History of America in 1775





Important movements in most of the colonies were made during the year 1775. There were stirring events in the city of New York. The Provincial Congress, early in its session, was strongly imbued with Toryism and timidity. Schemes for conciliation rather than for defence occupied their attention. We have seen how timidly they paid honors to Washington when he passed through the city. The same escort of honor which that Congress ordered for Washington, they ordered for Governor Tryon, who arrived at the same time, in the Asia man-of-war. The Committee of One Hundred, governed by the will of the people, soon taught the latter to be circumspect. Under their sanction the Sons of Liberty acted with extreme boldness. Captain Lamb, assisted by some of the military, and citizens led by "King" Sears, removed the cannon from the royal battery, at the foot of Broadway, to a place of safety for the use of the people. There was an encounter at that time with armed men who came from the Asia. It drew from that vessel several broadsides, which, taking no life, spread dreadful alarm. The story went abroad that the city was to be sacked and burned, and hundreds of men, women and children were seen flying in terror at midnight toward the Harlem River. The indignation of the people was so demonstrative, that Tryon, alarmed for his personal safety, fled on board a British sloop-of-war (October, 1775), from which he attempted, but in vain, to exercise royal authority, in imitation of Governor Dunmore, of Virginia. He was greatly assisted by Rivington, the publisher of a Tory newspaper in New York, in stirring up disaffection among the people. Rivington, in total disregard of truth and common fairness, abused the republicans without stint, especially Captain Sears, a native of Connecticut, but then a retired New York merchant. That patriot being in Connecticut in consultation with ardent Whigs, soon after the flight of Tryon, exasperated by some of Rivington's abuse, went to New York at the head of one hundred horsemen, and at noon-day (November, 1775) placed a guard around the printing-office of the offending Tory, demolished his presses, and putting his type into bags, left the city to the tune of Yankee Doodle in the order in which he entered it. He took with him the metal letters, which were made into bullets. Before this the Provincial Congress, yielding to public opinion, had authorized the raising of four regiments; the construction of military works at Kingsbridge, and the erection of fortifications in the Hudson Highlands. Royal government was virtually at an end in New York at the close of 1775.

The Provincial Congress of New Jersey, disregarding the authority of the royal governor (a son of Dr. Franklin), assumed all the functions of regular government with the sanction of the people. They proceeded to regulate the militia. They authorized the raising of two battalions for the Continental service to be commanded respectively by William Maxwell and William. Alexander (Lord Stirling), and the issuing of bills of credit to defray the public expenses. In Pennsylvania, through the influence of timid or wavering leaders, there was much hesitation during 1775, while Delaware, under the same executive head, took a decided stand in favor of the republican cause. Maryland, laying aside local disputes, did likewise. A Provincial Council of Safety superseded the royal government, and took vigorcus measures for sustaining the war that was begun. Comparative tranquillity prevailed during 1775 in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland, while in New York, Virginia, and all New England, the people were excited by political discord or actual hostilities within their borders.





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