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party had supported him with courage, they might have triumphed. The time for caution and deliberation had passed. By the terms of the "Algerine Act," they had all committed an overt act of treason, and the only proper alternative now was to go forward and fight, or to disband and submit to the penalties of the law. The friends of the legal government had not completed their preparations; they were almost stupefied at the audacity of the insurgents; and, as peaceable citizens, who had never before been called out of the quiet walks of life, they shrunk from a contest with desperate men, who had nothing to lose but their lives. They, also, are justly exposed to the charge of remissness and indecision at this crisis. Half a dozen of the ordinary minions of the law, armed only with a common warrant from a justice of the peace, we believe, might have arrested half of Dorr's "Assembly." A large portion of the insurgent troops had a greater dread of a constable than of a musket, and though they might have stood to their arms against a military force, they would probably have fled at the sight of
But the proper hour for action was missed by both parties, and the contest was therefore protracted. The usurping legislature passed a few insignificant resolutions, made a show of repealing the "Algerine Act," and then, after a session of only two days, adjourned to July 5th. Meanwhile, the General Assembly elected by the freemen came together at Newport, May 4th, to organize the legal government for the ensuing year. Roused by the insulting conduct of the Suffrage faction, they determined to vindicate the dignity of the State, and to support the authority of the law, by vigorous measures. Another requisition for aid was sent to the President of the United States by their authority, the former one having been issued by the Governor alone. President Tyler answered as before, that assistance should be given as soon as any act of open violence should be committed; and the pledge was soon partially redeemed by sending two or three companies of United States troops to Newport, with orders, as it was understood, as soon as a blow was struck, to take an active part on the side of the legal government. Two members of Dorr's legislature from Newport were arrested immediately on their return to that city, on a charge of treason. Many other arrests were made at Providence,
on the same charge, of persons who had assumed legislative or executive functions. Great commotion ensued, and crowds of people attended the accused to the place of examination; but only one attempt at a rescue was made, and that was stopped by the prudence of the person in custody. Dorr himself was surrounded by armed adherents, and, as it was supposed that an attempt to seize his person would lead to the shedding of blood, he was allowed to remain at liberty. He soon left the city, to seek for aid and countenance in New York and Washington.
The turmoil at Providence seemed to increase, and nearly all business was suspended. The most violent threats were uttered by the insurgent party, and the newspapers in their interest published the names of all the magistrates and other officers, who were active in making arrests, and mentioned their places of residence, with a hand pointing towards them, as if to guide the mob and the torch to their doors.* Governor King returned from Newport to Providence, and was escorted into the city by about three hundred soldiers, and six hundred citizens without arms. Active military preparations were continued on both sides. On the 16th of May, Dorr returned from New York, where he had made speeches to large assemblies of the populace, had received the gift of a sword, and had prepared a bombastic proclamation for the inhabitants of Rhode Island, promising to make their State the battle ground of American liberty. He entered Providence in a barouche drawn by four white horses, attended by nearly twelve hundred men, of whom two hundred and fifty were under arms. He took up his quarters at the house of Burrington Anthony, at Federal Hill, on the outskirts of the city, and was there guarded by his troops. His intention was openly avowed to seize the public property by force of arms, and emissaries were sent to bring in his armed adherents from the country, to swell the number of the forces. Probably three or four hundred were in this way collected, with two small field pieces; and, by some unaccountable negligence on the side of the govern
* "In recommending the massacre of all aristocrats, he [Marat] scrupled not to proclaim through his paper, the Ami du Peuple,' that 270,000 heads must fall by the guillotine: and he published lists of persons whom he consigned to the popular vengeance and destruction by their names, description, and places of residence." Brougham's Statesmen, 3d series, p. 107.
ment party, a company of them were allowed to come down into the city on the afternoon of Tuesday the 17th, and carry off, without resistance, two brass six pounders from one of the armories.
Meanwhile, the friends of the government were not idle. The citizens of Providence were requested to prepare for the defence of the city, and arms were furnished them for the purpose. The shops were closed, the business at the college was suspended. Professors and students, judges who had grown gray on the bench, and old men who had never before shouldered a musket, joined the ranks, and submitted to the drill. Guards were stationed at proper places, and patrols were established for the streets at night. Information being received, that the Arsenal, where a large quantity of arms and ammunition was stored, was to be the first object of attack, a company of infantry and one of artillery were stationed there, in addition to the ordinary guard of thirty men, and a number of volunteers. A steamboat was despatched to Warren, Bristol, and Newport, to bring in the troops from those places.
