An Incident In Boston
The Power of Decision
The greatest decision of all times, as far as any American citizen is concerned, was reached in Philadelphia, July 4 , 1776, when fifty-six men signed their names to a document which they well know would bring freedom to all American, or leave every one of the fifty-six hanging from a gallows!
You have heard of this famous document, but you may not have drawn from it their great lesson in personal achievement it so plainly taught.
We all remember the date of this momentous decision, but few of us realize what courage that decision required. We remember out history as it was taught we remember dates and the names of the men who fought ‘we remember Valley Forge and Yorktown’ we remember George Washington, and Lord Cornwallis. But we know little of the real forces back of these names, dates and place. We know still less of that intangible power which insured us freedom long before Washington’s armies reached Yorktown.
It is nothing short of tragedy that the writers of history have missed entirely even the slightest reference to the irresistible power which gave birth and freedom to the nation destined to set up new standards of independence for all the peoples of the earth. I say it is a tragedy because it is the self-same power which must be used by every individual who surmounts the difficulties of life and force lift to pay the price asked.
Let us briefly review the events which gave birth to this power. The story begins with an incident in Boston, March 5, 1770. British soldier were patrolling the streets, openly threatening the citizens by their presence. The colonists resented armed men marching in their midst. They began to express their resentment openly, hurling stones as well as epithets at the marching soldiers, until the commanding officer gave orders,
The battle was on. It resulted in the death and injury of many. The incident aroused such resentment that the Provincial Assembly (made up of prominent colonists) called a meeting for the purpose of taking definite action. Two of the members of that Assembly were John Hancock and Samuel Adams. They spoke up courageously and declared that a move must be made to eject all British soldiers from Boston.
Remember this --- a decision, in the minds of two men, might properly be called the beginning of the freedom which we of the United States now enjoy. Remember too that the decision of these two men called for faith and courage because it was dangerous.
Before the Assembly adjourned, Samuel Adams was appointed to call on the governor of the province, Hutchinson, and demand the withdrawal of the British troops.
The request was granted, the troops were removed form Boston, but the incident was no9t closed. It had caused a situation which was destined to change the entire trend of civilization.
Minds Begin to Work Together
Richard Henry Lee became an important factor this story because he and Samuel Adams corresponded frequently, sharing freely their fears and their hopes concerning the welfare of the people of their provinces. From this practice, Adams conceived the idea the a mutual exchange of letter between the thirteen colonies might help to bring about the coordination of effort so badly needed in connection with the solution of their problems. Two years after the last clash with the soldiers in Boston (March 1972), Adams presented this idea to the Assembly in the form of a motion that a Correspondence committed be established among the colonies, with definitely appointed correspondents in each colony, “for the purpose of friendly cooperation for the betterment of the colonies of British America”
It was the beginning of the organization of the far-flung power destined to give freedom to you and to me. The “Master-Mind” group had already been organized. It consisted of Adams, Lee and Hancock.
The Committee of Correspondence was organized. The citizens of the colonies had been waging disorganized warfare against the British soldiers through incidents similar to the Boston riot, but nothing of benefit had been accomplished. Their individual grievances had not been consolidated under one “Master-Mind” group. No group of individuals had put their hearts, minds, should, and bodies together in one definite decision to settle their difficulty with the British once and for all until Adams, Hancock and Lee got together.
Meanwhile, the British were not idle. They too were doing some planning and “Master-Minding” on their own account, with the advantage of having back of them money and organized soldiery.
An Instant Decision Changes History
The Crown appointed Gage to supplant Hutchinson as the governor of Massachusetts. One of the new governor’s first acts was to send a messenger to call on Samuel Adams, for the purpose of endeavoring to stop his opposition---by fear.
We can best understand the spirit of what happened by quoting the conversation between Colonel Fenton (the messenger sent by Gage) and Adams:
Colonel Fenton: “I have authorized by Governor Gage to, assure you, Mr. Adams, that the governor has been empowered to confer upon you such benefits as would be satisfactory [Endeavor to win Adams by promise of bribes] upon the condition that you engage to cease in your opposition to the measures of the government. It is the governor’s advice to you, Sir, not to incur the further displeasure of His Majesty. Your conduct has been such as makes you liable to penalties of and Acts of Henry VII, by which persons can be sent to England for trial fort treason, or misprision of treason, at the discretion of a governor of a province, But, by changing your political course, you will not only receive great personal advantages, but you will make peace with the King.”
Samuel Adams had the choice of two decision. He could cease his opposition ad receive personal bribes, or he could continue and run the risk of being hanged!
Clearly, the time had come when Adams was forced to reach instantly a decision which could have cost his life. Adams insisted upon Colonel Fenton’s word of honor that the colonel would deliver to the governor the answer exactly as Adams would give it to him.
