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   Chapter 20 SUPPRESSING AMERICANS

The Wonderful Story of Washington By Charles M. Stevens Characters: 5477

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:04


General Thomas Gage was, in the approaching crisis, made military commander at Massachusetts, as the man most experienced and able to enforce the Parliamentary laws. He had led the advance guard at Braddock's defeat, had married an American girl and had lived long in the colonies. It would seem that he ought to have known well the character of the colonists. But, he had already advised the King that, "The Americans will be lions only as long as the English are lambs."

The idea still prevails that there is a lamb-coward always in the presence of a lion-hero. General Gage promised that he would enforce all laws if given five regiments.

As suggested by the Virginia Assembly, "a solemn league and covenant" was circulated throughout the provinces, in which the subscribers bound themselves to cease from all intercourse with Great Britain, from the month of August, until Massachusetts should regain its chartered rights. Furthermore, it was an iron-clad use of the boycott and lock-out. It pledged the signers that they would have no dealings with any one who refused to enter into that compact. This meant that home-principle had to have a method against home-profit. Capital was timidly cowering between what seemed to it as "the devil and the deep sea."

General Gage declared in a proclamation that the document was illegal and the signers traitors. He planted a force of infantry and artillery on the Boston Common and prepared himself to enforce the edict of the British Parliament and his own judgment. Thus, another high step was taken in the climb to war. The great drama was developing scene by scene that was to bring forth Washington as a warrior, president and statesman, the titular "Father of his Country."

As we proceed on our historic journey, needed to understand the making of Washington, and his meaning for Americans, we are now approaching his first appearance as a leader. This comes to pass after he decides that every resource and means have been used in vain for justice toward the colonies.

On July 18, 1773, a meeting of Fairfax County was held, with Washington as the presiding officer, to discuss their attitude toward the English government and its methods toward the colonies. This general meeting of protest was held immediately after Washington's return from the session of the House of Burgesses at Williamsburg.

As Chairman of the committee on resolutions, he had probably much, if not all, to do with the language used, and it is significant, that the resolutions ended with a phrase which contained the threat of independence through war. They called on the King to reflect that "from our Sovereign there can be but one appeal." This shows the idea that was in Washington's min

d for he had already decided, as shown by his letters, that the King could not be changed, and, therefore, that the only appeal was to be made to the higher authority of right through the might of war.

Washington was now entering heart and soul into the great controversy. He was chosen as a delegate from the county to the colony meeting at Williamsburg on the first of August, 1773.

The Virginia delegates assembled at the capital as planned. Washington presented the resolution adopted by his county and made a fervid address in its support. It is said he declared himself ready to raise a thousand men at his own expense, and march at their head to the relief of Boston. It is safe to say that if Washington and Patrick Henry could have lived through to 1861, there would have been no Civil War, or even if the Spirit of Washington and Henry could have lived in the hearts of the people.

The Virginia convention adopted resolutions based on the Fairfax resolution, and Washington with six others, destined to become famous in American history, were appointed delegates to the General Congress, that was to meet in Philadelphia.

The high-handed measures against Boston had ruined that town. The rich became poor and the poor were at the verge of starvation, but there was no outcry. The silent misery and calm determination were a puzzle to the General who could not subdue such opposition with cannon. The people went in crowds to hear their speakers placidly arguing the conditions. There was no excuse to order the people to disperse, so that Gage found it necessary to have a law passed that the people should not assemble to discuss government affairs. But the whole problem had now taken on a larger form. On September 5, 1774, delegates from all the colonies, excepting Georgia, met in Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia.

Patrick Henry and Edmund Pendleton came on to Mount Vernon, and from there the three giants of moral rights and human liberty rode on together to the meeting, affecting so deeply the eternal meaning of America.

When the question arose in the meeting concerning the voting of delegates, some colonies having more than others, Patrick Henry, with his fiery zeal, declared any idea of sectional distinctions or local interests to be absurd.

"All America," he cried, "is thrown into one mass. Where are your landmarks-your boundaries of colonies? They are all thrown down. The distinction between Virginians, Pennsylvanians, New Yorkers, and New Englanders, are no more. I am not a Virginian but an American."

What a great pity that eighty-six years later, the patriotism of Patrick Henry could not have been felt, and the one great horror of American history would then never have occurred.

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