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well as from the conviction of many other I given them the very occasion, and have matters which my mind possesses, but they not inserted themselves in the busiwhich the present is not the proper time ness? If you were at this moment in treaty to explain them in, I now take upon me to with America on that point, it is not in assert directly, and in terms, that your so- her power to grant you terms consonant vereignty over America is abolished and to that Act; they could meet you only gone for ever. I could say the same of on such terms as are not contrary to, and your Navigation Act; but I will not enter incongruous with, their engagements with upon that subject, particularly on this oc- France. Desirous as they were of a comcasion. The House seems unwilling to be mercial treaty with Spain, “ they could told this. I will only repeat what I said not propose any terms to his Catholic on a like occasion, and upon a like tem- majesty, but such as were not inconsistent per of the House-if the House is not with their engagements with France, or disposed to believe this, if the House is disagreeable to his most Christian majesunwilling to hear it, they will remember ty." In the very same predicament must that they have been told it; that they have they meet you whenever they come to been forewarned of it; and I repeat as a treat with you. To speak precisely, they truth in actual event, the sovereignty of have not as yet any actual, definitive treaty this country over America is abolished with France, but the two powers are under and gone for ever; the Navigation Act is stipulations and convention, in which they annihilated.
perfectly understand each other. All the Of what use, then, are these papers, treaty that this country can ever expect commissions, instructions, or any other with America, is fæderal, and that, propapers formed under an act of parliament, bably, only commercial. In such treaty, which supposes that sovereignty to exist ? perhaps, you may obtain favourable terms; of what use or power is any act of parlia- but exclusive terms of trade you must ment respecting that country? of what never more expect. They are determined import are our debates on this subject? It to maintain their independence at all may be matter of amusement for different events. The Dutch, in their distress, sides of the House, to continue endless bawked about the offer of the sovereignty and fruitless disputes, and abuse one ano- of their country. They offered it to the ther on this subject; but it is of no import duke of Anjou; they offered it to Henry to the Americans; it is of no real import the 3rd of France; they offered it to Eli. to the point of business in this pressing zabeth of England; but the Americans crisis. Until you shall be convinced that will never offer that of their country to you are no longer sovereigns over Ame- any power on earth. They have a quite rica, but that the United States are an in- different measure in reserve ; which perdependent, sovereign people—until you haps I may on some future occasion exare prepared to treat with them as such ; plain. They are determined at all events it is of no consequence at all, what to be independent; and they will be so. schemes or plans of conciliation this side All, then, that remains for us, if we meant the House, or that, may adopt. I have at to adopt what is really practicable, is to this time told you the fact, which I have take such ground as is actually left to us. just now declared, in order that ye may Let us appoint a committee to take into no longer amuse and abuse yourselves consideration, and revise all our laws rewith impracticable ideas. And as of the specting the government, revenues, and sovereignty, so I say of the Navigation trade of America, and of our commerce Act. You must no longer expect to rea- in Europe. And let us, on such revision, son, or act, as though that still existed, or adapt our laws to our actual, not our ima. would be any longer permitted to have ef- ginary state. I was once called upon by fect. The Americans have repealed it, a noble lord, who is, I ain sure, as uniform and it is annihilated with the powers of | in his wishes for peace, as he is in his Europe. Those persons who hear me, spirit for conducting the war, to propose máy remember, that at the beginning of such a committee two or three years ago. this business, I told them, that the House I wish it had then been come into. I will of Bourbon only wanted an occasion to now, in my turn, call upon that noble dispute the ground of our Act of Naviga. lord. This, in my opinion, is the only tion, and that they would insert them. thing we have left to do, or can do. As selves in this business (if they had no to the papers called for, they are of.no other views) to this very point. We have more consequence than so much waste
paper. Nothing can have been done, nothing ever will be done in that line; so I care not whether the House grants the motion or not. Lord George Germain declared, that he had never said that the Americans were a dastardly or a cowardly enemy. He had, indeed, ever asserted, that with equal force general Washington could not stand before the British troops, who were at this day perhaps the bravest in the world, and had in the present war performed services unequalled in the history of empires. This was his belief, and the news just received had given him no reason to alter his opinion. General Washington's force was 15,000, not speaking of the militia; general Howe’s numbers were but 13,000 rank and file; yet he defeated the conti. nental troops. He was sorry to say, that however favourable the accounts just received might be, nothing decisive had happened. General Howe had been victorious in two general engagements; the first in his march to Philadelphia, which was taken possession of by the King’s troops on the 25th September; the last, when the rebels attacked onr camp, and were repulsed with great loss. He bestowed the highest encomiums on the abilities of the generals, and the bravery of the troops; and particularly on the gallant behaviour of sir Harry Clinton, in an expedition up the North River, in which services had been performed scarcely entitled to credit, if they had not been authenticated beyond a possibility of doubt. The only i. the troops had received, was in the attack of a fort near Philadelphia, on the banks of the river Delaware, which unfortunately miscarried; but even in that affair, nothing was to be imputed to misconduct, or want of bravery; but was merely the effect of those accidents to which the best planned operations are liable. As to the question before the House, he always understood, that no part of a negociation ought to be disclosed while it was depending. If the powers of the Act for appointing commissioners to treat with our subjects in America, were inadequate, that might be a good reason for enquiring what had been done under those powers, and applying to parliament for more extensive ones. Nothing of the kind had been so much as hinted, by those who had been intrusted with the execution., Qn the contrary, the Congress resisted all steps towards conciliation at the very threshold; they refused to treat upon [VOL. XIX.]
