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NO. 1, omitted.
Letter to the President of Congress, from the British Commissioners, June 10th, 1778.
Gentlemen-With an earnest desire to stop the further effusion of blood and the calamities of war, we communicate to you with the least possible delay, after our arrival in this city, a copy of the commission with which his majesty is pleased to honor us, as also the acts of parliament on which it is founded; and at the same time we assure you of our most earnest desire to re-establish on the basis of equal freedom and mutual safety, the tranquillity of this once happy empire, you will observe that we are vested with powers equal to the purpose, and such as are even unprecedented in the annals of our history.
In the present state of our affairs, though fraught with subjects of mutual regret, all parties may draw some degree of consolation, and even auspicious hope from the recollection that cordial reconciliation and affection have, in our own and other empires, succeeded to contentions and temporary divisions not less violent than those we now experience. We wish not to recal subjects which are now no longer in controversy, and will reserve to a proper time of discussion both the hopes of mutual benefit, and the consideration of evils that may naturally contribute to determine your resolutions as well as our own, on this important occasion. The acts of parliament which we transmit to you, having passed with singular unanimity, will sufficiently evince the disposition of Great Britain, and shew that the terms of agreement in contemplation with his majesty and with parliament, are such as come up to every wish that North America, either in the hour of temperate deliberation, or of the utmost apprehension of danger to liberty, has ever expressed. More effectually to demonstrate our good intentions, we think proper to declare, even in this our first communication, that we are disposed to concur in every satisfactory and just arrangement towards the following, among other purposes:
To consent to a cessation of hostilities both by sea and land.
To restore free intercourse, to revive mutual affection, and renew the common benefits of naturalization through the several parts of this empire.
To extend every freedom of trade that our respective interests can require.
To agree that no military forces shall be kept up in the different states of North America without the consent of the general congress or particular assemblies.
To concur in measures calculated to discharge the debts of America, and to raise the credit and value of the paper circulation.
To perpetuate our union by a reciprocal deputation of an agent or agents from the different states, who shall have the privilege of a seat and voice in the parliament of Great Britain, or if sent from Britain, in that case, to have a seat and voice in the assemblies of the different states to which they may be sent in order to attend to the several interests of those by whom they are deputed.
In short, to establish the power of the respective legislatures in each particular state, to settle its revenues, its civil and military establishments, and to exercise a perfect freedom of legislation and internal government, so that the British states throughout North America, acting with us in peace and war, under one common sovereign, may have the irrevocable enjoyment of every privilege that is short of a total separation of interests, or consistent with that union and force on which the safety of our common religion and liberty depends.
In our anxiety for preserving those sacred and essential interests, we cannot help taking notice of the insidious interposition of a power, which has, from the first settlement of these colonies, been actuated with enmity to us both. And, notwithstanding the pretended date or present form of the French offers to North America, yet it is notorious that these were made in consequence of the plans of accommodations previously concerted in Great Britain, and with a view to preBut we vent our reconciliation, and to prolong this destructive war. trust that the inhabitants of North America connected with us by the nearest ties of consanguinity, speaking the same language, interested in the preservation of similar institutions, remembering the former happy intercourse of good offices, and forgetting recent animosities, will shrink from the thought of becoming an accession of force to our late mutual enemies, and will prefer a firm, free, and perpetual coalition with the parent state, to an insincere and unnatural foreign alliance.
This dispatch will be delivered to you by Dr. Ferguson, the secretary to his majesty's commission, and for fuller explanation and discussion of every subject of difference, we desire to meet with you, either collectively, or by deputation, at New York, Philadelphia, Yorktown, or such other place as you may propose; we think it right, however, to apprise you, that his majesty's instructions, as well as our own desire, to remove from the immediate seat of war, in the active operations of which we cannot take any part, may induce us speedily to remove to New York. But the commander in chief of his majesty's land forces (who is joined with us in the commission) will, if it should become necessary, either concur with us in a suspension of hostilities, or will furnish all necessary passports and safe conduct to facilitate our meeting, and we shall of course expect the same of you.
If after the time that may be necessary to consider this communication, and to transmit your answer, the horrors and devastations of war should continue, we call God and the world to witness, that the evils which must follow, are not to be imputed to Great Britain, and we cannot, without the most real sorrow, anticipate the prospect of calamities which we feel the most ardent desire to prevent.
We are, with perfect respect, gentlemen,
Your most obedient, and most humble servants,
Instructions to Dr. Franklin, minister plenipotentiary of the United States, to the court of France, October 22, 1778.
We, the congress of the United States of North America, having thought it proper to appoint you their minister plenipotentiary to the court of his most christian majesty, you shall in all things, according to the best of your knowledge and abilities, promote the interest and honor of the said states at that court, with a particular attention to thè following instructions:
1. You are immediately to assure his most christian majesty, that these states entertain the highest sense of his exertions in their favor, particularly by sending the respectable squadron under the count d'Estaing, which would probably have terminated the war in a speedy and honorable manner, if unforeseen and unfortunate circumstances had not intervened. You are further to assure him that they consider this speedy aid, not only as a testimony of his majesty's fidelity to the engagements he hath entered into, but as an earnest of that protection which they hope from his power and magnanimity, and as a bond of gratitude to the union, founded on mutual interest.
