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A letter from general Gage to Peyton Randolph, esquire.
BOSTON, October 20th, 1774. SIR,
Representations should be made with candour, and matters stated exactly as they stand. People would be led to believe, from your letter to me ot the 10th instant, that works were raised against the town of Boston, private property invaded, the soldiers suffered to insult the inhabitants, anil the communication between the town and country, shut up and molested.
Nothing can be farther from the true situation of this place than the above state. There is not a single gun pointed against the. town, no man's property has been seized or hurt, except the king's, by the people's destroying straw, bricks, &c. bought for his service. No troops have given less cause for complaint, and greater care was never taken to prevent it; and such care and attention was never more necessary from the insults and provocations daily given to both officers and soldiers. The communication between the town and country has' been always free and unmolested, and is so still.
Two works of earth have been raised at some distance from the town, wide off the road, and guns put in them. The remainder of old works, going out of the town, have been strengthened, and guns placed there likewise. .People will think differently, whetherthe hostile preparation throughout the country, and the menaces of blood and slaughter, made this necessary; but I am to do my duty.
It gives me pleasure that you are endeavouring at a cordial reconciliation with the mother country, which, from what has transpired, 1 have despaired of. Nobody wishes better success to such measures than myself. 1 have endeavoured to be a mediator, if I could establish a foundation to work upon, and have strongly urged it to people here to pay for the tea, and send a prouer memorial to the king, which would be a good beginning on their side, and give their friends the opportunity they seek to move in their support.
[ do not believe that menaces, and unfriendly proceedings, will have the effect which too many conceive. The spirit of the British nation was high when I left England, and such measures will not abate it. But I should hope that decency and moderation here, would create the same disposition at home; and I ardently wish that the common enemies to both countries may see, to their disappointment, that these disputes, between the mother-country and the colonies, have terminated like the quarrels of lovers, and increased the affection which they ought to bear to each other.
I am, sir, your most obedient humble servant,
THE PETITION OF CONGRESS.
We, your majesty's faithful subjects, of the colonies of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, die counties of New-Castle, Kent, and Sussex, on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, and South-Carolina, in behalf of ourselves and the inhabitants of these colonies, who have deputed us to represent them in general Congress, by this our humble petition, beg leave to lay our grievances before the throne.
A standing army has been kept in these colonies, ever since the conclusion of the late war, without the consent of our assemblies; and this army, with a considerable naval armament, has been employed to enforce the collection of taxes.
The authority of the commander in chief, and under him the brigadiergeneral has, in time of peace, been rendered supreme in all the civil governments in America.
The commander in chief of all your majesty's forces in North-America, has, in time of peace, been appointed governor of a colony.
The charges of usual offices have been greatly increased; and, new, expensive, and oppressive offices have been multiplied.
The judges of admiralty and vice-admiralty courts, are empowered to receive their salaries and fees from the effects condemned by themselves.
The officers of the customs are empowered to break open and enter houses, without the authority of any civil magistrate, founded on legal information.
The judges of courts of common law have been made entirely dependent on one part of the legislature for their salaries, as well as for the duration of their commissions.
Counsellors, holding their commissions during pleasure, exercise legislative authority.
Humble and reasonable petitions, from the representatives of the people, have been fruitless.
The agents of the people have been discountenanced, and governors have been instructed to prevent the payment of the salaries.
Assemblies have been repeatedly and injuriously dissolved.
Commerce has been burthened with many useless and oppressive restrictions.
By several acts of parliament made in the fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth years of yourmajesty's reign, duties are imposed on us, for the purpose of raising a revenue; and the powers of admiralty and vice-admiralty courts are extended beyond their ancient limits, whereby our property is taken from us without our consent, the trial by jury, in many civil cases, is abolished, enormous forfeitures are incurred for slight offences, vexatious informers are exempted from paying damages, to which they are justly liable, and oppressive security is required from owners before they are allowed to defend their right.
Both houses of parliament have resolved, that colonists may be tried in England for offences alleged to have been committed in America, by virtue of a statute passed in the thirty-fifth year of Henry the eighth; and, in consequence thereof, attempts have been made to enforce that statute.
A statute was passed in the twelfth year of yourmajesty's reign, directing, that persons charged with committing any offence therein described, in any place out of the realm, may be indicted and tried for the same, in any shire or county within the realm, whereby inhabitants of these colonies may, in sundry cases, by that statute made capital, be deprived of a trial by their peers of the vicinage.
