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In the meantime the most effectual measures wete adopted by general Washington forsurrourdingthe British army under lord Cornwallis. A large body of French troops were under the command of lieutenant-general the countde Roetiarubeau, with a large train of artillery. The American forces were in number one thousand three hundredt eight hundred of whom were continental troops ; tit whole under the command of general Washington.
On the twenty-ninth of September, 1781, York Town, in Virginia, was complcitly invested, and the British army quite blocked up. The day foltowinlT, Sir Henry Clinton wrote a letter to lord Cornwallis, containing assurances that he would do every thing that was in his power to relieve him, and some further information respecting the manner in which he intended to accomplish that relief. A duplicate of this letter was sent to lord Cornwallis by major Cochran: that gentleman went in a vessel to the Capes, and made his way through the whole French fleet, in an open boat. He got to York Town on the tenth of October, and the next day had his head taken off by a cannon ball, as he was walking by the side of lord Cornwallis. The fate of this gallant officer drew tears from the eyes of his lordship.
After the return of admiral Greaves to New York, * council of war was held, in which it was resolved, that a large body of troops should be embarked, and that exertions of both fleet and army should be made, in order to form a junction with lord Cornwallis.
Sir Henry Clinton, himself, with seven thousand troops, went onboard the fleet, on the eighteenth. They came abreast of Cape Charles, at the entrance of the Chesapeake, on the -twenty-fourth, where they received intelligence that lord Cornwallis had been obliged to capitulate five days before. It was on the nineteenth that his lordship surrendered himself and his whole army, by capitulation, prisoners to the combined armies of America ar il France. He made a defence worthy of his former fame for military achievements, but was compelled to submit by imperious necessity, and superior numbers. The British prisoners amounted to upwards of six thousand, but mary •f them, at the time of surrender, were incapable of dirty
The prisoners, cannon, and military stores, fell to the Americans, except the seamen, who, with the shipping-, found they were, by the articles of capitulation, to be de» hvered up to the French.
After this event-the subjugation of the colonies was virtually given up. Some inconsiderable skirmishes took place between the Refugees and the Americans, afterwards; but were not of that importance as to merit a place in history.
On the fifth of May, 1782, Sir Guy Carleton arrived at New York, being appointed to the command of the British troops.in North America: soon after his arrival he wrote a letter to general Washington, informing him that admiral Digby, with himself, were appointed commissioners to treat for peace with the people of America. Another letter was sent, dated the second of August, and signed by Sir Guy Carleton and admiral Digby, in which they informed general Washington, that negociations for a general peace had commenced at Paris. Notwithstanding these favourable appearances, the Americans were jealous, that it was-the" design of the British court to disunite them, or induce them to treat of a peace separately from their ally the king of France.
Congress, therefore, passed a resolution: that any Zrb.% cr body of men, who should presume to make any separate treaty, partial convention, or agreement, with the king of Great Britain, or with any commissioner, or commissioners, under the crown of Great Britain, ought to be treated as open and avowed enemies of the United States of America, and that those States could not with propriety hold any conference or treaty with any commissioners on the part of Great Britain, unless they should, as a preliminary thereto, either withdraw their fleets and armies, or in express terms acknowledge the independence of the said States. On the thirtieth of November, 1782, the provisional articles of peace and reconciliation between Great Britain and the American States were signed at Paris; by which Great Britain acknowledged the Independence and sovereignty of the United States ol America. These articles were ratified by a definitive treaty, September the third 1783. John Adams, John Jay, and Benjamin Franklin, Esqrs. were the gentlemen appointed by Congress to negociate this peace, on the part of America i and two gentlemen Oswald and Hartley on the part of the British. It ought to be remarked here, aiid known to every American citizen, that France repeatedly declared that her only view in assisting the Americans, was to dimmish the power of Great Britain, and thereby promolt her own interest; that she officiously interfered in the proposed treaty between Spain and America by her endeavours to circumscribe the latter within very narrow limits, proposing to deprive the Americans of the right ofmavigauon 911 the Mississippi, See. ,
Thus ended along and unnatural contest, in which Great Britain expended many millions of pounds sterling, lost thousands of her bravest subjects, and won nothing. America obtained her Independence, at the expense of many thousands of lives, and much treasure; and has suffered exceedingly in the religious and moral character of her citizens.
