History of the Rise, Progress, and Termination of the American Revolution/Chapter XIV
It has already been observed that in an early stage of the American contest, some gentlemen were deputed to negotiate ad to endeavor to secure the assistance of several European nations. This had had such an effect that at the period we are now upon, the United States were in strict alliance with France, and were considered in a partial and respectful light by some of the first powers in Europe. Yet difficulties both at home and abroad which had scarcely been viewed in theory, were no realized and felt with poignancy by the true friends of their country.
The objects that employed the abilities of Congress at this period were of such magnitude as required the experience of ancient statesmen, the coolness of long practiced politicians, and the energies of virtue.
The articles of confederation offered to the consideration of each legislative in the several states, in 1776, had been rejected by some and suspended by others. It is true, they were now recently ratified by all of them, but were scarcely yet established on a permanent basis. [See Note 5 at the end of this chapter.]
They had to arrange, harmonize, and support the new permanent army, collected from every part of the union, and now interwoven with foreign volunteers from different European nations; and in the rear of every other difficulty at home, they had to guard with all possible discretion, against the innumerable moral and political evils ever the inevitable consequence of a depreciating currency.
Abroad they had a task of equal difficulty, to heal the animosities that existed and to conciliate the differences that had arisen among the American ministers at the court of France, to prevent the fatal consequences of their virulence toward each other. This was expressed in strong language in their letters to Congress, nor was it a secret in the courts of England or France, in some instances, perhaps it was fomented by both.
In the infancy of Congress, in the magnitude of the new scenes that were opening before them, and in the critical emergencies that sprung up on untrodden ground, they, through hurry or inexperience, had not in all instances selected men of the most impeccable characters to negotiate with foreign powers. Perhaps in some of their appointments, they did not always look so much at the integrity of the heart, as at the capacity of the man for the arts of intrigue, the ray address, and the supple accomplishments necessary for the courtier, both to insure his own reception with princes, and to complete the wishes of his employers in his negotiations with practiced statesmen.
Silas Deane, Esquire, a delegate to Congress from the state of Connecticut, was the first person who had been vested with a foreign commission. He embarked as a commercial agent in behalf of the United States in 1776, and as afterwards named in the honorable commission for a treaty of alliance with the Court of France, in conjunction with Doctor Franklin and Arthur Lee, Esquire.
Mr. Deane had nothing to recommend him to such a distinguished and important appointment, except a degree of mercantile experience, combined with a certain secrecy or cunning that wore the appearance of knowing things much beyond his ability and the art of imposing a temporary believe of a penetration far beyond his capacity. His weakness and ostentation, his duplicity, extravagance and total want of principle were soon discovered by his constituents; but they placed the most unlimited confidence in the great abilities, profound knowledge, and unshaken patriotism, of the venerable and philosophic Franklin. His warm attachment to his native country had been evinced in numberless instances, during his long residence in England as agent to the British Court, both for the Massachusetts and the sate of Pennsylvania.
Before he left England in 1775, he had taken unwearied pains to reconcile on the principles of equity and sound policy, the breach between Great Britain and America. In the beginning of hostilities, he repaired to Philadelphia, as chosen a member of Congress, and by his decided republican principles, soon became a favorite in the councils of American, a stable prop of her independence, and the most able and influential negotiator they could send abroad.
The character and principles of Mr. Arthur Lee gave equal reason to expect his most energetic endeavors to support the interest and weal of America. He had resided in England for several years as agent for the state of Virginia. Invariably attached to his native country, and indefatigable in his efforts to ward off the impending evils that threatened it, he had communicated much useful intelligence and advantageous advice to the patriotic leaders in various parts of America; and by his spirited writings and diligent exertions, he procured them many fiends in England. He was a man of a clear understanding, great probity, plain manners, an strong passions. Though he loved America sincerely, he had at this period great respect and affection for the parent sate; and his predilection in favor of Britain appeared strongly, when balanced with the idea of an American connection with the House of Bourbon.
The celebrity of Doctor Franklin has been so just and so extensive that it is painful even for the impartial historian who contemplates the superiority of his genius to record the foibles of the man; but intoxicated by the warm caresses and unbounded applause of all ranks, among a people where the art of pleasing is systematized, he appeared notwithstanding his age and experience, in a short time after his residence in France, little less a Gallican than an American. This might be from polity. It was said, however, that he attached himself to the interest of the Count of Vergennes, who, though he countenanced the American Revolution, and cooperated in measures that completed it, yet it was afterwards discovered that he secretly wished to embarrass her councils and dreaded the rising glory of the United States. Whatever suggestion there might have been, it was never supposed that Doctor Franklin was led off from his attachment to the interest of America; yet this distinguished sage became susceptible of a court influence that startled his jealous and more frigid colleague, Mr. Lee.
Thus the trio of American agents at the Court of France were designated by peculiar traits of character; yet the respectability of Dr. Franklin and Mr. Lee was never lessened either at home or abroad notwithstanding some variation of opinion. But Mr. Deane immersed in the pleasures of a voluptuous city, a dupe to the intrigues of deeper politicians, not awed by the aged philosopher the tools of the French minister, and the supple instrument of military characters, ambitious of rifling into the fair field of glory in America, he wasted the property and bartered away the honors of his country, by promising offices of rank to 50 gentlemen at a time. He sent many of these on to America wit the most flattering expectations of promotion and even with ideas of superseding the previous appointments of Congress.
Many of the French officers who arrived on the American continent at this early period, with these fallacious hopes, were men of real merit, military experience, and distinguished rank; but it was impossible for Congress to provide for them all according to their views, without deranging the whole army and disgusting many of their best officers. Thus disappointed, some of them returned to France, under a cloud of chagrin that was not easily dissipated.
The indiscretion of Mr. Deane did not terminate with his engagements to individual strangers; for while he embarrassed Congress sand the army with his contracts and his country by squandering the public moneys, he had the audacity to propose in a letter to a person of influence that a foreign prince should be invited to command the armies of the United States. [Deane in this letter name Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick as a suitable commander for the armies of the free Americans.]
