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CONCILIATORY OFFERS OF ENGLAND.
Hitherto the American commissioners at Paris had been unable to obtain from France any recognition of American independence. But the capture of Burgoyne's army decided the hesitating councils of that country; and, on the 6th of February, 1778, his most Christian Majesty acknowledged and guaranteed the independence of the United States, and entered into a treaty of commerce and alliance with the new republic. The notification of this act to the British ministers was considered by them equivalent to a declaration of war against Great Britain.
This new danger, together with the intelligence of the defeat and surrender of Burgoyne, appears to have brought the British cabinet, in some measure, to their senses. They now brought into parliament, propositions offering the Americans all that they had demanded before the beginning of the contest; and hastily resolved to send over commissioners to bring back the colonies to their allegiance, at any expense of concession and humiliation.
When the conciliatory propositions of Lord North were brought forward in parliament, his speech on the occasion was a singular compound of humiliation and gasconade. He went into a long history of the contest, but gave a very lame account of the causes of failure. The celebrated Charles James Fox replied to him in a speech abounding with cutting sarcasms. He approved of Lord North's propositions, the substance of which Mr. Burke had brought forward three years before, but could not refrain from making some severe animadversions on the policy of the premier, all whose arguments, he asserted, might be collected into one point, his excuses all reduced to one apology_his total ignorance. • He hoped,' exclaimed the indignant orator, he hoped, and was disappointed; he expected a great deal, and found little to answer his expectations. He thought the Americans would have submitted to his laws, and they resisted them. He thought they would have submitted to his armies, and they were beaten by inferior numbers. He made conciliatory propositions, and he thought they would succeed, but they were rejected. He appointed commissioners to make peace, and he thought they had powers ; but he found they could not make peace, and nobody believed they had any powers.
When did France recognise the inde- | What did they resolve to do ?
pendence of the United States ? What is said of Lord North's speech How was this regarded by the British in parliament? ministers?
Of Fox's reply?
DEATH OF THE EARL OF CHATHAM.
He had said many such things as he had thought fit in his conciliatory propositions; he thought it a proper method of quieting the Americans upon the affair of taxation. If any person should give himself the trouble of reading that proposition, he would find not one word of it correspondent to the representation made of it by its framer. The short account of it was, that the noble lord in the proposition assured the colonies, that when parliament had taxed them as much as they thought proper, they wonld tax them no more. In conclusion, however, Mr. Fox said that he would vote for the present proposition, because it was much more clear and satisfactory, for necessity had caused him to speak plain.'
The conciliatory bills were passed, and when sent to Lord Howe in New York, and by him submitted to congress, they had not received intelligence of the signature of their treaty of alliance with France. That body, however, did not hesitate a moment as to the line of conduct they were to pursue. They were no more easily to be managed by the fawning, than they had been by the blustering of the British Government. They peremptorily rejected Lord North's proposals as insidious and unsatisfactory.
Meantime a proposition had been brought forward by the Duke of Richmond in the British House of Lords for acknowledging the independence of the United States. Lord Chatham understanding what was intended, regardless of his age and infirmities, had attended in his place in the house for the express purpose of opposing the measure. • My Lords, exclaimed the venerable orator, I rejoice that the grave has not closed upon me, and that I am still alive to lift my voice against the dismemberment of this ancient and most noble monarchy.' He then proceeded in the most energetic manner to urge his auditors to prompt and vigorous efforts against their new enemy, the house of Bourbon ; and concluded by calling upon them, if they must fall, to fall like men. 'The Duke of Richmond having replied to this speech, Lord Chatham attempted to rise for the purpose of rebutting his grace's arguments, and proposing his own plan for ending the American war, which is understood to have been the establishment with the colonies, upon the most liberal terms, of a kind of federal union under one common monarch. But the powers
What was done by parliament?
tory propositions ?
What is said of the Duke of Rich..
mond's proposition? Of Lord Chatham ?
ANECDOTE OF GENERAL REED.
of nature in him were exhausted : he fainted under the effort to speak his sentiments, and being conveyed to his country seat in Kent, he expired on the 11th of May.
The firmness with which congress rejected Lord North's propositions augured ill for the success of the British commissioners, Lord Carlisle, Mr. Eden, and governor Johnstone, who arrived at New York on the 9th of June, 1778, and immediately attempted to open a negotiation with congress. Their overtures were officially answered by the president, Mr. Laurens, in a letter in which he apprised them that the American government were determined to maintain their independence, but were willing to treat for peace with his Britannic majesty, on condition of his withdrawing his fleets and armies from the country.
Thus foiled in their attempt at open negotiation, the conimissioners had recourse to secret intrigues. Governor John. stone, from his long residence in America, was personally acquainted with many of the leading members of congress, to whom he addressed letters, vaguely intimating the great rewards and honours which would await those who should assist in putting an end to the present troubles. He is said to have offered Joseph Reed, a general in the army and a member of congress, ten thousand pounds sterling and any office within the colonies in his majesty's gift, if he would endeavour to re-unite the colonies to the mother country. not worth purchasing,' replied this incorruptible patriot; but such as I am, the king of Great Britain is not rich enough to buy me.'
