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FOR JULY, 1851.


SOME months since an American gentleman, distinguished for the assiduity and success of his American historical researches, obtained from Europe a consignment of manuscripts referring particularly to the past of Mexico, the West Indies and the Spanish Main. Among them are nine volumes of the papers of Admirals Sir Charles Wager and Edward Vernon, who, in the times in which they were written, commanded his Britannic Majesty's squadrons operating off the coast of the North American colonies, the West Indies, and, generally, in and near the Mexican Gulf. Kindly permitting a friend of somewhat similar tastes to read them and copy such as he judged of peculiar public interest, the latter has placed at our disposal the result of his fortnight's examination, which we here give to the world, as embracing an exceedingly curious development of the spirit of the times and the policy originally governing Britain and Spain respectively, with reference to this continent. They also show conclusively that political morals of nations-a century ago, were far behind those which now prevail in point of integrity of national purpose, and respect for what were then considered national rights. By way of accounting for the remarkable part our parent government seems to have played in the affairs of which these papers treat, it is but justice to write


that her statesmen utterly denied the authority of the Pope to cede to Spain the vast and valuable domain in the New World, which she claimed in virtue of that functionary's grant; that is, to so much as she had failed to colonize. The commercial laws enacted by Spain for her American possessions, nominal and real, were undoubtedly most oppressive to the commerce of other nations; and after finding remonstrance to be in vain, Britain adopted the system of encouraging buccaneering or privateering upon Spanish bottoms and settlements, by way of harassing that government until its citizens should, for the sake of peace, force it to grant the privileges to her citizens for which she contended.

These papers, for the first time here printed, are fifteen in number, and embrace a clearer exposition of the affairs of that quarter in 1738, '9 and '40, than we can present in any other manner; being generally tersely written and replete with facts, very many of which bear most forcibly on international questions which at this epoch most interest the people of the United States. As we are persuaded that they need few comments for their elucidation, or to give them interest to the reader, we shall merely add explanations illustrative of the history of the times in the summary of the manuscripts which we here present.


No. 1 is a copy of the terms of capitula- | tion at the surrender of Fort St. Lorenzo, at the mouth of the river Chagre, to Admiral Vernon, March 24, 1739; Britain and Spain being then nominally at peace.

Admiral Vernon was the relative of the Washington family, after whom Mount Vernon on the Potomac was called, who, it will be remembered, procured the appointment of a midshipman in the British Navy for George Washington when a youth, which he declined. He (Vernon) was indeed the Nelson of his times.

No 2 is a list of certain cargoes arriving in the bay of Cadiz on the 13th of March, 1739, found among these manuscripts, preserved as though the desire to possess themselves of such treasures formed perhaps the greatest inducement for the proceedings of the English in those waters.

No. 3 is a letter from Mr. William Hamilton, bearing date May 14th, 1739, to the government, covering his proposal for taking Cuba, Britain and Spain being then at peace.

This project was carried out (in its essential features) in 1762, when on the 12th of August of that year Havana capitulated to a combined English and colonial force. About $14,000,000 of the money of the King of Spain fell into the hands of the victors. In the first division of this spoil, the English commander-in-chief (of the expedition) was awarded for his share £86,000.

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No. 4 is the project of William Hamilton above refered to.

No. 5 is a copy of the instructions from the Duke of Newcastle to Admiral Brown, commander of the Jamaica squadron, dated June 15th, 1739, ordering that officer to war on the persons and property of Spanish subjects. In this paper the Minister justifies this order-the countries being at peace -on account particularly of the failure of the King of Spain to pay £95,000 on the 29th of the previous month, according to the terms of an existing convention. On the 20th of August, 1739, the King of Spain published a manifesto in explanation of his reasons for failing to make the payment; alleging that Britain had neglected to comply with the stipulations on her part, in consideration of which Spain had agreed to pay that sum. In pursuance of these instructions the Chester, Capt. Haddock, on the 23d of September, 1739, captured the St. Joseph, a Spanish galleon, off Cadiz, from Carraccas, acquiring an immense booty. On the 12th of the following month, (October,) the King of England formally declared the existence of the war by proclamation. The expedition against the possessions of the King of France on the Ohio, ending in the memorable defeat of General Braddock, bythe-by, was undertaken by the British Government before declaring the existence of the war which followed.

No. 6 is an interesting memorial to Lord Harrington, (without signature,) bearing date, 18th June, 1739, relative to the proposed renewal of the attempt to colonize at Darien.

No. 7 is Admiral Sir Charles Wager's project for taking Carthagena and Panama, and harassing the Spaniards every where on the coast and waters of the Pacific. This paper bears date, Nov. 6, 1739.

