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   Chapter 4 UNION AND INDEPENDENCE (1775-1783).

Formation of the Union, 1750-1829 By Albert Bushnell Hart Characters: 61743

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34. REFERENCES.

BIBLIOGRAPHIES.-Justin Winsor, Narrative and Critical History, VI. passim, VII. 1-214, VIII. App.; and Readers' Handbook of the Revolution; W. F. Allen, History Topics, 107, 108; W. E. Foster, References to the Constitution of the United States, 11-14; Channing and Hart, Guide, §§ 136-141.

HISTORICAL MAPS.-Nos. 2 and 3 this volume (Epoch Maps, Nos. 4 and 5); H. C Lodge, Colonies, frontispiece; Scribner, Statistical Atlas, Pl. 12; Rhode, Atlas, No. xxviii.; Geo. Bancroft, United States (original edition), V. 241; Labberton, Atlas, lxiv.; B. A. Hinsdale, Old Northwest, I. 176, 180 (republished from T. MacCoun, Historical Geography); List of contemporary maps in Winsor, Handbook, 302, school histories of Channing, Johnston, Scudder, Thomas.

GENERAL ACCOUNTS.-G T. Curtis, Constitutional History, I. chs. i.- iv. (History of the Constitution, I 28-123); W. E. H. Lecky, England in the Eighteenth Century, IV. ch iv.; Geo. Bancroft, United States, VII. chap. xxvii. (last revision, IV. Chs. ix.-xxvii, V.); R. Hildreth, United States, IV. 57-373, 411-425, 440-444; Edward Channing, United States, 1765-1865, ch iii.; W. M. Sloane, French War and Revolution chs. xviii.- xxiv.; H. C. Lodge, George Washington, I. chs. v.-xi.; Abiel Holmes, Annals of America, II. 199-353; Bryant and Gay, United States, III. 377-623, IV. 1-74; Justin Winsor, Narrative and Critical History, VI chs ii.-ix., VII. chs. i., ii.; J. R. Green, English People, IV. 254-271; Adolphus, England, II. 333-433, passim; Story, Commentaries, §§ 198-217; T. Pitkin, United States, I. 282-422, II. 37-153.

SPECIAL HISTORIES.-G. W. Greene, Historical View; R. Frothingham,

Rise of the Republic, 403-568; John Fiske, American Revolution; J. M.

Ludlow, War of American Independence, chs. v.-viii.; Geo. Pellew, John

Jay, 59-228; E. J. Lowell, Hessians; Charles Borgeaud, Rise of Modern

Democracy; M. C. Tyler, Literature of the Revolution, II.; L. Sabine,

American Loyalists; H. B. Carrington, Battles of the Revolution; W. B.

Weeden, New England, II. chs. xx, xxi.; W. G. Sumner, Financier and

Finances of the American Revolution.

CONTEMPORARY ACCOUNTS.-Journals of Congress, Secret Journals of

Congress, works and full biographies of the Revolutionary Statesmen;

Peter Force, American Archives; Jared Sparks, Correspondence of the

Revolution; F. Wharton, Diplomatic Correspondence; John Adams and

Abigail Adams, Familiar Letters; Tom Paine, Common Sense; Crevecoeur,

Letters from an American Farmer [1770-1781]; J. Anbury, Travels [1776-

1781]; Chastellux, Voyage de Newport [also in translation, 1780-1781];

W. B. Donne, Correspondence of George III. with Lord North [1768-1783];

Francis Hopkins, Essays and Writings; Philip Freneau, Poems; Baroness

Riedesel, Letters and Memoirs.-Reprints in Niles, Principles and Acts

of the Revolution; D. R. Goodloe, Birth of the Republic, 205-353;

Mathew Carey, Remembrancer; Frank Moore, Diary of the American

Revolution, Old South Leaflets, American History told by

Contemporaries, II.

35. THE STRENGTH OF THE COMBATANTS (1775).

[Sidenote: Power of Great Britain.]

When we compare the population and resources of the two countries, the defiance of the colonists seems almost foolhardy. In 1775 England, Ireland, and Scotland together had from eight to ten million souls; while the colonies numbered but three millions. Great Britain had a considerable system of manufactures, and the greatest foreign commerce in the world, and rich colonies in every quarter of the globe poured wealth into her lap. What she lacked she could buy. In the year 1775 the home government raised ten million pounds in taxes, and when the time came she was able to borrow hundreds of millions in all the colonies together, two million pounds in money was the utmost that could be raised in a single year by any system of taxes or loans. In 1776 one hundred and thirty cruisers and transports brought the British army to New York: the whole American navy had not more than seventeen vessels. In moral resources Great Britain was decidedly stronger than America. Parliament was divided, but the king was determined. On Oct 15, 1775, he wrote: "Every means of distressing America must meet with my concurrence." Down to 1778 the war was popular in England, and interfered little with her prosperity.

[Sidenote: Weakness of America.]

How was it in America? Canada, the Floridas, the West Indies, and Nova Scotia held off. Of the three millions of population, five hundred thousand were negro slaves, carried no muskets, and caused constant fear of revolt. John Adams has said that more than a third part of the principal men in America were throughout opposed to the Revolution; and of those who agreed with the principles of the Revolution, thousands thought them not worth fighting for. There were rivalries and jealousies between American public men and between the sections. The troops of one New England State refused to serve under officers from another State. The whole power of England could be concentrated upon the struggle, and the Revolution would have been crushed in a single year if the eyes of the English had not been so blinded to the real seriousness of the crisis that they sent small forces and inefficient commanders. England was at peace with all the world, and might naturally expect to prevent the active assistance of the colonies by any other power.

[Sidenote: The two armies.]

[Sidenote: Hessians.]

[Sidenote: Indians.]

[Sidenote: Discipline.]

