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the enemy; and lastly, perhaps, the jealous policy of some of the little States, which hope that such a precedent may engender a division of some of the large ones, are the circumstances which will determine the concurrence of Congress in this affair.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.
Philadelphia, September 3, 1781. DEAR SIR,
I am favored with yours of the 27th ultimo. This letter will be the most agreeable of any I have long had the pleasure of writing. I begin with informing you that the Commander-in-Chief and the Count Rochambeau,—the former with a part of the American army, and the latter with the whole of the French, are thus far on their way for the Southern Department. The American troops passed through the town yesterday. The first division of the French to-day. The second will pass to-morrow. Nothing can exceed the appearance of this specimen which our Ally has sent us of his army, whether we regard the figure of the men, or the exactness of their discipline.
Yesterday also arrived, from his special mission to the Court of France, Colonel John Laurens. Although his success has not been fully commensurate to our wishes, he has brought with him very substantial proofs of the determination of that Court to support us. Besides a considerable quantity of clothing and other valuable articles, there are upwards of sixteen thousand stand of arms. It is rather unlucky . VOL. I.-7
that they found it expedient to put into Boston, instead of this place, from whence the distribution of them would have been so much more easy.
I wish I could have concluded the intelligence without adding that Admiral Hood, with thirteen sail of the line from the West Indies, lately arrived at New York, and after being joined by Graves with eight ships, put again immediately to sea. The French squadron under De Barras had previously sailed from Newport. As the expected arrival of De Grasse from the West Indies could not be unknown to Hood, there is little doubt that his activity is directed against the junction of the two French fleets.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.
Philadelphia, October 30, 1781. DEAR SIR,
I return you my fervent congratulations on the glorious success of the combined arms at York and Gloucester. We have had from the Commander-inChief an official report of the fact, with a copy of the capitulation, and a general intimation that the number of prisoners, excluding seamen, &c., would exceed five thousand; but no detail of our gains. If these severe doses of ill fortune do not cool the phrenzy and relax the pride of Britain, it would seem as if Heaven had in reality abandoned her to her folly and her fate. This campaign was grounded on the most intense exertion of her pecuniary resources. Upwards of twenty millions were voted by the Par
liament. The King acknowledged that it was all he asked, and all that was necessary. A fair trial has then been made of her strength; and what is the result? They have lost another army, another colony, another island, and another fleet of her trade; their possessions in the East Indies, which were so rich a source of their commerce and credit, have been severed from them, perhaps for ever; their naval armaments, the bulwarks of their safety, and the idols of their vanity, have in every contest felt the rising superiority of their enemies. In no points have they succeeded, except in the predatory conquest of Eustatia, of which they have lost the greatest part of every thing except the infamy, and in the relief of Gibraltar, which was merely a negative advantage. With what hope or with what view can they try the fortune of another campaign? Unless they can draw succour from the compassion or jealousy of other powers, of which it does not yet appear that they have any well-founded expectation, it seems scarcely possible for them much longer to shut their ears against the voice of peace.
I am sorry to find that the practice of impressing is still kept up with you. It is partial and oppressive with respect to individuals, and I wish it may not eventually prove so with respect to the State. The zeal and liberality of those States which make undue advances, may not find an equal disposition to re-imburse them, in others which have had more caution, or less occasion for such exertions.
You are not mistaken in your apprehensions for our Western interests. An agrarian law is as much coveted by the little members of the Union, as ever
it was by the indigent citizens of Rome. The conditions annexed by Virginia to her territorial cession have furnished a committee of Congress a handle for taking up questions of right, both with respect to the ceding States, and the great Land Companies, which they have not before ventured to touch. We have made every opposition and remonstrance to the conduct of the committee which the forms of proceedings will admit. When a report is made, we shall renew our efforts upon more eligible ground, but with little hope of arresting any aggression upon Virginia which depends solely on the inclination of Congress. Since the close of the Confederation, however, it has been understood, that seven votes are necessary to carry every question. This rule, in proportion to the thinness of Congress, opposes a difficulty to those who attack. It will therefore, I believe, be impossible for the enemies of Virginia to obtain any positive injury to her rights. My greatest anxiety at present is, lest the attempts for that purpose may exasperate the Assembly into measures which will furnish new hopes to the British Court to persevere in the war, and new baits for the credulity of the British nation. The good sense of the Assembly will, however, I flatter myself, temper every expression of their displeasure with due respect to this consideration. It would be particularly unhappy, if any symptoms of disunion among ourselves should blast the golden prospects which the events of the campaign have opened to us.
TO EDMUND PENDLETON.
Philadelphia, November 13, 1781. DEAR SIR,
Nothing definitive has taken place on the territorial cessions. That of Virginia will not, I believe, be accepted with the conditions annexed to it. The opinion seems to be, that an acceptance of the cession of New York will give Congress a title which will be maintainable against all the other claimants. In this, however, they will certainly be deceived; and even if it were otherwise, it would be their true interest, as well as conformnable to the plan on which the cessions were recommended, to bury all further contentions by covering the territory withi the titles of as many of the claimants as possible. We are very anxious to bring the matter to issue, that the State may know what course their honor and security require them to take. The present thinness of Congress makes it but too uncertain when we shall be able to accomplish it.
Will not the Assembly pay some handsome compliments to the Marquis, for his judicious and zealous services whilst the protection of the country was entrusted to him? His having baffled, and finally reduced to the defensive, so powerful an army as we now know he had to contend with, and with so disproportionate a force, would have done honor to the most veteran officer, added to his other merits and services, constitutes a claim on their gratitude which I hope will not be unattended to.