No. 8 is a copy of a letter from Admiral Vernon to His Excellency Governor Dottin, of Barbadoes, complaining of the manner in which his operations were being crippled for the want of proper co-operation on the part

of others.

No. 9 is a dispatch, (the particular address wanting,) bearing date, Jan. 28, 1740, relating an account of a sea-fight between six English vessels and four French, (the nations being then at peace,) the former aiming to enforce the right of search, and the latter successfully resisting it.

No. 10, a project for the reduction of the

province of Guatemala and securing the trade of Peru, &c., submitted to the English Ministry on the 3d of March, 1740, by Mr. William Lea.

No. 11, a report or dispatch bearing date, April 12, 1740, from Mr. Robert Hodgson, the agent sent by His Excellency, Governor Trelawney, of Jamaica, to take possession of the Mosquito Coast, formally raising the British standard there, for the first time.

No. 12, a letter bearing date, May 7th, 1740, from a Spanish gentleman in Panama to his friend in Carthagena, describing the business condition of those regions, owing to the depredations committed by the British fleets and privateers.

No. 13, an account (dated, May 11th, 1740) of the high-handed, illegal, and cruel proceedings of a New-York privateer, commanded by John Lush, in the vicinity of Porto Bello, being a report or narrative from Lieut. Charles Wimbleton, R. N.

No. 14, Mr. Robert Hodgson's second report to Governor Trelawney, (dated, June 21st, 1740,) describing his proceedings among the Mosquito Indians, the failure of his scheme for surprising and plundering Panama, &c., &c.

No. 15, an addition to the dispatch last above mentioned, written on the 12th of July, 1740.

The style of composition and orthography of the originals were adhered to in making these transcripts as nearly as possible, words being supplied (to perfect the sense) which had accidentally been omitted by the


The publication of these papers has necessarily suggested to our mind the importance of the preservation of the valuable American historical library of Col. Peter Force, of Washington City, which is said to consist of some 30,000 printed volumes and nearly 150,000 manuscript volumes, and important single manuscripts, all of which bear on the history of this continent, north and south, and the islands on its coasts. It is beyond question the most important and valuable collection upon American history in the world, and should be in the custody of the United States, rather than as at present the property of a private individual, kept in buildings which are not fire-proof.

Mr. Force, who is the compiler of the "American Archives," has devoted the greater part of a long and useful life, and

the profits from his labors on that great work, in building up this library, which, if not obtained by the Government before his death, will probably be disposed of by the auctioneer "in lots to suit purchasers;" thus entirely destroying its value. It will be almost impossible in such an event to prevent many of the most important works and papers which it embraces from going abroad, as foreign governments and literary societies hesitate not to pay prices for such things, which in this country would be considered enormous. We close this introduction with an acknowledgment of the great value of the historical researches of Colonel Force, the more cheerfully, because, in a late number of this Review, injustice was done to that gentleman, entirely without the knowledge or consent of the proprietor, in an article bearing wholly on a different subject.

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that Great Britain, in that case, must become possessed of the whole trade of the Spanish empire there, and if the simple privilege of trading with those people upon very high terms is now become one of the greatest prizes contended for by all the powers in Europe, sure England will not neglect any opportunity w is offered of acquiring such a possession as must infallibly secure that whole invaluable trade to its subjects alone, especially since Great Britain is now in a fair way of loosing all the trade she has hitherto had with those parts. is proposed therefore to take Cuba without putting England to any material expence or

SIR-If ever the heart of man conceived any thing for yR service of his country and those he honours, I have, in what you receive herewith to serve mine and its gover.

I am convinced, from my own knowledge of the people and things of America, that what I propose is to be accomplished.

I will not take upon me to represent to you ye inconceivable advantages which would accrue to this nation from its being poesssed of the place mentioned, but I will venture to say, were it to be gained at this time, it would be a definite blow to all S Robert Walpole's opposers, and render his memory more glorious and imortall than all the ministers that ever served the crown of England.


From Mr. Hamilton, in Strafford street, trouble, in ye following manner, viz1:
Picadilly, the 14th May, 1736.

For a person of conduct and experience to be commissioned from hence, for the chief command in this expedition to take Cuba, &c.

However, sir, tho' neither you nor he should approve of the designe, yet I can make one part of y proposall a means of establishing a general fund in America, we will be of great service in several respects. If I could but know that my intention met wth your approbation it would give me a sensible pleasure, but I submit that to your goodness; and whatever you may think of me, I am, with great respect, sir, your most obed' and most humble serv',

J. HAMILTON. [Endorsed on back, "With a proposall for taking Cuba."]

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That as soon as such person is so commissioned and properly instructed, he is to repair with all expedition to America, and at the same time another proper person should be commissioned and sent to America, with instructions to begin at the most northern colony and proceed from one province to another and apply to the governments for each of them according to their respective capacitys, to furnish their quota of proper transports with 6 months provisions in each for as many men as they severally carry; and that each province, according to the number of transports they severally furnish, shall raise a sufficient number of men to fill them, completely armed with ammunition, &c. That the number of men thus raised and armed, shall consist of 10,000; and at the same time if such persons are commissioned and sent away, it will be necessary to send instructions of the same import to the several governors in America to issue orders and give their best assistance to fitt out with all expedition such transports, &c., and men so equipped.