When the armies are compared, the number and enthusiasm of the Americans by no means made up for the difference of population. On the average, 33,000 men were under the American colors each year; but the army sometimes fell, as at the battle of Princeton, Jan. 2, 1777, to but 5,000. The English had an average of 40,000 troops in the colonies, of whom from 20,000 to 25,000 might have been utilized in a single military operation; and in the crisis of the general European war, about 1780, Great Britain placed 314,000 troops under arms in different parts of the world. The efficiency of the American army was very much diminished by the fact that two kinds of troops were in service,-the Continentals, enlisted by Congress; and the militia, raised by each colony separately. Of these militia, New England, with one fourth of the population of the country, furnished as many as the other colonies put together. The British were able to draw garrisons from other parts of the world, and to fill up gaps with Germans hired like horses; yet, although sold by their sovereign at the contract price of thirty-six dollars per head, and often abused in service, these Hessians made good soldiers, and sometimes saved British armies in critical moments. Another sort of aliens were brought into the contest, first by the Americans, later by the English. These were the Indians. They were intractable in the service of both sides, and determined no important contest; but since the British were the invaders, their use of the Indians combined with that of the Hessians to exasperate the Americans, although they had the same kind of savage allies, and eventually called in foreigners also. In discipline the Americans were far inferior to the English. General Montgomery wrote: "The privates are all generals, but not soldiers;" and Baron Steuben wrote to a Prussian officer a little later: "You say to your soldier, 'Do this,' and he doeth it; but I am obliged to say to mine, 'This is the reason why you ought to do that,' and then he does it." The British officers were often incapable, but they had a military training, and were accustomed to require and to observe discipline. The American officers came in most cases from civil life, had no social superiority over their men, and were so unruly that John Adams wrote in 1777: "They quarrel like cats and dogs. They worry one another like mastiffs, scrambling for rank and pay like apes for nuts."

[Sidenote: Commanders.]

The success of the Revolution was, nevertheless, due to the personal qualities of these officers and their troops, when directed by able commanders. In the early stages of the war the British generals were slow, timid, unready, and inefficient. Putnam, Wayne, Greene, and other American generals were natural soldiers; and in Washington we have the one man who never made a serious blunder, who was never frightened, who never despaired, and whose unflinching confidence was the rallying point of the military forces of the nation.

[Sidenote: Plans of campaign.]

The theatre of the war was more favorable to the British than to the Americans. There were no fortresses, and the coast was everywhere open to the landing of expeditions. The simplest military principle demanded the isolation of New England, the source and centre of the Revolution, from the rest of the colonies. From 1776 the British occupied the town of New York, and they held Canada. A combined military operation from both South and North would give them the valley of the Hudson. The failure of Burgoyne's expedition in 1777 prevented the success of this manoeuvre. The war was then transferred to the Southern colonies, with the intention to roll up the line of defence, as the French line had been rolled up in 1758; but whenever the British attempted to penetrate far into the country from the sea-coast, they were eventually worsted and driven back.

36. THE SECOND CONTINENTAL CONGRESS (1775).

[Sidenote: Conception of a "Congress."]

Before the war could be fought, some kind of civil organization had to be formed. On May 10, 1775, three weeks after the battle of Lexington, the second Continental Congress assembled in Philadelphia, and continued, with occasional adjournments, till May 1, 1781. To the minds of the men of that day a congress was not a legislature, but a diplomatic assembly, a meeting of delegates for conference, and for suggestions to their principals. To be sure, this Congress represented the people, acting through popular conventions, and not the old colonial assemblies; yet those conventions assumed to exercise the powers of government in the colonies, and expected the delegates to report back to them, and to ask for instructions. Nevertheless, the delegates at once began to pass resolutions which were to have effect without any ratification by the legislatures. Of the nine colonies which gave formal instructions to their representatives, all but one directed them to "order" something, or to "determine" something, or to pass "binding" Acts.

[Sidenote: Advisory action.]

Thus Congress began rather as the adviser than as the director of the colonies; but it advised strong measures. On May 30, 1775, a plan of conciliation suggested by Lord North was pronounced "unreasonable and insidious." On the request of the provincial congress of Massachusetts Bay, it recommended that body to "form a temporary colonial government until a governor of his Majesty's appointment will consent to govern the colony according to its charter." June 12, Congress issued a proclamation recommending "a day of public humiliation, fasting, and prayer." Like the First Continental Congress, it framed several petitions and addresses to the British people and to the king of Great Britain. During the first six weeks of its existence, therefore, the Second Continental Congress acted chiefly as the centre for common consultation, and as the agent for joint expostulation.

37. THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT FORMED (1775).

[Sidenote: War in Massachusetts.]

[Sidenote: National military measures.]

The situation rapidly passed beyond the stage of advice. The people of Massachusetts and the neighboring colonies, on their own motion, had shut up the governor of the colony and his troops in the town of Boston, and were formally besieging him. On June 17 the British made their last sortie, and attacked and defeated the besieging forces at Bunker Hill. Neither the country nor Congress could long stand still. Precisely a week after assembling, Congress voted that certain commerce "must immediately cease." A week later, May 26, they "Resolved, unanimously, that the militia of New York be armed and trained … to prevent any attempt that may be made to gain possession of the town;" and on June 14 the momentous resolution was reached that "an American continental army should be raised." On the following day George Washington, Esq., of Virginia, "was unanimously selected to command all the continental forces raised or to be raised for the defence of American liberty." In October the fitting out of a little navy and the commissioning of privateers were authorized.

These acts were acts of war such as up to this time had been undertaken only by individual colonies or by the home government. They were, further, acts of united resistance, and in form they pledged the whole country to the establishment of a military force, and the maintenance of hostilities until some accommodation could be reached.

[Sidenote: National diplomacy.]

[Sidenote: Other national powers.]

