William Pitt, the "Great Commoner," determined upon a vigorous prosecution of the war in America. General John Forbes was sent, in 1758, with about nine thousand men to reduce Fort Duquesne. The illness which caused his death in the following year may be fairly accepted in excuse and explanation of the incompetent management of the expedition, and its almost fatal delays. Fortunately the French appeared to have lost the vigor and daring which they had displayed in the defeat of Braddock, and the sullen roar of an explosion, when the British troops were within a few miles of Duquesne, gave notice that it had been abandoned without a blow. General Forbes changed the name of the place to Fort Pitt, in honor of that illustrious minister to whose energetic direction of affairs was largely due the expulsion of the French arms from North America. When Westminster Abbey shall have crumbled over the tombs of Britain's heroes, and the House of Hanover shall have joined the misty dynasties of the past, Pittsburg will remain a monument, growing in grandeur with the progress of ages, to England's great statesman of the eighteenth century.
Louisburg also fell in 1758, and in the following year the English prepared to end the struggle by an attack on Quebec. Pitt placed at the head of the expedition a young general, James Wolfe, who had distinguished himself at the capture of Louisburg. Wolfe had about eight thousand troops under a convoy of twenty-two line-of-battleships, and as many frigates and smaller armed vessels. Montcalm defended the city with about seven thousand Frenchmen and Indians. The heights on which the upper town of Quebec was situated, rising almost perpendicularly at one point of three hundred feet above the river, and extending back in a lofty plateau called the Plains of Abraham, seemed to defy successful attack. Wolfe spent the summer in fruitless efforts to reduce Quebec. At length he learned that the precipice fronting on the river and supposed to be impassable, could be scaled at a point a short distance above the town, where a narrow ravine gave access to the plateau. On the evening of September 12, the British vessels, loaded with troops, floated with the inflowing tide some distance up the river. Then past midnight, while the sky was black with clouds, the ships silently and undetected by the French floated down to the designated landing-place. The troops were taken on shore in flat-bottomed boats, with muffled oars. At dawn Lieutenant-Colonel William Howe led the advance up the ravine, drove back the guard at the summit, and protected the ascent of the army. The garrison and people of Quebec awoke to see the redcoats in battle array on the Plains of Abraham. Montcalm soon confronted the British. Both of the heroic commanders knew and felt all that was at stake on the fate of the day, and they both fought with a courage that gave a splendid example to their men. Wolfe, twice wounded, continued to give orders until mortally wounded he fell. Montcalm fell nearly at the same time, mortally wounded, and his troops, already wavering before the irresistible onset of the British, broke and fled. When told that death was near, "So much the better," said Montcalm, "I will not live to see the surrender of Quebec." "Now, God be praised, I will die in peace," said the English commander, on hearing that victory was assured. Quebec was surrendered a few days later. Forts Niagara and Ticonderoga had already fallen.
Spain, having taken side with France, lost Cuba and the Philippine Islands to the English, but in the treaty of Paris of 1763, England gave those islands to Spain and received Florida in exchange. France ceded to Spain, in order to compensate that power for the loss of Florida, the city of New Orleans, and all the vast and indefinite territory known as Louisiana, stretching from the Gulf of Mexico to the unexplored regions of the northwest. New France was a dream of the past.
The French policy in America had one essential and fatal feature. The French came more as a garrison than as colonists. They came to govern, rather than possess the land, to rule, but not to supplant the natives of the soil. This policy insured some immediate strength, because the Indians were naturally less jealous of Europeans who did not threaten their hunting-grounds. On the other hand the ultimate failure of such a course was inevitable, in dealing as rivals and antagonists with a people who had come to possess the land, to drive out the Indian, to make the New World their home and a heritage for their descendants. The English settlers might be driven back for a time; their cabins might be turned into ashes, and the tomahawk and scalping-knife leave dire evidence of savage vengeance and Gallic inhumanity. But the rally was as certain as the raid was sudden. A garrison might be massacred; a colony could not be exterminated, and the defeats of Braddock and Abercrombie only burned into English breasts the resolution to tear down forever on the American continent the flag which floated over the evidence of England's dishonor.
The Algonquin Indians, who had regarded the French as allies and protectors, were now left to defend themselves against the English. Pontiac, chief of the Ottawas, conceived the idea of inducing all the tribes to unite in a general attack upon the English settlements as a last desperate resort to stay the advance of the whites. Pontiac is supposed to have led the Ottawas who assisted the French in defeating Braddock, and he perhaps underrated the power and prowess of his British antagonists. He was an able chieftain, of the same type as King Philip, Tecumseh and Sitting Bull. He saw that the white man and the red man could not possess the land together, and he determined to make a stand in behalf of his race. The struggle lasted for about two years, attended by the usual barbarities of savage warfare, and ended in the death of Pontiac, who, after suing for peace, was murdered by a drunken Indian, bribed by an English trader with a barrel of rum to commit the deed. Instead of preventing, Pontiac's War only hastened the flight of the Indian and the march of the colonists toward the setting sun.
Causes of the Revolution—The Act of Navigation—Acts of Trade—Odious Customs Laws—English Jealousy of New England—Effect of Restrictions on Colonial Trade—Du Chatelet Foresees Rebellion and Independence—The Revolution a Struggle for More Than Political Freedom.
It was not for the sake of the colonists that England had assisted them in driving the French from America, but with the wholly selfish aim of building up the trade and commerce of Great Britain. European nations looked upon their American colonies simply as resources from which the mother country might become enriched, and in this respect the policy of England was not different from that of Spain, described in the beginning of this volume. As early as 1625 an English author (Hagthorne) wrote that even in time of peace it was the purpose and aim of England to undermine and beat the Dutch and Spaniards out of their trades, "which may not improperly be called a war, for the deprivation and cutting off the trades of a kingdom may be to some prince more loss if his revenues depend thereon than the killing of his armies." The wars against Holland, which resulted in the subjection to the British crown of the colonial possessions of that industrious people, and which compelled the fleets of the United Provinces to acknowledge British supremacy on the high seas, were in the line of commercial aggrandizement, and the Navigation Act transferred to England a large share of the Dutch carrying trade, and enriched English shipowners with an utterly selfish indifference to the welfare of English colonies.
When the colonists, their western bounds no longer threatened by civilized foes, their plantations flourishing and their seaport towns wealthy with the profits of a commerce carried on in contempt of imperial restrictions, began to feel and to assert that they were entitled to all the rights of freeborn Englishmen, and to the same commercial and industrial independence enjoyed by loyal subjects in England, they were surprised to learn that Parliament and the English people regarded them not as freemen, but as tributaries. The colonists were themselves loyal, even up to the hour when they were compelled by stubborn tyranny to assert the right of revolution, for, to quote the language of John Adams, "it is true there always existed in the colonies a desire of independence of Parliament in the articles of internal taxation and internal policy, and a very general, if not universal opinion, that they were constitutionally entitled to it, and as general a determination to maintain and defend it. But there never existed a desire of independence of the Crown, or of general regulations of commerce for the equal and impartial benefit of all parts of the empire." "If any man," said the same great statesman, "wishes to investigate thoroughly the causes, feelings and principles of the Revolution, he must study this Act of Navigation, and the Acts of Trade, as a philosopher, a politician and a philanthropist."
When the Act of Navigation was originally passed, in the Cromwell period, it is probable that the colonies were not seriously in the minds of the people and of Parliament. The act was aimed, as we have before stated, at the Dutch, and was effective for the purposes intended; but within the decade that elapsed before its re-enactment under the Restoration, the colonial trade had grown with a vigor that aroused jealousy and uneasiness at home, and the Act of Navigation was soon followed, in 1663, by the first of the Acts of Trade, which provided that no supplies should be imported into any colony, except what had been actually shipped in an English port, and carried directly thence to the importing colony. This cut the colonies off from direct trade with any foreign country, and made England the depot for all necessaries or luxuries which the colonies desired, and which they could not obtain in America. Nine years later, in 1672, followed another act "for the better securing the plantation trade," which recited that the colonists had, contrary to the express letter of the aforesaid laws, brought into diverse parts of Europe great quantities of their growth, productions and manufactures, sugar, tobacco, cotton, wool and dye woods being particularly enumerated in the list, and that the trade and navigation in those commodities from one plantation to another had been greatly increased, and provided that all colonial commodities should either be shipped to England or Wales before being imported into another colony, or that a customs duty should be paid on such commodities equivalent to the cost of conveying the same to England, and thence to the colony for which they were destined. For instance, if a merchant in Rhode Island desired to sell some product of the colony of Massachusetts in New York, and to forward the same by a vessel, either a bond had to be given that the commodity would be transported to England, or a duty had to be paid, in money or in goods sufficiently onerous to protect the English merchant and shipowner against serious colonial competition in the carrying trade.
