on the present State of American Affairs
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
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, decide the contest; the appeal was the
choice of the king, and the continent hath accepted the challenge.
It hath been reported of the late Mr. Pelham (who tho' 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 shined on a cause of greater worth. 'Tis not the
affair of a city, a country, a province, or a kingdom, but of
a continent of at least one eighth part of the habitable globe.
'Tis not 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 almanacs of
the last year; which, though proper then, are superseded and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 hath failed, and the second hath 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 hath flourished
under her former connection with Great Britain, that the same
connection 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 commerce by which she hath 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 motive, viz. 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; 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 wave 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 roundabout 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 ever
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 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 off 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
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
the force of local prejudice, 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 neighbour; 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 travels out of the
county, and meet 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
ones; distinctions too limited for continental minds. Not one
third of the inhabitants, even of this province, are of English
descent. Therefore I reprobate the phrase of parent or mother
country applied to England only, as being false, selfish, narrow
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 anything; 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 we sustain by that connection,
are without number; and our duty to mankind I at large, as well
as to ourselves, instruct 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
connection 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 dependance 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
connection 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 any thing 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, 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
for a few moments to Boston, that seat of wretchedness will
teach us wisdom, and instruct us for ever 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 condition 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 offenses
of Britain, and, still hoping for the best, are apt to call
out, '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 into your land? If
you cannot do all these, then are you only deceiving yourselves,
and by your delay bringing ruin upon posterity. Your future
connection 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 you 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 is not infaming 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 do not conquer herself
by delay and timidity. The present winter is worth
an age if rightly 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
It is repugnant to reason, to the universal order of things,
to all examples from the former ages, to suppose, that this
continent can longer remain subject to any external power. The
most sanguine in Britain does 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 connection, 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 and nothing hath contributed
more than that 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 me we may suppose that nations, which
have been once defeated, will never renew the quarrel.
As to government matters, it is not in the powers 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 very 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 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, a little more, a little farther,
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 Bunkerhill price for law, as for land. As I
have always considered the independency of this continent, as
an event, which sooner or later must arrive, so from the late
rapid progress of the continent to maturity, the event could
not 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 of a suit at
law, to regulate the trespasses of a tenant, whose lease is
just expiring. No man was a warmer wisher for reconciliation
than myself, before the fatal nineteenth of April 1775, but
the moment the event of that day was made known, I rejected
the hardened, sullen tempered Pharaoh 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
First. 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 man to say to these colonies,
'You shall make no laws but what I please.' And is there
any inhabitants in America so ignorant, as not to know, that
according to what is called the present constitution,
that 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 suit 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 make 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, whether we shall make our own laws, or whether the
king, the greatest enemy this continent hath, or can have, shall
tell us 'there shall be now 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, there 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, tho' I will never cease to expose the absurdity
of it, and only answer, that England being the king's residence,
and America not so, make 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 farther 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 interfere 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 kingdom 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 SUBTILTY, IN THE
LONG RUN, WHAT HE CANNOT DO BY FORCE AND VIOLENCE IN THE SHORT
ONE. Reconciliation and ruin are nearly related.
Secondly. 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 who 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 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 are
ten times more to dread from a patched up connection than from
independence. I make the sufferers case my own, and I protest,
that were I driven from house and home, my property destroyed,
and my circumstances ruined, that as 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 bead. No man
can assign the least pretence for his fears, on any other grounds,
that such as are truly childish and ridiculous, 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
are 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 enterprizing 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
negociate 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 to useful matter.
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 390. 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 whole Congress choose (by
ballot) a president from out of the delegates of that
province. I 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 join 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 for 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, 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 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.' Dragonetti on Virtue and Rewards.
But where says some is the King of America? I'll tell you Friend,
he reigns above, and doth not make havoc of mankind like the
Royal 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 at 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 in finitely 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 Massenello
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, may 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.
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
forgive the murders of Britain. The Almighty hath implanted
in us these inextinguishable feelings for good and wise purposes.
They are the guardians of his image in our hearts. They distinguish
us from the herd of common animals. The social compact would
dissolve, and justice be extirpated the earth, of 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
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 hunted 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.