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ARTICLES OF CONFEDERATION. tunate retreat of Washington through the Jerseys and his late critical situation at Philadelphia, were now inspirited by the news of his brilliant successes at Trenton and Princeton, and his subsequent expulsion of the enemy from all their important posts in the Jerseys.
CAMPAIGN OF 1777.
While General Washington was actively employed in the Jerseys in asserting the independence of America, congress could not afford him much assistance; but that body was not backward in promoting the same cause by its enactments and recommendations. Hitherto the colonies had been united by no bond but that of their common danger and common love of liberty. Congress resolved to render the terms of their union more definite, to ascertain the rights and duties of the several colonies, and their mutual obligations towards each other. A committee was appointed to sketch the principles of the union or confederation.
This committee presented a report in thirteen Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union between the States, and proposed that, instead of calling themselves the UNITED COLONIES they should assume the name of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ; that each state should retain its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right which was not by the confederation expressly delegated to the United States in congress assembled, and that they should enter into a firm league for mutual defence, The articles also defined the rights of the several states, and of their citizens; the powers of congress ; and the mode of raising money from the respective states for the purposes of general government and defence.
These articles of confederation were adopted, after much discussion, and transmitted to the several state legislatures ; and, meeting their approbation, were ratified by all the delegates on the 15th of November, 1777. They remained in
What was the effect of Washington's What name was assumed to desig
success on the popular mind? nate the American nation ? What were the chief provisions of When were these articles finally ra.
the old Articles of Confederation ? tified ?
force, as the constitution of the countrv, until the adoption of the Federal Constitution, in 1788.
The only provision which congress could at present make for the support of the army, was by the emission of bills of credit to pass at their nominal value in all payments and dealings throughout the states. This soon became depreciated, and the attempts to sustain it, by fixing the prices of commodities, were abortive, and introduced confusion and misery, involving many families in ruin. It was a serious but unavoidable hinderance to all their subsequent operations during the war.
In consequence of the hostilities with the colonies, the British West India Islands experienced a severe scarcity of provisions. When the fleet was about to return to England, an insurrection of the negroes of Jamaica was threatened. The military force of the island had been weakened by draughts to complete the army on the continent; and the ships of war were detained to assist in suppressing the disturbances of the negroes. By this delay the Americans gained time for equipping privateers, who succeeded in capturing many richly laden ships; and were permitted to sell their prizes in the ports of France, both in Europe and the West Indies.
The British cabinet remonstrated against this unfriendly conduct of France; but soon became satisfied that both France and Spain were in a state of active preparation for war. Parliament met on the 31st of October; and, notwithstanding attempts were made for adopting conciliatory measures, it was resolved to support the ministry in a vigorous prosecution of the war.
Congress was not less determined to maintain the independence of the United States at all hazards. Aware of the covert hostility of France towards Great Britain, they had already sent commissioners to Paris, for the purpose of soliciting a loan of money, a supply of munitions of war, and an acknowledgment of the independence of the states. These commissioners were Dr. Franklin, Arthur Lee, and Silas Deane. Franklin was already known to the French as a philosopher and statesman ; and he became very popular in the capital..
How long did they remain in force ? What is said of the British cablWhat is observed concerning the
net? continental paper currency? Of France and Spain ? What had taken place in the West Of the parliament? Indies?
Of congress ? How did the Americans take advan- Who were sent as commissioners to tage of these events ?
The commissioners, however, were not yet successful in all their designs. Some arms were obtained privately, and the sale of prizes taken by the American privateers, in French ports, was still connived at; but no public recognition of independence, nor open support of the cause could be obtained.
It was at this period that the Marquis de la Fayette, a young French nobleman of the highest rank and an immense fortune, resolved to devote himself to the cause of American liberty. Undismayed by the intelligence just received of the evacuation of New York, the loss of Fort Washington, the calamitous retreat through the Jerseys, and the other disasters of the campaign of 1776, he presented himself to Dr. Franklin, and afterwards to the other commissioners, and offered his services as a volunteer. They were so candid as to say that they could not in conscience urge him to proceed ; and assured him that they possessed not the means nor the credit for procuring a vessel for his passage. • " Then,” exclaimed the gallant and generous youth, “ I will provide my own;" and it is a literal fact, that when our beloved country was too poor to offer him so much as a passage to her shores, he left, in his tender youth, the bosom of home, of happiness, of wealth, and of rank, to plunge in the dust and blood of our inauspicious struggle.'*
He arrived in the spring of 1777; and was cordially received by Washington, and appointed by congress a major general in the army. His example was followed by many other French officers; and he was afterwards mainly instrumental in securing the friendship and alliance of the French government.
