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need of them. A moment's reflection will convince every dispassionate mind of the physical impossibility of carrying either proposal into execution.
“ There might, gentlemen, be an impropriety in my taking notice in this address to you, of an anonymous production ; but the manner in which that performance has been introduced to the army, the effect which it was intended to have, together with some other circumstances, will amply justify my observation on the tendency of that writing.
“ With respect to the advice given by the author, to suspect the man who shall recommend moderate measures, I spurn it, as every man who regards that liberty and reveres that justice for which we contend, undoubtedly must; for, if men are to be precluded from offering their sentiments on a matter which may involve the most serious and alarming consequences that can invite the consideration of mankind, reason is of no use to us; the freedom of speech may be taken away, and, dumb and silent, we may be led like sheep to the slaughter. I cannot, in justice to my own belief, and what I have great reason to conceive is the intention of Congress, conclude this address without giving it as my decided opinion, that that honourable body entertain such exalted sentiments of the services of the army, and from a full conviction of its merits and its sufferings will do it a complete justice. That their endeavour to discover and establish funds for this purpose has been unwearied, and will not cease until they have succeeded, I have not a doubt; but, like all other large bodies, where there is a variety of different interests to reconcile, their determinations are slow. Why, then, should we distrust them; and, in consequence of that distrust, adopt measures which may cast a shade over that glory which has been so justly acquired, and tarnish the reputation of an army which is celebrated all through Europe for its fortitude and patriotism? and for what is this done? To bring the object we seek nearer? No: most certainly, in my opinion, it will cast it at a greater distance. For myself, (and I take no merit for giving the assurance, being induced to it from feelings of gratitude, veracity, and justice, and a grateful sense of the confidence you have ever placed in me,) a recollection of the cheerful assistance and prompt obedience I have experienced from you under every vicissitude of fortune, and the sincere affection I feel for an army I have so long had the honour to command, will oblige me to declare, in this public and solemn manner, that in the attainment of complete justice for all your toils and dangers, and in the gratification of every
COMPLAINTS OF THE ARMY.
wish, so far as can be done consistently with the great duty I owe to my country, and those powers we are bound to respect, you may freely command my services to the utmost extent of my abilities.
“While I give you my assurances, and pledge myself in the most unequivocal manner to exert whatever abilities I am possessed of in your favour ; let me entreat you, gentlemen, on your part, not to take any measures which, viewed in the calm light of reason, will lesson the dignity, and sully the glory you have hitherto maintained. Let me request you to rely on the plighted faith of your country, and place a full confidence in the purity of the intentions of Congress, that, previous to your dissolution as an army, they will cause all your accounts to be fairly liquidated, as directed in all the resolutions which were published to you two days ago ; and that they will adopt the most effectual measures in their power to do ample justice to you for your faithful and meritorious services. And let me conjure you, in the name of our common country, as
your own sacred honour, as you respect the rights of humanity, and as you regard the military and national character of America, to express your utmost horror and detestation of the man who wishes, under any specious pretence, to overturn the liberties of our country; and who wickedly attempts to open the flood-gates of civil discord, and deluge our rising empire in blood.
By thus determining, and thus acting, you will pursue the plain and direct road to the attainment of your wishes; you will defeat the insidious designs of your enemies, who are compelled to resort for open force to secret artifice ; you will give one more distinguished proof of unexampled patriotism and patient virtue rising superior to the pressure of the most complicated sufferings ; and you will, by the dignity of your conduct, afford occasion for posterity to say, when speaking of the glorious example you have exhibited to mankind-Had this day been wanting, the world had never seen the last stage of perfection to which human nature is capable of attaining.”
That eloquent and impassioned production greatly increased the sensation which had before existed; the crisis was alarming. Even in the army of a firmly established government, such a general spirit of dissatisfaction would have been unpleasant; but in a new, feeble, and tottering government, and in an army ill-trained to strict subordination, the occurrence was far more formidable.
The effect of this eloquent appeal was irresistible. No person was bold enough to oppose the advice of Washington, and the general impression was apparent. A resolution was passed “assuring him that the officers reciprocated his affectionate expressions with the greatest sincerity of which the human heart is capable. On motion of General Putnam, a committee was then appointed to prepare resolutions on the business before them, which were speedily reported and adopted. The resolutions were as follows:
« Resolved unanimously, that at the commencement of the present war, the officers of the American army engaged in the service of their country from the purest love and attachment to the rights and privileges of human nature; which motives still exist in the highest degree; and that no circumstances of distress or danger shall induce a conduct that may tend to sully the reputation and glory which they have acquired at the price of their blood, and eight years' faithful services,
- Resolved unanimously, that the army continue to have an unshaken confidence in the justice of Congress and their country, and are fully convinced that the representatives of America will not disband or disperse the army until their accounts are liquidated, the balances accurately ascertained, and adequate funds established for payinent; and in this arrangement, the officers expect that the half-pay, or a commutation for it, shall be efficaciously comprehended.
