Horatio Gates: Defender of American Liberties

Horatio Gates: Defender of American Liberties

Horatio Gates: Defender of American Liberties

Horatio Gates: Defender of American Liberties

Excerpt

In my boyhood I was given to understand that General Gates conquered Burgoyne at Saratoga, but that General Schuyler deserved the credit. There was no use denying it. Bloated by this fluke of a victory, Gates meanly conspired with that everloath- some Conway Cabal to oust Washington and snatch the highest post for himself. But the whole thing petered out most wretchedly for every one so malignantly concerned. Poetic justice overtook the arch-schemer at Camden where, defeated by Cornwallis, he left his leaderless army in the lurch and fled the field. There his career ended, as any decent person would have it end.

Most Americans have much the same picture. I myself accepted it as authentic over a period of many years of lecturing upon the Founding Fathers. Gates was a sort of historic nuisance, not so treacherous as Lee or Arnold, but bad enough in his own subtle way. Whenever I mentioned his name, my friends drew their patriotic cloaks about them, Brahminlike, unwilling to be defiled.

And yet, from time to time I kept turning over in memory the Gates Papers that I had seen in The New-York Historical Society when I was in my teens. A story must be there and I promised myself that some day I would tell it. Nobody had ever read those Papers critically in their entirety and with an open mind in the light of other sources great and small in numerous libraries, and out-of-the-way places as well. For ten years past I have been studying this voluminous record and wheresoever it might lead, here and abroad.

Altogether, it has been a rewarding quest. Visits to historic sites and scenes have added not a little interest; friendly, generous aid has enriched the recollection of all the work involved. In the begin-

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