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The English packet which was taken with the mail on board,
and carried into l'Orient, in France, contained letters from Lord G.
Germaine to Sir Henry Clinton, which expressed in the fullest terms the
ministerial idea of a total conquest. Copies of those letters were sent
to congress and published in the newspapers of last year. Colonel
[John] Laurens brought over the originals, some of which, signed in the
handwriting of the then secretary, Germaine, are now in my possession.

Filled with these high ideas, nothing could be more insolent towards
America than the language of the British court on the proposed
mediation. A peace with France and Spain she anxiously solicited; but
America, as before, was to be left to her mercy, neither would she hear
any proposition for admitting an agent from the United States into the
congress of Vienna.

On the other hand, France, with an open, noble and manly determination,
and a fidelity of a good ally, would hear no proposition for a separate
peace, nor even meet in congress at Vienna, without an agent from
America: and likewise that the independent character of the United
States, represented by the agent, should be fully and unequivocally
defined and settled before any conference should be entered on. The
reasoning of the court of France on the several propositions of the
two imperial courts, which relate to us, is rather in the style of an
American than an ally, and she advocated the cause of America as if she
had been America herself.--Thus the second mediation, like the first,
proved ineffectual. But since that time, a reverse of fortune has
overtaken the British arms, and all their high expectations are dashed
to the ground. The noble exertions to the southward under General
[Nathaniel] Greene; the successful operations of the allied arms in the
Chesapeake; the loss of most of their islands in the West Indies, and
Minorca in the Mediterranean; the persevering spirit of Spain against
Gibraltar; the expected capture of Jamaica; the failure of making a
separate peace with Holland, and the expense of an hundred millions
sterling, by which all these fine losses were obtained, have read them
a loud lesson of disgraceful misfortune and necessity has called on them
to change their ground.

In this situation of confusion and despair, their present councils have
no fixed character. It is now the hurricane months of British politics.
Every day seems to have a storm of its own, and they are scudding under
the bare poles of hope. Beaten, but not humble; condemned, but not
penitent; they act like men trembling at fate and catching at a straw.
From this convulsion, in the entrails of their politics, it is more than
probable, that the mountain groaning in labor, will bring forth a mouse,
as to its size, and a monster in its make. They will try on America the
same insidious arts they tried on France and Spain.

We sometimes experience sensations to which language is not equal.
The conception is too bulky to be born alive, and in the torture of
thinking, we stand dumb. Our feelings, imprisoned by their magnitude,
find no way out--and, in the struggle of expression, every finger tries
to be a tongue. The machinery of the body seems too little for the mind,
and we look about for helps to show our thoughts by. Such must be the
sensation of America, whenever Britain, teeming with corruption, shall
propose to her to sacrifice her faith.

But, exclusive of the wickedness, there is a personal offence contained
in every such attempt. It is calling us villains: for no man asks the
other to act the villain unless he believes him inclined to be one.
No man attempts to seduce the truly honest woman. It is the supposed
looseness of her mind that starts the thoughts of seduction, and he who
offers it calls her a prostitute. Our pride is always hurt by the same
propositions which offend our principles; for when we are shocked at the
crime, we are wounded by the suspicion of our compliance.

Could I convey a thought that might serve to regulate the public mind,
I would not make the interest of the alliance the basis of defending
it. All the world are moved by interest, and it affords them nothing to
boast of. But I would go a step higher, and defend it on the ground of
honor and principle. That our public affairs have flourished under the
alliance--that it was wisely made, and has been nobly executed--that by
its assistance we are enabled to preserve our country from conquest, and
expel those who sought our destruction--that it is our true interest to
maintain it unimpaired, and that while we do so no enemy can conquer
us, are matters which experience has taught us, and the common good of
ourselves, abstracted from principles of faith and honor, would lead us
to maintain the connection.

