Category Archives: Colonial America

Item of the Day: The History of the American Revolution (1791)

Full Title: The History of the American Revolution. By David Ramsay, M.D., of South Carolina. Vol. I. London: sold by J. Johnson and J. Stockdale, M.DCC.XCI. [1791]

 

ADVERTISMEMENT,

BY AN

ENGLISH FRIEND.

THE particulars of the American Revolution may by many be thought to be sufficiently known; but, if we deduct from our first accounts all that was false or that is by this time forgotten, and add all that is true which has since been discovered, the history, now presented to the English reader, may be esteemed in a great measure new. It is new even among the Americans; and in any event it must produce a new effect upon the judgment and feelings of every one, as being digested out of scattered materials. There are few indeed to whom the work will be more interesting than to those who have borne a share in the events which it records; and there is no portion of modern, or perhaps antient, history, more worthy as respecting politics, war, or the human character.

Should the perusal of it revive some of the regrets of Englishmen, the contemplation of our past misfortunes may at least prove a lesson for avoiding the like in future; especially in the present eventful age, when no political course can long be safe which is not framed upon principles, and suited both the the temper and interests of mankind.

The discovery of the distress which the Americans suffered at the close of the war, must not lead us to lament the peace which followed; for the distress experienced was certainly mutual. But had it even been in our power for the moment to subjugate America, either terms must have been granted to her equivalent to independence, or else a perpetual cause of war would have remained; which in the case of a spirited and increasing people, must always have proved burthensome on our side, and sooner or later have terminated in their favor. At present, none can doubt, that a more beneficial connection with America is open to us, than any which could have procured by force.

The particular history before us, is at once short and full, as well as judicious, authentic, and impartial, and is clearly the best extant on the subject.

Some allowances nevertheless are requisite in favor of the present work, which from several passages in it, appears not to have received the author’s last corrections. Various inaccuracies also, especially in the first volume, have crept into it, from errors either of the transcriber or of the press. A table of these is formed wherever they are of moment. —Some peculiarities of style will still be found remaining, a part of which belong to the author, and the rest to the country to which he belongs.

It is a curious fact, that there is perhaps no one portion of the British empire, in which two or three millions of persons are to be found, who speak their mother-tongue with greater purity, or a truer pronuciation, than the white inhabitants of the United States. This was attributed, by a pentrating observer, to the number of British subjects assembled in America from various quarters, who, in consequence of their intercourse and intermarriages, soon dropped the peculiarities of their several provincial idioms, retaining only what was fundamental and common to them all; a process, which the requency or rather the universality of school-learning in North America; must naturally have assisted. —At the same time there are few natives of the United States, who are altogether free from what may be called Americanisms, both in their speech and their writing. In the case of words of rarer use, they have framed their own models of pronunciation, as having little access to those established among the people from whom they have derived their language; and hence they are sometimes at variance with us in their speech, (to say nothing of the peculiar tones of voice which prevail in some parts of the United States.) But their familiarity with our best writers has in general left them ingnorant of nothing which regards our phraseology; and hence their chief difference in writing consists in their having added a few words to our language, in consequence of the influence of some local authority or of their peculiar situation. Some of these additions we have ourselves received, as in the case of the words “organize and organization,” when applied to political bodies; others we have listened to without as yet adopting, as in the case of the words “the legislative and the executive,” when used as subtantives; but others again we have altogether declined to countenance, as the words, “to advocate and to loan,” which appear to be verbs invented without any apparent reason. The author before us will furnish several examples of what is here alluded to, where the solitary authority of a few Englsih writers, if such are to be found in his favor, cannot be considered as of force enough to be opposed to the general habit of our nation. —Happily, however, these criticisms are of little practical use; for, no terms can become current in either of the two countries, which will not easily be understood in both of them. —It is thus that the new circumstances of the French have brought various words into use with that nation, which were before unkown to it; but they are all of them immediately intelligible, whether they are borrowed from us, or from America, or, like the words “civisme and incivisme,” have originated among themselves. . . .

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Filed under 1790's, American Revolution, Colonial America, Great Britain, History, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: The True Sentiments of America(1768)

Full Title:

The True Sentiments of America: Contained in a Collection of Letters Sent from the House of Representatives of the Province of Massachusetts Bay to Several Persons of High Rank in the Kingdom: Together with Certain Papers Relating to a Supposed Libel on the Governor of that Province, and a Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law.  London, Printed for J. Almon, In Piccadilly. 1768.

