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John Witherspoon
Witherspoon, the American


FROM the day that he landed in America until the Revolution Witherspoon was a high type of British colonist. Scotchman as he was, he was British in sentiment and devotion. But he was likewise American to the core. He early perceived the possibilities of the new country. Its resources amazed him. The rich fertility of the soil, especially that which lay inland along the streams appealed to him in contrast with the less productive land in Scotland. He was delighted with the men whom he met and with the towns they had built. His admiration was not effusive, but his practical eye saw the evident advantages that would accrue from hard work. Clergyman and educator though he was, following professions not conducive to business sagacity, he had no hesitation in engaging in such enterprises as he thought would be profitable. He became one of a company which obtained from the crown a. large grant of land in Nova Scotia. Witherspoon appears to have had friends at court to whom, as in the case of the charter for the Widows' Fund, he could apply for aid. Whether he used this friend on this occasion I do not know. But he used his own name freely, as he might very properly, to advertise, not only his land in Nova Scotia but the general advantages in America, for the purpose of encouraging emigration. When John Adams was at Princeton in 1774, Witherspoon said the Congress ought to urge every colony to form a society to encourage Protestant emigration from the three kingdoms of Great Britain. It was this motive more largely than the hope of making money that induced him to join the Nova Scotia land company. When his name appeared in the advertisements in Scotch papers, some of his old enemies in that land took occasion to attack him. Ordinarily he let such things pass, but as . injury might be done to possible emigrants induced to come to America by other land speculators and as he was accused of being an enemy to his country, he felt obliged to reply. The charge narrowed down to this, to use his own words: "Migrations from Britain to America are not only hurtful but tend to the ruin of that country; therefore, John Witherspoon, by inviting people to leave Scotland and settle in America is an enemy to his country." In a long letter to the Scots Magazine he shows the folly of such an argument. His only reason for going into the company, he declares, was "that it would give people, who intended to come out, greater confidence that they should meet with fair treatment, and that I should the more effectually answer that purpose, one of the express conditions of my joining the company was, that no land should be sold dearer to any coming from Scotland than I should direct," surely a fine evidence of his associates' confidence in his integrity. He felt obliged to make this stipulation because many wildcat schemes were advertised abroad offering land at a rental per acre which equalled the value of the acre itself. Land in America was remarkably cheap compared with the price in Scotland, but Witherspoon reminded his readers that the value of it depended more upon its neighbourhood than upon its quality. The letter displays an astonishingly intimate acquaintance with the details of real estate, most unexpected in one whose chief repute was due to theological learning. Already he caught the import of the drift of population inland to the rich soils towards and beyond the mountains. As for the charge that he is an enemy to his country he replies, "I cannot help thinking it is doing a real service to my country when I show that those of them who find it difficult to subsist on the soil in which they were born, may easily transport themselves to a soil vastly superior to that." His hope was, not that Scotland should send out men who would take up large tracts and become landed proprietors on a large scale, but that farmers, willing to work the land themselves might take small holdings. It is shameful, he feels, for men to deceive intending settlers, and protests against the unjust charges of his enemies. "For my own part," he concludes, "my interest in the matter is not great; but since Providence has sent me to this part of the world, and since so much honour has been done me as to suppose that my character might be some security against fraud and imposition, I shall certainly look upon it as my duty to do every real service in my power, to such of my countrymen as shall fall in my way, and that either desire or seem to need my assistance."

The result was that many Scotch families settled in Nova Scotia, whose descendants compose to-day the sturdiest and most upright portion of the population. His profits from the venture were not large, but sufficient to induce him to invest again in New Hampshire lands by which he is believed to have lost money. American interests of every kind suffered from the dense ignorance of the British. Not only in political matters, but also in religious, ignorant critics proved very annoying to the American Church. Already I have called attention to the Synod's custom of sending a letter annually to Scotland. The American Presbyterians were independent of the established Church of Scotland, nor did they seek to be placed under Scottish jurisdiction, as the Episcopalians sought to have the Church of England control the colonial church. But they recognized the close relationship existing between the Presbyterianism of the two countries. Witherspoon kept up a correspondence with friends in Scotland, especially those in Glasgow and Edinburgh. The Scots Magazine came to him regularly, and his friends often sent him copies of other periodicals which might be of interest to him. In a copy of the Scot's Magazine late in 1770, was a letter commenting severely upon a sermon preached at Boston by Dr. Joseph Lathrop, on the "outrage" known as the Boston Massacre, which was in reality a justifiable defense of British soldiers against a Boston mob, but which the overwrought people seized upon as an example of British tyranny. Dr. Lathrop's sermon, which was published and circulated, served to fan the flames. While it was probably correct in its general presentation of the popular feeling about the incident in particular, and towards the British in general, the sermon was unwise and also unfair, in its picture of the occasion itself. John Adams was one of the lawyers who secured the acquittal of all the soldiers but two, who were let off with a light fine. The populace began the trouble, and the soldiers acted in self-defense. The presence of the soldiers served to exasperate the people, but the conflict itself was caused by the latter. In any event the British public condemned the American attitude. But this writer in the Scots Magazine made the mistake of using Dr. Lathrop's sermon to strike at the Synod of New York and Philadelphia. The annual letter from the Synod had been received a short time before, "on the reading of which," says the author, "I could not help thinking if we may judge of the American Church from the sample here given that our church derives no great honour from her western progeny; but I hope the stock is better than the sample." That was too much for Witherspoon. He tells the writer that his criticism has only served to be-tray his ignorance. The Synod of New York and Philadelphia does not extend as far as Boston. He does not mean to disclaim connection with the churches of New England. "They are a most respectable part of the Church of Christ. Nor do I think that any part of the British empire is at this day equal to them for real religion and sound morals." And he begs the magazine not to publish anything upon American affairs unless the writers understand them.

In private letters also he found it necessary to assure his friends that the people of America were quite as respectable, fully as civilized, and often more learned than many at home in Scotland and England. It was his opinion in 1774 that the Continental Congress might wisely employ capable writers to inform the British public by pamphlets and through the newspapers, of the real condition of American politics. He himself reminded the British that if they persisted in taxing the growing trade of America, which was contributing to British prosperity, more than the trade of any other foreign country, they would lose rather than gain. He defied Great Britain to produce a man more loyal than himself to the crown, and avows that for this very reason he maintains the rights of America. Instead of distressing and alienating the colonies, the government should attach them to itself. For American strength and prosperity meant British strength and prosperity. "That you may not pass sentence upon me immediately," he says in an article " On Conducting the American Controversy," written in 1773, "as an enemy to the royal authority, and a son of sedition, I declare that I esteem His Majesty King George the Third, to have the only rightful and lawful title to the British crown. . . . I will go a little further and say that I not only revere him as the first magistrate of the realm, but I love and honour him as a man and am persuaded that he wishes the prosperity and happiness of his people in every part of his dominions. Nay, I have still more to say, I do not think the British ministry themselves have deserved all the abuse and foul names that have been bestowed on them by political writers. The steps which they have taken with respect to American affairs, and which I esteem to be unjust, impolitic, and barbarous to the highest degree, have been chiefly owing to the two following causes: 1. Ignorance, or mistake occasioned by the misinformation of interested and treacherous persons employed in their service. 2. The prejudices common to them, with per-sons of all ranks in the Island of Great Britain." Ignorance and prejudice lay at the bottom of the whole bad business. Witherspoon said in the same article, "A man will become an American by residing in the country three months."

"I have often said to friends in America, on that subject, it is not the king and ministry so much as the prejudices of Britons with which you have to contend. Spare no pains to have them fully informed. Add to the immovable firmness with which you justly support your own rights a continual solicitude to convince the people of Great Britain that it is not passion, but reason that inspires you. Tell them it cannot be ambition, but necessity, that makes you run an evident risk of the heaviest sufferings, rather than forfeit for yourselves and your posterity the greatest of all earthly blessings." Witherspoon condemns "the shameless, gross, indecent and groundless abuse of the king and his family," but he adds that, "Far greater insults were offered to the sovereign within the city of London and within the verge of the court, than were ever thought of or would have been permitted by the mob in any part of America."

From the outset Witherspoon kept himself well informed on American affairs. He sub-scribed regularly for three papers, one published in New York, another in Philadelphia and a third, the New Jersey State Gazette. Besides these papers he read numerous pamphlets, some of which he bought, others being the gifts of friends who knew his interest in all public questions. Politics, trade, emigration, religion, domestic relation, foreign questions, all the various items presented in a newspaper, even to the personalities and correspondence, were carefully noted by him. He was a frequent contributor to the papers, sometimes over his own name, often using a pseudonym.

From the beginning he perceived the righteousness of the American claims, and the utter futility of the stupid measures adopted by the British government towards the colonies. He abstained from any reference to political matters in the pulpit. In his private letters to friends in Scotland he frankly expressed his opinions, and in personal interviews with other Americans his sympathies for America were freely spoken. The boys of Princeton College knew what their president thought. The trustees might adopt rules of caution to prevent rash statements by the young orators, but Witherspoon's enforcement of this rule was never beyond the letter of the law. In 1769, while the crisis was still impending, Princeton had taken a middle ground in conferring the degree of LL. D. upon two Americans whose writings had attracted wide attention, John Dickinson, the author of "Letters of An American Farmer," and Joseph Galloway, whose adherence to the British crown carried him over to the Tory side. Dickinson had written most powerfully against the fatal course of England and Galloway had plead most strongly for colonial caution, deploring the sentiment in favour of resistence by force, or of independence. Later as a member of the Congress of 1774 he urged upon that body a union of the colonies in a general congress under control of the crown. But the temper neither of America nor England was ready to entertain that suggestion.

Witherspoon's first public appearance in connection with the American cause was at New Brunswick, where a convention assembled July 21, 1774. He represented Somerset County. Among other members of the convention were Jonathan Baldwin, the steward of Princeton College, Wm. P. Smith, John Kinsey, Wrn. Livingston, trustees of the college, Jeremiah Halsey,. a Presbyterian minister, besides other trustees and close friends. Witherspoon and Livingston urged the convention to adopt a resolution against paying for the tea which Great Britain would force upon America. The resolutions as adopted, however, were not as strong as Witherspoon desired. To us who read them to-day, as to the angry ministers of Great Britain, they are strong enough. Of course they declare the loyalty of all Jerseymen to King George, but the men of the convention declare that they feel bound to oppose the measures of the crown by all constitutional means in their power. They announced that, in their opinion, it was the duty of all Americans heartily to unite in supporting Massachusetts in resisting the invasion of her charter rights, the trial of supposed offenders by the courts of other colonies, or of Great Britain. New Jersey pledged herself " firmly and inviolably to adhere to the determinations of the Congress," and earnestly recommended "a general non-importation and a non-consumption agreement" and that the several county committees should collect subscriptions for the relief of the oppressed people of Boston.