2. You shall, by the earliest opportunity, and on every necessary occasion, assure the king and his ministers, that neither the congress nor any of the states they represent, have at all swerved from their determination to be independent in July, 1776. But as the declaration was made in face of the most powerful fleet and army which could have been expected to operate against them, and without any the slightest assurance of foreign aid, so, although in a defenseless situation, and harassed by the secret machinations and designs of intestine foes, they have, under the exertions of that force, during these bloody campaigns, persevered in their determination to be free. And that they have been inflexible in this determination, notwithstanding the interruption of their commerce, the great sufferings they have experienced from the want of those things which it procured, and the unexampled barbarity of their enemies.
3. You are to give the most pointed and positive assurances, that although the congress are earnestly desirous of peace, as well to arrange their finances, and recruit the exhausted state of their country, as to spare the further effusion of blood, yet they will faithfully per
form their engagements, and afford every assistance in their power to prosecute the war for the great purposes of the alliance.
4. You shall endeavor to obtain the king's consent to expunge from the treaty of commerce the eleventh and twelfth articles, as inconsistent with that equality and reciprocity which form the best security to perpetuate the whole.
5. You are to exert yourself to procure the consent of the court of France, that all American seamen, who may be taken on board of British vessels, may, if they choose, be permitted to enter on board American vessels. In return for which, you are authorized to stipulate, that all Frenchmen who may be taken on board of British vessels, by vessels belonging to the United States, shall be delivered up to persons appointed for that purpose by his most christian majesty.
6. You are to suggest to the ministers of his most christian majesty, the advantages that would result from entering on board the ships of these states, British seamen who may be made prisoners, thereby impairing the force of the enemy, and strengthening the hands of his ally.
7. You are also to suggest the fatal consequences which would follow the commerce of the common enemy, if, by confining the war to the European and Asiatic seas, the coasts of America could be so far freed from the British fleets as to furnish a safe asylum to the frigates and privateers of the allied nations and their prizes.
8. You shall constantly inculcate the certainty of ruining the Brittsh fisheries on the banks of Newfoundland, and consequently the British marine, by reducing Halifax and Quebec, since, by that means they would be exposed to alarm and plunder, and deprived of the necessary supplies formerly drawn from America. The plans proposed to Congress for compassing these objects are herewith transmitted for your more particular instruction.
9. You are to lay before the court the deranged state of our finances, together with the causes thereof; and show the necessity of placing them on a more respectable footing, in order to prosecute the war with vigor on the part of America. Observations on that subject are herewith transmitted; and more particular instructions shall be sent whenever the necessary steps previous thereto shall have been taken.
10. You are, by every means in your power, to promote a perfect harmony, concord and good understanding, not only between the allied powers, but also between and among their subjects, that the connexion so favorably begun may be perpetuated.
11. You shall in all things take care not to make any engagements, or stipulations, on the part of America, without the consent of America previously obtained.
We pray God to further you with his goodness in the several objects hereby recommended; and that he will have you in his holy keeping. Done at Philadelphia, the 26th day of October, 1778.
H. LAURENS, Presidents
By the congress.
Plan for reducing the province of Canada, referred to in the instructions of Hon. B. Franklin, minister to the court of France, October, 1778.
Plan of attack.-That a number of men be assembled at Fort Pitt, from Virginia and Pennsylvania, amounting to one thousand five hundred rank and file; for which purpose three thousand should be called for; and if more than one thousand five hundred appear, the least effective to be dismissed. To these should be added one hundred light cavalry, one half armed with lances. The whole should be ready to march by the first day of June; and for that purpose they should be called together for the 1st of May, so as to be in readiness by the 15th. The real and declared object of the corps should be to attack Detroit, and to destroy the towns on the route thither, of those Indians who are inimical to the United States.
2. That five hundred men be stationed at or near Wyoming this winter, to cover the frontiers of Pennsylvania and New Jersey; to be reinforced by one thousand men from those states early in the spring. For this purpose, two thousand men should be called for, to appear on the first of May, so as to be in readiness by the 15th. They must march on the first of June at farthest, for Oneoquago; to proceed from thence against Niagara. This is also to be declared.
3. That in addition to the garrison at Fort Schuyler or Stanwix, one thousand five hundred men be stationed this winter along the Mohawk river; and preparations of every kind made to build vessels of force on lake Ontario early next spring; and to take post at or near Oswego. A reinforcement of two thousand five hundred men, from the militia of New York and the western parts of Connecticut and Massachusetts Bay, must be added to these early in the spring; for which purpose a demand must be made of five thousand. A party, consisting of five hundred regular troops and one thousand militia, must march from Schenectady; so as to meet those destined to act against Niagara at Oneoquago. They should be joined by about one hundred light dragoons, armed as aforesaid, together with all the warriors which can be collected from the friendly tribes. In their march to Niagara, they should destroy the Senecas and other towns of Indians which are inimical.
4. That two thousand five hundred men be marched from fort Schuyler, as early as possible after the middle of May, to Oswego, and take a post there, or in the neighborhood; to be defended by about five hundred men. That they also be employed in forwarding the vessels to be built for securing the navigation of lake Ontario, and in making excursions towards Niagara; so as to keep the Indian country in alarm, and facilitate the operations in that quarter.
5. That a number of regiments be cantoned along the upper parts of Connecticut river, to be recruited in the winter; so as to form a body of five thousand regular troops, rank and file; and every preparation made to penetrate into Canada by way of the river St. Francis. The time of their departure must depend upon circumstances; and 64