Agreeable to a Vote of the Honourable House of Representatives of the Province of the Massachusett’s-Bay, the following humble, dutiful, and loyal Petition to the King, signed by the Speaker, by their Order of the 20th January 1768; together with the Representatives of the House to his Majesty’s Ministers; their Letter to their Agent, &c. are here inserted.

An humble Petition to the King’s most Excellent Majesty.

Most Gracious Sovereign,

Your Majesty’s faithful subjects, the representatives of your province of the Massachusetts-Bay, with the warmest sentiments of loyalty, duty, and affection, beg leave to approach the throne, and to lay at you Majesty’s feet their humble supplications, in behalf of your distressed subjects the people of the province.

Our ancestors, the first settlers of this country, having with the royal consent, which we humbly apprehend involves the consent of the nation, and at their own great expence, migrated from the mother kingdom, took possession of this land, at that time a wilderness, the right whereof they had purchased a valuable consideration of the council established at Plimouth, to whom it had been granted your Majesty’s royal predecessor King James the first.

From the principles of loyalty to their Sovereign which will ever warm the breast of a true subject, though remote they acknowledged their allegiance to the English crown: and your Majesty will allow us with all humility to say, that they and their posterity, even to this time, have afforded frequent and signal proofs of their zeal for the honour and service of their prince, and their firm attachment to the parent country.

With toil and fatigue, perhaps not to be conceived by their brethren and fellow-subjects at home, and with the constant peril of their lives, from a numerous, savage, and warlike race of men, they began their settlement, and God prospered them. 

They obtained a charter from King Charles the first; wherein his Majesty was pleased to grant them and their heirs and assigns for ever, all the lands therein described, to hold of him and his royal successors in free and common soccage; which we humbly conceive is as absolute an estate as the subject can hold under the crown.  And in the same charter were granted to them, and their posterity, all the rights, liberties, privileges, and immunities of natural subjects, born within the realm. 

This charter they enjoyed, having, as we most humbly conceive, punctually complied with all the conditions of it, till in an unhappy time it was vacated–But after the revolution, when King William and Queen Mary, of glorious and blessed memory, were established on the throne: In that happy reign, when, to the joy of the nation and its dependencies, the crown was settled in your Majesty’s illustrious family, the inhabitants of this province shared in the common blessing.  Then they were indulged with another charter; in which their Majesties were pleased for themselves, their heirs and successors, to grant and confirm to them as ample estate in the lands or territories as was granted by the former charter, together with other the most essential rights and liberties contained therein:  The principal of which, is that which your Majesty’s subjects within the realm have ever held a most sacred right, of being taxed only by representatives of their own free election…

 

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Filed under 1760's, Adams, Colonial America, Eighteenth century, Political Pamphlets, Posted by Matthew Williams, Revolution

Item of the Day: Authentic Account of the Proceedings of the Congress held at New-York in 1765 (1767)

Full Title: Authentic Account of the Proceedings of the Congress held at New-York, in MDCCLXV, on the SUBJECT of the AMERICAN STAMP ACT.  MDCCLXVII. [1767]

 

PROCEEDINGS

OF THE

CONGRESS

AT

NEW-YORK.

Boston, June 1765.

SIR,

 The House of Representatives of this province, in the present session of the general court, have unanaimously agreed to propose a meeting, as soon as may be, of COMMITTEES, from the houses of representatives or burgesses of the several British colonies on this continent, to consult together on the present circumstances of the colonies, and the difficulties to which they are, and must be reduced, by the operation of the acts of parliament for levying duties and taxes on the colonies; and to consider of a general, and united, dutiful, loyal and humble representation of their condition, to his Majesty and the Parliament, and to implore relief. The house of reprsentatives of this province have also voted to propose, That such meeting be at the city of New-York, in the province of New-York, on the first Tuesday in October next; and have appointed a committee of three of their members to attend that service, with such as the other houses of representatives, or burgesses, in the several colonies, may think fit to appoint to meet them. And the committee of the house of representatives of this province, are directed to repair to said New-York, on said first Tuesday in October next, accordingly.