Without waiting for the general convention of the province to act, several counties had in dependently adopted resolutions, copies of which having come into the governor's hands, he had notified the Earl of Dartmouth of them. His letter betrays no very great alarm. He doubts whether the people of the province will enter into a non-importation agreement and thinks the Congress to be summoned "will apply to his Majesty for the repeal of the Boston Port Act, and endeavour to fall upon measures for accommodating the present differences between the two countries and preventing the like in future." How little he or the British ministers understood the temper of the people is already known to us. But the same mistake is made more apparent by a reading of Witherspoon's opinion, as that is found in a series of suggestions published by him as the proper course for the Congress to pursue. These were written in 1774, two years before he became a member of the Congress. He thinks, "It is at least extremely uncertain whether it could be proper or safe for the Congress to send either ambassadors, petition, or address, directly to king, or parliament, or both. They may treat them as a disorderly, unconstitutional meeting—they may hold their meeting itself to be criminal— they may find so many objections in point of legal form, that it is plainly in the power of those, who wish to do it, to deaden the zeal of the multitude in the colonies by ambiguous, dilatory, frivolous answers, perhaps by severer measures." "There is not the least reason as yet to think that either the king, the parliament, or even the people of Great Britain, have been able to enter into the great principles of universal liberty, or are willing to hear the discussion of the point of right without prejudice." This estimate of the temper of the British is quite in accord with the conviction which Samuel Adams had reached six years ago, but it seems to have been shared by very few other public men. One of the resolutions adopted by the New Jersey convention had been "That the grateful acknowledgments of this body are due to the noble and worthy patrons of constitutional liberty, in the British Senate, for their laudable efforts to avert the storm they behold impending over a much injured colony, and in support of the just rights of the king's subjects in America." The Princeton Scotchman did not think such a resolution would avail anything in the present condition of English politics. The speeches of Englishmen in favour of granting the American claims were unavailing, nor did the colonists receive any further encouragement from their parliamentary friends, nor much advice as to the best way to proceed. Of the British statesmen in power Witherspoon said, " They have not only taken no pains to convince us that sub-mission to their claims is consistent with liberty among us, but it is doubtful whether they expect, or desire, we should be convinced of it. It seems rather that they mean to force us to be absolute slaves, knowing ourselves to be such by the hard law of necessity. If this is not their meaning, and they wish us to believe that our lives and properties are quite safe in the absolute disposal of the British Parliament, the late acts with respect to Boston, to ruin their capital, destroy their charter, and grant the soldiers a right to murder them, are certainly arguments of a very singular nature." He thinks, therefore, "that the great object of the approaching Congress should be to unite the colonies and make them as one body in any measure of self-defense; to assure the people of Great Britain that we will not submit voluntarily, and convince them that it would be either impossible or unprofitable for them to compel us by open violence." He submits to the consideration of the Congress resolutions which are unsurpassed for boldness and flat positiveness by any other statements of the period. Profess loyalty to the king, but declare " not only that we esteem the claim of the British Parliament to be illegal and unconstitutional, but that we are firmly deter-mined never to submit to it, and do deliberately prefer war with all its horrors and even extermination itself to slavery rivetted on us and on our posterity." It is not remarkable, that when the Massachusetts congressmen reached Princeton on their way to Philadelphia, they felt they had come to an oasis in the desert. At New York and several places in Northern New Jersey, they were reviled and hooted, threats were made against them as disturbers of the peace and rebellious advocates of independence. But at Princeton the atmosphere was clear. Witherspoon received them cordially, entertained them at his house with wine, and drank coffee with them at their lodgings. The students showed the influence of their president.

The other recommendations urged the closest union of the colonies, so that none should make a separate peace, "and continue united till American liberty is settled on a solid basis"; that a non-importation agreement, too long delayed, should be entered into immediately, as well as a non-consumptive agreement. After suggesting measures for encouraging desirable immigrants he insists that the legislature of every colony should put their militia on the best footing; that all Americans provide them-selves with arms " in case they should be reduced to the hard necessity of defending themselves from murder and assassination." These strong resolutions had their effect in further stiffening the backbone of Jerseymen like Richard Stockton and others who had not been ready to go so far, so that eighteen months later Stockton was willing to go to Congress, where he signed the Declaration of Independence. A seventh resolution suggested "an earnest and affectionate address to the British army and navy urging them, as Britons, not to bring reproach upon themselves as the instruments of enslaving their country." And lastly, the necessity of union being so important in his mind, he begs the Congress to see to it that all the colonies effectually cooperate for the common defense.

Witherspoon's resolute and unyielding spirit directed the attention of the country and of the government to New Jersey. The colony moved cautiously, but steadily in the general interest. In Scotland such accounts of Witherspoon's share in the opposition were spread that he was cautioned by his friends and decried as a political firebrand by his enemies.

For the next year and a half Witherspoon was most energetic as the head of the Somerset County committee of correspondence. This committee kept a watchful eye upon suspicious people in their midst and corresponded, not only with committees of other counties in New Jersey, but also with the Council of Safety in other colonies.

During this time events were rapidly coming to a head elsewhere. The Congress met at Philadelphia September 5, 1774, and for four weeks considered carefully a declaration of rights claiming for the people of America "a free and exclusive power of legislation in their provincial legislatures where their rights could alone be preserved in all cases of taxation and internal polity." They declared that they would never permit themselves to be deprived of certain other rights, demanding the repeal of those acts of Parliament by which these had been infringed. They then formed an association for preventing commercial intercourse with Great Britain and charged the committees of correspondence to inspect the imports at all custom-houses. Three addresses were prepared, one to the king, one to the people of Great Britain, the last to the people of America. After appointing the loth of May, 1775, for the meeting of a second Congress, inviting Canada and Florida to join them in that meeting, the Congress adjourned on the 26th of October.

The reception given these proceedings in England was exactly such as Witherspoon had intimated. Chatham might declare the papers of the Congress equal to any state papers ever composed, but he and his friends were unable to change the mind of the House of Commons, which answered the appeals of the Congress by resolving to send io,000 troops under General Howe to suppress the rebellious colony of Massachusetts. That Howe had declared himself a friend of America and, perhaps sincerely, believed he might be received as the bearer of Lord North's olive branch, did not smooth the feelings of the Americans. The idea of the ministry seemed to be that this method would appease the aroused colonists and save the pride of England. During all this time the men of America were meeting almost daily on the village drill- grounds, and collecting arms and ammunition. New Jersey was not behind the other colonies in this respect, nor Somerset County lacking in military zeal. When news of the engagements at Lexington and Concord spread over the land and troops from every colony instantly began the march to Boston, some of Witherspoon's students hastened to enlist, one of them his own son James who, however, had been graduated in 177o. Another son, John, of the class of 1773, had studied medicine and became a surgeon in the Continental army, serving from 1776 until near the close of the war. On the 10th of May, 1775, the day that the second Congress assembled at Philadelphia, Ticonderoga was captured and the Congress were under the necessity of providing, not for a possible, but an actual war. The temper of the Congress was shown by the choice of John Hancock as president, upon whose head a price had been set by the king, and in appointing George Washington Commander-in-chief of the Continental forces assembled and gathering at Boston. There on the 17th of June, before Washington could arrive, the battle of Bunker Hill was fought, a dearly bought victory for the British, who began to realize that their task would not be so easy as the confident General Gage had imagined. During the summer of this year Witherspoon worked hard at the effort to furnish the five companies of minutemen allotted to Somerset County and in nominating officers for them. He did not yet feel justified in becoming a member of the New Jersey Congress which met at Trenton in October. He remained at Princeton endeavouring to carry on the college, but with little success. In the prevailing excitement few students attended college and it was impossible to hold a meeting of the trustees, many of whom were members of committees of correspondence for their several counties.

Little fighting was done during the summer and the following winter, except in Canada. Washington strengthened his positions about Boston without any serious conflict of arms with the British, but pursued such fine tactics that the British were obliged to evacuate the city in March. But Witherspoon was alert in his own sphere and took part in the war of pamphlets, although not so conspicuously as did some others. In January Thomas Paine, held in odium and undeserved horror for his infidel writings, published a pamphlet called "Common Sense" in which, with coarse language and vulgar invective, he defended the American cause. Although not finely written, it was an able paper. Washington said that it "worked a powerful change in the minds of many men." A hundred thousand copies were quickly sold, and its influence was undoubted. Witherspoon was magnanimous enough to acknowledge its merits while he criticised the style of it. And when an attack was made upon it by another pamphlet, "Plain Truth," the energetic president of Princeton took up his caustic pen to defend "Common Sense." He wastes no words in coming to the heart of Paine's argument—who, says Witherspoon, "wrote it to shew that we ought not to seek or wait for a reconciliation which in his opinion is now become both impracticable and unprofitable, but to establish a fixed regular government and provide for ourselves. 'Plain Truth,' on the contrary, never attempts to shew that there is the least probability of obtaining reconciliation on such terms as will preserve and secure our liberties; but has exerted all his little force to prove that such is the strength of Great Britain that it will be in vain for us to resist at all. I will refer it to the impartial judgment of all who have read this treatise, whether the just and proper inference from his reasoning is not that we ought immediately to send an embassy with ropes about our necks, to make a full and humble surrender of ourselves and all our property to the disposal of the parent state. This they have formally and explicitly demanded of us, and this with equal clearness we have determined we will never do. The question then is this: Shall we make resistance with the greatest force, as rebel subjects of a government which we acknowledge, or as independent states against an usurped power which we detest and abhor?" This is Witherspoon's first public declaration in favour of independence.