In the last session of parliament, an act was passed for blocking up the harbour of Boston; another empowering the governor of the MassachusettsBay, to send persons indicted for murder in that province, to another colony, or, even to Great-Britain for trial, whereby such offenders may escape legal punishment; a third for altering the chartered constitution of government in that province; ind a fourth tor extending the limits of Quebec, abolishing the English and restoring the French laws, whereby great numbers of British Frenchmen are subjected to the latter, and establishing an absolute government and the Roman Catholic religion throughout those vast regions, that border on the westerly and northerly boundaries of the free, Protestant, English settlements; and a fifth, for the better providing suitable quarters for officers and soldiers, in his majesty's service, in North-America.' . .
To a sovereign, who glories in the name of Britain, the bare recital of these acts must, we presume, justify the loyal subjects, who fly to the foot of his throne, and implore his clemency for protection against them.
From this destructive system of colony administration, adopted since the conclusion of the last war, have flowed those distresses, dangers, fears, and jealousies, that overwhelm your majesty's dutiful colonists with affliction: and we defy our most subtle and inveterate enemies to trace the unhappy differences between Great-Britain and these colonies, from an earlier periodor from other causes than we have assigned. Had they proceeded on our part from a restless levity of temper, unjust impulses of ambition, or artful suggestions of seditious persons, we should merit the opprobrious terms frequently bestowed upon U9 by those we revere. But so far from promoting innovations, we have only opposed them; and can be charged with no offence, unless it be one to receive injuries, and be sensible of them.
Had our Creator been pleased to give us existence in a land of slavery, the sense of our condition might have been mitigated by ignorance and habit. But, thanks be to his adorable goodness, we were born the heirs of freedom, and ever enjoyed our right under the auspices of your royal ancestors, whose family was seated on the British throne, to rescue and secure a pious and gallant nation from the popery and despotism of a superstitious and inexorable tyrant. Your majesty, we are confident, justly rejoices, that your title to the crown is thus founded on the title of your people to liberty; and, therefore, we doubt not but your royal wisdom must approve the sensibility, that teaches your subjects anxiously to guard the blessing, they received from divine Providence, and thereby to prove the performance of that compact, which elevated the illustrious house of Brunswick to the imperial dignity it now possesses.
The apprehension of being degraded into a state of servitude, from the pre-eminent rank of English freemen, while our minds retain the strongest love of liberty, and clearly foresee the miseries preparing for us and our posterity-, excites emotions in our breasts, which though we cannot describe, we should not wish to conceal. Feeling as men and thinking as subjects in the manner we do, silence would be disloyalty. By giving this faithful information, we do all in our power to promote the great object of your royal cares, the tranquillity of your government, and the welfare of your people.
Duty to your majesty, and regard for the preservation of ourselves and our posterity, the primary obligations of nature and society, command us to entreat your royal attention; and as your majesty enjoys the signal distinction of reigning over freemen, we apprehend the language of freemen cannot be dis pleasing. Your royal indignation, we hope, will rather fall on those designing and dangerous men, who daringly interposing themselves between your royal person and your faithful subjects, and for several years past incessantly employed to dissolve the bonds of society, by abusing your majesty's authority, misrepresenting your American subjects, and prosecuting the most desperate and irritating projects of oppression, nave at length compelled us, by the force of accumulated injuries, too severe to be any longer tolerable, to disturb your majesty's repose by our complaints.
These sentiments are extorted from hearts, that much more willingly would bleed in your majesty's service. Yet so greatly have we been misrepresented, that a necessity "has been alleged of taking our property from us, without our consent, "to defray the charge of the administration of justice, the support of civil government, and the defence, protection and security of the colonies." But we beg leave to assure your majesty, that such provision has been, and will be made for defraying the two first articles, as has been and shall be judged, by the legislatures of the several colonies, just and suitable to their respective circumstances: and, for the defence, protection, and security of the colonies, their militias, if properly regulated, as they earnestly desire may immediately be done, would be fully sufficient, at least in times of peace; and, in case of war, your faithful colonists will be ready and willing, as they ever have been, when constitutionally required, to demonstrate their loyalty to your majesty, by exerting their most strenuous efforts in granting supplies and raising forces. Yielding to no British subjects in affectionate attachment to your majesty's person, family, and government; we too dearly prize the privilege of expressing that attachment by those proofs, that are honorable to the prince who receives them, and to the people who give them, ever to resign it to auy body of men upon earth.
Had we been permitted to enjoy, in qutet, the inheritance left us by our fore-fathers, we should, at this time, have been peaceably, cheerfully, and usefully employed in recommending ourselves, by every testimony of devotion, to your majesty, and of veneration to the state, from which we derive our origin. But though now exposed to unexpected and unnatural scenes of distress by a contention with that nation, in whose parental guidance on all important affairs, we have hitherto, with filial reverence, constantly trusted, and therefore can derive no instruction in our present unhappy and perplexing circumstances from any former experience; yet, we doubt not, the purity of our intention, and the integrity of our conduct, will justify us at that grand tribunal, before which all mankind must submit to judgment.
