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The General Court was ordered to be convened at Salem, in
* Resolutions, expressing the feelings that then actuated every class, were
fect the resolves of the Continental and Provincial Congresses, the only law givers they then acknowledged. This committee consisted of Col. Joseph Henshaw, Hezekiah Ward, Esq. Capt. Jonatban Newhall, Joseph Sargent, Seth Washburn, Samuel Denny, Thomas Newball, and Samuel Green. The town appointed men to manage their cannon, and voted to bave a contribution taken up, for the benefit of the poor in the town of Boston. The Provincial Congress bad recommended to the several towns, to withhold the amount of their annual taxes from Harrison Gray, who was the State Treasurer under the royal government, before the commencement of the difficulties in the colonies, and was still Treasurer; and that they should pay tben over to Henry Gardiner, Esq. of Stow, as the Treasurer for the province. With this recommendation, the town complied, and directed the amount of their taxes to be paid accordingly.* The militia of the town were called together, and a company of minute men drafted, who were to be ready to march whenever occasion required, at the shortest notice. Each soldier signed articles of enlistment, prepared by a committee of the town. This company was put under the command of Capt. Seth Washburn.
Col. Joseph Henshaw was again chosen representative to the Provincial Congress, in 1775, and urgently enjoined to procure that body to assume the powers of government, to prevent that anarchy and ruin with which the state was threatened. This was, indeed, a dark and trying hour. The arm of civil power had been underved. The same acts that resisted the tyranny of the mother government, annibilated the salutary restraint of those laws which bad been enacted, for there was no power to execute them. 'It seemed as if the land was to become a prey to the abandoned and unprincipled. But there was found to be a redeeming power in the land ; a power before which the wicked trembled, and the every person exercising authority to carry into execution any of the oppressive acts of Parliament. It was particularly resolved, that they would do no work for Timothy Ruggles, of Hardwick, John Murray, of Rutland, and James Putoam, of Worcester, Esq'rs. nor for any one in their employment. They also refused to work for all who had not signed the “pon-consumption covenant,” as it was called, and not only these, but every one, who should work for, or be employed by these interdicted persons. And in addition to their own resolutions, which they printed, they called upon all denominations of artificers to form similar associations and agreements. To these resolutions the names of forty three were affixed, among which was that of Seth Washburn, from Leicester.
* Mr. Gardiner was, afterwards, the first State Treasurer under the constitution of 1780.
strong bowed; the force of public and patriotic feeling was sufficient to check all disorders. At the meeting, in December, 1774, the town voted to aid the civil officers in arresting and securing riotous and disorderly persons, thus giving to the officers of justice the aid of public opinion, the most powerful of all supports.
In January succeeding, (1775) the town voted a bounty to each minute man, and, if called to march, as they express an opinion they will be, before May then next,) to be allowed the province pay," and they provided them all with ball pouches. All who were engaged in the province service were exempt from taxation, and yet, amidst all these fearful notes of preparation, though an attempt was made to suspend the schools and repairs to the highways, the town refused to suspend them. For the first six months of the year, they were represented in the Provincial Congress, by Deac. Oliver Watson, of Spencer, (then forming a district of Leicester, for the purposes of representation): for the remainder of the year, they were represented by Hezekiah Ward, Esq. In 1776, they chose Seth Washburn, to represent them in the General Assembly, and instructed him, by no means to consent to stopping the passage into Boston harbor, as had been proposed by the former Assembly, to prevent the enemy again coming into port, because it would tend to ruin the trade of Boston entirely. For some time before the declaration of Independence, by the Congress of 1776, had been made, the policy of that measure had been freely discussed, and advocated, or condemned, according to the hopes and wishes of the disputants. A meeting was had, in May, 1776, the 22d day of the month, in this town, for the express purpose of seeing if the town would uphold Congress in declaring the colonies independent of Great Britain, when they unanimously voted that in case the Hon. the Continental Congress should declare the colonies independent of Great Britain, they would support said Congress in effectuating such a measure at the risque of their lives and fortunes.” And when, in July, this declaration was received, it was read, agreeably to the order of Council, in church, by the minister, the first Lord's day after receiving it, and was recorded, in a fair legible hand, at full length, in the records of the town. The Hon. Joseph Allen, now of Worcester, was then their clerk. He had taken an active part in all the transactions of the day; and, if we mistake not, some of the most spirited and interesting papers upon the records of the town were the production of his pen.*
* We regret that we are not able to trace each of these to their proper
But it was not by resolutions and instructions, however spirited, alone, that the people of this town showed their adhererce to the cause of liberty. They made many and great sacrifices of their wealth, their ease, and comfort, and of lives too. We feel safe in affirming, that they promptly answered every call for men, or money, or provisions,during the war of the Revolution. Every quota of men was fully furnished, and, in many cases, this became extremely burdensome, since the first who enlisted into the Continental Army, instead of enlisting for three years, entered the Army “ during the war," and it was with difficulty, and great expense, that the drafts of three and eight month's men were filled, because so many of the young men were already in the Army. When the trumpet of war was first sounded at Lexington, a company of men belonging to Leicester and Spencer, marched, without delay, to the scene of action, and subsequently took an honorable part in the battle on Bunker Hill.
This company was commanded by Capt. Seth Washburn, whose Lieutenant was Joseph Livermore, of Spencer, and Ensign Loring Lincoln, of Leicester. There are yet six survivors of that company, and from them we have learned some of the particulars of their marching from here, and the services they performed. The officers of the company, besides those mentioned, were Peleg Hersey, John Brown, Aathony Sprague and William Crossman, Sergeants : Jason Livermore, Hezekiah Saunders, Daniel Hubbard, and Elijah Southgate, Corporals. The company was attached to the Regiment commanded by Col. Jonathan Ward, of Southborough, Lieut. Col. Barnes of Marlborough, and Maj. Timothy Bigelow, of Worcester. The news of the engagement at Lexington, arrived here, about noon of the next day. The men, constituting the company of minute-men, were then engaged upon their respective farms, and
messengers were dispatched to collect them. Not a moment of delay was made on their part; the plough was left in the furrow; they scarce took time to bid adieu to their families, and in a few hours were mustered upon the common in Leicester, and were soon on their march. Many anecdotes are related of the march of this company, that would have done honor to the days of Roman or Spartan virtue. It was truly a trying hour. It was the first time that the sound of war had been heard in their own borders for almost the life of a generation, and the fearful odds in which they were authors. One of them, at least, we believe to have been from the pen of Col. Thomas Denny ; some, from that of Col. William Henshaw; some, from that of Joseph Henshaw, and several, if we mistake not, from the pen of Mr. Allen.
to be engaged, naturally led to the most gloomy forebodings. The
* These were Mathew Johnson and Joseph Washburn, son of the commander, who were detached on the morning of the 17th for guard duty.