In other directions the Continental Congress showed similar energy. November 29, 1775, "a Committee of Correspondence with our friends abroad" was ordered, and thus began, the foreign relations of the United States of America. National ambassadors were eventually sent out; no colony presumed to send its own representative across the sea; foreign affairs from this time on were considered solely a matter for the Continental Congress. In like manner, Congress quietly took up most of the other matters which had been acknowledged up to this time to belong to the home government. Congress assumed the control of the frontier Indians, till this time the wards of England. The post-national office had been directed by English authority; Congress took it over. The boundaries and other relations of the colonies had been strictly regulated by the home government; Congress undertook to mediate in boundary disputes. Parliament had controlled trade; Congress threw open American ports to all foreign nations, and prohibited the slave-trade. In financial matters Congress went far beyond any powers ever exercised by England. June 22 it ordered an issue of two million dollars in continental paper currency, and subscriptions to national loans were opened both at home and abroad.

[Sidenote: Basis of national authority.]

This assumption of powers is the more remarkable since their exercise by England had caused the Revolution. The right to raise money by national authority, the right to maintain troops without the consent of the colonies, and the right to enforce regulations on trade,-these were the three disputed points in the English policy of control. They were all exercised by the Continental Congress, and accepted by the colonies. In a word, the Continental Congress constituted a government exercising great sovereign powers. It began with no such authority; it never received such authority until 1781. The war must be fought, the forces of the people must be organized; there was no other source of united power and authority; without formally agreeing to its supremacy, the colonies and the people at large acquiesced, and accepted it as a government.

[Sidenote: Organization of the government.]

For the carrying out of great purposes Congress was singularly inefficient. The whole national government was composed of a shifting body of representatives elected from time to time by the colonial or State legislatures. It early adopted the system of forming executive committees out of its own number: of these the most important was the Board of War, of which John Adams was the most active member. Later on, it appointed executive boards, of which some or all the members were not in Congress: the most notable example was the Treasury Office of Accounts. Difficult questions of prize and maritime law arose; and Congress established a court, which was only a committee of its own members. In all cases the committees, boards, or officials were created, and could be removed, by Congress. The final authority on all questions of national government in all its forms was simply a majority of colonies or States in the Continental Congress.

38. INDEPENDENCE DECLARED (1776).

[Sidenote: Tendency towards independence.]

Under the direction of Congress and the command of General Washington the siege of Boston was successfully pushed forward during the winter of 1775- 76. From the beginning of the struggle to this time two political currents had been running side by side,-the one towards a union of the colonies, the other towards independence. Of these the current of union had run a little faster. Notwithstanding the authority which they had set over themselves, the colonies still professed to be loyal members of the British empire. To be sure, there is a strong smack of insincerity in the protestations poured forth by the assemblies and the second Continental Congress. But John Adams says: "That there existed a general desire of independence of the Crown in any part of America before the Revolution, is as far from the truth as the zenith is from the nadir." Yet Patrick Henry declared as early as September, 1774. that "Government is dissolved. Fleets and armies and the present state of things show that government is dissolved. We are in a state of nature, sir…. All America is thrown into one mass."

[Sidenote: Hesitation.]

[Sidenote: Suggestion of independence.]

From the moment that the Second Continental Congress had ordered the colonies to be put in a state of defence, either independence must come, or thee colonies must submit. No far-seeing man could expect that England would make the concessions which the colonies declared indispensable. Yet for more than a year Congress hesitated to declare publicly that the Americans would not return to obedience. As forgiving and loyal subjects of a king misled by wicked advisers, they still seemed supported by precedent and acting on the rights of Englishmen. Suggestions were made throughout 1775 looking towards independence Thus the New Hampshire Revolutionary Convention declared that "the voice of God and of nature demand of the colonies to look to their own political affairs." In May, 1775, came the resolutions of a committee of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. In declaring that the government of the colonies had ceased to exist, they were probably not different in spirit from many other resolutions passed by like bodies. On July 8, 1775, Congress sent its last formal petition to the Crown. In it "Your Majesty's faithful subjects" set forth "the impossibility of reconciling the usual appearance of respect with a just Attention to our own preservation against those artful and cruel Enemies who abuse your royal Confidence and Authority for the Purpose of effecting our destruction." Congress was determined to wait until the petition had been received. On the day when it was to have been handed to the king, appeared a royal proclamation announcing that open and armed rebellion was going on in America.

[Sidenote: Congress determined.]

The news of the fate of the petition reached Philadelphia on October 31. The hesitation of Congress was at an end. Three days later it resolved to recommend the people of New Hampshire to establish their own government. The next day similar advice was given to South Carolina, with the promise of continental troops to defend the colony. Here for the first time was an official recognition of the fact that the colonies stood no longer under English control. It was an assertion that independence existed, and the steps towards a formal declaration were rapid.

[Sidenote: Independence decided on.]

[Sidenote: Declaration of Independence.]

[Sidenote: Rights of man.]

In this as in other similar crises Congress waited to find out the wish of the colonial legislatures. By May 15, 1776, the opinion of so many colonies had been received in favor of a declaration of independence that Congress voted, "That it is necessary that the exercise of every kind of authority under the Crown of Great Britain should be totally suppressed." Congress was now committed; and during the next few weeks the form of the declaration was the important question for discussion. Throughout the country, resolutions in favor of independence were passed by legislatures, conventions, and public meetings. On July 4, 1776, Congress adopted a solemn Declaration of Independence. Like the statement of grievances of 1765 and the declaration of 1774, this great state paper, drawn by the nervous pen of Thomas Jefferson, set forth the causes of ill-feeling toward Great Britain. First comes a statement of certain self-evident truths, a reiteration of those rights of man upon which Otis had dwelt in his speech of 1761. Then follows an enumeration of grievances put forward in this crisis as their justification in the face of the world; yet of the twenty-nine specifications of oppressive acts, not more than five were manifestly illegal according to the prevailing system of English law. So far as the Declaration of Independence shows, liberality and concession on the part of England might even then have caused the Revolution to halt.

