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Common Sense, by Thomas Paine
July 4th, 1994 [Etext #147]
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PROJECT GUTENBERG ETEXT OF _COMMON SENSE_ BY THOMAS PAINE
Mr. Paine's footnotes are contained within brackets [ ] within the text.
As this is my first attempt at Etext transcription, I welcome
all comments and suggestions - I trust there shall be many!
I had an especially difficult time keeping margins even as
the word processor I started with could not handle such a large
file and the program I changed to was one I had not used before
so there were some quirks I had not expected. Most of the text
in all caps was in italics in the version of the book I used.
Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages,
are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour;
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 defense 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 usurpation 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 hath, and will arise, which are not local, but universal,
and through which the principles of all Lovers of Mankind are affected,
and in the Event of which, their Affections are interested.
The laying a Country desolate with Fire and Sword, declaring War
against the natural rights of all Mankind, and extirpating
the Defenders thereof from the Face of the Earth, is the Concern
of every Man to whom Nature hath given the Power of feeling;
of which Class, regardless of Party Censure, is the AUTHOR.
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
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 our wickedness;
the former promotes our POSITIVELY by uniting our affections,
the latter NEGATIVELY by restraining our vices. The one
encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions.
The first 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 expense 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 of 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.
Thus necessity, like a gravitating power, would soon form our newly
arrived emigrants into society, the reciprocal blessings 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 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 reflection of not making a rod
for themselves. And as this frequent interchange will establish
a common interest with every part of the community, they will
mutually and naturally support each other, and on this (not on
the unmeaning name of king) depends the STRENGTH OF GOVERNMENT,
AND THE HAPPINESS OF THE GOVERNED.
Here then is the origin and rise of government; namely, a mode rendered
necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world;
here too is the design and end of government, viz. freedom and security.
And however our eyes may be dazzled with show, or our ears deceived by sound;
however prejudice may warp our wills, or interest darken our understanding,
the simple voice of nature and 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 overrun with tyranny the least remove therefrom
was a glorious rescue. But that it is imperfect, subject to convulsions,
and incapable of producing what it seems to promise, is easily demonstrated.
Absolute governments (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 monarchial 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 a house in behalf
of the king, the commons in behalf of the people; but this hath all
the distinctions of a house divided against itself; 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 endeavours will be ineffectual; the first moving power will
at last have its way, and what it wants in speed, is supplied by time.
That the crown is this overbearing part in the English constitution,
needs not be mentioned, and that it derives its whole consequence
merely from being the giver of places and pensions, is self-evident,
wherefore, though we have been wise enough to shut and lock a door
against absolute monarchy, we at the same time have been foolish
enough to put the crown in possession of the key.
The prejudice of Englishmen in favour of their own government by king,
lords, and commons, arises as much or more from national pride than reason.
Individuals are undoubtedly safer in England than in some other countries,
but the WILL of the king is as much the LAW of the land in Britain
as in France, with this difference, that instead of proceeding directly
from his mouth, it is handed to the people under the 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 a wife, so any prepossession in favour of a rotten constitution
of government will disable us from discerning a good one.
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 inquiring into, and whether they are the means of happiness
or of misery to mankind.
In the early ages of the world, according to the scripture chronology,
there were no kings; the consequence of which was, there were no wars;
it is the pride of kings which throw mankind into confusion. Holland
without a king hath enjoyed more peace for this last century than any
of the monarchial governments in Europe. Antiquity favours 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 honours
to their deceased kings, and the Christian world hath improved
on the plan, by doing the same to their living ones. How impious
is the title of sacred majesty applied to a worm, who in the midst
of his splendor is crumbling into dust!
As the exalting one man so greatly above the rest cannot be justified
on the equal rights of nature, so neither can it be defended on the
authority of scripture; for the will of the Almighty, as declared
by Gideon and the prophet Samuel, expressly disapproves of government
by kings. All anti-monarchical parts of scripture have been very smoothly
glossed over in monarchical governments, but they undoubtedly merit the
attention of countries which have their governments yet to form.
RENDER UNTO 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.
Now 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 honour, 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, through 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 honour,
but denieth their right to give it; neither doth he compliment them
with invented declarations of his thanks, but in the positive style
of a prophet charges them with disaffection to their proper Sovereign,
the King of heaven.
