Primary Source Analysis Paper

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Primary Source Analysis: Assignment Directions


Due in Class: Tuesday, March 13

The primary source analysis is a kind of specialized form of historical writing that will account for 25% of your final grade. The purpose of this assignment is to develop a critical approach to reading, interpreting, and understanding historical source materials. You are free to choose any primary source

assigned as weekly course readings

. Sources outside the scope of this class are not permitted. The length of the paper submitted should be roughly 1000 words (a range of 900-1200 is acceptable). Papers should be typed double-spaced in a standard font (if you use a wacky font like Wingdings or Papyrus or Vivaldi you are a jerk, and jerks get 10 points deducted from their total grade) and be organized around a central thesis, with well-developed supporting topic paragraphs.

A primary source analysis asks you to approach historical evidence critically in the form of a close reading of your chosen text. You should ask fundamental questions about its content, context, and significance that help you and others better understand the historical moment it reflects. For example, what are the circumstances of its production: what type of source is it, who wrote it, and why does the identity of its authorship matter, if at all? Where and when was it produced, and why does that matter, if at all? And ultimately, what does the source say? This last question implies not a summary of what the text reads, but what point of view does it project, how is its language and framing important: what does the text say, but what does it omit, and how does its organization inform its point of view and motive? Who is its intended audience, and what is it trying to accomplish? Not all of these questions are applicable to every assigned primary source, but should serve as a model for writing a successful analysis.

The assignment, as its name suggests, is intended to be an analytical exercise in the interpretation of historical evidence.

The paper should NOT be structured as a summary of the text or as a response/reflection. Additionally, the paper should heavily cite the chosen source material, and ONLY the source material.

Additional outside sources should NOT be cited or consulted in the process of writing this assignment. Citation style is not weighed, but in-text parenthetical citations or footnotes are accepted. Please include page and paragraph number when referring to specific examples in the text. Formal bibliographic or works cited pages are NOT accepted. Any evidence of online plagiarism will result in a grade of zero and further academic dishonesty disciplinary action. To be perfectly clear, DO NOT rely on lazy google searches and Wikipedia to complete this assignment. And furthermore, DO NOT CITE THE INTERNET AS A CREDIBLE SCHOLARLY SOURCE

COMMON SENSE
By Thomas Paine
Common Sense
Addressed to the
Inhabitants of America
Man knows no Master save creating HEAVEN,
Or those whom Choice and common Good ordain.
THOMSON.
February 14, 1776
INTRODUCTION.
PERHAPS the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not yet sufficiently
fashionable to procure them general favor; a long habit of not thinking a thing wrong,
gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in
defence of custom. But 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 Independence: 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, Feb. 14, 1776.
COMMON SENSE.
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 happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by
restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The
first is a patron, the last a punisher.
Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a
necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are exposed to
the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country without
government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the means by which
we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence; the palaces of kings are
built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the impulses of conscience clear,
uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no other lawgiver; but that not being
the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a part of his property to furnish means for
the protection of the rest; and this he is induced to do by the same prudence which in
every other case advises him out of two evils to choose the least. Wherefore, security
being the true design and end of government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form
thereof appears most likely to ensure it to us, with the least 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 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 have who
appointed them, and who will act in the same manner as the whole body would act were
they present. If the colony continue 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 over run with
tyranny the least remove therefrom was a glorious rescue. But that it is imperfect, subject
to convulsions, and incapable of producing what it seems to promise, is easily
demonstrated.
Absolute governments (tho’ the disgrace of human nature) have this advantage with
them, that they are simple; if the people suffer, they know the head from which their
suffering springs, know likewise the remedy, and are not bewildered by a variety of
causes and cures. But the constitution of England is so exceedingly complex, that the
nation may suffer for years together without being able to discover in which part the fault
lies, some will say in one and some in another, and every political physician will advise a
different medicine.
I know it is difficult to get over local or long standing prejudices, yet if we will suffer
ourselves to examine the component parts of the English constitution, we shall find them
to be the base remains of two ancient tyrannies, compounded with some new republican
materials.
First.- The remains of monarchical tyranny in the person of the king.
Secondly.- The remains of aristocratical tyranny in the persons of the peers.
Thirdly.- The new republican materials, in the persons of the commons, on whose
virtue depends the freedom of England.
The two first, by being hereditary, are independent of the people; wherefore in a
constitutional sense they contribute nothing towards the freedom of the state.
To say that the constitution of England is a union of three powers reciprocally
checking each other, is farcical, either the words have no meaning, or they are flat
contradictions.
To say that the commons is a check upon the king, presupposes two things.
First.- That the king is not to be trusted without being looked after, or in other words,
that a thirst for absolute power is the natural disease of monarchy.
Secondly.- That the commons, by being appointed for that purpose, are either wiser or
more worthy of confidence than the crown.
But as the same constitution which gives the commons a power to check the king by
withholding the supplies, gives afterwards the king a power to check the commons, by
empowering him to reject their other bills; it again supposes that the king is wiser than
those whom it has already supposed to be wiser than him. A mere absurdity!
There is something exceedingly ridiculous in the composition of monarchy; it first
excludes a man from the means of information, yet empowers him to act in cases where
the highest judgment is required. The state of a king shuts him from the world, yet the
business of a king requires him to know it thoroughly; wherefore the different parts, by
unnaturally opposing and destroying each other, prove the whole character to be absurd
and useless.
Some writers have explained the English constitution thus; the king, say they, is one,
the people another; the peers are an house in behalf of the king; the commons in behalf of
the people; but this hath all the distinctions of an house divided against itself; and though
the expressions be pleasantly arranged, yet when examined they appear idle and
ambiguous; and it will always happen, that the nicest construction that words are capable
of, when applied to the description of some thing which either cannot exist, or is too
incomprehensible to be within the compass of description, will be words of sound only,
and though they may amuse the ear, they cannot inform the mind, for this explanation
includes a previous question, viz. How came the king by a power which the people are
afraid to trust, and always obliged to check? Such a power could not be the gift of a wise
people, neither can any power, which needs checking, be from God; yet the provision,
which the constitution makes, supposes such a power to exist.
But the provision is unequal to the task; the means either cannot or will not
accomplish the end, and the whole affair is a felo de se; for as the greater weight will
always carry up the less, and as all the wheels of a machine are put in motion by one, it
only remains to know which power in the constitution has the most weight, for that will
govern; and though the others, or a part of them, may clog, or, as the phrase is, check the
rapidity of its motion, yet so long as they cannot stop it, their endeavors will be
ineffectual; the first moving power will at last have its way, and what it wants in speed is
supplied by time.
