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the inhabitants of our frontiers the merci- All political connexion between Great „ess Indian savages, whose, known rule of Britain and her colonies being dissolved, the warfare is an undistinguished destruction institution of new forms of government de of all ages, sexes, and conditions. came unavoidable. The necessity of this
" In every stage of these oppressions we was so urgent, that congress, before the have petitioned for redress in the most hum- declaration of independence, had recomble terms. Our repeated petitions have mended to the respective assemblies and been answered only by repeated injury. A conventions of the United States to adopt prince, whose character is thus marked by such governments as should, in their opinion, every act which may define a tyrant, is unfit best conduce to the happiness and safety to be the ruler of a free people.
of their constituents. During more than “Nor have we been wanting in attention twelve months the colonists had been held to our British brethren. We have warned together by the force of ancient habits, and them from time to time of attempts made by laws under the simple style of recomby their legislature, to extend an unwarrant- mendations. The impropriety of proceeding able jurisdiction over us. We have remind- in courts of justice by the authority of a ed them of the circumstances of our emi- sovereign against whom the colonies were gration and settlement here. We have ap- in arms, was self-evident. The impossibility pealed to their native justice and magnan- of governing for any length of time, three imity, and we have conjured them, by the millions of people, by the ties of honor, ties of our common kindred, to disavow without the authority of law, was equally these usurpations, which would inevitably apparent. The rejection of British soveinterrupt our connexions and correspond- reignty therefore drew after it the necessity ence. They too have been deaf to the voice of fixing on some other principle of governof justice and of consanguinity. We must, ment. The genius of the Americans, their therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which republican habits and sentiments, naturally denounces our separation, and hold them as led them to substitute the majesty of the we hold the rest of mankind, enemies in people in lieu of discarded royalty. The war, in peace, friends.
kingly office was dropped, but in most of “We, therefore, the representatives of the the subordinate departments of government, United States of America, in general con- ancient forms and names were retained. gress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Such a portion of power had at all times Judge of the world for the rectitude of our been exercised by the people and their reintentions, do, in the name and by authority presentatives, that the change of sovereignty of the good people of these colonies, solemnly was hardly perceptible, and the revolution publish and declare, that these united colo- took place without violence or convulsion. nies are, and of right ought to be, FREE and Popular elections elevated private citizens INDEPENDENT STATES; that they are absolv- to the same offices which had formerly been ed from all allegiance to the British crown; conferred by royal appointment. The people and that all political connexion between felt an uninterrrupted continuation of the them and the state of Great Britain is and blessings of law and government under old ought to be totally dissolved; and that, as names, though derived from a new sovefree and independent states, they have full reignty, and were scarcely sensible of any power to levy war, conclude peace, contract change in their political constitution. The alliances, establish commerce, and to do all checks and balances which restrained the other acts and things which independent popular assemblies under the royal governstates may of right do. And for the support ment, were partly dropped and partly reof this declaration, with a firm reliance on tained, by substituting something of the the protection of Divine Providence, we same kind. The temper of the people would mutually pledge to each other our lives, our not permit that any one man, however exfortunes, and our sacred honor.
