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STORIES OF LATER AMERICAN HISTORY
WILBUR F. GORDY
Formerly Superintendent of Schools, Springfield, Mass.; Author of "A History of the United States for Schools," "Elementary History of the United States," "American Leaders and Heroes," "American Beginnings in Europe," "Stories of American Explorers," "Colonial Days," and "Stories of Early American History"
With Maps and Illustrations
Charles Scribner's Sons New York Chicago Boston Copyright, 1915, by Charles Scribner's Sons
This book, like "Stories of Early American History," follows somewhat closely the course of study prepared by the Committee of Eight, the present volume covering the topics outlined for Grade V, while the earlier one includes the material suggested for Grade IV.
It was the plan of that committee to take up in these grades, largely in a biographical way, a great part of the essential facts of American history; and with this plan the author, who was a member of that committee, was in hearty accord. This method, it is believed, serves a double purpose. In the first place, it is the best possible way of laying the foundation for the later and more detailed study of United States history in the higher grammar grades by those pupils who are to continue in school; and in the second, it gives to that large number of pupils who will leave school before the end of the sixth grade—which is at least half of all the boys and girls in the schools of the country—some acquaintance with the leading men and prominent events of American history.
It is without doubt a great mistake to allow half of the pupils to go out from our public schools with almost no knowledge of the moral and material forces which have made this nation what it is to-day. It is an injustice to the young people themselves; it is also an injury to their country, the vigor of whose life will depend much upon their intelligent and patriotic support.
With this conviction, it has been the author's desire to make the story of the events concrete, dramatic, and lifelike by centring them about leaders, heroes, and other representative men, in such a way as to appeal to the imagination and to influence the ideals of the child. In so doing, he has made no attempt to write organized history—tracing out its intricate relations of cause and effect. At the same time, however, he has aimed to select his facts and events so carefully that the spirit of our national life and institutions, as well as many of the typical events of American history, may be presented.
It is confidently hoped that the fine illustrations and the attractive typographical features of the book will help to bring vividly before the mind of the child the events narrated in the text.
Another aid in making the stories vivid will, it is intended, be found in "Some Things to Think About." These and many similar questions, which the teacher can easily frame to fit the needs of her class, will help the pupil to make real the life of days gone by as well as to connect it with the present time and with his own life.
In conclusion, I wish to acknowledge my deep obligations to Mr. Forrest Morgan, of the Watkinson Library, Hartford, and to Miss Elizabeth P. Peck, of the Hartford Public High School, both of whom have read the manuscript and have made many valuable criticisms and suggestions.
WILBUR F. GORDY.
HARTFORD, CONN., April 15, 1915.
I. PATRICK HENRY II. SAMUEL ADAMS III. THE WAR BEGINS NEAR BOSTON IV. GEORGE WASHINGTON IN THE REVOLUTION V. NATHANAEL GREENE AND OTHER HEROES IN THE SOUTH VI. JOHN PAUL JONES VII. DANIEL BOONE VIII. JAMES ROBERTSON IX. JOHN SEVIER X. GEORGE ROGERS CLARK XI. THE NEW REPUBLIC XII. INCREASING THE SIZE OF THE NEW REPUBLIC XIII. INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS XIV. THE REPUBLIC GROWS LARGER XV. THREE GREAT STATESMEN XVI. THE CIVIL WAR XVII. FOUR GREAT INDUSTRIES INDEX
Pioneers on the Overland Route, Westward George III Patrick Henry Patrick Henry Delivering His Speech in the Virginia House of Burgesses William Pitt St. John's Church, Richmond Samuel Adams Patriots in New York Destroying Stamps Intended for Use in Connecticut Faneuil Hall, Boston Old South Church, Boston The "Boston Tea Party" Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia John Hancock John Hancock's Home, Boston A Minuteman Old North Church Paul Revere's Ride Monument on Lexington Common Marking the Line of the Minutemen Concord Bridge President Langdon, the President of Harvard College, Praying for the Bunker Hill Entrenching Party on Cambridge Common Just Before Their Departure Prescott at Bunker Hill Bunker Hill Monument George Washington Washington, Henry, and Pendleton on the Way to Congress at Philadelphia The Washington Elm at Cambridge, under which Washington took Command of the Army Sir William Howe Thomas Jefferson Looking Over the Rough Draught of the Declaration of Independence The Retreat from Long Island Nathan Hale British and Hessian Soldiers Powder-Horn, Bullet-Flask, and Buckshot-Pouch Used in the Revolution General Burgoyne Surrendering to General Gates Marquis de Lafayette Lafayette Offering His Services to Franklin Winter at Valley Forge Nathanael Greene The Meeting of Greene and Gates upon Greene's Assuming Command Daniel Morgan Francis Marion Marion Surprising a British Wagon-Train John Paul Jones Battle Between the Ranger and the Drake The Fight Between the Bon Homme Richard and the Serapis Daniel Boone Boone's Escape from the Indians Boonesborough Boone Throwing Tobacco into the Eyes of the Indians Who Had Come to Capture Him James Robertson Living-Room of the Early Settler Grinding Indian Corn A Kentucky Pioneer's Cabin John Sevier A Barbecue of 1780 Battle of King's Mountain George Rogers Clark Clark on the Way to Kaskaskia Clark's Surprise at Kaskaskia Wampum Peace Belt Clark's Advance on Vincennes George Washington Washington's Home, Mount Vernon Tribute Rendered to Washington at Trenton Washington Taking the Oath of Office as First President, at Federal Hall, New York City Washington's Inaugural Chair Eli Whitney Whitney's Cotton-Gin A Colonial Planter A Slave Settlement Thomas Jefferson "Monticello," the Home of Jefferson A Rice-Field in Louisiana A Flatboat on the Ohio River House in New Orleans Where Louis Philippe Stopped in 1798 A Public Building in New Orleans Built in 1794 Meriwether Lewis William Clark Buffalo Hunted by Indians The Lewis and Clark Expedition Working Its Way Westward Andrew Jackson "The Hermitage," the Home of Andrew Jackson Fighting the Seminole Indians, under Jackson Robert Fulton Fulton's First Experiment with Paddle-Wheels The "Clermont" in Duplicate at the Hudson-Fulton Celebration, 1909 The Opening of the Erie Canal in 1825 The Ceremony Called "The Marriage of the Waters" Erie Canal on the Right and Aqueduct over the Mohawk River, New York "Tom Thumb," Peter Cooper's Locomotive Working Model, First Used near Baltimore in 1830 Railroad Poster of 1843 Comparison of "DeWitt Clinton" Locomotive and Train, the First Train Operated in New York, with a Modern Locomotive of the New York Central R.R. S.F.B. Morse The First Telegraph Instrument Modern Telegraph Office The Operation of the Modern Railroad is Dependent upon the Telegraph Sam Houston Flag of the Republic of Texas David Crockett The Fight at the Alamo John C. Fremont Fremont's Expedition Crossing the Rocky Mountains Kit Carson Sutter's Mill Placer-Mining in the Days of the California Gold Rush John C. Calhoun Calhoun's Office and Library Henry Clay The Birthplace of Henry Clay, near Richmond The Schoolhouse in "the Slashes" Daniel Webster The Home of Daniel Webster, Marshfield, Mass. Henry Clay Addressing the United States Senate in 1850 Abraham Lincoln Lincoln's Birthplace Lincoln Studying by Firelight Lincoln Splitting Rails Lincoln as a Boatman Lincoln Visiting Wounded Soldiers Robert E. Lee Lee's Home at Arlington, Virginia Jefferson Davis Thomas J. Jackson A Confederate Flag J.E.B. Stuart Confederate Soldiers Union Soldiers Ulysses S. Grant Grant's Birthplace, Point Pleasant, Ohio General and Mrs. Grant with Their Son at City Point, Virginia William Tecumseh Sherman Sherman's March to the Sea Philip H. Sheridan Sheridan Rallying His Troops The McLean House Where Lee Surrendered General Lee on His Horse, Traveller Cotton-Field in Blossom A Wheat-Field Grain-Elevators at Buffalo Cattle on the Western Plains Iron Smelters Iron Ore Ready for Shipment
Boston and Vicinity The War in the Middle States The War in the South Early Settlements in Kentucky and Tennessee George Rogers Clark in the Northwest The United States in 1803, after the Louisiana Purchase (Colored) Jackson's Campaign Scene of Houston's Campaign Fremont's Western Explorations Map of the United States Showing First and Second Secession Areas (Colored) Route of Sherman's March to the Sea The Country Around Washington and Richmond
STORIES OF LATER AMERICAN HISTORY
The Last French War had cost England so much that at its close she was heavily in debt.
"As England must now send to America a standing army of at least ten thousand men to protect the colonies against the Indians and other enemies," the King, George III, reasoned, "it is only fair that the colonists should pay a part of the cost of supporting it."
