« AnteriorContinuar »
their object kept as secret as the nature of the thing will permit. When they arrive at the St. Francis, they must take a good post at the mouth of St. Francis, and turn their attention immediately to the reduction of Montreal and St. John's, and the north end of lake Champlain. These operations will be facilitated by the several movements to the westward, drawing the attention of the enemy to that quarter. If successful, so as to secure a passage across the lake, further reinforcements may be thrown in, and an additional retreat secured that way. The next operation will be in concert with the troops who are to gain the navigation of lake Ontario, &c. This operation, however, must be feeble, so long as the necessity exists of securing their rear towards Quebec. Such detachments, however, as can be spared, perhaps two thousand, with as many Canadians as will join them, are to proceed up Cadaraqui, and take a post, defensible by about three hundred men, at or near the mouth of lake Ontario. They will then join themselves to those posted, as aforesaid, at or near Oswego; and, leaving a garrison at that post, proceed together to the party at or near Niagara, at which place they ought, if possible, to arrive by the middle of September. The troops who have marched against Detroit should also, whether successful or not, return to Niagara, if that post is possesssed or besieged by the Americans; as a safe retreat can by that means be accomplished for the whole, in case of accident. On the supposition that these operations should succeed, still another campaign must be made to reduce the city of Quebec. The American troops must continue all winter in Canada. To supply them with provisions, clothing, &c. will be difficult, if not impracticable. The expense will be ruinous. The enemy will have time to reinforce. Nothing can be attempted against Halifax. Considering these circumstances, it is perhaps more prudent to make incursions with cavalry, and light infantry, and chasseurs, to harrass and alarm the enemy; and thereby prevent them from desolating our frontiers, which seems to be their object during the next campaign.
But if the reduction of Halifax and Quebec are objects of the highest importance to the allies, they must be attempted.
The importance to France is derived from the following consid
1. The fishery of Newfoundland is justly considered as the basis of a good marine.
2. The possession of those two places necessarily secures to the party, and their friends, the island and fisheries.
3. It will strengthen her allies; and guarantee more strongly their freedom and independence.
4. It will have an influence in extending the commerce of France, and restoring her to a share of the fur trade, now monopolized by Great Britain.
The importance to America results from the following consider
1. The peace of their frontiers.
2. The arrangement of their finances.
3. The accession of two states to the union.
4. The protection and security of their commerce.
5. That it will enable them to bend their whole attention and resources to the creation of a marine, which will at once serve them and assist their allies.
6. That it will secure the fisheries to the United States, and France their ally, to the total exclusion of Great Britain. Add to these considerations:
1. That Great Britain, by holding these places, will infest the coast of America with small armed vessels to the great injury of the French as well as the American trade.
2. That her possessions in the West Indies materially depend on the possession of posts to supply them with bread and lumber, and to refit their ships, and receive their sick, as well soldiers as seamen. In order then to secure, as far as human wisdom can provide, the reduction of those places, aid must be obtained from France. Suppose a body of four or five thousand French troops sail from Brest, in the beginning of May, under convoy of four ships of the line and four frigates. Their object to be avowed; but their clothing, stores, &c. such as designate them for the West Indies. Each soldier must have a good blanket, of a large size, to be made into a coat when the weather grows cool. Thick clothing for these troops should be sent in August, so as to arrive at such place as circumstances by that time may indicate, by the beginning of October. These troops, by the end of June or beginning of July, might arrive at Quebec, which for the reasons already assigned, they would in all probability find quite defenseless. Possessing themselves of that city, and leaving there the line of battle ships, the marines and a very small garrison, with as many of the Canadians as can readily be assembled, (for which purpose spare arms should be provided, which might be put up in boxes, and marked as for the militia of one of the French islands,) the frigates and transports should proceed up the river St. Lawrence, and a debarkation take place at the mouth of the river St. Francis. If the Americans are already at that place, the troops will co-operate for the purposes abovementioned: if not, a post must be taken there, an expresses sent, &c. In the interim, three of the frigates, with four of the smallest transports, should proceed to Montreal, and if possible possess that city; when the nobles and clergy should be immediately called together by the general, who should, if possible, be well acquainted with the manners both of France and of the United States. The troops should bring with them very ample provisions, especially of salted flesh, as they will come to a country exhausted by the British army. By the latter end of July, or middle of August, the reduction of Canada might be so far completed, that the ships might proceed to the investiture of Halifax, taking on board large supplies of flour. A part of the troops might march, and be followed by the sick, as they recover. A considerable body of American troops might then be spared for that service, which, with the militia of the states of Massachusetts Bay and New Hampshire, might proceed to the attack
of Halifax, so as to arrive at the beginning of September; and if that place should fall by the beginning or middle of October, the troops might either proceed against Newfoundland, or remain in garrison until the spring; at which time that conquest might be completed. If Halifax should not be taken, then the squadron and troops would still be in time to co-operate against the West Indies.
To the Hon. Benjamin Franklin, Esq.
Sir-The above plan, referred to in your instructions, you shall lay substantially before the French minister. You shall consult the marquis de la Fayette on any difficulties which may arise; and refer the ministry to him, as he hath made it his particular study to gain information on these important points.
H. L. President.
By order of Congress. Attest, C. T. Secretary.
NO. 5, omitted.
Extract from a statement made to congress, by the French minister Gerard, concerning negociations for peace, in July, 1779.
