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to cannonade it last week. We have two thousand men before it, and plenty of stores, which have arrived here this winter, the want of which has hitherto prevented our doing anything. The frequent threats of Ministerialists, and the late arrival of Clinton at New-York, have put that Province in a warlike posture. The women, children, and most of their valuable effects, are removed into the country; the town possessed and fortified by batteries and breastworks, and five thousand men who are constantly at work; so that in a short time it will be very strong. There are also fifteen or twenty thousand men ready to go to their assistance on a very short notice; so that every hour after the first twenty-four of any alarm will produce hundreds of well-armed men.
Rhode-Island is pestered by Wallace and his ships, who hardly ever lands but he loses more or less of his men. He carries on the war in a very piratical manner. Every now and then he lands to steal sheep, &c, at which time, if he can, he burns houses, and murders the helpless, not daring to wait; and as soon as he sees any of our armed men coming, he flies.
Pennsylvania is still unattacked, but preparing for the worst. Our river is defended by chevaux-de-frise sunk in the channel, (on which no less than three vessels have been sunk by carelessness of pilots;) a very large and strong chain; a battery; a twenty-gun ship; a large floating-battery, to carry twenty eighteen-pounders; and thirteen row-galleys, with an eighteen-pounder in their bows, and fifty men properly provided for in each; three battalions of Regulars; and from thirty to forty thousand Militia.
Nothing has happened in Virginia since the entire destruction of Norfolk; but they are there, as well as in North and South-Carolina, preparing for the most vigorous defence, and, by the month of April, will have thirty or forty thousand men ready to take the field, all which will act jointly or separately, as exigencies may require. Amongst these are a great number of riflemen. But where are your resources? say you. Money we have sufficient. By our industry abroad, we have got safely landed in different parts of this Continent (notwithstanding the low arts of the Ministry, and all their men-of-war) upwards of one hundred tons of powder, one hundred and fifty tons of saltpetre, and a large quantity of small-arms, which will supply us for the first part of the campaign. For the other, we expect to be under no obligations to any State on earth for the stores, &c.
At New-York we have a founder, who has already cast fourteen or fifteen excellent brass field-pieces. We have a foundry for iron ordnance, from twenty-four-pounders to swivels. As to iron shot, we have plenty, and, on a pinch, could supply the whole world; and as for small-arms, we are not at the least loss, except for the locks, in which branch there will soon be a great number of hands employed. The means made use of to introduce the manufacture of saltpetre have met with the desired success; so that the women make it in many parts of the country. From the various accounts, we shall, by midsummer, have thirty or forty tons, or more, of our own manufacture. In one manufactory, they make fifty hundred weight per week. At New-bury, in New-England, they make at least one hundred pounds per day; in short, it is now as easy to make saltpetre as it is to make soft-soap.* As to brimstone and lead, the bowels of our country produce more than sufficient for a war of one thousand years.
In a short time we shall have at least thirty ships-of-war, from thirty-eight guns downwards, besides (if the Ministry carry on their piratical war) a great number of privateers. When you return, you will be surprised to see what the Mother of Invention has done for us. I really believe, if we are harassed for one year more, we shall not want anything from Europe.
The Ministry have often unjustly accused us of looking after independency; but what they pretend to dread, their measures will, in a short time, bring forth. Common Sense, which I herewith send you, is read by all ranks; and, as many as read, so many become converted; though, perhaps, the hour before were most violent against the least idea of independence. This summers campaign will, I make no doubt, set us free from the shackles of education; and the King of Britain, instead of being the idol of Americans, will be of little more importance here than to frighten little children.
You will see by the papers that our people have opened their batteries on Boston, which is destined to the flames. I wish I could convey to you a small idea of the ardour which inflames our young men, who turn out with more alacrity, on the least alarm, than they would to a ball.
I am yours, &c.
TO THE PEOPLE OF PENNSYLVANIA.LETTER II.
As I propose to take my subjects as they rise out of the times, I shall leave to my next letter the further defence of our Assembly, to give room for a matter of very great importance, agreeable to what was hinted in the conclusion of my first letter.
The account which we have already received of Commissioners being appointed in England, and ready to enbark for America, in order to negotiate a settlement of the present unhappy differences, has engaged the attention, and exercised the speculations of many among us. The powers with which they are to be invested, the manner in which they are to be received, how they are to be treated with, or whether they are to be treated with at all, have been canvassed agreeably to the different views or judgments of individuals.
Among others, a writer under the name of Cassandra, in the Pennsylvania Evening Post of last Saturday week, has held forth sentiments which I conceive highly disgraceful to America, and pernicious to society in general. He pretends to have satisfied himself (but upon what grounds I know not) that the sole view of the Administration in this commission is, to amuse and deceiveto bribe and corrupt us. And because he supposes all of us so very corruptible, he proposes, by way of prevention, to seize the Commissioners upon their first setting foot on shore, and bring them immediately, under a strong guard, to the Congress. I have too good an opinion of the virtue and good sense of my countrymen, to think they will pay any other regard to this advice than to consider the author as an enthusiast or madman.
The contest in which we are engaged is founded on the most noble and virtuous principles which can animate the mind of man. We are contending, at the risk of our lives and fortunes, against an arbitrary Ministry for the rights of Englishmen . The eyes of all Europe are upon us, and every generous bosom in which the pulse of liberty yet beats, sympathises with us, and is interested in our success. Our cause, therefore, being the cause of virtue, it will be expected that all our steps should be guided by it, and that, where the stock is -so fair, the fruit will be proportionably perfect. Let us not disappoint these sanguine expectations by the smallest deviation from those liberal and enlarged sentiments which should mark the conduct of freemen; and, when the faithful historick page shall record the events of this glorious struggle, may not a single line in the bright annals be stained by the recital of a disgraceful action, nor future Americans have cause to blush for the failings of their ancestors.
I trust that there is not such another barbarian among us as Cassandra . I am sure there are none such among our savage neighbours. To what is it that he would persuade us? To receive with contempt, and treat with insult, men commissioned to negotiate with us about matters of the highest concern to America, and at least professing peacepersons clothed with the character of Ambassadors, which has been uniformly esteemed sacred by every nation and in every age!
Can a precedent be produced in any country, or at any period, which could be proposed for our imitation, or give countenance to such a proceeding? Let this writer turn over the volumes which establish the principles of the Law of Nations. Let him search the history of every State, both ancient and modern, civilized and uncivilized. He will find none so fierce and rude as not to reverence the rights of Ambassadors, and consider any insult of their persons as the grossest outrage that could be committed. Nay, let him inquire among the numerous tribes of Indians that surround our frontiers for some example to countenane
* For every old woman in America could make soft-soap formerly and as easily now as the Americans can at present make saltpetre, find brimstone, or, in fact, stand up for the essential liberties of England and its once hallowed dominions.