The English Parliament, being largely made up of the King's friends, was quite ready to carry out his wishes, and passed a law taxing the colonists. This law was called the Stamp Act. It provided that stamps—very much like our postage-stamps, but costing all the way from one cent to fifty dollars each—should be put upon all the newspapers and almanacs used by the colonies, and upon all such legal papers as wills, deeds, and the notes which men give promising to pay back borrowed money.
When news of this act reached the colonists they were angry. "It is unjust," they said. "Parliament is trying to make slaves of us by forcing us to pay money without our consent. The charters which the English King granted to our forefathers when they came to America make us free men just as much as if we were living in England.
"In England it is the law that no free man shall pay taxes unless they are levied by his representatives in Parliament. We have no one to speak for us in Parliament, and so we will not pay any taxes which Parliament votes. The only taxes we will pay are those voted by our representatives in our own colonial assemblies."
They were all the more ready to take this stand because for many years they had bitterly disliked other English laws which were unfair to them. One of these forbade selling their products to any country but England. And, of course, if they could sell to no one else, they would have to sell for what the English merchants chose to pay.
Another law said that the colonists should buy the goods they needed from no other country than England, and that these goods should be brought over in English vessels. So in buying as well as in selling they were at the mercy of the English merchants and the English ship owners, who could set their own prices.
But even more unjust seemed the law forbidding the manufacture in America of anything which was manufactured in England. For instance, iron from American mines had to be sent to England to be made into useful articles, and then brought back over the sea in English vessels and sold to the colonists by English merchants at their own price.
Do you wonder that the colonists felt that England was taking an unfair advantage? You need not be told that these laws were strongly opposed. In fact, the colonists, thinking them unjust, did not hesitate to break them. Some, in spite of the laws, shipped their products to other countries and smuggled the goods they received in exchange; and some dared make articles of iron, wool, or other raw material, both for their own use and to sell to others.
"We will not be used as tools for England to make out of us all the profit she possibly can," they declared. "We are not slaves but free-born Englishmen, and we refuse to obey laws which shackle us and rob us of our rights."
So when to these harsh trade laws the Stamp Act was added, great indignation was aroused. Among those most earnest in opposing the act was Patrick Henry.
Let us take a look at the early life of this powerful man. He was born in 1736, in Hanover County, Virginia. His father was an able lawyer, and his mother belonged to a fine old Welsh family.
But Patrick, as a boy, took little interest in anything that seemed to his older friends worth while. He did not like to study nor to work on his father's farm. His delight was to wander through the woods, gun in hand, hunting for game, or to sit on the bank of some stream fishing by the hour. When not enjoying himself out-of-doors he might be heard playing his violin.
Of course the neighbors said, "A boy so idle and shiftless will never amount to anything," and his parents did not know what to do with him. They put him, when fifteen years old, as clerk into a little country store. Here he remained for a year, and then opened a store of his own. But he was still too lazy to attend to business, and soon failed.
When he was only eighteen years old, he married. The parents of the young couple, anxious that they should do well, gave them a small farm and a few slaves. But it was the same old story. The young farmer would not take the trouble to look after his affairs, and let things drift. So before long the farm had to be sold to pay debts. Once more Patrick turned to storekeeping, but after a few years he failed again.
He was now twenty-three years old, with no settled occupation, and with a wife and family to support. No doubt he seemed to his friends a ne'er-do-well.
About this time he decided to become a lawyer. He borrowed some law-books, and after studying for six months, he applied for permission to practise law. Although he passed but a poor examination, he at last was started on the right road.
He succeeded well in his law practice, and in a few years had so much business that people in his part of Virginia began to take notice of him. In 1765, soon after the Stamp Act was passed by the British Parliament, he was elected a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses, a body not unlike our State Legislature.
PATRICK HENRY'S FIERY SPEECH AGAINST THE STAMP ACT
History gives us a vivid picture of the young lawyer at this time as he rides on horseback along the country road toward Williamsburg, then the capital of Virginia. He is wearing a faded coat, leather knee-breeches, and yarn stockings, and carries his law papers in his saddle-bag. Although but twenty-nine, his tall, thin figure stoops as if bent with age. He does not look the important man he is soon to become.
When he reaches the little town of Williamsburg, he finds great excitement. Men gather in small groups on the street, talking in anxious tones. Serious questions are being discussed: "What shall we do about the Stamp Act?" they say. "Shall we submit and say nothing? Shall we send a petition to King George asking him for justice? Shall we beg Parliament to repeal the act, or shall we take a bold stand and declare that we will not obey it?"
Not only on the street, but also in the House of Burgesses was great excitement. Most of the members were wealthy planters who lived on great estates. So much weight and dignity had they that the affairs of the colony were largely under their control. Most of them were loyal to the "mother country," as they liked to call England, and they wished to obey the English laws as long as these were just.
So they counselled: "Let us move slowly. Let nothing be done in a passion. Let us petition the King to modify the laws which appear to us unjust, and then, if he will not listen, it will be time to refuse to obey. We must not be rash."
Patrick Henry, the new member, listened earnestly. But he could not see things as these older men of affairs saw them. To him delay seemed dangerous. He was eager for prompt, decisive action. Tearing a blank leaf from a law-book, he hastily wrote some resolutions, and, rising to his feet, he read them to the assembly.
We can easily picture the scene. This plainly dressed rustic with his bent shoulders is in striking contrast to the prosperous plantation owners, with their powdered hair, ruffled shirts, knee-breeches, and silver shoe-buckles. They give but a listless attention as Henry begins in quiet tones to read his resolutions. "Who cares what this country fellow thinks?" is their attitude. "Who is he anyway? We never heard his voice before."
It is but natural that these men, whose judgment has been looked up to for years, should regard as an upstart this young, unknown member, who presumes to think his opinion worth listening to in a time of great crisis like this.
But while they sit in scornful wrath, the young orator's eyes begin to glow, his stooping figure becomes erect, and his voice rings out with fiery eloquence. "The General Assembly of Virginia, and only the General Assembly of Virginia," he exclaims, "has the right and the power of laying taxes upon the people of this colony."
These are stirring words, and they fall amid a hushed silence. Then the debate grows hot, as members rise to speak in opposition to his burning eloquence.
But our hero is more than a match for all the distinguished men who disagree with him. Like a torrent, his arguments pour forth and sweep all before them. The bold resolutions he presents are passed by the assembly.
It was a great triumph for the young orator. On that day Patrick Henry made his name. "Stick to us, old fellow, or we're gone," said one of the plain people, giving him a slap on the shoulder as he passed out at the close of the stormy session. The unpromising youth had suddenly become a leader in the affairs of the colony.
Not only in Virginia, but also in other colonies, his fiery words acted like magic in stirring up the people against the Stamp Act. He had proved himself a bold leader, willing to risk any danger for the cause of justice and freedom.
You would expect that in the colonies there would be strong and deep feeling against the Stamp Act. But perhaps you will be surprised to learn that even in England many leading men opposed it. They thought that George III was making a great mistake in trying to tax the colonies without their consent. William Pitt, a leader in the House of Commons, made a great speech, in which he said: "I rejoice that America has resisted." He went on to say that if the Americans had meekly submitted, they would have acted like slaves.
Burke and Fox, other great statesmen, also befriended us. And the English merchants and ship owners, who were losing heavily because the Americans refused to buy any English goods as long as the Stamp Act was in force, joined in begging Parliament that the act be repealed. This was done the next year.
Other unjust measures followed, but before we take them up, let us catch another glimpse of Patrick Henry, ten years after his great speech at Williamsburg.
ANOTHER GREAT SPEECH BY PATRICK HENRY
The people of Virginia are again greatly aroused. King George has caused Parliament to send English soldiers to Boston to force the unruly people of Massachusetts to obey some of his commands, against which they had rebelled. Virginia has stood by her sister colony, and now the royal governor of Virginia, to punish her, has prevented the House of Burgesses from meeting at Williamsburg.
But the Virginians are not so easily kept from doing their duty. With a grim determination to defend their rights as free men, they elect some of their leaders to act for them at this trying time.
These meet in Richmond at old St. John's Church, which is still standing. Great is the excitement, and thoughtful people are very serious, for the shadows of the war-cloud grow blacker hour by hour.
The Virginians have already begun to make ready to fight if they must. But many still hope that all disagreements may yet be settled peaceably, and therefore advise acting with caution.
Patrick Henry is not one of these. He believes that the time has come when talking should give place to prompt, decisive action. The war is at hand. It cannot be avoided. The colonists must fight or slavishly submit.
So intense is his belief that he offers in this meeting a resolution that Virginia should at once prepare to defend herself. Many of the leading men stoutly oppose this resolution as rash and unwise.
At length Patrick Henry rises to his feet, his face pale, and his voice trembling with deep emotion. Again we see the bent shoulders straighten and the eyes flash. His voice rings out like a trumpet. As he goes on with increasing power, men lean forward in breathless interest. Listen to his ringing words:
"We must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us! They tell us, sir, that we are weak; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But when shall we be stronger? Will it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by irresolution and inaction? Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot? Sir, we are not weak if we make a proper use of the means which the God of nature hath placed in our hands.... There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable—and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come!
