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May 13 2019

Letters of Surrender

Gen. Washington to Gen. Cornwallis, October 18, 1781

To avoid unnecessary Discussions and Delays, I shall at Once, in Answer to your Lordship’s Letter of Yesterday, declare the general Basis upon which a Definitive Treaty and Capitulation must take place.

The Garrisons of York and Gloucester, including the Seamen, as you propose, will be received Prisoners of War. The Condition annexed, of sending the British and German Troops to the parts of Europe to which they respectively belong, is inadmissible. Instead of this, they will be marched to such parts of the Country as can most conveniently provide for their Subsistence; and the Benevolent Treatment of Prisoners, which is invariably observed by the Americans, will be extended to them. The same honors will be granted to the Surrendering Army as were granted to the Garrison of Charles town.

The Shipping and Boats in the two Harbours, with all their Guns, Stores, Tackling, Furniture and Apparel, shall be delivered in their present State to an Officer of the Navy, appointed to take possession of them.

The Artillery, Arms, Accoutrements, Military Chest and Public Stores of every Denomination, shall be delivered unimpaired to the Heads of Departments, to which they respectively belong.

The Officers shall be indulged in retaining their Side Arms, and the Officers and Soldiers may preserve their Baggage and Effects, with this Reserve, that Property taken in the Country, will be reclaimed.

With Regard to the Individuals in civil Capacities, whose Interests Your Lordship wishes may be attended to, until they are more particularly described, nothing definitive can be settled.

I have to add, that I expect the Sick and Wounded will be supplied with their own Hospital Stores, and be attended by British Surgeons, particularly charged with the Care of them.

Your Lordship will be pleased to signify your Determination either to accept or reject the Proposals now offered, in the Course of Two Hours from the Delivery of this Letter, that Commissioners may be appointed to digest the Articles of Capitulation, or a Renewal of Hostilities may take place.

Gen. Cornwallis to Gen. Washington, October 18, 1781

I agree to open a treaty of capitulation upon the basis of the garrisons of York and Gloucester, including seamen, being prisoners of war, without annexing the condition of their being sent to Europe; but I expect to receive a compensation in the articles of capitulation for the surrender of Gloucester in its present state of defence.

I shall, in particular, desire, that the Bonetta sloop of war may be left entirely at my disposal, from the hour that the capitulation is signed, to receive an aid-de-camp to carry my dispatches to Sir Henry Clinton. Such soldiers as I may think proper to send as passengers in her, to be manned with fifty men of her own crew, and to be permitted to sail without examination, when my dispatches are ready: engaging, on my part, that the ship shall be brought back and delivered to you, if she escapes the dangers of the sea, that the crew and soldiers shall be accounted for in future exchanges, that she shall carry off no officer without your consent, nor public property of any kind; and I shall likewise desire, that the traders and inhabitants may preserve their property, and that no person may be punished or molested for having joined the British troops.

If you choose to proceed to negociation on these grounds, I shall appoint two field officers of my army to meet two officers from you, at any time and place that you think proper, to digest the articles of capitulation.

It was all very formal and collegiate.

Cornwallis refused to attend the surrender ceremony, citing illness. Instead, Brigadier General Charles O’Hara led the British army onto the field. O’Hara first attempted to surrender to Rochambeau, who shook his head and pointed to Washington. O’Hara then offered his sword to Washington, who also refused and motioned to Benjamin Lincoln. The surrender finally took place when Washington’s second-in-command accepted the sword of Cornwallis’ deputy.

I’ll point out that this is the very same Benjamin Lincoln who surrendered to Cornwallis at Charleston on May 12th 1780, a mere year before. World Turned Upside Down indeed. Dan Morgan and Nathaniel Greene should be better remembered than they are.

Yesterday Neo Liberal Economics, in the form of Robert Samuelson, sued for peace.

Economists often don’t know what they’re talking about
By Robert J. Samuelson, Washington Post
May 12, 2019

As an economic journalist for roughly half a century, I have slowly and somewhat reluctantly come to the conclusion that many economists (and this applies across the political spectrum) often don’t know what they’re talking about — a shortcoming that is sometimes acknowledged and sometimes isn’t.

Before I appear unbearably arrogant, let me state the obvious. Most economists I’ve dealt with over the years are extremely smart and well-informed. They’re a lot smarter than I am. I’ve learned much from them; it has been one of the rewards of the job. Most are also public-spirited and generous with their time. With a few exceptions, they generally elevate the level of public discussion.

Still, the record is what it is, and it’s not pretty. Time after time, economists have failed to foresee major economic trends. In recent years, global interest rates have plunged to historically low levels. (A 10-year Treasury bond fetches 2.5 percent.) Given the importance of interest rates in economic decisions — they affect everything from housing to the stock market — this is a big deal. But most economists did not anticipate the declines and still can’t fully explain them.

Going back a bit further, economists did not predict double-digit inflation (monthly peaks of 12 percent in 1974 and 1975 and 15 percent in 1980). Its emergence frightened and demoralized millions of Americans. Indeed, policies Democratic economists advocated in the 1960s kindled the inflation. Now, ironically, inflation has unexpectedly remained low (generally less than 2 percent annually ), and many economists have been baffled by that, too.

Productivity is another disappointment. As you probably know, productivity is just another term for efficiency. It means doing more with less. Higher productivity is the ultimate engine of higher living standards. It is crucial to economic success.

Over the past five decades, I cannot remember one instance when economists have correctly forecast a major shift in productivity growth, whether up or down. Not in the late 1960s and early 1970s when productivity growth slowed. Nor in the 1990s when productivity accelerated. And not now, when there has been a pronounced slowdown. (From 2010 to 2017, productivity growth has averaged 0.5 percent annually, compared with a post-World War II average of 2 percent.)

The Trump administration’s economists believe they will reverse these trends. Their corporate tax cuts will stimulate investment and productivity gains, the thinking goes. Maybe, but I’m skeptical. My view is that the ignorance gap is huge — that is, the difference between what economists (and by extension the rest of us) know and what we need to know.

Of course, the most conspicuous example of this ignorance gap is the 2008-2009 financial crisis and the Great Recession. “Why did nobody notice it?” Queen Elizabeth famously asked. The answer is actually fairly easy.

Economists and others are conditioned by their own experiences, and a widespread financial panic in a rich society was not among those experiences. It hadn’t happened in their lifetimes and couldn’t happen. We had solved that problem through sensible government regulation and sophisticated financial management.

So it seemed. In reality, the belief that we had outlawed a financial panic rationalized more risk-taking behavior, which ultimately led to a financial panic.

The larger cause of the ignorance gap is the very complexity and obscurity of a $20 trillion economy (the United States) or an $85 trillion economy (the world). To say it is changing in detailed and often-unanticipated ways is simply to affirm that mere mortals, including economists, have never been very good at predicting the future.

What I think can be held against economists — not all, but many — is that they exaggerate what they know and how much they can influence the economy. The aim is usually to gain and retain political relevance and power. But the result is often disappointment, as government performance falls short of promises. A little more humility might be in order.

So there you have it.

Robert J. Samuelson admits he is completely, entirely, and thoroughly wrong and has been for 50 years.

Unfortunately he still is.

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