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* Of the 11 to 12 vote Garrier said to Kochford,
"That one vote was worth a million sterling." In
reply it was said, "It is worth nothing; for New
York will act with the other colonies, — she only differs
in her modes." Of this assembly, Dr. Golden wrote
to Dartmouth: " The assembly is to meet next Tues-
day. If I find there will not be a majority for prudent
measures, I shall incline to prorogue them for a short

1775] The Battle of Lexington 219

had accomplished the tasks assigned them and were
dissolved. With their governor absent from the colony,
their assembly prorogued, the patriotic element of
New York, now thoroughly united, chose a " commit-
tee of sixty " to carry into execution the suggestions
of the continental congress.

A ^*^ provincial convention". — The first step of
this committee was to issue a call to the counties, ask-
ing them to send delegates to a " provincial conven-
tion" which should choose Xew York's delegates to
the second continental congress.

The counties complied, and their delegates met at
the exchange in Xew York on April 20, 1775. The
first delegation to congress was continued; and to it
were added the names of George Clinton, Francis
Lewis, Lewis Morris, Eobert R. Livingston and Philip
Schuyler. New York's delegation now consisted of
ten members, — men who for ability, character, experi-
ence and patriotic devotion to the cause of liberty had
no superiors. Having completed the business for
which it was convened, this convention adjourned sine
die, April 22, 1775.

News of Lexington. — The next day, Sunday,
April 23, as the people were quietly wending their way
to church, a horseman came dashing through the city
streets telling, as he rode, the startling news of the
fight at Lexington.

If there had ever been any hope of a peaceful settle-
ment of their difficulties, it was now dissipated. Only
one other such day has ever been known in New York,
and that was the Sunday when all over the north was

220 Xew York ProviisK'IAL CoxGRESS [Period VI

flashed the news that Fort Sumter had been fired
upon. The churches were deserted, houses were
empty, and here and there as the news spread, people
gathered in groups upon the streets and discussed the
event. There was a feeling that Xew York must not
be left behind Massachusetts.

Seizure of British property. — In the bay were
two vessels loaded with provisions for the British
troops in Boston, The arms and ammunition in the
city hall were seized, and a force headed by those two
impetuous leaders, Isaac Sears and John Lamb, soon
had possession of the cargo of provisions valued at
£80,000. On Monday, volunteer companies formed
and paraded; the custom house was seized; Xew
York was in rebellion.

As the news spread, men left their farms, shops
were closed, schools were deserted, and men and boys
flocked in to join the ranks of the companies forming.

The ability of this people to govern themselves was
now thoroughly tested. There was no confusion. The
" committee of sixty " did not enlarge its own powers,
but instead, issued a call for the election by the free-
holders of a new "committee of one hundred", as
they quaintly said, " for the present unhappy exigency
of affairs ". The same call also asked the freeholders
to elect delegates to a " provincial congress " to meet
in New York.

Tlie New York provincial congress, 1775.—

This new committee met and solemnly resolved "to
stand or fall with the liberties of the colonies". The

17?5] Xew York Committed to Reyolutiox 221

*' provincial congress of Xew York ", which was to
take the place of the now defunct assembly, was chosen
and held its first meeting, May 22.

So was the government of the colony provided for
until, under the advice of congress, it should frame a
constitution and erect a new and permanent form of

The "committee of one hundred" took charge of
municipal affairs. It sent addresses to the lord-mayor
and corporation of London and to Lieutenant-Gover-
nor Golden, in which it said: " This city is as one man
in the cause of liberty. All the horrors of civil war
will never compel America to submit to taxation by
authority of parliament."

It also designated April 19, 1775, as the day on
which the rule of England ceased and the new govern-
ment began.

