July, August, 1782.
on the death of Rockingham
, the king offered to Shelburne
by letter ‘the employment of first lord of the treasury, and with it the fullest political confidence.’
‘Indeed,’ added the king, ‘he has had ample sample of it by my conduct towards him since his return to my service.’
No British prime-minister had professed more liberal principles.
He wished a liberal reform of the representation of the people of Great Britain
Far from him was the thought that the prosperity of America
could be injurious to England
He regarded neighboring nations as associates ministering to each other's prosperity, and wished to form with France
treaties of commerce as well as of peace.
, who was entreated to remain in the ministry as secretary of state, with a colleague of his own choosing and an ample share of power, set up against him the narrow-minded Duke
, under whose name the old aristocracy was to rule parliament, king, and people.
To gratify the violence of his headstrong
pride and self-will, he threw away the glorious oppor-
tunity of endearing himself to mankind by granting independence to the United States
and restoring peace to the world, and struck a blow at liberal government in his own country from which she did not recover in his lifetime.
The old whig aristocracy was on the eve of dissolution.
In a few years, those of its members who, like Burke
and the Duke
, were averse to shaking the smallest particle of the settlement at the revolution, were to merge themselves in the new tory or conservative party: the rest adopted the principle of reform; and when they began to govern, it was with the principles of Chatham
For the moment, Fox
, who was already brooding on a coalition with the ministry so lately overthrown, insisted with his friends that Lord Shelburne was as fully devoted to the court as Lord North in his worst days.
But the latter, contrary to his own judgment and political principles, had persisted in the American
war to please the king; the former accepted power only after he had brought the king to consent to peace with independent America
The vacancies in the cabinet were soon filled up. For the home department the choice of the king fell on William Pitt
, who had not yet avowed himself in parliament for American independence, and who was in little danger of ‘becoming too much dipped in the wild measures’ of ‘the leaders of sedition;’ but it was assigned to the more experienced Thomas Townshend
, who had ever condemned the violation of the principles of English liberty in the administration of British colonies in America
, at three and twenty
years old, became chancellor of the exchequer; the
Chap. XXVIII.} 1782. July 9.
seals of the foreign office were intrusted to Lord Grantham.
In the house of commons, Fox
made on the ninth of July his self-defence, which, in its vagueness and hesitation, betrayed his consciousness that he had no ground to stand upon.
In the debate, Conway
said with truth that eagerness for exclusive power was the motive of Fox
, between whom and Shelburne
the difference of policy for America
was very immaterial; that the latter, so far from renewing the old, exploded politics, had been able to convince his royal master that a declaration of its independence was, from the situation of the country and the necessity of the case, the wisest and most expedient measure that government could adopt.
called heaven and earth to witness the sincerity of his belief that ‘the ministry of Lord Shelburne would be fifty times worse than that of Lord North,’ declaring that ‘his accursed principles were to be found in Machiavel, and that but for want of understanding he would be a Catiline or a Borgia.’
has been faithful and just to me,’ wrote Sir WilliamJones to Burke
, deprecating his vehemence: ‘the principles which he has professed to me are such as my reason approved.’
‘In all my intercourse with him, I never saw any instance of his being insincere,’ wrote Franklin
, long after Shelburne
had retired from office.
On the tenth, Shel
burne said in the house of lords: ‘I stand firmly upon my consistency.
I never will consent that a certain number of great lords should elect a primeminister who is the creature of an aristocracy, and is
vested with the plenitude of power, while the king
Chap. XXVIII.} 1782. July 10.
is nothing more than a pageant or a puppet.
In that case, the monarchical part of the constitution would be absorbed by the aristocracy, and the famed constitution of England
would be no more.
The members of the cabinet can vouch that no reason, relative to the business of America, has been assigned or even hinted for the late resignations.
The principle laid down relative to peace with America
has not in the smallest degree been departed from.
Nothing is farther from my intention than to renew the war in America
; the sword is sheathed never to be drawn there again.’
On the day on which Fox
withdrew from the min-
, who now had liberty of action, wrote these instructions to Oswald
: ‘I hope to receive early assurances from you that my confidence in the sincerity and good faith of Dr. Franklin
has not been misplaced, and that he will concur with you in endeavoring to render effectual the great work in which our hearts and wishes are so equally interested.