During the disastrous campaign of 1776, a large number of American prisoners were taken and conveyed to New York, where they were confined in the most horrible of all dungeons, the British prison ships. There they endured sufferings which have seldom known a parallel in the annals of cruelty. But they bore all with the patience of martyrs, and the courage of patriots. When offered liberty and promotion, if they would join the royal party, they spurned the offer with contempt; and hundreds of them expired in captivity, rather than desert the cause to which they had devoted themselves.
What did they effect?
When did he arrive in this country? Give an account of La Fayette and his What appointment did he receive generous devotion to the American What is said of the prison ships ?
of the American prisoners ?
* Mr. Everett's Phi Beta Kappa Oration.
La Fayette offering his services to Dr. Franklin The campaign of 1777 opened on both sides with a series of rapid incursions and bold predatory attacks. On the 23d of March, General Howe detached Colonel Bird, with about 500 men, under convoy of a frigate and some other armed vessels, to attack the Americans at Peekskill, on the North river, about 50 miles above New York. General McDougall, who was posted there with about 250 men, hearing of his approach, set fire to the stores and buildings, and retreated. Colonel Bird landed, and after completing the destruction of the stores, re-embarked and returned to New York.
On the 13th of April, Lord Cornwallis and General Grant, with 2,000 men, attempted to surprise and cut off General Lincoln, who, with 500 men, was posted at Bound Brook, seven miles from Brunswick. But by a bold and rapid movement, Lincoln, when almost surrounded, forced his way between the British columns, and escaped with the loss of 60 men, three fieldpieces, and some baggage.
On the 25th of April, General Tryon left New York with 2,000 men and a proper naval escort, landed on the Connecticut shore, between Fairfield and Norwalk, and marched to Danbury, where he succeeded in destroying a large quantity of provisions and tents, belonging to the American army, and but weakly guarded. On his return, however, he was attacked by Generals Sullivan, Arnold, and Wooster, with about 500 troops, and 200 militia, and did not effect his retreat without a loss of about 400 men, killed, wounded, and pri
General Wooster was killed in the early part of this
On the 13th of April ?
CAPTURE OF GENERAL PRESCOTT
affair. He was an able officer, and his loss was much lamented by the Americans.
These attacks of the British were retaliated by Generals Stevens and Parsons. The former of whom assailed the royalists at Piscataway, and was only repulsed after a furious engagement, and a heavy loss on the side of the enemy. The latter detached Colonel Meigs, from Guilford to Sag Harbour on Long Island, where he succeeded in burning a large quantity of stores belonging to the British, and 12 of their vessels. In this affair the enemy lost 96 men, of whom six were killed and the remainder made prisoners. The Americans returned without the loss of a man to Guilford.
Another exploit of the Americans deserves notice in this place, although it did not happen till the 10th of July. Colonel Barton, with 40 men, officers and volunteers, passed over, by night, from Warwick Neck to Rhode Island, and succeeded in surprising the British general, Prescott, in his quarters, in bed, and, without giving him time to dress himself, hurried him on board, with one of his aides-de-camp, and conveyed him safely to Providence. This event was very mortifying to General Prescott, and to the royal army; but occasioned much exultation among the Americans. Hitherto General Howe had absolutely refused to release General Lee; but he soon agreed to exchange him for General Prescott; and Ge. neral Lee again joined the American army.
Having noticed these desultory enterprises, we now turn to the two main armies under their respective commanders in chief.
In the beginning of June, General Howe, having received reinforcements from England, left New York, and passed into the Jerseys with 30,000 men. General Washington, to resist this powerful army, could muster no more than 7,300 men fit for duty. He occupied a good position at Middlebrook, about nine miles from Brunswick, where Howe assembled his army on the 9th of June. He marched towards the Delaware, in order to draw Washington from his strong position ; but not succeeding in this, he returned to Brunswick, committing terrible devastations in his march. On the 22d of June, he retreated to Amboy, an American detachment, under General Greene, hanging upon his rear and frequently attacking it.
What was done by General Stevens ? | What was done by General Howe in By General Parsons ?
the beginning of June ? By Colonel Barton ?
How was he foiled by Washington ? For whom was General Prescott ex- How did he revenge himself ? changed?
Who harassed him on his retreat?