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Tenor of the King's Speech.
His false Hopes.
Warm Debates in Parliament.
Duke of Grafton in opposition.
jects of the insurgents an independency of empire, they must be treated as rebels. He informed Parliament that he had increased the naval establishment, and greatly augmented the land forces, "yet in such a manner as to be least expensive or burdensome to the kingdom." This was in reference to the employment of German troops, which I shall presently notice. He professed a desire to temper his severity with mercy, and for this purpose proposed the appointment of commissioners to offer the olive branch of peace and pardon to all offenders among the unhappy and deluded multitude" who should sue for forgiveness, as well as for whole communities or provinces. He also expressed a hope that his friendly relations with other European governments would prevent any interference on their part with his plans.1
The address of Parliament responsive to the king's speech was, of course, but an echo of that document. It was firmly opposed by all the old leaders of opposition, and the management of the summer campaign in America was severely commented upon. Ministers were charged with placing their sovereign in a most contemptible position before the world, and with wresting from him the scepter of colonial power in the West. They have acted like fools in their late summer campaign," said Colonel Barré. The British army at Boston,” he said, “is a mere wen-an excrescence on the vast continent of America. Certain defeat awaits it. Not the Earl of Chatham, nor Frederic the Great, nor even Alexander the Great, ever gained so much in one campaign as ministers have lost." They have lost a whole continent," said Fox; and at the same time he characterized North as " the blundering pilot who had brought the vessel of state into its present difficulties." "It is a horrible idea, that the Americans, our brethren, shall be brought into submission to ministerial will by fleets and armies," said General Conway; and other members were equally severe upon ministers. In the Upper House, the Duke of Grafton, Lords Shelburne, Camden, Richmond, Gower, and Cavendish, and the Marquis of Rockingham, took decided ground against ministers. Chatham was very ill, and could not leave his country seat. The Duke of Grafton, one of the minority, was bold in his denunciations, and in the course of an able speech declared that he had been greatly deceived in regard to the Americans, and that nothing short of a total repeal of every act obnoxious to the colonists passed since 1763 could now restore peace. The Cabinet, of course, did not concur with his grace, and he resigned the seals of office, and took a decided stand with the opposition. Dr. Hinchcliffe, bishop of Peterborough, followed Grafton, and also became identified with the opposition. Thurlow and Wedderburne were North's chief supporters. The address was carried in both houses by large majorities.
Burke again attempted to lead ministers into a path of common sense and common justice, by proposing a conciliatory bill. It included a proposition to repeal the Boston Port Bill; a promise not to tax America; a general amnesty; and the calling of a Congress by royal authority for the adjustment of remaining difficulties. North was rather pleased with the proposition, for he foresaw heavy breakers ahead in the course
1 The king did not reckon wisely when he relied upon the implied or even expressed promises of nonintervention on the part of other powers. He had made application to all the maritime powers of Europe to prevent their subjects from aiding the rebel colonies by sending them arms or ammunition; and they all professed a friendship for England, while, at the same time, she was the object of their bitterest jealousy and hate, on account of her proud commercial eminence and political sway. The court of Copenhagen (Denmark) had issued an edict on the 4th of October against carrying warlike articles to America. The Dutch, soon afterward, took similar action; the punishment for a violation of the edict being a fine of only four hundred and fifty dollars, too small to make shipping merchants long hesitate about the risk where such enormous profits were promised. In fact, large quantities, of gunpowder were soon afterward shipped to America from the ports of Holland in glass bottles invoiced "gin." France merely warned the people that what they did for the Americans they must do upon their own risk, and not expect a release from trouble, if they should get into any, by the English admiralty courts. Spain flatly refused to issue any order.
* His office of Lord of the Privy Seal was given to Lord Dartmouth, and the office of that nobleman was filled by his opponent, Lord George Germaine-" the proud, imperious, unpopular Sackville." Germaine had taken an active part in favor of all the late coercive measures, and he was considered the fit instrument to carry out the plans of government toward the Americans, in the capacity of Colonial Secretary.
Augmentation of the Army and Navy.
The Colonies placed under Martial Law.