"... Gentlemen may cry peace, peace—but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!"
What wonder that the audience sways to his belief!
He was a true prophet, for in less than four weeks the first gun of the Revolution was fired in the quiet town of Lexington, Massachusetts. Undoubtedly Patrick Henry's fiery spirit had done much to kindle the flame which then burst forth.
Not long after this, he was made commander-in-chief of the Virginia forces (1775), and the next year was elected governor of Virginia.
When the war—in the declaring of which he had taken so active a part—was over, Patrick Henry retired at the age of fifty-eight (1794), to an estate in Charlotte County called "Red Hill," where he lived a simple and beautiful life. He died in 1799.
Without doubt he was one of the most eloquent orators our country has ever produced, and we should be grateful to him because he used his great gift in helping to secure the freedom we now enjoy.
SOME THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
1. What was the Stamp Act? Why did Parliament pass it, and why did the colonists object to it?
2. What did Patrick Henry mean by saying that the General Assembly of Virginia, and only the General Assembly of Virginia had the right and the power of laying taxes upon the people of that colony?
3. Have you in your mind a picture of young Patrick Henry as he rode on horseback along the country road toward Williamsburg? Describe this picture as clearly as you can.
4. What did William Pitt think of the Stamp Act? Why did Parliament repeal it?
5. Can you explain Patrick Henry's power as an orator? When did he make a great speech in St. John's Church, Richmond?
6. What do you admire in Patrick Henry?
7. Do not fail to locate every event upon your map.
While Patrick Henry was leading the people of Virginia in their defiance of the Stamp Act, exciting events were taking place in Massachusetts under another colonial leader. This was Samuel Adams. Even before Virginia took any action, he had introduced in the Massachusetts Assembly resolutions opposing the Stamp Act, and they were passed.
This man, who did more than any one else to arouse the love of liberty in his colony, was born in Boston in 1722. His boyhood was quite different from that of Patrick Henry. He liked to go to school and to learn from books, and he cared little for outdoor life or sport of any kind.
As he grew up, his father wished him to become a clergyman, but Samuel preferred to study law. His mother opposing this, however, he entered upon business life. This perhaps was a mistake, for he did not take to business, and, like Patrick Henry, he soon failed, even losing most of the property his father had left him.
SAMUEL ADAMS AN INSPIRING LEADER
But although not skilful in managing his own affairs, he was a most loyal and successful worker for the interests of the colony. In fact, before long, he gave up most of his private business and spent his time and strength for the public welfare.
His whole income was the very small salary which he received as clerk of the Assembly of Massachusetts. This was hardly sufficient to pay for the food needed in his household. But his wife was so thrifty and cheerful, and his friends so glad to help him out because of the time he gave to public affairs, that his home life, though plain, was comfortable, and his children were well brought up.
Poor as he was, no man could be more upright. The British, fearing his influence, tried at different times to bribe him with office under the King and to buy him with gold. But he scorned any such attempts to turn him aside from the path of duty.
The great purpose of his life seemed to be to encourage the colonists to stand up for their rights as freemen, and to defeat the plans of King George and Parliament in trying to force the colonists to pay taxes. In this he was busy night and day. In the assembly and in the town meeting all looked to him as an able leader; and in the workshops, on the streets, or in the shipyards men listened eagerly while he made clear the aims of the English King, and urged them to defend their rights as free-born Englishmen.
Even at the close of a busy day, this earnest, liberty-loving man gave himself little rest. Sometimes he was writing articles for the newspapers, and sometimes urgent letters to the various leaders in Massachusetts and in the other colonies. Long after midnight, those who passed his dimly lighted windows could see "Sam Adams hard at work writing against the Tories."
Had you seen him at this time, you would never have thought of him as a remarkable man. He was of medium size, with keen gray eyes, and hair already fast turning white. His head and hands trembled as if with age, though he was only forty-two years old and in good health.
He was a great power in the colony. Not only did he rouse the people against the Stamp Act, but he helped to organize, in opposition to it, societies of patriots called "Sons of Liberty," who refused to use the stamps and often destroyed them. In Massachusetts, as in Virginia and elsewhere, the people refused to buy any English goods until this hateful act was repealed.
At the close of a year, before it had really been put into operation, the act was repealed, as we have already seen. But this did not happen until many resolutions had been passed, many appeals made to the King, and after much excitement. Then great was the rejoicing! In every town in the country bonfires were lighted, and every colonial assembly sent thanks to the King.
But the obstinate, power-loving George III was not happy about this repeal. In fact, he had given in very much against his will. He wanted to rule England in his own way, and how could he do so if he allowed his stubborn colonists in America thus to get the better of him?
So he made up his mind to insist upon some sort of a tax. In 1767, therefore, only one year after the repeal of the Stamp Act, he asked Parliament to pass a law taxing glass, lead, paper, tea, and a few other articles imported into the colonies.
This new tax was laid, but again the colonists said: "We had no part in levying it, and if we pay it, we shall be giving up our rights as freemen. But how can we help ourselves?"
Samuel Adams and other leaders answered: "We can resist it just as we did the Stamp Act—by refusing to buy any goods whatever from England." To this the merchants agreed. While the unjust tax was in force, they promised to import no English goods, and the people promised not to ask for such goods.
Then many wealthy people agreed to wear homespun instead of English cloths, and to stop eating mutton in order to have more sheep to produce wool for this homespun, thus showing a willingness to give up for the cause some of the luxuries which they had learned to enjoy.
Of course, this stand taken by the colonists angered the King. He called them rebels and sent soldiers to Boston to help enforce the laws (1768).
From the first the people of Boston felt insulted at having these soldiers in their midst, and it was not long before trouble broke out. In a street fight at night the troops fired upon the crowd, killing and wounding a number of men.
This caused great excitement. The next day, under the leadership of Samuel Adams, the citizens of Boston demanded that all the soldiers should be removed. Fearing more serious trouble if the demand was disregarded, the officers withdrew the soldiers to an island in the harbor.
Still the feeling did not die down. The new taxes were a constant irritation. "Only slaves would submit to such an injustice," said Samuel Adams, and his listeners agreed. In Massachusetts and in other colonies the English goods were refused, and, as in the case of the Stamp Act, the English merchants felt the pinch of heavy losses, and begged that the new tax laws be repealed.
SAMUEL ADAMS AND THE "BOSTON TEA PARTY"
Feeling grew stronger and matters grew worse until at length, after something like three years, Parliament took off all the new taxes except the one on tea. "They must pay one tax to know we keep the right to tax," said the King. It was as if the King's followers had winked slyly at one another and said: "We shall see—we shall see! Those colonists must have their tea to drink, and a little matter of threepence a pound they will overlook."
It would have been much better for England if she had taken off all the taxes and made friends with the colonists. Many leaders in that country said so, but the stubborn King was bent upon having his own way. "I will be King," he said. "They shall do as I say."
Then he and his followers worked up what seemed to them a clever scheme for hoodwinking the colonists. "We will make the tea cheaper in America than in England," they said. "Such a bargain! How can the simple colonists resist it?" Great faith was put in this foolish plan.
But they were soon to find out that those simple colonists were only Englishmen across the sea, that they too had strong wills, and that they did not care half so much about buying cheap tea as they did about giving up a principle and paying a tax, however small, which they had no part in levying.
King George went straight ahead to carry out his plan. It was arranged that the East India Company should ship cargoes of tea to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston.
In due time the tea arrived. Then the King's eyes were opened. What did he find out about the spirit of these colonists? That they simply would not use this tea. The people in New York and Philadelphia refused to let it land, and in Charleston they stored it in damp cellars, where it spoiled.
But the most exciting time was in Boston, where the Tory governor, Hutchinson, was determined to carry out the King's wishes. Hence occurred the famous "Boston Tea Party,"—a strange tea-party, where no cups were used, no guests invited, and no tea drunk! Did you ever hear of such a party? Let us see what really happened.
It was on a quiet Sunday, the 28th of November, 1773, when the Dartmouth, the first of the three tea ships bound for Boston, sailed into the harbor. The people were attending service in the various churches when the cry, "The Dartmouth is in!" spread like wild-fire. Soon the streets were alive with people. That was a strange Sunday in Puritan Boston.
The leaders quickly sought out Benjamin Rotch, the owner of the Dartmouth, and obtained his promise that the tea should not be landed before Tuesday. Then they called a mass meeting for Monday morning, in Fanueil Hall, afterward known as the "Cradle of Liberty."
The crowd was so great that they adjourned to the Old South Church, and there they overflowed into the street. There were five thousand in all, some of them from near-by towns. Samuel Adams presided. In addressing the meeting, he asked: "Is it the firm resolution of this body not only that the tea shall be sent back, but that no duty shall be paid thereon?" "Yes!" came the prompt and united answer from these brave men.
So the patriots of Boston and the surrounding towns, with Samuel Adams at their head, were determined that the tea should not be landed. Governor Hutchinson was equally determined that it should be. A stubborn fight, therefore, was on hand.
