The Project Gutenberg eBook of The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 14

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Title: The Great Events by Famous Historians, Volume 14

Editor: Rossiter Johnson

Charles F. Horne

LL. D. John Rudd

Release date: June 4, 2010 [eBook #32690]
Most recently updated: January 6, 2021

Language: English

Credits: Produced by the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at


Charlotte Corday, after the assassination of Marat, apprehended by the Jacobin mob  Painting by J. Weerts.












With a staff of specialists


The National Alumni



[Pg vii]




An Outline Narrative of the Great Events, xiii

The Battle of Lexington (a.d. 1775), 1

The Battle of Bunker Hill (a.d. 1775), 19

Canada Remains Loyal to England
Montgomery's Invasion (a.d. 1775), 30

Signing of the American Declaration of Independence
(a.d. 1776)
, 39

The Defeat of Burgoyne at Saratoga (a.d. 1777), 51

The First Victory of the American Navy (a.d. 1779), 68

Joseph II Attempts Reform in Hungary (a.d. 1780), 85

Siege and Surrender of Yorktown (a.d. 1781), 97

British Defence of Gibraltar (a.d. 1782), 116

Close of the American Revolution (a.d. 1782), 137

Settlement of American Loyalists in Canada (a.d. 1783), 156

The First Balloon Ascension (a.d. 1783), 163

Framing of the Constitution of the United States (a.d. 1787), 173

Inauguration of Washington
His Farewell Address (a.d. 1789-1797), 197

French Revolution: Storming of the Bastille (a.d. 1789), 212

Hamilton Establishes the United States Bank (a.d. 1791), 230

The Negro Revolution in Haiti (a.d. 1791)
Toussaint Louverture Establishes the Dominion of his Race, 236

Republican France Defies Europe
The Battle of Valmy (a.d. 1792), 252

The Invention of the Cotton-gin (a.d. 1793)
Enormous Growth of the Cotton Industry in America, 271

The Execution of Louis XVI (a.d. 1793)
Murder of Marat: Civil War in France, 295

The Reign of Terror (a.d. 1794), 311

The Downfall of Poland (a.d. 1794), 330

The Rise of Napoleon
The French Conquest of Italy (a.d. 1796), 339

Overthrow of the Mamelukes (a.d. 1798)
The Battle of the Nile, 353

Jenner Introduces Vaccination (a.d. 1798), 363

Universal Chronology (a.d. 1775-1799), 377
[Pg x]



Charlotte Corday, after the assassination of Marat, apprehended by the Jacobin mob (page 305),
Painting by J. Weerts. Frontispiece

The Siege of Yorktown, 108
Painting by L. C. A. Couder.
[Pg xiii]






"After us, the deluge!" said Louis XV of France. He died in 1774, and the remaining quarter of the eighteenth century witnessed social changes the most radical, the most widespread which had convulsed civilization since the fall of Rome. "As soon as our peasants seek education," said Catharine II of Russia to one of her ministers, "neither you nor I will retain our places." Catharine, one of the shrewdest women of her day, judged her own people by the more advanced civilization of Western Europe. She saw that it was the growth of ideas, the intellectual advance, which had made Revolution, world-wide Revolution, inevitable.

If we look back to the beginnings of Teutonic Europe, we see that the social system existing among the wild tribes that overthrew Rome, was purely republican. Each man was equal to every other; and they merely conferred upon their sturdiest warrior a temporary authority to lead them in battle. When these Franks (the word itself means freemen) found themselves masters of the imperial, slave-holding world of Rome, the two opposing systems coalesced in vague confusing whirl, from which emerged naturally enough the "feudal system," the rule of a warrior aristocracy. Gradually a few members of this[Pg xiv] nobility rose above the rest, became centres of authority, kings, ruling over the States of modern Europe. The lesser nobles lost their importance. The kings became absolute in power and began to regard themselves as special beings, divinely appointed to rule over their own country, and to snatch as much of their neighbors' as they could.

Secure in their undisputed rank, the monarchs tolerated or even encouraged the intellectual advance of their subjects, until those subjects saw the selfishness of their masters, saw the folly of submission and the ease of revolt, saw the world-old truth of man's equality, to which tyranny and misery had so long blinded them.

Of course these ideas still hung nebulous in the air in the year 1775, and Europe at first scarce noted that Britain was having trouble with her distant colonies. Yet to America belongs the honor of having first maintained against force the new or rather the old and now re-arisen principles. England, it is true, had repudiated her Stuart kings still earlier; but she had replaced their rule by that of a narrow aristocracy, and now George III, the German king of the third generation whom she had placed as a figure-head upon her throne, was beginning, apparently with much success, to reassert the royal power. George III was quite as much a tyrant to England as he was to America, and Britons have long since recognized that America was fighting their battle for independence as well as her own.

The English Parliament was not in those days a truly representative body. The appointment of a large proportion of its members rested with a few great lords; other members were elected by boards of aldermen and similar small bodies. The large majority of Englishmen had no votes at all, though the plea was advanced that they were "virtually represented," that is, they were able to argue with and influence their more fortunate brethren, and all would probably be actuated by similar sentiments. This plea of "virtual representation" was now extended to America, where its absurdity as applied to a people three thousand miles away and engaged in constant protest against the course of the English Government, became at once manifest, and the cry against "Taxation without representation" became the motto of the Revolution.[Pg xv]


Parliament, finding the Americans most unexpectedly resolute against submitting to taxation, would have drawn back from the dispute; but King George insisted on its continuance. He could not realize the difference between free-born Americans long trained in habits of self-government, and the unfortunate peasantry of Continental Europe, bowed by centuries of suffering and submission. He thought it only necessary to bully the feeble colonists, as Louis XIV had bullied the Huguenots by dragonnades. Soldiers were sent to America to live on the inhabitants; and in Boston, General Gage to complete the terror sent out a force to seize the patriot leaders and destroy their supplies.

Then came "the shot heard round the world." Instead of cringing humbly, the Americans resisted. Several were shot down at Lexington, and in return the remainder attacked the soldiers with a resolution and skill which the peasantry of an open country had never before displayed against trained troops. These farmers had learned fighting from the Indians, they had learned self-reliance, and each man acting for himself, seeking what shelter he could find from tree or fence, fired upon the Britons, until the most famous soldiery of Europe fled back to Boston "their tongues hanging out of their mouths like dogs."[1]

The astonished Britons clamored that their opponents did not "fight fair," meaning that the peasants did not stand still like sheep to be slaughtered, or rush in bodies to be massacred by the superior weapons and trained manœuvres of the professional troops. Therein the objection touched the very point of the world's advance: the common people, the country folk of one land at least, had ceased to be mere unthinking cattle; they acted from intellect, not from sheer brute despair.

Within a week of Lexington an army of the Americans were gathered round Boston to defend their homes from further invasions by these foreigners. The English tried the issue again, and attacked the Americans at Bunker Hill.[2] The steady valor of the regular troops, engaged on a regular battle-ground, enabled them to drive the poorly armed peasants from their intrenchments. But the victory was won at such frightful expense[Pg xvi] of life to the British that it was not until forty years had brought forgetfulness, that they tried a similar assault in military form against the Americans at New Orleans. The farmers could shoot as well as think. After Bunker Hill the Revolution was recognized as a serious war, not a mere mad uprising of hopelessness. Washington took control of the destinies of America. Congress proclaimed its Independence.[3]

At this period Northern America became unfortunately and apparently permanently divided against itself. Canada, largely from its French origin and language, had always stood apart from the more southern English-speaking colonies. There had been repeated wars between them. But now when England had seized possession of Canada and within fifteen years of that event the southern colonists were fighting England, it did seem probable or at least hopeful that all America might unite against the common foe.

So thought the American Congress, and despatched a force, not against the inhabitants of Canada, but against the British troops there, to enable the Canadians to join in the revolt. The Canadians refused; the British forces were brilliantly handled, and the tiny American army, totally unequal to coping single-handed against the enemy and against the gigantic natural difficulties of the expedition, failed—failed gloriously but totally—and only roused anew against the southland the antagonism of the Canadians, mingled now with contempt and a growing admiration and even loyalty toward the Britons.[4]

Canada became a depot into which British troops were poured, and when Lord Howe and his army had captured New York, the English Government planned a powerful expedition to descend the Hudson valley, unite with Howe and so isolate New England from the less violently rebellious colonies farther south. On the success or failure of this undertaking hung the fate not only of the new continent, but one seeing the consequences now is almost tempted to say, the fate of the world.

The command was intrusted to Burgoyne, an experienced and capable general. Troops were given to him, it was thought, amply sufficient to overbear all opposition. There was no regular[Pg xvii] army to resist him. But the American farmers of the region rallied in their own defence, they hung like a cloud around Burgoyne's advance, they cut off his supplies, they became ever more numerous in his front, until at last he fought desperate battles against them, could not advance, and was compelled to surrender his entire army.[5]

Instantly the war assumed a new aspect. Europe awoke to the fact that England was engaged against a worthy foe. France, humbled in India, driven from America, defeated on her own borders, saw her opportunity for revenge, revenge against her hated rival. Moreover, the spirit of freedom which had been proclaimed by Voltaire, by Rousseau, by a thousand other voices, was awake in France; it saw its own cause, hopeless at home, being triumphantly defended in America; and it cried enthusiastically that the heroes should have aid. Spain, too, had sore causes of complaint against England. So France first and then Spain made alliance with the Americans. George III by his obstinacy had plunged his realm into sore difficulties, had given the final blow to any possible reëstablishment of kingly power in England.

The most immediate shock caused the Britons by the changed aspect of the world, was given them by Paul Jones, an American naval officer. He took advantage of the French alliance to secure a little fleet, part American but mostly French; and with it he cruised boldly around Great Britain, bidding defiance to her navy and plundering her shores, in some faint imitation of the depredations her troops had committed in America. The fight of Jones in his flagship against the English frigate Serapis has become world-famous, and the grim resolution with which the American won his way to victory in face of apparent impossibilities, taught the Britons that on sea as well as on land they had met their match.[6]

For a time the island kingdom bore up against all her foes. The most famous of the many sieges of Gibraltar occurred; and for three years the French and Spanish fleets sought unavailingly to batter the stubborn rock into surrender.[7] But at last a[Pg xviii]second British army was trapped and captured at Yorktown by the French and Americans.[8] Then England yielded. It was impossible for her longer to undertake the enormous task of transporting troops across three thousand miles of ocean. She needed them at home; and many of the English people had always protested against the fratricidal war with their brethren in America. American independence was acknowledged, and England was left free to demand a peace of her European foes.[9]

The antagonisms roused by this bitter war, in which British troops had repeatedly and cruelly ravaged the American lands and homes, were long in fading. Canada had stood loyally by Great Britain, and the break between the northern land and the other colonies was sharp and final. Even throughout the States which had become independent, a portion of the people had loyally upheld British rule; and on these unfortunates the liberated Americans threatened to wreak vengeance for all that had been endured. Thus came about a vast emigration of the "Tories" or Loyalists from the new States to Canada. They brought with them the bitterness of the expatriated, and Canada became yet more firmly British, more "anti-American" than before.[10]


Of even greater influence were the consequences of the American Revolution as affecting Continental Europe. Estimates have differed widely as to just how much the French Revolution was caused by that across the ocean. Certain it is that Frenchmen had been enthusiastic in America's cause, that many of their officers fought under Washington, and returned home deeply infused with devotion to liberty. It has long been a popular error, encouraged by historians of a former generation, that the French Revolution arose from a starving peasantry driven to madness by intolerable oppression. We know better now. It was in Paris, not in the provinces, that the revolt began. Judged by modern standards, of course, the French peasantry were oppressed; but if we measure their condition by that of surrounding nations at the time, by the Austrians under kind-hearted [Pg xix]Maria Theresa, or even by the Prussians under Frederick the Great, most advanced of the upholders of "benevolent despotism," in whose lands serfs were still "sold with the soil" compared with these, Frenchmen were free, prosperous, and happy. It is even true that the lower classes were unready for change. In Hungary, Joseph II, son of Maria Theresa, attempted a complete and radical reform of all abuses, and the mob rose in fury against his innovations, compelled him to restore their "ancient customs." They had grown familiar with their chains.[11]

The French Revolution was an uprising of the middle classes. Its great leaders in the earlier stages were Mirabeau, son of a baron, and America's own friend the Marquis Lafayette. Even the King, Louis XVI, at least partly approved the movement. The States-General was summoned in 1789 after an interval of nearly two centuries, to decide on the best way of relieving the country from its financial embarrassments. This gathering was soon resolved into a National Assembly which insisted on giving France a constitution, making it a limited instead of an absolute monarchy.[12]

On the 14th of July the mob of Paris rose in sudden fury and stormed the ancient state prison, the Bastille. The King sent no troops to resist them; and from that time his power was but a shadow. His overthrow, however, was not yet contemplated. The Revolution was still to be one of dignity and intellect. An entire year after the fall of the Bastille, the president of the National Assembly could still say in addressing a deputation of Americans headed by Paul Jones: "It was by helping you to conquer liberty that the French learned to understand and love it. The hands which went to burst your fetters were not made to wear them themselves; but, more fortunate than you, it is our King himself, it is a patriot and citizen king, who has called us to the happiness which we are enjoying that happiness which has cost us merely sacrifices, but which you paid for with torrents of blood Courage broke your chains; reason has made ours fall off."

But alas! reason was soon to lose control. The lower classes had wakened to a sense of their power, they began to use it savagely. Hatred of the haughty aristocracy, long smoldering,[Pg xx] burst everywhere into flame. Mobs of country peasants plundered isolated chateaux and slew their inmates. Meanwhile the National Assembly had been abolishing all titles of nobility; the vast estates of the clergy were confiscated. The aristocrats began fleeing from France, and the possessions of all who fled were declared forfeited to the new government.

Imagine the tumult that this upheaval caused to the rest of Europe. News travelled slowly in those days; but these "émigrés," these banished nobles, were palpable evidences of what had occurred. The common folk everywhere, especially along the French borders in Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, celebrated the French triumph as their own. Liberty was at hand! For them, too, it would come presently! Murmurings of revolt grew loud. The monarchs of Europe, terrified, took up the cause of the Émigrés as their own. France was threatened with invasion. King Louis threw in his lot with his royal friends and attempted flight from Paris. He was caught and brought back a prisoner. A foreign army marched against France.

This invasion was met and repelled in the Battle of Valmy (1792), not an extensive or bloody contest in itself, but one of incalculable importance in human history, because like Bunker Hill it showed that a new force had arisen to upset all the military calculations of the past. Raw troops could now be found to meet on equal terms with veterans. Liberty, hitherto an impalpable idea, a mere phantom in the brains of a few philosophers, proved able to call up armies at a word, able physically to hold its own against embattled despotism. Even the German Goethe wrote of Valmy, "In this place and on this day a new era of the world begins."[13]

France however had already gone mad with its success. Even before Valmy wholesale murder had begun in Paris. The prisons were broken open and a thousand "aristocrats" hideously butchered without trial. The day after Valmy, the land was proclaimed a republic. King Louis was put on trial for his life, and in January, 1793, was executed.[14] Frenchmen began fighting among themselves. The reign of "terror" began as that of[Pg xxi] kings was abolished. Chiefs of each faction accused all others as traitors, and executions by the guillotine rose to fifty a day. "We must have a hundred!" cried Robespierre, the lunatic leader of the moment.

The excesses in Paris roused civil war, and through all France men slew one another in the name of liberty. In Brittany the peasants even rose in support of royalty, and refused allegiance to the republic. Never has the most hideous brutality of man been more openly displayed than in those days of vengeance. The intellectual classes of Europe everywhere shrank back, terrified at the spectre they had evoked.

The Reign of Terror ended in 1794 with the downfall and execution of its leader, Robespierre.[15] The civil war was trampled out in blood. And with Titanic energy the French Republic defended itself against its foreign foes.

All Europe had joined in a coalition against France—all the kings, that is. Their subjects still doubted, still hoped, still looked anxiously to France to see if freedom were in truth a possibility. Then from the ranks of the liberated French arose great generals, aristocrats no longer, but men of the people, fitted to lead the new-born armies of the people. Greatest of these and grimmest of them was Napoleon Bonaparte. He taught the timorous legislative authorities of Paris how to reassert their dominion over "King Mob," who had ruled them and the country for four hideous years. He checked a new uprising by a discharge of well-stationed cannon, aimed to kill.

Order being thus established at home, the French began to pour over the border in attack upon those kings who had threatened them. In many places they were still received as the apostles of liberty. Holland, Switzerland, the Rhine lands, became allies or dependents of France. Kings were helpless against them. To the spirit of Republicanism, to the impassioned courage of Frenchmen, was added the genius of Bonaparte. He conquered Italy. He plundered her and sent home priceless treasures to delight his countrymen and fill their exhausted treasury. He became the man of the hour.[16]

Far beyond France spread the influence of her example. In[Pg xxii] Eastern Europe, Poland was roused against the despoilers who had already seized a portion of her territory. She began a rebellion under Kosciuszko, who, like Lafayette, had imbibed the love of freedom in America. But Poland was crushed by the overpowering forces of Russia, Prussia, and Austria. Her remaining provinces were divided among the plunderers and the last fragment of her independence was extinguished.[17]

In Haiti also there was a rebellion. The negroes of the island rose against their Spanish masters and drove them into exile. Toussaint Louverture, often regarded as the greatest hero of his race, led the insurgents victoriously against both Spanish and English forces, and finally with French help established the independence of Haiti as a negro republic. He became administrator as well as warrior. After a few successful years he was treacherously seized and held prisoner by Napoleon; but the monument he had erected for himself, the "Black Republic," continued and still continues to exist.[18]

In a period so tumultuous as was this quarter-century, one could scarce expect that the world would make much progress in science. Men were too intent on sterner things. There was, however, just before the beginning of the French Revolution, one event which to a future generation may seem more important even than to us. Aërial navigation began. The first successful balloon ascension was made by the Montgolfier brothers, and the sport became for a while a Parisian fad.[19] Still more noteworthy was the employment of vaccination as a preventive against smallpox. The system was introduced in England by Jenner in 1798, and its use spread rapidly over Europe. More recently it has been employed against other diseases as well, and the resultant increase in the general health of mankind is beyond computation.[20]


Meanwhile America, the source or at least the partial source of all this republican tumult, was having difficulties of her own. The peace after Yorktown left her exhausted. The Articles of[Pg xxiii] Confederation which had sufficed to hold the colonies together under the stress of their great necessity, had proven insufficient to give any real unity. Each little colony was jealous of its own power as an independent State: and for a time it seemed as if they must disband, that America must become like Europe, divided into a collection of separate ever-jarring States, devastated by constant wars.

That this was not our own country's fate, we owe to Washington. Our saviour in war, he became also our saviour in peace. After watching through some years of this disorganization, he emerged from the peaceful retirement of his country home, to urge that some means be taken to form a more perfect union. It was largely through his instrumentality that the convention of 1787 was called; and he presided over its labors. Again and again it seemed as if the convention would disband in anarchy. The antagonisms between the various delegates appeared irreconcilable. But always there was Washington to control the flaming passions, to insist upon moderation, upon union. And in the end that convention drew up the Constitution of the United States.[21]

Even then there remained the task of persuading each State to accept the Constitution; and this also would have been impossible had not all men looked to Washington to act as president of the new republic, to do justice between its differing sections. Relying equally on his wisdom, his caution, and his incorruptibility, the States intrusted to him a power they would have conferred upon no other.

Two years were occupied in arranging matters, and then, in 1789, the date so memorable to France as well, the new government was organized, Washington was inaugurated as President, and the United States began its stupendous career as a single nation.[22]

There were difficulties, of course. American finances seemed as hopelessly involved as had been those of monarchical France. But this rock upon which the French projects of reform all split, our government escaped by the financial genius of Alexander Hamilton.[23] The natural summons of the French that the Americans[Pg xxiv] should become their allies, should help them to win freedom in their turn, proved another source of danger. A thousand others were not lacking. But Washington's conservatism preserved his government through all. He proclaimed America's well-known policy toward the European States: "Friendship with all, entangling alliances with none." The material prosperity of the country increased rapidly. Eli Whitney invented the cotton-gin, which made cotton cultivation so remunerative that the South grew rich, and also, alas, became wedded to the system of slavery under which it was supposed cotton could best be produced.[24]

For eight years Washington guided the destinies of the infant nation, and then resigned his authority to one of his lieutenants. So that really the great leader's influence continued predominant until he died in December, 1799. Already however the more radical of Americans were grown restive under his restraining hand. Federalism, conservatism, was losing its control upon the national counsels, a change toward wider and more radical democracy was at hand.


The year of 1799 saw also a great change in France, but in the opposite direction, away from democracy and back toward absolutism. The French government, grown rash with its marvellous victories, had dared to despatch Bonaparte, its ablest general, on an ill-considered and somewhat fanciful expedition to distant Egypt. There his fleet was destroyed by the English admiral, Nelson, in the celebrated Battle of the Nile, and he and his army were left practically prisoners in Egypt.[25]

Deprived of his genius at home, French military affairs went badly. Monarchy rallied from its momentary depression. Russian troops drove the French from Switzerland; Germans defeated them along the Rhine. The Constitutional government in Paris was proving impracticable, its members incompetent. Bonaparte saw his opportunity. Leaving his army in Egypt, he escaped the British and returned alone to France. In Paris he summoned the soldiers around him, entered the hall of the assembly,[Pg xxv] and, much as Cromwell had once done in England, bade the wrangling members disperse. Then he constructed a new government, which he still called a republic. But as he himself was to be First Consul, with almost all power in his own hands, the Government proved in reality as complete an absolutism as that of Richelieu or Louis XIV. The first European attempt at democracy had perished. The new century was to learn what this suddenly risen dictator would establish in its stead.



[1] See Battle of Lexington, page 1.

[2] See Battle of Bunker Hill, page 19.

[3] See Signing of American Declaration of Independence, page 39.

[4] See Canada Remains Loyal to England, page 30.

[5] See Defeat of Burgoyne at Saratoga, page 51.

[6] See First Victory of the American Navy, page 68.

[7] See British Defence of Gibraltar, page 116.

[8] See Siege and Surrender of Yorktown, page 97.

[9] See Close of the American Revolution, page 137.

[10] See Settlement of American Loyalists in Canada, page 156.

[11] See Joseph II Attempts Reform in Hungary, page 85.

[12] See French Revolution: Storming of the Bastille, page 212.

[13] See Republican France Defies Europe: Battle of Valmy, page 252.

[14] See Execution of Louis XVI: Murder of Marat: Civil War in France, page 295.

[15] See The Reign of Terror, page 311.

[16] See The Rise of Napoleon: The French Conquest of Italy, page 339.

[17] See The Downfall of Poland, page 330.

[18] See Negro Revolution in Haiti, page 236.

[19] See First Balloon Ascension, page 63.

[20] See Jenner Introduces Vaccination, page 363.

[21] See Framing of the Constitution of the United States, page 173.

[22] See Inauguration of Washington: His Farewell Address, page 197.

[23] See Hamilton Establishes the United States Bank, page 230.

[24] See Invention of the Cotton-gin, page 271.

[25] See Overthrow of the Mamelukes: The Battle of the Nile, page 353.

[Pg 1]


a.d. 1775


April 19, 1775, is memorable in American history as the day on which occurred the first bloodshed of the Revolution. The two combats of the day—that at Lexington and that at Concord—really constituted one action, which ended in a long running fight. As a single action, it is usually called the Battle of Lexington. The engagement at Concord, separately considered, is called the Battle of Concord, or the Concord Fight.

At both places, on that fateful day, "the embattled farmers" faced the troops of their own sovereign, to resist what was felt to be an unwarranted and menacing invasion of American liberties. While the soldiers of King George were doing their own loyal duty, the New England yeomen who "fired the shot heard round the world" obeyed a conviction still more compelling. Hence came the first physical struggle in what was already an "irrepressible conflict" of principle between Englishmen and their kinsmen on the American continent.

The Revolutionary War was begun on the part of the Americans for the redress of grievances for which they had exhausted all peaceable endeavors to secure a remedy. It was afterward successfully waged for independence. Repressive measures of Great Britain in the colonies began with the issuance by colonial courts of "writs of assistance." These writs authorized officers to summon assistance in searching certain premises under certain laws. In the first attempt to enforce such a writ—in Massachusetts, 1761—the policy was defeated through popular opposition, brilliantly led by James Otis, who by a single speech produced such an effect that John Adams said of the occasion: "Then and there was the first scene of the first act of opposition to the arbitrary claims of Great Britain. Then and there the child Independence was born."

Later grievances were those of the Stamp Act (1765), taxes on paints, glass, etc. (1767), and the Boston Port Bill (1774), ordering the closing of the port on account of the rebellious acts of the citizens, especially in the "tea-party" of December 16, 1773, when they threw into the waters of the harbor from English ships tea valued at eighteen thousand pounds. As early as 1770 had occurred the "Boston Massacre," a collision between citizens and British soldiers, which added to earlier discontents and increased the sensitiveness to later irritations.[Pg 2]

The first Continental Congress, in 1774, though strongly pacific, favored resistance to aggressions of the Crown. During this year and the next two Provincial Congresses met in Massachusetts, the collection of military stores was authorized, a committee of safety was created, and the "minute-men" were organized.

General Gage, the British commander in Boston, denounced these proceedings as treasonable. Parliament vainly sought to adjust the difficulties and enforce its authority. Conciliatory efforts on both sides failing, it soon became evident that a conflict of arms was at hand. By April 4, 1775, it was known in Boston that reënforcements were on their way to General Gage. Soon after their arrival he was ready for the movement with which the narrative of Frothingham, a high authority on these events, begins.

General Gage had, in the middle of April, 1775, about four thousand men in Boston. He resolved, by a secret expedition, to destroy the magazines collected at Concord. This measure was neither advised by his council nor by his officers. It was said that he was worried into it by the importunities of the Tories; but it was undoubtedly caused by the energetic measures of the Whigs. His own subsequent justification was that when he saw an assembly of men, unknown to the Constitution, wresting from him the public moneys and collecting warlike stores, it was alike his duty and the dictate of humanity to prevent the calamity of civil war by destroying these magazines. His previous belief was that should the Government show a respectable force in the field, seize the most obnoxious patriot leaders, and proclaim a pardon for others, it would come off victorious.

On April 15th the grenadiers and light infantry, on the pretence of learning a new military exercise, were relieved from duty; and at night the boats of the transport ships which had been hauled up to be repaired were launched and moored under the sterns of the men-of-war. These movements looked suspicious to the vigilant patriots, and Dr. Joseph Warren sent intelligence of them to Hancock and Adams, who were in Lexington. It was this timely notice that induced the committee of safety to take additional measures for the security of the stores in Concord, and to order (on the 17th) cannon to be secreted, and a part of the stores to be removed to Sudbury and Groton.

On Tuesday, April 18th, General Gage directed several officers to station themselves on the roads leading out of Boston, and[Pg 3] prevent any intelligence of his intended expedition that night from reaching the country. A party of them, on that day, dined at Cambridge. The committees of safety and supplies, which usually held their sessions together, also met that day, at Wetherby's Tavern, in Menotomy, now West Cambridge. Elbridge Gerry and Colonels Orne and Lee, of the members, remained to pass the night. Richard Devens and Abraham Watson rode in a chaise toward Charlestown, but, soon meeting a number of British officers on horseback, they returned to inform their friends at the tavern, waited there until the officers rode by, and then rode to Charlestown. Gerry immediately sent an express to Hancock and Adams, that "eight or nine officers were out, suspected of some evil design," which caused precautionary measures to be adopted at Lexington.

Richard Devens, an efficient member of the committee of safety, soon received intelligence that the British troops were in motion in Boston, and were certainly preparing to go into the country. Shortly after, the signal agreed upon in this event was given, namely, a lantern hung out from the North Church steeple in Boston, when Devens immediately despatched an express with this intelligence to Menotomy and Lexington. All this while General Gage supposed his movements were a profound secret, and as such in the evening communicated them in confidence to Lord Percy. But as this nobleman was crossing the Common on his way to his quarters he joined a group of men engaged in conversation, when one said, "The British troops have marched, but will miss their aim!"

"What aim?" inquired Lord Percy.

"Why, the cannon at Concord." He hastened back to General Gage with this information, when orders were immediately issued that no person should leave town. Dr. Warren, however, a few minutes previous, had sent Paul Revere and William Dawes into the country. Revere, about eleven o'clock, rowed across the river to Charlestown, was supplied by Richard Devens with a horse, and started to alarm the country. Just outside of Charlestown Neck he barely escaped capture by British officers; but leaving one of them in a clay-pit, he got to Medford, awoke the captain of the minute-men, gave the alarm on the road, and reached the Rev. Jonas Clark's house in safety, where the evening[Pg 4] before a guard of eight men had been stationed to protect Hancock and Adams.

It was midnight as Revere rode up and requested admittance. William Monroe, the sergeant, told him that the family, before retiring to rest, had requested that they might not be disturbed by noise about the house. "Noise!" replied Revere; "you'll have noise enough before long—the regulars are coming out!" He was then admitted. Dawes, who went out through Roxbury, soon joined him. Their intelligence was "that a large body of the King's troops, supposed to be a brigade of twelve or fifteen hundred, had embarked in boats from Boston, and gone over to Lechmere's Point, in Cambridge, and it was suspected they were ordered to seize and destroy the stores belonging to the colony, then deposited at Concord."

The town of Lexington, Major Phinney writes, is "about twelve miles northwest of Boston and six miles southeast of Concord. It was originally a part of Cambridge, and previous to its separation from that town was called the Cambridge Farms." The act of incorporation bears date March 20, 1712. The inhabitants consist principally of hardy and independent yeomanry. In 1775 the list of enrolled militia bore the names of over one hundred citizens. The road leading from Boston divides near the centre of the village in Lexington. The part leading to Concord passes to the left, and that leading to Bedford to the right, of the meeting-house, and form two sides of a triangular green or common, on the south corner of which stands the meeting-house, facing directly down the road leading to Boston. At the right of the meeting-house, on the opposite side of Bedford road, was Buckman's Tavern.

About one o'clock the Lexington alarm-men and militia were summoned to meet at their usual place of parade, on the Common; and messengers were sent toward Cambridge for additional information. When the militia assembled, about two o'clock in the morning, Captain John Parker, its commander, ordered the roll to be called, and the men to load with powder and ball. About one hundred thirty were now assembled with arms. One of the messengers soon returned with the report that there was no appearance of troops on the roads; and the weather being chilly, the men, after being on parade some time, were dismissed with[Pg 5] orders to appear again at the beat of the drum. They dispersed into houses near the place of parade—the greater part going into Buckman's Tavern. It was generally supposed that the movements in Boston were only a feint to alarm the people.

Revere and Dawes started to give the alarm in Concord, and soon met Dr. Samuel Prescott, a warm patriot, who agreed to assist in arousing the people. While they were thus engaged they were suddenly met by a party of officers, well armed and mounted, when a scuffle ensued, during which Revere was captured; but Prescott, by leaping a stone-wall, made his escape. The same officers had already detained three citizens of Lexington, who had been sent out the preceding evening to watch their movements. All the prisoners, after being questioned closely, were released near Lexington, when Revere rejoined Hancock and Adams, and went with them toward Woburn, two miles from Clark's house.

While these things were occurring, the British regulars were marching toward Concord. Lieutenant-Colonel Smith, at the head of about eight hundred troops—grenadiers, light infantry, and marines—embarked about ten o'clock at the foot of Boston Common, in the boats of the ships of war. They landed, just as the moon arose, at Phipps' Farm, now Lechmere Point, took an unfrequented path over the marshes, where in some places they had to wade through water, and entered the old Charlestown and West Cambridge road. No martial sounds enlivened their midnight march; it was silent, stealthy, inglorious. The members of the "Rebel Congress" arose from their beds at the tavern in Menotomy, to view them. They saw the front pass on with the regularity of veteran discipline. But when the centre was opposite the window, an officer and file of men were detached toward the house. Gerry, Orne, and Lee, half-dressed as they were, then took the hint and escaped to an adjoining field, while the British in vain searched the house.

Colonel Smith had marched but few miles when the sounds of guns and bells gave the evidence that, notwithstanding the caution of General Gage, the country was alarmed. He detached six companies of light infantry, under the command of Major Pitcairn, with orders to press forward and secure the two bridges at Concord, while he sent a messenger to Boston for a reënforcement.[Pg 6] The party of officers who had been out joined the detachment, with the exaggerated report that five hundred men were in arms to oppose the King's forces. Major Pitcairn, as he advanced, succeeded in capturing everyone on the road until he arrived within a mile and a half of Lexington Meeting-house, when Thaddeus Bowman succeeded in eluding the advancing troops, and, galloping to the Common, gave the first certain intelligence to Captain Parker of their approach.

It was now about half-past four in the morning. Captain Parker ordered the drum to beat, alarm-guns to be fired, and Sergeant William Monroe to form his company in two ranks a few rods north of the meeting-house. It was a part of "the constitutional army," which was authorized to make a regular and forcible resistance to any open hostility by the British troops; and it was for this purpose that this gallant and devoted band on this memorable morning appeared on the field. Whether it ought to maintain its ground or whether it ought to retreat would depend upon the bearing and numbers of the regulars. It was not long in suspense. At a short distance from the parade-ground the British officers, regarding the American drum as a challenge, ordered their troops to halt, to prime and load, and then to march forward in double-quick time.

Meantime sixty or seventy of the militia had collected, and about forty spectators, a few of whom had arms. Captain Parker ordered his men not to fire unless they were fired upon. A part of his company had time to form in a military position facing the regulars; but while some were joining the ranks and others were dispersing, the British troops rushed on, shouting and firing, and their officers—among whom was Major Pitcairn—exclaiming, "Ye villains! ye rebels! disperse!" "Lay down your arms!" "Why don't you lay down your arms?" The militia did not instantly disperse nor did they proceed to lay down their arms.

The first guns, few in number, did no execution. A general discharge followed, with fatal results. A few of the militia who had been wounded, or who saw others killed or wounded by their side, no longer hesitated, but returned the fire of the regulars. Jonas Parker, John Monroe, and Ebenezer Monroe, Jr., and others, fired before leaving the line; Solomon Brown and[Pg 7] James Brown fired from behind a stone wall; one other person fired from the back door of Buckman's house; Nathan Monroe, Lieutenant Benjamin Tidd and others retreated a short distance and fired. Meantime the regulars continued their fire as long as the militia remained in sight, killing eight and wounding ten. Jonas Parker, who repeatedly said he never would run from the British, was wounded at the second fire, but he still discharged his gun, and was killed by a bayonet. "A truer heart did not bleed at Thermopylæ."

Isaac Muzzy, Jonathan Harrington, and Robert Monroe were also killed on or near the place where the line was formed. "Harrington's was a cruel fate. He fell in front of his own house, on the north of the Common. His wife at the window saw him fall and then start up, the blood gushing from his breast. He stretched out his hands toward her as if for assistance, and fell again. Rising once more on his hands and knees, he crawled across the road toward his dwelling. She ran to meet him at the door, but it was to see him expire at her feet."

Monroe was the standard-bearer of his company at the capture of Louisburg. Caleb Harrington was killed as he was running from the meeting-house after replenishing his stock of powder; Samuel Hadley and John Brown, after they had left the Common; Asahel Porter, of Woburn, who had been taken prisoner by the British as he was endeavoring to effect his escape.

The British suffered but little; a private of the Tenth regiment and probably one other were wounded, and Major Pitcairn's horse was struck. Some of the Provincials retreated up the road leading to Bedford, but most of them across a swamp to a rising ground north of the Common. The British troops formed on the Common, fired a volley, and gave three huzzas in token of victory. Colonel Smith, with the remainder of the troops, soon joined Major Pitcairn, and the whole detachment marched toward Concord, about six miles distant, which it reached without further interruption. After it left Lexington six of the regulars were taken prisoners.

Concord was described in 1775, by Ensign Berniere, as follows: "It lies between two hills, that command it entirely. There is a river runs through it, with two bridges over it. In[Pg 8] summer it is pretty dry. The town is large, and contains a church, jail, and court-house; but the houses are not close together, but in little groups." The road from Lexington entered Concord from the southeast along the side of a hill, which commences on the right of it about a mile below the village, rises abruptly from thirty to fifty feet above the road, and terminates at the northeasterly part of the square. The top forms a plain, which commands a view of the town. Here was the liberty-pole. The court-house stood near the present county-house. The main branch of the Concord River flows sluggishly, in a serpentine direction, on the westerly and northerly side of the village, about half a mile from its centre. This river was crossed by two bridges—one called the Old South bridge—the other, by the Rev. William Emerson's, called the Old North bridge. The road beyond the North bridge led to Colonel James Barrett's, about two miles from the centre of the town.

Dr. Samuel Prescott, whose escape has been related, gave the alarm in Lincoln and Concord. It was between one and two o'clock in the morning when the quiet community of Concord were aroused from their slumbers by the sounds of the church-bell. The committee of safety, the military officers, and prominent citizens assembled for consultation. Messengers were despatched toward Lexington for information; the militia and minute-men were formed on the customary parade-ground near the meeting-house; and the inhabitants, with a portion of the militia, under the able superintendence of Colonel Barrett, zealously labored in removing the military stores into the woods and by-places for safety. These scenes were novel and distressing; and among others, Rev. William Emerson, the patriotic clergyman, mingled with the people, and gave counsel and comfort to the terrified women and children.

Reuben Brown, one of the messengers sent to obtain information, returned with the startling intelligence that the British regulars had fired upon his countrymen at Lexington, and were on their march for Concord. It was determined to go out to meet them. A part of the military of Lincoln—the minute-men, under Captain William Smith, and the militia, under Captain Samuel Farrar—had joined the Concord people; and after parading on the Common, some of the companies marched down the Lexington[Pg 9] road until they saw the British two miles from the centre of the town. Captain Minot, with the alarm company, remained in town, and took possession of the hill near the liberty-pole. He had no sooner gained it, however, than the companies that had gone down the road returned with the information that the number of the British was treble that of the Americans. The whole then fell back to an eminence about eighty rods distance, back of the town, where they formed in two battalions. Colonel Barrett, the commander, joined them here, having previously been engaged in removing the stores. They had scarcely formed when the British troops appeared in sight at the distance of a quarter of a mile, and advancing with great celerity—their arms glittering in the splendor of early sunshine. But little time remained for deliberation. Some were in favor of resisting the further approach of the troops; while others, more prudent, advised a retreat and a delay until further reënforcements should arrive. Colonel Barrett ordered the militia to retire over the North bridge to a commanding eminence about a mile from the centre of the town.

The British troops then marched into Concord in two divisions—one by the main road, and the other on the hill north of it, from which the Americans had just retired. They were posted in the following manner:

The grenadiers and light infantry, under the immediate command of Colonel Smith, remained in the centre of the town. Captain Parsons, with six light companies, about two hundred men, was detached to secure the North bridge and to destroy stores, who stationed three companies, under Captain Laurie, at the bridge, and proceeded with the other three companies to the residence of Colonel Barrett, about two miles distant, to destroy the magazines deposited there. Captain Pole, with a party, was sent, for a similar purpose, to the South bridge. The British met with but partial success in the work of destruction, in consequence of the diligent concealment of the stores. In the centre of the town they broke open about sixty barrels of flour, nearly half of which was subsequently saved; knocked off the trunnions of three iron twenty-four-pound cannon, and burned sixteen new carriage-wheels and a few barrels of wooden trenchers and spoons. They cut down the liberty-pole, and set the[Pg 10] court-house on fire, which was put out, however, by the exertions of Mrs. Moulton. The parties at the South bridge and at Colonel Barrett's met with poor success. While engaged in this manner the report of guns at the North bridge put a stop to their proceedings.

The British troops had been in Concord about two hours. During this time the minute-men from the neighboring towns had been constantly arriving on the high grounds, a short distance from the North bridge, until they numbered about four hundred fifty. They were formed in line by Joseph Hosmer, who acted as adjutant. It is difficult, if not impossible, to ascertain certainly what companies were present thus early in the day. They came from Carlisle, from Chelmsford, from Westford, from Littleton, and from Acton. The minute-men of Acton were commanded by Captain Isaac Davis, a brave and energetic man. Most of the operations of the British troops were visible from this place of rendezvous, and several fires were seen in the middle of the town. Anxious apprehensions were then felt for its fate. A consultation of officers and of prominent citizens was held. It was probably during this conference that Captain William Smith, of Lincoln, volunteered, with his company, to dislodge the British guard at the North bridge. Captain Isaac Davis, as he returned from it to his ranks, also remarked, "I haven't a man that's afraid to go." The result of this council was that it was expedient to dislodge the guard at the North bridge. Colonel Barrett accordingly ordered the militia to march to it, and to pass it, but not to fire on the King's troops unless they were fired upon. He designated Major John Buttrick to lead the companies to effect this object. Lieutenant-Colonel Robinson volunteered to accompany him. On the march Major Buttrick requested Colonel Robinson to act as his superior, but he generously declined.

It was nearly ten o'clock in the morning when the Provincials, about three hundred in number, arrived near the river. The company from Acton was in front, and Major Buttrick, Colonel Robinson, and Captain Davis were at their head. Captains David Brown, Charles Miles, Nathan Barrett, and William Smith, with their companies, and also other companies, fell into the line. Their positions, however, are not precisely known.[Pg 11] They marched in double file, and with trailed arms. The British guard, under Captain Laurie, about one hundred in number, were then on the west side of the river, but on seeing the Provincials approach they retired over the bridge to the east side of the river, formed as if for a fight, and began to take up the planks of the bridge. Major Buttrick remonstrated against this and ordered his men to hasten their march.

When they had arrived within a few rods of the bridge the British began to fire upon them. The first guns, few in number, did no execution; others followed with deadly effect. Luther Blanchard, a fifer in the Acton company, was first wounded; and afterward Captain Isaac Davis and Abner Hosmer, of the same company, were killed. On seeing the fire take effect Major Buttrick exclaimed, "Fire, fellow-soldiers! for God's sake, fire!" The Provincials then fired, and killed one and wounded several of the enemy. The fire lasted but a few minutes. The British immediately retreated in great confusion toward the main body—a detachment from which was soon on its way to meet them. The Provincials pursued them over the bridge, when one of the wounded of the British was cruelly killed by a hatchet.

Part of the Provincials soon turned to the left, and ascended the hill on the east of the main road, while another portion returned to the high grounds, carrying with them the remains of the gallant Davis and Hosmer. Military order was broken, and many who had been on duty all the morning and were hungry and fatigued improved the time to take refreshment. Meantime the party under Captain Parsons—who was piloted by Ensign Berniere—returned from Captain Barrett's house, repassed the bridge where the skirmish took place, and saw the bodies of their companions, one of which was mangled. It would have been easy for the Provincials to have cut them off. But war had not been declared; and it is evident that it had not been fully resolved to attack the British troops. Hence this party of about one hundred were allowed, unmolested, to join the main body. Colonel Smith concentrated his force, obtained conveyances for the wounded, and occupied about two hours in making preparations to return to Boston—a delay that nearly proved fatal to the whole detachment.

While these great events were occurring at Lexington and[Pg 12] Concord, the intelligence of the hostile march of the British troops was spreading rapidly through the country; and hundreds of local communities, animated by the same determined and patriotic spirit, were sending out their representatives to the battle-field. The minute-men, organized and ready for action, promptly obeyed the summons to parade. They might wait in some instances to receive a parting blessing from their minister, or to take leave of weeping friends; but in all the roads leading to Concord, they were hurrying to the scene of action. They carried the firelock that had fought the Indian, and the drum that beat at Louisburg; and they were led by men who had served under Wolfe at Quebec. As they drew near the places of bloodshed and massacre they learned that in both cases the regulars had been the aggressors—"had fired the first"—and they were deeply touched by the slaughter of their brethren. Now the British had fairly passed the Rubicon. If any still counselled forbearance, moderation, peace, the words were thrown away. The assembling bands felt that the hour had come in which to hurl back the insulting charges on their courage that had been repeated for years, and to make good the solemn words of their public bodies. And they determined to attack on their return the invaders of their native soil.

Colonel Smith, about twelve o'clock, commenced his march for Boston. His left was covered by a strong flank-guard that kept the height of land that borders the Lexington road, leading to Merriam's Corner; his right was protected by a brook; the main body marched in the road. The British soon saw how thoroughly the country had been alarmed. It seemed, one of them writes, that "men had dropped from the clouds," so full were the hills and roads of the minute-men. The Provincials left the high grounds near the North bridge and went across the pastures known as "the Great Fields," to Bedford road. Here the Reading minute-men, under Major Brooks, afterward Governor Brooks, joined them; and a few minutes after, Colonel William Thompson, with a body of militia from Billerica and vicinity, came up. It is certain, from the diaries and petitions of this period, that minute-men from other towns also came up in season to fire upon the British while leaving Concord.

The Reverend Foster, who was with the Reading company,[Pg 13] relates the beginning of the afternoon contest in the following manner: "A little before we came to Merriam's hill we discovered the enemy's flank-guard, of about eighty or one hundred men, who, on their retreat from Concord, kept that height of land, the main body in the road. The British troops and the Americans at that time were equally distant from Merriam's Corner. About twenty rods short of that place the Americans made a halt. The British marched down the hill, with very slow but steady step, without music, or a word being spoken that could be heard. Silence reigned on both sides. As soon as the British had gained the main road, and passed a small bridge near that corner, they faced about suddenly and fired a volley of musketry upon us. They overshot; and no one, to my knowledge, was injured by the fire. The fire was immediately returned by the Americans, and two British soldiers fell dead, at a little distance from each other, in the road, near the brook."

The battle now began in earnest, and as the British troops retreated a severe fire was poured in upon them from every favorable position. Near Hardy's hill, the Sudbury company, led by Captain Nathaniel Cudworth, attacked them, and there was a severe skirmish below Brooks' Tavern on the old road north of the school-house. The woods lined both sides of the road which the British had to pass, and it was filled with the minute-men. "The enemy," says Mr. Foster, "was now completely between two fires, renewed and briskly kept up. They ordered out a flank-guard on the left to dislodge the Americans from their posts behind large trees, but they only became a better mark to be shot at." A short and sharp battle ensued. And for three or four miles along these woody defiles the British suffered terribly. Woburn had "turned out extraordinary"; it sent out a force one hundred eighty strong, "well armed and resolved in defence of the common cause." Major Loammi Baldwin, afterward Colonel Baldwin, was with this body. At Tanner brook, at Lincoln bridge, they concluded to scatter, make use of the trees and walls as defences, and thus attack the British. And in this way they kept on pursuing and flanking them. In Lincoln, also, Captain Parker's brave Lexington company again appeared in the field, and did efficient service. "The enemy," says Colonel Baldwin, "marched very fast, and left many dead and[Pg 14] wounded and a few tired." Eight were buried in Lincoln graveyard. It was at this time that Captain Jonathan Wilson, of Bedford, Nathaniel Wyman, of Billerica, and Daniel Thompson, of Woburn, were killed.

In Lexington, at Fiske's hill, an officer on a fine horse, with a drawn sword in his hand, was actively engaged in directing the troops, when a number of the pursuers, from behind a pile of rails, fired at him with effect. The officer fell, and the horse, in affright, leaped the wall, and ran toward those who had fired. It was here that Lieutenant-Colonel Smith was severely wounded in the leg. At the foot of this hill a personal contest between James Hayward, of Acton, and a British soldier took place. The Briton drew up his gun, remarking, "You are a dead man!" "And so are you!" answered Hayward. The former was killed. Hayward was mortally wounded and died the next day.

The British troops, when they arrived within a short distance of Lexington Meeting-house, again suffered severely from the close pursuit and the sharp fire of the Provincials. Their ammunition began to fail, while their light companies were so fatigued as to be almost unfitted for service. The large number of wounded created confusion, and many of the troops rather ran than marched in order. For some time the officers in vain tried to restore discipline. They saw the confusion increase under their efforts, until, at last, they placed themselves in front, and threatened the men with death if they advanced. This desperate exertion, made under a heavy fire, partially restored order. The detachment, however, must have soon surrendered had it not in its extreme peril found shelter in the hollow square of a reënforcement sent to their relief.

General Gage received, early in the morning, a request from Colonel Smith for a reënforcement. About nine o'clock he detached three regiments of infantry and two divisions of marines, with two field-pieces, under Lord Percy, to support the grenadiers and light infantry. Lord Percy marched through Roxbury, to the tune of Yankee Doodle to the great alarm of the country. To prevent or to impede his march, the select-men of Cambridge had the planks of the Old bridge, over which he was obliged to pass, taken up; but instead of being removed, they were piled on the causeway on the Cambridge[Pg 15] side of the river. Hence Lord Percy found no difficulty in replacing them so as to admit his troops to cross. But a convoy of provisions was detained until it was out of the protection of the main body. This was captured at West Cambridge. According to Gordon, Rev. Dr. Payson led this party. David Lamson, a half-Indian, distinguished himself in the affair. Percy's brigade met the harassed and retreating troops about two o'clock, within half a mile of Lexington Meeting-house. "They were so much exhausted with fatigue," the British historian Stedman writes, "that they were obliged to lie down for rest on the ground, their tongues hanging out of their mouths like those of dogs after a chase." The field-pieces from the high ground below Monroe's Tavern played on the Provincials, and for a short period there was, save the discharge of cannon, a cessation of battle. From this time, however, the troops committed the most wanton destruction. Three houses, two shops, and a barn were laid in ashes in Lexington; buildings on the route were defaced and plundered, and individuals were grossly abused.

At this time, Dr. Warren and General Heath were active in the field, directing and encouraging the militia. General Heath was one of the generals who were authorized to take the command when the minute-men should be called out. On his way to the scene of action he ordered the militia of Cambridge to make a barricade of the planks of the bridge, take post there, and oppose the retreat of the British in that direction from Boston. At Lexington, when the minute-men were somewhat checked and scattered by Percy's field-pieces, he labored to form them into military order. Dr. Warren, about ten o'clock, rode on horseback through Charlestown. He had received by express intelligence of the events of the morning, and told the citizens of Charlestown that the news of the firing was true. Among others he met Dr. Welsh, who said, "Well, they are gone out." "Yes," replied the doctor, "and we'll be up with them before night."

Lord Percy had now under his command about eighteen hundred troops of undoubted bravery and of veteran discipline. He evinced no disposition, however, to turn upon his assailants and make good the insulting boasts of his associates. After a short interval of rest and refreshment the British recommenced[Pg 16] their retreat. Then the Provincials renewed their attack. In West Cambridge the skirmishing again became sharp and bloody and the troops increased their atrocities. Jason Russell, an invalid and a noncombatant, was barbarously butchered in his own house. In this town a mother was killed while nursing her child. Others were driven from their dwellings, and their dwellings were pillaged. Here the Danvers company, which marched in advance of the Essex regiment, met the enemy. Some took post in a walled enclosure, and made a breastwork of bundles of shingles; others planted themselves behind trees on the side of the hill west of the meeting-house. The British came along in solid column on their right, while a large flank guard came up on their left. The Danvers men were surrounded, and many were killed and wounded. Here Samuel Whittemore was shot and bayoneted, and left for dead. Here Dr. Eliphalet Downer, in single combat with a soldier, killed him with a bayonet. Here a musket-ball struck a pin out of the hair of Dr. Warren's earlock.

The wanton destruction of life and property that marked the course of the invaders added revenge to the natural bravery of the minute-men. "Indignation and outraged humanity struggled on the one hand; veteran discipline and desperation on the other." The British had many struck in West Cambridge, and left an officer wounded in the house still standing at the rail-road depot. The British troops took the road that winds round Prospect hill. When they entered this part of Charlestown their situation was critical. The large numbers of the wounded proved a distressing obstruction to their progress, while they had but few rounds of ammunition left. Their field-pieces had lost their terror. The main body of the Provincials hung closely on their rear; a strong force was advancing upon them from Roxbury, Dorchester, and Milton; while Colonel Pickering, with the Essex militia, seven hundred strong, threatened to cut off their retreat to Charlestown.

Near Prospect hill the fire again became sharp and the British again had recourse to their field-pieces. James Miller, of Charlestown, was killed here. Along its base, Lord Percy, it is stated, received the hottest fire he had during his retreat. General Gage, about sunset, might have beheld his harassed troops,[Pg 17] almost on the run, coming down the old Cambridge road to Charlestown Neck, anxious to get under the protection of the guns of the ships-of-war. The minute-men closely followed, but, when they reached the Charlestown Common, General Heath ordered them to stop the pursuit.

Charlestown, throughout the day, presented a scene of intense excitement and great confusion. It was known early in the morning that the regulars were out. Rumors soon arrived of the events that had occurred at Lexington. The schools were dismissed, and citizens gathered in groups in the streets. After Dr. Warren rode through the town, and gave the certain intelligence of the slaughter at Lexington, a large number went out to the field, and the greater part who remained were women and children. Hon. James Russell received, in the afternoon, a note from General Gage to the effect that he had been informed that citizens had gone out armed to oppose his majesty's troops, and that if a single man more went out armed the most disagreeable consequences might be expected. It was next reported, and correctly, that Cambridge bridge had been taken up, and that hence the regulars would be obliged to return to Boston through the town. Many then prepared to leave, and every vehicle was employed to carry away their most valuable effects. Others, however, still believing the troops would return the way they went out, determined to remain, and in either event to abide the worst. Just before sunset the noise of distant firing was heard, and soon the British troops were seen in the Cambridge road.

The inhabitants then rushed toward the neck. Some crossed Mystic River, at Penny Ferry. Some ran along the marsh, toward Medford. The troops, however, soon approached the town, firing as they came along. A lad, Edward Barber, was killed on the neck. The inhabitants then turned back into the town panic-stricken.

Word ran through the crowd that "the British were massacring the women and children!" Some remained in the streets, speechless with terror; some ran to the clay-pits, back of Breed's Hill, where they passed the night. The troops, however, offered no injury to the inhabitants. Their officers directed the women and children, half-distracted with fright, to go into their houses, and they would be safe, but requested them to hand out drink to[Pg 18] the troops. The main body occupied Bunker Hill, and formed a line opposite the neck. Additional troops also were sent over from Boston. The officers flocked to the tavern in the square, where the cry was for drink. Guards were stationed in various parts of the town. One was placed at the neck, with orders to permit no one to go out. Everything, during the night, was quiet. Some of the wounded were carried over immediately, in the boats of the Somerset, to Boston. General Pigot had the command in Charlestown the next day, when the troops all returned to their quarters.

The Americans lost forty-nine killed, thirty-nine wounded, and five missing. A committee of the Provincial Congress estimated the value of the property destroyed by the ravages of the troops to be: In Lexington, £1761 15s. 5d.; in Concord, £274 16s. 7d.; in Cambridge, £1202 8s. 7d. Many petitions of persons who engaged the enemy on this day are on file. They lost guns or horses or suffered other damage. The General Court indemnified such losses.

The British lost seventy-three killed, one hundred seventy-four wounded, and twenty-six missing—the most of whom were taken prisoners. Of these, eighteen were officers, ten sergeants, two drummers, and two hundred forty were rank and file. Lieutenant Hall, wounded at the North bridge, was taken prisoner on the retreat, and died the next day. His remains were delivered to General Gage. Lieutenant Gould was wounded at the bridge, and taken prisoner, and was exchanged, May 28th, for Josiah Breed, of Lynn. He had a fortune of one thousand nine hundred pounds a year, and is said to have offered two thousand pounds for his ransom. The prisoners were treated with great humanity, and General Gage was notified that his own surgeons, if he desired it, might dress the wounded.

[Pg 19]


a.d. 1775


This action, which took place about two months after the Battle of Lexington, though resulting in the physical defeat of the Americans, proved for them a moral victory. As at Lexington and Concord, the colonial soldiers showed that they were prepared to stand their ground in defence of the cause which called them to arms, and Bunker Hill became a watchword of the Revolution. This event also made it clear that the contest must be fought out. Thenceforth the two sides in the war were sharply defined.

The immediate occasion of this battle was the necessity, as seen by the British general, Gage, of driving the Americans from an eminence commanding Boston. This elevation was one of several hills on a peninsula just north of the town and running out into the harbor. It was the intention of the Americans to seize and fortify Bunker Hill, but for some unexplained reason they took Breed's Hill, much nearer Boston, and there the battle was mainly fought. Breed's Hill is now usually called Bunker Hill, and upon it stands the Bunker Hill monument.

The following accounts of the battle are all from British writers; one is that of the English officer General Burgoyne, who was afterward defeated at Saratoga; another is by the English historical author Jesse, whose best work covers the reign of George III. The third is from James Grahame, a native of Glasgow, Scotland, who died in 1842, of whose History of America a high authority says: "The thoroughly American spirit in which it is written prevented the success of the book in England." The historian Prescott gave it high praise for accuracy and fairness.


Now ensued one of the greatest scenes of war that can be conceived. If we look to the height, Howe's corps, ascending the hill in face of intrenchments, and in a very disadvantageous ground, was much engaged; to the left the enemy, pouring in fresh troops by thousands over the land; and in the arm of the sea our ships and floating batteries, cannonading them. Straight[Pg 20] before us a large and noble town[26] in one great blaze; and the church-steeples, being timber, were great pyramids of fire above the rest. Behind us the church-steeples and heights of our own camp covered with spectators of the rest of our army which was engaged; the hills round the country also covered with spectators; the enemy all in anxious suspense; the roar of cannon, mortars, and musketry; the crash of churches, ships upon the stocks, and whole streets falling together, to fill the ear; the storm of the redoubts, with the objects above described, to fill the eye; and the reflection that perhaps a defeat was a final loss to the British empire of America, to fill the mind, made the whole a picture and a complication of horror and importance beyond anything that ever came to my lot to witness.


About 11 p.m. on June 16th a detachment of about a thousand men, who had previously joined solemnly together in prayer, ascended silently and stealthily a part of the heights known as Bunker Hill, situated within cannon range of Boston and commanding a view of every part of the town. This brigade was composed chiefly of husbandmen, who wore no uniform, and who were armed with fowling-pieces only, unequipped with bayonets. The person selected to command them on this daring service was one of the lords of the soil of Massachusetts, William Prescott, of Pepperell, the colonel of a Middlesex regiment of militia. "For myself," he said to his men, "I am resolved never to be taken alive." Preceded by two sergeants bearing dark-lanterns, and accompanied by his friends, Colonel Gridley and Judge Winthrop, the gallant Prescott, distinguished by his tall and commanding figure, though simply attired in his ordinary calico smock-frock, calmly and resolutely led the way to the heights. Those who followed him were not unworthy of their leader.

It was half-past eleven before the engineers commenced drawing the lines of the redoubt. As the first sod was being upturned, the clocks of Boston struck twelve. More than once during the night—which happened to be a beautifully calm and starry one—Colonel[Pg 21] Prescott descended to the shore, where the sound of the British sentinels walking their rounds, and their exclamations of "All's well!" as they relieved guard, continued to satisfy him that they entertained no suspicion of what was passing above their heads. Before daybreak the Americans had thrown up an intrenchment, which extended from the Mystic to a redoubt on their left. The astonishment of Gage, when on the following morning he found this important site in the hands of the enemy, may be readily conceived. Obviously not a moment was to be lost in attempting to dislodge them; and accordingly a detachment, under General Howe, was at once ordered on this critical service.

In the mean time a heavy cannonade, first of all from the Lively (sloop-of-war), and afterward from a battery of heavy guns from Copp's hill, in Boston, was opened upon the Americans. Exposed, however, as they were to a storm of shot and shell, unaccustomed, as they also were, to face an enemy's fire, they nevertheless pursued their operations with the calm courage of veteran soldiers.

Late in the day, indeed, when the scorching sun rose high in the cloudless heavens, when the continuous labors of so many hours threatened to prostrate them, and when they waited, but waited in vain, for provisions and refreshments, the hearts of a few began to fail them, and the word retreat was suffered to escape from their lips. There was among them, however, a master spirit, whose cheering words and chivalrous example never failed to restore confidence. On the spot—where now a lofty column, overlooking the fair landscape and calm waters, commemorates the events of that momentous day—was then seen, conspicuous above the rest, the form of Prescott of Pepperell, in his calico frock, as he paced the parapet to and fro, instilling resolution into his followers by the contempt which he manifested for danger, and amid the hottest of the British fire delivering his orders with the same serenity as if he had been on parade. "Who is that person?" inquired Governor Gage of a Massachusetts gentleman, as they stood reconnoitring the American works from the opposite side of the river Charles. "My brother-in-law, Colonel Prescott," was the reply. "Will he fight?" asked Gage. "Ay," said the other, "to the last drop of his blood."[Pg 22]

It was after 3 p.m. when General Howe's detachment, consisting of about two thousand men, landed at Charlestown and formed for the attack. Prescott's instructions to his men, as the British approached, were sufficiently brief. "The red-coats," he said, "will never reach the redoubt if you will but withhold your fire till I give the order, and be careful not to shoot over their heads." In the mean time, ascending the hill under the protection of a heavy cannonade, the British infantry had advanced unmolested to within a few yards of the enemy's works, when Prescott gave the word "Fire!" So promptly and effectually were his orders obeyed that nearly the whole front rank of the British fell. Volley after volley was now opened upon them from behind the intrenchments, till at length even the bravest began to waver and fall back; some of them, in spite of the threats and passionate entreaties of their officers, even retreating to the boats.

Minutes, many minutes apparently, elapsed before the British troops were rallied and returned to the attack, exposed to the burning rays of the sun, encumbered with heavy knapsacks containing provisions for three days, compelled to toil up very disadvantageous ground with grass reaching to their knees, clambering over rails and hedges, and led against men who were fighting from behind intrenchments and constantly receiving reënforcements by hundreds—few soldiers, perhaps, but British infantry would have been prevailed upon to renew the conflict. Again, however, they advanced to the charge; again, when within five or six rods of the redoubt, the same tremendous discharge of musketry was opened upon them; and again, in spite of many heroic examples of gallantry set them by their officers, they retreated in the same disorder as before.

By this time the grenadiers and light infantry had lost three-fourths of their men; some companies had only eight or nine men left, one or two had even fewer. When the Americans looked forth from their intrenchments the ground was literally covered with the wounded and dead. According to an American who was present, "the dead lay as thick as sheep in a fold." For a few seconds General Howe was left almost alone. Nearly every officer of his staff had been either killed or wounded. The Americans, who have done honorable justice to his gallantry,[Pg 23] remarked that, conspicuous as he stood in his general officer's uniform, it was a marvel that he escaped unhurt. He retired, but it was with the stern resolve of a hero to rally his men—to return and vanquish.

The third and last attack made by General Howe upon the enemy's intrenchments appears to have taken place after a considerably longer interval than the previous one. This interval was employed by Prescott in addressing words of confidence and exhortation to his followers, to which their cheers returned an enthusiastic response. "If we drive them back once more," he said, "they cannot rally again." General Howe, in the mean time, by disencumbering his men of their knapsacks, and by bringing the British artillery to play so as to rake the interior of the American breastwork, had greatly enhanced his chances of success. Once more, at the word of command, in steady unbroken line, the British infantry mounted to the deadly struggle; once more the cheerful voice of Prescott exhorted his men to reserve their fire till their enemies were close upon them; once more the same deadly fire was poured down upon the advancing royalists. Again on their part there was a struggle, a pause, an indication of wavering; but on this occasion it was only momentary. Onward and headlong against breastwork and against vastly superior numbers dashed the British infantry, with a heroic devotion never surpassed in the annals of chivalry. Almost in a moment of time, in spite of a second volley as destructive as the first, the ditch was leaped and the parapet mounted.

In that final charge fell many of the bravest of the brave. Of the Fifty-second regiment alone, three captains, the moment they stood on the parapet, were shot down. Still the English infantry continued to pour forward, flinging themselves among the American militiamen, who met them with a gallantry equal to their own. The powder of the latter having by this time become nearly exhausted, they endeavored to force back their assailants with the butt-ends of their muskets. But the British bayonets carried all before them. Then it was, when further resistance was evidently fruitless, and not till then, that the heroic Prescott gave the order to retire. From the nature of the ground it was necessarily more a flight than a retreat. Many of the Americans,[Pg 24] leaping over the walls of the parapet, attempted to fight their way through the British troops; while the majority endeavored to escape by the narrow entrance to the redoubt. In consequence of the fugitives being thus huddled together, the slaughter became terrific.

"Nothing," writes a young British officer, who was engaged in the mêlée, "could be more shocking than the carnage that followed the storming of this work. We tumbled over the dead to get at the living, who were crowding out of the gap of the redoubt, in order to form under the defences which they had prepared to cover their retreat." Prescott was one of the last to quit the scene of slaughter. Although more than one British bayonet had pierced his clothes, he escaped without a wound.

That night the British intrenched themselves on the heights, lying down in front of the recent scene of contest. The loss in killed and wounded was ten hundred fifty-four. According to the American account their loss was one hundred forty-five killed and three hundred four wounded; of their six pieces of artillery, they only succeeded in carrying off one.

Such was the result of the famous Battle of Bunker Hill, a contest from which Great Britain derived little advantage beyond the credit of having achieved a brilliant passage of arms, but which, on the other hand, produced the significant effect of manifesting, not only to the Americans themselves, but to Europe, that the colonists could fight with a steadiness and courage which ere long might render them capable of coping with the disciplined troops of the mother-country.


About the latter part of May, a great part of the reënforcements ordered from Great Britain arrived at Boston. Three British generals, Howe, Burgoyne, and Clinton, whose behavior in the preceding war had gained them great reputation, arrived about the same time. General Gage, thus reënforced, prepared for acting with more decision; but before he proceeded to extremities, he conceived it due to ancient forms to issue a proclamation, holding forth to the inhabitants the alternative of peace or war. He therefore offered pardon, in the King's name, to all who should forthwith lay down their arms and return to their[Pg 25] respective occupations and peaceable duties: excepting only from the benefit of that pardon "Samuel Adams and John Hancock, whose offences were said to be of too flagitious a nature to admit of any other consideration than that of condign punishment." He also proclaimed that not only the persons above named and excepted, but also all their adherents, associates, and correspondents, should be deemed guilty of treason and rebellion, and treated accordingly. By this proclamation it was also declared "that as the courts of judicature were shut, martial law should take place till a due course of justice should be reëstablished."

It was supposed that this proclamation was a prelude to hostilities; and preparations were accordingly made by the Americans. A considerable height, by the name of Bunker Hill, just at the entrance of the peninsula of Charlestown, was so situated as to make the possession of it a matter of great consequence to either of the contending parties. Orders were therefore issued, by the provincial commanders, that a detachment of a thousand men should intrench upon this height. By some mistake, Breed's Hill, high and large like the other, but situated nearer Boston, was marked out for the intrenchments, instead of Bunker Hill. The provincials proceeded to Breed's Hill and worked with so much diligence that between midnight and the dawn of the morning they had thrown up a small redoubt about eight rods square. They kept such a profound silence that they were not heard by the British, on board their vessels, though very near. These having derived their first information of what was going on from the sight of the works, early completed, began an incessant firing upon them.

The provincials bore this with firmness, and, though they were only young soldiers, continued to labor till they had thrown up a small breastwork extending from the east side of the redoubt to the bottom of the hill. As this eminence overlooked Boston, General Gage thought it necessary to drive the provincials from it. About noon, therefore, he detached Major-General Howe and Brigadier-General Pigot, with the flower of his army, consisting of four battalions, ten companies of the grenadiers and ten of light infantry, with a proportion of field artillery, to effect this business. These troops landed at Moreton's Point, and[Pg 26] formed after landing, but remained in that position till they were reënforced by a second detachment of light infantry and grenadier companies, a battalion of land forces, and a battalion of marines, making in the whole nearly three thousand men. While the troops who first landed were waiting for this reënforcement, the provincials, for their further security, pulled up some adjoining post and rail fences, and set them down in two parallel lines at a small distance from each other, and filled the space between with hay, which, having been lately mowed, was found lying on the adjacent ground.

The King's troops formed in two lines, and advanced slowly to give their artillery time to demolish the American works. While the British were advancing to the attack they received orders to burn Charlestown. These were not given because they were fired upon from the houses in that town, but from the military policy of depriving enemies of a cover in their approaches. In a short time this ancient town, consisting of about five hundred buildings, chiefly of wood, was in one great blaze. The lofty steeple of the meeting-house formed a pyramid of fire above the rest, and struck the astonished eyes of numerous beholders with a magnificent but awful spectacle. In Boston the heights of every kind were covered with citizens, and such of the King's troops as were not on duty. The hills around the adjacent country, which afforded a safe and distinct view, were occupied by the inhabitants of the country.

Thousands, both within and without Boston, were anxious spectators of the bloody scene. Regard for the honor of the British army caused hearts to beat high in the breasts of many; while others, with keener sensibilities, sorrowed for the liberties of a great and growing country. The British moved on slowly, which gave the provincials a better opportunity for taking aim. The latter, in general, reserved their fire until their adversaries were within ten or twelve rods, and then began a furious discharge of small arms. The stream of the American fire was so incessant, and did so great execution, that the King's troops retreated with precipitation and disorder. Their officers rallied them and pushed them forward with their swords; but they returned to the attack with great reluctance. The Americans again reserved their fire till their adversaries were near, and[Pg 27] then put them a second time to flight. General Howe and the officers redoubled their exertions, and were again successful, though the soldiers displayed a great aversion to going on. By this time the powder of the Americans began so far to fail that they were not able to keep up the same brisk fire. The British then brought some cannon to bear, which raked the inside of the breastwork from end to end. The fire from the ships, batteries, and field artillery was redoubled; the soldiers in the rear were goaded on by their officers. The redoubt was attacked on three sides at once. Under these circumstances a retreat from it was ordered, but the provincials delayed so long, and made resistance with their discharged muskets as if they had been clubs, that the King's troops, who had easily mounted the works, half filled the redoubt before it was given up to them.

While these operations were going on at the breastwork and redoubt, the British light infantry were attempting to force the left point of the former, that they might take the American line in flank. Though they exhibited the most undaunted courage, they met with an opposition which called for its greatest exertions. The provincials reserved their fire till their adversaries were near, and then discharged it upon the light infantry in such an incessant stream, and with so true an aim, as that it quickly thinned their ranks. The engagement was kept up on both sides with great resolution. The persevering exertions of the King's troops could not compel the Americans to retreat till they observed that their main body had left the hill. This, when begun, exposed them to new dangers; for it could not be effected but by marching over Charlestown Neck, every part of which was raked by the shot of the Glasgow (man-of-war) and of two floating batteries. The incessant fire kept up across the Neck prevented any considerable reënforcement from joining their countrymen who were engaged; but the few who fell on their retreat over the same ground proved that the apprehensions of those provincial officers, who declined passing over to succor their companies, were without any solid foundation.

The number of Americans engaged amounted only to fifteen hundred. It was apprehended that the conquerors would push the advantage they had gained, and march immediately to American head-quarters at Cambridge; but they advanced no[Pg 28] farther than Bunker Hill. There they threw up works for their own security. The provincials did the same, on Prospect Hill, in front of them. Both were guarding against an attack; and both were in a bad condition to receive one. The loss of the peninsula depressed the spirits of the Americans; and the great loss of men produced the same effect on the British. There have been few battles in modern wars in which, all circumstances considered, there was a greater destruction of men than in this short engagement.

The loss of the British, as acknowledged by General Gage, amounted to one thousand fifty-four. Nineteen commissioned officers were killed and seventy more were wounded. The Battle of Quebec, in 1759, which gave Great Britain the colony of Canada, was not so destructive to British officers as this affair of a slight intrenchment, the work only of a few hours. That the officers suffered so much must be imputed to their being aimed at. None of the provincials in this engagement were riflemen, but they were all good marksmen. The whole of their previous military knowledge had been derived from hunting and the ordinary amusements of sportsmen. The dexterity which by long habit they had acquired in hitting beast, birds, and marks, was fatally applied to the destruction of British officers. From their fall, much confusion was expected. They were therefore particularly singled out. Most of those who were near the person of General Howe were either killed or wounded; but the General, though he greatly exposed himself, was unhurt. The light infantry and grenadiers lost three-fourths of their men. Of one company not more than five, and of another not more than fourteen, escaped.

The unexpected resistance of the Americans was such as wiped away the reproach of cowardice, which had been cast upon them by their enemies in Britain. The spirited conduct of the British officers merited and obtained great applause; but the provincials were justly entitled to a large share of the glory for having made the utmost exertions of their adversaries necessary to dislodge them from lines which were the work of only a single night.

The Americans lost five pieces of cannon. Their killed amounted to one hundred thirty-nine; their wounded and missing,[Pg 29] to three hundred fourteen. Thirty of the former fell into the hands of the conquerors. They particularly regretted the death of General Warren. To the purest patriotism and most undaunted bravery he added the virtues of domestic life, the eloquence of an accomplished orator, and the wisdom of an able statesman. Only a regard for the liberty of his country induced him to oppose the measures of Government. He aimed not at a separation from, but a coalition with, the mother-country.

The burning of Charlestown, though a place of great trade, did not discourage the provincials. It excited resentment and execration, but not any disposition to submit. Such was the high-strung state of the public mind, and so great the indifference of property when put in competition with liberty, that military conflagrations, though they distressed and impoverished, had no tendency to subdue, the colonists. Such means might suffice in the Old World, but were not effectual in the New, where the war was undertaken, not for a change of masters, but for securing essential rights.

The action at Breed's Hill, or Bunker Hill, as it has since been commonly called, produced many and very important consequences. It taught the British so much respect for the Americans, intrenched behind works, that their subsequent operations were retarded with a caution that wasted away a whole campaign to very little purpose. It added to the confidence the Americans began to have in their own abilities. It inspired some of the leading members of Congress with such high ideas of what might be done by militia, or men engaged for a short term of enlistment, that it was long before they assented to the establishment of a permanent army.


[26] Charlestown. A body of American riflemen, posted in the houses, galled the left line as it marched; therefore, by Howe's orders, the town was set on fire.

[Pg 30]



a.d. 1775


At the outbreak of the Revolutionary War there was a belief, or at least a hope, among the thirteen rebellious colonies that Canada would join them and thus enable the entire continent to present a united front against England. Had she done so the course of Canadian and perhaps of American destiny would have been widely changed.

The condition of Canada was different from that of the more southern colonies, in that it was a conquered country, guarded by British soldiers. The great majority of the inhabitants were of French descent; until 1760 they had been under French rule; and it was hoped that, especially in the Quebec Province and along the St. Lawrence Valley, the French habitants would seize eagerly on an opportunity for revolt. An expedition was therefore planned under Generals Montgomery and Arnold; and though it failed, so great was the heroism of the men who attempted it that we may leave their story to their foes to tell. The following account is by the standard Canadian historian McMullen.

That Canada was saved to England from this, the first and most serious of the invasions of her independent neighbors to the south, was due chiefly to Sir Guy Carleton, the able general then governing the Province and commanding the British forces there. It was due also to the French clergy, who favored British rule and bade their parishioners stand neutral or even urged them to fight against the invaders.

The American Congress, in 1775, believed the Canadian people to be favorable to their cause, and resolved to anticipate the British by striking a decided blow in the North. They accordingly despatched a force of nearly two thousand men, under Schuyler and Montgomery, to penetrate into Canada by the Richelieu. After taking the forts along that river, they were next to possess themselves of Montreal, and then descend to Quebec, and form a junction there with Colonel Arnold, who was to proceed up the Kennebec with eleven hundred men and surprise the capital of Canada if possible.[Pg 31]

On September 5th the American army arrived at the Ileaux-Noix, whence Schuyler and Montgomery scattered a proclamation among the Canadians stating that they came only against the British, and had no design whatever on the lives, the properties, or religion of the inhabitants. General Schuyler being unwell now returned to Albany, and the chief command devolved on Montgomery, who, having received a reënforcement, invested Fort St. John on the 17th, and at the same time sent some troops to attack the fort at Chambly, while Ethan Allan was despatched with a reconnoitring party toward Montreal. Allan accordingly proceeded to the St. Lawrence, and being informed that the town was weakly defended, and believing the inhabitants were favorable to the Americans, he resolved to capture it by surprise, although his force was under two hundred men. General Carleton had already arrived at Montreal to make disposition for the protection of the frontier. Learning on the night of the 24th that a party of Americans had crossed the river and were marching on the town, he promptly drew together two hundred fifty of the local militia, chiefly English and Irish, and with thirty men of the Twenty-sixth regiment, in addition, prepared for its defence. Allan, however, instead of proceeding to attack Montreal, becoming intimidated, took possession of some houses and barns in the neighborhood, where he was surrounded next day and compelled to surrender after a loss of five killed and ten wounded. The British lost their commanding officer, Major Carsden, Alexander Paterson, a merchant of Montreal, and two privates. Allan and his men were sent prisoners to England, where they were confined in Pendennis castle.

While these occurrences were transpiring at Montreal, Montgomery was vigorously pressing forward the siege of Fort St. John, which post was gallantly defended by Major Preston of the Twenty-sixth regiment. His conduct was not imitated by Major Stopford, of the Seventh, who commanded at Chambly, and who surrendered, in a cowardly manner, on two hundred Americans appearing before the works with two six-pounders. This was a fortunate event for Montgomery, whose powder was nearly exhausted, and who now procured a most seasonable supply from the captured fort. His fire was again renewed, but[Pg 32] was bravely replied to by the garrison, who hoped that General Carleton would advance and raise the siege. This the latter was earnestly desirous to do, and drew together all the militia he could collect and the few troops at his disposal for that purpose, and pushed across the river toward Longueil on one of the last days of October. General Montgomery had foreseen this movement, and detached a force, with two field-pieces, to prevent it. This force took post near the river, and allowed the British to approach within pistol-shot of the shore, when they opened such a hot fire of musketry and cannon that General Carleton was compelled to order a retreat on Montreal. Montgomery duly apprized Major Preston of these occurrences, and the garrison being now short of provisions and ammunition, and without any hope of succor, surrendered on October 31st, and marched out with all the honors of war.

With Fort St. John and Chambly a large portion of the regular troops in Canada was captured, and the Governor was in no condition to resist the American army, the main body of which now advanced upon Montreal, while a strong detachment proceeded to Sorel, to cut off the retreat of the British toward Quebec. General Carleton, with Brigadier Prescott and one hundred twenty soldiers, left Montreal, after destroying all the public stores possible, just as the American army was entering it. At Sorel, however, their flight was effectually intercepted by an armed vessel and some floating batteries, and Prescott, finding it impossible to force a passage, was compelled to surrender. The night before, General Carleton fortunately eluded the vigilance of the Americans, and passed down the river in a boat with muffled oars. Montgomery treated the people of Montreal with great consideration, and gained their good-will by the affability of his manners and the nobleness and generosity of his disposition.

While the main body of the American invading force had been completely successful thus far, Arnold sailed up the Kennebec, and proceeded through the vast forests lying between it and the St. Lawrence, in the hope of surprising Quebec. The sufferings of his troops from hunger and fatigue were of the most severe description. So great were their necessities that they were obliged to eat dog's flesh, and even the leather of their[Pg 33] cartouch-boxes; still, they pressed on with unflagging zeal and wonderful endurance, and arrived at Point Levi on November 9th. But their approach was already known at Quebec. Arnold had enclosed a letter for Schuyler to a friend in that city, and imprudently intrusted its delivery to an Indian, who carried it to the Lieutenant-Governor. The latter immediately began to make defensive preparations, and when the Americans arrived on the opposite side of the river they found all the shipping and boats removed, and a surprise out of the question.

On the 12th Colonel M'Clean, who had retreated from Sorel, arrived at Quebec, with a body of Fraser's Highlanders, who had settled in the country, were now reëmbodied, and amounted to one hundred fifty men. In addition to these there were four hundred eighty Canadian militia, five hundred British, and some regular troops and seamen for the defence of the town. The Hunter (sloop-of-war) gave the garrison the command of the river, yet, despite the vigilance exercised by her commander, Arnold crossed over during the night of the 13th, landed at Wolfe's Cove, and next morning appeared on the Plains of Abraham, where he gave his men three cheers, which were promptly responded to by the besieged, who in addition complimented them with a few discharges of grape-shot, which compelled them to retire. Finding he could effect nothing against the city, Arnold retired up the river to Point-aux-Trembles, to await the arrival of Montgomery.

On the 19th, to the great joy of the garrison, General Carleton arrived from Montreal, bringing down with him two armed schooners which had been lying at Three Rivers. One of his first measures was to strengthen the hands of the loyalists, by ordering those liable to serve in the militia, and who refused to be enrolled, to quit the city within four days. By this means several disaffected persons were got rid of, and the garrison was speedily raised to eighteen hundred men, who had plenty of provisions for eight months.

On December 1st Montgomery joined Arnold at Point-aux-Trembles, when their united forces, amounting to about two thousand men, proceeded to attack Quebec, in the neighborhood of which they arrived on the 4th, and soon after quartered their men in the houses of the suburbs. Montgomery now sent a flag[Pg 34] to summon the besieged to surrender, but this was fired upon by order of General Carleton, who refused to hold any intercourse with the American officers. Highly indignant at this treatment, the besiegers proceeded to construct their batteries, although the weather was intensely cold. But their artillery was too light to make any impression on the fortifications, the fire from which cut their fascines to pieces and dismounted their guns; so Montgomery determined to carry the works by escalade. He accordingly assembled his men on December 30th and made them a very imprudent speech, in which he avowed his resolution of attacking the city by storm. A deserter carried intelligence of his intention that very day to General Carleton, who made the necessary preparations for defence. On the night of the 31st the garrison pickets were on the alert. Nothing, however, of importance occurred till next morning, when Captain Fraser, the field officer on duty, on going his rounds, perceived some suspicious signals at St. John's Gate, and immediately turned out the guard, when a brisk fire was opened by a body of the enemy, concealed by a snow-bank. This was a mere feint to draw off attention from the true points of attack, at the southern and northern extremities of the Lower Town. It had, however, the effect of putting the garrison more completely on their guard, and thus was fatal to the plans of the assailants.

Montgomery led a column of five hundred men toward the southern side of the town, and halted to reconnoitre at a short distance from the first battery, near the Près de Ville, defended chiefly by Canadian militia, with nine seamen to work the guns, the whole under the command of Captain Barnsfair. The guard were on the alert, and the sailors with lighted matches waited the order to fire, while the strictest silence was preserved. Presently the officer who had made the reconnoissance returned and reported everything still. The Americans now rushed forward to the attack, when Barnsfair gave the command to fire, and the head of the assailing column went instantly down under the unexpected and fatal discharge of guns and musketry. The survivors made a rapid retreat, leaving thirteen of their dead behind to be shrouded in the falling snow, among whom was the gallant Montgomery. Of a good family in the north of Ireland, he had served under Wolfe with credit, married an American[Pg 35] lady, Miss Livingston, after the peace, and had joined the cause of the United States with great enthusiasm.

At the other end of the Lower Town Arnold at the head of six hundred men had assaulted the first barrier with great impetuosity, meeting with little resistance. He was wounded in the first onset and borne to the rear. But his place was ably supplied by Captain Morgan, who forced the guard and drove them back to a second barrier, two hundred yards nearer the centre of the town. Owing to the prompt arrangements, however, of General Carleton, who soon arrived on the ground, the Americans were speedily surrounded, driven out of a strong building by the bayonet, and compelled to surrender to the number of four hundred twenty-six, including twenty-eight officers. In this action the garrison had ten men killed and thirteen wounded; the American loss in killed and wounded was about one hundred.

The besieging force was now reduced to a few hundred men, and they were at a loss whether to retreat toward home or continue the siege. As they were in expectation of soon receiving aid they at length determined to remain in the neighborhood, and elected Arnold as their general, who contented himself with a simple blockade of the besieged, at a considerable distance from the works. Carleton would have now gladly proceeded to attack him, but several of the Canadians outside the city were disaffected, as well as many persons within the defences, and he considered, with his motley force, his wisest course was to run no risk, and wait patiently for the succor which the opening of navigation must give him.

During the month of February a small reënforcement from Massachusetts and some troops from Montreal raised Arnold's force to over one thousand men, and he now resumed the siege, but could make no impression on the works. His men had already caught the smallpox, and the country people becoming more and more unwilling to supply provisions, his difficulties increased rather than diminished. When the Americans first came into the country the habitants were disposed to sell them what they required at a fair price, and a few hundred of the latter even joined their army. But they soon provoked the hostility of the bulk of the people by a want of respect for their clergy, by compelling them to furnish articles below the current prices, and by[Pg 36] giving them illegal certificates of payment, which were rejected by the American quartermaster-general. In this way the Canadians began gradually to take a deeper interest in the struggle in progress, and to regard the British as their true friends and protectors, while they came to look upon the Americans as a band of armed plunderers, who made promises they had no intention of performing, and refused to pay their just debts.