On the 17th of May, in conformity with the suggestion of Congress already mentioned, he preached a sermon on "The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men." He began by saying, "There is not a greater evidence either of the reality or power of religion than a firm belief in God's universal presence. The ambition of mistaken princes, the cunning and cruelty of oppressive and corrupt ministers, and even the inhumanity of brutal soldiers, however dreadful, shall finally promote the glory of God." "If your cause is just, if your principles are pure, if your conduct is prudent you need not fear the multitude of opposing hosts. If your cause is just you may look with confidence to the Lord and entreat Him to plead it as your own. You are all my witnesses that this is the first time of my introducing any political subject into the pulpit. At this season, however, it is not only lawful but necessary, and I willingly embrace the opportunity of declaring my opinion, without any hesitation, that the cause in which America is now in arms is the cause of justice, of liberty and of human nature. So far as we have hitherto proceeded I am satisfied that the con-federacy of the colonies has not been the effect of pride, resentment, or sedition, but of a deep and general conviction that our civil and religious liberties, and consequently, in a great measure, the temporal and eternal happiness of us and of our posterity depended on this issue."

Keenly aware of the necessity of union and executive authority he said, "If persons of every rank instead of implicitly complying with the orders of those whom they themselves have chosen to direct, will needs judge every measure over again, if different classes of men intermix their little private views, if local, provincial pride and jealousy arise, you are doing a greater injury to the common cause than you are aware of." "He is the best friend to American liberty who is most sincere and active in promoting pure and undefiled religion." "Whoever is an avowed enemy to God I scruple not to call an enemy to his country."

Nothing is gained, he thinks, by railing at the English "as so many barbarous savages. Many of their actions have probably been worse than their intentions. I do not refuse sub-mission to their unjust claims because they are corrupt or profligate, although probably many of them are so, but because they are men, and therefore liable to all the selfish bias inseparable from human nature." "If, on account of their distance and ignorance of our situation they could not conduct their quarrel with propriety for one year, how can they give direction and vigour to every department of our civil constitutions from age to age?"

The sermon was published with a dedication to John Hancock, President of Congress, ac-companied by an address to the natives of Scotland residing in America. There was some necessity for this. Scotch merchants of Norfolk, Virginia, had refused to enter into the non-importation agreement, and in South Carolina Scotchmen had taken up arms for the king. A printer of Glasgow, Scotland, issued the sermon with embellishments wherein the famous champion of ecclesiastical rights is scarrified as a firebrand, rebel and traitor.


Witherspoon had been active in the various meetings of his county almost from the begin-ning, and had attended one provincial assembly, as I have already stated. On the 11th of June, 1776, he took his seat as a member of the Provincial Congress of New Jersey, at Burling-ton, and opened the session with prayer.

The first question of urgent importance to come before this session of the legislature was a letter from the Continental Congress suggesting each colony's quota of militia to be furnished to serve until the following December, New Jersey's number being 3,300, to reinforce the army in New York, now threatened by the enemy. The British were coming close to New Jersey and Washington followed the letter of Congress by an earnest recommendation that New Jersey immediately carry this resolution into effect. A committee to do this was promptly appointed and did its work well.

The fear of tyranny by a few over the many, the dread of power falling into the hands of a small number of men, prompted some of these Jerseymen to move that two-thirds be a quorum of the Provincial Congress. Witherspoon combated that idea. It was difficult to secure so large a quorum, it would be easy for a few disaffected men to stay away and thus prevent the transaction of business, and he himself believed that in such times it was best to dismiss such fears and lodge the power in the hands of a capable few rather than in the keeping of many. A majority was declared to be a quorum and business proceeded with dispatch.

The royal governor of New Jersey was Will-iam Templeton Franklin, son of the famous Benjamin Franklin. As a servant of the crown he endeavoured to fulfill his duties with, fidelity. He was a resolute man and the deputies found that he intended to ignore them. He had appointed a meeting of the General Assembly of the province for the zoth of June. The members of this Congress were irregularly chosen and Governor Franklin refused to recognize them. They therefore adopted a series of resolutions declaring that the governor's proclamation ought not to be obeyed, being "in direct contempt and violation of the resolve of the Continental Congress"; that Franklin was an enemy to the liberties of this country; and that his salary should cease. The Congress ordered the various treasurers to account to the Congress for all moneys in their hands. Then Col. Nathaniel Heard was ordered to take a copy of the resolution to Governor Franklin, and in order that the affair "be conducted with all the delicacy and tenderness which the nature of the business will admit" request him to sign a parole, promising to remain in the province and to keep his engagements with fidelity. Governor Franklin did not appreciate the "delicacy and tenderness" of the Congress and not only refused to sign the parole but ordered Colonel Heard to go about his business. The good colonel thereupon promptly placed a guard of sixty men about the house and sent a courier post haste to Burlington asking for further instructions from the Congress. He was ordered to bring the governor to Burlington at once, and a notice of their action was sent to the Continental Congress asking that body if it would not, in their opinion, be "for the general good of the United Colonies" if Governor Franklin should be removed to some other colony where he "would be capable of doing less mischief."

When Franklin appeared under Colonel Heard's guard before the New Jersey Assembly he denounced them hotly as a rebellious body, so that some of the deputies lost their tempers. Witherspoon so far forgot himself on that warm June day as to taunt Franklin with his illegitimate birth, a circumstance for which the governor was plainly not responsible. Witherspoon regretted his hasty and indelicate language but never found himself in a position where he could apologize to Franklin in person. On the 10th of June a letter was received from the Continental Congress recommending the Jerseymen to examine the governor and if they conclude that he should be confined the Congress will direct the place of his confinement. He was finally sent to Connecticut to become the charge of Governor Trumbull, never submitting to the American Government. His last days were spent in honourable retirement in England.

On Friday the 21st of June the New Jersey Congress resolved to form a government of their own, but the committee to prepare a draft of the constitution was not appointed until the 24th. In the meantime, on Saturday the 22d, five delegates were appointed to represent New Jersey in the Continental Congress, of whom Witherspoon was one. It has generally been supposed, and has often been publicly' said, that Witherspoon had much to do with framing the constitution of New Jersey. I find no evidence to support this statement. He was not a member of the committee, which was appointed two days after his election to the Continental Congress. It is true that he did not arrive at Philadelphia until the 28th. If the committee on the constitution desired to consult him they might have had opportunity, but they were not appointed until late in the afternoon of Monday the 24th. It is gratuitous to suppose that Witherspoon remained at Burlington long after his appointment, and quite likely that, before proceeding to Philadelphia, he went to Princeton, which would account for the interval of almost a week between his appointment and his arrival at Philadelphia. That he was a slow traveller is very evident from his almost invariable tardiness. Even on the supposition that he remained at Burlington to advise the committee on the constitution, of which I have been unable to find the slightest evidence, he could not at the very longest, have spent over two days with them. It seems, therefore, that with every desire to give Witherspoon credit for all his work, he cannot be said to have had any great share in the actual preparation of the constitution of New Jersey. On July 2, 1776, the day of the adoption of the constitution he was sitting in the Continental Congress at Philadelphia, taking part in the debates upon the resolution for independence which had been brought before the Congress eighteen days previously. His instructions by the New Jersey Congress empowered him and his associates to vote for independence if they should consider it necessary and expedient, promising the support of the whole force of the colony, but "always observing that, whatever plan of confederacy you enter into, the regulating the internal police of this province is to be reserved to the colony legislature."

On the day of the entrance of the New Jersey delegation into Independence Hall, as it has ever since been called, the postponed resolution came up for consideration. A further postponement was suggested so that the newly arrived members might learn the arguments that had been made upon the question. Witherspoon brushed aside this plea, declaring that the subject was not new, he needed no more time, nor further instructions; he was ready to vote at once. It was decided, however, to postpone the vote until Monday, the 1st of July. On that day, after a Sabbath whose peace had probably been irksome to some of the eager members, the men upon whose decision rested such momentous consequences, which they fully appreciated, assembled again in the hall. The president of the Congress, John Hancock, stated the order of the day, and the secretary, Charles Thompson, read once more the resolution for independence.

"For a moment," it is said, "there was profound silence." Then John Adams rose in his place. The hush of that little assembly was so intense as to be almost painful to the over-strained men, but it was followed by a speech, remembered for its impetuosity and power, which seemed to carry everything before it, declaring that "independence was the first wish and the last instruction of the communities they represented." John Dickinson, celebrated as the author of "Letters of a Pennsylvania Farmer," fulfilled his promise to the Assembly of Pennsylvania, although he overlooked the popular feeling expressed in conventions and mass meetings, and spoke at length against the resolution. His patriotism and devotion to the American cause were never questioned, but when he said the country was not ripe for it, Witherspoon broke in upon the speaker exclaiming, "Not ripe, sir! In my judgment we are not only ripe but rotting. Almost every colony has dropped from its parent stem and your own province needs no more sunshine to mature it." The debate continued. On Tuesday the 2d of July the Continental Congress finally voted to sever the connection of the American colonies from Great Britain. A committee, of which Thomas Jefferson was chairman, was appointed to draw up a declaration embodying the decision and the reasons for it. This was brought in on the 4th to be signed by the delegates. Although the resolution had already been adopted there was some hesitation about finally signing it. Then Witherspoon rose. One writer describing the scene calls him an aged patriarch, a term hardly applicable to a man only fifty-four years of age, with twenty years of active life still before him. Although his hair was tinged with gray and his appearance one of great dignity, he could hardly be called venerable. The only clergyman in the Congress, of most impressive manner and acknowledged learning, he received marked attention as he proceeded in a brief speech of great eloquence to give his opinion. "There is a tide in the affairs of men, a nick of time. We perceive it now before us. To hesitate is to consent to our own slavery. That noble instrument upon your table, which insures immortality to its author, should be subscribed this very morning by every pen in this house. He that will not respond to its accents and strain every nerve to carry into effect its provisions is unworthy the name of free-man.

"For my own part, of property I have some, of reputation more. That reputation is staked, that property is pledged, on the issue of this contest; and although these gray hairs must soon descend into the sepulchre, I would infinitely rather that they descend thither by the hand of the executioner than desert at this crisis the sacred cause of my country."

The declaration was signed and the colonies finally and forever committed to independence. Everywhere the people received the news with greatest joy, ringing the bells, firing their guns, and building bonfires. The tension was past and great relief was felt.