All the clandestine overtures of the governor were rejected with contempt, and congress being apprised of them, declared them direct attempts at corruption, and refused all intercourse with him. The pacificators then published a manifesto threatening the union with a war of devastation. Congress then notified the gentlemen, that the bearers of copies of this manifesto were not entitled to the protection of a flag; and at the same time displayed their contempt of its threats by giving it a very extensive circulation through the country in the newspapers. The commissioners remained a short time at New York, and then sailed for Britain. Of his fainting and death?
What answer did he receive from Who were the British commissioners ? General Reed ? What answer was made to their pro- What was then done by congress ? position ?
By the pacificators ? To what did they then have re- By congress in answer? course!
Whither did the commissioners soon What is said of governor Johnstone ? after go?
RETREAT OF BARREN HILL.
General Howe spent the spring of 1778, nearly in a state of inaction, confining his operations to the sending out of foraging and predatory parties, which did some mischief to the country, and but little service to the royal cause.
In May, the Marquis de la Fayette, with upwards of 2,000 chosen men and six pieces of artillery, was ordered to the east of the Schuylkill, and took post on Barren Hill, seven or eight miles in front of the army at Valley Forge. General Howe got notice of his position and sent out General Grant, with 5,000 of his best troops to surprise him. Owing to the desertion of their post by some militia on the look-out, he was near accomplishing his object, but La Fayette eluded the snare, and by able manœuvring returned to the camp without loss. The retreat of Barren Hill has always been regarded as a most splendid achievement, and received the highest commendations of Washington.
Soon afterwards General Howe received orders from the British ministry to evacuate Philadelphia without delay. These orders were sent under the apprehension, that if a French fleet should block up his squadron in the Delaware, whilst Washington inclosed him on the land side, he would share the fate of Burgoyne. On the 18th of June, therefore, the British troops quitted Philadelphia, and crossed over into New Jersey, whither they were speedily followed by Washington, who, keeping a strict watch on their movements, harassed them on their march, which was encumbered with baggage.
On his arrival at Princeton, Washington, hearing that General Clinton, with a large division of the British forces, had quitted the direct road to Staten Island, the place of rendezvous appointed for General Howe's army, and was marching for Sandy Hook, sent a detachment in pursuit of him, and followed with his whole army to support it; and as Clinton halted at Monmouth and made preparations to meet the premeditated attack, he sent forward reinforcements, to keep the British in check.
These reinforcements were commanded by General Lee, whom Washington, on his coming up with the main body, met in full retreat. After angrily remonstrating with him,
What was done by General Howe in When was this order obeyed ? the spring of 1778 ?
What circumstances led to the battle By General La Fayette in May ? of Monmouth? How did he escape a surprise ? Give an account of the affair of Ge. Why was Howe ordered to quit neral Lee.
BATTLE OF MONMOUTH.
the commander in chief ordered him to advance again. He obeyed and was again driven back; but he brought off his troops in good order. When Washington brought the main body of the army into action, the British were compelled to give way; and taking advantage of the night, the approach of which probably saved them from utter discomfiture, they withdrew to Sandy Hook, leaving behind them such of their wounded as could not with safety be removed.
The victory at Monmouth was celebrated with rejoicings throughout the United States, and congress returned thanks to General Washington and his army.
General Lee, conceiving himself to have been insulted by General Washington on the field of battle, in the evening addressed him a letter, expressed in disrespectful terms. He was, therefore, put under arrest, and tried by a court martial for disobedience of orders, and disrespect to his commander in chief. He was found guilty, and suspended from his command for a year.
He never rejoined the army, but remained in retirement till October, 1782, when he died at Philadelphia.
After the battle of Monmouth, Washington marched to White Plains, a few miles to the north-eastward of New York island. Here he continued watching the unmolested movements of the neighbouring enemy, from the beginning of July till the latter end of autumn, when he retired to take up his winter quarters in huts which he had caused to be constructed at Middlebrook, in Jersey.
The British ministry were not mistaken in their view of the intentions of the French. In July, the Count d'Estaing, with a fleet of 12 ships of the line and 3 frigates, arrived off the mouth of the Delaware, but found that Lord Howe had already withdrawn the British feet from that river to the harbour of New York. D'Estaing immediately sailed for Sandy Hook. After continuing there at anchor eleven days, during which he captured about 20 English merchantmen, finding that he could not work his line of battle ships over the bar, by the advice of General Washington he sailed for Newport, with a view of co-operating with the Americans in driving the British from Rhode Island, of which they had been in possession for upwards of eighteen months. General
What was the result of the battle of How did Washington pass the rea Monmouth?
mainder of the season? What were the effects of this vic- Where did his army pass the winter?
What is said of the British ministry ? How did General Lee's affair termic Of the Count d'Estaing ? nate?
What did he effect off New York ?