[Sidenote: Assertion of independence.]

Another part of the Declaration is a statement that "These United Colonies are free and independent states, dissolved from all allegiance to Great Britain, and have the powers of sovereign states." In form and spirit this clause does not create independent states, but declares that they are already independent. Independence in no wise changed the status or character of the Continental Congress: it continued to direct military operations and foreign negotiations, to deal with the Indians, and to regulate national finances. The immediate effect of the Declaration of Independence was that it obliged every American to take sides for or against the Revolution. No one could any longer entertain the delusion that he could remain loyal to Great Britain while making war upon her. It was, therefore, a great encouragement to the patriots, who speedily succeeded, in most colonies, in driving out or silencing the loyalists. There is a tradition that another member of Congress said to Franklin at this time, "We must all hang together." "Yes," replied Franklin, "we must all hang together, or we shall all hang separately."

39. NEW STATE GOVERNMENTS FORMED (1775-1777).

[Sidenote: Is the Union older than the States?]

[Sidenote: Revolutionary governments.]

A practical result of the Declaration of Independence was that from that day each colony assumed the name of State; and the union changed its name of "The United Colonies" to the proud title of "The United States of America." Were the new States essentially different from the colonies? This is one of the insoluble questions connected with the formation of the Union. Calhoun later declared that the Declaration of Independence changed the colonies from provinces subject to Great Britain to States subject to nobody. Lincoln in his message of July 4, 1861, said that "The Union gave each of them whatever of independence and liberty it has. The Union is older than any of the States, and in fact it created them as States." That the States did not regard independence as freeing them from their relation to Congress may be seen from the fact that their new governments were formed under the direction or with the permission of Congress. The outbreak of the Revolution in 1775 had suddenly destroyed the constitutional governments with which the colonies were familiar. Everywhere courts were prevented from sitting, and governors were impeded or driven out. In order to organize resistance and also to carry out the ordinary purposes of government, in each colony there arose a revolutionary and unauthorized body, known as the Provincial Convention, or Provincial Congress, which took upon itself all the powers of government. The new arrangement was unsatisfactory to a people accustomed to orderly government and to stable administrations. They turned to Congress for advice. At first Congress suggested only temporary arrangements. In November, 1775, it encouraged the colonies to form permanent organizations, and on May 10, 1776, it advised them all to "adopt such governments as shall … best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular, and America in general."

[Sidenote: State constitutions.]

Acting under these suggestions, the colonies had already begun before July 4, 1776, to draw up written instruments of government. In two States, Connecticut and Rhode Island, the old charters were so democratic that with a few slight changes of phraseology they were sufficient for the new conditions. In all other colonies the opportunity was taken to alter the familiar machinery. The Provincial Conventions, or, in one case, a special Constitutional Convention, drew up a constitution and put it into force. Since the governor had been unpopular, in several cases his place was supplied by an executive council. The courts were reorganized on the old basis, and the judges were left appointive. The first constitution to be formed was that of New Hampshire. January 5, 1776, the Provincial Congress voted "to take up civil government as follows." By 1777, nine other new constitutions had thus been provided. They mark an epoch in the constitutional history of the world. The great English charters and the Act of Settlement were constitutional documents; but they covered only a small part of the field of government. Almost for the first time in history, representatives of the people were assembled to draw up systematic and complete constitutions, based on the consent of the governed.

[Sidenote: Constitution of Massachusetts.]

Singularly enough, the last State to form a definite constitution was Massachusetts. Till 1776, that colony claimed to be acting under a charter which England was ignoring. The General Court then chose councillors of its own to act as an executive. Dissensions broke out, and a considerable body of the people of Berkshire County repudiated this government and demanded a new constitution. In 1780 a constitution was drafted by a convention assembled solely for that purpose, and, for the first time in the history of America, the work of a convention was submitted for ratification by a popular vote.

40. THE FIRST PERIOD OF THE WAR (1775-1778).

[Sidenote: British military policy.]

Two policies presented themselves to the British government at the beginning of the war. They might have used their great naval strength alone, blockading the coast and sealing every harbor; thus the colonies would be cut off from the rest of the world, and allowed to enjoy their independence until they were ready to return to their allegiance. The alternative of invasion was chosen; but it was useless, with the forces available, to occupy any considerable part of the interior. By threatening various parts of the coast, the Americans could be obliged to make many detachments of their few troops. By occupying the principal towns, such as Newport, New York, Philadelphia, Charleston, and Savannah, the centres of resistance could be broken up, the loyalists encouraged, and bases established, from which the main American armies were to be reached and destroyed. On the sea the navy was to be used to ruin American commerce and to prevent the importation of supplies.

[Sidenote: American military policy.]

The policy of the Americans was, not to attempt to defend the whole coast, but to keep as large a number of troops as they could raise together in one body, as a substantial army; to defend their land communication from New England to the South; and by standing ready for operations in the field, to prevent the British from making any large detachments. They must hold as much of their territory as possible, in order to prevent defections; and they must take every advantage of their defensive position, in order at length to hem in and capture the opposing armies on the coast, as they did finally at Yorktown. The open gate through the Hudson they strove to close early in the war by invasion of Canada. On the sea all they could do was to capture supplies and destroy commerce, and by the ravages of their privateers to inspire the enemy with respect.

[Sidenote: Plans frustrated.]

Neither party was able to carry out its plans. The British took all the principal seaports, but were able to hold none, except New York, to the end of the war. First Burgoyne and later Cornwallis made a determined attempt to penetrate far into the interior, and both were captured. On the other hand, the Americans could not shake off the main central army, and there was danger to the very last that the British would beat them in one pitched battle which would decide the war.

[Sidenote: Campaign of 1776.]

[Sidenote: Princeton and Trenton.]

