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ablest men at home, in posts of honour or profit, before the great national interest is fixed upon a solid basis.
“ To me it appears no unjust simile, to compare the affairs of this great continent to the mechanism of a clock, each state representing some one or other of the small parts of it, which they are endeavouring to put in fine order, without considering how useless and unavailing their labour is, unless the great wheel, or spring, which is to set the whole in motion, is also well attended to and kept in good order. I allude to no particular state, nor do I mean to cast reflections upon any one of them, nor ought I, as it
be said, to do so upon their representatives; but as it is a fact too notorious to be concealed, that Congress is rent by party; that much business of a trifling nature and personal concernment, withdraws their attention from matters of great national moment, at this critical period; when it is also known that idleness and dissipation take place of close attention and application; no man who wishes well to the liberties of his country, and desires to see its rights established, can avoid crying out: Where are our men of abilities? Why do they not come forth to save their country? Let this voice, my dear sir, call upon you, Jefferson and others. Do not, from a mistaken opinion that we are to sit down under our vine and our own fig tree, let our hitherto noble struggle end in ignominy. Believe me when I tell you there is danger of it. I have pretty good reasons for thinking that administration, a little while ago,
had resolved to give the matter up, and negotiate a peace with us upon almost any terms; but I shall be much mistaken if they do not now, from the present state of our currency, dissentions and other circumstances, push matters to the utmost extremity. Nothing 'I am sure will prevent it but the interruption of Spain, and their disappointed hope from Prussia.”
The depreciation of the paper currency had reduced the pay of the American officers to a pittance, and the effects were severely felt; At the moment the campaign was to open, the dissatisfaction of a part of the sufferers broke out into acts of violence, which threatened the safety of the whole army. Early in May, the Jersey brigade was ordered to march as part of a force destined on an expedition into the Indian country. On the reception of this order, the officers of the first regiment presented to their colonel a remonstrance, addressed to the legislature of the state, in which they professed the determination, unless that body immediately attended to their pay
and support, within three days to resign their commissions.
· This resolution greatly disturbed the Commander in Chief." He foresaw its evil consequences, and on this important occasion determined to exert his personal influence. In a letter to General Maxwell, to be communicated to the dissatisfied officers, he dissuaded them, by a sense of honour and by the love of country, from the prosecution of the rash measure they had adopted.
“ There is nothing," proceeds the, letter,
“ which has happened in the course of the war, that has given me so much pain as the remonstrance you mention from the officers of the first Jersey regiment. I cannot but consider it as a hasty and imprudent step, which on more cool consideration they will themselves condemn. I am very sensible of the inconveniences under which the officers of the army labour, and I hope they do me the justice to believe, that my endeavours to procure them relief are incessant. There is more difficulty, however, in satisfying their wishes than perhaps they are aware of. Our resources have been hitherto very limited. The situation of our money is no small embarrassment; for which, though there are remedies, they cannot be the work of a moment. Government is not insensible of the merits and sacrifices of the officers, nor, I am persuaded, unwilling to make a compensation; but it is a truth, of which a little observation must convince us, that it is
that it is very much straitened in the means. Great allowances ought to be made on this account, for any delay, and seeming backwardness which may appear. Some of the states indeed have done as generously as it is at this juncture in their power, and if others have been less expeditious, it ought to be ascribed to some peculiar cause, which a little time, aided by example, will remove. The patience and perseverance of the army have been, under every disadvantage, such as to do them the highest honour, both at home and abroad, and have inspired me with an unlimited confidence in their virtue, which has consoled me amidst every perplexity
and reverse of fortune, to which our affairs, in a struggle of this nature, were necessarily exposed. Now that we have made so great a progress to the attainment of the end we have in view, so that we cannot fail without a most shameful desertion of our own interests, any thing like a change of conduct would imply a very unhappy change of principles, and a forgetfulness as well of what we owe to ourselves as to our country. Did I suppose it possible this could be the case, even in a single regiment of the army, I should be mortified and chagrined beyond expression. I should feel it as a wound given to my own honour, which I consider as embarked with that of the army at large. But this I believe to be impossible. Any corps that was about to set an example of the kind, would weigh well the consequences; and no officer of common discernment and sensibility would hazard them. If they should stand alone in it, independent of other consequences, what would be their feelings on reflecting that they had held themselves out to the world in a point of light inferior to the rest of the army? Oş if their example should be followed, and become general, how could they console themselves for having been the foremost in bringing ruin and disgrace upon their country? They would remember that the army would share a double portion of the general infamy and distress, and that thc character of an American officer would become as despicable, as it is now glorious.
“ I confess the appearances in the present instance are disagreeable ; but I am convinced they
seem to mean more than they really do. The Jersey officers have not been outdone by any others in the qualities either of citizens or soldiers; and I am confident no part of them would seriously intend anything that would be a stain on their former reputation. The gentlemen cannot be in earnest; they have only reasoned wrong about the means of obtaining a good end, and on consideration, I hope and flatter myself, they will repounce what must appear improper. At the opening of a campaign, when under marching orders for an important service, their own honour, duty to the public, and to themselves, and a regard to military propriety, will not suffer them to persist in a measure, which would be a violation of them all. It will even wound their delicacy, coolly to reflect, that they have hazarded a step which has an air of dictating terms to their country, by taking advantage of the necessity of the moment.
“ The declaration they have made to the state, at so critical a time, that unless they obtain relief in the short period of three days, they must be considered out of the service, has very much that aspect; and the seeming relaxation of contiouing until the state can have a reasonable time to provide other officers, will be thought only a superficial veil. I am now to request that you will convey my sentiments to the gentlemen concerned, and endeavour to make them sensible that that they are in an error. The service for which the regiment was intended will not admit of delay. It must at all events march on Monday morning, in the first place to this camp, and fure