Abbildungen der Seite

long futurity, through every successive age, shall impart increase of glory. The joys of self-complacency shall gild the evening of his days. They will also he the earnest of an happiness which will know no bounds. John Jeeb.

, no. :: t i .i-v . . :;mntr.vtetUmc

To Samuel Huntington, Esq. wuiunt

Cuptvre of Mr. Laurens—Confined in the Tower of ]LbW don,&c.' r niuar?

[extract.] Pussy, Dec. 3, 17S0.

"The news of Mr. Laurens being taken, mnst have reached you long since. He is confined in, the Tower, but of late has some more liberty for taking air and exercise than first was allowed him. Certain papers found with Him relating to the drafts of a treaty proposed in Holland, have heen sent over to the stadtholder, who laid them before their high mightinesses, who communicated them to the government of the city of Amsterdam; which justified the transaction. This has drawn from England, a memorial delivered by Sir Joseph Yorke, demanding that the pensionary and


the king, .which I have the honor of putting herewith into the hand* of your excellency.

I am charged at the same time to represent in the strongest terms the unalterable resolution of the United States, to maintain their liberties and independence, and inviolably to adhere to the alliance at every hazard, and in every event; and that the misfortunes of the last campaign, instead of repressing, have redoubled their ardor; that congress are resolved to employ every resource in their power to expel the enemy from every part of the United States, by the most vigorous and decisive co.operation with the marine and other forces of their illustrious ally: that they have accordingly called on the several states, for a powerful army and ample supplies of provisions; and that the states are disposed effectually to comply with their requisitions.

That if in aid of their own exertions, the court of France can be prevailed on to assume a naval superiority in the American seas, to furnish the arms, ammunition, and clothing specified in the estimate heretofore transmitted, and to assist with the loan mentioned in the letter, they flatter themselves that under the divine blessing, the war must speedily be terminated with glory and advantage to both nations. By several letters to me from intelligent persons it appears, that the great and expensive exertions of the last year, by which a force « as assembled capable of facing the enemy, and which accordingly drew towards New York and lay long near that city, were rendered ineffectual by the superiority of the enemy at sea, and that their success in Carolina, had been chiefly owing to that superiority, and to the want of the necessary means for furnishing, marching, and paying the expense of troops, sufficient to defend that province.

The Marquis de la Fayette writes to me that it is impossible to conceive, without seeing it, the distress the troops have isuffered for want of clothing; and the folio wing* is a paragraph of a fetter from General Washington, which i ought not to keep baok from your excellency; viz.:—

"1 doubt not you are so fully informed by congress of our political and military state, that it would be superfluous to trouble you with any thing relative to either. If I were to speak on topics of the kind, it would be to show, that our present situation makes one of two things essential to us—a peace—or the most vigorous aid of our allies, particularly in the article of money; of their disposition to serve us we cannot doubt: their generosity will do every thing their means will permit."

They had in America great expectations, I know not on what foundation, that a considerable supply of money would be obtained from Spain, but that expectation has failed: and the force of that nation in those seas has been employed to reduce small forts in Florida, without rendering any direct assistance to the United States; and indeed the long delay of that court in acceding to the treaty of commerce, begins to have the appearance of not inclining to have any connection with us; so that for effectual friendship, and for the. aid so necessary in the present conjuncture, we can rely on France alone, and in the continuance of the king's goodness towards us. v . " .

1 am grown old, I feel myself much enfeebled by my late long illness, and it is probable I shall not long have any more concern in these affairs. I therefore take this occasion to express my opinion to your excellency, that the present conjuncture is critical; that there is some danger lest thfe congress should lose its influence over the people, if it is found unable to procure the aids that are wanted; and that the whole system of the new government in America may thereby be shaken.

That if the English are suffered once to recover that country, such an opportunity of effectual separation as the present, may not occur again in the course of ages: and that the possession of those fertile and extensive regions, and that vast sea coast, will afford thetn so broad a basis for future greatness, by the rapid growth of their commerce, and breed of seamen and soldiers, as will enable them to become the terror of Europe, and to exercise with impunity that insolence which is so natural to their nation, and which will increase enormously with the increase of their power. I am with great respect, &c. B. Franklin.

To His Excellency John Adams, Esg.

Duties on American exports,8fc. . ,: ;>_

[extract.] Passy,May 19, 1781.

"I have with you no doubt that America will be easily able to pay off not only the interest but the principal of all the debt she may contract in this war. But whether duties upon her exports will be the best method of doing it, is a question I am not so clear in. England raised indeed a great revenue by duties on tobacco. But it was by virtue of a prohibition of foreign tobaccos, and thereby obliging the internal consumer to pay those duties. If America were to lay a duty of five pence sterling per lb. on the exportation of ber tobacco, would any European nation buy it? Would not the colonies of Spain and Portugal, and the Ukraine of Russia furnish it much cheaper? Was not England herself obliged for such reasons to drop the duty dn tobacco she furnished to France: Would it not cost an immense sum in officers, Sec. to guard our long coast against smuggling of tobacco, and running out to avoid a duty? - and would not many even of those officers be corrupted and connive at it? It is possibly an erroneous opinion, but I find myself rather inclined to adopt that modern one which supposes it best for every country to leave its trade entirely free from all incu.m-; brances. Perhaps no country does this at present; Holland conies the nearest to it; and her commercial wealth seems to have increased in proportion.

Your excellency has done me the honor of announcing to me your appointment: I hope soon to return the compliment by informing you of my dismission. I find the various employments of merchant, banker, judge of admiralty, consul, Sec. Sec. besides my ministerial function, too multifarious and too heavy for my old shoulders; and have therefore requested congress that I may be relieved: for in this point 1 agree even with my enemies, that another may easily be found who can better execute them. B. Franklin.

To The Rev. Dr. Cooper.

New constitution of MassachusettsMaintenance of the


Dear Sir, Passy, May 25, 1781.

It gives me great pleasure to learn that your new • constitution is at length settled with so great a degree of unanimity and general satisfaction. It seems to me upon the whole an excellent one; and that if there are some particulars that one might have wished a little different, they are such as could not in the present state of things have been well obtained otherwise than they are, and if by experience found inconvenient, will probably be changed hereafter. I would only mention at present one article, that of maintenance for the clergy. It seems to me that by the constitution the Quakers may be obliged to pay the tax for that purpose. But as the great end in imposing it is professedly the promotion of piety,

Vol. i. 2 F

« ZurückWeiter »