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CHAP. VII. than our regulations have hitherto prescribed. 1776. I am persuaded, and am as fully convinced as
of any one fact that has happened, that our li. berties must, of necessity, be greatly hazarded, if not entirely lost, if their defence be left to any but a permanent army.
“Nor would the expense incident to the support of such a body of troops, as would be competent to every exigency, far exceed that which is incurred by calling in daily succours, and new inlistments, which when effected, are not attended with any good consequences. Men who have been free, and subject to no control, cannot be reduced to order in an instant; and the privileges and exemptions they claim, and will have, influence the conduct of others in such a manner, that the aid derived from them is nearly counterbalanced by the disorder, irregularity and confusion they occasion.”
The frequent remonstrances of the commander in chief, the opinions of all military men, the severe correcting hand of experience, had, at length, produced their effect on congress; and soon after the defeat on Long island, it had been referred to the committee composing the board of war, to prepare a plan of operations for the next succeeding campaign. Their report, which was adopted by congress, proposed a permanent army to be inlisted for the war, and to be composed of eighty-eight battalions, to be raised by the several states in proportion to
their ability. * As inducements to inlist, a CHAP. VII. bounty of twenty dollars was allowed, and 1776. small portions of vacant lands promised to every officer and soldier. †
Had this system been adopted in 1775, the war would probably have been of much shorter duration ; but much is to be allowed for the want of military experience in congress, for prejudices which prevailed throughout America, and very much for the organization of the government, which, while the essentials of power were parcelled out among the several local legislatures, placed in that of the union little more than the right to recommend; a right to be exercised with great caution ; be
* New Hampshire...........3 Maryland ........................ 8
Massachussetts........... 15 Virginia.................... 15
The resolution was afterwards changed so as to give the option to inlist for three years, or during the war. Those in listing for three years not to be entitled to land. VOL. II.
CHAP. VII. cause measures manifesting an expectation 1776. that the war might be of long continuance, or
which might excite a suspicion of aiming at independence, or of an indisposition to a reestablishment of the ancient connexion between Great Britain and America, might, in the early stage of the contest, have produced very seri. ous consequences in some parts of the union.
The first use made by lord Howe of the vic
tory of the 27th of August, was to avail himself Fruitless of the impression it had probably made on
congress, by opening a negotiation in conformity with his powers as a commissioner. For this purpose, general Sullivan was sent on parole to Philadelphia, with a verbal message, the import of which, when reduced to writing, was, that though he could not at present treat with congress as a political body; yet he was very desirous of having a conference with some of their members, whom he would consider, for the present, only as private gentlemen, and meet them as such at any place they would appoint.
That he, in conjunction with general Howe, has full powers to compromise the dispute between Great Britain and America, on terms advantageous to both; the obtaining of which, delayed him near two months in England, and prevented his arrival at New York before the declaration of independence took place.
That he wished a compact might be settled at this time, when no decisive blow was struck,
and neither party could allege being compelled CHAP. VII. to enter into such agreement.
1776. That in case congress were disposed to treat, many things which they had not as yet asked, might, and ought to be granted them; and that if, upon the conference, they found any probable groundof an accommodation, the authority of congress must be afterwards acknowledged, otherwise the compact would not be complete.
This proposition of lord Howe was not with. out its embarrassments. To reject it altogether would be to give some countenance to the opinion that, if independence was waved, à restoration of the ancient connexions between the two countries, on principles formerly deemed constitutional, was still practicable ; an opinion believed by congress not to be well founded, but which would have an unfavourable effect on the public sentiment, and which, therefore, it was useful to explode. On the other hand, to enter into a negotiation under such circumstances, might excite à suspicion that their determination to maintain the inde. pendence they had declared, was not immovable, and that things were in such a situation as to admit of some relaxation in the measures necessary for the defence of the country.
The answer given to lord Howe through general Sullivan was “ that congress being the representatives of the free and independent
CHAP. VII. states of America, cannot with propriety send 1776. any of its members to confer with his lordship
in their private characters; but that ever desi. rous of establishing peace on reasonable terms, they will send a committee of their body to know whether he has any authority to treat with persons authorized by congress for that purpose on behalf of America; and what that authority is, and to hear such propositions as he shall think proper to make respecting the same." · The president was, at the same time, directed to give to general Washington the opinion of congress, that no propositions for making peace “ought to be received or attended to, unless the same be made in writing and addressed to the representatives of the United States in congress, or persons authorized by them. And if application be made to him by any of the commanders of the British forces on that subject, that he inform them, that these United States who entered into the war only for the defence of their lives and liberties, will cheerfully agree to peace on reasonable terms whenever such shall be proposed to them in manner aforesaid.”
It is worthy of remark that, in these resolu. tions, congress preserve the appearance of insisting on the independence of the United States, without declaring it to be the indispensable condition of peace.
Mr. Franklin, mr. John Adams, and mr. Edward Rutledge, all zealous advocates for