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tion, we find little else but details of hardship and suffering.
Few in number, and scattered over an immense territory, the greatest part of which was a howling wilderness, swarming with inhospitable savages, their wants, their perils and their enemies were many.
United to a foreign nation, they were necessarily entangled in her politics, disturbed by her broils, hated by her enemies and distressed by her wars.
Goshen soon became an object of contention..... France coveted the place assigned for Joseph's brethren to feed their flocks. For more than half a century she strove to obtain it. On the west she encompassed us with a chain of fortresses, and on the east our shores lay defenceless to her carnage. Nothing less was contemplated than the complete extirpation of the Protestants in America, and the establishment of the spiritual jurisdiction of the Ro
To accomplish the more effectually this nefarious purpose, she excited the jealousy of the natives against us, put into the hand of their warriors the instruments of death, designated the families to be butchered, and even rewarded their cruelty, when they had butchered them.
Thus hunted down on the one hand, by hordes of barbarous savages, and pressed on the other by the more barbarous troops of a sanguinary despot, every man's heart fainted, and every man's hands became weak.
Danger encircled every dwelling, and death lurked in every path ! Neither age nor sex furnished the least protection. The groans of the widow sadly echoed from the cottage, and the sighs of the infant floated on the breeze. The labourer was murdered in the field, the slumberer was massacred on his pillow, and the worshipper was slain at the Altar of his God.
These calamities, tho' great, were but the beginning of sorrow. Hitherto we had received some protection from our parent country.
George the second was a father to his colonies. How different the character of his successor ! May we not say, in the language of scripture, that now “ there arose a new king in Egypt that knew not Juseph.”
After the accession of George the third to the throne, Great-Britain adopted a policy towards America cruel and oppressive-A policy which, had it been submitted to, must have enslaved these colonies, and put an end to all their chartered privileges.
The colonists were not insensible of this fe!l design. They saw with indignation the first encroach ment on their liberties. The alarm was instantly sounded. Every citizen awoke to a sense of the common danger, and measures were immediately adopted to ward off the impending blow.
Desirous of peace, and loyal to the British crown, they first addressed his majesty in language of humble petitioners.
But their petitions, like the groanings of Israel in Egypt, only provoked new grievances and drew down heavier burdens upon them. One exorbitant claim was followed by another. A more numerous herd of task-masters were appointed to superintend our labours, tax our industry, and fleece us of our earnings.
Despairing of redress in this way, and finding that insult was only added to injury, and injury to insult, the colonists altered the tone of their address and assumed the attitude of bold and manly resistance. This, however, instead of discouraging, only strengthened Britain in her resolution to enslave her colonies. To this object all her measures were directed, till at length they terminated in open war.
The first blood was shed at Lexington. Never did an event give a more general shock. A sudden thrill passed through the heart of every American. In what manner this contest was to be decided re. mained no longer uncertain. Then the brave NewEnglanders, while the blood streamed from the wounds of their slaughtered brethren, grasped every man his arms and flew to their relief. Then the patriots of America unsheathed their swords, and appealing to Heaven for the justice of their cause, pledged themselves to each other by every thing dear and sacred, never to sheathe them till their country's wrongs were redressed, and her violated rights restored. Thus the veins which Britain opened, nerved the arm of resistance, and qucikened the pulse of independence ; and the first blood she drew from the
hearts of freemen proved the powerful cement of an extensive and indissoluble union.
Forced into war, vast were the difficulties these infant colonies had to encounter ; hard and of long duration were their struggles of liberty. The host of our enemies was numerous, their resources great ; they were skilled in military discipline, distinguished for prowess, and led by experienced generals. To this mighty phalanx we were able to oppose only a rustic band collected on the spur of the occasion from the yeomanry of our country, destitute of arms and ammunition, unaccustomed to war and “having no resources but their valour, and no general but their God."
During the first years of this unequal contest, how gloomy and ill-boding was the aspect of our affairs ! Our embarrassments were numerous ; our sufferings immense. Our cities were burnt or plundered, our fields covered with dead bodies, and our valleys soaked in blood. Of the flower of our country many fell in battle, many perished in prison-ships, and many became the victims of desolating pestilence. Our frontiers lay naked to the stroke of the tomahawk, and our sea-ports were open to the thunder of British cannon. Surrounded by enemies, alarm succeeded to alarm, and disaster to disaster. In the mean time a paper currency, daily depreciating in its value, excited mutual distrust, suspended in a great measure private intercourse, and even palsied the very energies of government. At this awful crisis ! when solicitude sat on every countenance, and anxie
ty wrung every heart ; when America, like Israel upon the brink of the sea, stood trembling, unable to withstand, and having no refuge from her enemies; then the Almighty appeared for the deliverance of his suffering people. The arm of Omnipotence stretched down from heaven, smote the wave that was overwhelming us : it divided ; and we passed through into a new world, from which our feet were to return no more into the land of oppression.
Now commenced a new era in the history of Ame. rica. Her independence was acknowledged by Britain ; her triumphs celebrated through the world. This event, tho' it gave a new aspect to our affairs, did not put an end to our trials or embarrassments. The war left us exhausted by exertion, and oppressed with debt. The insufficiency of the old confederation," formed in moments of political enthusiasm, whose bonds were a parchment, and whose commands a request,”* now became manifest. A dark cloud again overspread the horizon of liberty, and every thing boded evil. Discontent under heavy taxation prevailed among individuals. One state was distracted by insurrection, and each pursued a policy peculiar to itself. On every side were jaring interests and clashing claims. The energies of gov. ernment, already too feeble, were evidently relaxing, the bonds of the union bursting assunder and the whole system tending to dissolution. But he who had led us through the sea did not forsake us in the wilderness. The pillar of divine glory still rested on
* Dr. Dwight's Sermon,