(A line by line historical analysis of the accusations of the Declaration of Independence.)
XXIV. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
In 1764, when the provisions of the Navigation Act were strictly enforced, and the commanders of vessels were invested with the power of custom-house officers to enforce the revenue laws under that act, a great many American vessels were seized, by which much distress was produced. Although this was done under the sanction of written law, yet it was nothing more, in the mode of enforcing the law, than " plundering our seas."
In April, 1775, the "lives of our people" were destroyed at Lexington and Concord, by an expedition sent out by Governor Gage, of Massachusetts. In June of that year, he "burnt our towns," and destroyed the lives of our people,"by his troops setting fire to Charlestown, and attacking and slaying our people upon Breed's, and Bunker Hill; and shortly afterward, the unprotected town of Bristol, in Rhode Island, was cannonaded, because the people refused to comply with an order from the commander of the vessels that appeared before it, to supply him with three hundred sheep.
In the autumn of 1775, several royal cruisers ravaging the coasts of New England. Captain Wallace, with the man-of-war, Rose, and two others, pursued a vessel which took shelter in the port of Stonington, Connecticut. He entered the harbor, and opened a fire upon the town, which he kept up nearly a whole day. He killed two men, and carried off some vessels. This was the same Captain (Sir James) Wallace who afterward commanded the flying squadron of small vessels that made a predatory expedition up the Hudson river, and, in connection with Colonel Vaughan of the land force, burnt Esopus, or Kingston, in Ulster county.
On the eighteenth of October, Captain Mowatt, with a few armed vessels, burnt the town of Falmouth, upon the north-eastern coast of Massachusetts ; and he asserted that he had orders to destroy, by fire, all the sea-port towns from Boston to Halifax.
In December, 1775, Governor Dunmore, of Virginia, having been obliged to take refuge on board the Fowey, a British armed vessel at Norfolk, tried every means in his power to bring the people to subjection under him. Finally, the frigate Liverpool arrived, and the Governor felt quite strong in his resources, believing, that with the two vessels and the armed force of tories and blacks which he had collected on board, he should be able to regain his lost power. He sent a peremptory order to the inhabitants of Norfolk to supply the vessels with provisions. The order was of course disobeyed; and on the first of January, 1776, the two vessels opened a destructive cannonading upon the town. At the same time, some marines were landed, who set fire to the town, and reduced it to ashes.
In June, 1776, while the proposition of independence was before Congress, a naval armament under Admiral Sir Peter Parker, and a land force under Sir Henry Clinton, made a combined attack upon Charleston, South Carolina, and many Americans were killed. And after the Declaration of Independence went forth, the King's minions continued to "plunder our seas, ravage our coasts, and destroy the lives of our people."
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