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amazingly, is true. The present state of these Colonies is the admiration of all who have given attention to the progress of mankind, of arts and sciences. But was it because our trade was restricted? Was it because we have never, as men, had the full improvement of our lands and property in our power? Was it because, as societies or Governments, we had not the full and complete powers of legislation among ourselves? Let this account be fairly stated. Let us only make an experiment of an open trade for half the time we have shackled ourselves with confinement to, as it were, one port. Let us try what improvements we may be drawn into by a general correspondence with the whole worldwith people who will require from us every different article our lands, our different climates, can produce; and from whom may be had directly, at first hand, every requisite for us. Let us have access to the lowest and best market for every commodity. Let this be the case but for half the time the Colonies have already existed, and the doubts, and struggles too, concerning independence, will be at an end. Let all those people who are now groaning under oppression and poverty in Europe know that America has become an asylum for the injured, and is capable of giving encouragement to the industrious and skilful in every art and business of life; and perhaps the most sanguine expectations would fall vastly short of the multitude of honest, active, and ingenious citizens who would, in a few years, flock into this country. America has been hitherto little known abroad. Even our brethren in Britain (whom we left but a few years ago, and with whom we have a constant intercourse) know but little of us and our situation. The other parts of Europe must have been inconceivably less acquainted with it. The case is now greatly altered. Our late transactions have attracted the attention even of the common people of most of the European States. The lovers of liberty abroad have their eyes turned towards us. Even to the head of the Rhine, it is said, they applaud our virtuous efforts, and wish us success. The fruits of our success they will wish, with us, to enjoy. A free and general intercourse will throw the doors of information and opportunity open. Possibly it might not totally depopulate the Old World, but, without doubt, it would multiply the millions now in this new one. Let it be granted we have grown under the connection and dependance contended for: are we, therefore, involved in a debt even of gratitude? Be it so. What obligations, then, is Britain under to us? Our connection with them has been acknowledged to be of the utmost consequence to their tradeto their well-being. This is the language of their best writers on commerce, and of almost every act of Parliament in which America is mentioned. Before they had Colonies, what was their fleet? How great was their dependance on other nations for the most necessary articles to carry on a war, even for their own defence, and for their manufactories? It has been said by themselves that one person in America supported four in Britain . Allow one in Britain to be supported by every person in America, and so striking an instance cannot be named in which we have received benefits from her. It is not necessary to depreciate, the advantages derived from the connection; let it be only understood that they have been reciprocal, and, at least, equal on the part of Britain . This destroys the idea of any debt or any duty. As of inferiors, if a religious submission to this connection has rendered our growth and prosperity less flourishing than they would have been in a general connection, it can only be compared to the situation of a tree in a little earth between two rocks, which, though it looks fair, and grows to a certain size, yet, had it been able to spread its roots, and imbibe the nourishment of an extended soil, might soon become the largest tree in the forest.
REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE APPOINTED TO CONFER WITH GENERAL LEE.
[Brought in March 14, 1776.]
The command of the passage of the Sound must be ours. This, I imagine, is already effected by the works thrown up at Horns Hook; but as a further security, batteries and a redoubt must be erected on the other side, either on Montresors Island, or on the continent of Long-Island, as the Engineer and succeeding General shall determine. These additional works are not solely meant to shut up to the enemy the passage through the Sound, but to secure a free, open, and easy communication to our own troops, between the continent of New-York and Long-Island . As the city of New-York is almost environed by navigable waters, it is undoubtedly very difficult to fortify it against a powerful sea armament; but still I am of opinion that, although troops cannot easily be prevented landing under the guns of their shipping, they may be prevented lodging themselves in it, or converting it into a great place of arms, as they have done Boston.
The East-River, I am almost persuaded, may be secured in such a manner that their ships will scarcely venture into it, or at least they cannot keep their stations when in. A battery for this purpose is planned, and in some forwardness, at the foot of the Jews Burying-Ground. To protect this battery from the near approach of ships, (which, when close, are always supposed to be an overmatch for batteries level with the water, and in a low situation,) guns in barbet, placed on the heights of the Jews Burying-Ground, when in correspondence with a battery I have ordered on an opposite commanding knoll in Long-Island, will certainly be sufficient. These two fires will likewise be crossed by a third, of a very considerable range, from a work in the front of our intrenched camp on Long-Island; which work is likewise answered by a battery sunk in a cellar on the opposite wharf. Such is our plan with respect to the East-River.
Having attentively examined the fort and great batteries under it, and considered whether they could be of any possible use to us, I am of opinion that, as ships of great burden can approach so near the latter, it will be dangerous, if not impracticable, to support them. The fort cannot, for the same reason, be defended. But although it is not possible, in our hands, to render it a fortification of offence against the enemy, it might, in their possession, be converted into a citadel, to keep the town in subjection. These considerations have induced me to throw down the Northeast and North-west Bastions, with the communicating curtain; so that, being entirely open behind, and a commanding traverse thrown across the Broadway, with three guns mounted, it is impossible for the enemy to lodge themselves in and repair the fort.
The North-River is so extremely wide and deep that it is in vain to think of any means to prevent the men-of-war commanding the navigation of it; but it does not appear to me that they have it in their power to annoy dangerously the town, much less to destroy it. It is true an accidental shell may do great mischief; but the effects of their cannon are not, I think, much to be apprehended, for there is a most fortunate ridge or eminence, which not only serves as a screen of protection for the town, but on which any number of batteries may be erected, to keep the ships at a distance.
I must observe, once for all, that New-York, from its circumstances, can with difficulty be made a regular tenable fortification; but it may be made a most advantageous field of battleso advantageous, indeed, that if our people behave with common spirit, and the commanders are men of discretion, it must cost the enemy many thousands of men to get possession of it. The streets must be traversed and barricaded, so as to prevent their coming on our flanks; and three redoubts thrown up on the three eminences: Judge Joness, Bayards Hill, and either Lispenards or Haldermans house, on Hudsons River . But these measures are not to be confined to the town. The whole Island is to be redoubted in certain regular steps, if I may so express it, quite to Kings Bridge . These redoubts, redans, or fliches, are easily thrown up, and are no expense.
The leading roads from Hudsons River, whence the enemy can alone approach, must be obstructed to artillery. Kings Bridge must be strongly fortified, to preserve the communication, free and open with Connecticut, on which Province you can alone depend for succors of men; for the breadth and depth of the North-River renders the communication with Jersey too precarious.
The possession and security of Long-Island is certainly of still greater importance than New-York . I have accordingly marked out a camp, fortified by a chain of redoubts, mutually supporting each other, and which, also corresponding with the batteries on the New-York side, will prevent the enemys entering or remaining in the East-River . This