The Boston patriots appointed men, armed with muskets and bayonets, to watch the tea ships, some by day, others by night. Six post-riders were appointed, who should keep their horses saddled and bridled, ready to speed into the country to give the alarm if a landing should be attempted. Sentinels were stationed in the church belfries to ring the bells, and beacon-fires were made ready for lighting on the surrounding hilltops.
Tuesday, December 16, dawned. It was a critical day. If the tea should remain in the harbor until the morrow—the twentieth day after arrival—the revenue officer would be empowered by law to land it forcibly.
Men, talking angrily and shaking their fists with excitement, were thronging into the streets of Boston from the surrounding towns. By ten o'clock over seven thousand had assembled in the Old South Church and in the streets outside. They were waiting for the coming of Benjamin Rotch, who had gone to see if the collector would give him a "clearance," or permission to sail out of the port of Boston with the tea.
Rotch came in and told the angry crowd that the collector refused to give the clearance. The people told him that he must get a pass from the governor. Then the meeting adjourned for the morning.
At three o'clock in the afternoon a great throng of eager men again crowded the Old South Church and the streets outside to wait for the return of Rotch. It was an anxious moment. "If the governor refuses to give the pass, shall the revenue officer be allowed to seize the tea and land it to-morrow morning?" Many anxious faces showed that men were asking themselves this momentous question.
But while, in deep suspense, the meeting waited for Rotch to come they discussed the situation, and suddenly John Rowe asked: "Who knows how tea will mingle with salt water?" At once a whirlwind of applause swept through the assembly and the masses outside. A plan was soon formed.
The afternoon light of the short winter day faded, and darkness deepened; the lights of candles sprang up here and there in the windows. It was past six o'clock when Benjamin Rotch entered the church and, with pale face, said: "The governor refuses to give a pass."
An angry murmur arose, but the crowd soon became silent as Samuel Adams stood up. He said quietly: "This meeting can do nothing more to save the country."
These words were plainly a signal. In an instant a war-whoop sounded outside, and forty or fifty "Mohawks," or men dressed as Indians, who had been waiting, dashed past the door and down Milk Street toward Griffin's Wharf, where the tea ships were lying at anchor.
It was then bright moonlight, and everything could be plainly seen. Many men stood on shore and watched the "Mohawks" as they broke open three hundred and forty-two chests, and poured the tea into the harbor. There was no confusion. All was done in perfect order. But what a strange "tea party" it was! Certainly no other ever used so much tea or so much water.
Soon waiting messengers were speeding to outlying towns with the news, and Paul Revere, "booted and spurred," mounted a swift horse and carried the glorious message through the colonies as far as Philadelphia.
SOME RESULTS OF THE "BOSTON TEA PARTY"
The Boston Tea Party was not a festivity which pleased the King. In fact, it made him very furious. He promptly decided to punish the rebellious colony. Parliament therefore passed the "Boston Port Bill," by which the port of Boston was to be closed to trade until the people paid for the tea. But this they had no mind to do. They stubbornly refused.
Not Boston alone came under the displeasure of King George and Parliament. They put Massachusetts under military rule, with General Gage as governor, and sent more soldiers. The new governor gave orders that the colonial assembly should hold no more meetings. He said that the people should no longer make their own laws, nor levy their own taxes. This punishment was indeed severe.
With no vessels allowed to enter or leave the harbor and trade entirely cut off, the people of Boston soon began to suffer. But the brave men and women would not give in. They said: "We will not pay for the tea, nor will we tell the King we are sorry for what we have done."
When the people of the other colonies heard of the suffering in Boston, they sent wheat, cows, sheep, fish, sugar, and other kinds of food to help out. The King thought that by punishing Boston he would frighten the other colonies. But he was mistaken, for they said: "We will help the people of our sister colony. Her cause is our cause. We must all pull together in our resistance to King George and the English Parliament." So his action really united the colonies.
In order to work together to better advantage, the colonies agreed that each should send to a great meeting some of their strongest men to talk over their troubles and work out some plan of united action. This meeting, which was called the First Continental Congress, was held at Carpenters' Hall, Philadelphia (1774).
Samuel Adams and his cousin, John Adams, were two of the four men that Massachusetts sent. They began their journey from Boston in a coach drawn by four horses. In front rode two white servants, well mounted and bearing arms; while behind were four black servants in livery, two on horseback and two as footmen. Such was the manner of colonial gentlemen.
As they journeyed through the country the people honored them in many ways. From some of the larger towns officials and citizens rode out on horseback and in carriages to meet them and act as escort; and on reaching a town they were feasted at banquets and greeted by gleaming bonfires, the ringing of bells, and the firing of cannon. These celebrations showed honor not to the men alone but to the cause.
The First Continental Congress, to which these messengers were travelling, urged the people to stand together in resisting the attempt of King George and Parliament to force them to pay taxes which they had had no share in laying. They added: "We have the right not only to tax ourselves, but also to govern ourselves."
With all these movements Samuel Adams was in sympathy. He went even further, for at this time he was almost or quite alone in his desire for independence, and he has well been called the "Father of the Revolution." Perhaps we think of him especially in connection with the Boston Tea Party, but his influence for the good of his country lasted far beyond that time.
Till the close of his life he was an earnest and sincere patriot. He died in 1803, at the age of eighty-one years. Not an orator like Patrick Henry, but a man of action like Washington, he had great power in dealing with men. Truly his life was one of great and heroic service to his country.
SOME THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
1. In what respects were Samuel Adams and Patrick Henry unlike as boys?
2. Tell why Samuel Adams had great power over men.
3. What kind of man was George III? Why did he so strongly desire that the colonists should be compelled to pay a tax to England?
4. What was the tax law of 1767, and why did the colonists object to paying the new taxes?
5. What led up to the "Boston Tea Party"? Imagine yourself one of the party, and tell what you did.
6. In what way did George III and Parliament punish Boston for throwing the tea overboard? How did the colonies help the people of Boston at this time?
7. What was the First Continental Congress, and what did it do?
8. What do you admire in Samuel Adams?
THE WAR BEGINS NEAR BOSTON
When Parliament passed the Boston Port Bill, the King believed that such severe punishment would not only put a stop to further rebellious acts, but would cause the colonists to feel sorry for what they had done and incline them once more to obey him. Imagine his surprise and indignation at what followed!
As soon as General Gage ordered that the Massachusetts Assembly should hold no more meetings, the colonists made up their minds they would not be put down in this manner. They said: "The King has broken up the assembly. Very well. We will form a new governing body and give it a new name, the Provincial Congress."
And what do you suppose the chief business of this Congress was? To make ready for war! An army was called for, and provision made that a certain number of the men enlisted should be prepared to leave their homes at a minute's notice. These men were called "minute-men."
Even while the patriots, for so the rebellious subjects of King George called themselves, were making these preparations, General Gage, who was in command of the British troops in Boston, had received orders from England to seize as traitors Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who were the most active leaders.
Of Samuel Adams you already know. John Hancock was president of the newly made Provincial Congress.
General Gage knew that Adams and Hancock were staying for a while with a friend in Lexington. He had learned also through spies that minutemen had collected some cannon and military stores in Concord, twenty miles from Boston, and only eight miles beyond Lexington.
The British general planned, therefore, to send a body of troops to arrest the two leaders at Lexington, and then to push on and capture or destroy the stores at Concord.
Although he acted with the greatest secrecy, he was unable to keep his plans from the watchful minutemen. We shall see how one of these, Paul Revere, outwitted him. Perhaps you have read Longfellow's poem which tells the story of the famous "midnight ride" taken by this fearless young man.
Paul Revere had taken an active part in the "Boston Tea Party," and the following year, with about thirty other young patriots, he had formed a society to spy out the British plans. I fancy that the daring and courage called for in this business appealed to the high spirits and love of adventure of these young men. Always on the watch, they were quick to notice any strange movement and report to such leaders as Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Doctor Joseph Warren.
On the evening of April 18, 1775, Paul Revere and his friends brought word to Doctor Warren that they believed General Gage was about to carry out his plan, already reported to the patriots, of capturing Adams and Hancock, and of taking or destroying the military stores at Concord.
Doctor Warren quickly decided that Paul Revere and William Dawes should go on horseback to Lexington and Concord and give the alarm. He sent them by different routes, hoping that one at least might escape the British patrols with whom Gage had carefully guarded all the roads leading from Boston.
Soon Dawes was galloping across Boston Neck, and Paul Revere was getting ready for a long night ride.
After arranging with a friend for a lantern signal to be hung in the belfry of the Old North Church to show by which route the British forces were advancing, "one if by land and two if by sea," he stepped into a light skiff with two friends who rowed him from Boston across the Charles River to Charlestown.
Upon reaching the other side of the river, he obtained a fleet horse and stood ready, bridle in hand, straining his eyes in the darkness to catch sight of the signal-lights. The horse waits obedient to his master's touch, and the master stands eagerly watching the spot where the signal is to appear.
