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Proceedings of the Colonial Convention. Names of the Delegates. Plan of Union submitted by Franklin.
the English Secretary of State, accordingly addressed a circular letter to all the colonies, proposing a convention, at Albany, of committees from the several colonial assemblies, the chief design of which was proclaimed to be the renewal of treaties with the Six Nations. Seven of the colonies, namely, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, and Maryland, responded to the call, and the convention assembled at Albany, in the old City Hall, on the 19th of June, 1754." James Delancy was chosen president of the convention. The chiefs of the Six Nations were in full attendance, their principal speaker being Hendrick, the sachem afterward killed near Lake George while in the service of the English. The proceedings were opened by a speech to the Indians from Delancy; and while the treaty was in progress, the convention was invited, by the Massachusetts delegates, to consider whether the union of the colonies, for mutual defense, was not, under existing circumstances, desirable. The General Court of Massachusetts had empowered its representatives to enter into articles of union and confederation. The suggestion was favorably received, and a committee, consisting of one member from each colony, was appointed.” Several plans were proposed. Dr. Franklin, whose fertile mind had conceived the necessity of union, and matured a plan before he went to Albany, now offered an outline in writing, which was adopted in committee, and reported to the convention. The subject was debated “hand in hand,” as Franklin observes, “with the Indian business daily,” for twelve consecutive days, and finally the report, substantially as drawn by him, was adopted, the Connecticut delegates alone dissenting.” It was submitted to the Board of Trade, but that body did not approve of it or recommend it to the king, while the colonial assemblies were dissatisfied with it. “The assemblies did not adopt it,” says Franklin, “as they all thought there was too much prerogative in it, and in England it was judged to have too much of the democratic.” The Board of Trade had already proposed a plan of their own —a grand assembly of colonial governors and certain select members of their several councils, with power to draw on the British treasury, the sums thus drawn to be reimbursed by taxes imposed on the colonies by the British Parliament. This did not suit the colonists at all, and Massachusetts specially instructed her agent in England “to oppose everything that shall have the remotest tendency to raise a revenue in America for any public uses or serv
* The following are the names of the commissioners from the several states: New York.—James Delancy, Joseph Murray, William Johnson, John Chambers, William Smith. Massachusetts-Samuel Welles, John Chandler, Thomas Hutchinson, Oliver Partridge, John Worthington New Hampshire.—Theodore Atkinson, Richard Wibird, Mesheck Weare, Henry Sherburne. Connecticut.—William Pitkin, Roger Wolcott, Elisha Williams. Rhode Island.—Stephen Hopkins, Martin Howard. Pennsylvania.-John Penn, Benjamin Franklin, Richard Peters, Isaac Norris. Maryland.—Benjamin Tasker,” Benjamin Barnes.t * The committee consisted of Hutchinson of Massachusetts, Atkinson of New Hampshire, Pitkin of Connecticut, Hopkins of Rhode Island, Smith of New York, Franklin of Pennsylvania, and Tasker of Maryland. * The plan proposed a grand council of forty-eight members—seven from Virginia, seven from Massachusetts, six from Pennsylvania, five from Connecticut, four each from New York, Maryland, and the two Carolinas, three from New Jersey, and two each from New Hampshire and Rhode Island. The number of forty-eight was to remain fixed, no colony to have more than seven nor less than two members; but the apportionment to vary within those limits, with the rates of contribution. This council was to have the general management of civil and military affairs. It was to have control of the armies, the apportionment of men and money, and to enact general laws, in conformity with the British Constitution, and not in contravention of statutes passed by the imperial Parliament. It was to have for its head a president general, appointed by the crown, to possess a negative or veto power on all acts of the council, and to have, with the advice of the council, the appointment of all military officers and the entire management of Indian affairs. Civil officers were to be appointed by the council, with the consent of the president—Pitkin, i., 143. It is remarkable how near this plan, submitted by Franklin, is the basis of our Federal Constitution. Coxe, of New Jersey, who was Speaker of the Assembly of that province, proposed a similar plan in his “Carolana” in 1722, and William Penn, seeing the advantage of union, made a similar proposition as early as 1700– Hildreth, ii., 444.