From the outlines of these heterogeneous characters, it is not strange that the most incurable animosities took place among the commissioners, and arose to such a height as to endanger the interests of an infant republic. Indeed the fate of America in some measure depended on the vigor, integrity, prudence, and unanimity of her ministers abroad; but dissension ran to such a pitch among them that it exposed them not only to the censure of their country, but to the derision of Britain. Consequently, an immediate recall of some of the American commissioners became necessary, and an order passed in Congress, December, 1777 that Silas Deane, Esquire, should immediately return to America. No reasons were offered for his recall; and Mr. John Adams of the state of Massachusetts was chosen to succeed as the commissioner in behalf of the United States at the Court of France.
Mr. Deane arrived in America a short time after the treaty with France had been received and ratified by Congress. He assumed an air of importance and self-confidence; and as guilt frequently sends a hue and cry after justice, in order to hoodwink the multitude, and calls loudly for vengeance on such as are about to detect his villainy, he offered a most inflammatory address to the public, complaining of ill usage and vilifying Mr. Lee in the grossest terms. He criminated every part of his public conduct, charged him with betraying his trust, corresponding with gentlemen in England, impeding as much a possible the alliance with France, and disclosing the secrets of Congress to British noblemen. At the same time, he cast the most virulent and insidious reflections on his brother, William Lee, agent for Congress at the courts of Vienna and Berlin.
He claimed much merit relative to the treaty of alliance with France, and complained heavily that Congress delayed giving him an opportunity of vindicating his own character, by an immediate public investigation. By these bold suggestions and allegations, so injurious to Congress and to their ministers the public mind was for a time greatly agitated But the attack on individual character was defeated by the exertions of some very able writers [Amor Dayton and others. Also Mr. Paine, author of a pamphlet entitled Common Sense. See some observations on his character, Note 6 at the end of this chapter.], who laid open the iniquitous designs and practices of the delinquent and his abettors; while Congress parried the abuse, they defended their own measures and quieted the clamors of a party against themselves, by calling Mr. Deane to a hearing on the floor of their house.
With the guise of innocence and the effrontery of guilt, he evaded the scrutiny by pleading that his papers and vouchers were all left in Europe, where, he alleged, the necessity of his own private affairs required his immediate presence. In short, though it was obvious that he had abused his commission, rioted long at the public expense, and grossly slandered some of its most faithful servants, yet by the influence of certain characters within and a tenderness for some without, who might be exposed by too strict an investigation, Congress were induced to suffer him again to leave the continent and return to Europe, though into as a public character, yet without punishment or judicial censure. He afterwards wandered from court to court, and from city to city, for several years; at last, reduced o the extreme of poverty and wretchedness, he died miserably in England.
Parties ran very high in Congress relative to the dissension among their ministers. Mr. Lee had many friends in that assembly. Dr. Franklin had more. And it was necessary for some mercantile speculators in that body to endeavor to throw a veil over the character of Mr. Deane that under its shade, the beams of clearer light might not too deeply penetrate their own.
Mr. Robert Morris, a member of Congress from the state of Pennsylvania, had undoubtedly been concerned in some very profitable contracts in company with several French and American gentlemen, besides Mr. Deane; and under the sanction of public negotiations, the most lucrative trade was carried on, and the fortunes of individual accumulated beyond calculation.
Monsieur Gerard, the French minister residing in Philadelphia, as warmly attached to Dr. Franklin and Mr. Deane and not less disgusted with Mr. Lee. It may be observed that there are few public ministers so tenacious of the dignity of their own character and conduct as not occasionally to descent to rank among partisans and exert the influence of public character to gratify private interest or resentment. Thus Mr. Gerard, an idolizer of Dr. Franklin, supported Mr. Deane, offered pensions to take off the defenders of Mr. Lee, and instead of retaining the superiority of an ambassador from one of the first monarchs in Europe, appeared the champion of a club of merchants and speculators. He resided but a short time in America; the Chevalier de la Luzerne superseded him as ambassador to the United States, in the summer of 1779. The reasons of his recall do not appear; but it was undoubtedly a prudent measure in the Court of France, not to suffer a minister to continue after the had discovered himself attached to a party.
Within a few months after Congress had made a new arrangement of ministers, and Mr. Adams had been sent on in the room of Mr. Deane, both Mr. Adams and Mr. Lee were directed to repair immediately to American; and Dr. Franklin was appointed sole minister at the Court of France. Americans, it is true, were early initiated in the spirit of intrigue, but they were not yet so thoroughly acquainted with the maneuvers of courts as to investigate the necessity of the sudden recall of those gentlemen.
Mr. Lee had been very severely censured by many for his want of address and his unaccommodating spirit that the French Court. Nor had he been more successful in his negotiations with Spain. He had resided some months at Madrid as commercial agent with powers if practicable to negotiate a treaty or to obtain a load of money for the use of the United States. But he was unacceptable to the court; and though he had the abilities of a statesman, he was without the address of a courtier; and his negotiations in Spain redounded little to the advantage of America. Yet such was his integrity that he found it not difficult on his arrival in his own country to reinstate himself fully in the good opinion of the public and to wipe from his character the aspersions of malice or prejudice.
Mr. Adams returned rather disgusted at the early revocation of his commission, and the unexpected order thus speedily to leave the Court of France. He did not himself repair to Congress, but retired privately to his seat in Braintree, where he employed himself for a time in preparing a concise statement of the situation and political connections of the different powers of Europe, which he laid before Congress, with his opinion of their interests and their views relative to America, and recommended the pursuance of every step that might tend to strengthen the alliance with France. Nothing can more strongly exhibit the pride Mr. Adams felt in the Gallican alliance and his zeal for supporting it than the expressions contained in his own letters on this subject, on his first residence at the Court of France.
