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Ani round about-absorbed, he heeded not
The land was free! 0! with what pride I used To walk these hills, and look up to my God, And bless him that it was so. It was free From end to end, from cliff to lake, 'twas free! Free as our torrents are that leap our rocks, And plough our vallies, without asking leave: Or, as our peaks, that rear their caps of snow, In very presence of the regal sun! In my boat at night, when midway o'er the the lako, The stars went out, and down the mountain gore, The wind came roaring I have sat and eyed The thunder breaking from his cloud, and smiled To see him shake his lightnings o'er my head, And think I had no master, save his own! I have thought of other lands, whose storms Are summer flaws to those of mine, and just Have wished me there—the thought that mine was free Has check'd that wish, and I have raised my head, And cried in thraldom to that furious wind, Blow on! This is the land of liberty !" Such were the freedom-inspiring surroundings of our forefathers, who laid the foundations of civil liberty, and of local independence on this continent. The cradle of liberty was here rocked by the untrammeled winds of heaven.
Man's soul was made free by ten thousand procla. mations issued by the voice of Nature and Providence, which spoke by the authority of charters older than the records of human governments, and diviner than the statutes of legislative enactments.
Every man's bosom was a kingdom! Every man's soul was a king! Vast forests, hills, vallies, rivers, lakes, fields, were his subjects.
He commanded them, and they obeyed. Each in its turn paid tribute to his wants, and in due time poured wealth and plenty into his lap.
Here he grew in greatness and power, becoming progressively more free and independent, as he subju. gated the continent to his will, until at length the institutions of government grew under his hand into a temple of liberty that commanded the wonder and ad. miration of the world.
That was the Union !
HISTORY OF THE UNION.
The Union was not made-it grew. It came not out of unity, but disunity. It was formed by thirteen distinct and independent colonies, which, with extreme caution, even with reluctant steps, approached each other whenever the subject of forming a General Gov. ernment was started.
They had known the independence of states, and the liberties of the people, to fall so often under the cen. tral power of general governments, that they heard with dread and distrust the very name.
The first effort at colonial combination on this conti. nent was made among the New England colonies as early as 1643-144 years before a union of all the colonies was effected.
This early New England confederacy was formed as much from distrust of the Dutch settlement upon the Hudson, as it was for mutual protection against the hostile Indians upon their frontiers
This confederacy, which was called “ The United Colonies of New England,” purported to be “ petual league of friendship and amity.”
It lasted thirty years.
It contained provisions for enlargement by receiving other English colonies to its communion. But it was never enlarged.
Limited as it was in its members, and cautiously restricted as it was in its powers, five years were con.
sumed in perfecting it. And when, at last, the organi. zation was completed, it was purely federal in its nature-each colony retaining entire jurisdiction within its territorial limits.
No such thing as a general government was permitted to exercise the least control over the separate colonial sovereignties.
No other colony was ever added to this confederacy, and as the dangers which at first suggested its formation passed away, it gradually faded out itself with the abrogation of the New England charter, in the reign of James II.
The old Saxon principle of local independence was such a predominating element within the narrow limits of these kindred Puritan colonies, that a “ perpetual” confederacy was dissolved in a little more than thirty years.
To the doors of Massachusetts was laid the chief blame of the breaking up of this first little American confederacy, which, according to its articles of con. federation, was designed to be perpetual.
At the formation of the confederacy, Rhode Island was kept out by the influence of Massachusetts, simply because the Rhode Island colonies were dissenters from the Puritan religion.
And it was almost entirely through the vigilant intolerance of Massachusetts, that sectarian animosity made burning lines of division between the colonists on this continent, and for a long time kept back the natural progress of the elements of affinity which were ultimately to form the Union.
And it is a remarkable fact, that we are indebted to the colony of Maryland for the first legislative act of religious toleration on this continent, which it passed
while the Massachusetts colonists were drowning the Baptists, as if to commit a pun upon their doctrine of immersion, and boring holes through Quaker's tongues with red-hot irons, and whipping dissenting women naked from Boston to Dedham.
But, while at this period it seemed impossible that there should ever be any general union between these colonies, possessed of so many divergent passions and interests—there was, still progressing at the same time, a strong tendency to military colonial combination, which, as we shall see, was planting the seeds of the future Union.
On repeated occasions, the authorities of the various colonies—that is, the governors and commissionerswere brought together for conference respecting hostilities, offensive and defensive.
It was at such a military conference, held at New York in 1790, that the word " Congress” was for the first time used in America. Hann
heaw 1690Not only were the members of the different colonies gradually brought together by these occasional conferences, but they at last came to know still more of each cther by joint military service.
“ This kind of association may be traced as an influ. ence of union, more or less operative on different occasions, from the times of what were called · King Wil. liam's war,' and · Queen Anne's war,' at the close of the seventeenth century, down to the peace of Paris, in 1763, at the close of the old French war."
As this old French war brought a proposition from England for a union of all the colonies, it is important that we pause here for a moment to consider tlie causes that led to that war. A year after the peace of Aix-la. Chapelle in 1749, a grant was made by the Government of Great Britain of six hundred thousand acres of land
to some merchants, whose association was called the “ Ohio Company."
The Governor of Canada, which was at that time a province of France, apprehensive that that establishment would have a tendency to interrupt the commerce of the Canadians with the Indians, and of interrupting direct communication between Canada and Louisiana, then also a French colony, wrote to the colonial governors of New York and Pennsylvania, that the English merchants had violated the French treaty in order to trade with the Indians, and that he would cause them to be seized wherever he could find them.
Soon after this, a detachment of French and Indians made prisoners of all the English traders on the Ohio, at the commencement of the year 1751.
The inhabitants of Virginia instantly dispatched Major George Washington to the French fort on the Ohio, commanded by Gen. de Saint Pierre, to demand an explanation of these hostilities.
Of course there was no explanation to be given, except that France was determined not to allow the English merchants to be domiciled on the banks of the Ohio.
England was equally decided, and what was called the “ Old French war
" followed. The colonies all contributed their respective sums of money to carry on the war. Their troops served together, in the several early attempts on Canada, in the expedition against Cape Breton, and in the captare of Louisburg
This associated service in the old French war was a first step towards preparing the colonies for the war of the Revolution, and for a final union with each other.
England recommended that the colonies should form a general league, for purposes of a more effectual