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1781. sensibly, they are less attentive to abuses in the expen
diture: but when they are called upon for taxes and feel the burden of them, they are more watchful to see that they are properly applied, and to prevent the rulers from bribing the people with their own money, and subverting the public liberty by the means put into their hands for securing and defending it.” It will be long before the several states can be prevailed upon to vest congress with the desired power.
Congress on the 6th of February, ordered that the drawing of the fourth and last class of the united states lottery should begin on the 2d of April. Through the amazing depreciation of the paper currency, the whole will turn out a simple piece of business, and disappoint the original hopes both of the fortunate adventurers and
of congress. Feb.
They proceeded by ballot to the election of a superintendant of finance, to examine into the state of the public debts, expenditures, and revenue: to digest and report plans for improving and regulating the finances, and for establishing order and economy in the expenditure of the public money: and to the exercise of many other powers necessary to complete the financier. Robert
Morris esq; of Philadelphia was unanimously elected. 37• They passed a commendatory resolution respecting
capt. John Paul Jones; and further resolved, that Dr. Franklin should acquaint his most Christian majesty, that his majesty's offer of adorning capt. Jones with the cross of military merit was highly acceptable to congress. The finall squadron which the captain commanded in 1779, was fitted out at the expence of his most Christian majesty, who honored him with a French commission.
Mons. de Sartine, the minister of the marine, requested 1781. Dr. Franklin to strengthen the squadron by ordering the Alliance to join it, which was immediately done.
On the 12th of February the Maryland delegates laid before congress an act of their state, empowering them to subscribe and ratify the articles of confederation. The ist of March was afterward fixed upon for their doing it. Maryland having no vacant western territory, contended with great justice, that the unappropriated western country should be the common property of the union, and pledged as a fund for sinking the continental debt; and declined acceding to the confederation till fome satisfaction should be given upon that subject. But congress having recommended it to the states, claiming such country, to remove the only obstacle to a final ratification; and then earnestly requested the legislature of Maryland to empower their delegates, they accordingly did so on the 30th of last January. They concurred in the measure, as well from a desire to perpetuate and strengthen the union, as from a confidence in the justice and generosity of the larger states, and that superior to local interests, they would consent to such arrangements of the unappropriated lands, included in their respective charters, as good policy required, and the great exertions of their own state in the common cause had so highly deserved. When the ift of March was arrived, the New Mar. York delegates, by virtue of the powers with which their legislature had intrusted them, proceeded by an official act in congress to limit and restrict the boundaries of that state, and to relinquish all right, jurisdiction and claim, to all lands to the northward and westward of the fame, to be disposed of as the congress of the confeVol. IV.
1781. derated states should direct. The Maryland delegates
then proceeded to sign and ratify the articles of confederation. This important event has been communicated to the executives of the several states, and the American ministers in Europe have been ordered to notify it to the respective courts at which they reside.
Though a longer delay on the part of Maryland might have been productive of bad consequences, yet there are several members of congress, who are sensible of its having been highly beneficial upon many occasions. As feven states were a majority, whenever that number met it was considered as the representative body of the thirteen ; and if four out of the seven * agreed, it passed for the voice of the United States, even in those cases, which by the confederation required the concurrence of nine states. The want of such concurrence, had the confederation been perfected at a very early date, would have prevented the execution of much business of the highest importance.
Congress resolved—“ That it be, and hereby is, recommended to the several states, to amend their laws making the bills of credit emitted, under the authority of congress, a legal tender, so that such bills shall not be a tender in any other manner than at their current value compared with gold and silver.” The same day they resolved" That the states be immediately called upon to furnish for the public expences, and for carrying on the war, their proportion of one million five hundred
* When congress confirmed the sentence of the court martial on general Lee, it was by a vote of four out of eleven present. See Vol. III. p. 222.
thousand dollars quarterly, the first quarterly payment 1781. to be made on the ist day of June next." Neither of these resolves will be sufficiently productive. This shall close with an extract from a letter of
gen. Washington, written the beginning of April" I give it decisively as my opinion, that without a foreign loan our present force, which is but the remnant of an army, cannot be kept together this campaign, much less will it be increased and in readiness for another. If France delays a timely and powerful aid in the critical posture of our affairs, it will avail us nothing should she attempt it hereafter. We are at this hour suspended in the balance! 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.In a word, we are at the end of our tether, and now or never our deliverance must come.”
L E T T E R III.
Rotterdam, May 5, 1781.
S soon as the rupture between Great Britain and
Holland was known at Versailles, the king gavę immediate orders that all the Dutch vessels in any of the French ports should be made acquainted with it ; and
5781. accordingly a circular letter was written by the marquis
de Castries on the 25th of last December, and sent to
belonging to the states general, by the Warwick, capt.
Elphinstone, on the 5th of January.
On the oth the Dutch council of state proposed, that the marine of the republic should consist of 94 ships and armed vessels, and 18,430 seamen. There were to be 11 ships of the line, 15 of 50 guns and 2 of 40. Three days after, the states general published a placart, granting letters of marque against the British. This was followed after a time by an answer to the British manifesto.
Notwithstanding the necessary increase of national expences in Great Britain by the Dutch war, yet toward the end of January, the house of commons hearkened to the calls of humanity, and in consequence of different petitions, voted for the relief of the sufferers by the hurricane at Barbadoes 80,000l. and at Jamaica 40,000l.
A fecond attempt has been made on the Ine of Jersey. The baron de Rullecourt, at the head of about 2000 men, conducted it. By the badness of the weather near half his troops were driven back to France, and never joined hiin. He at length however made his way with difficulty, through the rocks of la Roque-Platte; and landed a number in the dark, three miles from St. Helier, the capital of the island ; though five vessels were lost, and 200 of his men perished. A small party of militia, meant for the guard of a redoubt in the place, were seized asleep by the enemy, who were thus, for several hours, on the island without an alarm's being 5