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CHAPTER   I   II   III   IV   V   VI   VII   VIII   IX   X   XI   XII   XIII   XIV   XV   XVI   XVII   XVIII   XIX   XX   XXI  ]

 

 

 

CHAPTER X.

 

THE FIRST YEARS OF TILE REVOLUTION.

 

The "Friends of Liberty" — Patriotism of the "Guilfordites" — The Westminster Resolutions — The New York Provincial Congress — "County Congress" at Westminster — Deputies from Cumberland County — Proceedings in Gloucester County — Town Associations in Behalf of Freedom — Efforts to Increase the Military Force of New York — Convention at Westminster — The Militia of Cumberland and Gloucester Counties — Troubles Incident to the Choice of Officers — Efforts to allay Discontent — Dorset Convention — Loan from the Pro­vincial Congress — Jacob Bayley chosen Brigadier-General — Methods of Govern­ment adopted in the absence of Fixed Laws — Powers of the Committee of Safety of Cumberland County — Instructions to Delegates — Letter to the New York Provincial Congress — July Meeting of Cumberland County Committee of Safety — Name of New York Provincial Congress changed — Supplies of Gun­powder, Lead, and Flints — Value of Lead — Rangers — Joab Hoisington's Com­mission as Major of the Rangers — Under-Officers Nominated — Proposition to make the "Grants" a Separate District — Views of the Inhabitants of Cumber­land County on the Subject — Stevens and Sessions's Declarations in the New York Convention — Report upon the Condition of Cumberland County — Pre­parations to meet Gen. Carleton — Divisions in the Cumberland County Com­mittee of Safety — Separation from New York inevitable.

 

THE events of the 13th of March were an expression of the dislike of the majority of the inhabitants of Cumberland county to the policy of Great Britain. The determination manifested on that occasion they were not prepared to alter in the least, unless sufficient reason for a change should be given. The governmental representatives of the mother country on their part evinced no conciliatory disposition, and, thenceforth, oppo­sition to oppression was the guiding principle of the "Friends of Liberty." Meetings were held in many of the larger towns, at which the conduct of those who had been prominent in stopping the courts at Westminster was highly applauded. A spirit of hearty cooperation, the earnest of success, was every­where apparent. Though the path of revolution was often‑

 

 

 

1775.]                  PATRIOTISM OF THE "GUILFORDITES."                 243

 

times shrouded in darkness, yet, from that period, each step in it was a step forward.

On the 28th of March, the people of Guilford assembled in town meeting and manifested their willingness to remain under the jurisdiction of New York, by voting that they would "be subject to the laws of that government" to which they had been annexed by the Crown. At the same time they directed the town committee of safety to decide whether those who had received commissions from Governor Tryon should retain or resign them. On the 7th of April the subject was taken from the hands of the committee, and the holders of the obnoxious commissions were desired to return them, or declare their prin­ciples in such a manner as would leave no doubt of their posi­tion.* Concert and expeditiousness in action were then, as now, regarded as the secrets of success. It was the acknowledgment of this truth that led the "Guilfordites" to guard against internal division and petty strife. "We recommend to the inhabitants of this town," said they, "that they take all proper measures for unity one with another, and that no man cast any reflections one upon another, which will surely create discord and disagreement; and, by dividing, we shall surely come to destruction." "We recommend to the people as aforesaid, that every person hold himself in an habitual and actual readiness on any emergency whatsoever; and every man to appear at a minute's warning, and then and there choose officers to lead us, according to the instruction of our elders and committee."†

The influence of Ethan Allen and his followers, which in Bennington and the vicinity had led the settlers under New Hampshire titles to maltreat those who held grants from New York, began now to exert its effect on the other side of the Green mountains. At a meeting of committees from Cumber­land and Gloucester counties, held at Westminster on the 11th of April, resolutions were passed which bore evidences of disaf­fection towards the colonial government of New York. It is

 

* "Voted, that we recommend to all those Persons in this Town who have re­ceived Commissions under Governor Tryon, that they Resign said Commissions, or Erase their names out of a Certain Covenant, Signed by the body of the People, to mitigate or Soften the minds of the People." — Votes and Proceedings of the Town of Guilford, 1775, in Brattleborough Semi-Weekly Eagle, Thursday, June 20th, 1850.

† These recommendations were passed on the 20th of April. On the 3d of May following, the people assembled again in town meeting, and completed the organization of the town militia, by the appointment of officers.

 

 

 

244                          HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.                  [1775.

 

"our opinion," these committees declared, "that our inhabit­ants are in great danger of having their property unjustly, cruelly, and unconstitutionally taken from them by the arbitrary and designing administration of the government of New York, sundry instances having already taken place; that the lives of those inhabitants are in the utmost hazard and imminent danger under the present administration, witness the malicious and horrid massacre of the 13th ultimo; that it is the duty of said inhabitants, as predicated on the eternal and immutable law of self-preservation, to wholly renounce and resist the administration of the government of New York, till such time as the lives and property of those inhabitants may be secured by it, or till such time as they can have opportunity to lay their grievances before his most gracious Majesty in Council, together with a proper remonstrance against the unjustifiable conduct of that government, with an humble petition to be taken out of so oppressive a jurisdiction, and either annexed to some other government or erected and incorporated into a new one, as may appear best to the said inhabitants, to the royal wisdom and clemency, and till such time as his Majesty shall settle this controversy." In connection with these proceedings Col. John Hazeltine, Charles Phelps, and Col. Ethan Allen were appointed to pre­pare a remonstrance and petition embodying the sentiments entertained by the committees. Such was the action of the convention on this occasion. But when, in the course of the fol­lowing months, it was ascertained that all the provinces were in a similar situation on account of the tyranny of Great Britain, the inhabitants of the two counties willingly joined with the rest of the inhabitants of New York in aggressive and repulsive endeavor; and it was not until the idea of forming the New Hampshire Grants into an independent state, had seized upon the mass of the community, that they ceased to cooperate with the province to which they rightly belonged. Even then there were some who considered themselves as subjects of New York, and these, through many years of confiscation and statutory inhibition, maintained with sacredness their allegiance to that state.*

In conformity with the course adopted in most of the colonies, a Provincial Convention was held in the city of New York, on the 20th of April, at which delegates from nine counties were

 

* Slade's Vt. State Papers, p. 60. American Archives, Fourth Series, 1775, vol. ii. col. 315.

 

 

 

1775.]                THE NEW YORK PROVINCIAL CONGRESS.               245

 

in attendance. Cumberland and Gloucester were not represented. The session lasted three days. Soon after its close circular letters were dispatched to all the counties in the province, notifying the project of establishing a Provincial Congress. Pursuant to this call, deputies from different parts of the pro­vince assembled at the Exchange in the city of New York, on the 22d of May, and on the following day a Provincial Congress was formed, and Peter Van Brugh Livingston was elected presi­dent. Owing, in a measure, to the sparseness of population, the inhabitants of Cumberland had been delayed in sending dele­gates to the Convention. For the purpose of obviating any trouble which might ensue from this neglect, a "County Con­gress" was convoked at Westminster, on the 6th of June.* Col. Hazeltine, who was chairman on this occasion, stated that it was the desire of the committee of correspondence in the city of New York to know fully the sentiments of the inhabit­ants of the county "with regard to the hostile measures that are using by the British Parliament to enforce the late cruel, unjust, and oppressive acts of the said British Parliament through the British Colonies in America."

In answer to this inquiry, the convention, expressing "the voice of the people," declared by their resolutions the illegality of the acts of parliament which had been lately passed in order to raise a revenue in America, and denounced them as opposed to the Bill of Rights and to a fundamental principle of the British Constitution, which did not allow any person to be deprived of his property without his consent, unless he had previously forfeited it by his misdeeds. They also resolved, in conjunction with their brethren in America, to "resist and oppose" these obnoxious acts at the expense of their "lives and fortunes" and "to the last extremity," provided duty to God and their coun­try should require it. They expressed their acquiescence in the conduct of their friends in the city of New York, and agreed

 

* At a previous session of the "Congress," held at Westminster, James Clay, John Barrett, Solomon Phelps, and Elkanah Day had been appointed a committee to examine into the monetary affairs of the county. In their report, rendered on the 4th of June, they stated that it would be necessary for those towns which were yet in arrears to pay up their taxes "in order to do justice to the treasurer, Ben­jamin Burt, and committee for building the court-house and jail." "The good people of the county," observe the committee, "may rely upon it, that said money to be collected, will not go to satisfie the demands of Samuel Wells and Crean Brush, Esquires, but it will be put to the real interest of the county, in paying its just debts."

 

 

 

246                          HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.                  [1775.

 

to abide by the principles which they had taken as a basis of action. In view of the "very broken situation" of the county, as regarded civil authority, they asked for advice from the Provincial Congress, touching the measures which would be potent in restoring "order and regularity." Owing to their defence­less condition, and the inefficiency consequent thereupon, they desired that arms and ammunition might be given them. "We have," said they, "many brave soldiers, but, unhappily for us, we have nothing to fight with." As a full endorsement of the efforts which were then being made to establish concerted action, Col. John Hazeltine of Townshend, Dr. Paul Spooner of Hertford, and Maj. William Williams of Westminster, were chosen delegates to represent the county in the New York Provincial Congress.*

Soon after their appointment they proceeded to New York to engage in the duties incident to their position. They were the bearers of a letter from Col. Hazeltine containing an account of the late "Congress." This communication, fraught with patriotic sentiments, was written in behalf of the committees who had assembled at Westminster, and was directed to Peter Van Brugh Livingston, the president of the Provincial Congress. One of its paragraphs was in these words:—  "We detest and abhor these arbitrary, tyrannick, and sanguinary measures, which the British Parliament are most industriously pursuing against the American Colonies, in order to dragoon them into compliance with certain late detestable acts of Parliament replete with horrour, and repugnant to every idea of British freedom, and which have a direct tendency to reduce the free and brave Americans into a state of the most abject slavery and vassal­age." "You may rely upon it," observed the patriotic writer, in closing, "that our people in general are spirited, resolute, and active in the defence of our dear-bought rights and liber­ties, and will not flinch, if called, generously to spill our blood to oppose and resist ministerial tyranny and oppression."

