KINGS or parliaments could not give the rights essential to happiness, as you confess those invaded by the Stamp Act to be. We claim them from a higher sourceâ€”from the King of kings, and Lord of all the earth. They are not annexed to us by parchments and seals . They are created in us by the decrees of Providence which establish the laws of our nature . They are born with us; exist with us; and cannot be taken from us by any human power, without taking our lives. In short, they are founded on the immutable maxims of reason and justice . It would be an insult on the divine Majesty to say, that he has given or allowed any man or body of men a right to make me miserable. If no man or body of men has such a right, I have a right to be happy. If there can be no happiness without freedom, I have a right to be free. If I cannot enjoy freedom without security of property, I have a right to be thus secured. If my property cannot be secure, in case others over whom I have no kind of influence may take it from me by taxes under pretence of the public good, and, for enforcing their demands, may subject me to arbitrary, expensive, and remote jurisdictions, I have an exclusive right to lay taxes on my own property either by myself or those I can trust; of necessity to judge in such instances of the public good; and to be exempt from such jurisdictions. ….
Every man must remember, how, immediately after the tempest of the late war was laid, another storm began to gather over North America. Every wind that blew across the Atlantic brought with it additional darkness. Every act of the administration seemed calculated to produce distress and to excite terror. We were alarmedâ€”we were afflicted. Many of our colonies sent home petitions; others ordered their agents to make proper applications on their behalf. What was the effect? They were rejected without reading. They could not be presented, “without breaking through a rule of the house.” They insisted upon a right, that, it “was previously determined should not be admitted.” The language of the ministry was “that they would teach the insolent North Americans the respect due to the laws of their mother country.” They moved for a resolution “that the parliament could legally tax us.” It was made. For a bill; it was framed. For its dispatch; it was passed. The badges of our shame were prepared, too gross, too odiousâ€”even in the opinion of that administrationâ€”to be fastened upon us by any but Americans. Strange delusion! to imagine that treachery could reconcile us to slavery. They looked around; they found Americansâ€”0 Virtue! they found Americans to whom the confidence of their country had committed the guardianship of her rightsâ€”on whom her bounty had bestowed all the wreck of her fortunes could affordâ€”ready to rivet on their native land, the nurse of their infancy, the protectrix of their youth, the honorer of their manhood, the fatal fetters which their information had helped to forge. They were to be gratified with part of the plunder in oppressive offices for themselves and their creatures. By these, that they might reap the rewards of their corruption, were we advisedâ€”by these, that they might return masters who went out servants, were we desiredâ€”to put on the chains, and then with shackled hands to drudge in the dark, as well as we could, forgetting the light we had lost “If1forget thee, let my right hand forget her cunningâ€”if I do not remember thee, may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth,”
â€śThe highest glory of the American Revolution was this; it connected, in one indissoluble bond, the principles of civil government with the principles of Christianity.â€ť quote John Quincy Adams
A DUTY TO POSTERITY
[From the Same.]
HONOR, justice and humanity call upon us to hold and to transmit to our posterity, that liberty, which we received from our ancestors. It is not our duty to leave wealth to our children; but it is our duty to leave liberty to them. No infamy, iniquity, or cruelty can exceed our own if we, born and educated in a country of freedom, entitled to its blessings and knowing their value, pusillanimously deserting the post assigned us by Divine Providence, surrender succeeding generations to a condition of wretchedness from which no human efforts, in all probability, will be sufficient to extricate them; the experience of all states mournfully demonstrating to us that when arbitrary power has been established over them, even the wisest and bravest nations that ever flourished have, in a few years, degenerated into abject and wretched vassals.