Declaration and Protest on Violations of the Principles of the Constitution

Jefferson Concerning the 1st Amendment (Click to enlarge(

Jefferson Concerning the 1st Amendment Wall of Separation (Click to enlarge)

DECLARATION AND PROTEST OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA

This paper was entitled by Jefferson, “The Solemn Declaration and Protest of the Commonwealth of Virginia, on the Principles of the Constitution of the United States of America, and on the violations of them “. Jefferson sent it to Madison in December. 1825, with an explanatory letter (vii, 422. FORD ED., in which he said: “It may intimidate the wavering. It may break the western coalition, by offering the same thing in a different form. It will be viewed with favor in contrast with the Georgia opposition, and fear of strengthening that. It will be an example of a temperate mode of opposition in future and similar cases.”—Editor.

We, the General Assembly of Virginia, on behalf, and in the name of the people thereof, do declare as follows:

The States of North America which confederated to establish their independence of the government of Great Britain, of which Virginia was one, became, on that acquisition free and independent States, and as such, authorized to constitute governments, each for itself, in such form as it thought best.

They entered into a compact (which is called the Constitution of the United States of America), by which they agreed to unite in a single government as to their relations with each other, and with foreign nations, and as to certain other articles particularly specified. They retained at the same time, each to itself, the other rights of independent government, comprehending mainly their domestic interests.

For the administration of their Federal branch, they agreed to appoint, in conjunction, a distinct set of functionaries, legislative, executive and judiciary, in the manner settled in that compact; while to each, severally, and of course remained its original right of appointing, each for itself, a separate set of functionaries, legislative, executive and judiciary, also, for administering the domestic branch of their respective governments.

These two sets of officers, each independent of the other, constitute thus a whole of government, for each State separately; the powers ascribed to the one, as specifically made federal, exercised over the whole, the residuary powers, retained to the other, exercisable exclusively over its particular State, foreign herein, each to the others, as they were before the original compact.

Thomas Jefferson Concerning (Click to enlarge)

Thomas Jefferson Concerning the 1st Amendment and General [Federal] Government (Click to enlarge)

To this construction of government and distribution of its powers, the Commonwealth of Virginia does religiously and affectionately adhere, opposing, with equal fidelity and firmness, the usurpation of either set of functionaries of the rightful powers of the other.

But the Federal branch has assumed in some cases, and claimed in others, a right of enlarging its own powers by constructions, inferences, and indefinite deductions from those directly given, which this Assembly does declare to be usurpations of the powers retained to the independent branches, mere interpolations into the compact, and direct infractions of it.

They claim, for example, and have commenced the exercise of a right to construct roads, open canals, and effect other internal improvements within the territories and jurisdictions exclusively belonging to the several States, which this Assembly does declare has not been given to that branch by the constitutional compact, but remains to each State among its domestic and unalienated powers, exercisable within itself and by its domestic authorities alone.

This Assembly does further disavow and declare to be most false and unfounded, the doctrine that the compact, in authorizing its Federal branch to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States, has given them thereby a power to do whatever they may think, or pretend, would promote the general welfare, which construction would make that, of itself, a complete government, without limitation of powers; but that the plain sense and obvious meaning were, that they might levy the taxes necessary to provide for the general welfare, by the various acts of power therein specified and delegated to them, and by no others.

Nor is it admitted, as has been said, that the people of these States, by not investing their Federal branch with all the means of bettering their condition, have denied to themselves any which may effect that purpose; since, in the distribution of these means they have given to that branch those which belong to its department, and to the States have reserved separately the residue which belong to them separately. And thus by the organization of the two branches taken together, have completely secured the first object of human association, the full improvement of their condition, and reserved to themselves all the faculties of multiplying their own blessings.

Whilst the General Assembly thus declares the rights retained by the States, rights which they have never yielded, and which this State will never voluntarily yield, they do not mean to raise the banner of dissatisfaction, or of separation from their sister States, co-parties with themselves to this compact. They know and value too highly the blessings of their Union as to foreign nations and questions arising among themselves, to consider every infraction as to be met by actual resistance. They respect too affectionately the opinions of those possessing the same rights under the same instrument, to make every difference of construction a ground of immediate rupture. They would, indeed, consider such a rupture as among the greatest calamities which could befall them; but not the greatest. There is yet one greater, submission to a government of unlimited powers. It is only when the hope of avoiding this shall have become absolutely desperate, that further forbearance could not be indulged. Should a majority of the co-parties, therefore, contrary to the expectation and hope of this Assembly, prefer, at this time, acquiescence in these assumptions of power by the Federal member of the government, we will be patient and suffer much, under the confidence that time, ere it be too late, will prove to them also the bitter consequences in which that usurpation will involve us all. In the meanwhile, we will breast with them, rather than separate from them, every misfortune, save that only of living under a government of unlimited powers. We owe every other sacrifice to ourselves, to our federal brethren, and to the world at large, to pursue with temper and with perseverance the great experiment which shall prove that man is capable of living in society, governing itself by laws self-imposed, and securing to its members the enjoyment of life, liberty, property, and peace; and further to show, that even when the government of its choice shall manifest a tendency to degeneracy, we are not at once to despair but that the will and the watchfulness of its sounder parts will reform its aberrations, recall it to original and legitimate principles, and restrain it within the rightful limits of self-government. And these are the objects of this Declaration and Protest.

Supposing, then, that it might be for the good of the whole, as some of its co-States seem to think, that the power of making roads and canals should be added to those directly given to the Federal branch, as more likely to be systematically and beneficially directed, than by the independent action of the several States, this Commonwealth, from respect to these opinions, and a desire of conciliation with its co-States, will consent, in concurrence with them, to make this addition, provided it be done regularly by an amendment of the compact, in the way established by that instrument, and provided also, it be sufficiently guarded against abuses, compromises, and corrupt practices, not only of possible, but of probable occurrence.

And as a further pledge of the sincere and cordial attachment of this Commonwealth to the Union of the whole, so far as has been consented to by the compact called “The Constitution of the United States of America” (constructed according to the plain and ordinary meaning of its language, to the common intendment of the time, and of those who framed it); to give also to all parties and authorities, time for reflection and consideration, whether, under a temperate view of the possible consequences, and especially of the constant obstructions which an equivocal majority must ever expect to meet, they will still prefer the assumption of this power rather than its acceptance from the free will of their constituents; and to preserve peace in the meanwhile, we proceed to make it the duty of our citizens, until the Legislature shall otherwise and ultimately decide, to acquiesce under those acts of the Federal branch of our government which we have declared to be usurpations, and against which, in point of right, we do protest as null and void, and never to be quoted as precedents of right.

Thomas Jefferson on Foreseeing Abuses by Government (Click to enlarge)

Thomas Jefferson on Foreseeing Abuses by Government (Click to enlarge)

We, therefore, do enact, and Be It Enacted by the General Assembly of Virginia, That all citizens of this Commonwealth, and persons and authorities within the same, shall pay full obedience at all times to the acts which may be passed by the Congress of the United States, the object of which shall be the construction of post roads, making canals of navigation, and maintaining the same in any part of the United States, in like manner as if said acts were totidem verbis, passed by the Legislature of this Commonwealth.—ix, 496. Ford ed., X, 349. (Dec. 34, 1825)

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Virginia Protest Prepared by Jefferson for the Legislature of Virginia

ThomasJeffersonQuoteFederalGovtAdministration

Jefferson Tells How the Federal Government should be Administered

Protest Prepared by Thomas Jefferson for the Legislature of Virginia; December, 1825

The solemn Declaration and Protest of the Commonwealth of Virginia, on the principles of the Constitution of the United Stales of America, and on the violations of them. We, the General Assembly of Virginia, on behalf, and in the name of the people thereof, do declare as follows:

The States in North America which confederated to establish their independence on the Government of Great Britain, of which Virginia was one, became, on that acquisition, free and independent States, and, as such, authorized to constitute Governments, each for itself, in such forms as it thought best.

They entered into a compact, (which is called the Constitution of the United States of America,) by which they agreed to unite in a single Government, as to their relations with each other, and with foreign nations, and as to certain other articles particularly specified. They retained at the same time, each to itself, the other rights of independent government, comprehending, mainly, their domestic interests.

For the administration of their Federal branch, they agreed to appoint, in conjunction, a distinct set of functionaries. Legislative, Executive, and Judiciary, in the manner settled in that compact: while to each, severally and of course, remained its original right of appointing, each for itself, a separate set of functionaries, Legislative, Executive, aud Judiciary, also, for administering the domestic branch of their respective Governments.

These two sets of officers, each independent of the other, constitute thus a whole of government, for each State separately; the powers ascribed to the one, as specifically made Federal, exercised over the whole; the residuary powers, retained to the other, exercisable exclusively over its particular States, foreign herein, each to the other, as they were before the original compact.

To this construction of government and distribution of its power, the Commonwealth of Virginia does religiously and affectionately adhere, opposing with equal fidelity and firmness, the usurpation of either set of functionaries on the rightful powers of the other.

But the Federal branch has assumed, in some cases, and claimed in others, a right of enlarging its own powers by constructions, inferences, and indefinite -deductions from those directly given, which this Assembly does declare to be usurpations of the powers retained to the independent branches; mere interpolations into the compact, and direct infractions of it.

They claim, for example, and have commenced the exercise of, a right to construct roads, open canals, and effect other internal improvements within the territories and jurisdictions exclusively belonging to the several States, which this Assembly does declare has not been given to that branch by the constitutional compact, but remains to each State, among its domestic and unalienated powers, exercisable within itself, and by its domestic authorities alone.

This Assembly does further disavow and declare to be most false and unfounded, the doctrine that the compact, in authorizing its Federal branch to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises; to pay all debts and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States, has given them thereby a power to do whatever they may think, or pretend, would promote the general welfare; which construction would make that, of itself, a complete government, without limitation of powers; but that the plain sense and obvious meaning was, that they might levy the taxes necessary to provide for the general welfare, by the various acts of power therein specified and delegated to them, and by no others.

Nor is it admitted, as has been said, that the people of these States, by not investing their Federal branch with all the means of bettering their condition, have denied to themselves any which may effect that purpose, since, in the distribution of these means, they have given to that branch those which belong to its departments, and to the States have reserved, separately, the residue which belong to them separately. And thus, by the organization of the two branches taken together, have completely secured the first object of human association, the full improvement of their condition, and reserved to themselves all the faculties of multiplying their own blessings.

Whilst the General Assembly thus declares the rights retained by the State, rights which they never have yielded, and which tho Stale never will voluntarily yield, they do not mean to raise the banner of disaffection, or of separation from their sister States, co-parties with themselves to this compact. They know and value too highly the blessings of their Union, as to foreign nations and questions arising among themselves, to consider every infraction to be met by actual resistance. They respect too affectionately the opinions of those possessing the same rights, under the same instrument, to make every difference of construction a ground of immediate rupture. They would, indeed,consider such a rupture as among the greatest calamities which could befall them; but not the greatest. There is yet One Greater—submission to a Government of Unlimited Powers.

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KENTUCKY RESOLUTIONS by Thomas Jefferson 1798

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Resolutions of Kentucky, written by Thomas Jefferson 1798

1. Resolved, That the several States composing the United States of America, are not united on the principle of unlimited submission to their General [Federal] Government; but that, by a compact under the style and title of a Constitution for the United States, and of Amendments thereto, they constituted a General Government for special purposes,—delegated to that government certain definite powers, reserving, each State to itself, the residuary mass of right to their own self-government; and that whensoever the General Government assumes undelegated powers, its acts are unauthoritative, void, and of no force: that to this compact each State acceded as a State, and is an integral party, its co-States forming, as to itself, the other party: that the Government created by this compact was not made the exclusive or final judge of the extent of the powers delegated to itself; since that would have made its discretion, and not the Constitution, the measure of its powers: but that, as in all other cases of compact among powers having no common judge, each party has an equal right to judge for itself, as well of infractions as of the mode and measure of redress.

2. Resolved, That the Constitution of the United States, having delegated to Congress a power to punish treason, counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States, piracies, and felonies committed on the high seas, and offences against the law of nations, and no other crimes whatsoever: and it being true as a general principle, and one of the amendments to the Constitution having also declared, that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people”, therefore the act of Congress, passed on the 14th day of July, 1798, and intituled “An Act in addition to the act intituled ‘An Act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States ‘ “, as also the act passed by them on the day of June, 1789, intituled ” An Act to punish frauds committed on the Bank of the United States” (and all their other acts which assume to create, define, or punish crimes, other than those so enumerated in the Constitution), are altogether void, and of no force: and that the power to create, define, and punish such other crimes is reserved, and, of right, appertains solely and exclusively to the respective States, each within its own territory.

3. Resolved, That it is true as a general principle, and is also expressly declared by one of the amendments to the Constitution, that ” the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people “; and that no power over the freedom of religion, freedom of speech, or freedom of the press being delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, all lawful powers respecting the same did of right remain, and were reserved to the States or the people; that thus was manifested their determination to retain to themselves the right of judging how far the licentiousness of speech and of the press may be abridged without lessening their useful freedom, and how far those abuses which cannot be separated from their use should be tolerated, rather than the use be destroyed. And thus also they guarded against all abridgment by the United States of the freedom of religious opinions and exercises, and retained to themselves the right of protecting the same, as this State, by a law passed on the general demand of its citizens, had already protected them from all human restraint or interference. And that in addition to this general principle and express declaration, another and more special provision has been made by one of the amendments to the Constitution, which expressly declares, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press “; thereby guarding in the same sentence, and under the same words, the freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press: insomuch, that whatever violated either, throws down the sanctuary which covers the others, and that libels, falsehoods, and defamation, equally with heresy and false religion, are withheld from the cognizance of Federal tribunals. That, therefore, the act of Congress of the United States, passed on the 14th day of July, 1798, intituled “An Act in addition to the act intituled ‘ An Act for the punishment of certain crimes against the United States'” which does abridge the freedom of the press, is not law, but is altogether void, and of no force.

ThomasJeffersonQuoteRightsEncroachment

4. Resolved, That alien friends are under the jurisdiction and protection of the laws of the State wherein they are; that no power over them has been delegated to the United States, nor prohibited to the individual States, distinct from their power over citizens. And it being true as a general principle, and one of the amendments to the Constitution having also declared, that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people “, the act of the Congress of the

United States, passed on the day of July, 1798, intituled “An Act concerning aliens”, which assumes powers over alien friends, not delegated by the Constitution, is not law, but is altogether void, and of no force.

5. Resolved, That in addition to the general principle, as well as the express declaration, that powers not delegated are reserved, another and more special provision, inserted in the Constitution from abundant caution, has declared that “the migration or importation of such persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the year 1808″: that this Commonwealth does admit the migration of alien friends, described as the subject of the said act concerning aliens: that a provision against prohibiting their migration, is a provision against all acts equivalent thereto, or it would be nugatory: that to remove them when migrated, is equivalent to a prohibition of their migration, and is, therefore, contrary to the said provision of the Constitution, and void.

6. Resolved, That the imprisonment of a person under the laws of this Commonwealth, on his failure to obey the simple order of the President to depart out of the United States, as is undertaken by said act intituled “An Act concerning aliens” is contrary to the Constitution, one amendment to which has provided that “no person shall be deprived of liberty without due process of law “: and that another having provided that “in all criminal prosecutions the accused shall enjoy the right to public trial by an impartial jury, to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation, to be confronted with the witnesses against him, to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defence “, the same act, undertaking to authorize the President to remove a person out of the United States, who is under the protection of the law, on his own suspicion, without accusation without jury, without public trial, without confrontation of the witnesses against him, without hearing witnesses in his favor, without defence, without counsel, is contrary to the provision also of the Constitution, is therefore not law, but utterly void, and of no force: that transferring the power of judging any person, who is under the protection of the laws, from the courts to tie ‘resident of the United States, as is undertaken by the same act concerning aliens, is against the article of the Constitution which provides that ” the judicial power of the United States shall be vested in courts, the judges of which shall hold their offices during good behavior “; and that the said act is void for that reason also. And it is further to be noted, that this transfer of judiciary power is to that magistrate of the General Government who already possesses all the Executive and a negative on all Legislative powers.

7. Resolved, That the construction applied by the General Government (as is evidenced by sundry of their proceedings) to those parts of the Constitution of the United States which delegate to Congress a power “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States”, and “to make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the powers vested by the Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof”, goes to the destruction of all limits prescribed to their power by the Constitution: that words meant by the instrument to be subsidiary only to the execution of limited powers, ought not to be so construed as themselves to give unlimited powers, nor a part to be so taken as to destroy the whole residue of that instrument: that the proceedings of the General Government under color of these articles, will be a fit and necessary subject of revisal and correction, at a time of greater tranquillity, while those specified in the preceding resolution call for immediate redress.

8. Resolved, That a committee of conference and correspondence be appointed, who shall have in charge to communicate the preceding resolutions to the Legislatures of the several States: to assure them that this Commonwealth continues in the same esteem of their friendship and union which it has manifested from that moment at which a common danger first suggested a common union: that it considers union, for specified national purposes, and particularly to those specified in their late Federal compact, to be friendly to the peace, happiness and prosperity of all the States: that faithful to that compact, according to the plain intent and meaning in which it was understood and acceded to by the several parties, it is sincerely anxious for its preservation: that it does also believe, that to take from the States all the powers of self-government and transfer them to a general and consolidated government, without regard to the special delegations and reservations solemnly agreed to in that compact, is not for the peace, happiness or prosperity of these States; and that, therefore, this Commonwealth is determined, as it doubts not its co-States are, to submit to undelegated, and consequently unlimited powers in no man, or body of men on earth: that in cases of an abuse of the delegated powers, the members of the General Government, being chosen by the people, a change by the people would be the constitutional remedy; but, where powers are assumed which have not been delegated, a nullification of the act is the rightful remedy; that every State has a natural right in cases not within the compact (casus non foederis), to nullify of their own authority all assumptions of power by others within their limits: that without this right, they would be under the dominion, absolute and unlimited, of whosoever might exercise this right of judgment for them: that nevertheless, this Commonwealth, from motives of regard and respect for its co-States, has wished to communicate with them on the subject: that with them alone it is proper to communicate, they alone being parties to the compact, and solely authorized to judge in the last resort of the powers exercised under it, Congress being not a party, but merely the creature of the compact, and subject as to its assumptions of power to the final judgment of those by whom, and for whose use itself and its powers were all created and modified: that if the acts before specified should stand, these conclusions would flow from them; that the General Government may place any act they think proper on the list of crimes, and punish it themselves whether enumerated or not enumerated by the Constitution as cognizable by them; that they may transfer its cognizance to the President, or any other person, who may himself be the accuser, counsel, judge, and jury, whose suspicions may be the evidence, his order the sentence, his officer the executioner, and his breast the sole record of the transaction: that a very numerous and valuable description of the inhabitants of these States being, by this precedent, reduced, as outlaws, to the absolute dominion of one man. and the barrier of the Constitution thus swept away from us all, no rampart now remains against the passions and the powers of a majority in Congress to protect from a like exportation, or other more grievous punishment, the minority of the same body, the legislatures, judges, governors, and councillors of the States, nor their other peaceable inhabitants, who may venture to reclaim the constitutional rights and liberties of the States and people, or who for other causes, good or bad. may be obnoxious to the views, or marked by the suspicions of the President, or be thought dangerous to his or their election, or other interests, public or personal: that the friendless alien has indeed been selected as the safest subject of a first experiment; but the citizen will soon follow, or rather, has already followed, for already has a Sedition Act marked him as its prey;that these and successive acts of the same character, unless arrested at the threshold, necessarily drive these States into revolution and blood, and will furnish new calumnies against republican government, and new pretexts for those who wish it to be believed that man cannot be governed but by a rod of iron; that it would be a dangerous delusion were a confidence in the men of our choice to silence our fears for the safety of our rights: that confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism—free government is founded in jealousy, and not in confidence: it is jealousy and not confidence which prescribes limited constitutions, to bind down those whom we are obliged to trust with power: that our Constitution has accordingly fixed the limits to which, and no further, our confidence may go; and let the honest advocate of confidence read the Alien and Sedition Acts, and say if the Constitution has not been wise in fixing limits to the government it created, and whether we should be wise in destroying those limits. Let him say what the government is, if it be not a tyranny, which the men of our choice have conferred on our President and President of our choice has assented to, and accepted over the friendly strangers to whom the mild spirit of our country and its laws have pledged hospitality and protection: that the men of our choice have more respected the bare suspicions of the President, than the solid right of innocence, the claims of justification, the sacred force of truth, and the forms and substance of law and justice. In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution. That this Commonwealth does, therefore, call on its co-States for an expression of their sentiments on the acts concerning aliens, and for the punishment of certain crimes herein before specified, plainly declaring whether these acts are or are not authorized by the Federal compact. And it doubts not that their sense will be so announced as to prove their attachment unaltered to limited government, whether general or particular. And that the rights and liberties of their co-States will be exposed to no dangers by remaining embarked in a common bottom with their own. That they will concur with this Commonwealth in considering the said acts as so palpably against the Constitution as to amount to an undisguised declaration that that compact is not meant to be the measure of the powers of the General Government, but that it will proceed in the exercise over these States, of all powers whatsoever: that they will view this as seizing the rights of the States, and consolidating them in the hands of the General Government, with a power assumed to bind the States (not merely in the cases made Federal (casus faderis) but) in all cases whatsoever, by laws made, not with their consent, but by others against their consent; that this would be to surrender the form of government we have chosen, and live under one deriving its powers from its own will, and not from our authority; and that the co-States, recurring to their natural right in cases not made Federal, will concur in declaring these acts void, and of no force, and will each take measures of its own for providing that neither these acts, nor any others of the General Government not plainly and intentionally authorized by the Constitution, shall be exercised within their respective territories.

9. Resolved, That the said committee be authorized to communicate by writing or personal conferences, at any times or places whatever, with any person or persons who may be appointed by any one or more co-States to correspond or confer with them; and that they lay their proceeding before the next session of Assembly.—Writings of Jefferson; Paul Ford Ed., vii, 289. (1798.)

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Thomas Jefferson Defines What a True Republic Is

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We shall now be so strong that we shall certainly split again; for freemen thinking differently and speaking and acting as they think, will form into classes of sentiment, but it must be under another name; that of Federalism is to become so scanted that no party can rise under it.

As the division between 1. Tory [Democrats & GOP] is founded in the nature of men, the weakly [cowardly] and nerveless, the rich and the corrupt, seeing more safety and accessibility in a strong executive;

and 2. Whig [Tea Party Republicans] the healthy, firm and virtuous feeling confidence in their physical and moral resources, and willing to part with only so much power as is necessary for their good government, and therefore to retain the rest in the hands of the many, the division will substantially be into Whig and Tory, as in England, formerly. ~ Thomas Jefferson to Joel Barlow, 1802

It was to escape the oppression resulting from governments controlled by the select few, so often ruling under the assumption that “might makes right,” that gave birth to republics. Monarchial rulers refuse to recognize their accountability to the people governed by them. In a republic the converse is the rule. The tenure of office may be for a short or a long period, or even for life, yet those in office are at all times answerable, either directly or indirectly, to the people, and in proportion to their responsibility to those for whom they may be the public agents, and the nearer the power to enact laws and control public servants lies with the great body of the people [This is referring to the House of Representatives, they are the closest to the American people because they are up for re-election every 2 years, instead of 6 like the Senate and 4 like the President. This  is also the reason the House of Representatives have the  Power of the Purse, because they are more accountable to the people and it is through the House of Reps that the people are supposed to be able to weld that power by defunding something the President is doing that the people disagree with], the more nearly does a government take unto itself the form of a republic—not in name alone, but in fact. From this it follows that each republic may differ in its political system or in the political machinery by which it moves, but, so long as the ultimate control of its officials and affairs of state remain in its citizens, , it will in the eye of all republics be recognized as a government of that class. Of this we have many examples in Central and South America. It becomes then a matter of degree, and the fear manifested by the briefs filed in this case would seem to indicate, not that we are drifting from the secure moorings of a republic, but that our State, by the direct system of legislation complained of, is becoming too democratic—advancing too rapidly towards a republic pure in form. This, it is true, counsel for petitioner does not concede, but under any interpretation of which the term is capable, or from any view thus far found expressed in the writings of the prominent statesmen who were members of the Constitutional Convention, or who figured in the early upbuilding of the nation, it follows that the system here assailed brings us nearer to a State republican in form than before its adoption. Mr. Thomas Jefferson, in 1816, when discussing the term republic, defined and illustrated his view thereof as follows:

Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, May 28, 1816

”Indeed, it must be acknowledged that the term ‘republic’ is of very vague application in every language. Witness the self-styled republics of Holland, Switzerland, Genoa, Venice, Poland. Were I to assign to this term a precise and definite idea, I would say, merely and simply, it means a government by its citizens in mass, acting directly and personally, according to rules established by the majority; and that every other government is more or less Republican, in proportion as it has in its composition more or less of this ingredient of the direct action of the citizens. Such a government is evidently restrained to very narrow limits of space and population. I doubt if it would be practicable beyond the extent of a New England township. The first shade from the pure which, like that of pure vital air, cannot sustain life itself, would be where the powers of the government, being divided, should be exercised each by representatives chosen either, pro hoc vice, or for such short terms as should render secure the duty of expressing the will of their constituents. This I should consider as the nearest approach to a pure Republic, which is practicable on a large scale of country or population. * * * In the general government, the House of Representatives is mainly Republican; the Senate scarcely so at all, as not elected by the people directly, and so long secured even against those who do elect them; the Executive more Republican than the Senate, from its shorter term, its election by the people, in practice (for they vote for A only on an assurance that he will vote for B) and because, in practice also, a principle of rotation seems to be in a course of establishment; the judiciary independent of the nation, their coercion by impeachment being found nugatory (nugatory = worthless or unimportant). [Coercion of the judiciary by impeachment, this means if judges are doing anything the people find unacceptable they can be impeached. As I pointed out earlier the House of Representatives better represent the will of the people because they are closest to the peoples will, since they are subject to re-election every two years. The Founders in their wisdom also gave the House of Representatives the  power of impeachment. As we have seen the House of Representatives have been bullied by the media and the democrat party to all but surrender the power of impeachment, i.e. they never use it out of fear of what the media is going to tar them with. However the House can not only impeach the president, they can also impeach anyone in government, including judges, which in my estimation should happen quite often where government employees are concerned. Do not forget, everyone in government in the U.S.A. is supposed to be servants of the people. Far too often the people in government act as if, it is the people who are supposed serve government, or those in government. After the House was given the power of impeachment, the Senate was given the sole responsibility of trying those who are impeached. The Founding Fathers did this because the Senate is supposed to be more methodical and deliberative than either the President or House of Reps. Originally the Senate was made up of two State Senators from each respective state. The senators could be recalled at any time by each states senate, which also made them closer to the will of the people than they are now, because the state senates are closer to the people than the Senate in Washington D.C. We now see the radical leftwing media and the democrat party trying to shame, bully and coerce the House of Representatives into giving up the Power of the Purse. As with the DHS funding where the House of Representatives are trying to take away or eliminate funding from the Presidents unconstitutional immigration actions, where he is trying to give 5,000,000+ illegal aliens amnesty. The people (through their lack of knowledge of the Constitution and the Founding Principles of this Nation) are letting the media and those in government take away their power by the House of Represetatives giving up their power, again it is the House of Representatives that are closest to the will of the American people. The American people should really wake up to this fact before they let those in media and politics eliminate all the peoples power through the elimination of the House’s power.]

If, then, the control of the people over the organs of their government be the measure of its Republicanism, and I confess I know no other measure, it must be agreed that our governments have much less of Republicanism than ought to have been expected; in other words, that the people have less regular control over their agents, than their rights and their interests require. And this I ascribe, not to any want of Republican dispositions in those who formed these constitutions, but to a submission of true principle to European authorities, to speculators on government, whose fears of the people have been inspired by the populace of their own great cities, and were unjustly entertained against the independent, the happy, and therefore orderly citizens of the United States. Much I apprehend that the golden moment is past for reforming these heresies. The functionaries of public power rarely strengthen in their disposition to abridge it, and an organized call for timely amendment is not likely to prevail against an organized opposition to it. We are always told that things are going on well; why change them? “Chi sta bene, non si muore,” said the Italian, “let him who stands well, stand still.” This is true; and I verily believe they would go on well with us under an absolute monarch, while our present character remains, of order, industry and love of peace and restrained, as he would be, by the proper spirit of the people. But it is while it remains such, we should provide against the consequences of its deterioration. And let us rest in hope that it will yet be done, and spare ourselves the pain of evils which may never happen.

On this view of the import of the term Republic, instead of saying, as has been said, “that it may mean anything or nothing,” we may say with truth and meaning, that governments are more or less Republican, as they have more or less of the element of popular election and control in their composition; and believing, as I do, that the mass of the citizens is the safest depository of their own rights, and especially, that the evils flowing from the duperies of the people, are less injurious than those from the egoism of their agents, I am a friend to that composition of government which has in it the most of this ingredient. And I sincerely believe, with you, that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies; and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.”

Copyright © 2014 © 2015 TeaPartyEdu http://teapartyedu.net Foundation Truths http://captainjamesdavis.net The Patriot Brotherhood @CaptainJDavis ™

THE SPIRIT OF DESPOTISM vs THE RIGHTS OF MAN

TheEducatorAnarchy

NOTE: Not Sure Which Was the True Author, it was published as The Spirit of Despotism by Knox and The Rights of Man by Branagan, in reading them both I would determine Knox to be the author since Branagan starts every paragraph with a quotation mark as seen in this piece.

THE SPIRIT OF DESPOTISM & THE RIGHTS OF MAN by Vicesimus Knox, Thomas Branagan

“Man in a state of simplicity, uncorrupted by the influence of bad education, bad examples, and bad government, possesses capacity for all that is good and beautiful. He is capable of a degree of moral and intellectual improvement, which advances his nature to a participation with the divine. The world in all its magnificence, appears to him one vast theatre, richly adorned and illuminated, into which he is freely admitted to enjoy the glorious spectacle. Acknowledging no natural superior, but the great architect of the whole fabric, he partakes the delight with conscious dignity, and glows with gratitude. Pleased with himself and all around him, his heart dilates with benevolence, as well as piety; and he finds his joys augmented by communication. His countenance cheerful, his mien erect, he rejoices in existence. Life is a continual feast to him, highly seasoned by virtue, by liberty and mutual affection. God formed him to be happy and he becomes so, thus fortunately unmolested by false policy and oppression. Religion, reason, nature, are his guides through the whole of his existence, and the whole is happy. Virtuous Independence, the sun, which irradiates the morning of his day, warms its noon, tinges the serene evening with every beautiful variety of color, and on the pillow of religious hope, he sinks to repose in the bosom of Providence.

But where is man to be found, thus noble, thus innocent, thus happy? Wherever the rights of nature, and the virtues of simplicity are not violated or banished by the false refinements, the base artifices of corrupted government.

Unhappily for man, society has been almost universally corrupted, even by the arts intended for its improvement; and human nature is gradually depraved in its very progress to civilization. Metamorphosed by the tampering of unskillful or dishonest politicians, and the craft of interested priests, co-operating with politicians, Man at present appears, in many countries, a diminutive and distorted animal, compared with what he was in his primeval state. He has become the dwarf and the cripple of courts and cities, instead of the well-formed, beautiful creature, who once bounded in the glory of health and strength, over the forest and the mountain, glowing with the warmth of virtue, and breathing the spirit of independence.

“Various are the causes which contribute to the factitious depravity of man. Defective and erroneous education corrupts him; the prevalent examples of a degenerate community corrupt him; but bad government corrupts him more than all other causes combined. The grand adversary of human virtue and happiness is Despotism. Look over the surface of the whole earth, and behold man, the glory and deputed lord of the creation, withering under the influence of despotism, like the plant of temperate climes scorched by the sun of a torrid zone. The leaf is sickly, the blossom dares not expand its beauty, and no fruit arrives at its just size and maturity.

“Turkey, Italy, Egypt! how changed from what ye were when inhabited by ancient Greeks, Romans, Egyptians! Nature, indeed, still smiles upon them with unaltered favor. The blue mantle of the skies is still spread over them in all its luminous magnificence. There is no reason to suppose the earth less fertile. The corn laughs in the valleys. The tree aspires to Heaven with all its original verdure and majesty. But Man decays; withered, shrunk, enervated; a form without spirit, an animal less happy than the beasts of the field, and more ignoble, inasmuch as degeneracy is baser than native, original, created inferiority. Fallen with the columnar ruins of better times, over which, in these countries, he often tramples, Man himself appears little better than a ruin, displaying all the deformity of the mouldering pile, with scarcely any vestige of its former magnificence.

“Government (so called) has counteracted the beneficence of nature. The Men are fallen; while the human figures, with their internal and external organization, continue yet, in a great measure, the same. They are inactive and pusillanimous. They aspire at no extraordinary excellence or achievements, but crouch beneath their despot, glad of the poor privilege allowed them by a fellow-creature, as weak and more wicked than themselves, to eat, drink, sleep, and die. Any pre-eminent degree of merit among them would render the distinguished possessor of it fatally illustrious, the certain object of a tyrant’s vengeance; and they find their best security in their want of virtue. By a voluntary submission to contempt, they retain and transmit the privilege of breathing, and build the bulwark of their safety on their personal insignificance.

“Fear must, of necessity, become the predominant passion in all countries subject to the uncontrolled dominion of an individual and his ministers: but fear chills the blood and freezes the faculties. Under its icy influence there can arise no generous emulation, no daring spirit of adventure. Enterprise is considered as dangerous, not merely from the general casualty of all human affairs, but because it excites notice, and alarms the jealousy of selfish power. Under a despotic government, to steal through life unobserved, to creep, with timid caution, through the vale of obscurity, is the first wisdom; and to be suffered to die in old age, without the prison, the chain, the dagger, or the poisoned bowl, is the highest pitch of human felicity.

“Ignorance of the grossest kind, ignorance of man’s nature and rights, ignorance of all that tends to make and keep us happy, disgraces and renders wretched more than half the earth, at this moment, in consequence of its subjugation to despotic power. Ignorance, robed in imperial purple, with Pride and Cruelty by her side, sways an iron sceptre over nearly both hemispheres. In the finest and largest regions of this planet which we inhabit, are no liberal pursuits and professions, no contemplative delights, nothing of that pure, intellectual employment which raises man from the mire of sensuality and sordid care, to a degree of excellence and dignity which we conceive to be angelic and celestial. Without knowledge, or the means of obtaining it; without exercise or excitements, the mind falls into a state of infantine imbecility and dotage, or acquires a low cunning, intent only on selfish and mean pursuits, such as is visible in the more ignoble of the irrational creatures—in foxes, apes, and monkeys. Among nations so corrupted, the utmost effort of genius is a court intrigue or a ministerial cabal.

“A degradation of the understanding, like this, is usually accompanied with depravity of heart. From an inability to find pleasure and honorable employment in the energies of thought, in noble and virtuous actions, in refined conversation, in arts, in commerce, in learning, arises a mischievous activity in trifles, a perversion of nature, a wantonness of wickedness, productive of flagitious habits, which renders the partaker of reason the most despicable and detestable animal in the whole circle of existence. Thus sunk under the pressure of despotism, who can recognize, notwithstanding the human shape they bear, the lineal descendants of Egyptian, Grecian, Roman worthies, the glory of their times, the luminaries of their own country and the world, the instructors and benefactors of human nature? Thus the image of the Deity, stamped on man at his creation, is defiled or utterly effaced by government, instituted and exercised by man over his fellow-man; and his kindred to Heaven is known no more by the divine resemblance. A bad government is therefore the curse of the earth, the scourge of man, the grand obstacle to the divine will, the most copious source of all moral evil, and for that reason, of all misery; but of bad governments, none are comparable, in their mischievous effects, to the despotic.

“But if despotism in its extreme produces consequences thus malignant, reason will infer, and experience will justify the inference, that all the subordinate degrees of despotism are proportionally destructive. However it may be disguised by forms, it is ever seeking its own increase and aggrandizement, by openly crushing or secretly undermining the fabric of liberty: it is ever encroaching on the privileges and enjoyments of those who are subjected to it; greedily, though foolishly, wishing to engross every good of every kind in this sublunary state, except the good of virtue.

“Power, though limited by written laws, in the hands of mortal men, poorly educated, and surrounded by sycophants and flatterers, who wish, by partaking the power, to partake also of its profits and distinctions, and thus gratify at once their pride and avarice, is always endeavouring to extend itself beyond the limitations; and requires to be watched with the most jealous eye, by all who are subject to it, and to be restrained within its bounds by the manifest efforts, and the most determined resolution of virtue. Every engine of artifice and terror will be used to repress such virtue: but the friend of man and of his country will defy persecution, fines, imprisonment, and death, in attempting, by every lawful and rational means, to push back the gigantic strides of encroaching despotism, more destructive of happiness than an earthquake or a pestilence. A country deserves no love, when it ceases to be a country of liberty. Human beings constitute a country, and not a soil in a certain latitude; and an attachment to liberty is the truest patriotism.

“It is therefore highly expedient, whenever a people, free by law and constitution, appear in the smallest degree to remit their attention to the preservation of freedom, to urge them, by the most serious admonition, to an immediate resumption of their vigilance. While they slumber and sleep, lulled by the Circean cup of corruption, the enemy is awake, and busily making his insidious approaches to the citadel. Every inch of ground, they carelessly relinquish, is eagerly seized by the covetous possessor of dominion; the love of which, like the love of money, increases by accession. Nor are there ever wanting numbers of artful men, who stimulate a weak or a wicked ruler in his encroachments; sensible as they are, that their own power and privileges will be augmented with those of said ruler, whose exclusive favour they have gained by sycophantic arts, and by co-operations in the fallacious service of enlarging his power. The more the power of the ruler is augmented, the greater will be the emoluments of office. In the view of American, as well as European tories, a star shines with higher lustre, a riband displays a brighter hue, a title soothes the ear with sweeter music, when conferred by a mighty potentate far exalted above vulgar control, and who holds his power in contempt of the people. If kings can be once elevated to the rank of Heaven’s vicegerents, how must admiring plebians idolize their choice favours and their prime favourites? There is always, therefore, a set of men (to whom pomp and vanity are the chief good) who are continually endeavouring to add glory and greatness to the orb from which they derive their own lustre. Moons and satellites would shine faintly indeed, unless the sun of the system glittered with intolerable effulgence. If the sun were shorn of its beams, their native opaqueness would pass without notice.

“Natural rights are those which appertain to man, in right of his existence. Of this kind are all the intellectual rights, or rights of acting as an individual for his own comfort and happiness, which are not injurious to the natural rights of others.—Civil rights are those which appertain to man in right of his being a member of society. Every civil right has for foundation, some natural right pre-existing in the individual, but to the enjoyment of which his individual power is not, in all cases, sufficiently competent. Of this kind are all those which relate to security and protection.

“From this short review, it will be easy to distinguish between that class of natural rights which man retains after entering into society, and those which he throws into the common stock as a member of society.

“The natural rights which he retains, are all those in which the power to execute is as perfect in the individual as the right itself. Among this class, as is before-mentioned, are all the intellectual rights, or rights of the mind: consequently, religion is one of those rights. The natural rights which are not retained, are all those in which, though the right is perfect in the individual, the power to execute them is defective. They answer not this purpose. A man, by natural right, has a right to judge in his own cause; and so far as the right of the mind is concerned, he never surrenders it: but what availeth it him to judge, if he has not the power to redress? He therefore deposits this right in the common stock of society, and takes the arm of society, of which he is a part, in preference and in addition to his own. Society grants him nothing. Every man is a proprietor in society, and draws on the capital as a matter of right.

“From these premises, two or three certain conclusions will follow.

“First, That every civil right grows out of a natural right; or, in other words, is a natural right enchanged, (or extended.)

“Secondly, That civil power, properly considered as such, is made up of the aggregate of that class of the natural rights of man, which becomes defective in the individual in point of power, and answers not his purpose; but when collected to a focus, becomes competent to the purpose of every one.

“Thirdly, That the power produced from the aggregate of natural rights, (imperfect in power in the individual,) cannot be applied to invade the natural rights which are retained in the individual, and in which the power to execute is as perfect as the right itself.

“We have now, in a few words, traced man from a natural individual to a member of society, and shown, or endeavoured to show, the quality of the natural rights retained, and of those which are exchanged for civil rights. Let us now apply these principles to governments.

“In casting our eyes over the world, it is extremely easy to distinguish the governments which have arisen out of society, or out of the social compact, from those which have not: but to place this in a clearer light than what a single glance may afford, it will be proper to take a review of the several sources from which governments have arisen and on which they have been founded.

“They may all be comprehended under three heads. First, Superstition. Secondly, Power. Thirdly, The common interest of society, and the common rights of man.

“The first was a government of priestcraft, the second of conquerers, and the third of reason.

“When a set of artful men pretended, through the medium of oracles, to hold intercourse with the Deity, as familiarly as they now march up the back-stairs in European courts, the world was completely under the government of superstition. The oracles were consulted, and whatever they were made to say, became the law; and this sort of government lasted as long as this sort of superstition lasted.

“After these a race of conquerors arose, whose government, like that of William the Conquerer, was founded in power, and the sword assumed the name of a sceptre. Governments thus established, last as long as the power to support them lasts; but that they might avail themselves of every engine in their favour, they united fraud to force, and set up an idol which they called Divine Right, and which in imitation of the Pope, who affects to be spiritual and temporal, and in contradiction to the founder of the Christian religion, twisted itself afterwards into an idol of another shape, called Church and State. The key of St. Peter, and the key of the Treasury, became quartered on one another, and the wondering, cheated multitude, worshipped the invention.

“When I contemplate the natural dignity of man; when I feel (for nature has not been kind enough to me to blunt my feelings) for his honor and happiness, I become irritated at the attempt to govern mankind by force and fraud, as if they were all knaves and fools, and can scarcely avoid disgust at those who are thus imposed upon.

“We have now to review the governments which arise out of society, in contradistinction to those which arose out of superstition and conquest.

“It has been thought a considerable advance towards establishing the principles of freedom to say, that government is a compact between those who govern and those who are governed: but this cannot be true, because it is putting the effect before the cause; for, as man must have existed before governments existed, there necessarily was a time when governments did not exist, and consequently there could originally exist no governors to form such a compact with. The fact therefore must be, that the individuals themselves, each in his own personal and sovereign right, entered into a compact with each other to produce a government; and this is the only mode in which governments have a right to arise, and the only principle on which they have a right to exist.

“To possess ourselves of a clear idea of what government is, or ought to be, we must trace it to its origin. In doing this, we shall easily discover that governments must have arisen, either out of the people, or over the people. Mr. Burke has made no distinction. He investigates nothing to its source, and therefore he confounds every thing; but he has signified his intention of undertaking, at some future opportunity, a comparison between the constitutions of England and France. As he thus renders it a subject of controversy, by throwing the gauntlet, I take him upon his own ground. It is in high challenges that high truths have the right of appearing; and I accept it with the more readiness because it affords me, at the same time, an opportunity of pursuing the subject with respect to governments arising out of society.

“But it will be first necessary to define what is meant by a constitution. It is not sufficient that we adopt the word: we must fix also a standard signification to it.

“A constitution is not a thing in name only, but in fact. It has not an ideal, but a real existence; and whenever it cannot be produced in a visible form, there is none. A constitution is a thing antecedent to a government, and a government is only the creature of a constitution. The constitution of a country is not the act of its government, but of the people constituting a government. It is the body of elements, to which you can refer, and quote article by article, and which contains the principles on which the government shall be established, the manner in which it shall be organized, the powers it shall have, the mode of elections, the duration of parliaments, or by what other name such bodies may be called; the powers which the executive part of the government shall have; and, in fine, every thing that relates to the complete organization of a civil government, and the principles on which it shall act, and by which it shall be bound. A constitution, therefore, is to a government, what the laws made afterwards by that government are to a court of judicature. The court of judicature does not make the laws, neither can it alter them. It only acts in conformity to the laws made, and the government is, in like manner, governed by the constitution.”

“Toleration is not the opposite of intolerance, but is the counterfeit of it. Both are despotisms. The one assumes to itself the right of withholding liberty of conscience, and the other of granting it. The one is the pope, armed with fire and faggot, and the other is the selling or granting indulgences. The former is church and state, and the latter is church and traffic.

“But toleration may be viewed in a much stronger light. Man worships not himself, but his Maker; and the liberty of conscience which he claims is not for the service of himself, but of his God. In this case, therefore, we must necessarily have the associated idea of two beings: the mortal who renders the worship, and the Immortal Being who is worshipped. Toleration, therefore, places itself, not between man and man, nor between church and church, nor between one denomination of religion and another, but between God and man; between the being who worships, and the Being who is worshipped; and by the same act of assumed authority by which it tolerates man to pay his worship, it presumptuously and blasphemously sets itself up to tolerate the Almighty to receive it.

“Were a bill brought into any parliament, entitled, ‘An Act to tolerate or grant liberty to the Almighty to receive the worship of a Jew or a Turk, or prohibit the Almighty from receiving it,’ all men would startle, and call it blasphemy. There would be an uproar. The presumption of toleration in religious matters would then present itself unmasked; but the presumption is not less because the name of ‘man’ only appears to those laws, for the associated idea of the worshipper and the worshipped cannot be separated. Who, then, art thou, vain dust and ashes! by whatever name thou art called—whether a king, a bishop, a church or a state, a parliament, or any thing else, that obtrudest thine insignificance between the soul of man and its Maker? Mind thine own concerns. If he believes not as thou believest, it is a proof that thou believest not as he believeth, and there is no earthly power can determine between you.

“With respect to what are called denominations of religion, if every one is left to judge of their own religion, there is no such thing as a religion that is wrong; but if they are to judge of each others religion, there is no such a thing as a religion that is right, and therefore all the world is right, or all the world is wrong. But with respect to religion itself, without regard to names, and as directing itself from the universal family of mankind to the Divine object of all adoration, it is man bringing to his Maker the fruits of his heart; and though those fruits may differ from each other, like the fruits of the earth, the grateful tribute of every one is accepted.

“A bishop of Durham, or a bishop of Winchester, or the archbishop who heads the dukes, will not refuse a tythe-sheaf of wheat because it is not a cock of hay, nor a cock of hay because it is not a sheaf of wheat, nor a pig because it is neither one nor the other; but these same persons, under the figure of an established church, will not permit their Maker to receive the varied tythes of man’s devotion.”

“It is attributed to Henry the Fourth, of France, a man of an enlarged and benevolent heart, that he proposed, about the year 1610, a plan for abolishing war in Europe. The plan consisted in constituting an European Congress, or, as the French author styles it, a Pacific Republic, by appointing delegates from the several nations, who were to act as a court of arbitration in any disputes that might arise between nation and nation. .

“Had such a plan been adopted at the time it was proposed, the taxes of England and France, as two of the parties, would have been at least ten millions sterling annually to each nation less than they were at the commencement of the French Revolution.

“To conceive a cause why such a plan has not been adopted, (and that instead of a congress for the purpose of preventing war, it has been called only to terminate a war, after a fruitless expense of several years,) it will be necessary to consider the interest of governments as a distinct interest to that of nations.

“Whatever is the cause of taxes to a nation, becomes also the means of revenue to a government. Every war terminates with an addition of taxes, and consequently with an addition of revenue; and in any event of war, in the manner they are now commenced and concluded, the power and interest of governments are increased. War, therefore, from its productiveness, as it easily furnishes the pretence of necessity for taxes and appointments to places and offices, becomes a principal part of the system of old governments; and to establish any mode to abolish war, however advantageous it might be to nations, would be to take from such governments the most lucrative of its branches. The frivolous matters upon which war is made, show the disposition and avidity of governments to uphold the system of war., and betray the motives upon which they act.”

“Many, who have arisen to high elevation of rank or fortune, seem to think that their nature has undergone a real metamorphosis; that they are refined by a kind of chemical process, sublimed by the sunshine of royal favor, and separated from the feces, the dross, and the dregs of ordinary humanity—that humanity of which the mass of mankind partake, and which, imperfect as it is, God created. They seem to themselves raised to a pinnacle, from which they behold, with sentiments of indifference or contempt, all two-legged and unfeathered beings of inferior order, placed in the vale, as ministers of their pride and slaves of their luxury, or else burdens of the earth, and superfluous sharers of existence.

“The endeavor of their lives, never employed in the essential service of society, is to keep the vulgar at a distance, lest their own pure nature should be contaminated by the foul contagion. Their offspring must be taught, in the first instance, to know and revere, not God, not man, but their own rank in life. The infants are scarcely suffered to breathe the common air, to feel the common sun, or to walk upon the common earth. Immured in nurseries till the time for instruction arrives, they are then surrounded by a variety of domestic tutors. And what is the first object in their education? Is it the improvement of their minds, the acquisition of manly sentiment, useful knowledge, expanded ideas, piety, philanthropy? No; it is the embellishment of their persons, an accurate attention to dress, to their teeth, to grace in dancing, attitude in standing, uprightness; not the uprightness of the heart, but the formal and unnatural perpendicularity of a soldier drilled on the parade. The first object with the pupil, and the last, the lesson to be got by heart, and to be repeated by night and by day, is an adequate conception of his own native consequence, a disposition to extend the influence of rank and riches, and to depress and discourage the natural tendency of personal merit to rise to distinction by its own elastic force.

“Their masters themselves are to be dependent on the caprice of wealthy pupils, or a rebellion may ensue. Such an event, indeed, is sometimes devoutly wished, as it affords opportunities for embryo heroes to show their prowess and their noble pride. Every ebullition of spirits, as it is candidly called, displaying itself in insolence or ill usage of the inferior ranks—defenceless old men or women, and the poor in general—is remembered and cherished with care, as a flattering prognostic of future eminence in the cabinet, the senate, at the bar, or in the field. Justice, generosity, humility, are words, indeed, in the Dictionary, and may adorn a declamation; but insolence, extravagance, and pride, must mark the conduct of those who are sent, rather to support the dignity of native grandeur by the spirit of arrogance, than to seek wisdom and virtue with the docility of modest and ingenuous disciples. Practical oppression of inferiors is one of the first elements of aristocratical education, and the order of Faggs (as they are called) contributes much to familiarize the exercise of future despotism. Mean submissions prepare the mind, in its turn, to tyrannize.”

“Those who are possessed of exorbitant power, who pant for its extension, and tremble at the apprehension of losing it, are always sufficiently artful to dwell with emphasis on the evils of licentiousness, under which opprobrious name they wish to stigmatize liberty. They describe the horrors of anarchy and confusion in the blackest colors, and boldly affirm that they are the necessary consequences of intrusting the people with power. Indeed, they hardly condescend to recognize the idea of a People; but, whenever they speak of the mass of the community, denominate them the mob, the rabble, or the swinish multitude. Language is at a loss for appellatives, significant of their contempt for those who are undistinguished by wealth or titles, and is obliged to content itself with such words as reptiles, scum, dregs, or the many headed monster.

“Man, that noble animal, formed with powers capable of the sublimest virtues, possessed of reason, and tremulously alive to every finer feeling, is degraded by his fellow-man, when dressed in a little brief authority, to a rank below that of the beast of the field; for the beasts of the field are not treated with epithets of contumely, but regarded with a degree of esteem. The proud grandee views the horses in his stable, and the dogs in his kennel, with affection, pampers them with food, lodges them in habitations, not only commodious, but luxurious; and, at the same time, despises his fellow creatures, scarcely fed, wretchedly clothed, and barely sheltered in the neighboring cottage. And if his fellow creature dares to remonstrate, his complaint is contumacy and sedition, and his endeavor to meliorate his own state and that of his miserable neighbor, by the most lawful means, downright treason and rebellion.

“Villainous oppression on one hand, and, on the other, contemptible submission! If such acquiescence, under the most iniquitous inequality; such wretchedness, without the privilege of complaint, is the peace, the order, and the tranquillity of despotism; then peace, order, and tranquility change their nature, and become the curse and bane of human nature. Welcome, in comparison, all the feuds, animosities, and revolutions attributed to a state of freedom, for they are symptoms of life and robust health, while the repose of despotism is the deadness of a palsy. Life, active, enterprising life, with all its tumult, disaster, and disappointment, is to be preferred to the silence of death, the stillness of desolation.

“But I deny that a love of liberty, or a state of liberty, is, of necessity, productive of any injurious or fatal disorder. I presuppose that the minds of the people, even the lowest of the people, are duly enlightened; that the savageness of gross ignorance is mitigated by culture—by that culture which all well-regulated states are solicitous to bestow on every partaker of the rational faculty.

“In a state of liberty, every man learns to value himself as man; to consider himself as of importance in the system which himself has approved and contributed to establish, and therefore resolves to regulate his own behavior consistently with its safety and preservation. He feels as a proprietor, not as a tenant. He loves the state because he participates in it. His obedience is not the cold, reluctant result of terror, but the lively, cheerful, and spontaneous effect of love. The violation of laws formed on the pure principle of general beneficence, and to which he has given his full assent by a just and perfect representation, he considers as a crime of the deepest dye. He will think freely, and speak freely, of the constitution. He will incessantly endeavor to improve it, and enter seriously into all political debates. In the collision of agitated minds sparks will sometimes be emitted, but they will only give a favorable light and a genial warmth. They will never produce any injurious conflagration.

“But I repeat that the people should be enlightened, in every rank, the highest as well as the lowest, to render them capable of perfect liberty, without danger of those evils which its enemies are always asserting to be its unavoidable consequences. The vulgar must be instructed not merely in the arts which tend to the acquisition, increase, and preservation of money, but in a generous philosophy. They must be liberalized. They must early learn to view human life and society in their just light; to consider themselves as essential parts of a whole, the integrity of which is desirable to every component member. Their taste will improve with their understanding; and they will see the beauty of order, while they are convinced of its utility. Thus principled by virtue, and illuminated with knowledge, they will eagerly return, after every deviation, which even a warmth of virtue may cause, to regular obedience, and to all the functions of citizens; valuing the public peace and prosperity, because they understand clearly that the public happiness is intimately combined with their own. They may infringe laws, from the imperfection of their nature; but they will return to their obedience without force, having” been convinced that no laws are made but such as are necessary to their well-being in society. They will consider laws, not as chains and fetters, but as helmets and shields for their protection. The light of the understanding will correct the eccentricities of the heart; and all deviations, however rapid at their commencement, will be short in extent and transitory in duration.

“Such would be the effect of enlightening the people with political knowledge, and enlarging their minds by pure philosophy. But what say the despots? Like the tyrannical son of Philip, when he reprimanded Aristotle for publishing his Discoveries, they whisper to their myrmidons, ‘Let us diffuse darkness round the land. Let the people be kept in a brutal state. Let their conduct, when assembled, be riotous and irrational as ignorance and our Spies can make it, that they may be brought into discredit, and deemed unfit for the management of their own affairs. Let power be rendered dangerous in their hands, that it may continue unmolested in our own. Let them not taste the fruit of the tree of knowledge, lest they become as we are, and learn to know good and evil.’ ‘Darken your doctrines,’ said the despot Alexander to the great philosopher.

“That such are the sentiments of the men who wish for the extension of royalism or aristocracy, and the depression of the people, is evident from the uneasiness they have shown at all benevolent attempts to diffuse knowledge among the poor. They have expressed, in terms of anger and mortification, their dislike of Sunday schools. The very newspapers which they have engaged in the service of falsehood and toryism, have endeavored to discountenance, by malignant paragraphs, the progress of those patriotic institutions. Scribbiers of books and pamphlets, in the same vile cause, have intimated their apprehensions that the poor may learn to read political books in learning to read their Bible, and that the reading of political books must unavoidably produce discontent. A wretched compliment to the cause which they mean to defend! It is impossible not to infer from their apprehensions, that as men increase in understanding and knowledge, they must see reason to disapprove the systems established. These men breathe the very spirit of despotism, and wish to communicate it. But their conduct, in this instance, is an argument against the spirit which they endeavor to diffuse. Their conduct seems to say, The spirit of despotism is so unreasonable, that it can never be approved by the mass of the people when their reason is suffered to receive its proper cultivation. Their conduct seems to say, Let there be light, and the deformity of despotism will create abhorrence.