Another letter entrusted to the delegates contained an offer from Maj. William Williams, Maj. Benjamin Wait, and Capt. Joab Hoisington, the last two of Windsor, to serve respectively as Colonel, Lieutenant-Colonel, and Major of a regiment of militia. "Glowing with true martial ardour, and willing, with

 

* Journal N. Y. Prov. Cong., i. 1, 5, 7. Am. Arch., Fourth Series, 1775, vol. cols. 351, 918, 919, 1241, 1242. Credentials of Delegates, in office Sec. State, N. Y., 1775, p. 103.

 

 

 

1775.]                THE NEW YORK PROVINCIAL CONGRESS.               247

 

the utmost cheerfulness and alacrity, to unsheath the sword in defence of the lives and properties of the good people" of the "ancient and truly respectable patriotick colony of New York;" seeing also that hostilities had already commenced, and that the sword had been actually drawn, they advised the formation of a regiment "of good, active, enterprising soldiers," in order "to keep under proper subjection regulars, Roman Catholicks, and the savages at the northward," and to defend their own rights and privileges "against ministerial tyranny and oppression." In case they should receive the appointments for which they sought in the proposed regiment, they promised to be "entirely under the command and order of the Provincial Congress," and flattered themselves that in such a position they would prove useful instruments in serving the "ancient and honourable colony of New York."*

Soon after the circular letter of the Provincial Convention of New York was received in Gloucester county, the people assembled and chose Jacob Bayley of Newbury to represent them in the Provincial Congress. On the 29th of June Bayley informed the Congress by letter that, on account of the great distance between Newbury and New York, and the exposed situation of the northern settlements, his friends did not deem it proper for him to attend the session until they should be "prepared to meet with an enemy at home." A county committee was also formed, and sub-committees were chosen in each town and precinct. "The county seems to be very well united and firm in the cause of liberty," wrote John Taplin, on the 15th of July, "and I make no doubt but they will cheerfully join in whatever measures and directions the honourable Con­gress may point out from time to time."†

On the 21st of June, the delegates from Cumberland county took their seats in the Provincial Congress. Hazeltine remained only three days, but Williams and Spooner were present until the close of the session. The latter gentlemen, having given previous notice of their intention, laid before the Congress on the 7th of July, an account of the condition of the county which they represented. The nature or purport of their remarks is not known, but from a minute in the records of the Congress, it appears that when they had concluded their observations, a com-

 

* Journal N. Y. Prov. Cong., i. 95; ii. 53.

† Journal N. Y. Prov. Cong., ii. 50, 60. Am. Arch., Fourth Series, 1775 , vol. cols. 934, 935, 938, 939.

 

 

 

248                          HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.                  [1775.

 

mittee was chosen "to receive information of the members of that county and of any other persons, of the state of that county, and report thereon to this Congress." The Congress adjourned on the 8th of July, but a committee of safety was chosen to act during the recess, and John Morin Scott was appointed to represent Cumberland county in the absence of the regular delegates. He was present but twice during the recess. Fortunately no business was transacted which demanded his especial attention.*

Meanwhile the dwellers on both sides of the Green moun­tains were endeavoring to enlist soldiers and establish an efficient militia. Means were also taken to improve every opportunity which could be made use of, to advance the safety of the community. The committee of correspondence in the town of Northfield, Massachusetts, informed the Council at Boston, on the 26th of June, that there were "two small cannon be­longing to the Massachusetts Bay" at Fort Dummer, which were left there when that garrison was dismantled, and one at Fort Hinsdale. These they offered to convey to the army on the western frontier, provided ordnance should be wanted in that section. In Townshend, through the activity of Col. John Hazeltine, fifty-one persons signed an agreement on the 12th of July, binding themselves to maintain and disseminate the principles of American liberty, and adopting as their rules of action the resolutions passed and promulged by the Continental Congress during the months of September and October, 1774. A similar association, with the same number of members, was formed at Springfield on the 26th of July, and on the 31st of the same month twenty-one of the twenty-four freeholders of Weathersfield united in completing a similar organization.† About the same period, Capt. Elisha Benedict of Albany, by the direction of the New York Provincial Congress, was en­gaged in forming military companies in Cumberland county,

 

* Journal N. Y. Prov. Cong., i. 49, 51, 69-71, 82, 86. Am. Arch., Fourth Series, 1775, vol. ii., cols. 1309, 1314, 1345, 1348, 1777, 1793, 1798.

† In Townshend the association was signed by all the citizens then in the place. Those out of town were Samuel Fletcher, Benjamin Moredock, Oliver Moredock, Aaron Johnson, Samuel Parkis, Thomas Barns, and Ebenezer Burt, who were "in the service at Roxbury, under Gen. Washington." The names of those who refused to sign the association subscribed in Weathersfield, were John Marsh, Joseph Marsh, and John Marsh, Jr. — Associations and Miscellaneous Papers, in office Sec. State N. Y., 1775, xxx. 56, 78, 140. Journal N. Y. Prov Cong., i. 228.

 

 

 

1775.]                                         A MILITIA BILL.                                        249

 

which were to be comprised in two regiments, called the upper and lower, and were to serve in the provincial, or, as it was afterwards designated, the state line.*

After an interval of nearly three weeks, the Provincial Con­gress of New York assembled on the 26th of July. On the same day a convention was held at Westminster, and the delegates from Cumberland, who had been previously appointed to represent that county in the Provincial Congress, were impowered to act singly, "in as ample and full a manner," as if all were present. With a certificate to this effect, signed by James Clay, the temporary chairman of the convention, William Williams appeared in New York, and on the 12th of August took his seat in the Provincial Congress as the representative from Cumberland. In order to make the military force of the province more effective, a militia bill, reported by Anthony Hoffman of Dutchess county, was adopted by the Congress on the 22d of August. By its provisions, the whole province was to be divided into districts, and each district was to furnish one company, "ordinarily to consist of about eighty-three able-bodied and effective men, officers included, between sixteen and sixty years of age." The companies were to be formed into regiments, the regiments into six brigades. One of these brigades, the sixth, was to comprise "the militia of the counties of Charlotte, Cumberland, and Gloucester."† On the 2d of September, last day of the session, the gunpowder which had been imported and was then in store for the use of the pro­vince, was divided among the different counties. The portion assigned to Cumberland was one hundred pounds. During the recess which followed Williams remained in New York, and was a member of the committee of safety. He was also

 

* Revolution, Military, in office Sec. State Mass., 1775-1783, p. 270. Am. Arch., Fourth Series, 1775, vol. ii., col. 1796; vol. iii., col. 620. Journal N. Y. Prov. Cong., i. 84, 95; ii. 53, 54, 68. See Appendix, containing a LIST OF THE CIVIL AND MILITARY OFFICERS OF CUMBERLAND AND GLOUCESTER COUNTIES.

† An imperfect military organization had been effected in the province of New York before the passage of this bill, and the office of brigadier-general for the brigade, which it was then in contemplation to establish in the north-eastern part of the province, had been offered on the 31st of May previous, to Col. James Rogers of Kent (now Londonderry). He refused the trust "upon political principles." He afterwards became a Tory and left the country. His possessions in Kent were, in the year 1778, confiscated; but in the years 1795 and 1797, James Ro­gers Jr. obtained from the Legislature of Vermont possession of all the lands in that town which had been owned by his father and were then unsold. — Journal N. Y. Prov. Cong., ii. 32. Thompson's Vt., Part III., p. 103.

 

 

 

250                          HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.                  [1775.

 

present at the re-assembling of the Provincial Congress on the 4th of October, but it does not appear that he remained through the session.*

By a resolution of the Provincial Congress, passed on the 18th of October, it was determined that that body should announce itself dissolved at such time as should be deemed expedient, and that a new election should then be called for the choice of delegates to represent the province. The dissolution took place on the 4th of November, and the 7th of the same month was set apart as the day for the new election. In Cumberland county, the town representatives did not assemble until the 21st. The convention was held, as on former occasions, in the county hall at Westminster, and William Williams and Paul Spooner were again returned as delegates for the county. On the 14th of November, the day on which the newly-elected delegates were to convene in the city of New York, it was found that a majority of the counties in the province were not represented. For the purpose of maintaining the show of authority, informal meetings were held day after day. Such letters as demanded immediate replies were answered, and de­spatches were sent to different parts of the province, entreating the delegates to hasten their appearance, in order that "the measures necessary to be carried into execution" might not be longer delayed or neglected. The Congress, after waiting three weeks for a quorum, was organized on the 6th of December, eight counties being represented.

Dr. Spooner, having appeared and presented his credentials, was, on the 20th, admitted as the deputy from Cumberland, and was allowed to act singly, with as full power as though his colleague were also in attendance. As the bearer of information concerning the military affairs of his district, he announced the appointment, by the committee of safety for Cumberland county, of Col. James Rogers as brigadier-general for the bri­gade of Cumberland, Gloucester, and Charlotte counties, and recommended certain men as field and staff-officers for the militia of the county which he represented.

Owing to the readiness manifested in different parts of the province to second the views of the Congress in the organization of the militia, the plan which had been adopted a few

 

* Journal N. Y. Prov. Cong., i., 87, 89, 105, 114, 135, 137, 139, 146, 163, 165, 195, 197. Am. Arch., Fourth Series, 1775, vol. ii., cols. 1799, 1800; vol. iii. passim.

