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THE

HISTORY OF ENGLAND.

GEORGE THE THIRD.

CHAPTER THE FIFTY-FOURTH.

1783.

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General view of the late belligerent powers.--Mr. Hartley

corresponds with Dr. Franklin on the subject of a commercial treaty.- Progress of the negotiation-American loyalists provided for by Great Britain.--Condition of the American Congress—of the army.-Memorials to Congress.Prudence of Washington.—The army disbanded.—Washington's farewell -- His retreat with honours and acclamations.—Observations on his character.—He refuses to accept the title of King.–Society of Cincinnati.-Debts and embarrassments of America.--Commerce.- Powers of Europe. -France.-Spain.— Holland.— Conduct of the Imperial Courts.-Great Britain.-Interview of Mr. Adams with the King

CHAP.
LIV.

1783.

GREAT BRITAIN having now emerged from the most extraordinary contest in which a nation had ever engaged, and respecting the termination of which the most gloomy forebodings had been entertained, it is General view necessary to review her situation in comparison with ligerent powother powers, and particularly those with whom she ers. had been engaged in hostilities.

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CHAP.
LIV.

1783.

America,

Among these, America first claims attention, as well because she was the original source of contest, as from the novelty of her political relation to other states. Colonies, planted and formed, fostered, protected, and enriched by the mother country, had emancipated themselves from her restraint, and formed a separate and independent establishment. To Catholic and despotic monarchs Protestant republicans were indebted for that support which enabled them to maintain principles of hatred and contempt of kings, to spurn at all rule but that of a legislative elective body, and to associate with the ideas of freedom and natural right, those of republicanism and natural equality. If, from motives of gratitude, the newly created commonwealth might be expected to court continual alliance, and give exclusive preference to France and Spain, other causes, not less cogent, naturally tended to regenerate partialities toward Great Britain. No part of the history of America was obscure or uncertain; the period to which other nations are obliged to refer their origin, commonly called “the night of time,” with them had no existence. They stood in the society of nations as mere strangers; they had no association but what had arisen during the late contest, no origin or antecedent history which connected them with royal houses or illustrious families; no original insti. tutions or historical recollections, to which they could recur as founding claims to high consideration. Every record, every reminiscence brought back their ancient connexion, their indisputable origination; and if the heat of party, or the perversion of historical fact, for the purposes of supposed advantage, sanctioned momentary misrepresentations of the conduct and motives of the parent state, the more imperishable and neverfailing records of language, customs, manners, and jurisprudential forms, would always certify that the establishment of the Americans as a people, and the foundation of their most valuable social institutes, were derived from Great Britain. To these, at every period of the revolution, and in every project of a new government, they inflexibly adhered. Trial by jury,

СНАР.
LIV.

1783.

senatorial representation, liberty of the press, and habeas corpus, were, in their definition, not modes of administration, but natural rights of man; and, when they had attained independence founded on these principles, it was natural to expect that every motive arising from similarity of principles, wants, feelings, and exertions, would induce attachment to, and preference of, Great Britain.

But these causes could not be speculated on as likely to produce immediate effects. Although the terms of peace with the United States were remarkably liberal in the articles of limits, fisheries, and indeed in every other respect, the condition of the country was neither settled nor enviable.

In the eager desire of the British ministry and people to derive exclusive advantages from a new connexion with America, the wildest sallies of imagination were indulged. Instead of viewing the United States in the situation they had elected, as a foreign country, some persons defined them by the whimsical term of a people sui generis; systems were preferred to experience, rash theory to successful practice, and attempts were even sanctioned for abandoning the navigation act, the guardian of British prosperity; but the excellent deliberative forms of British legislation, and the wholesome freedom of the press, prevented this fatal delusion from producing its worst effects. By wisdom in discussing the bills presented to Parliament, the evils to be apprehended from a too hasty decision were averted; and the temporary power vested in the sovereign afforded time for obtaining the benefits of experience, instead of forming a rash judgment on the basis of mere speculation*. The press was no less judiciously employed in obviating popular errors, and proving, by the best arguments, drawn from analogy, comparison, and calculation, that the greatest advantages would be derived from American commerce, not

Observations on the Commerce of America, by Lord Sheffield. This was the must distinguished and useful production on the subject. It was read with avidity at the time, and can never be perused but with advantage and instruction. See, also, Opinions on Interesting Subjects, by George Chalmers, Esq.

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Among these, America first claims attention, as well because she was the original source of contest, as from the novelty of her political relation to other states. Colonies, planted and formed, fostered, protected, and enriched by the mother country, had emancipated themselves from her restraint, and formed a separate and independent establishment. To Catholic and despotic monarchs Protestant republicans were indebted for that support which enabled them to maintain principles of batred and contempt of kings, to spurn at all rule but that of a legislative elective body, and to associate with the ideas of freedom and natural right, those of republicanism and natural equality. If, from motives of gratitude, the newly created commonwealth might be expected to court continual alliance, and give exclusive preference to France and Spain, other causes, not less cogent, naturally tended to regenerate partialities toward Great Britain. No part of the history of America was obscure or uncertain; the period to which other nations are obliged to refer their origin, commonly called “the night of time,” with them had no existence. They stood in the society of nations as mere strangers; they had no association but what had arisen during the late contest, no origin or antecedent history which connected them with royal houses or illustrious families ; no original institutions or historical recollections, to which they could recur as founding claims to high consideration. Every record, every reminiscence brought back their ancient connexion, their indisputable origination; and if the heat of party, or the perversion of historical fact, for the purposes of supposed advantage, sanctioned momentary misrepresentations of the conduct and motives of the parent state, the more imperishable and neverfailing records of language, customs, manners, and jurisprudential forms, would always certify that the establishment of the Americans as a people, and the foundation of their most valuable social institutes, were derived from Great Britain. To these, at every period of the revolution, and in every project of a new government, they inflexibly adhered. Trial by jury,

CHAP.
LIV.

1783.

senatorial representation, liberty of the press, and habeas corpus, were, in their definition, not modes of administration, but natural rights of man; and, when they had attained independence founded on these principles, it was natural to expect that every motive arising from similarity of principles, wants, feelings, and exertions, would induce attachment to, and preference of, Great Britain.

But these causes could not be speculated on as likely to produce immediate effects. Although the terms of peace with the United States were remarkably liberal in the articles of limits, fisheries, and indeed in every other respect, the condition of the country was neither settled nor enviable.

In the eager desire of the British ministry and people to derive exclusive advantages from a new connexion with America, the wildest sallies of imagination were indulged. Instead of viewing the United States in the situation they had elected, as a foreign country, some persons defined them by the whimsical term of a people sui generis; systems were preferred to experience, rash theory to successful practice, and attempts were even sanctioned for abandoning the navigation act, the guardian of British prosperity ; but the excellent deliberative forms of British legislation, and the wholesome freedom of the press, prevented this fatal delusion from producing its worst effects. By wisdom in discussing the bills presented to Parliament, the evils to be apprehended from a too hasty decision were averted; and the temporary power vested in the sovereign afforded time for obtaining the benefits of experience, instead of forming a rash judgment on the basis of mere speculation*. The press was no less judiciously employed in obviating popular errors, and proving, by the best arguments, drawn from analogy, comparison, and calculation, that the greatest advantages would be derived from American commerce, not

Observations on the Commerce of America, by Lord Sheffield. This was the most distinguished and useful production on the subject. It was read with avidity at the time, and can never be perused but with advantage and instruction, See, also, Opinions on Interesting Subjects, by George Chalmers, Esq.

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