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6. Invasion of Xew York 1780; burning of Balls-

7. Story of Arnold's treason.

8. Andre and Xathan Hale.

9. West Point chapel.

10. Sir Henry Clinton and Arnold's treason.


I:n^dependen^ce Achieved

The winter of i;80-81.— Of Arnold's treason,
Washington said little. To one of his most faith-
ful aides he said, "Whom can we trust now?"
Through that memorable autumn he grew more watch-
ful than ever, kept his small force well in hand, and
guarded against surprise at every point.

As winter came on the army again built its log
huts among the hills and mountains to the west, north
and east of New York. The soldiers had been 14
months without pay; their rations were poor and often
scant. Some mutinied, but most suffered in silence.
Congress was powerless, for there were no funds.

Clearing skies. — In the south. General Greene had
superseded General Gates, and quickly proved that he
could out-general Cornwallis. As spring approached,
the skies began to clear.

Nathanikl Greene, 1742-1786




1781] The Final Campaign 297

French allies. — In May, 1781 Washington held a
conference at Weathersfield, Connecticut, with Count
Rochambeau, who had with him at Xewport a division
of the French army, numbering 6,000. There it was
agreed to prepare for the siege of New York in con-
cert with the French fleet expected in the summer;
while their plans also contemplated operations in quite
another field, should General Clinton pave the way
for them.

Sir Henry Clinton became alarmed. Every day he
saw fresh indications that he was to be attacked. He
had sent detachments to the assistance of Cornwallis
in Virginia. These he now began to recall, leaving
Cornwallis to his fate, precisely as Washington had

The final campaign^ 1781. — Early in July, Wash-
ington suddenly concentrated his forces and camped at
Dobb's Ferry, nearly opposite the Palisades. Shortly
after, he moved to Kingsbridge, and the French troops
occupied Dobb's Ferry. Sir Henry now thought he
understood Washington's plans; demonstrations began
to be made at various points on his lines. Roads were
built, camps laid out, ovens constructed, and supplies
accumulated. An officer with Washington wrote to a
friend: " Our situation reminds me of a theatrical

Surrender of Cornwallis. — So certain had Sir
Henry Clinton now become, that he directed Cornwallis
to move to the Virginia capes and await transportation
to New York, to take part in its defence. Hardly had
Cornwallis taken this position when Count De Grasse


Surrender of Cornwallis [Period VII

with 28 French ships of the line blocked the river, and
La Fayette moved forward to keep watch over him.
Cornwallis had called La Fayette a "silly boy".

Charles Marquis (Jornwallis

Marquis de Lafayette,

1738-1805 1757 1834

He was now to learn respect for the gallant French-
man's ability. This was the stage of the game for
which Washington had been so long waiting, and to-
ward which all his pretended preparations near New
York had contributed.

On Aug. 15 Washington sent out detachments in
several directions to keep up the appearance of an in-
tended attack, while his whole army in two columns
started with the greatest haste for Virginia. So suc-
cessful was the ruse, so rapid the march, that he was
well on his way before General Clinton, shut up in New
York, discovered that he had gone. On August 30,
AVashington was at Philadelphia. On the 9th of Sep-
tember he visited his home at Mount Vernon, which
he had not seen in six years, and on the 28th Corn-
wallis was surrounded.

By the middle of October he was in despair. On
the 19th of that month he surrendered to the allied
French and American forces.

1783] Approach of Peace 299

The news of the surrender.— It seems incredible
that with the means of communication then in use,
the news of the great achievement could travel so
rapidly. In a few days it was known all over the col-
onies. In a month all Europe had heard of it.

The British ministry was condemned in the most
vigorous terms. It was accused of having squandered
a hundred million pounds to alienate thirteen colonies.
England demanded peace, but the king was stubborn
and refused to listen.

Washington in New York^ 1780-88. — Washington
did not tarry in Virginia. He immediately returned
to Xew York and with his army sat down to watch the
British there. He made his headquarters at Newburg *,
and his army was encamped between that place and
Xew Windsor. Xegotiations for peace were soon com-
menced and while they dragged their weary, diplomatic
way, a sort of armed truce existed between the two
hostile camps.

