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Chapter 30:

Effects of the day of Lexington and Concord con-tinued: the camp of liberty.

April—May, 1775.

the inhabitants of Boston suffered an accumulation
Chap. XXX.} 1775. April.
of sorrows, brightened only by the hope of the ultimate relief of all America. Gage made them an offer that if they would promise not to join in an attack on his troops, and would lodge their arms with the selectmen at Faneuil Hall, the men, women, and children, with all their effects, should have safe conduct out of the town. The proposal was accepted. For several days the road to Roxbury was thronged with wagons and trains of wretched exiles; but they were not allowed to take with them any provisions; and nothing could be more affecting than to see the helpless families come out without any thing to eat. The provincial congress took measures for distributing five thousand of the poor among the villages of the interior. But the loyalists of Boston, of whom two hundred volunteered to enter the king's service, [321] desired to detain the people as hostages; Gage
Chap XXX.} 1775. April.
therefore soon violated his pledge; and many respected citizens, children whose fathers were absent, widows, unemployed mechanics, persons who had no protectors to provide for their escape, remained in town to share the hardships of a siege, ill provided, and exposed to the insults of an exasperated enemy. Words cannot describe their sufferings.

Connecticut still hoped for ‘a cessation of hostilities,’ and for that purpose, Johnson, so long its agent abroad, esteemed by public men in England for his moderation and ability, repaired as one of its envoys to Boston; but Gage only replied by a narrative which added new falsehoods to those of Smith and Percy. By a temperate answer he might have confused New England; the effrontery of his assertions, made against the clearest evidence, shut out the hope of an agreement.

No choice was left to the Massachusetts committee of safety but to drive out the British army, or perish in the attempt; even though every thing conspired to make the American forces incapable of decisive action. There was no unity in the camp. At Roxbury, John Thomas had command, and received encomiums for the good order which prevailed in his division; but Ward, the general who was at Cambridge, had the virtues of a magistrate rather than of a soldier. He was old, unused to a separate military command, and so infirm, that he was not fit to appear on horseback; and he never could introduce exact discipline among free men, whom even the utmost vigor and ability might have failed to control, and who owned no superiority but that of merit, no [322] obedience but that of willing minds. Nor had he

Chap. XXX.} 1775. April.
received from the provincial congress his commission as commander in chief; nor was his authority independent of the committee of safety. Moreover, the men from other colonies did not as yet form an integral part of one ‘grand American’ army, but appeared as independent corps from their respective provinces under leaders of their own.

Of the men of Massachusetts who first came down as volunteers, the number varied from day to day; and was never at any one time ascertained with precision. Many of them returned home almost as soon as they came, for want of provisions or clothes, or because they had not waited to put their affairs in order. Of those who enlisted in the Massachusetts army, a very large number absented themselves on furlough. It was feared by Ward that it would be impossible for him to keep the army together; and that he should be left alone. As for artillery, it was found, on inquiry, that there were altogether no more than six three-pounders and one six-pounder in Cambridge, besides sixteen pieces in Watertown, of different sizes, some of them good for nothing. But even these were more than could be used. There was no ammunition but for the six three-pounders, and very little for them. In the scarcity of powder, the most anxious search was made for it throughout the colony; and after scouring five principal counties, the whole amount that could be found was less than sixty-eight barrels. The other colonies, to which the most earnest entreaties were addressed for a supply, were equally unprovided. In the colony of New York, [323] there were not more than one hundred pounds of

Chap. XXX.} 1775. May 1.
powder for sale.

Notwithstanding these obstacles, the scheming genius of New England was in the highest activity. While the expedition against Ticonderoga was sanctioned by a commission granted to Benedict Arnold, the congress, which was then sitting in Watertown, received from Jonathan Brewer, of Waltham, a proposition to march with a body of five hundred volunteers to Quebec, by way of the rivers Kennebeck and Chaudiere, in order to draw the governor of Canada, with his troops, into that quarter, and thus secure the northern and western frontiers from inroads. He was sure it ‘could be executed with all the facility imaginable.’ The design was not then favored, but it did not pass out of mind.

Now that Massachusetts had entered into war with Great Britain, next to the want of military stores, the poverty of her treasury, which during the whole winter had received scarcely five thousand pounds of currency to meet all expenses, gave just cause for apprehension. For more than twenty years, she had endeavored by legislative penalties to exclude the paper currency of other provinces, and had issued no notes of her own but certificates of debt, in advance of the revenue. These certificates were for

May 5.
sums of six pounds and upwards, bearing interest, and had no forced circulation, and were kept at par by the high condition of her credit and her general prosperity. The co-operation of neighboring colonies compelled her congress in May to legalize the paper money of Connecticut and Rhode Island; and from fiscal necessity to issue her own treasury notes. Of [324] her first emission of one hundred thousand pounds,
Chap. XXX.} 1775. May.
there were no notes under four pounds, and they all preserved the accustomed form of certificates of public debt, of which the use was not made compulsory. But in less than three weeks, an emission of twentysix thousand pounds was authorized for the advance pay to the soldiers, and these ‘soldiers' notes,’ of which the smallest was for one dollar, were made a legal tender ‘in all payments without discount or abatement.’ Rhode Island put out twenty thousand pounds in bills, of which the largest was for forty shillings, the smallest for sixpence.

