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his objections to the plan remained in full force, and he found himself called upon to use his influence to bring the French government to adopt a scheme, of which he himself wholly disapproved, and to promise the co-operation of the American arms in a manner that he thought impracticable. To this request he thus replied :
“ I have attentively taken up the report of the committee of the fifth, (approved by Congress) on the subject of my letter of the 11th ultimo, on the proposed expedition into Canada. I have considered it in several lights, and sincerely regret that I should feel myself under any embarrassment in carrying it into execution. Still I remain of opinion, from a general review of things, and the state of our resources, that no extensive system of co-operation with the French for the complete emancipation of Canada, can be positively decided on for the ensuing year. To propose a plan of perfect co-operation with a foreign power, without a moral certainty in our supplies ; and to have that plan actually ratified with the court of Versailles, might be attended, in case of failure in the conditions, on our part, with very fatal effects.
“ If I should seem unwilling to transmit the plan as prepared by Congress, with my
observations, it is because I find myself under a necessity (in order to give our minister sufficient ground to found an application on) to propose something more than a vague and indecisive plan : which, even in the event of a total evacuation of the states by the enemy, may be rendered impracti
cable in the execution by a variety of insurmountable obstacles; or if I retain my present sentiments, and act consistently, I must point out the difficulties, as they appear to me, which must embarrass his negociations, and may disappoint the views of Congress.
“ But proceeding on the idea of the enemy's leaving these states, before the active part of the ensuing campaign, I should fear to hazard a mistake, as to the precise aim and extent of the views of Congress. The conduct I am to observe in writing to our minister at the court of France, does not appear sufficiently delineated. Were I to undertake it, I should be much afraid of erring through misconception. In this dilemma, I would esteem it a particular favour to be excused 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 efficacy to the measure.
“But if Congress still think it necessary for me to proceed in the business, I must request their more definite and explicit instructions, and that they will permit me, previous to transmitting the intended dispatches, to submit them to their determination.
“ I could wish to lay before Congress more minutely, the state-of the army, the condition of supplies, and the requisites necessary for carrying into execution an undertaking that may in
volve 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 interview, 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 with France was received as a security for independence. In the expectation 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 delusion, he believed that Great Britain would continue the American war, and in every possible way exerted himself seasonably to be prepared for the conflicts of the field. But Congress was slowly roused to attention to this important business. Their resolution empowering the Commander in Chief to recruit
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 disseasions 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 citizers to make sacrifices for the public interest, greatly alarmed General Washington. His apprehensions are fully disclosed in the annexed letter written 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 without 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 at present. Friends and foes seem now to combine to pull down the goodly fabric we have hitherto been raising, at the expense of so much time, blood and treasure ; and unless the bodies politic will exert themselves to bring things back to first principles, correct abuses, and punish our internal foes, inevitable ruin must follow. Indeed we seem to be verging so fast to destruction, that
I am filled with sensations to which I have been a stranger until within these three months. Our enemies behold with exultation and joy how effectually we labour for their benefit; 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 us but a total reformation in our own conduct, or some decisive 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 a 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 avidity, 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 I shall be somewhat reserved, notwithstanding this letter goes by a private hand to Mount Ver
I cannot refrain lamenting, however, in the most poignant terms, the fatal policy too prevalent in most of the states, of employing their