The situation. — Xew York was now thoroughly
committed to revolution. A governing body had been
established, the "provincial congress", entirely inde-
pendent of and owing no allegiance to the government
of England. This had been done by the open, free
vote of the people of the colony. By that act they
had cut the last tie that bound them to the mother-

While this movement had been precipitated by the
radical element, it had been guided by the foremost
minds in the colony. The century that has passed
since that day only brings into stronger relief the sub-
lime devotion of those men to the cause of human

222 Patriots and Tories [Period VI

Patriots and tories. — There were now but two
parties in N^ew York; these
came to be known as " patri-
ots " and "tories". Presi-
dent Cooper of Kings col-
lege, a thorough royalist,
had written much on the sub-
ject of " colonial relation to
England". With him re-
mained the college faculty,
but his pupils soon found
MTLEs COOPER. 173^ their way into the patriot

ranks. Friends of the established church, by natural
sympathy, were tories. So were many of the large land-
holders and recent immigrants from England. But
they were in a hopeless minority. To the patriots
gathered all the old Dutch residents, the Huguenots,
Scotch, Irish, Welsh, and the English from the JSiew
England colonies. The merchants were divided, but
mechanics and laborers, generally, were unanimous for
the cause of liberty.


1. Great meeting in the fields ; committee of " fifty-
one"; duty of; July 6, 1774.

2. HamiltoTi's address; action at meeting.

3. Delegates to first continental congress; contest
of three parties over their election.

4. Departure of delegates.

5. First continental congress; action of.

6. Governor Golden on the "crisis".

7. Action of New York assemblv.

1775] Summary 223

8. English comment on it.

9. Assembly prorogued.

10. Xew York's first provincial convention, April
20, 1775.

11. Delegation to second continental congress.

12. The news from Lexington; action of Xew York

13. Appointment of the committee of sixty, and
its action.

14. The new committee of one hundred, 1775.

15. The first provincial congress of Xew York.

16. Important date, April 19, 1775.

17. Situation in New York; patriots and tories.





Beginning of the Struggle

Hostilities begun^ 1775. — Having now undertaken
to maintain their rights by force of arms, the colonies
no longer hesitated. Xew York's delegates joined
those of Massachusetts, and on May 8 proceeded on
their journey to Philadelphia.

The first American victory. — Scarcely had they
departed, when a party of volunteers under Ethan
Allen were on their way to the old, historic fortress,
Ticonderoga. There was much in its history to inspire
the thought of its capture, and besides guarding the
route to Quebec it contained more than one hundred
cannon and large quantities of military stores. When,
on the early morning of May 10, the towering form
of Ethan Allen, saber in hand, startled its sleeping
commander, there had been no warning, and there
was, therefore, neither opportunity for defence nor
time for parley. The surrender of Crown Point fol-
lowed, and Benedict Arnold, making a dash for Lake
Champlain, took the only British ship on the lake. So
it happened that the first forts taken from the British
were on New York soil, and there the first British

garrison laid down their arms.


1775] AVashingtox Commander-in-chief 327

In Xew York city, a regiment of English troops
about to embark for Boston was stopped by a band of
unarmed sons of liberty with Colonel Marinus Willett
at their head. Their first intention was to make the
whole regiment prisoners of war. They were finally
allowed to depart, after giving up several cart-loads
of extra guns which they were taking with them.

These events gave a new direction to American
affairs. The strife which had been entered upon for
rights became a war for independence, and the conti-
nental congress, which had been intended as an advi-
sory council, became a governing body.

Washington commander-in-chief.— On June 15,
congress elected Washington commander-in-chief; the
next day he accepted the office and on the 22d was on
his way to Boston. He must pass through ^ew York.
The patriots there wished to give the new commander-
in-chief an appropriate welcome, but they did not, as
yet, wish to offend Governor Tryon*.

Each honored guest was to be met and escorted into
town by a force of militia. The question arose,
'' What if both should arrive at the same hour ? "
The militia-colonel was equal to the occasion. Wash-
ington would come by land and cross the Hudson;
Tryon would land at the Battery. The colonel placed
his troops half-way between the two landing places,
prepared to face either way. Fortunately Washington
was the first to arrive, and the colonel was saved the
embarrassment of attempting to bow in twe directions
at the same time.

*Who had already entered the bay, on his return
from England.

228 Begini^ij^g of the Struggle [Period VII

Washington was received by the provincial congress
with very stiff formality, but later Tryon was wel-
comed with great demonstrations by the tories.

The Johnsons. — In the interior of New York,
affairs were assuming a critical condition. Sir William
Johnson had died, but he was succeeded in his influ-
ence over the Indians by his son-in-law, Colonel Guy
Johnson, while his large estate near the present village
of Amsterdam had been inherited by his son. Sir John.
These two espoused the cause of England and kept
toryism alive in the Mohawk Valley.

