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“To prevent the success of this unjust system, an union of counsel and action among all the col onies, is undoubtedly necessary. The politician of Italy delivered the result of reason and er. perience, when he proposed the way to conquest, by division. How to effect this union, in the wisest and firmest manner, perhaps, time and much reflection only can show. But well to understand each other, and timely to be informed of what passes both here and in Great Britain, it would seem that not only select committees should be appointed by all the colonies, but that a private correspondence should be conducted between the lovers of liberty in every province."*
Early in 1769 Mr. Lee introduced into the House of Burgesses, resolutions "denying the right of the mother country to bind the colonies in any case whatever," and firmly remonstrated against the act authorizing the crown to have “the inhabitants of the colonies transported to England to be tried for offences alleged to have been committed in the colonies." These resolutions were considered by the friends of the Crown as seditious, and the Governor dissolved the House so soon as he was informed of their adoption by that body. On the dissolution of the assembly, the members convened at a private house, where they drew up articles of convention, agreeing not to import or encourage in any way British manufactures, while the revenue acts remained in force. In the enforcement of these measures Mr. Lee was very active. In his own family he strictly adhered to the articles, and he was vigilant in watching those whom he suspected of a reluctant acquiescence. "To the domestic loom he had recourse for clothing for himself and family, and for wine and oil'he resorted to his own hills."
The years 1770 and 1771 passed away in comparative quiet. Mr. Lee during this time wisely persevered in the course he had marked out; continued his correspondence and widely spread the information, respecting the probable intentions of the ministry, which he was continually receiving from England, through the vigilance of his brother, Arthur Lee. In 1772 Parliament determined to establish in the colonies, courts with admiralty jurisdiction and powers. By this proceeding trial by jury was suspended, and the property and lives of the colonists placed at the mercy of judges who were to be appointed by the Crown. Mr. Lee opposed this measure, in the House of Burgesses, and proposed to address an humble petition to his majesty, which, after reciting the grievances of the colonists, should pray, “that he would be most graciously pleased to recommend the repeal of the acts passed for the purpose of raising a revenue in America, and for subjecting American property to the determination of admiralty courts, where the constitutional trial by jury is not permitted.”
On the assembling of Congress at Philadelphia, on the fourth of September, 1774, Mr. Lee took his seat in that body together with George Washington and Patrick Henry, who with him had been deputed delegates from the colony of Virginia. In this august assembly, and throughout his Congressional career, Mr. Lee distinguished himself by the boldness of his propositions, and the energy with which he supported them. The address he prepared by the direction of Congress in 1775, on behalf of the twelve United Colonies, is an imperishable evidence of his patriotism and eloquence. The important motion of the seventh of June, 1776," that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown; and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is, and ought to be, totally dissolved," was prepared and introduced by Mr. Lee, and he supported them in a brilliant and powerful speech. A few days after the introduction of this motion Mr. Lee was called home on account of the illness of his wife, which circumstance prevented his taking his seat as chairman of the committee upon his resolution according to parliamentary rules. Mr. Jefferson was appointed in his place. In August he returned to Congress, and signed the Declaration of Independence. The following June he returned to Virginia. Again in 1778, he took his seat in the Congress, and for the next two years rendered eminent services, either as the head, or a member of important committees. In the spring of the year 1780, he was re-elected a delegate to the General Assembly of Virginia. The royal troops, defeated in the north, now turned their operations to the southward. The incursions of the enemy upon the coasts of Virginia kept the inhabitants in a state of continual alarm and danger, and the small fleets, which could pass up the rivers, landed troops and pillaged the country. Westmoreland, the county in which Mr. Lee resided, from its situation, was much exposed to these distressing incursions, and he was called upon by the State to take command of the militia and repel the enemy. In this position he evinced his characteristic judgment and activity, annoying the enemy on their approaches and making excellent arrangements for a successful defence.
* By this letter it appears Mr. Lee devised a plan of having committees of correspondence between the colonial assemblies and of private corresponding clubs, as early as 1768, and this is in support of General Gadsden of South Carolina, who, a few years previous to his death, remarked on a public occasion, that Richard Henry Lee had invited him to become a member of a private corresponding society, as early as the year 1768, which he (Mr. Lee) was endeavoring to establish between the influential men of the colonies. He stated that Mr. Lee described his object to be, to obtain a mutual pledge from the members to write for the public journals or the papers of their respective colonies, and converse with and inform the people on the subject of their rights and their wrongs, and upon all seasonable occasions to impress upon their minds the necessity of a struggle with Great Britain, for the ultimate establishment of independence.-See Life of Richard Henry Lee, vol. i. p. 64.