That the crown is this overbearing part in the English constitution needs not be
mentioned, and that it derives its whole consequence merely from being the giver of
places and pensions is self-evident, wherefore, though we have been wise enough to shut
and lock a door against absolute monarchy, we at the same time have been foolish
enough to put the crown in possession of the key.
The prejudice of Englishmen, in favor of their own government by king, lords and
commons, arises as much or more from national pride than reason. Individuals are
undoubtedly safer in England than in some other countries, but the will of the king is as
much the law of the land in Britain as in France, with this difference, that instead of
proceeding directly from his mouth, it is handed to the people under the more formidable
shape of an act of parliament. For the fate of Charles the first, hath only made kings more
subtle — not more just.
Wherefore, laying aside all national pride and prejudice in favour of modes and
forms, the plain truth is, that it is wholly owing to the constitution of the people, and not
to the constitution of the government that the crown is not as oppressive in England as in
Turkey.
An inquiry into the constitutional errors in the English form of government is at this
time highly necessary, for as we are never in a proper condition of doing justice to others,
while we continue under the influence of some leading partiality, so neither are we
capable of doing it to ourselves while we remain fettered by any obstinate prejudice. And
as a man, who is attached to a prostitute, is unfitted to choose or judge of a wife, so any
prepossession in favour of a rotten constitution of government will disable us from
discerning a good one.
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 illsounding names of oppression and avarice. Oppression is often the consequence, but
seldom or never the means of riches; and though avarice will preserve a man from being
necessitously poor, it generally makes him too timorous to be wealthy.
But there is another and greater distinction for which no truly natural or religious
reason can be assigned, and that is, the distinction of men into KINGS and SUBJECTS.
Male and female are the distinctions of nature, good and bad the distinctions of heaven;
but how a race of men came into the world so exalted above the rest, and distinguished
like some new species, is worth enquiring into, and whether they are the means of
happiness or of misery to mankind.
In the early ages of the world, according to the scripture chronology, there were no
kings; the consequence of which was there were no wars; it is the pride of kings which
throw mankind into confusion. Holland without a king hath enjoyed more peace for this
last century than any of the monarchial governments in Europe. Antiquity favors the
same remark; for the quiet and rural lives of the first patriarchs hath a happy something in
them, which vanishes away when we come to the history of Jewish royalty.
Government by kings was first introduced into the world by the Heathens, from
whom the children of Israel copied the custom. It was the most prosperous invention the
Devil ever set on foot for the promotion of idolatry. The Heathens paid divine honors to
their deceased kings, and the christian world hath improved on the plan by doing the
same to their living ones. How impious is the title of sacred majesty applied to a worm,
who in the midst of his splendor is crumbling into dust!
As the exalting one man so greatly above the rest cannot be justified on the equal
rights of nature, so neither can it be defended on the authority of scripture; for the will of
the Almighty, as declared by Gideon and the prophet Samuel, expressly disapproves of
government by kings. All anti-monarchial parts of scripture have been very smoothly
glossed over in monarchial 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 monarchial
government, for the Jews at that time were without a king, and in a state of vassalage to
the Romans.
Near three thousand years passed away from the Mosaic account of the creation, till
the Jews under a national delusion requested a king. Till then their form of government
(except in extraordinary cases, where the Almighty interposed) was a kind of republic
administered by a judge and the elders of the tribes. Kings they had none, and it was held
sinful to acknowledge any being under that title but the Lords of Hosts. And when a man
seriously reflects on the idolatrous homage which is paid to the persons of Kings, he need
not wonder, that the Almighty ever jealous of his honor, should disapprove of a form of
government which so impiously invades the prerogative of heaven.
Monarchy is ranked in scripture as one of the sins of the Jews, for which a curse in
reserve is denounced against them. The history of that transaction is worth attending to.
The children of Israel being oppressed by the Midianites, Gideon marched against
them with a small army, and victory, thro’ the divine interposition, decided in his favor.
The Jews elate with success, and attributing it to the generalship of Gideon, proposed
making him a king, saying, Rule thou over us, thou and thy son and thy son’s son. Here
was temptation in its fullest extent; not a kingdom only, but an hereditary one, but
Gideon in the piety of his soul replied, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule
over you, THE LORD SHALL RULE OVER YOU. Words need not be more explicit; Gideon
doth not decline the honor, but denieth their right to give it; neither doth be compliment
them with invented declarations of his thanks, but in the positive stile of a prophet
charges them with disaffection to their proper Sovereign, the King of heaven.
About one hundred and thirty years after this, they fell again into the same error. The
hankering which the Jews had for the idolatrous customs of the Heathens, is something
exceedingly unaccountable; but so it was, that laying hold of the misconduct of Samuel’s
two sons, who were entrusted with some secular concerns, they came in an abrupt and
clamorous manner to Samuel, saying, Behold thou art old and thy sons walk not in thy
ways, now make us a king to judge us like all the other nations. And here we cannot but
observe that their motives were bad, viz. that they might be like unto other nations, i.e.,
the Heathens, whereas their true glory laid in being as much unlike them as possible. But
the thing displeased Samuel when they said, Give us a king to judge us; and Samuel
prayed unto the Lord, and the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the
people in all that they say unto thee, for they have not rejected thee, but they have
rejected me, THAT I SHOULD NOT REIGN OVER THEM. According to all the works which
have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even unto this day;
wherewith they have forsaken me and served other Gods; so do they also unto thee. Now
therefore hearken unto their voice, howbeit, protest solemnly unto them and show them
the manner of the king that shall reign over them, i.e., not of any particular king, but the
general manner of the kings of the earth, whom Israel was so eagerly copying after. And
notwithstanding the great distance of time and difference of manners, the character is still
in fashion. And Samuel told all the words of the Lord unto the people, that asked of him a
king. And he said, This shall be the manner of the king that shall reign over you; he will
take your sons and appoint them for himself for his chariots, and to be his horsemen, and
some shall run before his chariots (this description agrees with the present mode of
impressing men) and he will appoint him captains over thousands and captains over
fifties, and will set them to ear his ground and to 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 feed,
and of your vineyards, and give them to his officers and to his servants (by which we see
that bribery, corruption, and favoritism are the standing vices of kings) and he will take
the tenth of your men servants, and your maid servants, and your goodliest young men
and your asses, and put them to his work; and he will take the tenth of your sheep, and ye
shall be his servants, and ye shall cry out in that day because of your king which ye shall
have chosen, AND THE LORD WILL NOT HEAR YOU IN THAT DAY. This accounts for the
continuation of monarchy; neither do the characters of the few good kings which have
lived since, either sanctify the title, or blot out the sinfulness of the origin; the high
encomium given of David takes no notice of him officially as a king, but only as a man
after God’s own heart. Nevertheless the People refused to obey the voice of Samuel, and
they said, Nay, but we will have a king over us, that we may be like all the nations, and
that our king may judge us, and go out before us and fight our battles. Samuel continued
to reason with them, but to no purpose; he set before them their ingratitude, but all would
not avail; and seeing them fully bent on their folly, he cried out, I will call unto the Lord,
and he shall sent thunder and rain (which then was a punishment, being in the time of
wheat harvest) that ye may perceive and see that your wickedness is great which ye have
done in the sight of the Lord, IN ASKING YOU A KING. So Samuel called unto the Lord, and
the Lord sent thunder and rain that day, and all the people greatly feared the Lord and
Samuel. And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God
that we die not, for WE HAVE ADDED UNTO OUR SINS THIS EVEL, 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 monarchial government is true, or
the scripture is false. And a man hath good reason to believe that there is as much of
king-craft, as priest-craft, in withholding the scripture from the public in Popish
countries. For monarchy in every instance is the Popery of government.
