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Part III. Nathaniel Hawthorne

X. The War For Independence

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"Now, at last," said Grandfather, "after weary years of war, the regiments of Massachusetts returned in peace to their families. Now the stately and dignified leaders, such as General Lincoln and General Knox, with their powdered hair and their uniforms of blue and buff, were seen moving about the streets."

"And little boys ran after them, I suppose," remarked Charley; "and the grown people bowed respectfully."

"They deserved respect; for they were good men as well as brave," answered Grandfather. "Now, too, the inferior officers and privates came home to seek some peaceful occupation. Their friends remembered them as slender and smooth-checked young men; but they returned with the erect and rigid mien of disciplined soldiers. Some hobbled on crutches and wooden legs; others had received wounds, which were still rankling in their breasts. Many, alas! had fallen in battle, and perhaps were left unburied on the bloody field."

"The country must have been sick of war," observed Laurence.

"One would have thought so," said Grandfather. "Yet only two or three years elapsed before the folly of some misguided men caused another mustering of soldiers. This affair was called Shays's war, because a Captain Shays was the chief leader of the insurgents."

"Oh Grandfather, don't let there be another war!" cried little Alice, piteously.

Grandfather comforted his dear little girl by assuring her that there was no great mischief done. Shays's war happened in the latter part of 1786 and the beginning of the following year. Its principal cause was the badness of times. The State of Massachusetts, in its public capacity, was very much in debt. So likewise were many of the people. An insurrection took place, the object of which seems to have been to interrupt the course of law and get rid of debts and taxes.

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James Bowdoin, a good and able man, was now governor of Massachusetts. He sent General Lincoln, at the head of four thousand men, to put down the insurrection. This general, who had fought through several hard campaigns in the Revolution, managed matters like an old soldier, and totally defeated the rebels at the expense of very little blood.

"There is but one more public event to be recorded in the history of our chair," proceeded Grandfather. "In the year 1794 Samuel Adams was elected governor of Massachusetts. I have told you what a distinguished patriot he was, and how much he resembled the stern old Puritans. Could the ancient freemen of Massachusetts who lived in the days of the first charter have arisen from their graves, they would probably have voted for Samuel Adams to be governor."

"Well, Grandfather, I hope he sat in our chair," said Clara.

"He did," replied Grandfather. "He had long been in the habit of visiting the barber's shop, where our venerable chair, philosophically forgetful of its former dignities, had now spent nearly eighteen not uncomfortable years. Such a remarkable piece of furniture, so evidently a relic of long-departed times, could not escape the notice of Samuel Adams. He made minute researches into its history, and ascertained what a succession of excellent and famous people had occupied it."

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Grandfather's Chair
Nathaniel Hawthorne

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