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and manly opposition, to convince our enemies that in a contest so important, a cause so solemn, our conduct shall be such as to merit the approbation of the wise, and the admiration of the brave and free, in every age and country.'

A committee was appointed by this convention to wait on the governor and request him to discontinue the fortifications on the neck at the south part of Boston, as it was matter of alarm to the country, and the soldiers were insolent and abusive to the people as they passed. But he declined; and referred to the military preparations making in various parts of the province.

The convention in Essex, at the same time, (September) was equally respectable, firm, and spirited. "Civil war," they said, "was to be deprecated, as a great calamity, but they were resolved to maintain their liberties at every hazard, even at the risk of life itself; as those could not die too early who laid down their lives in support of the laws and liberties of their country." Governor Gage forbid the town meeting called to choose delegates to attend the convention. But the committee, who conferred with him on the subject, expressed their opinion that the meeting was perfectly lawful and proper. He replied, "that he should not discuss the matter with them; he came not to argue, but to execute the laws of parliament, and was determined they should be executed." He added, "that if the citizens should assemble, he would send the sheriff to disperse them; and if the sheriff needed support, he would himself support him with his troops." The troops were, in fact, ordered to be in readiness; but before they received further orders, the people had chosen their delegates and separated. Warrants were made out to arrest the persons chosen, and some of them were arrested; but they found bail, and no further prosecution was had against them.

In compliance with the opinion and wishes of the people through the province, delegates were chosen in September, to meet in October, to attend to the public interests and safety, at that most critical period, when there was no general court, and the arm of power was stretched out to crush them. They met in Salem, to the number of 288, and chose John Hancock, President, and Benjamin Lincoln, Secretary; and adjourned to meet forthwith, at Concord. This body was called a provincial congress; and a large committee was appointed to consider the state of the province. They prepared an address to the governor, which was presented to him by a committee of twenty-one of the convention.* The purport of the address

*

This committee was composed of Col-Lee, Col. Ward, Col Orne,

was, that they had met to consult for the public welfare, and they now hoped that the measures, of which the people had complained, which were oppressive in their effects, and deemed to be infringements on their rights and liberties, would be pursued no longer, that the troops would be withdrawn, and all hostile preparations be discontinued. They professed their loyalty to the king, and expressed a desire for the restoration. of harmony with the parent government. The governor replied, that he felt himself justified in his conduct, and that there was no design to enslave or oppress the people; and he would have them reflect whether their meeting was not a violation of their charter, which they admitted to be their guide. The congress adjourned to meet at Cambridge the following week; when another committee was chosen to take measures for the defence of the province.

There was now a large military force in Boston, under the command of the governor, ready to obey him in the execution of any orders he might give. And he had already declared, that it was not his duty to justify the acts of the British ministry, but to enforce them. Great firmness and prudence were necessary in the provincial, as well as in the general congress. The object they had in view was most just and praiseworthy; it was the preservation of civil liberty, long enjoyed in the colonies. It was necessary that the means adopted to secure the blessing, should be wise and proper. Rash councils and violent proceedings might essentially injure the cause in which they were engaged. It was their policy to act merely on the defensive; or to adopt measures of precaution, and be prepared for any exigency which should occur. They had, indeed, already often petitioned and remonstrated, but it had been entirely in vain. The general congress had then recently adopted the same course Massachusetts had before pursued. Petitions were forwarded from that august body to the king, and to parliament; to the people of England; and to the people in the colonies. And the congress adjourned, to wait the event of their appeals and memorials to the British government.

Many of the committee of the provincial congress were military officers; and they were directed to ascertain the quantity of arms, cannon, and gunpowder, in the province; and to encourage military discipline among the citizens. The

Capt. Thomas Gardner, Henry Gardner, Esq., N. Gorham, Esq., Mr. Devens, Col. Pomeroy, Hon. Col. Prescott, Col. Thayer, Mr. Williams, Capt. Heath, Capt. Upham, Mr. Barnes, Capt. Doolittle, Mr. Lothrop, Major Thompson, Mr. Pickering, Mr. Palmer, Mr. Brown, and Mr. Thomp

son.

collectors of taxes were also directed not to pay the money in their hands, or to be received, to the treasure the province, who was then under the influence of the gover; but to retain it subject to the orders of the congress,

A soon after another treasurer was chosen to receive it. A commitee was then appointed, of an executive character, and called "the committee of safety," to continue to act after the adjournment: and three general officers were chosen to command the military of the province.†

The provincial congress met again the last of November, and continued in session fourteen days. Most of the counsellors, elected in May preceding, attended, as they had been requested. The delegates to the general congress from the province, having returned, and being members of this body also, appeared at this time; and communicated the proceedings of the congress, which had been held in Philadelphia; which were fully approved. Several of the counsellors appointed by the king, gave notice to the meeting, that they had declined the appointment. Five delegates were elected to attend another general congress, to meet at Philadelphia, in May following, unless business should require their meeting at an earlier day. They were the same persons who were delegates in the former congress, except Mr. Hancock was chosen instead of Mr. Bowdoin, who declined. An address was also made to the clergy in the province, requesting their influence in favor of a compliance, by the people, with the resolves for the disuse of British goods, and for the encouragement of manufactures among themselves. The clergy were the firm friends of civil liberty; and, during the whole controversy with England, and the struggle which followed, supported the patriots in their measures for maintaining the rights of the people.

