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In this view, our taxes are properly our insurance-money ;
they are what we pay to be made safe, and in strict policy
are'the best money we can lay out.

It was my intention to offer some remarks on the impost
law of five per cent, recommended by Congress, and to be
established as a fund for the payment of the loan-office cer-
tificates and other debts of the United States ; but I have
already extended my piece beyond my intention. And as
this fund will make our System of Finance complete, and is
strictly just, and consequently requires nothing but honesty
to do it, there needs but little to be said upon it.

COMMON SENSE.
Philadelphia, March i 5, 1782.



THE

AMERICAN CRISIS

No. XI.



ON THE PRESENT STATE OF NEWS.

Philadelphia, May 22, 1782.

SINCE the arrival of two, if not three packets, in quick
succession at New York, from England, a variety of uncon-
nected news has circulated through the country, and afforded
as great a variety of speculations.

That something is the matter in the cabinet and councils
of our enemies, on the other side of the water, is certain
that they have run their length of madness, and are under
the necessity of changing their measures, may easily be
seen into ; but to what this change of measures may amount,
or how far it may correspond with our interest, happiness,
and duty, is yet uncertain ; and from what we have hitherto
experienced, we have too much reason to suspect them in
every thing.

I do not address this publication so much to the People
of America as to the British Ministry, whoever they may
be, for if it is their intention to promote any kind of riego-
ciation, it is proper they should know beforehand, that the
United States have as much honour as bravery ; and that
they are no more to be seduced from their alliance than
their allegiance ; that their line of politics is formed, and
not dependent, like that of their enemy, on chance and
accident.

On our part, in order to know, at any time, what the
British Government will do, we have only to find out what
they ought not to do, and this last will be their conduct.
For ever changing and for ever wrong ; too distant from
America to improve circumstances, and too unwise to fore-
V.<J them; scheming without. principle, and executing with-



158 .AMERICAN CRISIS.

out probability, their whole line of management has hitherto
been blunder and baseness. Every campaign has added to
their loss, and every year to their disgrace ; till unable to
go on, and ashamed to go back, their politics have come to
a halt, and all their fine prospects to a halter.

Could our affections forgive, or humanity forget, the
wounds of an injured country We might, under the influ-
ence of a momentary oblivion, stand still arid laugh. But
they are engraven where no amusement can conceal them,
and of a kind for which there is no recompence. Can ye
restore to us the beloved dead ? Can ye say to the grave,
Give up the murdered? Can ye obliterate from our memo-
ries those who are no more? Think not then to tamper
with our feelings by insidious contrivance, nor suffocate our
humanity by seducing us to dishonour.

In March 1780, I published part of the Crisis, No. VIII.
in the newspapers, but did not conclude it in the following
papers, and the remainder has lain by me till the present
day.

There appeared about that time some disposition in the
British Cabinet to cease the further prosecution of the war,
and as I had formed my opinion, that whenever such a
design should take place, it would be accompanied with a
dishonourable proposition to America, respecting France, I
had suppressed the remainder of that number, hot to expose
the baseness of any such proposition. But the arrival of the
next news from England, declared her determination to go
on with the war, and consequently as the political object I
had then in view was not become a subject* it Was unne-
cessary in me to bring it forward, which is the reason it was
krever published.

The matter which I allude to in the unpublished part I
shall now make a quotation of, and apply it as the more
enlarged state of things, at this day, shall make convenient
or necessary.

It was as follows :

" By the speeches which have appeared from the British
Parliament, it is easy to perceive to what impolitic and im-
prudent excesses their passions and prejudices have, in every
instance, carried them, during the present war. Provoked
at the upright and honourable Treaty between America and.
France, they imagined nothing more was necessary to be
done to prevent its final ratification, than to promise,
through the agency of their Commissioners (Carlisle, Eden,
and Johnson,) a repeal of tteir oiice offensive -Acts-<tf



AM&KIUAN CRISIS, 159

Parliament. The vanity of the conceit was a* unpardonable
as the experiment was impolitic. And so convinced am 1
of their wrong ideas of America, that I shall not wonder, if
in their last stage of political phrenzy, they propose to her
to break her alliance with France, and enter into one with
them. Such a proposition, should it ever be made, and it
has already been more than once hinted in Parliament,
would discover such a disposition to perfidiousness, and
such disregard of honour and morals, as would add the
finishing vice to national corruption. 1 do not mention
this to put America on the watch, but to put England oa
her guard, that she do not, in the looseness of her heart,
envelope in disgrace every fragment of reputation." Thus
far the quotation.

