(A line by line historical analysis of the accusations of the Declaration of Independence.)
XXV. He is at this time transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun, with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.
Toward the close of 1775, Lord North introduced a bill in Parliament, which provided for prohibiting all intercourse with the colonies, until they should submit, and for placing the whole country under martial law. This bill included a clause for appointing resident commissioners in America, who should have discretionary powers to grant pardons and effect indemnities, in case the Americans should come to terms. Having thus determined to place the country under martial law, and to procure the submission of the colonies by force of arms, the next important consideration. was to procure the requisite force. The estimated number of men sufficient to carry out successfully the designs of the ministry, was twenty-eight thousand seamen, and a land force of fifty-five thousand men.
This was a large force to raise within the brief space which the exigency of the case required, for the peace establishment at home was small enough already, and the delay in procuring volunteers, or waiting for the return of troops from foreign stations, might prove fatal to their plans. Ministers therefore resolved to hire soldiers of some of the German princes, and they at once appointed a commissioner for the purpose. Early in 1776, a treaty was concluded, and the Landgrave of Hesse-Cassel agreed to furnish twelve thousand one hundred and four men; the Duke of Brunswick, four thousand and eighty-four; the Prince of Hesse, six hundred and sixty-eight; the Prince of Waldeck, six hundred and seventy; making in all, seventeen thousand five hundred and twenty-six. The masters of these mercenaries, perceiving the stern necessity which had driven the British government to this atrocious resort, in its endeavor to crush the spirit of freedom in its American colonies, extorted hard terms--terms which none but a desperate suitor for favor would have agreed to. It was stipulated that they were to receive seven pounds, four skillings and four-pence sterling for each man, besides being relieved from the burden of maintaining them. In addition, the princes were to receive a certain stipend, amounting in all to one hundred and thirty-five thousand pounds sterling, or about six hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars. And Great Britain further agreed to guaranty the dominions of those princes against foreign attacks duringthe absence of their soldiers.
This hiring of the bone and sinew, and even the lives, of foreign troops--purchased assassins--to aid in enslaving its own children, whose only crime was an irrepressible aspiration for freedom, is the foulest blot upon the escutcheon of Great Britain, which its unholy warfare against us during the revolution produced. The best friends of Great Britain, in and out of Parliament, deeply deplored the measure; and the opposition in the National Legislature, with a sincere concern for the fair fame of their country, did all in their power to prevent the transaction. But Parliament, as if madly bent on the entire destruction of British honor, and on pulling down the very pillars of the Constitution, seconded the views of Ministers, and adopted the measure by an overwhelming majority.
For this act, the King and his Ministers were obliged to hear many home truths from statesmen in both Houses of Parliament. Among others, the Earl of Coventry inveighed most heartily against the employment of foreign mercenaries to fight the battles of England, even in a just war. He maintained that the war in question was an unnatural and unrighteous one, and, as such, would not terminate favorably to the oppressor. "Look on the map of the globe," said he; "view Great Britain and North America; compare their extent; consider their soil, rivers, climate, and increasing population of the latter; nothing but the most obstinate blindness and partiality can engender a serious opinion that such a country will long continue under subjection to this. The question is not, therefore, how we shall be able to realize a vain, delusive scheme of dominion, but how we shall make it the interest of the Americans to continue faithful allies and warm friends. Surely that can never be effected by fleets and armies. Instead of meditating conquest, and exhausting our strength in an ineffectual struggle, we should wisely, abandoning wild schemes of coercion, avail ourselves of the only substantial benefit we can ever expect, the profits of an extensive commerce, and the strong support of a firm and friendly alliance and compact for mutual defence and assistance."
What blood and treasure would have been spared had such statesmanlike views prevailed in the British Parliament. But national pride was wounded, and its festerings produced relentless hate, whose counsels had no whispers of justice or of honorable peace. "Large armies of foreign mercenaries, to complete the work of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun," were sent hither, and the odious Hessians (the general title given to those German troops) performed their first act in the bloody drama, in the Battle of Long Island, on the twenty-ninth of August, 1776.
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