Abbildungen der Seite
[ocr errors]

to the several colonies, stating the causes | kind, Thomas Jefferson, then one of the re which rendered it necessary that all authority presentatives in congress for Virginia: as a under the crown should be totally suppressed, document of considerable interest and curiand all the powers of government taken res- osity, and as a monument of one of the most pectively into their own hands. In support important political events in which Dr. Frankof this position, they instanced the prohibitory lin was concerned, it is here noticed. act, by which they were excluded from the In the beginning of this year, 1776, an act protection of the crown; the rejection of their of the British parliament passed, to prohibit petitions for redress of grievances, and a re- and restrain, on the one hand, the trade and conciliation; and the intended exertion of all intercourse of the refractory colonies, respecthe force of Great Britain, aided by foreign tively, during their revolt; and on the other mercenaries, for their destruction.

hand, to enable persons appointed by the BriAt length this important question was dis- tish king to grant pardons, and declare any cussed in congress, and at a time when the particular district in the king's peace, &c. fileets and armies which were sent to enforce Lord Howe (who had been previously apobedience, were truly formidable. The de pointed commander of the British fleet in bate continued for several days, and the North America) was, on May 3, declared scheme encountered great opposition from joint commissioner with his brother general several distinguished orators. Eventually, Howe, for the latter purposes of the act. He however, notwithstanding all the disadvan- sailed May 12, and while off the coast of Mas tages the country then laboured under, from sachusetts, prepared a declaration, announcing an army ignorant of discipline, and entirely this commission, and accompanied it with cirunskilled in the art of war;—without a fleet- cular letters. without allies—and with nothing but the love

Lord Howe took occasion to publish every of liberty to support them; the colonies, by where, that he had proposals to make on the their representatives in congress, determined part of Great Britain, tending to peace and to separate from a country which had added reconciliation, and that he was ready to cominjury to insult, and disregarded all the pacific municate them. He, at the same time, perovertures they had made to it

. On this ques- mitted the American general, Sullivan, to go tion Dr. Franklin was decidedly in favour of on his parole, and give this intelligence to the measure proposed, and used all his great congress: he hoped, by this means, to create influence in bringing others over to his divisions in that body, and throughout the opinion.

country. The congress were of opinion, the The public mind, which had already been admiral could have no terms to offer, but such drawn that way by the manifesto of congress, as the act of parliament empowered him to was now confirmed in its decision, by the offer, which were, PARDON upon submission ; appearance of Paine's celebrated pamphlet, yet as the people might imagine more, and Common Sense;" and there is good reason be uneasy if he was not heard, they appointed to believe, that Dr. Franklin had no incon- three of their body, Messrs. Franklin, John siderable share, at least in furnishing materials Adams, and Edward Rutledge, to meet him. for that work.*

His lordship chose Staten Island, which was It was on the 4th day of July, 1776, that in possession of the English troops, for the the thirteen English colonies in America de- place of conference. The committee being clared themselves free and independent states, arrived at Amboy, a small town in New Jerand by an act of congress abjured all alle sey, opposite to the island, and in possession giance to the British crown, and renounced of the Americans, the admiral sent over his all political connection with Great Britain. barge to receive and bring them to him, and

This public record, the first declaration of to leave one of his principal officers as a hostthe rights of a people to establish, and if ne-age for their safe return. The committee of cessary to their happiness, to abrogate their congress had not desired a hostage, and they own form of government, and to hold the so- therefore took the officer back with them. pereignty inalienably in the people, was pro- The admiral met them at their landing, and duced in a committee of three members of conducted them through his guards to a concongress; it was definitively drafted (and venient room for conference: he was surprised adopted, with a few slight alterations) by that at their confidence, in bringing back his hosteminent patriot, philosopher, and friend of man- age; and more, at the little estimation in * Thomas Paine did not affect any reserve on this don, and of inquiring into grievances. He

which they appeared to hold his offers of parthe writer of this note, that the suggestion of the pa seemed to have flattered himself, that the lin; and that the fulness of his ideas were such, that have been submissive and compliant: he found pers, Common Sense,

was made to him by Dr. Frank: congress, humbled by their late losses, would after a conversation with him, his own mind was so much excited, that he could not but communicate the himself mistaken. The committee told him spárit of the conversation in his essays : he also said firmly, that if he had nothing else to propose, that one or two papers were revised by the doctor, but with very few alterations.