“Be the consequence what it may, let the light of knowledge be diffused among all who partake of reason; and let us remember that it was the Lord God Almighty who first said, ‘Let There Be Light.'”

“There is nothing which I can so reluctantly pardon in the great ones of this world, as the little value they entertain for the life of a man. Property, if seized or lost, may be restored; and, without property, man may enjoy a thousand delightful pleasures of existence. The sun shines as warmly on the poor as on the rich, and the gale of health breathes its balsam into the cottage casement on the heath no less sweetly and salubriously than into the portals of the palace; but can the lords of this world, who are so lavish of the lives of their inferiors, with all their boasted power, give the cold heart to beat again, or relume the light of the eye once dimmed by the shades of death? Accursed despots, show me your authority for taking away that which ye never gave, and cannot give; for undoing the work of God, and extinguishing the lamp of life which was illuminated with a ray from heaven. Where is your charter to privilege murder? You do the work of Satan, who was a destroyer; and your right, if you possess any, must have originated from the father of mischief and misery.

“Yet take a view of the world, and you will immediately be led to conclude that scarcely any thing is viler than human life. Crimes which have very little moral evil, if any, and which, therefore, cannot incur the vengeance of a just and merciful Deity, are punished with death at a human tribunal. I mean state crimes—such actions, conduct, speeches, as are made crimes by despots, but are not recognized as such in the decalogue; such as may proceed from the purest and most virtuous principle, from the most enlarged benevolence, from wisdom and unaffected patriotism; such as may proceed from mere warmth of temper, neither intending nor accomplishing any mischief; the mere effects of error, as innocent, too, in its consequences as its origin. But the despot is offended or frightened; for guilt trembles at the least alarm, and nothing but the blood of the accused can expiate the offence.

“Yet, numerous as are the innocent victims of the tribunal, where to offend the state is the greatest abomination that man can commit, they are lost and disappear when compared to the myriads sacrificed to the demon of war. Despotism delights in war. It is its element. As the bull knows, by instinct, that his strength is in his horns, and the eagle trusts in his talons, so the despot feels his puissance most when surrounded by soldiery arrayed for battle. With the sword in his hand, and his artillery around him, he rejoices in his might and glories in his greatness. Blood must mark his path; and his triumph is incomplete till death and destruction stalk over the land, the harbingers of his triumphant cavalcade.

“We hear much of necessary wars; but it is certainly true, that a real, absolute, unavoidable necessity for war, such as alone can render it just, has seldom occurred in the history of man. The pride, the wanton cruelty of absolute princes, caring nothing for human life, have, in all ages, without the least necessity, involved the world in war; and therefore it is the common duty of all mankind to abolish absolute power, and to discourage, by every lawful means, the spirit that leads to any degree of it. No individual, however good, is fit to be trusted with so dangerous a deposit. His’ goodness may be corrupted by the magnitude of the trust; and it is the nature of power, uncontrolled by fear or law, to vitiate the best dispositions. He who would have shuddered to spill a drop of blood in a hostile contest, as a private man, shall deluge whole provinces, as an absolute prince, and laugh over the subjugated plains which he has fertilized with human gore.

“What are the chief considerations with such men, previously to going to war and at its conclusion? Evidently the expense of Money. Little is said or thought of the lives lost, or devoted to be lost, except as matters of pecuniary value. Humanity, indeed, weeps in silence and solitude in the sequestered shade of private life; but is a single tear shed in courts, and camps, and cabinets? When men high in command, men of fortune and family, fall, their deeds are blazoned, and they figure in history; but who, save the poor widow and the orphan, inquire after the very names of the rank and file? There they lie, a mass of human flesh, not so much regretted by the despots as the horses they rode, or the arms they bore. While ships often go down to the bottom, struck by the iron thunderbolts of war, and not a life is saved, the national loss is estimated by the despot according to the weight of metal wasted, and the magnitude and expense of the wooden castle.

“God, we read, made man in his own image, and our Saviour taught us that he was the heir of immortality. God made no distinction of persons; but behold a being, born to a sceptre, though a poor, puny, shivering mortal like the rest, presumes to sell, and let out for hire, these images of God, to do the work of butchers, in any cause and for any paymaster, on any number of unoffending fellow-creatures, who are standing up in defence of their hearths, their altars, their wives, their children, and their liberty. Great numbers of men, trained to the trade of human butchery, are constantly ready to be let to hire, to carry on the work of despotism, and to support, by the money they earn in this hellish employment, the luxurious vices of the wretch who calls them his property. Can that state of human affairs be right and proper which permits a miscreant, scarcely worthy the name of a man, sunk in effeminacy, the slave of vice—often the most abominable kind of vice—ignorant and illiterate, debilitated with disease, weak in body as in mind, to have such dominion of hundreds of thousands, his superiors by nature, as to let them out for pay, to murder the innocent stranger in cold blood?

“What shall we think of the practice of what is called kidnapping? Is it to be allowed in a free country? Are not men bought, inveigled, or forced by it, as if they were cattle, beasts of the field or the forest, and capable of becoming the property of the purchaser or the captor? .If a nation should behold with patience such a practice increasing and encouraged by the great, would there not be reason to suspect that it had lost the spirit of freedom, and was preparing to submit its neck to the yoke of despotism? Is not an African one of the images of God? Is he not entitled to all the rights of nature, and the society of which he is a member? Does poverty disfranchise a man, rob him of his rights, and render his life a commodity to be bought and sold, or thrown away, at the will of a rich man, who is enabled to take advantage of his want, and add to the misfortune of indigence the curse of slavery? Are a few pieces of silver to be allow. ed, by connivance if not by legal permission, as the price of blood, when poverty, but not the will, consents to the sale?

“Even if boxing were ever to become a spectacle patronized by Congress, and encouraged by a people, there would be reason to fear lest man, as man, had lost his value; lest life were estimated of little price; and lest the spirit of despotism were gradually insinuating itself into the community. There would be reason to fear lest times, like those of the latter Roman emperors, were returning, and that men might be kept like wild beasts, to be brought on the stage and fight for public diversion, and to be murdered for the evening’s amusement of fashionable lords and ladies at an opera-house.

“The dignity of human nature, in despotical countries, is treated as a burlesque. A man is less dignified than a pampered horse, and his life infinitely less valued. But in a land of liberty, like ours, every man should learn to venerate himself and his neighbour, as a noble creature, dependent only on God, on reason, on law. Life, under such circumstances, is a pearl of great price. Every human being, under such circumstances, is of equal value in the sight of God, They, therefore, who, in consequence of civil elevation, hold any man’s life cheap and vile, unless he has forfeited his rights by enormous crimes, are guilty of rebellion against God and nature.”

“Men who undertake to defend any thing contrary to the common sense and common interest of mankind, may hurt the side they intend to defend by promoting a discussion, and calling forth common sense, excited by the common interest, to defend its own cause. Thus, Sir Robert Filmer’s book gave rise both to Sidney’s and Locke’s Defence of Liberty. Thus, Mr. Burke’s Reflections on France drew forth Mr. Paine’s Rights of Man, in which is much excellent matter. Thus, Salmasius’s mercenary invective against the republicans of England in the last century, provoked the great Milton, scarcely less eloquent in prose than in poetry, to defend the right of the people of England to manage in their own country their own concerns, according to their own judgment and inclination.

“Milton and Locke are great names on the side of liberty. But Milton has been treated contemptuously; and some have shown a spirit illiberal enough to detract from his poetry, in revenge for his politics. His last biographer, Dr. Johnson, who had many early prejudices which his most vigorous reason could not to the last subdue, was, by early prejudice, a violent Tory and Jacobite. I think there is reason to believe, that he would easily have been made a convert to popery. I venerate his abilities and virtues; but I cannot help remarking, that his high-church and high-prerogative principles led him to speak less honorably of Milton than he must have done if he had viewed him through a medium undiscolored. Milton was a greater man than Johnson, though I think he went not sufficiently far in his hatred to monarchy and episcopacy. Milton discovered a noble spirit of independence, and his writings contain some of the finest passages that ever were written in vindication of civil liberty. They contributed to raise that spirit which afterwards produced our happy revolution; and I have no doubt but that Milton would have rejoiced under the federal constitution of the United States. It is to writings and a spirit like his, mankind are indebted for liberty. If honest and able minds like Paine’s and Milton’s had not appeared on the part of the people, it is probable that no such thing as a republic would have been found on the face of the earth.

“Free spirits are therefore to be pardoned in some errors, which the propensity of human nature to err must ever render venial ; and the general tendency of their writings to make the mass of mankind free and happy, ought to secure attention to their doctrines and honor to their names. The enemies to the spirit of despotism have seen, with pain, the attempts to lessen these great men in the eyes of the world extended to writers of less renown, but of more recent date. They have seen men, good men in private life, and philosophers, whose discourses and letters have gained the notice and esteem of every enlightened country, reproached, vitified, persecuted, and almost destroyed, because, in consequence of that fine understanding which had done so much in philosophy, they made some discoveries in politics which must forever militate powerfully against the spirit of despotism. Paine, Voltaire, Rosseau, Raynal, Price, Priestley, however different their characters, attainments, and abilities, are all vilified together, (because they have written admirably on the side of liberty,) all involved in one discriminate torrent of obloquy. The partizans of monarchy would persuade us, not only that they were knaves, but fools. Some of them have very exceptionable passages in their works; but where they treat of civil liberty, they plead the cause of human nature. They have not pleaded it unsuccessfully. Political artifices cannot always stifle truth and common sense.

“The independent part of mankind, who detest parties and faction, and mean nothing but the happiness of their fellow creatures, will do well to be upon their guard against the misrepresentations of those who would vilify a Penn, a Locke, a Milton, and a Sidney. Let them read and judge for themselves. The men who are anxious to withhold or extinguish the light, may fairly be suspected of intending to do evil.”

“Civil government does not consist in executions, but in making such provision for the instruction of youth, and the support of age, (and the necessitous,) as to exclude, as much as possible, profligacy from the one, and despair from the other. Hence the cogent necessity of public seminaries of learning being established in the United States by the national and state legislatures. Instead of this, the resources of a country are lavished upon kings, upon courts, upon hirelings, imposters, and prostitutes; and even the poor themselves, with all their wants upon them, are compelled to support the fraud that oppresses them.

“Why is it that scarcely any are executed but the poor? The fact is a proof, among other things, of a wretchedness in their condition. Bred up without morals or information, and cast upon the world without a prospect, they are the exposed sacrifice of vice and legal barbarity. The millions that are superfluously wasted upon governments are more than sufficient to reform those evils, and to benefit the condition of every man in a nation, not included within the purlieus of a court.”

“Man is a progressive animal, and his advance towards improvement is a pleasurable state. Hope cheers his path as he toils up the hill that leads him to something better than he has yet experienced, on its gay summit gilded with sunshine. The labor of the ascent is a delight. But if he cannot help conceiving, from a sense of grievances which he feels, something excellent, to which he is prohibited by coercion from approaching, hope sickens, and ill-humor succeeds to complacency. Hence arises a disagreement between the governed and governors; and the governors, being possessed of the present power, use force and rigor to stifle the rumors of complaint. Coercion but increases the ill-humor, which often lies latent, like the fires of a volcano, for a considerable time, but at last bursts forth with irresistible fury. It is wise, therefore, as well as just, in all governors who have a regard for any thing but their present and private interest, to encourage discussion, to seek improvement of the system, and to reject no reform proposed by great numbers without a cool, a temperate, and a long deliberation. The reasons for rejection should be clearly stated, with the utmost regard to open and ingenuous behavior; and those who remain unconvinced, after all, should not be treated with asperity. Every individual, in a free country, has a right to approve or disapprove the system under which he lives, without peril or control, while he preserves the peace. His peaceable deportment and acquiescence in the opinion of others, contrary to his own conviction, renders him a very meritorious character. He may be won over by gentleness, but force only tends to excite the violence which it would imperiously repel.

“But to tell a man of sense, reading, and reflection, that he must not venture to entertain an opinion on political matters, or the existing government, different from that of the president, the consul, or the king, is an impotent endeavor to exercise a despotism over his mind against which nature revolts, and a manly spirit must rebel. Such a man can usually judge of governments, and all the institutions of social life, better than mere men of business, however high their rank or important their employments—far better than overgrown rich, occupied in vain ceremonies, and usually as little able as inclined to enter into deep disquisition.

“Despotism is so ugly in its form, and so hostile in its nature, to human happiness, that no wonder those who wish to diffuse its spirit are inclined to check and discourage among the people all political investigation. But let it be a rule among those who really value liberty and the rights of man, to use the more diligence in political discussion, in proportion as tories and traitors display a wish to suppress political writings and conversations, and disseminate the doctrine that things are so well constituted as neither to require nor admit any improvement. The representative system takes society and civilization for its basis, reason and experience for its guide.

“As this is the order of nature, the order of government must necessarily follow it, or government will, as we see it does, degenerate into ignorance. The hereditary system, therefore, is as repugnant to human wisdom as to human rights, and is as absurd as it is unjust.

“As the republic of letters brings forward the best literary productions, by giving to genius a fair and universal chance, so the representative system of government is calculated to produce the wisest laws, by collecting wisdom from where it can be found. I smile to myself when I contemplate the ridiculous insignificance into which literature and all the sciences would sink, were they made hereditary; and I carry the same idea into governments. An hereditary governor is as inconsistent as an hereditary author. I know not whether Homer or Euclid had sons; but I will venture an opinion, that if they had, and had left their works unfinished, those sons could not have completed them.

“Do we need a stronger evidence of the absurdity of hereditary government than is seen in the descendants of those men, in any line of life, who once were famous? Is there scarcely an instance in which there is not a total reverse of the character? It appears as if the tide of mental faculties flowed as far as it could in certain channels, and then forsook its course and arose in others. How irrational, then, is the hereditary system which establishes channels of power, in company with which wisdom refuses to flow! By continuing this absurdity, man is perpetually in contradiction with himself. He accepts, for a king, or a chief magistrate, or a legislator, a person whom he would not elect for a constable.

“It appears, to general observation, that revolutions create genius and talents; but those events do no more than bring them forward. There is, existing in man, a mass of sense lying in a dormant state, and which, unless something excites it to action, will descend with him, in that condition, to the grave. As it is to the advantage of society that the whole of its faculties should be employed, the construction of government ought to be such as to bring forward, by a quiet and regular operation, all that extent of capacity which never fails to appear in revolutions.

“This cannot take place in the insipid state of hereditary government, not only because it prevents, but because it operates to benumb. When the mind of a nation is bowed down by any political superstition in its government, such as hereditary succession is, it loses a considerable portion of its powers on all other subjects and objects. Hereditary succession requires the same obedience to ignorance as to wisdom; and when once the mind can bring itself to pay this indiscriminate reverence, it descends below the stature of mental manhood. It is fit to be great only in little things. It acts a treachery upon itself, and suffocates the sensations that urge to detection.”

“Great part of that order which reigns among mankind is not the effect of government. It has its origin in the principles of society, and the natural constitution of man. It existed prior to government, and would exist if the formality of government was abolished. The mutual dependance and reciprocal interest which man has upon man, and all the parts of a civilized community upon each other, create that great chain of connection which holds it together. The landholder, the farmer, the manufacturer, the merchant, the tradesman, and every occupation, prospers by the aid which each receives from the other, and from the whole. Common interest regulates their concerns, and forms their law; and the laws which common usage ordains, have a greater influence than the laws of government. In fine, society performs for itself almost every thing which is ascribed to government.

“To understand the nature and quantity of government proper for man, it is necessary to attend to his character. As nature created him for social life, she fitted him for the station she intended. In all cases she made his natural wants greater than his individual powers. No one man is capable, without the aid of society, of supplying his own wants; and those wants, acting upon every individual, impel the whole of them into society, as naturally as gravitation acts to a centre.

“But she has gone further. She has not only forced man into society, by a diversity of wants’, which the reciprocal aid of each other can supply, but she has implanted in him a system of social affections, which, though not necessary to his existence, are essential to his happiness. There is no period in life when this love for society ceases to act. It begins and ends with our being.

“If we examine, with attention, into the composition and constitution of man, the diversity of his wants, and the diversity of talents in different men for reciprocally accommodating the wants of each other, his propensity to society, and consequently to preserve the advantages resulting from it, we shall easily discover that a great part of what is called government is mere imposition.

“Government is no farther necessary than to supply the few cases to which society and civilization are not conveniently competent; and instances are not wanting to show, that every thing which government can usefully add thereto has been performed by the common consent of society, without government.

“For upwards of two years from the commencement of the American war, and for a longer period in several of the American states, there were no established forms of government. The old governments had been abolished, and the country was too much occupied in defence to employ its attention in establishing new governments; yet, during this interval, order and harmony were preserved as inviolate as in any country in Europe. There is a natural aptness in man, and more so in society, because it embraces a greater variety of abilities and resource to accommodate itself to whatever situation it is in. The instant formal government is abolished, society begins to act. A general association takes place, and common interest produces common security.

“So far is it from being true, as has been pretended, that the abolition of any formal government is the dissolution of society, that it acts by a contrary impulse, and brings the latter the closer together. All that part of its organization which it had committed to its government devolves again upon itself, and acts through its medium. When men, as well from natural instinct as from reciprocal benefits, have habituated themselves to social and civilized life, there is always enough of its principles in practice to carry them through any changes they may find necessary or convenient to make in their government. In short, man is so naturally a creature of society, that it is almost impossible to put him out of it.

“Formal government makes but a small part of civilized life; and when even the best that human wisdom can devise is established, it is a thing more in name and idea, than in fact. It is to the great and fundamental principles of society and civilization—to the common usage universally consented to, and mutually and reciprocally maintained—to the unceasing circulation of interest, which, passing through its million channels, invigorates the whole mass of civilized man—it is to these things, infinitely more than to any thing which even the best instituted government can perform, that the safety and prosperity of the individual and of the whole depend.

“The more perfect civilization is, the less occasion has it for government, because the more does it regulate its own affairs, and govern itself: but so contrary is the practice of old governments to the reason of the case, that the expenses of them increase in the proportion they ought to diminish. It is but few general laws that civilized life requires, and those of such common usefulness, that whether they are enforced by the forms of government or not, the effect will be nearly the same. If we consider what the principles are that first condense men into society, and what the motives that regulate their mutual intercourse afterwards, we shall find, by the time we arrive at what is called government, that nearly the whole of the business is performed by the natural operation of the parts upon each other.

“Man, with respect to all those matters, is more a creature of consistency than he is aware, or than governments would wish him to believe. All the great laws of society are laws of nature. Those of trade and commerce, whether with respect to the intercourse of individuals, or of nations, are laws of mutual and reciprocal interest. They are followed and obeyed, because it is the interest of the parties so to do, and not on account of any formal laws their government may impose or interpose.

“But how often is the natural propensity to society disturbed or destroyed by the operations of government? When the latter instead of being ingrafted on the principles of the former, assumes to exist for itself, and acts by partialities of favour and oppression, it becomes the cause of the mischiefs it ought to prevent.

“If we look back to the riots and tumults, which at various times have happened in England, we shall find that they did not proceed from the want of a government, but that government was itself the generating cause; instead of consolidating society it divided it; it deprived it of its natural cohesion, and engendered discontents and disorders, which otherwise would not have existed. In those associations, which men promiscuously form for the purpose of trade, or of any concern, in which government is totally out of the question, and in which they act merely on the principles of society, we see how naturally the various parties unite; and this shows, by comparison, that government, so far from being always the cause or means of order, are often the destruction of it. The riots of 1780 had no other source than the remains of those prejudices, which the government itself had encouraged. But with respect to England there are also other causes.

“Excess and inequality in taxation, however disguised in the means, never fail to appear in their effects. As a great mass of the community are thrown thereby into poverty and discontent, they are constantly on the brink of commotion; and, deprived, as they unfortunately are, of the means of information, are easily heated to outrage. Whatever the apparent cause of any riots may be, the real one is always want of happiness. It shows. that something is wrong in the system of government, that hires the felicity by which society is to be preserved.

“But as fact is superior to reasoning, the instance of America presents itself to confirm these observations.—If there is a country in the world, where concord, according to common calculation, would be least expected, it is America.

“Can we possibly suppose that if governments had originated in a right principle, and had not an interest in pursuing a wrong one, that the world could have been in the wretched and quarrelsome condition we have seen it? What inducement has the farmer, while following the plough, to lay aside his peaceful pursuits, and go to war with the farmer of another country? or what inducement has the manufacturer? What is dominion to them, or to any class of men in a nation? Does it add an acre to any man’s estate, to raise its value? Are not conquest and defeat each of the same price, and taxes the never-failing consequence?—Though this reasoning may be good to a nation, it is not so to a government. War is the Pharo table of governments, and nations the dupes of the game.

“If there is any thing to wonder at in this miserable scene of governments, more than might be expected, it is the progress which the peaceful arts of agriculture, manufacture, and commerce have made, beneath such a long accumulating load of discouragement and oppression. It serves to show, that instinct in animals does not act with stronger impulse, than the principles of society and civilization operate in man.”

“To meliorate the condition of human nature can be the only rational end of government. It cannot be designed to favour one description of men, a Minority of men, at the expense of all others; who having received life from him who alone can give it, received at the same time a right to enjoy it in liberty and security. This was the charter of God and nature; which no mortal, however elevated by conquest or inheritance, can annul or violate without impiety. All government which makes not the advancement of human happiness, and the comfort of the individuals who are subject to its control, the prime purpose of its operations, partakes of despotism; and governments which boast of a free constitution, the views even of statesmen and politicians who espoused the cause of liberty, have been too circumscribed. They have been attached to names and families. They seem not to have opened either their eyes or hearts to objects truly great, and affections sincerely catholic and philanthropic. 1 hate to hear public men, who certainly can have no right to their offices, but for the public good, professing themselves of the democratic party, the federal party, the quid party, and appearing to forget, in their zeal for a few distinguished persons, the great mass of the people, the party of human nature. The majority of men are poor and obscure. To them all party attachments to names and families, little known as public benefactors, must appear at once absurd and injurious. They are the persons who stand in most need of protection and assistance from the powerful. The rich under all governments, have a thousand means of procuring either comfort or defence. It is the mass, the poor and middling ranks, unknown to, and unknowing courts or kings, or senators, or legislators, who require all the alleviation which men enlightened by knowledge, furnished with opulence, elevated by office, can afford to lessen the natural evils of life, aggravated by the moral and artificial. Government possesses the power of alleviating and sometimes of removing, that moral and physical evil which embitters existence.—How deplorable, when government become so perverted, as to increase the evil it was designed to cure. Yet this has been, and is now the case on a great part of the globe; insomuch that the learned and judicious Dr. Prideaux, whose integrity is as well known as his ability, used to say, ‘That it was a doubt with him, whether the benefit which the world receives from government, was sufficient to make amends for the calamities which it suffers from the follies, mistakes, and mal-administration of those who manage it.’

“When it is considered how little the most boasted governments have been able or inclined to prevent the greatest calamity of the world, the frequent recurrence of War, it is natural to conclude, that there has been some radical defect or error in all government, hitherto instituted on the face of the earth. Violence may be used where there is no government. Governments pretend to direct human affairs by reason; but war is a dereliction of reason, a renunciation of all that refines and improves human nature, and an appeal to brute force. Man descends from the heights to which philosophers and legislators had raised him in society; takes the sword, und surpasses the beasts of the forest in ferocity. Yet, so far from thinking himself culpable, he deems his destructive employment the most honorable of all human occupations, because governments have politically contrived to throw a glossy mantle, covered with tinsel and spangles, over the horrors of bloodshed and devastation. If governments with all their riches and power, all their vaunted arts and sciences, all the mysterious policy of cabinets, all the wisdom and eloquence of deliberating senates, are unable to preserve the blessing of peace, uninterrupted, during the short space of twenty years together, they must be dreadfully faulty, either in their constitution or their administration. In what consists the fault? I think in the selfish spirit of despotism, pursuing the sordid or vain-glorious purposes of the governors, with little regard to the real, substantial happiness of the governed. Despotism in some mode or degree, has transformed the shepherds of the flock into wolves; has appropriated the fleeces, shed the blood of the innoxious animals, tore down the fences of the sheepfold, and laid waste the pasture.

“Where is the government that has distributed property so equitably, as that none to whom existence has been given should want the necessaries of existence; and where helpless age and infirmity, as well as helpless infancy, should find a pillar to repose on, and plenty to nourish it, without supplicating a Man, equal by nature, for the cold scanty relief of eleemosynary charity? The truth is, power gradually engrosses property; and the selfish spirit of despotism is ever striving to appropriate all the good, of every kind, which the earth is able to produce.

“The truth is, national glory, the trappings of a court, the parade of armies, the finery of external appearance, have been the silly objects of state solicitude; while Man was left to bewail, in the recesses of want and obscurity, that his mother had brought him into a world of woe, without means of comfort or support, with little other prospect than to labour without ceasing, to fight those who never injured him, and to die prematurely, unknown and unlamented. All his wretchedness has been aggravated by the insults of unfeeling pride; the neglect of aristocratic grandeur, which, under the spirit of despotism, mocked by the false pageantry of life, those who were doomed to feel its real misery. The vain pomp and glory of the world, held out the finger of scorn to that wretchedness which itself contributed to create, and would not relieve.

“After all the language of court adulation, the praises of poets and orators, the statues and monuments erected to the fame (of conquerors and rulers,) the malignant consequences of their actions prove them to have been no other than conspirators against the improvement and happiness of the human race. What were their means of conducting their governments, of exercising this office of Heaven’s vicegerents? Crafty, dishonest arts, oppression, extortion; and above all Fire and Sword. They dared to ape the thunder and lightning of Heaven, and, assisted by the machinations of the Grand Adversary of man, rendered their imitative contrivances for destruction more terrible and deadly than the original. Their imperial robe derived its deep crimson color from human blood; and the gold and diamonds of their diadems were accumulated treasures wrung from the famished bowels of the poor, born only to toil for others, to be robbed, to be wounded, to be trodden under foot and forgotten in an early grave. How few, in comparison, have reached the age of three score and ten, and yet, in the midst of youth and health, their days have been full of labor and sorrow. Heaven’s vicegerents seldom bestowed a thought upon them, except when it was necessary either to inveigle or to force them to take the sword and march to slaughter. Where God caused the sun to shine gaily, and scattered plenty over the land, his vicegerents diffused famine and solitude. The valley which laughed with corn, they watered with the tear of artificial hunger and distress; the plain that was bright with verdure, and gay with flowrets, they dyed red with gore. They operated on the world as the blast of an east wind, as a pestilence, as a deluge, as a conflagration, And have they yet ceased from the earth? Cast your eyes over the plains of Europe, the wilds of Africa’, and the gardens of Asia, European despotism has united with oriental, to unparadise the provinces of India.

“Thus, if God, in his wisdom, has thought fit to allot us a few evils for the purpose of discipline, the Great Ones of the world have endeavored to make the whole of life an evil to the despised and neglected Million. The world is now old, and may profit by the lessons of Experience. She has decisively declared, that Monarchy is the grand source of human misfortune, the Pandora’s box out of which every curse has issued, and scarcely left even Hope behind. Despotism, in its extreme, is fatal to human happiness, and, in all its degrees and modifications, injurious. The spirit of it ought therefore to be suppressed on the first and slightest appearance. It should be the endeavor of every good man, pro virili, as far as his best abilities will extend, to extirpate all arbitrary government from the globe. It should be swept from the earth, or trampled under foot, from China to Peru. But no power is capable of crushing the Hydra, less than the Herculean arm of a whole People.

“I lay it down as an incontrovertible axiom, that all who are born into the world have a right to be as happy in it as the unavoidable evils of nature, and their own disordered passions, will allow. The grand object of all good government, of all government that is not an usurpation, must be to promote this happiness, to assist every individual in its attainment and security. A government chiefly anxious about the emoluments of office, chiefly employed in augmenting its own power and aggrandizing its obsequious instruments, while it neglects the comfort and safety of individuals in middle or low life, is despotic and a nuisance. It is founded on folly as well as wickedness, and like the freaks of insanity, deals mischief and misery around, without being able to ascertain or limit its extent and duration. If it should not be punished as criminal, let it be coerced as dangerous. Let the straight waistcoat be applied; but let Men, judging fellow men, always spare the axe.

“For what rational purpose could we enter into life? To vex, torment, and slay each other with the sword? No, by the sweet mercy of Heaven! I firmly believe, that the great King of Kings, intended every son and daughter of Adam to be as happy as the eternal laws of Nature, under his control, permit them to be in this sublunary state. Execrated and exploded be all those politics, with Machiavel, or the Evil Being, their author, which introduce systems of government and manners among the great, inconsistent with the happiness of the majority. Must real tragedies be forever acting on the stage of human life? Must men go on forever to be tormentors and executioners of men? Is the world never to profit by the experience of ages? Must not even attempts be made to improve the happiness of life, to improve government, though all arts and sciences are encouraged in their progress to perfection? Must the grand art, the sublimest science, that of meliorating the condition of human nature, be stationary? No; forbid it reason, virtue, benevolence, religion! Let the world be made more and more comfortable, to all who are allowed the glorious privilege of seeing the sun and breathing the liberal air. Our forefathers were oppressed by priests and despots, and driven from their natal country to seek an asylum among the more merciful savages of North America. Let us explode that folly, that priest-craft, that bigotry which compelled them to embark on a stormy sea, and seek refuge in a howling wilderness; and let every mortal under the cope of heaven enjoy existence, as long as nature will allow the feasts to continue, without any restraints on liberty, but such as the majority of uncorrupted guests unite in agreeing to be salutary, and therefore conducive to the general festivity.”

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A SUMMARY VIEW OF THE RIGHTS OF BRITISH AMERICA by Thomas Jefferson 1774

ThomasJeffersonQuoteAristocracy

On the instructions given to the first delegation of Virginia to Congress, in August, 1774.

The Legislature of Virginia happened to be in session, in Williamsburg, when news was received of the passage, by the British Parliament, of the Boston Port Bill, which was to take effect on the first day of June then ensuing. The House of Burgesses, thereupon, passed a resolution, recommending to their fellow-citizens, that that day should be set apart for fasting and prayer to the Supreme Being, imploring him to avert the calamities then threatening us, and to give us one heart and one mind to oppose every invasion of our liberties. The next day, May the 20th, 1774, the Governor dissolved us. We immediately repaired to a room in the Raleigh tavern, about one hundred paces distant from the Capitol, formed ourselves into a meeting, Peyton Randolph in the chair, and came to resolutions, declaring, that an attack on one colony, to enforce arbitrary acts, ought to be considered as an attack on all, and to be opposed by the united wisdom of all. We, therefore, appointed a Committee of correspondence, to address letters to the Speakers of the several Houses of Representatives of the colonies, proposing the appointment of deputies from each, to meet annually in a General Congress, to deliberate on their common interests, and on the measures to be pursued in common. The members then separated to their several homes, except those of the Committee, who met the next day, prepared letters according to instructions, and despatched them by messengers express, to their several destinations. It had been agreed, also, by the meeting, that the Burgesses, who should be elected under the writs then issuing, should be requested to meet in Convention, on a certain day in August, to learn the results of these letters, and to appoint delegates to a Congress, should that measure be approved by the other colonies. At the election, the people reelected every man of the former Assembly, as a proof of their approbation of what they had done. Before I left home, to attend the Convention, I prepared what I thought might be given, in instruction, to the Delegates who should be appointed to attend the General Congress proposed. They were drawn in haste, with a number of blanks, with some uncertainties and inaccuracies of historical facts, which I neglected at the moment, knowing they could be readily corrected at the meeting. I set out on my journey, but was taken sick on the road, and was unable to proceed. I therefore sent on, by express, two copies, one under cover to Patrick Henry, the other to Peyton Randolph, who I knew would be in the chair of the Convention. Of the former, no more was ever heard or known. Mr. Henry probably thought it too bold, as a first measure, as the majority of the members did. On the other copy being laid on the table of the Convention, by Peyton Randolph, as the proposition of a member, who was prevented from attendance by sickness on the road, tamer sentiments were preferred, and, 1 believe, wisely preferred: the leap I proposed being too long, as yet, for the mass of our citizens. The distance between these, and the instructions actually adopted, is of some curiosity, however, as it shews the inequality of pace with which we moved, and the prudence required to keep front and rear together. My creed had been formed on unsheathing the sword at Lexington. They printed the paper, however, and gave it the title of ‘ A summary view of the rights of British America.’ In this form it got to London, where the opposition took it up, shaped it to opposition views, and, in that form, it ran rapidly through several editions.

Mr. Marshall, in his history of General Washington, chapter 3, speaking of this proposition for Committees of correspondence and for a General Congress, says, ‘ this measure had already been proposed in town meeting, in Boston,’ and some pages before, he had said, that’ at a session of the General Court of Massachusetts, in September, 1770, that Court, in pursuance of a favorite idea of uniting all the colonies in one system of measures, elected a Committee of correspondence, to communicate with such Committees as might be appointed by the other colonies.’ This is an error. The Committees of correspondence, elected by Massachusetts, were expressly for a correspondence among the several towns of that province only. Besides the text of their proceedings, his own note X, proves this. The first proposition for a general correspondence between the several states, and for a General Congress, was made by our meeting of May, 1774. Botta, copying Marshall, has repeated his error, and so it will be handed on from copyist to copyist, ad infinitum. Here follows my proposition, and the more prudent one which was adopted.

A SUMMARY VIEW OF THE RIGHTS OF BRITISH AMERICA

by Thomas Jefferson;

Editor Descriptive Notes in [Brackets and Italics]

“It is the indispensable duty of the supreme magistrate to consider himself as acting for the whole community, and obliged to support its dignity, and assign to the people, with justice, their various rights, as he would be faithful to the great trust reposed in him.” ~ Cicero

Resolved, that it be an instruction to the said deputies, when assembled in general congress with the deputies from the other states of British America, to propose to the said congress that an humble and dutiful address be presented to his majesty, begging leave to lay before him, as chief magistrate of the British empire, the united complaints of his majesty’s subjects in America; complaints which are excited by many unwarrantable encroachments and usurpations, attempted to be made by the legislature of one part of the empire, upon those rights which God and the laws have given equally and independently to all. To represent to his majesty that these his states have often individually made humble application to his imperial throne to obtain, through its intervention, some redress of their injured rights, to none of which was ever even an answer condescended; humbly to hope that this their joint address, penned in the language of truth, and divested of those expressions of servility which would persuade his majesty that we are asking favours, and not rights, shall obtain from his majesty a more respectful acceptance. And this his majesty will think we have reason to expect when he reflects that he is no more than the chief officer of the people, appointed by the laws, and circumscribed with definite powers, to assist in working the great machine of government, erected for their use, and consequently subject to their superintendance. And in order that these our rights, as well as the invasions of them, may be laid more fully before his majesty, to take a view of them from the origin and first settlement of these countries.

To remind him that our ancestors, before their emigration to America, were the free inhabitants of the British dominions in Europe, and possessed a right which nature has given to all men, of departing from the country in which chance, not choice, has placed them, of going in quest of new habitations, and of there establishing new societies, under such laws and regulations as to them shall seem most likely to promote public happiness. That their Saxon ancestors had, under this universal law, in like manner left their native wilds and woods in the north of Europe, had possessed themselves of the island of Britain, then less charged with inhabitants, and had established there that system of laws which has so long been the glory and protection of that country. Nor was ever any claim of superiority or dependence asserted over them by that mother country from which they had migrated; and were such a claim made, it is believed that his majesty’s subjects in Great Britain have too firm a feeling of the rights derived to them from their ancestors, to bow down the sovereignty of their state before such visionary pretensions. And it is thought that no circumstance has occurred to distinguish materially the British from the Saxon emigration. America was conquered, and her settlements made, and firmly established, at the expence of individuals, and not of the British public. Their own blood was spilt in acquiring lands for their settlement, their own fortunes expended in making that settlement effectual; for themselves they fought, for themselves they conquered, and for themselves alone they have right to hold. Not a shilling was ever issued from the public treasures of his majesty, or his ancestors, for their assistance, till of very late times, after the colonies had become established on a firm and permanent footing. That then, indeed, having become valuable to Great Britain for her commercial purposes, his parliament was pleased to lend them assistance against an enemy, who would fain have drawn to herself the benefits of their commerce, to the great aggrandizement of herself, and danger of Great Britain. Such assistance, and in such circumstances, they had often before given to Portugal, and other allied states, with whom they carry on a commercial intercourse; yet these states never supposed, that by calling in her aid, they thereby submitted themselves to her sovereignty. Had such terms been proposed, they would have rejected them with disdain, and trusted for better to the moderation of their enemies, or to a vigorous exertion of their own force. We do not, however, mean to under-rate those aids, which to us were doubtless valuable, on whatever principles granted; but we would shew [show] that they cannot give a title to that authority which the British parliament would arrogate over us, and that they may amply be repaid by our giving to the inhabitants of Great Britain such exclusive privileges in trade as may be advantageous to them, and at the same time not too restrictive to ourselves. That settlements having been thus effected in the wilds of America, the emigrants thought proper to adopt that system of laws under which they had hitherto lived in the mother country, and to continue their union with her by submitting themselves to the same common sovereign, who was thereby made the central link connecting the several parts of the empire thus newly multiplied.

But that not long were they permitted, however far they thought themselves removed from the hand of oppression, to hold undisturbed the rights thus acquired, at the hazard of their lives, and loss of their fortunes. A family of princes was then on the British throne, whose treasonable crimes against their people brought on them afterwards the exertion of those sacred and sovereign rights of punishment reserved in the hands of the people for cases of extreme necessity, and judged by the constitution unsafe to be delegated to any other judicature. While every day brought forth some new and unjustifiable exertion of power over their subjects on that side the water, it was not to be expected that those here, much less able at that time to oppose the designs of despotism, should be exempted from injury.

Accordingly that country, which had been acquired by the lives, the labours, and the fortunes, of individual adventurers, was by these princes, at several times, parted out and distributed among the favourites and followers of their fortunes,(See Footnote 1) and, by an assumed right of the crown alone, were erected into distinct and independent governments; a measure which it is believed his majesty’s prudence and understanding would prevent him from imitating at this day, as no exercise of such a power, of dividing and dismembering a country, has ever occurred in his majesty’s realm of England, though now of very antient [ancient] standing; nor could it be justified or acquiesced under there, or in any other part of his majesty’s empire.

That the exercise of a free trade with all parts of the world, possessed by the American colonists, as of natural right, and which no law of their own had taken away or abridged, was next the object of unjust encroachment. Some of the colonies having thought proper to continue the administration of their government in the name and under the authority of his majesty king Charles the first, whom, notwithstanding his late deposition by the commonwealth of England, they continued in the sovereignty of their state; the parliament for the commonwealth took the same in high offence, and assumed upon themselves the power of prohibiting their trade with all other parts of the world, except the island of Great Britain. This arbitrary act, however, they soon recalled, and by solemn treaty, entered into on the 12th day of March, 1651, between the said commonwealth by their commissioners, and the colony of Virginia by their house of burgesses, it was expressly stipulated, by the 8th article of the said treaty, that they should have “free trade as the people of England do enjoy to all places and with all nations, according to the laws of that commonwealth.” But that, upon the restoration of his majesty king Charles the second, their rights of free commerce fell once more a victim to arbitrary power; and by several acts of his reign, as well as of some of his successors, the trade of the colonies was laid under such restrictions, as shew what hopes they might form from the justice of a British parliament, were its uncontrouled power admitted over these states. History has informed us that bodies of men, as well as individuals, are susceptible of the spirit of tyranny. A view of these acts of parliament for regulation, as it has been affectedly called, of the American trade, if all other evidence were removed out of the case, would undeniably evince the truth of this observation. Besides the duties they impose on our articles of export and import, they prohibit our going to any markets northward of Cape Finesterre, in the kingdom of Spain, for the sale of commodities which Great Britain will not take from us, and for the purchase of others, with which she cannot supply us, and that for no other than the arbitrary purposes of purchasing for themselves, by a sacrifice of our rights and interests, certain privileges in their commerce with an allied state, who in confidence that their exclusive trade with America will be continued, while the principles and power of the British parliament be the same, have indulged themselves in every exorbitance which their avarice could dictate, or our necessities extort; have raised their commodities, called for in America, to the double and treble of what they sold for before such exclusive privileges were given them, and of what better commodities of the same kind would cost us elsewhere, and at the same time give us much less for what we carry thither than might be had at more convenient ports. That these acts prohibit us from carrying in quest of other purchasers the surplus of our tobaccoes remaining after the consumption of Great Britain is supplied; so that we must leave them with the British merchant for whatever he will please to allow us, to be by him reshipped to foreign markets, where he will reap the benefits of making sale of them for full value. That to heighten still the idea of parliamentary justice, and to shew with what moderation they are like to exercise power, where themselves are to feel no part of its weight, we take leave to mention to his majesty certain other acts of British parliament, by which they would prohibit us from manufacturing for our own use the articles we raise on our own lands with our own labour. By an act passed in the 5th Year [1732] of the reign of his late majesty king George the second, an American subject is forbidden to make a hat for himself of the fur which he has taken perhaps on his own soil; an instance of despotism to which no parallel can be produced in the most arbitrary ages of British history. By one other act, passed in the 23d year [1750] of the same reign, the iron which we make we are forbidden to manufacture, and heavy as that article is, and necessary in every branch of husbandry, besides commission and insurance, we are to pay freight for it to Great Britain, and freight for it back again, for the purpose of supporting not men, but machines, in the island of Great Britain. In the same spirit of equal and impartial legislation is to be viewed the act of parliament, passed in the 5th year of the same reign, by which American lands are made subject to the demands of British creditors, while their own lands were still continued unanswerable for their debts; from which one of these conclusions must necessarily follow, either that justice is not the same in America as in Britain, or else that the British parliament pay less regard to it here than there. But that we do not point out to his majesty the injustice of these acts, with intent to rest on that principle the cause of their nullity; but to shew that experience confirms the propriety of those political principles which exempt us from the jurisdiction of the British parliament. The true ground on which we declare these acts void is, that the British parliament has no right to exercise authority over us.

That these exercises of usurped power have not been confined to instances alone, in which themselves were interested, but they have also intermeddled with the regulation of the internal affairs of the colonies. The act of the 9th of Anne [9th year in the Reign of Queen Anne, 1711] for establishing a post office in America seems to have had little connection with British convenience, except that of accommodating his majesty’s ministers and favourites with the sale of a lucrative and easy office.

That thus have we hastened through the reigns which preceded his majesty’s, during which the violations of our right were less alarming, because repeated at more distant intervals than that rapid and bold succession of injuries which is likely to distinguish the present from all other periods of American story. Scarcely have our minds been able to emerge from the astonishment into which one stroke of parliamentary thunder has involved us, before another more heavy, and more alarming, is fallen on us. Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of a day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period, and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers, too plainly prove a deliberate and systematical plan of reducing us to slavery.

That the act passed in the 4th year [1731] of his majesty’s reign, intitled “An act for granting certain duties in the British colonies and plantations in America, &c.”

One other act, passed in the 5th year [1732] of his reign, intitled “An act for granting and applying certain stamp duties and other duties in the British colonies and plantations in America, &c.” [Stamp Act]

One other act, passed in the 6th year [1733] of his reign, intitled “An act for the better securing the dependency of his majesty’s dominions in America upon the crown and parliament of Great Britain;” [Act declared the right of the British Parliament over the American Colonies] and

one other act, passed in the 7th year [1734] of his reign, intitled “An act for granting duties on paper, tea, &c.”

form that connected chain of parliamentary usurpation, which has already been the subject of frequent applications to his majesty, and the houses of lords and commons of Great Britain; and no answers having yet been condescended to any of these, we shall not trouble his majesty with a repetition of the matters they contained.

But that one other act, passed in the same 7th year of the reign, having been a peculiar attempt, must ever require peculiar mention; it is intitled “An act for suspending the legislature of New York.”

One free and independent legislature hereby takes upon itself to suspend the powers of another, free and independent as itself; thus exhibiting a phoenomenon unknown in nature, the creator and creature of its own power. Not only the principles of common sense, but the common feelings of human nature, must be surrendered up before his majesty’s subjects here can be persuaded to believe that they hold their political existence at the will of a British parliament. Shall these governments be dissolved, their property annihilated, and their people reduced to a state of nature, at the imperious breath of a body of men, whom they never saw, in whom they never confided, and over whom they have no powers of punishment or removal, let their crimes against the American public be ever so great? Can any one reason be assigned why 160,000 electors in the island of Great Britain should give law to four millions in the states of America, every individual of whom is equal to every individual of them, in virtue, in understanding, and in bodily strength? Were this to be admitted, instead of being a free people, as we have hitherto supposed, and mean to continue ourselves, we should suddenly be found the slaves, not of one, but of 160,000 tyrants, distinguished too from all others by this singular circumstance, that they are removed from the reach of fear, the only restraining motive which may hold the hand of a tyrant.

That by “an act to discontinue in such manner and for such time as are therein mentioned the landing and discharging, lading or shipping, of goods, wares, and merchandize, at the town and within the harbour of Boston, in the province of Massachusetts Bay, in North America,” which was passed at the last session of British parliament; a large and populous town, whose trade was their sole subsistence, was deprived of that trade, and involved in utter ruin. Let us for a while suppose the question of right suspended, in order to examine this act on principles of justice: An act of parliament had been passed imposing duties on teas, to be paid in America, against which act the Americans had protested as inauthoritative. The East India company, who till that time had never sent a pound of tea to America on their own account, step forth on that occasion the assertors of parliamentary right, and send hither many ship loads of that obnoxious commodity. The masters of their several vessels, however, on their arrival in America, wisely attended to admonition, and returned with their cargoes. In the province of New England alone the remonstrances [protests] of the people were disregarded, and a compliance, after being many days waited for, was flatly refused. Whether in this the master of the vessel was governed by his obstinancy [stubborn, inflexible], or his instructions, let those who know, say. There are extraordinary situations which require extraordinary interposition. An exasperated people, who feel that they possess power, are not easily restrained within limits strictly regular. A number of them assembled in the town of Boston, threw the tea into the ocean, and dispersed without doing any other act of violence. If in this they did wrong, they were known and were amenable to the laws of the land, against which it could not be objected that they had ever, in any instance, been obstructed or diverted from their regular course in favour of popular offenders. They should therefore not have been distrusted on this occasion. But that ill fated colony had formerly been bold in their enmities against the house of Stuart, and were now devoted to ruin by that unseen hand which governs the momentous affairs of this great empire. On the partial representations of a few worthless ministerial dependents, whose constant office it has been to keep that government embroiled, and who, by their treacheries, hope to obtain the dignity of the British knighthood, without calling for a party accused, without asking a proof, without attempting a distinction between the guilty and the innocent, the whole of that antient and wealthy town is in a moment reduced from opulence to beggary. Men who had spent their lives in extending the British commerce, who had invested in that place the wealth their honest endeavours had merited, found themselves and their families thrown at once on the world for subsistence by its charities. Not the hundredth part of the inhabitants of that town had been concerned in the act complained of; many of them were in Great Britain and in other parts beyond sea; yet all were involved in one indiscriminate ruin, by a new executive power, unheard of till then, that of a British parliament. A property, of the value of many millions of money, was sacrificed to revenge, not repay, the loss of a few thousands. This is administering justice with a heavy hand indeed! and when is this tempest to be arrested in its course? Two wharfs are to be opened again when his majesty shall think proper. The residue which lined the extensive shores of the bay of Boston are forever interdicted the exercise of commerce. This little exception seems to have been thrown in for no other purpose than that of setting a precedent for investing his majesty with legislative powers. If the pulse of his people shall beat calmly under this experiment, another and another will be tried, till the measure of despotism be filled up. It would be an insult on common sense to pretend that this exception was made in order to restore its commerce to that great town. The trade which cannot be received at two wharfs alone must of necessity be transferred to some other place; to which it will soon be followed by that of the two wharfs. Considered in this light, it would be an insolent [an arrogant lack of respect] and cruel mockery at the annihilation of the town of Boston.

By the act for the suppression of riots and tumults in the town of Boston, passed also in the last session of parliament, a murder committed there is, if the governor pleases, to be tried in the court of King’s Bench, in the island of Great Britain, by a jury of Middlesex. The witnesses, too, on receipt of such a sum as the governor shall think it reasonable for them to expend, are to enter into recognizance to appear at the trial. This is, in other words, taxing them to the amount of their recognizance, and that amount may be whatever a governor pleases; for who does his majesty think can be prevailed on to cross the Atlantic for the sole purpose of bearing evidence to a fact? His expences are to be borne, indeed, as they shall be estimated by a governor; but who are to feed the wife and children whom he leaves behind, and who have had no other subsistence but his daily labour? Those epidemical disorders, too, so terrible in a foreign climate, is the cure of them to be estimated among the articles of expence, and their danger to be warded off by the almighty power of parliament? And the wretched criminal, if he happen to have offended on the American side, stripped of his privilege of trial by peers of his vicinage, removed from the place where alone full evidence could be obtained, without money, without counsel, without friends, without exculpatory proof, is tried before judges predetermined to condemn. The cowards who would suffer a countryman to be torn from the bowels of their society, in order to be thus offered a sacrifice to parliamentary tyranny, would merit that everlasting infamy now fixed on the authors of the act! A clause for a similar purpose had been introduced into an act, passed in the 12th year [1739] of his majesty’s reign, intitled “An act for the better securing and preserving his majesty’s dockyards, magazines, ships, ammunition, and stores;” against which, as meriting the same censures, the several colonies have already protested.

That these are the acts of power, assumed by a body of men, foreign to our constitutions, and unacknowledged by our laws, against which we do, on behalf of the inhabitants of British America, enter this our solemn and determined protest; and we do earnestly entreat his majesty, as yet the only mediatory power between the several states of the British empire, to recommend to his parliament of Great Britain the total revocation of these acts, which, however nugatory they be, may yet prove the cause of further discontents and jealousies among us.

That we next proceed to consider the conduct of his majesty, as holding the executive powers of the laws of these states, and mark out his deviations from the line of duty: By the constitution of Great Britain, as well as of the several American states, his majesty possesses the power of refusing to pass into a law any bill which has already passed the other two branches of legislature. His majesty, however, and his ancestors, conscious of the impropriety of opposing their single opinion to the united wisdom of two houses of parliament, while their proceedings were unbiassed by interested principles, for several ages past have modestly declined the exercise of this power in that part of his empire called Great Britain. But by change of circumstances, other principles than those of justice simply have obtained an influence on their determinations; the addition of new states to the British empire has produced an addition of new, and sometimes opposite interests. It is now, therefore, the great office of his majesty, to resume the exercise of his negative power, and to prevent the passage of laws by any one legislature of the empire, which might bear injuriously on the rights and interests of another. Yet this will not excuse the wanton exercise of this power which we have seen his majesty practise on the laws of the American legislatures. For the most trifling reasons, and sometimes for no conceivable reason at all, his majesty has rejected laws of the most salutary tendency. The abolition of domestic slavery is the great object of desire in those colonies, where it was unhappily introduced in their infant state. But previous to the enfranchisement of the slaves we have, it is necessary to exclude all further importations from Africa; yet our repeated attempts to effect this by prohibitions, and by imposing duties which might amount to a prohibition, have been hitherto defeated by his majesty’s negative: Thus preferring the immediate advantages of a few African corsairs to the lasting interests of the American states, and to the rights of human nature, deeply wounded by this infamous practice. Nay, the single interposition of an interested individual against a law was scarcely ever known to fail of success, though in the opposite scale were placed the interests of a whole country. That this is so shameful an abuse of a power trusted with his majesty for other purposes, as if not reformed, would call for some legal restrictions.

With equal inattention to the necessities of his people here has his majesty permitted our laws to lie neglected in England for years, neither confirming them by his assent, nor annulling them by his negative; so that such of them as have no suspending clause we hold on the most precarious of all tenures, his majesty’s will, and such of them as suspend themselves till his majesty’s assent be obtained, we have feared, might be called into existence at some future and distant period, when time, and change of circumstances, shall have rendered them destructive to his people here. And to render this grievance still more oppressive, his majesty by his instructions has laid his governors under such restrictions that they can pass no law of any moment unless it have such suspending clause; so that, however immediate may be the call for legislative interposition, the law cannot be executed till it has twice crossed the atlantic, by which time the evil may have spent its whole force.

But in what terms, reconcileable to majesty, and at the same time to truth, shall we speak of a late instruction to his majesty’s governor of the colony of Virginia, by which he is forbidden to assent to any law for the division of a county, unless the new county will consent to have no representative in assembly? That colony has as yet fixed no boundary to the westward. Their western counties, therefore, are of indefinite extent; some of them are actually seated many hundred miles from their eastern limits. Is it possible, then, that his majesty can have bestowed a single thought on the situation of those people, who, in order to obtain justice for injuries, however great or small, must, by the laws of that colony, attend their county court, at such a distance, with all their witnesses, monthly, till their litigation be determined? Or does his majesty seriously wish, and publish it to the world, that his subjects should give up the glorious right of representation, with all the benefits derived from that, and submit themselves the absolute slaves of his sovereign will? Or is it rather meant to confine the legislative body to their present numbers, that they may be the cheaper bargain whenever they shall become worth a purchase.

One of the articles of impeachment against [Robert] Tresilian [Cornish lawyer, and Chief Justice of the King’s Bench between 1381 and 1387], and the other judges of Westminister Hall, in the reign of Richard the second, [ 1377-1399] for which they suffered death, as traitors to their country, was, that they had advised the king that he might dissolve his parliament at any time; and succeeding kings have adopted the opinion of these unjust judges. Since the establishment, however, of the British constitution, at the glorious revolution, on its free and antient principles, neither his majesty, nor his ancestors, have exercised such a power of dissolution in the island of Great Britain; and when his majesty was petitioned, by the united voice of his people there, to dissolve the present parliament, who had become obnoxious to them, his ministers were heard to declare, in open parliament, that his majesty possessed no such power by the constitution. But how different their language and his practice here! To declare, as their duty required, the known rights of their country, to oppose the usurpations of every foreign judicature, to disregard the imperious mandates of a minister or governor, have been the avowed causes of dissolving houses of representatives in America. But if such powers be really vested in his majesty, can he suppose they are there placed to awe the members from such purposes as these? When the representative body have lost the confidence of their constituents, when they have notoriously made sale of their most valuable rights, when they have assumed to themselves powers which the people never put into their hands, then indeed their continuing in office becomes dangerous to the state, and calls for an exercise of the power of dissolution. Such being the causes for which the representative body should, and should not, be dissolved, will it not appear strange to an unbiassed observer, that that of Great Britain was not dissolved, while those of the colonies have repeatedly incurred that sentence?

But your majesty, or your governors, have carried this power beyond every limit known, or provided for, by the laws: After dissolving one house of representatives, they have refused to call another, so that, for a great length of time, the legislature provided by the laws has been out of existence. From the nature of things, every society must at all times possess within itself the sovereign powers of legislation. The feelings of human nature revolt against the supposition of a state so situated as that it may not in any emergency provide against dangers which perhaps threaten immediate ruin. While those bodies are in existence to whom the people have delegated the powers of legislation, they alone possess and may exercise those powers; but when they are dissolved by the lopping off one or more of their branches, the power reverts to the people, who may exercise it to unlimited extent, either assembling together in person, sending deputies, or in any other way they may think proper. We forbear to trace consequences further; the dangers are conspicuous with which this practice is replete.

