History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 3

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII.
THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION EMANATES FROM THE PEOPLE.
MAY–JULY 1775.

THE Massachusetts congress, by a swift ship, sent to England a calm and accurate statement of the events of the nineteenth of April, fortified by depositions, with a charge to Arthur Lee, their agent, to give it the widest circulation. These were their words to the inhabitants of Britain: “Brethren, we profess to be loyal and dutiful subjects, and, so hardly dealt with as we have been, are still ready, with our lives and fortunes, to defend the person, family, crown, and dignity of our royal sovereign. Nevertheless, to the persecution and tyranny of his cruel ministry we will not submit; appealing to heaven for the justice of our cause, we determine to die or be free.”

The news from Lexington and Concord surprised London in the last days of May. The people of England were saddened at the conflict, which they had been told never would come; and were irresolute between national pride and sympathy with the struggle for English liberties. “The effects of General Gage’s attempt at Concord are fatal,” said Dartmouth; “the happy moment of advantage is lost.” The condemnation of Gage was universal. Hutchinson, the chief misleader of the government, vainly strove to hide his dejection. He ceased to be consulted and sunk into insignificance.

The French legation in London took notice that the resistance of the nineteenth of April was made with a full knowledge of the king’s answer to the address of the two houses of parliament, pledging lives and fortunes for the reduction of America. “The Americans,” wrote Garnier to Vergennes,

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