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Full text of "The life and services of Major General John Thomas"













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4l*liii 







THE LIFE AND SERVICES 



OP 

v 



. MAJOR GENERAL JOHN THOMAS. 



THE 



LIFE AND SERVICES 



OP 



MAJOR GENERAL JOHN THOMAS. 



<e^ 



COMPILED 

BY CHARLES COFFIN, 



COPY RIGHT SECURED. 



NEW - YORK : 

PRINTED BY EGBERT, HOVEY & KING, 

374 Pearl-street. 

(SUCCESSORS TO M. DAY & Go's PRESS.) 

1844. 






PREFACE. 

HAVING long been satisfied, from the general history of the 
Revolution, that no officer deserved the esteem and respect of 
his country more than GENERAL THOMAS, I have been led to look 
more particularly into the grounds of the high estimation in which 
he was held by Washington, Congress, the Army and the Country ; 
and am satisfied his fame was not ephemeral, but well founded. 

In this inquiry, valuable letters from generals WASHINGTON, 
LEE and SCHUYLER, and JOHN ADAMS, never before published, 
have come to light ; and are of such value, connected with the 
early movements of the Revolution, as to induce my consent that 
the whole should be published. 

THE COMPILER. 
New-York, July 4, 1844. 



MAJOR GENERAL JOHN THOMAS. 



THE determination of the mind to relinquish the soft scenes of 
tranquil life for the rough adventures of war, is generally attended 
with the conviction that the act is laudable ; and with the wish, 
that its honorable exertions should be faithfully transmitted to 
posterity. 

These sentiments lead to the cultivation of virtue ; and the 
effect of the one is magnified by the accomplishment of the other. 
In usefulness to society, the degree is inconsiderable between the 
conduct of him who performs great actions, and of him who 
records them ; for short must be the remembrance, circumscribed 
the influence of patriotic exertions and heroie exploits, unless the 
patient historian retrieves them from oblivion, and holds them up 
conspicuously to future ages. 

Whenever the images of the great men of the commonwealth 
are beheld, the mind is excited to virtue. It cannot be the wax or 
the marble which possesses this power ; but the recollection of 
their great actions kindling a generous flame in the breast, not to 
be quelled, till by virtue equal fame and glory is acquired. 
Regretting as all do, that the names, much less the deeds, of some 
of the principal actors in our contest for Independence, are 
scarcely known by their posterity, I have been led to this my 
present undertaking with the hope of contributing in some degree 
to repair the effects of this much lamented indifference. With 
this view, I am about to write the memoirs of the person whose 
name is at the head of t)gs article. It is at once discovered, that 

M183968 






the task will not be easy in itself, nor will it be entirely satisfactory 
in the performance. 

The causes which render it difficult in this case, are, no doubt, 
in some measure similar in all like attempts. The companions of 
General Thomas, in civil, professional and military life, have long 
since passed away, more than sixty-eight years having elapsed 
since his death. The confidential officers about his person, at his 
death, in a foreign province, overcome with the event, and occu 
pied with the necessary attention to their official duties, in an 
army prostrate with sickness of the most malignant kind, and on 
a retreat in an enemy's country, pursued by a well appointed 
army, flushed with success, and commanded by a consummate 
general, did not, and could not have given that attention to the safe 
keeping of the private papers of their general, which would have 
aided in the performance of the task imposed. On the part of his 
descendants it is admitted and regretted, that less care and atten 
tion have been given than should have been, to the preservation of 
those family records and traditions, which would have gone far to 
have made this memoir the more complete and interesting, and 
rendered the life and services of their ancestor more conspicuous 
and useful. 

The apprehension which seems to have influenced them, that 
they might be considered desirous to blazon the fame of their 
ancestor, was not a sufficient reason or excuse, for they should 
have considered, as they must have known, that he was an honored 
and cherished son of the republic. They should have constituted 
themselves the guardians of his fame, as well for themselves, as for 
their country and future ages. But what would seem almost 
incredible, is, that not even a newspaper sketch has ever been 
published of the services of General Thomas, to which reference 
could be had. But the facts within reach, and which have come to 
hand, are such that they cannot mislead. With the materials which 
remain, the undertaking will proceed, with the assurance, that 
biography shall not be turned to eulogy g|or history to romance. 



General Thomas' ancestors were of English descent, and 
among the first settlers of the town of Marshfield, in the County 
and Colony of Plymouth, where he was born in the year 1724. It 
is known that his grandfather and father both resided in this town ; 
were substantial farmers and leading men in the town with the 
Winslows and Whites. After a suitable preliminary education, 
he became a medical student with Dr. Cotton Tufts, of Medford, 
in the vicinity of Boston, a distinguished physician ; for at that 
time there were no medical colleges in Massachusetts or New 
England. 

On completing his medical education, Dr. Thomas commenced 
practice in his native town, but in a few years removed to Kings 
ton, in the same county, where he continued his professional prac 
tice till his death, except when connected witJuhe army. As a 
physician he was not only skilful but eminently successful. In 
March, 1746, he was commissioned as second surgeon in a body 
of troops, raised to be stationed at Annapolis Royal. In Febru 
ary, 1755, he was appointed surgeon's mate in Shirley's regiment, 
but soon left the medical staff, and was appointed a lieutenant in 
the same regiment the same year. 

In the year 1759, he was appointed a colonel, and re-appointed 
to the same office in 1760, by Governor Pownall. Whether he 
ever served in any of the intermediate grades in the army does 
not appear ; it is however highly probable he did. It appears by 
his* petition to the Governor and Council of Massachusetts, that he 
commanded his regiment part of both these years in Nova Scotia. 
In the year 1760, with his regiment, he joined the Anglo-American 
army at Crown Point, commanded by Sir Jeffry Amherst, com- 
mander-in-chief of all the forces in North America. After the 
many defeats of the British and American arms, in the first years 
of the old French war, under the command of Braddock, Shirley, 
Johnson, Abercromby, and Lord Laudon, the energetic Pitt, then 
Prime Minister of England, withdrew them all, and called Col. 
Amherst from the army m Germany, and promoted him to the 



[6] 

command in North America, with such men as Wolf, Monckton, 
and Townsend under him. Amherst afterwards became comman 
der of all the armies of Great Britain. This year completed the 
conquest of Canada, and in his well-arranged plans and move 
ments against Montreal, where the whole force of the French in 
that province were assembled, Col. Thomas had an honorable and 
important command. The celebrated Major Rogers, who com 
manded the partizan corps, called the Rangers, published a journal 
of all the campaigns of that war, which was printed in London, 
in 1764 ; the volume is now rarely to be found and should be re 
printed. He says, " I remained at Crown Point with my people, 
without effecting any thing considerable, more than small parties 
reconnoitering the country about the fort, while every thing was 
got in readiness for embarking the army the 16th of August, ( 1760,) 
which was done accordingly, having one brig, three sloops, and 
four rideaus, which latter were occupied by the royal train of 
artillery, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Ord. Our march 
was as follows, viz : six hundred Rangers and seventy Indians, in 
whale boats, in front, commanded by Major Rogers, as an ad 
vanced guard for the whole army, all in a line abreast, about half a 
mile ahead of the main body* followed by the light infantry and 
grenadiers in two columns, two boats abreast in each column, 
commanded by Col. Darby. 