 

 

 

1775.]                              SPIRIT OF DISAFFECTION.                              251

 

months previous was enlarged. A certain numerical rank was assigned to the militia officers of each of the fourteen counties in the province. The rank of the militia officers of Cumberland was the twelfth, and of Gloucester the fourteenth. The number of brigades was increased to seven. The brigadier-general of the militia of the counties of Cumberland, Gloucester, and Charlotte was announced as the seventh in rank, and the eighth in command. The new Congress having, on the 22d of December, decided to adjourn, appointed a committee of safety, consisting of thirteen members, to act during the recess. Of this number, Dr. Spooner was one.*

But a spirit of disaffection had already begun to appear in the county. On the 6th of December, a number of the inhabitants of Putney sent to New York a protest against the proceedings of the Westminster convention, at which field-officers were nominated for the proposed regiments. "The acts of this convention," said they, "have discovered such a spirit of ignorance or tyranny, that we are apprehensive that our liberties, which we are contending for, are in danger, and like to be wrung out of our hands, by nine or ten arbitrary men." They further declared that the convention had nominated field-officers who had ever shown "an inimical spirit to the liberties of America," and who were "disagreeable to the body of the peo­ple." This paper, signed by thirty-one persons, was followed by another from Westminster, bearing date the 7th of Decem­ber, and containing expressions of a similar import. The latter document set forth with definiteness the situation of affairs in the county, and stated that John Norton, who had been recommended as first major of the lower regiment, had often disap­proved "of the proceedings of the colonies," and was held in such disfavor that neither in his own town, that of Westminster, nor in any other where he was known, could he obtain a majority of votes from the people for any office in the American service. Redress of grievances of this nature was sought for. The petitioners based their plea on the ground of necessity. "Tyranny," said they, "appears so evident in the late county convention that unless a stop is put to it the county is ruined." Of a like nature was the manifesto dated the 13th of December, and signed by fifty-six of the inhabitants of Dummerston. In

 

* Journal N. Y. Prov. Cong., i. 180, 195, 197, 199, 205, 226, 228-231; ii. 99. Am. Arch., Fourth Series, 1775, vol. iii. col. 1330.

 

 

 

252                          HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.        [1775, 1776.

 

this, they denounced the proceedings of the convention, and declared the choice of field-officers, which had been made by the town delegates on that occasion, "an infringement on the rights of the people." This position was supported by the fact that out of the twenty-one delegates, who were entitled to seats in the convention, only nine were present, and of this number seven were in nomination for military offices. John Norton was referred to as one who was "universally known to be in opposition to the plan of liberty," and it was stated that other candidates had been presented for election, who were "much suspected of being unfriendly to the liberties of America."*

A letter from Samuel Stevens of Charlestown, New Hamp­shire, to the secretary of the New York Congress, written on the 18th of December, at the suggestion of some of the inhabit­ants of Cumberland county, verified the accounts which had been sent from the towns of Putney, Westminster, and Dummerston. In this communication he requested that no commis­sions should be given to any persons in either of the proposed regiments, until a candid expression "of the minds of the people, with respect to the several nominations and appointments made by their county congress and committee of safety," should be presented. An exception, however, was made in favor of those persons who had been chosen in the month of June previous, when the views of the people were seconded by the action of the delegates at the county Congress."

On the 4th of January, 1776, during the recess of the Pro­vincial Congress, the subject of the militia was taken up in the provincial committee of safety, of which Dr. Spooner, of Cumberland county, was a member. As no objection had been offered to the officers who had been nominated for the upper regiment and for the regiment of minute men, they were presented with commissions, signed by Pierre Van Cortlandt, the chairman, and John McKesson, the secretary of the committee. A recommendation was at the same time given to the commit­tees of Cumberland, Charlotte, and Gloucester counties, to the effect that they should join in the nomination of a brigadier-general, and report their choice "with all convenient speed." The committee of Cumberland county were ordered to return to the Provincial Congress a list of the officers of the county militia, under the rank of field-officers, who had been or might

 

* Am. Arch., Fourth Series, 1775, vol. iii. cols. 429-431.

 

 

 

1776.]                          LETTER TO THE COMMITTEE.                         253

 

be elected pursuant to the resolves of the Congress, and "with intent to remove all ground of disquiet in the minds" of the persons who belonged to the lower regiment, the committee of the county were requested to meet and nominate such field-officers for that regiment as should be deemed "best qualified for the service of their country." The people of the county were also informed, that, in case no nomination should be made by their immediate representatives in county convention, the officers of the lower regiment would be appointed by the Pro­vincial Congress or committee of safety.

To accompany this manifestation of the views entertained by the chief men of the province, a letter exhortatory in tone and earnest in phraseology was, on the 19th of January, addressed to the committee of Cumberland county. Sorrow on account of the "jealousies and divisions" which disturbed the county was plainly expressed in this communication, and surprise was shown that greater readiness had not been evinced to engage in behalf of the cause of American liberty. "We entreat, we pray, and we obtest you," wrote the provincial committee, "as you tender not only your own welfare and happiness, but also the success of the American colonies in their present struggle for liberty, that you exert yourselves to put an amicable period to all dissensions in your county, and bring about a perfect union among the inhabitants; and for this purpose that you cause a large, respectable county committee to be elected in your county, if that has not already been done. Let every son of freedom employ his utmost efforts that our attachment to the rules of Congress, our military subordination and skill, according to their plan and directions, and our attachment to good order and government may distinguish us from our enemies, as much as the glorious cause we are engaged in." Dr. Spooner, having obtained leave of absence, was directed to carry this letter to his constituents, and was also desired to deliver the commissions to those persons to whom they had been assigned. Supplied with money from the treasury of the Provincial Congress, he departed, on the 10th of January, in the hope of being able to "restore unanimity and harmony" among those whom he represented.*

The spirit which had actuated the conduct of the people west of the Green mountains, previous to the year 1775, and which for more than a year had lain dormant, began now to manifest

 

* Journal N. Y. Prov. Cong., i. 237, 238, 242, 243; ii. 143.

.

.

 

254                          HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.                  [1776.

 

its presence in a less violent but more determined manner. A convention was called at Dorset, on the 16th of January, for the purpose of proposing and adopting measures to advance the interests of those dwelling between Lake Champlain and Con­necticut river. But few, if any, from either Cumberland or Gloucester county were present. A petition addressed to John Hancock, the President of the Continental Congress, was prepared, and persons were appointed to carry it to Philadelphia. The boon sought for by the petitioners, was that they might be ordered to "do duty in the Continental service if required," as inhabitants of the New Hampshire Grants, and not as inhabitants of the Province of New York, or as "subject to the limitations, restrictions, or regulations," of the militia of that pro­vince.*

Soon after the views of the Provincial Congress had been made known in Cumberland county, a convention of the town committees of safety was called at Westminster, on the 1st of February, and Benjamin Carpenter, of Guilford, was placed in the chair. The meeting was conducted in such a manner as was deemed most suitable for establishing "peace, harmony, and unanimity," in the county. The field-officers for the lower regiment were selected, and in making the choice, regard was had to the conduct which the candidates had displayed when the disposition to be freed from the encroachments of Great Britain became first apparent. A few days later, returns were made to Benjamin Carpenter from several of the towns in the southern part of the county, of the election of militia officers, and this information was, on the 6th of February, communicated to the Provincial Congress.†

The delegates from Cumberland county to the Provincial Congress, which assembled in February, 1776, were, Col. Joseph Marsh, of Hartford, and William Williams. The former was absent during the whole of the session, and the latter did not present himself at New York until the 24th of February. The

 

* This petition was read in Congress, on the 8th of May, and was referred to a committee for examination. Their report, read on the 30th, recommended sub­mission to the government of New York for the present, and at the close of the war, a reference of the whole subject to proper judges, whose determination should be final and conclusive. Permission was granted to Heman Allen, on the 4th of June, to withdraw the petition. — Journals Am. Cong., i. 337, 360, 364. Slade's Vt. State Papers, pp. 61-65.

† See Appendix, containing a LIST OF THE CIVIL AND MILITARY OFFICERS OF CUMBERLAND AND GLOUCESTER COUNTIES.

 

 

 

1776.]                                               A LOAN.                                              255

 

nominations of field and militia officers which had been made both by the representatives of the people of Cumberland, and by the people themselves, having been presented by him, on the 26th of February, were received and approved of, and, on the 1st of March, commissions were ordered to be issued for those persons whose names had been returned. He was also the bearer of a letter from the county committee of safety, in which they avowed their inability to furnish their delegate with the money "necessary to supply his present necessities." In this emergency, Peter Van Brugh Livingston, the treasurer of the Provincial Congress, was ordered to "advance on loan to Major William Williams, on the credit of the Cumberland county committee, in general, and of Benjamin Carpenter, the chairman of the said committee, in particular, and Major Williams therein named, the sum of £40, to be repaid in such manner as this or some future Provincial Congress or committee of safety shall direct."

The sum of £4,800 was, on the 13th of March, distributed among the different counties, as a loan, to enable them to defray the expenses contingent upon war and government. The share of Cumberland county was but £100, and from this sum the £40 which had been advanced to Major Williams, and the £20 which Dr. Spooner had borrowed on a former occasion, were deducted.*

Although several attempts had been made to choose officers for the brigade which comprised the counties of Cumberland, Gloucester, and Charlotte, yet these attempts had thus far proved futile. As a last resort, a circular letter was sent to the committees of safety in each of the three counties, notifying the time and place of a meeting for the purpose of completing the general military organization of that section of the province. Three representatives from each of the committees of safety of the two first-mentioned counties were in attendance at Windsor on the 22d of May, the day specified in the notification; but no delegates from Charlotte county were present. The nominations were made, therefore, by six men, and Col. Jacob Bayley, of Newbury, and Simon Stevens, of Springfield, were recommended to the Provincial Congress as worthy and acceptable candidates for the respective offices of Brigadier-General and Brigade-Major.† It was not deemed proper,

 

* Journal N. Y. Prov. Cong., i. 293, 321, 324, 331, 356; ii. 122.

† An account of this meeting was forwarded to the New York Provincial Con­gress, by Col. Joseph Marsh, one of the deputies from Cumberland county.

