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have been given to the Spanish ambassador at London, to ascertain as nearly as possible those dispositions. In these circumstances the king his master-ordered him to communicate this intelligence to the United States, that they may if they think proper take under consideration, if it would not be expedieńt to:
give their plenipotentiary instructions and full powers, founded” upon the necessity of the conjectures, and upon the treaty of alliance, the express and formal terms of which are, that peace’ shall not be made without an express or tacit acknowledgement.
of the sovereignty, and consequently a fortiori of the rights inherent in sovereignty, as well as of the independence of the
United States in matters of government and commerce. This substantial alternative in an engagement, which is a mere gra
tuitous gift without any compensation or stipulation, ought in
deed never to be forgot in a negociation for peace. France foresaw the extreme difficulties a formal and explicit acknowledgement might meet with. She knew by her own experience in simi
lar contest, in which she has been deeply concerned respectingthe republic of Holland, Genoa and the Swiss Cantons, how te— nacious monarchs are, and how repugnant to pronounce the hu-, miliating formula. It was only obtained for Holland tacitly after
a war of thirty years, and explicitly after a resistance of seventy
To this day Genoa and the Swiss Cantons have obtained no renunciation, nor acknowledgment either tacitor formal from their
former sovereigns; but they enjoy their sovereignty and independence only under the guarantee of France. His court, thought it important to provide, that difficulties of this nature. which reside merely in words, should not delay or prevent America from enjoying the thing itself. From these considerations arose the very important and explicit stipulation in the treaty, which he just now related, and which hath received the sanction. of the United States. The circumstances seem already such as
call for the application of the alternative of tacit or explicit ac-knowledgment. All these considerations therefore arc mention-ed, that congress may, if they think proper, consider whethers the literal execution of the treaty in this point is not become ne-cessary, and whether the safety and happiness of the American
people, as well as the essential principles of the alliance, are not, intimately connected with the resolutions that may be taken on this subject: and it remains with the prudence of congress to examine, wirether instructions on some particular conditions may: not frustrate the salutary purpose of the treaty of alliance relative to a tacit acknowledgment, which the situation of affairs. may require. “In thus exccuting the orders,” continued hc. * I have received, I cannot omit obscrying, that these orders:
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were given with the full presumption, that the business which I laid before congress in Feb. last, would have been settled long bea fore these dispatches should come to my hands. Howeversensibly my court will be disappointed in her expectations, I shall add nothingtotheinformation and observations, which with the warmest zeal for the interest and honor of both countries, and by the duties of my office and my instructions, I found myself bound to deliver from time to time to congress in thc course of this business. The apprehension of giving new matter to those who endeavour to cast blame upon congress is a new motive for me to remain silent. I beg only to remind this honorable body of the aforesaid information and reflections, and particularly of those which F had the honor to deliver to an assembly similar to the present. E shall only insist on a single point which I established then and since in one of my memorials, namely the manifest and striking necessity of enabling Spain, by the determination of just and moderate terms to press upon England with her good offices, and to bring her mediation to an issue, in order that we may know whether we are to expect peace or war. This step is looked upon in Europe as immediately necessary. It was the proper object of the message I delivered in February last, I established then (in a private audience) the strong reasons which require, that at the sama time, and without delay, proper terms should be offered to his Catholic majesty, in order to reconcile him perfectly to the American contest. I did not conceal, that it was to be feared that any condition inconsistent with the establishment of the alliance which is the binding and only law of the allies, and contrary to the line of conduct which Spain pursued in the course of her mediation, would lead her to drop the mediation, and prevent his Catholic majesty by motives of honor and faithfulness from joining in our common cause, and for completing the intended: triumverate. No loss, no unhappy event could be so heavy upon the allies as this. Indeed although the British forces are already kept in check by the combined efforts of France and America, it is nevertheless evident that the accession of Spain only can. give to the alliance a decided superiority adequate to our purposes, and free us from the fatal chance, that a single unlucky” event may overturn the balance.” - * * * * ...t
The committee then taking notice of what the minister had: said concerning a tacit assuranceofthe independence of these states. requested to know his sense concerning the manner in which: such tacit assurance could be given; to which he, premising thag' what he should now say ought to be considered only as his private sentiments, replied—That the British court would probably: endeavor to avoid an express acknowledgment-by, imitating.
... * * - t - precedents - 2
ji. D. 1T79.] AMERICAN REVOLUTION. 4il
"precedents that had occurred in Europe on similar occasions, instancing in the case of the Swiss Cantons, and of the United Provinces of Holland; that the mode adopted in the latter case iiad been for the arch-dukes, to whom the Icing of Spain had transferred his right of sovereignty, to treat with them as free and independent states; and that with respect to the Cantons. France had not been able to obtain more for them in the treaty of Munster, than "a declaration that they should be in possessioaof full liberty and exemption from the empire, and be Hi no. manner subject to the jurisdiction thereof;3'—but that in his opinion, the circumstances of these states, > and the manner in which they had conducted their opposition, would justify their expecting a more full declaration.
Mr. Gerard, by strongly urging congress, in February, to come to an ultimatum, that so no promising negotiations might be delayed or obstructed, contributed toward putting the states into a profound sleep. They amused themselves with idle dreams of peace, and hardly made any exertions for. the war. Till about the time of the above conference, the army scarcely received a single recruit, though a large part of it dissolved in the course of Jast winter and spring, by the expiration of the term of service for which the men were engaged. Gen. Washington has a prospect of 1000 or 1500 levies, at enormous bounties, for nine months, from Massachusetts and Connecticut, which is all the reinforcement he expects. Inferior in strength to the enemy, he will be able to do little more than take care of himself, and guard the communication of the North-River. The distressing situation of public affairs, led the late president of congress, Mr. Laurens, to write to his friend—"July 14r.] Let us look around and enquire into the state of the army, the navy, the treasury—the view is truly affecting; but what is most of all to be deplored is, the torpitude of national virtue. How many risen are there who now in secret say, could I have believed it would have come to this, I would . I am not of that number."
