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It^'y'^d To.'T'U^

FROM JULY, 1775,


,, ./•#/■

OF THE f/l / / ^ J ^









1835. .


District C'lerk^s Office.

BE it remeniberHl, tliat on the eighteenth day of Fehruary A. D. 182S, in the forty
ninth yeai of the Independence of the United States of America, Wtlls and Lilly, of the
said District, have depositeil in this Office the title of a Book, the Right whereof they claim
as Proprietors, in the Words following, to wit .—

History of Massachusetts from luly 1775, when General AVashington took command
of the Ann ricaii Army at Cambiidge, to the Year 1789, (inelusiTe,) when the Federal Go-
vernment was estahlisbed nnder the Present Constitution. By Alden Bradford, Author of
the volume of History of Massachusetts published in 1822.

In Conformity to the Act of the Congress of the United States, entitled. " An Act for
the Encouragement of Learning, by securing the copies of Maps. Charts and Books, to
the Authors and Proprietors of such Copies, during the times therein mentioned :" and
also to an Act entitled, " An Act supplementary to an Act, entitled, Aji Act for the
En<oura2ement of_ Learning, by securing the Copies of Maps, Charts, and Books, to the
Authors and Proprietors of such Copies during the times therein mentioned : and extend-
ing the benefits thereof to the Arts of Di'sigiiing, Engraving, and Etching Historical and
ether Prints."

Clerk of the District of Massachusetts,

David Sewall, William Baylies,
George Partridge, Timothy Pickering,
Samuel Freeman, Thomas Melville, David Cobb,

Peleg Wadsworth, John Brooks,

Perez Morton, Judah Alden, Benjamin Pierce,

John Popkin, Nathan Rice,

who were in civil or military office














In a volume, published in 1822, the record of
events in Massachusetts was brought down to July
1775. The period embraced by that volume was
one of uncommon political interest. It was from
1765 to 1775, that the controversy between the
government of England and the people in the thir-
teen American colonies, then a part of the British
empire, which issued in their independence, took
place and was continued : and, as the dispute was
more particularly and uniformly maintained by the
Assembly of Massachusetts, than in any other co-
lony, previously to a resort to arms in defence of
constitutional rights, when petitions, remonstrances
and arguments had failed, it was considered pro-
per to give a full statement of it. Soon after the
affair of Lexington and Concord, when it appeared
that the British resolved to support their arbitrary
measures by the sword, the Continental Congress
concluded to make a common cause with Massa-

chusetts ; provided for an army to be raised by
all the colonies unitedly ; and appointed General
Washington to take the command of it.

After this event, the contest having assumed a
more military character, and being supported by
the united strength of all the provinces, the history
of Massachusetts becomes more connected with
the general proceedings of the whole : and as the
theatre of the war for many months after the
epoch above mentioned, was in that province, a
record of events which there occurred will include
the important transactions of all the colonies in
opposition to British usurpation. A principal part
of the force opposed to the ministerial troops was
also furnished by Massachusetts, for some time
after the organization of the continental army.

In the subsequent periods of the revolutionary
war, though the leading events which took place
in the United States have been preserved by able
writers, the particular efforts of Massachusetts
have not been fully recorded. A faithful narra-
tive will show, that her citizens did not relax in
their exertions after the seat of war was removed
to other parts of the continent; but that the same
zeal was exhibited and support given, through the
whole contest, which appeared in its early stages*


The writer of this volume has been sensible of
the difficulty of doing full justice to Massachusetts,
without referring to events of a general nature,
in which all the states were concerned. It has
been his endeavour, to give only a concise and ra-
pid statement of transactions in other parts of the
United States. A general and connected view
seemed to be proper, in stating the particular ef-
forts and services of Massachusetts ; as these were
rendered, in most cases, in compliance with the
requisitions of the continental Congress, and com-
posed a part of the united exertions of America
for freedom and independence. He hopes he has
not dwelt too much upon transactions, in which all
the states were engaged ; nor omitted to notice
such as particularly regarded the state of Massa-

It was asserted by some members of the con-
vention in Massachusetts, January 1788, which
adopted the federal constitution, that, for several
years of the war, this state furnished nearly one
third of the continental army. It will be seen in
this volume, that the portion of troops required of
Massachusetts, was very great, and that the num-
ber requested was usually raised. It will be re-
collected also, that general Washington acknowl-

