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them before they are reïnforced," * I should be happy indeed.
* Our strength now is trifling. It is to be regretted that the cause
Gen. Washington to Patrick Henry, Governor of Virginia, April 13.
A horrid faction has been forming, to ruin His Excellency, and
• See upon what a monstrous principle the General is persecuted.
Marquis Lafayette to Baron Steuben, Albany, March 12.
'I am the more happy in giving you this opinion of my friend, with
all the sincerity which I feel, because some persons may perhaps attempt to deceive you on this subject.'
Gen. Washington 10 John Banister, in Congress, April 21. The other point is the jealousy which Congress, unhappily entertain of the army
If we would pursue a right system of policy, in my opinion, there should be none of these distinctions. We shall, Congress and army, be considered as one people, embarked in one cause, in one interest; acting on the same principle, and to the same end.
It is unjust, because no order of men in the Thirteen States has paid a more sacred regard to the proceedings of Congress, than the army.
Things should not be viewed in that light, more es. pecially, as Congress have relieved injuries complained of, which had flowed from their own acts.' To Benjamin Harrison, Speaker of the House of Delegates of Virginia, Dec. 18th.
My conception of the matter impresses it too strongly upon me, that the States separately, are too much engaged in their local concerns,
In a word, I think our political system may be compared to the mechanism of a clock, and that we should derive a lesson from it, for it answers no good purpose to keep the smaller wheels in order, if the greater one, which is the support and prime mover of the whole, is neglected.'
"To the same, Dec 30th. I confess to you, that I feel more real distress, on account of the present appearances of things, than I have done at any one time since the commencement of the dispute. But,
Provi. dence has heretofore taken us up, when all other means and hope seemed to be departing from us.
In this I will confide.'
1779. Marquis Lafayette, in France, to Gen. Washington, June 12th. Inclosed I send your Excellency a copy of my letter to Congress.
'For God's sake prevent their loudly disputing together. Nothing hurts so much the interest and reputation of America, as to hear of their intestine quarrels.'
. Gen. Sullivan to Gen. Washington, Dec. — * Permit me to inform your Excellency, that the faction raised against you in 1777,
is not yet destroyed. I speak not from conjecture, but from certain knowledge. Their plan is to take every method of proving the danger arising from a Commander, who enjoys the full and unlimited confidence of his army.
'The next stage is, to persuade Congress that the military power should be placed in three or four different hands.
This they say will prevent an aspiring commander from enslaving his country.
This is a refinement in politics, and an improvement on public virtue, which Greece and Rome could never boast.'
1780. Gen. Washington to Joseph Jones, in Congress, May 31st. We can no longer drudge on in the old way. By ill-timing the adoption of measures, by delays in the execution of them, or by un. warrantable jealousies, we incur enormous expenses and derive no benefit from them.
We are always working up hill. * This, my dear sir, is plain language to a member of Congress; but it is the language of truth and friendship. It is the result of long thinking, close application, and strict observation. I see one head gradually changing into thirteen. I see one army branching into thir. teen,
and I am fearful of the consequences.'
Joseph Jones, to Gen. Washington, June · Congress have been gradually surrendering or throwing upon the several States the exercise of powers,
till at length they have scarcely a power left, but such as concerns foreign nations ; for, as to the army, Congress is at present little more than the medium through which the wants of the army are conveyed to the States.'
In Lafayette's Memoir he said :-" Lafayette succeeded in gaining pecuniary succors, which were placed at the disposal of General Washington; for it was upon that General that reposed the whole confidence of the Government, and the hopes of the French nation.”
Gen. Washington to John Matthews, in Congress, Oct. 14th. From long experience and the fullest conviction, I have been and now am decidedly in favor of a permanent force; but, knowing the jealousies which have been entertained on this head (Heaven knows how unjustly) and THAT THE POLITICAL HELM WAS IN ANOTHER DIRECTION, I forebore to express my sentiments for a time; but, at a moment when we are tottering on the brink of a precipice, silence would have been criminal.'
• To James Duane, in Congress, Oct. 14th. It also gives me pain to find, that the pernicious State system is still adhered to, by leaving the reduction and incorporation of the reg. iments to the particular States. This is one of the greatest evils of our affairs.
The history of the war is a history of false hopes and temporary expedients. Would to God they were to end here.
1781. Lafayette to the French Secretary of Foreigh Affairs, Jan. 30th. • The last campaign took place without a shilling having been spent;
that miracle, of which I believe no similar example can be found, cannot be renewed..
It would take too long to examine the faults that have been committed,
money is requisite, to derive any advantage from the American resources.'
Gen. Washington to John Parke Custis, of the Virginia Assembly, Feb. 28th.
