Thursday, October 05, 2006

"Our greatest Enemies are within ourselves..."

Letters of Delegates to Congress: Volume 7 May 1, 1777 - September 18, 1777.
“...Our greatest Enemies are within ourselves & not among those Men who oppose us by Arms or who honestly & openly profess themselves averse from our measures & politics. You would be astonished were you here to see the number & influence of the property Men. I call them so because almost every Man of them were the most Vigorous in opposing the measures of the British Ministry until they perceived that opposition, proceeding to a serious War, then fear of the Loss of Life & Estate shocked their faith. they wished to remain neuter, they still acknowledged that America had been greatly aggreived but withdrew from the Councils & Society of their former Colleagues under pretences, some that Independence had been declared too soon, others that it had never been their design to be Independent. A few such we have in Carolina, observe them, they are Men of property called sensible & good Sort of Men. They are cunning Men, & their cunning is exceedingly baneful to a cause which in their hearts they wish well. If we lose that Cause it will be the effect of their timidity & their pernicious examples. Whether their wishes to enjoy their Estates in quiet will succeed I know not-I rather beleive they will drag a few years of life through painful reproaches & reflections- but I say, Such Men in this State & that of New York abound-& unless the progress of Burgoyne & his junction with Sir William Howe is Speedily prevented they will have room to expand to join the Enemy & to reduce the friends of Freedom to the utmost hazards & difficulties. . . . .These extraordinary circumstances hurt a few people, I am one among the hurt, but they by no means threaten immediate ruin to America, yet from them these property Men denounce our destruction & are very industrious to impress the minds of weak people with the most direful apprehensions. Some Steps have been taken by the Executive power to remove such Men from the Capital, weak & feeble attempts & hitherto without any good effect. We are not yet Sufficiently distressed to make us Sufficiently in earnest. An old friend of mine now a rigid Tory, complained to me of the friends of Liberty who had on the 4 July broke the Glass Windows of such quiet people as had refused to illuminate their Houses upon that anniversary. In reply I expressed my concern for the ill timed destruction of Glass and added for his consolation, that he might depend upon this as a type of broken bones to that Glass unless they soon reformed or removed out of the Country.”
- Henry Laurens to John Lewis Gervais, 5th August 1777.

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