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night, and the next morning crossing Charlestown ferry returned to Boston.
The affair at Lexington and Concord, being the first deliberate engagement between the mother country and her revolted colonies, will ever be considered as a very prominent epoch in the history of the world. On the part of America it argued well, as it manifested at once the wisdom of the designs they had concerted, the unanimity of the people, their firmness in resisting oppression, and the courage which they would display, when trained and practised in the evolutions of the field, and in the use of arms.
Above all, it stands as a memorable example of the prodigious feats which men can perform when animated by liberty, and fighting for freedom and independence. During the whole of this conflict, though protracted through the greater part of the day, the Americans never numbered more than four hundred men engaged at the same time ; so that the British were double their number before the junction of lord Pierce's reinforcement, from which time they were quadrupled in numbers by the regulars. The discipline they had was so little as to be of no use, for officers and privates alike fired when they were ready, and without the word of command, one now and one then, as they happened to have a royal uniform in their eye. On the other hand their knowledge of the country gave them a material advantage ; enabling them to cross fields and fences so as to keep concealed and flank by surprise the regulars who were obliged to march in a body along the main road. Of the king's troops sixty five were killed and one hundred and eighty were wounded. Of the Americans thirty eight were wounded or missing and fifty were killed.
A war, long bloody and obstinate, and the most important revolution that ever occurred in human affairs, sprung from the blood shed upon this day. The Americans derived new confidence and increase of courage from this their first essay. Each party seeing hostilities unavoidable, endeavoured to throw upon the other the blame of having commenced. The British officers declared, in the most solemn manner, that, before they attacked the militia of Lexington, they had been fired at from behind a stone wall. On the other hand deposi
tions were taken upon oath, from many Americans, all concurring in testimony, that not only at Lexington, but at Concord, they were first fired upon by the British troops. A respectable historian,* who, however objectionable in style, manner and argument, he may be thought by some, stands unimpeached on the score of candour and integrity, and whose judgment claims reliance and respect, not only from the acknowledged natural vigour of his mind, but from his profes: sional habit of discussing evidence and weighing the preponderance of opposite testimonies, says, on this occasion : "the statements made by the Americans are rendered probable, not only by the testimony which supported them, but by other circumstances. The company of militia at Lexington did not exceed in numbers one ninth of the enemy; and it can scarcely be conceived, that in the perilous situation in which they were placed, their friends would have provoked their fate, by commencing a fire on an enraged soldiery, it is also a circumstance of no inconsiderable weight, that the Americans had uniformly sought to cover their proceedings with the letter of the law, and even after the affair at Lexington, they had at the bridge beyond Concord, made a point of receiving the first fire. It is probable, that the orders given by general Gage prohibited the detachment under lientenant colonel Smith, from attacking the provincials, unless previously assaulted by them ; but it seems almost certain that such orders, if given were disobeyed.”
It is difficult to oppose any resistance to this reasoning upon positive facts, when nothing is stated on the other side, but the mere words of men especially interested in denying them. The origin of this violence then, rests with the king's troops and officers. It would be fortunate for the servants of the crown, if there were nothing more of the reprehensible kind to be added to the censure they deserved for their hastiness in this affair.-But the historian who takes truth for his guide will be compelled, however unwilling, to record a transaction tainted with perfidy on the part of the British commander in chief. General GAGE deemed it expedient to cut off as far as pos
* Marshall. VOL. II.