That we shall at this time also take notice of an error in the nature of our land holdings, which crept in at a very early period of our settlement. The introduction of the feudal tenures into the kingdom of England, though antient, is well enough understood to set this matter in a proper light. In the earlier ages of the Saxon settlement feudal holdings were certainly altogether unknown; and very few, if any, had been introduced at the time of the Norman conquest. Our Saxon ancestors held their lands, as they did their personal property, in absolute dominion, disencumbered with any superior, answering nearly to the nature of those possessions which the feudalists term allodial. [Allodial: title is a real property ownership system where the real property is owed free and clear of any superior landlord] William, the Norman, first introduced that system generally. The lands which had belonged to those who fell in the battle of Hastings, and in the subsequent insurrections of his reign, formed a considerable proportion of the lands of the whole kingdom. These he granted out, subject to feudal duties, as did he also those of a great number of his new subjects, who, by persuasions or threats, were induced to surrender them for that purpose. But still much was left in the hands of his Saxon subjects; held of no superior, and not subject to feudal conditions. These, therefore, by express laws, enacted to render uniform the system of military defence, were made liable to the same military duties as if they had been feuds; and the Norman lawyers soon found means to saddle them also with all the other feudal burthens [burdens]. But still they had not been surrendered to the king, they were not derived from his grant, and therefore they were not [be]holden of him. A general principle, indeed, was introduced, that “all lands in England were held either mediately or immediately of the crown,” but this was borrowed from those holdings, which were truly feudal, and only applied to others for the purposes of illustration. Feudal holdings were therefore but exceptions out of the Saxon laws of possession, under which all lands were held in absolute right. These, therefore, still form the basis, or ground-work, of the common law, to prevail wheresoever the exceptions have not taken place. America was not conquered by William the Norman, nor its lands surrendered to him, or any of his successors. Possessions there are undoubtedly of the allodial nature. Our ancestors, however, who migrated hither, were farmers, not lawyers. The fictitious principle that all lands belong originally to the king, they were early persuaded to believe real; and accordingly took grants of their own lands from the crown. And while the crown continued to grant for small sums, and on reasonable rents; there was no inducement to arrest the error, and lay it open to public view. But his majesty has lately taken on him to advance the terms of purchase, and of holding to the double of what they were; by which means the acquisition of lands being rendered difficult, the population of our country is likely to be checked. It is time, therefore, for us to lay this matter before his majesty, and to declare that he has no right to grant lands of himself. From the nature and purpose of civil institutions, all the lands within the limits which any particular society has circumscribed around itself are assumed by that society, and subject to their allotment only. This may be done by themselves, assembled collectively, or by their legislature, to whom they may have delegated sovereign authority; and if they are alloted in neither of these ways, each individual of the society may appropriate to himself such lands as he finds vacant, and occupancy will give him title.

That in order to enforce the arbitrary measures before complained of, his majesty has from time to time sent among us large bodies of armed forces, not made up of the people here, nor raised by the authority of our laws: Did his majesty possess such a right as this, it might swallow up all our other rights whenever he should think proper. But his majesty has no right to land a single armed man on our shores, and those whom he sends here are liable to our laws made for the suppression and punishment of riots, routs, and unlawful assemblies; or are hostile bodies, invading us in defiance of law. When in the course of the late war it became expedient that a body of Hanoverian troops should be brought over for the defence of Great Britain, his majesty’s grandfather, our late sovereign, did not pretend to introduce them under any authority he possessed. Such a measure would have given just alarm to his subjects in Great Britain, whose liberties would not be safe if armed men of another country, and of another spirit, might be brought into the realm at any time without the consent of their legislature. He therefore applied to parliament, who passed an act for that purpose, limiting the number to be brought in and the time they were to continue. In like manner is his majesty restrained in every part of the empire. He possesses, indeed, the executive power of the laws in every state; but they are the laws of the particular state which he is to administer within that state, and not those of any one within the limits of another. Every state must judge for itself the number of armed men which they may safely trust among them, of whom they are to consist, and under what restrictions they shall be laid.

To render these proceedings still more criminal against our laws, instead of subjecting the military to the civil powers, his majesty has expressly made the civil subordinate to the military. But can his majesty thus put down all law under his feet? Can he erect a power superior to that which erected himself? He has done it indeed by force; but let him remember that force cannot give right.

That these are our grievances which we have thus laid before his majesty, with that freedom of language and sentiment which becomes a free people claiming their rights, as derived from the laws of nature, and not as the gift of their chief magistrate: Let those flatter who fear; it is not an American art. To give praise which is not due might be well from the venal, but would ill beseem those who are asserting the rights of human nature. They know, and will therefore say, that kings are the servants, not the proprietors of the people. Open your breast, sire, to liberal and expanded thought. Let not the name of George the third be a blot in the page of history. You are surrounded by British counsellors, but remember that they are parties. You have no ministers for American affairs, because you have none taken from among us, nor amenable to the laws on which they are to give you advice. It behoves [to be necessary or fitting for, i.e. Requires] you, therefore, to think and to act for yourself and your people. The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to pursue them requires not the aid of many counsellors. The whole art of government consists in the art of being honest. Only aim to do your duty, and mankind will give you credit where you fail. No longer persevere in sacrificing the rights of one part of the empire to the inordinate desires of another; but deal out to all equal and impartial right. Let no act be passed by any one legislature which may infringe on the rights and liberties of another. This is the important post in which fortune has placed you, holding the balance of a great, if a well poised empire. This, sire, is the advice of your great American council, on the observance of which may perhaps depend your felicity and future fame, and the preservation of that harmony which alone can continue both to Great Britain and America the reciprocal advantages of their connection. It is neither our wish, nor our interest, to separate from her. We are willing, on our part, to sacrifice every thing which reason can ask to the restoration of that tranquillity for which all must wish. On their part, let them be ready to establish union and a generous plan. Let them name their terms, but let them be just. Accept of every commercial preference it is in our power to give for such things as we can raise for their use, or they make for ours. But let them not think to exclude us from going to other markets to dispose of those commodities which they cannot use, or to supply those wants which they cannot supply. Still less let it be proposed that our properties within our own territories shall be taxed or regulated by any power on earth but our own. The God who gave us life gave us liberty at the same time; the hand of force may destroy, but cannot disjoin them. This, sire, is our last, our determined resolution; and that you will be pleased to interpose with that efficacy which your earnest endeavours may ensure to procure redress of these our great grievances, to quiet the minds of your subjects in British America, against any apprehensions of future encroachment, to establish fraternal love and harmony through the whole empire, and that these may continue to the latest ages of time, is the fervent prayer of all British America!

Footnote(s) 1. 1632 Maryland was granted to lord Baltimore, Pennsylvania to Penn, and the province of Carolina was in the year 1663 granted by letters patent of majesty, king Charles II. in the 15th year of his reign, in propriety, unto the right honourable Edward earl of Clarendon, George duke of Albemarle, William earl of Craven, John lord Berkeley, Anthony lord Ashley, sir George Carteret, sir John Coleton, knight and baronet, and sir William Berkeley, knight; by which letters patent the laws of England were to be in force in Carolina: But the lords proprietors had power, _with the consent of the inhabitants,_ to make bye-laws for the better government of the said province; so that no money could be received, or law made, without the consent of the inhabitants, or their representatives.

FINIS.

A DECLARATION BY THE REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, IN GENERAL CONGRESS ASSEMBLED.

The following extract is interesting as showing the influence of the “Proposed Instructions” on contemporary opinion:

Thomas Jefferson, who was one of the elected, was prevented by indisposition from attending. But he forwarded by express, for the consideration of its members, a series of resolutions. I distinctly recollect the applause bestowed on the most of them, when they were read to a large company at the house of Peyton Randolph, to whom they were addressed of all the approbation was not equal. From the celebrated letters of the Pennsylvanian Farmer (John Dickinson) we had been instructed to bow to the external taxation of parliament, as resulting from our migration and a necessary dependence on the mother country. But this composition of Mr. Jefferson shook this conceded principle, although it had been confirmed by a still more celebrated pamphlet of Daniel Dulaney of Maryland, and cited by Lord Chatham as a text-book of American rights. The young ascended with Mr. Jefferson to the source of those rights [Our Creator], the old required time for consideration before they could tread this lofty ground which, if it had not been abandoned, at least had not been fully occupied throughout America. From what cause it happened that the resolutions were not printed by order of the Convention does not appear; but as they were not adopted, several of the author’s admirers subscribed for their publication. When the time of writing is remembered, a range of inquiry not then very frequent, and marching far beyond the politics of the day will surely be allowed them.—[Edmund Randolph in MS. History of Virginia, quoted in Ford’s “Jefferson,” vol. I., p. 422, and reprinted here by permission of G. P. Putnam & Sons.]

 Sources:
The writings of Thomas Jefferson: being his autobiography, correspondence, reports, etc. by Thomas Jefferson from the original manuscripts deposited in the Department of State, Volume One; Published 1853 by Taylor & Maury, Washington
A summary view of the rights of British America: Set forth in some Resolutions intended for: The Inspection of the present Delegates of the People of Virginia, now in Convention. by Thomas Jefferson; 1774

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Thomas Jefferson Biography

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THOMAS JEFFERSON,  American statesman, third President of the United States; b. Shadwell, Albemarle County, Va., 13 April 1743; d. Monticello, Albemarle County, Va., 4 July 1826; student at William and Mary College, Williamsburg. Va., 1760-62; student of law 1762-67; member of house of burgesses 1769-74; member of Virginia Conventions 1774 and 1775; of the Continental Congress 1775-76; of Virginia legislature 1776-79: governor of Virginia 1779-81; member of Congress 1783-84; Minister to France 1784-89; Secretary of State 1790-93; Vice-President 1797-1801); President 1801-09; in retirement at Monticello 1809-26.

Thomas Jefferson was the son of Peter Jefferson, a planter & an Anglican vestryman of Albemarle County, Va. His mother was Jane Randolph, daughter of Isham Randolph, who was a descendant of William Randolph of Turkey Island, the progenitor of that family so well known in Virginia history. Jefferson’s birthplace was Shadwell, about four miles from the city of Charlottesville. At this homestead he resided until it was destroyed by fire in 1770; thereupon Jefferson selected a low mountain about two miles from Charlottesville, where he built that now famous mansion, “Monticello, Albemarle County, Va., has the proud distinction of being the section in which Jefferson was born, reared, lived, died and lies buried. Jefferson’s early education, as was usually the case with Virginia planters, was entrusted first to a private tutor, from whom he learned Latin, Greek, French and mathematics. At 14 his father died, and after two years in a school conducted by the Rev. James Maury, he entered in 1760 William and Mary College, at that time the best institution of learning in America. The student Jefferson is described as tall and rawboned, with reddish hair and grayish hazel eyes. He was not then regarded as handsome, though in after years he was considered as probably the most attractive in appearance of the great Virginia statesmen. As a youth he was noted for his intelligence, and while at college he was in constant association-with such men of culture as George Wythe (q.v.), the eminent lawyer; Prof. William Small, the profound scholar, and Gov. Francis Fauquier (q.v.), the gay and accomplished gentleman. With these gentlemen, many years his senior, he was accustomed to discuss the deepest questions of philosophy and government. In Williamsburg, Jefferson was one of the leaders in all social functions, and always attended the balls given in the Apollo Room of the Raleigh Tavern’. Probably his first year at college was spent among too many festivities, but during his second year he is said to have been a most diligent student, often devoting 15 hours a day to his books. After two years of college work he commenced the study of law under George Wythe, but did not apply for admission to practice before the General Court of Virginia till 1767. Jefferson was now 24 years of age; he had a large farm of 1,900 acres (soon increased to 5,000 acres) to which he gave his personal supervision. Though he devoted much time to this farm, he succeeded so well as a lawyer that his profession soon paid him $3,000 annually.

In 1769 he was returned by Albemarle County a member of the House of Burgesses, an honor which his father had had before him. This was Jefferson’s beginning as a statesman. He had stood in 1765 in the hallway of the House of Burgesses when Patrick Henry (q.v.) offered his famous resolution against the Stamp Act, and from Patrick Henry he imbibed the spirit of revolution. Just as soon as he became a member of the Burgesses, he joined the party of resistance to England. He was by nature a bold and fearless thinker, and when a mere boy he had had engraved on a seal as his motto, “Resistance to tyrants is obedience to God,” a principle to which he held throughout his long and eventful life. Jefferson was present when the House of Burgesses passed the resolutions of 1769. He was one of those who signed the agreement not to import goods from England. He was also a member of the House of Burgesses when, in 1773, it established a Committee of Correspondence between Virginia and the other colonies. Some think that the resolutions for such a committee were drawn by Jefferson, though they were offered in the house by his kinsman, Dabney Carr (q.v.). Of this committee Jefferson was a member. He served again in the House of Burgesses in 1774, and was one of those who voted for the resolution appointing a day of fasting and prayer because of the oppressive measures which England had passed against the city of Boston. When the governor dissolved the assembly, Jefferson met with those discontented members who called for a general congress of the colonies and asked the freeholders of Virginia for a convention to consider the state of the colony. To this convention Jefferson was returned by the people of Albemarle. The convention of 1774 was the first extralegal assembly to meet in Virginia. Jefferson was unable to be present, having been taken ill on his way to Williamsburg. However, his influence was felt through a document called “The Summary View of the Rights of British America,” which was intended to be a series of instructions to the Virginia delegates to the First Continental Congress. The instrument marked him as a revolutionist, and as an advocate of independence from England, for in it he distinctly claimed that the colonies had a right to govern themselves without interference from the English Parliament. His views were too radical for the Virginia convention to give them its official stamp.

Jefferson was also elected a member of the convention of 1775, which met at Saint John’s Church, Richmond, and when Patrick Henry by his eloquence carried the colony into open rebellion against the mother country, Jefferson was appointed a member of the committee to devise a plan for organizing the militia of the colony. Shortly after this he became a member of the Second Continental Congress. When he entered that body he was 32 years of age, being one of the youngest three members. Here he was placed on such important committees as those which drafted a paper to explain the rebellious attitude of Massachusetts at Lexington and Concord, and to reply to Lord North’s “Conciliatory Policy.” On each committee he showed such a strong republican tendency that his suggestions were not accepted. The members of the Continental Congress of 1775 were not far-sighted enough to see that independence was the only course. Finally, in the spring of 1776, there came to the Virginia members of Congress instructions from the Virginia convention of 1776 that the united colonies should be declared free and independent States; and accordingly Richard Henry Lee, called the American Cicero, moved that a Declaration of Independence should be adopted. In accordance with the motion, a committee was appointed and the members were elected by ballot. Jefferson’s facility for writing was so well known to the Congress that he received the highest number of votes and was named as chairman of the committee over such men as John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman and Robert R. Livingston. To him as chairman fell the task of drafting that immortal document which stands in the history of the world as the most revolutionary political paper ever written. On 4 July 1776, the instrument, practically as offered by Jefferson, was unanimously adopted and to it were placed the signatures of all the members of Congress then present, except one. The principles set forth in that document mean a government by and for the people, and show that Jefferson was far ahead of his day; for it is only at the dawn of the 20th century that we are beginning to comprehend the great and universal truths that Jefferson made known to the world. (See Declaration Of Independence). Jefferson retired from Congress in 1776, and, on returning to his native State, entered the Virginia legislature with the hope of revising and modifying her laws so that they might accord with republican government. For three years he served in the House of Delegates. During this time he succeeded in breaking down the laws of primogeniture and entail, in practically disestablishing the English Church and in passing one of the best laws that the. world has ever seen for public education providing an ideal system from the primary school to the university. Through his influence the legislature appointed a committee to revise thoroughly the laws of Virginia. The committee was composed of Edmund Pendleton, George Wythe and Jefferson. After two years the revision, chiefly done by Jefferson, was submitted to the General Assembly, but was not adopted in toto. Finally, however, in 1785, while Jefferson was in France, his faithful friend and political follower, James Madison, secured the passage of nearly all of Jefferson’s work. It was at this time that the legislature approved the famous Statute for Religious Freedom, by which the complete separation of Church and State was accomplished, except the taking away of the glebe lands, a thing which was done in 1802. Jefferson wished even more radical changes in Virginia, such as the equalizing of representation on population instead of having two representatives from each county. He also desired that the suffrage should not be restricted to landowners, but that it should be extended to all men who might be subject to military duty. He likewise advocated more local self-government in the counties and towns of the State. He even went so far as_ to advocate the emancipation and the deportation of the slaves from Virginia. These measures were too radical for the Virginia Assembly, and were rejected. It is interesting to note, however, that all of them have since been accomplished save the deportation of the negroes.

Jefferson was governor of Virginia from June 1779 to June 1781. These were trying times; Virginia was invaded by British troops under Cornwallis, and Jefferson lacked money and resources with which to defend properly the State. His administration has often been criticized, some claiming that he was a mere doctrinaire and not a practical man; but close scrutiny shows that he did all that then lay in his power.

In 1783 Jefferson entered the Congress of the United States. To this body he proposed in 1784 a plan for the government of the Northwest Territory which Virginia so generously gave to the Union. One clause of this plan provided for the prohibition of slavery in that territory after 1800, and for this reason the plan was not adopted. In 1787, however, Congress enacted a bill for the government of the Northwest much like the original draft of Jefferson. From him Congress had the plan of our present decimal monetary system. In 1784 Jefferson was sent to France to join Benjamin Franklin and John Adams in negotiating commercial matters with foreign countries, and in 1785 he succeeded Franklin as our Minister Plenipotentiary to the French court. Through his efforts many unjust impositions on American commerce were removed by the French government.

In October 1789 he returned to America and the following year became Secretary of State in Washington’s Cabinet, in which position he opposed Hamilton (q.v.), who favored the exercise of extensive powers by Congress. Jefferson believed in a real federal relation between the States, and in a restricting of the congressional powers to purely constitutional authorizations. The final line of cleavage came when Congress passed a bill to establish a national bank. Hamilton submitted to Washington a paper asserting that such a step was legal, while Jefferson made a vigorous written protest showing that the bill was unconstitutional. Washington approved the measure, thus accepting Hamilton’s views as correct. The Bank Bill, along with similar congressional acts, caused the establishment of two distinct parties — the Federalist or Loose Construction party, headed by Hamilton, and the Anti-Federalist or Strict Construction party, with Jefferson as its leader. Jefferson’s followers were usually called the Democratic-Republicans. 

In December 1793 Jefferson resigned from the cabinet and returned to Monticello, where he_ remained for four years, studying farming. His estate at this time contained 10,647 acres of land, worked by 154 slaves, and stocked with 34 horses, 5 mules and 249 cattle. Among the negroes he had a sort of industrial (manual-training) school, and taught them to be cabinetmakers, bricklayers, masons and smiths.

From his retirement at Monticello, Jefferson was called to become Vice-President in 1797, a position which he held till 1801. During these four years he bitterly opposed the so-called monarchical tendencies of the Federal party as seen in the Alien and Sedition Acts (q.v.), and he boldly asserted the compact theory of State sovereignty in the Kentucky resolutions of 1799. The Kentucky resolutions and Virginia resolutions of 1798-99 (the latter framed by Madison after a copy of the Kentucky resolutions sent him by Jefferson), made the platform, so to speak, of the Democratic-Republican party which elected Jefferson as President in 1801.

From 4 March 1801 to 4 March 1809 Jefferson was President. He was the first President to be inaugurated in Washington City. He believed in rotation in office, and in pursuance^ of this idea removed a number of Federalists from their positions. His great act, however, was the purchase of the Louisiana Territory from France for the sum of $15,000,000. This vast territory was acquired for two reasons:

(1) In order that the United States might have control of the Mississippi River and the port of New Orleans; and (2) that the United States might not be hampered by European countries in the development of a republican form of government. As Secretary of State in Washington’s Cabinet, Jefferson had practically asserted what was afterward known as the Monroe Doctrine, when he claimed that the United States should see that no European countries, other than those already holding possessions, secure a foothold in America. In 1801 Jefferson viewed with alarm the transfer of the Louisiana Territory from Spain to France, for he feared that, with France added to Spain, England and Russia, in control of colonies in America, republican government would have a hard struggle. Jefferson was accused of inconsistency for having sanctioned the Louisiana Purchase (q.v.), for if he had applied the strict construction principle of the Constitution here as in such acts of Congress as the establishment of the national bank, this territory could not have been purchased, there being no provision in the Constitution allowing territorial expansion. But Jefferson’s political sagacity kept him from refusing this great opportunity, and his wish of expansion caused him to advocate earnestly the purchase of Florida from Spain. It was 13 years later before his desire was accomplished. The second administration of Jefferson was not so successful as the first. It opened with a war against the Tripolitan [Muslim] pirates who were plundering American commerce. The outcome of this war was to increase our influence among the nations of the world. The last years of the second term were marked with difficult complications arising out of the Napoleonic wars. Napoleon tried to prevent the United States from trading with England, and England retaliated by attempting to cut off all commercial relations between the United States and France. Many American vessels were seized by both England and France. Adding to this indignity, England claimed the right to search American vessels for English seamen, and an English war vessel actually fired on an American man-of-war, killing three of the crew and wounding 18. Jefferson tried to meet the restrictions on American commerce by the Non-Importation Bill and the Embargo Act. To enforce the measures all of the New England ships would have been shut up in American harbors. The New England merchants preferred .to run the risk of losing their ships to keeping them without traffic; therefore they began to abuse the President and his policy. The result was that Congress felt forced to repeal the Embargo Act. Jefferson always claimed that had the embargo been enforced the United States would have gained its rights without the second war with England in 1812.

On 4 March 1809, Jefferson retired from the White House, and spent the remaining 17 years of his life at Monticello. In these latter days he was known as the “Sage of Monticello,51 and to his home came people of prominence from all parts of the world to consult with him on great questions of politics and economics. Often his housekeeper had to provide beds for 50 guests. The demands which were made on his hospitality were so great that he died a bankrupt. During this period of his life he did all that he could to encourage better methods in agriculture, to reform the government of Virginia and to develop in it, a better system of education. The crowning event of his life was the establishment of the University of Virginia (q.v.) in 1819. He died on 4 July 1826, just 50 years from the day that has made him famous in all history, and by a singular coincidence his old rival and political antagonist, John- Adams, passed away on the same day, Jefferson asked that three things be inscribed on his tomb: ‘Author of the Declaration of Independence; of the Statute for Religious Liberty in Virginia, and Founder of the University of Virginia,’—three acts which have made him famous.

Jefferson stands in history for (1) Republican government and the sovereignty of the people; (2) Opposition to privileged orders of nobility and the entail system; (3) Universal education and local circulating libraries; (4) Separation of Church and State; [Misinterpreted by the Supreme Court & Liberal Democrats] (5) Freedom of thought and speech; (6) Local self-government ; (7) Economy in government and small public debt; (8) A-policy of peace; (9) Political equality and universal suffrage: (10) Strict construction of the Constitution and the sovereignty of the States; (11) Well-trained militia and small standing army; (12) Metallic money, either gold or silver, as a standard, and no paper legal tender; (13) Opposition to bounties and monopolies; (14) Emancipation and deportation of slaves; (15) Expansion of the United States to include Louisiana, Florida, Cuba and Canada; (16) Maintenance of Indian reservations; (17) Judiciary beyond the control of the legislative or executive branches of government; (18) Small navy; (19) Opposition to nepotism; (20) Rotation in office; (21) Opposition to all secession movements, North or South. This review will show that Jefferson probably gave to the world more broad principles of government than any other man. Whenever republican forms of government exist there the name of Jefferson will always be uttered with reverence and respect. Important monuments to Jefferson are as follows: by David d’Angers in the Capitol, Washington, a copy in the New York city-hall, and one at Angers, France; by Gait, at the University of Virginia; by Ezekiel, in Louisville, Ky.; by Hiram Powers, in Hall of Representatives, Washington; by Partridge, at Columbia University; and by Valentine, in Richmond, Va.

ADDRESS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF VIRGINIA AT THE END OF JEFFERSON’S PRESIDENCY

The ” Valedictory Address of the General Assembly of Virginia”, which was agreed to on the 7th of February, 1809, gives a good idea of the high estimation in which Jefferson was held by his party, and the great majority of his countrymen, when he retired from the Presidency. It is as follows:—

“Sir.—The General Assembly of your native State cannot close their session, without acknowledging your services in the office which you are just about to lay down, and bidding you a respectful and affectionate farewell.

“We have to thank you for the model of an administration conducted on the purest principles of republicanism; for pomp and state laid aside; patronage discarded; internal taxes abolished; a host of superfluous officers disbanded; the monarchic maxim that ‘ a national debt is a national blessing’, renounced, and more than thirty-three millions of our debt discharged; the native right to nearly one hundred millions of acres of our national domain extinguished; and, without the guilt or calamities of conquest, a vast and fertile region added to our country, far more extensive than her original possessions, bringing along with it the Mississippi and the port of Orleans, the trade of the West to the Pacific ocean, and in the intrinsic value of the land itself, a source of permanent and almost inexhaustible revenue. These are points in your administration which the historian will not fail to seize, to expand, and teach posterity to dwell upon with delight. Nor will he forget our peace with the civilized world, preserved through a season of uncommon difficulty and trial; the good will cultivated with the unfortunate aborigines of our country, and the civilization humanely extended among them; the lesson taught the inhabitants of the coast of Barbary, that we have the means of chastising their piratical encroachments, and awing them into justice; and that theme, on which, above all others, the historic genius will hang with rapture, the liberty of speech and of the press, preserved inviolate, without which genius and science are given to man in vain.

“In the principles on which you have administered the government, we see only the continuation and maturity of the same virtues and abilities, which drew upon you in your youth the resentment of Dunmore. From the first brilliant and happy moment of your resistance to foreign tyranny, until the present day, we mark with pleasure and with gratitude the same uniform, consistent character, the same warm and devoted attachment to liberty and the Republic, the same Roman love of your country, her rights, her peace, her honor, her prosperity.

“How blessed will be the retirement into which you are about to go! How deservedly blessed will it be! For you carry with you the richest of all rewards, the recollection of a life well spent in the service of your country, and proofs the most decisive, of the love, the gratitude, the veneration of your countrymen.

“That your retirement may be as happy as your life has been virtuous and useful; that our youth may see, in the blissful close of your days, an additional inducement to form themselves on your model, is the devout and earnest prayer of your fellow-citizens who compose the General Assembly of Virginia.”—Rayner’s Life of Jefferson, p. 494.

Reference(s): The Encyclopedia Americana: A Library of Universal Knowledge, Volume 16
The Jeffersonian Cyclopedia

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Thomas Jefferson: Encroaches on Liberty & Rights by Government

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From Thomas Jefferson to Noah Webster, Jr.

Philadelphia Dec. 4. 1790.

Sir

Your favor of Oct. 4, came to my hands on the 20th. of November. Application was made a day or two after to Mr. Dobson for the copies of your essays, which were recieved, and one of them lodged in the office. For that intended for myself be pleased to accept my thanks. I return you the order on Mr. Allen, that on Dobson having been made use of instead of it. I submit to your consideration whether it might not be adviseable to record a second time your right to the Grammatical institutes in order to bring the lodging of the copy in my office within the 6. months made a condition by the law? I have not at this moment an opportunity of turning to the law to see if that may be done: but I suppose it possible that the failure to fulfill the legal condition on the first record might excite objections against the validity of that.

In mentioning me in your essays, and canvassing my opinions, you have done what every man has a right to do, and it is for the good of society that that right should be freely exercised. No republic is more real than that of letters, and I am the last in principles, as I am the least in pretensions to any dictatorship in it. Had I other dispositions, the philosophical and dispassionate spirit with which you have expressed your own opinions in opposition to mine, would still have commanded my approbation. A desire of being set right in your opinion, which I respect too much not to entertain that desire, induces me to hazard to you the following observations. It had become an universal and almost uncontroverted position in the several states, that the purposes of society do not require a surrender of all our rights to our ordinary governors: that there are certain portions of right not necessary to enable them to carry on an effective government, and which experience has nevertheless proved they will be constantly incroaching on, if submitted to them. That there are also certain fences which experience has proved peculiarly efficacious against wrong, and rarely obstructive of right, which yet the governing powers have ever shewn a disposition to weaken and remove. Of the first kind for instance is freedom of religion: of the second, trial by jury, Habeas corpus laws, free presses. These were the settled opinions of all the states, of that of Virginia, of which I was writing, as well as of the others. The others had in consequence delineated these unceded portions of right, and these fences against wrong, which they meant to exempt from the power of their governors, in instruments called declarations of rights and constitutions: and as they did this by Conventions which they appointed for the express purpose of reserving these rights, and of delegating others to their ordinary legislative, executive and judiciary bodies, none of the reserved rights can be touched without resorting to the people to appoint another convention for the express purpose of permitting it. Where the constitutions then have been so formed by Conventions named for this express purpose they are fixed and unalterable but by a Convention or other body to be specially authorised. And they have been so formed by I believe all the states except Virginia. That state concurs in all these opinions, but has run into the wonderful error that her constitution, tho made by the ordinary legislature, cannot yet be altered by the ordinary legislature. I had therefore no occasion to prove to them the expediency of a constitution alterable only by a special convention. Accordingly I have not in my notes advocated that opinion, tho it was and is mine, as it was and is theirs. I take that position as admitted by them: and only proceed to adduce arguments to prove that they were mistaken in supposing their constitution could not be altered by the common legislature. Among other arguments I urge that the Convention which formed the constitution had been chosen merely for ordinary legislation, that they had no higher power than every subsequent legislature was to have, that all their acts are consequently repealable by subsequent legislatures, that their own practice at a subsequent session proved they were of this opinion themselves, that the opinion and practice of several subsequent legislatures had been the same, and so conclude ‘that their constitution is alterable by the common legislature.’ Yet these arguments urged to prove that their constitution is alterable, you cite as if urged to prove that it ought not to be alterable, and you combat them on that ground. An argument which is good to prove one thing, may become ridiculous when exhibited as intended to prove another thing. I will beg the favor of you to look over again the passage in my Notes, and am persuaded you will be sensible that you have misapprehended the object of my arguments, and therefore have combated them on a ground for which they were not intended. My only object in this is the rectification of your own opinion of me, which I repeat that I respect too much to neglect. I have certainly no view of entering into the contest whether it be expedient to delegate unlimited power to our ordinary governors? My opinion is against that expediency. But my occupations do not permit me to undertake to vindicate all my opinions, nor have they importance enough to merit it. It cannot however but weaken my confidence in them when I find them opposed to yours, there being no one who respects the latter more than Sir

Your most obedt. & most humble servt,

Th. Jefferson

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Resolutions of the freeholders of Albermarle County, Virginia July 26, 1774

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At a Meeting of the Freeholders of the County of Albemarle, assembled in their collective body, at the Court House of the said County, on the 26th of July, 1774:

Resolved, That the inhabitants of the Several States of British America are subject to the laws which they adopted at their first settlement, and to such others as have been since made by their respective Legislatures, duly constituted and appointed with their own consent. That no other Legislature whatever can rightly exercise authority over them; and that these privileges they hold as the common rights of mankind, confirmed by the political constitutions they have respectively assumed, and also by several charters of compact from the Crown.

Resolved, That these their natural and legal rights have in frequent instances been invaded by the Parliament of Great Britain and particularly that they were so by an act lately passed to take away the trade of the inhabitants of the town of Boston, in the province of Massachusetts Bay; that all such assumptions of unlawful power are dangerous to the right of the British empire in general, and should be considered as its common cause, and that we will ever be ready to join with our fellow-subjects in every part of the same, in executing all those rightful powers which God has given us, for the re-establishment and guaranteeing such their constitutional rights, when, where, and by whomsoever invaded.

It is the opinion of this meeting, that the most eligible means of affecting these purposes, will be to put an immediate stop to all imports from Great Britain, (cotton, osnabrigs, striped duffil, medicines, gunpowder, lead, books and printed papers, the necessary tolls and implements for the handicraft arts and manufactures excepted, for a limited term) and to all exports thereto, after the first day of October, which shall be in the year of our Lord, 1775; and immediately to discontinue all commercial intercourse with every part of the British Empire which shall not in like manner break off their commerce with Great Britain.

It is the opinion of this meeting, that we immediately cease to import all commodities from every part of the world, which are subjected by the British Parliament to the payment of duties in America.

It is the opinion of this meeting, that these measures should be pursued until a repeal be obtained of the Act for blocking up the harbour of Boston; of the Acts prohibiting or restraining internal manufactures in America; of the Acts imposing on any commodities duties to be paid in America; and of the Act laying restrictions on the American trade; and that on such repeal it will be reasonable to grant to our brethren of Great Britain such privileges in commerce as may amply compensate their fraternal assistance, past and future.

Resolved, However, that this meeting do submit these their opinions to the Convention of Deputies from the several counties of this Colony, and appointed to be held at Williamsburg on the first day of August next, and also to the General Congress of Deputies from the several American States, when and wheresoever held; and that they will concur in these or any other measures which such convention or such Congress shall adopt as most expedient for the American good; and we do appoint Thomas Jefferson and John Walker our Deputies to act for this county at the said Convention, and instruct them to conform themselves to these our Resolutions and Opinions.

Source: Resolutions Of Albemarle County. Writings of Jefferson; Paul L. Ford Ed., i, 419. (July 26, 1774.) & The Works of Thomas Jefferson Volume 2; By Thomas Jefferson.

 

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Prophetic Letter from Thomas Jefferson to James Madison; Paris Dec 20, 1787

Thomas Jefferson concerning Separation of Powers

FROM THOMAS JEFFERSON TO JAMES MADISON.

Paris, December 20, 1787.

Dear Sir,

My last to you was of October the 8th, by the Count de Moustier. Yours of July the 18th, September the 6th, and October the 25th, were successively received, yesterday, the day before, and three or four days before that. I have only had time to read the letters; the printed papers communicated with them, however interesting, being obliged to lie over till I finish my despatches for the packet, which despatches must go from hence the day after to-morrow. I have much to thank you for, first and most for the cyphered paragraph respecting myself. These little informations are very material towards forming my own decisions. I would be glad even to know when any individual member thinks I have gone wrong in any instance. If I know myself it would not excite ill blood in me, while it would assist to guide my conduct, perhaps, to justify it, and to keep me to my duty alert. I must thank you, too, for the information in Thomas Burk’s case; though you will have found, by a subsequent letter, that I have asked of you a further investigation of that matter. It is to gratify the lady who is at the head of the convent wherein my daughters are, and who, by her attachment and attention to them, lays me under great obligations. I shall hope, therefore, still to receive from you the result of all the further inquiries my second letter had asked. The parcel of rice, which you informed me had miscarried, accompanied my letter to the delegates of South Carolina. Mr. Bourgoin was to be the bearer of both, and both were delivered together into the hands of his relation here, who introduced him to me, and who, at a subsequent moment, undertook to convey them to Mr. Bourgoin. This person was an engraver, particularly recommended to Dr. Franklin and Mr. Hopkinson. Perhaps he may have mislaid the little parcel of rice among his baggage. I am much pleased that the sale of western lands is so successful. I hope they will absorb all the certificates of our domestic debt speedily, in the first place, and that then, offered for cash, they will do the same by our foreign ones.

The season admitting of operations in the Cabinet, and those being in a great measure secret, I have little to fill a letter. I will therefore make up the deficiency by adding a few words on the constitution proposed by our Convention.

I like much the general idea of framing a Government which would go on of itself peaceably, without needing continual recurrence to the State Legislatures. I like the organization of the Government into legislative, judiciary, and executive. I like the power given the Legislature to levy taxes, and for that reason solely, I approve of the greater house being chosen by the people directly. For, though I think a house so chosen, will be very far inferior to the present Congress, will be very illy qualified to legislate for the Union, for foreign nations, &c, yet this evil does not weigh against the good of preserving inviolate the fundamental principle that the people are not to be taxed but by representatives chosen immediately by themselves. I am captivated by the compromise of the opposite claims of the great and little States, of the latter to equal, and the former to proportional influence. I am much pleased, too, with the substitution of the method of voting by persons instead of that of voting by States; and I like the negative given to the Executive, conjointly with a third of either House, though I should have liked it better had the judiciary been associated for that purpose, or invested separately with a similar power. There are other good things of less moment.

I will now tell you what I do not like: First, the omission of a bill of rights, providing clearly and without the aid of sophism for freedom of religion, freedom of the press, protection against standing armies, restriction against monopolies, the eternal and unremitting force of the habeas corpus laws, and trials by jury in all matters of fact triable by the laws of the land, and not by the laws of nations. To say, as Mr. Wilson does, that a bill of rights was not necessary, because all is reserved in the case of the General Government which is not given, while in the particular ones all is given which is not reserved, might do for the audience to which it was addressed, but it is surely a gratis dictum, the reverse of which might just as well be said; and it is opposed by strong inferences from the body of the instrument, as well as from the omission of the clause of our present Confederation, which had made the reservation in express terms. It was hard to conclude, because there has been a want of uniformity among the States as to the cases triable by jury, because some have been so incautious as to dispense with this mode of trial in certain cases, therefore the more prudent States shall be reduced to the same level of calamity. It would have been much more just and wise to have concluded by the other way, that as most of the States had preserved with jealousy this sacred palladium of liberty, those which had wandered should be brought back to it; and to have established general right rather than general wrong. For I consider all the ill as established which may be established. I have a right to nothing which another has a right to take away; and Congress will have a right to take away trials by jury in all civil cases. Let me add, that a bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every Government on earth, general or particular, and which no just Government should refuse, or rest on inference. Roman Emperors, the Popes while they were of any importance, the German Emperors till they became hereditary in practice, the Kings of Poland, the Deys of the Ottoman dependencies. It may be said that if elections are to be attended with these disorders, the less frequently they are repeated the better. But experience says, that to free them from disorder they must be rendered less interesting by a necessity of change. No foreign Power, nor domestic party, will waste their blood and money to elect a person who must go out at the end of a short period. The power of removing every fourth year by the vote of the people is a power which they will not exercise, and if they were disposed to exercise it, they would not be permitted. The King of Poland is removable every day by the Diet, but they never remove him. Nor would Russia, the Emperor, Sic, permit them to do it. Smaller objections are, the appeals on matters of fact as well as law, and the binding all persons, legislative, executive, and judiciary, by oath to maintain that Constitution. I do not pretend to decide what would be the best method of procuring the establishment of the manifold good things in this Constitution, and of getting rid of the bad. Whether by adopting it in hopes of future amendments; or, after it shall have been only weighed and canvassed by the people, after seeing the parts they generally dislike and those they generally approve, to say to them: “We see now ‘what you wish. You are willing to give to your Federal Government such and such powers, but you wish at the same time to have ‘such and such fundamental rights secured to you, and certain sources ‘of convulsion taken away. Be it so. Send together your deputies ‘again. Let them establish your fundamental rights by a sacrosanct ‘declaration, and let them pass the parts of the Constitution you ‘have approved. These will give powers to your Federal Government sufficient for your happiness.”

The second feature I dislike, and strongly dislike, is the abandonment, in every instance, of the principle of rotation in office, and most particularly in the case of the President. Reason and experience tell us that the first magistrate will always be reelected, if he may be reelected. He is then an officer for life. This once observed, it becomes of so much consequence to certain nations to have a friend or a foe at the head of our affairs, that they will interfere with money and with arms. A Galloman or an Angloman will be supported by the nation he befriends. If once elected, and at a second or third election out-voted by one or two votes, he will pretend false votes, foul play, hold possession of the reins of Government, be supported by the States voting for him, especially if they be the central ones, lying in a compact body themselves, and separating their opponents; and they will be aided by one nation in Europe, while the majority are aided by another. The election of a President of America, some years hence, will be much more interesting to certain nations of Europe than ever the election of a King of Poland was. Reflect on all the instances in history, ancient and modern, of the elective Monarchies, and say if they do not give foundation for my fears; the Roman Emperors, the Popes while they were of any importance, the German Emperors till they became hereditary in practice, the Kings of Poland, the Deys of the Ottoman dependencies. It may be said that if elections are to be attended with these disorders, the less frequently they are repeated the better. But experience says, that to free them from disorder, they must be rendered less interesting by a necessity of change. No foreign power, nor domestic party, will waste their blood and money to elect a person who must go out at the end of a short period. The power of removing every fourth year by the vote of the people, is a power which they will not exercise, and if the were disposed to exercise it, they would not be permitted. The king of Poland is removeable every day by the Diet, but they never remove him. Nor would Russia, the Emperor, &0. permit them to do it. Smaller objections are, the appeals on matters of fact as well as law; and the binding all persons, legislative, executive, and judiciary, by oath to maintain the constitution. I. do not pretend to decide what would be the best method of procuring the establishment of the manifold good things in this constitution, and of getting rid of the bad. Whether by adopting it in hopes of future amendments; or after it shall have been only weighed and canvassed by the people, after seeing the parts they generally dislike, and those . they generally approve, to say to them, ‘We see now what you wish. You are willing to give to your federal government such and such powers, but you wish, at the same time, to have such and such fundamental rights secured to you, and certain sources of convulsion taken away. Be it so. Send together your deputies again. Let them establish your fundamental rights by a sacro-sancl declaration, and let them pass the parts of the constitution you have approved. These will give powers to your federal government sufficient for your happiness.’

This is what might be said, and would probably produce a speedy, more perfect, and more permanent form of Government. At all events I hope you will not be discouraged from making other trials, if the present one should fail. We are never permitted to despair of the Commonwealth. I have thus told you freely which I like and what I dislike, merely as a matter of curiosity; for I know it is not in my power to offer matter of information to your judgment, which has been formed after hearing and weighing everything which the wisdom of man could offer on these subjects. I own I am not a friend to a very energetic Government. It is always oppressive. It places the governors, indeed, more at ease, at the expense of the people. The late rebellion in Massachusetts has given more alarm than I think it should have done. Calculate that one rebellion in thirteen States in the course of eleven years is but one for each State in a century and a half. No country should be as long without one. Nor will any degree of power in the hands of Government prevent insurrection. In England, where the hand of power is heavier than with us, there are seldom half a dozen years without an insurrection. In France, where it is still heavier, but less despotic, as Montesquieu supposes, than in some other countries, and where there are always two or three hundred thousand men ready to crush insurrections, there have been three in the course of the three years I have been here, in every one of which greater numbers were engaged than in Massachusetts, and a great deal more blood spilt. In Turkey, where the sole nod of the despot is death, insurrections are the events of every day. Compare again the ferocious depredations of their insurgents with the order, the moderation, and the almost self-extinguishment of ours; and say, finally, whether peace is best preserved by giving energy to the Government or information to the people. This last is the most certain and the most legitimate engine of government. Educate and inform the whole mass of the people. Enable them to see that it is their interest to preserve peace and order, and they will preserve them. And it requires no very high degree of education to convince them of this. They are the only sure reliance for the preservation of our liberty. After all, it is my principle that the will of the majority should prevail. If they approve the proposed Constitution in all its parts, I shall concur in it cheerfully, in hopes they will amend it whenever they shall find it works wrong. This reliance cannot deceive us as long as we remain virtuous; and I think we shall be so as long as agriculture is our principal object, which will be the case while there remain vacant lands in any part of America. When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become corrupt as in Europe, and go to eating one another as they do there. I have tired you by this time with disquisitions which you have already heard repeated by others, a thousand and a thousand times, and therefore shall only add assurances of the esteem and attachment with which I have the honor to be, &c,

TH: JEFFERSON.

P. S. The instability of our laws is really an immense evil. I think it would be well to provide in our Constitution that there shall always be a twelvemonth between the engrossing a bill and passing it—that it should then be offered to its passage without changing a word; and that if circumstances should be thought to require a speedier passage, it should take two thirds of both Houses instead of a bare majority.

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THOMAS JEFFERSON: VIRGINIA BILL FOR ESTABLISHING RELIGIOUS FREEDOM

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Section I. Well aware that the opinions and belief of men depend not on their own will, but follow involuntarily the evidence proposed to their minds; that Almighty God hath created the mind free, and manifested His supreme will that free it shall remain by making it altogether insusceptible of restraint: that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy Author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do, but to exalt it by its influence on reason alone: that the impious presumption of legislature and ruler, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men. have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time: That to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness; and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards, which, proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labors for the instruction of mankind, that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; and therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to office of trust or emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injudiciously of those privileges and advantages to which, in common with his fellow citizens, he has a natural right; that it tends also to corrupt the principles of that very religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honors and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminals who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous fallacy which at once destroys all religious liberty, because, he being of course judge of that tendency, will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself; that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict unless, by human interposition, disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate; errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:

Sect, II. We, the General Assembly of Virginia, do enact that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, or shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.

Sect. III. And though we well know that this Assembly, elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding Assemblies, constituted with powers equal to our own, and that, therefore, to declare this act to be irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter parsed to repeal the present or to narrow its operations, such act will be an infringement of natural right.—Writings of Jefferson: Paul Ford Ed., ii, 237. (1786.)

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The Problems Associated with a Paternal Government

Does the following excerpt remind you of the way many in the U.S. government (Democrats mainly, but certain so-called Republicans) see the American citizenry today? i.e. In need of a Paternal Government 

young-disraeli

Excerpt from “Kant’s Principles of Politics” by Immanuel Kant

The Liberty of every Member of the State As A Man, is the first Principle in the constitution of a rational Commonwealth. I would express this Principle in the following form:—’ No one has a right to compel me to be happy in the peculiar way in which he may think of the well-being of other men; but everyone is entitled to seek his own happiness in the way that seems to him best, if it does not infringe the liberty of others in striving after a similar end for themselves when their Liberty is capable of consisting with the Right of Liberty in all others according to possible universal laws.’—A Government founded upon the principle of Benevolence towards the people—after the analogy of a father to his children, and therefore called a paternal Government—would be one in which the [Citizens] would be regarded as children or minors unable to distinguish what-is beneficial or injurious to them. These [citizens] would be thus compelled to act in a merely passive way; and they would be trained to expect solely from the Judgment of the [Government] and just as [it] might will it, merely out of [its] goodness, all that ought to make them happy. Such a Government would be the greatest conceivable Despotism; for it would present a Constitution that would abolish all Liberty in the [Citizenry] and leave them no Rights. It is not a paternal Government, but only a patriotic Government that is adapted for men who are capable of Rights, and at the same time fitted to give scope to the good-will of the [government].

By ‘patriotic’ is meant that condition of mind in which everyone in the State—the Head of it not excepted—regards the Commonwealth as the maternal bosom, and the country as the paternal soil out of and on which he himself has sprung into being, and which he also must leave to others as a dear inheritance. Thus, and thus only, can he hold himself entitled to protect the Rights of his [countrymen] by laws of the common will, but not to subject it to an unconditional purpose of his own at pleasure.—This Right of Liberty thus belongs to him as a man, while he is a Member of the Commonwealth; or, in point of fact, so far as he is a being capable of rights generally.

source: Kant’s Principles of Politics and Perpetual Peace
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Daniel Webster: The Dignity and Importance of History; A Prophetic Warning

Daniel Webster: The Dignity and Importance of History; February 23, 1852

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if we and our posterity shall be true to the Christian religion, if we and they shall live always in the fear of God, and shall respect His commandments, if we and they shall maintain just moral sentiments and such conscientious convictions of duty as shall control the heart and life, we may have the highest hopes of the future fortunes of our country; and if we maintain those institutions of government and that political union, exceeding all praise as much as it exceeds all former examples of political associations, we may be sure of one thing… It will have no decline and fall. It will go on prospering and to prosper. But if we and our posterity reject religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution which holds us together, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity. Should that catastrophe happen, let it have no history! Let the horrible narrative never be written! Let its fate be like that of the lost books of Livy, which no human eye shall ever read, or the missing Pleiad, of which no man can ever know more than that it is lost, and lost forever!”

NOTE: This is long, I urge you to read the complete speech, however if you do not wish to, I would encourage you to scroll down to In the history of the United States there are three epochs.” and read from there.

An address delivered before the New York Historical Society. Printed from the pamphlet report: New York: Press of the Historical Society, MDCCCLII. It contains the following Dedication:

“I dedicate this address to Hon. Luther Bradish, President of the New York Historical Society, as a proof of private friendship and public regard.”

The object of your association, gentlemen, like that of others of similar character, is highly important Historical societies are auxiliary to historical compositions. They collect the materials from which the great narrative of events is, in due time, to be framed. The transactions of public bodies, local histories, memoirs of all kinds, statistics, laws, ordinances, public debates and discussions, works of periodical literature, and the public journals, whether of political events, of commerce, literature, or the arts, all find their places in the collections of historical societies. But these collections are not history; they are only elements of history. History is a higher name, and imports literary productions of the first order.

It is presumptuous in me, whose labors and studies have been so long devoted to other objects, to speak in the presence of those whom I see before me, of the dignity and importance of history, in its just sense; and yet I find pleasure in breaking in upon the course of daily pursuits, and indulging for a time in reflections upon topics of literature, and in the remembrance of the great examples of historic art.

Well written history must always be the result of genius and taste, as well as of research and study. It stands next to epic poetry, among the productions of the human mind. If it requires less of invention than that, it is not behind it in dignity and importance. The province of the epic is the poetical narrative of real or supposed events, and the representation of real, or at least natural, characters; and history, in its noblest examples, is an account of occurrences in which great events are commemorated, and distinguished men appear as agents and actors. Epic poetry and the drama are but narratives, the former partly, and the latter wholly, in the form of dialogue; but their characters and personages are usually, in part at least, the creations of the imagination.

Severe history sometimes assumes the dialogue, or dramatic form, and, without departing from truth, is embellished by supposed colloquies or speeches, as in the productions of that great master, Titus Livius, or that greater master still, Thucydides.

The drawing of characters, consistent with general truth and fidelity, is no violation of historical accuracy; it is only an illustration or an ornament.

When Livy ascribes an appropriate speech to one of his historical personages, it is only as if he had portrayed the same character in language professedly his own. Lord Clarendon’s presentation, in his own words, of the character of Lord Falkland, one of the highest and most successful efforts of personal description, is hardly different from what it would have been, if he had put into the mouth of Lord Falkland a speech exhibiting the same qualities of the mind and the heart, the same opinions, and the same attachments. Homer describes the actions of personages which, if not real, are so imagined as to be conformable to the general characteristics of men in the heroic ages. If his relation be not historically true, it is such, nevertheless, as, making due allowance for poetical embellishment, might have been true. And in Milton’s great epic, which is almost entirely made up of narratives and speeches, there is nothing repugnant to the general conception which we form of the characters of those whose sentiments and conduct he portrays.

But history, while it illustrates and adorns, confines itself to facts, and to the relation of actual events. It is not far from truth to say, that well written and classic history is the epic of real life. It places the actions of men in an attractive and interesting light. Rejecting what is improper and superfluous, it fills its picture with real, just, and well drawn images.

The dignity of history consists in reciting events with truth and accuracy, and in presenting human agents and their actions in an interesting and instructive form. The first element in history, therefore, is truthfulness; and this truthfulness must be displayed in a concrete form. Classical history is not a memoir. It is not a crude collection of acts, occurrences, and dates. It adopts nothing that is not true; but it does not embrace all minor truths and all minor transactions. It is a composition, a production, which has unity of design, like a work of statuary or of painting, and keeps constantly in view one great end or result. Its parts, therefore, are to be properly adjusted and well proportioned. The historian is an artist, as true to fact as other artists are to nature, and, though he may sometimes embellish, he never misrepresents; he may occasionally, perhaps, color too highly, but the truth is still visible through the lights and shades. This unity of design seems essential to all great productions. With all the variety of the Iliad, Homer had the wrath of Achilles, and its consequences, always before him; when he sang of the exploits of other heroes, they were silently subordinated to those of the son of Thetis. Still more remarkable is the unity in variety of the Odyssey, the character of which is much more complicated; but all the parts are artfully adapted to each other, and they have a common centre of interest and action, the great end being the restoration of Ulysses to his native Ithaca. Virgil, in the Aeneid, sang of nothing but the man, and his deeds, who brought the Trojan gods to Italy, and laid the foundation of the walls of imperial Rome; and Milton of nothing, but

“Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world and all our woes.”

And the best historical productions of ancient and of modern times have been written with equal fidelity to one leading thought or purpose.

It has been said by Lord Bolingbroke, that “History is Philosophy teaching by example;” and, before Bolingbroke,
Shakspeare has said:

“There is a history in all men’s lives,
Figuring the nature of the times deceas’d;
The which observ’d, a man may prophesy,
With a near aim, of the main chance of things
As yet not come to life, which in their seeds,
And weak beginnings, lie entreasured.
Such things become the hatch and brood of time;
And, by the necessary form of this,
King Richard might create a perfect guess,
That great Northumberland, then false to him,
Would, of that seed, grow to a greater falseness,
Which should not find a ground to root upon,
Unless on you.
Are these things, then, necessities?
Then let us meet them like necessities.”

And a wiser man than either Bolingbroke or Shakspeare, has declared:

“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”

These sayings are all just, and they proceed upon the idea that the essential characteristics of human nature are the same everywhere, and in all ages.

This, doubtless, is true; and so far as history presents the general qualities and propensities of human nature, it does teach by example. Bolingbroke adds, with remarkable power of expression, that ” the school of example is the world: and the masters of this school are history and experience.”

But the character of man varies so much, from age to age, both in his individual and collective capacity; there comes such a change of circumstances, so many new objects of desire and aversion, and so many new and powerful motives spring up in his mind, that the conduct of men, in one age, or under one state of circumstances, is no sure and precise indication of what will be their conduct, when times and circumstances alter; so that the example of the past, before it can become a useful instructor to the present, must be reduced to elementary principles in human nature, freed from the influence of conditions which were temporary and have changed, and applied to the same principles, under new relations, with a different degree of knowledge, and the impulses arising from the altered state of things. A savage has the passions of ambition, revenge, love, and glory; and ambition and love, revenge and the hope of renown, are also elements in the character of civilized life; but the development of these passions, in a state of barbarism, hardly instructs us as to the manner in which they will exhibit themselves in a cultivated period of society.

And so it is of religious sentiment and feeling. I believe man is everywhere, more or less, a religious being; that is to say, in all countries, and at all times, he feels a tie which connects him with an Invisible Power.

It is true indeed, and it is a remarkable fact in the history of mankind, that in the very lowest stage of human existence, and in the opposite extreme of high civilization, surrounded with everything luxurious in life, and with all the means of human knowledge, the idea of an unseen and supreme Governor of the Universe is most likely to be equally doubted or disregarded.

The lowest stage of human culture, that of mere savage existence, and the intellectual and refined atheism, exhibited in our own day, seem to be strangely coincident in this respect; though it is from opposite causes and influences that men, in these so different conditions, are led to doubt or deny the existence of a Supreme Power. But both these are exceptions to the general current of human thought and to the general conviction of our nature.

Man is naturally religious; but then his religion takes its character from his condition, his degree of knowledge, and his association; and thus it is true that the religious feeling, which operates in one state of society, and under one degree of light and knowledge, is not a safe example to prove its probable influence under circumstances essentially different. So that, when we regard history as our instructor, in the development of the perceptions and character of men, and in the motives which actuate them, there comes a concomitant rush of altered circumstances, which are all to be considered and regarded.

History, therefore, is an example which may teach us the general principles of human nature, but does not instruct us greatly in its various possible developments.

What Dr. Johnson said, in his comparison of Dryden and Pope, is not inapplicable to this topic, “Dryden,” said he, “knew more of man in his general nature, and Pope in his local manners.” Dryden’s sentiments, therefore, are the exemplar of human nature in general, Pope’s of human nature as modified in particular relations and circumstances; and what is true of individual man, in this respect, is true, also, of society and government.

