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spects America, is merely delusory, having no serious intention to admit our independence upon its true principles ; but is calculated to produce a change of ministers to quiet the minds of their own people, and reconcile them to a continue ance of the war, while it is meant to amuse this country with a false idea of peace, to draw us from our connexion with France, and to lull us into a state of security and inactivity ; which taking place, the ministry will be left to prosecute the war in other parts of the world, with greater vigour and effect.-Your excellency will permit me on this occasion to observe, that, even if the nation and parliament are really in earnest to obtain peace with America, it will undoubtedly be wisdom in us to meet them with great caution and circumspection, and by all means to keep our arms firm in our hands, and instead of relaxing one iota in our exertions, rather to spring forward with redoubled vigour, that we may take the advantage of every favourable opportunity, until our wishes are fully obtained. No nation yet suffered in treaty, by preparing, even in the moment of negociation, most vigorously for the field.”
Early in May, sir Guy Carleton, who had succeeded sir Henry Clinton as commander-in-chief of the British forces in America, arrived in New York, and announced, in succes. sive communications, the increasing probability of a speedy peace, and his disapprobation of further hostilities, which he observed, “could tend only to multiply the miseries of individuals, without a possible advantage to either nation."
The cautious temper of Washington gradually yielded to increasing evidence that the British were seriously inclined to terminate the war; but, in proportion as this opinion prevailed, the exertions of the states relaxed. Not more than eighty thousand dollars had been received from them all, when the month of August was far advanced. Every expenditure yielded to the subsistence of the army. A sufficiency of money could scarcely be obtained for that indispensably necessary purpose. To pay the troops, was impossible.
Washington, whose sagacity anticipated events, foresaw with concern, the consequences likely to result from the tardiness of the states to comply with the requisitions of congress. These had been ample. Eight millions of dollars had been required to be paid in four equal quarterly instalmente,
for the service of the year 1782. In a confidential letter to the secretary of war, Washington observed, "I cannot help fearing the result of reducing the army, where I see such a number of men goaded by a thousand stings of refleetion on the past, and of anticipations on the future, about to be turned into the world, soured by penury, and what they call the ingratitude of the public; involved in debts without one farthing of money to carry them home, after having spent the flower of their days, and many of them their patrimonies, in establishing the freedom and independence of their country, and having suffered every thing which human nature is capable of enduring on this side of death. I repeat it, when I reflect on these irritable circumstances, I cannot avoid apprehending that a train of evils will follow, of a very serious and distressing nature.
“ I wish not to heighten the shades of the picture, so far as the real life would justify me in doing, or I would giv anecdotes of patriotism and distress, which have scarcely ever been paralleled, never surpassed in the history of mankind. But you may rely upon it, the patience and long sufferance of this army are almost exhausted, and there never was so great a spirit of discontent, as at this instant. While in the field, it may be kept from breaking out into acts of outrage ; but when we retire into winter-quarters, unless the storm be previously dissipated, I cannot be at ease respecto ing the consequences. It is high time for peace."
These apprehensions were well founded. To watch the discontents of his troops, the American chief continued in camp after they had retired into winter-quarters, though there was no prospect of any military operations which might require his presence. Soon after their retirement, the of ficers presented a petition to congress, respecting their pay, and deputed a committee of their body to solicit their interest, while under consideration.
Nothing had been decided on the claims of the army, when intelligence, in March, 1783, arrived, that preliminary and eventual articles of peace, between the United States and Great Britain, had been signed on the 30th of the preceding November, in which the independence of the United States was amply recognized. In the general joy excited by this event, the army partook ; but one unpleasant idea mingled itself with their exultations. They suspected, that, as justice
had not been aone to them while their services were indispensable, they would be less likely to obtain it when they ceased to be necessary. Their fears on this account were increased by a letter which about the same time was received from their committee in Philadelphia, announcing that the objects which they had solicited from congress had not yet been obained.--Smarting as they were under past sufferings, and present wants, their exasperation became violent, and almost iniversal. While they were brooding over their gloomy prospects, and provoked at the apparent neglect with which they had been treated, an anonymous paper was circulated, proposing a meeting of the general and field officers on the next day. The avowed object of this meeting was to consider the late letter from their committee to congress, and what measures should be adopted to obtain that redress of grievances which they seemed to have solicited in vain. On the same day, the following anonymous address was privately circulated.
