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

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXV.
HOW SOUTH CAROLINA ADVANCED TO INDEPENDENCE.
FEBRUARY–JULY 1776.

THE American congress needed an impulse from the resolute spirit of some government springing wholly from the people. On the eighth of February 1776, the convention of South Carolina, by Drayton their president, presented their thanks to John Rutledge and Henry Middleton for their services in the American congress, which had made its appeal to the King of kings, established a navy, treasury, and general post-office, exercised control over commerce, and granted to colonies permission to create civil institutions, independent of the regal authority. The next day arrived Gadsden, the highest officer in the army of the province, and he in like manner received the welcome of public gratitude. In return, he presented the standard which was to be used by the American navy, representing in a yellow field a rattlesnake of thirteen full-grown rattles coiled to strike, with the motto: DON’T TREAD ON ME. When, on the tenth, the report on reforming the provincial government was considered and many hesitated, Gadsden spoke out for the absolute independence of America. The majority had thus far refused to contemplate the end toward which they were irresistibly impelled. One member avowed his willingness to ride post by day and night to Philadelphia, in order to assist in reuniting Great Britain and her colonies; the elder Laurens “bore his testimony against the principles of ‘Common Sense;’” but the criminal laws could not be enforced for want of officers; public and private affairs were running into confusion; the imminent danger of invasion

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