Sir Henry Clinton was denounced for allowing him-
self to be outwitted by Washington, and was soon re-
called. He was succeeded by Sir Guy Carleton, a wise
and humane officer. One of his first acts was the
release of every American then confined in the prisons
about Xew York. He soon announced that he had
*' come to conciliate, not to fight ".

Tryon's raids upon the defenceless settlers ceased,
and hope revived in the hearts of the people.

* Newburg contains many interesting mementoes
of Washington and the Revolution. The house which
he used is still preserved and belongs to the State. It
is kept in repair, and is used as a museum of revolu-
tionary relics.

300 Proposal of a Monarchy [Period VII

A monarchy proposed. — But the troubles of the
colonies were not all at an end. Dissatisfaction with
congress was expressed everywhere. Complaints were
loud among the soldiers encamped along the Hudson.
Many of them were destitute, weary of the war, and
large numbers were suffering from sickness and half-
healed wounds.

Then it was that Colonel Nicola of a Pennsylvania
regiment wrote his famous letter to General Washing-
ton, proposing that he should take possession of the
government, set himself up as king, and right the
wrongs of the army. There was at that time nothing
in the proposition to startle men. The confederation
was an acknowledged failure. Eepublics were almost
unknown. AVashington's sharp, sorrowful rebuke
closed this incident immediately.

The Newbiirg address^ 1783. — A more serious
matter now arose. Major
John Armstrong*, who be-
longed to General Gates's
staff, wrote an annoymous
" address " which was quietly
circulated through the army.
This professed to come from
a disabled veteran. It advised
the men to take matters into
their own hands and compel

JOHN AKMSTRONG. 1758-1843 congress to do justice to the
army. It cast a reflection upon Washington by advis-

* Afterward minister to France (1803-1810), and
secretary of war under Madison.

1783] Evacuation of Xew York 301

ing soldiers " to suspect a man who in those times ad-
vocated conciliatory measures". With it was a pro-
posal for a meeting of officers to consider the question.

In a meeting of general officers which Washington
called March 19, 1783, he carefully reviewed the entire
subject in a most patriotic spirit, and immediately left
the room. The officers condemned the "address"
and commended the course Washington had taken.

The fact was, congress was bankrupt. The army
could not be paid for there were no revenues*. The
States were so many independent republics, which could
not be compelled to put money into a national treas-
ury. Indeed, the treasuries of most of the States
were empty.

Disbanding the army, 1788. — In a few weeks
Washington began to disband the continental army.
He issued long furloughs to those men who had enlisted
for the war, and they were not required to return. On
Sept. 3, 1783, a treaty of peace was signed at Paris,
and on Oct. 18 congress, by proclamation, discharged
the soldiers of the army.

Eyacuation of New York. — The date fixed for the
evacuation of Xew York by the English w^as Xov. 25,
1783, — a day which has since that time been known as
" evacuation day ".

Early in the morning, Washington and his staff, ac-
companied by Governor Clinton and the remnant of
the American army, appeared at the head of Bowery
Lane. There they halted until noon. The English at

* There was a foreign debt of eight million dollars
and a domestic debt of thirty millions.

302 Washington's Farewell [Period VII

that hour had formed at the water's edge, ready for
embarkation. The Americans now marched into New
York city. The military took possession of Fort
George at the foot of Broadway, and the governor
with the civil officers entered the city hall and there
established the civil government of the State of New

Washiiig'toii's farewell. — All necessary prepara-
tions having been made, on Dec. 4, Washington called
his faithful officers about him, and bade them an affec-
tionate farewell. From New York he went at once to
Annapolis, where the continental congress was in ses-
sion, and on Dec. 23, 1783, he resigned his commission
as commander-in-chief of the American armies. From
Annapolis he departed for his home at Mount Vernon,
which, eight years before he had left to take command
of the army at Boston*.


1. The winter of 1780-81.

2. Weathersfield conference ; plans laid.

3. Effect on Clinton; his action.

4. The final campaign; the New York ruse; the
race for Virginia.

5. Cornwallis taken.

6. Washington in New York.

7. Oojonel Nicola's proposition.

* About this time the " Society of Cincinnati" was
formed among Washington's officers. Its purpose was
to promote friendship among themselves and to extend
aid to any who might be in want. Its charter made
only the eldest male descendant eligible to membership.

