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And swore ne'er shall the sons of America bend, But their Rights and their Freedom most firmly
Ye sons of Columbia then join hand in hand,
And should from afar
Break the horrors of war, We'll always be ready at once to declare, That ne'er will the sons of America bend, But united their Rights and their Freedom deREVOLUTION (1774-1775)
W. T. Sherwin, Memoirs of the Life of Thomas Paine (London, 1819), 246-249.
All the fervor that had been accumulating since the French Wars and the Stamp Act Controversy came to a head in the outburst of patriotic feeling during the years 1774 and 1775 preparatory to the Revolution. It was a period of pamphlets, public addresses, votes by legislative assemblies, and abundant and elaborate books in defense of American liberty. Out of the eloquent riches of the time, some of the best speakers and best pieces have been selected for this chapter. Patrick Henry, Lynch, Warren, Hancock, and John Adams were among the chief disputants of the time, and their words of fire found a lodgment in the hearts of the people. Another school of writers strove with equal patriotic fervor to limit the contest to a strife for a different treatment within the British Empire; but the arguments of the Loyalists had long since been forgotten by the American people, while the appeals to liberty have found etérnal lodgment. Whether there was cause for a separation from England or not, these writers believed with all their souls that they must have a different kind of government and closed their eyes to the possibility of civil war as a test alike of their choice of government and their ability to make their preference good.
1. “After All We Must Fight”
Henry was much more national in spirit at this time than after the Revolution.
"MR. HENRY then arose, and said this was the first General Congress which had ever happened ; that no former congress could be a precedent; that we should have occasion for more general congresses, and therefore that a precedent ought to be established now; that it would be great injustice if a little colony should have the same weight in the councils of America as a great one, and therefore he was for a committee.
"Mr. Henry. Government is dissolved. Fleets and armies and the present state of things show that government is dissolved. Where are your landmarks, your boundaries of colonies? We are in a state of nature, sir I did propose that a scale should be laid down; that part of North America
which was once Massachusetts Bay, and that part which was once Virginia, ought to be considered as having a weight. Will not people complain? Ten thousand Virginians have not outweighed one thousand others.
"I will submit, however; I am determined to submit, if I am overruled.
“A worthy gentleman near me seemed to admit the necessity of obtaining a more adequate representation.
"I hope future ages will quote our proceedings with applause. It is one of the great duties of the democratical part of the constitution to keep itself pure. It is known in my Province that some other Colonies are not so numerous or rich as they are. I am for giving all the satisfaction in my power.
“The distinctions between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders, are no more. I am not a Virginian, but an American.
"Slaves are to be thrown out of the question, and if the freemen can be represented according to their numbers, I am satisfied. "I
agree that authentic accounts cannot be had, if by authenticity is meant attestations of officers of the Crown. I go upon the supposition that government is at an end. All distinctions are thrown down. All America is thrown into one mass. We must aim at the minutiæ of rectitude. .
"When Congress had finished their business, as they thought, in the autumn of 1774, I had with Mr. Henry, before we took leave of each other, some familiar conversation, in which I expressed a full conviction that our resolves, declarations of rights, enumeration of wrongs, petitions, remonstrances, and addresses, associations, and non-importation agreements, however they might be expected by the people in America, and however necessary to cement the union of the colonies, would be but waste paper in England. Mr. Henry said they might make some impression among the people of England, but agreed with me that they would be totally lost upon the government. I had but just received a short and hasty letter, written to me by Major Joseph Hawley, of Northampton, containing a few broken hints' as he called them, of what he thought was proper to be done, and concluding with these words: ‘After all me must fight. This letter I read to Mr. Henry, who listened with great attention; and as soon as I had pronounced the words, ‘After all we must fight,' he raised his head, and with an energy and vehemence, that I can never forget, broke out with, ‘By G-D, I AM OF THAT MAN'S MIND.' I put the letter into his hand, and when he had read it, he returned it to me with an equally solemn asseveration, that he agreed entirely in opinion with the writer. I considered this as a sacred oath, upon a very