« ForrigeFortsett »
sed them, from time to time, of attempts by their legislature to " extend an unwari antable jurisdiction over us. We have rea $ minded them of the circumstances of our emigration and set.
tlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our
common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would “ inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. “ They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consan“ guinity. We must therefore acquiesce in the necessity which 66 denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest “ of mankind, enemies in war, in peace friends. WE, therefore, " the Representatives of the United States of America, in ge6 neral Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of
the world for the rectitude of our intentions, DO, in the “ name, and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, “ solemnly publish and declare, 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 dis" solved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have * full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, e. 6 stablish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which * independent states way of right do. And for the support of “ this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of DI“ VINE PROVIDENCE, we mutually pledge to each other « our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
The declaration was by order of congress engrossed and signed by the following members, JOHN HANCOCK-New-HAMPSHIRE, Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Mathew Thornton MASSACHUSETTS-BAY, Samuel Adams, John Adans, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry-RHODE-ISLAND and ProviDENCE PLANTATIONS, Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery--ConNECTICUT, Roger Sherman, Sumuel Huntington, William Wil lians, Oliver IVolcott-New-YORK, Willian Floyd, Philip Lis vingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris-New-JERSEY, Richard Stockton, John IVitherspoon, Francis Ilopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark-PENNSYLVANIA, Robert Morris, Benjanin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross--DELAWARE, Cæsar Rodney, George Read—MARYLAND, Samuel Chase, Willian Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton---VIRGINIA, George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Neilson, jun. Francis Lightfoot Lee, Cartar Braxton--NORTH-CAROLINA, William Booper,
Joseph Hewes, John Penn :-.-SOUTH-CAROLINA, Edward Rutledge, Thomas Hayward, jun. Thomas Lynch, jun, Arthur Middleton :--GEORGIA, Button Gwinnett, Lyman Ilall, George Wallon. • The declaration of Congress is intended for their act of separation from the crown of Great-Britain ; they therefore no longer regard that prudential state maxim, the king can do no wrong in his official character; but, in making their complaints, charge the specified grievances to majesty itself ; by which they mean to justify; in the sight of mankind; the renunciation of their former allegiance. Thus has an event been produced which was not had in contemplation by any of the colonies, or even by any delegate, scarce by Mr. Samuel Adams, as what was so soon to happen, when congress first met in the year 1774. When Lexington engagement had taken place, he and some of his colleagues judged that the contest must then issue in independence, or slavery; and therefore laboured to establish the first, that the last might be prevented. But had a serious proposal of separating from the crown of Great-Britain been early introdúeed into congress, the dissolution of that body would have followed, through the general aversion of the people at large and of particular colonies to such separation. The Massachusetts delegates had a very nice part to act. The southern colonies were jealous of their republican'spirit, and of their aiming at independency. These therefore, by a most prudent policy, secured those of the Virginia delegates that verged toward republicanism, with whom they intrusted any favourite measure which they wanted to have carried; and who brought the same forward and supported it in congress, against the other southern delegates, while their Massachusetts brethren attended the debates without showing themselves particularly interested, so that the jealousies of * such as were most against it were not alarmed. They took oc
casion also, from the various occurrences that offered, gently to infuse their own sentiments into the minds of such as had before opposed them. Their wise procedure aided, on the one hand aby certain trusty friends in congress, and on the other by the
persevering blundering politics of the British ministry, have - 'under the direction of Providence produced independency. It pliance with their expectations and wishes. A disappointment inight have disgusted, and produced disorder. The declaration may give confidence to the timid ; and animate the friends of liberty to greater exertions. It may lead France to think that the Americans have resources more than are known, and so incline her to entertain the thought of giving them assistance ; while it admits of their applying for the same, with perfect con, sistency as an independent people. They have nothing worse, to apprehend from the declaration than before. The force de stined to act against them proves, that if possible, they are to be reduced to unconditional submission; the declaration cannot add to the misery of such submission. Beside, the quarrel is in such a stage, that it cannot be ended with safety to the inhabi. tants, but by their separating from Great-Britain, and becoming independent : any thing short of that must now prove a continual source of dissention and wretchedness. The members of congress have had it for some time rung in their ears,
remains to be seen whether Providence will give to the same an abiding establishinent. The measures which congress have adopted, may be deemed by some presumptuous, considering the weakness of their own army: the strength of the British, assisted by a powerful navy, and that they have not the least assurance of aid from foreign power. But how could it have been avoided ? The people were ripe for it. Prudence dictated a com
56 The middle way, the best, we sometimes call,
6 But 'tis in politics no way at all." [July 8.] This day at twelve o'clock, the declaration of ins dependence was proclaimed at the state-house in Philadelphia, amidst the greatest acclamations. The day, in consequence of general orders, it was read at the head of each brigade of the continental army at New-York, and every where received with loud huzzas, and the utmost demonstrations of joy. The saine evening the equestrian statue of the king was laid prostrate on the ground. The lead of which it is made, is doomed to be run into bullets. The New-York congress have unanimously resole ved, that they will at the risk of their lives and fortunes, join with the other colonies in supporting the declaration ; and have authorised their delegates to adopt all such measures as may be conducive to the happiness of the United States.