About one hundred 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
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 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
HORSEMAN, 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 REAP HIS HARVEST, AND TO MAKE HIS INSTRUMENTS OF WAR,
AND INSTRUMENTS OF HIS CHARIOTS; AND HE WILL TAKE YOUR DAUGHTERS
TO BE CONFECTIONARIES, AND TO BE COOKS AND TO BE BAKERS
(this describes the expense and luxury as well as the oppression
of kings) AND HE WILL TAKE YOUR FIELDS AND YOUR OLIVE YARDS,
EVEN THE BEST OF THEM, AND GIVE THEM TO HIS SERVANTS;
AND HE WILL TAKE THE TENTH OF YOUR SEED, AND OF YOUR VINEYARDS,
AND GIVE THEM TO HIS OFFICERS AND TO HIS SERVANTS
(by which we see that bribery, corruption, and favouritism
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,
AND THE LORD SENT THUNDER AND RAIN THAT DAY, AND ALL THE PEOPLE GREATLY
FEARED THE LORD AND SAMUEL. AND ALL THE PEOPLE SAID UNTO SAMUEL,
PRAY FOR THY SERVANTS UNTO THE LORD THY GOD THAT WE DIE NOT,
FOR _WE HAVE ADDED UNTO OUR SINS THIS EVIL, TO ASK A KING._
These portions of scripture are direct and positive.
They admit of no equivocal construction. That the Almighty
hath here entered his protest against monarchical government,
is true, or the scripture is false. And a man hath good reason
to believe that there is as much of kingcraft, as priestcraft,
in withholding the scripture from the public in Popish countries.
For monarchy in every instance is the Popery of government.
To the evil of monarchy we have added that of hereditary succession;
and as the first is a degradation and lessening of ourselves,
so the second, claimed as a matter of right, is an insult
and 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 honours of his contemporaries, yet his descendants might
be far too unworthy to inherit them. One of the strongest NATURAL proofs
of the folly of hereditary right in kings, is, that nature disapproves it,
otherwise she would not so frequently turn it into ridicule by
giving mankind an ASS FOR A LION.
Secondly, as no man at first could possess any other public honours
than were bestowed upon him, so the givers of those honours could have
no power to give away the right of posterity. And though they might
say, "We chooses you for OUR head," they could not, without manifest
injustice to their children, say, "that your children and your
children's children shall reign over OURS for ever." Because such
an unwise, unjust, unnatural compact might (perhaps) in the next
succession put them under the government of a rogue or a fool.
Most wise men, in their private sentiments, have ever treated
hereditary right with contempt; yet it is one of those evils,
which when once established is not easily removed;
many submit from fear, others from superstition,
and the more powerful part shares with the king the plunder of the rest.
This is supposing the present race of kings in the world to have had an
honourable origin; whereas it is more than probable, that could we take
off the dark covering of antiquities, 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 preeminence in subtlety obtained the title of chief among plunderers;
and who by increasing in power, and extending his depredations,
overawed the quiet and defenseless 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 complemental; but as few or no records were
extant in those days, and traditional 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 favour 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
honourable 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 be. If the
first king of any country was by election, that likewise establishes a
precedent for the next; for to say, that the RIGHT of all future
generations is taken away, by the act of the first electors,
in their choice not only of a king, but of a family of kings for ever,
hath no parallel in or out of scripture but the doctrine of original sin,
which supposes the free will of all men lost in Adam;
and from such comparison, and it will admit of no other,
hereditary succession can derive no glory. For as in Adam all sinned,
and as in the first electors all men obeyed; as in the one all mankind
we re 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.
Dishonourable rank! Inglorious connection! Yet the most subtle 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 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 ground. 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.
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 this 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 county, 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 honour.
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 aera
for politics is struck; a new method of thinking hath arisen.
All plans, proposals, &c. prior to the nineteenth of April,
i. e. to the commencement of hostilities, are like the almanacs
of the last year; which, though proper then are superseded
and useless now. Whatever was advanced by the advocates on
either side of the question then, terminated in one and the
same point. viz. a union with Great-Britain: the only difference
between the parties was the method of effecting it; the one
proposing force, the other friendship; but it hath so far
happened that the first hath failed, and the second hath
withdrawn her influence.
As much hath been said of the advantages of reconciliation which,
like an agreeable dream, hath passed away and left us as we were,
it is but right, that we should examine the contrary side
of the argument, and inquire into some of the many material injuries
which these colonies sustain, and always will sustain,
by being connected with, and dependent on Great Britain:
To examine that connection and dependence, on the principles
of nature and common sense, to see what we have to trust to,
if separated, and what we are to expect, if dependant.
I have heard it asserted by some, that as America hath
flourished under her former connection with Great Britain
that the same connection is necessary towards her future
happiness, and will always have the same effect.
Nothing can be more fallacious than this kind of argument.
We may as well assert that because a child has thrived upon milk
that it is never to have meat, or that the first twenty years
of our lives is to become a precedent for the next twenty.
But even this is admitting more than is true, for I answer roundly,
that America would have flourished as much, and probably much more,
had no European power had any thing to do with her. The commerce,
by which she hath enriched herself, are the necessaries of life,
and will always have a market while eating is the custom of Europe.
But she has protected us, say some. That she has engrossed
us is true, and defended the continent at our expense as well
as her own is admitted, and she would have defended Turkey
from the same motive, viz. the sake of trade and dominion.
