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A Summary History of New-
England, from the first Settle-
ment at Plymouth, to the Acceptance
of the Federal Constitution. By

Hannah Adams. pp. 514. Ded-
. Mann and Adams. 1799.

THE history of our native coun-
try justly merits the highest
place in our regard; if not on ac-
count of the magnitude and singu-
larity of its revolutions, yet for the
unbounded influence of these revo-
lutions on the happiness of us and
our posterity. It constitutes an in-
structive and inestimable spectacle,
because it relates, in some sort, to
ourselves; because we are fully
qualified to understand it; because
its lessons are of indispensible use
in teaching us our duty, as citizens
of a free state, as guardians of our
own liberty and happiness, and of

those of that part of mankind who
are placed within the sphere of our
activity, and are best entitled to our
affection and beneficence.

Several domestic writers have un-
dertaken to discuss our history.
Some foreign ones (Robertson,
Stedman, Gordon, &c.) have pur-
sued the same tracks; but both fo-
reign and domestic historians have
hitherto confined themselves, either
to a limited period, or to narrow
local boundaries. The colonial
transactions of most of the Ameri-
can states, have been separately
discussed, with different degrees of
skill. The revolution, an event in
which all were somewhat, though
unequally, concerned, has been co-
piously related by severel writers.
National occurrences, since that pe-
riod, remain, for the most part, still
dispersed in public offices, fugitive
pamphlets, diurnal gazettes, and in
private manuscript collections; and
an historian of the United States,
in the fullest sense of that term, is
still wanting.

Hannah Adams, the writer of the
work before us, has presented us
with a narrative more comprehen-
sive than any we have seen. It
relates to five of the most ancient
and populous states, and deduces
their history to the period of the
adoption of the federal government.
Colonial incidents will gratify local
curiosity, but revolutionary, and
post revolutionary events, have re-
lation to the whole, and will claim
attention, therefore, from every citi-

This narrative is designed to be
merely a summary, compiled from
the collections of more laborious
authors, and from fugitive or mis-
cellaneous publications. A suc-
cinct, clear, comprehensive, and
judicious view of the subject she
has chosen, seems to have been the
only scope of her ambition. Minute
details and intricate inquiries, were
foreign to her plan. To the praise

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of having fully accomplished her
purpose, we think Miss Adams to
be indisputably intitled.

A plan like this, may be executed
with various degrees of skill. The
writer may glean, from all accessi-
ble sources, the facts required; and,
after deeply revolving, carefully
sifting, and accurately arranging
them, may clothe them in his own
language, and enforce them with
his own reflections. The utmost
industry, and the brighest genius,
are not disproportioned to this task.
No province is more dignified or
useful, than that of collecting the
wisdom which past experience has
furnished, and exhibiting that wis-
dom in the most perspicuous and
attractive form: and the province
rises in dignity by rising in useful-
ness, in proportion as these lessons
are applicable to greater numbers
and more lasting interests. To se-
lect the links of the historical chain,
and point out their connection and
dependance, becomes arduous, and
demands industry and sagacity in
proportion as those links are few,
and their bearings complex and nu-
merous. That modesty may surely
be commended which deems itself
unqualified for this task, and which
contents itself, chiefly, with taking
separate masses from the narratives
of others, and placing them in a
new order, without making consi-
derable change in their substance
or texture. To make an harmo-
nious and useful whole, from these
materials, will demand no small
degree of judgment and taste.

The author of this work has, in-
deed, done more than this. She
has made liberal use of the works
of noted and popular writers on
American affairs, but she has exer-
cised the privilege of new modelling
and abridging their accounts. In
her selection of authorities, and in
the use which she has made of them,
she will be allowed an uncommon
portion of praise. She manifests

an accurate knowledge of her sub-
ject, an ardent love of liberty, and
a masculine rectitude of judgment.

