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[439] On the twenty fourth of May, the vote of
CHAP. Lxviii} 1776. May.
the continental congress of the fifteenth recommending the establishment of a new government, was referred to John Morin Scott, Haring, Remsen, Lewis, Jay, Cuyler, and Broome; three days later, Remsen reported from the committee, that the right of creating civil government is and ought to be in the people, and that the old form of government was dissolved; accordingly, on the thirty first, resolutions were proposed by Scott, Jay, and Haring, ordering elections for deputies, with ample powers to institute a government which should continue in force until a future peace with Great Britain. But early in June the New York congress had to pass upon the Virginia proposition of independence. This was the
moment that showed the firmness and the purity of Jay; the darker the hour, the more he stood ready to cheer; the greater the danger, the more promptly he stepped forward to guide. He had insisted on the doubtful measure of a second petition to the king with no latent weakness of purpose or cowardice of heart. The hope of obtaining redress was gone; he could now, with perfect peace of mind, give free scope to the earnestness of his convictions. Though it had been necessary for him to perish as a martyr, he could not and he would not swerve from his sense of duty. Joining a scrupulous obedience to his idea of right with inflexibility of purpose, he could not admit that the provincial congress then in session had been vested with power to dissolve the connection with Great Britain, and he therefore held it necessary first to consult the people themselves. For this end, on the eleventh of June, the New York congress, on

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