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entirely dependent upon the Crown, it was intended to lessen the means of resistance in the old colonies, by diminishing their territory, and by raising up a rival colony with which they could never cordially coalesce; to say nothing of the chance of gradually extending to other colonies more or less of the same arbitrary system of government which had been provided for Canada. The appointment, for the first time, of the commanderin-chief of the army to be the governor of a colony, and the changes in the criminal law, were all indicative of the same ministerial views and intentions.

Thus satisfied of the hostile purpose of those who then administered the government of Great Britain, as well as of the mighty power they possessed of carrying that purpose into effect, what was the wisest course for Congress to pursue? Should they temporize, and take the chances that delay might give, or at once put an end to that connection which was found to be no longer compatible with their liberty and safety?

But for the last alternative they scarcely had the power, even if they had the inclination. The people they represented were not yet prepared to cut the cords that had so long and so happily bound them to the fatherland. The severance was not yet wished even by themselves.

It has been alleged by some historians that the independence of the colonies was already the aim of their leading politicians; and it is certain that this charge had been frequently urged by the colonial governors and others in their communications to the ministry. But it appears by the positive testimony of those who were best informed on the subject,' that such was not the fact.

1 See Life of Jay; Jefferson's Autobiographical Memoir; Franklin's Works.




It is true that the future independence of the colonies was occasionally spoken of, but only as a remote event altogether uncertain as to time, just as the future independence of Canada, or Australia, or British India is now regarded as a probable occurrence in some distant future.

Supposing their independence impracticable, it remained for Congress to endeavor to produce a change of purpose in the British government, as had been formerly effected in the case of the stamp act; and if their efforts should prove unavailing, and the ministry should persevere in their present scheme of coercion, then to devise the best means of resistance.

But for the success of either alternative, a cordial union of the colonies, as to their views and measures, was indispensable; and to such a union there were not a few obstacles. Their newly-formed confederacy was composed of some twelve or thirteen communities differing widely in character, pursuits, and circumstances, as we have seen, and they were not exempt from those local jealousies and prejudices that are so common a consequence of neighborhood. Nor were they agreed as to the extent of their own rights, or the precise character of the relation between them and Great Britain. The greater part of them recognized the distinction between duties imposed for the regulation of trade and for revenue, with which distinction they had been long familiar; and they would have been content to make a formal admission of the one, if Great Britain would make a formal renunciation of the other.

But this was not the case with all, and especially with the people of Massachusetts. They had been induced, by their commercial character, to examine the subject more thoroughly, and had become convinced that the

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1774.] CONGRESS MEETS AT CARPENTER'S HALL. distinction would, in practice, prove unavailing. They saw no difference, for example, in its consequences to themselves, between the stamp tax and the duty on imported sugar; and the last, though it indubitably levied money on the colonists, to be paid into the British exchequer, might be regarded as a regulation of trade. The leading men of that province then decided to deny the right of the British Parliament to draw money from the colonies, in any way, without the consent of their respective Legislatures.

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Some were even disposed to go a step further, and to maintain that the only connection between Great Britain and her colonies was that they were the subjects of a common sovereign, who had a negative on the laws enacted by their several Legislatures; and that the political relation between the mother country and her colonies was the same as that which existed between England and Scotland after the accession of James, and before the Union; or that which then existed between England and Hanover. Mr. Jefferson says that such was the theory adopted both by himself and Mr. Wythe.' To countervail these sources of discord the colonies had only the same ardent attachment to civil freedom, and the same sense of common danger to their dearest rights. These, however, proved sufficient to overcome the principles of repulsion, and to fuse them into a mass which became at once homogeneous and firm.

Forty-five deputies from eleven colonies having assembled at Carpenters' Hall, in the city of Philadelphia, on the fifth of September, they unanimously appointed Peyton Randolph of Virginia their President. He was

1 This broad doctrine is not, however, clearly asserted either in Mr. Jefferson's "Summary of the Rights of America," or in the instructions which he prepared for the first deputation to Congress sent by Virginia.



[CHAP. II. the Speaker of the House of Burgesses in that colony, and was further recommended for that office by dignity of appearance and deportment. Charles Thomson of Philadelphia, a man of talents and integrity, was appointed their Secretary.

One of the first questions presented to their consideration was the mode of voting in a confederation of communities so unequal in population; and though a disposition was at first manifested to have some regard to their respective numbers in the votes of the different colonies, yet that course being strongly objected to by the smaller colonies, and there being no existing materials for a just apportionment, it was decided that each colony should have one vote. But in adopting a rule so obviously unjust, they took the precaution to assign as a reason for it, that "Congress neither possessed nor was then able to procure proper materials for ascertaining the proportion of each colony." They also decided to deliberate with closed doors, and that all their proceedings should be secret, until a majority should direct them to be published.

It being important that the course taken by the colonies should stand fair in the eyes of mankind both at home and abroad, a committee was appointed to state the rights of the colonies, the several instances in which those rights had been violated, and the means most proper for obtaining redress; which committee consisted of two members from each colony.

Another committee of one member from each colony was appointed to report the several acts of Parliament which affected the trade or manufactures of the colonies.

On the fourteenth, two deputies attended from North Carolina, and in the course of the session ten others from different colonies attended, making the whole




number to whom the destinies of America were confided, fifty-six.'

While the committees were employed in discussing the weighty subjects assigned to them, Congress received certain resolutions from the County of Suffolk in Massachusetts, which set forth in spirited and glowing language the sufferings then endured by the people of that province; the further abuses of British power with which they were threatened; and the measures which prudence recommended to the people of that colony in self-defence. They concluded with professing entire submission to the Continental Congress then in session.


For a better understanding of these resolutions we must revert to the recent course of events in Massachusetts. From the time of General Gage's arrival as Governor of the province, there were continual altercations between him and its Legislature (the General Court) until he dissolved it in June. In spite of his efforts to prevent them, the people of Boston entered into an agreement not to import or consume British goods; which agreement they called "a solemn league and covenant." In the mean time seven British regiments had arrived in Boston, and the neck which connects its peninsula with the main land was fortified by Gage. The military stores of the colony which were deposited at Cambridge, and the powder in other magazines, were also seized by him. It was immediately after these hostile indications that the people of Suffolk, the County which contains Boston, met and passed the resolutions mentioned.

'This comprehends Simon Boerum of New York, who having received his appointment from some three or four persons, without authority, has been omitted by some historians.

2 In May, 1774.

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