The right wing was composed of Provincials, commanded by 
Brigadier Ruggles, who was second in command of the whole 
army. The left was made up of the New Hampshire and Boston 
(Massachusetts) troops, commanded by Col. Thomas.. The seven 
teenth and twenty-seventh regiments, with some few of the royals 
that formed the centre column, were commanded by Major Camp 
bell, of the seventeenth regiment. Col. Haviland was in front 
of these divisions, between that and the light infantry and grena 
diers. The royal artillery followed the columns and was com 
manded by Colonel Ord, who had for his escort, one Rhode Island 
regiment of Provincials. The sutlers, &c., followed the artillery. 



m 

In this manner we rowed down the Lake (Champlain) forty miles 
the first day, putting ashore where there was good landing on the 
west side, and there encamped. 

The following day we lay by. The 18th the wind blowing at 
south, orders were given for embarking, and the same day reached 
a place on the west shore, within ten miles of the Isle a Mot, 
where the army encamped. It having blown a fresh gale most 
part of the day, some of my boats split open by the force of the 
waves, and ten of my Rangers were thereby drowned. The 19th, 
we set sail early in the morning, and that night encamped on the 
north end of the Isle a Mot. The 20th, before day, the army was 
under way with intention to land ; having but twenty miles to go, 
and having the advantage of a fair wind, we soon came in sight of 
the French fort, and about ten in the morning, Col. Darby, with the 
grenadiers and light infantry, and myself with the Rangers, 
landed on the east shore, and marched and took possession of the 
ground opposite the fort on that side, without the least opposition." 

Thus far, Rogers, who is minute in the further advance of the 
army to Montreal, and the opposition it met with till its arrival at 
that place, on the 8th of September, when Amherst was joined 
by General Murray, from Quebec. His force was so imposing 
and all his arrangements so well made-, that the French governor,. 
Vaudreuil, surrendered his army and the town on the first sum 
mons. This event closed the war in North America. The Pro 
vincials and Rangers were never better commanded than on this 
occasion, by Ruggles, Thomas and Rogers. The two former 
were from Massachusetts, the one a distinguished barrister at law, 
the latter equally distinguished as a physician. Rogers was a 
native of New Hampshire, and commander of ih& Rangers 
through the whole war, and the most celebrated partizan this, 
country ever produced. 

Ruggles arid Rogers both joined the mother country in the con 
test for Independence. From this time to 1775, Col. Thomas 
continued engaged in. his profession at Kingston, where the revo 



[8] 

lution found him, in the enjoyment of domestic happiness, profes 
sional distinction, and well earned military fame. 

In the month of February, the Provincial Congress passed the 
following resolutions : " In Provincial Congress, Cambridge, Feb 
ruary 9th, 1775 : Resolved, That the Hon. Jedediah Preble, 
Esq., Hon. Artemas "Ward, Esq., Col. Seth Pomeroy, Col. John 
Thomas, Col. William Heath, be and hereby are appointed Gene 
ral Officers." 

The gallant and veteran General Preble, of Portland, father of 
the distinguished naval commander, Edward Preble, declined the 
service. It is believed he was induced to this course from his 
advanced age ; the others all accepted. The accurate biographer, 
Dr. John Eliot, in a note to a memoir of Gen. Sullivan, says of 
Gen. Thomas, "he was an officer who had acquired reputation in 
the French war. He was one of the best officers in our army in 
1775, and commanded the division nearest the British lines in 
Roxbury. A more brave, beloved and distinguished character did 
not go into the field, nor was there a man that made a greater 
sacrifice of his own ease, health and social enjoyments." 

Previous to the battle of Lexington, the Provincial Congress 
created the office of Lieutenant General, and appointed Thomas 
to the office, which gave him rank of Pomeroy. After the battle 
of Lexington, Ward was commander-in-chief, and had his head 
quarters at Cambridge, while Thomas commanded on the Roxbury 
side as Lieutenant General. 

Soon after this, the Continental Congress asssumed the army 
assembled at Cambridge, as the army of the United Colonies, and 
appointed the general officers to command the same. Among 
these, after Washington, were four Major Generals, eight Briga 
diers, and an Adjutant General. Ward being the only Major 
General Massachusetts was entitled to, Thomas should have been 
the first Brigadier of the army, and is so called in his commission, 
but the dates of the commissions gave Pomeroy and Heatli pre 
cedence* 



[9] 

This difficulty, with others of a similar character, and the result 
of them will be explained by Washington, in his first letter to 
Congress, from Cambridge camp, of July 10th, 1775, " I am very 
sorry to observe, that the appointment of General officers, in the 
provinces of Massachusetts and Connecticut, has not corresponded 
with the wishes or judgment either of the civil or military. The 
great dissatisfaction expressed on this subject, and the apparent 
danger of throwing the whole army into the utmost disorder, to 
gether with the strong representations made by the Provincial 
Congress, have induced me to retain the commissions in my hands 
until the pleasure of the Continental Congress should be further 
known, except General Putnam's, which was given him the day I 
came to camp, and before I was apprised of these disgusts. In 
such a step, I must beg the Congress will do me the justice to 
believe, that I have been actuated solely by a regard to the public 
good. I have not, nor could I have, any private attachments 
every gentleman in the appointment was a stranger to me, but 
from character j I must therefore, rely upon the candor and indul 
gence of Congress,' for their most favorable construction of my 
conduct in this particular. General Spencer's disgust was so 
great at General Putnam's promotion, that he left without visiting 
me, or making known his intention in any respect. General Pom- 
eroy had also retired before my arrival, occasioned, as it is said, by 
some disappointment from the Provincial Congress. 

"General Thomas is much esteemed, and most earnestly desired 
to continue in the service ; and. as far as my opportunities have 
enabled me to judge, I must join the general opinion, that he is an 
able, good officer, and his resignation would be a public loss. 

" The postponement of him to Pomeroy and Heath, whom he has 
commanded, would make his continuance very difficult, and pro 
bably operate on his mind as the like circumstances did on that of 
Spencer." 

