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Americans insisted that it should be preserved to them, with the clause that if they were disquieted by England in its exercise, France should consider it as case of alliance. They further enjoined their plenipotentiaries to use all possible exertions to obtain from England the cession of Canada and Nova Scotia, in favor of the United States, observing, however, that the rejection of this proposition should not be an obstacle to the reestablishment of peace. The idea of this last demand had been suggested by the deputies of Massachusetts and other provinces of New England. The plenipotentiaries were authorised to agree to a suspension of arms during the continuance of the negotiations, with the reservation, however, that the ally of the United States should likewise consent to it, and that the troops of the enemy should entirely evacuate their territory. Such was the substance of the instructions given to the American plenipotentiaries; as to the rest, they were to be guided by their own wisdom, the laws of the confederation, and the counsels of the court of France.
The war being already actually commenced between Spain and England, the chevalier de la Luzerne, who succeeded M. Gerard at Pbiladelphia, could no longer urge with the Congress, the advantages and necessity of the cooperation of the Spanish force, as a motive for their yielding the above mentioned concessions, But he did not omit to place in the strongest light all the benefits which would result to the United States from connecting themselves with the court of Madrid by treaties of commerce and alliance, which should regulate their common and respective interests, whether present or future.
• It is evident,' he said, 'that Spain will display more vigorous efforts against England, when she knows the advantage that is to accrue to herself from a war undertaken chiefly for the utility and interests of the United States. On the other hand, it is no less manifest, how extremely it interests the honor and consolidation of the republic to have its independence formally acknowledged by so great and powerful a monarch as his catholic majesty, and to be united to him by treaties of amity and alliance. An alliance,' he added, than which nothing could more gratify his most christian majesty, who, united to the king of Spain by the most sacred ties, and to America by the bonds of the tenderest friendship, could not but desire with ardor to see the most complete and durable harmony established between them. The French minister expatiated largely upon this subject, adding still other arguments drawn from public law.
All his efforts were vain. The Congress saw too clearly that if Spain took part in the war, it was neither out of regard for, ihe intel'ests, nor for the independence of America, which in the present state of things was no longer a matter of doubt, but for her own sake, and particularly to reduce the maritime power of England. Accordingly, they showed themselves little disposed to make new sacrifices. Wishing, however, to testify their desire to form alliance with the
king of Spain, they appointed John Jay their minister plenipotentiary to the court of Madrid. His instructions were to endeavor to dispose that court to be satisfied with a mere treaty of amnity and commerce with the United States. He was, moreover, directed to declare, that if his catholic majesty entered into the league against Great Britain, the United States would consent that he should secure for himself the possession of the Floridas; and even, if England gave her consent to it in the treaty of peace, the United States would guaranty him this new acquisition with the condition that they should continue to enjoy the navigation of the Mississippi to the sea. As to the territory situated on the eastern bank of the river, they declared that it could not be renounced. The minister of Congress was likewise to solicit the king of France, as the chief of the alliance, to employ bis mediation in order to accelerate the conclusion of the treaties with Spain. He was charged with some other deinands at the court of Madrid. But piqued at the refusal of Congress to consent to the stipulations which she had most at heart, Spain not only demonstrated on her part a disposition equally unyielding, but after having declared war against Great Britain, she would neither acknowledge the independence of the United States, nor receive nor send ambassadors. At the same time in which Jay was appointed plenipotentiary to the court of Madrid, John Adams was elected minister plenipotentiary to negotiate a treaty of peace and commerce with England.
Such was, then, the situation of affairs in America. In Europe they took the direction which had been foreseen by all prudent men, and which was desired even by those who pretended a wish to attain an opposite object. Spain had completed her maritime armaments; she was arrived at the point where she had purposed to throw off the mask, She wanted to take an open part in the war; and, joining her forces with those of France, to aim such rapid blows at the excessive naval power of England, as should transfer to the Bourbons the sceptre of the sea. She would sain have a plausible pretext to justify her conduct. She accordingly resolved to renew ber offers of mediation at the court of London, and to urge the British government in such a manner, that it should at length be constrained to declare itself the first. The marquis d' Alinodovar, the Spanish minister at London, made, in the month of June, the most pressing instances to the British ministry, in order to extort a definitive answer. The moment seemed the better chosen, as it was already known that the count d' Orvilliers had sailed from Brest with the whole French armament, and was standing to the south in order to join, near the isle of Cizarga, with the Spanish fleet, which lay, in excellent condition, expecting him in those waters. The two allied courts felt yet more confirmed in their resolution, when they saw the English marine in no situation to balance their united forces. Whether from absolute necessity, or from negligence on the part of ministers, it is certain that the arma
ments of England at this period were very far inferior to her dangers. She answered, nevertheless, that she could not admit the condition of independence, even with the modifications proposed by Spain. The Spanish minister then departed from London, after having delivered a declaration to lord Weymouth, secretary of state. This rescript recapitulated, beside the rejection of the mediation, several other motives of war, such as insults offered at sea to the Spanish flag, hostile incursions upon the lands of the king, instigations to the savages to infest the Spanish subjects of Louisiana, the violation of the rights of his catholic majesty in the bay of Honduras, and other like grievances. The court of London answered by a counter declaration, in wbich it endeavored, as usual, to destroy all the assertions of that of Madrid. The king of England recalled lord Grantham, bis ambassador in Spain. He afterwards issued a proclamation of reprisals on that power, and another regulating the distribution of prizes. At the same time, France, as the preponderant and leading part of the alliance, published a manifesto in which she laid before the
of Europe, the motives which had constrained the two allied courts to take up arıns.
