restricted access Chapter 5. Defeat and the Restoration of "Native Courage": Command in New York (June to September 1776)
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GW_051-100.indd 51 5/2/12 7:34 AM CHAPTER 5 Defeat and the Restoration of "Native Courage": Command in New York (June to September 1776) Lordand Sir William Howe arrive before New York.- Circular letter ofLord Howe.State ofthe American army.- The British land on Long Island.- Battle ofBrooklyn.Fruitless negotiations. -New York evacuated.-Skirmish on the heights ofHaarlem. WHILE CoNGRESS was deliberating in Philadelphia on the great question of independence, the British fleet appeared before New York. On evacuating Boston, General Howe 1 had retired to Halifax, from June r776 which place he sailed for New York in June. In the latter end of that month, he arrived off Sandy Hook; and on the 3d and 4th ofJuly his troops were landed on Staten Island. They were received with great demonstrations of joy by the inhabitants, who took the oaths ofallegiance to the British crown, and embodied themselves for the defence of the island. Strong assurances were also given by the inhabitants of Long Island, and the neighboring parts of New Jersey, of the favorable disposition of a great proportion of the people to the royal cause. The command ofthe fleet had been conferred on Lord Howe, the brother of the general;l and they were both commissioners for restoring peace to the colonies. He arrived at Staten Island on the nth ofJuly. Lord Howe was not deterred by the declaration of independence from trying the influence of his powers for pacification. He sent on shore a circular letter, dated off the coast of Massachusetts, addressed severally to the late governors under the crown, inclosing a declaration which he requested 1. Sir William Howe (1729-1814), British Commander in Chief in the Colonies, 1775 to 1778; younger brother ofAdmiral Richard Howe. 2. Lord Richard Howe (1726-99), British Admiral and Chief Naval Commander in America, 1776 to 1778. 51 GW_051-100.indd 52 5/2/12 7:34 AM ~ COMMANDER IN CHIEF OF THE REVOLUTION :>&them to make public. It announced his authority to grant pardons, and to declare any colony, town, port, or place, in the peace, and under the protection of the King. Assurances were also given that the meritorious services ofall persons who would aid in restoring tranquillity in the colonies would be duly considered. These papers were immediately transmitted by the commander-in-chief, to Congress, who directed their publication, "that the good people of the United States might be informed ofwhat nature were the Commissioners, and what the terms, with the expectation of which the insidious court of Britain had sought to amuse and disarm them." About the same time, General Howe addressed, by a flag, a letter to "George Washington, Esquire," which the General refused to receive, "as it did not acknowledge the public character with which he was invested." In a resolution approving this proceeding, Congress directed "that no letter or message whatever be received by the commander-in-chief, or others, the commanders of the American army, but such as shall be directed to them in the characters they respectively sustain." To evade the preliminary difficulty which the unwillingness ofthe commissioners to recognize the existing powers in America, opposed to any discussion ofthe terms they were authorized to propose, Colonel Patteson, Adjutant-General ofthe British army, was sent on shore by General Howe, with a letter directed to "George Washington," &c. &c. &c. He was introduced to the General, whom he addressed by the tide of "Excellency;" and, after the usual compliments, opened the subject of his mission by saying that General Howe much regretted the difficulties which had arisen respecting the address ofthe letters; that the mode adopted was deemed consistent with propriety, and was founded on precedent in cases ofambassadors and plenipotentiaries, where disputes or difficulties had arisen about rank; that Lord and General Howe did not mean to derogate from his rank, or the respect due to him, and that they held his person and character in the highest esteem; but that the direction with the addition of "&c. &c. &c." implied every thing that ought to follow. Colonel Patteson then produced a letter which he said was the same that had been previously sent, and which he laid on the table. The General declined receiving it. He said that a letter addressed to a 52 GW_051-100.indd 53 5/2/12 7:34 AM ~ Deftat and the Restoration of "Native Courage" *" person in a public character, should have some description or indication of that character; otherwise it would be considered as a...


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Subject Headings

  • Washington, George, -- 1732-1799.
  • Presidents -- United States -- Biography.
  • Generals -- United States -- Biography.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1775-1783.
  • United States -- Politics and government -- 1783-1809.
  • United States -- History -- Revolution, 1775-1783 -- Campaigns.
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