In estimating the merits of wri-
ters, we must sometimes look be-
yond the volume, and consider
many circumstances tending to en-
hance or to lessen the merit of their
efforts. It is surely no small addi-
tion to the credit which belongs to
the present writer, to observe that
she is a woman. So many causes
beyond what are incident to the
other sex, combine to divert fe-
male industry and ambition into
frivolous or improper channels, that
the same attainments are unspeak-
ably more meritorious in women
than in men. They are encom-
passed and besieged by so many in-
ducements to indolence, so many
perverters of the taste, so many en-
couragements to prejudice, that, to
repel, to shake them off, to rise
above them, argues an uncommon
force of mind.

In general, it is not to be ex-
pected, that women will seek, in
books, more than temporary amuse-
ment. By their rigorous exclusion
from all political offices, and by that
prejudice in the other sex which
banishes political discussions from
mixed circles, it is extremely rare
that they form any opinions in re-
lation to national transactions. If
the impulse of genius and ambition
be aided by opulence and leisure,
and they take up the pen, they
commonly content themselves with
writing sonnet, pastoral, or elegy,
full of rapturous sensibility and
tender woe. Some, perhaps, will
aspire to the province of the moral
painter, and exhibit, in drama or
narration, the variegated scenery
of fashion, and the progress of do-
mestic revolutions.

It has been a question, whether
genius is best employed in com-
posing the history of nations or that
of families, in detailing the events
of the life of a private individual, or

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those events which relate to com-
munities at large; and though we
should assign the superiority, in
usefulness and dignity, to the for-
mer, we must by no means with-
hold our respect from the latter. It
is likewise questionable, whether, in
pourtraying individuals, we should
bind ourselves down to the few au-
thentic facts which a casual observer
can collect, or may amplify those
facts, by adding, from the stores of
our own invention, motives and
circumstances agreeably to the laws
of sober probability and just taste.
However we decide, all will allow
that the latter province is far from
worthless and contemptible. In
this province it is, that women have
hitherto appeared as authors; and
yet, from some cause, it has hap-
pened that none of them have vied,
in moral sublimity, with Richard-
son, or, in witty elegance, with
Smollet. The greater number of
female productions, in this kind,
are sadly wanting in proofs of good
sense and the qualities of good
writing; and the best of them, it
must be owned, are deficient in that
discernment into characters, and
vigour of fancy, which are found
in similar productions of the other

Among the very few women
who have left, to humbler pens, the
glowing aspirations, and the graceful
languors of amorous and plaintive
poetry, who have raised their view
to the contemplation of national
events, and the province of instruct-
ing mankind in the sciences of policy
and government, the author of this
work deserves to be respectfully
mentioned. The usefulness of an
historical compendium of our own
history in general, is increased by
the judgment displayed in this at-
tempt; and we entertain sanguine
hopes, that the public approbation
will encourage Miss A. to persevere
in this laudable and useful path.

We should willingly introduce

several quotations from this work,
but are obliged to content ourselves
with a single specimen. The fol-
lowing account of the expedition
against Louisbourg, will serve to
shew the stile and spirit of the work.
The same transaction has been more
diffusely related by Dr. Belknap,
and has likewise been recounted by
Ramsay and Gordon. Hence the
curious reader will be able to judge,
by comparison, of the merit of this
compendium. The book, in gene-
ral, is distinguished by that propri-
ety of language, and clearness of
arrangement, which appears in the
following extract.

“News being received in Mas-
sachusetts that war was declared
against France and Spain, it was re-
solved by the general court, then
sitting, to make provision for rais-
ing forces for Nova-Scotia. Gover-
nor Shirley projected an enterprize
against Louisbourg, a fortified town
in the island of Cape Breton.
Twenty-five years had been devoted
to erecting its fortifications, which,
though not entirely finished, had
cost the crown of France thirty
millions of livres. The place was
so strong as to be called the Dunkirk
of America.
In order to reduce
this town, Governor Shirley solicit-
ed and obtained naval assistance
from England. The forces em-
ployed by Massachusetts consisted
of upwards of three thousand two
hundred of their own men. The
colonies of New-Hampshire and
Rhode-Island furnished each three
hundred, and Connecticut five hun-
dred. New-York sent a supply
of artillery, and Pennsylvania of

“William Pepperell, Esq. of Kit-
tery, a respectable merchant, and
a colonel of the militia, was ap-
pointed to command the land forces
in this expedition. They were
joined by a small squadron, under
the command of Commodore War-

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“The final resolution for this
enterprize against Louisbourg, was
carried but by the majority of one.
After they had embarked, the hearts
of many began to fail. Some re-
pented that they had voted for the
expedition, or promoted it; and the
most thoughtful were involved in
the greatest perplexity.