To the evil of monarchy we have added that of hereditary succession; and as the first
is a degradation and lessening of ourselves, so the second, claimed as a matter of right, is
an insult and an imposition on posterity. For all men being originally equals, no one by
birth could have a right to set up his own family in perpetual preference to all others for
ever, and though himself might deserve some decent degree of honors of his
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 honors than were
bestowed upon him, so the givers of those honors could have no power to give away the
right of posterity, and though they might say, “We choose you for our head,” they could
not, without manifest injustice to their children, say, “that your children and your
children’s children shall reign over ours for ever.” Because such an unwise, unjust,
unnatural compact might (perhaps) in the next succession put them under the government
of a rogue or a fool. Most wise men, in their private sentiments, have ever treated
hereditary right with contempt; yet it is one of those evils, which when once established
is not easily removed; many submit from fear, others from superstition, and the more
powerful part shares with the king the plunder of the rest.
This is supposing the present race of kings in the world to have had an honorable
origin; whereas it is more than probable, that could we take off the dark covering of
antiquity, and trace them to their first rise, that we should find the first of them nothing
better than the principal ruffian of some restless gang, whose savage manners or preeminence in subtility obtained him the title of chief among plunderers; and who by
increasing in power, and extending his depredations, over-awed the quiet and defenceless
to purchase their safety by frequent contributions. Yet his electors could have no idea of
giving hereditary right to his descendants, because such a perpetual exclusion of
themselves was incompatible with the free and unrestrained principles they professed to
live by. Wherefore, hereditary succession in the early ages of monarchy could not take
place as a matter of claim, but as something casual or complimental; but as few or no
records were extant in those days, and traditionary history stuffed with fables, it was very
easy, after the lapse of a few generations, to trump up some superstitious tale,
conveniently timed, Mahomet like, to cram hereditary right down the throats of the
vulgar. Perhaps the disorders which threatened, or seemed to threaten, on the decease of a
leader and the choice of a new one (for elections among ruffians could not be very
orderly) induced many at first to favor hereditary pretensions; by which means it
happened, as it hath happened since, that what at first was submitted to as a convenience,
was afterwards claimed as a right.
England, since the conquest, hath known some few good monarchs, but groaned
beneath a much larger number of bad ones; yet no man in his senses can say that their
claim under William the Conqueror is a very honorable one. A French bastard landing
with an armed banditti, and establishing himself king of England against the consent of
the natives, is in plain terms a very paltry rascally original. –It certainly hath no divinity
in it. However, it is needless to spend much time in exposing the folly of hereditary right,
if there are any so weak as to believe it, let them promiscuously worship the ass and lion,
and welcome. I shall neither copy their humility, nor disturb their devotion.
Yet I should be glad to ask how they suppose kings came at first? The question
admits but of three answers, viz. either by lot, by election, or by usurpation. If the first
king was taken by lot, it establishes a precedent for the next, which excludes hereditary
succession. Saul was by lot, yet the succession was not hereditary, neither does it appear
from that transaction there was any intention it ever should. If the first king of any
country was by election, that likewise establishes a precedent for the next; for to say, that
the right of all future generations is taken away, by the act of the first electors, in their
choice not only of a king, but of a family of kings for ever, hath no 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 were subjected to Satan, and in the other to Sovereignty; as our
innocence was lost in the first, and our authority in the last; and as both disable us from
reassuming some former state and privilege, it unanswerably follows that original sin and
hereditary succession are parallels. Dishonorable rank! Inglorious connexion! Yet the
most subtile sophist cannot produce a juster simile.
As to usurpation, no man will be so hardy as to defend it; and that William the
Conqueror was an usurper is a fact not to be contradicted. The plain truth is, that the
antiquity of English monarchy will not bear looking into.
But it is not so much the absurdity as the evil of hereditary succession which concerns
mankind. Did it ensure a race of good and wise men it would have the seal of divine
authority, but as it opens a door to the foolish, the wicked; and the improper, it hath in it
the nature of oppression. Men who look upon themselves born to reign, and others to
obey, soon grow insolent; selected from the rest of mankind their minds are early
poisoned by importance; and the world they act in differs so materially from the world at
large, that they have but little opportunity of knowing its true interests, and when they
succeed to the government are frequently the most ignorant and unfit of any throughout
the dominions.
Another evil which attends hereditary succession is, that the throne is subject to be
possessed by a minor at any age; all which time the regency, acting under the cover of a
king, have every opportunity and inducement to betray their trust. The same national
misfortune happens, when a king worn out with age and infirmity, enters the last stage of
human weakness. In both these cases the public becomes a prey to every miscreant, who
can tamper successfully with the follies either of age or infancy.
The most plausible plea, which hath ever been offered in favor of hereditary
succession, is, that it preserves a nation from civil wars; and were this true, it would be
weighty; whereas, it is the most barefaced falsity ever imposed upon mankind. The whole
history of England disowns the fact. Thirty kings and two minors have reigned in that
distracted kingdom since the conquest, in which time there have been (including the
Revolution) no less than eight civil wars and nineteen rebellions. Wherefore instead of
making for peace, it makes against it, and destroys the very foundation it seems to stand
on.