any other terms but being acknowledged an independent assembly, the full representative of the several independent states who appointed them. Various opinions had been given from different sides of the House. The hon. gentleman who spoke last, was of opinion, that America woul not treat, unless we acknowledge her to be independent; that we were unequal to reduce her by force of arms to obedience: and that the most we could now expect was to enter into a foederal alliance with her upon commercial principles. As to the practicability of reducing our rebellious subjects in America by force of arms, great as our resources, powerful as our fleets and armies, and brave and able as we were, he began to despair of success if they should continue united; but still, for his part, he should think himself highly criminal, if he advised, or co-operated in any measures for entering into a foederal union with rebels. If they could not be brought back to a state of constitutional obedience, he should for his part be much better pleased to break off all political connection whatever with them, than stoop to the humiliating condition of submitting to what terms they might think proper to grant. Though he differed from the hon. gentleman as to the proposition of a foederal commercial union, he heartily acquiesced in his sentiments respecting the ultimate views of the colonies. He believed, they were the same from the beginning; that they aimed at independence; and that nothing short of that would content them. If parliament were willing to relinquish the sovereignty of America, he would cheerfully acquiesce, because it was his duty; if, on the other hand, parliament saw the necessity of prosecuting the war upon the mere principle of j. it would follow, that the most decisive exertions should be made ; for he was certain, nothing short of those would answer any effectual purpose. Campaign after campaign, battle after battle, would never answer, and might in another view be attended with great danger. America was almost ruined, and suffering under every species of human misery. The idea of a permanent separation from this country might probably detach numbers from what they deemed a just cause, whilex security of their rights, and a modification of our claims, was what alone they imao their leaders had in view. If, thereore, means could be devised to prevent the secret assistance they received from [2 M J
some of the powers of Europe, he still retained an expectation, that they might be compelled to return to their duty. The hon. gentleman who spoke last but one had represented him as delighting in blood: he begged leave to assure him, he was entirely mistaken; he always abhorred the effusion of blood, could it have been possibly avoided. He was equally mistaken relative to his imputed ideas about unconditional submission. No man was ever more ready to give way, even to the prejudices of America than he was, but he could never learn, how it was possible to treat with subjects in arms, till they acknowledged the relation, which could be the only foundation of treaty; namely, that they were subjects. This was his decided opinion before he came into office; he had been uniform in his language. General Conway observed, that the noble lord said, if the colonies should continue united, the strength, prowess, and resources of this country, however great, were unequal to the task of subduing them. The noble lord does not say, they are not united; yethis lordship, according to his own argument, is for prosecuting the war without the least prospect of success. He believed, if parliament would once adopt pacific measures, matters might be yet amicably settled; we might recover the monopoly of the American trade, which was all we ever had a right to expect; and become once more, a happy, united, and powerful people. It was probable, if ministers much longer persisted in measures of devastation and carnage, that America would never treat, or acknowledge any political relation whatever; but that no more proved, that they would not now, than every other prediction of theirs, which afterwards by their conduct came to be fulfilled. On the whole, if some proposition was not shortly made, on our part, he should not be surprised, if the people of America ever after refused to hear of accommodation; because were he similarly circumstanced, he should act precisely in the same manner. He concluded by affirming, that all the evils which had since happened, arose from the Act impowering commissioners to treat; the defectiveness of the instructions under that Act; and the delay and neglect in not sending out the commissioner In time. Mr. Henry Dundas declaimed vehemently against the propriety of the motion; and insisted, that to bring America to rea
son, we must make her feel our power.