But in Mr. Adams communications to Congress, he advised them strenuously and invariably "to guard against the principles in government and the manner that were so opposite to the constitutions of America, and the character of a young people, who might hereafter be called to form establishments for a great nation." [This was under the despotism of kings. It was monarchic principles and manners that Mr. Adams then admonished his countrymen to avoid. See his letter to Congress, August 4, 1779.] Mr. Adams continued this retired and mortified situation for some months; but we shall see in its place, he was afterwards called upon to transact affairs of a very high and important nature.
It was obvious to everyone that from the family interest and connection between the courts of France and Spain, the latter would undoubtedly cooperate with the views and designs of the former; but no treaty, alliance or any public countenance had yet been given to the Americans by the Court of Madrid. Spain had oscillated between peace and war for several years. She had offered herself as mediatrix among the contending powers; but insulted on the seas and her interference rejected by Britain, she appeared in June 1779 to act a more decided part. The Marquis de Almodovar, the Spanish ambassador in London, delivered a rescript to Lord Weymouth about this time, couched in language that amounted to a declaration of war.
On these movements in Europe, Congress thought proper again to send an envoy to the Court to Spain. John Jay, Esquire, a gentleman from the state of New York, was appointed to this mission, September 27, 1779. His capacity was equal to the business. He was well received, and his public character acknowledged; yet his negotiations were of little consequence to America, while he resided in Spain. Perhaps apprehensive that the spirit of freedom and revolt might extend to her own colonies, Spain chose to withhold her assistance.
No treaty with the United States was effected by Mr. Jay's mission, no concessions with regard to the free navigation of the Mississippi or any security for trade to the Bay of Honduras were obtained. On these important points, he was directed to negotiate as well as solicit a loan of money sufficient to assist eh United States in pursuit o their measures. But no loan of money of any consequence was to be drawn from the frigid and wary Spaniards. Notwithstanding the necessities of America were fully exposed by her minister, the highest favor he could obtain was the trivial load of 4000 or 5000 pounds.
Spain had no predilection in favor of the independence of the British colonies. She had always governed her own plantations beyond the Atlantic with a very arbitrary and despotic hand. Their contiguity and intercourse with the North Americans led her to fear that the spirit of freedom might be contagious and their own subjects there so far infected as to render it necessary to keep themselves in reserve against future contingencies. This they had done for some time after a war was announced between Great Britain and France; but it was impossible for them to continue longer neutral. France was now involve din war, and decidedly supporting the Americans, and England, in expectation of a union of interests, and a modification of the same line of conduct, in the courts of several branches of the House of Bourbon, had in various instances discovered a hostile disposition, and stood in a menacing posture, as if both her sword and her flag were ready to meet the conjoined forces of both France and Spain.
His Catholic Majesty thought it impossible for him longer to delay an explicit declaration of his intentions. He published a long manifesto, giving the reasons for a declaration of war. He ordered his ambassador to retired from the Court of London, without taking leave, and in a schedule published by order, great moderation was professed. In a paper delivered to Lord Weymouth by the Marquis de Almodovar, it was observed that "the causes of complain given by the Court of London not having ceased, and that Court showing no dispositions to give reparation for them, the King has resolved, and orders his ambassador to declare that the honor of Crown, the protection which he owes to his subjects, and his own personal dignity do not permit him to suffer their insults to continue and to neglect any longer the reparation of those already received; and that in this view, notwithstanding the pacific dispositions of His Majesty, and even the particular inclination he had always had and expressed, for cultivating the friendship of his Britannic Majesty, he find himself under the disagreeable necessity of making use of all the means which the Almighty has entrusted him with, to obtain that justice which he has solicited by so many ways, without being able to acquire it.
"In confiding on the justice of his cause, His Majesty hopes that the consequences of this resolution will not be imputed to him before God or man; and that other nations will form a suitable idea of this resolution by comparing it to the conduct which they themselves have experience on the part of the British ministry."
While things stood thus in the courts of Great Britain, France, and Spain, the indecisive movement for a time in the southern states of America, engaged the public attention, and awakened anxious apprehensions for the result; at the same time that a scene of rapine and plunder was spread through the central parts, Virginia, New York, and Connecticut.
The predatory excursions of this year were begun early in the summer. An expedition to the Chesapeake, under the command of Sir George Collier of the navy and General Matthews of the army, served no other purpose than to alarm, distress, and impoverish the towns of Portsmouth, Suffolk, and other places in the state of Virginia that fell under their spirit of conflagration. They stayed but a short time there. After enriching themselves with the spoils of the inhabitants and leaving many of those who had once basked in the lap of affluence the houseless children of poetry, they left the state, by order of the British commander in chief.
The pleasant line of towns bordering on Long Island Sound, in the state of Connecticut were the next who felt the severe consequences of this mode of war from British troops supported and covered by the squadron under Sir George Collier, who was recalled from the Chesapeake to aid similar measures farther north.
About the beginning of July, Governor Tryon with a number of disaffected Americans and General Garth with a ravaging party of British troops and German Yaughers, landed at New Haven, took possession of the town with little resistance, plundered and insulted the inhabitants, on whom every cruelty was perpetrated, except burning their houses; this was delayed from their thirst for plunder and the barbarous abuse of the hapless females who fell sacrifices to their wanton and riotous appetites. Hurried afterwards by their avarice for new scenes of plunder and misery, they left New Haven and repaired to Fairfield, where they landed on the seventh of the month.
This place suffered a still more cruel and severe fate. Their landing at Fairfield was but feebly opposed. The militia indeed made a faint resistance, but soon retreated, and left their property and, in many instances, their families to the mercy of the enemy. This was not altogether from the want of courage, but from a consciousness of their won comparative weakness, and a strange delusive opinion that the generosity and compassion of the British would be exercised towards them when they found only a few women, children, and aged men left, who seemed to have thrown themselves on their compassion.
The historian would willingly draw a veil over the wanton outrages committed on the wretched inhabitants left in the town, most o them of the feebler sex. Some of them, the first characters in the place, from a wish to save their property, and an indiscreet confidence in the honor of Governor Tryon, which whom they had been personally acquainted, and who had formerly received many civilities at their houses, risked their own persons and their honor amid the fury of a conquering enemy on a kind of sham protection from a man who had forgotten the obligations of politeness and the gratitude due to those who had treated him with every mark of genteel hospitality.
