« PrécédentContinuer »
met at Philadelphia, May 20th, tion with Great-Britain, the set
II. The united colonies hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, binding on themselves and their posterity, for their common defence against their enemies, for the security of their liberties and properties, the safety of their persons and families, and their mutual and general welfare.
III. That each colony shall enjoy and retain as much as it may think fit of its own present laws, customs, rights, privileges, and peculiar jurisdictions, within its own limits; and may amend its own constitution, as shall seem best to its own assembly or convention.
IV. That, for the more convenient management of general in terests, delegates shall be elected annually, in each colony, to meet in General Congress, at such time and place as shall be agreed on in the next preceding Congress. Only where particular circumstances do not make a deviation necessary, it is understood to be a rule, that each succeeding Congress is to be held in a different colony, till the whole number be gone through, and so in perpetual rotation; and that, accordingly, the next Congress after the present shall be held at Annapolis, in Maryland.
V. That the power and duty of the Congress shall extend to the determining on war and peace, the entering into alliances, the reconcilia
tling all disputes between colony and colony, if any should arise, and the planting new colonies where proper. The Congress shall also make such general ordinances, thought necessary to the general welfare, of which particular assemblies cannot be competent, viz. those that may relate to our general commerce or general currency, to the establishment of posts, the regu lation of our common forces; the Congress shall also have the appointment of all officers civil and military, appertaining to the general confede racy, such as general treasurer, secretary, &c. &c. &c.
VI. All charges of war, and all other general expences to be incurred for the common welfare, sha!! be defrayed out of a common treasury, which is to be supplied by each colony, in proportion to its number of male polls between 15 and 60 years of age; the taxes for paying that proportion are to be laid and levied by the laws of each colony.
VII. The number of delegates to be elected, and sent to the Congress by each colony, shall be regulated from time to time, by the number of such polls returned; so as that one delegate be allowed for every 5000 polls. And the delegates are to bring with them to every Congress an authenticated return of the number of polls in their respective colonies, which is to be taken for the purposes above-mentioned.
VIII. At every meeting of the Congress, one half of the members returned, exclusive of proxies, shall be necessary to make a quorum ; and each delegate at the Congress shall have a vote in all cases; and, if necessarily absent, shall be al
lowed to appoint any other delegate from the same colony to be his proxy, who may vote for him.
IX. An executive council shall be appointed by the Congress out of their own body, consisting of 12 persons, of whom in the first ap-, pointment, one' third, viz. four, shall be for one year, four for two years, and four for three years; and, as the said terms expire, the vacancies shall be filled up by appointments for three years, whereby one third of the members will be chosen annually; and each person who has served the same term of three years as counsellor, shall have a respite of three years, before he can be elected again. This council, of whom two-thirds shall be a quorum, in the recess of the Congress, is to execute what shall have been injoined thereby; to manage the general continental business and interests, to receive applications from foreign countries, to prepare matters for the consideration of the Congress, to fill up, pro tempore, continental offices that fall vacant, and to draw on the general treasurer for such monies as may be necessary for general services, and appropriated by the Congress to such services.
X. No colony shall engage in an offensive war with any nation of Indians without the consent of the Congress or great council abovementioned, who are first to consider the justice and necessity of such
XI. A perpetual alliance, offensive and defensive, is to be entered into, as soon as may be, with the Six Nations; their limits ascertained, and to be secured to them; their lands not to be incroached on, nor any private or colony purchase
to be made of them hereafter to be held good, nor any contract for lands to be måde, but between the great council of the Indians at Onondega and the general Congress. The boundaries and lands of all the other Indians shall also be ascertained and secured to them in the same manner; and persons appointed to reside among them in proper districts, who shall take care. to prevent injustice in the trade with them; and be enabled at our general expence, by occasional small supplies, to relieve their personal wants and distresses; and all purchases from them shall be by the Congress, for the general advantage and benefit of the united colonies.
XII. As all new institutions may have imperfections, which only time and experience can discover, it is agreed that the General Congress, from time to time, shall propose such amendments of this constitution as may be found necessary, which being approved by a majority of the colony assemblies, shall be equally binding with the rest of the articles of this confederation.
XIII. Any and every colony from Great-Britain upon the continent of North-America, not at present engaged in our association, may, upon application, and joining the said association, be received into the confederation, viz. Quebec, St. John's, Nova-Scotia, Bermudas, and the East and West Floridas, and shall thereupon be entitled to all the advantages of our union, mutual assistance, and commerce.
These articles shall be proposed to the several provincial conven-, tions or assemblies, to be by them considered; and, if approved, they are advised to impower their delegates to agree and ratify the same
In the ensuing Congress; after which the union thereby established is to continue firm, till the terms of reconciliation proposed in the petition of the last Congress to the King are agreed to; till the acts, since made, restraining the American commerce and fisheries, are repealed; till reparation is made for the injury done to Boston by shutting up its port for burning Charlestown, and for the expence of this unjust war; and till all the British troops are withdrawn from America. On the arrival of these events, the colonies are to return to their former connections and friendship with Great-Britain; but, on failure
thereof, this confederation is to be perpetual.
