(A line by line historical analysis of the accusations of the Declaration of Independence.)
XXVII. He has excited domestic insurrections among us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
Lord Dunmore, one of the most unpopular governors Virginia ever had, became involved in difficulties with the people, soon after his accession. Like too many of the native-born Englishmen at that time, he regarded the colonists as inferior people, and instead of using conciliatory measures, which might have made his situation agreeable to himself, he maintained a haughty carriage and aristocratic reserve. These private matters would have been tolerated, had not his public acts partaken of the same spirit. He seemed to be exceedingly deficient in judgment, and by various acts of annoyance he greatly exasperated the people. At length they arose in arms in consequence of his removing the powder of the colonial magazine on board of a ship of war, and he was obliged to fly thither himself, with his family, for fear of personal injury. This was early in May, 1775, and during the summer and autumn he attempted to regain his lost power. All moderate attempts having failed, he resolved on a bolder and more cruel measure. He issued his proclamation, and authoritatively summoned to his standard all capable of bearing arms; and in that proclamation as well as through private emissaries, he offered freedom to the slaves if they would take up arms against their masters. Thus, he "excited domestic insurrection."
In the spring of 1775, this same Governor Dunmore was an accomplice in, and an active promoter of, a scheme to "bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian savages." The plan adopted was to organize an active co-operation of all the various Indian tribes on the frontier, with the Tories. John Connelly, a Pennsylvanian, has the honor of originating the plot; and he found in Governor Dunmore a zealous coadjutor and liberal patron in the enterprise. Fort Pitt (now Pittsburgh) was to be the place of rendezvous, and ample rewards were offered to the chiefs of the Indians, as well as to the militia captains, who should join their standard.
In order to connect the plan, give it wider scope, secure more efficiency, and have higher sanction, a messenger was sent to Governor Gage, at Boston, then commander-in-chief of all the British forces in America. Gage entered heartily into the atrocious scheme, and gave Connelly a commission as Lieutenant-Colonel. He also sent an emissary named John Stuart, to the nation of the Cherokees on the borders of the Carolinas. General Carleton, governor of Canada, sent Colonel Johnson to the Indians of St. Francis, and others, belonging to the Six Nations, and in every case heavy bribes were offered. Too well did these emissaries succeed, for during the summer hundreds of innocent old men, women, and young children, were butchered in cold blood upon the frontiers of Virginia and the Carolinas.
This charge was true, not only at the time it was made in the Declaration of Independence, but on several subsequent occasions it might with verity have been made. When Burgoyne prepared to invade the States from Canada, he, by express orders of ministers, put under arms, and secured for the British service several tribes of Indians inhabiting the country between the Mohawk river and Lake Ontario. And just before going to attack Ticonderoga, he gave a great war feast to the Indians, and issued a proclamation calling upon the Americans to surrender or suffer the consequences of savage ferocity.
The American Congress, in its Declaration of Independence, after asserting that "The History of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries arid usurpations, all having, in direct object, the establishment of absolute tyranny over these states," and submitting the foregoing charges as proofs of the truth of their declaration, they asserted:--
First: That in every stage of these oppressions, we have petitioned for redress in the most humble terms. Our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury.
For ten long years, "in every stage of these oppressions," did the colonists "petition for redress in the most humble terms." It was done by the Colonial Congress which assembled in 1765, in consequence of the passage of the Stamp Act. They put forth a Declaration of Rights, the thirteenth section of which asserted, "That it is the right of the British subject in these colonies to petition the King, or either House of Parliament." This right was denied by the colonial governors, claiming it exclusively for the assemblies in their legislative capacity. But acting upon their declared right, that Congress sent a most humble petition to the King, setting forth the grievances which the acts for taxing the colonies imposed upon the people, and beseeching him to lay the subject before the Parliament and obtain redress for them. But this petition was unheeded, as well as those of the popular provincial conventions, and " repeated injuries " were inflicted, in the form of new and oppressive acts for taxing the colonists without their consent.
The first Continental Congress, that convened in September, 1774, humbly petitioned the King, and set forth the various measures of his government which bore heavily upon their prosperity and curtailed their rights as British subjects. The General Congress that met in May, the next year, also sent another humble petition to the King, but both were "answered only by repeated injuries." Instead of listening to their loyal importunities for redress, he deprived them in many cases of " trial by jury ;" he prepared to "transport them beyond seas, to be tried for pretended offences ;" he "abolished the free system of English laws in a neighboring province;" he took away their charters, abolished their "most valuable laws," and "altered, fundamentally, the forms" of their government ; he "plundered their seas, ravaged their coasts, burnt their towns, and destroyed the lives of their people;" and he transported "large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun, with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation."
Secondly: We have not been wanting in attention to our British brethren.
This assertion the journals of the Continental Congress, and the proceedings of the British Parliament, fully corroborate. The first address put forth by the Continental Congress, in 1774, was to the people of Great Britain, in which the most affectionate terms of brotherhood, expressive of the strongest feelings which the ties of con sanguinity could produce, were used. They concluded their address by expressing a hope "that the magnanimity and justice of the British nation will furnish a parliament of such wisdom, independence, and public spirit, as may save the violated rights of the whole empire from the devices of wicked ministers and evil counsellors, whether in or out of office ; and thereby restore that harmony, friendship, and fraternal affection, between all the inhabitants of his majesty's kingdoms and territories, so ardently wished for by every true and honest American."
The second Continental Congress, in 1775, sent an affectionate address to the people of Ireland, in which they thanked them for the friendly disposition which they had always shown toward Americans; expressed a strong sympathy for them, on account of the grievances which the inhabitants of that fertile island suffered at the hands of the same arbitrary rulers, and closed with a "hope that the patient abiding of the meek may not always be forgotten;" and that God would "grant that the iniquitous schemes for extirpating liberty from the British empire might be soon defeated."
But, not only were British rulers unmindful of their petitions and of their remonstrances; their "British brethren" also were deaf to the "voice of justice and consanguinity;" and the colonists were obliged to acquiesce in the necessity which denounced their separation ; and they held them, as they held the rest of mankind, " ENEMIES IN WAR--IN PEACE, FRIENDS."
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