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on the States of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, The first only could be depended upon, in consequence of the exhausted condition of the others, from the depredations of the enemy and the necessary impressments by the Ameri. can army. The State authorities committed the collection of this article to Robert Morris, to whom, under a new financial system, the treasury concerns of the United States had been entrusted. He assumed the collection of the taxes, and contracted to furnish the flour. His personal credit and large means were freely used to sustain the government, and the supplies were duly furnished. In the course of the year the Bank of North America, established under his care, is believed to have had a beneficial influence upon
currency and on public credit. Foreign pecuniary aid was at last obtained in a substantial form, in time to facilitate the operations of the eventful campaign of 1781. Franklin obtained from the French king a gift of six millions of livres, and a loan of ten millions. The efforts of Mr. Adams to obtain a loan in Holland were ineffectual, until the French king engaged to guarantee the repayment. Ten millions of livres were raised there. These sums, partly in specie and partly in clothing and arms, served essentially to maintain the armies by which the brilliant and decisive campaign of 1781 was fought.
Spain refused all pecuniary aid, though solicited earnestly by the American minister, Mr. Jay, except upon such terms as manifested a disposition to take ungenerous advantage of the pecuniary difficulties of the Americans. The Spanish court had not acceded to the treaties between France and the United States, nor acknowledged the Independence of the latter. Their minister was, therefore, not recognized, and was subjected to numerous mortifications and embarrassments. The bills drawn upon him by Congress would have been dishonoured, although the Spanish minister had undertaken to assist him, but for the aid of Dr. Franklin at Paris. The Spanish court would furnish the money only in return for an acknowledgment of the right of Spain to the Mississippi, and the territory west of the Alleghanys, claim which Mr. Jay firmly resisted. No terms could be agreed upon satisfactory to either party, and the negotiation was not completed until its final transfer to Paris at the close of the war. 1
di 9 WIN! » Holland, at the time of the loan, was at open war, with
England. The relations between the States General and the United States are intimately connected with the causes of he rupture between the former and Great Britain. Jealousy of the great naval superiority of Britain, and distaste of the arrogance with which that superiority was asserted, were permanent causes of coolness between the two countries. The peculiar commercial character of the Dutch made them regard with repugnance the vexatious interruptions to trade caused by the system of maritime laws with regard to neutral rights, maintained by the British government, and enforced by her powerful navy. It has been seen that they gave encouragement to American privateers, and refused to interfere when the British minister, Yorke, demanded the surrender of Paul Jones, when that officer carried the captured Serapis into the Texel. The refusal was offensive to
the British ministry, and they evidently sought an opportui nity for coming to an open rupture, which was as carefully avoided by the Dutch. In the beginning of the year 1780, a British fleet arrested a convoy of Dutch merchantmen, laden with military stores, under the protection of a Dutch man-of-war, commanded by Admiral Byland. On his refusal to permit the search for contraband, the British commander took possession of the whole, and carried them into
Spithead. Even this did not drive the States General into E the expected declaration of war. They had too many valuae ble merchant vessels abroad to be risked against the immense E navy of England, and they preferred remonstrances and 1 negotiation. The armed neutrality of that year, of which the
empress of Russia put herself at the head, showed the wary Hollanders, that that powerful European combination would enforce the doctrines of neutral rights involved in their disputes with England, without the hazard of a war on their own account. This celebrated alliance originated in a declaration by the court of Russia, made on the 26th of February, 1780, and agreed to during that summer by France, Spain, Holland, Denmark, and Sweden, affirming a code of neutral rights, different from that maintained by England, and pledging the parties to make common cause in supporting it. The declaration asserted, that neutral ships should freely navigate even from port to port on the coasts of belligerents, except to places actually besieged or blockaded, and with a proviso, that they do not carry contraband articles. "Contraband” was defined to mean only " warlike stores
and ammunition." This was a coalition against the British mterests and doctrines too formidable to be resisted at once. An evasive answer was given by the British court, and they persevered in their efforts to force the Dutch into a war. The opportunity was afforded them by an authentic discovery of the negotiations privately carried on between functionaries of the States General and the American Com missioners. In the summer of 1778, William Lee, the Envoy of the United States to Berlin, on his way to that court, had an interview with one of the principal merchants of Amsterdam in relation to a commercial intercourse between the two countries. In September the plan of a treaty for that purpose was agreed upon and approved by Van Berkel, the chief magistrate, or grand pensionary, as was his title, of the city of Amsterdam. Congress, in the summer of 1780, sent Henry Laurens of South Carolina, on a diplomatic commission to Holland, to conclude the treaty. The packet Mercury, in which he sailed, was captured off the banks of Newfoundland by the British frigate Vestal. Mr. Laurens threw his despatches overboard, but they were recovered by the activity of a sailor, and the papers transmitted to the British ministry. Mr. Laurens was committed to the tower on a charge of high treason, and an instant demand made upon the Dutch government for the punishment of “ Van Berkel and his accomplices, as disturbers of the public peace and violators of the rights of nations.” No answer was given by the Dutch, and the demand was almost immediately followed by a declaration of war by the king of Great Britain against the United Provinces of Holland. Both houses of parliament voted addresses to the king, approving of the declaration.