he was come too late : the humble petitions VOL. I....s



of congress had been rejected with contempt; of influence in the colonies upon the terms, independence was now declared, and the new but also to effect a lasting peace and re-union government formed. And when, in endea- between the two countries; were the temper vouring to cajole them, he expressed his “af- of the colonies such as professed in the last fection for America, his concern in viewing petition of the congress to the king. Ameher dangerous situation, and said that to see rica would have judged in the discussion how her fall would give him the same pain as to far the means were adequate to the end; both see a brother fall;" they answered, that it was for engaging her confidence and proving kind, but America would endeavour to spare our integrity.

Nor did I think it necessary him that pain.

to say more in my public declaration; not They returned and reported the conference conceiving it could be understood to refer to to congress, who published it, and the people peace, on any other conditions but those of were satisfied that they had no safety but in mutual interest to both countries, which could

alone render it permanent. Part of the correspondence between lord “ But as I perceive, from the tenor of your Howe and Dr. Franklin on this occasion, and letter, how little I am to reckon upon the adthe joint report of the American commission- vantage of your assistance for restoring that ers on the result of their mission, was pub permanent union which has long been the lished; the first letter of lord Howe and the object of my endeavours, and which I flattered answer of the doctor, have been already pub myself when I left England, would be in the lished; but the reply of lord Howe, and the compass of my power; I will only add, that following prefatory note, by doctor Franklin, as the dishonour to which you deem me exhave not appeared before the present time. posed by my military situation in this country,

These letters were published in London, to has effected no change in your sentiments of show the insolence of the insurgents, in re- personal regard towards me, so shall no diffusing the offer of pardon upon submission ference in political points alter my desire of made to them by the British plenipotentiaries. proving how much I am your sincere and obe They undoubtedly deserve the attention of dient humble servant,

HOWE." the public for another reason, the proof they afford that the commerce of America is deem

To the same. ed by the ministry themselves of such vast

“ EAGLE, June 20, 1776. importance, as to justify the horrid and ex " I CANNOT, my worthy friend, permit the pensive war they are now waging, to main- letters and parcels, which I have sent (in the tain the monopoly of it; that being the prin- state I received them) to be landed, without cipal cause stated by lord Howe; though their adding a word upon the subject of the injupensioned writers and speakers in parliament rious extremities in which our unhappy dishave affected to treat that commerce as a putes have engaged us. trifle. And they demonstrate further, of how

“ You will learn the nature of


mission, much importance it is to the rest of Europe, from the official despatches, which I have rethat the continuance of that monopoly should commended to be forwarded by the same conbe obstructed, and the general freedom of veyance. Retaining all the earnestness I trade, now offered by the Americans, pre- ever expressed, to see our differences accomserved; since, by no other means, the enor- modated; I shall conceive, if I meet with mous growing power of Britain, both by sea the disposition in the colonies which I was and land, so formidable to her neighbours, and once taught to expect, the most flattering which must follow her success, can possibly hopes of proving serviceable in the objects of be prevented.

the king's paternal solicitude, by promoting the establishment of lasting peace and union

with the colonies. But if the deep-rooted “ To Dr. Franklin.

prejudices of America, and the necessity of EAGLE, off Staten Island, August 16, 1776. preventing her trade from passing into foreign “I am sorry, my worthy friend, that it is channels, must keep us still a divided peo only on the assurances you give me, of my ple; I shall

, from every private as well as having still preserved a place in your esteem, public motive, most heartily lament, that this that I can now found a pretension to trouble is not the moment wherein those great obyou with a reply to your favour of the 21st, jects of my ambition are to be attained; and past.

that I am to be longer deprived of an oppor“I can have no difficulty to acknowledge, tunity, to assure you personally of the regard that the powers I am invested with, were ne- with which I am your sincere and faithful ver calculated to negotiate a re-union with humble servant,

HOWE America, under any other description than as “ P.S. I was disappointed of the opportusubject to the crown of Great Britain : but I nity I expected for sending this letter, at the do esteem those powers competent, not only time it was dated ; and have ever since been to confer and negotiate with any gentlemen prevented by calms and contrary winds from



