Слике страница
PDF
ePub

ships, and carried five East Indiamen, and fifty West Indiamen, into the port of Cadiz. These yessels, be sides trading commodities, had on board arms, artil. lery, military stores, and soldiers. A great part of a fleet bound for Quebec was also taken by American privateers on the banks of Newfoundland.

On the 11th of July, a French squadron landed six thousand troops at Rhode Island, which joined the provincial army, but acted under the command of the French count, Rochambeau. At Camden however, on the 15th of August, lord Cornwallis attacked and dispersed a force under general Gates, of nearly two thousand men; colonel Tarleton also surprised the Americans at Catawba, and routed them with con. siderable loss. On the other hand, colonel Ferguson, who had been despatched by lord Cornwallis, to infest the borders of North Carolina, was killed, one hun. dred and fifty of his men left dead upon the field, and eight hundred taken prisoners.

But the sensation produced by these operations was trivial in comparison with another military event which occurred in the close of this year, and which Dr Franklin, with every other American patriot, felt deeply. Major-general Arnold, who was not exceeded in courage or ability by any officer in the American service, disgraced himself at this time by an act of deliberate treachery, unparalleled in the history of modern warfare. Being in command at West Point, he entered into negotiation with general Clinton, to deliver up that important post, with the troops under his command, to the British army situated on the north of the Hudson River. This point commanded the communication between the western and southern states, and would, in the hands of the British, have enabled them, in conjunction with Rodney's fleet, to turn their whole force against the French fleet at Rhode Island. This important scheme was conducted and foiled in the following manner. Sir Henry Clinton having selected major André, his ad

jutant-general, for the purpose of negotiating with Arnold, that officer was landed from a British sloop of war, in the night of the 21st of September, close by the American camp, through which he was conducted by Arnold in person, and remained there in concealment all the next day. General Arnold, having furnished him with exact returns of the troops and ordnance, now assisted to disguise him as a peasant, provided him with a horse and passport, and sent him through a remote part of the camp, to explore his way back to New York by land. He passed the out-posts of the American army in safety ; but when the morning appeared, three young volunteers, who were making their way thither, examined his passport, and being suspicious with regard to its regularity, determined upon leading him to head-quarters, especially when he unwisely confirmed these suspicions by offering them a large sum of money to let him pass unmolested. Here the papers found upon him in Arnold's hand-writing (containing the latest information of what had passed in the American councils of war) decided the character of his enterprise; which however he managed to deny or disguise, until Arnold knew the fact of his being taken, and had time to escape. The melancholy fate of André is well known: general Washington, assisted by the more experienced French generals, adjudged him by a court-martial to suffer death as a spy; while such are the different interpretations of the law of honour in military matters, that the British government erected a monument to his memory in Westminster abbey ; and Arnold was rewarded with the commission of a brigadier-general, a considerable sum of money*, and an annuity of £500 a year, settled upon his wife and children. It needs only to be added here, that Arnold seems to have been a man of expensive habits, that he had been accused of

• The American cruizers captured a vessel containing a copy of Arnold's letter to an agent in England, by which it appears that the purchase-money of this unqnestionable traitor was 50007.

extortion and peculation some time before, and had even been reprimanded by a court-martial. Resentment therefore against the Republican authorities seems to have rankled in his breast; and Washington was clearly misled by his admiration of military talent, when he imprudently placed such a man in so important a command.

CHAP. XI.

Franklin desirous of returning home.-His application for recall refused.

Attempts of Great Britain to ascertain his ideas of a peace.-Auxious to • detach America from France. Then to qualify her acknowledged Inde.

pendence.-Year 1781 decides the war in favour of America.--Lord Corn. wallis's campaign.-Washington's maneuvre.- Succeeds in surrounding and capturing the British Army.-Franklin indefatigable in asserting his country's cause at Paris.-Publishes a supplement to the Boston Gazette. Defence of Paul Jones, &c.-British house of Commons resolve to dis. continue the war.-Commission of Franklin and bis colleagnes to treat for peace.-Mr Jones arrives at Paris.-His ingenious proposition.-Great

Britain opens negotiations with Mr Adams and Dr Franklin.-Mr Oswald's . mission.-Mr Gurvelin.-Mr Oswald's second mission and full power..

Preliminaries of peace signed between the United States and Great Britain.

FRANKLIN about this time felt a great desire to return to America; he had completely established a firm and most important friendship between the court of France and the United States, and applied to Congress to appoint his successor. The trade of a minister had pretty well tired him out, and he wished for a little repose, he said, “ before he went to sleep for good and all.” That “ peace seeming at a greater distance to him than the end of his days, he grew impatient; but that yet he would not quit the service of his country, if he did not sincerely believe she would easily find an abler man.” He therefore, in his letter of March 12, 1781, applied to the president of the Congress for a recall; but this, in the present state of their affairs, they very wisely declined giving, and assured him respectfully, that when peace should be made, if he persisted in the same request, it should be complied with.

We therefore find him again applying himself to the duties of his embassy, and ought here perhaps to notice, that from the early part of the year 1778, the British government had by various methods endeavoured to ascertain his views upon the subject of peace. Mr Hutton, secretary to the Moravian society, an

old friend of Franklin in England, was one of the agents in these attempts. Mr Hartley, William Pulteney, esq., and William Alexander, esq., were others. Much as his efforts and influence while in England had been contemned, it was clearly upon the personal character and good disposition of Franklin toward peace, that the British ministry depended, and that at last, in fact, a party of amiable private gentlemen conciliated the interests of Europe and America, and terminated a warfare which had involved the greater part of the civilized world.

Great Britain in the first instance was very anxions to detach America from her alliance with France; but the American plenipotentiaries were equally, and very properly, firm in abiding by that alliance. America, Franklin said, had been treated in France with a cordiality, respect, and affection, which she had never experienced in England, when she had most desired it. That she had been forced and driven into the arms of France. “She was a dutiful and virtuous daughter,” said he to his friend Hartley; "a cruel mother-in-law turned her out of doors, defamed her, and sought her life: all the world knows her innocence and takes her part, and her friends hupe soon to see her honourably married: (the treaties of commerce and alliance with France were not at this time publicly known :) they can never persuade her return and submission to so barbarous an enemy. In her future prosperity if she forget and forgive, it will be all that can be reasonably expected of her.”

At subsequent periods England earnestly sought for peace on any terms short of a full acknowledgment of American independence. One of lord Chatham's latest plans as a statesman was of this description. When he last appeared in the house of Lords, his brother lord Temple said to him, “You have forgotten to mention what we have been talking about. Shall I get up ?Lord Chatham replied, “No no, I will do it by-and-by." The conversation alluded to, respected a two-fold plan for the recovery of America, the first

« ПретходнаНастави »