 

 

 

256                          HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.                  [1776.

 

however, to sanction appointments of so high importance without first obtaining the sentiments of all the parties interested. For this reason, the Provincial Congress, on the 17th of June, ordered a copy of the proceedings of the committees who had made the nominations to be forwarded to the committee of Charlotte county, with a request that they would return an answer declarative of their wishes in the premises. Further action was postponed until a reply should be received. The necessity of perfecting the military arrangements of the county was, however, apparent. By the late resolves of the Continental Congress, New York had been ordered to raise three thousand men to reinforce the American army in her own province, and seven hundred and fifty to reinforce the army in Canada. Of this latter number, the quota assigned to Cumberland county, on the 7th of June, was one hundred and twenty-five, and to Gloucester, seventy-five. To hasten the work of enlistment, a bounty of $4 each was, on the 9th, offered to the non-commissioned officers and privates of the battalions which were to be sent to Canada. The money intended for this purpose was placed by the treasurer of the Provincial Congress, in the hands of a committee of payment.*

In perusing the history of the counties, towns, and villages of the American colonies, during the earlier period of the revolutionary war, one is often inclined to inquire as to the manner in which civil government was conducted, and the means which were taken to enforce the execution of laws in the absence of executive power. The object of the American people in opposing Great Britain, it may be answered, was to free themselves from an unjust government, not to shake off or disown the obligations of law, morality, or religion. When the majority of the inhabitants of a village, town, or county had declared their unwillingness to obey rulers appointed by the King or subject to his dictation, village inspectors were elected, and town and county committees of safety were chosen. To them questions were referred, which in a better regulated state of society would have been presented in a court of law. By their decisions there was generally a readiness to abide. If any one wished to appeal to the bar of public opinion, his fellow-townsmen were sure to decide the appellant's case by the principles of equity rather than of law.

 

* Journal N. Y. Prov. Cong., i. 483, 488, 496; ii. 201.

 

 

 

1776.]              MEETING OF THE COMMITTEE OF SAFETY.             257

 

In Cumberland county the people of each town chose their own committee of safety, and each town committee sent delegates to sit in the committee of safety for the county. In this manner had the affairs of the county been conducted for more than a year. At the meeting of the county committee held at Westminster in the court-house, which continued from the 11th to the 21st of June, 1776, thirty-four delegates from twenty towns were in attendance.* Capt. James Clay was placed in the chair, and Dr. Elkanah Day was chosen clerk. Business which had been laid on the table at previous meetings was on this occasion taken up and received final action. One man, who had been abusing his neighbor's wife, was by the decree of the committee committed to prison. Another, who like a second Naboth was suffering from the covetousness of some townsman Ahab, was quieted in the enjoyment of his possessions. Persons of doubtful political principles were examined, and disputes between contending parties were settled. Ignoring the principles of democratic equality, the committee resolved that every person who bore the suffix of "Gentleman," by civil or military commission, should be exempted from "general training." The public accounts of the county were examined by a special committee. An attempt was made to improve the condition of the treasury by urging upon the collectors of taxes the im­portance of attending to their duties. The real estate of every male between sixteen and sixty was estimated at ten pounds.

 

*Brattleborough,           .               .               Israel Smith, John Sergeants.

Chester,                         .               .               John Chandler, George Earl.

Draper,                          .               .               Elijah Alvord, John Gibbs.

Dummerston,              .               .               Joseph Hildreth, Ebenezer Haven.

Guilford,                      .               .               Israel Gurley, Samuel Nichols

Halifax,                         .               .               William Williams.

Hertford,                      .               .               Jonathan Burk.

Hinsdale, .                    .               .               John Bridgman, Arad Hunt.

Kent, .                           .               .               Edward Aiken, 2d.

Marlborough,               .               .               Jonathan Warren.

Newfane, .                    .               .               Luke Knowlton.

Pomfret,                       .               .               John Winchester Dana.

Putney,                          .               .               James Clay, Lucas Wilson.

Rockingham,                .               .               William Simons, Ebenezer Fuller.

Springfield,                   .               .               Simon Stevens, Jerathmiel Powers.

Townshend,                 .               .               Joseph Tyler, Samuel Fletcher.

Weathersfield, .            .               .               Israel Burlingame, William Upham.

Westminster,                .               .               John Norton, Elkanah Day.

Windsor,                      .               .               Ebenezer Hoisington, Ebenezer Curtis.

Woodstock, .                .               .               John Strong, Benjamin Emmons.

 

 

 

258                          HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.                  [1776.

 

Persons were appointed to ascertain the valuation of the sale­able estate of each town, and make return thereof. Commit­tees were chosen to draft replies to letters which had been received from the Provincial Congress, and to carry into execution the resolves which had passed that body relative to the militia of the province. An unsuccessful attempt was made to re-imprison some of the persons who had been engaged in the "Westminster Massacre," and had been released under bonds; and other matters, some trivial and many important, occupied the attention of the county committee of safety.

Measures were also taken to perfect the organization of the minute-men of the county, and to raise soldiers for the Canada service. To effect the latter object the colonel of the lower regiment, and one sub-committee man from each town comprehended in that regiment district, were desired to assemble and appoint one captain and two lieutenants, as officers of such men as might enlist for the northern expedition. A similar request was also proffered to the colonel of the upper regiment, and times and places for meeting were agreed upon. In compliance with the requisition contained in a handbill directed to the committee, an election for delegates to the New York Provincial Congress was held at the same time, and Joseph Marsh, John Sessions, and Simon Stevens were chosen to represent the county from the second Monday in July following. Ebenezer Hoisington, John Sergeants, and John Chandler, who had been previously appointed to prepare instructions for the guidance of the delegates, then presented their report, which was read by paragraphs, and deliberately adopted as expressive of the sentiments of the committee and of the people whom they represented. The instructions were in these words: —

 

"Gentlemen, — Having received a handbill from the Honour­able Provincial Congress, recommending to the inhabitants of the county to choose delegates and invest them [with] power to establish a form of government, &c., We, the committee for this county, being warmly attached to the noble cause of liberty, and ardently desirous to have the foundation of govern­ment so laid, that the liberties of the people, both civil and religious, may forever remain sacred and inviolate — we think it our indispensable duty to give you the following instructions; and reposing the highest confidence in your honour and integrity, do rely upon it, that you will, to the utmost of your power, endeavour to carry the same into execution. We trust

 

 

 

1776.]                    INSTRUCTIONS TO THE DELEGATES.                   259

 

the Honourable Congress will be very far from passing censure on us for being thus jealous of our liberties, especially when they consider that in times past this county has been much imposed upon, in having certain foreigners put into high places of emolument and honour, to the great grief of virtuous and honest men.

"First; we instruct you to use your influence to establish a government in this colony agreeable to the maxim, viz. that all civil power (under God) is originally in the people, and that you in no instance, in your publick capacity, will do anything to abridge the people of this fundamental right. We further­more beg leave to say that, in our opinion, the representatives duly chosen in the several counties in this colony, when convened at New York, to all intents and purposes have full power of legislation, and that it would greatly abridge the peo­ple of their right should the representatives presume to make choice of a Governor [and] Lieut.-Governor to act and transact business independent of the people.

"Second; that you use your best influence in Congress to adopt such a code of laws, whereby the liberty, property, and everything dear to the inhabitants of this colony and America in general, shall be founded on a permanent basis — a few of which laws, we humbly beg leave to suggest, might be made or enacted, viz. laws for establishing religion and literature so that ministers of the gospel may be supported, and schools set up, which must have a tendency to promote virtue and good manners.

"Third; we think it would much conduce to the happiness of this county, to have a court of justice, as soon as may be, pro­perly organized, to take cognizance of all criminal actions. At the same time, we desire that men of character, integrity, know­ledge, and virtue, who belong to our own county, may sustain the offices in such an important department. The ancient trial by jury we have a great veneration for. It is a noble barrier against tyranny. In order that our future courts may be sup­plied with grand jurors, we humbly request that the Honourable Congress would adopt the following method for this county, viz. that each town through the county at their annual meetings shall elect their proportion of men who shall serve as grand jurors the ensuing year, and that their names shall be properly returned in the clerk's office, in order that the jury when so chosen may inform the advocates who shall prosecute criminal

 

 

 

260                          HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.                  [1776.

 

actions, of all misdemeanors in the county, passing within their knowledge. The petit jurors, in like manner, we would be glad might be chosen annually, and that their names being enrolled may be returned in the clerk's office, and when so returned may be drawn by lot for the service of the ensuing year. The gentlemen of the law (if they should be thought necessary) we hope may be men of integrity, learning, and ability. In a particular manner we desire, and insist on it, that no freeholders or men of interest in a civil action on the first process shall be apprehended by capias, but that they may be summoned according to ancient usage; excepting under certain circumstances, when there is not a sufficiency of estate to answer debt and cost; that constables as well as sheriffs may have power to serve all processes; that all deeds may be recorded by the town clerk in each town; that attorneys' fees and all other exorbitant fees may be lowered and reduced to the standard of justice.

"Lastly; we beg leave to suggest that, in our opinion, a frequent change of magistrates tends to prevent corruption, and keep up that equality of mankind in which by nature we are all formed. Therefore, we humbly request we may be indulged in this particular. We desire that each town in this county may nominate their own justices, and that they may not be appointed without such nomination. That justice, religion, and virtue may prevail in this colony, and that peace and tranquility may be restored through America, is the sincere desire of the committee of safety for Cumberland county."*

Such were the terms in which were conveyed ideas, honorable both to those who suggested and to those who adopted them — ideas, which, in their execution, contemplated the es­tablishment of those principles which regulate communities and exalt nations. Another important topic discussed on this occasion, was that relative to the right of the New Hampshire Grants to secede from New York. Several of the members, representing a large constituency, favored a union with Massachusetts. Owing to this cause, a letter addressed to the members of the Provincial Congress was prepared on the 21st of June, and the representatives of the county were desired to deliver it at New York. The views advanced in this communication were expressed in these words:

 

* MS. records Cumberland Co. Com. Safety. In connection with the propositions suggested by the committee of safety and narrated in the text, they also expressed a desire that a court of Probate might be established in the county.

