History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 5

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII.
TEENTON.
DECEMBEE 11–26, 1776.

THE British posts on the eastern side of the Delaware drew near to Philadelphia; rumor reported ships-of-war in the bay; the wives and children of the inhabitants were escaping with their papers and property; and the contagion of panic broke out in congress. On the eleventh of December they called on the states to appoint, each for itself, a day of fasting and humiliation; on the twelfth, after advice from Putnam and Mifflin, they voted to adjourn to Baltimore. It is on record that Samuel Adams, whom Jefferson has described as “exceeded by no man in congress for depth of purpose, zeal, and sagacity,” mastered by enthusiasm and excitement which grew with adversity, vehemently opposed a removal. His speech has not been preserved, but its purport may be read in his letters of the time: “A cause so just and interesting to mankind, I trust that my dear New England will maintain at the expense of everything dear to them in life. If this city should be surrendered, I should by no means despair. Britain will strain every nerve to subjugate America next year. Our affairs abroad wear a promising aspect, but I conjure you not to depend too much upon foreign aid. Let America exert her own strength, and He who cannot be indifferent to her righteous cause will even work miracles, if necessary, to establish her feet upon a rock.”

Putnam promised in no event to burn the city which he was charged to defend to the last extremity, and would not allow any one to remain an idle spectator of the contest, “per

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