“ Resolved unanimously, that his excellency, the commander-inchief, be requested to write to his excellency the President of Congress, earnestly entreating the most speedy decision of that honourable body upon the subject of our late address, which was forwarded by a committee of the army, some of whom are waiting upon Congress for the result. In the alternative of peace or war, this event would be highly satisfactory, and would produce immediate tranquillity in the minds of the army, and prevent any farther 'machinations of designing men, to sow discord between the civil and military powers of the United States.
« On motion, resolved unanimously, that the officers of the American army view with abhorrence, and reject with disdain, the infamous propositions contained in a late anonymous address to the officers of the army, and resent with indignation the secret aitempts of some unknown person to collect the officers together in a manner totally subversive of all discipline and good order.
“ Resolved unanimously, that the thanks of the officers of the army be given to the committee who presented to Congress the late address of the army; for the wisdom and prudence with which they have conducted that business; and that a copy of the proceedings of this day be transmitted by the president to Major
COMPLAINTS OF THE ARMY.
general M.Dougall; and that he be requested to continue his solicitations at Congress until the objects of his mission are accomplished.”
Washington having thus, by his great personal influence, induced the officers to present their claims with moderation to Congress, now exerted the same influence in support of their application. The following letter expresses fully his views and feelings on this momentous occasion.
« The result of the proceedings of the grand convention of the officers, which I have the honour of enclosing to your excellency for the inspection of Congress, will, I flatter myself, be considered as the last glorious proof of patriotism which could have been given by men who aspired to the distinction of a patriot army; and will not only confirm their claim to the justice, but will increase their title to the gratitude of their country.
Having seen the proceedings on the part of the army terminate with perfect unanimity, and in a manner entirely consonant to my wishes; being impressed with the liveliest sentiments of affection for those who have so long, so patiently, and so cheerfully, suffered and fought under my direction; having, from motives of justice, duty, and gratitude, spontaneously offered myself as an advocate for their rights; and having been requested to write to your excellency, earnestly entreating the most speedy decision of Congress upon the subjects of the late address from the army to that honourable body; it now only remains for me to perform the task I have assumed, and to intercede in their behalf, as I now do, that the sovereign power will be pleased to verify the predictions I have pronounced of, and the confidence the army have reposed in, the justice of their country.
< And here I humbly conceive it is altogether unnecessary (while I am pleading the cause of an army which have done and suffered more than
other army ever did in the defence of the rights and liberties of human nature) to expatiate on their claims to the most ample compensation for their meritorious services, because they are perfectly known to the whole world, and because (although the topics are inexhaustible) enough has already been said on the subject. To prove these assertions, to evince that my sentiments have ever been uniform, and to show what my ideas of the rewards in question have always been, I appeal to the archives of Congress, and call on those sacred deposits to witness for me. And in order that my observations and arguments in favour of a future adequate provision for the officers of the army may be brought to remembrance again, and considered in a single point of view, without giving Congress the trouble of having recourse to their files, I will beg leave to transmit herewith an extract from a representation made by me to a committee of Congress, so long ago as the 20th of January, 1778, and also the transcript of a letter to the president of Congress, dated near Passaic falls, October the 11th, 1780.
« That in the critical and perilous moment when the last-mentioned communication was made, there was the utmost danger a dissolution of the army would have taken place unless measures similar to those recommended had been adopted, will not admit a doubt. That the adoption of the resolution granting half-pay for life has been attended with all the happy consequences I foretold, so far as respected the good of the service, let the astonishing contrast between the state of the army at this instant and at the former period determine. And that the establishment of funds, and security of the payment of all the just demands of the army, will be the most certain means of preserving the national faith and future tranquillity of this extensive continent, is my decided opinion.
“ By the preceding remarks, it will readily be imagined that, instead of retracting and reprehending (from farther experience and reflection) the mode of compensation so strenuously urged in the enclosures, I am more and more confirmed in the sentiment; and if in the wrong, suffer me to please myself in the grateful delusion. For if, besides the simple payment of their wages, a farther compensation is not due to the sufferings and sacrifices of the officers, then have I been mistaken indeed. If the whole army have not merited whatever a grateful people can bestow, then have I been beguiled by prejudice, and built opinion on the basis of error. If this country should not in the event perform every thing which has been requested in the late memorial to Congress, then will my belief become vain, and the hope that has been excited void of foundation. And if (as has been suggested for the
"purpose of inflaming their passions) the officers of the army are to be the only sufferers by this revolution ; if, retiring from the field, they are to grow old in poverty, wretchedness, and contempt; if they are to wade through the vile mire of dependency, and owe the miserable remnant of that life to charity which has hitherto been spent in honour,' then shall I have learned what ingratitude is; then shall I have realized a tale which will embitter every moment of my future life.
« But I am under no such apprehensions. A country rescued