Elbert Jay Benton Henry Eldridge Bourne.

A history of the United States online

. (page 13 of 44)
Online LibraryElbert Jay Benton Henry Eldridge BourneA history of the United States → online text (page 13 of 44)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


a shot was fired, and soon the firing became general. The
colonial rnilitiV retreated after eight of their number were
killed and ten wounded. Only one or two of the British
were woimded.

At Concord the British found few stores, because most of
these had been hidden securely or removed to neighboring
towns. They destroyed thirty or forty barrels of flour, spiked
two or three cannon, and threw some cannon balls into a mill-



Digitized by



Google



i8o THE OUTBREAK OF WAR

pond. Meanwhile the minute-men were assembling rapidly
on the hills about the town. A large body soon attacked and
drove off the British soldiers who had been stationed at the
North Bridge.

A Disastrous Retreat. — Fighting b^an in earnest about
noon when the British started on their return march to Bos-

«te Salon C,ette ■^''' ^~°^ ^"^^^ ^^^"^ ^'

Salem. u,^/ad^^. April is.rT7s ~ housc, OF stonc waU the nunute-

The Britifh pillaged almoft every houfe the/ mCU and fanUerS shot at thc

paffed by, breaking and deftroying doon, <• i i« rm

window*, glaffe», etc., and carrying off doth- COllUnU 01 SOldierS. The march
ing and other valuable effect*. It appeared

£f^;£rX'^T„J«%S'„rb"'o„'J'fc". ^as soon changed into a dis-
ESl"^„V;rJrU:SrJoJ°'"S'ifh1'?^! orderly flight. Reinforcements
;SS:jSi'JS'.t?S^iJ4«''XSS.rZ<rf°[ from Boston met the British

incredible; not contented with fhooting ^x t ^^^^4.^^ T3,,4. «^ .^*.:J1

down the unarmed, a§cd, and inBrm. they at LiexmgtOU. UUt SO rapiOiy

dif regarded the cries of the wounded, killing ,., , •I'j.- xi_ ^i_

them without mercy, and mangling their aiCL tlie milltia gatlier OU Uie
bodies in the rooft fhocking manner. i 1 1 1 <>

Paet of the Account op the ^oute that the whole body of
Battles of Lexington and Con- British soldiers barely escaped
CORD in a Colonial Newspaper ^ ^ > .1 ,

capture. Pamc-stncken and

exhausted, they found refuge at nightfall under the guns of
the British ships near Charlestown.

Meaning of Lexington and Concord. — The losses on both
sides in this struggle were heavy, although the British losses
were three times those of the colonists. The chances of a
peaceful settlement of the controversy between parliament
and the colonies were now slight. Blood had been shed and
the fighting spirit was increased by the tales spread in Eng-
land and the colonies. The colonists were told that the
British had begun the battle and, besides, had destroyed
property and maltreated families along their route. The
English heard that the wrongs were all on the other side. It
was clear, at all events, that the colonial militia would fight
to defend their rights. "I never believed,'' said a British
officer sadly, "that they would have attacked the king's
troops." Lexington and Concord were not riots like the



Digitized by



Google



SIEGE OF BOSTON i8i

"Boston Massacre/' but the opening battles of a great
revolution.

Siege of Boston. — The minute-men who had driven the
British into Boston did not return home, but remamed en-
camped in a great circle about the dty. They meant that
General Gage should send no more expeditions to seize their
stores. They soon determined

to drive him out of Boston. On the return of the troops from

other companies of miKtia ^^JSI^i.lK^.'ffl'^^^d:

came in from towns too far by the rebels firing from behind walls.
.1 1. • ^1. ditches, trees, and other ambufhes: but

away to have a share m the the brigade, under the command of
first day's fightinc:. John \^ ^^^' *>*^^ i«™^ tbem at

-, , "^ ^ , ^ , Lexington with two pieces of cannon.