The contest for monarchy and succession, between the houses of York and Lancaster,
laid England in a scene of blood for many years. Twelve pitched battles, besides
skirmishes and sieges, were fought between Henry and Edward. Twice was Henry
prisoner to Edward, who in his turn was prisoner to Henry. And so uncertain is the fate of
war and the temper of a nation, when nothing but personal matters are the ground of a
quarrel, that Henry was taken in triumph from a prison to a palace, and Edward obliged to
fly from a palace to a foreign land; yet, as sudden transitions of temper are seldom
lasting, Henry in his turn was driven from the throne, and Edward recalled to succeed
him. The parliament always following the strongest side.
This contest began in the reign of Henry the Sixth, and was not entirely extinguished
till Henry the Seventh, in whom the families were united. Including a period of 67 years,
viz. from 1422 to 1489.
In short, monarchy and succession have laid (not this or that kingdom only) but the
world in blood and ashes. ‘Tis a form of government which the word of God bears
testimony against, and blood will attend it.
If we inquire into the business of a king, we shall find that in some countries they
have none; and after sauntering away their lives without pleasure to themselves or
advantage to the nation, withdraw from the scene, and leave their successors to tread the
same idle round. In absolute monarchies the whole weight of business civil and military,
lies on the king; the children of Israel in their request for a king, urged this plea “that he
may judge us, and go out before us and fight our battles.” But in countries where he is
neither a judge nor a general, as in England, a man would be puzzled to know what is his
business.
The nearer any government approaches to a republic, the less business there is for a
king. It is somewhat difficult to find a proper name for the government of England. Sir
William Meredith calls it a republic; but in its present state it is unworthy of the name,
because the corrupt influence of the crown, by having all the places in its disposal, hath
so effectually swallowed up the power, and eaten out the virtue of the house of commons
(the republican part in the constitution) that the government of England is nearly as
monarchical as that of France or Spain. Men fall out with names without understanding
them. For it is the republican and not the monarchical part of the constitution of England
which Englishmen glory in, viz. the liberty of choosing a house of commons from out of
their own body– and it is easy to see that when the 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 the contest; the appeal was the choice of the king, and
the continent hath accepted the challenge.
It hath been reported of the late Mr. Pelham (who tho’ an able minister was not
without his faults) that on his being attacked in the house of commons, on the score, that
his measures were only of a temporary kind, replied, “they will last my time.” Should a
thought so fatal and unmanly possess the colonies in the present contest, the name of
ancestors will be remembered by future generations with detestation.
The sun never shined on a cause of greater worth. ‘Tis not the affair of a city, a
country, a province, or a kingdom, but of a continent– of at least one eighth part of the
habitable globe. ‘Tis not the concern of a day, a year, or an age; posterity are virtually
involved in the contest, and will be more or less affected, even to the end of time, by the
proceedings now. Now is the seed time of continental union, faith and honor. The least
fracture now will be like a name engraved with the point of a pin on the tender rind of a
young oak; The wound will enlarge with the tree, and posterity read it in full grown
characters.
By referring the matter from argument to arms, a new era for politics is struck; a new
method of thinking hath arisen. All plans, proposals, &c. prior to the nineteenth of April,
i.e. to the commencement of hostilities, are like the almanacs of the last year; which,
though proper then, are superseded and useless now. Whatever was advanced by the
advocates on either side of the question then, terminated in one and the same point, viz. a
union with Great-Britain; the only difference between the parties was the method of
effecting it; the one proposing force, the other friendship; but it hath so far happened that
the first hath failed, and the second hath withdrawn her influence.
As much hath been said of the advantages of reconciliation, which, like an agreeable
dream, hath passed away and left us as we were, it is but right, that we should examine
the contrary side of the argument, and inquire into some of the many material injuries
which these colonies sustain, and always will sustain, by being connected with, and
dependant on Great-Britain. To examine that connexion and dependance, on the
principles of nature and common sense, to see what we have to trust to, if separated, and
what we are to expect, if dependant.
I have heard it asserted by some, that as America hath flourished under her former
connexion with Great-Britain, that the same connexion is necessary towards her future
happiness, and will always have the same effect. Nothing can be more fallacious than this
kind of argument. We may as well assert that because a child has thrived upon milk, that
it is never to have meat, or that the first twenty years of our lives is to become a precedent
for the next twenty. But even this is admitting more than is true, for I answer roundly,
that America would have flourished as much, and probably much more, had no European
power had any thing to do with her. The commerce, by which she hath enriched herself
are the necessaries of life, and will always have a market while eating is the custom of
Europe.
But she has protected us, say some. That she hath engrossed us is true, and defended
the continent at our expense as well as her own is admitted, and she would have defended
Turkey from the same motive, viz. the sake of trade and dominion.
Alas, we have been long led away by ancient prejudices, and made large sacrifices to
superstition. We have boasted the protection of Great-Britain, without considering, that
her motive was interest not attachment; that she did not protect us from our enemies on
our account, but from her enemies on her own account, from those who had no quarrel
with us on any other account, and who will always be our enemies on the same account.
Let Britain wave her pretensions to the continent, or the continent throw off the
dependance, and we should be at peace with France and Spain were they at war with
Britain. The miseries of Hanover last war, ought to warn us against connexions.
It hath lately been asserted in parliament, that the colonies have no relation to each
other but through the parent country, i.e. that Pennsylvania and the Jerseys, and so on for
the rest, are sister colonies by the way of England; this is certainly a very 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 travels out of the county, and meet
him in any other, he forgets the minor divisions of street and town, and calls him
countryman; i.e., county-man; but if in their foreign excursions they should associate in
France or any other part of Europe, their local remembrance would be enlarged into that
of Englishmen. And by a just parity of reasoning, all Europeans meeting in America, or
any other quarter of the globe, are countrymen; for England, Holland, Germany, or
Sweden, when compared with the whole, stand in the same places on the larger scale,
which the divisions of street, town, and county do on the smaller ones; distinctions too
limited for continental minds. Not one third of the inhabitants, even of this province, are
of English descent. Wherefore I reprobate the phrase of parent or mother country applied
to England only, as being false, selfish, narrow and ungenerous.
But admitting that we were all of English descent, what does it amount to? Nothing.
Britain, being now an open enemy, extinguishes every other name and title: And to say
that reconciliation is our duty, is truly farcical. The first king of England, of the present
line (William the Conqueror) was a Frenchman, and half the peers of England are
descendants from the same country; wherefore by the same method of reasoning,
England ought to be governed by France.
Much hath been said of the united strength of Britain and the colonies, that in
conjunction they might bid defiance to the world. But this is mere presumption; the fate
of war is uncertain, neither do the expressions mean anything; for this continent would
never suffer itself to be drained of inhabitants, to support the British arms in either Asia,
Africa, or Europe.