At eleven o'clock a light flashes forth. Exciting moment! Then another light! "Two if by sea!" The British troops are crossing the Charles River to march through Cambridge!
No time to lose! Springing into his saddle and spurring his horse, he speeds like the wind toward Lexington.
Suddenly two British officers are about to capture him. He turns quickly and, dashing into a side-path, with spurs in horse he is soon far from his pursuers.
Then, in his swift flight along the road he pauses at every house to shout: "Up and arm! Up and arm! The regulars are out! The regulars are out!"
Families are roused. Lights gleam from the windows. Doors open and close. Minutemen are mustering.
When Lexington is reached, it is just midnight. Eight minutemen are guarding the house where Adams and Hancock are sleeping. "Make less noise! Don't disturb the people inside," they warn the lusty rider. "Noise!" cries Paul Revere. "You'll have noise enough before long. The regulars are out!"
Soon William Dawes arrived and joined Revere. Hastily refreshing themselves with a light meal, they rode off together toward Concord, in company with Samuel Prescott, a prominent Son of Liberty whose home was in that town. About half-way there, they were surprised by mounted British officers, who called: "Halt."
Prescott managed to escape by making his horse leap a stone wall, and rode in hot haste to Concord, which he reached in safety; but Paul Revere and William Dawes both fell into the hands of the British.
THE BATTLE OF LEXINGTON AND CONCORD
Meantime, the British troops numbering eight hundred men, under Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, were on their way to Lexington. But before they had gone far they were made aware, by the ringing of church-bells, the firing of signal-guns, the beating of drums, and the gleaming of beacon-fires from the surrounding hilltops, that their secret was out, and that the minutemen knew what was going on.
Surprised and disturbed by these signs that the colonists were on the alert, Colonel Smith sent Major Pitcairn ahead with a picked body of troops, in the hope that they might reach Lexington before the town could be completely aroused. He also sent back to Boston for more men.
The British commander would have been still more disturbed if he had known all that was happening, for the alarm-signals were calling to arms thousands of patriots ready to die for their rights. Hastily wakened from sleep, men snatched their old muskets from over the door, and bidding a hurried good-by to wife and children, started for the meeting-places long before agreed upon.
Just as the sun was rising, Major Pitcairn marched into Lexington, where he found forty or fifty minutemen ready to dispute his advance.
"Disperse, ye rebels; disperse!" he cried, riding up. But they did not disperse. Pitcairn ordered his men to fire, and eighteen minutemen fell to the ground.
Before the arrival of Pitcairn the British officers who had captured Revere and Dawes returned with them to Lexington, where, commanding Revere to dismount, they let him go. Running off at full speed to the house where Samuel Adams and John Hancock were staying, he told them what had happened, and then guided them across the fields to a place of safety.
Leaving the shocked and dazed villagers to collect their dead and wounded, Colonel Smith hastened to Concord. He arrived about seven in the morning, six hours after Doctor Prescott had given the alarm.
There had been time to hide the military stores, so the British could not get at those. But they cut down the liberty-pole, set fire to the court-house, spiked a few cannon, and emptied some barrels of flour.
About two hundred of them stood guard at the North Bridge, while a body of minutemen gathered on a hill on the opposite side. When the minutemen had increased to four hundred, they advanced to the bridge and brought on a fight which resulted in loss of life on both sides. Then, pushing on across the bridge, they forced the British to withdraw into the town.
The affair had become more serious than the British had expected. Even in the town they could not rest, for an ever-increasing body of minutemen kept swarming into Concord from every direction.
By noon Colonel Smith could see that it would be unwise to delay the return to Boston. So, although his men had marched twenty miles, and had had little or no food for fourteen hours, he gave the order for the return march.
But when they started back, the minutemen kept after them and began a deadly attack. It was an unequal fight. The minutemen, trained to woodland warfare, slipped from tree to tree, shot down the worn and helpless British soldiers, and then retreated only to return and repeat the harassing attack.
The wooded country through which they were passing favored this kind of fighting. But even in the open country every stone wall and hill, every house and barn seemed to the exhausted British troops to bristle with the guns of minutemen. The retreating army dragged wearily forward, fighting as bravely as possible, but on the verge of confusion and panic.
They reached Lexington Common at two o'clock, quite overcome with fatigue. There they were met by one thousand two hundred fresh troops, under Lord Percy, whose timely arrival saved the entire force from capture. Lord Percy's men formed a square for the protection of the retreating soldiers, and into it they staggered, falling upon the ground, "with their tongues hanging out of their mouths like those of dogs after a chase."
After resting for an hour, the British again took up their march to Boston. The minutemen, increasing in numbers every moment, kept up the same kind of running attack that they had made between Concord and Lexington until, late in the day, the redcoats came under the protection of the guns of the war vessels in Boston Harbor.
The British had failed. There was no denying that. They had been driven back, almost in a panic, to Boston, with a loss of nearly three hundred men. The Americans had not lost one hundred.
But the King was not aroused to the situation. He had a vision of his superb regiments in their brilliant uniforms overriding all before them.
And how did the Provincials, as the British called the Americans, regard the situation? They saw clearly and without glamour the deadly nature of the struggle upon which they had entered and the strength of the opposing army against which they must measure their own strength.
The people of Massachusetts for miles around Boston were now in a state of great excitement. Farmers, mechanics, men in all walks of life flocked to the army, and within a few days the Americans, sixteen thousand strong, were surrounding the British in Boston.
While the people of Massachusetts were in the midst of these stirring scenes, an event of deep meaning to all the colonies was taking place in Philadelphia. Here the Continental Congress, coming together for the second time, was making plans for carrying on the war by voting money for war purposes and by making George Washington commander-in-chief of the Continental army, of which the troops around Boston were the beginning. Thus did the colonies recognize that war had come and that they must stand together in the fight.
Meantime more British troops, under the command of General Howe, arrived in Boston, making an army of ten thousand men. Believing they could be forced to leave the town by cannon planted on Bunker Hill, the Americans decided to occupy it.
On the night of June 16, therefore, shortly before midnight, twelve hundred Americans marched quietly from Cambridge and, advancing to Breed's Hill, which was nearer Boston than Bunker Hill, began to throw up breastworks.
They worked hard all night, and by early morning had made good headway. The British, on awaking, were greatly surprised to see what had been done. They turned the fire of their war vessels upon the Americans, who, however, kept right on with their work.
General Howe, now in command of the British army, thought it would be easy enough to drive off the "rebels." So about three o'clock in the afternoon he made an assault upon their works.
The British soldiers, burdened with heavy knapsacks, and suffering from the heat of a summer sun, had to march through tall grass reaching above their knees and to climb many fences.
Behind their breastworks the Americans watched the scarlet ranks coming nearer and nearer. Powder was low, and must not be wasted. Colonel William Prescott, who was in command, told his men not to fire too soon. "Wait till you see the whites of their eyes," he said.
Twice the British soldiers, in their scarlet uniforms, climb the slope of the hill and charge the breastworks. Twice the Americans drive them back, ploughing great gaps in their ranks.
A third time they advance. But now the Americans do not answer the charge. There is good reason—the powder has given out! A great rush—and the redcoats have climbed over. But it is no easy victory even now, and there is no lack of bravery on the part of the Americans. With clubbed muskets they meet the invaders.
The British won the victory, but with great loss. "Many such," said one critic, "would have cost them their army."
On the other hand, the Americans had fought like heroes, and news of the battle brought joy to every loyal heart. Washington heard of it when on his way to take command of the army.
"Did the Americans stand fire?" was his first question.
"Yes," was the answer.
"Then," said he, "the liberties of the country are safe."
SOME THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
1. Impersonating Paul Revere, tell the story of his famous ride. What do you think of him?
2. Why did the British troops march out to Lexington and Concord?
3. Imagine yourself at Concord on the morning of the battle, and tell what happened.
4. Why did the Americans fortify Breed's Hill? What were the results of the Battle of Bunker Hill?
5. What did Washington say when he heard that the Americans had stood their ground in face of the British assault?
GEORGE WASHINGTON IN THE REVOLUTION
In electing George Washington commander-in-chief of the Continental army, the Continental Congress probably made the very wisest choice possible. Of course, this was not so clear then. For even leaders like Samuel Adams and John Adams and Patrick Henry did not know Washington's ability as we have come to know it now. But they had learned enough about his wonderful power over men and his great skill as a leader in time of war to believe that he was the man to whom they might trust the great work of directing the army in this momentous crisis.
We have already learned, in a previous book, something of Washington's boyhood, so simple and free and full of activity. We recall him, as he grew up, first as a youthful surveyor, then as the trusted messenger of his colony, Virginia, to the commander of the French forts west of the Alleghanies, and afterward as an aide of General Braddock when the war with the French broke out.
In the discharge of all these duties and in all his relations with men, whether above him in office or under his command, he had shown himself trustworthy and efficient, a man of clear mind and decisive action—one who commanded men's respect, obedience, and even love.
