Слике страница
PDF
ePub

1782]

THE ENGLISH PEOPLE OPPOSE THE WAR.

299

agent to accompany Greene's army, without the general's knowledge. Aware of the sufferings of the soldiers from want of food and clothing, he knew that Greene would at once spend in their behalf whatever was placed in his hands, without retaining aught for future emergencies. He directed his agent, therefore, to relieve Greene only in small amounts and when his difficulties seemed insurmountable. Several times was the army thus saved from dissolution, the mysterious agent disappearing as soon as he had placed the money on the table. At the commencement of 1782, not a dollar remained in the treasury. The states were called upon by Congress to contribute $2,000,000, but made no response. Mr. Morris had exhausted all the means at his command, and was so discouraged that he was tempted to resign his office.

407. Lord North, George Third's prime minister, received the news of Cornwallis's surrender “as he would have received a cannon-ball in his breast”; yet both he and the king obstinately determined to continue the war.

The English people, however, heavily taxed for its support, felt differently. Burke, Fox, and other Parliamentary leaders, vehemently opposed any further efforts to reduce America; and early in March, 1782, the House of Commons passed strong resolutions against the war. Lord North resigned, and a ministry favorable to peace succeeded. Sir Guy Carleton was sent to take command of the British forces. He reached New York in May, and made propositions to the American authorities; but Washington, finding that he would not recognize the independence of the United States and was prepared to treat with them only as revolted colonies, warned the people against listening to his offers. Not till Grenville was sent to Paris with full powers to treat with France and America, was any well-grounded hope of peace entertained.

Tell the story about Robert Morris's secret agent. What was the condition of the treasury at the commencement of 1782? What response did the states make to the demands of Congress ? What was Mr. Morris tempted to do? 407. How did Lord North receive the news of Cornwallis's surrender? How did he and the king feel? How, the people? What resolutions were passed in March, 1782 ? What followed? Who was sent over to command the British army? What propositions did he make? How were they met by Washington ? When, at length,

408. As soon as the people of the United States thought that the war was likely to end, they began to relax their exertions and to demand of Congress the pay justly due them for past services. While Washington did all he could to soothe their discontent, he urged upon Congress the necessity of meeting their engagements to those who had served them faithfully in the hour of need. The British, to be sure, had ceased offensive operations; but they might resume them at any moment, and with an army on the point of mutiny there could be little hope of successful resistance. The discontent rose to its greatest height in the spring of 1782, in the camp at Newburg. Nothing but their love of Washington restrained the army from asserting their rights by violence; and never did Washington display more judgment than in dealing with the disaffected at this critical period.

In May, 1782, Washington received from Col. Nic'-o-la, through whom the discontented troops generally made their complaints, a letter setting forth the belief of the army that Congress was neither willing nor able to redress their wrongs, and expressing a desire to place their beloved chief, as king, at the head of the nation. This offer filled Washington with grief and alarm. He rejected it without hesitation; solemnly declaring that the reëstablishment of royalty would be fatal to those liberties which were more precious than life.

Winter found the American army still unemployed at Newburg and New Windsor. In February, 1783, they again sent a petition to Congress, which had as yet done nothing for their relief. An indefinite answer was returned. Goaded by poverty, the officers, who were almost as great sufferers as their men, authorized one of their number to prepare an address, advising bolder measures and calling an assembly of the soldiers to decide upon the proper course of action. Before the appointed day, Washington convened his officers. was a well-grounded hope of peace entertained ? 408. When it seemed likely that the war would terminate, what demands were made of Congress? What advice did Washington give Congress ? Describe the disaffection in the camp at Newburg. What took place in May, 1782? Where did the army spend the winter of 1782-3? What dangerous measure was resorted to by some of the officers? How 1782]

DISBANDING OF THE AMERICAN ARMY.

• 301

In vivid colors he depicted the impropriety and danger of the steps they proposed, and called upon them to forbear from involving him, themselves, and their country, in one common ruin. The sympathizing leader who had shared all their hardships, spoke with deep feeling and was listened to in silence. At the close of his remarks he retired; and the assembled officers, after a short consultation, decided to follow his advice.

409. Meanwhile, the negotiations for peace were progressing at Paris. John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and Henry Laurens, acted in behalf of the United States. They obtained from Great Britain an acknowledgment of the independence of their country, and articles of peace were signed on the 20th of January, 1783. Intelligence of the fact was received by Congress in March, and was hailed with rejoicings. The sufferings of self-denying patriots during eight years of hardship were thus at last rewarded with that priceless freedom for which they had sighed, struggled, and bled.

