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unsupported to perish, who had so earnestly and so repeat-
edly sought to avoid the calamities of war, by every decent
method which wisdom could invent. Neither have I so
much of the infidel in me, as to suppose that he has relin-
quished the government of the world, and given us up to the
care of devils ; and as I do not, I cannot see on what grounds
the King can look up to heaven for help against us. A com-
mon murderer or highwayman has as good a pretence as he.

It is surprising to see how rapidly a panic will sometimes
run through a country. All Nations and ages have been
subject to them. Britain has trembled like aa ague, at the
report of a French fleet of flat-bottomed boats ; and in the
fourteenth century, the whole English army, after ravaging
the Kingdom of France, was driven back, like men petrified
with fear ; and this brave exploit was performed by a few
broken forces, collected and headed by a woman, Joan of
Arc. Would that heaven might inspire some Jersey maid
to spirit up her countrymen, and save her fair fellow-sufferers
from ravage and ravishment ! Yet panics, in some cases,
have their uses : they produce as much good as hurt. Their
duration is always short : the mind soon grows through them,
and acquires a firmer habit than before. But their peculiar
advantage is, that they are the touchstones of sincerity and
hypocrisy, and bring things and men to light, which might
otherwise have lain for ever undiscovered. In fact, they
have the same effect upon secret traitors, which an imagi-
nary apparition would upon a private murderer. They sift
out the private thoughts of man, and hold them up in public
to the world. Many a disguised tory has lately shewn his
head, that shall penitentially solemnize with curses the day
on which Howe arrived upon the Delaware.

As I was with the troops at Fort Lee, and marched with
them to the edge of Pennsylvania, I am well acquainted
with many circumstances, which those w ho live at a dis-
tance, know but little or nothing of. Our situation there
was exceedingly cramped, the place being on a narrow
neck of land, between the North river and the Hackinsack.
Our force was inconsiderable, being not one fourth so great
as Howe could bring against us. We had no army at hand
to have relieved the garrison, had we shut ourselves up, and
stood on the defensive. Our ammunition, light artillery, and
the best part of our stores had been removed, upon the ap-


prehension that Howe would endeavour to penetrate the
Jerseys, in which case Fort Lee could have been of no use
to us ; for it must occur to every thinking man, whether in
the army or not, that these kind of field-forts are only fit
for temporary purposes, and last in use no longer than the
enemy directs his force against the particular object which
such forts were raised to defend. Such was our situation
and condition at Fort Lee, on the morning of the 20th of
November, when an officer arrived with information, that
the enemy, with two hundred boats, had landed about seven
or eight miles above. Major-General Green, who command-
ed the garrison, immediately ordered them under arms, and
sent, express to his Excellency General Washington, at the
town of Hackinsack, distant, by way of the ferry, six miles.
Our first object was to secure the bridge over the Hackin-
sack, which lay up the river, between the enemy and us,
about six miles from us, and three from them. General
Washington arrived in about three quarters of an hour, and
marched at the head of his troops to the bridge, which place
1 expected we should have a brush for. However, they did
not choose to dispute it with us : and the greatest part of the
troops went over the bridge, the rest over the ferry, except
some which passed at a mill, on a small creek, between the
bridge and the ferry, and made their way through some
marshy grounds, up to the town of Hackinsack, and there
passed the river. We brought off as much baggage as the
waggons could contain ; the rest was lost. The simple ob-
ject was to bring off the garrison, and to march them on till
they could be strengthened by the Jersey Pennsylvania mi-
litia, so as to be enabled to make a stand. We staid four
days at Newark, collected in our out-posts, with some of
the Jersey militia, and marched out twice to meet the ene-
my, on information of their being advancing, though our
numbers were greatly inferior to theirs. General Howe, in
my opinion, committed a great ertar in generalship, in not
throwing a body of forces off from Staten Island through
Amboy, by which means he might have seized all our stores
at Brunswick, and intercepted our march into Pennsylvania.
But if we believe the power of hell to be limited, we must
likewise believe that their agents are under some providen-
tial controul.