+ Dr. Arthur Lee, the youngest brother of Richard Henry Lee, was born on the twentieth of December, 1740. He was educated at Edinburgh, and for some time pursued the practice of medicine at that place. On his return to America, ha practised his profession for several years at Williamsburg, Virginia. In 1766 he again went to London, and studied law in the Temple, at the same time becoming an intimate friend of Sir William Jones, the learned lawyer and able historian In England he rendered very important services to his native country, by sending to America the earliest intelligence of the plans of the ministry. In 1769 he wrote the able Monitor's letters, and a few years after a series of letters appeared from his pen, under the signature of " Junius Americanus." As the agent of Virginia in 1775, he presented the second pe. tition of Congress to the king. In 1776 he went to Paris, as colleague with Dr. Franklin and Silas Deane, and assisted in negotiating the treaty with France. On the appointment of Dr. Franklin as sole minister to the French Court, Mr. Les returned to America. In 1784 he was appointed a commissioner to treat with the Indians of the Six Nations, which trust he executed with much honor to himself and great satisfaction to his country. He was admitted to the bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, in February, 1790. Two years afterwards he died. His life, by R. H. Lee, was pub. lished in 1829
During the years 1780, 1781, 1782, Mr. Lee remained in the Assembly of his native State, believing that his services would be more profitable to his country in that position, rather than in the Congress of the United Colonies. At this time propositions were introduced in the assembly, to pay debts due to England; to make paper money a legal tender; and to impose a tax to support the clergy. These propositions were advocated by Mr. Lee, and opposed by Mr. Henry with great power.* In 1784 Mr. Lee again returned to Congress, and was chosen president of that body. Under the Federal Constitution he was one of the first members of the United States Senate, in which assembly he fully sustained the exalted reputation he had early acquired. In 1792 he retired altogether from public life, and on the nineteenth of June, 1794, at his home in Chantilly, Virginia, he died in the sixty-fourth year of his age.
THE COLONIES TO GREAT BRITAIN. By a resolution of Congress passed on the committee, and Mr. Lee, as chairman, drafted third of June, 1775, a committee was appointed the following address, which was adopted by to prepare an address to the inhabitants of Congress on the eighth of July, 1775, and forGreat Britain. Richard Henry Lee, R. R. Liv- warded to England in charge of Mr. Penn.t ingston and Edmund Randolph composed that
your judgment by storm. His was the mediate class of elo.
quence described by Rollin in his Belles Lettres. He was like * An interesting comparison of the merits of these great a beautiful river meandering through a flowery mead, but men, at this period of their lives, is given by a correspondent which never overflowed its banks. It was Henry who was the of the author of the life of Patrick Henry. “I met with mountain torrent, that swept away every thing before it: it Patrick flenry in the Assembly, in May, 1783; I also then was he alone who thundered and lightened, he alone attained met with Richard Henry Lee. These two gentlemen were that sublime species of eloquence also mentioned by Rollin." the great leaders of the House of Delegates, and were almost + There were two addresses from the colonies, by their constantly opposed. There wer: many other great men who delegates in Congress, to the inhabitants of Great Britain belonged to that body, but as orators they cannot be named one which was written by John Jay, in accordance with . with Henry or Lee. Mr. Lee was a polished gentleman. He resolve of Congress of October 11th, 1774, and the one sehad lost the use of one of his hands, but his manner was per lected; prepared in accordance with a resolve of Congress of fectly graceful. His language was always chaste, and, al. June 8d, 1775. The circumstance of there being two, has oftoz though somewhat too monotonous, his speeches were always caused debate as to their authorship.-See Journals of Con pleasing, yet he did not ravish your senses or carry away I gress, vol. i. pp. 19, 26, 79, 106.