The Congress settled down resolutely to the serious business of providing for the army, making strong alliances with foreign nations, and securing recognition from them. Ten days after the declaration was signed Lord Howe, whose brother was in command of the British forces in America, landed at Staten Island where General Howe was awaiting his arrival before beginning the attack upon New York. It was announced that Lord Howe had come as the bearer of an olive branch. The anxious Congress and people feared lest some of the timorous or time-serving Americans might be induced to withdraw their support of independence. Every state had its British faction, and New Jersey had been made aware of the presence of many tories by petitions from various townships, urging the Provincial Congress not to break loose from Great Britain. That was before the fatal fourth of July. Even later, however, there were not wanting men who clung to the hope that Lord Howe might propose terms which the Ameri-cans could accept. Before beginning active military operations, he sent a message to Washington addressing him as a private gentleman. Washington refused to receive it; and after repeated attempts to persuade him to confer, Lord Howe finally made an attack upon the American army on Long Island. The story of Washington's defeat, his masterly retreat and escape without losing a man or a gun, on the night of the 29th of August, is already familiar to every American schoolboy. Among those who had been captured in the battle was General Sullivan, a brave and capable officer. Lord Howe thought that a message to Congress, borne by General Sullivan, might receive some attention. General Sullivan, therefore, having given his parole, appeared before the Congress, with the promise that Lord Howe would use his influence with the Parliament to have the obnoxious measures repealed, but that he would like to confer with some of the members of the Congress as private gentlemen. Poor Sullivan was roundly rated by John Adams for consenting to bear such a message. The proposal was debated hotly by the Congress. Some were in favour of granting the desired interview. None of them would listen to any basis but the recognition of independence. Witherspoon spoke strongly against the proposal. He felt that nothing would be gained by it. "It is plain," he said, "that absolute, unconditional submission is what they require us to agree to, or mean to force us to. The king has not laid aside his personal rancour; it is rather increasing every day." "It has been admitted that there is not the least reason to expect that any correspondence we can have with him will tend to peace." "Lord Howe speaks of a decisive blow not being yet struck; as if this cause depended upon one battleI Neither loss nor disgrace worth mentioning has befallen us. In short, sir, from anything that has happened I see not the least reason for our attending to this delusive message. On the contrary, I think it is the very worst time that could be chosen for us, as it will be looked upon as the effect of fear, and diffuse the same spirit, in some degree, through different ranks of men. The tories, our secret enemies, I readily admit, are earnest for our treating. They are exulting in the prospect of it; they are spreading innumerable lies to forward it. It has brought them from their lurking holes; they are taking liberty to say things in consequence of it which they durst not have said before. In one word, if we set this negotiation on foot, it will give new force and vigour to all their seditious machinations. In cases where the expediency of a measure is doubtful, if I had an opportunity of knowing what my enemies wished me to do, I would not be easily induced to follow their advice.

"As to the Whigs and friends of independence, I am well persuaded that multitudes of them are already clear in their minds, that the conference should be utterly rejected; and to those who are in doubt about its nature, nothing more will be requisite than a full and clear in-formation of the state of the case which I hope will be granted them.

"As to the army I cannot help being of opinion, that nothing will more effectually deaden the operations of war than what is proposed. We do not ourselves expect any benefit from it, but they will. And they will possibly impute our conduct to fear and jealousy as to the issue of the cause; which will add to their present little discouragement, and produce a timorous and despondent spirit."

It was decided, however, against the opinion of Witherspoon and others, to send a committee to confer with Lord Howe. Franklin, Rut-ledge and doughty John Adams accordingly repaired to Staten Island, where they were most courteously treated by Lord Howe. But as they demanded recognition of independence as a preliminary, before entering upon any negotiations for peace, the conference came to nothing.

Shortly after this the British took possession of New York, and, in a series of operations in which Washington displayed his great military genius, despite the necessity of retiring in the face of a superior force, Lord Howe compelled the Americans to begin their retreat across the Jerseys. The interference of Congress in ordering General Greene to hold Fort Washington at all hazards lost that fort and its reinforced garrison, a disaster which, added to General Lee's treachery, almost brought complete ruin to the American cause. It should have taught the members of Congress what Witherspoon always earnestly advocated, that the commander-in-chief should never suffer interference in military operations by the civilians of the Congress, whose duty was not only to confide in his wisdom, but to respond to his demands for supplies as fully and speedily as possible, and give him a free hand in his direction of the campaign. It was long, however, before Congress learned the wisdom of letting Washington alone.

In those trying days personal anxieties beset Witherspoon. His two elder sons were in the army. James Witherspoon was with the northern army, which had retreated to Ticonderoga. He wrote to his father that he and a companion had gone through the forest to St. John's on a scouting expedition. The place they found in possession of the enemy and they were in great danger of being captured. Finding hiding- places in the woods, however, they succeeded in eluding their pursuers; but, having lost their way, they nearly starved, having but one biscuit apiece for three days. Witherspoon, however, devoted himself assiduously to the work assigned him, serving, it is said, on more committees than any other man in Congress.

While Washington was engaged in operations about New York, the Congress set about doing what it could to supply the army. Teamsters charged extortionate prices. Wagons and horses were scarce. The army was in great need. The situation became so serious that Witherspoon and two others were appointed a committee, early in October of 1776, to consider a plan for providing for this part of the public service so that "the demands of the army might be speedily met and all oppression by private persons effectually prevented." Eight days later he was added to the committee on clothing, whose business it was to provide the soldiers with clothing and blankets. It is impossible now to trace the work of these committees. The stories of the sufferings of the Continental army due to scarcity of food and lack of clothing prove that the committee was not able to meet all the demands. But, on the other hand, such information as can now be obtained gives evidence of Witherspoon's indefatigable efforts to obtain the needed supplies, and his appointment on these committees is a tribute to his practical ability in fields where theologians are not supposed to be competent. His was a many-sided nature. Washington thanked him both by letter and in person on several occasions for his efficient services to the army. In a country as thickly settled as the North during the civil war in the sixties of the nineteenth
century, under a government whose organization may fairly be supposed to have gained some ability, and with facilities for transportation vastly superior to that existing at the time of the Revolution, the armies of the North were often poorly supplied. It is greatly to the credit of the Scotch clergyman that he so far succeeded in his efforts as to receive the thanks of Washington.

One of the most important committees of Congress was that known as the Board of War. A section of this board was known as the secret committee of correspondence, to which were entrusted the communications with foreign powers, whose assistance against England might be secured, although they were at peace with that country. France was the traditional enemy of Great Britain, and her foreign minister, Vergennes, had sent to America large sums of money for the purchase of arms. The Congress had appointed Silas Deane its European agent, and in October, 1776, he was joined by Arthur Lee, who had been for many years the English agent of Virginia. At the same time Franklin was sent to Paris, and his place on the secret committee was taken by Witherspoon, who remained a member of it as long as there was any need of secrecy in the relations between France and America. France was at peace with England, but was ready to assist her foes in every possible way. The delicacy of the position of the secret committee is apparent. Direct correspondence with France was out of the question, and this was carried on through the agents and commissioners of Congress. The secret committee urged upon Franklin to secure from the French government the right for men-of-war and privateers to carry their prizes into French ports and there dispose of them. It was against all principles of neutrality to permit this and might bring France into war with England, as indeed it did at last. Letters between the Congress and the foreign governments went by various routes, sometimes direct to France in an American man-of-war; sometimes by way of St. Eustatius or Martinique, in the French West Indies, either on neutral trading vessels or privateers. In order that these letters might not fall into the hands of the British they were addressed to merchants or other private citizens. Military supplies from France were shipped to similar destinations and afterwards transhipped to America in merchant vessels or men-of-war, which would land at such American ports as were not blockaded by British ships. Flints, powder, blankets, arms, saltpetre and other cargoes were landed at ports all along the coast from Maine to Florida and from them carried overland. To meet the great expense of these voyages and cargoes, consignments of American goods were often carried to be sold in foreign lands. These were, of course, liable to capture. The secret committee were compelled to trust the details to their agents both at home and abroad, sending men to receive the cargoes on arrival in America and notifying their correspondents of shipments. Tobacco, rice, indigo, wheat and flour were in great demand in France and brought good profits.

Letters were often lost. Silas Deane, the agent in Paris, complains of the committee's failure to write. Carmichael, in Amsterdam, cheered the Congress by the information that the Dutch stoutly informed England that their ports were open to the commerce of all nations on equal terms. America might secure a loan, he wrote, if such success should attend her military operations as to make it evident that independence might likely be secured, or if either France or Spain should acknowledge America's independence. A Swiss banker, Grand, assured him that his banking house would accept American notes at a fair discount.

Information about America was much sought after, its geography, rivers, mountains, wild game, agriculture, industries, seaports. This information must be supplied if possible. The agents, especially Silas Deane, were relied on for credentials of French and other foreign officers coming to seek service in the American armies. For some reason, the committee were unable to get their letters through to their distressed and embarrassed agent at Paris. And the greatest credit is due to him for his untiring and successful efforts in the service of his country. Without frequent instructions, sometimes not hearing from the committee for months, he was thrown upon his own judgment. In 1777, having made offers to French officers unauthorized by Congress he was recalled. One of these officers was de Kalb, who afterwards rendered such valuable aid to Washington, and another more famous, was Lafayette.

Witherspoon could not give all his time in Congress to the work of the secret committee. On the 22d of November he was one of three sent to confer with Washington upon the military situation. The commander-in-chief had asked for authority to appoint officers without the formal approval of Congress. The civilians, fearful of a military tyranny, even from one so unambitious of power as Washington, jealously guarded their control of the army. Witherspoon did not share this dread. He felt that a commander in the field must be free, as far as possible untrammelled by a civilian body like Congress, whose main duty was to supply the necessary means of support. He so far prevailed upon his associates that they sent with the committee blank commissions for the general to fill out at his discretion with the names of those whom he desired to take the places of the officers whose terms had expired. Witherspoon fulfilled the duty and returned to Philadelphia just in time to join the Congress in their flight to Baltimore to escape the British. Washington, however, saved Philadelphia for the time by his clever stroke at Trenton, his victory at Princeton and escape to the heights about Morristown.

The first letter, now extant, sent by the secret committee to 'Franklin, Deane and Lee after October, 1776, was written December 21st, from Baltimore. It gave a hopeful account of the war and thanked the commissioners for their labours. If a loan can be procured, it should be done in order to keep up the credit of the paper currency. Two million pounds sterling at six per cent. is the amount Congress authorizes Deane to secure. On the same date Robert Morris wrote from Philadelphia giving a gloomy account of the war, the fear of the people, the boldness of the tories and the information that Philadelphia is well-nigh depopulated of all but the Quakers.

