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gation of all its parts, he demonstrated the mis, chiefs and the dangers with which it was replete. This letter was referred to a committee of Con, gress.
Their report admits the force of the reasons urged by the commander in chief against the expedition, and the conviction of the committee that nothing important could be attempted, unless the enemy should evacuate the posts they held in the United States; and that even in that event, the present plan was far too complex.
Men however recede slowly, and with difficulty, from favourite and flattering projects once resolved on; and the committee in their report proceeded to state their opinion, that such evacuation would probably take place before the active part of the ensuing campaign. They therefore conceived that eventual measures ought to be taken for the expedition.
Members of Congress probably felt, in some degree, committed by the conversations which had been held on this subject with La Fayette, and with the minister of France. It was probably supposed by no means impossible that the measures already taken had inclined the cabinet of Versailles
in the enterprise. This seems to have been in view when, in the conclusion of their report, the committee expressed their opinion to be, " that the question whether any, and what force
can or will be sent for the emancipation of Quebec, by his Möst Christian Majesty, must depend on circumstances and situations which cannot at present be known on this side the Atlantic; but they conceive it will be in his power to operate with effect for that purpose, and, as well from the importance of the object, as from his former exertions in favour of these states, they doubt not but in such case he will readily afford his assistance.
« That they are therefore of opinion, that the General should be directed to write to the Marquis de la Fayette upon that subject; and also to write to the minister of these states at the court of Versailles very fully, to the end that eventual measures may be taken, in case an armament should be sent from France to Quebec, for co-operating therewith to the utmost degree which the finances and resources of these states will admit.”
This report also was approved by Congress, and transmitted to the commander in chief. He felt himself in no small degree embarrassed by it. All his objections to the project framed by Congress remained in full force; yet he found himself called on to open a correspondence for the purpose of soliciting the concurrence of France in an expedition he disapproved, and of promising a co-operation he believed to be impracticable. In reply to this communication he said, “ The earnest desire I have strictly to comply in every instance
with the views and instructions of Congress, cannot but make me feel the greatest uneasiness, when I find myself in circumstances of hesitation or doubt with respect to their directions. But the perfect confidence I have in the justice and candour of that honourable body, emboldens me to communicate without reserve the difficulties which occur in the execution of their present order; and the indulgence I have experienced on every former occasion, induces me to imagine that the liberty I now take will not meet with disapprobation.
“ I have attentively taken up the report of the committee of the 5th (approved by Congress) on the subject of my letter of the 11th ultimo, on the proposed expedition into Canada. I have considered it in several lights, and sincerely regret that I should feel myself under any embarrassment in carrying it into execution. Still I remain of opinion, from a general review of things, and the state of our resources, that no extensive system of co-operation with the French for the complete emancipation of Canada, can be positively decided on for the ensuing year. To propose a plan of perfect co-operation with a foreign power, without a moral certainty in our supplies ; and to have that plan actually ratified with the court of Versailles, might be attended, in case of failure in the conditions on our part, with very fatal ef
“ If I should seem unwilling to transmit the plan as prepared by Congress with my observations, it is because I find myself under a necessity (in order to give our minister sufficient ground to found an application on), to propose something more than a vague and indecisive plan, which even in the event of a total evacuation of the states by the
enemy, may be rendered impracticable in the execution by a variety of insurmountable obstacles; or, if I retain my present sentiments, and act consistently, I must point out the difficulties, as they appear to me, which must embarrass his negotiations, and may disappoint the views of Congress.
“ But proceeding on the idea of the enemy's leaving these states, before the active part of the ensuing campaign, I should fear to hazard a mistake, as to the precise aim, and extent of the views of Congress. The conduct I am to observe in writing to our minister at the court of France, does not appear sufficiently delineated. Were I to undertake it, I should be much afraid of erring through misconception. In this dilemma, I would esteem it a particular favour to be excused from writing at all on the subject, especially as it is the part of candour in me to acknowledge, that I do not see my way clear enough, to point out such a plan for co-operation, as I conceive to be consistent with the ideas of Congress, and as will be
sufficiently explanatory, with respect to time and circumstances, to give efficacy to the measure.
“ But if Congress still think it necessary for me to proceed in the business, I must request their more definitive and explicit instructions, and that they will permit me, previous to transmitting the intended dispatches, to submit them to their determination.
“ I could wish to lay before Congress more minutely the state of the army, the condition of our supplies, and the requisites necessary for carrying into execution an undertaking that may involve the most serious events. If Congress think this can be done more satisfactorily in a personal conference, I hope to have the army in such a situation before I can receive their answer, as to afford me an opportunity of giving my attendance.”
On receiving this letter, Congress acceded to his request of a personal interview; and, on his arrival in Philadelphia, a committee of their body was appointed to confer with him, as well on this particular subject, as on the general state of the army, and of the country.
The result of these conferences was, that the expedition against Canada was entirely, though very reluctantly* given up; and every arrange
* The following is the report made by the committee :
“ January 1st, 1779. The committee appointed to confer with the commander in chief op the operations of the next