If, therefore, your honourable house should agree to this proposal, it would be acceptable, that as early notice of it as possible, might be transmitted to the speaker of the house of representatives of this province.

SAMUEL WHITE, Speaker

In consequence of the foregoing circular letter, the following gentlemen met at New-York, in the province of New-York, on Monday the seventh day of October, 1765, viz.

From the province of Massachusetts-bay, JAMES OTIS, OLIVER PATRIDGE, TIMOTHY RUGGLES, Esquires.

From the colony of Rhode-Island, and Providence plantation, METCALF BOWLER, HENRY WARD, Esquires.

From the colony of Connecticut, ELIPHALET DYER, DAVID ROWLAND, WILLIAM SAMUEL JOHNSON, Esquires.

From the colony of New-York, ROBERT R. LIVINGSTON, JOHN CRUGER, PHILIP LIVINGSTON, WILLIAM BAYARD, LEONARD LISPENARD, Esquires.

From the colony of New-Jersey, ROBERT OGDEN, HENDRICK FISHER, JOSEPH BORDEN, Esquires.

From the government of the counties of Newcastle, Kent, and Sussex, on Delaware, CAESAR RODNEY, THOMAS M’KEAN, Esquires.

From the province of Maryland, WILLIAM MURDOCK, EDWARD TILGHMAN, THOMAS RINGGOLD, Esquires.

From the province of South-Carolina, THOMAS LYNCH, CHRISTOPHER GADSDEN, JOHN RUTLEDGE, Esquires.

Then the said committees proceeded to chuse a chariman by ballot, and Timothy Ruggles, esq; on sorting and counting the votes, appeared to have a majority, and thereupon was placed in the chair.

 

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Filed under 1760's, Colonial America, Congress, Great Britain, New York, Politics, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Stamp Act

Item of the Day: Laws for Pequot Indians (1675) [i.e. 1676]

Laws for Pequot Indians.

Found In: Letters from the English Kings and Queens Charles II, James II, William and Mary, Anne, George II, &c. To the governors of the Colony of Connecticut, together with the Answers  thereto, from 1635 to 1749; and Other Original, Ancient, Literary and Curious Documents, Compiled from Files and Records in the Office of the Secretary of the State of Connecticut. By R. R. Hinman, A. M. Secretary of the State of Connecticut. Hartford: John D. Eldredge, Printer, 1836. [pp. 93-96]

 

[The following has been transcribed as it appears in the above text. No changes or corrections have been made to the spelling of the words in the document.] 

 

Laws of the said Indians to observe.

  1. That whosoever shall oppose or speake against the onely liveing and true God, the creator and ruler of all things, shall be brought to some English Court to be punished as the nature of the offence may require.
  2. That whosoever shall powaw or use witch-craft or any worship to the Devill, or any falls God, shall be so convicted and punished.
  3. That whosoever shall profane the holy Sabbath day by servill work or play, such as chopping or fetching home of wood, fishing, fowling, hunting, &c, shall pay as a fine tenn shillings, halfe to the cheife officers, and the other halfe to the constable and informer, or be sharply whipt for ever such offence.
  4. Whosoever shall committ murder or manslaughter, shall be brought to Hartford goale, and be tryed by the Government according to the English Law, which punisheth by death.
  5. Whosoever shall committ adultery by lying with another mans wife, or to have or keep her from her husband, shall be imprisoned and tryed and punished with a fyne of fortyy shillings for every offence, and so in the case of the adultresse; the sayd fine to be distributed as before.
  6. Whoseover shall steale, shall restore double to his neighbours for what he hath taken, when convict before their officer and councill, and pay the constable two shillins sixpence for his paynes about executing the law.
  7. Whosoever shall appeare, and prove to be drunk amongst them, shall pay tenn shillings or be whipt as the officers shall see meete, and the fine divided as before in the law about Sabbath breaking; in like manner shall it be done to such Indians as doe bring the liquors or strong drinke amongst them.
  8. It is ordered that a ready and comely attendance be given to heare the word of God preached by Mr. Fitch, or any other minister sent amongst them. The cheife officers and constables are to gather the people as they may, and if they be refractory and refuse, or doe misbehave themselves undecently, such shall be punished with a fine of five shillings, or be corporally punished as the officers shall see most meet.
  9. If the officers shall neglect in any of the premises to doe their duty, they shall receive double punishment, when convict thereof in any of our English Courts.
  10. But whosoever shall either affront the principall officer, or refue to assist the constable in the due execution of his office, shall pay for each affront so given, ten shillings, and for such refusall to assist the constable, five shillings.

