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for him. * Jefferson had been designed as the third Commissioner, but on his declining the appointment it devolved upon Arthur Lee. The latter, though for some years past he had practised as a barrister in London, was a native of Virginia, and a brother of Richard Henry Lee. Towards the first of November Dr. Franklin set forth on his voyage, not without some apprehensions of being captured by the English; but landed safe in Quiberon Bay, and before the close of the year had arrived at Paris.
Another subject which at this period greatly engaged the time and thoughts of Congress, was the framing Articles of Confederation. It was a requisite and yet by no means an easy task to define precisely which powers, as of national concern, should belong to the central body, and which, as of local administration, to the several States. These Articles, as decided after keen debates, were signed and made known at Philadelphia on the 4th of October, but did not become law by the ratification or accession of all the States until nearly three years afterwards. In the meanwhile there was no provision for Central Executive Government beyond the majority of Congress and the Standing Committees which the Congress was in the habit of appointing. But such Standing Committees were, in truth, only specious names. This has been clearly explained by a statesman who was himself at the head of three of them; a statesman among the most adroit and able of his day- Mr. Gouverneur Morris.
6 You must not imagine,” said he to a friend, “ that the members of “ these Committees took any charge or burthen of the “ affairs." For, as Mr. Morris proceeds to show, it was the object of his friends, while preserving the democratical form, to assume the monarchical substance, of business. It was the Chairman who received and answered all letters or other applications, who took every step which he deemed essential, who prepared reports, and who issued orders. As for the Committee, the Chairman merely from time to time led them into a private chamber, where, for form's sake, he communicated to them his
* Gordon's History Amer. Rev., vol. ii. p. 372.
past proceedings and required their approbation, which was given as a matter of course.*
Of the men who, thus wielding the Committees as their instruments, or standing forth in the Congress by themselves, held in their hands the reins of power, many were beyond all question well entitled to respect and confidence from their private characters. All of them did not, however, stand equally clear from imputation. See, for instance, the case of Mr. Samuel Adams. Before the passing of the Stamp Act he had been collector of the rates in the town of Boston, and treasurer of the money 80 collected. Take the sequel, not in the words of a stranger or an enemy, but as stated by a man of the same town, the same party, the same creed — by Dr. William Gordon : “ His necessities probably, for he appears to be “ addicted to no extravagance, urged him to supply him“ self time after time from the cash in hand. The town “ had several meetings upon the business; at length, by “ the exertion of his friends, a majority was obtained for “ the relinquishment of the demand upon him.” † Mr. Samuel Adams appears also to be glanced at in an anonymous hand-bill which, at the commencement of 1775, was circulated through the town of Boston; it contains the expression : "Our leaders are desperate bankrupts." I Whatever degree of truth there might or might not be in these charges against Samuel Adams, it is certain that they did not prevent him from attaining considerable influence in Congress. Jefferson says of him, that he had a greater share than any other member in advising and directing the conduct of the Northern War.§ On several occasions at least, he appears to have borne no good will to Washington, whose character was so far unlike his own; and both his name and influence may be traced in those secret cabals, which, at one time especially, were formed in Congress against that most eminent man.
* Life of Gouverneur Morris, by Sparks, vol. i. p. 217.
† Hist. Amer. Rev., vol. i. p. 348. On this charge, see a note in my Appendix. In another passage of Gordon's History (p. 288.), the personal appearance of Mr. Samuel Adams is described
“ with “ his venerable grey locks and hands trembling under a nervous complaint." I See the American Archives, vol. i. p. 1216
Letter to Mr. Wells, May 12, 1819.
In tracing the measures of Congress at this juncture, it is to be observed that while most of the Members were warm and zealous in prosecution of the war, there was not wanting a minority inclined to absolute and unconditional submission. So much danger would have been incurred by a manifestation of such views, that we cannot expect to find them in any manner clearly or explicitly avowed. But that such a party did exist at Philadelphia, and that in numbers it was considerable, is recorded by most unimpeachable authority; by the Adjutant-General of the American army, himself a Philadelphian, and connected with the chief houses of that city.
Few things, indeed, are more remarkable than the lingering attachment to kingly government which may be traced in these insurgent Colonies. So strong was this feeling that, even when every hope was relinquished of returning to the sway of King George, there were some persons who in their stead turned their thoughts to the Pretender - to the Prince Charles of “The Forty-five.” Some letters to invite him over, and to assure him of allegiance, were addressed to him from Boston at the very commencement of the contest. † Thus, also, Mr. Washington Irving was assured by Sir Walter Scott, that among the Stuart Papers which Sir Walter had examined at Carlton House, he had found a Memorial to Prince Charles from some adherents in America, dated 1778, and proposing to set up his standard in the back settlements. I These men were not, and could not be, aware of the broken health and degraded habits into which their hero had fallen. They did not, they could not, know the details of his domestic life at Florence. But such was still their reverence for Royalty that they desired to cling to it even where it might be only the shadow of a shade.
