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The die is now cast; the colonies must either submit or triumph.--George III.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.--Thomas Jefferson.

Two months and ten days after Mr. Hutchinson embarked for England, John Adams, the Hon. Thomas Cushing, Mr. Samuel Adams, and Robert Treat Paine set out "from Boston, from Mr. Cushing's house, and rode to Coolidge's, where they dined... with a large company of gentlemen, who went out and prepared an entertainment for them at that place. A most kindly and affectionate meeting we had, and about four in the afternoon we took leave of them, amidst the kindest wishes and fervent prayers of every man in the company for our health and success. The scene was truly affecting, beyond all description affecting." The four men who in this manner left Boston on the 10th of August, 1774, were bound for Philadelphia to attend the first Continental Congress. Even Samuel Adams, in excellent spirits, a little resplendent and doubtless a little uncomfortable in his new suit and new silk hose, could scarcely have known that they were about to share in one of the decisive events in the history of the modern world.

The calling of the Continental Congress had followed hard upon those recent measures of the British Government which no reasonable man could doubt were designed to reduce the colonies to a state of slavery. In May, 1773, the East India Company, whose privileges in India had just been greatly restricted, was given permission to export tea from its English warehouses directly to America, free of all English customs and excise duties. The three-penny duty in America was indeed retained; but this small tax would not prevent the Company from selling its teas in America at a lower price than other importers, either smugglers or legitimate traders, could afford. It was true the Americans were opposed to the three-penny tax, and they had bound themselves not to import any dutied tea; yet neither the opposition to the tax nor the non-importation agreements entered into had prevented American merchants from importing, during the last three years, about 580,831 pounds of English tea, upon which the duty had been paid without occasioning much comment.

With these facts in mind, hard-headed American merchants, to whom the Company applied for information about the state of the tea trade in the colonies, assured the directors that the Americans drank a great deal of tea, which hitherto had been largely smuggled from Holland; and that, although they were in principle much opposed to the tax, "mankind in general are bound by interest," and "the Company can afford their teas cheaper than the Americans can smuggle them from foreigners, which puts the success of the design beyond a doubt."

The hard-headed merchants were doubtless much surprised at the universal outcry which was raised when it became known that the East India Company was preparing to import its teas into the colonies; and yet the strenuous opposition everywhere exhibited rather confirmed than refuted the philosophical reflection that "mankind in general are bound by interest." Neither the New York and Philadelphia merchants who smuggled tea from Holland, nor the Boston and Charleston merchants who imported dutied tea from England, could see any advantage to them in having this profitable business taken over by the East India Company. Mr. Hancock, for example, was one of the Boston merchants who imported a good deal of dutied tea from England, a fact which was better known then than it has been since; and at Philadelphia John Adams was questioned rather closely about Mr. Hancock's violation of the non-importation agreement, in reply to which he could only say: "Mr. Hancock, I believe, is justifiable, but I am not certain whether he is strictly so." Justifiable or not, Mr. Hancock would not wish to see the entire tea trade of America in the hands of the East India Company.

And indeed to whose interest would it be to have an English company granted a monopoly of a thriving branch of American trade? To those, doubtless, who were the consignees of the Company, such as the sons of Thomas Hutchinson, or Mr. Abram Lott of New York. Certainly no private merchant "who is acquainted with the operation of a monopoly... will send out or order tea to America when those who have it at first hand send to the same market." And therefore, since the Company have the whole supply, America will "ultimately be at their mercy to extort what price they please for their tea. And when they find their success in this article, they will obtain liberty to export their spices, silks, etc." This was the light in which the matter appeared to the New York Committee of Correspondence.

John Dickinson saw the matter in the same light, a light which his superior abilities enabled him to portray in more lurid colors. The conduct of the East India Company in Asia, he said,

"has given ample proof how little they regard the laws of nations, the rights, liberties, or lives of men. They have levied war, excited rebellions, dethroned princes, and sacrificed millions for the sake of gain. The revenues of mighty kingdoms have centered in their coffers. And these not being sufficient to glut their avarice, they have, by the most unparalleled barbarities, extortions, and monopolies, stripped the miserable inhabitants of their property and reduced whole provinces to indigence and ruin.... Thus having drained the sources of that immense wealth... they now, it seems, cast their eyes on America, a new theater, whereon to exercise their talents of rapine, oppression, and cruelty. The monopoly of tea, is, I dare say, but a small part of the plan they have formed to strip us of our property. But thank God we are not Sea Poys, nor Marattas, but British subjects, who are born to liberty, who know its worth, and who prize it high."

For all of these reasons, therefore--because they were in principle opposed to taxation without consent, and by interest opposed to an English company monopolizing the tea trade, and perhaps because they desired to give a signal demonstration of the fact that they were neither Sea Poys nor Marattas--Americans were willing to resort to the use of force in order to maintain their own rights by depriving the East India Company of its privileges.

When Capt. Curling's ship arrived in Charleston, the people in that town, assembled to deal with the grave crisis, were somewhat uncertain what to do with the Company's tea. On the very ship which brought the Company's tea, there were some chests consigned to private merchants; and certain enthusiastic patriots attending the meeting of citizens affirmed that the importation of dutied tea by private merchants contrary to the non-importation agreement was no less destructive to liberty than the importation of tea by the East India Company. "All this," it was said, "evinced a desire of not entering hastily into measures." In the end, the Company's tea was seized by the Collector and stored in the vaults under the Exchange. At New York and Philadelphia, the Company's tea ships were required to return to England without landing; and it was only at Boston, where Governor Hutchinson, whose sons had been appointed by the Company as its consignees, refused return clearance papers, that the tea, some 14,000 pounds worth of it, was thrown into the harbor.

Throwing the tea into the harbor raised a sharp sense of resentment in the minds of Britons. The common feeling was that, unless the British Government was prepared to renounce all pretense of governing the colonies, something must be done. There were a few, such as Josiah Tucker, who thought that the thing to do was to give up the colonies; in their opinion, colonies were in any case more of a burden than an advantage, the supposed advantages of colonies being bound up with restrictions on trade, and restrictions on trade being contrary to the natural law by which commerce should be free. But the natural law was only a recent discovery not yet widely accepted in England; and it did not occur to the average Briton that the colonies should be given up. The colonies, he supposed, were English colonies; and he thought the time had come to establish that fact. He had heard that the colonies had grievances. All he knew was that the Government had good-naturedly made concessions for the last ten years; and as for this new grievance about tea, the average Briton made out only that the Americans could buy their tea cheaper than he could himself.

