Documentary History of the Armed Neutralities, 1780 and 1800, Vol. 1

Documentary History of the Armed Neutralities, 1780 and 1800, Vol. 1

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Excerpt from Documentary History of the Armed Neutralities, 1780 and 1800, Vol. 1: Together With Selected Documents Relating to the War of American Independence, 1776-1783 and the Dutch War 1780-1784

Life would become intolerable, the burden of affairs too heavy to be borne, the limit of the brain's endurance would be reached, if there did not come a time when the details of old controversies no longer stand in need of chapter and verse: when the historian's relation of them can be accepted as final. He has studied the papers; we may not agree with his conclusions, but at least we may take his statement of facts to be accurate. To reprint a voluminous mass of old docu ments seems an occupation more fitting the abundant leisure of the antiquary.

But history repeats itself, and the same conditions reproduce the same situations. This last war has raised in its most acute form the problem, constant in all wars, of the relations of belligerent and neutral. The instinct of the people has seemed to demand a verification of the historian's state ments and a revision of accepted conclusions. This is the first justification for these volumes.

Continental authors have written busily of the periods when the controversy first arose. There is a whole library of books dealing with the Armed Neutralities, and with the fate of neutrality during the French Wars. The writers maintain with great vivacity and dexterity doctrines which the neutrals, abetted by the enemy, banded themselves together to force on England. Ships timber and naval stores, which the enemy was compelled to purchase, one set of neutrals had for sale, and the other set made it their business to carry. By force of the circumstances of war, the interests of these three groups coincided - to save the cargoes from capture; and thus the saying was justified that England had all the world against her.

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