- Prefatory Note to Paine’s First Essay.
- I.: African Slavery In America.
- II.: A Dialogue Between General Wolfe and General Gage In a Wood Near Boston.1
- III.: The Magazine In America.1
- IV.: Useful and Entertaining Hints.1
- V.: New Anecdotes of Alexander the Great.1
- VI.: Reflections On the Life and Death of Lord Clive.1
- VII.: Cupid and Hymen.1
- VIII.: Duelling.1
- IX.: Reflections On Titles.1
- X.: The Dream Interpreted.1
- XI.: Reflections On Unhappy Marriages.1
- XII.: Thoughts On Defensive War.1
- XIII.: An Occasional Letter On the Female Sex.1
- XIV.: A Serious Thought.1
- XV.: Common Sense.1
- Postscript to Preface In the Third Edition.
- Common Sense. On the Origin and Design of Government In Gen- Eral, With Concise Remarks On the English Constitution.
- Of Monarchy and Hereditary Succession.
- Thoughts On the Present State of American Affairs.
- Of the Present Ability of America: With Some Miscellaneous Reflections.
- Appendix to Common Sense.
- XVI.: Epistle to Quakers.
- XVII.: The Forester’s Letters.1
- I: To Cato.
- II.: To Cato.
- III.: To Cato.
- To the People.
- XVIII.: A Dialogue1
- XIX.: The American Crisis.
- Editor’s Preface.
- The Crisis.: I.
- II.: To Lord Howe.2
- The Crisis.1: III.
- The Crisis.: IV.
- V.: To Gen. Sir William Howe.1
- To the Inhabitants of America.
- VI.: To the Earl of Carlisle, General Clinton, and William Eden, Esq., British Commissioners At New York.1
- VII.: To the People of England.
- VIII.: Addressed to the People of England.
- The Crisis.: IX.
- The Crisis Extraordinary.: On the Subject of Taxation.
- X.: On the King of England’s Speech.1
- To the People of America.
- XI.: On the Present State of News.
- A Supernumerary Crisis.: to Sir Guy Carleton.1
- XII.: To the Earl of Shelburne.1
- XIII.: Thoughts On the Peace, and the Probable Advantages Thereof.
- A Supernumerary Crisis.: to the People of America.
- XX.: Retreat Across the Delaware.1
- XXI.: Letter to Franklin, In Paris.1
- XXII.: The Affair of Silas Deane.1to Silas Deane, Esq’re.
- XXIII.: To the Public On Mr. Deane’s Affair.1
- XXIV.: Messrs. Deane, Jay, and G
A SUPERNUMERARY CRISIS.
TO THE PEOPLE OF AMERICA.
In “Rivington’s New-York Gazette,” of December 6th, is a publication, under the appearance of a letter from London, dated September 30th; and is on a subject which demands the attention of the United States.
The public will remember that a treaty of commerce between the United States and England was set on foot last spring, and that until the said treaty could be completed, a bill was brought into the British parliament by the then chancellor of the exchequer, Mr. Pitt, to admit and legalize (as the case then required) the commerce of the United States into the British ports and dominions. But neither the one nor the other has been completed. The commercial treaty is either broken off, or remains as it began; and the bill in parliament has been thrown aside. And in lieu thereof, a selfish system of English politics has started up, calculated to fetter the commerce of America, by engrossing to England the carrying trade of the American produce to the West India islands.
Among the advocates for this last measure is lord Sheffield, a member of the British parliament, who has published a pamphlet entitled “Observations on the Commerce of the American States.” The pamphlet has two objects; the one is to allure the Americans to purchase British manufactures; and the other to spirit up the British parliament to prohibit the citizens of the United States from trading to the West India islands.
Viewed in this light, the pamphlet, though in some parts dexterously written, is an absurdity. It offends, in the very act of endeavoring to ingratiate; and his lordship, as a politician, ought not to have suffered the two objects to have appeared together. The latter alluded to, contains extracts from the pamphlet, with high encomiums on lord Sheffield, for laboriously endeavoring (as the letter styles it) “to show the mighty advantages of retaining the carrying trade.”
Since the publication of this pamphlet in England, the commerce of the United States to the West Indies, in American vessels, has been prohibited; and all intercourse, except in British bottoms, the property of and navigated by British subjects, cut off.
That a country has a right to be as foolish as it pleases, has been proved by the practice of England for many years past: in her island situation, sequestered from the world, she forgets that her whispers are heard by other nations; and in her plans of politics and commerce she seems not to know, that other votes are necessary besides her own. America would be equally as foolish as Britain, were she to suffer so great a degradation on her flag, and such a stroke on the freedom of her commerce, to pass without a balance.
We admit the right of any nation to prohibit the commerce of another into its own dominions, where there are no treaties to the contrary; but as this right belongs to one side as well as the other, there is always a way left to bring avarice and insolence to reason.
But the ground of security which lord Sheffield has chosen to erect his policy upon, is of a nature which ought, and I think must, awaken in every American a just and strong sense of national dignity. Lord Sheffield appears to be sensible, that in advising the British nation and parliament to engross to themselves so great a part of the carrying trade of America, he is attempting a measure which cannot succeed, if the politics of the United States be properly directed to counteract the assumption.
But, says he, in his pamphlet, “It will be a long time before the American states can be brought to act as a nation, neither are they to be feared as such by us.”
What is this more or less than to tell us, that while we have no national system of commerce, the British will govern our trade by their own laws and proclamations as they please. The quotation discloses a truth too serious to be overlooked, and too mischievous not to be remedied.
Among other circumstances which led them to this discovery none could operate so effectually as the injudicious, uncandid and indecent opposition made by sundry persons in a certain state, to the recommendations of congress last winter, for an import duty of five per cent. It could not but explain to the British a weakness in the national power of America, and encourage them to attempt restrictions on her trade, which otherwise they would not have dared to hazard. Neither is there any state in the union, whose policy was more misdirected to its interest than the state I allude to, because her principal support is the carrying trade, which Britain, induced by the want of a well-centred power in the United States to protect and secure, is now attempting to take away. It fortunately happened (and to no state in the union more than the state in question) that the terms of peace were agreed on before the opposition appeared, otherwise, there cannot be a doubt, that if the same idea of the diminished authority of America had occurred to them at that time as has occurred to them since, but they would have made the same grasp at the fisheries, as they have done at the carrying trade.
It is surprising that an authority which can be supported with so much ease, and so little expense, and capable of such extensive advantages to the country, should be cavilled at by those whose duty it is to watch over it, and whose existence as a people depends upon it. But this, perhaps, will ever be the case, till some misfortune awakens us into reason, and the instance now before us is but a gentle beginning of what America must expect, unless she guards her union with nicer care and stricter honor. United, she is formidable, and that with the least possible charge a nation can be so; separated, she is a medley of individual nothings, subject to the sport of foreign nations.
It is very probable that the ingenuity of commerce may have found out a method to evade and supersede the intentions of the British, in interdicting the trade with the West India islands. The language of both being the same, and their customs well understood, the vessels of one country may, by deception, pass for those of another. But this would be a practice too debasing for a sovereign people to stoop to, and too profligate not to be discountenanced. An illicit trade, under any shape it can be placed, cannot be carried on without a violation of truth. America is now sovereign and independent, and ought to conduct her affairs in a regular style of character. She has the same right to say that no British vessel shall enter ports, or that no British manufactures shall be imported, but in American bottoms, the property of, and navigated by American subjects, as Britain has to say the same thing respecting the West Indies. Or she may lay a duty of ten, fifteen, or twenty shillings per ton (exclusive of other duties) on every British vessel coming from any port of the West Indies, where she is not admitted to trade, the said tonnage to continue as long on her side as the prohibition continues on the other.
But it is only by acting in union, that the usurpations of foreign nations on the freedom of trade can be counteracted, and security extended to the commerce of America. And when we view a flag, which to the eye is beautiful, and to contemplate its rise and origin inspires a sensation of sublime delight, our national honour must unite with our interest to prevent injury to the one, or insult to the other.
NEW-YORK, December 9, 1783.
RETREAT ACROSS THE DELAWARE.
Fort Washington being obliged to surrender, by a violent attack made by the whole British army, on Saturday the 16th of November, the Generals determined to evacuate Fort Lee, which being principally intended to preserve the communication with Fort Washington, was become in a manner useless. The stores were ordered to be removed and great part of them was immediately sent off. The enemy knowing the divided state of our army, and that the terms of the soldiers inlistments would soon expire, conceived the design of penetrating into the Jersies, and hoped, by pushing their successes, to be completely victorious. Accordingly, on Wednesday morning, the 20th November, it was discovered that a large body of British and Hessian troops had crossed the North river, and landed about six miles above the fort. As our force was inferior to that of the enemy, the fort unfinished, and on a narrow neck of land, the garrison was ordered to march for Hackensack bridge, which, tho’ much nearer the enemy than the fort, they quietly suffered our troops to take possession of. The principal loss suffered at Fort Lee was that of the heavy cannon, the greatest part of which was left behind. Our troops continued at Hackensack bridge and town that day and half of the next, when the inclemency of the weather, the want of quarters, and approach of the enemy, obliged them to proceed to Aquaconack, and from thence to Newark; a party being left at Aquaconack to observe the motions of the enemy. At Newark our little army was reinforced by Lord Sterling’s and Col. Hand’s brigades, which had been stationed at Brunswick. Three days after our troops left Hackensack, a body of the enemy crossed the Passaic above Aquaconack, made their approaches slowly towards Newark, and seemed extremely desirous that we should leave the town without their being put to the trouble of fighting for it. The distance from Newark to Aquaconack is nine miles, and they were three days in marching that distance. From Newark our retreat was to Brunswick, and it was hoped the assistance of the Jersey Militia would enable General Washington to make the Banks of the Raritan the bounds of the enemy’s progress; but on the 1st of December the army was greatly weakened, by the expiration of the terms of the enlistments of the Maryland and Jersey Flying Camp; and the militia not coming in so soon as was expected, another retreat was the necessary consequence. Our army reached Trenton on the 4th of December, continued there till the 7th, and then, on the approach of the enemy, it was thought proper to pass the Delaware.
This retreat was censured by some as pusillanimous and disgraceful; but, did they know that our army was at one time less than a thousand effective men, and never more than 4000,—that the number of the enemy was at least 8000, exclusive of their artillery and light horse,—that this handful of Americans retreated slowly above 80 miles without losing a dozen men—and that suffering themselves to be forced to an action, would have been their entire destruction—did they know this, they would never have censured it at all—they would have called it prudent—posterity will call it glorious—and the names of Washington and Fabius will run parallel to eternity.
The enemy, intoxicated with success, resolved to enjoy the fruits of their conquest. Fearless of an attack from this side the river, they cantoned in parties at a distance from each other, and spread misery and desolation wherever they went. Their rage and lust, their avarice and cruelty, knew no bounds; and murder, ravishment, plunder, and the most brutal treatment of every sex and age, were the first acts that signalized their conquest. And if such were their outrages on the partial subjection of a few villages—good God! what consummate wretchedness is in store for that state over which their power shall be fully established.
While the enemy were in this situation, their security was increased by the captivity of General Lee, who was unfortunately taken in the rear of his army, December 13th, at Baskinridge by a party of light-horse, commanded by Col. Harcourt. The fortune of our arms was now at its lowest ebb—but the tide was beginning to turn—the militia of this city [Philadelphia] had joined General Washington—the junction of the two armies was soon after effected—and the back countries of this state, aroused by the distresses of America, poured out their yeomanry to the assistance of the continental army. General Washington began now to have a respectable force, and resolved not to be idle. On the 26th of December he crossed the Delaware, surprised three regiments of Hessians, and with little or no loss, took near a thousand prisoners.
Soon after this manœuvre, and while the enemy were collecting their scattered troops at Princeton and Brunswick, Gen. Washington crossed the Delaware with all his army. On the 2d of January the enemy began to advance towards Trenton, which they entered in the afternoon, and there being nothing but a small creek between the two armies, a general engagement was expected next day. This it was manifestly our advantage to avoid; and by a master stroke of generalship, Gen. Washington frees himself from his disagreeable situation, and surprises a party of the enemy in Princeton, which obliges their main body to return to Brunswick.
LETTER TO FRANKLIN, IN PARIS.
May 16, 1778.
Your favour of October 7th did not come to me till March. I was at Camp when Capt. Folger arrived with the Blank Packet. The private letters were, I believe, all safe. Mr. [President] Laurens forwarded yours to York Town where I afterwards received it.
The last winter has been rather barren of military events, but for your amusement I send you a little history how I have passed away part of the time.