The above act was followed up by another providing penalties for attempted violation of the customs laws. In this statute no mention was made of the plantations and its general tenor indicated that it was intended to apply to Great Britain only, providing, as it did, for the searching of houses and dwellings for smuggled goods by virtue of a writ of assistance under the seal of His Majesty's court of exchequer. Under William the Third, who was as arbitrary a monarch toward the colonies as the second James had been, the statute was made directly applicable to the plantation trade, with the provision that "the like assistance shall be given to the said officers in the execution of their office, as by the last-mentioned act is provided for the officers in England." It was on the question of whether such a writ could be issued from a colonial court that James Otis made the famous speech in which he arraigned the commercial policy of England, stripped the veil of reform from the bust of the Stadtholder-King, and awakened the colonists to a throbbing sense of English oppression and of American wrongs—the oration which, in the language of John Adams, who heard it, "breathed into this nation the breath of life."
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It is needless to follow the numerous Acts of Trade in their order, for they were all in a line with the accepted and established principle of that age in England that the colonies should minister to the commercial aggrandizement of the mother country, instead of being the centres of an independent traffic, that they should be communities for the consumption of British manufactures and the feeding of British trade. New England was especially the object of English jealousy and restriction, and for reasons, as given by Sir Josiah Child, in his "New Discourse on Trade," written about the year 1677, that are creditable to the founders of those States, for after speaking of the people of Virginia and the Barbadoes as a loose vagrant sort, "vicious and destitute of means to live at home, gathered up about the streets of London or other places, and who, had there been no English foreign plantation in the world, must have come to be hanged or starved or died untimely of those miserable diseases that proceed from want and vice, or have sold themselves as soldiers to be knocked on the head, or at best, by begging or stealing two shillings and sixpence, have made their way to Holland to become servants to the Dutch, who refuse none," he goes on to describe "a people whose frugality, industry and temperance and the happiness of whose laws and institutions, do promise to themselves long life, with a wonderful increase of people, riches and power." But, after paying this probably reluctant tribute to New England virtue and industry, he frankly avows his full sympathy with the restrictive system, and adds that "there is nothing more prejudicial and in prospect more dangerous to any mother kingdom than the increase of shipping in her colonies, plantations and provinces." It is no wonder that John Adams said that he never read these authors without being set on fire, and that at last the same fire spread to every patriotic breast.
The Acts of Navigation and of Trade were not the dead letters that some superficial writers and readers have seen fit to term them. It is true that obedience was reluctant and slow, and that evasion was extensive, and it is also true, that colonial commerce flourished in spite of the restrictions; but it should be remembered that the prolonged wars in which England was engaged gave lucrative opportunities for privateering, and that even the customs duties, though intended to be virtually prohibitory, were not heavy enough to overcome the advantages which the colonists enjoyed. In Rhode Island the General Assembly asserted and maintained the right to regulate the fees of the customs officers, and, as far as was possible, the collection of the dues. The shipping of the colony rapidly increased, and in 1731 included two vessels from England, as many from Holland and the Mediterranean, and ten or twelve from the West Indies, and ten years later numbered one hundred and twenty vessels engaged in the West Indian, African, European and coasting trade. The period preceding the Revolution witnessed New England's greatest commercial prosperity, and it was in that age that Moses Brown and other enterprising merchants and shipowners laid the foundation of fortunes, a liberal share of which has been expended with illustrious munificence in monuments of learning, of art and of charity. As for the restrictions upon domestic industry, they were not severely felt among a people devoted, in the country to agriculture, and in the towns to local traffic and shipping, and the American farmer who wore homespun attire, did not realize the harshness or appreciate the purpose of the statute which prohibited the export of wool, or woolen manufactures. As for the Southern planter, the question of fostering domestic manufactures never entered his thoughts. He raised his tobacco and his cotton, exported them to England, and got what goods he needed there just as his descendants, in a later age, procured the manufactured necessities and luxuries of life from the depots of New England trade.
 "English Free Trade; Its Foundation, Growth and Decline." By Henry Mann.
But even if the British Parliament had never attempted to raise a revenue by taxation in the American colonies, it is probable that in time the restrictions on commerce would have led to revolution, unless rescinded. This was the opinion of the shrewd observer Du Chatelet, who, after France had surrendered her American possessions to Great Britain, said that "they (the chambers of commerce) regard everything in colonial commerce which does not turn exclusively to the benefit of the kingdom as contrary to the end for which colonies were established, and as a theft from the state. To practice on these maxims is impossible. The wants of trade are stronger than the laws of trade. The north of America can alone furnish supplies to its south. This is the only point of view under which the cession of Canada can be regarded as a loss for France; but that cession will one day be amply compensated, if it shall cause in the English colonies the rebellion and the independence which become every day more probable and more near."
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America, if not contented, was quiet under restrictive laws not stringently enforced, and but for the measures initiated by Grenville and Townshend, and approved by the king, the Parliament and the people of England, there would, if the leading American minds of that day were sincere, have been no insurrection in that era against British authority. George the Third is called a tyrant on every recurring Fourth of July, but the nation he ruled was as tyrannical as he, and impartial history cannot condemn the monarch without awarding a greater share of odium to his people, who sustained by their pronounced opinion and through their chosen representatives, every measure for the destruction of the liberties of these colonies, and who began to listen to the dictates of reason and of humanity only when America had become the prison of thousands of England's soldiers, and thousands of others, hired Hessian and kidnapped Briton alike, had been welcomed by American freemen to graves in American soil. The measures which led to war, and the war itself, were inspired and incited by the trading classes, as well as the aristocracy of England, who expected, in the destruction of a powerful commercial and menacing industrial rival, an ample return for the blood and treasure expended in the strife. The American people recognized that the struggle was for commercial and industrial as well as for political independence, and the stand in behalf of American industry was taken long before the scattered colonies met an empire in the field of arms.
Writs of Assistance Issued—Excitement in Boston—The Stamp Act—Protests Against Taxation Without Representation—Massachusetts Appoints a Committee of Correspondence—Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry—Henry's Celebrated Resolutions—His Warning to King George—Growing Agitation in the Colonies—The Stamp Act Repealed—Parliament Levies Duties on Tea and Other Imports to America—Lord North's Choice of Infamy—Measures Of Resistance in America—The Massachusetts Circular Letter—British Troops in Boston—The Boston Massacre—Burning of the "Gaspee"—North Carolina "Regulators"—The Boston Tea Party—The Boston Port Bill—The First Continental Congress—A Declaration of Rights—"Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death!"
Even before peace had been made with France the king's officers in America began to enforce the revenue laws with a rigor to which the colonists had been unaccustomed. Charles Paxton, commissioner of customs in Boston, applied to the Superior Court for authority to use writs of assistance in searching for smuggled goods. These writs were warrants for the officers to search when and where they pleased and to call upon others to assist them, instead of procuring a special search-warrant for some designated place. Thomas Hutchinson, chief justice, and afterward royalist governor and refugee, favored the application, which was earnestly opposed by the merchants and the people generally. "To my dying day," exclaimed James Otis, in pleading against the measure, "I will oppose with all the power and faculties God has given me, all such instruments of slavery on one hand and of villainy on the other." Parliament had authorized the issue of the writs, however, and the custom house officers therefore had the law on their side. Writs were granted, but their enforcement was attended with so many difficulties that the customs authorities virtually gave up this attempt to encroach upon the rights of the people. The next step in provoking the colonists to revolution was the Stamp Act. The object of this enactment was to raise money for the support of British troops and the payment of salaries to certain public officers in the colonies who had depended upon the colonial treasuries for their compensation. In this there was a threefold invasion of colonial rights. Taxation without representation was contrary to a principle recognized for centuries in England, vindicated in the revolution which cost Charles I his head, and upheld in America from the very beginning of the settlements here. Again, while British troops had been welcome as allies in battling against the French and the Indians, they were not desired as garrisons to overawe the free people of the colonies, and finally the colonial officers whom it was proposed to pay from the royal treasury would become the masters instead of servants of the people—or they would be servants only of the king. The purpose of the Stamp Act obviously was to make America the vassal of Great Britain. The act required that legal documents and commercial instruments should be written, and that newspapers should be printed on stamped paper.
