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While 1776 will remain the most memorable year in American history, 1775 actually marks the moment when the colonists became Americans. Hostilities had already begun, yet the delegates of the Continental Congress still sought to avoid war. On July 8, the Continental Congress approved and sent the Olive Branch Petition to King George III. At the same time, they sent an appeal stating the case directly to the British people. Both attempts failed, and we have found no evidence that the address was even published in England. Here, in Rivington’s New York paper, it is published in the first two columns of page one, and the first column of page two. [REVOLUTIONARY WAR].
Newspaper. Rivington’s New York Gazetteer...and Weekly Advertiser
, New York, N.Y., July 21, 1775. 4 pp., 11½ x 18 in.
“When a Nation, lead to greatness by the hand of Liberty, and possessed of all the Glory that heroism, munificence, and humanity can bestow, descends to the ungrateful task of forging chains for her friends and children, and instead of giving support to Freedom, turns advocate for Slavery and Oppression, there is reason to suspect she has either ceased to be virtuous, or been extremely negligent in the appointment of her Rulers.
In almost every age, in repeated conflicts, in long and bloody wars, as well civil as foreign, against many and powerful Nations, against the open assaults of enemies, and the more dangerous treachery of friends, have the inhabitants of your Island, your great and glorious ancestors, maintained their independence, and transmitted the rights of Men, and the blessings of Liberty, to you, their posterity....”
In a moment of ironic serendipity that reflects the colonial identity crisis of 1775, the next two columns print the congratulations of the Congress of Massachusetts Bay to George Washington upon his safe arrival in Cambridge to take command of the Continental Army, along with his response.
Cambridge, July 6, 1775 Address from the Colony of Massachusetts Bay
“To his Excellency GEORGE WASHINGTON, Esq; General and Commander in Chief of the Continental Army … impressed with every Sentiment of Gratitude and Respect, beg Leave to congratulate you on your safe Arrival... we equally admire that disinterested Virtue, and distinguished Patriotism, which alone could call you from those Enjoyments of domestic Life, with a sublime and manly taste, joined with a most affluent fortune, can afford to hazard, and to endure the Fatigues of War, in the Defence of the Rights of Mankind, and the Good of your Country … We beg Leave to assure you, that this Congress will, at all times, be ready to … contribute all the Aid in our Power, to the Cause of America, and your Happiness and Ease, in the Discharge of the Duties of your exalted Office…” (page 3, columns 1-2)
George Washington’s Response:
“His Excellency’s Answer. Gentlemen, Your kind Congratulations on my Appointment, and Arrival, demand my warmest Acknowledgments … In exchanging the Enjoyments of domestic Life for the Duties of my present honourable, but arduous Station, I only emulate the Virtue and publick Spirit of the whole Province of Massachusetts Bay …. The Course of human Affairs forbids an Expectation, that Troops formed under such Circumstances, should at once possess the Order, Regularity and Discipline of Veterans.—Whatever Deficiencies there may be, will I doubt not, soon be made up by the Activity and Zeal of the Officers, and the Docility and Obedience of the Men. These Qualities united with their native Bravery and Spirit will afford a happy Presage of Success…” (page 3, column 2)
The Congress offers similar congratulations to Charles Lee for his appointment to the position of Major General of the Army, with his response.
Further content includes a column-plus printing a substantial part of the Congressional Act establishing Rules and Orders for the soldiers of the already-formed Continental Army (p. 2, col. 4 to p. 3, col. 1; then to be continued in the next issue); a resolution of the Massachusetts Provincial Congress recommending the formation of committees of safety, correspondence, and inspection (p. 2, col. 3, bottom); an order for Boston voters to assemble in Concord to vote for new representatives (p. 2, col. 4, top); a resolution forbidding selling soldiers in camp liquor (p. 2, col. 4); reports that New Hampshire Royal Governor Benning Wentworth had fled to a British ship for his own safety (p. 3, col. 2) and other war news.
Disbound, sheets separated. Original paper flaws (creases) across pp. 1-2 with minor affect to text.