By Hannah Skipper
Word Count: 1099
Summary: Felicity finds out that George Washington is to lead the Continental Army.
Having run all the way from home, Felicity sank back against the wall at her father’s store to catch her breath as Mr. Merriman attended to a customer. Watching and listening to the goings-on with keen interest, she caught sight of Ben stocking shelves and stiffened to attention.
She’d know that gleam in his eyes anywhere. Something big had happened!
“So, what is it?” she asked, bouncing up behind him.
“Don’t you know better than to scare me while I’m working?” he chided gently. “I could’ve dropped something and maybe broken it.”
“Don’t put me off!” she retorted, unfazed. “What’s happened?”
“What are you talking about, girl?” he asked sternly, hands on his hips, even though he couldn’t suppress a smile.
“You tell me, Benjamin Davidson! You can’t even keep a straight face!”
He blushed and his shoulders slumped in defeat. “Alright, fine—” But his mouth clamped shut as Annabelle and Elizabeth Cole entered the store.
“What?” she prompted, shaking his arm to get his attention. “Ben, what is it?”
He shook himself, grabbed her by the arm, and half-dragged her into the storage room at the back of the store.
“What, Ben?” she asked again, practically begging, thrilled by his secrecy.
“I-I just didn’t want to cause your father any trouble if someone overhears us,” he answered, hastily explaining his actions. “I know the Coles don’t share our opinions on the–”
Felicity gasped, “There’s news from Philadelphia, then? What is it? What is it?” She could barely contain herself.
“Calm down, Lizzie!” he hissed, grabbing her shoulders and shaking her, fire momentarily blazing in his eyes. “We can’t be caught back here! People will think—”
“Okay, okay.” She understood.
“Now, listen to this,” he said, his eyes twinkling and his voice brimming with excitement again. “The delegates have voted to create an army and they unanimously chose Mr. Washington to be the commanding general!”
She gasped again. “What? How do you know?”
“One of his men came in about an hour ago,” he answered. “He was heading back to Mount Vernon with a letter for the general’s wife. He said Mr. Washington is already on his way north to take over.”
“The vote was unanimous?” she questioned. “Really?”
He nodded. “His man said that Mr. John Adams of Massachusetts nominated him, and the motion was approved unanimously.”
“But why would a man from Massachusetts nominate a Virginian?” she demanded.
“I asked him that myself,” Ben affirmed. “He said that Mr. Adams argued that if the colonies didn’t unite around the cause, then they’d lose. By nominating Mr. Washington, Mr. Adams said that they’d not only get a man with great military experience, but that he hoped the southern colonies would support the cause more fully if it was led by one of their own.”
“Father really respects Mr. Washington,” Felicity said proudly, “and so do I.”
“I don’t know anyone in Virginia who doesn’t,” he smiled, “and I’m glad to hear that the leading men in the other colonies think him worthy of such a great position.”
Then he stopped and cautiously peeked around the corner into the store. “I think we ought to get back out there. I need to get back to work.”
“But, Ben!” she protested, wild for more information. “There must be more news! Tell me! Tell me!”
“No, Lizzie!” he hissed. “Remember—”
Checking once more, he shoved her out of the storage room and she quickly moved away so that he could also return.
“So, what were you doing back there with Ben?”
“Elizabeth Cole!” Felicity whirled around to meet her best friend’s almost scandalous expression, “It’s not at all like that! How could you even think–”
“Then what was it?” Elizabeth asked teasingly, baiting her friend.
Felicity’s eyes widened. “Only that the men meeting in Philadelphia approved the creation of an army and appointed one of our own delegates, Mr. Washington, as commanding general. That’s all, Elizabeth Cole!”
Elizabeth’s teasing demeanor vanished in an instant, her face turning white with shock and sadness. “Why?” she asked, staggered by the news.
Felicity blushed and turned away, sorry that she’d let her friend tease her into blurting the news out. “Ben said that they want to unite the colonies to strengthen their position,” she answered softly, embarrassed that their conversation had turned to politics. “Since most of the men who are currently fighting are from the northern colonies, they thought that by putting a southerner into a leadership role the fight wouldn’t seem so regionalized.”
“How provincial,” Annabelle sneered, coming up behind them. “Just imagine the colonists standing up to His Majesty’s men!”
“Annabelle, please…” Elizabeth warned, not wanting to carry the conversation any further; the whole idea made her sick.
“But it’s so foolish, Bitsy,” Annabelle lectured, ignoring her sister’s wishes. “Just think, they believe that this one man holds enough sway that his appointment to lead their little army will unite the rebels and they’ll beat His Majesty’s men when our army and navy is the most accomplished in the world. Why, this will only be to their own ruin!”
“That’s what I’m afraid of,” Elizabeth muttered softly, pressing her lips together when her sister used her despised nickname. “I’m sorry, Lizzie. I’ve got to go home.”
Felicity nodded, feeling the rising tension between herself and the Coles as Annabelle’s argument held weight in practical Elizabeth’s mind. “Right, I better go see if Father needs me to do something.”
The two friends separated quickly and soon Felicity was headed for home, having not been needed at the store. She felt sure that her friendship with Elizabeth would survive this incident, but as she walked along, Annabelle’s words came back to her. Could Mr. Washington’s appointment really unite the colonies and would their unity really be enough to defeat the English juggernaut?
A Look Back: The Second Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in the summer of 1775. At first, they continued to seek a peaceful end to the growing rebellion. However, when the king failed to even give their Olive Branch petition an audience, the mood shifted and they began moving toward independence by approving a salaried army led by Washington and the Declaration of Independence.
The Olive Branch Petition was an appeal directly to King George III to intervene on behalf of his colonial subjects against the aggressions of Parliament. In sending such a document, the colonists were assuming that the king’s goodwill was with them and they wanted to reciprocate by assuring him of their loyalty.