All the Canadians now required was a proper leader and a system of organization to cause them to act vigorously against Arnold. Even in the absence of these requisites they determined to raise the siege, and, led by a gentleman of the name of Beajeau, a force advanced toward Quebec, on March 25th, but was defeated by the Americans, and compelled to retreat. This check, however, did not discourage the Canadians, who now resolved to surprise a detachment of the enemy at Point Levi. By some means their design became known, and they were very roughly handled.

The month of April passed without producing any events of importance. The Americans had meanwhile been reënforced to over two thousand men, and Major-General Thomas had arrived to take the command. The smallpox still continued to rage among them; besides they could make no impression on the fortifications, and the hostile attitude of the Canadians disheartened them, so nothing was effected. On May 5th Thomas called a council of war, at which an immediate retreat was determined on.

On the following morning, to the great joy of the besieged, the Surprise frigate and a sloop arrived in the harbor, with one hundred seventy men of the Twenty-ninth regiment and some marines, who were speedily landed. Now General Carleton at once resolved on offensive operations, and marched out at noon with one thousand men and a few field-pieces to attack the Americans. But the latter did not await his approach, and fled with the utmost precipitation, leaving all their cannon, stores, ammunition, and even their sick behind. These were treated with the utmost attention by General Carleton, whose humanity won the esteem of all his prisoners, who were loud in his praise on returning home. For his services during the siege the Governor was knighted by his sovereign.[Pg 37]

The Americans retreated as rapidly as possible for a distance of forty-five miles up the river, but finding they were not pursued they halted for a few days to rest themselves. They then proceeded in a distressed condition to Sorel, where they were joined by some reënforcements, and where, also, their general, Thomas, died of the smallpox, which still continued to afflict them. He was succeeded in the chief command by General Sullivan.

Meantime some companies of the Eighth regiment, which were scattered through the frontier posts on the Lakes, had descended to Ogdensburg. From thence Captain Forster was detached, on May 11th, with one hundred twenty-six soldiers and an equal number of Indians, to capture a stockade at the Cedars, garrisoned by three hundred ninety Americans, under the command of Colonel Bedell. The latter surrendered on the 19th, after sustaining only a few hours' fire of musketry, and the following day one hundred men advancing to his assistance were attacked by the Indians and a few Canadians. A smart action ensued which lasted for ten minutes, when the Americans laid down their arms and were marched prisoners to the fort, where they were with difficulty saved from massacre.

After providing for the safety of his numerous prisoners, Forster pushed down the river toward Lachine, but, learning that Arnold was advancing to attack him with a force treble his own number, he halted and prepared for action. Placing his men in an advantageous position on the edge of the river, and spreading the Indians out on his flanks, he made such a stout defence that the Americans were compelled to retire to St. Anne's. Forster, encumbered with his prisoners, now proposed a cartel, which Arnold at once assented to, and an exchange was effected, on May 27th, for two majors, nine captains, twenty subalterns, and four hundred forty-three privates. This cartel was broken by Congress, on the ground that the prisoners had been cruelly used, which was not the case. They had been treated with all the humanity possible, when the difficulty of guarding so large a number, with less than three hundred men, is taken into consideration.

While these events were in progress above Montreal, a large body of troops had arrived from England, under the command[Pg 38] of Major-General Burgoyne. Brigadier Fraser was at once sent on by the Governor with the first division to Three Rivers. While the troops still remained on board their transports off this place, General Thompson advanced with eighteen hundred men to surprise the town, and would have effected his object had not one of his Canadian guides escaped and warned the British of his approach. General Fraser immediately landed his troops, with several field-pieces, and posted them so advantageously that the Americans were speedily defeated, their general, his second in command, and five hundred men made prisoners, while, the retreat of their main body being cut off, they were compelled to take shelter in a wood full of swamps. Here they remained in great distress till the following day, when General Carleton, who had meanwhile come up, humanely drew the guard from the bridge over the Rivière du Loup, and allowed them to escape toward Sorel. Finding themselves unable to oppose the force advancing against them, the American army, under Sullivan, retreated to Crown Point, whither Arnold also retired from Montreal on June 15th. Thus terminated the invasion of Canada, which produced no advantage to the American cause, but on the contrary aroused the hostility of the inhabitants and drew them closer to Great Britain.

[Pg 39]


a.d. 1776


Among historic acts and political deliverances there is none more weighty in significance and results, none more famous in the annals of the world, than the American Declaration of Independence. The document which preserves it to all ages is "a witness to the world that freedom, resting not on institutions, but on the necessities of human nature, is no mere abstract idea, but a vital principle of national life."

At the beginning of 1776 the tide of public opinion in the colonies was setting strongly toward national independence. Lexington and Bunker Hill had spoken their message to America and to the British Government. All the other colonies had come into line with New England. The earliest declaration of independence, that of the people of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina (May, 1775), had preluded the general proclamation. The second Continental Congress was at work with growing legislative powers; the New England forces had been adopted as the Continental Army, with Washington as commander-in-chief; that army was besieging the British in Boston; and a movement was in progress against Canada. In March, 1776, Boston was evacuated. On June 28th a British attack on Sullivan's Island, off Charleston, South Carolina, was repulsed by Moultrie. Before the end of 1775 the Continental Congress had ordered the building of several ships—the nucleus of the American navy—and its sea-power was rapidly increased by privateers. Meanwhile King George III and his minister, Lord North, had continued their coercive policy and strengthened their war measures.

Thomas Paine's Common Sense, published early in 1776, one of the most effective popular appeals that ever "went to the bosoms of a nation," completed the preparation of the public mind for the great step about to be taken by the Congress.

Jefferson's account of the proceedings day by day, given in his own Memoirs, is the best contemporary record of the momentous deliberations and decision of this body, assembled in Independence Hall, Philadelphia. A quarter of a century before, upon the fillet of the "Liberty Bell," which hung in the steeple of that Old State House, had been cast the words of ancient Hebrew Scripture: "Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof."[Pg 40]

Doyle's reflections, as representing an enlightened English view of the Declaration and the great struggle which it lifted to its climax, is placed as a suggestive commentary after the uncolored narrative of the chief author of the great instrument itself.


In Congress, Friday, June 7, 1776, the delegates from Virginia moved, in obedience to instructions from their constituents, that the Congress should declare that these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; that measures should be immediately taken for procuring the assistance of foreign powers, and a confederation be formed to bind the colonies more closely together.

The House being obliged to attend at that time to some other business, the proposition was referred to the next day, when the members were ordered to attend punctually at ten o'clock.

Saturday, June 8th. They proceeded to take it into consideration, and referred it to a committee of the whole, into which they immediately resolved themselves, and passed that day and Monday, the 10th, in debating on the subject.

It was argued by Wilson, Robert R. Livingston, E. Rutledge, Dickinson, and others—that, though they were friends to the measures themselves, and saw the impossibility that we should ever again be united with Great Britain, yet they were against adopting them at this time:

That the conduct we had formerly observed was wise, and proper now, of deferring to take any capital step till the voice of the people drove us into it:

That they were our power, and without them our declarations could not be carried into effect:

That the people of the middle colonies (Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, the Jerseys, and New York) were not yet ripe for bidding adieu to British connection, but that they were fast ripening, and, in a short time, would join in the general voice of America:

That the resolution, entered into by this House on May 15th, for suppressing the exercise of all powers derived from the Crown,[Pg 41] had shown, by the ferment into which it had thrown these middle colonies, that they had not yet accommodated their minds to a separation from the mother-country:

That some of them had expressly forbidden their delegates to consent to such a declaration, and others had given no instructions, and consequently no powers to give such consent:

That if the delegates of any particular colony had no power to declare such colony independent, certain they were the others could not declare it for them, the colonies being as yet perfectly independent of each other:

That the Assembly of Pennsylvania was now sitting above stairs, their convention would sit within a few days, the convention of New York was now sitting, and those of the Jerseys and Delaware counties would meet on the Monday following, and it was probable these bodies would take up the question of Independence, and would declare to their delegates the voice of their State:

That if such a declaration should now be agreed to, these delegates must retire, and possibly their colonies might secede from the Union:

That such a secession would weaken us more than could be compensated by any foreign alliance:

That in the event of such a division, foreign powers would either refuse to join themselves to our fortunes, or, having us so much in their power as that desperate declaration would place us, they would insist on terms proportionately more hard and prejudicial:

That we had little reason to expect an alliance with those to whom alone as yet we had cast our eyes:

That France and Spain had reason to be jealous of that rising power, which would one day certainly strip them of all their American possessions:

That it was more likely they should form a connection with the British court, who, if they should find themselves unable otherwise to extricate themselves from their difficulties, would agree to a partition of our territories, restoring Canada to France, and the Floridas to Spain, to accomplish for themselves a recovery of these colonies:

That it would not be long before we should receive certain[Pg 42] information of the disposition of the French court, from the agent whom we had sent to Paris for that purpose:

That if this disposition should be favorable by waiting the event of the present campaign, which we all hoped would be successful, we should have reason to expect an alliance on better terms:

That this would in fact work no delay of any effectual aid from such ally, as, from the advance of the season and distance of our situation, it was impossible we could receive any assistance during this campaign:

That it was prudent to fix among ourselves the terms on which we should form alliance, before we declared we would form one at all events:

And that if these were agreed on, and our Declaration of Independence ready by the time our ambassador should be prepared to sail, it would be as well as to go into the Declaration at this day.

On the other side, it was urged by J. Adams, Lee, Wythe, and others that no gentleman had argued against the policy or the right of separation from Britain, nor had supposed it possible we should ever renew our connection; that they had only opposed its being now declared:

That the question was not whether, by a Declaration of Independence, we should make ourselves what we are not; but whether we should declare a fact which already exists:

That, as to the people or Parliament of England, we had always been independent of them, their restraints on our trade deriving efficacy from our acquiescence only, and not from any rights they possessed of imposing them, and that so far, our connection had been federal only, and was now dissolved by the commencement of hostilities:

That, as to the King, we had been bound to him by allegiance, but that this bond was now dissolved by his assent to the last act of Parliament, by which he declares us out of his protection, and by his levying war on us, a fact which had long ago proved us out of his protection; it being a certain position in law, that allegiance and protection are reciprocal, the one ceasing when the other is withdrawn:

That James the II never declared the people of England out[Pg 43] of his protection, yet his actions proved it, and the Parliament declared it:

No delegates then can be denied, or ever want, a power of declaring an existing truth:

That the delegates from the Delaware counties having declared their constituents ready to join, there are only two colonies, Pennsylvania and Maryland, whose delegates are absolutely tied up, and that these had, by their instructions, only reserved a right of confirming or rejecting the measure:

That the instructions from Pennsylvania might be accounted for from the times in which they were drawn, near a twelvemonth ago, since which the face of affairs has totally changed:

That within that time it had become apparent that Britain was determined to accept nothing less than a carte-blanche, and that the King's answer to the lord mayor, aldermen and common-council of London, which had come to hand four days ago, must have satisfied everyone of this point:

That the people wait for us to lead the way:

That they are in favor of the measure, though the instructions given by some of their representatives are not:

That the voice of the representatives is not always consonant with the voice of the people, and that this is remarkably the case in these middle colonies:

That the effect of the resolution of May 15th has proved this, which, raising the murmurs of some in the colonies of Pennsylvania and Maryland, called forth the opposing voice of the freer part of the people, and proved them to be the majority even in these colonies:

That the backwardness of these two colonies might be ascribed, partly to the influence of proprietary power and connections, and partly to their having not yet been attacked by the enemy:

That these causes were not likely to be soon removed, as there seemed no probability that the enemy would make either of these the seat of this summer's war:

That it would be vain to wait either weeks or months for perfect unanimity, since it was impossible that all men should ever become of one sentiment on any question:

That the conduct of some colonies, from the beginning of this[Pg 44] contest, had given reason to suspect it was their settled policy to keep in the rear of the confederacy, that their particular prospect might be better, even in the worst event:

That, therefore, it was necessary for those colonies who had thrown themselves forward and hazarded all from the beginning, to come forward now also, and put all again to their own hazard:

That the history of the Dutch Revolution, of whom three states only confederated at first, proved that a secession of some colonies would not be so dangerous as some apprehended:

That a declaration of independence alone could render it consistent with European delicacy, for European powers to treat with us, or even to receive an ambassador from us:

That till this they would not receive our vessels into their ports, nor acknowledge the adjudications of our courts of admirality to be legitimate in cases of capture of British vessels:

That though France and Spain may be jealous of our rising power, they must think it will be much more formidable with the addition of Great Britain; and will therefore see it their interest to prevent a coalition; but should they refuse, we shall never know whether they will aid us or not:

That the present campaign may be unsuccessful, and therefore we had better propose an alliance while our affairs wear a hopeful aspect:

That to wait the event of this campaign will certainly work delay, because, during the summer, France may assist us effectually, by cutting off those supplies of provisions from England and Ireland on which the enemy's armies here are to depend; or by setting in motion the great power they have collected in the West Indies, and calling our enemy to the defence of the possessions they have there:

That it would be idle to lose time in settling the terms of alliance, till we had first determined we would enter into alliance:

That it is necessary to lose no time in opening a trade for our people, who will want clothes, and will want money too for the payment of taxes:

And that the only misfortune is that we did not enter into alliance with France six months sooner, as, besides opening her ports for the vent of our last year's produce, she might have[Pg 45] marched an army into Germany, and prevented the petty princes there from selling their unhappy subjects to subdue us.

It appearing in the course of these debates that the colonies of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and South Carolina were not yet matured for falling from the parental stem, but that they were fast advancing to that state, it was thought most prudent to wait a while for them, and to postpone the final decision to July 1st; but, that this might occasion as little delay as possible, a committee was appointed to prepare a Declaration of Independence. The committee were John Adams, Dr. Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston, and myself. Committees were also appointed, at the same time, to prepare a plan of confederation for the colonies, and to state the terms proper to be proposed for foreign alliance.

The committee for drawing the Declaration of Independence desired me to do it. It was accordingly done, and, being approved by them, I reported it to the House on Friday, June 28th, when it was read, and ordered to lie on the table. On Monday, July 1st, the House resolved itself into a committee of the whole, and resumed the consideration of the original motion made by the delegates of Virginia, which, being again debated through the day, was carried in the affirmative by the votes of New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia. South Carolina and Pennsylvania voted against it. Delaware had but two members present, and they were divided. The delegates of New York declared they were for it themselves, and were assured their constituents were for it; but that their instructions having been drawn near a twelvemonth before, when reconciliation was still the general object, they were enjoined by them to do nothing which should impede that object. They, therefore, thought themselves not justifiable in voting on either side, and asked leave to withdraw from the question; which was given them.

The committee rose and reported their resolution to the House. Mr. Edward Rutledge, of South Carolina, then requested the determination might be put off to the next day, as he believed his colleagues, though they disapproved of the resolution, would then join in it for the sake of unanimity. The ultimate question, whether the House would agree to the resolution[Pg 46] of the committee, was accordingly postponed to the next day, when it was again moved, and South Carolina concurred in voting for it.

In the mean time a third member had come post from the Delaware counties, and turned the vote of that colony in favor of the resolution. Members of a different sentiment attending that morning from Pennsylvania also, her vote was changed, so that the whole twelve colonies who were authorized to vote at all, gave their voices for it; and, within a few days, the convention of New York approved of it; and thus supplied the void occasioned by the withdrawing of her delegates from the vote.

Congress proceeded the same day to consider the Declaration of Independence, which had been reported and laid on the table the Friday preceding, and on Monday referred to a committee of the whole. The pusillanimous idea that we had friends in England worth keeping terms with still haunted the minds of many. For this reason, those passages which conveyed censures on the people of England were struck out, lest they should give them offence. The clause, too, reprobating the enslaving the inhabitants of Africa, was struck out in complaisance to South Carolina and Georgia, who had never attempted to restrain the importation of slaves, and who, on the contrary, still wished to continue it.

Our northern brethren also, I believe, felt a little tender under those censures; for though their people had very few slaves themselves, yet they had been pretty considerable carriers of them to others. The debates, having taken up the greater parts of July 2d, 3d, and 4th, were, on the evening of the last, closed; the Declaration was reported by the committee, agreed to by the House, and signed by every member present except Mr. Dickinson.


Before this it had become evident that to defer any longer the formation of an independent government was to keep up an unnecessary source of weakness. Already the voice of the nation had protested unmistakably against the longer continuance of anarchy. The first definite step toward such a change had been taken in 1775 by New Hampshire. On October 11th their delegates[Pg 47] had petitioned Congress to allow them to establish a government, but Congress, having still hopes of the success of the petition, had deferred answering their appeal. The majority of Congress saw at last that independence was only a question of time. An answer was sent to the Convention of New Hampshire, recommending it to form a government. Similar advice was sent the next day to South Carolina, and a little later to Virginia. Yet New Hampshire shrank from so decisive a step, and coupled the formation of their new government with a studious expression of their allegiance. Virginia showed a nobler spirit.

In January the convention passed a motion, instructing their delegates to recommend Congress to throw their ports open to all nations, and thus to cast off the commercial supremacy of England. But the mere establishment of independent State governments was not enough. An imperial government, also independent of England, was essential. To establish independence without confederation would be only doing half the work. In the words of Franklin, "We must all hang together, unless we would all hang separately." About this time Franklin's scheme for a confederation was laid before Congress. The scheme did not include, but it evidently implied, independence. Franklin had been throughout a strenuous advocate of reconciliation, as long as reconciliation was possible, and his opinion ought to have convinced all that the time for separation had come. But the timid counsels of his colleague, Dickinson, overruled the motion, and the scheme of a confederation was not even formally considered. On February 16th the question of opening the ports was formally laid before Congress. In the next month measures were taken which clearly showed that independence was at hand. A private agent was sent to France by the authority of the committee of secret correspondence, and the instructions of the commissioners sent to Canada contained a clause inviting the people of Canada to "set up such a form of government as will be most likely in their judgment to produce their happiness." The clause was objected to as implying independence, and gave rise to a debate, but was ultimately carried. At last, after seven weeks' deliberation, the Congress resolved to emancipate the colonies from all commercial restrictions, and on April 6th the ports of America were thrown open to the world.[Pg 48]

On March 27th South Carolina proceeded to construct a government. They asserted as their principle of action that the good of the people is the origin and end of all government, and they set forth the misconduct of the King, the Parliament, and the officers of the English Government. At the same time they introduced no change into the system of representation or the qualification of voters. On May 4th the Assembly of Rhode Island passed an act discharging the inhabitants of the colony from allegiance to the King, and at the same time authorized its delegates in Congress to conclude a treaty with any independent power for the security of the colonies. On May 6th the Assembly of Virginia met at Williamsburg. After a declaration that all pacific measures were useless, and that "they had no alternative left but an abject submission to the will of those overbearing tyrants, or a total separation from the Crown and Government of Great Britain," they passed two resolutions; the first empowering their delegates at the convention to propose a declaration of independence and a confederation of the colonies; the second appointing a committee to draw up a declaration of rights and a scheme of government for the colony. On June 12th the Declaration of Rights was laid before the Assembly, and on the 29th a constitution was produced.

The Assembly then proceeded to elect a governor. The choice fell on Patrick Henry. Rightly was he, who had first foreseen independence and bidden his countrymen look the danger of it in the face, deemed worthy to be the first to govern the State which he had called into being. All the colonies except Pennsylvania and Maryland followed the example of Virginia, and when, on July 1st, the motion for independence was laid before the Congress, the delegates of nine colonies were pledged to vote in its favor. The delegates of Pennsylvania and Maryland were divided, those of South Carolina unanimously opposed independence. The New York delegates were all in favor of independence, and represented the opinion of the colony, but could not vote, as their convention had not yet been duly elected. When the question came forward for decision next day, Dickinson, who had opposed it on the first day with great earnestness, stayed away, as did one of his colleagues, and the vote of Pennsylvania was altered. Another delegate arrived from Delaware, whose[Pg 49] vote turned the scale, and South Carolina, rather than stand alone, withdrew its opposition. New York alone was unable to vote, and on July 2d, by the decision of twelve colonies, without one adverse vote, it was resolved "that these united colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent states; that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the state of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved." Seldom was the irony of history more strikingly illustrated than when Hancock, a rebel specially selected for proscription by the English government, put the question to the vote, and declared the American colonies forever independent.

Thomas Jefferson, of Virginia, was selected to draw up the Declaration which had been resolved upon. His pen had already served his country. In 1774 he had published A Summary View of the Rights of British America, setting forth the dangers which menaced the country, and encouraging the people in defence of their liberties. He had signalized himself in his own colony by his opposition to slavery. "Wherever he was, there was found a soul devoted to the cause of liberty, power to defend and maintain it, and willingness to incur all its hazards."

On July 4th the Declaration was produced. It declared the abstract principles on which their secession was justified; it then drew up an indictment against the King, in eighteen heads, setting forth the various ways in which he had proved himself "a tyrant unfit to be the ruler of a free people." Finally it declared that the united colonies were free and independent states; that the connection with Great Britain was and ought to be totally dissolved, and that as free and independent states, they had full power to "levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent states may of right do."

Seldom in human events do the facts of history carry their own explanation so clearly with them. A people who had grown up gradually, almost unconsciously, under democratic institutions, at last saw those institutions subverted. To preserve the spirit of them, they changed their form. We must not be misled into the error of underrating the importance of the American struggle by any idea of the insignificance of the issue at stake.[Pg 50] We must not suppose that it was, as an earnest and eloquent writer has called it, "a war for the vindication of the principle of representative taxation." Its immediate origin, it is true, involved no vital interest, such as often has been at stake when nations have risen against their rulers. But "rebellions may fall out on small occasions; they do not spring from small causes," was said by the first and wisest of political philosophers. Taxation was, as Burke says, that by which the colonists felt the pulse of liberty, "and as they found that beat, they thought themselves sick or sound."

The whole key to the American Revolution lies in two facts; it was a democratic and a conservative revolution. It was the work of the people, and its end was to preserve, not to destroy or to construct afresh. The policy of an early father of New England, "In a revolution burn all, and build afresh," was far from being that of his descendants. Throughout the whole War of Independence the colonists had a fixed known end in view. More than that, they had already within themselves the means for effecting that end, and making it enduring, as far as what is human can endure. The future that they proposed to themselves was not independent of their past: it was a fuller development of it. There was no need for beginning with the year one, or for throwing aside as worn out anything that their ancestors had left them. And it was essentially a democratic revolution. Throughout, the movement came from the people. The very blunders made by the hesitation and timidity of Congress were the mistakes of an assembly of delegates, not of representative statesmen. When the final step was taken, the Congress was not the originator of it, but was little more than a mouthpiece giving expression to the declared wishes of the nation.

[Pg 51]


a.d. 1777


Viewed by itself, the victory over Burgoyne might have little appearance of being one of the decisive battles of the world, among which Creasy reckons it. That it acquired such importance was due, as Creasy himself shows, to its direct consequences, especially its influence upon the French. It led them to espouse the American cause, and by their aid the Revolution was brought to a successful ending.

Since the Declaration of Independence the American forces had met with varying fortunes. They had been defeated in the Battle of Long Island, August 27, 1776, and at White Plains, October 28th. Forts Washington and Lee, defences of the Hudson, were both lost, and the Americans retreated through New Jersey. By a masterly return movement Washington retrieved the situation, winning the Battle of Trenton, December 26, 1776, and that of Princeton, January 3, 1777. On August 16, 1777, Stark gained the Battle of Bennington, but within a month (September 11th) Washington was beaten by Howe on the Brandywine, and the Americans suffered defeat at Germantown October 4th. In this state of affairs the movements of Burgoyne, who had invaded New York from Canada, were watched with deep concern on both sides.

The final operations between the Americans and Burgoyne's forces included two engagements, which are often spoken of as the Battles of Saratoga, also as the Battles of Stillwater or of Bemis' Heights, from the local names.

The first of these actions, that of September 19, 1777, in which Gates, with Morgan and Arnold under him, commanded the Americans, was indecisive. Under the same commanders the Americans (October 7th) won the decisive victory which Creasy describes. His opening statement shows the modern English sentiment concerning the American Revolution, and this feeling finds its correlative in the gradual change of tone on the part of American writers.

The war which rent away the North American colonies from England is, of all subjects in history, the most painful for an Englishman to dwell on. It was commenced and carried on by the British ministry in iniquity and folly, and it was concluded in disaster and shame. But the contemplation of it cannot be[Pg 52] evaded by the historian, however much it may be abhorred. Nor can any military event be said to have exercised more important influence on the future fortunes of mankind than the complete defeat of Burgoyne's expedition in 1777; a defeat which rescued the revolted colonists from certain subjection, and which, by inducing the courts of France and Spain to attack England in their behalf, insured the independence of the United States, and the formation of that transatlantic power which not only America, but both Europe and Asia, now see and feel.

Still, in proceeding to describe this "decisive battle of the world," a very brief recapitulation of the earlier events of the war may be sufficient; nor shall I linger unnecessarily on a painful theme.

The five Northern colonies of Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Vermont, usually classed together as the New England colonies, were the strongholds of the insurrection against the mother-country. The feeling of resistance was less vehement and general in the central settlement of New York, and still less so in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and the other colonies of the South, although everywhere it was formidably strong.

But it was among the descendants of the stern Puritans that the spirit of Cromwell and Vane breathed in all its fervor; it was from the New Englanders that the first armed opposition to the British crown had been offered; and it was by them that the most stubborn determination to fight to the last, rather than waive a single right or privilege, had been displayed. In 1775 they had succeeded in forcing the British troops to evacuate Boston; and the events of 1776 had made New York—which the royalists captured in that year—the principal basis of operations for the armies of the mother-country.

A glance at the map will show that the Hudson River, which falls into the Atlantic at New York, runs down from the north at the back of the New England States, forming an angle of about forty-five degrees with the line of the coast of the Atlantic, along which the New England States are situate. Northward of the Hudson we see a small chain of lakes communicating with the Canadian frontier. It is necessary to attend closely to these geographical points in order to understand the plan of the operations[Pg 53] which the English attempted in 1777, and which the battle of Saratoga defeated.

The English had a considerable force in Canada, and in 1776 had completely repulsed an attack which the Americans had made upon that province. The British ministry resolved to avail themselves, in the next year, of the advantage which the occupation of Canada gave them, not merely for the purpose of defence, but for the purpose of striking a vigorous and crushing blow against the revolted colonies. With this view the army in Canada was largely reënforced. Seven thousand veteran troops were sent out from England, with a corps of artillery, abundantly supplied and led by select and experienced officers. Large quantities of military stores were also furnished for the equipment of the Canadian volunteers, who were expected to join the expedition.

It was intended that the force thus collected should march southward by the line of the Lakes, and thence along the banks of the Hudson River. The British army from New York—or a large detachment of it—was to make a simultaneous movement northward, up the line of the Hudson, and the two expeditions were to unite at Albany, a town on that river. By these operations, all communication between the Northern colonies and those of the Centre and South would be cut off. An irresistible force would be concentrated, so as to crush all further opposition in New England; and when this was done, it was believed that the other colonies would speedily submit. The Americans had no troops in the field that seemed able to baffle these movements.

Their principal army, under Washington, was occupied in watching over Pennsylvania and the South. At any rate, it was believed that, in order to oppose the plan intended for the new campaign, the insurgents must risk a pitched battle, in which the superiority of the royalists in numbers, in discipline, and in equipment seemed to promise to the latter a crowning victory. Without question, the plan was ably formed; and had the success of the execution been equal to the ingenuity of the design, the reconquest or submission of the thirteen United States must in all human probability have followed, and the independence which they proclaimed in 1776 would have been extinguished before it existed a second year.[Pg 54]

No European power had as yet come forward to aid America. It is true that England was generally regarded with jealousy and ill-will, and was thought to have acquired, at the Treaty of Paris, a preponderance of dominion which was perilous to the balance of power; but, though many were willing to wound, none had yet ventured to strike; and America, if defeated in 1777, would have been suffered to fall unaided.

Burgoyne had gained celebrity by some bold and dashing exploits in Portugal during the last war; he was personally as brave an officer as ever headed British troops, he had considerable skill as a tactician; and his general intellectual abilities and acquirements were of a high order. He had several very able and experienced officers under him, among whom were Major-General Philips and Brigadier-General Frazer. His regular troops amounted, exclusively of the corps of artillery, to about seven thousand two hundred men, rank and file. Nearly half of these were Germans.

He had also an auxiliary force of from two to three thousand Canadians. He summoned the warriors of several tribes of the red Indians near the Western Lakes to join his army. Much eloquence was poured forth both in America and in England in denouncing the use of these savage auxiliaries. Yet Burgoyne seems to have done no more than Montcalm, Wolfe, and other French, American, and English generals had done before him. But, in truth, the lawless ferocity of the Indians, their unskilfulness in regular action, and the utter impossibility of bringing them under any discipline made their services of little or no value in times of difficulty; while the indignation which their outrages inspired went far to rouse the whole population of the invaded districts into active hostilities against Burgoyne's force.

Burgoyne assembled his troops and confederates near the River Bouquet, on the west side of Lake Champlain. He then, on June 21, 1777, gave his red allies a war-feast, and harangued them on the necessity of abstaining from their usual cruel practices against unarmed people and prisoners. At the same time he published a pompous manifesto to the Americans, in which he threatened the refractory with all the horrors of war, Indian as well as European.

The army proceeded by water to Crown Point, a fortification[Pg 55] which the Americans held at the northern extremity of the inlet, by which the water from Lake George is conveyed to Lake Champlain. He landed here without opposition, but the reduction of Ticonderoga—a fortification about twelve miles to the south of Crown Point—was a more serious matter, and was supposed to be the critical part of the expedition. Ticonderoga commanded the passage along the lakes, and was considered to be the key to the route which Burgoyne wished to follow. The English had been repulsed in an attack on it in the war with the French in 1758, with severe loss. But Burgoyne now invested it with great skill; and the American general, St. Clair, who had only an ill-equipped army of about three thousand men, evacuated it on July 5th.

It seems evident that a different course would have caused the destruction or capture of his whole army, which, weak as it was, was the chief force then in the field for the protection of the New England States. When censured by some of his countrymen for abandoning Ticonderoga, St. Clair truly replied "that he had lost a post, but saved a province." Burgoyne's troops pursued the retiring Americans, gained several advantages over them, and took a large part of their artillery and military stores.

The loss of the British in these engagements was trifling. The army moved southward along Lake George to Skenesborough, and thence, slowly and with great difficulty, across a broken country, full of creeks and marshes, and clogged by the enemy with felled trees and other obstacles, to Fort Edward, on the Hudson River, the American troops continuing to retire before them.

Burgoyne reached the left bank of the Hudson River on July 30th. Hitherto he had overcome every difficulty which the enemy and the nature of the country had placed in his way. His army was in excellent order and in the highest spirits, and the peril of the expedition seemed over when they were once on the bank of the river which was to be the channel of communication between them and the British army in the South. But their feelings, and those of the English nation in general, when their successes were announced, may best be learned from a contemporary writer. Burke, in the Annual Register for 1777, describes them thus:[Pg 56]

"Such was the rapid torrent of success, which swept everything away before the Northern army in its onset. It is not to be wondered at if both officers and private men were highly elated with their good-fortune, and deemed that and their prowess to be irresistible; if they regarded their enemy with the greatest contempt; considered their own toils to be nearly at an end; Albany to be already in their hands; and the reduction of the Northern provinces to be rather a matter of some time than an arduous task full of difficulty and danger.

"At home the joy and exultation were extreme; not only at court, but with all those who hoped or wished the unqualified subjugation and unconditional submission of the colonies. The loss in reputation was greater to the Americans, and capable of more fatal consequences, than even that of ground, of posts, of artillery, or of men. All the contemptuous and most degrading charges which had been made by their enemies, of their wanting the resolution and abilities of men, even in their defence of whatever was dear to them, were now repeated and believed.

"Those who still regarded them as men, and who had not yet lost all affection for them as brethren; who also retained hopes that a happy reconciliation upon constitutional principles, without sacrificing the dignity of the just authority of government on the one side or a dereliction of the rights of freedmen on the other, was not even now impossible, notwithstanding their favorable dispositions in general, could not help feeling upon this occasion that the Americans sunk not a little in their estimation. It was not difficult to diffuse an opinion that the war in effect was over, and that any further resistance could serve only to render the terms of their submission the worse. Such were some of the immediate effects of the loss of those grand keys of North America—Ticonderoga and the Lakes."

The astonishment and alarm which these events produced among the Americans were naturally great; but in the midst of their disasters, none of the colonists showed any disposition to submit. The local governments of the New England States, as well as the Congress, acted with vigor and firmness in their efforts to repel the enemy. General Gates was sent to take the command of the army at Saratoga; and Arnold, a favorite leader of the Americans, was despatched by Washington to act under him,[Pg 57] with reënforcements of troops and guns from the main American army.

Burgoyne's employment of the Indians now produced the worst possible effects. Though he labored hard to check the atrocities which they were accustomed to commit, he could not prevent the occurrence of many barbarous outrages, repugnant both to the feelings of humanity and to the laws of civilized warfare. The American commanders took care that the reports of these excesses should be circulated far and wide, well knowing that they would make the stern New Englanders, not droop, but rage. Such was their effect; and though, when each man looked upon his wife, his children, his sisters, or his aged parents, and thought of the merciless Indian "thirsting for the blood of man, woman, and child," of "the cannibal savage torturing, murdering, roasting, and eating the mangled victims of his barbarous battles," might raise terror in the bravest breasts; this very terror produced a directly contrary effect to causing submission to the royal army.

It was seen that the few friends of the royal cause, as well as its enemies, were liable to be the victims of the indiscriminate rage of the savages; and thus "the inhabitants of the open and frontier countries had no choice of acting: they had no means of security left but by abandoning their habitations and taking up arms. Every man saw the necessity of becoming a temporary soldier, not only for his own security, but for the protection and defence of those connections which are dearer than life itself. Thus an army was poured forth by the woods, mountains, and marches, which in this part were thickly sown with plantations and villages. The Americans recalled their courage, and, when their regular army seemed to be entirely wasted, the spirit of the country produced a much greater and more formidable force."

While resolute recruits, accustomed to the use of fire-arms, and all partially trained by service in the provincial militias, were thus flocking to the standard of Gates and Arnold at Saratoga, and while Burgoyne was engaged at Fort Edward in providing the means of the further advance of the army through the intricate and hostile country that still lay before him, two events occurred, in each of which the British sustained loss and the Americans obtained advantage, the moral effects of which were even more important[Pg 58] than the immediate result of the encounters. When Burgoyne left Canada, General St. Leger was detached from that province with a mixed force of about one thousand men and some light field-pieces across Lake Ontario against Fort Stanwix, which the Americans held. After capturing this, he was to march along the Mohawk River to its confluence with the Hudson, between Saratoga and Albany, where his force and that of Burgoyne's were to unite. But, after some successes, St. Leger was obliged to retreat, and to abandon his tents and large quantities of stores to the garrison.

At the very time that General Burgoyne heard of this disaster he experienced one still more severe in the defeat of Colonel Baum, with a large detachment of German troops, at Bennington, whither Burgoyne had sent them for the purpose of capturing some magazines of provisions, of which the British army stood greatly in need. The Americans, augmented by continual accessions of strength, succeeded, after many attacks, in breaking this corps, which fled into the woods, and left its commander mortally wounded on the field: they then marched against a force of five hundred grenadiers and light infantry, which was advancing to Colonel Baum's assistance under Lieutenant-Colonel Breyman, who, after a gallant resistance, was obliged to retreat on the main army. The British loss in these two actions exceeded six hundred men; and a party of American loyalists, on their way to join the army, having attached themselves to Colonel Baum's corps, were destroyed with it.

Notwithstanding these reverses, which added greatly to the spirit and numbers of the American forces, Burgoyne determined to advance. It was impossible any longer to keep up his communications with Canada by way of the Lakes, so as to supply his army on his southward march; but having, by unremitting exertions, collected provisions for thirty days, he crossed the Hudson by means of a bridge of rafts, and, marching a short distance along its western bank, he encamped on September 14th on the heights of Saratoga, about sixteen miles from Albany. The Americans had fallen back from Saratoga, and were now strongly posted near Stillwater, about half way between Saratoga and Albany, and showed a determination to recede no farther.

Meanwhile Lord Howe, with the bulk of the British army[Pg 59] that had lain at New York, had sailed away to the Delaware, and there commenced a campaign against Washington, in which the English general took Philadelphia, and gained other showy but unprofitable successes. But Sir Henry Clinton, a brave and skilful officer, was left with a considerable force at New York, and he undertook the task of moving up the Hudson to coöperate with Burgoyne. Clinton was obliged for this purpose to wait for reënforcements which had been promised from England, and these did not arrive till September. As soon as he received them, Clinton embarked about three thousand of his men on a flotilla, convoyed by some ships-of-war under Commander Hotham, and proceeded to force his way up the river.

The country between Burgoyne's position at Saratoga and that of the Americans at Stillwater was rugged, and seamed with creeks and water-courses; but, after great labor in making bridges and temporary causeways, the British army moved forward. About four miles from Saratoga, on the afternoon of September 19th, a sharp encounter took place between part of the English right wing, under Burgoyne himself, and a strong body of the enemy, under Gates and Arnold. The conflict lasted till sunset. The British remained masters of the field; but the loss on each side was nearly equal—from five to six hundred men—and the spirits of the Americans were greatly raised by having withstood the best regular troops of the English army.

Burgoyne now halted again, and strengthened his position by field-works and redoubts; and the Americans also improved their defences. The two armies remained nearly within cannon-shot of each other for a considerable time, during which Burgoyne was anxiously looking for intelligence of the promised expedition from New York, which, according to the original plan, ought by this time to have been approaching Albany from the south. At last a messenger from Clinton made his way, with great difficulty, to Burgoyne's camp, and brought the information that Clinton was on his way up the Hudson to attack the American forts which barred the passage up that river to Albany. Burgoyne, in reply, stated his hopes that the promised coöperation would be speedy and decisive, and added that, unless he received assistance before October 10th, he would be obliged to retreat to the Lakes through want of provisions.[Pg 60]

The Indians and Canadians now began to desert Burgoyne, while, on the other hand, Gates' army was continually reënforced by fresh bodies of the militia. An expeditionary force was detached by the Americans, which made a bold though unsuccessful attempt to retake Ticonderoga. And finding the number and spirit of the enemy to increase daily, and his own stores of provisions to diminish, Burgoyne determined on attacking the Americans in front of him, and, by dislodging them from their position, to gain the means of moving upon Albany, or, at least, of relieving his troops from the straitened position in which they were cooped up.

Burgoyne's force was now reduced to less than six thousand men. The right of his camp was on high ground a little to the west of the river; thence his intrenchments extended along the lower ground to the bank of the Hudson, their line being nearly at a right angle with the course of the stream. The lines were fortified in the centre and on the left with redoubts and field-works. The numerical force of the Americans was now greater than the British, even in regular troops, and the numbers of the militia and volunteers which had joined Gates and Arnold were greater still. The right of the American position—that is to say, the part of it nearest to the river—was too strong to be assailed with any prospect of success, and Burgoyne therefore determined to endeavor to force their left. For this purpose he formed a column of fifteen hundred regular troops, with two twelve-pounders, two howitzers, and six six-pounders. He headed this in person, having Generals Philips, Reidesel, and Frazer under him. The enemy's force immediately in front of his lines was so strong that he dared not weaken the troops who guarded them by detaching any more to strengthen his column of attack. The right of the camp was commanded by Generals Hamilton and Spaight; the left part of it was committed to the charge of Brigadier Goll.

It was on October 7th that Burgoyne led his column on to the attack; and on the preceding day, the 6th, Clinton had successfully executed a brilliant enterprise against the two American forts which barred his progress up the Hudson. He had captured them both, with severe loss to the American forces opposed to him; he had destroyed the fleet which the Americans had been[Pg 61] forming on the Hudson, under the protection of their forts; and the upward river was laid open to his squadron. He was now only a hundred fifty-six miles distant from Burgoyne, and a detachment of one thousand seven hundred men actually advanced within forty miles of Albany. Unfortunately, Burgoyne and Clinton were each ignorant of the other's movements; but if Burgoyne had won his battle on the 7th, he must, on advancing, have soon learned the tidings of Clinton's success, and Clinton would have heard of his.

A junction would soon have been made of the two victorious armies, and the great objects of the campaign might yet have been accomplished. All depended on the fortune of the column with which Burgoyne, on the eventful October 7, 1777, advanced against the American position. There were brave men, both English and German, in its ranks; and, in particular, it comprised one of the best bodies of grenadiers in the British service.

Burgoyne pushed forward some bodies of irregular troops to distract the enemy's attention, and led his column to within three-quarters of a mile from the left of Gates' camp, and then deployed his men into line. The grenadiers under Major Ackland were drawn up on the left, a corps of Germans in the centre, and the English light infantry and the Twenty-fourth regiment on the right. But Gates did not wait to be attacked; and directly the British line was formed and began to advance, the American general, with admirable skill, caused a strong force to make a sudden and vehement rush against its left. The grenadiers under Ackland sustained the charge of superior numbers nobly. But Gates sent more Americans forward, and in a few minutes the action became general along the centre, so as to prevent the Germans from sending any help to the grenadiers.

Burgoyne's right was not yet engaged; but a mass of the enemy were observed advancing from their extreme left, with the evident intention of turning the British right and cutting off its retreat. The light infantry and the Twenty-fourth now fell back, and formed an oblique second line which enabled them to baffle this manœuvre, and also to succor their comrades in the left wing, the gallant grenadiers, who were overpowered by superior numbers, and, but for this aid, must have been cut to[Pg 62] pieces. Arnold now came up with three American regiments and attacked the right flanks of the English double line.

Burgoyne's whole force was soon compelled to retreat toward their camp; the left and centre were in complete disorder; but the light infantry and the Twenty-fourth checked the fury of the assailants, and the remains of Burgoyne's column with great difficulty effected their return to their camp, leaving six of their guns in the possession of the enemy, and great numbers of killed and wounded on the field; and especially a large proportion of the artillerymen, who had stood to their guns until shot down or bayoneted beside them by the advancing Americans.

Burgoyne's column had been defeated, but the action was not yet over. The English had scarcely entered the camp, when the Americans, pursuing their success, assaulted it in several places with uncommon fierceness, rushing to the lines through a severe fire of grape-shot and musketry with the utmost fury. Arnold especially, who on this day appeared maddened with the thirst of combat and carnage, urged on the attack against a part of the intrenchments which was occupied by the light infantry under Lord Balcarras. But the English received him with vigor and spirit. The struggle here was obstinate and sanguinary. At length, as it grew toward evening, Arnold having forced all obstacles, entered the works with some of the most fearless of his followers. But in this critical moment of glory and danger, he received a painful wound in the same leg which had already been injured at the assault on Quebec. To his bitter regret, he was obliged to be carried back. His party still continued the attack; but the English also continued their obstinate resistance and at last night fell, and the assailants withdrew from this quarter of the British intrenchments.

But in another part the attack had been more successful. A body of the Americans, under Colonel Brooke, forced their way in through a part of the intrenchments on the extreme right, which was defended by the German reserve under Colonel Breyman. The Germans resisted well, and Breyman died in defence of his post, but the Americans made good the ground which they had won, and captured baggage, tents, artillery, and a store of ammunition, which they were greatly in need of. They had, by establishing themselves on this point, acquired the means of completely[Pg 63] turning the right flank of the British and gaining their rear.

To prevent this calamity, Burgoyne effected during the night a complete change of position. With great skill he removed his whole army to some heights near the river, a little northward of the former camp, and he there drew up his men, expecting to be attacked on the following day. But Gates was resolved not to risk the certain triumph which his success had already secured for him. He harassed the English with skirmishes, but attempted no regular attack. Meanwhile he detached bodies of troops on both sides of the Hudson to prevent the British from recrossing that river and to bar their retreat. When night fell it became absolutely necessary for Burgoyne to retire again, and, accordingly, the troops were marched through a stormy and rainy night toward Saratoga, abandoning their sick and wounded, and the greater part of their baggage to the enemy.

Before the rear-guard quitted the camp, the last sad honors were paid to the brave General Frazer, who had been mortally wounded on the 7th, and expired on the following day. The funeral of this gallant soldier is thus described by the Italian historian Botta:

"Toward midnight the body of General Frazer was buried in the British camp. His brother-officers assembled sadly round while the funeral service was read over the remains of their brave comrade, and his body was committed to the hostile earth. The ceremony, always mournful and solemn of itself, was rendered even terrible by the sense of recent losses, of present and future dangers, and of regret for the deceased. Meanwhile the blaze and roar of the American artillery amid the natural darkness and stillness of the night came on the senses with startling awe. The grave had been dug within range of the enemy's batteries, and, while the service was proceeding, a cannon-ball struck the ground close to the coffin, and spattered earth over the face of the officiating chaplain."

Burgoyne now took up his last position on the heights near Saratoga; and hemmed in by the enemy, who refused any encounter, and baffled in all his attempts at finding a path of escape, he there lingered until famine compelled him to capitulate. The fortitude of the British army during this melancholy period has[Pg 64] been justly eulogized by many native historians, but I prefer quoting the testimony of a foreign writer, as free from all possibility of partiality. Botta says:

"It exceeds the power of words to describe the pitiable condition to which the British army was now reduced. The troops were worn down by a series of toil, privation, sickness, and desperate fighting. They were abandoned by the Indians and Canadians, and the effective force of the whole army was now diminished by repeated and heavy losses, which had principally fallen on the best soldiers and the most distinguished officers, from ten thousand combatants to less than one-half that number. Of this remnant little more than three thousand were English.

"In these circumstances, and thus weakened, they were invested by an army of four times their own numbers whose position extended three parts of a circle round them, who refused to fight them, as knowing their weakness, and who, from the nature of the ground, could not be attacked in any part. In this helpless condition, obliged to be constantly under arms, while the enemy's cannon played on every part of their camp, and even the American rifle-balls whistled in many parts of the lines, the troops of Burgoyne retained their customary firmness, and, while sinking under a hard necessity, they showed themselves worthy of a better fate. They could not be reproached with an action or a word which betrayed a want of temper or of fortitude."

At length October 13th arrived, and as no prospect of assistance appeared, and the provisions were nearly exhausted, Burgoyne, by the unanimous advice of a council of war, sent a messenger to the American camp to treat of a convention.

General Gates in the first instance demanded that the royal army should surrender prisoners of war. He also proposed that the British should ground their arms. Burgoyne replied:

"This article is inadmissible in every extremity; sooner than this army will consent to ground their arms in their encampment they will rush on the enemy, determined to take no quarter."

After various messages, a convention for the surrender of the army was settled, which provided that "the troops under General Burgoyne were to march out of their camp with the honors of war, and the artillery of the intrenchments, to the verge of the river, where the arms and artillery were to be left. The arms to be[Pg 65] piled by word of command from their own officers. A free passage was to be granted to the army under Lieutenant-General Burgoyne to Great Britain, under condition of not serving again in North America during the present contest."

The articles of capitulation were settled on October 15th, and on that very evening a messenger arrived from Clinton with an account of his successes, and with the tidings that part of his force had penetrated as far as Esopus, within fifty miles of Burgoyne's camp. But it was too late. The public faith was pledged; and the army was indeed too debilitated by fatigue and hunger to resist an attack, if made; and Gates certainly would have made it if the convention had been broken off. Accordingly, on the 17th, the Convention of Saratoga was carried into effect. By this convention five thousand seven hundred ninety men surrendered themselves as prisoners. The sick and wounded left in the camp when the British retreated to Saratoga, together with the numbers of the British, German, and Canadian troops who were killed, wounded, or taken, and who had deserted in the preceding part of the expedition, were reckoned to be four thousand six hundred eighty-nine.

The British sick and wounded who had fallen into the hands of the Americans after the battle of the 7th were treated with exemplary humanity: and when the convention was executed, General Gates showed a notable delicacy of feeling, which deserves the highest degree of honor. Every circumstance was avoided which could give the appearance of triumph. The American troops remained within their lines until the British had piled their arms; and when this was done, the vanquished officers and soldiers were received with friendly kindness by their victors, and their immediate wants were promptly and liberally supplied. Discussions and disputes afterward arose as to some of the terms of the convention, and the American Congress refused for a long time to carry into effect the article which provided for the return of Burgoyne's men to Europe; but no blame was imputable to General Gates or his army, who showed themselves to be generous as they had proved themselves to be brave.

Gates, after the victory, immediately despatched Colonel Wilkinson to carry the happy tidings to Congress. On being introduced into the hall he said: "The whole British army has[Pg 66] laid down its arms at Saratoga; our own, full of vigor and courage, expect your orders. It is for your wisdom to decide where the country may still have need for their service."

Honors and rewards were liberally voted by the Congress to their conquering general and his men; and it would be difficult, says the Italian historian, to describe the transports of joy which the news of this event excited among the Americans. They began to flatter themselves with a still more happy future. No one any longer felt any doubt about their achieving their independence. All hoped, and with good reason, that a success of this importance would at length determine France, and the other European powers that waited for her example, to declare themselves in favor of America. "There could no longer be any question respecting the future, since there was no longer the risk of espousing the cause of a people too feeble to defend themselves."

The truth of this was soon displayed in the conduct of France. When the news arrived at Paris of the capture of Ticonderoga, and of the victorious march of Burgoyne toward Albany, events which seemed decisive in favor of the English, instructions had been immediately despatched to Nantes and the other ports of the kingdom that no American privateers should be suffered to enter them, except from indispensable necessity; as to repair their vessels, to obtain provisions, or to escape the perils of the sea.

The American commissioners at Paris, in their disgust and despair, had almost broken off all negotiations with the French Government; and they even endeavored to open communications with the British Ministry. But the British Government, elated with the first successes of Burgoyne, refused to listen to any overtures for accommodation. But when the news of Saratoga reached Paris the whole scene was changed. Franklin and his brother-commissioners found all their difficulties with the French Government vanish. The time seemed to have arrived for the house of Bourbon to take a full revenge for all its humiliations and losses in previous wars. In December a treaty was arranged, and formally signed in the February following, by which France acknowledged the Independent United States of America. This was, of course, tantamount to a declaration of war with England.[Pg 67]

Spain soon followed France; and, before long, Holland took the same course. Largely aided by French fleets and troops, the Americans vigorously maintained the war against the armies which England, in spite of her European foes, continued to send across the Atlantic. But the struggle was too unequal to be maintained by Great Britain for many years; and when the treaties of 1783 restored peace to the world, the independence of the United States was reluctantly recognized by their ancient parent and recent enemy.

[Pg 68]


a.d. 1779


American naval officers look back with intensest pride to Paul Jones, their earliest hero, the founder of those high traditions which have done so much to raise the navy to its present standard of efficiency. Decatur, Perry, Farragut, Dewey, these and a thousand others of their kind, have but followed the lead of Paul Jones, have learned their deepest lesson in the thrill that came to each of them in boyhood on hearing that proud defiance hurled at the ancient mistress of the seas, "I have not yet begun to fight."

Although much greater sea-battles, in point of numbers of both ships and men engaged, are recorded in history, yet this, the first naval engagement by an American vessel, is counted among the most famous of all on account of its stubbornness. The child was matched against the parent; an American vessel against a British, the latter far the stronger. The combat was mainly between the Bonhomme Richard, Jones' ship, with forty guns, many of them unserviceable, and the British ship, Serapis, of superior armament, as shown below.

John Paul Jones, commonly known as Paul Jones, was born in Scotland in 1747, the son of John Paul, a gardener. He emigrated to Virginia, and, assuming the name of Jones, became first lieutenant (1775) in the American navy. When in 1778 France joined the colonies against England, Jones, who had already performed several noteworthy exploits, was in that country. Through the influence of Franklin an old merchant vessel, the Duc de Duras, was converted into a ship-of-war and, with four others, placed under the command of Jones. In honor of Franklin he named the Duras "Poor Richard," and, in compliment to the French language and people, she was called the Bonhomme Richard, the French colloquial equivalent.

With a squadron of five ships, each except his own under a French commander and three of them with French crews as well, Jones sailed from L'Orient, France, August 14, 1779. He passed around the west coast of Ireland and around Scotland. There was much discontent among the French officers, and, though four of his ships were still with him when he sighted the Baltic fleet, Jones could not count on loyal service, especially from the Alliance, whose captain had already shown much insubordination.

The memorable fight has never been better described than in the following[Pg 69] plain and direct account of Mackenzie, himself an officer of the United States navy.

The battle between the Bonhomme and the Serapis is invested with a heroic interest of the highest stamp. Jones had been cruising off the mouth of the Humber and along the Yorkshire coast, intercepting the colliers bound to London, many of which he destroyed (1779). On the morning of September 23d he fell in with the Alliance.[27] This rencounter was a real misfortune; as, in the battle which ensued, the former disobedience and mad vagaries of Landais, her commander, were about to be converted into absolute treason. The squadron now consisted of the Richard, the Alliance, the Pallas, and the Vengeance.

About noon Jones despatched his second lieutenant, Henry Lunt, with fifteen of his best men, to take possession of a brigantine which he had chased ashore. Soon after, as the squadron was standing to the northward toward Flamborough Head, with a light breeze from south-southwest, chasing a ship, which was seen doubling the cape, in opening the view beyond, they gradually came in sight of a fleet of forty-one sail running down the coast from the northward, very close in with the land. On questioning the pilot, the Commodore discovered that this was the Baltic fleet, with which he had been so anxious to fall in, and that it was under convoy of the Serapis, a new ship, of an improved construction, mounting forty-four guns, and the Countess of Scarborough, of twenty guns.

Signal was immediately made to form the line of battle, which the Alliance, as usual, disregarded. The Richard crossed her royal yards, and immediately gave chase to the northward, under all sail, to get between the enemy and the land. At the same time signal of recall was made to the pilot of the boat; but she did not return until after the action. On discovering the American squadron, the headmost ships of the convoy were seen to haul their wind suddenly and go about so as to stretch back under the land toward Scarborough and place themselves under cover[Pg 70] of the cruisers; at the same time they fired signal-guns, let fly their topgallant sheets, and showed every symptom of confusion and alarm. Soon afterward the Serapis was seen reaching to windward to get between the convoy and the American ships, which she soon effected. At four o'clock the English cruisers were in sight from deck. The Countess of Scarborough was standing out to join the Serapis, which was lying-to for her, while the convoy continued to run for the fort, in obedience to the signals displayed from the Serapis, which was also seen to fire guns. At half-past five the two ships had joined company, when the Serapis made sail by the wind; at six both vessels tacked, heading up to the westward, across the bows of the Richard, so as to keep their position between her and the convoy.

The opposing ships thus continued to approach each other slowly under the light southwesterly air. The weather was beautifully serene, and the breeze, being off the land, which was now close on board, produced no ripple on the water, which lay still and peaceful, offering a fair field to the combatants about to grapple in such deadly strife. The decks of the opposing vessels were long since cleared for action, and ample leisure remained for reflection, as the ships glided toward each other at a rate but little in accordance with the impatience of the opponents. From the projecting promontory of Flamborough Head, which was less than a league distant, thousands of the inhabitants, whom the recent attempt upon Leith had made aware of the character of the American ships, and the reckless daring of their leader, looked down upon the scene, awaiting the result with intense anxiety. The ships also were in sight from Scarborough, the inhabitants of which thronged the piers. The sun had already sunk behind the land before the ships were within gun-shot of each other; but a full harvest-moon rising above the opposite horizon, lighted the combatants in their search for each other, and served to reveal the approaching scene to the spectators on the land with a vague distinctness which rendered it only the more terrible.

We have seen that the Alliance had utterly disregarded the signal to form the line of battle when the Baltic fleet was first discovered, and our squadron bore down upon them. She stood for the enemy without reference to her station, and, greatly out-sailing[Pg 71] the other vessels, was much sooner in a condition to engage. Captain Landais seemed for once to be actuated by a chivalrous motive and likely to do something to redeem the guilt of his disobedience. The officers of the Richard were watching this new instance of eccentricity, for which Landais' past conduct had not prepared them, with no little surprise; when after getting near to where the Serapis lay, with her courses hauled up, and St. George's ensign—the white cross of England—proudly displayed, he suddenly hauled his wind, leaving the path of honor open to his commander. While the Pallas stood for the Countess of Scarborough, the Alliance sought a position in which she could contemplate the double engagement without risk, as though her commander had been chosen umpire, instead of being a party interested in the approaching battle. Soon afterward the Serapis was seen to hoist the red ensign instead of St. George's, and it was subsequently known that her captain had nailed it to the flag-staff with his own hand.

About half-past seven the Bonhomme Richard hauled up her courses and rounded-to on the weather or larboard quarter of the Serapis, and within pistol-shot, and steered a nearly parallel course, though gradually edging down upon her. The Serapis now triced up her lower-deck ports, showing two complete batteries, besides her spar deck, lighted up for action, and making a most formidable appearance. At this moment Captain Pearson, her commander, hailed the Bonhomme Richard and demanded, "What ship is that?" Answer was made, "I can't hear what you say." The hail was repeated: "What ship is that? Answer immediately, or I shall be under the necessity of firing into you!" A shot was fired in reply by the Bonhomme Richard, which was instantly followed by a broadside from each vessel. Two of the three old eighteen-pounders in the Richard's gunroom burst at the first fire, spreading around an awful scene of carnage. Jones immediately gave orders to close the lower-deck ports and abandon that battery during the rest of the action.

The Richard, having kept her headway and becalmed the sails of the Serapis, passed across her forefoot, when the Serapis, luffing across the stern of the Richard, came up in turn on the[Pg 72] weather or larboard quarter; and, after an exchange of several broadsides from the fresh batteries, which did great damage to the rotten sides of the Richard and caused her to leak badly, the Serapis likewise becalmed the sails of the Richard, passed ahead, and soon after bore up and attempted to cross her forefoot so as to rake her from stem to stern.

Finding, however, that he had not room for the evolution, and that the Richard would be on board of him, Captain Pearson put his helm a-lee, which brought the two ships in a line ahead, and, the Serapis having lost her headway by the attempted evolution, the Richard ran into her weather or larboard quarter. While in this position, neither ship being able to use her great guns, Jones attempted to board the Serapis, but was repulsed, when Captain Pearson hailed him and asked, "Has your ship struck?" to which he at once returned the immortal answer:

"I have not yet begun to fight!"

Jones now backed his topsails, and the sails of the Serapis remaining full, the two ships separated. Immediately after, Pearson also laid his topsails back, as he says in his official report, to get square with the Richard again; Jones at the same instant filled away, which brought the two ships once more broadside and broadside. As he had already suffered greatly from the superior force of the Serapis, and from her being more manageable and a faster sailer than the Richard, which had several times given her the advantage in position, Jones now determined to lay his ship athwart the enemy's hawse; he accordingly put his helm up, but, some of his braces being shot away, his sails had not their full power, and, the Serapis having sternway, the Richard fell on board of her farther aft than Jones had intended. The Serapis' jib-boom hung her for a few minutes, when, carrying away, the two ships swung broadside and broadside, the muzzles of the guns touching each other. Jones sent Mr. Stacy, the acting master, to pass up the end of a hawser to lash the two ships together, and, while he was gone on this service, assisted with his own hand in making fast the jib-stay of the Serapis to the Richard's mizzen-mast.

Accident, however, unknown for the moment to either party, more effectually secured the two vessels together; for, the anchor[Pg 73] of the Serapis having hooked the quarter of the Richard, the two ships lay closely grappled. In order to escape from this close embrace, and recover the advantage of his superior sailing and force, Captain Pearson now let go an anchor, when the two ships tended round to the tide, which was setting toward Scarborough. The Richard being held by the anchor of the Serapis, and the yards being entangled fore and aft, they remained firmly grappled. This happened about half-past eight, the engagement having already continued an hour.

Meantime the firing had recommenced with fresh fury from the starboard sides of both vessels. The guns of either ship actually touched the sides of the other, and, some of them being opposite the ports, the rammers entered those of the opposite ship when in the act of loading, and the guns were discharged into the side or into the open decks. The effect of this cannonade was terrible to both ships, and wherever it could be kept up in one ship it was silenced in the other. Occasional skirmishing with pikes and pistols took place through the ports, but there does not appear to have been any concerted effort to board from the lower decks of the Serapis, which had the advantage below.

The Richard had already received several eighteen-pound shot between wind and water, causing her to leak badly; the main battery of twelve-pounders was silenced; as for the gunroom battery of six eighteen-pounders, we have seen that two out of the three starboard ones burst at the first fire, killing most of their crews. During the whole action but eight shots were fired from this heavy battery, the use of which was so much favored by the smoothness of the water. The bursting of these guns, and the destruction of the crew, with the partial blowing up of the deck above, so early in the action, were discouraging circumstances, which, with a less resolutely determined commander, might well have been decisive of the fate of the battle.

Colonel Chamillard, who was stationed on the poop, with a party of twenty marines, had already been driven from his post, with the loss of a number of his men. The Alliance kept studiously aloof, and, hovering about the Pallas and the Countess of Scarborough, until the latter struck, after half an hour's action, Landais endeavored to get information as to the force of[Pg 74] the Serapis. He now ran down, under easy sail, to where the Richard and Serapis grappled. At about half-past nine he ranged up on the larboard quarter of the Richard, of course having the Richard between him and the Serapis, though the brightness of the moonlight, the greater height of the Richard, especially about the poop, and the fact of her being painted entirely black, while the Serapis had a yellow streak, could have left no doubt as to her identity; moreover, the Richard displayed three lights at the larboard bow, gangway, and stern, which was an appointed signal of recognition.

Landais now deliberately fired into the Richard's quarter, killing many of her men. Standing on, he ranged past her larboard bow, where he renewed his raking fire, with like fatal effect. To remove the chance of misconception, many voices cried out that the Alliance was firing into the wrong ship; still the raking fire continued from her. Captain Pearson also suffered from this fire, as he states in his report to the Admiralty, but necessarily in a much less degree than the Richard, which lay between them. There is ample evidence of Landais having returned there several times to fire on the Richard, and always on the larboard side, or opposite one to that on which the Richard was grappled with the Serapis.

While the fire of the Serapis was continued without intermission from the whole of her lower-deck battery, the only guns that were still fired from the Richard were two nine-pounders on the quarter-deck, commanded by Mr. Mease, the purser. This officer having received a dangerous wound in the head, Jones took his place, and, having collected a few men, succeeded in shifting over one of the larboard guns; so that three guns were now kept playing on the enemy, and these were all that were fired from the Richard during the remainder of the action. One of these guns was served with double-headed shot and directed at the main-mast, by Jones' command, while the other two were loaded with grape and canister, to clear the enemy's deck.

In this service great aid was rendered by the men stationed in the tops of the Richard, who, having cleared the tops of the Serapis, committed great havoc among the officers and crew upon her upper deck. Thus, the action was carried on with decided advantage to the Serapis' men on the lower decks, from which[Pg 75] they might have boarded the Richard with a good prospect of success, as nearly the whole crew of the latter had been driven from below by the fire of the Serapis and had collected on the upper deck. In addition to the destructive fire from the tops of the Richard, great damage was done by the hand-grenades thrown from her tops and yard-arms. The Serapis was set on fire as often as ten or twelve times in various parts, and the conflagration was only with the greatest exertions kept from becoming general.

About a quarter before ten a hand-grenade, thrown by one of the Richard's men from the main-top of the Serapis, struck the combing of the main-hatch, and, glancing inward upon the main deck, set fire to a cartridge of powder. Owing to mismanagement and defective training, the powder-boys on this deck had bought up the cartridges from the magazine faster than they were used, and, instead of waiting for the loaders to receive and charge them, had laid them on the deck, where some of them were broken. The cartridge fired by the grenade now communicated to these, and the explosion spread from the main-mast aft on the starboard side, killing twenty men and disabling every man there stationed at the guns, those who were not killed outright being left stripped of their clothes and scorched frightfully.

At this conjuncture, being about ten o'clock, the gunner and the carpenter of the Richard, who had been slightly wounded, became alarmed at the quantity of water which entered the ship through the shot-holes which she had received between wind and water, and which, by her settling, had got below the surface. The carpenter expressed an apprehension that she would speedily sink, which the gunner, mistaking for an assertion that she was actually sinking, ran aft on the poop to haul down the colors. Finding that the ensign was already down in consequence of the staff having been shot away, the gunner set up the cry, "Quarter! for God's sake, quarter! Our ship is sinking!" which he continued until silenced by Jones, who threw at the recreant a pistol he had just discharged at the enemy, which fractured his skull, and sent him headlong down the hatchway. Captain Pearson, hearing the gunner's cry, asked Jones if he called for quarter, to which, according to his own words, he replied "in the most determined negative."[Pg 76]

Captain Pearson now called away his boarders and sent them on board the Richard, but, when they had reached her rail, they were met by Jones himself, at the head of a party of pikemen, and driven back. They immediately returned to their ship, followed by some of the Richard's men, all of whom were cut off.

About the same time that the gunner set up his cry for quarter, the master-at-arms, who had been in consultation with the gunner and the carpenter in regard to the sinking condition of the ship, hearing the cry for quarter, proceeded, without orders from Jones, and either from treachery or the prompting of humane feelings, to release all the prisoners, amounting to more than a hundred. One of these, being the commander of the letter-of-marque Union, taken on August 31st, passed, with generous self-devotion, through the lower ports of the Richard and the Serapis, and, having reached the quarter-deck of the latter, informed Captain Pearson that if he would hold out a little longer the Richard must either strike or sink; he moreover informed him of the large number of prisoners who had been released with himself, in order to save their lives. Thus encouraged, the battle was renewed from the Serapis with fresh ardor.

The situation of Jones at this moment was indeed hopeless beyond anything that is recorded in the annals of naval warfare. In a sinking ship, with a battery silenced everywhere, except where he himself fought, more than a hundred prisoners at large in his ship, his consort, the Alliance, sailing round and raking him deliberately, his superior officers counselling surrender, while the inferior ones were setting up disheartening cries of fire and sinking and calling loudly for quarter—the chieftain still stood undismayed. He immediately ordered the prisoners to the pumps, and took advantage of the panic they were in, with regard to the reported sinking of the ship, to keep them from conspiring to overcome the few efficient hands that remained of his crew.

Meanwhile the action was continued with the three light quarter-deck guns, under Jones' immediate inspection. In the moonlight, blended with the flames that ascended the rigging of the Serapis, the yellow main-mast presented a palpable mark, against which the guns were directed with double-headed shot. Soon after ten o'clock the fire of the Serapis began to slacken, and at half-past ten she struck.[Pg 77]

Mr. Dale, the first lieutenant of the Richard, was now ordered on board the Serapis to take charge of her. He was accompanied by Midshipman Mayrant and a party of boarders. Mr. Mayrant was run through the thigh with a boarding-pike as he touched the deck of the Serapis, and three of the Richard's crew were killed, after the Serapis had struck, by some of the crew of the latter who were ignorant of the surrender of their ship.

Lieutenant Dale found Captain Pearson on the quarter-deck, and told him he was ordered to send him on board the Richard. It is a remarkable evidence of the strange character of this engagement, and the doubt which attended its result, that the first lieutenant of the Serapis, who came upon deck at this moment, should have asked his commander whether the ship alongside had struck. Lieutenant Dale immediately answered: "No, sir; on the contrary, he has struck to us!"

The British lieutenant, like a true officer, then questioned his commander, "Have you struck, sir?" Captain Pearson replied, "Yes, I have!" The lieutenant replied, "I have nothing more to say," and was about to return below, when Mr. Dale informed him that he must accompany Captain Pearson on board the Richard. The lieutenant rejoined, "If you will permit me to go below, I will silence the firing of the lower-deck guns." This offer Mr. Dale very properly declined, and the two officers went on board the Richard and surrendered themselves to Jones.

Pearson, who had risen, like Jones, from a humble station by his own bravery, but who was as inferior officer to Jones in courtesy as he had proved himself in obstinacy of resistance, evinced from the first a characteristic surliness, which he maintained throughout the whole of his intercourse with his victor. In surrendering he said that it was painful for him to deliver up his sword to a man who had fought with a halter around his neck. Jones did not forget himself, but replied with a compliment, which, though addressed to Pearson, necessarily reverted to himself, "Sir! you have fought like a hero, and I make no doubt but your sovereign will reward you in a most ample manner."

As another evidence of the strange mêlée which attended this engagement, and of the discouraging circumstances under which the Richard fought, it may be mentioned that eight or ten of her[Pg 78] crew, who were, of course, Englishmen, got into a boat, which was towing astern of the Serapis, and escaped to Scarborough during the height of the engagement. This defection, together with the absence of the second lieutenant with fifteen of the best men, the loss of twenty-four men on the coast of Ireland, added to the number who had been sent away in prizes, reduced Jones' crew to a very small number, and greatly diminished his chance of success, which was due at length solely to his own indomitable courage.

Meantime the fire, which was still kept up from the lower-deck guns of the Serapis, where the seamen were ignorant of the scene of surrender which had taken place above, was arrested by an order from Lieutenant Dale. The action had continued without cessation for three hours and a half. When it at length ceased, Jones got his ship clear of the Serapis and made sail. As the two separated, after being so long locked in deadly struggle, the main-mast of the Serapis, which had been for some time tottering, and which had only been sustained by the interlocking of her yards with those of the Richard, went over the side with a tremendous crash, carrying the mizzen-topmast with it. Soon after, the Serapis cut her cable and followed the Richard.

The exertions of captors and captives were now necessary to extinguish the flames which were raging furiously in both vessels. Its violence was greatest in the Richard, where it had been communicated below from the lower-deck guns of the Serapis. Every effort to subdue the flames seemed for a time to be unavailing. In one place they were raging very near the magazine, and Jones at length had all the powder taken out and brought on deck, in readiness to be thrown overboard. In this work the officers of the Serapis voluntarily assisted.

While the fire was raging in so terrifying a manner, the water was entering the ship in many places. The rudder had been cut entirely through, the transoms were driven in, and the rotten timbers of the old ship, from the main-mast aft, were shattered and almost entirely separated, as if the ship had been sawn through by ice; so much so that Jones says that toward the close of the action the shot of the Serapis passed completely through the Richard; and the stern-post and a few timbers alone prevented the stern from falling down on the gunroom deck. The water[Pg 79] rushed in through all these apertures, so that at the close of the action there were already five feet of water in the hold. The spectacle which the old ship presented the following morning was dreadful beyond description. Jones says in his official report: "A person must have been eye-witness to form a just idea of the tremendous scene of carnage, wreck, and ruin that everywhere appeared. Humanity cannot but recoil from the prospect of such finished horror, and lament that war should produce such fatal consequences."

Captain Pearson also notices, in his official letter to the Admiralty, the dreadful spectacle the Richard presented. He says: "On my going on board the Bonhomme Richard I found her to be in the greatest distress; her counters and quarters on the lower deck entirely drove in, and the whole of her lower-deck guns dismounted; she was also on fire in two places, and six or seven feet of water in her hold, which kept increasing all night and the next day till they were obliged to quit her, and she sunk with a great number of her wounded people on board her." The regret which he must, at any rate, have felt in surrendering, must have been much augmented by these observations, and by what he must have seen of the motley composition of the Richard's crew.

On the morning after the action a survey was held upon the "Poor Richard," which was now, more than ever, entitled to her name. After a deliberate examination, the carpenters and other surveying officers were unanimously of opinion that the ship could not be kept afloat so as to reach port, if the wind should increase. The task of removing the wounded was now commenced, and completed in the course of the night and following morning. The prisoners who had been taken in merchant-ships were left until the wounded were all removed. Taking advantage of the confusion, and of their superiority in numbers, they took possession of the ship, and got her head in for the land, toward which the wind was now blowing. A contest ensued, and, as the Englishmen had few arms, they were speedily overcome. Two of them were shot dead, several wounded and driven overboard, and thirteen of them got possession of a boat and escaped to the shore.

Jones was very anxious to keep the Richard afloat, and, if possible, to bring her into port, doubtless from the very justifiable[Pg 80] vanity of showing how desperately he had fought her. In order to effect this object he kept the first lieutenant of the Pallas on board of her with a party of men to work the pumps, having boats in waiting to remove them in the event of her sinking. During the night of the 24th the wind had freshened, and still continued to freshen on the morning of the 25th, when all further efforts to save her were found unavailing. The water was running in and out of her ports and swashing up her hatchways. About nine o'clock it became necessary to abandon her, the water then being up to the lower deck; an hour later, she rolled as if losing her balance, and, settling forward, went down bows first, her stern and mizzen-mast being last seen.

"A little after ten," says Jones in his report, "I saw, with inexpressible grief, the last glimpse of the Bonhomme Richard." The grief was a natural one, but, far from being destitute of consolation, the closing scene of the "Poor Richard," like the death of Nelson on board the Victory in the moment of winning a new title to the name, was indeed a glorious one. Her shattered shell afforded an honorable receptacle for the remains of the Americans who had fallen during the action.

The Richard was called by Captain Pearson a forty-gun ship, while the Serapis was stated by the pilot, who described her to Jones when she was first made, to have been a forty-four. Jones and Dale also gave her the same rate. The Richard, as we have seen, mounted six eighteen-pounders in her gunroom on her berth deck, where port-holes had been opened near the water; fourteen twelve, and fourteen nine-pounders on her main deck, and eight six-pounders on her quarter-deck, gangways, and forecastle. The weight of shot thrown by her at a single broadside would thus be two hundred and twenty-five pounds. With regard to her crew, she started from L'Orient with three hundred eighty men. She had manned several prizes, which, with the desertion of the barge's crew on the coast of Ireland, and the absence of those who went in pursuit under the master and never returned, together with the fifteen men sent away in the pilot-boat, under the second lieutenant, just before the action, and who did not return until after it was over, reduced the crew, according to Jones' statement, to three hundred forty men at its commencement.[Pg 81]

This calculation seems a very fair one; for, by taking the statement of those who had landed on the coast of Ireland, as given in a contemporary English paper, at twenty-four, those who were absent in the pilot-boat being sixteen in number, and allowing five of the nine prizes taken by the Richard to have been manned from her, with average crews of five men each, the total reduction from her original crew may be computed to be seventy men. Eight or ten more escaped, during the action, in a boat towing astern of the Serapis. To have had three hundred forty men at the commencement of the action, as Jones states he had, he must have obtained recruits from the crews of his prizes.

In the muster-roll of the Richard's crew in the battle, as given by Mr. Sherburne from an official source, we find only two hundred twenty-seven names. This can hardly have been complete; still the document is interesting, inasmuch as it enumerates the killed and wounded by name, there being forty-two killed and forty wounded. It also states the country of most of the crew; by which it appears that there were seventy-one Americans, fifty-seven acknowledged Englishmen, twenty-one Portuguese, and the rest of the motley collection was made up of Swedes, Norwegians, Irish, and East Indians. Many of those not named in this imperfect muster-roll were probably Americans.

With regard to the Serapis, her battery consisted of twenty eighteens on the lower gun-deck, twenty nines on the upper gun-deck, and ten sixes on the quarter-deck and forecastle. She had two complete batteries, and her construction was, in all respects, that of a line-of-battle ship. The weight of shot thrown by her single broadside was three hundred pounds, being seventy-five pounds more than that of the Richard. Her crew consisted of three hundred twenty; all Englishmen except fifteen Lascars; and as such, superior to the motley and partially disaffected assemblage of the Richard. The superiority of the Serapis, in size and weight, as well as efficiency of battery, was, moreover, greatly increased by the strength of her construction. She was a new ship, built expressly for a man-of-war, and equipped in the most complete manner by the first of naval powers. The Richard was originally a merchantman, worn out by long use and rotten from age. She was fitted, in a makeshift manner, with[Pg 82] whatever refuse guns and materials could be hastily procured, at a small expense, from the limited means appropriated to her armament.

The overwhelming superiority thus possessed by the Serapis was evident in the action. Two of the three lower-deck guns of the Richard burst at the first fire, scattering death on every side, while the guns of the Serapis remained serviceable during the whole action, and their effect on the decayed sides of the Richard was literally to tear her to pieces. On the contrary, the few light guns which continued to be used in the Richard, under the immediate direction of her commander, produced little impression on the hull of the Serapis. They were usefully directed to destroy her masts and clear her upper deck, which, with the aid of the destructive and well-sustained fire from the tops, was eventually effected. The achievement of the victory was, however, wholly and solely due to the immovable courage of Paul Jones. The Richard was beaten more than once; but the spirit of Jones could not be overcome. Captain Pearson was a brave man, and well deserved the honor of knighthood which awaited him on his arrival in England; but Paul Jones had a nature which never could have yielded. Had Pearson been equally indomitable, the Richard, if not boarded from below, would, at last, have gone down with her colors still flying in proud defiance.

The wounded of the Serapis appear, by the surgeon's report accompanying Captain Pearson's letter to the Admiralty, to have amounted to seventy-five men, eight of whom died of their wounds. Of the wounded, thirty-three are stated to have been "miserably scorched," doubtless by the explosion of the cartridges on the main deck. Captain Pearson states that there were many more, both killed and wounded, than appeared on the list, but that he had been unable to ascertain their names. Jones gave the number of wounded on board the Serapis as more than a hundred, and the killed probably as numerous. The surviving prisoners, taken from the Serapis and the Countess of Scarborough, amounted to three hundred fifty; the whole number of prisoners, including those previously taken from captured merchant-vessels, amounted to near five hundred.

During the engagement between the Richard and the Serapis, the Pallas, commanded by Captain Cottineau, seems to have[Pg 83] done her duty. She engaged the Countess of Scarborough, and captured her after an hour's close action. The Pallas was a frigate of thirty-two guns, and the Countess of Scarborough a single-decked ship, mounting twenty six-pounders. The Alliance, in the course of the night, also fired into the Pallas and the Countess of Scarborough, while engaged, and killed several of the Pallas' men. Subsequent to the engagement it was attested by the mass of officers in the squadron that, about eight o'clock, the Alliance raked the Bonhomme Richard with grape and cross-bar, killing a number of men and dismounting several guns. He afterward made sail for where the Pallas and the Scarborough were engaged, and after hovering about until the latter struck, communicated by hailing with both vessels, and then stood back to the Richard, and coming up on her larboard quarter, about half-past nine, fired again into her; passing along her larboard beam, he then luffed up on her lee bow, and renewed his raking fire. It was proved that the Alliance never passed on the larboard side of the Serapis, but always kept the Richard between her and the enemy. The officers of the Richard were of opinion that Landais' intention was to kill Jones and disable his ship, so as afterward to have himself an easy victory over the Serapis. As it was, he subsequently claimed the credit of the victory, on the plea of having raked the Serapis. There can be little doubt that he was actuated by jealous and treacherous feelings toward Jones, and by base cowardice. The Vengeance also behaved badly; neither she nor the Alliance made any prizes from among the fleet of merchantmen, and the whole escaped under cover of Flamborough Head and the adjacent harbors. Lieutenant Henry Lunt, who was absent in the pilot-boat with fifteen of the Richard's best men, lay in sight of the Richard during the action, but "thought it not prudent to go alongside in time of action." His conduct at least involved a great error of judgment, which no doubt he lived to repent.

The conduct of Jones throughout this battle displayed great skill and the noblest heroism. He carried his ship into action in the most gallant style, and, while he commanded with ability, excited his followers by his personal example. We find him, in the course of the action, himself assisting to lash the ships together, aiding in the service of the only battery from which a fire[Pg 84] was still kept up, and, when the Serapis attempted to board, rushing, pike in hand, to meet and repel the assailants. No difficulties or perplexities seemed to appal him or disturb his judgment, and his courage and skill were equalled by his immovable self-composure. The achievement of this victory was solely due to his brilliant display of all the qualities essential to the formation of a great naval commander.


[27] The Alliance had deliberately separated from the squadron. As to the other vessels, the Pallas was a French frigate weaker than the Richard, but much stronger than the second English ship, which she captured. The Vengeance was only a sloop of twelve guns, and took no part in the contest.—Ed.

[Pg 85]


a.d. 1780


As King of Hungary and Bohemia, and as Germanic Emperor, Joseph II, a man of ideals, found himself hampered by hereditary institutions and traditions. The attempted reforms of this ruler, though too advanced for their times, are justly deemed worthy of commemoration by historians. Like the work of all leaders who aim at improvement before the world is ready, they were prophetic of a better day.

Joseph II, son of Francis I, Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire, and Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary and Bohemia, was born at Vienna in 1741. He succeeded to the possessions of the house of Austria on the death of his mother in 1780. The troubles of his reign, especially in Hungary, were due to his own progressive and technically illegal acts on the one hand, and to the narrow conservatism of the people, and the illiberality of the nobles, on the other.

By most of the historians of Hungary and Bohemia the reign of Joseph II is described as disastrous for both countries. But a more philosophical view than those historians often furnish is presented by Vambery, the great Hungarian writer, who gives to the endeavors of Joseph the credit of enduring significance.

The royal crown of Hungary has ever been, from the time it encircled the brow of St. Stephen, an object of jealous solicitude and almost superstitious veneration with the nation. It continued to loom up as a brilliant and rallying point in the midst of the vicissitudes and stirring events of the history of the country during all the centuries that followed the coronation of the first king. The people looked upon it as a hallowed relic, the glorious bequest of a long line of generations past and gone, and as the symbol and embodiment of the unity of the state. The different countries composing Hungary were known under the collective name of the "Lands of the Sacred Crown," and, at the period when the privileged nobility was still enjoying exceptional immunities, each noble styled himself membrum sacræ coronæ ("a[Pg 86] member of the sacred crown"). In the estimation of the people it had ceased to be a religious symbol, and had become a cherished national and political memorial, to which the followers of every creed and all the classes without distinction might equally do homage. Nor was the crown an every-day ornament to be displayed by royalty on solemn occasions of pageant. The King wore it only once in his life, on the day of his coronation, when he was bound solemnly to swear fidelity to the constitution, before the high dignitaries of the state, first in church, and to repeat afterward in the open air his vow to govern the country within the limits of the law. Thus in Hungary it has ever been the ancient custom, prevailing to this day, that, on the king's accession to the throne, it is he who, on his coronation, takes the oath of fidelity to his people, instead of the latter swearing fealty to the king. The right of succession to the throne is hereditary, but the lawful rule of the king begins with the ceremony of coronation only. It requires this ceremonial, which to this day is characterized by the attributes of mediæval pomp and splendor, to render the acts of the ruler valid and binding upon the people; without it every public act of such ruler is a usurpation.

During eight centuries all the kings and queens, without exception, had been eager to place the crown on their heads, in order to come into the full possession of their regal privileges. Joseph II was the first king who refused to be crowned. He felt a reluctance to swear fidelity to the constitution, and to promise, by a solemn oath, to govern the country in accordance with its ancient usages and laws. The people, therefore, never called him their crowned king; he was either styled "Emperor" by them, or nicknamed the kalapos ("hatted") king. His reign was but a series of illegal and unconstitutional acts, and a succession of bitter and envenomed struggles between the nation and her ruler. The contest finally ended with Joseph's defeat. He retracted on his death-bed all his arbitrary measures, and conceded to the people the tardy restoration of their ancient constitution. The conflict, however, had left deep traces in the minds of his Hungarian subjects. It roused them from the dormant state into which they had been lulled by the gentle and maternal absolutism of Maria Theresa. Thus Joseph's schemes not only failed, but, in their effects, they were destined to bring about the[Pg 87] triumph of ideas, fraught with important consequences, such as he had hardly anticipated. The nation, waking from her lethargy, gave more prominence than ever to the idea of nationality, an idea which, as time advanced, increased in potency and intensity.

Yet this ruler, who on ascending the throne disregarded all constitutional obligations and waged a relentless war against the Hungarian nationality, must be, nevertheless, ranked among the noblest characters of his century. Thoroughly imbued with the enlightened views of the eighteenth century, and those new ideas which had triumphed in the War of Independence across the ocean, he was ever in pursuit of generous and exalted aims. He sincerely desired the welfare of the people, and in engaging in this fruitless conflict he was by no means actuated by sinister intentions or by a despotic disposition. To introduce reforms, called for by the spirit of the age, into the Church, the schools, and every department of his Government, was the lofty task he had imposed upon himself. A champion of the oppressed, he freed the human conscience from its mediæval fetters, granted equal rights to the persecuted creeds, protected the enslaved peasantry against their arbitrary masters, and enlarged the liberty of the press. He endeavored to establish order and honesty in every branch of the public service, being mindful at the same time of all the agencies affecting the prosperity of the people. In a word, his remarkable genius embraced every province of human action where progress, reforms, and ameliorations were desirable.