I shall not now attempt to give all the particulars of our
retreat to the Delaware. Suffice it, for the present, to say,
that both officers and men, though greatly harrassed and
fatigued, frequently without rest, covering, or provision, the


inevitable consequences of a long retreat, bore it with a
manly and a martial spirit. All their wishes were one; which
was, that the country would turn out, and help them to
drive the enemy back. Voltaire has remarked, that King
William never appeared to full advantage, but in difficulties
and in action, The same remark may be made on General
Washington, for the character fits him. There is a natural
firmness in some minds, which cannot be unlocked by
trifles, but which, when unlocked, discovers a cabinet of
fortitude; and I reckon it among those kind of public bless-
ings which we do not immediately see, that God hath bless-
ed him with uninterrupted health, and given him a mind
that can even flourish upon care.

I shall conclude this paper with some miscellaneous re-
marks on the state of our affairs; and shall begin with ask-
ing the following question. Why is it that the enemy hath
left the New England provinces, and made these middle
ones the seat of war ? The answer is easy. New England
is not infested with Tories, and we are. I have been ten-
der in raising the cry against these men, and used numberless
arguments to shew them their danger: but it would not do
to sacrifice a world to either their folly or their baseness. The
period is now arrived, in which either they or we must
change our sentiments, or one or both must fall. And
what is a Tory? Good God ! what is he? I should not be
afraid to go with an hundred Whigs against a thousand Tories,
were they to attempt to get into arms. Every Tory is a cow-
ard, for a servile slavish, self-interested fear is the founda-
tion of Toryism : and a man under such influence, though
he may be cruel, can never be brave.

But before the line of irrevocable separation may be
drawn between us, let us reason the matter together. Your
conduct is an invitation to the enemy ; yet not one in a
thousand of you has heart enough to join him. Howe is as
much deceived by you, as the American cause is injured by
you. He expects you will all take up arms, and flock to his
standard with muskets on your shoulders. Your opinions
are of no use to him, unless you support him personally ;
for it is soldiers, and not Tories, that he wants.

1 once felt all that kind of anger which a man ought to
feel against the mean principles that are held by the Tories.
A noted one, who kept a tavern at Amboy, was standing at
his door, with as pretty u child in his hand, about eight or
nine months old, as most T ever saw ; and after speaking his
mind as freely as he thought was prudent, finished with the


unfatherly expression, " Well, give me peace in my days."
Not a man lives on the continent, but fully believes that
separation must some time or other finally take place, and a
generous parent would have said, " if there must be trou-
" ble, let it be in my days, that my child may have peace ;"
and this single reflection, well applied, is sufficient to awak-
en every man to duty. Not a place upon earth might be so
happy as America. Her situation is remote from all the
wrangling world, and she has nothing to do but to trade
with them. A man may easily distinguish in himself be-
tween temper and principle, and I am as confident, as I am
that God governs the world, that America never will be
happy till she gets clear of foreign dominion. Wars, with-
out ceasing, will break out till that period arrives, and the
continent must, in the end, be conqueror ; for though the
flame of liberty may sometimes cease to shine, the coal
never can expire.

America did not, nor does not want force ; but she want-
ed a proper application of that force. Wisdom is not the
purchase of a day, and it is no wonder we should err at first
setting off. From an excess of tenderness, we were unwil-
ling to raise an army, and trusted our cause to the tempo-
rary defence of a well-meaning militia. A summer's expe-
rience has now taught us better ; yet with those troops,
while they were collected, we were able to set bounds to the
progress of the enemy ; and, thank God, they are again
assembling. I always considered a militia as the best troops
in the world for a sudden exertion, but they will not do fora
long campaign. Howe, it is probable, will make an attempt
on this city ; should he fail on this side of the Delaware, he
is ruined; if he succeeds, our cause is not ruined. He stakes
all on his side against a part on ours; admitting he succeeds,
the consequences will be, that armies from both ends of the
continent will march to assist their suffering friends in the
middle states ; for he cannot go every where ; it is impos-
sible. 1 consider Howe as the greatest enemy the tories
have ; he is bringing a war into their own country, which,
had it not been for him, and partly for themselves, they had
been clear of. Should he now be expelled, I wish, with all
the devotion of a Christian, that the names of Whig and
Tory may never more be mentioned ; but should the tories
give him encouragement to come, or assistance if he come,
1 as sincerely wish that our next year's arms may expel
them from the continent, and the Congress appropriate their
possessions to the relief of those who have suffered in well-


