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should be ultimately crowned with success. This and other motives, induced the president to send a friendly mission to the different governments of South America, to give them assurances of our determination to maintain a perfect neutrality in the contest, considering them as engaged in a civil war with the king of Spain, and therefore on a footing of equality as to neutral rights. With a view also of ascertaining the kind of relations it might be proper hereafter to establish with the South American states, or for the purpose of regulating our present intercourse, it was desirable to obtain the best information as to their character and resources. The objects of the mission are thus stated by the president in his message to congress: "To obtain correct information on every subject in which the United States are interested; to inspire just sentiments in all persons in authority, on either side, of our friendly disposition, so far as it may comport with an impartial neutrality; and to secure proper respect to our commerce in every port and from every flag, it has been thought proper to send a ship of war with three distinguished citizens along the southern coast, with instructions to touch at such ports as they may find most expedient for these purposes. With the existing authorities, with those in the possession of and exercising the sovereignty, must the communication be held; from them alone can redress for past injuries, committed by persons acting under them be obtained; by them alone can the commission of the like in future be prevent
The mission was composed of the following gentle. men, Cæsar A. Rodney, John Graham, and Theodo
rick Bland, commissioners, and H. M. Brackenridge, secretary. William T. Reed, and Thomas Rodney, (son of the commissioner,) accompanied the mission. The commissioners arrived at Norfolk in the steamboat, on the 28th of November, 1817, where the frigate Congress, commanded by commodore Arthur Sinclair, who had been selected for this purpose, was - ready to receive them on board. Owing to some delay in transmitting the orders for sailing, the mission did not embark until the third of December. In the mean time, we were treated with every mark of attention and civility by the people of Norfolk, who do not yield to the rest of Virginia in that elegant hospitality for which the state is justly celebrated. The differ. ence in the climate between this place and Baltimore is very sensible. We had just escaped the skirts of winter; the warmth of the sun, the softness of the air, and the appearance of vegetation, seemed to carry us back to the middle of autumn—that season which may be styled the glory of the American skies.
On the 14th, the Congress weighed anchor and put to sea. Commodore Sinclair had taken pains to render our accommodations as comfortable as possible for a long and tedious voyage. It is very certain that the voyage could not be made under more agreeable circumstances; in a noble frigate, manned by an excellent crew, and commanded by officers of experience and skill. There were several lieutenants and à considerable number of midshipmen on board, beyond the usual complement; the voyage being considered añ interesting one, it was a desirable object among the naval gentlemen to engage in it. To me the little world to which I found myself transferred, contin
ually presented a thousand objects to instruct and amuse. The order and cleanliness which prevailed in every part of the vessel, excited my admiration; every thing seemed to move like clock work, and although there were four hundred souls on board, we appeared to be no way crowded or encumbered. Every pains were taken by the commander to preserve the health of his crew; in having to cross both tropics and the equinoctial line, no precautions could be thought superfluous. There was but one circumstance calculated in any way to lessen the satisfaction felt by every one at the auspicious commencement of the voyage; the term of enlistment of the greater part of the crew, would probably expire before the voyage could be completed; the consequence to be feared would be at the least, a discontent apd a want of inclination to the performance of their duty. The commodore, aware of difficulties which had arisen under similar circumstances, mustered all hands on the evening previous to our sailing; gave them a short address; in which he told them, that the cruise they were about to make, would be in a mild and delightful climate, where they would escape the northern winter; that their return might possibly be delayed a few months longer than their term of service, but that this would be more than compensated by the agreeableness of the cruise; that they would be no losers even if they were disposed to enter into the merchant service, as seamen's wages were at this time extremely low; he concluded by promising them every reasonable indulgence at the places at which he should touch. The address was received with three cheers, and each one seemed to repair to his duty with alacrity.
We steered from the capes on an east half south course with a leading wind, the weather cold and unpleasant. The entrance into the gulf stream, is easily ascertained by the difference of temperature between the air and water. On soundings about fiftyfive miles east of Cape Henry the air was forty degrees, while the water was fifty-nine degrees. The air soon afterwards rose to forty-three, and the water suddenly to sixty-eight. The air then continued to vary from forty to forty-five, and the water from seventy-two to seventy-five, until we had run upon the same course, the wind at north west, eightyseven miles; when the water fell to seventy-one and continued between that and sixty-eight, until the air rose to the same temperature. «Thus," says commodore Sinclair, “I computed the distance of the gulf stream east from Cape Henry, to be about one hundred and twenty miles, and the body of it in the same direction about ninety miles across, but in steering east there is no doubt that the influence of the stream is felt for several hundred miles; as from Cape Hatteras, where the gulf alters its north east to an easterly direction, to the latitude of Cape Henry, it inclines as much off as east north east, and expands its width as it loses its strength.” During winter there are continual vapors, arising from the troubled waters of the gulf stream; the atmosphere appears dark and heavy, and the sea looks wild and frightful. The effect of this immense river of warm water flowing directly in frontof our continent, must necessarily be very great on the American climate; and is probably one of the causes of those sudden changes in the temperature of which we hear so many complaints—the air rushing from the
north across our lakes, to supply the vacuum produced by the caloric of the gulf stream.
Nothing material occurred until the 17th, when about latitude twenty-nine degrees thirty minutes, a severe gale sat in, which lasted forty-eight hours. Storms have been described by so many writers, and so much bettter than I can describe this one, that I think it unnecessary to say any thing further than that the descriptions are much more agreeable than the reality. The spectacle was indeed sublime, but it is probable I should have enjoyed it much more, if there had been less of the terrific. The ship was stripped of her sails, excepting her main-top sail, which was close reefed, and her storm stay sail; her top gallant masts, and her principal yards were lowered, her jibboom rigged in, and a variety of other precautions were taken, such as housing the guns and carrying the shot below. The ship was then laid to, and rode out the storm with ease and safety. During this unpleasant time I did not venture on deck, for such was the violence of the wind and the motion of the ship, that it was almost impossible to stand up: even the sailors required the help of ropes stretched along on each side of the ship. The rapidity and order with which every thing was conducted during this time was admirable; there was no noise or bustle among them. Excepting now and then the shrill whistle of the boatswain, nothing was heard excepting the rushing of the furious element through the shrouds, and the tumbling and roaring of the sea around us. The appearance of the sun and the gradual subsiding of the tempest was a reason of joy to me; but the hardy mariners accus. tomed to all weathers, scarcely considered it a circum