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repeated modifications; each state amending its constitution or constructing a new one, according to its exigencies. As a general thing, each had a governor, with or without a council, for an executive; a council, or Senate, and a House of Representatives, for a legislature; and one or more judicial bodies for a judiciary. Indeed, the states were much more thoroughly organized than the nation.
Divisions amongst the people.
Both constitutions and declarations had arisen amidst the most distracting divisions. The differences in Congress, or amongst the leading class throughout the country, were trifling in comparison with the factions of the people as a whole. On this side were flaming patriots, who thought nothing done unless outcry and force were employed; on that were selfish and abject spirits, thinking that nothing should be done at all. Tories, or loyalists, abounded in one place; in another, rioters and marauders; every where dark plots were laid, dark deeds perpetrated. The greater was the work of those, the few, the wise, and the devoted, who led the nation through its strifes to independence.
THE war of independence naturally divides itself periods. into three periods. Of these, the first has been described in a preceding chapter, as beginning with the arming of Massachusetts, in October, 1774, and extending to the recovery of Boston, in March, 1776- a period of a year and a half, of which something less than a year, dating from the affrays at Lexington and Concord, was actually a period of war. We are now to go through the second and third periods.
of the sec
The second period is of little more than two years from April, 1776, to July, 1778. The chief ond peri- points to characterize it are these, namely, that the od. main operations were in the north, and that the Americans fought their battles without allies.
The Declaration of Independence was transmitted of the Dec- to the commander-in-chief, with the request of Conlaration. gress to "have it proclaimed at the head of the army." It was what both commander and army had been waiting for. "The general hopes" thus ran the order of the day "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 success of our
arms, and that he is now in the service of a state possessed of sufficient power to reward his merit and advance him to the highest honors of a free country," (July 9.) On the same day, Washington wrote to the president of Congress : "I caused the Declaration to be proclaimed before all the army under my immediate command, and have the pleasure to inform Congress that the measure seemed to have their most hearty assent; the expressions and behavior, both of officers and men, testifying their warmest approbation of it.” The adhesion of the army was one thing; their obedience to the inspiration which their commander suggested was another. But, for the moment, a new impulse seemed to be felt by all.
A brilliant feat of arms had preceded the decCharles- laration. The anticipated descent upon the southton. ern coast was made off Charleston, by a British force, partly land and partly naval, under the command of General Clinton and Admiral Parker. The Americans, chiefly militia, were under General Lee. Fort Sullivan,* a few miles below Charleston, became the object of attack. It was so gallantly defended, the fort itself by Colonel Moultrie, and an adjoining battery by Colonel Thomson, that the British were obliged to abandon their expedition and retire to the north, (June 28.) A long time passed before the enemy reappeared in the south.
Meanwhile Washington had transferred his quarters from Boston to New York, (April 13,) which York. he was busy in fortifying against the expected foe. Troops from Halifax, under General Howe, joined by British and Hessians under Admiral Howe, and by the discomfited forces of the southern expedition, landed at various times on Staten Island, to the number of between twenty
*Afterwards Fort Moultrie.
and thirty thousand. The number of the Americans was considerably less. After long delays, the enemy crossed to Long Island, and routed the American detachments under General Putnam, (August 27.) A speedy retreat to New York Island alone saved the Americans from a surrender. A fortnight after, the British crossed in pursuit, the advanced posts of the Americans actually flying before them, (September 15.) The city of New York was at once evacuated by Washington, who led his forces towards the north. "We are now encamped," he writes, "with the main body of the army on the Heights of Haerlem, where I should hope the enemy would meet with a defeat in case of an attack, if the generality of our troops would behave with tolerable bravery. But experience, to my extreme affliction, has convinced me that this is rather to be wished for than expected." He did not write thus without good reason. Little besides incompetency and desertion on the part of his men had attended his vain attempt to save New York.
Loss succeeded loss. Two defeats on Lake Champlain drove the Americans, under Benedict Arnold, not only from the lake, but from the fortress the lower of Crown Point, (October 11-14.) In the neighHudson. borhood of New York, Washington was obliged to abandon one position after another; the defeat of White Plains (October 28) making still farther retreat necessary. The forts upon the Hudson were presently lost; Fort Washington being taken with its garrison, (November 16,) and Fort Lee being evacuated, (November 20.) With a diminishing army, in which, moreover, he had lost his confidence, the commander-in-chief decided to fall back from the banks of the Hudson into New Jersey.
At the same time that the Americans were reNewport. treating from New York, another of their chief
towns upon the seaboard was captured. A large detach ment from the British army took possession of Newport without a blow, (December 8.) The island was overrun, and Providence blockaded.
Losses increased defections. “Between you and New Jer- me," writes Washington on his retreat, "I think our sey. affairs are in a very bad condition, not so much from the apprehension of General Howe's army, as from the defection of New York, the Jerseys, and Pennsylvania. In short, the conduct of the Jerseys has been most infamous. If every nerve is not strained, . I think the game is pretty nearly up," (December 18.) Disheartening as were the circumstances, he called around him his more faithful officers, and with them planned an achievement which seemed to require all the encouragements of prosperity and of sympathy. Followed by his handful of twenty-four hundred, while other detachments failed to keep up with him, he crossed the Delaware amid the ice and the cold of Christmas night, and on the following morning took a thousand Hessian prisoners at Trenton. The British immediately advanced against him. He could not meet them; for it would be destruction to his inferior numbers. He would not retreat before them; for it would be despair to his gallant adherents. To avoid either alternative, he marched, after a slight engagement, upon the rear of the hostile army at Princeton, (January 3.) Three hundred prisoners, the safety and the increased animation of his soldiers and his countrymen, were his reward. The only drawback was the loss of many brave spirits, amongst whom none was braver than General Mercer. Had Washington had but a few hundred fresh troops, he would have pushed on to Brunswick and destroyed the entire stores of the enemy. As it was, the rising of the militia, and the continued activity of Washington, even in his winter quarters, cleared the