The principal ladies of Fairfield, who from little knowledge of the world, of the usages of armies or the general conduct of men, when circumstances combine to render them savage, could not escape the brutality of the soldiery, by showing their protections from Governor Tryon. Their houses were rifled, their persons abused, and after the general pillage and burning of everything valuable in the town, some of these miserable victims of sorrow were found half distracted in the swamps and in the fields, whither they had fled in the agonies of despair.
Tryon endeavored afterwards to exculpate his own character and made some futile excuses for his conduct. He would have justified himself on the principles of policy when he felt the indignation expressed against him for his want of humanity; but policy, reason, and virtue equally revolt at modes of war that eradicate from the mind not only the moral feelings, but the sense of decency, civility, and politeness.
The avidity of this party was by no means satiated by the distresses of New Haven and the total destruction of Fairfield. The neighboring towns of Norwalk and Greenfield suffered a similar fate. the waste of property in shipping and merchandise was there more complete. The whole coast equally defenseless and exposed to their ravages expected to fall in the same way; but, whether from compunction or policy is uncertain, whichever it might be, Sir Henry Clinton thought proper to check the career of depredation by a sudden recall within ten days of their landing at New Haven.
Meantime, General Washington had kept himself in a defensive and respectable situation in the central parts of America, but without a movement for any very capital stroke, after the derangement of a well concerted plan for an attack on the city of New York. He had expected the aid of the French squadron from the West Indies to facilitate this judicious measure. The militia of several states had been collected to assist in the design. the arm was in high spirits. Sanguine expectations were formed; and everything promised success to the enterprise. But the Count de Estaing, perhaps ambitious to subjugate one of the states to the arms of his master and not dreaming of effectual resistance to a force, both by land and sea, that might reasonably be thought sufficient for the most capital enterprise, instead of uniting first with General Washington and covering his attempt on New York by a respectable necessary naval force, he thought proper to hazard the reduction of Georgia on his way, and then repair northward.
But his attack on Savannah, his unexpected repulse and retreat, not only retarded, but totally prevented the decisive stroke contemplated by Washington, nor less apprehended by Clinton, who was thereby induced to order the evacuation of Newport and draw off all his troops from that quarter. Newport and its environs had been infested with the inconvenience and misery of an army and navy on their borders from the seizure of that place by Earl Percy in 1776 to their relief in the present year.
The circumstances above related put it out of the power of General Washington to prosecute the feasible system he had meditated. The militia were dismissed, and many of the continental troops returned as usual at the expiration of their term of enlistment. General Clinton had made several attempts to draw the American commander from his strong and defensible post in the Jerseys, as well as to induce him to divide his army to oppose the desultory invasions and depredations on the defenseless east coast. But General Washington very well knew the advantages he might lose by weakening the main body of his army and was too wise and judicious to be ensnared by the maneuvers of the British commander.
The first object of Sir George Collier's speedy recall from the ravage of the borders of Virginia was to cooperate with General Vaughan in the important movement son the North River. The principal design of this project was to obtain some important posts on the Hudson. General Vaughan, who had before been distinguished for his feats there, still commanded on the Hudson, but higher up the river. On the arrival the squadron commanded by Sir George Collier, they united, and immediately made themselves masters of Stoney Point on the one side, and Verplanks Neck on the other.
After these places had been dismantled the preceding autumn by Sir Henry Clinton, the Americans had in part repaired the works. In each post they behaved with spirit and resolution; but as their numbers were inconsiderable, and their works unfinished, they soon surrendered prisoners of war, on the single condition of humane treatment.
Not many days after this event, General Washington ordered a detachment of his most active troops, under the command of General Wayne, to attempt the recovery of Stoney Point. This bold and vigorous enterprise was conducted in a manner peculiarly honorary both to the officers and soldiers, but not altogether so consistent with humanity. they were directed not to load their pieces, but to depend on the bayonet. One who appeared discontented at the order was shot on the occasion. Though this summary mode of punishment is severe, it was designed to prevent the effusion of blood. Doubtless, had the British been early alarmed by the fire of the American arms, the carnage would have been greater.
The works had been repaired and strengthened with great alacrity, and two British regiments, some loyal Americans, and several companies of artillery left in garrison by General Vaughan. On the evening of July 5, after a difficult and hazardous march, Wayne reached, surprised, and recovered the post, in spite of the valiant opposition within. Colonel Fleury, an amiable, ambitious, and spirited young Frenchman, had the honor and peculiar pleasure of striking the British standard with his own hand. this youthful officer had received the thanks of Congress and the honorary rewards of the soldier for his distinguished bravery in several previous rencounters.
General Wayne was himself slightly wounded in the enterprise; but the united applauses of the commander in chief, of Congress and of his country, which he received would have been ample compensation for more painful wounds, or much severer fatigue. The acquisition of this post was more honorary than important. An attempt to have held it would have been fruitless. It had been previously determined in a council of war that on the success of Wayne, the works should be demolished and the stores brought off.
Sir Henry Clinton immediately set his whole army in motion for the relief of Verplanks, which was momently expected to surrender to the American arms, and for the recovery of Stoney Point. He succeeded in his wishes; and after only three days of possession, this contested spot a third time changed its masters; and the command of the whole river for a time continued in the hands of the British.
Several other maneuvers took place about this time near New York, and the more central parts of the country that kept up the spirit of enterprise and the honor of the arms of the states. But a more consequential affair occupied the public attention in the eastern extreme of the American territory. A Colonel Maclean had been sent with a party of British troops from Halifax to land at the mouth of the Penobscot, within the jurisdiction of the Massachusetts. He erected a fort, and established a strong post in a convenient situation for harassing the trade and distressing the young settlements bordering on the province of Nova Scotia. When this intelligence was received at Boston, the hardy and enterprising sprit of the men of Massachusetts did not hesitate to make immediate preparation to dislodge n enemy whose temerity had led them to encroach on their state.