But over and above the mere letter of the alliance, we have been nobly
and generously treated, and have had the same respect and attention paid
to us, as if we had been an old established country. To oblige and
be obliged is fair work among mankind, and we want an opportunity of
showing to the world that we are a people sensible of kindness and
worthy of confidence. Character is to us, in our present circumstances,
of more importance than interest. We are a young nation, just stepping
upon the stage of public life, and the eye of the world is upon us
to see how we act. We have an enemy who is watching to destroy our
reputation, and who will go any length to gain some evidence against
us, that may serve to render our conduct suspected, and our character
odious; because, could she accomplish this, wicked as it is, the world
would withdraw from us, as from a people not to be trusted, and our task
would then become difficult. There is nothing which sets the character
of a nation in a higher or lower light with others, than the faithfully
fulfilling, or perfidiously breaking, of treaties. They are things not
to be tampered with: and should Britain, which seems very probable,
propose to seduce America into such an act of baseness, it would
merit from her some mark of unusual detestation. It is one of those
extraordinary instances in which we ought not to be contented with the
bare negative of Congress, because it is an affront on the multitude as
well as on the government. It goes on the supposition that the public
are not honest men, and that they may be managed by contrivance, though
they cannot be conquered by arms. But, let the world and Britain know,
that we are neither to be bought nor sold; that our mind is great and
fixed; our prospect clear; and that we will support our character as
firmly as our independence.

But I will go still further; General Conway, who made the motion, in
the British Parliament, for discontinuing offensive war in America, is a
gentleman of an amiable character. We have no personal quarrel with him.
But he feels not as we feel; he is not in our situation, and that alone,
without any other explanation, is enough. The British Parliament suppose
they have many friends in America, and that, when all chance of conquest
is over, they will be able to draw her from her alliance with France.
Now, if I have any conception of the human heart, they will fail in this
more than in any thing that they have yet tried.

This part of the business is not a question of policy only, but of honor
and honesty; and the proposition will have in it something so visibly
low and base, that their partisans, if they have any, will be ashamed of
it. Men are often hurt by a mean action who are not startled at a wicked
one, and this will be such a confession of inability, such a declaration
of servile thinking, that the scandal of it will ruin all their hopes.

In short, we have nothing to do but to go on with vigor and
determination. The enemy is yet in our country. They hold New York,
Charleston, and Savannah, and the very being in those places is an
offence, and a part of offensive war, and until they can be driven from
them, or captured in them, it would be folly in us to listen to an idle
tale. I take it for granted that the British ministry are sinking under
the impossibility of carrying on the war. Let them then come to a fair
and open peace with France, Spain, Holland and America, in the manner
they ought to do; but until then, we can have nothing to say to them.

COMMON SENSE.

PHILADELPHIA, May 22, 1782.



A SUPERNUMERARY CRISIS

TO SIR GUY CARLETON.

IT is the nature of compassion to associate with misfortune; and I
address this to you in behalf even of an enemy, a captain in the British
service, now on his way to the headquarters of the American army, and
unfortunately doomed to death for a crime not his own. A sentence so
extraordinary, an execution so repugnant to every human sensation, ought
never to be told without the circumstances which produced it: and as the
destined victim is yet in existence, and in your hands rests his life or
death, I shall briefly state the case, and the melancholy consequence.

Captain Huddy, of the Jersey militia, was attacked in a small fort on
Tom's River, by a party of refugees in the British pay and service, was
made prisoner, together with his company, carried to New York and lodged
in the provost of that city: about three weeks after which, he was taken
out of the provost down to the water-side, put into a boat, and brought
again upon the Jersey shore, and there, contrary to the practice of all
nations but savages, was hung up on a tree, and left hanging till found
by our people who took him down and buried him. The inhabitants of that
part of the country where the murder was committed, sent a deputation
to General Washington with a full and certified statement of the fact.
Struck, as every human breast must be, with such brutish outrage, and
determined both to punish and prevent it for the future, the General
represented the case to General Clinton, who then commanded, and
demanded that the refugee officer who ordered and attended the
execution, and whose name is Lippencott, should be delivered up as
a murderer; and in case of refusal, that the person of some British
officer should suffer in his stead.



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