Eliza O. Perkins Burke papers  1846-1867
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Richard Oswald collection contains three memoranda and two letters written by Oswald, as well as a letter written to Oswald by William Pulteney, all spanning 1779-1783.

Volume One contains two memoranda of 1779: the 72-page "General Observations, Relative to the Present State of the War" and its continuation, the 33-page "Supplement to the Papers of August." In the former, Oswald anticipates a prolonged conflict (p. 25: "…if we wish to have a good Peace, we ought to prepare for a long War.") and speculates on the relationship between the Americans and French ("…I am of opinion that we have a much better chance of making France tired of the Contest by taking of America, than of recovering America by dint of our attack upon France." [p. 9]). He also suggests that the British "break the Internal Union amongst these Colonies by Dismembering one part from the other" (p. 27), and recommends that this be accomplished by expeditions into Georgia and South Carolina. In the "Supplement," Oswald doubts the value of "be[ing] so tenacious of every Individual part of these possessions as to suppose that the preservation thereof, in the Interim of this War, may not cost more than it is worth" (p. 2). He also comments further on the French, and emphasizes the necessity of taking possession of Charleston, South Carolina, in order to defeat the Americans (p. 9).

Volume Two of the Richard Oswald collection contains a 1780 letter from William Pulteney announcing the surrender of Charleston, South Carolina, and two letters by Oswald to unspecified recipients. In the earlier of the two letters, dated November 16, 1782, Oswald described the willingness of the Americans to continue fighting ("America would carry on the War with Eng'd for 50 years rather than subscribe to…evidence of their own iniquity…") and treaty negotiations concerning the treatment of Loyalists. In the later letter, dated January 8, 1783, he discussed the conflict over rights to cod fishing in Newfoundland. Also included is a memorandum written by Oswald and dated April 12, 1781, suggesting the formation of a Russo-British alliance in order to attack Mexico and California, and thereby challenge Spain in the New World. The 19-page document, entitled "Plans for Russian Conquest of the North-West Coast--1781," presents the unusual idea as an inexpensive way of "cripling [sic] the power of the Bourbon Family for ever."

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