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ET. 44.]

FRESH ARRIVAL OF SHIPS-OF-WAR-GENERAL HOWĘ.

field near the Bowery Lane. There he was hanged in the presence, we are told, of near twenty thousand persons.

While the city was still brooding over this doleful spectacle, four ships-of-war, portentous visitants, appeared off the Hook, stood quietly in at the Narrows, and dropped anchor in the bay.

In his orderly book, Washington expressed a hope that the unhappy fate of Thomas Hickey, executed that day for mutiny, sedition, and treachery, would be a warning to every soldier in the line, to avoid the crimes for which he suffered.*

On the 29th of June, an express from the look-out on Staten Island, announced that forty sail were in sight. They were, in fact, ships from Halifax, bringing between nine and ten thousand of the troops recently expelled from Boston; together with six transports filled with Highland troops, which had joined the fleet at sea. At sight of this formidable armament standing into the harbor, Washington instantly sent notice of its arrival to Colonel James Clinton, who had command of the post in the Highlands, and urged all possible preparations to give the enemy a warm reception should they push their frigates up the river.

As a specimen of the reports which circulated throughout the country, concerning this conspiracy, we give an extract from a letter, written from Wethersfield, in Connecticut, 9th of July, 1776, by the Reverend John Marsh.

"You have heard of the infernal plot that has been dis

covered. About ten days before any of the conspirators

were taken up, a woman went to the general and desired

a private audience. He granted it to her, and she let him know that his life was in danger, and gave him such an account of the conspiracy as gained his confidence. Ho opened the matter to a few friends, on whom he could depend. A strict watch was kept night and day, until a favorable opportunity occurred; when the general went to bed as usual, arose about two o'clock, told his lady he

was a going, with some of the Provincial Congress, to order some tories seized-desired she would make herself easy, and go to sleep. He went off without any of his aides-de-camp, except the captain of his life-guard, was joined by a number of chosen men, with lanterns, and proper instruments to break open houses, and before six o'clock next morning, had forty men under guard at the City Hall, among whom was the mayor of the city, sev

eral merchants, and five or six of his own life-guard. Upon examination, one Forbes confessed that the plan was to assassinate the general, and as many of the superior officers as they could, and to blow up the magazine upon the appearance of the enemy's fleet, and to go off in boats prepared for that purpose to join the enemy. Thomas Hickey, who has been executed, went from this place. He came from Ireland a few years ago. What will be done with the mayor is uncertain. He can't be tried by courtmartial, and, it is said, there is no law of that colony by which he can be condemned. May he have his deserts."

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According to general orders issued from head-quarters on the following day (June 30), the officers and men, not on duty, were to march from their respective regimental parades to their alarm posts, at least once every day, that they might become well acquainted with them. They were to go by routes least exposed to a fire from the shipping, and all the officers, from the highest to the lowest, were to make themselves well acquainted with the grounds. Upon a signal of the enemy's approach, or upon any alarm, all fatigue parties were immediately to repair to their respective corps with their arms, ammunition, and accoutrements, ready for instant action.

It was ascertained that the ramifications of the conspiracy lately detected, extended up the Hudson. Many of the disaffected in the upper counties were enlisted in it. The committee of safety at Cornwall, in Orange County, sent word to Colonel James Clinton, Fort Constitution, of the mischief that was brewing. James Haff, a tory, had confessed before them, that he was one of a number who were to join the British troops as soon as they should arrive. It was expected the latter would push up the river and land at Verplanck's Point; whereupon the guns at the forts in the Highlands were to be spiked by soldiers of their own garrisons; and the tories throughout the country were to in arms.*

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Clinton received letters, also, from a meeting of committees in the precincts of Newburgh, apprising him that persons dangerous to the cause were lurking in that neighborhood, and requesting him to detach twenty-five men under a certain lieutenant acquainted with the woods, "to aid in getting some of these rascals apprehended and secured."

While city and country were thus agitated by apprehensions of danger, internal and external, other arrivals swelled the number of ships in the bay of New York to one hundred and thirty, men-of-war and transports. They made no movement to ascend the Hudson, but anchored off Staten Island, were they landed their troops, and the hill sides were soon whitened with their tents.

In the frigate Greyhound, one of the four ships which first arrived, came General Howe. He had preceded the fleet, in order to confer with Governor Tryon, and inform himself of the state of affairs. In a letter to his govern

*Extracts from minutes of the committee, American Archives, 4th Series, vi. 1112.

242

WASHINGTON'S PREPARATIONS-ALEXANDER HAMILTON.

[1776.

ment he writes: "I met with Governor Tryon | destined to take an active and distinguished on board of a ship at the Hook, and many gen- part in public affairs; and to leave the impress tlemen, fast friends of government, attending of his genius on the institutions of the counhim, from whom I have the fullest information | try.

of the state of the rebels. * * * * * We As General Greene one day, on his way passed the Narrows with three ships-of-war, and to Washington's head-quarters, was passing the first division of transports, landed the gren- through a field, then on the outskirts of the adiers and light infantry, as the ships came up, city, now in the heart of its busiest quarter, on this island, to the great joy of a most loyal and known as "the Park,"—he paused to notice people, long suffering on that account under the a provincial company of artillery, and was oppression of the rebels stationed among them; struck with its able performances, and with the who precipitately fled on the approach of the tact and talent of its commander. He was a shipping. ** There is great reason mere youth, apparently about twenty years of to expect a numerous body of the inhabitants age; small in person and stature, but remarkto join the army from the province of York, able for his alert and manly bearing. It was the Jerseys, and Connecticut, who, in this time Alexander Hamilton. of universal oppression, only wait for opportunities to give proofs of their loyalty and zeal."

