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My Dear Father :
I have read with pleasure the report of the commit tee of Congress, on the subject of the insulting and insidious overtures made by the British ministers, tho I think more firmness and energy would have made it more republican. The pardons offered to the subjects of the states who had embraced the party of the enemy, will, I am persuaded, be attended with extensive good consequences. The measure is dictated by policy, and unites the advantage of being founded in humanity. A few copies of the handbill have been sent to Governor Tryon in return for the triplicate packets of the British bill which he was so obliging as to send to the Commander in Chief. It appears to me that this proceeding of L'd North will be the signal for France to declare war. The reducing the commerce and naval power of her natural enemy, increasing her own, and humbling an inveterate rival, are objects too important in a political view, for her to hazard them to the wiles of negociation after they have been secured from the chance of war. This apart, the death of the Elector of Bavaria, it is generally thought will embroil Europe. And if our men in power, and men of influence, will redouble their exertions instead of being lulled into security, the new and artful attack of the British minister, will be foiled and expose him to contempt. He will be obliged to with draw his troops I mean as many of them as we suffer to escape and tacitly to acknowledge what he will be afterwards forced explicitly to ratify our independence. At the same time, if no secret alliance has been entered into on our part with France, our agents at that court need not represent it as an impossible event, that a treaty should take place between Great Britain and America, from the degree of affection which may still remain between the two nations and the propensity to a connexion which arises from the indentity of habits and language.
I have been informed that the tone of our embassadors was infinitely too modest to produce the effects which we had a right to expect.
It gives me pleasure to find that Congress has directed General Gates to have a conference with Gen'l Washington previous to his setting out for his northern command. A proper force kept up in the neighbourhood of New York, provided it can be done without prejudice to this army, may be attended with very important good consequences.
It is a favourite plan with some men, to make a sudden attempt in that quarter with a part of this army, and change the theatre of the war; but there are many irrefragable arguments against the project. Their plan is to carry that city by storm ; but the preliminary steps to be taken, and the length of march would inevitably betray the design. The part of the army left here would be attacked and dissipated by a superior force. The British army would be recruited from among the numerous disaffected, which swarm in this state, and the force before New York, if sufficient to proceed by regular approaches, would be obliged to raise the siege with disgrace, upon reinforcements being thrown in, which might very well be spared from Philadelphia ; besides, as New York, supposing it carried, cannot be maintained while the enemy have the superiority by sea, it can by no means deserve to be made a principal object of attention. But if we are sufficiently strengthened here to act offensively, and a respectable force is posted in the vicinity of N". York, we may hope for decisive success, and we avoid the risk of suffering the enemy to establish themselves, and strengthen their party in this state; cut off the communication between the northern and southern states, and reduce the Congress to the disgraceful necessity of decamping a second time. I say nothing of the unavoidable loss of stores, whatever diligence may be used in removing them.
I must ask, my dear father, a thousand pardons for this ill-digested and incoherent letter. I set out with a good intention, but from my first beginning it till now, I have undergone perpetual interruption.
Cap 6 G-ibbes has disappointed me in not purchasing the stuff for summer wear. I must entreat you to let James procure me as much as will make two or three changes, provided the extravagance of the price does not forbid it.
Adieu my dearest friend and father,
I send a letter which you will be so good as to inclose by Mr. Francis, to Col Gervaise, to be for warded.
- John Laurens