The love of liberty, for instance, is a passion or sentiment which existed in intense force in the Grecian Republics, and in the better ages of Rome. It exists now, chiefly, and first of all, on that portion of the Western Continent in which we live. Here, it burns with heat and with splendor beyond all Grecian and all Roman example. It is not a light in the temple of Minerva, it is not the vestal flame of Rome; it is the light of the sun, it is the illumination of all the constellations. Earth, air, and ocean, and all the heavens above us, are filled with its glorious shining; and, although the passion and the sentiment are the same, yet he who would reason from Grecian liberty, or from Roman freedom, to our intelligent American liberty, would be holding a farthing candle to the orb of day.

The magnificent funeral oration of Pericles, over those who fell in the Peloponnesian War, is one of the grandest productions of antiquity. It contains sentiments and excites emotions congenial to the minds of all lovers of liberty, in all regions and at all times. It exhibits a strong and ardent attachment to country, which true patriots always feel; an undaunted courage in its defence, and willingness to pledge and hazard all, for the maintenance of liberty. I cannot deny myself the pleasure of quoting a few passages from that celebrated address, in a translation which I think much closer to the original Greek than that of Smith:

Mr. Webster here quoted at some length from the oration referred to, and then proceeded as follows:

How terse, how Doric, how well considered is the style of this unsurpassed oration! Gentlemen, does not every page, paragraph, and sentence of what I have read, go home to all our hearts, carrying a most gratified consciousness of its resemblance to what is near and dear to us in our own native land? Is it Athens, or America? Is Athens or America the theme of these immortal strains? Was Pericles speaking of his own country, as he saw it or knew it; or was he gazing upon a bright vision, then two thousand years before him, which we see in reality, as he saw it in prospect?

But the contests of Sparta  and Athens, what were they in lasting importance, and in their bearing on the destinies of the world, in comparison with that ever memorable struggle which separated the American colonies from the dominion of Europe? How different the result which betided Athens, from that which crowned the glorious efforts of our ancestors; and, therefore, this renowned oration of Pericles, what is it in comparison with an effort of historical eloquence which should justly set forth the merits of the heroes and the martyrs of the American Revolution?

The liberty of Athens, and of the other Grecian Republics, being founded in pure democracy, without any principle of representation, was fitted only for small states. The exercise of popular power in a purely democratic form cannot be spread over countries of large extent; because, in such countries, all cannot assemble in the same place to vote directly upon laws and ordinances, and other public questions. But the principle of representation is expansive; it may be enlarged, if not infinitely, yet indefinitely, to meet new occasions, and embrace new regions. While, therefore, the love of liberty was the same, and its general principle the same, in the Grecian Republics as with us, yet not only were the forms essentially different, but that also was wanting which we have been taught to consider as indispensable to its security: that is, a fixed, settled, definite, fundamental law, or constitution, imposing limitations and restraints equally on governors and governed. We may, therefore, inhale all the fulness and freshness of the Grecian spirit, but we necessarily give its development a different form, and subject it to new modifications.

But history is not only philosophy, teaching by example; its true purpose is, also, to illustrate the general progress of society in knowledge and the arts, and the changes of manners and pursuits of men.

There is an imperfection, both in ancient and modern histories, and those of the best masters, in this respect. While they recite public transactions, they omit, in a great degree, what belongs to the civil, social, and domestic progress of men and nations. There is not, so far as I know, a good civil history of Rome, nor is there an account of the manners and habits of social and domestic life, such as may inform us of the progress of her citizens, from the foundation of the city to the time of Livy and Sallust, in individual exhibitions of character.

We know, indeed, something of the private pursuits and private vices of the Roman people at the commencement of the Empire, but we obtain our knowledge of these chiefly from the severe and indignant rebukes of Sallust, and the inimitable satires of Juvenal. Wars, foreign and domestic, the achievements of arms, and national alliances fill up the recorded greatness of the Roman Empire.

It is very remarkable that, in this respect, Roman literature is far more deficient than that of Greece. Aristophanes, and other Grecian comic writers, have scenes richly filled with the delineation of the lives and manners of their own people. But the Roman imitators of the Grecian stage gave themselves up to the reproduction of foreign characters on their own stage, and presented in their dramas Grecian manners also, instead of Roman manners. How much wiser was Shakspeare, who enchained the attention of his audiences, and still enchains the attention of the whole Teutonic race, by the presentation of English manners and English history?

Falstaff, Justice Shallow, and Dogberry are not shrubs of foreign growth transplanted into the pages of Shakspeare, but genuine productions of the soil, the creations of his own homebred fancy.

Mr. Banks has written a civil history of Rome, but it seems not to have answered the great end which it proposed.

The labors of Niebuhr, Arnold, and Merivale have accomplished much towards furnishing the materials of such history, and Becker, in his Gallus, has drawn a picture, not uninteresting, of the private life of the Romans at the commencement of the Empire.

I know nothing of the fact, but I once had an intimation, that one of the most distinguished writers of our time and of our country has had his thoughts turned to this subject for several years. If this be so, and the work, said to be in contemplation, be perfected, it will be true, as I have no doubt, that the civil history of the great republic of antiquity will have been written, not only with thorough research, but also with elegance of style and chaste, classical illustration, by a citizen of the great republic of modern times. I trust that when this work shall appear, if it shall appear, we shall not only Bee the Roman consul and the Roman general, the Comitia and the Forum, but that we shall also see Roman hearths and altars, the Roman matron at the head of her household, Roman children in their schools of instruction, and the whole of Roman life fully presented to our view, so far as the materials, now existing in separate and special works, afford the means.

It is in our day only that the history and progress of the civil and social institutions and manners of England have become the subjects of particular attention.

Sharon Turner, Lingard, and, more than all, Mr. Hallam, have laid this age, and all following ages, under the heaviest obligations by their labors in this field of literary composition; nor would I separate from them the writings of a most learned and eloquent person, whose work on English history is now in progress, nor the author of the ” Pictorial History of England.” But there is still wanting a full, thorough, and domestic, social account of our English ancestors, that is, a history which shall trace the progress of social life in the intercourse of man with man; the advance of arts, the various changes in the habits and occupations of individuals; and those improvements in domestic life which have attended the condition and meliorated the circumstances of men in the lapse of ages. We still have not the means of learning, to any great extent, how our English ancestors, at their homes, and in their houses, were fed, and lodged, and clothed, and what were their daily employments. We want a history of firesides; we want to know when kings and queens exchanged beds of straw for beds of down, and ceased to breakfast on beef and beer. We wish to see more, and to know more, of the changes which took place, from age to age, in the homes of England, from the castle and the palace, down to the humblest cottage. Mr. Henry’s book, so far as it goes, is not without its utility, but it stops too soon, and, even in regard to the period which it embraces, it is not sufficiently full and satisfactory in its particulars.

The feudal ages were military and agricultural, but the splendor of arms, in the history of the times, monopolized the genius of writers; and perhaps materials are not now abundant for forming a knowledge of the essential industry of the country. He would be a public benefactor who should instruct us in the modes of cultivation and tillage prevailing in England, from the Conquest down, and in the advancement of manufactures, from their inception in the time of Henry IV., to the period of their considerable development, two centuries afterwards.

There are two sources of information on these subjects, which have never yet been fully explored, and which, nevertheless, are overflowing fountains of knowledge. I mean the statutes and the proceedings of the courts of law. At an early period of life, I recurred, with some degree of attention, to both these sources of information; not so much for professional purposes, as for the elucidation of the progress of society. I acquainted myself with the object and purposes and substance of every published statute in British legislation. These showed me what the legislature of the country was concerned in, from age to age, and from year to year. And I learned from the reports of controversies, in the courts of law, what were the pursuits and occupations of individuals, and what the objects which most earnestly engaged attention. I hardly know anything which more repays research, than studies of this kind. We learn from them what pursuits occupied men during the feudal ages. We see the efforts of society to throw off the chains of this feudal dominion. We see too, in a most interesting manner, the ingenious devices resorted to, to break the thraldom of personal slavery. We see the beginning of manufacturing interests, and at length bursts upon us the full splendor of the commercial age.

Littleton, Coke, Plowden, what are they? How their learning fades away and becomes obsolete, when Holt and Somers and Mansfield arise, catching themselves, and infusing all around them, the influences and the knowledge which commerce had shed upon the world!

Our great teachers and examples in the historical art are, doubtless, the eminent historians of the Greek and Roman ages. In their several ways, they are the masters to whom all succeeding times have looked for instruction and improvement. They are the models which have stood the test of time, and, like the glorious creations in marble of Grecian genius, have been always admired and never surpassed.

We have our favorites in literature, as well as in other things, and I confess that, among the Grecian writers, my estimate of Herodotus is great. His evident truthfulness, his singular simplicity of style, and his constant respect and veneration for sacred and divine things, win my regard. It is true that he sometimes appears credulous, which caused Aristotle to say of him, that he was a story-teller. But, in respect to this, two things are to be remarked; the one is, that he never avers as a fact that which rests on the accounts of others; the other, that all subsequent travels and discoveries have tended to confirm his fidelity. From his great qualities as a writer, as well as from the age in which he lived, he is justly denominated the “Father of History.” Herodotus was a conscientious narrator of what he saw and heard. In his manner there is much of the old epic style; indeed, his work may be considered as the connecting link between the epic legend and political history; truthful, on the one hand, since it was a genuine history; but, on the other, conceived and executed in the spirit of poetry, and not the profounder spirit of political philosophy. It breathes a reverential submission to the divine will, and recognizes distinctly the governing hand of Providence in the affairs of men. But, upon the whole, I am compelled to regard Thucydides as the greater writer.

Thucydides was equally truthful, but more conversant with the motives and character of men in their political relations. He took infinite pains to make himself thoroughly acquainted with the transactions that occurred in his own day, and which became the subject of his own narrative.

It is said, even, that persons were employed by him to obtain information from both the belligerent powers, for his use, while writing the history of the Peloponnesian War.

He was one of the most eminent citizens of the Athenian Republic, educated under the institutions of Solon, and trained in all the political wisdom which these institutions had developed in the two centuries since their establishment. A more profound intellect never applied itself to historical investigation; a more clear-sighted and impartial judge of human conduct never dealt with the fortunes and acts of political communities.

The work of Herodotus is graphic, fluent, dramatic, and ethical in the highest degree; but it is not the work of the citizen of a free republic, personally experienced in the conduct of its affairs. The history of the Peloponnesian War, on the other hand, could only have been produced by a man of large experience, and who added to vast genius deep personal insight into the workings of various public institutions. As Thucydides himself says, his history was written not for the entertainment of the moment, but to be “a possession forever.”

There can, it seems to me, be no reasonable doubt that the first works by which man expressed his thoughts and feelings in an orderly composition, were essentially poetical. In the earliest writings of which we know anything with distinctness, we have an union or mingling of poetry and fact, embodying the traditions and history of the people among which they arose.

Like other intellectual culture, this form of history appeared first in the East, and, from the days of Moses and Joshua down to our own times, it has there retained substantially the same character. I mean, it has been a remarkable mixture of the spirit of history and of epic poetry. In Greece, we may observe originally the same state of things; but the two forms of composition at length became separated, though the Greek historical art, when highest, never loses all its relations to the epic. The earliest Greek poets were religious and historical poets, dealing in the traditions and mythology of their country, and so continued down through Homer. Herodotus was by birth an Asiatic Greek, and was quite imbued with the oriental spirit. In his time, of public records there were none, or, at the most, there were only local registers of public events, and their dates, such, for instance, as those kept by the priesthood in the temples at Delphi and Argos, or the registers of particular families. He travelled, therefore, to collect the materials for his history. But he made of them one whole, and laid one idea at the bottom, with as much epic simplicity as Homer did in the Iliad. His subject was the contest of Greece with the Persians, and the triumph of Grecian liberty, or, more strictly, the great Grecian victory over the barbarians who had conquered the world, as then known. The relations between Herodotus and Homer are not to be mistaken; he not only has episodes, like the long one about Egypt, and formal speeches, which were common in historical works till the sixteenth century of our era, and have not been unknown since,[They are adopted, for instance, by Botta] but he has dialogues. One of his series of speeches, which partakes of the character of a dialogue, shows a remarkable advancement in political knowledge for that age; I mean that in which the conspirators against the Magi of Persia, previously to the elevation of Darius, discuss the different forms of government, almost in the spirit of Montesquieu. But all these things are kept in their proper places by Herodotus. He feels the connection of his subject all the way through; how one event proceeds from another, and how, in the spirit of epic unity, everything tends to the principal result, or contributes to it directly.

In Thucydides, the art of history is further advanced, though he lived very little later than Herodotus. He probably had read or heard his history, though that is doubted.

Thucydides did not, indeed, make one whole of his work, for he did not survive the war whose history he undertook to relate; but he is less credulous than Herodotus; he has no proper dialogue; he is more compact; he indulges very little in episodes; he draws characters, and his speeches are more like formal, stately discussions. And he says of them, they are such as he either heard himself, or received from those who did hear them, and he states that he gives them in their true substance.

There is nothing to create a doubt that personally he heard the oration of Pericles; and it is remarkable that, throughout the most flourishing period of Greek literature, both poetical and historical, productions were composed to be heard, rather than to be read; and the practice of listening to their rehearsals led the Greek people to attain great accuracy, as well as retentiveness, of memory.

In short, Herodotus’ work seems a natural, fresh production of the soil; that of Thucydides belongs to a more advanced state of culture. Quintilian says of the former, “In Herodoto omnia leniter fluunt;of the latter, “Densus et brevis et semper instans sibi.”

Xenophon, in his Hellenica, continues Thucydides. He was a military leader, and familiar with the affairs of state, and though not so deep a thinker, was a more graceful and easy writer. Polybius, living in a much later period, is defective in style, but is a wise and sensible author. His object is not merely to show what has been, but to attempt the instruction of the future, making his work what he calls a demonstrative history, fitted ‘for the use of statesmen. He is the last of the really good Greek historians.

The Romans had the great Greek masters, in prose and poetry, all before them, and imitated them in everything, but approached their models nearly only in eloquence and history. Like the Greeks too, they had early poetical histories, historical legends, and songs. Ennius wrote a sort of epic history of Rome. Caesar, one of the most distinguished of all great men, wrote accounts of what he had done, or what related directly to himself. The clearness, purity, and precision of his style are as characteristic of him as any of his great achievemente.

Sallust followed more closely the Greek models. Each of his two remaining histories is an epic whole, — short, indeed, but complete, fashioned with the greatest exactness, and remarkable for a dignity and stateliness of style which Caesar did not seek, and which would not have been fitting for his personal memoirs.

Livy had another purpose; there is an epic completeness in his great work, though it has come down to us in a mutilated state. “Majestas populi Romaniwas his subject, and he sacrifices much to it, even, not unfrequently, the rigor of truth. His style is rich and flowing. Quintilian speaks of Livii lactea ubertas” the creamy richness of Livy. His descriptions are excellent; indeed, there is a nobleness and grandeur about the whole work well fitted to his magnificent purpose in writing it.

Tacitus comes later, when he could no longer feel so proud of his country as Livy had done. He had much of the spirit and the power of Thucydides. Both were great, upright men, dissatisfied with their times; the one, because of the ascendancy of demagogues among the people, the other, with the imperial vices and the growing demoralization of his age. Tacitus is, however, free from passion, and is a wise, statesmanlike, and profound writer, throughout. Of both his History and Annals considerable portions are lost. We cannot, therefore, tell how much of completeness and proportion there may have been in either. But the nature of the period he discusses in each, — a period, as he says, ” opimum casibus, atrox prceliis, discors seditionibus, ipsa etiam pace scevum” not less than the severity of his own nature, forbade poetical ornament. In character-drawing, he is hardly excelled by any one. By a single dash of his pencil, he sometimes throws out a likeness, which all feel and acknowledge; and yet it has been thought that some degree of falling off in the purity and elegance of the Latin language is discernible in his pages.

Of the Roman historians my preference is strongly for Sallust. I admire his reach of thought, his clearness of style, as well as his accuracy of narration. He is sufficiently concise; he is sententious, without being meager or obscure, and his power of personal and individual description is remarkable. There are, indeed, in his style, some roughness belonging to the Roman tongue at an earlier age, but they seem to strengthen the structure of his sentences, without especially injuring their beauty. No character-drawing can well exceed his delineation of Catiline, his account of Jugurtha, or his parallel between Caesar and Cato. I have thought, sometimes, that I saw resemblances between his terse and powerful periods, and the remarks and sayings of Dr. Johnson, as they appear, not in his stately performances, but in the record of his conversations by Boswell.

In turning to peruse once more the pages of Sallust, to refresh myself . for the preparation of this address, I was struck by the coincidence of a transaction narrated by him, with one which we have seen very recently in our own country.

When Jugurtha had put to death Hiempsal, and expelled Adherbal from his rightful throne, the latter (who was born in Numidia, and not in Hungary) came to Rome to invoke what we should call, the intervention of the Roman people. His speech, delivered on that occasion, in the Senate, as Sallust has given it, is one of the most touching ever made by a man in misfortune and suffering from injury, to those having the power of granting relief or redress. His supplication to the Senate is founded on the broad and general idea that the Roman people were just themselves, and as they had the power, so it was their duty, to prevent or punish high-handed injustice, threatened or inflicted by others.

While I confess myself not competent to sit in judgment on the great masters of Roman story, still it has always struck me that in the style of Livy there is so much fulness, so much accumulation of circumstances, as occasionally tends to turgidity. I speak this, however, with the greatest diffidence. Livy seems to me like the rivers under the influence of copious spring floods, when not only is the main channel full, but all the tributary streams are also tending to overflow; while Sallust, I think, takes care only that there shall be one deep, clear, strong, and rapid current, to convey him and his thoughts to their destined end.

I do not mean to say that the skilful use of circumstance, either in the hand of a historian or a poet, is not a great power, — I think it is. What we call graphic description, is but the presentation of the principal idea, with a discreet accompaniment of interesting concomitants.

The introduction of a single auxiliary thought or expression sometimes gives a new glow to the historical or poetical picture. Particularity, well set forth, enchains attention. In our language, no writer has understood this better than Milton. His poetical images and descriptions are sure to omit nothing which can make those images and those descriptions striking, distinct, and certain, while all else is industriously repelled.

Witness the fall of Vulcan, which is stated with such beautiful detail, so much step by step, and terminated by such a phrase and comparison at the end, as greatly to enhance the idea, both of its length and its rapidity.

“Men call’d him Mulciber; and how he fell
From Heaven, they fabled, thrown by angry Jove
Sheer o’er the crystal battlements; from morn
To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve,
A summer’s day; and with the setting sun
Dropp’d from the Zenith like a falling star,
On Lemnos the Aegean isle.”

His description of vocal music in the “Allegro” is another instance of the same kind:

And ever against eating cares,
Lap me in soft Lydian airs,
Married to immortal verse,
Such as the meeting soul may pierce
In notes, with many a winding bout
Of linked sweetness long drawn out,
With wanton heed, and giddy cunning,
The melting voice through mazes running,
Untwisting all the chains that tie
The hidden soul of harmony.
That Orpheus’ self may heave his head
From golden slumber on a bed
Of heap’d Elysian flowers, and hear
Such strains as would have won the ear
Of Pluto, to have quite set free
His half-regain’d Eurydice.”

I hardly know anything which surpasses these exquisite lines, so poetical, and, at the same time, so thoroughly and absolutely English, and so free from all foreign idiom.

Several stanzas of Gray’s “Elegy in a Country Churchyard ” are also remarkable for the power and accuracy with which rural scenery is presented, by grouping together many interesting objects in one picture.

Another poetical instance of the same beauty is the ” Burial of Sir John Moore.”

There are remarkable instances of the same skill in writing in some of the English prose writers, and especially in the productions of Daniel De Foe. No boy doubts that everything told of Robinson Crusoe is exactly true, because all is so circumstantially told; I believe I was about ten years of age when I first read Robinson Crusoe, and I remember still the distress and perspiration which I was thrown into by his dangerous condition in his boat. “There was a current on both sides, a strong eddy under the shore. The sea was making a great breach upon that point. It was not safe to keep the shore, for the breach, nor leave it for the stream. He could do nothing with his paddles, and there was not a breath of wind. A great depth of water, running like the sluice of a mill, carried him farther and farther from the eddy, which was on the left hand, so that he could not keep his boat on the edge of it, and as the current on the north side and the current on the south side would both join at a few leagues distant, he thought himself irrecoverably gone.” And I thought so too. No man doubts, until he is informed of the contrary, that the historian of the plague of London actually saw all that he described, although De Foe was not born till a subsequent year.

It is a well known saying that the lie with circumstance is exceedingly calculated to deceive: and that is true, and it is equally true, not only that fictitious history gains credit and belief by the skilful use of circumstance, but that true history also may derive much additional interest from the same source.

In general, however, historical facts are to be related with rather a close and exclusive regard to such and such only as are important.

The art of historical composition owes its origin to the institutions of political freedom. Under the despotism of the Ganges and the Indus, poetry flourished with oriental luxuriance from the earliest times; but in the immense compass of that rich, primeval literature, there is no history, in the high sense of that term. The banks of the Nile were crowded with historical monuments and memorials, stretching back into the remotest antiquity; and recent researches have discovered historical records of the Pharaohs in the scrolls of papyrus, some of them as ancient as the books of Moses. But in all these, there is no history composed according to the principles of art. In Greece, the epic song, founded on traditionary legends, long preceded historical composition. I remember when I thought it the greatest wonder in the world that the poems of Homer should have been written at a period so remote that the earliest Grecian history should have given no probable account of their author. I did not then know, or had not then considered, that poetical writings, hymns, songs, accounts of personal adventures like those of Hercules and Jason, were, in the nature of things, earlier than regular historical narratives. Herodotus informs us that Homer lived four hundred years before his time. There is, nevertheless, something very wonderful in the poems of the old Ionian.

In general, it is true of the languages of nations that in their earlier ages they contain the substantial bone and sinew characteristic of their idiom, yet that they are rough, imperfect, and without polish. Thus Chaucer wrote English; but it is what we call old English, and, though always vigorous and often incomparably sweet, far remote from the smoothness and fluency belonging to the style of Pope and Addison. And Spenser wrote English, but, though rich, sonorous, and gorgeous, it has not the precision and accuracy of those later writers. It would seem that many books must be written and read, and a great many tongues and pens employed, before the language of a country reaches its highest polish and perfection. Now the wonder is, how a language should become so perfect, as was the Greek of Homer, at the time when that language could have been very little written. Doubtless, in succeeding ages, the compass of the Greek tongue was enlarged, as knowledge became more extended, and new things called for new words; but, within the sphere of Grecian knowledge, as it existed in the time of Homer, it can scarce be questioned that his style is quite as perfect and polished as that of any of his successors, and perhaps more picturesque. The cause of this apparent anomaly is, that the language had not only been spoken for many centuries, by a people of great ingenuity and extraordinary good taste, but had been carefully cultivated by the recitation of poetical compositions on a great variety of religious and festive occasions.

It was not until the legislation of Solon had laid the foundation of free political institutions, and these institutions had unfolded a free and powerful and active political life in the Athenian Republic; until the discussion of public affairs in the Senate and the popular Assembly had created deliberative eloquence, and the open administration of justice in the courts, and under the laws established by Solon, had applied to the transactions between the citizens all the resources of refined logic, and drawn into the sphere of civil rights and obligations the power of high forensic oratory: it was not until these results of the legislative wisdom of Solon had been attained, that the art of history rose and nourished in Greece. With the decline of Grecian liberty began the decline in the art of historical composition. Histories were written under the Grecian Kings of Egypt; and a long line of writers nourished under the Byzantine Emperors; but the high art of historical composition, as perfected in the master-works of Herodotus, Thucydides, and Xenophon, had perished in the death of political freedom.

The origin, progress and decline of history, as an art, were nearly the same in Rome. Sallust and Livy flourished at the close of the Republic and the commencement of the Empire. The great works of Tacitus himself are thought by many to betray the beginning of decline in the art, and later writers exhibit its fall.

The art of history again revived with the rise of the Italian Republics; and since the revival of literature, at the close of the middle ages, it will probably be found that three things naturally rise into importance together; that is to say, civil liberty, eloquence, and the art of historical writing.

Other foundation is not to be laid for authentic history than well authenticated facts; but, on this foundation, structures may be raised of different characteristics, historical, biographical, and philosophical. One writer may confine himself to exact and minute narration; another, true to the general story, may embellish that story with more or less of external ornament, or of eloquence in description; a third, with a deeper philosophical spirit, may look into the causes of events and transactions, trace them with more profound research to their sources in the elements of human nature, or consider and solve, with more or less success, the most important question, how far the character of individuals has produced public events, or how far on the other hand public events have produced and formed the character of individuals.

Therefore one history of the same period, in human affairs, no more renders another history of the same period useless, or unadvisable, than the structure of one temple forbids the erection of another, or one statue of Apollo, Hercules, or Pericles should suppress all other attempts to produce statues of the same persons.

But, gentlemen, I must not dwell upon these general topics. We are Americans. We have a country all our own; we are all linked to its fates and its fortunes; it is already not without renown; it has been the theatre of some of the most important human transactions, and it may well become us to reflect on the topics and the means furnished for historical composition in our own land. I have abstained, on this occasion, gentlemen, from much comment on histories composed by European writers of modern times; and, for obvious reasons, I abstain altogether from remarks upon the writers of our own country.

Works have been written upon the history of the United States, other works upon the same subject are in progress, and, no doubt, new works are contemplated, and will be accomplished.

It need not be doubted, that what has been achieved by the great men who have preceded our generation, will be properly recorded by their successors. A country in which highly interesting events occur, is not likely to be destitute of scholars and authors fit to transmit those events to posterity. For the present, I content myself with a few general remarks on the subject.

In the history of the United States there are three epochs. The first extends from the origin and settlement of the Colonies, respectively, to the year 1774. During this, much the longest period, the history of the country is the history of separate communities and governments, with different laws and institutions, though all were of a common origin; not identical indeed, yet having a strong family resemblance, and all more or less reference to the Constitution, and common law of the parent country.

In all these Governments the principle of popular representation more or less prevailed. It existed in the State Governments, in counties, in large districts, and in townships and parishes. And it is not irrelevant to remark, that, by the exercise of the rights enjoyed under these popular principles, the whole people came to be prepared, beyond the example of all others, for the observance of the same principles in the establishment of national institutions, and the administration of sovereign powers.

The second period extends from 1774, through the great event of the Declaration of Independence, in which the Colonies were called States, and, through the existence of the Confederation, down to the period of the adoption of the present Constitution. The third embraces the period from 1789 to the present time.

To avoid dealing with events too recent, it might be well to consider the third era, or epoch, as terminating with the close of President Washington’s administration, and going back into the second, so far as to trace the events and occurrences which showed the necessity of a general government, different from that framed by the Articles of Confederation, and which prepared the minds of the people for the adoption of the present Constitution. No doubt, the assembly of the first Continental Congress may be regarded as the era at which the union of these States commenced. This took place in Philadelphia, the city distinguished by the great civil events of our early history, on the 5th of September, 1774, on which day the first Continental Congress assembled. Delegates were present from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

Let this day be ever remembered! It saw assembled from the several Colonies those great men whose names have come down to us, and will descend to all posterity. Their proceedings are remarkable for simplicity, dignity, and unequalled ability. At that day, probably, there could have been convened on no part of this globe an equal number of men, possessing greater talents and ability, or animated by a higher and more patriotic motive. They were men full of the spirit of the occasion, imbued deeply with the general sentiment of the country, of large comprehension, of long foresight, and of few words. They made no speeches for ostentation, they sat with closed doors, and their great maxim was “faire sans dire.” It is true, they only wrote; but the issuing of such writings, on authority, and at such a crisis, was action, high, decisive, national action. They knew the history of the past, they were alive to all the difficulties and all the duties of the present, and they acted from the first, as if the future were all open before them. Peyton Randolph was unanimously chosen President, and Charles Thomson was appointed Secretary. In such a constellation, it would be invidious to point out the bright particular stars. Let me only say, what none can consider injustice to others, that George Washington was one of the number.

The proceedings of the assembly were introduced by religious observances, and devout supplications to the Throne of Grace for the inspirations of wisdom and the spirit of good counsels.

On the second day of the session it was ordered that a committee should be appointed to state the rights of the Colonies, the instances in which those rights had been violated, and the means proper to be pursued for their restoration; and another committee to examine and report upon the several statutes of the English Parliament which had been passed, affecting the trade and manufactures of the Colonies. The members of these committees were chosen on the following day. Immediately afterwards Congress took up, as the foundation of their proceedings, certain resolutions adopted, just before the time of their assembling, by delegates from towns in the county of Suffolk, and especially the town of Boston.

Boston, the early victim of the infliction of wrong by the mother country, the early champion of American liberty; Boston, though in this vast country she may be now surpassed by other cities in numbers, in commerce and wealth, can never be surpassed in the renown of her revolutionary history. She will stand acknowledged, while the world doth stand, as the early promoter and champion of the rights of the Colonies. The English crown frowned upon her with severity and indignation; it only made her stand more erect and put on a face of greater boldness and defiance. The Parliament poured upon her all its indignation; it only held her up with greater illumination, and drew towards her a more enthusiastic attachment and veneration from the country. Boston, as she was in heart, in principle and conduct in 1774, so may she remain till her three hills shall sink into the sea and be no more remembered among men.

Gentlemen, these early proceedings of the citizens of Boston and other inhabitants of the county of Suffolk deserve to be written where all posterity may read them. They were carried to the representative of royalty by the first distinguished martyr in the cause of liberty, Joseph Warren. How fit that he who was not long afterwards to fall in the defence of this liberty, and to seal his love of country with his blood, full of its spirit and its principles, should be charged with its remonstrances to the throne of England! No encomium, no eulogy upon the State of which I have the honor to be a citizen, can exceed that which is expressed in the unanimous resolution of the first American Congress of the 8th of October, 1774, in these words:

“Resolved, That this Congress approve the opposition of the Massachusetts Bay to the execution of the late acts of Parliament; and if the same shall be attempted to be carried into execution by force, in such case all America ought to support them in their opposition.”

Gentlemen, I will not believe that the ancient Commonwealth of Massachusetts can ever depart from her true character or cease to deserve this immortal honor; I think it impossible. But should she be left to such forgetfulness of herself and all that belongs to her, should she temporarily or permanently stray away from the paths of her ancient patriotism, should she, which Heaven avert, be willing to throw off her original and all-American mantle and to disrobe herself, in the presence of the world, of all her nationality of character, there are others who would eagerly seize that mantle, and who would show themselves capable of wearing it with grace, dignity, and power. I need not say here where those others are to be found. I am in the city in which Washington first took upon himself the administration of the Government, I am near the spot on which all hearts and all hopes were concentrated in 1789. I bring the whole scene, with all its deep interests, before me. I see the crowds that fill and throng the streets, I see the ten thousand faces anxious to look on him to whose wisdom, prudence, and patriotism the destinies of the country are now committed. I see the august form, I behold the serene face of Washington; I observe his reverent manner when he rises in the presence of countless multitudes, and, looking up with religious awe to heaven, solemnly swears before those multitudes and before Him that sitteth on the circle of those heavens, that he will support the Constitution of his country, so help him God!

And I can hear the shouts and acclamations that rend the air, I see outpouring tears of joy and hope, I see men clasping each other’s hands, and I hear them exclaim: “We have at last a country; we have a Union; and in that Union is strength. We have a government able to keep us together, and we have a chief magistrate, an object of confidence, attachment, and love to us all.”

Citizens of New York, men of this generation, is there anything which warms your hearts more than these recollections? Or can you contemplate the unparalleled growth of your city, in population and all human blessings, without feeling that the spot is hallowed and the hour consecrated, where and when your career of prosperity and happiness began?

But, gentlemen, my heart would sink within me, and voice and speech would depart from me, if I were compelled to believe that your fidelity to the Constitution of the country, signal and unquestioned as it is, could ever exceed that of the State whose soil was moistened by the blood of the first heroes in the cause of liberty, and whose history has been characterized from the beginning by zealous and uniform support of the principles of Washington.

This first Congress sat from the 5th day of September until the 26th of October, and it then dissolved. Its whole proceedings are embraced in forty-nine pages; but these few pages contain the substance and the original form and pressure of our American liberty, before a government of checks and balances and departments, with separate and well defined powers, was established. Its principal papers are: an address to the people of Great Britain, written by John Jay; a memorial to the inhabitants of the British colonies, written by Richard Henry Lee; a petition to the King and an address to the inhabitants of Quebec, written by John Dickinson. Note*

There is one resolution of the old Congress, adopted on the 14th of March, 1776, which has never received so much attention as it deserves.

It is in these words:

“Resolved, That it be recommended to the several assemblies, conventions, councils, or committees of safety, immediately to cause all persons to be disarmed within their respective Colonies, who are notoriously disaffected to the cause of America, or who have not associated and refuse to associate to defend by arms the United Colonies against the hostile attempts of the British fleets and armies.”

Extract from the minutes. Charles Thomson,

Secretary.

Note* In a copy of the printed journal of the proceedings of the Provincial Congress of 1774, which belonged to Caesar Rodney, and which contains interlineations, probably in his handwriting, the petition to the King is stated to have been written by John Adams, and corrected by John Dickinson. Its authorship is claimed also for Richard Henry Lee, by his biographer, probably on the ground that he was the chairman of the committee, and may have prepared the original draft of the petition which was recommitted, Mr. Dickinson being at the same time added to the committee; and it is included in the edition of Mr. Dickinson’s writings published at Wilmington during his lifetime, and superintended by himself. Mr. Rodney’s copy of the journal ascribes the memorial to the inhabitants of the British colonies, to William Livingston. But there is the best proof that it was written by Richard Henry Lee.

Several of the governors of the States, conventions, councils, or committees of safety took immediate measures for carrying this resolution into effect. The proceedings in consequence of it have been preserved, however, only in a few States. The fullest returns which can be found are believed to be from New Hampshire and New York. The form adopted was a recital of the resolution of Congress, and then the promise, or pledge, in the following words:

“In consequence of the above resolution of the Continental Congress, and to show our determination in joining our American brethren in defending the lives, liberties, and properties of the inhabitants of the United Colonies: We, the subscribers, do hereby solemnly engage and promise that we will, to the utmost of our power, at the risk of our lives and fortunes, with arms, oppose the hostile proceedings of the British fleets and armies against the United American Colonies.”

In the mountainous State of New Hampshire and among the highest of its mountains, then containing only a few scattered settlements, was the township of Salisbury. The Merrimac River, forming its eastern boundary, now so pleasant in scenery, and with so much richness and industry on its banks, was then a roaring and foaming stream seeking its way, amidst immense forests on either side, from the White Mountains to the sea. The settlers in this township were collected, and the promise or pledge proposed by the Continental Congress, of life and fortune, presented to them. “All,” as the record says, “freely signed except two.”

In looking to this record, thus connected with the men of my own birthplace, I confess I was gratified to find who were the signers and who were the dissentients. Among the former was he from whom I am immediately descended, with all his brothers, and his whole kith and kin. This is sufficient emblazonry for my arms, enough of heraldry for me.

Are there young men before me who wish to learn and to imitate the spirit of their ancestors, who wish to live and breathe in that spirit, who desire that every pulsation of their hearts and every aspiration of their ambition shall be American and nothing but American? Let them master the contents of the immortal papers of the first Congress, and fully imbue themselves with their sentiments.

The great Lord Chatham spoke of this assembly in terms which have caused my heart to thrill, and my eyes to be moistened, whenever I recollect them, from my first reading of them to this present hour:

“When your Lordships look at the papers transmitted us from America, when you consider their decency, firmness, and wisdom, you cannot but respect their cause and wish to make it your own. For myself, I must declare and avow that in all my reading and observation, and it has been my favorite study (I have read Thucydides and have studied and admired the master-states of the world), that for solidity of reasoning, force of sagacity, and wisdom of conclusion under such a complication of difficult circumstances, no nation or body of men can stand in preference to the general Congress at Philadelphia. I trust it is obvious to your Lordships that all attempts to impose servitude upon such men, to establish despotism over such a mighty continental nation, must be vain, must be fatal. We shall be forced ultimately to retract; let us retract while we can, not when we must.”

This first Congress, for the ability which it manifested, the principles which it proclaimed, and the characters of those who composed it, makes an illustrious chapter in our American history. Its members should be regarded not only individually, but as in a group; they should be viewed as living pictures exhibiting young America as it then was, and when the seeds of its public destiny were beginning to start into life, well described by our early motto as being full of energy and prospered by Heaven:

“Non sine Dis, animosus infans.” [Not without God is the infant courageous]

Some of the members of this Congress have lived to my time, and I have had the honor of seeing and knowing them; and there are those in this assembly, doubtless, who have beheld the stately form of Washington, and looked upon the mild and intelligent face, and heard the voice of John Jay.

For myself, I love to travel back in imagination, to place myself in the midst of this assembly, this Union of greatness and patriotism, and to contemplate as if I had witnessed its profound deliberations and its masterly exhibitions, both of the rights and of the wrongs of the country.

I may not dwell longer on this animating and enchanting picture. Another grand event succeeds it, and that is, the convention which framed the Constitution, the spirited debates in the States by the ablest men of those States, upon its adoption, and finally the first Congress, filled by the gray-haired men of the Revolution, and younger and vigorous patriots and lovers of liberty, and Washington himself in the principal chair of state, surrounded by his heads of department, selected from those who enjoyed the greatest portion of his own regard, and stood highest in the esteem of their country.

Neither Thucydides nor Xenophon, neither Sallust nor Livy, presents any picture of an assembly of public men, or any scene of history which, in its proper grandeur, or its large and lasting influence upon the happiness of mankind, equals this.

Its importance, indeed, did not at the moment strike the minds of ordinary men. But Burke saw it with an intuition clear as the light of heaven. Charles Fox saw it; and sagacious and deep thinking minds over all Europe perceived it.

England, England, how would thy destinies have been altered if the advice of Chatham, Burke, and Fox had been followed!

Shall I say altered for the better ? — certainly not. England is stronger and richer at this moment than if she had listened to the unheeded words of her great statesmen. Neither nations nor individuals always foresee that which their own interest and happiness require.

Our greatest blessings often arise from the disappointment of our most anxious hopes and our most fervent wishes:

                               ————“Let us know,
Our indiscretion sometimes serves us well,
When our deep plots do fail; and that should teach us,
There’s a divinity that shapes our ends,
Bough hew them how we will.”

Instead of subject colonies, England now beholds on these shores a mighty rival, rich, powerful, intelligent like herself.

And may these countries be forever friendly rivals. May their power and greatness, sustaining themselves, be always directed to the promotion of the peace, the prosperity, the enlightenment, and the liberty of mankind; and if it be their united destiny, in the course of human events, that they be called upon, in the cause of humanity and in the cause of freedom, to stand against a world in arms, they are of a race and of a blood to meet that crisis without shrinking from danger and without quailing in the presence of earthly power.

Gentlemen, I must bring these desultory remarks to a close. I terminate them where perhaps I ought to have begun,— namely, with a few words on the present state and condition of our country, and the prospects which are before her.

Unborn ages and visions of glory crowd upon my soul, the realization of all which, however, is in the hands and good pleasure of Almighty God, but, under His divine blessing, it will be dependent on the character and the virtues of ourselves and of our posterity.

If classical history has been found to be, is now, and shall continue to be, the concomitant of free institutions and of popular eloquence, what a field is opening to us for another Herodotus, another Thucydides, and another Livy! And let me say, gentlemen, that if we and our posterity shall be true to the Christian religion, if we and they shall live always in the fear of God, and shall respect His commandments, if we and they shall maintain just moral sentiments and such conscientious convictions of duty as shall control the heart and life, we may have the highest hopes of the future fortunes of our country; and if we maintain those institutions of government and that political union, exceeding all praise as much as it exceeds all former examples of political associations, we may be sure of one thing, that while our country furnishes materials for a thousand masters of the historic art, it will afford no topic for a Gibbon. It will have no decline and fall. It will go on prospering and to prosper. But if we and our posterity reject religious instruction and authority, violate the rules of eternal justice, trifle with the injunctions of morality, and recklessly destroy the political constitution which holds us together, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us that shall bury all our glory in profound obscurity. Should that catastrophe happen, let it have no history! Let the horrible narrative never be written! Let its fate be like that of the lost books of Livy, which no human eye shall ever read, or the missing Pleiad, of which no man can ever know more than that it is lost, and lost forever!

But, gentlemen, I will not take my leave of you in a tone of despondency. We may trust that Heaven will not forsake us, nor permit us to forsake ourselves. We must strengthen ourselves and gird up our loins with new resolution; we must counsel each other, and, determined to sustain each other in the support of the Constitution, prepare to meet manfully and united whatever of difficulty or of danger, whatever of effort or of sacrifice the Providence of God may call upon us to meet. Are we of this generation so derelict, have we so little of the blood of our revolutionary fathers coursing through our veins, that we cannot preserve what they achieved? The world will cry out ” shame” upon us if we show ourselves unworthy to be the descendants of those great and illustrious men who fought for their liberty and secured it to their posterity by the Constitution of the United States.

Gentlemen, exigencies arise in the history of nations when competition and rivalry, disputes and contentions are powerful. Exigencies arise in which good men of all parties and all shades of political sentiment are required to reconsider their opinions and differences, to readjust their positions, and to bring themselves together, if they can, in the spirit of harmony. Such a state of things, in my judgment, has happened in our day. An exigency has arisen, the duties and the dangers of which should sink deep within all our hearts. We have a great and wise Constitution. We have grown, flourished, and prospered under it with a degree of rapidity unequalled in the history of the world. Founded on the basis of equal civil rights, its provisions secure perfect equality and freedom; those who live under it are equal and enjoy the same privileges. It is to be presumed that all wise and good men of the nation have the same end in view, though they may take different means to obtain that great end, — the preservation and protection of the Constitution and Government. If, then, they have one and the same object, they must unite in the means and be willing each to surrender something to the opinions of others, to secure the harmony of the whole. Unity of purpose should produce harmony of action. This general object then, being the preservation of the Constitution, the only efficient means to accomplish this end is the union of all its friends. The Constitution has enemies, secret and professed, but they cannot disguise the fact that it secures us many benefits. These enemies are unlike in character, but they all act for the same purpose. Some of them are enthusiasts, self-sufficient and headstrong. They fancy that they can strike out for themselves a better path than that laid down for them, as the son of Apollo thought he could find a better course across the heavens for the sun.

“Thus Phaeton once, amidst the Ethereal plains,
Leaped on his father’s car, and seized the reins,
Far from his course impelled the glowing sun,
Till nature’s laws to wild disorder run.”

Heat, in the intellectual constitution of these enthusiasts, is distributed just exactly as it should not be; they have hot heads and cold hearts. They are rash, reckless, and fierce for change, and with no affection for the existing institutions of their country.

Other enemies there are, more cool and with more calculation. These have a deeper and more fixed and dangerous purpose; they formerly spoke of a forcible resistance to the provisions of the Constitution; they now speak of secession. Let me say, gentlemen, that secession from us is accession elsewhere. He who renounces the protection of the “stars and stripes,” will assuredly shelter himself under another flag; that will happen from inevitable necessity.

These malcontents find it not difficult to inflame men’s passions; they attribute all the misfortunes of individual men of different States, sections, and communities, all want of prosperity — to the Union. There is a strange co-operation of what are called antagonistic opinions. Extremes meet and act together.

There are those in the country who profess, in their own words, even to hate the Constitution because it tolerates in the Southern States the institutions existing therein; and there are others who profess to hate it, and do hate it, because it does not better sustain these institutions. These opposite classes meet and shake hands together, and say: “Let us see what we can do to accomplish our common end. Give us dissolution, revolution, secession, anarchy, and then let us have a general scramble for our separate objects.” Now the friends of the Constitution must rally and unite. They must forget the things which are behind, and act with immovable firmness, like a band of brothers, with moderation and conciliation, forgetting past disagreements and looking only to the great object set before them,—the preservation of the Constitution bequeathed to them by their ancestors. They must gird up their loins for the work. It is a duty which they owe to these ancestors and to the generations which are to succeed them.

Gentlemen, I give my confidence, my countenance, my heart and hand, my entire co-operation to all good men, without reference to the past, or pledge for the future, who are willing to stand by the Constitution.

I will quarrel with no man about past differences, I will reproach no one, but only say that we stand together here in a most interesting period of our history, with the same general love of country, the same veneration for ancestry, and the same regard for posterity; and let us act in that spirit of union which actuated our ancestors when they framed the institutions which it is ours to preserve. But I will not carry my toleration so far as to justify, in the slightest degree, any defection from that great and absolutely essential point, the preservation of the Union ; and I think every man should make his sentiments known on this point. For myself I have no hesitation, and cannot act with those who have. Other questions, questions of policy, are subordinate. This is paramount . Every man who is for the Union should come out boldly and say so, without condition or hypothesis, without ifs, ands and buts. What Cicero says on another occasion is fully applicable to this: “denique inscription sit, patres conscripti, in fronte unius cujusque civis, quod de republica sentia.” Let every man bear inscribed on his forehead what are his sentiments concerning the republic. There are persons weak enough, foolish enough, to think and to say that if the Constitution which holds these States together should be broken up, there would be found some other and some better chain of connection. This is rash! This is rash! I no more believe it possible that if this Union be dissolved, held together as it now is by the Constitution, especially as I look on these thirty-one States, with their various institutions, spreading over so vast a country, with such varieties of climate, — I say, I no more believe it possible that this Union, should it once be dissolved, could ever again be re-formed, and all the States re-associated, than I believe it possible that, if, by the fiat of Almighty power, the law of gravitation should be abolished, and the orbs which compose the Universe should rush into illimitable space, jostling against each other, they could be brought back and re-adjusted into harmony by any new principle of attraction. I hardly know whether the manner of our political death would be an aggravation, or an alleviation of our fate. We shall die no lingering death. We shall fall victims to neither war, pestilence, nor famine. An earthquake would shake the foundations of the globe, pull down the pillars of heaven, and bury us at once in endless darkness. Such may be the fate of this country and its institutions. May I never live to see that day! May I not survive to hear any apocalyptic angel crying through the heavens, with such a voice as announced the fall of Babylon, ‘Ἔπεσεν, ἔπεσεν, Αμερικη ἡ μεγάλη, καὶ ἐγένετο κατοικητήριον δαιμονίων, καὶ φυλακὴ παντὸς πνεύματος ἀκαθάρτου.” [Translation; Greek: ‘Is fallen, is fallen, America the Great has become a habitation of demons and a hold for every unclean spirit.’]

Gentlemen, inspiring auspices, this day, surround us and cheer us. It is the anniversary of the birth of Washington. We should know this, even if we had lost our calendars, for we should be reminded of it by the shouts of joy and gladness. The whole atmosphere is redolent of his name; hills and forests, rocks and rivers, echo and re-echo his praises. All the good, whether learned or unlearned, high or low, rich or poor, feel this day that there is one treasure common to them all, and that is the fame and character of Washington. They recount his deeds, ponder over his principles and teachings, and resolve to be more and more guided by them in the future. To the old and the young, to all born in the land, and to all whose love of liberty has brought them from foreign shores to make this the home of their adoption, the name of Washington is this day an exhilarating theme. Americans by birth are proud of his character, and exiles from foreign shores are eager to participate in admiration of him; and it is true that he is, this day, here, every where, all the world over, more an object of love and regard than on any day since his birth.

Gentlemen, on Washington’s principles, and under the guidance of his example, will we and our children uphold the Constitution. Under his military leadership, our fathers conquered; and under the outspread banner of his political and constitutional principles will we also conquer. To that standard, we shall adhere, and uphold it, through evil report and through good report. We will meet danger, we will meet death, if they come, in its protection; and we will struggle on, in daylight and in darkness, aye, in the thickest darkness, with all the storms which it may bring with it, till,

“Danger’s troubled night is o’er,
And the star of Peace return.”

Copyright © 2014 © 2015 TeaPartyEdu http://teapartyedu.net Foundation Truths http://captainjamesdavis.net The Patriot Brotherhood @CaptainJDavis ™

The Declaration of Independence: Its History; Chapter 3 1776

The Declaration of Independence Its History Chapter 3 1776

Drafting the Declaration of Independence. The Committee—Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Livingston and Sherman

Drafting the Declaration of Independence. The Committee—Franklin, Jefferson, Adams, Livingston and Sherman

See also: The Declaration of Independence: Its History Chapter 1 1774
The Declaration of Independence: Its History Chapter 2, 1775

SEVENTEEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-SIX

JANUARY 3, 1776, gave being to the new army at Cambridge. Washington — whose life Robert Morris, six months later, declared “the most valuable in America” —hoisted the Union flag, in compliment to the united Colonies. On the 30th, he writes thence to the President of Congress: “The clouds thicken fast; where they will burst, I know not; but we should be armed at all points.”

This was always Washington’s appeal. At no time, so far as we know, did he waste his powers, or invite the refusal of his constant and necessary demands upon Congress, by urging upon it or any of its members a declaration of independence.

To Joseph Reed, however, Washington, in 1776, openly expressed his opinions. On January 31st, he writes: “A few more of such flaming arguments, as were exhibited at Falmouth and Norfolk, added to the sound doctrine and unanswerable reasoning contained in the pamphlet ‘Common Sense,’ will not leave numbers at a loss to decide upon the propriety of a separation “; on February 10th, though his situation, as described by himself, had “been such, that I have been obliged to use art to conceal it from my own officers “: “With respect to myself, I have never entertained an idea of an accommodation, since I heard of the measures, which were adopted in consequence of the Bunker’s Hill fight. The King’s speech has confirmed the sentiments I entertained upon the news of that affair; and, if every man was of my mind, the ministers of Great Britain should know . . . that, if nothing else could satisfy a tyrant and his diabolical ministry, we are determined to shake off all connexions with a state so unjust and unnatural. This I would tell them, not under covert, but in words as clear as the sun in its meridian brightness”; and, on April 15th: “I am exceedingly concerned to hear of the divisions and parties, which prevail with you, and in the southern colonies, on the score of independence. These are the shelves we have to avoid or our bark will split and tumble to pieces . . . Nothing but disunion can hurt our cause.”

Indeed, William Palfray (evidently) writes from New York to Samuel Adams, May 24th: “As it may be of some importance to you to know General W’s Sentiments respecting the grand point of American independence I think my duty to acquaint you that I have heard him converse several times lately on the Subject, and delivered it as his opinion that a reconciliation with Great Britain is impracticable impolitic, and would be in the highest degree detrimental to the true Interests of America — That when he first took the Command of the Army he abhorr’d the Idea of independence but is now fully convinced nothing else will save us —”

Two days before the birth of the new army, we find the Assembly of New Hampshire “establishing a form of Government, to continue during the present unhappy and unnatural contest with Great Britain; protesting and declaring, that we never sought to throw off our dependence upon Great Britain . . . and that we shall rejoice if such a reconciliation . . . can be effected, as shall be approved by the Continental Congress, in whose prudence and wisdom we confide.”

Massachusetts, on the contrary, on the 18th of the same month (January), fully empowered her Delegates (Hancock, the Adamses, Paine and Elbridge Gerry), “with the Delegates from the other American Colonies, to concert, direct, and order such further measures as shall to them appear best calculated for the recovery and establishment of American rights and liberties ” — words which might be implied to include the power to join in a declaration of independence, though they evidently were not so intended and, as we shall see, were not so construed.

John Adams, who had left Congress, on leave of absence, December 9, 1775,and Gerry, who was elected for the first time on the 18th (of January, 1776), proceeded together to Philadelphia and took their seats on February 9th.

Adams, in his Autobiography, tells us: “Mr. Samuel Adams, Mr. Gerry and myself now composed a majority of the Massachusetts delegation, and we were no longer vexed or enfeebled by divisions among ourselves, or by indecision or indolence.”

At another place in his Autobiography, — indistinctly intermingling his views following his return with those of the preceding Fall, from his return after the adjournment on August 1st to his departure on the leave of absence — he says: “At the appointed time [Wednesday, September 5, 1775], we returned to Philadelphia, and Congress were reassembled . . . almost every day I had something to say about advising the States to institute governments, to express my total despair of any good from . . . any of those things which were called conciliatory measures. I constantly insisted . . . that we should be driven to the necessity of declaring ourselves independent States, and that we ought now to be employed in preparing a plan of confederation for the Colonies and treaties . . . together with a declaration of independence; that these three measures, independence, confederation, and negotiations with foreign powers, particularly France, ought to go hand in hand, and be adopted all together; that foreign powers could not be expected to acknowledge us till we had acknowledged ourselves, and taken our station among them as a sovereign power and independent nation . . . Some gentlemen doubted of the sentiments of France; thought she would frown upon us as rebels, and be afraid to countenance the example. I replied to those gentlemen, that I apprehended they had not attended to the relative situation of France and England; that it was the unquestionable interest of France that the . . . Colonies should be independent . . . When I first made these observations in Congress, I never saw a greater impression made upon that assembly or any other. Attention and approbation were marked upon every countenance. Several gentlemen came to me afterwards, to thank me for that speech, particularly Mr. Caesar Rodney, of Delaware, and Mr. Duane, of New York. I remember these two gentlemen in particular, because both of them said that I had considered the subject of foreign connections more maturely than any man they had ever heard in America . . . These and such as these, were my constant and daily topics, sometimes of reasoning and no doubt often of declamation, from the meeting of Congress in the autumn of 1775, through the whole winter and spring of 1776. Many motions were made, and after tedious discussions, lost. I received little assistance from my colleagues in all these contests; three of them were either inclined to lean towards Mr. Dickinson’s system, or at least chose to be silent, and the fourth [Samuel Adams evidently] spoke but rarely in Congress, and never entered into any extensive arguments, though, when he did speak, his sentiments were clear and pertinent and neatly expressed. Mr. Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, Mr. Sherman, of Connecticut, and Mr. Gadsden, of South Carolina, were always on my side, and Mr. Chase, of Maryland, when he did speak at all, was always powerful, and generally with us. Mr. Johnson, of Maryland, was the most frequent speaker from that State, and, while he remained with us, was inclined to Mr. Dickinson for some time, but ere long he and all his State came cordially into our system.”

Gerry writes, to James Warren, March 26th: “You are desirous of knowing what capital measures are proposed in congress. I refer you to . . . what is done concerning privateering . . . This will not in itself satisfy you, and / hope nothing will, short of a determination of America to hold her rank in the creation, and give law to herself. I doubt not this will soon take place … I sincerely wish you would originate instructions, expressed with decency and firmness — your own style — and give your sentiments as a court in favour of independency. I am certain it would turn many doubtful minds, and produce a reversal of the contrary instructions adopted by some assemblies. Some timid minds are terrified at the word independence. If you think caution in this respect good policy, change the name. America has gone such lengths she cannot recede, and I am convinced a few weeks or months at furthest will convince her of the fact, but the fruit must have time to ripen in some of the other colonies . . ,”

Samuel Adams (who, not long before, had been “indisposed” in Baltimore, “so as to be obliged to keep my Chamber ten days, I was unable to travel with my Friends”; and to whom, on February 12th, his wife had written: “I Received your affectionate Letter by Fesenton and thank you for your Kind Concern for My health and Safety. I beg you Would not give yourself any pain on our being so Near the Camp, the place I am in is so situated that if the Regulars should Even take prospect hill … I should be able to Make an Escape — as I am Within a few stones Cast of a Back Road Which Leads to the Most Retired part of Newtown …PS I beg you to Excuse the very poor Writing as My paper is Bad and my pen made with scissors — I should be glad … if you should not come down soon you would Write me Word Who to apply to for some Money for I am low in Cash and Everything is very dear”) writes, April 3d, to Dr. Samuel Cooper: “Is not America already independent? Why then not declare it? . . . Can Nations at War be said to be dependent either upon the other? I ask then again, why not declare for Independence? Because say some, it will forever shut the Door of Reconciliation … By such a Reconciliation she would not only in the most shameful Manner acknowledge the Tyranny, but most wickedly, as far as would be in her Power, prevent her Posterity from ever hereafter resisting it.”