He said, he was not in the last parliament, and could not consequently judge, how far either party were wrong in the beginning; but since he had the honour of a seat in that House, he had acted uniformly to the best of his judgment, free from partiality or predilection; and that if the same scene was to present itself again, he never gave a single vote that he would not cheerfully repeat. The House divided on Mr. Fox’s Mo
tion: Tellers. , Mr. Fox - - - YEAs Lord John Cavendish - } so ... W. Mr. Rice - - - - Noes 33. Grey Cooper - - } 17s
So it passed in the negative.
Debate in the Commons on the Army Estimates, and on the Loss of General Burgoyne's Army at Saratoga..] Dec. 3. The House went into a Committee of Supply, to consider of the Army Estimates. Lord Barrington moved, That 20,000 men be employed in Great Britain for the service of the year 1778, guards, garrisons, and invalids included. Colonel Barré desired to know, before any subsequent supplies should be granted, what was the number of troops serving in America. Lord Barrington replied, that the whole army upon paper consisted of 55,095 men, 14,000 of which were under general Carleton, 20,000 under general Howe, and the remaining 21,000, consisting of regulars, provincials, &c. were serving at New-York, Staten-Island, Rhode Island, Nova-Scotia, the West-Indies, Pensacola, &c. Mr. Byng wished to mention a circumstance wich occurred to him, on a noble lord’s observing, the night before, that general Howe always attacked general Washington with an inferior force. He should be glad to know, whether the 20,000 men, which were now said to have landed with general Howe, were inferior to the number of 15,000 men, which had been stated to be under the command of general Washington. The noble lord yesterday represented the number of our army to be 13,000 men, and general Washington's 15,000. It appeared extremely inconsistent to him that general Howe should attack an army of 15,000 men with only 13,000 men, when the number of his army was actually 20,000. If the account now given by the noble lord was correct, we had no great reason to pride ourselves in our superior bravery; as we must have had a superiority of four to three. Lord George Germain acknowledged it was true he had stated the army under general Howe to be 13,000 men, and general Washington's to be 15,000 men, and did so still; but then he neither included in that number the artillery, officers, or wounded soldiers. He only spoke of 13,000 men with arms on their shoulders; 13,000 effective men engaged in battle, and that conquered 15,000. Colonel Barré expressed the greatest surprize at the reply of the noble lord. He never heard so barefaced, palpable, and mean a quibble in his life. N. did he hear a soldier so express himself; never, he was convinced, did a minister of war obtrude on the House of Commons such an assertion. It is deserving of remembrance, and I promise the noble lord it shall be remembered. What, exclude from the list of the army the officers and artil1ery, because they do not carry firelocks Are not the officers concerned in the battle? Are not the artillery : Do they nothing towards conquest? The noble lord may have partial experience on his side, perhaps, to prove such doctrine; but I promise him, it would be very ungracious to a British audience, and would gain little credit even in a domestic circle. The colonel then called upon the noble lord to declare upon his honour, what was become of general Burgoyne and his brave troops; and whether or not he had not received expresses from Quebec, io him of his having surrendered himself, with his whole army, prisoners of war : Lord George Germain said, that he was ever ready to give to the House the most early and authentic intelligence of any transaction within his knowledge; and now, though the recital must give him pain, he knew it to be his duty to inform the House, that he had, indeed, received expresses from Quebec, with a piece of very unhappy intelligence, which, however, was not authenticated, and he could not declare it officially: it had been sent from Ticonderoga to Quebec, and had come to Ticonderoga by the reports of deserters. The tidings were, that general Burgoyne and his army were surrounded by a force greatly superior—cut off from fresh supplies of provisions, and unable to pierce through the numbers of the enemy, —so situated, he had been forced to capi
tulate, and had surrendered himself and his army prisoners, on condition that they should engage not to serve during the war
| in America; should have a safe convey
ance to the water-side, and have leave from thence to return to their native country. It was a most unfortunate affair; but, he hoped the House would not be over anxious in condemnation, nor decide on the propriety or impropriety of the concerted plan that led to this unhappy event. He hoped they would suspend their judgments both on the conduct of the general and of the minister on this occasion. He hoped the conduct of both would appear free from guilt. For his part, he declared he was ready to submit his conduct in planning the expedition to the judgment of the House. If it appeared impotent, weak, and injurious, let the censure of the House fall upon him. He was ready to abide it; as every minister, who regarded the welfare of his country, ought at all times to have his conduct scrutinized by his country. Colonel Barré rose again, and in a most animated, severe manner, reprehended the noble lord. He declared he was shocked at the cool, easy manner in which he related the fate of the brave Burgoyne. He was more so at the assurance of insinuating that a portion of the blame might lie at the door of the general. Was there, he exclaimed, a man in the House who in his heart could say, that Burgoyne had