'In a word, for it is unnecessary to go into all the reasons the subject will admit of, we have brought a cause, which might have been happily terminated years ago by the adoption of proper measures, to the very verge of ruin by temporary enlistments and a reliance on militia.'
R. H. Lee to some members of Congress. June 12th. 'Let Gen. Washington be immediately sent to Virginia, with two or three thousand troops. Let Congress as the Head of the Federal Union in this crisis, direct, that, until a Legislature can convene, and a Governor be appointed, the General be possessed of dictatorial powers,
and that the General may be desired instantly on his arrival in Virginia, to summon the members of both Houses to meet where he shall appoint, to organize and resettle their Government.' 'Gen. Washington to Gen. Greene, Commander of the Southern army. York Town,
Oct. 6th. I can say with sincerity, that I feel in the highest degree, the good effects which you mention, as resulting from the perfect good understanding between you, the Marquis and myself. I hope it will never be interrupted; and I am sure it never can, while we are influenced by the same pure motives, that of love to our country, and interest in the cause in which we are embarked. I have happily had but few differences with those with whom I have had the honor of being connected in the services with whom and of what nature those have been you know. I bore much for the sake of peace and the public good — my conscience tells me, I acted right in those transactions, and should they ever come to the knowledge of the world, I TRUST I SHALL BE ACQUITTED BY IT.'
To the same; March 18th. 'I am not, however without hopes, that matters will be put into a much better train than they have hitherto been. The arrangements made already, by the superintendant of Finance have been attended with infinite public advantages, and he is attending those arrangements as fast as circumstances will possibly admit. I am sorry to see a jealousy arising from a supposition that there has been a partiality of conduct. I am certain there has been no such intention, and instead of a charge of having done too little, it will soon be a matter of wonder how Mr. Morris has done so much with so small means.'
1783. To Alexander Hamilton, in Congress, March 31. * Dear Sir: I have duly received your favors of the 17th and 24th. I rejoice most exceedingly that there is an end of our warfare, and that such a field is opening to our view, as will, with wisdom to direct the cultivation of it, make us a great, a respectable, and a happy people; but it must be improved by other means than State politics, and unreasonable jealousies and prejudices.
My wish to see the Union of these States established upon liberal and permanent principles, and inclination to contribute my mite in pointing out the defects of the present Constitution, are equally great.
No man in the United States is or can be more deeply impressed with the necessity of a reformation in our present Confederation than myself. For to the defects thereof, and want of power in Congress, may justly be ascribed the prolongation of the war, and consequently the expenses occasioned by it. More than half the perplexities I have experienced in the course of my command, and almost ihe whole of the difficulties and distress of the army, have had their origin here.
1784. "To Benjamin Harrison, Governor of Virginia. · Mount Vernon, 18th Jan.— That the prospect before us is, as you justly observe, fair, none can deny; but whai use we shall make of it is extremely problematical; not but that I believe all things will come right at last, but
we shall wanton and run riot until we have brought our reputation to the brink of ruin, and thenshall have to labor with the current of opinion, when compelled per. haps to do what prudence and common policy pointed out, as plain as any problem in Euclid, in the first instance.
The disinclination of the individual States to yield competent pow. ers to Congress for the Federal Government, their unreasonable jeal. ousy of that body and of one another, and the disposition which seems to pervade each, of being all-wise and all-powerful within itself, will, if there is not a change in the system, be our downfall as a nation. This is as clear to me as A, B, C; and I think we have opposed Great Britain, and have arrived at the present state of independency,
little purpose, if we cannot conquer our own prejudices.'
1787. In Mr. Madison's Reports of the Proceedings of the Convention who formed our present Constitution ; he stated as follows:
May 29th.-MR. RANDOLPH, opened the main business.
He commented on the difficulty of the crisis, and the necessity of preventing the fulfilment of the prophesies of the American downfall.
He proceeded to enumerate the defects of the (Confederation.) * That the Federal Government would not check the quarrel between States, nor a rebellion in any.
. That it could not defend itself against the encroachments from the States.
• That it was not even paramount to the State Constitutions, ratified as it was in many of the States.
• He next reviewed the danger of our situation, and appealed to the sense of the best friends of the United States—to the prospect of anarchy from the laxity of Government every where.'
The above extracts exemplify the form of this work. Accordingly this effort to communicate adequate knowledge of principles, agencies, and influences so important, is made by means immediately derived from the only infallible records of them. From these records, to the extent within the editor's power, have been selected, and presented in the following pages, such portions as appeared most conducive to the end proposed.
The design comprises three volumes, which, for the greater diffusion of its benefits, will be published in numbers. To each volume will be appended, besides an index, a brief review of its contents and such other matter as may be considered appropriate.