The Jetmakers | Perry's Saints | Thrilling Incidents In American History | Prev | Next

Thrilling Incidents In American History

• Title
• Preface

Revolutionary War
• Opening Of The Revolution
• The Boston Massacre
• Affair of the Sloop Liberty
• Affair of the Gaspee
• The Tea Riot
• The Boston Port Bill
• The First Continental Congress-Consequent Parliamentary proceedings
• Organization of the Minute-Men
• Patrick Henry-Second Provincial Congress-First Military Enterprise
• Battles of Lexington and Concord
• Battle of Bunker's Hill
• Capture of Ticonderoga
• Second Continental Congress-Washington's Appointment
• Siege of Boston
• Incidents at the Evacuation of Boston
• Burning of Falmouth
• Arnold's Expedition to Quebec
• Siege of Quebec, and Death of Montgomery
• Scenes at Quebec during the Siege
• Expedition against Charleston
• The Declaration of Independence
• The Battle of Long Island
• Washington's Retreat through New Jersey-Capture of General Lee
• Battle of Trenton
• Battle of Princeton
• Capture of General Prescott
• Battle of Brandywine
• Battle of Germantown
• Battle of Red-Bank
• Attack on Fort Mifflin-Retirement of the Army to Valley Forge
• Battle of Bennington
• Murder of Miss M'Crea
• Battle of Stillwater
• Battle of Bemis' Heights, and Retreat of Burgoyne
• Capture of Forts Clinton and Montgomery
• Surrender of Burgoyne
• The Treaty with France
• Attack on Savannah, and Death of Pulaski
• Storming of Stony Point
• General Sullivan's Campaign against the Mohawks
• Tarleton's Quarters
• Battle of Camden, and Death of De Kalb
• Arnold's Treason
• The Loss of the Randolph
• The British Prison-Ships
• Capture of the Serapis
• Putnam's Feat at Horseneck
• Battle of Eutaw Springs
• Wayne's Charge at Green Spring
• Capture of the General Monk
• The Mutinies
• Battle of the Cowpens
• Capture of New London
• Massacre of Wyoming
• Surrender of Cornwallis

War With France
• Capture of L'Insurgente
• The Constellation and Vengeance

War With Tripoli
• Burning of the Philadelphia
• Bombardment of Tripoli
• Loss of the Intrepid
• Expedition of General Eaton

Second War With England
• Battle of Tippecanoe
• Capture of the Guerriere
• Tragical Affair of an Indian Chief
• Battle and Massacre at the River Raisin
• Captain Holmes's Expedition
• Capture of the Caledonia and Detroit
• The Wasp and Frolic
• Gallant Conduct of Lieutenant Allen at the Capture of the Macedonian
• Capture and Destruction of the Java
• Siege of Fort Meigs
• Capture of York, and Death of General Pike
• Defence of Sackett's Harbour
• Defence of Fort Stephenson
• Battle of Lake Erie
• Battle of the Thames
• Gallant Action of Commodore Chauncey under the guns of Kingston Citadel
• The Sacking of Hampton
• Capture of the Peacock
• Massacre at Fort Mimms
• Surrender of Weatherford
• Battle of Niagara
• BattIe of New Orleans

War With Mexico
• Battle of Palo Alto
• Battle of Resaca de la Palma
• Capture of Monterey
• Battle in the Streets of Monterey
• Thrilling Scenes in the Battle of Buena Vista
• Bombardment of Vera Cruz
• Battle of Cerro Gordo
• Battles of Contreras and Churubusco
• Storming of Chapultepec

Carpenter's Hall
Carpenter's Hall


HE Congress, destined to change the face of America, met at Carpenter's Hall, Philadelphia, on the 5th of September, 1774. They determined that their deliberations should be secret, that the results should be given to the world as unanimous, and no difference of opinion allowed to transpire. A committee was immediately appointed to report upon the rights violated, the injuries sustained, and the means of redress. Separate ones were afterwards named to prepare addresses to the people of Great Britain, to the king, to the, colonists, and to the Canadians.