VOL. II. 2


edged, on several occasions, that, but for the Mas-
sachusetts regiments, the regular army would have
been insufficient for attack or defence. Although
it had an extensive sea coast, of upwards of five
hundred miles, to protect by its own militia, the
most prompt measures were taken to procure the
troops called for to join the continental army in
distant parts of America. The state also advanc-
ed large sums to these troops, to induce them to
engage in the public service ; and when the ac-
counts of the several states were adjusted, at the
close of the war, it was found that Massachusetts
had borne more than her just portion of the pub-
lic burdens.

The history of Massachusetts, after the peace of
1783, during several succeeding years, is very im-
portant. The immense debt, for which it had to
provide payment, and the embarrassments on trade,
occasioned a general discontent and complaint
among the people, which impeded the regular
course of law and threatened to destroy all social
order. It was a period of great public distress
and alarm ; and nothing but uncommon wisdom
and firmness in the rulers saved the Common-
wealth from the evils of anarchy.


The establishment of the federal government
over the whole United States, which took place
soon after the period just mentioned, was also an
event of great interest in the country ; and the
proceedings in Massachusetts, relative to it, merit
particular notice.

With a deep sense of the importance of accu-
racy, fidelity, and impartiality in those who profess
to give a correct record of events, or a just cha-
racter of public men, it is unnecessary, perhaps, to
add, that it has been the constant endeavour of the
writer, in this as in the former volume, to have
the statements given strictly conformable to truth ;
and that he has been anxious not to advance any
thing as fact, upon conjecture, or to give party
representations as a substitute for prevalent public

Boston, 12th February^ 1825.



JVumbcr and condition of troops at Cambridge, July 1775 . . . Reasons for
uot attacking tlie Britisli in Boston . ..Character of Wasliiugton . . .Gene-
alsin tlie army . .. Supply of men and powder by Massachusetts . ..The af-
fair of Machias . . . Expedition to Lake Champlain . . . Di fensive war only
yet intended . .. Character of Hancock, T. Cushing, Samuel Adams, J.
Adams, R. T. Paiue James Warren - - - - - 1


House of Representatives chosen . . . Conformity to ancient charter . . . De-
lay of judicial establishments . . . Choice of Counsellors . . . Measures of
defence . . . Finances . . . Paper money . . . Debts increase . . . Requisitions
of General Congress . . . Army organised . . . Small pox . . . Privateers . . .
Forts built at Winter Hill, fcc. . . . Sea coast guarded . . . Committee of
Continental Congress visit Cambridge ... Troops ordered for 1776...
Views of Congress on Separation from Britain . . . Agents to treat with
Indians . . . Affair at Cape Ann . . . Falmouth burnt and Bristol attacked
...Judges and Justices appointed ... Gun povi^der imported from West
Indies.. . Debts - 38


Views of the Colonies September 1775 ...Expedition to Quebec by way
of Kennebec . . . Unsuccessful . . . Armed Vessels . . . British ships cap-
tured . . . Captain Manly . . . Treachery of Dr. Church . , . Militia called
out . . . Colonel Knox brings cannon from Tyconderoga . . . Resolve of
Representatives justifying a resort to arms . . . Meditated attack on Bos-
ton . . . Dorchester heights fortified . . , Conduct of Washington ap-
proved by Congress ... Militia organized ... Nantucket ... Suspension
of civil suits ... Refugees ... Regiment raised for Quebec - - - 68



British troops leave Boston ... Public Funeral of General Warren...
Washington's entrance into Boston . . . Northern Expedition . . . Death of
General Thomas .. .Independence proposed ... Troops raised for de-
fence of the Province .. .Captain Mugford ...British ships driven from
Boston harbour ... Militia to reinlbrce regular army ... Spirit of Mas-
sachusetts' Legislature . . . Great efforts and sacrifices . . . Independence
declared . . . Proposition for new Constitution . . . New levies of Militia . . .
Paper money depreciated. - - - - - - -92