We have adopted his idea of the method to come to a general pacification by treating separately with each party.
I beg him to believe that I can have no idea or design of acting towards him and his associates but in the most open, liberal, and honorable manner.’
, on his part, lost not a day in entering upon definitive negotiations for peace.
From his long residence in England
he knew exactly the relations of its parties and of its public men; of whom the best were his friends.
He was aware how precarious was the hold of Shelburne
on power; and he
made all haste to bring about an immediate pacifica-
Chap. XXVIII.} 1782. July 10.
On the tenth of July, in his own house and at his own invitation, he had an interview with Oswald
, and proposed to him the American
conditions of peace.
The articles which could not be departed from were: Independence full and complete in every sense to the thirteen states, and all British troops to be withdrawn from them; for boundaries, the Mississippi
, and on the side of Canada
as they were before the Quebec act of 1774; and, lastly, a freedom of fishing off Newfoundland
and elsewhere as in times past.
Having already explained that nothing could be done for the loyalists by the United States
, as their estates had been confiscated by laws of particular states which congress had no power to repeal, he further demonstrated that Great Britain
had forfeited every right to intercede for them by its conduct and example; to which end he read to Oswald
the orders of the British
for confiscating and selling the lands and property of all patriots under the direction of the military; and he declared definitively that, though the separate governments might show compassion where it was deserved, the American
commissioners for peace could not make compensation of refugees a part of the treaty.
recommended, but not as an ultimatum, a perfect reciprocity in regard to ships and trade.
He further directed attention to the reckless destruction of American property by the British
troops, as furnishing a claim to indemnity which might be set off against the demands of British merchants and of American loyalists.
He was at that time employed on a treaty of reimbursement to France
by the United
States for its advances of money; and he explained
Chap. XXVIII.} 1782. July 10.
, as he had before done to Grenville
, the exact nature and the limits of the obligations of America
for loans of which the debt and interest would be paid.
The interview closed with the understanding by Oswald
was ready to sign the preliminary articles of the treaty so soon as they could be agreed upon.
The negotiation was opened and kept up with the knowledge and at the wish of Vergennes
; but everything relating to the conditions of peace was withheld from him to the last.
So soon as Shelburne
saw a prospect of a general pacification, of which he reserved the direction to himself, Fitzherbert, a diplomatist of not much experience and no great ability, was transferred from Brussels
, to be the channel of communication with Spain
, and Holland
He brought with him a letter of recommendation to Franklin
, who expressed his desire to merit Franklin
's confidence, and from Townshend
, who declared himself the zealous friend to peace upon the fairest and most liberal terms.
While the commission and instructions of Oswald
were preparing, Shelburne
, who best understood American affairs, accepted the ultimatum of Franklin
in all its branches; only, to prevent the bickerings of fishermen, and to respect public opinion in England
, he refused the privilege of drying fish on the island of Newfoundland
On the twenty-seventh, Shelburne
replied to Oswald
‘Your several letters give me the greatest satisfaction, as they contain unequivocal proofs of Dr. Franklin
sincerity and confidence in those with whom he
Chap. XXVIII.} 1782. July 27.
It will be the study of his Majesty's ministers to return it by every possible cordiality.
There never have been two opinions since you were sent to Paris
upon the acknowledgment of American independency, to the full extent of all the resolutions of the province of Maryland
, enclosed to you by Dr. Franklin
But, to put this matter out of all possibility of doubt, a commission will be immediately forwarded to you containing full powers to treat and to conclude, with instructions from the minister who has succeeded to the department which I lately held, to make the independency of the colonies the basis and preliminary of the treaty now depending and so far advanced that, hoping as I do with you that the articles called advisable will be dropped and those called necessary alone retained as the ground of discussion, it may be speedily concluded.
You very well know I have never made a secret of the deep concern I feel in the separation of countries united by blood, by principles, habits, and every tie short of territorial proximity.