For the next few months Witherspoon did no work on the secret committee. In December he went to Princeton to look after his private affairs. In the middle of the night of the 6th he was roused by news of the approach of the British. Hastily summoning his family and servants, they all escaped under cover of the darkness saving only so much of their valuables "as could be carried on one team." His house was left in charge of Mr. Montgomery, a tutor in the college. Although the British ransacked the house and carried off all the cattle from the place, his books were preserved and little damage done to the furniture. That his life was in danger is quite evident from the treatment of another clergyman, whom the British mistook for Witherspoon. Coming upon Rev. Mr. Rosborough near Washington's crossing they " pierced him through and through with their bayonets and mangled him in the most shocking manner," although he had denied the identity and "fell upon his knees and begged for his life." So Witherspoon wrote to his son. "Some of the people of Princeton," he added, "say they thought they were killing me and boasted that they had done it when they came back."

The intense feeling of hatred and enmity with which the British regarded Witherspoon is shown in an account of an incident said to have occurred in July, 1776. The story is told by Dr. McLean in his history of the college, and is quoted from Frank Moore's "Diary." "Just before the thunder-storm last week the troops on Staten Island were preparing figures of Generals Washington, Lee and Putnam, and Dr. Witherspoon, for burning in the night. The figures had all been erected on a pile of fagots, the generals facing the doctor and he represented as reading to them an address. All of them, excepting General Washington, had been tarred and prepared for the feathers when the storm came on and obliged the troops to find shelter. In the evening, when the storm was over, a large body of the troops gathered around the figures which, being prepared, were set on fire amid the most terrible imprecations against the rebels. One of the party seeing that Generals Putnam and Lee and Dr. Witherspoon burned furiously and were almost consumed, while General Washington was still standing with the tar burning off, ran away frightened and was soon followed by most of his companions. Next morning the figure was found as good as it ever was, a fact which caused a good deal of fear among the Hessian troops, most of whom were superstitious, and it was not until some of the officers told them the cause of its not burning that they appeared contented. The reason was that having no tar on it before the rain commenced, it became saturated with water and the tar only would burn."

While the Congress sat at Baltimore Wither-spoon visited the military prison in that city. He found it in a wretched condition, unfit for even the worst enemies of the country. He urged Congress to remedy the abuse and was placed upon a committee to do so. With what success he laboured we cannot learn. What a Tory satirist thought of the action and of Witherspoon in particular, is shown in the following lines by Jonathan Odell:

"Known in the pulpit by seditious toils, Grown into consequence by civil broils, Three times he tried, and miserably failed To overset the laws—the fourth prevailed. Whether as tool he acted or as guide, Is yet a doubt—his conscience must decide. Meanwhile, unhappy Jersey mourns her thrall, Ordained by vilest of the vile to fall; To fall by Witherspoon!—O name, the curse Of sound religion and disgrace of verse. Member of Congress we must hail him next 'Come out of Babylon' is now his text. Fierce as the fiercest, foremost of the first, He'd rail at kings, with venom well nigh burst; Not uniformly grand—for some bye-end, To dirtiest acts of treason he'd descend; I've known him seek the dungeon dark as night, Imprisoned Tories to convert or fright; Whilst to myself I've hummed in dismal tune, I'd rather be a dog than Witherspoon. Be patient, reader—for the issue trust; His day will come—remember, heaven is justI "

Such diatribes were characteristic of Revolutionary literature. We shall see Witherspoon himself dipping his pen in bitter vituperation. For the present he continued at his work in Congress. His committee for regulating the impressing of wagons into the public service worked as faithfully as they could but made no report. On the 19th of January, 1777, his claim of $105.78 for wood taken by the troops during their wintry visit a month before was ordered paid. Shortly after this he went to Princeton and from there to Pequea to bring home his wife and daughter, writing from there. to his son David, that they were all well. By the 12th of February he was again at Baltimore, but left for Princeton twelve days later. March 19th finds him in Congress again upon a committee to examine charges made by Silas Deane against Dr. Williamson, an American citizen, whom Deane accused of treachery. The committee carefully sifted the charges without discovering any taint of treason.

Early in the spring of 1777 Congress was again in Philadelphia, but through the summer Witherspoon was seldom present. September found him present in time to join the others in that rapid, panicky ride to Easton, Pennsylvania, when Witherspoon's horse rode at an unaccustomed gallop, his rider being assured that a squadron of British cavalry were close behind. Nor was Easton comfortable, the British following them there, and even towards Lancaster, through which city they passed to their long wintry session at York.

In Congress he continued his unremitting service on various committees. One of these conferred with General Gates as to charges made by that officer against General Schuyler whose command of the Northern Army Gates coveted. The committee discovered the motives of Gates and exonerated Schuyler, which so angered the former that he forgot himself, or rather betrayed his real self, refused to serve in a subordinate capacity, wrote his infamous letter to Washington, and behaved so outrageously before the committee that he was turned out of the room. Witherspoon never had any sympathy with Gates, nor with that meddling opposition to Washington which was for a time kept alive by the Adamses and Lees. Later, also, in 1779, he was one of those who voted to retain Schuyler in the service, one of the finest generals and noblest gentlemen in America. The news of Burgoyne's surrender reached the Congress at York before the arrival of the courier whom Gates had sent with his report. When the tardy trooper finally arrived some one suggested that Congress should present him with a sword. Witherspoon interposed, saying in his Scotch brogue, "I think ye'll better gie the lad a pair o' spurs." Nevertheless he joined the others in bestowing the sword and in voting to Gates a medal and the thanks of Congress.

While Washington was at Valley Forge keeping a close watch on Howe, shut up in Philadelphia, Witherspoon, with a committee of Congress visited the army by order of Congress "to consult with the general as to the best plans for preserving the health and discipline of the troops." As a result of that visit Congress could do little. How far they fully appreciated the situation is shown in a letter written to the commissioners abroad in January, 1778. "General Washington's army is in huts to the westward of the Schuylkill, refreshing and recruiting during the winter." Witherspoon was nevertheless indefatigable in his all too fruitless efforts to relieve the situation at Valley Forge. Congress was helpless in the face of conditions which made it well-nigh im-possible to furnish supplies from a sparsely settled country where there were few roads, the better part of the population unable even in times of peace to produce a large surplus of grain and cattle.

Letters from the commissioners covering their labours at foreign courts continued to pour in upon Congress. These naturally fell to the committee on foreign affairs. No more interesting correspondence can be found relating to the Revolution. But its mass of details would only burden a work like this. The committee of foreign affairs was not well organized. Irregularity of attendance left many letters unanswered, to the excusable exasperation of the commissioners. But those gentlemen were not left in doubt as to the needs of America. They were urged to use all their ability to secure money. Until 1781, when Robert Morris became Superintendent of Finance, there was practically no other financial policy than to make requisitions on the states which were never honoured in full, sometimes for money, sometimes for supplies. Not infrequently during the entire conduct of the war, a state government paid the quota of money demanded by Congress in military supplies at its own estimate. Paper currency was issued again and again before Morris took charge. Witherspoon and Lovell for the committee of foreign affairs wrote to Izard, the commissioner to Italy, "Our apprehensions of danger to our liberties are reduced to the one circumstance of the depreciation of our currency from the quantity which we have been obliged to issue." Izard is ordered to use every exertion to secure a foreign loan.

Another item of small importance entrusted to the committee was to direct the commissioners at Paris "to apply to the court of France for an extension of the leave of absence to such French officers as may be employed in the service of such state." But the disorganized condition of the committee continued until at last it became necessary to place the foreign affairs in the hands of a secretary, Robert R. Livingston being chosen to that office in September, 1781.

For good or for ill the thirteen colonies were united in a war for independence, but this union was not regarded by any of them as permanent. Each clung more or less tenaciously to its independence of the others. The evils of this sentiment weakened the discipline of the army, hampered the operations of finance and distracted the diplomacy of the Congress. Without a centralized authority there could be no efficient service in any department. But the best that could be done was to adopt the Articles of Confederation which bound the colonies loosely together during the war, but was not sufficient to unite them after peace was won. The question came before Congress in the fall of 1777. Witherspoon was heartily in favour of a strong and permanent confederation which was opposed by several of the colonies, notably South Carolina, New York, and Massachusetts, under Samuel Adams. These states clung to their independence. As early as July 30th, Witherspoon had said to John Adams that there must be a confederation if the object of the war was to be attained. From the outset he advocated a strong executive, and deprecated the loose methods which dissipated the energy of the government. All of the delegates felt the need of union for the purposes of the war. Witherspoon plead for a permanent union. Warmly contending for the preservation of the separate states, he plead equally for their close and abiding union. When the various articles came to be voted on he agreed that each state should have one vote, not as some of the larger states would have liked, that the voting power of each state should be proportionate to its population or extent. When it came to determining "the quota to be paid for the common welfare and defense," he supported the proposition that the quota should be proportionately to the value of the land. With equal consistency he opposed the measure which was adopted fixing the number of delegates to represent each state at not less than two nor more than seven. In his opinion, since each state could have but one vote, each state should determine for itself how many delegates to send to Congress. He maintained that enough would be sent to protect the interests of the state, and no more than it deemed necessary or cared to pay for.

But these Articles of Confederation were too loose, even during the war. In 1780 Washington wrote that there must be a closer union. "We can no longer drudge along in the old way." Of the evils of the system as felt in the army he said, "There can be no radical cure till Congress be vested by the several states with full and ample powers to enact laws for general purposes. In February, 1781, Witherspoon proposed that Congress assume the power to regulate commerce and lay duties on imports. The proposal was negatived, but Congress finally agreed that the several states be re-quested to vest Congress with power to levy a duty of five per cent. on articles of foreign growth and manufacture. This was the first tariff legislation of the American Congress, al-though it never was fully enforced. It was not until March, 1781, that the Articles of Confederation were ratified by the last of the states, Maryland, whose neighbour, Virginia, had been one of the steadiest supporters of a strong union, under the lead of Madison, who had been a pupil of Witherspoon at Princeton.

We are fortunate in having a speech by Witherspoon on this subject. Among other things he said, "The absolute necessity of union, to the vigour and success of those measures on which we are already entered, is felt and confessed by every one of us, without exception; so far, indeed, that those who have expressed their fears or suspicions of the existing confederacy proving abortive have yet agreed in saying that there must and shall be a confederacy for the purposes of, and till the finishing of this war. So far is well; and so far it is pleasing to hear them express their sentiments. But I entreat gentlemen to consider how far the giving up all hopes of a lasting confederacy among these states, for their future security and improvement, will have an effect upon the stability and efficacy of even the temporary confederacy which all acknowledged to be necessary? I am fully persuaded that when it ceases to be generally known, that the delegates of the provinces consider a lasting union impracticable, it will greatly derange the minds of the people and weaken their hands in defense of their country."

