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contained so many objectionable features that its
amendment was soon found to be necessary, the fact
remains that in its general provisions it was more lib-
eral than that adopted by any other State. It guar-
anteed absolute freedom of religious profession and
worship to every citizen. A property qualification of

258 Constitution of 1777 [Period VII

£20 was required for the elective franchise, but no dis-
crimination was made on account of race or color.

The legislative body consisted then, as now, of two
branches, and to the assembly, as being nearest the
people, was committed the greater share of responsi-

The governor was made chief executive, but was
stripped of much of the power he had held under the
crown. He no longer had judicial functions, so care-
ful were the framers to do away with every vestige of
arbitrary power.

Appointive officers. — In the first constitution
there were several very striking peculiarities. Most of
the officers of the State were appointed. The gover-
nor, lieutenant-governor, senators, and assemblymen
were the only State officers elected by the people.
The town clerks, supervisors, assessors, constables, and
collectors were elected, but every judiciary officer,
from the chief justice of the State to the town justice
of the peace Avas appointed.

This anomaly was the result of an almost universal
feeling that the people could not be entrusted with
such important and delicate matters. To provide for
such offices a " council of appointment" was created.
This consisted of one senator from each district, ap-
pointed by the assembly. Over this council the governor
presided and had a "casting vote". In time, this
council became a most powerful and corrupt monopoly.

The council of revision. — Another peculiarity of
the constitution was the council of revision. The
committee that framed the constitution, in creating an

1777] The first State Government 259

assembly that should come directly from the people,
felt sure that they could not be entrusted with the im-
mense powers of legislation. In appearance the
assembly was to have legislative powers, but in fact
these were taken from them by the council of revision,
which consisted of the governor, the chancellor, and
the judges of the supreme court. By the provisions
of the constitution, all bills which should pass the sen-
ate and assembly must be submitted to this council
before they could become laws. The council possessed
the veto power now held by the governor.

In other particulars the provisions of the first con-
stitution have been mainly retained in subsequent re-
visions. It was never submitted to the people, but was
immediately put into operation by the committee
which framed it.

Mr. Jay had prepared an additional article providing
for the abolition of slavery, which he intended to sub-
mit before the final vote was taken, but by his necessary
absence for one day this article failed to be incor-
porated. By this unfortunate circumstance, New
York lost the honor of being the first State to blot out
the barbarism of human slavery.

The council of safety. — The convention of rep-
resentatives, by creating a written constitution, ceased
to exist on the day that the colony of Xew York be-
came the State of Xew York. That no unforeseen
event might endanger the completion of the work it
had so well begun, on May 3, 1777, it created a
"council of safety" of 15 members, as a temporary
body to put the nev/ government in operation.

Before it adjourned the convention appointed John


CoNSTiTUTioi^ OF 1777 [Period VII

Robert R. Livingston. 1746-181

Jay chief justice, Robert R.
Livingston chancellor, and
other necessary judges.

It being impossible to hold
elections in Xew York,
Kings, Queens, and Suffolk
counties, the convention ap-
pointed the senators and
assemblymen for those dis-
tricts. It defined the crime
of treason, and for it im-
posed the penalty of death. It also declared that all
grants of land made within the State by any person
acting under the authority of the king of England
after Oct. 14, 1775, should be "null and void". In
May the convention adjourned, and the "council of
safety" undertook the difficult task of inaugurating
the new government.
New York's first election*, 1777.— In June the
first election occurred, when
George Clinton was chosen
governor and Perie Van
Cortlandt, lieutenant-gover-
^ ■-■ nor. Governor Clinton was

jL then in active service in the

.,^^|9H^L/^Hk continental army, and he

^H^^^^. i^ continued his military duties
^^^^■^ ^^ until after the surrender of
Burgoyne in the succeeding
summer. Few more able




George Clinton. 1739-1812
Governor, 1777-1795, 1801-1804

*The first meeting of the new legislature was held at
Kingston, and the first speaker was Walter Livingston.

1777] Summary 261

men have ever occupied the governor's chair. He was
a trained lawyer, and had good military ability. He
was at this time but 37 years of age, yet he had been
in public life for ten years. He was six times elected
to the office of governor of his State.


1. Xew York convention of representatives and its

2. The first State constitution; origin and nature;
the men who framed it; first governor.

3. Its publication; its provisions.

4. Council of safety, and first election.


Burgoyne's Invasion, 1777

New York the battle-ground. — While the people
of Xew York had been establishing their form of
government, active military operations had gone on.