During the evening, about a hundred armed men from Woonsocket and other towns joined Dorr, and, before midnight, his force was increased to three or four hundred. one o'clock on the morning of the 18th, two signal guns were fired from his quarters, as if to inform his enemies as well as his friends, that the attack was to be made. The bells of Providence instantly tolled the alarm, according to the preconcerted plan, three strokes from one being followed by three strokes from another, and so on, round the city. The citizens flocked to the alarm posts, and among them were seen the aged father, the uncle, and the brothers-inlaw of the leader of the insurgents. Parties were sent out to strengthen the guard at the Arsenal, but the troops of Dorr were on the ground before them. With two hundred and fifty soldiers, and two pieces of artillery, he marched to attack this strong building, situated on an open plain about a mile and a half out of the city, surrounded by stone walls, and protected by at least an equal number of armed men, and five cannon. Passing round the city, and not through it, the insurgents arrived there some hours before daybreak, and sent a message requiring the garrison to surrender. The commander, Colonel Blodgett, returned a contemptuous re
fusal, and the artillery of the insurgents being then brought to the front, Dorr ordered his men to fire. The match was applied, but only the priming powder flashed, for some more prudent friend of the cause, without the knowledge of his fellows, had drawn the charge, and plugged the pieces. The men within the Arsenal waited for the first discharge before opening their own fire, which, from the exposed position of their opponents, must have been very destructive. But not a shot came, and it soon appeared, that the courage of the rebels had failed, and that parties of them were already retiring from the field without waiting for orders. The reinforcements from the city were advancing, and as the night was very dark, a heavy fog hanging over the river and the plain, hostile companies, not distinguishable by any peculiarity of dress or equipment, passed each other unchallenged. "The officer first in command under me," says Dorr, "had disappeared, and he was followed by others. Delay occurred in altering the position of the pieces." Most of the soldiers having retired, "I directed the pieces to be withdrawn, and left the ground at daylight with thirty-five or forty men. None remained behind after we had retired."
At daylight, the Mayor issued a notice, requiring the citizens to close their places of business during the day, and to meet at their alarm posts, at half past seven o'clock. The steamboat arrived at seven, bringing in the companies from Newport and the other towns. Five hundred soldiers, with six field-pieces, were then placed under the command of Colonel Blodgett, accompanied by Governor King, and moved towards.Federal Hill, with the determination to arrest Dorr. Most of the insurgents had dispersed ; but thirty or forty desperate men, half intoxicated, remained; and they loaded to the muzzle two pieces of cannon, which they still possessed, brought them forward so as to command the street by which the troops were to ascend to Dorr's headquarters, and stood by them with lighted matches, prepared to fire. Colonel Blodgett ordered a detachment to go round to their rear, and then, with the main body of his men, marched steadily up the street. The insurgents dared not fire, but gradually drew back with their cannon, till the troops came up to Anthony's house, which Governor King, with a company of soldiers, entered and searched, but without sucDorr had gone off about two hours before. A num
ber of men on horseback were instantly sent in pursuit, but he had the start of them, and was soon in safety beyond the limits of the State. The small party, who still held the two cannon, were then required to surrender. They refused, and the word was about to be given to fire upon them, when one of their leaders came forward, and said he had lost all command over them, for they were drunk and reckless; but if left to themselves, they would soon give up the cannon and disperse. Willing to avoid the effusion of blood, Governor King drew off the troops. The cannon were soon returned, and the last of the insurgents disappeared.
The detestable character of this revolt, and the prompt manner in which it was repressed by the government, had their proper effect on many of the misguided persons, who had hitherto been active in the party of the insurgents. On the morning of the 18th, most of the members of Dorr's legislature from the city of Providence resigned their offices, and published a handbill reprobating in the strongest terms the late violent proceedings, and in fact denouncing their former leader. Their example was soon followed by most of the soidisant executive officers and legislators appointed from the other towns. Dorr was now left almost alone among the former leaders of the party, and, the "government created under him having in fact dissolved itself, one would suppose, that neither pretence, means, nor inclination remained to him for continuing the revolt. But the dogged resoluteness of his character was opposed to any sign of submission, and his vanity being elated by the praises heaped upon him in some assemblages of the ignorant populace in the other States, he persevered in the attempt with a determination that savored of insanity. Little effort on his part was needed to keep up the excitement among the unthinking and uneducated classes, whose passions had first been roused by false statements and heated declamation, and whose ardor was now sustained and even increased by the electric influences of a revolutionary contest. It is easy, under such circumstances, to stir the passions of a multitude to madness, but a mighty power is required in order to direct or allay the storm.
The agitation that prevailed, the threatening language that was still used, and occasional rumors of insurgent gatherings in different parts of the State did not permit the legal author