He was urgent for an immediate confederacy early in the war. "Every day's delay, though it adds to the necessity, augments the difficulty and takes from the inclination." He looked to the future, saying, " It is not impossible that in future times all the states in one quarter of the globe may see it proper by some plan of union, to perpetuate security and peace: and sure I am, a well-planned confederacy among the states of America may hand down the blessings of peace and public order to many generations." "Every argument from honour, interest, safety and necessity conspire in pressing us to a confederacy."

In 1777 the committee of Foreign Affairs needed a secretary. Because of his advocacy of independence some one suggested Thomas Paine. Witherspoon opposed Paine, not on account of his infidel opinions, for Wither-spoon had commended some of Paine's writings, notably, "Common Sense," but because of his distrust of Paine's character saying to John Adams that he was a drunkard and unreliable. Paine was elected, but gave such poor satisfaction that he was requested to resign.

It was later than this that Witherspoon wrote the piece of invective to which I referred. From the beginning of the agitation that culminated in the Declaration of Independence no man in America had been more fervent in his prayers for the triumph of the cause than Rev. Jacob Duch & pastor of the united parishes of Christ Church and St. Peter's, Philadelphia. So earnest was he that Congress invited him to open that body with prayer. But when the army of the colonists suffered those depressing reverses which withered the courage of the shallow-soiled type to which Duche belonged, he lost heart. When, finally, the British entered Philadelphia, he opened to them the church in which he had prayed and preached so fervently for the Americans and used his eloquence to laud the British government. Duche was the author of a series of letters purporting to come from a young Englishman bearing the astonishing name of Tamoc Caspipina in which things American are described for titled correspondents at home with all admiration for the new land and everything in it, especially the representatives of the Church of England. But the letter which he wrote to George Washington after the British occupation of Philadelphia, urging the general to persuade Congress to yield, or if Congress will not yield, then to use his power as head of the army to compel them to submission, was his most fatal error. Wash-ington promptly sent the letter to Congress. Duche's somersault disgusted and enraged the hardy patriots. Witherspoon gave vent to his scorn in a series of questions and answers which form a list of epithets which exhaust the vocabulary of opprobrium, which he called Caspipina's Catechism. Witherspoon was not suspected of being its author, but I found the manuscript of it among his papers.

Q. Who is a Fox ?

A. The Rev. Jacob Duchę.

Q. What is your reason for that opinion?

A. Because he walks the street in the habit of a clergyman with the gestures of a petit maitre.

He is a turncoat, because after being chaplain of Congress he entered the service of Howe; a robber deserving of the gallows because he pocketed the pay of Congress when he was an enemy to their cause; he was a hypocrite, a fool, a rogue, a blasphemer, a pedant; a sycophant, because he licked the feet of the New England delegates; a conceited creature, a liar and an ass. Then the question is asked, "How comes it that so many inconsistencies meet in one man?" It seems to be unanswerable except on one supposition. "I can give no other account of it but that if God Almighty has given a man a topsy-turvy understanding no created power will ever be able to set it right end uppermost." In answer to the last question: "What is your opinion of him now?" the reply is, "That he is a wretch without principle, without parts, without prudence, and that by one unexpected effort he has crept up from the grand floor of contempt to the first story of detestation."

Poor Duche departed for England, not having the courage to face his former friends when they returned to Philadelphia. Nor did he appear there again until 1792 when old, paralytic, broken-hearted, he returned to spend the last six years of his life in the city where he had given such an exhibition of strength and weakness, and to be buried beside his wife in St. Peter's churchyard.

Some of the acts of Congress are excusable for many reasons. But it hardly seems possible to justify the action taken by that body in the case of Burgoyne's soldiers. When that unfortunate general surrendered it was agreed between himself and General Gates that his troops, having surrendered their arms and colours and given their parole, as they all did, should be turned over to General Howe and transported to England. From the victorious army and its officers the defeated British and Hessians had received only kindness. But when the colours of a regiment had been discovered hidden in the baggage belonging to it, and when General Howe suggested that it would be easier to disembark the prisoners at Newport than at Boston, Congress took alarm, and suspected that Howe intended to use the soldiers against New York instead of sending them back to England. Congress further ordered that the supplies which had been furnished these troops should be paid for in gold, refusing to accept Continental paper money. When Burgoyne wrote to Gates complaining that his quarters were not comfortable he used the expression "the public faith is broke." Upon this some of the Congressmen took alarm, declaring that if Burgoyne considered the agreement broken he evidently would not abide by it. The result was that while Burgoyne was exchanged and permitted to go home to England his soldiers were never sent away. Witherspoon voted on all the questions relating to the convention with Burgoyne as if he believed the British general had violated its terms. One of the worst incidents connected with the affair was that in which the Congress insisted that the supplies furnished the captives should be paid for in gold, not in the paper currency of the Congress. Whether Witherspoon assented to this feature of the case I cannot say, but the resolutions adopted forbidding the soldiers to debark until they should sign a parole giving a description of their place of abode are in Witherspoon's handwriting, he having been one of the committee to consider the matter.

Through the winter he served on various committees, to inquire into the treatment of prisoners and non-combatants by the enemy, to see about the purchase of salt, to ex-amine letters from various persons, to revise the rules for the business of Congress, to consider the best way of securing clothing for the army and to examine the pay rolls and arrearages of the New Jersey militia. As a result of one of these investigations the clothier-general was ordered to suspend the purchase of clothing. There was extravagance and waste, if not fraud, in this department, and the board of war took up the matter and straightened the affairs. Later he served upon a committee to rectify abuses in the post-office. In the spring he spoke earnestly against the custom of creating unnecessary offices, and especially the method of paying commissions for work done in the public service and in the army, maintaining that the practice led to unnecessary expense and inefficiency. For this method he recommended the substitution of the contract system, which resulted in a reduction of five per cent. in the expenses.

When Robert Morris assumed control of the finances he found his own department and many others burdened with so many useless officials that less than a third were required to transact the business, and the discharge of the others saved great sums of money not only in the salaries but in the more economical service in every way.

Witherspoon was the only clergyman in the Continental Congress and always wore the distinctive dress of his calling. He frequently officiated as chaplain and often preached in one of the Presbyterian churches of Philadelphia. John Adams records his impression of a very excellent sermon "On redeeming time," which he heard with great pleasure in 1777, although he remarks that Witherspoon's memory seemed to be less sure than formerly, which Adams attributes to the necessity of the hasty preparation of his speeches in Congress which he did not have time to write fully and commit to memory. In July, 1778, the question came before Congress whether that body might appoint an ecclesiastic to office. Over the Protestants of that day hung the dread of ecclesiastical domination, and every indication of its possibility was viewed with alarm. Witherspoon, devoted to his own church and uncompromisingly hostile to church establishment in America, did not share the fears of his fellow Congressmen and declared that Congress had no right to inquire into the church relations of its officers.

From his work in Congress he turned in the fall of 1778 to compose one of his pieces of biting sarcasm in an attack upon Benjamin Towne, publisher of the Pennsylvania Evening Post, who had supported the Congress in his paper until the arrival of the British in 1777. Throughout their stay he filled his columns with attacks upon Congress in general and its members and the officers of the army in particular. He courted the favour of General Howe, and conducted the Post as a pro-British organ. Upon the departure of the English and the return of the Congress, Towne, instead of leaving as Galloway, Duche and others did, professed to have returned to the cause of America, and sought to prevent the confiscation of his paper. Witherspoon entertained nothing but contempt for the cowardly printer. His mock recantation was sent to the Fish Kill Gazette where it would be most likely to fall under the notice of the British in New York. It is a covert attack upon James Rivington, publisher of The Royal Gazette of New York. Poor Towne is mercilessly scored and presented as a snivelling coward, with no character nor patriotism, ready to fall in with any man or party, good or bad, who will further his interests. He is made to say, in his recantation that "I never was nor ever pretended to be a man of character, repute or dignity."

An occasion arose in the autumn for testing the hold which Washington had upon the confidence of the Congress. Some time before this he had opposed a suggestion of Congress that prisoners who were willing should be enlisted to serve in the American army. There were numbers of deserters from the British, especially among the Hessians, who were willing to take such service. Washington had opposed this on the very best grounds, and Congress had accepted his view. In the summer of 1778, however, Count Pulaski, the gallant Polish general who had rendered notable service in the American army, formed his famous legion of nondescript men, many of them English and Hessian deserters, reckless fellows, but daring soldiers. They were not easily controlled and often spread terror in the neighbourhood of their quarters, by their bold foraging and riotous ways. Congress wished to call him to account for it, but Witherspoon opposed any interference and supported the advice of Washington who told Congress that despite its contradiction of his previous opinion, and although he didn't like it and thought it bad discipline, he would let it go, considering Pulaski's energy and bravery. Witherspoon's uniform policy in military matters was for Congress to let Washing-ton alone, as far as was possible, in his management of the campaigns.

In the fall of 1779 Witherspoon refused a re-election to Congress on the ground that he could not bear the expense and, more particularly, that he might attend to his private affairs and his duties at the college. Washington was at Morristown with his army. In the spring of 1780, he made requisitions for supplies from the counties of New Jersey. Witherspoon interested himself in furnishing Somerset's quota and received the personal thanks of Washington, who likewise said he did not like to suggest to Congress what Witherspoon suggested to him, namely, that the certificates or receipts given for supplies might be received as taxes, but he promised to do what he could towards having them redeemed in good money.

Witherspoon was again in Congress in the autumn serving on various committees; helping to prepare Dana's commission, as minister to Russia; conferring with the French minister, Gerard, on the subject of Laurens' mission, which involved the terms of peace; looking after the publication of two hundred copies of the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, alliances between the United States and France, and the constitutions of the several states, all to be bound together in boards. His attendance upon the sessions was, however, very irregular. Timing his absences so that he might not miss any of the more important discussions, he was present to protest against the practical repudiation of the continental currency by some of the states and to vote a loud ay in favour of some stronger additions to the Articles of Confederation, although he regretted that the union was not closer and more permanent. In one instance his vote was a mistake when he voted against Morris's summary removal from office of the supernumerary clerks, whose presence was crippling the treasury. But his executive ability was recognized by his being chosen one of a committee to devise ways and means to carry on the campaign. This committee suggested that the states should support the treasury of the United States with funds for which the treasurer was ordered to draw upon them for three millions, duly and fairly proportioned. This was all very well, but Morris, with no authority to enforce the decrees of Congress, the confederacy being so loose, had great difficulty in collecting the quotas. Some of his letters betray the deepest disgust, and he speaks his mind very freely to the delinquent state governments. When some of them, through their representatives in Congress, suggested that contributions of clothing should be credited to them in lieu of money due, Witherspoon joined Morris in opposing such a demoralizing step, and had a very poor opinion of such statesmanship.

