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by it. While his objections to the project retained all their force he found himself required to open a correspondence for the purposes of soliciting the concurrence of France in an expedition he disapproved, and of promising a cooperation he believed to be impracticable. In reply to this communication he said: “The earnest desire I have strictly to comply in every instance with the views and instructions of Congress cannot but make me feel the greatest uneasiness when I find myself in circumstances of hesitation or doubt with respect to their directions. But the perfect confidence I have in the justice and candor of that honorable body emboldens me to communicate without reserve the difficulties which occur in the execution of their present order, and the indulgence I have experienced on every former occasion induces me to imagine that the liberty I now take will not meet with disapprobation.”
After reviewing the report of the committee and stating his objections to the plan and the difficulties he felt in performing the duty assigned to him, he added: “But if Congress still think it necessary for me to proceed in the business I must request their more definite and explicit instructions and that they will permit me, previous to transmitting the intended dispatches, to submit them to their determination
“I could wish to lay before Congress more minutely the state of the army, the condition of our supplies and the requisites necessary for carrying into execution an undertaking that may involve the most serious events. If Congress think this can be done more satisfactorily in a personal conference I hope to have the army in such a situation before I can receive their answer as to afford me an opportunity of giving my attendance."
Congress acceded to his request for a personal inter
view, and on his arrival in Philadelphia a committee was appointed to confer with him as well on this particular subject as on the general state of the army and of the country.
The result of these conferences was that the expedition against Canada was entirely, though reluctantly, given up, and every arrangement recommended by Washington received that attention which was due to his judgment and experience and which his opinions were entitled to receive.
If anything were necessary to be added to this ridiculous scheme for the conquest of Canada in order to prove the inefficiency and folly of the Congress of 1778 we have it in the fact that France was averse to adding that province to the United States and did not desire to acquire it for herself. She only sought the independence of this country and its permanent alliance.
Mr. De Sevelinges in his introduction to Botta's History recites the private instructions to Mr. Gerard on his mission to the United States. One article was, “ to avoid entering into any formal engagement relative to Canada and other English possessions which Congress proposed to conquer.” Mr. De Sevelinges adds, that “the policy of the cabinet of Versailles viewed the possession of those countries, especially of Canada by England as a principle of useful inquietude and vigilance to the Americans. The neighborhood of a formidable enemy must make them feel more sensibly the price which they ought to attach to the friendship and support of the King of France.”
[C.] REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE APPOINTED TO CONFER with Wash
INGTON ON THE SECOND SCHEME FOR THE CONQUEST OF
COUNTRY. " January 1, 1779. The committee appointed to confer with the commander-in-chief on the operations of the next campaign, report,
that the plan proposed by Congress for the emancipation of Canada, in co-operation with an army from France, was the principal subject of the said conference.
That, impressed with a strong sense of the injury and disgrace which must attend an infraction of the proposed stipulations, on the part of these States, your committee have taken a general view of our finances, of the circumstances of our army, of the magazines of clothes, 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 strongholds 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 harassing and distressing our sea-coast and frontiers by a predatory war.
That on a 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, calculated to call forth, and direct to a single object, a considerable portion of the force of our ally which may otherwise be essentially employed, nothing else than the highest probability of success could justify Congress in making the proposition.
Your committee are therefore of opinion, that the negotiation in question, however desirable and interesting, should be deferred until circumstances render the co-operation of these States more certain, practicable, and effectual.
That the minister plenipotentiary of these States at the court of Versailles, the minister of France in Pennsylvania, and the minister of France, be respectively informed that the operations of the next campaign must depend on such a variety of contingencies to arise, as well from our own internal circumstances and resources as the progress and movements of our enemy, that time alone can mature and point out the plan which ought to be pursued. That Congress, therefore, cannot, with a degree of confidence answerable to the
magnitude of the object, decide on the practicability of their cooperating the next campaign in an enterprise for the emancipation of Canada; that every preparation in our power will nevertheless be made for acting with vigor against the common enemy, and every favorable incident embraced with alacrity to facilitate and hasten the freedom and independence of Canada, and her union with these States - events which Congress, from motives of policy with respect to the United States, as well as of affection to their Canadian brethren, have greatly at heart."
This report is evidently inspired by Washington, from beginning to end.
CHAPTER XVII. WASHINGTON'S OPERATIONS IN THE NORTHERN STATES.
NJE have seen that Washington had gone from his V winter quarters near Middlebrook in the Jer
seys to hold a conference with Congress on the subject of the invasion of Canada. When this matter had been disposed of there still remained many subjects demanding the joint attention of the supreme Legislature and the Commander-in-Chief, and accordingly he spent a considerable part of the winter of 1778-9 at Philadelphia consulting with Congress on measures for the general defense and welfare of the country. Washington felt extreme anxiety at the inadequate means at his disposal for conducting the campaign of 1779. The state of Con. gress itself, as we have already shown, was sufficiently embarrassing to him, but there were other causes of uneasiness in the general aspect of affairs. The French alliance was considered by the people as rendering the cause of independence perfectly safe; with little or no exertion on our part England was supposed to be already conquered in America, and, moreover, she was threatened with a Spanish war. Hence the States were remiss in furnishing their quotas of men and money. The currency, consisting of Continental bills, was so much depreciated that a silver dollar was worth forty dollars of the paper money. The