It had been only four years since the commencement of hostilities with Britain. America was then not only without a navy, but without a single ship of war. The idea of constructing and equipping a maritime force was ridiculed by some and thought chimerical and impracticable by others. But the human mind is generally capable of accomplishing whatever it has resolution to under take.
By the industry and vigilance of public bodies and pirate adventurers, they had in this short period acquired a navy that a century before would have made a respectable figure among the most warlike nations; and within ten days after Maclean's attempt was known at Boston, the Warren, a handsome new frigate of force, commanded by Commodore Saltonstall and seventeen other continental, state, and pirate ships, were equipped, manned, victualled, and ready for sea. They were accompanied by an equal number of transports, with a considerable body of land forces who embarked in high spirits and with the sanguine expectation of a short and successful expedition.
This business was principally conducted by the state legislature. Nor would the gentlemen of the continental navy board consent to hazard the public ships, unless the commander officers were positively enjoined to execute their design immediately. They were apprehensive that nay delay might give opportunity to send a superior force from New York. from the dilatory conduct of the Americans, after they reached Penobscot, these apprehensions were realized; and before any efficient movements had taken place, Sir George Collier with a heavy squadron under his command, appeared for the relief of Maclean.
General Lovell, who commanded by land, was a man of little military experience and never made for enterprise sufficient to dislodge the British from a post of consequence or in any way complete an undertaking that required decision, promptitude and judgment. Commodore Saltonstall proved himself a character of as little enterprise, and in this instance, of less spirit than the commander of the troops designed to act on shore.
Thus by the shameful delay of both and to the mortification of many brave officers who accompanied them, the expedition terminated in the disgrace of both army and navy and the total destruction of the fleet. On the first appearance of George Collier, the American shipping moved up the river with a show of resistance, but in reality to escape by land from an enemy they seemed not to have expected, nor had the courage to face. Two of their best ships fell into the hands of the British. The remainder, lighted by their won hands, suffered a complete conflagration. The panic-struck troops, after leaving their own ships, chagrined at the conduct of Saltonstall, and disgusted with the inactivity, indecision, and indiscretion of Lovell, made their escape through the woods in small, indiscriminate parties of soldiers and sailors. On their way, they agreed on nothing, but in railing at their officers and suffering the natural ebullitions of disappointment to spend itself in mutual reproaches. With fatigue, hunger, and difficulty, they reached the settlements on the Kennebec, and brought the intelligence of their won defeat.
It was not in the power of the infant states to repair their maritime loss during the war; and to complete the ruin of their little navy, some of their best ships were lost in the defense of Charleston the year following, as will be seen hereafter. What added to the mortification of this last stroke was that these ships were prepared and ready to sail in order to prosecute a very flattering expedition projected by the gentlemen of the navy board in the eastern department when they received an express order from Congress to send them to South Carolina.
Scarcely an single event during the great contest caused more triumph to Britain than this total demolition of the beginning of an American navy. So successful and enterprising had they been that a gentleman of the first information has observed that "the privateers from Boston in one year would defray more than one half the expense of that year's war." [See letters of the honorable John Adams to Mr. Calkoen.] By their rapid progress, they had given the promise of a formidable appearance on the ocean that in time they might become a rival even to the proud mistress of the seas; but this blow gave a fatal stroke of the present to all farther attempts of the kind.
After the loss of Charleston, the ship Alliance and the Deane frigate were the only remnants left to the American navy. These were soon after sold at public auction, the navy boards dissolved, and all maritime enterprise extinguished, except by private adventurers. They were also much less fortunate after the loss of the public ships than they had been at the beginning of the war. It was calculated that two out of three were generally captured by the British, after the year 1780. Time may again revive the ambition for a naval power there, as American is abundantly replete with everything necessary for the equipment of fleets of magnitude and respectability.
After all it may justly be considered that the constructing a national fleet is but an addition to human misery; for besides the vast expense of such equipments, the idle and licentious habits of a vast body of sailors, a naval armament is only a new engine to carry death and conflagration to distant, unoffending, innocent nations. The havoc of human life on the ocean, the great balance of evil resulting from naval engagements, if duly weighted in the scale of equity or humanity might lead the nations with one general consent, to their total annihilation. Yet undoubtedly, the pride of empire and the ambition of kids will still induce them to oppress their subjects for the purpose of enhancing their own power, by this horrid instrument of human carnage; an that they will continue to waft death and destruction to every corner of the globe, that their maritime thunders can reach.
It is true the etiquette of modern courts usually introduces some plausible apologies as a sort of prelude to the opening of those real scenes of war and destruction which they are preparing to exhibit by that monstrous engine of misery, a naval armament. "They usually trumpet forth the godlike attributes of justice, equity, mercy, and above all, that universal benevolence and tenderness to mankind with which their respective courts of sovereigns are supposed to be infinitely endued; and deplore in the most pathetic strains those very evils that they are bringing on and those miseries which they are exerting their utmost powers to inflict."
But it is to be feared that it will be long before we shall see a combination of powers , whatever maybe their professions, whose ultimate object is the establishment of universal equity, liberty, and peace among mankind. War, the courage of the human race, either from religious or political pretenses, will probably continue to torment the inhabitants of the earth until some new dispensation shall renovate the passions correct the vices, and elevate the mind of mortals beyond the pursuits of time.
The world has so long witnessed the sudden and dreadful devastation made by naval armaments that it is unnecessary to expatiate thereon; it is enough to observe that the splendid display of maritime power has appeared on the largest theaters of human action. The proudest cities have unexpectedly been invaded and the inhabitants involved in misery by the firs of those floating engines in too many instances to particularize for the first building up a British navy to the early attempt of America to strengthen themselves by following the example of the parent state, in building and equipping ships of war in the beginning for their opposition to British power.