His words of the 15th to Joseph Hawley are equally forcible: “I am perfectly satisfied with the Reasons you offer to show the Necessity of a public & explicit Declaration of Independency. — I cannot conceive what good Reason can be assigned against it. Will it widen the Breach? This would be a strange Question after we have raised Armies and fought Battles with the British Troops, set up an American Navy … It cannot surely after all this be imagined that we consider ourselves or mean to be considered by others in any State but that of Independence But moderate Whigs are disgusted with our mentioning the Word! Sensible Tories are better Politicians. — They know, that no foreign Power can consistently yield Comfort to Rebels, or enter into any kind of Treaty with these Colonies till they declare themselves free and independent . . . moderate Gentlemen are flattering themselves with the prospect of Reconciliation . . .”

The letter to Hawley was followed by one the next day to Warren: “The only alternative is independence or slavery . . . One of our moderate, prudent Whigs would be startled at what I now write . . . they would continue the conflict a century. There are such moderate men here, but their principles are daily growing out of fashion. The child Independence is now struggling for birth. I trust that in a short time it will be brought forth, and in spite of Pharaoh, all America will hail the dignified stranger.” On the last day of April, he writes —again to Cooper: “I am to acknowledge the Receipt of your Favor of the 18th Instant by the Post—The Ideas of Independence spread far and wide among the Colonies — Many of the leading Men see the absurdity of supposing that Allegiance is due to a Sovereign who has already thrown us out of his Protection — South Carolina has lately assumed a new Government—The Convention of North Carolina have unanimously agreed to do the same . . . Virginia whose Convention is to meet on the third of next month will follow the lead — The Body of the People of Maryland are firm — Some of the principal Members of their Convention, I am inclined to believe, are timid and lukewarm . . . The lower Counties in Delaware are a small People but well affected to the Common Cause—In this populous and wealthy Colony [Pennsylvania] political Parties run high—The News papers are full of the Matter but I think I may assure you that Common Sense, prevails among the people . . . The Jerseys are agitating the great Question—It is with them rather a Matter of Prudence whether to determine till some others have done it before them . . . their Sentiments & Manners are I believe similar to those of N England—I forbear to say anything of New York, for I confess I am not able to form any opinion of them . . . I think they are at least as unenlightened in the Nature and Importance of our political Disputes as any one of the united Colonies—I have not mentioned our little Sister Georgia; but I believe she is as warmly engaged in the Cause as any of us, & will do as much as can be reasonably expected of her I was very solicitous the last Fall to have Governments set up by the people in every Colony . . . When this is done, and I am inclined to think it will be soon, the Colonies will feel their Independence … I am disappointed, but I bear it tolerably well . . . There has been much to do to confirm doubting Friends & fortify the Timid . . . The Boston Port bill suddenly wrought a Union of the Colonies which could not be brought about by the Industry of years in reasoning on the Necessity of it for the Common Safety . . . The burning of Norfolk & the Hostilities committed in North Carolina have kindled the Resentment of our Southern Brethren who once thought their Eastern Friends hot headed & rash . . . There is a Reason that wd induce one even to wish for the speedy Arrival of the British Troops that are expected at the Southward— I think our friends are well prepared for them & one Battle would do more towards a Declaration of Independency than a long chain of conclusive Arguments in a provincial Convention or the Continental Congress—” The sentiments meanwhile of some of the constituents themselves, in the Commonwealth, and the result (evidently) of Gerry’s letter of March 26th to Warren also have come down to us:

On the 18th and 20th of February, Hawley thus declares to Gerry: “I have read the pamphlet, entitled, ‘Common Sense, addressed to the Inhabitants of America,’ and every sentiment has sunk into my well-prepared heart …””… if we resolve on independence, what will hinder but that we may instantly commence a trade not only with Holland, France, and Spain, but with all the world? . . . Pray consider this matter with regard to Canada and the Dutch of New-York. Will they ever join with us heartily, who, in order to do it, must sacrifice their trade . . . Whereas, the moment that we resolve on independence, trade will be free for them — for the one to France and the other to Holland . . . Independence, in short, is the only way to union and harmony, to vigor and dispatch in business; our eye will be single, and our whole body full of light; anything short of it will, as appears to me, be our destruction, infallible destruction, and that speedily.”

On March 26th, Edmund Quincy writes to his daughter, Mrs. Dorothy Hancock: “”May we deserve a Continuance of the Protection of Heaven & may there be soon an Accommodation or Separation of yeYounger from ye Older States; the Last I expect will be the necessary Effect of unnatural Treatment we have received — The voice of the people in these [Northern] Colonies seems almost universally in favor of independency as far as I can perceive … It is my real Opinion y’ set time is come wherein Providence has appointed the Flourishing States to withdraw themselves from ye Control of all other . . .”

On the 1st of the next month, Hawley, at Watertown, urges Samuel Adams as he had previously urged Gerry: “Give me leave to tell you that an immediate explicit and ye firmest Confederation and Proclamation of Independence may be more necessary than you are aware — unless it Shall be done and declared very soon — Infinite jealousies will arise in the breasts of the People and when they begin to spring up they will increase amazingly . . . All will be in confusion if independence is not declared immediately [.]”

On the 28th of April, John Adams writes to his wife: “You tell me our jurors refuse to serve, because the writs are issued in the King’s name “; and, on the 29th, a letter from Boston says: “Common Sense, like a ray of revelation, has come in seasonably to clear our doubts, and to fix our choice.”

Another letter of the same month, to John Adams, from J. Winthrop, at Watertown, says: “I hope Common Sense is in as high estimation at the Southward as with us. Tis universally admired here. If the Congress should adopt the Sentiments of it, it would give the greatest satisfaction to our people.”

On May 1st, Hawley writes to Gerry: “The Tories dread a declaration of Independence, and a course of conduct on that plan, more than death. They console themselves with a belief that the Southern Colonies will not accede to it. My hand and heart are full of it. There will be no abiding union without it.”

On the 13th, Cooper replies, from Boston, to the second letter of Samuel Adams to him: “I am much oblig’d to you for your Favor 30th Apr. which I receiv’d by the Post the Evening before last, and am glad to find Affairs are in so good a Train in the Southern Colonies; In New England the Voice is almost universal for Independence . . . Our General Court is dissolved [?]— Before this took place, the House pass’d a Vote to consult their Constituents, whether they would instruct their future Representatives to move the Continental Congress for Independence — I can only assure you of the Substance of the Vote; the Form of it was not clearly related to me. The House sent up this Vote to the Council for their Concurrence — The Propriety of this was doubted by some, who did not think the Council could properly act on such an affair. It was however done, and the Council negativ’d the Vote. Mr Cushing among others was against it. He said that it would embarrass the Congress — that we ought to wait till they mov’d the Question to us — that it would prejudice the other Colonies against us — and that you had wrote to some Body here, that things with you were going on slowly and surely, and any Kind of Eagerness in us upon this Question would do Hurt. Others said that the Congress might not choose to move such a Point to their Constituents tho they might be very glad to know their minds upon it — that it was beginning at the right End for the Constituents to instruct their Delegates at Congress, & not wait for their asking Instructions from their Constituents — that the Question had been long thought of & agitated thro the Colonies, & it was now high Time to come to some Determination upon it; otherwise our artful Enemies might sew the Seeds of Dissention among us to the great Prejudice if not Ruin of the common Cause. The House, tho they would have been glad of the Concurrence of the Council in this Matter, have determin’d to proceed without them; and Instructions will go from all Parts on this Head; and it seems, by Appearances thro the Continent, you will not be able to defer a great While your Decision on this grand Question.—”

On the 17th, Hawley, at Northampton, writes another urgent letter to Samuel Adams.

On the 20th, B. Hichborn writes to John Adams, from Boston: “The principal political topic of Conversation is Independence — & I think the people almost una voce [with one voice], are wishing for its immediate Declaration— we are often checked by real or fictitious accounts from the Southward, of a contrary disposition in a large Majority of the People there— Some opinions say the Continental Congress will, others that they will not make such a Declaration, without consulting their Constituents — can’t we be relieved from this uncertainty?”

On the 22d, Hawley, at Springfield, writes to Samuel Adams: “Before this You have rec’d the Account of the routing of the continental forces before Quebec — Will your Congress now delay for a Moment the most explicit declaration of independence [?]”

On June 1st, Winthrop — speaking of what is considered later — writes again to John Adams: “I have often wondered, that so much difficulty should be raised about declaring independence, when we have actually got the thing itself … I now perceive you were in these sentiments long ago. But they are very opposite to the inveterate prejudices and long-established systems of many others. It must be a work of time to eradicate these prejudices. And perhaps it may be best to accomplish this great affair by slow and almost imperceptible steps, and not per saltum [By a leap or bound], by one violent exertion. The late Resolve of May 15 comes very near it.”

On the next day, Hawley, at Watertown, writes to Gerry: “I do not mean that Confederations and a Declaration of Independence Should be made without a good prospect of its taking in all the Colonies — We are ripe for it here — But as nothing Short of it can Save us, if a Clear Vote can be Obtain for it in Congress, will it not do to risk it? I imagine that it will take everywhere.”

Indeed, on June 13th (Thursday), Hawley writes, to Gerry: “You cannot declare Independence too soon . . . When the present House here called last week, for the instructions of the several towns touching Independency, agreeable to the recommendation of the last House . . . it appeared that about two-thirds of the towns in the Colony had met, and all instructed in the affirmative, and generally returned to be unanimous. As to the other towns, the accounts of their Members were, either that they were about to meet, or that they had not received the notice, as it was given only in the newspapers. Whereupon, the House immediately ordered the unnotified towns to be notified by handbills, and in a short time undoubtedly we shall have returns from all; and it is almost certain that the returns will be universally to support the Congress, with their lives and fortunes, in case of a declaration of Independence.”

Before (January 4th) any of these letters was written and even before Common Sense appeared, General Greene, then at “Camp on Prospect-Hill”, wrote to Ward: “Permit me, then, to recommend from the sincerity of my heart, ready at all times to bleed in my country’s cause, a declaration of independence; and call upon the world, and the great God who governs it, to witness the necessity, propriety, and rectitude thereof.”

What Ward replied, if anything, we do not know; but John Adams writes of him, August 18th: “My friend [James] Warren, the late Governour Ward, and Mr. Gadsden, are three characters in which I have seen the most generous disdain of every spice and species of [selfish design] . . . The two last had not great abilities, but they had pure hearts. Yet they had less influence than many others, who had neither so considerable parts, nor any share at all of their purity of intention.” Indeed, “Gov’r Ward . . . died last night of the Small Pox” as shown by the Diary of Richard Smith for March 26th, over two months before the question of declaring independence came (directly) before Congress.

As early as Ward’s death, the trend of events, however, was being felt by some of the members of that body — among them Gerry, as we have seen by his (first) letter to Warren, asking Warren to originate instructions, written on the very day on which Ward died; and Hopkins, the remaining Delegate, very naturally, therefore, communicated — April 8th — with Governor Nicholas Cooke, making certain “queries concerning dependence or independence.”

The General Assembly (of Rhode Island) accordingly, on May 4th, elected William Ellery a to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Ward and, at the same time, instructed her Delegates “to consult and advise with the Delegates of the said [other] Colonies in Congress upon the most proper measures . . . to secure the said Colonies their rights and liberties . . . whether by entering into treaties … or by such other prudent and effectual ways and means as shall be devised and agreed upon . . .”

Of these instructions, Washington was immediately notified, by Cooke, by letter of the 6th; and, on the 7th, writing from Providence, Cooke replied to Hopkins’ letter, as follows: “I am to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 8th inst., which I laid before the General Assembly, who appointed a committee to take it into consideration and prepare instructions to the delegates. Dependency is a word of so equivocal a meaning, and hath been used for such ill purposes, and independency, with many honest and ignorant people carrying the idea of eternal warfare, the committee thought it best to avoid making use of either of them. The instructions you will receive herewith, passed both houses nemine contradicente [of one mind; without dissent]. I enclose an act discharging the inhabitants of the Colony from allegiance to the British King . . . The first mentioned act, after being debated, was carried in the lower house almost unanimously, there being upward of sixty members present, and but six votes against it. Towards the close of the session, a vote passed the lower house for taking the sense of the inhabitants at large upon the question of independency. The upper house were of the opinion that although a very great majority of the Colony were perfectly ripe for such a question, yet, upon its being canvassed, several towns would vote against it, and that the appearance of disunion would be injurious to the common cause, and represented to the lower house that it was very probable the subject would be discussed in Congress, before it would be possible to take the sense of the Colony in the proposed way and transmit it to the delegates, in which case, they would be laid under the necessity of waiting for the sentiments of their constituents, and of course the Colony would lose its voice, and the delegates when they should receive a copy of the act renouncing allegiance, and of the instructions, could not possibly entertain a doubt of the sense of the General Assembly; upon which the subject was dropped.”

The “upper house” seems to have been correct in their judgment; for Hopkins, in his answering letter — dated May 15th — to Cooke, says: “Your favour of the 7 th May I have received, and the papers enclosed in it. I observe that you have avoided giving me a direct answer to my queries concerning dependence or independence. However, the copy of the act of Assembly which you have sent me, together with our instructions, leave me little room to doubt what is the opinion of the Colony I came from. I suppose it will not be long before Congress will throw off all connection, as well in name as in substance, with Great Britain, as one thing after another seems gradually to lead them to such a step . . .”

The General Assembly of Connecticut, sitting at Hartford,—Trumbull and Williams being present-— resolved, June 14th, ” that the Delegates … be, and they are hereby, instructed to propose to that respectable body to declare the United American Colonies free and independent States . . .”

This was just a week after the resolution of May 15th of the Convention of Virginia to the same effect appeared in The Connecticut Gazette; and the Universal Intelligencer, published in New London, and after a Delegate of Virginia, as we shall see, had so proposed to Congress.

The Provincial Congress of New Jersey, sitting at New Brunswick, — Abraham Clark and John Hart evidently being present but seemingly none of her Delegates — instructed her Delegates, March 2d: “You must be sensible that this Congress are extremely destitute of the means of information, compared with your body, and, of course, unable to point out any certain line of conduct for you to pursue. Your deliberations must no doubt be formed upon the measures of the British Ministry, which are uncertain, extraordinary, and new almost every week. We, therefore, only request that you would join in the general voice of the United Colonies, and pursue such measures as you may judge most beneficial for the publick good of all the Colonies.”

Her Delegates at this time were William Livingston, Richard Smith, De Hart, Jonathan D. Sergeant and John Cooper.

Sergeant writes to John Adams, April 6th: “I arrived here [doubtless Princeton] last evening in a very indifferent State of Health & shall return or not return [to Philadelphia] according as I have Reason to believe 1 may be more useful here or there … My Head aches & my Heart aches. I tremble for the Timidity of our Counsels. —”

Five days later, certainly at Princeton, he tells Adams: “The Jersey Delegates (will You believe it) are not in the sweetest Disposition with one another. Mr D’Hart has gone home with an avowed Determination not to return without General Livingston & at the same Time has declared that he will offer himself as a Candidate for the Provincial Convention thinking that a more important Post, in order that he may control the mad Fellows who now compose that Body. — He has signified the dangerous Disposition of Mr Smyth & another of his Colleagues; and all the great & the mighty ones in the Colony are preparing to make their last Stand against the Principles of levelling which prevails in it. Mr Smith’s Health it seems will not admit of his Attendance, at least not very steadily. — In the mean Time I have engaged to return whenever called upon by General Livingston & Mr D’Hart; but rather believe they will not call upon me, tho I have wrote to them requesting it, in Order that the colony may not be unrepresented; — tho I fear it will be misrepresented if we attend.30 Whether to return without them is a matter of some Doubt with me, especially since I have been told that some very pious People are circulating a Rumour that I left Congress in Disgust at the Doctrines of Independency which are now advanced. — Whether I may not do more good at home considering all things I am at a Loss to determine. — If my Colleagues should go into the Provincial Convention I should be glad to meet them there; and I know the old Leven of Unrighteousness will strive hard to poison that Body by pushing in every Creature that can lisp against Independence, which in other Words, in my Opinion, is every Creature who would wish to give up the Quarrel. In Congress, if I am to be alone, it will avail little; if with my Colleagues less still . . . From this State of the Case I should be much obliged by your Opinion . . . onSunday I must determine one Way or the other if possible … P. S. . . . The grand Difficulty here is that People seem to expect Congress should take the first Step by declaring Independence, as they phrase it . . . I declare boldly to People Congress will not declare Independence in Form; they are independent; every Act is that of Independence and all we have to do is to establish Order & Government in each Colony that we may support them in it. — Could not this idea be substituted in the place of Independence in the Controversy, which, as it is treated, is no determinate Object, — brings Nothing to an Issue. —”

May 20th, he writes (also from Princeton to Adams): “I wrote You soon after I arrived here . . . Ever since I have seen the Inside of Congress I have trembled. Nothing short of a radical Change in the Councils of our Middle Colonies can, I am persuaded, by any Means save us . . . Next Week is our Election. I wish I may obtain a Seat in the Convention; but am not over sanguine in my Hopes tho I believe I could easily accomplish it by going out of my present County into the one I came from. However am in Hopes they will chuse good Men there. After the Election I expect to pay You a Visit for a short time; but am determined that I will not continue to attend [in Congress] along with my present Colleagues any longer than I can avoid. At present, several little Circumstances will form an excuse for my being absent.”

This letter (of May 20th), as shown by its superscription, was delivered to Adams by “Favour of Dr Witherspoon”, who had, himself, three days before it was written, delivered at Princeton a sermon on “The Dominion of Providence over the Passions of Men” in which he said: “. . . for these colonies to depend wholly upon the legislature of Great Britain, would be like many other oppressive connexions, injury to the master, and ruin to the slave … If on account of their distance and ignorance of our situation, they could not conduct their own quarrel with propriety for one year, how can they give direction and vigour to every department of our civil constitutions, from age to age? There are fixed bounds to every human thing. When the branches of a tree grow very large and weighty, they fall off from the trunk. The sharpest sword will not pierce when it cannot reach. And there is a certain distance from the seat of government where an attempt to rule will either produce tyranny and helpless subjection, or provoke resistance and effect a separation.”

Samuel Adams’ letter of April 30th has given us some idea of the feeling that prevailed in Pennsylvania.

On the day this letter was written, Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer also writes from Philadelphia, to Charles Carroll: “To-morrow will determine the question of Dependence or Independence, in this city, by the election of four additional members of Assembly … It is expectedthis contest will not end without blows”; and, on the next day, George Read, also from Philadelphia, to his wife, at Wilmington: “I flatter myself that I shall see you on Saturday next. Last Saturday the Congress sat, and I could not be absent . . . This day is their election for additional members of Assembly. Great strife is expected. Their fixed candidates are not known. One side talk of Thomas Willing, Andrew Allen, Alexander Wilcox, and Samuel Howell, against independency; the other, Daniel Roberdeau, George Clymer, Mark Kuhl, and a fourth I don’t recollect; but it is thought other persons would be put up.”

The election is thus described by Marshall: “This has been one of the sharpest contests, yet peacable, that has been for a number of years … I think it may be said with propriety that the Quakers, Papists, Church, Allen family, with all the proprietary party, were never seemingly so happily united . . .”

The resolve of Congress of May 15th, recommending, as we shall see, the adoption, where not already existing, of proper “government”, however, changed the face of affairs. Indeed, as Bancroft aptly expresses it, “The blow which proceeded from John Adams felled the proprietary authority in Pennsylvania and Maryland to the ground . . .”

On the evening of the very day on which Congress took this decisive action, Marshall, “Past seven, went and met a large number of persons at the Philosophical, by appointment (Col. McKean in the chair), where was debated the resolve of Congress . . .”

On the 16th also, he went, “At four, to the Philosophical Hall, to meet a number of persons … It was concluded to call a convention with speed; to protest against the present Assembly’s doing any business in their House until the sense of the Province was taken in that Convention to be called, &c, with the mode and manner of doing these several things by or on next Second Day.”

The next day, John Adams writes to his wife: “I have this morning heard Mr. Duffield, upon the signs of the times. He ran a parallel between the case of Israel and that of America, and between the conduct of Pharaoh and that of George. Jealousy, that the Israelites would throw off the government of Egypt, made him issue his edict, that the midwives should cast the children into the river; and the other edict, that the men should make a large revenue of bricks without straw. He concluded that the course of events indicated strongly the design of Providence that we should be separated from Great Britain, &c.”

On the 18th, Marshall writes, “A request was brought to this Committee, from a large company of the City and Liberties, that a general call be made of the inhabitants of the City and Liberties, to meet next Monday at nine o’clock forenoon at the State House, in order to take the sense of the people respecting the resolve of Congress of the Fifteenth instant, the which, after debate, was agreed to, only five dissenting voices.”

The meeting occurred at the appointed time, in the State House yard, where, Marshall, who was present, tells us, “it was computed, Four thousand people were met, notwithstanding the rain, and then, sundry resolves were passed unanimously except one, and there was one dissenting voice, to wit, Isaac Gray. Near twelve, all was completed quietly and peaceably . . . Went to Committee Room at Philosophical Hall, where were confirmed the resolves at the State House, and directions, with proper persons appointed to go with the said resolves to the different counties.”

On the very day of this meeting (May 20th), Gerry writes: “In this Colony (Pennsylvania) the spirit of the people is great, if a judgment is to be formed by appearances. They are well convinced of the injury their Assembly has done to the Continent, by their instructions to their Delegates. It was these instructions which induced the Middle Colonies, and some of the Southern, to backward every measure which had the appearance of Independency. To them is owing the delay of Congress in agitating questions of the greatest importance, which long ere now must have terminated in a separation from Great Britain . . .”

Bartlett, in a letter to Langdon, speaks of the occasion thus: “May 21” yesterday the City met, agreeable to notification in the field before the State House, a stage being erected for the Moderator (Col. Roberdeau) and the Chief speakers M’ Mc- Kean &c.— I am told they unanimously voted that the present House of Assembly are not Competent to Changing the form of gov’t and have given orders for Calling a Convention. Pennsylvania Assembly was to meet yesterday. I fear some Convulsions in the Colony, the infamous instructions given by the Assembly to their Delegates which they at their last meeting refused to alter is the Cause of their losing the Confidence of the people.”

The Assembly had in fact met — “above stairs” in the building where Congress sat — on the 20th, and the protest “of the inhabitants of the City and Liberties of Philadelphia, in behalf of ourselves and others” was presented to the Speaker on that day; but it was not read in the Assembly until the 22d, and was then ordered to lie on the table.

This protest set forth that, as understood by Bartlett, the Assembly was not empowered to form a government and that an application would be made to the Committee of Inspection and Observation of the City and Liberties of Philadelphia to call a conference. Indeed, as we have seen, the conference had already been called when the protest was read.

The Assembly then adjourned to 3 o’clock in the afternoon, when they resolved that Andrew Allen, George Clymer, Alexander Wilcocks, Isaac Pearson and George Ross ” be a committee to take into consideration the said Resolve of Congress, and the Preamble thereto; and to draw up a Memorial from this House … requesting an explanation, in such terms as will admit of no doubt, whether the Assemblies and Conventions now subsisting in the several Colonies are or are not the bodies to whom the consideration of continuing the old, or adopting new Governments, is referred . . .”

On the same day — and, as would seem, before the Assembly met at 3 o’clock and appointed this committee —, a number “of those called moderate men”, as Marshall entitles them, prepared and began to circulate a remonstrance against the protest, stating that the subscribers to the remonstrance had never authorized the protest and that the desires of the majority of the people did not justify it. This was not formally presented to the Assembly, however, as we shall see, until the 29th.

On the day following (the 23d), an address of the Committee of Inspection and Observation for the County of Philadelphia, signed by William Hamilton, as chairman, was presented to the Assembly and read. This asked “that you will most religiously adhere to the Instructions given to our Delegates in Congress.”

The Committee of Inspection and Observation of the City and Liberties was at once aroused. On the 24th, they themselves determined upon a memorial to Congress, which stated ” That, in consequence of a request of a large majority of the inhabitants … of Philadelphia, on the 20th instant, the Committee have issued letters … for calling a conference of the Committees of the Province, in order to collect the sense of the inhabitants . . . That they have heard with great surprise that the Assembly . . . are about to present a Memorial to your honourable body, in consequence of a Remonstrance delivered to them . . . That the said Remonstrance has been obtained by unfair representations and indefatigable industry; and is signed chiefly by those people who hold Offices under the Crown . . . That . . . the present Assembly . . . was not chosen, nor is it invested with powers, to carry the said resolve [of Congress of May 15th] into execution. That a majority of the present Assembly do not possess the confidence of the people . . .” This memorial — signed by McKean, as chairman— was presented (to Congress) on the 25th.

Meanwhile, the Assembly, however, either knew not what to do or was unwilling to take any action whatever. Nor did they act even on the 28th, when the memorial of the Committee of Inspection and Observation of the City and Liberties to Congress was read, or when, later in the day, a petition from “a number of the freemen and inhabitants of the County of Cumberland, was presented to the House, and read,” but simply ordered them to lie on the table. The people of Cumberland County petitioned “this honourable House that the last Instructions which it gave to the Delegates . . . wherein they are enjoined not to consent to any step which may cause or lead to a separation from Great Britain, may be withdrawn.” Indeed, on the 29th (except to read the remonstrance — then presented — and to order it to lie on the table), 30th and 31st, nothing was done; and, on the 1st, 3d and 4th of June, there was no quorum.

On the 5th of June, however, the resolution of Virginia of May 15th was read; and then, at last, a committee — Dickinson, Robert Morris, Joseph Reed, Clymer, Wilcocks, Pearson and Thomas Smith — was appointed to prepare a draft of instructions to the Delegates in Congress. They reported, on the 6th, “an essay for the purpose; which was read by order, and referred to further consideration.” On the 7th, “the House resumed the consideration of the Instructions to the Delegates . . . And, after a debate of a considerable length, adjourned to three o’clock in the afternoon.” At the appointed time, they “resumed consideration of the Instructions, and, having made some progress therein, adjourned to nine o’clock tomorrow morning.”

Maryland charged her Delegates, January 11th, that, “should any proposition be happily made by the Crown or Parliament, that may lead to or lay a rational and probable ground for reconciliation, you use your utmost endeavours to cultivate and improve it into a happy settlement and lasting amity . . . We further instruct you, that you do not, without the previous knowledge and approbation of the Convention . . . assent to any proposition to declare the Colonies independent . . . unless, in your judgments … it shall be thought absolutely necessary for the preservation of the liberties of the United Colonies; and should a majority of the Colonies in Congress, against such your judgment, resolve to declare these Colonies independent . . . then we instruct you immediately to call the Convention . . . and repair thereto with such proposition and resolve, and lay the same before the said Convention for their consideration; and this Convention will not hold this Province bound by such majority in Congress, until the Representative body of the Province, in Convention, assent thereto.”

Nor was this enough. On the 18th, the Convention entered a declaration on their journal wherein they avowed that they ” never did, nor do entertain any views or desires of independency.”

Indeed, as late as May 15th — the very day, as we have seen and shall more particularly see, when Virginia instructed her Delegates to propose to Congress to declare independence—, the Convention (of Maryland) took into consideration a resolution (adopted on the 21st) which declared that “this Convention is firmly persuaded that a reunion with Great Britain on constitutional principles would most effectively secure the rights and liberties, and increase the strength and promote the happiness of the whole empire . . . the said Deputies are bound and directed to govern themselves by the instructions given to them by this convention in its session in December last, in the same manner as if the said instructions were particularly repeated.”

Of the same mind doubtless was the Council of Safety; for they say, in a letter to the Delegates, on June 8th—when they must have known of the resolution of Virginia: “The intelligence with regard to 7000 men rising and declaring for independence is without foundation; we take it to be news from some incendiary . . .”

A few of the leading men, however, of Maryland held different views or were wavering. On January 30th, Alexander writes, from Philadelphia to the Council of Safety: “the Instructions of the Convention are come to Hand, but not as yet laid before Congress. I am much pleased with them, they entirely coincide with my Judgment & that Line of Conduct which I have determined to persue, the Farmer and some others to whom in Confidence they were shewn, say they breath that Spirit, which ought to govern all publick Bodies, Firmness tempered with Moderation.” On February 27th, however, he writes from the same place to the same body: “. . . with me every Idea of Reconciliation is precluded by the conduct of Grt Britain, & the only alternative, absolute slavery or Independency, the latter I have often reprobated both in public & private, but am now almost convinced the Measure is right & can be justified by necessity.”Indeed, Chase writes, to John Adams from Saint Johns, April 20th: “[Qy] In my Judgment You have no alternative between Independency and Slavery, and what American can hesitate in the Choice! but don’t harangue about it, act as if We were.” Stone writes, from Philadelphia to Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer, four days later: “Mr Johnson wrote to you yesterday. If the Commissioners do not arrive shortly and conduct themselves with great candor and uprightness to effect a reconciliation, a separation will most undoubtedly take place … I wish to conduct affairs so that a just & honorable reconciliation should take place, or that we should be pretty unanimous in a resolution to fight it out for Independance, the proper way to effect this is not to move too quick, but then we must take care to do everything which is necessary for our Security and Defence, not suffer ourselves to be lulled or wheedled by any deceptions declarations or givings out. You know my hearty wishes for Peace upon terms of Security and Justice to America. But war, any thing is preferable to a surrender of our rights … I shall set out on Saturday or Sunday next to meet my wife.”

It also is interesting to note that The Maryland Journal, and the Baltimore Advertiser contained, in its issue of May 22d, the following: “Serious QUESTIONS addressed to the advocates for DEPENDANCE upon the crown of Britain . . . Are not the advocates for INDEPENDANCE the only true friends to the principles of the British constitution? … Is not RECONCILIATION an untrodden path ; for where can we find an instance of a people’s returning to their allegiance to a tyrant, after he had violated every political and moral obligation to them? … Is not Independance a trodden path? Did not the United Provinces, and the Cantons of Switzerland, establish their liberty by declaring themselves INDEPENDANT, the one of the Court of Spain, the other of the House of Austria ?”

“In January 1776,” writes John Adams to John Taylor, April 9, 1814, “six months before the declaration of independence, M- Wythe of Virginia passed an evening with me at my chambers. In the course of conversation upon the necessity of Independence Mr Withe, observ[ed] . . . that the greatest obstacle in the way of a declaration of it, was the difficulty of agreeing upon a government for our future regulation . . .” General Charles Lee writes, to Washington, from Stamford, on the 24th of the same month (January, 1776): “Have you seen the pamphlets Common Sense? I never saw such a masterly, irresistible performance. It will, if I mistake not, in concurrence with the transcendent folly and wickedness of the Ministry, give the coup-de-grace to Great Britain. In short, I own myself convinced, by the arguments, of the necessity of separation.”

On the 4th of February, Adam Stephen writes to R. H. Lee from Berkeley: “Indeed my affection is not only cooled, but I begin to be inveterate, and it is impossible that I can ever again have any attachment to the Mother Country.” On the 16th, General Charles Lee writes from New York to Rush: “Your Common Sense is an admirable performance, but such is the timidity and nonsense of the greater part of the Community that I question much the effects were it not so happily seconded by the violence and insanity of the Ministry which must cram down your throats independence in spite of the squeamishness of your stomachs. It strikes me that reconciliation and return to your former state of dependence is as much a Chimera as an incorporation with the Mongolian Tartars —” On the 20th, a member of the Convention (of Virginia) says: “Some people among us seem alarmed at the name of Independence, while they support measures, and propose plans, that comprehend all the spirit of it . . . Whenever I have been an advocate for dependence, I have felt a conscious want of publick virtue . . .”

A letter from Williamsburg dated March 5th tells us: “The Tories and tools of Administration are constantly crying out that Congress is aiming at independence . . .”

On the 1st of April, Washington — still at Cambridge — writes, to Joseph Reed: “My countrymen I know, from their form of government, and steady attachment heretofore to royalty will come reluctantly into the idea of independence, but time and persecution bring many wonderful things to pass; and by private letters, which I have lately received from Virginia, I find ‘Common Sense’ is working a powerful change there in the minds of many men.” On the 2d, John Lee writes from Essex City to R. H. Lee: “Independence is now the topic here, and I think I am not mistaken when I say, it will (if not already) be very soon a Favourite Child.” Three days later, General Charles Lee, now at Williamsburg, in a letter also to R. H. Lee, says: “Pendleton is certainly naturally a Man of sense, but I can assure you that the other night in a conversation I had with him on the subject of independence He talkd or rather stammer’d nonsense that would have disgraced the lips of an old Midwife Drunk with bohea Tea and gin — Bland says that the Author of common sense is a blockhead and ignoramus for that He has grossly mistaken the nature of the Theocracy — If you coud be spard from the Congress, Your presence might infuse vigor and wisdom [here] … for Gods sake why do you dandle in the Congress so strangely, why do you not at once declare yourselves a seperate independant State? . . . I wish you woud kuff Doctor Rush for not writing—I expect and insist upon it —” John Page writes from the same city to Jefferson on the same day: “For God’s sake declare the Colonies independant, at once, & save us from ruin —” He writes again on the 12th to R. H. Lee: “I think almost every man, except the Treasurer [Robert Carter Nicholas], is willing to declare for Independency … I would to God you could be here at its next Convention. It would be happy for us if you [the Delegates] could be all spared on that occasion; if you could, I make no doubt you might easily prevail in the Convention to declare for Independency, and to establish a form of Government.” On the same day, “A. B.”—also at Williamsburg — writes to Alexander Pardie: “The independence of the Colonies daily becomes more and more a topick of very anxious disquisition.” A third letter of the 12th, from Petersburg, says: “In my way through Virginia, I found the inhabitants warm for independence. . . indeed, I hear nothing praised but Common Sense and Independence.” On the 20th”, William Aylett writes to R. H. Lee from King William: “The people of this County almost unanimously cry aloud for Independence.” Two days later, John Augustine Washington writes to the same gentleman from “Liberty Hall”: “I had the pleasure to receive your letter of the 8th April . . . You mention that you have opened the ports to all the world but enemies, but that you are apprehensive this will not do without our promising our aid to any such power as should get involved in a war with Great Britain from attempting to trade with us. I am clearly of opinion that unless we declare openly for Independency there is no chance for foreign aid . . .”

We have also the action of the Committee of Charlotte County, on the 23d — a month before Boston instructed her representatives —, and that of the freeholders of James City, on the 24th. The former (the chairman and 15 members being present) instructed their Delegates to the Convention “to push to the utmost a war offensive and defensive, until you are certified that such proposals of peace are made to our General Congress as shall by them be judged just and friendly. And because the advantages of a trade will better enable us to pay the taxes, and procure the necessaries for carrying on a war, and in our present circumstances this cannot be had without a Declaration of Independence; therefore, if no such proposals of peace shall be made … we give it you in charge, to use your best endeavours that the Delegates which are sent to the General Congress be instructed immediately to cast off the British yoke …” The latter, coming together at Allen’s Ordinary, declared to theirs that they desired them, ” (provided no just and honourable terms are offered by the king,) to exert your utmost abilities, in the next Convention, towards dissolving the connection between America and Great Britain, totally, finally, and irrevocably.”

Even more directly in line with the action soon to be taken by the Convention are the instructions of Buckingham County, though we do not know their date. These “recommend to, and instruct you, as far as your voices will contribute, to cause a total and final separation from Great Britain to take place as soon as possible; or, as we conceive this great point will not come within your immediate province, that, as far as in your power, you cause such instructions to be given to the Delegates from this Colony to the Continental Congress …”

The position of R. H. Lee — soon to be the mover of the resolution — and the position of Jefferson — soon to be the author of the Declaration — and the sentiments of the people of the “upper counties “, as well as the views of Francis Lightfoot Lee, a brother of R. H. Lee, are given later.

The growth of the sentiment in Virginia was being felt even in Philadelphia. On May 1st, Gerry writes to Warren: “Virginia is always to be depended upon; and so fine a spirit prevails among them that, unless you send some of your cool patriots among them, they may be for declaring Independency before Congress is ready.” On the 20th, he says: “I enclose you a Virginia paper, just come in, by which you will see the spirit of another County in that Colony, exhibited in their instructions for Independency.”

Gerry’s later letter (as well as the instructions just given) calls to mind, however, a communication from Landon Carter to Washington, dated “Sabine Hall”, May 9th: “I need only tell you of one definition that I heard of Independency; It was expected to be a form of Government, that by being independt of the rich men every man would then be able to do as he pleasd. And it was with this expectation they sent the men they did [to the Convention], in hopes they would plan such a form. One of the deligates I heard exclaim against that Patrolling laws, because a poor man was made to pay for keeping a rich mans Slaves in order. I shamed the fool so much for that he slunk away; but he got elected by it. Another actually in a most seditious manner, resisted the draughting the militia by lot, to be ready for any immediate local emergency; and he got first returned that way. When we usd [to be] Legislators, such rascals would have been found out; but now, it is not to be supposd, that a dog will eat a dog. I know who I am writing to, and therefore I am not quite so confin’d in my expression, for a more decent language could not explain my meaning so well. And from hence it is that our independency is to arise! Papers it seems are every where circulating about for poor ignorant Creatures to sign, as directions to their delegates to endeavour at an independency. In vain do we ask to let it be explain’d what is design’d by it! If the form of government is to Preserve Justice, Order, Peace and freedom I believe there are few who would refuse; but when these only modes of Social happiness, are left so much concealed, or not toucht upon in the least, what sensible creatures ought to trust an ignorant representative to do what he pleases, under a notion of leaving his Constituents independant?”

Three days before (May 6th) this letter was written, “45 members of the House of Burgesses met at the Capitol [in Williamsburg], pursuant to their last adjournment ; but it being their opinion, that the people could not now be legally represented according to the ancient constitution, which has been subverted by the king, lords, and commons of Great Britain, and consequently dissolved, they unanimously dissolved themselves accordingly. The same day the General Convention of Delegates from the counties and corporations in this colony met at the Capitol . . . Edmund Pendleton was elected President.”

Besides Pendleton, among those present were William Aylett, Bland, Archibald Cary, Dudley Digges, William Fleming, Henry, Richard Lee, Thomas Ludwell Lee, James Madison, George Mason, Nelson, Robert Carter Nicholas, Edmund Randolph, Meriwether Smith and John Augustine Washington. Page appeared on a committee on the 15th.

On the 11th, John Augustine Washington writes, to R. H. Lee: “I hardly think that the grand question will come on before Tuesday next, as this day will be chiefly taken up with the Norfolk business, and on Monday the House is generally thin. When it does there will be much altercation, but I believe no danger but that we shall determine upon taking up Government, but whether they may be so explicit as I could wish in their Instructions to our Delegates I cannot determine, but hope there is no great danger.”

As he anticipated, the Convention, on the 14th, resolved itself into a committee of the whole to take into consideration the state of the Colony.

Edmund Randolph writes: “When the disposition of the people as exhibited by their representatives could not be mistaken, Henry had full indulgence of his own private judgment, and he concerted with Nelson that he (Nelson) should introduce the question of independence, and that Henry should enforce it. Nelson affected nothing of oratory, except what ardent feelings might inspire, and characteristic of himself, he had no fears of his own with which to temporize, and supposing that others ought to have none, he passed over the probabilities of foreign aid, stepped lightly on the difficulties of procuring military stores and the inexperience of officers and soldiers, but pressed a declaration of independence, upon what with him were incontrovertible grounds ; that we were oppressed, had humbly supplicated a redress of grievances which had been refused with insult; and that to return from battle against the sovereign with the cordiality of subjects was absurd. It was expected that a declaration of independence would certainly be passed, and for obvious reasons Mr. Henry seemed allotted to crown his political conduct with this supreme stroke. And yet for a considerable time he talked of the subject as being critical, but without committing himself by a pointed avowal in its favor or a pointed repudiation of it. He thought that a course which put at stake the lives and fortunes of the people should appear to be their own act, and that he ought not to place upon the responsibility of his eloquence, a revolution of which the people might be wearied after the present stimulus should cease to operate. But after some time he appeared in an element for which he was born. To cut the knot which calm prudence was puzzled to untie was worthy of the magnificence of his genius. He entered into no subtlety of reasoning, but was aroused by the now apparent spirit of the people. As a pillar of fire, which notwithstanding the darkness of the prospect would conduct to the promised land, he inflamed, and was followed by the convention.

On the 15th, the committee of the whole, of which Cary was chairman, reported and the Convention (112 members being present) unanimously adopted a resolution which should immortalize the Colony:

Forasmuch as all the endeavours of the United Colonies, by the most decent representations and petitions to the King and Parliament of Great Britain, to restore peace and security to America under the British Government, and a reunion with that people upon just and liberal terms, instead of a redress of grievances, have produced, from an imperious and vindictive Administration, increased insult, oppression, and a vigorous attempt to effect our total destruction : — By a late act all these Colonies are declared to be in rebellion, and out of the protection of the British Crown, our properties subjected to confiscation, our people, when captivated, compelled to join in the murder and plunder of their relations and countrymen, and all former rapine and oppression of Americans declared legal and just; fleets and armies are raised, and the aid of foreign troops engaged to assist these destructive purposes; the King’s representative in this Colony hath not only withheld all the power of Government from operating for our safety, but, having retired on board an armed ship, is carrying on a piratical and savage war against us, tempting our slaves by every artifice to resort to him, and training and employing them against their masters … In this state of extreme danger, we have no alternative left but an abject submission to the will of those overbearing tyrants, or a total separation from the Crown and Government of Great Britain, inviting and exerting all the strength of America for defence, and forming alliances with foreign Powers for commerce and aid in war . . . Wherefore, appealing to the Searcher of hearts for the sincerity of former declarations expressing our desire to preserve the connection with that nation, and that we are driven from that inclination by their wicked councils, and the eternal law of self-preservation:

That the Delegates appointed to represent this Colony in General Congress be instructed to propose to that respectable body to declare the United Colonies free and independent States, absolved from all allegiance to, or dependence upon, the Crown or Parliament of Great Britain ; and that they give the assent of this Colony to such declaration, and to whatever measures may be thought proper and necessary by the Congress for forming foreign alliances, and a Confederation of the Colonies, at such time and in the manner as to them shall seem best:

“In consequence of the above resolution, universally regarded as the only door which will lead to safety and prosperity,” says a newspaper report of the time, “some gentlemen made a handsome collection for the purpose of treating the soldiery, who next day were paraded in Waller’s grove, before Brigadier-General Lewis, attended by the Committee of Safety, members of the General Convention, the inhabitants of this city, &c. &c. The resolution read aloud to the army, the following toasts were given, each of them accompanied by a discharge of the artillery and small arms, and the acclamations of all present. 1. The American independent states. 2. The Grand Congress of the United States, and their respective legislatures. 3. General Washington and victory to the American arms. The UNION FLAG of the American states waived upon the Capitol during the whole of this ceremony, which being ended, the soldiers partook of the refreshment prepared for them by the affection of their countrymen, and the evening concluded with illuminations M and other demonstrations of joy; every one seemed pleased that the domination of Great Britain was now at an end . . .”

Nelson immediately left for Philadelphia to lay the resolution before Congress, which was done, May 27th.

Washington was in Philadelphia at the time — having arrived at 2 o’clock on the afternoon of the 23d —and was delighted.

The progress of events in North Carolina is scarcely less interesting.

Hooper writes, to James Iredell from Philadelphia, January 6th: ” Yes, Britain, it is the criterion of effect our total destruction : — By a late act all these Colonies are declared to be in rebellion, and out of the protection of the British Crown, our properties subjected to confiscation, our people, when captivated, compelled to join in the murder and plunder of their relations and countrymen, and all former rapine and oppression of Americans declared legal and just; fleets and armies are raised, and the aid of foreign troops engaged to assist these destructive purposes; the King’s representative in this Colony hath not only withheld all the power of Government from operating for our safety, but, having retired on board an armed ship, is carrying on a piratical and savage war against us, tempting our slaves by every artifice to resort to him, and training and employing them against their masters … In this state of extreme danger, we have no alternative left but an abject submission to the will of those overbearing tyrants, or a total separation from the Crown and Government of Great Britain, inviting and exerting all the strength of America for defence, and forming alliances with foreign Powers for commerce and aid in war . . . Wherefore, appealing to the Searcher of hearts for the sincerity of former declarations expressing our desire to preserve the connection with that nation, and that we are driven from that inclination by their wicked councils, and the eternal law of self-preservation:

Hewes writes, to Samuel Johnston from the same city, February 11th (and 13th) and 20th and March 1st: “Our friend Hooper has taken an opportunity when he could be best spared from Congress to fly to the Camp at Cambridge to see his Mother, who has lately got out of Boston, he has been gone about Ten days . . . Late last night I received a Letter from him dated New York the 6th; he seems greatly alarmed at the intelligence he had received there . . . The anxiety of my worthy friend for the safety, honour & happiness of our province and for his dearest connections there I imagine has induced him to paint things in the strongest colours to me … I have furnished myself with a good musket & Bayonet, and when I can no longer be usefull in Council I hope I shall be willing to take the field . . . The 13th . . . The only pamphlet88 that has been published here for a long time I now send you; it is a Curiosity; we have not put up any to go by the Waggon, not knowing how you might relish independency. The author is not known; some say Doctor Franklin had a hand in it, he denies it.” “This will be delivered to you by James Thompson and John Crowley who have charge of the Waggon, Horses and sundry Articles that make up the Load … I mentioned to you in my last express that we had not sent any copies of the Pamphlet entitled Common Sense but finding Brother Penn had a fondness for them have agreed some should be sent, the Council can Judge of the propriety of distributing them, let me know your opinion on that head, the Roads being very bad I was advised to put five horses to the Waggon I hope they will all be delivered safe to you . . . John Crowley who is the driver is recommended to me as a man very carefull of Horses and used to the business of driving a Waggon, he can neither read or write and his old master says should not be trusted with money, both the men are to have 3s? day and all expenses born, if they return here, pay them no more money than Just to bear their expenses, they are to be in pay till they arive here provided they come directly back[.]” “We shall send off another Waggon in a day or two with what Powder the new Waggon left, also drums & Colours for your third Regiment . . . N. B. The new Waggon went off eight days ago. I hear it is now no further than Wilmington. That one of the best Horses cut one of his hind feet very much with his shoe and cannot proceed. I have this day sent a carefull person down to purchase another Horse and bring the lame one back if it should be found necessary.”

On the day following the postscript to the first letter, Penn writes, also from Philadelphia, to Thomas Person: “The consequence of making alliances is perhaps a total separation with Britain and without something of that sort we may not be able to provide what is necessary for our defence. My first wish is that America may be free; the second that we may be restored to peace and harmony with Britain upon Just and proper terms. If you find it necessary that the convention should meet sooner than May let us know of it as I wish to return at that time. I have been very sick for two or three days but am getting well again … I send you a pamphlet called ‘Common Sense,’ published here abt a month ago.”

Another letter of Hooper, written to Johnston, March 13th, after Hooper’s return from Boston (to Philadelphia), still more clearly outlines his position. It says: “I most earnestly wish peace and reconciliation upon terms honorable to America. Heaven forbid that I should submit to any other.”

These letters, as appear, all were written at Philadelphia.

A little over a month later (April 15th), as shown by the proceedings of the Provincial Congress of North Carolina, sitting at Halifax, Hooper and Penn, ” Delegates of the Continental Congress and Members of this House, appeared [there], subscribed the Test and took their seats.”

On the 17th (of April), Penn writes (from Halifax), to John Adams: “After a tedious Journey, occasioned] by bad roads and wet weather I arrived here in good health, as I came through Virginia I found the inhabitants desirous to be Independent from Britain . . . North Carolina by far exceeds them occasioned by the great fatigue trouble and danger the People here have undergone, for some time past . . . All regard or fondness for the King or the nation of Britain is gone, a total separation is what they want. Independance is the word most used . . . the Convention have tried to get the opinion of the People at large. I am told that in many Counties there were not one dissenting voice.”

A similar statement is found in a letter from Thomas Ludwell Lee to R. H. Lee, dated Williamsburg, Va., four days earlier: “Gen. Howe, in a letter received yesterday from Halifax . . . says . . . ‘Independence seems to be the word; I know not a dissenting voice.'”

Indeed, ten days before Hooper and Penn arrived at Halifax, Johnston writes from that place to Iredell, his brother-in-law: “Our wagons arrived yesterday with about 2500 pounds of powder, and drums, and colors, for the troops. I have likewise a letter from Hewes of the 20th of last month, but no news except what you have in the newspapers. He seems in despair of a reconciliation; no Commissioners were appointed the 25th of December, and the Parliament was then prorogued to the 20th of January. All our people here are up for independence”; and, three days before they arrived (April 12th), the Provincial Congress, of which Johnston was President, resolved: “That the Delegates … be empowered to concur with the Delegates of the other Colonies in declaring Independency . . .”

Johnston writes, again to Iredell, on the 13th: “The House, in consequence of some very important intelligence received last night, have agreed to impower their delegates at Philadelphia to concur with the other Colonies in entering into foreign alliances, an independence on Great Britain. I cannot be more particular — this is wrote in [Provincial] Congress.”

The new instructions were laid before Congress, May 27th—at the same time, as shown by the Journal, that the instructions (of May 15th) of Virginia were presented to that body.

It is interesting to note that Hewes had written, to Johnston, on the 16th (of May): “I have had the honor to receive your several favours of the 10th, 13th, & 17th ultimo enclosing sundry resolutions of your [Provincial] Congress. I took the earliest opportunity to lay those papers before Congress .. .”

Iredell, afterwards an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, however, under date of June, 1776, is said to have written a pamphlet which is believed to have circulated quite widely in manuscript form among the leading men of North Carolina and which said: “I avoid the unhappy subject of the day, independency. There was a time very lately, within my recollection, when neither myself nor any person I knew, could hear the name but with horror. I know it is a favorite argument against us, and that on which the proceedings of Parliament are most plausibly founded, that this has been our aim since the beginning, and all other attempts were a cloak and disguise to this particular one. If this supposition had been well founded, and a desire of redressing the grievances we complained of had been entertained by government, they might immediately, by granting these, have detected and disappointed the other, or covered us with eternal disgrace, if we avowed it. But it is sufficient to say, our professions have been all solemnly to the contrary; we have never taken any one step which really indicated such a view; its suggestion has no more foundation than mere suspicion, which might countenance any falsehood whatever, and every man in America knows that this is one of the most egregious falsehoods ever any people were duped with. But so it was. This error they have been captivated with, and it has lead them, as well as us, to the brink of destruction. Its consequences are now only to be deplored, not, I fear, to be remedied. I may venture to say, the dread, or the pretended dread, of this evil, has almost produced it. The suspicion, though so ill founded, has been, previously, the parent of all the violent acts that now irritate the minds of the Americans. Some are inflamed enough to wish for independence, and all are reduced to so unhappy a condition as to dread at last that they shall be compelled in their own defence to embrace it. I confess myself of the latter number, in exclusion of the former. I am convinced America is in no such a situation as to entitle her to consider it as a just object of ambition, and I have no idea of people forming constitutions from revenge. A just and constitutional connection with Great Britain (if such could be obtained) I still think, in spite of every provocation, would be happier for America, for a considerable time to come, than absolute independence. No man can disdain, more than I do, the uniform and cruel violence of our oppressors’ conduct. But I make a distinction between the ministry, and even the Parliament, and the people of England. These last I do not consider as accessory in all the oppressions we have sustained. Many, I have no doubt, are great criminals, but more, I am persuaded, are deceived by false and wicked information. Great things have been attempted in our defence. But the misfortune is, the inadequacy of the representation, and the corruption so universal, leave little to the real voice of the people. If it is said that these causes may always give us such a Ministry and Parliament, I answer, that I form no idea of any reconciliation but where we shall have full security that even these can do us no essential injury, unless we conspire to it ourselves. In political affairs we are not always at liberty to choose what is best in the abstract, but what may be found so in practice. I can see no establishment in America, no turn to its affairs, that is likely to arise of a happier nature than such a re-union. But if a re-union is not practicable but upon terms of dishonor, if one essential point is required as a sacrifice to obtain it, I should spurn at the idea as scandalous and disgraceful; and in such an event or on any occasion whatever, if independency should become necessary to our safety, I should not hesitate an instant in giving my assent to it.”

The last instructions of the Provincial Congress of South Carolina before the adoption of the Declaration are dated March 23d and declare: “That the Delegates … or a majority of such of them as shall at any time be present in . . . Congress, or any one of the said Delegates, if no more than one shall be present, be . . . authorized, and empowered … to concert, agree to, and execute, every measure which they or he, together with a majority of the Continental Congress, shall judge necessary, for the defence, security, interest, or welfare of this Colony in particular, and of America in general.”

These instructions, like those of Massachusetts, of course, might be construed to imply a power to join in a declaration of independence; but they — much less doubtless than those of the Commonwealth — evidently were not so intended to be construed. Indeed, the government formed a few days later was expressly declared to be formed to exist only “until an accommodation of the unhappy differences between Great Britain and America can be obtained, (an event which, though traduced and treated as Rebels, we still earnestly desire,)”; and when, previously, on the 10th of February, Laurens, of the committee charged with drafting a proposed form of government, had made his report, a debate, says John Drayton, had occurred as follows: “Col. Gadsden ([having arrived from Philadelphia on the evening of the 8th and] having brought the first copy of Paine’s pamphlet entitled ‘Common Sense? &c.) boldly declared himself, not only in favour of the form of government; but, for the absolute Independence of America. This last sentiment, came like an explosion of thunder upon the members of Congress; as the resolution of the Continental Congress, upon which, the report for a form of government was grounded, had by no means led them to anticipate so decisive a step; neither had the majority of the members at that time, any thoughts of aspiring at independence. A distinguished member in particular, declared he abhorred the idea; and that he was willing to ride post, by day and night, to Philadelphia, in order to assist, in re-uniting Great Britain and America: and another called the author of Common Sense.

Then the few, who wished for independence, thought Col. Gadsden imprudent in thus suddenly declaring for it; when, the house was unprepared for considering a matter of such great importance.”

Among the people at large, by April, however, there would seem to have been more than a few who favored independence; for, on April 12th, a gentleman writes from Petersburg, Va.: “I spent last evening with Mr. _____, from South-Carolina. He tells me that the people there have no expectation of ever being reconciled with Britain again but only as a foreign State”: and we know that David Ramsay (evidently the historian), as early as February 14th, writes, from Charleston to Rush: “Who is the author of common sense? I can scarce refrain from adoring the venerable man He deserves a statue of Gold.”

Indeed, on April 23d — the day of the instructions of Charlotte County, Va.—, the Chief Justice, at the opening of the courts in Charleston, charged the grand jury thus: “The law of the land authorizes me to declare, and it is my duty to declare the law, that George the Third, king of Great Britain, has abdicated the government, that he has no authority over us, and we owe no obedience to him . . . True reconcilement never can exist between Great Britain and America, the latter being in subjection to the former. The Almighty created America to be independent of Britain; to refuse our labors in this divine work, is to refuse to be a great, a free, a pious, and a happy people!” It was a declaration of independence!

Georgia instructed her Delegates, April 5th: “Our remote situation [impels us to] . . . decline giving any particular instructions . . . We . . . shall rely upon your patriotism, abilities, firmness, and integrity, to propose, join, and concur, in all such measures as you shall think calculated for the common good, and to oppose such as shall appear destructive.”

Thus North Carolina was the first to authorize (April 12th) her Delegates “to concur with the Delegates of the other colonies in declaring Independency” — the word itself being used; and thus Virginia was the first to authorize (May 15th) her Delegates “to propose [to Congress] … to declare the United Colonies free and independent States . . .”