Alas, we have been long led away by ancient prejudices,
and made large sacrifices to superstition. We have boasted
the protection of Great Britain, without considering,
that her motive was INTEREST not ATTACHMENT; that she
did not protect us from OUR ENEMIES on OUR ACCOUNT,
but from HER ENEMIES on HER OWN ACCOUNT, from those
who had no quarrel with us on any OTHER ACCOUNT,
and who will always be our enemies on the SAME ACCOUNT.
Let Britain wave her pretensions to the continent,
or the continent throw off the dependence, 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 connections.
It has 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. COUNTRYMAN;
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; therefore, 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 dependence 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 dependence on Britain,
she is made the make-weight in the scale of British politics.
Europe is too thickly planted with kingdoms to be long at peace,
and whenever a war breaks out between England and any foreign power,
the trade of America goes to ruin, BECAUSE OF HER CONNECTION WITH ENGLAND.
The next war may not turn out like the last, and should it not,
the advocates for reconciliation now, will be wishing for separation then,
because, neutrality in that case, would be a safer convoy than a man of war.
Every thing that is right or natural pleads for separation. The blood
of the slain, the weeping voice of nature cries, 'TIS TIME TO PART.
Even the distance at which the Almighty hath placed England and America,
is a strong and natural proof, that the authority of the one, over the other,
was never the design of Heaven. The time likewise at which the continent
was discovered, adds weight to the argument, and the manner in which it
was peopled increases the force of it. The reformation was preceded
by the discovery of America, as if the Almighty graciously meant
to open a sanctuary to the Persecuted in future years,
when home should afford neither friendship nor safety.
The authority of Great Britain over this continent,
is a form of government, which sooner or later must have an end:
And a serious mind can draw no true pleasure by looking forward
under the painful and positive conviction, that what he calls
"the present constitution" is merely temporary. As parents,
we can have no joy, knowing that THIS GOVERNMENT is not sufficiently
lasting to ensure any thing which we may bequeath to posterity:
And by a plain method of argument, as we are running the next generation
into debt, we ought to do the work of it, otherwise we use them meanly
and pitifully. In order to discover the line of our duty rightly,
we should take our children in our hand, and fix our station a few years
farther into life; that eminence will present a prospect, which a few
present fears and prejudices conceal from our sight.
Though I would carefully avoid giving unnecessary offense,
yet I am inclined to believe, that all those who espouse the doctrine
of reconciliation, may be included within the following descriptions.
Interested men, who are not to be trusted; weak men, who CANNOT see;
prejudiced men, who WILL NOT see; and a certain set of moderate men,
who think better of the European world than it deserves;
and this last class, by an ill-judged deliberation, will be
the cause of more calamities to this continent, than all the other three.
It is the good fortune of many to live distant from the scene of sorrow;
the evil is not sufficient brought to their doors to make THEM
feel the precariousness with which all American property is possessed.
But let our imaginations transport us far 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 and beg. Endangered by the fire
of their friends if they continue within the city, and plundered
by the soldiery if they leave it. In their present condition
they are prisoners without the hope of redemption, and in
a general attack for their relief, they would be exposed
to the fury of both armies.
Men of passive tempers look somewhat lightly over the offenses
of Britain, and, still hoping for the best, are apt to call out,
"COME, COME, WE SHALL BE FRIENDS AGAIN, FOR ALL THIS."
But examine the passions and feelings of mankind,
Bring the doctrine of reconciliation to the touchstone of nature,
and then tell me, whether you can hereafter love, honor,
and faithfully serve the power that hath carried
fire and sword into your land? If yon cannot do all these,
then are you only deceiving yourselves, and by your delay
bringing ruin upon posterity. Your future connection with Britain,
whom you can neither love nor honor will be forced and unnatural,
and being formed only on the plan of present convenience,
will in a little time fall into a relapse more wretched than the first.
But if you say, you can still pass the violations over, then I ask,
Hath your house been burnt? Hath 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 are you unworthy
the name of husband, father, friend, or lover, and whatever
may be your rank or title in life, you have the heart of a coward,
and the spirit of a sycophant.
This is not 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 fallacious dream.
Nature hath deserted the connection, and Art cannot supply
her place. For, as Milton wisely expresses, "never can true
reconcilement grow, where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep."
Every quiet method for peace hath been ineffectual. Our prayers
have been rejected with disdain; and only tended to convince us,
that nothing Batters vanity, or confirms obstinacy in Kings
more than repeated petitioning-and nothing hath contributed
more than that very measure to make the Kings of Europe absolute:
Witness Denmark and Sweden. Wherefore, since nothing but blows will do,
for God's sake, let us come to a final separation, and not leave
the next generation to be cutting throats, under the violated
unmeaning names of parent and child.
