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The Life of Gouverneur Morris

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sons thus disarmed were, moreover, exempt from militia duty. The reception, which this order met with among the people, may be imagined by an extract from a letter to the Committee, dated Jamaica, Long Island, September 25th.

I have endeavored in the towns of Jamaica and Hampstead to carry the resolutions of the Congress into execution, but without the assistance of the battalion, I shall not be able to do it to any good purpose. The people conceal all their arms, that are of any value. Many declare that they know nothing about the Congress, nor do they care anything for the orders of the Congress, and say that they would sooner lose their lives than give up their arms, and that they would blow any man's brains out, who should attempt to take them away. We find that there is a number of arms, that belong to the county, in the hands of the people. Some persons are so hardy and daring, as to go into tile houses of those that are friendly, and take away by force those county arms, which our friends have received from the clerk of the county. We are told, that the people have been collecting together in sundry places armed, and firing their muskets by way of bravado.

The Committee reasoned but imperfectly from the facts of history, and the principles of human nature, when they supposed that people, with arms in their hands, would be tempted to resign there, by such motives as were held out. They must either be treated as friends or enemies. If friends, their safety and interest required that the soldiers, who were to protect their property, and defend their rights, should be armed, and the call of patriotism would be the loudest that could be made to them. While deaf to this call, they would made to listen to the orders of a committee, or the resolves of a congress. If enemies, the sense of present danger, operating on the first law of nature, would prompt them to keep within their power their only sure means of defence. In either case, the idea of taking away their arms, by a compulsory impressment, had little to recommend it, either in policy or prudence. Indeed, the project was soon abandoned, for when the Congress


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From The Life of Gouverneur Morris: With Selections from His Correspondence and Miscellaneous Papers; Detailing Events in the American Revolution, The French Revolution, and in the Political History of the United States, by Jared Sparks, Volume 1, Boston: Gray & Bowen, 1832, p 63. Some minor edits may have been made, but an attempt has been made to preserve the original spelling. Although some effort has been made to correct the limitations of OCR technology, if you find an error please report it to jvinci@colonialhall.com.

 
 


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Last modified August 20, 2006