alted by office, or distinguished by abilities, “ John HANCOCK, President." should have a negative on the declared NEW GOVERNMENT ARRANGEMENTS. sense of a majority of their representatives;
From the promulgation of this declara- but the experience of all ages had taught tion, everything assumed a new form. The them the danger of lodging all power in one Americans no longer appeared in the char-body of men. A second branch of legislaacter of subjects in arms against their sove- ture, consisting of a few select persons, reign, but as an independent people, repel- under the name of senate or council
, was ling the attacks of an invading foe. The therefore constituted in eleven of the thirpropositions and supplications for reconcilia- teen states, and their concurrence made tion were done away. The dispute was necessary to give the validity of law to the brought to a single point, whether the late acts of a more numerous branch of popular British colonies should be conquered prov- representatives. New-York and Massachuinces, or free and independent states. sets went one step further. The former
constituted a council of revision, consisting corner, and disturbed the peace and harmony of the governor and the heads of judicial of neighborhoods. By making the business departments, on whose objecting to any pro- of government the duty of every man, it posed law, a reconsideration became neces- drew off the attention of many from the sary, and unless it was confirmed by two- steady pursuit of their respective businesses. thirds of both houses, it could have no ope- The state of Pennsylvania also adopted ration. A similar power was given to the another constitution peculiar to itself, under governor of Massachusets: Georgia and the denomination of a council of censors. Pennsylvania were the only states whose These were to be chosen once every seven legislature consisted of only one branch. years, and were authorized to inquire whether Though many in these states, and a majority the constitution had been preserved; whether in all the others, saw and acknowledged the the legislative and executive branch of govpropriety of a compounded legislature, yet ernment had performed their duty, or asthe mode of creating two branches out of a sumed themselves, or exercised other or homogeneous mass of people, was a matter greater powers than those to which they of difficulty. No distinction of ranks existed were constitutionally entitled: to inquire in the colonies, and none were entitled to whether the public taxes had been justly any rights, but such as were common to all. laid and collected, and in what manner the Some possessed more wealth than others, public moneys had been disposed of, and but riches and ability were not always asso- whether the laws had been duly executed. ciated. Ten of the eleven states, whose However excellent this institution may aplegislatures consisted of two branches, or- pear in theory, it is doubtful whether in dained that the members of both should be practice it will answer any valuable end. It elected by the people. This rather made most certainly opens a door for discord, and two co-ordinate houses of representatives, furnishes abundant matter for periodical althan a check on a single one, by the mode-tercation. Either from the disposition of ration of a select few. Maryland adopted its inhabitants, its form of government, or a singular plan for constituting an inde- some other cause, the people of Pennsylpendent senate. By her constitution, the vania have constantly been in a state of ferinembers of that body were elected for five mentation. The end of one public controyears, while the members of the house of versy has been the beginning of another. delegates held their seats only for one. The From the collision of parties, the minds of number of senators was only fifteen, and the citizens were sharpened, and their acthey were all elected indiscriminately from tive powers improved; but internal harmony the inhabitants of any part of the state, ex- has been unknown. Those who were out cepting that nine of them were to be resi- of place so narrowly watched those who dents on the west, and six on the east side were in, that nothing injurious to the public of the Chesapeak Bay. They were elected could be easily effected; but from the flucroi immediately by the people, but by elec- tuation of power, and the total want of pertors, two from each county, appointed by the manent system, nothing great or lasting could inhabitants for that sole purpose. By these with safety be undertaken, or prosecuted to regulations, the senate of Maryland consist-effect. Under all these disadvantages the ed of men of influence, integrity, and abili- state flourished, and from the industry and tes; and such as were a real and beneficial ingenuity of its inhabitants, acquired an uncheck on the hasty proceedings of a more rivalled 'ascendency in arts and manufacnumerous branch of popular representatives. tures. This must, in a great measure, be The laws of that state were well digested, ascribed to the influence of habits of order and its interests steadily pursued, with a and industry, that had long prevailed. peculiar unity of system; while elsewhere The Americans agreed in appointing a it too often happened, in the Auctuation of supreme executive head to each state, with public assemblies, and where the legislative the title either of governor or president. department was not sufficiently checked, They also agreed in deriving the whole that passion and party predominated over powers of government, either mediately or principle and public good.
