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governments, vested with perfect legislatures, were formed under charters from the crown, and an harmonious intercourse was established between the colonies and the kingdom from which they derived their origin. The mutual benefits of this union became in a short time so extraordinary, as to excite astonishment. It is universally confessed, that the amazing increase of the wealth, strength, and navigation of the realm, arose from this source; and the minister, who so wisely and successfully directed the measures of Great-Britain in the late war, publicly declared, that these colonies enabled her to triumph over her enemies. Towards the conclusion of that war, it pleased our sovereign to make a change in his counsels. From that fatal moment, the affairs of the British empire began to fall into confusion, and gradually sliding from the summit of glorious prosperity to which they had been advanced by the virtues and abilities of one man, are at length distracted by the convulsions, that now shake it to its deepest foundations. ...
A part of these colonies now feel, and all of them are sure of feeling, as far as the vengeance of administration can inflict them, the complicated calamities of fire, sword, and famine. We are reduced to the alternative of choosing an unconditional submission to the tyranny of irritated ministers, or resistance by force.—The latter is our choice.WE HAVE COUNTED THE COST OF THIS CONTEST, AND FIND NOTHING SO DREADFUL AS VOLUNTARY SLAVERY.-Honour, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us.
OUR cause is just. Our union is perfect. Our internal resources are great, and, if necessary, foreign assistance is undoubtedly attainable. We gratefully acknowledge, as signal instances of the Divine favour towards us, that his providence would not permit us to be called into this severe controversy, until we were grown up to our present strength, had been previously exercised in warlike operations, and possessed the means of defending ourselves. With hearts fortified by these animating reflections, we most solemnly, before God and the world, DECLARE, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have been compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverence, employ for the preservation of our liberties; being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather than to live slaves.
Political Writings of the late John Dic mington, Miller Dunott, 1814), II. 32-43.
II. Unpreparedness of the Defenders
of America (1775)
By SURGEON JAMES THACHER A Massachusetts physician who served with the army throughout the Revolutionary War.
SEVERAL companies of riflemen, amounting, it is said, to more than fourteen hundred men, have arrived here from Pennsylvania and Maryland; a distance of from five hundred to seven hundred miles. They are remarkably stout and hardy men; many of them exceeding six feet in height. They are dressed in white frocks, or rifle shirts, and round hats. These men are șemarkable for the accuracy of their aim; striking a mark with great certainty at two hundred yards distance. At a review, a company of them, while on a quick advance, fired their balls into objects of seven inches diameter, at the distance of two hundred and fifty yards. They are now stationed on our lines, and their shot have frequently proved fatal to British officers and soldiers, who expose themselves to view, even at more than double the distance of common musket shot. ...
4th.-A considerable number of Connecticut troops have left our service and returned home; no persuasion could induce them to continue in service after their time of enlistment had expired. Enlisting officers are distributed in vari
ous parts of New England; but it is reported that voluntary enlistments go on slowly. The people seem to be unwilling to engage in the public service, and require higher wages. The spirit of patriotism appears in some degree to have subsided, and the militia are to be employed.
with.—A party of militia, said to be about two thousand, have arrived in camp; and information is received that three thousand more are on their march. A few enlisted soldiers have arrived; but so destitute are they of fire arms, that it has been found necessary to take the arms by force from the soldiers who retire, paying for them, in order to supply the recruits. . .
January, 1776.–At the close of the last year, as is now reported, our army was reduced to a very critical situation, being obliged to substitute new raised troops and militia in the place of those who had been in service five or six months; and this exchange was made within musket shot of the enemy's lines. During part of this period, our numbers were not sufficient to man the lines, nor was there powder enough in camp to furnish four rounds a man. Before our privateers had fortunately captured some prizes with cannon and other ordnance, our army before Boston had, I believe, only four small brass cannon and a few old honey-comb iron pieces with their trunnions broken off ; and these were ingeniously bedded in timbers in the same manner as that of stocking
a musket. These machines were extremely unwieldly and inconvenient, requiring much skill and labor to elevate and depress them. Had the enemy been made acquainted with our situation, the consequences might have been exceedingly distressing
16th.-It might be supposed that the melancholy aspect of the times, and the dreadful disappointments and privations of the British officers and tories in Boston, would afford matter for the most serious consideration, and effectually check every emotion bordering on levity and amusement. We find however that they do not deny themselves balls and theatrical amusements, for they say in the language of the poet,
"What need of piping for the songs and sherry, “When our own mis'ries can make us merry." James Thacher, A Military Journal (Boston, 1823), 37-44 passim.
12. "Free America" (1775?)
By JOSEPH WARREN
(See note above, p. 325.)
THAT seat of science, Athens,
And earth's proud mistress, Rome;
We scarce can find a tomb.