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Hap. largest and oldest colony, and one of her sons was acknowledged to surpass all his countrymen in military capacity and skill. The choice of Washington as the general, would at once be a concession to prejudice and in itself the wisest selection. On the earliest occasion John Adams explained the composition and character of the New England army; its merits and its wants; the necessity of its being adopted by the continent, and the consequent propriety that congress should name its general. Then speaking for his constituents, he pointed out Washington as the man, above all others, fitted for that station, and best able to promote union. Samuel Adams seconded his colleague. The delegates from the Ancient Dominion, especially Pendleton, Washington's personal friend, disclaimed any wish that the officer whom Massachusetts had advanced, should be superseded by a Virginian. Washington himself had never aspired to the honor; though for some time he had been "apprehensive that he could not avoid the appointment."
The balloting for continental officers was delayed, that the members from New York might consult their provincial congress on the nominations from that colony.
With an empire to found and to defend, congress had not, as yet, had the disposal of one penny of money. The army which beleaguered Boston had sent for gunpowder to every colony in New England, to individual counties and towns, to New York and still further south; but none was to be procured. In the urgency of extreme distress, congress undertook to borrow six thousand pounds, a little more than twenty-five thousand dollars, "for the use of Chap.
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America/' to Tbe applied to the purchase of gun- —^ powder for what was now for the first time called jlinee'
THE CONTINENTAL AEMT.
In the arrangement of its committees and the distribution of business, it still sought to maintain a position, adverse alike to a surrender of liberty and to a declaration of independence; its policy was an armed defence, while wraiting for a further answer from the king. On Wednesday the seventh of June, one of its resolutions spoke of "the Twelve United Colonies," Georgia being not yet included; and the name implied an independent nation; but on the eighth, it tardily recommended to Massachusetts not to institute a new government, but to intrust the executive power to the elective council, "until a governor of the king's appointment would consent to govern the colony according to its charter." For a province in a state of insurrection and war, a worse system could hardly have been devised. It had no unity, no power of vigorous action; it was recommended because it offered the fewest obstacles to an early renewal of allegiance to the British crown.
The twelfth of June is memorable for the contrast between the manifest dispositions of America and of the British representatives at Boston. On that day, Gage, under pretence of proclaiming a general pardon to the infatuated multitude, proscribed by name Samuel Adams and John Hancock, reserving them for condign punishment, as rebels and traitors, in terms which included as their abettors not only all who should remain in arms about BosChap, ton, but every member of the provincial government
XXXVII -1 /»! . , T-i
^—' and of the continental congress. In the same breath June' ^e established martial law throughout Massachusetts, 12- while vessels cruised off Sandy Hook to turn to Boston the transports which were bound with four regiments to New York. He also called upon the British secretary of state to concentrate at Boston fifteen thousand men, of whom a part might be hunters, Canadians, and Indians; to send ten thousand more to New York; and seven thousand more, composed of regular troops with a large corps of Canadians and Indians, to act on the side of Lake Champlain. "We need not be tender of calling upon the savages," were his words to Dartmouth; some of the Indians, domiciled in Massachusetts, having strolled to the American camp to gratify curiosity or extort presents, he pretended to excuse the proposal which he had long meditated, by falsely asserting that the Americans "had brought down as many Indians as they could collect."
On that same day the congress of New York, which had already taken every possible step to induce the Indians not to engage in the quarrel, had even offered protection to Guy Johnson, the superintendent, if he would but leave the Six Nations to their neutrality, and had prohibited the invasion of Canada, addressed to the merchants of that province the assurance, "that the confederated colonies aimed not at independence," but only at freedom from taxaation by authority of parliament. On that same twelfth of June, the general congress made its first appeal to the people of the twelve united colonies by an injunction to them to keep a fast on one and the same day, when they were to recognise "king George the Third as their rightful sovereign, and to look up to the supreme and universal superintending Providence of the great Governor of the world, for a gracious interposition of heaven for the restoration of the invaded rights of America, and a reconciliation with the parent state." Every village, every family, whether on the seaside or in the forest, was thus summoned to give the most solemn attestation of their desire to end civil discord, and "regard the things that belong to peace."
Measures were next taken for organizing and paying an American continental army, to be enlisted only till the end of the year, before which time a favorable answer from the king was hoped for. Washington, Schuyler, and others were deputed to prepare the necessary rules and regulations. It was also resolved to enlist ten companies of expert riflemen, of whom six were to be formed in Pennsylvania, two in Maryland, and two in Virginia.
Then on the fifteenth day of June, it was voted June to appoint a general Thomas, of Maryland, nominated George Washington; and as he had been brought forward "at the particular request of the people in New England," he was elected by ballot unanimously.
Washington was then forty-three years of age. In stature he a little exceeded six feet; his limbs were sinewy and well proportioned; his chest broad; his figure stately, blending dignity of presence with ease. His robust constitution had been tried and invigorated by his early life in the wilderness, his habit of occupation out of doors, and his rigid temperance; so Chap, that few equalled him in strength of arm or power of
"-r*— endurance. His complexion was florid; his hair dark 15. brown; his head in its shape perfectly round. His broad nostrils seemed formed to give expression and escape to scornful anger. His dark blue eyes, which were deeply set, had an expression of resignation, and an earnestness that was almost sadness.
At eleven years old, left an orphan to the care of an excellent but unlettered mother, he grew up without learning. Of arithmetic and geometry he acquired just knowledge enough to be able to practise measuring land; but all his instruction at school taught him not so much as the orthography or rules of grammar of his own tongue. His culture was altogether his own work, and he was in the strictest sense a self-made man; yet from his early life he never seemed uneducated. At sixteen he went into the wilderness as a surveyor, and for three years continued the pursuit, where the forests trained him, in meditative solitude, to freedom and largeness of mind; and nature revealed to him her obedience to serene and silent laws. In his intervals from toil, he seemed always to be attracted to the best men, and to be cherished by them. Fairfax, his employer, an Oxford scholar, already aged, became his fast friend. He read little, but with close attention. Whatever he took in hand, he applied himself to with care; and his papers, which have been preserved, show how he almost imperceptibly gained the power of writing correctly; always expressing himself with clearness and directness, often with felicity of language and grace.
When the frontiers on the west became dis