Mr. Thomas Stanton Sen’r, and Lieutenant James Avery, were appoynted and desired to give them advice and help in all cases of difficulty, for the well management of their trust and affayres, to whome they are in all such cases to repayre.

WM. LEET, Dept Governor,

SAMUEL WILLYS, Assist.

JOHN TALCOTT, Assist.

JOHN ALLYN, Assist.

JAMES RICHARDS, Assist.

Dated in Hartford, May 31, 1675.

To Hermon Garrata to cause to be published to the people of his plantation, and the rest under his Government.

The tenn articles were faythfully published to Robin Harmaysun, Monohor, the Naragansett Sunk Squaw and her councill being present, at a great concourse amongst the Pequitts, the forepart which respects Robins own interest was served and desired Robin not to be published as yet.

pr. JOHN STANTON.

Capt. Avery, and Lieutenant Minor being present as witnesseth their hands.

JAMES AVERY

THO. MINOR.

The 24th January, 1675. [i.e. 1676]

 

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Filed under 1670'S, American Indians, Colonial America, Connecticut, Crime and punishment, Legal, New England, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Religion

Item of the Day: A Letter from King Charles II regarding Nathaniel Bacon (1676)

Full Title: A Letter from his Majesty Charles 2d, for the apprehension of Nathaniel Bacon, the instigator and head of a Rebellion in Virginia

Found In: Letters from the English Kings and Queens Charles II, James II, William and Mary, Anne, George II, &c. To the governors of the Colony of Connecticut, together with the Answers  thereto, from 1635 to 1749; and Other Original, Ancient, Literary and Curious Documents, Compiled from Files and Records in the Office of the Secretary of the State of Connecticut. By R. R. Hinman, A. M. Secretary of the State of Connecticut. Hartford: John D. Eldredge, Printer, 1836. [pp. 99-100]

[The following letter has been transcribed as it appears in the above text. No changes or corrections have been made to the spelling of the words in the document.] 

CHARLES R.

Trusty and well beloved, wee greet you well, wee doubt not but you have heard of the disorders in our Colony of Virginia, raised and continued by Nathaniell Bacon the younger, who hath made himself the head and leader of a rebellion there, to the great detriment of that Colony, and the danger of others, near adjoyning  thereunto, having confidence therefore in your loyalty, and that you abhor such desperate and treasonable actions, and to prevent the contagion of so bad an example in other Colonies upon that tract belonging to our Crowne; wee have thought fitt to signifie our pleasure unto you, and hereby to require that if the said Nathaniel Bacon, or any of his accomplices in that rebellion, shall for their safety or otherwise, retreat, or resort into that Province of our Colony of New England, under your jurisdiction, or any part thereof, you cause him, them, and every of them, to be forthwith seized and secured, and then give immediate notice thereof, to the Governour or Commander in chief in Virginia, to the end such further course may be taken with them as shall be agreeable to law. And wee doe further require you to issue forth proclamation streightly, forbidding all and every the planters or inhabitants of your said Province to joyne with the said rebells, or to afford them any arms, ammunition, provisions, or assistance of any kind whatsoever, but contrarily enjoyning those under your jurisdiction to oppose the said rebells in all things as there shall be occasion–and so wee bid farewell. Given at our Court in White Hall, the 3d day of November, 1675, in the eight and twentieth year of our Reigne.

By his Majesties command.

H. COVENTRY

To our trusty and well beloved, the governour and Councill of the Colony of Connecticut, in New England.

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Filed under 1670'S, Charles II, Colonial America, Connecticut, Government, Great Britain, History, New England, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Letters from the English Kings and Queens (1836)

Full Title: Letters from the English Kings and Queens Charles II, James II, William and Mary, Anne, George II, &c. To the governors of the Colony of Connecticut, together with the Answers thereto, from 1635 to 1749; and Other Original, Ancient, Literary and Curious Documents, Compiled from Files and Records in the Office of the Secretary of the State of Connecticut. By R. R. Hinman, A. M. Secretary of the State of Connecticut. Hartford: John D. Eldredge, Printer, 1836.

