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presumptuous, but calculated to bur- interest of the country at heart, Conden the country with an enormous gress agreed to allow the army offidebt* - a bogey which haunted the cers half pay for life, reserving to minds of many for long years to come. the government, however, the power Some members thought that the to commute it, if it became necessary lands to be granted to the soldiers, or expedient, to six years' half pay. concerning which we have already Shortly after, this resolution was respoken, ought to be sufficient to sat- considered, and another adopted isfy any moderate man. Gouverneur which allowed officers half pay for Morris, however, undertook to push seven years only, dating from the end the measure through Congress, but of the war.* While these measures he was fought tooth and nail by a were salutary, still they were adopted large number of the delegates, in- too late, and were not sufficiently cluding every delegate from New spontaneous on the part of the memEngland, to their everlasting dis- bers of Congress to create the good credit be it said. The early leaders feeling which would have resulted had done admirable service in excit- had ese measures been considered ing the patriots to make the struggle, and adopted some time previously. but once the struggle began their Already more than 200 officers had function was ended, and thereafter resigned their commissions and the they became more of a hindrance in greater part of the others were fast the operations of the government and becoming lukewarm. army than any good to the service. It would seem as though WashingThe New Englanders were as reso- ton were already laboring under a lute as ever, but the scene of the war sufficiently heavy burden without was transferred to a remote part of being called upon to suffer imputathe country, and, without the spur of tions against his character. As is any immediate necessity, New Eng generally the case with a man in his land moved sluggishly. In their op- position, his appointment had creposition the New England delegates ated jealousy, and his conduct of the were joined by those from South war could not possibly satisfy everyCarolina, while Morris received the one. Up to this time his military exsupport of the delegates from New ploits had been attended with very York, Virginia and the other States, little success.

He had been comand he was ultimately successful.† In pelled to retreat continually before the spring of 1778, yielding to the in- the enemy, but few took into considsistent demands of those who had the eration the fact that this enemy was

more powerful numerically, better * See Elbridge Gerry's letter, in Sparks, Correspondence of the Revolution, vol. ii., pp. 66-68. See Journals of Congress, vol. iv., pp. 228, † Roosevelt, Gouverneur Morris, pp. 79-80. 229, 243, 244, 288.

Vol. III - 6



equipped, better supplied, and in shield his special hero from the charge of partici.

pation in this affair [Conway's Cabal], indig. every way better fitted to drive the

nantly stigmatized, by most writers, as a base half starved Continental army before intrigue. Yet doubts, at that time, as to Washthem. While the latter had com

ington's fitness for the chief command, though they

might evince prejudice or lack of sound judgment, pelled the British to evacuate Boston,

do not necessarily imply either selfish ends or they had lost the battle of Long a malicious disposition. The Washington of that

day was not the Washington as we know him, Island, had been driven out of New

tried and proved by twenty years of the most York, compelled to retreat across disinterested and most successful public serv

ice. Jersey, had lost Philadelphia and the

As yet, he had been in command but little

more than two years, during which he had suffortifications on the Delaware, had

fered, with some slight exceptions, a continued been beaten at Brandywine; and, to

series of losses and defeats. He had recovered offset these latter operations, had

Boston, to be sure, but had lost New York, New.

port and Philadelphia. He had been completely won one decisive victory at Trenton successful at Trenton, and partially so at Princeand the very indecisive action at

ton, but had been beaten, with heavy loss, on Long

Island and at Fort Washington, and lately in two Princeton. On the other hand, Gates, pitched battles on ground of his own choosing, at though undoubtedly much of the Brandywine and Germantown. What a contrast

to the battle of Behmus's Heights, and the caphonor of winning the victory at Sara

ture of Burgoyne's whole army! Want of success, toga belongs to others, had been and sectional and personal prejudices, had created hailed as the victor of Saratoga. For

a party in Congress against Schuyler and against

Sullivan. Could Washington escape the common a time his renown far outshone that

fate of those who lose?” of Washington, because it was the first great victory of the war — a

At this time a systematic attack victory which necessarily greatly

was made upon Washington's repuaffected the subsequent conduct of tation, known as Conway's Cabal, the war and the future prospects of

from the name of the one principally the whole country. Therefore, not

concerned in it, Thomas Conway, only the members of Congress, but though Gates, Mifflin, Samuel Adams, the people throughout the colonies

and other members of Congress were began to make comparisons between equally as guilty for countenancing the hero of Saratoga and the man

any such scheme.t Gates and Mifwho occupied the chief command

flin had never been well disposed over all the army. Jealousies also

toward Washington; Conway was contributed their part to detract angered and disappointed because he from Washington's fame, and

had not been appointed inspectorschemers endeavored by intrigue to

general; while Adams and some of question his integrity to further

the New England members were their own evil designs and selfish

never cordial to Washington from ends, but with little success. Hildreth * Hildreth, History of the United States, vol. says:

iii., p. 233.

