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[233] We have seen Edward Rutledge defeated in
Chap. LVI} 1776. Jan.
his attempt to compel their discharge; in October, the conference at the camp, with Franklin, Harrison, and Lynch, thought it proper to exclude them from the new enlistment; but Washington, at the crisis of his distress, finding that they were very much dissatisfied at being discarded, took the responsibility of reversing the decision; and referred the subject to congress. That body appointed Wythe, Samuel Adams, and Wilson, to deliberate on the question; and on the report of their able committee they voted, ‘that the free negroes who had served faithfully in the army at Cambridge, might be reenlisted therein, but no others.’ The right of free negroes to take part in the defence of the country having thus been definitively established by the competent tribunal, they served in the ranks of the American armies during every period of the war.

The enlistments were embarrassed by the low state of Washington's military chest. He could neither pay off the old army to the last of December, when their term expired, nor give assurances for the punctual pay of the militia. At one time in January he had but about ten thousand dollars at Cambridge; and that small sum was held in reserve. It would have been good policy to have paid a large bounty and engaged recruits for the war; but this measure congress refused to warrant; and it was left to the government of Massachusetts, with the aid of the rest of New England, to keep up the numbers of the army while it remained on her soil. For that end five thousand of her militia were summoned to the field, and they came with alacrity.

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