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of associating, for the purpose of establishing a fund for the support of the poor and distressed of their fraternity, when many of them, it is well known, are reduced to their last shifts, by the ungenerous conduct of their country, in not adopting more vigorous measures to render their certificates productive.
The motives, which induced the officers to enter into it, were, I am positive, truly and frankly recited in the institution; one of which, and the principal, was to establish a charitable fund, for the relief of such of their compatriots, and the widows and descendants of them, as were fit objects for such support, and for whom no provision had been made by the public.
But, the trumpet being sounded, the alarm spread far and wide.
When the Society was formed, I am persuaded not a member of it conceived, that it would give birth to those jealousies, or be charged with those dangers, real or imaginary, with which the minds of many, and of some respectable characters in these States, seem to be agitated.
I am perfectly convinced, that, if the first institution of this Society had not been parted with, ere this we should have had the country in an uproar, and a line of separation drawn between this Society and their fellow-citizens.
The alterations, which took place at the last general meeting, have quieted the clamors, which in many of the States were rising to a great height.
That charity is all that remains of the original institution, none, who will be at the trouble of examining it, can deny.
ARMS AND ACCOUTREMENTS OF THE PATRIOT ARMY.
I must beg the liberty, to suggest to Congress, an idea, which has been hinted to me, and which has affected my mind, very forcibly. That is, that, at the discharge of the men for the war, Congress should suffer those men, non-commissioned Officers and Soldiers, to take with them, as their own property, and as a gratuity, the Arms and Accoutrements they now hold.
This act would raise pleasing sensations in the minds of those worthy and faithful men, who, from their early engaging in the war at moderate bounties, and from their patient continuance under innumerable distresses, have not only deserved nobly of their country, but have obtained an honorable distinction over those, who, with shorter times, have gained large pecuniary rewards.
This, at a comparatively small expense, would be deemed an honorable testimonial from Congress, of
the regard they bear to those distinguished worthies, and the sense they have had of their sufferings, virtues, and services, which have been so happily instrumental, towards the establishment and security of the rights, liberties, and independence of this rising empire.
These constant companions of their toils, preserved with sacred attention, would be handed down from the present possessors to their children, as HONORARY BADGES OF BRAVERY AND MILITARY MERIT; and would probably be brought forth, on some future occasion, with pride and exultation, to be improved with the same military ardor and emulation, in the hands of posterity, as they have been used by their forefathers, in the present establishment and foundation of our national independence.
A STANDING ARMY.
I am persuaded, and as fully convinced as I am of any one fact that has happened, that our liberties must of necessity be hazarded, if not entirely lost, if their defence is left to any but a permanent Standing Army I mean, one to exist during the war. 1776.
It becomes evident to me, that, as this contest is not likely to be the work of a day, as the war must be carried on systematically, (and to do it you must have good officers,) there are no other possible means
to obtain them, but by establishing an army upon a permanent footing, and giving the officers good pay.
This will induce gentlemen, and men of character, to engage; and, till the bulk of the officers is composed of such persons as are actuated by principles of honor and a spirit of enterprise, you have little to expect from them. They ought to have such allowances, as will enable them to live like, and support the character of, gentlemen, and not be driven, by a scanty pittance, to the low and dirty arts which many of them practise, to filch from the public more than the difference of pay would amount to, upon an ample allowance.
Besides, something is due to the man who puts his life in your hands, hazards his health, and forsakes the sweets of domestic enjoyment. Why a Captain, in the Continental Service, should receive no more than five shillings currency per day, for performing the same duties that an officer of the same rank in the British service receives ten shillings sterling for, I never could conceive; especially when the latter is provided with every necessary he requires, upon the best terms, and the former can scarce procure them, at any rate.
There is nothing that gives a man consequence, and renders him fit to command, like a support that renders him independent of every body but the State he serves.
Had we kept a permanent army on foot, the en
emy could have had nothing to hope for, and would, in all probability, have listened to terms, long since.
ESSENTIAL IMPORTANCE OF A STANDING ARMY.
I most firmly believe, the independence of the United States never will be established, till there is an army on foot for the war; and that, if we are to rely on occasional or annual levies, we must sink under the expense, and ruin must follow.
PREJUDICES AGAINST A STANDING ARMY.
The commonly received opinion, under proper limitations is certainly true, that Standing Armies are dangerous to the State.
The prejudices, in other countries, have only gone to them in time of peace; and these, from their not having, in general cases, any of the ties, the concerns, or interests, of citizens, or any other dependence than what flowed from their military employ; in short, from their being mercenary hirelings.
It is our policy, to be prejudiced against them, in time of war; though they are citizens, having all the ties and interests of citizens, and, in most cases, property totally unconnected with the military line.
If we would pursue a right system of policy, in my opinion, there should be none of these distinctions.