Obviously the time had come for Old England to set the colonies right by showing less concession and more power. Four regiments, as General Gage said, would do the business. The average Briton therefore gave his cordial approval to four "coercive" measures, passed by overwhelming majorities in Parliament, which remodeled the Massachusetts charter, authorized the Governor to transfer to courts in other colonies or to England any cases involving a breach of the peace or the conduct of public officers, provided for quartering troops on the inhabitants, and closed the port of Boston until the East India Company should have been compensated for the loss of its tea. In order to make these measures effective, General Gage, commander of the American forces, was made Governor of Massachussetts. To what extent he would find it necessary to use the military depended upon the Bostonians. "The die is now cast," the King wrote to Lord North; "the colonies must either submit or triumph." The King's judgment was not always good; but it must be conceded that in this instance he had penetrated to the very center of the situation.

Massachusetts, very naturally, wished not to submit, but whether she could triumph without the support of the other colonies was more than doubtful; and it was to obtain this support, to devise if possible a method of resistance agreeable to all, that the Congress was now assembling at Philadelphia. The spirit in which the colonies received the news of the Boston Port Bill augured well for union, for in every colony it was felt that this was a challenge which could not be evaded without giving the lie to ten years of high talk about the inalienable rights of Englishmen. As Charles James Fox said, "all were taught to consider the town of Boston as suffering in the common cause." This sentiment John Adams found everywhere expressed--found everywhere, as he took his leisurely journey southward, that people were "very firm" in their determination to support Massachusetts against the oppression of the British Government.

In respect to the measures which should be adopted to achieve the end desired, there was not the same unanimity. Mr. Adams, at the age of thirty-eight years, never having been out of New England, kept his eyes very wide open as he entered the foreign colonies of New York and Pennsylvania. In New York he was much impressed with the "elegant country seats," with the bountiful hospitality, and the lavish way of living. "A more elegant breakfast I never saw"--this was at Mr. Scott's house--"rich plate, a very large silver coffee-pot, a very large silver tea-pot, napkins of the finest materials, toast, and bread and butter in great perfection," and then, to top it off, "a plate of beautiful peaches, another of pears, and another of plums, and a musk-melon were placed upon the table." Nevertheless, in spite of the friendliness shown to him personally, in spite of the sympathy which, abstractly considered, the New Yorkers expressed for the sad state of Boston, Mr. Adams was made to understand that if it came to practical measures for the support of Massachusetts, many diverse currents of opinion and interest would make themselves felt.

New York was "very firm" in the cause, certainly, but "Mr. MacDougall gave a caution to avoid every expression which looked like an allusion to the last appeal. He says there is a powerful party here who are intimidated by fears of a civil war, and they have been induced to acquiesce by assurances that there was no danger, and that a peaceful cessation of commerce would effect relief. Another party, he says, are intimidated lest the leveling spirit of the New England colonies should propagate itself into New York. Another party are instigated by Episcopalian prejudices against New England. Another party are merchants largely concerned in navigation, and therefore afraid of non-importation, nonconsumption, and non-exportation agreements. Another party are those who are looking up to Government for favors."

These interests were doubtless well enough represented by the New York deputies to the Congress, whom Mr. Adams now saw for the first time. Mr. Jay, it was said, was a good student of the law and a hard worker. Mr. Low, "they say, will profess attachment to the cause of liberty, but his sincerity is doubted." Mr. Alsop was thought to be of good heart, but unequal, as Mr. Scott affirmed, "to the trust in point of abilities." Mr. Duane--this was Mr. Adams's own impression--"has a sly, surveying eye,... very sensible, I think, and very artful." And finally there was Mr. Livingston, "a downright, straightforward many" who reminded Mr. Adams that Massachusetts had once hung some Quakers, affirmed positively that civil war would follow the renunciation of allegiance to Britain, and threw out vague hints of the Goths and Vandals.

Confiding these matters to his "Diary" and keeping his own opinion, Mr. Adams passed on to Philadelphia. There the Massachusetts men were cordially welcomed, twice over, but straightway cautioned against two gentlemen, one of whom was "Dr. Smith, the Provost of the College, who is looking up to Government for an American Episcopate and a pair of lawn sleeves"--a very soft, polite man, "insinuating, adulating, sensible, learned, insidious, indefatigable," with art enough, "and refinement upon art, to make impressions even upon Mr. Dickinson and Mr. Reed." In Pennsylvania, as in every colony, Mr. Adams found, there was a tribe of people "exactly like the tribe, in the Massachusetts, of Hutchinsonian Addressers." Some of this tribe had managed to elbow their way into the committees of deputies to the Congress, at least from the middle colonies, and probably from South Carolina as well.

The "most spirited and consistent of any" of the deputies were the gentlemen from Virginia, among whom were Mr. Henry and Mr. R. H. Lee, said to be the Demosthenes and the Cicero of America. The latter, Mr. Adams liked much, a "masterly man" who was very strong for the most vigorous measures. But it seemed that even Mr. Lee was strong for vigorous measures only because he was "absolutely certain that the same ship which carries hence the resolutions will bring back the redress." If he supposed otherwise, he "should be for exceptions."

From the first day of the Congress it was known that the Massachusetts men were in favor of "vigorous measures;" vigorous measures being understood to mean the adoption of strict non-importation, non-consumption, and non-exportation agreements. There were moments when John Adams thought even these measures tame and unheroic: "When Demosthenes (God forgive the vanity of recollecting his example) went ambassador from Athens to the other states of Greece, to excite a confederacy against Phillip, he did not go to propose a Non-Importation or Non-Consumption Agreement...." For all this, the Massachusetts men kept themselves well in the background, knowing that there was much jealousy and some fear of New England leadership and well aware that the recent experience with non-importation agreements had greatly diminished, in the mercantile colonies of New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina, the enthusiasm for such experiments.

The trouble with non-importation agreements, as Major Hawley had told John Adams, was that "they will not be faithfully observed; that the Congress have no power to enforce obedience to their laws; that they will be like a legislative without an executive." Did Congress have, or could it assume, authority to compel men to observe its resolutions, to compel them to observe, for example, a non-importation agreement? This was a delicate question upon which opinion was divided. "We have no legal authority," said Mr. Rutledge, "and obedience to our determinations will only follow the reasonableness, the apparent utility, and necessity of the measures we adopt. We have no coercive or legislative authority." If this was so, the non-intercourse policy would doubtless prove a broken reed. Massachusetts men were likely to be of another opinion, were likely to agree with Patrick Henry, who said, "that "Government is dissolved. Fleets and armies and the present state of things show that government is dissolved. We are in a state of nature, Sir!" If they were indeed in a state of nature, it was perhaps high time that Congress should assume the powers of a government, in which case it might be possible to adopt and to enforce non-intercourse measures. In this gingerly way did the deputies lift the curtain and peer down the road to revolution.