One of the strongest factors in bringing about the change of feeling in the Colonies was Common Sense.

John Adams, in his Autobiography, under date of “September, 1775”, says: “In the course of this winter appeared a phenomenon in Philadelphia, a disastrous meteor, I mean Thomas Paine. He came from England, and got into such company as would converse with him, and ran about picking up what information he could concerning our affairs, and finding the great question was concerning independence, he gleaned from those he saw the common-place arguments, such as the necessity of independence some time or other; the peculiar fitness at this time; the justice of it; the provocation to it; our ability to maintain it, &c. &c. Dr. Rush put him upon writing on the subject, furnished him with the arguments which had been urged in Congress a hundred times, and gave him his title of ‘Common Sense.’ In the latter part of the winter, or early in the spring, he came out with his pamphlet. The arguments in favor of independence I liked very well . . . [They were] clearly written, and contained a tolerable summary of the arguments which I had been repeating again and again in Congress for nine months. But I am bold to say there is not a fact nor a reason stated in it, which had not been frequently urged in Congress . . . It has been a general opinion that this pamphlet was of great importance in the Revolution. I doubted it at the time, and have doubted it to this day. It probably converted some to the doctrine of independence, and gave others an excuse for declaring in favor of it. But these would all have followed Congress with zeal; and on the other hand it excited many writers against it, particularly ‘Plain Truth,’ who contributed very largely to fortify and inflame the party against independence, and finally lost us the Allens, Penns, and many other persons of weight in the community . . .”

Bartlett writes to Langdon from Philadelphia, February 19, 1776: “The pamphlet Common Sense has already had three editions in this City; in the last there is an Appendix and large additions; it has also been reprinted at New York; by the best information it has had a great effect on the minds of many here and to the Southward [.]”

Common Sense says:

I challenge the warmest advocate for reconciliation, to show a single advantage that this continent can reap by being connected with Great Britain . . .

But the injuries and disadvantages we sustain by that connection are without number … It is the true interest of America to steer clear of European contentions, which she never can do while, by her dependance on Britain, she is made the makeweight in the scale of British politics.

. . . Everything that is right or natural pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, ’tis time to part . . .

Though I would carefully avoid giving unnecessary offense, yet I am inclined to believe, that all those who espouse the doctrine of reconciliation may be included within the following descriptions:

Interested men, who are not to be trusted; weak men, who cannot see; prejudiced men, who will not see; and a certain set of moderate men who think better of the European world than it deserves; and this last class, by an ill-judged deliberation, will be the cause of more calamities to this continent than all the other three . . .

. . . bring the doctrine of reconciliation to the touchstone of nature, and then tell me whether you can hereafter love, honor, and faithfully serve the power that hath carried fire and sword into your land . . .

. . . Reconciliation is now a fallacious dream. Nature hath deserted the connection, and art cannot supply her place . . .

I am not induced by motives of pride, party, or resentment to espouse the doctrine of separation and independence; I am clearly, positively, and conscientiously persuaded that it is the true interest of this continent to be so; that everything short of that is mere patchwork; that it can afford no lasting felicity, — that it is leaving the sword to our children, and shrinking back at a time, when a little more, a little further, would have rendered this continent the glory of the earth . . .

. . . No man was a warmer wisher for reconciliation than myself before the fatal nineteenth of April, 1775 . . .

Ye that tell us of harmony and reconciliation, can ye restore to us the time that is passed? Can ye give to prostitution its former innocence? Neither can ye reconcile Britain and America. The last chord now is broken; the people of England are presenting addresses against us. There are injuries which nature cannot forgive; she would cease to be nature if she did. As well can the lover forgive the ravisher of his mistress . . .

Another very important factor was the Act declaring the Colonists out of the King’s protection.

As early as December 21, 1775, a gentleman, writing from London of this “bill which has now passed both Houses of Parliament, and will, in a few days, receive the royal assent,” and which treated “the Colonies as enemies,” says: “They cannot be enemies and subjects at the same time . . . The publick begins to conceive that these measures will sever America forever from this country. The Ministry are so conscious of it, that they have hired Dean Tucker to soften the business, by persuading the people that it will be no loss.”

Francis Lightfoot Lee writes, from Philadelphia to “my dear friend” Landon Carter, “Favor’d by Mr Howe”, March 18th (1776): “Before this I suppose you have rec’d a copy of Common sense which I sent you some time ago, if not I now send a parcel to Col Taylor of whome you may have one Our late King & his Parliament having declared us Rebels & Enemies confiscated our property as far as they were likely to lay hands on it have effectually decided the question for us, whether or no[t] we shall be independent all we have now to do is to endeavour to reconcile ourselves to the state it has pleased Providence to put us into and indeed upon taking a near & full look at the thing it does not frighten so much as when view’d at a distance. I can’t think we shall be injured by having a free trade with all the world instead of its being confined to one place whose riches might always be used to our ruin nor does it appear to me that we shall suffer any disadvantage by having our Legislatures uncontrolled by a power so far removed from us that our circumstances can’t be known whose interests is often directly contrary to ours and over which we have no manner of controul indeed great part of that power being at present lodged in the hands of a most gracious Prince whose tender mercies we have often experienced; it must wring the heart of all good men to part but I hope we shall have Christian fortitude enough to bear with partience & even cheerfulness the decrees of a really most gracious King. The danger of Anarchy & confusion I think altogether Chimerical [wildly fanciful; highly unrealistic] the good behaviors of the Americans with no Government at all proves them very capable of good Government. But my dear Col. I am so fond of peace that I wish to see an end of these distractions upon terms that will secure America from future outrages but from all our intelligence I really despair. There is such an inveteracy in the & his advisers that we need not expect any other alternative than slavery or separation is it not prudent therefore to fit our minds to the state that is inevitable. Virginia it seems is considered at home as most liable to deception & seduction & therefore the Commissioners are to bend their chief force that way backed by a considerable detachment of the Army. I hope it will turn to the honor of my Country as it will afford a opportunity for showing their Virtue & good sense. Col Taylor has news—I wrote yesterday to my friend Col R Carter . . . Gen’l Lee who has the Southern Command . . . [has] some thought of passing thro Richmond, best respects to Sabin Hall[.]”

John Adams, in a letter to Gates, dated Philadelphia, March 23d, writes: “I know not whether you have seen the Act of Parliament call’d the restraining Act, or prohibitory Act, or piratical Act, or plundering Act, or Act of Independency, for by all these titles is it called. — I think the most apposite is the Act of Independency, for King Lords and Commons have united in sundering this Country and that I think forever. — It is a compleat Dismemberment of the British Empire.— It throws thirteen Colonies out of the Royal Protection, levels all Distinctions and makes us independent in Spite of all our Supplications and Entreaties. — It may be fortunate that the Act of Independency should come from the British Parliament, rather than the American Congress: But it is very odd that Americans should hesitate at accepting such a Gift from them — However, my dear Friend Gates, all our Misfortunes arise from a single Source, the Reluctance of the southern Colonies to Republican Government . . . each Colony should establish its own Government, and then a League should be formed, between them all.”

Indeed, so strong was the feeling in the Colonies following and because of this Act that the promised coming of the so-called “peace commissioners “, with the hope of probable reconciliation thus held out, was all that deterred very many from taking a bold stand for an immediate declaration.

Joseph Reed writes, from Philadelphia to Washington, March 3d : ” . . . there is a strange reluctance in the minds of many to cut the knot which ties us to Great Britain, particularly in this colony and to the southward. Though no man of understanding expects any good from the commissioners, yet they are for waiting to hear their proposals before they declare off”, and, March 15th: “We every Moment expect to hear of these Gentry’s Arrival … A little Time will show what we are to expect from the new Project. In my Part I can see nothing to be hoped from it but it has laid fast hold of some here & made its Impression on the Congress. It is said the Virginians are so alarmed with the Idea of Independence that they have sent Mr Braxton [He arrived, February 23d] on Purpose to turn the Vote of that Colony, if any Question on that Subject should come before Congress. To tell you the Truth my dear Sir, I am infinitely more afraid of these Commissioners than their Generals & Armies—If their Propositions are plausible & Behaviour artful I am apprehensive they will divide us — There is so much Suspicion in Congress & so much Party on this Subject, that very little more Fuel is required to kindle the Flame. It is high Time for the Colonies to begin a gradual Change of Delegates — private Pique, Prejudice & Suspicion will make its Way into the Breasts of even good Men sitting long in such a Council as ours, & whenever that is the Case their Deliberations will be disturbed & the publick Interest of course suffer . . . Mr Deane of Connecticut is gone to Europe his Errand may be guessed tho little is said about it.—”

Duane writes, to R. R. Livingston from Philadelphia, March 20th: ” . . . my friend Chase . . . has promised me to call on you at Clermont. He will with pleasure communicate every thing worth your knowledge. You will find that his usual warmth is not abated and that though closely attached to his friends he still keeps the start of them in his political system. The social intercourse which was formed amongst the Delegates of the five middle Colonies and North Carolina has suffered no diminution, and I am persuaded they would all combine to give you pleasure . . . When I first wrote to you I expected soon to have visited my family a happiness of which I have too long been deprived! But such is the critical state of my dear native country, and so slender has been our own representation that I could not reconcile it to my ideas of the important trust of which I partake. Whether we shall be reconciled to Great Britain or separated from her perhaps forever? is a question which a few weeks may probably decide; and on which the happiness of millions may depend. I wish for peace if it can be accompanied by liberty and safety. I expect little from the justice and less from the generosity of administration; but I am not without hopes that the interest of Great Britain will compel her ministers to offer us reasonable terms. I am unwilling that while Commissioners are daily looked for, we should by any irrevocable measure tie up our hands, and put it out of our power to terminate this destructive war. I do not think this line of conduct incompatible with the most vigorous efforts for our defence in the ensuing campaign. — I believe it to be agreeable to the sense of our constituents which would alone be decisive with me.— under these impressions, I wait for the expected propositions with painful anxiety. If they should prove oppressive or frivolous we will be at no loss to form a judgment of the consequences.”

The effect upon Robert Morris is shown by a letter from him of April 6th, from Philadelphia to Gates: “Where the plague are these Commissioners, if they are to come what is it that detains them; It is time we shou’d be on a Certainty & know positively whether the Liberties of America can be established & secured by reconciliation, or whether we must totally renounce Connection with Great Britain & fight our way to a total Independence. Whilst we Continue thus firmly United amongst ourselves there’s no doubt but either of these points may be carried, but it seems to me, We shall quarrel about which of these roads is best to pursue unless the Commissioners appear soon and lead us into the first path, therefore I wish them to come, dreading nothing so much as even an appearance of division amongst ourselves—”

We have already seen a letter from Stone, of April 24th.

Meanwhile, as already shown by Reed’s letter, the struggle in Congress had become more bitter: so much so that it extended to the different members of a delegation.

John Adams, in his Autobiography, under date of February 29th, says: “. . . [Harrison] seemed to be set up in opposition to Mr. Richard Henry Lee. Jealousies and divisions appeared among the delegates of no State more remarkably than among those of Virginia . . . I asked the reason; for Mr. Lee appeared a scholar, a gentleman, a man of uncommon eloquence, and an agreeable man. Mr. Wythe said . . . this was all true, but Mr. Lee had, when he was very young, and when he first came into the House of Burgesses, moved and urged on an inquiry into the state of the treasury, which was found deficient in large sums, which had been lent by the treasurer to many of the most influential families of the country, who found themselves exposed, and had never forgiven Mr. Lee . . . These feelings among the Virginia delegates were a great injury to us. Mr. Samuel Adams and myself were very intimate with Mr. Lee, and he agreed perfectly with us in the great system of our policy, and by his means we kept a majority of the delegates of Virginia with us. But Harrison, Pendleton, and some others showed their jealousy of this intimacy plainly enough at times. Harrison consequently courted Mr. Hancock and some other of our colleagues, but we had now a majority, and gave ourselves no trouble about their little intrigues.”

He tells us (in his Autobiography) also that he had been appointed (October 28, 1775) Chief Justice of the Superior Court of Judicature of his Colony and: “I soon found [after the return to Congress on February 9, 1776], there was a whispering among the partisans in opposition to independence, that I was interested; that I held an office under the new government of Massachusetts; that I was afraid of losing it, if we did not declare independence; and that I consequently ought not to be attended to. This they circulated so successfully, that they got it insinuated among the members of the legislature in Maryland, where their friends were powerful enough to give an instruction to their delegates in Congress, warning them against listening to the advice of interested persons, and manifestly pointing me out to the understanding of every one . . . These chuckles I was informed of, and witnessed for many weeks, and at length they broke out in a very extraordinary manner. When I had been speaking one day on the subject of independence, or the institution of governments, which I always considered as the same thing, a gentleman of great fortune and high rank rose and said, he should move, that no person who held any office under a new government should be admitted to vote on any such question, as they were interested persons … I rose from my seat with great coolness and deliberation . . . and said: ‘. . . I will second the gentleman’s motion, and I recommend it to the honorable gentleman to second another which I should make, namely, that no gentleman who holds any office under the old or present government should be admitted to vote on any such question, as they are interested persons.’ The moment when this was pronounced, it flew like an electric stroke through every countenance in the room, for the gentleman who made the motion held as high an office under the old government as I did under the new, and many other members present held offices under the royal government . . . This whole scene was a comedy to Charles Thomson, whose countenance was in raptures all the time. When all was over, he told me he had been highly delighted with it, because he had been witness to many of their conversations, in which they had endeavored to excite and propagate prejudices against me . . .

He says that in May there were continued altercations in Congress over General Wooster, Commodore Hopkins and a Mr. Wrixon and that “These three consumed an immense quantity of time, and kept up the passions of the parties to a great height. One design was to divert us from our main object.”

The “main object” was a declaration of independence or its equivalent.

As early as January 9th, as shown by the Diary of Richard Smith: “Wilson moved and was strongly supported that the Congress may expressly declare to their Constituents and the World their present Intentions respecting an Independency, observing that the Kings Speech directly charged Us with that Design, he was opposed but Friday was fixed for going into that Affair. Several Members said that if a Foreign Force shall be sent here, they are willing to declare the Colonies in a State of Independent Sovereignty.”

Of this motion, Samuel Adams writes, to John Adams, who, as we have seen, was then on leave of absence: “The Motion alarmed me — I thought Congress had already been explicit enough and was apprehensive that we might get ourselves on dangerous Ground — Some of us prevailed so far as to have the Matter postponed, but could not prevent the assigning a Day to consider it — I may perhaps have been wrong in opposing this Motion, and I ought the rather to suspect it, because the Majority of your Colony as well as of the Congress were of a different Mind[.]”

The Diary of Richard Smith shows also (under the following dates): “[January 24th] most of the Day was spent on a Proposal to address the People of America our Constituents deducing the Controversy ab Initio [fromthe beginning] and informing them of our Transactions and of the present State of Affairs, much was said about Independency and the Mode and Propriety of stating our Dependance on the King, a Com[mittee] was appointed to draw the Address.” “[February 13th] Wilson brought in the Draught of an Address to our Constituents which was very long, badly written and full against Independency [.]” “[February 16th] Wythe also offered Propositions whereof the first was that the Colonies have a Right to contract Alliances with Foreign Powers, an Objection being offered that this was Independency there ensued much Argument upon that Ground . . .” “[February 21st] Wm. Livingston moved that the Thanks of the Congress be given to Dr Smith for his Oration on Gen. Montgomery and that he be desired to make it public, this was objected to for several Reasons the chief was that the Dr declared the Sentiments of the Congress to continue in a Dependency on Grt Britain which Doctrine this Congress cannot now approve, Principal Speakers for the Motion Duane, Wilson, Willing, against it Chase, John Adams, Wythe E Rutledge, Wolcott, Sherman at length Mr Livingston withdrew his Motion.” “[February 29th] 4 Hours were spent in Grand Com[mittee] on Trade without any Conclusion . . . the Points now agitated were the Expediency and Probability of contracting foreign Commercial Alliances and chiefly with France and Spain, and the Advantages and Disadvantages of attempting to carry on Trade in our present Circumstances, much was said about declaring our Independency on Grt Britain when it appeared that 5 or 6 Colonies have instructed their Delegates not to agree to an Independency till they, the Principals are consulted . . .”

Wythe, during the discussions, sometime before March 1st, as shown by John Adams’ debates, declared: “If we should offer our trade to the Court of France, would they take notice of it any more than if Bristol or Liverpool should offer theirs, while we profess to be subjects? No. We must declare ourselves a free people.”

Reed writes, from Philadelphia, to Pettit, March 3d: “I look upon separation from the Mother Country as a certain event, though we are not yet so familiarized to the idea as thoroughly to approve it . . . The Congress are paving the way to a Declaration of Independence, but I believe will not make it until the minds of the people are better prepared for it than as yet they are.”

The important entries on the subject in the Diary of Richard Smith during this month are as follows: “[March 9th] Instructions for the Commissioners] going to Canada . . . took up 3 or 4 Hours . . . that Part recommend’g to them [to] form a Constitution and Government for themselves without Limitation [of] Time which Jay and others said was an Independency and there was much Argument on this Ground[.]” “[March 22d] Wythe reported the Preamble about Privateering, he and Lee moved an Amend! wherein the King was made the Author of our Miseries instead of the Ministry, it was opposed on Supposition that this was effectually severing the King from Us forever and ably debated for 4 Hours when Maryland interposed its Veto and put it off till Tomorrow, Chief Speakers for the Amendment Lee, Chase, Sergeant, Harrison, against it Jay, Wilson, Johnson.”

On the 23d (of March), John Adams, in his letter to Gates, writes: “I agree with you, that in Politicks the Middle Way is none at all . . . We have hitherto conducted half a War, acted upon the Line of Defence &c &c — But you will see by tomorrows Paper, that for the future We are likely to wage three Quarters of a War. — The Continental Ships of War, and Provincial Ships of War, and Letters of Mark and Privateers are permitted to cruise upon British Property, wherever found on the Ocean. This is not Independency you know, nothing like it. If a Post or two more, should bring you unlimited latitude of Trade to all Nations, and a polite Invitation to all nations, to trade with you, take care that you don’t call it, or think it Independency. No such Matter — Independency is an Hobgoblin, of so frightful Mein, that it would throw a delicate Person into Fits to look it in the Face.”

On April 12th, he sends an epistle to his wife in which we read: “The ports are opened wide enough at last, and privateers are allowed to prey upon British trade. This is not independency, you know. What is? Why, government in every colony, a confederation among them all, and treaties with foreign nations to acknowledge us a sovereign State, and all that.”

A letter from him dated two days later says: “As to declarations of independency, be patient. Read our privateering laws and our commercial laws. What signifies a word?”

Had the telegraph then threaded the country as now, he would already have known, by the morning of the 13th, that, while he was writing his wife, North Carolina was, as we have seen, empowering her “Delegates . . . to concur with the Delegates of the other Colonies in declaring Independency . . .”

Less than a month later (May 10th), Congress took into consideration and adopted a resolution ” brought before the Committee of the whole house, in concert between” R. H. Lee and John Adams, which the latter considered “an epocha, a decisive event.”

The words of the resolution, as given in the Journal, were: “That it be recommended to the respective Assemblies and conventions of the united colonies where no government sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs have been hitherto established to adopt such government as shall in the opinion of the representatives of the people best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents in particular and America in general.”

John Adams, Edward Rutledge and R. H. Lee were chosen a committee to prepare a preamble. Their report was agreed to on the 15th, and it was then ordered that both the resolution and the preamble be published. The preamble, as shown by the Journal, declared: “Whereas his Britannic Majesty in conjunction with the lords and commons of great Britain has by a late act of Parliament excluded the inhabitants of these united colonies from the protection of his crown And whereas no answer whatever to the humble petitions of the colonies for redress of grievances & reconciliation with great Britain has been or is likely to be given . . . And whereas … it is necessary that the exercise of every kind of authority under the said crown should be totally suppressed . . .”

Two days later, John Adams writes to his wife: “When I consider the great events which are passed, and those greater which are rapidly advancing, and that I may have been instrumental in touching some springs and turning some small wheels, which have had and will have such effects, I feel an awe upon my mind which is not easily described. Great Britain has at last driven America to the last step: a complete separation from her; a total, absolute independence, not only of her Parliament, but of her Crown, for such is the amount of the resolve of the 15th.” In his Autobiography, he says: “Mr. Duane called it to me, a machine for the fabrication of independence. I said, smiling, I thought it was independence itself, but we must have it with more formality yet.” “It was indeed, on all hands, considered by men of understanding as equivalent to a declaration of independence, though a formal declaration of it was still opposed by Mr. Dickinson and his party.”

Gerry, on the 20th, says, to Warren: “It appears to me that the eyes of every unbeliever are now open; that all are sensible of the perfidy of Great Britain, and are convinced there is no medium between unqualified submission and actual Independency. The Colonies are determined on the latter. A final declaration is approaching with great rapidity. Amidst all our difficulties, you would be highly diverted to see the situation of our ‘moderate gentlemen.’ . . . They are coming over to us . . .”

Indeed, while these letters were travelling northward, Nelson, as we have seen, was on his way to Philadelphia with the resolution of the Convention of Virginia instructing her Delegates to propose to Congress to declare independence. These instructions, as well as those of North Carolina, as we have seen, were laid before Congress on the 27th.

On the 31st, Gerry writes to Joseph Palmer : “The Conviction which ye late Measures of Administration have brought to ye Minds of doubting Persons has such an Effect, that I think yc Colonies cannot long remain an independent depending People, but that they will declare themselves as their Interest & Safety have long required, entirely separated from ye prostituted Government of Grt Britain. Upon this Subject I have wrote to our Friend Col: Orne & beg leave to refer you thereto — The principal object of our attention at this important Time I think should be ye Manufacturing Arms, Lead & Cloathing, & obtaining Flints, for I suppose since ye Measures adopted by North Carolina and Virginia that there cannot remain a Doubt with our Assembly of ye propriety of declaring for Independency and therefore that our Tho’ts will be mostly directed to ye Means for supporting it.”

John Adams also felt at once that the goal was near. “It has ever appeared to me “, he writes to Henry, June 3d, “that the natural course and order of things was this; for every colony to institute a government; for all the colonies to confederate, and define the limits of the continental Constitution; then to declare the colonies a sovereign state, or a number of confederated states; and last of all, to form treaties with foreign powers. But I fear we cannot proceed systematically, and that we shall be obliged to declare ourselves independent States, before we confederate, and indeed before all the colonies have established their governments. It is now pretty clear that all these measures will follow one another in a rapid succession, and it may not perhaps be of much importance which is done first.”
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THOMAS PAINE’S COMMON SENSE (1776): A Prophetic Warning to America

Thomas_PaineQuoteIndependence

NOTE: When I read the excerpt in the picture above it inspires great admiration for the men who (led by God) framed this nation! How great and how awesome they must have felt, they KNEW they were doing it for the glory of God and for his son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Many like Paine, expressed just those sentiments in their writings. They created this nation out of a love and reverence for God, and for their fellow man. If you do not know many of the original founders were against and fought against slavery, even though some owned slaves themselves, they found the practice abhorrent, and due to feeling the need to compromise with two of the southern colonies delegates who would not support it otherwise, Jefferson omitted his anti-slavery paragraph from what became the Declaration of Independence. However in their wisdom, they left that question open, to be answered by later generations of their descendents, who answered; “Indeed! All men are created equal and there will be no slavery amongst US!”

Adding this in preparation for Chapter 3 of  “The Declaration of Independence: Its History”

The entire text of Paine’s “Common Sense” written in 1776

See also: Thomas Paine’s Epistle to Quakers: War of Independence and 2nd Amendment

THOMAS PAINE’S COMMON SENSE: ADDRESSED TO THE INHABITANTS OF AMERICA, ON THE FOLLOWING INTERESTING SUBJECTS, viz.

I. OF THE ORIGIN AND DESIGN OF GOVERNMENT IN GENERAL; WITH CONCISE REMARKS ON THE ENGLISH CONSTITUTION.

II. OF MONARCHY AND HEREDITARY SUCCESSION.

III. THOUGHTS ON THE PRESENT STATE OF AMERICAN AFFAIRS.

IV. OF THE PRESENT ABILITY OF AMERICA; WITH SOME MISCELLANEOUS REFLECTIONS.

TO WHICH IS ADDED AN APPENDIX.

Man knows no master save creating heaven,
Or those whom choice and common good ordain.
                                                                         Thompson.

Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defence of custom. But the tumult soon subsides. Time makes more converts than reason.

As a long and violent abuse of power is generally the means of calling the right of it in question, (and in matters too which might never have been thought of, had not the sufferers been aggravated into the inquiry,) and as the king of England hath undertaken in his own right, to support the parliament in what he calls theirs, and as the good people of this country are grievously oppressed by the combination, they have an undoubted privilege to inquire into the pretensions of both, and equally to reject the usurpations of either.

In the following sheets, the author hath studiously avoided every thing which is personal among ourselves. Compliments as well as censure to individuals make no part thereof. The wise and the worthy need not the triumph of a pamphlet; and those whose sentiments are injudicious or unfriendly, will cease of themselves, unless too much pains is bestowed upon their conversion.

The cause of America is, in a great measure, the cause of all mankind. Many circumstances have, and will arise, which are not local, but universal, and through which the principles of all lovers of mankind are affected, and in the event of which, their affections are interested. The laying a country desolate with fire and sword, declaring war against the natural rights of all mankind, and extirpating the defenders thereof from the face of the earth, is the concern of every man to whom nature hath given the power of feeling; of which class, regardless of party censure, is the AUTHOR.
Philadelphia, Feb. 14, 1776.

Thomas_PaineQuoteCommonSense1

COMMON SENSE.

ON THE ORIGIN AND DESIGN OF GOVERNMENT IN
GENERAL, WITH CONCISE REMARKS ON
THE ENGLISH CONSTITUTION.

Some writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last is a punisher.

Society in every state is a blessing, but government, even in its best state, is but a necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are built upon the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear, uniform and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least. Wherefore, security being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least expence and greatest benefit, is preferable to all others.

In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth, unconnected with the rest, they will then represent the first peopling of any country, or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought. A thousand motives will excite them thereto; the strength of one man is so unequal to his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same. Four or five united, would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling in the midst of a wilderness, but one man might labour out the common period of life without accomplishing any thing; when he had felled his timber he could not remove it, nor erect it after it was removed: hunger in the mean time would urge him from his work, and every different want would call him a different way. Disease, nay even misfortune, would be death, for though neither might be mortal, yet either would disable him from living, and reduce him to a state in which he might rather be said to perish than to die.

Thus necessity, like a gravitating power, would soon form our newly arrived emigrants into society, the reciprocal blessings of which, would supercede, and render the obligations of law and government unnecessary while they remained perfectly just to each other; but as nothing but heaven is impregnable to vice, it will unavoidably happen, that in proportion as they surmount the first difficulties of emigration, which bound them together in a common cause, they will begin to relax in their duty and attachment to each other; and this remissness will point out the necessity of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue.

Some convenient tree will afford them a state-house, under the branches of which the whole colony may assemble to deliberate on public matters. It is more than probable that their first laws will have the title only of Regulation?, and be enforced by no other penalty than public disesteem. In this first parliament every man by natural right will have a seat.

But as the colony increases, the public concerns will increase likewise, and the distance at which the members may be separated, will render it too inconvenient for all of them to meet on every occasion as at first, when their number was small, their habitations near, and the public concerns few and trifling. This will point out the convenience of their consenting to leave the legislative part to be managed by a select number chosen from the whole body, who are supposed to have the same concerns at stake which those have who appointed them, and who will act in the same manner as the whole body would were they present. If the colony continue increasing, it will become necessary to augment the number of representatives, and that the interest of every part of the colony may be attended to, it will be found best to divide the whole into convenient parts, each part sending its proper number; and that the elected might never form to themselves an interest separate from the electors, prudence will point out the propriety of having elections often: because as the elected might by that means return and mix again with the general body of the electors, in a few months, their fidelity to the public will be secured by the prudent reflection of not making a rod for themselves. And as this frequent interchange will establish a common interest with every part of the community, they will mutually and naturally support each other, and on this, (not on the unmeaning name of King,) depends the strength of government and the happiness of the governed.

Here, then, is the origin and rise of government; namely, a mode rendered necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world; here too is the design and end of government, viz. freedom and security. And however our eyes may be dazzled with show, or our ears deceived by sound; however prejudice may warp our wills, or interest darken our understanding, the simple voice of nature and reason will say, it is right.

I draw my idea of the form of government from a principle in nature, which no art can overturn, viz. that the more simple any thing is, the less liable it is to be disordered; and the easier repaired when disordered; and with this maxim in view, I offer a few remarks on the so much boasted constitution of England. That it was noble for the dark and slavish times in which it was erected, is granted. When the world was overrun with tyranny the least remove therefrom was a glorious rescue. But that it is imperfect, subject to convulsions, and incapable of producing what it seems to promise is easily demonstrated.

Absolute governments, (though the disgrace of human nature,) have this advantage with them, that they are simple; if the people suffer, they know the head from which their suffering springs, know likewise the remedy, and are not bewildered by a variety of causes and cures. But the constitution of England is so exceedingly complex, that the nation may suffer for years together without being able to discover in which part the fault lies, some will say in one and some in another, and every political physician will advise a different medicine.

I know it is difficult to get over local or long standing prejudices, yet if we will suffer ourselves to examine the component parts of the English constitution, we shall find them to be the base remains of two ancient tyrannies, compounded with some new republican materials.

  1. —The remains of monarchical tyranny in the person of the king.
  2. —The remains of aristocratical tyranny in the persons of the peers.
  3. —The new republican materials, in the persons of the commons, on whose virtue depends the freedom of England.

The two first, by being hereditary, are independent of the people; wherefore in a constitutional sense they contribute nothing towards the freedom of the state.

To say that the constitution of England is a union of three powers, reciprocally checking each other, is farcical, either the words have no meaning, or they are flat contradictions.

To say that the commons is a check upon the king, presupposes two things.

  1. —That the king is not to be trusted without being looked after, or in other words, that a thirst for absolute power, is the natural disease of monarchy.
  2. —That the commons by being appointed for that purpose, are either wiser or more worthy of confidence than the crown.

But as the same constitution which gives the commons a power to check the king by withholding the supplies, gives afterwards the king a power to check the commons, by empowering him to reject their other bills; it again supposes that the king is wiser than those whom it has already supposed to be wiser than him. A mere absurdity!

There is something exceedingly ridiculous in the composition of monarchy; it first excludes a man from the means of information, yet empowers him to act in cases where the highest judgment is required. The state of a king shuts him from the world, yet the business of a king requires him to know it thoroughly; wherefore the different parts, by unnaturally opposing and destroying each other, prove the whole character to be absurd and useless.

Some writers have explained the English constitution thus the king, say they, is one, the people another; the peers are a house in behalf of the king; the commons in behalf of the people; but this hath all the distinctions of a house divided against itself; [New Testament: Gospel of Mark 3:25] and though the expressions be pleasantly arranged, yet when examined they appear idle and ambiguous; and it will always happen, that the nicest construction that words are capable of, when applied to the description of something which either cannot exist, or is too incomprehensible to be within the compass, of description, will be words of sound only, and though they may amuse the ear, they cannot inform the mind, for this explanation includes a previous question, viz. How came the king by a power which the people are afraid to trust, and always obliged to check? Such a power could not be the gift of a wise people, neither can any power, which needs checking, be from God; yet the provision, which the constitution makes, supposes such a power to exist.

But the provision is unequal to the task; the means either cannot or will not accomplish the end, and the whole affair is a felo de se [A felon of himself; a self-murderer]; for as the greater weight will always carry up the less, and as all the wheels of a machine are put in motion by one, it only remains to know which power in the constitution has the most weight, for that will govern; and though the others, or a part of them, may clog, or, as the phrase is, check the rapidity of its motion, yet so long as they cannot stop it, their endeavours will be ineffectual; the first moving power will at last have its way, and what it wants in speed is supplied by time.

That the crown is this overbearing part in the English constitution needs not be mentioned, and that it derives its whole consequence merely from being the giver of places and pensions is self-evident, wherefore, though we have been wise enough to shut and lock a door against absolute monarchy, we at the same time have been foolish enough to put the crown in possession of the key.

The prejudice of Englishmen, in favour of their own government, by king lords and commons, arises as much or more from national pride than reason. Individuals are undoubtedly safer in England than in some other countries, but the will of the king is as much the law of the land in Britain as in France, with this difference, that instead of proceeding directly from his mouth, it is handed to the people under the formidable shape of an act of parliament. For the fate of Charles the First hath only made kings more subtle—not more just.

Wherefore, laying aside all national pride and prejudice in favour of modes and forms, the plain truth is that it is wholly owing to the constitution of the people, and not the constitution of the government that the crown is not as oppressive in England as in Turkey.

An inquiry into the constitutional errors in the English form of government is at this time highly necessary; for as we are never in a proper condition of doing justice to others, while we continue under the influence of some leading partiality, so neither are we capable of doing it to ourselves while we remain fettered by any obstinate prejudice. And as a man, who is attached to a prostitute, is unfitted to choose or judge of a wife, so any prepossession in favour of a rotten constitution of government will disable us from discerning a good one.

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OF MONARCHY AND HEREDITARY SUCCESSION.

Mankind being originally equals in the order of creation, the equality could only be destroyed by some subsequent circumstance; the distinctions of rich and poor, may in a great measure be accounted for, and that without having recourse to the harsh ill sounding names of avarice and oppression. Oppression is often the consequence, but seldom or never the means of riches; and though avarice will preserve a man from being necessitously poor, it generally makes him too timorous to be wealthy.

But there is another and greater distinction for which no truly natural or religious reason can be assigned, and that is the distinction of men into kings and subjects. Male and female are the distinctions of nature, good and bad, the distinctions of heaven; but how a race of men came into the world so exalted above the rest, and distinguished like some new species, is worth inquiring into, and whether they are the means of happiness or of misery to mankind.

In the early ages of the world, according to the scripture chronology, there were no kings; the consequence of which was there . .were no wars; it is the pride of kings which throws mankind into confusion. Holland, without a king, hath enjoyed more peace for the last century than any of the monarchical governments of Europe. Antiquity favours the same remark; for the quiet and rural lives of the first patriarchs have a happy something in them, which vanishes when we come to the history of Jewish royalty.

Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens [Unbelievers, Athiests, and Pagans], from whom the children of Israel copied the custom. It was the most prosperous invention that was ever set on foot for the promotion of Idolatry. The heathen paid divine honours to their deceased kings, and the Christian world hath improved on the plan by doing the same to their living ones. How impious is the title of sacred majesty applied to a worm, who in the midst of his splendor is crumbling into dust!

As the exalting one man so greatly above the rest, cannot be justified on the equal rights of nature, so neither can it be defended on the authority of Scripture; for the will of the Almighty as declared by Gideon, and the prophet Samuel, expressly disapproves of government by kings. All anti-monarchical parts of Scripture, have been very smoothly glossed over in monarchical governments, but they undoubtedly merit the attention of countries, which have their governments yet to form. Render unto Cesar the things which are Cesar’s, is the scripture doctrine of courts, yet it is no support of monarchical government, for the Jews at that time were without a king, and in a state of vassalage to the Romans.

Near three thousand years passed away from the Mosaic account of the creation, till the Jews, under a national delusion, requested a king. Till then their form of government (except in extraordinary cases, where the Almighty interposed) was a kind of republic, administered by a judge and the elders of the tribes. Kings they had none, and it was held sinful to acknowledge any being under that title but the Lord of Hosts. And when a man seriously reflects on the idolatrous homage which is paid to the persons of kings he need not wonder that the Almighty, ever jealous of his honor, should disapprove a form of government which so impiously invades the prerogative of heaven.

Monarchy is ranked in scripture as one of the sins of the Jews, for which a curse in reserve is denouneed against them. The history of that transaction is worth attending to.

The children of Israel being oppressed by the Midianites, Gideon marched against them with a small army, and victory, through the divine interposition, decided in his favor. The Jews, elate with success, and attributing it to the generalship of Gideon, proposed making him a king, saying, Rule thou over us, Thou and thy son, and thy son’s son. Here was temptation in its fullest extent; not a kingdom only, but an hereditary one, but Gideon in the piety of his soul replied, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you, THE LORD SHALL RULE OVER YOU. Words need not be more explicit; Gideon doth not decline the honor, but denieth their right to give it; neither doth he compliment them with invented declarations of his thanks, but in the positive style of a Prophet charges them with disaffection to their proper Sovereign, the King of heaven.

About one hundred years after this, they fell again into the same error. The hankering which the Jews had for the idolatrous customs of the Heathens, is something exceedingly unaccountable; but so it was, that laying hold of the misconduct of Samuel’s two sons, who were intrusted with some secular concerns, they came in an abrupt and clamorous manner to Samuel, saying, Behold thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways, now make us a king to judge us like all the other nations. And here we cannot but observe that their motives were bad, viz. that they might be like unto other nations, i. e. the Heathen, whereas their true glory lay in being as much unlike them as possible. But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, Give us a king to judge us; and Samuel prayed unto the Lord, and the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee, for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, THAT I SHOULD NOT REIGN OVER THEM. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I bro’t them up out of Egypt, even unto this day; wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other Gods; so do they also unto thee. Now there fore hearken unto their voice, howbeit, protest solemnly unto them and show them the manner of the king that shall reign over them, i. e. not of any particular king, but the general manner of the kings of the earth, whom Israel was so eagerly copying after. And notwithstanding the great distance of time and difference of manners, the character is still in fashion. And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people, that asked of him a king. And he said, This shall be the manner of the king that shall reign over you; he will take your sons and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen, and some shall run before his chariots (this description agrees with the present mode of impressing men) and he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties, and will set them to ear his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots; and he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks and to be bakers (this describes the expense and luxury as well as the oppression of kings) and he will take your fields and your olive yards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants; and he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give them to his officers and to his servants (by which we see that bribery, corruption, and favoritism, are the standing vices of kings) and he will take the tenth of your men servants, and your maid servants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work: and he will take the tenth of your sheep, and ye shall be his servants, and ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall have chosen, AND THE LORD WILL NOT HEAR YOU IN THAT DAY. This accounts for the continuation of monarchy; neither do the characters of the few good kings which have lived since, either sanctify the title, or blot out the sinfulness of the origin: the high encomium given of David takes no notice of him officially as a king, but only as a man after God’s own heart. Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel, and they said, Nay, but we will have a king over us, that we may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us, and go out before us and fight our battles. Samuel continued to reason with them, but to no purpose; he set before them their ingratitude, but all would not avail; and seeing them fully bent on their folly, he cried out, I will call unto the Lord, and he shall send thunder and rain (which was then a punishment, being in the time of wheat harvest, it ruined the crops) that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great which ye have done in the sight of the Lord, IN ASKING YOU A KING. So Samuel called unto the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day, and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel. And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God that we die not, for WE HAVE ADDED UNTO OUR SINS THIS EVIL, TO ASK A KING. These portions of scripture are direct and positive. They admit of no equivocal construction. That the Almighty hath here entered his protest against monarchical government is true, or the scripture is false? And a man hath good reason to believe that there is as much of kingcraft, as priestcraft in withholding the scripture from the public in Popish countries. For monarchy in every instance is the Popery of government.

To the evil of monarchy we have added that of hereditary succession; and as the first is a degradation and lessening of ourselves, so the second, claimed as a matter of right, is an insult and imposition on posterity. For all men being originally equals, no one by birth, could have a right to set up his own family, in perpetual preference to all others for ever, and though himself might deserve some decent degree of honours of his contemporaries, yet his descendants might be far too unworthy to inherit them. One of the strongest natural proofs of the folly of hereditary right in Kings, is that nature disapproves it, otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule, by giving mankind an Ass for a Lion.

Secondly, as no man at first could possess more public honors than were bestowed upon him, so the givers of those honors could have no power to give away the right of posterity, and though they might say “We choose you for our head,” they could not, without manifest injustice to their children, say ” that your children and your children’s children shall reign over ours for ever. Because such an unwise, unjust, unnatural compact might, (perhaps) in the next succession put them under the government of a rogue, or a fool. Most wise men in their private sentiments, have ever treated hereditary right with contempt; yet it is one of those evils, which when once established is not easily removed; many submit from fear, others from superstition, and the more powerful part shares, with the king, the plunder of the rest.

This is supposing the present race of kings in the world to have had an honourable origin ; whereas it is more than probable, that could we take off the dark covering of antiquity, and trace them to their first rise, we should find the first of them nothing better than the principal ruffian of some restless gang, whose savage manners, or pre-eminence in subtilty obtained him the title of chief among plunderers; and who by increasing in power, and extending his depredations, overawed the quiet and defenceless to purchase their safety by frequent contributions. Yet his electors could have no idea of giving hereditary right to his descendants, because such a perpetual exclusion of themselves was incompatible with the free and unrestrained principles they professed to live by. Wherefore, hereditary succession in the early ages of monarchy could not take place as a matter of claim, but as something casual or complimental; but as few or no records were extant in those days, and traditionary history stuffed with fables, it was very easy, after the lapse of a few generations, to trump up some superstitious tale, conveniently timed Mahomet like, to cram hereditary rights down the throats of the vulgar. Perhaps the disorders which threatened, or seemed to threaten, on the decease of a leader and the choice of a new one (for elections among ruffians could not be very orderly) induced many at first to favor hereditary pretensions; by which means it happened, as it hath happened since, that what at first was submitted to as a convenience, was afterwards claimed as a right.

England, since the conquest, hath known some few good monarchs, but groaned beneath a much larger number of bad ones; yet no man in his senses can say that their claim under William the Conqueror is a very honorable one. A French bastard landing with an armed banditti, and establishing himself king of England against the consent of the natives, is in plain terms a very paltry rascally original.—It certainly hath no divinity in it. However, it is needless to spend much time in exposing the folly of hereditary right, if there are any so weak as to believe it, let them promiscuously worship the ass and the lion, and welcome. I shall neither copy their humility, nor disturb their devotion.

Yet I should be glad to ask how they suppose kings came at first? The question admits but of three answers, viz. either by let, by election, or by usurpation. If the first king was taken by lot, it establishes a precedent for the next, which excludes hereditary succession. Saul was by lot, yet the succession was not hereditary, neither does it appear from that transaction that there was any intention it ever should. If the first king of any country was by election, that likewise establishes a precedent for the next; for to say, that the right of all future generations is taken away, by the act of the first electors, in their choice not only of a king, but of a family of kings for ever, hath no parallel in or out of scripture but the doctrine of original sin, which supposes the free will of all men lost in Adam; and from such comparison, and it will admit of no other, hereditary succession can derive no glory. For as in Adam all sinned, and as in the first electors all men obeyed; as in the one all mankind were subjected to Satan, and in the other to sovereignty; as our innocence was lost in the first, and our authority in the last; and as both disable us from re-assuming some former state and privilege, it unanswerably follows that original sin and hereditary succession are parallels. Dishonourable rank! Inglorious connection! Yet the most subtile sophist cannot produce a juster simile.

As to usurpation, no man will be so hardy as to defend it; and that William the Conqueror was an usurper is a fact not to be contradicted. The plain truth is, that the antiquity of English monarchy will not bear looking into.

But it is not so much the absurdity as the evil of hereditary succession which concerns mankind. Did it ensure a race of good and wise men it would have the seal of divine authority, but as it opens a door to the foolish, the wicked, and the improper, it hath in it the nature of oppression. Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout the dominions.

Another evil which attends hereditary succession is, that the throne is subject to be possessed by a minor at any age; all which time the regency acting under the cover of a king, have every opportunity and inducement to betray their trust. The same national misfortune happens, when a king worn out with age and infirmity, enters the last stage of human weakness. In both these cases the public becomes the prey to every miscreant, who can tamper successfully with the follies either of age or infancy.

The most plausible plea, which hath ever been offered in favor of hereditary succession is, that it preserves a nation from civil wars: and were this true, it would be weighty; whereas, it is the most bare-faced falsity ever imposed upon mankind. The whole history of England disowns the fact. Thirty kings and two minors have reigned in that distracted kingdom since the conquest, in which time there have been (including the revolution) no less than eight civil wars and nineteen rebellions. Wherefore instead of making for peace, it makes against it, and destroys the very foundation it seems to stand upon.

The contest for monarchy and succession, between the houses of York and Lancaster, laid England in a scene of blood for many years. Twelve pitched battles, besides skirmishes and sieges, were fought between Henry and Edward, twice was Henry prisoner to Edward, who in his turn was prisoner to Henry. And so uncertain is the fate of war and the temper of a nation, when nothing but personal matters are the ground of a quarrel, that Henry was taken in triumph from a prison to a palace, and Edward obliged to fly from a palace to a foreign land; yet, as sudden transitions of temper are seldom lasting, Henry in his turn was driven from the throne, and Edward re-called to succeed him. The parliament always following the strongest side.

This contest began in the reign of Henry the Sixth, and was not entirely extinguished till Henry the Seventh, in whom the families , were united. Including a period of 67 years, viz. from 1422 to 1489.

In short, monarchy and succession have laid (not this or that kingdom only,) but, the world in blood and ashes. ‘Tis a form of government which the word of God bears testimony against, and blood will attend it.

If we inquire into the business of a king, we shall find (and in some countries they have none) that after sauntering away their lives without pleasure to themselves or advantage to the nation, they withdraw from the scene, and leave their successors to tread the same useless and idle round. In absolute monarchies the whole weight of business, civil and military, lies on the king; the children of Israel in their request for a king urged this plea, “that he may judge us, and go out before us and fight our battles.” But in countries [where] he is neither a judge nor a general, as in England, a man would be puzzled to know what is his business.

The nearer any government approaches to a republic, the less business there is for a king. It is somewhat difficult to find a proper name for the government of England. Sir William Meredith calls it a republic; but in its present state it is unworthy of the name, because the corrupt influence of the crown, by having all the places at its disposal, hath so effectually swallowed up the power, and eaten out the virtue of the house of commons (the republican part in the constitution) that the government of England is nearly as monarchical as that of France or Spain. Men fall out with names without understanding them. For it is the republican and not the monarchical part of the constitution of England which Englishmen glory in, viz. the liberty of choosing a house of commons from out of their own body—and it is easy to see that when republican virtue fails, slavery ensues. Why is the constitution of England sickly, but because monarchy hath poisoned the republic, the crown hath engrossed the commons.

In England a king hath little more to do than to make war and give away places; which, in plain terms, is to impoverish the nation and set it together by the ears. A pretty business indeed for a man to be allowed eight hundred thousand sterling a year for, and worshipped into the bargain! Of more worth is one honest man to society, and in the sight of God, than all the crowned ruffians that ever lived.

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THOUGHTS ON THE PRESENT STATE OF THE AMERICAN AFFAIRS.

IN the following pages I offer nothing more than simple facts, plain arguments, and common sense; and have no other preliminaries to settle with the reader, than that he will divest himself of prejudice and prepossession, and suffer his reason and his feelings to determine for themselves; that he will put on, or rather that he will not put off the true character of a man, and generously enlarge his views beyond the present day.

Volumes have been written on the subject of the struggle between England and America. Men of all ranks have embarked in the controversy, from different motives, and with various designs: but all have been ineffectual, and the period of debate is closed. Arms, as the last resource, must decide the contest; the appeal was the choice of the king, and the continent hath accepted the challenge.

It has been reported of the late Mr. Pelham (who, though an able minister was not without his faults) that on his being attacked in the house of commons, on the score, that his measures were only of a temporary kind, replied ” they will last my time.” Should a thought so fatal and unmanly possess the colonies in the present contest, the name of ancestors will be remembered by future generations with detestation.

The sun never shone on a cause of greater worth. ‘Tis not the affair of a city, a county, a province, or a kingdom, but of a continent—of at least one eighth part of the habitable globe. ‘Tis riot the concern of a day, a year, or an age; posterity are virtually involved in the contest, and will be more or less affected even to the end of time, by the proceedings now. Now is the seed-time of continental union, faith and honor. The least fracture now will be like a name engraved with the point of a pin on the tender rind of a young oak; the wound will enlarge with the tree, and posterity read it in full grown characters.

By referring the matter from argument to arms, a new area for politics is struck; a new method of thinking hath arisen. All plans, proposals, &c. prior to the nineteenth of April, i. e. to the commencement of hostilities, are like the almanacks of last year; which, though proper then, are superceded and useless now. Whatever was advanced by the advocates on either side of the question then, terminated in one and the same point, viz. a union with Great-Britain; the only difference between the parties was the method of effecting it; the one proposing force, the other friendship; but it hath so far happened that the first has failed, and the second has withdrawn her influence.

As much hath been said of the advantages of reconciliation, which, like an agreeable dream, hath passed away and left us as we were, it is but right that we should examine the contrary side of the argument, and inquire into some of the many material injuries which these colonies sustain, and always will sustain, by being connected with and dependant on Great Britain. To examine that connection and dependance, on the principles of nature and common sense, to see what we have to trust to, if separated, and what we are to expect, if dependant.

I have heard it asserted by some, that as America has flourished under her former connexion with Great Britain, the same connexion is necessary towards her future happiness, and will always have the same effect. Nothing can be more fallacious than this kind of argument. We may as well assert that because a child has thrived upon milk, that it is never to have meat, or that the first twenty years of our lives is to become a precedent for the next twenty. But even this is admitting more than is true, for I answer roundly, that America would have flourished as much, and probably much more, had no European power had any thing to do with her. The articles of commerce, by which she has enriched herself, are the necessaries of life, and will always have a market while eating is the custom of Europe.

But she has protected us, say some. That she hath engrossed us is true, and defended the continent at our expense as well as her own, is admitted, and she would have defended Turkey from the same motives, viz. for the sake of trade and dominion.

Alas! we have been long led away by ancient prejudices, and made large sacrifices to superstition. We have boasted the protection of Great Britain, without considering, that her motive was interest not attachment; and that she did not protect us from our enemies on our account, but from her enemies on her own account, from those who had no quarrel with us on any other account, and who will always be our enemies on the same account. Let Britain waive her pretensions to the continent, or the continent throw off the dependance, and we should be at peace with France and Spain, were they at war with Britain. The miseries of Hanover last war ought to warn us against connexions.

It hath lately been asserted in parliament, that the colonies have no relation to each other but through the parent country, i. e. that Pennsylvania and the Jerseys, and so on for the rest, are sister colonies by the way of England; this is certainly a very round-about way of proving relationship, but it is the nearest and only true way of proving enemyship, if I may so call it. France and Spain never were, nor perhaps over will be, our enemies as Americans, but as our being the subjects of Great Britain.

But Britain is the parent country, say some. Then the more shame upon her conduct. Even brutes do not devour their young, nor savages make war upon their families; wherefore the assertion, if true, turns to her reproach; but it happens not to be true, or only partly so, and the phrase parent or mother country hath been jesuitically [practicing casuistry or equivocation; using subtle or oversubtle reasoning; crafty; sly; intriguing] adopted by the king and his parasites, with a low papistical design of gaining an unfair bias on the credulous weakness of our minds. Europe, and not England, is the parent country of America. This new world hath been the asylum for the persecuted lovers of civil and religious liberty from every part of Europe. Hither have they fled, not from the tender embraces of the mother, but from the cruelty of the monster; and it is so far true of England, that the same tyranny which drove the first emigrants from home, pursues their descendants still.

In this extensive quarter of the globe, we forget the narrow limits of three hundred and sixty miles (the extent of England) and carry our friendship on a larger scale; we claim brotherhood with every European Christian, and triumph in the generosity of the sentiment.

It is pleasant to observe by what regular gradations we surmount local prejudices, as we enlarge our acquaintance with the world. A man born in any town in England divided into parishes, will naturally associate most with his fellow parishioners (because their interests in many cases will be common) and distinguish him by the name of neighbor; if he meet him but a few miles from home, he drops the narrow idea of a street, and salutes him by the name of townsman; if he travel out of the county, and meets him in any other, he forgets the minor divisions of street and town, and calls him countryman, i. e. countyman; but if in their foreign excursions they should associate in France or any other part of Europe, their local remembrance would be enlarged into that of Englishmen. And by a just parity of reasoning, all Europeans meeting in America, or any other quarter of the globe, are countrymen; for England, Holland, Germany, or Sweden, when compared with the whole, stand in the same places on the larger scale, which the divisions of street, town, and county do on the smaller one; distinctions too limited for continental minds. Not one third of the inhabitants, even of this province, are of English descent. Wherefore, I reprobate the phrase of parent or mother country applied to England only, as being false, selfish, narrow and ungenerous.

But, admitting that we were all of English descent, what does it amount to? Nothing, Britain, being now an open enemy, extinguishes every other name and title: and to say that reconciliation is our duty, is truly farcical. The first king of England, of the present line (William the Conqueror) was a Frenchman, and half the peers of England are descendants from the same country; wherefore, by the same method of reasoning, England ought to be governed by France.

Much hath been said of the united strength of Britain and the colonies, that in conjunction they might bid defiance to the world. But this is mere presumption; the fate of war is uncertain, neither do the expressions mean any thing; for this continent would never suffer itself to be drained of inhabitants, to support the British arms in either Asia, Africa, or Europe.

Besides, what have we to do with setting the world at defiance? Our plan is commerce, and that, well attended to, will secure us the peace and friendship of all Europe; because it is the interest of all Europe to have America a free port. Her trade will always be a protection, and her barrenness of gold and silver secure her from invaders.

I challenge the warmest advocate for reconciliation, to show a single advantage that this continent can reap, by being connected with Great Britain. I repeat the challenge; not a single advantage is derived. Our corn will fetch its price in any market in Europe, and our imported goods must be paid for, buy them where we will.

But the injuries and disadvantages which we sustain by that connexion, are without number; and our duty to mankind at large, as well as to ourselves, instructs us to renounce the alliance; because, any submission to or dependance on Great Britain, tends directly to involve this continent in European wars and quarrels; and sets us at variance with nations, who would otherwise seek our friendship, and against whom, we have neither anger nor complaint. As Europe is our market for trade, we ought to form no partial connexion with any part of it. It is the true interest of America to steer clear of European contentions, which she never can do, while, by her dependence on Britain, she is made the make-weight in the scale of British politics.

Europe is too thickly planted with kingdoms to be long at peace, and whenever a war breaks out between England and any foreign power, the trade of America goes to ruin, because of her connexion with Britain. The next war may not turn out like the last, and should it not, the advocates for reconciliation now will be wishing for separation then, because, neutrality in that case, would be a safer convoy than a man of war. Every thing that is right or natural pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, ‘tis time to part. Even the distance at which the Almighty hath placed England and America, is a strong and natural proof, that the authority of the one over the other, was never the design of heaven. The time likewise at which the continent was discovered, adds weight to the argument, and the manner in which it was peopled, increases the force of it. The reformation was preceded by the discovery of America, as if the Almighty graciously meant to open a sanctuary to the persecuted in future years, when home should afford neither friendship nor safety.

The authority of Great Britain over this continent, is a form of government, which sooner or later must have an end: and a serious mind can draw no true pleasure by looking forward, under the painful and positive conviction, that what he calls “the present constitution,” is merely temporary. As parents, we can have no joy, knowing that this government is not sufficiently lasting to ensure anything which we may bequeath to posterity and by a plain method of argument, as we are running the next generation into debt, we ought to do the work of it, otherwise we use them meanly and pitifully. In order to discover the line of our duty rightly we should take our children in our hand and fix our station a few years farther into life; that eminence will present a prospect, which a few present fears and prejudices conceal from our sight.

Though I would carefully avoid giving unnecessary offence, yet I am inclined to believe, that all those who espouse the doctrine of reconciliation, [i.e. compromise] may be included within the following descriptions.

