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[56] of Dickinson, incensed John Adams, who maintained
Chap. XLIII.} 1775. July.
that the fifty or sixty men composing the congress, should at once form a constitution for a great empire, provide for its defence, and, in that safe attitude, await the decision of the king. His letters to New England, avowing these opinions, were intercepted; and so little were the central colonies prepared for the bold advice, they were published by the royalists as the surest way of destroying his influence, and heaping obloquy upon his name. So hard it was to rend the tie that bound America to England! The king's decision was already irrevocably taken; even while the congress was engaged in timid deliberations to manifest to the world that war and independence, if they came, would come unavoidably. The most decisive measure was the adoption of the paper, prepared by Jefferson, on Lord North's proposal for conciliation.

The American congress asked of the king a cessation of hostilities, and a settlement of the disputed questions by a concert between the crown and the collective colonies; Lord North offered, as the British ultimatum, to treat separately with each assembly for grants towards the general defence and for its own civil government, with the promise that parliament would abstain from taxing the province that should offer satisfactory terms. This proposition was pronounced unreasonable, because it implied a purchase of the forbearance of parliament at an uncertain price; invidious, as likely to divide the colonies, and leave the dissatisfied to resist alone; unnecessary, for America had ever voluntarily contributed fully, when called upon as freemen; insulting, since the demand

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