Early in the spring it was seen that Xew York would
be the main field of operations. There were two rea-
sons for this. The cautious but firm attitude of the
New York patriots had for years been most galling to
King George and his ministry. To humble that proud
colony would be counted a special stroke of good for-
tune. Its geographical position, the very point that
had 133 years before made King Charles covet it from
the Dutch, now made it desirable that the patriot
power there should be crushed. For this purpose a
most elaborate campaign was planned.

The plan of campaign. — Lake Champlain, as far
as Crown Point, was already
in British hands. Burgoyne
with a strong force, amply
equipped, was to ascend the
lake, take Ticonderoga, and
sweep southward to the Hud-
son. From the west, by way
of the Mohawk, St. Leger
was to advance to his support
with an army of British reg-
ulars, Hessian riflemen. Sir

Baruy St. LE(iEK. 1787-1789

177?] Capture of Ticonderoga 263

John Johnson's Royal Greens and Butler's Rangers
(two tory organizations), and all the warriors from four
Iroquois tribes, — the Oneidas, and Tuscororas refus-
ing to join him.

• These alone would seem to be sufficient, but to make
assurance more than sure, Lord Howe was to ascend
the Hudson and meet the other forces in the vicinity
of Albany. It was an admirable plan; surely not one
" rebel " militia company could escape being caught
in the net.

To make the outlook still darker for Xew York, there
was a lack of harmony at Philadelphia among those
who should direct the defence.

Ticonderoga taken.— General Schuyler was in com-
mand in Xew York, and with his usual energy was
^ J. exerting J^imself to interpose every

^'^^^^/r'^r obstacle that human ingenuity
^£^V'f"'^'*¥^ could devise, to retard the advance
J^^|A|^^^ of the enemy. In the midst of his
j|P^^^^^"'""' " labors he was superseded and then
^-'^^ *"* restored, — too late to save Ticonde-

plan of Ticonderoga ^oga. Its cvacuatiou was a military
^~*~'^ necessity, though so many were the

traditions of that old fortress, it had come to be con-
sidered the very Gibraltar of American independence.
Burgoyne occupied Ticonderoga in July, almost
without opposition. The news of its capture threw
King George into transports of delight. On hearing
of it, he rushed into the Queen's apartments, danc-
ing like a child and shouting, " I have beaten the
Americans! I have beaten the Americans! "


Schuyler and Gates [Period VII

Geu. Schuyler's plans. — Even at Philadelphia the
loss of Ticonderoga was felt to be a disaster. General
Schuyler comprehended the situation much better.

He knew thoroughly the
ground over which Burgoyne
must advance. To the Amer-
icans Ticonderoga was abso-
b ' ■' J3I lutely valueless. Its capture

I ^l^'^^te^^. necessitated a garrison and

weakened Burgoyne's army.
Schuyler^s plan was to let
Burgoyne advance well into
the State where the Ameri-
joHK BURGOYNE. 1722-1792 ^^^ f ^j.ggg ^^^i(j |3g concen-
trated and then to give battle when and where the
greatest advantage could be secured.

Philip Schuylek, 1733-1804 Horatio Gates, 1728-1806

Schuyler's enemies succeeded in getting him removed
(see page 269), and Gates took his place; but all the
events of the campaign proved the wisdom of its first
conception, and Schuyler, not Gates, was the real con-
queror of Burgoyne.

1777] iSteCtE of Fort Stanwix 265

Siege of Fort Stanwix. — Events did not await the
arrival of General Gates, nor did General Schuyler
abate one jot of that enterprise for which he was so

justly celebrated. Learning
of the advance of St. Leger
from Lake Ontario, Schuy-
ler placed a strong garrison
in Fort Stanwix. To com-
mand this important post,
he detailed Colonel Peter
Gansevoort, a bold, energetic
%^'/ ^^^^ v[^2,xi. Though but 28 years
of age, he possessed the cool-
PETER GANSEvooKT, 1749-1812 ^^gg ^^^ steadiucss of a vet-
eran. Colonel Marinus Willett was sent to assist him.
St. Leger rapidly advanced against the place with a
motley force of British regulars, tories, Hessians, and
Indians, eighteen hundred in number. On Aug. 3, the
fort was invested.

