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by Massachusetts, in the war of the Revolution, Mr. Sprague presents the following statements.
“New England, Massachusetts, then a feeble colony, alone raised the note of defiance against the whole power of the British empire ; not on account of any actual oppression practically felt, which alone could have roused the phlegmatic, the sordid, or the selfish; but for a principle, - a doctrine, — for the mere assertion that Parliament had a right to legislate over them. If they had been cold, calculating, and narrow-minded, if they had regarded themselves only, their ease, their safety, or their property, they would have submitted, and left future generations to battle for themselves. But they did not. They knew that the time had come, when they must relinquish their long-cherished visions of hope, their warm and glowing anticipations for their posterity, those free principles of government, which they had labored to establish for all future generations, for all mankind, or they must fight; and, however unequal, however desperate the conflict, they could not hesitate. Their purpose was no ebullition of passion, it was not a solitary gleam of patriotism, which shot up and expired, or a spasm of disinterestedness exhausted by one convulsive effort; but a continued and enduring enthusiasm and spirit of self-sacrifice, which has never been exceeded.
“ Exposed as she was on all sides, bordering for hundreds of miles on the territory of the enemy, and for hundreds more of seacoast open to every incursion of his invincible marine, still she did not confine her efforts within herself, but sent her sons wherever blows were to be dealt, or blood to be shed; among the foremost in every battle field, from the northern borders to the confines of Georgia ; in every enterprise of danger, in every scene of suffering, whether from the violence of the elements in the untented field, or half clothed, half fed, marching against British veterans, staining the frozen earth at every step with their unshod feet; or driving the western savages from their fastnesses; or traversing the frozen wilds of Maine and Canada in a winter's march, the most wonderful in history, far exceeding the celebrated retreat of the ten thousand or Hannibal's crossing the Alps.
“And those, too, who remained at home, scarcely less devoted and suffering, ever laboring in the same great cause, yielding up their property, parting with their last hoof, offering up their last bushel of grain, submitting to privation and want, and yet never faltering or doubting or hesitating in their course, until the work of absolute independence was accomplished. Would
that the records of every town and every association of New England could be inspected by the world. The public archives of the nation can do them but partial justice. By them, however, it is demonstrated that New England, and Massachusetts in particular, throughout the whole war, voluntarily furnished to ihe general cause contributions of men and money very far beyond her due proportion. As these facts are strikingly exhibited by the official documents, and I am not aware that a comparative statement has ever been presented to the public, — you will pardon me in this for going a little into detail, which I have not ventured upon any other topic.
“In the first year of the war, 1775, the whole number of Continental troops was 27,443, of which more than one half were from Massachusetts, then embracing the territory which now constitutes the State of Maine; and only 2,475 were from States out of New England.
“In 1776, when a more general organization had been effected, Massachusetts furnished more than all the four Middle States, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Deleware united, — and more than all the five States of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia united.
"In 1777 commenced a new era. In that and every succeeding year of the war, the quotas to be furnished from each State were prescribed by the Continental Congress. The requisitions upon Massachusetts and Virginia were always equal. But the liberality of the Bay State in complying with them far exceeded that of any other.
“ In each of the years 1777, ’78, '79, and '80, her contributions nearly equalled the whole of those from the four States of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware; or of the four States south of the Potomac, - Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
“In each of the years 1781, ’82, and '83, her single contributions very far exceeded the aggregate of those of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware, as also the aggregate of those of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
“If we combine all these years, and take the aggregates of the whole war, from 1775 to 1783 inclusive, it will be found that Massachusetts furnished more troops for the Continental service than all the Middle States just mentioned, and more than all the five States of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia ; and that, of the whole aggregate number from all the thirteen States, more than a fourth, approaching to indeed to one third, were from this Commonwealth alone!
“In pecuniary supplies, the contrast is scarcely less striking.
This Commonwealth not only contributed more than any
other State, but the excess of her payments into the general treasury, over what she drew from it, far exceeded that of any other. Indeed, the balance in her favor was not only greater than that of all the four Middle States before mentioned, or of all the four States south of the Potomac, with Maryland in addition, but exceeded that of all the other twelve united. Of the whole excess, more than half was from Massachusetts alone!
“During the whole war of the revolution, her preëminence was never questioned, -- then, in the day of trial and of terror, when the storm lowered and darkness covered our whole horizon, the first rank was freely conceded to her.”
pp. 19 – 22. This extract brings into view another of the current charges against the New England population, — that of their coldness. For a cold people, they have unquestionably been apt to kindle in past time rather easily; and that too sometimes at nothing more heating, than the prospect of some distant or abstract good or evil. Cautious and reserved, perhaps it may be truly said they are; and these are qualities of manner, which, however objectionable in point of gracefulness and power of conciliating, are often found connected with qualities of character, of the substantial class of selfrespect and love of consistency. But it can hardly be among a merely unseeling, phlegmatic people, that so many of the great benevolent enterprises of the day have had their origin. With the wisdom of those enterprises, all or any, we have nothing now to do. But it is scarcely to be denied that they are enterprises of an adventurous and comprehensive sort, indicating something of a sanguine temperament on the part of their projectors; and the more indeed any of them can be shown to be of a visionary character, the less do they agree with the theory of their having proceeded from a people merely calculating and frigid.
