his motion, called upon the freeholders and electors
CHAP. Lxviii} 1776.
of the colony to confer on the deputies whom they were about to choose, full powers of administering government, framing a constitution, and deciding the great question of independence.
In this manner the unanimity of New York was ensured; her decision did not remain a moment longer in doubt; though it could not be formally announced till after the election of its convention.
It was taken in the presence of extreme danger, against which there was no hope that adequate preparations would be made.
Bands of savages hovered on the extended inland frontier of the province; the army, which was to have protected her on the side of Canada
, was flying before disease and want and a vastly superior force; an irresistible fleet was approaching the harbor of her chief city, and a veteran army of overwhelming strength, computed by no one at less than thirty thousand, was almost in sight.
The whole number of rank and file in Washington
's army, present and fit for duty, was on the morning of the twelfth of June but six thousand seven hundred and forty nine; with four hundred men in a continental regiment of artillery, and one single provincial company of artillery, raised probably through the zeal of Alexander Hamilton
, who, though not yet twenty years old, had after an examination been judged qualified to command it, and had in March been appointed its captain.
Of the infantry many were without arms; one regiment had only ninety seven firelocks and seven bayonets; others were in nearly as bad a state, and no one was well armed.
In numbers the regiments from the east were deficient from twenty to fifty; and few as the men were,