1783] Summary 303

8. The Xewburg address.

9. The army disbanded.

10. Evacuation of Xew York.

11. Washington's farewell; the Cincinnati.


Xew York's Share in the Revolution

Covinting the cost. — The war was over. Its cost
to the States in men and treasure had been immense.
New York, alone, from her population of not more
than 235,000 had furnished 41,633 men to the patriot
army, and had paid into the general treasury $7,900,-
000. She had done this while her chief city, New
York, and all Long Island had been in the hands of
the enemy. Within her borders had been fought a
great number of the serious battles of the war, in
many of which her militia had won the chief honors.

Upon her had fallen the bitter experiences of savage
warfare. Y^ear by year, the most fertile portions of
the State had been swept bare by Indian raids and her
most prosperous settlements destroyed. Her people
were poor; all her industries were paralyzed; immi-
gration had ceased. She was an independent common-
wealth, but possessed no treasury and had no revenues.

Her migratory legislature had returned to New York
city, one-half of which was in ruins. The great bay
contained not one American ship. The rotten wharves
were vacant; the warehouses empty. Independence
had been gained, but with it had come poverty, dis-
tress, and debt.

No other State had so completely met all the re-
quirements of congress, and to no other State was the
return of peace so welcome.


1783] The Tories 305

The tories. — War usually leaves its animosities,
and the revolution was no exception. Especially was
this true in New York city, where toryism had been
fostered by British occupancy during almost the entire
period of the war. New York had become a place of
refuge for the tories of every State, and their spirit
had penetrated all classes, from the baronial patroon
to the humblest laborer. Here patriots had been
driven from their homes and their property had been
seized and occupied for military purposes.

Many of the tories, while their neighbors were starv-
ing outside the English lines, had lived at ease and
grown rich by trade.

Outside the city there were whole counties where the
name tory was synonymous with Indian and was always
associated with massacre and pillage.

Retaliation proposed. — There was a large and in-
fluential body of citizens who insisted that every tory
should be driven from the State. The day of retri-
bution, they said, had come. The legislature had
hardly assembled before a memorial signed by many
men of the best character was presented. It stated
that the signers had just returned to their homes after
u long, enforced absence, to take possession of the lit-
tle that was left them. Here they found men who, in
the long struggle, had made every effort to prevent
independence ; men who had grown fat on the miseries
of their country.

It was proposed that the governors of the different
States should make and exchange lists of proscribed
persons, that they might find no rest for the soles of
their feet in any State.

306 Close OF THE Eevolution [Period VII

A "trespass bill" was passed. This gave to the
owner of a house the power to collect damages from
any man who in the owner's enforced absence had
occupied it.

Time at last brought its remedy. Gradually the
tories returned to their homes, and other matters
absorbed public attention.

New York at the close of the revolution. — New
York was now the fifth State in population. New
York city contained about 24,000 inhabitants. Long
Island had nearly 31,000, and the whole State about
234,000. Virginia had twice as many; Pennsylvania,
North Carolina, and Massachusetts also exceeded New
York in population. The settlements were confined
chiefly to Long Island, Staten Island, Manhattan
Island, and the banks of the Hudson and Mohawk
rivers and the streams flowing into them.

New York city. — In New York city, the Dutch
element exceeded the English, and the Dutch language
was to some extent spoken.

New York city lay between the fort (battery) on the
south, Anthony street on the north, Rutgers on the
east, and Harrison on the west.

This section was then occupied not only by business
places, but by residences also, — the latter often sur-
rounded by extensive gardens. Where is now the city
hall park was a common, called the "flat", or the
"fields", where public out-door meetings were held.

North of this was a fresh-water pond, where boys
fished in summer and skated in winter. To the east
lay Beekman's swamp, at high-tide often covered with
water. Above Anthony street, Broadway was a coun-

1783] Xew Yoek Cities in 17^3 307

try road. They were few paved streets, and these were
so rough as to be barely passable.

Ill the State at large. — Kingston had been de-
stroyed; Poughkeepsie was a thriving village; Xew-
burg had a few houses clustered about a tavern. Hud-
son was a farm. Troy was a little village, the home of
the Van Rensselaers. Albany was the second city in the
State, and the sixth in the country, and there Dutch
names and Dutch customs lingered longest. Beyond,
to the north and west, the country was for the most
part a wilderness.

