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was obligatory upon the body who adopted it, and derived their authority from it, and became to them a written Constitution, prescribing and limiting their functions.
Though not strictly in the order of time, it may be added here, that these articles of confederation were ratified by all the States, except New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland, before June, 1778. New Jersey ratified in November of that year, after a vain effort to procure some important modifications; Delaware did not assent until the 22d of February, 1779. Maryland, who had, with Delaware, in sisted on an amendment, securing the Western lands for the benefit of all the States, adhered to her resolution much longer, and carried on an intermediate controversy with Virginia on the subject. She, however, never delayed in her exertions in support of the war, and finally acceded to the Confederation in March, 1781. She protested that her consent was given because " the common enemy" was encouraged by her refusal, and because her “friend and illustrious ally' (France) believed her accession would greatly benefit the common cause." She declared at the same time, that " by ratifying the articles of Confederation, she did not relinquish, or intend to relinquish, her interest with the other confederated States to the Western territory."
The necessity of adopting some system of action in Congress had been forced upon them in the summer of 1777, by the confusion which prevailed throughout the public service. The want of system had not only endangered
the organization of the army, upon which the defence of the country relied, but had contributed essentially to impose upon Congress the adoption of that unwise financial policy, and those harsh expedients which affected the currency so fatally. The departments of the Commissary General and the Quarter-Master General were not well organized, and what they could have effected in the procuring of supplies was obstructed by the pernicious interference of Congress in the regulation of prices. The depreciation of the bills of credit, which had been profusely emitted during the first years of the war, was alarming, and the remedies proposed were false in principle and most unjust in effect. The three millions that had been issued in 1775 had been increased, by successive emissions, until the amount reached to near a hundred millions, for which the faith of the States was pledged; but no means were provided for its redemption, or to give a prospect of
eventual security to the holders. Without commerce, with state governments but imperfectly organized, and no common government for the whole, it would have been imprudent to call for taxes, even had there been a superintending authority to prescribe and collect them; foreign trade was totally extinct, and Congress had no other resource but unlimited promises, contingent not only upon the successful issue of
but the subsequent formation of an efficient government, and the untried ability of the country in times of peace and independence. Depreciation of this paper was the unavoidable consequence. It was seriously felt in the beginning of 1777. To counteract it, Congress, in January, provided a law, making the bills a tender in payment in all public and private business, and declaring the refusal to receive it as such, to be the extinguishment of the debt. Whoever refused to receive it at par, in exchange for any articles of property whatever, was denounced as an enemy to his country. These wild and dangerous measures only served to accelerate the mischief by enhancing prices enormously, and Congress accordingly, proceeding in the same coercive measures, and attributing to hostile feelings, or the desire to speculate on the public distress, what was the real effect of their own measures, and the impoverished state of the country, resorted to still stronger and indefensible expedients. They procured the establishment in the States of laws regulating the price of labor, and of all exchangeable commodities. If any persons refused to sell, the purchasing commissaries were authorized to seize upon all surplus beyond a given quantity, at the prices so fixed. This arbitrary sys. d tem drove every thing out of the public market. Citizens secreted their effects and intermitted their industry, and the public embarrassments increased instead of diminishing. An exhausted country was goaded by such palpable wrong, and by the unerring instincts of self-preservation, to obstruct the furnishing of what was absolutely required by the public necessities. In November, 1778, about the time of the adoption of the articles of Confederation, an effort was made to alter the system of finance, by raising the necessary sums from the States in the form of taxes. Five millions were apportioned among them, to be raised within the year; the amount to be funded until the final settlement, at an interest of six per cent. But the expedient succeeded badly. Little attention was paid to the regulation, and the old sys
tem continued to produce public distress and embarrassment, and private suffering and injury, until the end of the
These depreciations of the currency aggravated the deficient arrangement and mal-administration of the army departments charged with supplying the soldiers with arms and provisions. The want of subordination and accountability was the chief evil, and produced perpetual confusion. The remonstrances of Washington were frequent and urgent, against the existing modes of transacting business, until
Congress, towards the close of the year, deputed a commit-tee to examine into the subject, at head-quarters. The re
sult of the interview was the reorganization, early in the next year, of the departments of Commissary General and Quarter-Master General. General Greene was made QuarterMaster General, and Colonel Wadsworth Commissary General. The deputies who had before been appointed by Congress, and made accountable only to them, were put under the control of the heads of department. This reform was followed by rapid improvements in the management of those branches of the public service; but unhappily the effect was
not felt until after the army had suffered the extreme privautions of that terrible winter at Valley Forge.
