Want to save this letter now that you've found it?
It's easy - just create your own collection of letters after signing up for a free account.
My Dear Father :
I felicitate you upon the declaration of war between England and France ; for though we have no positive intelligence of the event, its immediate and sure precursors have taken place, from whence we may fairly conclude that it has followed in due course. The sarcastical declaration of Mons r de failles, proves the contempt which the French have for the British power in its present dismembered state, their confidence in their own strength seconded by that of their own allies, and is the most humiliating stroke that the national pride of Britain ever suffered. If she is not instantly driven to negotiate a disgraceful peace, she must principally depend upon powerful naval exertions. Her superiority in this kind of war, might gain her great advantages, and in some degree reestablish her affairs, were not American privateers, and the rising Continental army in the opposite scale. L'd North talks of new levies for internal defence. The idea of reinforcements to act offensively in America seems to be dropped. Indeed, my private opinion is, that's r Wm Howe or's r Harry Clinton has received orders to evacuate Philadelphia after doing as much mischief as possible. The great preparations which are making for a grand exhibition of pageantry, if it be true as it is said, that a new building which is now rising is intended for a ceremony relative to the order of knighthood, and every kind of show that is made of a design to remain in Philadelphia, rather confirm than shake my opinion.
It gives me concern that there is no immediate prospect of closing the war with brilliancy. A successful general action, or some happy stroke upon one of the important points of which the enemy are at pre sent in possession, would be very desirable, as it would clearly establish the military reputation of our country, render us more independent of our allies, raise the character of our General, and give all young soldiers one more opportunity of distinguishing them selves in the dear cause of their country.
I heard by mere accident from General's Clair that the legislative powers had ventured to alter the constitution of S Carolina, that it is now degenerated into an aristocracy. This has occasioned no less surprise than unhappiness in my mind. I should not have imagined that in a country where the people are generally enlightened, and of an independent spirit, we should have suffered the depositaries of our constitution to usurp a power which is inherent only in the people, and to have corrupted what they were delegated to preserve. If this passes with impunity, the same men may next vote themselves perpetual representatives of the people. A few men of powerful influence may next have credit enough to take all government into their own hands. To an oligarchy succeeds a monarchy, limited by a few checks, which may be easily removed by an artful prince, and make way for despotism. It will be said that the confederate states, and the temper of the Carolinians themselves, would never suffer corruption to go such lengths; but I only observe that it is of the most fatal tendency to suffer fundamental principles to be violated, and that the measures taken by our present representatives are subversive of liberty. If your leisure will permit, I entreat to send me some account of these transactions, or perhaps I shall be able to get it from Mr Drayton, who, I understand, is on his way to camp.
The general officers are just now assembled to take the oath of allegiance.
The independent States of America will have the first oath that ever I took. As this matter is intended for the vulgar, I think it a pit}* that more solemnity and awe is not attached to the ceremony.
My dearest friend and father I tenderly embrace
- John Laurens
- Army Correspondence of Colonel John Laurens in the Years 1777 - 78