THE ESTABLISHMENT OF GOVERNMENT AND THE NEW ALLEGIANCE
=The Committees of Correspondence.=—As soon as debate had passed into armed resistance, the patriots found it necessary to consolidate their forces by organizing civil government. This was readily effected, for the means were at hand in town meetings, provincial legislatures, and committees of correspondence. The working tools of the Revolution were in fact the committees of correspondence—small, local, unofficial groups of patriots formed to exchange views and create public sentiment. As early as November, 1772, such a committee had been created in Boston under the leadership of Samuel Adams. It held regular meetings, sent emissaries to neighboring towns, and carried on a campaign of education in the doctrines of liberty.
[Illustration: THE COLONIES OF NORTH AMERICA AT THE TIME OF THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE]
Upon local organizations similar in character to the Boston committee were built county committees and then the larger colonial committees, congresses, and conventions, all unofficial and representing the revolutionary elements. Ordinarily the provincial convention was merely the old legislative assembly freed from all royalist sympathizers and controlled by patriots. Finally, upon these colonial assemblies was built the Continental Congress, the precursor of union under the Articles of Confederation and ultimately under the Constitution of the United States. This was the revolutionary government set up within the British empire in America.
=State Constitutions Framed.=—With the rise of these new assemblies of the people, the old colonial governments broke down. From the royal provinces the governor, the judges, and the high officers fled in haste, and it became necessary to substitute patriot authorities. The appeal to the colonies advising them to adopt a new form of government for themselves, issued by the Congress in May, 1776, was quickly acted upon. Before the expiration of a year, Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Georgia, and New York had drafted new constitutions as states, not as colonies uncertain of their destinies. Connecticut and Rhode Island, holding that their ancient charters were equal to their needs, merely renounced their allegiance to the king and went on as before so far as the form of government was concerned. South Carolina, which had drafted a temporary plan early in 1776, drew up a new and more complete constitution in 1778. Two years later Massachusetts with much deliberation put into force its fundamental law, which in most of its essential features remains unchanged to-day.