Unhappily for his own peace of mind and for the destinies of the nation he was called upon to rule, he committed a fatal error in the selection of the methods for accomplishing his humane and philanthropic objects. He desired to render Hungary happy, yet he excluded the nation from the direction of her own affairs. He wished to enact salutary laws, yet he reigned as an absolute monarch, unwilling to call the Diet to his aid in the great work of reformation, ignoring and disdaining the constitution and laws of the country. He was impolitic enough to attack a constitution which, thanks to the devotion of the people, had withstood the shock of seven centuries. He was unwise enough to suppose that the people, in whose hearts the love of their ancient constitution had taken deep root, for the defence of which rivers of blood had[Pg 88] been shed, could be prevailed upon to relinquish it to satisfy a theory of royalty.

The old political organization was eminently an outgrowth of the Hungarian nationality, and all classes of the people, including the very peasantry to whom the ancient constitution meant only oppression, clung to it with devoted fervor. The people were as anxious for reforms as Joseph himself, but they wanted them by lawful methods, and with the coöperation of the nation and their Diet. Joseph might have become the regenerator and benefactor of Hungary if he had availed himself, for the realization of his grand objects, of the national and lawful channels which lay ready to his hand. But he unfortunately preferred attempting to achieve his purpose out of the plenitude of his own power, by imperial edicts and arbitrary measures, thus conjuring up a storm against himself which wellnigh shook his throne, and plunging the nation into a wild ferment of passion bordering on revolution.

The people presented a solid phalanx against Joseph's attack upon their nationality and language, which to them were objects dearer than everything else. They little cared for the Emperor's well-intentioned endeavors to make them prosperous and happy as long as he asked, in exchange, for the relinquishment of their nationality. And this, above all, was his most ardent wish. He wanted Hungary to be Hungarian no more, and wished its people to cast off the distinctive marks of their individuality, and to adopt the German language, instead of their own, in the schools, the public administration, and in judicial proceedings. In a word, he made German the official language of the country, and was bent on forcing it upon the people.

Henceforth every reform coming from Joseph became hateful to the people. The oppressed classes themselves spurned relief which involved the sacrifice of their sweet mother-tongue. By proclaiming equal rights and equal subjection to the burdens of the state, he arrayed the privileged classes against his person. The Protestants and the peasantry, who had hailed him in the beginning as their new messiah, and fondly saw in his innovations the dawn of brighter days, also turned from him as soon as he attacked them in what they prized even more than liberty and justice. It was not long before the whole country, without distinction[Pg 89] of class, social standing, or creed, combined to set at naught the Germanizing efforts of Joseph. The hard-fought struggle roused the people, hitherto divided by antagonisms of class and creed, to a sense of national solidarity. It was during the critical days of these constitutional conflicts that the foundations of the modern homogeneousness of the Hungarian nation and society were laid down.

The privileged classes looked upon Joseph, on his advent to the throne, with distrust. They foresaw that he would not allow himself to be crowned, in order to avoid taking the oath of fidelity to the Constitution of Hungary. The first measures of his reign concerned the organization of the various churches of the country. He extended the religious freedom of the Protestant Church. By virtue of the apostolic rights of the Hungarian kings, he introduced signal reforms into the Catholic Church, especially regarding the education of the clergy, which proved, in part, exceedingly salutary.

He abolished numerous religious orders, especially those which were not engaged either in teaching or in nursing the sick. One hundred forty monasteries and nunneries were closed by him in Hungary. The ample property of these convents he employed for ecclesiastical and public purposes and for the advancement of instruction. He exerted himself strenuously and successfully in the establishment of public schools and in the interest of popular education. He removed the only university of which the country could then boast from Buda to Pesth, a city which was rapidly increasing, and added a theological department to that seat of learning. All these innovations met with the approval of the enlightened elements of the nation, while the privileged classes and the clergy opposed them with sullen discontent. The opposition was all the more successful, as the Emperor had contrived to insult the moral susceptibilities of the common people by some of his measures.

Thus, with a view to economizing the boards required for coffins, he ordered the dead to be sewed up in sacks and to be buried in this apparel. This uncalled-for meddling with the prejudices of the lower classes had the effect of creating a great indignation among them and of driving them into the camp of the opposition. Trifling and thoughtless measures of a similar[Pg 90] nature impaired the credit of the most salutary innovations. The people looked with suspicion at every change, and, heedless of the lofty endeavors of the Emperor, everybody, including the officials themselves, rejected the entire governmental system of Joseph.

The Emperor also wounded the national feeling of piety by his action concerning the crown he had spurned. According to ancient custom and law the sacred crown was kept in safety in Presburg, in a building provided for that purpose. In 1784 the Emperor ordered the crown to be removed to Vienna, in order to be placed there in the royal treasury side by side with the crowns of his other lands. The nation revolted at this profanation of their hallowed relic, and the highest official authorities throughout the land protested against a measure which, while it created such widespread ill-feeling, was not justified by any necessity. A dreadful storm, accompanied by thunder and lightning, was raging when the crown was removed to Vienna, and the people saw in this a sign that Nature herself rebelled against the sacrilege committed by the Emperor. The counties continued to urge the return of the crown, in addresses which were sometimes humbly suppliant in their tone and sometimes threatening, but Joseph did not yield either to supplications or menaces.

When the edict which made German the official language of the country was published, the minds of men all over the country were greatly disturbed. It is true that hitherto the Latin, and not the Hungarian, language had been the medium of communication employed by the state. But the national spirit and the native tongue, which during the first seventy years of the eighteenth century had sadly degenerated, were awakening to new life during Joseph's reign. The literature of the country began to be assiduously cultivated in different spheres. Royal body-guards belonging to distinguished families, gentlemen of refinement, clergymen of modest position, and other sons of the native soil labored with equal zeal and enthusiasm to foster their cherished mother-tongue.

It would, therefore, have been an easy matter for Joseph to replace the Latin language, which had become an anachronism, by the Hungarian, and thus to restore the latter to its natural and legal position in the state. He was perfectly right in ridding the[Pg 91] country of the mastery of a dead tongue, but he committed a most fatal error in trying to substitute for it the German, an error which avenged itself most bitterly. Joseph entertained a special antipathy to the Hungarian tongue, a dislike which betrayed him into omitting the teaching of the native language from the course of public instruction, and refusing to allow an academy of sciences to be established which had its cultivation for its object.

The Emperor's attack upon the language of the nation irremediably broke the last tie between him and the country, and henceforth the relations between them could be only hostile. The counties assumed a threatening attitude, some of them refusing obedience altogether. Thus most of them declined to give their official coöperation to the army officers who had been delegated by the Emperor to take the census. The count, nevertheless, proceeded, but in many places the inhabitants escaped to the woods, and in some there were serious riots in consequence of the opposition to the commissioners of the census.

A rising of a different character took place among the Wallachs. The Wallachs, smarting under abuses of long standing, buoyed up by exaggerated expectations consequent upon the Emperor's innovations, and stirred up by evil-minded agitators, took to arms and perpetrated the most outrageous atrocities against their Hungarian landlords. The ignorant common people were assured by their leaders, Hora and Kloska, that the Emperor himself sided with them. The Wallach insurgents assassinated the Government's commissioners sent to them, destroyed sixty villages and one hundred eighty-two gentlemen's mansions, and killed four thousand Hungarians before they could be checked in their bloody work. Although they were finally crushed and punished, a strong belief prevailed in the country that the court of Vienna had been privy to the Wallach rising.

Joseph subsequently laid down most humane rules regulating the relations between the bondmen and their landlords. But the country could not be appeased by any boon, especially as the high protective tariff, just then established for the benefit of the Austrian provinces, was seriously damaging the prosperity of the people. Joseph's foreign policy tended to increase the domestic disaffection. In 1788 he declared war against Turkey, but the[Pg 92] campaign turned out unsuccessful, and nearly terminated with the Emperor's capture. The nation, emboldened by his defeat, urged now more emphatically her demands, and requested the Emperor to annul his illegal edicts, to submit to be crowned, and to restore the ancient constitution. Joseph continuing to resist her demands, most of the counties refused to contribute in aid of the war either money or produce. In addition to their recalcitrant attitude, they most energetically pressed the Emperor to convoke the Diet at Buda, a few counties going even so far as to insist upon the chief justice's convoking it, if the Emperor failed to do so before May, 1790.

The courage of the nation rose still higher when the news of the Revolution in France and the revolt in Belgium reached the country. The people refused to furnish recruits and military aid, and the Emperor was compelled to use violence in order to obtain either. The counties remained firm and continued to remonstrate in addresses characterized by sharp and energetic language. Joseph yielded at last. He was prostrated by a grave illness, and, feeling his end approaching, he wished to die in peace with the exasperated nation he had so deeply wounded. On January 28, 1790, he retracted all his illegal edicts, excepting those that had reference to religious toleration, the peasantry, and the clergy, and reëstablished the ancient constitution of the country. Soon after he sent back the crown to Buda, where its return was celebrated with great pomp, amid the enthusiastic shouts of the people. Before he could yet convoke the Diet death terminated the Emperor's career on February 20th.

The world lost in him a great and noble-minded man, a friend to humanity, who, however, had been unable to realize all his lofty intentions. The effect of his reign was to rouse Hungary from the apathy into which it had sunk, and at the time of Joseph's death the minds of the people were a prey to an excitement no less feverish than that which had seized revolutionary France at the same period. But while in Paris democracy was victorious over royalty, the latter had to yield in Hungary to the privileged nobility. The restored constitution was a charter of political privileges for the nobles only, and as such was most jealously guarded by them. This class kept a strict watch over the liberal tendencies of the age, preventing the importation of[Pg 93] democratic ideas from France from fear of harm to their exclusive immunities.

Joseph was succeeded by his brother, Leopold II, who until now had been Grand Duke of Tuscany. The new ruler was as enlightened as his predecessor, and had as much the welfare of the people at heart; but he respected, at the same time, the laws and the constitution. He immediately convoked the Diet in order to be crowned, and by this act he solemnly sealed the peace with the nation. The people hailed with joy this first step of their new King, and there was nothing in the way of their now obtaining lawfully from the good-will of the King the salutary legislation which Joseph had attempted to force arbitrarily upon them. But the fond hopes in this direction were doomed to disappointment. The national movement had not helped to power those who were in favor of progress, equality of rights, and democracy.

No doubt there were people in the country who differed from the men in authority, who were sincerely attached to the doctrines of the French Revolution and eager to supplant the privileges of the nobles by the broader rights belonging to all humanity. The national literature was in the hands of men of this class. They combated the reactionary spirit of the nobility, and contended for the recognition of the civil and political rights of by far the largest portion of the people, the non-nobles. They boldly and with generous enthusiasm wielded the pen in defence of those noble ideas, and indoctrinated the people with them as much as the restraints placed upon the press allowed it at that period. They succeeded in obtaining recruits for their ideas from the very ranks of the privileged classes, and many an enlightened magnate admitted that the time had arrived for modernizing the Constitution of Hungary by an extension of political rights.

Their number was swelled also by the more intelligent portion of the inhabitants of the cities, and those educated patriotic people who, although no gentle blood flowed in their veins, had either obtained office under Joseph's reign or had imbibed the political views of that monarch. But all of these men combined formed but an insignificant fraction of the people compared to the numerous nobility, who, after their enforced submission[Pg 94] during ten years, were eager to turn to the advantage of their own class the victory they had achieved over Joseph. During the initial preparations for the elections to the Diet, and in the course of the elections, sentiments were publicly uttered and obtained a majority in the county assemblies, which caused a feverish commotion among the common people and the peasantry.

The latter especially now eagerly clung to innovations introduced by the Emperor Joseph, so beneficial as regarded their own class, and were reluctant to submit to the restoration of the former arbitrary landlord system. Their remonstrances were answered by the counties to the effect that Providence had willed it so that some men should be kings, others nobles, and others again bondmen. Such cruel reasoning failed to satisfy the aggrieved peasantry. Symptoms of a dangerous revolutionary spirit showed themselves throughout a large portion of the country, and an outbreak could be prevented only by the timely assurance, on the part of the counties, that the matter would be submitted to the Diet about to assemble.

The Diet, which had not been convened for twenty-five years, opened in Buda in the beginning of June, 1790. The coronation soon took place. Fifty years had elapsed since the last similar pageant had been enacted in Hungary. After a lengthy and vehement contest extending over ten months, in the course of which the Diet was removed from Buda to Presburg, the laws of 1790-1791, which form part of the fundamental articles of the Hungarian Constitution, were finally passed. By them the independence of Hungary as a state obtained the fullest recognition. The laws, which were the result of the coõperation of the crown and the Estates, declared that Hungary was an independent country, subject to no other country, possessing her own constitution, by which alone she was to be governed.

Important concessions were also made to the rights of the citizens of the country. The privileges of the nobility were left intact, but the extreme wing of the reactionary nobles had to rest satisfied with this acquiescence in the former state of things, and were not allowed to push the narrow-minded measures advocated by them. The majority of the Diet was influenced in their wise moderation, partly by the exalted views of the King[Pg 95] and to a greater extent yet by the disaffected spirit rife among the people, and especially threatening among the Serb population of the country. The laws secured the liberties of the Protestant and the Greek united churches, remedied the most urgent griefs of the peasantry, and declared those who were not noble capable of holding minor offices. Although the most important measures of reform were put off to a future time by the Diet of 1790-1791, several preparatory royal commissions having been appointed for their consideration, yet the work it accomplished was the salutary beginning of a liberal legislation which culminated, not quite sixty years later, in the declaration of the equal rights of the people as the basis of the Hungarian commonwealth.

After the meeting of this Diet, however, very little was done in the direction of reforms. The good work was interrupted, partly by the premature death of Leopold II (March 1, 1792), and partly by the warlike period, extending over twenty-five years, which, in Hungary as throughout all Europe, claimed public attention, and diverted the minds of the leaders of the nation from domestic topics. Francis I, the son and successor of Leopold II, caused himself to be crowned in due form, and much was at first hoped from his reign. But the Jacobin rule of terror in Paris, and the dread of seeing the revolutionary scenes repeated in his own realm, wrought a complete change in his character and policy.

He soon stubbornly rejected every innovation, and gradually became a pillar of strength for the European reaction, that extravagant conservatism which expected to efface the effects of the French Revolution by an unquestioning adherence to the old and traditional order of things. This illiberal spirit of the monarch rendered impossible for the time any further reform movement in Hungary. Every question of desirable change met with the most obstinate opposition on the part of the King, and the reforms submitted by the royal commissions were considered by every successive Diet without ever becoming law.

The period which now followed was gloomy in the extreme, as well for Hungary as for the Austrian provinces of Francis I. The inhabitants of these countries were constantly called upon by the King in the course of the wars to make sacrifices in treasure[Pg 96] and blood, by furnishing recruits and by paying high taxes. At the same time the Government resorted to the most absolute and arbitrary measures to prevent the people from being contaminated with French ideas. The press was crushed by severe penalties. Every enlightened idea was banished from the schools and expunged from the school-books. Only men for whose extreme reactionary spirit the police could vouch were appointed to the professorships or to other offices. A system of universal spying and secret information caused everybody to be suspected and to suffer from private vindictiveness, while those who dared to avow liberal views were the objects of cruel persecution.


[28] From Vambery's Hungary, in Story of the Nations Series (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons), by permission.

[Pg 97]


a.d. 1781


After almost seven years of struggle, the American colonies, with the aid of France, won by the success of their arms that independence which they declared in 1776. The close of the Yorktown campaign with the surrender of Cornwallis virtually ended the Revolutionary War.

While the victory of the Americans over Burgoyne at Saratoga (1777) produced a most encouraging effect upon the colonies, their scattered forces still had much arduous work before them. The defeat of Washington at Brandywine and at Germantown (September and October, 1777) left the British, under Howe, in possession of Philadelphia. Being in no condition to keep the field, Washington went into winter quarters at Valley Forge, twenty miles northwest of that city. There, in the most inhospitable surroundings, the army remained from the middle of December, 1777, suffering untold privations, while the British passed a winter of gayety in Philadelphia. The American camp consisted of log huts with windows of oiled paper. The soldiers built the huts in bitter weather, their only food being cakes of flour and water which they baked at the open fires. To the hardships of exposure were added the sufferings of disease; to scarcity of provisions, lack of clothing. The men, said Lafayette, "were in want of everything; they had neither coats, hats, shirts, nor shoes; their feet and their legs froze till they became black, and it was often necessary to amputate them."

After such a winter it seems remarkable that Washington could have so strengthened his army as to win the Battle of Monmouth in the following June. The next considerable events of the war were the taking of Stony Point by the British in 1779, and its recapture by Anthony Wayne in the same year. The war went on during the next two years with varying results, but none decisive. The defection of Benedict Arnold deprived the Americans of a capable soldier and gave him to the enemy. The American victory at the Battle of the Cowpens, January 17, 1781, was offset by the triumph of Cornwallis at Guilford Court House, March 15th, but this was that general's last success on American soil. His own account of the surrender of Yorktown, in a letter addressed to Sir Henry Clinton, here follows the complete narrative of Dawson, which covers the final year of the actual War of the American Revolution.

[Pg 98]


The seventh year of the War of the Revolution was productive of great events. Opening with the mutiny of the Pennsylvania line of troops, its progress soon developed the disaffection of the New Jersey line also, and all the skill of General Washington was necessary to maintain that discipline in the army on which the salvation of the country depended. The resources of the country, from the long-continued struggle through which it had passed during six years, had become exhausted; its currency had become depreciated beyond precedent; and the people, weary of the contest, were lukewarm as well as enervated.

At that time, also, the Federal Congress appeared to lack that nerve and decision which had marked the proceedings of the same body earlier in the war; and contenting itself with "recommendations," without attempting to enforce its requisitions or even to advise the adoption of compulsory measures by the States, it left the troops who were in the field without clothing, provisions, or pay, and indirectly forced upon them those acts of apparent insurrection which, resolved to their first elements, might not improperly have been called "acts of necessity," and been justified, in charity, as essential to their self-preservation.

So gloomy, indeed, were the prospects of American independence at that time that the interposition of some foreign government was, by general consent, considered absolutely essential; and never were the good qualities of the Commander-in-Chief more nobly displayed than at this period, when, amid the most pressing discouragements, referred to, he urged the States to strengthen the bonds of the confederacy and to renew their efforts for the great final struggle with their haughty and determined enemy.

The enemy, still anxiously seeking to establish his power in the Southern States, had sent General Arnold to Virginia, with a strong detachment of troops, to coöperate with Lord Cornwallis, who was busily engaged, in a series of movements, in measuring his strength and his skill with General Greene; and, soon afterward, a second detachment, under General Phillips, was sent to the same State.

Early in May the Count de Barras arrived from Europe with the welcome intelligence of the approach of reënforcements from[Pg 99] France; and that a strong fleet from the West Indies, under Count de Grasse, might be expected in the American waters within a few weeks. In view of these facts a conference between General Washington and the Count de Rochambeau was held at Weathersfield soon afterward, and the plans of the campaign were discussed and determined on.

Among the principal operations proposed was an attack on the city of New York; and in accordance with these plans the allied forces of America and France moved against that city. Every necessary preparation had been made for the commencement of active operations, when, on August 14th, a letter reached General Washington in which the Count de Grasse informed him that the entire French West Indian fleet, with more than three thousand land forces, would shortly sail from Santo Domingo for the Chesapeake, intimating, however, that he could not remain longer than the middle of October, at which time it would be necessary for him to be on his station again. As the limited period which the Count could spend in the service of the allies was not sufficient to warrant the supposition that he could be useful before New York, the entire plan of the campaign was changed; and it was resolved to proceed to Virginia, with the whole of the French troops and as many of the Americans as could be spared from the defence of the posts on the Hudson; and instead of besieging Sir Henry Clinton, in his head-quarters in New York, a movement against Lord Cornwallis and the powerful detachment under his command was resolved on.

At the period in question Lord Cornwallis had moved out of the Carolinas, formed a junction with the force under General Phillips, and had overrun the lower counties of Virginia, until General Lafayette, who had been sent to the State some weeks after, by superior skill and the most active exertions had succeeded in checking his progress. The purpose of the allies was to prevent the escape of Lord Cornwallis from his position near Yorktown; and General Lafayette was ordered to make such a disposition of his army as should be best calculated to effect that purpose. In case this purpose should be defeated, and Lord Cornwallis succeed in effecting a retreat into North Carolina, it was designed to pursue him with sufficient force to overawe him: while the remainder of the armies, at the same time, should proceed,[Pg 100] with the French fleet, to Charleston, which was, at the same time, the enemy's head-quarters in the South.

The marine force of the allies was composed of two fleets—that of Admiral Count de Grasse, then on its way from the West Indies, composed of twenty-six sail of the line and several frigates; and that of Admiral Count de Barras, then at anchor in Newport, composed of eight sail of the line, besides transports and victuallers: their military force embraced the main bodies of the American and French armies, under Generals Washington and Rochambeau, then near New York; the detachment of American troops, under General Lafayette, then in Virginia; and more than three thousand French troops, under General Saint-Simon, who were then on their way from the West Indies with the Count de Grasse.

The main body of the enemy's force, under Sir Henry Clinton, was in the city of New York and its immediate vicinity; Lord Cornwallis, with his own command and that which, under Generals Phillips and Arnold, had overrun some portions of Virginia, numbering in the aggregate about seven thousand three hundred fifty men, exclusive of seamen and Tories, was occupying the neck of land between the James and York rivers, where General Lafayette was holding him in check; while the Southern army, under Lieutenant-Colonel Balfour, through the successful movements of General Greene, was mostly confined to Charleston and its immediate vicinity. Admiral Rodney, with a large naval force, was leisurely spending his time in securing his portion of the spoils in the West Indies; Sir Samuel Hood, with fifteen sail of the line and six smaller vessels, had been detached by Admiral Rodney to intercept Admiral de Grasse, and to maintain an equality of power in the American waters; and Admiral Graves, with part of his fleet in New York and a part before Newport, caused the enemy to feel perfectly secure in the positions he occupied.

As has been stated, the intelligence from Admiral de Grasse changed the plans of the allies; and, instead of General Clinton and the main body of the enemy in the city of New York, Lord Cornwallis and the combined forces under his command, then at Yorktown, were made the objects of General Washington's attention. In executing this plan, however, it was necessary to exercise[Pg 101] great caution, not only to prevent Sir Henry Clinton from moving to the assistance of Lord Cornwallis, but also to prevent Admiral Graves from joining Sir Samuel Hood, and, by occupying the Chesapeake, keeping open the communication by sea between Yorktown and New York.

For this purpose, on August 19th the New Jersey line and Colonel Hazen's regiment were sent to New Jersey, by way of Dobbs Ferry, to protect a large number of "ovens" which were ordered to be erected near Springfield and Chatham in that State; and forage and boats, with some efforts to display the same, were also collected on the west side of the Hudson, by which the enemy was led to suppose that an attack was intended from that quarter. Fictitious letters were also written and put in the way of the enemy, by which the deception was confirmed; and Sir Henry Clinton appears to have supposed that Staten Island, or a position near Sandy Hook, to cover the entrance of the French fleet into the harbor, was the real object of the movements, until the allied forces—which had crossed the Hudson, leaving General Heath, with a respectable force, on its eastern bank—had passed the Delaware, and rendered the true object of the movement a matter of obvious certainty.

The body of troops with which General Washington moved to the South embraced all the French auxiliaries, led by Count Rochambeau; the light infantry of the Continental army, led by Colonel Alexander Scammel; detachments of light troops from the Connecticut and New York State troops; the Rhode Island regiment; the regiment known as "Congress' Own," under Colonel Hazen; two New York regiments; a detachment of New Jersey troops; and the artillery, under Colonel John Lamb, numbering in the aggregate about two thousand Americans and a strong body of French. It is said that the American troops, who were mostly from New England and the Middle States, marched with reluctance to the southward, showing "strong symptoms of discontent when they passed through Philadelphia," and becoming reconciled only when an advance of a month's pay, in specie—which was borrowed from Count Rochambeau for that purpose—was paid to them.

The allies, having thus successfully eluded the watchfulness of the enemy in New York, pressed forward toward Annapolis[Pg 102] and the Head of Elk, whither transports had been despatched from the French fleet to convey them to Virginia; and, on September 25th, the last division reached Williamsburg, where, with General Lafayette and his command, and the auxiliary troops, the entire army had rendezvoused.

In the mean time the enemy, as well as the French auxiliaries, had not been inactive. Lord Cornwallis, vainly expecting reënforcements from New York, had concentrated his army at Yorktown and Gloucester, on opposite sides of the York River, and had been busily employed in throwing up strong works of defence, and preparing to sustain a siege.

Admiral Graves, after a bootless cruise to the eastward for the purpose of intercepting some French storeships, had returned to New York on August 16th or 17th, and since that time had been employed in refitting, taking in stores, etc., in blissful ignorance of the approach of Admiral de Grasse. Admiral Rodney, advised of the movements of the French fleet, had sent "early notice" to the Admiral commanding in America; but his despatches, which were sent by the Swallow, Captain Wells, never reached Admiral Graves. Sir Samuel Hood's squadron also had been sent to the northward to check the movements of the French fleet or to strengthen the fleet of Admiral Graves, after touching at the Chesapeake, before the French fleet arrived there, had sailed for New York, and on the afternoon of August 28th had reached that port, and communicated to the Admiral the first intelligence of the movements of the French fleet which he had received. On August 31st the Admiral, with five ships belonging to his own command, and the squadron under Sir Samuel Hood, sailed for the Chesapeake, where he found the French fleet, and on September 5th accepted the invitation to fight which the Admiral de Grasse extended to him; but considered it prudent to return to New York immediately afterward.

The Admiral Count de Grasse, with a naval force of twenty-six sail of the line and some smaller vessels, had sailed from Santo Domingo on August 5th; on the 30th of the same month he entered the Chesapeake and anchored at Lynn Haven; on the following day he had blockaded the mouths of the James and York rivers, and prevented the retreat of the enemy by water; and, as has been before stated—notwithstanding the absence of about[Pg 103] nineteen hundred of his men, besides three ships of the line and two fifties with their crews—had gone out and fought with Admiral Graves and nineteen sail of the line. General the Marquis Saint-Simon, at the head of thirty-three hundred French troops, had been landed from the fleet on September 2d; joined General Lafayette on the 3d; and on the 5th, with the latter officer and his command, had moved down to Williamsburg, fifteen miles from York, and cut off the retreat of the enemy by land. Admiral de Barras, with his squadron and ten transports, having on board the siege-artillery and a large body of French troops under M. de Choisy, sailed from Newport on August 25th, and entered Lynn Haven Bay in safety on September 10th, while Admiral de Grasse was absent in engagement with Admiral Graves.

As before mentioned, the different divisions of the allied forces rendezvoused at Williamsburg, in the vicinity of Yorktown, in the latter part of September. At the same time the enemy's fleet, overawed by the superior force of the combined fleets under Admirals de Grasse and de Barras, had returned to New York, leaving General Cornwallis and his army to the fortunes of war; and enabling the naval force of the allies to coöperate with their military in all the operations of the siege. General Heath, with two New Hampshire, ten Massachusetts, and five Connecticut regiments, the corps of invalids, Sheldon's Legion of Dragoons, the Third regiment of artillery, and "all such State troops and militia as were retained in service," remained in the vicinity of New York to protect the passes in the Highlands, and to check any movement which Sir Henry Clinton might make for the relief of Lord Cornwallis.

At daybreak on September 28th the entire body of the army moved from Williamsburg, and occupied a position within two miles of the enemy's line; the American troops occupied the right of the line; the French auxiliaries the left. York, the scene of operations referred to, is a small village, the seat of justice of York County, Virginia, and is situated on the southern bank of the York River, eleven miles from its mouth. On the opposite side of the river is Gloucester Point, on which the enemy had also taken a position; and the communication between the two posts was commanded by his land-batteries and by some vessels-of-war which lay at anchor under his guns.[Pg 104]

On September 29th the besiegers were principally employed in reconnoitring the situation of the enemy and in arranging their plans of attack. The main body of the enemy was found intrenched in the open ground about Yorktown, with the intention of checking the progress of the allies, while an inner line of works, near the village, had been provided for his ultimate defence; Lieutenant-Colonel Simcoe, with his legion, the Eightieth regiment of the line, and the Hereditary Prince's regiment of Hessians, the whole under Lieutenant-Colonel Dundas, being in possession of Gloucester Point. The only movement was an extension of the right wing of the allied armies, and the consequent occupation of the ground east of the Beaver-dam Creek, by the American forces.

On the evening of that day Lord Cornwallis received despatches from New York in which Sir Henry Clinton advised his lordship that "at a meeting of the general and flag officers, held this day (September 24, 1781) it is determined that above five thousand men, rank and file, shall be embarked on board the King's ships, and the joint exertions of the navy and army made in a few days to relieve you, and afterward to operate with you. The fleet consists of twenty-three sail of the line, three of which are three-deckers. There is every reason to hope that we start from hence October 5th." Gratified with this promise of assistance, and probably confident of his ability to hold his inner position until he could be relieved, Lord Cornwallis imprudently retired from the outer line of works which he had occupied, and on the same night (September 29th) occupied the town, leaving the outer lines to be occupied by the allies, without resistance, on the next day.

On September 30th the allies occupied the deserted positions, and were thereby "enabled to shut up the enemy in a much narrower circle, giving them the greatest advantages." Before the allies moved to the positions which had been thus deserted, Colonel Alexander Scammell, the officer of the day, approached them for the purpose of reconnoitring, when he was attacked by a party of the enemy's horse, which was ambushed in the neighborhood, and, after being mortally wounded, was taken prisoner. On the same day the transports, having on board the battering-train, came up to Trubell's, seven miles from York, whence they[Pg 105] were transported to the lines; and the lines were completely and effectively occupied. The French extended from the river above the town, to a morass in the centre, while the Americans continued the lines from the morass to the river, below the town, the whole forming a semicircle, with the river for a chord.

On the same day the Duc de Lauzun, with his legion of cavalry, and General Weedon, with a body of Virginian militia, the whole under Sieur de Choisy, invested Gloucester, in the course of which a party of the Queen's Rangers, which had been sent out to observe the movements of the allies, was driven in with considerable loss.

On the following day (October 1st) eight hundred marines were landed from the fleet to strengthen the party which was investing Gloucester; and from that time until the 6th both the allies and the enemy vigorously prosecuted their several works of attack or defence, or otherwise prepared for the great struggle which was then inevitable.

On the night of October 6th, under the command of General Lincoln, the besiegers opened their trenches within six hundred yards of the enemy's lines, yet with so much silence was it conducted that it appears to have been undiscovered until daylight on the 7th, when the works were so far completed that they afforded ample shelter for the men, and but one officer and sixteen privates were injured. In this attack the enemy appears to have bent his energies chiefly against the French, on the left of the trenches; and the regiments of Bourbonnois, Soissonnois, and Touraine, commanded by the Baron de Viomenil, were most conspicuous in the defence of the lines.

The 7th, 8th, and 9th of October were employed in strengthening the first parallel, and in constructing batteries somewhat in advance of it, for the purpose of raking the enemy's works and of battering his shipping. Communications were also made in the rear of the left of the line, in order to secure the greater number of openings. On the night of the 10th the trenches on the left were occupied by the regiments of Agenois and Saintonge, under the Marquis de Chastellux; on that of the 8th by the regiments of Gatinois and Royal-Deux-Ponts, under the Marquis de Saint-Simon.

At 5 p.m. of the 9th the American battery on the right of the[Pg 106] line opened its fire—General Washington in person firing the first gun—and six eighteen and twenty-four pounders, two mortars, and two howitzers were steadily engaged during the entire night. At an early hour on the morning of the 10th the French battery on the left, with four twelve-pounders and six mortars and howitzers, also opened fire; and on the same day this fire was increased by the fire from two other French and two American batteries—the former mounting ten eighteen and twenty-four pounders, and six mortars and howitzers, and four eighteen-pounders respectively; the latter mounting four eighteen-pounders and two mortars. "The fire now became so excessively heavy that the enemy withdrew their cannon from their embrasures, placed them behind the merlins, and scarcely fired a shot during the whole day." In the evening of the 10th the Charon, a frigate of forty-four guns, and three transports were set on fire by the shells of hot shot and entirely consumed; and the enemy's shipping was warped over the river, as far as possible, to protect it from similar disaster.

On the night of the 11th the second parallel was opened within three hundred yards of the enemy's lines; and, as in the former instance, it was so far advanced before morning that the men employed in them were in a great measure protected from injury when the enemy opened fire. The three following days were spent in completing this parallel and the redoubts and batteries belonging to it, during which time the enemy's fire was well sustained and more than usually destructive. Two advanced batteries, three hundred yards in front of the enemy's left, were particularly annoying, inasmuch as they flanked the second parallel of the besiegers; and as the engineers reported that they had been severely injured by the fire of the allies it was resolved to attempt to carry them by assault.

Accordingly, in the evening of the 14th, these redoubts were assaulted—that on the extreme right by a detachment embracing the light infantry of the American army, under General Lafayette; the latter by a detachment of grenadiers and chasseurs from the French army, commanded by Baron Viomenil. The attacks were made at 8 p.m., and in that of the Americans the advance was led by Lieutenant-Colonel Alexander Hamilton, with his own battalion and that of Colonel Gimat, the latter in[Pg 107] the van; while Lieutenant-Colonel John Laurens, at the head of eighty men, took the garrison in reverse and cut off its retreat. Not a single musket was loaded; and the troops rushed forward with the greatest impetuosity—passing over the abatis and palisades—and carrying the work with the bayonet, with the loss of nine killed, and six officers and twenty-six rank and file wounded. The French performed their part of the duty with equal gallantry, although from the greater strength of their opponents it was not done so quickly as that of the Americans. The German grenadier regiment of Deux-Ponts, led by Count William Forback de Deux-Ponts, led the column; and Captain Henry de Kalb, of that regiment, was the first officer who entered the work. The chasseur regiment of Gatinois supported the attack; and, in like manner with that on the right, the redoubt was carried at the point of the bayonet.

During the night these redoubts were connected with the second parallel; and during the next day (October 15th) several howitzers were placed on them and a fire opened on the town. These works, important as they had been to the enemy, were no less so to the allies, from the fact that, with them, the entire line of the enemy's works could be enfiladed, and the line of communication between York and Gloucester commanded.

The situation of Lord Cornwallis had now become desperate. He "dared not show a gun to the old batteries" of the allies, and their new ones, then about to open fire, threatened to render his position untenable in a few hours. "Experience has shown," he then wrote, "that our fresh earthen works do not resist their powerful artillery, so that we shall soon be exposed to an assault in ruined works, in a bad position, and with weakened numbers." To retard as much as possible what now appeared to be inevitable, at an early hour next morning (October 16th) the garrison made a sortie; when three hundred fifty men, led by Lieutenant-Colonel Abercrombie, attacked two batteries within the second parallel, carried them with inconsiderable loss, and spiked the guns; but the guards and pickets speedily assembled, and drove the assailants back into the town before any other damage was done.

About 4 p.m. of the 16th the fire of several batteries in the second parallel were opened on the town, while the entire line[Pg 108] was rapidly approaching completion. At this time the situation of the enemy was peculiarly distressing; his defences being in ruins, his guns dismounted, and his ammunition nearly exhausted while an irresistible force was rapidly concentrating its powers to overwhelm and destroy him. At this time Lord Cornwallis entertained the bold and novel design of abandoning his sick and baggage, and by crossing the river to Gloucester and overpowering the force under General de Choisy, which was then guarding that position, to fly for his life, through Virginia, Pennsylvania, and the Jerseys, to New York. As no time could be lost, the attempt was made during the same night, but a violent storm, coming on while the first detachment was still on the river, preventing the landing of part of it, the movement was abandoned; and those troops who had crossed the river returned to York during the next day.

The Siege of Yorktown  Painting by L. C. A. Couder.

On the morning of the next day (October 17th) the several new batteries, which supported the second parallel, opened fire; when Lord Cornwallis considered it no longer incumbent on him to attempt to hold his position at the cost of his troops, and at 10 a.m. he beat a parley and asked a cessation of hostilities, that commissioners might meet to settle the terms for the surrender of the posts of York and Gloucester.

A correspondence ensued between the commanders-in-chief; and on the 18th the Viscount de Noailles and Lieutenant-Colonel John Laurens met Colonel Dundas and Major Ross to arrange the terms of surrender. Without being able to agree on all points, the commissioners separated; when General Washington sent a rough copy of the articles, which had been prepared, to Lord Cornwallis, with a note expressing his expectation that they would be signed by 11 a.m. on the 19th, and that the garrison would be ready to march out of the town within three hours afterward. Finding all attempts to obtain more advantageous terms unavailing, Lord Cornwallis yielded to the necessities of the case and surrendered, with his entire force, military and naval, to the arms of the allies.

The army, with all its artillery, stores, military-chest, etc., was surrendered to General Washington; the navy, with its appointments, to Admiral de Grasse.

The terms were precisely similar to those which the enemy[Pg 109] had granted to the garrison of Charleston in the preceding year; and General Lincoln, the commander of that garrison, on whom the illiberality of the enemy then fell, was designated as the officer to whom the surrender should be made.

"At about 12, noon," says an eye-witness, "the combined army was arranged and drawn up in two lines extending more than a mile in length. The Americans were drawn up in a line on the right side of the road, and the French occupied the left. At the head of the former the great American commander, mounted on his noble courser, took his station, attended by his aides. At the head of the latter was posted the excellent Count Rochambeau and his suite. The French troops, in complete uniform, displayed a martial and noble appearance; their band of music, of which the timbrel formed a part, was a delightful novelty, and produced while marching to the ground a most enchanting effect. The Americans, though not all in uniform nor their dress so neat, yet exhibited an erect, soldierly air, and every countenance beamed with satisfaction and joy. The concourse of spectators from the country was prodigious, in point of numbers probably equal to the military, but universal silence and order prevailed. It was about two o'clock when the captive army advanced through the line formed for their reception. Every eye was prepared to gaze on Cornwallis, the object of peculiar interest and solicitation; but he disappointed our anxious expectations; pretending indisposition, he made General O'Hara his substitute as the leader of his army. This officer was followed by the conquered troops in a slow and solemn step, with shouldered arms, colors cased, and drums beating a British march."

"Having arrived at the head of the line, General O'Hara, elegantly mounted, advanced to His Excellency the Commander-in-Chief, taking off his hat, and apologizing for the non-appearance of Earl Cornwallis. With his usual dignity and politeness, His Excellency pointed to Major-General Lincoln for directions, by whom the British army was conducted into a spacious field, where it was intended they should ground their arms. The royal troops, while marching through the line formed by the allied army, exhibited a decent and neat appearance as respects arms and clothing, for their commander opened his stores and directed every soldier to be furnished with a new suit complete prior to[Pg 110] the capitulation. But in their line of march we remarked a disorderly and unsoldierly conduct, their step was irregular and their ranks frequently broken. But it was in the field, when they came to the last act of the drama, that the spirit and pride of the British soldier was put to the severest test; here their mortification could not be concealed. Some of the platoon officers appeared to be exceedingly chagrined when given the order 'ground arms'; and I am a witness that they performed this duty in a very unofficer-like manner, and that many of the soldiers manifested a sullen temper, throwing their arms on the pile with violence, as if determined to render them useless. This irregularity, however, was checked by the authority of General Lincoln. After having grounded their arms and divested themselves of their accoutrements, the captive troops were conducted back to Yorktown and guarded by our troops till they could be removed to the place of their destination.

"The British troops that were stationed at Gloucester surrendered at the same time, and in the same manner, to the command of the French general, De Choisy. This must be a very interesting and gratifying transaction to General Lincoln, who, having himself been obliged to surrender an army to a haughty foe the last year, has now assigned him the pleasing duty of giving laws to a conquered army in return, and of reflecting that the terms which were imposed on him are adopted as a basis of the surrender in the present instance."

The General-in-Chief on October 20th issued a "general order" congratulating the army "upon the glorious event of yesterday"; and after thanking the officers and troops of his ally, several of his own officers, and Governor Nelson of Virginia and the militia under his command, he concludes with these words: "To spread the general joy in all hearts, the General commands that those of the army who are now held under arrest be pardoned, set at liberty, and that they join their respective corps.

"Divine service shall be performed in the different brigades and divisions. The Commander-in-Chief recommends that all the troops that are not upon duty, to assist at it with a serious deportment, and that sensibility of heart which the recollection of the surprising and particular interposition of Providence in our favor claims."[Pg 111]

The intelligence of the surrender, as it spread over the country, gave general satisfaction and filled every American heart with joy. Congress went in procession to the Dutch Lutheran Church to return thanks to Almighty God for the victory, and a day was set apart for general thanksgiving and prayer; the thanks of the same body were voted to the forces, both of America and France; and in the plenitude of its good-feeling it "resolved" to do that which it has not yet commenced to perform—to erect a marble column at York, in commemoration of the event.[29]

But a greater and more enduring monument than any which the Congress has ever "resolved" to erect, commemorates the capture of Cornwallis: the fall of British dominion in the thirteen colonies on the Atlantic seaboard, the disinterested self-sacrifices of General Washington and the very few who enjoyed his confidence and regard, and the triumph of "the true principles of government." A country which, from small things, has become prosperous, powerful, and happy; a people, whose intelligence and enterprise and independence have astonished the old nations and their rulers; and the homage of admiring millions, freely and voluntarily offered, in every quarter of the globe—these form a monument which will commemorate the fall of Cornwallis, and the patriotism of Washington and Greene, of Wayne and Hamilton, of the honest yeomanry and the devoted "regulars" of that day, long after the resolutions of the Congress—if not the Congress itself—shall have sunk into obscurity and been entirely forgotten.


I have the mortification to inform your Excellency that I have been forced to give up the posts of York and Gloucester, and to surrender the troops under my command, by capitulation, on the 19th instant, as prisoners of war to the combined forces of America and France.

I never saw this post in a very favorable light, but when I found I was to be attacked in it in so unprepared a state, by so powerful an army and artillery, nothing but the hopes of relief would have induced me to attempt its defence, for I would either[Pg 112] have endeavored to escape to New York by rapid marches from the Gloucester side, immediately on the arrival of General Washington's troops at Williamsburg, or I would, notwithstanding the disparity of numbers, have attacked them in the open field, where it might have been just possible that fortune would have favored the gallantry of the handful of troops under my command; but being assured by your Excellency's letters that every possible means would be tried by the navy and army to relieve us, I could not think myself at liberty to venture upon either of these desperate attempts; therefore, after remaining for two days in a strong position in front of this place in hopes of being attacked, upon observing that the enemy were taking measures which could not fail of turning my left flank in a short time, and receiving on the second evening your letter of September 24th informing me that the relief would sail about October 5th, I withdrew within the works on the night of September 29th, hoping by the labor and firmness of the soldiers to protract the defence until you could arrive. Everything was to be expected from the spirit of the troops, but every disadvantage attended their labor, as the works were to be continued under the enemy's fire, and our stock of intrenching tools, which did not much exceed four hundred when we began to work in the latter end of August, was now much diminished.

The enemy broke ground on the night of the 30th, and constructed on that night, and the two following days and nights, two redoubts, which, with some works that had belonged to our outward position, occupied a gorge between two creeks or ravines which come from the river on each side of the town. On the night of October 6th they made their first parallel, extending from its right on the river to a deep ravine on the left, nearly opposite to the centre of this place, and embracing our whole left at a distance of six hundred yards. Having perfected this parallel, their batteries opened on the evening of the 9th against our left, and other batteries fired at the same time against a redoubt advanced over the creek upon our right, and defended by about a hundred twenty men of the Twenty-third regiment and marines, who maintained that post with uncommon gallantry. The fire continued incessant from heavy cannon, and from mortars and howitzers throwing shells from 8 to 16 inches, until all[Pg 113] our guns on the left were silenced, our work much damaged, and our loss of men considerable. On the night of the 11th they began their second parallel, about three hundred yards nearer to us. The troops being much weakened by sickness, as well as by the fire of the besiegers, and observing that the enemy had not only secured their flanks, but proceeded in every respect with the utmost regularity and caution, I could not venture so large sorties as to hope from them any considerable effect, but otherwise I did everything in my power to interrupt this work by opening new embrasures for guns and keeping up a constant fire from all the howitzers and small mortars that we could man.

On the evening of the 14th they assaulted and carried two redoubts that had been advanced about three hundred yards for the purpose of delaying their approaches, and covering our left flank, and during the night included them in their second parallel, on which they continued to work with the utmost exertion. Being perfectly sensible that our works could not stand many hours after the opening of the batteries of that parallel, we not only continued a constant fire with all our mortars, and every gun that could be brought to bear upon it, but a little before daybreak on the morning of the 16th I ordered a sortie of about three hundred fifty men, under the direction of Lieutenant-Colonel Abercrombie, to attack two batteries which appeared to be in the greatest forwardness, and to spike the guns. A detachment of guards with the Eightieth company of grenadiers, under the command of Lieutenant-Colonel Lake, attacked the one, and one of light infantry, under the command of Major Armstrong, attacked the other, and both succeeded in forcing the redoubts that covered them, spiking eleven guns, and killing or wounding about one hundred of the French troops, who had the guard of that part of the trenches, and with little loss on our side. This action, though extremely honorable to the officers and soldiers who executed it, proved of little public advantage, for the cannon, having been spiked in a hurry, were soon rendered fit for service again, and before dark the whole parallel and batteries appeared to be nearly complete. At this time we knew that there was no part of the whole front attacked on which we could show a single gun, and our shells were nearly expended. I therefore had only to choose between preparing to surrender next day or endeavoring to get off with[Pg 114] the greatest part of the troops, and I determined to attempt the latter.

In this situation, with my little force divided, the enemy's batteries opened at daybreak. The passage between this place and Gloucester was much exposed, but the boats, having now returned, they were ordered to bring back the troops that had passed during the night, and they joined us in the forenoon without much loss. Our works, in the mean time, were going to ruin, and not having been able to strengthen them by an abatis, nor in any other manner but by a slight fraising, which the enemy's artillery were demolishing wherever they fired, my opinion entirely coincided with that of the engineer and principal officers of the army, that they were in many places assailable in the forenoon, and that by the continuance of the same fire for a few hours longer they would be in such a state as to render it desperate, with our numbers, to attempt to maintain them. We at that time could not fire a single gun; only one 8-inch and little more than one hundred Cohorn shells remained. A diversion by the French ships-of-war that lay at the mouth of York River was to be expected.

Our numbers had been diminished by the enemy's fire, but particularly by sickness, and the strength and spirits of those in the works were much exhausted by the fatigue of constant watching and unremitting duty. Under all these circumstances I thought it would have been wanton and inhuman to the last degree to sacrifice the lives of this small body of gallant soldiers, who had ever behaved with so much fidelity and courage, by exposing them to an assault which, from the numbers and precautions of the enemy, could not fail to succeed. I therefore proposed to capitulate; and I have the honor to enclose to your excellency the copy of the correspondence between General Washington and me on that subject, and the terms of capitulation agreed upon. I sincerely lament that better could not be obtained, but I have neglected nothing in my power to alleviate the misfortune and distress of both officers and soldiers. The men are well clothed and provided with necessaries, and I trust will be regularly supplied by the means of the officers that are permitted to remain with them. The treatment, in general, that we have received from the enemy since our surrender has been perfectly[Pg 115] good and proper, but the kindness and attention that have been shown to us by the French officers in particular—their delicate sensibility of our situation—their generous and pressing offer of money, both public and private, to any amount—has really gone beyond what I can possibly describe, and will, I hope, make an impression in the breast of every British officer, whenever the fortune of war should put any of them into our power.

Yorktown, Virginia, October 20, 1781.


[29] A commemorative column, surmounted by a statue of General Rochambeau, heroic size, was unveiled at Washington May 24, 1902.—Ed.

[Pg 116]


a.d. 1782


To Great Britain it was of the utmost importance that, once having secured possession of Gibraltar, she should keep that famous stronghold. By successfully defending it during the long siege of 1779-1783, she retained it in what has proved a lasting tenure.

The fortified promontory and town of Gibraltar, now a British crown colony, have long been objects of historical interest. The Rock of Gibraltar, anciently called Calpe, one of the Pillars of Hercules, is on the southern coast of Spain. Its name has been for centuries a synonyme of strength. Near it in the eighth century landed Tarik, the first Saracen invader of Spain. The Moors mainly held it till 1462, when it was finally taken by the Spaniards. Charles V fortified it; in 1704 it was captured by an English and Dutch force under Sir George Rooke. The Spaniards and French unsuccessfully besieged it in 1704-1705, and the Spaniards again in 1727.

No further attempt was made to capture this seemingly impregnable fastness until the great siege here described by Sayer, when once more the Spaniards and French combined against it. England was now somewhat weakened by the war with the American colonies and France. All Europe was unfriendly to her, and Spain, as well as France, was actively hostile. Gibraltar was closely invested in 1779, and so remained for three years, when the final assault was made. In 1782 Alvarez, the Spanish commander, was superseded by the Duc de Crillon, who had just taken Minorca from the British.

George Augustus Eliot, afterward Lord Heathfield, Baron of Gibraltar, who made the memorable defence, was appointed governor of Gibraltar in 1775. Lord Howe, who went to his assistance, had conducted the English naval operations in America. He returned to England in 1778, in 1782 was made a viscount of Great Britain, and was sent to relieve Gibraltar, where he arrived too late to assist against the grand attack, but landed welcome troops and supplies.

Piqued at the successful defence which for three years had baffled every effort, and burning with the desire to wipe out the stain on the national honor, the Spaniards were urged on in this last struggle by all the impulses of pride, ambition, and revenge. The slow and regular operations of a siege having[Pg 117] proved but labor lost against this stubborn rock, rewards were offered to the most skilful engineers in Europe for plans to subdue the fortress.

Stimulated by these liberal offers, a thousand schemes had reached Madrid, some bold to extravagance, others too ludicrous to deserve attention. Among them, however, was one, the invention of the Chevalier d'Arçon, of such superior merit that it instantly arrested the attention even of the King himself. His plan consisted of a combined attack by sea and land upon a scale so tremendously formidable, and assisted by such ingenious inventions of art, that it held out a prospect of certain success.

After a brief consideration the Court of Madrid announced its unqualified approval of the scheme, and orders were at once issued for its adoption. Not only was the reduction of the fort now considered certain, but so vast were the powers to be employed, and so prodigious the armament to be brought against the walls, that the annihilation of every stone upon the rock was not unexpected. The plan embraced two leading features: first, a bombardment from the isthmus, upon a scale hitherto unknown; secondly, an attack by sea along the whole length of the line-wall. For this purpose floating batteries of such construction that they were to be "at once incombustible and insubmergible," were to be employed.

Each battery was clad on its fighting side with three successive layers of squared timber, three feet in thickness; within this wall ran a body of wet sand, and within that again was a line of cork soaked in water and calculated to prevent the effects of splinters, the whole being bound together by strong wooden bolts. To protect the crews from shells or dropping shot, a hanging roof was contrived, composed of strong rope-work netting, covered with wet hides, and shelving sufficiently to prevent the shot from lodging.

Not the least remarkable part of these vessels was a plan for the prevention of combustion from red-hot shot. A reservoir was placed beneath the roof from which numerous pipes, like the veins of the human body, circulated through the sides of the ship, giving a constant supply of water to every part, and keeping the wood continually saturated.

To form these powerful batteries, ten ships, from six hundred[Pg 118] to fourteen hundred tons burden, were cut down to the proper proportions, and upward of two hundred thousand cubic feet of timber were used in their construction. Each battery was armed with from eight to twenty heavy brass cannon of new manufacture, with a reserve of spare pieces. The crews varied in number from seven hundred sixty to two hundred fifty men. One large sail propelled each ship.

Besides this tremendous armament which was to annihilate the line of defence from the sea, preparations of no less magnitude were being made for the attack on the northern front. Not fewer than twelve hundred pieces of heavy ordnance were ready for use in the artillery park, enormous quantities of ammunition and warlike stores were in the magazines, and the reserve of gunpowder alone was reported at eighty-three thousand barrels. Immense works were being hurried forward on the isthmus of a grandeur which eclipsed anything that had been previously constructed.

In twenty-four hours a flying sap was thrown out with a rapidity of execution unequalled. The parallel extended to a length of two hundred thirty toises, with a boyau of six hundred thirty toises from the place where it joined the principal barrier of the lines. The construction of this boyau required one million six hundred thousand bags of sand, and thousands of casks were used in forming the parallel. In a single night this enormous work was raised to the height of twelve feet with eighteen feet of thickness, and it was supposed that during the seven hours in which it was erected ten thousand men were at labor.

To assist in the assault by sea, the combined fleets of France and Spain, amounting to fifty sail of the line, with forty gunboats, numerous frigates, and fifty mortar-vessels, were to act in support. Three hundred boats, fitted with hinged platforms at their prows, were to accompany the expedition, and at the proper moment to land the troops.

The outline of the attack having been arranged, the plan was drawn out by the Duc de Crillon, and submitted for approval, first to the Court of Madrid, and afterward to the King of France. Subsequently the details were very materially altered, but the principle remained the same. The method originally proposed was as follows:[Pg 119]

"The plan for taking Gibraltar, presented by Crillon, with the opinion of the minister, was imparted, by order of his majesty, to France, by the hand of Aranda, and, it being approved of, that Court offered twenty-seven auxiliary ships. According to this plan the assault will be conducted in the following manner: Brigadier Don Ventura Moreno will command the fire of the fleet. The vanguard of the combined squadron will be commanded by Señor Cordova, and among the divisions that compose it will be included the third of twelve fireproof ships, which will anchor in Algeciras until Señor Alvarez completes the sixty paces of intrenchment opposite the fortress. Our ships will then attack; four by the Europa Point, two by the New Mole, their fire being supported by that of the gun- and mortar-boats and bomb-ketches, which will hold themselves in readiness to support where it may be required.

"At a given signal the fire from our whole line will open with that of the intrenchment, which will not cease until a breach shall have been made at the Europa Point. The battering-ships will not be allowed to quit their respective posts till they require relief, and they will then retire to Algeciras, whence others will proceed to supply their places, taking up the same points. The officer who shall act counter to his orders will be removed from his post without its being referred to the King. The breach having been made, the commander-in-chief, the Duc de Crillon, will notify to the governor the surrender of the fortress; and should he consent to the capitulation, the preliminaries will be arranged, conceding to him military honors; if he persist in the defence, the operations will continue in the following manner:

"The fire by sea and land will protect the disembarkation of our troops on the flanks of the advance. The boats conveying them will be covered by large planks on hinges, which on unfolding will fall on the moles on the right, while on the left others will rest on the transports that follow, in order to link them to each other and adjust them to the breach, binding them firmly together, the first boat being attached to the ground by means of grappling-irons, which it will carry for the purpose. The troops will advance along these in the following order: Two companies of grenadiers of about seventy men each, and as many more of chasseurs, with three companies of dragoons, the whole under[Pg 120] the command of Señor Cagigal, general of the second column, and his subaltern officers, the brigadier Don Francesco Pacheco, Colonel of Seville, and Señor Aviles, Colonel of Villaviciosa. Two battalions of volunteers of Catalonia will form the flying troops to effect a support where it may be necessary, and to strengthen either flank, or profiting by any opportunity the enemy may offer of attacking him. This corps will be commanded by Brigadier Don Benito Panogo.

"The army will be formed into three divisions; its right commanded by Lieutenant-General Buch, its left by the Count of Cifuentes, and its centre by Marshal Burghesi. The best company of grenadiers from each regiment will be detached to cover its respective corps, and when the disembarkation of the troops, or part of them, shall have been executed, the boats carrying the fascines, powder-saucisses, gabions, panniers, pickaxes, etc., will be sent forward in order that they may cover themselves as the disembarkation proceeds, keeping up at the same time a lively fire along with the rest of the army. Detached parties will scour with promptitude the Campo Huevo in order to intercept the advanced guard and to cut off the retreat of the enemy to the mountain; which dispositions being well concerted, the enemy will be reduced to the extremity of either surrendering or being destroyed.

"The squadron of Señor Cordova will cover the mouth of the Straits, and the French will place itself as much within as circumstances may require; two hundred muheletes and two hundred artillerymen more have been asked for from the camp, those that are present being required for the intrenchment. These have been sent for from their respective corps."

The fame of the siege of Gibraltar had ere this spread to the remotest corners of Europe. The Count d'Artois, brother to the King of France, and the Duc de Bourbon arrived in the camp in August, impatient to witness the fall of the invincible fortress, and they were followed by crowds of the nobility of Spain, eager to join in an enterprise which it was anticipated would result in a victory most glorious to their arms.

General Eliot regarded the progress of the tremendous armaments without despondency. He prepared for the coming storm, and made every effort to meet it manfully and with success.[Pg 121] An experiment which had lately been tried with red-hot shot produced such effects that he founded his hopes of destroying the enemy's battering-ships almost solely upon that expedient, and great numbers of furnaces for heating the shot were immediately prepared and placed in convenient positions within the principal batteries. The defences too were thoroughly repaired, the Land Port was more carefully protected, and unserviceable guns were laid across the tops of the embrasures in many of the works, as a protection to the artillerymen when under fire.

The arrival of the Count d'Artois in the camp gave rise to an interchange of courtesies between the governor and the Duc de Crillon, and though the two chiefs were on the eve of a great struggle for the mastery, letters couched in the most affable and peaceful terms passed between them. The Count having brought with him a packet of letters for some officers of the garrison, the Duc de Crillon took advantage of the opportunity, and, when the parcel was sent into the fortress, accompanied it by a letter from himself to General Eliot, in which he expressed the highest esteem for the governor's person and character, and assured him how anxiously he looked forward to becoming his friend; at the same time he offered a present of a few luxuries for the General's table. In reply to this courteous note the governor returned his sincerest thanks for the gift, but begged that in future no such favor might be heaped upon him, as by accepting the present he had broken through a rule to which he had faithfully adhered since the beginning of the war, never to receive anything for his own private use, but to partake both of plenty and scarcity in common with the lowest of his brave fellow-soldiers.

Toward the end of August, 1782, a grand inspection of the floating batteries took place at Algeciras, at which the French princes were present. To exhibit the ease and simplicity with which they could be manœuvred, the vessels were put through various movements, to the admiration and surprise of the spectators. So satisfactory was this trial considered that it became the popular opinion that twenty-four hours would suffice for the demolition of the fortress, and the Duc de Crillon was made the subject of the greatest ridicule when he cautiously hinted that fourteen days might elapse ere the place fell. Crillon, in fact[Pg 122] had no affection for the schemes of the Chevalier d'Arçon, and, as we shall presently see, he attributed his subsequent failure almost entirely to the blind confidence that was placed in the floating batteries.

As the time approached, the greatest impatience was manifested not only by the troops, but throughout all Spain, for the commencement of the attack, and so loud was the clamor for immediate action that D'Arçon was ordered to hurry on the completion of the floating batteries with every despatch.

Late in August a council of war was held in the camp, at which the French princes were present, and it was then proposed that the command and direction of the floating batteries should be confided to the officer of the navy, Crillon taking upon himself the responsibility of the attack by land. Disputes had already arisen as to the proper dispositions for the bombardment, Crillon claiming an undivided authority over the whole proceeding, while the Minister of Marine was anxious that the Admiral should direct the movements of the batteries and their mode of equipment.

When the before-mentioned proposal was conveyed to Crillon he peremptorily refused to accede to it. Nor could any decision be arrived at regarding the most proper point of attack; the Old Mole, which at first appeared the weakest part of the fortress, was found to be covered by the guns of the principal batteries on the Rock, while the New Mole presented even greater difficulties. There was another matter too which became the subject of discussion up to the very moment of the attack, and this was whether it would not be expedient to supply each floating battery with warp-anchors and the double cables, that they might withdraw in case of accident.

These unfortunate disputes, which arose at a time when perfect unanimity was most essential, hampered the progress of operations, and destroyed that harmony which should have existed between Crillon and his subordinates. D'Arçon especially was offended and annoyed; he claimed for himself the merit of having invented the machines which were to annihilate the place, and insisted upon his right to have the sole direction of their movements. Crillon, on the other hand, perceived that if the command were divided, and the attack should prove successful,[Pg 123] the glory of the triumph would be appropriated by the French engineer. In the many councils of war that preceded the bombardment the Duke did not care to conceal his jealousy of the Chevalier d'Arçon. On one occasion, deriding the propositions of the engineer, he exclaimed: "You have a fatherly love for your batteries, and are only anxious for their preservation. Should the enemy attempt to take possession of them, I will burn them before his face." On another occasion, when in the presence of the French princes, he said: "You were summoned into Spain to execute my plan for the attack of Gibraltar by floating batteries. Your commission is performed: the rest belongs to me."

While these discussions and misunderstandings were distracting the councils of the besiegers, a master hand was guiding the preparations for the defence within the fortress. Every emergency that might occur was provided for, every danger that could be foreseen averted, and the garrison itself reënforced by a marine brigade of six hundred men under command of Brigadier Curtis. In the first week of September the land works of the enemy had progressed with gigantic strides, immense batteries, some containing as many as sixty-four guns, only waited to be unmasked, and long strings of mules streamed hourly into the trenches, laden with shot, shell, and ammunition.

The advanced works were not, except in some instances, yet armed, and large masses of material which had accumulated in their vicinity cumbered the embrasures and rendered their parapets liable to destruction by fire. Seizing upon the opportunity thus afforded by the negligence of the Spaniards, General Boyd wrote to the governor recommending the use of red-hot shot against these works. Though the distance was great, and the effect of heated shot had not then been thoroughly ascertained, Eliot acquiesced in the proposition, and Major Lewis, commanding the artillery, was ordered to execute the attack.

On September 8th the preparations were completed, and at 7 a.m. the guards having been relieved, a tremendous fire was opened from all the northern batteries. Throughout the day this fiery cannonade was kept up with unabated fury. By 10 a.m. the Mahon battery and another work of two guns were in flames and by five in the evening were entirely consumed, with[Pg 124] all their gun-carriages, platforms, and magazines. The effect of the red-hot shot exceeded the most sanguine expectations; the damage done was extensive and for a time irreparable; the greater part of the communication to the eastern parallel was destroyed, and the batteries of St. Carlos and St. Martin so much injured that they were no longer serviceable. At one moment the works were on fire in fifty places, and the flames, lifted by the wind, spread with terrible rapidity; but by the prodigious exertions of the enemy's troops, who, notwithstanding the galling fire from the garrison to which they were exposed, displayed a reckless intrepidity, the work of destruction was arrested and many of the batteries saved from ruin. Irritated at this unexpected attack upon works which had cost him so much labor and anxiety, Crillon was precipitated into a premature bombardment, which, while it exposed to view the hitherto masked batteries, and thus gave General Eliot an opportunity of preparing counter-works upon the Rock, at the same time did considerable damage to the unfinished lines.

On the morning of September 9th a battery of sixty-four guns opened at daybreak and a tremendous discharge from one hundred seventy pieces of cannon announced the commencement of the final bombardment. At the same time a squadron of seven Spanish and two French line-of-battle ships got under way at Orange Grove, and, dropping slowly past the sea-line wall, delivered several broadsides against the south bastion and Ragged Staff, until they arrived off Europa. Then, having first formed line to eastward of the Rock, they attacked the batteries from the Point as far as the New Mole, with some energy. On the following day this manœuvre was repeated, and the cannonade from the lines was renewed with all its fierceness, six thousand five hundred shot and two thousand eighty shell being thrown into the fortress every twenty-four hours. Notwithstanding this overwhelming fire the loss in the garrison was exceedingly small.

On the 12th the combined fleets of Spain and France, numbering thirty-nine ships of the line, entered the Bay of Algeciras, and having formed a junction with the squadron already at anchor, raised the naval force to fifty ships of the line and two second-rates; nine vessels bore an admiral's flag.[Pg 125]

General Eliot was conscious that the hour of trial approached, and so ably had he conducted his preparations that during the twenty-four hours preceding the attack not a single alteration had to be made, even in the most minute directions that had been given to the troops. Every man knew his place, each gun was told off for one particular duty, simple and efficient arrangements had been made for a constant supply of ammunition, and every bastion was furnished with its fuel and furnace for the dreaded red-hot shot.

It was during the morning of the 12th that the governor received information that the combined attack would commence on the following day. Calmly as this courageous man awaited the hour of trial, he could not but be influenced by the gravest anxiety for the result. He had witnessed the gigantic armaments that were preparing for the assault; and though ignorant of the exact force which was to be brought against him, he was aware that neither France nor Spain had spared labor or expense to accumulate a strength hitherto unknown in the history of sieges. On the land he was threatened by two hundred forty-six pieces of cannon, mortars, and howitzers, and an army of near forty thousand men; while by sea fifty sail of the line, ten floating batteries, of a construction supposed to be indestructible, with countless gun- and mortar-boats, and three hundred smaller craft were waiting only the signal for the attack. To this enormous armament, but seven thousand men and ninety-six guns could be opposed. At a council of war held in the Spanish camp on September 4th the final details for the arrangement of the grand attack had been settled, and it was decided to open the bombardment on the 13th of the month.

At this council M. d'Arçon vehemently protested against the precipitate haste with which the preparations of the floating batteries had been hurried on, and vainly pleaded for a few days' further delay, in order that some experiments might be made upon the vessels, and especially that the effectiveness of the water apparatus might be tested. His arguments were met by others equally cogent. Lord Howe with a powerful fleet was known to be on his way to relieve the fortress, and it was of vital importance that his arrival should be anticipated. The season was already far advanced, and the works on the land side, which had[Pg 126] only just been repaired, were at any moment exposed to a second partial destruction by red-hot shot. All objections, therefore, were overruled, and the day was named.

At about seven o'clock on the morning of September 13th the enemy's fleet was observed to be in motion off the Orange Grove, and shortly afterward the ten floating batteries were under way, and with a crowd of boats standing for the southward with a light northwest breeze.

Shortly after ten o'clock they had reached their respective stations off the line-wall, and Admiral Don Buenoventura Moreno, in the Pastora, having taken up a position opposite the capital of the King's Bastion, the others anchored in admirable order on his right and left flanks, at about one thousand yards distance from the walls of the fortress.

At this time the enemy's camp and the surrounding hills were covered with countless thousands of spectators, who had hurried from all parts of Spain to witness the fall of Gibraltar. The batteries had no sooner let go their anchors than a tremendous cannonade of hot and cold shot was opened upon them all along the line; at the same instant the ponderous vessels replied from all their guns, supported by the fire of one hundred eighty-six pieces of ordnance from the works on the isthmus.

Never before in the annals of war had a spectacle so magnificently grand been witnessed—four hundred cannon belched forth their volleys of fire at the same moment, the whole heaven was obscured by the curling clouds of smoke which clung around the rugged peaks of the rocks, while the misty gloom was fitfully illumined by the flashes of a thousand saucisses and shells. The whole peninsula was overwhelmed with a torrent of shot.

For two hours this terrible cannonade continued without intermission, and no impression had been made upon the floating batteries; so well calculated was their construction to withstand the effects of artillery that the heaviest shells rebounded from their roofs and the shot struck harmless on their sides. Upward of two thousand red-hot balls had been thrown against them, and no symptoms of combustion appeared, except here and there a feeble flame, which ere it could spread was quenched.

At noon the enemy slackened their fire from the sea for a moment, but seemingly only for the purpose of amending the[Pg 127] direction of their guns, which had previously been uncertain and too high; the pause was but for an instant, and the artillery again burst forth with a more powerful and better-directed fire. Showers of every missile swept over the walls, and already the British troops, disappointed with the effects of the red-hot shot, and fatigued with the mid-day sun, began to look gloomily upon the issue of the fight. But about two o'clock slight wreaths of flame were observed issuing from the Admiral's ship, and at the same time a strange confusion was remarked among the men on board the Talla Piedra. On board this battery was the Chevalier d'Arçon, who was present in the action as a volunteer to watch the success of his own inventions. Several red-hot shot had struck this ship, but one alone gave any uneasiness to those on board; to reach the smouldering woodwork the guns were silenced, and the smoke clearing away left the vessel exposed to such a concentrated fire that all efforts to arrest the progress of the flames were in vain. The blaze rapidly spread, the crew were seized with a panic, and, fearful of an explosion, turned the water into the powder-magazines. Thus one battery was rendered useless during the remainder of the action.

In the Admiral's ship the flames were for some hours subdued, and her guns continued to play upon the walls until nightfall; but the disorder which was immediately visible in the Talla Piedra and the Pastora soon affected the whole line of attack, and by 7 p.m. the fire from the fortress had gained a commanding superiority.

At midnight signals of distress were made from all parts of the bay. The Admiral's ship was in flames from stem to stern, and others had been set on fire. The enemy now determined to abandon all the ships, and those which had hitherto resisted the effects of the red-hot shots were, by order of the Admiral, set in flames.

As the gray morning dawned, the scene on the waters of the bay was sublimely terrible; masses of shattered wreck, to which were clinging the drowning crews, floated over the troubled waves; groans and cries for help reached even to the walls, or were drowned in the thunders of the exploding magazines, while the glaring flames of the burning vessels cast a lurid light over the awful spectacle.[Pg 128]

At two o'clock in the morning Brigadier Curtis, who with his squadron of gunboats lay at the New Mole ready to take advantage of any opportunity to harass the enemy, pushed out to the westward and with great expedition formed line upon the flank of the battering-ships. This sudden movement completely disconcerted the Spaniards, who were engaged in removing the crews from the vessels, and they fled precipitately, abandoning the wounded and leaving them to perish in the flames. As daylight appeared two feluccas, which had not been able before to escape, were discovered endeavoring to get away, but, a shot from one of the gunboats killing five of their men, they both surrendered.

Hearing from the prisoners that hundreds of officers and men, some wounded, still remained on board the batteries and must certainly perish, Captain Curtis, at the utmost risk of his own life, made the most heroic efforts to effect their rescue. Careless of danger from the explosions which every instant scattered showers of débris around him, he passed from ship to ship and literally dragged from the burning decks the miserable men who yet remained on board. With the coolest intrepidity he pushed his pinnace close alongside one of the largest batteries at the very moment she blew up, covering the sea with fragments of her wreck. For a time the boat was engulfed amid the falling ruin, and her escape was miraculous. A huge balk of timber fell through her flooring, killing the coxswain, wounding others of the crew, and starting a large hole in her bottom. Through this leak the water rushed so rapidly that little hope was left of reaching the shore, but, the sailors' jackets being stuffed into the aperture, the hole was plugged, and the gallant men got safe to land. By the heroic and humane exertions of Captain Curtis and his boat's crew three hundred fifty-seven persons were saved from a horrible death.

While these disasters were occurring in the bay, the land batteries on the isthmus never for an instant slackened the tremendous fire that had been commenced on the previous morning; until at daybreak on the 14th the Spaniards, having become aware of the fate of their comrades on board the vessels, ordered the cannonade to cease.

Captain Curtis had scarcely completed his service of humanity[Pg 129] before eight of the remaining ships blew up and one only remained unconsumed. At first it was hoped that she might be saved as a trophy of the glorious action, but this was afterward found impossible, and she was set fire to like the rest. The flag of Admiral Moreno remained flying until his battery was totally destroyed.

Desperate had been the struggle and great was the victory. During the hottest of the fire General Eliot took his station on the King's Bastion, exposed to the guns of the two most powerful battering-ships. Nothing could exceed the coolness and courage of the troops during this trying day; the steady and incessant fire was never allowed to slacken, the guns were served, says the governor, "with the deliberate coolness and precision of school practice, but the exertions of the men were infinitely superior."

The furnaces for heating the shot were found to be too few, and huge fires were kindled in convenient corners of the streets. An immense amount of ammunition was expended on both sides; three hundred twenty of the enemy's cannon were in play throughout the day, and to these were opposed only ninety-six guns from the garrison. Upward of eight thousand shot and seven hundred sixteen barrels of gunpowder were fired away by the garrison.

When the unparalleled force of the bombardment is considered, the casualties among the troops were remarkably few: one officer, two sergeants, and thirteen men only were killed, and five officers and sixty-three men wounded. The enemy's losses, on the contrary, were very great; on the floating batteries alone one thousand four hundred seventy-three men were either killed, wounded, or missing.

By the evening of the 14th the bay was cleared of the shattered wrecks, and not a vestige of the formidable armament, which the day before had been the hope and pride of Spain, remained.

The contest was at an end, and the united strength of two ambitious and powerful nations had been humbled by a straitened garrison of six thousand effective men. With the destruction of the floating batteries the siege was virtually concluded.

In Spain the news was received with consternation and despair. The thousands who on the preceding day crowded upon[Pg 130] the neighboring hills, and with eager anxiety awaited the anticipated victory, returned to their homes disappointed and chagrined. They had been taught to believe that the attack would be crushing and invincible; that the batteries were indestructible; that the fortress must be annihilated by their overwhelming fire; but instead of these disasters they had seen every ship destroyed or sunk, with all their guns, and two thousand men of their crews either killed, wounded, or taken prisoner. In the first moment of consternation the inventor of those vast machines, upon the success of which the whole attack depended, could not restrain his poignant grief and was led into confessions which he afterward regretted. Writing to the French ambassador, Montmorin, he said: "I have burned the Temple of Ephesus; everything is lost, and through my fault. What comforts me under my misfortune is that the honor of the two kings remains untarnished."

At Madrid the news of the disaster was received with dismay; and the King, who was at the palace of Ildefonso, listened to the intelligence in mute despair. The recovery of Gibraltar had been his unswerving aim, and with this repulse almost his last hope was extinguished. In Paris the intelligence was no less unexpected and unwelcome; so certain indeed had the fall of the fortress been considered that a drama illustrative of the destruction of Gibraltar by the floating batteries was acted nightly to applauding thousands.

It has been before remarked that the Duc de Crillon never held that blindly confident opinion of the inventions of D'Arçon which had turned the heads of the two Bourbon courts. He had always urged the necessity of a complete attack by sea, in which the whole fleet should engage, and of which the floating batteries would form an integral part. The French engineer ridiculed this idea, and affirmed that the ships would be destroyed before they could inflict any damage upon the walls.

The result of the attack showed how completely D'Arçon was mistaken. During the day the assistance of the combined fleet was urgently required; but when its coöperation might have turned the tide of victory, an adverse wind arose, and the vessels could not beat up within range of the Rock.

The distinguished part which Captain Curtis had taken in[Pg 131] the defence of the fortress ever since he had joined the command drew from General Eliot commendations no less merited than sincere. Writing to Lord Howe on October 15th he says:

"Unknown to Brigadier Curtis, I must entreat your lordship to reflect upon the unspeakable assistance he has been in the defence of this place by his advice, and the lead he has taken in every hazardous enterprise. You know him well, my lord, therefore such conduct on his part is no more than you expect; but let me beg of you not to leave him unrewarded for such signal services. You alone can influence his majesty to consider such an officer for what he has, and what he will in future deserve wherever employed. If Gibraltar is of the value intimated to me from office, and to be presumed by the steps adventured to relieve it, Brigadier Curtis is the man to whom the King will be chiefly indebted for its security. Believe me, there is nothing affected in this declaration on my part."

Again, when on his return to England he was created Lord Heathfield, he expressed his indignation that Curtis only received the honor of knighthood and a pension of five hundred pounds per annum. "It is a shame," he said, "that I should be overloaded, and so scanty a pittance be the lot of him who bore the greatest share of the burthen." Such was the unaffected modesty of this great man!

When the confusion arising from their disastrous defeat had subsided in the enemy's camp, a heavy cannonade was again opened from their lines and advanced works. The firing generally commenced about five or six o'clock in the morning and continued till noon, then for two hours the batteries were silent, but again opened till seven o'clock in the evening, when the mortars took up the fire till daybreak. During the twenty-four hours six hundred shells and about one thousand shots were thrown into the garrison.

Notwithstanding the ill-success which had attended the combined attack, and the signal proof the enemy had received of the impregnable strength of the fortress, the Spaniards did not entirely despair of eventually reducing the place by famine, could the arrival of Lord Howe's fleet with the convoy be prevented.[Pg 132]

In August the English Government, being aware of the vast preparations which had been making in Spain for the siege of Gibraltar, had collected a fleet of thirty-four sail of the line, six frigates, and three fire-ships, under command of Admiral Lord Howe, which was to convoy a flotilla of merchantmen with relief for the garrison.

By September 11th the preparations were completed, and on that day Howe set sail from Spithead with one hundred eighty-three sail, including the convoy, under the command of Vice-Admirals Barrington and Milbank, Rear Admirals Hood and Hughes, and Commodore Hotham.

Hampered by the difficulty of keeping the merchantmen together, and baffled by contrary winds and violent weather, Howe's passage was unusually slow and tedious.

The Spanish Government having gained intelligence of the approach of this powerful force, instantly took measures to attack the expedition before it could arrive at its destination. For this purpose the combined fleets of Spain and France which lay in the harbor of Algeciras were reënforced, and dispositions were made for intercepting the British ships on their passage through the Straits.

These arrangements had scarcely been completed when, on the evening of October 10th, a fresh westerly wind sprang up in the bay, and toward night gradually increased in violence till it blew a hurricane. Soon the enemy's vessels were in distress, many were dragging their anchors, and signal-guns were fired for help in rapid succession. Throughout the night the fury of the storm did not abate, and daybreak disclosed the havoc among the squadrons at Algeciras; a ship of the line and a frigate were ashore at Orange Grove, a French liner had suffered great damage to her masts and rigging, and the St. Michael, of seventy-two guns, was discovered close in shore off the Orange Bastion in distress. She was immediately fired at and after having lost four men she was run ashore on the line-wall, and taken possession of by Captain Curtis. Her commander, Admiral Don Juan Moreno, and her crew of six hundred fifty men were landed as prisoners. These misfortunes materially affected the ulterior movements of the combined fleets. In the mean time Lord Howe had on the 8th of the month arrived off Cape St.[Pg 133] Vincent, and a frigate was sent on from there to gain information from the consul at Faro of the enemy's dispositions. Two days afterward she returned with the intelligence that the combined fleets, consisting of nearly fifty sail, lay at anchor at Algeciras.

Upon the receipt of this news a council of war was held, and clear and stringent orders were afterward issued for the guidance of the masters in charge of the merchantmen, that the convoy might be conducted safely into the harbor of Gibraltar. On the 11th, the fleet passed through the Straits in three divisions, the third and centre squadrons in line of battle ahead, the second squadron in reserve; the Victory led ahead of the third squadron.

By sunset the van had arrived off Europa Point, and before nightfall four of the transports had anchored under the guns of the fortress. By an unpardonable inattention to the orders they had received, the masters of the other vessels failed to make the bay and were driven away to the eastward of the Rock. To the astonishment of Howe, who had looked upon an engagement as inevitable, the Spaniards did not attempt to intercept the convoy.

During the two following days the British Admiral was engaged in collecting the transports to the eastward, and preparing for action in case the Spaniards should attack.

On the 13th the combined fleets, consisting of forty-four ships of the line, five frigates, and twenty-nine xebec-cutters and brigs, got under way and stood to the southward, with the apparent intention of bearing down upon Lord Howe's force. But though the Spanish Admiral had the weather-gauge, and notwithstanding his fleet was greatly superior in numbers to the English, he contented himself with the execution of some harmless manœuvres, and permitted the whole of the transports to be conducted safely into Gibraltar under the very muzzles of his guns. The stores and provisions were immediately landed, and two regiments of infantry—Twenty-fifth and Twenty-ninth—were disembarked under the superintendence of Lord Mulgrave.

Having accomplished his mission and relieved the fortress, Lord Howe prepared to return to England.[Pg 134]

On October 19th, taking advantage of an easterly wind, he formed his fleet in order of battle and sailed through the Straits. At this time the combined fleets were cruising a few miles north-east of Ceuta, and in view of Howe's squadron, of which they had the weather-gauge.

The two fleets remained near each other during the night, and on the following morning, the wind having come round to the northward, the Spaniards still held the advantage and could have closed for action at any moment. It was Lord Howe's desire, if possible, to avoid an engagement in the narrow and dangerous waters of the Straits, and to entice the enemy to accept battle in the open sea; with this object he continued on his course to the westward.

At sunset on the 20th the combined fleets, greatly superior to the English in force and numbers, came up with the rear division, under Admiral Barrington, and a partial action commenced, but the enemy remained at such a respectful distance, keeping as near as they could haul to the wind, that the firing was comparatively harmless on both sides. The two admirals De Guichen and Cordova led the enemy's van, and it was apparently their intention to cut off and destroy the rear division of the British fleet; but though they had the superiority in force and the advantage of the wind, they could not be induced to close, and soon after midnight the firing ceased. The next morning the two fleets were still in sight, but as the Spaniards evinced no disposition to renew the engagement, Howe, whose orders did not permit him to provoke the enemy, continued on his homeward voyage.

The successful passage of the British fleet through the Straits, in the face of the combined forces, was regarded in Madrid as a glorious victory for the Spanish arms. The despatches of Don Louis de Cordova described the partial engagement as a complete rout, and Howe was made to flee with all press of sail from his brave pursuers.

Seizing upon this exaggerated intelligence as a counterpoise to the recent disastrous news from Gibraltar, the Government extolled the valor of the navy, and spread ludicrously bombastic accounts of the "glorious victory" throughout the country. Pamphlets descriptive of the engagement were published and[Pg 135] disseminated, in which the casualties of the English were put down in numbers imposingly enormous.

Gibraltar having thus been again successfully relieved, the Spanish government relinquished all hope of securing its possession by force of arms; but the King still fondly retained some expectation of succeeding by negotiation. In order to conceal the actual hopelessness of the enterprise, and "to give a reasonable color to the formal prosecution of the siege," private instructions were sent to Crillon to continue the offensive. But the Spanish commander was in truth no less disheartened than the ministers of his government, and with the exception of daily attacks by gun- and mortar-boats, seconded by a warm fire from the isthmus, active operations completely ceased.

On February 2, 1783, the news of the signature of the preliminaries of a general peace reached the garrison by a flag of truce, and on March 12th the gates of the fortress, which had been closed for nearly four years, were once more thrown open.

The announcement of the peace was received with general joy throughout the garrison, and this feeling was most fully reciprocated by the disheartened and weary enemy. The two chiefs, who, since they had been opposed to each other as antagonists in a struggle which riveted the attention of all Europe, had learned to regret that they were foes, now met with the cordial embrace of friendship, and no opportunity was lost which could tend to obliterate the remembrances of former rivalry. Friendly meetings were interchanged between them, and all memory of previous antagonism was buried in oblivion.

Being introduced to the officers of the Royal Artillery, through whose courage and ability his brightest hopes of victory had been destroyed, Crillon met them with praises of their noble conduct, and remarked that "he would rather see them there as friends than on their batteries as enemies, where," he added, "they never spared me."

One day when inspecting the immense lines of fortification on the northern face of the Rock, all of which had been constructed during the progress of the siege, lost in astonishment at the magnitude of the works, he exclaimed, "This is indeed worthy of the Romans!"

Early in April, the Spanish camp having commenced to[Pg 136] break up, and the lines on the isthmus having been dismantled, the Duc de Crillon handed over his command to the Marquis de Saya, and returned to Madrid.

Thus after a duration of three years seven months and twelve days ended this memorable siege; a siege which, in the words of Lord North, "was one of those astonishing instances of British valor, discipline, military skill, and humanity that no other age or country could produce an example of." At length the devoted garrison was relieved from a situation of suffering, peril, and privation almost unparalleled in the annals of war.

[Pg 137]


a.d. 1782


Concerning the momentous consequences of the American Revolution, not only for America herself but for the whole world, history has raised no question of doubt. Regarding its causes and its justification there has been substantial agreement of both learned and popular opinion in all progressive countries. But various and often contradictory are the judgments pronounced upon the course and conduct of the war itself, even among American writers.

Until recently it has been impossible that either in the United States or Great Britain a wholly dispassionate view of the War of Independence should be shared by both critical students and general readers. In America it has been the fashion to glorify indiscriminately the actors on the colonial side and all their achievements. The provincial note of national heroics has been transmitted from one generation to another, and the breath of the school children has been carefully laden with it from tenderest years. On the English side, the quite natural early resentment against the lost colonies—mainly confined to official circles and hereditary interests—may be said to have been later softened into "a certain condescension," such as Lowell pointed out in foreigners generally toward America.

But that condescension, like the earlier acrimony, is a thing of the past. Here, as elsewhere, history is being rewritten. American self-glorification, as well as wounded English pride, gives way to better teachings, and the larger lessons of humanity, which is more than nationality, are giving to all nations clearer visions of a federated world.

The growth of this new historic sense, informed with clearer knowledge and a more discriminating love of justice, is well illustrated in the following critical examination, wherein Ludlow, a living English historian, carefully considers the various factors at work in the Revolution, and the personal forces through which its results were produced. Prefixed to this is the official statement of the American peace commissioners—John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and Henry Laurens—to Robert R. Livingston, then superintendent of foreign affairs, of the conditions of the preliminary treaty, which ended the war in 1782. This was followed by the definitive Treaty of Paris, September 3, 1783.