The 11th of September last I was preparing Dispatches for you when the report of cannon at Brandywine interrupted my proceeding. The event of that day you have doubtless been informed of, which, excepting the Enemy keeping the ground, may be deemed a drawn battle. Genl. Washington collected his Army at Chester, and the Enemy’s not moving towards him next day must be attributed to the disability they sustained and the burthen of their wounded. On the 16th of the same month the two armies were drawn up in order of battle near White Horse on the Lancaster road, when a most violent and incessant storm of rain prevented an action. Our Army sustained a heavy loss in their Ammunition, the Cartouche Boxes, especially as they were not of the most seasoned leather, being no proof against the almost incredible fury of the weather, which obliged Genl. Washington to draw his army up into the country until those injuries could be repaired, and a new supply of ammunition procured. The enemy in the mean time kept on the west side of Schuylkill. On Friday the 19th about one in the morning the first alarm of their crossing was given, and the confusion, as you may suppose, was very great. It was a beautiful still moonlight morning and the streets as full of men, women and children as on a market day. On the evening before I was fully persuaded that unless something was done the City [Philadelphia] would be lost; and under that anxiety I went to Col. Bayard, Speaker of the House of Assembly, and represented, as I very particularly knew it, the situation we were in, and the probability of saving the City if proper efforts were made for that purpose. I reasoned thus—Genl. Washington was about 30 Miles up the Schuylkill with an Army properly collected waiting for Ammunition, besides which a reinforcement of 1500 men were marching from the North River to join him; and if only an appearance of defence be made in the City by throwing up works at the heads of the streets, it would make the Enemy very suspicious how they threw themselves between the City and Genl. Washington, and between two Rivers, which must have been the case; for notwithstanding the knowledge which military gentlemen are supposed to have, I observe they move exceedingly cautiously on new ground, are exceedingly suspicious of Villages and Towns, and more perplexed at seemingly little things which they cannot clearly understand than at great ones which they are fully acquainted with. And I think it very probable that Genl. Howe would have mistaken our necessity for a deep laid scheme and not have ventured himself in the middle of it. But admitting that he had, he must either have brought his whole Army down, or a part of it. If the whole, Gen. Washington would have followed him, perhaps the same day, in two or three days at most, and our assistance in the City would have been material. If only a part of it, we should have been a match for them and Gen. Washington superior to those which remained above. The chief thing was, whether the citizens would turn out to defend the City. My proposal to Cols. Bayard and Bradford was to call them together the next morning, make them fully acquainted with the situation and the means and prospect of preserving themselves, and that the City had better voluntarily assess itself $50,000 for its defence than suffer an Enemy to come into it. Cols. Bayard and Bradford were in my opinion, and as Genl. Mifflin was then in town, I next went to him, acquainted him with our design, and mentioned likewise that if two or three thousand men could be mustered up whether we might depend on him to command them, for without some one to lead, nothing could be done. He declined that part, not being then very well, but promised what assistance he could. A few hours after this the alarm happened. I went directly to Genl. Mifflin but he had sett off, and nothing was done. I cannot help being of opinion that the City might have been saved, but perhaps it is better otherwise.
I staid in the City till Sunday [September 21,] having sent my Chest and everything belonging to the Foreign Committee to Trenton in a Shallop. The Enemy did not cross the river till the Wednesday following. Hearing on the Sunday that Genl. Washington had moved to Sunderford I set off for that place, but learning on the road that it was a mistake and that he was six or seven miles above that place, I crossed over to Southfield, and the next morning to Trenton, to see after my Chest. On the Wednesday morning I intended returning to Philadelphia, but was informed at Bristol of the Enemy’s crossing the Schuylkill. At this place I met Col. Kirkbride of Pennsburg Manor, who invited me home with him. On Friday the 26th a Party of the Enemy about 1500 took possession of the City, and the same day an account arrived that Col. Brown had taken 300 of the Enemy at the old french lines at Ticonderoga, and destroyed all their Water Craft, being about 200 boats of different kinds.
On the 29th September I sett off for Camp without well knowing where to find it, every day occasioning some movement. I kept pretty high up the country, and being unwilling to ask questions, not knowing what company I might be in, I was there three days before I fell in with it. The Army had moved about three miles lower down that morning. The next day they made a movement about the same distance, to the 21 Mile Stone on the Skippach Road,—Headquarters at John Wince’s. On the 3d October in the morning they began to fortify the Camp, as a deception; and about 9 at night marched for German Town. The number of Continental Troops was between 8 and 9000, besides Militia, the rest remaining as Guards for the security of Camp. Genl. Greene, whose Quarters I was at, desired me to remain there till morning. The Skirmishing with the Pickets began soon after. I met no person for several miles riding, which I concluded to be a good sign; after this I met a man on horseback who told me he was going to hasten on a supply of ammunition, that the Enemy were broken and retreating fast, which was true. I saw several country people with arms in their hands running cross a field towards German Town, within about five or six miles, at which I met several of the wounded on waggons, horseback, and on foot. I passed Genl. Nash on a litter made of poles, but did not know him. I felt unwilling to ask questions lest the information should not be agreeable, and kept on. About two miles after this I passed a promiscuous crowd of wounded and otherwise who were halted at a house to refresh. Col. Biddle D. Q. M. G. was among them, who called after me, that if I went farther on that road I should be taken, for that the firing which I heard was the Enemy’s. I never could, and cannot now learn, and I believe no man can inform truly the cause of that day’s miscarriage.
The retreat was as extraordinary. Nobody hurried themselves. Every one marched his own pace. The Enemy kept a civil distance behind, sending every now and then a shot after us, and receiving the same from us. That part of the Army which I was with collected and formed on the Hill on the side of the road near White Marsh Church; the enemy came within three quarters of a mile and halted. The orders on Retreat were to assemble that night on the back of Perkioming Creek, about 7 miles above the Camp, which had orders to move. The Army had marched the preceding night 14 miles, and having full 20 to march back were exceedingly fatigued. They appeared to me to be only sensible of a disappointment, not a defeat, and to be more displeased at their retreating from German Town, than anxious to get to their rendezvous. I was so lucky that night to get a little house about 4 miles wide of Perkioming, towards which place in the morning I heard a considerable firing, which distressed me exceedingly, knowing that our army was much harassed and not collected. However, I soon relieved myself by going to see. They were discharging their pieces, which, though necessary, prevented several Parties going till next day. I breakfasted next morning at Genl. Washington’s Quarters, who was at the same loss with every other to account for the accidents of the day. I remember his expressing his Surprise, by saying, that at the time he supposed every thing secure, and was about giving orders for the Army to proceed down to Philadelphia; that he most unexpectedly saw a Part (I think of the Artillery) hastily retreating. This partial Retreat was, I believe, misunderstood, and soon followed by others. The fog was frequently very thick, the Troops young and unused to breaking and rallying, and our men rendered suspicious to each other, many of them being in Red. A new Army once disordered is difficult to manage, the attempt dangerous. To this may be added a prudence in not putting matters to too hazardous a tryal the first time. Men must be taught regular fighting by practice and degrees, and tho’ the expedition failed, it had this good effect—that they seemed to feel themselves more important after it than before, as it was the first general attack they had ever made.
I have not related the affair at Mr. Chew’s house German Town, as I was not there, but have seen it since. It certainly afforded the Enemy time to rally—yet the matter was difficult. To have pressed on and left 500 Men in ye rear, might by a change of circumstances been ruinous. To attack them was a loss of time, as the house is a strong stone building, proof against any 12 pounder. Genl. Washington sent a flag, thinking it would procure their surrender and expedite his march to Philadelphia; it was refused, and circumstances changed almost directly after.
I staid in Camp two days after the Germantown action, and lest any ill impression should get among the Garrisons at Mud Island and Red Bank, and the Vessels and Gallies stationed there, I crossed over to the Jersies at Trenton and went down to those places. I laid the first night on board the Champion Continental Galley, who was stationed off the mouth of the Schuylkill. The Enemy threw up a two Gun Battery on the point of the river’s mouth opposite the Pest House. The next morning was a thick fog, and as soon as it cleared away, and we became visible to each other, they opened on the Galley, who returned the fire. The Commodore made a signal to bring the Galley under the Jersey shore, as she was not a match for the Battery, nor the Battery a sufficient Object for the Galley. One shot went thro’ the fore sail, which was all. At noon I went with Col. [Christopher] Greene, who commanded at Red Bank [fort,] over to fort Mifflin (Mud Island.) The Enemy opened that day 2 two-gun Batteries, and a Mortar Battery, on the fort. They threw about 30 shells into it that afternoon, without doing any damage; the ground being damp and spongy, not above five or six burst; not a man was killed or wounded. I came away in the evening, laid on board the Galley, and the next day came to Col. Kirkbride’s [Bordentown, N. J.]; staid a few days and came again into Camp. An Expedition was on foot the evening I got there in which I went as Aid de Camp to Genl. [Nathaniel] Greene, having a Volunteer Commission for that purpose. The occasion was—a Party of the Enemy, about 1500, lay over the Schuylkill at Grey’s ferry. Genl. McDougall with his Division was sent to attack them; and Sullivan and Greene with their Divisions were to favour the enterprise by a feint on the City, down the Germantown road. They set off about nine at night, and halted at daybreak, between German Town and the City, the advanced Party at three Miles Run. As I knew the ground I went with two light horse to discover the Enemy’s Picket, but the dress of the light horse being white made them, I thought, too visible, as it was then twilight; on which I left them with my horse, and went on foot, till I distinctly saw the Picket at Mr. Dickerson’s place—which is the nearest I have been to Philadelphia since September, except once at Cooper’s ferry, as I went to the forts. Genl. Sullivan was at Dr. Redman’s house, and McDougall’s beginning the attack was to be the Signal for moving down to the City. But the Enemy either on the approach of McDougall, or on information of it, called in their Party, and the Expedition was frustrated.
A Cannonade, by far the most furious I ever heard, began down the river, soon after daylight, the first Gun of which we supposed to be the Signal; but was soon undeceived, there being no small Arms. After waiting two hours beyond the time, we marched back; the cannon was then less frequent, but on the road between Germantown and White Marsh we were stuned with a report as loud as a peal from a hundred Cannon at once; and turning around I saw a thick smoke rising like a pillar, and spreading from the top like a tree. This was the blowing up of the Augusta. I did not hear the explosion of the Berlin.
After this I returned to Col. Kirkbride’s, where I staid about a fortnight, and set off again to Camp. The day after I got there Genls. Greene, Wayne, and Cadwallader, with a Party of light horse, were ordered on a reconnoitering Party towards the forts. We were out four days and nights without meeting with anything material. An East Indiaman, whom the Enemy had cut down so as to draw but little water, came up, without guns, while we were on foot on Carpenter’s Island, going to Province Island. Her Guns were brought up in the evening in a flat, she got in the rear of the Fort, where few or no Guns could bear upon her, and the next morning played on it incessantly. The night following the fort was evacuated. The obstruction the Enemy met with from those forts, and the Chevaux de frise, was extraordinary, and had it not been that the Western Channel, deepened by the current, being somewhat obstructed by the Chevaux de frise in the main river, which enabled them to bring up the light Indiaman Battery, it is a doubt whether they would have succeeded at last. By that assistance they reduced the fort, and got sufficient command of the river to move some of the late sunk Chevaux de frise. Soon after this the fort on Red Bank (which had bravely repulsed the Enemy a little time before) was evacuated, the Gallies ordered up to Bristol, and the Captains of such other armed Vessels as thought they could not pass on the Eastward side of Wind Mill Island, very precipitately set them on fire. As I judged from this event that the Enemy would winter in Philadelphia, I began to think of preparing for York Town, which however I was willing to delay, hoping that the ice would afford opportunity for new Manœuvres. But the season passed very barrenly away. I staid at Col. Kirkbride’s till the latter end of January. Commodore Haslewood, who commanded the remainder of the fleet at Trenton, acquainted me with a scheme of his for burning the Enemy’s Shipping, which was by sending a charged boat across the river from Cooper’s ferry, by means of a Rocket fixed in its stern. Considering the width of the river, the tide, and the variety of accidents that might change its direction, I thought the project trifling and insufficient; and proposed to him, that if he would get a boat properly charged, and take a Batteau in tow, sufficient to bring three or four persons off, that I would make one with him and two other persons that might be relied on to go down on that business. One of the Company, Capn. Blewer of Philadelphia, seconded the proposal, but the Commodore, and, what I was more surprized at, Col. Bradford, declined it. The burning of part of the Delaware fleet, the precipitate retreat of the rest, the little service rendered by them and the great expence they were at, make the only national blot in the proceedings of the last Campaign. I felt a strong anxiety for them to recover their credit, which, among others, was one motive for my proposal. After this I came to Camp, and from thence to York Town, and published the Crisis No. 5, to Genl. Howe. I have begun No. 6, which I intend to address to Lord North.
I was not at Camp when Genl. Howe marched out on the 20th of December towards White Marsh. It was a most contemptible affair, the threatenings and seeming fury he sate out with, and haste and terror the Army retreated with, make it laughable. I have seen several persons from Philadelphia who assure me that their coming back was a mere uproar, and plainly indicated their apprehensions of a pursuit. Genl. Howe, in his Letter to Lord Go. Germain, dated December 13th, represented Genl. Washington’s Camp as a strongly fortified place. There was not, Sir, a work thrown up in it till Genl. Howe marched out, and then only here and there a breastwork. It was a temporary Station. Besides which, our men begin to think Works in the field of little use.
