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<r Mr. President, I feel very sensibly the favorable de-1?81* claration of congress expressed by your excellency. This fresh proof of their approbation cannot fail of making a deep impression upon me, and my study shall be to deserve a continuance of it. It is with peculiar pleasure I hear that it is the fixed purpose of congress to exhort the states to the most vigorous and timely exertions: a compliance on their parts will, I persuade myself, be productive of the most happy consequences.—I shall yield a ready obedience to the expectation of congress, and give every assistance in my power to their committee. I am obliged by the goodness of congress in making my personal ease and convenience a part of their concern. Should the service require my attendance with the army upon the North river or elsewhere, I shall repair to whatever place my duty calls, with the fame pleasure that I remain in this city." On the last day of the year congress agreed to An ordinance to incorporate the subscribers to the bank of North America.
A few days before, gen. Washington wrote—" The whole business of prisoners of war brought under one regulation, might probably put a stop to those mutual complaints of ill treatment which are frequently urged on either part. For it is a fact, that for above two years we have had no reason to complain of the treatment of the continental land prisoners in New York, neither have we been charged with any improper conduct toward those in our hands. I consider the sufferings of the seamen for some time past as arising in a great measure from the want-of that general regulation, and without which there will be constantly a great number remaining in the hands of the enemy.—I know of no method so Vol. IV. P likely
1781.likely to put an end to the mutual complaints on both sides, as that of having all prisoners given up to the commissary general to be by him exchanged."
In this letter there is an allusion to an improper conduct toward the British prisoners in the hands of the Americans, which leads me to mention the cafe of the convention troops. While in Virginia they were often but badly served with meat. The chief of what the American contractor had procured for their supply was such as they could not eat. The British commanding officer at length made his complaint, and obtained leave to have it surveyed, when it was condemned in general. The American quarter masters were, upon that, obliged to go all over Virginia in search of salt provisions, the want of which was such, at one time, that the prisoners had six weeks meat due to them. On this an addition of one half more was made to the allowance of Indian meal, and the troops lived upon meal and water. When afterward removed to Frederick-town in Maryland, they complained of meeting with much ill usage, and of being badly supplied with provisions and almost half starved. This treatment made the men desert in great numbers. Instances of improper conduct toward other prisoners undoubtedly existed. But the general treatment of them was good j and, wherein it was otherwise, fell so short of what the British practised toward the Americans, that the former frequently declared of the latter, that notwithstanding all their threats, they were afraid to retaliate.
The British power in Georgia being too weak to pre1 vent it, there has been a complete re-establishment of American government. The general assembly was con
vened at Augusta on the 16th of August. General 1781. Greene's success in South Carolina, having opened the way for gov. Rutledge's safe return to that state, he exercised his authority afresh, and on the 27th of September, issued a proclamation, offering those inhabitants of the state who had joined the British, pardon on condition of their doing fix months militia duty, with the ;' exception of such as had taken commissions, signed congratulatory addresses on British victories, or who had been otherwise active in support of their government. In a few weeks, several hundreds came out of the British lines, and greatly reinforced the American militia. Many were now as assiduous in framing excuses for having arranged themselves under the British standard, as they had been the year before to apologize for their involuntary support of rebellion. Several cast themselves on the public mercy, though excepted by the proclamation. The governor afterward issued writs for a new election of representatives, by virtue of the extraordinary power delegated to him before the surrender of Charlestown. The elections were to be held in the usual places where it was practicable, and in other cafes as near as safety and other circumstances would permit. It was ordered by the fame authority, that at the election the votes of such only should be received as had never taken British protection, or who having taken it, had notwithstanding rejoined their countrymen, on or before the date of the proclamation. Other persons, though residents, were not considered as freemen of the state, or entitled to the full privilege of citizenship. To counteract the several measures of the governor, general Leslie issued a proclamation on the 15th of December, assuring his ma
P a jesty's
i78i|jesty's loyal subjects in the province, that they might I rely on speedy and effectual support being given to I them, by the exertions of the forces under his command; and at the fame time giving notice, that the severest punishments should be inflicted on all who, having solicited for and obtained the enjoyment of the privileges of a British subject, should again take arms against his majesty's government, or serve in any civil capacity under a second usurpation.
Vermont, though not admitted into the confederation, nor acknowledged by the United States, exercises all the powers of an independent state—has her legislative, judicial and executive branches, and will continue them, without subjecting herself to the payment of any part of the continental debt till received into the union.
Rotterdam, April 30, 1782.
HTHE congress of the United States of America, -*- having at length (that they might gain Spain) agreed to recede from their claim to the navigation of the Mississippi, Mr. Jay, agreeable to the request of the 5 t count de Florida Blanca, delivered in propositions rela22. tive to an intended treaty, on the 22d of last September.
The 6th article was thus expressed—" The United nj8'' States shall relinquish to his catholic majesty, and in future forbear to use, the navigation of the river Mississippi from the point where it leaves the United States down to the ocean." But it was accompanied with this remark. of his among others—" If the acceptance of it i should, together with the proposed alliance, be postponed to a general peace, the United States will cease to consider themselves bound by any propositions or offers, which he may now make in their behalf." The design of the Spanish court appears to be the drawing of all such concessions from the United States, that their present distress and the hopes of aid may extort. Beside, by protracting negotiations about the treaty, they may intend to avail themselves of these concessions at a future day, when the inducements for offering them have ceased. They neither refuse nor promise to afford the United States further aids.. Delay may be deemed their system. The American commissioners at the European courts labor under great disadvantages, as their dispatches brought by the captains of vessels are not sent to them by a trusty officer, and therefore are liable to be opened and suppressed, as is known to have been done in certain instances. Few of the proceedings of congress remain long secret; and one of their agents has informed them, that he had very good authority for saying, that copies of the letters which passed between the committee and the late commissioners in. France, are now in the hands of a certain foreigner. How he got them the agent knows not; but he asserts it as a fact. .
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