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CHAP. XIV.

1779.

fome of their best ships were loft in the defence of Charleston, the year following, as will be feen hereafter. What added to the mortification of this laft ftroke was, that these ships were prepared and ready to fail, in order to prosecute a very flattering expedition projected by the gentlemen of the navy board, in the eaftern department, when they received an exprefs order from congrefs, to fend them to South Carolina.

Scarcely any fingle event during the great conteft, caufed more triumph to Britain, than this total demolition of the beginning of an American navy. So fuccefsful and enterprising had they been, that a gentleman of the first information has obferved, that "the privateers "from Bofton in one year, would defray more "than one half the expenfe of that year's "war." By their rapid progrefs, they had given the promise of a formidable appearance on the ocean, that in time they might become a rival, even to the proud miftrefs of the feas: but this blow gave a fatal ftroke for the prefent to all farther attempts of the kind.

After the lofs of Charlefton, the fhip Alliance and the Deane frigate, were the only remnants left of the American navy. These were

* See letters of the honorable John Adams to Mr. Calkoen.

1779.

foon after fold at public auction, the navy CHAP. XIV. boards diffolved, and all maritime enterprise extinguished, except by private adventurers. They were also much lefs fortunate after the lofs of the public fhips, than they had been at the beginning of the war: it was calculated that two out of three were generally captured by the British, after the year one thousand seven hundred and eighty. Time may again revive the ambition for a naval power there, as America is abundantly replete with every thing neceffary for the equipment of fleets of magnitude and refpectability.

After all it may juftly be confidered, that the conftructing a national fleet, is but an addition to human mifery; for befides the vast expense of fuch equipments, the idle and licentious habits of a vaft body of failors, a naval armament is only a new engine to carry death and conflagration, to diftant, unoffending, innocent nations. The havoc of human life on the ocean, the great balance of evil refulting from naval engagements, if duly weighed in the fcale of equity or humanity, might lead the nations, with one general confent, to their total annihilation. Yet undoubtedly, the pride of empire and the ambition of kings, will ftill induce them to opprefs their fubjects, for the purpose of enhancing their own power, by this horrid inftrument of human carnage; and that they will continue to waft death and deftruc

CHAP. XIV.

1779.

tion to every corner of the globe, that their maritime thunders can reach.

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It is true the etiquette of modern courts ufually introduces fome plaufible apologies, as a fort of prelude to the opening of those real fcenes of war and deftruction, which they are preparing to exhibit, by that monftrous engine of mifery, a naval armament. They usually "trumpet forth the godlike attributes of jus "tice, equity, mercy, and above all, that uni"verfal benevolence and tendernefs to man"kind, with which their respective courts or "fovereigns are fuppofed to be infinitely endu"ed; and deplore in the most pathetic strains, "thofe very evils which they are bringing on, "and thofe miferies which they are exerting "their utmost powers to inflict.”

But it is to be feared it will be long before we shall see a combination of powers, whatever may be their profeffions, whofe ultimate object is the establishment of univerfal equity, liberty, and peace among mankind. War, the fcourge of the human race, either from religious or political pretences, will probably continue to torment the inhabitants of the earth, until fome new difpenfation fhall renovate the paffions, correct the vices, and elevate the mind of mortals beyond the purfuits of time.

The world has fo long witneffed the fudden and dreadful devaftation made by naval armaments, that it is unneceffary to expatiate thereon it is enough to obferve, that the fplendid display of maritime power has appeared on the largest theatres of human action. The proudeft cities have unexpectedly been invaded, and the inhabitants involved in mifery, by the fire of thofe floating engines, in too many inftances to particularize, from the firft building up a British navy, to the early attempt of America to ftrengthen themselves by following the example of the parent state, in building and equipping fhips of war, in the beginning of their oppofition to British power.

The truth of this obfervation may be evinced by a single inftance of furprife and capture, by a little fquadron under the command of commodore Hopkins, only the fecond year after hoftilities commenced between Great Britain and the colonies. The American commander of a fhip of only thirty-fix guns, and seven or eight smaller veffels, furprised New Providence, captured the governor, lieutenant governor, and other officers of the crown, feized near an hundred pieces of cannon, and carried off all the warlike ftores on the island. But not habituated to the ufual cruelties exercifed on fuch occafions, though they continued there two or three weeks, they offered no infult to the inhabitants, and took poffefion of no private

1779.

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CHAP. XIV.

1779.

property without paying for it. This was an inftance of lenity that feldom falls under obfervation, where men have been longer inured to fcenes and fervices that harden the heart, and too frequently banish humanity from the breaft of man.

The fmall naval armament conftructed by the United States, did not continue long enough in exiftence, either to attempt great enterprise, or to become hardened by the cruel achievements confequent on the invafion of cities, towns, and villages, and defolating them by the fudden torrents of fire poured in upon their inhabitants. Some future day may, however, render it neceffary for Americans to build and arm in defence of their extenfive sea-board, and the prefervation of their commerce; when they may be equally emulous of maritime glory, and become the fcourge of their fellowmen, on the fame grade of barbarity that has been exhibited by fome other nations.

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