[Pg 138]


Paris, 14 December, 1782.

We have the honor to congratulate Congress on the signature of the preliminaries of a peace between the Crown of Great Britain and the United States of America, to be inserted in a definitive treaty so soon as the terms between the crowns of France and Great Britain shall be agreed on. A copy of the articles is here enclosed, and we cannot but flatter ourselves that they will appear to Congress, as they do to all of us, to be consistent with the honor and interest of the United States, and we are persuaded Congress would be more fully of that opinion if they were apprised of all the circumstances and reasons which have influenced the negotiation. Although it is impossible for us to go into that detail, we think it necessary, nevertheless, to make a few remarks on such of the articles as appear most to require elucidation.

Remarks on Article 2d, relative to Boundaries

The Court of Great Britain insisted on retaining all the territories comprehended within the Province of Quebec, by the act of Parliament respecting it. They contended that Nova Scotia should extend to the river Kennebec; and they claimed not only all the lands in the Western country and on the Mississippi, which were not expressly included in our charters and governments, but also such lands within them as remained ungranted by the King of Great Britain. It would be endless to enumerate all the discussions and arguments on the subject.

We knew this Court and Spain to be against our claims to the Western country, and, having no reason to think that lines more favorable could ever have been obtained, we finally agreed to those described in this article; indeed, they appear to leave us little to complain of and not much to desire. Congress will observe that, although our northern line is in a certain part below the latitude of 45°, yet in others it extends above it, divides the Lake Superior, and gives us access to its western and southern waters, from which a line in that latitude would have excluded us.

Remarks on Article 4th, respecting Creditors

We had been informed that some of the States had confiscated British debts; but although each State has a right to bind its own[Pg 139] citizens, yet, in our opinion, it appertains solely to Congress, in whom exclusively are vested the rights of making war and peace, to pass acts against the subjects of a power with which the Confederacy may be at war. It therefore only remained for us to consider whether this article is founded in justice and good policy.

In our opinion no acts of government could dissolve the obligations of good faith resulting from lawful contracts between individuals of the two countries prior to the war. We knew that some of the British creditors were making common cause with the refugees and other adversaries of our independence; besides, sacrificing private justice to reasons of state and political convenience is always an odious measure; and the purity of our reputation in this respect, in all foreign commercial countries, is of infinitely more importance to us than all the sums in question. It may also be remarked that American and British creditors are placed on an equal footing.

Remarks on Articles 5th and 6th, respecting Refugees

These articles were among the first discussed and the last agreed to. And had not the conclusion of this business at the time of its date been particularly important to the British administration, the respect, which both in London and Versailles is supposed to be due to the honor, dignity, and interest of royalty, would probably have forever prevented our bringing this article so near to the views of Congress and the sovereign rights of the States as it now stands. When it is considered that it was utterly impossible to render this article perfectly consistent, both with American and British ideas of honor, we presume that the middle line adopted by this article is as little unfavorable to the former as any that could in reason be expected.

As to the separate article, we beg leave to observe that it was our policy to render the navigation of the river Mississippi so important to Britain as that their views might correspond with ours on that subject. Their possessing the country on the river north of the line from the Lake of the Woods affords a foundation for their claiming such navigation. And as the importance of West Florida to Britain was for the same reason rather to be strengthened than otherwise, we thought it advisable to allow them the[Pg 140] extent contained in the separate article, especially as before the war it had been annexed by Britain to West Florida, and would operate as an additional inducement to their joining with us in agreeing that the navigation of the river should forever remain open to both. The map used in the course of our negotiations was Mitchell's.

As we had reason to imagine that the articles respecting the boundaries, the refugees, and fisheries did not correspond with the policy of this court, we did not communicate the preliminaries to the minister until after they were signed (and not even then the separate article). We hope that these considerations will excuse our having so far deviated from the spirit of our instructions. The Count de Vergennes, on perusing the articles, appeared surprised (but not displeased) at their being so favorable to us.

We beg leave to add our advice that copies be sent us of the accounts directed to be taken by the different States, of the unnecessary devastations and sufferings sustained by them from the enemy in the course of the war. Should they arrive before the signature of the definitive treaty, they might possibly answer very good purposes.


Paradoxical as it may seem, two things must equally surprise the reader on studying the history of the war of American Independence—the first, that England should ever have considered it possible to succeed in subduing her revolted colonies; the second, that she should not have succeeded in doing so. At a time when steam had not yet baffled the winds, to dream of conquering by force of arms on the other side of the Atlantic a people of English race numbering between three millions and four millions with something like twelve hundred miles of seaboard, was surely an act of enormous folly. Horace Walpole had wittily said, at the very commencement of the so-called rebellion, that "if computed by the tract of the country it occupies, we, as so diminutive in comparison, ought rather be called in rebellion to that."

We have seen in our own days the difficulties experienced by the far more powerful and populous Northern States in quelling the secession of the Southern, when between the two there was no other frontier than at most a river, very often a mere ideal line,[Pg 141] and when armies could be raised by a hundred thousand men at a time. England attempted a far more difficult task with forces which, till 1781, never reached 35,000 men, and never exceeded 42,075, including "provincials," i.e., American loyalists.

Yet it is impossible to doubt that, not once only, but repeatedly during the course of the struggle, England was on the verge of triumph. The American armies were perpetually melting away before the enemy directly through the practice of short enlistments, and indirectly through desertions. These desertions, if they might be often palliated by the straits to which the men were reduced through arrears in pay and want of supplies, arose in other cases, as after the retreat from New York, from sheer loss of heart in the cause. The main army under Washington was seldom even equal in number to that opposed to him. In the winter of 1776-1777, when his troops were only about four thousand strong, it is difficult to understand how it was that Sir William Howe, with more than double the number, should have failed to annihilate the American army.

In the winter of 1777-1778 the "dreadful situation of the army for want of provisions" made Washington "admire" that they should not have been excited to a general mutiny and desertion. In May, 1779, he hardly knew any resource for the American cause except in reënforcements from France, and did not know what might be the consequence if the enemy had it in his power to press the troops hard in the ensuing campaign. In December of that year his forces were "mouldering away daily," and he considered that Sir Henry Clinton, with more than twice his numbers, could "not justify remaining inactive with a force so superior." A year later he was compelled for want of clothing to discharge levies which he had so much trouble in obtaining, and "want of flour would have disbanded the whole army" if he had not adopted this expedient. In March, 1781, again, the crisis was "perilous," and, though he did not doubt the happy issue of the contest, he considered that the period for its accomplishment might be too far distant for a person of his years.

In April he wrote: "We cannot transport the provisions from the States in which they are assessed to the army, because we cannot pay the teamsters, who will no longer work for certificates. It is equally certain that our troops are approaching fast to nakedness,[Pg 142] and that we have nothing to clothe them with; that our hospitals are without medicines, and our sick without nutriment except such as well men eat; and that our public works are at a stand and the artificers disbanding. It may be declared in a word that we are at the end of our tether, and that now or never our deliverance must come." Six months later, when Yorktown capitulated, the British forces still remaining in North America after the surrender of that garrison were more considerable than they had been as late as February, 1779; and Sir Henry Clinton even then declared that with a reënforcement of ten thousand men he would be responsible for the conquest of America.

How shall we explain either puzzle—that England should have so nearly missed success, to fail at last? or that America should have succeeded, after having been almost constantly on the brink of failure?

The main hope of success on the English side lay in the idea that the spirit and acts of resistance to the authority of the mother-country were in reality only on the part of a turbulent minority; that the bulk of the people desired to be loyal. It is certain indeed that the struggle was, in America itself, much more of a civil war than the Americans are now generally disposed to admit. In December, 1780, there were eight thousand nine hundred fifty-four provincials among the British forces in America, and on March 7, 1781, a letter from Lord George Germain to Sir H. Clinton, intercepted by the Americans, says, "The American levies in the King's service are more in number than the whole of the enlisted troops in the service of Congress."

As late as September 1, 1781, there were seven thousand two hundred forty-one. We hear of "loyal associates" in Massachusetts, Maryland, and Pennsylvania, of "associated loyalists" in New York, of a fort built and maintained by "associated refugees," and everywhere of "Tories," whose arrest Washington is found suggesting to Governor Trumbull, of Connecticut, as early as November 12, 1775. New England may indeed be considered to have been cleared of active opposition to the American cause when more than one thousand refugees left Boston in March, 1776, with the British troops. But New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania remained long full of Tories. By June 28, 1776, the disaffected on Long Island had taken up arms, and after the[Pg 143] evacuation of New York by Washington a brigade of loyalists was raised on the island, and companies were formed in two neighboring counties to join the King's troops.

During Washington's retreat through New Jersey "the inhabitants, either from fear or disaffection, almost to a man refused to turn out." In Pennsylvania the militia, instead of giving any assistance in repelling the British, exulted at their approach, and over the misfortunes of their countrymen. On the 20th of that month the British were "daily gathering strength from the disaffected." In 1777 the Tories who joined Burgoyne in his invasion from the north are said to have doubled his force. In 1778 Tories joined the Indians in the devastation of Wyoming and Cherry Valley; and although the indiscriminate ravages of the British, or of the Germans in their pay, seem to have roused the three States above mentioned to self-defence, yet, as late as May, 1780, Washington still speaks of sending a small party of cavalry to escort Lafayette "safely through the Tory settlements" of New York. Virginia, as late as the spring of 1776, was "alarmed at the idea of independence."

Washington admitted that his countrymen—of that State—"from their form of government, and steady attachment heretofore to royalty," would "come reluctantly" to that idea, but trusted to "time and persecution." In 1781 the ground for transferring the seat of war to the Chesapeake was the number of loyalists in that quarter. In the Southern States the division of feeling was still greater. In the Carolinas, a Loyalist regiment was raised in a few days in 1776, and again in 1779. In Georgia, in South Carolina, the bitterest partisan warfare was carried on between the Whig and Tory bands; and a body of New York Tories contributed powerfully to the fall of Savannah in 1778 by taking the American forces in the rear.

On the other hand it is unquestionable that in the extent and quality of the support which they met with, the British generals were cruelly disappointed. Up to May, 1778, General Howe had declared that in thirteen corps raised, with a nominal strength of six thousand five hundred men, the whole number amounted only to three thousand six hundred nine, of whom only a small proportion were Americans, and that "all the force that could be collected in Pennsylvania, after the most indefatigable exertions[Pg 144] during eight months," was only nine hundred seventy-four men. Of the far more numerous loyalist levies in the South, Lord Cornwallis speaks in the most disparaging terms. A whole regiment in South Carolina marched off on one occasion in a body. Speaking of the friends to the British cause in North Carolina he wrote, "If they are as dastardly and pusillanimous as our friends to the southward, we must leave them to their fate." At the time of the battle of Guilford Court House (1781) the idea of such friends "rising in any number and to any purpose had totally failed." No "provincial" general ever rose to eminence on the British side, although more than one was appointed, and it is clear that if the struggle was so long protracted it was not through the valor or constancy of the loyalists.

The real causes of its protraction—though it may be hard to an American to admit the fact—lay in the incapacity of American politicians, and, it must be added, in the supineness and want of patriotism of the American people. If, indeed, importing into the struggle views of a later date, we look upon it as one between two nations, the mismanagement of the war by the Americans, on all points save one—the retention of Washington in the chief command—is seen to have been so pitiable from first to last as to be in fact almost unintelligible. We only understand the case when we see that there was no such thing as an American nation in existence, but only a number of revolted colonies, jealous of one another, and with no tie but that of a common danger.

Even in the army, divisions broke out. Washington, in a general order of August 1, 1776, says: "It is with great concern that the general understands that jealousies have arisen among the troops from the different provinces, and reflections are frequently thrown out which can only tend to irritate each other and injure the noble cause in which we are engaged." It was seldom that much help could be obtained in troops from any State, unless that State were immediately threatened by the enemy; and even then these troops would be raised by that State for its own defence, irrespectively of the general or "Continental Army."

"Those at a distance from the seat of War," wrote Washington in April, 1778, "live in such perfect tranquillity that they conceive the dispute to be in a manner at an end; and those near it are so disaffected that they serve only as embarrassments." In January,[Pg 145] 1779, we find him remonstrating with the Governor of Rhode Island because that State had "ordered several battalions to be raised for the defence of the State only, and this before proper measures were taken to fill the Continental regiments." The different bounties and rates of pay allowed by the various States were a constant source of annoyance to him. After the first year, the best men were not returned to Congress, or did not return to it. Whole States remained frequently unrepresented. In the winter of 1777-1778 Congress was reduced to twenty-one members. But even with a full representation it could do little. "One State will comply with a requisition of Congress," writes Washington in 1780, "another neglects to do it, a third executes it by halves, and all differ either in the manner, the matter, or so much in point of time that we are always working up-hill." At first Congress was really nothing more than a voluntary committee. When the Confederation was completed—which was only, be it remembered, on March 1, 1781—it was still, as Washington wrote in 1785, "little more than a shadow without the substance, and the Congress a nugatory body"; or, as it was described by a later writer, "powerless for government, and a rope of sand for union."

Like politicians, like people. There was no doubt a brilliant display of patriotic ardor at the first flying to arms of the colonists. Lexington and Bunker Hill were actions decidedly creditable to their raw troops. The expedition to Canada, foolhardy though it proved, was pursued up to a certain point with real heroism. But with it the heroic period of the war—individual instances excepted—may be said to have closed. There seems little reason to doubt that the Revolution would never have been commenced if it had been expected to cost so tough a struggle. "A false estimate of the power and perseverance of our enemies," wrote James Duane to Washington, "was friendly to the present revolution, and inspired that confidence of success in all ranks of people which was necessary to unite them in so arduous a cause."

As early as November, 1775, Washington wrote, speaking of military arrangements, "Such a dearth of public spirit, and such want of virtue, such stock-jobbing and fertility in all the low arts to obtain advantages of one kind or another, I never saw before, and pray God's mercy that I may never be witness to[Pg 146] again." Such "a mercenary spirit" pervaded the whole of the troops, that he should not have been "at all surprised at any disaster."

At the same date, besides desertions of thirty or forty soldiers at a time, he speaks of the practice of plundering as so rife that "no man is secure in his effects, and scarcely in his person." People "were frightened out of their houses under pretence of those houses being ordered to be burnt, with a view of seizing the goods"; and to conceal the villainy more effectually some houses were actually burnt down. On February 28, 1777, "the scandalous loss, waste, and private appropriation of public arms during the last campaign" had been "beyond all conception." Officers drew "large sums under pretence of paying their men," and appropriated them. In one case an officer led his men to robbery, offered resistance to a brigade-major who ordered him to return the goods, and was only with difficulty cashiered.

"Can we carry on the war much longer?" Washington asks in 1778—after the treaty with France and the appearance of a French fleet off the coast. "Certainly not, unless some measures can be devised and speedily executed to restore the credit of our currency, restrain extortion, and punish forestallers." A few days later, "To make and extort money in every shape that can be devised, and at the same time to decry its value, seem to have become a mere business and an epidemical disease." On December 30, 1778, "speculation, peculation, and an insatiable thirst for riches seem to have got the better of every other consideration, and almost of every order of men; party disputes and personal quarrels are the great business of the day; whilst the momentous concerns of an empire, a great and accumulating debt, ruined finances, depreciated money, and want of credit, which in its consequences is the want of everything, are but secondary considerations."

After a first loan had been obtained from France and spent, a further one was granted in 1782. So utterly unpatriotic and selfish was known to be the temper of the people that the loan had to be kept secret, in order not to diminish such efforts as might be made by the Americans themselves. On July 10th, of that year, with New York and Charlestown still in British hands, Washington[Pg 147] writes: "That spirit of freedom which at the commencement of this contest would have gladly sacrificed everything to the attainment of its object, has long since subsided, and every selfish passion has taken its place." But indeed the mere fact that from the date of the battle of Monmouth (July 28, 1778), Washington was never supplied with sufficient means, even with the assistance of the French fleets and troops, to strike one blow at the English in New York—though these were but sparingly reënforced during the period—shows an absence of public spirit, one might almost say of national shame, scarcely conceivable, and in singular contrast with the terrible earnestness exhibited on both sides some eighty years later in the Secession War.

Why, then, must we ask on the other side, did England fail at last? The English were prone to attribute their ill-success to the incompetency of their generals. Lord North, with his quaint humor, would say, "I do not know whether our generals will frighten the enemy, but I know they frighten me whenever I think of them." When in 1778, Lord Carlisle came out as commissioner, in a letter speaking of the great scale of all things in America, he says: "We have nothing on a great scale with us but our blunders, our misconduct, our ruin, our losses, our disgraces and misfortunes." Pitt, in a speech of 1781, aptly described the war as having been, on the part of England, "a series of ineffective victories or severe defeats." No doubt it is difficult to account for Gage's early blunders; for Howe's repeated failure to follow up his own success or profit by his enemy's weakness; and Cornwallis' movement, justly censured by Sir Henry Clinton, in transferring the bulk of his army from the far south to Virginia, within marching distance of Washington, opened the way to that crowning disaster at Yorktown, without which it is by no means impossible that Georgia and the Carolinas might have remained British.

But no allowance for bad generalship can account for the failure of the British. Washington and Greene appear to have been the only two American generals of marked ability, though they unquestionably derived great advantage from the talents of their foreign allies, Lafayette, Pulaski, Steuben, Rochambeau—and Washington was more than once out-manœuvred. Gates evidently owed his one signal triumph to enormous superiority[Pg 148] of numbers on his own ground, and was as signally defeated, under circumstances infinitely less creditable to him than those of Burgoyne's surrender. Lee's vaunted abilities came to nothing.

Political incapacity was of course charged upon ministers as another cause of disaster; and no doubt their miscalculation of the severity of the struggle was almost childish. When Parliament met in the autumn of 1776—i.e., after the Declaration of Independence had gone forth to the world—it was held out in the King's speech that another campaign would be sufficient to end the war, while in spite of all the warnings of the Opposition, they persisted in blinding themselves to the force of the temptations which must inevitably bring down France, if not Spain, into the lists against them, until the treaties of these powers with America were actually concluded. The forces sent out were miserably inadequate for a war on so large a scale—"too many to make peace, too few to make war," as Lord Chatham told the Ministry. When for once a really considerable force was sent out under Burgoyne, it failed for want of timely coöperation by Howe, and this failure is stated, by Lord Shelburne, to have arisen from Lord George Germain's not having had patience to wait after signing the despatch to Burgoyne, till that to Howe had been fair-copied; so that instead of going out together, the second, owing to further mischances, did not leave till some time later. The English generals complained almost as bitterly as the American of the want of adequate reënforcements, and the best of them, Sir Henry Clinton, is found writing (1779) in a strain which might be mistaken for Washington's of his spirits being "worn out" by the difficulties of his position.

But no mistakes in the management of the war by British statesmen can account for their ultimate failure. However great British mismanagement may have been, it was far surpassed by American. Until Robert Morris took the finances in hand, the administration of them was beneath not only contempt but conception. There was nothing on the British side equal to that caricature of a recruiting system, in which different bounties were offered by Congress, by the States, by the separate towns, as to make it the interest of the intending soldier to delay enlistment as long as possible in order to sell himself to the highest bidder;[Pg 149] to that caricature of a war establishment the main bulk of which broke up every twelvemonth in front of the enemy, which was only paid, if at all, in worthless paper, and left almost habitually without supplies.

To mention one fact only, commissions in British regiments on American soil continued to be sold for large sums, while Washington's officers were daily throwing up theirs, many from sheer starvation. On the whole, no better idea can be had of the nature of the struggle on the American side, after the first heat of it had cooled down, than from the words of Count de Rochambeau, writing to Count de Vergennes, July 10, 1780: "They have neither money nor credit; their means of resistance are only momentary, and called forth when they are attacked in their own homes. They then assemble for the moment of immediate danger and defend themselves."

A far more important cause in determining the ultimate failure of the British was the aid afforded by France to America, followed by that of Spain and Holland. It was impossible for England to reconquer a continent, and carry on war at the same time with the three most powerful states of Europe. The instincts of race have tended on both the English and the American sides to depreciate the value of the aid given by France to the colonists. It may be true that Rochambeau's troops which disembarked in Rhode Island in July, 1780, did not march till July, 1781,—that they were blockaded soon after their arrival, threatened with attack from New York, and only disengaged by a feint of Washington's on that city. But more than two years before their arrival, Washington wrote to a member of Congress, "France, by her supplies, has saved us from the yoke thus far." The treaty with France alone was considered to afford a "certain prospect of success"—to "secure" American independence.

The arrival of D'Estaing's fleet, although no troops joined the American army, and nothing eventually was done, determined the evacuation of Philadelphia. The discipline of the French troops when they landed in 1780 set an example to the Americans; chickens and pigs walked between the lines without being disturbed. The recruits of 1780 could not have been armed without fifty tons of ammunition supplied by the French. In September of that year, Washington, writing to the French envoy,[Pg 150] speaks of the "inability" of the Americans to expel the British from the South "unassisted, or perhaps even to stop their career," and he writes in similar terms to Congress a few days later. To depend "upon the resources of the country, unassisted by foreign loans," he writes to a member of Congress two months later, "will, I am confident, be to lean upon a broken reed."

In January, 1781, writing to Colonel Laurens, the American envoy in Paris, he presses for "an immediate, ample, and efficacious succor in money" from France, for the maintenance of the American coasts of "a constant naval superiority," and for "an additional succor in troops." And since the assistance so requested was in fact granted in every shape, and the surrender of Yorktown was obtained by the coöperation both of the French army and fleet, we must hold that Washington's words were justified by the event.

The real cause, however, why England yielded in 1782-1783 to her revolted colonies was probably this: The English nation at large had never realized the nature of the struggle; when it did, it refused to carry it on. Enormous ignorance no doubt prevailed at the beginning of the struggle as to the North American colonies. They had been till then entirely overshadowed by the West Indies, which were perhaps at that time the greatest source of English commercial wealth; and the time was not far past when, it is said, they were supposed, like the latter, to be chiefly inhabited by negroes. The prominence of the slave colonies seems to have associated the idea of colonies with that of absolute government. Englishmen did not generally realize the existence in North America of vast countries inhabited by communities of their own race, which enjoyed in general a larger measure of self-government than the mother-country herself. That a colony should resist the mother-country seemed in a manner preposterous. It appears certain, therefore, that when the war at first broke out it was popular, and that the King and Lord North, as has been already stated, were themselves amazed at the loyal addresses which it called forth.

But the early resort to the aid of German mercenaries showed that this popularity was only skin-deep—that the heart of the masses was not engaged in the war. The very employment of these mercenaries, as well as of the Indian auxiliaries of the royal[Pg 151] forces, tended to lower the character of the war in English eyes. When Chatham, in his scathing invectives, would speak of the Ministers' "traffic and barter with every little pitiful German prince that sells and sends his subjects to the shambles," or of their sending "the infidel savage—against whom? against your Protestant brethren, to lay waste their country, to desolate their dwellings, and extirpate their race and name," he might not carry with him the votes of the House of Lords, but his words would burn their way into English hearts.

That the war with the American colonies themselves was repugnant to the deepest feelings of the nation is proved by contrast through the sudden burst of warlike spirit which followed (1778-1779) on the outbreak of war with France and Spain. A few days before the French treaty with America was known, Horace Walpole had written to Mason that the new levies "don't come, consequently they will not go." By July of the same year he writes to Sir Horace Mann, "The country is covered with camps." In 1776 the King had reviewed the Guards on Wimbledon Common, and pulled off his hat to them before their departure for America. He had now (1779) to review volunteers. The passionate interest which is henceforth taken in so much of the struggle as is carried on with foreign foes, Keppel's scarcely deserved popularity, the riotous popular joy on his acquittal, the outburst of universal rejoicing over Rodney's victories, show a totally different temper to that brought out by either victory or defeat in what was now felt to be a dread civil war with our American kinsmen.

Hence it was, no doubt, that after the surrender of Yorktown, hostilities were practically at an end with America, while the naval warfare with France and Spain was carried on for another twelvemonth, and that the signing of provisional articles of peace with the United States preceded by two months that of similar articles with France and Spain, the armistice with Holland being of still later date. It may even be conjectured that the outbreak of war with France and Spain, instead of incensing the mind of the English people against the Americans, rather gave different objects to their angry passions, and tended to diminish their bitterness toward the colonists. It must have been a kind of relief to Englishmen to find themselves fighting once more against those[Pg 152] whom they considered hereditary enemies, against men who did not speak their own mother-tongue; and the wholly unprovoked character of these foreign hostilities would soften men's feelings toward the stubbornness of those colonists of their own blood, who after all asked only to be left alone. It is moreover observable that when peace came, though it upset the Shelburne ministry, yet that of the coalition which succeeded it was most unpopular, and addresses came pouring in from counties and towns to thank the King for making the peace.

Substantially indeed—although colonial independence would no doubt have been achieved sooner or later—the more we look into the events of the war of 1775-1783, the more, perhaps, shall we be convinced that it resolves itself into a duel between two men who never saw each other in the flesh, Washington and George III.

Take Washington out of the history on the American side, and it is impossible to conceive of American success. It is barely possible that under Greene—the one general after Washington's own heart, who wrote to him from his command in the South, "We fight, get beaten, and fight again"—the army itself might have been commanded with an ability which would enable it to withstand its British opponents. But neither Greene nor any other general possessed that weight of personal character which fixed the trust of Congress and people on Washington, maintained him in authority through all reverses, and enabled him to criticise with such unflinching frankness the measures of Congress.

Take, on the other hand, George III out of the history on the British side, and it is beyond question that if the war had ever broken out, it would have been put a stop to long before its ultimate failure. In him alone is to be found the real centre of resistance to American independence. It is now well known that at least from the beginning of 1778, if not from the end of 1775, Lord North was anxious to resign, and desirous of conciliation, and that it was only through the King's constant appeals to his sense of honor, not to "desert" him, that the minister was prevailed upon to remain in office. "Till I see things change to a more favorable position," the King wrote to Lord North as late as May 19, 1780, "I shall not feel at liberty to grant your resignation";[Pg 153] and it was only on March 20, 1781, that Lord North at last compelled his master to accept it. Three ideas were fixed in the King's mind, the first of which was a delusion, the second a mistake, and the third contrary to all principles of constitutional government.

First, he had persuaded himself that the country was radically opposed to American independence. In January, 1778, he opposes conciliatory measures, "lest they should dissatisfy this country, which so cheerfully and handsomely carries on the contest." In the autumn of that year he is certain that "if ministers show that they never will consent to the independence of America, the cry will be strong in their favor." Two years later he "can never suppose this country so far lost to all ideas of self-importance as to be willing to grant American independence."

Secondly, he was convinced—and this conviction, it must be admitted, was shared by some of the strongest opponents of the war—that if the independence of the North American colonies were acknowledged, all the others, as well as Ireland, would be lost. If any one branch of the empire is allowed to throw off its dependency, the others will inevitably follow the example. "Should America succeed, the West Indies must follow, not in independence, but dependence on America. Ireland would soon follow, and this island reduce itself to a poor island indeed."

Thirdly, he would not allow the Opposition to rule. "He would run any personal risk rather than submit to the Opposition; rather than be shackled by these desperate men he would lose his crown." If he authorizes the attempt at a coalition (1779), it is "provided it be understood that every means are to be employed to keep the empire entire, to prosecute the present just and unprovoked war in all its branches with the utmost vigor, and that his majesty's past measures be treated with proper respect," i.e., provided the Opposition are ready to stultify themselves, and do all that the King thinks right, and admit that all for which they have contended is wrong. Before the spectacle of such narrow obstinacy it is difficult not to sympathize with an expression of Fox in one of his letters—"it is intolerable to think that it should be in the power of one blockhead to do so much mischief."

Between these two men—it may be conceded, equally sincere,[Pg 154] equally resolute—but the one reasoning, like the madman that he was to be, from false premises, self-deluded as to the feelings of his people, anticipating consequences which a century sees yet unrealized and the other with eyes at all times almost morbidly open to all the gloomier features of this cause, void of all self-delusion—the one conceiving himself justified in imposing dictates of his own self-will on every minister whom he might employ, entitled alike to chain an unwilling friend to office, and to shut the door of office to opponents except on terms of surrendering all their principles; the other always ready to accept the inevitable, to make the most use of the least means, to curb himself for the sake of his cause in all things except fearless plain-speaking—the one, finally resolved only to hinder the making of a nation; the other resolved to make one, if anyhow possible—the issue of the contest could not be doubtful, if both lives were prolonged. From that contest the one emerged as the mad king who threw away half a continent from England; the other as the father of the American nation.

The common consent of mankind has ranked Washington among its great men; and although the title may have been fully justified by the course of his civil life, whether in or out of office, after the termination of the War of Independence, it is hardly to be doubted that it would freely have been accorded to him had his career been cut short immediately after the resignation of his military command. Yet of those who have enjoyed the title, few, if any, have ever earned it by actions of less brilliancy. The fame of no conspicuous victory is bound up with Washington's name. His one dashing exploit was the surprise of Trenton. His one victory, that of Monmouth, had no results; his most considerable battle, that of Brandywine, was a severe defeat. His greatness as a general consisted in doing much with little means, never missing an opportunity, rising superior to every disaster. When he had recovered Boston he could say, "I have been here months together with not thirty rounds of musket cartridges to a man, and have been obliged to submit to all insults of the enemy's cannon for want of powder, keeping what little we had for pistol-distance. We have maintained our ground against the enemy under this want of powder, and we have disbanded one army and recruited another, within musket-shot of two-and-twenty[Pg 155] regiments, the flower of the British Army, while our force has been but little if any superior to theirs, and at last have beaten them into a shameful and precipitate retreat out of a place the strongest by nature on this continent, and strengthened and fortified at an enormous expense."

The character of Washington as a commander recalls in various respects that of Wellington. In both we see the same dogged perseverance under all the various phases of fortune; the same strict discipline, hardening readily into sternness, coupled with the same careful consideration for the wants and welfare of the soldier; the same patient, constant attention to every detail of military organization; the same ability in maintaining a defensive warfare against an enemy superior in force, with the same quickness to strike a blow in any unguarded quarter; the same unflinching frankness in exposing the evils of the military administration of the day. Many of Wellington's despatches from the Peninsula might almost have been written by Washington. The difference between them, while the war lasts, is mainly this: that in Wellington the soldier is all, while in Washington the statesman and the patriot are never merged in the soldier. Hence, while in after-life Wellington had to serve his apprenticeship as a statesman after ceasing to be a soldier, and often bungled over his new craft, Washington's after-life was simply that of a statesman who had been called to take up arms and had laid them down again.

In short, though England had never a more successful foe than Washington, it is impossible not to feel, in studying his character, that no more typical Englishman ever lived.

Let us now cast a final glance at the state of the world at the close of the war. Except that an independent state had grown up for the first time since the downfall of Aztec and Inca empires on the American continent, and that England had been politically lessened, the balance of power had been little affected by the war. France had one West Indian island more, Holland one Indian settlement less. Spain had recovered Minorca and the Floridas. But she was irrevocably shut out from one great object of her ambition, the eastern half of the Mississippi Basin.

[Pg 156]


a.d. 1783


In the American Revolutionary War there were many in the then new-born Republic who either refrained from participating or took the loyalist side in the conflict. These were called "United Empire Loyalists," for they clung to the unity of the empire and refused to ally themselves with their fellow-colonists in revolt. When the war was over, those who took up arms on the loyal side found themselves in a hopeless minority, loaded with obloquy, and subjected to indignity at the hands of the victorious republicans. Rather than live under these humiliating conditions, some of the Loyalists returned to England; but most of them, preferring voluntary expatriation in Western wilds to living in a country that had become independent through rebellion, sought new homes for themselves in Acadia and Canada.

Their act was not lost upon the home Government, for the latter sent instructions to Canada to make provision for their reception and settlement, and for the mitigation, in some measure, of their trials and privations. This provision consisted of seed, farm implements, tools for building purposes, and food and clothing for a year or two after settling in the country. To make good in part their losses the British Government also voted about three millions sterling to be divided among the incoming settlers, and gave them munificent grants of land, chiefly in the western portion of the country, the then virgin Province of Upper Canada. There, as well as in desirable locations in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, streamed in the Loyalists and their families, to begin their sad experience of exile in the wilderness. By their coming, Western Canada—chiefly on the banks of the St. Lawrence, on the Bay of Quinte, in the Niagara district, and round the shores of Lake Ontario—received that contribution of brawn and muscle so essential to the carving out of a new province and the founding of a strong and enduring community.

It was during Governor Haldimand's administration that one of the most important events in the history of Canada occurred as a result of the American War of Independence. This event was the coming to the Provinces of many thousand people, known[Pg 157] as United Empire Loyalists, who, during the progress of the war, but chiefly at its close, left their old homes in the thirteen colonies. When the Treaty of 1783 was under consideration, the British representatives made an effort to obtain some practical consideration from the new nation for the claims of this unfortunate people who had been subject to so much loss and obloquy during the war. All that the English envoys could obtain was the insertion of a clause in the treaty to the effect that Congress would recommend to the legislatures of the several States measures of restitution—a provision which turned out, as Franklin intimated at the time, a perfect nullity. The English Government subsequently indemnified these people in a measure for their self-sacrifice, and among other things gave a large number of them valuable tracts of land in the Provinces of British North America. Many of them settled in Nova Scotia, others founded New Brunswick and Upper Canada, now Ontario. Their influence on the political fortunes of Canada has been necessarily very considerable. For years they and their children were animated by a feeling of bitter animosity against the United States, the effects of which could be traced in later times when questions of difference arose between England and her former colonies. They have proved with the French Canadians a barrier to the growth of any annexation party, and as powerful an influence in national and social life as the Puritan element itself in the Eastern and Western States.

Among the sad stories of the past the one which tells of the exile of the Loyalists from their homes, of their trials and struggles in the valley of the St. Lawrence, then a wilderness, demands our deepest sympathy. In the history of this continent it can be only compared with the melancholy chapter which relates the removal of the French population from their beloved Acadia. During the Revolution they comprised a very large, intelligent, and important body of people, in all the old colonies, especially in New York and at the South, where they were in the majority until the peace. They were generally known as Tories, while their opponents, who supported independence, were called Whigs. Neighbor was arrayed against neighbor, families were divided, the greatest cruelties were inflicted, as the war went on, upon men and women who believed it was their duty to be faithful to king and country.[Pg 158]

As soon as the contest was ended, their property was confiscated in several States. Many persons were banished and prohibited from returning to their homes. An American writer, Sabine, tells us that previous to the evacuation of New York, in September, 1783, "upward of twelve thousand men, women, and children embarked at the city, at Long and Staten islands, for Nova Scotia and the Bahamas." Very wrong impressions were held in those days of the climate and resources of the Provinces to which these people fled. Time was to prove that the lot of many of the Loyalists had actually fallen in pleasant places, in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Upper Canada; that the country where most of them settled was superior in many respects to the New England States, and equal to the State of New York, from which so many of them came.

It is estimated that between forty and fifty thousand people reached British North America by 1786. They commenced to leave their old homes soon after the breaking out of the war, but the great migration took place in 1783-1784. Many sought the shores of Nova Scotia, and founded the town of Shelburne, which at one time held a population of ten or twelve thousand souls, the majority of whom were entirely unsuited to the conditions of the rough country around them and soon sought homes elsewhere. Not a few settled in more favorable parts of Nova Scotia, and even in Cape Breton. Considerable numbers found rest in the beautiful valley of the St. John River, and founded the Province of New Brunswick. As many more laid the beginnings of Upper Canada, in the present county of Glengarry, in the neighborhood of Kingston and the Bay of Quinte, on the Niagara River, and near the French settlements on the Detroit. A few also settled in the country now known as the Eastern Townships of French Canada. A great proportion of the men were officers and soldiers of the regiments which were formed in several colonies out of the large loyal population.

Among them were also men who had occupied positions of influence and responsibility in their respective communities, divines, judges, officials, and landed proprietors, whose names were among the best in the old colonies, as they are certainly in Canada. Many among them gave up valuable estates which had been acquired by the energy of their ancestors. Unlike the[Pg 159] Puritans who founded New England, they did not take away with them their valuable property in the shape of money and securities or household goods. A rude log hut by the side of a river or lake, where poverty and wretchedness were their lot for months, and even years in some cases, was the refuge of thousands, all of whom had enjoyed every comfort in well-built houses, and not a few even luxury in stately mansions, some of which have withstood the ravages of time and can still be pointed out in New England. Many of the Loyalists were quite unfitted for the rude experiences of a pioneer life, and years passed before they and their children conquered the wilderness and made a livelihood. The British Government was extremely liberal in its grants of lands to this class of persons in all the Provinces.

The Government supplied these pioneers in the majority of cases with food, clothing, and necessary farming implements. For some years they suffered many privations; one was called "the year of famine," when hundreds in Upper Canada had to live on roots and even the buds of trees or anything that might sustain life. Fortunately some lived in favored localities, where pigeons and other birds, and fish of all kinds, were plentiful. In the summer and fall there were quantities of wild fruit and nuts. Maple sugar was a great luxury, when the people once learned to make it from the noble tree, whose symmetrical leaf may well be made the Canadian national emblem. It took the people a long while to accustom themselves to the conditions of their primitive pioneer life, but now the results of the labors of these early settlers and their descendants can be seen far and wide in smiling fields, richly laden orchards, and gardens of old-fashioned flowers throughout the country which they first made to blossom like the rose. The rivers and lakes were the only means of communication in those early times, roads were unknown, and the wayfarer could find his way through the illimitable forests only by the help of the "blazed" trees and the course of streams. Social intercourse was infrequent except in autumn and winter, when the young managed to assemble as they always will. Love and courtship went on even in this wilderness, though marriage was uncertain, as the visits of clergymen were very rare in many places, and magistrates could alone tie the nuptial knot—a very unsatisfactory performance to the cooler lovers who loved their[Pg 160] church, its ceremonies and traditions, as dearly as they loved their sovereign.

The story of those days of trial has not yet been adequately written; perhaps it never will be, for few of those pioneers have left records behind them. As we wander among the old burying-grounds of those founders of Western Canada and New Brunswick, and stand by the gray, moss-covered tablets, with names effaced by the ravages of years, the thought will come to us, what interesting stories could be told by those who are laid beneath the sod, of sorrows and struggles, of hearts sick with hope deferred, of expectations never realized, of memories of misfortune and disaster in another land where they bore so much for a stubborn and unwise king. Yet these grass-covered mounds are not simply memorials of suffering and privation; each could tell a story of fidelity to principle, of forgetfulness of self-interest, of devotion and self-sacrifice—the grandest story that human annals can tell—a story that should be ever held up to the admiration and emulation of the young men and women of the present times, who enjoy the fruits of the labors of those loyal pioneers.

Although no noble monument has yet been raised to the memory of these founders of new provinces—of English-speaking Canada; although the majority lie forgotten in old grave-yards where the grass has grown rank, and common flowers alone nod over their resting-places, yet the names of all are written in imperishable letters in Provincial annals. Those Loyalists, including the children of both sexes, who joined the cause of Great Britain before the Treaty of Peace in 1783, were allowed the distinction of having after their name the letters U. E. to preserve the memory of their fidelity to a United Empire. A Canadian of these modern days, who traces his descent from such a source, is as proud of his lineage as if he were a Derby or a Talbot of Malahide, or inheritor of other noble names famous in the annals of the English peerage.

The records of all the provinces show the great influence exercised on their material, political, and intellectual development by this devoted body of immigrants. For more than a century they and their descendants have been distinguished for the useful and important part they have taken in every matter deeply associated with the best interests of the country. In New[Pg 161] Brunswick we find among those who did good service in their day and generation the names of Wilmot, Allen, Robinson, Jarvis, Hazen, Burpee, Chandler, Tilley, Fisher, Bliss, Odell, Botsford; in Nova Scotia, Inglis (the first Anglican bishop in the colonies), Wentworth, Brenton, Blowers (Chief Justice), Cunard, Cutler, Howe, Creighton, Chipman, Marshall, Halliburton, Wilkins, Huntingdon, Jones; in Ontario, Cartwright, Robinson, Hagerman, Stuart (the first Anglican clergyman), Gamble, Van Alstine, Fisher, Grass, Butler, Macaulay, Wallbridge, Chrysler, Bethune, Merritt, McNab, Crawford, Kirby, Tisdale, and Ryerson. Among these names stand out prominently those of Wilmot, Howe, and Huntingdon, who were among the fathers of responsible government; those of Tilley, Tupper, Chandler, and Fisher, who were among the fathers of confederation; of Ryerson, who exercised a most important influence on the system of free education which Ontario now enjoys. Among the eminent descendants of U. E. Loyalists are Sir Charles Tupper, long a prominent figure in politics; Christopher Robinson, a distinguished lawyer, who was counsel for Canada at the Bering Sea arbitration; Sir Richard Cartwright, a liberal leader remarkable for his keen, incisive style of debate, and his knowledge of financial questions; Honorable George E. Foster, a former finance minister of Canada. We might extend the list indefinitely did space permit. In all walks of life we see the descendants of the Loyalists, exercising a decided influence over the fortunes of the Dominion.

Conspicuous among the people who remained faithful to England during the American Revolution was the famous Iroquois chief Joseph Brant, best known by his Mohawk name of Thayendanegea, who took part in the war, and was for many years wrongly accused of having participated in the massacre and destruction of Wyoming, that beauteous vale of the Susquehanna. It was he whom the poet Campbell would have consigned to eternal infamy in the verse

"The mammoth comes—the foe, the monster, Brandt—
With all his howling, desolating band;
These eyes have seen their blade and burning pine
Awake at once, and silence half your land.
Red is the cup they drink, but not with wine—
Awake and watch to-night, or see no morning shine."
[Pg 162]

Posterity has, however, recognized the fact that Joseph Brant was not present at this sad episode of the American War, and the poet in a note to a later edition admitted that the Indian chief in his poem was "a pure and declared character of fiction." He was a sincere friend of English interests, a man of large and statesmanlike views, who might have taken an important part in colonial affairs had he been educated in these later times. When the war was ended, he and his tribe moved into the valley of the St. Lawrence, and received from the Government fine reserves of land on the Bay of Quinte, and on the Grand River in the western part of the Province of Upper Canada, where the prosperous city and county of Brantford and the township of Tyendinaga—a corruption of Thayendanegea—illustrate the fame he has won in Canadian annals. The descendants of his nation live in comfortable homes, till fine farms in a beautiful section of Western Canada, and enjoy all the franchises of white men. It is an interesting fact that the first church built in Ontario was that of the Mohawks, who still preserve the communion service presented to the tribe in 1710 by Queen Anne of England.

General Haldimand's administration will always be noted in Canadian history for the coming of the Loyalists, and for the sympathetic interest he took in settling these people on the lands of Canada, and in alleviating their difficulties by all the means in the power of his government. In these and other matters of Canadian interest he proved conclusively that he was not the mere military martinet that some Canadian writers with inadequate information would make him. When he left Canada he was succeeded by Sir Guy Carleton, then elevated to the peerage as Lord Dorchester.


[30] From The Story of Canada (New York, 1896: G. P. Putnam's Sons), by permission.

[Pg 163]


a.d. 1783


Few problems of invention have ever engaged more students and experimenters than those which bear upon aërial navigation. The history of early experiments in this direction has a peculiar interest at present, in view of the numerous recent trials by aëronauts in different countries.

At the time of the first balloon ascension, described by Turnor, interest in the possibilities of aërostatics was very active and widespread, especially among the scientific mechanicians of Europe. Many experiments with "aërostatical globes" and the like had been made in Great Britain and on the Continent. Leonhard Euler, to whom Turnor refers, was a famous Swiss mathematician who had given much study to these things. He was in Russia, and about to die, when in France the first aërostat, or balloon, was sent up by the inventors, the brothers Joseph and Jacques Montgolfier, French mechanicians, who were made corresponding members of the Academy. This form of air-balloon—the first successful one—is known as the "Montgolfier."

A shout of joy rang through Europe, and reached the ear of the aged Euler, on the banks of the Neva, who, between attacks of vertigo, which were soon to carry him from this scene to a better, dictated to his sons the calculations he had made on aërostatical globes. It is said he ceased to calculate and live at the same instant.

The cause of so great enthusiasm had better be given in the accurate description that immediately circulated among the peoples:

"On Thursday, June 5, 1783, the States of Vivarais being assembled at Annonay (37 miles from Lyons), Messrs. Montgolfier invited them to see their new aërostatic experiment.

"Imagine the surprise of the Deputies and spectators on seeing in the public square a ball, 110 feet in circumference, attached at its base to a wooden frame of 16 feet surface. This enormous bag, with frame, weighed 300 lbs., and could contain 22,000 feet of vapor.[Pg 164]

"Imagine the general astonishment when the inventors announced that, as soon as it should be filled with gas—which they had a simple means of making—it would rise of itself to the clouds. One must here remark that, notwithstanding the general confidence in the knowledge and wisdom of Messrs. Montgolfier, such an experiment appeared so incredible to those who were present, that all doubted of its success.

"But Messrs. Montgolfier, taking it in hand, proceed to make the vapors, which gradually swell it out till it assumes a beautiful form.

"Strong arms are now required to retain it; at a given signal it is loosed, rises with rapidity, and in ten minutes attains a height of 6000 feet; it proceeds 7668 feet in a horizontal direction, and gently falls to the ground.

"Just as the Omnipotent, who turns
The system of a world's concerns,
From mere minutiæ can educe
Events of the most important use;
But who can tell how vast the plan,
Which this day's incident began?"

The effect of this letter in England was to cause a display of jealousy at which we might now blush, if we do not remember that the sagacious and convincing views of Adam Smith on political economy had only just been published and had not yet had time to circulate; for, though we were obliged to admit a discovery had been made in France, yet the periodicals argued that all the experiments that had led to it were made in England. Many were the caricatures which appeared.

In a discourse at the Academy of Lyons, Jacques Montgolfier says that a French copy of Priestley's Experiments relating to the Different Kinds of Air came in his way, and was to him like light in darkness; as from that moment he conceived the possibility of navigating the air, but, after some experiments in gas, he again tried smoke and hot air.

In Paris this intelligence caused a meeting of savants, who, by the advice of M. Faujas de Saint-Fond, started a public subscription for defraying the expense of making inflammable gas (hydrogen), the materials of which were expensive: one thousand pounds of iron filings and four hundred ninety-eight pounds of[Pg 165] sulphuric acid were consumed to fill a globular bag of varnished silk, which, for the first time, was designated a ballon, or balloon, as we call it, meaning a great ball.

The filling commenced on August 23d, in the Place des Victoires. Bulletins were published daily of its progress, but, as the crowd was found to be immense, it was moved on the night of the 26th to the Champ-de-Mars, a distance of two miles. It was done secretly and in the dark, to avoid a mob.

A description by an eye-witness is as follows: "No more wonderful scene could be imagined than the balloon being thus conveyed, preceded by lighted torches, surrounded by a cortēge, and escorted by a detachment of foot and horse-guards; the nocturnal march, the form and capacity of the body carried with so much precaution; the silence that reigned, the unseasonable hour, all tended to give a singularity and mystery truly imposing to all those who were unacquainted with the cause. The cab-drivers on the road were so astonished that they were impelled to stop their carriages, and to kneel humbly, hat in hand, while the procession was passing."

In the morning the Champ-de-Mars was lined with troops, every house to its very top, and every avenue, was crowded with anxious spectators. The discharge of a cannon at 5 p.m. was the signal for ascent, and the globe rose, to the great surprise of the spectators, to a height of three thousand one hundred twenty-three feet in two minutes, where it entered the clouds. The heavy rain which descended as it rose did not impede, and tended to increase, surprise. The idea that a body leaving the earth was travelling in space was so sublime, and appeared to differ so greatly from ordinary laws, that all the spectators were overwhelmed with enthusiasm. The satisfaction was so great that ladies in the greatest fashions allowed themselves to be drenched with rain, to avoid losing sight of the globe for an instant.

The balloon, after remaining in the atmosphere three-quarters of an hour, fell in a field near Gonesse, a village fifteen miles from the Champ-de-Mars. The descent was imputed to a tear in the silk.

The effect on the inhabitants of this village well illustrates that the human character with an unawakened intellect is the same in all countries and ages:[Pg 166]

"For on first sight it is supposed by many to have come from another world; many fly; others, more sensible, think it a monstrous bird. After it has alighted, there is yet motion in it from the gas it still contains. A small crowd gains courage from numbers, and for an hour approaches by gradual steps, hoping meanwhile the monster will take flight. At length one bolder than the rest takes his gun, stalks carefully to within shot, fires, witnesses the monster shrink, gives a shout of triumph, and the crowd rushes in with flails and pitchforks. One tears what he thinks to be the skin, and causes a poisonous stench; again all retire. Shame, no doubt, now urges them on, and they tie the cause of alarm to a horse's tail, who gallops across the country, tearing it to shreds."

A similar tale has lately been told me as having occurred in Persia, where a fire-balloon was let off by some French visitors to the Shah's palace at Teheran, when it alighted. No less than three shots were fired at it when on the ground, before anyone would venture nearer.

It is no wonder, then, that the paternal government of France deemed it necessary to publish the following "avertissement" to the public:


"Paris, August 27, 1783.

"The one in question has been raised in Paris this said day, August 27, 1783, at 5 p.m., in the Champ-de-Mars.

"A discovery has been made, which the Government deems it right to make known, so that alarm be not occasioned to the people.

"On calculating the different weights of inflammable and common air, it has been found that a balloon filled with inflammable air will rise toward heaven till it is in equilibrium with the surrounding air; which may not happen till it has attained a great height.

"The first experiment was made at Annonay, in Vivarais, by Messrs. Montgolfier, the inventors. A globe formed of canvas and paper, 105 feet in circumference, filled with inflammable air, reached an incalculated height.[Pg 167]

"The same experiment has just been renewed at Paris (August 27th, 5 p.m.), in presence of a great crowd. A globe of taffeta, covered with elastic gum, thirty-six feet in circumference, has risen from the Champ-de-Mars, and been lost to view in the clouds, being borne in a northeasterly direction; one cannot foresee where it will descend.

"It is proposed to repeat these experiments on a larger scale. Any one who shall see in the sky such a globe (which resembles the moon in shadow) should be aware that, far from being an alarming phenomenon, it is only a machine, made of taffeta or light canvas, covered with paper, that cannot possibly cause any harm, and which will some day prove serviceable to the wants of society.

"Read and approved, September 3, 1783.
"De Sauvigny.
"Permission for printing.Lenoir."

Balloons made of paper and goldbeater's-skin were now sent up by amateurs from all places which this intelligence reached; and in September another important step was made, an account of which, and of the ascents which followed during the next two years, I take from the quaint but graphic History of Aërostation, by Tiberius Cavallo.

Tiberius Cavallo was an electrician and natural philosopher, born at Naples, 1749. He came to England in 1771, where he devoted his time to science and literature till his death, in 1809.

On September 19, 1783, the King, Queen,[31] the court, and innumerable people of every rank and age assembled at Versailles, Jacques Montgolfier being present to explain every particular. About one o'clock the fire was lighted, in consequence of which the machine began to swell, acquired a convex form, soon stretched itself on every side, and in eleven minutes' time, the cords being cut, it ascended, together with a wicker cage, which was fastened to it by a rope. In this cage they had put a sheep, a cock, and a duck, which were the first animals that ever ascended into the atmosphere with an aërostatic machine. When the machine went up, its power of ascension or levity was six hundred ninety-six pounds, allowing for the cage and animals.

[Pg 168]

The machine raised itself to the height of about one thousand four hundred forty feet; and being carried by the wind, it fell gradually in the wood of Vaucresson, at the distance of ten thousand two hundred feet from Versailles, after remaining in the atmosphere only eight minutes. Two game-keepers, who were accidentally in the wood, saw the machine fall very gently, so that it just bent the branches of the trees upon which it alighted. The long rope to which the cage was fastened, striking against the wood, was broken, and the cage came to the ground without hurting in the least the animals that were in it, so that the sheep was even found feeding. The cock, indeed, had its right wing somewhat hurt; but this was the consequence of a kick it had received from the sheep, at least half an hour before, in presence of at least ten witnesses.

It has been sufficiently demonstrated by experiments that little or no danger is to be apprehended by a man who ascends with such an aërostatic machine. The steadiness of the aërostat while in the air, its gradual and gentle descent, the safety of the animals that were sent up with it in the last-mentioned experiment, and every other observation that could be deduced from all the experiments hitherto made in this new field of inquiry seem more than sufficient to expel any fear for such an enterprise; but as no man had yet ventured in it, and as most of the attempts at flying, or of ascending into the atmosphere, on the most plausible schemes, had from time immemorial destroyed the reputation or the lives of the adventurers, we may easily imagine and forgive the hesitation that men might express, of going up with one of those machines: and history will probably record, to the remotest posterity, the name of M. Pilâtre de Rozier, who had the courage of first venturing to ascend with a machine, which in a few years hence the most timid woman will perhaps not hesitate to trust herself to.

The King, aware of the difficulties, ordered that two men under sentence of death should be sent up; but Pilâtre de Rozier was indignant, saying, "Eh quoi! de vils criminels auraient les premiers la gloire de s'élever dans les airs! Non, non cela ne sera point!" ("What! Vile criminals to have the glory of the first aërial ascension! No, not on any account!") He stirs up the city in his behalf, and the King at length yields to the earnest entreaties[Pg 169] of the Marquis d'Arlandes, who said that he would accompany him.

Scarce ten months had elapsed since M. Montgolfier made his first aërostatic experiment, when M. Pilâtre de Rozier publicly offered himself to be the first adventurer in the newly invented aërial machine. His offer was accepted; his courage remained undaunted; and on October 15, 1783, he actually ascended, to the astonishment of a gazing multitude. The following are the particulars of this experiment:

"The accident which happened to the aërostatic machine at Versailles, and its imperfect construction, induced M. Montgolfier to construct another machine, of a larger size and more solid. With this intent, sufficient time was allowed for the work to be properly done; and by October 10th the aërostat was completed, in a garden in the Faubourg St.-Antoine. It had an oval shape; its diameter being about forty-eight feet, and its height about seventy-four. The outside was elegantly painted and decorated with the signs of the zodiac, with the cipher of the King's name in fleurs-de-lis, etc. The aperture or lower part of the machine had a wicker gallery about three feet broad, with a balustrade both within and without about three feet high. The inner diameter of this gallery, and of the aperture of the machine, the neck of which passed through it, was near sixteen feet. In the middle of this aperture an iron grate or brazier was supported by chains which came down from the sides of the machine.

"In this construction, when the machine was in the air, with a fire lighted in the grate, it was easy for a person who stood in the gallery, and had fuel with him, to keep up the fire in the mouth of the machine, by throwing the fuel on the grate through port-holes made in the neck of the machine. By this means it was expected, as indeed it was found by experience, that the machine might have been kept up as long as the person in its gallery thought proper, or while he had fuel to supply the fire with. The weight of this aërostat was upward of 16,000 pounds.

"On Wednesday, October 15th, this memorable experiment was performed. The fire being lighted, and the machine inflated, M. Pilâtre de Rozier placed himself in the gallery, and, after a few trials close to the ground, he desired to ascend to a great height; the machine was accordingly permitted to rise, and it[Pg 170] ascended as high as the ropes, which were purposely placed to detain it, would allow, which was about eighty-four feet from the ground. There M. de Rozier kept the machine afloat during four minutes twenty-five seconds, by throwing straw and wool into the grate to keep up the fire; then the machine descended very gently; but such was its tendency to ascend, that after touching the ground, the moment M. de Rozier came out of the gallery, it rebounded again to a considerable height. The intrepid adventurer, returning from the sky, assured his friends, and the multitude that gazed on him with admiration, with wonder, and with fear, that he had not experienced the least inconvenience, either in going up, in remaining there, or in descending; no giddiness, no incommoding motion, no shock whatever. He received the compliments due to his courage and audacity, having shown the world the accomplishment of that which had been for ages desired, but attempted in vain.

"On October 17th, M. Pilâtre de Rozier repeated the experiment with nearly the same success as he had two days before. The machine was elevated to about the same height, being still detained by ropes; but the wind being strong, it did not sustain itself so well, and consequently did not afford so fine a spectacle to the concourse of people, which at this time was much greater than at the preceding experiment.

"On the Sunday following, which was the 19th, the weather proving favorable, M. Montgolfier employed his machine to make the following experiments. At half past four o'clock the machine was filled, in five minutes' time; then M. Pilâtre de Rozier placed himself in the gallery, a counterpoise of 100 pounds being put in the opposite side of it, to preserve the balance. The size of the gallery had now been diminished. The machine was permitted to ascend to the height of about 210 feet, where it remained during six minutes, not having any fire in the grate; and then it descended very gently.

"Soon after, everything remaining as before, except that now a fire was put into the grate, the machine was permitted to ascend to about 262 feet, where it remained stationary during eight minutes and a half. On pulling it down, a gust of wind carried it over some large trees in an adjoining garden, where it would have been in great danger had not M. de Rozier, with great presence[Pg 171] of mind and address, increased the fire by throwing some straw upon it; by which means the machine was extricated from so dangerous a situation, and rose majestically to its former situation, among the acclamations of the spectators. On descending, M. de Rozier threw some straw upon the fire, which made the machine ascend once more, remaining up for about the same length of time.

"This experiment showed that the aërostat may be made to ascend and descend at the pleasure of those who are in it; to effect which, they have nothing more to do than to increase or diminish the fire in the grate; which was an important point in the subject of aërostation.

"After this, the machine was raised again with two persons in its gallery, M. Pilâtre de Rozier and M. Girond de Villette, the latter of whom was therefore the second aërostatic adventurer. The machine ascended to the height of about 300 feet, where it remained perfectly steady for at least nine minutes, hovering over Paris, in sight of its numerous inhabitants, many of whom could plainly distinguish, through telescopes, the aërostatic adventurers, and especially M. de Rozier, who was busy in managing the fire. When the machine came down, the Marquis d'Arlandes, a major of infantry, took the place of M. Villette, and the balloon was sent up once more. This last experiment was attended with the same success as the preceding; which proved that the persons who ascended with the machine did not suffer the least inconvenience, owing to the gradual and gentle ascent and descent of the machine, and to its steadiness or equilibrium while it remained in the air.

"If we consider for a moment the sensation which these first aërial adventurers must have felt in their exalted situation, we can almost feel the contagion of their thrilling experience ourselves. Imagine a man elevated to such a height, into immense space, by means altogether new, viewing under his feet, like a map, a vast tract of country, with one of the greatest existing cities—the streets and environs of which were crowded with spectators—attentive to him alone, and all expressing in every possible manner their amazement and anxiety. Reflect on the prospect, the encomiums, and the consequences; then see if your mind remains in a state of quiet indifference.[Pg 172]

"An instructive observation may be derived from these experiments; which is, that when an aërostatic machine is attached to the earth by ropes—especially when it is at a considerable height—the wind, blowing on it, will drive it in its own horizontal direction; so that the cords which hold the machine must make an angle with the horizon (which is greater when the wind is stronger, and contrariwise); in consequence of which the machine must be severely strained, it being acted on by three forces in three different directions; namely, its power of ascension, the tension of the ropes, which is opposite to the first, and the action of the wind, which is across the other two. It is therefore infinitely more judicious to abandon the machine entirely to the air, because it will then stand perfectly balanced, and, therefore, under no strain whatever."

In consequence of the report of the foregoing experiments, signed by the commissaries of the Academy of Sciences, that learned and respectable body ordered: (1) That the said report should be printed and published; and (2) that the annual prize of six hundred livres, from the fund provided by an anonymous citizen, be given to Messrs. Montgolfier, for the year 1783.


[31] Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.

[Pg 173]


a.d. 1787


It was a "critical period of American history" in which the fundamental or organic law of the United States, the Federal Constitution, was formulated. That instrument has not only commanded the reverence of American patriots—statesmen and people—during a century and more; it has engaged the attentive study and aroused the respect and admiration of foreign students and critics of political institutions. "After all deductions," says Bryce, it "ranks above every other written constitution, for the intrinsic excellence of its scheme, its adaptation to the circumstances of the people, the simplicity, brevity, and precision of its language, its judicious mixture of definiteness in principle with elasticity in details."

The story of this Constitution is as plain and simple as any in American annals; yet its real features have sometimes been missed even by friendly commentators. It is a mistake to say, with Gladstone, that "it is the greatest work ever struck off at any one time by the mind and purpose of man," for the true record of its making shows how deliberate and difficult the process was. Equally misleading is the judgment of so profound a master in legal history as Sir Henry Sumner Maine, when he says that the "Constitution of the United States is a modified version of the British Constitution which was in existence between 1760 and 1787."

A juster view is held by the critical scholars of America, a view which indeed should be deducible, without need of special scholarship, from the recorded history of the Constitutional period. "The real source of the Constitution," says a living American historian, "is the experience of Americans. They had established and developed admirable little commonwealths in the colonies; since the beginning of the Revolution they had had experience of State governments organized on a different basis from the colonial; and, finally, they had carried on two successive national governments, with which they had been profoundly discontented. The general outline of the new Constitution seems to be English; it was really colonial."

From the year 1775 there was a federal union in which each colony regulated its internal affairs by its own constitution, while the general affairs of the union were controlled by the Continental Congress. This[Pg 174] mode was substantially continued after the colonies (1776-1779) became States, with new State constitutions. It was not finally superseded until the Articles of Confederation, adopted by the Continental Congress in 1777, had been ratified by all the separate colonies or States. Under the articles a new government went into effect March 1, 1781.

The Articles of Confederation proving inadequate to the requirements of the Federal Government, it came to be seen that a general revision of them was needed, and a convention for that purpose was called. This convention went beyond its original purpose, which proved impracticable, and took upon itself the task of framing wholly anew the present Constitution of the United States. The following accounts furnish the reader with the circumstances which directly led to the calling of the convention, and with a clear and concise report of its proceedings and the subsequent action thereon taken by the States.


The day appointed for the assembling of the Convention[32] to revise the Articles of Confederation was May 14, 1787. Delegations from a majority of the States did not attend until the 25th, on which day the business of the convention commenced. The delegates from New Hampshire did not arrive until July 23d. Rhode Island did not appoint delegates.

A political body combining greater talents, wisdom, and patriotism, or whose labors have produced results more beneficial to the cause of civil and religious liberty, has probably never assembled. The two most distinguished members were Washington and Franklin, to whom the eyes of the convention were directed for a presiding officer. Washington, having been nominated by Lewis Morris, of Pennsylvania, was elected president of the convention. William Jackson was appointed secretary. The rules of proceeding adopted by the convention were chiefly the same as those of Congress. A quorum was to consist of the deputies of at least seven States, and all questions were to be decided by the greater number of those which were fully represented—at least two delegates being necessary to constitute a full representation. Another rule was the injunction of secrecy upon all their proceedings.

The first important question determined by the convention was, whether the confederation should be amended or a new government formed? The delegates of some States had been instructed[Pg 175] only to amend. And the resolution of Congress sanctioning a call for a convention recommended it "for the sole and express purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation." A majority, however, considering the plan of confederation radically defective, resolved to form "a national government, consisting of a supreme judicial, legislative, and executive." The objection to the new system on the ground of previous instructions was deemed of little weight, as any plan that might be agreed on would necessarily be submitted to the people of the States for ratification.

In conformity with this decision Edmund Randolph, of Virginia, on May 29th, offered fifteen resolutions, containing the outlines of a plan of government for the consideration of the convention. These resolutions proposed: That the voice of each State in the National Legislature should be in proportion to its taxes or to its free population; that the Legislature should consist of two branches, the members of the first to be elected by the people of the States, those of the second to be chosen by the members of the first, out of a proper number of persons nominated by the State legislatures; and the National Legislature to be vested with all the powers of "Congress under the Confederation," with the additional power to legislate in all cases to which the separate States were incompetent; to negative all State laws which should, in the opinion of the National Legislature, be repugnant to the Articles of Union or to any treaty subsisting under them; to call out the force of the Union against any State refusing to fulfil its duty:

That there should be a national executive, to be chosen by the National Legislature, and to be ineligible a second time. The executive, with a convenient number of the national judiciary, was to constitute a council of revision, with a qualified negative upon all laws, State and national:

A national judiciary, the judges to hold their offices during good behavior.

In discussing this plan, called the "Virginia plan," the lines of party were distinctly drawn. We have already had occasion to allude to the jealousy, on the part of States, of the power of the General Government. A majority of the peculiar friends of State rights in the convention were from the small States. These[Pg 176] States, apprehending danger from the overwhelming power of a strong national government, as well as from the combined power of the large States, represented in proportion to their wealth and population, were unwilling to be deprived of their equal vote in Congress. Not less strenuously did the friends of the national plan insist on a proportional representation. This opposition of sentiment, which divided the convention into parties, did not terminate with the proceedings of that body, but has at times marked the politics of the nation down to the present day. It is worthy of remark, however, that the most jealous regard for State rights now prevails in States in which the plan of a national government then found its ablest and most zealous advocates.

The plan suggested by Randolph's resolutions was the subject of deliberation for about two weeks, when, having been in several respects modified in committee, and reduced to form, it was reported to the House. It contained the following provisions:

A national legislature to consist of two branches, the first to be elected by the people for three years; the second to be chosen by the State legislatures for seven years, the members of both branches to be apportioned on the basis finally adopted; the Legislature to possess powers nearly the same as those originally proposed by Edmund Randolph. The executive was to consist of a single person to be chosen by the National Legislature for seven years, and limited to a single term, and to have a qualified veto; all bills not approved by him to be passed by a vote of three-fourths of both Houses in order to become laws. A national judiciary to consist of a supreme court, the judges to be appointed by the second branch of the Legislature for the term of good behavior, and of such inferior courts as Congress might think proper to establish.

This plan being highly objectionable to the State rights party, a scheme agreeable to their views was submitted by William Paterson, of New Jersey. This scheme, called the "New Jersey plan," proposed no alteration in the constitution of the Legislature, but simply to give it the additional power to raise a revenue by duties on foreign goods imported, and by stamp and postage taxes; to regulate trade with foreign nations and among the States; and, when requisitions made upon the States were not[Pg 177] complied with, to collect them by its own authority. The plan proposed a federal executive, to consist of a number of persons selected by Congress; and a federal judiciary, the judges to be appointed by the executive, and to hold their offices during good behavior.

The Virginia and New Jersey plans were now (June 19th) referred to a new committee of the whole. Another debate arose, in which the powers of the convention was the principal subject of discussion. It was again urged that their power had been, by express instruction, limited to an amendment of the existing confederation, and that the new system would not be adopted by the States. The vote was taken on the 19th, and the propositions of William Paterson were rejected; only New York, New Jersey, and Delaware voting in the affirmative; seven States in the negative, and the members from Maryland equally divided.

Randolph's propositions, as modified and reported by the committee of the whole, were now taken up and considered separately. The division of the Legislature into two branches, a House of Representatives and a Senate, was agreed to almost unanimously, one State only, Pennsylvania, dissenting; but the proposition to apportion the members to the States according to population was violently opposed. The small States insisted strenuously on retaining an equal vote in the Legislature, but at length consented to a proportional representation in the House on condition that they should have an equal vote in the Senate.

Accordingly, on June 29th, Oliver Ellsworth, of Connecticut, offered a motion, "that in the second branch, each State shall have an equal vote." This motion gave rise to a protracted and vehement debate. It was supported by Messrs. Ellsworth; Baldwin, of Georgia; Bradford, of Delaware, and others. It was urged on the ground of the necessity of a compromise between the friends of the confederation and those of a national government, and as a measure which would secure tranquillity and meet the objections of the larger States. Equal representation in one branch would make the government partly federal, and a proportional representation in the other would make it partly national. Equality in the second branch would enable the small States to protect themselves against the combined power of the large States.[Pg 178] Fears were expressed that without this advantage to the small States, it would be in the power of a few large States to control the rest. The small States, it was said, must possess this power of self-defence, or be ruined.

The motion was opposed by Messrs. Madison, Wilson, of Pennsylvania; King, of Massachusetts, and Dr. Franklin. Mr. Madison thought there was no danger from the quarter from which it was apprehended. The great source of danger to the General Government was the opposing interests of the North and the South, as would appear from the votes of Congress, which had been divided by geographical lines, not according to the size of the States. James Wilson objected to State equality; that it would enable one-fourth of the Union to control three-fourths. Respecting the danger of the three larger States combining together to give rise to a monarchy or an aristocracy, he thought it more probable that a rivalship would exist between them than that they would unite in a confederacy. Rufus King said the rights of Scotland were secure from all danger, though in the Parliament she had a small representation. Dr. Franklin, now in his eighty-second year, said, as it was not easy to see what the greater States could gain by swallowing up the smaller, he did not apprehend they would attempt it. In voting by States—the mode then existing—it was equally in the power of the smaller States to swallow up the greater. He thought the number of representatives ought to bear some proportion to the number of the represented.

On July 2d the question was taken on Mr. Ellsworth's motion, and lost: Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland voting in the affirmative; Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina in the negative; Georgia divided. It will be remembered that the delegates from New Hampshire were not yet present, and that Rhode Island had appointed none. This has been regarded by some as a fortunate circumstance, as the votes of these two small States would probably have given an equal vote to the States in both Houses, if not have defeated the plan of national government.

The excitement now became intense, and the convention seemed to be on the point of dissolution. Luther Martin, of[Pg 179] Maryland, who had taken a leading part in advocating the views of the State rights party, said each State must have an equal vote, or the business of the convention was at an end. It having become apparent that this unhappy result could be avoided only by a compromise, Roger Sherman, of Connecticut, moved the appointment of a committee of conference, to consist of one member from each State, and the motion prevailed. The convention then adjourned for three days, thus giving time for consultation, and an opportunity to celebrate the anniversary of independence.

The report of this committee, which was made on July 5th, proposed: (1) That in the first branch of the Legislature each State should have one representative for every forty thousand inhabitants (three-fifths of the slaves being counted); that each State not containing that number should be allowed one representative; and that money bills should originate in this branch; (2) that in the second branch each State should have one vote. These propositions were reported, it is said, at the suggestion of Dr. Franklin, one of the committee of conference.

The report, of course, met with greater favor from the State rights party than from their opponents. The equal vote in the Senate continued to receive the most determined opposition from the National party. In relation to the rule of representation in the first branch of the Legislature, also, a great diversity of opinion prevailed. The conflicting interests to be reconciled in the settlement of this question, however, were those of the Northern and Southern, commercial and planting, rather than the imaginary interests of small and large States.

In settling a rule of apportionment, several questions were to be considered: What should be the number of representatives in the first branch of the Legislature? Ought the number from each State to be fixed, or to increase with the increase of population? Ought population alone to be the basis of apportionment, or should property be taken into account? Whatever rule might be adopted, no apportionment founded upon population could be made until an enumeration of the inhabitants should have been taken. The number of representatives was, therefore, for the time being, fixed at sixty-five, and apportioned as directed by the Constitution.[Pg 180]

In establishing a rule of future apportionment, great diversity of opinion was expressed. Although slavery then existed in all the States except Massachusetts, the great mass of the slave population was in the Southern States. These States claimed a representation according to numbers, bond and free, while the Northern States were in favor of a representation according to the number of free persons only. This rule was forcibly urged by several of the Northern delegates. Mr. Paterson regarded slaves only as property. They were not represented in the States; why should they be in the General Government? They were not allowed to vote; why should they be represented? It was an encouragement of the slave trade. Said Mr. Wilson: "Are they admitted as citizens? Then why not on an equality with citizens? Are they admitted as property? Then why is not other property admitted into the computation?" A large portion of the members of the convention, from both sections of the Union, aware that neither extreme could be carried, favored the proposition to count the whole number of free citizens and three-fifths of all others.

Prior to this discussion, a select committee, to whom this subject had been referred, had reported in favor of a distribution of the members on the basis of wealth and numbers, to be regulated by the Legislature. Before the question was taken on this report, a proviso was moved and agreed to that direct taxes should be in proportion to representation. Subsequently a proposition was moved for reckoning three-fifths of the slaves in estimating taxes, and making taxation the basis of representation, which was adopted, New Jersey and Delaware against it, Massachusetts and South Carolina divided; New York not represented, her three delegates being all absent. Yates and Lansing, both of the State rights party, considering their powers explicitly confined to a revision of the confederation, and being chagrined at the defeat of their attempts to secure an equal vote in the first branch of the Legislature, had left the convention, not to return. From that time (July 11th) New York had no vote in the convention. Alexander Hamilton had left before the others, to be absent six weeks; and though he returned and took part in the deliberations, the State, not having two delegates present, was not entitled to a vote. On the 23d Gilman and Langdon, the[Pg 181] delegates from New Hampshire, arrived, when eleven States were again represented.

The term of service of members of the first branch was reduced to two years, and of those of the second branch to six years; one-third of the members of the latter to go out of office every two years; the representation in this body to consist of two members from each State, voting individually, as in the other branch, and not by States, as under the confederation. Sundry other modifications were made in the provisions relating to this department.

The reported plan of the executive department was next considered. After much discussion, and several attempts to strike out the ineligibility of the executive a second time, and to change the term of office and the mode of election, these provisions were retained.

The report of the committee of the whole, as amended, was accepted by the convention, and, together with the New Jersey plan, and a third drawn by Charles Pinckney, of South Carolina, was referred to a committee of detail, consisting of Messrs. Rutledge, Randolph, Gorham, Ellsworth, and Wilson, who, on August 6th, after an adjournment of ten days, reported the Constitution in proper form, having inserted some new provisions and altered certain others. Our prescribed limits forbid a particular account of the subsequent alterations which the Constitution received before it was finally adopted by the convention. There is one provision, however, which, as it forms one of the great "Compromises of the Constitution," deserves notice.

To render the Constitution acceptable to the Southern States, which were the principal exporting States, the committee of detail had inserted a clause providing that no duties should be laid on exports, or on slaves imported; and another, that no navigation act might be passed except by a two-thirds vote. By depriving Congress of the power of giving any preference to American over foreign shipping, it was designed to secure cheap transportation to Southern exports. As the shipping was principally owned in the Eastern States, their delegates were equally anxious to prevent any restriction of the power of Congress to pass navigation laws. All the States, except North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, had prohibited the importation of slaves; and[Pg 182] North Carolina had proceeded so far as to discourage the importation by heavy duties. The prohibition of duties on the importation of slaves was demanded by the delegates from South Carolina and Georgia, who declared that, without a provision of this kind, the Constitution would not receive the assent of these States. The support which the proposed restriction received from other States was given to it from a disposition to compromise, rather than from an approval of the measure itself. The proposition not only gave rise to a discussion of its own merits, but revived the opposition to the apportionment of representatives according to the three-fifths ratio, and called forth some severe denunciations of slavery.

Rufus King, in reference to the admission of slaves as a part of the representative population, remarked: "He had not made a strenuous opposition to it heretofore because he had hoped that this concession would have produced a readiness, which had not been manifested, to strengthen the General Government. The report of the committee put an end to all these hopes. The importation of slaves could not be prohibited; exports could not be taxed. If slaves are to be imported, shall not the exports produced by their labor supply a revenue to help the government defend their masters? There was so much inequality and unreasonableness in all this that the people of the Northern States could never be reconciled to it. He had hoped that some accommodation would have taken place on the subject; that at least a time would have been limited for the importation of slaves. He could never agree to let them be imported without limitation, and then be represented in the National Legislature. Either slaves should not be represented, or exports should be taxable."

Gouverneur Morris pronounced slavery "a nefarious institution. It was the curse of Heaven on the States where it prevailed. Compare the free regions of the Middle States, where a rich and noble cultivation marks the prosperity and happiness of the people, with the misery and poverty which overspread the barren wastes of Virginia, Maryland, and the other States having slaves. Travel through the whole continent, and you behold the prospect continually varying with the appearance and disappearance of slavery. The admission of slaves into the representation, when fairly explained, comes to this, that the inhabitant of Georgia[Pg 183] and South Carolina, who goes to the coast of Africa in defiance of the most sacred laws of humanity, tears away his fellow-creatures from their dearest connections, and damns them to the most cruel bondage, shall have more votes in a government instituted for the protection of the rights of mankind, than the citizen of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, who views with a laudable horror so nefarious a practice.

"And what is the proposed compensation to the Northern States for a sacrifice of every principle of right, every impulse of humanity? They are to bind themselves to march their militia for the defence of the Southern States, against those very slaves of whom they complain. The Legislature will have indefinite power to tax them by excises and duties on imports, both of which will fall heavier on them than on the Southern inhabitants; for the Bohea tea used by a Northern freeman will pay more tax than the whole consumption of the miserable slave, which consists of nothing more than his physical subsistence and the rag which covers his nakedness. On the other side, the Southern States are not to be restrained from importing fresh supplies of wretched Africans, at once to increase the danger of attack and the difficulty of defence; nay, they are to be encouraged to it by an assurance of having their votes in the National Government increased in proportion, and, at the same time, are to have their slaves and their exports exempt from all contributions to the public service." Gouverneur Morris moved to make the free population alone the basis of representation.

Roger Sherman, who had on other occasions manifested a disposition to compromise, again favored the Southern side. He "did not regard the admission of the negroes as liable to such insuperable objections. It was the freemen of the Southern States who were to be represented according to the taxes paid by them, and the negroes are only included in the estimate of the taxes."

After some further discussion the question was taken upon Morris' motion, and lost, New Jersey only voting for it.

With respect to prohibiting any restriction upon the importation of slaves, Luther Martin, of Maryland, who moved to allow a tax upon slaves imported, remarked: "As five slaves in the apportionment of representatives were reckoned as equal to three[Pg 184] freemen, such a permission amounted to an encouragement of the slave trade. Slaves weakened the Union which the other parts were bound to protect; the privilege of importing them was therefore unreasonable. Such a feature in the Constitution was inconsistent with the principles of the Revolution, and dishonorable to the American character."

John Rutledge "did not see how this section would encourage the importation of slaves. He was not apprehensive of insurrections, and would readily exempt the other States from every obligation to protect the South. Religion and humanity had nothing to do with this question. Interest alone is the governing principle with nations. The true question at present is, whether the Southern States shall or shall not be parties to the Union? If the Northern States consult their interest, they will not oppose the increase of slaves, which will increase the commodities of which they will become the carriers."

Oliver Ellsworth said: "Let every State import what it pleases. The morality or wisdom of slavery is a consideration belonging to the States. What enriches a part enriches the whole, and the States are the best judges of their particular interests."

Charles Pinckney said: "South Carolina can never receive the plan if it prohibits the slave trade. If the States be left at liberty on this subject, South Carolina may, perhaps, by degrees, do of herself what is wished, as Maryland and Virginia already have done."

Roger Sherman concurred with his colleague Mr. Ellsworth. "He disapproved of the slave trade; but as the States now possessed the right, and the public good did not require it to be taken away, and as it was expedient to have as few objections as possible to the proposed scheme of government, he would leave the matter as he found it. The abolition of slavery seemed to be going on, and the good sense of the several States would probably, by degrees, soon complete it."

George Mason said: "Slavery discourages arts and manufactures. The poor despise labor when performed by slaves. They prevent the immigration of whites, who really enrich and strengthen a country. They produce a pernicious effect on manners. Every master of slaves is born a petty tyrant. They bring[Pg 185] the judgment of Heaven on a country. He lamented that some of our Eastern brethren, from a lust of gain, had embarked in this nefarious traffic. As to the States being in possession of the right to import, that was the case of many other rights now to be given up. He held it essential, in every point of view, that the General Government should have power to prevent the increase of slavery."

Ellsworth, not well pleased with this thrust at his slave-trading friends at the North by a slaveholder, tartly replied: "As I have never owned a slave, I cannot judge of the effects of slavery on character; but if slavery is to be considered in a moral light, the convention ought to go further, and free those already in the country." The opposition of Virginia and Maryland to the importation of slaves he attributed to the fact that, on account of their rapid increase in those States, "it was cheaper to raise them there than to import them, while in the sickly rice-swamps foreign supplies were necessary. If we stop short with prohibiting their importation, we shall be unjust to South Carolina and Georgia. Let us not intermeddle. As population increases, poor laborers will be so plenty as to render slaves useless. Slavery, in time, will not be a speck in our country."

Delegates from South Carolina and Georgia repeated the declaration that "if the slave trade were prohibited, these States would not adopt the Constitution." "Virginia," it was said, "would gain by stopping the importation, she having slaves to sell; but it would be unjust to South Carolina and Georgia to be deprived of the right of importing. Besides, the importation of slaves would be a benefit to the whole Union: The more slaves, the more produce, the greater carrying trade, the more consumption, the more revenue."

The injustice of exempting slaves from duty, while every other import was subject to it, having been urged by several members in the course of the debate, Charles Pinckney expressed his consent to a tax not exceeding the same on other imports, and moved to refer the subject to a committee. The motion was seconded by John Rutledge, and, at the suggestion of Gouverneur Morris, was so modified as to include the clauses relating to navigation laws and taxes on exports. The commitment was opposed by Messrs. Sherman and Ellsworth; the former on the ground that[Pg 186] taxes on slaves imported implied that they were property; the latter from the fear of losing two States. Edmund Randolph was in favor of the motion, hoping to find some middle ground upon which they could unite. The motion prevailed, and the subject was referred to a committee of one from each State. The committee retained the prohibition of duties on exports; struck out the restriction on the enactment of navigation laws; and left the importation of slaves unrestricted until the year 1800; permitting Congress, however, to impose a duty upon the importation.

The debate upon this report of the "grand committee" is condensed, by Hildreth, into the two following paragraphs:

"Williamson declared himself, both in opinion and practice, against slavery; but he thought it more in favor of humanity, from a view of all circumstances, to let in South Carolina and Georgia on these terms, than to exclude them from the Union. Sherman again objected to the tax, as acknowledging men to be property. Gorham replied that the duty ought to be considered, not as implying that men are property, but as a discouragement to their importation. Sherman said the duty was too small to bear that character. Madison thought it 'wrong to admit, in the Constitution, the idea that there could be property in man'; and the phraseology of one clause was subsequently altered to avoid any such implication. Gouverneur Morris objected that the clause gave Congress power to tax freemen imported; to which George Mason replied that such a power was necessary to prevent the importation of convicts. A motion to extend the time from 1800 to 1808, made by Pinckney, and seconded by Gorham, was carried against New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia; Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire voting this time with Georgia and South Carolina. That part of the report which struck out the restriction on the enactment of navigation acts was opposed by Charles Pinckney in a set speech, in which he enumerated five distinct commercial interests: the fisheries and West India trade, belonging to New England; the interest of New York in a free trade; wheat and flour, the staples of New Jersey and Pennsylvania; tobacco, the staple of Maryland and Virginia and partly of North Carolina; rice and indigo, the staples of South Carolina and Georgia. The[Pg 187] same ground was taken by Williamson and Mason, and very warmly by Randolph, who declared that an unlimited power in Congress to enact navigation laws would complete the deformity of a system having already so many odious features that he hardly knew if he could agree to it. Any restriction of the power of Congress over commerce was warmly opposed by Gouverneur Morris, Wilson, and Gorham. Madison also took the same side. Charles C. Pinckney did not deny that it was the true interest of the South to have no regulation of commerce; but considering the commercial losses of the Eastern States during the Revolution, their liberal conduct toward the views of South Carolina—in the vote just taken, giving eight years' further extension to the slave trade—and the interest of the weak Southern States in being united with the strong Eastern ones, he should go against any restriction on the power of commercial regulation. 'He had himself prejudices against the Eastern States before he came here, but would acknowledge that he found them as liberal and candid as any men whatever.' Butler and Rutledge took the same ground, and the same report was adopted, against the votes of Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Georgia.

"Thus, by an understanding, or, as Gouverneur Morris called it, 'a bargain,' between the commercial representatives of the Northern States and the delegates of South Carolina and Georgia, and in spite of the opposition of Maryland and Virginia, the unrestricted power of Congress to pass navigation laws was conceded to the Northern merchants; and to the Carolina rice-planters, as an equivalent, twenty years' continuance of the African slave trade. This was the third 'Great Compromise' of the Constitution. The other two were the concessions to the smaller States of an equal representation in the Senate, and, to the slaveholders, the counting of three-fifths of the slaves in determining the ratio of representation. If this third compromise differed from the other two by involving not only a political but a moral sacrifice, there was this partial compensation about it, that it was not permanent, like the others, but expired at the end of twenty years by its own limitation."