doing. A single successful battle next year will settle the
whole. America will carry on a two-years' war, by the con-
fiscation of the property of disaffected persons, and be made
happy by their expulsion. Say not that this is revenge ;
call it rather the soft resentment of a suffering people, who,
having no object in view but the good of all, have staked
their own all upon a seemingly doubtful event. Yet it is
folly to argue against determined hardness. Eloquence may
strike the ear, and the language of sorrow draw forth the
tear of compassion, but nothing can reach the heart that is
steeled with prejudices.

Quitting this class of men, I turn, with the warm ardour
of a friend, to those who have nobly stood, and are yet de-
termined to stand the matter out. I call not upon a few,
but upon all ; not on this state, or that state, but on every
state. Up and help us. Lay your shoulders to the wheel.
Better have too much force than too little, when so great an
object is at stake. Let it be told to the future world, that in
the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue
could survive, that the city and the country, alarmed at one
common danger, came forth to meet and to repulse it. Say
not that thousands are gone : turn out your tens of thou-
sands : throw not the burden of the day upon providence,
but shew your faith by your good works, that God may bless
you. It matters not where you live, or what rank of life
you hold ; the evil or the blessing will reach you all. The
far and the near, the home counties and the back, the rich
and the poor, shall suffer or rejoice alike. The heart that
feels not now, is dead. The blood of his children shall
curse his cowardice, who shrinks back at a time when a
little might have saved the whole, and made them happy.
I love the man that can smile in trouble that can gather
strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. It is
the business of little minds to shrink : but he, whose heart is
firm, and whose conscience approves his conduct, will pur-
sue his principles unto death. My own line of reasoning is
to myself, as straight and clear as a ray of light. Not all
the treasures of the world, so far as I believe, could have in-
duced me to support an offensive war, for I think it murder ;
but if a thief break into my house burn and destroy my
property, and kill, or threaten to kill me and those that are
in it, and to " bind me in all cases whatsoever," to his abso-
lute will, am I to suffer it? What signifies it to me, whether
he who does it, is a King or a common man ; my country-
man, or not my countryman ; whether it is done by an in-


dividual villain, or an army of men? If we reason to the
root of things we shall find no difference ; neither can any
just cause be assigned, why we should punish in the one
case, and pardon in the other. Let them call me rebel, and
welcome ; I feel no concern from it ; but I should suffer the
misery of devils, were I to make a whore of my soul, by
swearing allegiance to one whose character is that of a sot-
tishj stupid, stubborn, worthless, brutish man. J conceive,
likewise, a horrid idea in receiving mercy from a being who,
at the last day, shall be shrieking to the rocks and moun-
tains to cover him, and fleeing with terror from the orphan,
the widow, and the slain of America.

There are cases which cannot be overdone by language ;
and this is one. There are persons, too, who see not the
full extent of the evil that threatens them. They solace
themselves with hopes, that the enemy, if they succeed, will
be merciful. It is the madness of folly, to expect mercy
from those who have refused to do justice ; and even mercy,
where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war. The
cunning of the fox is as murderous as the violence of the
wolf, and we ought to be equally on our guard against
both, Howe's first object is partly by threats, and partly
by promises, to terrify or seduce the people to give up their
arms, and receive mercy. The Ministry recommended the
same plan to Gage ; and this is what the Tories call making
their peace " a peace which passeth all understanding,"
indeed. A peace which would be the immediate forerunner
of a worse ruin than any we have yet thought of. Ye men
of Pennsylvania, do reason upon these things! Were the
back countries to give up their arms, they would fall an easy
prey to the Indians, who are all armed. This, perhaps, is
what some Tories would not be sorry for. Were the home
counties to deliver up their arms, they would be exposed to
the resentment of the back counties, who would then have
it in their power to chastise their defection at pleasure. And
were any one state to give up its arms, that state must be gar-
risoned by all Howe's army of Britons and Hessians, to pre-
serve it from the anger of the rest. Mutual fear is a prin-
cipal link in the chain of mutual love, and woe be to that
state that breaks the compact. Howe is mercifully inviting
you to a barbarous destruction, and men must be either
rogues or fools that will not see it. I dwell not upon the
vapours of imagination ; I bring reason to your ears, and in
language as plain as A, B, C, hold up truth to your eyes.
I thank God, that I fear not. 1 see no real cause for fear.