 John Adams, in his letter to the President of Congress, July 17, 1780, attributes the outbreak of the Revolution to Hutchinson's course in this and other matters. "He was perhaps the only man in the world," wrote Adams, "who could have brought on the controversy between Great Britain and America in the manner and at the time it was done, and involved the two countries in an enmity which must end in their everlasting separation."
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The people everywhere protested against the tyrannical action of Parliament. Samuel Adams drew up the instructions to the newly elected representatives of Boston to use all efforts against the plan of parliamentary taxation. It was resolved "that the imposition of duties and taxes by the Parliament of Great Britain upon a people not represented in the House of Commons is irreconcilable with their rights." A committee of correspondence was appointed in Massachusetts to communicate with other colonial assemblies, and the idea of union for the common defence began to take firm hold on the public mind. Benjamin Franklin, in the Congress held at Albany in 1754 to insure the aid of the Six Nations in the war then breaking out with France, had proposed a plan of union for the colonies, with a grand council having extensive powers and a president to be appointed by the crown. The plan was not adopted. Adams had written about the same time that "the only way to keep us from setting up for ourselves is to disunite us." Everybody now began to perceive the need of union, which the great intellects of Franklin and Adams had discerned long before.
No influence was so powerful in leading the South to stand side by side with the Northern colonies as that of Patrick Henry, the great orator of Virginia. In the House of Burgesses, in 1765, Mr. Henry introduced his celebrated resolutions against the Stamp Act, as follows:
"Resolved, That the first adventurers and settlers of this his majesty's colony and dominion, brought with them, and transmitted to their posterity, and all other his majesty's subjects, since inhabiting in this, his majesty's said colony, all the privileges, franchises and immunities, that have at any time been held, enjoyed and possessed by the people of Great Britain.
"Resolved, That by two royal charters, granted by King James the First, the colonists, aforesaid, are declared entitled to all the privileges, liberties and immunities of denizens and natural born subjects, to all intents and purposes, as if they had been abiding and born within the realm of England.
"Resolved, That the taxation of the people by themselves, or by persons chosen by themselves to represent them, who can only know what taxes the people are able to bear, and the easiest mode of raising them, and are equally affected by such taxes themselves, is the distinguishing characteristic of British freedom, and without which the ancient constitution cannot subsist.
"Resolved, That his majesty's liege people of this most ancient colony have uninterruptedly enjoyed the right of being thus governed by their own assembly in the article of their taxes and internal police, and that the same hath never been forfeited, or any other way given up, but hath been constantly recognized by the king and people of Great Britain.
"Resolved, therefore, That the General Assembly of this colony have the sole right and power to lay taxes and impositions upon the inhabitants of this colony; and that every attempt to vest such power in any person or persons whatsoever, other than the General Assembly aforesaid, has a manifest tendency to destroy British as well as American freedom."
On the back of the paper containing those resolutions, and found among Henry's papers after his death, was the following endorsement in the handwriting of Mr. Henry himself: "The within resolutions passed the House of Burgesses in May, 1765. They formed the first opposition to the Stamp Act, and the scheme of taxing America by the British Parliament. All the colonies, either through fear or want of opportunity to form an opposition, or from influence of some kind or other, had remained silent. I had been for the first time elected a burgess, a few days before; was young, inexperienced, unacquainted with the forms of the House, and the members that composed it. Finding the men of weight averse to opposition, and the commencement of the tax at hand, and that no person was likely to step forth, I determined to venture, and alone, unadvised and unassisted, on a blank leaf of an old law book wrote the within. Upon offering them to the House, violent debates ensued. Many threats were uttered, and much abuse cast upon me by the party for submission. After a long and warm contest, the resolutions passed by a very small majority, perhaps of one or two only. The alarm spread throughout America with astonishing quickness, and the ministerial party were overwhelmed. The great point of resistance to British taxation was universally established in the colonies. This brought on the war, which finally separated the two countries, and gave independence to ours. Whether this will prove a blessing or a curse will depend upon the use our people make of the blessings which a gracious God hath bestowed on us. If they are wise, they will be great and happy. If they are of a contrary character, they will be miserable—Righteousness alone can exalt them as a nation.
"Reader, whoever thou art, remember this; and in thy sphere practice virtue thyself, and encourage it in others.—P. HENRY."
Every American realized the truth expressed in Mr. Henry's resolutions; but no man beside himself dared to utter it. All wished for independence; and all hitherto trembled at the thought of asserting it. Randolph, Bland, Pendleton and Wythe, with "all the old members whose influence in the House had, till then, been unbroken," opposed the resolutions, and had not Henry's unrivalled eloquence supported them, they would have been strangled in their birth. "The last and strongest resolution was carried by a single vote;" and Peyton Randolph said, immediately after, "I would have given 500 guineas for a single vote!" From this we may easily imagine how spirited was the opposition, and how energetic the eloquence exerted against Henry. It was in the midst of this magnificent debate, while he was descanting on the tyranny of the obnoxious act, that he exclaimed in a voice of thunder, and with the look of a god, "Caesar had his Brutus—Charles the First his Cromwell—and George the Third—('Treason,' cried the Speaker—'treason, treason,' echoed from every part of the House—it was one of those trying moments which is decisive of character—Henry faltered not for an instant; but rising to a loftier attitude, and fixing on the Speaker an eye of the most determined fire, he finished his sentence with the firmest emphasis) may profit by their example. If this be treason, make the most of it."
 Wirts' "Life of Patrick Henry," pages 64, 65.
On the following day, when Henry was absent, the more timid asserted themselves and the most important of the resolutions was reconsidered and expunged.
A congress held at New York declared against, the Stamp Act, and sent a protest to Parliament. Americans would not buy or use the stamps, and those who undertook agencies for their sale were treated as public enemies. Boxes of stamped paper were burned on arrival in port; the newspapers ignored the act, and legal documents were, by general consent, treated as valid without the stamp. In the following year Parliament, after a prolonged debate, in which William Pitt earnestly supported the American cause, repealed the act. The news of the repeal was received with great rejoicing in America, and the colonists hoped that there would be no more attempts to invade their rights as English subjects.
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King George III., however, was bent upon reducing the colonists to abject submission to his will, and the fact that William Pitt, whom the king detested, had championed the Americans, made the monarch all the more obstinate in his purpose to humiliate them. In 1767 Charles Townshend, chancellor of the exchequer, carried through Parliament a bill putting a duty upon tea, glass, paper and other articles entering American ports. In connection with this measure the scheme of the British crown to reduce the colonies to a vassal condition was fully disclosed. Not only were troops to be supported out of the revenue thus raised, but the salaries of governors, judges and crown attorneys were to be paid from it, and any surplus remaining could be used by the king to pension Americans who had gained the royal grace by their subserviency. Townshend suddenly died after these measures had been adopted, and was succeeded by Lord North, who soon afterward became prime minister. North was not personally in favor of dealing harshly with the colonies, but he yielded to the royal will as the price of remaining in office, and shares in history the infamy of his master's course.
The Americans began to concert measures of resistance. They refused to use the dutiable articles, and made it unprofitable to import them. The Massachusetts legislature was dissolved by order of the king, because it had sent a circular-letter to other colonies inviting common action against the aggressions of Parliament. Other colonial assemblies were dissolved by the king's governors because they answered the letter favorably. The people's representatives continued to attend to the people's interests in informal conventions, and had the more time to give to the overshadowing issue of colonial rights, because royal displeasure had relieved them from the ordinary business of law making. Boston and Richmond worked in harmony in the one great cause, and North and South forgot social and religious differences in common effort for the common weal.
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King George regarded Massachusetts as the hotbed and centre of colonial discontent, and in the autumn of 1768 he sent two regiments of British regulars to that city to assist in enforcing the Townshend acts. The troops and the citizens had frequent disputes, for the colonists were unused to military arrogance, and refused to be ordered about by martinets in uniform. The Boston Massacre, so-called, in March, 1770, when seven soldiers fired into a crowd of townspeople, killing five and wounding several others, helped to inflame the antagonism between the provincials and the military, and Governor Hutchinson, at the demand of Samuel Adams, speaking in behalf of three thousand resolute citizens, removed the troops to an island in the harbor. In April, 1770, Parliament again yielded to the Americans in so far as to take off all the Townshend duties except the duty on tea, which the king insisted upon retaining as a vindication of England's right to impose the duty.