† On the opposition of Samuel Adams, see Hos. “Every biographer has been very anxious to mer, Samuel Adams, p. 377 et seq.

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the time of his appointment as com- when the conspirators assumed such mander-in-chief, principally because

a bold attitude that he could not poshe was a Virginian. Now, therefore, sibly overlook it, Washington was when it was possible to make an un

not slow to take the matter into confavorable contrast between the opera

sideration. When Wilkinson was on tions under Gates and Washington, his way to Congress to notify that the discontented persons forming the body of the victory of Saratoga, he Cabal began to assume a more openly divulged a part of a letter written by defiant attitude. They widely dis- Conway to Gates and the statements tributed anonymous letters which in- he made at that time were communisinuated that the continued failure cated to Washington by Lord Stirattendant upon Washington's opera- ling. *

On the 9th of November, tions was due to incapacity and a Washington wrote to Conway as vacillating policy. These missives follows: were filled with insinuations against

"A letter which I received last night contained his character and conduct. While the following paragraph — 'In a letter from Gen

eral Conway to General Gates he says, “ Heaven Washington had for some time been

has determined to save your country, or a weak aware that there was strong opposi- General and bad counsellors would have ruined tion to him, not only in Congress but

it.” ! I am, sir, your humble servant,” etc. elsewhere, still he probably had no This curt note fell upon Conway idea that this opposition would lead with stunning effect and a long corto a malicious circulation of false

respondence ensued which, on Washstatements. As it was not until after

ington's part, was conducted with the victory at Saratoga that these

great dignity. The result of the actions assumed definite shape, whole affair showed what a deep hold Washington, as was his custom, paid he had on the confidence, the love, little attention to them. Trevelyan and the veneration of his country.|| says: " The Commander-in-chief of

One of the anonymous letters written the national armies was well aware

by the conspirators had been sent to that some of the cleverest, and all the

Henry Laurens, at that time Presileast estimable, Congressman were plotting his downfall with adroitness

* Sparks' ed. of Washington's Writings, vol. v., and unscrupulous assiduity. They p. 492; Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. calumniated his motives. They dis

ii., pp. 131-132; Johnson, General Washington,

pp. 187–189. paraged his abilities. They deliber- † Lodge, George Washington, vol. i., p. 215; Irv. ately withheld from him absolute

ing, Life of Washington, vol. iii.,

pp. 321-322.

See Trevelyan, American Revolution, vol. iv., necessaries, while demanding of him

p. 312 et seq.; Irving, Life of Washington, vol. utter impossibilities." *

iii., p. 362 et seq.

|| See also La Fayette's letter, in Tower, Marquis Trevelyan, American Revolution, vol. iv., p. de La Fayette, vol. i., p. 260 et seq. See also 301.

John Adams, Works, vol. i., p. 265.




dent of Congress, and was intended to be read to that body, in the hope that some of the members might be influenced. Another letter was sent to Patrick Henry, governor of Virginia, but these men, being warm personal friends of Washington, sent the letters to him without allowing their contents to become known to others. * The letter to Henry was as follows:



army has




YORKTOWN, 12 January, 1778. “ DEAR SIR,—The common danger of our coun. try first brought you and me together. I recol. lect with pleasure the influence of your conversation and eloquence upon the opinions of this country in the beginning of the present controversy. You first taught us to shake off our idolatrous at. tachment to royalty, and to oppose its encroachments upon our liberties, with our very lives. By these means you saved us from ruin. The independence of America is the offspring of that liberal spirit of thinking and acting, which followed the destruction of the sceptres of kings and the mighty power of Great Britain.

" But, sir, we have only passed the Red Sea. A dreary wilderness is still before us, and unless a Moses of a Joshua are raised up in our behalf, we must perish before we reach the promised land. We have nothing to fear from our ene es on the way. General Howe it is true has taken Philadelphia; but he has only changed his prison. His dominions are bounded on all sides by his out-sentries. America can only be undone by herself. She looks up to her councils and arms for protection; but alas! what are they?. Her representation in Congress dwindled to only twenty-one members; her Adams, her Wilson, her Henry, are no more among them. Her councils weak, and partial remedies applied constantly for universal diseases. Her army, what is it? A major-general belonging to it called it a few days ago in my hearing, a mob. Discipline unknown or wholly neglected. The quarter-master's and commissary's departments filled with idleness, ig.

norance and peculation; our hospitals crowded with six thousand sick, but half provided with necessaries or accommodations, and more dying in them in one month than perished in the field during the whole of the last campaign. The money depreciating without any effectual measures being taken to raise it; the country distracted with the Don Quixote attempts to regulate the price of provisions, an artificial famine created by it, and a real one dreaded from it; the spirit of the people failing through a more intimate acquaintance with the causes of our misfortunes; many submitting daily to General Howe; and more wishing to do it, only to avoid the calamities which threaten our country. But is our case desperate? By no

We have wisdom, virtue and strength enough to save us, if they could be called into action. The north

shown what Americans capable of doing with general at their head. The spirit of the southern army 19 no way inferior to the spirit of the northern. A Gates, a Lee, or a Conway, would in a few weeks render them an irresistible body of men. The last of the above officers has accepted the new office of inspector-general of our army, in order to reform abuses; but the remedy is only a palliative one.