CoQtioental army for 1777 . . . Slavery forbidden . . . Several calls for mili-
tia . . . Invasion of Rhode Island under general Lincoln . . . Military stores
from France . . . Monopolies and depreciation . . . Additional State troops,
and drafts of militia - - - - - - - - 122


General Court 1777 . . . Expedition to Nova Scotia . . . Constitution pre-
pared by General Court, and rejected by the people . . . 4th of July
... Militia to reinforce northern army ... Secret expedition to Rhode
Island . . . Bourgoyne checked and captured . . . Affairs at the south . , .
Capture of captain Manly - - - - - - - 138


Taxes . . . Men raised for defence of the state, and for the continental
army . . . Addresses to the people . . . Confederation . . . Judges . . . General
Court sit in Roxbury .. .Constitution disapproved in 1778 ... British
at Newport . . . French Fleet . . . Americans retreat . . . Lafayette . . .
Fort Alden taken. . .British commissioners offer terms of peace . . . Gene-
ral Gates commands in Boston ... Opinion of British statesmen - 152


Refiigees . . . Taxes . . . Law against Extortion . . . Scarcity . . , Various
measures of defence . . . Depreciation . . . New calls for militia . . . Con-
, vention for new Constitution . . . Large sums called for by Congress . . .
Penobscot Expedition . . . Conventions to prevent extortion . . . Addi-
tional troops, both for state and continental service ... Public Fast...
Geiieral Lincoln in Georgia and South Carolina.. .Constitution formed


and acceptea . . . Order of Congress to call in paper money . . . Debt of the
state . . . Complaints of the people . . . Troops in Maine . . . Academy of
Arts and Sciences . . . Dark day .-. - - - .- 171


State of the country . . . More militia ordered . . . Treachery of Arnold . . .
General Court under new constitution. . ."Governor's speech ... Bur-
dens and complaints of people ... Loans ... Militia at northward...
Recruits for army ... Large bounties ... Committee to revise laws .. .
Further discontents ... Great taxes... New calls of Congress ... Ex-
cise acts . . . And impost proposed . . . Militia marched to Rhode Island,
and to New York . . . Capture of Cornwallis . . . renewed military pre-
parations. .. Complaints. .. Riot in Hampshire - - - 194


Prospect of peace . . . Massachusetts urge security of fisheries . . . Minis-
ters so instructed. .. National bank ... Supreme court .. .Illicit trade
forbidden . . . Distresses of soldiers on their discharge . . . Alarming com-
bination among part of the officers ... Great taxes . . . Relief for debtoi-s
...Impost and continental taxes. .. R.efugees ... General Court for
1783 . . . Members of Congress . . . Peace . . . Governor urges attention to
public credit • . . Slavery wholly condemned . . . Census . . . Requisitions
of Congress . . . British debts . . . Eastern boundary . . . Governor Han-
cock resigns. . . New excise . . . Complaints of British importations 213


Mr. Bowdoin governor . . . His opinions and Speech . . . Proposes more
power to Congress ... Embarrassments on commerce ... Plan to pay
debt . . . British captain's insolence . . . Old taxes not collected . . . New
ones assessed . . . Criminals confined to labour . . . Convention in Maine
. , . Proposal to authorise Congress to regulate commerce . . . Convention
proposed for revising confederation . . . Mr. Bowdoin governor 1786 . . ,
Urges payment of debt - - - - - - - 236


Convention in Hampshire county . . . Also in other countries . . . Complaints
of ta.xes and courts . . . Courts interrupted . . . Militia called out to sup-
port government .. . Extra session of the General Court . . . Approve of
the conduct of the governor. .. And endeavour to provide relief for the


people . , . Middlesex militia . . .County conventions renewed and forci-
ble opposition to government. .. Settlement of dispute with New York
. . . Courts again obstructed . . . Insurgents embodied . . . And militia
called out - 260


Measures adopted to quell the Insurrection . . . General Lincoln commands
the Militia . . . Marches to Woicestrtr • . . Insurgents retire, but collect at
Springfield . . . Fired upon by General Shepard . . . Pursued by Lincoln . . .
Posted at Felham . . . General Court meet and approve of the conduct of
the governor . . . Rebellion declared . . . Shays marches to Petersham . . .
Surprised and dispersed by general Lincoln . . , His conduct approved . , ,
Insurgents in Berkshire subdued ... Commissioners appointed to grant
pardons ... Several convicted of treason by Supreme Court - - 286