Besides, what have we to do with setting the world at defiance? Our plan is
commerce, and that, well attended to, will secure us the peace and friendship of all
Europe; because, it is the interest of all Europe to have America a free port. Her trade
will always be a protection, and her barrenness of gold and silver secure her from
invaders.
I challenge the warmest advocate for reconciliation, to show, a single advantage that
this continent can reap, by being connected with Great Britain. I repeat the challenge, not
a single advantage is derived. Our corn will fetch its price in any market in Europe, and
our imported goods must be paid for buy them where we will.
But the injuries and disadvantages we sustain by that connection, are without number;
and our duty to mankind at large, as well as to ourselves, instruct us to renounce the
alliance: Because, any submission to, or dependance on Great-Britain, tends directly to
involve this continent in European wars and quarrels; and sets us at variance with nations,
who would otherwise seek our friendship, and against whom, we have neither anger nor
complaint. As Europe is our market for trade, we ought to form no partial connection
with any part of it. It is the true interest of America to steer clear of European
contentions, which she never can do, while by her 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 Britain. The next war may not turn out like the last, and
should it not, the advocates for reconciliation now will be wishing for separation then,
because, neutrality in that case, would be a safer convoy than a man of war. Every thing
that is right or natural pleads for separation. The blood of the slain, the weeping voice of
nature cries, ‘TIS TIME TO PART. Even the distance at which the Almighty hath placed
England and America, is a strong and natural proof, that the authority of the one, over the
other, was never the design of Heaven. The time likewise at which the continent was
discovered, adds weight to the argument, and the manner in which it was peopled
encreases the force of it. The reformation was preceded by the discovery of America, as
if the Almighty graciously meant to open a sanctuary to the persecuted in future years,
when home should afford neither friendship nor safety.
The authority of Great-Britain over this continent, is a form of government, which
sooner or later must have an end: And a serious mind can draw no true pleasure by
looking forward, under the painful and positive conviction, that what he calls “the present
constitution” is merely temporary. As parents, we can have no joy, knowing that this
government is not sufficiently lasting to ensure any thing which we may bequeath to
posterity: And by a plain method of argument, as we are running the next generation into
debt, we ought to do the work of it, otherwise we use them meanly and pitifully. In order
to discover the line of our duty rightly, we should take our children in our hand, and fix
our station a few years farther into life; that eminence will present a prospect, which a
few present fears and prejudices conceal from our sight.
Though I would carefully avoid giving unnecessary offence, yet I am inclined to
believe, that all those who espouse the doctrine of reconciliation, may be included within
the following descriptions. Interested men, who are not to be trusted; weak men, who
cannot see; prejudiced men, who will not see; and a certain set of moderate men, who
think better of the European world than it deserves; and this last class, by an ill-judged
deliberation, will be the cause of more calamities to this continent, than all the other
three.
It is the good fortune of many to live distant from the scene of sorrow; the evil is not
sufficiently brought to their doors to make them feel the precariousness with which all
American property is possessed. But let our imaginations transport us for a few moments
to Boston, that seat of wretchedness will teach us wisdom, and instruct us for ever to
renounce a power in whom we can have no trust. The inhabitants of that unfortunate city,
who but a few months ago were in ease and affluence, have now, no other alternative
than to stay and starve, or turn out to beg. Endangered by the fire of their friends if they
continue within the city, and plundered by the soldiery if they leave it. In their present
condition they are prisoners without the hope of redemption, and in a general attack for
their relief, they would be exposed to the fury of both armies.
Men of passive tempers look somewhat lightly over the 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 you cannot do all these, then are you only deceiving yourselves, and by your
delay bringing ruin upon posterity. Your future connection with Britain, whom you can
neither love nor honor, will be forced and unnatural, and being formed only on the plan
of present convenience, will in a little time fall into a relapse more wretched than the
first. But if you say, you can still pass the violations over, then I ask, Hath your house
been burnt? Hath you property been destroyed before your face? Are your wife and
children destitute of a bed to lie on, or bread to live on? Have you lost a parent or a child
by their hands, and yourself the ruined and wretched survivor? If you have not, then are
you not a judge of those who have. But if you have, and can still shake hands with the
murderers, then are you unworthy the name of husband, father, friend, or lover, and
whatever may be your rank or title in life, you have the heart of a coward, and the spirit
of a sycophant.
This is not 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 the
former ages, to suppose, that this continent can longer remain subject to any external
power. The most sanguine in Britain does not think so. The utmost stretch of human
wisdom cannot, at this time, compass a plan short of separation, which can promise the
continent even a year’s security. Reconciliation is now a fallacious dream. Nature hath
deserted the connexion, and Art cannot supply her place. For, as Milton wisely expresses,
“never can true reconcilement grow where wounds of deadly hate have pierced so deep.”
Every quiet method for peace hath been ineffectual. Our prayers have been rejected
with disdain; and only tended to convince us, that nothing flatters vanity, or confirms
obstinacy in kings more than repeated petitioning — and 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 independence; I am clearly, positively, and conscientiously persuaded that
it is the true interest of this continent to be so; that every thing short of that is mere
patchwork, that it can afford no lasting felicity, — that it is leaving the sword to our
children, and shrinking back at a time, when, a little more, a little farther, would have
rendered this continent the glory of the earth.
As Britain hath not manifested the least inclination towards a compromise, we may be
assured that no terms can be obtained worthy the acceptance of the continent, or any
ways equal to the expense of blood and treasure we have been already put to.
The object, contended for, ought always to bear some just proportion to the expence.
The removal of North, or the whole detestable junto, is a matter unworthy the millions we
have expended. A temporary stoppage of trade, was an inconvenience, which would have
sufficiently ballanced the repeal of all the acts complained of, had such repeals been
obtained; but if the whole continent must take up arms, if every man must be a soldier, it
is scarcely worth our while to fight against a contemptible ministry only. Dearly, dearly,
do we pay for the repeal of the acts, if that is all we fight for; for in a just estimation, it is
as great a folly to pay a Bunker-hill price for law, as for land. As I have always
considered the independency of this continent, as an event, which sooner or later must
arrive, so from the late rapid progress of the continent to maturity, the event could not be
far off. Wherefore, on the breaking out of hostilities, it was not worth the while to have
disputed a matter, which time would have finally redressed, unless we meant to be in
earnest; otherwise, it is like wasting an estate of a suit at law, to regulate the trespasses of
a tenant, whose lease is just expiring. No man was a warmer wisher for reconciliation
than myself, before the fatal nineteenth of April, 1775 (Massacre at Lexington), 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 shown himself such
an inveterate enemy to liberty, and discovered such a thirst for arbitrary power; is he, or
is he not, a proper man to say to these colonies, “You shall make no laws but what I
please.” And is there any 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 endeavor to make us less? To bring the
matter to one point. Is the power who is jealous of our prosperity, a proper power to
govern us? Whoever says No to this question is an independent, for independency means
no more, than, whether we shall make our own laws, or whether the king, the greatest
enemy this continent hath, or can have, shall tell us, “there shall be now laws but such as
I like.”