Interested men, who are not to be trusted; weak men, who cannot see; prejudiced men, who will not see; and a certain set of moderate men, who think better of the European world than it deserves: and this last class, by an ill-judged deliberation, will be the cause of more calamities to this continent than all the other three.

It is the good fortune of many to live distant from the scene of sorrow; the evil is not sufficiently brought to their doors to make them feel the precariousness with which all American property is possessed. But let our imaginations transport us a few moments to Boston; that seat of wretchedness will teach us wisdom, and instruct us forever to renounce a power in whom we can have no trust. The inhabitants of that unfortunate city, who but a few months ago were in ease and affluence, have now no other alternative than to stay and starve, or turn out to beg. Endangered by the fire of their friends if they continue within the city, and plundered by the soldiery if they leave it. In their present situation they are prisoners without the hope of redemption, and in a general attack for their relief, they would be exposed to the fury of both armies.

Men of passive tempers look somewhat lightly over the offences of Britain, and, still hoping for the best, are apt to call out, “come, come, we shall be friends again for all this.” But examine the passions and feelings of mankind, bring the doctrine of reconciliation to the touchstone of nature, and then tell me, whether you can hereafter love, honor, and faithfully serve the power that hath carried fire and sword unto your land? If you cannot do all these, then are you only deceiving yourselves, and by your delay bringing ruin upon your posterity. Your future connexion with Britain, whom you can neither love nor honor, will be forced and unnatural, and being formed only on the plan of present convenience, will in a little time fall into a relapse more wretched than the first. But if you say, you can still pass the violations over, then I ask, hath your house been burnt? Hath your property been destroyed before your face? Are your wife and children destitute of a bed to lie on, or bread to live on?Have you lost a parent or a child by their hands, and yourself the ruined and wretched survivor? If you have not, then are you not a judge of those who have. But if you have, and can still shake hands with the murderers, then are you unworthy the name of husband, father, friend, or lover, and whatever may be your rank or title in life, you have the heart of a coward, and the spirit of a sycophant. [This last sounds as if he were talking about RINO republicans]

This is not inflaming or exaggerating matters, but trying them by those feelings and affections which nature justifies, and without which, we should be incapable of discharging the social duties of life, or enjoying the felicities of it. I mean not to exhibit horror for the purpose of provoking revenge, but to awaken us from fatal and unmanly slumbers, that we may pursue determinately some fixed object. It is not in the power of Britain or of Europe to conquer America, if she does not conquer herself by delay and timidity. The present winter is worth an age if lightly employed, but if lost or neglected, the whole continent will partake of the misfortune; and there is no punishment which that man will not deserve, be he who, or what, or where he will, that may be the means of sacrificing a season so precious and useful.

It is repugnant to reason, and the universal order of things, to all examples from former ages, to suppose that this continent can longer remain subject to any external power. The most sanguine in Britain, do not think so. The utmost stretch of human wisdom cannot, at this time, compass a plan short of separation, which can promise the continent even a year’s security. Reconciliation is now a fallacious dream. Nature hath deserted the connexion, and art cannot supply her place. For, as Milton wisely expresses, “never can true reconcilement grow, where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep.”

Every quiet method for peace hath been ineffectual. Our prayers have been rejected with disdain: and only tended to convince us, that nothing flatters vanity, or confirms obstinacy in kings more than repeated petitioning—nothing hath contributed more than this very measure to make the kings of Europe absolute: witness Denmark and Sweden. Wherefore, since nothing but blows will do, for God’s sake let us come to a final separation, and not leave the next generation to be cutting throats, under the violated unmeaning names of parent and child.

To say they will never attempt it again, is idle and visionary; we thought so at the repeal of the stamp act, yet a year or two undeceived us: as well may we suppose that nations, which have been once defeated, will never renew the quarrel.

As to government matters, it is not in the power of Britain to do this continent justice: the business of it will soon be too weighty and intricate to be managed with any tolerable degree of convenience, by a power so distant from us, and so very ignorant of us; for if they cannot conquer us, they cannot govern us. To be always running three or four thousand miles with a tale or a petition, waiting four or five months for an answer, which, when obtained, requires five or six more to explain it in, will in a few years be looked upon as folly and childishness—there was a time when it was proper, and there is a proper time for it to cease.

Small islands, not capable of protecting themselves, are the proper objects for kingdoms to take under their care; but there is something absurd, in supposing a continent to be perpetually governed by an island. In no instance hath nature made the satellite larger than its primary planet; and as England and America, with respect to each other, reverses the common order of nature, it is evident that they belong to different systems. England to Europe—America to itself.

I am not induced by motives of pride, party, or resentment, to espouse the doctrine of separation and independence; I am clearly, positively, and conscientiously persuaded that it is the true interest of this continent to be so; that every thing short of that is mere patchwork; that it can afford no lasting felicity,— that it is leaving the sword to our children, and shrinking back at a time, when, going a little further, would have rendered this continent the glory of the earth.

As Britain hath not manifested the least inclination towards a compromise, we may be assured that no terms can be obtained worthy the acceptance of the continent, or any ways equal to the expense of blood and treasure we have been already put to.

The object contended for, ought always to bear some just proportion to the expense. The removal of North, or the whole detestable junto, is a matter unworthy the millions we have expended. A temporary stoppage of trade, was an inconvenience, which would have sufficiently balanced the repeal of all the acts complained of, had such repeals been obtained; but if the whole continent must take up arms, if every man must be a soldier, it is scarcely worth our while to fight against a contemptible ministry only. Dearly, dearly do we pay for the repeal of the acts, if that is all we fight for; for, in a just estimation, it is as great a folly to pay a Bunker-hill price for law as for land. I have always considered the independency of this continent, as an event which sooner or later must take place, and, from the late rapid progress of the continent to maturity, the event cannot be far off. Wherefore, on the breaking out of hostilities, it was not worth the while to have disputed a matter which time would have finally redressed, unless we meant to be in earnest; otherwise, it is like wasting an estate on a suit at law, to regulate the trespasses of a tenant, whose lease is just expiring. No man was a warmer wisher for a reconciliation than myself, before the fatal nineteenth of April, 1775 [Massacre at Lexington], but the moment the event of that day was made known, I rejected the hardened, sullen-tempered Pharoah of England for ever; and disdain the wretch, that with the pretended title of Father of his people, can unfeelingly hear of their slaughter, and composedly sleep with their blood upon his soul.

But admitting that matters were now made up, what would be the event? I answer, the ruin of the continent; And that for several reasons.

1st, The powers of governing still remaining in the hands of the king, he will have a negative over the whole legislation of this continent. And as he hath shown himself such an inveterate enemy to liberty, and discovered such a thirst for arbitrary power: is he, or is he not, a proper person to say to these colonies, “you shall make no laws but what I please.” And is there any inhabitant of America so ignorant as not to know, that according to what is called the present constitution, this continent can make no laws but what the king gives leave to?and is there any man so unwise as not to see, that (considering what has happened) he will suffer no law to be made here, but such as suits his purpose?We may be as effectually enslaved by the want of laws in America, as by submitting to laws made for us in England. After matters are made up (as it is called) can there be any doubt, but the whole power of the crown will be exerted, to keep this continent as low and humble as possible?Instead of going forward we shall go backward, or be perpetually quarrelling, or ridiculously petitioning.—We are already greater than the king wishes us to be, and will he not hereafter endeavor to make us less? To bring the matter to one point, Is the power who is jealous of our prosperity, a proper power to govern us? Whoever says No, to this question, is an independent, for independency means no more than this, whether we shall make our own laws, or, whether the king, the greatest enemy which this continent hath, or can have, shall tell us “there shall be no laws but such as I like.”

But the king, you will say, has a negative in England; the people there can make no laws without his consent. In point of right and good order, it is something very ridiculous, that a youth of twenty-one (which hath often happened) shall say to several millions of people, older and wiser than himself, I forbid this or that act of yours to be law. But in this place I decline this sort of reply, though I will never cease to expose the absurdity of it; and only answer, that England being the king’s residence, and America not, makes quite another case. The king’s negative here is ten times more dangerous and fatal than it can be in England; for there he will scarcely refuse his consent to a bill for putting England into as strong a state of defence as possible, and in America he would never suffer such a bill to be passed.

America is only a secondary object in the system of British politics—England consults the good of this country no further than it answers her own purpose. Wherefore, her own interest leads her to suppress the growth of ours in every case which doth not promote her advantage, or in the least interferes with it. A pretty state we should soon be in under such a second-hand government, considering what has happened! Men do not change from enemies to friends, by the alteration of a name: and in order to show that reconciliation now is a dangerous doctrine, I affirm, that it would be policy in the king at this time, to repeal the acts, for the sake of reinstating himself in the government of the provinces; in order that he may accomplish by craft and subtlety, in the long run, what he cannot do by force in the short one. Reconciliation and ruin are nearly related.

2dly, That as even the best terms, which we can expect to obtain, can amount to no more than a temporary expedient, or a kind of government by guardianship, which can last no longer than till the colonies come of age, so the general face and state of things, in the interim, will be unsettled and unpromising. Emigrants of property will not choose to come to a country whose form of government hangs but by a thread, and which is every day tottering on the brink of commotion and disturbance; and numbers of the present inhabitants would lay hold of the interval, to dispose of their effects, and quit the continent.

But the most powerful of all arguments, is, that nothing but independence, i. e. a continental form of government, can keep the peace of the continent and preserve it inviolate from civil wars. I dread the event of a reconciliation with Britain now, as it is more than probable that it will be followed by a revolt somewhere or other, the consequences of which may be far more fatal than all the malice of Britain.

Thousands are already ruined by British barbarity. (Thousands more will probably suffer the same fate.) Those men have other feelings than us who have nothing suffered. All they now possess is liberty, what they before enjoyed is sacrificed to its service, and having nothing more to lose, they disdain submission. Besides, the general temper of the colonies, towards a British government, will be like that of a youth, who is nearly out of his time; they will care very little about her. And a government which cannot preserve the peace, is no government at all, and in that case we pay our money for nothing; and pray what is it that Britain can do, whose power will be wholly on paper, should a civil tumult break out the very day after reconciliation?I have heard some men say, many of whom I believe spoke without thinking, that they dreaded an independence, fearing that it would produce civil wars. It is but seldom that our first thoughts are truly correct, and that is the case here; for there is ten times more to dread from a patched up connexion than from independence. I make the sufferer’s case my own, and I protest, that were I driven from house and home, my property destroyed, and my circumstances ruined, that as a man, sensible of injuries, I could never relish the doctrine of reconciliation, or consider myself bound thereby.

The colonies have manifested such a spirit of good order and obedience to continental government, as is sufficient to make every reasonable person easy and happy on that head. No man can assign the least pretence for his fears, on any other grounds, than such as are truly childish and ridiculous, viz. that one colony will be striving for superiority over another.

Where there are no distinctions there can be no superiority; perfect equality affords no temptation. The republics of Europe arc all (and we may say always) in peace. Holland and Switzerland are without wars, foreign or domestic: monarchical governments, it is true, are never long at rest: the crown itself is a temptation to enterprising ruffians at home; and that degree of pride and insolence ever attendant on regal authority, swells into a rupture with foreign powers, in instances where a republican government, by being formed on more natural principles, would negotiate the mistake.

If there is any true cause of fear respecting independence, it is because no plan is yet laid down. Men do not see their way out, wherefore, as an opening into that business, I offer the following hints; at the same time modestly affirming, that I have no other opinion of them myself, than that they may be the means of giving rise to something better. Could the straggling thoughts of individuals be collected, they would frequently form materials for wise and able men to improve into useful matter.

Let the assemblies be annual, with a president only. The representation more equal. Their business wholly domestic, and subject to the authority of a continental congress.

Let each colony be divided into six, eight, or ten, convenient districts, each district to send a proper number of delegates to congress, so that each colony send at least thirty. The whole number in congress will be at least three hundred and ninety.

Each congress to sit and to choose a president by the following method. When the delegates are met, let a colony be taken from the whole thirteen colonies by lot, after which, let the congress choose (by ballot) a president from out of the delegates of that province. In the next congress, let a colony be taken by lot from twelve only, omitting that colony from which the president was taken in the former congress, and so proceeding on till the whole thirteen shall have had their proper rotation. And in order that nothing may pass into a law but what is satisfactorily just, not less than three-fifths of the congress to be called a majority. He that will promote discord, under a government so equally formed as this, would have joined Lucifer in his revolt.

But as there is a peculiar delicacy, from whom, or in what manner, this business must first arise, and as it seems most agreeable and consistent, that it should come from some intermediate body between the governed and the governors, that is, between the congress and the people, let a Continental Conference be held, in the following manner, and for the following purpose,

A committee of twenty-six members of congress, viz. two for each colony. Two members from each house of assembly, or provincial convention; and five representatives of the people at large, to be chosen in the capital city or town of each province, for, and in behalf of the whole province, by as many qualified voters as shall think proper to attend from all parts of the province for that purpose; or, if more convenient, the representatives may be chosen in two or three of the most populous parts thereof. In this conference, thus assembled, will be united, the two grand principles of business, knowledge and power. The members of congress, assemblies, or conventions, by having had experience in national concerns, will be able and useful counsellors, and the whole, being empowered by the people, will have a truly legal authority.

The conferring members being met, let their business be to frame a Continental Charter, or Charter of the United Colonies; (answering to what is called the Magna Charta of England) fixing the number and manner of choosing members of congress, and members of assembly, with their date of sitting, and drawing the line of business and jurisdiction between them: (always remembering, that our strength is continental, not provincial) securing freedom and property to all men, and above all things, the free exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; with such other matter as it is necessary for a charter to contain. Immediately after which, the said conference to dissolve, and the bodies which shall be chosen conformable to the said charter, to be the legislators and governors of this continent for the time being: whose peace and happiness, may God preserve, Amen.

Should any body of men be hereafter delegated for this or some similar purpose, I offer them the following extracts from that wise observer on governments, Dragonetti. “The science,” says he, “of the politician consists in fixing the true point of happiness and freedom. Those men would deserve the gratitude of ages, who should discover a mode of government that contained the greatest sum of individual happiness, with the least national expense.”

But where, say some, is the king of America?I’ll tell you, friend, he [Jesus] reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the royal brute of Britain. Yet that we may not appear to be defective even in earthly honors, let a day be solemnly set apart for proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God; let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of monarchy, that in America the law is king. For as in absolute governments the king is law, so in free countries the law ought to be king; and there ought to be no other. But lest any ill use should afterwards arise, let the crown lit the conclusion of the ceremony be demolished, and scattered among the people whose right it is.

A government of our own is our natural right: and when a man seriously reflects on the precariousness of human affairs, he will become convinced, that it is infinitely wiser and safer, to form a constitution of our own in a cool deliberate manner, while we have it in our power, than to trust such an interesting event to time and chance. If we omit it now, some Massanello* may hereafter arise, who, laying hold of popular disquietudes, may collect together the desperate and the discontented, and by assuming to themselves the powers of government, finally sweep away the liberties of the continent like a deluge. Should the government of America return again into the hands of Britain, the tottering situation of things will be a temptation for some desperate adventurer to try his fortune; and in such a case, what relief can Britain give? Ere she could hear the news, the fatal business might be done; and ourselves suffering like the wretched Britons under the oppression of the Conqueror. Ye that oppose independence now, ye know not what ye do; ye are opening a door to eternal tyranny, by keeping vacant the seat of government. There are thousands and tens of thousands, who would think it glorious to expel from the continent, that barbarous and hellish power, which hath stirred up the Indians and negroes to destroy us—the cruelty hath a double guilt, it is dealing brutally by us, and treacherously by them.

[* Thomas Aneilo, otherwise Massanello, a fisherman of Naples, who after spiriting up his countrymen in the public market place, against the oppression of the Spaniards, to whom the place was then subject, prompted them to revolt, and in the space of a day became king.]

To talk of friendship with those in whom our reason forbids us to have faith, and our affections, wounded through a thousand pores, instruct us to detest, is madness and folly. Every day wears out the little remains of kindred between us and them; and can there be any reason to hope, that as the relationship expires, the affection will increase, or that we shall agree better when we have ten times more and greater concerns to quarrel over than ever?

Ye that tell us of harmony and reconciliation, can ye restore to us the time that is past? Can ye give to prostitution its former innocence? Neither can ye reconcile Britain and America. The last cord now is broken, the people of England are presenting addresses against us. There are injuries which nature cannot forgive; she would cease to be nature if she did. As well can the lover forgive the ravisher of his mistress, as the continent forgives the murders of Britain. The Almighty hath implanted in us these unextinguishable feelings, for good and wise purposes. They are the guardians of his image in our hearts, and distinguish us from the herd of common animals. The social compact would dissolve, and justice be extirpated from the earth, or have only a casual existence were we callous to the touches of affection. The robber, and the murderer, would often escape unpunished, did not the injuries which our tempers sustain, provoke us into justice.

O! ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been haunted round the globe. Asia, and Africa, have long expelled her. Europe regards her like a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and prepare in time an asylum for mankind.

OF THE PRESENT ABILITY OF AMERICA: WITH SOME MISCELLANEOUS REFLECTIONS.

I Have never met with a man, either in England or America, who hath not confessed his opinion, that a separation between the countries would take place one time or other: and there is no instance, in which we have shown less judgment, than in endeavoring to describe, what we call, the ripeness or fitness of the continent for independence.

As all men allow the measure, and vary only in their opinion of the time, let us, in order to remove mistakes, take a general survey of things, and endeavor, if possible, to find out the very time. But we need not go far, the inquiry ceases at once, for, the time hath found us. The general concurrence, the glorious union of all things proves the fact.

It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies; yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world. The continent hath, at this time, the largest body of armed and disciplined men of any power under heaven; and is just arrived at that pitch of strength, in which, no single colony is able to support itself, and the whole, when united, can accomplish the matter, and either more, or less than this, might be fatal in its effects. Our land force is already sufficient, and as to naval affairs, we cannot be insensible that Britain would never suffer an American man of war to be built, while the continent remained in her hands. Wherefore, we should be no forwarder an hundred years hence in that branch, than we are now; but the truth is, we should be less so, because the timber of the country is every day diminishing, and that which will remain at last, will be far off or difficult to procure.

Were the continent crowded with inhabitants, her sufferings under the present circumstances would be intolerable. The more seaport-towns we had, the more should we have both to defend and to lose. Our present numbers are so happily proportioned to our wants, that no man need be idle. The diminution of trade affords an army, and the necessities of an army create a new trade. Debts we have none: and whatever we may contract on this account will serve as a glorious memento of our virtue. Can we but leave posterity; with settled form of government, an independent constitution of its own, the purchase at any price will be cheap. But to expend millions for the sake of getting a few vile acts repealed, and routing the present ministry only, is unworthy the charge, and is using posterity with the utmost cruelty; because it is leaving them the great work to do, and a debt upon their backs, from which they derive no advantage. Such a thought is unworthy a man of honor, and is the true characteristic of a narrow heart and a peddling politician.

The debt we may contract doth not deserve our regard, if the work be but accomplished. No nation ought to be without a debt. A national debt is a national bond; and,when it bears no interest, is in no case a grievance. Britain is oppressed with a debt of upwards of one hundred and forty millions sterling, for which she pays upwards of four millions interest. And as a compensation for her debt, she has a large navy; America is without a debt, and without a navy; yet for the twentieth part of the English national debt, could have a navy as large again. The navy of England is not worth, at this time, more than three millions and a half sterling.

The following calculations are given as a proof that the above estimation of the navy is a just one. [See Entick’s Naval History, Intro, p. 56.]

The charge of building a ship of each rate, and furnishing her with masts, yards, sails, and rigging, together with a proportion of eight months boatswain’s and carpenter’s sea-stores, as calculated by Mr. Burchett, secretary to the navy.

For a ship of 100 guns, – – 35,6531.
90,- – 29,886
80,- – 23,638
70,- – 17,785
60,- – 14,197
50,- – 10,606
40 – – – 7,558
30,- – 5,846
20,- – 3,710

And hence it is easy to sum up the value, or cost, rather, of the whole British navy, which, in the year 1757, when it was at its greatest glory, consisted of the following ships and guns.

BritishShip1757

No country on the globe is so happily situated, or so internally capable of raising a fleet as America. Tar, timber, iron, and cordage are her natural produce. We need go abroad for nothing. Whereas the Dutch, who make large profits by hiring out their ships of war to the Spaniards and Portuguese, are obliged to import most of the materials they use. We ought to view the building a fleet as an article of commerce it being the natural manufacture of this country. It is the best money we can lay out. A navy when finished is worth more than it cost: and is that nice point in national policy, in which commerce and protection are united. Let us build; if we want them not, we can sell; and by that means replace our paper currency with ready gold and silver.

In point of manning a fleet, people in general run into great errors; it is not necessary that one-fourth part should be sailors. The privateer Terrible, captain Death, stood the hottest engagement of any ship last war, yet had not twenty sailors on board, though her complement of men was upwards of two hundred. A few able and social sailors will soon instruct a sufficient number of active landsmen in the common work of a ship. Wherefore, we never can be more capable of beginning on maritime matters than now, while our timber is standing, our fisheries blocked up, and our sailors and shipwrights out of employ. Men of war, of seventy and eighty guns, were built forty years ago in New England, and why not the same now? Ship building is America’s greatest pride, and in which she will, in time, excel the whole world. The great empires of the east are mostly inland, and consequently excluded from the possibility of rivalling her. Africa is in a state of barbarism; and no power in Europe, hath either such an extent of coast, or such an internal supply of materials. Where nature hath given the one, she hath withhelt the other; to America only hath she been liberal of both. The vast empire of Russia is almost shut out from the sea; wherefore, her boundless forests, her tar, iron, and cordage are only articles of commerce.

In point of safety, ought we to be without a fleet? We are not the little people now, which we were sixty years ago; at that time we might have trusted our property in the streets, or fields rather; and slept securely without locks or bolts to our doors or windows. The case is now altered, and our methods of defence ought to improve with, our increase of property. A common pirate, twelve months ago, might have come up the Delaware, and laid this city under contribution for what sum he pleased; and the same might have happened to other places. Nay, any daring fellow, in a brig of fourteen or sixteen guns, might have robbed the whole continent, and carried off half a million of money. These are circumstances which demand our attention, and point out the necessity of naval protection.

Some perhaps, will say, that after we have made it up with Britain, she will protect us. Can they be so unwise as to mean, that she will keep a navy in our harbors for that purpose?Common sense will tell us, that the power which hath endeavored to subdue us, is of all others, the most improper to defend us. Conquest may be effected under the pretence of friendship; and Ourselves, after a long and brave resistance, be at last cheated into slavery. And if her ships are not to be admitted into our harbors, I would ask, how is she to protect us? A navy three or four thousand miles off can be of little use, and on sudden emergencies, none at all. Wherefore, if we must hereafter protect ourselves, why not do it for ourselves? Why do it for another?

The English list of ships of war, is long and formidable, hut not a tenth part of them are at any one time fit for service, numbers of them are not in being; yet their names are pompously continued in the list, if only a plank be left of the ship; and not a fifth part of such as are fit for service, can be spared on any one station at one time. The East and West Indies, Mediterranean, Africa, and other parts of the world, over which Britain extends her claim, make large demands upon her navy. From a mixture of prejudice and inattention, we have contracted a false notion respecting the navy of England, and have talked as if we should have the whole of it to encounter at once, and, for that reason, supposed that we must have one as large; which not being instantly practicable, has been made use of by a set of disguised Tories to discourage our beginning thereon. Nothing can be further from truth than this; for if America had only a twentieth part of the naval force of Britain, she would be by far an over match for her; because, as we neither have, nor claim any foreign dominion, our whole force would be employed on our own coast, where we should, in the long run, have two to one the advantage of those who had three or four thousand miles to sail over, before they could attack us, and the same distance to return in order to refit and recruit. And although Britain, by her fleet, hath a check over our trade to Europe, we have as large a one over her trade to the West Indies, which, by laying in the neighborhood of the continent, is entirely at its mercy.

Some method might be fallen on to keep up a naval force in time of peace, if we should not judge it necessary to support a constant navy. If premiums were to be given to merchants, to build and employ in their service, ships mounted with twenty, thirty, forty, or fifty guns, (the premiums to be in proportion to the loss of bulk to the merchants,) fifty or sixty of those ships with a few guardships on constant duty, would keep up a sufficient navy, and that without burdening ourselves with the evil so loudly complained of in England, of suffering their fleet in time of peace, to lie rotting in the docks. To unite the sinews of commerce and defence is sound policy; for when our strength and our riches play into each other’s hand, we need fear no external enemy.

In almost every article of defence we abound. Hemp flourishes even to rankness, so that we need not want cordage. Our iron is superior to that of other countries. Our small arms equal to any in the world. Cannon we can cast at pleasure. Saltpetre and gunpowder we are every day producing. Our knowledge is hourly improving. Resolution is our inherent character, and courage hath never yet forsaken us. Wherefore, what is it that we want? Why is it that we hesitate? From Britain we can expect nothing but ruin. If she is once admitted to the government of America again, this continent will not be worth living in. Jealousies will be always arising, insurrections will be constantly happening; and who will go forth to quell them?Who will venture his life to reduce his own countrymen to a foreign obedience? The difference between Pennsylvania and Connecticut, respecting some unlocated lands, shows the insignificance of a British government, and fully proves that nothing but continental authority can regulate continental matters.

Another reason why the present time is preferable to all others, is, that the fewer our numbers are, the more land there is yet unoccupied, which, instead of being lavished by the king on his worthless dependants, may be hereafter applied, not only to the discharge of the present debt, but to the constant support of government. No nation under heaven hath such an advantage as this.

The infant state of the colonies, as it is called, so far from being against, is an argument in favor of independence. We are sufficiently numerous, and were we more so we might be less united. It is a matter worthy of observation, that the more a country is peopled, the smaller their armies are. In military numbers, the ancients far exceeded the moderns : and the reason is evident, for trade being the consequence of population, men became too much absorbed thereby to attend to anything else. Commerce diminishes the spirit both of patriotism and military defence. And history sufficiently informs us, that the bravest achievements were always accomplished in the non-age of a nation. With the increase of commerce England hath lost its spirit. The city of London, notwithstanding its numbers, submits to continued insults with the patience of a coward. The more men have to lose, the less willing are they to venture. The rich are in general slaves to fear, and submit to courtly power with the trembling duplicity of a spaniel.

Youth is the seed-time of good habits, as well in nations as in individuals. It might be difficult, if not impossible, to form the continent into one government half a century hence. The vast variety of interests, occasioned by an increase of trade and population, would create confusion, Colony would be against colony. Each being able, might scorn each other’s assistance: and while the proud and foolish gloried in their little distinctions, the wise would lament that the union had not been formed before. Wherefore the present time is the true time for establishing it. The intimacy which is contracted in infancy, and the friendship which is formed in misfortune, are, of all others, the most lasting and unalterable, Our present union is marked with both these characters we are young, and we have been distressed; but our concord hath withstood our troubles, and fixes a memorable era for posterity to glory in.

The present time, likewise, is that peculiar time which never happens to a nation but once, viz. the time of forming itself into a government. Most nations have let slip the opportunity, and by that means have been compelled to receive laws from their conquerors, instead of making laws for themselves. First, they had a king, and then a form of government; whereas the articles or charter of government, should be formed first, and men delegated to execute them afterwards: but from the errors of other nations, let us learn wisdom, and lay hold of the present opportunity—to begin government at the right end.

When William the Conqueror subdued England, he gave them law at the point of the sword; and, until we consent that the seat of government in America be legally and authoritatively occupied, we shall be in danger of having it filled by some fortunate ruffian. Who may treat us in the same manner, and then, where will be our freedom? where our property?

As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of all governments, to protect all conscientious professors thereof, and I know of no other business which government hath to do therewith. Let a man throw aside that narrowness of soul, that selfishness of principle, which the niggards of all professions are so unwilling to part with, and he will be at once delivered of his fears on that head. Suspicion is the companion of mean souls, and the bane of all good society. For myself, I fully and conscientiously believe, that it is the will of the Almighty, that there should be a diversity of religious opinions among us: it affords a larger field for our Christian kindness. Were we all of one way of thinking, our religious dispositions would want matter for probation; and on this liberal principle, I look on the various denominations among us, to be like children of the same family, differing only in what is called their Christian names.

In a former page, I threw out a few thoughts on the propriety of a Continental Charter (for I only presume to offer hints, not plans) and in this place, I take the liberty of re-mentioning the subject, by observing, that a charter is to be understood as a bond of solemn obligation, which the whole enters into, to support the right of every separate part, whether of religion, personal- freedom, or property. A firm bargain and a right reckoning make long friends.

I have heretofore likewise mentioned the necessity of a large and equal representation; and there is no political matter which more deserves our attention. A small number of electors, or a small number of representatives, are equally dangerous. But if the number of the representatives be not only small, but unequal, the danger is increased. As an instance of this, I mention the following; when the associators petition was before the house of assembly of Pennsylvania, twenty-eight members only were present; all the Bucks county members, being eight, voted against it, and had seven of the Chester members done the same, this whole province had been governed by two counties only; and this danger it is always exposed to. The unwarrantable stretch likewise, which that house made in their last sitting, to gain an undue authority over the delegates of this province, ought to warn the people at large, how they trust power out of their own hands. A set of instructions for their delegates were put together, which in point of sense and business would have dishonoured a school-boy, and after being approved by a few, a very few, without doors, were carried into the house, and there passed in behalf of the whole colony; whereas, did the whole colony know with what ill will that house had entered on some necessary public measures, they would not hesitate a moment to think them unworthy of such a trust.

Immediate necessity makes many things convenient, which if continued would grow into oppressions. Expedience and right are different things. When the calamities of America required a consultation, there was no method so ready, or at that time so proper, as to appoint persons from the several houses of assembly for that purpose; and the wisdom with which they have proceeded hath preserved this continent from ruin. But as it is more than probable that we shall never be without a Congress, every well-wisher to good order must own, that the mode for choosing members of that body, deserves consideration. And I put it as a question to those, who make a study of mankind, whether representation and election is not too great a power for one and the same body of men to possess? Whenever we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember that virtue is not hereditary.

It is from our enemies that we often gain excellent maxims, and are frequently surprised into reason by their mistakes. Mr. Cornwall (one of the lords of the treasury) treated the petition of the New-York assembly with contempt, because that house, he said, consisted but of twenty-six members, which trifling number, he argued, could not with decency be put for the whole. We thank him for his involuntary honesty.* [*Those who would fully understand of what great consequence a large and equal representation is to a state, should read Burgh’s Political Disquisitions.]

To conclude. However strange it may appear to some, or however unwilling they may be to think so, matters not, but many strong and striking reasons may be given, to show, that nothing can-settle our affairs so expeditiously as an open and determined declaration for independence. Some of which are,

1st, It is the custom of nations, when any two are at war, for some other powers, not engaged in the quarrel, to step in as mediators, and bring about the preliminaries of a peace; but while America calls herself the subject of Britain, no power, however well disposed she may be, can offer her mediation. Wherefore, in our present state, we may quarrel on for ever.

2d, It is unreasonable to suppose, that France or Spain will give us any kind of assistance, if we mean only to make use of that assistance for the purpose of repairing the breach, and strengthening the connexion between Britain and America; because, those powers would be sufferers by the consequences.

3d, While we profess ourselves the subjects of Britain, we must, in the eyes of foreign nations, be considered as rebels. The precedent is somewhat dangerous to their peace, for men to be in arms under the name of subjects; we, on the spot, can solve the paradox: but to unite resistance and subjection, requires an idea much too refined for common understanding.

4th, Should a manifesto be published, and dispatched to foreign courts, setting forth the miseries we have endured, and the peaceful methods which we have ineffectually used for redress; declaring at the same time, that not being able, any longer, to live happily or safely under the cruel disposition of the British court, we had been driven to the necessity of breaking off all connexion with her; at the same time, assuring all such courts of our peaceable disposition towards them, and of our desire of entering into trade with them. Such a memorial would produce more good effects to this continent, than if a ship were freighted with petitions to Britain.

Under our present denomination of British subjects, we can neither be received nor heard abroad: the custom of all courts is against us, and will be so, until, by an independence, we take rank with other nations.

These proceedings may at first appear strange and difficult; but like all other steps, which we have already passed over, will in a little time become familiar and agreeable; and, until an independence is declared, the continent will feel itself like a man who continues putting off some unpleasant business from day to day, yet knows it must be done, hates to set about it, wishes it over, and is continually haunted with the thoughts of its necessity.

Since the publication of the first edition of this pamphlet, or rather, on the same day on which it came out, the king’s speech made its appearance in this city. Had the spirit of prophecy directed the birth of this production, it could not have brought it forth at a more seasonable juncture, or at a more necessary time. The bloody-mindedness of the one, shows the necessity of pursuing the doctrine of the other. Men read by way of revenge:—and the speech, instead of terrifying, prepared a way for the manly principles of independence.

Ceremony, and even silence, from whatever motives they may arise, have a hurtful tendency, when they give the least degree of countenance to base and wicked performances; wherefore, if this maxim be admitted, it naturally follows, that the king’s speech, as being a piece of finished villany, deserved and still deserves, a general execration, both by the congress and the people. Yet, as the domestic tranquillity of a nation, depends greatly on the chastity of what may properly be called national manners, it is often better to pass some things over in silent disdain, than to make use of such new methods of dislike, as might introduce the least innovation on that guardian of our peace and safety. And, perhaps, it is chiefly owing to this prudent delicacy, that the king’s speech hath not before now suffered a public execution. The speech, if »Vmay be called one, is nothing better than a willful audacious libel against the truth, the common good, and the existence of mankind; and is a formal and pompous method of offering up human sacrifices to the pride of tyrants. But this general massacre of mankind, is one of the privileges and the certain consequences of kings; for as nature knows them not, they know not her, and although they are beings of our men creating, they know not us, and are become the gods of their creators. The speech hath one good quality, which is, that it is not calculated to deceive, neither can ‘we, if we would, be deceived by it. Brutality and tyranny appear on the face of it. It leaves us at no loss; and every line convinces, even in the moment of reading, that he who hunts the woods for prey, the naked and untutored Indian, is less savage than the king of Britain.

Sir John Dalrymple, the putative father of a whining jesuitical piece, fallaciously called, “The address of the people of England to the inhabitants of America,” hath perhaps, from a vain supposition that the people here were to be frightened at the pomp and description of a king, given (though very unwisely on his part) the real character of the present one: “But,” says this writer, “if you are inclined to pay compliments to an administration, which we do not complain of” (meaning the Marquis of Rockingham’s at the repeal of the Stamp Act) “it is very unfair in you to withhold them from that prince, by whose Nod Alone they were permitted to do any thing.” This is toryism with a witness! Here is idolatry even without a mask: and he who can calmly hear and digest such doctrine, hath forfeited his claim to rationality; is an apostate from the order of manhood, and ought to be considered—as one, who hath not only given up the proper dignity of man, but sunk himself beneath the rank of animals, and contemptibly crawls through the world like a worm.

However, it matters very little now, what the king of England either says or does; he hath wickedly broken through every moral and human obligation, trampled nature and conscience beneath his feet; and by a steady and constitutional spirit of insolence and cruelty, procured for himself an universal hatred. It is now the interest of America to provide for herself. She hath already a large and young family, whom it is more her duty to take care of, than to be granting away her property to support a power which become a reproach to the names of men and Christians—Ye, whose office it is to watch over the morals of a nation, of whatsoever sect or denomination ye are of, as well as ye who are more immediately the guardians of the public liberty, if you wish to preserve your native country uncontaminated by European corruption, ye must in secret wish a separation—but leaving the moral part to private reflection, I shall chiefly confine my further remarks to the following heads:

1st, That it is the interest of America to be separated from Britain.

2d, Which is the easiest and most practicable plan, reconciliation or independence? with some occasional remarks.

In support of the first, I could, if I judged it proper, produce the opinion of some of the ablest and most experienced men on this continent: and whose sentiments on that head, are not yet publicly known. It is in reality a self-evident position: for no nation in a state of foreign dependance, limited in its commerce, and cramped and fettered in its legislative powers, can ever arrive at any material eminence. America doth not yet know what opulence is; and although the progress which she hath made stands unparalleled in the history of other nations, it is but childhood, compared with what she would be capable of arriving at, had she, as she ought to have, the legislative powers in her own hands. England i&, at this time, proudly coveting what would do her no good were she to accomplish it; and the continent hesitating on a matter which will be her final ruin if neglected. It is the commerce and not the conquest of America by which England is to be benefited, and that would in a great measure continue, were the countries as independent of each other as France and Spain; because in many articles neither can go to a better market. But it is the independence of this country of Britain, or any other, which is now the main and only object worthy of contention, and which, like all other truths discovered by necessity, will appear clearer and stronger every day.

1st, Because it will come to that one time or other.

2d, Because the longer it is delayed, the harder it will be to accomplish.

I have frequently amused myself both in public and private companies, with silently remarking the specious errors of those who speak without reflecting. And among the many which I have heard, the following seems the most general, viz. that if this rupture should happen forty or fifty years hence, instead of now, the continent would be more able to shake off the dependance. To which I reply, that our military ability, at this time, arises from the experience gained in the last war, and which in forty or fifty years time, would be totally extinct. The continent would not, by that time, have a general, or even a military officer left; and we, or those who may succeed us, would be as ignorant of martial matters as the ancient Indians: and this single position, closely attended to, will unanswerably prove that the present time is preferable to all others. The argument turns thus—at the conclusion of the last war, we had experience, but wanted numbers; and forty or fifty years hence, we shall have numbers, without experience; wherefore, the proper point of time, must be some particular point between the two extremes, in which a sufficiency of the former remains, and a proper increase of the latter is obtained: and that point of time is the present time.

The reader will pardon this digression, as it does not properly come under the head I first set out with, and to which I again return by the following position, viz.

Should affairs be patched up with Britain, and she remain the governing and sovereign power of America, (which, as matters are now circumstanced, is giving up the point entirely) we shall deprive ourselves of the very means of sinking the debt we have, or may contract. The value of the back lands, which some of the provinces are clandestinely deprived of, by the unjust extension of the limits of Canada, valued only at five pounds sterling per hundred acres, amount to upwards of twenty-five millions Pennsylvania currency; and the quit-rents at one penny sterling per acre, to two millions yearly.

It is by the sale of those lands that the debt may be sunk, without burden to any, and the quit-rent reserved thereon, will always lessen, and in time, will wholly support the yearly expense of government. It matters not how long the debt is in paying, so that the lands when sold be applied to the discharge of it, and for the execution of which, the congress for the time being, will be the continental trustees.

I proceed now to the second head, viz. Which is the easiest and most practicable plan, reconciliation or independence? with some occasional remarks. He who takes nature for his guide, is not easily beaten out of his argument, and on that ground, I answer generally—That Independence being a Single Simple Line, contained within ourselves; and reconciliation, a matter exceedingly perplexed and complicated, and in which a treacherous, capricious court is to interfere, gives the answer without a doubt.

The present state of America is truly alarming to every man who is capable of reflection. Without law, without government, without any other mode of power than what is founded on, and granted by courtesy. Held together by an unexampled occurrence of sentiment, which is nevertheless subject to change, and which every secret enemy is endeavoring to dissolve. Our present condition is, legislation without law; wisdom without a plan; a constitution without a name; and, what is strangely astonishing, perfect independence contending for dependence. The instance is without a precedent; the case never existed before; and, who can tell what may be the event? The property of no man is secure in the present unbraced system of things) The mind of the multitude is left at random, and seeing no fixed object before them, they pursue such as fancy or opinion presents. Nothing is criminal; there is no such thing as treason; wherefore, every one thinks himself at liberty to act as he pleases. The Tories dared not have assembled offensively, had they known that their lives, by that act, were forfeited to the laws of the state. A line of distinction should be drawn between English soldiers taken in battle, and inhabitants of America taken in arms. The first are prisoners, but the latter traitors. The one forfeits his liberty, the other his head.

Notwithstanding our wisdom, there is a visible feebleness in some of our proceedings which gives encouragement to dissentions. The Continental Belt is too loosely buckled. And if something is not done in time, it will be too late to do any thing, and we shall fall into a state, in which neither Reconciliation nor Independence will be practicable. The king and his worthless adherents are got at their old game of dividing the continent, and there are not wanting among us, printers, who will be busy in spreading specious falsehoods. The artful and hypocritical letter which appeared a few months ago in two of the New-York papers, and likewise in others, is an evidence that there are men who want both judgment and honesty.

It is easy getting into holes and corners and talking of reconciliation: but do such men seriously consider how difficult the task is, and how dangerous it may prove, should the continent divide thereon. Do they take within their view, all the various orders of men whose situation and circumstances, as well as their own, are to be considered therein. Do they put themselves in the place of the sufferer whose all is already gone, and of the soldier, who hath quitted all for the defence of his country? If their ill-judged moderation be suited to their own private situations only, regardless of others, the event will convince them that “they are reckoning without their host.”

Put us, say some, on the footing we were in the year 1763: to which I answer, the request is not now in the power of Britain to comply with, neither will she propose it; but if it were, and even should it be granted, I ask, as a reasonable question, by what means is such a corrupt and faithless court to be kept to its engagements? Another parliament, nay, even the present, may hereafter repeal the obligation, on the pretence of its being violently obtained, or unwisely granted; and, in that case, where is our redress? No going to law with nations; cannon are the barristers of crowns; and the sword, not of justice, but of war, decides the suit. To be on the footing of 1763, it is not sufficient, that the laws only be put in the same state, but, that our circumstances, likewise, be put in the same state; our burnt and destroyed towns repaired, or built up, our private losses made good, our public debts (contracted for defence) discharged; otherwise, we shall be millions worse than we were at that enviable period. Such a request, had it been complied with a year ago, would have won the heart and soul of the continent—but now it is too late: “The Rubicon is passed.”

Besides, the taking up arms, merely to enforce the repeal of a pecuniary law, seems as unwarrantable by the divine law, and as repugnant to human feelings, as the taking up arms to enforce obedience thereto. The object, on either side, doth not justify the means; for the lives of men are too valuable to be cast away on such trifles. It is the violence which is done and threatened to our persons; the destruction of our property by an armed force; the invasion of our country by fire and sword, which conscientiously qualifies the use of arms: and the instant in which such mode of defence became necessary, all subjection to Britain ought to have ceased; and the independence of America should have been considered as dating its era from, and published by, the first musket that was fired against her. This line is a line of consistency; neither drawn by caprice, nor extended by ambition; but produced by a chain of events, of which the colonies were not the authors.

I shall conclude these remarks, with the following timely and well-intended hints. We ought to reflect, that there are three different ways by which an independency may hereafter be effected; and that one of those three, will, one day or other, be the fate of America, viz. By the legal voice of the people in congress; by a military power; or by a mob: it may not always happen that our soldiers are citizens, and the multitude a body of reasonable men; virtue, as I have already remarked, is not hereditary, neither is it perpetual. Should an independency be brought about by the first of those means, we have every opportunity and every encouragement before us, to form the noblest, purest constitution on the face of the earth. We have it in our power to begin the world over again. A situation, similar to the present, hath not happened since the days of Noah until now. The birthday of a new world is at hand, and a race of men, perhaps as numerous as all Europe contains, are to receive their portion of freedom from the events of a few months. The reflection is awful—and in this point of view, how trifling, how ridiculous, do the little paltry caviling [To find fault unnecessarily; raise trivial objections], of a few weak or interested men appear, when weighed against the business of a world. Should we neglect the present favorable and inviting period, and independence be hereafter effected by any other means, we must charge the consequence to ourselves, or to those rather, whose narrow and prejudiced souls, are habitually opposing the measure, without either inquiring or reflecting. There are reasons to be given in support of independence, which men should rather privately think of, than be publicly told of. We ought not now to be debating whether we shall be independent or not, but anxious to accomplish it on a firm, secure, and honorable basis, and uneasy rather, that it is not yet began upon. Every day convinces us of its necessity. Even the Tories (if such beings yet remain among us) should, of all men, be the most solicitous to promote it; for as the appointment of committees at first, protected them from popular rage, so, a wise and well established form of government, will be the only certain means of continuing it securely to them. Wherefore, if they have not virtue enough to be Whigs, they ought to have prudence enough to wish for independence.

In short, independence is the only bond that tie and keep us together. We shall then see our object, and our ears will be legally shut against the schemes of an intriguing, as well as cruel, enemy. We shall then, too, be on a proper footing to treat with Britain; for there is reason to conclude, that the pride of that court will be less hurt by treating with the American states for terms of peace, than with those, whom she denominates “rebellious subjects,” for terms of accommodation. It is our delaying it that encourages her to hope for conquest, and our backwardness tends only to prolong the war. As we have, without any good effect therefrom, withheld our trade to obtain a redress of our grievances, let us now try the alternative, by independently redressing them ourselves, and then offering to open the trade. The mercantile and reasonable part of England, will be still with f us; because, peace, with trade, is preferable to war, without it. And if this offer be not accepted, other courts may be applied to.

On these grounds I rest the matter. And as no offer hath yet been made to refute the doctrine contained in the former editions of this pamphlet, it is a negative proof, that either the doctrine cannot be refuted, or, that the party in favor of it are too numerous to be opposed. Wherefore, instead of gazing at each other, with suspicious or doubtful curiosity, let each of us hold out to his neighbor the hearty hand of friendship, and unite in drawing a line, which, like an act of oblivion, shall bury in forgetfulness every former dissention. Let the names of whig and tory be extinct; and let none other be heard among us, than those of a good citizen; an open and resolute friend; and a virtuous supporter of the Rights of Mankind, and of the Free And InDependent STATES OF AMERICA

END OF COMMON SENSE.
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Thomas Paine’s Epistle to Quakers: War of Independence and 2nd Amendment

THOMAS PAINE’S COMMON SENSE (1776): A Prophetic Warning to America

Adding this in preparation for Chapter 3 of  “The Declaration of Independence: Its History” This is also a great piece for those who claim to be christians and either vote democrat or do not vote at all. I say as many others from history so do, it is the duty of every true Christian to vote, especially in America where God Himself gave us the right to choose leaders who are moral, wise and work for the public good and who fight tyranny over man in everything they do. As the current leadership of reprobates we have in leadership positions in this country proves: Christians have failed to do their duty as citizens of the only country on earth God ever truly gave them the privilege of so doing! After God and Jesus caused this country to be created in the manner it was, on the Bible and Christian principles from the Gospel of Christ, Christians have failed to advance the work started by the Lord. This also proves unlike the liberal leftist democrats proclaim, Thomas Paine  considered Jesus Christ his own personal savior. Paine was taking issue here with some of the Quakers i.e. Christians who were against the right of the people to bear arms and in using those arms to gain Independence from the British Crown and British parliaments influence in the American colonies.

Paine’s object was to open the eyes of the people to a proper sense of their rights. To prove to them that it was lawful to remove any and every one from office when they ceased to act for ‘the good of the community’. To show them that a king, if tolerated at all, was the servant of a people,—bound to direct their affairs with a view to their best interests, and not waste their wealth, and sacrifice their lives, in foreign intrigues and wars, for his individual fame.

That his writings on this subject tended to, and came very nearly producing, a revolution in that country, is certain! And nothing but a complete revolution can reinstate the people in their rights. Petitions and remonstrances are worse than useless, as has been seen in innumerable instances, and among the number, North America was one: all the ability of the country was put in requisition to supplicate for a redress of grievances, and what was the result?Derision and contempt. Inveterate diseases cannot be cured by the application of milk and water; the remedy must be proportioned to their virulence.

See also: As for me! I will take Liberty!
Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God
THE TRANSCENDENT GLORY OF THE REVOLUTION by John Quincy Adams
MORALITY OF GOVERNMENT by Thomas Jefferson 1810
RELIGIOUS VIEWS OF THOMAS JEFFERSON; source: The Jefferson Bible
Jefferson Foresaw and Prophesied about This Time in American History
GOD GOVERNS IN THE AFFAIRS OF MEN Speech by Benjamin Franklin During the Constitutional Convention
 

Thomas Paine quote Politicians

Thomas Paine Epistle to Quakers: Thomas Paine’s father was a Quaker

To the Representatives of the Religious Society of the people called Quakers, or to so many of them as were concerned in publishing a late piece, entitled “the Ancient Testimony and Principles of the people called Quakers renewed, with respect to the King and Government, and touching the Commotions now prevailing in these and other parts of America, addressed to the People In General.

THE writer of this is one of those few who never dishonors religion, either by ridiculing or caviling at any denomination whatsoever. To God, and not to man, are all men accountable on the score of religion. Wherefore, this epistle is not so properly addressed to you as a religious, but as a political body, dabbling in matters which the professed quietude of your principles instructs you not to meddle with.

As you have, without a proper authority for so doing, put yourselves in the place of the whole body of the Quakers, so the writer of this, in order to be on an equal rank with yourselves, is under the necessity of putting himself in the place of all those who approve the very writings and principles against which your Testimony is directed: and he hath chosen this singular situation, in order that you might discover in him, that presumption of character which you cannot see in yourselves. For neither he nor you have any claim or title to Political Representation.

When men have departed from the right way, it is no wonder that they stumble and fall. And it is evident from the manner in which ye have managed your Testimony, that politics (as a religious body of men) is not your proper walk; for however well adapted it may appear to you, it is, nevertheless, a jumble of good and bad put unwisely together, and the conclusion drawn therefrom both unnatural and unjust.

The two first pages (and the whole doth not make four) we give you credit for, and expect the same civility from you, because the love and desire of peace is not confined to Quakerism, it is the natural, as well as the religious wish of all denominations of men. And on this ground, as men laboring to establish an independent constitution of our own, do we exceed all others in our hope, end, and aim.

Our plan is peace forever. We are tired of contention with Britain, and can see no real end to it but in a final separation. We act consistently, because, for the sake of introducing an endless and uninterrupted peace, do we bear the evils and burdens of the present day. We are endeavoring, and will steadily continue to endeavor, to separate and dissolve a connection which has already filled our land with blood; and which, while the name of it remains, will be the fatal cause of future mischiefs to both countries.

We fight neither for revenge nor conquest; neither from pride nor passion; we are not insulting the world with our fleets and armies, nor ravaging the globe for plunder. Beneath the shade of our own vines we are attacked; in our own houses, and on our own lands, is the violence committed against us. We view our enemies in the characters of highwaymen and housebreakers, and having no defense for ourselves in the civil law, are obliged to punish them by the military one, and apply the sword in the very case where you have before now applied the halter.

Perhaps we feel for the ruined and insulted sufferers in all and every part of the continent, with a degree of tenderness which hath not yet made its way into some of your bosoms. But be ye sure that ye mistake not the cause and ground of your Testimony. Call not the coldness of the soul religion; nor put the bigot in the place of the Christian.

O ye partial ministers of your own acknowledged principles! If the bearing of arms be sinful, the first going to war must be more so, by all the difference between wilful attack and unavoidable defense.

Wherefore, if ye really preach from conscience, and mean not to make a political hobbyhorse of your religion, convince the world thereof by proclaiming your doctrine to our enemies, for they likewise bear Arms. Give us proof of your sincerity by publishing it at St. James’s, to the commanders-in-chief at Boston, to admirals and captains who are piratically ravaging our coasts, and to all the murdering miscreants who are acting in authority under Him whom ye profess to serve.

Had ye the honest soul of Barclay

 ” Thou hast tasted of prosperity and adversity! thou knowest what it is to be banished thy native country, to be overruled as well as to rule, and set upon the throne; and being oppressed, thou hast reason to know how hateful -the oppressor is both to God and man. If after all these warnings and advertisements, thou dost not turn unto the Lord with all thy heart, but forget Him who remembered thee in thy distress, and give up thyself to follow lust and vanity, surely great will be thy condemnation: against which snare, as well as the temptation of those who may or do feed thee, and prompt thee to evil, the most excellent and prevalent remedy will be to apply thyself to that light of CSirist which shineth in the conscience, and which neither can, nor will flatter thee, nor suffer thee to be at ease in thy sins.”—Barclay Address to Charles II.

ye would preach repentance to your king; ye would tell the royal tyrant of his sins, and warn him of eternal ruin. Ye would not spend your partial invectives against the injured and insulted only, but, like faithful ministers, would cry aloud and spare none. Say not that ye are persecuted, neither endeavor to make us the authors of that reproach which ye are bringing upon yourselves; for we testify unto all men, that we do not complain against you because ye are Quakers, but because ye pretend to be and are Not Quakers.

Alas! it seems by the particular tendency of some part of your Testimony, and other parts of your conduct, as if all sin was reduced to, and comprehended in, the act of bearing arms, and that by the people only. Ye appear to us to have mistaken party for conscience; because the general tenor of your actions wants uniformity; and it is exceedingly difficult for us to give credit to many of your pretended scruples; because we see them made by the same men, who, in the very instant that they are exclaiming against the mammon of this world, are nevertheless hunting after it with a step as steady as Time, and an appetite as keen as Death.

The quotation which ye have from Proverbs, in the third page of your Testimony, that, “when a man’s ways please the Lord, He maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him”; is very unwisely chosen on your part; because it amounts to a proof that the King’s ways (whom ye are so desirous of supporting) do not please the Lord, otherwise his reign would be in peace.

I now proceed to the latter part of your Testimony, and that for which all the foregoing seems only an introduction, viz.:

“It hath ever been our judgment and principle, since we were called to profess the light of Christ Jesus, manifested in our consciences unto this day, that the setting up and putting down kings and governments, is God’s peculiar prerogative; for causes best known to Himself: and that it is not our business to have any hand or contrivance therein; nor to be busy-bodies above our station, much less to plot and contrive the ruin, or overturn any of them, but to pray for the King, and safety of our nation, and good of all men: that we may live a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and honesty; under the government which God is pleased to set over us.”

If these are really your principles, why do ye not abide by them? Why do ye not leave that which ye call God’s work to be managed by Himself? These very principles instruct you to wait with patience and humility for the event of all public measures, and to receive that event as the divine will toward you. Wherefore, what occasion is there for your political Testimony, if you fully believe what it contains? And, therefore, publishing it proves that either ye do not believe what ye profess, or have not virtue enough to practise what ye believe.

The principles of Quakerism have a direct tendency to make a man the quiet and inoffensive subject of any and every government which is set over him. And if the setting up and putting down of kings and governments is God’s peculiar prerogative, He most certainly will not be robbed thereof by us; wherefore, the principle itself leads you to approve of everything which ever happened or may happen to kings, as being His work.

Oliver Cromwell thanks you. Charles, then, died not by the hands of man; and should the present proud imitator of him come to the same untimely end, the writers and publishers of the Testimony are bound by the doctrine it contains, to applaud the fact. Kings are not taken away by miracles, neither are changes in governments brought about by any other means than such as are common and human; and such as we are now using. Even the dispersing of the Jews, though foretold by our Saviour, was effected by arms. [Notice Paine says “our Saviour” not “Your Saviour”]

[Paine follows here by saying if you’re not on the side of the “right” then you should say nothing and mind your own business]

Wherefore, as ye refuse to be the means on one side, ye ought not to be meddlers on the other; but to wait the issue in silence; and, unless ye can produce divine authority to prove that the Almighty [God], who hath created and placed this new world at the greatest distance it could possibly stand, East and West, from every part of the old, doth, nevertheless, disapprove of its being independent of the corrupt and abandoned Court of Britain; unless, I say, ye can show this, how can ye, on the ground of your principles, justify the exciting and stirring up the people “firmly to unite in the abhorrence of all such writings, and measures, as evince a desire and design to break off the happy connection we have hitherto enjoyed with the Kingdom of Great Britain, and our just and necessary subordination to the King and those who are lawfully placed in authority under him.”

What a slap in the face is here! The men who, in the very paragraph before, have quietly and passively resigned up the ordering, altering and disposal of kings and governments into the hands of God, are now recalling their principles, and putting in for a share of the business. Is it possible that the conclusion, which is here justly quoted, can anyways follow from the doctrine laid down?