I know ftur situation well, and can see the way out of if.
While our army was collected, Howe dared not risk a bat-
tle; and it is no credit to him, that he decamped from the
White Plains, and waited a mean opportunity to ravage the
defenceless Jerseys ; but it is great credit to us, that, with
an handful of men^ we sustained an orderly retreat, for near
an hundred miles, brought off our ammunition, all our field-
pieces, the greatest part of our stores, and had four rivers to
pass. None can say, that our retreat was precipitate ; for
we were near three weeks in performing it, that the country
might have time to come in. Twice we marched back to
meet the enemy, and remained out till dark. The sign of
fear was not seen in our camp ; and bad not some of the
cowardly and disaffected inhabitants spread false alarms
through the county, the Jerseys had never been ravaged.
Once more, we are again collected and collecting. Our new
army, at both ends of the Continent, is recruiting fast ; and
we shall be able to open the next campaign with sixty thou-
sand men, well armed and clothed. This is our situation
and who will, may know it. By perseverance and fortitude
we have the prospect of a glorious issue; by cowardice
and submission, the sad choice of a variety of evils a ra-
vaged country a depopulated city habitations without
safety and slavery ' without hope our homes .turned into-
barracks and bawdy-houses for Hessians and a future race
to provide for, whose fathers we shall doubt of! Look on
this picture, and weep over it ! and if there yet remains one
thoughtless wretch, who believes it not, let him suffer it

December, 1776,



No. II.


'* What's in the name of lord, that I should fear
*' To bring my grievance to the public ear ?"


UNIVERSAL empire is the prerogative of a writer. His
concerns are with all mankind, and though he cannot com-
mand their obedience, he can assign them their duty. The
republic of letters is more ancient than monarchy, and of
far higher character in the world than the vassal court of
Britain. He that rebels against reason is a real rebel, but he
that in defence of reason, rebels against tyranny, has a bet-
ter title to " defender of the faith" than George the Third.

As a military man, your lordship may hold out the sword
of war, and call it the " ultima ratio regum" the last rea-
son of Kings ; we in return can shew you the sword of jus-
tice, and call it, " the best scourge of tyrants." The first of
these two may threaten, or even frighten, for a while, and
cast a sickly languor over an insulted people, but reason
will soon recover the debauch, and restore them again to
tranquil fortitude. Your Lordship, I find, has now com-
menced author, and published a Proclamation ; I too have
published a Crisis ; as they stand, they are the antipodes of
each other ; both cannot rise at once, and one of them must
descend ; and so quick is the revolution of things, that your
Lordship's performance, I see, has already fallen many de-
grees from its first place, and is now just visible on the edge
of tTie political horizon.

It is surprising to what a pitch of infatuation, bliud folly,
and obstinacy will carry mankind, and your Lordship's
drowsy Proclamation is a proof that it does not even quit
them in their sleep. Perhaps you thought America too was

B 2


taking a nap, and therefore chose, like Satan to Ere, tot
whisper the delusion softly, lest you should awaken her.
This Continent, Sir, is too extensive to sleep all at once, and
too watchful, even in its slumbers, not to startle at the un-
hallowed foot of an invader. You may issue your Procla-
mations, and welcome, for we have learned to k< reverence
ourselves," and scorn the insulting ruffian that employs you.
America, for your deceased brother's sake, would gladly
have shewn you respect, and it is a new aggravation to her
feelings, that Howe should be forgetful, and raise his sword
against those who, at their own charge, raised a monument
to his brother. But your master has commanded, and yoi*
have not enough of nature left to refuse. Surely there must
be something strangely degenerating in the love of monarchy
that can so completely wear a man down to an ingrate, and
make him proud to lick the dust that kings have trod
upon. A few more years, should you survive them, will
bestow on you the title of an old man, and in some hour of
future reflection, you may probably find the fitness of Wol-
sey's despairing penitence : " Had I served my God as
faithfully as I have served my King, he would not thus
have forsaken me in my old age."