Stark/ a veteran of the French the rebels were for a while difperfed:

wars, led the New Hampshire ij^^'STbSn'rrtS^fi

militia. Israel Putnam rode ^ro™ behind ftone walls and houfes,
^ ^ .> , 1. J J '^ ^^ "P in *bat manner a fcatter-

f rom Connecticut, one himdred jng &■« during the whole of thdr march
miles, in eighteen hours, reach- "^ ^^ "»*«• *>y ^^»^ 'n^™ Several

, ° , ' . were killed and wounded; and fuch was

mg the camp on the mommg the cruelty and barbarity of the rebels,

/%f Anril or TTp haA Ipff ^' ^bey fcalped and cut off the ears

Ot April 21. Me naa lelt ^ ^^^ ^^ wounded men who feU

orders for his men to follow *"*** ^^ hands.

immediately. Part of a British Acxx)unt of

, , ^' , . Concord and Lexington

Armies are not created m -. *u r ^ ^ « r

From the London GazeUCt June zo, 1775

a day. Military leaders now

believe that men must be taught at least two years before
they can be called trained soldiers. At first, therefore, the
minute-men at Cambridge and other towns around Boston
formed an armed crowd rather than an army. Each
man had brought his own gun, with a small stock of
powder and bullets. Few were in imiform, most of the
men being dressed as they were when the alarm soimded.
It was astonishing that they had assembled so rapidly.
It seemed as if they had sprung out of the ground at
the stamp of some great leader's foot. The "patriots,"
with their committees of correspondence, had made plans



Digitized by



Google



i82 THE OUTBREAK OF WAR

to meet just such an event as General Gage's ill-fated
expedition.

Second Continental Congress, May, 1775. — The Second
Continental Congress met on May 10, 1775, in Philadelphia,
at the Old State House. Thirteen colonies from New Hamp-
shire to Georgia were represented. Nova Scotia, Quebec,

and the Floridas held oflF.

^^H^^or sop,^. w«cn««.. June ,». .775. rj.^^ inhabitants had no

THE Wd&RofourCoanttraaM induces « to uge your . .

p£;;ill3t?ar»S£i2^^ "^^^''^st ^ the cause which



can be K»curt4or the following Articlei;Sdt^ifc.Beut,\

Peu, VuMcaruidBbnkeu.t&priMtvhoearMvdiM -^„„ Krinoina thp nthpr
*ec«itiii^(h«ui»dtoiwi8£««iiiigtoiiKOi0on«rfy^ wdb uruiging uic ouier

rtifjr — Ir isof
. . lied Mfcable I
•R& more efpecttUy wtdi thrie AmcJrv the four iA of which Me ^, ,.^. 111

mtcefbty tor ihe ^jbriflcfiee m ««il m the H«dth of the Men, and the COUdltlOUS had ChaHg-
tfie other tor that Comfort^The occafion of the Pefinency in , ^

^Wf/i « moftly ow;«g tea number of Mrn ediflnl from BoAon ed SmCe the J&TSt CoUgreSS
•fw otner Towns wnch rate btxn vacaied, and xtiey all mult be ^^

'•^^•^^i^:^.:rSS^-;^i!i^^»M met in September, eight

AfliliaAer, me afluieourMycs that you will aA your para as worthily
• ■• ■ ithcEi ' ■• • ■

Te rht StbSwn «rW Ctm&nim



oieCaitiiw fliall be allowed aceording to the Uiliom or ]poor nac« " *-"' "-" - o*"© — ->' '^ — »^-.

irfidiweddli*youb>ccrtify - Ir isof theutmoftlmpofunccikac ^^1^«.:,^ 4.^^^i.U^- TT^

4ieAimyAK)uMberupplKd«.fe.bIetotheRefeh«!of cheCon- COiOUieS tOgetlier. JtlOW



Affiia^l w affi>?^m ihac^i will !a^t ^umJSZ mouths earlier ! The dele-
as you have done vmi hope that the Evenccf all our CKrtions will 1 1 t

be the saivauon of our Cowioy. gates Were assembled now.