The colonists continued as determined as ever not to submit to British taxation, or to the domineering course of the king's officers, which in some of the provinces had led to harsh and even bloody strife between the people and their oppressors. An armed schooner in the British revenue service called the Gaspee, gave offence to American navigators on Narragansett Bay by requiring that their flag should be lowered in token of respect whenever they passed the king's vessel. The Gaspee ran aground while chasing a Providence sloop. Word of the mishap was carried up to Providence and, on the same night (June 9, 1772) sixty-four armed men went down in boats, attacked and captured the Gaspee, and burned the vessel. Abraham Whipple, afterward a commodore in the Continental Navy, and one of the founders of the State of Ohio, led the expedition. The royal authorities were greatly exasperated on hearing of the daring achievement, and Joseph Wanton, Governor of Rhode Island, afterward deposed from office for his loyalty to King George, issued a proclamation ordering diligent search for the perpetrators of the act. The British government offered a reward of $5000 for the leader, but although the people of Providence well knew who had taken part in the exploit, neither Whipple nor his associates were betrayed. In North Carolina insurgents calling themselves "Regulators" fought a sanguinary battle with Governor Tryon's troops, and were defeated, and six of them hanged for treason. In South Carolina the people also divided on the issue between England and the colonists, but for the time stopped short of violence.
The famous "Boston Tea Party" occurred in December, 1773. This was not a riotous, or, from the colonial standpoint, a lawless act, for the colonists were already administering their own affairs to a certain extent independently of royal authority, with the view to the preservation and defence of their liberties. The English East India Company had been anxious to regain the American trade and offered to pay an export duty more than equivalent to the import duty imposed in America, if the government would permit tea to be delivered at colonial ports free of duty. To this the British government would not consent, on the ground that it would be a surrender of the principle which the import duty represented. The government permitted the East India Company, however, to export tea to America free from export duty, thus allowing the Americans to buy tea as cheaply as if no import duty had been levied. The British authorities assumed that Americans would be satisfied to sell the principle for which they were contending for threepence on a pound of tea. They learned the American character better when two ships laden with tea arrived in Boston. The citizens gathered in the old South Meeting-house, and in the evening about sixty men, disguised as Indians, boarded the ships and cast the tea into the harbor. Upon news of this event reaching England, King George and his ministers decided to make an example of Boston. A bill was introduced by Lord North and passed almost unanimously closing the port of Boston and making Salem the seat of government. Another act annulled the charter of Massachusetts, and a military governor, General Thomas Gage, was appointed, with absolute authority over the province.
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With the enactment of the Boston Port Bill, King George and his Parliament crossed the Rubicon. America was aflame. The other colonies joined in expressing their sympathy with Massachusetts, and their resolve to stand by her people and share their fate. A Continental Congress convened in Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia, on the fourth of September, 1774. The most eminent men in the colonies were now brought together for the first time to decide upon action which would affect the liberties of three millions of people. Patrick Henry was the first to speak, and he delivered an address worthy of his fame and worthy of the occasion. Colonel, afterward General Washington, then made the impression which earned for him the command of the American armies. The Congress drew up a Declaration of Rights, and sent it to the king. The people of Massachusetts formed a Provincial Congress with John Hancock for President, and began organizing provincial troops, and collecting military stores. Virginia continued to keep pace with Massachusetts. At a convention of delegates from the several counties and corporations of Virginia, held in Richmond, March, 1775, Patrick Henry stood resolutely forth for armed resistance. "Three millions of people," he said, "armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat, but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged. Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable—and let it come!! I repeat it, sir, let it come!!!
"It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter. Gentlemen may cry peace, peace—but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north, will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God!—I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!"
The Battle of Lexington—The War of the Revolution Begun—Fort Ticonderoga Taken—Second Continental Congress—George Washington Appointed Commander-in-chief—Battle of Bunker Hill—Last Appeal to King George—The King Hires Hessian Mercenaries—The Americans Invade Canada—General Montgomery Killed—General Howe Evacuates Boston—North Carolina Tories Routed at Moore's Creek Bridge—The Declaration of Independence—The British Move on New York—Battle at Brooklyn—Howe Occupies New York City—General Charles Lee Fails to Support Washington —Lee Captured—Washington's Victory at Trenton—The Marquis De Lafayette Arrives.
General Gage, military governor of Massachusetts, received orders in April, 1775, to arrest John Hancock and Samuel Adams and send them to England to be tried for treason. The two patriots were at the house of a friend in Lexington when Gage, on the evening of April 18, sent eight hundred British soldiers from Boston to seize military stores at Concord, and to arrest Adams and Hancock at Lexington. Paul Revere, a patriotic engraver, rode far in advance of the troops to warn the people of their coming. When the soldiers reached Lexington at sunrise they were confronted by armed yeomanry drawn up in battle array. The British fired, killing seven men. The War of the Revolution was begun. From near and far the farmers hastened to attack the troops. Every wall concealed an enemy of the British; from behind trees and fences a deadly fire was poured into their ranks. Their track was blazed with dead and wounded, as they hurried back from Concord, disappointed in the objects of their mission. Gage heard of the rising, and hurried reinforcements to the assistance of his decimated and almost fugitive soldiery, and with a loss of nearly three hundred men they re-entered Boston. From all parts of Massachusetts, from Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode Island, the provincials hastened to face the invaders, and an army of sixteen thousand men of all sorts, conditions and colors, but most of them hardy New Englander farmers, besieged Governor Gage in Boston. Joseph Warren, John Stark, Israel Putnam and Benedict Arnold were among the leaders of the patriot forces. Ethan Allen, chief of the "Green Mountain Boys," demanded and obtained the surrender of Fort Ticonderoga "by the authority of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress" (May 10) and Seth Warner captured Crown Point two days later.
The second Continental Congress met at Philadelphia the same day that Fort Ticonderoga was taken. The Congress chose for its president John Hancock, whom the British government wanted to try for treason, assumed direction of the troops encamped at Cambridge, and called upon Virginia and the middle colonies for recruits. George Washington was appointed to command the American forces.
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The battle of Bunker Hill proved to the British that the skill and courage which had been displayed with signal success against the French could be used with equal effect against British troops. General Gage had determined to seize and fortify points in the neighborhood of Boston in order to strengthen his hold upon the city, and to enable him to resist a siege. This purpose of the British commander becoming known to the Massachusetts Committee of Safety, the Committee ordered Colonel William Prescott, with one thousand men, including a company of artillery with two field-pieces, to occupy and fortify Bunker Hill. The force ascended Breed's Hill, much nearer Boston, on the evening of June 16. They worked all night under the direction of an engineer named Gridley, and in the morning the British on their vessels in the Charles River were surprised to see on a hill which had been bare the previous day a redoubt about eight rods square, flanked on the right by a breastwork which extended in a northerly direction to some marshy land, and which commanded both the city and the shipping. The guns of the fleet were quickly turned on the bold provincials, and the roar of cannon awoke the citizens of Boston to behold a conflict in which they had the deepest interest. The Americans continued to work under the shower of shot and shell, strengthening their fortifications for the desperate struggle they felt was at hand. General Artemas Ward, who commanded the colonial army, was not as prompt as he ought to have been in sending reinforcements to Breed's Hill, but at length Stark's New Hampshire regiment and Colonel Reed's regiment were permitted to join the men in the redoubt. The British sent 3000 of their best troops to carry the works by assault. Thousands of the people of Boston and neighborhood, many of whom had fathers, sons, brothers and husbands in the patriot lines, looked from hill and housetop and balcony as the regulars marched steadily to the attack. At the redoubt all was silent, although the British ships and a battery on Copp's Hill hurled shots at the Americans. Nearer and nearer marched the British. They were almost close enough for the final charge, when suddenly at the word "Fire!"—up sprang 1500 Americans and poured a storm of bullets into the advancing enemy. Down went the British platoons as before the scythe of death. Whole companies were swept away. The survivors could not stand before the deadly hail, and back they fell to the shore. Some shots had been fired at the British from houses in Charlestown, and General Gage gave orders to fire that place. The British advanced again, the flames from the burning town adding to the terror of the scene. Again the hurricane of bullets drove them back to the shore. Strengthened by fresh troops the British marched up a third time to the hillside now scattered with their dying and their dead. British artillery planted as near as possible to the Americans swept the redoubt and the patriots, their ammunition failing at this critical time, were obliged to give way before the overwhelming charge of the grenadiers. The Americans escaped in good order across Charlestown Neck, losing General Joseph Warren, who fell when leaving the redoubt. Colonel Prescott was in command throughout the engagement, although both General Warren and General Israel Putnam had taken a gallant part in the battle, but without any command. The fight lasted about two hours, and the British lost 1054 killed and wounded out of about 3000 troops engaged, and the provincials lost 450 killed and wounded. The British ministry looked on the result as virtually a defeat for their troops.