Washington, in a letter to General Schuyler, of July 28th, says, 
" The arrangement of the general officers in Massachusetts and 



[10] 

Connecticut, has been very unpopular, indeed I may say injudici 
ous. It is returned to Congress for further consideration, and has 
much retarded my plan of discipline." Generals Wooster and 
Spencer were both senior to Putnam in the Connecticut State ap 
pointment, and by what fatality he was placed over them by the 
Continental Congress, is hardly necessary to inquire at this time, 
and in this place. Wooster and Spencer, probably, were never 
reconciled to their degradation, as they both eventually resigned 
and left the service. 

The difficulty in Massachusetts was entirely healed. General 
Pomeroy did not return to the army, and never received his com 
mission, and the Congress passed a special resolve, that General 
Thomas should have precedence of all the Brigadiers in the army, 
in which decision, the army and the public fully acquiesced. 

But previous to the decision of Congress, Thomas had with 
drawn from, his command at Roxbury, concluding that he could 
not in honor serve in an army and be commanded by those whom 
he had so recently commanded. His intentions being made 
known, efforts from various quarters, to retain him in the army, 
were made, which have no parallel in the military annals of this 
country or Europe. 

" House of Representatives, Watertown, July 22d, 1775. 
SIR, 

This House approving of your services in the station you 
were appointed to in the army by the Congress of this Colony 
embrace this opportunity to express their sense of them, and 
at the same time to desire your continuance with the army, if you 
shall judge you can do it without impropriety till the final deter 
mination of the Continental Congress shall be known with regard 
to the appointment of General Officers. We assure you that the 
justice of this House will be engaged to make you an adequate 
compensation for your services. We have such intelligence as 
affords us confidence to suppose, that a few days will determine 






1 11] 

whether any such provision shall be made for you as is consistent 
with your honor to accept, and shall give encouragement for you 
to remain in the service. 

By order of the House, 

JAMES WARREN, Speaker." 
GENERAL THOMAS." 

The next effort to prevent General Thomas from resigning, was 
made by General Lee, who at that time, as a military gentleman, 
was considered by many as superior to Washington ; and it was 
the first time in his life he ever condescended to address any one 
in the language of entreaty. 

" July 23, 1775. 

SIR, 

It is with the greatest concern that I have heard of your 
intention to quit the service of your country at a crisis when men 
of merit can be so ill spared. You think yourself not justly dealt 
with in the appointments of the Continental Congress. I am quite 
of the same opinion, but is this a time sir, when the liberties of 
your country, the fate of posterity, the rights of mankind are at 
stake, to indulge our resentments for any ill treatment we may have 
received as individuals ? 

I have myself, sir, full as great, perhaps greater reason to com 
plain than yourself. I have passed through the highest ranks, in 
some of the most respectable services of Europe. According then 
to modern etiquette notions of a soldier's honor and delicacy, I 
ought to consider at least the preferment given to General Ward 
over me as the highest indignity, but I thought it my duty as a citi 
zen and asserter of liberty, to waive every consideration. 

On this principle, although a Major General of five years stand 
ing, and not a native of America, I consented to serve under 
General Ward, because I was taught to think that the concession 
would be grateful to his countrymen, and I flatter myself that the 
concession has done me credit in the eye of the world ; and can 



[ 12 ] 

you, sir, born in this very country, which a banditti of ministerial 
assassins are now attempting utterly to destroy with sword, fire 
and famine, abandon the defence of her, because you have been 
personally ill used ? 

For God Almighty's sake,* for the sake of every thing that is 
dear, and ought to be dear to you, for the sake of your country, of 
mankind, and let me add, of your own reputation, discard such 
sentiments. Consider well the dreadful mischief such a pernici- 
cious example may occasion ; consider well w r hether such a pro 
ceeding may not bring down upon your head the contempt and 
abhorence of that community which has hitherto most justly held 
you in the highest respect. 

I beg you will excuse the liberty I take in thus addressing you ; 
and ascribe it to its true motive a zeal for the public good, and 
the great regard I have for your personal self, and that you will 
believe me to be most sincerely yours, 

CHARLES LEE/' 

GENERAL THOMAS." 

The next effort made to retain General Thomas in the army, 
was by our own Washington, and he never made a greater. 

Cambridge, July 23, 1775. 
SIR, 

The retirement of a general officer, possessing the confi 
dence of his country and the army, at so critical a period, appears 
to me to be big with fatal consequences, both to the public cause, 
and his own reputation. While it is unexecuted, I think it my 
duty to make this last effort to prevent it ; and after suggesting 
those reasons which occur to me against your resignation, your 
own virtue and good sense must decide upon it. In the usual 
contests of empire, and ambition, the conscience of a soldier has so 
little share, that he may very properly insist upon his claims of 
rank, and extend his pretensions even to punctilio : but in such a 






[ 13] 

cause as this, where the object is neither glory, nor extent of terri 
tory, but a defence of all that is dear and valuable in life, surely 
every post ought to be deemed honorable in which a man can 
serve his country. What matter of triumph will it afford our 
enemies, that in less than one month, a spirit of discord should 
show itself in the highest ranks of the army, not to be extinguished 
by any thing less than a total desertion of duty ? How little rea 
son shall we have to boast of American union, of patriotism, if at 
such a time, and in such a cause, smaller and partial considerations 
cannot give way to the great and general interest 1 These remarks 
not only affect you as a member of the great American body, but 
as an inhabitant of Massachusetts Bay, your own province, and 
the other colonies have a peculiar and unquestionable claim to 
your services ; and in my opinion you cannot refuse them, without 
relinquishing in some degree that character for public virtue and 
honor which you have hitherto supported. If our cause is just, it 
ought to be supported ; but where shall it find support, if gentle 
men of merit and experience, unable to conquer the prejudices of 
a competition, withdraw themselves in an hour of danger 1 I ad 
mit, sir, that your claims and services have not had due respect 
it is by no means a singular case : worthy men of all nations and 
countries have had reason to make the same complaint ; but they 
did not for this abandon the public cause they nobly stifled the 
dictates of resentment, and made their enemies ashamed of their 
injustice. And can America show no such instances of magnanim 
ity ? For the sake of your bleeding country, your devoted province, 
your charter rights, and by the memory of those brave men who 
have already fell in this great cause, I conjure you to banish from 
your mind every suggestion of anger and disappointment ; your 
country will do ample justice to your merits ; they already do it, 
by the sorrow and regret expressed on the occasion, and the sacri 
fice you are called to make, will, in the judgment of every good 
man, and lover of his country, do you more real honor than the 
most distinguished victory. 