^ar«>,dr«a^rrte7w jjot to devise wavs of

^ It itim.-«^imMss^ David CnBtvCft, per Order of ^

-^^^ couminuerfsappik.. Compelling Great Britain

Call for Food and Blankets to repeal the "intolerable"

June i8, 1775 , u x ..

laws, but to manage a war
which had actually begun. This was more serious business.
Congress decided to make the cause of Massachusetts that
of all the colonies. It promptly adopted the New England
militia encamped around Boston as a "Continental" army.
Steps were taken to raise other troops and find food ancLsup-
plies for all. A delegate from Virginia, the foremost soldier
in America, George Washington, was imanimously chosen
commander-in-chief. Washington set out for Cambridge,
the headquarters of the army, on June 21. He had proceeded
scarcely twenty miles from Philadelphia when a rider hurry-
ing with messages to Congress gave him the news of another
battle with the British.

Bunker Hill, June 17, — Boston could not be attacked
directly except by a narrow neck of land, called Boston Neck,



Digitized by



Google



BUNKER HILL 183

which General Gage had covered with batteries. On the
north and on the south, however, • were two peninsulas,
crowned by hills, which reached out toward the dty. These
hills were called Bunker Hill and Dorchester Heights.
Batteries placed on them could soon destroy Boston. To
forestall such
a danger Gen-
eral Gage de-
cided to occupy
them on Jime
18. The Ameri-
can leaders
learned of the
British plans
and determined
to act first.
On the night
of June 16 Col-
onel William
Prescott with
1,200 men stole

qme y a ong Boston, BxtnkesHhx, and Charlestown

the neck of the

northern peninsula and over Bunker Hill to Breed's Hill,
which was somewhat lower but nearer Boston. His men
could hear the regiilar monotonous cry of "All's well''
uttered by sentinels on the ships in the Charles River.
Silently and rapidly, with pick and shovel, they threw up
earthworks. Within these they constructed low platforms
of earth or boards to enable them to fire across the top.
The British could scarcely believe their eyes when morning
dawned.

The British officers did not think that raw militia would
resist a direct attack. They might have seized the neck of



Digitized by



Google



i84 THE OUTBREAK OF WAR

the peninsula and occupied Bunker Hill, which would have
turned the tables on the colonial troops. But they decided
to attack in front. Prescott, when he saw their red lines
advancing up the hill, knowing that his men had few bayonets

and only a small stock of
powder, told his men to wait
until they saw "the whites of
their eyes" to "aim at the
handsome coats," and to
"pick oflf the commanders."
At the first fire whole lines
of British went down, and
their comrades fell back in
disorder. Again they ad-
vanced in the face of a mur-
derous fire, and again they
fell back, leaving the ground
covered with dead and
wounded. General Howe,
who was in command, order-

BuNKER HILL MONUMENT • ^d a third attack. Suddenly

the firing from the redoubt
slackened and ceased. The powder of the colonial soldiers
was used up. They had nothing left save the butts of their
muskets and stones. The consequence was that the British
soon drove them back across Bimker Hill and out of the
peninsxila. The British paid dearly for their victory, losing
over a thousand men in killed and woimded. No wonder
one of the colonial officers remarked that they would like
to sell another hill at the same price!

Making an Army. — Washington arrived at Cambridge
on July 2, about two weeks after the battle, and took com-
mand of the army the following day. His first task was to
begin the soldierly training of the bands of farmers and



Digitized by



Google



MAKING AN ARMY 185

mechanics which made up the revolutionary force. He must
also procure powder, bullets, and cannon. Many cannon
and a large amoimt of powder had already been seized by
Ethan Allen and a band of "Green Mountain Boys'' at Fort
Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain.
The cannon could not be
brought to Cambridge until the
snows of the next winter made
it easy to haul them. Other
needed supplies were obtained
by the capture of a British store-
ship as it was nearing Boston.
Washington showed great pa-
tience and tact, as well as firm-
ness, in the tedious work of
preparing the army for war.