By the complexion of some part of the news which has
transpired through the New York papers, it seems proba-
ble that this insidious era in the British politics is beginning
to make its appearance. 1 wish it may not ; for that which
is a disgrace to human nature, throws something of a shade
over all the human character, and the individual feels his
share of the wound that is given to the whole.

The policy of Britain has ever been to divide America in
some way or other. In the beginning of the dispute, she
practised every art to prevent or destroy the union of the
States, well knowing that could she once get them to stand
singly, she could conquer them unconditionally. Failing in
this project in America, she renewed it in Europe ; and after
the alliance had taken place, she made secret offers to France
to induce her to give up America, and what is still more
extraordinary, she at the same time made propositions to
Dr. Franklin, then in Paris, the very Court to which she was
secretly applying, to draw off America from France. But
this is not all.

On the 14th of September, 1778, the British Court,
through their Secretary, Lord W.ey mouth, made application
to the Marquis D'Almadovar, the Spanish Ambassador at
London, to " ask the MEDIATION," for these were the
words of the Court of Spain, for the purpose of negotiating
a peace with France, leaving America (as I shall hereafter
shew) out of the question. Spain readily offered a media-
tion, and likewise the city of Madrid as the place of con-
ference, but, withal, proposed that the United States of
America should be invited to the Treaty, and considered as
independent during the time the business was negociating.
But this was not the view of England. She wanted to draw



160 AMERICAN CRISIS.

France from the war, that she might uninterruptedly pour
out all her force and fury upon America ; and being disap-
pointed in this plan, as well through the open and generous
conduct of Spain, as the determination of France, she re-
fused the mediation she had solicited .

I shall now give some extracts from the justifying Memo-
rial of the Spanish Court, in which she has set the conduct
and character of Britain, with respect to America, in a clear
and striking point of light.

The Memorial, speaking of the refusal of the British
Court to meet in Conference, with Commissioners from the
United States, who were to be considered as independent
during the Conference, says,

"It is a thing very extraordinary and even ridiculous,
that the Court of London, who treat the Colonies as inde-
pendent, not only in acting, but of right, during the war,
should have a repugnance to treat them as such only in act-
ing during a truce of suspension of hostilities. The con-
vention of Saratoga; the reputing General Burgoyne as a
lawful prisoner, in order to suspend his trial; the exchange
and liberating other prisoners made from the Colonies; the
having named commissioners to go and supplicate the Ame-
ricans, at their own doors, request peace of them, and treat
with them and the Congress; and finally, by a thousand
other acts of this sort, authorised by the Court of London,
which have been, and are true signs of the acknowledgment
of their independence.

" In aggravation to all the foregoing, at the same time
the British Cabinet answered the King of Spain in the terms
already mentioned ; they were insinuating themselves at the
Court of France by means of secret emissaries, and making
very great offers to her to abandon the Colonies and make
peace with England. But there is yet more; for at this
same time the English Ministry were treating by means of
another certain emissary with Doctor Franklin, Minister
Plenipotentiary from the Colonies, residing at Paris, to whom
they made various proposals to disunite them from France,
and accommodate matters with England.

" From what has been observed, it evidently follows, that
the whole of the British Politics, was to disunite the two
Courts of Paris and Madrid, by means of the suggestions
and offers she repeatedly made to them ; and also to sepa-
rate the Colonies from their treaties and engagements entered
jnto with France, and induce them to arm against the
House of Bourbon, or JV1OR& PROBABLY TO OPPRESS



AMERICAN CRISIS. 161

THEM WHEN THEY FOUND FROM BREAKING
THEIR ENGAGEMENTS, THEY STOOD ALONE
AND WITHOUT PROTECTORS.