After the last battle of the Last French War Washington had returned to his home at Mount Vernon, on the banks of the Potomac, and very soon (1759) married Mrs. Martha Custis, a young widow whom he had met at a friend's house while he was on the way to Williamsburg the year before. With the addition of his wife's property to his own, he became a man of much wealth and at one time was one of the largest landholders in America.
But with all his wealth and experience Washington had the modesty which always goes with true greatness. In the Virginia House of Burgesses, to which he was elected after the Last French War, he was given a vote of thanks for his brave services in that war. Rising to reply, Washington, still a young man, stood blushing and stammering, unable to say a word. The speaker, liking him none the less for this embarrassment, said, with much grace: "Sit down, Mr. Washington. Your modesty equals your valor, and that surpasses the power of any language I possess."
Some years rolled by and the home-loving young planter lived the busy but quiet life of a high-bred Virginia gentleman. Meanwhile the exciting events of which we have been speaking were crowding upon one another and leading up to the Revolution; and in this interval of quiet country life Washington was unconsciously preparing for the greater task for which he was soon to be chosen.
In the events of these days Washington took his own part. He was one of the representatives of Virginia at the first meeting of the Continental Congress, in 1774, going to Philadelphia in company with Patrick Henry and others. He was also a delegate to the second meeting of the Continental Congress, in May, 1775.
He filled well each place of trust; and what more natural than that the Congress should choose as commander-in-chief of the American army this gentleman, young, able, and already tried and proven? He was chosen unanimously.
On being elected, Washington rose and thanked Congress for the honor, adding modestly: "I do not think myself equal to the command I am honored with." No doubt in the dark days of war to follow he often felt in this way, but as the task had fallen to him, he determined to do his best and trust in a higher power for the outcome.
He refused to accept any salary for his services, but said he would keep an account of his expenses. The idea of gain for himself in the time of his country's need was far removed from this great man's heart!
On the 21st of June, Washington set out on horseback from Philadelphia, in company with a small body of horsemen, to take command of the American army around Boston. This journey, which can now be made by train in a few hours, took several days.
Soon after starting, Washington was much encouraged, as we have seen in a preceding chapter, by the news of the brave stand the provincials had made at the battle of Bunker Hill.
After three days, he reached New York, about four o'clock on Sunday afternoon, and was given a royal welcome. Nine companies of soldiers on foot escorted him as he passed through the streets in an open carriage drawn by two white horses. All along the route the streets were lined with people who greeted him with cheers.
Continuing his journey, on July 2 he reached the camp in Cambridge, and there officers and soldiers received him with enthusiasm.
WASHINGTON IN COMMAND OF THE ARMY
Next day under the famous elm still standing near Harvard University, Washington drew his sword and took command of the American army.
He was then forty-three years old, tall and manly in form, noble and dignified in bearing. His soldiers looked upon him with pride as he sat upon his horse, a superb picture of strength and dignity. He wore a three-cornered hat with the cockade of liberty upon it, and across his breast a broad band of blue silk. The impression he made was most pleasing, his courteous and kindly manner winning friends immediately.
Washington at once began the labor of getting his troops ready to fight, as his army was one only in name. For although the men were brave and willing, they had never been trained for war, and were not even supplied with muskets or powder.
Fortunately, the British did not know how badly off the American army was, and were taking their ease inside their own defenses. The autumn and the winter slipped by before Washington could make the attempt to drive the British out of Boston.
At last, by the first of March, some cannon and other supplies arrived in camp. Many of them had been dragged over the snow from Ticonderoga on sledges drawn by oxen. This gave Washington his opportunity to strike.
One night, while the cannon of the American army, which was just outside of Boston, were firing upon the British for the purpose of concealing Washington's plan, he sent troops to seize and fortify Dorchester Heights, overlooking Boston on the south.
Next morning when the astonished British commander, Howe, realized what the Americans had done, he saw clearly that he must drive them from the Heights or else leave Boston himself. But before he could send a force across the bay, a violent storm came up and delayed the attack.
In the meantime the Americans had made their earthworks so strong that Howe decided not to molest them. He remembered too well the Bunker Hill affair. So with all his army he sailed away to Halifax, leaving behind much powder and many cannon, which you may be sure the Americans lost no time in seizing.
Washington believed that after leaving Boston the British would try to take New York in order to get control of the Hudson River and the middle colonies. To outwit them his men must get to New York first. This they did.
He had not gone far in putting up defenses there when an event of profound importance took place in Philadelphia. This was the signing of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress. Up to the summer of 1776, it was for their rights as free-born Englishmen that the colonists had been fighting. But now that King George was sending thousands of soldiers to force them to give up these rights, which were as dear to them as their own lives, they said: "We will cut ourselves off from England. We will make our own laws; we will levy our own taxes; we will manage our affairs in our own way. We will declare our independence."
So they appointed a committee, two of whom were Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin, to draw up the Declaration of Independence. This was signed July 4, 1776.
It was a great day in American history, and worthy of celebration. After that, the thirteen colonies became States, and each organized its own government.
This act, no doubt, gave Washington good heart for the difficult work he had in hand, but the task itself was no easier. While he was waiting at New York for the enemy's attack, he had only an ill-assorted army of about eighteen thousand men to meet them. General Howe, who soon arrived, had thirty thousand men and a large fleet as well. Yet Washington pluckily made plans to defend the city.
When Brooklyn Heights, on Long Island, had been fortified, he sent General Putnam with half the army across East River to occupy them.
On August 27 General Howe, with something like twenty thousand men, attacked a part of these forces and defeated them. If he had attacked the remainder at once, he might have captured the full half of the army under Putnam's command—and even Washington himself, who, during the heat of the battle, had crossed over from New York. But, as we have seen, the British were apt to "put off till to-morrow." And very fortunate it was for the Americans.
Possibly General Howe could have ended the war at this time if he had continued his attack. But of course he did not know that the Americans were going to escape, any more than he had known that they were going to capture Boston. His men had fought hard at the end of a long night march and needed rest. Besides, he felt so sure of making an easy capture of the remainder of the army that there was no need of haste. For how could the Americans get away? Did not the British fleet have them so close under its nose that it could easily get between them and New York and make escape impossible?
This all seemed so clear to the easy-going General Howe that with good conscience he gave his tired men a rest after the battle on the 27th. On the 28th a heavy rain fell, and on the 29th a dense fog covered the island.
But before midday of the 29th, some American officers riding down toward the shore noticed an unusual stir in the British fleet. Boats were going to and fro as if carrying orders.
"It looks as if the English vessels may soon sail up between New York and Long Island and cut off our retreat," said these officers to Washington. The situation was perilous. At once Washington gave orders to secure all the boats possible, in order to attempt escape during the night.
It was a desperate undertaking. There were ten thousand men to be taken across, and the width of the river at the point of crossing was nearly a mile. It would hardly seem possible that such a movement could be made in a single night without being discovered by the British troops, who were lying in camp within gunshot of the retreating Americans.
But that which seemed impossible was done, for the army was transferred in safety.
The night must have been a long and anxious one for Washington, who stayed at his post of duty on the Long Island shore until the last boat-load had pushed off. The retreat was as brilliant as it was daring, and it saved the American cause.
But even after he had saved his army from capture and once more outwitted the British, the situation was still one of great danger. No sooner had the Americans made their perilous escape from Long Island than the British seized Brooklyn Heights. So just across the river from New York were the British troops, and just below them in the harbor lay the British fleet.
THE HEROIC NATHAN HALE
With forces so unequal, a single unwise movement might bring disaster. If only Washington could learn the plans of the British! The only way to do this was to send a spy over into their camp. He called for a volunteer to go inside the enemy's line and get information. Now, you know that spying is dangerous business, for if captured the man will be hanged; and none but a brave man will undertake it.
Probably many of you boys and girls know the name of the hero whom Washington selected for this delicate and dangerous task. It was Nathan Hale.
Perhaps you ask why he was chosen, and why he was willing to go.
We can answer those questions best by finding out something about his life.
Nathan Hale was born in Coventry, a little town in Connecticut, in 1755. His parents, who were very religious people, had taught him to be always honest, brave, and loyal.
Nathan was bright in school and fond of books. He was also fond of play. Although he was not very strong as a small boy, he grew sturdy and healthy by joining in the sports of the other boys. They liked him, because, like George Washington, he always played fair.
Later he went to Yale College, where he studied hard but yet had time for fun. He became a fine athlete, tall, and well-built. He sang well, and his gentlemanly manner and thoughtfulness of others made him beloved by all who knew him.
After he left college, he taught school with much success, being respected and loved by his pupils. He was teaching in New London, Connecticut, when the Revolutionary War broke out.
He felt sorry to leave his school, but believing his country needed the service of every patriotic man, he joined the army and was made a captain.
When he learned that his commander needed a spy, he said: "I am ready to go. Send me."
He was only twenty-one, hardly more than a boy, yet he knew the danger. And although life was very dear to him he loved his country more than his own life.