The deputies, like true Britons, contrived to avoid the highly theoretical question of authority, and began straightway to concern themselves with the practical question of whether the Congress, with or without authority, should recommend the adoption of strict non-intercourse agreements. Upon this question, as the chief issue, the deputies were divided into nearly equal groups. Mr. Galloway, Mr. Duane, and Mr. Rutledge were perhaps the leaders of those, probably a majority at first, who were opposed to such vigorous measures, fearing that they were intended as a cloak to cover the essentially revolutionary designs of the shrewd New Englanders. "We have too much reason to suspect that independence is aimed at," Mr. Low warned the Congress; and Mr. Galloway could see that while the Massachusetts men were in "behavior very modest, yet they are not so much so as not to throw out hints, which like straws and feathers show from which point in the compass the wind comes." In the early days of the Congress, if we are to believe Mr. Hutchinson, this cold north wind was so much disliked that the New York and New Jersey deputies, "and others," carried a vote against the adoption of non-intercourse agreements, "agreed to present a petition to the King," and "expected to break up, when letters arrived from Dr. Franklin which put an end to the petition."

The Journals of the Congress do not record any vote of this kind; but a number of things are known to have occurred in the Congress which the Journals do not record. On September 17, the famous "Suffolk Resolves" were laid before the deputies for their approval. The resolutions had been adopted by a county convention in Massachusetts, and in substance they recommended to the people of Massachusetts to form a government independent of that of which General Gage was the Governor, urged them meanwhile to arm themselves in their own defense, and assured them that "no obedience is due from this province to either or any part" of the Coercive Acts. These were indeed "vigorous measures"; and when the resolutions came before Congress, "long and warm debates ensued between the parties," Mr. Galloway afterwards remembered; and he says that when the vote to approve them was finally carried, "two of the dissenting members presumed to offer their protest to it in writing which was negatived," and when they then insisted that the "tender of the protest and the negative should be entered on the minutes, this was also rejected."

Later in the month, September 28, Mr. Galloway introduced his famous plan for a "British-American Parliament" as a method for permanent reconciliation. The motion to enter the plan on the minutes and to refer it for further consideration gave rise to "long and warm debates," the motion being carried by a majority of one colony; but subsequently, probably on October 21, it was voted to expunge the plan, together with all resolutions referring to it, from the minutes. Nothing, as Benjamin Franklin wrote from England, could so encourage the British Government to persist in its oppressive policy as the knowledge that dissensions existed in the Congress; and since these dissensions did unfortunately exist, there was a widespread feeling that it would be the part of wisdom to conceal them as much as possible.

No doubt a majority of the deputies, when they first read the Suffolk Resolutions, were amazed that the rash New Englanders should venture to pledge themselves so frankly to rebellion. Certainly no one who thought himself a loyal subject of King George could even contemplate rebellion; but, on the other hand, to leave Massachusetts in the lurch after so much talk of union and the maintenance of American rights would make loyal Americans look a little ridiculous. That would be to show themselves lambs as soon as Britons had shown themselves lions, which was precisely what their enemies in England boasted they would do. Confronted by this difficult dilemma, moderate men without decided opinions began to fix their attention less upon the exact nature of the measures they were asked to support, and more upon the probable effect of such measures upon the British Government. It might be true, and all reports from England seemed to point that way, that the British Government was only brandishing the sword in terrorem, to see whether the Americans would not run at once to cover; in which case it would be wiser for all loyal subjects to pledge themselves even to rebellion, the prospect being so very good that Britain would quickly sheathe its sword and present instead the olive branch, saying, "This is what I intended to offer." Therefore, rather than leave Massachusetts in the lurch and so give the lie to the boasted unity of the colonies, many moderate and loyal subjects voted to approve the Suffolk Resolutions, which they thought very rash and ill-advised measures.

Whatever differences still prevailed, if indeed practical men could hold out after the accomplished fact, might be bridged and compromised by adopting those petitions and addresses which the timid thought sufficient and at the same time by subscribing to and "recommending" those non-intercourse agreements which the bolder sort thought essential.

This compromise was in fact effected. The Congress unanimously adopted the moderate addresses which Lord Chatham afterwards praised for their masterly exposition of true constitutional principles; but it likewise adopted, also unanimously, a series of resolutions known as the Association, to which the deputies subscribed their names. By signing the Association, the deputies bound themselves, and recommended the people in all the colonies to bind themselves, not to import, after December 1, 1774, any commodities from Great Britain or Ireland, or molasses, syrups, sugars, and coffee from the British plantations, or East India Company tea from any place, or wines from Madeira, or foreign indigo; not to consume, after March 1, 1775, any of these commodities; and not to export, after September 10, 1775, any commodities whatever to Great Britain, Ireland, or the West Indies, "except rice to Europe." It was further recommended that a committee be formed in each city, town, and county, whose business it should be to observe the conduct of all persons, those who refused to sign the Association as well as those who signed it, and to publish the names of all persons who did not observe the agreements there entered into, "to the end that all such foes of the rights of British-America may be publicly known and universally condemned as the enemies of American liberty"; and it was likewise recommended that the committees should inspect the customs entries frequently, that they should seize all goods imported contrary to the recommendation of the Association and reship them, or, if the owner preferred, sell them at public auction, the owner to be recompensed for the first costs, the profits, if any, to be devoted to relieving the people of Boston.

Having thus adopted a Petition to the King, a Memorial to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies, and an Address to the People of Great Britain, and having recommended a certain line of conduct to be followed by all loyal Americans, the first Continental Congress adjourned. It had assumed no "coercive or legislative authority"; obedience to its determinations would doubtless depend, as Mr. Rutledge had said, upon "the reasonableness, the apparent utility and necessity" of its recommendations.

"There can be no doubt," the Earl of Dartmouth is reported to have said, "that every one who had signed the Association was guilty of treason." The Earl of Dartmouth was not counted one of the enemies of America; and if this was his opinion of the action of the first Continental Congress, Lord North's supporters in Parliament, a great majority since the recent elections, were not likely to take a more favorable view of it. Nevertheless, when the American question came up for consideration in the winter of 1776, "conciliation" was a word frequently heard on all sides, and even corrupt ministers were understood to be dallying with schemes of accommodation. In January and February great men were sending agents, and even coming themselves, to Dr. Franklin to learn what in his opinion the colonies would be satisfied with. Lord Chatham, as might be guessed, was meditating a plan. On the 29th of January, he came to Craven Street and showed it to Franklin, who made notes upon it, and later went out to Hayes, two hours' ride from London, where he remained for four hours listening to the easy flow of the Great Commoner's eloquence without being able to get any of his own ideas presented.