Genl. Washington keeps his Station at the Valley forge. I was there when the Army first began to build huts; they appeared to me like a family of Beavers: every one busy; some carrying Logs, others Mud, and the rest fastening them together. The whole was raised in a few days, and is a curious collection of buildings in the true rustic order.
As to Politics, I think we are now safely landed. The apprehension which Britain must be under from her neighbours must effectually prevent her sending reinforcements, could she procure them. She dare not, I think, in the present situation of affairs, trust her troops so far from home.
No Commissioners are yet arrived. I think fighting is nearly over, for Britain, mad, wicked, and foolish, has done her utmost. The only part for her now to act is frugality, and the only way for her to get out of debt is to lessen her Government expenses. Two Millions a year is a sufficient allowance, and as much as she ought to expend exclusive of the interest of her Debt. The affairs of England are approaching either to ruin or redemption. If the latter she may bless the resistance of America.
For my own part, I thought it very hard to have the Country set on fire about my Ears almost the moment I got into it; and among other pleasures I feel in having uniformly done my duty, I feel that of not having discredited your friendship and patronage.
I live in hopes of seeing and advising with you respecting the History of the American Revolution, as soon as a turn of Affairs make it safe to take a passage for Europe. Please to accept my thanks for the Pamphlets, which Mr. Temple Franklin tells me he has sent. They are not yet come to hand. Mr. and Mrs. Bache are at Mainheim, near Lancaster; I heard they were well a few days ago. I laid two nights at Mr. Duffield’s, in the winter. Miss Nancy Clifton was there, who said the Enemy had destroyed or sold a great part of your furniture. Mr. Duffield has since been taken by them and carried into the City, but is now at his own house. I just hear they have burnt Col. Kirkbride’s, Mr. Borden’s, and some other houses at Borden Town. Governor Johnstone (House of Commons) has written to Mr. Robert Morris informing him of Commissioners coming from England. The letter is printed in the Newspapers without signature, and is dated February 5th, by which you will know it.
Please, Sir, to accept this, rough and incorrect as it is, as I have [not] time to copy it fair, which was my design when I began it; besides which, paper is most exceedingly scarce.
I am, Dear Sir, your obliged and affectionate humble Servt.,
THE AFFAIR OF SILAS DEANE.
TO SILAS DEANE, ESQ’RE.
After reading a few lines of your address to the Public in the Pennsylvania Packet of December 6th, I can truly say, that concern got the better of curiosity, and I felt an unwillingness to go through it. Mr. Deane must very well know that I have no interest in, so likewise am I no stranger to, his negotiations and contracts in France, his difference with his colleagues, the reason of his return to America, and the matters which have occurred since. All these are to me familiar things; and while I can but be surprized at the conduct of Mr. Deane, I lament the unnecessary torture he has imprudently occasioned. That disagreements will arise between individuals, even to the perplexity of a State, is nothing new, but that they should be outrageously brought forward, by one whose station abroad should have taught him a delicacy of manners and even an excess of prudence, is something strange. The mind of a living public is quickly alarmed and easily tormented. It not only suffers by the stroke, but is frequently fretted by the cure, and ought therefore to be tenderly dealt with, and never ought to be trifled with. It feels first and reasons afterwards. Its jealousy keeps vibrating between the accused and the accuser, and on a failure of proof always fixes on the latter. Had Mr. Deane’s address produced no uneasiness in the body he appeals to, it would have been a sign, not of tranquility, but death: and though it is painful to see it unnecessarily tortured, it is pleasant to contemplate the living cause. Mr. Deane is particularly circumstanced. He has advantages which seldom happen, and when they do happen, ought to be used with the nicest care and strictest honor. He has the opportunity of telling his own tale and there is none to reply to him. Two of the gentlemen he so freely censures are three thousand miles off, and the other two he so freely affronts are Members of Congress; one of them likewise, Col. R. H. Lee, is absent in Virginia; and however painful may be their feelings, they must attend the progressive conduct of the house. No Member in Congress can individually take up the matter without becoming inconsistent, and none of the public understands it sufficiently. With these advantages Mr. Deane ought to be nicely and strictly the gentleman, in his language, his assertions, his insinuations and his facts. He presents himself, as his own evidence, upon his honor, and any misrepresentation or disingenuous trifling in him will be fatal.
Mr. Deane begins his address with a general display of his services in France, and strong insinuations against the Hon. Arthur and William Lee, he brings his complaints down to the time of signing the treaty, and from thence to the fourth of March, when he received the following Order of Congress which he inserts at large:
“In Congress, December 8, 1777. Whereas it is of the greatest importance that Congress should at this critical juncture be well informed of the state of affairs in Europe. And whereas Congress have resolved that the Honorable 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 correspondence, write to the Honorable Silas Deane, and direct him to embrace the first opportunity of returning to America, and upon his arrival to repair with all possible dispatch to Congress.” Mr. Deane then says “and having placed my papers and yours in safety, I left Paris the 30th to embark for my native country, on board that fleet which your great and generous ally sent out for your assistance, in full confidence that I should not be detained on the business I was sent for.“
I am obliged to tell Mr. Deane that this arrangement is somewhat uncandid, for on the reading it, it creates an opinion and likewise carries an appearance that Mr. Deane was only sent for, as the necessary and proper person from whom Congress might obtain a history of their affairs, and learn the character of their foreign Agents, Commissioners and Ambassadors, after which Mr. Deane was to return. Is Mr. Deane so little master of address as not to know that censure may be politely conveyed by an apology? For however Mr. Deane may chuse to represent or misrepresent the matter, the truth is that his contracts and engagements in France, had so involved and embarrassed Congress, that they found it necessary and resolved to recall him, that is ordered him home, to give an account of his own conduct, and likewise to save him from a train of disagreeable consequences, which must have arisen to him had he continued in France. I would not be supposed to insinuate, that he might be thought unsafe, but unfit. There is a certain and necessary association of dignity between the person and the employment which perhaps did not appear when Mr. Deane was considered the Ambassador. His address to the public confirms the justness of this remark. The spirit and language of it differ exceedingly from that cool penetrating judgment and refinement of manners and expression which fits, and is absolutely necessary in, the Plenipotentiary. His censures are coarse and vehement, and when he speaks of himself, he begs, nay almost weeps to be believed.—It was the intricacy of Mr. Deane’s own official affairs, his multiplied contracts in France before the arrival of Dr. Franklin or any of the other Commissioners; his assuming authorities, and entering into engagements, in the time of his Commercial Agency, for which he had neither commission nor instruction, and the general unsettled state of his accounts, that were among the reasons that produced the motion for recalling and superseding him.—Why then does Mr. Deane endeavour to lead the attention of the public to a wrong object, and bury the real reasons, under a tumult of new and perhaps unnecessary suspicions?
Mr. Deane in the beginning of his address to the public says, “What I write to you, I would have said to your Representatives, their ears have been shut against me, by an attention to matters, which my respect for them induces me to believe were of ‘more importance.’“
In this paragraph Mr. Deane’s excuse becomes his accuser, and his justification is his offence; for if the greater importance of other matters is supposed and given by himself as a reason, why he was not heard, it is likewise a sufficient reason, why he ought not to have complained that “their ears were shut, “and a good reason why he ought to have waited a more convenient time. But besides the inconsistency of this charge, there is something in it that will suffer by an inquiry, and I am sorry that Mr. Deane’s imprudence has obliged me to mention a circumstance which affects his honour as a gentleman, his reputation as a man. In order to be clearly understood on this head, I am obliged to go back with Mr. Deane to the time of his quitting France on account of his being recalled. “I left Paris,” says Mr. Deane, “on the 30th of March, 1778 to embark for my native country, having placed ‘my papers and yours in safety.’ “Would any body have supposed that a gentleman in the character of a Commercial Agent, and afterwards in that of a public Minister, would return home after seeing himself both recalled and superseded, and not bring with him his papers and vouchers? And why he has done so must appear to every one exceedingly unaccountable. After Mr. Deane’s arrival he had two audiences with Congress in August last, in neither of which did he offer the least charge against the gentleman he has so loudly upbraided in his address to the public: neither has he yet accounted for his expenditure of public money, which, as it might have been done by a written state of accounts, might for that reason have been done at any time, and was a part of the business which required an audience.
There is something curiously intricate and evasive in Mr. Deane’s saying in his address, that he left France “in full confidence that he should not be detained on the business he was sent for. “And the only end it can answer to him is to furnish out a present excuse for not producing his papers. Mr. Deane had no right, either from the literal or implied sense of the resolution itself, to suppose that he should return to France in his former public character, or that he was “sent for, “as he stiles it, on any other personal business than that which related to himself. Mr. Deane must be sensible, if he will but candidly reflect, that as an agent only, he greatly exceeded his line, and embarrassed the Congress, the continent, the army and himself.
Mr. Deane’s address to the public is dated “Nov.”—but without any day of the month; and here a new scene of ungenteel evasion opens. On the last day of that month, viz. the 30th, he addressed a letter to Congress signifying his intentions of returning to France, and pressing to have his affairs brought to some conclusion, which, I presume, on account of the absence of his papers could not well be done; therefore Mr. Deane’s address to the public must be written before the 30th, and consequently before his letter to Congress, which carries an appearance of its being only a feint in order to make a confused diversion in his favor at the time his affairs should come under consideration.
What favours this opinion, is that on the next day, that is December 1st, and partly in consequence of Mr. Deane’s letter to them of the 30th, the Congress entered the following resolution.
“In Congress December 1st, 1778.—Resolved, That after tomorrow Congress will meet two hours at least each evening, beginning at six o’clock, Saturday evening excepted, until the present state of their foreign affairs be fully considered.”
As an enquiry into the state of foreign affairs naturally and effectually included all and every part of Mr. Deane’s, he was thereupon regularly notified by letter to attend; and on the fourth he wrote again to Congress, acquainting them with his having received that notification and expressed his thanks; yet on the day following, viz. the fifth he published his extraordinary address in the newspapers, which, on account of its unsupported matter, the fury of its language and temper, and its inconsistency with other parts of his conduct, is incompatible with that character (which on account of the station he had been honoured with, and the sense that should have impressed him in consequence thereof) he ought to have maintained.
On the appearance of Mr. Deane’s address of the fifth, the public became jealously uneasy, and well they might. They were unacquainted with the train of circumstances that preceded and attended it, and were naturally led to suppose, that Mr. Deane, on account of the station he had filled, must be too much a gentleman to deceive them. It was Mr. Deane’s particular fortune to grow into consequence from accident. Sent to France as a Commercial Agent under the appointment of a Committee, he rose as a matter of convenience to the station of a Commissioner of Congress; and with what dignity he might fill out that character, the public will judge from his conduct since; and perhaps be led to substitute convenience as an excuse for the appointment.
A delicacy of difficulties likewise arose in Congress on the appearance of the said address; for setting aside the matter, the irregular manner of it, as a proceeding, was a breach of decency; and as Mr. Deane after being notified to attend an enquiry into foreign affairs, had circumstantially withdrawn from that mode, by appealing to the public, and at the same time said “their ears were shut against him, “it was therefore given as a reason by some, that to take any notice of Mr. Deane in the interim would look like suppressing his public information, if he had any to give; and consequently would imply dishonour on the House,—and that as he had transferred his case to the public, before it had been rejected by the Congress, he ought therefore to be left with the public, till he had done with them and they with him; and that whether his information was true or not, it was an insult on the people, because it was making them the ladder, on which he insulted their representatives, by an unjust complaint of neglect. Others who might anticipate the anxiety of the public, and apprehend discontents would arise from a supposed inattention, were for adopting measures to prevent them, and of consequence inclined to a different line of conduct, and this division of sentiment on what might be supposed the honour of the House, occasioned the then President, Henry Laurens, Esq., who adhered to the former opinion, to resign the chair. The majority on the sentiments was a single vote. In this place I take the liberty of remarking, for the benefit of succeeding generations, that the Honourable President before mentioned, having filled that station for one year in October last, made his resignation of the Presidency at the expiration of the year, lest any example taken from his continuance might have become inconvenient. I have an additional satisfaction in mentioning this useful historical anecdote, because it is done wholly unknown to the gentleman to whom it relates, or to any other gentleman in or out of Congress. He was replaced by a unanimous vote. But to return to my narration—
In the Pennsylvania Packet of December 8th, Francis Lightfoot Lee, Esq., brother to the gentleman so rudely treated in Mr. Deane’s publication, and the only one now present, put in a short address to the public, requesting a suspension of their judgment till the matter could be fully investigated by those whose immediate business it became: meaning Congress. And Mr. Deane in the paper of the 10th published another note, in which he informs, “that the Honorable Congress did, on Saturday morning the 5th instant, assign Monday evening to hear him.” But why does Mr. Deane conceal the resolution of Congress of December 1st, in consequence of which he was notified to attend regularly an enquiry into the state of foreign affairs? By so doing, he endeavours to lead the public into a belief that his being heard on Monday was extorted purely in consequence of his address of the 5th, and that otherwise he should not have been heard at all. I presume Congress are anxious to hear him, and to have his accounts arranged and settled; and if this should be the case, why did Mr. Deane leave his papers in France, and now complain that his affairs are not concluded? In the same note Mr. Deane likewise says, “that Congress did on that evening, Monday, resolve, that Mr. Deane do report in writing, as soon as may be, his agency of their affairs in Europe, together with any intelligence respecting their foreign affairs which he may judge proper.” But why does Mr. Deane omit giving the remaining part of the resolution, which says, “That Mr. Deane be informed, that if he has any thing to communicate to Congress in the interim of immediate importance, that he should be heard tomorrow evening.” I can see no propriety, in omitting this part, unless Mr. Deane concluded that by publishing it he might put a quick expiration to his credit, by his not being able to give the wondrous information he had threatened in his address. In the conclusion of this note, Mr. Deane likewise says, “I therefore conceive that I cannot, with propriety, continue my narrative at present. In the mean time I submit it to the good sense of the public, whether I ought to take any notice of a publication signed Francis Lightfoot Lee, opposed to stubborn and undeniable facts.“
Thus far I have compared Mr. Deane with himself, and whether he has been candid or uncandid, consistent or inconsistent, I leave to the judgment of those who read it. Mr. Deane cannot have the least right to think that I am moved by any party difference or personal antipathy. He is a gentleman with whom I never had a syllable of dispute, nor with any other person upon his account. Who are his friends, his connections, or his foes, is wholly indifferent to me, and what I have written will be a secret to everybody till it comes from the press. The convulsion which the public were thrown into by his address will, I hope, justify my taking up a matter in which I should otherwise have been perfectly silent; and whatever may be its fate, my intention is a good one; besides which there was no other person who knew the affair sufficiently, or knowing it, could confidently do it, and yet it was necessary to be done.
