Common Sense Audiobook by Thomas Paine (February 4, 1776)


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Transcript:
CHAPTER 0 INTRODUCTION
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 are 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 of 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
POSTSCRIPT TO PREFACE IN THE THIRD EDITION
P.S. The Publication of this new Edition hath been delayed, with a View of taking
notice (had it been necessary) of any Attempt to refute the Doctrine of
Independance: As no Answer hath yet
appeared, it is now presumed that none will, the Time needful for getting such a
Performance ready for the Public being considerably past.
Who the Author of this Production is, is wholly unnecessary to the Public, as the
Object for Attention is the DOCTRINE ITSELF, not the MAN.
Yet it may not be unnecessary to say, That he is unconnected with any Party, and under
no sort of Influence public or private, but the influence of reason and principle.
Philadelphia, February 14, 1776.
>
CHAPTER 1 OF 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 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 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 on 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 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.
This necessity, like a gravitating power, would soon form our newly arrived emigrants
into society, the reciprocal blessing of which, would supersede, 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
REGULATIONS, 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 act were they present.
If the colony continues increasing, it will become necessary to augment the number of
the 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
reflexion 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 snow, or our ears deceived by sound;
however prejudice may warp our wills, or interest darken our understanding, the
simple voice of nature and of 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 over run 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 (tho' 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.
FIRST. The remains of monarchical tyranny in the
person of the king.
SECONDLY. The remains of aristocratical tyranny in
the persons of the peers. THIRDLY.
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.
FIRST.
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.
SECONDLY.
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 an house in behalf of the king; the commons in
behalf of the people; but this hath all the
distinctions of an house divided against itself; 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 some thing 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; 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 endeavors 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 more 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
TO 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.
>
CHAPTER 2 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 oppression
and avarice.
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 enquiring 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 throw mankind into confusion.
Holland without a king hath enjoyed more peace for this last century than any of the
monarchical governments in Europe.
Antiquity favors the same remark; for the quiet and rural lives of the first
patriarchs hath a happy something in them, which vanishes away when we come to the
history of Jewish royalty.
Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens, from whom
the children of Israel copied the custom.
It was the most prosperous invention the Devil ever set on foot for the promotion of
idolatry.
The Heathens paid divine honors 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 CAESAR THE THINGS WHICH ARE CAESAR'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 of 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 denounced 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, thro' the divine interposition, decided in his
favour.
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 stile of
a prophet charges them with disaffection to their proper Sovereign, the King of heaven.
About one hundred and thirty 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 entrusted
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 Heathens, whereas their true glory laid 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 BROUGHT 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 THEREFORE HEARKEN UNTO THEIR VOICE, HOWBEIT, PROTEST SOLEMNLY UNTO THEM AND
SHEW 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 READ 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 expence 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 FEED, 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 then was a punishment, being in the time of
wheat harvest) 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 king-craft, as priest-
craft, 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 an 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 honors of his
cotemporaries, 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 any other 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 honorable
origin; whereas it is more than probable, that could we take off the dark covering of
antiquity, and trace them to their first
rise, that we should find the first of them nothing better than the principal ruffian
of some restless gang, whose savage manners or pre-eminence in subtility obtained him
the title of chief among plunderers; and
who by increasing in power, and extending his depredations, over-awed 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 right 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
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 lot, 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 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 parrallel 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 reassuming some former state and
privilege, it unanswerably follows that original sin and hereditary succession are
parallels.
Dishonorable rank! Inglorious connexion!
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 a 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 favour 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
barefaced 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 on.
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 recalled
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 that in some countries they
have none; and after sauntering away their lives without pleasure to themselves or
advantage to the nation, withdraw from the
scene, and leave their successors to tread the same 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 in 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 an 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.
>
CHAPTER 3 THOUGHTS ON THE PRESENT STATE OF 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, 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 era 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 the 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 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 connexion 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
connexion with Great Britain, that 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 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 expence 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 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 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 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 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 travel 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.
COUNTY-MAN; 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.
