How far America
had achieved independence at the time of the French
confined between ridges three miles apart, the Susquehanna
, for a little more than twenty miles, winds through the valley of Wyoming
Abrupt rocks, rent by tributary streams, rise on the east, while the western declivities are luxuriantly fertile.
, whose charter from Charles the Second was older than that of Pennsylvania
, using its prior claim to lands north of the Mamaroneck river
, had colonized this beautiful region and governed it as its county of Westmoreland
The settlements, begun in 1754, increased in numbers and wealth till their annual tax amounted to two thousand pounds in Connecticut
In the winter of 1776, the people aided Washington
with two companies of infantry, though their men were all needed to protect their own homes.
Knowing the alliance of the British
with the Six Nations, they built a line of ten forts as places of refuge.
The Seneca tribe kept fresh in memory their chiefs
and braves who fell in the conflict with the New York husbandmen at Oriskany
Their king, Sucingerachton, was both in war and in council the foremost man in all the Six Nations.
Compared with him, the Mohawk
, who had been but very lately known upon the war path, was lightly esteemed.1
His attachment to the English
increased to a passion on the alliance of America
with the French
, for whom he cherished implacable hate.
Through his interest, and by the blandishments of gifts and pay and chances of revenge, Colonel John Butler
lured the Seneca
warriors to cross the border of Pennsylvania
under the British
The party of savages and rangers, numbering between five hundred and seven hundred men, fell down the Tioga river
, and on the last day of June hid in
the forests above Wyoming
The next day the two
northernmost forts capitulated.
The men of Wyoming
, old and young, with one regular company, in all hardly more than three hundred, took counsel with one another, and found no hope of deliverance for their families but through a victorious encounter with a foe of twice their number, and more skilful in the woods than themselves.
On the third of July, the
devoted band, led by Colonel Zebulon Butler
, who had just returned from the continental service, began their march up the river.
The horde of invaders, pretending to retreat, couched themselves on the ground in an open wood.
The villagers of Wyoming
began firing as they drew near, and at the third vol-
ley stood within one hundred yards of the ambush, when the Seneca
braves began the attack and were immediately seconded by the rangers.
gave no quarter, and in less than a half hour took two hundred and twenty-five scalps, among them those of two field officers and seven captains.
The rangers saved the lives of but five of their captives.2
On the British
side only two whites were killed and eight Indians wounded.
The next day the remaining forts, filled chiefly with women and children, capitulated.
The long and wailing procession of the survivors, flying from their fields of corn, their gardens, the flames of their cottages, the unburied bodies of their beloved defenders, escaped by a pass through the hills to the eastern settlements.
Every fort and dwelling was burned down.
spread over the surrounding country, adepts in murder and ruin.
The British leader boasted in his report that his party had burned a thousand houses and every mill; Germain
in reply extolled their prowess and even their humanity,3
and resolved on directing a succession of similar parties, not only to harass the border, but to waste the older settlements.
Yet the marauders came to destroy and deal deaths, not to recover and hold; and the ancient affection for England
was washed out in blood.
When the leader of the inroad turned to desolate other scenes, Pennsylvania
was left in the undisputed possession of her soil.
After the retreat of the British
, her government,
as well as that of New Jersey
, used the right of bringing to trial those of their citizens who had been false to their allegiance; but Livingston
, the governor of New Jersey
, pardoned every one of seventeen who were found guilty.
, against his intercession, two men, one of whom had conducted a British party to a midnight carnage, were convicted, and suffered on the gallows.
Regret prevailed that these also had not been forgiven.
Before the co-operation of the arms of France
had substantially achieved their existence as a nation.
The treaties of alliance with them had not yet been signed, when Vergennes
wrote ‘that it was almost physically impossible for the English
to wrest independence from them; that all efforts, however great, would be powerless to recall a people so thoroughly determined to refuse submission.’