1 You possess the confidence and affection of the troops of this 
province particularly ; many of them are not capable of judging 
the propriety and reasons of your conduct : should they esteem 
themselves authorized by your example to leave the service, the 
consequences may be fatal and irretrievable. There is reason to 
fear it, from the personal attachments of the men to their officers, 
and the obligations that are supposed to arise from those attach 
ments. But, sir, the other colonies have also their claims upon 
you, not only as a native of America, but an inhabitant of this 
province. They have made common cause with it, they have sac 
rificed their trade, loaded themselves with taxes, and are ready 
to spill their blood in vindication of the rights of Massachusetts 
Bay, while all the security and profit of a neutrality has been 
offered them. But no arts or temptations could seduce them from 
your side, and leave you a prey to a cruel and perfidious ministry. 
Sure, these reflections must have some weight, with a mind as gen 
erous and considerate as yours. 

' How will you be able to answer it to your country and 
your own conscience, if the step you are about to take should 
lead to a division of the army, or the loss and ruin of America be 
ascribed to measures which your councils and conduct could have 
prevented ? Before it is too late, I entreat, sir, you would weigh 
well the greatness of the stake, and upon how much smaller cir 
cumstances the fate of empires has depended. Of your own honor 
and reputation you are the best and only judge ; but allow me to 
say, that a people contending for life and liberty, are seldom dis 
posed to look with a favorable eye upon either men or measures 
whose passions, interests, or consequences will clash with those 
inestimable objects. As to myself, sir, be assured, that I shall with 
pleasure, do all in my power to make your situation both easy and 
honorable, and that the sentiments here expressed flow from a 
clear opinion that your duty to your country, your posterity, and 
yourself, most explicitly require your continuance in the service. 

1 The order and rank of the commissions is under the considera- 



[ 15 J 

tion of the Continental Congress, whose determination will be re 
ceived in a few days. It may argue a want of respect to that 
august body not to wait the decision : but at all events, I shall nat 
ter myself that these reasons with others which your own good 
judgment will suggest, will strengthen your mind against those 
impressions which are incident to humanity, and laudable to a cer 
tain degree ; and that the result will be, your resolution to assist 
your country in this day of distress. That you may reap the full 
reward of honor and public esteem which such a conduct deserves 
is the sincere wish of 

Sir, 

Your very 

Obed. and most humble Servant. 

GEO. WASHINGTON." 
GEN. JOHN THOMAS." 



ADDRESS OP THE FIELD OFFICERS OF THE SEVERAL REGI 

MENTS BELONGING TO THE CAMP IN RoXBURY. 

To the Honorable John Thomas, Esq. 
SIR, 

Your appointment as Lieut. General by the Provincial 
Congress, in consequence of which you took the supreme command 
in this camp, gave singular satisfaction to all acquainted with your 
character, both on account of your inflexible attachment to the 
liberties of your country, and your knowledge and experience in 
military movements ; and to your vigilance, prudence, and skilful 
management is to be ascribed in a great measure, that order and 
regularity for which this camp has been celebrated, and which are 
essentially requisite to the very being of an army. To these im 
portant services you have the purest incense to a great and good 
mind, the unfeigned thanks of the officers and soldiers under your 
immediate command, as well as of every friend to his country, and 
the rights of mankind. We are penetrated with the deepest con 
cern, that by an unfortunate concurrence of events, an arrange- 



ment is made, which leads you to think, that you cannot continue 
in the army, consistent with those delicate and refined sentiments 
of honor which are peculiarly and fitly characteristic of the soldier. 
We would not solicit you to do any thing derogatory to your rep 
utation, or the rank you have formerly sustained ; but as no man 
has so much endeared himself to the regiments which compose 
your brigade, as yourself, we earnestly request, that you would 
assume the command of it : that vast dignity and consequence of 
the cause we are contending for, may be more than a counterpoise 
to other considerations, of what nature soever, that yiour country 
may still be advantaged by your abilities ; and though mistakes 
are entailed to humanity, we doubt not the gratitude and justice 
of your countrymen, will reward you in some degree adequate to 
your merit. 

After all we submit the matter to your Honor's decision, assuring 
you that although we shall part with you with regret, yet we will 
demean ourselves as becomes the soldier. 

In behalf of the within mentioned officers. 

THEO. COTTON, President." 
Roxlury, July 25tk, 1775." 

If the above resolves, letters and addresses, had been unavailing 
to have retained Gen. Thomas in the service, or prevented his re 
signing until the decision of that august body, the Continental 
Congress, should be known, he must have been much more or 
much less than man. But being what he was, an honest man, an 
ardent patriot, and good officer, the means applied were effectual, 
and the result as we have seen, a restoration to rank and command. 
In the battle of Bunker's Hill, in June, Thomas took no direct 
part, although his post at Roxbury, on the south of Boston, was 
cannonaded during the whole day of the battle ; and the original 
plan of the British was to approach his command, and take pos 
session of Dorchester Heights. 

For on the augmentation of his force in May, 1775, General 



t 17] 

Gage determined to occupy the heights of Dorchester to the south, 
and those of Charlestown to the north of the town ; the occupa 
tion of these was not only necessary to the extension of his quar 
ters, but indispensable to his holding of them. It was therefore 
determined in the first instance to seize upon Dorchester Heights, 
as they were the most commanding, and of easiest access to the 
Provincials. Agreeably to the plan concerted, Howe was to have 
landed at the point of the peninsula nearest to the castle ; Clinton 
on the flat, between that place and Nook's Hill, whilst Burgoyne 
was to take post on the neck, and keep up a heavy cannonade on 
the camp at Roxbury, commanded by Thomas. 

From the strength, disposition and equipments of those corps, 
no effectual opposition could have been made to this operation of 
the royal army, and a few days more would have put it in posses 
sion of Bunker's Hill. The arrangements of General Gage, pre 
paratory to those meditated operations, necessarily attracted the 
attention of the inhabitants of Boston, and being communicated 
to the Provincial Congress, they became jealous of some hostile 
movement, without being able to penetrate the object of it. They 
recommended to the council of war the fortification of Dorchester 
Neck and Bunker's Hill. 

The resolution of the council of war being taken, Col. William 
Prescott, the hero of Bunker's Hill, was ordered to take posses 
sion of that height, which brought on the battle of the 17th of June, 
and prevented their taking possession of Dorchester Heights, 
which left that point open, and which Thomas afterward occupied 
with the happiest effect. 

From this time to March, 1776, General Thomas commanded 
the most .exposed camp of the besieging army, at Roxbury, and 
by constant vigilance preserved it from insult or injury. It having 
been determined to take possession of Dorchester Heights, which 
would bring on an action or produce the- evacuation of Boston by 
the British army ; on Monday the 4th of March, in the evening, 

these Heights were taken possession of by General Thomas with 

2* 



I 18] 

about twenty -five hundred men, and between three and four hun 
dred carts with entrenching tools, and a train of carts with facines 
and screwed hay. The whole moved in solemn silence, and with 
perfect order and regularity, while a continued roar of artillery 
from our lines served to engage the attention and divert the 
enemy from the main object. The amount of labor performed 
during the night, by this party, considering the earth was frozen 
eighteen inches deep, was almost incredible. 