 

 

 

1776.]               LETTER TO THE PROVINCIAL CONGRESS.               261

 

"Upon the receipt of handbills from you, sent to us, purporting the expediency of instituting civil government according to the exigencies of the county, the major part of the people have agreed thereto, and have elected their delegates, and empowered them with their authority, to agree with you in forming a mode of government independent of the Crown, in the most mild, just, and equitable manner possible, for regulating their internal police, and for the preservation of the rights, liberties, and property of the people. This power is subjected, nevertheless, to those regulations, conditions, and restraints herewith transmitted you by the hands of the delegates of this county; to all which they are, by their constituents in the premises, limited and restrained in such manner, that if they break over and violate those sacred instructions herewith sent you in behalf of us and our constituents, in matters of such infinite importance and delicacy, the county committee declare, in behalf of the free, patriotic people thereof, that they mean to, and hereby do resolve, to reserve to themselves the full liberty of an absolute disavowance thereof, and of every clause, article, and paragraph of such an institution.

"Also, it is hereby acceded to, and fully meant and intended by the good people of the county, that they, notwithstanding this compliance with the requisition of the said handbills above mentioned, so directed to us for the purposes aforesaid, have fully and absolutely reserved to themselves and their heirs, &c., the full liberty of pursuing their former petition in behalf of the people, prepared some years ago, and referred to the great and General Assembly of the ancient, ever respectable, and most patriotic government of the Massachusetts Bay province, that the whole district described in the said petition, may be hereafter reunited to that province; and reserving to themselves also the right of offering their pleas, arguments, and proofs, in full, to effect a reunion thereof; to that ancient jurisdiction, for those important reasons to be adduced when, where, and before whom the parties. concerned shall be admitted to offer the same."

This letter was signed by James Clay; chairman of the committee, and was attested by the clerk. As soon as the majority of the members had assented to it, Elkanah Day, John Bridgman, and John Norton, entered their protest against the declarations and assertions which it embodied; and when, shortly after, it was carried to New York, their names appeared among

 


 

  

262                          HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.                  [1776.

 

the opposition. Both of these productions, neither of them especially remarkable for beauty of expression or grammatical accuracy, were of great weight in regulating the future conduct of the Provincial Congress, with respect to Cumberland and Gloucester counties.*

At another meeting of the committee, which commenced on the 23d of July and ended on the 26th, the attendance was not as great as on former occasions. Eighteen delegates were pre­sent from fifteen towns. Several questions respecting the well-­being of the county were entertained. Some of them received final action. The further consideration of others was postponed. In a case of bastardy which was reported to the committee, the defendant gave bonds in the sum of £50 to answer the complaint which would be made against him at the expiration of a certain specified time. One man who had been arrested, charged with counterfeiting the colonial bills, was released. Another, who had been imprisoned for the same crime, was tried, and, although not declared guilty, the circumstances con­nected with the case were ordered to be published in "the gazette," and the prisoner was required to discharge the costs of the suit as the condition of his release. The words, "paid up," which appear at the foot of the record, are evidence that the prisoner was glad to escape on the terms prescribed. To a widow who sought to be avenged of her adversary, the committee lent a willing ear and a helping hand. The doughty old soldier of Dummerston, Lieut. Spaulding, was cited to answer "for his conduct in taking Col. Wells by military force, that mode of proceeding being contrary to the minds" of the committee. Polite and valiant, his apologies were ample, and the complaint was dismissed. To ensure safety, a quantity of powder which had been lately received, was deposited in one of the jail rooms of the court house, and a sergeant and four privates were detailed to guard it by night, and a sergeant and two privates by day. That they might not want, "Necessary vittling and half a pint of rum to Each man once in twenty-four hours" were supplied. When a proportionate division of the powder was ordered, it was ascertained that the share of the lower regiment was eleven hundred and ninety pounds, and of the upper regiment, six hundred and ten pounds.† The detec-

 

* Journal N. Y. Prov. Cong., 587; ii. 272.

† From this statement, it would seem that the committee of safety were in possession of eighteen hundred pounds of gunpowder. The quantity appropriated

 

 

 

1776.]                THE NEW YORK PROVINCIAL CONGRESS.               263

 

tion of spies and informers being regarded as especially desirable, "the utmost protection" of the committee was promised to the person who should give information of "any criminal correspondence" carried on between any of the inhabitants of the county "and the King's officers in the army at Canada." From the abstract of the records of the county committee of safety which has been given in the preceding pages, an idea may be formed of the powers which were lodged in that body; powers civil, military, legislative, executive, and judicial.*

At the commencement of the session of the New York Pro­vincial Congress, on the 9th of July, Simon Stevens and John Sessions were in attendance. They were afterwards joined by Joseph Marsh, and Cumberland county was for several months well represented in the Congress. During the remainder of the year, the meetings of the Congress were rotatory. Yielding to the necessity of the times, the members assembled either at White Plains, "in the church at Harlem," at Kingsbridge, "at the house of Mr. Odell" on Philipse's Manor, or in the Episcopal or Dutch church at Fishkill, these being places which afforded the greatest facilities for the transaction of business, and at the same time permitted communication with the American army. On the second day of the session, the title of the body was changed by a resolution, from that of "The Provincial Congress of the Colony of New York," to that of "The Convention of the Representatives of the State of New York." This alteration was adopted to prevent the recurrence of mistakes which had already been made by confounding the Congress of New York with the Congress of the United States. It was also significant of the times, for the idea of subjection conveyed by the word colony was not to be found in the word state, and the dropping of the word provincial, removed whatever else there was in the former name suggestive of the supremacy of Great Britain.

Supplies of gunpowder had already been voted to Cumber­land and Gloucester counties. For the purpose of rendering their situation more secure, the Convention directed the commissary, Peter T. Curtenius, to deliver to John Sessions, three

 

to Cumberland county by the New York Provincial Congress, on the 30th of June, 1776, was ten barrels, of one hundred and fifty pounds each, and to Gloucester county, on the same occasion, ten barrels of one hundred pounds each. Under date of July 10th, 1776, it was stated that Col. Marsh would convey the powder to its destination, "via Connecticut river." — Journal N. Y. Prov. Cong., i. 511, 519.

* MS. records Cumb. Co. Com. Safety.

 

 

 

264                          HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.                  [1776.

 

thousand pounds of lead for the use of the county of Gloucester, and four thousand five hundred pounds of the same metal for the use of the county of Cumberland. Mr. Sessions was desired to forward the lead to the general committees of the two counties "in the most safe and expeditious manner," and the committees were required "to attend carefully to the disposition" of this supply among the militia for whose use it was intended.* Attention was then directed to the adoption of means for de­fending the northern and western portions of the state. Exposed to the inroads of the Indians, some of the inhabitants of the more distant sections of Albany county, and many of the inhabitants of Tryon, Charlotte, Gloucester, Cumberland, Ulster, and Orange counties, had already removed into the interior, and others were preparing to change their place of residence as soon as they could select more secure localities. To prevent these removals, and to afford protection against the savages, the Convention resolved, on the 23d of July, to raise ranging parties in the above

 

* Of the value of lead during the revolution, and of the means which were sometimes resorted to, to procure it, some opinion may be formed from the annexed extracts, from the Journal of the New York Provincial Congress:

"March 25th, 1776. Ordered, That Mr. Samuel Prince be and he is hereby authorized to employ proper mechanics for that purpose, and to take the leads out of the window-cases of the City Hall of this city, and also out of the Exchange in this city of New York; to keep an account of the weight of lead taken out of each building separately, that the weight of lead taken out of each may be known, and that Mr. Prince cause the said lead to be delivered to Mr. Curtenius, or his order." i. 384.

"June 29th, 1776. Whereas, it has been represented to this Congress that lead will speedily be wanted for the use of the army in the defence of this city and Colony: Therefore,

"Resolved, That Messrs. Daniel Dunscombe and Samuel Prince be requested and authorized, and they are and each of them respectively is hereby authorized, and empowered, and requested to take to their assistance such persons as they may think proper, and forthwith to cause all the lead of the windows in this city, and also all the leaden weights, (except such small weights as are in use in the course of trade,) to be collected and delivered to Peter T. Curtenius, Esqr., for the use of this Colony, taking his receipt for the same; that a particular account be kept of the lead taken out of each house, in order that the respective proprietors may receive compensation for the same." i. 511.

"July 11th, 1776. Resolved, That the general committee of the county of Tryon, be and they hereby are authorized and requested to employ proper persons to take the leaden weights out of all the windows in the said county, and apply so much thereof as may be immediately necessary, to the use of the militia of the said county; that an exact account be kept of the quantity taken from each house, to the end that payment may be hereafter made for the same; and that the said committee do transmit an account thereof to this Convention with all convenient speed." i. 521.

 

 

 

1776.]              ORGANIZATION OF RANGING COMPANIES.             265

 

named counties, to scour the woods and expel the Indians who infested them. Cumberland and Gloucester were ordered to raise, together, two hundred and fifty-two men, "for the joint defence of both counties." This force was to be divided into four companies, and each company was to consist of one captain, two lieutenants, three sergeants, three corporals, and fifty-four privates. The commissioned officers were to be nominated by the mutual consent of the committees of both counties, and it was recommended that they should be "persons of sober and active dispositions." The command of the companies was vested in a major, to be appointed by the Convention. This officer was required to "march to the relief of any of the neighboring counties or states, upon a mutual application from the county commit­tees of such respective counties or states, or upon an application from the continental officer commanding in the northern department." A provision was, however, inserted, by which "the continental officer" was not permitted to order the companies beyond the limits of the counties of Cumberland, Gloucester, and Charlotte. The pay of the officers and privates was the same as that of the continental troops. A bounty of $25 was allowed to each non-commissioned officer and private "upon his passing muster."* In lieu of rations, a certain sum was paid, weekly, in the follow­ing ratio. To each captain, 16s.; to each lieutenant, 14s.; and to each non-commissioned officer and private, 10s. The officers and privates were required to furnish themselves each, "with a good musket or firelock, powder-horn, bullet-pouch and tomahawk, blanket and knapsack." Such were the more striking features in the organization of the ranging companies, as afterwards established in the counties of Cumberland and Gloucester. The plan adopted for the other counties in the state, did not differ from that above detailed, except in a few unimportant particulars. On the day following the passage of these measures, Joab Hoisington, of Windsor, on the recommendation of the members from Cumberland county, was unanimously ap­pointed by the Convention to the office of "major of the rangers," and the secretary was ordered to prepare his commission.†

 

* By a subsequent resolution, one half of this sum was to be paid "to every able bodied man" who should pass muster; the other half as soon as "the first muster roll of every company" should be received by the Convention. For the payment of the first half of the bounty, the sum of £1200 was advanced to the deputies of Cumberland county. — Journal N .Y. Prov. Cong., i. 539, 640.