I shall now take a short review of what Mr. Deane calls “stubborn and undeniable facts. “Mr. Deane must be exceedingly unconversant both with terms and ideas, not to distinguish even between a wandering probability and a fact; and between a forced inclination and a proof; for admitting every circumstance of information in Mr. Deane’s address to be true, they are still but circumstances, and his deductions from them are hypothetical and inconclusive.
Mr. Deane has involved a gentleman in his unlimited censure, whose fidelity and personal qualities I have been well acquainted with for three years past; and in respect to an absent injured friend, Col. Richard Henry Lee, I will venture to tell Mr. Deane, that in any stile of character in which a gentleman may be spoken of, Mr. Deane would suffer by a comparison. He has one defect which perhaps Mr. Deane is acquainted with, the misfortune of having but one hand.
The charges likewise which he advances against the Honorable Arthur and William Lee, are to me, circumstantial evidences of Mr. Deane’s unfitness for a public character; for it is the business of a foreign minister to learn other men’s secrets and keep their own. Mr. Deane has given a short history of Mr. Arthur Lee and Dr. Berkenhout in France, and he has brought the last mentioned person again on the stage in America. There is something in this so exceedingly weak, that I am surprised that any one who would be thought a man of sense, should risk his reputation upon such a frivolous tale; for the event of the story, if any can be produced from it, is greatly against himself.
He says that a correspondence took place in France between Dr. Berkenhout and Mr. [Arthur] Lee; that Mr. Lee shewed part of the correspondence to Dr. Franklin and himself; and that in order to give the greater weight to Dr. Berkenhout’s remarks he gave them to understand, that Dr. Berkenhout was in the secrets of the British Ministry. What Mr. Deane has related this for, or what he means to infer from it, I cannot understand; for the political inference ought to be, that if Mr. Lee really thought that Dr. Berkenhout was in the secrets of the British Ministry, he was therefore the very person with whom Mr. Lee ought, as an Ambassador, to cultivate a correspondence, and introduce to his colleagues, in order to discover what those secrets were, that they might be transmitted to America; and if Mr. Deane acted otherwise, he unwisely mistook his own character. However, this I can assure Mr. Deane, upon my own knowledge, that more and better information has come from Mr. Lee than ever came from himself; and how or where he got it, is not a subject fit for public enquiry: unless Mr. Deane means to put a stop to all future informations. I can likewise tell Mr. Deane, that Mr. Lee was particularly commissioned by a certain body, and that under every sacred promise of inviolable secrecy, to make discoveries in England, and transmit them. Surely Mr. Deane must have left his discretion with his papers, or he would see the imprudence of his present conduct.
In the course of Mr. Deane’s narrative he mentions Dr. Berkenhout again. “In September last, “says he,” I was informed that Dr. Berkenhout, who I have before mentioned, was in gaol in this city. I confess I was surprised, considering what I have already related, that this man should have the audacity to appear in the capital of America.” But why did not Mr. Deane confront Dr. Berkenhout while he was here? Why did he not give information to Congress or to the Council before whom he was examined, and by whom he was discharged and sent back for want of evidence against him? Mr. Deane was the only person that knew anything of him, and it looks very unfavorable in him that he was silent when he should have spoke, if he had anything to say, and now he has gone has a great deal to tell, and that about nothing. “I immediately, “says Mr. Deane,” sate myself about the measures which I conceived necessary to investigate his plans and designs. “This is indeed a trifling excuse, for it wanted no great deal of setting about, the whole secret as well as the means being with himself, and half an hour’s information might have been sufficient. What Mr. Deane means by “investigating his plans and designs, “I cannot understand, unless he intended to have the Doctor’s nativity cast by a conjurer. Yet this trifling round-about story is one of Mr. Deane’s “stubborn and undeniable facts.” However it is thus far a fact, that Mr. Deane kept it a secret till the man was gone.
He likewise entertains us with a history of what passed at New York between Dr. Berkenhout and Governor Johnstone; but as he must naturally think that his readers must wonder how he came by such knowledge, he prudently supplies the defect by saying “that Providence in whom we put our trust, ‘unfolded it to me’”—revealed it, I suppose. As to what Dr. Berkenhout was, or what he came for, is a matter of very little consequence to us. He appeared to be a man of good moral character, of a studious turn of mind, and genteel behaviour, and whether he had whimsically employed himself, or was employed on a foolish errand by others, is a business not worth our enquiring after; he got nothing here, and to send him back was both necessary and civil. He introduced himself to General Maxwell at Elizabeth-Town, as knowing Mr. Arthur Lee; the General wrote a letter of information to Col. R. H. Lee who presented the same to Congress. But it does not appear that Mr. Deane moved in the matter till a considerable time after the Doctor was sent off, and then Mr. Deane put a series of queries in the newspaper to know why he was let go. I little thought at that time that the queries were Mr. Deane’s, as they really appeared to me to be the produce of some little mind.
Mr. Deane likewise tells us that Mr. A. Lee was suspected by some of our best friends because of his acquaintance with Lord Shelburne; and perhaps some Mr. Deane in England might find out that Lord Shelburne ought to be suspected because of his acquaintance with Mr. Lee. Mr. Deane appears to me neither to understand characters nor business, or he would not mention Lord Shelburne on such an occasion whose uniform and determined opposition to the Ministry appears to be known to everybody but Mr. Deane. Mr. Deane has given us a quotation from a letter [of Arthur Lee’s] which he never saw, and had it likewise from a gentleman in France who had never seen it, but who had heard it from a correspondent in England to whom it was not sent; and this traditionary story is another of Mr. Deane’s stubborn and undeniable facts. But even supposing the quotation to be true, the only inference from it is naturally this, “That the sooner England makes peace with America the better it will be for her. “Had the intimation been given before the treaty with France was signed, it might have been justly censured, but being given after, it can have but one meaning, and that a clear one. He likewise says, that Charles Fox “declared pointedly in the House of Commons,” that the treaty between France and America was signed, and as Charles Fox knows Lord Shelburne, and Lord Shelburne Mr. Lee, therefore Mr. Deane infers, “as a stubborn and undeniable fact,” that Mr. Lee must tell it. Does Mr. Deane know that nothing can be long a secret in a Court, especially where the countries are but twenty miles apart, and that Charles Fox, from his ingratiating manners, is almost universally known in France?
Mr. Deane likewise supposes that William Lee, Esquire continues an Alderman of London, and either himself or some other gentleman since, under the signature of OBSERVATOR, says that “he has consulted, on this point, the Royal Kalendar or Annual Register,” and finds it true. To consult a Kalendar to find out a name must be a learned consultation indeed. An Alderman of London is neither a place at Court nor a place of profit, and if the city chuses not to expel him, it is a proof they are very good whigs; and this is the only proved fact in Mr. Deane’s Address. But there is, through the whole of it, a barbarous, unmanly and unsupported attack on absent characters, which are, perhaps, far superior to his own; an eagerness to create suspicions wherever he can catch an opportunity; an over-strained desire to be believed; and an affected air of giving importance to trifles. He accuses Mr. [Arthur] Lee of incivility to the French nation. Mr. Lee, if I can judge by his writing, is too much both of a scholar and a gentleman to deserve such a censure. He might with great justice complain of Mr. Deane’s contracts with individuals; for we are fully sensible, that the gentlemen which have come from France since the arrival of Dr. Franklin and Mr. Lee in that country, are of a different rank to the generality of those with whom Mr. Deane contracted when alone. And this observation will, I believe explain that charge no ways to Mr. Deane’s honour.
Upon the whole, I cannot help considering this publication as one of the most irrational performances I ever met with. He seems in it to pay no regard to individual safety, nor cares who he may involve in the consequences of his quarrel. He mentions names without restraint, and stops at no discovery of persons. A public man, in Mr. Deane’s former character, ought to be as silent as the grave; for who would trust a person with a secret who shewed such a talent for revealing? Under the pretence of doing good he is doing mischief, and in a tumult of his own creating, will expose and distress himself.
Mr. Deane’s Address was calculated to catch several sorts of people: The rash, because they are fond of fiery things; the curious, because they are fond of curiosities; the weak, because they easily believe; the good, because they are unsuspicious; the tory, because it comforts his discontent; the high whig, because he is jealous of his rights; the man of national refinement, because it obscurely hints at national dishonor. The clamor, it is true, has been a popular one, and so far as it is the sign of a living principle, it is pleasant to see it; but when once understood it will amount to nothing, and with the rapidity that it rose it will descend.
PHILADELPHIA, Dec. 14, 1788.
P.S.—The writer of this has been waited on by a gentleman, whom he supposes, by his conversation, to be a friend of Mr. Deane’s, and whom Mr. Deane, but not any other person, is welcome to know whenever he pleases. The gentleman informed the writer, that some persons, whom he did not mention, had threatened most extraordinary violence against him (the writer of this piece) for taking the matter up; the writer asked, what, whether right or wrong? and likewise informed the gentleman, that he had done it solely with a view of putting the public right in a matter which they did not understand—that the threat served to increase the necessity, and was therefore an excitement to his doing it. The gentleman, after expressing his good opinion of, and personal respect for, the writer, withdrew.
TO THE PUBLIC ON MR. DEANE’S AFFAIR.
Hoping this to be my last on the subject of Mr. Deane’s conduct and address, I shall therefore make a few remarks on what has already appeared in the papers, and furnish you with some interesting and explanatory facts; and whatever I may conceive necessary to say of myself will conclude the piece. As it is my design to make those that can scarcely read understand, I shall therefore avoid every literary ornament, and put it in language as plain as the alphabet.
I desire the public to understand that this is not a personal dispute between Mr. Deane and me, but is a matter of business in which they are more interested than they seemed at first to be apprised of. I rather wonder that no person was curious enough to ask in the papers how affairs stood between Congress and Mr. Deane as to money matters? And likewise, what it was that Mr. Deane has so repeatedly applied to the Congress for without success? Perhaps those two Questions, properly asked, and justly answered, would have unravelled a great part of the mystery, and explained the reason why he threw out, at such a particular time, such a strange address. They might likewise have asked, whether there had been any former dispute between Mr. Deane and Arthur or William Lee, and what it was about? Mr. Deane’s round-about charges against the Lees, are accompanied with a kind of rancor, that differs exceedingly from public-spirited zeal. For my part, I have but a very slender opinion of those patriots, if they can be called such, who never appear till provoked to it by a personal quarrel, and then blaze away, the hero of their own tale, and in a whirlwind of their own raising; such men are very seldom what the populace mean by the word “staunch,” and it is only by a continuance of service that any public can become a judge of a man’s principles.
When I first took up this matter, I expected at least to be abused, and I have not been disappointed. It was the last and only refuge they had, and, thank God, I had nothing to dread from it. I might have escaped it if I would, either by being silent, or by joining in the tumult. A gentleman, a Member of Congress, an Associate, I believe, of Mr. Deane’s, and one whom I would wish had not a hand in the piece signed Plain Truth, very politely asked me, a few days before Common Sense to Mr. Deane came out, whether on that subject I was pro or con? I replied, I knew no pro or con, nor any other sides than right or wrong.
