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convulsions that have, more or less, agitated the governments of Europe, the United States have risen like a phoenix out of the fire of the French war with many of the belligerent nations of the old world, so that from a weak and small nation, in 1776, of not more than three millions of inhabitants, she has in the course of sixty-seven years, multiplied to the number of eighteen millions of free citizens, so that the history of all the nations of the earth cannot present to the mental view of mankind a parallel case of the rise of so great and prosperous a nation in so short a period of time.
The object and design of the writer is to put the rising generation, with all the rest of mankind, in remembrance of what Washington and our fathers suffered in privation, labour, and blood, to obtain the civil and religious liberty which we, as a nation, now enjoy. The work is written by a person who is still living, and who was a witness, more or less, from the commencement of the war, at the battle of Bunker Hill down to the present time.
Dr. Benjamin Franklin, in the month of July, 1773, who was then in the city of London, presenting to Captain John Hewson letters of address to General Roberdeau and several other gentlemen of the cities of Philadelphia and New York.
HISTORY OF THE REVOLUTION.
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Our object in this work is to give a brief view of the private and public life of Captain John Hewson, born in the city of London, Old England, in the year 1744; a descendant by the line of his fathers from Colonel Hewson, an officer in Oliver Cromwell's army. As he advanced in life, his mind became seriously exercised with the doctrines and principles of national, civil, and religious liberty; and it came to pass as he frequently met with the different political societies in the city of London, from the year 1767 to the year 1772, inclusive; and after reading and hearing of the different views which the members of those societies gave of the doctrines of civil, religious, and national liberty, and then taking into serious reflection some of the unjustifiable acts and measures of the British Houses of Parliament, in order to reduce the rising colonies of North America into a state of the most degrading vassalage to the reigning prince on the British throne, and after meeting more or less with those societies for a few years, his mind became so far illumined that he was led to read and strictly examine some of the most authentic histories of the rise and fall of the most prominent kingdoms and republics that the histories and annals of the world present to the calm and reflecting minds of rational and intelligent beings. The foregoing reflections finally led him to read and strictly search the Holy Scriptures; from whence it was said that the rulers and princes of the earth derive their doctrine and claims of the divine rights of the kings and princes of the earth. Mr. Hewson became somewhat astonished in reading in the writings of Moses, of the first Lord's anointed, which the Jewish lawgiver condescends to notice in his sublime history of the creation of the world. Moses introduces to our view the first mighty monarch over the human family, under a very repulsive appellation to every true lover of the liberties of mankind; namely, that of a mighty ruler before the Lord. So that it appears that the Supreme Being has not justified the Jewish legislator in giving to mankind any confirmation that the assumed claims of the kings and princes of the earth derive their crowns directly from Heaven; a doctrine which is no where established in holy writ. See the case of Saul, the first king over the children of Israel: “And Samuel called the people together unto the Lord to Mizpeh; and said unto the children of Israel, I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of all kingdoms, and of them that oppressed you: and ye have this day rejected your God, who himself saved you out of all your adversities and tribulations; and ye have said unto him, Nay, but set a king over us." i Sam. x. 17, 18, 19. Thus we see from holy writ that the doctrine of the divine rights of kings is based on a sandy foundation in their lust after princely power, by the entire disapprobation of the Almighty himself. Mr. Hewson was led to glance his eye askancely over the almost nameless successors of this princely father, or mighty hunter before the God of nations. As he continued the examination of all the subsequent rulers of mankind from the days of Nimrod down to the reign of George the Third, the then reigning prince on the British throne, and found that the annals of the world and the historic page, as it were, almost inundated the earth with flowing rivers and seas of blood, in the days of battle and war; and after he had read of the many unjust wars of these wonderful successors of the Lord's anointed ones, after the foregoing reflections had in quick succession passed through his mind, he was again led to take a view of some of the republics of ancient times, when he more clearly saw that in consequence of their not basing their governments on the sovereignty of the people, the ancient republics all lost the heaven-born blessings of free government, by the swords of such designing and artful characters as Philip and Alexander of ancient Greece, and the Cæsars of the once mighty republic of Rome, with many others of less notoriety. This consideration of all the gone-by republics of ancient times led him the more intensely to look into and impartially weigh the just causes of the complaints of the then thirteen colonies of North America, against the Stamp Act, and all the other obnoxious measures that were daily more or less germinating in the houses of the British Parliament. After this he spent some time in more diligently searching the sacred oracles of heaven, and there clearly saw in the Holy Scriptures of truth, wherein the Supreme Being most solemnly declares that in his kind and infinite love and unlimited philanthropy towards mankind, that he hath made of one blood all the nations and tribes of the children of men, for to dwell on the face of