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PREFACE TO VOLUME VIII.
The Revolutionary series of the Public Papers of Governor George Clinton terminated with volume VII, ending with the siege of Yorktown. The subject matter contained within the pages of this volume, with few exceptions, relates to Peace, but Peace by no means was assured to America. Foreign armies had been subjugated, but a more insidious enemy than an armed foe confronted the new Republic. It was not an enemy with guns, powder and bayonets that, after Yorktown, menaced the United States, but the blatant demagogue, the unprincipled charlatan, the selfish and ambitious politician and the hungry and impatient
To all intents and purposes, the Revolutionary War had become a memory. The terrors of strife and bloodshed had ceased to exist in the thickly populated districts; along the frontier of New York, however, latent sparks continued to glow and burn and glisten, disturbing the peace of the inhabitants, who were kept in a condition of nervousness by frequent alarms and unexpected raids of the incorrigible redskins and blood-thirsty tories who refused to surrender to the inevitable and who were dying hard. Statesmen in America regarded the war as over in spite of the obduracy of the King and machinations of sordid English contractors who manipulated Parliament and the Court. Against the interests of America, English politicians resorted to practices that would have been repudiated by English generals who had had experience here. The public mind of Great Britain was
poisoned by misleading and malignant rumors affecting the situation in the United States, supplemented by the unjust charge that the Americans were incompetent to govern themselves.
The contempt with which the Articles of Confederation were held and the impotency exhibited in every effort that was exerted by progressive and representative men in the different States to strengthen and fortify them and to whip them into practical and popular shape, justified the criticisms of the enemies of America and created a feeling of discouragement among her friends. The army was dissatisfied and with every reason. The threatened uprising at Newburgh was the natural culmination of a concatenation of cankered grievances that had been festering for months, that had been irritated and inflamed by the indifference of the States and the studied neglect of Congress which stupidly failed to apply efficacious remedies. Jealousy between the States was the over-shadowing menace to fraternal consolidation. The ques tion of State rights had begun to blossom and was fostered by the sympathetic touch of leaders of the George Clinton school.
The army was, to all intents and purposes, disbanded in June, 1783, only after a threatened mutiny which the wise mediation of Washington countervailed. The official dissolution of the Conti nental Army occurred November 3d when Washington promulgated the extraordinary military document known as his farewell orders. From the last week in March when intelligence was received that the Articles of Peace had been signed at Paris on the 30th day of November, 1782, the evacuation of New York was the paramount subject of discussion in this State. But the British moved with exasperating deliberation, and Sir Guy Carleton, who had succeeded to the command of the English forces in America in place of Sir Henry Clinton, who had requested to be recalled,
was charged by Americans with acting with too much indulgence and consideration towards the loyalists. The first week in April, it is estimated that nine thousand loyalists sailed from New York for Nova Scotia. Many important and original propositions arose consequent upon the transfer of New York from British to American rule. There was no end of complications over real estate and the rights of Americans who had abandoned their property seven years before. The British manufactured excuse upon excuse for the delays, and Sir Guy Carleton was exposed at times very unjustly to severe criticism. November 6, Washington point. edly asked the British commander, and was informed that the troops would be withdrawn before the end of the month. After a few more delays the British evacuated New York November 25.
Dr. John W. Francis, in an anniversary discourse on Old New York delivered before the New York Historical Society, Novem: ber 17, 1857, expressed these sentiments:
" The New York Historical Society has work enough for her strongest energies to accomplish. The State under whose auspi. ces she flourishes, is indeed an empire; the transactions which claim her consideration possess an inherent greatness, and are momentous in their nature; her colonial career is pregnant with instructive events; the advances she has made, and the condition she has secured in her State policy, afford lessons which the wisest may study with profit. Long neglect has only increased the duty of investigation, and added value to every new revelatiou offered. The Hudson and Niagara are but types of her physical formation. Her geology has dissolved the theories of the closet and given new principles to geognostic science. Her men of action have been signally neglected. Feeble records only are to be found of her most eminent statesmen. Where shall we look,
throughout our country's annals, for a more heroic spirit, one of more personal courage, of greater devotion to his country, one greater in greatest trial, one of more decision of character, one of sterner integrity, than Governor George Clinton, to whom this State and the Union are under such mighty obligations; and yet we fruitlessly search for a worthy memorial of him. Fellow associates, I repeat it, there is work enough to do."