Mr. Deane had objected to my putting the signature of Common Sense to my address to him, and the gentleman who came to my lodgings urged the same objections; their reasons for so doing may, I think, be easily guessed at. The signature has, I believe, an extensive reputation, and which, I trust, will never be forfeited while in my possession. As I do not chuse to comply with the proposal that was made to me for changing it, therefore Mr. Plain Truth, as he calls himself, and his connections, may endeavour to take off from the credit of the signature, by a torrent of lowtoned abuse without wit, matter or sentiment.
Had Mr. Deane confined himself to his proper line of conduct, he would never have been interrupted by me, or exposed himself to suspicious criticism. But departing from this, he has thrown himself on the ocean of the public, where nothing but the firmest integrity can preserve him from becoming a wreck. A smooth and flattering tale may do for a while, but unless it can be supported with facts, and maintained by the most incontestible proof, it will fall to the ground, and leave the inventor in the lurch.
On the first view of things, there is something in Mr. Deane’s conduct which must appear mysterious to every disinterested man, if he will but give himself time to reflect. Mr. Deane has been arrived in America, and in this city, upwards of five months, and had he been possessed of any secrets which affected, or seemed to affect, the interest of America, or known any kind of treachery, misconduct, or neglect of duty in any of the other Commissioners, or in any other person, he ought, as an honest man, to have disclosed it immediately on his arrival, either to the Committee for Foreign Affairs, of which I have the honor to be Secretary, or to Congress. Mr. Deane has done neither, notwithstanding he has had two audiences with Congress in August last, and might at any time have laid his written information before them, or before the Committee, through whom all his foreign concerns had passed, and in whose hands, or rather in mine, are lodged all his political correspondence, and those of other Commissioners.
From an unwillingness to expose Mr. Deane and his adherents too much, I contented myself in my first piece with showing their inconsistency rather than their intentions, and gave them room to retract by concealing their discredit. It is necessary that I should now speak a plainer language.
The public have totally mistaken this matter, and when they come to understand it rightly, they will see it in a very different light to what they at first supposed it. They seemed to conceive, and great pains have been taken to make them believe, that Mr. Deane had repeatedly applied to Congress to obtain an audience, in order to lay before them some great and important discoveries, and that the Congress had refused to hear such information. It is, Gentlemen, no such thing. If Mr. Deane or any one else had told you so, they have imposed upon you.
If you attend to a part of Mr. Deane’s Address to you, you will find there, even from his own account, what it was that he wanted an interview with Congress for, viz. to get some how or other through his own perplext affairs, and obtain an audience of leave and departure that he might embark for France, and which if he could have obtained, there is every reason to believe, he would have quitted America in silence, and that the public would never have been favored with his address, nor I plagued with the trouble of putting it to rights. The part which I allude to is this “and having placed my papers and yours in safety, I left Paris, in full confidence that I should not be detained in America, “to which he adds this curious expression, “on the business I was sent for.” To be “detained “at home is a new transposition of ideas, especially in a man who had been absent from it two years and a half, and serves to show that Mr. Deane was become so wonderfully foreignized that he had quite forgotten poor Connecticut.
As I shall have frequent occasions to make use of the name of Congress, I request you to suspend all kind of opinions on any supposed obligations which I am said to lie under to that body, till you hear what I have to say in the conclusion of this address, for if Mr. Deane’s accounts stand as clear with them as mine do, he might very easily have brought his papers from France. I have several times repeated, and I again repeat it, that my whole design in taking this matter up, was and is, to prevent the public being imposed upon, and the event must and will convince them of it.
I now proceed to put the affiair into such a straight line that you cannot misunderstand it.
Mr. Deane wrote his address to you some time in November, and kept it by him in order to publish or not as it might suit his purpose. On the 30th day of the same month he applied by letter to Congress, and what do you think it was for? To give them any important information? No. To “tell them what he has wrote to you?” No, it was to acquaint them that he had missed agreeable opportunities of returning to France; dismal misfortune indeed! And that the season (of the year) is now becoming as pressing as the business which calls him back, and therefore he earnestly entreated the attention of Congress, to what? To his great information? No, to his important discoveries? No, but to his own situation and requests. These are, I believe, his own words.
Now it only remains to know whether Mr. Deane’s official affairs were in a fit position for him to be permitted to quit America or not; and I trust, that when I tell you, I have been secretary for foreign affairs almost two years, you will allow that I must be some judge of the matter.
You have already heard what Mr. Deane’s application to Congress was for. And as one of the public, under the well known signature of Common Sense, I humbly conceive, that the Congress have done that which as a faithful body of Representatives they ought to do, that is, they ordered an enquiry into the state of foreign affairs and accounts which Mr. Deane had been intrusted with, before they could, with justice to you, grant the request he asked; And this was the more necessary to be done, because Mr. Deane says he has left his papers and accounts behind him: Did ever any steward, when called upon, to surrender up his stewardship make such a weak and frivolous excuse? Mr. Deane saw himself not only recalled but superceeded in his office by another person, and he could have no right to think he should return, nor any pretence to come away without the necessary credentials.
His friend and associate, and perhaps partner too, Mr. Plain Truth, says, that I have endeavored in my address, to “throw out a suggestion that Mr. Deane is considered by Congress as a defaulter of public money”: The gentlemen seem to wince before they are touched. I have no where said so, but this I will say, that his accounts are not satisfactory: Mr. Plain Truth endeavors to palliate what he cannot contradict, and with a seeming triumph assures the public “that Mr. Deane not long after his arrival laid before Congress a general state of the receipts and expenditures of the Monies which passed thro’ his hands”; to which Mr. Plain Truth subjoins the following extraordinary apology: “It is true the account was not accompanied with all the vouchers for the particular expenditures.” And why not I ask? for without those it was no account at all; it was what the Sailors call a boot account, so much money gone and the Lord knows for what. Mr. Deane had Secretaries and clerks, and ought to have known better than to produce such an account to Congress, especially as his colleague Arthur Lee had declared in an office letter, which is in my possession, that he had no concern in Mr. Deane’s contracts.
Neither does the excuse, which his whirligig friend Mr. Plain Truth makes for him, apply to his case; this random shot gentleman, in order to bring him as easily off as possible, says, “that any person in the least conversant with business, knows the time which is requisite for calling in manufacturers and tradesmen’s bills, and prepare accounts and vouchers for a final settlement”; and this he mentions because Mr. Deane received his order of recall the 4th of March, and left Paris the 31st: here is, however, four weeks within a day. I shall make three remarks upon this curious excuse.
First, it is contradictory. Mr. Deane could not obtain the total or general expenditure without having the particulars, therefore he must be in the possession of the particulars. He surely did not pass away money without taking receipts, and what was due upon credit, he could only know from the bills delivered in.
Secondly, Mr. Deane’s contracts did not lay in the retail way, and therefore were easily collected.
Thirdly, The accounts which it was Mr. Deane’s particular duty to settle, were those, which he contracted in the time of being only a commercial Agent in 1776, before the arrival of Dr. Franklin and Arthur Lee, which separate agency of his expired upwards of fifteen months before he left France,—and surely that was time enough,—and in which period of his agency, there happened an unexplained contract of about two hundred thousand pounds sterling. But more of this when I come to remark on the ridiculous Puffs with which Mr. Plain Truth has set off Mr. Deane’s pretended Services in France.
Mr. Deane has not only left the public papers and accounts behind him, but he has given no information to Congress, where or in whose hands they are; he says in his address to you, that he has left them in a safe place, and this is all which is known of the matter. Does this look like business? Has it an open and candid or a mysterious and suspicious appearance? Or would it have been right in Congress to have granted Mr. Deane an audience of leave and departure in this embarrassed state of his affairs? And because they have not, his ready written November address has been thrown out to abuse them and amuse you by directing you to another object; and myself, for endeavoring to unriddle confusion, have been loaded with reproach by his partizans and partners, and represented as a writer, who like an unprincipled lawyer had let himself out for pay. Charges which the propagators of them know to be false, because some, who have encouraged the report, are Members of Congress themselves, and know my situation to be directly the reverse. But this I shall explain in the conclusion; and I give the gentlemen notice of it, that if they can make out anything against me, or prove that I ever received a single farthing, public or private, for any thing I ever wrote, they may convict me publicly, and if they do not, I hope they will be honest enough to take shame to themselves, for the falsehood they have supported. And I likewise request that they would inform the public what my salary as Secretary for foreign affairs is, otherwise I shall be obliged to do it myself. I shall not spare them and I beg they would not spare me. But to return—
There is something in this concealment of papers that looks like an embezzlement. Mr. Deane came so privately from France, that he even concealed his departure from his colleague Arthur Lee, of which he complains by a letter in my office, and consequently the papers are not in his hands; and had he left them with Dr. Franklin he would undoubtedly have taken the Doctor’s receipt for them, and left nobody to “guess, “at what Mr. Deane meant by a safe place: A man may leave his own private affairs in the hands of a friend, but the papers of a nation are of another nature, and ought never to be trusted with any person whatever out of the direct line of business. This I conceive to be another reason which justifies Congress in not granting Mr. Deane an audience of leave and departure till they are assured where those papers are. Mr. Deane might have been taken at sea, he might have died or been cast away on his passage back from France, or he might have been settled there, as Madame D’Eon did in England, and quarrelled afterwards as she did with the power that employed him. Many accidents might have happened by which those papers and accounts might have been totally lost, the secrets got into the hands of the enemy, and the possibility of settling the expenditure of public money for ever prevented. No apology can be made for Mr. Deane, as to the danger of the seas, or their being taken by the enemy, in his attempt to bring them over himself, because it ought always to be remembered that he came in a fleet of twelve sail of the line.
I shall now quit this part of the subject to take notice of a paragraph in Mr. Plain Truth.
In my piece to Mr. Deane I said, that his address was dated in November, without any day of the month, that on the last day of that month he applied to Congress, that on the 1st of December the Congress resolved to investigate the state of their foreign affairs, of which Mr. Deane had notice, and that on the fourth he informed them of his receiving that notification and expressed his thanks, yet that on the fifth he published his extraordinary address.
Mr. Plain Truth, in commenting upon this arrangement of facts has helped me to a new discovery. He says, that Mr. Deane’s thanks of the fourth of December were only expressed to the President, Henry Laurens Esqr: for personally informing him of the resolution and other attention to his Affairs, and not, as I had said, to Congress for the resolution itself. I give him credit for this, and believe it to be true; for my opinion of the matter is, that Mr. Deane’s views were to get off without any enquiry, and that the resolution referred to was his great disappointment. By all accounts which have been given both by Mr. Deane’s friends and myself, we all agree in this, that Mr. Deane knew of the resolution of Congress before he published his address, and situated as he is he could not help knowing it two or three days before his address came out. Why then did he publish it, since the very thing which he ought to have asked for, viz. an enquiry into his affairs, was ordered to be immediately gone into?
I wish in this place to step for a moment from the floor of office, and press it on every State, to enquire what mercantile connections any of their late or present Delegates have had or now have with Mr. Deane, and that a precedent might not be wanting, it is important that this State, Pennsylvania should begin.
The uncommon fury which has been spread to support Mr. Deane cannot be altogether for his sake. Those who were the original propagators of it, are not remarkable for gratitude. If they excel in anything it is in the contrary principle and a selfish attachment to their own interest. It would suit their plan exceedingly well to have Mr. Deane appointed Ambassador to Holland, because so situated, he would make a very convenient partner in trade, or a useful factor.
In order to rest Mr. Deane on the shoulders of the Public, he has been set off with the most pompous puffs—The Saviour of his Country—the Patriot of America—the True Friend of the Public—the Great Supporter of the cause in Europe,—and a thousand other full-blown bubbles, equally ridiculous and equally untrue. Never were the public more wretchedly imposed upon. An attempt was made to call a town meeting to return him thanks and to march in a body to Congress to demand justice for Mr. Deane. And this brings me to a part in Mr. Plain Truth’s address to me, in which he speaks of Mr. Deane’s services in France, and defies me to disprove them. If any late or present Member of Congress has been concerned in writing that piece, I think it necessary to tell him, that he either knows very little of the state of foreign affairs, or ought to blush in thus attempting to rob a friendly nation, France, of her honors, to bestow them on a man who so little deserves them.
Mr. Deane was sent to France in the Spring, 1776, as a Commercial Agent, under the authority of the Committee which is now stiled the Committee for foreign affairs. He had no Commission of any kind from Congress; and his instructions were to assume no other character but that of a merchant; yet in this line of action Mr. Plain Truth has the ignorance to dub him a “public Minister” and likewise says,
“that before the first of December, after his arrival he had formed and cultivated the esteem of a valuable political and commercial connection, not only in France but in other parts of Europe, laid the foundation of a public loan, procured thirty thousand stand of arms, thirty thousand suits of cloathes, more than two hundred and fifty pieces of brass cannon, and a great amount of tents and military stores, provided vessels to transport them, and in spite of various and almost inconceivable obstructions great part of these articles were shipped and arrived in America before the operations of the campaign in 1777.” To which Mr. Plain Truth adds, “That he has had the means of being acquainted with all these circumstances, avows them to be facts, and defies Common Sense or any other person to disprove them.”
