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with the gallantry of a chivalrous spirit or the feelings of a generous sympathy, but by the dictates of a prudent and rational policy that foresaw the ruin of the whole in the tyrannical sacrifice of a part.
Mr. Gerry, naturally ardent and determined, was among the first to view with a steady eye the arduous duties which his country required him to perform. From his associated patriots in the Massachusetts legislature he had learned the sound doctrines of practical liberty; he had traced them in their consequences to the eventual separation of the colonies from the authority of their parent state, and he was not of an age or temperament that could be easily discouraged in the attainment of a great object by the dangers or difficulties of the pursuit. His own resolution was very early formed, and his only solicitude seemed to be that a strong impression should be made on the minds of the people.
MR. GERRY TO JAMES WARREN,* PRESIDENT OF THE PROVINCIAL CONGRESS AT WATERTOWN.
PHILADELPHIA, MARCH 26, 1776. MY DEAR SIR, Two days ago the agreeable news of the evacuation of Boston reached this place, on which give
* Major General James WARREN, of the militia of Massachusetts, a descendant from one of the first settlers of Plymouth,
me leave to congratulate you. What an occurrence is this to be known in Europe ? parliamentary pretensions to be reconciled ? Eight or ten thousand British troops, it has been said,
was born in that town in 1726. He was educated at Harvard College, and graduated in 1745. At an early period he was elected a member of the general court of Massachusetts, and soon distinguished himself among the popular leaders as one of the most inflexible advocates of the colony cause.
The first proposal of forming committees of correspondence has been ascribed to him.
He succeeded Dr. Warren as president of the provincial congress, and in that situation as well as in the speaker's chair of the house of representatives, which he subsequently filled, acquired much reputation for the dignity of his deportment. His uncompromising attachment to principle gave to his manners an appearance of austerity especially in official station, while in truth he was animated by great benevolence of heart, and performed all the duties of a kind neighbour and an affectionate friend.
In all the divisions of political party during his long and valuable life, General Warren and Mr. Gerry were invariably on the same side. It was their fortune to receive together the plaudits of the people, when the cause they espoused happened to be popular, and to suffer together the pitiless peltings of the storm, when the path of duty diverged in their opinion from the road on which the multitude were desirous of travelling.
General Warren was offered several situations of high dignity which he declined accepting, among them was the office of lieutenant governour of the state and judge of the supreme court. During the first part of the war of independence he was paymaster-general of the American army. Under the present constitution he served as a member of the executive council. In 1808 he presided over the electoral college of Massachusetts. He died at the advanced age of eighty-two years, entitled to the rare eulogy “that amid all his public occupations he never neglected the more humble duties of domestic life, or the more exalted claims of religion."
are sufficient to overrun America, and yet that number of their veterans, posted in Boston, a peninsula fortified by nature, defended by works the product of two years' industry, surrounded by navigable waters, supported by ships of war and commanded by their best generals, are driven off by about one-thirtieth of the power of America. .
Surely the invincible veterans laboured under some great disadvantage from want of provisions or military stores, which the Americans were amply provided with! Directly the reverse. They had provisions enough, ammunition, muskets and accoutrements for every man, and a piece of ordnance for every fifteen, while the Americans were almost destitute of all these, and after twelve months' collection had only a sufficiency of powder to tune their cannon for six or eight days. I am at a loss to know how Great Britain will reconcile all this to her military glory. Her conquests in America I am certain will never do it. Congress have voted thanks to the general and all the officers and soldiers of the army, and ordered a medal of gold with a suitable device to be presented to the former. I hope however that this success will not abate your exertions to obtain by your own manufactures sufficient supplies of military articles, for on these and the discipline of your militia depends your liberty.
You are desirous of knowing what capital measures are proposed in congress. I refer you to colonel Orne for what is done concerning privateering, and I hope soon that all your ports will be open and a free trade be allowed with all nations. This will not in itself satisfy you, and I hope nothing will, short of a determination of America to hold her rank in the creation, and give law to herself. I doubt not this will soon take place, and am sure New-England will not be satisfied with less, since not only the government but the people of Great Britain are corrupt and destitute of public virtue.
I sincerely wish you would originate instructions, expressed with decency and firmness—your own style—and give your sentiments as a court in favour of independency. I am certain it would turn many doubtful minds, and produce a reversal of the contrary instructions adopted by some assemblies. Some timid minds are terrified at the word independence. If you think caution in this respect good policy, change the name.
America has gone such lengths she cannot recede, and I am convinced that a few weeks or months at furthest will convince her of the fact, but the fruit must have time to ripen in some of the other colonies ; in New-England, the hot-bed of sedition, as North has impudently called Boston, it has already come to maturity. Would it not be good policy for the New-England governments to think of the matter, and adopt similar measures. Perhaps a circular letter and the publication of your instructions would accomplish much. Is it
not curious that the British ministry should know so little of our feelings or character that after seizing our property, burning our towns and destroying their inhabitants, they should make an act to interdict our trade, and suppose that towns, counties and colonies will bury in oblivion all former abuses, and subscribe themselves slaves in order to be rescued from the severities of this commercial tyranny ? This is an instance of the wisdom and policy of the British ministry! Have they not yet ascertained that we know our rights, or at least that we think we know them? Have they not learned that we can defend them too? I remain your friend,
The language of confidence and encouragement contained in the foregoing letter was reciprocated from Massachusetts.
MR. HAWLEY TO MR. GERRY.
WATERTOWN, May 1, 1776. MY DEAR SIR, The tories dread a declaration of independency and a course of conduct on that plan more than death. They console themselves with a belief that the southern colonies will not accede to it.