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event. A British army, nearly 10,000 strong, led by General Burgoyne, entered the State of New York from Canada, and met at Saratoga an American force under General Gates. Two battles ensued which led to the capitulation of Burgoyne and his army.
This brilliant result decided the fortunes of the war. It turned despondency into exultation at home, while the effect abroad was momentous. France was now encouraged openly to assist the American Rebellion, and to agree to a Treaty of Alliance.
In November of this year, 1777, the States were induced to venture on a more cordial co-operation, and consented to enter into a "Confederation with each other. Articles were drawn up and signed, July, 1778, by which they agreed to concede to their Delegates in Congress certain powers which were designated. They refused, however, to grant the only two rights that were essential. They would not allow Congress to assess and collect taxes: each State reserved to itself this privilege. Congress might vote money, but it belonged to the States to raise it through their own Legislatures. Congress therefore was always on its knees supplicating the States to furnish means which came slowly, or not at all. If it had not been for the loans made to Congress by Holland and France, the Revolution must have collapsed. The second right, as indispensable to Congress as levying and collecting taxes, was to regulate trade and commerce by imposing a uniform scale of Duties. The States would not listen to such a proposition. To give up the right to regulate their own trade according to their interests was tantamount, they said, to abdicating their Sovereignty altogether. Each insisted on imposing its
own Duties, not only on foreign goods, but on the productions of the sister States. The Thirteen Independent States entrenched themselves behind their respective. custom-houses, and trade was as much or more harassed than when they were in a Colonial condition. The consequences were rivalries and resentments sure to lead sooner or later to serious results.
Nevertheless, the leaders of the Revolution thought it wise to unite the States in a Confederation, however defective, in order to accustom them to act together. They hoped a better knowledge of their interests would induce them some day to create a Central Authority or National Government with the requisite powers to promote the common welfare.
The sagacity and moderation of the Statesmen of the Revolution surmounted stupendous difficulties. If the leaders in Congress had not acted in perfect accord, all would have been lost. To be sure, their lives depended on success, and this enforced the utmost forbearance.
A proof that the new Confederation of the States did little for the situation may be seen in the following statement of Washington. He was encamped the winter of 1777-78 at Valley Forge, twenty miles from Philadelphia, and in a touching application for aid to the President of Congress he wrote:-"We have by a field-return, this day made, no less than 2,898 men now in camp unfit for duty, because they are barefoot and otherwise naked. We find gentlemen, without knowing whether the army was really going into winterquarters or not, reprobating the measure as much as if they thought the soldiers were made of stocks and stones, and equally insensible to frost and snow; and moreover, as if they conceived it easily practicable for
an inferior army, under the disadvantages which I have described ours to be, and which are by no means exaggerated, to confine a superior one-in all respects well appointed and provided for a winter campaignwithin the city of Philadelphia, and to cover from depredation and waste the States of Pennsylvania and Jersey. I can assure those gentlemen that it is a much easier and less distressing thing to draw remonstrances in a comfortable room by a good fireside, than to occupy a cold, bleak hill, and sleep under frost and snow without clothes or blankets. However, although they seem to have little feeling for the naked and distressed soldiers, I feel superabundantly for them, and from my soul I pity those miseries which it is neither. in my power to relieve or prevent."
Congress could make no other response to such an appeal than to invoke the Thirteen States to come to the General's rescue, and to authorize him to obtain all the assistance he could from the various local Governments.
The want of men and money at this dreary juncture was not Washington's sole embarrassment. The only hope of Congress and the country was in the army, and its condition may be seen in the following graphic sketch:— "In the army itself, which was the object of so much distrust to the States, the strongest spirit of insubordination and democracy prevailed. Every order was disputed. Every detachment aspired to act on its own account, and to consult its own convenience. The troops of the different States would obey no generals. but their own, and the soldiers no officers not directly chosen or appointed by themselves. The day after a defeat which was to be repaired, or a victory to be followed up, whole regiments disbanded themselves, and
retired without even consenting to wait a few days until their successors arrived."
Thus, with discord between the States, insubordination in the army, disaffection among the people, trade paralyzed, a depreciated paper-currency, the most sanguine might well despair of the Revolution.
It was not alone the firmness or ability of the leaders in Congress from the North and the South which carried. the Revolution through such tremendous obstacles. To Washington more than to anyone else was due the final success. Nor was it achieved merely by his superior intellect or military skill, but rather by a marvellous combination of qualities which imparted to his character a moral grandeur that inspired respect and commanded esteem. His patience, prudence, disinterestedness, firmness, and forbearance never failed, although these traits were daily put to the severest tests. A tranquil dignity and strict decorum uniformly characterized his deportment and language. Through all his actions and his utterances written or verbal might be discerned the steady light of a conscientiousness that never flickered nor waned. Since the days of Socrates no character so perfectly proportioned and happily blended. had appeared; and it may be doubted if the Athenian philosopher, who accepted death to prove his deference for law, underwent a more cruel ordeal than did Washington, who from an equally exalted motive contended serenely for years with trials almost superhuman. The admirable balance of his mind and character is happily portrayed in the lines of Shakespeare:
* From June, 1775, to November, 1779, Congress authorized the issue of 246 millions of dollars in paper, generally known as "Continen money."
"And the elements
So mixed in him that Nature might stand up,
In the spring of 1778 came the intelligence that France had signed a Treaty of Alliance, and would despatch a fleet to aid the struggling States. No wonder the wretched soldiers of "Valley Forge" fired off their cannon and joyfully shouted in honor of the French King, Louis XVI.
The French Alliance startled George III., and Parliament hastened to repeal all the obnoxious Acts against their late Colonies. Commissioners were sent out to negotiate a reconciliation, but Congress refused to treat except on the basis of Independence.
In June, 1778, the British evacuated Philadelphia, and marched for New York. Washington followed them across New Jersey, and on the 28th of the same month a battle ensued at Monmouth. The Americans remained masters of the field, and the enemy fell back on New York. A French fleet under Count d'Estaing had arrived, and in August co-operated in an attack on the Rritish forces in Rhode Island, which failed.
The war was carried on principally at the South during 1779, and by the middle of the summer, Georgia was occupied by the British. During this year also, Spain declared war against England. French and American cruisers at this period were inflicting heavy losses on English commerce. In September of this year, Paul Jones, a Scotchman, who was in the American service, captured two English frigates with his single ship in one battle.
The war was actively pursued at the South during 1780. Charleston surrendered to the British in May, and South Carolina was subsequently overrun.