Poor Mr. Plain Truth, and his avower Mr. Clarkson, have most unfortunately for them challenged the wrong person, and fallen into the right hands when they fell into mine, for without stirring a step from the room I am writing in, or asking a single question of any one, I have it in my power, not only to contradict but disprove it.
It is, I confess, a nice point to touch upon, but the necessity of undeceiving the public with respect to Mr. Deane, and the right they have to know the early friendship of the French Nation towards them at the time of their greatest wants, will justify my doing it. I feel likewise the less difficulty in it, because the whole affair respecting those supplies has been in the hands of the enemy at least twelve months, and consequently the necessity for concealing it is superceded: Besides which, the two nations, viz. France and England, being now come to an open rupture makes the secret unnecessary. It was immediately on the discovery of this affair by the enemy fifteen months ago, that the British Ministry began to change their ground and planned what they call their Conciliatory Bills. They got possession of this secret by stealing the dispatches of October, 1777, which should have come over by Captain Folger, and this likewise explains the Controversy which the British Commissioners carried on with Congress, in attempting to prove that England had planned what they called her conciliatory Bills, before France moved towards a treaty; for even admitting that assertion to be true, the case is, that they planned those Bills in consequence of the knowledge they had stolen.
The supplies here alluded to, are those which were sent from France in the Amphitrite, Seine and Mercury about two years ago. They had at first the appearance of a present, but whether so, or on credit, the service was nevertheless a great and friendly one, and though only part of them arrived the kindness is the same. A considerable time afterwards the same supplies appeared under the head of a charge amounting to about two hundred thousand pounds sterling, and it is the unexplained contract I alluded to when I spoke of the pompous puffs made use of to support Mr. Deane. On the appearance of this charge the Congress were exceedingly embarrassed as to what line of conduct to pursue. To be insensible of a favor, which has before now been practised between nations, would have implied a want of just conceptions; and to have refused it would have been a species of proud rusticity. To have asked the question was both difficult and awkward; to take no notice of it would have been insensibility itself; and to have seemed backward in payment, if they were to be paid for, would have impeached both the justice and the credit of America. In this state of difficulties such enquiries were made as were judged necessary, in order that Congress might know how to proceed. Still nothing satisfactory could be obtained. The answer which Mr. Deane signed so lately as February 16th last past (and who ought to know most of the matter, because the shipping the supplies was while he acted alone) is as ambiguous as the rest of his conduct. I will venture to give it, as there is no political secret in it and the matter wants explanation.
“Hear that Mr. B [eaumarchais] has sent over a person to demand a large sum of you on account of arms, ammunition, etc.,—think it will be best for you to leave that matter to be settled here (France), as there is a mixture in it of public and private concern which you cannot so well develop.”
Why did not Mr. Deane compleat the contract so as it might be developed, or at least state to Congress any difficulties that had arisen? When Mr. Deane had his two audiences with Congress in August last, he objected, or his friends for him, against his answering the questions that might be asked him, and the ground upon which the objection was made, was, because a man could not legally be compelled to answer questions that might tend to criminate himself.—Yet this is the same Mr. Deane whose address you saw in the Pennsylvania Packet of December 5 signed Silas Deane.
Having thus shewn the loose manner of Mr. Deane’s doing business in France, which is rendered the more intricate by his leaving his papers behind, or his not producing them; I come now to enquire into what degree of merit or credit Mr. Deane is entitled to as to the procuring these supplies, either as a present or a purchase.
Mr. Plain Truth has given him the whole. Mr. Plain Truth therefore knows nothing of the matter, or something worse. If Mr. Deane or any other gentleman will procure an order from Congress to inspect an account in my office, or any of Mr. Deane’s friends in Congress will take the trouble of coming themselves, I will give him or them my attendance and show them in a handwriting which Mr. Deane is well acquainted with, that the supplies, he so pompously plumes himself upon, were promised and engaged, and that as a present, before he ever arrived in France, and the part that fell to Mr. Deane was only to see it done, and how he has performed that service, the public are now acquainted with. The last paragraph in the account is, “Upon Mr. Deane’s arrival in France the business went into his hands and the aids were at length embarked in the Amphitrite, Mercury and Seine.“
What will Mr. Deane or his Aid de Camp say to this, or what excuse will they make now? If they have met with any cutting truths from me, they must thank themselves for it. My address to Mr. Deane was not only moderate but civil, and he and his adherents had much better have submitted to it quietly, than provoked more material matter to appear against them. I had at that time all the facts in my hands which I have related since, or shall yet relate in my reply. The only thing I aimed at in the address, was, to give out just as much as might prevent the public from being so grossly imposed upon by them, and yet save Mr. Deane and his adherents from appearing too wretched and despicable. My fault was a misplaced tenderness, which they must now be fully sensible of, and the misfortune to them, is, that I have not yet done.
Had Mr. Plain Truth only informed the Public that Mr. Deane had been industrious in promoting and forwarding the sending the supplies, his assertion would have passed uncontradicted by me, because I must naturally suppose that Mr. Deane would do no otherwise; but to give him the whole and sole honour of procuring them, and that, without yielding any part of the honor to the public spirit and good disposition of those who furnished them, and who likewise must in every shape have put up with the total loss of them had America been overpowered by her enemies, is, in my opinion, placing the reputation and affection of our allies not only in a disadvantageous, but in an unjust point of view, and concealing from the public what they ought to know.
Mr. Plain Truth declares that he knows all the circumstances, why then did he not place them in a proper line, and give the public a clear information how they arose? The proposal for sending over those supplies, appears to have been originally made by some public spirited gentleman in France, before ever Mr. Deane arrived there, or was known or heard of in that Country, and to have been communicated (personally by Mr. Beaumarchais, the gentleman mentioned in the letter signed J. L. which letter is given at length by Mr. Plain Truth) to Mr. Arthur Lee while resident in London about three years ago. From Mr. B’s manner of expression, Mr. Lee understood the supplies to be a present, and has signified it in that light. It is very easy to see that if America had miscarried, they must have been a present, which probably adds explanation to the matter. But Mr. Deane is spoken of by Mr. Plain Truth, as having an importance of his own, and procuring those supplies through that importance; whereas he could only rise and fall with the country that empowered him to act, and be in or out of credit, as to money matters, from the same cause and in the same proportion; and every body must suppose, that there were greater and more original wheels at work than he was capable of setting in motion. Exclusive of the matter being begun before Mr. Deane’s arrival, Mr. Plain Truth has given him the whole merit of every part of the transaction. America and France are wholly left out of the question, the former as to her growing importance and credit, from which all Mr. Deane’s consequence was derived, and the latter, as to her generosity in furnishing those supplies, at a time, when the risk of losing them appears to have been as great as our want of them.
I have always understood thus much of the matter, that if we did not succeed no payment would be required, and I think myself fully entitled to believe, and to publish my belief, that whether Mr. Deane had arrived in France or not, or any other gentleman in his stead, those same supplies would have found their way to America. But as the nature of the contract has not been explained by any of Mr. Deane’s letters and is left in obscurity by the account he signed the 16th of February last, which I have already quoted, therefore the full explanation must rest upon other authority.
I have been the more explicit on this subject, not so much on Mr. Deane’s account, as from a principle of public justice. It shews, in the first instance, that the greatness of the American cause drew, at its first beginning, the attention of Europe, and that the justness of it was such as appeared to merit support; and in the second instance, that those who are now her allies, prefaced that alliance by an early and generous friendship; yet, that we might not attribute too much to human or auxiliary aid, so unfortunate were those supplies, that only one ship out of the three arrived. The Mercury and Seine fell into the hands of the enemy.
Mr. Deane, in his address, speaks of himself as “sacrificed for the agrandizement of others “and promises to inform the public of “what he has done and what he has suffered. “What Mr. Deane means by being sacrificed the Lord knows, and what he has suffered is equally as mysterious. It was his good fortune to be situated in an elegant country and at a public charge, while we were driven about from pillar to post. He appears to know but little of the hardships and losses which his countrymen underwent in the period of his fortunate absence. It fell not to his lot to turn out to a Winter’s campaign, and sleep without tent or blanket. He returned to America when the danger was over, and has since that time suffered no personal hardship. What then are Mr. Deane’s sufferings and what the sacrifices he complains of? Has he lost money in the public service? I believe not. Has he got any? That I cannot tell. I can assure him that I have not, and he, if he pleases, may make the same declaration.
Surely the Congress might recall Mr. Deane if they thought proper, without an insinuated charge of injustice for so doing. The authority of America must be little indeed when she cannot change a Commissioner without being insulted by him. And I conceive Mr. Deane as speaking in the most disrespectful language of the Authority of America when he says in his address, that in December 1776 he was “honored with one Colleague, and saddled with another.” Was Mr. Deane to dictate who should be Commissioner, and who should not? It was time, however, to saddle him, as he calls it, with somebody, as I shall shew before I conclude.
When we have elected our Representatives, either in Congress or in the Assembly, it is for our own good that we support them in the execution of that authority they derive from us. If Congress is to be abused by every one whom they may appoint or remove, there is an end to all useful delegation of power, and the public accounts in the hands of individuals will never be settled. There has, I believe, been too much of this work practised already, and it is time that the public should now make those matters a point of consideration. But who will begin the disagreeable talk?
I look on the independence of America to be as firmly established as that of any country which is at war. Length of time is no guarantee when arms are to decide the fate of a nation. Hitherto our whole anxiety has been absorbed in the means for supporting our independence, and we have paid but little attention to the expenditure of money; yet we see it daily depreciating, and how should it be otherwise when so few public Accounts are settled, and new emissions continually going on?—I will venture to mention one circumstance which I hope will be sufficient to awaken the attention of the public to this subject. In October, 1777, some books of the Commercial Committee, in which, among other things, were kept the accounts of Mr. Thomas Morris, appointed a Commercial Agent in France, were by Mr. Robert Morris’s request taken into his possession to be settled, he having obtained from the Council of this State six months’ leave of absence from Congress to settle his affairs. In February following those books were called for by Congress, but not being compleated were not delivered. In September, 1778 Mr. Morris returned them to Congress, in, or nearly in, the same unsettled state he took them, which, with the death of Mr. Thomas Morris, may probably involve those accounts in further embarrassment. The amount of expenditure on those books is considerably above two millions of dollars.
I now quit this subject to take notice of a paragraph in Mr. Plain Truth, relative to myself. It never fell to my lot to have to do with a more illiberal set of men than those of Mr. Deane’s advocates who were concerned in writing that piece. They have neither wit, manners nor honesty; an instance of which I shall now produce. In speaking of Mr. Deane’s contracts with individuals in France I said in my address “We are all fully sensible, that the gentlemen who have come from France since the arrival of Dr. Franklin and Mr. Lee in that Country are of a different rank from the generality of those with whom Mr. Deane contracted when alone.” These are the exact words I used in my address.
Mr. Plain Truth has misquoted the above paragraph into his piece, and that in a manner, which shews him to be a man of little reading and less principle. The method in which he has quoted it is as follows: “All are fully sensible that the gentlemen who came from France since the arrival of Dr. Franklin and Mr. Lee in that country, are of a different rank from those with whom Mr. Deane contracted when acting separately.” Thus by leaving out the words “the generality of, “Mr. Plain Truth has altered the sense of my expression, so as to suit a most malicious purpose in his own, which could be no other, than that of embroiling me with the French gentlemen that have remained; whereas it is evident, that my mode of expression was intended to do justice to such characters as Fleury and Touzard, by making a distinction they are clearly entitled to. Mr. Plain Truth not content with unjustly subjecting me to the misconceptions of those gentlemen, with whom even explanation was difficult on account of the language, but in addition to his injustice, endeavoured to provoke them to it by calling on them, and reminding them that they were the “Guardians of their own honour. “And I have reason to believe, that either Mr. Plain Truth or some of the party did not even stop here, but went so far as personally to excite them on. Mr. Fleury came to my lodgings and complained that I had done him great injustice, but that he was sure I did not intend it, because he was certain that I knew him better. He confessed to me that he was pointed at and told that I meant him, and he withal desired, that as I knew his services and character, that I would put the matter right in the next paper. I endeavoured to explain to him that the mistake was not mine, and we parted. I do not remember that in the course of my reading I ever met with a more illiberal and malicious mis-quotation, and the more so when all the circumstances are taken with it. Yet this same Mr. Plain Truth, whom no body knows, has the impertinence to give himself out to be a man of “education “and to inform the public that “he is not a writer from inclination much less by profession, “to which he might safely have added, still less by capacity, and least of all by principle. As Mr. Clarkson has undertaken to avow the piece signed Plain Truth, I shall therefore consider him as legally accountable for the apparent malicious intentions of this mis-quotation, and he may get whom he pleases to speak or write a defence of him.