To say, they will never attempt it again is idle and visionary,
we thought so at the repeal of the stamp-act, yet a year
or two undeceived us; as well 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 balanced
the repeal of all the acts complained of, had such repeals been obtained;
hut 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 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 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, makes quite another case. The king's negative
HERE is ten times more dangerous and fatal than it can be in England,
for THERE he will scarcely refuse his consent to a bill for putting England
into as strong a state of defense 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 secondhand 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 SUBTLETY,
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 dispense of their effects,
and quit the continent.
But the most powerful of all arguments, is, that nothing but independence,
i.e. a continental form of government, can keep the peace of the continent
and preserve it inviolate from civil wars. I dread the event of a
reconciliation with Britain now, as it is more than probable,
that it will be followed by a revolt somewhere or other, the consequences
of which may be far more fatal than all the malice of Britain.
Thousands are already ruined by British barbarity; (thousands more will
probably suffer the same fate) Those men have other feelings than us who
have nothing suffered. All they NOW possess is liberty, what they before
enjoyed is sacrificed to its service, and having nothing more to lose,
they disdain submission. Besides, the general temper of the colonies,
towards a British government, will be like that of a youth,
who is nearly out of his time; they will care very little about her.
And a government which cannot preserve the peace, is no government at all,
and in that case we pay our money for nothing; and pray what is it that
Britain can do, whose power will he wholly on paper. should a civil
tumult break out the very day after reconciliation! I have heard
some men say, many of whom I believe spoke without thinking, that they
dreaded an independence, fearing that it would produce civil wars.
It is but seldom that our first thoughts are truly correct, and that
is the case here; for there are ten times more to dread from a patched up
connection than from independence. I make the sufferers case my own,
and I protest, that were I driven from house and home, my property destroyed,
and my circumstances ruined, that as man, sensible of injuries, I could never
relish the doctrine of reconciliation, or consider myself bound thereby.
The colonies have manifested such a spirit of good order and obedience
to continental government, as is sufficient to make every reasonable
person easy and happy on that head. No man can assign the least pretence
for his fears, on any other grounds, than such as are truly childish
and ridiculous, viz. that one colony will be striving for superiority
Where there are no distinctions there can be no superiority,
perfect equality affords no temptation. The republics of Europe
are all (and we may say always) in peace. Holland and Switzerland
are without wars, foreign or domestic: Monarchical governments,
it is true, are never long at rest; the crown itself is a temptation
to enterprising ruffians at HOME; and that degree of pride and insolence
ever attendant on regal authority, swells into a rupture with foreign powers,
in instances, where a republican government, by being formed on more
natural principles, would negotiate the mistake.
If there is any true cause of fear respecting independence,
it is because no plan is yet laid down. Men do not see their way out--
Wherefore, as an opening into that business, I offer the following hints;
at the same time modestly affirming, that I have no other opinion
of them myself, than that they may be the means of giving rise to
something better. Could the straggling thoughts of individuals
be collected, they would frequently form materials for wise
and able men to improve into useful matter.
LET the assemblies be annual, with a President only.
The representation more equal. Their business wholly domestic,
and subject to the authority of a Continental Congress.
Let each colony be divided into six, eight, or ten, convenient districts,
each district to send a proper number of delegates to Congress,
so that each colony send at least thirty. The whole number in Congress
will be at least 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 from each House of Assembly, or Provincial Convention;
and five representatives of the people at large, to be chosen in the capital
city or town of each province, for and in behalf of the whole province,
by as many qualified voters as shall think proper to attend from
all parts of the province for that purpose; or, if more convenient,
the representatives may be chosen in two or three of the most populous
parts thereof. In this conference, thus assembled, will be united,
the two grand principles of business KNOWLEDGE and POWER. The members
of Congress, Assemblies, or Conventions, by having had experience in
national concerns, will be able and useful counsellors, and the whole,
being empowered by the people, will have a truly legal authority.
The conferring members being met, let their business be to frame
a CONTINENTAL CHARTER, Or Charter of the United Colonies;
(answering to what is called the Magna Carta 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
or 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 we approve of monarchy,
that in America THE LAW IS KING. For as in absolute governments
the King is law, so in free countries the law OUGHT to be King;
and there ought to be no other. But lest any ill use should
afterwards arise, let the crown at the conclusion of the ceremony,
be demolished, and scattered among the people whose right it is.
A government of our own is our natural right: And when a man seriously
reacts 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 [Thomas Anello otherwise Massanello
a fisherman of Naples, who after spiriting up his countrymen
in the public marketplace, against the oppressions of the Spaniards,
to whom the place was then subject prompted them to revolt,
and in the space of a day became king.] Massanello may hereafter arise,
who laying hold of popular disquietudes, may collect together the desperate
and the discontented, and by assuming to themselves the powers of government,
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, that relief can Britain give?
