Egor Shishlov

School: School 207, St Petersburg, Russia
 

A man with a free will, or an obedient servant?

 

July 4th 1806 

"My name is William Redrose. I was a member of the second Continental Congress. I was one of the Deputies from the State of Georgia. There was something that anyone knew neither in Congress, nor in press, nor among the historians. For this I could be judged and after a short hearing I would be sentenced to the capital punishment. But if you are reading this, it means that I am dead. I still do not believe that this venture has nearly succeeded. I am telling about myself, William Redrose and my mission - The Assassination of the American President.”

July 20th, 1775

William Redrose came to the house of the Second Continental Congress, later known as (in the future this house would be called) The Independence Hall. The Congress had been working since 10th May 1775, but deputies from Georgia joined it only that day. William looked around and after he made sure that no one was looking at him he pulled out of his jacket a sheet of paper and reread the instructions:

July 15th, 1775

In the name of King George The Third of the Hanover Dynasty and by his grace, William Redrose is assigned to be a Lord Protector of King’s power on 13 American Colonies. He has to adjudicate and enforce the judgements. The first judgement to enforce – the case of rebels and traitors – George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, John Hancock and other members of the Continental Congress. In the name of the glory of Great Britain they are sentenced to the capital punishment. The enforcement of the sentence must be fulfilled until 15th January 1776.”

            William hid the letter and came into the building. Inside the House he saw a big Hall full of men, who were discussing something. “It must be a break, so I am right in time,’ thought William. ‘Where are the other deputies from the state of Georgia?’ William looked around and tried to find the people of his state, but in vain, so he went to meet his new colleagues from the Congress.

            ‘You are one of the Georgian deputies, aren’t you?’ A fat old man in a green jacket came up to William and curiously looked at him. ‘We have been waiting for you since May, and we’re finally glad to see you here, among us.’ The man gave William a firm handshake. ‘I am John Adams of Massachusetts. What is your name?’

            ‘William Redrose, sir,’ said the spy and shook John Adam’s hand. ‘It is a pleasure to meet you, Mr Adams. Your rather radical ideas about Independence from Great Britain are… interesting.’

            ‘I am grateful for these flattering sounds, Mr Redrose, now I am confused,’ John Adams mumbled awkwardly, and smiled. ‘Well, I have to go. It was a pleasure to meet you, Mr Redrose!’

            ‘See you soon, Mr Adams!’

            ‘Oh gosh, it is John Adams, one of my most important targets,’ thought William. ‘Now I need to find Washington and Franklin, they must be somewhere near.’ He looked around to find someone to show him where Franklin and Washington were.

 

‘Gentlemen, it is 9am, so please come into the working hall!’ A man in a black suit invited everyone to the second floor.

            When people came into a spacious room with green walls and took their places. The man looked attentively at everyone and finally started to talk.

            ‘Good morning, gentlemen! My name is John Hancock and I am the President of the Continental Congress. Today on the 20th day of July when the Georgian authorities have finally come here and now 13 of 15 American colonies are represented today. Our Canadian colleagues refused to help us in the resistance.’ People from different states were clapping so John had to stay silent for a few moments. ‘The only thing that we have agreed upon finally is assigning George Washington the First General of the Continental Army.’ The President pointed to a rather old man in a military uniform. ‘Does anyone have anything to say before we start?’ John looked around and a very old man in a black jacket stood up. ‘I do, Mr Hancock,’ softly uttered the man. ‘As you may be aware my name is Benjamin Franklin. I am from Pennsylvania.’ Franklin looked at the Georgian deputies. ‘It’s a pleasure to see you all here, gentlemen. When I see that more and more people are agreeing with our policy, when I see that people are sending their elected authorities to say NO to foreigners, when I see that people have got a very important thing, without which it is impossible to build a free country with free government – the love of freedom and the freewill… When I see all that I understand that the power of the people, by the people, for the people will not perish from the earth.’ Everyone in the hall started clapping and many people stood up from their chairs to cheer Benjamin Franklin.

            ‘It was a great speech, Mr Franklin,’ said John Hancock when everyone calmed down. ‘If no one has anything to add, let today’s session begin, gentlemen! The issue is on the table, on the 17th of July, 1775 the British forces defeated ours in the Battle of Bunker Hill, Boston. I think that our soldiers became too relaxed after the Battle of Machias and we should show the soldiers that the war has not finished yet. Does anyone have a different opinion, gentlemen?’

            ‘I do have another opinion, Mr Hancock,’ George Washington proclaimed. ‘I think that American forces have won this battle, because we have lost about 400 soldiers, while the British have lost at least 700! Despite the fact that we have lost Bunker Hill, we have saved the lives of the soldiers. I think that THIS is the real victory, Mr Hancock.’ George Washington looked at the President of the Congress and sat down.