* To Mrs. Reed, October 11. 1776. Colonel Reed subjoins ; “ This letter, my dearest love, is written only for your own eye.”
t" "L'Abbé Fabroni, Recteur de l'Université de Pise, m'a assuré “ avoir vu au commencement de la guerre d'Amerique des lettres des " Americains de Boston au Pretendant pour l'engager à aller se “ mettre à leur tête.” (Dutens, Memoires d'un Voyageur, vol. iii. p. 30.)
| Visit to Abbotsford, by Washington Irving, p. 48. This Memorial has now disappeared from its place in the collection, as I learn from Mr. Glover, her Majesty's librarian, who, at my request, in April, 1850, had the kindness to make search among the Stuart Papers of the year 1778, as then preserved in Windsor Castle.
All this time the several States were busily employed in new-modelling their own Constitutions. To that course they had been invited by a Resolution of the Congress so early as the 15th of May. In nearly all the endeavour was apparent to retain as far as possible the ancient forms. But since Royalty was set aside, it became unavoidable to derive the whole powers of government, either mediately or immediately, from the people. Thus in each State there was still to be appointed a supreme executive head, with the title either of Governor or President. Such appointments, however, instead of forming a check on the popular impulse, would henceforth be only in one shape or another a manifestation of it. The new Governors were chosen, as of course, among the favourites of the ruling majority. In Virginia, for example, the new Governor was Patrick Henry. Eleven of the States maintained a Second Chamber, to be called in some cases the Council, in some others the Senate. Georgia and Pennsylvania alone resolved on trying the experiment of a single Chamber. In the Pennsylvania Convention that point is said to have been decided by a speech, or rather by a story, from Dr. Franklin. With his usual fondness for apologue, he told them a tale of a loaded waggon with a team at each end pulling in opposite directions. The other Pennsylvanians present appear to have considered this argument, if so it can be called, decisive of the question. Yet so ill did the working of a single Chamber speed in their province or in Georgia, that not many years elapsed ere in both it was abandoned; and since the further experience of France in her first Revolutionary period, the theory of Franklin on this subject has been, it is said, altogether exploded among his countrymen. * Certain it is that periods may be shown in the more recent history of the United States, when nothing but the existence of a Second Chamber in their Congress has saved them from great dangers and from glaring faults.
From the formation of councils, we must now revert to
Sparks's Life of Franklin, p. 410
the conduct of the war. During several weeks General Washington remained on the heights of Haerlem, while General Howe continued at gaze. At last, towards the middle of October, the English commander put the greater part of his forces on board, and landed them at the extremity of Frog's Neck, on the continent of New York, and in Long Island Sound. There again he lost several days, kept in check apparently by the American outposts, and unable to reach the mainland over a ruined causeway. Once more he transported his troops, by water, to the adjoining promontory of Pell's Neck, and from thence began his march into the country. His movements had drawn the American army from the heights of Haerlem : it had, for the most part, passed the stream at Kingsbridge, and was now near the White Plains, already intrenched in its new position. Several skirmishes ensued, in which the British gained apparent success, but the, Americans gradual experience. The chief skirmish sometimes, indeed, it was termed a battle— took place on the 28th, near Chatterton's Hill, when the enemy gave way, retiring, however, from the ground in good order, and carrying off their artillery and wounded. It appears from General Howe's despatches, that next morning he contemplated an assault on the American camp, but was deterred by the apparent strength of its lines. Little did he know of what these lines, in truth, consisted! They were designed principally for defence against small arms, and had been reared in the utmost haste from the stalks of a large corn-field near the spot, the tops being turned inwards, and the stalks supported by the lumps of earth adhering to the roots, * Such were now the obstacles before which a British chief recoiled! Deeming a new attack inexpedient, General Howe, on the morning of the 5th of November, suddenly drew off his troops to the left, in the direction of Kingsbridge, leaving the American chief in great doubt as to their further objects. “Some,” writes Washington, “suppose they are going into winter “quarters, and will sit down in New York without doing
more than invest Fort Washington. I cannot subscribe “ wholly to this opinion myself.” Surely General Howe
* Memoirs of General Heath, p. 81. apud Reed.