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CHAP. III. The resources which the subjugation of 1774. America would place in the hands of the crown
are then expatiated on, and the address proceeds, “we believe there is yet much virtue, much justice, and much public spirit in the English nation. To that justice we now appeal. You have been told that we are seditious, impatient of government, and desirous of independency. Be assured that these are not facts, but calumnies. Permit us to be as free as yourselves, and we shall ever esteem a union with you to be our greatest glory, and our greatest happiness.... We shall ever be ready to contribute all in our power to the welfare of the empire....we shall consider your enemies as our enemies, and your interest as our own.
“But if you are determined that your ministers shall wantonly sport with the rights of mankind....if neither the voice of justice, the dictates of the law, the principles of the constitution, nor the suggestions of humanity, can restrain your hands from shedding human blood in such an impious cause; we must then tell you that we will never submit to be hewers of wood or drawers of water for any ministry or nation in the world. .“ Place us in the same situation that we were at the close of the last war, and our former harmony will be restored.” * .
* The committee which prepared this eloquent and manly address, were mr. Lee, mr. Livingston and mr. Jay. The composition has been generally attributed to mr. Jay.
The petition to the king states succinctly the CHAP. III. grievances complained of and then proceeds. 1774.
“Had our creator been pleased to give us existence in a land of slavery, the sense of our condition might have been mitigated by igno. rance 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 apprehensions 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 for 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, VOL. II.
CHAP. III. in the manner we do, silence would be disloy
alty. By giving this faithful information, we do all in our power to promote the great objects 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 intreat your royal attention; and as your majesty enjoys the signal distinction of reigning over freemen, we apprehend the language of freemen cannot be displeasing. 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, have 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 char.I. government, and the defence, protection and 1774. security of the colonies.” , After assuring his majesty of the untruth of these allegations, they say, “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 honourable to the prince that receives them, and to the people who give them, ever to resign it to any body of men upon earth.
“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.”
After re-stating in a very affecting manner the most essential grievances of which they complain, and professing that their future conduct, if their apprehensions should be removed, would prove them not unworthy of the regard they had been accustomed, in their happier days, to enjoy; for, appealing to that being who searches thoroughly the hearts of his creatures, they solemnly profess, that their councils have been influenced by no other motive than a dread of impending destruction; they add,
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CHAP. III. “ Permit us, then, most gracious sovereign, 1774. in the name of all your faithful people in Ame
rica, with the utmost humility to implore you, for the honour of Almighty God, whose pure religion our enemies are undermining; for your glory which can be advanced only by rendering your subjects happy, and keeping 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 kingdom 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, faith, and blood, though dwelling in various countries, will not suffer the transcendent relation, formed by these ties, to be further violated, in uncertain expectation of effects that, if attained, never can compensate for the calamities, through which they must be gained."'*
The address to their constituents is replete with serious and temperate argument. In this paper, the several causes which had led to the existing state of things, were detailed more at large, and much labour was used thoroughly to convince their judgments, that their liberties
* The committee which brought in this admirably well drawn, and truly conciliatory address, were mr. Lee, mr. John Adams, mr. Johnston, mr. Henry, and mr. Rutledge. The original composition has been generally attributed to mr. Lee.