These documents being submitted to Congress, and having undergone some revisal and alteration, were produced to the world. The grievances complained of were chiefly the imposition of taxes by the British Parliament, the quartering of troops, and the several acts relating to Massachusetts. Their demand was, to be replaced in exactly the same state as at the conclusion of the last war. No mention was introduced of the Pennsylvanian conciliatory propositions, -the voluntary grant of a revenue, or compensation to the company. No acknowledgment was made of any errors committed by their countrymen, requiring apology or atonement. They merely undertook to provide for their civil government, for an effective militia, and in case of war, to exert their most strenuous efforts in granting supplies and raising men. The people of Massachusetts were strictly enjoined not to submit to any act under the new constitution. The time, however, was considered not yet come for resisting by force. They were to make an attempt to gain their objects by a solemn engagement, that after the 1st of December, 1774, no article should be imported from the mother country or her colonies; and if, by the 10th of September, 1775, their demands were not satisfied, all exports to these quarters should cease.

In the petition to the king, their expressions of duty and loyalty were strong, -more so than in the first draft which, in this respect, was considered deficient. To the people of Britain they expressed an "ardent desire to maintain the union as their greatest glory.and happiness, and to contribute with their utmost power to the welfare of the whole empire. They concluded, however, -"but if you are determined that your ministers shall wantonly sport. with the rights of mankind; if neither the voice of justice, the dictates of the law, the principles of the constitution, or the suggestions of humanity, can restrain your hands from shedding human blood in such an impious cause, we must then tell you, that we will never submit to be hewers of wood or drawers of water for any ministry or nation in the world."

The intelligence of most of these proceedings had reached Britain before the meeting of Parliament in November, 1774. The king's speech announced the violences committed in Massachusetts. and countenanced by the other colonies, declaring a resolution to withstand every attempt to weaken or impair the authority of the British legislature. This was reechoed by large majorities in both houses, though under a protest by nine lords, a proceeding very unusual on such occasions. Parliament was soon after prorogued; and ministers do not seem to have formed any fixed resolution, as they made no increase in the votes either for the army or navy. In the course of the recess, however, further intelligence being received, the determination was at length formed to employ coercive measures. As a prelude, Lord North, when the houses met on the 19th of January, 1775, laid before them a large mass of documents received from the governors of the different colonies, and which were submitted to a committee.

Lord Chatham
Lord Chatham.

On the 20th, proceedings were opened by Lord Chatham proposing an address to the king for the removal of the troops from Boston. "Something," he said, "must be done instantly; there must be no further delay-no, not for a moment; the thing might . be over; one drop of blood shed, and the wound wal! incurable." This army could serve no useful purpose, since it could never subdue the whole Ah1erican people; it was an army of impotence - an army of irritation. He again justified the colonists in resisting such measures as those imposed on them, and panegyrized the congress as having displayed a higher wisdom than the assemblies of ancient Greece; he wished the young men of Great Britain would imitate them. The oppressive acts must be repealed. "I pledge myself for it, that you will in the end repeal them. I stake my reputation on it. I wilt consent to be taken for an idiot, if they are not." 'It is better then to concede with a good grace, than to hold out till compelled by necessity. Yet he still stood for the legislative supremacy- of England, and even conceived that without it the British crown would not be worth the wearing. The motion was supported by Shelburne, Camden, Rockingham, and Richmond; but ministers urged, not without some reason, that to recede at this moment, after having gone so far, and in the face of such a daring resistance, would really amount to a complete submission, and involve the loss of all their authority.

They reproached the mover with sowing divisions, and giving eucouragement to the malecontents. The motion was negatived by sixty-eight to eighteen. Chatham, however, immediately followed it up by a bill for settling the transatlantic troubles.' It proposed to renounce the power of taxation, but to call upon Congress to acknowledge the supreme legislative power of Britain, and invite them to make a. free grant of a certain annual revenue, to be employed in meeting the charge on the national debt. All the obnoxious acts were then to be repealed. The Earl of Dartmouth was willing that it should lie on the table; but this was strongly condemned and opposed by the other members, and, after a warm debate, was negatived, though thirty,"two against sixty-one voted in its favour. Lord Camden afterwards bitterly reproached the house, that a plan coming from so high a quarter should, without examination, have been spurned and trampled upon. "Obliterate," said he, "the transaction from your records; let not posterity know it."