failed through his own misconduct 2 That he had shewn the least sign of cowardice, the least symptom of neglect in the expedition he was thrust into ? He was certain, there were none would say so. But every man would say, or at least every man would think, that the man who planned the expedition was to blame. The minister alone who concerted the scheme, was obnoxious to reprehension for its failure. It was an inconsistent scheme, an impracticable one, unworthy of a British minister, and rather too absurd for an Indian chief. Remember how frequently, how earnestly, how sincerely, I have warned the minister of the effects of this plan. I foresaw the consequences. I foretold the event. It was said I spoke in prophecy: has not my prophecy come to pass 2 But in what terms can I express my surprise at the bravery, my indignation at the effrontery of the noble lord, in declaring he will abide the censure of this House, and submit his conduct to their eye. Does the noble lord know the extent of his crimi
nality ? Does he know the resentments of this House 2 I believe he knows neither ; but how soon he may it is not for me to determine. I would beg leave to call the attention of the committee to the conduct of the Americans. They have been branded in this House with every opprobrious épithet that meanness could invent —termed cowardly and inhuman. Let us mark the proof. They have obliged as brave a general as ever commanded a body of British troops to surrender; such is their cowardice And instead of throwing chains upon these troops, they have nobly given them their freedom ; such is their inhumanity I only wish, from this single circumstance, to draw this fair conclusion, that instead of a set of lawless, desperate adventurers, we find them, by experience, to be men of the most exalted sentiments; inspired by that genius of liberty which is the noblest emotion of the heart, which it is impossible to conquer, impracticable to dismiss. Mr. James Luttrell. I think it my duty to take every opportunity of repeating my abhorrence of the mercenary and savage principles of a civil war, which has never yet held out constitutional terms of peace to be its object: and as I do conceive, that whilst unconditional submission is the language of the ministers and parliament, all efforts to conquer America must prove in vain, I cannot agree to vote away the lives and properties of my fellow-subjects, merely for the purpose of aggrandizing a few favourites and flatterers placed near the throne. The Americans, it is evident, will not give up their liberties, they will die first; all the eloquence of a Cicero cannot persuade us, that the unfortunate, misled Burgoyne is victorious; that general Clinton is in desirable safety: or justly give the boasted title of conqueror of America to sir W. Howe, yet the latter is represented with a great and powerful army in the field; he wants neither for money, nor ships, nor troops; he wants but the only one necessary article for consolation in defeat, or permanency and advantage in victory, I mean a just cause ; and Great Britain never, never, can build up fame or dignity to itself, upon acts of injustice and oppression. But ministers have hopes of important success. Sir, that language ought at least to imply, some honest, wise Americans may, upon sound principles, be induced to return to their allegiance; but is there a gentleman, that would candidly acquit the
abettors of unconditional submission, of deserving the slavery you endeavour to yoke them with ? Is it to obtain such a humiliating end, that the American now consoles himself for the loss of a father, friend, or brother, who fell in the battle 2 No, Sir, it was for liberty they fought, for liberty they died; that only can repay the loss, and obtain forgiveness of the murder. The Revolution which brought the present family to the throne, was obtained by men so resolved; our Magna Charta was obtained by men so resolved; and the Americans have not proved themselves less deserving of their liberties, than those Britons. An American Magna Charta is what they wisely contend for; not a Magna Charta to be taxed by strangers, a thousand leagues distant. But the constitution of this country, if in perfection, if uncontroverted by bribery and abuse of power, is acknowledged to be one of the happiest that men can live under; therefore, I do believe, that many wise and honest Americans may, upon sound principles, prefer it to any new invention of their own. I do not say the Congress would, nor yet many of their ambitious leaders, nor yet perhaps the virtuous Washington; but if constitutional freedom was secured to America, every victory might then gain over some worthy friends to our cause, instead of cowardly deserters, deceitful spies, or false and dangerous pilots. But ministers tell us that England is rich, and foreigners may be hired to carry on the war: what Briton would give up his laurels to those paltry hirelings, and save our blood 2 Sir, if honour called to arms, what minister dare to propose it? Neither are the Germans as cheap as is pretended, for you must now pay their hire, and when the war is at an end, you must likewise pay a large additional sum for all those who do not return home. Sir, I do not think the Germans will return, for I must pay the compliment to these ministers, that I do believe, even they are incapable of making such a constitution for America, that the Germans shall fly from it to better themselves, by returning to their own native, infamous shambles, to be again sold by their tyrannical, petty princes. But our important hope is to be gratified by the possession of Philadelphia. Sir, that town was built for peace and trade, not for war. It extends itself upon a low, flat country,
with scarce one advantageous spot of .