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Philadelphia, Monday, 8 September, 1777.
THERE has been a very general apprehension during
A general action which should terminate in a defeat of Howe, would be complete and final ruin to him. If it should terminate only in a drawn battle, it would be the same thing. If he should gain a victory and
maintain possession of the field, he would lose so many men killed and wounded, that he would scarcely have enough left to march to Philadelphia, surrounded as he would be with militia and the broken remains of the continental army. But if there should be no general battle, and the two armies should lounge away the remainder of the campaign in silent inactivity, gazing at each other, Howe's reputation would be ruined in his own country and in all Europe, and the dread of him would cease in all America. The American mind, which, I think, has more firmness now, than it ever had before, since this war began, would acquire a confidence and strength, that all the efforts of Great Britain afterwards would not be able to relax.
You will see by the papers enclosed that we have been obliged to attempt to humble the pride of some Jesuits, who call themselves Quakers,' but who love money and land better than liberty or religion. The hypocrites are endeavoring to raise the cry of persecution, and to give this matter a religious turn, but they can't succeed. The world knows them and their communications. Actuated by a land-jobbing spirit like that of William Penn, they have been so
1 See Journals of Congress for the 28th of August, and Gordon's History, Vol. ii. p. 505.
General Sullivan, when on an expedition to Staten Island, captured certain papers belonging to the Quakers, which were sent by him to Congress, and by that body referred to a committee of three, Mr. J. Adams, Mr. Duer, and Mr. R. H. Lee, who reported on the afternoon of the same day.
liciting grants of immense regions of land on the Ohio. American independence has disappointed them, which makes them hate it. Yet the dastards dare not avow their hatred to it, it seems.
The moments are critical here. We know not but the next will bring us an account of a general engagement begun, and when once begun, we know not how it will end, for the battle is not always to the strong. The events of war are uncertain. All that we can do is to pray, as I do most devoutly, that we may be victorious; at least, that we may not be vanquished. But if it should be the will of Heaven that our army should be defeated, our artillery lost, our best generals killed, and Philadelphia fall into Mr. Howe's hands, still America is not conquered. America would yet be possessed of great resources, and capable of great exertions, as mankind would see. It may, for what I know be the design of Providence that this should be the case. Because it would only lay the foundations of American independence deeper, and cement them stronger. It would cure Americans of their vicious and luxurious and effeminate appetites, passions and habits, a more dangerous army to American liberty than Mr. Howe's.
However, without the loss of Philadelphia we must be brought to an entire renunciation of foreign commodities, at least of West India produce. People are coming to this resolution very fast here. Loaf sugar at four dollars a pound, wine at three dollars a bottle, &c., will soon introduce economy in the use of these articles. This spirit of economy would be more ter