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pressed with a strong sense of the injury and disgrace which must attend an infraction of the proposed stipulation on the part of these states, your committee have taken a general review of our finances ; of the circumstances of our army; of the magazines of clothing, artillery, arms and ammunition ; and of the provisions in store, and which can be collected in season. Your committee have, also, attentively considered the intelligence and observations communicated to them by the commander in chief, respecting the number of troops and strong holds of the enemy in Canada, their naval force, and entire command of the water communication with that country ; the difficulties, while they possess such signal advantages, of penetrating it with an army by land ; the obstacles which are to be surmounted in acquiring a naval superiority ; the hostile temper of many of the surrounding Indian tribes towards these states; and above all, the uncertainty whether the enemy will not persevere in their system of harrassing and distressing our sea-coast and frontiers by a predatory war. That
upon the most mature deliberation, your committee cannot find room for a well grounded presumption, that these states will be able to perform their part of the proposed stipulations. That, in a measure of such moment, and calculated to call forth, and divert to a single object, a considerable proportion of the force of an ally, which may otherwise be essentially employed, nothing less than the highest probability of its success would justify congress in making the proposition.
“Your committee are, therefore, of opinion, that the negociations in question however desirable and interesting, should be deferred till circumstances should render the co-operation of these states more certain, practicable and effectual."* Though the reasons of the commander in chief, publicly communicated to congress, were in themselves conclusive against the measure, yet other reasons of a delicate nature, had no little weight with him. He had serious apprehensions, that if Canada should be conquered by the aid of French troops, its inhabitants being mostly French, might wish to return to their former allegiance ;
* Secret Journals of Congress, vol. 2, pp. 127, 128.
and that the temptation to retain an old and favorite province, would be too great to be resisted on the part of France.
These apprehensions were communicated by general Washington, to a member of congress, in a private letter of the 14th of November.
“ The question of the Canada expedition,” says the general, “as it now stands, appears to me one of the most interesting that has ever agitated our national deliberations.
“ I have one objection to it, untouched in my public letter, which is, in my estimation, unsurmountable, and claims all my feelings, for the true and permanent interest of my country. This is the introduction of a large body of French troops into Canada, and putting them into the possession of the capital of that province, attached to them by the ties of blood, habits, manners, religion and former connections of government, I fear this would be too great a temptation to be resisted, by any power actuated by the common maxims of national policy. Canada would be a solid acquisition to France, on all accounts; and because of the numerous inhabitants, subjects to her by inclination, who would aid in preserving it under her power, against the attempt of any other, France, it is apprehended, would have it in her power to give law to these states.
“Let us suppose, that when the five thousand troops, (under the idea of that number, twice as many might be introduced) were entered into the city of Quebec, they should declare an intention to hold Canada as a pledge and surety for the debts due to France by the United States. It is a maxim founded on the universal experience of mankind, that no nation is to be trusted farther than it is bound by its interests; and no prudent statesman or politician will venture to depart from it. If France should even engage in the scheme, in the first instance, with the purest intentions ; invited by circumstances, she could alter her views. As the marquis clothed his proposition, when he spake of it to me, it would seem to originate wholly from himself; but it is not impossible, that it had its birth in the cabinet of France, and was put into this artful dress to give it a readier currency. I fancy I
read in the countenance of some people, on this occasion, more than the interested zeal of allies. I hope I am mistaken, and that fears of mischief make me refine too much and awaken jealousies, that have no sufficient foundation. ***
Congress direcied a letter to be written to the marquis de la Fayette, who had gone to France, apprizing him that on account of the exhausted state of the resources, and the deranged state of the finances of the United States, as well as from more extensive and accurate information concerning Canada, they did not judge it prudent or just, to enter into engagements with their allies, for the emancipation of that province.
It was natural that France should wish to see Canada, as well as the rest of America, separated from Great Britain, and that she should be willing to unite in measures to effect that object. Count de Estaing, the commander of the French fleet, had orders, to invite the Canadians to join the United States, and to renounce the domination of their new masters ; and even to promise them the protection of their former sovereign.