Oswego was a military post, the extreme western
frontier. Where Rochester and Syracuse now stand,
deer browsed unmolested except by the Indian hunter.
On the present site of the city of Buffalo stood a single
log store for trade with the Indians, — the property of
a Hudson river Dutchman, Cornelias Winney. Along
the "southern tier" there were very few settlements
west of the Hudson.

The homes of the people.— Xew York city was
then as since the home of many wealthy families, and
there was little attempt to cultivate in these homes,
the virtue of " American simplicity ". Europeans Avho
visited Xew York had occasion to remark on the "ele-
gant style " in which people whom they met were living.

Classes of society. — There were three very distinct
orders of society, and these did not commingle. Those
in any way connected with the government constituted
a class by themselves. The trades people made a sort
of middle aristocracy, while below these were the
people who earned their living by any sort of manual

308 Classes of Society [Period VII

The ruling class lived in luxury, the trades people
in comfort, the laborers in poverty.

In the homes of the first could be found imported
furniture, Delft-ware and silver-plate. The middle
class used furniture of domestic manufacture, were
glad of a little wedgewood ware for special occasions,
and could polish up their pewter plates and tankards
until they rivalled the best silver-ware.

The lot of the laboring man was a hard one ; yet
having never known any other, and being equally with-
out the hope of anything better, he did not often com-
plain. His wages were not more than two shillings a
day, and only by the closest economy could he keep
his family together. His sons were usually appren-
ticed, early, to some trade. His daughters went out
to service. By his side walked two spectres; one was
the fear that he might be called from earth before his
children were grown, for there were then no orphan
asylums; the other that he might meet with some
accident that would incapacitate him for labor, when
it was the custom, as soon as he recovered, to throw
him into prison as a debtor.


1. Cost of the war.

2. The tories.

3. The trespass bill.

4. New York at the close of the revolution.

5. Homes of the people.

6. Classes of citizens.


Problems of Governme:^t

Four problems. — The legislature of Xew York
found itself face to face with several grave problems,
which demanded immediate settlement:

1. Xew York must make treaties with other States
and settle at once her old boundary disputes.

2. Certain Indian titles must be extinguished and
vacant lands opened to settlement.

3. Congress had asked the States to vest in that body-
all power to collect duties on imports, as a means of
paying the national war debt. A large share of these
duties would come from Xew York, and were needed
to pay the State's own obligations.

4. With these came, almost immediately, the ques-
tion of abandoning the "confederation" and forming
*' a more permanent union " under a new national

New York's claim to Yermont. — The dispute with
Xew Hampshire was an old one, — going back to 1760.
During the colonial wars a military road had been
opened from Xew Hampshire to Crown Point. This
road crossed the present State of Vermont from south-
east to north-west, and in 1761 speculators began to
turn their attention to the lands through which it
passed. The governor of Xew Hampshire ordered a


310 New York's Claim to Vermont [Period YII

survey to be made, laying out townships on both sides
of the Connecticut river, and claiming the land to
Lake Champlain. But 'New York also claimed east-
ward to the Connecticut river. Settlers from New
Hampshire took titles from that State and located on
these lands. Settlers from New York armed with
deeds from their State did the same, and soon it was
discovered that these deeds and grants often conveyed
the same territory. Troubles ensued; proclamations
and counter-proclamations were issued by the gover-
nors, each warning settlers from the other State to

New York sent land agents to drive settlers from
the New Hampshire grants, and in 1779, Ethan Allen
organized his " Green Mountain Boys " to resist these

Then New York appealed to the king, who con-
firmed her claim, but ordered that no more grants be
given in the disputed territory.

The revolutionary war interrupted, but did not ad-
just this controversy. The matter went to congress in
1777; and that body by special legislation decided that
the territory of Vermont "be ranked among the free
and independent States, and that delegates therefrom
be admitted to congress."

This did not satisfy New York, and her legislature
passed a series of "resolutions" condemning the
" resolutions of congress".

