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\. Roxbury, June 1, 1778.
THE hint you have received of a design to remove general Washington from the command of the American army, will have made you desirous of knowing more of that business; let it then be first related. The general being applied to by one of his correspondents, answered from Valley-forge, January the • 23d, 1778—" Whether a serious design of placing general Lee, .(before captivation) at the head of the army, had ever entered into the head of a member of congress or not, I never was at the trouble of enquiring. I amtold ascheme of that kind is now on foot by some, in behalf of another gentleman—whether true or /alse—serious or merely to try the pulse—I neither know nor .care. Neither interested nor ambitious views led me into the service. I did not solicit the command; but accepted it after .much entreaty, with all that diffidence which a conscious want of ability and experience equal to the discharge of so important a .trust must naturally excite in a mind not quite devoid of thought; and after I did engage, pursued the great line of my duty, and the object in view (as far as my judgment could direct) as pointedly as the needle to the pole. So soon as the public gets dissatisfied with my services, or a person is found better qualified to answer her expectation, I shall quit the helm with as much pleasure, and retire to a private station with as much content, as ever the wearied pilgrim felt upon his safe arrival at the holy land, or haven of hope; and snail wish most devoutly, that those who •come after, may meet with more prosperous gales than I have . done, and less difficulty. If the expec tation of the public has not been answered by my endeavors, I have more reasons than one to regret it; but at present I shall only add, that a day may come, when the public cause is no longer to be benefited by a concealment of our circumstances, and till this period arrives, I shall not be among the first to disclose such truths as may injure it, however my character in the mean while may suffer.'" On the 15th. of February he had occasion for writing—" I can assure you that no person ever heard me drop an expression that had a tendency ■ to resignation. The same principles that led me to embark in the opposition to the arbitrary claims of Great-Britain, operate with additional force at this day; nor is it my desire to withdraw my services while they are considered of importance in the present contest. But to report a design of this kind, is' among the arts .which those who axe endeavoring to effect a change, aur pracVol. II. - > Q q Using
tising to bring it to pass. There is not an officer in the service of the United States, that would return to the sweets of domestic life with more heart-felt joy than I should, but I mean not to shrink in the cause. The design is not only seen through, but reprobated.” On the 20th, Patrick Henry, esq. governor of Virginia, forwarded an anonymous letter which had been sent him, to the general, and added—“There may be some scheme or party forming to your prejudice. The enclosed leads to a suspicion. Believe me, Sir, I have too high a sense of the obligations America has to you, to abet or countenance so unworthy a proceeding. I really think your personal welfare, and the happiness of America are intimately connected.” The anonymous letter was ..o. 12, 1773. It begins with highly complimenting Mr. Henry, and then proceeds to sketch out a dismal picture, and to hint at the remedy—“America can be only undone by herself. Her representation in congress is dwindled to only twenty-one members—her Adams—her Wilson—her Henry—are no more among them. Her counsels weak—and. partial remedies applied constantly for universal diseases. Her army—what is it? a mob. Discipline unknown, or wholly neglected—the quarter-masters and commissioners departments filled with idleness, ignorance and peculation. Our hospitals crowded with six thousand sick, and more dying in one month than perished in the field during the whole of the last campaign. The country distracted with the Don Qnixote attempts to regulate the price of provisions. An artificial famine created by it, and a real one dreaded from it. The northern army has shown what Americans are capable of with a general at their head. The southern army is no ways inferior. A Gates, a Lee, or a Conway, would in a few weeks render them an irresistible body of men. The last in one of his letters to a friend, says, “A great and good God hath decreed America to be free; or the—and weak councellors would have ruined her long ago. You may rest assured of each of the facts related in this letter.” When Conway had recovered his original letter, which was written in October, he said to gen. Washington, in one of January the 27th—“I find, with great satisfaction, that the paragraph so much spoken of, does not existin said letter, nor anything like it. I must depend upon your justice, candor and generosity, for putting a stop. to this forgery.” Had he sent the letter itself, the conviction of the forgery might have been deemed much stronger; whereas many will doubt whether there was a forgery, upon being told that one of his warmest friends quoted the paragraph as authentic ..so early as October the 21st. Periodical letters were published: and circulated in the continental newspapers, under the * of De Lisle, and the pretence of being translations from the French, artfully calculated to promote the design against Washington, by insinuating into the mind of the reader, ideas tending to lessen him in the eye of the public. The writer of the preceding anonymous letter, is supposed to be the author of them. The design has not succeeded. #. general has had too great 3. share of the people's confidence and affection, to admit of an oped attempt to remove him. Several members of congress were engaged in the business—some of the Massachusetts delegates—particularly. Mr. Samuel Adams. The army was so coilfident of it, and so enraged, that persons were stationed to watch him as he approached the camp, on his return home. But he is o: of good intelligence, and was careful to keep at a safe distance. Had he fallen into the hands of the officers when in that paroxism of resentinent, they would probably have handled him so as to have endangered his life, and tarnished their own honor. - The pian seems to have been this—To engage the Massachusetts assembly and Virginia house of bulgesses to give instructions to their delegates in congress, to move for an enquiry into the causes of the ill success attending the campaign of 1776; and then to contrive that such resolves should be given into, as would either remove the general or produce his resignation. Mean while the names of Gates and Mission were held up, and played off to ripen the measure. But the anonymous attempt upon the governor of Virginia was reprobated by him, and the Massachusetts assembly was not in a temper to adimit of the trial to ensnare them. As to generais Gates and Miffin, they had clear