The character you appear to us in is truly ridiculous.
Your friends, the Tories, announced your coming with high
descriptions of your unlimited powers ; but your Procla-
mation has given them the lie, by shewing you to be a com-
missioner without authority. Had your powers been ever
so great, they were nothing to us, farther than we pleased - r
because we had the same right which other nations had, to
do what we thought was best. " The United States of
America," will sound as pompously in the world, or in
history, as " the Kingdom of Great Britain;" the character
of General Washington will fill a page with as much lustre
as that of Lord Howe ; and the Congress have as much
right to command the King and Parliament of London to
desist from legislation, as they or you have to command the
Congress. Only suppose how laughable such an edict would
appear from us, and then, in that merry mood, do but turn
the tables upon yourself, and you will see how your Procla-
mation is received here. Having thus placed you in a proper
position, in which you may have a full view of your folly, and
learn to despise it, I hold up to you, for that purpose, the fol-
lowing quotation from your own lunarious Proclamation.
" And we (Lord Howe and General Ho we) do command (and
in his Majesty's name forsooth), all such persons as are assem-


Med together under the name of general or provincial Con-
gresses, committees, conventions, or other associations, by
whatever name or names known or distinguished, to desist
and cease from all such treasonable actings and doings."

You introduce your Proclamation by referring to your
declarations of the 14th of July and 1 9th of September. In
the last of these, you sunk yourself below the character of a
private gentleman. That I may not seem to accuse you
unjustly, I shall state the circumstance. By a verbal invita-
tion of yours, communicated to Congress by General Sul-
livan, then a prisoner on his parole, you signified your
desire of conferring with some members of that body as
private gentlemen It was beneath the dignity of the Ame-
rican Congress to pay any regard to a message that at best
was but a genteel affront, and had too much of the minis-
terial complexion of tampering with private persons ; and
which might probably have been the case, had the gentle-
men, who were deputed on that business, possessed that
easy kind of virtue which an English courtier is so truly
distinguished by. Your request, however, was complied
with, for honest men are naturally more tender of their civil
than their political fame. The interview ended as every
sensible man thought it would ; for your Lordship knows,
as well as the writer of the Crisis, that it is impossible for
the King of England to promise the repeal, or even the
revisal, of any acts of parliament; wherefore, on your part
you had nothing to say, more than to request, in the room
of- demanding, the entire surrender of the Continent ; and
then, if that was complied with, to promise that the inha-
bitants should escape with their lives. This was the upshot
of the conference. You informed the conferees that you
were two months in soliciting these powers. We ask, what
powers ? for, as commissioner, you have none. If you mean
the power of pardoning, it is an oblique proof, that your
master was determined to sacrifice all before him ; and that
you were two months in dissuading 'him from his purpose.
Another evidence of his savage obstinacy 1 From your own
account of the matter, we may justly draw these two con-
clusions: first, that you serve a monster ; and secondly, that
never was a commissioner sent on a more foolish errand
than yourself. This plain language may perhaps sound un-
couthly to an ear vitiated by courtly refinements ; but words
were made for use, and the fault lies in deserving them, or
4he abuse in applying them unfairly.

Soon after your return to New York, you published a very


illiberal and unmanly hand-bill against the Congress ; for it
was certainly stepping out of the line of common civility,
first to screen your national pride by soliciting an interview
with them as private gentlemen, and in the conclusions to
endeavour to deceive the multitude by making an hand-bill
attack on the whole body of the Congress; you got them

Online LibraryThomas PaineThe political and miscellaneous works of Thomas Paine .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 9 of 65)