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chandise were seized and taken out of their stores, ware-houses and shops, by order of General Gage, and others of his commanding officers there ; and also to the inhabitants of Philadelphia for the goods taken away by his army there; and to make compensation also for the tobacco, rice, indigo and negroes seized and carried off by his armies, under Generals Arnold, Cornwallis and others, from the States of Virginia, North and South Carolina and Georgia, and for all the vessels and cargoes belonging to the inhabitants of the said United States, which were stopped, seized or taken, either in the ports or on the seas, by his governors or by his ships of war, before the declaration of war against the United States. And it is further agreed that his Britannic Majesty will also earnestly recommend it to his Parliament to make compensation for all the towns, villages and farms, burnt and destroyed by his troops, or adherents in these United States."
The three British commissioners were confounded by these counter demands, and said not another word about reimbursing the American tories. On the 30th of November, 1782, the preliminaries were signed, subject to the assent of the French ministers, who were also to submit their preliminaries to the American envoys. By these articles: 1. The bound. aries were established. 2. The Americans could
fish on the banks of Newfoundland, and cure their fish on the unsettled shores of Nova Scotia and Labrador. 3. Congress was to recommend to the several States, to restore the confiscated property of real British subjects. 4. Private debts were to be paid. 5. There were to be no more confiscations or prosecutions, on either side, for acts during the war. 6. The British troops were to be withdrawn. 7. The navigation of the Mississippi was declared to be free. 8. And any place captured, after the signing of these articles, was to be restored.
On the 13th of January, Count de Vergennes, and the British minister Mr. Fitzherbert, signed their preliminaries in the presence of Dr. Franklin and Mr. Adams. Not till then did the English order hostilities to be suspended, and declare the senseless war to be at an end.
There was universal satisfaction in America. With the exception of the king and a few of his ministers, there was general satisfaction in England. It is true that the national pride was sorely humiliated. But after all these woes which England had inflicted upon America, her own statesmen, with almost undivided voice, declared that the interests of both nations were alike promoted, by having a few feeble colonies elevated into the rich and flourishing republic of the United States. Thus the war of the
American revolution must be pronounced to have been, on the part of England, which forced it, one of the most disastrous and senseless of those blunders which have ever accompanied the progress of our race.*
* Contemplate the still greater blunder of our civil war. It was forced upon the nation by the slave traders, that they might perpetuate slavery. And now after the infliction of woes which no finite imagination can gauge, these very slave holders declare with one voice, that nothing would induce them to reinstate the execrable institution. How much misery would have been averted, and what a comparative paradise would our southern country now have been, if before, instead of after the war, the oppressed had been allowed to go free!
Advice to Thomas Paine-Scenes at Passy-Journey to the Coast
Return to America-Elected Governor of Pennsylvania-Attends the Constitutional Convention-Proposes prayers-Remarkable speech-Letter to Dr. Stiles-Christ on the Cross-Last sickness and death.
ABOUT this time some one, knowing Dr. Franklin's deistical views, presented, for his opinion, a treatise denouncing the idea, that there was any God, who manifested any interest in the affairs of men, that there was any Particular Providence. Though Franklin did not accept the idea, that Jesus Christ was a divine messenger, and that the Bible was a supernatural revelation of God's will, he certainly did not, in his latter years, deny that there was a God, who superintended the affairs of this world, and whom it was proper to worship. It is generally supposed that Thomas Paine was the author of this treatise, and that it was a portion of his Age of Reason. Franklin, in his memorable reply, wrote,
“I have read your manuscript with some attention. By the argument it contains against a particular Providence, though you allow a general Providence, you strike at the foundations of all religion. For without the belief of a providence that takes cognizance of, guards and guides and may favor particular persons, there is no motive to worship a deity, to fear his displeasure or to pray for his protection. I will not enter into any discussion of your principles, though you seem to desire it. At present I shall only give you my opinion that, though your reasonings are subtile, and may prevail with some readers, you will not succeed so as to change the general sentiments of mankind on that subject; and the consequence of printing this piece will be, a great deal of odium drawn upon yourself; mischief to you and no benefit to others. He that spits against the wind, spits in his own face.
“I would advise you, therefore, not to attempt unchaining the tiger, but to burn this piece before it is seen by any other person; whereby you will save yourself a great deal of mortification, by the enemies it may raise against you, and perhaps a good deal of regret and repentance. If men are so wicked with religion, what would they be if without it.”
Franklin testifies to the remarkable courtesy which characterized all the movements of the French minister, during these protracted and delicate nego