WHEREAS, it hath pleased God
to bless these countries with a
most plentiful harvest, whereby much corn and other provisions can be spared to foreign nations who may want the same: Resolved, That after the expiration of six months, from the 20th of July instant, being the day appointed by a late act of parliament of Great-Britain, for restraining the trade of the confederate colonies, all custom-houses therein (if the said act be not first repealed) shall be shut up, and all the officers of the same discharged from the execution of their several functions; and all the ports of the said colonies are hereby declared to be thenceforth open to the ships of every state in Europe that will admit our commerce, and protect it, who may bring in and expose to sale, free of all duties, their respective produce and manufactures, and every kind of merchandize, excepting teas, and the merchandize of Great-Britain,
his government, as well as a firm opposition whenever their rights have been invaded.
Your American subjects, Royal Sire, descended from the same an cestors with ourselves, appear equal ly jealous of the prerogatives of freemen, without which they can not deem themselves happy.
Their chearful and unasked for contributions, as well as willing services to the mother country, whilst they remained free from the clog of compulsory laws, will, we are sure, plead powerfully with the humanity of your disposition, for graciously granting them every reasonable opportunity of giving, as freemen, what they seem resolutely determined to refuse under the injunction of laws made independent of their own consent.
The abhorrence we entertain of
civil bloodshed and confusion will, we trust, Sire, if not wholly exculpate us in your royal mind, yet plead powerfully in our favour, for the warmth with which we lament those measures, whose destructive principles have driven our American brethren to acts of desperation.
Convinced of the earnest disposition of the colonists to remain firm in all duteous obedience to the constitutional authority of this kingdom, permit us most gracious so vereign, to beseech you that those operations of force, which at present distract them with the most dreadful apprehensions, may be suspended; and that, uncontrouled by a restraint incompatible with a free government, they may possess an opportunity of tendering such terms of accommodation, as, we doubt not, will approve them worthy of a distinguished rank among
the firmest friends of this couns
Signed by order of court,
To which address and petition his Majesty was pleased to return the following answer:
"I AM always ready to listen to the dutiful petitions of my sub jects, and ever happy to comply with their reasonable requests; but, while the constitutional authority of this kingdom is openly resisted by a part of my American subjects, I owe it to the rest of my people, of whose geal and fidelity I have had such constant proofs, to continue and enforce those measures by which alone their rights and interests can be asserted and maintained."
His Majesty's most gracious Speech to both Houses of Parliament, Friday, May 26, 1775.
"My Lords and Gentlemen,
Cannot, in justice to you, for bear to express my intire sath faction in your conduct, during the course of this important session.
You have maintained with a firm and steady resolution, the rights of my crown, and the authority of parliament, which I shall ever consider as inseparable; you have pro tected and promoted the commercial interests of my kingdoms, and you have, at the same time, given convincing proofs of your readiness (as far as the constitution will allow you) to gratify the wishes, and remove the apprehensions, of my subjects in America; and I am per suaded, that the most salutary ef
fects must, in the end, result from measures formed and conducted on such principles.
The late mark of your affectionate attachment to me, and to the Queen, and the zeal and unanimity which accompanied it, demand my particular thanks.
I have the satisfaction to acquaint you, that, as well from the general dispositions of other powers, as from the solemn assurances which I have received, I have great reason to expect the continuance of peace : nothing on my part, consistent with the maintenance of the honour and interest of my kingdoms, shall be wanting to secure the public tranquillity.
Gentlemen of the House of
It gives me much concern, that the unhappy disturbances in some of my colonies have obliged me to propose to you an augmentation of my army, and have prevented me from compleating the intended reduction of the establishment of my naval forces. I cannot sufficiently thank you for the ehearfulness and public spirit with which you have granted the supplies for the several services of the current year.
My Lords and Gentlemen,
It is his Majesty's royal will and pleasure, that this Parliament be prorogued to Thursday the twentyseventh day of July next, to be then here held; and this Parliament is accordingly prorogued to Thursday the 27th day of July next.
A Declaration by the Representatives of the United Colonies of NorthAmerica, now met in General Congress at Philadelphia, setting forth the Curses and Necessity of their taking up Arms.
it was for men, who
exercise their reason, to believe that the Divine Author of our existence intended a part of the human race to hold an absoluté property in, and an unbounded power over others, marked out by his infinite goodness and wisdom, as the objects of a legal domination, never rightly resistable, however severe and oppressive; the inhabitants of these colonies might at least require from the Parliament of Great Britain some evidence, that this dreadful authority over them has been granted to that body. a reverence for our Great Creator, principles of humanity, and the dictates of common sense, must convince all those who reflect upon the subject, that government was instituted to promote the welfare of mankind, and ought to be adıninistered for the attainment of that
My Lords and Gentlemen, I have nothing to desire of you but to use your best endeavours to preserve and to cultivate, in your several counties, the same regard for public order, and the same discernment of their true interests, which have in these times distinguished the character of my faith-end. ful and beloved people; and the continuance of which cannot fail to render them happy at home, and respected abroad.'
Then the Lord Chancellor, by his Majesty's command, said, VOL. XVIII. 1775.
The legislature of GreatBritain, however stimulated by an inordinate passion for a power not only unjustifiable, but which they know to be peculiarly reprobated by the very constitution of that kingdom, and desperate of success [R]