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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

A Comparison of Two Nations

By Robert R. Livingston (1746–1813)

[Letter to John Adams.—The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution. 1830.]

DEAR SIR: I write merely to put you on your guard against any falsehood the enemy may think it necessary to publish about the time of opening their budget. All is well here. There has been no action to the southward. Many of the tories in North Carolina, enraged at being deserted, have joined our army, and, as is said, executed some of their leaders. The enemy have drawn all their troops into Charleston, and our advanced parties are as low down as Haddell’s point.

I congratulate you upon the brilliant expedition of the Marquis de Bouille. It does him the highest honor, and his subsequent conduct forms such a contrast to that of the English, as must, I should suppose, have great influence upon the minds of the people with you, and forward your negotiations. The one fighting to oppress and enslave a free people, the other to establish their rights; the one attempting to tyrannize over the ocean, and fetter the commerce of the world, the other resisting that tyranny, and rendering trade as free as nature made it; the one insulting, plundering, and abusing an old friend, an ally, in the midst of profound peace, the other extending in war mercy to their bitterest enemies, and marching to conquest with domestic peace in their train; the one burning defenceless towns and peaceful villages, where they have been hospitably entertained, the other guarding from violence with scrupulous attention the firesides of their inveterate foes; the one murdering in cold blood, or more cruelly by want and misery in prison ships, those who speak the same language, profess the same religion, and spring from the same ancestors; the other forgetting difference of religion, language, and hereditary enmity, spare the vanquished, administer to their wants, offer consolation to their distress, and prove more by their conduct than by their professions, that they are armed in the cause of humanity.

The one, without regard to truth or decency, boasts of victories never gained, and ostentatiously exaggerates the little advantages which superior numbers have sometimes given, while the other leaves the debility of their enemy to express the brilliancy of their actions. The one—but I should never have done if I were to mark the points in which the British differ from a brave, humane, and polished nation. The recapture of St. Eustatia in all its circumstances, and the disgraceful defence of Yorktown, prove that they are no longer the people we once thought them; if ever they were brave and generous, they have lost those virtues with the spirit of freedom. Adieu, my Dear Sir, may your exertions in the cause of your country be attended with all the success they merit.

I have the honor to be, etc.,
PHILADELPHIA, 9 January, 1782.