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in future as faithful, and loyal subjects; de- CHAP. X. nouncing at the same time the utmost vengeance 1778. of the British nation, against such as, after these benevolent offers, should obstinately persist in withholding their allegiance from their lawful sovereign. That all persons might be enabled to avail themselves of the pardon proclaimed by the manifesto, thirteen copies of it were immediately executed under the hands and seals of the commissioners, one of which was transmitted by a flag of truce to each state. A vast number of copies were printed, and endeavours were used by means of flags and otherwise, to disperse them as extensively as possible among the people.
On being informed of this intention, con.. gress, without hesitation embraced the part which the government of an independent nation must ever feel itself bound to pursue, when attempts are made to open negotiations with other than the constituted authorities. They declared the practice “ to be contrary to the laws of nations, and utterly subversive of the confidence necessary for those means which had been invented among civilized nations to alle. viate the horrors of war; and therefore, that the agents employed to distribute such papers were not entitled to the protection of a flag." They recommended it to the executive authorities in the respective states “to secure in close custody every person who, under the
CHAP.X. sanction of a flag, or otherwise, was found 1778. employed in circulating those manifestoes."
At the same time, to show that these measures were not taken for the purpose of concealing their conduct from their constituents, they themselves directed a publication of the mani. festo in the American papers. Care, however, was taken that it should be accompanied by comments made by individuals, calculated to destroy its effect. A vessel containing a cargo of these papers being wrecked on the coast, the officer and crew having them in charge were made prisoners; and the requisition of admiral Gambier for their release, in consequence of the privilege afforded by his fag, was answered by a declaration that they had forfeited that privilege by being charged with
seditious papers. October 30. Not long after the publication of the mani.
festo of the British commissioners a counter manifesto was issued by congress, in which, after touching on subjects which might influ. cnce the public mind, they “ solemnly declare and proclaim, that if their enemies presume to execute their threats, or persist in their present course of barbarity, they will take such exemplary vengeance, as shall deter others from a like conduct. They appeal to that God who searcheth the hearts of men, for the rectitude of their intentions; and in his holy presence declare, that, as they are not moved by any
light and hasty suggestions of anger or revenge, - CHAP. X. so through every change of fortune, they will 1778. adhere to this their determination..
· Thus ended this fruitless attempt to restore a connexion which had been wantonly broken, the re-instatement of which a variety of causes had rendered impracticable. With the war, and with their independence, a course of opinions had prevailed in America, which not only rendered a reunion between the two countries, under one common sovereign, extremely difficult, but, by substituting discordant materials in the place of the cement which had formerly bound them together, rendered such an event undesirable even to the British themselves. The time had now come, when the true interest of that nation required the relinquishment of an expensive war, the object of which was unattainable, and which if attained must be preserved with great difficulty; and the establishment of those amicable relations which reciprocal interests produce between independent states, capable by a fair and equal interchange of good offices, of being serviceable to each other.
This opinion, however, was not yet embraced by the cabinet of London, and great exertions were yet to be made for the reannexation of North America to the British empire. Even the opposition was not united against a conti. nuance of the war on its present ground, and,
CHAP. X. the earl of Chatham, who had endeavoured 1778. first to prevent the contest, and afterwards to
produce conciliation, closed a life, of which the splendor was unrivalled among characters merely political, in unavailing efforts to prevent that dismemberment which had now become inevitable.
In the midst of these transactions with the July 14. commissioners from Great Britain, the sieur Arrival of Girard, who had negotiated on the part of his minister ple sovereign the treaties between France and the from the king United States, arrived at Philadelphia in the
character of minister plenipotentiary of his most christian majesty.
The joy produced by this event was unbounded. On the first notice of his being in the Delaware, on his passage to the residence
of congress, a committee was appointed to wait His reception on him, and orders were given to prepare a
home for his reception. He was soon afterwards admitted to an audience in the congress hall, to which he was conducted from his own house, by a committee appointed for that pur. pose. He was received with open doors, and, to render the solemnity more impressive, the vice president and members of the supreme executive council of Pennsylvania, and the · members of their legislature, were invited to be present at it. In addition, each member of congress was furnished with two tickets of admittance, for such other persons as he should
choose to introduce. A semicircle was formed CHAP. X. by the members within the bar of the house, 1778. at one extremity of which sat the president, and at the other the minister of France. After ... the forms prescribed had been passed through, the committee again attended on him to his house, and, in the afternoon, a very elegant entertainment was given him by congress, to which the public characters in Philadelphia, and several strangers of distinction, were invited.
The reception of a minister from the most powerful prince in Europe, being among the first and most important insignia of independence, was alike new and gratifying to the United States.
While these diplomatic concerns employed the American cabinet, and while the war seemed to languish on the Atlantic, it raged to the west in its most savage form.
. A considerable degree of solicitude had ever been felt by congress, to engage the numerous tribes of Indians on the frontier, either to take part with them in the war, or to preserve a neutrality. In its first stages, many of them Hostilities of manifested a disposition not unfriendly to the United States, but the inability of the Ameri. can government to furnish them with such European articles as they are in the habit of using, contrasted with the presents they received from Montreal, and the ports on the VOL. III.