immediately, from the people. In the eastPennsylvania, instead of a legislative ern states, and in New-York, their governcouncil or senate, adopted the expedient of ors were elected by the inhabitants, in their publishing bills after the second reading, for respective towns or counties, and in the the information of the inhabitants. This had other states by the legislatures; but in no its advantages and disadvantages. It pre-case was the smallest title of power exervented the precipitate adoption of new regu- cised from hereditary right. New-York was lations, and gave an opportunity of ascer- the only state which invested its governor taining the sense of the people on those with executive authority without a council. laws by which they were to be bound: but Such was the extreme jealousy of power it carried the spirit of discussion into every which pervaded the American states, that they did not think proper to trust the man The principle of rotation was carried so of their choice with the power of executing far, that in some of the states, public officers their own determinations, without obliging in several departments scarcely knew their him in many cases to take the advice of official duty, till they were obliged to retire such counsellors as they thought proper to and give place to others, as ignorant as they nominate. The disadvantages of the insti- had been on their first appointment. If offitution far outweighed its advantages. Had cers had been instituted for the benefit of the governors succeeded by hereditary right, the holders, the policy of diffusing these a council would have been often necessary benefits would have been proper; but instito supply the real want of abilities; but tuted as they were for the convenience of when an individual had been selected by the public, the end was marred by such frethe people as the fittest person for discharg- quent changes. By confining the objects of ing the duties of this high department, to choice, it diminished the privileges of elecfetter him with a council was either to lessen tors, and frequently deprived them of the his capacity of doing good, or to furnish him liberty of choosing the man who, from prewith a screen for doing evil. It destroyed vious experience, was of all men the most the secrecy, vigor, and dispatch, which suitable. The favorers of this system of the executive power ought to possess ; and rotation contended for it, as likely to preby making government acts the acts of a vent a perpetuity of office and power in body, diminished individual responsibility. the same individual or family, and as a secuIn some states it greatly enhanced the ex-rity against hereditary honors. To this it penses of government, and in all, retarded was replied, that free, fair, and frequent its operations without any equivalent advan- elections were the most natural and proper tages.
securities for the liberties of the people. New-York, in another particular, display- It produced a more general diffusion of ed political sagacity superior to her neigh- political knowledge, but made more smatbors. This was in her council of appoint- terers than adepts in the science of government, consisting of one senator from each ment. of her four great election districts author- As a farther security for the continuance ized to designate proper persons for filling of republican principles in the American vacancies in the executive departments of constitution, they agreed in prohibiting all government. Large bodies are far from hereditary honors and distinction of ranks. being the most proper depositories of the It is not easy to define the power of the power of appointing to offices. The assidu- state legislatures, so as to prevent a clashing ous attention of candidates is too apt to bias between their jurisdiction and that of the the voice of individuals in popular assemblies. general government. On mature deliberaBesides, in such appointments, the responsi- tion it was thought proper, that the former bility for the conduct of the officer is in a should be abridged of the power of forming great measure annihilated. The concur- any other confederation or alliance of layrence of a select few on the nomination of ing on any imposts or duties that might inone, seems a more eligible mode for securing terfere with treaties made by congress—or a proper choice, than appointments made ei- keeping up any vessels of war, or granting ther by one, or by a numerous body. In the letters of marque or reprisals. The powers former case there would be danger of favor- of congress were also defined. Of these itism; in the latter, a modest unassuming the principal were as follows: To have the merit would be overlooked, in favor of the sole and exclusive right of determining on forward and obsequious.
peace and war-of sending and receiving A rotation of public officers made a part ambassadors of entering into treaties and of most of the American constitutions. Fre-alliances-of granting letters of marque quent elections were required by all, but and reprisals in time of war-to be the last several proceeded still farther, and deprived resort on appeal in all disputes between two the electors of the power of continuing the or more states-to have the sole and exclusame office in the same hands, after a spe- sive right of regulating the alloy and value cified length of time. Young politicians of coin-of fixing the standard of weights sudo called from the ord ry walks of and measures-regulating the trade and life, to make laws and institute forms of managing all affairs with the Indiansesgovernment, turned their attention to the tablishing and regulating post-offices-to histories of ancient republics, and the wri- borrow money or emit bills on the credit of tings of speculative men on the subject of the United States—to build and equip a government. This led them into many er- navy—to agree upon the number of land rors, and occasioned them to adopt opinions, forces, and to make requisitions from each unsuitable to the state of society in America, state for its quota of men, in proportion to and contrary to the genius of real republic- the number of its white inhabitants. anism.
