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To Dr. Joseph Priestley. Account of the first campaign made liy the British forces in America.
Dear Sir, Philadelphia, Oct. 3, 1775.
I am to set out to-morrow for the camp,1 and having but just heard of this opportunity, can only write a line to say that I am well and hearty. Tell our dear good friend, Dr. Price, who sometimes has his doubts and despondencies about our firmness, that America is determined and unanimous; a very few tories and placemen excepted, who will probably soon export themselves. Britain, at the expense of three millions, has killed one hundred and fifty Yankees this campaign; which is 20,0001. a-head; and at Bunker's Hill she gained a mile of ground, half of which she lost again by our taking post on Ploughed Hill. During the same time sixty thousand children have been born in America. From these data his mathematical head will easily calculate the time and 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, B. Franklin.
1 Dr. Franklin, Colonel Harrison, and Mr. Lynch, were at this time appointed by congress (of which they were members) to confer on certain subjects with General Washington. The American army was then employed in blocking up General Howe in Boston; and it was during this visit, that General Washington communicated the following memorable anecdote to Dr. Franklin; viz. "that there had been a time, when his army had been so destitute of military stores, as not to have powder enough in all its magazines, to furnish more than five rounds per man fir their small arms." Artillery were out of the question; they were fired now anil then only to show that they had them. Yet this secret was kept with so much address and good countenance from both armies, that General Washington was enabled effectually to continue the blockade.
To David Hartley, Esq. Situation of affairs between Great Britain and America.
Dear Sir, Philadelphia, Oct. 3, Ml5.
I wish as ardently as you can do for peace, and should rejoice exceedingly in co-operating 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 Mould recal 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. 'Tis 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 wiH 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 is still sitting, and will wait the result of their last petition. Yours, &c. B. Franklin.
To M. Dumas, In Holland.
Urging him to sound the several courts of Europe, by means of their ambassadors at the Hague, as to any assistance they may be disposed to afford America in her struggle for independence.
Dear Sir, Philadelphia, Dec. 9, 1775.
I received your several favors of May 18, June SO, and July 8, 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 let 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.
I am much obliged by the kind present you have made us of your edition of VMel. 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 members 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 gouverncment 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'esf passe entre la cour Br. et les colonies," &c. 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 further 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 aid of some foreign power. It gives us great pleasure to learn from you, that toute FEurope nous souhaite le plus heureux tuccis 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 1 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 postibly 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. i
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 array of near twentyfive 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 wui 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 defend our coast, notwithstanding its great extent—that we have already a small squadron of armed vessels, to protect our coasting trade, who hare had some success in taking several of the enemy's cruisers, and