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great occasion, and could have sworn it as religiously as he did, and by no means inconsistent with what you say, in some part of your book, that he never took the sacred name in vain. .. The other delegates from Virginia returned to their state, in full confidence that all our grievances would be redressed. The last words that Richard Henry Lee said to me, when we parted, were, 'We shall infallibly carry all our points, you will be completely relieved; all the offensive acts will be repealed; the army and fleet will be recalled, and Britain will give up her foolish project.'
"Washington only was in doubt. He never spoke in public. In private he joined with those who advocated a non-exportation, as well as a non-importation agreement. With both he thought we should prevail; without either he thought it doubtful. Henry was clear in one opinion, Richard Henry Lee in an opposite opinion, and Washington doubted between the two. Henry however appeared in the end to be exactly in the right.”...
W. W. Henry, Life, Correspondence and Speeches of Patrick Henry (N. Y., 1891), I. 221-240 passim.
2. A Commander in Chief to His
Ranking Officer (1774)
Washington had had military service as Major in the French and Indian War and was already known for his judgment, power and tenacity. MY DEAREST,
I am now set down to write to you on a subject, which fills me with inexpressible concern, and this concern is greatly aggravated and increased, when I reflect upon the uneasiness I know it will give you. It has been determined in Congress, that the whole army raised for the defence of the American cause shall be put under my care, and that it is necessary for me to proceed immediately to Boston to take upon me the command of it.
You may believe me, my dear Patsy, when I assure you, in the most solemn manner, that, so far from seeking this appointment, I have used every endeavour in my power to avoid it, not only from my unwillingness to part with you and the family, but from a consciousness of its being a trust too great for my capacity, and that I should enjoy more real happiness in one month with you at home, than I have the most distant prospect of finding abroad, if my stay were to be seven times seven years.
But as it has been a
kind of destiny, that has thrown me upon this service, I shall hope that my undertaking it is designed to answer some good purpose. You might, and I suppose did perceive, from the tenor of my letters, that I was apprehensive I could not avoid this appointment, as I did not pretend to intimate when I should return. That was the case. It was utterly out of my power to refuse this appointment, without exposing my character to such censures, as would have reflected dishonor upon myself, and given pain to my friends. This, I am sure, could not, and ought not, to be pleasing to you, and must have lessened me considerably in my own esteem. I shall rely, therefore, confidently on that Providence, which has heretofore preserved and been bountiful to me, not doubting but that I shall return safe to you in the fall. I shall feel no pain from the toil or the danger of the campaign; my unhappiness will flow from the uneasiness I know you will feel from being left alone. I therefore beg, that you will summon your whole fortitude, and pass your time as agreeably as possible. My earnest and ardent desire is, that you would pursue any plan that is most likely to produce content, and a tolerable degree of tranquillity; as it must add greatly to my uneasy feelings to hear, that you are dissatisfied or complaining at what I really could not avoid. I shall add nothing more, as I have several letters to write, but to desire that you will remember me to your friends, and to assure you that I am, with the most unfeigned regard, my dear Patsy, your affectionate, &c.
Jared Sparks, Writings of George Washington (Boston, 1834), III. 2-4.
3. Courage of the Three Sections
A South Carolinian, backer of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
On my arrival here, I wrote you the occasion of it. I now have the pleasure of enclosing to you a pamphlet, which contains the result. There remains only an address to the Canadians and the petition to the King, to complete all our works, and these will be soon printed in England; should they reach you abroad, please consider whether their being translated into French and Dutch, may not have a good effect, as we shall want supplies of woollens and other goods from them, in case our mother country, (as it is
, called,) continues her oppression.
The New England men, continue a behavior truly heroic. Without rashness, or any tumultuous proceedings that belong to mobs, they oppose a steady, manly, cool and regular conduct, neither declining nor precipitating war.
I saw a gentleman a few days ago, who was at Cambridge, when the men who had met to oblige the councillors and judges to resign their offices, received intelligence that Gage was marching his little army to attack them. He declares that this news occasioned not the least appearance of hurry or confusion. The men who were armed, prepared to receive their enemy; the unarmed, hasted home, and brought their arms. Their numbers being but little superior, shows they will not decline an equal combat. If so, where is England to find an army to encounter two hundred thousand of these same New Englanders, besides at least five hundred thousand others, in the rest of America, who have solemnly engaged in the same cause.
I think I mentioned a little speech, made by an Assemblyman, it is said of Virginia.) "I will raise and support, one thousand men at my expense, as long as you shall want them, and march at their head, wherever you direct.” There are many such men in America.
I remember to have heard, that Amherst had told the King, that he would undertake to march five thousand men, from one end of the continent to the other, notwithstanding the opposition of all the inhabitants. If the story is true, his
. successor, seems quite of a contrary opinion. In