[ocr errors]

getting here, to inform general Howe of the alliances. But I am persuaded you have no commission with which I have the satisfaction such powers. Your nation, though, by punishto be charged, and of his being joined in it. ing those American governors who have fo Off of Sandy Hook, 12th of July. mented the discord, rebuilding our burnt

(Superscribed, Howe.) towns, and repairing as far as possible the To Benjamin Franklin, Esq.

mischiefs done us, she might recover a great Philadelphia."

share of our regard, and the greatest share

of our growing commerce, with all the ad" Dr. Franklin to Lord Howe. vantages of that additional strength, to be de

* PHILADELPHIA, July 30, 1776. rived from a friendship with us; yet I know MY LORD,—I received, safe, the letters too well her abounding pride and deficient your lordship so kindly forwarded to me, and wisdom, to believe she will ever take such beg you to accept my thanks.

salutary measures. Her fondness for con* The official dispatches to which you request as a warlike nation; her lust of domifer me, contain nothing more than what we nion as an ambitious one; and her thirst for a had seen in the act of parliament, viz. "Offers gainful monopoly as a commercial one (none of pardon upon submission;' which I was of them legitimate causes of war) will join to sorry to find; as it must give your lordship hide from her eyes every view of her true pain to be sent so far on so hopeless a bu- interest, and continually goad her on in these

ruinous distant expe ions, so destructive both Directing pardons to be offered to the co- of lives and of treasure, that they must prove lonies

, who are the very parties injured, ex- as pernicious to her in the end, as the Croipresses indeed that opinion of our ignorance, sades formerly were to most of the nations of baseness

, and insensibility, which your unin- Europe. formed and proud nation has long been pleased

“I have not the vanity, my lord, to think In entertain of us; but it can have no other of intimidating, by thus predicting the effects effect than that of increasing our resent of this war; for I know it will in England ments. It is impossible we should think of have the fate of all my former predictions ; submission to a government, that has, with not to be believed till the event shall vethe most wanton barbarity and cruelty, burn- rify it. ed our defenceless towns in the midst of win Long did I endeavour, with unfeigned ter; excited the savages to massacre our and unwearied zeal, to preserve from break(peaceful) farmers; instigated our slaves to ing that fine and noble porcelain vase—the murder their masters; and is even now* British empire; for I knew that being once bringing foreign

mercenaries to deluge our broken, the separate parts could not retain settlements with blood. These atrocious in- even their share of the strength and value juries have extinguished every spark of affec- that existed in the whole ; and that a perfect tion for that parent country we once held so re-union of those parts could scarce ever be dear

: but were it possible for us to forget and hoped for. Your lordship may possibly reforgive them, it is not possible for you (I mean member the tears of joy that wetted my the British nation) to forgive the people you cheek, when, at your good sister's in London, hare so heavily injured; you can never con- you once gave me expectations, that a reconfide again in those as fellow-subjects, and ciliation might soon take place. I had the permit them to enjoy equal freedom, to whom misfortune to find these expectations disappou know you have given such just causes pointed, and to be treated as the cause of the of lasting enmity; and this must impel you, mischief I was labouring to prevent. My were we again under your government, to consolation under that groundless and malevó endeavour the breaking our spirit by the se- lent treatment, was, that I retained the friendFerest tyranny, and obstructing by every ship of many wise and good men in that counmeans in your power our growing strength try; and among the rest, some share in the

regard of lord Howe. “But your lordship mentions the king's * The well-founded esteem, and permit me paternal solicitude for promoting the esta- to say affection, which I shall always have blishment of lasting peace and union with the for your lordship, make it painful to me to see Colonies? If by peace is here meant, a peace you engaged in conducting a war, the great to be entered into by distinct states, now at ground of which (as described in your letter) *ar; and his majesty has given your lordship is the necessity of preventing the American powers to treat with us of such a peace, 1 trade from passing into foreign channels.' To muy venture to say, though without authority, me it seems that neither the obtaining or rethat I think a treaty for that purpose not quite taining any trade, how valuable

soever, is an inpracticable, before we enter into foreign object for which men may justly spill each

other's blood; that the true and sure means * About this time the Hessians, &c. had arrived from of extending and securing commerce, are the Europe, and were landed at Staten Island and New

goodness and cheapness of commodities; and

and prosperity.


« ZurückWeiter »