His noble bearing and grace of manner might easily permit him to pass as a Loyalist, that is, an American who sympathized with England—there were many such in the British camp—and Washington accepted him for the mission.
He dressed himself like a schoolmaster, so that the British would not suspect that he was an American soldier.
Then, entering the enemy's lines, he visited all the camps, took notes, and made sketches of the fortifications, hiding the papers in the soles of his shoes. He was just about returning when he was captured. The papers being found upon him, he was condemned to be hanged as a spy before sunrise the next morning.
The marshal who guarded him that night was a cruel man. He would not allow his prisoner to have a Bible, and even tore in pieces before his eyes the farewell letters which the young spy had written to his mother and friends.
But Nathan Hale was not afraid to die, and held himself calm and steady to the end. Looking down upon the few soldiers who were standing near by as he went to his death, he said: "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." All honor to this brave and true young patriot!
A TIME OF TRIAL FOR WASHINGTON
But the death of Nathan Hale was only one of the hard things Washington had to bear in this trying year of 1776. We have seen that when the Americans left the Long Island shore, the British promptly occupied it. On Brooklyn Heights they planted their cannon, commanding New York. So Washington had to withdraw, and he retreated northward to White Plains, stubbornly contesting every inch of ground.
In the fighting of the next two months the Americans lost heavily. Two forts on the Hudson River with three thousand men were captured by the British. The outlook was gloomy enough, and it was well for the Americans that they could not foresee the even more trying events that were to follow.
In order to save himself and his men from the enemy, Washington had to retreat once more, this time across New Jersey toward Philadelphia. With the British army, in every way stronger than his own, close upon him, it was a race for life. Sometimes there was only a burning bridge, which the rear-guard of the Americans had set on fire, between the fleeing forces and the pursuing army.
To make things worse, Washington saw his own army becoming smaller every day, because the men whose term of enlistment had expired were leaving to go to their homes. When he reached the Delaware River he had barely three thousand men left.
Here again Washington showed a master-stroke of genius. Having collected boats for seventy miles along the river, he succeeded in getting his army safely across at a place a little above Trenton. As the British had no boats, they had to come to a halt. In their usual easy way, they decided to wait until the river should freeze, when—as they thought—they would cross in triumph and make a speedy capture of Philadelphia.
To most people in England and in America alike, the early downfall of the American cause seemed certain. General Cornwallis was so sure that the war would soon come to an end that he had already packed some of his luggage and sent it to the ship in which he expected to return to England.
But Washington had no thought of giving up the struggle. Others might say: "It's of no use to fight against such heavy odds." General Washington was not that kind of man. He faced the dark outlook with all his courage and energy. Full of faith in the cause for which he was willing to die, he watched eagerly for the opportunity to turn suddenly upon his overconfident enemy and strike a heavy blow.
THE VICTORY AT TRENTON
Such an opportunity came soon. A body of British troops, made up of Hessians (or Germans mainly from Hesse-Cassel, hired as soldiers by King George), was stationed at Trenton, and Washington planned to surprise them on Christmas night, when, as he knew, it was their custom to hold a feast and revel.
With two thousand four hundred picked men he prepared to cross the Delaware River at a point nine miles above Trenton. The ground was white with snow, and the weather was bitterly cold. As the soldiers marched to the place of crossing, some of them whose feet were almost bare left bloody footprints along the route.
At sunset the troops began to cross. It was a terrible night. Angry gusts of wind, and great blocks of ice swept along by the swift current, threatened every moment to dash in pieces the frail boats.
From the Trenton side of the river, General Knox, who had been sent ahead by Washington, loudly shouted to let the struggling boatmen know where to land. For ten hours boat-load after boat-load of men made the dangerous crossing. A long, long night this must have been to Washington, as he stood in the midst of the wild storm, anxious, yet hopeful that the next day would bring him victory.
It was not until four in the morning that the already weary men were in line to march. Trenton was nine miles away, and a fearful storm of snow and sleet beat fiercely upon them as they advanced. Yet they pushed forward. Surely such courage and hardihood deserved its reward!
The Hessians, sleeping heavily after their night's feasting, were quite unaware of the approaching army. About sunrise they were surprised and most of them easily captured after a brief struggle.
Like a gleam of light in the darkness, news of this victory shot through the colonies. It brought hope to every patriot heart. The British were amazed at the daring feat, and Cornwallis decided not to leave America for a time. Instead, he advanced with a large force upon Trenton, hoping to capture Washington's army there.
At nightfall, January 2, 1777, he took his stand on the farther side of a small creek, near Trenton, and thought he had Washington in a trap. "At last," said Cornwallis, "we have run down the old fox, and we will bag him in the morning." In the morning again!
But Washington was too sly a fox for Cornwallis to bag. During the night he led his army around Cornwallis's camp and, pushing on to Princeton, defeated the rear-guard, which had not yet joined the main body. He then retired in safety to his winter quarters among the hills about Morristown.
During this fateful campaign Washington had handled his army in a masterly way. He had begun with bitter defeat; he had ended with glorious victory. The Americans now felt that their cause was by no means hopeless. It was well that they had this encouragement, for the year that began with the battle of Princeton (1777) was to test their courage and loyalty to the uttermost.
It had become plain to the British that if they could get control of the Hudson River, thus cutting off New England from the other States, they could so weaken the Americans as to make their defeat easy. So they adopted this plan: Burgoyne with nearly eight thousand men was to march from Canada, by way of Lake Champlain and Fort Edward, to Albany, where he was to meet a small force of British, who also were to come from Canada by way of the Mohawk Valley. The main army of eighteen thousand men, under General Howe, was expected to sail up the Hudson from New York. They believed that this plan could be easily carried out and would soon bring the war to a close.
And their plan might have succeeded if General Howe had done his part. Let us see what happened.
Howe thought that before going up the river to meet and help Burgoyne, he would just march across New Jersey and capture Philadelphia. This, however, was not so easy as he had expected it to be. Washington's army was in his pathway, and, not caring to fight his way across, he returned to New York and tried another route, sailing with his army to Chesapeake Bay. The voyage took two months, much longer than he expected.
When at length he landed and advanced toward Philadelphia, he was again thwarted. Washington's army grimly fronted him at Brandywine Creek, and a battle had to be fought. The Americans were defeated, it is true, but Washington handled his army with such skill that it took Howe two weeks to reach Philadelphia, which was only twenty-six miles away from the field of battle.
Howe was thus kept busy by Washington until it was too late for him to send help to Burgoyne.
Moreover, Burgoyne was disappointed also in the help which he had expected from the Mohawk Valley, for the army which was to come from that direction had been forced to retreat to Canada almost before reaching the valley at all.
Burgoyne was now in a hard place. The Americans were in front of him, blocking his way, and also behind him, preventing him from retreating or from getting powder and other greatly needed supplies from Canada. He could move in neither direction.
Thus left in the lurch by those from whom he expected aid and penned in by the Americans, there was nothing for him to do but fight or give up.
Like a good soldier, he fought, and the result was two battles near Saratoga and the defeat of the British. In the end Burgoyne had to surrender his entire army of six thousand regular troops (October 17, 1777).
Such was the way in which the British plan worked out. Of course the result was a great blow to England.
On the other hand, the victory was a great cause of joy to the Americans. It made hope stronger at home; it won confidence abroad. France had been watching closely to see whether the Americans were likely to win in their struggle, before aiding them openly. Now she was ready to do so, and was quite willing to make a treaty with them, even though such a course should lead to war with England.
To bring about this treaty with France, Benjamin Franklin did more than any other man. After signing the Declaration of Independence—and you will remember that he was a member of the committee appointed to draft that great state paper—he went to France to secure aid for the American cause. He must have been a quaint figure at the French court, his plain hair and plain cloth coat contrasting strangely with the fashion and elegance about him. Yet this simple-hearted man was welcomed by the French people, who gave feasts and parades in his honor and displayed his picture in public places. By his personal influence he did very much to secure the aid which France gave us.
LAFAYETTE JOINS THE AMERICAN ARMY
Even before an open treaty was signed France had secretly helped the cause of the Americans. She had sent them money and army supplies and, besides this, able Frenchmen had come across the Atlantic to join the American army. The most noted of these was the Marquis de Lafayette.
The circumstances under which he came were quite romantic. Lafayette was but nineteen when he heard for the first time at a dinner-party the story of the American people fighting for their liberty. It interested and deeply moved him. For in his own land a desire for freedom had been growing, and he had been in sympathy with it. Now he made it his business to find out more about this war, and then he quickly decided to help all he could.
He belonged to one of the noblest families of France, and was very wealthy. He had a young wife and a baby, whom he regretted to leave. But he believed that his duty called him to join the cause of freedom. His wife was proud of the lofty purpose of her noble husband, and encouraged him to carry out his plan.
But Lafayette found it very hard to get away, for his family was one of influence. His relatives and also the men in power were very angry when he made known his purpose, and they tried to prevent his going.