" This, therefore, is the net they laid for the American
States ; that is to say, to tempt them with flattering and
very magnificent promises to come to an accommodation
with them, exclusive of any intervention of Spain or France,
(hat the British Ministry might always remain the Arbiters
of the fate of the Colonies.

" But the Catholic King (the King of Spain) faithful on
the one part to the engagements which bind him to the
most Christian King (the King of France) his nephew ; just
and upright on the other, to his own subjects, whom he
ought to protect and guard against so many insults ; and
finally, full of humanity and compassion for the Americans
and other individuals who suffer in the present war : he is
determined to pursue and prosecute it, and to make all the
efforts in his power, until he can obtain a solid and perma-
nent peace, with full and satisfactory securities that it shall
be observed."

Thus far the Memorial ; a translation of which into Eng-
lish, may be seen in full, under the head of STATE PAPERS,
in the Annual Register for 1779, page 367.

The extracts 1 have here given serve to shew the various
endeavours and contrivances of the enemy to draw France
from her connection with America, and to prevail on her to
make a separate peace with England, leaving America to-
tally out of the question, and at the mercy of a merciless,
unprincipled enemy. The opinion, likewise, which Spain
has formed of the British Cabinet's character, for meanness
and perfidiousness, is so exactly the opinion of America,
respecting it, that the Memorial, in this instance, contains
our own sentiments and language; for people, however re-
mote, who think alike, will unavoidably speak alike.

Thus we see the insidious use which Britain endeavoured
to make of the propositions for peace under the mediation
of Spain. I shall now proceed to the second proposition
under the mediation of the Emperor of Germany and the
Empress of Russia ; the general outline of which was, that
a Congress of the several powers at war should meet at
Vienna, in 1781, to settle preliminaries of peace.

I could wish myself at liberty to make use of all the in-
formation I am possessed, of on this subject, but as there is
a delicacy in the matter, 1 do not conceive it prudent, at
at present, to make references and quotations in the



162 AMERICAN CRISIS.

same manner as I have done with respect to the mediation
of Spain, who published the whole proceedings herself, and
therefore what comes from me on this part of the business
must rest on my own credit with the public, assuring them,
that when the whole proceedings, relative to the proposed
Congress at Vienna, shall appear, they shall find my account
not only true, but studiously moderate.

We know that at the time this mediation was on the car-
pet, the expectations of the British King and Ministry ran
high with respect to the conquest of America. The Eng-
lish packet which was taken with the mail on board, and
carried into L'Orient in France, contained letters from Lord
G. Germaine to Sir Henry Clinton, which expressed in the
fullest terms the ministerial idea of a total conquest. Copies
of those letters were sent to Congress and published in the
newspapers of last year. Colonel Laurens brought over the
originals, some of which, signed in the hand-writing of the
then secretary, Germaine, are now in my possession.

Filled with these high ideas, nothing could be more inso-
lent towards America than the language of the British Court
on the proposed mediation. A peace with France and Spain
she anxiously solicited ; but America, as before, should be
left to her mercy, neither would she hear any proposition
for admitting an agent from the United States into the Con-
gress of Vienna.

On the other hand, France, with an open, noble, and
manly determination, and the fidelity of a good ally, would
hear no proposition for a separate peace, nor even meet in
Congress at Vienna, without an agent from America: and
likewise, that the independent character of the United
States, represented by the agent, should be fully and une-
quivocally defined and settled before any conference should
be entered on. The reasoning of the Court of France on
the several propositions of the two Imperial Courts, which
relate to us, is rather in the style of an American than an
ally, and she advocated the cause of America as if she had
been America herself. Thus the second mediation, like the
first, proved ineffectual.

But since that time a reverse of fortune has overtaken the
British arms, and all their high expectations are dashed to
the ground. The noble exertions to the southward, under
General Greene; the successful operations of the Allied
Arms in the Chesapeake ; the loss of most of their islands in
the West Indies, and Minorca in the Mediterranean; the
persevering spirit of Spain against Gibraltar ; the expected



AMERICAN CRISIS. 163

capture of Jamaica; the failure of making a separate peace
with Holland, and the expence of an hundred millions
sterling, by which all these fine losses were obtained, have
read them a loud lesson of disgraceful misfortune, and ne-
cessity has called on them to change their ground.