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Washington reached Cambridge on the second of July. He found the spirit of the troops admirable, but their discipline wretched, and the leaders divided by dissension in regard to the commands. He labored assiduously and successfully to bring order out of comparative chaos. The Congress made another effort to prevent a conflict with Great Britain by sending a respectful statement of America's case in a petition to the King. He refused to receive it, and issued a proclamation calling for troops to put down the rebellion in America. King George showed how little he regarded humanity in dealing with his revolted subjects by appealing to semi-barbarous Russia for troops to use against the colonists. The Empress Catharine refused to sell her people for such a purpose, and the British monarch then turned to the petty princes of Germany, where he bought 20,000 soldiers like so many cattle for the American war. As many of these were from Hesse Cassel, they were known as Hessians. It being now evident that a peaceable arrangement, short of abject surrender, could not be hoped for, the Continental Congress prepared to push the war with vigor, and if possible to secure a union of all British America against the enemy of American liberty.
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The invasion of Canada in the latter part of 1775 by American expeditions under command of General Richard Montgomery and Colonel Benedict Arnold, was prompted by expectation that the French inhabitants of that region would gladly espouse the cause of the colonists, for whom they had shown sympathy when the people Of Boston were in distress on account of the closing of their port. Only a few Canadians rallied to the American standard; the majority remained indifferent. Montgomery captured Montreal, but in the attack on Quebec he was slain, and Arnold wounded in the leg, and the Americans were defeated with a loss of about four hundred killed, wounded and prisoners. The death of Montgomery was a severe blow to the American cause. He was one of the ablest commanders in the service at a time when the colonists were much in need of practiced military men, and even in England he was held in high regard. "Curse on his virtues," said Lord North; "they've undone his country."
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In March, 1776, General William Howe evacuated Boston and sailed to Halifax, taking with him a number of refugees. Howe busied himself in Halifax in fitting out a powerful expedition for the capture of New York, where the people had taken up with enthusiasm the cause of the colonies. Late in April General Washington moved to New York and prepared to defend that city. Meantime Lord Dunmore, royal governor of Virginia, after endeavoring to excite an insurrection of the slaves, had been conducting a predatory and incendiary warfare against the colony, until driven away by the militia, when he sailed off in a fleet loaded with plunder. In North Carolina, where an association of patriots had declared for independence at Mecklenburg as early as May, 1775, a severe battle occurred at Moore's Creek Bridge, February 26, 1776, between the patriots, led by Colonel James Moore, and the loyalists or Tories, many of whom had fought for the Young Pretender in Scotland, but were now equally devoted to the House of Hanover. The Tories were completely routed, and the plans of the British to make North Carolina a centre of royalist operations were disconcerted.
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The Declaration of Independence was now inevitable. Many of the colonists, including a large proportion of the well-to-do, were unwilling to throw off allegiance to the crown, and these were known as Tories and punished as traitors whenever they gave active expression to their sentiments. The majority of the people, however, were for complete separation from England, and were ready to support that determination with their lives. Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, made a motion in the Continental Congress, June 7, 1776, "that these united colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is and ought to be totally dissolved." John Adams, of Massachusetts, seconded the motion, and a committee was appointed to prepare a Declaration of Independence. Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia, was the author of the Declaration, which, after warm debate, was adopted by the unanimous vote of the thirteen colonies July 4, 1776. On the same day the news arrived that the British commander, Sir Henry Clinton, had been repulsed in an attempt to enter Charleston harbor. North and south the United States were free from the enemy, and although it was but the lull before the storm, the Americans had thus a precious opportunity to put down malcontents and to gather strength for the coming struggle.
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The British formed a plan to cut the Union in two by capturing New York, and establishing a chain of British posts from Manhattan to Canada. While General Carleton operated against the Americans from the Canadian frontier a large British fleet, commanded by Admiral Richard Howe, arrived in the harbor of New York, carrying an army of 25,000 men, led by his brother, General William Howe. The Americans had but 9000 men to defend Brooklyn Heights against the overwhelming force with which Howe attacked their position. The patriot troops, especially the Marylanders, fought gallantly, but were driven back by superior numbers. Great credit is due to Washington for his skill and success in saving the greater part of the army by timely withdrawal across the East River to New York. Howe occupied the city of New York a few days later, Washington retreating slowly, and fighting the British at every favorable opportunity.
It was at the time of Washington's retirement from New York that Nathan Hale, a young American captain, was put to death as a spy by the British. Hale volunteered to seek some information desired by the American commander-in-chief, and was betrayed, within the British lines, by a Tory who recognized him. He was treated most brutally by the British Provost-Marshal Cunningham, being denied the attendance of a clergyman and the use of a Bible. Letters which Hale wrote to his mother and other dear ones were torn up by the provost-marshal in the victim's presence. Hale was hanged September 22, 1776. His last words were "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." These words appear on the base of the statue erected to his memory in the City Hall Park, New York.
General Howe concluded to move on Philadelphia, and his object becoming known to Washington, the latter directed General Charles Lee, who was in command of about 7000 men at Northcastle, on the east side of the Hudson, to join him at Hackensack on the west side, so that the whole force of the Americans could be used to oppose Howe. Lee disregarded these orders, thereby making it necessary for Washington to retreat into Pennsylvania. Lee then led his own troops to Norristown, where he was captured by the British outside of his own lines while taking his ease at a tavern. Lee was an English adventurer of loud pretensions, probably not lacking in courage, but wholly mercenary and unprincipled. That so worthless and dangerous a person should have been trusted with high command in the American army is explained by the dearth of military leaders at the opening of the war. The capture of Lee was fortunate for the Americans, as he was succeeded by General John Sullivan, an excellent officer, who at once led his troops to the assistance of Washington. Thus reinforced the commander-in-chief was enabled to strike a blow at the British which revived the drooping spirits of the patriots.
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The battle of Trenton would not have been so memorable but for the dejected condition of the patriot cause at the time it was fought, and the evidence which it gave to England and the world at large of General Washington's prudent daring and military genius. At twilight on Christmas night, 1776, General Washington prepared to pass the Delaware with 2000 men to attack 1500 of the enemy, chiefly Hessians, who were stationed under the Hessian Colonel Rall at Trenton. It was a dark and bitter night, and the Delaware was covered with floating ice. Boats had been hastily procured, and with much difficulty against the swift current the troops were borne across. A storm of sleet and snow added to the hardship of crossing, and not until four o'clock in the morning did the little army stand on the opposite bank. The Americans advanced in two columns, one led by General Washington, the other by General Sullivan. The Germans had spent Christmas in carousing, and although it was full daylight when the Americans reached Trenton, they were not discovered until they were already on the Hessian pickets. Colonel Rall, aroused from slumber, quickly put his men in fighting order. The battle was quick and sharp. Colonel Rall fell mortally wounded; and the main body of his troops, attempting to retreat, were captured. Some British light horse and infantry escaped, but all the Hessians, their standards, cannon and small-arms, fell into the hands of the Americans. The victory gave new vigor to the friends of independence, depressed the Tories, and astonished the British, who had looked upon the war as virtually over. General Howe was afraid to march upon Philadelphia, lest Washington should cut off his supplies, and for five months longer the invaders remained in the vicinity of New York. The patriots were further encouraged by the arrival in April, 1777, of the Marquis de Lafayette, of General Kalb, known as Baron de Kalb, and other foreign military officers of real merit and sincere devotion to the American cause. These offered their services to the Congress, and received commissions in the Continental army.
