THE year 1775 was for New York City one of great doubt and anxiety. All classes had united in sending delegates to the first Continental Congress. The most ardent supporters of the Crown and Parliament were opposed to the Stamp Act and Tea Act, and were anxious to protest against them, and to try to bring about a more satisfactory understanding between the mother country and her colonies. On the other hand the popular party as yet shrank from independence. The men who thus early thought of separation from Britain were in a small and powerless minority; indeed, they were but a little knot of republican enthusiasts, who for several years had been accustomed at their drinking-bouts to toast the memory of the famous English regicides.
With the summoning of the second Continental Congress this unity disappeared, as the Whigs and Tories began to drift in opposite ways,the one party toward violent measures with separation in the background, the other toward reconciliation even at the cost of submission. A Tory mob tried to break up the meeting at which delegates to the second Congress were chosen, and were only