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· PARLIAMENT PASSES CONCILIATORY MEASURES.
tacked Lord North and the ministry,* proved their acts. The commissioners who endeavored to shift the blame were empowered to proclaim a cessafrom themselves to the shoulders of tion of hostilities and to suspend the the commanders in America. It was operation of the Non-Intercourse Act; asserted that the ministry had taken during the continuance of the act to every step to insure success, and suspend all or any parts of the acts deprecated condemnation of the posi- of Parliament passed since February tion without full inquiry. Before any. 10, 1763, relating to the colonies; to thing could be done in this matter, grant pardons; and to appoint a govhowever, Parliament adjourned to ernor in any colony wherein the king January 20, 1778.7
had heretofore exercised the power of At this time the British ministry making such appointments. This act was anxious to terminate the conflict was to remain in force until June 1, with America before hostilities should 1779.* The bills were passed and on commence with France. Conse- March 11 received the royal signaquently, on February 17, 1778, two ture.f bills were introduced in Commons. When news of the introduction of The first declared that Parliament Lord North's conciliatory bill reached would impose no duty or tax what- France, the French government realever, payable within any of the Ameri- ized that the time had come when they can colonies, with the exception of must act with some decision. ACsuch duties as might be imposed for cordingly, on December 17, Conrad commercial purposes, but the net Alexander Gérard notified the Ameriproduce of which should always be can commissioners “ that after a paid and applied to and for the use of long and mature deliberation upon the colonies in which such duties were their propositions, his majesty had levied. The second authorized the Trovelvan American Revolution, vol appointment by the crown of commis- 356–357; Bancroft, vol. v., pp. 247-248; Fiske, sioners to treat with the colonies or
American Revolution, vol. ii., p. 7 et seq.; Reed,
Life of Joseph Reed, vol. i., pp. 371–399. with individuals in the colonies with
† Writing to the President of Congress, July 27, the object of settling the differences, 1778, John Adams says: “ The King of Great
Britain and his council have determined to send the stipulation being made, however,
instructions to their commissioners in America to that nothing they should do would be offer us independency, provided we make peace binding until Parliament had ap
with them, separate from France. This appears to me to be the last effort to seduce, deceive, and
divide. They know that every man of honor in * See the quotations from Chatham's speech in America must receive this proposition with indigLossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. i., p. nation. But they think they can get the men of 84. See also the excerpt from the Journal of no honor to join them by such a proposal, and Austin in Hale, Franklin in France, vol. i., p. 163 they think the men of honor are not a majority. et seq.
What has America done to give occasion to that † Pitkin, vol. i., p. 397; Annual Register, 1778, King and council to think so unworthily of her.” p. 74.
- John Adams, Works, vol. vii., p. 21.
TREATIES WITH FRANCE; CONCILIATORY BILLS IN AMERICA.
determined to recognize the independ treaty to London, the notice closing ence of, and to enter into a treaty with the following paragraphs: of commerce and alliance with, the “In making this communication to the Court of United States of America; and that
London, the king is firmly persuaded, that it will
find in it fresh proofs of his majesty's constant he would not only acknowledge their
and sincere dispositions for peace; and that his independence, but actually support it Britannic majesty, animated by the same senti.