Sir John Burgoyne's Campaign—His Bombastic Proclamation—The Tragic Story of Jane McCrea—Her Name a Rallying Cry—Washington Prevents Rowe from Aiding Burgoyne—The Battle of Brandywine—Burgoyne Routed at Saratoga—He Surrenders with All His Army—Articles of Confederation Submitted to the Several States—Effect of the Surrender of Burgoyne —Franklin the Washington of Diplomacy—Attitude of France—France Concludes to Assist the United States—Treaties of Commerce and Alliance —King George Prepares for War with France—The Winter at Valley Forge —Conspiracy to Depose Washington Defeated—General Howe Superseded by Sir Henry Clinton—The Battle of Monmouth—General Charles Lee's Treachery—Awful Massacre of Settlers in the Wyoming Valley—General Sullivan Defeats the Six Nations—Brilliant Campaign of George Rogers Clark—Failure of the Attempt to Drive the British from Rhode Island.
The disastrous campaign of General Sir John Burgoyne in the summer of 1777, against northern New York, was the turning point of the war. The object of the invasion was to seize the Hudson River, and divide the colonies by a continuous British line from Canada to the city of New York. Had the plan succeeded it would have been an almost fatal blow to the cause of independence. Its failure was not due to the courage or skill of any one American commander, but to the indomitable resolution with which every step of the invading army was resisted by Americans of every rank. The whole country rose as one man to oppose and harass the enemy, and it seemed as if every militiaman understood that the fate of his country depended on the repulse or destruction of the foe.
Burgoyne's plan of campaign, as concerted with the British ministry, was to march to Albany with a large force by way of Lakes Champlain and George, while another force under Sir Henry Clinton advanced up the Hudson. At the same time Colonel Barry St. Leger was to make a diversion by way of Oswego, on the Mohawk River. Burgoyne began his advance in June, with about eight thousand men. Proceeding up Lake Champlain he compelled the Americans to evacuate Crown Point, Ticonderoga and Fort Anne. His first blunder was in failing to avail himself of the water carriage of Lake George, at the head of which there was a direct road to Fort Edward. Instead of taking this course he spent three weeks in cutting a road through the woods, and building bridges over swamps. This gave time for General Schuyler to gather the yeomanry in arms, and for Washington to send troops from the southern department to reinforce Schuyler. Burgoyne also lost valuable time in a disastrous attack on Bennington.
Burgoyne issued a proclamation in most bombastic style. In the preamble he stated, besides his military and other distinctions, that he was "author of a celebrated tragic comedy called the 'Blockade of Boston.'" He accused the patriots of enormities "unprecedented in the inquisitions of the Romish Church," and offered to give encouragement, employment and assistance to all who would aid the side of the king. "I have but to give stretch," he concluded, "to the Indian forces under my direction—and they amount to thousands—to overtake the hardened enemies of Great Britain and America. I consider them the same wherever they lurk. If notwithstanding these endeavors and sincere inclination to assist them the frenzy of hostility should remain, I trust I shall stand acquitted in the eyes of God and of men in denouncing and executing the vengeance of the State against the willful outcasts. The messengers of justice and of wrath await them in the field, and devastation, famine, and every concomitant horror that a reluctant but indispensable prosecution of military duty must occasion will bar the way to their return."
While Burgoyne's array was lying near Fort Edward occurred the tragic death of Jane McCrea, celebrated in song and story. Jane was the second daughter of the Reverend James McCrea, a Presbyterian clergyman of Scottish descent, and she made her home with her brother, John, at Fort Edward, New York. John McCrea was a patriot, but Jane had for her lover an officer in Burgoyne's army named David Jones, to whom she was betrothed. Between John McCrea and David Jones an estrangement had arisen on account of their opposite political sympathies, but Jane clung to her affianced. "My dear Jenny," wrote Jones, under date of July 11, 1777, "these are sad times, but I think the war will end this year, as the rebels cannot hold out, and will see their error. By the blessing of Providence I trust we shall yet pass many years together in peace. * * * No more at present, but believe me yours affectionately till death." How faithfully he kept that promise!
Jane McCrea well deserved her lover's devotion. She is described as a young woman of rare accomplishments, great personal attractions, and of a remarkable sweetness of disposition. She was of medium stature, finely formed, of a delicate blonde complexion. Her hair was of a golden brown and silken lustre, and when unbound trailed upon the ground. Her father was devoted to literary pursuits, and she thus had acquired a taste for reading, unusual in one of her age—about twenty-four years—in those early times.
 See "The Burgoyne Ballads," by William L. Stone, from whose narrative this sketch is taken.
When Burgoyne's army was about four miles from Fort Edward, David Jones sent a party of Indians, under Duluth, a half-breed, to escort his betrothed to the British camp, where they were to be married at once by Chaplain Brudenell, Lady Harriet Acland and Madame Riedesel, wife of General Riedesel, in command of the Brunswick contingent, having consented to be present at the wedding. It had been arranged that Duluth should halt in the woods about a quarter of a mile from the house of a Mrs. McNeil where Jane was waiting to join him at the appointed time. Meanwhile it happened that a fierce Wyandotte chief named Le Loup, with a band of marauding Indians from the British camp, drove in a scouting party of Americans, and stopping on their return from the pursuit at Mrs. McNeil's house, took her and Jane captive, with the intention of taking them to the British camp. On their way back Le Loup and his followers encountered Duluth and his party. The half-breed stated his errand, and demanded that Jane be given up to him. Le Loup insisted on escorting her. Angry words followed and Le Loup, in violent passion, shot Jane through the heart. Then the savage tore the scalp from his victim and carried it to the British camp. Mrs. McNeil had arrived at the camp a little in advance, having been separated from Jane before the tragedy. She at once recognized the beautiful tresses. David Jones never recovered from the shock. It is said that he was so crushed by the terrible blow, and disgusted with the apathy of Burgoyne in refusing to punish the miscreant who brought the scalp of Jane McCrea to the camp as a trophy, claiming the bounty offered for such prizes by the British, that he asked for a discharge and upon this being refused deserted, having first rescued the precious relic of his beloved from the savages. Jones retired to the Canadian wilderness, and spent the remainder of his life unmarried, a silent and melancholy man.
The murder of Jane McCrea fired New York. From every farm, from every village, from every cabin in the woods the men of America thronged to avenge her death. Her name was a rallying cry along the banks of the Hudson and in the mountains of Vermont, and "her death contributed in no slight degree to Burgoyne's defeat, which became a precursor and principal cause of American independence."
 Stone, "The Burgoyne Ballads."
The force of about two thousand men, whom Colonel Barry St. Leger led into the forests of what is now Oneida County, met stout resistance, and but for the Indian allies of the British, led by the great Mohawk chief, Joseph Brant, St. Leger's troops would probably have been destroyed or made captive. The fierce battle of Oriskany, in which the brave General Herkimer received a fatal wound, was a patriot victory, but it gave St. Leger a respite. When he heard that Benedict Arnold was approaching with troops sent by General Schuyler, to give him battle, he retreated to Lake Ontario, shattering Burgoyne's hopes of aid from the Tories of the Mohawk Valley. Meanwhile Congress had relieved General Schuyler from command in the North, and appointed Horatio Gates in his place. Gates was not a man of ability, but he was ably seconded in his operations against Burgoyne by Benedict Arnold.
General Howe had intended to take Philadelphia and then co-operate with Burgoyne in inflicting a final and crushing blow on the Americans, but the Fabian strategy of Washington again proved too much for the British. Howe being prevented by Washington from crossing New Jersey with his army, undertook an expedition by sea. He sailed up Chesapeake Bay, marched northward with 18,000 men to Brandywine Creek, and there met Washington with 11,000, on the eleventh of September. The British held the field, but Washington retreated slowly, disputing every foot of ground, and it was not until the twenty-sixth of September that Howe entered Philadelphia. Washington attacked the British encampment at Germantown at daybreak on the fourth of October, and attempted to drive the British into the Schuyikill River. One American battalion fired into another by mistake, and this unhappy accident probably saved the British from another Trenton on a larger scale. Howe was unable to send any assistance to Burgoyne until it was too late to save that commander.
Burgoyne found his progress stopped by the intrenchments of the Americans under General Gates, at Bemis Heights, nine miles south of Saratoga, and he endeavored to extricate himself from his perilous position by fighting. Two battles were fought on nearly the same ground, on September 19, and October 7. The first was indecisive; the second resulted in so complete a rout for the British that, leaving his sick and wounded to the compassion of Gates, Burgoyne retreated to Saratoga. There finding his provisions giving out, and that there was no chance for escape, he capitulated with his entire army, October 17, 1777.