Proposition to employ foreign Troops.
of the vessel of state; but he had abhorred concession, and this appeared too much like it. A large majority voted against Burke's proposition.
Lord North introduced a bill a few days afterward, prohibiting all intercourse November 22. or trade with the colonies till they should submit, and placing the whole country. under martial law. This bill included a clause, founded upon the suggestion in the king's speech, to appoint resident commissioners, with discretionary powers to grant pardons and effect indemnities.' The bill was passed by a majority of one hundred and ninety-two to sixty-four in the Commons, and by seventy-eight to nineteen in the House of Lords. Eight peers protested. It became a law by royal assent on the 21st of December.
Having determined to employ sufficient force to put down the rebellion, the next necessary step was to procure it. The Committee of Supply proposed an augmentation of the navy to twenty-eight thousand men, and that eighty ships should be employed on the American station. The land forces necessary were estimated at twenty-five thousand men. The king, as Elector of Hanover, controlled the troops of that little kingdom. Five regiments of Hanoverian troops were sent to Gibraltar and Minorca, to allow the garrisons of English troops there to be sent to America. It was also proposed to organize the militia of the kingdom, so as to have an efficient force at home while the regulars should go across the Atlantic. For their support while in actual service it was proposed to raise the land-tax to four shillings in the pound. This proposition touched the pockets of the country members of Parlia ment, and cooled their warlike ardor very sensibly.
The peace establishment at home being small, it was resolved, in accordance with suggestions previously made, to employ foreign troops. The king wrote an autograph letter to the States General of Holland, soliciting them to dispose of their Scotch brigade for service against the Americans. The request was nobly refused. A message was sent to the Parliament of Ireland requesting a supply of troops; that body complied by voting four thousand men for the American service. They servilely agreed to send men to butcher their brethren and kinsmen for a consideration; while the noble Hollanders, with a voice of rebuke, dissented, and refused to allow their soldiers to fight the strugglers for freedom, though strangers to them in blood and language.'
The king was more successful with some of the petty German princes. He entered into a treaty with the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, the Duke of Brunswick, the Prince of Hesse, and the Prince of Waldeck, for seventeen thousand men, to be employed in America. On the 29th of February, 1776, Lord North moved " that these treaties be referred to the Committee of Supply." A most vehement debate ensued in the House of Commons. Ministers pleaded necessity and economy as excuses for such a measure. "There was not time to fill the army with recruits, and hired soldiers would be cheaper in the end, for, after the war, if native troops were employed, there would be nearly thirty battalions to claim half pay." Such were the ostensible reasons; the real object was, doubtless, not so much economy, as the fear that native troops, especially raw recruits, unused to the camp, might affiliate with the insurgents. The opposition denounced the measure as not merely cruel toward the Americans, but disgraceful to the English name; that England was degrading herself by applying to petty German princes for succors against her own subjects; and that nothing. would so effectually bar the way for reconciliation with the colonists as this barbarous prep
This bill became a law, and under that clause General Howe, and his brother, Lord Howe, were appointed commissioners.
2 I can not forbear quoting the remarks of John Derk van der Chapelle, in the Assembly of the States of Overyssel, against the proposition. "Though not as principals, yet as auxiliaries our troops would be employed in suppressing (what some please to call) a rebellion in the American colonies; for which purpose I would rather see janisaries hired than troops from a free state. In what an odious light must this unnatural civil war appear to all Europe-a war in which even savages (if credit can be given to newspaper information) refuse to engage. More odious still would it appear for a people to take a part therein who were themselves once slaves, bore that hateful name, but at last had spirit to fight themselves free. But, above all, it must appear superlatively detestable to me, who think the Americans worthy of every man's esteem, and look upon them as a brave people, defending, in a becoming, manly, and religious manner, those rights which, as men, they derive from God, and not from the Legislature of Great Britain."
Reasons for employing German Troops.
Opposition to it in Parliament.