The truth of this observation may be evinced by a single instance of surprise and capture by a little squadron under the command of Commodore Hopkins, only the second year after hostilities commenced between Great Britain and the colonies. The American commander of a ship of only 36 guns and seven or eight small vessels surprised New Providence, captured the governor, lieutenant governor, and other officers of the Crown, seized near a hundred pieces of cannon, and carried off all the warlike stores on the island. But not habituated to the usual cruelties exercised on such occasions, though they continued there two or three weeks, they offered no insult to the inhabitants and took possession of no private property without paying for it. This was an instance of lenity that seldom falls under observation, where men have been longer inured to scenes and services that harden the heart, and too frequently banish humanity from the breast of man.
The small naval armament constructed by the United States, did not continue long enough in existence either to attempt great enterprise or to become hardened by the cruel achievements consequent on the invasion of cities, towns, and villages, and desolating them by the sudden torrents o fire poured in upon their inhabitants. Some future day may, however, render it necessary for Americans to build and arm in defense o their extensive sea board, and the preservation of their commerce; when they may be equally emulous of maritime glory, an become the scourge of their fellow men, on the same grade of barbarity that has been exhibited by some other nations.
Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union between the states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantation, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.
Article 1 The Style of this confederacy shall be "The United States of America."
Article 2 Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom and independent, and every power, jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled.
Article 3 The said states hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense, the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare; binding themselves to assist each other against all force offered to or attacks made upon them, or any of them, on account of religion, sovereignty, trade, or any other pretense whatever.
Article 4 The better to secure and perpetuate mutual friendship and intercourse among the people of the different states in this union, the free inhabitants of each of these states (paupers, vagabonds, and fugitives from justice excepted) shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of free citizens in the several states; and the people of each state shall have free ingress and regress to and from any other state; and shall enjoy therein all the privileges of trade and commerce, subject to the same duties, impositions, and restrictions as the inhabitants thereof respectively; provided that such restrictions shall not extend so far as to prevent the removal or property imported into any state, to any other state of which the owner is an inhabitant; provided also that no imposition, duties, or restrictions shall be laid by any state on the property of the United States or either of them.
If any person guilty of or charged with treason, felony, or other high misdemeanors in any state shall flee from justice, and be found in any of the United States, he shall, upon demand of the governor or executive power of the state from which he fled, be delivered up and removed to the state having jurisdiction of his offense.
Full faith and credit shall be given in each of these states to the records, acts, and judicial proceedings of the courts and magistrates of every other state.
Article 5 For the more convenient management of the general interests of the United States, delegates shall be annually appointed in such manner as the legislature of each state shall direct to meet in Congress on the first Monday in November in every year; with a power reserved to each state to recall its delegates or any of them at any time within the year and to send others in their stead for the remainder of the year.
No state shall be represented in Congress by less than two nor by more than seven members; and no person shall be capable of being a delegate for more than three years in any term of six years; nor shall any person, being a delegate, be capable of holding any office under the United States, for which he, or another for his benefit, receives any salary, fees, or emolument of any kind.
Each state shall maintain its own delegates in a meeting of the states, and while they act as members of the committee of the states.
In determining questions in the United States in Congress assembled, each state hall have one vote.
Freedom of speech and debate in Congress shall not be impeached or questioned in any court of place out of Congress; and the members of Congress shall be protected in their persons from arrests and punishments during the time of their going to and from and attendance on Congress, except for treason, felony, or breach of the peace.
Article 6 No state, without the consent of the United States in Congress assembled, shall send any embassy to or receive any embassy from or enter into any conference, agreement, alliance, or treaty with any king, prince, or state: nor shall any person holding any office of profit or trust under the United States or any of them accept of any present, emolument, office, or title of any kind whatever from any king, prince, or foreign state; nor shall the United States in Congress assembled or any of them grant any title of nobility.
No two or more states shall enter into any treaty, confederation, or alliance whatever between them, without the consent of the United States in Congress assembled, specifying accurately the purposes for which the same is to be entered into and how long it shall continue.
No state shall lay any posts or duties which may interfere with any stipulations in treaties entered into by the United States in Congress assembled with any king, prince, or state, in pursuance of any treaties already proposed by Congress to the courts of France and Spain.
No vessels of war shall be kept up in time of peace by any state except such numbers only as shall be deemed necessary by the United States in Congress assembled for the defense of such state or its trade; nor shall any body of forces be kept up by any state in time of peace except such number only as in the judgment of the United States in Congress assembled shall be deemed requisite to garrison the forts necessary for the defense of such state; but every state shall always keep up a well regulated and disciplined militia, sufficiently armed and accoutered; and shall provide and constantly have ready for use in public stores a due number of field pieces and tents, and a proper quantity of arms, ammunition, and camp equipage.
No state shall engage in any war without the consent of the United States in Congress assembled, unless such state be actually invaded by enemies, or shall have received certain advice of a resolution being formed by some nation of Indians to invade such state, and the danger is so imminent as not to admit of a delay till the United States in Congress assembled can be consulted; nor shall any state grant commissions to any ships or vessels of war nor letters of marque or reprisal, except it be after a declaration of war by the United States in Congress assembled, and then only against the kingdom or state and the subjects thereof, against which war has been so declared, and under such regulations as shall be established by the United States in Congress assembled; unless such state shall be infested by pirates; in which case, vessels of war may be fitted out for that occasion, and kept so long as the danger shall continue, or until the United States in Congress assembled shall determine other ways.
Article 7 When land forces are raised by any state for the common defense, all officers of or under the rank of colonel shall be appointed by the legislature of each state respectively, by whom such forces shall be raised, or in such manner as such state shall direct; and all vacancies shall be filled up by the state which first made the appointment.
Article 8 All charges of war, and all other expenses that shall be incurred for the common defense or general welfare and allowed by the United States in Congress assembled shall be defrayed out of a common treasury, which shall be supplied by the several states in proportion to the value of all land within each state, granted to or surveyed for any person, as such land and the buildings and improvements thereon shall be estimated according to such mode as the Untied States in Congress assembled shall, from time to time, direct and appoint. The taxes for paying that proportion shall be laid and levied by the authority and direction of the legislatures of the several states, within the time agreed upon by the United States in Congress assembled.
