Page images

length, however, by the advice and request of the French court, two commissioners on the part of Great Britain, Messrs. Fitzherbert and Oswald, and four on the part of the United States, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, John Jay, and Henry Laurens, met at Paris.

4. Here, after consulting long on the subject, they formed what were called Provisional Articles of Peace. These were signed on the 30th of November. On the 20th of January, 1783, it was agreed by the commissioners that all hostilities between the two countries should cease. The news of this was received in the United States on the 24th of the March following.

5. On the 19th of April, precisely eight years after the battle of Lexington, Washington issued a proclamation of peace. There had been no blood shed, however, or almost none, for nearly eight months. A definitive treaty of peace was made and signed at Paris, September 3d, 1783, by which Great Britain acknowledged the independence of the United States.

6. This acknowledgment had been already made by several of the countries of Europe. Sweden had acknowledged it February 5th; Denmark, February 25th; Spain, March 24th; and Russia in July. Treaties of amity and peace were also made between the United States and these several nations.

7. The United States army was kept together till the third day of November. On that day, after suitable preparation had been made, it was disbanded in due form. Washington, in an affectionate address, first bade farewell to his soldiers, and subsequently to his officers. These last, at parting, he took by the hand separately. The formalities of bidding adieu took place at New York.

8. The British do not appear to have left New York till the 25th of the same month, though Charleston and Savannah had been evacuated long before. It may seem a little surprising that the British should remain at New York so long. One reason for the delay was the want of transports for carrying away their military stores and supplies, as well as for conducting to Nova Scotia the refugees who had fled to them from all parts of the country for protection.

9. On the 23d of December, Washington appeared in the hall of Congress at Annapolis, and resigned his commission. The act of resignation was accompanied by a short but affecting speech, in which after recounting briefly the events of the war, he commended his coun、

4. What articles were signed in November? What agreement was made? 5. When was peace proclaimed? What of the treaty signed at Paris? 6. What countries had acknowledged the independence of the United States? 7. Describe the disbanding of the army. 8. How long did the British stay in New York? Why was their stay so pro tracted?


try, and all concerned in the administration of its affairs, to the special protection of Heaven.

10. Congress, in accepting his commission, replied to him through General Mifflin, their president, in a manner expressive of their confidence in his wisdom, and their gratitude for his services. He then left them at Annapolis, and hastened to his family and farm at Mount Vernon, where he hoped to spend the remainder of his days.

[blocks in formation]

Effects of the American Revolution.

1. THUS ended a war of eight years' duration, in which a hundred thousand lives were lost, and hundreds of thousands suffered greatly from wounds, sickness, poverty, or from the losses or sufferings of their friends; and in which, also, hundreds of millions of property were expended. Let us recount the losses and gains.

Hers was

This was,

2. Great Britain, of course, gained nothing by the war. wholly loss. The United States gained their Political Independence— “a name and a place among the nations of the earth." indeed, a great boon, but the war brought with it a long train of evils. Dr. Ramsay, of South Carolina, who wrote a history of the Revolution soon after its occurrence, says as follows:

3. "On the whole, the literary, political, and military talents of the United States have been improved by the Revolution; but their moral character is inferior to what it was. So great is the change for the worse, that the friends of good order are loudly called upon to exert their utmost abilities in extirpating the vicious principles and habits which have taken deep root during the convulsion."

4. Voltaire had said, long before this time: "Put together all the vices of ages, and they will not come up to the mischiefs and enormities of a single campaign." But if this is true of a single campaign, -and who will doubt it?-how much more is it true of a series of campaigns like that of the American revolutionary war!

5. Before the Revolution, and especially before the long and disastrous Indian wars, the people of the United States were an industrious, sober, honest, and religious people. A large proportion of them were

9, 10. Describe the resignation of Washington's commission.

CHAP. CXXXV.-1. What had been the consequences of the war with England? 2 What was the comparative gain of Great Britain and America? Repeat an extract from Dr. Ramsay. 4. What remark does Voltaire make concerning war? 5. What of the United States before the Revolution?

engaged in husbandry or mechanical pursuits. There was comparatively little of useless speculating and downright idleness.

6. An army is always corrupt, and always corrupts the society which holds it in its bosom. If this effect was less visible in the case of the American army, made up as it was, for the most part, of its own citizens, rather than hireling Hessians, yet we must remember that even the American army contained many useless and vicious citizens, and that not all who were virtuous when they enlisted, were so at the period of their discharge.

7. The cause of education suffered greatly during the war. Common schools, instead of being fostered by the government, the church, or the family, as they always had been before, were not only neglected, but in a great many instances absolutely overlooked and suffered to perish. The course of instruction in our colleges was sometimes suspended. Many a student became a soldier.

8. But the worst evil which befell the country was the introduction of irreligion. The Revolution opened the door to infidelity in two ways. First, by introducing foreign fashions, habits, and modes of feeling, thinking, and acting—a practical infidelity; and secondly, by introducing from England and France, but especially the latter, an open opposition to Christianity.


