Chapter XII. The Beginning of the War
All that winter the people of the colonies
were anxious and fearful.
Would the king pay any heed to their petition? Or would he
force them to
obey his unjust laws?
Then, in the spring, news came from Boston that matters were
worse and worse. The soldiers who were quartered in that city
becoming more insolent and overbearing.
"These people ought to have
their town knocked about their ears and
destroyed," said one of the king's officers.
On the 19th of April a company of the king's soldiers started
Concord, a few miles from Boston, to seize some powder which
stored there. Some of the colonists met them at Lexington,
and there was
This was the first battle in that long war commonly called
Washington was now on his way to the North again. The Second
Congress was to meet in Philadelphia in May, and he was again
In the first days of the Congress no man was busier than he.
seemed to understand the situation of things better than he.
No man was
listened to with greater respect - and yet he said but little.
Every day, he came into the hall wearing the blue and buff
which belonged to him as a Virginia colonel. It was as much
as to say:
"The time for fighting has come, and I am ready."
The Congress thought it best to send another humble petition
king, asking him not to deprive the people of their just rights.
In the meantime brave men were flocking towards Boston to
people defend themselves from the violence of the king's soldiers.
war had begun, and no mistake.
The men of Congress saw now the necessity of providing for
They asked, "Who shall be the commander-in-chief of our
colonial Army ?"
It was hardly worth while to ask such a question - for there
could be but
one answer. Who, but George Washington?
No other person in America knew so much about war as he. No
was so well fitted to command.
On the 15th of June, on motion of John Adams of Massachusetts,
appointed to that responsible place. On the next day he made
but noble little speech before Congress.
He told the members of that body that he would serve his country
willingly and as well as he could--but not for money. They
for his necessary expenses, but he would never take any pay
And so, leaving all his own interests out of sight, he undertook
the great work that had been entrusted to him. He undertook
it, not for
profit nor for honor, but because of a feeling of duty to his
fellow-men. For eight weary, years he forgot himself in the
Two weeks after his appointment General Washington rode into
near Boston, and took formal command of his Army .
It was but a small force, poorly clothed, poorly armed - but
had the love of country in his heart. It was the first American
But so well did Washington manage matters that soon his raw
in good shape for service. And so hard did he press the king's
in Boston that, before another summer, they were glad to take
sail away from the town which they had so long infested and