British Proclamation of Conciliation, 30 Nov 1776

British Proclamation of Conciliation, 30 Nov 1776 - Stories


British Proclamation of Conciliation in New Jersey

  • Brunswick,

In Chapter 7 (Darkest Hour, p.247) of Part III (The Long Retreat, 199) in McCullough's book "1776" he details the Washington's retreat from the British into New Jersey, having failed to defend New York: "With his brother Sir William's campaign succeeding splendidly in New Jersey, and the war rapidly losing support among the people there, Admiral Lord Howe decided to make yet another appeal for conciliation. Signed also by Sir William, the new proclamation was their boldest, most generous gesture thus far, they felt. It was issued in the spirit of their obligation, as commissioned by the King, to serve as peace negotiators as well as military commanders, but also because Lord Howe genuinely believed that a negotiated settlement with the Americans was yet possible and vastly preferable to a long-drawn-out conflict. He had no desire to lose any more British lives or to inflict any more destruction and suffering on the Americans than necessary." (McCullough, 2005, pp. 257-258) "The proclamation, dated November 30, was an immediate success. It offered all who, within sixty days, would come forth and take an oath of allegiance to the King - and pledge their 'peaceable obedience' - a 'free and general pardon,' and that they would: 'reap the benefits of his Majesty's paternal goodness, in the preservation of their property, the restoration of their commerce, and the security of their most valuable rights, under the just and most moderate authority of the crown and Parliament of Britain." (McCullough, 2005, p. 258) "Hundreds, eventually thousands, in New Jersey flocked to the British camps to declare their loyalty. Considering the way the war was going, the size and might of the British army, and the pathetic state of Washington's meager band, it seemed the prudent thing to do. As a farmer near Brunswick named John Bray wrote to a kinsman: 'You can come down and receive protection and return home without molestation on the part of the King's troops and you best know the situation of the provincial army. Do advise Cousin Johnny and Thomas and Cousin Thomas Jones, for if they do stay out to the last, they will undoubtedly fare the worst.'" (McCullough, 2005, p. 258) "Having crossed the Raritan [river] and occupied Brunswick [today, known as New Brunswick, Middlesex County, NJ] on December 1 [1776], [British General] Cornwallis called a halt, as he had been ordered by General Howe. For six days - six merciful days for Washington and his army - the British and Hessians made no move, a decision that puzzled, even infuriated many of the British and local Loyalists who saw no reason to let up on the chase." (McCullough, 2005, pp. 258-259)