The New Jersey convention have declared their late governor, William Franklin, esq. a virulent enemy to the country, and a person who may prove dangerous, and who ought to be confined in such place and manner as congress may direct; congress have ordered him to be sent under guard to governor. Trumbull of Connecticut, who is to admit him to his parole ; but if he refuses to give it, he is to be secured the same as other prisoners. Matters are drawing on to such a crisis, that the next letter must necessarily contain very interesting intelligence.
T ORD Dunmore has at length quitted Virginia and joined the Le British forces. He arrived with lord Campbell and Sir Peter Parker off Staten Island. [August 14.] His lordship continued on the coast, and in the rivers of Virginia, till the closeness and filth of the small vessels in which the fugitives were crowd. ed, together with the heat of the weather, the badness and scarcity of water and provisions, produced the pestilential fever, which made great havock, especially among the negroes, many of whom were swept away. When at length every place was shut against him, and neither water nor provisions were to be obtained, but at the expence of blood, it was found necessary, toward the beginning of August, to burn several of the smaller and least valu. able vessels, to prevent their falling into the hands of the Ame-, ricans, and to send the remainder, amounting to between forty and fifty, with the exiled friends of government, to seek shelter in Florida, Bermudas, and the West-Indies; a great number of negroes were sent at the same time to the last of these places for sale. The Virginians lost about 1000 of them in the whole, including those who were killed or died while attached to his lordship’s service. Thus have ended the hopes entertained of suppressing the opposition to government in Virginia by eniploying the negroes-a measure which being rather invidious than powerful, tended infinitely to inflame the discontents of the people without adding to the strength of the royal arms. The New-Jersey congress were so irritated by the plot for destroying the American army, that they used the utmost dispatch in forming their constitution, and finished it by the second of July.
Though they knew that the subject of independence was be. fore the continental congress, and that these were upon the point of declaring the United Colonies independent: and though they had empowered their own delegates to join in the declaration, yet that not being made at the time, they closed with saying, “provided always, and it is the true intent and meaning of this congress, that if a reconciliation between Great-Britain and these colonies should take place, and the latter be taken again under the protection and government of the crown of Britain, this charter shall be null and void, otherwise to reinain firm and inviolable."
The New Jersey legislature, in the following September, chose William Livingston, esq; a gentleman of the law and of firstrate abilities, to be their governor. There was an equal nuniber of votes for him and Mr. Stockton ; but the latter having just at that moment, refused to furnish his team or horses for the service of the public, and the legislature coming to the knowledge of it, the choice of Mr. Livingston took place immediate
[July 5.] The general convention of Virginia agreed upon a constitution. They began their session the fifth of May, and ten days after, when they were present 112 members, resolved ananimously, that their delegates should be instructed to propose to congress that the United Colonies be by that respectable body declared free and independent states. It might be from a full confidence of receiving such instructions, that Mr. R. Henry Lee gave notice, that he should inove for a declaration of indepenelence. One gentleman of eminence, who was employed in the great work of planning the constitution made it his incessant stua dy so to frame the portrait of government, that a kindred with New-England might be discerned in it. · Let us now repair to New York, and the neighbourhood.
Lord Howe arrived off Halifax toward the end of June ; upon learning that the fleet and army had left that port on the 10th, and receiving the letter which the general his brother had left for him, he proceeded to New-York without coming to an anchor, ard reached Staten-Island by the 12th of July; from whence he sent ashore by a flag to Amboy, a circular leiter, together with a declartion to several of the late governors of the United States, then colonies, acquainting them with his powers, and desiring them to publish the same as generally as possible, for the information of the people. The declaration and letters were forwarded to congress by general Washington; and ordered by theni to be published in the several news-papers, that the inhabitants might be informed of what nature the commissioners were, and what the terms,with the expectation of which the court of Britain had endeavoured to amuse and disarm them; and that the few who were still suspended by a hope founded either in the jus: tice or moderation of the parties concerned, might be convinced, that the valor alone of their country was to save its libera ties.
(July 14.] Lord Howe sent up a flag to New-York with a leta ter, under the subscription of “ George Washington, esq.” but which the general refused to receive, as not being directed to him with the title and the stile suitable to his station. Congress applauded him for acting with a becoming dignity; and then die