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 shew, 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 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 on 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 encreases 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 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, honour, 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 honour, 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 still can shake hands with the murderers, then you are unworthy
of 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 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 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
and useful.
It is repugnant to reason, to 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 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 falacious 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--and noting 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 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 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 independance; 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 ballanced 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.
As I have always considered the independancy 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 on 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 reasons. 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 shewn 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 inhabitant 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 it 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 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
endeavour 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 INDEPENDANT, for independancy 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 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, 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, though 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 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 shew 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 SUBTILITY, 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 independance, 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 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 independance, 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 connexion than from
independance.
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 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, that 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 are all (and we may
say always) in peace.
Holland and Swisserland 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 negotiate the mistake.
If there is any true cause of fear respecting independance, 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 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.
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 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 impowered
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 comformable 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 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 as
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
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, [*1] Massanello may hereafter arise, who laying hold of
popular disquietudes, may collect together the desperate and 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 independance 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 unextinguishable 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 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 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.
>
CHAPTER 4 OF THE PRESENT ABILITY OF AMERICA, WITH
SOME MISCELLANEOUS REFLEXIONS
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 shewn less judgment, than in endeavouring to describe, what we call, the
ripeness or fitness of the Continent for independance.
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 endeavour, 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 prove 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 and difficult to procure.
Were the continent crowded with inhabitants, her sufferings under the
present circumstances would be intolerable.
The more sea port towns we had, the more should we have both to defend and to loose.
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 a settled form of government, an independant
constitution of it's 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 pedling 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 an half
sterling.
The first and second editions of this pamphlet were published without the
following calculations, which are now given as a proof that the above estimation of the
navy is a just one.
SEE ENTIC'S NAVAL HISTORY, INTRO. page 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 a 100 guns: 35,553 L.; 90 guns: 29,886 L.; 80 guns: 23,638 L.;
70 guns: 17,785 L.; 60 guns: 14,197 L.; 50 guns: 10,606 L.; 40 guns: 7,558 L.;
30 guns: 5,846 L.; 20 guns: 3,710 L.
And from 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 as its greatest glory consisted of the
following ships and guns.
SHIPS: 6 GUNS: 100 COST OF ONE: 35,553 L. COST OF ALL: 213,318 L.
SHIPS: 12 GUNS: 90 COST OF ONE: 29,886 L. COST OF ALL: 358,632 L.
SHIPS 12 GUNS: 80 COST OF ONE: 23,638 L. COST OF ALL: 283,656 L.
SHIPS: 43 GUNS: 70 COST OF ONE: 17,785 L. COST OF ALL: 746,755 L.
SHIPS: 35 GUNS: 60 COST OF ONE: 14,197 L. COST OF ALL: 496,895 L.
SHIPS: 40 GUNS: 50 COST OF ONE: 10,606 L. COST OF ALL: 424,240 L.
SHIPS: 45 GUNS: 40 COST OF ONE: 7,558 L. COST OF ALL: 340,110 L.
SHIPS: 58 GUNS: 20 COST OF ONE: 3,710 L. COST OF ALL: 215,180 L.
SHIPS: 85; Sloops, bombs, and fireships, one with another, at 2,000 L. each: Total
170,000
COST: 3,266,786 Remains for guns: 233,214 Total: 3,500,000
No country on the globe is so happily situated, 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
manufactory 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 sailor.
The Terrible privateer, 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
landmen in the common work of a ship.
Wherefore, we never can be more capable to begin 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 has withheld 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 now is 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 the
city of Philadelphia under instant 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 we be so unwise as to mean, that she shall keep a navy in our harbours for that
purpose?
Common sense will tell us, that the power which hath endeavoured 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 harbours, 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, but not a tenth part of
them are at any time fit for service, numbers of them 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 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, have been made use of by a set of disguised Tories to discourage our
beginning thereon.
Nothing can be farther 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
neighbourhood 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 guard ships 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. Cannons 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, shews 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
dependents, 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 independance. 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 become too much absorbed
thereby to attend to any thing 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 area
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 indispensible duty of all government, 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 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 page [III par 47], 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 rementioning 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 or
religion, personal freedom, or property.
