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REVOLUTIONARY DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENCE
EDITED UNDER DIRECTION OF CONGRESS
BY FRANCIS WHARTON,
PRELIMINARY INDEX, AND NOTES HISTORICAL AND LEGAL.
PUBLISHED IN CONFORMITY WITH ACT OF CONGRESS
OF AUGUST 13, 1888.
Washington to Luzerne.*
HEADQUAPTERS, November 13, 1782. SIR: I am honored with your excellency's letter of the 6th instaut, on a subject not more distressing to you, sir, than to myself. I have, at various periods of the war, written to Congress and to the States, endeavoring to convince them of the necessity of passing the most vigor. ous laws to prevent the inhabitants from furnishing the enemy with provisions. I will write them again and will use every argument I am master of for that purpose. In all other nations, I believe, the persons guilty of that crime are punished with death, and unless the States on this continent will pass similar laws, I see no means of putting a stop to that destructive practice. Anything the military could do in that matter would be in vain. To post as many guards as would be necessary would be destructive to the army, as those guards would be con. tipually liable to be cut off by the enemy, and, indeed, the whole army would not suffice to guard the extensive coasts where this illicit com. merce is carried on. I have the honor to be, &c.,
Washington to Captain Asgill.
HEADQUARTERS, November 13, 1782. SIR: It affords me singular pleasure to have it in my power to trans. mit you the enclosed copy of an act of Congress of the 7th instant by which you are released from the disagreeable circumstances in which you have so long been. Supposing you would wish to go into New York as soon as possible, I also enclose a passport for that purpose.
Your letter of the 18th of October came regularly to my hand. I beg you to believe that my not answering it sooner did not proceed from
* MSS. Dep. of State; 6 Sparks' Dip. Rev. Corr., 100.
16 Sparks' Dip. Rev. Corr., 99. See other letters respecting Captain Asgill's case, Bupra, July 29, October 25, November 6 and 9, 1782.
inattention to you, or a want of feeling for your situation; I daily ex. pected a determination of your case and I thought it better to wait that than to feed you with hopes that might in the end prove fruitless. You will attribute my detention of the enclosed letters, which have been in my hands about a fortnight, to the same cause.
I can not take leave of you, sir, without assuring you that, in whatever light my agency in this unpleasing affair may be received, I never was influenced through the whole of it by sanguinary motives, but by what I conceived a sense of my duty, which loudly called upon me to take measures, however disagreeable, to prevent a repetition of those enormities wbich have been the subject of discussion, and that this im. portant end is likely to be answered without the effusion of the blood of an innocent person, is not a greater relief to you than it is to, sir, your most obedient and humble servant,
Livingston to Jefferson.*
PHILADELPHIA, November 13, 1782. SIR: I have the honor to transmit a resolution of Congress appointng you one of their ministers plenipotentiary for negociating peace. I rejoice in this fresh proof of their confidence in your virtue and abili. ties. The sacrifices you have heretofore made to the interests of your country, induce me to hope that you will suffer no personal considera. tion to prevent their being employed in its service upon this important occasion. I have the honor to be, &c.,
ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON.
Dumas to Livingston.t
THE HAGUE, November 15, 1782. SIR: Yesterday morning, after a conference with his excellency the Duc de la Vauguyon, I went in a post chaise to Rotterdam and Dort in order to advise our friends in these two cities of some changes about to be made in the instructions of their ministers plenipotentiary at Paris to deprive the English minister of all pretext for conferring with those of the other belligerent powers without them. I succeeded to the satisfaction of bis excellency, and our friends were duly informed and disposed, when they received this morning, while I was returning, letters on this subject from the grand pensionary. My journey has gained the time which would have been lost if they had, on reassem. bling here, taken the thing ad referendum.
* MSS. Dep. of State; 6 Sparks' Dip. Rev. Corr., 201. 5 Sparks' Dip. Rev. Corr., 359.
NOVEMBER 17. I had the pleasure to receive this morning, on behalf of the ambassador absent at Amsterdam, the news of the readmission of M. Van Berckel, first pensionary of Amsterdam, to the assembly of their noble and grand mightinesses, where he will reappear on the 20th radiant as the sun, disjectis nubibus.
There has arrived a circular letter from Friesland to take away from the prince the direction of affairs. I shall have it and will add it to the gazettes.
NOVEMBER 18. On my return Friday evening I found, sir, your favors of the 5th and · 12th of September, to which I can only answer succinctly, that the
present may not be delayed. I have thought a long time how much it might be advantageous both for Congress and for me, as you observe, sir, if I could enter into a minute and frequent detail of all that passes bere witbin the sphere of my action. But let Congress remember at last that qui vult finem, vult media, being both essential and subsidary. I labor all day. Often I have scarcely timely left to note briefly for myself what is done or said. I am alone. It is necessary to copy the same despatches four times if one would hope for their arrival. I could have many things to say on all this. But to what good if Congress does not say it also I have not put my light under a bushel. I bave made it shine constantly before both worlds for the service of the United States since they have called me here.
If the truths I transmit come more slowly than the falsehoods of the enemy which they may serve to contradict, it is because they may forge stories as they please, but not the truth, which arrives when it can, and which, besides, can not always be hazarded prematurely, still less be foretold, especially when the enemy might profit by it.
As to peace, we know not here what has been done about it at Paris. My opinion is that two or three more campaigns will be infinitely more salutary to the American confederation than a patched-up peace, which shall leave the enemy possessor of Canada, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland, whence he would not cease nor be slow to vex you by all manner of means, perhaps to divide you, which will be worse. But let us wait what Parliament says at the end of this month, then we may be able to say of the congress of peace what the poet Rousseau, in his Ode to Fortune, said of a hero becoming a man again:
Le masque tombe, George reste,
And so inuch the better, I think, for America and for this Republic. I am, with very great respect, sir,
DUMAS. P. S.-I thank you, sir, for the excellent letter of Mr. Paine to the Abbé Raynal. If it is possible I shall publish it in French.