Page images

America and his caiholic majesty. Mr. Arthur Lee, Mr. John Adams, and Mr. Jay, were nominated. On the Monday the ballots were taken, and Mr. Jay was elected. Then followed the* choice by ballot of a minister plenipotentiary for negociating a treaty of peace and a treaty of commerce with Great Eritain, when Mr. John Adams was elected. This election was no ground of joy to Mr. Gerard. His wishes and interest were in favor of Mr. Jay's being appointed to negociate with Great Britain ; while the latter was wrongfully suspected by the New England delegates, as being in no wise strenuously disposed to secure tlie fisheries. These delegates were fixed upon having Mr. JAdams intrusted with that business, as they could confide in his steady deteimination never to lose sight of it„whatever might be the pieas and pretences of politicians. They could acquiesce in. Mr. Jay's election to negociate with the court of Madrid, as it paved the way for the carrying of their main point. Two days after Mr. William Carmichaei was elected secretary to Mr. Jay j-, Mr. Francis Dana to Mr. Adams; and lieut. col. Laurence to Dr. Franklin Mr. Jay's letter of credence was signed at Philadelphia the 15th of October, when congress "resolved, That the lo lewing additional instructions be given to the minister plcni-. potentiary for negociating with his catholic majesty—" Sir—Yoit are to use your utmost endeavours for obtaining permission for ther' citizens and inhabitants of these states, to lade and take onboard their vessels, salt at the island of Salt Tortuga; and also to cut, load, and bring away logwood and mahogany in and from the Bjv of Honduras and its rivers, and to build on the shores, stores, Louses and magazines for the wood cutters and their families, in the extent ceded to his Britannic majesty by the nth article of the definitive treaty concluded at Paris, the 10th of February, 1763, or in as great extent as can be obtained." Before the month was out, Mr. Jay sailed for Europe in company with Mr. Gerard. October the '21st, the honorable Henry Laurens, esq. was elected by ballot to negociate a loan in Holland: on the first: of the next month he was chosen to negociate a treaty of amity and commerce with the united provinces of the low countries.

September the 1st, Congress resolved, that they would, on no account, emit more bills of crcdid than to make the whole amount of them two hundred millions of dollars.

September 13th, they addressed a long letter to their constituents upon their finances. By that it appears, that the taxes-had brougnt into the treasury no more than 3,027,560 dollars, andthat ail the monies supplied by the people of America, amountedto ao more than 36, <61,665 dollars and 67-20Chs, that being thft.


Sum of the loans and taxes then received. It holds up to the imagination, the ability of die United States to pay their whole national debt, though at the close of the war it should amount to three hundred millions of dollars, with ease in the course of twenty years ; and while doing it, by inverse, romantic reasoning-, represents the paper currency as a blessing at the expence of scripture language—" Let it also be remembered, that paper money is the only kind of money which cannot make unto itself wings atidjiy a-joay: it remains with us, it will not forsake us, it is-always ready and at hand for the purpose of commerce-and ta.xes, and every industrious man can rind it." The letter proceeds to show, that the people, not only collectively by their representatives, but individually, have pledged their faith for the redemption of their bills, and that they possess;a political capacity of doing it. Then comes a question, " Whether there is any reason to apprehend a wanton vioiatiofrof the public faith ,J" Congress say upon it—rM It is with great regret and reluctance that we can prevail upon ourselves to take the least notice of a question, which involves in it a doubt so injurious- to the honor and dignity of America. We should, pay an- ill compliment to theunderstanding and honor of every true American, were we to adduce many arguments to show the baseness or bad policy of violating our national faith, or omitting-to pursue the measures necessar y to preserve it. A bankruptiaithless republic would be a novelty in the political world, and appear among reputable nations, like a common prostitute among chaste, and respectable matrons. We are convinced, that the arts and efforts of our enemies will not be wanting to draw us into this humiliating and contemptible situation, impelled by malice, and the suggestions, of chagrin and disappointment* at not being able to bend our necks to their yoke, they will endeavour to force or seduce us to- • commit this unpardonable sin, in order to subject us to the punishment due to it, and that we may thenceforth be a reproach and a by-word among the nations. Apprized of these consequences, knowing the value of national character, and impressed with a due sense of the immutable laws of justice and honor, it is impossible that America should think without horror of such an execrable deed. Determine to finish the contest as you began it,' honestly and gloriously. Let it never he-said, that America had no sooner become independent than she became insolvent; or that her infant glories and growing fame were ohscured and tarnished by broken contracts and violated faith, in the very hour when all the nations of the earth were admiring, and almost adoring; the splendor of her rising." This letter and the resolve * preceding