I conceive that the general distinction I referred to between those with whom Mr. Deane contracted when alone, and those who have come from France since the arrival of Dr. Franklin and Mr. Lee in that Country, is sufficiently warranted. That gallant and amiable officer and volunteer the Marquis de la Fayette, and some others whom Mr. Plain Truth mentions, did not come from France till after the arrival of the additional Commissioners, and proves my assertion to be true. My remark is confined to the many and unnecessary ones with which Mr. Deane burthened and distracted the army. If he acquired any part of his popularity in France by this means he made the continent pay smartly for it. Many thousand pounds it cost America, and that in money totally sunk, on account of Mr. Deane’s injudicious contracts, and what renders it the more unpardonable is, that by the instructions he took with him, he was restricted from making them, and consequently by having no authority had an easy answer to give to solicitations. It was Doctor Franklin’s answer as soon as he arrived and might have been Mr. Deane’s. Gentlemen of science or literature or conversant with the polite or useful arts, will, I presume, always find a welcome reception in America, at least with persons of a liberal cast, and with the bulk of the people.
In speaking of Mr. Deane’s contracts with foreign officers, I concealed out of pity to him a circumstance that must have sufficiently shewn the necessity of recalling him, and, either his great want of judgment, or the danger of trusting him with discretionary power. It is no less than that of his throwing out a proposal, in one of his last foreign letters, for contracting with a German prince to command the American Army. For my own part I was no ways surprised when I read it, though I presume almost every body else will be so when they hear it, and I think when he got to this length, it was time to saddle him.
Mr. Deane was directed by the Committee which employed him to engage four able engineers in France, and beyond this he had neither authority nor commission. But disregarding his instructions (a fault criminal in a negociator) he proceeded through the several degrees of subalterns, to Captains, Majors, Lieutenant Colonels, Colonels, Brigadier Generals and at last to Major Generals; he fixed their rank, regulated their command, and on some, I believe, he bestowed a pension. At this stage, I set him down for a Commander in Chief, and his next letter proved me prophetic. Mr. Plain Truth, in the course of his numerous encomiums on Mr. Deane, says, that—
“The letter of the Count de Vergennes, written by order of his Most Christian Majesty to Congress, speaking of Mr. Deane in the most honorable manner, and the letter from that Minister in his own character, written not in the language of a courtier, but in that of a person who felt what he expressed, would be sufficient to counterbalance, not only the opinions of the writer of the address to Mr. Deane, but even of characters of more influence, who may vainly endeavor to circulate notions of his insignificancy and unfitness for a public minister.”
The supreme authority of one country, however different may be its mode, will ever pay a just regard to that of another, more especially when in alliance. But those letters can extend no further than to such parts of Mr. Deane’s conduct as came under the immediate notice of the Court as a public Minister, or a political agent; and cannot be supposed to interfere with such other parts as might be disapproved in him here as a Contractor or a Commercial Agent, and can in no place be applied as an extenuation of any imprudence of his either there or since his return; besides which, letters of this kind, are as much intended to compliment the power that employs, as the person employed; and upon the whole, I fear Mr. Deane has presumed too much upon the polite friendship of that nation, and engrossed to himself, a regard, that was partly intended to express, through him, an affection to the continent.
Mr. Deane should likewise recollect that the early appearance of any gentleman from America, was a circumstance, so agreeable to the nation, he had the honor of appearing at, that he must have managed unwisely indeed to have avoided popularity. For as the poet says,
“Fame then was cheap, and the first comers sped.“
The last line of the couplet is not applicable
“Which they have since preserved by being dead.“
From the pathetic manner in which Mr. Deane speaks of his “sufferings “and the little concern he seems to have of ours, it may not be improper to inform him, that there is kept in this city a “Book of Sufferings, “into which, by the assistance of some of his connections, he may probably get them registered. I have not interest enough myself to afford him any service in this particular, though I am a friend to all religions, and no personal enemy to those who may, in this place, suppose themselves alluded to.
I can likewise explain to Mr. Deane, the reason of one of his sufferings which I know he has complained of. After the Declaration of Independence was passed, Mr. Deane thought it a great hardship that he was not authorized to announce it in form to the Court of France, and this circumstance has been mentioned as a seeming inattention in Congress. The reason of it was this, and I mention it from my own knowledge. Mr. Deane was at that time only a Commercial Agent, without any Commission from Congress, and consequently could not appear at Court with the rank suitable to the formality of such an occasion. A new commission was therefore necessary to be issued by Congress, and that honour was purposely reserved for Doctor Franklin, whose long services in the world, and established reputation in Europe, rendered him the fittest person in America to execute such a great and original design; and it was likewise paying a just attention to the honour of France by sending so able and extraordinary a character to announce the Declaration.
Mr. Plain Truth, who sticks at nothing to carry Mr. Deane through everything thick or thin, says:
“It may not be improper to remark that when he (Mr. Deane) arrived in France, the opinion of people there, and in the different parts of Europe, not only with respect to the merits, but the probable issue of the Contest, had by no means acquired that consistency which they had at the time of Dr. Franklin’s and Mr. Arthur Lee’s arrival in that Kingdom.”
Mr. Plain Truth is not a bad historian. For it was the fate of Dr. Franklin and Mr. Lee to arrive in France at the very worst of times. Their first appearance there was followed by a long series of ill fortune on our side. Doctor Franklin went from America in October, 1776, at which time our affairs were taking a wrong turn. The loss on Long Island, and the evacuation of New York happened before he went, and all the succeeding retreats and misfortunes through the course of that year, till the scale was again turned by taking the Hessians at Trenton on the 26th day of December, followed day by day after him. And I have been informed by a gentleman from France, that the philosophical ease and cheerful fortitude, with which Dr. Franklin heard of or announced those tidings, contributed greatly towards lessening the real weight of them on the minds of the Europeans.
Mr. Deane speaking of himself in his address says, “While it was safe to be silent my lips were closed. Necessity hath opened them and necessity must excuse this effort to serve, by informing you.” After which he goes on with his address. In this paragraph there is an insinuation thrown out by Mr. Deane that some treason was on foot, which he had happily discovered, and which his duty to his country compelled him to reveal. The public had a right to be alarmed, and the alarm was carefully kept by those who at first contrived it. Now, if after this, Mr. Deane has nothing to inform them of, he must sink into nothing. When a public man stakes his reputation in this manner, he likewise stakes all his future credit on the performance of his obligation.
I am not writing to defend Mr. Arthur or Mr. William Lee, I leave their conduct to defend itself; and I would with as much freedom make an attack on either of these gentlemen, if there was a public necessity for it, as on Mr. Deane. In my address I mentioned Colonel R. H. Lee with some testimony of honourable respect, because I am personally acquainted with that gentleman’s integrity and abilities as a public man, and in the circle of my acquaintance I know but few that have equalled, and none that have exceeded him, particularly in his ardor to bring foreign affairs, and more especially the present happy alliance, to an issue.
I heard it mentioned of this gentleman, that he was among those, whose impatience for victory led them into some kind of discontent at the operations of last Winter. The event has, I think, fully proved those gentlemen wrong, and must convince them of it; but I can see no reason why a misgrounded opinion, produced by an overheated anxiety for success, should be mixed up with other matters it has no concern with. A man’s political abilities may be exceedingly good, though at the same time he may differ, and even be wrong, in his notions of some military particulars.
Mr. Deane says that Mr. Arthur Lee was dragged into a Treaty with the utmost reluctance, a charge which if he cannot support, he must expect to answer for. I am acquainted that Mr. Lee had some objection against the constructions of a particular article [12th], which, I think, shews his judgment, and whenever they can be known will do him honor; but his general opinion of that valuable transaction I shall give in his own words from a letter in my hands.
“France has done us substantial benefits, Great Britain substantial injuries. France offers to guarantee our sovereignty, and universal freedom of commerce. Great Britain condescends to accept our submission and to monopolize our commerce. France demands of us to be independent, Great Britain tributary. I do not conceive how there can be a mind so debased, or an understanding so perverted, as to balance between them.
“The journies I have made north and south in the public service, have given me opportunities of knowing the general disposition of Europe on our question. There never was one in which the harmony of opinion was so universal. From the Prince to the peasant there is but one voice, one wish, the liberty of America and the humiliation of Great Britain.”
If Mr. Deane was industrious to spread reports to the injury of these gentlemen in Europe, as he has been in America, no wonder that their real characters have been misunderstood. The peculiar talent which Mr. Deane possesses of attacking persons behind their backs, has so near a resemblance to the author of Plain Truth, who after promising his name to the public has declined to give it, and some other proceedings I am not unacquainted with, particularly an attempt to prevent my publications, that it looks as if one spirit of private malevolence governed the whole.
Mr. Plain Truth has renewed the story of Dr. Birkenhout, to which I have but one reply to make: why did not Mr. Deane appear against him while he was here? He was the only person who knew anything of him, and his neglecting to give information, and thereby suffering a suspicious person to escape for want of proof, is a story very much against Mr. Deane; and his complaining after the man was gone corresponds with the rest of his conduct.
When little circumstances are so easily dwelt upon, it is a sign, not only of the want of great ones, but of weakness and ill will. The crime against Mr. William Lee is, that some years ago he was elected an Alderman of one of the wards in London, and the English Calender has yet printed him with the same title. Is that any fault of his? Or can he be made accountable for what the people of London may do? Let us distinguish between whiggishness and waspishness, between patriotism and peevishness, otherwise we shall become the laughing stock of every sensible and candid mind. Suppose the Londoners should take it into their heads to elect the President of Congress or General Washington an Alderman, is that a reason why we should displace them? But, Mr. Lee, say they, has not resigned. These men have no judgment, or they would not advance such positions. Mr. Lee has nothing to resign. He has vacated his Aldermanship by accepting an appointment under Congress, and can know nothing further of the matter. Were he to make a formal resignation it would imply his being a subject of Great Britain; besides which, the character of being an Ambassador from the States of America, is so superior to that of any Alderman of London, that I conceive Mr. Deane, or Mr. Plain Truth, or any other person, as doing a great injustice to the dignity of America by attempting to put the two in any disputable competition. Let us be honest lest we be despised, and generous lest we be laughed at.
Mr. Deane in his address of the 5th of December, says, “having thus introduced you to your great servants, I now proceed to make you acquainted with some other personages, which it may be of consequence for you to know. I am sorry to say, that Arthur Lee, Esq., was suspected by some of the best friends you had abroad, and those in important characters and stations.” To which I reply, that I firmly believe Mr. Deane will likewise be sorry he has said it. Mr. Deane after thus advancing a charge endeavours to paliate it by saying, “these suspicions, whether well or ill founded, were frequently urged to Dr. Franklin and myself.” But Mr. Deane ought to have been certain that they were well founded, before he made such a publication, for if they are not well founded he must appear with great discredit, and it is now his duty to accuse Mr. Arthur Lee legally, and support the accusation with sufficient proofs. Characters are tender and valuable things; they are more than life to a man of sensibility, and are not to be made the sport of interest, or the sacrifice of incendiary malice. Mr. Lee is an absent gentleman, I believe too, an honest one, and my motive for publishing this, is not to gratify any party, or any person, but as an act of social duty which one man owes to another, and which, I hope, will be done to me whenever I shall be accused ungenerously behind my back.
Mr. Lee to my knowledge has far excelled Mr. Deane in the usefulness of his information, respecting the political and military designs of the Court of London. While in London he conveyed intelligence that was dangerous to his personal safety. Many will remember the instance of the rifle man who had been carried prisoner to England alone three years ago, and who afterwards returned from thence to America, and brought with him a letter concealed in a button. That letter was from this gentleman, and the public will, I believe, conclude, that the hazard Mr. Lee exposed himself to, in giving information while so situated, and by such means, deserves their regard and thanks. The detail of the number of the foreign and British troops for the campaign of 1776, came first from him, as did likewise the expedition against South Carolina and Canada, and among other accounts of his, that the English emissaries at Paris had boasted that the British Ministry had sent over half a million of guineas to corrupt the Congress. This money, should they be fools enough to send it, will be very ineffectually attempted or bestowed, for repeated instances have shewn that the moment any man steps aside from the public interest of America, he becomes despised, and if in office, superceeded.
Mr. Deane says, “that Dr. Birkenhout, when he returned to New York, ventured to assure the British Commissioners, that by the alliance with France, America was at liberty to make peace without consulting her ally, unless England declared War.” What is it to us what Dr. Birkenhout said, or how came Mr. Deane to know what passed between him and the British Commissioners? But I ask Mr. Deane’s pardon, he has told us how. “Providence, (says he) in whom we put our trust, unfolded it to me.” But Mr. Deane says, that Col. R. H. Lee, pertinaciously maintained the same doctrine. The treaty of alliance will neither admit of debate nor any equivocal explanation. Had war not broke out, or had not Great Britain, in resentment to that alliance or connection, and of the good correspondence which is the object of the said treaty, broke the peace with France, either by direct hostilities or by hindering her commerce and navigation in a manner contrary to the rights of nations, and the peace subsisting at that time, between the two Crowns,—in this case, I likewise say, that America, as a matter of right, could have made a peace without consulting her ally, though the civil obligations of mutual esteem and friendship would have required such a consultation. But war has broke out, though not declared, for the first article in the treaty of alliance is confined to the breaking out of war, and not to its declaration. Hostilities have been commenced; therefore the first case is superseded, and the eighth article of the treaty of alliance has its full intentional force: “Article 8.—Neither of the two parties shall conclude either truce or peace without the formal consent of the other first obtained, and they mutually engage not to lay down their arms until the independence of the United States, shall have been formally or tacitly assured, by the treaty or treaties that shall terminate that war.”