Among the soldiers were many
Irish, Scotch-Irish, and German
immigrants.^ Whole companies,
especially in Pennsylvania, con-
tained few or no English col-
onists. Some of the soldiers
had seen service m European George Washington in 1775

,, . , , After the portrait by Peale

armies, others m the recent war

with the French and Indians. Many of the farmers, accus-
tomed to life on the frontier or to hunting, readily learned
the lessons of warfare.
. While Washington was busy with his task at Cambridge,

* By the Revolution the thirteen colonies ceased to be dependencies of Eng-
land. They became instead parts of a new nation formed in North America.
Frwn thb time the people leaving Europe for America are thought of, not
so much as emigrants from Europe and subjects of a European kingdom, as
immigrants into the United States and members of the Republic. For this
reason the words " immigrant " and " immigration " will now be used where
** emigrant " and " emigration " have been used.



Digitized by



Google



i86 THE OUTBREAK OF WAR

an attempt was made to invade Canada and seize Quebec.
The colonial troops reached Quebec but failed to cap-
ture it. Their attempt had one important consequence:
it alarmed the British government so much that the
army brought together to subdue the rebellious colonists
was divided and a part sent to Canada. This lessened
the number of troops which Washington had to deal
with directly.

General Howe, who had taken the place of General Gage,
made no attempt to attack Washington's camps about Bos-
ton. Washington did not com-
plete his preparations until win-
ter had come and almost gone.
On the night of March 4,
1776, he made a move similar
to the seizure of Bunker Hill.
^^ , His soldiers occupied Dorches-

One of THrcuNs Drawn from ^er Heights and built two
TicoNDEROGA TO BosTON FOR redoubts. Geucral Howe re-
THE Siege , t 1

marked, when mommg came

and he saw the forts through his glass, "The rebels have done
more in one night than my whole army would have done in
a month." The British admiral said, "If they retain pos-
session of the heights I cannot keep a ship in the harbor."
Howe decided at once that he must either storm forts far
stronger than Prescott's defences on Bunker Hill or with-
draw from Boston. He chose the latter course, and on March
17 the British fleet, with his army aboard, left the city, bound
for Halifax.

Boston after the Siege. — Nearly a thousand inhabitants
of Boston left with the British. Among them were the former
oflScials of the king in the colony and many of the older
families, who formed the aristocracy of the town. They
went into volimtary exile because they sympathized with the



Digitized by



Google



QUESTIONS AND EXERCISES 187

British cause and feared to remain in Boston without the
protection of the soldiers.

Boston's direct experience with war was over. The in-
habitants had suffered hardships from famine and disease.
Charlestown, a neighboring town,
burned during the battie of Bim-
ker Hill, was still a scene of utter
desolation. The people bravely
went to work to make Boston
secure against another British in-
vasion. Every able-bodied man

j_ ^ 1 1 . J Flag of the United Colo-

gave two days each week toward nies in 1775-1777

rebuilding the fort in the harbor

and strengthening the other defenses. In a few days Wash-
ington, with the main body of his army, departed for New
York, which he thought the British would soon attempt
to seize. The capture of Boston was Washington's first
victory.

QUESTIONS

1. In what ways did the colonists prepare for war with the mothet
country?

2. Why did the British commander at Boston send an expedition to Con-
cord? What happened during the journey? Why was it harder after this to
make a peaceful settlement?

3. How was it possible for the patriots so quickly to gather a body of
men for the siege of Boston? Why is this body of men called ''an armed
crowd" rather than an army?

4. What colonies sent representatives to the Second Continental Congress?
Why did some English colom'es fail to send representatives? What was the
difference between the work of the First Continental Congress and the Second?