In one of his letters to a friend, he says 'A great and good God hath decreed America to be free, or the [General] and weak counsellors would have ruined her long ago.' You may rest assured of each of the facts related in this letter. The author of it is one of your Philadelphia friends. A hint of his name, if found out by the handwriting, must not be mentioned to your most intimate friend. Even the letter must be thrown in the fire. But some of its contents ought to be made public, in order to awaken, enlighten, and alarm our country. I rely upon your pru. dence, and am, dear Sir, with my usual attachment to you, and to our beloved independence,

'Yours, sincerely,” * “ His Excellency P. Henry.”

Washington replied to Laurens January 31, 1778, as follows:

“I cannot sufficiently express the obligation I feel to you, for your friendship and politeness upon an occasion in which I am so deeply interested. I was not unapprized, that a malignant faction

* In his letter of March 28, 1778, Washington says that the letter was written by Dr. Rush, so far as I can judge from a similitude of hands.”Sparks' ed. of Washington's Writings, vol. v., pp. 495–497, 512–515. See also Tyler, Life of Patrick Henry, pp. 222-223.

* Tyler, Life of Patrick Henry, pp. 215-217. See also Henry's letters enclosing this epistle to Washington, pp. 218–220; Henry, Life of Patrick Henry, vol. i., pp. 544-549.



had been for some time forming to my prejudice; Board of War, of which Gates and which, conscious as I am of having ever done all in my power to answer the important purposes of

Mifflin were members, was not calcuthe trust reposed in me, could not but give me lated to allay Washington's distrust some pain on a personal account. But my chief

as to the sentiments of Congress; concern arises from an apprehension of the dangerous consequences which intestine dissensions for, as we have said before, Washingmay produce to the common cause.

ton knew that both of these officers “As I have no other view than to promote the public good, and am unambitious of honors not

were his enemies, and that if they founded in the approbation of my country, I would possessed supreme power over the not desire in the least degree to suppress a free Continental armies he was likely to spirit of inquiry into any part of my conduct, that even faction itself may deem reprehensible. The

be removed. One of the first steps in anonymous paper handed to you, exhibits many se- their plan thoroughly to disgust rious charges, and it is my wish that it should

Washington was to make preparabe submitted to Congress. This I am the more inclined to, as the suppression or concealment may tions for future operations without possibly involve you in embarrassments hereafter,

consulting the commander-in-chief. since it is uncertain how many, or who, may be privy to the contents.

They proposed also an expedition to "My enemies take an ungenerous advantage of subjugate Canada, probably more to me. They know the delicacy of my situation, and that motives of policy deprive me of the defence

separate Lafayette and Washington I might otherwise make against their insidious at. than for any other purpose, because tacks. They know I cannot combat their insinua

while Lafayette was near the comtions, however, injurious, without disclosing secrets, which it is of the utmost moment to con

mander-in-chief, there was little hope ceal. But why should I expect to be exempt from that any of their bold designs could censure, the unfailing lot of an elevated station ? Merit and talents, with which I can have no pre

be successfully consummated without tensions of rivalship, have ever been subject to it. his knowledge. In order to separate My heart tells me, that it has been my unremitted

the two, therefore, Lafayette was aim to do the best that circumstances would permit; yet I may have been very often mistaken in placed in command of this expedition the judgment of the means, and may in many in

upon rosy promises of large reinstances deserve the imputation of error." *

forcements. After a long and earThus it was evident, not only from

nest consultation with Washington, the operations of the Cabal, but also Lafayette accepted the commission, from the proceedings of Congress but much to his disgust he found the for some time prior to this, that a army in a wretched condition, while large number of the members of that the aid promised by Congress failed body had in some way loaned their

to materialize. The expedition was influence to the disgraceful conspiracy

therefore abandoned and after seyagainst Washington's name. Further- eral months of comparative idleness, more, the appointment of a new Lafayette returned to headquarters

at Valley Forge in April, 1778.* The * Sparks, Life of Washington, p. 233. See also Washington's reply to Patrick Henry, who also * For details, see Tower, Marquis de La Fayette, sent him a copy of this letter. Henry, Life of vol. i., pp. 271-291. See also Lossing, FieldPatrick Henry, vol. i., pp. 549–551.

Book of the Revolution, vol. ii., p. 133 et seq.;

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