On the morning of the 5th the British saw at once, there was 
no time to deliberate, Thomas must be removed or Boston evacua" 
ted. The former was immediately determined on, and a tremen- 
duous cannonade was commenced on our works from the forts in 
Boston, and the shipping in the harbor. During the forenoon an 
attack was hourly expected ; and nothing less than the carnage of 
Breed's Hill anticipated. During this time Thomas was reinforced 
with two thousand troops, and the Commander-in-Chief, arrived, 
and animated and encouraged the soldiers, by reminding them 
that it was the 5th of March, the day of the Boston massacre, 
which he recalled to their remembrance as a day never to be for 
gotten ; in his own words, an engagement was fully expected, 
and I never saw spirits higher, or more ardor prevailing." 

Our breast-works were strengthened, and among the means of 
defence were a great number of barrels, filled with stones and 
sand, arranged in front of our works, which were to be put in 
motion and made to roll down the hill, to break the ranks and legs 
of the assailants as they advanced. The anxious day passed with 
out an attack ; the next day the British made preparations for an 
assault, but a most violent storm obliged General Howe to aban 
don the enterprize. 

On the 7th, there were indications in Boston that the British 
were preparing to evacuate the town, and on the 8th they sent a 
flag of truce with the following paper, signed by the select men 
of the town. 



[ 19] 

" As his Excellency, General Howe, is determined to 
leave the town with the troops under his commancP, a number of 
the respectable inhabitants being very anxious for its preservation 
and safety, have applied to General Robinson, who at their request 
has communicated the same to General Howe, who has assured 
him that he has no intention of distressing the town, unless the 
troops under his command are molested during their embarkation, 
or at their departure, by any armed force without, which declara 
tion he gave General Robinson leave to communicate to the in 
habitants. 

If such an opposition should take place, we have the greatest 
reason to expect that the town will be exposed to entire destruc 
tion. As our fears are quieted with regard to General Howe's 
intentions, we beg that we may have assurances that so dreadful a 
calamity may not be brought on by any measure without. As a 
testimony of the truth of the above, we have signed our names to 
this paper ; carried out by Messrs. Thomas and Jonathan Amory, 
and Peter Johonnet, who have the earnest entreaty of the in 
habitants, through the Lieutenant Governor, who solicited a flag 
of truce for this purpose. 

JOHN SCALLY, 
TIMOTHY MARSHALL, 
TIMOTHY NEWALL, 
SAMUEL AUSTIN." 
Boston, March 8th, 1776." 

Washington gave no answer to this informal declaration of 
Howe's, or any assurances to the wishes of the inhabitants of Bos 
ton, but acted in conformity to both, by letting Howe depart unmo 
lested. General Thomas' own account of this transaction, in a 
letter to his wife, will be more acceptable to the reader, than any 
thing that can be said by another. 



[20] 

| 

" DEAR MRS. THOMAS, 

We* have for some time been preparing to take posses 
sion of Dorchester Point, and last Monday night, about seven 
o'clock, I marched with about three thousand picked men, beside 
three hundred and sixty ox teams and some pieces of artillery. 
Two companies of the train of teams were laden with materials 
for our works. About eight o'clock we ascended the high hills, 
and by day light got two hills defensible. 

About sun rise, the enemy and others in Boston, appeared 
numerous on the tops of houses and on the wharfs viewing us 
with astonishment, for our appearance was unexpected to them. 
The cannonading which had been kept up all night from our lines 
at Lamb's Dam, and from the enemy's lines likewise, at Lechmere's 
Point, now ceased from these quarters, and the enemy turned their 
fire towards us on the hills, but they soon found it was to little 
effect. 

About ten o'clock we discovered large bodies of troops embark 
ing in boats with their artillery, which made a formidable appear 
ance. After some time they were put on board transports, and 
several of the ships came down near to the castle, as we supposed, 
with a design to land on our shore. 

Our people appeared in spirits to receive them. We were now 
in a good posture of defence, and had two thousand men added to 
our number. The enemy viewed us critically, and remained in 
that situation that night. The next day they came to sail, and 
returned to town and landed their troops. On Friday, about two 
o'clock, P. M., they sent a flag of truce with a paper, a copy of 
which I enclose. 

I have had very little sleep or rest this week, being closely em 
ployed night and day. But now I think we are well secured. I 
write in haste, thinking you may be anxious to hear, as there is 
much firing this way. We lost but two men killed in all this affair. 
How things are in Boston, or what loss they have sustained from 
our shot and shells, at present, we are not informed, but I am sen- 



[21] 

sible we distressed them much, from appearances. I have wrote 
you enclosed by the same hand, and am in haste. 

JNO. THOMAS. 
Dorchester Hills, in a small hut, March 9, 1776. 

Your son John is well and in high spirits. He ran away 
from Oakeley privately, on Tuesday morning, and got by the sen 
tries and came to me on Dorchester Hills, where he has been 
most of the time since." 

Mrs. Thomas' disobedient son John, had been left by his father, 
on Monday evening, when he marched for Dorchester Heights, in 
the care of his colored servant Oakeley, who, no doubt, was 
instructed to keep him from mischief and danger, he being but ten 
years old. On Tuesday morning he found every thing in motion, 
and battle expected, where his father was to act a conspicuous 
part, considered it dishonorable for him to remain in retirement, 
hazarded his father's displeasure, and sought the post of danger. 

Years had passed, young as he was, since he had heard his 
parents and neighbors express their indignation at every kind of 
oppression, whether civil or religious. He might not have thought 
favorably of religious worship dictated by act of parliament, or of 
taxation without representation ; he might even have been so here 
tical as to have believed " that there might be a government with 
out a king, and a church without a bishop." Whatever John's train 
of thinking was at the time, which induced action, he made his 
appearance on Dorchester Heights, and it is hardly worth the con 
jecture in what manner he was received by a gallant and affection 
ate parent. John can now say more perhaps than any man alive, 
that in the hour of danger, and in expectation of close and stub 
born action, " I stood fearless, by the side of George Washington 
and John Thomas." Of all Washington's military plans, none 
were better formed, or more skilfully executed than that of taking 
possession of Dorchester Heights, which drove the British from 
Boston. The selection of the officer and troops to carry it into 



[22] 

effect were the best possible ; and nothing, however minute, was 
omitted to secure complete success. 