In this situation of confusion and despair, their present
councils have no fixed character. It is now the hurricane
months of British politics. Every day seems to have a
storm of its own, and they are scudding under the bare
poles of hope. Beaten, but not humble; condemned, but
not penitent, they act like men trembling at fate and
catching at a straw. From this convulsion in the entrails
of their politics, it is more than probable, that the moun-
tain groaning in labour will bring forth a mouse as to its
size, and a monster as to its make. They will try on
America the same insidious arts they tried OH France and
Spain.

We sometimes experience sensations to which language is
not equal. The conception is too bulky to be born alive,
mid in the torture of thinking we stand dumb. Our feel-
ings imprisoned by their magnitude, find no way out arid,
ID the struggle of expression, every finger tries to be a
tongue. The machinery of the body seems too little for
the mind, and we look about for helps to shew our thoughts
by. Such must be the sensations of America, whenever
Britain, teeming with corruption, shall propose to her to
sacrifice her faith.

But, exclusive of the wickedness, there is a personal of-
fence contained in every such attempt. It is calling us
villains -; for no man asks another to act the villain unless
he believes him inclined to be one. No man attempts to
seduce a truly honest woman. It is the supposed loose-
ness of her mind that starts the thoughts of seduction, and
he who offers it calls her a prostitute. Our pride is always
hurt by the same propositions which offend our principles;
for when we are shocked at the crime, we are wounded by
the suspicion of our compliance.

Could I convey a thought that might serve to regulate
the public mind, I would not make the interest of the
"alliance the basis of defending it. All the world are moved
by interest, and it affords them nothing to boast of. But I
Avould go a, step higher, and defend it on the ground of
honour and principle. That our public affairs have flourish-
ed under the alliance that it was wisely made, and has



164 AMERICAN CRISIS.

been nobly executed that by its assistance we are enabled
to preserve our country from conquest, and expel those who
sought our destruction that it is our true interest to main-
tain it unimpaired, arid that while we do so, no enemy can
conquer us; are matters which experience has taught us,
and the common good of ourselves, abstracted from prin-
ciples of faith and honour, would lead us to maintain the
connection.

But over and above the mere letter of the alliance, we
have been nobly and generously treated, and have had the
same respect and attention paid us as if we had been an
old established country. To oblige and be obliged is fair
work among mankind, and we want an opportunity of
shewing the world that we are a people sensible of kindness
and worthy of confidence. Character is to us, in our pre-
sent circumstances, of more importance than interest. We
are a young nation, just stepping upon the stage of public
life, and the eye of the world is upon us to see how we act.
We have an enemy that is watching to destroy our reputa-
tion, and who will go any length to gain some evidence
against us that may serve to render our conduct suspected,
and our character odious: because, could she accomplish
this, wicked as it is, the world would withdraw from us, as
from a people not to be trusted, and our task would then
become difficult.

There is nothing sets the character of a nation in a
higher or lower light with others, than the faithfully ful-
filling, or perfidiously breaking of treaties. They are things
not to be tampered with ; and should Britain, which seems
very probable, propose to reduce America into such an act
of baseness, it would merit from her some mark of unusual
detestation. It is one of those extraordinary instances in
which we ought not to be contented with the bare negative
cf Congress, because it is an affront on the multitude as
well as on the Government, It goes on the supposition that
the public are not honest men, and that they may be managed
by contrivance, though they cannot be conquered by arms.
But, let the world and Britain know, that we are neither to
be bought nor sold. That our mind is great and fixed ; our
prospect clear; and that we will support our character
as firmly as our independence.

But I will go still farther : General Conway, who made the
motion in the British Parliament, for discontinuing offensive
*v.ar in America, is a gentleman of an amiable character.