But I have long since given it up, decidedly though reluctantly; and the same motives which made me perhaps the last to give up all hope of reunion make me most anxious, if it is given up, that it shall be done so as to avoid all future risk of enmity and lay the foundation of a new connection, better adapted to the temper and interest of both countries.
In this view I go further with Dr. Franklin
perhaps than he is aware of, and further, perhaps, than the professed advocates of independence are prepared to admit.
I consider myself as pledged to the contents of this letter.
You will find the ministry united, in full possession
of the king's confidence, and thoroughly disposed to peace if it can be obtained upon reasonable terms.’
The commission to Oswald
, which followed in a few days, conformed to the enabling act of parliament.
The king pledged his name and word to ratify and confirm whatever might be concluded between him and the American
commissioners; ‘our earnest wish for peace,’ such were the words of instruction under the king's own hand, ‘disposing us to purchase it at the price of acceding to the complete independence of the thirteen states.’
The merit of closing the murderous scenes of a war between men of the same kindred and language, by moderation, superiority to prejudice, a true desire of conciliation, an unreluctant concession to America
of her natural advantages, together with a skilful plan through free-trade to obtain by commerce an immense compensation for the loss of monopoly and jurisdiction, is among British statesmen due to Shelburne
The initiating of the negotiation, equal sincerity, benignity of temper, an intuitive and tranquil discernment of things as they were, wisdom which never spoke too soon and never waited too long, belonged to Franklin
, who had proceeded alone to the substantial conclusion of the peace.
At this moment, when the treaty seemed to need only to be drafted in form and signed, Jay
, having arrived in Paris
and recovered from illness, stayed all progress.
Before treating for peace, he said, the independence of the United States
ought to be acknowledged by act of parliament, and the British
troops withdrawn from America
was not in session, and was, moreover, the most dan-
gerous body to which America
could have appealed.
Receding from this demand, Jay
proposed a proclamation of American independence under the great seal; but this also he yielded.
had been an enthusiast for the triple alliance between France
, and the United States
; had been moderate in his desire for territory; and on fifteen divisions in congress had given his vote against making the fisheries a condition of peace.
As a consequence, all the influence of the French
minister in Philadelphia
had been used in congress to promote his election as minister to Spain
and as a commissioner for treating of peace.
His illusions as to Spain
having been very rudely dispelled, he passed from too great confidence to too general mistrust.
The commission to Oswald
spoke of the colonies and plantations of New Hampshire
, and the rest, naming them one by one; and Oswald
was authorized to treat with the American
commissioners under any title which they should, assume, and to exchange with them plenipotentiary powers.
, who was anxious that there might be no impediment to a general peace
, urged upon Jay
that the powers of Oswald
were sufficient, saying: ‘This acceptance of your powers, in which you are styled commissioners from the United States of America
, will be a tacit confession of your independence.’
had made no objection to the commission, and still believed that it ‘would do.’
made the remark: ‘The count does not wish to see our independence acknowledged by Britain until
they have made all their uses of us.’
shortest way of defeating such a plan was to proceed at once to frame the treaty of peace with England
saw with dismay how fast the sands of Shelburne
's official life were running out, and that with his removal the only chance of a favorable peace now so nearly concluded would be lost; but his advice brought upon him the suspicions of Jay
not only communicated a copy of his commission, but a part of his instructions and a letter from the secretary of state
, promising in the king's name to grant to America
‘full, complete, and unconditional independence in the most explicit manner as an article of treaty.’
‘positively refused to treat with Oswald
under his commission;’ so that the negotiation was wholly suspended and put to the greatest hazard.
It was time for the war in America
to come to an end. British parties, under leaders selected from the most brutal of mankind, were scouring the interior of the southern country, robbing, destroying,
and taking life at their pleasure.
‘On the twelfth of March,’ writes David Fanning
, the ruffian leader of one of these bands, ‘my men being all properly equipped, assembled together to give the rebels a small scourge, which we set out for.’
They came upon the plantation of Andrew Balfour
, of Randolph county
, who had been a member of the North Carolina assembly, and held a commission in the militia.
Breaking into his house, they fired at him in the presence of his sister and daughter, the first ball passing through his body, the second through his neck.
