Abbildungen der Seite

saict memorials; and as they are convinced by indisputable evia dence, that the supplies shipped in the Amphatrite, Seine and Mercury, were not a present, and that his must Christian majesty, the great and generous ally of these United States, did not preface his alliance with any supplies whatever, sent to America, so they have not authorized the author of the said publica. tions to make any such assertions as are contained therein, but on the contrary, do highly disapprove of the same.” They were indeed convinced by the indisputable evidence of having been charged with, and drawn in to make themselves debtors for the supplies, that they were not a present; but had the dispatches been received, or the duplicates in time, so that they could have known that they were originaliy intended for a present, and that no remittance for them would ever be required, that invincible evidence would have been wanting. Had their generous ally really prefaced his alliance with any supplies, it would have been undoubtedly in such a guarded way as to have admitted of a negative, whenever the same became politically necessary. For the further satisfaction of Mr. Gerard, the congress “resolve ed Jan. 24. unaniinously, That as neither France or these U. nited States inay of right, so these United States will not conelude either truce or peace with the common enemy, without the formal consent of their ally first obtained, and that any matters or things which may be insinuated or asserted to the contrary thereof, tend to the injury and dishonor of the said states." · Instead of proceeding turther in the account of congressional acts and resolves, let me here relate certain articles of intelligence that have been necessarily omitted. + The confederation has been ratified by all the states excepting Maryland. On the 5th of December congress resolved, “That the sentence of the general court-martial upon general Lee, be carried into execution." All but New-York and the Delaware counties were represented. Four voted in the affirmative, two in the negative; the other five were not sufficiently united to vote either way. It is probable that a regard to general Washington, and an apprehension that if the sentence was not cunUrmed he might resign, produced a confirmation. But the gemuine patriotism of the commander in chief, would have pre. vented his declining to serve his country while his exertions weic acceptable, had the resolve been different. In that case, no censure could have fallen upon him, it would have been only deciaring, that upon a close attention to the evidence conta ned in the irial, with a copy of which every member was furnished, congress throught the court-martial mistaker.. VOL. II. ...

3 ... Wednesday,

ll'ednesday, the 30th of December, was observed by order of congress as a thanksgiving-day. At this very period, the aficits of the United States were in a most distressed, ruinous and deplorable condition. Idleness, discipation and extravagance, seemed to have laid fast hold of the generality; and peculation, speculation and an insatiable thirst for riches, to have gotten the better of every other consideration, and almost of every order of men. Party disputes and personal quarrels, weic the great business of the day, while the momento is concerns of the empire, a great and accumulated debt, ruined finances, depreciated money, and a want of credit (which in the consequences is the want of every thing) were but secondary considerations, and postponed by congress from time to time, as if their affalis were the most promising aspect. The paper was sinking in Philadelphia daily 50 percent, and yet an assembly, a concert, a dinner or supper (which cost two or three hundred pounds) did not only take men off from acting, but even from thinking of this business. Some of the most disinterested and patriotic Americans, felt more real distress on account of this appearance of things, than they had done at any one time since the commencenicnt of the dispute.

[Jan. 2.). Congress resolved, that as many counterfeits hade appeared in circulation, of various denominations of the cmission of May 20, 1777, and April 11, 1778, the whole omissions of those two dates, should be taken out of circulation. They were to be received, within a limited term, for continental debts and taxes, and into the continental loan offices, either to loan or be exchanged, at the election of the owners. The counterfeiting of the bills, according to my information, originated with eithe: James or john Rankin, formerly of York county, in Pennsylvania. Having quitted their farms and joined the royalists, that government confiscated their estates';, one of them, to compensate for his losses, and avenge himself upon the United. States, entered upon the business of counterfeiting their paper currency, which was afterward practised by others.

The convention troops were sent off in the second week of November, to Virginia ; the Germans marched from Cambridge, the British froin kutland, in which town they had been quartered for some time.back. But as the people could not banishe from their minds the notions they had inbibed of the cruelties the American prisoners had received, and as some were afraid of being plundered and others of being killed, the troops, while upon. their march, met with great incivility from all ranks and degrees: of men. The militia guard, which escorted general Reidesel's, baggage froin Hartford to the York line, broke open some.of


[ocr errors]

me boxes and plundered them of several dozen of wine, a great aumber of spermaceti candles, and five dozen packs of cards.

The general was so much displeased with their conduct, that he wrote a letter to gen. NI'Dougall, who returned a very polite answer, and furnished a guard of continental troops to escort the baggage to Sussex court-house in jerseys.

[Feb. 9.] Mr. Gerard presented memorials to congress, the subject of which they determined to take into immediate consideration, at the same time informning hiin, that if he wished to communicate any thing further, they would receive the same from him in a private audience. Fie having a wish to make further communication, attended on the 15th, when congress was resolved into a committee of the whole. The committee reported on the 234. " That upon the consideration of all the matters referred; they are of epinion, that his Cadiolic majesty' is disposed to enter inte an alliance with the United States of Ancrica ; that he liath manifested this disposition is a decisive declaration lateiy made to the court of Great Britain ; that in consequence of such declaration, the independence of these United States must be finally acknowledged by Great-Britain and iminediately thereona negociation for peace will be set on foot beLaveen the powers of France, Grezi-Britain, and these. United Statcs, under the mediation of his Catholic inajcsty; or that Spain will take part in the war, and his Catholic majesty will: unite his force with the most Christian king and the United Statcs :--That in order to be in readiness for a negociation, the ministers of the United States ought to be instrucicd by congress on the several following particulars, viz. 1. What to insist upon as the ultimatuin of these stales; 2. Vinat to yieid or require on terns of mutual exchange and compensation." Tire comunittee reported their opinion upon these points, which were afterward. the subjects of consideration in congress. .

