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test between Great Britain and her colonies; the same principle of love of my country actuates my present conduct, however it may appear inconsistent to the world, who very seldom judge right of any man's actions.
“ I have no favour to ask for myself. I have too often expe. rienced the ingratitude of my country to attempt it; but from the known humanity of your excellency, I am induced to ask your protection for Mrs. Arnold, from every insult and injury that a mistaken vengeance of my country may expose her to. It ought to fall only on me: she is as good and as innocent as an angel and is incapable of doing wrong. I beg she may be permitted to return to her friends in Philadelphia, or to come to me, as she may choose.”
The option was, accordingly, given to Mrs. Arnold. She said that she would share the fate of her husband; but, before joining him, she desired to see her parents once more, and to bid them adicu for the rest of her life. She was conducted to Philadelphia with such attentions as her adversity alone could have claimed for her. The first fervours of indignation were allayed, and the sternest republicans rejected the idea of making her answerable for the crime of her husband. She had a signal proof of this moderation in the course of her journey. She stopped to pass the night in a town, where preparations were on foot, to burn Arnold in effigy with the festivities and bustle which accompany the expression of popular hate as well as of popular affection. As soon as she was known to be in the town, these preparations were suspended.
It was certainly desirable that all the circumstances of the plot should be traced; and yet when a judge was urged to subject her to interrogatories, he answered that she ought not to be exposed either to speak against the truth, or to violate the respect and attachment which she owed her husband. The public were not ignorant that she had contributed to throw Arnold into the British party; but her misfortunes, and, perhaps also, the exquisite graces with which she was adorned, awakened a general interest in her favour. She drew commiseration for her lot as the wife of a man who had justly incurred universal abhorrence; and the obloquy attached to the name she bore, seemed a punishment at least equal to her demerits. When she set out to join Arnold among the enemies of his country, she entered her carriage in open day, without experiencing any mark of that hate of which he had become the object.
Jameson caused his unknown prisoner to be strictly guarded. The latter at first suppressed his true name from consideration for Arnold; but, the day after his capture, supposing that c he American general had had time to make his escape, he said to Jameson: "My name is not Anderson; I am major André.” He wrote a letter to the commander in chief, which was neither cringing nor arrogant, and in which he vindicated himself with calmness, and as if persuaded that he had not transgressed the laws of war. It was conceived in these terms.
“Salem, 24th Sept. 1780.
“ I beg your excellency will be persuaded, that no alteration in the temper of my mind or apprehension for my safety, induces me to take the step of addressing you; but that it is to secure myself from an imputation of having assumed a mean character for treacherous purposes or self interest; a conduct incompatible with the principles that actuated me, as well as with my condition in life.
“ It is to vindicate my fame that I speak, and not to solicit security.
“ The person in your possession is Major John André, Adjutant General to the British army.
“ The influence of one commander in the army of his adversary is an advantage taken in war. A correspondence for this purpose I held, as confidential (in the present instance) with his excellency Sir Henry Clinton.
“To favour it, I agreed to meet upon ground not within posts of either army, a person who was to give me intelligence. I came up in the Vulture man of war for this effect, and was fetched by the boat from the shore to the beach; being there, I was told that the approach of day would prevent my return, and that I must be concealed until the next night. I was in my regimentals, and had fairly risked my person.
“ Against my stipulation, my intention, and without my knowledge beforehand, I was conducted within one of your posts.
“Thus, was I betrayed (being Adjutant General of the British army,) into the vile condition of an enemy within your posts.
Having avowed myself a British officer, I have nothing to reveal but what relates to myself, which is true, on the honour of an officer and a gentleman.
“The request I have made to your excellency, and I am conscious that I address myself well, is, that in any rigour policy may dictate, a decency of conduct towards me may mark, that, though unfortunate, I am branded with nothing dishonourable; as no 'motive could be mine, but the service of my king, and as I was involuntarily an impostor.”
Washington possessed great humanity; but the rules of war forbade mercy to convicted spies, and he had no right to suspend the laws of Congress. Clinton, when told that his friend VOL. II.
was threatened with death, wrote to the American General, and, contrary to his usual practice, omitted none of the forms of respect and courtesy which the state of war allows. He appealed to the immunities of a flag of truce, alleged the passport and the quality of prisoner of war, &c.
Washington had privately consulted Congress, before bringing the prisoner to trial. This assembly did not formally deliberate on the matter, but they signified to him that there was no motive in this case for staying the course of justice. He immediately constituted a board consisting of six major, and eight brigadier generals, to determine the fate of André. Two foreign generals, La Fayette and Steuben, were, as the laws prescribed, members of this board.
André experienced from his judges every indulgence compatible with the performance of their duty. He answered with manly frankness all the interrogatories-except only those which went to implicate other persons. He was even tender of Arnold, the cause of his misfortune, and whom he might have arraigned without exposing him to danger. It was expected that he would, after his examination, attempt to make a defence, and to extenuate the charges; but he disdained all falsification or evasion. He said merely: “ I do not acknowledge myself guilty; but I am resigned to my fate.” The introduction of witnesses was of course superfluous, and it only remained for the Board to adjudge the punishment. This obligation, they fulfilled with evident pain. They reported to General Washington, after having maturely considered the facts (which they detailed,)“ that Major " André ought to be considered as a spy from the enemy, and “ that, agreeable to the law and usage of nations, he ought to 6 suffer death.'