On their way to another militia officer, they
‘burned several rebel houses.’
It was late before
Chap. XXVIII.} 1782. March 12.
they got to the abode of the officer, who made his escape, receiving three balls through his shirt.
They destroyed the whole of his plantation.
Reaching the house of ‘another rebel officer,’ ‘I told him,’ writes Fanning
, ‘if he would come out of the house I would give him parole, which he refused.
With that I ordered the house to be set on fire.
As soon as he saw the flames increasing, he called out to me to spare his house for his wife's and children's sake, and he would walk out with his arms in his hands.
I answered him that, if he would walk out, his house should be spared for his wife and children.
When he came out, he said: “ Here I am;” with that he received two balls through his body.
I proceeded on to one Major Dugin
's plantation, and I destroyed all his property, and all the rebel officers' property in the settlement for the distance of forty miles. On our way, I catched a commissary from Salisbury
and delivered him up to some of my men whom he had treated ill when prisoners, and they immediately hung him. On the eighteenth of April, I set out for Chatham
, where I learned that a wedding was to be that day. We surrounded the house, and drove all out one by one.
I found one concealed upstairs.
Having my pistols in my hand, I discharged them both at his breast; he fell, and that night expired.’1
Yet this Fanning
held a British commission as colonel of the loyal militia in Randolph
and Chatham counties
, with authority to grant commissions to others as captains and subalterns; and, after the war, was recommended
by the office of American claims as a proper
Chap. XXVIII.} 1782. April 16.
person to be put upon the half-pay list.
At the north, within the immediate precincts of the authority of Clinton
, Colonel James Delancy
, of West Chester
, caused three rebels to be publicly executed within the British
lines, in a pretended retaliation for the murder of some of the refugees.
In New York, the refugees were impatient that American prisoners were not at once made to suffer for treason.
On the eighth of April, the directors of the Associated Loyal
ists ordered Lieutenant Joshua Huddy
, a prisoner of war in New York, to be delivered to Captain Lippincot
, and, under the pretext of an exchange, taken into New Jersey
, where he was hanged by a party of loyalists
on the heights of Middleton
, in revenge for the death of a loyalist prisoner who had been shot as he was attempting to escape.
Congress and Washington
demanded the delivery of Lippincot
as a murderer.
, though incensed at the outrage and at the insult to his own authority and honor, refused the requisition, but subjected him to a court-martial, which condemned the deed, while they found in the orders under which he acted a loop-hole for his acquittal.
Congress threatened retaliation on a British officer, but never executed the threat.
The American officers ever throughout the war set the example of humanity.
The same spirit showed itself on the side of the British
as soon as Shelburne
Those who had been imprisoned for treason were treated henceforward as prisoners of war. Some of the ministers personally took part in relieving their distresses; and in the course of the summer six hundred of them or more were
sent to America
in cartels for exchange.
Chap. XXVIII.} 1782. May 5.
of Sir Guy Carleton
at New York to supersede Clinton
was followed by consistent clemency.
He desired that hostilities of all kinds might be stayed.
He treated captives always with gentleness; and some of them he set free.
asked that the Carolinians who had been exiled in violation of the capitulation of Charleston
might have leave to return to their native state under a flag of truce, Carleton
answered that they should be sent back at the cost of the king of England
; and that everything should be done to make them forget the hardships which they had endured.2
Two hundred Iroquois
, two hundred Ottawas, and seventy Chippeways came in the summer to St. Johns
on the Chambly, ready to make a raid into the state of New York
They were told from Carleton
to bury their hatchets and their tomahawks.
Acting under the orders of Greene
, by spirited manoeuvres, succeeded in wresting the state from the hands of the British
, obliging them to abandon post after post and redoubt after redoubt, until they were completely shut up in Savan-
nah. A body of British cavalry and infantry went out four miles from Savannah
to escort a strong party of Creeks and Choctaws into the town.
In the following night, he threw himself with inferior force between them and Savannah
, and, attacking them by surprise, totally defeated and dispersed them.
