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CHAP. III, England, on constitutional principles, as the greatest blessing which could be bestowed on them.
But Britain had determined to maintain, by force, the legislative supremacy of Parliament; and America had determined, by force, to repel the claim.
COLONEL WASHINGTON APPOINTED COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF
1774. Colonel Wash
Chief of the
ROM the period of his marriage, the attentions of Colonel CHAP. IV. Washington, who had retired to Mount Vernon, were for several years principally directed to the management of his estate, which had now become considerable, and which he greatly improved. He continued, however, a most respected forces. member of the legislature of his country, in which he took an early and a decided part in the opposition made to the principle of taxation asserted by the British Parliament. He was chosen by the independent companies formed through the northern parts of Virginia to command them; and was elected a member of the first Congress that met at Philadelphia, in which body he was very soon distinguished as the Soldier of America. He was placed on all those committees whose duty it was to make arrangements for defence; and when it became necessary to ap
CHAP. IV. point a commander in chief, his military character, the solidity of his judgment, the steady firmness of his temper, the dignity of his person and deportment, the confidence inspired by his patriotism and integrity, and the independence of his circumstances, combined with that policy which actuated New England, and induced a wish to engage the southern colonies cordially in the war, to designate him in the opinion of all as the person to whom the destinies of his country should be confided.
He was unanimously chosen "General and Commander in Chief of the army of the United Colonies, and all the forces now raised or to be raised by them *."
When, the next day, the President communicated this appointment to him, he modestly answered, that though truly sensible of the high honour done him, yet he felt great distress, from a consciousness that his abilities and military experience might not be equal to the extensive and important trust. However, as the Congress desired it, he would enter upon the momentous duty, and exert every power he possessed in their service, and for support of the glorious cause. He begged them to accept his cordial thanks for this distinguished testimony of their approbation, and then added, "But least some unlucky
*Artemus Ward, of Massachussetts, who had commanded the troops before Boston; Colonel Lee, a British officer, who had distinguished himself in Portugal, but had resigned his commission in the service of the king; Philip Schuyler, of New York; and Israel Putnam, of Connecticut, now also before Boston; were appointed to the rank of major-generals; and Mr. Horatio Gates, who had held the rank of a major in the British service, was appointed adjutant-general.
event should happen unfavourable to my reputation, I beg it CHAP. IV. may be remembered by every gentleman in the room, that I this day declare, with the utmost sincerity, I do not think myself equal to the command I am honoured with."
He declined all compensation for his services, and avowed an intention to keep an exact account of his expences, which he should rely on Congress to discharge.
A special commission was made out for him*, and a solemn resolution
* The delegates of the United Colonies of New Hampshire, Massachussetts' Bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the counties of Newcastle, Kent, and Sussex on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina.
To George Washington, Esquire.
We, reposing special trust and confidence in your patriotism, valour, conduct, and fidelity, do, by these presents constitute and appoint you to be General and Commander in Chief of the army of the United Colonies, and of all the forces now raised, or to be raised by them, and of all others who shall voluntarily offer their service, and join the said army for the defence of American liberty, and for repelling every hostile invasion thereof. And you are hereby invested with full power and authority to act as you shall think for the good and welfare of the
And we do hereby strictly charge and require all officers and soldiers under your command to be obedient to your orders, and diligent in the exercise of their several duties.
And we also enjoin and require you to be careful in executing the great trust reposed in you, by causing strict discipline and order to be observed in the army, and that the soldiers be duly exercised and provided with all convenient necessaries.
And you are to regulate your conduct in every respect by the rules and discipline
CHAP. IV. resolution was unanimously entered into, declaring, that Congress would maintain, assist, and adhere to him as the General and Commander in Chief of the forces raised, or to be raised for the maintenance and preservation of American liberty, with their lives and fortunes.
He prepared, without delay, to enter upon the arduous duties of his station, and having passed a few days in New York, where General Schuyler commanded, and where several very important arrangements were to be made, he proceeded with the utmost dispatch to Cambridge, which was the head quarters of the American army.
As all orders of men concurred in approving his appointment, all concurred in expressing the satisfaction that event had given them, and their determination to afford him the most entire support; yet the address from the provincial Congress of New York seemed to disclose some jealousy, even at that time, entertained of the danger to which liberty was exposed from a military force, and the very expression of their confidence
of war, (as herewith given you), and punctually to observe and follow such orders and directions from time to time as you shall receive from this or a future Congress of these United Colonies, or Committee of Congress.
This commission to continue in force until revoked by this or a future Con
*After expressing their joy at his appointment, the address proceeds to say, "We have the fullest assurances, that whenever this important contest thall be decided by that fondest wish of every American soul, an accommodation with our mother country, you will chearfully resign the important deposit committed into your hands, and re-assume the character of our worthiest citizen."