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gency to elect a temporary government, a committee, of which were Washington and Schuyler, was chosen to prepare rules and regulations for an army.
Washington, on motion of Thomas Johnson, afterwards governor of Maryland, was nominated General and Commander-in-chief, and was unanimously elected. He accepted this great trust with his characteristic modesty. Artemas Ward of Massachusetts, Charles Lee, Philip Schuyler, and Israel Putnam were chosen major-generals. Horatio Gates adjutant-general, eight brigadierst and the other officers of a general staff.
In this selection, while the qualities of Washington gave him a just pre-eminence and clothed the preparations for impending war with a national character, the choice of the other officers shows where the brunt of the contest was expected and the military power of the colonies that were to meet it.
To supply the public wants, an emission of two millions of dollars in bills of credit was ordered, for the re
The distinction of having first moved the nomination of Washington is claimed by John Adams. Yet he writes in his diary, in which this claim is preferred: “I was daily urging all these things, but we were embarrassed with more than one difficulty, not only with the party in favor of the petition to the king, and the party who were jealous of independence, but a third party, which was a Southern party against a Northern, and a jealousy against a New England army, under the command of a New England general. Whether this jealousy was sincere, or whether it was mere pride and a haughty ambition of furnishing a Southern general to command the Northern army, I cannot say ; but the intention was very visible to me that Colonel Washington was their object, and so many of our staunchest men were in the plan, that we could carry nothing without conceding to it”.-Works of John Adams, ii. 413. His letter of Aug. 6, 1822, states that Thomas Johnson subsequently nominated him.--Ibid, 513.
+ Seth Pomeroy, David Wooster, Joseph Spencer, of Connecticut; Richard Montgomery, of New York; William Heath, John Thomas, of Massachusetts; John Sullivan, of New Hampshire ; Nathaniel Greene, of Rhode Island.
demption of which “the twelve confederated colonies” were pledged.
To secure peace with the Indians, the colonies were divided into three great departments. Schuyler was placed at the head of the Northern. Indians were only to be engaged as allies in case other Indians were induced to commit hostilities, or to enter into an offensive alliance with Great Britain.
Intelligence being received of the gallant repulse of the British at Bunker's Hill by a body of men under Prescot, whose hands were yet rough from the plough or the oar, the committees on the state of the nation brought forward their important reports.
A declaration setting forth the causes and necessity of taking up arms; a second petition to the king; a second address to the British people; one to Ireland, another to Jamaica, were published, fraught with indignation at the wrongs perpetrated, and avowals of a determination to resist, not unmingled with regrets. “ What measures have we taken that betray a desire of independence ? Have we called in the aid of those foreign powers who are the rivals of your grandeur? Have we taken advantage of the weakness of your troops, and hastened to destroy them before they were reinforced? Have we not permitted them to receive the succors we could have intercepted? Let not your enemies and ours persuade you that in this we were influenced by fear or any other unworthy motive! The lives of Britons are still dear to us. When hostilities were commenced, when, on a late occasion, we were wantonly attacked by your troops, though we repelled their assaults and returned their blows, yet we lamented the wounds they obliged us to inflict; nor have we yet learned to rejoice at a victory over Englishmen.”
The whole people were called upon to form themselves
into a regular militia, and a committee was raised, Jay at its head, to devise means to protect the trade of the colonies. Two joint treasurers of the “United Colonies” were now appointed. Each colony was to choose its own treasurer, and to provide means to sink the bills of credit by an equal mode of taxation, arbitrary quotas of contribution being fixed according to the estimated relative number of their respective inhabitants.
The accession of Georgia having completed the confederacy, Congress analyzed the late resolution of the British commons for conciliation, exhibited its fallacious propositions; recited in brief, emphatic terms, the rights assailed and the wrongs inflicted, concluding with the declaration, " that nothing but our own exertions may defeat the ministerial sentence of death or abject submission.” Having declared the non-exportation and non-importation agreements to comprehend every European island and settlement within the British dominions, and all the West Indies, British and foreign, Congress, on the first of August, adjourned to the fifth of the ensuing month.
During this period the Provincial Congress of New York was also in session. Its earliest acts were to order a post to be fortified at King's Bridge, near the city, and for an emission of paper money. These were intended as measures of prevention, not of preparative aggression. For New York, though led on to its duty by a determined few, from its divided sentiment, and exposed, defenceless condition, was most anxious for accommodation. An address was at this time made to her lieutenant-governor to prevent the landing, at her seaport, of the reinforcements on their way from England, and an address to the Canadians, inviting them to unite, and thus to insure immunity to her extensive vulnerable northern frontier.
Washington was now on his way to Boston accom
panied by Lee. Tryon was hourly expected. In their dilemma, the Congress of New York ordered a body of militia to receive with usual honors whichever should first arrive.
Washington was the first. These honors were paid him, and were followed by an address from the Congress. They avowed “as the fondest wish of each American soul, an accommodation with our mother country.” This accomplished, “you will cheerfully resign.” He assured them, “ Every exertion of my worthy colleagues and myself will be equally extended to the restoration of peace and harmony, as to the fatal but necessary operations of war.” Leaving Schuyler in that city with instructions to keep his eye on Tryon, whom he would have seized had not Congress been in session, he proceeded through New England, welcomed by its out-rushing inhabitants, and by military parades.
Tryon arrived and resumed the government of New York. The ultra royalists were encouraged. In answer to an address from the mayor asking his intercession, he assured him, “ He was authorized to say, that nothing can give greater satisfaction to the royal breast than to see again an united and happy people.”
The Provincial Congress completed, at this time, a plan of conciliation. It proposed that all the offensive acts of trade be repealed. Parliament to regulate their trade, and the colonial legislatures annually elected to impose taxes; or, that a President for all the colonies be appointed by the crown, and a Continental Congress be elected to raise and apportion the aids.
McDougall moved this plan be not transmitted to Congress until asked for by them. But it was sent to the New York delegates and acknowledged in respectful terms, lamenting the “unnatural quarrel.”
The strong desire of this body for conciliation did not prevent it declaring its dissatisfaction with the act establishing popery along their frontier.
The fearing, hoping mind of New York required an impulse. Hamilton saw the necessity, and determined to appeal to a feeling common to the breasts of all its people.
To the Churchman, papacy was not a pleasant thing. He had been taught in his Book of Common Prayer to denounce “Popish treachery,” “ Popish tyranny,” and “arbitrary power.” By the dissenting English and Dutch it was abhorred. The red cross effaced from the flag at Salem, as being “a present to the king by the pope, and a relic of Anti-Christ,” spoke the early puritan feeling. Nor was it permitted to die away. The clergy who accompanied the New England troops to Louisburgh carried with them axes to cut down the idols of the Catholic French. The blue ribband worn over their buff vests by the commander-in-chief and by his staff as the emblem of their rank, was the chosen color of the Scottish Covenanter, of Cromwell, and of William of Orange; and though Washington would not merely regard it as a Protestant type, the exulting English and Dutch dissenters associated it fondly with all their sufferings and with all their triumphs. It had been ordained of God.*
New York, with its many religious modes and forms, had not been ashamed to persecute the Roman Catholics. The address of the City of London denouncing the Quebec bill, appealed to this feeling. This bill presented popery in a most odious form. For it was believed to have been passed with a view to organize a province of French Catholics under an arbitrary government, the mere instrument of the crown to lower over and to control the long hitherto undefined frontier of the British colonists. “ It is necessary," was the avowal in England, “to con
* Put upon the fringe of the borders a riband of blue.- Num. xv. 38.