These motives, detailed at great length, may be reduced to the following points ; the necessity of avenging injuries received, and the desire, certainly sincere, 10 put down the tyrannical empire which England had usurped, and pretended to maintain upon the ocean. The king of Spain likewise published different official papers. Two royal cedulas demonstrated to the nation the necessity and justice of the war. They were followed by a very prolix manifesto, which advanced an hundred causes of rupture with Great Britain; the greater part had been already announced in the declaration of the marquis d'Alinodovar. It was added in this, and represented as a direct outrage, that at the very time when the British ministers rejected the propositions openly made by Spain, as mediatress, they had employed secret agents to inake the most alluring offers to the court of France if she would abandon the colonies and conclude a separate peace with England. At the same epoch,' said the manifesto, “the British cabinet had clandestinely despatched another agent to doctor Franklin at Paris. Divers propositions were made to that minister, in order to detach the Americans from France and bring them to an arrangement with Great Britain. The British government offers them conditions not only similar to those it has disdained and rejected when they proceeded from the part of his catholic majesty, but much more favorable still.' The first wrongs specified, that is, the insults on the Spanish flag, the hostile incursions upon the king's territory, and the unjust decrees of courts of admiralty, might have obtained a sufficient reparation, if the two parties had been at that time less animated with eninity towards each other. As to the reproach of duplicity imputed to the British ministers with respect to their con
duct during the discussions of the mediation, if the historian cannot positively applaud them, he will find at least that it is difficult to blame them for it, and still more so to discover in it a sufficient ground of war. in effect, these political wiles, far from being new or extraordinary, are but too frequent; all statesmen, and especially those who employ them, consider such means, if not honorable, at least allowable for attaining their ends. But, as we have already observed, the primary and capital motive, to which all the others did little inore than serve as a veil, was the wish to destroy the maritime superiority of England. The king of Spain even made the avowal of it, herein also imitating the candor of the king of France. He formally declared in his manifesto, that in order to obtain a durable peace, it was necessary to set bounds to the immoderate power of England by sea, and to demonstrate the falsity of those principles upon which she founded her usurpation. He concluded with observing, that the other maritiine powers, and all the nations of the universe, were interested in the triumph of so equitable a cause. This argument was no doubt as just as it was noble ; but it would have been more honorable still, if the tyrannical domination of England, about which so much noise was then made, had not been, not only peaceably tolerated for a long series of years, but even formally acknowledged. The king of Great Britain replied with another manifesto, wherein no little address was displayed in refuting the assertions of the two kings, his enemies. It closed with the most energetic, but the most ordinary protestations of his regard for humanity. Since these pompous declamations have been brought into use between the governments of civilised nations, is it found that wars are become less frequent, or less destructive ?
While the two belligerent parties were endeavoring to justify their conduct in the sight of the universe, while each of the kings was protesting that he had not been the first disturber of peace, the fleets of France and Spain presented themselves with formidable parade upon the coasts of Great Britain. They consisted of sixty-six ships of the live, comprehending a Spaniard of one hundred and fourteen guns, the San Trinidad, two Frenchmen of one hundred and ten, and one hundred and four, the Bretagne and the Ville de Paris, eight others of eighty, and fifteen of seventy-four; the rest of less force. This immense armada was followed by a cloud of frigates, corvettes, cutters, and fire ships. It was commanded in chief by the count d'Orvilliers who mounted the Bretagne ; the vanguard was under the conduct of the count de Guichen, and the rear under the conduct of don Gaston. The vanguard was itself preceded by a light squadron commanded by M. de la Touche Treville, and composed of five swift sailing ships, and all the frigates which were not attached to the first divisions. The object of this squadron was to discover and announce whatever should appear at sea.
Finally, the armament was followed by another squadron of observation, composed of sixteen ships of the line, at the orders of don Lewis de Cordova. The design of the allies was, according to appearances, to make a descent upon that part of the coasts of Great Britain which they should find the most conveniently accessible. Every thing seemed to conspire in their favor ; even the importance of the enterprise, the immensity of their forces, the defenceless condition of Ireland, the inferiority of the British inarine, the weakness of the regular troops that remained for the defence of England, since the greater part had been sent to America and the West Indies. Beside this feet, one of the most tremendous which the ocean had ever borne, three hundred transports were prepared at Havre de Grace, St. Malo, and other ports on that coast. All was in movement in the northern provinces of France. Upwards of forty thousand men lined the coasts of Normandy and Britanny ; many other regiments were on the march to join them from other parts of the kingdom. The king appointed the generals who were to conduct the expedition. The troops who were already assembled upon the coasts that looked towards England, daily exercised themselves in the various manæuvres of embarkation and debarkation. Each soldier manifested the most eager desire to set foot on the opposite shore, in order to combat and prostrate an ancient rival. An artillery as numerous as well served, was attached to this army ; five thousand grenadiers, the flower of the French troops, had been drawn from all the regiments, to form the vanguard, and strike the first blows.
England was seasonably apprised of the preparations of France, and the invasion with which she was menaced. The ministers had promptly directed all the measures of defence, which the shortness of time, and the present state of the kingdom admitted; they had assembled thirty-eight ships of the line, under the command of admiral sir Charles Hardy, and had sent him to cruise in the Bay of Biscay, in order, if still possible, to prevent the junction of the two hostile fleets. It is difficult to comprehend, that armaments which occupied so vast an extent of sea, and whose light squadrons were reciprocally on the look out, should not have encountered, or come to any knowledge the one of the other. The king of England issued a proclamation, informing his subjects that the enemy threatened to invade the kingdom. The officers in command upon the coasts were ordered to stand on the alert, and at the first appearance of danger to remove the catile and provisions to a proper distance. The militia exercised continually in arms, and held themselves in readiness to march to the places of debarkation. The royal guards themselves expected every moment the order to march. All minds were strongly excited at the danger of the country; but amidst the sentiVOL. II,