The truth is, there are certain traits, prominent in the New England character, such as love of order and the habit of self-control, which hasty observers mistake for tokens of a want of earnestness. Was there ever a more sublime rage than the people within a day's march of Boston were in, on the 19th of April, 1775 ? yet we lately heard an eminent Southwestern statesman amusing himself with the fact of their going to work, the day after, giving and taking depositions respecting the circumstances of the affray. Why not? What NO. 94.
did this show, but their love of right, order, and law, not suspended by the sanguinary work of a revolution ? They had fought for a cause, and they wished to make that good cause appear. They were not a riotous people, ready to go to blows with or without reason. They owed it to their respect for themselves and others, to show that they had not unnecessarily shed blood, at the free rate they did. It was no repenting of the conflict, or shrinking from its consequences or its prosecution ; for at the moment these depositions were taking, the country was pouring down its regiments of minute-men, under such epauletted justices of the peace, as could be spared, to seal up the invader hermetically within Boston neck. — Bunker Hill fight was a thing gone about with great deliberation and arrangement; but never before had militiamen done such desperate service. Nor let any of the gentlemen whom we have quoted suppose that when we refer to the valor and constancy which have made that day immortal, we are but imposing on them a Yankee version of General Jackson's exploit at New Orleans forty years later, with his Tennesseeans. If they doubt, we shall show them Southern authorities for the truth of the statement; and if they will ever wander into that polar and barbarous region of the Atlantic coast, which lies about 42° of north latitude, their eyes shall behold the very spot, where the thing we are telling of was done.
But respecting this attributed coldness in the New England character, we should do injustice to our readers to speak in any other than Mr. Sprague's words. With one more quotation from his eloquent address, we dismiss the subject, for the present. There are other connected topics on which we intended to touch; but our remarks have already extended themselves to an entirely unexpected length, and we have more than exhausted our space.
“ Enthusiasm was the characteristic of our fathers; they transmitted it to their posterity, and, startling as the proposition may seem, it has ever been the basis of the New England character ; — not indeed exhibited externally, and rarely open to superficial observation.
“ The Puritans, before they left their native country, were surrounded on all sides by enemies, and subjected to violence and oppression from the arm of government, to which they opposed only caution, circumspection, and a fixed immovable
resolution, necessarily begetting much of sternness and severity in their external demeanour. Ever calm and self-controlled, they adopted a rigid system of education for their children, by which outward manifestations of internal emotion were forbidden and repressed. But the fire which was not permitted to break forth, only glowed with the more enduring intensity within, the fountain of that restless energy of character which, whatever the object of pursuit, impels them forward with a boldness and activity equalled by no other people on earth. This is the great moral power which, however directed, is sure to produce the most striking results. From obvious causes, it has generally been directed to some branch of productive industry. Their poverty, their barren soil and ungenial climate, their laws of equal distribution of estates allowing no entailments or continued accumulations for posterity, have necessarily, in time of peace, thrown almost every New England man upon some gainful pursuit. He enters upon it with all his characteristic energy and perseverance; and hence the opinion that he is peculiarly sordid and avaricious. Others see only a thirst for gain, in what, in truth, is but one developement of his constitutional enthusiasm. He is seen calm, cool, self-subdued, with no apparent ardor of temperament, with no pressing physical wants, impelled not by the approach of starvation like the over-crowded population of other countries, yet going forward with an activity and inflexibility of purpose which outstrip all competition. He is seen upon the ocean, meeting the world on a fair field of equal competition, traversing every sea, penetrating every coast, daring every climate, everywhere producing greater results with less ineans than any competitor; and whatever his object, whether it be drawing its treasures from the bosom of the deep, or pressing with gainful commerce its heaving surface, pursuing it with a bolder spirit, grasping with a stronger hand, striking with a more unerring aim, and spreading his sails for a more daring flight. The same phenomenon is seen on land ; whether it be as a hunter beyond the Rocky Mountains, or a pioneer in selling the forest, and subduing the soil, or in building up cities and constructing rail-roads, still there is the same untiring devotion of all his time and all his faculties.
But those who think that gain alone is the governing and impelling motive, if they will but extend their observation, will see the same intensity in every other pursuit, although neither gold nor gain can be hoped. In war with the aborigines, where no spoils were to be won, they obtained a superiority, not merely from civilized arts, but in those qualities which civilization is supposed to enfeeble, and for which the savage is most