, five miles from Savannah
, at half-past 1 in the morning of the twenty-fourth
of June, a numerous horde of Creek warriors, headed
by their ablest chiefs and a British officer, surprised
Chap. XXVIII.} 1782.
the camp of Wayne
, and for a few moments were masters of his artillery.
marshalled his troops, and, under a very heavy fire of small-arms and hideous yells of the savages, attacked them in front and flank with the sword and bayonet alone.
resisted the onset with ferocity heightened by their momentary success.
With his own hand Wayne
struck down a war chief.
In the morning, Erristesego, the principal warrior of the Creek
nation and the bitterest enemy of the Americans
, was found among the dead.
Self-reliance and patriotism revived in the rural population of Georgia
; and its own civil government was restored.
On the eleventh of July, Savannah
the loyalists retreating into Florida
, the regulars to Charleston
Following the latter, Wayne
, with his small but trustworthy corps, joined the standard of Greene
His successes had been gained by troops who had neither regular food, nor clothing, nor pay.
In South Carolina
, and all others in high command, were never once led by the assassinations committed under the authority of Lord George Germain
to injure the property or take the life of a loyalist, although private anger could not always be restrained.
In conformity to the writs issued by Rutledge
, as governor, the assembly met in January at Jacksonborough
, on the Edisto
In the legislature were many of those who had been released from imprisonment, or had returned from exile.
Against the advice of Gadsden
, who insisted
that it was sound policy to forget and forgive, laws
Chap. XXVIII.} 1782. July 11.
were passed banishing the active friends of the British
government, and confiscating their estates.
could not recover the city of Charleston
, under the command of the just and humane General Leslie
, gave up every hope of subjugating the state; and Wayne
, who was ‘satiate of this horrid trade of blood,’ and would rather spare one poor savage than destroy twenty, and Greene
, who longed for the repose of domestic life, strove to reconcile the Carolina
patriots to the loyalists.
The complaints of Greene
respecting the wants of his army were incessant and just.
In January, he wrote: ‘Our men are almost naked for want of overalls and shirts, and the greater part of the army barefoot.’
In March, he repeated the same tale: ‘We have three hundred men without arms; twice that number so naked as to be unfit for any duty but in cases of desperation.
Not a rag of clothing has arrived to us this winter.
In this situation men and officers without pay cannot be kept in temper long.’
Moreover the legislature of South Carolina prohibited the impressing of provisions from the people, and yet neglected to furnish the troops with necessary food.
The summer passed with no military events beyond skirmishes.
In repelling with an inferior force a party of the British
sent to Combahee Ferry to collect provisions, Laurens
, then but twenty-seven years old, received a mortal wound.
‘He had not a fault that I could discover,’ said Washington
it were intrepidity bordering upon rashness.’
Chap. XXVIII.} 1782. July.
was the last blood shed in the field during the war.
The wretched condition of the American Army Greene
attributed to the want of a union of the states.
He would invest congress with power to enforce its requisitions.
If this were not done, he held ‘it impossible to establish matters of finance upon such a footing as to answer the public demands.’
The first vehement impulse towards ‘the consolidation of the federal union’ was given by Robert Morris
, the finance minister of the confederation.
With an exact administration of his trust, he combined, like Necker, zeal for advancing his own fortune; and he connected the reform of the confederation, which ought to have found universal approbation, with boldly speculative financial theories, that were received with doubt and resistance.
His opinions on the benefit of a public debt were extravagant and unsafe.
A native of England
, he never held the keys to the sympathy and approbation of the American
In May, 1781, when congress was not able to make due preparation for the campaign, he succeeded, by highly colored promises of a better administration of the national finances, and by appeals to patriotism, in overcoming the scruples of that body, and obtained from it a charter for a national bank, of which the notes, payable on demand, should be receivable as specie for duties and taxes, and in payment of dues from the respective states.
The measure was carried by the votes of New Hampshire
, New Jersey
, with Madison
and South Carolina
, and Georgia
, seven states: single delegates
from Rhode Island
‘ay;’ but their votes were not counted, because their states were insufficiently represented.
was equally divided; Massachusetts
alone voted against the measure.
Before the end of the year, the opinion prevailed that the confederation contained no power to incorporate a bank; but congress had already pledged its word.