Termont relinquished. — Washington, seeing that
this dispute was interfering with military operations,
proposed that the matter be concluded at once, but no

1786] Phelps and Gorham Purchase 311

agreement was reached until 1787, when the questions
in controversy were submitted to commissioners ap-
pointed by the two States.

New York then relinquished her claims on the pay-
ment of $30,000, and in 1791 Vermont was recognized
as a "free and independent State" and admitted to
the union.

Massachusetts claim settled.— The charter which
Massachusetts received in 1629, like those given to
most of the early colonies, conveyed the lands within
certain prescribed north and south limits, — " west to
the South Sea ", or Pacific Ocean.

On this ground Massachusetts laid claim to a large
part of the soil within the limits of Xew York. This
claim was adjusted by a convention held at Hartford,
Conn., in December, 1786, when Xew York agreed to
cede to Massachusetts "those lands lying west of a
line drawn from Sodus Bay through Seneca lake to the
north line of Pennsylvania; and also a smaller tract
lying between the Chenango river and Owego creek in
the counties of Broome and Tioga", — Xew York re-
taining "government, sovereignty and jurisdiction "
over the same.

This was indeed a very large concession, but it made
little diiference to New York. Her revenues have not
been derived from the sale of wild lands, but from the
wealth of her prosperous citizens.

The Phelps and Gorham purchase. — James Mc-
Cauley, in his " History of Xew York", published in
1829, quaintly says of this transaction: " This cession,

312 Indiai^ Titles [Period VII

embracing about 10,000 square miles, was made to
quiet, or put at rest, certain antiquated claims set up by
Massachusetts to certain lands in Xew York. These
claims were supported by an antiquated charter, which
never had any validity. The government of Massa-
chusetts sold the first tract to Oliver Phelps and Xa-
thaniel Gorham for $1,000,000*, and the second to
John Brown and others for 13,300 (and some cents).
This much at present concerning lands trifled away
without any equivalent, so much as a beaver skin."

Indian titles. — A treaty of peace was negotiated
with the Six Nations at Fort Stanwix (Rome) October,
1784. This was done by a commission appointed by
the United States. At this conference Red Jacket,
the great Seneca chief and orator, appeared in opposi-
tion to the treaty. The Six Nations were guaranteed
peaceable possession of their lands east of Buffalo,
which was fixed as their western limit. Into these
lands the settlers soon began to pour. The purchasers
of the lands ceded to Massachusetts had been required
to extinguish the Indian titles, prior to settlement.

Purchase of Indian titles. — In May, 1786, the
legislature of Kew York passed "An act for the speedy
sale of the unappropriated lands within the State ".
This seems to have been done for the benefit of specu-
lators, and at the same time to shirk the responsibility
of the Indian titles ; for these lands were sold in large

* Phelps and Gorham failed in payment, took a
smaller tract in settlement and the remainder was sub-
sequently sold to other parties, —the Holland company
purchasing 3,600,000 acres.

1786] Indian Titles 313

tracts to men who subsequently sub-divided and sold
the same to actual settlers.

These tracts were purchased at a price so low that
the owners could easily afford afterward to satisfy
the Indians. Gradually the State purchased the In-
dian titles to all unsold lands, leaving to them certain
reservations, paying them a purchase price agreed up-
on, and granting them an annuity thereafter. At the
close of the revolution the Mohawks fled to Canada
and received no reservation, but in 1797 were paid
$1,600 for all their claims.


1. Four problems.

2. New York's claim to Vermont.

3. Claim of Massachusetts; settlement.

4. Phelps and Gorham purchase; Holland land com-

5. Indian titles; treaty of Fort Stanwix.

6. Sale of public lands.

7. The Mohawks.


Adoption of the Constitution

Need of a National Oovernmeiit.— In 1786 New
York had not yet acceded to the request of congress
to vest in that body the power to collect duties on its

Congress now asked Governor Clinton to call a
special session of the legislature to consider this im-
portant question. This the governor refused to do.
What could more clearly demonstrate the weakness,
the entire impotence of the confederation, than the
spectacle of a national government begging a State to
take some action to protect the national credit! On
this question there was much discussion. One party
insisted that New York could not afford to surrender

Online LibraryWilliam Reed PrenticeHistory of New York state (Volume 1) → online text (page 17 of 34)