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expense necessary to kill us all, and conquer our whole
territory. My sincere respects to , and to the
club of honest whigs at . Adieu. I am ever
yours most affectionately,
TO A FRIEND IN ENGLAND.*
Measures of the British Government tend to a speedy Separation between Great Britain and the Colonies.
Philadelphia, 3 October, 1775.
I wish as ardently as you can do for peace, and should rejoice exceedingly in cooperating with you to that end. But every ship from Britain brings some intelligence of new measures that tend more and more to exasperate; and it seems to me, that until you have found by dear experience the reducing us by force impracticable, you will think of nothing fair and reasonable.
We have as yet resolved only on defensive measures. If you would recall your forces and stay at home, we should meditate nothing to injure you. A little time so given for cooling on both sides would have excellent effects. But you will goad and provoke us. You despise us too much; and you are insensible of the Italian adage, that there is no little enemy. I am persuaded that the body of the British people are our friends; but they are changeable, and by your lying gazettes may soon be made our enemies. Our respect for them will proportionably diminish, and I see clearly we are on the high road to mutual family hatred and detestation. A separation of course will be inevitable. It is a million of pities so fair a plan as we have hitherto been engaged in, for increasing strength and empire with public felicity, should be destroyed by the mangling hands of a few blundering ministers. It will not be destroyed; God will protect and prosper it, you will only exclude yourselves from any share in it. We hear, that more ships and troops are coming out. We know, that you may do us a great deal of mischief, and are determined to bear it patiently as long as we can. But, if you flatter yourselves with beating us into submission, you know neither the people nor the country. The Congress are still sitting, and will wait the result of their last petition. Yours, &,c.
* This letter was first printed in Mr. Vaughan's edition, but without the name of the person to whom it was written; and it has never since been made public. Probably it was David Hartley. VOL. VIII. 11
TO CHARLES W. F. DUMAS.*
Requesting him to ascertain from the Ambassadors at the Hague, whether any of the European Courts are disposed to afford Assistance to the American Colonies in their Struggle for Independence. — Instructions on this Subject. — State of Affairs in America.
Philadelphia, 9 December, 1775.
Dear Sir, I received your several favors, of May 18th, June 30th, and July 8th, by Messrs. Vaillant and Pochard; whom if I could serve upon your recommendation, it would give me great pleasure. Their total want of English is at present an obstruction to their getting any employment among us; but I hope they will soon obtain some knowledge of it. This is a good country for artificers or farmers; but gentlemen of mere science in les belles lettres cannot so easily subsist here, there being little demand for their assistance among an industrious people, who, as yet, have not much leisure for studies of that kind.
* Charles William Frederick Dumas was a native of Switzerland, but he passed much of his life in Holland. He was a man of great learning, and, in the preface and notes to his edition of Vattel, and in other writings, had expressed sentiments favorable to liberty and free institutions. Dr. Franklin became personally acquainted with him in Holland, and formed so favorable an opinion of his ability and character, that he recommended him to the Committee of Secret Correspondence, as a suitable person to be employed in their service. He accepted the commission, and was a very faithful agent during the whole revolution, and for some years after the peace. When Mr. John Adams was minister from the United States in Holland, Mr. Dumas performed the office of secretary and translator; and, after Mr. Adams's departure, he acted for some time in the capacity of Chargi d'affaires, and exchanged with the Dutch government the ratification of the treaty negotiated by Mr. Adams. See Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution, Vol. IX. p. 253.
I am much obliged by the kind present you have made us of your edition of Vattel. It came to us in good season, when the circumstances of a rising state make it necessary frequently to consult the law of nations. Accordingly that copy, which I kept, (after depositing one in our own public library here, and sending the other to the College of Massachusetts Bay, as you directed,) has been continually in the hands of the jnembers of our Congress, now sitting, who are much pleased with your notes and preface, and have entertained a high and just esteem for their author. Your manuscript "Idee sur le Gouvernement et la Royaute" is also well relished, and may, in time, have its effect . I thank you, likewise, for the other smaller pieces, which accompanied Vattel. "Le court Expose de ce qui s'est passe entre la Conr Britannique et les Colonies," 8fc. being a very concise and clear statement of facts, will be reprinted here for the use of our new friends in Canada. The translations of the proceedings of our Congress are very acceptable. I send you herewith what of them has been farther published here, together with a few newspapers, containing accounts of some of the successes Providence has favored us with. We are threatened from England with a very powerful force, to come next year against us. We are making all the provision in our power here to oppose that force, and we hope we shall be able to defend ourselves. But, as the events of war are always uncertain, possibly, after another campaign, we may find it necessary to ask the aid of some foreign power.
The Committee of Secret Correspondence was appointed by Congress on the 29th of November, 1775, for the purpose of corresponding with persons in Europe, who were supposed to be friends to the American cause. The above letter was written by Dr. Franklin, as a member of that committee. On the 17th of April, 1777, the style of the committee was changed to that of the Committee of Foreign Affairs.
It gives us great pleasure to learn from you, tha* toute VEurope nous souhaite le plus heureux succes pour le maintien de nos liberies. But we wish to know, whether any one of them, from principles of humanity, is disposed magnanimously to step in for the relief of an oppressed people; or whether, if, as it seems likely to happen, we should be obliged to break off all connexion with Britain, and declare ourselves an independent people, there is any state or power in Europe, who would be willing to enter into an alliance with us for the benefit of our commerce, which amounted, before the war, to near seven millions sterling per annum, and must continually increase, as our people increase most rapidly. Confiding, my dear friend, in your good will to us and to our cause, and in your sagacity and abilities for business, the committee of Congress, appointed for the purpose of establishing and conducting a correspondence with our friends in Europe, of which committee I have the honor to be a member, have directed me to request of you, that, as you are situated at the Hague, where ambassadors from all the courts reside, you would make use of the opportunity that situation affords you, of discovering, if possible, the disposition of the several courts with respect to such assistance or alliance, if we should apply for the one, or propose the other. As it may possibly be necessary, in particular instances, that you should, for this purpose, confer directly with some great ministers, and show them this letter as your credential, we only recommend it to your discretion, that you proceed therein with such caution, as to keep the same from the knowledge of the English ambassador, and prevent any public appearance, at present, of your being employed in any such business; as thereby we imagine many inconveniences may be avoided, and your means of rendering us service increased.
That you may be better able to answer some questions, which will probably be put to you, concerning our present situation, we inform you, that the whole continent is very firmly united, the party for the measures of the British ministry being very small, and much dispersed; that we have had on foot, the last campaign, an army of near twenty-five thousand men, wherewith we have been able, not only to block up the King's army in Boston, but to spare considerable detachments for the invasion of Canada, where we have met with great success, as the printed papers sent herewith will inform you, and have now reason to expect the whole province may be soon in our possession; that we purpose greatly to increase our force for the ensuing year, and thereby we hope, with the assistance of a well disciplined militia, to be able to