Battle of Oriskany. — This invasion aroused the
patriots of Xew York. Gen-
eral Nicholas Herkimer gath-
ered a force of 800 Tryon
county militia and hastened
to the relief of Stanwix. On
the morning of Aug. 6, he
reached Oriskany creek, some
six miles from the fort. The
morning was sultry; his men
were weary. It was neces-

^ Nicholas HEKKiMER, 1715-1777 g^^^ ^^ ^^^^^ ^ Small, boggy

j ravine by a narrow corduroy road. This he was doing

1777] Battle of Oriskaxy 267

without due caution, when a force of Indians and
tories in ambush fired upon him. At the first fire
General Herkimer fell, severely wounded. For an
instant his men quailed, but the voice of their wounded
commander rallied them, and again they rushed to the
attack. While ammunition lasted, they fought at a
distance, from behind trees; when ammunition failed,
they fought at close quarters, with clubbed muskets
and bayonets against tomahawks*.

From ten in the morning until three in the after-
noon the fight raged. At that hour Colonel Willett
led a sortie from the fort against the besiegers. This
forced the recall of the troops sent against Herkimer,
and the bloodiest battle of the revolution was over.
The patriots had lost 200 killed, — one-fourth of their

The siege of Fort Stanwix was now pressed with
vigor by St. Leger, and again General Schuyler deter-
mined to send help to the brave garrison. It was a
dangerous errand, and volunteers were called for.

Six hundred men offered to go, and General Arnold
volunteered to lead them. Before another man could
have decided on a plan, Arnold and his band were well
on their way, pushing up the Mohawk. With all his
impetuosity, Arnold was also fertile in devices. The
story of the ruse by which he spread terror through
St. Leger's army has many variations but it served a
purpose f.

* The presence of former neighbors on opposite sides
made this one of the most sanguinary battles of the war.

t The best version, and probably the correct one, is
briefly as follows. With St. Leger were two honest

268 The Stars and Stripes unfurled [Period VII

The siege was raised Aug. 22. St. Leger, British,
Hessians, Canadians, tories and Indians were soon on
their way back to Canada faster than they came, leav-
ing all their belongings to the Americans. It is prob-
able that Arnold's name had quite as much to do with
the hasty retreat as had the fabulous number of troops
he was supposed to be leading*.

Xew York boys, Hon Yost Schuyler and a younger
brother. These lads were sent out with a small party
to reconnoitre to the east, and fell into the hands of
Arnold, who threatened to put Hon Yost to death.
He was finally released on condition that his brother
should remain as a hostage, while he should rejoin St.
Leger and give out the story that Arnold was rapidly
approaching with 2,000 men. Hon Yost carried out
his agreement, escaped from the British, returned to
the American camp, and obtained his brother's release,
when both joined the patriot army.

* It is claimed that the "stars and stripes" as au-
thorized by act of congress,
June 14, 1777, were first
unfurled over Fort Stanwix

f during the siege. When

Colonel Willett made his
sortie, he captured a large
quantity of English flags
and Indian blankets. From
these and " ammunition
^nnM^v shirts", with bits of red
W/tr contributed by members of

'^^m^iK^^ the garrison, and an old cam-

Mauinus Willett, 1740-1830 Jg^ cloak, with mUCh labor

and no little skill, the soldiers manufactured the first
American flag and hoisted it to the view of the be-
sieging force.

177T] Burgoyne's Advance 269

Advance of Burgoyiie.— While these stirring events
were taking place, General Burgoyne was confidently
pushing his way southward in accordance with the
grand plan of the campaign. He published bombastic
" orders ", intended to inspire courage in his own
troops and strike terror to the hearts of " the rebels ".
He had with him 3,700 British regulars, o,000 German
auxiliaries, 400 Indians, 475 artillerymen and 250
Canadians. AVith this force he swept all before him
until on July :30 he reached Fort Edward on the Hud-
son. He had been delayed only a month by the op-
position he had met on the way but this had given
time to rally the militia until General Schuyler had
over 4,000 men, poorly armed but brave and loyal, with
which to oppose him.

Schuyler superseded.— Fortunately Burgoyne lin-
gered at Fort Edward until
the middle of August, allow-
ing the troops from Fort Stan-
wix to rejoin Schuyler, all of
whose plans had, so far,
worked well. But in con-
gress his enemies had been
busy, and August 4th General
Horatio Gates arrived and
superseded him. Schuyler

Thaddeus Kosciusko. 1746-1817 i p l ■ j.

was so much or a patriot
that he quietly bowed to the will of congress, received
the new commander courteously, and continued to do
his duty.