Ere she could hear the news, the fatal business might be done;
and ourselves suffering like the wretched Britons under
the oppression of the Conqueror. Ye that oppose independence now,
ye know not what ye do; ye are opening a door to eternal tyranny,
by keeping vacant the seat of government. There are thousands,
and tens of thousands, who would think it glorious
to expel from the continent that barbarous and hellish power,
which hath stirred up the Indians and Negroes to destroy us;
the cruelty hath a double guilt, it is dealing brutally by us,
and treacherously by them.
To talk of friendship with those in whom our reason forbids us
to have faith, and our affections wounded through a thousand pores
instruct us to detest, is madness and folly. Every day wears out
the little remains of kindred between us and them, and can there
be any reason to hope, that as the relationship expires,
the affection will increase, or that we shall agree better,
when we have ten times more and greater concerns to quarrel over than ever?
Ye that tell us of harmony and reconciliation, can ye restore to us the
time that is past? Can ye give to prostitution its former innocence?
Neither can ye reconcile Britain and America. The last cord
now is broken, the people of England are presenting addresses against us.
There are injuries which nature cannot forgive; she would cease to be nature
if she did. As well can the lover forgive the ravisher of his mistress,
as the continent forgive the murders of Britain. The Almighty hath
implanted in us these 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 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.
OF THE PRESENT _ABILITY_ OF _AMERICA_, WITH SOME MISCELLANEOUS _REFLECTIONS_
I have never met with a man, either in England or America, who hath not
confessed his opinion that a separation between the countries,
would take place one time or other: And there is no instance, in which we
have shewn less judgement, than in endeavouring to describe, what we call
the ripeness or fitness of the Continent for independence.
As all men allow the measure, and vary only in their opinion of the time,
let us, in order to remove mistakes, take a general survey of things,
and 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 seaport towns
we had, the more should we have both to defend and to lose. Our present
numbers are so happily proportioned to our wants, that no man need be idle.
The diminution of trade affords an army, and the necessities of an army
create a new trade.
Debts we have none; and whatever we may contract on this account will
serve as a glorious memento of our virtue. Can we but leave posterity
with a settled form of government, an independent constitution of its own,
the purchase at any price will be cheap. But to expend millions for the sake
of getting a few vile acts repealed, and routing the present ministry only,
is unworthy the charge, and is using posterity with the utmost cruelty;
because it is leaving them the great work to do, and a debt upon their backs,
from which they derive no advantage. Such a thought is unworthy
of a man of honor, and is the true characteristic of a narrow heart
and a peddling politician.
The debt we may contract doth not deserve our regard, if the work
be but accomplished. No nation ought to be without a debt.
A national debt is a national bond; and when it bears no interest,
is in no case a grievance. Britain is oppressed with a debt of upwards
of one hundred and forty millions sterling, for which she pays upwards
of four millions interest. And as a compensation for her debt,
she has a large navy; America is without a debt, and without a navy;
yet for the twentieth part of the English national debt,
could have a navy as large again. The navy of England is not worth,
at this time, more than three millions and 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 just.
[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 seastores, as calculated by Mr. Burchett,
Secretary to the navy.
For a ship of a 100 guns - 35,553
90 - - 29,886
80 - - 23,638
70 - - 17,795
60 - - 14,197
50 - - 10,606
40 - - 7,558
30 - - 5,846
20 - - 3,710
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
at its greatest glory consisted of the following ships and guns:
Ships. Guns. Cost of one. Cost of all
6 - 100 - 35,553 - 213,318
12 - 90 - 29,886 - 358,632
12 - 80 - 23,638 - 283,656
43 - 70 - 17,785 - 764,755
35 - 60 - 14,197 - 496,895
40 - 50 - 10,606 - 424,240
45 - 40 - 7,558 - 340,110
58 - 20 - 3,710 - 215,180
85 Sloops, bombs,
and fireships, one 2,000 170,000
with another, _________
Remains for guns, _________ 233,214
No country on the globe is so happily situated, or so internally capable
of raising a fleet as America. Tar, timber, iron, and cordage are her
natural produce. We need go abroad for nothing. Whereas the Dutch,
who make large profits by hiring out their ships of war to the Spaniards
and Portuguese, are obliged to import most of their 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 he sailors.
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 defense 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 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?
The English list of ships of war, is long and formidable, but not
a tenth part of them are at any one time fit for service, numbers of them
not in being; yet their names are pompously continued in the list,
f 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 overmatch 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 guardships on constant duty,
would keep up a sufficient navy, and that without burdening ourselves
with the evil so loudly complained of in England, of suffering their fleet,
in time of peace to lie rotting in the docks. To unite the sinews
of commerce and defense 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 defense we abound. Hemp flourishes even
to rankness, so that we need not want cordage. Our iron is superior
to that of other countries. Our small arms equal to any in the world.
Cannon we can cast at pleasure. Saltpetre and gunpowder we are every
day producing. Our knowledge is hourly improving. Resolution is our
inherent character, and courage hath never yet forsaken us. Wherefore,
what is it that we want? Why is it that we hesitate? From Britain we can
expect nothing but ruin. If she is once admitted to the government
of America again, this Continent will not be worth living in.
