« PreviousContinue »
This address manifests so clearly the then real temper of a colony which took a very active part in the contest with the mother country, that it cannot be entirely unacceptable to the reader.
"To the king's most excellent majesty: "The humble address of his dutiful and loyal subjects of the house of burgesses of his majesty's ancient colony of Virginia met in general assembly. "May it please your majesty, "We your majesty's most loyal, dutiful, and affectionate subjects, the house of burgesses of this your majesty's ancient colony of Virginia, now met in general assembly, beg leave, in the humblest manner, to assure your majesty, that your faithful subjects of this colony, ever distinguished by their loyalty and firm attachment to your majesty, and your royal ancestors, far from countenancing traitors, treasons, or misprisions of treasons, are ready at any time, to sacrifice our lives and fortunes in defence of your majesty's sacred person and government.
"It is with the deepest concern and most heartfelt grief, that your majesty's dutiful subjects of this colony find that their loyalty hath been traduced, and that those measures, which a just regard for the British constitution (dearer to them than life) made necessary duties, have been represented as rebellious attacks upon your majesty's government.
"When we consider that by the established laws and constitution of this colony, the most ample provision is made for apprehending and punishing all those who shall dare to engage in any treasonable practices against your majesty, or disturb the tranquillity of government,. we cannot without horror think of the new, unusual, and, permit us, with all humility, to add, unconstitutional, and illegal mode recommended to your majesty, of seizing and carrying beyond sea the inhabitants of America suspected of any crime, and of trying such persons in any other manner than by the ancient and long established course of proceeding; for how truly deplorable must be the case of a wretched American, who, having incurred the displeasure of any one in power, is dragged from his native home, and his dearest domestic connexions, thrown into a prison, not to await his trial before a court, jury, or judges, from a knowledge of whom he is encouraged to hope for speedy justice; but to exchange his imprisonment in his own country, for fetters among strangers: conveyed to a distant land where no friend, no relation, will alleviate his distresses, or minister to his necessities, and where no witness can be found to testify his innocence; shunned by the reputable and honest, and consigned to the society and converse of the wretched and the abandoned, he can only pray that he may soon end his misery with his life.
Truly alarmed at the fatal tendency of these pernicious counsels, and with hearts filled with anguish by such dangerous invasions of our dearest privileges, we presume to prostrate ourselves at the foot of your royal throne, beseeching your majesty, as our king and father, to avert from your faithful and loyal subjects of America, those miseries which must necessarily be the consequence of such measures.
After expressing our firm confidence of your royal wisdom and goodness, permit us to assure your majesty, that the most fervent prayers of your people of this colony are daily addressed to the Almighty, that your majesty's reign maybe long and prosperous overGreat Britain, and all your dominions; and that after death, your majesty may taste the fullest fruition of eternal bliss, and that a descendant of your illustrious house may reign over the extended British empire until time shall be no more."
Vide Virginia Cazttte, May 18, 1MB.
The following arc the resolutions alluded to. "The genera! assembly of this his majesty's colony of Massachussetts Bay, convened by his majesty's authority, by virtue of his writ issued by his excellency the governor, under the great seal of the province, and this house thinking it their duty, at all times, to testify their loyalty to his majesty, as well as their regard to the rights, liberties, and privileges of themselves and their constituents, do pass the following resolutions, to be entered on the records of the house:
"Resolved, that this house do, and ever will, bear the firmest allegiance to our rightful sovereign king George III. and are ever ready, with their lives and fortunes, to .defend his majesty's person, family, crown and dignity.
"Resolved, that this house do concur in, and adhere to, the resolutions of the house of representatives in the year 1765, and particularly in that essential principle, that no man can be taxed, or bound in conscience to obey any law, to which he has not given his consent, in person, or by his representative.
"Resolved, as the opinion of this house, that it is the indubitable right of the subject in general, and, consequently, of the colonies, jointly or severally, to petition the king for redress of grievances; and that it is lawful, whenever they think it expedient, to confer with each other, in order to procure a joint concurrence, in dutiful addresses for relief from their common burdens.
"Resolved, that governor Bernard, in wantonly dissolving the last year's assembly, and in refusing to call another, though repeatedly requested by the people, acted against the spirit of a free constitution; and if such procedure be lawful, it may be in his power, whenever he pleases, to make himself absolute.
Resolved, that at a time when there was a general discontent, on account of the revenue acts, an expectation of the sudden arrival of a military power to enforce the execution of those acts, a dread of the troops being quartered upon the inhabitants, when our petitions were not permitted to reach the royal ear, the general court at such a juncture dissolved, and the governor's refusing to call a new one, and the people thereby reduced to almost a state of despair, at such a time it was innocent, if not highly expedient and necessary, for the people to convene by their committees, in order to associate, consult, and advise the best means to promote peace and order, and by all lawful ways to endeavour to have their united complaints laid before the throne, and jointly to pray for the royal interposition, in favour of our violated rights; nor can this procedure possibly be conceived to be illegal, as they expressly disclaimed all governmental acts.
"Resolved, as the opinion of this house, that governor Bernard, in his letters to lord Hillsborough, his majesty's secretary of state, has given a false and highly injurious representation of the conduct of his majesty's truly loyal and faithful council of this colony, and of the magistrates, overseers of the poor, and inhabitants of the town of Boston, tending to bring on these respectable bodies, and especially on some individuals, the unmerited displeasure of our gracious sovereign, to introduce a military government into the province, and to mislead both houses of parliament into such severe resolutions, as a true, just, and candid state of facts must have prevented.
Resolved, that governor Bernard, in the letters beforementioned, by falsely representing that it was become "necessary the king should have the council chamber in his own hands, and should be enabled by parliament to supersede, by order in his privy council, commissions granted in his name, and under his seal throughout the colonies," has discovered his enmity to the true spirit of the British constitution, and to the liberties of the colonies, and particularly has meditated a blow at the root of some of the most invaluable constitutional and charter rights of this province; the perfidy of which, at the very time he was professing himself a warm friend to the charter, is altogether unparalleled by any person in his station, and ought never to be forgotten.
Resolved, that the establishing a standing army in this colony, in a time of peace, without the consent of the general assembly of the same, is an invasion of the natural rights of the people, as well as those which they claim as free born Englishmen, and which are confirmed by magna charta, and the bill of rights, as settled at the revolution, and by the charter of this province.
Resolved, that a standing army is not known as a part of the British constitution, in any of the king's dominions; and every attempt to establish it as such, has ever been deemed a dangerous innovation, and manifestly tending to enslave the people.
Resolved, that the sending an armed force into this colony, under a pretence of aiding and assisting the civil authority, is an endeavour to establish a standing army here without our consent, and highly dangerous to this people, is unprecedented and unconstitutional. His excellency general Gage, in his letter to lord Hillsborough, October 31st, having, among other exceptionable things, expressed himself in the following words: "From what has been said, your lordship will conclude, that there has been no government in Boston; in truth, there is very little at present, and the constitution of this province leans so much to the side of democracy, that the governor has not the power to remedy the disorders that happen in it."
Resolved, as the opinion of this house, that his excellency general Gage, in this and other assertions, has rashly and impertinently intermeddled in the civil affairs of this province, which are altogether out of his department; and in the internal police of which, by his letter, if not altogether his own, he has yet betrayed a degree of ignorance equal to the malice of the author.
With respect to the nature of our government, this house is of opinion that the wisdom of that great prince,