Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

reputation and interest of our country, in general, may be affected by such a measure: it would, therefore, hardly be deemed an indecent liberty in the most private citizen, to offer his thoughts to the consideration of the Executive. The locality of my situation, particularly in the neighborhood of the present barracks, and the public relation in which I stand to the people among whom they are situated, together with a confidence which a personal knowledge of the members of the Executive gives me, that they will be glad of information from any quarter, on a subject interesting to the public, induce me to hope that they will acquit me of impropriety in the present representation.

By an article in the Convention of Saratoga, it is stipulated, on the part of the United States, that the officers shall not be separated from their men. I suppose the term officers, includes general as well as regimental officers. As there are general officers who command all the troops, no part of them can be separated from these officers without a violation of the article: they cannot, of course, be separated from one another, unless the same general officer could be in different places at the same time. It is true, the article adds the words, “as far as circumstances will admit.” This was a necessary qualification ; because, in no place in America, I suppose, could there have been found quarters for both officers and men together; those for the officers to be according to their rank. So far, then, as the circumstances of the place where they should be quartered, should render a separation necessary, in order to procure quarters for the officers, according to their rank, the article admits that separation. And these are the circumstances which must have been under the contemplation of the parties; both of whom, and all the world beside (who are ultimate judges in the case), would still understand that they were to be as near in the environs of the camp, as convenient quarters could be procured; and not that the qualification of the article destroyed the article itself, and laid it wholly at our discretion. Congress, indeed, have admitted of this separation ; but are they so far lords of right and wrong as that our consciences may be quiet with their dispensation? Or is the case amended by saying they leave it optional in the Governor and Council to separate the troops or not? At the same time that it exculpates not them, it is drawing the Governor and Council into a participation in the breach of faith. If indeed it is only proposed, that a separation of the troops shall be referred to the consent of their officers; that is a very different matter. Having carefully avoided conversation with them on public subjects, I cannot say, of my own knowledge, how they would relish such a proposition. I have heard from others, that they will choose to undergo anything together, rather than to be separated, and that they will remonstrate against it in the strongest terms.

The Executive, therefore, if voluntary agents in this measure, must be drawn into a paper war with them, the more disagreeable, as it seems that faith and reason will be on the other side. As an American, I cannot help feeling a thorough mortification, that our Congress should have permitted an infraction of our public honor; as a citizen of Virginia, I cannot help hoping and confiding, that our Supreme Executive, whose acts will be considered as the acts of the Commonwealth, estimate that honor too highly to make its infraction their own act. I may be permitted to hope, then, that if any removal takes place, it will be a general one; and, as it is said to be left to the Governor and Council to determine on this, I am satisfied that, suppressing every other consideration, and weighing the matter dispassionately, they will determine upon this sole question, Is it for the benefit of those for whom they act, that the Convention troops should be removed from among them ? Under the head of interest, these circumstances, viz., the expense of building barracks, said to have been £25,000, and of removing the troops backwards and forwards, amounting to, I know not how much, are not to be permitted, merely because they are Continental expenses; for we are a part of the Continent; we must pay a shilling of every dollar wasted.

But the sums of money which, by these troops, or on their account, are brought into, and expended in this State, are a great and local advantage. This can require no proof. If, at the conclusion of the war, for instance, our share of the Continental debt should be twenty millions of dollars, or say that we are called on to furnish an annual quota of two millions four hundred thousand dollars, to Congress, to be raised by tax, it is obvious that we should raise these given sums with greater or

less ease, in proportion to the greater or less quantity of money found in circulation among us.

I expect that our circulating money is [increased ?], by the presence of these troops, at the rate of $30,000 a week, at the least. I have heard, indeed, that an objection arises to their being kept within this State, from the information of the commissary that they cannot be subsisted here. In attending to the information of that officer, it should be borne in mind that the county of King William and its vicinities are one thing, the territory of Virginia another. If the troops could be fed upon long letters, I believe the gentleman at the head of that department in this country, would be the best commissary upon earth. But till I see him determined to act, not to write; to sacrifice his domestic ease to the duties of his appointment, and apply to the resources of this country, wheresoever they are to be had, I must entertain a different opinion of him. I am mistaken if, for the animal subsistence of the troops hitherto, we are not principally indebted to the genius and exertions of Hawkins, during the very short time he lived after his appointment to that department, by your board. His eye immediately pervaded the whole State, it was reduced at once to a regular machine, to a system, and the whole put into movement and animation by the fiat of a comprehensive mind. If the Commonwealth of Virginia cannot furnish these troops with bread, I would ask of the commissariat, which of the thirteen is now become the grain colony? If we are in danger of famine from the addition of four thousand mouths, what is become of that surplus of bread, the exportation of which used to feed the West Indies and Eastern States, and fill the colony with hard money? When I urge the sufficiency of this State, however, to subsist these troops, I beg to be understood, as having in contemplation the quantity of provisions necessary for their real use, and not as calculating what is to be lost by the wanton waste, mismanagement, and carelessness of those employed about it. If magazines of beef and pork are suffered to rot by slovenly butchering, or for want of timely provision and sale ; if quantities of four are exposed, by the commissaries entrusted with the keeping it, to pillage and destruction ; and if, when laid up in the Continental stores, it is still to be embezzled and sold, the land of Egypt itself would be insufficient for their supply, and their removal would be necessary, not to a more plentiful country, but to more able and honest commissaries. Perhaps the magnitude of this question, and its relation to the whole State, may render it worth while to await the opinion of the National Council, which is now to meet within a few weeks. There is no danger of distress in the meantime, as the commissaries affirm they have a great sufficiency of provisions for some time to come.

Should the measure of removing them into another State be adopted, and carried into execution, before the meeting of Assembly, no disapprobation of theirs will bring them back, because they will then be in the power of others, who will hardly give them up.

Want of information as to what may be the precise measure proposed by the Governor and Council,

« PředchozíPokračovat »