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there are certain seasons when the real danger of the master may not only excuse, but render laudable, the servant's officiousness. I therefore flatter myself that the congress will receive with indulgence and lenity the opinion I shall offer. The scheme of simply disarming the tories seems to me totally ineffectual; it will only embitter their minds and add virus to their venom. They can, and will, always be supplied with fresh arms by the enemy. That of seizing the most dangerous will, I apprehend, from the vagueness of the instruction, be attended with some bad consequences, and can answer no good one. It opens so wide a door for partiality and prejudice to the different congresses and committees on the continent, that much discord and animosity will probably ensue; it being next to impossible to distinguish who are, and who are not the most dangerous. The plan of explaining to these deluded people the justice and merits of the American cause is certainly generous and humane, but I am afraid, will be fruitless. They are so rivetted in their opinions, that I am persuaded should an angel descend from heaven with his golden trumpet and ring in their ears that their conduct was criminal, he would be disregarded. I had lately myself an instance of their infatuation, which, if it is not impertinent, I will relate. At Newport I took the liberty, without any authority but the conviction of necessity, to administer a very strong oath to some of the leading tories, for which liberty I humbly ask pardon of the congress. One article of this oath was to take arms in defence of their country, if called upon by the voice of the congress. To this colonel Wanton and others flatly refused their assent; to take arms against their sovereign they said, was too monstrous an impiety. I asked them if they had lived at the time of the revolution whether they would have been Revolutionists....their answers were at first evasive, circuitous, and unintelligible, but, by fixing them down
precisely to the question, I at length drew from them a positive confession that no violence, no provocation on the part of the court, could prevail upon them to act with the continent. Such, I am afraid, is the creed and principles of the whole party great and small....Sense, reason, argument, and eloquence, have been expended in vain; and in vain you may still argue and reason to the end of time. Even the common feelings and resentments of humanity have not aroused them, but rather with a malignant pleasure they have beheld the destruction of their fellow citizens and relations. But I am running into declamation, perhaps impertinent and presuming, when I ought to confine myself to the scheme I submit to your consideration. It is, sir, in the first place, to disarm all the manifestly disaffected, as well of the lower as the higher class, not on the principle of putting them in a state of impotence (for this I observed before will not be the case) but to supply our troops with arms of which they stand in too great need. Secondly, to appraise their estates and oblige them to deposit at least the value of one half of their respective property in the hands of the continental congress as a security for their good behaviour. And lastly, to administer the strongest oath that can be devised to act offensively and defensively in support of the common rights. I confess that men so eaten up with bigotry, as the bulk of them appear to be, will not consider themselves as bound by this oath ; particularly as it is in some measure forced, they will argue it is by no means obligatory; but if I mistake not, it will be a sort of criterion by which you will be able to distinguish the desperate fanaticks from those who are reclaimable. The former must of course be secured and carried into some interior parts of the continent where they cannot be dangerous. This mode of proceeding I conceive (if any can) will be effectual....but whether it meets with the approbation or disapprobation of the congress, I most humbly conjure them not to attribute the proposal to ar
rogance, or self conceit, or pragmatical officiousness, but, at worst, to an intemperate zeal for the public service.
Notwithstanding the apparent slimness of the authority, as I am myself convinced that it is substantial, I think it my duty to communicate a circumstance to congress. I have with me here, sir, a deserter from captain Wallace's ship before Newport. It is necessary to inform you that this captain Wallace has the reputation of being the most imprudent and rash of all mortals....particularly when he is heated with wine, which, as reported, is a daily incident : that in these moments he blabs his most secret instructions even to the common men. This deserter, then, informs us that the captain a few days ago assembled the sailors and marines on the quarter-deck, and assured them, by way of encouragement, that they were to proceed very soon to New York where they were to be joined by his majesty's most loyal subjects of White Plains, Poughkeepsie, and Long island, and at the same time bestowed abundantly his curses on the admiral and general for their dilatoriness and scandalous conduct in not availing themselves sooner of the invitation they had received from the worthy gentlemen. The congress will make what comments they please on this information, which I must repeat I thought it my duty to communicate. Upon the whole, sir, you may be assured that it is the intention of the ministerialists to take possession, and immediately, of New York. The intercepted letters, the unguarded expressions of their officers, in their interviews with ours on the lines, but above all the manifest advantages resulting to their cause from this measure, put their intention beyond dispute. With submission therefore to the wisdom of the congress it behoves them I should think, not to lose a moment in securing this important post, which, if in the hands of the enemy must cut the continent in twain, and render it almost impossible for the northern and southern colonies to support each
other. This crisis, when every thing is at stake, is not a time to be over complacent to the timidity of the inhabitants of any particular spot. I have now under my command a respectable force adequate to the purpose of securing the place, and purging all its environs of traitors, on which subject I shall expect with impatience the de. termination of the congress. Their orders I hope to receive before or immediately on my arrival.
This instant, the enclosed, express from the provincial congress of New York, was delivered into my hands, but as these gentlemen probably are not fully apprized of the danger hanging over their heads, as I have received intel. ligence from the camp that the fleet is sailed, and that it is necessary to urge my march, I shall proceed with one division of the forces under my command to that city. A moment's delay may be fatal. The force I shall carry with me is not strong enough to act offensively, but just sufficient to secure the city against any immediate designs of the enemy. If this is to give umbrage, if the governor and captain of the man of war are pleased to construe this step as an act of positive hostility, if they are to prescribe what number of your troops are and what number are not to enter the city, all I can say is that New York must be considered as the minister's place, and not the continent. I must now, sir, beg pardon for the length of this letter, and more so, for the presumption in offering so freely my thoughts to the congress, from whom it is my duty simply to receive my orders, and as a servant and soldier strictly to obey; which none can do with greater ardor and affection than,
Your most obedient humble servant. To the honourable John Hancock, esquire,
president of the continental Congress.
THE NAMES OF THE MEMBERS WHO SUBSCRIBED THE
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, WERE AS FOLLOW,
New Hampshire. Josiah Bartlett,
Mathew Thornton. William Whipple,
Massachussetts Bay. Samuel Adams,
Robert Treat Paine, John Adams,
Rhode Island, &c. Stephen Hopkins,
Connecticut. Roger Sherman,
William Williams, Samuel Huntington, Oliver Wolcott.
New York. William Floyd,
Francis Lewis, Philip Livingston, Lewis Morris.
New Jersey. Richard Stockton,
John Hart, John Witherspoon, Abram Clark. Francis Hopkinson,
Pennsylvania. . Robert Morris,
James Smith, Benjamin Rush,
George Taylor, Benjamin Franklin, James Wilson, John Morton,
George Ross. George Clymer,
Delaware. Cesar Rodney,
Maryland. Samuel Chase,
Thomas Stone, William Paca,
Charles Carroll, of Carrollton.