Military operations began with several surprises to the advantage of the colonists. They took Ticonderoga and invested Boston before the British government believed that a fight was impending. An expedition to Canada failed in 1775-76, but Boston fell. Down to the day of the Declaration of Independence the advantage was clearly with the colonists. The hard, stern struggle of the war began in August, 1776, with the arrival of the British in the harbor of New York. The Americans were attacked on Long Island, and obliged to retreat across the river; when the militia were attacked on that side Washington says: "They ran away in the greatest confusion, without firing a shot." Eye-witnesses relate that "His Excellency was left on the ground within eighty yards of the enemy, so vexed with the infamous conduct of the troops that he sought death rather than life." The American army with difficulty escaped northward, and Washington was obliged to abandon the important line of the Hudson, and to retreat before the British towards Philadelphia. The campaign of 1776 had gone against the Americans. Suddenly out of the gloom and despair came two brilliant little victories. Crossing the Delaware on Christmas night, 1776, Washington struck and beat parts of the British forces at Trenton and Princeton. They retired, and the patriots held Philadelphia during the winter.

[Sidenote: Campaign of 1777.]

[Sidenote: Steadfastness of the American army.]

In the spring of 1777 Howe transferred his troops by sea to the Chesapeake, beat the Americans, occupied Philadelphia, and lay in that city till the next year. It was a dear success. While the main British force was thus withdrawn from New York, an attempt was made to pierce the colonies from the n

orthward. Burgoyne slowly descended during the summer of 1777; but, unsupported by Howe, on October 17 he was obliged to surrender his whole army at Saratoga. This victory roused the spirit and courage of the new nation, and strengthened the hands of the envoys who were begging for French alliance. It enabled Washington to maintain a small army in winter quarters at Valley Forge, twenty miles from Philadelphia. Whatever the early faults of American troops and officers, they had learned to obey and to suffer as soldiers, patriots, and heroes. At one time barely five thousand men were fit for duty. "Naked and starving as they are." wrote Washington, "we cannot sufficiently admire the incomparable patience and fidelity of the soldiers." With the first days of the year 1778 came the darkest hour of the Revolution. The little army, the indispensable hope, was beginning to thin out; the finances of the country were desperate; nine hundred American vessels had been captured; an apathy had fallen upon the country. Yet light was beginning to dawn: Steuben, the German, had begun to introduce the discipline which was to make the American army a new and powerful instrument; Lafayette had brought the sympathy of France and his own substantial services; more than all, during these dark days the American envoys were concluding the treaty with France which was to save the Union.

41. FOREIGN RELATIONS (1776-1780).

[Sidenote: Interest of France.]

[Sidenote: English plan of reconciliation.]

From the beginning of the American struggle the French government had looked on with interest and pleasure. The arrogance of England during the previous war and during the negotiations of 1763 had excited a general dislike throughout Europe. When, in June, 1776, Silas Deane appeared at Paris as the American envoy, he found, not recognition, but at least sympathy and assistance. Beaumarchais, a play-writer and adventurer, was made an unofficial agent of France; and through him arms and supplies from royal arsenals came into the hands of the Americans. More to the purpose, money was placed at the disposal of the envoys. In 1776 a million francs were thus secured; in 1777 two millions. The arrival of Franklin in Paris in December, 1776, increased the American influence, and negotiations were entered upon for a treaty. The English cabinet, understanding the danger of a double war, made a last effort at reconciliation with the colonies. In 1778 Lord North brought forward an act declaring that Parliament "will not impose any duty, taxes, or assessment whatever … in North America or the West Indies, except only such duties as it may be expedient to impose for the regulation of commerce, the net produce of such duties to be always paid and applied to and for the use of the colony in which the same shall be levied." The principle which had been so strenuously asserted by the home government from 1765 to 1774 was now abandoned; it might reasonably be expected that the violent acts of Massachusetts directed against taxation would be forgiven. Commissioners were sent to America with almost unlimited powers to remove the grievances of the colonies, and to restore peace and concord.

[Sidenote: Alliance with France.]

Before they were appointed, a treaty of alliance had been made, Feb. 6, 1778, between the United States and France. With it went a treaty of commerce, insuring reciprocal trade with France. The colonies, which in 1758 had been fiercely fighting the French as their hereditary enemies, were now delighted at the prospect of their support. The peace commission remained in America from June to October; but though they offered every concession short of absolute independence, the Americans remained firm, and entered with confidence on the campaign of 1778.

42. THE WAR ENDED (1778-1782).

[Sidenote: Stubbornness of George III.]

[Sidenote: Campaign of 1778.]

The European crisis was favorable to the Americans; the British government had hitherto been unable to reduce them; the Germans would furnish no more mercenaries; a strong minority in Parliament opposed the American war; France had declared war in March, 1778, and Spain was about to follow. Proper reinforcements could not be sent to America. The country cried out for Pitt, who had declared himself positively against American independence. The king resolutely refused. "No advantage to this country, no personal danger to myself," said he, "can ever make me address myself to Lord Chatham or to any other branch of the opposition." Pitt died on May 11, and the chance of a statesmanlike policy disappeared. When the French fleet, with four thousand troops, appeared in American waters in July, 1778, Washington formed the hopeful plan of driving the British out of the country. Philadelphia had been abandoned by Clinton, acting under orders of the British government. Only two places were left in the possession of the British,-New York city and Newport, Rhode Island. The combined American and French expedition against Newport was a failure, although, as Washington said, "it would have given the finishing blow to British pretensions of sovereignty over this country."

[Sidenote: The war continued.]

Meanwhile, in England the king was imposing his relentless will upon a ministry tired of the war, and upon the English people. It was the climax of George the Third's effort to escape from the principle of Parliamentary responsibility. "This country," he said, "will never regain a proper tone unless ministers, as in the reign of King William, will not mind now and then being in a minority." In April, 1779, Spain allied herself with France, and the combined fleets of those two powers obtained the mastery of the seas. Paul Jones, with a little fleet under an American commission, captured two British men-of-war, almost in sight of the English coast.