To sustain themselves against such numerous enemies, the British nation made amazing exertions. No opposition was offered in parliament to the voting of immense sums for the service of the coming year, and the raising of prodigious armaments by sea and land. Ninety-one thousand seamen, and, including foreign troops, about eighty thousand land troops were voted. The whole amount granted for the public service was 22,458,3371. Against these numerous hostile fleets and armies, England displayed a constancy of courage and extent of resources which demand unqualified admiration. In both hemispheres she kept her enemies at bay; foiled the French and Spanish fleets, boldly challenged the
Dutch, carried on a contest with her revolted Colonies, and maintained with brilliant success expensive and momentous warfare against the native princes in India. If her conduct had been haughty and tyrannical in her prosperity, her trials brought forth a heroic resolution, and roused her to efforts of almost unexampled strength.
The main object of France and Spain during the year 1780, had been to humble the maritime power of Britain. The West Indies was the theatre of their combined operations, and vast armaments on both sides were employed there with alternate success. Naval battles of great magnitude were fought in the European seas without any decisive issue, and with little direct influence on the American war. But the occupation of the immense navies of Great Britain against her European enemies, was indirectly the gain of the Americans.
The memorable defence of Gibraltar by the English General Elliot against a long and persevering siege, a defence which is considered one of the most gallant in the annals of war, was protracted through this year.
The French Admiral De Ternay died in December, at Newport, and was succeeded by the Count D’Estouches. The French troops and fleet remained inactive a long time in Rhode Island. Their first active service was in the commencement of the next year. We have already seen that the traitor Arnold signalized his zeal in behalf of his new service, by taking the command of an expedition fitted out from New York, to make a descent upon the coast of Virginia. This was part of the energetic policy resolved
upon by the enemy for carrying on the war in America. It had determined to act vigorously on several points at once, and to carry on operations simultaneously in New York, Virginia, North and South Carolina. Arnold was appointed, at the head of sixteen hundred men, aided by a number of armed vessels, to invade Virginia, and prevent that State from sending succors to the Southern army under Greene. He landed in the beginning of January below Richmond, in James river, and in two days marched to that town, burnt and plundered it. With all the flaming zeal of a new proselyte to Great Britain, the apostate general outdid in ferocity the devastations of his predecessors in the service. He made numerous excursions through the country, and in every place marked his path with the same cruelty and
wantonness. Returning to the coast, he gave indications of establishing a permanent post at Portsmouth. Washington, to arrest this career of havoc, dispatched La Fayette to Virginia, with twelve hundred American infantry, and proposed to the French Admiral to send a part of the French fleet to intercept the retreat of the British by sea, and capture their vessels. The proposal was gladly embraced, and on the 8th of March the feet sailed for the Chesapeake, with a large addition of land forces to co-operate with La Fayette. A detachment of the squadron bad been sent before, which succeeded in capturing a forty-four gun ship and some smaller vessels. The British Admiral Arbuthnot followed the French, and the fleets, in about a week, came in contact
off the Capes of Virginia. An action took place,
which was indecisive as a battle, no ship being taken on either side, but the fruits of the victory belonged to the British. The French were forced to abandon their design, and return to Newport, and Clinton reinforced Arnold strongly. General Phillips landed at Portsmouth on the 20th, and took the command. The troops he brought with him augmented the British force in Virginia to 3,500, and they immediately renewed the predatory enterprises by which Arnold had made himself so infamous. On these excursions he ravaged both sides of the James river, captured and plundered Williamsburgh, City Point, and Petersburgh, where an ineffeclual opposition was attempted by the militia, commanded by Governor Nelson and Baron Steuben. General La Fayette, who had been recalled as far as the head of the Elk river, marched back to the reinforcement of the militia, and checked the further advance of Phillips. The approach of Cornwallis from the South recalled Phillips from his partizan warfare, and he marched to join that commander at Petersburgh. On the 13th of May General Phillips died, and on the 20th the junction with Cornwallis took place. La Fayette, who had displayed indefatigable zeal and celerity in watching and harassing the forces of Phillips, fell back to the other side of the river, and encamped below Richmond.
Here was the scene of the final military struggle between Great Britain and the United States. La Fayette was first on the field, and gallantly maintained the fortunes of America with inferior forces against Cornwallis. But, before narrating the events of the memorable conflict in Virginia, it is neces.