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Notes on M. Soules' work.

PARIS, Sept. 13th, 1786.

SIR,—Before the receipt of your favor of the 11th inst. I had written the enclosed short notes on such parts of your work as I have been yet able to go over. You will perceive that the corrections are very trifling. Such as they are, I will continue them, and forward them to you from time to time as I get along. I will endeavor also to answer such of the queries you propose in your letter as my memory will enable me to do with certainty. Some of them I shall be unable to answer, having left in America all my notes, memorandums, &c., which might have enabled me to give you the information you desire. I have the honor to be, with the most esteem and respect, sir,


Your most obedient humble servant.

Answers to the queries of M. Soulés.


I AM unable to say what was the number of Americans engaged in the affair of Bunker's Hill. I am able, however, to set right a gross falsehood of Andrews. He says the Americans there engaged were constantly relieved by fresh hands. This is entirely untrue. Bunker's Hill [or rather Breed's hill whereon the action was) is a peninsular joined to the main land by a neck of land almost level with the water, a few paces wide, and about one or two hundred toises long. On one side of this neck lay a vessel of war, and on the other several gun-boats. The body of our army was on the main land, and only a detachment had been sent into the peninsular. When the enemy determined to make the attack, they sent the vessel of war and gun-boats to take the position, before mentioned, to cut off all reinforcements, which they effectually did. Not so much as a company could venture to the relief of the men engaged, who therefore fought through the whole action, and at length were obliged to retire across the neck through the cross-fire of the vessels before mentioned.

"On the fall of Montgomery and his aids at Quebec, there were present Colonel Campbell and Major Dubois. Campbell, though having the rank of colonel, was only of the staff; Dubois was

of the line. The usage of all nations, therefore, authorized the latter to take the command. But it was a case for which Congress had not yet provided. Campbell availed himself of this; and believing, on the sight of blood, that all was lost, ordered a retreat."

The speech to the Indians, in Andrews', page 357, is a little altered and abridged. You will find the genuine one in the Journal of Congress, of July, 1775. I do not distinctly enough recollect the anecdote of the old man's company, related by Andrews, to affirm it in all its parts. I think I recollect in general that there was such a company.

The questions relative to General Thomas, I could only have answered indistinctly from my own memory: but fortunately there came to Paris a few days ago, and will yet continue there a few days, a Colonel Blackden, an American officer of good understanding and of truth, and who was at the latter part of the affair of Quebec. He was at the surprise of Ticonderoga by Allen, and continued with the army until 1781. I have spoken with him on this subject, and find that he possesses treasures of details, which will be precious to M. Soulés. Any day that M. Soulés will do me the honor to come and take a famile soupe with me, (after the 16th instant,) if he will give me notice in the morning, I will ask Colonel Blackden to meet him here, and will make them acquainted. He is perfectly disposed to give all the information in his power to M. Soulés, and whatever he gives may be relied on. To him, then, I shall refer M. Soulés for answers to his military questions, and will wait his orders, recommending despatch, as Colonel Blackden has not long to stay.

The Stamp Act was passed in February, 1765.

What powers the Parliament might rightfully exercise over us, and whether any, had never been declared either by them or us. They had very early taken the gigantic step of passing the Navigation Act. The colonies remonstrated violently against it, and one of them, Virginia, when she capitulated to the commonwealth of England, expressly capitulated for a free trade. [See the articles on the Notes on, Virginia, p. 201.] This capitulation, however, was as little regarded as the original right, restored by

it, had been. The navigation act was re-enacted by Charles, and was enforced. And we had been so long in the habit of seeing them consider us merely as objects for the extension of their commerce, and of submitting to every duty or regulation imposed with that view, that we had ceased to complain of them. But when they proposed to consider us as objects of taxation, all the States took the alarm. Yet so little had we attended to this subject, that our advocates did not at first know on what ground to take their stand. Mr. Dickenson, a lawyer of more ingenuity than sound judgment, and still more timid than ingenious, not daring to question the authority to regulate commerce so as best to answer their own purpose, to which we had so long submitted, admitted that authority in its utmost extent. He acknowledged they could levy duties, internal or external, payable in Great Britain or in the States. He only required that these duties should be bona fide for the regulation of commerce, and not to raise a solid revenue. He admitted, therefore, that they might control our commerce, but not tax us. This mysterious system