On the fifth of May, the provincial congress resolved: ‘that General Gage had disqualified himself for serving the colony in any capacity, that no obedience was in future due to him, that he ought to be guarded against as an unnatural and inveterate enemy.’ To provide for order was an instant necessity; but the patriots of the colony checked their eagerness to renovate the ancient custom of annually electing their chief magistrate, and resolved to wait till they could receive from the continental congress ‘explicit advice respecting the taking up and exercising the powers of civil government.’ They were ready to receive a plan, or with the consent of congress, to establish a form for themselves.

‘After the termination of the present struggle,’ wrote Warren, ‘I hope never more to be obliged to enter into a political war. I would, therefore, wish the government here to be so happily constituted, that the only road to promotion may be through the affections of the people. I would have such a government as should give every man the greatest liberty [325] to do what he pleases, consistent with restraining him

Chap. XXX.} 1775. May.
from doing any injury to another, or such a government as would most contribute to the good of the whole, with the least inconvenience to individuals.’

To form the grand American army, New Hampshire agreed to raise two thousand men, of whom perhaps twelve hundred reached the camp. Folsom was their brigadier, but John Stark was the most trusty officer. Connecticut offered six thousand men, and about twenty-three hundred remained at Cambridge, with Spenser as their chief commander, and Putnam as second brigadier.

Rhode Island voted an army of fifteen hundred men, and probably about a thousand of them appeared round Boston, under Nathaniel Greene as their commander. He was one of eight sons, born in a house of a single story, near the Narragansett Bay in Warwick. In that quiet seclusion, Gorton and his followers, untaught of universities, had reasoned on the highest questions of being. They had held, that in America Christ was coming to his temple, that outward ceremonies, baptism and the eucharist, and also kings and lords, bishops and chaplains, were all but carnal ordinances, sure to have an end; that humanity must construct its church by ‘the voice of the Son of God,’ the voice of reason and love. The father of Greene, descended from ancestry of this school, was at once an anchor smith, a miller, a farmer, and, like Gorton, a preacher. The son excelled in diligence and in manly sports. None of his age could wrestle, or skate, or run better than he; or stand before him as a neat ploughman and a skilful mechanic. [326] Aided by intelligent men of his own village, or

Chap. XXX.} 1775. May.
of Newport, he read Euclid, and learned to apply geometry to surveying and navigation; he studied Watts's logic, Locke on the human understanding, pored over English versions of the Lives of Plutarch, the Commentaries of Caesar, and became familiar with some of the best English classics, especially Shakespeare and Milton.

When the stamp-act was resisted, he and his brothers never feared to rally at the drum-beat. Simple in his tastes, temperate as a Spartan, and a great lover of order, he rose early, and was indefatigable at study or at work. He married, and his home became the abode of peace and hospitality. His neighbors looked up to him as an extraordinary man, and from 1770, he was their representative in the colonial legislature. Once in 1773, he rode to Plainfield in Connecticut, to witness a grand military parade; and the spectacle was for him a good commentary on Sharp's military guide. In 1774, in a coat and hat of the Quaker fashion, he was seen watching the exercise and manoeuvres of the British troops at Boston, where he used to buy of Henry Knox, a bookseller, treatises on the art of war.

On the day of Lexington, Greene started to share in the conflict; but being met by tidings of the retreat of the British, he went back to take his seat in the Rhode Island legislature. He next served as a commissioner to concert military plans with Connecticut, and when in May the Rhode Island brigade of fifteen hundred men was enlisted, he was elected its general. None murmured at the advancement of the unassuming man whom nature had so gifted with [327] readiness to oblige, and gentleness of disposition, and

Chap. XXX.} 1775. May.
the mildest manners, that every one loved him. ‘I hope,’ said he meekly, ‘God will preserve me in the bounds of moderation, and enable me to support myself with proper dignity, neither rash nor timorous.’ He loved to serve his country more than the honor of serving it; and if its good had required it, would have exchanged his command for that of a sergeant, or the place of a soldier in the ranks, without a murmur. As he became familiar with his duty, he never forgot that he was keeping guard for the interests of mankind, looking to the continental congress as the friend of the liberty of the world, and the support of the rights of human nature.

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