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* * *

Washington beheld the gathering storm with an anxious eye, aware that General Howe only awaited the arrival of his brother, the admiral, to commence hostile operations. He wrote to the President of Congress, urging a call on the Massachusetts government for its quota of continental troops; and the formation of a flying camp of ten thousand men, to be stationed in the Jerseys, as a central force, ready to act in any direction as circumstances might require.

On the 2d of July, he issued a general order, calling upon the troops to prepare for a momentous conflict which was to decide their liberties and fortunes. Those who should signalize themselves by acts of bravery, would be noticed and rewarded; those who proved craven would be exposed and punished. No favor would be shown to such as refused or neglected to do their duty at so important a crisis.

CHAPTER XXV.

ABOUT this time, we have the first appearance in the military ranks of the Revolution, of one

* Governor Tryon, in a letter dated about this time from on board of the Duchess of Gordon, off Staten Island, writes: "The testimony given by the inhabitants of the island, of loyalty to his majesty, and attachment to his government, I flatter myself will be general throughout

the province, as soon as the army gets the main body of the rebels between them and the sea; which will leave all the back country open to the command of the king's friends, and yield a plentiful resource of provisions for

the army, and place them in a better situation to cut off

the rebels' retreat when forced from their stronghold." Am. Archives, 5th Series, 1. 122.

Greene was an able tactician, and quick to appreciate any display of military science; a little conversation sufficed to convince him that the youth before him had a mind of no ordinary grasp and quickness. He invited him to his quarters, and from that time, cultivated his friendship.

Hamilton was a native of the island of Nevis, in the West Indies, and at a very early age had been put in a counting-house at Santa Cruz. His nature, however, was aspiring. "I contemn the grovelling condition of a clerk to which my fortune condemns me," writes he to a youthful friend, "and would willingly risk my life, though not my character, to exalt my station. I mean to prepare the way for futurity. I am no philosopher, and may be justly said to build castles in the air; yet we have seen such schenies succeed, when the projector is constant. I shall conclude by saying, I wish there was a war.”

* * * * *

Still he applied himself with zeal and fidelity to the duties of his station, and such were the precocity of his judgment and his aptness at accounts, that before he was fourteen years of age, he was left for a brief interval during the absence of the prinicipal, at the head of the establishment. While his situation in the house gave him a practical knowledge of business, and experience in finance, his leisure hours were devoted to self-cultivation. He made himself acquainted with mathematics and chemistry, and indulged a strong propensity to literature. Some early achievements of his pen attracted attention, and showed such proof of talent, that it was determined to give him the advantage of a regular education. He was accordingly sent to Elizabethtown, in the Jerseys, in the autumn of 1772, to prepare, by a course of

ET. 44.]

HAMILTON'S EARLY DAYS GENERAL HUGH MERCER.

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studies, for admission into King's (now Colum- [ levies, specified by Congress, should arrive. bia) College, at New York. He entered the Washington had the nomination of some conticollege as a private student in the latter part nental officer to the command. He gave it to of 1773, and endeavored, by diligent application, Mercer, of whose merits he felt sure, and sent to fit himself for the medical profession. him over to Paulus Hook, in the Jerseys, to make arrangements for the Pennsylvania militia as they should come in; recommending him to Brigadier-General William Livingston, as an officer on whose experience and judgment great confidence might be reposed.

The contentions of the colonies with the mother country gave a different direction and impulse to his ardent and aspiring mind. He soon signalized himself by the exercise of his pen, sometimes in a grave, sometimes in a satirical manner. On the 6th of July, 1774, there was a general meeting of the citizens in the "Fields," to express their abhorrence of the Boston Port Bill. Hamilton was present, and, prompted by his excited feelings and the instigation of youthful companions, ventured to address the multitude. The vigor and maturity of his intellect contrasted with his youthful appearance, won the admiration of his auditors; even his diminutive size gave additional effect to his eloquence.

The war, for which in his boyish days he had sighed, was approaching. He now devoted himself to military studies, especially pyrotechnics and gunnery, and formed an ainateur corps out of a number of his fellow students, and the young gentlemen of the city. In the month of March, 1776, he became captain of artillery, in a provincial corps, newly raised, and soon, by able drilling, rendered it conspicuous for discipline.

It was while exercising his artillery company that he attracted, as we have mentioned, the attention of General Greene. Further acquaintance heightened the general's opinion of his extraordinary merits, and he took an early occasion to introduce him to the commander-inchief, by whom we shall soon find him properly appreciated.