took, for a moment, in America as well as in Europe. But sounder heads saw in the first moment, that he who could put down the loom, could stop the spinning wheel, and he who could stop the spinning wheel could tie the hands which turned. it. They saw that this flimsey fabric could not be supported. Who were to be judges whether duties were imposed with a view to burthen and suppress a branch of manufacture, or to raise a revenue? If either party, exclusively of the other, it was plain where that would end. If both parties, it was plain where that would end also. They saw, therefore, no sure clue to lead them out of their difficulties but reason and right. They dared to follow then, assured that they alone could lead them to defensible ground. The first elements of reason showed that the members of Parliament could have no power which the people of the several counties had not. That these had naturally a power over their own farms, and, collectively, over all England. That if they had any power over counties out of England, it must be founded on compact or force. No compact could be

shown, and neither party chose to bottom their pretensions on force. It was objected that this annihilated the navigation act. True, it does. The navigation act, therefore, becomes a proper subject of treaty between the two nations. Or if Great Britain does not choose to have its basis questioned, let us go on as we have done. Let no new shackles be imposed, and we will continue to submit to the old. We will consider the restrictions on our commerce, now actually existing, as compensations yielded by us for the protection and privileges we actually enjoy, only trusting that if Great Britain, on a revisal of these restrictions, is sensible that some of them are useless to her and oppressive to us, she will repeal them. But on this she shall be free. us in the condition we were when the let us rest so, and we will be satisfied. which all the States very soon found themselves rallied, and that there was no other which could be defended.


king came to the throne, This was the ground on

I will now proceed with remarks on the history. I do not think that M. Soulés mentioned the affair of the Cedars, which happened in April, 1775. This was an affair of no small importance. A committee was appointed by Congress to institute inquiries concerning it, as may be seen by the journal of June 14, 1776. The report of that committee is inserted in the journal of July the 10th, and I can assure M. Soulés, that the facts therein stated were proved unhesitatingly to the committee by witnesses present at the transactions, and who were on watch. I have the originals of that inquiry in my possession in America. The Captain Foster therein mentioned, was afterwards taken with Burgoyne's army, though permitted to go at large on his parole. He was not received into any American company, nor did the British officers, his fellow-prisoners, choose to be seen in company with him-so detestable had been the transaction, &c. Vol. i. p. 324. I have been very well informed, that during all the latter part of the defence, the garrison were obliged to return the cannon balls of the enemy, with which, indeed, the ground was covered, having none of their own left.

Page 325. "Il l'eut un Serjent," &c. This particular truly related in Andrews.

Page 5. "Ils en vinrent," &c. See the journal of Congress. That it was on that day put off to the 1st of July. This was done at the instance of the members opposed to it. The friends of the resolution objected, that if it were not agreed to till the 1st of July, they would after that have to frame a Declaration of Independence, and that more time would then be lost. It was therefore agreed between the two, that the resolution should be put off till the 1st of July; and that a committee should be immediately appointed to draw a Declaration of Independence, conformable to the resolution, should it be adopted. A commit tee was accordingly appointed the next day. On the 1st of July the resolution was proposed, and when ready for a vote, a State required it to be put off till the next day. It was done, and was passed the next day, 2d of July. The Declaration of Independence was debated the 2d, 3d and 4th days of July, and on the last of these was passed and signed.

Page 6th. A "se retirerent enseute du Congres." I do not remember that the delegates of Maryland retired from Congress, and I think I could not have forgotten such a fact. On the contrary, I find by the journal of Congress, that they were present, and acting on the 11th, 12th, 17th, 18th and 24th of June.

Page 7. A "la plus grande partie." It should rather be the most important parts.

Page 7, 6. "Les etats ferrient encore aujourdhui partie de l'empire Britannique." M. Soulés may be assured that the submission of the States could not have been effected but by a long course of disasters, and such, too, as were irreparable in their nature. Their resources were great, and their determination so rooted, that they would have tried the last of them. I am as satisfied as I can be of anything, that the conjecture here stated would not have been verified by the event.

Page 14.


"Provinces unis," should not this always be "etats

Page 15. "Mais qu'on pouvoir aussi les interpreter," &c. His exact answer was, "That it was true the, &c. might include anything, but that might also include nothing.”

Page 16.

"Tant de confiance," &c. Their main confidence

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