The Olive Branch Petition - North American Colonies

Taken from The British Empire in the Nineteenth Century (1898) by Edgar Sanderson

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had fallen, and the blood of the colonists was now at fever-heat. Gage was hemmed in at Boston by twenty thousand men; the forts of Crown Point and Ticonderoga were taken, and on May 10th, 1775, the Congress of the Colonies met at Philadelphia. The famous Olive Branch Petition to the British king was adopted, but George refused to receive a document emanating from an unlawful assembly; he would not recognize a "Congress", but would receive the submission of "Colonies". Washington, meanwhile, had been appointed commander-in-chief of the colonial forces, and the battle of Bunker's Hill, near Boston, though it was a defeat for the Americans, greatly encouraged the colonies, whose untrained men had killed or wounded more than one thousand choice British troops at a cost to themselves of less than half the number.

The civil war had begun, and on July 4th, 1776, the Congress at Philadelphia adopted the renowned Declaration of Independence, drawn up by a committee composed of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingstone. The resolution was carried at two o'clock, while the streets of Philadelphia were crowded with anxious people. In the steeple of the old State House was a bell on which, by a happy coincidence, was inscribed, "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof". When the glad tidings came from the place of assembly, a boy, posted below by the ringer, clapped his hands and shouted out "Ring! Ring!" The iron clapper did its work; the streets rang with shouts of applause, every steeple took up the peal, and the night drew on with blazing bonfires and booming cannon, proclaiming to the world, as events were to prove, the advent of a new nation. It would be an ungracious task to pursue in detail the momentous contest, happily unique in British history, which was now to be waged. Citizens of the United States of America were, during the year 1892, visitors to the number of eighteen thousand at the tomb of Shakespeare in the grand old church of Stratford-on-Avon. There, and in the great Abbey, "where so many enmities lie buried", the men and women of two mighty nations meet on the common ground of associations fraught with deathless interest and renown, and have long since agreed to inter there all bitter memories of the past.

The chief reputation created during this conflict between the mother-country and her daughter-states was that of Washington. … continue reading »

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