ments, will equally avoid every thing that may with all the means in his power, that
interrupt good harmony; and that he will take, in perhaps he was about to engage him particular, effectual measures to hinder the comself in an expensive war upon this
merce of his majesty's subjects with the United
States of America from being disturbed, and cause account, but that he did not expect to
to be observed, in this respect, the usages received be reimbursed by them; in fine, the between trading nations and the rules that may be
considered as subsisting between the crowns of Americans were not to think that he
France and Great Britain. had entered into this resolution solely “In this just confidence, the underwritten am. with a view of serving them, since, in
bassador might think it superfluous to apprize the
British ministry, that the king, his master, being dependently of his real attachment to determined effectually to protect the lawful free. them and their cause, it was evidently dom of the commerce of his subjects, and to sus
tain the honor of his flag, his majesty has taken the interest of France to diminish the
in consequence eventual measures, in concert with power of England by severing her the United States of North America.” colonies from her.”* Therefore, on Meanwhile copies of Lord North's February 6, 1778, Franklin, Deane,
conciliatory bills had been sent to and Lee on behalf of the United
America, where they arrived about the States, and Gérard for France, signed
middle of April, 1778. Governor a treaty of commerce and a treaty of
Tryon caused them to be printed and defensive alliance in case war should sent copies to Washington, requesting be the consequence of this commercial in the letter that he aid in circulating connection. The direct end of this them, “ that the people at large might alliance was“ to maintain the liberty, be acquainted with the favorable dissovereignty, and independence, abso- position of Great Britain toward the lute and unlimited, of the United American colonies »*
American colonies."* Washington
W States, as well in matters of govern- forwarded the papers to Congress. ment as of commerce.” The French Had the British been disposed to government then sent notice of this offer the same terms prior to the out
break of hostilities, it is probable that * See Franklin's report to Congress, in Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence, vol. ii., p. 452; also Struggle for American Independence, vol. ii., p. Tower, Marquis de La Fayette, vol. i., pp. 313-315; 115 et seq.; Parton, Life of Franklin, vol. ii., p. Parton, Life of Franklin, vol. ii., p. 288 et seq. 293 et seq.; Trevelyan, American Revolution, vol.
† See Treaties and Conventions of the United iv., p. 472 et seq.; Morse, Life of Franklin, pp. States, pp. 296–310; Snow, Treaties and Topics in 267–276; Hale, Franklin in France, vol. i., p. 175 American Diplomacy, pp. 26–35. See also the et seq. letter from Franklin and Deane in Wharton, Dip. * Trevelyan, American Revolution, vol. iv., pp. lomatic. Correspondnce, vol. ii., p. 490.
360–361; Irving, Life of Washington, vol. iii., p. See Bancroft, vol. v., pp. 244–246; Fisher, 422.
CONCILIATION REJECTED; JOY OVER FRENCH TREATY.
great satisfaction would have re- ington issued orders that the whole sulted, but at the present juncture the army in camp at Valley Forge should condition of affairs was very differ participate in the general joy and ent. The colonies had declared them satisfaction; and a celebration in selves to be independent and were now honor of the event concluded with an determined to fight for their independ- entertainment, music, toasts, etc.f In ence. Washington himself urged a few days Congress prepared an that nothing less than independence - Address to the Inhabitants of the would be satisfactory, and no terms United States "recommending that it short of this would be considered — be read in churches of all denomina“ a peace on other terms, if I may be tions. We quote a paragraph or two allowed the expression, would be a from the address: peace of war. peace of war." * The majority of the
The majority of the “The haughty prince who spurned us from his members of Congress held the same feet with contumely and disdain, and the Parliaview, and on April 22 it was unani
ment which proscribed us, now descend to offer
terms of accommodation. Whilst in the full career mously resolved that the offers of the
of victory, they pulled off the mask, and avowed British ministry be rejected. At the their intended despotism. But having lavished
in vain the blood and treasure of their subjects in same time bills regarding the proceed
pursuit of this execrable purpose, they now enings in connection with the rejection deavor to ensnare us with the insidious offers of of these offers were ordered to be
a reconciliation. They intend to lull you with
fallacious hopes of peace, until they can assemble printed and widely circulated. This
new armies to prosecute their nefarious designs. action had been taken ten days before If this is not the case, why do they strain every
nerve to levy men throughout their islands ? why news arrived that a treaty had been
do they meanly court every little tyrant of Europe concluded between France and the to sell them his unhappy slaves ? why do they conUnited States.
tinue to imbitter the minds of the savages against
you? Surely this is not the way to conciliate the When the conclusion of the treaty
affections of America. Be not, therefore, deceived. became known, May 2, there was You have still to expect one severe conflict. Your
foreign alliances, though they secure your inde. great rejoicing throughout the land. I
pendence, cannot secure your country from desolaThe treaties were immediately rati tion, your habitations from plunder, your wives fied by Congress, and on May 6 Wash- from insult or violation, nor your children from
glory in a particular manner, belongs to the Count * Sparks, Life of Washington, p. 265; Irving, de Vergennes, who, as his Most Christian Maj. p. 422.
