Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

CHAP. colonies named in their instructions. The American XXXVIII.

Commissioners refused to enter upon negotiations, unless 1782. in the name of the “United States of America ;”—they

claimed the right to be recognized a power among the nations. This right was acknowledged by Britain, and on the 30th of November the parties signed a preliminary treaty, which Congress ratified the following April. Ne

gotiations continued, and the final treaty was signed on 1783. the 3d of September following. France and England in

the mean time likewise concluded a treaty of peace. The American Commissioners also negotiated treaties of commerce with Spain and Holland.

Though the war was ended, the American people had numberless difficulties with which to contend. The army, that through the many trials of the contest had remained faithful, was in a deplorable condition. The half-pay for life, which, three years before, Congress had promised to the officers, proved to be only a promise. Washington wrote confidentially to the Secretary of War in behalf of those about to be discharged from the service : “I cannot help fearing the result, when I see such a number of men about to be turned on the world, soured by penury, involved in debts, without one farthing 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. 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.' Var. At this crisis an address, plausibly written, was privately

circulated in the camp. It suggested to the officers and men the propriety of taking upon themselves to redress their grievances; that they should intimidate Congress and compel it to pay their just demands.

THE ANONYMOUS ADDRESSES.

513

The address seems to have been the embodied senti- CHAP.

XXXVIII ments of some half dozen officers, although written by Captain Armstrong, the son of General Armstrong of 1788. Pennsylvania. A call was issued for a meeting of the officers, but the next morning, in the regular orders for the day, Washington took occasion to disapprove of the meeting as a violation of discipline. He also named a day for the officers to assemble and hear the report of a committee of their number who had been sent to lay their demands before Congress. The next day a second anonymous address was issued, but somewhat more moderate in tone than the first. The officers met according to appointment, and Gates, being second in command, was made chairman of the meeting. Washington presently came in, made them a soothing address, appealed to their patriotism and to their own fair fame in toiling for their country, and now were they willing to tarnish their name or distrust their country's justice ? He pledged his word to use his influence with Congress to fulfil its promises. He then withdrew. The meeting passed resolutions which condemned in severe terms the spirit of the anonymous address.

Congress soon after resolved to accede to the proposition of the officers, and change the promise of half

pay for life, to that of full pay for five years. And also to advance to the soldiers full pay for four months.

This was not the only instance in which the influence of Washington arrested plots designed to ruin the prospects of the young republic. The condition of the country was so desperate that many feared the States could not form a permanent government. At the suggestion of officers who thus thought, Lewis Nicola, a foreigner, a colonel in the Pennsylvania line, wrote Washington an elaborate letter, in which he discussed the expediency of establishing a monarchy, and finally offered him the crown. Washington indignantly condemned the scheme. Said he · "I

CHAP. cannot conceive what I have done during my whole life, XXXVIII.

which could cause any one to imagine that I could enter1783. tain such a proposition for a moment.”

When these facts became known, it was not strange that the people feared a standing army.

Intelligence came at length of the signing of the treaty between the United States and Great Britain. Congress

issued a proclamation giving the information to the nation. April On the 19th of April, precisely eight years from the battle i9.

of Lexington, the cessation of hostilities was proclaimed in the camp at Newburg.

The soldiers of Burgoyne and Cornwallis were yet prisoners, and had been marched to New York in order to be sent home. A general exchange of prisoners now took place. The prospects of the Tories were dreary indeed. The severe laws enacted against them were still in force, and now several thousand of them had assembled at New York, and were compelled to leave the country. The majority of them were wealthy. During the war many of them had held offices in the British service, and some had grown rich as merchants, landowners, and sutlers for the British army ; others, the unscrupulous, by privateering. Those who lived in the North emigrated to Canada and Nova Scotia, while those of the South went chiefly to the West India Islands.

A clause was inserted in the treaty which prohibited the carrying away of the slaves, large numbers of whom had fled to the British army during the campaigns in the Carolinas and Virginia.

Carleton refused to comply with the demand, on the ground that it would be highly dishonorable to deliver them up since they had sought protection under the Britislı flag. To secure their safety, he sent them away among the very first, while at the same time he kept an accurate

DISBANDMENT OF THE ARMY.

515

list of their number, leaving to future negotiation indem- CHAP.

XXXVII nity for their loss.

These negroes, now liberated, were first taken to Nova 6783/ Scotia ; afterward, a large number of them emigrated to Sierra Leone: “Their descendants, as merchants and traders, now constitute the wealthiest and most intelligent population of that African colony."

Before the disbandment of the army, Washington addressed a letter to the Governors of the several States, June. urging them to guard against the prejudices of one part of the country against another; to encourage union among the States, and to make provision for the public debt.

On the 3d of November the army was disbanded. Noy These patriot soldiers returned to their homes, to mingle with their fellow-citizens, and enjoy the blessings which their valor had obtained for themselves and their posterity. From that day the title of revolutionary soldier has been a title of honor.

Before the officers of the army finally separated, they formed a society known as the Cincinnati—a name derived from the celebrated farmer-patriot of Rome. The association was to be perpetuated chiefly through the eldest male descendants of the original members. this feature, in the eyes of many, seemed to favor an hereditary aristocracy, it was stricken out; still the society continued to be to some parties an object of jealousy.

As soon as preparations could be made, the British evacuated the few places occupied by their troops ; New York on the 25th of November, and Charleston in the fol- Nov lowing month. General Knox, with a small body of troops, and accompanied by Governor George Clinton and the State officers, entered New York as the British were leaving.

A few days after, the officers of the army assembled at a public house to bid farewell to their beloved commander. Doo.

4. Presently Washington entered ; his emotions were too strong to be concealed. After a moment's pause he said :

But as

25.

СНАР. “ With a heart full of love and gratitude, I now take leave XXXVIII.

of you ; I most devoutly wish that your latter days may 1783. be as prosperous and happy, as your former ones have been

glorious and honorable.” He then added : “I cannot come to each of you to take my leave, but shall be obliged if each of you will come and take my hand.” General Knox, being the nearest, turned to him. Washington, affected even to tears, grasped his hand and embraced him. In the same affectionate manner he took leave of each succeeding officer : “The tear of manly sensibility was in every eye ; not a word was spoken to interrupt the dignified silence and the tenderness of the scene. Leaving the room, he passed through the corps of light infantry, to the barge which was to convey him across the river. The whole company followed in mute and solemn procession, with dejected countenances, testifying to feelings of delicious melancholy, which no language can describe. Haring entered the barge, he turned to the company, and, waving his hat, bade them a silent adieu. They paid him the same affectionate compliment.”

On his way to Annapolis, where Congress was in session, he left with the controller at Philadelphia an accurate account of his expenses during the war; they amounted to sixty-four thousand dollars. These accounts were in his own handwriting, and kept in the most perfect manner; every charge made was accompanied by a mention of the occasion and object.

In an interview with Congress, he made a short address. Said he : “ The successful termination of the war

has verified the most sanguine expectations; and my Dec.

gratitude for the interposition of Providence, and the as25.sistance I have received from my countrymen, increases

with every review of the momentous contest.” Then recommending to the favorable notice of Congress the

1

* Judge Marshall.

« PředchozíPokračovat »