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The Congress had, by common consent, represented national sovereignty from the beginning of the war, but it was not until November 15, 1777, that articles of confederation were approved by the Congress, and submitted to the States. This compact, entitled "Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union," was but little more than a treaty of mutual friendship on the part of the several States, and was not sanctioned by all of them until near the close of the Revolution. It was too weak to be effective in time of peace, and hardly necessary in time of war, when the common danger gave sufficient assurance of fidelity to the common cause. However, the Articles of Confederation undoubtedly promoted confidence in the stability of the government where that confidence was most needed, in the European cabinets adverse to British dominion in America.
The surrender of Burgoyne gave to the American cause a status which it had lacked abroad, and it brought into full and effectual exercise the diplomatic side of the struggle for independence. It was then that Franklin showed himself another Washington. "On the great question of the foreign relations of the United States," says Wharton, "it made no matter whether he was alone or surrounded by unfriendly colleagues; it was only through him that negotiations could be carried on with France, for to him alone could the French government commit itself with the consciousness that the enormous confidences reposed in him would be honorably guarded." France, chiefly through the influence of Franklin, had given covert assistance to the colonies from the beginning of the struggle, but the French ministry hesitated to take a decisive step. Fear that the Americans would succumb, and leave France to bear the weight of British hostility, and apprehension that England might grant the demands of the colonists and then turn her forces against European foes, deterred the French government from avowed support of the American cause. The news from Saratoga gave assurance that America would prove a steadfast as well as a powerful ally, and that with the aid of the United States the British empire might be dismembered, and France avenged for her losses and humiliations on the American continent. Nor was revenge the only motive which led France to cast her lot with the revolted colonies. England was already stretching forth to establish her power in India, and France felt that with North America and India, both subject to the British, the maritime and commercial superiority of England would be a menace to other powers.
France did not act without long and careful premeditation on the part of the French crown and its ministers, for the relations between England and her American colonies had been carefully and acutely considered by the statesmen of Versailles long before the point of open revolt was reached. Even when France concluded to throw her resources into the scale on the side of the United States she did not altogether abandon her cautious attitude. The French government acknowledged the United States as a sovereign and treaty-making power; but while the treaty of commerce of February 6, 1778, was absolute and immediate in its effects, the treaty of alliance of the same date was contingent on war taking place between Great Britain and France. It is interesting to note that Benjamin Franklin was the subject of invective by Arthur Lee and others because at the suggestion of Silas Deane, of Connecticut, he procured a clause in the commercial treaty providing for the exportation of molasses to the United States, free of duty, from the French colonies—the molasses being used to manufacture New England rum. Owing to the objection of Lee this clause was afterward abrogated, and the infant industry of making New England rum had to survive without special protection.
Upon receiving formal notice of the treaties Lord North immediately recalled the British ambassador from Paris, and George III. stated, in bad English, to Lord North (the king spelled "Pennsylvania" "Pensilvania," and "wharfs" "warfs") that a corps must be drawn from the army in America sufficient to attack the French islands. There was a state of partial war without a declaration of war. The naval forces of England and France came into unauthorized collision, and actual war was the result.
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Pending the negotiations with France Washington and his heroic army spent a winter of painful hardship at Valley Forge, about twenty miles from Philadelphia. Half-naked and half-fed, they shivered in the rude huts which they erected, while their commander, if better housed, showed by actions more than words that he felt every pang of his soldiers. Washington's anxiety at this critical period was greatly aggravated by the conspiracy known as "Conway's Cabal," to depose him from the command, and put in his place the pretentious but incapable Gates. This conspiracy was narrowly defeated by the patriotic firmness of the supporters of Washington in Congress, one of whom—William Duer, of New York, an Englishman by birth—had himself carried in a litter to the floor of Congress, at the risk of his life, to give his vote for Washington. Never on the battlefield did he who is justly called the Father of Our Country show such heroism, such fortitude, such devotion to duty as in face of this combination of deluded men to effect his ruin.
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The French alliance was hailed with delight in the United States. George III., who personally controlled military operations, stated his conclusion about a month after the French treaties, and on the day they were formally announced, to act on the defensive, holding New York and Rhode Island, but abandoning Pennsylvania. General William Howe was superseded in command of the British troops by Sir Henry Clinton, who evacuated Philadelphia, departing from that city before dawn of June 18, and starting for New York with about 17,000 effective men. Upon being informed of this movement, Washington hastened after the British. He followed Clinton in a parallel line, ready to strike him at the first favorable opportunity.
When the British were encamped near the courthouse in Freehold, Monmouth County, New Jersey, June 27, Washington made arrangements for an attack on the following morning, should Clinton move. General Charles Lee, who had recently been a prisoner in the hands of the British, was in command of the advance corps. He showed such incapacity and folly in his directions to subordinate and far more competent generals as nearly to wreck the army. His confused and perplexing instructions promoted disorder, chilled the ardor of the troops, and gave the enemy opportunities they never could have gained without this assistance from Lee. As an apparently conclusive blow to the side he pretended to serve Lee ordered a retreat, and the British, from being on the defensive, were speedily in pursuit. Washington's anger, on perceiving the condition of affairs, was terrible. He rebuked Lee with scathing severity, quickly rallied his troops, and checked the pursuing enemy. The Americans, once more in array, confronted their foes. A real battle then followed, with both sides doing their best. Americans and British fought with stubborn courage, the latter at length making a bayonet charge on which depended the fate of the day. They were repulsed with terrible slaughter. The British then retreated a short distance, and both armies rested, the Americans expecting that the conflict would be renewed with dawn. Clinton drew his men off silently under cover of darkness, and was far on his way to New York when the Americans, in the morning, saw his deserted camp. The British lost four officers and 245 non-commissioned officers and privates, besides taking many of the wounded with them. They also lost about 1000 men by desertion while passing through New Jersey. The American loss in the battle of Monmouth was 228 killed, wounded and missing. Many of the missing, who had fled when Lee ordered a retreat, returned to their commands. Lee was superseded and afterward dismissed from the army. It did not come to light until about seventy-five years later, from a document among Sir William Howe's papers, that while a prisoner with the British Lee had suggested to Sir William Howe a plan for subjugating the Americans. This fact throws a flood of light on Lee's conduct at Monmouth.
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A few days after the battle of Monmouth occurred the awful massacre of Wyoming. Tories and Indians, led by Colonel John Butler, descended into the happy valley, inhabited by settlers from Butler's native Connecticut, and spread fire, bloodshed and desolation. Hundreds of men, women and children perished, many of them by torture, and the survivors made their way back through the wilderness to Connecticut. Among the victims of this massacre was Anderson Dana, a direct ancestor of Charles Anderson Dana, the well-known editor. Everywhere throughout the borders Tories and Indians carried fire and death, the British sparing no effort to stir up the tribes to hostility. The patriots suffered terribly, but the ferocity of the savages and of their hardly less savage associates made Americans all the more resolute in resisting and overcoming the foes of American independence. General Sullivan invaded the country of the Six Nations, and inflicted upon them a crushing defeat. In the southwest, the frontiersmen, not content with resisting the enemy, followed them into their wilds, and laid the foundations of new States. In the northwest, Colonel Hamilton, the British commander at Detroit, who was more responsible, perhaps, than any other British officer for inciting the Indians to deeds of barbarity, was defeated and captured by George Rogers Clark, and the whole country north of the Ohio River, from the Alleghanies to the Mississippi, became subject to the United States.
The British still held New York and Newport, and Washington planned to capture the former place with the assistance of a fleet which had arrived from France. Some of the vessels drew too much water, however, to cross the bar, and the scheme was abandoned. The French fleet proceeded to Newport, and compelled the British to burn or sink six frigates in that harbor. An American force of about 10,000 men had been fathered under command of General Sullivan to drive the British out of Rhode Island, and it was expected that the troops, numbering 4000, on board the French fleet, would assist in the undertaking. The French admiral, D'Estaing, failed to support Sullivan, and the latter, with a force reduced by the wholesale desertion of the militia to 6000 men, fought a gallant but losing action with the British, and withdrew to the mainland.