The twelve United Colonies, by their delegates in To confirm this assertion, let us recall your Congress, to the inhabitants of Great Britain: attention to the affairs of America, since our
last address. Let us combat the calumnies of FRIENDS, COUNTRYMEN AND BRETHREN!-By our enemies; and let us warn you of the danthese, and by every other appellation that may gers that threaten you in our destruction. Many designate the ties which bind :is to each other, of your fellow subjects, whose situation dewe entreat your serious attention to this our prived them of other support, drew their mainsecond attempt to prevent their dissolution. tenance from the sea; but the deprivation of Remembrance of former friendships, pride in our liberty being insufficient to satisfy the rethe glorious achievements of our common an- sentment of our enemies, the horrors of famine cestors, and affection for the heirs of their vir- | were superadded, and a British Parliament, who, tues, have hitherto preserved our mutual con- in better times, were the protectors of innocence nection; but when that friendship is violated and the patrons of humanity, have, without disby the grossest injuries; when the pride of an- tinction of age or sex, robbed thousands of the cestry becomes our reproach, and we are no food, which they were accustomed to draw from otherwise allied than as tyrants and slaves, that inexhaustible source, placed in their neighwhen reduced to the melancholy alternative of borhood by the benevolent Creator. renouncing your favor or our freedom; can we Another act of your legislature shuts our hesitate about the choice? Let the spirit of ports, and prohibits our trade with any but Britons determine.
those States from whom the great law of selfIn a former address we asserted our rights, preservation renders it absolutely necessary we and stated the injuries we had then received. should at present withhold our commerce. But We hoped that the mention of our wrongs this act (whatever may have been its design) would have roused that honest indignation we consider rather as injurious to your opulence which has slept too long for your honor, or the than our interest. All our commerce terminates welfare of the empire. But we have not been with you; and the wealth we procure from permitted to entertain this pleasing expectation. other nations, is soon exchanged for your superEvery day brought on accumulation of injuries, fluities. Our remittances must then cease with and the invention of the ministry has been con- our trade; and our refinements with our afflustantly exercised in adding to the calamities of ence. We trust, however, that laws which deyour American brethren.
I prive us of every blessing but a soil that teems After the most valuable right of legislation with the necessaries of life, and that liberty was infringed; when the powers assumed by which renders the enjoyment of them secure, your Parliament, in which we are not rep- will not relax our vigor in their defence. We resented, and from our local and other circum- might here observe on the cruelty and inconstances cannot be properly represented, render- sistency of those, who, while they publicly ed our property precarious; after being denied brand us with reproachful and unworthy epithat mode of trial to which we have been long thets, endeavor to deprive us of the means of indebted for the safety of our persons and the defence by their interposition with foreign preservation of our liberties; after being in powers, and to deliver us to the lawless ravages many instances divested of those laws which of a merciless soldiery. But happily we are were transmitted to us by our common ances- not without resources, and though the timid tors, and subjected to an arbitrary code, com- and humiliating applications of a British minispiled under the auspices of Roman tyrants; try should prevail with foreign nations, yet inafter those charters, which encouraged our pre- dustry, prompted by necessity, will not leave us decessors to brave death and danger in every without the necessary supplies. shape, on unknown seas, in deserts unexplored, We could wish to go no further, and, not to amidst barbarous and inhospitable nations, were wound the ear of humanity, leave untold those annulled; when, without the form of trial, rigorous acts of oppression, which are daily exwithout a public accusation, whole colonies ercised in the town of Boston, did not we hope, were condemned, their trade destroyed, their that by disclaiming their deeds, and punishing inhabitants impoverished; when soldiers were the perpetrators, you would shortly vindicate encouraged to imbrue their hands in the blood the honor of the British name, and re-establish of Americans, by offers of impunity; when the violated laws of justice. new modes of trial were instituted for the ruin That once populous, flourishing, and commerof the accused, where the charge carried with cial town, is now garrisoned by an army, sent it the horrors of conviction; when a despotic not to protect, but to enslave its inhabitants. government was established in a neighboring | The civil government is overturned, and a mili. province, and its limits extended to every part tary despotism erected upon its ruins. With of our frontiers; we little imagined that any- out law, without right, powers are assumed un thing could be added to this black catalogue of known to the constitution. Private property is unprovoked injuries: but we have unhappily unjustly invaded. The inhabitants, daily subbeen deceived, and the late measures of the jected to the licentiousness of the soldiery, are British ministry fully convince us, that their forbid to remove, in defiance of their natural object is the reduction of these colonies to sla- rights, in violation of the most solemn comvery and ruin.