The inconsistency is too glaring not to be seen; the absurdity too great not to be laughed at; and such as could only have been made by those whose understandings were darkened by the narrow and crabbed spirit of a despairing political party; for ye are not to be considered as the whole body of Quakers, but only as a factional and fractional part thereof.

Here ends the examination of your Testimony (which I call upon no man to abhor, as ye have done, but only to read and judge of fairly); to which I subjoin the following remark: “That the setting up and putting down of kings” must certainly mean the making him a king, who is yet not so, and the making him no king who is already one. And pray what hath this to do in the present case? We neither mean to set up nor to put down, neither to make nor to unmake, but to have nothing to do with them. Wherefore, your Testimony, in whatever light it is viewed, serves only to dishonor your judgment, and for many other reasons had better have been left alone than published.

First. Because it tends to the decrease and reproach of all religion whatever, and is of the utmost danger to society, to make it a party in political disputes.

Secondly. Because it exhibits a body of men, numbers of whom disavow the publishing of political testimonies, as being concerned therein and approvers thereof.

Thirdly. Because it hath a tendency to undo that continental harmony and friendship which yourselves, by your late liberal and charitable donations, have lent a hand to establish; and the preservation of which is of the utmost consequence to us all.

And here, without anger or resentment, I bid you farewell. Sincerely wishing, that as men and Christians, ye may always fully and uninterruptedly enjoy every civil and religious right; and be in your turn the means of securing it to others.
Copyright © 2014 © 2015 TeaPartyEdu http://teapartyedu.net Foundation Truths http://captainjamesdavis.net The Patriot Brotherhood @CaptainJDavis ™

The Declaration of Independence: Its History Chapter 2, 1775

The Declaration of Independence: Its History Chapter 2, 1775

See also The Declaration of Independence: Its History Chapter 1 1774

Paul Revere's Ride

Paul Revere’s Ride

SEVENTEEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FIVE SEVENTEEN hundred and seventy-five is the year of Paul Revere’s ride — the year of Lexington and Concord and Bunker Hill. War had become a reality.

Strangely enough, however, the majority of the people still desired reconciliation ‘ — the love of Liberty of the Anglo-Saxon, as a race, not yet having overcome in them the cradle-nurtured spirit of the subject; and, of the comparatively few who favored independence, many feared and others seemed ashamed openly to express their opinions.

Only six days before the end of the year, Portsmouth, N. H., instructed her Representatives to the Provincial Congress: “We are of opinion that the present times are too unsettled to admit of perfecting a firm, stable and permanent government [for New Hampshire]; and that to attempt it now would injure us, by furnishing our enemies in Great Britain with arguments to persuade the good people there that we are aiming at independency, which we totally disavow . . . We particularly recommend, that you strictly guard against every measure that may have a tendency to cause disunion . . .”

In England In America
1. A trial by a jury of his country, in all cases of life and property.
1. A trial by jury only in some cases, subjected in others to a single Judge, or a Board of Commissioners.
2. A trial where the offence was committed.
2. A trial, if a Governor pleases, 3000 miles from the place where the offence was committed.
3. A civil authority supreme over the military, and no standing army in time of peace kept up, but by the consent of the people.
3. The military superior to the civil authority, and America obliged to contribute to the support of a standing army, kept up without and against its consent.
4. The Judges independent of the Crown and people.
4. The Judges made independent of the people, but dependent on the Crown for the support and tenure of their commissions.
5. No tax or imposition laid, but by those who must partake of the burden.
5. Taxes and impositions laid by those, who not only do not partake of the burdens, but who ease themselves by it
6. A free trade to all the world, except the East-Indies.
6. A trade only to such places as Great-Britain shall permit.
7. A free use and practice of all engines and other devices, for saving labour and promoting manufactures.
7. The use only of such engines as Great-Britain has not prohibited.
8. A right to petition the King, and all prosecutions and commitments therefor illegal.
8. Promoting and encouraging petitions to the King declared the highest presumption, and the legislative Assemblies of America dissolved therefore in 1768.
9. Freedom of debate and proceedings in their legislative deliberations.
9. Assemblies dissolved, their legislative power suspended, for the free exercise of their reason and judgment, in their legislative capacity.
10. For redress of grievances, amending, strengthening and preserving the laws, parliaments to be held frequently.
10. To prevent the redress of grievances, or representations tending thereto, Assemblies postponed for a great length of time, and prevented meeting in the most critical times.

It is very significant of the spirit of the times that the same writer should declare: “When I hear America charged with aspiring after independence, I ask, Were we independent of Great-Britain in 1762? That is the era to which we all look back with regret, and to which we are anxiously seeking to return.” ” That the Americans have entire independence on the Mother Country in view, as the great object of their present contest . . . [is] false and groundless . . .”

Even Franklin — in a letter to Lord Howe, dated July 20, 1776 — declares that “tears of joy . . . wet my cheek, when, at your good sister’s in London, you once gave me expectations that a reconciliation might soon take place.” Indeed, in a letter to his son, written at sea, March 22d(1775), — speaking of a visit he had paid to Lord Chatham in London — he writes: “I assured him that, having more than once travelled almost from one end of the Continent to the other, and kept a great variety of company, eating, drinking, and conversing with them freely, I never had heard in any conversation from any person, drunk or sober, the least expression of a wish for a separation, or a hint that such a thing would be advantageous to America … he expressed much satisfaction … in the assurances I had given him that America did not aim at independence.”

The Assembly of Pennsylvania instructed her Delegates, November 9th: “We strictly enjoin you, that you, in behalf of this Colony, dissent from, and utterly reject, any propositions, should such be made, that may cause or lead to a separation from our Mother Country . . .”

Similar views prevailed in Maryland.

On August 2d, one of her clergymen writes to England: “The King has not more affectionate or loyal subjects in any part of his dominions than the Americans. They desire no other King; they wish not a division from, or independence on the Mother Country.”

The instructions of December to her Delegates in Congress contained the expressions “our strong desire of reconciliation ” and “disavowing in the most solemn manner, all design in these Colonies of independence “. Charles Carroll of Carrollton writes, from Annapolis to Washington, September 26th: “If a treaty is but once set on foot, I think, it must terminate in a lasting & happy peace; an event, I am persuaded, you most earnestly desire, as every good citizen must, in which number you rank foremost … If we cannot obtain a peace on safe & just terms, my next wish is, that you may extort by force from our enemies what their policy, & justice should have granted, and that you may long live to enjoy the fame of the best, the noblest deed, the defending & securing the liberties of your country.”

An idea of the feeling in Virginia in the early part of the year is given us by Wirt. He says that, when (March 23d) Patrick Henry offered, in the old church in Richmond, the resolutions that the Colony be put immediately into a state of defense, “some of the warmest patriots of the convention opposed them. Richard Bland, Benjamin Harrison, and Edmund Pendleton . . . resisted them with all their influence and abilities.” He adds that it was by Henry’s eloquence only that the resolutions were carried.

We know that, later in the year, Thomas Anderson was “charged with saying . . . that this Country . . . aimed at a state of independence,” and was acquitted (September 5th) by the Committee of Hanover County “from further prosecution” only upon signing a concession.

The position of Jefferson is outlined in his own letters. He writes from Monticello, August 25th, to John Randolph: “I am sincerely one of those [wishing reunion], and would rather be in dependence on Great Britain, properly limited, than on any nation upon earth, or than on no nation. But I am one of those, too, who, rather than submit to the rights of legislating for us, assumed by the British Parliament . . . would lend my hand to sink the whole island in the ocean.” To the same gentleman, November 29th, he says: “. . . there is not in the British empire a man who more cordially loves a union with Great Britain, than I do. But, by the God that made me, I will cease to exist before I yield to a connection on such terms as the British Parliament propose; and in this I think I speak the sentiments of America. We want neither inducement nor power, to declare and assert a separation. It is will, alone, which is wanting, and that is growing apace under the fostering hand of our King.”

So is also the position of General Charles Lee. On the 1st day of the last month of the year, he writes, to General Burgoyne: “You ask me, in your letter, if it is independence at which the Americans aim? I answer no; the idea never entered a single American’s head until a most intolerable oppression forced it upon them . . . On the contrary, do they not all breathe the strongest attachment and filial piety for their parent country? . . . I swear by all that’s sacred . . . that I most earnestly and devoutly love my native country; that I wish the same happy relation to subsist for ages, betwixt her and her children, which has raised the wide arch of her empire to so stupendous and enviable a height; but at the same time I avow, that if the Parliament and people should be depraved enough to support any longer the present Ministry in their infernal scheme … I would advise not to hesitate a single instant, but decisively to cut the Gordian knot now besmeared with civil blood”; and, three days later, speaking of this letter, he says, from “Camp on Prospect Hill”, to Dr. Benjamin Rush, that it “in my opinion is the best of my performances. I believe it does not tally with your political creed in some parts — but I am convinced that you have not virtue enough for independence nor do I think it calculated for your happiness; besides I have some remaining prejudices as an Englishman — but you will judge from the perusal of my letter whether they are honest and liberal — if they shock you be gentle in your censures.”

North Carolina, at least in one County, was more advanced — though to just what extent has been much mooted.

In the Essex Register (C) — published in Salem, Mass. — of June 5, 1819, appeared the following:

From the Raleigh Register.

DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.

It is not probably known to many of our readers, that the citizens of Mecklenburg county, in this state, made a declaration of independence more than a year before Congress made theirs. The following document on the subject has lately come in the hands of the editor from unquestionable authority, and is published that it may go down to posterity:

N. Carolina, Mecklenburg County, May 20, 1775.

In the spring of 1775, the leading characters of Mecklenburg county . . . held several detached meetings, in each of which the individual sentiments were, “that the cause of Boston was the cause of all . . .” Conformably to these principles, Col. Adam Alexander, through solicitation, issued an order to each Captain’s Company in the county of Mecklenburg . . . directing each militia company to elect two persons … to adopt measures … to secure, unimpaired, their inalienable rights, privileges and liberties . . .

… on the 19th of May, 1775, the said delegation met in Charlotte, vested with unlimited powers; at which time official news, by express, arrived of the battle of Lexington on that day of the preceding month . . . Abraham Alexander was then elected Chairman, and John M’Knitt Alexander, Clerk. After a free and full discussion of the various objects for which the delegation had been convened, it was unanimously Ordained —

1. Resolved, That whosoever directly or indirectly abetted, or in any way, form, or manner, countenanced, the unchartered and dangerous invasion of our rights, as claimed by Great Britain, is an enemy to this country, — to America, — and to the inherent and inalienable rights of man.

2. Resolved, That we, the citizens of Mecklenburg county, do hereby dissolve the political bands which have connected us to the Mother Country, and hereby absolve ourselves from all allegiance to the British Crown, and abjure all political connection, contract, or association with that Nation, who have wantonly trampled on our rights and liberties — and inhumanly shed the innocent blood of American patriots at Lexington.

3. Resolved, That we do hereby declare ourselves a free and independent people; are, and of right ought to be, a sovereign & self governing association, under the control of no power other than that of our God and the General Government of the Congress; to the maintenance of which independence, we solemnly pledge to each other our mutual co-operation, our lives, our fortunes, & our most sacred honor.

4. Resolved, That as we now acknowledge the existence and control of no law or legal officer, civil or military, within this county, we do hereby ordain and adopt, as a rule of life, all, each, and every of our former laws — wherein, nevertheless, the crown of Great Britain never can be considered as holding rights, privileges, immunities, or authority therein.

5.. . . After sitting in the court house all night, neither sleepy, hungry, or fatigued, and after discussing every paragraph, they were all passed, sanctioned, and decreed, unanimously, about two o’clock, A. M. May 20. In a few days, a deputation of said delegation convened, when capt. James Jack, of Charlotte, was deputed as express to the Congress at Philadelphia, with a copy of said resolves and proceedings, together with a letter addressed to our three representatives, viz. Richard Caswell, William Hooper, and Joseph Hughes, under express injunction, personally, and through the state representation, to use all possible means to have said proceedings sanctioned and approved by the general Congress. On the return of captain Jack, the delegation learned that their proceedings were individually approved by the members of Congress, but that it was deemed premature to lay them before the house. A joint letter from said three members of Congress was also received, complimentary of the zeal in the common cause, and recommending perseverance, order, and energy . . .

[The foregoing is a true copy of the papers on the above subject, left in my hands by John Matthew Alexander, deceased. I find it mentioned on file that the original book was burned in April, 1800; that a copy of the proceedings was sent to Hugh Williamson, in New-York, then writing a history of North Carolina, and that a copy was sent to general W. R. Davies.

J. M’KNITT.]

John Adams, then at Quincy, immediately (June 22d) wrote to Jefferson: “May I enclose you one of the greatest curiosities and one of the deepest mysteries that ever occurred to me … it is entitled the Raleigh Register Declaration of Independence — How is it possible that this paper should have been concealed from me to this day — had it been communicated to me in the time of it — I know, if you do not know, that it would have been printed in every Whig Newspaper upon this Continent — you know if I had possessed it — I would have made the Hall of Congress Echo — and re-echo, with it fifteen months before your Declaration of Independence — What a poor ignorant, malicious, shortsighted, crapulous mass, is Tom Pains Common Sense; in comparison with this paper— had I known it I would have commented upon it — from the day you entered Congress till the fourth of July 1776. — The genuine sense of America at that moment was never so well expressed before nor since. — Richard Caswell, William Hooper, and Joseph Hughs the then Representatives of North Carolina in Congress you know as well as I do — and you know that the Unanimity of the States finally depended upon the Vote of Joseph Hughes — and was finally determined by him — and yet History is to ascribe the American Revolution to Thomas Paine — Sat verbum sapient —”

Another letter from Adams, dated July 15th, to William Bentley, says: “A few weeks ago I received an Essex Register, containing resolutions of independence by a county in North Carolina … I was struck with so much astonishment on reading this document, that I could not help inclosing it immediately to Mr. Jefferson, who must have seen it, in the time of it, for he has copied the spirit, the sense, and the expressions of it verbatim, into his Declaration … Its total concealment from me is a mystery, which can be unriddled only by the timidity of the delegates in Congress from North Carolina, by the influence of Quakers and proprietary gentlemen in Pennsylvania, the remaining art and power of toryism throughout the continent at that time.”

Jefferson replied, July 9th: “what has attracted my peculiar notice is the paper from Mecklenburg county … I believe it spurious. I deem it to be a very unjustifiable quiz … if this paper be really taken M from the Raleigh Register, as quoted, I wonder it should have escaped Ritchie who culls what is good from every paper, as the bee from every flower; and the National Intelligencer too, which is edited by a N. Carolinian, and that the fire should blaze out all at once in Essex [Salem], 1000 miles from where the spark is said to have fallen, but if really taken from the Raleigh Register, who is the narrator, and is the name subscribed real, or is it as fictitious as the paper itself? it appeals too to an original book, which is burnt, to Mr. Alexander who is dead, to a joint letter from Caswell, Hughes and Hooper, all dead, to a copy sent to the dead Caswell, and another sent to Doctor Williamson whose memory, now probably dead, did not recollect, in the history he has written of N. Carolina, this Gigantic step of it’s county of Mecklenburg. Horry too is silent in his history of Marion, whose scene of action was the county bordering on Mecklenburg Ramsay, Marshal, Jones, Girardin, Wirt, Historians of the adjacent states, all silent, when Mr. Henry’s resolutions, far short of independence, flew like lightning thro every paper and kindled both sides of the Atlantic, this flaming declaration of the same date, of the independence of Mecklenburg county of N. Carolina, absolving it from British allegiance, and abjuring all political connection with that nation, altho’ sent to Congress too, is never heard of. it is not known even a twelve month after even a similar proposition is first made in that body, armed with this bold example, would not you have addressed our timid brethren in peals of thunder, on their tardy fears? would not every advocate of independence have rung the glories of Mecklenburg county in N. Carolina in the ears of the doubting Dickinson and others, who hung so heavily on us? yet the example of independent Mecklenburg county in N. Carolina was never once quoted, the paper speaks too of the continued exertion of their delegation, (Caswell, Hooper, Hughes) “in the cause of liberty and independence.” now you remember as well as I do, that we had not a greater Tory in Congress than Hooper, that Hughes was very wavering, sometimes firm, sometimes feeble, according as the day was clear or cloudy; that Caswell indeed was a good Whig, and kept these gentlemen to the notch, while he was present; but that he left us B soon, and their line of conduct became then uncertain till Penn came26, who fixed Hughes and the vote of the state. I must not be understood as suggesting any doubtfulness in the state of N. Carolina, no state was more fixed or forward, nor do I affirm positively that this paper is a fabrication: because the proof of a negative can only be presumptive, but I shall believe it such until positive and solemn proof of it’s authenticity shall be produced, and if the name of McKnitt be real, and not a part of the fabrication, it needs a vindication by the production of such proof, for the present I must be an unbeliever in this apocryphal gospel.”

On the 21st, Adams wrote again: “. . . your Letter of the 9th . . . has entirely convinced me that the Mecklenburg Resolutions are fiction … as they were unknown to you “, they must have been unknown to all mankind — I have sent a copy of your letter to Salem, not to be printed but to be used as decisive authority for the Editor [Warwick Palfray, Jr.] to correct his error, in the Essex Register. — But who can be the Demon to invent such a machine after five and forty years, and what could be his Motive — was it to bring a Charge of Plagiarism against the Congress or against you; the undoubted acknowledged draughtsmen of the Declaration of Independence — or could it be the mere vanity of producing a jeu d’esprit, to set the world a guess and afford a topic of Conversation in this piping time of Peace—Had such Resolutions appeared in June, they would have flown through the Universe like wild fire; they would have Elevated the heads of the inhabitants of Boston; — and of all New-England above the Stars — and they would have rung a peal in Congress — to the utter Confusion of Tory’ism and timidity, for a full year before they were discomforted —”

This letter was followed by a third (to Jefferson) but seven days later: “I inclose you a National Register, to convince you that the Essex Register is not to blame for printing the Mecklingburg County Resolutions, on the Contrary I think it to be commended — for if those Resolutions were genuine they ought to be published in every Gazette in the World — If they are one of those tricks which our fashionable Men in England call hoax’es and boares — they ought to be printed in all American journals; exposed to public resentment and the Author of them hunted to his dark Cavern—”

To Bentley, under date of August 21st, he says: “I thank you for the Raleigh Register and National Intelligencer. The plot thickens … I was on social, friendly terms with Caswell, Hooper, and Hewes, every moment of their existence in Congress; with Hooper, a Bostonian, and a son of Harvard, intimate and familiar. Yet, from neither of the three did the slightest hint of these Mecklenburg resolutions ever escape … I cannot believe that they were known to one member of Congress on the fourth of July, 1776 . . . The papers of Dr. Hugh Williamson ought to be searched for the copy sent to him, and the copy sent to General W. R. Davie. The Declaration of Independence made by Congress … is a document . . . that ought not to be disgraced or trifled with.”

Discussion was now rife; and, on February 18, 1820, the Raleigh Register printed a number of affidavits and letters, introduced as follows: “When the Declaration was first published in April last, some doubts were expressed in the Eastern papers as to its authenticity, (none of the Histories of the Revolution having noticed the circumstance.) Col. William Polk, of this City, (who, though a mere youth at the time, was present at the meeting which made the Declaration, and whose Father being Colonel of the County, appears to have acted a conspicuous part on the occasion,) observing this, assured us of the correctness of the facts generally, though he thought there were errors as to the name of the Secretary, &c. and said that he should probably be able to correct these, and throw some further light on the subject, by Enquiries amongst some of his old friends in Mecklenburg county. He has accordingly made Enquiries, and communicated to us . . . Documents as the result, which, we presume, will do away [with] all doubts on the subject.”

The matter was still further investigated, in 1831, under the direction of the General Assembly of the State and a report made.

These (the Raleigh Register of 1820 and the report of the General Assembly, embracing other affidavits) established, it would seem, many of the facts at issue — certainly that, sometime in May, 1775, certain resolutions of an advanced character were adopted in Mecklenburg County; that resolutions of an advanced character were publicly read by Thomas Polk and received with great joy; and that, in June, James Jack set out with a copy of resolutions of an advanced character for Congress, that he stopped at Salisbury, where, at the request of the General Court, an attorney by the name of Kennon read the resolutions, and that Jack delivered a copy of the resolutions to Caswell and Hooper in Philadelphia.

Many claim that these established also that the resolutions in question expressly declared independence and that the date of their adoption was May 20th.

With this, however, we cannot agree. Not only is the wording itself of almost all of the affidavits very uncertain, but it is very apparent that none of the affiants was considering — and we might in any event question the power of any of them to recall — the exact wording of the resolutions adopted or the exact day in May on which adopted.

Under these circumstances, The South-Carolina Gazette; and Country Journal 31 of June 13, 1775, which has since come to light, is, we think, of the first importance. It contains:

Charlotte-town, Mecklenburg County, May 31, 1775 This day the Committee of this county met, and passed the following Resolves:

WHEREAS by an Address presented to his Majesty by both Houses of Parliament, in February last, the American colonies are declared to be in a state of actual rebellion, we conceive, that all laws and commissions confirmed by, or derived from the authority of the King or Parliament, are annulled and vacated, and the former civil constitution of these colonies, for the present, wholly suspended. To provide, in some degree, for the exigencies of this county, in the present alarming period, we deem it proper and necessary to pass the following Resolves, viz:

I. That all commissions, civil and military, heretofore granted by the Crown, to be exercised in these colonies, are null and void, and the constitution of each particular colony wholly suspended.

II. That the Provincial Congress of each province, under the direction of the great Continental Congress, is invested with all legislative and executive powers within their respective provinces; and that no other legislative or executive power, does, or can exist, at this time, in any of these colonies.

III. As all former laws are now suspended in this province, and the Congress have not yet provided others, we judge it necessary, for the preservation of good order, to form certain rules and regulations for the internal government of this county, until laws shall be provided for us by the Congress.

IV. That the inhabitants of this county do meet . . . and having formed themselves into nine companies … do chuse a Colonel and other military officers, who shall hold and exercise their several powers by virtue of this choice, and independent of the Crown of Great-Britain, and former constitution of this province.

V. That for the better preservation of the peace and administration of justice, each of those companies do chuse from their own body, two discreet freeholders, who shall be empowered . . . to decide and determine all matters of controversy . . .

VI . . .

XIV. That all these officers hold their commissions during the pleasure of their several constituents.

XV . . .

XVI. That whatever person shall hereafter receive a commission from the Crown, or attempt to exercise any such commission heretofore received, shall be deemed an enemy to his country . . .

XVII. That any person refusing to yield obedience to the above Resolves, shall be considered equally criminal . . .

XVIII. That these Resolves be in full force and virtue, until instructions from the Provincial Congress, regulating the jurisprudence of the province, shall provide otherwise, or the legislative body of Great-Britain, resign its unjust and arbitrary pretentions with respect to America.

XIX . . .

XX. That the Committee appoint Colonel Thomas Polk, and Doctor Joseph Kennedy, to purchase 300 lb. of powder . . . Signed by order of the Committee,

EPH BREVARD, Clerk of the Committee.

This certainly should be considered, we think, adequate proof that the ” Committee of this county” of Mecklenburg passed the resolves there given on May 31, 1775; and the only question, therefore, we think, is, Were the resolves accredited (in 1819) to the “delegation” composed of “two persons” from “each militia company” “in the county of Mecklenburg” and to the 20th of the same month also passed?

We cannot but say that this seems to us very unlikely. We can see no reasons why the resolves attributed to the 20th, if in fact passed, should not have been the ones published in The South-Carolina Gazette, etc., rather than those of the 31st — especially as some resolves are admitted to have been read publicly in “Charlotte-Town” and in the General Court and sent to the Delegates in Congress and as it would be but natural to make public in the press the more pronounced, admitting that there were two sets of resolves. Indeed, if we can credit at all the resolves given in The South Carolina Gazette, etc., the military companies would seem not to have been organized in Mecklenburg County until after the 31st and in accordance with these resolves.

Certain it is that Hewes, who is stated “individually” to have “approved” of the “proceedings” a copy of which was carried to Philadelphia by James Jack, writes, from Philadelphia, December 1st, to Samuel Johnston (?): “no plan of Separation has been offered, the Colonies will never Agree to Any ’till drove to it by dire Necessity. I wish the time may not come too soon, I fear it will be the case if the British Ministry pursue their present diabolical Schemes, I am weary of politics and wish I could retire to my former private Station (to speak in the language of J. Child) a pence & farthings Man . . . P. S. The bearer William Chew who is sent express is to receive from you Sixty Dollars which you must charge to North Carolina, if he does not find you at Edenton he is to have Six pence per Mile and All ferryages paid, for any distance — that he may go out of his way to find you after he gets to Edenton[.]”

Of importance, too, are the facts that it also has come to light since the report of the General Assembly that there was attached to the ” Davie copy “a certificate from John M’Knitte Alexander and that this stated: “it may be worthy of notice here to observe that the foregoing statement though fundamentally correct, yet may not literally correspond with the original records of the transactions of said delegation and court of inquiry, as all those records and papers were burnt, with the house, on April 6th, 1800; but previous to that time of 1800, a full copy of said records, at the request of Doctor Hugh Williamson, then of New York, but formerly a representative in Congress from this State, was forwarded to him by Col. Wm. Polk in order that those early transactions might fill their proper place in a history of this State then writing by said Doctor Williams in New York. Certified to the best of my recollection and belief this 3d day of September, 1800, by J. McN. Alexander Mecklenburg County, N. C.”

On the other hand, it is zealously claimed that the resolves of the 20th were passed by a more or less popular assemblage (of which Alexander was clerk) and those of the 31st by the regular Committee of the County; or that those of the 31st were a revised set.

The passage in May, 1775, of even such resolutions as are given in The South-Carolina Gazette, etc., however, are greatly to the credit of Mecklenburg County; but they do not take from the fame of Jefferson.

It was not until Lexington and Concord — followed shortly by the death of Warren at Bunker Hill — that a declaration of independence became even a possibility.

Jefferson writes, May 7th, to Dr. William Small: “This accident has cut off our last hope of reconciliation, and a phrenzy of revenge seems to have seized all ranks of people . . . This may perhaps be intended to intimidate into acquiescence; but the effect has been most unfortunately otherwise.”

Samuel Adams, according to his biographer, came to the second Continental Congress (May 10th) “impressed with the necessity of an immediate declaration of independence.” (Indeed, there is a note among the Bancroft papers in the New York Public Library, Lenox, which says: “Samuel Adams said to Rush: For seven years before the commencement of the war [i. e. from 1768] independence has been the first wish of my heart.”)

Franklin, May 16th, sends a letter to London in which he says: “The breach between the two countries is grown wider, and in danger of becoming irreparable; and, on December 9th, he writes, to Charles W. F. Dumas: “… we wish to know whether … if, as it seems likely to happen, we should be obliged to break off all connection with Britain, and declare ourselves an independent people, there is any state or power in Europe who would be willing to enter into an alliance with us for the benefit of our commerce . . .”

Dr. Benjamin Church writes, July 23d: “The people of Connecticut are raving in the cause of liberty . . . The Jerseys are not a whit behind Connecticut in zeal. The Philadelphians exceed them both … I mingled freely and frequently with the members of the Continental Congress; they were united and determined in opposition . . . A view to independence appears to be more and more general.”

John Adams writes, to James Warren, July 24th: “We ought to have had in our hands, a month ago, the whole legislative, executive, and judicial of the whole continent, and have completely modeled a constitution; to have raised a naval power, and opened all our ports wide; to have arrested every friend of government on the continent and held them as hostages for the poor victims in Boston, and then opened the door as wide as possible for peace and reconciliation. After this, they might have petitioned, negotiated, addressed, &c. if they would.”

This, with a letter to his wife, fell into the hands of the enemy and was sent to England and published. Adams, in his Autobiography, says: “They [the British] thought them a great prize. The ideas of independence, to be sure, were glaring enough, and they thought they should produce quarrels among the members of Congress and a division of the Colonies. Me they expected utterly to ruin, because, as they represented, I had explicitly avowed my designs of independence. I cared nothing for this. I had made no secret, in or out of Congress, of my opinion that independence was become indispensable, and I was perfectly sure that in a little time the whole continent would be of my mind. I rather rejoiced in this as a fortunate circumstance, that the idea was held up to the whole world, and that the people could not avoid contemplating it and reasoning about it. Accordingly, from this time at least, if not earlier, and not from the publication of ‘ Common Sense,’ did the people in all parts of the continent turn their attention to this subject . . . Colonel Reed . . . said that Providence seemed to have thrown those letters before the public for our good .. .”

A member of Congress writes, to London, August 26th: “All trade to England, and every other part of the world, will most certainly be stopped on the tenth of next month . . . Whether that will be one means of dissolving our connections entirely with Great Britain, I shall leave to wiser heads to determine. I am far, very far, from wishing such an event, but, nevertheless, I am very apprehensive, from the present temper of our people, that a few more violent steps will lay a foundation for it.”

General Greene writes, to Washington from Prospect Hill, October 23d: “I hinted, in my last, that people begin heartily to wish a declaration of independence . . .” On December 20th, he says: “George the Third’s last speech has shut the door of hope for reconciliation . . . We are now driven to the necessity of making a declaration of independence.”

Bowdoin writes, to Samuel Adams, December 9th: “Our salvation under God depends upon a spirited exertion upon our part, & therefore all delicacy in our hostilities ought to be laid aside . . . We have already shewn too much of it, which instead of attributing it to the true cause — a desire on our part of a reconciliation & the keeping open a door for it — they have looked on as proceeding wholly from pusillanimity, which they expected would end, if rigorous measures were taken with us, in an abject submission . . . The Independence of America will probably grow out of the present dispute. A willing dependence on Great Britain cannot easily be apprehended, as her injuries have been so many & grievous, & all confidence in her justice is lost: — to such a degree lost, that we should not know how to trust her, even if she were sincerely to offer equitable terms of accommodation … I beg you would present my best regards to Dr. Franklin, Mr. Lynch, Col. Harrison, & the Mass Delegates . . .”

The second Continental Congress also met (May 10th) in Philadelphia — but at the State House, not at Carpenters Hall. Franklin had left England on March 21st, had arrived in Philadelphia on May 5th and had been unanimously chosen a Delegate by Pennsylvania on the 6th. The other new Delegates who appeared in Congress on the 10th were John Hancock of Massachusetts, John Langdon of New Hampshire, Thomas Willing of Pennsylvania and John Hall of Maryland. Still others attended later: Lyman Hall from the Parish of St. John’s in Georgia and Thomas Stone of Maryland on the 13th; Philip Schuyler, George Clinton, Lewis Morris (who arrived in Philadelphia on the 10th) and Robert R. Livingston of New York and James Wilson of Pennsylvania on the 15th; Jefferson of Virginia on June 21st; and Archibald Bullock, John Houston” and Rev. J. J. Zubly” of Georgia on September 13th. New York had elected for the first time also Francis Lewis. On the last day (September 13th) appeared as well George Wythe, Thomas Nelson, Jr., and Francis Lightfoot Lee of Virginia — who had been elected for the first time following the adjournment of Congress. Following this adjournment, New Hampshire also elected one new Delegate — Josiah Bartlett; North Carolina also one new Delegate — John Penn; Connecticut also two new Delegates — Samuel Huntington and Oliver Wolcott (together with one new alternate — William Williams; Pennsylvania two new Delegates — Robert Morris and Andrew Allen; Maryland two new Delegates — Robert Alexander and John Rogers; and Virginia one new Delegate — Carter Braxton.

Randolph was for the second time elected President.

He served, however, for a few days only. On the 24th of May, as shown by the Journal, ” The Congress met according to adjournment, but the honorable” Peyton Randolph Pres’ being under a necessity of returning home & having set out this morning early the chair was vacant wherefore on motion, the Honorable John Hancock was unanimously chosen President.”

This Congress, during the year, like the Congress of 1774, took no action whatever upon the question of independence.

John Adams writes to his wife, June nth: ” I have found this Congress like the last. When we first came together, I found a strong jealousy of us from New England, and the Massachusetts in particular; suspicions entertained of designs of independency; an American Republic; Presbyterian principles, and twenty other things. Our sentiments were heard in Congress with great caution, and seemed to make but little impression; but the longer we sat, the more clearly they saw the necessity of pushing vigorous measures. It has been so now . . . But America is a great unwieldy body. Its progress must be slow . . . Like a coach and six, the swiftest horses must be slackened, and the slowest quickened, that all may keep an even pace.”

Franklin, in a letter of October 3d, says: “We have as yet resolved only on defensive measures.”

The spirit73 which prevailed in the body is well shown by an incident described by Jefferson in his Autobiography: “Mr. Dickinson . . . still retained the object of reconciliation … he was so honest a man, and so able a one that he was greatly indulged even by those who could not feel his scruples . . . Congress gave a signal proof of their indulgence to Mr. Dickinson, and of their great desire not to go too fast for any respectable part of our body, in permitting him to draw their second petition to the king according to his own ideas, and passing it with scarcely any amendment, the disgust against it’s humility was general; and Mr. Dickinson’s delight at it’s passage was the only circumstance which reconciled them to it. the vote being past, altho’ further observe on it was out of order, he could not refrain from rising and expressing his satisfaction and concluded by saying “there is but one word, Mr. President, in the paper which I disapprove, & that is the word Congress.” on which Ben Harrison rose and said “there is but one word in the paper, Mr. President, of which I approve, and that is the word Congress [.] “”

Indeed, looking backward, many of the words of this Congress seem like anomalies! Especially is this true of the declaration — the most important measure of the year — setting forth the causes of taking up arms. Though, in effect, a declaration of war, it said: “Lest this declaration should disquiet the minds of our friends and fellow subjects in any part of the Empire, we assure them that we mean not to dissolve that union which has so long and so happily subsisted between us, and which we sincerely wish to see restored.”

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The Declaration of Independence: Its History Chapter 1 1774

The Declaration of Independence: Its History; Chapter 1 Year 1774

Old photo of Independence Hall; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where the Declaration was signed

Old photo of Independence Hall Assembly Room; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where the Declaration was signed

NOTE: There are many greater works on the history of the Declaration of Independence, due to the constraints of the blog format I am sharing this more concise one.

“I have sometimes asked myself whether my country is better for my
having lived at all? I do not know that it is. I have been the
instrument of doing the following things; but they would have been
done by others; some of them perhaps a little better.”
The declaration of independence; Jefferson’s Autobiography

Preface to The Declaration of Independence: Its History

THIS work is offered to the American people not only in the hope that it may be welcomed as a readable and reliable history of the Declaration of Independence but in the hope that it may in some degree tend to keep alive in their hearts the love of Liberty that possessed the [Founding] Fathers.

Benjamin Rush writes, to Rev. Mr. Gordon, at Roxbury, Mass., December 10, 1778: “Put us not off with Great Britain’s acknowledging our independance Alas! the great Ultimatum of our modern patriots. It is liberty alone that can make us happy. And without it the memorable 4th of July 1776 will be execrated by posterity as the day in which pandora’s box was opened in this country. I am impatient to see your history.”

That there are numerous quotations between its covers is due to a belief of the author that the subject called less for his own views than for facts, and also to a belief that the very words afforded the most pleasing presentation.

From some of those whose names have come down to us, numerous quotations have been made; from others, none at all. In this, there has been no intent to slight any particular person or Colony. Many of the patriots were engaged in other fields, equally important to the cause, and had nothing to do directly with the Declaration. Many others, we believe, never put their thoughts or described their deeds on paper. Still more perhaps were unfortunate (or fortunate) enough to have their writings either destroyed or lost. Indeed, John Adams writes to William Tudor, June 5, 1817: “The letters he [Samuel Adams] wrote and received, where are they? I have seen him, at Mrs. Yard’s in Philadelphia, when he was about to leave Congress, cut up with his scissors whole bundles of letters into atoms that could never be reunited, and throw them out of the window, to be scattered by the winds. This was in summer, when he had no fire …”

As to the accuracy of the history, it can be said that, without regard to the labor involved, original sources, wherever practicable, have been examined personally.

The author gratefully acknowledges courtesies extended to him by Charles Francis Adams, by James G. Barnwell and Bunford Samuel, of The Library Company of Philadelphia, by Edmund M. Barton, of the American Antiquarian Society, by John D. Crimmins and W. M. Reynolds, by Wilberforce Eames and Victor H. Paltsits, of the New York Public Library (Lenox), by Worthington Chauncey Ford, of the Library of Congress, by Simon Gratz, by Dr. Samuel A. Green, of the Massachusetts Historical Society, by S. M. Hamilton, formerly of the Bureau of Rolls and Library of the Department of State, by Dr. I. Minis Hays, of The American Philosophical Society, by John W. Jordan, of The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, by Robert H. Kelby, of the New York Historical Society, by Otto Kelsey, Comptroller of the State of New York, by J. Pierpont Morgan and Junius S. Morgan, by John Boyd Thacher, by George C. Thomas and A. Howard Ritter and by Arnold J. F. van Laer, of the New York State Library, in the examination of original manuscripts; by Worthington Chauncey Ford, in the securing of photographs of manuscripts, etc.; by Z. T. Hollingsworth; by Joseph F. Sabin; and by others mentioned.

J. H. H. [John Hampden Hazelton]
New York; 1905

SEVENTEEN HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-FOUR

SEVENTEEN hundred and seventy-four saw the people at large for the first time recognize that the cause of Boston was a common cause.

Accordingly, it was determined to hold a meeting of Delegates from the various Colonies; and Philadelphia was chosen as the place and the 5th of September as the day of meeting.

When the time approached, “Washington”, says Irving, “was joined at Mount Vernon by Patrick Henry and Edmund Pendleton, and they performed the journey together on horseback. It was a noble companionship. Henry was then in the youthful vigor and elasticity of his bounding genius; ardent, acute, fanciful, eloquent. Pendleton, schooled in public life, a veteran in council, with native force of intellect, and habits of deep reflection. Washington, in the meridian of his days, mature in wisdom, comprehensive in mind, sagacious in foresight.”

We have even a more interesting account of the journey of the Delegates of Massachusetts.

She had selected James Bowdoin, Samuel and John Adams, Thomas Cushing and Robert Treat Paine. Bowdoin having declined the appointment, the others set out from Boston, from Cushing’s house, in one coach, August 10th.

On the 15th, they were in Hartford, whither Silas Deane came to meet them; and, from him, they received an account of the New York Delegates, with whom they were unacquainted. On the 16th, about dusk, they arrived in New Haven; and “all the bells in town were set to ringing”. There, the next day, at the tavern (Isaac Bears’), Roger Sherman called upon them, and expressed the opinion “that the Parliament of Great Britain had authority to make laws for America in no case whatever.”

On the 20th, they ” Lodged at Cock’s, at Kingsbridge”; then breakfasted at Day’s; and arrived in New York “at ten o’clock, at Hull’s, a tavern, the sign the Bunch of Grapes “, whence they ” went to private lodgings at Mr. Tobias Stoutenberg’s, in King Street, very near the City Hall one way, and the French Church the other.” John Adams writes in his Diary: “The streets of this town are vastly more regular and elegant than those in Boston, and the houses are more grand, as well as neat. They are almost all painted, brick buildings and all.”

At 9 o’clock on the 26th, they “crossed Paulus Hook Ferry to New Jersey, then Hackinsack Ferry, then Newark Ferry, and dined at Elizabethtown”; and thence on to Brunswick. About noon on the 27th, they came to the tavern in Princeton, “which holds out the sign of Hudibras, near Nassau Hall College. The tavern keeper’s name is Hire.” Here they spent Sunday also, when they heard Dr. John Witherspoon preach, and, from Jonathan D. Sergeant, learned of the Delegates from Pennsylvania and Virginia, with whom also they were unacquainted, and still more of the Delegates from New York.

Having breakfasted, on Monday, at Trenton, they crossed the Delaware and passed through Bristol to Frankford, five miles from Philadelphia, where a number of gentlemen came from that city to meet them —among them, Thomas M:Kean, Thomas Mifflin, John Sullivan, Nathaniel Folsom and (?) Rutledge. They ” then rode into town, and dirty, dusty, and fatigued as we were,” writes John Adams in his Diary, “we could not resist the importunity to go to the tavern, the most genteel one in America”, where they met Thomas Lynch. Adams, on taking a walk around the city the next day, was much impressed with its “regularity and elegance”, in comparison with the “cowpaths” of Boston. On the last day of August, he and his associates moved their “lodgings to the house of Miss Jane Port, in Arch Street, about halfway between Front Street and Second Street”.

On September 1st, in the evening, the Massachusetts Delegates, together with the Delegates from the other Colonies who had arrived in Philadelphia, 25 in number, met at Smith’s, the new City Tavern. The Adamses, Cushing and Paine were introduced, the next day, to Peyton Randolph, Benjamin Harrison and Richard Henry Lee. On the 3d, they met Matthew Tilghman (perhaps) and Caesar Rodney.

Two days later (Monday, the 5th of September, the day which had been set for the meeting), “At ten”, writes John Adams in his Diary, “the delegates all met at the City Tavern, and walked to the Carpenters’ Hall, where they took a view of the room, and of the chamber where is an excellent library; there is also a long entry where gentlemen may walk, and a convenient chamber opposite to the library. The general cry was, that this was a good room …”

Thus began what has since become known as the First Continental Congress.

The Journal shows us that, on this day, Cushing, Samuel and John Adams and Paine of Massachusetts, Sullivan and Folsom of New Hampshire, Stephen Hopkins and Samuel Ward of Rhode Island, Eliphalet Dyer, Deane and Sherman of Connecticut, James Duane, John Jay, Philip Livingston, Isaac Low and William Floyd of New York, James Kinsey, William Livingston, John De Hart, Steven Crane and Richard Smith of New Jersey, Joseph Galloway, Samuel Rhoads, Mifflin, Charles Humphreys, John Morton and Edward Biddle of Pennsylvania, Rodney, McKean and George Read of Delaware, Robert Goldsborough, William Paca and Samuel Chase of Maryland, Randolph, Washington, Henry, Richard Bland, Harrison and Pendleton of Virginia and Henry Middleton, John and Edward Rutledge, Christopher Gadsden and Thomas Lynchof South Carolina were present. R. H. Lee of Virginia and Thomas John son, Jr., of Maryland took their seats on the next day. Tilghman of Maryland did not attend until the 12th; William Hooper and Joseph Hewes of North Carolina, Henry Wisner and John Alsop of New York and George Ross of Pennsylvania until the 14th; Richard Caswell of North Carolina until the 17th; John Herring of New York until the 26th; Simon Boerum of New York until October 1st; and John Dickinson of Pennsylvania until October 17th.

Randolph was unanimously chosen President; and Charles Thomson of Pennsylvania became Secretary.

This Congress agreed not to import, after the 1st of December, any goods, wares or merchandise from Great Britain or Ireland, or any East India tea, or any molasses, syrups, paneles, coffee or pimento from the British plantations or Dominica, or any wines from Madeira or the Western Islands or any foreign indigo; and the Delegates embodied in the agreement a nonconsumptive clause, binding themselves, as an effectual security for the observation of the non-importation. It was the beginning of the American Union.

Toward declaring independence, however, the First Continental Congress took no action whatever; nor does such a measure seem to have been considered even as a possibility.

Indeed, the association spoken of, of October 20th, itself avowed allegiance to his Majesty; and the address of this Congress to the King stated that the Colonists yielded to no other British subjects in affectionate attachment to his Majesty’s person, family and government.

Nor was there any real thought of independence among the people at large; though Hooper writes, to James Iredell, April 26th: “They [the Colonies] are striding fast to independence, and ere long will build an empire upon the ruin of Great Britain; will adopt its constitution purged of its impurities, and from an experience of its defects will guard against those evils which have wasted its vigor and brought it to an untimely end … I know too well your reverence for our Constitution not to forgive it in another, although it borders upon enthusiasm.” On May 31st, John Scollay writes — from Boston! — to Arthur Lee: “We have too great a regard for our parent State (although cruelly treated by some of her illegitimate sons) to withdraw our connection.” The General Assembly of New Jersey declared, July 21st, that their people and, indeed, the whole country ” detest all thoughts of an independence . . .” Even Washington, in a letter to Captain Mackenzie, written in October, says: “Give me leave to add, and I think I can announce it as a fact, that it is not the wish or interest of that government [Massachusetts], or any other upon this continent, separately or collectively, to set up for independence.”

These views are borne out by a letter dated April 12, 1776, from “A. B.” to Alexander Pardie: “It may, with certainty, be affirmed, that, among the ends which the Colonies (from South-Carolina to New York, inclusively) had in view when they began the present contest, independence held no place; and that the New England Governments, if they had it in view at all, considered it as a remote and contingent object.”

Most of the few who desired a separation lived in or about Boston. “A view to independence grows more and more general” appears in a letter from Dr. Benjamin Church intercepted by Washington at Cambridge in October.

There, Samuel Adams was a central figure. On April 4th, he writes to Arthur Lee: “… if the British administration and government do not return to the principles of moderation and equity, the evil which they profess to aim at preventing by their rigorous measures, will the sooner be brought to pass, viz.— the entire separation and independence of the Colonies … It requires but a small portion of the gift of discernment for anyone to foresee that Providence will erect a mighty empire in America . . .”

Of the opinions of John Adams during this year respecting independence, we have found no contemporaneous record; but a letter to Timothy Pickering, describing the trip to Philadelphia, written many years later (August 6, 1822) says: “I can write nothing which will not be suspected of personal vanity, local prejudice or Provincial & State partiality … As Mr Hancock was sick and confined Mr Bowdoin was chosen at the head of the Massachusetts delegation to Congress. His relations thought his great fortune ought not to be hazarded. Cushing, two Adams’s and Paine . . . were met at Frankfort by Dr Rush, Mr Miffin, Mr Bayard and several others of the most active Sons of Liberty, in Philadelphia, who desired a conference with us. We invited them to take Tea with us in a private apartment. They asked leave to give us some information and advice, which we thankfully granted. They represented to us, that the friends of Government in Boston and in the Eastern States, in their correspondence with their friends in Pennsylvania and all the Southern States, had represented us as four desperate adventurers. Mr Cushing was a harmless kind of man; but poor, and wholly dependent upon his popularity for his subsistence. Mr Samuel Adams was a very artful designing man, but desperately poor and wholly dependent on his popularity with the lowest vulgar for his living. John Adams and Mr Paine were two young Lawyers of no great talents reputation or weight, who had no other means of raising themselves into consequence but by courting popularity. We were all suspected of having Independence in view. Now, said they, you must not utter the word Independence, nor give the least hint or insinuation of the idea, neither in Congress or any private conversation; if you do — you are undone; for the idea of Independence is as unpopular in Pennsylvania and in all the middle and Southern States as the Stamp Act itself. No Man dares to speak of it. Moreover, you are the Representatives of the suffering State . . . you are thought to be too warm, too zealous, too sanguine, you must be therefore very cautious. You must not come forward with any bold measures: you must not pretend to take the lead. You know Virginia is the most populous State in the Union. They are very proud of their ancient Dominion, as they call it; they think they have a right to take the lead, and the Southern States and the middle States too, are too much disposed to yield it to them. This . . . made a deep impression on my mind and it had an equal effect on all my Colleagues. This conversation and the principles, facts and motives suggested in it, have given a colour, complection and character to the whole policy of the United States, from that day to this. Without it . . . Mr. Jefferson [would never] have been the Author of the declaration of Independence, nor Mr. Richard Henry Lee the mover of it . . . Although this advice dwelt deeply on my mind, I had not in my nature prudence and caution enough always to observe it … It soon became rumoured about the City that John Adams was for Independence; the Quakers and Proprietary gentlemen, took the alarm; represented me as the worst of men; the true-blue-sons of Liberty pitied me; all put me under a kind of Coventry. I was avoided like a man infected with the Leprosy. I walked the Streets of Philadelphia in solitude, borne down by the weight of care and unpopularity. But every ship for the ensuing year, brought us fresh proof of the truth of my prophesies, and one after another became convinced of the necessity of Independence.”

Of Virginians, very many think that [Patrick] Henry contributed more than any other man to light the fires of the Revolution; and Wirt goes much farther — claiming for him the credit of being the first of all the leading men of the Colonies to suggest independence. In the account of this patriot’s burst of eloquence, in 1773, he tells us that one of the audience reported that “the company appeared to be startled; for they had never heard anything of the kind even suggested.” Henry, in speaking of Great Britain, (his biographer continues) said: “I doubt whether we shall be able, alone, to cope with so powerful a nation. But where is France? Where is Spain? Where is Holland? the natural enemies of Great Britain — Where will they be all this time? . . . Will Louis the XVI, be asleep all this time? Believe me, no! When Louis the XVI, shall be satisfied by our serious opposition, and our Declaration of Independence, that all prospect of reconciliation is gone, then, and not till then, will he furnish us with arms, ammunition, and clothing; and not with these only, but he will send his fleets and armies to fight our battles for us; he will form with us a treaty offensive and defensive, against our unnatural mother. Spain and Holland will join the confederation! Our independence will be established! and we shall take our stand among the nations of the earth.”

Even Wirt’s claim, however, is outdone by Dr. Joseph Johnson. He says: “We claim for Christopher Gadsden that he first spoke of Independence in 1764, to his friends under Liberty Tree, and there renewed the subject in 1766, rather than submit to the unconstitutional taxes of Great Britain.”
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Benjamin Rush: The War of Independence and Future Hope for America July 4th 1776

Benjamin Rush: Father of American Psychiatry

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Benjamin Rush writes, to Rev. Mr. [William] Gordon, at Roxbury, Mass., December 10, 1778:

Dear Sir.

It gave me great pleasure to find from your last letter that your feelings & Opinions accord so exactly with mine on the present state of our Affairs. The time is now past, when the least danger is to be apprehended to our liberties from the power of Britain, the Arts of commissioners, or the machinations of Tories [British loyalists]. Tyranny can now enter our country only in the shape of a Whig [American Patriots]. All our jealousy Should be of ourselves. All our fears, Should be of our great men, whether in civil or military authority. Our Congress begin already to talk of the State Necessity, and of making justice yield in some cases to policy. This was the apology, I was told, for confirming the unjust Sentence that was passed upon General [Charles] Lee. Gordon tells us that in England, the Whigs in power are always Tories, and the Tories out of power are always Whigs. I think I have discovered Something of the same kind already in our country. In my opinion, we have more to dread from the Ambition, avarice, craft & dissolute Manners of our Whigs than we have from a host of Governor [George] Robinsons, Dr [John] Berkenhouts, [Thomas] Hutchinsons or [Joseph] Galloways. Virtue, Virtue, alone my dear friend, is the basis of a republic. “Fiat justitia, ruat coelum,” [Translation: “Let justice be done, though the heavens should fall“] was my maxim during the short time I acted for the public. I had no political Ambition to gratify. I neither feared nor courted any party. I loved liberty for its own Sake, & I both loved & pitied human nature too much to flatter it. But what was the consequence? my political race was Short. I thank my countrymen for dismissing me from their Service. I want no Offices nor honors from them. My temper & my business render me alike independent of the world. But still I will love them, & watch for their happiness. I long to see the image of God restored to the human mind. I long to see Virtue & religion supported & vice & irreligion banished from Society by wise & equitable governments. I long to see an Asylum prepared for the persecuted & oppressed of all countries, & a door opened for the progress of knowledge, literature, the Arts, & the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to the ends of the earth. And these great events are only to be accomplished by establishing & perpetuating liberty in our country. O! best of blessings! Who would not follow thee blindfold? Who would not defend thee from the treachery of friends as well as from the malice of enemies? But I must stop. When liberty, the liberty we loved, and contended for in the years 1774 & 1776 is my Subject, I know not where to begin, nor where to end. 0! come celestial stranger & dwell in this our land. Let not our ignorance, our Venality, our luxury, our idolatry to individuals, & our Other anti-republican Vices, provoke thee to forsake the temple our Ancestors prepared for thee. Put us not off with Great Britain’s acknowledging our independence. Alas! the great Ultimatum of our modern patriots. It is liberty alone that can make us happy. And without it the memorable 4th of July 1776, will be execrated by posterity as the day in which Pandora’s box was opened in this country.

I am impatient to see your history. How many Chapters or Volumes have you allotted for the blunders of our Congress, & generals? Weak minds begin already to ascribe our deliverance to them. Had not heaven defeated their counsels in a thousand instances, we should have been hewers of wood & drawers of water to the Subjects of the king of Britain.

With compts. to Mrs Gordon &c. I
am yours sincerely,

B. Rush. Dec’r 10th 1778.

Revd Mr. Gordon, at Roxbury, near Boston.

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Thomas Jefferson to Archibald Stuart on Amending the Virginia Constitution

Contains the quote by Jefferson “I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than to those attending too small a degree of it.”

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TO MR. STUART.

Philadelphia, December 23, 1791.

Dear Sir,—I received duly your favor of October 22, and should have answered it by the gentleman who delivered it, but that he left town before I knew of it.

That it is really important to provide a constitution for our State cannot be doubted: as little can it be doubted that the ordinance called by that name has important defects. But before we attempt it, we should endeavor to be as certain as is practicable that in the attempt we should not make bad worse. I have understood that Mr. Henry has always been opposed to this undertaking; and I confess that I consider his talents and influence such as that, were it decided that we should call a convention for the purpose of amending, I should fear he might induce that convention either to fix the thing as at present, or change it for the worse. Would it not therefore be well that means should be adopted for coming at his ideas of the changes he would agree to, and for communicating to him those which we should propose? Perhaps he might find ours not so distant from his, but that some mutual sacrifices might bring them together.

I shall hazard my own ideas to you as hastily as my business obliges me. I wish to preserve the line drawn by the federal constitution between the general [Federal] and particular [State] governments as it stands at present, and to take every prudent means of preventing either from stepping over it. Though the experiment has not yet had a long enough course to show us from which quarter encroachments are most to be feared, yet it is easy to foresee, from the nature of things, that the encroachments of the State governments will tend to an excess of liberty which will correct itself, (as in the late instance,) while those of the general government will tend to monarchy, which will fortify itself from day to day, instead of working its own cure, as all experience shows. I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty, than those attending too small a degree of it . Then it is important to strengthen the State governments; and as this cannot be done by any change in the federal constitution, (for the preservation of that is all we need contend for,) it must be done by the States themselves, erecting such barriers at the constitutional line as cannot be surmounted either by themselves or by the general government. The only barrier in their power is a wise government. A weak one will lose ground in every contest. To obtain a wise and an able government, I consider the following changes as important. Render the legislature a desirable station by lessening the number of representatives (say to 100) and lengthening somewhat their term, and proportion them equally among the electors. Adopt also a better mode of appointing senators. Render the Executive a more desirable post to men of abilities by making it more independent of the legislature. To wit, let him be chosen by other electors, for a longer time, and ineligible forever after. Responsibility is a tremendous engine in a free government. Let him feel the whole weight of it then, by taking away the shelter of his executive council. Experience both ways has already established the superiority of this measure. Render the judiciary respectable by every possible means, to wit, firm tenure in office, competent salaries, and reduction of their numbers. Men of high learning and abilities are few in every country; and by taking in those who are not so, the able part of the body have their hands tied by the unable. This branch of the government will have the weight of the conflict on their hands, because they will be the last appeal of reason. These are my general ideas of amendments; but, preserving the ends, I should be flexible and conciliatory as to the means. You ask whether Mr. Madison and myself could attend on a convention which should be called? Mr. Madison’s engagements as a member of Congress will probably be from October to March or April in every year. Mine are constant while I hold my office, and my attendance would be very unimportant. Were it otherwise, my office should not stand in the way of it. I am, with great and sincere esteem, dear Sir, your friend and servant.
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