[Sidenote: Southern campaign.]

A new plan was formed for an American campaign in 1779. Forces were directed against Georgia and South Carolina,-States in which there were many loyalists. Savannah was taken, Charleston was assailed, and the expedition under Cornwallis penetrated far into North Carolina. Yet at the end of 1780 the British held, besides New York, only the provinces of South Carolina and Georgia. In September, 1780, Benedict Arnold all but delivered to the hands of the enemy the important fortress of West Point. He was weary of the struggle, and anxious to secure his own safety.

[Sidenote: Surrender of Yorktown.]

With renewed spirit the Americans in 1781 took the offensive in the Carolinas under Greene. Cornwallis moved northward to the peninsula of Yorktown. The moment had come. By a rapid movement of Washington's army and the effective cooperation of the French fleet, Cornwallis was trapped at Yorktown; and on Oct. 19, 1781, he surrendered, with eight thousand men. It was the first decided victory which Washington had himself gained. It made evident to England the hopelessness of continuing the contest; and in November, 1782, peace was made.

[Sidenote: Reasons for American success.]

The Revolutionary war was successful because the English underestimated the strength of the movement at the beginning, because the English commanders were incapable, and because in the later period, when the British were aroused, their strength was diverted by the dangerous European war. It was gained finally by the firmness and resolution of the people, and that resolution is typified in Washington. His patience and endurance, his ability to hold in check large forces with small armies imperfectly equipped, his power to keep the country up to the support of the war, mark him as one of the world's great military commanders.

43. FINANCES OF THE REVOLUTION (1775-1783).

[Sidenote: Resources.]

The successful termination of the war is the more remarkable because it was fought by a government almost without means, and finally without credit. The saddest part of the suffering at Valley Forge is that it was unnecessary. There was always food and clothing in the country, but Congress had no money to buy it. Congress had no power to lay taxes, and the colonies, most of which were spending large sums on their own militia, were not disposed to supply the general treasury. The pay of the Continental troops and of the general officers, the furnishing of equipments and stores, the support of foreign embassies, were burdens that must be borne, and Congress must find the means.

[Sidenote: Continental currency.]

The most successful and the most disastrous resource was the issue of paper-money. When, in June, 1775, it was proposed to meet the general expenses by putting forth two millions in Continental notes, there was but feeble objection. It was the only way of raising money which seemed to cost nobody anything. In the course of a year four millions more followed. Congress, with commendable foresight, called upon each colony to pay in a sum sufficient to retire its proportion of the issue. Nothing was paid, and the printing-press was again put in motion, until in January, 1779, fifty millions were issued at a time. In November, 1779, the limit of two hundred millions was reached. In order to float these notes the States passed acts making them a legal tender; but at the same time they were themselves issuing large sums in a similar currency. Counterfeits abounded, but it soon became a matter of little difference whether a bill was good or bad, since the best was worth so little. From the time of the capture of New York by the British in 1776 the notes began to fall. In 1778 the news of the French alliance caused a little rise; but in 1781 the bills fell to a point where a thousand dollars exchanged for one dollar in specie, and a Philadelphia wag made out of the notes a blanket for his dog. The Continental currency was never redeemed, and was consequently a forced tax on those who were least able to pay, since every holder lost by its depreciation while in his hands.

[Sidenote: Loans.]

The absolutely necessary expenditures, without which no army could make head against the British, were from twenty to twenty-five million specie dollars each year. Of this the Continental bills furnished on an average some eight or ten millions. Another method of raising money was that of borrowing on funded loans. Great schemes were put forth. The United States were to borrow at four per cent; they were to borrow two millions; they were to borrow ten millions; they were to borrow twenty millions. The result was that in three years $181,000 was thus loaned, and up to the end of the war but $1,600,000,-hardly a hundredth part of the necessary means. Failing to raise money directly, recourse was bad to the so-called loan-office certificates. These were issued to creditors of the government, and bore interest. The greater part of the military supplies were paid for in this extravagant and demoralizing fashion, and in 1789 they had to be settled, with accumulated interest amounting to nearly fifty per cent. Better success was had in Europe. No private banker would lend money to a set of rebels not recognized by any government as independent, but the French and Spanish governments were willing to advance both money and stores. In this way the United States received about three million dollars.

[Sidenote: Requisitions.]

When it was evident that the domestic loan had failed, Congress called upon the States to furnish five millions of dollars, apportioned among them according to their importance. These requisitions were repeated at intervals during the Revolution, but always with the same effect. Not a fourth part of the sums asked for was paid by the States. A system of "specific supplies" was adopted in 1778, by which the States were allowed to pay their quotas in kind. It added a new source of confusion, and brought no more revenue.

[Sidenote: Miscellaneous resources.]

Every device that the government could put into operation for raising money was eventually tried. A lottery brought considerable sums into the treasury, the supplies for the army were seized at Valley Forge and elsewhere, and paid for in certificates. Bills were drawn on foreign ministers for funds which it was hoped they might have in hand by the time the bills reached them, and the government bought, and sent abroad to meet its indebtedness, cargoes of tobacco and other products.

[Sidenote: Speculation.]

The financial burdens of the government were increased by a spirit of extravagance, speculation, and even of corruption. Washington wrote, "Unless extortion, forestalling, and other practices which have … become exceedingly prevalent can meet with proper checks, we must inevitably sink under such a load of accumulated oppressions." The whole cost of the war is estimated at one hundred and thirty-five millions. Of this about one hundred millions had been raised through the Continental bills and other devices. About thirty-five millions remained as a national debt.

44. INTERNAL DIFFICULTIES (1775-1782).

[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 land. 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."