Ipacts. Or, if after long and wearisome solici
tation, a pass is procured, their effects are de- , you have not been equally seditious. We are tained, and even those who are most favored, accused of aiming at independence; but how is have no alternative but poverty or slavery. this accusation supported? By the allegations The distress of many thousand people, wantonly of your ministers-not by our actions. Abused, deprived of the necessaries of life, is a subject, insulted, and contemned, what steps have wé on which we would not wish to enlarge
pursued to obtain redress? We have carried Yet we cannot but observe, that a British our dutiful petitions to the throne. We have fleet (unjustified even by acts of your legisla- applied to your justice for relief. We have reture) are daily employed in ruining our com- | trenched our luxury, and withheld our trade. merce, seizing our ships, and depriving whole The advantages of our commerce were docommunities of their daily bread. Nor will a signed as a compensation for your protection. regard for your honor permit us to be silent, When you ceased to protect, for what were we while British troops sully your glory, by ac- to compensate? tions, which the most inveterate enmity will! What has been the success of our endeavors ? not palliate among civilized nations, the wanton The clemency of our sovereign is unhappily diand unnecessary destruction of Charlestown, a verted; our petitions are treated with indig. large, ancient and once populous town, just be- nity; our prayers answered by insults. Our fore deserted by its inhabitants, who had fled application to you remains unnoticed, and to avoid the fury of your soldiery.
leaves us the melancholy apprehension of your If still you retain those sentiments of com- wanting either the will or the power to assist passion by which Britons have ever been dis- us tinguished; if the humanity which tempered Even under these circumstances, what meathe valor of our common ancestors has not de- sures have we taken that betray a desire of ingenerated into cruelty, you will lament the dependence? Have we called in the aid of those miseries of their descendants,
foreign powers who are the rivals of your granTo what are we to attribute this treatment? deur? When your troops were few and deIf to any secret principle of the constitution, fenceless, did we take advantage of their dislet it be mentioned; let us learn that the gov- | tress, and expel them our towns? or have we ernment we have long revered is not without permitted them to fortify, to receive new aid, its defects, and that while it gives freedom to a and to acquire additional strength ? part, it necessarily enslaves the remainder of Let not your enemies and ours persuade you the empire. . If such a principle exists, why that in this we were influenced by fear, or any for ages has it ceased to operate? Why at this other unworthy motive. The lives of Britons time is it called into action? Can no reason be are still dear to us. They are the children of assigned for this conduct? or must it be re- our parents, and an uninterrupted intercourse solved into the wanton exercise of arbitrary of mutual benefits had knit the bonds of friendpower? And shall the descendants of Britons ship. When hostilities were commenced—when tamely submit to this? No, sirs! We neveron a late occasion we were wantonly attacked will; while we revere the memory of our gal- by your troops, though we repelled their aslant and virtuous ancestors, we never can sur saults and returned their blows, yet we lamentrender those glorious privileges for which they ed the wounds they obliged us to give; nor fought, bled, and conquered. Admit that your have we yet learned to rejoice at a victory over fleets could destroy our towns, and ravage our Englishmen. sea-coasts; these are inconsiderable objects, As we wish not to color our actions, or disthings of no moment to men whose' bosoms guise our thoughts, we shall, in the simple langlow with the ardor of liberty. We can retire guage of truth, avow the measures we have beyond the reach of your navy, and, without pursued, the motives upon which we have actany sensible diminution of the recessaries of ed, and our future designs. life, enjoy a luxury, which from that period you When our late petition to the throne prowill want-the luxury of being free.
duced no other effect than fresh injuries, and We know the force of your arms, and was it votes of your legislature, calculated to justify called forth in the cause of justice and your every severity; when your fleets and your arcountry, we might dread the exertion; but will mies were prepared to wrest from us our prop Britons' fight under the banners of tyranny ?erty, to rob us of our liberties or our lives; Will they counteract the labors, and disgrace when the hostile attempts of General Gage the victories of their ancestors? Will they evinced his designs, we levied armies for our forge chains for their posterity? If they de- security and defence. When the powers vestscend to this unworthy task, will their swords ed in the governor of Canada gave us reason retain their edge, their arms their accustomed to apprehend danger from that quarter, and we vigor? Britons can never become the instru- had frequent intimations that a cruel and savage ments of oppression, till they lose the spirit of enemy was to be let loose upon the defenceless freedom, by which alone they are invincible. inhabitants of our frontiers, we took such mea
Our enemies charge us with sedition. In sures as prudence dictated, as necessity will what does it consist? In our refusal to submit justify. We possessed ourselves of Crown to anwarrantable acts of injustice and cruelty? Point and Ticonderoga. Yet give us leave If so, show as a period in yonr history in which most solemnly to assure you, that we have not yet lost sight of the object we have ever had in they treat with freedom, while their towns are view-a reconciliation with you on constitu- sacked; when daily instances of injustice and tional principles, and a restoration of that oppression disturb the slower operations of reafriendly intercourse which, to the advantage of son? both, we till lately maintained.