5. Why did the colonists occupy a position near Bunker Hill? Which side
was victorious in the Battle of Bunker Hill?

6. How did Washington secure additional materials of war? What impor-
tant result came from the attempt to seize Quebec?

7. How did Washington finally drive the British army out of Boston? What
inhabitants of Boston sided with the mother country and went into
exile?



Digitized by



Google



i88 THE OUTBREAK OF WAR



EXERCISES

1. Locate on an outline map of Boston and the vicinity all places men-
tioned in this chapter, and tell what happened at each.

2. Examine the two old accounts of the Battle of Lexington on pages i8o
and i8i and tell in what ways they differ.

Important Dates :

April 19, 1775. Battles of Lexington and Concord. Beginning of the

Revolution.
May 10, 1775. The Second Continental Congress meets at Philadelphia

and takes over the conduct of the war.
June 17, 1775. The Battle of Bunker Hill.
March 17, 1776. General Gage, with his entire army and 1,000 loyalists,

abandons Boston.



First Flag of the

United States

Adopted by Congress in

1777



Digitized by



Google



CHAPTER XVII
THE BIRTH OF A NEW NATION

Great Britain and the Colonial Rebellion. — Washington's
success in driving the British army from Boston did not
convince either parliament or King (Jeorge that the time had
come for conciliatory measures. It made them only more
anxious to put forth every effort to subdue the rebellious
colonists. They had already refused to reply to a petition of
the Continental Congress for a friendly settlement of the
difficulties. They had also made the blunder of hiring Ger-
man soldiers to swell the numbers of their army, forgetting
the fact that a little over a hundred years before the attempt
to use foreign soldiers to subdue Englishmen had cost
Charles I and his principal minister their heads. Parlia-
ment also passed an act cutting oflf the colonies from all
trade while the "rebellion" lasted.

Thinking about Separation. — The colonists had begun to
think that there was little hope of fair treatment from parlia-
ment and king. At first only a few leaders like Samuel
Adams, John Adams, and Patrick Henry thought it useless
to expect parliament to change its manner of dealing. Most
of the colonists would have been glad to return to friendly
relations with the mother country. Washington, when on
his way to Cambridge in 1775, had promised the members of
the New York provincial congress that he would work toward
that end. As the winter passed with no better news from
England, feeling changed. The colonists asked one another
why, if they could not govern themselves in the British
empire, they should not try to govern themselves out of it?
If they must fight, why not fight for independence ?



Digitized by



Google



I90 THE BIRTH OF A NEW NATION

Paine's Common Sense. — Thomas Paine, an Englishman
who had recently settled in Philadelphia, published a remark-
able pamphlet early in 1776. He called it Common Sense.
Many of the colonists held kings in great reverence, believing
that George III was their God-given ruler. Paine ridiculed
such ideas. He bluntly called kings "sceptred savages"
and "royal brutes." "Of more worth," he declared, "is
one honest man to society . . . than all the crowned ruffians




Facsimile of the Conclusion of the Declaration of Independence
In the willing of Jefferson, with the first three signatures.

that ever lived." Monarchy instead of being the best form
of government was, he said, the worst. And how absurd, he
wrote, "to be always running three or four thousand mil6s
with ... a petition, waiting four or five months for an
answer," "or to suppose that a continent should be governed
by an island." "The blood of the slain," he added, "cries,
* 'Tis time to part.' " Much that Paine wrote was so simple,
so convincing, such "common sense," that thousands read it
and concluded that separation was necessary.

