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   Chapter 44 1782). No.44

Formation of the Union By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 2295

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:02


[Sidenote: Weakness of Congress.]

That Congress was able to make no better provision for the finances was due to a decline in its prestige rather than to a lack of interest in the war. Some of the ablest members were drawn into military service, or sent on foreign missions. The committee system made it inefficient, and it was difficult to bring it to a decision upon the most important matters. In vain did Washington storm, and implore it to act quickly and intelligently on military matters of great moment. Its relations with the States changed as the war advanced. Dec. 7, 1776; Congress made Washington for a time almost a dictator. In 1779 the Virginia legislature formally denied that it was "answerable to Congress for not agreeing with any of its recommendations."

[Sidenote: The loyalists.]

To the frequent unfriendly relations with the States was added the constant conflict with the loyalists. Throughout the colonies the adherents to England or the sympathizers with the English government were under grave suspicion. Many of them left the country; some enlisted with the British, and returned to fight against their own lan

d. A body of loyalists led the hostile Indians into the Wyoming valley to torture and to murder. The loyalists who remained at home were often the medium of communication with the British lines. Some of them, like Dr. Mather Byles of Boston, and George Watson of Plymouth, were allowed to remain on condition that they held their tongues. Washington was so exasperated with them that he termed them "execrable parricides." In every State the loyalists were feared and hated. When the British invaded the country, the loyalists joined them; when the British were repulsed, thousands of them were obliged to abandon their homes.

[Sidenote: Dissensions in States.]

The finances of the States were as much disturbed as those of the Union. Their paper-money issues shared the same fate. Their debts, funded and unfunded, increased. They were harassed by internal divisions, even among the patriots. In Massachusetts, Berkshire County remained until 1780 practically independent, and the county convention did not scruple to declare to the General Court that there were "other States which will, we doubt not, as bad as we are, gladly receive us."

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