Washington had been eight months in command, and no success 
ful or brilliant operation had taken place under his immediate 
superintendance. People began to complain audibly, that he was 
not so desirous to take Boston as to prolong his command. They 
then did not know that he had frequently laid plans before his 
military council, to drive the British from that town, which were 
rejected on account of the too great hazard supposed to attend 
them. This was the first of his plans which was adopted. The 
first part of it, was, to compel retreat before the works at Dorches- 
ter ; the second, to enter the town of Boston by another body of 
troops, while the first part was in execution. In a letter to Col. 
Joseph Reed, he says, " The four thousand men destined to take 
possession of Boston, on the 5th, if the ministerialists had at 
tempted our works at Dorchester Heights, or the lines at Roxbury, 
were to have been headed by General Putnam. But he would 
have had an easy time of it, as his motions were to have been 
regulated by signals, and those signals by appearances. He was 
not to have made the attempt, unless the town had been drained, 
or very considerably weakened of its force." 

Congress were now looking for an officer to command the troops 
led into Canada by Montgomery and Arnold, and having been 
cautioned by Washington not to appoint a Major General, whom 
he named to them, for that service, they, on the 6th of March, pro 
moted General Thomas to the rank of Major General, and sent 
him to command in Canada. A letter from John Adams, then at 
Philadelphia, of March the 7th, to General Thomas, gives so cor 
rect a view of American affairs at that time, in that quarter, that it 
is here inserted. 

" DEAR SIR, 

The Congress have determined to send you to Canada. 
They have advanced you one step, by making you a Major Gene- 



[23] 

ral, and have made a handsome establishment for a table. Your 
friends, the delegates from your native province, were much em 
barrassed, between a desire to have you promoted and placed in 
so honorable a command on the one hand, and a reluctance at 
loosing your services at Roxbury or Cambridge on the other. But 
all agreed that you ought to be placed where you could do the most 
service, and Canada was thought by all to be very important, and 
by some the most important post in America. You will have ex 
cellent advice and assistance in the committee we are sending, 
Franklin, Chase and Carrol. 

Walker, Price and Bendfield, will be in Canada too, as soon as 
you. Generals Wooster and Arnold will give you the best infor 
mation. The department to which you are destined has been in 
great confusion, and every gentleman who has come from them 
has a different account. General Schuyler, who is an honest man 
and a good patriot, has had a politeness about him towards Cana 
dian and British prisoners, which has enabled them and their min 
isterial friends to impose upon him in some instances. 

This has occasioned some altercation between him and Wooster. 
Schuyler's head quarters will be at Albany, I suppose, and he will 
be of vast service, in procuring and forwarding supplies, and in 
many other ways in promoting the service. 

But his health will not permit him to go into Canada. I wish I 
could write you a volume, for to give you the characters of per 
sons in Canada of whom we have heard, and some of whom we 
have seen, which would fill one. But these hints must suffice. 
Your humble servant, 

JOHN ADAMS. 

Let me beg of you to write me if you can spare time. 
It is of great importance that the delegates from New England 
should be truly informed of the course of things in Canada." 

General Thomas, while in his proud command at Dorchester, 
was promoted, and appointed to a more extensive and important 



[24] 

command, which proved disastrous to his country, and fatal to 
himself. After seeing the British army and fleet leave his native 
province, he took his departure for Canada, and the difficulty of 
travel at that season of the year, may be conceived, but a letter 
from the good patriot, General Schuyler, will more fully reveal. 

Saratoga, Friday Evening, 8 o'clock, March 29th, 1776. 
SIR, 

By a letter this moment received from my secretary, I 
have the pleasure to learn you have arrived at Albany. Lest you 
should be induced by the hopes of still being able to cross the 
lakes on the ice to leave Albany, I send this by express to advise 
you of the impossibility. Four companies are now lying about 
forty miles north of Tieonderoga, without being able to proceed, 
as a great part of the lake is open. I hope a few more warm days 
and high southerly winds will remove the obstacles. 

The first of the cannon will arrive at Fort George to-morrow, 
and I hope the whole will be there by the middle of next week. 
Had a sufficient number of carriages been procured by the per 
sons to whose charge they were committed at New-York, they 
would have been at Fort George on Monday. I propose doing 
myself the pleasure to see you on Sunday, or Monday at farthest, 
by which time I hope all will be in such a train as to leave me to 
return without anxiety. 

I am sir, 
Your most obedient humble servant, 

PH. SCHUYLER." 
GENERAL THOMAS." 

We see what Mr. Adams had so recently foretold, that Thomas 
might rely on " the vast service Schuyler would render in procur 
ing and forwarding supplies, and in promoting the service in many 
other ways. The promptness with which the above letter was 
written and forwarded by express, in the night, the important in- 



[25] 

formation given, and his determination to wait upon his junior, for 
the purpose of giving further information, and congratulating him 
on his new and high command, as well as on the part he had 
recently taken in driving the enemy from the capital of New Eng 
land, must have been highly gratifying to General Thomas, and 
cheered and consoled him in the anticipated roughness of his new 
and trying situation. 

The accurate and faithful historian Judge Marshall, will be fol 
lowed, in substance, in what relates to every thing of the army in 
Canada and General Thomas, until his death. " In the month of 
April, General Wooster arrived at Quebec, at which time Arnold's 
horse fell with him, and injured his leg which had been wounded, 
and confined him for some time. Believing himself neglected, he 
obtained leave of absence, and took command at Montreal. 

A considerable part of the army being entitled to a discharge in 
April, no inducements could prevail on them to continue longer in 
so severe a service. This deduction of General Wooster's force 
was the more felt, because of the present state of the roads ; the 
lakes and the St. Lawrence, impeded for a time, the arrival of 
reinforcements destiped for his aid. 

Among the first who reached camp, in this state of things, was 
General Thomas, who had made great exertions to join the army. 
He arrived on the first day of May, and found his whole force to 
consist of nineteen hundred men, and less than one thousand, 
including officers, fit for duty. Among the effectives were three 
hundred entitled to a discharge, who refused to do duty. The 
sick were generally ill of the small pox, in the hospital. And this 
force was necessarily divided so as to occupy different posts which 
had been deemed necessary to maintain, at great distances from 
each other, and on different sides of the St. Lawrence, so that not 
more than three hundred men could be brought together at one 
point, which might be attacked by the whole force of the enemy ; 
and only one hundred and fifty barrels of powder and six days 
provisions. 



26 

Amidst these unpromising circumstances, the hope of taking 
Quebec, appeared to General Thomas chimerical, and the longer 
continuance before the town useless and dangerous. The first 
reinforcements which should arrive from England, would deprive 
him entirely of the use of the river, and embarrass the removal of 
his sick and military stores. No existing object remained to jus 
tify the hazard. Under these impressions, General Thomas called 
a council of war on the 5th of May, in which it was determined, 
that they were not in a condition to risk an assault, and that the 
sick should be removed to the Three Rivers, and the artillery and 
other stores embarked in boats, in order to move with the army 
higher up the river to a more defensible position. 

