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such caution, as to keep the same from the knowlege 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.
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 army 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 will 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 have had some success in taking several of the enemy's cruizers, and some of their transport vessels and store-ships. This little naval force we are about to augment, and expect it may be more considerable in the next summer.
We have hitherto applied to no foreign power. We are using the utmost industry in endeavoring to make saltpetre, and with daily increasing success. Our artificers are also every where busy in fabricating small arms, casting cannon, &c. yet both arms and ammunition are much wanted. Any merchants, who would venture to send ships, laden with those articles, might make great profit; such is the demand in every colony, and such generous prices are and will be given ; of which, and of the manner of conduct-' ing such a voyage, the bearer, Mr. Storey, can more fully inform you : and whoever brings in those articles, is al. lowed to carry off the value in provisions, to our West In
dies, where they will probably fetch a very high price, the general exportation from North America being stopped. This you will see more particularly in a printed resolution of the congress.
We are in great want of good engineers, and wish you could engage, and send us two able ones, in time for the next campaign, one acquainted with field service, sieges, &c. and the other with fortifying of sea-ports. They will, if well recommended, be made very welcome, and have honorable appointments, besides the expences of their voyage hither, in which Mr. Storey can also advise them. As what we now request of you, besides taking up your time, may put you to some expence, we send you for the present, enclosed, a bill for one hundred pounds sterling, to defray such expences, and desire you to be assured that your services will be considered, and honorably rewarded by the congress,
We desire, also, that you would take the trouble of receiving from Arthur Lee, esquire, agent for the congress in England, such letters as may be sent by him to your care, and of forwarding them to us with your dispatches. When you have occasion to write to him to inform him of any thing, which it may be of importance that our friends there should be acquainted with, please to send your letters to him, under cover, directed to Mr. Alderman Lee, mer. chant, on Tower-hill, London; and do not send it by post, but by some trusty shipper, or other prudent person, who will deliver it with his own hand. And when you send to us, if you have not a direct safe opportunity, we recommend sending by way of St. Eustatia, to the care of Messrs. Robert and Cornelius Stevenson, merchants there, who will forward your dispatches to me. With sincere and great esteem and respect, I am, Sir, &c.
IN the year 1776, an act of the British parliament passed, to prohibit and. restrain, on the one hand, the trade and intercourse of the refractory colonies respectively during their revolt; and on the other hand, to enable persons appointed by the British king to grant pardons, and declare any particular district in the king's peace, &c. Lord Howe(who had been previously appointed commander of the British fleet in North America) was, on May 3, declared joint commissioner with his brother general Howe, for the latter purposes of the act. He sailed May 12, and while off the coast of Massachusetts, prepared a declaration, announcing this commission, and accompanied it with circular letters. July 4, indepen. dence had been declared; but nevertheless congress (invited by various attempts made to procure a conference) resolved to send Messieurs Franklin, J. Adams, and E. Rutledge, to learn the propositions of the commissioners, by whom authorised, and to whom addressed. The English commissioners it appeared had no power to treat with congress in its representative capacity, and congress had not impowered their representatives to rescind the act of independence. The reference was of course broken off where it begun. On Sept. 19, the British commissioners declared themselves ready to confer with any of the well. affected, on the means of restoring peace and permanent union with every colony as part of the British empire ; and promised a revision of the several royal instructions supposed to lay improper restraints on colony-legislation, and also the - king's concurrence in a revisionof the objectionable acts of parliament: which seemed to be the ultimatum of the commission. T'he British parliament how. ever, by a subsequent act (which, among other things, formally renounced the power of taxation in North America and the West Indies) authorised five com. missioners to treat, settle, and agree, even with congress; but subject to the farther confirmation of parliament. Lord Carlisle, and commodore Johnston, and sir William Eden, with the commanders in chief of the land and sea forces, were the commissioners appointed by the British king under this act; and Dr. Adam Ferguson the historian, was made secretary to the commission.
Mr. Henry Strachey had been secretary to the first commission, attended with the following singular circumstance, as stated in the British house of lords. In this commission for restoring peace to America, “(or in other words to induce America at once to puta confidence in the British king, and to believe that the parliament of England was a sufficiently powerful and honest barrier for them to trust to) the secretary (Mr. Strachey) had sool. granted for life out of the four and a half per cent, duties, filched by the crown from the West-India Islands, and in opposition to a solemn address of parliament, desiring that it might be applied to the original purposes for which it was granted by the respective as. ' semblies of the islands."
Letter from Lord Howe to Dr. Franklin.
Eagle, June 20, 1776. I CANNOT, my worthy friend, permit the letters and parcels, which I have sent (in the state I received them) to be landed, without adding a word upon the subject of the
injurious extremities in which our unhappy disputes have engaged us.
You will learn the nature of my mission, from the official dispatches, which I have recommended to be forwarded by the same conveyance. Retaining all the earnestness I ever expressed, to see our differences accommodated; I shall conceive, if I meet with the disposition in the colonies which I was once taught to expect, the most flattering hopes of proving serviceable in the objects of the king's paternal solicitude, by promoting the establishment of lasting peace and union with the colonies. But if the deep-rooted prejudices of America, and the necessity of preventing her trade from passing into foreign channels, must keep us still a divided people; I shall, from every private as well as public motive, most heartily lament, that this is not the moment wherein those great objects of my ambition are to be attained; and that I am to be longer deprived of an opportunity, to assure you personally of the regard with which I am Your sincere and faithful Humble servant,
HOWE. P.S. I was disappointed of the opportunity I expected for sending this letter, at the time it was dated; and have ever since been prevented by calms and contrary winds from getting here, to inform general Howe of the commission with which I have the satisfaction to be charged, and of his being joined in it. Off of Sandy Hook, 12th of July.
Superscribed, Howe. To Benjamin Franklin, Esq.
Dr. Franklin's Answer to Lord Howe.
Philadelphia, July 30, 1776. MY LORD, I RECEIVED safe the letters your lordship so kindly forwarded to me, and beg you to accept my thanks.
The official dispatches to which you refer me, contain nothing more than what we had seen in the act of parliament, viz. “ Offers of pardon upon submission;" which I was sorry to find; as it must give your lordship pain to be sent so far on so hopeless a business.
Directing pardons to be offered to the colonies, who are the very parties injured, expresses indeed that opinion of our ignorance, baseness, and insensibily, which your uninformed and proud nation has long been pleased to entertain of us; but it can have no other effect than that of encreasing our resentments........ It is impossible we should think of submission to a government, that has, with the most wanton barbarity and cruelty, burned our defenceless towns in the midst of winter; excited the savages to massacre our (peaceful) farmers; instigated our slaves to murder their masters; and is even now bringing foreign mercenaries to deluge our settlements with blood. These atrocious injuries have extinguished every spark of affection for that parent country we once held so dear: but were it possible for us to forget and forgive them, it is not possible for you (I mean the British nation) to forgive the people you have so heavily injured; you can never confide again in those as fellow-subjects, and permit them to enjoy equal freedom, to whom you know you have given such just causes of lasting enmity; and this must impel you, were we again under your government, to endeavor the breaking our spirit by the severest tyranny, and obstructing by every means in your power our growing strength and prosperity.
v About this time the Hessians, &c. had arrived from Europe, and were landed at Staten Island and New York.