Terms on which the Mercenaries were hired.
aration to enslave them. It was also intimated that the soldiers to be hired would desert as soon as they reached America; for their countrymen were numerous in the colonies, were all patriots, and would have great influence over them;' that they would accept land, sheathe their swords, and leave the English soldiers to do the work which their German masters sent them to perform. On the other hand, ministers counted largely upon the valor of their hirelings, many of whom were veterans, trained in the wars of Frederic the Great, and that it would be only necessary for these blood-hounds to show themselves in America to make the rebellious people lay down their arms and sue for pardon. The opposition, actuated by a sincere concern for the fair fame of their country, pleaded earnestly against the consummation of the bargain, and used every laudable endeavor to arrest the incipient action. But opposition was of little avail; North's motion for reference was carried by a majority of two hundred and forty-two to eighty-eight.
Another warm debate ensued when the committee reported on the 4th of March; and in the House of Lords the Duke of Richmond moved not only to countermand the order for the mercenaries to proceed to America, but to cease hostilities altogether. The Earl of Coventry maintained that an acknowledgment of the independence of the colonies was preferable to a continuance of the war. Look on the map of the globe," he said; "view Great Britain and North America; compare their extent, consider the soil, rivers, climate, and increasing population of the latter; nothing but the most obstinate blindness and partiality can engender a serious opinion that such a country will long continue under subjection to this. The question is not, therefore, how we shall be able to realize a vain, delusive scheme of dominion, but how we shall make it the interest of the Americans to continue faithful allies and warm friends. Surely that can never be effected by fleets and armies. Instead of meditating conquest and exhausting our strength in an ineffectual struggle, we should, wisely abandoning wild schemes of coercion, avail ourselves of the only substantial benefit we can ever expect, the profits of an extensive commerce, and the strong support of a firm and friendly alliance and compact for mutual defense and assistance." This was the language of wise and sagacious statesmanship-of just and honorable principles-of wholesome and vigorous thought; yet it was denounced as treasonable in its tendency, and encouraging to rebellion. The report recommending the ratification of the bargain was adopted, and the disgraceful and cruel act was consummated. The Landgrave of HesseCassel agreed to furnish twelve thousand one hundred and four men; the Duke of Brunswick, four thousand and eighty-four; the Prince of Hesse, six hundred and sixty-eight, and the Prince of Waldeck, six hundred and seventy; making in all seventeen thousand five hundred and twenty-six soldiers, including the officers. Perceiving the stern necessity which compelled the British government to negotiate with them, these dealers in fighting machines drove a hard bargain with Lord George Germaine and Lord Barrington, making their price in accordance with the principle of trade, where there is a small supply for a great demand. They asked and received thirty-six dollars for each man, and in addition were to receive a considerable subsidy. The whole amount paid by the British government was seven hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars! The British king also guarantied the dominions of these princes against foreign attack. It was a capital bargain for the sellers; for, while they pocketed the enormous poll-price for their troops, they were released from the expense of their maintenance, and felt secure in their absence. Early in the spring these mercenaries, with a considerable number of troops from England and Ireland, sailed for America, under convoy of a British fleet commanded by Admiral Lord Howe." The fierce German
* It was estimated that, when the Revolution broke out, there were about one hundred and fifty thousand German emigrants in the American colonies, most of whom had taken sides with the patriots. * Cavendish's Debates.
3 Admiral Howe, who was a man of fine feelings, hesitated long before he would accept the command of the fleet destined to sail against his fellow-subjects in America. In Parliament, a few days before he sailed, he spoke with much warmth upon the horrors of civil war, and "declared that he knew no struggle so painful as that between a soldier's duties as an officer and a man. If left to his own choice, he should decline serving; but if commanded, it became his duty, and he should not refuse to obey." General Conway said
Parliament alarmed by a Rumor. French Emissary in Philadelphia. Official Announcement of the Evacuation of Boston.
warriors fierce, because brutish, unlettered, and trained to bloodshed by the continental butchers were first let loose upon the patriots in the battle of Long Island,' and thenceforth the Hessians bore a prominent part in many of the conflicts that ensued.