A firm bargain and a right reckoning make long friends.
In a former page I 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 that province, ought to warn the people
at large, how they trust power out of their own hands.
A set of instructions for the Delegates were put together, which in point of sense
and business would have dishonored a schoolboy, 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 hath 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?
When 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. [*Note 1]
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 shew,
that nothing can settle our affairs so
expeditiously as an open and determined declaration for independance.
Some of which are,
FIRST--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 Great Britain, no power, however well disposed she may be,
can offer her mediation. Wherefore, in our present state we may
quarrel on for ever.
SECONDLY--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
connection between Britain and America; because, those powers would be sufferers by
the consequences.
THIRDLY--While we profess ourselves the subjects of Britain, we must, in the eye 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 the common understanding.
FOURTHLY--Were a manifesto to be published, and despatched to foreign courts, setting
forth the miseries we have endured, and the peaceable methods 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 connections with her; at the same
time, assuring all such courts of our peacable 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
independance, 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 independance 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.
Note 1 Those who would fully understand of what great consequence a large and equal
representation is to a state, should read Burgh's political Disquisitions.
>
CHAPTER 5 APPENDIX
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 a more necessary time.
The bloody mindedness of the one, shew 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
Independance.
Ceremony, and even, silence, from whatever motive 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 it may be called one, is nothing better than a wilful 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
consequence of Kings; for as nature knows them NOT, they know NOT HER, and although
they are beings of our OWN 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, even 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 a
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 so calmly hear, and digest such
doctrine, hath forfeited his claim to rationality--an apostate from the order of
manhood; and ought to be considered--as
one, who hath, not only given up the proper dignity of a 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 who is 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 ye 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 farther remarks to the following heads.
First, That it is the interest of America to be separated from Britain.
Secondly, Which is the easiest and most practicable plan, RECONCILIATION or
INDEPENDANCE? 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 is, 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
independant of each other as France and
Spain; because in many articles, neither can go to a better market.
But it is the independance 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.
First, Because it will come to that one time or other.
Secondly, 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 most general, viz. that had
this rupture happened forty or fifty years hence, instead of NOW, the Continent would
have been more able to have shaken 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 have been
totally extinct.
The Continent, would not, by that time, have had a General, or even a military
officer left; and we, or those who may succeed us, would have been 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 should 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 to remain the governing and
sovereign power of America, (which, as matters are now circumstanced, is giving up
the point intirely) 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 burthen to any,
and the quit-rent reserved thereon, will always lessen, and in time, will wholly
support the yearly expence 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 INDEPENDANCE; 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 INDEPENDANCE 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
reflexion.
Without law, without government, without any other mode of power than what is
founded on, and granted by courtesy.
Held together by an unexampled concurrence of sentiment, which, is nevertheless
subject to change, and which, every secret enemy is endeavouring to dissolve.
Our present condition, is, Legislation without law; wisdom without a plan;
constitution without a name; and, what is strangely astonishing, perfect Independance
contending for dependance.
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 starts.
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 INDEPENDANCE 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 spreading
specious falsehoods.
The artful and hypocritical letter which appeared a few months ago in two of the New
York papers, and likewise in two others, is an evidence that there are men who want
either judgment or 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 on in sixty-three: 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 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 sixty-three, it is not sufficient, that the laws only be put
on the same state, but, that our circumstances, likewise, be put on 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 a mode of defence became necessary, all subjection
to Britain ought to have ceased; and the independancy 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 independancy
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 independancy 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 event of a few
months.
The Reflexion is awful--and in this point of view, How trifling, how ridiculous, do
the little, paltry cavellings, 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 an Independance 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 Independance, which men should rather
privately think of, than be publicly told of.
We ought not now to be debating whether we shall be independant 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 Independance. In short, Independance is the only BOND
that can tye 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 a 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 INDEPENDANTLY
redressing them ourselves, and then offering to open the trade.
The mercantile and reasonable part in England, will be still with 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 favour 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 neighbour 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 INDEPENDANT STATES OF AMERICA.
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