Article 9 The United States in Congress assembled shall have the sole and exclusive right and power of determining on peace an war, except in the cases mentioned in the Sixth Article; or sending and receiving ambassadors; entering into treaties and alliances; (provided that no treaty of commerce shall be made whereby the legislative powers of the respective states shall be restrained from imposing such imposts and duties on foreigners as their own people are subjected to or from prohibiting the exportation or importation of any species of goods of commodities whatsoever); of establishing rules for deciding in all cases what captures on land or water shall be legal, and in what manner prizes taken by land or naval forces in the service of the United States shall be divided or appropriated; of granting letters of marque or reprisal in times of peace; appointing courts for ht trial of piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and establishing courts for receiving and determining finally appeals in all cases of captures; (provided that no member of Congress shall be appointed a judge of any of he said courts.)
The United States in Congress assembled shall also be the last resort on appear in all disputes and differences now subsisting or that hereafter may arise between two or more states, concerning boundary, jurisdiction, or any other cause whatever; which authority shall always be exercised in the manner following: Whenever the legislative or executive authority, or lawful agent, or any state in controversy with another shall present a petition to Congress, stating the matter in question and praying for a hearing, notice thereof shall be given by order of Congress to the legislative or executive authority of the other state in controversy, and a day assigned of the appearance of the parties by their lawful agents, who shall then be directed to appoint by joint consent commissioners or judges to constitute a court of hearing and determining the matter in question; but if they cannot agree, Congress shall name three persons out of each of the United States; and from the list of such persons, each party shall alternately strike out one, the petitioners beginning, until the number shall be reduced to thirteen; and from that number not less than seven nor more than nine names, as Congress shall direct, shall in the presence of Congress be drawn out by lot; and the persons whose names shall be so drawn, or any five of them, shall be commissioners or judges to hear and finally determine the controversy so always as a major part of the judges who shall hear the cause shall agree in the determination; and if either party shall neglect to attend at the day appointed, without showing reasons, which Congress shall judge sufficient, or being present shall refuse to strike, the Congress shall proceed to nominate three persons out of each state, and the secretary of Congress shall strike in behalf of such party absent or refusing; and the judgment and sentence of the court to be appointed, in the manner before prescribe, shall be final and conclusive; and if any of the parties shall refuse to submit to the authority of such court, or to appear or defend their claim or cause, the court shall nevertheless proceed to pronounce sentence or judgment, which shall in like manner be final and decisive, the judgment or sentence an other proceedings being in either case transmitted to Congress and lodged among the acts of Congress for the security of the parties concerned; provided that every commissioner, before he sits in judgment, shall take an oath to be administered by one of the judges of the supreme or superior court of the state where the cause shall be tried, "Well and truly to hear and determine the matter in question, according to the best of his judgment, without favor, affection, or hope of reward"; provided also that no state shall be deprived of territory for the benefit of the United States.
All controversies concerning the private right of soil claimed under different grants of two or more states, whose jurisdictions as they may respect such lands, and the states which passed such grants are adjusted, the said grants or either of them being at the same time claimed to have originated antecedent to such settlement of jurisdiction, shall on the petition of either party to the Congress of the United States be finally determined as near as may be in the same manner as is before prescribed for deciding disputes respecting territorial jurisdiction between different states.
The United States in Congress assembled shall also have the sole and exclusive right and power of regulating the alloy and value of coin struck by their own authority or by that of the respective states — fixing the standard of weights and measures throughout the United States — regulating the trade and managing all affairs with the Indians, not members of any of the states, provided that the legislative right of any state within its own limits be not infringed or violated — establishing and regulating post offices from one state to another, throughout all the United States, and exacting such postage on the papers passing through the same as may be requisite to defray the expenses of the said office — appointing all officers of the land forces in the service of the United States, excepting regimental officers — appointing all the officers of the naval forces, and commissioning all officers whatever in the service of the United States — making rules for the government and regulation of the said land and naval forces, and directing their operations.
The United States in Congress assembled shall have authority to appoint a committee to sit in the recess of Congress to be denominated "A Committee of the States," and to consist of one delegate from each state; and to appoint such other committees and civil officers as my be necessary for managing the general affairs of the United States under their direction — to appoint one of their number to preside, provided that no person be allowed to serve in the office of president more than one year in any term of three years; == to ascertain the necessary sums of money to be raised for the service of the United States, and to appropriate and apply the same for defraying the pubic expenses — to borrow money, or emit bills on the credit of the United States, transmitting every half year to the respective states an account of the sums of money so borrowed or emitted — to build and equip a navy — to agree upon the number of land forces, and to make requisitions from each state for its quota, in proportion to the number of white inhabitants in such state; which requisition shall be binding, and thereupon the legislature of each state shall appoint the regimental officers, raise the men, and clothe, arm, and equip them in a soldier-like manner, at the expense of the United States; and the officers and men so clothed, armed, and equipped shall march to the place appointed and within the time agreed on by the United States in Congress assembled. But if the United Sates in Congress assembled shall, on consideration of circumstances, judge proper that any state should not raise men or should raise a smaller number than its quota and that any other state should raise a greater number of men than the quota thereof, such extra number shall be raised, officered, clothed, armed, and equipped in the same manner as the quota of such state, unless the legislature of such state shall judge that such extra number cannot be safely spared out of the same, in which case they shall raise, officer, clothe, arm, and equip as many such extra number as they judge can be safely spared. And the officers and men so clothed, armed, and equipped shall march to the place appointed and within the time agreed on by the United States in Congress assembled.
The United States in Congress assemble shall never engage in a war nor grant letters of marque and reprisal in time of peace, nor enter into any treaties or alliances, nor coin money, nor regulate the value thereof nor ascertain the sums and expenses necessary for the dense and welfare of the Untied States, or any of them; nor emit bills, nor borrow money on the credit of the Untied States; nor appropriate money, nor agree upon the number of vessels of war to be built or purchased or the number of land or sea forces to be raised nor appoint a commander in chief of the army or navy, unless nine states assent to the same; nor shall a question on any other point, except for adjourning from day to day, be determined unless by the votes of a majority of the United States in Congress assembled.