On the evening of the same day, certain intelligence was 
received that a British fleet was below, and the next morning five 
ships, which had with much labor and danger made their way up 
the river through the ice, before it was deemed practicable, ap 
peared in sight. They soon entered the harbor, and landed some 
men, whilst the Americans were assiduously employed in the em 
barkation of their sick and stores, an operation carried on the 
more slowly, because the first appearance of the ships in the river 
deprived them of the aid expected from the teams and carriages of 
the Canadians. 

At about one o'clock Carlton made a sortie at the head of one 
thousand men, formed into two divisions, and supported by six 
field pieces. No entrenchments had been thrown up for the sup 
port of the camp, and not more than three hundred men with one 
field piece, could be brought into action. Thus circumstanced, 
victory was scarcely possible, and could have produced no impor 
tant effect, as the enemy would immediately retire under the 
cannon of the town ; while defeat would certainly annihilate this 
little army. General Thomas therefore with the advice of the 
field officers about him determined not to risk an action, and ordered 
his troops to retreat up the river. This was done with much pre 
cipitation, and many of the sick with all the military stores, fell into 
the hands of the enemy. 



[ 27 ] 

Unfortunately, to their quantity were added two tons of powder 
just sent down by General Schuyler, and five hundred stand of 
small arms. The army continued its retreat to De Chambeau, 
where on the seventh, another council of war was called, in which it 
was agreed they should retire to the mouth of the Sorel. In pur 
suance of this advice, the remaining sick were moved up the river; 
but General Thomas was determined to continue in his present 
position some time longer, by the information that large reinforce 
ments were now passing the lakes, and might daily be expected ; 
but those reinforcements not arriving as his intelligence induced 
him to hope, and the enemy advancing in force, he was obliged to 
retreat to the Sorel, where he was seized with the small -pox, of 
which he died. 

The Americans in general were by no means satisfied with the 
conduct of this gentleman. To him, in some measure, they attrib 
uted the disasters which ruined their affairs in Canada : but this 
censure was unjust ; he took command of the army when it was 
too weak to maintain its ground ; and when the time for saving the 
sick and military-stores had passed away. The seige of Quebec 
instead of being persevered in longer, ought certainly to have been 
abandoned at an earlier period. 

This was the real fault of those who commanded at this station. 
It is to be ascribed to the reluctance always felt by inexperienced 
officers to disappoint the public expectation, by relinquishing an 
enterprise concerning which sanguine hopes have been entertained, 
even after every reasonable prospect of success had vanished ; and 
to encounter the obloquy of giving up a post, although it can no 
longer with prudence be defended." 

In April, when the troops left General "Wooster, on the expira 
tion of their enlistment, it seems surprising that he did not immed 
iately secure his sick and stores by a retreat up the river, take a 
strong position, and await the arrival of General Thomas. An 
unwillingness to disappoint public expectation, and the fear of 
meeting their temporary displeasure, seems to have been the only 
reason, as Judge Marshall conjectures. 



[28] 

On the death of General Thomas the command devolved upon 
General Thompson ; but soon after Gen. Sullivan arrived in the 
American camp, with reinforcements which increased the army to 
four or five thousand, and assumed the command. From this time 
retreat, defeat and misfortune followed the army in quick succes 
sion. After destroying some armed vessels on the Sorel and 
St. Lawrence, and burning the fortifications at Chamblee and St. 
Johns, he left Canada, and by order of General Schuyler took post at 
Crown Point, and was there superseded by General Gates. Thus 
terminated the enterprise against Canada ; it was bold and at one 
period promised success. 

Had a few incidents turned out fortunately ; had Arnold been 
able to reach Quebec a few days sooner ; or to have crossed the 
St. Lawrence on his first arrival, or had the gallant Montgomery 
not fallen on the 31st of December, it is probable the expedition 
would have been crowned with success. But as it would have 
required ten thousand troops to have retained possession of it, the 
expedition must be now viewed, as partaking more of the romantic 
than the useful. As it resulted it was unfortunate in every aspect 
in which it can be viewed. The loss of men by sickness and bat 
tle was great, as well as the munitions of war ; to which may be 
added the loss of the two best generals Congress sent into the 
field. Green was then unknown to fame. 

On the 8th of May General Thomas wrote to Washington, com 
municating the intelligence of his having raised the seige of Que 
bec, and commenced his retreat. On the 24th of the same month 
Washington replied, " I received your favor of the 8th instant with 
its enclosures, confirming the melancholy intelligence I had before 
heard, of your having been obliged to raise the seige of Quebec, 
and to make a precipitate retreat with the loss of the cannon in the 
batteaux, and interception of the powder going from General 
Schuyler. 

This unfortunate affair has given a sad shock to our schemes in 
that quarter, and blasted the hope we entertained of reducing that 



[29] 

fortress and the whole of Canada to our possession. From your 
representation, things must have been found in great confusion 
and disorder, and such as to have made a retreat almost inevitable ; 
but nevertheless, it is hoped you will be able to make a good 
stand yet, arid by that means secure a good part or all the upper 
part of the country. That being a matter of the utmost importance 
in the present contest, it is my wish and that of Congress, that you 
take an advantageous post as far down the river as possible, so as 
not to preclude you from a retreat, if it should be necessary, nor 
from getting proper supplies of provision. The lower down you 
can maintain a stand, the more advantageous will it be, as all the 
country will most probably take part with us, from which we may 
draw some assistance and support, considering all below as entire 
ly within the power of the enemy, and of course in their favor. 
This misfortune must be repaired, if possible, by our more vigo 
rous exertions ; and I trust that nothing will be wanting on your 
part or in your power to advance our country's cause." This was 
the last communication ever directed to General Thomas by his 
beloved Commander or Congress, and it is doubtful if this was 
ever received by him. It admits the retreat from before Quebec 
to have been inevitable, but at the same time must have renewed 
in Thomas' mind what he knew before, the great mortification 
such a step occasioned in the minds of Congress and his country 
men. This information, from such a quarter, must have been 
keenly felt by a mind like his, and at the same time, utterly beyond 
his power to apply an effectual remedy. With all the wisdom and 
firmness of Congress during our whole contest for independence, 
there seemed to be a delusion in their determination to take and 
keep possession of Canada. And Thomas must have felt that 
retreat, -however inevitable, would be viewed by them as disgrace. 
On the 2d of June, at Chamblee, on the river Sorel, while 
anxiously awaiting the expected reinforcements, he died of the 
small-pox, aged fifty-two years. The disease was so malignant 
that he was entirely blind some- days before his death. And what 



[30] 

is remarkable, he had in the course of his professional life, been 
familiar with the disorder, and uncommonly skillful in its treat 
ment, and yet had never taken it either by innoculation or other 
wise. He attained an enviable eminence in his profession in the 
section of the country of his residence. 