On the side of the sea, from Nova Scotia
, the British
held no post except the island of Rhode Island
and New York city with a small circle around its bay. No hostile foot rested on the mainland of New England
were still at Ogdensburg
, and Detroit
; but the Americans
held the country from below the Highlands to the water-shed of Ontario
Over the Mississippi
and its eastern tributary streams the British
flag waved no more.
had gained vigor in the conflict: the love and the exercise of individual liberty, though they hindered the efficiency of government, made them unconquerable.
The British soldier had nothing before him but to be transferred from one of the many provinces of Britain to another, perhaps to the
, perhaps to India
: he did what he was
bound to do with the skill of a veteran; but he had no ennobling motive, no prospect of a home, and no living patriotism.
The American looked beyond danger to the enjoyment of freedom and peace in a family and country of his own. His service in the camp exalted his moral character: he toiled and suffered for the highest ends, and built up a republic not for his own land only, but for the benefit of the human race.
Moreover, the inmost mind of the American
people had changed.
The consciousness of a national life had dissolved the sentiment of loyalty to the crown of England
More than three years had elapsed since the shedding of blood at Lexington
; and these years had done the work of a generation.
a similar revolution had taken place.
The insurgents, losing the name of rebels, began to be called Americans
Officers, returning from the war, said openly that ‘no person of judgment conceived the least hope that the colonies could be subjected by force.’
Some British statesmen thought to retain a political, or at least a commercial, connection; while many were willing to give them up unconditionally.
Even before the surrender of Burgoyne
, a member of the Board of Trade, confessed that, though England
had sent to America
the greatest force which any European
power ever ventured to transport into that continent, it was not strong enough to attack its enemy, nor to prevent them from receiving assistance.
The war ‘measures’ of the administration were, therefore, ‘so repugnant to sound policy that they ceased to
After that surrender,5
he agreed that,
since ‘the substance of power was lost, the name of independence might be granted to the Americans
coupled his retirement from active service with the avowal that the disposable resources of his country could produce no decisive result.
‘Things go ill, and will not go better,’ wrote the chief of the new commission for establishing peace.
The successor of General Howe
reported himself too weak to attempt the restoration of the king's authority.
had no plan for the coming campaign but to lay the colonies waste.
The prime minister, who had been at the head of affairs from 1770, owned in anguish the failure of his system, and deplored its continuance.
Should the Americans
ratify the French
alliance, Lord Amherst, who was the guide of the ministry in the conduct of the war, recommended the evacuation of New York and Rhode Island
and the employment of the troops against the French West Indies
But the radical change of opinion was shown most clearly by the votes of parliament.
In February, 1774, the house of commons, in a moment of unrestrained passion; adopted measures for enforcing the traditional absolutism of parliament by majorities of three to one: corresponding majorities in February, 1778, reversed its judgment, repealed the punitive
acts, and conceded every thing which the colonies
There was ‘a general cry for peace.’6
The king, in January, 1778, confessed to Lord North: ‘The time may come when it will be wise to abandon all North America
, Nova Scotia
, and the Floridas
; but then the generality of the nation must see it first in that light.’7
Lord Rockingham was convinced himself and desired to ‘convince the public of the impossibility of going on with the war.’8
On the second of February, Fox
spoke against its continuance, went over the whole of the American
business, and was heard with favor.
The ministers said not one word in reply; and on the division several tories voted with him.9
English opinion had by this time resigned itself to the belief that the United States
could not be reduced; but as a massive fountain, when its waters are first let loose, rises slowly to its full height, so the mind of parliament needed time to collect its energies for official action.
If British statesmen are blamed for not suffering her colonies to go free without a war, it must yet be confessed that the war grew by a kind of necessity out of the hundred years contest with the crown for the bulwark of English freedom.
But now Fox
would have England
‘instantly declare their independence;’10 Pownall
, who had once defended the Stamp Act, urged their recognition;11
broke through his reserve, and said in
parliament: ‘It has been proved to demonstration that there is no other method of having peace with them but acknowledging them to be, what they really are, and what they are determined to remain, independent states.’
The house of commons seemed secretly to agree with him.12
Tories began to vote against the ministry.13
The secretary of war
, Lord Barrington, said to the king: ‘The general dismay among all ranks and conditions arises from an opinion that the administration is not equal to the times.