But he bought a ship with his own money and loaded it with army supplies. Then, disguising himself as a postboy, he arrived at the coast without being found out.
After a long, tiresome voyage he reached the United States and went to Philadelphia.
There Congress gave him the rank of major-general, but in accepting it Lafayette asked that he might serve without pay.
A warm friendship at once sprang up between Washington and the young Frenchman, and a feeling of confidence as between father and son. The older man made the young major-general a member of his military family, and Lafayette was always proud to serve his chief. He spent his money freely and risked his life to help the cause of American liberty. We can never forget his unselfish service.
At the close of the year 1777 Washington took his army to a strong position among the hills at Valley Forge, about twenty miles northwest of Philadelphia, there to spend the winter.
It was a period of intense suffering. Sometimes the soldiers went for days without bread. "For some days past," wrote Washington, "there has been little less than famine in the camp." Most of the soldiers were in rags, only a few had bed clothing. Many had to sit by the fire all night to keep warm, and some of the sick soldiers were without beds or even loose straw to lie upon. Nearly three thousand of the men were barefoot in this severe winter weather, and many had frozen feet because of the lack of shoes. It makes one heart-sick to read about what these brave men passed through during that wretched winter.
Yet, in spite of bitter trials and distressing times, Washington never lost faith that in the end the American cause would triumph. A beautiful story is told showing the faith of this courageous man while in the midst of these pitiful scenes at Valley Forge.
One day, when "Friend Potts," a good Quaker farmer, was near the camp, he saw Washington on his knees, his cheeks wet with tears, praying for help and guidance. When the farmer returned to his home, he said to his wife: "George Washington will succeed! George Washington will succeed! The Americans will secure their independence."
"What makes thee think so, Isaac?" inquired his wife.
"I have heard him pray, Hannah, out in the woods to-day, and the Lord will surely hear his prayer. He will, Hannah; thee may rest assured He will."
Many events happened between this winter at Valley Forge and the surrender of Cornwallis with all his army at Yorktown, but these we shall take up in a later chapter. Washington had led his army through the valley of despair, and never again while the war lasted was the sky so dark.
At the close of the war Washington was glad to return to Mount Vernon and become a Virginia planter once more. But, as we shall learn further on, he was not permitted to spend the remainder of his days in the quiet rural life which he liked so well. For his countrymen had come to honor and trust him as their leader, and the time was not far away when they would again seek his firm and wise guidance.
SOME THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
1. What kind of army did Washington have when he took command at Cambridge?
2. What was the Declaration of Independence, and when was it signed?
3. How did Washington show his ability as a general at New York? What great mistake did General Howe make at that time?
4. What did Nathan Hale do? What do you think of him?
5. Imagine yourself with Washington in the attack upon Trenton, and tell what happened.
6. What were the results of the capture of Burgoyne?
7. Who was Lafayette, and what did he do for the American cause?
8. Describe as well as you can the sufferings of the Americans at Valley Forge.
9. Are you making frequent use of the map?
NATHANAEL GREENE AND OTHER HEROES IN THE SOUTH
We have given a rapid glance at the part which Washington took in the Revolution. He, as commander-in-chief, stands first. But he would have been quick to say that much of the credit for the success in that uneven struggle was due to the able generals who carried out his plans. Standing next to Washington himself as a military leader was Nathanael Greene.
As you remember, the first fighting of the Revolution was in New England near Boston. Failing there, the British tried hard to get control of the Hudson River and the Middle States, as we have just seen. Again they were baffled by Washington.
One course remained, and that was to gain control of the southern States. Beginning in Georgia, they captured Savannah. Two years later in May (1780), they captured General Lincoln and all his force at Charleston, and in the following August badly defeated General Gates, at Camden, South Carolina, where with a new army he was now commanding in General Lincoln's place.
The outlook for the patriot cause was discouraging. One thing was certain. A skilful general must take charge of the American forces in the south, or the British would soon have everything in their own hands. Washington had great faith in General Greene, and did not hesitate to appoint him for this hard task. Let us see what led the commander-in-chief to choose this New England man for duty in a post so far away.
Nathanael Greene was born in Warwick, Rhode Island, in 1742. His father, who on week-days was a blacksmith and miller, on Sundays was a Quaker preacher. Nathanael was trained to work at the forge and in the mill and in the fields as well. He was robust and active and, like young George Washington, a leader in outdoor sports. But with all his other activities he was also, like young Samuel Adams, a good student of books.
We like to think of these colonial boys going to school and playing at games just as boys do now, quite unaware of the great things waiting for them to do in the world. Had they known of their future, they could have prepared in no better way than by taking their faithful part in the work and honest sport of each day as it came.
Greene, being ten years younger than Washington, was about thirty-two years old when the Boston Tea Party and those other exciting events of that time occurred.
Although news did not travel so rapidly then as now, Greene was soon aware that war was likely to break out at any time, and he took an active part in preparing for it. He helped to organize a company of soldiers who should be ready to fight for the American cause, and made the trip from Rhode Island to Boston to get a musket for himself. In Boston he watched with much interest the British regulars taking their drill, and brought back with him not only a musket, hidden under some straw in his wagon, but also a runaway British soldier, who was to drill his company.
When news of the battle of Bunker Hill passed swiftly over the country, proving that the war had actually begun, Rhode Island raised three regiments of troops and placed Greene at their head as general. He marched at once to Boston, and when Washington arrived to take command of the American troops, it was General Greene who had the honor of welcoming him in the name of the army.
GENERAL GREENE IN THE SOUTH
At this time Greene was a man of stalwart appearance, six feet tall, strong and vigorous in body, and with a frank, intelligent face. At once he won the friendship and confidence of Washington, who always trusted him with positions calling for courage, ability, and skill. It was not long before he was Washington's right-hand man. So you can easily see why Washington chose him in 1780 as commander of the American army in the south.
When General Greene reached the Carolinas, it was December, and he found the army in a pitiable condition. There was but a single blanket for the use of every three soldiers, and there was not food enough in camp to last three days. The soldiers had lost heart because of defeat, they were angry because they had not been paid, and many were sick because they had not enough to eat. They camped in rude huts made of fence rails, corn-stalks, and brushwood.
A weak man would have said: "What can I do with an army like this? The task is impossible. To remain here is to fail, so I will resign."
But General Greene said nothing of the kind. He set to work with a will, for he believed that the right was on his side. By wise planning, skilful handling of the army, and hard labor, he managed, with the forces at hand, to ward off the enemy, get food supplies, and put new spirit into his men.
Soon he won the confidence and love of both officers and soldiers. A story is told that shows us the sympathy he had for his men and their faith in him. On one occasion Greene said to a barefoot sentinel: "How you must suffer from cold!" Not knowing that he spoke to his general, the soldier replied: "I do not complain. I know I should have what I need if our general could get supplies."
DANIEL MORGAN, THE GREAT RIFLEMAN
It was indeed fortunate for General Greene that in this time of need his men were so loyal to him. Among them was one who later became noted for his brilliant, daring exploits. This was Daniel Morgan, the great rifleman. You will be interested to hear of some of his thrilling experiences.
When about nineteen years old, Morgan began his military career as a teamster in Braddock's army, and at the time of Braddock's defeat he did good service by bringing wounded men off the battle-field. It was about this time that he became known to Washington, who liked and trusted him. The young man was so dependable and brave that he was steadily promoted.
When he was twenty-three, he had an exciting adventure which brought him the only wound he ever received. It was during the Last French War. With two other men, he was sent to carry a message to the commanding officer at Winchester. They had still about a mile to ride when a party of French and Indians who were hiding in the woods near the roadside fired upon them. Morgan's comrade fell dead instantly. He himself was so severely wounded in the neck by a musket-ball that he came near fainting and believed he was going to die. But he managed to cling to his horse's neck and spurred him along the forest trail.
One Indian, hoping to get Morgan's scalp, ran for a time beside the horse. But when he saw that the animal was outstripping him, he gave up the chase, hurling his tomahawk with an angry yell at the fleeing man. Morgan was soon safe in the hands of friends.
During the Revolution his services were, in more than one critical situation, of great value to the American cause. In the campaign which ended with Burgoyne's defeat, for instance, his riflemen fought like heroes. General Burgoyne, after his surrender, exclaimed to Morgan: "Sir, you command the finest regiment in the world."
Indeed, it was regarded at that time as the best regiment in the American army, and this was largely due to Morgan's skill in handling his men. He made them feel as if they were one family. He was always thoughtful for their health and comfort, and he appealed to their pride but never to their fear.
He was a very tall and strong man, with handsome features and a remarkable power to endure. His manner was quiet and refined, and his noble bearing indicated a high sense of honor. He was liked by his companions because he was always good-natured and ready for the most daring adventure.
General Greene made good use of this true patriot, and not long after taking command of the army he sent Morgan with nine hundred picked men to the westward to threaten the British outposts. General Cornwallis, in command of the British army in the south, ordered Colonel Tarleton to lead a body of soldiers against Morgan.