Finally when Morris brought in his plan for a national bank, Witherspoon gave his hearty support to this, one of the most efficient of the great financier's plans for placing the finances of the country on a sound basis. Witherspoon's views of finance and of money will be discussed in succeeding pages. An affair of a personal nature demanded his attention this year. He learned that his son, John, had been taken prisoner by the British. I have already stated that John Witherspoon, Jr., was a physician. He served in the Continental army and this year attempted to go abroad to purchase surgical instruments and necessary medicinal supplies. He took passage on the privateer De Graaf, which was captured at St. Eustatius by the British. Because of his father's prominence the son was treated with extraordinary harshness in a London prison. When Wither-spoon learned of his son's plight he wrote to Franklin, who was able to secure the young man's release, and, when that was, after some trouble, finally effected, took care of him in Paris until his father 'sent money for his expenses. In November Franklin was able to start the young physician on his homeward way, and wrote to his father, " I hope you will have the pleasure of receiving with this your long absent son, who appears to me a valuable young man. On the receipt of your letter I wrote to a friend in London to furnish him with what money he should have occasion for to bring him hither; and here I delivered to him the second of your letters of credit whereby he has been enabled to repay me."


As early as February, 1778, George Johnstone, an Englishman friendly to America, wrote to Robert Morris that the peace party in the Parliament seemed to be in the ascendant. In the same month the British ministry suddenly re-versed its policy, repealed all the obnoxious acts, resistance to which had caused the war, and sent three commissioners to treat for peace.

They came too late, nor did they offer acceptable terms. The same year Spain's offer to mediate in the struggle was rejected by England, and the war went on. But in March of the next year the French minister in the United States, Gerard, suggested to the Congress that they draw up instructions for their plenipotentiaries, setting forth what they would demand and what they would yield. Then began a very earnest debate. Of course the one thing which they would never yield was independence. What Witherspoon wrote from his quiet home at Princeton in 1780 was felt by every member of the Congress in 1779, that they would never give up "though our condition were ten times worse than it is." Then came the question of boundaries and of certain other rights. Witherspoon was not present during the earlier discussion, when it was decided to insist on what is practically our present northern boundary, the free navigation of the Mississippi, and the privilege of fishing on the coasts of Newfoundland. The first point was claimed by Virginia, because of her supposed interest in the northwest territory, and especially because nobody wanted England on the upper Mississippi. The second point was felt to be necessary for the trade of the western territory, while the third was made in the interest of the fishermen of New England. Later in the spring Spain gave notice that she would not grant any rights on the Mississippi. A committee, of which Wither-spoon was one, was appointed to consider this delicate question, and, as a result of the deliberation, Congress agreed not to insist on this right but only to insist that England be shut out of the Mississippi altogether. Until peace was finally secured the terms were discussed in all phases and with varying modifications. John Adams, who had been sent to Holland in 1777 to treat with that country, was later appointed a plenipotentiary to negotiate for peace with England and make a treaty of commerce. It was expected that he would confer with the French, but he proceeded at first without reference to France. By the terms of the French alliance America was under obligations to make no terms which did not include France, but the Americans did not know that the French had a secret treaty with Spain, which country had been dragged into the war. Adams' positive and independent manner gave offense to the French court, which tried to have him recalled. Failing in that, which was opposed by the Congress, Gerard was ordered to secure such modification of his instructions as would make him subject to the directions of the French court. The story of all this negotiation is told by Witherspoon in a manuscript which I have found among his papers and which, so far as I know, has never been published. He speaks at first hand, for he was one of the committee to examine the correspondence between Adams and the Duke de Vergennes, foreign minister of France, and to confer with Gerard upon many features of the delicate situation. His account of it is as follows:  Sir, I now sit down agreably to your request to recollect and commit to writing the circumstances most worthy of notice at the time of Congress in agreeing to the final instructions to our commissioners for negotiating peace, and to point out the views which seemed to me chiefly to have governed that body and induced them to direct our commissioners to be ultimately guided by the opinion and judgment of the court of France.

It will not be improper to premise some short remarks upon the state of things from the be-ginning of the war both before and after the French alliance.

It was from the first appearance of things coming to extremities admitted by all that the chief if not the only quarter from which we were to look for foreign aid was France, as also that foreign aid was necessary—that is to say that unless we had foreign aid we could not expect to establish our independence but after many years of suffering, a depopulated country and a deluge of blood and that most probably some of the states themselves might have been lost.

I do not remember any difference of opinion worth mentioning upon either of these two points. Therefore our views were directed to France—there was a much greater difference of opinion whether we should offer our alliance to any other Power.

When application was made to France that Court proceeded with the utmost caution. It was easy, however, from the whole intercourse to perceive two things. (1) That both the court and nation of France were very desirous that we should be supported and succeed. (2) That at the same time they were exceedingly doubt-ful whether it was safe for them to involve themselves much with us, or openly to take a part.

This backwardness was plainly from two different causes which seemed to have almost equal influence. (1) Jealousy of us lest we should not adhere to our resolutions but draw back and make peace with England. (2) Necessary fear of the power of England and particularly its naval force. They have hardly even yet been wholly free from either of these apprehensions.

The affairs of the United States were never in a more critical situation than in December, 1776, when Congress went to Baltimore. There never was a greater need for, or greater anxiety to obtain, foreign aid. The number that attended Congress then was small, but their measures were decided and, I believe, judicious. I do not remember one word of despondency to have fallen from any member or the most distant hint of a desire to make submission to England, but the means of persuading France to interpose effectually were the great subject of deliberation and discussion. At that time there was a letter or letters mentioned from a person in France which intimated that we should make propositions to France to induce them to support us in an effectual manner and even this sentiment, was spoke of as coming from that quarter, that if we would put France in the place of England they would certainly protect us. This came from no official persons, nor was directed to any official body, nor had we any reason to suppose that it was done at the suggestion of the Court of France. I do not believe it was. The proposition was not worthy of being taken into consideration.

There were, however, some persons in Congress who reasoned in this manner: It is plain we cannot be supported without foreign aid. There is no place to which we can apply with probability of success but France. We know she is disposed to assist us, but we have given no sufficient inducement to that power to interfere. We have offered nothing to France but what we have offered to every other nation. The proposals mentioned were to offer France an exclusive trade with the United States for a limited time or to offer them an exclusive trade in some particular articles or to offer them in distinction from other nations a promise of freedom from imposts, etc.

After a very deliberate and accurate discussion it was the opinion of a very considerable majority of Congress to make no such proposals; that they were contrary to the very spirit of our undertaking, that if we were to be independent we would be independent of all the world, that to separate the United States from England was an object of itself sufficiently interesting to France, that it did not appear from any communications made to our commissioners that the Court of France desired any such preferences, but that their slowness and caution were from other causes.

Therefore Congress sent the most solemn assurances that we never would give up or, in the least degree, recede from the Declaration of Independence. Soon after this instructions were given to our commissioners to propose to the Court of France that if they would enter into the war with us we would assist to the utmost of our power in the conquest of the West Indies by furnishing provisions and stores for the fleets and armies of the King of France and by any other way in our power and that all such conquests should remain with France. One of the copies of these instructions was taken on the passage, published in London, republished in Charlestown, South Carolina, and from these papers published in Philadelphia, yet neither friends nor enemies discerned or suspected from them the nature of the important debate which had preceded them.

Soon after the capture of Burgoyne, the Court of France came to a determined resolution to support us vigorously; the first authentic assurance of this was contained in letters from our commissioners of date December 6, 1777, and reached us about the last of January, 1778, though the treaty was not subscribed till the 6th of February that year.

It is easy to see from the treaty itself that the French Court were still somewhat apprehensive of the issue, for they put in the eighth article that they were not to lay down their arms till the Independence of America shall have been formally or tacitly assured, etc.

In the year 1779, when the first proposal was made of attempting a treaty of peace under the mediation of the Emperor and King of Spain, Congress was called upon to consider and determine upon what terms of peace they would be willing to accept, and at the same time to be prepared for war. At that time, in a very large and full conference with M. Gerard, the French minister, he particularly and strongly recommended to Congress not to be too high in their demands and indeed discovered an apprehension that we might mar the treaty by being so. Probably this might be occasioned or augmented by some rash publications at that time insisting that we ought not to make peace without having Canada, Florida and Nova Scotia added to us. The minister took great pains to represent to Congress that much would depend upon the opinion the mediating powers might form of our temper and disposition, and that it was plain England took all possible pains to represent us as an ambitious people that wanted to extend their bounds, and would be dangerous to other nations. In this conference also he told us that the events of war were uncertain, that, therefore, we ought not to be too confident and particularly he used the expression that it was hard to say what might be the effect of a decisive victory at sea. If Rodney's victory in the West Indies had happened two years sooner than it did its effect would have been perhaps fatal to us.

From this state of things, and all that followed, I am convinced that nothing could be more false than the supposition of some persons that France wanted the war to continue for the purpose of ambition and the greater humiliation of her enemy. On the contrary, France always discovered a desire to have the war terminated, and listened to any proposal for this purpose, perhaps prompted or suggested the offers of mediation from Spain, the Emperor and Russia. This was the natural consequence of the two causes above assigned for her slowness and caution in entering upon the war.

Mr. John Adams was chosen for the purpose and a commission for negotiating a peace with Great Britain was given to him alone. The instructions at first sent to him contained descriptions of our claims as to territory and made the following particulars essentially necessary to our making peace:—the extension of our bounds to the forty-fifth degree of latitude north and to the Mississippi westward—the right of fishing on the banks of New Foundland and a free navigation of the Mississippi to the mouth.

