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The Life of Gouverneur Morris

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delegates in the general Congress. It is curious to observe the rapid change in the tone of public feeling on this head in New York within a few weeks. The example of the other colonies, and the threatening and determined attitude of the British fleet and army, may be considered the primary causes. The moderate men, whether such from timidity or caution, were now convinced, that the enemy was in earnest, and that they must either go with their country or against it. No neutral ground remained. In this extremity they could not hesitate, though they would willingly have lingered on the outskirts of uncertainty, while they could see any door of hope open before them. By the union of this class with the resolute and zealous friends of the cause, a sudden and preponderating influence was gained, not only over their own actions, but over the minds of the people. When the subjects of a new plan of government and independence were referred to the voters, they were not requested simply to give instructions on these points to the members of the Congress then existing, but to elect other members and leave out old ones, if they should see fit, so that in fact the delegates to this last Congress were actually chosen anew. The consequence was, that the election turned upon the pivot of government and independence, and the voice of the electors may be understood by the unanimous vote of the Congress, in adopting the Declaration. A fortnight before, it would doubtless have met with many cold friends, and a few decided foes.

The next step was to publish the Declaration, and the notice of its recognition, throughout the state. This was ordered to be done in the several counties by beat of drum, and by such other modes of publicity, as the county committees might devise. Five hundred copies were printed and circulated in handbills. The House resolved and ordered, on the same day, that its own title should be changed, from that of the Provincial Congress of the Colony of New York, which it had hitherto borne, to that of the Convention of the Representatives of the State of New York.


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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 112. 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