AMERICAN CRISIS. 165

We have no personal quarrel with him. But he feels not
as we feel ; he is not in our situation, and that alone, with-
out any other explanation, is enough.

The British Parliament suppose they have many friends
in America, and that when all chance of "conquest is over,
they will be able to draw her from her alliance with France.
Now, if I have any conception of the human heart, they
will fail in this more than in any thing they have yet tried.

This part of the business is not a question of policy only,
but of honour and honesty ; and the proposition will have in
it something so visibly low and base, that their partizans, if
they have any, will be ashamed of it. Men are often hurt
at a mean action who are not startled at a wicked one, and
this will be such a confession of inability, such a declaration
of servile thinking, that the scandal of it will ruin all their
hopes.

In short, we have nothing to do but to go on with vigour
and determination. The enemy is yet in our country.
They hold New York, Charlestown, and Savannah, and the
very being in those places is an offence, and a part of offen-
sive war, and until they can be driven from them, or cap-
tured in them, it would be folly in us to listen to an idle tale.
I take it for granted that the British Ministry are sinking
under the impossibility of carrying on the war. Let them,
then, come to a fair and open peace with France, Spain,
Holland, and America, in the manner they ought to do ; but
until then we can have nothing to say to them.

COMMON SENSE.



A

SUPERNUMERARY CRISIS.



TO SIR GUY CARLETON.

IT is the nature of compassion to associate with
tune ; and 1 address this to you in behalf even of an enemy, a
captain in the British service, now on his way to the bead
quarters of the American army, and unfortunately doomed
to death for a crime not his own. A sentence so extraordi-
nary, an execution so repugnant to every human sensation,
ought never to be told without the circumstances which pro-
duced it: and as the destined victim is yet in existence, and
in your hands rests his life or death, I shall briefly state the
case, and the melancholy consequence.

Captain Huddy of the Jersey Militia, was attacked in ft
small fort on Tom's River, by a party of refugees in the
British pay and service, was made prisoner together with
his company, carried to New York and lodged in the Pro-
vost of that city ; about three weeks after which, he was
taken out of the Provost down to the water-side, put into a
boat and brought again upon the Jersey shore, and there,
contrary to the practice of all nations, but savages, was hung
upon a tree, and left hanging till found by our people, who
took him down and buried him.

The inhabitants of that part of the country where the
murder was committed, sent a deputation to General Wash-
ington with a full and certified statement of the fact.
Struck, as every human breast must be, with such brutish
outrage, and determined both to punish and prevent it for
the future, the General represented the case to General
Clinton, who then commanded, and demanded that the re-
fugee officer who ordered and attended the execution, and
whose name is Lippincut, should be delivered up as a mur-
derer ; and in case of refusal, that the person of some British
officer should suffer in his stead. The demand, though not
refused, has not been complied with ; and the melancholy
lot (not by election, but by casting lots) has fallen upon
Captain Asgill, of the Guards, who, as I have already men-
tioned, is on his way from Lancaster to camp, a martyr to



AMERICAN CKISI5. 167

the general wickedness of the cause he engaged in, and the
ingratitude of those he has served.

The first reflection which arises on this black business is,
what sort of men must Englishmen be, and what sort of
order and discipline do they preserve in their army, when in
the immediate place of their head -quarters, and under the
eye and nose of their Commander in Chief, a prisoner can
be taken at pleasure from his confinement, and his death
made a matter of sport.

The history of the most savage Indians does not produce
instances exactly of this kind. They, at least, have a for-
mality in their punishments. With them it is the horridness
of revenge, but with your army it is the still greater crime,
the horridness of diversion.

The British generals who have succeeded each other,
from the time of General Gage to yourself, have all affected
to speak in language they have no right to. In their pro-
clamations, their addresses, their letters to General Washing-
ton, and their supplications to Congress, (for they deserve
no other name) they talk of British honour, British genero-
sity, and British clemency, as if those things were matters
of fact ; whereas, we whose eyes are open, who speak the
same language with yourselves, many of whom were born
on the same spot with you, and who can no more be mis-



Online LibraryThomas PaineThe political and miscellaneous works of Thomas Paine .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 24 of 65)