Fortified by the presence if not by the advice of Franklin, Lord Chatham laid his plan before Parliament on the 1st of February. He would have an explicit declaration of the dependence of the colonies on the Crown and Parliament in all matters of trade and an equally explicit declaration that no tag should be imposed upon the colonies without their consent; and when the Congress at Philadelphia should have acknowledged the supremacy of the Crown and Parliament and should have made a free and perpetual grant of revenue, then he would have all the obnoxious acts passed since 1764, and especially the Coercive Acts, totally repealed. Lord Sandwich, in a warm speech, moved to reject these proposals at once; and when the vote was taken it was found that 61 noble lords were in favor of rejecting them at once, while only 31 were opposed to so doing.

Lord North was perhaps less opposed to reconciliation than other noble lords were. A few days later Franklin was approached by Admiral Howe, who was understood to know the First Minister's mind, to learn whether he might not suggest something for the Government to go upon. The venerable Friend of the Human Race was willing enough to set down on paper some "Hints" which Admiral Howe might think advisable to show to ministers. It happened, however, that the "Hints" went far beyond anything the Government had in mind. Ministers would perhaps be willing to repeal the Tea Act and the Boston Port Bill; but they felt strongly that the act regulating the Massachusetts charter must stand as "an example of the power of Parliament." Franklin, on the other hand, was certain that "while Parliament claims the right of altering American constitutions at pleasure, there can be no agreement." Since the parties were so far apart, it seemed useless to continue the informal negotiation, and on February 20, Lord North laid before Parliament his own plan for effecting an accommodation.

Perhaps, after all, it was not his own plan; for Lord North, much inclined to regard himself as the King's minister, was likely to subordinate his wishes to those of his master. King George III, at all events, had his own ideas on conciliation. "I am a friend to holding out the olive branch," he wrote in February, "yet I believe that, when vigorous measures appear to be the only means, the colonies will submit." Knowing the King's ideas, as well as those of Dr. Franklin, Lord North accordingly introduced into Parliament the Resolution on Conciliation, which provided that when any colony should make provision "for contributing their proportion to the common defense,.. and for the support of the civil government, and the administration of justice in such province,... it will be proper,... for so long as such provision shall be made,... to forbear, in respect of such province,... to levy any Duty, Tax, or Assessment,... except... for the regulation of commerce." The minister's resolution, although by most of his supporters thought to be useless, was adopted by a vote of 274 to 88.

It was not the intention of the Government to hold out the olive branch by itself. Lord North, and perhaps the King also, hoped the colonies would accept it; but by all maxims of politics an olive branch was more likely to be accepted if the shining sword was presented at the same time as the only alternative. As early as the 10th of February, Lord North had introduced into Parliament a bill, finally passed March 30, "to restrain the trade and commerce" of the New England colonies to "Great Britain, Ireland, and the British islands in the West Indies," and to exclude these colonies from "carrying on any fishery on the banks of Newfoundland," it being "highly unfit that the inhabitants of the said provinces... should enjoy the same privileges of trade... to which his Majesty's faithful and obedient subjects are entitled." The provisions of this act were extended to the other colonies in April; and meantime measures were taken to strengthen the naval forces.

The first certain information that Lord North had extended the olive branch reached New York April 24, 1775, two weeks before the day fixed for the meeting of the second Continental Congress. Important changes had taken place since the first Congress, six months earlier, had sent forth its resolutions. In every colony there was a sufficient number of patriots who saw "the reasonableness, the apparent utility, and necessity" of forming the committees which the Association recommended; and these committees everywhere, with a marked degree of success, immediately set about convincing their neighbors of the utility and necessity of signing the non-importation agreement, or at least of observing it even if they were not disposed to sign it. To deny the reasonableness of the Association was now indeed much more difficult than it would have been before the Congress assembled; for the Congress, having published certain resolutions unanimously entered into, had come to be the symbol of America united in defense of its rights; and what American, if indeed one might call him such, would wish to be thought disloyal to America or an enemy of its liberties? It required a degree of assurance for any man to set up his individual judgment against the deliberate and united judgment of the chosen representatives of all the colonies; and that must be indeed a very subtle mind which could draw the distinction between an enemy of liberty and a friend of liberty who was unwilling to observe the Association.

Some such subtle minds there were--a considerable number in most colonies who declared themselves friends of liberty but not of the Association, loyal to America but not to the Congress. One of these was Samuel Seabury, an Episcopalian clergyman living in Westchester County, New York, a vigorous, downright man, who at once expressed his sentiments in a forcible and logical manner, and with much sarcastic humor, in a series of pamphlets which were widely read and much commended by those who found in them their own views so effectively expressed. This Westchester Farmer--for so he signed himself--proclaimed that he had always been, and was still, a friend of liberty in general and of American liberty in particular. The late British measures he thought unwise and il-liberal, and he had hoped that the Congress would be able to obtain redress, and perhaps even to effect a permanent reconciliation. But, these hopes were seen to be vain from the day when the Congress approved the Suffolk Resolutions and, instead of adopting Mr. Galloway's plan, adopted the Association. For no sane man could doubt that, under the thin disguise of "recommendations," Congress had assumed the powers of government and counseled rebellion. The obvious conclusion from this was that, if one could not be a loyal American without submitting to Congress, then it was impossible to be at the same time a loyal American and a loyal British subject.

But, if the problem were rightly considered, Mr. Seabury thought one might be loyal to America in the best sense without supporting Congress; for, apart from any question of legality, the Association was highly inexpedient, inasmuch as non-importation would injure America more than it injured England, and, for this reason if for no others, it would be found impossible to "bully and frighten the supreme government of the nation." Yet all this was beside the main point, which was that the action of Congress, whether expedient or not, was illegal. It was illegal because it authorized the committees to enforce the Association upon all alike, upon those who never agreed to observe it as well as upon those who did; and these committees, as everyone knew, were so enforcing it and were "imposing penalties upon those who have presumed to violate it." The Congress talked loudly of the tyranny of the British Government. Tyranny! Good Heavens! Was any tyranny worse than that of self-constituted committees which, in the name of liberty, were daily conducting the most hateful inquisition into the private affairs of free British subjects? "Will you choose such committees? Will you submit to them should they be chosen by the weak, foolish, turbulent part of the... people? I will not. No. If I must be enslaved, let it be by a KING at least, and not by a parcel of upstart, lawless committeemen."

