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North America should be considered as a public enemy. This was the deathblow to Lord North's administration. His lordship retired from office early in the month of March, and was succeeded by the Marquis of Rockingham, the efforts of whose ministry were as much and as cordially directed to peace as those of Lord Shelburne's. On the death of the Marquis, which took place soon after he had assumed the reins of government, the Earl of Shelburne was called on to preside over his Majesty's councils, which, under his auspices, were directed to the great object of pacification. To this all the parties interested were well inclined. The English nation was weary of a civil war in which it had sustained so many discomfitures. The king of France, who had reluctantly consented to aid the infant Republic of North America, was mortified by the destruction of the fleet of De Grasse, in the West Indies,* and found the expenses of the war press heavily on his finan
** The British fleet in the West Indies, under admiral Sir George B. Rodney, on the 12th of April gained a complete victory over the French fleet under the count de Grasse. The count fought on board the Ville de Paris to desperation, until he and two others were the only men left standing on the upper deck, when he consented to strike. This magnificent ship was the pride and glory of the French marine. It had been presented to Louis XV., by his capital, at the time of the war of Canada, and had cost four million of liyers. By this defeat and capture there fell into the hands of the English 36 chests of money, and the whole train of artillery intended for the attack on Jamaica."1.
1 Botta, History American War, b. 14. - The French for near a century had not in any naval engagement been so completely worsted. Their fleet was little less than ruined,” The number of their killed and wounded amounted to several thousands; the loss of the British did not much exceed 1100." Ramsay, “Congress, at a subsequent period, testified their respect to the memory of
To what was this a death-blow?
The Spaniards were disheartened by the failure of their efforts to repossess themselves of Gibraltar; and the Dutch were impatient under the suspension of their commerce. Such being the feelings of the belligerents, the negotiations for a peace between Great Britain and the United States were opened at Paris, by Mr. Fitzherbert and Mr. Oswald on the part of the former power, and by John Adams, Doctor Franklin, John Jay, and Henry Laurens, on behalf of the latter. These negotiations terminated in provisional articles of peace, which were signed on the 30th of November, 1782.* By this important instrument, the independence of the thirteen provinces was unreservedly acknowledged by his Britannic Majesty, who moreover conceded to them an unlimited right of fishing on the banks of Newfoundland and the river St. Lawrence, and all other places where they had been accustomed to fish. All that the British plenipotentiaries could obtain for the American loyalists was, a provision that Congress should earnestly recommend to the legislatures of the respective States the most lenient consideration of their case, and a restitution of their confiscated property.
the count de Grasse, by granting a pension to four of his daughters, who came to America in extreme poverty, after the ruin of their family in the French Revolution.” Warren, iii. 33."
*“On the 19th of April, peace was proclaimed in the American army by the commander-in-chief, precisely eight years from the day of the first effusion of blood at Lexington.”
Where were the negotiations for peace opened?
Thus terminated the American Revolutionary war,-a war which might have been prevented by the timely concession of freedom from internal taxation, as imposed by the British parliament, and by an abstinence on the part of the crown from a violation in this important particular of chartered rights. The confidential letters of Doctor Franklin evince that it was with extreme reluctance the American patriots adopted the measure of severing the colonies from the mother country. But when they had taken this decisive step, by the declaration of independence, they firmly resolved to abide by the consequences of their own act; and, with the single exception of Georgia, never, even in the most distressful contingencies of the war, did any public body of the provinces shew any disposition to resume their allegiance to the king of Great Britain. Still, it may be a matter of doubt, if, when we consider the conduct of the inhabitants of the Jerseys, when Washington was flying before General Howe, whether, had the British commanders restrained their troops with the strictness of discipline, and exercised towards the American people the conciliatory spirit evinced in Canada by Sir Guy Carleton, the fervor of resistance might not have been abated and subdued. But civil wars are always conducted with cruelty and rancor. The Americans were treated by the British soldiery not as enemies entitled to the courtesies of war, but as rebels, whose lives and property lay at the mercy of
In what way might the war have been prevented ?
secute the War? What state is excepted?
the victors. Hence devastation marked the track of the invading forces, while the inhabitants found their truest safety in resistance, and their best shelter in the republican camp. Nor will he who reads with attention the minute details of this eventful contest be surprised, that the British ministry persevered in the war when success might have appeared to be hopeless. It is now well known that George III., revolted from the idea of concession to his disobedient subjects, and was determined to put all to the hazard rather than acknowledge their independence. Lord North, at an early period of the war, had misgivings as to its ultimate success, but he had not firmness enough to give his sovereign unwelcome advice; whilst Lord George Germaine and the other ministers fully sympathised with the royal feelings, and entered heartily into the views of their master. They were apprised, from time to time, of the destitute condition of the American army, but living as they did in luxury, and familiarized as they were with the selfishness and venality of courts and political parties, they could not conceive the idea of men sacrificing health, property, and life, for their country's good. When Washington was beaten in the field, such men imagined that the affairs of the Congress were desperate, and flattered themselves that the great body of the colonists, wearied and disheartened by successive defeats, would be glad to accept the royal mercy, and to return to their allegiance. In these notions they were confirmed by the loyalists, who, giving
What marked the track of the invading forces?
utterance to their wishes, rather than stating the truth, afforded the most incorrect representations of the feelings and temper of their countrymen. Some of these coming over to England were received with favor in high circles, and by their insinuations kept up to the last a fatal delusion. These individuals at length fell the victims of their
Traitors to their country, they lost their property by acts of confiscation, and while they lived on the bounty of the British crown, they had the mortification to see the country which they had deserted, rise to an exalted rank amongst the nations of the earth.
It must also be admitted that the people of England sympathised with their Government up to a late period, in the feelings which prompted perseverance in this iniquitous
Excessive loyalty to the crown; a certain undefined appetite for military achievements; resentment against the Americans for questioning British supremacy, strongly impressed the public mind, and rendered the war disgracefully popular in many quarters. Such sentiments were fostered and encouraged by the accession of France, Spain, and Holland to the cause of her revolted States, and the prospect of naval victories. We may reasonably indulge the hope, that the lesson then, and during the French Revolutionary war, taught by experience, and the subsequent improvement of the public mind, will prevent it from ever again joining its government in such a conspiracy against freedom and justice.
When the ministers of the king of France incited their master to enter into an alliance with the revolted colonies,
How were they confirmed in these notions?