Adams’ answer: “Then you may tell Governor Gage that I trust I have long since made my peace with the king of Kings. No personal consideration shall induce me to abandon the righteous cause of my county. And, tell Governor Gage it is the advice of Samuel Adams to him, no longer to insult the feelings of and exasperated people.”
When Governor Gage received Adams’ caustic reply, he flew into a rage and issued a proclamation which real, “I do, hereby, in His Majesty’s name, offer and promise his most gracious pardon to all persons who shall forthwith lad down their arms, and return to the duties of peaceable subjects, excepting only form the benefit of such pardon, Samuel Adams and John Hancock, whose offences are of too flagitious a nature to admit of any other consideration but that of condign punishment.
As one might say in modern slang, Adams and Hancock were “on the spot!” The threat of the irate governor forced the two men to reach another decision, equally as dangerous. The hurriedly called a secret meeting of their staunchest followers. After the meeting had been called to order, Adams locked the door, placed the key in his pocket, and informed all present that it was imperative that a congress of the colonists be organized, and that no man should leave the room until the decision for such a congress had been reached.
Great excitement followed. Some weighed the possible consequences of such radicalism. Some expressed grave doubt as to the wisdom of so definite a decision in defiance of the Crown. Locked in that room were tow men immune to fear, blind to the possibility of failure, Hancock and Adams. Through the influence of their minds, the other were induced to agree that, through the Correspondence Committee, arrangements should be mad for a meeting of the First Continental Congress, to be held in Philadelphia, September 5, 1774.
Remember this date. It is more important than July 4, 1776. If there had been no decision to hold a Continental Congress, there could have been no signing of the Declaration of Independence.
Before the first meeting of the new Congress, another leader, in a different section of the county, was deep in the throes of publishing a “Summary View of the rights of British America.” He was Thomas Jefferson, of the Province of Virginia, whose relationship to Lord Dunmore (representative of the Crown in Virginia) was as strained as that of Hancock and Adams with their governor.
Shortly after his famous Summary of Rights was published, Jefferson was informed that he was subject to prosecution for high treason against His Majesty’s government. Inspired by the threat, one of Jefferson’s colleagues, Patrick Henry, boldly spoke his mind, concluding his remarks with a sentence which shall remain forever a classic, “ If this be treason, make the most of it.”
It was such men as these who, without power, without authority, without military strength, without money sat in solemn consideration of the destiny of the colonies, beginning at the opening of the First Continental Congress, and continuing at intervals for two years---until on June 7, 1776, Richard Henry Lee arose, addressed the Chair, and to the startled Assembly made this motion:
“Gentlemen, I make the motion that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be free and independent States, that they be absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of
Great Britain is, and ought to be totally dissolved.”
Thomas Jefferson Reads Aloud
Lee’s astounding motion was discussed fervently, and at such length that he began to lose patience. Finally, after days of argument ,he again took the floor, and declared in a clear, firm voice, “Mr. President, we have discussed this issue for days. It is the only course for us to follow. Why then, sir, do we longer delay? Why still deliberate? Let this happy day give birth to an American Republic. Let her arise, not to devastate and to conquer, but to re-establish the reign of peace and of law.”
Before his motion was finally voted upon, Lee was called back to Virginia because of serious family illness, but before leaving, he placed his cause in the hands of his friend, Thomas Jefferson, who promised to fight until favorable action was taken. Shortly thereafter the President of Congress (Hancock) appointed Jefferson as chairman of a committee to draw up a Declaration of Independence.
Long and hard the committee labored on a document which would mean, when accepted by the Congress, that every man who signed would be signing his own death warrant should the colonies lose in the fight with Great Britain, which was sure to follow.
The document was drawn, and on June 28, the original draft was read before the Congress. For several days it was discussed, altered, and made ready. On July 4, 1776, Thomas Jefferson stood before the Assembly and fearlessly read the most momentous decision ever place upon paper:
When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect
to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes
which impel them to the separation…..”
When Jefferson finished, the document was voted upon, accepted and signed by the fifty-six men, every one staking his own life upon his decision to write his name. By that decision came into existence a nation destined to bring to mankind forever the privilege of making decisions.
Analyze the events which led to the Declaration of Independence, and be convinced that this nation, which now holds a position of commanding respect and power among all nations of the world, was born of a decision created by a “Master-Mind” group consisting of fifty-six men. Note well the fact that is was their decision which insured the success of Washington’s armies, because the spirit of that decision was in the heart of every soldier who fought with them, and served as a spiritual power which recognizes no such thing as failure.
Note also (with great personal benefit) that the power which gave this nation its freedom is the selfsame power that must be used by every individual who becomes self determining. This power is made up of the principles described in this book. It will not be difficult to detect in the story of the Declaration of Independence at least six of these principles: desire, decision, faith, persistence, the “Master-Mind” group, and organized planning.
From the Book: THINK AND GROW RIGH
By Napoleon Hill