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King, upon the payment of a composition of only two years' rent, with the exception of a very few persons, whom they considered as very deep malignants (as they called them), or very great offenders, such as the Marquis of Worcester, and the Earl of Derby, and four or five persons more, whose estates they did confiscate. Nothing, I apprehend, would tend more to introduce settlement and good order in the States, than the imitation of this gentle and moderate conduct; and I suppose it would produce likewise the surrender of the posts on the lakes Ontario and Erie to the new States, agreeably to the treaty of peace, till which event, the peace can hardly be considered as firmly established; and God forbid we should have any more war about these posts, or indeed any thing
My view, in the observations on the national debt, was not so much to recommend my particular method of diminishing it, in preference to other methods, as to show, that most methods were nearly equally useful for this purpose, provided the same sum of money was applied every year to that purpose, for the same number of years, without any interruption; and that those methods were the fittest to be adopted, which were least likely to be interrupted.
Your old friend, Mr. Jackson, is pretty well in health, but is not in Parliament; and Lord John Cavendish, and Mr. John Yorke, and many other gentlemen of respectable character and condition, are not so now. I should have been very happy to have seen you again in England, and so, I am persuaded, would have been many of your friends, notwithstanding the late unfortunate contentions. But, since that cannot be, and you are returning to America, I heartily wish you health and strength to bear the journey with ease, and to enjoy your friends and your situation in that part of the world; and I hope, that you will have the satisfaction of contributing, by your wisdom and moderation, to soften the animosities that now prevail there, and to introduce a spirit of peace, settlement, and good order, in their stead, and thereby crown the great work, to which you have so much contributed, of establishing those new States in liberty and independence. I remain, with great regard, &,c.
TO FRANCIS MASERES.
Results of the American Contest. — State of America. — The Loyalists. — Confiscation of Estates.
Passy, 26 June, J785.
I ,kave just received your friendly letter of the 20th instant. I agree with you perfectly in the opinion, that, though the contest has been hurtful to both our countries, yet the event, a separation, is better even for yours than success. The reducing and keeping us in subjection by an armed force would have cost you more than the dominion could be worth, and our slavery would have brought on yours. The ancient system of the British empire was a happy one, by which the colonies were allowed to govern and tax themselves. Had it been wisely continued, it is hard to imagine the degree of power and importance in the world that empire might have arrived at. All the means of growing greatness,. extent of territory, agriculture, commerce, arts, population, were within its own limits, and therefore at its command.
I used to consider that system as a large and beautiful porcelain vase; I lamented the measures that I saw likely to break it, and strove to prevent them; because, once broken, I saw no probability of its being ever repaired. My endeavours did not succeed; we are broken, and the parts must now do as well as they can for themselves. We may still do well, though separated. I have great hopes of our side, and good wishes for yours. The anarchy and confusion you mention, as supposed to prevail among us, exist only in your newspapers. I have authentic accounts, which assure me, that no people were ever better governed, or more content with their respective constitutions and governments, than the present Thirteen States of America.
A little reflection may convince any reasonable man, that a government wherein the administrators are chosen annually by the free voice of the governed, and may also be recalled at any time if their conduct displeases their constituents, cannot be a tyrannical one, as your Loyalists represent it; who at the same time inconsistently desire to return and live under it . And, among an intelligent, enlightened people, as ours is, there must always be too numerous and too strong a party for supporting good government and the laws, to suffer what is called anarchy. This better account of our situation must be pleasing to your humanity, and therefore I give it you.
But we differ a little in our sentiments respecting the Loyalists (as they call themselves), and the conduct of America towards them, which, you think, "seems actuated by a spirit of revenge; and that it would have been more agreeable to policy, as well as justice, to have restored their estates upon their taking the oaths of allegiance to the new governments." That there should still be some resentment against them in the breasts of those, who have had their houses, farms, and towns so lately destroyed, and relations scalped under the conduct of these royalists, is not wonderful; though I believe the opposition given by many to their reestablishing among us is owing to a firm persuasion, that there could be no reliance on their oaths; and that the effect of receiving those people again would be an introduction of that very anarchy and confusion they falsely reproach us with. Even the example you propose, of the English Commonwealth's restoring the estates of the royalists after their being subdued, seems rather to countenance and encourage our acting differently, as probably if the power, which always accompanies property, had not been restored to the royalists, if their estates had remained confiscated, and their persons had been banished, they could not have so much contributed to the restoration of kingly power, and the new government of the republic might have been more durable.
The majority of examples in your history are- on the other side of the question. All the estates in England and south of Scotland, and most of those possessed by the descendants of the English in Ireland, are held from ancient confiscations made of the estates of Caledonians and Britons, the original possessors in your island, or the native Irish, in the last century only. It is but a few months since, that your Parliament has, in a few instances, given up confiscations incurred by a rebellion suppressed forty years ago. The war against us was begun by a general act of Parliament, declaring all our estates confiscated; and probably one great motive to the loyalty of the royalists was the hope of sharing in these confiscations. They have played a deep game, staking their estates against ours; and they have been unsuccessful . But it is a surer game, since they had promises to rely on from your government, of indemnification in case of loss; and I see your Parliament is about to fulfil those promises. To this I have no objection, because, though still our enemies, they are men; they are in necessity; and I think even a hired assassin has a right to his pay from his employer. It seems too more reasonable, that the expense of paying these should fall upon the government who encouraged the mischief done, rather than upon us who suffered it; the confiscated estates making amends but for a very small part of that mischief. It is not, therefore, clear, that our retaining them is chargeable with injustice.
I have hinted above, that the name loyalist was improperly assumed by these people. Royalists they may perhaps be called. But the true loyalists were the people of America, against whom they acted. No people were ever known more truly loyal, and universally so, to their sovereigns. The Protestant succession in the House of Hanover was their idol. Not a Jacobite was to be found from one end of the Colonies to the other. They were affectionate to the people of England, zealous and forward to assist in her wars, by voluntary contributions of men and money, even beyond their proportion. The King and Parliament had frequently acknowledged this by public messages, resolutions, and reimbursements. But they were equally fond of what they esteemed their rights; and, if they resisted when those were attacked, it was a resistance in favor of a British constitution, which every Englishman might share in enjoying, who should come to live among them; it was resisting arbitrary impositions, that were contrary to common right and to their fundamental constitutions, and to constant ancient usage. It was indeed a resistance in favor of
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