Colonel Guy Johnson held a council of the six nations
at Oswego, where he formed an alliance of all the Iro-
quois with the English.

The patriots under the advice of General Schuyler
put forth every effort to have the Indians remain
neutral in the impending conflict. Had England
done the same, she would have escaped much harsh
crticism, at home and abroad, and the war would have
lacked many of its barbarities*. In this effort, the
Americans failed (doubtless through their inability to
furnish the necessary "presents"), and the influence
of the Johnsons, thenceforth, became supreme among
all the Iroquois.

Expedition against Canada^ 1775. — During the
summer months, interest had centered mainly in the
stirring events taking place around Boston, but with
the approach of winter the feeling became general that
something must be done to protect the frontiers of
New York.

*See Declaration of Independence.


Capture of Moxtreal


For this purpose an expedition against Montreal was
determined upon, contrary to the advice even of the
continental congress. General Philip Schuyler was
placed in command, but he fell ill and the expedition
was led by General Richard Montgomery.

Capture of Montreal.— Montgomery, though still
a young man, had seen much service in the royal army.
He had been with Wolfe at Quebec, and was a bold,
efficient leader. Descending Lake Champlain with his
800 militia he took Fort Chambly and the small post
at St. Johns, and hardly pausing to rest, pushed on to
Montreal, which was also soon taken.

While this little band of heroes was shivering before
Montreal, another and equally brave company was
forcing its way through the dense forests of Xew
Hampshire to Quebec. This was a small detachment
from Washington's army under Benedict Arnold.
Starving, freezing, having lost nearly one-half their
number, they suddenly appeared near Quebec, so
emaciated that they seemed to the Canadians an army
of spectres.

Death of Oeueral Montgomery. — The two com-
manders soon joined forces
and determined upon the im-
mediate capture of Quebec.
While they, made their prepa-
rations, Christmas passed,
and on the last day but one
^^^^^ V hsttK.^-W ^^ l'^*^5, the assault was or-
^HBi ^i' iW dered. With Montgomery

'^^' were Captain John Lamb of

Xew York and a young lad,

RfCHAKU Montgomery. 173ti-lT75 , t, t ii i

— Aaron Burr. In the charge

230 Embassy to Canada [Period VII

upon the works, Arnold and Lamb were severely
wounded, — the latter being taken prisoner, — and Mont-
gomery fell mortally wounded at the head of the col-
umn, shouting, " Men of Xew York, you will not fear
to follow where your commander leads! Forward!
Quebec is ours! "

Quebec was not taken, but the moral effect of the
campaign was very great. The remnant of that brave
band struggled back through the deep Canadian snows
to Ticonderoga, but it had convinced the world that
the Americans were in earnest, and would fight.

This campaign had not been made against Canada
but against the English soldiery there. From the first
it had been hoped that the Canadians would make
common cause with the colonies.

The embassy to Canada^ 1776. — Very early in the
spring of 1776, congress sent a delegation, with Dr.
Franklin at its head, fully empowered to treat with the

Franklin was then seventy-two years of age, yet, at
the call of his country, he willingly undertook this
tedious journey of more than 500 miles. The mission
was not successful. Through the influence of the
British soldiery, Canada, as well as the Iroquois con-
federacy, was lost to the Americans.

Situation in New York city. — The winter had
been a gloomy one for Xew York. Completely shut
in by sea, where English men-of-war controlled every
thing, the city had communication only by land.
Suspicion and fear possessed the minds of all. The
governor, apprehensive for his own safety, had taken

1776] Attack upon the Press 231

up his quarters on board the '''Duchess of Gordon''^
in the bay, from which he had free communication
with the city. From that safe retreat he fostered the
spirit of toryism on shore. Within the city, the differ-
ences which had separated patriots and tories widened
into intense bitterness. The taunts of the tories, the
threats of invasion, the work of Tryon's emmissaries,
all maddened the people, and personal encounters be-
came common.

Business in the city was at a standstill ; work could
not be obtained at any price, and those who would
employ had no means with which to pay. All who
could go, fled to the country. Some, discouraged,
forsook the patriot cause, but the great mass of the
people remained true and urged their leaders to more
active operations.