André heard this sentence with less emotion than was displayed by the president of the Board in pronouncing it. Some one having suggested to him that he might escape both with life and liberty, if he could cause Arnold to be delivered up in his place, he shrunk with disgust from this expedient. He had no knowledge of a private enterprise, of which the leading object was his safety, and which Washington secretly encouraged. An American serjeant-major of cavalry, an intrepid, resolute man, disappeared from the American camp, and imposed himself upon
the British at New York as a deserter. He found accomplices, and their purpose was to carry off Arnold. Had they succeeded, the renegade would have suffered an ignominious death, and André have been pardoned. This project, the offspring of benevolence, although not exactly consonant to the laws of nations, was managed with as much address, as courage and fidelity. It escaped detection, and failed only through disappointments impossible to be foreseen.
Sir Henry Clinton, on learning the decision of the Board, from a communication made to him by Washington, redoubled his efforts to prevent its being carried into effect. He sent without delay, three deputies to the American camp, in a flag-ves. sel. Only one of them was permitted to land. This was General Robertson. Greene was appointed to meet him. The English officer urged, in the conference which ensued, whatever the law of nations or the ingenuity of friendship could furnish in support of his errand.
“ Humanity,” he observed, “ should mitigate the too rigid “ laws of war. An inexorable severity yielded bitter fruit. It “ engendered inveterate animosities; while clemency, sooner or
later, met with its reward. The most noble use that could be “ made of the power of the respective parties would be to pave “ the way for a thorough reconciliation by a system of mild
ness. To humble and mortify their enemy would be an un“ safe policy for the Americans, even were they triumphant; “ which could not be admitted. If the British leaders took a “ suppliant posture in this instance,
it was still with the just expectation of success in the war. There should be, for the rest “ of this contest, an emulation of good offices;—Sir Henry “ Clinton would not be outstripped in generosity. He offered “ to exchange for André any prisoner whom General Washing“ ton might be pleased to name, or, if he preferred it to sub“ mit the question of right to the French and Hanoverian Ge“ nerals, Rochambeau and Knyphausen, who, as foreigners, “ might be more impartial.”
Greene replied that the humanity of the Americans could not be surpassed by that of any nation; and that, at all events, the proper tribunal had decided. Robertson asked whether the accused could not appeal to Congress, and hinted, that, if he were deprived of this resource, the commander in chief would be answerable for the consequences.
Greene rejoined firmly and somewhat haughtily, that the American General only obeyed the laws, when he enforced them in all the latitude in which they were confided to him for execution; that the affair was no longer within the province of Congress, there being no body in America competent to intercept or invalidate the judgments of the regular tribunals.
He was about to retire when Robertson stopped him, and put into his hands an open letter from Arnold to Washington, which he requested him to read. Arnold, in this letter, declared, that, if André were put to death, “ he should think him“self bound by every tie of duty and honour to retaliate on "such unhappy persons of the American army as might fall “ within his power, so that the respect due to flags and to " the law of nations might be better understood and observed.” He added that “ forty of the principal inhabitants of South “ Carolina had justly forfeited their lives, and had hitherto “ been spared, only through the clemency of Sir Henry Clin“ ton, but the British commander could no longer extend his
mercy to them, if André suffered.” Furthermore, “if that “ warning should be disregarded and André suffer, he called “heaven and earth to witness that Washington would alone be “ answerable for the torrents of blood that might be spilt in
Greene, after having perused this letter, threw it at the feet of Robertson, and withdrew without making any reply.
Although André was justly condemned, his situation created universal sympathy. He was to perish a victim of the treachery of another, in the flower of his age, and at the dawn of a career, which his military talents, his taste for letters and the arts, and his numberless fine qualities must have rendered glorious and honourable. His conduct towards the Americans had always been marked by moderation; many were indebted to him for the preservation of their lives and property; and while others carried on the war with the rancor and violence too common in civil dissentions, he had studied to lessen and assuage its evils. The very circumstances of the conspiracy which led to his condemnation, exhibited him only as a man powerfully moved by love of country; and there was a certain elevation even in his offence.
As the fatal hour drew near, he manifested a wish to have the company of an American officer. Hamilton, one of the most valued of the army, did him this sad service. André displayed a perfect composure in his last conversations. They furnished a part of the facts which I have recorded. He seemed to take pleasure in narrating them, and spoke like an old sol. dier recounting the martial exploits of his youth.
Opinion as well as the laws, attaches infamy to spies, and the mode of their execution is congenial. André had hoped that he might be relieved from this the only appendage of his case to which he could not be resigned. The sentence was silent on the point, and dreading, while he rose superior to the terrors of death, the disgrace of the halter, he wrote the following letler to Washington.
“ Tappan, October 1. “Buoyed above the terror of death, by the consciousness of a life devoted to honourable pursuits, and stained with no action that can give me remorse, I trust that the request I make to your excellency at this serious period, and which is to soften my last moments, will not be rejected. Sympathy towards a sol