1 If this proposal is really such as you would The inhabitants of this country apply them- offer, and we accept, why was it delayed till selves chiefly to agriculture and commerce. As the nation was put to useless expense, and we their fashions and manners are similar to yours, were reduced to our present melancholy situayour markets must afford them the conveni- tion? If it holds forth nothing, why was it ences and luxuries for which they exchange the proposed ? unless, indeed, to deceive you into produce of their labors. The wealth of this ex- a belief that we were unwilling to listen to any tended continent centres with you; and our terms of accommodation. But what is submittrade is so regulated as to be subservient only ted to our consideration? We contend for the to your interest. You are too reasonable to ex- disposal of our property. We are told that our pect, that by taxes (in addition to this), we demand is unreasonable—that our Assemblies should contribute to your expense; to believe may indeed collect our money, but that they after diverting the fountain, that the streams must at the same time offer, not what your excan flow with unabated force.
igencies or ours may require, but so much as It has been said that we refuse to submit to shall be deemed sufficient to satisfy the desires the restrictions on our commerce. From whence of a minister, and enable him to provide for fais this inference drawn? Not from our words; vorites and dependants. A recurrence to your we have repeatedly declared the contrary, and own treasury will convince you how little of we again profess our submission to the several the money already extorted from us, has been acts of trade and navigation passed before the applied to the relief of your burthens. To supyear 1763, trusting, nevertheless, in the equity pose that we would thus grasp the shadow, and and justice of Parliament, that such of them give up the substance, is adding insult to inju. as, upon cool and impartial consideration, shall ries. appear to have imposed unnecessary or griev- We have nevertheless again presented an ous restrictions, will, at some happier period, be humble and dutiful petition to our sovereign; repealed or altered. And we cheerfully consent and to remove every imputation of obstinacy, to the operation of such acts of the British have requested his majesty to direct some mode Parliament as shall be restrained to the regula- by which the united applications of his faithful tion of our external commerce, for the purpose colonists may be improved into a happy and of securing the commercial advantages of the permanent reconciliation. We are willing to whole empire to the mother country, and the treat on such terms as can alone render an commercial benefits of its respective members; accommodation lasting; and we flatter ourexcluding every idea of taxation, internal or selves, that our pacific endeavors will be atexternal, for raising a revenue on the subjects tended with a removal of ministerial troops, in America without their consent.
and a repeal of those laws, of the operation of It is alleged that we contribute nothing to which we complain, on the one part, and a the common defence. To this we answer, that disbanding of our army, and a dissolution of the advantages which Great Britain receives our commercial associations, on the other. from the monopoly of our trade, far exceed our Yet, conclude not from this that we propose proportion of the expense necessary for that to surrender our property into the hands of purpose. But should these advantages be in your ministry, or vest your Parliament with a adequate thereto, let the restrictions on our power which may terminate in our destruction. trade be removed, and we will cheerfully con- | The great bulwarks of our constitution we have tribute such proportion when constitutionally desired to maintain by every temperate, by required.
every peaceable means; but your ministers It is a fundamental principle of the British (equal foes to British and American freedom) Constitution, that every man should have at have added to their former oppressions an least a representative share in the formation of attempt to reduce us, by the sword, to a base those laws by which he is bound. Were it and abject submission. On the sword, there. otherwise, the regulation of our internal police fore, we are compelled to rely for protection. by a British Parliament, who are, and ever will Should victory declare in your favor, yet men be, unacquainted with our local circumstances, trained to arms from their infancy, and animated must be always inconvenient, and frequently by the love of liberty, will afford neither a oppressive, working our wrong, without yield cheap nor easy conquest. Of this, at least, we ing any possible advantage to you.
are assured, that our struggle will be glorious, A plan of accommodation (as it has been ab- our success certain; since, even in death we surdly called) has been proposed by your min- shall find that freedom which in life you forbid isters to our respective assemblies. Were this us to enjoy. proposal free from every other objection but Let us now ask, what advantages are to at. that which arises from the time of the offer, it tend our reduction? The trade of a ruined and would not be unexceptionable. Can men de- desolate country is always inconsiderable, its iberate with the bayonet at their breast? Can revenue trifling; the expense of subjecting and