9. The atheistical philosophy of Godwin, Rousseau, Voltaire, and others, was spread in the United States during the Revolution with a fearful rapidity. But there were infidel writers in our own country. Ethan Allen's "Oracles of Reason" had already appeared. Thomas Paine's "Common Sense," written to aid the Revolution, with much truth had inculcate some error, and paved the way for his other and more objectionable writings. The effect of all these evil influences was long felt in the country.

6. What is the usual effect of an army on society? 7-What of education during the war? 8. What was the worst evil that befell the country? 9. What of atheistical phi osophy? What of infidel writers?




Debts of the United States imposed by the Revolution.Discontents of the People.-Shays' Rebellion.

1. THE war had involved the United States in a debt of forty millions of dollars. Of this sum, eight millions were borrowed of foreign powers. The rules of the confederation of 1777 empowered Congress to carry on the war; but they had no power to provide for its expenses. They could only recommend to the several states to raise money for that purpose.

2. Accordingly, on the 30th of May, 1781, Congress passed a resolution requesting the several states to furnish their proportion respectively of the eight millions of dollars of borrowed money. They also appointed a committee to determine what proportion of the money ought to be paid by each state.

3. It was proposed to the states that a duty of four per cent. on all foreign goods imported into the United States should be paid, and that the revenue arising therefrom should be applied to the payment of the national debt, both foreign and domestic. The latter was principally due to the officers and soldiers of the army.

4. All the states, except Rhode Island and New York, assented to this proposal. But as these two states had a large share of the public trade, their refusal to contribute to pay the public debt defeated the whole plan; and the consequence was, that even the interest of the national debt remained unpaid. The government was exceedingly perplexed, and knew not in such a case what to do.

5. Certain measures of Great Britain added to the embarrassment. Instead of permitting a free trade with the colonies in the West Indies, she shut her ports there against our vessels; and Congress, of course, had no power to compel her to open them. And what Congress could not do, the different states were not disposed to attempt, had they possessed the power.

6. Under these embarrassing circumstances, it was perfectly natural for those states which felt desirous of discharging their debts in an honorable manner, to make the utmost exertion to do their part. Massachusetts, in particular, resolved to bear her portion of the public burden, and proceeded to act accordingly.

CHAP. CXXXVI.-1. What debt did the United States owe? Could Congress provide for the expenses of the war? 2. What was done in 1781? 3. What was proposed to the states? 4. Which states objected to the proposal? What effect had their refusal? What added to the perplexity of government? 6. How did the states feel?

7. The country was not, however, in a perfectly settled state. There were some men in Massachusetts who, though they had been willing, in 1776, to go to war with Great Britain rather than submit to taxation without representation, were willing, in 1786, to go to war with the government rather than pay their share of the expenses which the contest with Great Britain had occasioned.

8. On the 22d of August, 1786, delegates from fifty towns in the county of Hampshire met at Hatfield, and set on foot an opposition to the burdens, as they called them, which were lying on the people. The excitement soon spread to Worcester, Middlesex, Bristol, and Berkshire counties. Indeed, it did not stop in Massachusetts-it extended to New Hampshire.

9. In some parts of Massachusetts, tumultuous assemblies, under the specious names of conventions, were assembled, which obstructed the proceedings of courts and other bodies. Daniel Shays, who had been a captain in the revolutionary war, was considered as the head of the insurgents-hence the movement took the name "Shays' Insurrection."

10. In August, no less than fifteen hundred of these insurgents assembled in Northampton. They took possession of the court-house, and would not allow the courts to sit. In December, three hundred of them, under Shays himself, acted a similar farce in Springfield. In truth, the spirit of opposition to taxation was rife everywhere in the states. and seemed to be on the increase.

11. In December, 1786, or early in January, 1787, a body of four thousand men was raised to sustain the courts and suppress the insurrection, and General Lincoln-the same man who had so much distinguished himself in the army of the United States-was appointed to the chief command. The troops were raised for a service of only thirty days.

12. One of the first directions to the new army, was to go to Worcester, and defend the courts there. In this they succeeded. Another object was to defend the arsenal at Springfield. For this last purpose, twelve hundred men, under General Shepard, assembled at Springfield; and, on the 24th of January, Shays, with eleven hundred men, marched against them.

13. When the insurgents were within two hundred and fifty yards of the arsenal, word was sent them not to come any nearer, for if they did they would be fired on. Disregarding this, they advanced one hundred yards further, upon which General Shepard ordered his

7. What new trouble now arose? 8. What was done in 1786? How far did the opposition extend? 9. What of tumultuous assemblies? Who headed the insurrection? 10. What was done in August? In December? 11. Who headed the men raised to suppress the insurrection? 12. What did the army first attempt? What was another object?

« PreviousContinue »