Jealousies will be always arising; insurrections will be constantly happening;
and who will go forth to quell them? Who will venture his life to reduce his
own countrymen to a foreign obedience? The difference between Pennsylvania
and Connecticut, respecting some unlocated lands, 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 dependants,
may be hereafter applied, not only to the discharge of the present debt,
but to the constant support of government. No nation under heaven hath
such an advantage at this.
The infant state of the Colonies, as it is called, so far
from being against, is an argument in favour 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 mare a country is peopled,
the smaller their armies are. In military numbers, the ancients far exceeded
the modems: and the reason is evident. for trade being the consequence
of population, men become too much absorbed thereby to attend to
anything else. Commerce diminishes the spirit, both of patriotism
and military defence. And history sufficiently informs us, that the
bravest achievements were always accomplished in the non-age of a nation.
With the increase of commerce, England hath lost its spirit. The city
of London, notwithstanding its numbers, submits to continued insults
with the patience of a coward. The more men have to lose, the less willing
are they to venture. The rich are in general slaves to fear, and submit
to courtly power with the trembling duplicity of a Spaniel.
Youth is the seed time of good habits, as well in nations as in individuals.
It might be difficult, if not impossible, to form the Continent into one
government half a century hence. The vast variety of interests,
occasioned by an increase of trade and population, would create confusion.
Colony would be against colony. Each being able might scorn each other's
assistance: and while the proud and foolish gloried in their little
distinctions, the wise would lament, that the union had not been formed before.
Wherefore, the PRESENT TIME is the TRUE TIME for establishing it.
The intimacy which is contracted in infancy, and the friendship which
is formed in misfortune, are, of all others, the most lasting and unalterable.
Our present union is marked with both these characters: we are young
and we have been distressed; but our concord hath withstood our troubles,
and fixes a memorable are 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 afterward but from the errors of other
nations, let us learn wisdom, and lay hold of the present opportunity
--TO BEGIN GOVERNMENT AT THE RIGHT END.
When William the Conqueror subdued England, he gave them law at the
point of the sword; and until we consent, that the seat of government,
in America, be legally and authoritatively occupied, we shall be in
danger of having it filled by some fortunate ruffian, who may treat us
in the same manner, and then, where will be our freedom? where our property?
As to religion, I hold it to be the indispensable duty of all 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 willing to part with, and he will be at 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 forty, 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 of 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
dishonoured 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.
[Those who would fully understand of what great consequence a large and equal
representation is to a state, should read Burgh's political disquisitions.]
TO CONCLUDE, however strange it may appear to some, or however unwilling
they may be to think so, matters not, but many strong and striking reasons
may be given, to 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: hut 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 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 peaceable disposition
towards them, and of our desire of entering into trade with them:
Such a memorial would produce more good effects to this Continent,
than if a ship were freighted with petitions to Britain.
Under our present denomination of British subjects, we can neither
be received nor heard abroad: The custom of all courts is against us,
and will be so, until, by an 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.
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 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 man,
but sunk himself beneath the rank of animals,
and contemptibly crawl 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 he 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
on 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 the 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 he 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 entirely) we shall deprive ourselves of the very means
of sinking the debt we have, or may contract. The value of the back lands
which some of the provinces are clandestinely deprived of, by the unjust
extension of the limits of Canada, valued only at five pounds sterling
per hundred acres, amount to upwards of twenty-five millions,
Pennsylvania currency; and the quit-rents at one penny sterling per acre,
to two millions yearly.
It is by the sale of those lands that the debt may be sunk,
without 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 lNDEPENDANCE;
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; a 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 dissensions.
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
in spreading specious falsehoods. The artful and hypocritical letter
which appeared a few months ago in two of the New York papers,
and likewise in 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, says 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 pretense,
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 aera 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 cavillings, of a few weak
or interested men appear, when weighed against the business of a world.
Should we neglect the present favourable 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 dissension.
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_.
To the Representatives of the Religious Society of the People called Quakers,
or to so many of them as were concerned in publishing the late piece,
entitled "THE ANCIENT TESTIMONY and PRlNCIPLES of the People called QUAKERS
renewed, with Respect to the KING and GOVERNMENT, and touching the COMMOTIONS
now prevailing in these and other parts of AMERICA addressed to the
PEOPLE IN GENERAL."
The Writer of this, is one of those few, who never dishonours religion
either by ridiculing, or cavilling at any denomination whatsoever.
To God, and not to man, are all men accountable on the score of religion.
