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Saturday, November 04, 2017

"I am sorry to learn that so many of your Negroes are still missing."

On this date in 1783:

Mr. [Thomas] Jefferson, a delegate for Virginia, attended, and took his seat.

A motion was made by Mr. [Elbridge] Gerry, seconded by Mr. [James] McHenry,

That the Commander in Chief be authorised and directed, after the evacuation of New York by the British forces, to discharge the federal army, except 500 men, with proper officers, or such number as he may judge necessary for garrisoning the posts, and guarding the public magazines of the United States.

And that this motion be referred to the Commander in Chief, to take order.

On the question to agree to this, the yeas and nays being required by Mr. [James] McHenry...

So the question was lost.

Not sure why the NC and SC delegates were split, defeating the motion through the lack of unanimity required by our stupid Articles.  But the whole Evacauation thing was rife with controversy.  First, the Preliminary Articles of Peace from the previous November stipulated:

All Prisoners on both sides shall be set at Liberty, & his Britannic Majesty shall, with all convenient speed, & without causing any Destruction or carrying away any Negroes, or other Property of the American Inhabitants withdraw all his Armies Garrisons and Fleets from the said United States.

British General Guy Carleton wrote American General George Washington in May detailing his interpretation of the agreement:

I enclose a copy of an order which I have given out to prevent the carrying away any negroes, or other property of the american Inhabitants. I understand from the Gentlemen therein named, that they visited the fleet bound to Nova Scotia, and ordered on shore whatever came clearly under the above description; There appeared to be but little difference of opinion, except in the case of negroes who had been declared free previous to my arrival: as I had no right to deprive them of that liberty I found them possessed of, an accurate register was taken of every circumstance respecting them, so as to serve as a record of the name of the original proprietor of the negro, and as a rule by which to judge of his value: by this open method of conducting the business I hoped to prevent all fraud, and whatever might admit of different constructions is left open for future explanation or compensation. Had these negroes been denied permission to embark, they would, in spite of every means to prevent it, have found various methods of quitting this place, so that the former owner would no longer have been able to trace them, and of course would have lost, in every way, all chance of compensation.

Boohoo say American Slavers:

I am sorry to learn that so many of your Negroes are still missing; & the more so, as I fear that it will not be an easy matter to recover them. Sr. Guy Carleton has very explicitly given it as his opinion that the Negroes within the British Lines can not be claimed by virtue of the Preliminary Treaty, as property belonging to the Citizens of the United States, because they have been declared free by Proclamations, issued by Officers acting under the authority of the King of Great Britain. This is a most impudent evasion of the Treaty; & yet we are not in a condition to help ourselves. 

Sadly, America was just too darn weak to make the British not take our human chattel.  I'm sure American General John Kelly will help make us great enough to prevent such foreign impudence in future...


November 4, 2017 in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink


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