The Declaration of Independence. — The colonies one by
one advised their delegates in Congress to work for independ-



Digitized by



Google



THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE 191

ence. Finally, on July 2, 1776, Congress voted "that these
United Colonies are, and of a right ought to be, free and
independent states; . . . that all political connection be-
tween them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to
be, totally dissolved." Two days later, July 4, Congress
adopted a formal Declaration of Independence, which
Thomas Jeflferson had written, announcing to the world the
new purpose of the colonies. It stated the right to "life,



Room in which the Declaration was Signed

liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," which the colonists
had claimed for themselves all along, and added a start-
ling list of charges against the king. These were given as
the reason for seeking independence. Perhaps some of the
charges were not fair, for Jefferson was making a plea, and
not writing a history. Most of them, however, were true.

The Royalists or Tories. — About one-third of the inhab-
itants of the thirteen colonies opposed separation from Great
Britain. In New York and Pennsylvania the loyaUsts and
patriots were about equally divided. The Quakers were
opposed to war for any purpose. Many loyalists declared



Digitized by



Google



192 THE BIRTH OF A NEW NATION

that if the colonies should win their independence from Great
Britain, they would only fall victims to discord and desola-
tion. The loyalists thought the patriot leaders self-seeking
lawyers and shop-keepers, or debtors who wished to escape
paying their British creditors.



Independence Hall, Philadelphia
Where the Continental Congress met

Making New Governments. — The decision to separate
from Great Britain compelled the colonists to remodel their
provincial governments. Each colony now became a "state."
The royal governors and other oificers had already fled to
England or taken refuge with the nearest British garrisons or
fleets. William Franklin, the royalist governor of New Jersey,
though the son of Benjamin Franklin, had been seized by
the revolutionists and sent to a Connecticut prison. Not
only must the vacant oflSces be filled, but the governments
must be changed in part. John Adams said that the manu-
facture of governments was as much talked of as saltpeter
had been at the outbreak of war when powder was needed.

The only governments which required little change were
those of Connecticut and Rhode Island. There the people



Digitized by



Google



COLONIAL CONSTITUTIONS 193

had been permitted by the colonial charters to choose their
officers, including their governors. The local government
in town and coimtry was left imdisturbed.

Colonial Constitutions. — In the other colonies the new
form or frame of government was set forth in a document called
a constitution. This was decided
upon in a congress or convention
of delegates representing the
colony. In some cases it was re-
ferred to the voters themselves.
The first plan of a constitution in
Massachusetts was rejected by
the voters five to one. Each
constitution explained not only ;
what the officers could do, but
what they could not do. The
colonists had learned, either from
bitter experience with their Eng- j^^ ^^^

lish officers, or from their reading

of European history, to distrust officials. Bills or lists of
rights which the people claimed and which their officers
must respect were inserted in each constitution. Many of
these rights Englishmen had claimed as far back as the time
of the Magna Charta. Others, far-sighted Englishmen and
Europeans had only begun to claim in the seventeenth or
eighteenth century. The principal ones were "Trial by
Jury," "No Taxation without Representation," "Freedom
of the Press," "Freedom of Elections," and the "Right of
Assembly and Petition."

Governors and Legislators. — Governors chosen by the
people, or by their legislatures, took the place of royal gov-
ernors. The colonists, fearing "one-man" power, were care-
ful not to give their governors much authority. Most of the
powers which the royal governors had exercised were now



Digitized by



Google



194 THE BIRTH OF A NEW NATION

given to the legislatures. The legislators were elected for
only one or two years, to keep any of them from becoming
overbearing or tyrannical through long enjoyment of office.
Besides, the constitution-makers scattered the various powers
among the law-makers, the governors, and the judges in such
a way that one set of officials might act as a check upon
another.

Great care was taken to break away from many old-world
customs. No kings, no nobles, no class with special privileges
because of birth, such as existed almost everywhere in Europe,
were permitted by any of the American constitutions. When
some one in Virginia urged that the eldest son ought, at
least, to have a double share of his father's estate, Jefferson
replied, "Not until he can eat a double allowance of food
and do a double allowance of work." ^



Online LibraryElbert Jay Benton Henry Eldridge BourneA history of the United States → online text (page 13 of 44)