The opinion is so universal that it prevails even among those who are most dependent on the ministers and most attached to them; nay, it prevails among the ministers themselves.’14
Lord North was convinced of the ruinous tendency of his measures, and professed, but only professed, an earnest wish to resign office.
Lord Mansfield deplored the danger of a war with both houses of the Bourbons.15
The landed aristocracy were grown weary of the conflict which they had brought on, and of which the continuance promised only increasing taxation and a visible loss of national dignity and importance.
So long as there remained a hope of recovering America the ministers were supported, for they alone would undertake its reduction.
The desire to replace them by statesmen more worthy of a great people implied the consent to peace on the basis of American independence.16
To that end all elements conspired.
initial velocity of the British
attack was exhausted,
and the remainder of the war was like the last rebounds of a cannon-ball before it comes to rest.
On the second of July, the president and several members of congress met once more in Philadelphia
On the ninth, the articles of confederation, engrossed
on parchment, were signed by eight states.
On the tenth, congress issued a circular to the other five,
urging them ‘to conclude the glorious compact which was to unite the strength, wealth, and councils of the whole.’
acceded on the twenty-first; Georgia
, on the twenty-fourth.
demanded for the United States
tion of trade and the ownership of the ungranted north-western domain: but, after unassisted efforts for a more efficient union, the state, on the twentyfifth of the following November, accepted the confederacy without amendment; and on the fifth of May, 1779, the delegates of Delaware
did the same.
, which was on all sides precisely limited by its charter,—while Massachusetts
, New York, Virginia
, and at least one of the Carolinas, might claim by royal grant an almost boundless extension to the north and west,—alone arrested the consummation of the confederation by demanding that the public lands north-west of the Ohio
should first be recognised as the common property of all the states, and held as a common resource to discharge
the debts contracted by congress for the
expenses of the war.17
On the eighth of July the French fleet, consisting of twelve ships of the line and three frigates, after a rough voyage of nearly ninety days from Toulon
, anchored in the bay of Delaware
; ten days too late to intercept the inferior squadron of Lord Howe and its multitude of transports on their retreat from Philadelphia
Its admiral, the Count
d'estaing, a major-general in the French
army, had persuaded Marie Antoinette
to propose the expedition.
On the eleventh, congress learned from his letters
that he was ‘ready to co-operate with the states in the reduction of the British
army and navy.’
The first invitation to a concert of measures revealed the inability of the American
people to fulfil their engagements.
For want of an organized government congress could do no more than empower Washington
to call upon the six states north of the Delaware
for aids of militia, while its financial measure was a popular loan to be raised throughout the country by volunteer collectors.
followed his enemy to the north, and anchored within Sandy Hook
, where he intercepted unsuspecting British ships bound for New York.
The fleet of Lord Howe was imperfectly manned, but his fame attracted from merchant vessels and transports a full complement of volunteers.
The French fleet would nevertheless have gone up the bay and offered battle, could pilots have been found to take its largest ships through the channel.
Since New York could not be reached, d'estaing,
ignorant of — the secret policy of France
indulged the dream of capturing the British
towns in Newfoundland
and annexing that island to the American
republic as a fourteenth state with representation in congress.18 Washington
proposed to employ the temporary superiority at sea in the capture of Rhode Island
and its garrison of six thousand men. He had in advance summoned Massachusetts
, and Rhode Island
to send quotas of their militia for the expedition.
The council of war of Rhode Island
, exceeding his requirement, called out one half of the effective force of the state for twenty days from the first of August, and ordered the remainder to be ready at a minute's warning.
Out of his own feeble army he spared one brigade from Massachusetts
and one from Rhode Island
, of one thousand each, and they were followed by a further detachment.
, who was placed over the district of Rhode Island
, to throw the American
troops into two divisions, he sent Greene
to command the one, and Lafayette
served d'estaing as aid and interpreter.
On the twenty-ninth of July, while Clinton
was reporting to Germain
that he would probably be under the necessity of evacuating New York and retiring to Halifax
the French fleet, with thirty-five hundred land troops on board, appeared off Newport
, and the British
saw themselves forced to destroy ten or more armed ships and galleys, carrying two hundred and twelve guns.