Mr. Hancock chosen governor . . . Great part of General Court new mem-
bers . . . Policy not materially changed . . . Insurgents still dangerous in
western counties . . . Resident in Vermont . . . Governor authorised to
continue troops in the public service . . • Salaries . . . Insurgents pardon-
ed .. . State of the Commonwealth . . . High taxes . . . Federal Constitu-
tion ... Approved in Massachusetts "wy a small majority . . . Objections
to it . . . Arguments for it . . . Amendments . . . Rejoicing on its adoption . . .
Subsequent prosperity , . .Amount of claims on the United States . .. Mint
... Manufactures ... Slave trade prohibited -. - -.- 311


Mr. Hancock governor . . . His popularity .. . Dispute respecting the Cap-
taincy of the Castle and of the salary of the lieutenant governor...
Representatives to Congress . . . Number and mode of chosing Electors
of President and Vice-President . . . Address to the President . . . Two
brass field pieces. . . Mr. Hancock governor, May 1789. . . His speech . . .
Law for Public Schools ... Finances. ,. New Counties in Maine...
Washington's visit . . . Effects of Federal Government - - - - 331

Appendix . - - - -.... - 349




Number and condition of troops at Cambridge, July 1775... Reasons for
not attacking the British in Boston . . . Character of Washington . . . Gene-
alsinthe army . . . Supply of men and powder by Massachusetts. . . The af-
fair of Machias . . . Expedition to Lake Champlain . . . Defensive war onli/
yet intended — Character of Hancock, T. Gushing, Samuel Adams, J.
Adams, R. T. Paine, J. Warren.

When General Washington, by appointment of the
Continental Congress, took command of the Ame-
rican troops in the vicinity of Boston, the third of
July, 1775, they were estimated at about 15,000.
Of these, more than 9,000 belonged to Massachu-
setts ; Connecticut, New Hampshire and Rhode
Island furnished the residue. They had assem-
bled at Cambridge and Roxbury, soon after the
attack, by a detachment of the British army in
Boston on the defenceless citizens of the province
VOL. n. 3


at Lexington and Concord. These troops, collect-
ed to oppose a large and disciplined army, were
none other than the yeomanry of the country, with
such arms as could be suddenly procured ; though
a small portion of them, denominated " minute
men," had been occasionally trained to military
duty, for a few months before. The whole colo-
nial force had been under the command of gene-
ral Ward, whose head-quarters were in Cam-
bridge; general Thomas commanding the right
wing at Roxbury, and general Putnam of Connec-
ticut the left wing, on Prospect Hill, in the west-
erly part of Charlestown. On the arrival of Wash-
ington at Cambridge, as commander in chief. Ward
was placed over the right wing in Roxbury; and
Lee, then lately appointed a major general by
Congress, had the command of the left, on Pros-
pect Hill.

The American army did not consist of so many
men, as had been represented to general Wash-
ington ; or, as a short period before his arrival,
were assembled in arms, in the neighbourhood of
the metropolis. Several companies, which were
marched at the moment of alarm, had returned to
their respective homes. At one time, they had
been estimated at 18,000. If it was in the design
of Washington immediately to commence ofiensive
operations against the British troops, and to drive
them from the capital of Massachusetts, his plan
must have been disconcerted on finding the Ame-
ricans less numerous than he had expected ; and
his resolution for the attempt yet more shaken, by
witnessing the deficiency of arms and the great
want of discipline and subordination among the
troops he was appointed to command.