45. FORMATION OF A CONSTITUTION (1776-1781).

[Sidenote: Preliminaries of a constitution.]

[Sidenote: Articles submitted.]

One cause of the weakness of Congress and the disorders in the States was the want of a settled national government. The Continental Congress understood that it was but a makeshift, and on the day when a committee was formed to frame a Declaration of Independence, another committee was appointed to draw up Articles of Confederation. It reported July 12, 1776; but the moment discussion began, it was seen that there were almost insuperable difficulties. The first was the question whether each State should have one vote, as in the existing government, or whether each should cast a number of votes in proportion to its population; the second question was how revenue should be raised and assessed; the third was how the western country should be held; the fourth was what powers should be given to the general government, and what retained by the States; the fifth, how disputes within the Union should be settled. When, on Nov. 15, 1777, Congress had finally adopted a draft of Articles of Confederation, the decline of its power and influence was reflected in the proposed instrument of government. On the question of representation, the rule of vote by States was continued. The only taxation was a formal system of requisitions on the States. Here the question of slavery was unexpectedly brought in: the Northern States desired to apportion the taxes according to total population, including slaves. "Our slaves are our property" said Lynch, of South Carolina; "If that is debated, there is an end of the Confederation. Being our property, why should they be taxed more than sheep?" A compromise was reached, by which requisitions were to be assessed in proportion to the value of lands in the several States. The question of control of territory was not distinctly settled by the articles. The powers to be conferred upon the Confederation were practically limited to war, peace, and foreign affairs. A cumbrous system of arbitration courts was established for disputes between States, but there was no machinery for settling quarrels between States and the national government.

[Sidenote: The Western lands.]

[Sidenote: Maryland will not ratify.]

[Sidenote: Articles in force.]

Congress had spent a year and a half in forming the Articles of Confederation. The States took three and a half years in ratifying them. Ten States early signified their willingness to adopt them. Three others stood out because the Western lands were left in dispute. In 1776 when the British authority had been declared no longer existent in the colonies, each of the new States considered itself possessed of all the British lands which at any time had been included within its boundary; and in 1778 Virginia had captured the few British posts northwest of the Ohio, and had shortly after created that immense region, now the seat of five powerful States, into the "County of Illinois." On the other hand, it was strongly urged that the Western territory had been secured through a war undertaken by all the colonies for the whole country, and that the lands ought to be reserved to reward the continental soldiers, and to secure the debt of the United States. For the sake of union, two of the three dissatisfied commonwealths agreed to the Articles of Confederation. One State alone stood firm: Maryland, whose boundaries could not be so construed as to include any part of the lands, refused to ratify unless the claims of Virginia were disallowed; Virginia and Connecticut proposed to close the Union without Maryland; Virginia even opened a land office for the sale of a part of the territory in dispute; but threats had no effect. New York, which had less to gain from the Western territory than the other claimants, now came forward with the cession of her claims to the United States; and Virginia, on Jan. 2, 1781, agreed to do the like. On March 1, 1781, it was announced that Maryland had ratified the Articles of Confederation, and they were duly put into force. From that date the Congress, though little changed in personnel or in powers, was acting under a written constitution, and the States had bound themselves to abide by it.

46. PEACE NEGOTIATED (1779-1782).

[Sidenote: Instructions of 1779.]

[Sidenote: Instructions of 1781.]

Thus the settlement of the final terms of peace fell to the new government, but rather as a heritage than as a new task. Instructions issued by Congress in 1779 had insisted, as a first essential, on an acknowledgment by Great Britain of the independence of the United States. Next, adequate boundaries were to be provided; the United States must extend as far west as the Mississippi, as far south as the thirty-first parallel, and as far north as Lake Nipissing. The third desideratum was undisturbed fishery rights on the banks of Newfoundland. Finally, it was expected that a treaty of commerce would be yielded by Great Britain after the peace was made. In 1781 Virginia, alarmed by Cornwallis's invasion, succeeded in carrying a very different set of instructions. The only essential was to be the substantial admission that America was independent; in all else the treaty was to be made in a manner satisfactory to the French minister of foreign affairs.

[Sidenote: The king consents to peace.]

[Sidenote: Independence.]

[Sidenote: Boundary.]

[Sidenote: Instructions ignored.]

Before peace could be reached it was necessary to break down the iron opposition of the king. On Feb. 28, 1781 Conway's motion, looking to the cessation of the war, was adopted by Parliament. "The fatal day has come," said the king. It was not merely his American policy which had failed; the party of the "King's Friends" was beaten; North resigned; and after twelve years of strenuous opposition, the king was obliged to accept a Whig ministry, which he detested, and to let it negotiate for peace. A part of the ministry still cherished the delusion that the Americans would accept terms which did not leave them independent. The firmness of the American envoys was effectual; a royal commission was at last addressed to Oswald, authorizing him to treat with "the commissioners of the United States of America" in Paris. Then came the important question of boundary. Without the thirteen colonies the possession of the Floridas was of little value to England, and they had been reduced by a Spanish expedition in 1781; they were therefore returned to Spain. For a long time the English insisted that a neutral belt of Indian territory should be created west of the mountains. That point was finally waived; the Americans withdrew their pretensions to the territory north of Lake Erie; and the St. Lawrence River system, from the western end of Lake Superior to the forty-fifth parallel, was made the boundary. From the forty-fifth parallel to the sea, the boundary was described as following the "highlands which divide those rivers that empty themselves into the St. Lawrence from those which fall into the Atlantic Ocean." The country was little known; the commissioners were probably confused; and the ground was thus prepared for a dispute which lasted fifty-nine years. In the course of the negotiations the American ambassadors, Jay, Adams, Franklin, and Laurens, became suspicious of the French court. There is now some reason for believing that Vergennes, the French minister, had dealt honorably with the American interests, and could have secured excellent terms. "Would you break your instructions?" asked one of the fellow-commissioners of Jay. "I would," he replied, "as I would break this pipe." Thenceforward the Americans dealt directly and solely with the English envoys.