preceding' it, were probably occasioned by the prevailing subjects of conversation in Philadelphia, and the movements of the leading people. A town meeting was called, and a special committee appointed to draw up a memorial, which was signed by the president and council in their private characters, the speaker* and several members of assembly,, the general committee of the city, and a respectable number of citizens. It was presented to> congress on or nea? the day when they addressed their constituents, and was meant to-stop the further emissions of continent tal bills. The memorialists say—" Neither can we help expressing our apprehensions, that the Case with which money was thus* procured, hasinduced a remissness of inquiries intothe reality oS its application: all which we hope will, in future, be remedied; by a systematical plan of ceconom.y, and a regular information of expences." ■. ■■'

■ September 17, Congress ** resolved, That in consideration of the distinguished merit of lieut. col. Talbot, a commission »£ captain in the navy of the United States be given him." They* [September 24.] "resolved, That a medal of gold, emblematical of the attack of the fort and works at Powie's-hook, be strucfo and presented to major Lee. Four days after, upon Mr. Jay's signifying to them his acceptance of the office to which he had been appointed on Ihe 26th, and thereupon resigned the chairy they elected Samuel Huntington, esq. president. Such was the deficiency of flour in Virginia, that congress [Oct. 18.] resolved,, that the governor should be informed of its being their opinion, that the convention troops should be supplied with meal made of Indian corn. But he was requested to inform the commanding! officer of those troops, that if the commander in chief of the British forces, will order supplies of flour to be sent to Virginia, passports will be ordered for the purpose when applied for. The chevalier de la Luzerne [Nov. 17.] had his audience of congressv delivered a letter from his most christian majesty, was announced to the house, and upon that rose and addressed the congress in a speech, to which the president returned an answer.

Let us change the scene.

While count d'Estaing lay with his fleet at Cape Francois, after the conquest of Grenada, he received letters from gov. Rutledge, gen. Lincoln, the French consulatCharlestown and others, urging him to visit the American coast, and proposing an attack;, upon Savannah. The general engaged him to join with 10QCI men certain, and promised that every exertion should be made t» augment the number. The application coinciding with the king's instructions, to act in concert with the forces of the United States « whenever

whenever an occasion presented itself, he sailed for the American continent within a few days after it was received. Whea through the windward passage, he dispatched two ships of the line and three frigates to Charlestown to announce his coming. On the 1st of September he arrived with afketof 20 sail of the line, two of fifty guns, and eleven frigates.

The appearance of the French fleet on the coasts of South Carolina and Georgia was so unexpected by the British, that the Experiment man of war of SO guns, Sir James Wallace cammander, and three frigates were captured. No sooner was it known ai. Charlestown that the count was on thecoast,than Lincoln marched with all expedition for Savannah with the troops under his command; orders were also given for the South Carolina and Georgia militia to rendezvous immediately near the same place. The British were equally diligent in preparing for their defence. Lieut, col. Cruger, who had a small command at Suubury, and Jieut. col. Maitland,who was in force at Beaufort, were ordered to Savannah. As the French frigates approached the bar, the Fowey and Rose, of 20 guns each, the Keppel and Germain armed vessels, retired toward the town. The battery on Tybee w^sdestroyed. To prevent the French frigates getting too nearr the Rose and Savannah armed ships, with four transports, were sunk, in the channel. A boom was laid across it,, and several small Vessels were also sunk above the town. The seamen were appointed to different batteries. The marines were incorporated, with the grenadiers of the 1.6th regiment; and great numbers were employed, both by day and night, in strengthening and extending the lines of defence. Count d'Estaing made repeated declarations, that he could not remain more than. ten. or fifteen, days on shose ; nevertheless,.the fall of Savannah was considered as infallibly certain.. Every aid was given-from Charlestown, by sending small vessels to assist the French ia their landing; but aj» the large ships of the fleet could not come near the shore, it was not effected till the I2ih.

General Lincoln's troops were not far distant; but before they could join the French,, the count [Sept. 16.] summoned general Prevost to surrender to the arms of the king of Fiance. Lincoln remonstrated to d'Estaign on his summoning Prevost to surrender to the arms of France only, while the Americans were acting in conjunction with him ; the matter was Soon settled, and the mode of all future negociations amicably adjusted. Prev■wast returned a polite letter to the count, but declined surrendering on a general summons without any specific terms; and mentioned* that if such were proposed as he could with lionet »• - accept,,

« PreviousContinue »