Wherefore, this epistle is not so properly addressed to you as a religious,
but as a political body, dabbling in matters, which the professed Quietude
of your Principles instruct you not to meddle with. As you have, without
a proper authority for so doing, put yourselves in the place of the whole body
of the Quakers, so, the writer of this, in order to be on an equal rank
with yourselves, is under the necessity, of putting himself in the place
of all those, who, approve the very writings and principles, against which,
your testimony is directed: And he hath chosen this singular situation,
in order, that you might discover in him that presumption of character
which you cannot see in yourselves. For neither he nor you can have any
claim or title to POLITICAL REPRESENTATION.
When men have departed from the right way, it is no wonder that they
stumble and fall. And it is evident from the manner in which ye have
managed your testimony, that politics, (as a religious body of men)
is not your proper Walk; for however well adapted it might appear to you,
it is, nevertheless, a jumble of good and bad put unwisely together,
and the conclusion drawn therefrom, both unnatural and unjust.
The two first pages, (and the whole doth not make four) we give you
credit for, and expect the same civility from you, because the love
and desire of peace is not confined to Quakerism, it is the natural,
as well the religious wish of all denominations of men. And on this ground,
as men labouring to establish an Independant Constitution of our own, do we
exceed all others in our hope, end, and aim. OUR PLAN IS PEACE FOR EVER.
We are tired of contention with Britain, and can see no real end to it
but in a final separation. We act consistently, because for the sake
of introducing an endless and uninterrupted peace, do we bear the evils
and burthens of the present day. We are endeavoring, and will steadily
continue to endeavour, to separate and dissolve a connexion which hath
already filled our land with blood; and which, while the name of it
remains, will he the fatal cause of future mischiefs to both countries.
We fight neither for revenge nor conquest; neither from pride nor
passion; we are not insulting the world with our fleets and armies, nor
ravaging the globe for plunder. Beneath the shade of our own vines are
we attacked; in our own houses, and on our own lands, is the violence
committed against us. We view our enemies in the character of Highwaymen
and Housebreakers, and having no defence for ourselves in the civil law,
are obliged to punish them by the military one, and apply the sword,
in the very case, where you have before now, applied the halter--
Perhaps we feel for the ruined and insulted sufferers in all and every
part of the continent, with a degree of tenderness which hath not yet
made its way into some of your bosoms. But be ye sure that ye mistake not
the cause and ground of your Testimony. Call not coldness of soul, religion;
nor put the BIGOT in the place of the CHRISTIAN.
O ye partial ministers of your own acknowledged principles. If the
bearing arms be sinful, the first going to war must be more so,
by all the difference between wilful attack, and unavoidable defence.
Wherefore, if ye really preach from conscience, and mean not to make
a political hobbyhorse of your religion convince the world thereof,
by proclaiming your doctrine to our enemies, FOR THEY LIKEWISE BEAR _ARMS_.
Give us proof of your sincerity by publishing it at St. James's,
to the commanders in chief at Boston, to the Admirals and Captains
who are piratically ravaging our coasts, and to all the murdering
miscreants who are acting in authority under HIM whom ye profess to serve.
Had ye the honest soul of BARCLAY ye would preach repentance to YOUR king;
Ye would tell the Royal Wretch his sins, and warn him of eternal ruin.
["Thou hast tasted of prosperity and adversity; thou knowest what it is
to be banished thy native country, to be over-ruled as well as to rule,
and set upon the throne; and being oppressed thou hast reason to know
how hateful the oppressor is both to God and man: If after all these warnings
and advertisements, thou dost not turn unto the Lord with all thy heart,
but forget him who remembered thee in thy distress, and give up thyself
to fallow lust and vanity, surely great will be thy condemnation.--
Against which snare, as well as the temptation of those who may
or do feed thee, and prompt thee to evil, the most excellent and prevalent
remedy will be, to apply thyself to that light of Christ which shineth
in thy conscience, and which neither can, nor will flatter thee,
nor suffer thee to be at ease in thy sins."--Barclay's address to Charles II.]
Ye would not spend your partial invectives against the injured
and the insulted only, but, like faithful ministers, would cry aloud
and SPARE NONE. Say not that ye are persecuted, neither endeavour to make
us the authors of that reproach, which, ye are bringing upon yourselves;
for we testify unto all men, that we do not complain against you because
ye are Quakers, but because ye pretend to be and are NOT Quakers.
Alas! it seems by the particular tendency of some part of your testimony,
and other parts of your conduct, as if, all sin was reduced to,
and comprehended in, THE ACT OF BEARING ARMS, and that by the people only.
Ye appear to us, to have mistaken party for conscience; because,
the general tenor of your actions wants uniformity--And it is exceedingly
difficult to us to give credit to many of your pretended scruples;
because, we see them made by the same men, who, in the very instant
that they are exclaiming against the mammon of this world, are nevertheless,
hunting after it with a step as steady as Time, and an appetite as keen
The quotation which ye have made from Proverbs, in the third page
of your testimony, that, "when a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh
even his enemies to be at peace with him"; is very unwisely chosen
on your part; because, it amounts to a proof, that the king's ways
(whom ye are desirous of supporting) do NOT please the Lord, otherwise,
his reign would be in peace.
