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his command; and in his letter to Congress, informing them that he had executed their order, in so doing, he observes: "They were indeed, at first, a band of undisciplined husbandmen; but it is, under God, to their bravery and attention to their duty, that I am indebted for that success which has procured me the only reward which I wish to receive, the affection and esteem of my countrymen."
The intelligence of these proceedings excited in England that spirit which former examples might lead us to expect. The ministry determined upon the most vigorous measures to put down a movement which had now assumed the character of open insurrection. The nation poured in addresses, which appear to have expressed decided assurances of public support. Penn, the hereditary governor of Pennsylvania, arrived with the address from Congress to the king, and endeavoured to second it, declaring his positive belief that the sentiments expressed in it were sincere. It was rejected, however, as coming from an illegal body, and consisting only of a series of empty professions, which their actions belied. The royal speech at the opening of parliament, on the 26th October, 1775, lamented that a desperate faction, by gross misrepresentations, had inflamed the mind of the people, overawed the wellaffected, and amid protestations of loyalty and attachment to the parent state, openly raised the standard of rebellion. It was added that these persons now obviously aimed at total independence, and hence clemency as well as prudence called for decisive exertions speedily to put down such disorders; that those of the misled multitude who should repent of their error would experience the utmost lenity, and be received into favour, as if they had never revolted; and that individuals on the spot would be invested with discretionary powers to grant immediate pardon and indemnity to any province or colony which should return to its allegiance. Offers of aid had been received from several foreign powers; and there was no reason to apprehend hostility or impediment from any quarter.
The debates then followed in their usual train, ministers retaining their inflexible majority, while the opposition displayed unabated energy, and even a small increase of numbers. The Duke of Grafton, who had hitherto taken the side of the government, declared himself to have been misled by the supposition that their measures would issue in the peaceful adjustment of differences. He now urged a liberal course of conciliation, by repealing all the obnoxious acts passed since 1763; but unable to procure the concurrence of the cabinet, he resigned the seals, and took a decided place in the
opposite ranks. The thunders of indignant eloquence were no longer heard from Chatham, who was confined with illness; but Camden, Richmond, and Shelburne, declared Great Britain to have been in every instance the aggressor, and stigmatized her proceedings as oppressive, cruel, unjust, and unrelenting, while they acquitted America of any design of aiming at independence. Wilkes asserted that ministers had wrested the sceptre out of the hands of the sovereign. Colonel Barré severely censured the conduct of the campaign, and held out the most gloomy prospects. The British army, he said, was a mere wen, a little excrescence on the vast continent of America. Fox characterized Lord North as the blundering pilot who had brought the vessel of the state into its present difficulties; in one campaign he had lost a whole continent. The provincials, he admitted, were not justifiable to the extent they had gone; yet, if they had not resisted at all, he would have thought them still more culpable. Mr. Adam, praising his lordship for ability and public virtue, accused him of indolence. The minister admitted this charge, but declared he had been forced into the situation, and had been deceived in events, never imagining that all America would have risen in arms. He pathetically lamented his own situation, under the weight of which, amid all its power and pageantry, he felt himself ready to sink. The rejection by the provincials of his conciliatory plan, proved the necessity of using force, yet without the least intention of reducing them to slavery. It was his object, immediately on their submission, to establish a most just, mild, and equitable government.
The address to the king, forming a regular echo to the speech, was carried in the Commons by one hundred and seventy-six to seventy-two, and in the Lords by seventy-five to thirty-two.
The Duke of Grafton, in the Lords, moved for accounts of the troops serving and to be employed in America. This was objected to, as giving information to the enemy, and was not pressed. The Duke of Richmond introduced the petition from Congress to the king, as an opening for pacification, and seeing in the house Mr. Penn, from Pennsylvania, obtained, with much difficulty, permission that he should be examined. That gentleman, as we have before seen, declared his belief that the colonies were willing to acknowledge the legislative authority of Britain, and did not aim at independence; but they were determined to resist arbitrary taxation, and all the obnoxious acts, so that if no concessions were made, they would probably not hesitate in seeking the aid of foreign powers. The duke's motion, that the petition afforded a
ground for conciliation, was, after a warm debate, rejected, by eighty-six to thirty-nine.
In the Commons, Mr. Burke brought forward a plan, which, avoiding all extremes, would, he hoped, conciliate both parties. It included the repeal of the Boston and Massachusetts acts; a declaration that Britain would not tax America; a general amnesty ; and the calling of a congress by royal authority to adjust the remaining differences. Lord George Germain, who had recently joined the ministry, strenuously argued that concession must be preceded by submission. Lord North could not believe that it would lead to conciliation. Even Pownall insisted that any thing short of repealing every measure since 1763, would not now avail, and would uselessly present Great Britain in an humbled aspect as suing for peace. This motion, however, which some writers suppose might have saved America to England, commanded a larger minority than any former question, being not less than one hundred and five to two hundred and ten. Mr. Hartley followed, with a proposal for a much larger concession, but could only command twenty-one against one hundred and twenty-three.