On the fourth day after the arrival of the
British off Sandy Hook, congress ratified, which had resulted from their having been the declaration of independence; it was permitted to land and fortify themselves in published at the head of the American ar- Boston. The sudden commencement of hosmy, and though they were eye-witnesses tilities in Massachusets, together with the of the immense force which was preparing previous undisturbed landing of the royal to act against them, both officers and pri- army, allowed no time for deliberating on a vates gave every evidence of their hearty system of war. A change of circumstances approbation of the decree which severed the indicated the propriety of fixing on a plan colonies from Great Britain, and submit- for conducting the defence of the new-formted to the decision of the sword, whether ed states. On this occasion general Washthey should be free states or conquered prov- ington, after much thought, determined on a inces.
war of posts. This mode of conducting PREPARATIONS FOR THE DEFENCE OF. military operations gave confidence to the NEW-YORK.
Americans, and besides, it both retarded and It had early occurred to general Wash- alarmed their adversaries. The soldiers in ington, that the possession of New-York the American army were new levies, and would be with the British a favorite object. had not yet learned to stand uncovered beIts central situation and contiguity to the fore the instruments of death; habituating ocean enabled them to carry with facility them to the sound of fire-arms, while they the war to any part of the sea-coast. The were sheltered from danger, was one step possession of it was rendered still more towards inspiring them with a portion of valuable by the ease with which it could be mechanical courage. The British rememmaintained. Surrounded on all sides by bered Bunker's Hill, and had no small reverwater, it was defensible by a small numberence for even slight fortifications, when deof British ships, against adversaries whose fended by freemen. From views of this whole navy consisted only of a few frigates. kind, works were erected in and about NewHudson's river being navigable for ships of York, on Long-Island, and the heights of the largest size to a great distance, afford- Haerlem. These, besides batteries, were ed an opportunity of severing the eastern field redoubts, formed of earth, with a parafrom the more southern states, and of pre- pet and ditch. The former were sometimes venting almost any mmunication between fraised, and the latter palisadoed, but they them.
were in no instance formed to sustain a siege. From these well-known advantages, it Slight as they were, the campaign was nearwas presumed by the Americans, that the ly wasted away before they were so far reBritish would make great exertions to ef- duced, as to permit the royal army to penefect the reduction of New-York. General trate into the country. Lee, while the British were yet in posses- The war having taken a more important sion of the capital of Massachusets, had been turn than in the preceding year had been detached from Cambridge, to put Long-Isl- foreseen, congress, at the opening of the and and New-York into a posture of de- campaign, found themselves destitute of a fence. As the departure of the British force sufficient for their defence. They from Boston became more certain, the prob- therefore in June determined on a plan to ability of their instantly going to New-York reinforce their continental army, by bring. increased the necessity of collecting a force ing into the field a new species of troops, for its safety. It had been therefore agreed that would be more permanent than the in a council of war, that five regiments, to- common militia, and yet more easily raised gether with a rifle battalion, should march than regulars. With this view they instiwithout delay to New-York, and that the tuted a Aying camp, to consist of an interstates of New-York and New Jersey should mediate corps, between regular soldiers and be requested to furnish, the former two militia. Ten thousand men were called for thousand, and the latter one thousand men from the states of Pennsylvania, Maryland, for its immediate defence. General Wash- and Delaware, to be in constant service to ington soon followed, and early in April fix- the first day of the ensuing December. Coned his head-quarters in that city. A new gress, at the same time, called for 13,800 of distribution of the American army took place: the common militia from Massachusets, Conpart was left in Massachusets, between two necticut, New-York, and New-Jersey. The and three thousand were ordered to Canada, men for forming the flying camp, were gen but the greater part rendezvoused at New-erally procured, but there were great defiYork.
ciencies of the militia, and many of those Experience had taught the Americans the who obeyed their country's call, manifested difficulty of attacking an army after it had a reluctance to submit to the necessary diseffected a lodgment. They therefore made cipline of camps. strenuous exertions to prevent the British The uncertainty of the place where the from enjoying the advantages in New York, British would commence their operations,
added much to the embarrassments of gene- sacrifice essentials to punctilio; but in this ral Washington.