The Massachusetts men were meanwhile showing no disposition to submit to the King. In that colony a Provincial Congress, organized at Salem in October, 1774, and afterwards removed to Cambridge, had assumed all powers of government in spite of General Gage and contrary to the provisions of the act by which Parliament had presumed to remodel the Massachusetts charter. Outside of Boston at least, the allegiance of the people was freely given to this extra-legal government; and under its direction the towns began to prepare for defense by organizing the militia and procuring and storing arms and ammunition.

To destroy such stores of ammunition seemed to General Gage quite the most obvious of his duties; and Colonel Smith was accordingly ordered to proceed to the little village of Concord, some eighteen miles northwest of Boston, and destroy the magazines which were known to be collected there. The night of the 18th of April was the time fixed for this expedition; and in the evening of that day patriots in Boston noted with alarm that bodies of troops were moving towards the waterside. Dr. Joseph Warren, knowing or easily guessing the destination of the troops, at once despatched William Dawes, and later in the evening Paul Revere also, to Lexington and Concord to spread the alarm. As the little army of Colonel Smith--a thousand men, more or less--left Boston and marched up into the country, church bells and the booming of cannon announced their coming. Day was breaking when the British troops approached the town of Lexington; and there on the green they could see, in the early morning light, perhaps half a hundred men standing in military array--fifty against a thousand! The British rushed forward with huzzas, in the midst of which shots were heard; and when the little band of minutemen was dispersed eight of the fifty lay dead upon the village green.

The battle of Lexington was begun, but it was not yet finished. Pushing on to Concord, the thousand disciplined British regulars captured and destroyed the military stores collected there. This was easily done; but the return from Concord to Lexington, and from Lexington to Cambridge, proved a disastrous retreat. The British found indeed no minutemen drawn up in military array to block their path; but they found themselves subject to the deadly fire of men concealed behind the trees and rocks and clumps of shrubs that everywhere conveniently lined the open road. With this method of warfare, not learned in books, the British were unfamiliar. Discipline was but a handicap; and the fifteen hundred soldiers that General Gage sent out to Lexington to rescue Colonel Smith served only to make the disaster greater in the end. When the retreating army finally reached the shelter of Cambridge, it had lost, in killed and wounded, 247 men; while the Americans, of whom it had been confidently asserted in England that they would not stand against British regulars, had lost but 88.

The courier announcing the news of Lexington passed through New York on the 23d of April. Twenty-four hours later, during the height of the excitement occasioned by that event, intelligence arrived from England that Parliament had approved Lord North's Resolution on Conciliation. For extending the olive branch, the time was inauspicious; and when the second Continental Congress assembled, two weeks later, on the 10th of May, men were everywhere wrathfully declaring that the blood shed at Lexington made allegiance to Britain forever impossible.

It might indeed have seemed that the time had come when every man must decide, once for all, whether he would submit unreservedly to the King or stand without question for the defense of America. Yet not all men, not a majority of men in the second Continental Congress, were of that opinion.

The second Congress was filled with moderate minded men who would not believe the time had come when that decision had to be made--men who were bound to sign themselves British-Americans till the last possible moment, many of whom could not now have told whether in the end they would sign themselves Britons or Americans. Surely, they said, we need not make the decision yet. We have the best of reasons for knowing that Britain will not press matters to extremities. Can we not handle the olive branch and the sword as well as Lord North? A little fighting, to convince ministers that we can't be frightened, and all will be well. We shall have been neither rebels nor slaves. The second Congress was full of men who were, as yet, "Neither-Nor."

There was Joseph Galloway, once more elected to represent Pennsylvania, ready to do what he could to keep Congress from hasty action, hoping for the best yet rather expecting the worst, discreetly retiring, at an early date, within the ranks of the British loyalists. John Alsop, the "soft, sweet" man, was also there, active enough in his mild way until the very last--until the Declaration of Independence, as he said, "closed the last door to reconciliation." There, too, was James Duane, with never so great need of his "surveying eye" to enable him to size up the situation. He is more discreet than any one, and sits quietly in his seat, on those days when he finds it convenient to attend, which is not too often--especially after November, at which time he moved his effects to Duanesborough, and so very soon disappears from sight, except perhaps vicariously in the person of his servant, James Brattle, whom we see flitting obscurely from Philadelphia to New York conveying secret information to Governor Tryon. John Jay, the hard-reading young lawyer, who favored Mr. Galloway's plan but in the end signed the Association--here he is again, edging his way carefully along, watching his step, crossing no bridges beforehand, well over indeed before he seems aware of any gulf to be crossed. And here is the famous Pennsylvania Farmer, leader of all moderate men, John Dickinson; only too well aware of the gulf opening up before him, fervently praying that it may close again of its own accord. Mr. Dickinson has no mind for anything but conciliation, to obtain which he will go the length of donning a Colonel's uniform, or at least a Colonel's title, perfecting himself and his neighbors in the manual of arms against the day when the King would graciously listen to the loyal and humble petition of the Congress.

Mr. Dickinson, staking all on the petition, was distressed at the rash talk that went on out of doors; and in this respect, no one distressed him more than his old friend, John Adams, who thought and said that a petition was a waste of time and who was all for the most vigorous measures (such, doubtless, as Demosthenes might have counseled),--the seizure of all crown officers, the formation of state governments, the raising of an army, and negotiations for obtaining the assistance of France. When Mr. Dickinson, having marshaled his followers from the middle colonies and South Carolina, got his petition before the Congress, John Adams, as a matter of course, made "an opposition to it in as long a speech as I commonly made... in answer to all the arguments that had been urged." And Adams relates in his "Diary" how, being shortly called out of Congress Hall, he was followed by Mr. Dickinson, who broke out upon him in great anger. "What is the reason, Mr. Adams, that you New-England men oppose our measures of reconciliation? There now is Sullivan, in a long harangue, following you in a determined opposition to our petition to the King. Look ye! If you don't concur with us in our pacific system, I and a number of us will break off from you in New England, and we will carry on the opposition by ourselves in our own way." At that moment it chanced that John Adams was "in a very happy temper" (which was not always the case), and so, he says, was able to reply very coolly. "Mr. Dickinson, there are many things that I can very cheerfully sacrifice to harmony, and even to unanimity; but I am not to be threatened into an express adoption or approbation of measures which my judgment reprobates. Congress must judge, and if they pronounce against me, I must submit, as, if they determine against you, you ought to acquiesce."