But the king you will say has a negative in England; the people there can make no
laws without his consent. In point of right and good order, there is something very
ridiculous, that a youth of twenty-one (which hath often happened) shall say to several
millions of people, older and wiser than himself, I forbid this or that act of yours to be
law. But in this place I decline this sort of reply, 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 defence as possible, and in America he would
never suffer such a bill to be passed.
America is only a secondary object in the system of British politics, England consults
the good of this country, no farther than it answers her own purpose. Wherefore, her own
interest leads her to suppress the growth of ours in every case which doth not promote her
advantage, or in the least interfere with it. A pretty state we should soon be in under such
a second-hand government, considering what has happened! Men do not change from
enemies to friends by the alteration of a name: And in order to show that reconciliation
now is a dangerous doctrine, I affirm, that it would be policy in the 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 SUBTILTY, IN THE LONG RUN, WHAT HE
CANNOT DO BY FORCE AND VIOLENCE IN THE SHORT ONE. Reconciliation and ruin are
nearly related.
Secondly. That as even the best terms, which we can expect to obtain, can amount to
no more than a temporary expedient, or a kind of government by guardianship, which can
last no longer than till the colonies come of age, so the general face and state of things, in
the interim, will be unsettled and unpromising. Emigrants of property will not choose to
come to a country whose form of government hangs but by a thread, and who is every
day tottering on the brink of commotion and disturbance; and numbers of the present
inhabitant would lay hold of the interval, to dispose of their effects, and quit the
continent.
But the most powerful of all arguments, is, that nothing but independence, i.e. a
continental form of government, can keep the peace of the continent and preserve it
inviolate from civil wars. I dread the event of a reconciliation with Britain now, as it is
more than probable, that it will be followed by a revolt somewhere or other, the
consequences of which may be far more fatal than all the malice of Britain.
Thousands are already ruined by British barbarity; (thousands more will probably
suffer the same fate.) Those men have other feelings than us who have nothing suffered.
All they now possess is liberty, what they before enjoyed is sacrificed to its service, and
having nothing more to lose, they disdain submission. Besides, the general temper of the
colonies, towards a British government, will be like that of a youth, who is nearly out of
his time; they will care very little about her. And a government which cannot preserve the
peace, is no government at all, and in that case we pay our money for nothing; and pray
what is it that Britain can do, whose power will be wholly on paper, should a civil tumult
break out the very day after reconciliation? I have heard some men say, many of whom I
believe spoke without thinking, that they dreaded independence, fearing that it would
produce civil wars. It is but seldom that our first thoughts are truly correct, and that is the
case here; for there are ten times more to dread from a patched up connexion 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
over another.
Where there are no distinctions there can be no superiority, perfect equality affords no
temptation. The republics of Europe are all (and we may say always) in peace. Holland
and Switzerland are without wars, foreign or domestic: Monarchical governments, it is
true, are never long at rest; the crown itself is a temptation to 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 struggling 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 join
Lucifer in his revolt.
But as there is a peculiar delicacy, from whom, or in what manner, this business must
first arise, and as it seems most agreeable and consistent that it should come from some
intermediate body between the governed and the governors, that is, between the Congress
and the people, let a CONTINENTAL CONFERENCE be held, in the following manner, and
for the following purpose.
A committee of twenty-six members of Congress, viz. two for each colony. Two
members 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
Charta of England) fixing the number and manner of choosing members of Congress,
members of Assembly, with their date of sitting, and drawing the line of business and
jurisdiction between them: (Always remembering, that our strength is continental, not
provincial:) Securing freedom and property to all men, and above all things, the free
exercise of religion, according to the dictates of conscience; with such other matter as is
necessary for a charter to contain. Immediately after which, the said Conference to
dissolve, and the bodies which shall be chosen conformable to the said charter, to be the
legislators and governors of this continent for the time being: Whose peace and
happiness, may God preserve, Amen.
Should any body of men be hereafter delegated for this or some similar purpose, I
offer them the following extracts from that wise observer on governments Dragonetti.
“The science” says he, “of the politician consists in fixing the true point of happiness and
freedom. Those men would deserve the gratitude of ages, who should discover a mode of
government that contained the greatest sum of individual happiness, with the least
national expense.
Dragonetti on Virtue and Rewards.”
But where says some is the King of America? I’ll tell you Friend, he reigns above,
and doth not make havoc of mankind like the Royal Brute of Britain. Yet that we may not
appear to be defective even in earthly honors, let a day be solemnly set apart for
proclaiming the charter; let it be brought forth placed on the divine law, the word of God;
let a crown be placed thereon, by which the world may know, that so far as we approve of
monarchy, that in America THE LAW IS KING. For as in absolute governments the king is
law, so in free countries the law ought to be King; and there ought to be no other. But lest
any ill use should afterwards arise, let the crown at the conclusion of the ceremony be
demolished, and scattered among the people whose right it is.
A government of our own is our natural right: And when a man seriously reflects on
the precariousness of human affairs, he will become convinced, that it is 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 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, what a 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.
(*Thomas Anello, otherwise Massanello, a fisherman of Naples, who after spiriting
up his countrymen in the public market place, against the oppression of the Spaniards, to
whom the place was then subject, prompted them to revolt, and in the space of a day
become king.)
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 should cease to
be nature if she did. As well can the lover forgive the ravisher of his mistress, as the
continent forgive the murders of Britain. The Almighty hath implanted in us these
unextinguishable feelings for good and wise purposes. They are the guardians of his
image in our hearts. They distinguish us from the herd of common animals. The social
compact would dissolve, and justice be extirpated from the earth, or have only a casual
existence were we callous to the touches of affection. The robber and the murderer,
would often escape unpunished, did not the injuries which our tempers sustain, provoke
us into justice.
O ye that love mankind! Ye that dare oppose, not only the tyranny, but the tyrant,
stand forth! Every spot of the old world is overrun with oppression. Freedom hath been
hunted round the globe. Asia, and Africa, have long expelled her. — Europe regards her
like a stranger, and England hath given her warning to depart. O! receive the fugitive, and
prepare in time an asylum for mankind.
