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Nor have we been wanting in attention to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts made by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them, by the ties of our common kindred, to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connexions and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our separation, and hold them as we hold the rest of mankind, -enemies in war, in peace, friends. .
“We, therefore, the representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the name and by the authority of the good people of these colonies, solemnly publish and declare, 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 connexion between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as free and independent States, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do. And, for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we
Of what had the British been warned?
mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.'*
CAPTURE OF LONG ISLAND, 26TH OF AUGUST, 1776.
General Washington was well aware that New York would be the first object of attack on the part of the British; and despairing of being able to encounter them in the open field, he resolved to protract the approaching campaign by carrying on a war of posts. With this view, after fortifying Long Island, he threw up various entrenchments on New York Island, which is bounded on the west by the Hudson, and on the south and east by East river, whilst to the north it is separated from the main land by a narrow channel which unites these two streams. He also con structed two forts, the one on the Hudson named Fort Washington, by which he proposed to maintain his communication with Jersey, whilst the other, called Fort Lee, connected his defence with the province of New York.Whilst he was making these preparations he received from
** This declaration was received by the people with transports of joy. Public rejoicings took place in various parts of the Union. In New York, the statue of George III. was taken down, and the lead, of which it was composed, was converted into musket balls. In Boston, the garrison was drawn up in King's street, which, from that moment, took the name of State-street, and thirteen salutes, by thirteen detachments, into which the troops were formed, were fired; the bells of the town were rung, in token of felicitation, and the evening concluded with the tearing in peices, and burning the ensigns of royalty- lions, scepters, and crowns."
What was Gen. Washington well aware of ?
Pennsylvania a seasonable reinforcement of 10,000 men, raised for the express purpose of forming a flying camp; but he was disappointed in his expectation of the aid of a large body of militia. Independently of the flying camp, his forces, at this moment of peril, amounted only to 17,225
Before commencing hostilities, the Howes, with a view of conciliation, or of detaching the wavering amongst the colonists from the cause of the congress, issued a proclamation, offering pardon to such of his majesty's rebellious subjects as would lay down their arms, and announcing their powers, on the fulfilment of certain conditions, to receive any colóny, district, or place, into the king's peace. This proclamation produced no effect beyond the districts from time to time occupied by the royal army. General Howe also endeavored to open a correspondence with Washington, for the purpose of laying a ground for the amicable adjustment of all differences between the colonies and the mother country; but as the British commander did not recognize the official character of Washington in the address of his letter, it was returned unopened, and thus this attempt at negotiation failed.
Those who are accustomed to the rapid proceedings of more modern warfare, cannot give to General Howe the praise due to activity. Though he arrived at Staten Island on the 10th of June, it was not till the 26th of August that
What reinforcement did Washington receive, and from whence?
he commenced active operations against the enemy by an attack on Long Island, on the north-western part of which a respectable force of Americans, commanded by General Sullivan, occupied an entrenched camp. Their position was protected in front by a range of hills stretching across the island, from the Narrows, a strait which separates it from Staten Island, to the town of Jamaica, situated on the southern coast. Over the hills in question pass three defensible roads, each of which was guarded by 800 men.The pass by the Narrows was attacked and carried by General Grant,—the second, by Flatbush, was cleared by General de Heister, in retreating before whom the Americans were encountered by General Clinton, who with the right wing of the British army, had made a detour by Jamaica. Thus the provincials were driven into their lines with the loss of upwards of 1000 men, whilst the British loss did not amount to more than 450. During the engagement Washington had sent strong reinforcements into Long Island, and, at its close, he repaired thither in person with the greater part of his army. This movement had nearly occasioned his ruin. He soon found himself cooped up in a corner, with a superior force in front prepared to attack his works, which were untenable. In these circumstances his only safety lay in retreat. It was a difficult operation to convey a whole army across a ferry in the presence of an enemy, whose working parties could be heard by his sentries. But favored by the darkness of the night, and by a fog which arose in the morning, he transported the
whole of his force to New York, leaving nothing behind him but some heavy cannon.
EVACUATION OF NEW YORK, FIRST OF SEPTEMBER 1776.
Among the prisoners taken by the British on Long Island was General Sullivan, whom General Howe sent on his parole with a message to Congress, renewing his offers to negotiate for an amicable accommodation. The Congress sent a committee of three of their body, Dr. Franklin, John Adams, and Edward Rutledge, to confer with him on the subject of his communication. These deputies were received with great politeness by General Howe; but, after a full discussion with the British commander, they reported to Congress that his proposals were unsatisfactory, and his powers insufficient. Their report concluded in the following terms:-It did not appear to your committee, that his lordship's commission contained any other authority than that expressed by the act of parliament,-namely, that of granting pardons, with such exceptions as the commissioners shall think proper to make, and of declaring America or any part of it to be in the king's peace on submission; for, as to the power of inquiring into the state of America, which his lordship mentioned to us, and of conferring and consulting with any persons the commissioners might think proper, and representing the result of such
Who among the Amcrican prisoners was taken on Long Island ?