The Congress did decide. It decided to adopt Mr. Dickinson's petition; and to this measure John Adams submitted. But the Congress also decided to raise a Continental army to assist Massachusetts in driving the British forces out of Boston, of which army it appointed, as Commander-in-Chief, George Washington, Esq.; and in justification of these measures it published a "Declaration of the Causes and Necessity of Taking up Arms":

"Our cause is just. Our union is perfect. Our internal resources are great, and, if necessary, foreign assistance is undoubtedly attainable.... Fortified with these animating reflections, we... declare that... the arms we have been compelled by our enemies to as same, we will... employ for the preservation of our liberties, being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather than live as slaves.... We have not raised armies with ambitious designs of separating from Great Britain.... We shall lay them down when hostilities shall cease on the part of the aggressors.... With an humble confidence in the mercies of the supreme and impartial Judge and Ruler of the Universe, we... implore his divine goodness to protect us happily through this great conflict, to dispose our adversaries to reconciliation on reasonable terms, and thereby to relieve the empire from the calamities of civil war."

In these measures Mr. Dickinson acquiesced, as John Adams had submitted to the petition. The "perfect" union which was thus attained was nevertheless a union of wills rather than of opinions; and on July 24, 1775, in a letter to James Warren, John Adams gave a frank account of the state of mind to which the perfect union had reduced him:

"In confidence, I am determined to write freely to you this time. A certain great Fortune and piddling Genius, whose Fame has been trumpeted so loudly, has given a silly Cast to our whole Doings. We are between Hawk and Buzzard. We ought to have had in our Hands a month ago the whole Legislative, executive, and judicial of the whole Continent, and have completely modeled a Constitution; to have raised a naval Power, and opened our Ports wide; to have arrested every Friend of Government on the Continent and held them as Hostages for the poor Victims of Boston, and then opened the Door as wide as possible for Peace and Reconciliation. After that they might have petitioned, and negotiated, and addressed, etc., if they would. Is all this extravagant? Is it wild? Is it not the soundest Policy?"

It seems that Mr. Adams would have presented the sword boldly, keeping the olive branch carefully concealed behind his back. His letter, intercepted by the British Government, and printed about the time when Mr. Dickinson's petition was received in London, did nothing to make the union in America more perfect, or to facilitate the opening of that refractory "Door... for Peace and Reconciliation."

The truth is that John Adams no longer believed in the possibility of opening this door, even by the tiniest crack; and even those who still had faith in the petition as a means to that end found it somewhat difficult to keep their faith alive during the weary month of October while they waited for the King's reply. Mr. Chase, although he had "not absolutely discarded every glimpse of a hope of reconciliation," admitted that "the prospect was gloomy." Mr. Zubly assured Congress that he "did hope for a reconciliation and that this winter may bring it"; and he added, as if justifying himself against sceptical shrugs of shoulders, "I may enjoy my hopes for reconciliation; others may enjoy theirs that none will take place." It might almost seem that the idea of reconciliation, in this October of 1775, was a vanishing image to be enjoyed retrospectively rather than anything substantial to build upon for the future. This it was, perhaps, that gave especial point to Mr. Zubly's oft-repeated assertion that Congress must speedily obtain one of two things--"a reconciliation with Great Britain, or the means of carrying on the war."

Reconciliation OR war! This was surely a new antithesis. Had not arms been taken up for the purpose precisely of disposing their adversaries "to reconciliation on reasonable terms"? Does Mr. Zubly mean to say then that war is an alternative to reconciliation--an alternative which will lead the colonies away from compromise towards that which all have professed not to desire? Is Mr. Zubly hinting at independence even before the King has replied to the petition? No. This is not what Mr. Zubly meant. What he had in the back of his mind, and what the Congress was coming to have in the back of its mind, if one may judge from the abbreviated notes which John Adams took of the debates in the fall of 1775, was that if the colonies could not obtain reconciliation by means of the non-intercourse measures very soon--this very winter as Mr. Zubly hoped--they would have to rely for reconciliation upon a vigorous prosecution of the war; in which case the non-intercourse measures were likely to prove an obstacle rather than an advantage, since they would make it difficult, if not impossible, to obtain the "means of carrying on the war."

The non-intercourse measures had been designed to obtain conciliation by forcing Great Britain to make concessions; but if Great Britain would make no concessions, then the non-intercourse measures, by destroying the trade and prosperity of the colonies, would have no other effect than to bring about conciliation by forcing the colonies to make concessions themselves. This was not the kind of conciliation that any one wanted; and so the real antithesis which now confronted Congress was between war and non-intercourse. Mr. Livingston put the situation clearly when he said: "We are between hawk and buzzard; we puzzle ourselves between the commercial and warlike opposition."

Through long debates Congress puzzled itself over the difficult task of maintaining the Association and of obtaining the means for carrying on the war. Doubtless a simple way out would be for Congress to allow so much exportation only as might be necessary to pay for arms and ammunition; and still not so simple either, since it would at once excite many jealousies. "To get powder," Mr. Jay observed, "we keep a secret law that produce may be exported. Then come the wrangles among the people. A vessel is seen loading--a fellow runs to the committee." Well, it could not be helped; let the fellow run to the committee, and let the committee reassure him--that was the business of the committee; and so the Congress authorized the several colonies to export as much "produce, except horned cattle, sheep, hogs, and poultry, as they may deem necessary for the importation of arms, ammunition, sulphur, and saltpetre." Thus powder might be obtained.

Nevertheless, war could not live by powder alone. The imponderable moral factors had to be considered, chief of which was the popular support or opposition which Congress and the army might count upon under certain circumstances. No doubt people were patriotic and wished to maintain their rights; but no doubt people would be more patriotic and more enthusiastic and practically active in their support of both Congress and the army, if they were reasonably prosperous and contented than if they were not. Self-denying ordinances were, by their very nature, of temporary and limited efficacy; and it was pertinent to inquire how long the people would be content with the total stoppage of trade and the decay of business which was becoming every day more marked. "We can live on acorns; but will we?" It would perhaps be prudent not to expect "more virtue... from our people than any people ever had"; it would be prudent "not to put virtue to too severe a test,... lest we wear it out." And it might well be asked what would wear it out and "disunite us more than the decay of all business? The people will feel, and will say, that Congress tax them and oppress them more than Parliament." If the people were to be asked to fight for their rights, they must at all hazards not be allowed to say that Congress oppressed them more than Parliament!

