The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. — Marcus Aurelius

Story of the Thirteen Colonies - Helene Guerber

The Minutemen

Upon hearing the news of the Boston Tea Party Parliament made five harsh laws to punish the Bostonians. These were that no ships should be allowed to come in or go out of their port until they had paid for the tea; that the governor could send any one he pleased to England for trial; that the charter of Massachusetts was to be taken away that the colonists should receive and feed the troops; and that the province of Quebec should be extended to the Ohio, thus including the western lands claimed by Massachusetts.

The Bostonians said they could not, and would not, stand these five laws, which they called the "five intolerable acts." The other colonies declared that the Bostonians were right, and promised to help them resist; so it was decided that delegates from all the colonies should meet at Philadelphia, in 1774, to act together.

All the colonies except Georgia sent delegates to this First Continental Congress. They met in Carpenter's Hall, in Philadelphia, and decided to print and circulate papers explaining to the colonies, to the Canadians, and to the British people their causes of complaint. They also drew up a declaration of rights and an address to the king.

Samuel Adams, who is often called the "Father of the Revolution," wrote this petition to the king; and his young daughter, seeing the paper, cried: "Only think of it; that paper will soon be in the king's hand!" But her father dryly answered: "My dear, it will more likely be spurned by the royal foot!"

New England

There were many noted men among the fifty-five members of the First Continental Congress. Franklin had come home to take part in it, after having patiently tried to make peace with the Englishmen, who insulted him. While Congress was in session, some one asked Pat-rick Henry who was the leading man there, and he answered: "If you speak of eloquence, Mr. Rutledge of South Carolina is by far the greatest orator; but if you speak of solid information, Colonel Washington is unquestionably the greatest man on the floor!"

Before separating, this congress decided that another should assemble the next year to hear King George's answer to their petition, and to discuss what steps should next be taken. But although Congress was dismissed, the colonies, in spite of the bad postal arrangements of the age, kept up a lively correspondence.

Patrick Henry, on his return home, told the Virginia convention what had been done, and concluded an eloquent speech by saying: "We must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and the God of hosts is all that is left us." And in South Carolina the patriots loudly echoed the sentiments of their delegate, showing that "three million brave Americans, scattered over three thousand miles, had but one soul."

This was the opinion of patriots everywhere, and, feeling that they might soon be called upon to maintain their rights, they formed companies and drilled regularly. One of these bands of militia was formed in Virginia, where Washington said: "I shall very cheerfully accept the honor of, commanding it, if occasion requires it to be drawn out." In New England many similar regiments were drilled, and as these volunteer soldiers were to be ready to start at a moment's notice, they were known as "minutemen."

The women were quite as patriotic as the men. They gave up tea and all other imported goods, and began to spin and weave with such energy that they and their families soon wore nothing but homespun. Even at, a ball, in Virginia, the ladies wore rough cloth of their own manufacture, rather than purchase cloth, silk, and lace from England.

As Boston suffered most of all, the other colonies showed their sympathy by sending all the supplies they could by land. Indeed, neighboring places, such as Marblehead and Salem, even offered to let Boston merchants use their port free of charge.

Instead of answering the "olive branch "petition sent by the colonies, King George told General Gage, governor of Massachusetts, to bring the people to order as soon as possible. But Gage soon saw that the colonists were too angry to yield tamely, and all he dared do was to stop their meetings and to fortify Boston Neck.

Statue of Minuteman

But meetings were held in spite of him, for the principal Bostonians went to Cambridge, where they formed a Committee of Safety. This was to watch the movements of the British, collect arms and ammunition, and see that the minutemen were always ready for duty. For every one now felt that the fight must soon break out, although neither party wished to begin it.


Front Matter

Our Country Long Ago
The Barbarous Indians
The Mounds
Where the Northmen Went
The Northmen in America
Queer Ideas
Prince Henry the Navigator
Youth of Columbus
Columbus and the Queen
"Land! Land!"
Columbus and the Savages
Home Again
Columbus Ill-treated
Death of Columbus
How America Got its Name
The Fountain of Youth
"The Father of Waters"
The French in Canada
French and Spanish Quarrels
The Sky City
Around the World
Nothing but Smoke
Smith's Adventures
The Jamestown Men
Smith Wounded
Pocahontas Visits England
Hudson and the Indians
The Mayflower
Plymouth Rock
The First Thanksgiving
Snake Skin and Bullets
The Beginning of Boston
Stories of Two Ministers
Williams and the Indians
The Quakers
The King-Killers
King Phillip's War
The Beginning of New York
Penn and the Indians
The Catholics in Maryland
The Old Dominion
Bacon's Rebellion
A Journey Inland
The Carolina Pirates
Charter Oak
Salem Witches
Down the Mississippi
La Salle's Adventures
Indians on the Warpath
Two Wars with the French
Washington's Boyhood
Washington's Journey
Washington's First Battle
Stories of Franklin
Braddock's Defeat
Wolfe at Quebec
England and her Colonies
The Stamp Tax
The Anger of the Colonies
The Boston Tea Party
The Minutemen
The Battle of Lexington
Bunker Hill
The Boston Boys
The British leave Boston
Declaration of Independence
A Lady's Way of Helping
Christmas Eve
The Fight at Bennington
Burgoyne's Surrender
Winter at Valley Forge
The Quaker Woman
Putnam's Adventures
Indian Cruelty
Boone in Kentucky
Famous Sea Fights
The "Swamp Fox"
The Poor Soldiers
The Spy
A Traitor's Death
Two Unselfish Women
Surrender of Cornwallis
British Flag hauled down
Washington's Farewell