The British Move Upon the South—Spain Accedes to the Alliance Against England—Secret Convention Between France and Spain—Capture of Stony Point—John Paul Jones—The Bon Homme Richard and the Serapis—A Thrilling Naval Combat—Wretched Condition of American Finances— Franklin's Heavy Burden—The Treason of Benedict Arnold—Capture of Andre—Escape of Arnold—Andre Executed as a Spy—Sir Henry Clinton Captures Charleston, General Lincoln and His Army—Lord Cornwallis Left in Command in the South—The British Defeat Gates Near Camden, South Carolina—General Nathaniel Greene Conducts a Stubborn Campaign Against Cornwallis—The Latter Retreats Into Virginia—Siege of Yorktown— Cornwallis Surrenders—"Oh, God; it is All Over!"
Toward the close of 1778, the British undertook to conquer the Southern States, beginning with Georgia, where an expedition by sea would be within reach of aid from the British troops occupying Florida. The American forces in Georgia were weak in numbers, and although bravely led by General Robert Howe, they were unable to resist the British. Savannah fell, and Georgia passed under the rule of the invaders, the royal governor being reinstated. To counterbalance this discouragement news arrived from Europe early in 1779 that Spain had acceded to the Franco-American combination against England. Spain, unlike France, sent no troops to America to assist the patriots, although the hostile attitude of the Spaniards toward Great Britain, and the capture of the British post of St. Joseph by a Spanish expedition from St. Louis, in 1781, aided in strengthening the American cause in the West, and making the British less aggressive in that direction.
Recent disclosures have shown that the secret convention between France and Spain, at this time, was in no sense hostile to American interests, as at first asserted and afterward intimated by the historian Bancroft. On the contrary, Spain bound herself not to lay down arms until the independence of the United States should be recognized by Great Britain, while the condition that Spanish territory held by England should be restored to Spain did not militate against the territorial claims of the United States. It was clearly better for the United States, looking forward to future expansion, that adjoining territory should be held by Spain in preference to England. The history of the past hundred years proves this. Canada remains British, while every foot of former Spanish territory in North America is now part of the United States.
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The summer of 1779 witnessed General Anthony Wayne's memorable exploit, the capture of Stony Point. The fort, situated at the King's Ferry, on the Hudson, stood upon a rocky promontory, connected with the mainland by a causeway across a narrow marsh. This causeway was covered by the tide at high water. Lieutenant-Colonel Johnson commanded the garrison, consisting of a regiment of foot, some grenadiers and artillery. General Wayne led his troops, the Massachusetts light infantry, through defiles in the mountains, and moved on the fort about midnight. The Americans went to the attack in two columns, with unloaded muskets and fixed bayonets. They were unseen until within pistol-shot of the pickets. Undeterred by the hasty discharge of musketry and cannon the Americans pressed on with the bayonet, the two columns meeting in the centre of the fort. The garrison surrendered, and the Americans, after removing the ordnance and stores to West Point, and destroying the works, abandoned the place.
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What American schoolboy's heart does not thrill at the name of John Paul Jones, that redoubtable sailor, who carried the American flag into English seas, and made Britons feel in some degree the injuries their king was inflicting on America! John Paul Jones was a Scotchman by birth; an American by adoption. His original name was John Paul, and he added the name of Jones after taking up his abode in Virginia. As early as 1775, when Congress determined to organize a navy, Jones was commissioned as first lieutenant, and in command of the sloop Providence he made several important captures of British merchant vessels. As commander of the Ranger, in 1777, Jones captured the British man-of-war Drake, made successful incursions on the British coast, and seized many valuable prizes.
In August, 1779, Jones started on a cruise in command of an old Indiaman, which he called, in compliment to Franklin, the Bon Homme Richard. Associated with the Bon Homme Richard were the Alliance and the Pallas, and one smaller vessel officered by Frenchmen, but under the American flag. On September 23, Jones encountered, off Flamborough Head, a fleet of forty British merchantmen, under convoy of the Serapis, Captain Pearson, of forty-four guns, and the Countess of Scarborough, a ship of twenty guns. Regardless of the enemy's strength the American commander gave the signal for battle. Unfortunately Captain Landais of the Alliance was subject to fits of insanity and had been put in command of that ship against the wishes of Jones. Landais failed to obey orders and was worse than useless during the fight. Jones was however gallantly supported by the Pallas, which engaged and captured the Countess of Scarborough, leaving Jones a free field with his principal antagonist, the Serapis. No fiercer naval conflict has been recorded in history. The fight lasted from seven o'clock in the evening until eleven o'clock, most of the time in darkness. The Bon Homme Richard got so close to the Serapis in the beginning of the battle that their spars and rigging became entangled together, and Jones attempted to board the British vessel. A stubborn hand-to-hand struggle ensued, Jones and his men being repulsed. Then the Bon Homme Richard dropped loose from her antagonist, and with their guns almost muzzle to muzzle, the two vessels poured broadsides into each other. The American guns did destructive work, the Serapis catching fire in several places.
About half past nine the moon rose on the fearful conflict. The Bon Homme Richard caught fire at this time, while the water poured in through rents made by British cannon. The two vessels had again come closer, but not so as to prevent the guns from being handled. While the cannon roared and the flames shot up, the two crews again met in desperate hand-to-hand strife, for it was evident that one of the two vessels must be lost. By the light of the flames Jones saw that the mainmast of the Serapis was cut almost in two. Quickly he gave the order, and another double-headed shot finished the work. Captain Pearson, who had commanded his ship most gallantly, hauled down his flag and surrendered. Alluding to the fact that the British government had proclaimed Jones a pirate, Pearson said: "It is painful to deliver up my sword to a man who has fought with a rope around his neck." Jones took possession of the Serapis, and the Bon Homme Richard sank beneath the waves the second day after the engagement. The Congress voted to Jones a gold medal and the thanks of the nation. Franklin's report of October 17, 1779, to the Commissioners of the Navy, giving news of the victory, shows that the American cruisers were causing great devastation to British commerce.
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The exploits of Anthony Wayne and Paul Jones served to lighten the gloom caused by the defeat of General Lincoln in his attempt to recapture Savannah, and by the depressed condition of American finances, which made it difficult to carry on the war. It was the earnest desire of Congress to push the struggle vigorously, and large sums of money were necessary for that purpose. The Continental currency issued under authority of Congress had so decreased in purchasing power as to be almost worthless; the army suffered great distress for lack of clothing and food, and the supply of munitions of war fell far short of military needs. Benjamin Franklin labored unceasingly to meet the incessant drafts upon him as agent of the United States in France, and but for the unbounded confidence which Louis XVI. and his great minister, Vergennes, had in Franklin's assurances, the United States might have been so paralyzed financially as to fall a prey to Great Britain. It was in the midst of this gloom and uncertainty that General Benedict Arnold, the hero of Quebec and Saratoga, sought to sell his country to the British.
An able general and as brave a soldier as wore the American uniform, Arnold was bitterly disappointed because he failed to receive from Congress all the recognition which he thought he deserved. He might not, however, have become a traitor but for his pecuniary difficulties, while undoubtedly the Tory sympathies of his wife, whom he married in Philadelphia in 1778, had a marked influence upon him. In July. 1780, Arnold, at his own request, was appointed by Washington to command West Point, the great American fortress commanding the Hudson River. The capture of West Point by the British would have accomplished for their cause what Burgoyne had failed to achieve—the cutting off of the Northern from the Middle and Southern States, and the establishment of the British in an almost impregnable position on the Hudson. Arnold entered into negotiations with Sir Henry Clinton, the British commander at New York, for the surrender of West Point. For this service Arnold was to be made a brigadier-general in the British army and to receive $50,000 in gold. Major John Andre, adjutant-general of the British army, conducted the correspondence on behalf of Clinton. Andre went up the Hudson in the British sloop of war Vulture, and had a secret meeting with Arnold near Haverstraw. It was arranged between them that Clinton should sail up the Hudson with a strong force and attack West Point, and Arnold, after a show of resistance, would surrender the post. When Andre was ready to go back to New York the Vulture had been compelled to drop down stream, and Andre had to cross the river and proceed on horseback. He was about entering Tarrytown, when a man armed with a gun, sprang suddenly from the thicket, and seizing the reins of his bridle exclaimed: "Where are you bound?" At the same instant two more ran up, and Andre was a prisoner. He offered them gold, his horse and permanent provision from the English government if they would let him escape, but the young men—John Paulding, David Williams and Isaac Van Wart—rejected all his offers, and insisted on taking him to the nearest American post. Andre had a pass from Arnold in which the former was called "John Anderson." Colonel Jameson, commander of the post to which Andre was brought, did not suspect any treason on the part of Arnold, and allowed Andre to send a letter to that general.