For the moment all this was no more than a confession that the Association, originally designed as a finely chiseled stepping-stone to reconciliation, was likely to prove a stumbling-block unless the King graciously extended his royal hand to give a hearty lift. It presently appeared that the King refused to extend his hand. October 31, 1775, information reached America that Richard Penn and Arthur Lee, having presented the petition to Lord Dartmouth, were informed that the King would not receive them, and furthermore that no answer would be returned to the Congress. Ignoring the petition was to exhibit only one degree more of contempt for that carefully prepared document than the Congress had shown for Lord North's Resolution on Conciliation; and now that the olive branch had been spurned on both sides, it was a little difficult to see how either side could possibly refuse the sword.

That the colonies would refuse the sword was not very likely; but, as if to make a refusal impossible, the British Government, on December 22, 1775, decided to thrust the sword into their hands. This at all events was thought by many men to be the effect of the Prohibitory Act, which declared the colonies outside the protection of the Crown, and which, for the purpose of reducing them to submission, laid an embargo upon all their trade and proclaimed their ports in a state of blockade.

"I know not [John Adams wrote] whether you have seen the Act of Parliament called the Restraining Act or Prohibitory Act, or Piratical Act, or Act of Independency--for by all these titles is it called. I think the most apposite is the Act of Independency; the King, Lords, and Commons have united in sundering this country from that, I think, forever. It is a complete dismemberment of the British Empire. It throws thirteen colonies out of the royal protection, and makes us independent in spite of supplications and entreaties. It may be fortunate that the act of Independency should come from the British Parliament rather than from the American Congress; but it is very odd that Americans should hesitate at accepting such a gift from them."

The majority of those who refused to accept it--and the number was large--retired, with saddened hearts for the most part, into the ranks of the British Loyalists; only a few, with John Dickinson at their head, could still visualize the vanishing image of reconciliation. Whether the Prohibitory Act made reconciliation impossible or not, one thing at all events it made clear: if Britain was bent on forcing the colonies to submit by ruining their trade, it could scarcely be good policy for the colonies to help her do it; of which the reasonable conclusion seemed to be that, since the Parliament wished to close the ports of America to the world, Congress would do well to open them to the world. On February 16, 1776, Congress accordingly took into "consideration the propriety of opening the ports." To declare the ports open to the world was no doubt easily done; but the main thing after all was to carry on trade with the world; and this was not so easy since British naval vessels were there to prevent it. "We can't carry on a beneficial trade, as our enemies will take our ships"; so Mr. Sherman said, and of this he thought the obvious inference was that "a treaty with a foreign power is necessary, before we open our trade, to protect it.

"A treaty with a foreign power"--Mr. Wythe also mentioned this as a possible way of reviving the trade of the colonies; but a treaty with a foreign power was easier conceived of than made, and Mr. Wythe thought "other things are to be considered before we adopt such a measure." In considering these "other things," Mr. Wythe asked and answered the fundamental question: "In what character shall we treat?--as subjects of Great Britain--as rebels?... If we should offer our trade to the court of France, would they take notice of it any more than if Bristol or Liverpool should offer theirs, while we profess to be subjects? No. We must declare ourselves a free people." Thus it appeared that the character of British subjects, no less than the Association, was a stumblingblock in the way of obtaining "the means of carrying on the war." The sword, as an instrument for maintaining rights, could after all not be effectively wielded by America so long as her hand was shackled by even the half-broken ties of a professed allegiance to Britain. Therefore, when the Congress, on the 6th of April, opened the ports of the colonies to the world, the Declaration of Independence was a foregone conclusion.

The idea of independence, for many months past, had hovered like a disembodied hope or menace about the entrance ways of controversy. A few clear-sighted men, such as John Adams and Samuel Seabury, had so long contemplated the idea without blinking that it had taken on familiar form and substance. But the great majority had steadily refused to consider it, except as a possible alternative not needing for the present to be embraced. All these moderate, middle-of-the-way men had now to bring this idea into the focus of attention, for the great illusion that Britain would not push matters to extremities was rapidly dissolving, and the time was come when it was no longer possible for any man to be a British-American and when every man must decide whether it was better to be an American even at the price of rebellion or a Briton even at the price of submission. It is true that many never made up their minds on this point, being quite content to swear allegiance to whichever cause, according to time or place, happened to be in the ascendant. But of all those thinking men whose minds could be made up to stay, perhaps a third--this is the estimate of John Adams--joined the ranks of the British Loyalists; while the rest, with more or less reluctance, gave their support, little or great, to the cause of independence.

When one has made, with whatever reluctance, an irrevocable decision, it is doubtless well to become adjusted to it as rapidly as possible; and this he can best do by thinking of the decision as a wise one--the only one, in fact, which a sensible person could have made. Thus it was that the idea of independence, embraced by most men with reluctance as a last resort and a necessary evil, rapidly lost, in proportion as it seemed necessary, its character of evil, took on the character of the highest wisdom, and so came to be regarded as a predestined event which all honest patriots must rejoice in having had a hand in bringing about.

This change in the point of view would doubtless have been made in any case; but in rapidly investing the idea of independence with the shining virtues of an absolute good to be embraced joyously, a great influence must be ascribed to the little pamphlet entitled "Common Sense", written by a man then known to good patriots as Thomas Paine, and printed in January, 1776. Intrinsically considered, "Common Sense" was indeed no great performance. The matter, thin at best, was neither profoundly nor subtly reasoned; the manner could hardly be described by even the most complacent critic as humane or engaging. Yet "Common Sense" had its brief hour of fame. Its good fortune was to come at the psychological moment; and being everywhere read during the months from January to July, 1776, it was precisely suited to convince men, not so much that they ought to declare independence, as that they ought to declare it gladly, ought to cast off lightly their former false and mawkish affection for the "mother country" and once for all to make an end of backward yearning looks over the shoulder at this burning Sodom.

To a militant patriot like Thomas Paine it was profoundly humiliating to recall that for ten years past Americans had professed themselves "humble and loyal subjects" and "dutiful children," yielding to none in "admiration" for the "excellent British Constitution," desiring only to live and die as free citizens under the protecting wing of the mother country. Recalling all this sickening sentimentalism, Mr. Paine uttered a loud and ringing BOSH! Let us clear our minds of cant, he said in effect, and ask ourselves what is the nature of government in general and of the famous British Constitution in particular. Like the Abbe Sieyes, Mr. Paine had completely mastered the science of government, which was in fact extremely simple. Men form societies, he said, to satisfy their wants, and then find that governments have to be established to restrain their wickedness; and therefore, since government is obviously a necessary evil, that government is best which is simplest.

