« ZurückWeiter »
concerned." Their proceedings in this business were 1778* expressed in the form of a declaration, a copy of which was ordered to be signed by the president and sent by a flag to the commissioners at New York. This declaration drew out an exceeding angry and vehement one from the gentlenfan in question, in which the immediate operations of passion were rather too apparent. The tone of his publication accorded but badly with the high and flattering eulogiums which he had so lately bestowed on the Americans, in those very letters which were the subject of the present contest. It was dated the 26th l6. of August, and transmitted to congress: together with a declaration of the fame date from lord Carlisle, Sir Henry Clinton, and Mr. Eden, which went to a total and solemn disavowal, so far as related to the present subject, of their having had any knowledge, directly or indirectly, of those matters specified by congress. The declarations were accompanied by a requisition from the three last named commissioners respecting the troops lately serving under gen. Burgoyne, in which they offered to ratify the convention, and required permission for the gept. embarkation of the troops. But congress resolved, 4* "That no ratification of the convention, which may be tendered in consequence of powers, which only reach that cafe by construction and implication, or which may subject whatever is transacted relative to it to the future approbation or disapprobation of the parliament of Great Britain, can be accepted by congress."
When all hope of further negotiation with congress
was at an end, the commissioners directed their future
publications in the manner of appeals to the people at
large; whereby they seemingly realised the charge re
2 peatedly '778* peatedly made, that their only object was, under the insidious appearance of conciliation, to excite either a separation among the colonies, or the people to tumults against their respective governments. Congress not only permitted, but forwarded the republishment of all matters upon the subject; while different American writers undertook to obviate the effect, which the publications issued by the commissioners might have upon the body of the people. The strongest argument which the Americans advanced upon the occasion was, that they had already concluded a solemn treaty with France for the establishment and on the footing of their indepen"dence; that should they break their saith with France, they would forfeit their credit with all foreign nations, be considered as saithkis and insamous, and for evermore be cut off from even the hope of foreign succour; and that at the same time they should be thrown on the mercy of those, who had already pursued every measure of fraud, force, cruelty and deceit, for their destruction ; as neither the king, the ministers, nor the parliament of Great Britain, would be under the necessity of ratifying any one condition which they agreed upon with 'I the commissioners; or, if they even found it necessary \ to ratify them for present purposes, it would be only to call a new parliament and .then to undo the whole. The appeals of the .commissioners to the people prov'ing ineffectual, they changed their conduct and denounced hostility and destruction, in their most terrific Oct. forms, to those who had rejected conciliation and friends* ship. They published a signal valedictory manifesto and proclamation; and therein warned the people of the total and material change which was to take place in the
future conduct of hostilities, should they still persevere i^g, in their obstinacy; and more especially as that was said to be sounded upon the pretended alliance with France. The Americans were virtually threatened with all the extremes of war, and to have their country desolated. Be it noted that " The concessions made in the manifesto and proclamation by the commissioners, contain a renunciation of every principle upon which the king's ministers have pretended to justify the foundation, or the pursuit os any one object of the war. Thus the irretrievable disgrace of having waged a cruel war for unjustifiable and destructive ends, is fixed upon Britain, by a public avowal upon principle, that the terms offered by America in 1774, before the war, ought to have been accepted as foundations of peace, from their own intrinsic equity and merit, as being more beneficial to the mother country and more safe to all parties *." Several packages of manifestos, which enclosed a number translated into the German language, and one printed on vellum and signed by lord Carlisle, Sir Henry Clinton and William Eden esq; were made, up in order to be sent with flags to congress and the particular states in the union. Congress upon being informed of it, declared l&* that the agents employed to distribute the said papers were not entitled to protection from a flag, while engagedin the prosecution os such nesarious purposes; and recommended it to the several states to secure and keep them in close custody, but at the same time to print the manifestos in the newspapers, to convince the people of the insidious designs of the commissioners. They 30. also published a manifesto on their part, in which they, / * Hartley,
1778. complained bitterly of the mode practised by the British in carrying on the war, of the treatment their soldiers I and sailors had met with, and of their meanly assailing ; the representatives of America with bribes, with deceit, I and the servility of adulation. After other charges, expressed in the severest language, they concluded with solemnly declaring—" If our enemies presume to execute their threats, or persist in their present career of barbarity, we will take such exemplary vengeance as shall deter others from a like conduct. We appeal to that God who searcheth the hearts of men, for the rec-> titude of our intentions; and in his holy presence declare, that as we are not moved by any light and hasty suggestions of anger or revenge, so, through every possible change of fortune, we will adhere to this our determination."
The commission has been attended with the singular circumstance of a letter from the marquis de la Fayette to the earl of Carlisle, challenging that nobleman, as first commissioner, to the field, there to answer in his own person, and in single combat, for some harsh reflection on the conduct of the French court and nation, which appeared in those public instruments, that he and his brethren had issued in their political capacity. The inexperience and heat of youth hurried him into this impropriety against the advice of his warmest American friends, who foresaw that his challenge would of necessity be flighted.
The other proceedings of congress, which have been passed over, while the negotiation has been considered, are now to be related.
Congress being convinced by experience, that the fe- thji. gulation of prices was an evil, and increased instead of j lessening the difficulties it was meant to cure, recom- I mended in the beginning of June, to the several legist** tures that had adopted the measure, the suspension or repeal of their laws for that purpose. The commissary general, col. Wadsworth, had no hope of feeding the army, while the regulating acts prevailed. Before the recommendation it was supplied by a violation of the acts, or by contracts made ere they took place. Con- ^une gress adjourned to meet the Thursday following at the statehouse in Philadelphia. When a sufficient number of states - . were represented, they had before them a packet of letters 7. which had passed between gen. Heath and gen. Phillips, consequent to the death of lieut. Richard Brown of the aist British regiment belonging to the convention troops at Cambridge. He determined upon passing the lines on the 17th of June (in a chaise, between two women of easy virtue) contrary to general orders. The sentry upon stopping him was treated with contempt. The lieutenant would go on without assigning any reason, though repeatedly ordered to stop, on which the sentry shot him through the head at Prospect hill. The lan» guage of Phillips's letter upon the occasion was so offensive, that Heath confined him to his quarters, under a guard; and insisted on his signing a new parole. These measures produced other letters pro and con. The whole were submitted to the inspection of congress, who approved of Heath's conduct.
. They had before them a paper from Mr. Gerard, wherein he thanked them for the quick dispatch with which they had provided for the fust wants of the French . Vox. III. N squadron;