Sears and Rivington. — The one royalist printer
in the city was James Riv-
ington. In his paper, the
Royal Gazette, he had de-
nounced the Americans and
had been particularly severe
on Isaac Sears, who had now
removed to Xew Haven.
Late in November, Sears
rode into town at the
head of seventy-five Con-^ rimn.ton. 17^4-180-2 ncctlcut horsemcu, placed a

guard about Rivington's printing-house, forced open
the doors, smashed the presses, and, loading the type
into sacks, carried it away to be melted into bullets.
The cool-headed men of the city deplored the act,


The Johnson Family [Period V^II

while the committee of safety condemned it as a viola-
tion of the right of free speech.

Jolinsoii and his tories^ 1776. — In the month of
January General Schuyler
undertook a most dangerous
task. The Johnsons con-
tinued to add fuel to the
liames that they had kindled
in the central part of New
York. It was reported that
Sir John Johnson had
gathered about him his
Scotch highlander tenants
and Indian allies and intend-
ed to devastate the Mohawk Valley. The Xew York
congress, by the advice of the continental congress,
ordered General Schuyler to take measures for disarm-
ing these hostile forces.

At the head of a body of troops, Schuyler marched

Sir John Johnson. 1742-1830





\ ly^g





Residence of Sir William Johnson

from Albany to the Johnson estate on the Mohawk

1776] Summary 233

river, and demanded, as the only terms of peace, the
immediate surrender of all the arms and supplies in
the hands of the tories and Indians under his leader-
ship. He also demanded Johnson's individual parole
of honor that he would not in any way do injury to
the patriot cause. On January 19, 1776, the stores
were delivered at Johnstown, and a force of Scotch
highlanders laid down their arms.


1. First offensive operations, 1775; Ticonderoga,
Crown Point; Xew York city.

2. The continental congress.

3. Washington and Tryon in Xew York.

4. The Johnsons.

5. The Iroquois.

6. Expedition against Canada; Montgomery and
Arnold; Aaron Burr and Captain Lamb.

7. The embassy to Canada.

8. Xew York city and Tyron.
0. Sears and Rivington.

10. Johnson; his tories and General Schuyler.


Charles Lee, 1781-1782

The Wak transferred to X^ew York, 1776

Xew York called disloyal. — Two misfortunes hap-
pened to Xew York in Janu-
ary. Sears, who had much
more valor than discretion,
finding himself not appreci-
ated in Xew York made his
way to Washington's camp
at Cambridge. There he
made the acquaintance of
General Charles Lee. Sears
convinced Lee, and Lee con-
vinced Washington, that
Xew York was rapidly drifting into toryism. In this
statement there was not one word of truth, yet Lee to
his great delight was commissioned to proceed to X^ew
York and put matters to rights in that city. The-first
intimation Xew York had of his appointment was his
appearance, borne upon a litter (for he had the gout),
at the head of 1,500 Connecticut troops, with Sears as
his adjutant. It was an insult to the patriotism of
the city.

A British squadron in the bay. — On the same day
Sir Henry Clinton appeared in the harbor with[a British
squadron. It is doubtful which party created most Jap-
prehension in the city. Lee undertook to assume com-



Xew York a Loyal City


mand at once. He was a man of small ability, and
soon found that the problem which faced him was
much more difficult than he had supposed. The
people were entirely satisfied, when, in March follow-
ing, he was assigned to another command in the south.
General Lee was succeeded temporarily by General
William Alexander, known
as Lord Stirling*, a more
modest man, possessed of
good sense and able to under-
stand the situation in Xew
York. He very soon dis-
covered that everything pos-
sible was being done, with
the city surrounded as it was
by deep water w^ays, all fully
commanded by British ships.
Stores of powder and shot were being secretly accumu-
lated, arms collected, and cannon cast. Even ships
were being privately armed under the very muzzles of
the British guns.

Stirling wrote to General Washington: "I am sur-
prised at the courage and ingenuity of these people."
They were soon to be tested.

On the loth of March, Washington wrote to Stirling
that, in his opinion, Howe was about to evacuate Bos-
ton, and that he would probably proceed to Xew York.

Preparation for defence. — Sir Henry Clinton
with his fleet did not remain in Xew York many days.