* This name is differently spelled by different writers. Pitkin, in his text (vol. i., p. 142), writes it Trasker, and in the list of elegates in his appendix (429) it is Trasher. * Williams, in his Statesman's Manual, has it Abraham instead of Benjamin. I have followed Pitkin.
Early Patriotism of Massachusetts. Albany in the Revolution. General Schuyler's Mansion. Return to New York
ices of government.” This was the first proposition to tax the colonies without their consent, and thus early we find Massachusetts raising her voice as fearlessly against it as she did twenty years afterward, when her boldness drew down upon her the vengeance of the British government. During the Revolution, and particularly after the British took possession of New York city, Albany was the focus of revolutionary power in the state. There the Committee of Safety had its sittings; and, after the destruction of the forts in the Highlands, and the burning of Esopus (Kingston), it was generally the head-quarters of the military and civil officers in the Northern Department. There the captive officers of Burgoyne's invading army were hospitably entertained by General Schuyler and his family at their spacious mansion, then “half a mile below the town.” The house is still standing, at the head of Schuyler Street, a little west of South o Pearl Street, upon an eminence some thirty feet high in front, o, and completely imbosomed in trees and shrubbery. Within soose, o it the Baroness Reidesel was entertained, and there occurred of those events mentioned by her and Chastellux, which I have noticed in a preceding chapter (pages 91 and 92). It was the scene, also, of the attempted abduction of the general by the Tory, Waltemeyer, when he robbed the patriot of his plate in 1781, mentioned on page 223. There La Fayette, Steuben, Rochambeau, and other foreign officers of eminence were entertained, and there the noblest of the land, as well as distinguished travelers from abroad, were frequent guests during the life of the owner; and its doors were opened as freely when the voice of poverty pleaded for assistance as when the great claimed hospitality and courtesy. --- We arrived in New York on the morning of the 1st of Schuylen's MANsion." September. The air was cool and bracing, the day was fine, and the lately-deserted streets and shops were thronged with mingled citizens and strangers plunged as deeply in the maze of business as if no forgetfulness of the leger and till had occurred while babbling brooks and shady groves wooed them to Nature's worship. There I rested a few days, preparatory to a visit to the beautiful valley
“On Susquehanna's side, fair Wyoming "
* This view is from Schuyler Street. The edifice is of brick, having a closed octagonal porch or vestibule in front. It was built by Mrs. Schuyler while her husband was in England in 1760–1. The old family mansion, large and highly ornamented, in the Dutch style, stood nearly upon the site of the present City Hall, between State and Washington Streets. It was taken down in 1800.
Departure for Wyoming. Newark and its Associations. The old Academy. Trip to Morristown.
“The sultry summer past, September comes,
N the morning of the 12th of September I left New York on my second Tour. My chief destination was Wyoming, after a visit to a few noteworthy places in New Jersey, of which Morristown was the first. I was in Newark just in time to be too late for the morning train for Morristown. Newark is beautiful and eligible in location, and a thriving city; but it has only a few scraps of Revolutionary history, exclusively its own, for the entertainment of an inquirer. The village contained about one thousand inhabitants at that time. British, republicans, and Hessians were alternately billeted upon the people; and, being on the line of travel from New York to Brunswick and Trenton, its monotony was often broken by the passage of troops. Political parties were nearly balanced at the commencement of the war, and, when the Declaration of Independence was put forth, many of the Loys alists left the place and went to New York, among whom was the pastor of the Protestant Episcopal Church of Newark. It suffered much during the war from the visitations of regular troops of both armies, and of marauders. When Washington fled toward the Delaware, in November, 1776, his army (three thousand in number) encamped there from the 22d to the 28th. On that day Cornwallis entered the town with a pursuing force. Both armies were quartered upon the 'inhabitants. Cornwallis left a strong guard there, which remained until after the battle of Princeton. Foraging parties and plunderers kept the inhabitants in a state of continual alarm. On the night of the 25th of January, 1780, a party of five hundred of the enemy went from New York to Newark on the ice, burned the academy," carried off an active Whig named Hedden, and would doubtless have laid the town in ashes had not the light of a conflagration at Elizabethtown (the burning of the Presbyterian Church by another party, unknown to the first) alarmed them, and caused them to hasten back to New York. No other events of much general importance occurred there during the war. It seems to have been as famous in early times as now for its cider. Governor Carteret wrote, in a letter to the proprietors in 1682, “At Newark are made great quantities of cider, exceeding any we can have from New England, Rhode Island, or Long Island.” I left Newark for Morristown at two o'clock, by rail-road, through a beautifully-diversified region. The road passes above the upper verge of the sandy plains, through a very hilly country, and makes some broad curves in its way from Newark to Morristown, a distance, by the track, of about twenty-two miles. Springfield on the left and the Short Hills
