Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Upon this principle the first settlers conceived they
had a right to exchange and sell the produce of their labour
to all nations without control. This right they actually
enjoyed unquestioned, until the year 1652. Then it was
that the English, in violation of every principle of justice,
usurped and established a monopoly of the American com-
merce, which they maintained until the vigour of their
domination compelled the Americans to reclaim their an-
cient and unalienable rights, by declaring themselves free
and independent states. In consequence of this, all na-
tions are now restored to a participation of that com-
merce, from which the monopolizing spirit of the English
had unjustly excluded them.

No nation is more interested in this event than the
Dutch; because it was against them the establishment
of the monopoly was chiefly intended. The great object
of commercial policy with Holland was the carrying
trade. When the commerce of America was free, the
number of Dutch vessels in the American ports exceeded
those of England. But in the year 1651 a quarrel arose
between the states of Holland and the then republic of
England. The English, jealous of their naval power,
resolved to destroy that American commerce which con-
tributed so much to the support of the naval strength of
Holland. To effect this, the council of state projected
and passed on the Ist Dec. 1651 the Navigation Ordinance;
by which the carriage of American produce was prohi-
bited, except in English bottoms. The Dutch saw the
intention and felt the effects of this measure.
sentment of it added fuel to the war that raged from
that time until the year 1654 with so much fury. Their
success however was not sufficient to re-establish what
had thus been wrested from them. In negotiating the
peace which concluded that war, De Witt laboured with
his usual abilities to obtain an abolition of that act, but
all bis efforts were ineffectual. Cromwell, who was not
his inferior in acuteness, maintained the navigation act,
and under Charles II. it received the form and sanction
of an act of the parliament. Thus in despite of all
their efforts, this valuable branch of commerce was wrest-
ed from the Dutch, and monopolized by the English.

the ey 13 she

are

Their re

$

But what neither the uncommon talents of De Witt nor the struggles of an obstinate war could effect, the course of human events has produced. The wealth and power arising from this very monopoly so intoxicated Great Britain, as to make her think that there were no bounds to the exercise of the control she had usurped. Not content therefore with thus restraining the Americans for her own emolument in the mode of acquiring money, she arrogated to herself the right of taking that which was obtained under those restraints. The natural consequence of thus urging her domination, and adding a new usurpation to the former, was the abolition of the whole. America has in form renounced her connexion with Great Britain, and is maintaining her rights by arms.

The consequence of her success will be the re-establishment of commerce upon its ancient free and general policy. All nations are interested in this success; but none so much as the Dutch. From them therefore, America in a most special manner looks for support. Resentment of an ancient injury, the policy of their ancestors, and all their present interests, unite in calling upon them for a spirited avowal and support of the independence of America. They will not forget the blood that was spilt in endeavouring to vindicate their rights when first invaded. They will not forget the insolence and injustice with which Great Britain harassed their trade during the late war, by means of that very naval strength which she derived from their monopoly. They cannot but feel at this moment the insult and indignity from the British court, in presuming to forbid them that free participation of commerce which America offers.

The extraordinary remittances which the people of America have made to the merchants of Great Britain since the commencement of this dispute, is a proof of their honour and good faith; so much more safe and advantageous is it to trust money with a young, and industrious, and thriving people, than with an old nation, overwhelmed in debt, abandoned to extravagance, and immersed in luxury. By maintaining the independence of America a new avenue will be opened for the employ

itt the and ted

DO Not for she

ment of money; where landed property as yet untouched by mortgage or other incumbrance, will answer for the principal

, and the industry of a young and uninvolved people would ensure a regular payment of interest. The money

holder would in that case be delivered from those continual fears and apprehensions, which every agitation of the English stocks perpetually excite. He might count his profits without anxiety, and plan his monied transactions with certainty. These are the substantial objects of advantage which America holds up to the people of Holland ; and this is the moment of embracing them."