"We ask but for peace, liberty, and safety. We wish not a diminution of the prerogative, nor do we solicit the grant of any new right in our favour. Your royal authority over us, and our connexion with Great Britain, we shall always carefully and zealously endeavour to support and maintain.
Filled with sentiments of duty to 'your majesty, and of affection to our parent state, deeply impressed by our education, and strongly confirmed by our reason, and anxious to evince the sincerity of these dispositions, we present this petition only to obtain redress of grievances, and relief from fears and jealousies, occasioned by the system of statutes and regulations adopted since the close of the late war, for raising a revenue in America—extending the powers of courts of admiralty and vice-admiralty—trying persons in GreatBritain for offences alleged to have been committed in America—affecting the province of Massachusetts-bay—and altering the government and extending the limits of Quebec: by the abolition of which system, the harmony between Great-Britain and these colonies, so necessary to the happiness of both, and so ardently desired by the latter, and the usual intercourses will be immediately restored. In the magnanimity and justice of your majesty and parliament, we confide for a redress of our other grievances, trusting, that, when the causes of our apprehensions are removed, our future conduct will prove us not unworthy of the regard we have been accustomed, in our happier days, to enjoy. For, appealing to that Being who searches, thoroughly, the hearts of his creatures, we solemnly profess, that our councils have been influenced by no other motive, than a dread of impending destruction.
Permit us, then, most gracious sovereign, in the name of all your faithful people in America, with the utmost humility, to implore you, for the honor of Almighty God, whose pure religion our enemies are undermining; for your
flory, which can be advanced only by rendering your subjects happy, and eeping them ^united; for the interests of your family depending on an adherence to the principles that enthroned it; for the safety and welfare of your kingdoms and dominions, threatened with almost unavoidable dangers and distresses, that your majesty, as the loving father of your whole people, connected by the same bonds of law, loyalty, fatth, and blood, though dwelling in various countries, will not suffer the transcendent relation formed by these ties to be farther violated, in uncertain expectation of effects, that, if attained, sever can compensate for the calamities through which they must be gained.
"We, therefore, most earnestly beseech your majesty, that your royal authority and interposition may be used for our relief, and that a gracious answer may be given to this petition.
That your majesty may enjoy every felicity through a long and glorious reign, over loyal and happy subjects, and that your descendents may inherit your prosperity and dominions till time shall be no more, is, and always will be, our sincere and fervent prayer. .
Vol, I. . 7
JOURNALS OF CONGRESS.
Wednesday, May 10,17-75.
A number of delegates from the colonies of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware Counties, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, and South-Carolina, agreeable to their appointment and orders, received from their respective colonies, met at Philadelphia, and being convened in the state-house, proceeded to the choice of a president; when,
Upon motion, The hon. Peyton Randolph was unanimously chosen president.
After the president was seated,
Mr. Charles Thomson was unanimously chosen secretary.
Andrew M'Neare was also chosen door-keeper, and William Shed; messenger.
Jlgreed, That the rev. Mr. Duche be requested to open the Congress with prayers to-morrow morning; and that Mr. Willing, Mr. Sullivan, and Mr. Bland, be a committee to wait on Mr. Duche, and acquaint him with the request of the Congress.
Adjourned till to-morrow, at 11 o'clock.
THURSDAY, May 11, 1775, A. M.
Agreeable to the order of yesterday, the Congress was opened with prayers, by the rev. Mr. Duche. After prayers, the Congress, according to adjournment, proceeded to business.
The delegates from the several colonies, produced their respective credentials, which were read and approved, as follows:
NEW-HAMPSHIRE. At the convention of deputies, appointed by the several towns in the province aforesaid, held at Exeter, on the 25th day of January, 1775, The hon. John Wentworth, esq. in the chair. Voted, That John Sullivan and John Langdon, esqrs. be delegated to represent this province, in the Continental Congress, proposed to be held at Philadelphia, on the tenth day of May next, and that they and each of them, in the absence of the other, have full and ample power, in behalf of this province, to consent and agree to all measures, which said Congress shall deem necessary, to obtain redress of American grievances. True copy attested,
MASHECK WEARE, Clerk to the Convention.
Province Of The Massachusetts-bat, In Provincial Congress, Cambridge,
Dec. 5, 1774. Resolved, That the proceedings of the American Continental Congress, held at Philadelphia, on the 5th day of September last, and reported by the honorable delegates from this colony, have, with the deliberation due to their high importance, been considered by us; and the American bill of rights, therein contained, appears to be formed with the greatest ability and judgment, to be founded on the immutable laws of nature and reason, the principles of the