instance I deemed it a duty to my country ATTEMPTS AT NEGOTIATION. and appointment, to insist on that respect, The two royal commissioners, admiral which in any other than a public view, I and general Howe, thought proper, before would willingly have waived.” Congress they commenced their military operations, applauded his conduct in a public resolution, to try what might be done in their civil ca- and at the same time directed, that no letter pacity, towards effecting a reunion between or message should be received on any occaGreat Britain and the colonies. It was one sion whatever, from the enemy, by the comof the first acts of lord Howe, to send on mander-in-chief, or others the commanders shore a circular letter to several of the royal of the American army, but such as were digovernors in America, informing them of rected to them in the characters they sevethe late act of parliament, "for restoring rally sustained. peace to the colonies, and granting pardon Some time after, adjutant-general Patterto such as should deserve mercy," and de- son was sent to New York by general Howe, siring them to publish a declaration which with a letter addressed to general Washingaccompanied the same. In this he informed ton, &c. &c. &c. On an interview, the adthe colonists of the powers with which his jutant-general, after expressing his high esbrother and he were intrusted, “ of grant- teem for the person and character of the ing general or particular pardons to all those American general, and declaring, that it was who, though they had deviated from their not intended to derogate from the respect allegiance, were willing to return to their due to his rank, expressed his hopes that the duty," and of declaring “any colony, prov- et ceteras would remove the impediments ince, county, or town, port, district, or place, to their correspondence. General Washto be at the peace of his majesty.” Con- ington replied, " That a letter directed to gress, impressed with a belief, that the pro- any person in a public character should have posals of the commissioners, instead of dis- some description of it, otherwise it would uniting the people, would have a contrary appear a mere private letter; that it was effect, ordered them to be speedily published true the et ceteras implied everything; but in the several American newspapers. Had they also implied anything; and that he a redress of grievances been at this late hour should therefore decline the receiving of any offered, though the honor of the states was letter directed to him as a private persen, involved in supporting their late declaration when it related to his public station." A of independence, yet the love of peace, and long conference ensued, in which the adjuthe bias of great numbers to their parent tant-general observed, that the commisstate, would, in all probability, have made a sioners were armed with great powers, and powerful party for rescinding the act of would be very happy in effecting an accomseparation, and for reuniting with Great modation.” He received for answer, " that Britain. But when it appeared that the from what appeared, their powers were only power of the royal commissioners was little to grant pardon ; that they who had commore than to grant pardons, congress ap- mitted no fault wanted no pardon." Soon pealed to the good sense of the people for after this interview, a letter from Howe, rethe necessity of adhering to the act of inde- specting prisoners, which was properly adpendence. The resolution for publishing the dressed to Washington, was received. circular letter, and the declaration of the While the British, by their manifestoes and royal commissioners, assigned a reason there- declarations, were endeavoring to separate of to be," that the good people of the Uni- those who preferred a reconciliation with ted States may be informed of what nature Great Britain from those who were the are the commissioners, and what the terms, friends of independence, congress, by a simiwith expectation of which the insidious court lar policy, was attempting to deach the forof Great Britain had endeavored to amuse eigners, who had come with the royal troops, and disarm them, and that the few who still from the service of his Britannic majesty. remain suspended by a hope, founded either Before hostilities had commenced, the folin the justice or moderation of their late lowing resolution was adopted, and circliking, may now at length be convinced that lated among those on whom it was intended the valor alone of their country is to save to operate: “Resolved, that these states will its liberties."
receive all such foreigners who shall leave About the same time, flags were sent the armies of his Britannic majesty in Ame. ashore by lord Howe, with a letter directed rica, and shall choose to become members to George Washington, Esq. which he re- of any of these states, and they shall be profused to receive, as not being addressed to tected in the free exercise of their respechim with the title due to his rank. In his tive religions, and be invested with the rights, letter to congress on this subject he wrote privileges, and immunities of natives, as es as follows: “I would not on any occasion tablished by the laws of these states; and