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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

British Mismanagement in America

By Joseph Galloway (1731–1803)

[Plain Truth; or a Letter to the Author of Dispassionate Thoughts on the American War. 1780.]

THAT country, I affirm, and from the most perfect knowledge of the disposition of the people I am ready to prove by the most satisfactory testimony, contains a vast body of subjects faithful to the Crown; and that five out of six of its whole inhabitants sincerely wish for a perfect union in polity with this country, from a thorough conviction that their future interest and happiness depend entirely upon it. I will go farther, in affirming from my certain knowledge, that tens of thousands are at this moment willing and desirous to assist Government in suppressing the rebellion and uniting with Great Britain against the power of the House of Bourbon. But, sir, that war has been hitherto conducted from the beginning by persons to whom the executive management of it has been given, on policy totally reverse to all the dictates of common sense.

When a general enters into an extensive country of numerous inhabitants, the first thing pointed out by common sense as necessary to his success is to know if the people are divided in opinions, if they are formed into parties, and if any of those parties are either disposed or can be persuaded to assist him; and, if any of them are friends to the measure he has undertaken, cordially to encourage, and with confidence to employ them. Now, it is known to every man who has endeavored to make himself acquainted with the true state of the Middle and Southern Colonies, that ever since the declaration of Independence there have been two determined parties formed in that country; one, by far the majority of the people, zealously attached to their Sovereign and the British Government. And yet it is also known to every man in America and to every American who is now in Britain and lately come from America, that until within a few months all the tenders of service, all the numerous offers of assistance from the Loyalists, have been rejected by our generals. That while the Congress left no severity unessayed to suppress their exertions in favor of Government, the British commanders, coadjutors of the Congress in the measure, treated them—and among them some men of the first weight and influence in America—with ineffable disregard and contempt. Thus was the spirit of loyalty and affection to their Sovereign: thus was the most laudable of all principles ground, as it were, between the upper and nether millstone. And yet, like the faith of the three holy children when thrown into the furnace, their loyalty has sustained the fiery trial, and remains inviolate to this moment.

Another instance of the folly and misconduct in the management of the American war was equally criminal with the one I have mentioned, and one of the causes of our want of success. I have ever thought that when a general marches out against his enemy it is with design to meet him, and if superior to him in force to give him battle; and if successful in battle, after defeat to pursue, in order to take or disperse his force; because every man of reflection knows that after the collected force of an enemy in a country without garrisons, as is the case generally in America, is once reduced, the country itself is conquered. This policy is so obvious, so consistent with military duty and the practice of great commanders, that it is difficult to account for a neglect of it. And yet we have seen our generals at the head of a force which has been six times greater than that of the enemy they had to oppose, either sleeping or rioting in their quarters; or indolently following, or shamefully retreating before, and often besieged in their garrisons by, that enemy….

The British, like the Roman Colonies, have been, in a manner, lost by the erroneous polity in their settlement, and afterward by the inattention of the State to a reformation of that polity. Neither of them were settled upon those principles which reason and a small share of political knowledge clearly pointed out. The principles of their establishment were totally different from those of the Parent State, and consequently tended to break, in time, the uniformity of the State. Rome, though a free government, gave her colonies too little liberty and governed them for a time by her absolute power. Great Britain, though a mixed government, wisely and excellently composed out of the materials of the three simple forms, gave to her colonies too much liberty; by far more than accorded with her own established polity, and even more than consisted with true civil liberty itself. Her inferior colonial societies were either formed into principalities with little more than a shadow of dependence or subordination, or they were perfect democracies, in a manner independent. Thus Rome and Britain wandered from true wisdom and policy in the settlement of their acquired territories, in different and opposite extremes; extremes which naturally produced the same effects—the revolt of their colonies.

But had Rome settled her vacant territory with citizens, and not colonists; had she governed them by the same principles of polity, and given to them the same proportion of civil liberty, which governed and was enjoyed by the citizen at Rome, the cause of their revolt could never have happened, nor the revolt itself have taken place. And had Britain, in like manner, in the settlement of her colonies established their inferior governments on the same principles of mixed polity by which the people in Britain were ruled; and had she incorporated and united them with her legislature on the same principle upon which the people of Britain were united, they would not have thought of revolting without some violent acts of oppression to incite them to it. The seeds of disaffection sowed in the heterogeneous principles of polity, which are to be found in their colonial systems, could not have existed; because, as their general laws would in that case have flowed from the same fountain, and their particular codes would have been derived from polity of the same nature with that which governed the people of Britain, their political habits, manners, and attachments would have been the same. Those political bands, that cement of national union and harmony, founded in one legislative authority, and arising from the same laws, habits, customs, and manners, which ever did and ever will bind together the members of all societies, would have bound the subject in America as firmly to the State as the subject in Britain. Educated in the same political and national creed, Britons and Americans would have possessed the same faith. They would have heard with the same ear, seen with the same eye, and judged with the same understanding. Their national pride and honor would have been one, and their respect and affections would have been invariably directed to the same supreme head, from whence they equally derived all their protection and happiness. All principle of revolt would have been excluded, and the State would have possessed the same political security for the obedience, fidelity, and attachment of the people in America which it has for those in Scotland, Wales, or any shire in the kingdom.