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 shown less judgment, than in endeavoring 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 endeavor, 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 fact, 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 this country is every day diminishing, and that, which will
remain at last, will be far off and difficult to procure.
Were the continent crowded with inhabitants, her sufferings under the present
circumstances would be intolerable. The more sea port towns we had, the more should we
have both to defend and to 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 vial acts repealed, and routing
the present ministry only, is unworthy the charge, and is using posterity with the utmost
cruelty; because it is leaving them the great work to do, and a debt upon their backs, from
which, they derive no advantage. Such a thought is unworthy a man of honor, and is the
true characteristic of a narrow heart and a 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 a
just one. See Entic’s naval history, intro. page 56.
The charge of building a ship of each rate, and furnishing her with masts, yards, sails
and rigging, together with a proportion of eight months boatswain’s and carpenter’s seastores, as calculated by Mr. Burchett, Secretary to the navy.
£.
For a ship of 100 guns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35,553
90 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29,886
80 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23,638
70 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17,785
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 . . . . . . . . . . . 35,533 l. . . . . . . . . . .213,318 l.
12 . . . . . . . . . . . 90 . . . . . . . . . . . 29,886 . . . . . . . . . . . 358,632
12 . . . . . . . . . . . 80 . . . . . . . . . . . 23,638 . . . . . . . . . . . 283,656
43 . . . . . . . . . . . 70 . . . . . . . . . . . 17,785 . . . . . . . . . . . 746,755
35 . . . . . . . . . . . 60 . . . . . . . . . . . 4,197 . . . . . . . . . . . . 496,895
40 . . . . . . . . . . . 50 . . . . . . . . . . . 10,606 . . . . . . . . . . . 424,240
45 . . . . . . . . . . . 40 . . . . . . . . . . . 7,758 . . . . . . . . . . . . 344,110
58 . . . . . . . . . . . 20 . . . . . . . . . . . 3,710 . . . . . . . . . . . . 215,180
85 Sloops, bombs,
and fireships, one
2,000 . . . . . . . . . . . . 170,000
with another, at
Cost 3,266,786
Remains for guns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .229,214
3,500,000
No country on the globe is so happily situated, so internally capable of raising a fleet
as America. Tar, timber, iron, and cordage are her natural produce. We need go abroad
for nothing. Whereas the Dutch, who make large profits by hiring out their ships of war
to the Spaniards and Portuguese, are obliged to import most of the materials they use. We
ought to view the building a fleet as an article of commerce, it being the natural
manufactory of this country. It is the best money we can lay out. A navy when finished is
worth more than it cost. And is that nice point in national policy, in which commerce and
protection are united. Let us build; if we want them not, we can sell; and by that means
replace our paper currency with ready gold and silver.
In point of manning a fleet, people in general run into great errors; it is not necessary
that one-fourth part should be 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 defence, ought to improve with our increase
of property. A common pirate, twelve months ago, might have come up the Delaware,
and laid the city of Philadelphia under instant contribution, for what sum he pleased; and
the same might have happened to other places. Nay, any daring fellow, in a brig of
fourteen or sixteen guns, might have robbed the whole Continent, and carried off half a
million of money. These are circumstances which demand our attention, and point out the
necessity of naval protection.
Some, perhaps, will say, that after we have made it up with Britain, she will protect
us. Can we be so unwise as to mean, that she shall keep a navy in our harbours for that
purpose? Common sense will tell us, that the power which hath endeavored to subdue us,
is of all others, the most improper to defend us. Conquest may be effected under the
pretence of friendship; and ourselves, after a long and brave resistance, be at last cheated
into slavery. And if her ships are not to be admitted into our harbours, I would ask, how
is she to protect us? A navy three or four thousand miles off can be of little use, and on
sudden emergencies, none at all. Wherefore, if we must hereafter protect ourselves, why
not do it for ourselves? Why do it for another?
The English list of ships of war, is long and formidable, but not a tenth part of them
are at any one time fit for service, numbers of them not in being; yet their names are
pompously continued in the list, if only a plank be left of the ship: and not a fifth part, of
such as are fit for service, can be spared on any one station at one time. The East, and
West Indies, Mediterranean, Africa, and other parts over which Britain extends her claim,
make large demands upon her navy. From a mixture of prejudice and inattention, we have
contracted a false notion respecting the navy of England, and have talked as if we should
have the whole of it to encounter at once, and for that reason, supposed, that we must
have one as large; which not being instantly practicable, have been made use of by a set
of disguised Tories to discourage our beginning thereon. Nothing can be farther from
truth than this; for if America had only a twentieth part of the naval force of Britain, she
would be by far an over match for her; because, as we neither have, nor claim any foreign
dominion, our whole force would be employed on our own coast, where we should, in the
long run, have two to one the advantage of those who had three or four thousand miles to
sail over, before they could attack us, and the same distance to return in order to refit and
recruit. And although Britain by her fleet, hath a check over our trade to Europe, we have
as large a one over her trade to the West-Indies, which, by laying in the neighborhood of
the Continent, is entirely at its mercy.
Some method might be fallen on to keep up a naval force in time of peace, if we
should not judge it necessary to support a constant navy. If premiums were to be given to
merchants, to build and employ in their service, ships mounted with twenty, thirty, forty,
or fifty guns, (the premiums to be in proportion to the loss of bulk to the merchants) fifty
or sixty of those ships, with a few guard ships on constant duty, would keep up a
sufficient navy, and that without burdening ourselves with the evil so loudly complained
of in England, of suffering their fleet, in time of peace to lie rotting in the docks. To unite
the sinews of commerce and defence is sound policy; for when our strength and our
riches, play into each other’s hand, we need fear no external enemy.
In almost every article of defence we abound. Hemp flourishes even to rankness, so
that we need not want cordage. Our iron is superior to that of other countries. Our small
arms equal to any in the world. 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, shows the insignificance of a British
government, and fully proves, that nothing but Continental authority can regulate
Continental matters.
Another reason why the present time is preferable to all others, is, that the fewer our
numbers are, the more land there is yet unoccupied, which instead of being lavished by
the king on his worthless dependents, may be hereafter applied, not only to the discharge
of the present debt, but to the constant support of government. No nation under heaven
hath such an advantage as this.
The infant state of the Colonies, as it is called, so far from being against, is an
argument in favor of independence. We are sufficiently numerous, and were we more so,
we might be less united. It is a matter worthy of observation, that the more a country is
peopled, the smaller their armies are. In military numbers, the ancients far exceeded the
moderns: and the reason is evident, for trade being the consequence of population, men
become too much absorbed thereby to attend to 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 era for posterity to glory in.