“ To the Officers of the Army. “ GENTLEMEN—A fellow soldier, whose interest and affections bind him strongly to you, whose past sufferings have been as great, and whose future fortune may be as desperate as yours, would beg leave to address you. Age has its claims, and rank is not without its pretensions to advise ; but, though unsupported by both, he flatters himself that the plain language of sincerity and experience, will neither be unheard, nor unregarded. Like many of you, he loved private life, and left it with regret. He left it, determined to retire from the field with the necessity that called him to it, and not till then; not till the enemies of his country, the slaves of pow. er, and the hirelings of injustice, were compelled to abandon their schemes, and acknowledge America as terrible in arms as she had been humble in remonstrance. With this object in view, he has long shared in your toils, and mingled in your dangers ; he has felt the cold hand of poverty without a murmur, and has seen the insolence of wealth without a sigh. But, too much under the direction of his wishes, and sometimes weak enough to mistake desire for opinion, he has till lately, very lately, believed in the justice of his country. He hoped, that as the clouds of adversity scattered, and as the sunshine of peace and better fortune broke in upon
us, the coldness and severity of government would relax and that, more than justice, that gratitude would blaze forth upon those hands which had upheld her in the darkest stages of her passage, from impending servitude to acknowledge independence. But faith has its limits, as well as temper; and there are points beyond which neither can be stretched, without sinking into cowardice, or plunging into credulity. This, my friends, I conceive to be your situation. Hurried to the very verge of both, another step would ruin you for ever. To be tame and unprovoked when injuries press hard upon you, is more than weakness; but to look up for kinder usage without one manly effort of your own, would fix your character, and show the world how richly you deserve those chains you broke. To guard against this evil, let us take a review of the ground upon which we now stand, and from thence carry our thoughts forward for a moment, into the unexplored field of expedient.
“ After a pursuit of seven long years, the object for which we set out is at length brought within our reach !-Yes, my friends, that suffering courage of yours, was active once; it has conducted the United States of America through a doubtful and bloody war. It has placed her in the chair of independency, and peace returns again to bless-whom? A country willing to redress your wrongs, cherish your worth, and reward your services; a country courting your return to private life with tears of gratitude, and smiles of admiration; longing to divide with you that independency which your gallantry has given, and those riches which your wounds have preserved ?-Is this the case ? Or is it rather, a country that tramples upon your rights, disdains your cries, and insults your distresses? Have you not, more than once, suggested your wishes, and made known your wants to congress? Wants and wishes which gratitude and policy should have anticipated, rather than evaded.' And have you not lately, in the meek language of entreating memorial, begged from their justice, what you would no longer expect from their favour? How have you been answered? Let the letter which you are called to consider to-morrow, make reply.
“ If this, then, be your treatment, while the swords you wear are necessary for the defence of America, what have you to expect from peace, when your voice shall sink, and your strength dissipate by division?
• When these very swords, the instruments and companions of your glory, shall be taken from your sides, and no remaining mark of military distinction left, but your wants, infirmities, and scars ; can you then consent to be the only sufferers by this revolution, and retiring from the field grow old in poverty, wretchedness, and contempt? Can you consent to wade through the vile mire of dependency, and owe the miserable remnant of that life to charity, which has hitherto been spent in honour ? If you can, go; and carry with you the jest of tories, and the scorn of whigs; the ridicule, and what is worse, the pity of the world! Go, starve, and be forgotten !But if your spirit should revolt at this; if you have sense enough to discover, and spirit enough to oppose tyranny, under whatever garb it may assume ; whether it be the plain coat of republicanism, or the splendid robe of royalty; if you have yet learned to discriminate between a people and a cause, between men and principles, awake! Attend to your situation, and redress yourselves. If the present moment be lost, every future effort is in vain ; and your threats then will be as empty as your entreaties now. I would advise you, therefore, to come to some final opinion, upon what you can bear, and what you will suffer.If your determination be in any proportion to your wrongs, carry your appeal from the justice to the fears of government; change the milk and water style of your last memorial; assume a bolder tone; decent, but lively, spirited, and determined ; and suspect the man who would advise to more moderation and longer forbearance. Let two or three men, who can feel as well as write, be appointed to draw up your Jast remonstrance; for I would no longer give it the sueing, soft, unsuccessful epithet of memorial. Let it be represented, in language that will neither dishonour you by its rudeness, nor betray you by its fears, what has been promised by congress, and what has been performed; how long and how patiently you have suffered; how little you have asked, and how much of that little has been denied. Tell them, that though you were the first, and would wish to be the last, to encounter danger; though despair itself can never drive you into dishonour, it may drive you from the field ; that the wound often irritated, and never healed, may at length become incurable; and that the slightest mark of indignity from congress now, must operate like the grave, and part you