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

In a long and interesting letter to the committee of correspondence, written subsequently to his letter to Mons. Dumas, Mr. Lee informed them that he had procured the publication in Holland of a memoire he had prepared for the purpose of attracting the attention of the court and public of that country to the affairs of the United States, and that a well informed friend at the Hague had expressed to him an opinion “ that it would have a very good effect.” His friend, Mons. Dumas, added to the preceding memoire some appropriate and well timed reflections, for which Mr. Lee thus thanks him.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

“ CHAILLOT, June 4th, 1778. Mons. Dumas.

Dear Sir,-It gave me great pleasure to receive the key to the treasure you sent us before in Dutch, my unacquaintance with which prevented me from knowing how much I was obliged to you for the improvements made on the little essay I had the honour of sending you. Felix, faustumque sit.' May it open the eyes of your people to their own interest, before an universal bankruptcy in England and a compelled frugality in America have deprived them of the golden opportunity of extricating themselves from bad debtors, and connecting themselves with good ones.

So fair an opportunity of sharing in the most valuable commerce on the globe will never again present itself;

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

and indeed they are greatly indebted to the noble and disinterested principles of France, which prevented this country from attempting to possess itself of the monopoly which Great Britain had forfeited. In truth they were great and wise principles, and the connexion formed upon

them will be durable. France and the rest of Europe can never pay too large a tribute of praise to the wisdom of the most Christian king and his ministers in this transaction.

You are happy in having the esteem and counsel of the Grand Facteur, who seems to have equal sense and good intentions. Our enemies seem embarrassed in their operations, as is generally the case with the weak and the wicked. As far as we can learn their fleet has not yet sailed for America, to save the Howes from the fate that hangs over them. We have no intelligence on which we can rely.

I have the honour to be dear sir, with the greatest respect, your friend and servant, ARTHUR LEE."

On the 8th of April 1778, John Adams, Esq. arrived in Paris. He had been appointed a joint commissioner to France, in the room of Mr. Deane. With this gentleman Mr. Lee had enjoyed previously no personal acquaintance; but their characters and their patriotic and essential services to their common country had been long known to each of them. A personal friendship immediately ensued, and continued during the life of Mr. Lee. The interesting letters of John Adams to him, written during his missions to Holland and England at a highly important period, will be read with earnestness and pleasure by every intelligent reader. They will be found in the Appendix, No. 9.

In the early part of the year 1778, as the reader has learned from history, the British parliament, by the advice of the ministry, who had foreseen the probability and consequences of a treaty of commerce and alliance between France and the United States, authorized commissioners who were named in the act, appointing them to make pacific propositions to the congress. The ministry

ind Chis 710 hey rm

of the sin

at the same time despatched a private agent, a gentleman of much respectability, to Paris, for the purposes of watching the proceedings of the court of France, and of sounding our commissioners on the subject of a reconciliation with England. The following notes of Count Vergennes and Mr. Lee will give the reader some idea of the artful efforts made to obstruct the treaty with France. They will at the same time illustrate the mutual confidence and good faith which existed between the able and amiable Vergennes and our commissioners.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

“ CHAILLOT, April 24th, 1778. Sir.-Since I had the honour of seeing your excellency I have learnt that Mr. Hartley in conversing with French people whose opinions he thinks may have weight, insinuates to them, that engaging in a war in our favour is very impolitic, since you can expect nothing from us but the ingratitude and ill faith, with which we have repaid Great Britain. To us, he says, the French have done nothing for you,

they can never be trusted ; no cordial connexion can be formed with them, therefore you had better return back to your former connexion, which may be upon your own terms if you will renounce France. This

gentleman and the wise men who sent him have so high an opinion of our understandings, that they flatter themselves these insinuations will succeed.

I have also been informed that besides their commissioners, the ministry have despatched two persons to America to work privately as Mr. Hartley is doing. One of them is an American ; I know them, and both the size of their understanding and the degree of their influence. There is nothing to apprehend from either. These are the little projects of little spirits, and will be attended with proportional success. They show the imbecility and distress of our enemies, and will only change the detestation of America into utter contempt.

I have the honour to be, with great respect, your excellency's most obedient and most humble servant,

ARTHUR LEE. His excellency Count de Vergennes.

di

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

10 I

« ForrigeFortsæt »