The great influx of foreigners which poured into America from all quarters, disseminated their pernicious principles amongst the people. Infidelity spread like the plague, through the'diffurent states, and threatens the subversion of those sober manners, and that love of order, which the christian religion inculcates.
The eighteenth of October 1783, Congress issued. 1 proclamation, in which the armies of the United States were applauded "for having displayed through the progress of an arduous, and difficult war, every military and patriotic virtue, and for which the thanks of their country were given them." They also declared that such part of their armies as stood engaged to serve during the war, should from and after the third day of November, he discharged from the said service. The day preceding their dismission general Washington issued his farewell orders. The evacuation of New York took pl^ce aboutthrec weeks after the American army was discharged. For a twelvemonth preceding, there had been an unrestrained-communication between that city, though a Briush garrisoit, and the adjacent country; the bitterness of war had passed away, and civilities were freely exchanged between those who lately were engaged in deadly contests, aud sought for all opportunities to destroy each other. As soon as the royal army was withdrawn, general Washington and governor Clinton, with their-suites, made a public entry into New York: ageneral joy was mani-< Jested by the citizens on their return to their habitations, and in the evening there was a display of tire-works : they exceeded every thing of the kind which had been seen in America. General Washington soon after took leave of his officers, they having been previously assembled forthat purpose. Calling for a glass of wine he thus addressed them, "with a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave of you, I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be as prosperous and happy, as your former ones have been glorious and honourable."
He afterwards took an affectionate leave of each of them: when this affecting scene was over, Washington left the room, and passed through the corps of light infantry, tfr the place of embarkation; as he entered the barge, to cross the North river, he turned to his companions in. glory, and waved his hat, and took a silent adieu. The officers who had followed him in mute procession, answered this last signal with tear3, and hung upon the barge which conveyed him from their sight, till they could no longer distinguish their beloved commander in chief. The general proceeded to Annapolis, the seat of congress, to, resign his commission. On his way thither, he delivered to the comptroller in Philadelphia, an account of the expenditure of all the public money he had ever received. This was in his own hand-writing ;.and every entry made in a very exact manner. The whole sum which passed through his hands during the war amounted only to four-;een thousand, four, hundred and seventy-nine pounds iighteen shillings and nine pence, sterling ; no sum charged or retained fori personal. services.
The day on which he resigned his commission, a great number of distinguished personages attended the interesting scene, on the twenty-third of December, 1783 : h* ixldressed the president, Thomas Mifflin, as follows:
"Mr. President; •
The great events on which my resignation depended* a.vivig at length taken place, I have now the honour of offering my sincere congratulations to Congress, and oCpresenting myself before them to surrender fnfo trieli hands, the trust committed to me, and to claim the indulgence of retiring from the service of my country.
Happy in the confirmation of our independence andsc 'Yercigr.ty, and pleased with the opportunity afforded the United States of becoming a respectable nation, I resign with satisfaction the appointment I accepted with diffidence; a diffidence in my abilities to accomplish so arduous a ts,k, which, however, was superseded by a confidence in the rectitude of our cause, the support of the supreme power of the Union, and the patronage of Heaven;.
The successful termination of the war has verified the most sanguine expectations, and my gratitude for the interposition of providence, and the assistance I have received from my countrymen, increases with every review of the momentous contest.
While I repeat my obligations to the.army in general, I should do injustice to my own feelings not to acknowledge, in this place, the peculiar services, and distinguished merits of the persons who have been attached to my person during the war: it was.impossible the choice of confidential officers to compose my family should have been more fortunate: permit me, Sir, to recommend in particular those who have continued in the service to the present moment, as worthy of the favourable notice and patronage of Congress,
I consider it as an indispensable duty to close this last solemn act of my official life, by commending the interest of our dearest country to the protection of Almighty God, and those who have the superintendance of them, to his holy keeping.
Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of action; and bidding an affectionate farewell to this august body, under whese order! I have long acted, I here offer my commission, and taka my'leave of all the employments of public life."
To which the president made a suitable reply. TU mingled emotions that agitated the minds of the specu tors during this interesting and solemn scenej .were be yond description.