† As the style of this commission is somewhat novel, a copy of it is here inserted.

 

 

 

266                          HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.                  [1776.

 

In consequence of this organization, the Convention ordered Mr. Curtenius to deliver to Messrs. Marsh, Stevens, and Ses­sions, "for the use of the rangers and inhabitants" of Cumber­land and Gloucester counties, the supply of lead which had been previously allotted to these counties. The deputies were also supplied with two thousand flints, and the treasurer of the state was directed to advance the sum of seventy pounds to enable those gentlemen to transport the lead and flints to the counties for which they were intended. By the provisions of the militia bill, passed on the 22d of August, 1775,* the sixth brigade of the militia of the province comprised the counties of Charlotte, Cumberland, and Gloucester. For the convenience of all concerned, this brigade was divided and another arrangement was effected. The militia of Charlotte county were formed into one brigade, and the militia of Cumberland and Gloucester into another. Of the latter Jacob Bayley, of Newbury, was appointed brigadier-general, and Simon Stevens,

 

"In Convention of the Representatives of the State of New York.

"To Joab Hoisington, Esqr., Greeting:

"Whereas, this Convention did on the 23d day of July inst. direct and order the raising and embodying two hundred and fifty-two men, officers included, in the counties of Gloucester and Cumberland, for the joint defence of both counties, and of the neighbouring counties and States, to be divided into four companies, to be under the command of a major:

"Now, therefore, we, the representatives of the State of New York, reposing especial trust and confidence in your patriotism, martial valour, vigilance, conduct, and fidelity, do by these presents constitute and appoint you to be major of the said four companies of rangers, so to be raised as aforesaid, for the defence of American liberty, and for repelling every hostile invasion thereof. You are, therefore, carefully and diligently to discharge the duty of major by doing and performing all manner of things thereunto belonging; and we do strictly charge and require all officers and soldiers under your command to be obedient to your orders as major; and you are to observe and follow such orders and directions from time to time as you shall receive from this or a future Convention of the State of New York, or the Congress of the United States of America, or Commander-in-Chief for the time being of the army of the United States of America, or any other, your superior officers, according to the rules and discipline of war, in pursuance of the trust reposed in you.

"This commission to continue in force until the end of the present war, unless sooner revoked by the Congress of the United States of America, or the Convention or Legislature of the State of New York.

"Dated at White Plains, in Westchester county, the twenty-fourth day of July, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-six.

                             "By order of the Convention."  — Journal N. Y. Prov. Cong., i. 540, 541.

* See ante, p. 249.

 

 

 

1776.]                      JOINT MEETING OF COMMITTEES.                     267

 

of Springfield, major.* Although, on account of their poverty, the inhabitants of Cumberland county were unable to give but little pecuniary assistance towards carrying on the war, yet the state of New York did not on this account withhold from them her aid. The return which they made by levies of men was, it is true, a partial recompense for the means of defence with which they were furnished. But there was wanting on their part the spirit of hearty co-operation, a spirit without which division is made certain and defeat invited.†

As soon as the resolutions of the Convention in regard to the ranging companies had been officially published, a joint meet­ing of the committees of Cumberland and Gloucester counties was notified for the purpose of nominating the commissioned officers. Pursuant to the notification, thirteen members of the two committees assembled at the town-house in Windsor on the 6th of August. In settling preliminaries, it was agreed that three of the captains and four of the lieutenants should be inhabitants of Cumberland county, and the remainder, one captain and four lieutenants, from Gloucester county. The appointments from the former county having been made, it was thought best, on account of the small attendance from Gloucester county, to call another meeting before completing the list of officers. This sentiment was favorably received, and a committee of four from Cumberland county were instructed to co-operate with the general committee of Gloucester county in making the remaining nominations. In the course of the following week the business was completed, and return was made to Major Hoisington that he might obtain the necessary com­missions from the New York Convention.‡

 

* The original MS. commission of Major Simon Stevens, is now in the possession of the Hon. William M. Pingry.

† Journal N. Y. Prov. Cong., i. 515, 519, 521, 538-540, 543, 551, 552.

‡ Much dissatisfaction seems to have prevailed at the time as to the manner in which the meeting at Windsor was conducted. By the records of the committee it appears that thirteen members were present. Another account states that ten only were present, of which number nine were from Cumberland, and one from Gloucester county. James Clay, who was chairman on the occasion, was unwilling to proceed with business, not only on account of the smallness of the attendance, but also on account of the shortness of the time, six days, which had interverned between the time of notification and the time of meeting. These objections were, however, overruled by Major Hoisington, who declared that a quorum was not necessary to transact the business for which they had assembled. The title of Major, it is evident, was peculiarly flattering to the vanity of Hoi­sington. The power with which it invested him, namely, the direction of two

 

 

 

268                          HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.                  [1776.

 

The dissatisfaction with the jurisdiction of New York, which on the western side of the Green mountains had again become prevalent, was now beginning to show itself in another quarter. At a meeting which had been held at Dorset, on the 24th of July, on which occasion fifty-one delegates from thirty-five towns were present, a resolution had been passed, one member only dissenting therefrom, that "suitable applications" should be made to obtain the formation of the New Hampshire Grants "into a separate district." By another resolution, a committee had been appointed "to treat with the inhabitants on the east side the range," for the purpose of obtaining their consent to this project. An association had been formed, expressive of the views of the mountaineers on the subject of the war, and an adjourned meeting had been agreed on.*

When the committees of Cumberland and Gloucester counties assembled at Windsor, on the 6th of August, as previously mentioned, to nominate officers for the ranging companies, Heman Allen, Jonas Fay, and William Marsh, the Dorset committee, were also present. Various papers were read by them bearing upon the subject of a separate jurisdiction; the boundaries of a new state were described; and the approbation of the committees was sought to the projects of the Dorset convention. In

 

hundred and fifty-two men, led him to utter many indiscreet words, and to per­form not a few injudicious actions. When, on one occasion, he received orders from General Gates, to the effect that Capt. Wait's company, belonging to the ranging service, should guard the Crown Point road, which extended from Con­necticut river to Lake Champlain, he replied, falsely, that the rangers were not raised for such service, and, disregarding the order, wrote for his men to march immediately to Newbury, where he was then stationed.

The names of the officers nominated to take the command in the ranging ser­vice were read in the New York Convention on the 26th of September, 1776, and were before the house several days. On the 10th of October commissions were granted, and on the 23d the officers were "sworn to the faithful discharge" of their respective duties. — MS. Records Cumb. Co. Com. Safety. Miscellaneous Pa­pers in office Sec. State N. Y., xxxiv. 587; xxxv. 315; xxxvi. 191, 205, 206, 212, 213, 218, 239. Journal N. Y. Prov. Cong., i. 646, 647, 659, 669; ii. 214. See Appendix, containing a LIST OF THE CIVIL AND MILITARY OFFICERS OF CUMBERLAND AND GLOUCESTER COUNTIES.

* The agreement entered into on this occasion was in these words.:

"We, the subscribers, inhabitants of that district of land commonly called and known by the name of the New Hampshire Grants, do voluntarily and solemnly engage under all the ties held sacred among mankind, at the risk of our lives and fortunes, to defend by arms the United American Colonies against the hostile attempts of the British fleets and armies, until the present unhappy controversy between the two countries shall be settled." — Journal N. Y. Prov. Cong., 311 MS. Records of Chester.

 

 

 

1776.]                            VARIOUS TOWN-MEETINGS.                           269

 

support of the proposed measures Mr. Allen told Mr. Clay that he had consulted with several members of the Continental Congress who had recommended to him and his coadjutors to ascertain the feelings of the people concerning the formation of a new state. He also reminded him, that if the inhabitants of the "Grants" should accede to the form of government which would soon be adopted for the state of New York, they would have no opportunity to withdraw their support therefrom at a future day.

For the purpose of ascertaining the views of those residing east of the Green mountains, upon the measures suggested by the committee from the Dorset convention, the people in each town were invited to assemble in town-meeting and express their opinion as to the course which they should deem it best to pursue. In Rockingham, on the 26th of August, the inha­bitants voted "to associate with the inhabitants of that district of land commonly called and known by the name of the New Hampshire Grants." They also chose two delegates to attend the convention to be held at Dorset in the fall, and instructed them "to use their best influence" to obtain the passage of such resolves as would tend to establish the "Grants" as a separate and independent state. At "the fullest meeting ever known in Chester," held on the 2d of September, similar measures were adopted, and the association which had been formed at the Dorset convention, was signed by forty-two of the inhabitants. A like spirit pervaded many of the other towns in the two counties. In some, however, there were two parties, and in a few, as in Halifax, where the inhabitants voted not to send a delegate "to meet the Green Mountain Boys," no disposition was shown to throw off the jurisdiction of New York.