* In that building the collegiate school, now the College of New Jersey, seated at Princeton, was held. while under the charge of the Rev. Aaron Burr, the father of the Vice-president of the United States of that name. This school was instituted at Elizabethtown by Jonathan Dickinson, in 1746. He died the following year, and the students were sent to Newark, and placed under the charge of Mr. Burr, who thus became the second president of the institution. It continued at Newark eight years, and was then removed to Princeton.
Arrival at Morristown. Kimble's Mountain. Fort Nonsense. September Sunset. The “Headquarters."
on the right, places of note in our revolutionary history, were pointed out as we sped rapidly by, and, before memory could fairly summon the events which made them famous, we were at the station at Morristown, a quarter of a mile eastward of the village green. The town is pleasantly situated upon a table land, with steep slopes on two sides. On the west is a high ridge called Kimble's Mountain, two hundred and fifty feet above the town, its summit commanding a magnificent prospect of the adjacent country, and considerably resorted to during the summer. It was upon the southern slope of this mountain that the American army, under the immediate command of Washington, was encamped during the winter of 1779–80; and upon the same ridge (which terminates abruptly at the village), half a mile from the green, are the remains of Fort Nonsense. It was nearly sunset when I ascended the hill, accompanied by Mr. Vogt, the editor of one of the village papers. The embankments and ditches, and the remains of the block-houses of Fort Nonsense, are very promiment, and the form of the embryo fortification may be distinctly traced among the trees. Its name was derived from the fact that all the labor bestowed upon it was intended merely to counteract the demoralizing effects of idleness. The American army was comfortably hutted, and too remote and secure from the enemy to make camp duty at all active. Washington foresaw the evil tendency of idleness, and discreetly ordered the construction of a fort upon a hill overlooking the town. There was no intention to complete it, and when the winter encampment broke up in the spring the work was, of course, abandoned. From the mountain we saw one of those gorgeous September sunsets so often seen in the Northern States, and so beautifully described by Wilcox:
“The sky, without the shadow of a cloud,
As the warm glow in the west faded, the eastern sky was radiant with the light of the full moon that came up over the hills, and under it we made our way along the sinuous mountain path down to the village. I spent the evening with the Honorable Gabriel Ford, who owns the fine mansion which was occupied by Washington as his head-quarters during the winter encampment there in 1779–80. It belonged to Judge Ford's mother, then a widow, himself being a boy about fourteen years old. His well-stored mind is still active, notwith. standing he is eighty-four years old, and he clearly remembers even the most trifling incidents of that encampment which came under his observation. He entertained me until a late hour with anecdotes and facts of interest, and then kindly invited me to pass the night under his hospitable roof, remarking, “You shall sleep in the room which General Washington and his lady occupied.” That certainly was the proffer of a rare privilege, and I tarried till morning. Before making further notes of a personal character, let us look at the history. Morristown was twice the place of a winter encampment of the division of the American army under the personal command of Washington. The first time was in 1777, after his brilliant achievements at Trenton, and the battle of Princeton. When the fortieth and fifty-fifth British regiments, which Washington encountered in that battle, fled, he pursued them as far as Kingston, where he had the bridge taken up, and, turning short to the left, crossed the Millstone River twice, and arrived at Pluckemin the same evening. It had been his intention to march to New Brunswick, to capture British stores deposited there; but his troops were so exhausted, not having slept for thirty-six hours, and Cornwallis was
Spirit and Condition of the Continental Army. Place of Encampment. Free-masonry. Inoculation of the Army. Jenner.