During the residue of the session of Parliament under consideration, American affairs occupied a good portion of the time of the Legislature, but nothing of great importance was done. The Duke of Grafton made an unsuccessful attempt to have an address to the king adopted, requesting that a proclamation might be issued to declare that if the colonists should, within a reasonable time, show a willingness to treat with the commissioners, or present a petition, hostilities should be suspended, and their petition be received and respected. He assured the House that both France and Spain were arming; and alarmed them by the assertion that "two French gentlemen had been to America, had conferred with Washington at his camp, and had since been to Philadelphia to confer with Congress. The duke's proposition was negatived.
A very brief official announcement of the evacuation of Boston appeared in the London Gazette of the 3d of May, 1776. Ministers endeavored to conceal full intelligence of the transaction, and assumed a careless air, as if the occurrence were of no moment. But Colonel Barré would not allow them to rest quietly under the cloak of mystery, but moved in the House of Commons for an address to his majesty, praying that copies of the dispatches of General Howe and Admiral Shuldham might be laid before the House. There, and in the House of Lords, the ministry were severely handled. Lord North declared that the army was not compelled to abandon Boston, when he well knew to the contrary; and Lord George Germaine's explanation was weak and unsatisfactory. The thunders of Burke's eloquent denunciations were opened against the government, and he declared that " ure which had been adopted or pursued was directed to impoverish England and to emancipate America; and though in twelve months nearly one thousand dollars a man had been
a war with our fellow-subjects in America differed very widely from a war with foreign nations, and that before an officer drew his sword against his fellow-subjects he ought to examine well his conscience whether the cause were just. Thurlow declared that such sentiments, if once established as a doctrine, must tend to a dissolution of all governments.-Pictorial History of England, v., 248.
1 I intended to defer a notice of these German troops (generally called Hessians, because the greater portion came from Hesse and Hesse-Cassel) until the battle of Long Island should be under consideration; but the action relative to their employment occupies such a conspicuous place in the proceedings of the session of Parliament, where the most decided hostile measures against America were adopted, that here seemed the most appropriate place to notice the subject in detail.
2 Some time in the month of November, 1775, Congress was informed that a foreigner was in Philadelphia who was desirous of making to them a confidential communication. At first no notice was taken of it, but the intimation having been several times repeated, a committee, consisting of John Jay, Dr. Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson, was appointed to hear what he had to say. They agreed to meet him in a room in Carpenters' Hall, and, at the time appointed, they found him there-an elderly, lame gentleman, and apparently a wounded French officer. He told them that the French king was greatly pleased with the exertions for liberty which the Americans were making; that he wished them success, and would, whenever it should be necessary, manifest more openly his friendly sentiments toward them. The committee requested to know his authority for giving these assurances. He answered only by drawing his hand across his throat, and saying, "Gentlemen, I shall take care of my head." They then asked what demonstrations of friendship they might expect from the King of France. "Gentlemen," he answered, "if you want arms, you shall have them; if you want ammunition, you shall have it; if you want money, you shall have it." The committee observed that these were important assurances, and again desired to know by what authority they were made. "Gentlemen," said he, again drawing his hand across his throat, “I shall take care of my head;" and this was the only answer they could obtain from him. He was seen in Philadelphia no more. See Life of John Jay, written by his son, William Jay.
3 The official announcement in the Gazette was as follows: "General Howe, commander-in-chief of his majesty's forces in North America, having taken a resolution on the 7th of March to remove from Boston to Halifax with the troops under his command, and such of the inhabitants, with their effects, as were desirous to continue under the protection of his majesty's forces; the embarkation was effected on the 17th of the same month, with the greatest order and regularity, and without the least interruption from the rebels. When the packet came away, the first division of transports was under sail, and the remainder were preparing to follow in a few days, the admiral leaving behind as many men-of-war as could be spared from the convoy for the security and protection of such vessels as might be bound to Boston."
Royal Approval of Howe's Course.
Opinions of the People. Position of the Colonies. Count Rumford.
spent for salt beef and sour-krout,' the troops could not have remained ten days longer if the heavens had not rained down manna and quails."
The majority voted down every proposition to elicit full information respecting operations in America, and on the 23d of May his majesty, after expressing a hope that his 1776. rebellious subjects would yet submit," prorogued Parliament.
