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The American Revolution
Revolutionary War: The Home Front
Reverend Jacob Duche to George Washington, October 8, 1777

The letter below suggests that Reverend Duche had been a friend or acquaintance of George Washington. Duche, however, was a loyalist. What is he trying to persuade Washington to do? What arguments does he use to try to convince Washington? How would you judge the overall tone of Duche's letter to Washington?

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IF this letter should find you in council, or in the field, before you read another sentence I beg you to take the first opportunity of retiring and weighing it's important contents.--You are perfectly acquainted with the part I formerly took in the present unhappy contest. I was, indeed, among the first to bear my public testimony against having any recourse to threats, or indulging a thought of an armed opposition. The current, however, was too strong for my feeble efforts to resist. I wished to follow my countrymen as far only as virtue, and the righteousness of their cause, would permit me. I was, however, prevailed on, among the rest of my clerical brethren in this city, to gratify the pressing desires of my fellow citizens, by preaching a sermon to the second city battalion. I was pressed to publish this sermon, and reluctantly consented. . . .My sermon speaks for itself, and wholly disclaims the idea of Independency. My sentiments were well known to my friends; I communicated them, without reserve, to many respectable members of Congress, who expressed their warm approbation of it then. . . .

And now, dear Sir, suffer me, in the language of truth and real affection, to address myself to you. All the world must be convinced you are engaged in the service of your country from motives perfectly disinterested. You risked every thing that was dear to you, abandoned the sweets of domestic life, which your affluent fortune can give the uninterrupted enjoyment of. But, had you, could you have had, the least idea of matters being carried to such a dangerous extremity? Your most intimate friends shuddered at the thought of a separation from the mother country, and I took it for granted that your sentiments coincided with theirs. What then can be the consequence of this rash and violent measure and degeneracy of representation, confusion of councils, blunders without number? The most respectable characters have withdrawn themselves, and are succeeded by a great majority of illiberal and violent men. Take an impartial view of the present Congress, and what can you expect from them? Your feelings must be greatly hurt by the representation of your natural province. You have no longer a Randolph, a Bland, or a Braxton, men whose names will ever be revered, whose demands never ran above the first ground on which they set out, and whose truly glorious and virtuous sentiments I have frequently heard with rapture from their own lips.--Oh! my dear Sir, what a sad contrast of characters now present,--others whose friends can ne'er mingle with your own.--Your Harrison alone remains, and he disgusted with the unworthy associates. As to those of my own province, some of them are so obscure, that their very names were never in my ears before, and others have only been distinguished for the weakness of their understandings, and the violence of their tempers. One alone I except from the general charge,--a man of virtue, dragged reluctantly into their measures, and restrained, by some false ideas of honour, from retreating, after having gone too far. You cannot be at a loss to discover whose name answers to this character.

. . . After this view of the Congress, turn to the Army.--The whole world knows that its only existence depends upon you; that your death of captivity disperses it in a moment, and that there is not a man on that side the question in America, capable of succeeding you.--As to the army itself, what have you to expect from them.--Have they not frequently abandoned you yourself, in the hour of extremity? Can you, have you the least confidence in a set of undisciplined men and officers, many of them have been taken from the lowest of the people, without prinple, without courage; take away them who surround your person, How very few are there you can ask to sit at your table?--As to your little navy, of that little, what is left? Of the Delaware fleet part are taken, the rest must soon surrender--Of those in the other provinces some are taken, one or two at sea, and others lying unmanned and unrigged in your harbours; and now where are your resources? Oh my dear Sir, How sadly have you been abused by a faction void of truth, and void of tenderness to you and your country! . . . A British army, after having passed unmolested thro a vast extent of country, have possessed themselves of the Capital of America. How unequal the contest! How fruitless the expence of blood? Under so many discouraging circumstances, can Virtue, can Honour, can the Love of your Country, prompt you to proceed? Humanity itself, and sure humanity is no stranger to your breast, calls upon you to desist.--Your army must perish for want of common necessaries, or thousands of innocent families must perish to support them; where-ever they encamp, the country must be impoverished; wherever they march, the troops of Britain will pursue, and must complete the destruction which America herself has began; perhaps it may be said, it is better to die than to be made slaves. This indeed is a splendid maxim in theory, and perhaps in some instances may be found experimentally true; but when there is the least probability of an happy accommodations, surely wisdom and humanity call for some sacrifices to be made, to prevent inevitable destruction. You well know there is but one invincible bar to such an accommodation, could this be removed, other obstacles might be removed readily be removed.

It is to you, and you alone, your bleeding country looks and calls aloud for this sacrifice, your arm alone has strength sufficient to remove this bar; may heaven inspire you with this glorious resolution of exerting your strength at this crisis, and immortalizing yourself as friend and guardian to your country; your penetrating eye needs not more explicit language to discern my meaning; with that prudence and delicacy therefore, of which I know you possessed, represent to Congress the indispensible necessity of rescinding the hasty and ill-advised declaration of Independency- Recommend, and you have an undoubted right to recommend, an immediate cessation of hostilities. Let the controversy be taken up where that declaration left it, and where Lord Howe certainly expected to find it left. Let men of clear and impartial characters, in or out of Congress liberal in their sentiments, heretofore, independent in their fortunes; and some such may be found in America, be appointed to confer with his Majesty's commissioners. Let them, if they please, prepare, some well-digested constitutional plan, to lay before them at the commencement of the negociation; when they have gone this far, I am confident the usual happy consequences will ensue; unanimity will immediately take place through the different provinces; thousands who are now ardently wishing and praying for such a measure, will step forth, and declare themselves the zealous advocates, for constitutional liberty, and millions will bless the hero that left the field of war, to decide this most important contest with the weapons of wisdom and humanity. Oh! Sir, let no false ideas of worldly honour deter you from engaging in so glorious a task, whatever centuries may be thrown out, by mean illiberal minds, your character will rise in the estimation of the virtuous and noble; it will appear with lustre in the annals of history, and form a glorious contrast, to that of those, who have fought to obtain conquest, and gratify their own ambition by the destruction of their species, and the ruin of their country. Be assured, Sir, that I write not this under the eye of any British officer, or person connected with the British army, or ministry. The sentiments I express, are the real sentiments of my own heart, such as I have long held, and which I should have made known to you by letter before, had I not fully expected an opportunity of a private conference. . . . I love my country. I love you; but the love of truth, the love peace, and the love of God, I hope I should be enabled, if called upon to the tryal, to sacrifice every other inferior love. If the arguments made use of in this letter should have so much influence as to engage you in the glorious work, which I have warmly recommended, I shall ever deem my success the highest temporal favour that Providence could grant me. Your interposition and advice, I am confident, would meet a favourable reception from the authority under which you act, if it should not, you have an infallible recourse still left, negociate for your country at the head of your army. After all it may appear presumption as an individual to address himself to you on a subject of such magnitude, or to say what measures would best secure the interest and welfare of a whole continent. The friendly and favourable opinion you have always expressed for me, emboldens me to undertake it, and which has greatly added to the weight of this motive; I have been strongly impressed with a sense of duty upon the occasion, which left my conscience uneasy, and my heart afflicted till I fully discharged it. I am no enthusiast; the cause is new and singular to me, but I could not enjoy one moment's peace till this letter was written, with the most ardent prayers for your spiritual, as well as temporal welfare.
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