 

PREFACE.

THE Author, or rather Compiler of the following work, publishes it as an act due the State, for the purpose of transmitting to posterity, a correct history of facts and events, which transpired in the early settlement of Connecticut–commencing, even before the falling of the first tree in the forest, by any white man in the Colony.

It is a compilation of a correspondence of the Kings and Qeens [sic] of England, with the different Governors of the Colony–from the first settlement in Windsor, Hartford and Wethersfield, in 1635, for the term of more than one hundred years–embracing letters from the Lords of the Council of trade and foreign plantations; a correct copy of the old patent of Connecticut; letters from the Hon. the Commissioners of his Majesties customs in England; and answeres by the Governors, &c. Also letters to apprehend Capt. Kidd, as a pirate, and many other interesting, curious literary communications–among which are twenty-seven questions sent to this Colony by the Lords of the Council of trade in 1679, with the answers of Gov. Leet–which answers are probably as correct early history of this Colony as is extant, and will be highly interesting to all readers. Indeed they are a succinct history of the Colony at that period, as to its navigations, productions, shipping, populations, state of society, Indian wars, religion, title of lands, trade and manufactures, &c. And when we contemplate that these answeres were written by a Governor of this State, when a Colony, nearly two hundred years since, upon this ground, then occupied by the sturdy trees of the forest, but now covered with stores, banks, public buildings and the splendid private dwellings of the refined population of the City of Hartford–and this, the first publication of most of them, they cannot fail to be interesting to the most inattentive observer of past events.

The orthography of the original letters and documents is strictly and carefully preserved.

The signatures of the Kings and Queens are uniformly placed at the commencement of the communications, and not at the close as is usual for other persons; the large, elegant and expensive seals attached to each letter, are yet in a perfect state of preservation. The idea tha the delicate hands of Queen Mary and Queen Anne of England have been upon the same sheets, which I have copied for this book, and nearly two centuries since, satisfies the mind that these events are indeed ancient, and appears rather as a dream, than a reality. The reader will occasionally observe, that answers to letters from England, are some few of them missing, not having been preserved by the writers as they should have been, not only for the benefit of the Colony at the time, but also for the advantage of future historians and the honor of the country.

This work is not published by the compiler expecting even a compensation for his labor, but solely to transmit to posterity, the important historical events which it contains, emanating from the pens of the Kings and Queens of England, and the Governors of this Colony, verified by their own signatutes and Seals, the last of whom have been gathered to their fathers nearly a century ago. . . .

 

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Filed under 1700's, Colonial America, Connecticut, Eighteenth century, Great Britain, History, New England, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Franklin on the Interest of Great Britain (1760)

Full Title:

The Interest of Great Britain Considered with Regard to Her Colonies and the Acquisitions of Canada and Guadaloupe.  To which are added, Observations concerning the increase of Mankind, peopling of Countries, &c.  As the very ingenious, useful, and worthy Author of this Pamphlet [B——n F——n, LL. D.] is well-known and much esteemed in England and America; and seeing that his other Works have been received with universal Applause; the present Production needs no further Recommendation to a generous, free, an intelligent, and publick-spirited People.  The Second Boston-Edition.  London, Printed MDCCLX.  Boston, N. E. Reprinted and Sold by B. Mecom, at the New Printing-Office, near the Town-House.  1760.

I have perused with no small Pleasure the Letter addressed to Two Great Men, and the Remarks on that Letter.  It is not merely from the Beauty, the Force and Perspicuity of Expression, or the general Elegance of Manner conspicuous in both Pamphlets, that my Pleasure chiefly arises; it is rather from this, that I have lived to see Subjects of the greatest Importance to this Nation publickly discussed without Party-Views, or Party-Heat, with Decency and Politeness, and with no other Warmth than what a Zeal for the Honour and Happiness of our King and Country may inspire;–and this by Writers whose Understanding (however they may differ from each other) appears not unequal to their Candour and Uprightness of their Intention.