so near, that he abandoned the design and advanced to Morristown, where he went into winter quarters. He had achieved much, far more than the most sanguine patriot hoped for. At the very moment when his army appeared upon the verge of dissolution, and retreating from town to town, he struck a blow so full of strength that it paralyzed the enemy, broke up the British line of cantonments upon the Delaware, and made Cornwallis turn his eyes back wistfully to more secure quarters at New York, under the wing of General Howe, the British commander-in-chief. Nor did Washington sit down quietly at Morristown. He had established cantonments at various points from Princeton on the right, under the control of General Putnam, to the Hudson Highlands on the left, at which post General Heath was still in command, having been left there when the American army fled from Fort Lee, on the Hudson, to the Delaware, the previous autumn. He was in the midst of hills and a fertile country teeming with abundance, but he did not trust to the strong barriers of nature for his protection. Weak and poorly clad as was his army, he sent out detachments to harass the British, and with such spirit were those expeditions conducted, that, on or before the 1st of March, not a British or Hessian soldier remained in the Jerseys, except at New Brunswick and Amboy. Under the circumstances, it was a splendid triumph, and greatly inspirited the friends of the republican cause. The martial spirit of the people seemed to revive, and it was thought that the thinned battalions of the army would be speedily replenished. New courage was infused into the Continental Congress, the members of which, alarmed at the rapid approach of the British to Philadelphia, then the national metropolis, had fled to Baltimore, and held their sittings there. The American army was encamped in log huts at Morristown, and Washington's headquarters were at the old Freeman Tavern, which stood on the north side of the village green. In the Morris Hotel, a building then used as a commissary's store-house, the chief was initiated into the mysteries of Free-masonry, in a room over the bar, which was reserved for a ball-room and for the meetings of the Masonic Lodge. There he received most of the degrees of the Order, and his warm attachment to the institution lasted until his death. Some writers assert that, toward the elose of January, the small-pox broke out violently in the American camp, and that Washington resorted to a general inoculation of the army to stay its fatal progress. As Dr. Thacher, who performed this service in the camp in the Highlands, opposite West Point, at a later period, does not mention the circumstance in his Journal, and as cotemporary writers are silent on the subject, it was reasonable to conclude that such an event did not occur at Morristown. But Dr. Eneas Munson, one of Dr. Thacher's assistants, and still living in New Haven, has settled the question. I wrote to him upon the subject, inquiring also whether vaccination was ever substituted for inoculation during the Revolution. It was during the preceding year that Jenner, a young English surgeon, had made his famous discovery of the efficacy of vaccination." It had attracted the attention of Washington, for the soldiers of the Northern army had suffered terribly from the disease in Canada during the spring of 1776, and one of the most promising officers of the Continental army (General Thomas) had fallen a victim to the loathsome malady. Dr. Munson kindly answered my letter, as follows, under date of November 1st, 1849: “In reply to your inquiries of the 30th ult, I can say that vaccination was not practiced
* Edward Jenner, who was born in 1749, had his attention turned to the subject of vaccination at about the beginning of 1776, by the circumstance of finding that those who had been affected by the cow-pox, or kine-por, as it is popularly called, had become incapable of receiving the variolous infection. Inoculation, or the insertion of the virus of the common small-pox, had long been practiced. It was introduced into general notice by Lady Mary Wortley Montague in 1721, whose son was inoculated at Constantinople, and whose daughter was the first to undergo the operation in England. It was reserved for Jenner to discover the efficacy and introduce the practice of vaccination, or the introduction of the virus of the cow-pox, more than fifty years afterward. It was first introduced into the British capital in 1796, but met with great hostility on the part of the medical faculty. The triumph of Jenner was finally complete, and his fame is world wide. Oxford presented him with a diploma, the Royal Society admitted him as a member, and the British Parliament voted him $100,000.