The American forces were now encamped at Bemis


Battle of Bennington [Period VII

Heights, where Kosciusko* had erected fortifications,
while Burgoyne had crossed the Hudson and was reap-
ing the harvests on General Schuyler's homestead in
the vicinity of Saratoga, in entire ignorance of the
disaster that had befallen St. Leger.

Battle of Beiiiiiiigton, 1777. — Meantime, while
he waited, it occurred to Burgoyne that it would be a
good plan to send a small force to gather some stores
which he learned the Americans had accumulated at
Bennington, Vt.

For this purpose he selected Colonel Baum with 500
Hessians, a regiment of British regulars, one of tories,
and 100 Indians, — in all about 1,800 men.

But he reckoned without John Stark. This man,
not then in active service,
rallied the farmers of Ver-
mont, and with a small mili-
tia force from Xew Hamp-
shire attacked Baum and
defeated him. Reinforce-
ments came from Burgoyne,
but more militia came also,
and a second engagement
occurred on the same day,
Aug. 16, in which the British
were entirely routed, losing over 200 killed and
wounded, while 700 were taken prisoners.

* Kosciusko a captain in the Polish army came to
America in 1776 and served with distinction until the
close of the revolution. His subsequent career in his
own country demonstrated his ability as a soldier and
his high character as a man.

John Stark. 17:28-1822

1777] Battle of Bemis Heights 271

It was another case of " going out after wool and
coming back shorn ". This battle was really fought
on Xew York soil in the town of Hoosic, but within
sight of the spires of Bennington. It was a severe
blow to Burgoyne. Many of his Indians now deserted
him; his force was growing weaker, while that of the
Americans was steadily being augmented.

First battle of Saratoga, Bemis Heiglits, 1777.

— Still confident of aid from the south, Burgoyne
moved steadily forward. In such contempt had he
and his officers held the Americans, that they had
brought with them their wives, and in some instances
their children, on a holiday excursion through the
forests to Albany.

Advancing slowly, Burgoyne was soon face to face
with the Americans at Bemis Heights. It was now
too late to retreat. His enemies, still increasing,
swarmed all about him. His camp became insecure.
Musket bullets and cannon balls penetrated the tents
where the women huddled in terror. On Sept. 19 a
desperate conflict raged from one o'clock till sundown,
with no great advantage to either army. The Ameri-
cans retired within their trenches; the British biv-
ouaced on the field and buried their dead. Both
parties had suffered heavy losses.

Benedict Arnold relieved of command. — Here a
quarrel occurred between Arnold and General Gates.
Arnold had held the post of honor in the battle and
wished to renew the fight. Gates forbade him, and
words followed, which resulted in Arnold's being re-
lieved of his command.

272 Loss OF Two Forts [Period VII

A note goes astray. — Anxiously now, Burgoyne
waited for Sir Henry Clinton, who had sent word
that on Sept. 22, he would attack the strongholds of
the Hudson.

Sir Henry Clinton, 1738-1799 .Tamers ( "linton. 1736-1812

Burgoyne returned word that he could hold his place
until Oct. 12. His message fell into the hands of the
Clinton for whom it was not intended, — Governor and
General George Clinton commanding Fort Montgom-
ery; his brother, James, commanded Fort Clinton, just
below. This gave the two patriot brothers time to
prepare for the defence.

Forts Montgomery and Clinton taken.— Unfor-
tunately these two fortifications were intended only to
bar the progress of the enemy up the Hudson ; on the
landward side they were weak. Sir Henry sent from
New York two strong columns around the mountains
to attack them in the rear. The garrisons made a
stout resistance, but in the end were overpowered and
driven to the river's edge. Night coming on, a large
number of them escaped*.

*It was a singular circumstance that the brothers,
George and James Clinton, met in the darkness while

177v] Battle of Stillwater 273

Sir Henry Clinton had not anticipated resistance,
and his losses detained him. He did, however, break
the great chain at Anthony's Xose, and got as far as
Newburg, from which place he sent an encouraging
word to Burgoyne. But it was too late. Burgoyne's
supplies were running short, so he determined on an
eifort to escape toward Albany, where he hoped to find
Sir Henry Clinton. On Oct. 7 he moved. Instantly
the Americans were upon his track, and the second
battle of Saratoga had begun*.

Second battle of Saratoga, Stillwater, 1777. —
The forces were now nearly equal, but the steady valor
of Burgoyne's men was hardly a match for the terrible
onset of the Americans.