But, as great Abilities have not always the best Information, there are, I apprehend, in the Remarks some Opinions not well founded, and some Mistakes of so important a Nature, as to render a few Observations on them necessary for the better information of the Publick.   

The Author of the Letter, who must be every Way best able to support his own Sentiments, will, I hope, excuse me, if I seem officiously to interfere; when he considers, that the Spirit of Patriotism, like other Qualities good and bad, is catching; and that this long Silence since the Remarks appeared has made us despair of seeing the Subject further discussed by masterly Hand.  The ingenious and candid Remarker, too, who must have been misled himself before he employed his Skill and Address to mislead others, will certainly, since he declares he aims at no Seduction, be disposed to excuse even the weakest effort to prevent it. 

And surely if the general Opinions that possess the Minds of the People may possibly be of Consequence in publick Affairs, it must be fit to set those Opinions right.  If there is Danger, as the Remarker supposes that “extravagant Expectations” may embarrass “a virtuous and able Ministry,” and “render the Negotiation for Peace a Work of infinite Difficulty;” there is no less Danger that Expectations too low, through Want of proper Information, may have a contrary Effect, may make even a virtuous and able Ministry less anxious, and less attentive to the obtaining Points, in which the Honour and Interest of the Nation are essentially concerned; and the People less hearty in supporting such a Ministry and its Measures. 

The People of this Nation are indeed respectable, not for their Numbers only, but for their Understanding and their publick Spirit: They manifest the first, by their universal Approbation of the late prudent and vigorous Measures, and the Confidence they justly repose in a wise and good Prince, and an honest and able Administration; the latter they have demonstrated by the immense Supplies granted in Parliament unanimously, and paid through the whole Kingdom with Chearfulness.  And since to this Spirit and these Supplies our “Victories and Successes” have in great Measure been owing, is it quite right, is it generous to say, with the Remarker, that the People “had no Share in acquiring them?”  The mere Mob he cannot mean, even when he speaks of the Madness of the People; for the Madness of the Mob must bee too feeble and impotent, arm’d as the Government of this Country at present is, to “over-rule,” even in the slightest Instances, the “Virtue and Moderation” of a firm and steady Ministry.

While the War continues, its final event is quite uncertain.  The Victorious of this Year may be  the Vanquished of the next.  It may therefore be too early to say, what Advantages we ought absolutely to insist on, and make the sine quibus non of a Peace, If the Necessity of our Affairs should oblige us to accept of Terms less advantageous than our present Successes seem to promise us, an intelligent People, as ours is, must see that Nesessity, and will acquiesce.  But as a Peace, when it is made, may be made hastily; and as the unhappy Continuance of the War affords us Time to consider, among several Advantages gain’d or to be gain’d, which of them may be most for our interest to retain, if some and not all may possibly be retained; I do not blame the public Disquisition of these Points, as premature or useless.  Light often arises from a Collision of Opinions, as Fire from Flint and Steel; and if we can obtain the Benefit of the Light, without Danger from the Heat sometimes produc’d by Controversy, why should we discourage it.   

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Filed under 1760's, American Revolution, Colonial America, Eighteenth century, Franklin, Great Britain, New England, Political Pamphlets, Posted by Matthew Williams

Item of the Day: An Address to the People of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1775)

Full Title: An Address to the People of England, Scotland, and Ireland, on the present Important Crisis of Affairs. By Catharine Macaulay. Printed by R. Cruttwell, in Bath, for Edward and Charles Dilly, in the Poultry, London, MDCCLXXV. [1775]

 

AN

ADDRESS, &C.

THE advantage of a second opportunity to correct a mistake, when the first has been neglected, is a happiness which few individuals, or bodies of men, experience; and a blessing which, if it oftener occurred in the affairs of life, would enable most of us to avoid the greater part of the misery which at present appears inseparable to the human state.

The Electors of this kingdom, however, have shewn themselves incorrigible, by recently abusing what the author of The Patriot justly calls a high dignity, and important trust; and this after a ruinous experience of the effects of a former ill-placed confidence.

It is not to be supposed, that either the beauty of justice, the interests of liberty, or the welfare of individuals, as united to the common good, can have any avail with men, who, at this important crisis of British affairs, could reject the wise example set them by the city of London, in requiring a test from those they elected in to the representative office; a test which, had it been generally taken, and religiously observed, would have dispersed the dark cloud which hangs over the empire, restored the former spendor of the nation, and given a renewed strength, vigour, and purity, to the British consitution.