sible all communication between the inhabitants of Boston and the people of the country, and concerting with them a plan of co-operation in any assault which might be made upon him from without, or by those within, came to an agreement with a committee appointed by the inhabitants, to suffer all such ofthem as were so inclined, to leave the town with their families and effects, under condition of their depositing their arms in some select place, under the care of persons to be selected for the purpose. Conformably to this agreement, the inabitants had in a few days deposited an immense number of fire arms and bayonets. The good order and harmony in which both parties proceeded in this business for some days, was at length violated, and the completion of the agreement interrupted and prevented on the most sorry pretexts. The general began to suspect that he had committed an error in suffering the whigs to move out of Boston, and now endeavoured to repair by perfidy the mischiefs done by his folly. He soon found that by giving permission to the whigs to carry away their effects, he had opened a wide door for the supply of those without, with such things as they wanted. To remedy this evil of his own creation, he had recourse to an uncandid, miserable quibble, upon the meaning of the word effects, insisting that it did not include merchandize. The hardships arising to the people from this unwarrantable construction were very great. Families were separated, each from the other, husbands from their wives, parents from their children, and relatives who depended upon each other in a variety of ways, friends and partners in business, were as completely shut out from intercourse with each other, as if they were divided by
The women and children began to be considered as a sort of hostages for the peaceable conduct of their countrymen without; and general GAGE flattered himself that the Americans would refrain from assault, while the dearest objects of the affections of so many of them were within the town. Disliking to part with those pledges of security, he pretended, to give colour to the violation of his promise, that all the arms had not been given ; and sacrificing his honour to a mean, a detestable, and a mistaken policy, detained many contrary to good faith, or when he permitted some to depart, refused to let them move their families and effects.
HISTORY OF THE PASSING TIMES.
Non-importation-Bill (Continued from
Vol. 2.-N0. 5.- page 338.)
, dolph, against the resolution, one drawn from our disputes with Spain, appeared to him to carry no small weight. The impression, which it would make on Great-Britain, was likely to be deep and lasting. By the documents laid before Congress, and afterwards made public, she would see with astonishment, that our territory had been outraged, our commerce pirated, and our citizens imprisoned—she would place before her view the multiplied aggressions, which Spain had with impunity committed. Nor would the degrading spectacle of our chief magistrate tamely permitting insults from the representative of that once great, but now fast declining nation, be passed over, without producing sentiments very different from respect. At all times, feelingly alive to the slightest insult offered to her own dignity, she would naturally expect that the United States were preparing to resent those insults on their national honour, with an alacrity and zeal, at least equal, to that with which they had threatened her. But in what light would the energies of our government appear, when she was informed that no warlike attitude towards Spain had been assumed; no steps taken to strengthen our southern boundaries; that our navy and army had received no addition ; that our militia had been left in statu quo ante ;—not one of our militia generals had marshalled a single brigade.
We could with pleasure quote several interesting passages from this gentleman's speeches, in relation to Spain ; but as, in the course of our history, this subject will once more demand our attention, such quotations as shall be found neces
sary, either in evidence or for illustration, shall be reserved for their proper place.
We shall present the reader with but one more objection, opposed by Mr. Randolph to the question in debate—and that is, the effect which such a measure would have upon
the constitution. By leaving the President at full liberty to exert the powers placed in his hands by the constitution, consequences might ensue, which would eventually raze it to its very foundation. He declared, that it was incompetent to sustain such a test. That, in case of any great trial, its inefficiency and weakness would be so palpable, as to give plausibility to every proposal for a more energetic government. That there would not be wanting men, who under pretence of giving vigour to the executive, and adding strength to the constitution, would in the sequel burn the parchment; and in imitation of the present curse of Europe, would begin with a first consul, and end with an emperor.
Consequences like these, every wise man, and every lover of his country's weal, must deprecate, because on them is suspended all that is valuable to us as citizens; all that is dear to us as men. For when once the power is lodged in the hands of ambitious individuals, in whose view the love of country is a remote or at least but a secondary consideration ; who make even their high sounding professions of disinterested patriotism, of undeviating attachment to the people's interest, and of unceasing watchfulness for the country's good, but as ladders to their own aggrandizement; then in particular, should the votaries of genuine liberty rally round her standard ; then should the sentinels of public security be una usually vigilant and alert; and whether the pretender present himself in the specious garb, and popular cant of a Tiberius Gracchus; with the daring presumption, and unblushing profligacy of a Publius Sulpicius; or with the bold front, and high pretensions of a Cataline, his actions should be scrutinzied, his designs developed, his hypocrisy dragged forth to public detestation, and himself driven into exile, with the only solace, of having excited, and deserved, the just indignation of his country.
But though such consequences too frequently follow from