History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 5

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X.
PREPARATIONS FOR THE CAMPAIGN OF 1777. FRANCE, HOL-
LAND, SPAIN, AND ENGLAND.
DECEMBER 1776–MAY 1777.

WHILE Washington was toiling without reward, a rival in Europe aspired to supersede him. The Count de Broglie, disclaiming the ambition of becoming the sovereign of the United States, insinuated his willingness to be for a period of years its William of Orange, provided he could be assured of a large grant of money before embarkation, an ample revenue, the highest military rank, the direction of foreign relations during his command, and a princely annuity for life after his return. The offer was to have been made through Kalb, the former emissary of Choiseul in the British colonies: the acknowledged poverty of the new republic scattered the great man’s short-lived dream; but Kalb, though in his fifty-sixth year, affluent, and happy in his wife and children, remained true to an engagement which, in company with Lafayette, he had taken with Deane to serve as a major-general in the insurgent army. When the American commissioner told Lafayette plainly that the credit of his government was too low to furnish the volunteers a transport, “Then,” said the young man, “I will purchase one myself;” and he bought and freighted the Victory, which was to carry him, the veteran Kalb, and twelve other French officers to America. During the weeks of preparation he made a visit to England. At the age of nineteen it seemed to him pardonable to be presented to the king against whom he was going to fight; but he declined the king’s offer of leave to inspect the British navy yards.

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