Page images

tights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abo, lLsh it, and to institute a new government laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate, that govern'ments long established, should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is theirduty, to throwoff such government, andto provide new guards for their future security. Such has been the patient sufferance of these colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former systems of government. ....The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over these States. To prove this, let facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his assent to laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation, till his assent should be obtained; and, when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other laws, for the accommodation of large districtsof people, unless those people would relinquish the right of representation in thc Legislature.... a right inestimable to them, and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies, at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing, with manly firmness, his iavasions on the iijhts •f the People.

He has refused, for a long time after such dissolutions/ to cause others to be elected i whereby the legislative powers, incapable of annihilation, have returned to the people at large, for their exercise; the State remaining, in theiru-an time, exposed to all the danger of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the laws for naturalization of foreigners; refusing to pass others, to encourage their migration hither, and raising the conditions of new appropriations of lands.

He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws, for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers, to harass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, standing armies, without the consent of Out legislatures.

He has affected to render the militaryl independent of, and superior to, the civil power.

He has combined with others, to subject us to a jurisdiction, foreign to our Constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his assent to their acts of pretended legislation.. r .. . : .' .

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us.' . .. . ). ,e'.. :.' ,'

For protecting them, by a mock trial, from punishment for any murders which they should commit on the inhabitants of these States .; . .;

For cutting off our trade with all parts of. the world For imposing taxes on us without our consent

For depriving us, in many cases, of the benefits of trial by jury .' .

For transporting us beyond seas, to be tried for pretended offences i

For abolishing the free system of English laws in a neighbouring province, establishing therein an arbitrary government, and enlarging its boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument, for introducing the same absolute rule into these colonies :....

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally tjge forms ofour governments.

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves investcjkwith power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated government here, by declaring us out of his protection, and waging war against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the iiyqs of our people.

He is, at this time, transporting large armies of foreign mercenaries to complete the works of death, desolation and tylranny, already begun, with circumstances of cruelty and perfidy, scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow citizens, taken captive on the high seas, to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hand*.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless, Indian savages, whose known rule of warfare is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes, and conditions.

In every stage of these oppressions, we have petitioned for redress, in the most humble terms; our repeated petitions havebeen answered only by repeated, injury.. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which .may define a tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a Free People. .''t;« i ,: - ii

Nor have we been wantingi in . attention to our British brethren. We have warned them, from time to time, of attempts made by their Legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, anil we have conjured them, by the ties of our common kindred, to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They, too, have been deaf to the voice of jusiice and consanguj

nity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity which denounces our separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind....enemies in peace, friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, Do, in the name and by the authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly declare, that these United Colonies are, and, of right, ought to be Free and Independent States :....that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connexion, between them and the State of Great Britain, is, and ought to be totally dissolved; and that, as Free and Independent States, they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honour."

Previous to this, a circular letter had been sent through each colony, stating the reasons for it: and such was the animosity now every where prevailing against Great Britain, that it met with general approbation, except in the province of Maryland alone. It was not long, however, before the people of that colony, finding themselves left in a very dangerous minority, thought proper to accede to the measures of the rest.

The manifesto itself, was ii> the usual nervous style, stating a long list of grievances, for a redress of which they had often applied, but in vain; for these reasons they determined on a final separation; and to hold the people of Great Britain as well as the rest of mankind, " enemies in war, in peace friends.**

After thus publicly throwing off all allegiance and hope -of reconciliation, the colonists soon found that an exertion of all their strength would be necessary to support their pretensions. Their arms hadnot been successfulin Canada. Reinforcements had been promised to general Arnold, who still continuedto blockade Quebec; but they did not arrive in time to second his operations. But being sensible that he must either desist from the entei prize, or finish

it successfully, he recommenced his operations in form, and attempted to destroy the shipping,' and hum the town. They succeeded so far as to burn a number of houses in the suburbs, and the garrison were obliged to pull down the remainder, in order to prevent the fire from spreading. Notwithstanding the provincials were unable to reduce the town, they kept the garrison in continual alarms, and in a very disagreeable sitmition.

Some of the nobility collected in a body under the command of one gentleman whose name was Beaujeau, in order to relieve their capital; but they were met on their march by the provincials and defeated. The Americans, had but little reason to plume themselves upon this success. Their want of artillery convinced them that it was impracticable in their situation to reduce a town so strongly fortified; the small-pox at the same time made its appearance in their camp, and carried off great numbers; intimidating the rest to such a degree, that they deserted in crowds. To add to their misfortunes, the British reinforcements unexpectedly appeared, and the ships made their way with such surprizing celerity through the ice, that the one part of the army was separated from the other, and general Carltton sallying, out, as soon as the reinforcement was landed, obliged them to fly with the utmost precipitation, leaving behind them all their cannon, and military stores; at the same time that their shipping was captured by vessels sent up the river for that purpose.

On this occasion, the provincials fled with such haste, that they could not be overtaken; so that none fell into the hands of the British, excepting the sick and the wounded. General Carleton now gave an instance of his humanity: being well apprised that many of the provincials had not been able to accompany the rest in their retreat; and, that they were concealed in the woods, &c. in a very deplorable situation, he generously issued a proclamation, ordering proper persons to seek them out, and give them relief at the public expense; and at the same time, lest through fear of their being made prisoners, they should refuse these offers of humanity, he promised, that as soon as their situation enabled them, they should be at liberty to depart to their respective homes, vot,. It. B si

« PreviousContinue »