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ARRIVAL OF LORD HOWE
of the sickle, will greatly distress the country. I could wish, therefore, that a less number might answer the
On no one could this prompt and brave gathering of the yeomanry produce a more gratifying effect than upon the commander-in-chief; and no one could be more feelingly alive, in the midst of stern military duties, to the appeal in behalf of the peaceful interests of the husband
While the vigilant Clinton was preparing to defend the passes of the Highlands, danger was growing more imminent at the mouth of the Hudson.
New York has always been a city prone to agitations. That into which it was thrown on the afternoon of the 12th of July, by the broadsides of the Phoenix and the Rose, was almost immediately followed by another. On the same evening there was a great booming of cannon, with clouds of smoke, from the shipping at anchor at Staten Island. Every spy-glass was again in requisition. The British fleet were saluting a ship of the line, just arrived from sea. She advanced grandly, every man-ofwar thundering a salute as she passed. At her foretop mast-head she bore St. George's flag. "It is the admiral's ship!" cried the nautical men on the look-out at the Battery. "It is the admiral's ship!" was echoed from mouth to mouth, and the word soon flew through the city, "Lord Howe is come!"
TORIES. SECRET COMMITTEES. DECLARATION OF
LORD HOWE.-HIS LETTER TO THE COLONIAL GOVERNORS.-HIS LETTER TO WASHINGTON REJECTED. - INTERVIEW BETWEEN THE BRITISH ADJUTANT-GENERAL AND COLONEL REED.-RECEPTION OF THE ADJUTANT-GENERAL BY WASHINGTON.-THE PHOENIX" AND ROSE IN THE TAPPAN SEA AND HAVERSTRAW BAY.-ARMING OF THE RIVER YEOMANRY.-GEORGE CLINTON AT THE GATES OF THE HIGHLANDS.
ORD HOWE was indeed come, and affairs now appeared to be approaching a crisis. In consequence of the recent conspiracy, the Convention of New York, seated at White Plains in Westchester County, had a secret committee stationed in New York for the purpose of taking cognizance of traitorous machinations. To this committee Washington addressed a letter the day after his lordship's arrival, suggesting the policy of removing from the city and its environs, "all persons of known disaffection and enmity to the cause of America;" especially those confined in jail for treasonable offenses; who might become extremely dangerous in case of an attack and alarm. He took this step with great reluctance; but felt compelled to it by circumstances. The late conspiracy had shown him that treason might be
DECLARATION OF LORD HOWE.
lurking in his camp. And he was well aware that the city and the neighboring country, especially Westchester County, and Queens and Suffolk counties on Long Island, abounded with "tories" ready to rally under the royal standard whenever backed by a commanding force.
In consequence of his suggestion, thirteen persons in confinement for traitorous offenses, were removed to the jail of Litchfield in Connecticut. Among the number was the late mayor; but as his offense was not of so deep a dye as those whereof the rest stood charged, it was recommended by the president of the Convention that he should be treated with indulgence.
The proceedings of Lord Howe soon showed the policy of these precautions. His lordship had prepared a declaration addressed to the people at large, informing them of the powers vested in his brother and himself as commissioners for restoring peace; and inviting communities as well as individuals, who, in the tumult and disasters of the times, had deviated from their allegiance to the crown, to merit and receive pardon by a prompt return to their duty. It was added, that proper consideration would be had of the services of all who should contribute to the restoration of public tranquillity.
His lordship really desired peace. According to a contemporary, he came to America "as a mediator, not as a destroyer," * and had founded great hopes in the efficacy
* Letter of Mr. Dennis de Berdt, to Mr. Joseph Reed. Am. Archives, 5th Series, i, 372.
of this document in rallying back the people to their allegiance; it was a sore matter of regret to him, therefore, to find that, in consequence of his tardy arrival, his invitation to loyalty had been forestalled by the Declaration of Independence.
Still it might have an effect in bringing adherents to the royal standard; he sent a flag on shore, therefore, bearing a circular letter, written in his civil and military capacity, to the colonial governor, requesting him to publish his address to the people as widely as possible.
We have heretofore shown the tenacity with which Washington, in his correspondence with Generals Gage and Howe, exacted the consideration and deference due to him as commander-in-chief of the American armies; he did this not from official pride and punctilio, but as the guardian of American rights and dignities. A further step of the kind was yet to be taken. The British officers, considering the Americans in arms rebels without valid commissions, were in the habit of denying them all military title. Washington's general officers had urged him not to submit to this tacit indignity, but to reject all letters directed to him without a specification of his official rank.
An occasion now presented itself for the adjustment of this matter. Within a day or two an officer of the British navy, Lieutenant Brown, came with a flag from Lord Howe, seeking a conference with Washington. Colonel Reed, the adjutant-general, embarked in a barge, and met
LORD HOWE'S LETTER.
him half way between Governor's and Staten Islands. The lieutenant informed him that he was the bearer of a letter from Lord Howe to Mr. Washington. Colonel Reed replied, that he knew no such person in the American army. The lieutenant produced and offered the letter. It was addressed to George Washington, Esquire. He was informed that it could not be received with such a direction. The lieutenant expressed much concern. The letter, he said, was of a civil, rather than a military nature-Lord Howe regretted he had not arrived sooner -he had great powers-it was much to be wished the letter could be received.
While the lieutenant was embarrassed and agitated, Reed maintained his coolness, politely declining to receive the letter, as inconsistent with his duty. They parted; but after the lieutenant had been rowed some little distance, his barge was put about, and Reed waited to hear what further he had to say. It was to ask by what title General-but catching himself, Mr. Washington chose to be addressed.
Reed replied that the general's station in the army was well known; and they could not be at a loss as to the proper mode of addressing him, especially as this matter had been discussed in the preceding summer, of which, he presumed, the admiral could not be ignorant. The lieutenant again expressed his disappointment and regret, and their interview closed.
On the 19th, an aide-de-camp of General Howe came