The Congress of the United States shall have power to adjourn at any time within the year and to any place within the United States, so that no period of adjournment be for a longer duration than the space of six months, and shall publish the journal of their proceedings monthly, except such parts thereof relating to treaties, alliance, or military operations, as in their judgment require secrecy; and the yeas and nays of the delegate of each state on any question shall be entered o the journal, when it is desired by any delegate; and the delegates of a state or any of them, at his or their request, shall be furnished with a transcript of the said journal, except such parts as are above excepted, to lay before the legislatures of the several states.
Article 10 The Committee of the States or any nine of them shall be authorized to execute, the recess of Congress, such of the powers of Congress as the United States in Congress assembled, by the consent of the nine states shall from time to time think expedient to vest them with; provided that no power be delegated to the said committee, for the exercise of which, by the articles of confederation, the voice of nine states in the Congress of the United States assembled is requisite.
Article 11 Canada acceding to this confederation and joining in the measures of the United States shall be admitted into and entitled to all the advantages of this Union; but no other colony shall be admitted into the same, unless such admission be agreed to by nine states.
Article 12 All bills of credit emitted, moneys borrowed, and debts contract by or under the authority of Congress, before the assembling of the United States, in pursuance of the present confederation, shall be deemed an considered as a charge against the United States, for payment and satisfaction whereof the said United States, and the public faith are hereby solemnly pledge.
Article 13 Every state shall abide by the determinations of the United States in Congress assembled on all questions which by this confederation are submitted to them. And the articles of this confederation shall be inviolably observed by every state, and the union shall be perpetual; nor shall any alteration at any time hereafter be made in any of them; unless such alteration be agreed to in a Congress of the Untied States, and be afterwards confirmed by the legislatures of every state.
These articles shall be proposed to the legislatures of all the United States to be considered an, if approved of by them, they are advised to authorize their delegate to ratify the same in the Congress of the United States; which being done, the same shall become conclusive.
By order of Congress, Henry Laurens, president
The name of Thomas Paine has become so generally known both in Europe and America that a few strictures on his character may not be uninteresting.
Mr. Paine was a native of England, but he had resided in America some time before the American Revolution took place. He warmly advocated the cause of the colonies and wrote in the spirit of the times with much applause. Several of his bold publications displayed a considerable share of wit and ingenuity, though his arguments were not always conclusive. His Crisis, his Common Sense, and some other writings were well adapted to animate the people, and to invigorate their resolutions in opposition to the measures of the British administration.
Though not generally considered a profound politician, yet as it was then thought he wrote on principles honorable to the human character, his celebrity was extensive in America and was afterwards disseminated in England; and his merit as a writer for a time appreciated by a work entitled the Rights of Man, which was replete with just and dignified sentiments on a subject so interesting to society.
His celebrity might have been longer maintained and his name have been handed down with applause had he not afterwards have left the line of politics and presumed to touch on theological subjects, of which he was grossly ignorant, as well as totally indifferent to every religious observance as an individual, and in some instances his morals were censured.
Persecuted in England, he repaired to France, some time before monarchy was subverted in that nation. There, after listening to the undigested rant of infidels of antecedent date, and learning by rote the jargon of the modern French literati, who zealously labored in the filed of skepticism, he attempted to undermine the sublime doctrines of the Gospel, and annihilate the Christian system. ["The infidel has shot his bolts away, Till his exhausted quiver yielding none, He gleans the blunted shafts that have recoiled, and aims them at the shield of truth again." Cowper.] Here he betrayed his weakness and want of principle, in blasphemous scurrilities and impious raillery, that at once sunk his character, and disgusted every rational and sober mind.
It is no apology that this was done at a period, when all principle seemed to lie prostrate beneath the confusions and despotism of the Robespierian reign. It is true, this insignificant theologian, who affected to hold in contempt all religion, or any expectations of a future state, was at this time trembling under the terrors of the guillotine; and while imprisoned, he endeavored to ingratiate himself into the favor of the ruling faction of France by leveling his sarcastic pen against opinions that had been for ages held sacred among mankind.
The effusions of infidelity, entitled the Age of Reason would not have been thought worthy of a serious refutation had not much industry been employed to disseminate this worthless pamphlet among the common classes of mankind. The young, the ignorant, the superficial and licentious, pleased with the attempt to let loose the wild passions of men by removing so efficient a guard as is contained in the sacred scriptures, this pernicious work was by them fought for, and read with avidity. This consideration drew out the pens of men of character and ability to antidote the poison of licentious wit.
No one had more merit in the effort than the learned, pious, and excellent Dr. Richard Watson, Bishop of Landff. His works have always been read with pleasure and applause, by every man of genius, virtue, and taste, in whatever branch of literature he drew his pen. His observations on the writings of Paine, his letters to Mr. Gibbon, with a concluding address to young gentlemen, will be read with delight and improvement by every person who adores the benignity of divine government, long after the writings of infidels of talent and ingenuity are sunk into oblivion.
Men of discernment are ever better pleased with truth, in its most simple garb, than with the sophisticated, though elegant, style of wit and raillery, decorated for deception; and the name of Voltaire, with other wits an philosophers of the same description will be forgotten and even the celebrated Gibbon will cease to be admired by the real friends of the Christian dispensation, while its defenders will be held in veneration to the latest ages.
The lovers of liberty on reasonable and just principles were exceedingly hurt that a man so capable as was Mr. Paine, of exhibiting political truth in a pleasing garb, and defending the rights of man with eloquence and precision, should prostitute his talents to ridicule divine revelation, and destroy the brightest hopes of a rational and immoral agent.
Mr. Paine out-lived the storms of revolution both in America and in France, and he may yet add one instance more to the versatility of human events by out-living his own false opinions and foolish attempts to break down the barriers of religion, and we wish he may by his own pen endeavor to antidote some part of the poisons he has spread.