Letter from Henry Laurens to Horatio Gates (1778)

No study questions

York, June 17, 1778

Dear Sir—

I troubled you with a few private Lines on the 13th by Crugier.

Congress have not determined their answer to the British Commissioners Address, although I foresee it will be a very short on—when that is finished the whole will probably be published, in the mean time I consider Sir your situation .& distance from the Center of intelligence & conclude that the following brief account of the Address will not be unacceptable.

There is rather a repletion in the direction of the Paper leaving no room for cavil on that score.

The Commissioners after the necessary preface observe “That in the present state of our affairs tho’ fraught with subjects of mutual regret all parties may derive some consolation & even auspicious hope from recollecting that cordial reconciliation & affection have in our own & other Empires succeeded to contention & temporary division not less violent than those we now experience.

they wish not to recall subjects now no longer in controversy, observe that the Acts of Parliament which they transmit & refer to, passed with singular Unanimity.

they are willing to consent to a cessation of hostilities by Sea & Land.

to extend every freedom of Trade that our respective Interests can require. (who is to adjust this point) to agree
that no Military forces shall be kept up in the States without our Consent.

to concur in measures calculated to discharge the debts of America & to raise the Credit & Value of the Paper circulation. to perpetuate our Union by a reciprocal Deputation in Parliament & in the several General Assemblies.

In short to establish the Power of the Respective Legislatures in each particular State, to settle its revenues its Civil & Military establishment & exercise a perfect freedom of Legislation & internal Government so that the British States throughout North America acting with us in Peace & War tinder one common Sovereign may have the irrevocable enjoyment of every privilege that is short of a total seperation of Interests or consistent with that Union of force on which the safety of our common Religion & Liberty depends—”

The French Court are illiberally charged with insidious practices—this gives much offence—

If all the fine things now offered had been tendered some time ago, admitting their solidity, there can be no doubt but that the People of America would joyfully have embraced the proposition—but now what answer can be given but that which was returned to the foolish Virgins—”the Door is shut” more, especially when we reflect that there is no solidity—because all is to be transmitted to Parliament for Ratification “And until such Ratification no such regulation matter or thing shall have any other force or effect or be carried further into Execution than is hereafter mentioned” here’s a Boy’s Card House tumbled down by a Breath—

“If,” say Lord Carlisle, Willm. Eden & Geo Johnstone Esquires, “after the time that may be necessary to consider this communication. & transmit your answer the horrors & devastations of War should continue We call God & the World to Witness that the Evils which must follow are not to be imputed to Great Britain”—to whom are the past to be imputed? but are they not now in the very moment of pretended attempts to establish Peace burning ravaging & murdering?

they seem, to mistake our understanding as once they did our Resolution—

Colonel Malcom waits I must stop short & assure you I am with great Esteem Dear Sir Your obliged & hum servt

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