As a compromise, the corporation was forbidden to exercise any powers in any of the United States
repugnant to the laws or constitution of such state; and it was recommended to the several states to give to the incorporating ordinance its full operation.
These requisitions Madison
regarded as a tacit admission of the defect of power, an antidote against the poisonous tendency of precedents of usurpation.
The capital of the bank was four hundred thousand dollars, of which Morris
took one-half as an investment of the United States
, paying for it in full with their money.
On the seventh of January, 1782, the bank
commenced its very lucrative business.
The notes, though payable at Philadelphia
in specie, did not command public confidence at a distance, and the corporation was able to buy up its own promises at from ten to fifteen per cent discount.
A national currency having been provided for, Morris
was ready to obey an order of congress to establish a mint.
His first great measure having been carried, he threw the whole energy of his nature into the design of initiating a strong central government.
He engaged the services of Thomas Paine
to recommend to the people by a new confederation to confer
competent powers on congress.
To the president
of congress he wrote: ‘No hope of praise or apprehension of blame shall induce me to neglect a duty which I owe to America at large.
I disclaim a delicacy which influences some minds to treat the states with tenderness and even adulation, while they are in the habitual inattention to the calls of national interest and honor.
Nor will I be deterred from waking those who slumber on the brink of ruin.
But my voice is feeble, and I must therefore pray to be assisted by the voice of the United States
Supported by them, I may, perhaps, do something; but, without that support, I must be a useless incumbrance.’
He was convinced that the raising as well as maintaining of a continental army would be infinitely cheaper than armies of the states.
A national navy, too, came within the scope of his policy.
To fund the public debt and provide for the regular payment of the interest on it was a primary object with the financier; and for these ends he proposed a very moderate land-tax, a poll-tax, and an excise on distilled liquors.
Each of these taxes was estimated to produce half a million; the duty of five per cent on imports, if the states would but consent to it, would produce a million more.
The back lands were to be reserved as security for new loans in Europe
All these together were thought sufficient to establish the public credit.
The aggregate expenditures of the United States
for the war had been at the rate of twenty millions of dollars in specie annually.
The estimates for the year 1782 were for eight millions of dollars.
the first five months of the year, the sums received
from the states amounted to less than twenty thousand dollars, or less than the estimated expenses for a single day, and of this sum not a shilling had been received from the eastern or the southern states.
prepared a vehement circular letter to the states; but, by the advice of Madison
and others, it was withheld, and one congressional committee was sent to importune the states of the north, another those of the south.
It lay in the ideas of Morris
to collect the taxes due to the United States
by their own officers.
The confederation acted only on the several states, and not on persons; yet he obtained authority by a vote of congress to appoint receivers of taxes, and for that office in New York he selected its most gifted statesman.
From the siege of Yorktown
had repaired to Albany
, where he entered upon the study of the law that in summer he might be received as attorney, and in autumn as counsellor, ready meantime if the war should be renewed to take part in its dangers and in its honors.
The place, which he accepted with hesitation, was almost a sinecure; but he was instructed by Morris
to exert his talents with the New York legislature to forward the views of congress.
He had often observed the facility with which the eastern states had met in convention to deliberate jointly on the best methods of supporting the war. He repaired to Poughkeepsie
on the next meeting of the New York legislature, and explained his views on the only method by which the United States
could obtain a constitution.
nineteenth of July, Schuyler
, his father-in-law, invited
the senate to take into consideration the state of
On his motion, it was agreed that the general government ought to have power to provide revenue for itself, and it was resolved ‘that the foregoing important ends can never be attained by partial deliberations of the states separately; but that it is essential to the common welfare that there should be as soon as possible a conference of the whole on the subject; and that it would be advisable for this purpose to propose to congress to recommend, and to each state to adopt, the measure of assembling a general convention of the states, specially authorized to revise and amend the confederation, reserving a right to the respective legislatures to ratify their determinations.’
These resolutions, proposed by Schuyler
in the senate, were carried unanimously in both branches of the legislature; and Hamilton
, who had drafted them, was elected almost without opposition one of the delegates of New York to congress.
