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1119' 6. On this he observed, that he had endeavoured since the last fall, by order of his court, to impress on every mind, that England will never evacuate New York willingly, and could only be brought by proper exertions on the part of America, to think seriously of granting her independence. He believed that congress had adopted a system conformable to their engagements and the situation of affairs: his court was better informed than he was: but without reflecting on past events, the king hopes his amicable apprehensions will be overcome by the success of the campaign: that henceforth the United States will follow the example set them by his majesty, and that they will exert themselves in their own cause, as his majesty exerts himself for their sake and in their cause which he has adopted.
7. He said, that he was authorized to tell congress in confidence, that this reflection is the result of the observations which the court of Spain made upon the conduct of England, throughout her negotiations of mediation : —That the British ministry seem to be solicitous to be reconciled with France, and to keep up this negotiation; that from thence probable hopes may be entertained of their internal disposition to peace; but at the same time they reject with haughtiness the formal acknowledgment of the independence inserted by France and Spain. New orders have been given to the Spanish ambassador at London, to ascertain as nearly as poflible 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 expedient to give their plenipotentiary instructions .and full powers,
sounded founded upon the necessity of the conjunctures and upon 1779. the treaty of alliance, the express and formal terms of which are, that peace shall not be made without an express or tacit acknowledgment 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' gratuitous gift without any compensation or stipulation, ought indeed never to be forgot in a negotiation for peace. France foresaw the extreme difficulties a formal and explicit acknowledgment might meet with. She knew by her own experience in similar contest*, in which she has been deeply concerned respecting the republic of Holland, Genoa, and the Swiss Cantons, how tenacious 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 re-' sistance of seventy. To this day Genoa and the Swiss Cantons have obtained no renunciation, nor acknowledgment either tacit or 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 explicitstipulation 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 acknowledgment. All these considerations therefore are mentioned, that
»W- congress may, if they think proper, consider whether the literal execution of the treaty in this point is not become necessary, and whether the safety and happiness of the American people, as well as the essential principles of the alliance, are not intimately connected with tbe resolutions that may be taken on this subject: and it- remains with the prudence of congress to examine, whether 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 executing the orders," continued he, " I have received, I cannot omit observing, that these orders were given with the full presumption, that the business which I laid before congress in Febru, ary last, would have been settled long before these dis, patches mould come to my hands. However sensibly my court will be disappointed in her expectations, I shall add nothing to the information 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 sound myself bound to deliver from time tp time to congress in the 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 I had the honor to deliver to an assembly similar to the present. I shall only insist on a single point which I establiffied then and sipeein one of my memorials, namely the manifest and striking necessity of enabling Spain, by the determination pf just and moderate terms, to press upon 9 • England
England with her good offices, and to bring her medi- 1779* ation 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 same time and without delay proper terms should be offered to his catholic majesty, in order to reconcile him perfectly to the American interest. 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 from completing the intended triumvirate. 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 satal chance, that} a single unlucky event may overturn the balance."
The committee then taking notice of what the mi-. nister had said concerning a tacit assurance of the independence of these fates, requested to know his fense concerning the manner in which such tacit assurance could be given; to which he, premising that what he should now say ought to be considered only as his private sentiments, replied-wThat the British court, would probably endea
1779- vour to avoid an express acknowledgment by imitating precedents that had occurred in Europe on similar occasions, instancing in the cafe of the Swiss Cantons, and of the United Provinces of Holland; that the mode adopted in the latter cafe had been for the arch-dukes, • to whom the king 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 possession as of full liberty and exemption from the em. pirej and be in no .manner subject to the jurisdiction thereof .-"—-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, %0 come to an ultimatum, that so no promising negotiations might be delayed or obstructed, contributed to
.! ward 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 os it dissolved in the course of last 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 Utde more than take care of himself, and guard the communication of die North River. . The