Of the important subjects remaining to be disposed of, that of the executive department was, perhaps, the most difficult. The modified plan of Edmund Randolph left the executive to be[Pg 188] elected by the Legislature for a single term of seven years. The election was subsequently given to a college of electors, to be chosen in the States in such manner as the legislatures of the States should direct. The term of service was reduced from seven years to four years, and the restriction of the office to a single term was removed. Numerous other amendments and additions were made in going through with the draft. This amended draft was referred, for final revision, to a committee consisting of Messrs. Hamilton, Johnson, G. Morris, Madison, and King. Several amendments were made even after this revision; one of which was the substitution of a two-thirds for the three-fourths majority required to pass bills against the veto of the President. Another was a proposition of Mr. Gorham, to reduce the minimum ratio of representation from forty thousand, as it stood, to thirty thousand, intended to conciliate certain members who thought the House too small. This was offered the day on which the Constitution was signed. General Washington having briefly addressed the convention in favor of the proposed amendment, it was carried almost unanimously.

The whole number of delegates who attended the convention was fifty-five, of whom thirty-nine signed the Constitution. Of the remaining sixteen, some had left the convention before its close; others refused to give it their sanction. Several of the absentees were known to be in favor of the Constitution.

Some, as has been observed, were opposed to the plan of a national government, contending for the preservation of the confederation, with a mere enlargement of its powers; others, though in favor of the plan adopted, believed too much power had been given to the General Government. Some thought that not only the powers of Congress, but those of the executive, were too extensive; others that the executive was "weak and contemptible," and without sufficient power to defend himself against encroachments by the Legislature; others, still, that the executive power of the nation ought not to be intrusted in a single person. Although some deprecated the extensive powers of the Federal Government as dangerous to the rights of the States, "ultra democracy" seems to have had no representatives in the convention; while, on the other hand, there were not a few who thought it unsafe[Pg 189] to trust the people with a direct exercise of power in the General Government.

Sherman and Gerry were opposed to the election of the first branch of the Legislature by the people; as were some of the Southern delegates. Others, among whom were Madison, Mason, and Wilson, thought no republican government could be permanent in which the people were denied a direct voice in the election of their representatives. Hamilton, though in favor of making the first branch elective, proposed that the Senate should be chosen by the people, and the executive by electors, chosen by electors, who were to be chosen by the people in districts; Senators and the President both to hold their offices during good behavior. He was also, as were a few others, in favor of an absolute executive veto on acts of the Legislature. He, however, signed the Constitution, and urged others to do the same, as the only means of preventing anarchy and confusion. While the proposed Constitution was in every particular satisfactory to none, very few were disposed to jeopardize the Union by the continuance of a system which all admitted to be inadequate to the objects of the Union. To the hope, therefore, of finding the new plan an improvement on the old, and of amending its defects if any should appear, is to be attributed the general sanction which it received.

It is indeed remarkable that a plan of government, containing so many provisions to which the most strenuous opposition was maintained to the end, should have received the signatures of so large a majority of the convention. Perhaps there never was another political body in which views and interests more varied and opposite have been represented or a greater diversity of opinion has prevailed. Nor is it less remarkable that a system deemed so imperfect, not only by the mass of its framers, but by a large portion of the eminent men who composed the State conventions that ratified it, should have been found to answer so fully the purpose of its formation as to require, during an experiment of more than sixty years, no essential alteration; and that it should be esteemed as a model form of republican government by the enlightened friends of freedom in all countries.

Not a single provision of the Constitution, as it came from the hands of the framers, except that which prescribed the mode of[Pg 190] electing a President and Vice-President, has received the slightest amendment. Of the twelve articles styled "amendments," the first eleven are merely additions; some of which were intended to satisfy the scruples of those who objected to the Constitution as incomplete without a bill of rights, supposing their common-law rights would be rendered more secure by an express guarantee; others are explanatory of certain provisions of the Constitution which were considered liable to misconstruction. The twelfth article is the amendment changing the mode of electing the President and Vice-President.

In the differences of opinion between the friends and opponents of the Constitution originated the two great political parties into which the people were divided during a period of about thirty years. It is generally supposed that the term "Federalist" was first applied to those who advocated the plan of the present Constitution. This opinion, however, is not correct. Those members of the convention who were in favor of the old plan of union, which was a simple confederation or federal alliance of equal independent States, were called "Federalists," and their opponents "Anti-Federalists." After the new Constitution had been submitted to the people for ratification, its friends, regarding its adoption as indispensable to union, took the name of "Federalists," and bestowed upon the other party that of "Anti-Federalists," intimating that to oppose the adoption of the Constitution was to oppose any union of the States.

The new Constitution bears the date September 17, 1787. It was immediately transmitted to Congress, with a recommendation to that body to submit it to State conventions for ratification, which was accordingly done. It was adopted by Delaware, December 7th; by Pennsylvania, December 12th; by New Jersey, December 18th; by Georgia, January 2d, 1788; by Connecticut, January 9th; by Massachusetts, February 7th; by Maryland, April 28th; by South Carolina, May 23d; by New Hampshire, June 21st, which, being the ninth ratifying State, gave effect to the Constitution. Virginia ratified June 27th; New York, July 26th; and North Carolina, conditionally, August 7th. Rhode Island did not call a convention.

In Massachusetts, Virginia, and New York the new Constitution encountered a most formidable opposition, which rendered[Pg 191] its adoption by these States for a time extremely doubtful. In their conventions were men on both sides who had been members of the national convention, associated with others of distinguished abilities. In Massachusetts there were several adverse influences which would probably have defeated the ratification in that State had it not been accompanied by certain proposed amendments to be submitted by Congress to the several States for ratification. The adoption of these by the convention gained for the Constitution the support of Hancock and Samuel Adams; and the question on ratification was carried by one hundred eighty-seven against one hundred sixty-eight.

In the Virginia convention the Constitution was opposed by Patrick Henry, James Monroe, and George Mason, the last of whom had been one of the delegates to the constitutional convention. On the other side were John Marshall, Edmund Pendleton, James Madison, George Wythe, and Edmund Randolph, the three last also having been members of the national convention. Randolph had refused to sign the Constitution, but had since become one of its warmest advocates. In the convention of this State, also, the ratification was aided by the adoption of a bill of rights and certain proposed amendments, and was carried, eighty-eight yeas against eighty nays.

In the convention of New York the opposition embraced a majority of its members, among whom were Yates and Lansing, members of the general convention, and George Clinton. The principal advocates of the Constitution were John Jay, Robert R. Livingston, and Alexander Hamilton. Strong efforts were made for a conditional ratification, which were successfully opposed, though not without the previous adoption of a bill of rights and numerous amendments. With these, the absolute ratification was carried, thirty-one to twenty-nine.

The ratification of North Carolina was not received by Congress until January, 1790; and that of Rhode Island not until June of the same year.

After the ratification of New Hampshire had been received by Congress, the ratifications of the nine States were referred to a committee, who, on July 14, 1788, reported a resolution for carrying the new government into operation. The passage of the resolution, owing to the difficulty of agreeing upon the place for the[Pg 192] meeting of the first Congress, was delayed until September 13th. The first Wednesday in January, 1789, was appointed for choosing electors of President, and the first Wednesday in February for the electors to meet in their respective States to vote for President and Vice-President; and the first Wednesday, March 4th, as the time, and New York as the place, to commence proceedings under the new Constitution.


Commissioners were appointed by the Legislatures of Virginia and Maryland, early in 1785, to form a compact relative to the navigation of the Potomac and Pocomoke rivers and Chesapeake Bay. The commissioners, having met in March in that year, felt the want of more enlarged powers, and particularly of powers to provide for a local naval force, and a tariff of duties upon imports. Upon receiving their recommendation, the Legislature of Virginia passed a resolution for laying the subject of a tariff before all the States composing the Union. Soon afterward, in January, 1786, the Legislature adopted another resolution, appointing commissioners, "who were to meet such as might be appointed by the other States in the Union, at a time and place to be agreed on, to take into consideration the trade of the United States; to examine the relative situation and trade of the States; to consider how far a uniform system in their commercial relations may be necessary to their common interest and their permanent harmony; and to report to the several States such an act, relative to this great object, as, when unanimously ratified by them, will enable the United States in Congress assembled to provide for the same."

These resolutions were communicated to the States, and a convention of commissioners from five States only, viz., New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia, met at Annapolis in September, 1786. After discussing the subject, they deemed more ample powers necessary, and, as well from this consideration as because a small number only of the States was represented, they agreed to come to no decision, but to frame a report to be laid before the several States, as well as before Congress. In this report they recommended the appointment of commissioners from all the States, "to meet at Philadelphia, on the[Pg 193] second Monday of May next, to take into consideration the situation of the United States; to devise such further provisions as shall appear to them necessary to render the Constitution of the Federal Government adequate to the exigencies of the Union; and to report such an act for that purpose to the United States in Congress assembled as, when agreed to by them, and afterward confirmed by the legislature of every State, will effectually provide for the same."

On receiving this report the Legislature of Virginia passed an act for the appointment of delegates to meet such as might be appointed by other States, at Philadelphia. The report was also received in Congress, but no step was taken until the Legislature of New York instructed its delegation in Congress to move a resolution recommending to the several States to appoint deputies to meet in convention for the purpose of revising and proposing amendments to the Federal Constitution. On February 21, 1787, a resolution was accordingly moved and carried in Congress recommending a convention to meet in Philadelphia, on the second Monday of May ensuing, "For the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation, and reporting to Congress and the several legislatures, such alterations and provisions therein as shall, when agreed to in Congress and confirmed by the States, render the Federal Constitution adequate to the exigencies of government and the preservation of the Union." The alarming insurrection then existing in Massachusetts, without doubt, had no small share in producing this result. The report of Congress on that subject at once demonstrates their fears and their political weakness.

At the time and place appointed the representatives of twelve States assembled. Rhode Island alone declined to appoint any on this momentous occasion. After very protracted deliberations, the convention finally adopted the plan of the present Constitution on September 17, 1787; and by a contemporaneous resolution, directed it to be "laid before the United States in Congress assembled," and declared their opinion "that it should afterward be submitted to a convention of delegates chosen in each State by the people thereof, under a recommendation of its legislature for their assent and ratification"; and that each convention assenting to and ratifying the same should give notice[Pg 194] thereof to Congress. The convention, by a further resolution, declared their opinion that as soon as nine States had ratified the Constitution, Congress should fix a day on which electors should be appointed by the States which should have ratified the same, and a day on which the electors should assemble and vote for the President, and the time and place of commencing proceedings under the Constitution; and that after such publication the electors should be appointed, and the Senators and Representatives elected. The same resolution contained further recommendations for the purpose of carrying the Constitution into effect.

The convention, at the same time, addressed a letter to Congress, expounding their reasons for their acts, from which the following extract cannot but be interesting: "It is obviously impracticable [says the address] in the federal government of these States, to secure all rights of independent sovereignty to each, and yet provide for the interest and safety of all. Individuals entering into society must give up a share of liberty to preserve the rest. The magnitude of the sacrifice must depend as well on situation and circumstance as on the object to be obtained. It is at all times difficult to draw with precision the line between those rights which must be surrendered and those which may be reserved; and on the present occasion this difficulty was increased by a difference among the several States as to their situation, extent, habits, and particular interests. In all our deliberations on this subject we kept steadily in our view that, which appears to us the greatest interest of every true American, the consolidation of our Union, in which is involved our prosperity, felicity, safety, perhaps our national existence. This important consideration, seriously and deeply impressed on our minds, led each State in the convention to be less rigid on points of inferior magnitude than might have been otherwise expected. And thus the Constitution which we now present is the result of the spirit of amity, and of that mutual deference and concession, which the peculiarity of our political situation rendered indispensable."

Congress, having received the report of the convention on September 28, 1787, unanimously resolved "that the said report, with the resolutions and letter accompanying the same, be transmitted to the several legislatures in order to be submitted to a convention of delegates chosen in each State by the people thereof[Pg 195] in conformity to the resolves of the convention, made and provided in that case."

Conventions in the various States which had been represented in the general convention were accordingly called by their respective legislatures; and the Constitution having been ratified by eleven out of the twelve States, Congress, on September 13, 1788, passed a resolution appointing the first Wednesday in January following for the choice of electors of President; the first Wednesday of February following for the assembling of the electors to vote for a President; and the first Wednesday of March following, at the then seat of Congress (New York) the time and place for commencing proceedings under the Constitution. Electors were accordingly appointed in the several States, who met and gave their votes for a President; and the other elections for Senators and Representatives having been duly made, on Wednesday, March 4, 1789, Congress assembled under the new Constitution and commenced proceedings under it.

A quorum of both Houses, however, did not assemble until April 6th, when, the votes for President being counted, it was found that George Washington was unanimously elected President, and John Adams was elected Vice-President.

On April 30th President Washington was sworn into office, and the government then went into full operation in all its departments.

North Carolina had not, as yet, ratified the Constitution. The first convention called in that State, in August, 1788, refused to ratify it without some previous amendments and a declaration of rights. In a second convention, however, called in November, 1789, this State adopted the Constitution. The State of Rhode Island had declined to call a convention; but finally, by a convention held in May, 1790, its assent was obtained; and thus all the thirteen original States became parties to the new government.

Thus was achieved another and still more glorious triumph in the cause of national liberty than even that which separated us from the mother-country. By it we fondly trust that our republican institutions will grow up, and be nurtured into more mature strength and vigor; our independence be secured against foreign usurpation and aggression; our domestic blessings be[Pg 196] widely diffused, and generally felt; and our nation, as a people, be perpetuated, as our own truest glory and support, and as a proud example of a wise and beneficent government, entitled to the respect, if not to the admiration, of mankind.

Let it not, however, be supposed that a Constitution, which is now looked upon with such general favor and affection by the people, had no difficulties to encounter at its birth. The history of those times is full of melancholy instruction on this subject, at once to admonish us of past dangers, and to awaken us to a lively sense of the necessity of future vigilance. The Constitution was adopted unanimously by Georgia, New Jersey, and Delaware. It was supported by large majorities in Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, and South Carolina. It was carried in the other States by small majorities; and especially in Massachusetts, New York, and Virginia by little more than a preponderating vote. Indeed, it is believed that in each of these States, at the first assembling of the conventions, there was a decided majority opposed to the Constitution. The ability of the debates, the impending evils, and the absolute necessity of the case seem to have reconciled some persons to the adoption of it, whose opinions had been strenuously the other way.

"In our endeavors," said Washington, "to establish a new general government, the contest, nationally considered, seems not to have been so much for glory as for existence. It was for a long time doubtful whether we were to survive, as an independent republic, or decline from our federal dignity into insignificant and withered fragments of empire."


[32] Called the "Constitutional Convention."—Ed.

[Pg 197]



a.d. 1789-1797


In times when "logical candidates" for the Presidency of the United States are periodically exploited by rival parties, it is a salutary thing, which can never too often be repeated, to look back to the first filling of the chief magistracy of the country.

No parallel is seen in history to the unanimity of Washington's election, a call which his modest reluctance could not refuse, for there was no other who could serve his country's need. The tribute of a nation was again paid in his unanimous reëlection to a second term, which nothing except his own will determined for the last.

Familiar as is the fame of Washington and of his services to his country and mankind, there is no name in the records of the world which still commands a more universal veneration. Nor is this sentiment diminished, among intelligent people, now that his character and work have been divested of those elements of myth or tradition which formerly enveloped them; rather by the critical process of humanizing is his reputation more endeared to his countrymen and more firmly established in the eyes of the world.

To enter here upon the innumerable details of Washington's presidential labors is impossible; they belong to general history. But among the great events of history the civil and political acts of the man who was first in peace as well as in war stand conspicuous, and in Paulding's narrative and appreciation they are fittingly commemorated.

The convention which framed the United States Constitution met at Philadelphia, and unanimously chose Washington its president. This situation in some measure precluded him from speaking, if he had been so inclined; but his influence was not the less in producing the results which followed. It is highly probable that but for the exertions he made in private, and the vast authority of his character and services, the objects of the convention might not have been obtained. The great talents of Madison, Hamilton, and Jay, exerted in that celebrated work called The Federalist, and the influence of many of the leading[Pg 198] men of the different States, aided by the name of Washington, alone, perhaps, secured to the country the great charter of its liberties.

Under the new Constitution a chief magistrate became necessary to administer the government. The eyes of the whole people of the United States were at once directed to Washington, and their united voices called upon him who had led their armies in war, to direct their affairs in peace. His old companions came forth and besought him to leave his retirement once more to serve his country. The leading men of all parties wrote letters to the same purport, and on all hands he was assailed by the warmest, most earnest applications.

His replies are extant, and those who have ever seen them cannot for a moment question the deep reluctance with which he undertook this new and trying service. Both in its external and internal relations, the country was at this time in a most critical state; and the man who accepted the hard task of administering its government might rationally anticipate little of the sweets and all the bitterness of power. He who already possessed the hearts of the people; he who had already gained the most lofty eminence, the noblest of all rewards, the hallowed title of his country's father, and the gratitude of a nation, would risk everything and gain nothing by embarking again on the troubled ocean of political strife, in a vessel whose qualities for the voyage had never been tried. But Washington thought he might be of service to his country, and once more sacrificed his rural happiness and cherished tastes at that shrine where he had often offered up his life and all its enjoyments.

He was unanimously elected President of the United States on March 4, 1789, but owing to some formal or accidental delays this event was not notified to him officially until April 14th following. Referring to this delay he thus expresses himself in a letter to General Knox, who possessed and deserved his friendship to the last moment of his life:

"As to myself, the delay may be compared to a reprieve; for in confidence I tell you (with the world it would obtain little credit) that my movements toward the chair of government will be accompanied by feelings not unlike those of a culprit going to the place of execution; so unwilling am I, in the evening of a life[Pg 199] consumed in public cares, to quit my peaceful abode for an ocean of difficulties, without the competency of political skill, abilities, and inclination which is necessary to manage the helm. I am sensible that I am embarking with the voice of the people, and a good name of my own, on this voyage, and what returns will be made for them, Heaven alone can foretell. Integrity and firmness are all I can promise. These, be the voyage long or short, shall never forsake me, though I may be deserted by all men; for of the consolations to be derived from these, the world cannot deprive me."

Such was the foundation of his modest confidence—firmness and integrity, the true pillars of honest greatness. And these never deserted him. He kept his promise to himself in all times, circumstances, and temptations; and though, on a few rare occasions during the course of a stormy season, in which the hopes, fears, and antipathies of his fellow-citizens were strongly excited, his conduct may have been assailed, his motives were never questioned. None ever doubted his firmness, and the general conviction of his integrity was founded on a rock that could neither be undermined nor overthrown.

His progress from Mount Vernon to New York, where Congress was then sitting, was a succession of the most affecting scenes which the sentiment of a grateful people ever presented to the contemplation of the world. His appearance awakened in the bosoms of all an enthusiasm so much the more glorious because so little characteristic of our countrymen. Men, women, and children poured forth and lined the roads in throngs to see him pass and hail his coming. The windows shone with glistening eyes, watching his passing footsteps; the women wept for joy; the children shouted, "God save Washington!" and the iron hearts of the stout husbandmen yearned with inexpressible affection toward him who had caused them to repose in safety under their own vine and fig-tree. His old companions-in-arms came forth to renovate their honest pride, as well as undying affection, by a sight of their general, and a shake of his hand. The pulse of the nation beat high with exultation, for now, when they saw their ancient pilot once more at the helm, they hoped for a prosperous voyage and a quiet haven in the bosom of prosperity.[Pg 200]

His reception at Trenton was peculiarly touching. It was planned by those females and their daughters whose patriotism and sufferings in the cause of liberty were equal to those of their fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers. It was here, when the hopes of the people lay prostrate on the earth, and the eagle of freedom seemed to flap his wings, as if preparing to forsake the world, that Washington performed those prompt and daring acts which, while they revived the drooping spirits of his country, freed, for a time, the matrons of Trenton from the insults and wrongs of an arrogant soldiery. The female heart is no sanctuary for ingratitude; and when Washington arrived at the bridge over the Assumpink, which here flows close to the borders of the city, he met the sweetest reward that, perhaps, ever crowned his virtues.

Over the bridge was thrown an arch of evergreens and flowers bearing this affecting inscription in large letters:

"December 26, 1776.
"The hero who defended the mothers will protect the daughters."

At the other extremity of the bridge were assembled many hundreds of young girls of various ages, arrayed in white, the emblem of truth and innocence, their brows circled with garlands, and baskets of flowers in their hands. Beyond these were disposed the grown-up daughters of the land, clothed and equipped like the others, and behind them the matrons, all of whom remembered the never-to-be-forgotten twenty-sixth of December, 1776. As the good Washington left the bridge, they joined in a chorus, touchingly expressive of his services and their gratitude, strewing, at the same time, flowers as he passed along. That mouth whose muscles of gigantic strength indicated the firmness of his character and the force of his mind, was now observed to quiver with emotion; that eye which looked storms and tempests, enemies and friends, undauntedly in the face, and never quailed in the sight of man, now glistened with tears; and that hand which had not trembled when often life, fame, and the liberty of his country hung on the point of a single moment, now refused its office. His hat dropped from his hand as he drew it across his brow.

His reception everywhere was worthy of his services and of a grateful people. At New York the vessels were adorned with[Pg 201] flags, and the river alive with boats gayly decked out in like manner, with bands of music on board; the place of his landing was thronged with crowds of citizens, gathered together to welcome his arrival. The roar of cannon and the shouts of the multitude announced his landing, and he was conducted to his lodging by thousands of grateful hearts, who remembered what he had done for them in the days of their trial.

It had been arranged that a military escort should attend him; but when the officer in command announced his commission, Washington replied, "I require no guard but the affections of the people," and declined their attendance.

At this moment, so calculated to inflate the human heart with vanity, Washington, though grateful for these spontaneous proofs of affectionate veneration, was not elated. In describing the scene in one of his familiar letters, he says: "The display of boats on this occasion with vocal and instrumental music on board, the decorations of the ships, the roar of cannon, and the loud acclamations of the people, as I passed along the wharves, gave me as much pain as pleasure, contemplating the probable reversal of this scene, after all my endeavors to do good." Happily, his anticipations were never realized. Although his policy in relation to the French Revolution, which was as wise as it was happy in its consequences, did not give universal satisfaction, still he remained master of the affections and confidence of the people. The laurels he had won in defence of the liberties of his country continued to flourish on his brow while living, and will grow green on his grave to the end of time.

On April 30, 1789, he took the oath and entered on the office of President of the United States, one of the highest as well as most thankless that could be undertaken by man. The head of this free Government is no idle, empty pageant set up to challenge the admiration and coerce the absolute submission of the people; his duties are arduous and his responsibilities great; he is the first servant, not the master, of the state, and is amenable for his conduct, like the humblest citizen. As the executor of the laws, he is bound to see them obeyed; as the first of our citizens, he is equally bound to set an example of obedience. The oath, "to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States," was administered in the balcony of the old Federal Hall[Pg 202] in New York, by the chancellor of the State, and the Bible on which it was sworn is still preserved as a sacred relic.

At the time Washington assumed the high functions of President of the United States, there was ample room for the exertion of all his firmness, integrity, and talents. A new constitution to be administered, without the aid of experience or precedent, by an authority to which the people were strangers; serious and alarming difficulties to be adjusted with England; the Indian nations all along our frontier brandishing their tomahawks and whetting their scalping-knives; war with Mediterranean pirates; the Spaniards denying our right to navigate the Mississippi, and the people of Kentucky threatening a separation from the Union unless that right was successfully asserted by the Government. Other difficulties stared the new President full in the face. Some of the States still declined to accept the new Constitution, and become members of the Confederation; others nearly equally divided on the subject; and a debt of eighty million dollars; to meet all which there was an army of less than a thousand men and an empty treasury.

Here was enough, and more than enough, to call forth all the energies, if not to produce despair in the mind, of an ordinary man. But Washington was not such a man. Conscious of the purity of his purposes, he relied on the protection of that Power which is all purity. His first care was to provide for the civil and judicial administration of the government, by the appointment of men in whose virtue and capacity a long experience had given him confidence. Having done this he took the reins with a firm, steady hand, and commenced the ascent of the rugged steep before him.

The next object that called his attention was the situation of the inland frontier, now exposed to the inroads of the savages, who had not been included in the general pacification, although a proposition to that effect had been made by the British commissioners. Although our Government has always treated with the Indians as independent tribes, it has never placed them on the footing of civilized nations, or admitted any mediation on the part of foreign powers. The United States do not recognize them as parties in civilized warfare; they neither avail themselves of their alliance nor acknowledge them as the auxiliaries of other nations.[Pg 203]

A system was devised for the conduct of those singular relations which alone can subsist between people so different in all respects, moral and political. The wisdom of that system has been exemplified in having uniformly been acted upon to this time, and though it may perhaps be questioned as to its abstract principles, it would be perhaps difficult if not impossible to devise a better. Our ancestors came to this country under the sanction of a principle at that time universally acknowledged among civilized nations, and when once here, the first law of nature, self-defence, furnishes their only justification. While weak, they were obliged to defend themselves, and when they became strong they were probably too apt to remember their former sufferings.

The policy of Washington, with regard to these unfortunate people, was successful in quieting, if not conciliating many of the Indian tribes; but others remained refractory and continued their atrocities. After defeating two American armies with great slaughter, they were at length brought to terms by the gallant Wayne, who gave them so severe a beating in a great general action that they sued for peace. This was concluded at Greenville; and the cession of a vast territory not only relieved the frontier from savage inroads, but paved the way for the progress of civilization into a new world of wilderness.

He was equally successful at a subsequent period in his negotiations with Spain. His high character for veracity and honor gave him singular advantages in his foreign intercourse. He proceeded in a straightforward, open manner, stated what was wanted, and what would be given in return; relied on justice, and enforced its claims with the arguments of truth. He disdained to purchase advantages by corruption, or to deceive by insincerity. As in private, so in public life, he proceeded inflexibly upon the noble maxim, whose truth is every day verified, that "Honesty is the best policy." The conviction of a man's integrity gives him far greater advantages in his intercourse with the world than he can ever gain by hypocrisy and falsehood. The right of navigating the Mississippi was finally conceded by Spain.

The settlement of the controversies growing out of the treaty with England proved even more difficult than those with Spain.[Pg 204] The wounds inflicted on both nations by a war of so many years were healed, but the scars remained, to remind the one of what it had suffered, the other of what it had lost. Time and mutual good offices were necessary to allay that spirit which had been excited on one hand by injuries, on the other by successful resistance; and time indeed had passed away, but it had left behind it neither forgiveness nor oblivion. It was accompanied on one hand by new provocations, on the other by additional remonstrances and renewed indignation. Negotiations continued for a long while, without any result but mortification and impatience on the part of the people of the United States; and it was not until the French Revolution threatened the existence of all the established governments of Europe, and England among the rest, that a treaty was concluded, which brought with it an adjustment of the principal points that had so long embroiled the two nations and fostered a spirit of increasing hostility. The most vexing question of all however—that of the right of entering our ships and impressing seamen—was left unsettled, and it became obvious that it would never be adjusted except on the principle of the right of the strongest. About the same time peace was concluded between the United States and the Emperor of Morocco, and thus, for a while, our commerce remained unmolested on that famous sea where, some years afterward, our gallant navy laid the foundation of its present and future glories.

It is not my design to enter minutely into the principles or conduct of the two great parties, which, from the period of the adoption of the Constitution down to the present time, have been struggling for ascendency in the Government of the United States. My limits will not permit me, if I wished; but if they did, I should decline the task. My youthful readers will know and feel their excitement soon enough, perhaps too soon; and I wish not to become instrumental in implanting in their tender minds the seeds of social and political antipathies. I am attempting to picture a great and virtuous man; to exhibit a noble moral example for the imitation of the children of my country. My business is with the actions of Washington, not with the imputations of his enemies or the struggles of ambitious politicians. Posterity has placed him far above such puny trifles and triflers, and I will not assist, however humbly, in reviving imputations which have long[Pg 205] since sunk into oblivion or insignificance under the weight of his mighty name.

The French Revolution, which set the Old World in a blaze, but for the wisdom and firmness of Washington would have involved the United States in the labyrinth of European policy. He it was that prevented their becoming parties in that series of tremendous wars which desolated some of the fairest portions of the earth; caused the rivers to run red with blood; overturned and erected thrones; converted kings into the playthings of fortune; and ended in the creation of a mighty phantom, which, after being the scourge and terror of the world, vanished from our sight on a desolate rock of the ocean.

The people of the United States had continued to cherish a strong feeling of gratitude for the good offices of France during their struggle for independence; and in addition to this, their sympathies were deeply engaged in behalf of a contest so similar in many respects to their own. The institution of the French Republic was hailed with an enthusiasm equal to that they felt on the establishment of their own liberties; and, but for the firm and steady hand of Washington, they would have taken the bridle between their teeth and run headlong into the vortex of European revolution.

Washington issued his famous Proclamation of Neutrality, from which Mr. Genet, the minister of the French Republic, threatened to appeal to the people, a measure understood to mean nothing less than revolution. From that moment the people began to rally around their beloved chief, like children who will not allow their father to be insulted, although they themselves may think him wrong. They sanctioned the proclamation, and time has ratified their decision. It is believed there is not a rational American who does not now feel that the course of Washington was founded in consummate wisdom, deep feeling, and eternal justice.

Having been twice unanimously elected to the highest office in the gift of men; having served his country faithfully eight years in war and eight in peace, having settled the government on a permanent basis, established a series of precedents for the imitation of his successors, and seeing the United States now resting happily in the lap of repose and prosperity; having fulfilled all and[Pg 206] more than they had a right to ask of him, and consummated all his public duties, Washington now signified his intention of declining a reëlection. During the arduous services of the preceding term, he had been obliged to retire for a while to the repose of Mount Vernon for the reëstablishment of his health, and he now resolved to relieve himself finally from all the duties and cares of public life. He had earned this privilege by a whole life of arduous patriotism, and without doubt wished to close his public career by one more act of moderation, as a guide to those who might come after him. He believed eight years to be a sufficient term of service in the office of President for any one single man, and determined to establish the precedent by setting the example himself.

Feeling on this occasion like a father about to take a final leave of his children, and give them his parting blessing, Washington, at the moment of announcing his intention of retiring from the world, addressed to the people of the United States his last memorable words. These were conveyed in a letter to his "friends and fellow-citizens," fraught with lessons of virtue and patriotism, adorned by the most touching simplicity, the most mature wisdom, the most affectionate and endearing earnestness of paternal solicitude. He was now about to withdraw his long and salutary guardianship from his young and vigorous country, his only offspring, and he left her the noblest legacy in his power, the priceless riches of his precepts and example.

"In looking forward," he says, "to the moment which is intended to terminate the career of my public life, my feelings do not permit me to suspend the deep acknowledgment of that debt of gratitude which I owe to my beloved country for the many honors it has conferred upon me, or still more for the steadfast confidence with which it has supported me, and for the opportunities thence enjoyed of manifesting my inviolable attachment by services, useful and persevering, though in usefulness unequal to my zeal.

"Profoundly penetrated with this idea, I shall carry it with me to my grave, as a strong incitement to unceasing vows, that Heaven may continue to you the choicest tokens of its beneficence; that your union and brotherly affection may be perpetual; that the free constitution which is the work of your hands may be[Pg 207] sacredly maintained; that its administration in every department may be stamped with wisdom and virtue; that in fine, the happiness of these States, under the auspices of liberty, may be made complete by so careful a preservation and so prudent a use of this blessing as will acquire to them the glory of recommending it to the applause, the affection, and the adoption of every nation which is yet a stranger to it.

"Here, perhaps, I ought to stop. But solicitude for your welfare, which cannot end but with my life, and the apprehension of danger natural to such solicitude, urge me, on an occasion like the present, to offer to your solemn contemplation, and to recommend to your frequent review, some sentiments which are the result of much reflection, of no inconsiderable observation, and which appear to me all-important to your felicity as a people. These will be offered to you with the more freedom, as you can only see in them the disinterested warnings of a parting friend, who can possibly have no personal motive to bias his counsel.

"Interwoven as is the love of liberty with every ligament of your hearts, no recommendation of mine is necessary to fortify the attachment.

"The unity of government, which constitutes you one people, is also now dear to you. It is justly so; for it is the main pillar in the edifice of your real independence, the support of your tranquillity at home and your peace abroad; of your prosperity, of that liberty which you so highly prize. But as it is easy to foresee that from different causes and from different quarters, much pains will be taken, many artifices employed, to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth—as this is the point in your political fortress against which the batteries of internal and external enemies will be constantly and actively, though often covertly and insidiously directed—it is of infinite moment that you should properly estimate the immense value of your national union to your collective and individual happiness; that you should cherish a cordial, habitual, and immovable attachment to it, accustoming yourselves to think and speak of it as of the palladium of your political safety and prosperity; watching for its preservation with jealous anxiety; discountenancing whatever may suggest even a suspicion that it may be in any event abandoned; and indignantly frowning upon every attempt to[Pg 208] alienate any portion of our country from the rest, or to enfeeble the sacred ties that now link together the various parts."

He then proceeds to caution his fellow-citizens against those geographical distinctions of "North," "South," "East," and "West," which, by fostering ideas of separate interests and character, are calculated to weaken the bonds of our union, and to create prejudices, if not antipathies, dangerous to its existence. He shows, by a simple reference to the great paramount interests of each of the different sections, that they are inseparably intertwined in one common bond; that they are mutually dependent on each other; and that they cannot be rent asunder without deeply wounding our prosperity at home, our character and influence abroad, laying the foundation for perpetual broils among ourselves, and creating a necessity for great standing armies, themselves the most fatal enemies to the liberties of mankind.

He earnestly recommends implicit obedience to the laws of the land, as one of the great duties enjoined by the fundamental maxims of liberty. "The basis of our political system," he says, "is the right of the people to make and alter their constitutions of government; but the constitution which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all. The very idea of the power and right of the people to establish government presupposes the duty of every individual to obey the established government."

He denounces "all combinations and associations under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities," as destructive to this fundamental principle and of fatal tendency. He cautions his countrymen against the extreme excitements of party spirit; the factious opposition and pernicious excesses to which they inevitably tend, until by degrees they gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns his disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

He warns those who are to administer the government after him, "to confine themselves within their respective constitutional spheres, refraining, in the exercise of the powers of one department,[Pg 209] to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all the departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, real despotism."

He inculcates, with the most earnest eloquence, a regard to religion and morality.

"Of all the dispositions and habits," he says, "which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them. A volume could not trace all their connections with private and public felicity. Let it be simply added, where is the security for property, for reputation, for life, if the sense of religious obligation desert the oaths which are the instruments of investigation in courts of justice? And let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be attained without religion. Whatever may be conceded to a refined education, or minds of peculiar cast, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in the exclusion of religious principles."

He recommends the general diffusion of knowledge among all classes of the people. "Promote, then," he says, "as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened."

He recommends the practice of justice and good faith, and the cultivation of the relations of peace with all mankind, as not only enforced by the obligations of religion and morality, but by all the maxims of sound policy. For the purpose of a successful pursuit of this great object, he cautions his fellow-citizens against the indulgence of undue partiality or prejudice in favor or against any nation whatever, as leading to weak sacrifices on one hand, senseless hostility on the other.

Most emphatically does he warn them against the wiles of foreign influence, the fatal enemy of all the ancient republics. He enjoins a watchful jealousy of all equally impartial, otherwise[Pg 210] it may only lead to the suspicion of visionary dangers on one hand and wilful blindness on the other.

Then, after recommending a total abstinence from all political alliances with the nations of Europe; a due regard to the national faith toward public creditors; suitable establishments for the defence of the country, that we may not be tempted to rely on foreign aid, and which will never be afforded, in all probability without the price of great sacrifices on the part of the nation depending on the hollow friendship of jealous rivals, he concludes this admirable address, which ought to be one of the early lessons of every youth of our country, in the following affecting words:

"Though in reviewing the incidents of my administration, I am unconscious of international error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my defects not to think it probable that I may have committed many errors. Whatever they may be, I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils of which they may tend. I shall always carry with me the hope that my country will never cease to view them with indulgence, and that after forty-five years of a life dedicated to its service, with an upright zeal, the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of rest.

"Relying on its kindness in this as in all things, and actuated by that fervent love toward it which is so natural to a man who views it as the native soil of himself and his progenitors for several generations, I anticipate with pleasing expectations that retreat in which I promise myself to realize, without alloy, the sweet enjoyment of partaking in the midst of my fellow-citizens the benign influence of good laws under a free government, the ever-favorite object of my heart, and the happy reward, as I trust, of our mutual cares, labors, and dangers."

On March 4, 1797, he bade a last farewell to public life. Those who have read in history the struggles of ambitious men for power, and have seen them in every age and country involving whole nations in the horrors of civil strife, only for the worthless privilege of choosing a master, will do well to mark the conduct of Washington on this occasion. He waited only in Philadelphia to congratulate his successor and pay respect to the choice of the people in the person of Mr. Adams. He entered the Senate[Pg 211] chamber as a private citizen, and, while every eye glistened at thus seeing him, perhaps for the last time, grasped the hand of the new President, wished that his administration might prove as happy for himself as for his country, and, bowing to the assemblage, retired unattended as he came.

As he was hailed with blessings on entering, so was he greeted with blessings when he quitted forever, the Presidential chair. He came from his retirement at Mount Vernon accompanied by joyful acclamations of welcome, and he was followed thither by the love and veneration of millions of grateful people. Blessed, and thrice blessed, is he who closes a life of honest fame in such a dignified and happy repose; fortunate the nation that can boast of such an example, and still more fortunate the children who can call him "Father of their Country."

[Pg 212]


a.d. 1789


In the scenes of blood and terror which accompanied it, and in the dramatic episodes and strange actors appearing upon its stage—in these respects, if not in the calculable effects of the uprising on France and the world, the French Revolution was the most extraordinary outbreak of modern times.

Matters in France at this time, or during the next few years, might have taken a very different course had not the Eastern powers of Europe been absorbed in their own quarrels, which culminated in the final "scramble for Polish territory." As it was, France was left through the early years of the Revolution to struggle with her own affairs.

Under Louis XV, loved at the beginning of his reign, execrated by his people at its close, France had fallen into bankruptcy and disgrace. The monarchy was weakened through its head. Louis determined that it should live as long as he survived; he cared nothing for its future. The peasantry of France at this time had become keenly alive to the wrongs under which they had long suffered in comparative silence. The disfranchised bourgeois, or middle class, had lately grown in wealth and now thought more about their political rights. The "common" people were staggering under the burden of taxation, from which the privileged nobility and clergy were largely exempt.

The intellectual life of France during the second half of the eighteenth century was profoundly affected by the literature of the period, especially by the radical and revolutionary writings of Voltaire, Rousseau, and their followers, and in many things the extreme views of these men seemed to find confirmation in the calmer reasonings of Montesquieu on the powers and limitations of governments. Democratic ideas were in the air, and all except the privileged classes were ready for general revolt. Frenchmen returning from America reported the successful working of the new order of things inaugurated by the Revolution there, and this gave stronger impulse to the revolutionary tendency in France.

When the well-meaning but weak-willed Louis XVI came to the throne he found himself confronted with conditions before which a far abler monarch might well have quailed. How the storm broke upon him, and began its sweep over the kingdom which he was set to rule, is told[Pg 213] by Hazlitt without the rhetorical flourishes indulged by many writers on this subject, but with clear narration and philosophic judgment of the facts recounted.

Louis XVI succeeded to the throne of France in 1774, and soon after married Marie Antoinette, a daughter of the house of Austria. She was young, beautiful, and thoughtless. In her the pride of birth was strengthened and rendered impatient of the least restraint by the pride of sex and beauty; and all three together were instrumental in hastening the downfall of the monarchy. Devoted to the licentious pleasures of a court, she looked both from education and habit on the homely comforts of the people with disgust or indifference, and regarded the distress and poverty which stood in the way of her dissipation with incredulity or loathing.[33] Louis XVI himself, though a man of good intentions, and free, in a remarkable degree, from the common vices of his situation, had not firmness of mind to resist the passions and importunity of others, and, in addition to the extravagance, petulance, and extreme counsels of the Queen, fell a victim to the intrigues and officious interference of those about him, who had neither the wisdom nor spirit to avert those dangers and calamities which they had provoked by their rashness, presumption, and obstinacy.

The want of economy in the court, or a maladministration of the finances, first occasioned pecuniary difficulties to the Government, for which a remedy was in vain sought by a succession of ministers, Necker, Calonne, Maupeou, and by the Parliament. Considerable embarrassment and uneasiness began to be felt[Pg 214] throughout the kingdom when in 1787 the King undertook to convoke the States-General, as alone competent to meet the emergency, and to confer on other topics of the highest consequence, which were at this time agitated with general anxiety and interest. The necessity of raising the supplies to defray the expenses of government was indeed only made the handle to introduce and enforce other more important and widely extended plans of reform.

For some time past the public mind had been growing critical and fastidious with the progress of civilization and letters; the monarchy, as it existed at the period "with all its imperfections on its head," had been weighed in the balance of reason and opinion, and found wanting; and a favorable opportunity was only required, and the first that presented itself was eagerly seized to put in practice what had been already resolved upon in theory by the wits, philosophers, and philanthropists of the eighteenth century. From the first calling together the general council of the nation to deliberate and determine for the public good, in the then prevailing ferment of the popular feeling and with the predisposing causes, not a measure of finance was to be looked to, but a revolution became inevitable. All the cahiers, or instructions given to the deputies by the great mass of their constituents, show that the kingdom at large was ripe for a material change in its civil and political institutions, and for the most part point out the individual grievances which were afterward done away with.

The States-General met at Versailles on May 5, 1789. They consisted of the representatives of the nobility, of the clergy, and of the Tiers État or people in general, the number of the last having been doubled in order to equal that of the other two. They heard mass the evening before at the Church of St. Louis, in the same dresses, and with the same forms and order of precedence as in 1614, the last time they had ever been assembled. The King opened the sitting with a speech which gave little satisfaction, as it dwelt chiefly on the liquidation of the debt and the unsettled state of the public mind, and did not go into those general measures on which the views of the assembly were bent and from which alone relief was expected. The first question which divided opinion and led to a conflict was that regarding the vote by head or by order. By the first mode, that of counting voices,[Pg 215] the commons would be numerically on a par with the privileged classes; by the latter, their opponents would always have the advantage of two to one. In order to keep this advantage, and prevent that reform of abuses which the Third Estate was supposed to have principally at heart, the Court did all it could to separate the different orders, first by adhering to etiquette, afterward by means of intrigue, and in the end by force.

On the day following the meeting, the deputies of the three estates were called upon to verify their powers, which the nobles and clergy wished to do apart; but the commons refused to take any steps toward this object, except conjointly, or as a general legislative body. This led to various overtures and discussions, which lasted for several weeks. The Court offered its mediation; but the nobles giving a peremptory refusal to come to any compromise, at the motion of the Abbé Sieyès, the Third Estate, after in vain inviting the two others to join them, constituted themselves into a national assembly.

This was the first act of the Revolution, or the first occasion on which a part of a given body of individuals took upon them to decide for the rest, from the urgency and magnitude of the case, without the consent of their coadjutors, and contrary to established rules. It was a stroke of state necessity, to be defended not by the forms but by the essence of justice, and by the great ends of human society. The usurpation of a discretionary and illegal power was clear, but nothing could be done without it, everything with it. Yet so strong and natural is the prejudice against every appearance of what is violent and arbitrary, that serious attempts were made to reconcile the letter with the spirit of justice in this instance, and to prove that the Tiers État, being the representatives of the nation, and the nation being everything, the nobility and clergy were included in it and had nothing to complain of. It is not worth while to answer this sophistry. The truth is that the Third Estate erected themselves from parties concerned into framers of the law and judges of the reason of the case, and must themselves be judged, not by precedent and tradition, but by posterity, to whom, from the scale on which they acted, the benefit or the injury of their departure from common and worn-out forms will reach. Acts that supersede old established rules and create a new era in human affairs are to be[Pg 216] approved or condemned by what comes after, not by what has gone before, them.

This first independent and spirited step on the part of the commons produced a reaction on the part of the Court. They shut up the place of sitting. The King had been prevailed on to consent to hostile measures against the popular side during an excursion to Marly with the Queen and princes of the blood. Bailly, afterward mayor of Paris, had been chosen president of the new National Assembly, and, arriving with other members, and finding the doors of the hall shut against them, they repaired to the Jeu de Paumes ("Tennis-court") at Versailles, followed by the people and soldiers in crowds, and there, enclosed by bare walls, with heads uncovered, and a strong and spontaneous burst of enthusiasm, made a solemn vow, with the exception of only one person present, never to separate till they had given France a constitution.

This memorable and decisive event took place on June 20th. On the 23d the King came to the Church of St. Louis, whither they had been compelled to remove, and where they were joined by a considerable number of the clergy; addressed them in a tone of authority and reprimand, treated them as simply the Tiers État, pointed out certain partial reforms which he approved, and which he enjoined them to effect in conjunction with the other orders, or threatened to dissolve them and take the whole management of the government upon himself, and ended with a command that they should separate. The nobles and the clergy obeyed; the deputies of the people remained firm, immovable, silent.

Mirabeau then started from his seat and appealed to the Assembly in that mixed style of the academician and the demagogue which characterized his eloquence. The words are worth repeating here, both as a sample of the unqualified tone of the period and on account of the fierce and personal attack on the King, whom he stigmatizes by a sort of nickname. "Gentlemen, I acknowledge that what you have just heard might be a pledge of the welfare of the country, if the offers of despotism were not always dangerous. What is the meaning of this insolent dictation, the array of arms, the violation of the national temple, merely to command you to be happy? Who gives you this command?[Pg 217] your Mandatory ['deputy']. Who imposes his imperious laws? your Mandatory, he who ought to receive them from you; from us, gentlemen, who are invested with an inviolable political priesthood; from us, in short, to whom, and to whom alone, twenty-five millions of men look up for a happiness insured by its being agreed upon, given, and received by all. But the freedom of your deliberations is suspended: a military force surrounds the Assembly! Where are the enemies of the nation, that this outrage should be attempted? Is Catiline at our gates? I demand that in asserting the claims of your insulted dignity, of your legislative power, you arm yourselves with the sanctity of your oath: it does not permit us to separate till we have achieved the constitution."

From this unbridled effusion of bombast, affectation, and real passion two things are evident: first, that the designs of the Court were already looked upon as altogether hostile and alien to the patriotic side; secondly, that the Assembly, from the beginning, felt in themselves the strong and undoubted conviction of their being called to the task of removing the abuses of power and regenerating the hopes of a mighty people. The die was cast, the lists were marked out in the opinions and sentiments of the two parties toward each other. The grand master of the ceremonies of this occasion, seeing that the Assembly did not break up, reminded them of the command of the King. "Go tell your master," cried Mirabeau, "that we are here by order of the people; and that we shall not retire but at the point of the bayonet." This was at once an invitation to violence and a defiance of authority. Sieyès added, with his customary coolness: "You are to-day in the same situation that you were yesterday; let us deliberate!" The Assembly immediately confirmed its former resolutions, and, at the instance of Mirabeau, decreed the inviolability of its members.

Such was at one time the brilliant, daring, and forward zeal of a man who not long after sold himself to the Court: so little has flashy eloquence or bold pretension to do with steadiness of principle! Indeed, the Revolution, of which he was one of the most prominent leaders, presented too many characters of this kind—dazzling, ardent, wavering, corrupt—a succession of momentary fires, made of light and worthless materials, soon kindled[Pg 218] and soon exhausted, and requiring some new fuel to repair them: nothing deep, internal, relying on its own resources—"outliving fortunes outward with a mind that doth renew swifter than blood decays"—but a flame rash and violent, fanned by circumstances, kept alive by vanity, smothered by sordid interest, and wandering from object to object in search of the most contemptible and contradictory excitement! We may also remark, in the debates and proceedings of this early period, the fevered and anxious state of the public mind; while galling and intolerable abuses, called in question for the first time and defended with blind confidence, were exposed in the most naked and flagrant point of view; and the drapery of forms and circumstances was torn from rank and power with sarcastic petulance or a ruthless logic.

The resistance of the Assembly alarmed the Court, who did not, however, as yet dare to proceed against it. Necker, who had disapproved of the royal interference, and whose dismission had been determined on in the morning, was the same night entreated both by the King and Queen to stay. On the next meeting of the Assembly a large portion of the clergy again repaired to their place of sitting; and four days after, forty members of the noblesse joined them, with the Duke of Orléans at their head. The conduct of this nobleman, all through the Revolution, was in my opinion uncalled for, indecent, and profligate, and his fate not unmerited. Persons situated as he was cannot take a decided part one way or the other, without doing violence either to the dictates of reason and justice or to all their natural sentiments, unless they are characters of that heroic stamp as to be raised above suspicion or temptation: the only way for all others is to stand aloof from a struggle in which they have no alternative but to commit a parricide on their country or their friends, and to await the issue in silence and at a distance.

The people should not ask the aid of their lordly taskmasters to shake off their chains; nor can they ever expect to have it cordial and entire. No confidence can be placed in those excesses of public principle which are founded on the sacrifice of every private affection and of habitual self-esteem! The Court, soon after this reënforcement to the popular party, came forward of its own accord to request the attendance of the dissentient orders, which took place on June 27th; and after some petty ebullitions[Pg 219] of jealousy and contests for precedence, the Assembly became general, and all distinctions were lost.

The King's secret advisers were, however, by no means reconciled to this new triumph over ancient privilege and existing authority, and meditated a reprisal by removing the Assembly farther from Paris, and there dissolving, if it could not overawe them. For this purpose the troops were collected from all parts; Versailles, where the Assembly sat, was like a camp; Paris looked as if it were in a state of siege. These extensive military preparations, the trains of artillery arriving every hour from the frontier, with the presence of the foreign regiments, occasioned great suspicion and alarm; and on the motion of Mirabeau, the Assembly sent an address to the King, respectfully urging him to remove the troops from the neighborhood of the capital; but this he declined doing, hinting at the same time that they might retire, if they chose, to Noyon or Soissons, thus placing themselves at the disposal of the Crown, and depriving themselves of the aid of the people.

Paris was in a state of extreme agitation. This immense city was unanimous in its devotedness to the Assembly. A capital is at all times, and Paris was then more particularly, the natural focus of a revolution. To this many causes contribute. The actual presence of the monarch dissipates the illusions of royalty; and he is no longer, as in the distant province or petty village, an abstraction of power and majesty, another name for all that is great and exalted, but a common mortal, one man among a million of men, perhaps one of the meanest of his race. Pageants and spectacles may impose on the crowd; but a weak or haughty look undoes the effect, and leads to disadvantageous reflections on the title to or the good resulting from all this display of pomp and magnificence. From being the seat of the court, its vices are better known, its meannesses are more talked of.[34] In the number and distraction of passing objects and interests, the present occupies the mind alone—the chain of antiquity is broken, and custom loses its force. Men become "flies of a summer." Opinion[Pg 220] has here many ears, many tongues, and many hands to work with. The slightest whisper is rumored abroad, and the roar of the multitude breaks down the prison or the palace gates. They are seldom brought to act together but in extreme cases; nor is it extraordinary that, in such cases, the conduct of the people is violent, from the consciousness of transient power, its impatience of opposition, its unwieldy bulk and loose texture, which cannot be kept within nice bounds or stop at half-measure.

Nothing could be more critical or striking than the situation of Paris at this moment. Everything betokened some great and decisive change. Foreign bayonets threatened the inhabitants from without, famine within. The capitalists dreaded a bankruptcy; the enlightened and patriotic the return of absolute power; the common people threw all the blame on the privileged classes. The press inflamed the public mind with innumerable pamphlets and invectives against the government, and the journals regularly reported the proceedings and debates of the Assembly. Everywhere in the open air, particularly in the Palais-Royal, groups were formed, where they read and harangued by turns. It was in consequence of a proposal made by one of the speakers in the Palais-Royal that the prison of the Abbaye was forced open and some grenadiers of the French Guards, who had been confined for refusing to fire upon the people, were set at liberty and led out in triumph.

Paris was in this state of excitement and apprehension when the Court, having first stationed a number of troops at Versailles, at Sèvres, at the Champ-de-Mars, and at St. Denis, commenced offensive measures by the complete change of all the ministers and by the banishment of Necker. The latter, on Saturday, July 11th, while he was at dinner, received a note from the King, enjoining him to quit the kingdom without a moment's delay. He calmly finished his dinner, without saying a word of the order he had received, and immediately after got into his carriage with his wife and took the road to Brussels. The next morning the news of his disgrace reached Paris. The whole city was in a tumult: above ten thousand persons were, in a short time, collected in the garden of the Palais-Royal. A young man of the name of Camille Desmoulins, one of the habitual and most enthusiastic haranguers of the crowd, mounted on a table and[Pg 221] cried out that "there was not a moment to lose; that the dismission of Necker was the signal for the St. Bartholomew of liberty; that the Swiss and German regiments would presently issue from the Champ-de-Mars to massacre the citizens; and that they had but one resource left, which was to resort to arms." And the crowd, tearing each a green leaf, the color of hope, from the chestnut-trees in the garden, which were nearly laid bare, and wearing it as a badge, traversed the streets of Paris, with the busts of Necker and of the Duke of Orléans, who was also said to be arrested, covered with crape and borne in solemn pomp.

They had proceeded in this manner as far as the Place Vendôme, when they were met by a party of the Royal Allemand, whom they put to flight by pelting them with stones; but at the Place Louis XV they were assailed by the dragoons of the Prince of Lambesc; the bearer of one of the busts and a private of the French Guards were killed; the mob fled into the Garden of the Tuileries, whither the Prince followed them at the head of his dragoons, and attacked a number of persons who knew nothing of what was passing, and were walking quietly in the gardens. In the scuffle, an old man was wounded; the confusion as well as the resentment of the people became general; and there was but one cry, "To arms!" to be heard throughout the Tuileries, the Palais-Royal, in the city, and the suburbs.

The French Guards had been ordered to their quarters in the Chaussée-d'Antin, where sixty of Lambesc's dragoons were posted opposite to watch them. A dispute arose, and it was with much difficulty they were prevented from coming to blows. But when the former learned that one of their comrades had been slain, their indignation could no longer be restrained; they rushed out, killed two of the foreign soldiers, wounded three others, and the rest were forced to fly. They then proceeded to the Place Louis XV, where they stationed themselves between the people and the troops, and guarded this position the whole of the night. The soldiers in the Champ-de-Mars were then ordered to attack them, but refused to fire, and were remanded back to their quarters.

The defection of the French Guards, with the repugnance of[Pg 222] the other troops to march against the capital, put a stop for the present to the projects of the Court. In the mean time the populace had assembled at the Hôtel de Ville, and loudly demanded the sounding of the tocsin and the arming of the citizens. Several highly respectable individuals also met here, and did much good in repressing a spirit of violence and mischief. They could not, however, effect everything. A number of disorderly people and of workmen out of employ, without food or place of abode, set fire to the barriers, infested the streets, and pillaged several houses in the night between the 12th and 13th.

The departure of Necker, which had excited such a sensation in the capital, produced as deep an impression at Versailles and on the Assembly, who manifested surprise and indignation, but not dejection. Lally Tollendal pronounced a formal eulogium on the exiled minister. After one or two displays of theatrical vehemence, which is inseparable from French enthusiasm and eloquence, they despatched a deputation to the King, informing him of the situation and troubles of Paris, and praying him to dismiss the troops and intrust the defence of the capital to the city militia. The deputation received an answer which amounted to a repulse. The Assembly now perceived that the designs of the Court party were irrevocably fixed, and that it had only itself to rely upon. It instantly voted the responsibility of the ministers and of all the advisers of the Crown, "of whatsoever rank or degree."

This last clause was pointed at the Queen, whose influence was greatly dreaded. They then, from an apprehension that the doors might be closed during the night in order to dissolve the Assembly, declared their sittings permanent. A vice-president was chosen, to lessen the fatigue of the Archbishop of Vienne. The choice fell upon Lafayette. In this manner a part of the Assembly sat up all night. It passed without deliberation, the deputies remaining on their seats, silent, but calm and serene. What thoughts must have revolved through the minds of those present on this occasion! Patriotism and philosophy had here taken up their sanctuary. If we consider their situation; the hopes that filled their breasts; the trials they had to encounter; the future destiny of their country, of the world, which hung on[Pg 223] their decision as in a balance; the bitter wrongs they were about to sweep away; the good they had it in their power to accomplish—the countenances of the Assembly must have been majestic, and radiant with the light that through them was about to dawn on ages yet unborn. They might foresee a struggle, the last convulsive efforts of pride and power to keep the world in its wonted subjection—but that was nothing—their final triumph over all opposition was assured in the eternal principles of justice and in their own unshaken devotedness to the great cause of mankind! If the result did not altogether correspond to the intentions of those firm and enlightened patriots who so nobly planned it, the fault was not in them, but in others.

At Paris the insurrection had taken a more decided turn. Early in the morning the people assembled in large bodies at the Hôtel de Ville; the tocsin sounded from all the churches; the drums beat to summon the citizens together, who formed themselves into different bands of volunteers. All that they wanted was arms. These, except a few at the gunsmiths' shops, were not to be had. They then applied to M. de Flesselles, a provost of the city, who amused them with fair words. "My children," he said, "I am your father!" This paternal style seems to have been the order of the day. A committee sat at the Hôtel de Ville to take measures for the public safety. Meanwhile a granary had been broken open: the Garde-Meuble had been ransacked for old arms; the armorers' shops were plundered; all was a scene of confusion, and the utmost dismay everywhere prevailed. But no private mischief was done. It was a moment of popular frenzy, but one in which the public danger and the public good overruled every other consideration. The grain which had been seized, the carts loaded with provisions, with plate or furniture, and stopped at the barriers, were all taken to the Grève as a public depot.

The crowd incessantly repeated the cry for arms, and were pacified by an assurance that thirty thousand muskets would speedily arrive from Charleville. The Duc d'Aumont was invited to take the command of the popular troops; and on hesitating, the Marquis of Salle was nominated in his stead. The green cockade was exchanged for one of red and blue, the colors of the city. A quantity of powder was discovered, as it[Pg 224] was about to be conveyed beyond the barriers; and the cases of fire-arms promised from Charleville turned out, on inspection, to be filled with old rags and logs of wood. The rage and impatience of the multitude now became extreme. Such perverse, trifling, and barefaced duplicity would be unaccountable anywhere else; but in France they pay with promises; and the provost, availing himself of the credulity of his audience, promised them still more arms at the Chartreux. To prevent a repetition of the excesses of the mob, Paris was illuminated at night and a patrol paraded the streets.

The following day, the people being deceived as to the convoy of arms that was to arrive from Charleville, and having been equally disappointed in those at the Chartreux, broke into the Hospital of Invalids, in spite of the troops stationed in the neighborhood, and carried off a prodigious number of stands of arms concealed in the cellars. An alarm had been spread in the night that the regiment quartered at St. Denis was on its way to Paris, and that the cannon of the Bastille had been pointed in the direction of the street of St. Antoine. This information, the dread which this fortress inspired, the recollection of the horrors which had been perpetrated there, its very name, which appalled all hearts and made the blood run cold, the necessity of wresting it from the hands of its old and feeble possessors, drew the attention of the multitude to this hated spot. From nine in the morning of the memorable July 14th, till two, Paris from one end to the other rang with the same watchword: "To the Bastille! To the Bastille!" The inhabitants poured there in throngs from all quarters, armed with different weapons; the crowd that already surrounded it was considerable; the sentinels were at their posts, and the drawbridges raised as in war-time.

A deputy from the district of St. Louis de la Culture, Thuriot de la Rosière, then asked to speak with the governor, M. Delaunay. Being admitted into his presence, he required that the direction of the cannon should be changed. Three guns were pointed against the entrance, though the governor pretended that everything remained in the state in which it had always been. About forty Swiss and eighty Invalids garrisoned the place, from whom he obtained a promise not to fire on the people unless they[Pg 225] were themselves attacked. His companions began to be uneasy and called loudly for him. To satisfy them, he showed himself on the ramparts, from whence he could see an immense multitude flocking from all parts, and the Faubourg St. Antoine advancing as it were in a mass. He then returned to his friends and gave them what tidings he had collected.

But the crowd, not satisfied, demanded the surrender of the fortress. From time to time the angry cry was repeated: "Down with the Bastille!" Two men, more determined than the rest, pressed forward, attacked a guard-house, and attempted to break down the chains of the bridge with the blows of an axe. The soldiers called out to them to fall back, threatening to fire if they did not. But they repeated their blows, shattered the chains, and lowered the drawbridge, over which they rushed with the crowd. They threw themselves upon the second bridge, in the hopes of making themselves masters of it in the same manner, when the garrison fired and dispersed them for a few minutes. They soon, however, returned to the charge; and for several hours, during a murderous discharge of musketry, and amid heaps of the wounded and dying, renewed the attack with unabated courage and obstinacy, led on by two brave men, Elie and Hulia, their rage and desperation being inflamed to a pitch of madness by the scene of havoc around them. Several deputations arrived from the Hôtel de Ville to offer terms of accommodation; but in the noise and fury of the moment they could not make themselves heard, and the storming continued as before.

The assault had been carried on in this manner with inextinguishable rage and great loss of blood to the besiegers, though with little progress made, for above four hours, when the arrival of the French Guards with cannon altered the face of things. The garrison urged the governor to surrender. The wretched Delaunay, dreading the fate which awaited him, wanted to blow up the place and bury himself under the ruins, and was advancing for this purpose with a lighted match in his hand toward the powder-magazine, but was prevented by the soldiers, who planted the white flag on the platform, and reversed their arms in token of submission. This was not enough for those without. They demanded with loud and reiterated cries to have the drawbridges let down; and on an assurance being given that no harm was[Pg 226] intended, the bridges were lowered and the assailants tumultuously rushed in. The endeavors of their leaders could not save the governor or a number of the soldiers, who were seized on by the infuriated multitude, and put to death for having fired on their fellow-citizens.

Thus fell the Bastille; and the shout that accompanied its downfall was echoed through Europe, and men rejoiced that "the grass grew where the Bastille stood!" Earth was lightened of a load that oppressed it, nor did this ghastly object any longer startle the sight, like an ugly spider lying in wait for its accustomed prey, and brooding in sullen silence over the wrongs which it had the will, though not the power, to inflict.

[The Bastille was taken about a quarter before six o'clock in the evening (Tuesday, July 14th), after a four-hours' attack. Only one cannon was fired from the fortress, and only one person was killed among the besieged. The garrison consisted of 82 Invalids, 2 cannoneers, and 32 Swiss. Of the assailants, 83 were killed on the spot, 60 were wounded, of whom 15 died of their wounds, and 13 were disabled. A great many barrels of gunpowder had been conveyed here from the arsenal, in the night between the 12th and 13th. Delaunay, the governor, was killed on the steps of the Hôtel de Ville, as also Delosme, the mayor. Only seven prisoners were found in the Bastille; four of these, Pujade, Bechade, La Roche, and La Caurege, were for forgery. M. de Solages was put in in 1782, at the desire of his father, since which time every communication from without was carefully withheld from him. He did not know the smallest event that had taken place in all that time, and was told by the turnkey, when he heard the firing of the cannon, that it was owing to a riot about the price of bread. M. Tavernier, a bastard son of Paris Duverney, had been confined ever since August 4, 1759. The last prisoner was a Mr. White, who went mad, and it could never be discovered who or what he was: by the name he must have been English.

When Lord Albemarle was ambassador at Paris, in the year 1753, he by mere accident caught a sight of the list of persons confined in the Bastille, lying on the table of the French minister, with the name of Gordon at their head. Being struck with the circumstance, he inquired into the meaning of it; but the French minister could give no account of it; and on the prisoner himself being released and sent for, he could only state that he had been confined there thirty years, but had not the slightest knowledge or suspicion of the cause for which he had been arrested. Nor is this wonderful, when we consider that lettres de cachet were sold, with blanks left for the names to be filled up at the pleasure or malice of the purchasers.

If it was only to prevent the recurrence of one such instance (with the feeling in society at once shrinking from and tamely acquiescing in it),[Pg 227] the Revolution was well purchased. When the crowd gained possession of this loathsome spot, they eagerly poured into every corner and turning of it, went down into the lowest dungeons with a breathless curiosity and horror, knocking with sledge-hammers at their triple portals, and breaking down and destroying everything in their way. The stones and devices on the battlements were torn off and thrown into the ditch, and the papers and documents were at the same time unfortunately destroyed.

A low range of dungeons was discovered underground, close to the moat; and so contrived that, if those within had forced a passage through, they would have let in the water of the ditch and been suffocated. In one of these a skeleton was found hanging to an iron cramp in the wall. In reading the accounts of the demolition of this building, one feels that indignation should have melted the stone walls like flax, and that the dungeons should have given up their dead to assist the living!

The Bastille was begun in 1370, in Charles V's time, by one Hugh Abriot, provost of the city, who was afterward shut up in it in 1381. It at first consisted only of two towers: two more were added by Charles VI, and four more in 1383. Two days after it was taken, it was ordered by the National Assembly to be razed to the ground, and in May, 1790, not a trace of it was left.—Ed.]

The stormers of the Bastille arrived at the Place de la Grève, rending the air with shouts of victory. They marched on to the great hall of the Hôtel de Ville, in all the terrific and unusual pomp of a popular triumph. Such of them as had displayed most courage and ardor were borne on the shoulders of the rest, crowned with laurel. They were escorted up the hall by near two thousand of the populace, their eyes flaming, their hair in wild disorder, variously accoutred, pressing tumultuously on each other, and making the heavy floors almost crack beneath their footsteps. One bore the keys and flag of the Bastille, another the regulations of the prison brandished on the point of a bayonet; a third—a thing horrible to relate!—held in his bloody fingers the buckle of the governor's stock. In this order it was that they entered the Hôtel de Ville to announce their victory to the Committee, and to decide on the fate of their remaining prisoners, who, in spite of the impatient cries to give no quarter, were rescued by the exertions of the commandant La Salle, Moreau de St. Mery, and the intrepid Elie.

Then came the turn of the despicable Flesselles, that caricature of vapid, frothy impertinence, who thought he could baffle the roaring tiger with grimace and shallow excuses. "To the Palais-Royal[Pg 228] with him!" was the word; and he answered with callous indifference, "Well, to the Palais-Royal if you will." He was hemmed in by the crowd and borne along without any violence being offered him to the place of destination; but at the corner of the Quai le Pelletier an unknown hand approached him and stretched him lifeless on the spot with a pistol-shot. During the night succeeding this eventful day Paris was in the greatest agitation, hourly expecting, in consequence of the statements of intercepted letters, an attack from the troops. Every preparation was made to defend the city. Barricades were formed, the streets unpaved, pikes forged, the women piled stones on the tops of houses to hurl them down on the heads of the soldiers, and the National Guard occupied the outposts.

While all this was passing, and before it became known at Versailles, the Court was preparing to carry into effect its designs against the Assembly and the capital. The night between the 14th and 15th was fixed upon for their execution. The new minister, Breteuil, had promised to reëstablish the royal authority within three days. Marshal Broglie, who commanded the army round Paris, was invested with unlimited powers. The Assembly, it was agreed upon, were to be dissolved, and forty thousand copies of a proclamation to this effect were ready to be circulated throughout the kingdom. The rising of the populace was supposed to be a temporary evil, and it was thought to the last moment an impossibility that a mob of citizens should resist an army. The Assembly was duly apprised of all these projects. It sat for two days in a state of constant inquietude and alarm. The news from Paris was doubtful. A firing of cannon was supposed to be heard, and persons anxiously placed their ears to the ground to listen. The escape of the King was also expected, as a carriage had been kept in readiness, and the bodyguard had not pulled off their boots for several days.

In the orangery belonging to the palace, meat and wine had been distributed among the foreign troops to encourage and spirit them up. The Viscount of Noailles and another deputy, Wimpfen, brought word of the latest events in the capital, and of the increasing violence of the people. Couriers were despatched every half-hour to gather intelligence. Deputations waited on the King to lay before him the progress of the insurrection, but he[Pg 229] still gave evasive and unsatisfactory answers. In the night of the 14th the Duke of Liancourt had informed Louis XVI of the taking of the Bastille and the massacre of the garrison on the preceding day. "It is a revolt!" exclaimed the monarch, taken by surprise. "No, sire, it is a revolution," was the answer.


[33] Edmund Burke passed a splendid and well-known eulogium on the beauty and accomplishments of the Queen, and it was in part the impression which her youthful charms had left in his mind that threw the casting-weight of his talents and eloquence into the scale of opposition to the French Revolution. I have heard another very competent judge, Mr. Northcote, describe her entering a small anteroom, where he stood, with her large hoop sideways, and gliding by him from one end to the other with a grace and lightness as if borne on a cloud. It was possibly to "this air with which she trod or rather disdained the earth," as if descended from some higher sphere, that she owed the indignity of being conducted to a scaffold. Personal grace and beauty cannot save their possessors from the fury of the multitude, more than from the raging elements, though they may inspire that pride and self-opinion which expose them to it.

[34] It was observed that almost all the greatest cruelties of the Reign of Terror were resolved on by committees of persons who had been in the immediate employment of the great, and had suffered by their caprice and insolence.

[Pg 230]


a.d. 1791


Through the founding of the first Bank of the United States, which existed from 1791 to 1811, and was succeeded by another national bank in 1817, the monetary affairs of the Republic, under Hamilton's able administration, were placed upon a sounder basis, and the transaction of public business was greatly facilitated.

During the seventeenth century Indian money (wampum) was much used by the colonists, especially in their trade with the Indians. For a long time it was a legal tender in common with other currencies. The earliest American coinage is said to date from 1612. In Massachusetts, the "pine-tree" money—silver coins bearing the emblem of a pine-tree—was used from 1652 to 1686. Soon began the issue of various paper moneys in the colonies, and the establishment of banks under the colonial governments. The "Continental currency" of the Revolution, first issued in 1775 by authority of the Continental Congress, began to depreciate almost as soon as it appeared, and in 1780 ceased to circulate.

In 1780 the Pennsylvania Bank, in Philadelphia, began to assist the Government, and rendered useful service until 1784. But the need of a national bank had already become evident. Robert Morris, Superintendent of Finance for the United States, secured the organization, at Philadelphia, of the Bank of North America, with a capital of four hundred thousand dollars. It was incorporated by Congress in December, 1781, and soon after by the State of Pennsylvania. Its success led to the founding of the Bank of New York in 1784.

On the organization of the Government under the Federal Constitution, the genius of Alexander Hamilton was called into service for the work of constructive statesmanship. From 1789 to 1795 he was Secretary of the Treasury; and one of his first acts, as shown by Lewis, was the unfolding of a plan which led to the establishment of the first Bank of the United States.

In March, 1789, a great and fortunate change took place in the management of American public affairs. The Constitution of the United States went into operation. A vigorous, responsible executive was conferred upon the country, and an incredible[Pg 231] impulse given to all schemes of national importance. Among those now called upon to take part in the administration of public affairs was Alexander Hamilton. Placed in charge of the Department of the Treasury, he found before him the prodigious task of settling the financial affairs of the United States upon a sure and satisfactory basis. Toward the attainment of this end no measure seemed more important to him than his old and favorite one for the establishment of a national bank. Without loss of time he devised a plan for such an institution which seemed to him practicable, and in 1790 spread before Congress the result of his labors.

"The establishment of banks in this country," says Hamilton in the course of his report, "seems to be recommended by reasons of a peculiar nature. Previously to the Revolution, circulation was in a great measure carried on by paper emitted by the several local governments. This auxiliary may be said to be now at an end. And it is generally supposed that there has been for some time past a deficiency of circulating medium.

"If the supposition of such a deficiency be in any degree founded, and some aid to circulation be desirable, it remains to inquire what ought to be the nature of that aid.

"The emitting of paper money by the authority of government is wisely prohibited to the individual States by the national Constitution; and the spirit of that prohibition ought not be disregarded by the Government of the United States.

"Among other material differences between a paper currency issued by the mere authority of Government, and one issued by a bank, payable in coin, is this: that in the first case there is no standard to which an appeal can be made, as to the quantity which will only satisfy or which will surcharge the circulation; in the last, that standard results from the demand. If more should be issued than is necessary, it will return upon the bank. Its emissions must always be in a compound ratio to the fund and the demand. Whence it is evident that there is a limitation in the nature of the thing; while the discretion of the Government is the only measure of the extent of the emissions by its own authority.

"The payment of the interest of the public debt at thirteen different places is a weighty reason, peculiar to our immediate[Pg 232] situation, for desiring a bank circulation. Without a paper, in general currency, equivalent to gold and silver, a considerable proportion of the specie of the country must always be suspended from circulation, and left to accumulate preparatorily to each day of payment; and as often as one approaches, there must in several cases be an actual transportation of the metals at both expense and risk, from their natural and proper reservoirs, to distant places."

The report then goes on to explain the practical details of the plan proposed.

The measure met generally with popular applause, but there were some who doubted its wisdom. Among other difficulties that were thrown in its path was a suggestion that a new bank was quite unnecessary, since an institution was in existence which owed its origin to national bounty, and which had already, upon more than one occasion, manifested both its readiness and ability to extend a helping hand to the Government. With this objection Hamilton dealt most courteously.

"The aid afforded to the United States," said he, "by the Bank of North America during the remaining period of the war was of essential consequence, and its conduct toward them since the peace has not weakened its title to their patronage and favor. So far its pretensions to the character of a national bank are respectable, but there are circumstances which militate against them and considerations which indicate the propriety of an establishment on different principles.

"The directors of this bank, on behalf of their constituents, have since acted under a new charter from the State of Pennsylvania, materially variant from their original one, and which so narrows the foundation of the institution as to render it an incompetent basis for the extensive purposes of a national bank.

"There is nothing in the acts of Congress which implies an exclusive right in the institution to which they relate, except during the time of the war. There is, therefore, nothing, if the public good require it, which prevents the establishment of another. It may, however, be incidentally remarked that in the general opinion of the citizens of the United States, the Bank of North America has taken the station of a bank of Pennsylvania only. This is a strong argument for a new institution, or for a renovation[Pg 233] of the old, to restore it to the situation in which it originally stood in the view of the United States. But—there may be room to allege that the Government of the United States ought not, in point of candor or equity, to establish any rival or interfering institution in prejudice of the one already established, especially as this has, from services rendered, well-founded claims to protection and regard.

"The justice of this observation ought, within proper bounds, to be admitted. A new establishment of the sort ought not to be made without cogent and sincere reasons of public good. And in the manner of doing it every facility should be given to a consolidation of the old with the new, upon terms not injurious to the parties concerned. But there is no ground to maintain that in a case in which the Government has made no condition restricting its authority, it ought voluntarily to restrict it, through regard to the interests of a particular institution, when those of the State dictate a different course; especially, too, after such circumstances have intervened as characterize the actual situation of the Bank of North America.

"If the objections, which have been stated, to the constitution of the Bank of North America are admitted to be well founded, they, nevertheless, will not derogate from the merit of the main design, or of the services which that bank has rendered, or of the benefits which it has produced. The creation of such an institution, at the time it took place, was a measure dictated by wisdom. Its utility has been amply evinced by its fruits. American independence owes much to it.

"The Secretary begs leave to conclude with this general observation, that if the Bank of North America shall come forward with any propositions which have for their object the ingrafting upon that institution the characteristics which shall appear to the Legislature necessary to the due extent and safety of a national bank, there are, in his judgment, weighty inducements to giving every reasonable facility to the measure. Not only the pretensions of that institution, from its original relation to the Government of the United States, and from the services it has rendered, are such as to claim a disposition favorable to it, if those who are interested in it are willing, on their part, to place it on a footing satisfactory to the Government and equal to the[Pg 234] purposes of a bank of the United States; but its coöperation would naturally accelerate the accomplishment of the great object, and the collision, which might otherwise arise, might, in a variety of ways, prove equally disagreeable and injurious. The incorporation and union here contemplated may be effected in different modes, under the auspices of an act of the United States, if it shall be desired, by the Bank of North America, upon terms which shall appear expedient to the Government."

As far as can be ascertained, however, the management of the bank took no steps in accordance with the suggestions of the report. The quiet and prosperous business in which they were engaged, under State auspices, was to them preferable to the anxieties and hazards which would probably attend the new national undertaking; the scheme of a separate institution was, therefore, rapidly pushed forward, and on February 19, 1791, the first Bank of the United States began its corporate existence.

The Bank of North America now sustained a serious loss in the resignation of its president, Mr. Willing, on January 9, 1792, after a term of service extending over a little more than ten years. He had been chosen to preside over the affairs of the Bank of the United States, a station for which it was justly supposed that his talents and experience eminently qualified him. He was succeeded in office by John Nixon, an almost equally well-known and respected citizen. Born in 1733 of Irish parentage, Mr. Nixon for a number of years did a prosperous business in the city of Philadelphia. He was one of the many signers of the Non-importation Resolutions, and upon the breaking out of the Revolution made himself prominent by his strenuous efforts and warm interest in the national cause. He was a member of the Committee of Safety, and had the honor of first proclaiming to the citizens of Philadelphia the Declaration of Independence. During some portion of the war he did active service, with the rank of colonel, in the Continental Army. He was one of the original subscribers to the bank, and had been a director since 1784. He retained the office of president for seventeen years until his death, which occurred on December 24, 1808.

Meantime the business of the bank was rapidly increasing as the commerce of the country grew. The profits were so great that annual dividends of 12 per cent. were paid to the various[Pg 235] stockholders. Nor did the institution cease to accommodate the public from time to time with loans of considerable extent. During the year 1791 the bank advanced to the Commonwealth, at different times, in all one hundred sixty thousand dollars, and in the following year something over fifty-three thousand dollars.

[Pg 236]



a.d. 1791


Haiti, the Spanish Santo Domingo, earlier called Española, is the largest of the West Indian islands except Cuba. The bloody revolutionary and slave revolts which began in 1791 and ended in the supremacy of the negroes, form the most memorable passages in its history. From 1797 their great leader, Toussaint Louverture, whose achievements are here recounted, was Governor of the whole island, whose independence he proclaimed in 1801. Having afterward opposed Napoleon's attempt to reëstablish slavery, Toussaint was treacherously arrested and sent to France, where, in a dungeon, he died in 1803. But white supremacy was never restored in Haiti.

In 1697 France, by treaty, acquired the western part of the island, the eastern portion remaining in the possession of Spain, which had held it ever since its discovery by Columbus. The French found their Haitian lands very profitable in cotton and sugar, and the western region prospered, while the Spanish community was stagnant. At the outbreak of the French Revolution (1789) the whole island was thrown into a ferment, out of which came the changes that Elliott relates.

At that time the French portion of Haiti had about half a million inhabitants, of whom some forty thousand were of European blood, thirty thousand free negroes, the rest negro slaves. The free colored people, mostly mulattoes, had no voice in the Government, but in 1790 the French National Assembly decreed to those born of free parents full citizenship. Opposition on the part of the whites caused delay in carrying out the decree. Taking advantage of the ensuing commotion, the slaves rose in revolt (August, 1791), and the conditions which Toussaint at length was called upon to meet were inevitably brought about.

This black hero, of whose origin and personality information is given below, has been made the subject of a noble sonnet by Wordsworth, of an equally fine eulogy by Wendell Phillips, of a tragedy by Lamartine, and of a romance, The Hour and the Man, by Harriet Martineau. Auguste Comte, the founder of positivism, placed Toussaint in his new calendar among the great modern liberators—Hampden, Cromwell, Algernon Sidney, Washington, and Bolivar.

[Pg 237]

On August 25, 1791, was the feast of St. Louis. For the week preceding, the planters gathered at Cap François[35] to concert measures against the mulattoes; against the National Assembly; and—to dine. The great men, and the rich, and the brave, were there. It was not a time to drive the slaves; and during that week they "danced" more than before. On the evening of August 23d, the best dishes of the cook Henri, a born prince, whose future no one could suspect, tempted the palates of the born whites. In brave counsels, in denunciations of the mulattoes, in songs for Governor Blanchelande and "Liberty," the time passed, the wine flowed, and hearts swelled. So the shadows of the night stole on. Light! More light! was called for; they threw open the jalousies; curious black faces swarmed about the piazzas—but what meant that dull glare which reached the sultry sky? The party was broken up: they rushed to the windows; they could smell the heavy smoke, they could hear the distant tramp of feet. The band, unbidden, struck up the Marsellaise; it was caught up in the streets; and from mouth to mouth, toward the rich Plain du Nord, passed along the song:

"Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Aux armes! aux armes! pour Liberté!"

Consternation followed the feast. Each man grasped his arms: into the midst of the company rushed a negro covered with dust; panting with heat. He sought his master. Pale with fear and excited with wine, he received him on the point of his sword. As the life and blood flowed he gasped, "O master! O master!" Murmurs of disapprobation filled the room, but it was too late: the hour had come! The slaves had risen. This poor creature had wished to save the man that owned him.

The rebellion broke out on the plantation of Noe, nine miles from Cap François. At midnight the slaves sought the refiner and his apprentice and hewed them in pieces. The overseer they shot. They then proceeded to the house of Mr. Clement: he was killed by his postilion. They proceeded from plantation to plantation murdering the whites; their ranks swelled by crowds of scarred and desperate men who had nothing to lose but life;[Pg 238] and life with slavery was not so sweet as revenge. Everywhere they applied the torch to the sugar-mills—those bastilles, consecrated to the rites of the lash and to forced labor, dumb with fear—and to the cane fields, watered with sweat and blood.

Toward morning crowds of whites came pouring into Cap François, pale, terror-stricken, blood-stained. Men, women, and children found the day of judgment was come: none knew what to do; all was confusion. The signal-gun boomed through the darkness warning of danger, and every man stood to his arms. The inhabitants of the city were paralyzed with fear. They barred their doors and locked up their house-slaves. The only living objects in the streets were a few soldiers marching to their posts. Panic ruled the hour. The Assembly sat through the night. Touzard was sent out to attack the negroes, but was driven back. Guns were mounted, and the streets barricaded.

The morning dawned, and with the rising sun came rising courage. "It is nothing," said some; "burn and hang a few negroes and all will go on as before." The exasperation against the mulattoes, who were charged with having fomented the rising, resulted in hatred, insult, bloodshed and murder in and around Cap François; and a butchery was only stayed by the vigorous opposition of the Governor. Whatever negroes were seized were tortured and massacred. "Frequently," says Lacroix, "did the faithful slave perish by the hands of an irritated master whose confidence he sought."

The maddened negroes had tasted blood. They seized Mr. Blen, an officer of police, nailed him alive to one of the gates of his plantation, and chopped off his limbs with an axe.

M. Cardineau had two sons by a black woman. He had freed them and shown them much kindness; but they belonged to the hated race, and they joined the revolt. The father remonstrated, and offered them money. They took his money and stabbed him to the heart. If they were bastards, who had made them so? "One's pleasant vices often come home to roost." Horrors were piled on horrors: white women were ravished and murdered; black were broken on the wheel: whites were crucified; blacks were burned alive: long pent-up hatreds were having their riot and revenge. M. Odeluc was wrong, then![Pg 239] The slaves did not seem to love their masters. What could it mean?

Pork and bananas: slavery and ignorance; with some, dancing and the free use of the whip seemed to be producing surprising results. The whites could not understand it. Much sugar was raised, and yet the negroes were not satisfied, and now seemed to have gone mad. Destruction hung over the whites, and they concluded to try hanging and burning in their extremity—having no faith in justice and honesty for the blacks. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, owed their safety to the kindness of their house-slaves.

Monsieur and Madame Baillou with their daughter, her husband, and two white servants lived about thirty miles from Cap François, among the mountains. A slave gave them notice of the rising: he hid them in the forest and joined the revolt. At night he brought them food and led them to another place of safety. He did this again and again: led them through every danger and difficulty till they escaped to the sea. For nineteen nights they were in the woods, and the negro risked his life to save theirs. Why repeat instances? This was one of hundreds.

M. Odeluc was the superintendent of the Gallifet estate, the largest on the Plain. "As happy as one of Gallifet's negroes," was a saying in the district. He was sure of his hands, and regretted the exaggerated terror of the whites. With a friend and three or four soldiers he rode out to the estate and found his negroes in arms with the body of a white child for a standard. Alas! poor Odeluc! He believed the negroes were dogs and would lick the hand that struck the blow. It was too late: he and his attendants were cut down without mercy. Two only escaped to tell the tale. Four thousand negroes were in arms and they were everywhere successful. The Plain was in their possession; the quarters of Morin and Limonade were in flames, and their ravages extended from the shore to the mountains. Their recklessness was succeeded by regular organization and systematic war. In the first moments of their headlong fury all whites were murdered indiscriminately. This did not last: they soon distinguished their enemies; and women and children were saved. The blacks were headed by Jean François and Biassou—generals not to be despised. Brave, rapid, unscrupulous; vain of grandeur,[Pg 240] greedy of plunder, they were not far from the marshals of France.