That the British ministry seem to be solicitous to be reconciled with France, and to keep up this negociation; that from thence probable hopes may be entertained of their internal disposition to peace; but at the same time, they reject with haughtiness the formal acknowledgment of the independence insisted on by France and Spain. New orders have been given to the Spanish ambassador at London to ascertain, as nearly as possible, those dispositions. In these circumstances the king his master ordered him to communicate this intelligence to the United States, that they may, if they think proper, take under consideration, if it would not be expedient to give their plenipotentiary instructions and full powers founded upon the necessity of the conjuncture and upon the treaty of alliance, the express and formal term of which are, that peace shall not be made without an express or tacit acknowledgment of the sovereignty, and consequently and a fortiori, of the rights inherent in sovereignty as well as of the independence of the United States, in matters of government and of commerce. This substantial alternative in an engagement which is a mere gratuitous gift without any compensation, or stipulation, ought indeed never to be forgot in a negociation for peace. France foresaw the extreme difficulties a formal and explicit acknowledgment might meet with. She knew by her own experience in similar contests in which she has been deeply concerned, respecting the republics of Holland, Genoa, and the Swiss cantons, how tenacious monarchs are, and how repugnant to pronounce the humiliating formula. It was only obtained for Holland tacitly, after a war of thirty years; and explicitly, after a resistance of seventy. To this day Genoa and the Swiss cantons have obtained no renunciation, nor acknowledgment,
either tacit, or formal, from their former sovereigns. But they enjoy their sovereignty and independence only under the guarantee of France. His court thought it important to provide, that difficulties of this nature, which reside merely in words, should not delay or prevent America from enjoying the thing itself. From these considerations arose the very important and explicit stipulation in the treaty, which he has just now related, and which has received the sanction of the United States. The circumstances seem already such as call for the application of the alternative of tacit, or explicit acknowledgment. All these considerations therefore are mentioned, that Congress may, if they think proper, consider whether the literal execution of the treaty in this point is not become necessary, and whether the safety and happiness of the American people, as well as the essential principles of the alliance, are not intimately connected with the resolutions that may be taken on this subject. And it remains with the prudence of congress to examine whether instructions upon some particular conditions may not frustrate the salutary purpose of the treaty of alliance relative to a tacit acknowledgment which the situation of affairs may require. In thus executing, continued he, the orders I have received, I cannot omit observing, that these orders were given with the full presumption, that the business which I laid before congress in February last would have been settled long before these despatches should come to my hands. However sensibly my court will be disappointed in her expectations, I shall add nothing to the information and observations which with the warmest zeal for the interest and honor of both countries and by the duties of my office and my instructions, I found myself bound to deliver from time to time to congress, in the course of this business. The apprehension of giving new matter to those who endeavor to throw blame upon congress, is a new motive for me to remain silent. I beg only to remind this honorable body of the aforesaid information and reflections, and particularly of those which I had the honor to deliver to an assembly similar to the present. I shall only insist on a single point, which I established then, and since in one of my memorials, namely, the manifest and striking necessity of enabling Spain, by the determination of just and moderate terms, to press upon England with her good offices, and to bring her mediation to an issue, in order that we may know whether we are to expect war or peace. This step is looked upon in Europe as immediately necessary. It was the proper object of the message I delivered in February last. I established then the strong reasons which require, that at the same time and without delay, proper terms should be offered to his catholic majesty, in order to reconcile him perfectly to the American interest. I did not conceal, that it was to be feared, that any condition inconsistent with the established form of the alliance, which is the binding and only law of the allies, and contrary to the line of conduct which Spain pursued in the course of her mediation, would lead her to drop the mediation, and prevent his catholic majesty, by motives of honor and faithfulness, from joining in our common cause,
and from completing the intended triumvirate. No loss, no unhappy event could be so heavy on the alliance as this. Indeed although the British forces are already kept in check by the combined efforts of France and America, it is nevertheless evident that the accession of Spain only can give to the alliance a decided superiority adequate to our purposes, and free us from the fatal chance that a single unlucky event may overturn the balance.
Instructions to Mr. Adams, in negociating a treaty of commerce with Great Britain, August 14th, 1779.
SIR-You will herewith receive a commission, giving you full power to negociate a treaty of commerce with Great Britain in doing which you will consider yourself bound by the following information and instructions:
1. You will govern yourself principally by the treaty of commerce with his most christian majesty; and as, on the one hand, you shall grant no privilege to Great Britain not granted by that treaty to France, so, on the other, you shall not consent to any peculiar restrictions or limitations whatever in favor of Great Britain.
2. In order that you may be the better able to act with propriety on this occasion, it is necessary for you to know, that we have determined, 1st, that the common right of fishing shall in no case be given up; 2d, that it is essential to the welfare of all these United States, that the inhabitants thereof, at the expiration of the war, should continue to enjoy the free and undisturbed exercise of their common right to fish on the banks of Newfoundland, and the other fishing banks and seas of North America, preserving inviolate the treaties between France and the said states; 3d, that application shall be made to his most christian majesty to agree to some article or articles for the better securing to these states a share in the said fisheries; 4th, that if, after a treaty of peace with Great Britain, she shall molest the citizens or inhabitants of any of the United States, in taking fish on the banks and places herein after described, such molestation being in our opinion a direct violation and breach of the peace, shall be a common cause of the said states, and the force of the union be exerted to obtain redress for the parties injured; and 5th, that our faith be pledged to the several states, that, without their unanimous consent, no treaty of commerce shall be entered into, nor any trade or commerce carried on with Great Britain, without the explicit stipulation herein after mentioned. You are therefore not to consent to any treaty of commerce with Great Britain without an explicit stipulation on her part, not to molest or disturb the inhabitants of the United States of America in taking fish on the banks of Newfoundland and other fisheries in the American seas any where, excepting within the distance of three leagues of the shores of the territories remaining to Great Britain at