At the adjourned convention, which was held at Dorset on the 25th of September, representatives were present from both sides of the mountains. Loyalty to American principles, as embodied in the Revolution, animated the discussions which took place, and gave character to the measures which were proposed. Yet, while declaring their determination to support the general government of the United States, the members resolved that "no law or laws, direction or directions" from the state of New York would be accepted by them, or be regarded by them, as of the least weight or authority. The little leaven of dissatisfaction had worked its effect in silence, and the whole lump was fast becoming assimilated.*

 

* Miscellaneous Papers, in office Sec. State N. Y., xxxvi. 193, 197, 233. Jour‑

 

 

 

270                          HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.                  [1776.

 

While the inhabitants of Cumberland county were thus wa­vering between duty and inclination, debates relative to the course which it was proper to pursue towards them, occupied the time of the New York Convention. Major Hoisington having completed his enlistments for the rangers, sent the mus­ter-rolls to the Convention, with a request that the remainder of the bounty money then due, together with an allowance for rations, and the wages for the first month, might be immediately sent forward. Discussions ensued, which were finally cut short by a motion, offered on the 26th of September, to comply with the Major's request. To such a course it was objected that the Cumberland county committee of safety had, by their letter of the 21st of June previous,* "reserved or pretended to reserve to the people of that county a right of seceding from the government" of New York; that the state had "already been at great expense" for the county, and that further expenditures on its account ought not to be made until the jurisdiction of New York should be fully acknowledged by its inhabitants. Messrs. Stevens and Sessions were then asked whether, as representatives, they acknowledged the jurisdiction of the state over the county. Their answer was in the affirmative. The subject was resumed on the 27th, and the examination of the deputies was continued. In reply to the interrogatories of the Convention, they declared that they were elected by the people of the county at large, that the county committee was formed by two members sent from each of the town committees, which town committees had been chosen long before the late election for deputies to represent the county in the state Convention had taken place; that they were "very confident" the county committee had no directions or instructions from the people of the county to advance such sentiments as were contained in the letter of June 21st, or to make such declarations or reservations as were therein mentioned, and that that document was prepared in order "to prevent any division in the county, as some few towns in the county were opposed to sending deputies to the Convention unless with such instructions." For his own part, Mr. Stevens stated that he had no particular instructions from the people of his town; that he believed the people of the other towns gave none; that he conceived the credentials from

 

nal N. Y. Prov. Cong., ii. 311. Slade's Vt. State Papers, pp. 66, 67. Doc. Hist. N. Y., iv. 923, 924.

* See ante, pp. 260, 261.

 

 

 

1776.]                          REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE.                         271

 

the county gave him "full and unrestrained power in forming a government," and that he did not consider himself bound to abide by the imposed instructions except in cases where they agreed with his own judgment. Mr. Sessions also declared that he should deem it his duty "to pay regard to his instructions so far as to lay them before the House, and obtain a compliance with them," in so far as they should "appear to be right and beneficial." In answer to another question, both gentlemen informed the Convention that they did not deem themselves required to follow the instructions, when, by pursuing such a course, injury might accrue to the state, or when a majority of the members might declare against the sentiments inculcated by them. At this stage of the proceedings the Convention were informed that the committee, who had been chosen on the 24th of August to report on the letter of June 21st, had made no return, and that the greater part of the members of that committee were absent. William Duer, James Duane, Zephaniah Platt, John Sessions, and Simon Stevens were thereupon constituted a new committee, and the whole subject was referred to them, with a request that they would examine it thoroughly, and recommend "with all convenient speed" mea­sures consistent with the character of the state and the situation of the county. To this committee John Jay was subsequently added.

A detailed history of the course which had been pursued towards Cumberland county, in connection with the establishment of the ranging companies, occupied the first part of the report, which on the 4th of October was submitted to the Convention. The meaning of the letter of June 21st was also considered, and objections were raised against paying the money demanded by Major Hoisington. In support of these objections it was stated that there was no evidence from the muster-rolls, which had been returned, that the officers and privates therein mentioned, had furnished themselves with the accoutrements required, or that other preliminary matters had been legally arranged. The benefits which the state had bestowed upon the sparsely-settled county were then recited, and in continuation of and enlargement upon this topic, the report pro­ceeded in these words:—

"From this state of facts it appears to your committee that the former Congress, and present Convention, have manifested the most ready and cheerful disposition to protect the inhabit-

 

 

 

272                          HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.

 

ants of Cumberland, at the public expense, in common with their other constituents, and without the least partiality or dis­tinction. That liberal supplies of men and money, and ammu­nition and warlike stores, according to the abilities of the state, have been granted them, as soon as their wants have been disclosed. That this committee neither know, nor have heard, of the least cause of complaint or uneasiness, that has been given to any of those inhabitants by this state, or any under its authority, during the present contest for our rights and liberties.

"If under the former government individuals may have been injured, it ought to be remembered, that to rescue ourselves from the oppressions of that government, the United States of America, submitting to all the miseries of war, have asserted their independence. It is unquestionable that the jurisdiction of this state over the territory which now comprehends the county of Cumberland, is coeval with its first formation as a colony, under, the Crown of Great Britain, and accordingly that county was erected, and hath been represented. Laws have been passed for its internal regulation, courts established, civil and military officers appointed, and many charters for lands and privileges confirmed, by the sole authority of New York. Your committee, therefore, conceive it to be the indispensable duty of this Convention to preserve and maintain their jurisdiction over the said county, by every wise, steady, and prudent measure in their power, at a time when this state is invaded and pressed by powerful armies, when our utmost exertions are necessary, and we are straining every nerve for the common cause of America, for the general defence of this state, and for the more immediate defence of the county of Cumberland.

"At a time when every virtuous member of the community is loudly called upon to assist his bleeding country, and har­mony and mutual confidence are so essential to our preservation, and to the success of the greatest and best of causes — at such an important and decisive conjuncture, your committee cannot but lament that any of the inhabitants of the county of Cumberland should suffer themselves to be so far misguided as to assert a claim and principles subversive to all government, derogatory to the dignity, rights, and jurisdiction of this state, manifesting an unbecoming return for the assistance and protection they have received out of the public treasury of their fellow-subjects at large, and implying a latent design, by a future separation from the state, to leave the whole burthen of

 

 

 

1776.]                          REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE.                         273

 

the present cruel and expensive war to be sustained by the rest of the community. If the extraordinary injunctions in the letter from their committee should be vindicated, it must follow that the form of government dictated by a party, from the best information, by no means the majority of the county, is to be adopted, however injurious to the general interest of this state, or disagreeable to other counties, and however unreasonable it might, on public debate, appear even to their own immediate representatives; and thus a single county is to control the whole state, prescribe its constitution and government, and establish its laws on pain of separation. From a parity of reason every other county, and even district and town within this state, might arrogate the same power, and instead of producing order, security, and a wise and permanent government — the great and salutary purposes for which this free Convention was elected and assembled — anarchy and confusion must be the fatal result. Your committee are satisfied, however, that the letter does not convey the sentiments of the majority of the good people of the county of Cumberland, and that the general committee will, upon cool reflection, be at no loss to perceive its want of respect to this Convention, and its dangerous tendency not only to the state, but to the common cause of America; and that after a deliberate revision they will cordially correct it, and give this Convention reasonable assurances of their attachment to its jurisdiction, and of their intention to share its blessings and misfortunes, its protection and its burthens, like faithful and affectionate fellow-citizens. Such a course your committee earnestly recommends as the best and surest means of removing the uneasiness which a measure so unexampled has excited, and of promoting the most perfect harmony and good understanding throughout every part of this state. In confidence, therefore, that a thinking and reasonable people must see that their own interest and preservation, as well as the safety of the state to which they belong, and the success of the great cause in which the whole continent is engaged, cannot but be weakened by dissension, and by countenancing the factious and self-interested, your committee are of opinion that the requisition of the commanding officer of the ranging companies of Cumberland and Gloucester counties should be complied with, lest the good people of those counties, being disappointed of the aid and protection provided by this state, may suffer from the incursions of their enemies, before an explanation of the said

 

18

 

 

 

274                          HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.                  [1776.

 

letter can be obtained from the committee of Cumberland, and have, therefore, agreed to the following resolutions:—

"First: Resolved, That it is the opinion of this committee that the sum of $6,412 2/8, being the remaining part of the bounty money, and month's wages, and rations due to the officers and men of the four companies of rangers, raised and established for the immediate protection and defence of the counties of Cumberland and Gloucester, under the command of Major Joab Hoisington, be forthwith transmitted for their use. But inas­much as it does not appear, by the returns of the commanding officer or otherwise, that the men are equipped and furnished with arms or accoutrements, or that the officers have been qualified to make up their muster-rolls and returns agreeable to the directions of Convention;

"Second: Resolved, That it is the opinion of this committee, that a committee from this Convention be appointed to see that the said money is faithfully applied, agreeable to the establishment of the said rangers; for that purpose consulting with the general committee of the said counties. That they be further authorized to call upon the commanding officer and other officers of the said rangers, and, if they shall find it necessary, to review the respective companies. That they be instructed to inquire into the temper of the inhabitants of the said county, and the grounds of any discontent which may prevail among the uninformed, or which may be encouraged by designing men, and use their endeavours to remove the same, and to frus­trate any attempt to sow the seeds of jealousy and disaffection. And, lastly, that they represent to the committee of the said county of Cumberland, the wisdom and propriety of a revision of the said letter, and of an unreserved submission of the said county to the jurisdiction of this state, so that all cases of distrust may subside, and the harmony, which is so essential at this important conjuncture, may be fixed on the surest foundation."*

By a subsequent resolution this report was accepted, and was declared to be the act of the Convention. Mr. Sessions, one of the deputies, and John Taylor, of Albany county, were requested "to proceed to the county of Cumberland," and with Col. Marsh, to form a committee to secure compliance with the resolutions which had been passed. The treasurer of the state

 

* Miscellaneous Papers, in office Sec. State N. Y., 1776, xxxv. 473-484

 

 

 

1776.]                          MEASURES FOR PROTECTION.                         275

 

was ordered to pay the sum demanded by Major Hoisington, and $200 additional, to defray the expenses of the committee appointed to visit the county. At the same time the commissary of the Convention was instructed to deliver three thousand flints to the deputies from Cumberland, two-thirds of the quantity being intended for the use of that county, and the remain­der for the use of Gloucester. On the 5th of October, Mr. Stevens, having obtained leave of absence for three weeks to visit his family, was added to the committee who had been chosen to carry into effect the late resolutions of the Convention. Five hundred copies of the resolutions were ordered to be printed, and distributed in the counties to which they particularly referred, and in other parts of the state. To avoid mistakes, and to afford time for deliberation, the committee, who had reported upon the course which it was necessary to adopt towards Cumberland county were, at the request of their chairman, James Duane, allowed to sit again. Other applications made by Major Hoisington, in the course of the month, were received with favor, and satisfactorily answered.