To organize and discipline an army of such ma-
terials, of men who had seen little actual service
and who were unacquainted with military tactics ;
and to render them formidable to regular troops :
was a work requiring time, intelligence and pru-
dence. The yeomanry of Massachusetts and of the
other New England Colonies were, indeed, brave, re-
solute, and ready for any enterprize however ha-
zardous. But they were the lords of the soil, and
they acknowledged no higher and lower grades
among them, in which some were entitled to com-
mand, and others bound to obey. To civil au-
thority, they were certainly most obedient. But
happily they knew nothing of standing armies ; and
officers of the militia, being chosen from the great
body of citizens, and usually retaining their com-
mission only for a few years, acquired no peculiar
respect, by which their commands would be
promptly and uniformly obeyed. The first great
object of the commander in chief, therefore, was
to produce a spirit of subordination ; and to per-
suade the people, both in and out of the American
camp, of the absolute necessity of military disci-
pline and of strict obedience to superior officers.
With all his prudence and address, and enthusias-
tic as they were in the cause of freedom and of
their country, his wishes were but partially accom-
plished, until some time after the commencement
of the war. The subaltern officers frequently de-
parted from the camp for several days, without
leave of absence : and whole companies, claiming
to have come as volunteers, left the army, con-
trary to the desires of the commander in chief.
At a subsequent period, though their term of en-
listment had expired, but against the urgent re»


ijuest of Washington, as the army had become
ranch reduced, the whole Connecticut Hne was dis-
banded and returned to their homes.

Another very serious difficulty prevented the
plan of offensive warfare at this early period of
the contest. The troops were deficient in good
fire arms, for many which they brought with them
were almost unfit for use. Nor was it possible en-
tirely to remedy the deficiency, though great ex-
ertions were immediately made for that purpose.
Of the necessary article of gun-powder, there was
also a most alarming deficiency. And there were
at this time, very few cannon in the American
army, so essential in storming a fortified town.
To the want of an efficient artillery corps may
justly be attributed the defeat of the Provincial
troops at Bunker's Hill, on the 17th of June.*

It was evidently, then, the dictate of sound dis-
cretion in the commander in chief, to refrain from
an immediate attack on the British troops in Bos-
ton, who would probably have been provoked to
retaliate upon the besiegers; and these would not
have been able, in their unprepared condition, to
repel the assault. It is matter of surprise, how-
ever, that the British general, with a regular
army, so amply prepared for the contest, did not
attempt to force the American lines, and disperse
the provincial troops, who were so deficient in dis-
cipline and in military stores. These considera-
tions are sufficient to justify general Washington,
in not acting more decidedly on the offensive at this
period. To which may be added, the reluctance
of the opulent citizens of Boston to an attempt to

* There were only four brass field pieces in the whole
Hmerican army at this time.


drive the British by force from the town, as a
great destruction of property would probably be
the consequence : and the system of opposition,
deliberately adopted by the colonists, being then
merely defensive, would not well consist with a
more vigorous hostility, than preparations to pre-
vent the ministerial army from marching into the
country for plunder, and to meet it with a ji'ood
face, at a future day, if a reconciliation should not
be effected with the parent state. For even at
this period, and for several months later, though
the sword had been drawn, and the blood of
Americans, wantonly spilt, called on the people for
vengeance, there was still a hope that administra-
tion would recede from its despotic measures, and
that the rights of Americans would be acknow-
ledged without further hostilities. Many intelli-
gent citizens also who were warmly opposed to
the conduct of the British cabinet, were averse
from the idea of Independence. And the lan-
guage of the Continental Congress was in favour
of reconciliation, upon the recognition of the civil
authority of the Colonial Assemblies, as had
been formerly exercised. When, nearly twelve
months after this, the question of Independence
was discussed, it was not without great reluctance,
that several eminent patriots consented to the

The appointment of general Washington to
command the American army was a most fortu-
nate selection. Perhaps, no other individual in
the colonies would have been competent to the
place and the occasion. He possessed, in an emi-

* Mr. Dickinson, the celebrated author of the Farmer's
Letters, was one of these.


nent degree, all the qualities necessary to a great
general ; particularly, to form and direct an army
composed of men like the Americans. He came
to the office with a high reputation for patriotism,
intelligence and experience. In a former war
between England and France, he had seen some-
thing of military plans and movements. And he
had given proofs of great prudence and judgment,
as well as of personal courage. Had he been im-
petuous like Putnam, or rashly bold like Arnold,
the colonial army had probably been exposed to
total defeat. But with great decision and energy
of character, sufficient for the most daring enter-
prize, he united all the prudence and caution so
important in the commander of a feeble and in-

Online LibraryAlden BradfordHistory of Massachusetts ... (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 48)