The country was palpitating with joy at the al-
liance with France
Congress on Sunday the sixth of August, with studied ceremony, gave its audience of reception to Gerard de Rayneval
, the French
plenipotentiary, listened to his assurances of the affection of his king for the United States
and for ‘each one’ of them, and ‘acknowledged the hand of a gracious Providence in raising them up so powerful a friend.’
At Headquarters there seemed to be a hundred chances to one in favor of capturing the garrison on Rhode Island
, and thus ending British pretensions to sovereignty over America
expressed the hope that congress, in treating for peace, would insist on having Canada
, Hudson's Bay, the Floridas
, and all the continent independent.
On the eighth the French fleet, which a whim of Sullivan
had detained for ten days in the offing, ran past the British
batteries into the harbor of Newport
The landing had been concerted for the tenth; but, learning that the British
outpost on the north of the island had been withdrawn, Sullivan
, on the morning of the ninth, without notice to d'estaing, crossed
with his troops from the side of Tiverton
Scarcely had he done so, when the squadron of Lord Howe, which had been re-enforced from England
, was seen to anchor near Point Judith
On the tenth a strong
wind rising from the north-east, d'estaing by the advice of his officers, among whom were Suffren
and de Grasse
, sailed past the Newport
batteries, and in order of battle bore down upon the British squadron. Lord Howe stood to the southward, inviting pursuit.
For two days d'estaing was baffled in the attempt to
force an action, while the wind increased to a hurri-
cane and wrecked and scattered both fleets.
The French ship Languedoc
lost its rudder and masts; the Apollo, to which the British
admiral had shifted his flag, could not keep at sea.
The same storm flooded Rhode Island
with rain, damaged the ammunition of the American
army, overturned their tents, and left them no shelter except trees and fences.
Many horses were killed, and even soldiers perished.
The British troops, being quartered in the town, suffered less; and, on the return of fair weather, Pigot
, but for his inertness, might have fallen upon a defenceless enemy.
The squadron of Lord Howe steered for Sandy Hook
, three of whose ships had severally encountered three English ships, appeared on the twentieth within sight of Newport
; but only to an-
nounce that, from the shattered condition of his fleet, and from want of water and provisions, after nearly five months service at sea, he was compelled by his instructions to sail for Boston
In general orders Sullivan
censured d'estaing, and insinuated the inutility of the French
alliance; and then, under compulsion from Lafayette
, in other general orders made reparation.
He should have instantly withdrawn from the island; and Washington
sent him incessant messages to do so. On Honyman's hill he was wasting strength in raising batteries which were too remote to be of use, and could be easily turned; more than half his army was composed of militia, who saw that the expedition had failed, and began to go home.
There remained in the American
camp less than six thousand men; and a retreat had now to be
conducted in the presence of regular troops, superior
It began in the night of the twentyeighth.
The next day the British
attempted to get round the American
right wing, and thus cut off every chance of escape.
On that side Greene
, almost within sight of his native town, held the command.
Supported by young Laurens
, he changed the defence into an attack, and drove the enemy in disorder back to their strong post on Quaker hill
In the engagement the British
lost at least two hundred and sixty men; the Americans
, forty-nine less.
On the night following the thirtieth, the army of Sullivan
its sluggish pursuers, withdrew from the island.
, with a re-enforcement of four thousand men, landed the day after the escape.
The British general returned to New York, having
accomplished nothing, except that a detachment under Grey
set fire to the shipping in New Bedford, and then levied cattle and money on the freeholders of Martha's Vineyard
. Lord Howe gave up the naval command to Admiral Byron
, and was never again employed in America
The people of New England
had in twenty days raised the force of Sullivan
to ten thousand effective men; the total disappointment of their hope of brilliant success excited criminations and distrust.
a French officer lost his life in attempting to quell a riot between his countrymen and American seamen; but d'estaing preserved unruffled politeness, and really wished well to the United States
Notwithstanding the failure of the first expedition from France
, every measure adopted by the British
government or its army to reduce the United States
served only to promote its independence.
they sought to annihilate the rebellion by attacking it at its source; and before many months they were driven out of Boston
In 1776 the acquisition of New York was to prelude the one last campaign for crushing all resistance; in 1777 Philadelphia
was taken, but only to be evacuated in 1778.
