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THE COLONIAL CONGRESS.
Europe is given a prey to sterner fates,
The student of American history can at once see what would be the result of three such powerful nations as England, France and Spain contending for supremacy in North America. The gold fields of the West Indies, Mexico and Peru were practically exhausted, and these domains were dwindling into countries of minor importance. Spain had a firm hold on them and with the exception of a few islands and colonies, held almost undisputed sway in South America. It was in the temperate zone, in the northern part of the western hemisphere, where the great nation of the new
world was to be formed. The wise men of France and England saw and realized this, and with the French claiming all the Mississippi valley and the English the Atlantic coast from Acadie to Florida, it required no seer or prophet to foresee a bloody outcome of the events.
The time was almost ripe for the settlement of these questions. The French not only claimed the Mississippi Valley, but the valley of the Ohio. English emigration had pushed across the Alleghany Mountains, and isolated settlements here and there began to dot the fertile region.
Serious questions sprang up among the American colonies. Americans whose fathers and grandfathers had been born on American soil had less respect for the mother country than those who emigrated to the colonies. The king often sent bad governors to rule the people; taxes were exorbitant, and they were made to support a parliament in which they had no representation. The stories of Bacon's rebellion were not forgotten, for it was only half a century since the Virginians made their first bold stroke for liberty. Although the rebellion had been crushed by the tyrant Berkeley, it was still remembered, and there were many who had participated in the struggle who prophesied:
“It will come again. There is trouble ahead; but who can say how it will end?”
The men were born and at this time living in America who were to solve this intricate problem. Sporting on the shores of the Rappalannock was a little boy, trundling his wagon, or riding his cane for a prancing horse, .prattling in his joyous childhood, who was the coming Moses to lead his people out of the bondage of kingcraft into the glorious light of liberty and freedom.
Great minds, the product of the new world, were growing which would teach all Europe lessons in good government of the people, for the people and by the people.
Mr. Elmer Stevens and his son still lived near Mr. Washington. Noah little dreamed that the bright little boy who daily frolicked on his father's lawn, pulled the ears of Mr. Stevens' hounds and hurled stones at the pigs and chickens, would one day lead armies to victory, and build up a nation.
In 1736, Noah Stevens learned that his friend Colonel Oglethorpe had returned from England and he prevailed on his father to allow him to make a visit to Georgia.
On his arrival in Georgia, Noah early formed the acquaintance of a man named John Wesley and his brother Charles Wesley. They were religious enthusiasts, clergymen of the Church of England, who came to make war upon the invisible foe of righteousness. John Wesley was then thirty-three years of age, and came as a missionary of the gospel among the settlers and surrounding pagans. Charles came as an assistant to his brother in this warfare, and as secretary to Governor Oglethorpe. They had begun a course of independence in England quite contrary to the church, and the pulpits of their church were closed against them.
“You have come as a missionary to the new world, and I hope your work may bear fruit,” said Noah. The divine shook his head and said:
“They object to our method of serving God. I believe one should be converted before he should preach. I came to convert the heathen and found I was not converted myself.”
John Wesley was fervent in spirit and eloquent in speech. A large congregation attended his ministration at Savannah at first; but the austerity of his maxims, his fearless denunciation of vice and even foibles, and his rigid exercise of ecclesiastical authority soon involved him in serious disputes with the settlers, who were a peculiarly mixed people. Without really knowing it himself, he was a pioneer in thought and the founder of a new creed, and as every exponent of new thought must run counter to established ideas, Wesley became unpopular and was sorely vexed and irritated by opponents on every side. At last he became involved in a difficulty with a woman, whom he refused to admit to the communion, and left the province in disgust after a two years' ministry “ shaking the dust off his feet," as he expressed it, and believing his mission in Georgia a failure.
The Wesleys were succeeded by George Whitefield, who, being more practical than they, succeeded very well in the new colony. He established an orphan asylum in Georgia, which for years was supported by voluntaryo subscriptions from England.
The Spaniards at St. Augustine became jealous of the rapid growth of Georgia. Oglethorpe, not being fully prepared to resist an invasion, sent a messenger to St. Augustine to invite the commander to a friendly conference. As soon as the messenger departed, he set out in a ship with fifty Highlanders exploring the islands along the coast of Georgia. On St. Simon's Island, he founded the town of Frederica and built a fort there. In the Altamaha Sound, he visited New Invernes (now Darien), where he found a few Scotch Highlanders, who greeted him warmly. Here he marked out a small fort which was constructed, and a few cannon were planted.
When Oglethorpe returned to Savannah, it was warm spring weather; but his messenger to St. Augstine had not yet returned, and he proceeded to manifest the intentions of Great Britain to sus