Meantime, Lord North was carrying through a bill prohibiting all trade or intercourse with the colonies till they should submit. The Boston port, and other restraining acts were repealed, as being all merged in this greater measure; and the regulations for the trial of the malecontents became unnecessary, when the country was to be subjected to martial law. Commissioners were to go out with full powers, not only to restore any colony, on submission, to all its privileges, but to inquire into and redress its well-founded complaints. This measure was opposed with extreme warmth in all its stages, as ruinous to Great Britain, and, in fact, proceeding on the principle adopted by the colonists themselves. The opposition, justifying the resistance of the latter, were branded by ministry as defenders, and little better than adherents of rebellion. The bill was carried by sweeping majorities, one hundred and twelve to sixteen; seventy-eight to nineteen.
The determination being thus formed to employ force, the requisite means were to be provided. In the estimates, the number of seamen was fixed at twenty-eight thousand, of land forces at fiftyfive thousand; but the difficulty lay in making up this latter number. The troops at Boston, amounting to seven thousand four hundred, were manifestly inadequate; while in Britain there was merely the small peace establishment considered necessary for the security of the country. The levying of a new army by voluntary
enlistment was difficult and tedious; while an additional time would be required for its training. In this exigency, ministers saw no expedient, except that of having recourse to several German princes, who on former occasions had been induced, partly by alliance, but more by pecuniary motives, to hire out their soldiers for temporary service. In the beginning, therefore, of 1776, treaties were concluded with the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel, for twelve thousand one hundred and four men, the Duke of Brunswick, for four thousand and eighty-four, the Prince of Hesse, for six hundred and sixty-eight, and the Prince of Waldeck, for six hundred and seventy; in all, seventeen thousand five hundred and twenty-six. These petty princes, keeping in view the extreme necessity of the British government, extorted very advantageous terms. The sum of £7, 4s. 4d. (about $36) was to be paid for each man; and besides being relieved from the whole burden of their maintenance, they were to receive compensation for all extraordinary losses, in addition to certain stipends, amounting in all to about £135,000, not only during the whole period of their engagement, but considerably longer. Besides this heavy charge, the employment of foreign mercenaries, subjects of despotic princes, greatly aggravated the odium of the undertaking.
These treaties, being in the end of February laid before parliament, afforded ample room for invective. Their enormous expense, with the unconstitutional and dangerous tendency of introducing into the empire such vast bodies of mercenaries, were dwelt on at great length. The most gloomy views were taken of the condition. and prospects of the British force. The Duke of Manchester observed, that the defection from government was total, total, my lords, besides the desolated prison of English troops, the devoted Boston." He saw little prospect of success with bands of German mercenaries and raw English recruits, said to be partly drawn from prisons. Earl Temple, however, while he deeply felt the imbecility of ministers, and the deplorable condition of the country, would not now obstruct their plan of making peace sword in hand. He hoped the first opportunity of doing so would be seized; at present the die of war was cast; it was time to act, not talk. Townshend saw no reason to doubt the war being ended in a single campaign. The measures were carried, and the adverse motion negatived by the usual majorities.
The news of the evacuation of Boston arrived in England about the 1st of May. The intelligence was published by the ministry on the 3d of May, in a short paragraph, merely announcing
that his majesty's forces had embarked from Boston with the greatest order and regularity, and without the least interruption from the rebels," and were destined for Halifax. One week afterwards, the Duke of Manchester moved an address to the king, praying him to order that the despatches of General Howe and Admiral Shuldham, relating to the operations of the army and fleet in the neighbourhood of Boston, should be laid before the House of Lords. A long and warm debate ensued, in the course of which the ministers were most severely censured for the part which they had taken in the recent occurrences in America.
The Duke of Manchester complained of the scantiness of the information vouchsafed by the ministers, and said that he believed, as he was informed by private intelligence, that General Howe quitted Boston, not of his own free will; but that a superior enemy, by repeated efforts, by extraordinary works, by the fire of their batteries, rendered the place untenable. The Earl of Suffolk defended the ministry, saying, that orders had been sent out for a removal of the troops when the commander should think proper, and that after securing Halifax, it was the intention of General Howe, to penetrate by that way into the interior of the country, and thence pursue his future intended operations.
The Marquis of Rockingham, however, came nearest to the true state of the case. After stating certain particulars, which he had received through a private channel, he said: If those accounts are true, of which I have very little doubt, your lordships will perceive, though possibly there might have been no formal convention or capitulation signed, which I understood was avoided by the generals on both sides, for particular reasons, that, in whatever manner the business might have been negotiated, it had every substantial requisite of a treaty or compromise, as much as if it had been ever so solemnly authenticated or subscribed. The troops were permitted to evacuate the town without interruption, because they engaged on the other hand not to burn or destroy it, either previous to their departure, or after they had got on board their ships." The same sentiments were expressed by Lord Shelbourne, and other lords in the opposition, but the minister persisted that he had no knowledge or belief of any such agreement.