When this provincial congress separated, on the 10th of December, it recommended to the people to choose delegates for another, to meet in February following, and published an address to their constituents; in which they observed, that they had adopted or proposed such measures as they believed proper, in the situation of the province; that it was necessary

*This committee consisted of Hon. John Hancock, Dr. Joseph Warren, Dr. B. Church, Mr. Devens, of Charlestown, Capt. B. White, Mr. J. Palmer, and Norton Quincy, of Braintree, Capt. A. Watson, of Cambridge, and Col. Orne, of Marblehead. And others were added to the committee afterwards.

These were Col. Ward, of Worcester, Col. Thomas, of Plymouth, and Col. Pomeroy, of Hampshire, who had been field officers in the war of 1756-'60; who were esteemed for their intelligence, patriotism and bravery; and who were afterwards appointed general officers.

for the people to be preparing to defend their liberties and rights; and yet that they had hope in the wisdom and clemency of the king, and in the justice of parliament, if they could have a true representation of the sentiments and designs of the colonists. The people were exhorted, "to consider their danger, and to be prepared to meet and avert it, by their love of liberty and of their country, by respect for the memories of their ancestors, and by a regard for posterity; and to remember that they must stand or fall with the liberties of America." The men who made this address were not innovators, nor were they ambitious, nor enemies of regular government and wholesome laws; they were moral, religious, discreet, intelligent, and desirous of enjoying themselves and handing down to their children that degree of civil liberty, which the people of the colony had possessed, and which the whigs, of 1688, in England, contended for and acquired. But the ministerial agents in the province were of opinion, that the people were not to judge what portion of freedom they must have; and should be thankful for what was granted them, as a privilege. It was, indeed, expressly declared, that the people in the colonies could not justly expect so much liberty, as those who were in England; and as they had chosen to settle and live at the distance of three thousand miles, they must be content with such a measure of freedom, as the British government might think sufficient for them.*

The new congress of Massachusetts met in February, 1775, as had been proposed. The committee of safety was continued, and its powers enlarged. They were clothed with authority to call out the militia, if necessary, and to oppose all attempts to enforce the obnoxious laws of parliament. They were also directed to take charge of the military stores and implements in the province. And the militia were desired to conform to their commands. A return of arms, ammunition, and of men, was ordered to be made, at an early day. Concord and Worcester were designated as suitable places to deposit the military stores. Two more general officers were appointed; and the people were urged to manufacture saltpetre as a material for gunpowder. Another address was also sent out to the people, appealing to their patriotic feelings, and exhorting them to prudence, firmness, and resolution, in the event of an attack on their liberties by force. A new committée was chosen to correspond with the other colonies; and the members from Boston were authorized to call a meeting at any time they might think neces

* See Hutchinson, Vol. III. 409. London ed. 1828.

sary. On the first of February, the provincial congress adjourned to the 22d of March. Mr. Hancock was chairman of the committee of safety, at this time; but when he went to Philadelphia, early in the spring, to attend the continental congress, Dr. Joseph Warren was appointed in his place.

Governor Gage was not ignorant of the proceedings of either the continental or provincial congress; and he was disposed to take possession of such military stores as were in the vicinity of Boston, where were his head quarters. He was informed that there was a quantity at Salem or Danvers; and he sent a detachment of 150 men, by way of Marblehead, whither they were transported by water, to seize them. When the troops reached Salem, it was said the stores were at Danvers. In proceeding to that village, it was necessary to pass a bridge, on the way from Salem. When the British troops arrived at the bridge, they found about fifty of the militia posted there under Colonel Pickering. They had taken up the bridge, and appeared determined not to permit the British detachment to pass. The commander of the corps ordered, that the planks of the bridge be replaced. But his orders were disregarded. The British officer was much excited, and declared he would proceed. Some of the citizens of Salem endeavored to prevail with him to return; intimating that if he attempted to pass by force, or should offer any violence, he would be opposed at every hazard, by the militia on the other side, who were then much increased in number, and were determined to oppose force to force. A compromise was effected.* The planks of the bridge were replaced; the British officer and some of his men were suffered to pass over, and then immediately returned. The affair was brought to an issue, without bloodshed. But it served to shew the British general, that the Americans had spirit and resolution to defend their rights; and to convince the latter, that there must be a resort to force, unless the people submitted to the arbitrary acts of the British parliament.

Rev. Dr. Barnard, of Salem, was acquainted with the British officer who commanded the party. He proceeded to the spot, and assured the officer that Col. Pickering and his men would never permit him to seize the stores.

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