May 3, 1776.
The evacuation of Boston was approved by the king and his ministers, and on the day when the announcement of the event was made in London, Lord George Germaine wrote to Howe, deploring the miscarriage of the general's dispatches for the ministers, praising his prudence, and assuring him that his conduct had "given the fullest proofs of his majesty's wisdom and discernment in the choice of so able and brave an officer to command his troops in America."
Thus ended the SIEGE OF BOSTON, where the first decided triumph of American arms over the finest troops of Great Britain was accomplished. The departure of Howe was regarded in England as a flight; the patriots viewed it as a victory for themselves. Confidence in their strength to resist oppression was increased ten-fold by this event, and doubt of final and absolute success was a stranger to their thoughts. When the siege of Boston commenced, the colonies were hesitating on the great measures of war; were separated by local interests; were jealous of each other's plans, and appeared on the field, each with its independent army under its local colors. When the siege of Boston ended, the colonies had drawn the sword and nearly cast away the scabbard. They had softened their jealousy of each other; they had united in a political association; and the Union flag of thirteen stripes waved over a Continental army."
Few events of more importance than those at other large sea-port towns occurred at Boston after the flight of the British army. The Americans took good care to keep their fortifications in order, and a full complement of men to garrison them sufficiently.
A Dutch or German dish, made of cabbage.
It appears that Howe sent dispatches to England on the 23d of October, 1775, by the hands of Major Thompson, and those were the last from him that reached the ministry before the army left Boston for Halifax. Major Thompson was afterward the celebrated philosopher, Count Rumford. He was a native of Woburn, in Massachusetts, and was born on the 26th of March, 1753. He early evinced a taste for philosophy and the mechanic arts, and obtained permission to attend the philosophical lectures of Professor Winthrop at Cambridge. He afterward taught school at Rumford (now Concord), New Hampshire, where he married a wealthy young widow. In consequence of his adhesion to the British cause, he left his family in the autumn of 1775, went to England, and became a favorite of Lord George Germaine, who made him under secretary in the Northern Department. Near the close of the Revolution he was sent to New York, where he commanded a regiment of dragoons, and returning to England, the king knighted him. He became acquainted with the minister of the Duke of Bavaria, who induced him to go to Munich, where he became active in public affairs. The duke raised him to a high military rank, and made him a count of the empire. He added to his title the place of his marriage, and became Count Rumford. He was in London in 1800, and projected the Royal Institution of Great Britain. His wife, whom he abandoned, died in 1794 in New Hampshire. Count Rumford died August 20th, 1814, aged sixty-one years. His scientific discoveries have made his name immortal. He bequeathed fifty thousand dollars to Harvard College. 3 Frothingham, page 334.
With the exception of Dorchester, Bunker Hill, and Roxbury, I believe there are few traces of the fortifications of the Revolution that can be certainly identified; and so much altered has been the fortress on Castle Island that it exhibits but little of the features of 1776. Every year the difficulty of properly locating the several forts becomes greater, and therefore to preserve, in this work, a record of those landmarks by which they may be identified, I condense from Silliman's Journal for 1822 an interesting article on the subject which was communicated by J. Finch, Esq., with such references as later writers have made. A recurrence to the map on page 566, vol. i., will assist the reader.
I. BREED'S HILL and BUNKER HILL.-These works were on the summits and slopes of the hills, looking toward Boston. Bunker Hill Monument now stands upon the spot where Prescott's redoubt was thrown up. II. PLOWED HILL.-This fort was upon the summit of the eminence, commanding the Mystic River and the Penny Ferry. It was in a direct line from Charlestown Neck to Winter Hill, further northward.
III. COBBLE or BARRELL'S HILL.-In consequence of its strength, the fort on this hill was called Putnam's impregnable fortress. This was on the north side of Willis's Creek, in full view of Bunker and Breed's Hills, and commanding the whole western portion of the peninsula of Charlestown.
IV. LECHMERE'S POINT was strongly fortified at a spot one hundred yards from West Boston Bridge.