To a friend in Virginia Washington
wrote in August, as he came again upon White Plains
: ‘After two years manoeuvring and the strangest vicissitudes, both armies are brought back to the very point they set out from, and the offending party at the beginning is now reduced to the use of the spade and pickaxe for defence.
The hand of Providence
has been so conspicuous in all this, that he must be worse than an infidel that lacks faith, and more than wicked that has not gratitude enough to acknowledge his obligations.’
‘The veil of ordinary events,’ thus the Governor
expressed the belief of the state, ‘covers the hand of the supreme Disposer of them, so that men overlook his guidance.
In the view of the series of marvellous occurrences during the present war, he must be blind and infatuated who doth not see and acknowledge the divine ordering thereof.’
The faith of the American
people in the moral government of the world sprang not from irrational traditions, or unreflecting superstition, but from the deep sentiment of harmony between their own active patriotism and the infinite love which founded all things and the infinite justice which carries all things forward in continuous progression.
The consciousness of this harmony, far from lulling them into an indolent expectation of supernatural
intervention, bound them to self-relying diligence in
the duty that was before them.
They had the confidence and joy of fellow-workers with ‘the divine ordering’ for the highest welfare of mankind.
On the third of October the commissioners for
restoring peace to the colonies addressed a farewell manifesto to the members of congress, the several assemblies, and other inhabitants of America
, that their persistence in separating from Great Britain
would ‘change the whole nature and future conduct of this war;’ that ‘the extremes of war’ should so distress the people and desolate the country, as to make them of little avail to France
Congress published the paper in the gazettes to convince the people of the insidious designs of the commissioners.
In the British
house of commons, Coke
proposed an address to the king to disavow the declaration.
Lord George Germain
defended it, insisting that the Americans
by their alliance were become French
, and should in future be treated as Frenchmen.
pointed out that the ‘dreadful menace was pronounced against those who, conscious of rectitude, stood up to fight for freedom and country.’
‘No quarter,’ said the commissioner Johnstone
, who in changing sides on the American
question had not tamed the fury of his manner, ‘no quarter ought to be shown to their congress; and, if the infernals could be let loose against them, I should approve of the measure.
The proclamation certainly does mean a war of desolation: it can mean nothing else.’
divided silently with the friends of America
, who had with them the judgment, though not the vote, of the house.
Three days later Rockingham
denounced the ‘accursed’ manifesto in the house of
lords, saying that ‘since the coming of Christ
war had not been conducted on such inhuman ideas.’
Lord Suffolk, in reply, appealed to the bench of bishops; on which the Bishop
traced the resemblance between the proclamation and the acts of Butler
He added: ‘There is an article in the extraordinaries of the army for scalping-knives.
defeats any hope in the justness of her cause by means like these to support it.’
The debate closed well for America
, except that Lord Shelburne was provoked into saying that he never would serve with any man who would consent to its independence, when in truth independence was become the only way to peace.
The menaces of the proclamation were a confession of weakness.
The British army under Clinton
could hold no part of the country, and only ravage and destroy by sudden expeditions.
Towards the end of
September Cornwallis led a foray into New Jersey
; and Major-General Grey
with a party of infantry, surprising Baylor
's light horse, used the bayonet mercilessly against men that sued for quarter.
A band led by Captain Patrick Ferguson
after destroying the shipping in Little Egg harbor
, spread through the neighboring country to burn the houses and waste the lands of the patriots.
On the night of the fifteenth they surprised light infantry under Pulaski
's command; and, cumbering themselves with no prisoners, killed all they could.
In November a large party of Indians with bands of
tories and regulars entered Cherry valley
by an unguarded pass, and, finding the fort too strong to be
taken, murdered and scalped more than thirty of the
inhabitants, most of them women and children.