In pursuance of these orders, on the 28th of October, 1778, he published a declaration, addressed, in the name of the king of France, “to all the ancient French in Canada, and every other part of North America ;" calling upon them, not only in the name of the French king, but in the name of every thing dear to Frenchmen, to join the United States, and renounce the authority of Great Britain, promising them protection and support. After adverting to their former and present situation, the count thus concludes:
“I shall not ask the military companions of the marquis of Levi, those who shared his glory, who admired his talents and genius for war, who loved his cordiality and frankness, the principal characteristics of our nobility, whether there be other names in other nations, among which they would be better pleased to place their own.
“ Can the Canadians who saw the brave Montcalm fall in their defense, can they become the enemies of his nephews? Can
* Life of Washington by John Kingston and Gordon.
they fight against their former leaders, and arm themselves against their kinsmen? At the bare mention of their names, the weapons would fall out of their hands.
“I shall not observe to the ministers of the altars, that their evangelical efforts will require the special protection of providence, to prevent faith being diminished by example, by worldly interest, and by sovereigns whom force has imposed upon them, and whose political indulgence will be lessened proportionally as those sovereigns shall have less to fear. Shall not observe, that it is necessary for religion, that those who preach it, should form a body in the state, and that in Canada no other body would be more considered, or have more power to do good than that of the priests' taking a part in the government, since their respectable conduct has merited the confidence of the people.
“ I shall not represent to that people, nor to all my countrymen in general, that a vast monarchy, having the same religion, the same manners, the same language, where they find kinsmen, old friends and brethren, must be an inexhaustable source of commerce and wealth, more easily acquired and secured by their union with powerful neighbors, than with strangers of another hemisphere, among whom every thing is different, and who, jealous and despotic governments, would sooner or later treat them as a conquered people, and doubtless much worse than their countrymen the Americans, who made them victorious. I shall not urge to a whole people, that to join with the United States is to secure their own happiness ; since a whole people when they acquire the right of acting and thinking for themselves, must know their own interest; but I will declare and I now formally declare, in the name of his majesty, who has authorized and commanded me to do it, that all his former subjects in North America, who shall no more acknowledge the supremacy of Great Britain, may depend upon his protection and support."*
After the conclusion of the treaties with France, the aid and co-operation of Spain, was confidently expected by the Americans; and her accession to the treaties, agreeably to the secret
* Annual Register for 1779, and Note 5.
article, was earnestly solicited. This was refused on the part of his catholic majesty. Though desirous of reducing the power of Great Britain, by the independence of her North American colonies, the king of Spain was unwilling to be instrumental in effecting this, without some security against the probable consequences to his own extensive possessions in American, bordering on those colonies.
The security required by the Spanish court was, an exclusive right to the navigation of the river Mississippi, and a relinquishment of all claim, on the part of the Americans, to the country west of the Alleghany mountains ; and the king of Spain was highly displeased with his most christian majesty, for concluding treaties with the United States, without having insisted on this security. *
He, however, offered his mediation between France and Great Britain ; and the United States were to be included in any negociations for peace, which might be the consequence. This mediation was readily accepted on the part of France, and was listened to by Great Britain. Neither party, however, could have entertained a serious thought that peace could result from the mediation of a power, so closely connected with France, by the ties of blood, as well as by feeling, interest, and by compact. In making the offer, Spain had two objects in view, the one, to prepare her maritime force, the other, and probably, not the least important, to draw from the Americans an explicit declaration concerning their claims to the western country, and the navigation of the Mississippi. Great Britain was willing to prevent an immediate junction of the house of Bourbon against her; and she did not yet relinquish the hope of breaking the alliance between France and the United States. A correspondence on the subject of the mediation was kept up, between the courts of London and Madrid, about eight months ; in which each accused the other of a want of sincerity and good faith.
The final propositions made to the courts of Paris and London, by his catholic majesty, in his character of mediator, were, “ that
* See Histoire de Diplomatie Francaise, &c. vol. 7.