When Mr. Adams was in France he thought it best to intimate to the Court of England as from himself that he had a commission for negotiating peace. The Court of France was of opinion that that term was not proper, that things were not sufficiently ripe for it and that no such separate intimation should be made and that it might encourage England in the expectation of England's making a separate treaty with America and dividing the allies, a thing which they earnestly desired and made repeated attempts to accomplish. In a correspondence between Mr. Adams and the D. de Vergennes on this subject and also on the subject of the act of Congress of the 18th of March, '80, estimating the continental currency at forty per cent., Mr. Adams mentioned his opinions with a tenaciousness which gave great offense to the Court of France, and indeed such was the manner of his entering upon these subjects that he was finally forbid to continue it by an express order de par de le Roi.

In the year 1781 Congress entered upon the reconsideration of the instructions formerly sent to Mr. Adams, particularly the making essential conditions of the [ boundary, of the fishing in Newfoundland and the free navigation of the Mississippi—the last of these we learned from our ministers was very disagreable to the Court of Spain, another one, the fishing, not very agreable to the Court of France, who had not the right by treaty themselves and the other we had reason to suspect that England might be very timorous upon, nor did we know what might be the sentiments of the mediating powers or the Powers of Europe in general as to our right or the expediency of our having such extensive dominions. It was also to be considered that as none of these particulars was specified in the alliance with France the question was necessarily reduced to this form, whether though France should not support us in these claims we would continue the war ourselves unless they were granted.

In this situation after much and long discussion it was at last resolved as to all the three to depart from making them absolute and essential conditions lest at our distance it should be a bar to an otherwise honourable peace.

The spirit, therefore of the final instructions was that [high claims] should still serve to them what we wished and thought we ought to obtain but from a desire of peace we left it to our ministers in conjunction with our allies to do what circumstances should discover to be wisest upon the whole. When these matters were interesting them the minister of France often intimated both to committees in conference with him and to particular members of Congress that it would be highly agreeable to his court that Congress should leave nothing in general or undetermined but say expressly upon any particular what they would or what they would not yield. It could not surely be known with certainty whether this arose chiefly or only from their jealousy of Mr. Adams or whether they preferred upon the whole that as little should be left discretionary as possible lest blame should be laid upon themselves.

When the instructions were therefore agreed upon communications were made of them to the minister of France and the directions were given in the same manner as always had been done to our minister to make the most free and candid communications of all his proceedings to the Court of France and to avail himself of the assistance, friendship and influence of that court in all his transactions. Then a difficulty arose which was trying indeed; it appeared that this was not sufficient in the present instance—the minister read to the committee the letters of the D. de Vergennes upon the subject of Mr. Adams, complaining of him in the strongest terms and expressing their fears of the negotiations being marred by his stiffness and tenaciousness of purpose. It was natural to suppose and probably was supposed by the members of the committee that the minister wished Congress would take that commission from Mr. Adams and give it to some other though no such thing was read to the committee from D. de Vergennes nor proposed by the minister himself.

When this matter was reported to Congress a very serious deliberation was taken upon it. What Mr. Adams had done by which he had incurred the displeasure of the minister of the king of France had been undoubtedly from his zeal and attachment to the interest and honour of the United States, his ability and his unshaken fidelity were well known. In such a case to displace a minister merely because he had given umbrage to some at the court where he resided by an excess of well meant zeal seemed to be a most pernicious example and possibly would have the worst effects upon succeeding ministers and therefore ought not to be done. The writer of this memorial of facts in particular was clearly of opinion that Mr. Adams judged [wrong] in bello the points which he contested in his correspondence with the D. de Vergennes the reasons for which need not be mentioned yet he was clearly of opinion to sacrifice a minister of unquestionable integrity ought not in any event to be submitted to merely because he had had more zeal than good manners and [assuring presence]. Therefore it was proposed that a clause should be added to the instructions to this purpose and that he should do nothing without the consent and approbation of the Court of France.

Another committee was appointed to confer with the minister and make this communication. But in conference this also was in his opinion insufficient. He repeated the fears they had of difficulties with Mr. Adams and insisted that by this new clause he was only bound negatively, that he could not indeed do anything without the consent of the Court of France but he might obstruct every measure and unless he was perfectly satisfied effectually prevent any-thing being done.

When this was reported to Congress the matter appeared exceedingly delicate and difficult. It was discussed at great length. All the objections against removing Mr. Adams were argued in their full force. But on the other hand it appeared humiliating at least if not dangerous to deliver ourselves entirely to the Court of France. However after full deliberation it was agreed by the majority in Congress that he should be absolutely guided by the opinion and judgment of the Court of France.

As this particular resolution appeared so dubious to several worthy members of Congress and there were so many attempts to reconsider and revoke it and as it [in the meantime] was the subject of discussion by the public at large, it seems necessary to recollect, while circumstances are fresh in our minds and to record, the necessity or the reasons that induced the plurality to embrace it. It is not intended in this [rather long] memorial to attempt distinguishing between the opinions of one member and another, but just to mention as many as possible of the sentiments that were proposed and advanced by those who finally voted for it.

It was plain that from the first rise of the controversy we had been greatly indebted to the Court of France. They had interposed effectively and seasonably in our cause. They had exerted themselves with much vigour and zeal. They had put themselves to very great expense upon our account. At the very time when this debate was agitated our most necessary expenses were supported by them, and even the subsistence and support of many delegates in Congress was from bills drawn upon France. We had accustomed ourselves by many public and authentic acts to call the King of France our great and generous ally. Perhaps there were as humiliating expressions in many of the public acts and proceedings as could be in this resolution which might well be considered as the effect of grateful and generous sentiments.

Let us now follow Witherspoon's course as we can trace it through the journals of Congress. When, in June, 1781, it was proposed to associate other commissioners with Adams, Witherspoon opposed it in a very vigorous speech, as he had opposed the recall of Adams. He was very grateful to the French, as he tells us in the memorial just quoted. But he was not willing that the Congress should be bound hand and foot to them. He contended that one commissioner was sufficient and that Adams was the proper one. He had earnestly opposed Vergennes' suggestion that they might enter into a truce with Great Britain for twenty years, New York to be given to the United States, Georgia and South Carolina to the English. In the end it was determined to associate four others with Adams, only three of whom joined him, namely, Franklin, Jay and Laurens, although the latter arrived just in time to sign the preliminary treaty. Witherspoon had nominated Reed of Pennsylvania.

On the 6th of June, 1781, Witherspoon offered the following further instructions to the minister who was to negotiate on behalf of the United States :

"But as to disputed boundaries and other particulars we refer you to our former instructions, from which you will easily perceive the desires and expectations of Congress, but we think it unsafe at this distance to tie you up by absolute and peremptory directions upon any other subject than the two essential articles above mentioned (namely, the navigation of the Mississippi and a free port or ports below the thirty-first parallel of latitude). You will therefore use your own judgment and prudence in securing the interest of the United States in such manner as circumstances may direct and as the state of the belligerent and disposition of the mediating powers may require.

"You are to make the most candid and confidential communications upon all subjects to the ministers of our generous ally, the King of France, to undertake nothing in the negotiations for peace without their knowledge and concurrence, and to make them sensible how much we rely upon his majesty's influence for effectual support in everything that may be necessary to the present security or future prosperity of the United States of America."

After this motion had been debated all day it was lost by a very narrow vote. But the whole question was referred to a committee which, the next day, reported it favourably with the following additions:

"1. You are to use your utmost endeavours to secure the limits fixed exactly according to the description in your former instructions.

"2. If that cannot be obtained it is the wish of Congress that a peace be made without fixing northern and western limits, but leaving them to future discussion.

"3. If that is also found impracticable and boundaries must be ascertained you are to obtain as advantageous a settlement as possible in favour of the United States."

To the first of these additions every member assented; the second received the vote of every state except New Hampshire and half of Massachusetts, while the third was lost by a narrow vote.

Then Witherspoon's original motion came up again, and after being vigorously threshed over, both sections were adopted. This did not end the matter. On the 9th of June he moved to instruct the commissioners that they might agree to a truce with England "provided that Great Britain be not left in possession of any part of the thirteen United States." The negotiations dragged along and the war continued. In May, 1782, Congress felt that England was trying to detach France, not suspecting the French agreement with Spain. By August the attitude of Spain was so suspicious that Jay was authorized to sign a treaty with her " or go to any part of Europe his health might demand," which meant a breach of negotiations. About the same time Lee endeavoured to have the instructions of July, '8i, reconsidered, with the result that finally they were practically unchanged. A further discussion of Witherspoon's position is not necessary. But from a study of his action it is plain that with the others, he was tenacious of every right for which the war had been waged, that he strove to avoid any claims which might endanger the prospects of peace, and that he thought the Congress in honour bound to be guided by their ally, France. How the American commissioners finally broke their instructions and made a separate treaty with England regardless of France is no part of this story. When the news of it first reached the Congress many members, Witherspoon among them, as also were Madison, Livingston and Hamilton, were ready to censure the commissioners. "When, however," says Wharton, " the treaty of peace in itself so advantageous arrived, and when it appeared that France made no official complaint of the action of the commissioners, and was even ready to make a new loan to the United States, then Livingston, Madison and Hamilton concurred in holding that no vote of censure should be passed." Witherspoon held the same opinion.

Certain writers have condemned the Congress as composed of stupid blunderers, commenting upon their weakness, pointing scornfully at their mistakes. Such criticism is unfair. When one considers that these men were practically untried novices in the larger affairs of statesmanship and diplomacy it is marvellous that they succeeded as well as they did. Of public finance they had known little; of military operations on a large scale they knew less. The difficulties of Congressional direction of warfare are the common experience of revolutionists. Cromwell had to deal with them. The commander-in-chief of the Confederate army, Robert E. Lee, felt their hindering clutches. But such experiences are inevitable in a representative government. A government as well organized as that of the United States at the time of the Spanish war, of England during the Boer war, was unable to maintain a perfect commissariat. The men of the Continental Congress deserve all praise for their fidelity to the trust reposed in them. Had they not been ready to sacrifice their private business, and run the risk of losing, as some of them did lose, their private fortunes, the struggle for independence would never have succeeded. Without the Congress there would have been no Confederacy; there would have been no treaty making power; there would have been only a military dictatorship which disunion and the lack of foreign support would have broken to pieces. As Witherspoon himself said, "Those who know how fluctuating a body the Congress is and what continual changes take place in it, as to men, must perceive the absurdity of their making or succeeding in any such attempt" as the war for independence. That they did succeed is due to the ability and fidelity of men like Witherspoon as well as of men like Washington.

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