410. Washington still labored to relieve the immediate necessities of the troops, and discharged all who could find the means of returning home. Many thus left without tumult, although their claims were unsettled and they had not a penny in their pockets. Only one company, formed of recent levies from Pennsylvania, created any serious difficulty. Entering Philadelphia, they marched to the state-house, and threatened summary vengeance if they were not immediately paid. After a few hours they retired, and Washington prevented a repetition of the violence by promptly sending a detachment to disperse the mutineers and arrest their ringleaders. Notwithstanding this warning, Congress left Mr. Morris almost entirely to his own resources.

Four months' pay for the army was all that his utmost exertions could raise.

411. In August, 1783, Sir Guy Carleton received orders to evacuate New York. The loyalists, fearing to stay after the

.

did Washington avert the danger? 409. Meanwhile, what was going on at Paris ? Who acted for the United States ? What did they obtain from Great Britain ? When were articles of peace signed ? How was the news received ? 410. Give an account of the disbanding of the troops. What was done by one company? How much pay was raised for the army? 411. What orders were received by.

THE JERSEY PRISON-SHIP.

departure of the army, removed as rapidly as possible to Nova Scotia and elsewhere; and, the preliminary arrangements having been made, the 25th of November (still celebrated in New York as evacuation day”) was fixed on for the final withdrawal of the troops. The British had been in possession of the city for seven years; and during that time had made it the principal receptacle for the unfortunate Americans who fell into their hands. The prison-ships were moored chiefly in Wallabout [wol'-labout] Bay. On one of these, the Jersey, a thousand men were sometimes confined. Their food consisted of mouldy bread, spoiled meat, and other unwholesome and refuse articles. Such a diet, added to foul air and want of exercise, brought on a variety of diseases which swept them off by hundreds. Every morning the command was heard, “Rebels, bring out your dead.” The bodies of the deceased were carried ashore and buried near the bay, in graves so shallow that they were often washed bare by the waves. Twenty-five years after the close of the war, some patriotic citizens proposed to gather up the remains of the prison-ship martyrs, and have them suitably interred. The bones of 11,000 men were collected, and followed by a large procession to a vault prepared for their reception near the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

On the 25th of November, the British troops left New York; and, as they departed, the American army, with Gen. Washington and his aides, Governor Clinton, and many former citizens of the place, entered from the north. The BritCarleton, in August, 1783? What was done by the loyalists ? On what day was New York evacuated ? How long had the British held the city? For what had they used it? How were those on board the prison-ships treated? Where were they buried ? What was afterwards done with their remains ? Give an account

[graphic]

1783]

WASHINGTON RESIGNS HIS COMMISSION.

303

ish flag had been left flying by the retreating army. It was nailed to the flag-staff of Fort George, and, that it might not be taken down, the steps leading to it had been removed. A boy, however, was soon seen ascending the staff. Nailing on cleat after cleat as he went up, he reached the top, and, amid the roaring of artillery and the cheers of a delighted people, the ensign of Britain gave place to the stars and stripes of the young republic.

412. On the 4th of December, Washington took leave of his officers, who assembled at his quarters to hear his parting words. It was an affecting scene. All that they had done and suffered together, all that they had hoped and feared, rushed before their minds. “ With a heart full of love and gratitude," said Washington, “I now take leave of you. I most devoutly wish that your latter days may be prosperous and happy, as your former ones have been glorious and honorable. I can not come to each of you to take my leave, but shall be obliged if each of you will come and take me by the hand.” Gen. Knox stood nearest, and turned to grasp

the hand of his commander. Their emotions were too deep for utterance; not a word was spoken. The rest followed, with full hearts and moistened cheeks. This trying scene over, Washington crossed to the Jersey shore, and thence proceeded to Annapolis, where Congress was in session.

413. At Philadelphia Washington stopped long enough to submit to the comptroller an account of his expenses during the war. They amounted to £11,311, every item being distinctly entered by his own hand. On the 19th of December (1783) he reached Annapolis, and four days afterwards, before a full meeting of Congress and in the presence of numerous spectators, he surrendered his commission. An address full of patriotic sentiments was delivered by Washington, to which Gen. Millin, then president of Congress, replied in a touching and affectionate manner, offering the of the evacuation of New York and the raising of the American flag. 412. What was done by Washington, December 4th ? Describe the parting scene between Washington and his officers. Where did Washington then proceed? 413. What did Washington do at Philadelphia How large a bill did he present? Where was Congress in session ? When did Washington reach Annapolis ? Describe what took place on his surrender of his commission to Congress.

« ПретходнаНастави »