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says that he saw him “walking slowly down King Street, with his head bowed down, as if in a deep study.” “He entered my counting-room,” pursues the merchant, “and abruptly said, 'Gibson, do you feel like giving up the expedition to Louisbourg ?'” Gibson replied that he wished the House would reconsider their vote. “You are the very man I want!” exclaimed the governor.' They then drew up a petition for reconsideration, which Gibson signed, promising to get also the signatures of merchants, not only of Boston, but of Salem, Marblehead, and other towns along the coast. In this he was completely successful, as all New England merchants looked on Louisbourg as an arch-enemy.
The petition was presented, and the question came again before the Assembly. There had been much intercourse between Boston and Louis bourg, which had largely depended on New England for provisions. The captured militiamen of Canseau, who, after some delay, had been sent to Boston, according to the terms of surrender, had used their opportunities to the utmost, and could give Shirley much information concerning the fortress. It was reported that the garrison was mutinous, and that provisions were fallen short, so that the place could not hold out without supplies from France. These, however, could be cut off only by blockading the harbor with a stronger naval force than all the colonies together could supply. The Assembly had before reached the reasonable conclusion that the capture of Louisbourg was beyond the strength of Massachusetts, and that the only course was to ask the help of the mothercountry."
1 Gibson, Journal of the Siege of Louisbourg. · Lettre d'un Habitant de Louisbourg,
The reports of mutiny, it was urged, could not be depended on; raw militia in the open field were no match for disciplined troops behind ramparts; the expense would be enormous, and the credit of the province, already sunk low, would collapse under it; we should fail, and instead of sympathy, get nothing but ridicule. Such were the arguments of the opposition, to which there was little to answer, except that if Massachusetts waited for help from England, Louisbourg would be reinforced and the golden opportunity lost. The impetuous and irrepressible Vaughan put forth all his energy; the plan was carried by a single vote. And even this result was said to be due to the accident of a member in opposition falling and breaking a leg as he was hastening to the House.
The die was cast, and now doubt and hesitation vanished. All alike set themselves to push on the work. Shirley wrote to all the colonies, as far south as Pennsylvania, to ask for co-operation. All excused themselves except Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, and the whole burden fell on the four New England colonies. These, and Massachusetts above all, blazed with pious zeal; for as the enter.
1 Report of Council, 12 January, 1745.
prise was directed against Roman Catholics, it was supposed in a peculiar manner to commend itself to Heaven. There were prayers without ceasing in churches and families, and all was ardor, energy, and confidence; while the other colonies looked on with distrust, dashed with derision. When Benjamin Franklin, in Philadelphia, heard what was afoot, he wrote to his brother in Boston, “Fortified towns are hard nuts to crack, and your teeth are not accustomed to it; but some seem to think that forts are as easy taken as snuff.”i It has been said of Franklin that while he represented some of the New England qualities, he had no part in that enthusiasm of which our own time saw a crowning example when the cannon opened at Fort Sumter, and which pushes to its end without reckoning chances, counting costs, or heeding the scoffs of ill-wishers.
The prevailing hope and faith were, it is true, born largely of ignorance, aided by the contagious zeal of those who first broached the project; for as usual in such cases, a few individuals supplied the initiate force of the enterprise. Vaughan the indefatigable rode express to Portsmouth with a letter from Shirley to Benning Wentworth, governor of New Hampshire. That pompous and self-important personage admired the Massachusetts governor, who far surpassed him in talents and acquirements, and who at the same time knew how to soothe his vanity. Wentworth was ready to do his part, but his province
1 Sparks, Works of Franklin, vii. 16.
had no money, and the King had ordered him to permit the issue of no more paper currency. The same prohibition had been laid upon Shirley; but he, with sagacious forecast, had persuaded his masters to relent so far as to permit the issue of £50,000 in what were called bills of credit to meet any pressing exigency of war. He told this to Wentworth, and succeeded in convincing him that his province might stretch her credit like Massachusetts, in case of similar military need. New Hampshire was thus enabled to raise a regiment of five hundred men out of her scanty population, with the condition that a hundred and fifty of them should be paid and fed by Massachusetts. 1
Shirley was less fortunate in Rhode Island. The governor of that little colony called Massachusetts “our avowed enemy, always trying to defame us."? There was a grudge between the neighbors, due partly to notorious ill-treatment by the Massachusetts Puritans of Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island, and partly to one of those boundary disputes which often produced ill-blood among the colonies. The representatives of Rhode Island, forgetting past differences, voted to raise a hundred and fifty men for the expedition, till, learning that the project was neither ordered nor approved by the Home Government, they prudently reconsidered their action. They voted, however, that the colony sloop “Tartar,” carrying fourteen cannon and twelve swivels, should be equipped and manned for the service, and that the governor should be instructed to find and commission a captain and a lieutenant to command her.
1 Correspondence of Shirley and Wentworth, in Belknap Papers. Provincial Papers of New Hampshire, v.
? Governor Wanton to the Agent of Rhode Island, 20 December, 1745, in Colony Records of Rhode Island, v.
Connecticut promised five hundred and sixteen men and officers, on condition that Roger Wolcott, their commander, should have the second rank in the expedition. Shirley accordingly commissioned him as major-general. As Massachusetts was to supply above three thousand men, or more than three quarters of the whole force, she had a natural right to name a commander-in-chief.
It was not easy to choose one. The colony had been at peace for twenty years, and except some grizzled Indian fighters of the last war, and some survivors of the Carthagena expedition, nobody had seen service. Few knew well what a fortress was, and nobody knew how to attack one. Courage, energy, good sense, and popularity were the best qualities to be hoped for in the leader. Popularity was indispensable, for the soldiers were all to be volunteers, and they would not enlist under a commander whom they did not like. Shirley's choice was William Pepperrell, a merchant of Kittery. Knowing that Benning Wentworth thought himself the man for the place, he made an effort to placate
Colony Records of Rhode Island, v. (February, 1745).