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THE

AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

EPOCH THIRD.

AMERICA DECLARES ITSELF INDEPENDENT.

1774-1776.

AMERICA DECLARES ITSELF INDEPENDENT.

CHAPTER I.

AMERICA, BRITAIN AND FRANCE, IN MAY, 1774.

May, 1774.

I.

May.

THE hour of the American Revolution was come. CHAP. The people of the continent with irresistible energy obeyed one general impulse, as the earth in spring 1774. listens to the command of nature, and without the appearance of effort bursts forth to life in perfect harmony. The change which Divine wisdom ordained, and which no human policy or force could hold back, proceeded as uniformly and as majestically as the laws of being, and was as certain as the decrees of eternity. The movement was quickened, even when it was most resisted; and its fiercest adversaries worked together effectually for its fulfilment. The indestructible elements of freedom in the colonies asked room for expansion and growth. Standing in manifold relations with the governments, the culture, and the experience of the past, the Americans seized

I.

CHAP. as their peculiar inheritance the traditions of liberty.

Beyond any other nation they had made trial of the 1774. possible forms of popular representation; and reMay.

spected the activity of individual conscience and thought. The resources of the vast country in agriculture and commerce, forests and fisheries, mines and materials for manufactures, were so diversified and complete, that their development could neither be guided nor circumscribed by a government beyond the ocean; the numbers, purity, culture, industry, and daring of its inhabitants proclaimed the existence of a people, rich in creative energy, and ripe for institutions of their own.

They were rushing towards revolution, and they knew it not. They refused to acknowledge even to themselves the hope that was swelling within them; and yet they were possessed by the truth, that man holds inherent and indefeasible rights; and as their religion had its witness coeval and coextensive with intelligence, so in their political aspirations they deduced from universal principles a bill of rights, as old as creation and as wide as humanity. The idea of freedom had never been wholly unknown; it had always revealed itself at least to a few of the wise, whose prophetic instincts were quickened by love of their kind; its rising light flashed joy across the darkest centuries; and its growing energy can be traced in the tendency of the ages. In America it was the breath of life to the people. For the first time it found a region and a race, where it could be professed with the earnestness of an indwelling conviction, and be defended with the enthusiasm that heretofore had marked no wars but those for religion. When all Europe slumbered over questions

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