Just consider then this "excellent British Constitution," and say whether it is simple. On the contrary, it is the most complicated, irrational, and ridiculous contrivance ever devised as a government of enlightened men. Its admirers say that this complexity is a virtue, on account of the nice balance of powers between King, Lords, and Commons, which guarantees a kind of liberty through the resulting inertia of the whole. The Lords check the Commons and the Commons check the King. But how comes it that the King needs to be checked? Can he not be trusted? This is really the secret of the whole business--that Monarchy naturally tends to despotism; so that the complication of the British Constitution is a virtue only because its basic principle is false and vicious. If Americans still accept the doctrine of the Divine Right of Kings, well and good; if not, then in Heaven's name let them cease to bow down in abject admiration of the British Constitution!

And in ceasing to admire the British Constitution, Americans should also, Thomas Paine thought, give up that other fatal error, the superstition that up to the present unhappy moment the colonies had derived great benefits from living under the protecting wing of the mother country. Protection! "We have boasted the protection of Great Britain, without considering that her motive was interest not attachment; and that she did not protect us from our enemies ON OUR OWN ACCOUNT, but from her enemies ON HER OWN ACCOUNT, from those who have no quarrel with us on any other account, and who will always be our enemies ON THE SAME ACCOUNT." An odd sort of protection that, which served only to entangle the colonies in the toils of European intrigues and rivalries, and to make enemies of those who would otherwise befriends! "Our duty to mankind at large, as well as to ourselves, instructs us to renounce the alliance: because, any submission to, or dependence upon, Great Britain, tends directly to involve this continent in European wars and quarrels, and set us at variance with nations who would otherwise seek our friendship and against whom we have neither anger nor complaint."

What foolishness then to seek reconciliation, even if it were possible! Reconciliation at this stage would be the ruin of America. If King George were indeed clever, he would eagerly repeal all the obnoxious acts and make every concession; for when the colonies had once become reconciled he could accomplish by "craft and subtlety, in the long run, what he cannot do by force and violence in the short one." The colonies, having come to maturity, cannot always remain subject to tutelage; like the youth who has reached his majority, they must sooner or later go their own way. Why not now? Beware of reconciliation and of all those who advocate it, for they are either "interested men, who are not to be trusted, weak men who cannot see, prejudiced men who will not see, or a certain set of moderate men who think better of the European world than it deserves."

Such arguments were indeed precisely suited to convince men that independence, so far from being an event in which they had become entangled by the fatal network of circumstance, was an event which they freely willed. "Read by almost every American, and recommended as a work replete with truth, against which none but the partial and prejudiced can form any objection,... it satisfied multitudes that it is their true interest immediately to cut the Gordian knot by which the... colonists have been bound to Great Britain, and to open their commerce, as an independent people, to all the nations of the world." In April and May, after the Congress had opened the ports, the tide set strongly and irresistibly in the direction of the formal declaration. "Every post and every day rolls in upon us," John Adams said, "Independence like a torrent." It was on the 7th of June that Richard Henry Lee, in behalf of the Virginia delegation and in obedience to the instructions from the Virginia Convention, moved "that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent State...; that it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances;... and that a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation."

The "resolution respecting independency," debated at length, was postponed till the 1st of July, when it was again brought up for consideration. It was still, on that day, opposed by many, chiefly by John Dickinson, who now said that he should not be against independence ultimately, but that he could not consent to it at the present moment because it would serve to divide rather than to unite the colonies. At the close of the debate on the 1st of July, there seemed little prospect of carrying the resolution by a unanimous vote. The Delaware deputies were evenly divided, the third member, Caesar Rodney, not being at the moment in Philadelphia; the Pennsylvania deputies were opposed to the resolution, three against two; while the New York and South Carolina deputies were not in a position to vote at all, having, as they said, no instructions. The final vote was therefore again postponed until the following day.

Which of the deputies slept this night is not known. But it is known that Caesar Rodney, hastily summoned, mounted his horse and rode post-haste to Philadelphia, arriving in time to cast the vote of Delaware in favor of independence; it is known that John Dickinson and Robert Morris remained away from Independence Hall, and that James Wilson changed his mind and voted with Franklin and Morton; and it is known that the South Carolina deputies came somehow to the conclusion, over night, that their instructions were after all sufficient. Thus it was that on July 2, 1776, twelve colonies voted that "these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, Free and Independent States." One week later, the New York deputies, having been properly instructed, cast the vote of their colony for the resolution also.

Meanwhile, a committee had been appointed to prepare a formal declaration, setting forth the circumstances and the motives which might justify them, in the judgment of mankind, in taking this momentous step. The committee had many meetings to discuss the matter, and, when the main points had been agreed upon, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were instructed to "draw them up in form, and clothe them in a proper dress." Many years afterwards, in 1822, John Adams related, as accurately as he could, the conversation which took place when these two met to perform the task assigned them. "Jefferson proposed to me to make the draught. I said, 'I will not.' 'You should do it.' 'Oh! no.' 'Why will you not? You ought to do it.' 'I will not.' 'Why?' 'Reasons enough.' 'What can be your reasons?' 'Reason first--You are a Virginian, and a Virginian ought to appear at the head of this business. Reason second--I am obnoxious, suspected, and unpopular. You are very much otherwise. Reason third--You can write ten times better than I can.' 'Well,' said Jefferson, 'if you are decided, I will do as well as I can.'" In some such manner as this it came about that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence, no doubt doing, as he said, the best he could.

It is the judgment of posterity that Mr. Jefferson did very well--which was doubtless due partly to the fact that he could write, if not ten times better, at least better than John Adams. Yet the happy phrasing of a brief paragraph or two could scarcely By itself have won so much fame for the author; and perhaps much Of the success of this famous paper came from the circumstance That ten years of controversy over the question of political rights had forced Americans to abandon, step by step, the restricted ground of the positive and prescriptive rights of Englishmen and to take their stand on the broader ground of the natural and inherent rights of man. To have said, "We hold this truth to be self-evident: that all Englishmen are endowed by the British Constitution with the customary right of taxing themselves internally" would probably have made no great impression on the sophisticated European mind. It was Thomas Jefferson's good fortune, in voicing the prevailing sentiment in America, to give classic expression to those fundamental principles of a political faith which was destined, in the course of a hundred years, to win the allegiance of the greater part of the western world.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these, are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the consent of the governed. That, whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such Principles and organizing its Powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."

It is to these principles--for a generation somewhat obscured, it must be confessed, by the Shining Sword and the Almighty Dollar, by the lengthening shadow of Imperialism and the soporific haze of Historic Rights and the Survival of the Fittest--it is to these principles, these "glittering generalities," that the minds of men are turning again in this day of desolation as a refuge from the cult of efficiency and from faith in "that which is just by the judgment of experience."