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The American Revolution
First Shots of War
General Gage to Peyton Randolph, October 20, 1774

General Thomas Gage replies to the October 11 letter sent him from the Continental Congress with the following. How does Gage respond to Congress's assertions? What tone does Gage adopt in his letter?

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Boston, October 20th, 1774.

Sir,

Representations should be made with candour, and matters stated exactly as they stand. People would be led to believe, from your letter to me of the 10th instant, that works were raised against the town of Boston, private property invaded, the soldiers suffered to insult the inhabitants, and the communication between the town and country, shut up and molested.

Nothing can be farther from the true situation of this place than the above state. There is not a single gun pointed against the town, no man's property has been seized or hurt, except the king's, by the people's destroying straw, bricks, &c. bought for his service. No troops have given less cause for complaint, and greater care was never taken to prevent it; and such care and attention was never more necessary from the insults and provocations daily given to both officers and soldiers. The communication between the town and country has been always free and unmolested, and is so still.

Two works of earth have been raised at some distance from the town, wide off the road, and guns put in them. The remainder of old works, going out of the town, have been strengthened, and guns placed there likewise. People will think differently, whether the hostile preparation throughout the country, and the menaces of blood and slaughter, made this necessary; but I am to do my duty.

It gives me pleasure that you are endeavouring at a cordial reconciliation with the mother country, which, from what has transpired, I have despaired of. Nobody wishes better success to such measures than myself. I have endeavoured to be a mediator, if I could establish a foundation to work upon, and have strongly urged it to people here to pay for the tea, and send a proper memorial to the king, which would be a good beginning on their side, and give their friends the opportunity they seek to move in their support.

I do not believe that menaces, and unfriendly proceedings, will have the effect which too many conceive. The spirit of the British nation was high when I left England, and such measures will not abate it. But I should hope that decency and moderation here, would create the same disposition at home; and I ardently wish that the common enemies to both countries may see, to their disappointment, that these disputes, between the mother-country and the colonies, have terminated like the quarrels of lovers, and increased the affection which they ought to bear to each other.

I am, sir, your most obedient humble servant,
Thomas Gage.
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View the original document from the Journals of the Continental Congress in A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation. Use your browser's Back Button to return to this point.