the earth; and hath also in his infinite wisdom determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitations, when the divine Majesty of men and angels again most solemnly confirms his former declaration, and solemnly declares, As I live, saith the God of nations, I am no respecter of persons, nor nations. After this the Most High fully clears and justifies his divine character from all false imputations of weak and childish partiality in the administration of his government and providence over men and angels: however characterized to the contrary, by short-sighted, ignorant, and sinful beings. And it came to pass, after these reflections had revolved through Captain Hewson's mind, he became fully convinced that the thirteen colonies of the then British North America were fully justified in the sight of Heaven, in their refusing to be taxed to the support of the king's government, without their being fairly and legally represented in the British Houses of Parliament. And it came to pass, after these views of the apparent justice of the opposition of the colonies, against the unrighteous demands of an arbitrary administration, that was more or less excited by the choler and national pride of that modern Nimrodical hunter over the nations of the earth, (which national pride led the British government to lay aside the eternal laws and principles of national justice, he was led to take a view also of the local situation of the rising colonies of North America; when he saw that in consequence of their being more than three thousand miles distant from most of the old governments of the European world, if there were left any vacant or unoccupied spots on the outer surface of the earth, where the sacred trees of civil and religious liberty would be most likely to take a firm and solid root in the earth, it certainly must be the arable soil and redolent air of the young colonies of North America: that in consequence of its being in a geographical view the most eminent position on the outer surface of the earth, to look for the bursting forth of the bright and morning star, as portentous of the rising of the bright and glorious sun of the civil and religious liberty of the human race, whose refulgent rays will soon reflect its light over all the enslaved nations of the earth, and shall finally disperse all the lowering clouds of kingly and priestly tyranny, which for so many ages have spread themselves over the true felicity and happiness of the human family during all the dark ages that mighty Nimrod and all his arbitrary satellites have for four thousand years been revolving round this primary orb of despotic power, and who have in their turn more or less enslaved the children of men. So that Captain Hewson, after the foregoing examination of the vassalaged condition of the past ages of mankind, and at the same time viewing the almost countless
millions of his fellow beings that are still in an enslaved condition, made up his mind to emigrate to North America; in consequence of which resolve, in July, 1772, he waited on Dr. Franklin, being then in the city of London, with a view of ascertaining whether the Doctor thought there was any probability of his meeting with encouragement among the people in the British colonies in his line of business, when the Doctor observed, that he had no doubt but that he would be encouraged by the good people of the British colonies; and desired Captain Hewson, if he made up his mind to emigrate to North America, to call on him, and he would give him letters of address to his friends in Philadelphia and New York. After this interview with Dr. Franklin, he went to work day and night at his occupation, which was that of a calico printer, being at that time almost one of the best trades for journey men in the city of London. And when he had accumulated about five hundred guineas, he sold off his household goods and other small effects, and in 1773 the lowering clouds that were passing over the seas of the national atmosphere that lay between the old Prince and his thirteen rising colonies of North America, about this time began to wear rather a portentous aspect, so that it appeared very likely that a heavy squall might very soon come down on the political seas, that lay between the thirteen colonies and the British empire. So that if Captain Hewson had any intention of going to North America, it was high time to be off, while the door of emigration remained open. As he was already done with his secular concerns, in July, 1773, he waited on Dr. Benjamin Franklin the second time, who kindly gave him letters of address to General Roberdeau and several other gentlemen of Philadelphia and New York, when he took his passage on board a ship under the command of one Captain Sutton, bound to Philadelphia; for himself, a young wife, and four small children, and in about eight weeks landed, in September, 1773, at the city of Philadelphia, and there remained through the winter of 1773 and 1774. In the spring of 1774, after looking for a location to commence the first calico printing in America, he found a place on the Delaware, about two miles from the city, and having all his works and apparatus in readiness to commence his business, he went to the city of New York in September, 1774, where he met with considerable encouragement among some of the merchants of that city. But while there, it pleased the All-wise Ruler of this sublunary world to remove his wife, the mother of his four children, (whom he brought from London,) to that undiscovered shore, from which sable bourne no solitary traveller has yet been privileged to return. Captain Hewson had received no information of this distressing occurrence until his return home, when he found Mrs. Hewson was deceased, and her motherless children billeted on some kind friends in the city of Philadelphia. So that this unexpected dispensation of an All-wise Providence, just as he was about to commence his business in America, spread for the time being a dark shade over his future prospects. But, notwithstanding this afflicting occurrence that passed over his family and domestic concerns, and the warlike attitude which was daily manifesting itself in the