“Towards the end of the month
of April, Commodore Warren ar-
rived from the West-Indies, with
a sixty-four gun ship, and two of
forty. He was soon after joined
by another of forty, which had
reached Canso a short time before.
The men of war sailed immedi-
ately to cruise before Louisbourg.
The forces soon followed, and land-
ed at Chapeaurouge-Bay, the last
day of April. The transports were
discovered from the town early in
the morning, which gave the in-
habitants the first knowledge of the

“The second day after landing,
four hundred men marched round
behind the hills, to the north-east
part of the harbour, in the night,
where they burned the ware-houses
containing the naval stores. The
clouds of thick smoke, proceeding
from pitch, tar, and other com-
bustibles, driven by the wind into
the great battery, terrified the French
to such a degree, that they aban-
doned it, and retired to the city,
after having spiked the guns,
and thrown their powder into a
well. The hardships of the siege
were without parallel in all preced-
ing American operations. The
army was employed for fourteen
nights, successively, in drawing
cannon, mortars, &c. for two miles,
through a morass, to their camp.
The Americans were yoked toge-
ther, and performed labour beyond
the power of oxen; which labour
could be done only in the night,
or in a foggy day; the place being
within clear view and random shot
of the enemy's walls.

“Whilst the forces were busily
employed on shore, the men of
war, and other vessels were cruis-
ing off the harbour, as often as the
weather would permit. On the
19th of May they captured, chiefly
by the address of the gallant Capt.
Rous, a Massachusetts naval officer,
the Vigilant, a French sixty gun
ship, having 560 men on board,
and a great variety of military
stores for the relief of the garri-

“The capture of the Vigilant threw
the enemy into great perturbation.
This event, with the erection of a
battery on the high cliff at the light-
house, under the direction of Lieut.
Col. Gridley, by which the island
battery was much annoyed; and
the preparations which were evi-
dently making for a general assault,
determined Duchambon, the French
officer, to surrender; and, accord-
ingly, on the 17th of June, he ca-

“Upon entering the fortress, and
viewing its strength, and the plenty
and variety of its means of defence,
the most courageous were appalled,
and the impracticability of carrying
it by assault was fully demon-

“As this was a time when vessels
were expected from all parts at
Louisbourg, the French flag was
kept flying as a decoy. Two East-
Indiamen, and one South-Sea ship,
estimated at £600,000 sterling,
were taken by the squadron at the
mouth of the harbour, into which
they sailed, as usual, not knowing
that the place had surrendered to
the English.

“The weather was remarkably
fine during the siege; but the rains
began the day after the surrender,
and continued ten days incessantly,
which would undoubtedly have
proved fatal to the expedition, had
not the capitulation prevented.

“The religious inhabitants of
New-England contemplated, with

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pious gratitude, the remarkable in-
terpositions of divine Providence,
in the reduction of this town; and
the almost miraculous preservation
of the army from destruction.

“The news of this important
victory occasioned great rejoicings
in America, and filled Europe with
astonishment. The enterprizing
spirit of New-England gave a seri-
ous alarm to those jealous fears which
had long predicted the independence
of the colonies. Great pains were
taken, in England, to ascribe all
the glory to the navy, and depreci-
ate the merit of the army. How-
ever, Pepperell received the title of
a baronet as well as Warren. The
latter was promoted to be an admi-
ral; the former had a commission
as colonel in the British establish-
ment, and was empowered to raise
a regiment in America, to be in
the pay of the crown. The same
emolument was given to Shirley,
and both he and Wentworth ac-
quired so much reputation as to be
confirmed in their places. And,
after much difficulty and delay,
parliament reimbursed the colonies
for their expenses.”

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