Among the Electors, however, there are undoubtedly many who, by the most cruel of undue influences, –that influence which the opulent exert over the needy, have in a manner been constrained to act contrary to judgment and inclination; while there are others who have been misled by their ignorance, and the sophistry of men of better understanding. –To these, and that large body of my countrymen who are unjustly debarred the privilege of election, and, except by petition and remonstrance, have no legal means of opposing the measures of government, I address myself on the present momentous occasion.

It can be no secret to you, my friends and fellow citizens, that the minstry, after having exhausted all those ample sources of corruption which your own tameness under oppressive taxes have afforded, either fearing the unbiassed judgment of the people, or impation at the flow, but steady progress of despotism, have attempted to wrest  from our American Colonists every privilege necessary to freemen; –privileges which they hold from the authority of their charters, and the principles of the constitution.

With an entire supineness, England, Scotland, and Ireland, have seen the Americans, year by year, stripped of the most valuable of their rights; and, to the eternal shame of this country, the stamp act, by which they were to be taxed in an arbitrary manner, met with no opposition, except from those who are particularly concerned, that the commercial intercouse between Great-Britain and her Colonies should meet wih no interruption.

With the same guilty acquiescence, my countrymen, you have seen the last Parliament finish their venal course, with passing two acts for shutting up the Port of Boston, for indemnifying the murderers of the inhabitants of Massachusets-Bay, and changing their chartered constitution of government: And to shew that none of the fundamental principles of our boasted constitution are held sacred by the government or the people, the same Parliament, without any interruption either by petition or remonstrance, passed another act for changing the government of Quebec; in which the Popish religion, instead of being tolerated as stipulated by the treaty of peace, is established; in which the Canadians are deprived of the right to an assembly, and of trial by jury; in which the English laws in civil cases are abolished, the French laws established, and the crown empowered to erect arbitrary courts of judicature; and in which, for the purpose of enlarging the bound where despotism is to have is full sway, the limits of that province are extended so as to comprehend those vast regions that lie adjoining to the northerly and westerly bounds of our colonies. . . .

 

 

 

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

Item of the Day: Hamilton’s Full Vindication… (1774)

Full Title: A Full Vindication of the Measures of the Congress, From the Calumnies of their Enemies; In Answer to a Letter, Under the Signature of A. W. Farmer.  Whereby his Sophistry is exposed, his Cavils confuted, his Artifices detected, and his Wit ridiculed; In a General Address to the Inhabitants of America, And a Particular Address to the Farmers of the Province of New-York.  [By Alexander Hamilton.]  New York: Printed by James Rivington, 1774.

Friends and Countrymen,

It was hardly to be expected that any man could be so presumptuous, as openly to controvert the equity, wisdom, and authority of the measures, adopted by the congress; an assembly truly respectable on every account!–Whether we consider the characters of the men, who composed it; the number, and dignity of their constituents, or the important ends for which they were appointed.  But, however improbable such a degree of presumption might have seemed, we find there are some, in whom it exists.  Attempts are daily making to diminish the influence of their decisions, and prevent the salutary effects, intended by them.–The impotence of such insidious efforts is evident from the general indignation they are treated with; so that no material ill-consequences can be dreaded from them.  But lest they should have a tendency to mislead, and prejudice the minds of a few; it cannot be deemed altogether useless to bestow some notice upon them.

And first, let me ask these restless spirits, whence arises that violent antipathy they seem to entertain, not only to the natural rights of mankind; but to common sense and common modesty.  That they are enemies to the natural rights of mankind is manifest, because they wish to see one part of their species enslaved by another.  That they have an invincible aversion to common sense is apparant in many respects: They endeavour to persuade us, that the absolute sovereignty of parliament does not imply our absolute slavery; that it is a Christian duty to submit to be plundered of all we have, merely because some of our fellow-subjects are wicked enough to require it of us, that slavery, so far from being a great evil, is a great blessing; and even, that our contest with Britain is founded entirely upon the petty duty of 3 pence per pound of East India tea; wheras the whole world knows, it is built upon this interesting question, whether the inhabitants of Great-Britain have a right to dispose of the lives and property of the inhabitants of America or not?  And lastly, that these men have discarded all pretension to common modesty, is clear from hence, first because they, in the plainest terms, call an august body of men, famed for their patriotism and abilities, fools or knaves, and of course the people whom they repsented cannot be exempt from the same opprobrious appellations: and secondly, because they set themselves up as standards of wisdom and probity, by contradicting and censuring the public voice in favour of those men…

