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Colonel Wilkinson, who was the bearer of despatches from General Gates to Congress, was sent for by that body on the 31st of October; and concluding from various questions which were put to him by some of the members, that they were disposed to regard the convention of Saratoga in a light unfavourable to General Gates, he requested time to arrange the papers in his possession, and was ordered to attend them again on the 3d of November. He had, in the mean time, under authority given to him by General Gates, and with the advice of the General's friends, Samuel Adams and James Lovell, prepared the following message from General Gates: "I have it in charge from Major General Gates to represent to the honourable the Congress, that Lieutenant General Burgoyne, at the time he capitulated, was strongly intrenched in a formidable post, with twelve days' provision: that the reduction of Fort Montgomery, and the enemy's consequent progress up the Hudson river, endangered our arsenal at Albany; a reflection which left General Gates no time to contest the capitulation with General Burgoyne, but induced the necessity of immediately closing with his proposal, hazarding a disadvantageous attack, or retiring from his position for the security of our magazine. This delicate situation abridged our conquest, and procured Lieutenant General Burgoyne the terms he enjoys. Had our attack been carried against General Burgoyne, the dismemberment of our army must necessarily have been such as would have incapacitated it for further action. With an army in health, vigour and spirits, Major General Gates now waits the commands of the honourable Congress."
Along with this message Colonel Wilkinson laid before Congress sundry papers relative to the convention, most of which have already been given to the reader. All these papers it appeared, had some how or other made their way not only to Congress but to the army under the Commander in Chief, some time before they were officially communicated; and it had been asserted by many that the terms allowed to Burgoyne were more favourable than the great superiority of General Gates would justify. Arnold was suspected of being at the bottom of the rumours to the prejudice of General Gates, and no doubt with some truth. Whether the statement of Colonel Wilkinson really satisfied the doubts of Congress, and removed their unfavourable impressions or not, they at least appeared to be satisfied, and voted that a gold medal should be struck in commemmoration of the convention and presented to General Gates. They at the same time voted their thanks to Gates, Lincoln, and Arnold, the latter of whom, from what has been seen, was to say the least, but doubtfully entitled to them. On the 6th, they rewarded Colonel Wilkinson with the brevet of a Brigadier General.
Major General Mifflin had, on the 8th of October, in consequence of the impaired state of his health, rcquested permission to resign both his appointments of Major General, and Quarter Master General. No notice was taken of his letter until the 7th of November, when it was "Resolved, that Major General Mifflin's resignation of the office of Quarter Master General be accepted, but that his rank and commission of Major General be continued to him, without the pay annexed to that office, until further order of Congress."
On the 27th in pursuance of a resolution sometime before laid before Congress, they proceeded to the establishment of a board of War, consisting of Major General Gates, as President, Major General Mifflin, Colonel Timothy Pickering, Colonel Joseph Trumbull, and Richard Peters, Esq. and granting permission to General Gates to officiate at the board or in the field, as occasion might require. To this board, Brigadier General Wilkinson was made Secretary.
The conduct of Mr. Silas Deane, one of the commissioners to the Court of France, had on many occasions been such as to excite the resentment of Congress. His unauthorised contracts with individuals of France, had more than once led them into considerable embarrassment, and it now became necessary to the support of their authority, that he should be recalled. At the time that Monsieur du Coudray had presented himself before Congress, claiming appointments for himself and fifty others, under the stipulations of Mr. Deane, a motion was made for his recall, which did not prevail. In September another motion to the same effect, bottomed upon a report of the committee of foreign affairs, was introduced; but the terms of it being considered as too harsh, another was substituted on the 21st of November, in the following words— "Resolved, that Silas Deane Esq. be recalled from the Court of France, and that the committee of foreign affairs be directed to take proper measures for speedily communicating the pleasure of Congress herein to Mr. Deane and the other Commissioners of the United States at the Court of France."-On the 27th. John Adams was chosen to supply his place.
A blameable tenderness for the reputation of Mr. Deane, and a want of proper respect to themselves,
produced a trifling on this subject, unworthy of the re-. presentatives of an independent people. The naked recall of Mr. Deane, as above recorded, was on the 8th of December softened down into the following resolution. Whereas it is of the greatest importance, that Congress should at this critical conjuncture, be well informed of the state of affairs in Europe; and whereas Congress have resolved that the hon. Silas Deane Esq. be recalled from the Court of France, and have appointed another Commissioner to supply his place there: Ordered, that the committee for foreign affairs write to the hon. Silas Deane Esq. and direct him to embrace the first opportunity of returning to America, and upon his arrival to repair with all possible despatch to Congress." Thus they endeavoured to make it appear, that Mr. Deane was brought home for the purpose of giving them correct information of the state of affairs in Europe.
On the 13th of December General Conway, who had been for some time urging to Congress the propriety of appointing inspectors of the army, was made Inspector General, with the rank of Major General in the army. This unexpected promotion gave great and general offence to the officers of the army, all the Brigadiers of which remonstrated against it in strong terms. They accused him of originating an intrigue to remove Washington from the command. This accusation was founded upon some expressions which Conway had used in a letter to General Gates, reflecting on the conduct of the Commander in Chief, and a copy of which had by some unknown means been communicated to the army. Conway was an old man and an old soldier, sufficiently vain to think himself better qualified than any other person to manage the
affairs of the army, but it is hardly probable he had any hope or design to effect a removal of Washington, by reflecting on what he considered the weakness of his measures. Whatever were his intentions, however, it is plain from the universal clamour which his appointment created, that he could have found but few persons to second his views.
The great and growing depreciation of the paper currency of the United States, began now to be most seriously felt. The Congress were unable to procure the most necessary articles for the army without an advance of from a thousand to eighteen hundred per cent. on the nominal amount of their bills; and so low was the publick credit, that no purchases could be made without the cash advance. In this situation they instructed their Commissioners at the foreign courts to endeavour to obtain a loan of two millions sterling, on the pledge of the "faith of the thirteen United States ;" and were compelled in the mean time to recommend to the Legislatures of the several States the enaction of laws authorising the seizure of goods which they were unable to purchase on the terms demanded by the holders. This was a high handed measure, but perhaps the only remedy for the desperate circumstances of the country.
On the 15th of November Congress adopted the Articles of Confederation which had been reported on the 12th of July, 1776, as follows:
Articles of confederation and perpetual union, between the States of New Hampshire, Massachusett's Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.