Slowly the British were forced back to the works
they had left in the morning. Every foot of the
ground was fiercely contested and guns were taken and
re-taken in hand-to-hand conflicts.

Benedict Arnold's valor. — While this had been
going on, Arnold, inactive, with no command, was
pacing back and forth before his tent in fierce rage.
Finally, as the lull in the battle told him it was again

searching for some means of crossing the river. They
found a small skiff which would hold but one. Each
insisted that the other should take it and escape.
Finally, James, being the stronger man, forced the gov-
ernor into the skift* and shoved him off. General James
Clinton finally found a horse which he mounted, and
making a dash through the British lines escaped,
though severely wounded.

* Commonly called the " second battle of Saratoga ",
though it occurred nearer Stillwater, as the other took
place on Bemis Heights.

274 Surrender of Burgoyne [Period YII

indecisive, he flung himself on his coal-black charger
and dashed for the front. Gates sent messengers to
recall him. He avoided them, and riding in front of
the American lines, he called on the men for one more
charge. With shouts they responded. The result
was but partially successful. Bidding them hold the
ground they had gained, he rode to another part of
the field and led an impetuous charge upon the Brit-
ish flank, which swept them from their works. Just
as the brigade he led was streaming over the enemy's
works, Arnold's horse was killed and he was severely

All this time General Gates was in his tent, to all
appearances an uninterested spectator. The victory
had been fairly won by Schuyler, and its fruits had
been gathered by Arnold, so recently deprived of com-
mand. Had Benedict Arnold died on this battle field,
his fame would have been secure; his name forever
held in honor.

Burgoyue's surrender. — The next day, Oct. 8,
was by both parties given to the care of the wounded
and the burial of the dead. That night a cold
autumn rain set in and Burgoyne determined on a
retreat toward Lake George. He had been staying in
General Schuyler's mansion. This he burned with all
the mills and expensive out-buildings, and then started
his broken, dispirited remnant of an army northward.

Everywhere the enemy swarmed about him. Which-
ever way he turned he met a pitiless, relentless foe.
Beaten and baffled, on Oct. 17 he surrendered his entire
remaining force of about 0,000 men.

1777] Pitt's Last Appeal -^75

There were many pathetic scenes in connection with
this surrender. Burgoyne's soldiers as they laid doAvn
their arms wept like children, while the soldiers who
had conquered them showed no exultation.

General Schuyler's beautiful home was in ruins, but
he treated the loss as one of the fortunes of war — a
sacrifice for his country's sake.

General Henry Clinton at Kingston, 1777. —

The day of Burgoyne's surrender, Sir Henry Clinton's
forces reached Kingston. Its population was then
about 3,000, among whom were many families of
wealth and distinction. General Vaughn, who was in
command of the British, burned the town. Few
buildings escaped the flames, schools and churches
sharing the same fate as the mansions of the rich and
the modest homes of the poor.

One story illustrates the spirit of the times. From
Kingston, Vaughn crossed the Hudson and burned the
house of every patriot within reach. There, in her
beautiful residence at Clermont, Mrs. Livingston,
mother of the chancellor, was caring for some wounded
British officers. They otfered to extend their protec-
tion over her property. She bravely declined to be an
exception among her neighbors. Taking a few valu-
ables, she left her home, and from a distance calmly
saw it reduced to ashes.

Pitt's last appeal. — While this campaign was go-
ing on, and before its result was known in England,
Pitt, Earl of Chatham, then in declining health, asked
to be carried to the House of Lords that he might
make one more appeal against the insane policy of the

276 High-tide of the Revolution [Period VII

king and his ministry. In the feeble voice of a dying
man he declared: "You cannot conquer the Ameri-
cans; your forces may ravage but they can never con-
quer. I might as well talk of driving them before me
with this crutch. We are the aggressors. We have in-
vaded them. We have tried for unconditional submis-
sion. Try what can be done by unconditional redress. "
He moved for a redress of all American grievances, and
that they be given the rights of self-government. The
vote was lost and in its stead one was secured for 100,-
000 men and ten millions in money for the prosecution
of the war.

The battle of Brandywine. — Less brilliant, but
just as resolute, had been the action of the American
army at the south. Entirely maneuvered out of Xew
Jersey, Howe had sailed for the Delaware. On Aug.
25 he landed his troops and began his march toward
Philadelphia. On Sept. 11 occurred the battle at
Brandywine Creek, m which Washington was defeated.

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