, who saw the transcendent importance of the act of the New York legislature, welcomed the young statesman to his new career in these words: ‘A firm, wise, manly system of federal government is what I once wished, what I now hope, what I dare not expect, but what I will not despair of.’
Hamilton of New York thus became the colleague of Madison
The state papers which they two prepared were equal to the best in Europe
of that time.
was excelled by Madison
in wisdom, large, sound, roundabout sense and perception of what the country would grant; and in his turn surpassed his rival in versatility and creative power.
On the last day of July, Morris
sent to congress
his budget for 1783, amounting at the least to nine millions of dollars, and he could think of no way to obtain this sum but by borrowing four millions and raising five millions by quotas.
The best hopes of supporting the public credit lay in the proposal to endow congress with the right to levy a duty of five per cent on imports.
‘Congress,’ thus wrote Madison
to sway the wavering legislature of Virginia, ‘congress cannot abandon the plan as long as there is a spark of hope.
Nay, other plans, on a like principle, must be added.
Justice, gratitude, our reputation abroad, and our tranquillity at home, require provision for a debt of not less than fifty millions of dollars; and I pronounce that this provision will not be adequately met by separate acts of the states.
If there are not revenue laws which operate at the same time through all the states, and are exempt from the control of each, the mutual jealousies which begin already to appear among them will assuredly defraud both our foreign and domestic creditors of their just claims.’
But Rhode Island
obstinately resisted the grant.
The legislature of Massachusetts after long delays gave its consent, but its act received the veto of Hancock
The legislature insisted that the veto was invalid, because it was sent to the house a day too late; while the governor replied, that Sunday not being a day for business, his negative had been received within the limit of the constitution.3
In the October session of 1782, Virginia
repealed its first act of assent, which it had previously suspended; giving this reason for its ultimate decision: ‘The permitting any power other than the general assembly of this commonwealth to levy duties or taxes upon the citizens of this state within the same is injurious to its sovereignty, may prove destructive of the rights and liberty of the people, and, so far as congress might exercise the same, is contravening the spirit of the confederation.’
The words were darkly ominous, leaving congress for the time poverty-stricken, and seeming to throw in the way of a good government hindrances which never could be overcome.
Yet union was already rooted in the heart of the American
The device for its great seal, adopted by congress in midsummer, is the American
eagle, as the emblem of that strength which uses victory only for peace.
It therefore holds in its right talon the olive branch; with the left it clasps together thirteen arrows, emblems of the thirteen states.
On an azure field over the head of the eagle appears a constellation of thirteen stars breaking gloriously through a cloud.
In the eagle's beak is the scroll ‘E pluribus unum,’ many and one, out of diversity unity, the two ideas that make America
great; individual freedom of states, and unity as the expression of conscious nationality.
By further emblems, congress showed its faith that the unfinished commonwealth, standing upon the broadest foundation, would be built up in strength, that Heaven nodded to what had been undertaken, that ‘a new line of ages’ had begun.
The earlier speeches in parliament of Shelburne
against granting independence to the United States
had left in America
a distrust that was not readily removed; but the respective commanders-in-chief vied with each other in acts of humanity.
The state of the treasury of the United States
Of the quotas distributed among the states only four hundred and twenty-two thousand dollars were collected.
and the three southern states paid nothing.
, which paid thirty-eight thousand dollars, or a little more than a sixth of its quota, was proportionately the largest contributor.
wished to establish a solid continental system of finance, but taxes which were not likely ever to be paid could not be anticipated, and confidence had been squandered away.
In spring he had written to Greene
, but for whom he thought the line of Virginia
might have been the boundary line: ‘You must continue your exertions with or without men, or provisions, clothing, or pay.’
For provisioning the northern army, he had made contracts which he was obliged to dissolve from want of means to meet them, and could only write to Washington
: ‘I pray that Heaven may direct your mind to some mode by which we may be yet saved.’
By the payment of usurious rates, the army was rescued from being starved or disbanded.
‘Their patriotism and distress’ wrote Washington
in October, ‘have scarcely ever been paralleled, never been surpassed.
The long-sufferance of the army is almost exhausted; it is high time for a peace.’