That when each province has so furnished their quota of transports and men, according to their abilitys, these shall immediately repair to one place appointed, which may be at South Carolina, and from thence proceed, under the command and direction of the person to be commissioned from hence,

They may, (if it shall appear advisable,) on their passage, make a feint to take St. Augustine, and having managed that stratagem properly, they are to proceed to the island of Cuba and land in the bay of Ma


A proposall to take the Island of Cuba with very little expence to England, by a force raised in the American Colonies. If the crown of England could become possessed of the island of Cuba, that key of all America, no man of knowledge can denye but


tanza, that being a good harbor and not guarded, yet lying the nearest of any other proper one to y° Havana. Here they shall land 7 or 8000 men, more or less, as necessity shall require, and with that force, to march down and pich at a proper distance to surround the Havana and cutt off all manner of provisions going thereto by land; at the same time that some ships shall lye before the town to prevent any provisions or relief coming to it by sea, in which situation that important place must surrender in a very short time. In order to render this conquest both sure and expeditious, it will be necessary to send 6 or 8 sixty gun ships and two bomb keches, with about 2000 troops on board them, which if necessary, may be joined by some of y' station ships now in America.

These ships of war are intended, some to lye before the Havana to play against ye town and cutt off all relief and provisions by sea, while the American forces besiege it by land and the rest of the ships are to take care of the Gard da Costas.

These 10,000 men being furnished and maintained by y several colonys in America, will render y conq' of this important place not only secretly secure, but very cheap to England; for that number of forces being raised there, will with greater certainty conquer that place than 400,000 men would, to be sent from Britain, because they are inur'd to the American climate and will live soberer than Britains can be prevailed to do. By these forces and by these only, every man of judgment who knows y° situation of that place and will speake with truth and candor, will lay it down as a fact, that it is to be gained with great certainty in y" way proposed; and if it be thus gained upon such easy terms to England, it would be offering an affront to ye understanding of every man of sense, to pretend to recount the unlimited advantages which must accrue to Great Britain from its being possessed of the island of Cuba alone.

If the conquest of Cuba is effected, a small part of the force which does that, may with very little trouble take Porto Rico and St. Augustine, if it shall appear advisable so to do. The British colonies in America lying so near y object in view, before y° knowl- | edge of the proposed attack can reach to Europe, y whole designe will be executed. It may be asked how it is possible to go upon y proposed expedition without its be

ing known by inquisitive, diligent foreign spies, since ships of war are to be sent from England?

In answer to that, 'tis to be hoped England can be as politic as her neighbors: look one way and steer y contrary. It may, for this purpose, be given out by some that England is going to re-enforce some of its colonys; by others that she is going to resume the settlement of Darien, &c. In short, there's no human appearance of this attempts miscarrying, if the knowledge of it is confined to a cabinet council, and a fitt person appointed for yo chief command.

The proposer is so well assured his own knowledge, that the American people can be brought, by proper management, to fitt y transports and raise the men proposed, that he will undertake to accomplish it by his own personal application, without either view or inclination of cuting out or accepting of any place or command of profit in ye whole transaction.

If there be an inclination to attempt this greatest of acquisitions, it is presumed no material objection can be made to the nature of the proposall. It may be urg'd indeed, yt it will be dishonourable to make such an attempt while there's a treaty on foot with Spain; but such an objection must stand or fall by the wisdom and at y discretion of his Majesty's ministers. Though it is humbly presumed if the word politick be not an empty sound, [neither] that objection nor none like it can hold.

It is to be observed that if y° preparation of y transports, and men proposed, is not to be set on foot till it is seen that nothing can be done with ye court of Spain, by treaty, for ye advantage of ye British nation, it will then be too late to begin to prepare and collect them. It is presumed they should be prepared as soon as possible, in order to be collected and ready to go upon the attack when necessity may make it proper: and if it shall appear that there will be no occasion to make such an attack, after they are got in readiness the design may be laid aside, without inconveniency to England in either case.

It may be asked, were Cuba taken, how it would be garrisoned without forces from England?-for 'tis to be understood that ye American people who are proposed to be raised, must not be compelled to stay in y garrison against their own inclination.

In answer to y', 'tis sufficient now to say

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