What Mr. Deane means by this affected appearance of his, both personally and in print, I am quite at a loss to understand. He seems to conduct himself here in a stile, that would more properly become the secretary to a foreign embassy, than that of an American Minister returned from his charge. He appears to be everybody’s servant but ours, and for that reason can never be the proper person to execute any commission, or possess our confidence. Among the number of his “sufferings “I am told that he returned burthened with forty changes of silk, velvet, and other dresses. Perhaps this was the reason he could not bring his papers.
Mr. Deane says, that William Lee Esq: gives five per cent commission, and receives a share of it, for what was formerly done for two per cent. That matter requires to be cleared up and explained; for it is not the quantity per cent, but the purposes to which it is applied that makes it right or wrong; besides which, the whole matter, like many other of Mr. Deane’s charges, may be groundless.
I here take my leave of this gentleman, wishing him more discretion, candour and generosity.
In the beginning of this address I informed the public, that “whatever I should conceive necessary to say of myself, would appear in the conclusion.” I chose that mode of arrangement, lest by explaining my own situation first, the public might be induced to pay a greater regard to what I had to say against Mr. Deane, than was necessary they should; whereas it was my wish to give Mr. Deane every advantage, by letting what I had to advance come from me, while I laid under the disadvantage of having the motives of my conduct mistaken by the public. Mr. Deane and his adherents have apparently deserted the field they first took possession of and seemed to triumph in. They made their appeal to you, yet have suffered me to accuse and expose them for almost three weeks past, without a denial or a reply.
I do not blame the public for censuring me while they, though wrongfully, supposed I deserved it. When they see their mistake, I have no doubt, but they will honor me with that regard of theirs which I before enjoyed. And considering how much I have been misrepresented, I hope it will not now appear ostentatious in me, if I set forth what has been my conduct, ever since the first publication of the pamphlet Common Sense down to this day, on which, and on account of my reply to Mr. Deane, and in order to import the liberty of the press, and my right as a freeman, I have been obliged to resign my office of Secretary for foreign affairs, which I held under Congress. But this, in order to be compleat, will be published in the Crisis No 8, of which notice will be given in the papers.
January 8, 1779.
MESSRS. DEANE, JAY, AND GÉRARD.
In your paper of August 31st was published an extract of a letter from Paris, dated May the 21st, in which the writer, among other things, says:
“It is long since I felt in common with every other well-wisher to the cause of liberty and truth, the obligations I was under to the author of Common Sense, for the able and unanswerable manner in which he has defended those principles. The same public motives I am persuaded induced him to address the public against Mr. Deane and his associates. The countenance and support which Deane has received is a melancholy presage of the future. Vain, assuming, avaricious and unprincipled, he will stick at no crime to cover what he has committed and continue his career.
“The impunity with which Deane has traduced and calumniated Congress to their face, the indulgence and even countenance he has received, the acrimonious and uncandid spirit of a letter containing Mr. Paine’s publications which accompanied a resolve sent to Mr. Gerard, are matters of deep concern here to every friend to America.”
By way of explaining the particular letter referred to in the above, the following note was added:
“The letter here alluded to can be no other than that signed ‘John Jay,’ dated January 13th, and published in Mr. Dunlap’s paper of Jan. 16th. It is very extraordinary that Mr. Jay should write such a letter, because it contains the same illiberal reflections which Congress, as a Body, had rejected from their resolve of January 12, as may be seen by any one who will peruse the proceedings of January last. Congress has since declined to give countenance to Mr. Jay’s letter; for tho’ he had a public authority for writing a letter to Mr. Gerard, he had no authority for the reflections he used; besides which, the letter would be perfectly laughable were every circumstance known which happened at that particular time, and would likewise show how exceedingly delicate and cautious a President ought to be when he means to act officially in cases he is not sufficiently acquainted with.”
Every person will perceive that the note which explains the letter referred to, is not a part of the letter from Paris, but is added by another person; and Mr. Jay, or any other Gentleman, is welcome to know that the note is in my writing, and that the original letter from Paris is now in my possession. I had sufficient authority for the expressions used in the note. Mr. Jay did not lay his letter to Mr. Gerard before Congress previous to his sending it, and therefore, tho’ he had their order, he had not their approbation. They, it is true, ordered it to be published, but there is no vote for approving it, neither have they given it a place in their Journals, nor was it published in any more than one paper in this city (Benjamin Towne’s), tho’ there were at that time two others. Some time after Mr. Jay’s letter appeared in the paper, I addressed another to Congress, complaining of the unjust liberty he had taken, and desired to know whether I was to consider the expressions used in his letter as containing their sentiments, at the same time informing them, that if they declined to prove what he had written, I should consider their silence as a disapprobation of it. Congress chose to be silent; and consequently, have left Mr. Jay to father his own expressions.
I took no other notice of Mr. Jay’s letter at the time it was published, being fully persuaded that when any man recollected the part I had acted, not only at the first but in the worst of times, he could but look on Mr. Jay’s letter to be groundless and ungrateful, and the more so, because if America had had no better friends than himself to bring about independance, I fully believe she would never have succeeded in it, and in all probability been a ruined, conquered and tributary country.
Let any man look at the position America was in at the time I first took up the subject, and published Common Sense, which was but a few months before the declaration of Independance; an army of thirty thousand men coming out against her, besides those which were already here, and she without either an object or a system; fighting, she scarcely knew for what, and which, if she could have obtained, would have done her no good. She had not a day to spare in bringing about the only thing which could save her. A REVOLUTION, yet no one measure was taken to promote it, and many were used to prevent it; and had independance not been declared at the time it was, I cannot see any time in which it could have been declared, as the train of ill-successes which followed the affair of Long Island left no future opportunity.
Had I been disposed to have made money, I undoubtedly had many opportunities for it. The single pamphlet Common Sense, would at that time of day, have produced a tolerable fortune, had I only taken the same profits from the publication which all writers had ever done, because the sale was the most rapid and extensive of any thing that was ever published in this country, or perhaps any other. Instead of which I reduced the price so low, that instead of getting, I yet stand thirty-nine pounds eleven shillings out of pocket on Mr. Bradford’s books, exclusive of my time and trouble, and I have acted the same disinterested part by every publication I have made. I could have mentioned those things long ago, had I chosen, but I mention them now to make Mr. Jay feel his ingratitude.
In the Pennsylvania Packet of last Tuesday some person has republished Mr. Jay’s letter, and Mr. Gerard’s answer of the 13th and 14th January last, and though I was patiently silent upon their first publication, I now think it necessary, since they are republished, to give some circumstances which ought to go with them.
At the time the dispute arose, respecting Mr. Deane’s affairs, I had a conference with Mr. Gerard at his own request, and some matters on that subject were freely talked over, which it is here unnecessary to mention. This was on the 2d of January.
On the evening of the same day, or the next, Mr. Gerard, thro’ the mediation of another gentleman, made me a very genteel and profitable offer. I felt at once the respect due to his friendship, and the difficulties which my acceptance would subject me to. My whole credit was staked upon going through with Deane’s affairs, and could I afterwards have written with the pen of an Angel, on any subject whatever, it would have had no effect, had I failed in that or declined proceeding in it. Mr. Deane’s name was not mentioned at the time the offer was made, but from some conversation which passed at the time of the interview, I had sufficient reason to believe that some restraint had been laid on that Subject. Besides which I have a natural inflexible objection to any thing which may be construed into a private pension, because a man after that is no longer truly free.
My answer to the offer was precisely in these words—“Any service I can render to either of the countries in alliance, or to both, I ever have done and shall readily do, and Mr. Gerard’s esteem will be the only recompense I shall desire.” I particularly chose the word esteem because it admitted no misunderstanding.
On the fifth of January I published a continuation of my remarks on Mr. Deane’s affairs, and I have ever felt the highest respect for a nation which has in every stage of our affairs been our firm and invariable friend. I spoke of France under that general description. It is true I prosecuted the point against Mr. Deane, but what was Mr. Deane to France, or to the Minister of France?
On the appearance of this publication Mr. Gerard presented a Memorial to Congress respecting some expressions used therein, and on the 6th and 7th I requested of Congress to be admitted to explain any passages which Mr. Gerard had referred to; but this request not being complied with, I, on the 8th, sent in my resignations of the office of Secretary to the Committee of Foreign Affairs.
In the evening I received an invitation to sup with a gentleman, and Mr. Gerard’s offer was, by his own authority, again renewed with considerable additions of advantage. I gave the same answer as before. I was then told that Mr. Gerard was very ill, and desired to see me. I replied, “That as a matter was then depending in Congress upon a representation of Mr. Gerard against some parts of my publications, I thought it indelicate to wait on him till that was determined.”
In a few days after I received a second invitation, and likewise a third, to sup at the same place, in both of which the same offer and the same invitation were renewed and the same answers on my part were given: But being repeatedly pressed to make Mr. Gerard a visit, I engaged to do it the next morning at ten o’clock: but as I considered myself standing on a nice and critical ground, and lest my reputation should be afterwards called in question, I judged it best to communicate the whole matter to an honorable friend before I went, which was on the 14th of January, the very day on which Mr. Gerard’s answer to Mr. Jay’s letter is dated.
While with Mr. Gerard I avoided as much as possible every occasion that might give rise to the subject. Himself once or twice hinted at the publications and added that, “he hoped no more would be said on the subject,” which I immediately waived by entering on the loss of the dispatches. I knew my own resolution respecting the offer, had communicated that resolution to a friend, and did not wish to give the least pain to Mr. Gerard, by personally refusing that, which, from him might be friendship, but to me would have been the ruin of my credit. At a convenient opportunity I rose to take my leave, on which Mr. Gerard said “Mr. Paine, I have always had a great respect for you, and should be glad of some opportunity of shewing you more solid marks of my friendship.”
I confess I felt myself hurt and exceedingly concerned that the injustice and indiscretion of a party in Congress should drive matters to such an extremity that one side or other must go to the bottom, and in its consequences embarrass those whom they had drawn in to support them. I am conscious that America had not in France a more strenuous friend than Mr. Gerard, and I sincerely wish he had found a way to avoid an affair which has been much trouble to him. As for Deane, I believe him to be a man who cares not who he involves to screen himself. He has forfeited all reputation in this Country, first by promising to give an “history of matters important for the people to know” and then not only failing to perform that promise, but neglecting to clear his own suspected reputation, though he is now on the spot and can any day demand an hearing of Congress, and call me before them for the truth of what I have published respecting him.
Two days after my visit to Mr. Gerard, Mr. Jay’s letter and the answer to it was published, and I would candidly ask any man how it is possible to reconcile such letters to such offers both done at one and the same time, and whether I had not sufficient authority to say that Mr. Jay’s letter would be truly laughable, were all the circumstances known which happened at the time of his writing.
Whoever published those letters in last Tuesday’s paper, must be an idiot or worse. I had let them pass over without any other public notice than what was contained in the note of the preceding week, but the republishing them was putting me to defiance, and forcing me either to submit to them afresh, or to give the circumstances which accompanied them. Whoever will look back to last Winter, must see I had my hands full, and that without any person giving the least assistance. It was first given out that I was paid by Congress for vindicating their reputation against Mr. Deane’s charges, yet a majority in that House were every day pelting me for what I was doing. Then Mr. Gerard was unfortunately brought in, and Mr. Jay’s letter to him and his answer were published to effect some purpose or other. Yet Mr. Gerard was at the same time making the warmest professions of friendship to me, and proposing to take me into his confidence with very liberal offers. In short I had but one way to get thro’, which was to keep close to the point and principle I set out upon, and that alone has rendered me successful. By making this my guide I have kept my ground, and I have yet ground to spare, for among other things I have authentic copies of the dispatches that were lost.
I am certain no man set out with a warmer heart or a better disposition to render public service than myself, in everything which laid in my power. My first endeavour was to put the politics of the country right, and to show the advantages as well as the necessity of independance: and until this was done, independance never could have succeeded. America did not at that time understand her own situation; and though the country was then full of writers, no one reached the mark; neither did I abate in my service, when hundreds were afterwards deserting her interest and thousands afraid to speak, for the first number of the Crisis was published in the blackest stage of affairs, six days before the taking the Hessians at Trenton. When this State was distracted by parties on account of her Constitution, I endeavored in the most disinterested manner to bring it to a conclusion; and when Deane’s impositions broke out, and threw the whole States into confusion, I readily took up the subject, for no one else understood it, and the country now see that I was right. And if Mr. Jay thinks he derives any credit from his letter to Mr. Gerard, he will find himself deceived, and that the ingratitude of the composition will be his reproach not mine.