At the same time the just complaints of the officers of the darmy, which had been repeatedly pressed upon Congress,
received some attention. Oppressed with want, overwhelmed with debt, and unable from the degraded currency and their scanty pay, to preserve a decent exterior, or provide the common comforts of existence, they had, time after time, called for a more liberal and permanent provision. Many of them had resigned, and more threatened to do so, unless their grievances were redressed. A tardy and ungracious grant of half-pay for life was voted to them, which, by subsequent resolutions, was restricted to seven years from the end of the war. It served for a while to lessen the complaints of the officers, though it was far from affording them substantial relief or permanent satisfaction. On the last day of the year, Congress voted a gratuity of one month's extra pay to the officers and soldiers in the army of Washington, as a reward for the patience, fidelity, and zeal with which they had borne up under the dangers and fatigues of the campaign.
But a greater calamity than depreciated credit, discon
tented officers, a disordered and exhausted army, and an impoverished people, threatened the American cause, at the close of the year 1777. Machinations were on foot among powerful and popular leaders in Congress and in the army, for displacing Washington from the command and elevating General Gates to that station. The brilliant result of the Northern campaign, and the glorious victory of Saratoga, were contrasted with the reverses in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, since the commencement of the war, to the disparagement of the military reputation of Washington. Anonymous and vague charges were soon followed by loud murmurs and open accusations among the partizans of the discontented; letters were freely circulated impeaching the integrity and ability of Washington; and pieces published in the newspapers, expressing dissatisfaction at his mode of conducting the war, and calling for his removal and the substitution of Gates. Some of the State legislatures joined in the movement. That of Pennsylvania addressed a remonstrance to Congress against his conduct of the campaign, when he retired into winter-quarters. Generals Mifflin and Conway, and probably Gates himself, were parties to these intrigues. Before their aim was fully discovered, they had succeeded in establishing a board of war, of which Gates and Mifflin were members, which undertook to act in opposition to the commander-in-chief. Conway obtained the appointment of Inspector-general of the army; and the opponents of Washington for a while seemed to have assumed the lead in public affairs, and superseded him in the confidence of his country. Under their direction, and contrary to his remonstrances, they projected a new expedition into Canada, of which they assigned the lead to the Marquis La Fayette. On his arrival at Albany, where he was directed to take command, he found nothing prepared for the expedition. On his complaint to Congress, he was recalled and the scheme abandoned.
The develop ment of these plans showed how widely the conspirators had mistaken public sentiment, if they had hoped
to be sustained in their projected removal of Washington. The indignation became so great, even among the troops under the imme. diate command of Gates, that it was with difficulty appeased. The principal intriguers were forced to withdraw from public view, to save themselves from the resentment of the sok diers. Conway resigned his commission, and subsequently
fought a duel with General Cadwalader, in which he was : wounded, as he believed, mortally; he wrote a penitential letter to Washington, expressing his grief for the injury he had attempted to do. “You are," said he, “in my eyes, the great and good man-may you long enjoy the love, veneration, and esteem of these States, whose liberties you have asserted by your virtues.” The resignation of Conway enabled Washington to fill that office with his friend, Baron Steuben, a Prussian officer of great capacity, who had served in the army of the Great Frederick.
During the progress of these intrigues, Washington was fully advised of all that was designed and attempted against him. His private letters and public communications, spoke the same magnanimous and moderate spirit, which confer more true lustre on his character than his splendid military genius. Even when Congress seemed almost ready to abandon him to the fury of his detractors, he never for a moment forgot the calm dignity of conscious rectitude, never was betrayed into a word or an act of petulance or irritability, and never relaxed the devotion of his entire faculties to the service of his country. Although deeply wounded in his feelings, he stifled his resentments, and forbore to use the means of exculpation in his own hands, lest the disclosure might injure the common cause. As the crisis showed him maintaining his serenity in the midst of trials, so his triumph in the discomfiture of his enemies was signalized by delicate forbearance and generous forgiveness of injuries. The vindication of his own character and the recognition in so unequivocal a manner of his claims to the admiration and affection of his country, touching as they must have been to his feelings, were secondary in his estimation to the great benefits of restored confidence and reunited counsels to the liberties of America.
Never were united counsels, mutual forbearance, and untiring energy more required than for the management of American affairs during that winter. None of the reforms in the army, dictated by necessity, began to relieve the embarrassments of the Commander-in-chief, or diminish materially the sufferings of the army, until some months of their encampment at Valley Forge had passed. A faithful picture of all they endured there by hunger and
clothing, of forage, food, and tents, would display a scene not more striking for its unparalleled hardships, than for the con