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'7.78. squadron; it was accompanied with a memorandum of the | provisions that would be further wanted. Congress j meaning to procure it upon the easiest terms, appointed j a. committee to make the purchases; but Mr. Chafe, one of the Maryland delegates, improved the knowledge his feat secured him, for directing in season a private acquaintance to buy; and thereby counteracted the committee so effectually, that they could not answer the end of their appointment. It is no extravagant conjecture, that Mr. Chafe shared in the profits made by his communications. Aug. The honorable sieur Gerard was introduced to an audience by two members of congress appointed for the purpose, and being seated in his chair, his secretary delivered to the president a letter from his most christian majesty, informing his very dear great friends and allies, , that he had nominated the sieur Gerard, to. reside among them in the quality of minister plenipotentiary. The minister was, after the reading of it, announced to the house; whereupon he arose and addressed congress in a speech, which when finished in the French language, Was delivered by his secretary to the president; to which the latter returned an answer in English. A profusion of compliments passed upon the occasion, in the hearing and presence of a numerous audience; for the vicepresident, the supreme executive council, the speaker and assembly of Pennsylvania, were invited to be there; arid each member of congress had the liberty of giving two tickets for the admittance of other persons. An ; t entertainment given by congress to the sieur Gerard, closed the novel, important, and joyful transactions of the day. 9 - . .. . '. . •
,. - . • * Congress
Congress resolved upon an application to .Sir Henry 1778. Clinton for passports to American vessels to transport pro- S^[* visions and fuel to Boston for the use of the convention" troops; and that if such passports were not granted within three days after application, or measures adopted by him for supplying them by the 5th of October, they would deem themselves justifiable in removing the said troops to such parts of the United States as they can be best subsisted in. The applications to Sir Henry having had no effect, they resolved on the 16th of October, that the necessary steps should be taken for removing, with all convenient speed, the convention prisoners to Charlotte-ville, in Albemarle county, Virginia.
Congress proceeded to the election of a minister pie-- 14nipotentiary to the court of France, and the ballots being taken, Doctor Benjamin Franklin was elected. In their instructions to him on the a6th of October, he was directed to obtain, if possible, the French king's consent for expunging from the treaty of commerce the nth and 12th articles, as inconsistent with that equality and reciprocity which form the best security for perpetuating the whole. The marquis de la Fayette had entered into arrangements with congress for co-operating with the court of France in an expedition against Canada; the plan of which the doctor was also to lay before the minister. It was proposed that 4 or 5000 French troops should be sent to assist in the business. The marquis'* attachment to the American cause and thirst for glory, would naturally engage him in such a project (wherein he would be likely to hold a, considerable command) with the utmost purity of intention. But how sar Mr. Gerard might artfully insinuate the first idea into his
N 2 mind,
1778. mind, in expectation of introducing a larger body of French troops into Canada for distant political purposes, to which the marquis was a total stranger, cannot be easily ascertained. The doctor was to inculcate the certainty of ruining the British fishery on the banks of Newfoundland, and consequently the British marine by reducing Halisax and Quebec. The importance of such reduction to France on the one hand, and to America on the other, was stated.
The following observations on the finances of America were likewise to be communicated to the French minister.
. "At the commencement of the war, it was obvious that the permanent revenues and resources of Great Britain must eventually overbalance the sudden and impetuous sallies of men contending for freedom on the spur of the occasion, without regular discipline, determinate plan, or permanent means of defence.—America having never been much taxed, nor for a continued length of time, being without fixed government, and contending against what was once the lawful authority, ,, had no funds to support the war; and the contest being H' upon the very question of taxation, the levying of imposts, unless from the last necessity, would have been madness.—To borrow from individuals without any visible means of repaying them, while the loss was certain from ill success, was visionary.—A measure therefore which had been early adopted, and thence became samiliar to the people, was pursued: this was the issuing of paper notes representing specie, for the redemption of which the public saith was pledged.—-As these were to circulate from hand to hand, there was no great indi
vidual risk unless fron\ holding them too long, and no17 7 8* man refused to receive them for one commodity, while they would purchase every other.—This general credit however did not last long. It menaced so deeply the views of our enemies, wh% had built their hopes on the defeat of our resources, that they and their partizans used every effort to impeach its value. Their success in one instance of this kind, alway made room for another, because he who could not relieve his wants with our paper, would not part with his property to procure it.—To remedy this evil, the states as soon as formed into any shape of legislature, enacted laws to make the continental paper a lawful tender, and indeed to determine its value, fixing it by penalties at the sum of specie expressed on the sace of it. These laws produced monopoly throughout.—The monopoly of commodities, the interruption of commerce, and the successes of the enemy, produced a depreciation: the laws devised to remedy this evil, either increased or were followed by an increase of it.—This demanded more plentiful emissions, thereby increasing the circulating medium to such a degree as not only to exclude all others, but furnish a superabundant quantity to increase the depreciation.—The several states, instead of laying taxes to defray their own private expences, followed the example of congress, and issued notes of different denominations and forms. Therefore to counterfeit became easier, and the enemy did not neglect to avail themselves of this great though base advantage, and hence arose a further depreciation. —Calling the husbandman frequently to arms, who had indeed lost the incitements to industry from the cheapness of the necessaries of life in the beginning, compared - - - N 3 with
JT}9' with other articles which took a more rapid rife, soon reduced that abundance which preceded the war: this added to the greater consumption, together with the ravages and subsistence of the enemy, at length pointed the depreciation to the meajs of support.—The issues from this moment became enormous, and consequendy increased the disease from which they arose, and which must soon have become fatal, had not the successes of America, and the alliance with France, kept it froro finking entirely. The certainty of its redemption being now evident, we only suffer from the quantity.—This however not only impairs the value simply in itself, but as it calls for continued large emissions, so the certainty ,that every thing will be dearer than it is, renders every thing dearer than it otherwise, would be; and yice versa could we possibly absorb a part of. the inundation which overwhelms us, every thing would be cheaper from the certainty- that it would become cheaper.—The money Can be absorbed but three ways.-^-The first is by taxation, which cannot .reach the evil while the war continues; because the emissions must continue, to supply what is necessary over and above even the nominal produce of faxes; and the taxes cannot he very, productive, by rea. son of the possession of part and ravagement of other, parts of the country by the enemy; and alfa from riiq weakness of governments yet in their infancy, and not arrived to that power, method and firmness, which are the portion of elder states.—The second method is by borrowing, and is not efficient, because no interest can fempt men to send paper now, which paid together with that interest in paper a year hence, will not probably be worth half as much as the principal sum is at present i