ed themselves from having any design of removing the commande in chief. The former has written to an intimate correspondent —“York-Town, 4th April, 1778. Dear Sir, Last nig..t I received your affectionate letter of the 16th last; that of the 25th of February came to hand a few days before. Your remarks upon the works and defences of your capital city are just; and I am convinced the town is lost in a very few hours after they are attacked. I have daily and weekly been telling your, and the other eastern delegates, that not only the metropolis, but the whole coasts of New-England were, in my opinion, the grand object of the enemy's resentment for the ensuing campaign; they were a parcel of blundering blocki.eads not to make that their object the last year. I think they might then have united their whole force, and have made a much more honorable end of their supuner’s work than it pleased Heaven to give them. "I find by your letters, that Boston, as well as this part of the coutinent, is infected by incenda:es, who ends avor, by eve
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ry villainous art, to impress a belief that general Mifflin and myself, are in a league with other designing and ambitious spirits, to supersede general Washington. Nothing can be more wicked, nothing more false, than this diabolical calumny. General Mifflin, to whom I made known the industry of his enemies and mine, and the tricks of their emissaries, writes to you by this conveyance. You know his honor, merit and services to the public; you also know that whenever I have been called forth, lhave done my best for the establishment of independence and peace: Is it generous, therefore, that we two should be selected for a sacrifice to a junto? For my part, I solemnly declare, I never was engaged in any plan or plot for the removal of general Washington,* nor do 1 believe any such plot ever existed
■—so help me Yours most truly."
You may credit Gates's not believing such plot; but you must believe differently. The stile of general Mifflin's letter was—
"Dear Mr. Audiet alterem partem. I declare to you,
with the greatest sincerity and solemnity, that I never formed a plan or a party to injure general Washington's command. I never desired to have any, person whomsoever, take the command of the American army from him; nor have I said or done any thing of, or respecting him, which the public service did not require; and which I would not have said, with great freedom to you, as his friend, and as a friend to American independency. I never aspired, in thought, to the command of the army; and always would have deprecated the idea as improper and dangerous to myself and to America, had that idea occurred, which it never did to me—I hope to see you before long—1 most ardently wish it—and I pledge myself to you and my cous*. try, that I can and will justify my character of a patriot in aM f aints, to your satisfaction." This disagreeable relation will £nish with a paragraph from general VVashington's letter of
March the 28th. "My caution to avoid every thing that
could injure the service, prevented me from communicating, but to a very few of my friends, the intrigues of a faction which I know was formed against me, since it might serve to publish our internal dissentions; but their own restless zeal to advance their views, has too clearly betrayed them, and made concealment on my part fruitless."
Let us pass on to another event, which has the appearance of being related to some plot. On Monday, January the 12th, the president laid before congress a packet containing blank papers,
* When gen. Gates'* letters were examined by me, at his felt in Virginia, the latter end of 1781, there was not a fingle paragraph to be met with, that contained any intimation of bis beicg coBctrned in fucb a plan. *■ which he received the day before from capt. John Folger, wht> was sent by the commissioners at Paris with dispatches to congress. Mr. Folger was ordered to be confined in close prison; but in the beginning of May, the committee who were appointed to examine into his conduct reported, "That they have made as full an examination into that business as the evidence they were able to obtain would permit,andon the whole haveno proof of any guilt in Mr. Folger;" whereupon the captain has been permitted to go home, and has had all his expenees paid him. The committee suspect there has been foul play somewhere.— They have taken off the seal horn the packet, and sent it back to Paris, to be examined by the original impression, that they may see if the fraud can be detected by that mean. What makes the affair more mysterious, is, that the other dispatches brought by the captain, contained state papers directed for the late president Mr. Hancock, and had no appearances of having been searched. Time must produce an explanation of this dark business; which has been rendered the more suspicious by the arrival of Mr. Francey with a letter from Mr. Deane only, dated Paris, September the 10th, I'm, recommending him as Mr. Beaumarchais' agent, and pressing the execution of the business which he came upon. The committee for foreign affairs, in their first letter to the commissioners after his arrival, said, "We think it strange that the commissioners did not jointly write by Mr. Fran, cey, considering the very important designs of his coming over, viz. to settle the mode of payment for the past cargoes, sent by Roderique Hortalcs and comp. [alias Mr. Beaumarchais] arid to make contracts for future. It is certain that mucheclaircissement is, at this last moment, wanting." Mr. Francy from time to time sent to the committee of commere, letters upon the business with which he was intrusted, which were reported to congress for their consideration. After being before them once and again, Mr. Francey, as agent for Roderique Hortales and company, settled his contract with them, on the 8th of April. By that contract is was stipulated among other articles, that the costs of the several cargoes already shipped by the said company, were to be fairly stated at the current prices and usual mercantile charges in France, of the dates at which they where shipped. Let us for a while employ ourselves about military concerns. [Jan. 1. 1778.] The condition of the army at Valley-forge, was far from being the most eligible or respectable : and in case the enemy had come out of Philadelphia, and made a general ■ push, would have been exceeding hazardous. Gen. Washington was compelled by necessity to employ the troops in making seizures; which excited the greatest uneHsiness imaginable