« ZurückWeiter »
dier will surely induce your excellency and a military tribunal to adapt the mode of my death to the feelings of a man of honour. Let me hope, Sir, that if ought in my character impresses you with esteem towards me as the victim of policy and not resentment, I shall experience the operation of those feelings in your breast by being informed that I am not to die on a gibbet.”
This request could not be granted. The truth was not concealed from him, and the compassion which he at first inspired gave place to a feeling of admiration, when it was seen with what serenity he went to execution. He met his doom without pusillanimity, and which is more rare-without an ostentation of courage. His demeanor was that of the bravest of men placed by the order of his general on a mine about to explode and hurl him to instant destruction.
Some have exclaimed against fate, for a catastrophe so unmerited, while the real criminal survived. The death of André was, however, a beatitude in comparison with the life of Arnold. He survived indeed, but to drag on, in perpetual banishment from his native country, a dishonourable life amid a nation that imputed to him the loss so much deplored. He transmitted to his children an abject name of hateful celebrity. He obtained only a part of the debasing stipend of an abortive treason. His complaints soon caused it to be known that all the promises by which he had been inveigled, were not fulfilled. But a baffled treason appears always to be overpaid, and the felon is the only one who thinks that he experiences injustice.
He enjoyed, however, the rank of brigadier-general in the English army, and served against the Americans in this capacity during the rest of the war. The English affected to give him their entire confidence, hoping to make thereby other apostates. He published addresses to the inhabitants of America and to the army, in which he exhorted them to emancipate themselves from the tyranny of their demagogues. He inveighed with particular asperity against France “ the enemy of the pro" testant faith, and fraudulently avowing a regard for the liber“ ties of mankind, while she held her native sons in vassalage “ and chains.” He justified his perfidy by the topics of reasoning common to traitors;—which deceive no one, and still less themselves.
All these efforts were nugatory.- Arnold is the only American officer who forsook the cause of independence, and turned his sword against his country. The officers of the British army manifested a strong repugnance to serve with him. He possessed their esteem, while he fought against them. They loaded him with contempt, when treason brought him over to their side: The rest of his life was exceedingly wretched. His vices plunged him in an abyss of misfortune, which his general qualities were ill-adapted to soften.
General Washington had not forgotten the three young militiamen who arrested André. He transmitted their names to Congress. This body immediately passed the following resolution:
“ That congress have a high sense of the virtuous and patri“ otic conduct of the said John Paulding, David Williams, and “ Isaac Van Wart.
“ In testimony whereof,
“ Ordered, That each of them receive annually, out of the public "treasury, two hundred dollars in specie, or an equivalent in the “current money of these states, during life; and that the board “ of war procure for each of them a silver medal, on one side of “ which shall be a shield with this inscription: “ Fidelity,”-and “on the other, the following motto: Vincit amor patriæ,--and “ forward them to the commander in chief, who is requested to “ present the same, with a copy of this resolution, and the thanks " of Congress, for their fidelity, and the eminent services they “have rendered their country.”
Doubtless, the highest honours should, by universal consent, be awarded to those citizens, who have been fortunate enough to preserve their country from a great calamity. It is of such distinctions, that men of an elevated character, are most ambitious of proving themselves worthy. But there is yet more merit and virtue in doing well without ambition or the hope of reward.
These three young men had not thought of blazoning an action in which they had but performed their duty. They learned with surprise, that Washington had caused search to be made for them, in order to deliver to them this memorial of public esteem and gratitude. Their families are held in veneration, and the names of John Paulding, David Williams, and Isaac Van Wart, will be celebrated and cherished in all after ages.
This issue of a plot on which England had built such towering hopes, and which was contrived with so much art, corroborated the discipline of the American army; raised the courage, and increased the strength of the republicans. They were confirmed in the hatred which they bore their enemy: The danger from which they had just escaped, as if by miracle, taught them the necessity of redoubling their vigilance, and of excluding from their counsels, the more effectually to guard the unanimity of them, all persons who were not of tried virtue.
This nation of Americans, who have no doubts of a Divine Providence even in the most inconsiderable events, acknow
ledged, on the occasion, that to this Providence they owed their safety, that of Washington, and of the army. Thanks were solemnly offered up to God in the temples, and in the bosom of families; and it was from the bottom of their hearts that these religious men poured out the tribute of their gratitude.
Prosperous until now in all their enterprises, may Heaven preserve to them the spirit of justice and moderation by which they have been constantly guided! Fortune will not fail them.
UNIFORMITY OF ELECTION. MR. PICKENS, of North-Carolina, rose to make a motion on a subject which he had for some time considered of great importance to the national interest. Although he had heretofore in vain pressed it on the consideration of the house, he thought the change of the circumstances of the nation, and the harmonious relations of political parties, at present, justified the hope that he should now meet with better success. The proposition he was about to submit had at different times been supported by the unanimous vote of both branches of the legislature of North-Carolina; and under the sanction of this respectable authority, he thought it his duty again to offer it to the consideration of the house, which he did in the following shape:
Resolved, by the senate and house of representative of the United States in congress assembled, two-thirds of both houses concurring therein, that the following amendment to the Constitution of the United States, be proposed to the legislatures of the several states, which, when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the said states, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as a part of the said constitution:
“For the purpose of choosing representatives in the congress of the United States, each state shall be divided by its legislature into a number of districts, equal to the number of reprer sentatives to which the state may be entitled each district shall contain as nearly as may be equal numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, in, cluding those bound to serye for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons, In each district, the qualified voters shall elect one representative,
“ For the purpose of choosing electors of president and vice president of the United States, each state shall be divided by its legislature into a number of districts, equal to the number of electors to which the state may be entitled; each district shall contain, as nearly as may be, equal numbers, which shall be de: termined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to serve for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all other persons. In each district persons qualified to yote for representatives in the congress of the United States, shall choose one elector. The legis. lature of each state shall have power to regulate the manner of holding elections, and making returns of the electors, In case all the electors should not meet at the time and place appointed for giving their votes, a majority of the electors met shall have power, and forthwith proceed to supply the vacancy:
" A division of the states into districts for choosing representatives in the congress of the United States, and into districts for choosing electors of president and vice-president of the United States, shall take place as soon as conveniently may be after each enumeration and apportionment of representatives shall be made; which districts shall remain unaltered, until after the succeeding enumeration and apportionment of represen: tatives.”
The resolution was twice read and referred to a committee of the whole,
December 17, 1816. The house having resolved itself into a committee of the whole on the state of the union, Mr. Smith, of Maryland, in the chair:
Mr. PICKENS rose to support his proposition. In no other gase can it be more important, he said, that the law should be fixed and uniform, than in the exercise of the right of suffrage, This is the only link between the people and their government, To preserve this connexion, this right should not only be ex: ercised in fact, but in such manner as to ensure it confidence and respect. For this purpose it would seem essential, that the mode of election should be fair in relation to different parts; that it should be free from sudden changes; that it should be as direct a communication of the public will as conveniently might be, and in a manner the most pure.