esty's minister of foreign affairs, conducted the † See Washington's ironical letter forwarding conferences which terminated in these treaties." copies of these bills to Tryon, in Irving, Life of — Ramsay, History of the American Revolution, Washington, vol. iii., pp. 423-424.
p. 379. “In national events, the public attention is * Sparks' ed. of Washington's Writings, vol. v., generally fixed on the movements of armies and p. 355. fleets. Mankind never fail to do homage to the † Thacher, Military Journal, p. 124 et seq.; able general and expert admiral. To this they are Tower, Marquis de Lafayette, vol. i., p. 318 et justly entitled; but as great a tribute is due to seq.; Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. the statesman, who, from a more elevated station, ii., p. 140; Kapp, Life of Kalb, p. 157 et seq. and determines on measures in which the general Life of Steuben, p. 139 et seq.; Parton, Life of safety and welfare of empires are involved. This Franklin, vol. ii., pp. 317-319.
BRITISH PEACE COMMISSIONERS ARRIVE.
butchery. Foiled in their principal design, you must expect to feel the rage of disappointed ambition. Arise then! to your tents! and gird you for battle! It is time to turn the headlong current of vengeance upon the head of the destroyer. They have filled up the measure of their abominations, and like ripe fruit, must soon drop from the tree. Although much is done, yet much remains to do. Expect not peace, whilst any corner of America is in possession of your foes. You must drive them away from this land of promise, a land flowing indeed with milk and honey. Your brethren at the extremities of the continent, already implore your friendship and protection. It is your duty to grant their request. They hunger and thirst after liberty. Be it yours, to dispense to them the heavenly gift. And what is there now to prevent it?"
Early in June Frederick Howard, the Earl of Carlisle, George Johnstone and William Eden, afterward Lord Aukland, the British commissioners, arrived in Philadelphia.* For the secretary of the commissioners, Dr. Adam Ferguson, Sir Henry Clinton, who had now succeeded Howe as commander-in-chief, requested a passport to go to Yorktown so that he might lay certain papers before Congress. Washington thought that this matter was not within his province and declined until he should receive advices from Congress, who sustained him in refusing the passport.t Thereupon the commissioners sent the papers, addressed to the president of Congress,
through the ordinary medium of a was 01 flag of truce.* ruce. In their letter, the
In their letter, the commissioners offered to discontinue hostilities immediately, to agree that no military force should be maintained in the colonies, unless by the consent of Congress, and also that the right of taxation of tea would be relinquished and representation of the colonies in Parliament be provided. They promised also to pay off at the earliest possible date such paper money as had been issued and was then in circulation. Although the commissioners offered every inducement, the terms fell short of giving independence, and consequently, having so long sustained the struggle alone, the colonists were not likely to submit now that the support of France was assured.t Congress, therefore, directed the president of that body to write the British commissioners, which he did as follows:
“I have received the letter from your Excel. lencies, dated the 9th instant, with the enclosures, and laid them before Congress. Nothing but an earnest desire to spare the further effusion of human blood could have induced them to read a paper containing expressions so disrespectful to his Most Christian Majesty, the good and great ally of these States, or to consider propositions so
* Mahon, History of England, vol. vi., p. 246 (ed. of 1853). For their instructions see Reed, Life of Joseph Reed, vol. i., pp. 430–436. * † See Laurens' letter to Johnstone in Sparks, Correspondence of the Revolution, vol. ii., pp. 136, 137; Irving, Life of Washington, vol. iii., pp. 437– 438; Trevelyan, American Revolution, vol. iv., p. 365; Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. ii., pp. 143-144.
