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“However, in his private character he has always been respectable, and highly esteemed; and has supported a name fair and worthy."
In the beginning of July, Washington set out for the camp at Cambridge, in order to assume the command of the army. On his way thither, he was treated with every demonstration of respect; escorted by detachments of gentlemen, who had formed volunteer associations, and honoured with public addresses of congratulation from the Provincial Congress of New York and Massachusetts.
In answer to these addresses, Washington, after declaring his high sense of the regard shewn him, added, “Be assured, that every exertion of my worthy colleagues and myself will be extended to the re-establishment of peace and harmony between the mother country and these colonies. As to the fatal, but necessary operations of war, when we assumed the soldier, we did not lay aside the citizen, and we shall most sincerely rejoice with you in that happy hour, when the re-establishment of American liberty, on the most firm and solid foundations, shall enable us to return to our private stations, in the bosoms of a free, peaceful, and happy country.”
On his arrival at the camp, he was received with the joyful acclamations of the American army. He found the British troops entrenched on Bunker's Hill, and defended by three floating batteries in Mystic river, while the Americans were entrenched on Winter Hill, Prospect Hill, and Roxbury, with a communication by small posts over an extent of ten miles. As the provincial soldiers had repaired to the camp in their ordinary clothing, the hunting shirt was adopted for the sake of uniformity. Washington found a Jarge body of men indifferently disciplined, and but badly provided with arms and ammunition. Besides they had neither engineers nor sufficient tools for the erection of fortifications. He also found uncommon difficulties in the organization of his armyEnterprizing leaders had distinguished themselves at the commencement of hostilities, and their followers, from attachment, were not willing to be commanded by officers who, though appointed by Congress, were strangers to them. To subject the licentiousness of freemen to the controul of military discipline, was both an arduous and delicate task. However, the genius of Washington triumphed over all difficulties. In his letter to Congress,afterhe had reviewed the troops,
he says, “I find here excellent materials for an army; able-bodied men of undoubted courage, and zealous in the cause.” In the same letter, he complains of the want of ammunition, camp equipage, and many other requisites of an army.
Washington, at the head of his troops, published a declaration, previously drawn up by Congress, expressive of their motives for taking up arms. It was written in energetic language, and contained the following remarkable passages :
“ Were it possible fot men who exercise their reason, to believe that the Divine Author of our existence intended a part of the human race to hold an absolute property in, and unbounded power over others, marked out by his infinite goodness and wisdom as the objects of a legal domination, never rightfully resistible, however severe and oppressive, the inhabitants of these colonies might, at least, require from the Parliament of Great Britain some evidence, that this dreadful authority over them has been granted to that body. But a reverence for our great Creator, principles of humanity, and the dictates of common sense, must convince all those who reflect upon the subject, that government was instituted to promote the
welfare of mankind, and ought to be administered for the attainment of that end.
“The Legislature of Great Britain, however, stimulated by an inordinate passion for power, not only unjustifiable, but which they know to be peculiarly reprobated by the very constitution of that kingdom, and despairing of success in any mode of contest where regard should be had to truth, law or right, have at length, deserting those, attempted to effect their cruel and impolitic purpose of enslaving these colonies by violence, and have thereby rendered it necessary for us to close with their last appeal from reason to arms. Yet however blinded that assembly may be, by their intemperate rage for unlimited dominion, so to slight justice and the opinion of mankind, we esteem ourselves bound, by obligations of respect to the rest of the world, to make known the justice of our cause.”
The declaration then proceeds to describe the manner in which the first colonists left Great Britain, the mutual friendly intercourse that had subsisted for ages between that country and her colonists, and the unconstitutional manner in which Parliament had acted for the last ten years towards the Americans. It then continues :
“We have for ten years incessantly besieged the throne as supplicants; we reasoned, we remonstrated with Parliament in the most mild and decent language ; but administration, sensible that we should regard those measures as freemen ought to do, sent over fleets and armies to enforce them.
« We are reduced to the alternative of choosing an unconditional submission to tyranny, or resistance by force. The latter is our choice. We have counted the cost of this contest, and find nothing so dreadful as voluntary slavery. Honour, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them, if we basely entail hereditary bondage upon them.
“ Our cause is just, our union is perfect, our internal resources are great; and if necessary, foreign assistance is undoubtedly attainable.
e fight not for glory or conquest; we exhibit tò mankind the remarkable spectacle of a people attacked by unprovoked enemies. They boast of their privileges, and yet proffer no milder conditions than servitude or death.