I now proceed to the latter part of your testimony, and that, for which
all the foregoing seems only an introduction viz.
"It hath ever been our judgment and principle, since we were called to
profess the light of Christ Jesus, manifested in our consciences unto
this day, that the setting up and putting down kings and governments,
is God's peculiar prerogative; for causes best known to himself:
And that it is not our business to have any hand or contrivance therein;
nor to be busy bodies above our station, much less to plot and contrive
the ruin, or overturn of any of them, but to pray for the king, and safety
of our nation. and good of all men - That we may live a peaceable and
quiet life, in all godliness and honesty; UNDER THE GOVERNMENT WHICH GOD
IS PLEASED TO SET OVER US" - If these are REALLY your principles why
do ye not abide by them? Why do ye not leave that, which ye call
God's Work, to be managed by himself? These very principles instruct
you to wait with patience and humility, for the event of all public measures,
and to receive that event as the divine will towards you. Wherefore,
what occasion is there for your POLITICAL TESTIMONY if you fully believe
what it contains? And the very publishing it proves, that either,
ye do not believe what ye profess, or have not virtue enough to practise
what ye believe.
The principles of Quakerism have a direct tendency to make a man
the quiet and inoffensive subject of any, and every government
WHICH IS SET OVER HIM. And if the setting up and putting down of kings
and governments is God's peculiar prerogative, he most certainly
will not be robbed thereof by us: wherefore, the principle itself leads
you to approve of every thing, which ever happened, or may happen to kings
as being his work. OLIVER CROMWELL thanks you. CHARLES, then, died not
by the hands of man; and should the present Proud Imitator of him,
come to the same untimely end, the writers and publishers of the Testimony,
are bound, by the doctrine it contains, to applaud the fact. Kings are not
taken away by miracles, neither are changes in governments brought about
by any other means than such as are common and human; and such as we are
now using. Even the dispersion of the Jews, though foretold by our Saviour,
was effected by arms. Wherefore, as ye refuse to be the means on one side,
ye ought not to be meddlers on the other; but to wait the issue in silence;
and unless ye can produce divine authority, to prove, that the Almighty
who hath created and placed this new world, at the greatest distance
it could possibly stand, east and west, from every part of the old,
doth, nevertheless, disapprove of its being independent of the corrupt
and abandoned court of Britain, unless I say, ye can shew this,
how can ye on the ground of your principles, justify the exciting
and stirring up the people "firmly to unite in the abhorrence
of all such writings, and measures, as evidence a desire and design
to break off the happy connexion we have hitherto enjoyed,
with the kingdom of Great-Britain, and our just and necessary subordination
to the king, and those who are lawfully placed in authority under him."
What a slap of the face is here! the men, who in the very paragraph before,
have quietly and passively resigned up the ordering, altering,
and disposal of kings and governments, into the hands of God, are now,
recalling their principles, and putting in for a share of the business.
Is it possible, that the conclusion, which is here justly quoted,
can any ways follow from the doctrine laid down? The inconsistency
is too glaring not to be seen; the absurdity too great not to be laughed at;
and such as could only have been made by those, whose understandings
were darkened by the narrow and crabby spirit of a despairing political party;
for ye are not to be considered as the whole body of the Quakers
but only as a factional and fractional part thereof.
Here ends the examination of your testimony; (which I call upon no man
to abhor, as ye have done, but only to read and judge of fairly;)
to which I subjoin the following remark; "That the setting up and putting
down of kings," most certainly mean, the making him a king, who is yet
not so, and the making him no king who is already one. And pray what hath
this to do in the present case? We neither mean to set up nor to pull down,
neither to make nor to unmake, but to have nothing to do with them.
Wherefore, your testimony in whatever light it is viewed serves only
to dishonor your judgement, and for many other reasons had better
have been let alone than published.
First, Because it tends to the decrease and reproach
of all religion whatever, and is of the utmost danger
to society to make it a party in political disputes.
Secondly, Because it exhibits a body of men, numbers of whom disavow
the publishing political testimonies, as being concerned therein
and approvers thereof.
Thirdly, because it hath a tendency to undo that continental harmony
and friendship which yourselves by your late liberal and charitable
donations hath lent a hand to establish; and the preservation of which,
is of the utmost consequence to us all.
And here without anger or resentment I bid you farewell.
Sincerely wishing, that as men and christians, ye may always
fully and uninterruptedly enjoy every civil and religious right;
and be, in your turn, the means of securing it to others;
but that the example which ye have unwisely set,
of mingling religion with politics, MAY BE DISAVOWED
AND REPROBATED BY EVERY INHABITANT OF _AMERICA._
F I N I S.
End of the Project Gutenberg Etext of Common Sense, by Tom Paine
July 4th, 1994
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank