to act as senior officer of the army. Measures of defence were vigorously pursued, companies of militia called down to Charleston, and the military forces augmented by two regiments of riflemen. In the early part of the year Sullivan's Island was a wilderness; near the present fort, the wet ground was thickly covered with myrtle, live oak, and palmettos; there, on the second of March, William Moultrie was ordered to

Mar.
take the command, and complete a fort large enough to hold a garrison of a thousand men. The colony, which had already issued one million one hundred

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