* Acting under a strong impulse, Lafayette sent a challenge to the Earl of Carlisle, who, as he thought, had impeached the honor of France in the communications made by the commissioners to Congress. The Earl declined a resort to this bar. barous mode of settling the points in dispute. See Lafayette's and D’Estaing's letters to Washington asking his advice as to Lafayette's course regarding this. Sparks, Correspondence of the Revolution, vol. ii., pp. 209-210, 213-214, 224-226; also Tower, Marquis de La Fayette, vol. ii., p. 31 et seq.
† See Ramsey, American Revolution, vol. i., pp. 395-400.
FAILURE OF THE PEACE MISSION.
derogatory to the honor of an independent nation. The acts of the British Parliament, the commission from your sovereign, and your letter, suppose the people of these States to be the subjects of the crown of Great Britain, and are founded on the idea of dependence, which is utterly inadinis. sible. I am further directed to inform your Excellencies, that Congress are inclined to peace, not. withstanding the unjust claims from which this war originated, and the savage manner in which it hath been conducted. They will therefore be ready to enter upon the consideration of a treaty of peace and commerce, not inconsistent with treaties already subsisting, when the king of Great Britain shall demonstrate a sincere disposition for that purpose. The only solid proof of this dis. position will be an explicit acknowledgment of these States, or the withdrawing of his fleet and armies." *
of Congress. In an interview with Mrs. Ferguson at Philadelphia, whose husband [Hugh Ferguson] was a royalist, he desired she should mention to Mr. Reed, that if he would engage his interest to promote the object of their commission, he might have any office in the colonies, in the gift of his Britannic majesty, and ten thousand pounds in hand. Having solicited an interview with Mr. Reed, Mrs. Ferguson made her communication. Spurning the idea of being purchased, he replied, ' that he was not worth purchasing, but such as he was the king of Great Britain was not rich the king of Great Br enough to do it
No overtures, however, were made to the commissioners from any quarter, and though they made many and various attempts to accomplish the object of their mission, they were finally compelled to return to England baffled and disappointed.t
On October 3 the commissioners published a final manifesto to the American people, to which on the 10th Congress replied by a cautionary declaration. Thacher in his Military Journal (p. 139) says that “Governor Johnstone, one of the commissioners, with inexcusable effrontery, offered a bribe to Mr. Reed, a member
* Journals of Congress, vol. ii., pp. 345, 521–524, 588–592; Ramsey, American Revolution, vol. i., p. 402; Fisher, Struggle for American Independence, vol. ii., pp. 165–168. Patrick Henry in a letter to Richard Henry Lee on June 18 says: “Surely Congress will never recede from our French friends. Salvation to America depends upon holding fast our attachment to them. I shall date our ruin from the moment that it is exchanged for any thing Great Britain can say or do. She can never be cordial with us. Baffled, defeated, disgraced by her colonies, she will ever meditate revenge. We can find no safety but in her ruin, or, at least, in her extreme humiliation; which has not happened and cannot happen, until she is deluged with blood, or thoroughly purged by a revolution, which shall wipe from existence the present king with his connections, and the present system with those who aid and abet it."— Tyler, Life of Patrick Henry, p. 227; Lee, Life of Richard Henry Lee, vol. i., pp. 195–196; Henry, Life of Patrick Henry, vol. i., p. 565.
* See Reed, Life of Joseph Reed, vol. i., p. 384 et seq.; Mrs. Ellett, Women of the Revolution, vol. i., p. 196; Lossing, Field-Book of the Revolution, vol. ii., pp. 144-145.
† Fisher, Struggle for American Independence, vol. ii., pp. 170 et seq.. Lord Carlisle, in writing to a friend, said: “I enclose you our manifesto which you will never read. 'Tis sort of a dying speech of the commission: an effort from which I expect little success. * * * Everything is upon a great scale upon this continent. The rivers are immense; the climate violent in heat and cold; the prospects magnificent; the thunder and lightning tremendous. The disorders incident to the country make every constitution tremble. We have nothing on a great scale with us but our blunders, our misconduct, our losses, our disgraces and misfortunes, that will mark the reign of a prince, who deserves better treatment and kinder fortunes.”—- Irving, Life of Washington, vol. iii., pp. 440-441.