In conformity with his duties, the Major had taken post at Newbury, that he might be able to watch the movements of the Indians and Tories, and guard the northern frontier from their incursions. From his position he was enabled to send to Generals Gates and Schuyler information of a valuable character, obtained from spies and deserters. During the engagement on Lake Champlain between the British and American forces, in the month of October, when it was feared that an attack would in the end be made upon Ticonderoga, messengers were sent to the New York Convention with a request for immediate assistance. The committee of safety, who were in session during the recess of the Convention, appointed a large committee on the 19th, to co-operate with Gen. Schuyler in devising such measures as would ensure protection, and to this end, invested them with power to call out the whole or any part of the militia of the counties of Tryon, Charlotte, Cumberland, Gloucester, and Albany. The summons to arms was answered with spirit. The assistance of the troops was not, however, required on this occasion, for Gen. Carleton did not advance north of Crown Point. Having reached this place, he remained there until the cold weather rendered a longer stay impracticable. He then re-embarked for Canada, leaving the reduction of Ticonderoga unattempted.

 

 

 

276                          HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.                  [1776.

 

Owing to the excitement prevailing in Cumberland county consequent upon the disturbances on the Lake, the committee who had been chosen to publish the resolutions of the Conven­tion, found it difficult to accomplish that task in a satisfactory manner. By the information of John Taylor, communicated on the 3d of November, it appeared that some of the people were in favor of the establishment of a new state, "some for joining New Hampshire, others Massachusetts, many for remaining under New York." Referring to this state of feeling, he remarked: "I endeavoured to dissuade them from persist­ing in such idle and delusive schemes, which would meet with the approbation of such only as were fond of changes." But as his arguments did not avail, he proceeded to evince his zeal by his acts. From the side of a tavern in Marlborough he took down a notification of a town meeting, which had been called for the purpose of ascertaining the sentiments of the inhabitants respecting a revolt from New York. In giving an account of this affair on a subsequent occasion, he remarked with pleasant naiveté, or consummate impudence, "the inhabitants accused me of being guilty of a desperate mean act. They could not proceed to business for want of the notification, as the town clerk had no other minutes." His report, though neither accurate nor particular, presented a condition of affairs unfavorable to the continuation of the jurisdiction of New York over the New Hampshire Grants.*

Before the resolutions of the Convention concerning Cum­berland county had passed, James Clay, by the advice of Col. Williams, one of the former deputies, had issued circular letters containing a request that the people of each town would assemble and make known their intentions relative to the course they should pursue on the question of state jurisdiction, in order that their proceedings might be laid before the county committee of safety at the next meeting. Written returns were received from a few towns: verbal messages from others; but the majority did not deem it practicable to offer a reply. The greater part of the inhabitants of Hartford favored a separation from New York, but desired that an application to that effect should be made in the state Convention before the subject was brought before the Continental Congress. The particular sen

 

* Journal N. Y. Prov. Cong., i. 587, 646-648, 657, 659-662, 676, 684: ii. 317. Williams's Hist. ii. 82-88. Miscellaneous Papers, in office Sec. State N. Y., xxxv. 148, 149.

 

 

 

1776.]                       LETTER OF MR. CHARLES PHELPS.                      277

 

timent prevailing at this time was favorable to a peaceable revolt, if a revolt should be declared necessary to the wellbeing of the people. On the 5th of November, the county committee of safety assembled at Westminster. When the meeting was declared organized on the 6th, there were present nineteen representatives from sixteen towns. The session was, in many respects, a stormy one. A few questions arising from the disagreement of individuals were equitably decided, and others were referred to a future occasion. A certain man who had deprived his neighbor of the use of a "run of water," was commanded to restore the privilege, and was reminded that no person had a right to deprive another "of that which God and Nature" intended for the benefit of all. Complaint was made, and the fact was proved, that Solomon Phelps of Marlborough, had made himself obnoxious to those engaged in administering the affairs of the county. In consequence of this, the county committee ordered the committee of safety for the town of Westminster, at which place Phelps was then visiting, "to take and convey him to ye committee of the next town, and so on till he is conveyed, as was the practise in times past, to his own home." Such was the summary mode adopted by the early inhabitants of the "Grants," in dealing with those who, by misfortune or accident, manifested an unbecoming acerbity of disposition, or showed too little regard for the sentiments of the people or community with which they were connected.

But the most important topic which occupied the attention of the committee was the letter of June 21st, which had been written by Charles Phelps, and which had proved especially obnoxious to the New York Convention. Those who were will­ing to remain under the jurisdiction of New York wished to withdraw it from the Convention; those who were not dis­posed to acknowledge allegiance to that state regarded its sentiments with favor, and were not disposed to recall it. When the question was taken, the motion to withdraw prevailed. As soon as the result was made known the minority deter­mined to resent this declared opposition to their wishes. They accordingly denounced the acts of the majority as repugnant to the resolves of the Continental Congress, and entered their protest against any further proceedings on the part of the county committee of safety as then constituted. Explanations followed close upon their declaration, and the bolters were at length induced to withdraw their protest, and sit again as members of

 

 

 

278                          HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.                  [1776.

 

the committee of safety. A committee were then chosen to take into consideration a proposition to recall the letter then before the Convention, and substitute another in its stead. Their report was in these words:—

"The committee appointed by this body, to take under consideration the expediency of the letter sent from this body to the Convention of the state of New York, dated June 21st, touching being laid to some other state, &c., &c., report:— that, whereas, the committee of the county of Cumberland have received a handbill from the Convention of the state of New York, directing this committee to withdraw a letter sent to them from this body, bearing date the 21st of June last — We, the committee as aforesaid, having taken the same under consideration, report: That said letter ought to be withdrawn, and that we, notwithstanding, ought to enjoy all the privileges that any county in this state enjoys, and that we hold it our right to present to the Honourable the Provincial Convention of this state, a petition and remonstrance, setting forth those grievances that are the cause of the uneasiness that subsists among us, for their wise consideration and redress. And if, on proper deliberation, it may be thought proper a separation should be most conducive to the peace and happiness of this county, we do not preclude ourselves from the privilege of presenting our petition to the Honble the Continental Congress for their wise determination. We still mean to pay all due deference to the state of New York, and pay our proportion of the necessary charges of the state."

This report was accepted, and having been embodied in the form of a letter, was sent to the New York Convention. An amicable arrangement having been thus effected, the commit­tee of safety was adjourned to reassemble on the first Tuesday of June, 1777, "and not sooner except on emergent call." So discordant were the elements of which the county was composed, that it was found necessary to issue an "emergent call" early in the following month. In compliance with this call, the committee of safety convened at Brattleborough on the 2d of December. An attempt was then made to prepare a representation of the "broken situation" of the county. To such a course some of the members objected, and as the others were not disposed to yield, the objectors withdrew and broke up the meeting. The few who remained addressed a letter to the county representatives in the New York Convention, and de-

 

 

 

1776.]           DISCORD AMONG THE RANGING COMPANIES.          279

 

sired them to lay before their colleagues such a description of the state of the county as the circumstances would warrant. This was the only business transacted, and the members retired without naming any time or place for another meeting.

On the same day, the freeholders of Chester assembled in town meeting, and appointed Thomas Chandler to prepare a memorial to be sent to the New York Convention, setting forth the sentiments of the majority of the inhabitants of that town respecting the manner in which the affairs of the county had been conducted; and remonstrating against the propriety of allowing the representatives from Cumberland county to sit in Convention, when they had been chosen to that position by less than one-quarter of the votes of the people. The memorial was presented to the people a week later, and having been ap­proved of, the author of it was chosen to proffer it whenever a fitting opportunity should occur.

In addition to the disaffection arising from troubles of a civil nature, discord began to prevail in the ranging companies of the two counties. Major Hoisington had demanded of the New York Convention certain wages which he declared were due his men. The payment of this claim was delayed, because it had been neither satisfactorily stated nor proved. Failing to receive their wages, the men were not easily prevailed upon to do duty, even when their aid was most needed. In this emergency Gen. Jacob Bayley, of Newbury, wrote, on the 20th of November, to the committee who had been appointed to settle the difficulty with the rangers, in these terms: "If our rangers have not what was engaged them, viz. bounty, one month's pay, and billeting, we have no right to command them; and if that payment is not made, we must not expect them on any duty; and if General Gates, who doubtless stands in need of them, should call for them, he must be disappointed. Where the blame lies I cannot say. However, it is my opinion that the Major be paid according to his rolls, if authentic; after­wards he may be called to account, if he has been faulty. Otherwise, the whole had better now be dropped; better now than when one or two months' more time is spent to no purpose."

The prospect that the county would much longer remain, of its own accord, a part of the state of New York, was every day becoming more and more uncertain. At the close of the year 1776, the disaffection had become so general that many of the principal men were ready to announce their secession, and join

 

 

 

280                          HISTORY OF EASTERN VERMONT.                  [1776.

 

in forming a free and independent state, to include the whole of the New Hampshire Grants lying between Connecticut river and Lake Champlain.*

 

* Miscellaneous Papers, in office Sec. State N. Y., xxxvi. 191-196, 199-235 MS. Records Cumb. Co. Corn. Safety. Journal N. Y. Prov. Cong., ii. 210, 214, 315. MS. Records of town of Chester. Doc. Hist. N. Y., iv. 922, 923.