A valuable accession to the army, at this anxious time, was Washington's neighbor, and former companion in arms, Hugh Mercer, the veteran of Culloden and Fort Duquesne. His military spirit was alert as ever; the talent he had shown in organizing the Virginia militia, and his zeal and efficiency as a member of the committee of safety, had been properly appreciated by Congress, and on the 5th of June he had received the commission of brigadier-general. He was greeted by Washington with the right-hand of fellowship. The flying camp was about forming. The committee of safety of Pennsylvania were forwarding some of the militia of that province to the Jerseys, to perform the service of the camp until the militia

Livingston was a man inexperienced in arms, but of education, talent, sagacity, and ready wit. He was of the New York family of the same name, but had resided for some time in the Jerseys, having a spacious mansion in Elizabethtown, which he had named Liberty Hall. Mercer and he were to consult together, and concert plans to repel invasions; the New Jersey militia, however, were distinct from the flying camp, and only called out for local defence. New Jersey's greatest danger of invasion was from Staten Island, where the British were throwing up works, and whence they might attempt to cross to Amboy. The flying camp was therefore to be stationed in the neighborhood of that place.

"The known disaffection of the people of Amboy," writes Washington, "and the treachery of those on Staten Island, who, after the fairest professions, have shown themselves our most inveterate enemies, have induced me to give directions that all persons of known enmity and doubtful character, should be removed from those places."

According to General Livingston's humorous account, his own village of Elizabethtown was not much more reliable, being peopled in those agitated times by "unknown, unrecommended strangers, guilty-looking tories, and very knavish whigs."

While danger was gathering round New York, and its inhabitants were in mute suspense and fearful anticipations, the General Congress at Philadelphia was discussing, with closed doors, what John Adams pronounced— "The greatest question ever debated in America, and as great as ever was or will be debated among men." The result was, a resolution passed unanimously, on the 2d of July, "that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States."

"The 2d of July," adds the same patriotic statesman, " will be the most memorable epoch in the history of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding genera

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DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.

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state of things which had long existed, but it put an end to all those temporizing hopes of reconciliation which had clogged the military action of the country.

On the 9th of July, he caused it to be read at six o'clock in the evening, at the head of each brigade of the army. "The general hopes," said he in his orders, "that this important event will serve as a fresh incentive to every officer and soldier, to act with fidelity and courage, as knowing that now the peace and safety of his country depend, under God, solely on the suc

The glorious event has, indeed, given rise to an annual jubilee, but not on the day designated by Adams. The fourth of July is the day of national rejoicing, for on that day, the "Declaration of Independence," that solemn and sub-cess of our arms; and that he is now in the lime document, was adopted. Tradition gives service of a state, possessed of sufficient power a dramatic effect to its announcement. It was to reward his merit, and advance him to the known to be under discussion, but the closed highest honors of a free country." doors of Congress excluded the populace. They awaited, in throngs, an appointed signal. In the steeple of the state-house was a bell, imported twenty-three years previously from London, by the Provincial Assembly of Pennsylvania. It bore the portentous text from Scripture: "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof." A joyous peal from that bell gave notice that the bill had been passed. It was the knell of British domination.

No one felt the importance of the event more deeply than John Adams, for no one had been more active in producing it. We quote his words written at the moinent. "When I look back to the year 1761, and recollect the argument concerning writs of assistance in the superior court, which I have hitherto considered as the commencement of the controversy between Great Britain and America, and run through the whole period from that time to this, and recollect the series of political events, the chain of causes and effects; I am surprised at the suddenness, as well as the greatness of this Revolution; Great Britain has been filled with folly, America with wisdom."

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His only regret was, that the declaration of independence had not been made sooner. "Had it been made seven months ago," said he, should have mastered Quebec, and been in possession of Canada, and might before this hour have formed alliances with foreign states. Many gentlemen in high stations, and of great influence, have been duped by the ministerial bubble of commissioners to treat, and have been slow and languid in promoting measures for the reduction of that province."

Washington hailed the declaration with joy. It is true, it was but a formal recognition of a

The excitable populace of New York were not content with the ringing of bells to proclaim their joy. There was a leaden statue of George III. in the Bowling Green, in front of the fort. Since kingly rule is at an end, why retain its effigy? On the same evening, therefore, the statue was pulled down amid the shouts of the multitude, and broken up to be run into bullets "to be used in the cause of independence."

Some of the soldiery having been implicated in this popular effervescence, Washington censured it in general orders, as having much the appearance of a riot, and a want of discipline, and the army was forbidden to indulge in any irregularities of the kind. It was his constant effort to inspire his countrymen in arms with his own elevated idea of the cause in which they were engaged, and to make them feel that it was no ordinary warfare, admitting of vulgar passions and perturbations. "The general hopes and trusts," said he, "that every officer and man will endeavor so to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier, defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country."*

CHAPTER XXVI.

THE exultation of the patriots of New York, caused by the Declaration of Independence, was soon overclouded. On the 12th of July, several ships stood in from sea, and joined the naval force below. Every nautical movement was now a matter of speculation and alarm, and all the spy-glasses in the city were incessantly reconnoitring the bay.

* Orderly book, July 9, Sparks, iii. 456.

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