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Friday, July 05, 2013

Reconciliation

Speaking of not wanting to declare independence, the Olive Branch Petition was approved on July 5, 1775, dryly recorded thus:

The Congress resumed the consideration of the petition to the King, which being debated by paragraph, was agreed to, and ordered to be engrossed.

Historian Weldon Amzy Brown describes the situation:

Despite [John Dickinson's] gloomy apprehensions from the failure of the first petition, he did not despair of effecting a peaceful solution of the troubles and advocated a second petition to the King. A majority of the delegates again sanctioned his policy of conciliation. Dickinson and his friends supposed that the King and ministers had learned their lesson from Lexington and Bunker Hill, but John Adams thought that the dignity and pride of Great Britain would not tolerate another vacillation toward reconciliation. Thus a second petition would be a useless gesture, evidence of colonial fear and weakness.

[T]he fact that Dickinson was the chief spokesman of reunion and that he wrote the second petition, approved by the Congress, reveals his importance as a peace advocate. No other delegate so consistently pleaded for a peaceful solution and no other delegate received greater consideration when speaking for reunion than he did. Dickinson protested against Jefferson's original draft of the petition, because he thought it was filled with too many offensive statements. Jefferson wrote of Dickinson:

He was so honest a man, and so able a one, that he was greatly indulged even by those who could not feel his scruples. We therefore requested him to take the paper, and to put it into a form he could approve. He did so, preparing an entire new statement, and preserving of the former only the last four paragraphs and the half of the preceding one. We approved and reported it to Congress.

However, the second petition enraged New England and brought on a debate which showed all the bitterness of sectional jealousies.
...
The second petition widened the gulf between the party of Dickinson and reconciliation and that of John Adams and independence.  Thenceforth Adams found nothing favorable to say of Dickinson.

Indeed, Adams called him "a certain great Fortune and piddling Genius" in an unfortunate letter which, along with another to his wife, was intercepted by the British.  For some reason, they found this a tad inflammatory:

We ought to have had in our Hands a Month ago, the whole Legislative, Executive and Judicial of the whole Continent, and have compleatly moddelled a Constitution, to have raised a Naval Power and opened all our Ports wide, to have arrested every Friend to Government on the Continent and held them as Hostages for the poor Victims in Boston. And then opened the Door as wide as possible for Peace and Reconcilliation: After this they might have petitioned and negotiated and addressed, &c. if they would.—Is all this extravagant?—Is it wild?—Is it not the soundest Policy? 

One Piece of News—Seven Thousand Weight of Powder arrived here last Night—We shall send along some as soon as we can.

Anyway, the King was...not in a receptive mood.

ntodd

July 5, 2013 | Permalink

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