* Stirling was an English lord and an American

W^iLLiAM Alexander
Lord Stirling

236 Arrival of Washixgtois" [Period VII

This made it less difficult to prepare for defence. The
entire available force of the city was already under
arms. The committee of safety was active. Requisi-
tions were sent out for the militia from the various
counties. A few regiments from Pennsylvania arrived.
In April. General Israel Putnam was sent to take com-
mand. He at once established rigid military rule, and
ordered the construction of more batteries.

Everything possible for the protection of the city
had been accomplished before Howe, crowded out of
Boston, sailed by way of Halifax for Xew York with
his 8,000 veterans. Fortunately he delayed his com-
ing until June, thus giving the Americans time for
further preparation for his reception.

Washington in New York. — Washington scarcely
waited to take possession of Boston and the stores left
there by Howe, before he started for Xew York, tak-
ing with him a part of his force and gathering more as
he proceeded on his march. On April 13 he reached
New York. Hardly had he begun w^ork, when congress
summoned him to Philadelphia. There were sharp
divisions in that body. Lt was learned that England
had not only all the Xew York Indians and the Cana-
dians as allies, but that she had hired a large force of
German mercenaries*.

While there was no question as to the righteousness
of their cause, many of the Americans were stunned
by the difficulties which they saw before them. Fur-
ther, the question of independence had now come to
the front and was being pressed for decision.

* See Declaration of Independence.

1776] Delegates TO THE Provincial Congress 237

Washington did not tarry in Philadelphia, but
hastening back to Xew York, bent every energy for
its defence.

The June election of 1776. — There never was a
grander illustration of the true principles of liberty
than was afforded by Xew York, when on June 19,
1776, by the advice of leading patriots, a new election
of delegates to the provincial congress was ordered.
With active preparations for war going on, with a
British fleet bearing an army of invasion hourly ex-
pected, the polls were opened and the free-holders of
the colony were given an opportunity to choose between
submission to England and the unknown fortunes of
a war for independence.

The result was that nearly every member was re-
elected, and the provincial congress was charged to
vote for absolute separation from the crown. This
was the body which in the following month changed
the name of Xew York's legislature to "the conven-
tion of representatives".

New York and the Declaration of Independ-
ence. — On July 2 the continental congress had agreed
upon the Declaration. The formal vote was not
taken until the 4th. The news reached Xew York
July 9, and was received with the wildest demonstra-
tions of joy. Bells were rung and cannon boomed
while British men-of-war rode at anchor in the bay.
Flags were flung to the breeze, and in the evening the
city was ablaze with bonfires.

By AVashington's orders, the Declaration of Inde-
pendence was read to every brigade of troops in the

238 Declaration^ OF Independence [Period VII

vicinity, and everywhere the soldiers greeted the news
with shouts of applause. An immense concourse of
people, moved by a common impulse, went to the city
hall, tore the portrait of George III from the wall, cut
it into strips, and trampled it under foot. Then, pro-
ceeding to Bowling Green, they pulled his equestrian
statue down, horse and man, and with shouts dragged
it through the streets. This they declared should be
'' run into bullets for his hireling soldiery "*.

Washington, although appreciating the gravity of
the situation much better than the people, sternly dis-
approved the act and published an order to that effect.

The provincial convention and the Declaration.
— New York was now a military post, — a city of camps,
and the situation so threatening that the "conven-
tion" had withdrawn to White Plains.

There were 38 men present when the Declaration
was read. With one voice they agreed to sustain it
with their lives and their fortunes. To them this
meant much, for they realized that independence
could be established only through much sorrow and
suffering. Personally, they must sacrifice both station
and wealth. Van Rensselaer, Van Cortlandt, Schuy-
ler, the Morrises and the Livingstons understood that
it meant the loss of inherited wealth and the abandon-
ment of ancestral estates. To the representatives
from the interior it meant still more. It meant in-
vasion, and a return to the savagery of Indian wars,
the tomahawk and the scalping-knife.

New York's delegation in congress had not yet signed
the declaration; they had waited for instruction from

*The British soldiers retaliated a few weeks later by
demolishing the statue of Pitt.

1776] Washington recognized as General 239

the people of their State. On the day that the vote
was taken at White Plains a swift messenger was
started for Philadelphia, with instruction to "sign",

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