Captain Cunningham, who took and carried the Dutch packet into Dunkirk, being captured on board a private armed cutter in the West-Indies, was brought to New-York, put under a rigorous and ignominious confinement, and ordered to be sent to Great-Britain. Congress was induced by it to order a letter to be written f fuly n.j to the British naval commander at NewYork, demanding the reasons for the treatment he had met with; and resolved, that if they had not a satisfactory answer by the 1st of August, one or more persons should be confined, to. abide the fate of the said Cunningham. Two days after, con- gress having well considered the letters before them, giving an
i. atcount of the devastations of the enemy, and the burning of Fairfield, Norwalk and Bedford, “Resolved—That the marine committee be, and are hereby directed to take the most effectual means to carry into execution the manifesto of October 30, 1718, by burning and destroying the towns belonging to the enemy in Great-Britain and the West-Indies.” The operations of war demand our further notice. A daring and dangerous enterprise against the enemy’s post at Powies-Hook was committed to major Lee. The object was to throw a lustre upon the American arms by surprising the post, and immediately retiring with such prisoners as the major could conveniently make. Did it appear too hazardous, either in the execution or the difficulty of effecting a retreat, he was at liberty to abandon it. The necessity of making a timely and safe retreat, was strongly inculcated by the commander in chief, and the major was desired to lose no time in attempting to remove or destroy any stores, or even in collecting stragglers. The mejor, with a party of 300 Virginians, a troop of dismounted dragoons and one company from the Maryland line, proceeded on the service, and very early in the morning [July 19.] before day-light, completely surprised the post. Major Southerland, the commandant, with a number of Hessians, had the good fortune to escape, by reason of the darkness, to a small blockhouse on the left of the fort. Major Lee killed about 30 of the enemy, and took 161 prisoners, including 7 officers, at the expence of about half a dozen men killed and wounded. . In conformity to his orders, he made an immediate retreat, without tarrying to destroy either barracks or artillery. The approach of day, and the vicinity of the enemy's main body, rendered it absolutely necessary. Lord Stirling took judicious measures to forward the enterprise, and to secure the retreat to Lee's party. This affair, for the size of it, may be ranked with the most heroic actions of the war, considering the peculiar position of Powles-Hook, and its being garrisoned by 200 men. The expeditions carrying on against Penobscot by the Massachusetts, and against the Mohawks by the United States, will be related when brought to a close. Gen. Sullivan being called away to command the latter, gen. Gates left Boston and went to Providence. In May, a number of the troops under him, mutinied, and were upon the point of marching off for want of bread; he prevailed upon them to stay a few days. During that period he, by express, ordered fiour immediately up from Boston, which however could not have been procured, had it not been from the captures just brought in by the cruisers. The American privateers, the state and continental vess; have - Ctrl
been very successful in capturing and getting safe into port a number of West-India ships and'Others -of great rvalue, .more , than ^efficient to counterbalance'by much the losses the-United States have sustained in a-similar way. It was computed, on the 15th of July, that within six or se*ven weeks preceding, upward .of 20,000 barrets of provisions, designed for the use of the enemy, had found their way into the Massachusetts ports. But for these and such like .captures7 the inhabitants would have been under the greatest difficulty through a prevailing scarcity. One while there was such a want of bread in Boston, that familes who had lived well were without it iriany days. • The price, however, of ail articles, is rapidly raising ia a continual succession, occasioned chiefly by the enormous quantity of paper currency, geactineand counterfeit, that is in circulation. The rise of commodities, and the associated depreciation of continental currency, has spread such an alarm, that at Philadelphia and in the Massachusetts, the inhabitants are attempting afresh to remedy both, by a regulation of prices—which like Sisyphus' stone, will never reach the summit of the eviL ;- '. . i i We have heard within these few days, by a letter from Martinico of June 29th, that admiral Byron having left St. Lucie -mith an intention as it is thought of convoying a large British West-India fleet through! the passages, count d'Estaingimmediately embraced the opportunity, and planned an expedition against St. Vincent, which succeeded. We are also informed, that since then, Mr. de la" Motte Piquet, with five ships of the line, had .joined the count -, who finding himself sui* iently strong, had planned an expedition against Grenada, and was to sail for that island the day after the date of the letter. •
The count sent lieut. De Prolong du Rumain to St. Vincent, with about 450 men, only half-of them regulars, who landed the ISth'of June, and were immediately joined by the Carribs; they then possessed themselves of the heights which commanded the town of Kingston; On the 18th the island was delivered up by capitulation without having made any resistance. This may have been owing partly to the inhabitants being in dread of the Carribs, and partly to their apprehended danger from attempting a defence, and none from changing sovereigns. • >
Mr. Gerard has obtained leave to return to France, on account of the ill state of his health ; and the new minister plenipotenti* ary, the chevalier de la Luzerne, is arrived at Boston in a French "frigate. Mr. John Adams accompanied him, his commission having bee« superseded the last September, by the appointment of Dr. Franklin, minister plenipotentiary at the court of Prance. The carrying of this appointment was a favorite measufe-Wtth. v«-£Voi5TI. L3 Mr.