In his person he was six feet high, erect and well-proportioned, 
so that his appearance was commanding. In his manners, affable, 
gentlemanly and of unaffected sincerity. He never lessened his 
character or martial fame by arrogance or ostentation. Granting 
to all the applause due to their merit, he enjoyed that due to him- 
self with universal assent. As a disciplinarian he was correct, as 
the whole army bore witness. Among a b^dy of undisciplined 
countrymen, assembled at the seige of Boston, he was the first to 
introduce order and regularity without severity. He married 
Hannah Thomas, of Plymouth, a woman distinguished for intelli 
gence and accomplishments. 

At the time of his marriage he was rather advanced in life. 
He left a wife, daughter and two sons, both the latter still sur 
vive ; one of them was with him at Dorchester Heights. His wife 
lived to an advanced age, and died in 1819, universally respected- 
It does not appear, after he was advanced to high command, 
either in the French or revolutionary wars, any opportunity was 
afforded him of being engaged in close action with the enemies of 
his country. But by the testimony of officers with him in both 
wars, he was cool and self-possessed in every emergency. And 
when action was fully expected as at Dorchester Heights, his cool 
ness and self-possession inspired his troops with confidence, ardor 
and zeal for action, which Washington said he never saw surpass 
ed. His perfect collection and soundness of mind to the end of his 
last sickness, was noticed by all his attendants, as has often been 
remarked by the late Hon. Joshua Thomas, of Plymouth, then one 
of his aidd, and long after distinguished as an able and upright 
judge. 

But further particulars, of his. character are unnecessary, when 



[31 ] 

it is recollected that he received particular marks of favor and 
confidence from two of the first Generals of the age, Sir Jeffry 
Amherst and George Washington. 

This imperfect sketch is not only due to the memory of General 
Thomas on his own account, and the character of his respectable 
ancestors and descendants, but to the whole of the Union, and 
especially to the old colony of Plymouth, his native place. No 
section of New England was more distinguished for intelligence, 
patriotism and unanimity in the cause of self-government in church 
and state, and for its able defenders in the cabinet and field, as the 
Cushing's, Otis', Payne's, and Warren's in the councils of the 
nation, and the Thomas' and Lincoln's in the field, bear witness- 
Noth withstanding the loss of Thomas, the old colony preserved its 
standing, for his mantle fell and rested upon the brave and virtuous 
Lincoln. 

They were personally and intimately acquainted, as appears 
from business transactions between them a few days before the 
former left Cambridge for Canada, his last field. They were simi 
lar in manners and character, and attained an equal standing in the 
estimation of their countrymen. Lincoln's military career was 
longer and more variant ; but when vanquished and compelled to 
surrender an army and city, so well established was his spotless 
reputation that he continued to enjoy the undiminished respect 
and confidence of Congress, the army and the commander-in-chief, 
as fully as when he received the surrender of a well appointed 
British army at Yorktown. The offices he held in civil life, were, 
Secretary of War, uuder the Continental Congress, Lieutenant 
Governor of Massachusetts, when Hancock was chief, and Collec 
tor of Boston, from Washington, which he resigned under the 
fourth President of the United States. The income of the last 
office enabled him to re-purchase that part^of his patrimony which 
he had been compelled to sell for the support of his family. 

But the last and highest office he ever held was that of Deacon 
in the church of his divine Master, the pastor of which was the 



I 32] 

learned and pious Dr. Shute. This office he held, till his death, in 
the same church, formed on primitive, apostolic, Congregational 
principles, in which the Elder or Teacher was considered and 
treated, only as first among equals. General Lincoln was elected 
to this office by the brethren of the church, for his good report and 
wisdom, and his humility enabled him to perform all the duties of 
the office to the acceptance of the brethren, and doubtless to that of 
his Divine Master. He would not have received this office from 
any source less pure. He and his departed friend had hazarded 
their lives in defence of this principle in the church, as fully as for 
the right and ability of the people to govern themselvs in civil 
affairs. They had no reverence for the assumed power of kings 
or prelates. " Church and State ! what calamities has not their 
union brought on earth 1 It has proved the greatest misfortune to 
both, followed by woes, crimes, cruelties and bloodshed. It has 
made the ministers of the former, hirelings and courtiers. It has 
not been the chaste bride of Christ, but the prostitute of the world. 
Its legitimate position is one of conflict with the world ; till that 
shall be brought under subjection, and the spirit and principles of 
Christianity are completely triumphant. Christianity, in this union, 
is made to dance attendance on kings, to subserve their designs 
against the rights, welfare and dignity of man. The church and 
the world met together and kissed each other. In that kiss was 
poison and death. She that was to lead captivity captive, is her 
self a captive ; she has accepted terms, thrown down her arms, 
and hushed her voice of censure and denunciation. She speaks 
only in silken tones. When she ascended the throne of the 
Caesars, she deserted her own. "When a temporal sceptre was 
placed in her hand, she let fall that in which resided a portion of 
omnipotence. 

\Vhat propriety is tfiere in this union "? Has not the church 
within itself all the resources requisite to fulfil its mission ? Why 
look for human aid, as though there was cause to fear for its secu 
rity ? It is built on the rock of ages ; what need then of the sandy 



[33] 

foundations of earth 1 Are not their proper spheres different 1 
One is instituted to protect man's temporal interests, the other to 
promote his spiritual welfare ; one to suppress crime, the other to 
subdue passion and purify the heart ; one deals with external 
acts, the other with inward feelings and emotions. The ends 
therefore proposed to be effected by each being so diverse, there 
seems as much impropriety in their union, as there certainly has 
been evil and misfortune proceeding from it. 

This union has filled the world with infidels and scorners, asso 
ciated the Saviour with the .scourgers of mankind, and excited 
against his religion the hatred of millions !" Such patriots as 
Thomas and Lincoln, contended only against tyranny of the State, 
for they had been educated in the principles of religious freedom, 
and no part of the United States has preserved the simplicity of 
church government, together with the right of private judgment 
in religious concerns, and the sufficiency of the scriptures in every 
thing connected with religion, than the people of the old colony of 
Plymouth. They believe that congragationalism in church govern 
ment, and republicanism in civil government, are in perfect har 
mony, and consistent with each other. How then must these good 
men, long since ascended, have been moved, to have known that 
the declaration had been publicly made, in presence of their des- 
cendents, and by a prelate, " That there could not be a church 
without a bishop," and that bishop to prove his regular descent 
from papal Rome. To return from this seeming digression, and 
to close it is not only safe to imitate such men as Thomas, and 
Lincoln, but praiseworthy tQ emulate- their virtues and patriotism. 



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