            ‘All right, General Washington, thank you for your words. If no one has anything to say, I suggest a compromise.’ Hancock looked across the room and when he understood that other people didn’t want to say anything he continued. ‘We will publish the official statement, where we will call this fight the tremendous disaster, but General Washington will propagate the idea, that our forces did everything right and there was no other way to save lives. If someone is against this idea, please, stand up and tell us why. I am giving you an hour to discuss it with other deputies from your state.’

            An hour later no one was against this plan and it was ratified by the Congress.

            ‘The state of Massachusetts has an offer!’ John Adams exclaimed and looked at the President. ‘We think that we should revenge the British for the Bunker Hill and attack Canada!’

            ‘Mr Adams, are you aware of the fact that such an impudent action can trigger Britain to attack Philadelphia and if they succeed, we’ll all be dead,’ explained someone next to Washington. ‘I don’t think that the death of all the members of the continental Congress will be good for the Revolution!’

            ‘I don’t agree with you, Mr Otis.’ Benjamin Franklin jumped up from his chair and glanced at the man sitting near Washington. ‘We are all well-informed that you are against our ideas of freedom and independence. And of course we understand that actions like attacking Canada are very provoking and they can lead to British invasion of Philadelphia. It is obvious that if they succeed, we all can die. BUT! If we die, others will take our places! American people will fight until the war has been won. It does not matter if we are alive or not! I am ready to die for the Revolution!’

            ‘I agree with you, Mr Franklin!’ shouted a young man near William. ‘We should attack Canada as soon as possible! If they try to attack Philadelphia we will show them how America treats the redcoats sons-of-a…’ The man suddenly stopped because he understood that the house of the Congress was not a good place for swearing. ‘I hope you will understand what I am talking about, sirs.’

 

William was amazed by all these men, by their ideas, and the power of their speeches. he waited until the break and during it, despite being hungry, he went out of the Independence Hall and decided to have a walk nearby.

            Not far away from the Independence Hall, William saw a boy who was selling newspapers. He bought one and started reading. The replenishment of Congress! Georgian authorities have come to Philadelphia!

            After reading the first sentence, William turned the page over. He started reading the next article.

            John Paul John. The greatest hero of America and the worst enemy of England. Last week, American admiral John Paul John attacked the British forces in Ireland. He was risking his life but he managed to destroy ten British ships and stole one. William turned the page. Marquis de Lafayette: Immigrant, that gets the job done. With the help of the French volunteer, Marquis de Lafayette, America formed an alliance with the native tribes. Lafayette came to the tribes without any men, any weapon or even a good plan. He risked his life but he managed to induce the natives on our side. Marquis de Lafayette is even not an American, but he does everything only to help our ideals of liberty and freedom spread all over the world. Redrose stopped reading the article and started another. Today our spy, Abe Woodhole, has been murdered by the English general, Thomas Gage. Abe was risking his life. His mission was to tell our troops the dislocation of the British forces. Abe Woodhole was a regular farmer from New York. he had two children and a beloved wife. William closed the newspaper. He started thinking. After everything that he had seen that day he could not stay loyal to the crown as he used to be. He was thinking about his targets. Were they guilty or not? That morning he could simply answer yes, they were guilty. But then he talked to them, listened to them, read about the other heroes of the land and he could not answer so simply any more. William had a lot of controversies after only one day in the Congress Hall. he was thinking about American leaders again and again.

            ‘They are traitors! They’ve betrayed the King! They must all die!’ thought William at first. But then he understood that this situation was full of contradictions. ‘But they are doing it for the people! They love their land. They are ready to die for Independence, for Freedom of their citizens and their Motherland. Would people from the Parliament or the King himself do the same for their people? What if Americans are right and we are not? What if we are the villains of the story? Should I accomplish the task of my country and dash the hopes of thousands of people? Or should I join the rebels, betray my country and help these people, these madmen, to build the new land, the land of freedom?’ William was really confused.

            It was a difficult choice between two evils. I don’t think that there were many men who would like to be in William’s shoes. He had to choose between betraying his Motherland, and exterminating the new-born nation.

            Then William thought of his ancestors. Alexander Redrose. That was the name of his great-great-grandfather. Alexander left Great Britain because of religious problems. The government of the Empire didn’t allow him to believe in God the way he did, so Alexander moved to the new land, the land of freedom. William heard this story from his father. And William’s father heard that story from his father. William’s grandfather heard that story from his father. And so on.

            ‘Even my forefather moved here to find freedom! Now the people of this place can get their freedom! They are already fighting for it! Am I allowed to prevent them from getting it!’ William took out the sheet of paper with the Royal Order and gazed at it for a few seconds. ‘It’s time to make my choice, no more time to wait!’ thought William. ‘Betray or kill.’ William read the text again and ripped it.

 

July 4th 1806

            A man with freewill or an obedient servant? This is a question that I am asking myself every day. I’ve betrayed my country and participated in the building of the new one. My mission was to crush the new nation in its infancy. I could not do that. When I ripped the royal order I made an irreversibly bad and good decision at the same time and even now I am not quite sure if my decision was right or wrong. The history will show.’

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