The minister, meantime, in a committee of the Commons, intimated his plans for coercing the colonies, by sending out an additional force, and by crushing the foreign trade and fisheries of New England. He proposed an address approving these measures, declaring Massachusetts to be in rebellion, and assuring his majesty of, full support in maintaining his just rights and those of Parliament. After some stormy debates, in which the usual arguments. were reiterated, it was carried in both houses; in the lower by. two hundred and ninety-six to one hundred and six; in the upper by eighty-seven to twenty- seven, eighteen peers protesting. This was followed, on a royal message, by an additional vote of two. thousand seamen, and four thousand four hundrea laud troops. The minister then brought into the Commons his. anti-commercial bill against New England, afterwards extended to the other colonies. This was represented as a just punishment for theIr contumacious proceedings, and only a fair retaliation of the similar course adopted by Congress. It encountered the usual opposition, Lord Camden saying: "It is a bill of war - it draws the sword." Rash and contemptuous expressions were used by members on the government side. General Grant declared that, with five regiments of infantry, he could drive them from one end of the continent to the other. Lord Sandwich described them as a raw, undisciplined, cowardly rabble, who, at the first sound of cannon, would run off as fast as their feet could carry them; their real object, he declared, was to defraud their creditors. Lord Suffolk, secretary of state, censured the use of contumelious expressions, and represented the measure to be merely temporary, with the view of bringing the Americans to their duty. It was carried, as usual, by large majorities, -one hundred and eighty-eight to fifty-eight in the one house, and seventy-three to twenty-one in the other.

After this series of coercive measures, Lord North, who had occasionally shown some symptoms of relenting, surprised the house by a conciliatory proposition. Its tenor was, that when the assembly in any colony should propose, besides maintaining its own civil government, to raise a certain revenue, and make it disposable by Parliament, it would be proper to forbear imposing any tax unless for the regulation of commerce. To these terms, it was objected by the parliamentary friends of the colonists, and afterwards by themselves, that they remedied no grievance except taxation, and even on that head contained nothing specific. It referred all to a future decision of the British legislature, in whose friendly disposition they were far from confiding. The premier had also to sustain a hot fire from his usual supporters, who branded this step as grossly inconsistent with the address and with all the other measures. He was obliged to represent that the rejection of these terms, admitted as highly probable, would at least increase the number of the well-affected, and divide the male- contents. The proposal was carried by two hundred and seventy-four to eighty-eight. Mr. Burke then brought forward, and eloquently supported, a series of resolutions, in which, without entering into any question of speculative right, a complete practical concession was made of the points in dispute. Their fate might be easily conjectured, being negatived by two hundred and seventy to seventy-eight.

The mercantile interest, however, smarting under the cessation of intercourse, adopted with ardour the cause of the colonists. On the 10th of April, an address was presented to the king by the lord mayor, aldermen, and livery of London, condemning all the late measures against the Americans, and pronouncing their resistance justifiable. A stern answer was re- turned, expressing astonishment that any subject should be capable of abetting and encouraging such rebellious courses.

The British government appears, after all, to have cherished a strong desire for pacification. Doctor Franklin being still resident in London, two gentlemen, with the consent of some of the ministry, earnestly solicited him to suggest some conciliatory plan. He drew up, under the title of "Hints," seventeen propositions, embracing of course all the demands of America, conceding payment for the tea, and certain contributions of revenue. While these were under discussion, Lord Howe procured an in traduction to him, and expressed an earnest wish for reconciliation, though he was afraid the terms would never be accepted. On the 4th of February, 1775, however, two months after their delivery, an answer was returned, agreeing, in an extent at least likely to be satisfactory, to the whole, except the abolition of the new constitution of Massachusetts. This, it was said, as being a real improvement, and as a standing example of the power of Parliament, must be continued. Franklin answered, that the claim of altering the charters and rights upon which the governments were founded, without the consent of the parties to whom they had been granted, was one which could never be submitted to. Yet another series of proposals were on the 16th of February presented from the ministry, but as they did not concede this article, the negotiation was unhappily broken up.