Mr. Gerard manifested a desire that the war might not be prolonged by too bigh-anxi unreasonable demands; and that the Inited States would bring their ultimatum as low as possible:-He strongly recommended moderation. The fate of war was uncertain ; and he hinted that a decicive naval engagement in fayor of the British might give a great turn to their affairs. Mr, S. Adams was for insisting upon the cession of Canada and No. va-Scotia; and some were for adding Florida. Congress agreed

March 19. Ist, What should be the bounds of the Thirteen United States in the Ultimatum: 2d, That every port and place witbin the United States, and every island, harbör and road to them or any of them belonging, should be absolutely evacuated by the land and ca forces of his Britannic inajcsty, and yielded


to the powers of the state to which they respectively belong. The fishery is a point which the New-Englanders are much set upon having secured, and which will occasion repeated debates, and be long before it is fully and finally determined.

The Parisian minisier, Monsieur Vergennes, does not confine. his policy to the establisment of American independence; he aims at securing to the French the Newfoundland fishery to the exclusion of the United States, and to the Spaniards the sole 12vigation of the Missisippi, and the lands on the eastern side of it, at the back of the present settlements of the United States, and therefore called the Western lands.. You must use this information as a clew to guide you through the labyrinth of Mr. Gerard's negociation. Nine days after he had his audience of congress, they received the account of the king of Naples having opened his ports to the flag of the United States of America.

The stroke aimed at gen. Mifflin by the congress resolve of . Junc 11, 1778, having answered his intention, all further proceedings ceased; on which the general, on the 17th of August,: . sent a letter to congress enclosing his commission, which fur reasons therein set forth he begged leave to resign. That and : two more letters of an earlier date were referred to a committee of three who reported on the 23d of January, 1779, ibat it did not appear to them any proceedings had taken place since, the resolve of June the lith, and that if the said resolution was to be carried into execution, it should be done in the usual manner, and that general Washington should have directions accord.. ingly. Still the matter rested, so that Mimin on the 25th of Fe.. brury, informed congress that he had not heard what was their . pleasure as to his resignation, and requested of them afresh to accept it, which they then resolved to do. Thus he has been impelled to lay aside his military character, which for the liberties of his country he had assumed, though of the quaker denounination : but he retains his patriotism, and will continue a volunteer in the service of the public. He resumed the quartermaster-general's departmenti in October, 1776, (then vacant through a resignation) by the desire and order of congress, and not for any private view of emoluments of his ow, so that he, did not consider himself as responsible for the calamitous effects. of any delay, which depended not on himself or his associates, but on congress.

Let us resume our account of military operations.

The South-Carolina delegates, rather with a view to conquest, than from any special apprehension of danger to their own or neighbouring state, from the troops under Sir Henry Clintoll, requested the congress to appoint gen. Lincoln (on whose cha,


Tacter they justly roposed great confidence) to the cónimard of all their forces to the southward ; accordingly they made the appointment on the 25th September, and ordered hirn to repair immediately to Charleston. When he took his leave of them in October, they had in contemplation the reduction of EastFlorida, and put into his hands a scheme for effecting it, withi the observations of two gentlemen on the strength of St. Augus. tine. The first hint of a destination of British troops for Georgia appears to have been given to the commander in chief by a letter of the ninth of October, from a confidential correspendent at New-York. It was the 4th of December before the general arrived at Charleston. The North-Carvlina state on the first intelligence of an intended imbarkation from New-York for the southward, generously raised about 2000 militia to serve for five months ; put them under the command of generals Ashe and Rutherford, and sent them forward without delay. They came on with such dispatch, that had they not been detaincd ten days near Charleston to be furnished with arms, they would have been in time to have joined gen, Howe before the reduction of Sar vannah. South Carolina had not a sufficient stock of public arms for the militia of both states, and suspended the distribution of them till it became certain whether South Carolina or Georgia was the object of the British armament, whiclı could not be determined while it was in offing. On the morning of the 26th, two regiments of 150. men each from Charleston, with the levies and militia from North Carolina amounting to about 950, marched for Georgia ; they made their first junctiori with the American army after their retreat over the Savannali,

January the 3d, gen. Lincoln established his head-quarters at Purysburgh, about thirty miles from the mouth of the Savannah: He met with a sore disappointnient. He had been encouraged to expect a force consisting of 7000 men, beside the militia of South-Carolina and Georgia, whereas he had only 1400 in the whole. He was also lead to believe, that he should meet witir' great plenty of supples and military stores, instead of which there were no field-pieces, arms, tents, camp utensils or lead, and but very little powder; in short hardly any article in the arsenel or quarter-master's store, all occasioned by the want of a military chest. A large proportion of the South Carolina militia was Draughted, and marched under gen. Richardson for head-quarters. But they behaved very badly, refused to submit to the are ticles of war for the government, of the continentals, and left the camp and even thcir posts at pleasure with impunity: as general Lincoln had no hold of them, their own state law only imposing a tine, instead of putting then upon the same fouting congress

« ZurückWeiter »