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as such, or to have acknowledged that Body, but to have consulted with Gentlemen of that Body, in their private Capacities, upon the Subjects in his Commission.
"His Lordship did not incline to give Us any farther Account of his Powers or to make any other Propositions to Us, than those which are contained in Substance in the foregoing lines.
"I have the pleasure to assure you, that there was no disagrement in Opinion, among the members of the Committee, upon any one point. They were perfectly united in Sentiment, and in language, as they are in the Result of the whole, which is, that his Lordships Powers are fully expressed in the late Act of Parliament: and that his Commission contains no other Authority, than that of granting Pardons, with such Exceptions as the Commissioners shall think proper to make: and of declaring America, or any part of it, to be at Peace upon Submission: and of enquiring into the State of America, of any Persons, with whom, they might think proper to enquire confer, advize, converse and consult, even although they should be Officers of the Army, or Members of Congress; and then representing the Result of their Inquiries to the Ministry, who, after all, might or might not, at their pleasure, make any Alterations in the former Instructions to Governors, or propose in Parliament any Alterations in the Acts complained of.
"The whole Affair of the Commission appears to me, as it ever did, to be a bubble, an Ambuscade, a mere insidious Maneuvre, calculated only to decoy and deceive: -- And it is so gross, that they must have a wretched Opinion of our Generalship, to suppose that We can fall into it.
"The Committee assured his Lordship, that they had no Authority, to wait
upon him, or to treat or converse with him, in any other Character, but that of
a Committee of Congress, and as Members of independent States. That the Vote,
which was their Commission, clearly ascertained their Character. That the
Declaration which had been made, of Independence, was the Result of long and
cool deliberation. That it had been made by Congress, after long and great
Reluctance, in Obedience to the possitive
Instructions of their Constituents; every Assembly upon the Continent, having
"This Day, I think has been the most remarkable of all. . . . Sullivan came here, from Lord Howe, five days ago, with a Message, that his Lordship desired a half an Hours Conversation, with some of the Members of Congress, in their private Capacities. . . . We have spent three or four days, in debating, whether We should take any notice of it. . . . I have to the Utmost of my Abilities, during the whole Time, opposed our taking any notice of it. . . . But at last it was determined by a Majority, 'That the Congress, being the Representatives of the free and independent States of America, it was improper to appoint any of their Members to confer in their private Characters with his Lordship. But they would appoint a Committee of their Body, to wait on him to know whether he had Power to treat with Congress upon Terms of Peace, and to hear any Propositions that his Lordship may think proper to make.'
"When the Committee came to be balloted for, Dr.
Franklin and your humble Servant, were unanimously chosen. . . .
Mr. Rutledge and Colonel Lee (Richard Henry
Lee) had an equal Number: but upon a second Vote, Mr.
Rutledge was chosen. I requested to be excused, but was desired to
consider of it, till tomorrow. My Friends here advize
me to go. . . . All the staunch and intrepid, are very earnest with me to go. .
. . And all the timid and wavering agree in the request: So I believe I shall
undertake the journey. I doubt whether His Lordship will see Us: but the same
Committee will be directed to inquire into the State of the Army, at
New York, so that there will be business enough, if his Lordship
makes none. It would fill this Letter Book to give you all the Arguments, for
and against this measure, if I had Liberty to attempt it. . . . His Lordship
seems to have been playing off a Number of Machiavillian Maneuvres,
in order to throw upon Us the Odium of continuing this War. Those, who have
"Yesterday Morning I returned with Dr. Franklin and Mr. Rutledge from Staten Island, where We met Lord Howe, and had about three hours Conversation with him. The Result of this Interview will do no disservice to Us. It is now plain, that his Lordship has no Power, but what is given him in the Act of Parliament. His Commission authorizes him to grant Pardons upon Submission: and to converse, confer, consult and advize, with such Persons as he may think proper, upon American Grievances, Upon the Instructions to Governors and the Acts of Parliament, and if any Errors should be found to have crept in, his Majesty and the Ministers were willing they should be rectified.
"My ride has been of Service to me. We were absent but four days. It was an agreable Excursion. His Lordship is about fifty Years of Age. He is a well bred Man but his Address is not so irresistable, as it has been represented. I could name you many Americans in your own Neighbourhood, whose Art, Address and Abilities are greatly superiour."
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