Imagens das páginas

ed from writing at all on the subject, especially as it is the part of candour in me to acknowledge, that I do not see my way clear enough to point out such a plan for co-operation, as I conceive to be consistent with the ideas of Congress, and as will be sufficiently explanatory, with respect to time and circumstances, to give effcacy to the measure.

“ But if Congress still think it necessary for me to proceed in the business, I must request their moro definite and explicit instructions, and that they will permit me, previous to transmitting the intended de spatches, to submit them to their determination.

“I could wish to lay before Congress more minutely, the state of the army, the condition of supnlies, and the requisites necessary for carrying into execution an undertaking that may involve the most serious events. If Congress think this can be done more satisfactorily in a personal conference, I hope to have the army in such a situation before I can receive their answer, as to afford me an opportunity of giving my attendance."

Congress indulged the General with the proposed intorview, and a Committee of their body was chosen to confer with him on this business and on the state of the army. His objections were found to be unanswerable, and the Canada expedition was laid aside.

To the magnificent schemes of Congress upon Canada, succeeded through United America a state of supineness and inaction. An alliance witl. France was received as a security for independence In the expec. tation that Great Britain would relinquish the American war, that she might with her united force contend with her ancient enemy in Europe, Congress appeared not disposed to encounter the expense necessary to prepare for another active campaign. The delusive supposition that the war was over prevailed through the country, and palsied the spirit of the community. General WASHINGTON perpetually stimulated his countrymen to exertion. Uninfected with the common de

lusion, he believed that Great Britain would continue the American war, and in every possible way exerted himself seasonably to be prepared for the conflict of the field. But Congress was slowly roused to attention to this important business. Their resolution empowering the Commander in Chief -o recruit the army did not pass until the 23d of January 1779, and the requisition upon the several states was not made until the 9th of March.

The dissensions which at this time existed in Congress, the speculations that prevailed through the country in consequence of the depreciation of paper money, and the apparent reluctance among all classes of citizens to make sacrifices for the publick interest, greatly alarmed General Washington. His apprehensions are fully disclosed in the annexed letter writ. ten at the time to a confidential friend of distinguished reputation in the political world.

“I am particularly desirous of a free communication of sentiments with you at this time, because I view things very differently, I fear, from what people in general do, who seem to think the contest at an end, and that to make money and get places are the only things now remaining to be done. I have seen with. out despondency, even for a moment, the hours which America has styled her gloomy ones; but I have beheld no day since the commencement of hostilities, when I have thought her liberties in such imminent danger as a: present

Friends and focs seem now to combine to pull down the goodly fabrich we have hitherto been raising, at the expense of so much time, blood, and treasure ; and unless the bodies politick will oxert themselves to bring things back to first principles, correct abuses, and punish our internal foes, inevitable ruin must follow. Indeed we seem to be vergo ing so fast to destruction that I am filled with sensations to which I have been a stranger until within these three months. Our eremy behold with exulta

tion and joy how effectually we labour for their bene. fit; and from being in a state of absolute despair and on the point of evacuating America, are now on tiptoe. Nothing, therefore, in my judgment, can save ur but a total reformation in our own conduct, or some de cisive turn of affairs in Europe. The former, alas ! to our shame be it spoken, is less likely to happen than the latter, as it is now consistent with the views of the speculators, various tribes of money-makers, and stock. jobbers of all denominations, to continue the war, for their own private emolument, without considering that this avarice and thirst for gain must plunge every thing, including themselves, in one common ruin.

“Were I to indulge my present feelings, and give a loose to that freedom of expression which my unreserved friendship would prompt to, I should say a great deal on this subject. But letters are liable to so many accidents, and the sentiments of men in office are sought after by the enemy with so much cvidity, and besides conveying useful knowledge (if they get into their hands) for the superstructure of their plans, are so often perverted to the worst of purposes, that I shall be somewhat reserved, notwithstanding this letter goes by a private hand to Mount Vernon. I cannot refrain lamenting, however, in the most poignant terms, the fatal policy too prevalent in most of the states, of employing their ablest men at home, in posts of honour or profit, before the great national interest is fixed upon a solid basis.

“ To me it appears no unjust simile, to compare the affairs of this great continent to the mechanism of a clock, each state representing some one or other of the small parts of it, which they are endeavouring to put in fine order, without considering how useless and unavailing their labour is, unless the great whoel, or spring, which is to set the whole in motion, is also well attended to end kept in good order. 1 allude to Vol. I.


no particular state, nor do I mean to cast reflectioris upon any one of them, nor ought I, as it may be said, lo do so upon their representatives ; but as it is a fact too notorious to be concealed, that Congress is rent by party; that much business of a trifling nature and personal concernment, withdraws their attention from inatters of great national moinent, at this critical period; when it is also known that idleness and dissipation take place of close attention and application; no man who wishes well to the liberties of his country, and desires to see its rights established, can avoid crying out ; -Where are our men of abilities? Why do they not come forth to save their country? Let this voice, My dear sir, call upon you, Jefferson, and others. Do not, from a mistaken opinion that we are to sit down under our vine and our own fig-tree, let our hitherto noble struggle end in ignominy. Believe me when I tell you there is danger of it. I have pretty good reasons for thinking that administration, a little while ago, had resolved to give the matter up, and negotiate a peace with us upon almost any terms; but I shall be much mistaken if they do not now, from the present state of our currency, dissensions, and other circumstances, push matters to the utmost extremity. Nothing, I am sure will prevent it but the interruption of Spain, and their disappointed hope from Prussia.”

'The depreciation of the paper currency had reduced the pay of tho American officers to a pittance, and the effects were severely felt. At the moment the campaign was to open, the dissatisfaction of a part of the sufferers broke out into acts of violence, which threatened the safety of the whcle army. Early in May, the Jerscy Brigade was ordered to march as part of a force destined on an expedition into the Indian country. On the reception of this order, the officers of the first regiment presented to their Colonel a remonstrance, addressed to the Legislature of the State, in which

they professed the determination, unless that body iinmediately attended to their pay and support, within three days to resign their commissions.

This resolution greatly disturbed the Commander ir Chief. He foresaw its evil consequences, and on this important occasion determined to exert his persona influence. In a letter to General Maxwell, to be com municated to the dissatisfied officers, he dissuaded then by a sense of honour, and by the love of country fron the prosecution of the rash measure they had adopted

“ There is nothing.; " proceeds the letter, “which has happened in course of the war, that has given me so much pain as the remonstrance you mention from the officers of the first Jersey regiment. I cannot but consider it as a hasty and imprudent step, which on more cool consideration they will themselves condemn. I am very sensible of the inconveniences under which the officers of the army labour, and I hope they do me the justice to believe, that my endeavours to procuro them relief are incessant. There is more difficulty however, in satisfying their wishes than perhaps they are aware of. Our resources have been hitherto very limited. The situation of our money is no sınall em. barrassment; for which, though there are remedies, they cannot be the work of a moment. Government is not insensible of the merits and sacrifices of the officers, nor, I am persuaded, unwilling to make a com pensation ; but it is a truth, of which a little observa tion must convince us, that it is very much straitened in the means. Great allowances ought to be made on this account, for any delay, and seeming backwardness which may appear. Some of the States indeed have done as generously as it is at this juncture in their power, and if others have been less expeditious, it ought to be ascribed to some peculiar cause, which a little time, aided by example, will remove. tience and perseverance of the army have been, under every disadvantage, such as to do them the highest

The pa

« AnteriorContinuar »