[Sidenote: The Mississippi.]

[Sidenote: The fisheries.]

The next question to be settled was the claim of the English to the navigation of the Mississippi, which was supposed to reach northward into British territory. It was yielded; the Americans, however, received no corresponding right of navigation through Spanish territory to the sea. Next came the fisheries. As colonists the New Englanders had always enjoyed the right to fish upon the Newfoundland banks, and to land at convenient spots to cure their fish. Adams, representing New England, insisted that "the right of fishing" should be distinctly stated; he carried his point.

[Sidenote: Loyalists.]

[Sidenote: Debts.]

[Sidenote: Slaves.]

[Sidenote: Treaty signed.]

The main difficulties disposed of, three troublesome minor points had to be adjusted. The first was the question of loyalists. They had suffered from their attachment to the British government; they had been exiled; their estates had been confiscated, their names made a by-word. The British government first insisted, and then pleaded, that the treaty should protect these persons if they chose to return to their former homes. The Americans would agree only that Congress should "earnestly recommend" to the thirteen legislatures to pass Relief Acts. Then came the question of private debts due to the British merchants at the outbreak of the Revolution, and still unpaid. Some of the American envoys objected to reviving these obligations; but Adams, when he arrived, set the matter at rest by declaring that he had "no notion of cheating anybody." Finally came the question of the treatment of the slaves who had taken refuge with the British armies; and the English commissioners agreed that the British troops should withdraw "without causing any destruction or the carrying away any negroes or other property of the American inhabitants." On Nov. 30, 1782, a provisional treaty was signed; but it was not until Sept. 3, 1783 after the peace between France and England had been adjusted, that the definitive treaty was signed, in precisely the same terms.

With great difficulty a quorum was assembled, and on Jan. 14, 1784, it was duly ratified by Congress. The treaty was a triumph for American diplomacy. "It is impossible," says Lecky, the ablest historian of this period, "not to be struck with the skill, hardihood, and good fortune that marked the American negotiations. Everything the United States could with any show of plausibility demand from England, they obtained."

47. POLITICAL EFFECTS OF THE WAR.

[Sidenote: American union.]

Thus in seven years America had advanced from the condition of a body of subordinate colonies to that of a nation. Furthermore, the people, who at the beginning of the struggle were scattered and separated, and who scarcely knew each other, were now united under a government; the Confederation, however weak, was the strongest federation then in existence. The people had learned the lesson of acting together in a great national crisis, and of accepting the limitations upon their governments made necessary by the central power.

[Sidenote: Union not perfected.]

The spirit of the new nation was now to be subjected to a test more severe than that of the Revolution. Danger banded the colonies together during the war. Would they remain together during peace? Sectional jealousies had broken out in Congress and in camp; and in the crisis of 1777 an effort had been made to displace Washington. There had been repeated instances of treachery among military officers and among foreign envoys. The States were undoubtedly much nearer together than the colonies had been; they had accepted a degree of control from the general government which they had refused from England; but they were not used to accept the resolutions of Congress as self-operative. Their conception of national government was still that national legislation filtrated from Congress to the State legislatures, and through that medium to the people.

[Sidenote: Frontier difficulties.]

The interior of the country was in a confused and alarming state. The territorial settlement with the States had only begun, and was to be the work of years. The Indians were a stumbling-block which must be removed from the path of the settlers. Within the States there were poverty, taxation, and disorder, and a serious discontent.

[Sidenote: Common institutions.]

Nevertheless, the system of the colonies was a system of union. The State governments all rested on the same basis of revolution and defiance of former established law; but when they separated from England they preserved those notions of English private and public law which had distinguished the colonies. The laws and the governments of the States were everywhere similar. The States were one in language, in religion, in traditions, in the memories of a common struggle, and in political and economic interests.

[Sidenote: Trade hampered.]

Commercially, however, the situation of the country was worse than it had been in three quarters of a century. Though the fisheries had been saved by the efforts of Adams, the market for the surplus fish was taken away. As colonies they had enjoyed the right to trade with other British colonies; as an independent nation they had only those rights which England chose to give. For a time the ministry seemed disposed to make a favorable commercial treaty; but in 1783 an Order in Council was issued cutting off the Americans from the West Indian trade; and it was not until 1818 that they recovered it.

[Sidenote: Republican government encouraged.] A great political principle had been strengthened by the success of the Revolution: republican government had been revived in a fashion unknown since ancient times. The territory claimed by Virginia was larger than the island of Great Britain. The federal republic included an area nearly four times as large as that of France. In 1782 Frederick of Prussia told the English ambassador that the United States could not endure, "since a republican government had never been known to exist for any length of time where the territory was not limited and concentred." The problem was a new one; but in communities without a titled aristocracy, which had set themselves against the power of a monarch, and which had long been accustomed to self-government, the problem was successfully worked out. The suffrage was still limited to the holders of land; but the spirit of the Revolution looked towards abolishing all legal distinctions between man and man; and the foundation of later democracy, with its universal suffrage, was thus already laid.

[Sidenote: Influence of rights of man.]

The influence of the republican spirit upon the rest of the world was not yet discerned; but the United States had established for themselves two principles which seriously affected other nations. If English colonies could by revolution relieve themselves from the colonial system of England, the French and Spanish colonies might follow that example; and forty years later not one of the Spanish continental colonies acknowledged the authority of the home government. The other principle was that of the rights of man. The Declaration of Independence contained a list of rights such as were familiar to the colonists of England, but were only theories elsewhere. The success of the Revolution was, therefore, a shock to the system of privilege and of class exemptions from the common burdens, which had lasted since feudal times. The French Revolution of 1789 was an attempt to apply upon alien ground the principles of the American Revolution.

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