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‘ [369] the establishment of their rights. Our petitions are
Chap. LXIII.} 1776. May.
answered only by fleets, and armies, and myrmidons from abroad. The king has thrown us out of his protection; why should we support governments under his authority?’ Floyd of New York was persuaded, ‘that it could not be long before his constituents would think it necessary to take up some more stable form of government than what they then exercised; that there were little or no hopes of commissioners coming to treat of peace; and that therefore America ought to be in a situation to preserve her liberties another way.’ ‘This preamble contains a reflection upon the conduct of some people in America,’ interposed Wilson, referring to the assembly of Pennsylvania, which so late as February had required oaths of allegiance of Reed and Rittenhouse. ‘If the preamble passes,’ he continued, ‘there will be an immediate dissolution of every kind of authority in this province; the people will be instantly in a state of nature. Before we are prepared to build the new house, why should we pull down the old one’ The delegates of Pennsylvania declined to vote on the question; those of Maryland announced, that, under their instructions, they should consider their colony as unrepresented, until they should receive the directions of their principals who were then sitting at Annapolis.

The measure proved ‘a piece of mechanism to work out independence;’ overruling the hesitation of the moderate men, the majority adopted the preamble, and ordered it to be published. ‘The gordian knot,’ said John Adams, ‘is cut;’ and as he ruminated in solitude upon the lead which he had assumed in summoning so many populous and opulent colonies to rise

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