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

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVIII
THE RESOLUTION AND THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
FROM THE FIRST TO THE FOURTH OF JULY 1776.

ON the morning of the first of July, the day set apart for considering the resolution of independence, John Adams, confident as if the vote had been taken, invoked the blessing of heaven to make the new-born republic more glorious than any which had gone before. His heart melted with sorrow at the sufferings of the army that had been in Canada;he knew that England, having recovered that province, commanded the upper lakes and the Mississippi;that she had a free communication with all the tribes of Indians along the western frontiers, and would induce them by bloodshed and fire to drive in the inhabitants upon the middle settlements, at a time when the coasts might be ravaged by the British navy and a single day might bring the army before New York. Independence could be obtained only by a great expense of life;but the greater the danger, the stronger was his determination, for he held that a free constitution of civil government could not be purchased at too dear a rate. He called to mind the fixed rule of the Romans, never to send or receive ambassadors to treat of peace with their enemies while their affairs were in a disastrous situation; and he was cheered by the belief that his countrymen were of the same temper and principle.

At the appointed hour, the members, probably on that day fifty in number, appeared in their places; among them, the delegates lately chosen in New Jersey. The great occasion had brought forth superior statesmen—men who joined moderation to energy. After they had all passed away, their lon

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