 

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Filed under 1770's, Alexander Hamilton, American Revolution, Colonial America, Congress, Eighteenth century, Liberty, Political Pamphlets, Posted by Matthew Williams, Revolution, United States

Item of the Day: Oration… to Commemorate the Bloody Tragedy (1775)

Full Title: An Oration Delivered March 6, 1775, At the Request of the Inhabitants of the Town of Boston; To Commemorate the Bloody Tragedy of the Fifth of March, 1770.  By Dr. Joseph Warren.  Newport, Rhode Island: Reprinted and Sold by S. Southwick, in Queen Steet, 1775.

My Ever Honored Fellow-Citizens,

It is not without the most humiliating conviction of my want of ability that I now appear before you: But the sense I have of the obligation I am under to obey the calls of my country at all times, together with an animating recollection of your indulgence exhibited upon so many occasions, has induced me once more, undeserving as I am, to throw myself upon that candour which looks with kindness on the feeblest efforts of an honest mind.

You will not now expect elegance, the learning, the fire, the enrapturing strains of eloquence which charmed you when a Lovell, a Church, or a Hancock spake; but you will permit me to stay that with a sincerity, equal to their’s [sic], I mourn over my bleeding country: With them I weep at her distress, and with them deeply resent the many injuries she has received from the hands of cruel and unreasonable men.

That personal freedom is the natural right of every man; and that property or an exclusive right to dispose of what he has honestly acquired by his own labor, necessarily arising therefrom, are truths which common sense has placed beyond the reach of contradiction.  And no man or body of men can, without being guilty of flagrant injustice, claim a right to dispose of the persons or acquisitions of any other man, or body of men, unless it can be proved that such a right has arisen from some compact between the parties in which it has been explicitly and freely granted.

If I may be indulged in taking a retrospective view of the first settlement of our country, it will be easy to determine with what degree of justice the late parliament of Great-Britain have assumed the powers of giving away that property  which the Americans have earned by their labor. 

Our fathers, having nobly resolved never to wear the yoke of despotism, and seeing the European world, through indolence and cowardice, falling a prey to tyranny; bravely threw themselves upon the bosom of the ocean; determined to find a place in which they might enjoy the freedom, or perish in the glorious attempt.  Approving Heaven beheld the favourite ark dancing upon the waves, and graciously preserved it until the chosen families were brought in safety to these western regions.  They found the land swarming with savages, who threatened death with every kind of torture.  But savages, and death with torture, were far less terrible than slavery:—Nothing was so much the object of their abhorrence as a tyrant’s power:—They knew that it was more safe to dwell with man in his more unpolished state than in a country where arbitrary power prevails.  Even anarchy itself, that bugbear held up by the tools of power (though truly to be deprecated) is infinitely less dangerous to mankind than arbitrary governmentAnarchy can be but of short duration; for when men are at liberty to pursue that course which is most conducive to their own happiness, they will soon come into it, and from the rudest state of nature, order and good government must soon arise.  But tyranny, when once established, entails its curse on a nation to the latest period of time; unless some daring genius, inspired by Heaven, shall unappalled by danger, bravely form and execute the arduous design of restoring liberty and life to his enslaved, murdered country.

The tools of power in every age have racked their inventions to justify the FEW in sporting with the happiness of the MANY; and having found their sophistry too weak, to hold mankind in bondage, have impiously dared to force religion, the daughter of the king of Heaven, to become a prostitute in the service of Hell.  They taught that princes, honored with the name of christian, might bid defiance to the founder of their faith, might pillage pagan countries and deluge them with blood, only because they boasted themselves to be the disciples of that teacher who strictly charged his followers to do to others as they would that others should do unto them.   

 

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Filed under 1770's, American Revolution, Colonial America, Eighteenth century, Liberty, Oratory, Posted by Matthew Williams, Religion, Revolution