The present time, likewise, is that peculiar time, which never happens to a nation but
once, viz. the time of forming itself into a government. Most nations have let slip the
opportunity, and by that means have been compelled to receive laws from their
conquerors, instead of making laws for themselves. First, they had a king, and then a
form of government; whereas, the articles or charter of government, should be formed
first, and men delegated to execute them afterwards: but from the errors of other nations,
let us learn wisdom, and lay hold of the present opportunity — To begin government at
the right end.
When William the Conqueror subdued England, he gave them law at the point of the
sword; and until we consent, that the seat of government in America, be legally and
authoritatively occupied, we shall be in danger of having it filled by some fortunate
ruffian, who may treat us in the same manner, and then, where will be our freedom?
where our property?
As to religion, I hold it to be the 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 so unwilling to part with, and he will
be at once delivered of his fears on that head. Suspicion is the companion of mean souls,
and the bane of all good society. For myself, I fully and conscientiously believe, that it is
the will of the Almighty, that there should be diversity of religious opinions among us: It
affords a larger field for our Christian kindness. Were we all of one way of thinking, our
religious dispositions would want matter for probation; and on this liberal principle, I
look on the various denominations among us, to be like children of the same family,
differing only, in what is called, their Christian names.
[Earlier in this work], 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 re-mentioning 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 dishonored a schoolboy, and after being approved by a few, a very
few without doors, were carried into the House, and there passed in behalf of the whole
colony; whereas, did the whole colony know, with what ill-will that House hath entered
on some necessary public measures, they would not hesitate a moment to think them
unworthy of such a trust.
Immediate necessity makes many things convenient, which if continued would grow
into oppressions. Expedience and right are different things. When the calamities of
America required a consultation, there was no method so ready, or at that time so proper,
as to appoint persons from the several Houses of Assembly for that purpose; and the
wisdom with which they have proceeded hath preserved this continent from ruin. But as
it is more than probable that we shall never be without a CONGRESS, every well wisher
to good order, must own, that the mode for choosing members of that body, deserves
consideration. And I put it as a question to those, who make a study of mankind, whether
representation and election is not too great a power for one and the same body of men to
possess? When we are planning for posterity, we ought to remember, that virtue is not
hereditary.
It is from our enemies that we often gain excellent maxims, and are frequently
surprised into reason by their mistakes. Mr. Cornwall (one of the Lords of the Treasury)
treated the petition of the New-York Assembly with contempt, because that House, he
said, consisted but of twenty-six members, which trifling number, he argued, could not
with decency be put for the whole. We thank him for his involuntary honesty.*
*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
show, that nothing can settle our affairs so expeditiously as an open and determined
declaration for independence. Some of which are,
First. — It is the custom of nations, when any two are at war, for some other powers,
not engaged in the quarrel, to step in as mediators, and bring about the preliminaries of a
peace: but while America calls herself the Subject of Great-Britain, no power, however
well disposed she may be, can offer her mediation. Wherefore, in our present state we
may quarrel on for ever.
Secondly. — It is unreasonable to suppose, that France or Spain will give us any kind
of assistance, if we mean only, to make use of that assistance for the purpose of repairing
the breach, and strengthening the connection between Britain and America; because,
those powers would be sufferers by the consequences.
Thirdly. — While we profess ourselves the subjects of Britain, we must, in the eye of
foreign nations, be considered as rebels. The precedent is somewhat dangerous to their
peace, for men to be in arms under the name of subjects; we, on the spot, can solve the
paradox: but to unite resistance and subjection, requires an idea much too refined for
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 connection 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
independence, 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 independence 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.
————APPENDIX
SINCE the publication of the first edition of this pamphlet, or rather, on the same day on
which it came out, the King’s Speech made its appearance in this city. Had the spirit of
prophecy directed the birth of this production, it could not have brought it forth, at a more
seasonable juncture, or a more necessary time. The bloody mindedness of the one, show
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 independence.
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 villainy, deserved, and still deserves, a general
execration both by the Congress and the people. Yet, as the domestic tranquility 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 consequences 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 a man, but sunk himself beneath the rank of animals, and contemptibly crawls
through the world like a worm.
However, it matters very little now, what the king of England either says or does; he
hath wickedly broken through every moral and human obligation, trampled nature and
conscience beneath his feet; and by a steady and constitutional spirit of insolence and
cruelty, procured for himself an universal hatred. It is now the interest of America to
provide for herself. She hath already a large and young family, whom it is more her duty
to take care of, than to be granting away her property, to support a power who is become
a reproach to the names of men and christians — YE, whose office it is to watch over the
morals of a nation, of whatsoever sect or denomination ye are of, as well as ye, who, are
more immediately the guardians of the public liberty, if ye wish to preserve your native
country uncontaminated by European corruption, ye must in secret wish a separation -But leaving the moral part to private reflection, I shall chiefly confine my farther remarks
to the following heads.
First. That it is the interest of America to be separated from Britain.
Secondly. Which is the easiest and most practicable plan, RECONCILIATION or
INDEPENDENCE? with some occasional remarks.
In support of the first, I could, if I judged it proper, produce the opinion of some of
the ablest and most experienced men on this continent; and whose sentiments, on that
head, are not yet publicly known. It is in reality a self-evident position: For no nation in a
state of foreign dependance, limited in its commerce, and cramped and fettered in its
legislative powers, can ever arrive at any material eminence. America doth not yet know
what opulence is; and although the progress which she hath made stands unparalleled in
the history of other nations, it is but childhood, compared with what she would be
capable of arriving at had she, as she ought to have, the legislative powers in her own
hands. England is, at this time, proudly coveting what would do her no good, were she to
accomplish it; and the Continent hesitating on a matter, which will be her final ruin if
neglected. It is the commerce and not the conquest of America, by which England is to be
benefited, and that would in a great measure continue, were the countries as independent
of each other as France and Spain; because in many articles, neither can go to a better
market. But it is the independence of this country of Britain or any other, which is now
the main and only object worthy of contention, and which, like all other truths discovered
by necessity, will appear clearer and stronger every day.
First. Because it will come to that one time or other.
Secondly. Because, the longer it is delayed the harder it will be to accomplish.
I have frequently amused myself both in public and private companies, with silently
remarking, the specious errors of those who speak without reflecting. And among the
many which I have heard, the following seems the most general, viz. that had this rupture
happened forty or fifty years hence, instead of now, the Continent would have been more
abl…
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