The story of these massacres was repeated from village to village, and strengthened the purpose of resistance.
With the year 1778, South Carolina
, which for two years had been unvisited by an enemy, after long deliberation established a permanent form of government.
Immediately after the general declaration of independence
, its citizens, by common consent, intrusted constituent powers to their representatives.
In January, 1777, a bill for the new constitution was introduced.
Hitherto the legislative council had been chosen by the general assembly.
A bold effort was made, in like manner, to confer the election of the senate on the assembly, because in that way Charleston
, through its numerous representation, would have controlled the choice.
On this point the country members would not yield; but the distribution of the representation in the general assembly was left unchanged.
The bill was then printed and submitted for examination to the people during more than a year.
Sure of the prevailing approval, the legislature, in March, 1778, gave it their final sanction; and it was then presented to the president for his confirmation.
Every one expected that in a few hours it would be proclaimed, when Rutledge
called the council and assembly into the council chamber, and, after a formal speech, gave it a negative, not only for the change which it would effect in the manner of choosing one branch of the legislature, but also because it took from the chief of the executive his veto power.
The majority, soon recovering from their consternation, determined to vote no taxes until
the veto should be reversed.
After a three days
adjournment, which was required by the rules before a rejected bill could be again brought forward, Rawlins Lowndes
, the newly elected president, gave his sanction to the re-enacted bill.20
The new constitution might be altered by legislative authority after a notice of ninety days. None but freeholders could elect or be elected to office; and for the higher offices the possession of a large freehold was required.
In any redistribution of the representation of the state, the number of white inhabitants and the amount of taxable property were to be considered.
The veto power was taken from the president.
Till this time the church of England had been the established church in South Carolina
The toleration of Locke
was now mixed with the religious faith of its people.
Not the Anglican or Episcopal church, but the Christian
Protestant church, was declared to be the established religion of the state; and none but Protestants were eligible to high executive or any legislative office.
The right of suffrage was conferred exclusively on every free white man who, having the requisite age and freehold, acknowledged God and a future state of rewards and punishments.
All persons who so believed, and that God is publicly to be worshipped, might form religious societies.
The support of religious worship was voluntary; the property then belonging to societies of the church of England, or any other religious societies, was secured to them in perpetuity.
The people were to enjoy forever the right of elect-
ing their own pastors or clergy; but the state was entitled to security for the due discharge of the pastoral office by the persons so elected.
Of slaves or slavery no mention was made unless by implication.
The constitution having been adopted on the nineteenth of March, 1778, to go into effect on the following twenty-ninth of November, all resident free male persons in the state above sixteen years, refusing to take the oath to maintain it against the king of Great Britain
and all other enemies, were exiled; but a period of twelve months after their departure was allowed them to dispose of their property.
In October, 1778, after the intention of the British
to reduce South Carolina
became known, death was made the penalty for refusing to depart from the state, or for returning without permission.21
The planters of South Carolina
still partook of their usual pastimes and cares; while the British
ministry, resigning the hope of reducing the north, indulged the expectation of conquering all the states to the south of the Susquehanna
For this end the British
commander-in-chief at New York was ordered to despatch before October, if possible, a thousand men to re-enforce Pensacola
, and three thousand to take Savannah
Two thousand more were destined as a re-enforcement to St. Augustine
Thus strengthened, General Prevost
would be able to march in triumph from East Florida
across lower Georgia
The new policy was inaugurated by dissensions between the minister for America
the highest British officials in America
, and was fol-
lowed by never-ending complaints.
Lord Carlisle and his associate commissioners deprecated the seeming purpose of enfeebling the establishment at New York by detachments for different and distant services.
‘Under these appearances of weakness,’ so they reported, ‘our cause has visibly declined.’23 Sir Henry Clinton
threatened to evacuate New York and to retire to Halifax
remonstrated against being ‘reduced to a starved defensive,’25
and complained of being kept in command, ‘a mournful witness of the debility’ of his army; were he only unshackled with instructions, he might render serious service.26
Every detachment for the southern campaign was made with sullen reluctance; and his indirect criminations offended the unforgiving minister.