Item of the Day: A Plan to Reconcile Great Britain & her Colonies (1774)

Full Title: A Plan to Reconcile Great Britain & her Colonies, and Preserve the Dependency of America. London: Printed for J. Almon facing Burlington-house, Picadilly, MDDCLXXIV. [i.e. MDCCLXXIV]

MY LORD DUKE,

I AM not in the least surprized [sic] at the misunderstanding which has long and unhappily subsisted between Great-Britain and her Colonies; because, I apprehend, their differences are owing to natural and perhaps to inevitable causes; which may serve to convince our government and the East India Company, that vast territorial acquisitions, especially at a very great distance, are incompatible with the true interest of a commercial state.

It is with nations as with private individuals, self-preservation and self-love are the great ruling passions with the latter, and the great cementers of friendship and fidelity with the former; or, in other terms, they are the great governing principles. And these leading motives being once removed, nations, like private persons, will naturally and necessarily shake off their dependence. As this obvious truth is known to men even of an ordinary capacity, we cannot reasonably suppose that so sensible, so spirited, and so free a people as the Americans certainly are, can either be blind or inattentive to the first and greatest principles of nature and government.

I say again and again if the colonists are British Subjects, they have an undeniable right to every indulgence and privilege, in the very same manner as if they resided in Great Britain; for their distance makes no difference in the nature of things. Remoteness does not forfeit them the natural and constitutional rights of a free people, nor intitle [sic] us, who remain here, to exclusive privileges. If therefore they are equally free, which I believe was never disputed, and subject to the same laws and government, it necessarily follows that they are intitled to the very same benefits and advantages with us; and that the Americans are, from the same principles, as justly intitled to the blessing of industry, by establishing operose manufactures, and by promoting a foreign commerce, as the rest of his Majesty’s subjects who reside in Great Britain. This is too obvious to admit of a dispute, if we allow the colonists to be British subjects, originally the natural-born subjects of Great Britain, in a state of voluntary transportation or emigration for the good purposes and the advantage of his Majesty’s dominions in general: and surely no man of sense and candor will attempt to maintain, or suggest, that their emigration to plant colonies, at a great risk and expence, deprives them of the blessings of constitutional liberty? To suggest that they should be precluded from the blessings common to all, and which are the birth-right of every British subject, would be as absurd as it would be unreasonable and unjust. For my own part, I really think that the Americans are rather deserving of exclusive privileges for undertaking so great and arduous a work, than to be precluded and oppressed for bringing it to perfection.

The case of natural subjects who plant colonies, is widely different from the predicament of people who are subdued and obliged to submit to the will of a conqueror. If therefore the colonists are upon a level with us in points of national privilege, and that they derive from the same constitution the very same rights and blessings, it ceases to be a matter of argument, whether the Americans should be suffered to enjoy their natural, equal, and undeniable rights as Englishmen: but if they are not admitted as such, in every respect, (which I believe has never been even doubted) then they have an undeniable right, which is natural to all people, to seek to promote their own interest and happiness, by such means as they best approve of; and, in that case, we certainly have no legal or just right to prevent their pursuing and endeavouring to attain those great, necessary, and rational objects: so that, in either case, that is, whether they really are, or absolutely are not, British subjects, they justly and evidently are intitled to t he blessings of industry by the means of operose manufactures and a foreign commerce; without which great privileges of society they would manifestly be in a state of greater subjection than many, and perhaps all people who live under arbitrary and absolute governments. . . .

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Filed under 1770's, Colonial America, Government, Great Britain, Political Pamphlets, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

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