This, then, was not a revolt, but a revolution! Success would decide. Never could the whites believe that the blacks were men. Ogé had revealed a widespread conspiracy, headed by well-known slaves. The whites concealed this. They did not believe him; they believed only that the blacks were their born slaves, fit for the whip, incapable of courage or honor or martyrdom. Experience only was to teach them.

At first the whites acted upon the defensive. The Assembly was rancorous against France in the midst of this destruction, and effaced from behind the Speaker's chair the motto "Vive la Nation, la Loi, et le Roi!" Even when destruction was over them they heeded not: their bickerings continued. The negro generals declared that they were fighting for their King, and against slavery—for a rumor had reached them that Louis favored emancipation. They had the strongest party and the strongest side. At length the whites determined upon a war of extermination. The blacks responded. Heads of whites were stuck on poles around the negro camps. Bodies of negroes swung on gibbets in the white encampments and on trees by the roadside. Within two months two thousand whites and ten thousand blacks perished. Te Deum was sung in both camps and daily thanksgivings were said for what was done. Pale ghosts hovered over them and sighed in the tropical groves; but they could not speak for pity or for justice. The insurrection spread to the southwest, and two thousand mulattoes, headed by Rigaud, rose to revenge the death of some of their comrades; many negroes joined them and they threatened Port au Prince. The colonists were now thoroughly alarmed, and proceeded to try reconciliation. The inhabitants of Port au Prince and Rigaud agreed upon a truce, and the whites admitted that the slaughter of certain mulattoes had been "infamous," and agreed that the civil rights of the mulattoes should be allowed them. At last! Was it not too late?

Governor Blanchelande issued a proclamation earnestly entreating the revolted negroes to lay down their arms and return to their duty. It was too late. They laughed in derision at his small request. What! to slavery and work and degradation[Pg 241] and cruelty, even! They had burst their fetters and stood with arms in their hands. "Will you," they replied to the Governor, "will you, brave General, that we should, like sheep, throw ourselves into the jaws of the wolf? It is too late. It is for us to conquer or die!"

On September 11, 1791, the whites at Port au Prince had consented to the civil rights of the mulattoes. On October 23d the Concordat had been signed; the whites and mulattoes had walked arm in arm through the city and peace seemed possible, when word came that on September 24th the National Assembly at Paris had reversed the decree of May 15th. The mulattoes at once flew to arms, and the struggle between them and the whites went on with increased carnage and cruelty. This continued with varied results through 1792. "You kill mine and I'll kill yours," was the cry. As it had been from the outset, so it continued among the whites: open war between the colonists and the governors; between the people of the North and the South; contention and bitterness, intrigue, treachery. They made head nowhere against the mulattoes; nowhere against the negroes. In December, 1791, three commissioners arrived from France to distract the confusion. They accomplished nothing, and were succeeded in September, 1792, by Santhonax, Polverel, and Ailhaud, ordinary men; not sufficient for so extraordinary a state of things as this.

The hour had come, but not the man. The world waited for him, but none knew where to look; for none believed him to be among the degraded negroes. The old custom of master and slave was broken in pieces, and a nation of men, with no cultivation, with no education in self-government, with none of the conservative strength which hangs about privilege and possession and long-honored habit, were now up, inspired only with a hatred of slavery and vague aspirations for that which they knew not how to name. In this chaotic hour the man who could express this longing for freedom, this need of growth, this aspiration for infinite good—not only in words, but in deeds and in life—was needed: without him all would come to nothing, and the struggle of the blacks would be but a spasm, to end in exhaustion and discouragement; for successful revolutions have been secured by developing, from among the unknown, the known man, around[Pg 242] whom the elements of the new state could gather for new order.

Among the half-million blacks there must be one, and more than one, who could redeem his race; to whom the outcast and despairing might look and take courage and say, "Such as he is, I may try to be." This man was longed for; consciously or not, the blacks yearned for their king, could they but see him. The presentiment existed, for had not the Abbé Raynal long before predicted a vindicator for the race? No man can save another, and no nation. Each race must look for its salvation and its leaders in its own comprehensive soul. The Moses who will lead the blacks out of bondage must be a black, and he will come!

Let us go back for a moment. On the arrival of the first commissioners, Mirbeck, Roume, and St. Leger, the mulattoes in the West were in arms under Rigaud; the blacks in the North, under Jean François and Biassou. They were a ragged crowd: pikes, muskets, cane-knives, axes, whatever the hand could find, were their arms, and they fought without order or discipline, inspired by revenge and hatred to slavery. Jean François, if vain and ostentatious, was sagacious and full of resource. Biassou was bold, fiery, and vindictive. The blacks had slaughtered and been slaughtered, hanged and been hanged, plundered and been plundered. There seemed no end to it and no object. They heard that the commissioners were placable, so they wished to make terms. But who would dare to venture among the whites? Were not all outcasts, hunted beasts, fugitive slaves? Raynal and Duplessis (mulattoes) at last took the hazard. The Governor sent them to the commissioners, they to the Colonial Assembly. The Assembly that day was in an exalted state: it emulated the gods. It replied loftily: "Emissaries of the revolted negroes, the Assembly, established on the law and by the law, cannot correspond with people armed against the law. The Assembly might extend grace to guilty men, if, being repentant, etc.," and Raynal and Duplessis were ordered sharply to "withdraw."

They did withdraw, amid the hooting of the mob. They returned to Grande Rivière. The army and the people came out to meet them, wishing peace: they told their story, and peace was turned to war, love to hatred. Biassou, in a rage, ordered all[Pg 243] the white prisoners in the camp to be put to death. "Death to the whites!" went along the lines and among the people. The insane pride of the whites worked its own punishment, and now a hundred more were to be slaughtered. No white was there to save them, and no God to wrest them away. Then a man, black, indifferent in person, unpleasing of visage, meanly dressed, makes his way among the crowd to Biassou swelling with rage. He speaks to him a few words, quietly, calmly; they are to the purpose. The General's face is composed; he listens; he countermands his orders, and the whites are saved.

The negro who saves them is Toussaint Breda, afterward called Louverture. The son of an African chief, Gaou-Guinon, with no drop of white blood in his veins. He had been the born slave of the Count de Breda, and had been well treated by his manager, Bayou de Libertas. He was the husband of one wife and the father of children. With religious aspirations, an inflexible integrity, and an inquiring mind, he had been a valuable slave and had been raised from a field-hand to be M. Bayou's coachman.

Toussaint was never hungry while a slave; he was not whipped. His hut was comfortable; vines twined around his door. Bananas and potatoes grew in his garden. Toussaint, it seems, was not a beast of burden. To make sugar he was worth no more than a Bozal just stolen; but with these rare virtues—patience, courage, intelligence, fidelity—he might have sold for five hundred dollars and might be trusted to drive horses. When the rebellion broke out he did not join it, but assisted M. Bayou with his family to escape, and shipped a rich cargo to the United States for his maintenance.

Toussaint was then fifty years old. None knew the day of his birth; the records of stock then and there were not carefully kept. For fifty years this negro had lived the life of a slave; his only occupation the hoeing of cane and the grooming of horses. What thoughts, what struggles, what hopes had taken shape in that uncultivated brain no man knows—for Toussaint was a man of few words, and he left no writings. It was late in life to begin a new trade; late to begin to find out his own powers and strength; late to trust himself to freedom, he who had always had a master; late to speculate upon the destinies of the black race; late to attempt[Pg 244] to shape them. But in revolutionary times men learn fast; great men need only the opportunity; they rise to the emergency. Cromwell was not a born or trained general or ruler, nor was Washington, nor was William Tell. Toussaint had bided his time. This slave was ignorant, knew nothing. He learned to read when approaching his declining years; then he studied: Raynal, Epictetus, Cæsar, Saxe, Herodotus, Plutarch, Nepos—these were the books and lives he knew.

He decided to join his race, and having some knowledge of simples was made physician of the forces commanded by Jean François. Here he served well, as he always did, and learned the trade of war. Shocked at the cruelties of whites and blacks he took the side of mercy and saved lives from the sword as well as from disease. He saw the vanity of François, the rashness of Biassou, the cruelty of Jeannot; but he retired disgusted to no stupid monastery; he returned not to the ease and degradation of slavery, but was equal to the facts of life, however hard, and grappled with them and mastered them as a man should. He was then loyal to the King, and he was loyal to the Church, a devout Catholic.

In 1792, the three commissioners, sent out from France to "settle" the affairs of the colony, had been thwarted and finally driven away by the whites. In September (1792), Santhonax, Polverel, and Ailhaud had arrived with troops, money, and instructions and a new governor, Desparbes, in place of Blanchelande. He soon became disgusted, alarmed, and he fled. The commissioners bestirred themselves to settle the commotion. The rich planters were for the King; the Petits Blancs were for the Directory; the mulattoes, under Rigaud, ravaged the West: the revolted negroes, under Jean François, Biassou and others, threatened on the North. France herself, that ancient kingdom, was now fermenting; struggling—yet with hope—to realize in the state her unformed faith in democracy, and with the energy of despair striving to beat back the waves of bayonets which beat and bristled on her borders. Thus matters stood in France, thus in Santo Domingo. The slaves in both countries had risen, and rushed to arms. Their remedy was desperate; so was their disease.

General Galbaud, a new governor, arrived from France in[Pg 245] May (1793). The commissioners were engaged in the west in fighting Rigaud. They returned to Cap François to fight the Governor whose authority they disputed. Galbaud held the ships and the arsenals and determined to assert his authority. His soldiers and sailors entered the town and abandoned themselves to drunkenness, pillage and brutality. The commissioners armed the slaves in the town, promised them freedom, and sent for aid to the negro generals. Jean François and Biassou refused; but a chief, Macayo, at the head of three thousand blacks, entered the town, and the conflict raged. The whites were driven into the sea and slaughtered. Madness ruled, and none fiercer than the mulattoes. Galbaud fled, and half the city was destroyed by fire. At last—for a while—the whites gave up the hope of recovering their slaves. Thousands fled—some suppose nine-tenths—and found refuge along the American coasts.

Famine had more than once increased the misery during these three years, yet the island was fruitful, and cultivation, here and there, went on. The sagacious Jean François had initiated cultivation along the mountain-sides, and in the valleys; and thus secured an unfailing magazine of supply.

Toussaint, meanwhile, continues his duties with the negro troops. Steadily and surely, if not rapidly, he gains strength and influence and knowledge of war. He has measured himself with Jean and Biassou, and is not wanting. His prudence, patience, silent will, and courage make him useful to them, and his justice and determination and mercy make him the idol of the men. The Marquis Hermona, Governor of the Spanish part of the island, made advances to the negro chiefs. Santhonax, in his extremity after the destruction of Cap François, sent Macayo to propose an alliance, but they distrusted him.

Meanwhile Louis XVI was beheaded. They said, "We have lost the King of France, but the King of Spain esteems us and gives us succor." They declined the proposals of the commissioners, and ranged themselves on the side of Spain. Toussaint was loyal to the memory of the King, and followed François and Biassou. Hermona saw that Toussaint was a man; and while Jean François was advanced to the first rank, Toussaint was raised to that of colonel in the Spanish army. He at once applied[Pg 246] himself to his duties, and what he did was always well done. His troops became, as if by a word, the best disciplined in the army. The reason was plain: he knew what men ought to do and what they can do; and the men knew that he was upright and wise. So these ragged, ignorant, roving hordes became efficient troops. Confidence begat confidence: the commander trusted his men, and they relied on him; together they were strong. Idleness was not Toussaint's policy. The insurgents under Jean François, Biassou, and Toussaint held strong positions in the mountains south of Cap François. Brandicourt, the general of the French troops, was at once trapped and compelled to order his troops to lay down their arms. Grande Rivière, Dondon, Plaisance, Marmalade, and Ennery, the most important places in the north, quickly fell into Toussaint's hands.

The French commissioners were getting into straits. The Spanish troops were against them; the blacks were against them. The remaining whites were divided; some wore the black cockade, others the white; the troops, and friends of the commissioners, the tricolor; the mulattoes, the red. War was everywhere, and no man was safe but with arms in his hands and in the strongest party. But this was not enough: some of the planters mounted the English hat and sent to the English for succor. Even "perfide Albion" was welcome, if they might but reëstablish slavery and get again their estates. In this extremity, Santhonax decided to make friends with the blacks, and proclaimed at Cap François universal freedom (August 20, 1793). Polverel repeated the proclamation at Port au Prince. The enthusiasm among the negroes was great, but not universal. Their leaders were not moved; they distrusted the commissioners and they doubted the stability of the French Republic—so the war went on.

In September, the English landed at Jeremie, in the extreme southwest. They took possession of St. Nicholas, in the extreme northwest, and during the year 1794 the whole western coast was in their possession—St. Nicholas, St. Marc, St. Jacmel, Tiburon, Jeremie; and at last, on June 4th, Port au Prince, the capital, yielded. "Twenty-two topsail vessels," with their cargoes, worth four hundred thousand pounds sterling, were a part of the spoil. The mulatto chief, Rigaud, had taken the side of France. Educated[Pg 247] in Bordeaux, he had followed, in Santo Domingo, his trade of a goldsmith, which the whites thought too good for a "nigger." He was a brave man, mild in peace, and terrible in war, and, aided by Pétion, he kept up a harassing fight against the English. Shortly after the fall of Port au Prince, a ship arrived with a requisition for the commissioners to return to France; they must answer for their doings there, and General Laveaux was left as provisional governor.

His case, and that of the French, was desperate. Shut up in Port de Paix, the last stronghold of the French, he wrote (May 24, 1794): "For more than six months we have been reduced to six ounces of bread a day, officers as well as men, but from the 13th we have none whatever, the sick only excepted. If we had powder we should have been consoled. We have in our magazines neither shoes, nor shirts, nor clothes, nor soap, nor tobacco. The most of the soldiers mount guard barefoot; we have no flints for the men; but be assured that we will never surrender; be assured too, that after us, the enemy will not find the slightest trace of Port de Paix." Dark was the outlook, but brave was the heart of General Laveaux.

The hour was nigh: the hands advanced on the dial of time. Events, which no man could have foreseen or controlled, had gathered for judgment, and at last a great nation had decreed freedom to a poor, debauched, and servile race. But who should lead them, who should now defend them against themselves; give shape and system to their undisciplined wishes, carry them safely through the anarchy of unbounded liberty and crystallize them into a state whose only sure basis is the Rights and Duties of Labor, Thought, Speech, and Worship, the Rights and Duties of Man. The hour has come and the man—Toussaint Breda! from his eyrie near Dondon, sweeps the horizon. In the east he sees the decadent power of Spain: it has spoken no word of freedom for the blacks. In the west he sees the white sails of England: she is hand and glove with the planters to reëstablish slavery. In the north France and Laveaux are nigh death. France only has proclaimed liberty to the blacks. Toussaint sees the "opening" for his race and for himself, and from this day he is Toussaint Louverture—the first of the blacks. Bone of their bone and skin of their skin, he alone knows their needs,[Pg 248] their capacities, and their hearts. With the clear glance of inspiration he sees the moment, with the firm grasp of talent he seizes it.

General Laveaux saw this, and through the priest, La Haye, made advances to him. Toussaint is wise and he is wary; he keeps his own counsel; he consults not Jean François, who had once cast him into prison; nor Biassou, nor the Marquis Hermona. As usual, he performs his duties; as usual, he partakes of the communion; as usual, his troops look to him, and Hermona said: "There exists on earth no purer soul." He has placed his wife and children in safety; he has ordered his affairs; his horse stands saddled and bridled; then, tearing off his epaulettes he casts them at the feet of the Spanish officers, flings himself on his horse, and rides like the wind out of the camp. The Spaniards are for a moment paralyzed: they pursue him, but neither hoof nor pistol can reach him. Toussaint is not to be caught.

On May 4, 1794, he pulls down the Spanish and hoists the French colors. Marmalade, Plaisance, Ennery, Dondon, Acul, and Limbé submit to him. Confusion and fear prevail among the Spaniards; joy exalts the negroes. Laveaux is saved, and the colony not yet lost to France. Toussaint is a power in the state: the negroes everywhere respond to the sound of his voice; they look to him as their hero, defender, guide, and guard. Toussaint sets himself to his work. The whole province of the north soon falls into his hands, and he drives the Spanish ally, Jean François, westward along La Montaigne Noire. Then he hastens into the rich valley of the Artibonite, attacks and beats back the English and besieges the strong fortress of St. Marc; but neither forces nor ammunition is sufficient and he retires to the mountain fastnesses of Marmalade to recruit his troops. On October 9, 1794, he carries the fortress of San Miguel by storm.

Toussaint determines to drive away the English, and he falls with fury upon General Brisbane in the Artibonite and compels him to retreat. But Jean François hung over him in the heights of La Grande Rivière. Again he retires to Dondon and organizes his forces to repel the Spaniards. In four days he takes and destroys twenty-eight positions, but Jean François with a superior force threatens his rear while the English are in front; again[Pg 249] he is baffled and he returns to Dondon. Toussaint is no longer the leader of marauding bands but the head of an army. His troops are mostly raw and ignorant, badly clothed, armed, and fed, but they trust in him and have courage. He seeks for efficient officers, and finds Dessalines, Desroulaux, Maurepas, Clervaux, Christophe and Lamartinière. These he must command with discretion; his troops he must provide with arms, ammunition, and food. He must watch the forces of the Spaniards, the movements of the English. Intrigues abroad and treacheries at home; henceforth he must organize campaigns.

The treaty of Basel had secured the cession of the whole Spanish part of the island to France. Jean François was, therefore, at liberty to retire to Spain, to enjoy his honors. There remained now but the English to distract the plans of Toussaint and the French. One more disturbing element yet existed. The mulattoes felt themselves superior to the blacks, and the rightful successors to the whites in the honors and government of the island. Jealous of Toussaint and the favors shown the blacks, headed by Nillate (Villate), they rose against Laveaux, the Governor of the Cape, and threw him into prison; his danger was extreme. Toussaint descended on the town with ten thousand blacks and saved him. Laveaux appointed him his lieutenant, second in command in the island, and declared that he was the "Spartacus," foretold by Raynal, who should avenge the sufferings of his race. Confidence grew now between the blacks and the whites, and Lacroix—who is in no way friendly to the blacks—admits that "if Santo Domingo still carried the colors of France, it was solely owing to an old negro who seemed to bear a commission from Heaven." The French continued to send commissioners—Santhonax among them—but Toussaint was the moving mind; and when Laveaux, having been elected Delegate to the Assembly, sailed for France, Santhonax finally appointed him commander-in-chief.

Toussaint, now "Louverture"; a strong hand and a clear head, though black, now directs the affairs of the island. Daily he gains strength and the confidence of the negroes. They flock to his army; they listen and obey his words. Christophe, in the north, had encouraged cultivation. Toussaint throws his powerful influence into the work. His maxim, "that the liberty of the[Pg 250] blacks can never endure without agriculture," passes from mouth to mouth among the negroes, and rouses in them the desire for lands and wealth—for the first time now possible. He wishes that Cape and the towns along the north should be rebuilt. It is done; they rise from their ashes. All hopes are centred in the General-in-Chief: he can restore peace and prosperity; he alone.

The English now were sore bestead. The French pressed them in the west; Desfourneaux in the north; Rigaud in the south; Christophe had carried the heights of Vallière—the Vendée of Santo Domingo. Toussaint Louverture again attempts to take St. Marc; thrice he storms it, thrice he deserves success, but again he fails to clutch this strong fortress. He turns now to Mirebelois, an interior Thermopylæ, strongly fortified by the English. His lieutenant, Mornay, intercepted Montalembert, who was advancing with seven hundred men and two pieces of artillery. The next day he drives in all the English troops, invests the village of St. Louis, carries the forts by assault, and in fourteen days totally defeats the English, taking two hundred prisoners, eleven pieces of cannon, and military stores. The efforts of the English are nearly at an end; weak and weary, their strength is spent. Whitlocke, Williamson, Whyte, Horneck, Brisbane, and Markham, have tried to subdue these rebels and to wrest the colony from France: they have bitten a file. Millions of pounds have been wasted; Brisbane and Markham are killed; thousands of soldiers slain; the yellow fever, too, has done its work.

General Maitland at last decided to leave the island, and between him and Toussaint there went on a struggle of diplomacy; but Louverture was more than his equal: he accepted his honors, but refused his bribes. They made terms, and Maitland evacuated Port au Prince and St. Nicholas. One incident illustrates Maitland's confidence in Toussaint. Before the disembarkation of his troops, he determined to return Louverture's visit. He proceeded to his camp, through a country full of negroes, with but three attendants. On his way he heard that Roume, the French commissioner, had advised Toussaint to seize him; but he proceeded, and when he reached the camp, after waiting a short time, Toussaint entered, and, handing him two letters—Roume's and[Pg 251] his reply—said: "Read; I could not see you until I had written, so that you could see that I am incapable of baseness."

General Lacroix has written that he saw, in the archives at Port au Prince, the offers made to Toussaint, securing him in the power and kingship of the island, and liberty to his race, with a sufficient naval force on the part of England, provided he would renounce France and form a commercial treaty with England. The event leads one to regret that Toussaint's ambition was not superior to his loyalty to France.

During these proceedings with the English, Santhonax had departed for France, partly at his own request, partly because he was in the way of Toussaint's plans for the restoration of the island. With him, Toussaint sent his two sons to receive some education in France, and to show, as his letter stated, "his confidence in the Directory—at a time when complaints were busy against him." He said, "there exist no longer any internal agitations; and I hold myself responsible for the submission to order and duty of the blacks, my brethren."


[35] Now, in English, Cape Haitien. The place is a seaport of northern Haiti.—Ed.

[Pg 252]



a.d. 1792


In the battle of Valmy the French, under Dumouriez and Kellermann, repulsed the Prussians and their allies, commanded by the Duke of Brunswick. Though not in itself a great victory, its results have led some historians to call that action one of the decisive battles of the world. The final withdrawal of the Prussians, owing to Russian intrigues in Poland, left an open way for the French army into the Austrian Netherlands, which at Jemapes (November 6, 1792) were won for France. Other victories for the Revolution quickly followed, greatly advancing its cause.

After the fall of the Bastille (July 14, 1789), the National Assembly abolished special privileges, slavery, and serfdom in France and all her territories, and decreed equal taxation. A new constitution was made. These acts heightened popular enthusiasm for the revolt. Political clubs, chief of which was that of the Jacobins, were formed in Paris. They were fiercely uncompromising in their demand for the overthrow of the monarchy. Many of the nobles hastened to quit the country. The King was virtually made prisoner in Paris, whence he attempted to escape, but was captured by insurgents and closely guarded in the city.

The National Assembly came to an end and was succeeded (October 1, 1791) by the Legislative Assembly, a still more radical body, which for a year practically ruled France over the head of the King.

Such was the state of affairs in France when, notwithstanding the complications in the East, the Emperor Leopold II and King Frederick William II of Prussia issued the Convention of Pillnitz (August, 1791). This was the basis of an alliance for the rescue of Louis XVI from his enemies, and for his full restoration to power. It led a little later to a formidable coalition of sovereigns against the Revolution. Brunswick advanced toward Paris, but while he hesitated in his progress the French army, under Dumouriez, was increased in numbers and discipline. Dumouriez was on the Belgian border, preparing for his "Argonne campaign," the first events of which no one has better described than Lamartine.

[Pg 253]

While the interregnum of royalty and republicanism delivered Paris over to the revolutionists, France, with all its frontiers open, had for security nothing but the small forest of Argonnes and the genius of Dumouriez. On September 2, 1792, this general was shut up with sixteen thousand men in the camp of Grandpré, occupying with weak detachments the intermediate defiles between Sedan and Sainte-Menehould, by which the Duke of Brunswick might attempt to break his line and turn his position. He caused the tocsin to be rung in the villages, hoping to excite the enthusiasm of the inhabitants; but the captures of Longwi and Verdun, the understanding between the gentlemen of the country and the émigrés,[36] the hatred of the Revolution, and the disproportionate amounts of the coalesced army, discouraged resistance. Dumouriez, left to himself by the inhabitants, could only rely on his own troops. His sole hope was in forming a junction with Kellermann. If that could be effected behind the forest of Argonne before the troops of the Duke of Brunswick could force the natural rampart, Kellermann and Dumouriez, uniting their troops, would have a body of forty-five thousand soldiers to ninety thousand Prussians, and might then with some hope hazard the fate of France on a battle.

Kellermann, who was worthy to understand and second this grand idea, served without jealousy Dumouriez's design, satisfied with his share of the glory if his country should be saved. He marched to Metz, at the extremity of the Argonne, informing Dumouriez of every step he took. But their superior intelligence was a mystery for the majority of officers and soldiery. Provisions were scarce and bad, the general himself eating black bread. Ministers, deputies, Luckner himself—influenced by his correspondents in the camp—wrote perpetually to Dumouriez to abandon his position and retire to Châlons.

Slight skirmishes with the advanced guard of the Prussians, in which the French were always victorious, gave the troops patience. Miaczinski, Stengel, and Miranda drove back the Prussians at all points. Dumouriez, in his position, deadened the shock of the one hundred thousand men whom the King of Prussia[Pg 254] and the Duke of Brunswick collected at the foot of Argonne. Chance nearly lost all.

Overcome by fatigue of body and mind, he had forgotten to reconnoitre with his own eyes, and quite close to him, the defile of Croix-au-Bois, which had been described to him as impracticable for troops, particularly cavalry and artillery. He had placed there, however, a dragoon regiment, two battalions of volunteers, and two pieces of cannon, commanded by a colonel; but in consequence of the recall of the dragoons and the two battalions before the troops ordered to replace them had come up, the defile was for a moment open to the enemy. A great many volunteer spies, whom the émigrés had in the villages of Argonne, hastened to point out this weakness to Clerfayt, the Austrian general, who instantly despatched eight thousand men, under the command of the young Prince de Ligne, who seized on the position.

A few hours afterward, Dumouriez, informed of this reverse, placed General Chazot at the head of two brigades, six squadrons of his best troops, four pieces of cannon, besides the artillery belonging to the battalions, and ordered him to attack the place at the bayonet's point, and recover the position at any sacrifice. Every hour the impatient commander despatched aides-de-camp to Chazot to expedite his march and bring him back information. Twenty-four hours passed away thus in doubt. On the 14th Dumouriez heard the sound of firing on his left, and judged by the noise, which receded, that the Imperialists were in retreat and Chazot had gained the forest. In the evening a note from Chazot informed him that he had forced the intrenchments of the Austrians, in spite of their desperate defence; that eight hundred dead lay in the defile, among whom was the Prince de Ligne.

Scarcely, however, had this note reached Dumouriez, whose mind had been thereby set at ease, than Clerfayt, burning to avenge the death of the Prince de Ligne and make a decisive attack on this rampart of the French army, advanced all his columns into this defile, gained the heights, rushed headlong down on Chazot's column in front and on both flanks, took his cannon, and compelled Chazot himself to leave the forest for the plain, cutting off his communication with the camp of Grandpré,[Pg 255] and driving him in full flight on the road to Vouziers. At the same moment the corps of the émigrés attacked General Dubouquet, in the defile of the Chêne-Populeux. Frenchman against Frenchman, their valor was equal: the one side fighting to save, the other to reconquer, their country. Dubouquet gave way and retreated upon Châlons. These two disasters came upon Dumouriez at the same moment. Chazot and Dubouquet seemed to trace out to him the road. The clamor of his whole army pointed out to him Châlons as a refuge. Clerfayt, with twenty-five thousand men, was about to cut off his communication with Châlons. The Duke of Brunswick, with eighty thousand Prussians, enclosed him on the three other sides in the camp of Grandpré. His detachments cut off reduced his army to fifteen thousand men.

A retreat before an enemy, conquering in two partial encounters, was to prostrate the fortune of France before the foreigner. The "audacity" of Danton passed into the mind and tactics of Dumouriez. He conceived a plan even more bold than that of Argonne, and closed his ear to the timid counsels of art. He dictated to his aides-de-camp orders to the following effect:

Kellermann was to continue his advance to Sainte-Menehould; Beurnonville was to march instantly for Rhétel, advancing by the river Aisne, taking care not to go too near to Argonne, to save its flanks from Clerfayt's attacks. Dillon was to defend and check the two defiles of Argonne, and to send out troops beyond the forest in order to perplex the Duke of Brunswick's motions, and come as soon as possible into communication with Kellermann's advanced guard. Chazot was to return to Autry. General Sparre, the commandant at Châlons, was desired to form the advanced camp at Châlons.

These orders despatched, he prepared his own troops for the manœuvre which he himself intended to execute during the night. He sent to the heights which cover the left of Grandpré on the side of the Croix-au-Bois, where Clerfayt made him most uneasy, six battalions, six squadrons, six pieces of cannon, as a lookout, in case of any sudden attack on the part of the Austrians. At nightfall he caused the park of artillery to defile in silence by the two bridges which traverse the Aisne, and halt on the heights of Autry.[Pg 256]

The Prince of Hohenlohe requested an interview with Dumouriez that evening, his motive being to judge of the state of the army. Dumouriez granted this, and substituted for himself in this conference General Duval, whose advanced years, white hair, and commanding stature imposed on the Austrian general. Duval affected an appearance of security, telling the Prince that Beurnonville was expected next day with eighteen thousand men, and Kellermann at the head of thirty thousand troops. Discouraged in his offers of arrangement by Duval, the Austrian chief withdrew, firmly convinced that Dumouriez meant to await the battle in his camp.

At midnight Dumouriez left the Château of Grandpré, on horseback, and went to the camp in the pitchy darkness of the night. All was hushed in repose: he forbade drums to beat or trumpets to sound, but sent round in a low voice the order to strike the tents and get under arms. The darkness and confusion were unfavorable to these orders, but before the first dawn of day the army was in full march. The troops passed in double file over the bridges of Senuc and Grand Champ, and ranged themselves in battle array on the eminences of Autry. Thus covered by the Aisne, Dumouriez gazed upon the foe to see if they followed; but the mystery of his movements had disconcerted the Duke of Brunswick and Clerfayt. The army cut down the bridges behind them, and then, advancing four leagues from Grandpré to Dumartin, encamped there; and in the morning General Duval dispersed a host of Prussian hussars. Dumouriez resumed his march next day, and on the 17th entered his camp of Sainte-Menehould.

The camp of Sainte-Menehould seemed to have been designed by nature to serve as a citadel for a handful of patriot soldiers, against a vast and victorious army. Protected in the front by a deep valley, on one side by the Aisne, and on the other by marshes, the back of the camp was defended by the shallow branches of the river Auve. Beyond these muddy streamlets and quagmires arose a solid and narrow piece of ground, admirably adapted for the station of a second camp; and here the general intended that Kellermann's division should be placed, then commanding the two routes of Rheims and Châlons. Dumouriez had studied this position during his leisure hours at Grandpré, and took up[Pg 257] his quarters with the confidence of a man who knows his ground and seizes on success with certain hand.

All his arrangements being made and head-quarters established at Sainte-Menehould, in the centre of the army, Dumouriez, annoyed at the reports, spread by fugitives, of his having been routed, wrote to the assembly: "I have been obliged," he wrote to the President, "to abandon the camp of Grandpré; our retreat was complete, when a panic spread through the army—ten thousand men fled before one thousand five hundred Prussian hussars. All is repaired, and I answer for everything."

At the news of the retreat of Grandpré, Kellermann, believing Dumouriez defeated, and fearful of falling himself among the Prussian forces, whom he supposed to be at the extremity of the defile of Argonne, had retreated as far as Vitry. Couriers from Dumouriez reassuring him, he again advanced, but with the slowness of a man who fears an ambush at every step. He hesitated while he obeyed. On the other side, Beurnonville, the friend and confidant of Dumouriez, had met the fugitives of Chazot's corps. Wholly disconcerted by their statements of the complete rout of his general, Beurnonville, with some dragoons, had ascended a hill, whence he perceived Argonne, and the bare heaths which extend from Grandpré to Sainte-Menehould.

It was on the morning of the 17th, at the moment when Dumouriez's army was moving from Dammartin to Sainte-Menehould. At the sight of this body of troops, whose uniforms and flags he could not distinguish in the heavy mist, Beurnonville had no doubt but that it was the Prussian army advancing in pursuit of the French. He immediately faced about, and advanced to Châlons by forced marches, in order to join his general. Hearing his mistake at Châlons, Beurnonville gave only twelve hours' rest to his harassed men, and arrived on the 19th with the ten thousand warlike soldiers whom he had led so far to the field of battle. Dumouriez passed them all in review, recognizing all the officers by their names, and the soldiers by their countenances, while they all saluted their leader with the loudest acclamations. The battalions and squadrons which he had carefully formed, disciplined, and accustomed to fire during the dilatory proceedings of Luckner with the army of the North, defiled before him, covered with the dust of their long march, their horses jaded,[Pg 258] uniforms torn, shoes in holes, but their arms as perfect and as bright as if they were on parade.

Dumouriez had scarcely dismounted when Westermann and Thouvenot, his two confidential staff officers, came to inform him that the Prussian army, en masse, had passed the peak of Argonne, and were deploying on the hills of La Lune, on the other side of the Tourbe, opposite to him. At the same instant young Macdonald, his aide-de-camp, who had been sent, on the previous evening, on the road to Vitry, came galloping up, and brought him intelligence of the approach of the long-expected Kellermann, who at the head of twenty thousand men of the army of Metz, and some thousands of volunteers of Lorraine, was only at two hours' distance. Thus the fortune of the Revolution and the genius of Dumouriez, seconding each other, brought at the appointed hour and to the fixed spot, from the two extremities of France and from the depths of Germany, the forces which were to assail and those which were to defend the empire.

At the same moment Dumouriez, recalling his isolated detachments, prepared for a struggle, by concentrating all his scattered forces. General Dubouquet had retired to Châlons with three thousand men, where he also expected to find Dumouriez, but had only found in the city ten battalions of fédérés and volunteers, who had arrived from Paris, and, hearing of the retreat of the army, mutinied against their chiefs, cut off the head of one of their officers, taking others with them, plundered the army stores, murdered the colonel of the regiment of Vexin, and then, in confused masses, took the road to Paris, proclaiming everywhere Dumouriez's treason and demanding his head. Dumouriez was alarmed lest these ruffians should come in contact with his army, for such bands sowed sedition wherever they went.

General Stengel, after having ravaged the country between Argonne and Sainte-Menehould, in order to cut off all supplies from the Prussians, fell back beyond the Tourbe, and posted himself with the vanguard on the hills of Lyron, opposite the heights of La Lune, where the Duke of Brunswick was posted.

Dampierre's camp, separated from that of Dumouriez by the trenches and shallows of the Auve, was assigned to Kellermann, but he passed beyond this spot, and posted his entire army and[Pg 259] baggage on the heights of Valmy, in advance of Dampierre, on the left of that of Sainte-Menehould. The line of Kellermann's encampment, nearer to the enemy, on its left, touched on its right the line of Dumouriez, and thus formed with the principal army an angle, against which the enemy could not send forth its attacking columns without being at once overwhelmed by the French artillery in both flanks. Dumouriez, perceiving in a moment that Kellermann, who was too much involved and too much isolated on the plateau of Valmy, might be turned by the Prussian masses, sent General Chazot, at the head of eight battalions and eight squadrons, to post them behind the heights of Gizaucourt, and be under Kellermann's orders. He next desired General Stengel and Beurnonville to advance to the right of Valmy with twenty-six battalions—his rapid coup d'œil assuring him that this would be the Duke of Brunswick's point of attack.

This plan displayed at a glance the intelligence of the warrior and the politician. Defiance was thus cast by forty-five thousand men to one hundred ten thousand soldiers of the coalition.

The French army had its right flank and retreat covered by the Argonne, which was impassable by the enemy, and defended by its ravines and forests. The centre, bristling with batteries and natural obstacles, was impregnable. The army faced the country toward Champagne, leaving behind it the road clear to Châlons and Lorraine.

"The Prussians," argued Dumouriez, "will either fight or advance on Paris. If the former, they will find the French army in an intrenched camp as a field of battle. Obliged, in order to attack the centre, to pass the Auve, the Tourbe, and the Bionne, under the fire of my redoubts, they will take Kellermann in flank, who will crush their attacking columns between his battalions, charging down from Valmy and the batteries of my corps d'armée. If they leave the French army, and cut off its retreat to Paris by marching on Châlons, the army, facing about, will follow them to Paris, increasing in number at every step. The reënforcements of the army of the Rhine and army of the North, which are on the march; the battalions of scattered volunteers, which I shall assemble as I cross the revolted provinces, will swell the amount of my armed troops to sixty thousand or seventy thousand men. The Prussians will march across a hostile country, and make[Pg 260] every step with hesitation, while each advance will give me fresh troops. I shall await them under the walls of Paris. An invading army, placed between a capital of six hundred thousand souls, who close their gates, and a national army, which cuts off their retreat, is a destroyed army. France will be saved in the heart of France, instead of on the frontiers; but still she will be saved."

Thus reasoned Dumouriez, when the first sounds of the Prussian cannon, resounding from the heights of Valmy, came to announce to him that the Duke of Brunswick, having perceived the danger of advancing, and thus leaving the French army behind him, had attacked Kellermann. It was not the Duke of Brunswick, however, but the young King of Prussia, who had commanded the attack. The Prussian army, which the generalissimo wished to extend gradually from Rheims to Argonne, parallel to the French army, received orders to advance in a body on Kellermann's position. On the 19th it marched to Somme-Tourbe, and remained all night under arms. The report was spread in the head-quarters of the King of Prussia that the French were meditating a retreat on Châlons, and that the movements perceptible in their line were only intended to mask this retrograde march. The King was vexed at a plan of a campaign which always allowed them to escape. He thought he should surprise Dumouriez in the false position of an army which had raised his camp. The Duke of Brunswick, whose military authority began to suffer with the failure of his preceding manœuvres, in vain sought the intervention of General Koeler to moderate the ardor of the King. The attack was resolved upon.

On the 20th, at 6 a.m., the Duke marched at the head of the Prussian advanced guard upon Somme-Bionne, with the intention of attacking Kellermann, and cutting off his retreat by the high road of Châlons. A thick autumnal fog floated over the plain into the marshy grounds where the three rivers flow, in the hollow ravines which separated the two armies, leaving only the points of the precipices and the crests of the hills shining in the light above this ocean of fog. An unexpected shock of the cavalry of the two advanced guards alone revealed, in this darkness, the march of the Prussians to the French. After a rapid mêlée and some firing, the advanced guard of the French fell back upon[Pg 261] Valmy, and warned Kellermann of the enemy's approach. The Duke of Brunswick continued to advance, reached the high road to Châlons, crossed it, and then deployed his whole army. At ten o'clock, the mist having suddenly disappeared, showed to the two generals their mutual situation.

Kellermann's army was en masse in the plain and behind the mill of Valmy. This bold position projected like a cape into the midst of the lines of the Prussian bayonets. General Chazot had not, as yet, come up with his twenty-six battalions to flank Kellermann's left. General Leveneur, who was to have flanked his right and to unite it with Dumouriez's army, advanced with hesitation and slowly, fearing to draw on his feeble force all the weight of the Prussian body, which he saw in battle array before him. General Valence, who commanded Kellermann's cavalry, deployed into high line with a regiment of carbineers, some squadrons of dragoons, and four battalions of grenadiers, between Gizaucourt and Valmy, thus covering the whole space which Kellermann could fill up, and where that general was expected. Kellermann's lines formed in the centre of the heights. His powerful artillery bristled by the side of the mill of Valmy, the centre and key to the position. Almost surrounded by semicircular lines of the enemy, which were perpetually increasing in numbers, and embarrassed on this very narrow elevation by his twenty-two thousand men, horses, guns, and baggage, Kellermann was unable to extend the wings of his army.

From this height Kellermann saw come in succession, from the white mist of the morning, and glitter in the sunshine, the countless Prussian cavalry, which must envelop him, as in a net, if he were driven from his position. About noon the Duke of Brunswick, having formed his whole army into two lines, and decided on his plan of the day, was seen to detach himself from the centre, and advance toward the declivities of Gizaucourt and La Lune, at the head of a body of infantry, cavalry, and three batteries. Fresh troops filled up the space these left.

Such was the horizon of tents, bayonets, horses, cannon, and staff which displayed itself on September 20th, in the hollows and ravines of Champagne. At the same hour the convention[37][Pg 262] began its sittings and deliberations as to a monarchy or a republic. Within and without, France and liberty sported with destiny.

The exterior aspect of the two armies seemed to declare beforehand the issue of the campaign. On the side of the Prussians, one hundred ten thousand combatants; a system of tactics the inheritance of the Great Frederick; discipline, which converted battalions into machines of war, and which, destroying all personal will in the soldier, made him bend submissively to the thought and voice of his officers; an infantry solid and impenetrable as walls of iron; cavalry mounted on the splendid horses of Mecklenburg, whose docility, well-controlled ardor, and high courage were not alarmed either at the fire of artillery nor the glitter of cold steel; officers trained from their infancy to fighting as a trade, born, as it were, in uniforms, knowing their troops and known to them, exercising over their soldiers the twofold ascendency of nobility and command; as auxiliaries, the picked regiments of the Austrian Army, recently from the banks of the Danube, where they had been fighting against the Turks; the emigrant French nobility, bearing with them all the great names of the monarchy, every soldier of whom fought for his own cause and had his individual injuries to avenge—his King to save, his country to recover at the end of his bayonet or the point of his sabre; Prussian generals, all pupils of a military king, having to maintain the superiority of their renown in Europe; a generalissimo which Germany proclaimed its Agamemnon, and which the genius of Frederick covered with a prestige of invincibility; and, also, a young King, brave, adored by his people, dear to his troops, avenger of the cause of all kings, accompanied by representatives of every court on the field of battle, and supplying the inexperience of war by a personal bravery which forgot its rank in the sole consideration of its honor—such was the Prussian army.

In the French camp a numerical inferiority of one against three; regiments reduced to three or four hundred men by the effect of the laws of 1790, which only admitted volunteers; these regiments, deprived of their best officers by emigration, which had induced more than half to go to the enemy's soil, and by the sudden creation of one hundred battalions of volunteers, at the head of which they had placed the officers remaining in France[Pg 263] as instructors; these battalions and regiments, without any esprit de corps, regarding each other with jealousy or contempt; two feelings in the same army—the spirit of discipline in the old ranks, the spirit of insubordination in the new corps; old officers suspecting their men, soldiers doubtful of their officers; a cavalry ill equipped and badly mounted; an infantry competent and firm in regiments, raw and weak in battalions; pay in arrear and paid in assignats greatly depreciated; insufficiently armed; uniforms various, threadbare, torn, often in tatters; many soldiers without shoes, or substituting handfuls of hay tied round the legs with cord; the troops arriving from different armies and provinces, unknown to each other, and scarcely knowing the name of the generals under whom they had been enlisted—these generals themselves young and rash, passing suddenly from obeying to command, or, old and methodical, unable to make their formal modes comply with the dash required in desperate warfare; and, finally, at the head of this incongruous army, a general-in-chief fifty-three years of age, new to war, whom everybody had a right to doubt, mistrustful of his troops, at variance with his second in command, at issue with his government, whose daring yet dilatory plan was not understood by any, and who had neither services in the past nor the spell of victory on his sword to give authority or confidence to his command—such were the French at Valmy. But the enthusiasm of the country and the Revolution struggled in the heart of this army, and the genius of war inspired the soul of Dumouriez.

Uneasy as to Kellermann's position, Dumouriez, on horseback from the dawn of day, visited his line, extended his troops between Sainte-Menehould and Gizaucourt, and galloped toward Valmy in order that he might the better judge himself of the intentions of the Duke of Brunswick and the point on which the Prussians were to concentrate their efforts. He there found Kellermann giving his final orders to the generals, who, on his left and right, were to have the responsibility of the day. One of these was General Valence, and the other the Duc de Chartres.

The Duc de Chartres[38] had been welcomed by the old soldiers[Pg 264] as a prince, by the new ones as a patriot, by all as a comrade. His intrepidity did not carry him away; he controlled it, and it left him that quickness of perception and that coolness so essential to a general; amid the hottest fire he neither quickened nor slackened his pace, for his ardor was as much the effect of reflection as of calculation, and as grave as duty. His familiarity—martial with the officers, soldierly with the soldiers, patriotic with the citizens—caused them to forgive him for being a prince. But beneath the exterior of a soldier of the people lurked the arrière pensée of a prince of the blood; and he plunged into all the events of the Revolution with the entire yet skilful abandon of a mastermind. Men feared, in spite of his bravery and his exalted enthusiasm for his country, to catch a glimpse of a throne raised upon its own ruins and by the hands of a republic. This presentiment, which invariably precedes great names and destinies, seemed to reveal to the army that, of all the leaders of the Revolution, he might one day be the most useful or the most fatal to liberty.

Dumouriez, who had seen the young Duc de Chartres with the army at Luckner, was struck with his intrepidity and coolness during the action, and, perceiving a spark of no ordinary fire in this young man, resolved to attach him to himself.

The Prussians held the heights of La Lune, and had commenced descending them in battle array. The veteran troops of Frederick the Great, slow and measured in all their movements, displayed no rash impetuosity and left naught to chance.

On their side the French did not behold without a feeling of dread this immense and hitherto invincible army silently advance its first line in columns of attack, and extend its wings to pierce their centre and cut off all retreat, either on Châlons or Dumouriez. The soldiers remained motionless in their position, fearing to expose by a false movement the narrow battle-field on which they could defend themselves, but did not dare manœuvre. The Prussians descended half-way down the heights of La Lune, and then opened their fire both in front and flank.

On this attack Kellermann's artillery moved forward and took up its position in front of the infantry. More than twenty thousand balls were exchanged during two hours from one hundred twenty guns, which thundered from the sides of the opposite[Pg 265] hills, as though they strove to batter a breach in the mountains. The Prussians, more exposed than the French, suffered more severely, and their fire began to slacken. Kellermann, who narrowly watched the enemy's movements, fancied he saw some confusion in their ranks, and charged at the head of a column to carry the guns. A Prussian battery, masked by an inequality in the ground, suddenly opened its fire on them, and Kellermann's horse, struck by a ball in the chest, fell on its rider. His aide-de-camp, Lieutenant-Colonel Lormier, was killed, and the head of the column, exposed on three sides to a withering fire, fell back in disorder, while Kellermann, disengaged and carried off by his troops, sought for a fresh charger. The Prussians, witnessing his fall and the retreat of his column, redoubled their fire, and a well-directed volley of shells silenced the French artillery.

The Duc de Chartres, who for three hours had supported the fire of the Prussians at the decisive post of Valmy, without drawing a trigger, saw the danger of his general. He hastened to the second line, put himself at the head of the reserve of artillery, advanced to the plateau by the mill, covered the disorder of the centre, rallied the flying caissons, supported the fire, and checked the enemy's onset.

The Duke of Brunswick would not give the French time to strengthen their position, but formed three formidable columns of attack, supported by two wings of cavalry. These columns advanced in spite of the fire of the French batteries, and were about to crush beneath their masses the division of the Duc de Chartres, who at the mill of Valmy awaited the onset. Kellermann, who had renewed the line, formed his army into columns by battalions, sprang from his horse, and casting the bridle to his orderly, bade him lead it behind the ranks, showing the soldiers that he was resolved to conquer or die. "Comrades," cried Kellermann, in a voice of thunder, "the moment of victory is at hand. Let us suffer the enemy to advance, and then charge with the bayonet." Then waving his hat on the top of his sword, "Vive la nation!" cried he more enthusiastically than before; "let us conquer for her."

This cry of the general, repeated by the nearest battalions, and taken up successively by the rest, created an immense clamor like the country herself encouraging her defenders. This shout[Pg 266] of the whole army, resounding from one hill to another, and heard above the cannon's roar, reassured the troops, and made the Duke of Brunswick pause, for such hearts promised equally terrible hands. Kellermann still advanced at the head of his column. The Duc de Chartres, his sword in one hand and a tricolored flag in the other, followed the horse artillery with the cavalry. The Duke of Brunswick, with the quick eye of a veteran soldier, and that economy of human life that characterizes an able general, saw that this attack would fail when opposed to such enthusiasm; and he re-formed the head of his columns, sounded the retreat, and slowly retired to his positions unpursued.

The fire ceased on both sides and the battle was as it were suspended until four in the evening, when the King of Prussia, indignant at the hesitation of his army, formed in person, and with the flower of his infantry and cavalry, three formidable columns of attack; then riding down the line, he bitterly reproached them with suffering the standard of the monarch to be thus humiliated. At the voice of their sovereign the troops marched to the conflict, and the King, surrounded by the Duke of Brunswick and his principal officers, marched in the first rank, exposed to the fire of the French, which mowed down his staff around him. Intrepid as the blood of Frederick, he commanded as a king jealous of the honor of his nation, and exposed himself like a soldier who holds his life but lightly compared to victory. All was in vain; the Prussian columns, assailed by the fire of twenty-four pieces of cannon, in position on the heights of Valmy, retreated at nightfall, leaving behind them eight hundred dead. Not to have been defeated was to the French army a victory. Kellermann felt this so fully that he assumed the name of Valmy in after-years,[39] and in his will bequeathed his heart to the village of that name, in order that it might repose on the theatre of his greatest renown, and sleep amid the companions of his first field.

While the French army fought and triumphed at Valmy, the Convention decreed the Republic at Paris.

Dumouriez returned to his camp amid the roar of Kellermann's cannon; but while he congratulated himself on the success of a day that strengthened the patriotic feelings of the army,[Pg 267] and that rendered the first attack on the country fatal to her enemies, he was too clear-sighted not to perceive the faults of Kellermann and the temerity of his position. The Duke of Brunswick was on the morrow the same as he was the previous evening, and had, moreover, extended his right wing beyond Gizaucourt and cut off the route to Châlons.

Early on the morning of the 21st Dumouriez went to the camp of his colleague, and ordered him to pass the river Auve, and fall back on the camp of Dampierre, in the position previously assigned him. This position, less brilliant, yet more secure, strengthened and united the French army. Kellermann felt this and obeyed without a murmur.

The Prussians had lost so much time that they had no longer any to spare. The rainy season had already affected them, and the winter would be sufficient in itself to force them to retreat. The Duke of Brunswick lost ten days in observing the French army; and the rain and fever season surprised him, while yet undecided. The rains cut up the roads from Argonne, by which his convoys arrived from Verdun, while his soldiers, destitute of shelter and provisions, wandered about in the fields, the orchards and vineyards, plucking the unripe grapes which these inhabitants of the North tasted for the first time. Their stomachs, already weakened by bad living, were soon disordered, and they were attacked by that dysentery which is so fatal to the soldier; the contagion spread rapidly through the camp, and thinned the corps.

The situation of Dumouriez did not appear, however, less perilous to those who were not in the secret of his intentions. Hemmed in on the one side of Les Evêchés by the Prince de Hohenlohe; on the Paris side by the King of Prussia, the Prussians were within six leagues of Châlons, the émigrés still nearer. The Uhlans, the light cavalry of the Prussians, pillaged at the gates of Rheims, and between Châlons and the capital there was not a position or an army. Paris dreaded to find itself thus exposed. Kellermann, a brave, but susceptible general, shaken by the opinion in Paris, threatened to quit the camp and abandon his colleague to his fate. Dumouriez, employing alternately the ascendency of his rank and the seduction of his genius, passed, in order to detain him, from menace to entreaty, and thus gained[Pg 268] day by day his victory of patience. Sometimes he threatened to deprive of their uniform and arms those who complained of the want of provisions, and drive them from the camp as cowards who were unworthy to suffer privations for their country. Eight battalions of fédérés, recently arrived from the camp at Châlons, and intoxicated with massacre and sedition, were those who most threatened the subordination of the camp, saying openly that the ancient officers were traitors, and that it was necessary to purge the army, as they had Paris, of its aristocrats. Dumouriez posted these battalions apart from the others, placed a strong force of cavalry behind them, and two pieces of cannon on their flank. Then, affecting to review them, he halted at the head of the line, surrounded by all his staff and an escort of one hundred hussars. "Fellows," said he—"for I will not call you either citizens or soldiers—you see before you this artillery, behind you this cavalry; you are stained with crimes, and I do not tolerate here assassins or executioners. I know that there are scoundrels among you charged to excite you to crime. Drive them from among you, or denounce them to me, for I shall hold you responsible for their conduct." The battalions trembled and at once assumed the same spirit that pervaded the army.

The ancient feelings of honor were associated in the camps with patriotism, and Dumouriez encouraged it among his troops. Every day he received from Paris threats of dismissal, to which he replied in terms of defiance. "I will conceal my dismissal," he wrote, "until the day when I behold the flight of the enemy: I will then show it to my soldiers, and return to Paris, to suffer the punishment my country inflicts on me for having saved her in spite of herself."

Three commissioners of the Convention, Sillery, Carra, and Prieur, arrived at the camp on the 24th, to proclaim the Republic, and Dumouriez did not hesitate. Although a royalist, he yet felt that at present it was not a question of government, but of the safety of the country; and besides, his ambition was vast as his genius, vague as the future. A republic agitated at home, threatened from abroad, could not but be favorable to an ambitious soldier at the head of an army who adored him; for when royalty was abolished, there was no one of higher rank in the nation than its generalissimo. The commissioners had also instructions to[Pg 269] order the retreat of the army behind the Marne. Dumouriez asked and obtained from them six days' delay; on the seventh, at sunrise, the French videttes beheld the heights of La Lune deserted, and the columns of the Duke of Brunswick slowly defiling between the hills of Champagne, and taking the direction of Grandpré. Fortune had justified perseverance, and genius had baffled numbers. Dumouriez was triumphant, and France was saved.

At this intelligence, one general shout of "Vive la nation!" burst from the French army. The commissioners, the generals Beurnonville, Miranda, even Kellermann, threw themselves into the arms of Dumouriez, and acknowledged the superiority of his judgment and the accuracy of his perception—while the soldiers proclaimed him the Fabius of his country. But this name, which he accepted for a day, but ill responded to the ardor of his soul; and he already meditated playing the part of Hannibal, which was more consonant with the activity of his character and the determination of his genius. At home, that of Cæsar might one day tempt him. This ambition of Dumouriez explains the unmolested retreat of the Prussians through an enemy's country, and through defiles which might easily have been converted into Caudine Forks, and under the cannon of seventy thousand French, before which the weakened and enervated army of the Duke of Brunswick had to make a flank movement.

While the military genius of Dumouriez triumphed over the Prussian army, his political genius was not asleep; for his camp, during the last days of the campaign, was at once the head-quarters of an army and the centre of diplomatic negotiations. Dumouriez had created a connection, half apparent, half secret, with the Duke of Brunswick and those officers and ministers who had most influence over the King of Prussia. Danton, the only minister who possessed any authority over Dumouriez, was in the secret of these negotiations.

The Duke of Brunswick was no less desirous than Dumouriez to negotiate, while fighting at the head-quarters of the King of Prussia were two parties, one of whom wished to retain the King with the army, and the other to remove him from it. The Count de Schulemberg, the King's confidential agent, was the leader of the first, the Duke of Brunswick of the second; Haugwitz, Lucchesini,[Pg 270] Lombard, the King's secretary, Kalkreuth, and the Prince de Hohenlohe were of the party of the latter. The King resisted with the firmness of a man who has engaged his honor in a great cause in the eyes of the world, and who wished to come off with credit, or at least without loss of reputation. He remained with the army, and sent the Count de Schulemberg to direct the operations in Poland. From this day the Prince was exposed in his camp to an influence whose interest it was to slacken his march and enervate his resolutions; and from this day everything tended to a retreat.

The Duke of Brunswick only sought a pretext for opening negotiations with the French at head-quarters. So long as he was behind the Argonne, within ten leagues of Grandpré, this pretext did not offer itself, for the King of Prussia would look on these advances as a proof of treason or cowardice. The combat of Valmy, in the idea of the Duke of Brunswick, was but a negotiation carried on by the mouth of the cannon. Dumouriez held the fate of the French Revolution in his hands, and he could not believe that this general would become the mere tool of anarchical democracy. "He will cast the weight of his sword," said he, "to weigh down the scale in favor of a constitutional monarchy; he will turn upon the jailers of the King and the murderers of September. Guardian of the frontiers, he has only to threaten to open them to the coalition, to insure obedience from the National Assembly. An arrangement between monarchical France and Prussia, under the auspices of Dumouriez, is a thousand times preferable to a war in which Prussia stakes her army against the despair of a nation."


[36] The royalists who left Paris or France in 1789 and after, on account of the Revolution.—Ed.

[37] The National Convention, which succeeded the Legislative Assembly, actually opened September 21st.—Ed.

[38] This was Louis Philippe, afterward known as "the Citizen-King." He was the son of Philippe Égalité, Duc d'Orléans, and was at this time about twenty years old.—Ed.

[39] Kellermann was created Duc de Valmy by Napoleon.—Ed.

[Pg 271]



a.d. 1793


Lord Macaulay declared that "what Peter the Great did to make Russia dominant, Eli Whitney's invention of the cotton-gin has more than equalled in its relation to the power and progress of the United States." When Macaulay delivered this opinion, "King Cotton" was more absolute in the United States than to-day, for the cultivation of cotton has since been supplemented in this country by other industries of equal importance. Yet, what cotton had done for the United States in Macaulay's day has been far surpassed by its record since, as one of the great industrial and commercial interests of the land; and judged by export values, as estimated by the specialist Dabney, at one time Assistant Secretary of Agriculture, cotton is still king of the American market.

The growth of the cotton industry in the United States, traced so minutely by Handy, witnesses from one decade to another to the supreme achievement of the American inventor so highly estimated by Macaulay. Eli Whitney was born at Westboro, Massachusetts, in 1765, and died in 1825. In 1792 he was graduated at Yale College, and that year became a teacher in Georgia, where he invented the cotton-gin. Before he could secure a patent his machine was stolen from his workshop, and others reaped the profits of his ingenuity. It is pleasing to know that he afterward made a fortune by other uses of his inventive skill. His service to the cotton industry in all its departments has not only been vastly influential in the development of his own country, but has also greatly affected the relations of the United States with other industrial nations, especially with Great Britain, the leading cotton-manufacturing country of the world.


Cotton is the principal product of eight great States of the American Union, and the most valuable "money crop" of the entire country. Climatic conditions practically restrict its cultivation to a group of States constituting less than one-fourth of the total area of the country, and yet the value of the annual crop is exceeded among cultivated products only by corn, which is grown[Pg 272] in every State of the Union, and occasionally by wheat. Cotton furnishes the raw material for one of our most important manufacturing industries and from one-fourth to one-third of our total exports.

Considered without reference to any particular country, its economic importance is far beyond numerical expression; for while the total crop of the world is approximately ascertainable, the effect of cotton upon the commercial and social relations of mankind is too far-reaching for estimation. Of the four great staples that provide man with clothing—cotton, silk, wool, and flax—cotton, by reason of its cheapness and its many excellencies, is rapidly superseding its several rivals. Sixty years ago only about two million five hundred thousand bales of cotton, or less than the present production of Texas, were annually converted into clothing; the spindles of the world now use over thirteen million bales per annum. Yet less than half the people of the world are supplied with cotton goods made by modern machinery, and it has been estimated that it would require annually a crop of forty-two million bales of five hundred pounds each to raise the world's standard of consumption to that of the principal nations.

Cotton stands preëminent among farm crops in the ease and cheapness of its production, as compared with the variety and value of its products. No crop makes so slight a drain upon the fertility of the soil, and for none has modern enterprise found so many uses for its several parts. The cotton plant yields, in fact, a double crop—a most beautiful fibre and a seed yielding both oil and feed, which, although neglected for a long time, is now esteemed worth one-sixth as much as the fibre. In addition to this, the stems can be made to yield a fibre which waits only for a machine to work it, and the roots yield a drug. It is entirely possible, therefore, that cotton may ultimately be grown as much for these parts as for the lint.

The history of cotton production in the United States differs from that of almost every other agricultural product in several important particulars. For nearly three-quarters of a century slave labor was almost exclusively employed in this branch of agricultural industry, and an immense majority of the colored people of to-day look to it for their chief support. Cotton was[Pg 273] also the great pioneer crop in the new Southwestern States. Not only has the westward movement of the industry been more rapid than that of any other crop, but the centre of production has always been farther in advance of the centre of population. As long ago as 1839 Mississippi was producing almost one-fourth of the entire crop of the country. Recent years have witnessed an enormous development in the regions to the west, which would have carried the centre of production across the Mississippi River if the cultivation of cotton, unlike that of wheat and corn and other products, had not taken a new lease of life in the older States along the Atlantic seaboard, where the use of manures has both extended the area and increased the production.

Probably no equally great industry was ever more completely paralyzed or had its future placed in greater jeopardy than cotton growing in the United States during the war of 1861-1865. So great was the decrease in production which followed the effectual closing of the ports that only one bale of cotton was grown in 1864-1865 for every fifteen bales raised in 1861-1862. The chief menace to the future of cotton production lay in the efforts that were put forth by other cotton-growing countries at this time to produce those particular varieties which had for so long given the United States the monopoly of the European markets; and nothing could more completely demonstrate the remarkable adaptation of our Southern States to the growing of varieties which the experience of generations has proved to be the best for manufacturing purposes than the fact that it took them only thirteen years from the end of the war to regain the primacy of position which they held at its commencement.


When cotton manufacture was introduced into England is not definitely settled. There is no mention of the manufacture or use of cotton in the celebrated poor-law of Elizabeth (1601), though hemp, flax, and wool are expressly named. The first authentic record is in Roberts' Treasure of Traffic, published in 1641; but it is possible, and even probable, that the art was imported from Flanders by the artisans who fled from that country to England in the latter part of the sixteenth century, as it is probable that the manufacture had established itself more or less[Pg 274] firmly before it attracted the attention of the author of the above-named pamphlet. We may presume, then, that it was well established in England by 1641, but after that date the spread was not rapid. The crudeness of the machinery for spinning was such that fine yarn could not be made. Both spinning and weaving were done by individuals and families in their own houses on clumsy and heavy machines. These implements were but little better than those in use two thousand years before. The distaff, the earliest of spinning-machines, was still in use, and the best to be had was the one-thread spinning-wheel. The loom used was scarcely an improvement on that which the East Indian had used centuries before, though it was constructed with greater firmness and compactness. Owing to imperfections in their machines, it was impossible for the Europeans to make cotton yarn combining strength and firmness. The yarn when spun was loose and flimsy; to make it strong it had to be heavy.

The finished web had often to be carried a long distance to market. It was only in 1760 that Manchester merchants began to furnish the weavers in the neighboring villages with linen yarn and raw cotton and to pay a fixed price for the perfected web, thus relieving the weavers of the necessity of providing themselves with material and seeking a market for their cloth, and enabling them to prosecute their employment with greater regularity.

It was also about that time that England began to export her cotton goods, for until then her weavers had not been able to do more than supply the home demand. This foreign trade at once increased the demand for cotton goods, and the increased demand presented a problem which the manufacturers at first found difficult of solution. The procuring of supplies of linen yarn needed for the warp of these textiles was not difficult, but where was the cotton yarn to come from? The spinners were producing already as much as their rude machines would permit, and additional spinners were not to be had. The demand for cotton thread exceeded the supply; the price of yarn rose with the demands of trade and the extension of the manufacture and operated as a check to the further increase of the exports. The trade had reached the point where hand carders, single-thread spinning-wheels, and the hand-loom, requiring a man to each machine,[Pg 275] were clearly inadequate to the service, and the cotton trade of Great Britain in the middle of the eighteenth century seemed to have reached its limit. About this time Hargreaves, Arkwright, Crompton, Cartwright, and Watt, men either directly or indirectly engaged in and familiar with the needs of the cotton manufacture, invented machines which raised the trade from an experimental or at least a struggling industry into the most important manufacture of the world. The carding-engine, the spinning-jenny, the spinning-frame, the stocking-frame, the power-loom, and the adaptation of the steam-engine to the propulsion of these machines, at once supplied the means of producing an immense amount of yarn and cloth. These inventions, it is true, were not in themselves perfect, but the principles on which they were built are those on which the most complicated textile machines of this day are based.

The supply of raw material to meet the demands of the trade was limited. The West Indies, the Levant, and India were the countries from which this supply was drawn, but they were unable to furnish enough raw cotton to keep the new machines in operation, and it was necessary to look elsewhere.

America was the only hope of the cotton manufacturer; but as at that time the United States produced little or no cotton, for a few years all the increased supply came from Brazil.

As Great Britain was the last of the European countries to take up cotton manufacture, and has carried it to its fullest development, so the United States was the last to enter the list of cotton-producing countries, and has been for nearly a hundred years the foremost of them all. The powerful influence that the production of cotton has had upon the commerce, industrial development, and civil institutions of the United States can scarcely be realized by one unfamiliar with the subject.

It is doubtful whether cotton is indigenous to any part of this country, as we have no authentic record of the precise time of its introduction. Cotton seed was brought in from all quarters of the globe, and the American plant, the result of innumerable crossings, remains, as to its origin, a puzzle to botanists.

The beginning of the culture of cotton in the United States occurred about one hundred seventy-five years before the industry became at all important. The first effort to produce[Pg 276] cotton on the North American continent was probably made at Jamestown the year of the arrival of the colonists. In a pamphlet entitled Nova Britannica; Offering Most Excellent Fruits of Planting in Virginia, published in London in 1609, it is stated that cotton would grow as well in that province as in Italy. In another pamphlet, called A Declaration of the State of Virginia, published in London in 1620, the author mentions cotton, wool, and sugar-cane among the "naturall commodities dispersed up and downe the divers parts of the world; all of which may also be had in abundance in Virginia."

According to Bancroft, the first experiment in cotton culture in the colonies was made in Virginia during Wyatt's administration of the government. Writing of that period he says: "The first culture of cotton in the United States deserves commemoration. In this year (1621) the seeds were planted as an experiment, and their 'plentiful coming up' was at that early day a subject of interest in America and England."

Cotton-wool was listed in that year at eightpence a pound, which shows that it may have been grown earlier, for it is scarcely possible that it could have been grown, cleaned, and received in market in the same year. Seabrook states that the "green-seed," or upland, variety was certainly grown in Virginia to a limited extent at least one hundred thirty years before the Revolution. Some of the early governors of that colony were especially energetic in their efforts to encourage its cultivation. Among these were Sir William Berkeley; Francis Morrison, his deputy, and Sir Edmund Andros. The latter, says one authority, "gave particular marks of his favor toward the propagation of cotton, which since his time has been much neglected."

The exports of the Virginia colony during the first thirty years of its existence were confined almost exclusively to tobacco, but there is evidence that in the latter half of the seventeenth century cotton was cultivated and manufactured among the planters for domestic consumption. Burk states that "after the Restoration (1660) their attention was strongly attracted to home manufactures as well by the necessities of their position as by the encouragement of the assembly and the bounty offered by the King. But the zeal displayed in the outset for these products gradually cooled, and if we except the manufacture of coarse[Pg 277] cloths and unpainted cotton, nothing remained of the sounding list prepared with so much labor by the King and recommended by legislation, premium, and royal bounty."

Among the earliest historical references to cotton in this country is that contained in A Brief Description of the Province of Carolina, on the Coasts of Florida, and More Particularly of a New Plantation Begun by the English at Cape Feare, on that River, now by them called Georges River, published in London in 1666. The author of this tract, whose name is not given, says: "In the midst of this fertile province, in the latitude of 34°, there is a colony of English seated, who landed there May 29, 1664." After giving an account of the fertility of the soil and its natural products, he adds: "But they have brought with them most sorts of seeds and roots of the Barbados, which thrive in this most temperate clime. They have indigo, very good tobacco, and cotton-wool." Robert Home mentions cotton among the products of South Carolina in 1666. In Samuel Wilson's Account of the Province of Carolina in America, addressed to the Earl of Craven, and published in London in 1682, it is stated that "cotton of the Cyprus and Smyrna sort grows well, and good plenty of the seed is sent thither," and among the instructions given by the proprietors of South Carolina to Mr. West, the first governor, is the following: "You are then to furnish yourself with cotton-seed, indigo, and ginger-roots." He was also instructed to receive the products of the country in payment of rents at certain fixed valuations, among which cotton was priced at three and one-half pence per pound.

In 1697, in a memoir addressed to Count de Pontchartrain on the importance of establishing a colony in Louisiana, the author, after describing the natural productions of the country, says: "Such are some of the advantages which may be reasonably expected, without counting those resulting from every day's experience. We might, for example, try the experiment of cultivating long-staple cotton." The presumption is that the short-staple variety had already been tried. In the very beginning of the eighteenth century cotton culture in North Carolina had reached the extent of furnishing one-fifth of the people with their clothing. Lawson, speaking of the prosperity of the country and commending the industry of the women, says: "We have not only provision[Pg 278] plentiful, but clothes of our own manufacture, which are made and daily increase; cotton, wool, and flax being of our own growth; and the women are to be highly commended for industry in spinning and ordering their housewifery to so great an advantage as they do."

About this time cotton became widely distributed and cotton-patches were common in Carolina. In fact, it is said to have been one of the principal commodities of Carolina as early as 1708, but its culture was only for domestic uses, and the same authority speaks of its being spun by the women.

Charlevoix, in 1722, while on his voyage down the Mississippi, saw "very fine cotton on the tree" growing in the garden of Sieur le Noir; and Captain Roman, of the British Army, saw in East Mississippi black-seeded cotton growing on the farm of Mr. Krebs, and also a machine invented by Mr. Krebs for the separation of the seed and lint. This was a roller-gin, and possibly the first ever in operation in this country.

Pickett says that in 1728 the colony of Louisiana, which at that date occupied nearly all the southwest part of the United States, including Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, was in a flourishing condition, its fields being cultivated, by more than two thousand slaves, in cotton, indigo, tobacco, and grain.

Peter Purry, the founder of Purryville, in South Carolina, in his description of the Province of South Carolina, drawn up in Charleston in 1731, says, "Flax and cotton thrive admirably."

In 1734 cotton-seed was planted in Georgia, being sent there by Philip Nutter, of Chelsea, England. Francis Moore, who visited Savannah in 1735, in his description of that place, says: "At the bottom of the hill, well sheltered from the north wind and in the warmest part of the garden, there was a collection of West Indian plants and trees, some coffee, some cocoa-nuts, cotton, etc."

About the same time the settlers on the Savannah River, about twenty-one miles north of Savannah, are said to have experimented with cotton, the date being fixed by McCall as 1738. One of the striking features connected with the early culture of cotton in the American colonies is that it was grown as far north as the 39° of latitude. Trench Coxe, of Philadelphia, who contributed so greatly to the early success of the culture and manufacture[Pg 279] of cotton in the United States, says: "It is a fact well authenticated to the writer that the cultivation of cotton on the garden scale, though not at all as a planter's crop, was intimately known and thoroughly practised in the vicinity of Easton, in the county of Talbot, on the eastern shore of the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland, as early as 1736."

Its cultivation was so well understood in this part of the country that, according to the same authority, the necessities of the Revolutionary War occasioned it to be raised for army use in the counties of Cape May, New Jersey, and Sussex, Delaware, and it continued to be raised, though only in small quantities, for family use. At the time of the Revolution, the home-grown cotton was sufficiently abundant in Pennsylvania to supply the domestic needs of that State. Cotton was also cultivated in Charles, St. Mary's, and Dorchester counties, Maryland, as late as 1826. And at a later date (1861-1864) upland cotton was cultivated, and at the prices current at that date was a most profitable crop on the eastern shore of Maryland. Cotton was grown with very good results in Northampton County, on the eastern shore of Virginia, in those years.

The culture and improvement of cotton had received considerable attention by the planters of South Carolina and Georgia as early as 1742. In 1739 Samuel Auspourguer attested under oath that the "climate and soil of Georgia are very fit for raising cotton." William Spicer also certified to the adaptability of the country for cotton production, and that he had "brought over with him (to London) several pods of cotton which grew in Georgia."

A tract entitled A State of the Province of Georgia, Attested Under Oath in the Court of Savannah, published in 1740, says of cotton that "large quantities had been raised, and it is much planted; but the cotton, which in some parts is perennial, dies here in the winter; nevertheless the annual is not inferior to it in goodness, but requires more trouble in cleansing from the seed." In the same tract it was "proposed that a bounty be settled on every product of the land, viz., corn, peas, potatoes, wine, silk, cotton," etc. In A Description of Georgia, by a Gentleman who has Resided there Upward of Seven Years and was One of the First Settlers, published in London in 1741, the author states that[Pg 280] "the annual cotton grows well there, and has been by some industrious people made into clothes."

Samuel Seabrook, in An Important Inquiry into the State and Utility of Georgia, published in 1741, says, "Among other beneficial articles of trade which it is found can be raised there, cotton, of which some has also been brought over as a sample, is mentioned." In his description of St. Simon's Island the same author says: "The country is well cultivated, several parcels of land not far distant from the camp of General Oglethorpe's regiment having been granted in small lots to the soldiers, many of whom are married. The soldiers raise cotton, and their wives spin it and knit it into stockings."

A publication in London in 1762 says: "What cotton and silk both the Carolinas send us is excellent and calls aloud for encouragement of its cultivation in a place well adapted to raise both."

Captain Robinson, an Englishman who visited the coast of Florida in 1754, says the "cotton-tree was growing in that country." The Florida territory then extended from the Atlantic to the Mississippi River. That it was cultivated in East Florida about ten years after this is evidenced by William Stork, who says, "I am informed of a gentleman living upon the St. John's that the lands on that river below Piccolata are in general good, and that there is growing there now (1765) good wheat, Indian corn, indigo, and cotton."

Cotton early attracted the attention of the French colonists in Louisiana. In the year 1752, Michel, in a report to the French minister on the condition of the country, gave interesting details of the cultivation of cotton and the difficulty found in separating the wool from the seed.

In 1758 white Siam seed was introduced into Louisiana. Du Prate says, "This East India annual plant has been found to be much better and whiter than what is cultivated in our colonies, which is of the Turkey kind."

Letters from Paris to Governor Roman state that there is among the French archives at Paris, Department of Marine and Colonies, a most curious and instructive report on cotton in 1760. It was found to be a very profitable crop in Louisiana, for in the year 1768 the French planters, in a memoir to their Government,[Pg 281] complained that the parent Government had turned them over to the Spaniards just "at the time when a new mine had been discovered; when the culture of cotton, improved by experience, promises the planter a recompense of his toils, and furnishes persons engaged in fitting out vessels with the cargoes to load them."

In 1762 Captain Bossu, of the French marines, said: "Cotton of this country (Louisiana) is of the species called the 'white cotton of Siam.' It is neither so fine nor so long as the silk cotton, but it is, however, very white and very fine."

In 1775 the Provincial Congress of South Carolina recommended the cultivation of cotton, and in the same year a similar enactment was passed by the Virginia Assembly, which declared that "all persons having proper land ought to cultivate and raise a quantity of hemp, flax, and cotton, not only for the use of their own families, but to spare to others on moderate terms." This legislation no doubt was suggested on account of the changed relations of the colonies with Great Britain.

In 1786 Thomas Jefferson, in a letter, says: "The four southernmost States make a great deal of cotton. Their poor are almost entirely clothed with it in winter and summer. In winter they wear shirts of it and outer clothing of cotton and wool mixed. In summer their shirts are linen, but the outer clothing cotton. The dress of the women is almost entirely of cotton, manufactured by themselves, except the richer class, and even many of these wear a great deal of homespun cotton. It is as well manufactured as the calicoes of Europe."

At the convention at Annapolis in 1786 James Madison expressed the conviction that from the experience already had "from the garden practice in Talbot County, Maryland, and the circumstances of the same kind abounding in Virginia, there was no reason to doubt that the United States would one day become a great cotton-producing country." This year Sea Island cotton-seed was introduced into Georgia, the seed being sent from the Bahama Islands to Governor Tatnall, William Spaulding, Richard Leake, and Alexander Pisset, of that State. The cotton adapted itself to the climate, and every successive year from 1787 saw long-staple cotton extending itself along the shores of South Carolina and Georgia.[Pg 282]

According to Thomas Spaulding, the first planter who attempted cotton culture on a large scale was Richard Leake, of Savannah, but the editor of Niles Register (1824) says that Nichol Turnbull, a native of Smyrna, was the first planter who cultivated cotton upon a scale for exportation. His residence was at Deptford Hall, three miles from Savannah, where he died in 1824.

In a letter dated Savannah, December 11, 1788, to Colonel Thomas Proctor, of Philadelphia, Leake says: "I have been this year an adventurer—and the first that has attempted it on a large scale—in introducing a new staple for the planting interests—the article of cotton—samples of which I beg leave now to send you and request you will lay them before the Philadelphia Society for Encouraging Manufactures, that the quality may be inspected. Several here, as well as in North Carolina, have followed me and tried the experiment, and it is likely to answer our most sanguine expectations. I shall raise about five thousand pounds in the seed from eight acres of land, and next year I intend to plant about fifty to one hundred acres if suitable encouragement is given. The principal difficulty that arises to us is the cleansing it from the seed, which I am told they do with great dexterity and ease in Philadelphia with gins or machines made for the purpose. I am told they make those that will clean thirty to forty pounds clean cotton in a day and upon very simple construction."

The first attempt in South Carolina to produce Sea Island cotton was made in 1788 by Mrs. Kinsey Burden at Burden's Island. As early as 1779 the short staple was produced by her husband, whose negroes were clothed in homespun cotton cloth. Mrs. Burden's efforts failed. The plants did not mature, and this was attributed to the seed, which was of the Bourbon variety. The first successful variety appears to have been grown by William Elliot on Hilton Head, near Beaufort, in 1790, with five and one-half bushels of seed, which he bought in Charleston and for which he paid fourteen shillings a bushel. He sold his crop for ten and one-half pence a pound.

In 1791 John Scriven, of St. Luke's Parish, planted thirty to forty acres on St. Mary's River. He sold it for from one shilling twopence to one shilling sixpence per pound. It is certain that at this period many planters on the Sea Islands and contiguous[Pg 283] mainland experimented with long-staple cotton, and probably it was produced by them for market.

One of the earliest reports of export of cotton from the colonies is a bill of lading which certifies that on July 20, 1751, Henry Hansen shipped, "in good order and well conditioned, in and upon the good snow called the Mary, whereof is master under God, for this present voyage, Barnaby Badgers, and now riding in the harbor of New York, and by God's grace bound for London—to say—eighteen bales of cotton-wool, being marked and numbered as in the margin, and are to be delivered in like good order and conditioned, at the aforesaid port of London—the danger of the sea only excepted—unto Messrs. Horke and Champior or their assigns, he or they paying freight for the said goods, three farthings per pound, primage and average accustomed."

The feeling regarding the culture and manufacture of cotton in the colonies at this period may be gathered from the following extract from a letter of July 7, 1749, addressed by the Georgia office of London to the Governor of Georgia: "You say, sir, likewise in your letter, that the people of Vernonburgh and Acton are giving visible appearance of revising their industry; that they are propagating large quantities of flax and cotton, and that they are provided with weavers, who have already wove several large pieces of cloth of a useful sort, whereof they sold divers, and some they made use of in their own families. The account of their industry is highly satisfactory to the trustees; but as to manufacturing the produces they raise, they must expect no encouragement from the trustees, for setting up manufactures which may interfere with those of England might occasion complaints here, for which reason you must, as they will, discountenance them; and it is necessary for you to direct the industry of these people into a way which might be more beneficial to themselves and would prove satisfactory to the trustees and the public; that is, to show them what advantages they will reap from the produce of silk, which they will receive immediate pay for, and that this will not interfere with or prevent their raising flax or cotton, or any other produces for exportation, unmanufactured."

A pamphlet entitled A Description of South Carolina states that cotton was imported to Carolina from the West Indies, and it is probable that the early shipments from this country were of[Pg 284] this West Indian cotton, although English writers mentioned it as an import of Carolina cotton.

Donnell says: "The first regular exportation of cotton from Charleston was in 1785, when one bag arrived at Liverpool, per ship Diana, to John and Isaac Teasdale & Co. The exportation of cotton from the United States could not have been much earlier, for we find in 1784 eight bags shipped to England were seized on the ground of fraudulent importation, as it was not believed that so much cotton could be produced in the United States."

The exportation during the next six years was successively 6, 14, 109, 389, 842, and 81 bags.

Dana gives the following data concerning the export movement from 1739 to 1793:

"1739. Samuel Auspourguer, a Swiss living in Georgia, took over to London, at the time of the controversy about the introduction of slaves, a sample of cotton raised by him in Georgia. This we may call, in the absence of a better starting-point, the first export.

"1747. During this year several bags of cotton, valued at £3 11s. 5d. per bag, were exported from Charleston. Doubts as to this being of American growth have been expressed, but as cotton had been cultivated in South Carolina for many years there does not seem to be any reason for such doubts. Besides, English writers mention it as an import of Carolina cotton.

"1753. 'Some cotton' is mentioned among the exports of Carolina in 1753, and of Charleston in 1757.

"1764. Eight (8) bags of cotton imported into Liverpool from the United States.

"1770. Three (3) bales shipped to Liverpool from New York; ten (10) bales from Charleston; four (4) from Virginia and Maryland; and three (3) barrels from North Carolina.

"1784. About fourteen (14) bales shipped to great Britain, of which eight (8) were seized as improperly entered. [See above.]

"1785. Five (5) bags imported at Liverpool.

"1786. Nine hundred (900) pounds imported into Liverpool.

"1787. Sixteen thousand three hundred fifty (16,350) pounds imported into Liverpool.[Pg 285]

"1788. Fifty-eight thousand five hundred (58,500) pounds imported into Liverpool.

"1789. One hundred twenty-seven thousand five hundred (127,500) pounds imported into Liverpool.

"1790. Fourteen thousand (14,000) pounds imported into Liverpool. We can find no reason for this marked decline in the exports except it may be that the crop was a failure that year. Our first supposition was that the cause was one of price, but on examining the quotations in Took's work on 'high and low prices' we do not see any marked decline in the values of other descriptions of cotton, and the American staple is not given in his list until 1793.

"1791. One hundred eighty-nine thousand five hundred (189,500) pounds imported into Liverpool, the price averaging here 26 cents.

"1792. One hundred thirty-eight thousand three hundred twenty-eight (138,328) pounds imported into Liverpool."

Great difficulty was experienced in separating the seed from the lint of upland cotton. The work was done by hand, the task being four pounds of lint cotton per week from each head of a family, in addition to the usual field-work. This would amount to one bale in two years. A French planter of Louisiana (Dubreuil) is said to have invented a machine for separating lint and seed as early as 1742. The demand for such a machine not being very great at that date, no record as to its character has been preserved. The roller-gin, in very much the same form as Nearchus, the admiral of Alexander the Great, found it in India, was still in use. In 1790 Dr. Joseph Eve, originally from the Bahamas, but then a resident of Augusta, Georgia, made great improvements on this ancient machine, and adapted it to be run by horse- or water-power. A correspondent of the American Museum, writing from Charleston, South Carolina, in July of that year, states "that a gentleman well acquainted with the cotton manufacture had already completed and in operation, on the high hills of Santee, near Statesburg, ginning, carding, and other machines driven by water, and also spinning-machines with eighty-five spindles each, with every article necessary for manufacturing cotton." A machine dating anterior to this year, and having a strong resemblance to the above, possessing in fact all[Pg 286] the essentials of a modern cotton-gin, was exhibited at the Atlanta Exposition in 1882. It came from the neighborhood of Statesburg, but its history could not be ascertained.

In 1793 Eli Whitney petitioned for a patent for the invention of the saw cotton-gin. His claims were disputed, and he defended them in the State and Federal courts for nearly a generation, obtaining at last a verdict in his favor. Meanwhile the saw-gin had become an established fact, and the planter at last had a machine which enabled him to produce cotton at a cost that would leave him a good profit. The first saw-gin to be run by water-power was erected in 1795 by James Kincaid near Monticello, in Fairfield County, South Carolina. Others were put up near Columbia by Wade Hampton, Sr., in 1797, and in the year following he gathered and ginned from six hundred acres six hundred bales of cotton.

The cotton exportation from the United States increased from four hundred eighty-seven thousand six hundred pounds in 1793 to one million six hundred thousand pounds in 1794, the year in which Whitney's gin was patented. In 1796, a year after he had improved his machine, the production had risen to ten million pounds. In fact, the increased production was so great that the planters began to fear they would overstock the market, and one of them, upon looking at his newly gathered crop, exclaimed: "Well, I have done with cultivation of cotton; there's enough in that gin-house to make stockings for all the people in America." Yet the production of cotton did not advance with that rapidity to which we are now accustomed.

The cotton industry being of secondary importance prior to 1790, information and statistics relative to the amount produced are not available, but within one hundred years, from 1790 to 1890, the production of cotton in the United States increased from five thousand bales to over ten million bales.

The first cotton-mill erected in the United States was built at Beverly, Massachusetts, in 1787-1788. This was soon followed by others in various towns along the east border of the country, especially Pawtucket and Providence, Rhode Island; Boston, Massachusetts; New Haven and Norwich, Connecticut; New York City; Paterson, New Jersey; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Statesburg, South Carolina. In them carding and spinning[Pg 287] were done by machinery, but the weaving was on hand-looms until 1815, at which date a power-loom mill was started at Waltham, Massachusetts. The use of hand-looms and spinning-wheels for cotton manufacture was common in all parts of the country before the Revolution, especially in the Southern colonies, and these continued to be used by the women in their houses many years after the erection of cotton factories.


Mr. Whitney had scarcely set his foot in Georgia when he was met by a disappointment which was an earnest of that long series of adverse events which, with scarcely an exception, attended all his future negotiations in the same State. On his arrival he was informed that Mr. B. had employed another teacher, leaving Whitney entirely without resources or friends, except those whom he had made in the family of General Greene. In these benevolent people, however, his case excited much interest, and Mrs. Greene kindly said to him: "My young friend, you propose studying the law; make my house your home, your room your castle, and there pursue what studies you please." He accordingly began the study of law under that hospitable roof.

Mrs. Greene was engaged in a piece of embroidery in which she employed a peculiar kind of frame called a tambour. She complained that it was badly constructed, and that it tore the delicate threads of her work. Mr. Whitney, eager for an opportunity to oblige his hostess, set himself at work and speedily produced a tambour-frame made on a plan entirely new, which he presented to her. Mrs. Greene and her family were greatly delighted with it, and thought it a wonderful proof of ingenuity.

Not long afterward, a large party of gentlemen came from Augusta and the upper country to visit the family of General Greene, consisting principally of officers who had served under the General in the Revolutionary Army. Among the number were Major Bremen, Forsyth, and Pendleton. They fell into conversation upon the state of agriculture among them, and expressed great regret that there was no means of cleaning the green-seed cotton, or separating it from its seed, since all the lands which were unsuitable for the cultivation of rice would yield[Pg 288] large crops of cotton. But until ingenuity could devise some machine which would greatly facilitate the process of cleaning, it was in vain to think of raising cotton for market. Separating one pound of the clean staple from the seed was a day's work for a woman; but the time usually devoted to picking cotton was the evening, after the labor of the field was over. Then the slaves, men, women, and children, were collected in circles with one whose duty it was to rouse the dozing and quicken the indolent. While the company were engaged in this conversation, "Gentlemen," said Mrs. Greene, "apply to my young friend, Mr. Whitney—he can make anything." Upon which she conducted them into a neighboring room, and showed them her tambour-frame, and a number of toys which Mr. Whitney had made or repaired for the children. She then introduced the gentlemen to Whitney himself, extolling his genius and commending him to their notice and friendship. He modestly disclaimed all pretensions to mechanical genius; and when they named their object, he replied that he had never seen either cotton or cotton-seed in his life. Mrs. Greene said to one of the gentlemen: "I have accomplished my aim. Mr. Whitney is a very deserving young man, and to bring him into notice was my object. The interest which our friends now feel for him will, I hope, lead to his getting some employment to enable him to prosecute the study of the law."

But a new turn that no one of the company dreamed of had been given to Mr. Whitney's views. It being out of season for cotton in the seed, he went to Savannah and searched among the warehouses and boats until he found a small parcel of it. This he carried home, and communicated his intentions to Mr. Miller, who warmly encouraged him, and assigned him a room in the basement of the house, where he set himself at work with such rude materials and instruments as a Georgia plantation afforded. With these resources, however, he made tools better suited to his purpose, and drew his own wire—of which the teeth of the earliest gins were made—an article which was not at that time to be found in the market of Savannah. Mrs. Greene and Mr. Miller were the only persons ever admitted to his workshop, and the only persons who knew in what way he was employing himself. The many hours he spent in his mysterious pursuits afforded matter of great curiosity and often of raillery to the younger members[Pg 289] of the family. Near the close of the winter, the machine was so nearly completed as to leave no doubt of its success.

Mrs. Greene was eager to communicate to her numerous friends the knowledge of this important invention, peculiarly important at that time, because then the market was glutted with all those articles which were suited to the climate and soil of Georgia, and nothing could be found to give occupation to the negroes, and support to the white inhabitants. This opened suddenly to the planters boundless resources of wealth, and rendered the occupations of the slaves less unhealthy and laborious than they had been before.

Mrs. Greene, therefore, invited to her house gentlemen from different parts of the State, and on the first day after they had assembled she conducted them to a temporary building, which had been erected for the machine, and they saw with astonishment and delight that more cotton could be separated from the seed in one day, by the labor of a single hand, than could be done in the usual manner in the space of many months.

Mr. Whitney might now have indulged in bright reveries of fortune and of fame; but we shall have various opportunities of seeing that he tempered his inventive genius with an unusual share of the calm, considerate qualities of the financier. Although urged by his friends to secure a patent and devote himself to the manufacture and introduction of his machines, he coolly replied that on account of the great expense and trouble which always attend the introduction of a new invention, and the difficulty of enforcing a law in favor of patentees, in opposition to the individual interests of so large a number of persons as would be concerned in the culture of this article, it was with great reluctance that he should consent to relinquish the hopes of a lucrative profession, for which he had been destined, with an expectation of indemnity either from the justice or the gratitude of his countrymen, even should the invention answer the most sanguine anticipations of his friends.

The individual who contributed most to incite him to persevere in the undertaking was Phineas Miller, Esq. Mr. Miller was a native of Connecticut and graduate of Yale College. Like Mr. Whitney, soon after he had completed his education at college, he came to Georgia as a private teacher in the family of[Pg 290] General Greene, and after the decease of the general he became the husband of Mrs. Greene. He had qualified himself for the profession of law, and was a gentleman of cultivated mind and superior talents; but he was of an ardent temperament, and therefore well fitted to enter with zeal into the views which the genius of his friend had laid open to him. He had also considerable funds at command, and proposed to Mr. Whitney to become his joint adventurer, and to be at the whole expense of maturing the invention until it should be patented. If the machine should succeed in its intended operation, the parties agreed, under legal formalities, "that the profits and advantages arising therefrom, as well as all privileges and emoluments to be derived from patenting, making, vending, and working the same, should be mutually and equally shared between them." This instrument bears date May 27, 1793, and immediately afterward they began business, under the firm of Miller & Whitney.

An invention so important to the agricultural interest, and, as has proved, to every department of human industry, could not long remain a secret. The knowledge of it soon spread through the State, and so great was the excitement on the subject that multitudes of persons came from all quarters of the State to see the machine; but it was not deemed safe to gratify their curiosity until the patent-right had been secured. But so determined were some of the populace to possess this treasure that neither law nor justice could restrain them—they broke open the building by night and carried off the machine. In this way the public became possessed of the invention; and before Mr. Whitney could complete his model and secure his patent, a number of machines were in successful operation, constructed with some slight deviation from the original, with the hope of evading the penalty for violating the patent-right.

As soon as the copartnership of Miller & Whitney was formed, Mr. Whitney repaired to Connecticut, where, as far as possible, he was to perfect the machine, obtain a patent, and manufacture and ship for Georgia such a number of machines as would supply the demand.

Within three days after the conclusion of the copartnership, Mr. Whitney having set out for the North, Mr. Miller commenced his long correspondence relative to the cotton-gin. The[Pg 291] first letter announces that encroachments upon their rights had already commenced. "It will be necessary," says Mr. Miller, "to have a considerable number of gins made, to be in readiness to send out as soon as the patent is obtained, in order to satisfy the absolute demand, and make people's heads easy on the subject; for I am informed of two other claimants for the honor of the invention of cotton-gins, in addition to those we knew before."

On June 20, 1793, Mr. Whitney presented his petition for a patent to Mr. Jefferson, then Secretary of State; but the prevalence of the yellow fever in Philadelphia—which was then the seat of government—prevented his concluding the business relative to the patent until several months afterward. To prevent being anticipated, he took, however, the precaution to make oath to the invention before the notary public of the city of New Haven, which he did October 28th of the same year.

Mr. Jefferson, who had much curiosity in regard to mechanical inventions, took a peculiar interest in this machine, and addressed to the inventor an obliging letter, desiring further particulars respecting it, and expressing a wish to procure one for his own use. Mr. Whitney accordingly sketched the history of the invention, and of the construction and performances of the machine. "It is about a year," says he, "since I first turned my attention to constructing this machine, at which time I was in the State of Georgia. Within about ten days after my first conception of the plan I made a small though imperfect model. Experiments with this encouraged me to make one on a larger scale; but the extreme difficulty of procuring workmen and proper materials in Georgia prevented my completing the larger one until some time in April last. This, though much larger than my first attempt, is not above one-third as large as the machines may be made with convenience. The cylinder is only two feet two inches in length and six inches diameter. It is turned by hand, and requires the strength of one man to keep it in constant motion. It is the stated task of one negro to clean fifty weight—I mean fifty pounds after it is separated from the seed—of the green-seed cotton per day." In the same letter Mr. Jefferson assured Mr. Whitney that a patent would be granted as soon as the model was lodged in the Patent Office. In mentioning the favorable notice of Mr. Jefferson to his friend Stebbins, he adds,[Pg 292] with characteristic moderation, "I hope, by perseverance, I shall make something of it yet."

At the close of this year (1793) Mr. Whitney was to return to Georgia with his cotton-gins, and Mr. Miller had made arrangements for commencing business immediately after his arrival. The plan was to erect machines in every part of the cotton district and engross the entire business themselves. This was evidently an unfortunate scheme. It rendered the business very extensive and complicated, and, as it did not at once supply the demands of the cotton-growers, it multiplied the inducements to make the machines in violation of the patent. Had the proprietors confined their views to the manufacture of the machines and to the sale of patent-rights, it is probable they would have avoided some of the difficulties with which they afterward had to contend. The prospect of making suddenly an immense fortune by the business of ginning, where every third pound of cotton (worth at that time from twenty-five to thirty-three cents) was their own, presented great and peculiar attractions. Mr. Whitney's return to Georgia was delayed until the following April. The importunity of Mr. Miller's letters, written during the preceding period, urging him to come on, evinces how eager the Georgia planters were to enter the new field of enterprise which the genius of Whitney had laid open to them. Nor did they at first, in general, contemplate availing themselves of the invention unlawfully. But the minds of the more honorable class of planters were afterward deluded by various artifices, set on foot by designing men, with the view of robbing Mr. Whitney of his just right.

One of the greatest difficulties experienced by men of enterprise, at the period under review, was the extreme scarcity of money. In order to carry on the manufacture of cotton-gins, and to make advances in the purchase of cotton and establishments for ginning, to an extent in any degree proportioned to their wishes, Miller & Whitney required a much greater capital than they could command; and the sanguine temperament of Mr. Miller was constantly prompting him to advance in hazards much further than the more cautious spirit of Mr. Whitney would follow. But even the latter found it necessary sometimes to borrow money at an enormous interest. The first loan (for $2000) was made on terms which were deemed at that time peculiarly[Pg 293] favorable; yet the company were to pay 5 per cent. premium in addition to the lawful interest. This was in 1794. In consequence of the numerous speculations in new lands into which so many of our countrymen were deluded, and the want of confidence created by the very application for a loan, the pressure for money was continually increasing. In 1796 Mr. Whitney applied to a friend in Boston to raise money for him on a loan, and received the following reply: "I applied to one of those vultures called brokers, who are preying on the purse-strings of the industrious, and was informed that he can procure the sum you wish at a premium of 20 per cent. on the following conditions, viz.: You must make over and deposit with him public securities, such as funded stock, bank stock, or any kind of State notes, or Connecticut reservation land certificates, sufficient, at the going prices, fully to secure the debt and premium." In a more embarrassed state of Mr. Miller's private affairs, several years afterward, he paid the enormous interest of 5, 6, and even 7 per cent. per month.

We have said that the loan contracted by Mr. Whitney, in 1794, at a premium of 5 per cent. in addition to the lawful interest, was regarded as peculiarly favorable; this is evident from the fact that, during the same year, Mr. Miller urges him to contract a new loan, if possible, for $3000, at 12 or 14 per cent. provided it could be extended over a year.

In July, 1794, Mr. Whitney was confined by a severe illness, from which he recovered slowly; but his business received a still further interruption from a very fatal sickness, the scarlet fever, which prevailed in New Haven during this year, and which attacked a number of his workmen.

Under all these discouragements Mr. Miller was constantly writing the most urgent letters from Georgia, to press forward the manufacture of machines. "Do not let a deficiency of money, do not let anything," says Mr. Miller, "hinder the speedy construction of the gins. The people of the country are almost running mad for them, and much can be said to justify their importunity. When the present crop is harvested, there will be a real property of at least $50,000, yes, of $100,000, lying useless, unless we can enable the holders to bring it to market. Pray remember that we must have from fifty to one hundred gins between this and another fall, if there are any workmen in New England or in the Middle[Pg 294] States to make them. In two years we will begin to take long steps up-hill, in the business of patent ginning, fortune favoring."

The general resort of the planters to the cultivation of cotton, and its consequent production in vast quantities, the value of which depended entirely upon the chance of getting it cleaned by the gin, created great uneasiness, which first displayed itself in this pressure upon Miller & Whitney, and afterward afforded great encouragement to the marauders upon the patent-right, who were now becoming numerous and audacious.

The roller-gin was at first the most formidable competitor with Whitney's machine. It extricated the seeds by means of rollers, crushing them between revolving cylinders, instead of disengaging them by means of teeth. The fragments of seeds which remained in the cotton rendered its execution much inferior in this respect to Whitney's gin, and it was also much slower in its operation. Great efforts were made, however, to create an impression in favor of its superiority in other respects.

But a still more formidable rival appeared early in the year 1795, under the name of the saw-gin. It was Whitney's gin, except that the teeth were cut in circular rims of iron, instead of being made of wires, as was the case in the earlier forms of the patent gin. The idea of such teeth had early occurred to Mr. Whitney, as he afterward established by legal proof. But they would have been of no use except in connection with the other parts of his machine, and, therefore, this was a palpable attempt to evade the patent-right, and it was principally in reference to this that the lawsuits were afterward held.

It would be difficult to estimate the full value of Mr. Whitney's labors, without going into a minuteness of detail inconsistent with our limits. Every cotton garment bears the impress of his genius, and the ships that transported it across the waters were the heralds of his fame, and the cities that have risen to opulence by the cotton trade must attribute no small share of their prosperity to the inventor of the cotton-gin. We have before us the declaration of the late Mr. Fulton, that Arkwright, Watt, and Whitney—we would add Fulton to the number—were the three men who did most for mankind, of any of their contemporaries; and in the sense in which he intended it, the remark is probably true.

[Pg 295]



a.d. 1793


In the early days of the French Revolution many moderates who favored reform of the monarchy, but not its abolition, were wholly alienated by the condemnation and execution of Louis XVI, after what has been regarded as a mock trial by the National Convention. It was a still graver effect of this tragedy that it impelled the leading European powers to join in the great coalition against France contemplated in the Convention of Pillnitz (August, 1791).

Scarcely less was the influence upon the internal affairs of France from the murder of Marat by Charlotte Corday.

Jean Paul Marat, sometimes called, from the name of a paper which he published, the "Friend of the People," was one of the most ultra-revolutionary of the Jacobin leaders in the National Convention. By his murder the "Red Republicans"—the extreme radical party in the Convention, called the "Mountain" because they occupied the higher seats in the hall—were confirmed in their determination to destroy their opponents, the moderate republicans, called Girondists or Girondins. Many of the Girondist leaders, among them some of the most distinguished men in France, were soon sent to the guillotine, and the Reign of Terror was fully inaugurated. Carlyle calls Marat "atrocious," and so most writers regard him, but there are not wanting some to vindicate his character and purposes.

These tragic scenes, and the opening of the civil war which followed, known as the War of La Vendée, are depicted by Carlyle in that manner, all his own, which invests his history of the French Revolution at once with the element of realism and an air of romance.

Louis XVI was first deposed by the National Convention, and then brought to trial for conspiring with foreign enemies of France, for aiming to subvert French liberties, and for being the cause of the massacre of the Swiss Guards who defended the Tuileries (August 10, 1792) against a mob seeking the King's life. Louis was found "guilty," and, after a long wrangle in the Convention over the question of punishment, a small majority was given (January 20, 1793) for the decree of death. It was voted that there should be no delay of the execution.

[Pg 296]

To this conclusion, then, hast thou come, O hapless Louis! The Son of Sixty Kings is to die on the Scaffold by form of Law. Under Sixty Kings this same form of Law, form of Society, has been fashioning itself together these thousand years; and has become, one way and other, a most strange Machine. Surely, if needful, it is also frightful, this Machine; dead, blind; not what it should be; which, with swift stroke, or by cold slow torture, has wasted the lives and souls of innumerable men. And behold now a King himself, or say rather Kinghood in his person, is to expire here in cruel tortures; like a Phalaris shut in the belly of his own red-heated Brazen Bull! It is ever so; and thou shouldst know it, O haughty tyrannous man: injustice breeds injustice; curses and falsehoods do verily return "always home," wide as they may wander. Innocent Louis bears the sins of many generations: he too experiences that man's tribunal is not in this Earth; that if he had no Higher one, it were not well with him.

A King dying by such violence appeals impressively to the imagination; as the like must do, and ought to do. And yet at bottom it is not the King dying, but the man! Kingship is a coat: the grand loss is of the skin. The man from whom you take his Life, to him can the whole combined world do more? Lally went on his hurdle; his mouth filled with a gag. Miserablest mortals, doomed for picking pockets, have a whole five-act Tragedy in them, in that dumb pain, as they go to the gallows, unregarded; they consume the cup of trembling down to the lees. For Kings and for Beggars, for the justly doomed and the unjustly, it is a hard thing to die. Pity them all: thy utmost pity, with all aids and appliances and throne-and-scaffold contrasts, how far short is it of the thing pitied!

A Confessor has come; Abbé Edgeworth, of Irish extraction, whom the King knew by good report, has come promptly on this solemn mission. Leave the Earth alone, then, thou hapless King; it with its malice will go its way, thou also canst go thine. A hard scene yet remains: the parting with our loved ones. Kind hearts environed in the same grim peril with us; to be left here! Let the Reader look with the eyes of Valet Cléry through these glass doors, where also the Municipality watches, and see the cruelest of scenes:[Pg 297]

"At half-past eight, the door of the anteroom opened: the Queen appeared first, leading her Son by the hand; then Madame Royale and Madame Elizabeth: they all flung themselves into the arms of the King. Silence reigned for some minutes; interrupted only by sobs. The Queen made a movement to lead his Majesty towards the inner room where M. Edgeworth was waiting unknown to them: 'No,' said the King, 'let us go into the dining-room; it is there only that I can see you.' They entered there; I shut the door of it, which was of glass. The King sat down, the Queen on his left hand, Madame Elizabeth on his right, Madame Royale almost in front; the young Prince remained standing between his Father's legs. They all leaned toward him, and often held him embraced. This scene of woe lasted an hour and three-quarters; during which we could hear nothing; we could see only that always when the King spoke, the sobbings of the Princesses redoubled, continued for some minutes; and that then the King began again to speak."

And so our meetings and our partings do now end! The sorrows we gave each other; the poor joys we faithfully shared, and all our lovings and our sufferings, and confused toilings under the earthly Sun, are over. Thou good soul, I shall never, never through all ages of Time, see thee any more!

Never! O Reader, knowest thou that hard word?

For nearly two hours this agony lasts; then they tear themselves asunder. "Promise that you will see us on the morrow." He promises: Ah yes, yes; yet once; and go now, ye loved ones; cry to God for yourselves and me! It was a hard scene, but it is over. He will not see them on the morrow. The Queen, in passing through the anteroom, glanced at the Cerberus Municipals; and, with woman's vehemence, said through her tears, "Vous êtes tous des scélérats!" ("You are all scoundrels!")

King Louis slept sound, till five in the morning, when Cléry, as he had been ordered, awoke him. Cléry dressed his hair. While this went forward, Louis took a ring from his watch, and kept trying it on his finger: it was his wedding-ring, which he is now to return to the Queen as a mute farewell. At half-past six, he took the Sacrament; and continued in devotion, and conference with Abbé Edgeworth. He will not see his Family: it were too hard to bear.[Pg 298]

At eight, the Municipals enter: the King gives them his Will, and messages and effects; which they, at first, brutally refuse to take charge of: he gives them a roll of gold pieces, a hundred and twenty-five louis; these are to be returned to Malesherbes, who had lent them. At nine, Santerre says the hour is come. The King begs yet to retire for three minutes. At the end of three minutes, Santerre again says the hour is come. "Stamping on the ground with his right foot, Louis answers: 'Partons' ('Let us go')." How the rolling of those drums comes in through the Temple bastions and bulwarks, on the heart of a queenly wife; soon to be a widow! He is gone then, and has not seen us? A Queen weeps bitterly; a King's Sister and Children. Over all these Four does Death also hover: all shall perish miserably save one; she, as Duchesse d'Angoulême, will live—not happily.

At the Temple Gate were some faint cries, perhaps from voices of pitiful women: "Grâce! Grâce!" Through the rest of the streets there is silence as of the grave. No man not armed is allowed to be there: the armed, did any even pity, dare not express it, each man overawed by all his neighbors. All windows are down, none seen looking through them. All shops are shut. No wheel-carriage rolls, this morning, in these streets but one only. Eighty thousand armed men stand ranked, like armed statues of men; cannons bristle, cannoneers with match burning, but no word or movement: it is as a city enchanted into silence and stone: one carriage with its escort, slowly rumbling, is the only sound. Louis reads, in his Book of Devotion, the Prayers of the Dying: clatter of this death-march falls sharp on the ear, in the great silence; but the thought would fain struggle heavenward, and forget the Earth.

As the clocks strike ten, behold the Place de la Révolution, once Place de Louis Quinze: the Guillotine, mounted near the old Pedestal where once stood the Statue of that Louis! Far round, all bristles with cannons and armed men: spectators crowding in the rear; D'Orléans Égalité there in cabriolet. Swift messengers, hoquetons, speed to the Town-hall every three minutes: near by is the Convention sitting—vengeful for Lepelletier. Heedless of all, Louis reads his Prayers of the Dying; not till five minutes yet has he finished; then the Carriage opens. What temper he is in? Ten different witnesses will give ten different[Pg 299] accounts of it. He is in the collision of all tempers; arrived now at the black Maelstrom and descent of Death: in sorrow, in indignation, in resignation struggling to be resigned. "Take care of M. Edgeworth," he straitly charges the Lieutenant who is sitting with them: then they two descend.

The drums are beating: "Taisez-vous!" ("Silence!") he cries "in a terrible voice" (d'une voix terrible). He mounts the scaffold, not without delay; he is in puce coat, breeches of gray, white stockings. He strips off the coat; stands disclosed in a sleeve-waistcoat of white flannel. The Executioners approach to bind him: he spurns, resists; Abbé Edgeworth has to remind him how the Saviour, in whom men trust, submitted to be bound. His hands are tied, his head bare; the fatal moment is come. He advances to the edge of the Scaffold, "his face very red," and says: "Frenchmen, I die innocent: it is from the Scaffold and near appearing before God that I tell you so. I pardon my enemies; I desire that France——" A General on horseback, Santerre or another, prances out, with uplifted hand: "Tambours!" The drums drown the voice. "Executioners, do your duty!" The Executioners, desperate lest themselves be murdered (for Santerre and his Armed Ranks will strike, if they do not), seize the hapless Louis: six of them desperate, him singly desperate, struggling there; and bind him to their plank. Abbé Edgeworth, stooping, bespeaks him: "Son of Saint Louis, ascend to Heaven." The Axe clanks down; a King's Life is shorn away. It is Monday, January 21, 1793. He was aged thirty-eight years four months and twenty-eight days.

Executioner Samson shows the Head: fierce shout of "Vive la République" rises, and swells; caps raised on bayonets, hats waving: students of the College of Four Nations take it up, on the far Quais; fling it over Paris. D'Orléans drives off in his cabriolet: the Town-hall Councillors rub their hands, saying, "It is done, It is done." There is dipping of handkerchiefs, of pike-points in the blood. Headsman Samson, though he afterward denied it, sells locks of the hair: fractions of the puce coat are long after worn in rings.—And so, in some half-hour it is done and the multitude has all departed. Pastry-cooks, coffee-sellers, milkmen sing out their trivial quotidian cries: the world wags on, as if this were a common day. In the coffee-houses that evening,[Pg 300] says Prudhomme, Patriot shook hands with Patriot in a more cordial manner than usual. Not till some days after, according to Mercier, did public men see what a grave thing it was.

In the leafy months of June and July, several French Departments germinate a set of rebellious paper-leaves, named Proclamations, Resolutions, Journals, or Diurnals, "of the Union for Resistance to Oppression." In particular, the Town of Caen, in Calvados, sees its paper-leaf of Bulletin de Caen suddenly bud, suddenly establish itself as Newspaper there; under the Editorship of Girondin National Representatives!

For among the proscribed Girondins are certain of a more desperate humor. Some, as Vergniaud, Valazé, Gensonné, "arrested in their own houses," will await with stoical resignation what the issue may be. Some, as Brissot, Rabaut, will take to flight, to concealment; which, as the Paris Barriers are opened again in a day or two, is not yet difficult. But others there are who will rush, with Buzot, to Calvados; or far over France, to Lyons, Toulon, Nantes and elsewhither, and then rendezvous at Caen: to awaken as with war-trumpet the respectable Departments; and strike down an anarchic "Mountain" Faction; at least not yield without a stroke at it. Of this latter temper we count some score or more, of the Arrested, and of the Not-yet-arrested: a Buzot, a Barbaroux, Louvet, Guadet, Pétion, who have escaped from Arrestment in their own homes; a Salles, a Pythagorean Valady, a Duchâtel, the Duchâtel that came in blanket and nightcap to vote for the life of Louis, who have escaped from danger and likelihood of Arrestment. These, to the number at one time of Twenty-seven, do accordingly lodge here, at the "Intendance, or Departmental Mansion," of the town of Caen in Calvados; welcomed by Persons in Authority; welcomed and defrayed, having no money of their own. And the Bulletin de Caen comes forth, with the most animating paragraphs: How the Bordeaux Department, the Lyons Department, this Department after the other is declaring itself; sixty, or say sixty-nine, or seventy-two respectable Departments either declaring, or ready to declare. Nay Marseilles, it seems, will march on Paris by itself, if need be. So has Marseilles Town said, That she will march. But on the other hand, that Montélimart Town has said, No thoroughfare; and means even to[Pg 301] "bury herself" under her own stone and mortar first—of this be no mention in Bulletin de Caen.

Such animating paragraphs we read in this new Newspaper; and fervors and eloquent sarcasm: tirades against the "Mountain," from the pen of Deputy Salles; which resemble, say friends, Pascal's Provincials. What is more to the purpose, these Girondins have got a General-in-chief, one Wimpfen, formerly under Dumouriez; also a secondary questionable General Puisaye, and others; and are doing their best to raise a force for war. National Volunteers, whosoever is of right heart: gather in, ye national Volunteers, friends of Liberty; from our Calvados Townships, from the Eure, from Brittany, from far and near: forward to Paris, and extinguish Anarchy! Thus at Caen, in the early July days, there is a drumming and parading, a perorating and consulting: Staff and Army; Council; Club of Carabots, Anti-Jacobin friends of Freedom, to denounce atrocious Marat. With all which, and the editing of Bulletins, a National Representative has his hands full.

At Caen it is most animated; and, as one hopes, more or less animated in the "Seventy-two Departments that adhere to us." And in a France begirt with Cimmerian invading Coalitions, and torn with an internal La Vendée, this is the conclusion we have arrived at: to put down Anarchy by Civil War! Durum et durum, the Proverb says, non faciunt murum. La Vendée burns: Santerre can do nothing there; he may return home and brew beer. Cimmerian bombshells fly all along the North. That Siege of Mainz is become famed; lovers of the Picturesque (as Goethe will testify), washed country-people of both sexes, stroll thither on Sundays, to see the artillery work and counterwork; "you only duck a little while the shot whizzes past." Condé is capitulating to the Austrians; Royal Highness of York, these several weeks, fiercely batters Valenciennes. For, alas, our fortified Camp of Famars was stormed; General Dampierre was killed; General Custine was blamed—and indeed is now come to Paris to give "explanations."

Against all which the Mountain and atrocious Marat must even make head as they can. They, anarchic Convention as they are, publish Decrees, expostulatory, explanatory, yet not without severity; they ray forth Commissioners, singly or in[Pg 302] pairs, the olive-branch in one hand, yet the sword in the other. Commissioners come even to Caen; but without effect. Mathematical Romme, and Prieur named of the Côte d'Or, venturing thither, with their olive and sword, are packed into prison: there may Romme lie, under lock and key, "for fifty days"; and meditate his New Calendar, if he please. Cimmeria, La Vendée, and Civil War! Never was Republic One and Indivisible at a lower ebb.

Amid which dim ferment of Caen and the World, History specially notices one thing: in the lobby of the Mansion de l'Intendance, where busy Deputies are coming and going, a young Lady with an aged valet, taking grave, graceful leave of Deputy Barbaroux. She is of stately Norman figure; in her twenty-fifth year; of beautiful still countenance: her name is Charlotte Corday, heretofore styled D'Armans, while Nobility still was. Barbaroux has given her a Note to Deputy Duperret—he who once drew his sword in the effervescence. Apparently she will to Paris on some errand? "She was a Republican before the Revolution, and never wanted energy."

A completeness, a decision is in this fair female Figure: "by energy she means the spirit that will prompt one to sacrifice himself for his country." What if she, this fair young Charlotte, had emerged from her secluded stillness, suddenly like a Star; cruel-lovely, with half-angelic, half-dæmonic splendor; to gleam for a moment, and in a moment be extinguished: to be held in memory, so bright complete was she, through long centuries! Quitting Cimmerian Coalitions without, and the dim-simmering Twenty-five Millions within, History will look fixedly at this one fair Apparition of a Charlotte Corday; will note whither Charlotte moves, how the little Life burns forth so radiant, then vanishes swallowed of the Night.

With Barbaroux's Note of Introduction, and slight stock of luggage, we see Charlotte on Tuesday, July 9th, seated in the Caen Diligence, with a place for Paris. None takes farewell of her, wishes her Good-journey: her Father will find a line left, signifying that she has gone to England, that he must pardon her, and forget her. The drowsy Diligence lumbers along; amid drowsy talk of Politics, and praise of the Mountain; in which she mingles not: all night, all day, and again all night. On Thursday,[Pg 303] not long before noon, we are at the bridge of Neuilly; here is Paris with her thousand black domes, the goal and purpose of thy journey! Arrived at the Inn de la Providence in the Rue des Vieux Augustins, Charlotte demands a room; hastens to bed; sleeps all afternoon and night, till the morrow morning.

On the morrow morning, she delivers her Note to Duperret. It relates to certain Family Papers which are in the Minister of the Interior's hand; which a Nun at Caen, an old Convent-friend of Charlotte's, has need of; which Duperret shall assist her in getting: this then was Charlotte's errand to Paris? She has finished this, in the course of Friday—yet says nothing of returning. She has seen and silently investigated several things. The Convention, in bodily reality, she has seen; what the Mountain is like. The living physiognomy of Marat she could not see; he is sick at present, and confined to home.

About eight on the Saturday morning, she purchases a large sheath-knife in the Palais Royal; then straightway, in the Place des Victoires, takes a hackney-coach. "To the Rue de l'École de Médecine, Number 44." It is the residence of the Citoyen Marat! The Citoyen Marat is ill, and cannot be seen; which seems to disappoint her much. Her business is with Marat, then? Hapless beautiful Charlotte; hapless squalid Marat! From Caen in the utmost West, from Neuchâtel in the utmost East, they two are drawing nigh each other; they two have, very strangely, business together. Charlotte, returning to her Inn, despatches a short Note to Marat; signifying that she is from Caen, the seat of rebellion; that she desires earnestly to see him, and "will put it in his power to do France a great service." No answer. Charlotte writes another Note, still more pressing; sets out with it by coach, about seven in the evening, herself. Tired day-laborers have again finished their Week; huge Paris is circling and simmering, manifold, according to its vague wont: this one fair Figure has decision in it; drives straight—toward a purpose.

It is a yellow July evening, we say, the thirteenth of the month; eve of the Bastille day, when "M. Marat," four years ago, in the crowd of the Pont Neuf, shrewdly required of that Besenval Hussar-party, which had such friendly dispositions, "to dismount, and give up their arms, then"; and became notable[Pg 304] among Patriot men. Four years: what a road he has travelled; and sits now, about half-past seven o'clock, stewing in slipper-bath; sore-afflicted; ill of Revolution Fever—of what other malady this History had rather not name. Excessively sick and worn, poor man; with precisely eleven-pence-halfpenny of ready-money, in paper; with slipper-bath; strong three-footed stool for writing on, the while; and a squalid—Washerwoman, one may call her: that is his civic establishment in Medical-School Street; thither and not elsewhither has his road led him. Not to the reign of Brotherhood and Perfect Felicity; yet surely on the way toward that?

Hark, a rap again! A musical woman's voice, refusing to be rejected: it is the Citoyenne who would do France a service. Marat, recognizing from within, cries, "Admit her!" Charlotte Corday is admitted: "Citoyen Marat, I am from Caen the seat of rebellion, and wished to speak with you." "Be seated, mon enfant. Now what are the Traitors doing at Caen? What Deputies are at Caen?"

Charlotte names some Deputies.

"Their heads shall fall within a fortnight," croaks the eager "People's Friend" clutching his tablets to write.

"Barbaroux, Pétion" writes he with bare shrunk arm, turning aside in the bath: Pétion, and Louvet, and—Charlotte has drawn her knife from the sheath; plunges it, with one sure stroke, into the writer's heart.

"À moi, chère amie!" ("Help, dear!") No more could the Death-choked say or shriek. The helpful Washerwoman running in, there is no Friend of the People, or Friend of the Washerwoman left; but his life with a groan gushes out, indignant, to the shades below.

And so Marat, "People's Friend" is ended: the lone Stylites has been hurled down suddenly from his Pillar—whitherward? He that made him knows. Patriot Paris may sound triple and tenfold, in dole and wail; reëchoed by Patriot France; and the Convention, "Chabot pale with terror, declaring that they are to be all assassinated," may decree him Pantheon Honors, Public Funeral, Mirabeau's dust making way for him; and Jacobin Societies, in lamentable oratory, summing up his character, parallel him to One, whom they think it honor to call "the good[Pg 305] Sansculotte"—whom we name not here; also a Chapel may be made, for the urn that holds his Heart, in the Place du Carrousel; and new-born children be named Marat; and Lago-di-Como Hawkers bake mountains of stucco into unbeautiful Busts; and David paint his Picture, or Death-Scene; and such other Apotheosis take place as the human genius, in these circumstances, can devise: but Marat returns no more to the light of this Sun. One sole circumstance we have read with clear sympathy, in the old Moniteur Newspaper: how Marat's Brother comes from Neuchâtel to ask of the Convention, "that the deceased Jean Paul Marat's musket be given him." For Marat, too, had a brother and natural affections; and was wrapt once in swaddling clothes, and slept safe in a cradle like the rest of us. Ye children of men! A sister of his, they say, lives still to this day in Paris.[40]

As for Charlotte Corday, her work is accomplished; the recompense of it is near and sure. The chère amie, and neighbors of the house, flying at her, she "overturns some movables," entrenches herself till the gendarmes arrive; then quietly surrenders; goes quietly to the Abbaye Prison: she alone quiet, all Paris sounding, in wonder, in rage or admiration, round her. Duperret is put in arrest, on account of her; his Papers sealed—which may lead to consequences. Fauchet, in like manner; though Fauchet had not so much as heard of her. Charlotte, confronted with these two Deputies, praises the grave firmness of Duperret, censures the dejection of Fauchet.

On Wednesday morning, the thronged Palais de Justice and Revolutionary Tribunal can see her face; beautiful and calm: she dates it "Fourth day of the Preparation of Peace." A strange murmur ran through the Hall, at sight of her, you could not say of what character. Tinville has his indictments and tape papers; the cutler of the Palais Royal will testify that he sold her the sheath-knife; "All these details are needless," interrupted Charlotte; "it is I that killed Marat."

"By whose instigation?"

"By no one's."

"What tempted you, then?"

"His crimes!"

"I killed one man," added she, raising her voice extremely[Pg 306] (extrêmement), as they went on with their questions, "I killed one man to save a hundred thousand; a villain to save innocents; a savage wild beast to give repose to my country. I was a Republican before the Revolution; I never wanted energy."

There is therefore nothing to be said. The public gazes astonished: the hasty limners sketch her features, Charlotte not disapproving: the men of law proceed with their formalities. The doom is Death as a murderess. To her Advocate she gives thanks; in gentle phrase, in high-flown classical spirit. To the Priest they send her she gives thanks; but needs not any shriving, any ghostly or other aid from him.

On this same evening, therefore, about half past seven o'clock, from the gate of the Conciergerie, to a City all on tip-toe, the fatal Cart issues; seated on it a fair young creature, sheeted in red smock of Murderess; so beautiful, serene, so full of life; journeying toward death—alone amid the World. Many take off their hats, saluting reverently; for what heart but must be touched? Others growl and howl. Adam Lux, of Mainz, declares that she is greater than Brutus; that it were beautiful to die with her: the head of this young man seems turned. At the Place de la Révolution, the countenance of Charlotte wears the same still smile. The executioners proceed to bind her feet; she resists, thinking it meant as an insult; on a word of explanation, she submits with cheerful apology. As the last act, all being now ready, they take the neckerchief from her neck; a blush of maidenly shame overspreads that fair face and neck; the cheeks were still tinged with it when the executioner lifted the severed head, to show it to the people. "It is most true," says Forster, "that he struck the cheek insultingly; for I saw it with my eyes: the Police imprisoned him for it."

But during these same hours, another guillotine is at work on another; Charlotte, for the Girondins, dies at Paris to-day; Chalier, by the Girondins, dies at Lyons to-morrow.

From rumbling of cannon along the streets of that City, it has come to firing of them, to rabid fighting: Nièvre Chol and the Girondins triumph; behind whom there is, as everywhere, a Royalist Faction waiting to strike in. Trouble enough at Lyons; and the dominant party carrying it with a high hand! For, indeed, the whole South is astir; incarcerating Jacobins; arming for[Pg 307] Girondins: wherefore we have got a "Congress of Lyons"; also a "Revolutionary Tribunal of Lyons," and Anarchists shall tremble. So Chalier was soon found guilty, of Jacobinism, of murderous Plot, "address with drawn dagger on the sixth of February last"; and, on the morrow, he also travels his final road, along the streets of Lyons, "by the side of an ecclesiastic, with whom he seems to speak earnestly"—the axe now glittering nigh. He could weep, in old years, this man, and "fall on his knees on the pavement," blessing Heaven at sight of Federation Programmes or the like; then he pilgrimed to Paris to worship Marat and the Mountain: now Marat and he are both gone—we said he could not end well. Jacobinism groans inwardly, at Lyons, but dare not outwardly. Chalier, when the Tribunal sentenced him, made answer: "My death will cost this City dear."

Montélimart Town is not buried under its ruins; yet Marseilles is actually marching, under order of a "Lyons Congress"; is incarcerating Patriots; the very Royalists now showing face. Against which a General Cartaux fights, though in small force, and with him an Artillery Major, of the name of—Napoleon Bonaparte. This Napoleon, to prove that the Marseillese have no chance ultimately, not only fights but writes; publishes his Supper of Beaucaire, a Dialogue which has become curious. Unfortunate Cities, with their actions and their reactions! Violence to be paid with violence in geometrical ratio; Royalism and Anarchism both striking in—the final net-amount of which geometrical series, what man shall sum?

Is not La Vendée still blazing—alas too literally—rogue Rossignol burning the very corn-mills? General Santerre could do nothing there. General Rossignol in blind fury, often in liquor, can do less than nothing. Rebellion spreads, grows ever madder. Happily those lean Quixote figures, whom we saw retreating out of Mainz, "bound not to serve against the Coalition for a year," have got to Paris. National Convention packs them into post-vehicles and conveyances; sends them swiftly, by post, into La Vendée. There valiantly struggling in obscure battle and skirmish, under rogue Rossignol, let them, unlaurelled, save the Republic and "be cut down gradually to the last man."

Does not the Coalition, like a fire-tide, pour in; Prussia through the opened Northeast; Austria, England through the[Pg 308] Northwest? General Houchard prospers no better there than General Custine did. Let him look to it! Through the Eastern and the Western Pyrenees Spain has deployed itself; spreads, rustling with Bourbon banners, over the face of the South. Ashes and embers of confused Girondin civil war covered that region already. Marseilles is damped down, not quenched—to be quenched in blood. Toulon, terror-struck, too far gone for turning, has flung itself, ye righteous Powers, into the hands of the English! On Toulon Arsenal there flies a flag—nay not even the Fleur-de-lis of a Louis Pretender; there flies that accursed St. George's Cross of the English and Admiral Hood! What remnant of sea-craft, arsenals, roperies, war navy France had, has given itself to these enemies of human nature, "ennemis du genre humain." Beleaguer it, bombard it, ye Commissioners Barras, Fréron, Robespierre Junior; thou General Cartaux, General Dugommier; above all, thou remarkable Artillery-Major, Napoleon Bonaparte! Hood is fortifying himself, victualling himself; means, apparently, to make a new Gibraltar of it.

But lo, in the Autumn night, late night, among the last of August, what sudden red sun-blaze is this that has risen over Lyons City; with a noise to deafen the world? It is the Powder-tower of Lyons, nay the Arsenal with Four Powder-towers, which has caught fire in the Bombardment; and sprung into the air, carrying "a hundred and seventeen houses" after it. With a light, one fancies, as of the noon sun; with a roar second only to the Last Trumpet! All living sleepers far and wide it has awakened. What a sight was that, which the eye of History saw, in the sudden nocturnal sun-blaze!

The roofs of hapless Lyons, and all its domes and steeples made momentarily clear; Rhone and Saône streams flashing suddenly visible; and height and hollow, hamlet and smooth stubble-field, and all the region round; heights, alas, all scarped and counterscarped, into trenches, curtains, redoubts; blue Artillery-men, little Powder devilkins, plying their hell-trade there through the not ambrosial night! Let the darkness cover it again; for it pains the eye. Of a truth, Chalier's death is costing the City dear. Convention Commissioners, Lyons Congresses have come and gone; and action there was and reaction; bad ever growing worse; till it has come to this; Commissioner Dubois-Crancé,[Pg 309] "with seventy thousand men, and all the Artillery of several Provinces," bombarding Lyons day and night.

Worse things still are in store. Famine is in Lyons, and ruin and fire. Desperate are the sallies of the besieged; brave Précy, their National Colonel and Commandant, doing what is in man: desperate but ineffectual. Provisions cut off; nothing entering our city but shot and shell! The Arsenal has roared aloft; the very Hospital will be battered down, and the sick buried alive. A black Flag hung on this latter noble Edifice, appealing to the pity of the besiegers; for though maddened, were they not still our brethren? In their blind wrath, they took it for a flag of defiance, and aimed thitherward the more. Bad is growing ever worse here; and how will the worse stop, till it have grown worst of all? Commissioner Dubois will listen to no pleading, to no speech, save this only: "We surrender at discretion."

Lyons contains in it subdued Jacobins; dominant Girondins; secret Royalists. And now, mere deaf madness and cannon-shot enveloping them, will not the desperate Municipality fly, at last, into the arms of Royalism itself? Majesty of Sardinia was to bring help, but it failed. Emigrant D'Autichamp, in name of the Two Pretender-Royal-Highnesses, is coming through Switzerland with help; coming, not yet come: Précy hoists the Fleur-de-lis!

At sight of which all true Girondins sorrowfully fling down their arms. Let our Tricolor brethren storm us then and slay us in their wrath; with you we conquer not. The famishing women and children are sent forth: deaf Dubois sends them back—rains in more fire and madness. Our "redoubts of cotton-bags" are taken, retaken; Précy under his Fleur-de-lis is valiant as Despair. What will become of Lyons? It is a siege of seventy days.

Or see, in these same weeks, far in the Western waters: breasting through the Bay of Biscay, a greasy dingy little Merchant ship, with Scotch skipper; under hatches whereof sit, disconsolate, the last forlorn nucleus of Girondism, the Deputies from Quimper! Several have dissipated themselves, whithersoever they could. Poor Riouffe fell into the talons of Revolutionary Committee and Paris Prison. The rest sit here under hatches; reverend Pétion with his gray hair, angry Buzot, suspicious Louvet, brave young[Pg 310] Barbaroux, and others. They have escaped from Quimper, in this sad craft; are now tacking and struggling; in danger from the waves, in danger from the English, in still worse danger from the French—banished by Heaven and Earth to the greasy belly of this Scotch skipper's Merchant vessel, unfruitful Atlantic raving round. They are for Bordeaux, if peradventure hope yet linger there. Enter not Bordeaux, O Friends! Bloody Convention Representatives, Tallien and such like, with their Edicts, with their Guillotine, have arrived there; Respectability is driven under ground; Jacobinism lords it on high. From that Réole landing-place, or "Beak of Ambès," as it were, pale Death, waving his Revolutionary Sword of Sharpness, waves you elsewhither!

On one side or the other of that Bec d'Ambès, the Scotch Skipper with difficulty moors, a dexterous greasy man; with difficulty lands his Girondins; who, after reconnoitring, must rapidly burrow in the Earth; and so, in subterranean ways, in friends' back-closets, in cellars, barn-lofts, in caves of Saint-Emilion and Libourne, stave off cruel Death. Unhappiest of all Senators!


[40] Written in 1836-1837.—Ed.

[Pg 311]


a.d. 1794


By the Reign of Terror, or the "Terror," is meant that period of the first revolution in France during which the ruling faction caused thousands of obnoxious persons to be sent to the guillotine. The Terror is usually considered as beginning in March, 1793, when the Revolutionary Tribunal was established by the National Convention. This tribunal was an extraordinary court empowered to deal with all acts or persons hostile to the Revolution.

In July, 1793, Robespierre became a member of the Committee of Public Safety, and, with Saint-Just, was most prominently connected with the Terror. He secured a decree, known as the decree of the 22d Prairial, "to accelerate the movements of the Committee, and open for them a shorter route to the guillotine," whereby persons marked for death might be executed as soon as recognized. Against this bloody decree it is said that even the "Mountain"—the Red Republican party in the Convention—recoiled. It was nevertheless remorselessly carried out, and "caused torrents of blood to flow."

The climax of the Terror was reached in 1794, and its end came in July of that year, when Robespierre and his associates were overthrown. It was followed by a reaction against the excesses of the revolutionists, the closing of the radical clubs of the Jacobins and others, and the release of those whom the Revolutionary Tribunal had imprisoned on suspicion. The tribunal itself, together with the Committee of Public Safety, who had executed the fierce will of the Convention, was speedily swept away.

It is a hideous spectacle to contemplate the enthusiasm of crime, and see men madly intoxicating themselves with their own atrocities. The Revolutionary Tribunal was in operation from March, 1793; the registry of condemnations had reached the number of five hundred seventy-seven. From 22 Prairial to 9 Thermidor (June 10, to July 27, 1794), two thousand two hundred eighty-five unfortunates perished on the scaffold. Fouquier-Tinville[41] comprehended the thought of Robespierre. For the dock he had substituted benches, upon which he huddled together[Pg 312] at one time the crowd of the accused. One day he erected the guillotine in the very hall of the tribunal.

The Committee of Public Safety had a moment of fright. "Thou art wishing then to demoralize punishment!" cried Collot d'Herbois. A hundred sixty accused persons had been brought from the Luxembourg under pretence of a conspiracy in prison. The lower class of prisoners were encouraged to act as spies, thus furnishing pretexts for punishment. The judges sat with pistols ready to hand; the President cast his eyes over the lists for the day and called upon the accused. "Dorival, do you know anything of the conspiracy?" "No!"

"I expected that you would make that reply; but it won't succeed. Bring another."

"Champigny, are you not an ex-noble?"


"Bring another."

"Guidreville, are you a priest?"

"Yes, but I have taken the oath."

"You have no right to say any more. Another."

"Ménil, were you not a domestic of the ex-constitutional Menou?"



"Vély, were you not architect for Madame?"

"Yes, but I was disgraced in 1789."


"Gondrecourt, is not your father-in-law at the Luxembourg?"



"Durfort, were you not in the bodyguard?"

"Yes, but I was dismissed in 1789."


So the examination went on. The questions, the answers, the judgment, the condemnation, were all simultaneous. The juries did not leave the hall; they gave their opinions with a word or a look. Sometimes errors were evident in the lists. "I am not accused," exclaimed a prisoner one day.

"No matter; what is thy name? See, it is written now. Another."[Pg 313]

M. de Loizerolles perished under the name of his father. Jokes were mingled with the sentences. The Maréchale de Mouchy was old, and did not reply to the questions of President Dumas. "The citoyenne is deaf" (sourde), said the registrar; "Put down that she has conspired secretly" (sourdement), replied Dumas.

It became necessary to forbid Fouquier-Tinville to send more than sixty victims a day to the scaffold. "Things go well, and see the heads fall like slates with my file-firing; the next decade we shall do better still; I shall want at least four hundred fifty." The lists were prepared in the prison itself, by the class of informers known as moutons.[42] The public accuser, like the judges and the jailers, was often ignorant of the names of the human flock crowded in the dungeons. Death recalled them to recollection. In the evening, under the windows of each prison, the list of the victims of the day was shouted out. "These are they who have gained prizes in the lottery of Saint Guillotine." The unfortunates who crowded to the windows thus learned the tidings of the execution of those they loved. The horrors of the unforeseen and unknown were added to the agonies of death and separation. Under the windows of the Conciergerie the names of the Maréchale de Noailles, the Duchesse d'Ayen and the Vicomtesse de Noailles, who died together on the scaffold, were proclaimed. Among the prisoners was Madame la Fayette, herself awaiting death; happily she did not recognize in the coarse accents of the criers the cherished names of her grandmother, mother, and sister. The peasants of the Vendée[43] came to die at Paris, like the Carmelites of Compiègne or the magistrates of Toulouse. It was astonishing that there still remained in the dungeons great lords and noble ladies, bearing the most illustrious names in the history of France; on the 8th and 9th Thermidor the poets Roucher and André Chénier; Baron Trenck, famous for his numerous escapes; the Maréchale d'Armentières, the Princesse de Chimay, the Comtesse de Narbonne, the Duc de Clermont-Tonnerre, the Marquis de Crussol, and the Messieurs de Trudaine, counsellors of the Parliament of Paris, perished upon the scaffold.

[Pg 314]

Insulters always surrounded the scaffold, but their number had decreased; the Committee of Public Safety no longer had recourse to the popular manœuvres of its early days. Terror was now sufficient to insure the silence and submission of the victims. Paris grew weary of the horrors of which it was witness; the odor of blood had driven away the residents from the houses adjacent to the Place de la Révolution; a new guillotine had been erected upon the Place du Trône. Upon the route along which ran the fatal carts shops were closed, and passers-by endeavored to avoid meeting the procession. A few rare loungers of the lowest class alone walked in the gardens of the Tuileries and the Champs-Élysées. All was silent, but pity was growing in the minds of men. The distant sound of the horrors that were general throughout France redoubled the terror of Paris.

The provincial sufferings were not uniform, and the fury of the representative commissioners was unequally distributed. Either by a happy chance, or it might be by an instinctive knowledge of the character of the population, the revolutionary scaffold was never set up in Lower Normandy; the Vendée, on the contrary, expiated its long resistance in its blood, and Carrier filled with terror the city of Nantes, always favorable to revolution. He had tried guillotine and grape-shot, but both were too tardy in their action to suit his zeal. He conceived the idea of crowding the condemned into ships with valves, launched upon the Loire: the beautiful river saw these unfortunates struggling in its waters. Henceforth the executioners tied the prisoners together by one hand and one foot; these "Republican Marriages," as they were called, insured the speedy death of the victims. The waters of the Loire became infected; its shores were covered with corpses; the fishes themselves could no longer serve as nourishment for human beings; fever decimated the inhabitants of Nantes. The fury of Carrier bordered on madness: he caused the little Vendean infants, collected by Breton charity, to be cast into the water. "It is necessary," said he, "to slay the wolves' cubs."

The same terror also, and the same atrocities which desolated the West, reigned in the North and the South. In the Department of Vaucluse, Maignet, in the Pas-de-Calais, Joseph Lebon, had obtained the erection of local revolutionary tribunals. "The arrests which I have ordered in the Departments of Vaucluse and[Pg 315] the Bouches-du-Rhône amount to twelve or fifteen thousand," wrote Maignet to his friend Couthon. "It would require an army to conduct them to Paris; besides, it is necessary to appal, and the blow is only terrifying when struck in the sight of those who have lived with the guilty." They had felled the tree of liberty in the little town of Bédouin; sixty-three of the inhabitants were executed; the rest fled. "I have wished to give the national vengeance a grand character," wrote Maignet to the Committee of Public Safety, "and I have ordered that the town should be given to the flames. If you think this new measure too rigorous, let me know your wishes, and do not read my letter to the Convention." To the complaints of Rovère, representative of Vaucluse, Robespierre replied, "We are content with Maignet; he knows well how to guillotine." Joseph Lebon established an orchestra close by the guillotine; he caused the Ça ira[44] to be sung during the executions, which he witnessed from his balcony. Formerly a priest and well esteemed, he was moderate at the outburst of the Revolution, but his reason had yielded to the dizziness of despotic power; it was of a veritable madman that Barère said: "Lebon has completely beaten the aristocrats, and he has protected Cambrai against the approaches of the enemy; besides, what is there that is not permitted to the hatred of a republican against the aristocracy? The Revolution and revolutionary measures must only be spoken of with respect. Liberty is a virgin whose veil it is culpable to raise."

For some time Robespierre had appeared but rarely at the Committee of Public Safety; he reserved himself for the department of general police, that is to say, the direction of the "Terror" throughout France. Underhand dissensions and jealousies began to creep in among these criminals, secretly disquieted by projects of which they were reciprocally suspicious. Billaud-Varennes and Collot d'Herbois dreaded Robespierre and began to conspire against him. Robespierre established himself with the Jacobins, as in an impregnable fortress. The President and Vice-President of the Revolutionary Tribunal, and the commandant[Pg 316] of the armed forces, Henriot, awaited his orders. They pressed him to take action against the enemies whom he had himself denounced to the Jacobins. "Formerly," said he, "on the 13th Messidor [July 1st], the underhand faction that has sprung from the remnant of the followers of Danton and Camille Desmoulins attacked the committees en masse; now they prefer to attack a few members in particular; in order to succeed in breaking the bundle, they attribute to a single individual that which appertains to the whole Government. They dare not say that the Revolutionary Tribunal has been instituted in order to swallow up the National Convention; they have spoken of a dictator, and named him; it is I who have been thus designated, and you would tremble if I told you in what place."

A dictatorship had, in fact, been spoken of, but it was Saint-Just, on returning from the army, who had uttered this terrible word, in a conference of the Committees of Public Safety and General Security expressly convoked by Robespierre. The latter had proposed the institution of four great revolutionary tribunals, in order to forge new weapons for himself; but the conference refused. Robespierre went out irritated and gloomy. "Misfortune has reached a climax," cried Saint-Just. "You are in a state of anarchy. The Convention is inundating France with laws inoperative and often impracticable. The representatives accompanying the armies dispose at their will of the public fortune and our military destinies; the representatives sent as Commissioners to the Provinces usurp all power and amass gold for which they substitute assignats. How can such political and legislative disorder be regulated? I declare upon my honor and my conscience, I see only one means of safety; and that is the concentration of power in the hands of one man who has enough genius, force, patriotism, and generosity to become the embodiment of public authority. It is necessary, above all, to have a man endowed with long practical knowledge of the Revolution, its principles, its phases, its modes of action, and its agents. Finally, he must be a man who has the general good-will and confidence of the people in his favor, and who is at once a virtuous and inflexible as well as an incorruptible citizen. That man is Robespierre; it is he only who can save the State. I ask that he be invested with the dictatorship, and that the[Pg 317] committees make a proposition to this effect at the Convention to-morrow."

The imprudence of the speech equalled the audacity of the act. The members of the two councils looked at each other, hesitating to accept the declaration of war. A few of them contended for their lives against the vengeance of Robespierre and his friends. "This Robespierre is insatiable," said Barère, with anger. "Let him ask for Tallien, Bourdon de l'Oise, Thuriot, Guffroy, Rovère, Lecointre, Panis, Barras, Fréron, Legendre, Monestier, Dubois Crancé, Fouché, Cambon, and all the Dantonist remnant, well and good; but to Duval, Audouin, Léonard Bourdon, Vadier, Vauland, it is impossible to consent."

The two parties waited face to face, shrinking from the blows they were about to exchange, counting on the impatience or temerity of their adversaries. The boldest among the opposition ventured on a circuitous attack by denouncing the sect of mystic dreamers led by a demented woman, Catherine Théot, styled by her followers, Mother of God. Her principal disciple was Gerle, formerly prior of the Chartreuse, and a member of the Constituent Assembly. When the papers of this handful of maniacs were seized, the copy of a letter to Robespierre was found; he was to have been the Messiah of the sect. Vadier denounced at the Convention this elementary school of fanaticism, discovered on a third floor in the Rue Contrescarpe, and who were connected, he said, with the machinations of Pitt; but he dared not speak of the letter to Robespierre. The latter undoubtedly took some interest in Catherine Théot, for he did not allow the affair to be followed up; the prophetess died in prison soon after.

Robespierre had said to a deputation from Aisne: "In the situation in which it now is, gangrened by corruption, and without power to remedy it, the Convention can no longer save the Republic: both will perish together. The proscription of patriots is the order of the day. For myself, I have already one foot in the tomb, in a few days I shall place the other there; the rest is in the hands of Providence."

Nevertheless he began the attack, urged forward by men who had attached their fortunes to his own, and by the disquietudes which agitated his sour and dissatisfied spirit. He could no longer put up with advice even from his most faithful friends, and[Pg 318] the inflexible Saint-Just told him to calm himself; "Empire is for the phlegmatic." A menacing petition from the Jacobins preceded by a few hours a grand discourse from the dictator. He always reckoned on the effect of his discourses, and all the committees, one after another, had suffered from the asperity of his attacks. "The accusations are all concentrated upon me," said he; "if anyone casts patriots into prison in place of shutting up the aristocrats there, it is said that Robespierre wills it. If the numerous agents of the Committee of General Security extend their vexations and rapine in all directions, it is said that Robespierre has sent them; if a new law irritates the property-holders, it is Robespierre who is ruining them; and meanwhile, in what hands are your finances? In the hands of feuillants, of known cheats, of the Cambons, Mallarmés and Ramels. Survey the field of victory, look at Belgium; dissensions have been sown among our generals, the military aristocracy is protected, faithful generals are persecuted, the military administration is enveloped with a suspicious authority; they talk to you of war with academic lightness, as if it cost neither blood nor labor. The truths that I bring you are surely equal to epigrams.

"There exists a conspiracy against public liberty; it owes its force to a criminal coalition which intrigues in the very bosom of the Convention. That coalition has its accomplices in the Committee of General Security, and in the bureaux, which they control. Some members of the Committee of Public Safety are implicated in this plot; the coalition thus formed seeks to ruin patriots and the country. What is the remedy for this evil? To punish the traitors, to purify the Committee of General Security, and subordinate it to the Committee of Public Safety; to purify this committee itself, and constitute it the Government under the authority of the National Convention, which is the centre of authority and the chief judicial power. Thus would all the factions be crushed by raising on their ruins the power of justice and liberty. If it is impossible to advocate these principles without being set down as ambitious, I shall conclude that tyranny reigns among us, but not that I ought to hold my tongue; for what can be objected to a man who is right, and who knows how to die for his country? I am put here in order to combat crime, not to govern[Pg 319] it. The time has not yet come when good men can serve their country with impunity."

They listened in silence; no applause, no complaint had interrupted the orator. For a long time the Convention had been unaccustomed to see the masters of their fortunes and their lives making appeal to their supreme authority. Their rôle had long been limited to taking part in oratorical tournaments and voting decrees. They did not yield, however, to the seduction, and their faces remained grave and sombre. No one rose to speak, but they began to exchange a few remarks, and a murmur ran from bench to bench. The glove was thrown down, but as yet no champion advanced to take it up. At length, and as if the courage of all was reanimated at once by the same resolution, Vadier, Cambon, and Billaud-Varennes rose together to mount the tribune. Cambon had been wounded in his just pride as a financier and an honest man; he could scarcely wait his turn.

"It is time," cried he, "to speak the entire truth. Is it I who need to be accused of making myself master in any respect? The man who has made himself master of everything, the man who paralyzes our will, is he who has just spoken—Robespierre." At the same moment and from all lips came the same cries. "It is Robespierre," said Billaud-Varennes. "It is Robespierre," repeated Panis and Vadier. "Let him give an account of the crimes of the deputies whose death he demanded from the Jacobins." And as he hesitated, troubled by the vehemence of the attacks, "You who pretend to have the courage of virtue, have the courage of truth," cried Charlier to him; "name, name the individuals." In the midst of a growing confusion the Assembly revoked the order to print the discourse of Robespierre. It was to the two committees, filled with his enemies, that the denunciation of the dictator was referred.

Robespierre took refuge with the Jacobins; he was troubled by the opposition he had encountered, without being able to draw from it new forces for the struggle. He redelivered his discourse, this time welcomed with loud applause. "My friends," said he, "that which you have just heard is my dying testament. I have seen to-day that the league of the wicked is too strong for me to hope to escape it. I am ready to drink the hemlock."[Pg 320]

"I will drink it with thee," cried David. The men of action were less resigned. Henriot spoke of marching on the Convention, but Robespierre still wished to speak; it was the course of May 31st that he wanted to follow. The hall was crowded; people entered without tickets.

"Name thy enemies," they shouted to Robespierre; "name them; we will deliver them to thee." Collot d'Herbois arrived, attempting a few protestations of devotion; he was hooted and constrained to retire. Hesitation and doubt still troubled every spirit and paralyzed every hand. Collot and Billaud-Varennes returned to the Committee of Public Safety. There they found Saint-Just, who had to read a report, but he had not brought it with him. The two new-comers apostrophized him with violence. "Thou art the accomplice of Robespierre; the project of your infamous triumvirate is to assassinate us all, but if we succumb you will not long enjoy the fruit of your crimes—the people will tear you in pieces; thy pockets are full of denunciations against us; produce thy lists." They advanced menacingly; Saint-Just shrank back, very pale. As he went out he promised to read his report next day. Neither of the two parties had as yet taken any effectual measure; they had contracted the habit of being very prodigal of words. Tallien had endeavored to gain over all that remained of the Left; three times he was repulsed by Boissy d'Anglas and his friends. As he returned once more to the charge, "Yes," they at length replied, with an ingenuousness almost cynical, "yes, if you are the strongest." Tallien was intrusted to direct the attack in the Convention.

Saint-Just had just entered; he had not appeared at the Committee of Public Safety. "You have blighted my heart," he wrote to his colleagues, "I am about to open it at the National Assembly." He presented himself, however, as reporter of the Committee. In seeing him pass, Tallien, occupied in assembling his forces, said loudly, "It is the moment; let us enter." Saint-Just commenced: "I am not of any faction; I fight against all. The course of events has brought it about that this tribune should be perhaps the Tarpeian rock to him who shall come to tell you that the members of the Government—" Tallien did not leave him time to finish; he demanded leave to speak upon a motion of order. "Nor I either; I am not of any faction; I only belong to[Pg 321] myself and to liberty. It is I who will make you hear the truth: no good citizen can restrain his tears over the unfortunate condition of public affairs. Yesterday a member of the Government was here alone and denounced his colleagues: to-day another comes to do as much by him; these dissensions aggravate the evils of our country. I demand that the veil be torn away." Applause echoed from all parts of the hall.

Saint-Just wished to continue his speech. "Thou art not reporter," shouted the members. He remained motionless in the tribune, while Billaud-Varennes came and stood beside him. He cast his eyes over the hall. "I see here," said he, "one of the men who yesterday, at the Jacobins, promised the massacre of the National Convention; let him be arrested." The officers obeyed. "The Assembly is at the present time in danger of massacre on every hand," continued Billaud; "it will perish if it is feeble." The contagion of courage spread from man to man; all the deputies stood up waving their hats. "Be tranquil," they cried to the orator; "we will not give way." "You will tremble when you see in what hands you are," continued Billaud; "the armed force is confided to parricidal hands. The chief of the National Guard is an infamous conspirator, the accomplice of Hébert; Lavalette was a noble, driven out of the Army of the North and saved by Robespierre, whom he obeys. The Revolutionary Tribunal is in his hands; everywhere he has made his will supreme, and has sought to render himself absolute master; he has dismissed the best Revolutionary Committee of Paris, he has ceased to frequent the Committee of Public Safety since the day after the decree of the 22d Prairial, which has been so disastrous to patriots. He excites the Jacobins against the Assembly." A few feeble protestations were now heard. "There is some murmuring, I think," said the speaker, insolently.

He was about to continue the course of his accusations; but beside him in the tribune Robespierre had replaced Saint-Just. His natural pallor had become livid, rage sparkled in his glance. "I demand liberty to speak," he cried. A single shout echoed through the hall. "Down with the tyrant! Down with the tyrant!" "I demand liberty to speak," Robespierre violently repeated. Tallien dashed into the tribune. "I demand that the veil be torn away immediately," he cried; "the work is accomplished,[Pg 322] the conspirators are unmasked. Yesterday, at the Jacobins, I saw the army of the new Cromwell formed, and I have come here armed with a poignard to pierce his heart if the Assembly has not the courage to decree his accusation. I demand the arrest of Henriot and his staff. There will be no May 31st, no proscription; national justice alone will strike the miscreants."

"I demand that Dumas be arrested," added Billaud-Varennes, "as well as Boulanger [formerly lieutenant of Ronsin in the Vendée]; he was the most ardent yesterday night at the Jacobins."

Meanwhile Robespierre was still in the tribune. Several times he strove to begin speaking, but the same cry drowned his voice, "Down with the tyrant!" The little group of those who were faithful to him, close pressed together, followed him with their eyes without speaking, without seconding his efforts; the mass of the Assembly, so docile a few days before, was agitated with a violence that became more and more hostile. Barère hesitated no longer. It is said that he had prepared two statements; one favorable to and the other hostile to Robespierre. He proposed to abolish the grade of commandant-general, and to call to the bar the mayor Fleuriot and the National agent Payan, to answer there for public tranquillity. The decree was voted; on all sides arose accusations against Robespierre, everyone hastening to denounce him. "I demand liberty to speak, to bring back this discussion to its true end and aim," said Tallien. Robespierre raised his head; "I shall know well how to bring it there," said he, in those imperious accents which formerly cowed the Assembly. Tallien continued without noticing the interruption. "The conspiracy is quite complete in the discourse read and reread yesterday. It is there that I find arms to strike down this man, whose virtue and patriotism have been so much vaunted; this man, who appeared three days only after August 10th; this man, who has abandoned his post at the Committee of Public Safety, in order to come and calumniate his colleagues. It is not necessary to discuss in any particular detail of the tyrant's career; his whole life condemns him."

Robespierre clutched at the tribune with both hands. He no longer sought aid from the "Mountain," henceforth roused[Pg 323] against him; he turned his face toward the "Plain." "It is to you pure and virtuous men that I address myself; I don't talk with scoundrels." "Down with the tyrant!" responded the "Plain." Thuriot, who presided, rang his bell. "President of assassins," cried Robespierre, "yet once more I demand liberty to speak." His voice grew feebler. "The blood of Danton is choking him," cried Gamier de l'Aude. "Will this man long remain master of the Convention?" asked Charles Duval. "Let us make an end! A decree, a decree!" shouted Lasseau, at length. "A tyrant is hard to strike down," said Fréron, in a loud voice. Robespierre remained in the tribune, turning in his hands an open knife, alone, exposed to the vengeful anger of them all. "Send me to death!" he cried to his enemies. And the voices replied: "Thou hast merited it a thousand times. Down with the tyrant!"

The decree was voted in the midst of tumult. "I ask to share the lot of my brother," cried the younger Robespierre. "It is understood," said Lanchet, "that we have voted the arrest of the two Robespierres, of Couthon, and Saint-Just." "I ask to be comprised in the decree," protested Lebas, faithfully devoted to Saint-Just. "The triumvirate of Robespierre, Couthon, and Saint-Just," said Fréron, "recalls the proscriptions of Sylla. Couthon is a tiger thirsting for the blood of the National representatives; he has dared to speak at the Jacobins of five or six heads of the Convention; our corpses were to be the steps for him to mount the throne!" The paralytic made a gesture of bitter disdain. "I mount the throne!" said he.

Thuriot proclaimed the decree; the acclamations that re-echoed were furious, intoxicated with the joy of triumph. "Long live liberty! Long live the Republic! Down with the tyrants; to the bar with the accused." The officers, still bewildered with such an abrupt and sudden change, had not dared to lay a hand upon the fallen dictator; rage broke forth in the ranks of the Assembly. Robespierre and his brother, Saint-Just, Lebas, descended slowly to the place lately reserved for their enemies. Couthon had just placed himself there. The decree of arrest dispersed them in different prisons; they had set out when the Assembly suspended its sitting for an instant. "Let us go out together," said Robespierre. The crowd, like the Assembly,[Pg 324] gazed on them without acclamations and without manifesting any sympathy for them; their army was re-forming elsewhere.

The Commune of Paris and the club of the Jacobins had not laid down their arms. An officer was sent to the Hôtel de Ville to announce the decree, which dismissed Henriot and summoned the Mayor to appear at the bar. He naively demanded a receipt for his message. "On a day like this we don't give receipts," replied the Mayor. "Tell Robespierre to have no fear, for we are here."

The Commune, in fact, was active, while the Committees of the Convention, stupefied at their own victories, were letting precious time slip past. Already Henriot, half drunk, galloping along the streets, stirred up the people, crying out that their faithful representatives were being massacred, delivering over to insults Merlin de Thionville, and sending to death the convoy of victims for the day. These the inhabitants of the Faubourg St. Antoine set about delivering, from compassion and from a vague instinct that the arrest of Robespierre necessarily brought about a cessation of executions. The General Council had sent to the jailers of the prisons an order to refuse to aid in the incarceration of the accused. Robespierre and his friends were successively brought to the Mairie. They found themselves again free at the head of an insurrection precipitately got up, but directed by desperate men, who felt their lives in danger if power escaped from them. Henriot, arrested for a moment, and conducted to the Committee of General Security, had been delivered by Coffinhal at the head of a handful of men. He was again on horseback, and was menacing in the hall of their sittings the Assembly, which had again come together.

The tocsin rang forth a full peal; the gates of Paris were closed. The rising tumult of the insurrection reached the ears of the deputies; each minute some inauspicious news arrived. It was said that the gunners of the National Guard, seduced by Henriot, were coming to direct their artillery against the palace. Collot d'Herbois mounted slowly to the chair and seated himself there. "Representatives," said he, with a firm voice, "the moment has come for us to die at our posts; miscreants have invaded the National palace." All had taken their places; while the spectators fled from the galleries with uproar and confusion. "I[Pg 325] propose," said Élie Lacoste with a loud voice, "that Henriot be outlawed." At the same moment the dismissed commandant ordered his men to fire.

Fearful and troubled, the gunners still hesitated. A group of representatives went forth from the hall and cried, "What are you doing, soldiers? That man is a rebel, who has just been outlawed." The gunners had already lowered their matches, while Henriot fled at full gallop. Barras had just been named commandant of the forces in his place; seven representatives accompanied him. "Outlaw all those who shall take arms against the Convention or who shall oppose its decrees," said Barère; "as well as those who are eluding a decree of accusation or arrest." The decree was voted; an officer of the Convention boldly accepted the duty of bearing it to the Commune. The National agent, Payan, seized it from him, and for bravado read it with a loud voice before the crowd that was thronging in the hall of the Hôtel de Ville. He added these words which were not in the decree, "and all those found at this moment in the galleries." The spectators disappeared as if struck with terror at the name of the law. Times were changed. The mobile waves of public opinion no longer upheld the tyrants overthrown by the accomplices who had now become their enemies.

It was, without saying it, and possibly without knowing it, the feeling of this public abandonment and reprobation which paralyzed the energy of the five accused. Robespierre had arrived pale and trembling in all his limbs; he had been tranquillized with difficulty. When Couthon, who alone was retained for a time in the prison of La Bourbe, was at last brought to the Hôtel de Ville, he found the Council solely occupied with the attack on the Convention, without making any efforts for rousing the populace or for the vigorous resumption of power. "Have the armies been written to?" he asked. "In the name of whom?" said Robespierre, disheartened but calm. "Of the Convention which exists wherever we are; the rest are but a handful of factious men, who are about to be dispersed by armed force." Robespierre reflected; he shook his head. "We must write in the name of the French people," said he. The words "Au nom du peuple" were found in his handwriting on a sheet of paper.

It was also in the name of the people that Barras and his companions[Pg 326] reunited the battalions of the sections which slowly assembled; some had recalled their men from the Hôtel de Ville. The new military school, the École de Mars, had not appeared well disposed toward Lebas, who had written to the Commandant Labretèche to hinder his pupils from ranging themselves under the banners of the Convention; the young men marched willingly at the request of Barras. The gunners collected on the Place de Grève permitted Léonard Bourdon to approach. "Go!" said Tallien to him, "and let the sun when it rises find no more traitors living." The crowd dispersed on hearing the proclamation which outlawed the Commune of Paris. The gunners abandoned their pieces; a few hours later they came to seek them to protect the Convention. "Is it possible," cried Henriot, as he came forth from the Hôtel de Ville, "that these scoundrels of gunners have abandoned me? Presently they will be delivering me to the Tuileries!" He ran to announce the desertion to the assembled Council-General. Coffinhal, indignant at his cowardice, seized him by the shoulder and pushed him out by the window. The agents of the police arrested him in a sewer.

Meanwhile the section of the Gravilliers had put itself in marching order, commanded by Léonard Bourdon and by a gendarme named Méda, intelligent and devoted, and who had acquired an ascendency over those around him. He advanced toward the Hôtel de Ville without encountering any obstacle. Méda cried, in mounting the flight of steps, "Long live Robespierre!" He penetrated into the hall, obstructed by the crowd; the club of the Jacobins was deserted, Legendre had had the door closed; all the leaders of the Revolution were assembled round the proscribed representatives. They were discussing and vociferating, without ardor, however, and without any true hope. Robespierre was seated at a table, his head on his left hand, his elbow supported by his knee.

Méda advanced toward him, pistols in hand. "Surrender, traitor!" he cried. Robespierre raised his head. "It is thou who art a traitor," he said, "and I will have thee shot." At the same instant the gendarme fired, fracturing the lower jaw of Robespierre. As he fell, his brother opened the window, and, passing along the cornice, leaped out upon the Place. He was dying when they came to pick him up.[Pg 327]

Saint-Just, leaning over toward Lebas, said, "Kill me." Lebas, looking him in the face, replied: "I have something better to do," pressing the trigger of his pistol. He was dead when a fresh report resounded from the staircase; Méda, who pursued Henriot, had just drawn on Couthon; his bearer fell grievously wounded. The prisoners, formerly all-powerful, now dying or condemned, were collected in the same room; thither Robespierre and Couthon had been brought; the corpse of Lebas lay on the floor; the crowd who besieged the gates wanted to throw the wounded into the river. Couthon had great difficulty in making it understood that he was not dead; Robespierre could not speak, and was carried on a chair to the door of the Convention. A feeling of horror manifested itself in the Assembly, "No, not here! not here!" was the cry. A surgeon came to attend to the wounded man in the hall of the Committee of Public Safety; he recovered from his swoon, and walked alone toward his chair; until then he had been extended upon a table, a little deal box supporting his wounded head. The blood flowed slowly from his mouth, and at times he made a movement to wipe it away; his clothes and his face were smeared with it. Robespierre appeared insensible to the injuries of those who surrounded him; he made no complaint, inaccessible and alone in death as in life. They carried him to the Conciergerie, where Saint-Just and Couthon had just arrived. All had been outlawed; no procedure, no delay, retarded their execution. Saint-Just, looking at a table of the Rights of Man hanging in the hall, said, "It is I, however, who have done that."

The Conciergerie slowly filled; with Dumas, Fleuriot, Payan, Lavalette, a large proportion of the members of the Council-General had been arrested. The prisoners already retained here were pressing to the bars of their windows, curious as to the noise that reached their ears, and the vague rumors which had already excited mortal fears among the informers. Before the room where were imprisoned Madame de Beauharnais and Madame de Fontenay (afterward Madame Tallien), a woman appeared, who, in a marked manner, held up a stone (pierre), enveloped it in her dress (robe), and then made a gesture of beheading. The prisoners comprehended, a thrill of joy pervaded their gloomy abode; all the oppressed believed themselves already delivered.[Pg 328]

It was five o'clock, and the carts had just drawn up as usual at the gate of the prison, but this time they waited for the executioners. The procession defiled before a dense crowd; all the windows were full of spectators, all the shops were open, and joy sparkled in every countenance. Robespierre and his friends had wearied with executions the people of Paris; the sanguinary emotions to which they had been so long accustomed regained their first relish; it was Robespierre that they were about to see die. He was half stretched out in the cart, livid, and with a blood-stained cloth round his face. When the executioner snatched it from him on the scaffold, a terrible cry was heard, the first sign of suffering the condemned had given. To this shriek cries of joy responded from all around, which were repeated at each stroke from the fatal axe. In two days a hundred three executions violently sealed the vengeance of the Convocation. The justice of God and that of history bide their time.

Robespierre had successively vanquished all his enemies; clever and bold, protected and served by his reputation for virtue, seconded by the growing terror which his name inspired, he had usurped the entire power, and confiscated the Revolution for the profit of despotism. He succumbed under the blows of those who had constantly pushed him to the front; wearied or frightened by the tyranny whose vengeance they themselves dreaded. The hands which overthrew the terrible dictator were not pure hands, and revolutionary passions continued to animate many minds, but the public instincts did not err for an instant. The conquerors of the 9th Thermidor could in their turn seize upon power, and the greater number of them had had no other intention; but they might no longer spill blood at their pleasure without hindrance and without control. The culminating point of sufferings and crimes had been attained. Without wishing it and without knowing it, from envy or from fear, the "Thermidoriens," as they began to be called, in striking down the triumvirate had changed the course of the Revolution. The nation, always prompt to concentrate upon the name of one man its affections or its hatreds, panting and lacerated as it was, began to breathe; the prisoners ceased to expect death daily; their friends already hoped for their liberty; timid people ventured forth from their hiding-places; the bold loudly manifested their joy. People[Pg 329] dared to wear mourning for those who had died on the scaffold; widows came forth from houses in which they had kept themselves shut up; absent ones reappeared in the bosom of their families. Robespierre was no more.

The Convention had revolted almost unanimously against the tyrant; scarcely was he struck down, when it found itself again a prey to divisions. Public demonstrations of joy and relief were manifested everywhere, and this disquieted some of the leaders of the conspiracy formerly directed against Robespierre; they had thought to overthrow him in order themselves to occupy his place, and already they perceived that two tendencies were manifesting themselves in the country. The one, feeble as yet in the Convention, and with no other point of support than the remnant of the Right, disposed to retrace the course of events, and even to visit upon their authors the iniquities committed; the other, disquieted and gloomy, determined to defend the Revolution at any hazard, even though it might be at the price of new sacrifices. The small party of the Thermidorians, Tallien at their head, began to form themselves between these two irreconcilable parties. The reaction as yet bore no definite name, it did not and could not exercise any power; desired or dreaded, it was at the bottom of every thought, it influenced all decisions, often rendering them apparently contrary. The terrible glory of Robespierre, and the crushing weight that rests upon his memory, are due to the sudden transformation effected by his death. In outward semblance, and for some time longer, the customary terms were employed, but the character of the situation was radically changed.


[41] Public accuser before the Revolutionary Tribunal.—Ed.

[42] Decoys; literally, sheep.—Ed.

[43] The royalist War of La Vendée against the Republic was now raging.—Ed.

[44] "It will go." One of the most popular songs at the beginning of the Revolution (1789), said to have been suggested by Benjamin Franklin, who, in speaking of the progress of the American Revolution, said: "Ça ira" meaning, "It will succeed."—Ed.

[Pg 330]


a.d. 1794


That the French Revolution was not more actively interfered with by the powers of Eastern Europe was largely due to the fact that they were all busy with a spoliation of their own. When Kosciuszko, the great Polish patriot and hero, failed in his endeavor to rescue his country from foreign thraldom, the doom of the ancient kingdom was sealed. In the following year (1795) the third and final partition of Poland—between Russia, Austria, and Prussia—was made. This destruction of a heroic nationality was bewailed by the friends of liberty throughout the world, and it was told in passionate regret how "Freedom shrieked, as Kosciuszko fell."

Although brave and liberty-loving, the people of Poland had not kept pace with political progress among the more advanced nations. In the fourteenth century Poland had risen to her greatest power. Her political character, from ancient days, was peculiar, being at once monarchical and republican. But she had a feudalism of her own, which survived long after the European feudal system was outgrown by other nations. Her political system was cumbrous and lacking in unity. The first partition, by the powers above named (1772), left her in still worse disorder. A new constitution proved unsatisfactory, one party favoring it, another seeking to overthrow it. Russian interference was invoked, the Polish patriots resisted, but in 1792 they were defeated, and Russia, with Prussia, made the second partition of Poland in 1793.

In 1794 Kosciuszko was made commander-in-chief and dictator of Poland. The insurrection began with the murder of the Russians in Warsaw. But the Poles suffered from their own dissensions as before, and met with the disaster that led to their national extinction.

There is a certain degree of calamity which overwhelms the courage; but there is another, which, by reducing men to desperation, sometimes leads to the greatest and most glorious enterprises. To this latter state the Poles were now reduced. Abandoned by all the world, distracted with internal divisions, destitute alike of fortresses and resources, crushed in the grasp[Pg 331] of gigantic enemies, the patriots of that unhappy country, consulting only their own courage, resolved to make a last effort to deliver it from its enemies. In the midst of their internal convulsions, and through all the prostration of their national strength, the Poles had never lost their individual courage, or the ennobling feelings of civil independence. They were still the redoubtable hussars who broke the Mussulman ranks under the walls of Vienna, and carried the Polish eagles in triumph to the towers of the Kremlin; whose national cry had so often made the Osmanlis tremble, and who had boasted in their hours of triumph that if the heaven itself were to fall they would support it on the points of their lances. A band of patriots at Warsaw resolved at all hazards to attempt the restoration of their independence, and they made choice of Kosciuszko, who was then at Leipsic, to direct their efforts.[45]

This illustrious hero, who had received the rudiments of military education in France, had afterward served, not without glory, in the War of Independence in America. Uniting to Polish enthusiasm French ability, the ardent friend of liberty and the enlightened advocate for order, brave, loyal, and generous, he was in every way qualified to head the last struggle of the oldest republic in existence for its national independence.[Pg 332] But a nearer approach to the scene of danger convinced him that the hour for action had not yet arrived. The passions, indeed, were awakened; the national enthusiasm was full; but the means of resistance were inconsiderable, and the old divisions of the Republic were not so healed as to afford the prospect of the whole national strength being exerted in its defence. But the public indignation could brook no delay; several regiments stationed at Pultusk revolted, and moved toward Galicia; and Kosciuszko, albeit despairing of success, determined not to be absent in the hour of danger, hastened to Cracow, where on March 3d he closed the gates and proclaimed the insurrection.

Having, by means of the regiments which had revolted, and the junction of some bodies of armed peasants—imperfectly armed, indeed, but full of enthusiasm—collected a force of five thousand men, Kosciuszko left Cracow, and boldly advanced into the open country. He encountered a body of three thousand Russians at Raslowice, and, after an obstinate engagement, succeeded in routing it with great slaughter. This action, inconsiderable in itself, had important consequences; the Polish peasants exchanged their scythes for the arms found on the field of battle, and the insurrection, encouraged by this first gleam of success, soon communicated itself to the adjoining provinces. In vain Stanislaus disavowed the acts of his subjects; the flame of independence spread with the rapidity of lightning, and soon all the freemen in Poland were in arms. Warsaw was the first great point where the flame broke out. The intelligence of the success at Raslowice was received there on April 12th and occasioned the most violent agitation. For some days afterward it was evident that an explosion was at hand; and at length, at daybreak on the morning of the 17th, the brigade of Polish guards, under the direction of their officers, attacked the governor's house and the arsenal, and was speedily joined by the populace. The Russian and Prussian troops in the neighborhood of the capital were about seven thousand men; and after a prolonged and obstinate contest in the streets for thirty-six hours, they were driven across the Vistula with the loss of above three thousand men in killed and prisoners, and the flag of independence was hoisted on the towers of Warsaw.[Pg 333]

One of the most embarrassing circumstances in the situation of the Russians was the presence of above sixteen thousand Poles in their ranks, who were known to sympathize strongly with these heroic efforts of their fellow-citizens. Orders were immediately despatched to Suvaroff to assemble a corps and disarm the Polish troops scattered in Podolia before they could unite in any common measures for their defence. By the energy and activity of this great commander, the Poles were disarmed brigade after brigade, and above twelve thousand men reduced to a state of inaction without much difficulty—a most important operation, not only by destroying the nucleus of a powerful army, but by stifling the commencement of the insurrection in Volhynia and Podolia. How different might have been the fate of Poland and Europe had they been enabled to join the ranks of their countrymen!

Kosciuszko and his countrymen did everything that courage or energy could suggest to put on foot a formidable force to resist their adversaries; a provisional government was established and in a short time a force of forty thousand men was raised. But this force, though highly honorable to the patriotism of the Poles, was inconsiderable when compared with the vast armies which Russia and Prussia could bring up for their subjugation. Small as the army was, its maintenance was too great an effort for the resources of the kingdom, which, torn by intestine factions, without commerce, harbors, or manufactures; having no national credit, and no industrious class of citizens but the Jews, now felt the fatal effects of its long career of democratic anarchy. The population of the country, composed entirely of unruly gentlemen and ignorant serfs, was totally unable at that time to furnish those numerous supplies of intelligent officers which are requisite for the formation of an efficient military force; while the nobility, however formidable on horseback in the Hungarian or Turkish wars, were less to be relied on in a contest with regular troops, where infantry and artillery constituted the great strength of the army, and courage was unavailing without the aid of science and military discipline.

The central position of Poland, in the midst of its enemies, would have afforded great military advantages, had its inhabitants possessed a force capable of turning it to account; that is,[Pg 334] if they had had, like Frederick the Great in the Seven Years' War, a hundred fifty thousand regular troops—which the population of the country could easily have maintained—and a few well-fortified towns, to arrest the enemy in one quarter, while the bulk of the national force was precipitated upon them in another. The glorious stand made by the nation in 1831, with only thirty thousand regular soldiers at the commencement of the insurrection, and no fortifications but those of Warsaw and Modlin, proves what immense advantages this central position affords, and what opportunities it offers to military genius like that of Skrynecki to inflict the most severe wounds even on a superior and well-conducted antagonist. But all these advantages were wanting to Kosciuszko; and it augments our admiration of his talents, and of the heroism of his countrymen, that with such inconsiderable means they made so honorable a stand for their national independence.

No sooner was the King of Prussia informed of the revolution at Warsaw than he moved forward at the head of thirty thousand men to besiege that city; while Suvaroff, with forty thousand veterans, was preparing to enter the southeastern parts of the kingdom. Aware of the necessity of striking a blow before the enemy's forces were united, Kosciuszko advanced with twelve thousand men to attack the Russian General, Denisoff; but, upon approaching his corps, he discovered that it had united to the army commanded by the King in person. Unable to face such superior forces, he immediately retired, but was attacked next morning at daybreak near Sekoczyre by the allies, and after a gallant resistance his army was routed, and Cracow fell into the hands of the conquerors. This check was the more severely felt, as about the same time General Zayonscheck was defeated at Chelne and obliged to recross the Vistula, leaving the whole country on the right bank of that river in the hands of the Russians.

These disasters produced a great impression at Warsaw; the people as usual ascribed them to treachery, and insisted that the leaders should be brought to punishment; and although the chiefs escaped, several persons in an inferior situation were arrested and thrown into prison. Apprehensive of some subterfuge if the accused were regularly brought to trial, the burghers[Pg 335] assembled in tumultuous bodies, forced the prisons, erected scaffolds in the streets, and after the manner of the assassins of September 2d, put above twelve persons to death with their own hands. These excesses affected with the most profound grief the pure heart of Kosciuszko; he flew to the capital, restored order, and delivered over to punishment the leaders of the revolt. But the resources of the country were evidently unequal to the struggle; the paper money, which had been issued in their extremity, was at a frightful discount; and the sacrifices required of the nation were, on that account, the more severely felt, so that hardly a hope of ultimate success remained.

The combined Russian and Prussian armies, about thirty-five thousand strong, now advanced against the capital, where Kosciuszko occupied an intrenched camp with twenty-five thousand men. During the whole of July and August the besiegers were engaged in fruitless attempts to drive the Poles into the city; and at length a great convoy, with artillery and stores for a regular siege, which was ascending the Vistula, having been captured by a gentleman named Minewsky at the head of a body of peasants, the King of Prussia raised the siege, leaving a portion of his sick and stores in the hands of the patriots. After this success the insurrection spread immensely and the Poles mustered nearly eighty thousand men under arms. But they were scattered over too extensive a line of country in order to make head against their numerous enemies—a policy tempting by the prospect it holds forth of exciting an extensive insurrection, but ruinous in the end, by exposing the patriotic forces to the risk of being beaten in detail. Scarcely had the Poles recovered from their intoxication at the raising of the siege of Warsaw when intelligence was received of the defeat of Sizakowsky, who commanded a corps of ten thousand men beyond the Bug, by the Russian grand army under Suvaroff. This celebrated General, to whom the principal conduct of the war was now committed, followed up his successes with the utmost vigor. The retreating column was again assailed on the 19th by the victorious Russians, and after a glorious resistance driven into the woods between Janoff and Biala, with the loss of four thousand men and twenty-eight pieces of cannon. Scarcely three thousand Poles, with Sizakowsky at their head, escaped into Siedlice.[Pg 336]

Upon receiving the accounts of this disaster, Kosciuszko resolved, by drawing together all his detachments, to fall upon Fersen before he joined Suvaroff and the other corps which were advancing against the capital. With this view he ordered General Poninsky to join him, and marched with all his disposable forces to attack the Russian General, who was stationed at Maccowice; but fortune on this occasion cruelly deceived the Poles. Arrived in the neighborhood of Fersen's position he found that Poninsky had not yet come up; and the Russian commander, overjoyed at this circumstance, resolved immediately to attack him. In vain Kosciuszko despatched courier after courier to Poninsky to advance to his relief. The first was intercepted by the Cossacks, and the second did not reach that leader in time to enable him to take a decisive part in the approaching combat. Nevertheless the Polish commander, aware of the danger of retreating with inexperienced troops in presence of a disciplined and superior enemy, determined to give battle on the following day, and drew up his little army with as much skill as the circumstances would admit.

The forces on the opposite sides in this action, which decided the fate of Poland, were nearly equal in point of numbers; but the advantages of discipline and equipment were decisively on the side of the Russians. Kosciuszko commanded about ten thousand men, a part of whom were recently raised and imperfectly disciplined; while Fersen was at the head of twelve thousand veterans, including a most formidable body of cavalry. Nevertheless, the Poles in the centre and right wing made a glorious defence; but the left, which Poninsky should have supported, having been overwhelmed by the cavalry under Denisoff, the whole army was, after a severe struggle, thrown into confusion. Kosciuszko, Sizakowsky, and other gallant chiefs in vain made the most heroic efforts to rally the broken troops. They were wounded, struck down, and made prisoners by the Cossacks who swarmed over the field of battle; while the remains of the army, now reduced to seven thousand men, fell back in confusion toward Warsaw.

After the fall of Kosciuszko, who sustained in his single person the fortunes of the Republic, nothing but a series of disasters overtook the Poles. The Austrians, taking advantage of the[Pg 337] general confusion, entered Galicia, and occupied the palatinates of Lublin and Sandomir; while Suvaroff, pressing forward toward the capital, defeated Mokronowsky, who, at the head of twelve thousand men, strove to retard the advance of that redoubtable commander. In vain the Poles made the utmost efforts; they were routed with the loss of four thousand men; and the patriots, though now despairing of success, resolved to sell their lives dearly, and shut themselves up in Warsaw to await the approach of the conqueror. Suvaroff was soon at the gates of Praga, the eastern suburb of that capital, where twenty-six thousand men and one hundred pieces of cannon defended the bridge of the Vistula and the approach to the capital. To assault such a position with forces hardly superior was evidently a hazardous enterprise; but the approach of winter, rendering it indispensable that if anything was done at all it should be immediately attempted, Suvaroff, who was habituated to successful assaults in the Turkish wars, resolved to storm the city. On November 2d the Russians made their appearance before the glacis of Praga, and Suvaroff, having in great haste completed three powerful batteries and breached the defences with imposing celerity, made his dispositions for a general assault on the following day.

The conquerors of Ismail advanced to the attack in the same order which they had adopted on that memorable occasion. Seven columns at daybreak approached the ramparts, rapidly filled up the ditches with their fascines, broke down the defences, and pouring into the intrenched camp carried destruction into the ranks of the Poles. In vain the defenders did their utmost to resist the torrent. The wooden houses of Praga speedily took fire, and amid the shouts of the victors and the cries of the inhabitants the Polish battalions were borne backward to the edge of the Vistula. The multitude of fugitives speedily broke down the bridges; and the citizens of Warsaw beheld with unavailing anguish their defenders on the other side perishing in the flames, or by the sword of the conquerors. Ten thousand soldiers fell on the spot, nine thousand were made prisoners, and above twelve thousand citizens, of every age and sex, were put to the sword—a dreadful instance of carnage which has left a lasting stain on the name of Suvaroff and which Russia[Pg 338] expiated in the conflagration of Moscow. The tragedy was at an end. Warsaw capitulated two days afterward; the detached parties of the patriots melted away, and Poland was no more. On November 6th Suvaroff made his triumphant entry into the blood-stained capital. King Stanislaus was sent into Russia, where he ended his days in captivity, and the final partition of the monarchy was effected.


[45] Thaddeus Kosciuszko was born in 1755, of a poor but noble family, and received the first elements of his education in the corps of cadets at Warsaw. There he was early distinguished by his diligence, ability, and progress in mathematical science, insomuch that he was selected as one of the four students annually chosen at that institution to travel at the expense of the State. He went abroad, accordingly, and spent several years in France, chiefly engaged in military studies; from whence he returned in 1778, with ideas of freedom and independence unhappily far in advance of his country at that period. As war did not seem likely at that period in the north of Europe, he set sail for America, then beginning the War of Independence, and was employed by Washington as his adjutant, and distinguished himself greatly in that contest beside Lafayette, Lameth, Dumas, and so many of the other ardent and enthusiastic spirits from the Old World. He returned to Europe on the termination of the war, decorated with the order of Cincinnatus, and lived in retirement till 1789, when, as King Stanislaus was adopting some steps with a view to the assertion of national independence, he was appointed major-general by the Polish Diet. In 1791 he joined with enthusiasm in the formation of the Constitution which was proclaimed on May 5th of that year.—Ed.

[Pg 339]



a.d. 1796


Napoleon, regarded by many as the most remarkable man of modern times, took control of the forces of the French Revolution and directed them toward purposes little dreamed of by the earlier leaders of the uprising. The excesses of the Reign of Terror had caused such a reaction that even in Paris men began to talk of restoring the monarchy, and in 1795 a new tumult began, due in part to the efforts of the Royalists. Once more a mob marched against the hall of the National Convention; and the general of the national troops in the city, uncertain what to do, gladly left affairs in the hands of a subordinate, one of the few remaining French officers who had received a regular military training under the old régime. This lesser general, a young man of twenty-six, was Napoleon Bonaparte, who had already won repute as a military engineer. Bonaparte met the mob as no Paris mob had yet been met. He had a row of cannon loaded with grape-shot, and these were fired to kill. Many of the rabble fell, the rest fled in dismay. "That whiff of grape-shot," says Carlyle, "ended the Revolution."

Bonaparte, made much of by the Convention he had defended, was appointed commander of the army fighting on the Italian frontier. Ever since Valmy, Revolutionary France had been compelled to defend herself against civil war within and the attacks of the foreign monarchs, friends and relatives of Louis XVI, from without. The tremendous energy of her aroused people had made her equal to the task. She had conquered Holland and the German lands west of the Rhine, she had forced both Prussia and Spain to sue for peace. But England from her island throne, and Austria, the most powerful of France's continental foes, the most closely related to the murdered Queen Marie Antoinette, were still threatening the French borders. The Austrians held most of Italy and it was against them that Napoleon was despatched. He was the first to carry the war away from the French border line and into the heart of the countries of her foes.

France was starving; and Napoleon from the treasuries of Italy sent her unlimited supplies; sent her splendid works of art. No wonder the impoverished people hailed him with delight as their preserver. No wonder the purer aspirations after liberty perished in the passion for conquest, spoils, and that Frenchest of French vanities, "la gloire."

[Pg 340]

Napoleon has himself observed that no country in the world is more distinctly marked out by its natural boundaries than Italy. The Alps seem a barrier erected by nature herself, on which she has inscribed in gigantic characters "Here let ambition be staid." Yet this tremendous circumvallation of mountains, as it could not prevent the ancient Romans from breaking out to desolate the world, so it has been in like manner found, ever since the days of Hannibal, unequal to protect Italy herself from invasion. The French nation, in the times of which we treat, spoke indeed of the Alps as a natural boundary, so far as to authorize them to claim all which lay on the western side of these mountains, as naturally pertaining to their dominions; but they never deigned to respect them as such when the question respected their invading, on their own part, the territories of other states which lay on or beyond the formidable frontier. They assumed the law of natural limits as an unchallengeable rule when it made in favor of France, but never allowed it to be quoted against her interest.

During the Revolutionary War, the general fortune of battle had varied from time to time in the neighborhood of these mighty boundaries. The King of Sardinia possessed almost all the fortresses which command the passes on these mountains, and had therefore been said to wear the keys of the Alps at his girdle. He had indeed lost his dukedom of Savoy, and the county of Nice, in the last campaign; but he still maintained in opposition to the French a very considerable army, and was supported by his powerful ally the Emperor of Austria, always vigilant regarding that rich and beautiful portion of his dominions which lies in the North of Italy. The frontiers of Piedmont were therefore covered by a strong Austro-Sardinian army, opposed to the French armies to which Napoleon had been just named commander-in-chief. A strong Neapolitan force was also to be added, so that in general numbers their opponents were much superior to the French; but a great part of this force was cooped up in garrisons which could not be abandoned.

It may be imagined with what delight the General, scarce aged twenty-six, advanced to an independent field of glory and conquest, confident in his own powers, and in the perfect knowledge of the country which he had acquired, when, by his scientific[Pg 341] plans of the campaign, he had enabled General Dumorbion to drive the Austrians back, and obtain possession of the Col di Tenda, Saorgio, and the gorges of the higher Alps. Bonaparte's achievements had hitherto been under the auspices of others. He made the dispositions before Toulon, but it was Dugommier who had the credit of taking the place. Dumorbion, as we have just said, obtained the merit of the advantages in Piedmont. Even in the civil turmoil of 13th Vendémiaire, his actual services had been overshaded by the official dignity of Barras, as commander-in-chief. But if he reaped honor in Italy the success would be exclusively his own; and that proud heart must have throbbed to meet danger upon such terms; that keen spirit have toiled to discover the means of success.

For victory, he relied chiefly upon a system of tactics hitherto unpractised in war, or at least upon any considerable or uniform scale. As war becomes a profession, and a subject of deep study, it is gradually discovered that the principles of tactics depend upon mathematical and arithmetical science; and that the commander will be victorious who can assemble the greatest number of forces upon the same point at the same moment, notwithstanding an inferiority of numbers to the enemy when the general force is computed on both sides.

No man ever possessed in a greater degree than Bonaparte the power of calculation and combination necessary for directing such decisive manœuvres. It constituted indeed his secret—as it was for some time called—and that secret consisted in an imagination fertile in expedients which would never have occurred to others; clearness and precision in forming his plans; a mode of directing with certainty the separate moving columns which were to execute them, by arranging so that each division should arrive on the destined position at the exact time when their service was necessary; and above all, in the knowledge which enabled such a master-spirit to choose the most fitting subordinate implements, to attach them to his person, and by explaining to them so much of his plan as it was necessary each should execute, to secure the exertion of their utmost ability in carrying it into effect.

Thus, not only were his manœuvres, however daring, executed with a precision which warlike operations had not attained before his time; but they were also performed with a celerity[Pg 342] which gave them almost the effect of surprise. Napoleon was like lightning in the eyes of his enemies; and when repeated experience had taught them to expect this portentous rapidity of movement, it sometimes induced his opponents to wait in a dubious and hesitating posture for attacks, which, with less apprehension of their antagonist, they would have thought it more prudent to frustrate and to anticipate.

The forces which Bonaparte had under his command were between fifty and sixty thousand good troops, having, many of them, been brought from the Spanish campaign in consequence of the peace with that country; but very indifferently provided with clothing, and suffering from the hardships they had endured in those mountains, barren and cold regions. The cavalry, in particular, were in very poor order; but the nature of their new field of action not admitting of their being much employed, rendered this of less consequence. The misery of the French army, until these Alpine campaigns were victoriously closed by the armistice of Cherasco, could, according to Bonaparte's authority, scarce bear description. The officers for several years had received no more than eight livres a month (twenty-pence sterling a week) in name of pay, and staff-officers had not among them a single horse. Berthier preserved, as a curiosity, an order dated on the day of the victory of Albenga, which munificently conferred a gratuity of three louis d'ors upon every general of division. Among the generals to whom this donation was rendered acceptable by their wants were, or might have been, many whose names became afterward the praise and dread of war. Augereau, Masséna, Serrurier, Joubert, Lannes, and Murat, all generals of the first consideration, served under Bonaparte in the Italian campaign.

The plan of crossing the Alps and marching into Italy suited in every respect the ambitious and self-confident character of the General to whom it was now intrusted. It gave him a separate and independent authority, and the power of acting on his own judgment and responsibility; for his countryman Salicetti, the deputy who accompanied him as commissioner of the Government, was not probably much disposed to intrude his opinions. He had been Bonaparte's patron, and was still his friend. The young General's mind was made up to the alternative of conquest[Pg 343] or ruin, as may be judged from his words to a friend at taking leave of him. "In three months," he said, "I will be either at Milan or at Paris;" intimating at once his desperate resolution to succeed, and his sense that the disappointment of all his prospects must be the consequence of a failure.

With the same view of animating his followers to ambitious hopes, he addressed the Army of Italy to the following purpose: "Soldiers, you are hungry and naked; the Republic owes you much, but she has not the means to acquit herself of her debts. The patience with which you support your hardships among these barren rocks is admirable, but it cannot procure you glory. I am come to lead you into the most fertile plains that the sun beholds: rich provinces, opulent towns; all shall be at your disposal. Soldiers, with such a prospect before you, can you fail in courage and constancy?" This was showing the deer to the hound when the leash is about to be slipped.

The Austro-Sardinian army, to which Bonaparte was opposed, was commanded by Beaulieu, an Austrian general of great experience and some talent, but no less than seventy-five years old; accustomed all his life to the ancient rules of tactics, and unlikely to suspect, anticipate, or frustrate those plans formed by a genius so fertile as that of Napoleon.

Bonaparte's plan for entering Italy differed from that of former conquerors and invaders, who had approached that fine country by penetrating or surmounting at some point or other her Alpine barriers. This inventive warrior resolved to attain the same object by turning round the southern extremity of the Alpine range, keeping as close as possible to the shores of the Mediterranean, and passing through the Genoese territory by the narrow pass called the Boccheta, leading around the extremity of the mountains, and betwixt these and the sea. Thus he proposed to penetrate into Italy by the lowest level which the surface of the country presented, which must be of course where the range of the Alps unites with that of the Apennines. The point of junction where these two immense ranges of mountains touch upon each other is at the heights of Mount St. Jacques, above Genoa, where the Alps, running northwestward, ascend to Mont Blanc, their highest peak, and the Appenines, running to the[Pg 344] southeast, gradually elevate themselves to Monte Velino, the tallest mountain of the range.

To attain this object of turning the Alps in the manner proposed, it was necessary that Bonaparte should totally change the situation of his army; those occupying a defensive line, running north and south, being to assume an offensive position, extending east and west. Speaking of an army as of a battalion, he was to form into column upon the right of the line which he had hitherto occupied. This was an extremely delicate operation to be undertaken in presence of an active enemy, his superior in numbers; nor was he permitted to execute it uninterrupted.

No sooner did Beaulieu learn that the French General was concentrating his forces, and about to change his position, than he hastened to preserve Genoa, without possession of which, or at least of the adjacent territory, Bonaparte's scheme of advance could scarce have been accomplished. The Austrian divided his army into three bodies. Colli, at the head of a Sardinian division, he stationed on the extreme right at Ceva; his centre division, under D'Argenteau, having its head at Sasiello, had directions to march on a mountain called Monte Notte, with two villages of the same name, near to which was a strong position at a place called Montelegino, which the French had occupied in order to cover their flank during their march toward the east.

At the head of his left wing, Beaulieu himself moved from Novi upon Voltri, a small town nine miles west of Genoa, for the protection of that ancient city, whose independence and neutrality were like to be held in little reverence. Thus it appears, that while the French were endeavoring to penetrate into Italy by an advance from Sardinia by the way of Genoa, their line of march was threatened by three armies of Austro-Sardinians, descending from the skirts of the Alps, and menacing to attack their flank. But, though a skilful disposition, Beaulieu's had, from the very mountainous character of the country, the great disadvantage of wanting connection between the three separate divisions; neither, if needful, could they be easily united on any point desired, while the lower line, on which the French moved, permitted constant communication and coöperation.

On April 10, 1796, D'Argenteau, with the central division of the Austro-Sardinian army, descended upon Monte Notte, while[Pg 345] Beaulieu on the left attacked the van of the French army, which had come as far as Voltri. General Cervoni, commanding the French division which sustained the attack of Beaulieu, was compelled to fall back on the main body of his countrymen; and had the assault of D'Argenteau been equally animated, or equally successful, the fame of Bonaparte might have been stifled in its birth. But Colonel Rampon, a French officer, who commanded the redoubts near Montelegino, stopped the progress of D'Argenteau by the most determined resistance. At the head of not more than fifteen hundred men, whom he inspired with his own courage, and caused to swear to maintain their post or die there, he continued to defend the redoubts, during the whole of the 11th, until D'Argenteau, whose conduct was afterward greatly blamed for not making more determined efforts to carry them, drew off his forces for the evening, intending to renew the attack next morning.

But on the morning of the 12th, the Austrian General found himself surrounded with enemies. Cervoni, who retreated before Beaulieu, had united himself with La Harpe, and both advancing northward during the night of the 11th, established themselves in the rear of the redoubts of Montelegino, which Rampon had so gallantly defended. This was not all. The divisions of Augereau and Masséna had marched, by different routes, on the flank and on the rear of D'Argenteau's column; so that next morning, instead of renewing his attack on the redoubts, the Austrian General was obliged to extricate himself by a disastrous retreat, leaving behind him colors and cannon, a thousand slain, and two thousand prisoners.

Such was the Battle of Monte Notte, the first of Bonaparte's victories; eminently displaying the truth and mathematical certainty of combination, which enabled him on many more memorable occasions, even when his forces were inferior in numbers, and apparently disunited in position, suddenly to concentrate them and defeat his enemy, by overpowering him on the very point where he thought himself strongest. He had accumulated a superior force on the Austrian centre, and destroyed it, while Colli, on the right, and Beaulieu himself, on the left, each at the head of numerous forces, did not even hear of the action till it was fought and won. In consequence of the success at Monte Notte,[Pg 346] and the close pursuit of the defeated Austrians, the French obtained possession of Cairo, which placed them on that side of the Alps which slopes toward Lombardy, and where the streams from these mountains run to join the Po.

Beaulieu had advanced to Voltri, while the French withdrew to unite themselves in the attack upon D'Argenteau. He had now to retreat northward with all haste to Dego, in the valley of the river Bormida, in order to resume communication with the right wing of his army, consisting chiefly of Sardinians, from which he was now nearly separated by the defeat of the centre. General Colli, by a corresponding movement on the left, occupied Millesimo, a small town about nine miles from Dego, with which he resumed and maintained communication by a brigade stationed on the heights of Biastro. From the strength of this position, though his forces were scarce sufficiently concentrated, Beaulieu hoped to maintain his ground till he should receive supplies from Lombardy, and recover the consequences of the defeat at Monte Notte. But the antagonist whom he had in front had no purpose of permitting him such respite.

Determined upon a general attack on all points of the Austrian position, the French army advanced in three bodies upon a space of four leagues in extent. Augereau, at the head of the division which had not fought at Monte Notte, advanced on the left against Millesimo; the centre, under Masséna, directed themselves upon Dego, by the vale of the Bormida; the right wing, commanded by La Harpe, manœuvred on the right of all, for the purpose of turning Beaulieu's left flank. Augereau was the first who came in contact with the enemy. He attacked General Colli, April 13th. His troops, emulous of the honor acquired by their companions, behaved with great bravery, rushed upon the outposts of the Sardinian army at Millesimo, forced and retained possession of the gorge by which it was defended, and thus separated from the Sardinian army a body of about two thousand men, under the Austrian General Provera, who occupied a detached eminence called Cossaria, which covered the extreme left of General Colli's position. But the Austrian showed the most obstinate courage. Although surrounded by the enemy, he threw himself into the ruinous castle of Cossaria, which crowned the eminence, and showed a disposition to maintain the place to the[Pg 347] last; the rather that, as he could see from the turrets of his stronghold the Sardinian troops, from whom he had been separated, preparing to fight on the ensuing day, he might reasonably hope to be disengaged.

Bonaparte in person came up; and seeing the necessity of dislodging the enemy from his strong post, ordered three successive attacks to be made on the castle. Joubert, at the head of one of the attacking columns, had actually, with six or seven others, made his way into the outworks, when he was struck down by a wound in the head. General Banal and Adjutant-General Quenin fell, each at the head of the column which he commanded; and Bonaparte was compelled to leave the obstinate Provera in possession of the castle for the night. The morning of the 14th brought a different scene. Contenting himself with blockading the castle of Cossaria, Bonaparte now gave battle to General Colli, who made every effort to relieve it. These attempts were all in vain. He was defeated and cut off from Beaulieu; he retired as well as he could upon Ceva, leaving to his fate the brave General Provera, who was compelled to surrender at discretion.

On the same day, Masséna, with the centre, attacked the heights of Biastro, being the point of communication betwixt Beaulieu and Colli, while La Harpe, having crossed the Bormida, where the stream came up to the soldiers' middle, attacked in front and in flank the village of Dego, where the Austrian Commander-in-Chief was stationed. The first attack was completely successful—the heights of Biastro were carried, and the Piedmontese routed. The assault of Dego was not less so, although after a harder struggle. Beaulieu was compelled to retreat, and was entirely separated from the Sardinians, who had hitherto acted in combination with him. The defenders of Italy now retreated in different directions, Colli moving westward toward Ceva, while Beaulieu, closely pursued through a difficult country, retired upon D'Aqui.

Even the morning after the victory, it was nearly wrested out of the hands of the conquerors. A fresh division of Austrians, who had evacuated Voltri later than the others, and were approaching to form a junction with their General, found the enemy in possession of Beaulieu's position. They arrived at Dego like men who had been led astray, and were no doubt surprised at finding[Pg 348] it in the hands of the French. Yet they did not hesitate to assume the offensive, and by a brisk attack drove out the enemy, and replaced the Austrian eagles in the village. Great alarm was occasioned by this sudden apparition; for no one among the French could conceive the meaning of an alarm beginning on the opposite quarter to that on which the enemy had retreated, and without its being announced from the outposts toward D'Aqui.

Bonaparte hastily marched on the village. The Austrians repelled two attacks; at the third, General Lanusse, afterward killed in Egypt, put his hat upon the point of his sword, and advancing to the charge penetrated into the place. Lannes also, afterward Duke of Montebello, distinguished himself on the same occasion by courage and military skill, and was recommended by Bonaparte to the Directory for promotion. In this Battle of Dego, more commonly called of Millesimo, the Austro-Sardinian army lost five or six thousand men, thirty pieces of cannon, with a great quantity of baggage. Besides, the Austrians were divided from the Sardinians; and the two generals began to show not only that their forces were disunited, but that they themselves were acting upon separate motives; the Sardinians desiring to protect Turin, whereas the movements of Beaulieu seemed still directed to prevent the French from entering the Milanese territory.

Leaving a sufficient force on the Bormida to keep in check Beaulieu, Bonaparte now turned his strength against Colli, who, overpowered, and without hopes of succor, abandoned his line of defence near Ceva, and retreated to the line of the Tanaro.

Napoleon in the mean time fixed his head-quarters at Ceva, and enjoyed from the heights of Montezemoto the splendid view of the fertile fields of Piedmont, stretching in boundless perspective beneath his feet, watered by the Po, the Tanaro, and a thousand other streams which descended from the Alps. Before the eyes of the delighted army of victors lay this rich expanse like a promised land; behind them was the wilderness they had passed—not indeed a desert of barren sand, similar to that in which the Israelites wandered, but a huge tract of rocks and inaccessible mountains, crested with ice and snow, seeming by nature designed as the barrier and rampart of the blessed regions, which stretched[Pg 349] eastward beneath them. We can sympathize with the self-congratulation of the General who had surmounted such tremendous obstacles in a way so unusual. He said to the officers around him, as they gazed upon this magnificent scene, "Hannibal took the Alps by storm. We have succeeded as well by turning their flank."

The dispirited army of Colli was attacked at Mondovi during his retreat by two corps of Bonaparte's army from two different points, commanded by Masséna and Serrurier. The last General the Sardinian repulsed with loss; but when he found Masséna, in the mean time, was turning the left of his line, and that he was thus pressed on both flanks, his situation became almost desperate. The cavalry of the Piedmontese made an effort to renew the combat. For a time they overpowered and drove back those of the French; and General Stengel, who commanded the latter, was slain in attempting to get them into order. But the desperate valor of Murat, unrivalled perhaps in the heady charge of cavalry combat, renewed the fortune of the field; and the horse, as well as the infantry of Colli's army, were compelled to a disastrous retreat. The defeat was decisive; and the Sardinians, after the loss of the best of their troops, their cannon, baggage, and appointments, and being now totally divided from their Austrian allies, and liable to be overpowered by the united forces of the French army, had no longer hopes of effectually covering Turin. Bonaparte, pursuing his victory, took possession of Cherasco, within ten leagues of the Piedmontese capital.

Thus Fortune, in the course of a campaign of scarce a month, placed her favorite in full possession of the desired road to Italy, by command of the mountain-passes, which had been invaded and conquered with so much military skill. He had gained three battles over forces far superior to his own; inflicted on the enemy a loss of twenty-five thousand men in killed, wounded, and prisoners; taken eighty pieces of cannon, and twenty-one stands of colors; reduced to inaction the Austrian army; almost annihilated that of Sardinia; and stood in full communication with France upon the eastern side of the Alps, with Italy lying open before him, as if to invite his invasion. But it was not even with such laurels, and with facilities which now presented themselves for the accomplishment of new and more important victories[Pg 350] upon a larger scale, and with more magnificent results, that the career of Bonaparte's earliest campaign was to be closed. The head of the royal house of Savoy, if not one of the most powerful, still one of the most distinguished in Europe, was to have the melancholy experience, that he had encountered with the "Man of Destiny," as he was afterward proudly called, who, for a time, had power, in the emphatic phrase of Scripture, "to bind kings with chains, and nobles with fetters of iron."

The shattered relics of the Sardinian army had fallen back, or rather fled, to within two leagues of Turin, without hope of being again able to make an effectual stand. The sovereign of Sardinia, Savoy, and Piedmont had no means of preserving his capital, nay, his existence on the Continent, excepting by an almost total submission to the will of the victor. Let it be remembered, that Victor Amadeus III was the descendant of a race of heroes, who, from the peculiar situation of their territories, as constituting a neutral ground of great strength betwixt France and the Italian possessions of Austria, had often been called on to play a part in the general affairs of Europe, of importance far superior to that which their condition as a second-rate power could otherwise have demanded. In general, they had compensated their inferiority of force by an ability and gallantry which did them the highest credit, both as generals and as politicians; and now Piedmont was at the feet, in her turn, of an enemy weaker in numbers than her own. Besides the reflections on the past fame of his country, the present humiliating situation of the King was rendered more mortifying by the state of his family connections.

Victor Amadeus was the father-in-law of "Monsieur" (by right Louis XVIII), and of the Comte d'Artois, the reigning King of France. He had received his sons-in-law at his court at Turin, had afforded them an opportunity of assembling around them their forces, consisting of the emigrant noblesse, and had strained all the power he possessed, and in many instances successfully, to withstand both the artifices and the arms of the French Republicans. And now, so born, so connected, and with such principles, he was condemned to sue for peace on any terms which might be dictated, from a general of France aged twenty-six years, who, a few months before, was desirous of an appointment in the artillery service of the Grand Seignior![Pg 351]

An armistice was requested by the King of Sardinia under these afflicting circumstances, but could only be purchased by placing two of his strongest fortresses—those keys of the Alps, of which his ancestors had long been the keepers—Coni and Tortona, in the hands of the French, and thus acknowledging that he surrendered at discretion. The armistice was agreed on at Cherasco, but commissioners were sent by the King to Paris, to arrange with the Directory the final terms of peace. These were such as victors give to the vanquished.

Besides the fortresses already surrendered, the King of Sardinia was to place in the hands of the French five others of the first importance. The road from France to Italy was to be at all times open to the French armies; and indeed the King, by surrender of the places mentioned, had lost the power of interrupting their progress. He was to break off every species of alliance and connection with the combined powers at war with France, and become bound not to entertain at his court, or in his service, any French emigrants whatsoever, or any of their connections; nor was an exception even made in favor of his own two daughters. In short, the surrender was absolute. Victor Amadeus exhibited the utmost reluctance to subscribe this treaty, and did not long survive it. His son succeeded in name to the kingdom of Piedmont; but the fortresses and passes which had rendered him a prince of some importance were, excepting Turin and one or two of minor consequence, all surrendered into the hands of the French.

Viewing this treaty with Sardinia as the close of the Piedmontese campaign, we pause to consider the character which Bonaparte displayed at that period. The talents as a general which he had exhibited were of the very first order. There was no disconnection in his objects, they were all attained by the very means he proposed, and the success was improved to the utmost. A different conduct usually characterizes those who stumble unexpectedly on victory, either by good-fortune or by the valor of their troops. When the favorable opportunity occurs to such leaders, they are nearly as much embarrassed by it as by a defeat. But Bonaparte, who had foreseen the result of each operation by his sagacity, stood also prepared to make the most of the advantages which might be derived from it.[Pg 352]

His style in addressing the Convention was, at this period, more modest and simple, and therefore more impressive, than the figurative and bombastic style which he afterward used in his bulletins. His self-opinion, perhaps, was not risen so high as to permit him to use the sesquipedalian words and violent metaphors, to which he afterward seems to have given a preference. We may remark also, that the young victor was honorably anxious to secure for such officers as distinguished themselves the preferment which their services entitled them to. He urges the promotion of his brethren-in-arms in almost every one of his despatches—a conduct not only just and generous, but also highly politic. Were his recommendations successful, their General had the gratitude due for the benefit; were they overlooked, thanks equally belonged to him for his good wishes, and the resentment for the slight attached itself to the Government who did not give effect to them.

[Pg 353]



a.d. 1798


Napoleon's Italian victories forced even Austria to seek peace and acquiesce in the extension of the French Republic to the Rhine and over a considerable part of Italy. The Continent was for a moment at peace, only England remaining in open hostility to France. A great invasion was planned to subdue the island kingdom, but Britain felt secure in the power of her ships which had repeatedly defeated those of France, Spain, and Holland.

The French Government, which had gradually gathered a strong fleet on the Mediterranean, now at Bonaparte's urgency undertook what has often been regarded as the rather visionary attempt of conquering Egypt, perhaps expecting to extend French power over all Asia and so destroy British trade, the source of Britain's wealth. Egypt was nominally subject to Turkey, but was really ruled by the Mamelukes, an aristocracy of soldiers who had held the land for centuries.

Nelson, the English admiral, despatched to discover and defeat the French fleet, is England's greatest naval hero. He had already won renown as second in command in an important victory over the Spaniards off Cape St. Vincent. The Battle of the Nile was the first of his three most celebrated achievements, the others being the defeat of the Danes at Copenhagen[46] and then the final destruction of the French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar.

Bonaparte with great difficulty persuaded the Directory to postpone their scheme for the invasion of the British Islands, and to permit him to embark an army for Egypt, the possession of which country, he maintained, would open to France the commerce of the East, and prepare the way for the conquest of India. Having subdued Egypt, he would return before another winter to plant the tricolor on the Tower of London. In April, Bonaparte was appointed general-in-chief of the Army of the East. The secret had been well kept.

The French fleet under Admiral Brueys was in the harbor of[Pg 354] Toulon, ready to sail upon its secret destination. Something different from the invasion of England was in contemplation; for on board the admiral's ship, L'Orient, were a hundred literary men and artists, mathematicians and naturalists, who were certainly not required to enlighten the French upon the native productions or the antiquities of the British Isles. Bonaparte arrived at Toulon on May 9th, and issued one of his grandiloquent proclamations to his troops. The armament consisted of thirteen ships of the line, many frigates and corvettes, and four hundred transports. The army, which it was to carry to some unknown shore, consisted of forty thousand men. On May 19th this formidable expedition left the great French harbor of the Mediterranean.

On the day when Bonaparte arrived at Toulon, Nelson had sailed from Gibraltar, with three seventy-fours, four frigates, and a sloop, to watch the movements of the enemy. Since the most daring of British naval commanders had fought in the Battle of St. Vincent, he had lost an arm in an unsuccessful attack upon the island of Teneriffe. For some time his spirit was depressed, and he thought that a left-handed admiral could never again be useful. He had lost also his right eye, and was severely wounded in his body. But he had not lost that indomitable spirit which rose superior to wounds and weakness of constitution. He rested some time at home; and then, early in 1798, sailed in the Vanguard to join the fleet under Lord St. Vincent. The Admiralty had suggested, and Lord St. Vincent had previously determined, that a detachment of the squadron blockading the Spanish fleet should sail to the Mediterranean, under the command of Nelson. The seniors of the fleet were offended at this preference of a junior officer; and men of routine at home shrugged their shoulders, and feared, with the cold Lord Grenville, that Nelson "will do something too desperate." He was not stinted in his means, being finally reënforced with ten of the best ships of St. Vincent's fleet.

The first operation of Bonaparte was the seizure of Malta. His fleet was in sight of the island on June 9th. He had other weapons than his cannon for the reduction of a place deemed impregnable. The Order of St. John of Jerusalem had held the real sovereignty of the island since 1530. These Knights of[Pg 355] Malta, powerful at sea, had formed one of the bulwarks of Christendom against the Ottomans. They had gradually lost their warlike prowess as well at their religious austerity; and Malta, protected by its fortifications, became the seat of luxury for this last of the monastic military orders whose occupation was gone. Bonaparte had confiscated their property in Italy; and he had sent a skilful agent to the island to sow dissensions among the Knights, and thus to prepare the way for the fall of the community. There were many French knights among them, to whom the principal military commands had been intrusted by the grand master, a weak German.

Bonaparte, on June 9th, sent a demand to the grand master, that his whole fleet should be permitted to enter the great harbor for the purpose of taking in water. The reply was that, according to the rules of the Order, only two ships, or at most four, could be allowed to enter the port at one time. The answer was interpreted as equivalent to a declaration of hostility; and Bonaparte issued orders that the army should disembark the next morning on the coasts of the island wherever a landing could be effected. The island was taken almost without opposition; the French Knights declaring that they would not fight against their countrymen. On June 13th, the French were put in possession of La Valletta and the surrounding forts. Bonaparte made all sorts of promises of compensation to the recreant Knights, which the Directory were not very careful to keep. He landed to examine his prize, when General Caffarelli, who accompanied him, said, "We are very lucky that there was somebody in the place to open the doors for us."

Leaving a garrison to occupy the new possession, the French sailed away on the 20th, with all the gold and silver of the treasury, and all the plate of the churches and religious houses. "The essential point now," says Thiers, "was not to encounter the English fleet"; nevertheless, he adds, "nobody was afraid of the encounter." Nelson was at Naples on the day when Bonaparte quitted Malta. He immediately sailed. On the 22d, at night, the two fleets crossed each other's track unperceived, between Cape Mesurado and the mouth of the Adriatic. The frigates of the British fleet had been separated from the main body, and thus Nelson had no certain intelligence. His sagacity[Pg 356] made him conjecture that the destination of the armament was Egypt. He made the most direct course to Alexandria, which he reached on the 28th. No enemy was there, and no tidings could be obtained of them. On the morning of July 1st, Admiral Brueys was off the same port, and learned that Nelson had sailed away in search of him. Bonaparte demanded that he should be landed at some distance from Alexandria, for preparations appeared for the defence of the ancient city. As he and several thousand troops who followed him reached the shore in boats, a vessel appeared in sight, and the cry went forth that it was an English sail. "Fortune," he exclaimed, "dost thou abandon me? Give me only five days!" A French frigate was the cause of the momentary alarm. Nelson had returned to Sicily.

The Sultan was at peace with France; a French minister was at Constantinople. Such trifling formalities in the laws of nations were little respected by the man who told his soldiers that "the genius of Liberty having rendered the Republic the arbiter of Europe, had assigned to her the same power over the seas and over the most distant nations." Four thousand of the French army were landed, and marched in three columns to the attack of Alexandria. It was quickly taken by assault. Bonaparte announced that he came neither to ravage the country nor to question the authority of the Grand Seignior, but to put down the domination of the Mamelukes, who tyrannized over the people by the authority of the beys. He proclaimed to the population of Egypt, in magnificent language that he caused to be translated into Arabic, that he came not to destroy their religion. We Frenchmen are true Mussulmans. Have not we destroyed the pope, who called upon Europe to make war upon Mussulmans? Have not we destroyed the Knights of Malta, because these madmen believed that God had called them to make war upon Mussulmans?

Leaving a garrison of three thousand men in Alexandria, the main army commenced its march to Cairo. Bonaparte was anxious to arrive there before the periodical inundation of the Nile. The fleet of Brueys remained at anchor in the road of Abukir. Bonaparte chose the shorter route to Cairo through the desert of Damanhour, leading thirty thousand men—to each of whom he had promised to grant seven acres of fertile[Pg 357] land in the conquered territories—through plains of sand without a drop of water. They murmured, and almost mutinied, but they endured, and at length reached the banks of the Nile, at Rahmaniyeh, where a flotilla, laden with provisions, baggage, and artillery, awaited them. The Mamelukes, with Amurath Bey at their head, were around the French. The invaders had to fight with enemies who came upon them in detachments, gave a fierce assault, and then fled. As they approached the great Pyramids of Gizeh, they found an enemy more formidable than these scattered bands. Amurath Bey was encamped with twelve thousand Mamelukes and eight thousand mounted Bedouins, on the west bank of the Nile, and opposite Cairo.

The French looked upon the great entrepôt, where the soldiers expected to find the gorgeous palaces and the rich bazaars of which some had read in Galland's Arabian Nights, whose tales they had recounted to their comrades on their dreary march under a burning sun. They had to sustain the attack of Amurath and his Mamelukes, who came upon them with the fury of a tempest. In the East, Bonaparte was ever in his altitudes; and he now pointed to the Pyramids, and exclaimed to his soldiers, "Forty centuries look down upon you." The chief attack of the Mamelukes was upon a square which Desaix commanded. In spite of the desperate courage of this formidable cavalry, the steadiness of the disciplined soldiery of the army of Italy repelled every assault; and after a tremendous loss Amurath Bey retreated toward Upper Egypt. His intrenched camp was forced, amid a fearful carnage. The conquerors had no difficulty in obtaining possession of Cairo.

Ibrahim Bey evacuated the city, which on July 25th Bonaparte entered. His policy now was to conciliate the people instead of oppressing them. He addressed himself to the principal sheiks, and obtained from them a declaration in favor of the French. It went forth with the same authority among the Mussulmans as a brief of the pope addressed to Roman Catholics. In the grand mosque a litany was sung to the glory of "the Favorite of Victory, who at the head of the valiant of the West has destroyed the infantry and the horse of the Mamelukes." A few weeks later "the Favorite of Victory" was seated in the grand mosque at the "Feast of the Prophets," sitting cross-legged[Pg 358] as he repeated the words of the Koran, and edifying the sacred college by his piety.

From the beginning to the end of July, Mr. Pitt was waiting with anxious expectation for news from the Mediterranean. During this suspense he wrote to the Speaker that he "could not be quite sure of keeping any engagement he might make." It was not till September 26th that the English Government knew the actual result of the toils and disappointments to which Nelson had been subjected. When it was known in England that he had been to Egypt and had returned to Sicily, the journalists talked of naval mismanagement; and worn out captains who were hanging about the Admiralty asking for employment marvelled at the rashness of Lord St. Vincent in sending so young a commander upon so great an enterprise.

The Neapolitan Ministry, dreading to offend the French Directory, refused Nelson the supplies of provision and water which he required before he again started in pursuit of the fleet which "Cæsar and his fortune bare at once." Sir William Hamilton was our minister at Naples; his wife was the favorite of the Queen of Naples, and one of the most attractive of the ladies of that luxurious court. Nelson had a slight acquaintance with Lady Hamilton; and upon his representations of the urgent necessity for victualling his fleet, secret instructions were given that he should be supplied with all he required. In 1805 Nelson requested Mr. Rose to urge upon Mr. Pitt the claims of Lady Hamilton upon the national gratitude, because "it was through her interposition, exclusively, he obtained provisions and water for the English ships at Syracuse, in the summer of 1798; by which he was enabled to return to Egypt in quest of the enemy's fleet; to which, therefore, the success of his brilliant action of the Nile was owing, as he must otherwise have gone down to Gibraltar to refit, and the enemy would have escaped."

On July 25th Nelson sailed from Syracuse. It was three days before he gained any intelligence of the French fleet, and he then learned that they had been seen about four weeks before, steering to the southeast from Candia. He was again convinced that their destination was Egypt; and he made all sail for Alexandria. On August 1st he beheld the tricolored flag flying upon its walls. His anxiety was at an end. For a week he[Pg 359] had scarcely taken food or slept. The signal was made for the enemy's fleet; and he now ordered dinner to be served, and when his officers rose to prepare for battle he exclaimed that before the morrow his fate would be a peerage or Westminster Abbey.

The fleet of Admiral Brueys was at anchor in the bay Abukir. The transports and other small vessels were within the harbor. Bonaparte told O'Meara that he had sent an officer from Cairo with peremptory orders that Brueys should enter the harbor, but that the officer was killed by the Arabs on the way. Brueys had taken measures to ascertain the practicability of entering the harbor with his larger ships, and had found that the depth of water was insufficient. He was unwilling to sail away to Corfu—as Bonaparte affirmed that he had ordered him to do if to enter the harbor were impracticable—until he knew that the army was securely established at Cairo. The French Admiral moored his fleet in what he judged the best position; a position described by Nelson himself as "a strong line of battle for defending the entrance of the bay (of shoals), flanked by numerous gunboats, four frigates, and a battery of guns and mortars."

The French ships were placed "at a distance from each other of about a hundred sixty yards, with the van-ship close to a shoal in the northwest, and the whole of the line just outside a four-fathom sand-bank; so that an enemy, it was considered, could not turn either flank." Nelson, with the rapidity of genius, at once grasped this plan of attack. Where there was room for a French ship to swing, there was room for an English ship to anchor. He would place half his ships on the inner side of the French line, and half on the outer side. The number of ships in the two fleets was nearly equal, but four of the French were of larger size. At 3 p.m. the British squadron was approaching the bay, with a manifest intention of giving battle. Admiral Brueys had thought that the attack would be deferred to the next morning. Nelson had no intention of permitting the enemy to weigh anchor and get to sea in the darkness.

By six o'clock Nelson's line was formed, without any precise regard to the succession of the vessels according to established forms. The shoal at the western extremity of the bay was[Pg 360] rounded by eleven of the British squadron. The Goliath led the way, and when her commander, Foley, reached the enemy's van, he steered between the outermost ship and the shoal. The Zealous—Captain Hood—instantly followed. At twenty minutes past six the two van-ships of the French opened their fire upon these vessels, but they were soon disabled. Four other British ships also took their stations inside the French line. Nelson, in the Vanguard, followed by five of his seventy-fours, anchored on the outer side of the enemy. Nine of the French fleet were thus placed between the two fires of eleven of the British ships. The Leander had not been engaged, having been occupied in the endeavor to assist the Culloden, which, coming up after dark, ran aground.

Before the sun went down the shore was crowded with the people of the country gazing upon this terrible conflict. When darkness fell, the flashes of the guns faintly indicated the positions of the contending fleets. Each British ship was ordered to carry four lanterns at her mizzen-peak, and these were lighted at seven o'clock. Each ship also went into action with the white ensign of St. George, of which the red cross in the centre rendered it easily distinguishable in the darkest night at sea. But there was another illumination, more awful than the flashes of two thousand cannon, which was that night to strike unwonted dismay into the bravest of the combatants of either nation. Five of the French ships had surrendered. The Vanguard had been engaged with the Spartiate and the Aquilon. Her loss was severe.

A splinter had struck Nelson on the head, cutting a large piece of the flesh and skin from the forehead, which fell over his remaining eye. He was carried down to the cockpit, and the effusion of blood being very great, his wound was held to be dangerous, if not mortal, by the anxious shipmates around him. He was carried where his men were also carried, without regard to rank, to be tended by the busy surgeons. These left their wounded to bestow their care on the first man of the fleet. "No," said Nelson, "I will take my turn with my brave fellows." Sidney, in the field of Zuetphen, taking the cup of water from his lips to give to the dying soldier, with the memorable words, "This man's necessity is more than mine," was a parallel example[Pg 361] of heroism. The Admiral did wait his turn; and meanwhile, in the belief that his career was ended, called to his chaplain to deliver a last token of affection to his wife. The wound was found to be superficial. He was carried to his cabin, and left alone, amid the din of the battle.

Suddenly the cry was heard that L'Orient, the French flagship of one hundred twenty guns, was on fire. Nelson groped his way to the deck, to the astonishment of the crew, who heard their beloved commander giving his orders that the boats should be lowered to proceed to the help of the burning vessel. The Bellerophon had been overpowered by the weight of metal of L'Orient, and had lost her masts. The Swiftsure had also been engaged with this formidable vessel. Both had maintained an unremitting fire upon the French flagship. Admiral Brueys had fallen, and had died the death of a brave man on his deck. The ship was in flames; at ten o'clock she blew up, the conflagration having lasted for nearly an hour. When the explosion came, there was an awful silence. For ten minutes not a gun was fired on either side. The instinct of self-preservation, as well as the sudden awe on this sublime event, produced this pause in the battle.

Some of the French, endeavoring to get out of the vicinity of the burning wreck, had slipped their cables. The nearest of the English took every precaution to prevent the combustible materials doing them injury. The shock of the explosion shook the Alexander, Swiftsure, and Orion to their kelsons and materially injured them. None of the British ships, however, took fire. About seventy only of the crew of L'Orient were saved by the English boats. The battle was resumed by the French ship, the Franklin; and it went on, at intervals, till daybreak. The contest was sustained by four French line-of-battle ships, and four of the English. Finally, two of the French line-of-battle ships and two frigates escaped. Of thirteen sail of the line, nine were taken, two were burned. Of the British, about nine hundred men were killed and wounded. No accurate account was obtained of the French loss. The estimate which represented that loss at five thousand was evidently exaggerated. About three thousand French prisoners were sent on shore. Kléber, the French general, wrote to Napoleon, "The English have had the disinterestedness to restore everything to their prisoners."[Pg 362]

After the victory of the Nile, Nelson returned to Naples. He required rest; and in the ease and luxury, the flattery and the honors which there awaited him, he forgot his quiet home, and after a time was involved in public acts which reflect discredit upon his previously spotless name. At Palermo, Lord Cochrane had opportunities of conversation with him. He says, "To one of his frequent injunctions, 'Never mind manœuvres, always go at them,' I subsequently had reason to consider myself indebted for successful attacks under apparently difficult circumstances." Cochrane considered Nelson "an embodiment of dashing courage, which would not take much trouble to circumvent an enemy, but being confronted with one would regard victory so much a matter of course as hardly to deem the chance of defeat worth consideration." This opinion is borne out by a letter which Nelson wrote to his old friend, Admiral Locker, from Palermo: "It is you who always said, 'Lay a Frenchman close and you will beat him'; and my only merit in my profession is being a good scholar." Nelson was himself a master who made many good scholars.

M. Thiers, having described the great naval battle of Abukir with tolerable fairness, admits that it was the most disastrous that the French navy had yet experienced—one from which the most fatal military consequences might be apprehended. The news of the disaster caused a momentary despair in the French army. Bonaparte received the intelligence with calmness. "Well," he exclaimed, "we must die here; or go forth, great, as were the ancients." He wrote to Kléber, "We must do great things"; and Kléber replied, "Yes, we must do great things: I prepare my faculties." It would have been fortunate for the fame of Bonaparte, if he had abstained from doing some of "the great things" which he accomplished while he remained in the East.

The victory of Nelson formed the great subject of congratulation in the royal speech, when the session was opened on November 20th. "By this great and brilliant victory, an enterprise of which the injustice, perfidy, and extravagance had fixed the attention of the world, and was peculiarly directed against some of the most valuable interests of the British Empire, has, in the first instance, been turned to the confusion of its authors."


[46] The "Battle of the Baltic," April 2, 1801.—Ed.

[Pg 363]


a.d. 1798


In the advance of medical science no more famous discovery has been made than that of vaccination, that is, inoculation with the modified virus of a disease, thereby causing a mild form of it, in order to prevent a virulent attack. This treatment has in recent years been applied by the use of various serums and antitoxins against different diseases; but, originally and specifically, vaccination, as now understood, is inoculation with cowpox for the prevention of smallpox.

Jenner's work in connection with the modern introduction of this practice is fully described in the following pages. In a more primitive manner inoculation against smallpox was practised many centuries ago in India, China, and other lands. The first modern accounts of it are said to have been given by a Turkish physician in 1714. In England it was first actually employed through the efforts of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, who (1716-1718) had observed it in Constantinople, and there seen her son inoculated. The practice soon spread through Western Europe and to North America.

Jenner's discoveries and demonstrations as to the specific value of the vaccine virus of cowpox, which led to the modern methods of vaccination for prevention of smallpox, proved of such efficacy and importance that the whole credit for this service to medical science has been popularly given to him. But among the intelligent it detracts nothing from his just fame to make due acknowledgment of previous work along similar lines.

There have always been some, since Jenner's time, and are still considerable numbers of people in different countries, strongly opposed to vaccination for smallpox, on the ground of what they deem its unscientific and dangerous nature. But the vast majority of medical practitioners, and of the world at large, are convinced of its vital benefits, and in several countries vaccination is made compulsory by the State.

Edward Jenner was born on May 17, 1749. He was a native of Berkeley in Gloucestershire, England. His father was the vicar of this place, and his mother was descended from an ancient family in Berkshire. In early life Jenner was deprived of his father, and the direction of his education devolved upon an elder brother, the Rev. Stephen Jenner. He attained[Pg 364] a respectable proficiency in the classics, and his taste for natural history manifested an early development; for, at the age of nine, he had made a collection of the nests of the dormouse, and he employed the hours usually devoted by boys to play, in searching for fossils in the neighborhood. "No childish play to him was pleasing."

Intended for the medical profession, Jenner was apprenticed to Daniel Ludlow, of Sodbury, near Bristol, to acquire a knowledge of surgery and pharmacy; and, after the period of his apprenticeship had expired in 1770, he went to London to complete his professional studies, and was a student at St. George's Hospital, and a resident, for two years, in the family of the celebrated John Hunter. The similarity of their tastes and spirit of research will render it a matter of no surprise that he should become a most favorite pupil. That this was the case in an eminent degree the correspondence which was maintained between the two great physiologists sufficiently proves. "There was in both a directness and plainness of conduct, an unquestionable desire of knowledge, and a congenial love of truth."

Jenner was remarkable for the neatness and precision with which he made preparations of anatomy and natural history. His dissection of tender and delicate organs, his success in minute injections, and the taste he displayed in their arrangement are said to have been almost unrivalled. Hunter recommended him to Sir Joseph Banks, to prepare and arrange the various specimens brought home by the celebrated circumnavigator, Captain Cook, in his first voyage of discovery in 1771, and he was solicited to become the naturalist of the succeeding expedition in the year following; but Jenner's partiality to his native soil, and his desire of settling in the place of his birth, were too strong to admit of his being allured into such an appointment. He preferred the seclusion of a country village; and to this selection do we owe one of the greatest blessings ever bestowed upon mankind. It is not unreasonable to suppose that the subject by which he should afterward be known to the whole world, dwelt upon his mind with considerable force even at this early period, for the prophylactic powers of the cowpox were known, or rather rumored of, in a few districts, and the subject had been mentioned by Jenner to Hunter and others, though he had not[Pg 365] been successful in directing their attention sufficiently to the importance of it. Indeed, he pressed this subject so much upon his professional brethren, that, at a medical club at Redborough to which he belonged, he was threatened to be expelled if he persisted in harassing them with a proposition which they then conceived had no foundation but in popular and idle rumor, and which had become so entirely distasteful to them. It remained, therefore, to Jenner to pursue the inquiry and to place the whole matter upon a proper physiological basis, by which it might be rendered permanently beneficial. This inquiry was perfected amid the labors and anxious toils attendant on the life of "a country surgeon," with few books to consult, and little leisure to devote to their perusal. Observation necessarily supplied the place of literary research; the book of nature was open to his view, and it was one he was well calculated to comprehend; it surpassed all others, and its contemplation amply repaid the student.

Of all classes of men with whom it has been the fortune of the writer of this sketch to associate, there is none, in his opinion, so generally and so truly amiable as the naturalists. The contemplation of nature seldom fails to produce an elevation of character; it also begets a sweetness of disposition flowing from a sense of what is beautiful in creation; and the evidences of beneficence, everywhere so abundant, soften the feelings and impart to the individual a sincere benevolence of heart. This disposition was strikingly manifested in Jenner, to whose affection, kindness, meekness, good-will, and benevolence so many have borne the most ample testimony. It was no uncommon thing for Jenner to be accompanied in his daily professional tour of many miles by friends, who have eagerly listened to the outpourings of his mind called forth by the beauties which in the vale of Gloucester surrounded him.

His observations on the structure and economy of the various objects of natural history were delivered with the most captivating simplicity and ingenuity. Full of information himself, he delighted to impart it, and was equally solicitous of obtaining a return from others. He was an enthusiast in his devotion to nature, and he anxiously desired that all should participate in the gratification which such a study never failed to afford. He[Pg 366] united in an especial manner a talent for the most profound observations to a disposition most lively and ardent distinguished by mirth, playfulness, and wit. With these powers, it is not surprising that his society should have been much courted; and, fully engaged as he was by the duties of an extensive practice, he yet found time to cultivate an acquaintance with polite literature. Many little productions of his muse have appeared in print; they were addressed to some of his more favored correspondents, or occasionally read at convivial meetings, and display the turn of his mind, the benevolence of his disposition, and the liveliness of his imagination. His best poetical productions find their subjects in natural history. The Signs of Rain unites the accuracy of the naturalist with the fancy of the poet.

Jenner had nearly passed half a century before he made known to the world his experiments and investigations relative to the vaccine disease. His first successful vaccination was made May 14, 1769. His ardor from an early period had been noticed, and it took its rise from the following accidental circumstance. While a pupil with Mr. Ludlow, a young countrywoman applied for advice. The subject of smallpox was mentioned, upon which she observed, "I cannot take that disease, for I have had the cowpox." This was sufficient to excite the attention of Jenner, and the incident never escaped his recollection. It is easier to conceive than to express the emotions which would naturally spring from reflection on such a subject; his benevolent feelings were at once aroused to full activity; he pictured to himself all the horrors of that pestilential and most loathsome disease, disfiguring Nature's greatest work, slaying thousands upon thousands, and he was yet sufficiently young to recollect the severity of discipline to which he had himself submitted in the process preparatory to the practice of inoculation, which, to use his own words, in that day was no less than that of "bleeding till the blood was thin; purging till the body was wasted to a skeleton; and starving on vegetable diet to keep it so."

The patience manifested by Jenner in the prosecution of his inquiry into the cowpox, the scrutiny to which he subjected every appearance that presented itself, and the fortitude with which he withstood every untoward circumstance entitle him[Pg 367] to all praise and show forth his great capabilities for conducting a philosophical investigation. He divested the subject of all its difficulties and obscurities, and gave to "vague, inapplicable and useless rumor the certainty and precision of scientific knowledge." The extent of his anticipations upon this truly momentous subject do not appear to have been fully stated until 1780, ten years subsequent to his mention of it to John Hunter. He then confidentially disclosed to his intimate friend, Edward Gardner—who gave evidence upon the subject before the committee of the House of Commons—the opinions he entertained upon the natural history of the cowpox; dated its origin from the diseased heel of a horse; alluded to the different diseases with which the hands of the milkers became affected from handling the infected cows; distinguished that which was calculated to afford security against the smallpox; and divulged the hope he entertained of being able finally to eradicate that disease from the face of the globe. Doctor Baron has recorded the remarkable words with which this important communication was made:

"I have intrusted a most important matter to you, which I firmly believe will prove of essential benefit to the human race. I know you, and should not wish what I have stated to be brought into conversation; for should anything untoward turn up in my experiments I should be made, particularly by my medical brethren, the subject of ridicule—for I am the mark they all shoot at."

Jenner's reasons for concealment did not arise from any selfish or unworthy motive. The publicity he had always given to the subject and the efforts he had made among his professional associates to pursue the inquiry exclude the possibility of entertaining such a suspicion. It arose from a dread of disappointment and the fear of failure should the matter be brought forward in a state other than that of a maturity sufficient to carry conviction immediately upon its promulgation. In the course of his researches he was led to conclude that swinepox, as well as cowpox, was only a variety of smallpox. He inoculated his eldest son with the matter of swinepox and produced a disease similar to a very mild smallpox. After this, the inoculation of variolous matter would produce no effect.[Pg 368]

He ascertained that cowpox, as it was commonly termed by the milkers, would frequently fail in effecting a security against the smallpox. This led him to inquire more particularly into the variety of spontaneous eruptions to which the teats of the cow were liable, and to discriminate the different kinds of sores produced by them on the hands of the milkers, and to establish the character of those which possessed a specific power over the constitution, and those which had no such efficacy. He found that instances occurred in which the true cowpox failed in preventing smallpox; but nothing daunted by this apparently fatal discovery he set about ascertaining the causes of this deviation. He found the specific virtues of the virus to have been lost or deteriorated so that it was rendered capable only of producing a local affection and had no influence whatever upon the constitution; and by the greatest ingenuity and patience of observation of the analogies drawn from the virus of smallpox, aided by his knowledge of the laws of the animal economy, he discovered that it was only in a certain state of the vesicle that the virus was capable of affording its protecting agency, and that when taken under other conditions, or at other periods, it could produce a local disease, yet that it was not able to manifest any constitutional effect, or afford immunity from the invasions of the smallpox.

On May 14, 1796, Jenner inserted lymph taken from the hand of Sarah Nelmes who was infected with cowpox, into the arm of James Phipps, a healthy boy about eight years of age. This is the first instance of regular inoculation of the vaccine disease by Jenner. The boy went through the disorder, and on July 1st following he had the matter of smallpox introduced into his arm, but no effect followed. Jenner had not before seen the cowpox but as presented on the hands of the milkers, nor had it been transmitted from one human being to another. He was struck with its great resemblance to the smallpox pustule. The success of this case must necessarily have operated powerfully upon him, and have urged him to continue the research with increased energy.

His anticipations thus realized, his intentions accomplished, what must have been the feelings of such a man as Jenner? They were suited to the magnitude of the occasion, and mark[Pg 369] the character of the philosopher, distinguished as it ever was by great simplicity, benevolence, and humility. "While," says he, "the vaccine discovery was progressive, the joy I felt at the prospect before me of being the instrument destined to take away from the world one of its greatest calamities, blended with the fond hope of enjoying independence and domestic peace and happiness, was often so excessive, that in pursuing my favorite subject among the meadows I have sometimes found myself in a kind of reverie. It is pleasant to me to recollect that these reflections always ended in devout acknowledgments to that Being from whom this and all other mercies flow." Lord Bacon said that "it is Heaven upon earth to have a man's mind move in charity, rest in Providence, and turn upon the poles of truth." Jenner was a striking illustration of the truth of that remark.

The modesty of Jenner was evidenced in his original intention of submitting his observations on the cowpox in a paper addressed to the Royal Society. Doctor Baron tells us that "when the subject was laid before the president (the late Sir Joseph Banks), Jenner was given to understand that he should be cautious and prudent; that he had already gained some credit by his communications to the Royal Society and ought not to risk his reputation by presenting to the learned body anything which appeared so much at variance with established knowledge, and withal so incredible." It came forth most unostentatiously, about the end of June, 1798, dedicated to his friend Doctor Parry of Bath. Doctor Jenner visited London in the month of April of that year, and remained until July 14th. His object in this visit was to demonstrate the disease to his professional friends, but such was the distrust, or apathy, felt on the occasion, that Jenner returned to the country, without having been able to prevail on a single individual to submit to the inoculation of the virus.

The virus Jenner brought to London was consigned to the care of the late Mr. Cline, of St. Thomas's Hospital. This celebrated surgeon inserted some of it, by two punctures, into the hip of a young patient with a disease of that part of the body. This calescent mode of proceeding was adopted with the idea of exciting a counter-irritation in the diseased part. The intention was to convert the vesicles into an issue, after the progress of[Pg 370] the cowpox had been observed. This idea was, however, abandoned. Smallpox matter was afterward inserted into this child in three places. It produced a slight inflammation on the third day, and then subsided. The child was effectually protected against the disease. Mr. Cline now became very sanguine as to the result and inoculated three other children with lymph taken from the vesicles of the child, but no evil effect ensued. The subject began to excite the attention of the profession, and all were eager to put the matter to the test of experiment. Mr. Cline urged Doctor Jenner to settle in London. He promised him ten thousand pounds a year as the result of his practice. What was his reply?

"Shall I, who even in the morning of my days, sought the lowly and sequestered paths of life, the valley, and not the mountain; shall I, now my evening is fast approaching, hold myself up as an object for fortune and for fame? Admitting it as a certainty that I obtain both, what stock should I add to my little fund of happiness? My fortune, with what flows in from my profession, is sufficient to gratify my wishes; indeed, so limited is my ambition, and that of my nearest connections, that even were I precluded from future practice I should be enabled to satisfy all my wants. As for fame, what is it? A gilded butt, forever pierced with the arrows of malignancy."

That a discovery of such importance to mankind, once divulged, should bring forth many claimants, and that its author should be subjected to virulent attacks, is easy to be conceived. Jenner, however, never thought it necessary to reply to unfounded and harsh aspersions, satisfied in the strength of his own case, and feeling the justice and truth of his own claims and position. The practice being now established, it is unnecessary even to refer to the names of the opponents of vaccination. Many mistakes, and some of a serious nature, occurred to interrupt the progress of the discovery; these had been for the most part foreseen by Jenner, and were satisfactorily explained. In a letter to a friend, Jenner says, "I will just drop a hint. The vaccine disease, in my opinion, is not a preventive of the smallpox, but the smallpox itself; that is to say, the horrible form under which the disease appears in its contagious state is, as I conceive, a malignant variety." Again: "What I have said on this vaccine[Pg 371] subject is true. If properly conducted, it secures the constitution as much as variolous inoculation possibly can. It is the smallpox in a purer form than that which has been current among us for twelve centuries past." And, in a letter to Mr. Pruen, "I have ever considered the variola and the vaccine radically and essentially the same. As the inoculation of the former has been known to fail, in instances so numerous, it would be very extraordinary if the latter should always be exempt from failure. It would tend to invalidate my early doctrine on this point."

It is not necessary here to dwell upon the fatality of the smallpox when taken in the natural way, or to show that the mortality has been increased by the practice of inoculation, which creates an atmosphere for the constant propagation of the disease; these have been satisfactorily demonstrated in evidence before the House of Commons, and anyone may readily obtain this information. It is, however, interesting to record the names of those who, abandoning all prejudice and solicitous to promote a general good, submitted to the practice at its earliest period. Mr. Henry Hicks was the first to submit his own children to the vaccination. Lady Frances Morton (Lady Ducie) was the first personage of rank who had her child, and her only child, vaccinated. The Countess of Berkeley was instrumental in forwarding it; and the children of King William IV were vaccinated by Mr. Knight.

Jenner's discovery entailed upon him a most extensive correspondence, and obliged him frequently to travel in London. His professional engagements were not only interrupted, but almost annihilated, and his private fortune encroached upon by such circumstances. His friends urged an application to Parliament. A petition to Parliament was presented on March 17, 1802, and Mr. Addington—later, Lord Sidmouth—informed the House that he had taken the King's pleasure on the contents of the petition and that His Majesty recommended it strongly to the consideration of Parliament. A committee was appointed, of which Admiral Berkeley was the chairman. A great mass of evidence was brought forward, and many professional and other persons examined. The Duke of Clarence gave his testimony, and manifested strongly his conviction of the prophylactic powers of the[Pg 372] vaccine disease. Much opposition was offered to the claims of Jenner. He felt this deeply, and in a letter to his friend Mr. Hicks, dated April 28, 1802, he writes: "I sometimes wish this business had never been brought forward. It makes me feel indignant to reflect that one who has, through a most painful and laborious investigation, brought to light a subject that will add to the happiness of every human being in the world, should appear among his countrymen as a supplicant for the means of obtaining a few comforts for himself and family."

The committee reported, and the House voted ten thousand pounds to Doctor Jenner. An amendment, proposing twenty thousand pounds, was lost by a majority of three! Sir Gilbert Blane, Doctor Lettsom, and others, feeling the utter inadequacy of this reward to the merits of the case, proposed to raise a fund by public subscription; but it was not carried into effect.

The Royal Jennerian Society was established in 1803, and had the King for the patron, the Queen for the patroness, and various members of the royal family and nobility for its supporters. The design of the institution was to vaccinate the poor gratuitously, and supply virus to all parts of the world. It effected great good, and reduced the number of deaths by smallpox in a very remarkable degree. But dissensions sprang up, chiefly through the conduct of the resident inoculator recommending practices contrary to the printed regulations of the society, and it was virtually dissolved in 1806.

Lord Henry Petty—later, Marquis of Lansdowne—was the chancellor of the exchequer in 1806, and on July 2d brought the subject of vaccination again before the House of Parliament. Upon this, the College of Physicians was directed to make inquiry into its state and condition, and a report was made on April 19, 1807. The report was highly satisfactory as to the advantages of the practice. On July 29th the Right Honorable Spencer Perceval,[47] being then chancellor of exchequer, called the attention of the House to it, and moved an additional grant of ten thousand pounds, when an amendment to double the sum was proposed by Mr. Edward Morris, M.P. for Newport, in Cornwall,[Pg 373] and carried by a majority of thirteen. In 1808 the "National Vaccine Establishment" was formed, where the practice of vaccination and the supply of lymph has ever since been continued.

Foreign academies and societies enrolled Doctor Jenner in the lists of their associates, and the medical societies of his own country were not less anxious to adorn their roster with his name. In 1808 he was elected a corresponding member of the National Institute, and in 1811 was chosen an associate, in place of Doctor Mackelyne, deceased. The Empress Dowager of Russia sent him a diamond ring, accompanied by a letter in testimony of her admiration of vaccination. She had the first child vaccinated in Russia named "Vaccinoff," and fixed a pension upon it for life. The Medical Society of London presented him with a gold medal; the Physical Society of Guy's Hospital instituted a new order of members, under the title of "Honorary Associates," and named Jenner for the first; the nobility and gentry of Gloucestershire presented him with a handsome gold cup; and various other marks of consideration were bestowed upon him as testimonies to the benefits he had conferred upon mankind. He was chosen mayor of his native town; received the freedom of the corporation of Dublin; the freedom of the city of Edinburgh; and elected an honorary fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of that city. In 1813 the University of Oxford granted him a degree of Doctor in Physic, by a decree of the convocation. The diploma was presented him by Sir C. Pegge and Doctor Kidd, the professors of anatomy and chemistry. On this occasion—and a similar honor had not been conferred by the university on any man for nearly seventy years before—Doctor Jenner observed, "It is remarkable that I should have been the only one of a long line of ancestors and relations who was not educated at Oxford. They were determined to turn me into the meadows, instead of allowing me to flourish in the groves of Academus. It is better, perhaps, as it is, especially as I have arrived at your highest honors without complying with your ordinary rules of discipline." The conduct of the London College of Physicians, it is painful to remark, was not characterized by such liberality. The majority of the fellows refused to admit him without the usual examination.[Pg 374] Many of the fellows were anxious upon the subject, but their wishes did not prevail.

The commander-in-chief of the army, upon the recommendation of the Army Medical Board and the Lords of the Admiralty, recommended the adoption of vaccination in the army and navy, and the naval physicians and surgeons presented a gold medal to Jenner for his discovery. The practice extended itself through France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Russia, and the United States. In the East, it overcame even the scruples of the Hindu and the Chinese. The writer of this memoir, by the kindness of Sir George Staunton, is in possession of a treatise on vaccination drawn up by Mr. Pearson and translated by Sir George into the Chinese language. It was of great use in encouraging the natives to the adoption of the salutary practice. The King of Prussia submitted his own children to vaccination. He was the first monarch to do so.

On September 13, 1815, Doctor Jenner lost his wife. He retired to Berkeley, and thereafter lived in retirement. He died January 26, 1823, in the seventy-fourth year of his age, and was buried on February 3d in the chancel of the parish church of Berkeley.


[47] Two years later Perceval was premier (1809-1812) and he was assassinated in the lobby of the House of Commons, May 11, 1812.—Ed.

[Pg 377]



a.d. 1775-1799


Events treated at length are here indicated in large type; the numerals following give volume and page.

Separate chronologies of the various nations, and of the careers of famous persons, will be found in the Index Volume, with volume and page references showing where the several events are fully treated.


1775. Burke speaks for conciliation with America; Lord Effingham resigns his military command rather than fight against the colonists of America.

Beginning of the American Revolution: "Battle of Lexington." See xiv, 1.

Fort Ticonderoga and Crown Point surprised by Ethan Allen.

"Battle of Bunker Hill." See xiv, 19.

Washington appointed Commander-in-Chief by the Continental Congress.

Montgomery slain in an attack on Quebec. See "Canada Remains Loyal to England," xiv, 30.

All intercourse between the American colonists and Denmark interdicted by its King, Christian VII.

1776. General Howe evacuates Boston, March 17th. British repulse at Charleston by Colonel Moultrie.

Declaration of Independence adopted by the Continental Congress, July 4th. See "Signing of American Declaration of Independence," xiv, 39.

Battle of Long Island; defeat of the Americans. New York occupied by the British. Howe defeats the Americans at White Plains. Fort Washington taken by the British November 16th. Washington successfully surprises the Hessians at Trenton, December 26th.

Riots in England to destroy machinery.[Pg 378]

Publication in England of the first volume of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

1777. Washington defeats Cornwallis at Princeton, January 3d. The British burn Danbury. Ticonderoga captured by Burgoyne. Battles of Brandywine and Germantown; defeat of the Americans. Lafayette and Steuben arrive in America.

"Defeat of Burgoyne at Saratoga." See xiv, 51.

Division of the Crim Tartars into two distinct parties, the Russian and Turkish.

Execution in England of Dr. Dodd for forgery.

Austria annexes Bukowina.

1778. France recognizes the independence of the United States and forms an alliance with them. Evacuation of Philadelphia by the British. A French fleet and army arrive in America to aid the United States. Savannah captured by the British. Massacre of Wyoming. Congress refuses to treat with the British commissioners.

Beginning of the War of the Bavarian Succession.

Cook discovers the Sandwich (Hawaiian) Islands.

France declares war against England.

1779. Battle of Brier Creek; defeat of the Americans. Stony Point stormed by the Americans under Wayne.

Paul Jones gains a naval victory off the English coast; see "First Victory of the American Navy," xiv, 68.

Repulse by the British of the Americans and French at Savannah.

Spain declares war against England; Gibraltar invested by the French and Spanish fleets.

1780. Siege and capture of Charleston by the British. First Battle of Camden; defeat of the Americans. Treachery of Arnold, who agrees to deliver West Point to the British. Execution of Major André. Victory of the Americans at King's Mountain.

Gordon "No Popery" riots in England.

England declares war against Holland for allowing Paul Jones to take his prizes into her harbors.

Revolt of Tupac Amaru in Peru.

"Joseph II Attempts Reforms in Hungary." See xiv, 85.

1781. Battles of the Cowpens and Guilford Court House; defeat of the British. British victory at Hobkirk's Hill. Eutaw Springs the scene of a drawn battle. Cornwallis surrenders at Yorktown. See "Siege And Surrender of Yorktown," xiv, 97.

Arnold burns New London and captures Fort Griswold.

Completion of the ratification of the Articles of Confederation by the States of the Union.

Continuation of the siege of Gibraltar by the French and Spanish.

Institution of the first Sunday-school at Gloucester, England, by Robert Raikes.

1782. Evacuation by the British of Savannah and Charleston.

A preliminary treaty of peace between the United States and Great[Pg 379] Britain signed by John Adams, Franklin, Jay, and Laurens. See "Close of the American Revolution," xiv, 137.

Great naval victory of the British admiral, Rodney, over the French, in the West Indies.

Tippoo Sahib, in Mysore, succeeds his father, Hyder Ali.

Grattan secures the independence of the Irish Parliament.

"British Defence of Gibraltar." See xiv, 116.

1783. Peace of Paris between the United States and Great Britain.

New York evacuated by the British.

Peace of Versailles between Britain, France, and Spain.

Catharine II seizes the Crimea for Russia.

Many colonists of America settle in Canada on conclusion of the war. See "Settlement of American Loyalists in Canada," xiv, 156.

Perfidious massacre of Tartars by Potemkin, Russian general and first favorite of Catharine II.

A patent granted to Henry Johnson and John Walter of the Times for stereotype or logographic printing.

"First Balloon Ascension." See xiv, 163.

1784. Treaty of peace between England and Holland.

Founding of the first daily newspaper in America, at Philadelphia.

The scandal of the Diamond Necklace in France.

In Ireland the Peep-o'-Day Boys make their appearance.

Iceland for nearly twelve months desolated by an irruption of Hecla.

1785. Negotiations between the United States and Spain for free navigation of the Mississippi.

John Adams, first minister of the United States to England, received by the King.

Establishment of the Philippine Company in Spain.

John Howard, English philanthropist, sets out on his travels to visit the plague hospitals.

La Pérouse, French Admiral, proceeds to explore the Northern Pacific.

1786. A negro colony sent from London to found the settlement of Sierra Leone.

Outbreak of Shay's revolt in Massachusetts.

Impeachment of Warren Hastings, England, for peculation in India.

Galvani makes electrical discoveries.

1787. "Framing of the Constitution of the United States." See xiv, 173.

Civil liberty taught in France by Lafayette and his companions in America, leads to the French Revolution.

Shay's rebellion repressed. Congress undertakes the government of the Northwest Territory.

Wedgwood manufactures his imitations of Etruscan ware.

Swedenborg's New Jerusalem Church founded.

1788. Revolution in the Austrian Netherlands provinces.

Ratification in eleven of the states of the Constitution of the United[Pg 380] States. Founding of Cincinnati. The members of the Society of Friends in Philadelphia emancipate their slaves.

Mental derangement of George III of England. A penal settlement formed by the English in Australia.

Louis XVI of France appoints Necker chief minister. New Assembly of Notables; the Third Estate admitted, numbering one-half.

War against Russia declared by Sweden.

1789. Washington elected President of the United States. The first Congress under the Constitution supersedes the Continental Congress. Inauguration of Washington at New York, April 30. See "Inauguration of Washington: His Farewell Address," xiv, 197.

War in India between the English and Tippoo Sahib.

A Roman Catholic episcopal see erected at Baltimore, the first in the United States.

Battle of Fokshani; defeat of the Turks by the Austrians and Russians.

Meeting of the States-General of France; power is seized by the Third Estate. See "French Revolution: Storming of the Bastille," xiv, 212.

Mutiny of the Bounty, English ship.

1790. Philadelphia becomes the seat of government of the United States. Harmar makes an unsuccessful expedition against the Indians of the Northwest Territory.

First issue of French Assignats.

Declaration of independence by the Belgian provinces; Congress of Brussels convened.

1791. "Establishment of the United States Bank." See xiv, 230.

Vermont admitted into the Union. Defeat of St. Clair by the Miamis.

Passage of the constitutional act of Canada dividing it into Upper and Lower Canada.

Buckle-makers of England petition Parliament against the use of shoe-strings.

Guillotin introduces the machine for decapitation, bearing his name.

"Negro Revolution in Haiti." See xiv, 236.

Flight of the French royal family; they are stopped at Varennes and taken back to Paris. Insurrections in La Vendée and Brittany; massacres at Avignon, Marseilles, and Aix.

A new constitution adopted by the King and Diet of Poland, which gives offence to Catharine of Russia.

Hungary secures constitutional liberties from Leopold II; the rights of Protestants sanctioned.

1792. Washington reëlected President of the United States. The national mint established at Philadelphia. Admission of Kentucky into the Union.

Confiscation of the property of the French Émigrés; a Girondist ministry formed by Louis XVI; he is compelled to declare war against Austria[Pg 381] and Prussia. See "Republican France Defies Europe: Battle of Valmy," xiv, 252.

1793. Congress passes the first fugitive-slave law of the United States. Washington begins his second administration.

"Invention of the Cotton-gin." See xiv, 271.

"Execution of Louis XVI: Murder of Marat: Civil War in France." See xiv, 295.

Toulon retaken by the French from the English; Napoleon Bonaparte commands the French artillery.

Further partition of Poland; the western portion annexed by Prussia; she also seizes Dantzic, a free city; Russia takes the more eastern provinces.

Volta makes known his galvanic battery.

1794. Battle of Maumee Rapids; the power of the Miamis broken by General Wayne. The great Whiskey Insurrection in Pennsylvania. Jay arranges a treaty with Great Britain.

Climax of the Reign of Terror in France; fall and death of Danton; Robespierre and the Jacobin Club both fall. See "The Reign of Terror," xiv, 311.

Victory of the English, under Lord Howe, over the French fleet.

"Downfall of Poland." See xiv, 330.

Trial in England of Hardy, Horne Tooke, and others for constructive high treason.

1795. Sale of the Western Reserve (in Ohio) of Connecticut.

Holland completely conquered by the French; insurrection in Paris by the bourgeois against the Convention; the Constitution of the year 111 adopted; Bonaparte crushes the insurrection of Vendémiaire; government of the Directory.

Formation of the Orange Society in Ireland.

Third partition of Poland.

1796. Tennessee admitted into the Union. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson elected President and Vice-President of the United States. Publication of Washington's Farewell Address.

Bonaparte given command of the French in Italy; Sardinia submits; the Austrians driven from Lombardy; the Cispadane Republic formed. Unsuccessful attempt of the French on Ireland.

"Rise of Napoleon: French Conquest of Italy." See xiv, 339.

Ceylon taken from the Dutch by the English.

Alliance of France with Tippoo Sahib and Spain against England.

1797. Difficulties between the United States and France nearly lead to war.

Suspension of specie payments in England; naval victories of the British, Cape Vincent, over the Spaniards, and of Camperdown, over the Dutch.

1798. Passage in the United States of the Alien and Sedition laws.

"Overthrow of the Mamelukes: The Battle of the Nile." See xiv, 353.[Pg 382]

Imprisonment of the pope and formation of the Roman republic by the French; the Helvetian republic founded by them.

"Jenner Introduces Vaccination." See xiv, 363.

Gas-lights introduced by Watt and Boulton.

1798. English expedition against Holland; capture of the Dutch fleet.

Mysore taken by the English; death of Tippoo Sahib.

Sugar first extracted from the beet-root by Achard.

"The Great Irish Rebellion." See xv, 1.

Count Rumford discovers that heat is a mode of motion.

Greathead, England, invents the lifeboat.

Gradual emancipation of negroes in New York.

1799. Advance into Syria by Napoleon; repulsed from Acre; victorious over the Turks at Abukir; he reëmbarks for France; Kléber left in command in Egypt.

Napoleon, Sieyès, and Fouché effect a change of government in France; military force used; Napoleon first consul.