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in any mode of contest where regard should be had to truth, law, or right, have at length, deserting those, attempted to effect their cruel and impolitic purpose of enslaving these colonies by violence, and have thereby rendered it necessary for us to close with their last appeal from reason to arms. Yet, however blinded that assembly may be, by their intemperate rage for unlimited domination, so as to slight justice and the opinion of mankind, we esteem ourselves bound, by obligations of respect to the rest of the world, to make known the justice of our cause.
Our forefathers, inhabitants of the island of Great-Britain, left their native land, to seek on these shores a residence for civil and religious freedom. At the expence of their blood, at the hazard of their fortunes, without the least charge to the country from which they removed, by unceasing labour and an unconquerable spirit, they effected settlements in the distant and inhospitable wilds of America, then filled with numerous and warlike nations of Barbarians. Societies or governments, vested with perfect legislatures, were formed under charters from the crown, and an harmonious intercourse was established between the colonies and the kingdom from which they derived their origin. The mutual benefits of this union became in a short time so extraordinary, as to excite aston: hm nt. It is universally confess d, that the amazing increase of the wealth, strength, and navagation of the realm, arose from this source; and the minister, who so wisely and successfully directed the measures of Great-Britain in the late war, publicly de
clared, that these colonies enabled her to triumph over her enemies.
Towards the conclusion of that war, it pleased our Sovereign to make a change in lus counsels.From that fatal moment the affairs of the British empire began to fall into confusion, and gradually sliding from the summit of glorious prosperity, to which they had been advanced by the virtues and abili ties of one man, are at length dis tracted by the convulsions that now shake it to its deepest foundations. The new ministry, finding the brave foes of Britain, though frequently defeated, yet still contend, ing, took up the unfortunate idea of granting them a hasty peace, and of then subduing her faithful friends.
These devoted colonies were judged to be in such a state, as to present victories without bloodshed, and all the easy emoluments of statutable plunder. The uninterrupted tenor of their peaceable and respectful behaviour, from the beginning of colonization; their dutiful, zealous, and useful services during the war, though so recently and amply acknowledged in the most honourable manner by his Majesty, by the late King, and by Parliament; could not save them from the meditated innovations. Parliament was influenced to adopt the pernicious project, and, assuming a new power over them, have, in the course of eleven years, given such decisive specimens of the spirit and consequences attending this power, as to leave no doubt concerning the effects of asquiescence under it. They have undertaken to give and grant our money without our consent, though we have ever exercised an exclusive right to
dispose of our own property. Statutes have been passed for extend ing the jurisdiction of courts of Admiralty and Vice-admiralty be yond their ancient limits, for depriving us of the accustomed and inestimable privilege of trial by jury, in cases affecting both life and property; for suspending the legislature of one of the colonies; for interdicting all commerce of another; and for altering fundamentally the form of government esta blished by charter, and secured by acts of its own legislature solemnly confirmed by the crown; for ex empting the murderers' of colonists from legal trial, and, in effect, from punishment; for erecting in a neighbouring province, acquired by the joint arms of Great-Britain and America, a despotism danger. ous for our very existence; and for quartering soldiers upon the colonists in time of profound peace, It has also been resolved in parlia ment, that colonists, charged with committing certain offences, shall be trausported to England to be tried.
But why should we enumerate our injuries in detail? By one statute it is declared, that Parliament can ́of right make laws to bind us in all cases whatever.' What is to defend us against so enormous, so unlimited a power? Not a single man of those who assume it is chosen by us, or is subject to our controul or influence; but, on the contrary, they are all of them exempt from the operation of such laws! and an American revenue, if not diverted from the ostensible purposes for which it is raised; would actually lighten their own burdens, in proportion as they increase ours. We saw the misery to which such
despotism would reduce us. We for ten years incessantly and ineffectually besieged the throne as supplicants; we reasoned, we remonstrated with parliament in the most mild and decent language. But administration, sensible that we should regard these oppressive measures as freemen ought to do, sent over, fleets and armies to enforce them, The indignation of the Americans was roused, it is true; but it was the indignation of a virtuous, loyal, and affectionate people. A congress of delegates from the united colonies was assembled at Philadelphia, on the 5th day of last September. We resolved again to offer an humble and dutiful petition to the King, and also addressed our fellow subjects of GreatBritain. We have pursued every temperate, every respectful measures we have even proceeded to break off our commercial intercourse with
our fellow subjects, as the last peaceable admonition, that our attach ment to no nation upon earth would supplant our attachment to liberty. This, we flatter ourselves, was the ultimate step of the controversy; but subsequent events have shewn how vain was this hope of finding mo, deration in our enemies,
Several theatening expressions against the colonies were inserted in his Majesty's speech. Our pe tition, though we were told it was a decent one, that his Majesty had been pleased to receive it graciously, and to promise laying it before his parliament, was huddled into both houses amongst a bundle of Ame rican papers, and there neglected, The Lords and Commons, in their address, in the month of February, said, that a rebellion at that time actually existed within the province [R] 2
of Massachusets-Bay; and that those concerned in it had been countenanced and encouraged by unlawful combinations and engagements, entered into by his Majesty's subjects in several of the other colonies! and therefore they besought his Majesty that he would take the most effectual measures to enforce due obedience to the laws and authority of the supreme legislature. Soon after, the commercial intercourse of whole colonies, with foreign countries and with each other, was cut off by an act of parliament; by another, several of them were intirely prohibited from the fisheries in the seas near their coasts on which they always depended for their sustenance! and large re-inforcements of ships and troops were immediarely sent over to General Gage,
raising in our own mode the pro scribed tribute. What terms more rigid and humiliating could have been dictated by remorseless victors to conquered enemies? In our circumstances, to accept them would be to deserve them.
Soon after the intelligence of these proceedings arrived on this continent, General Gage, who, in the course of the last year had taken possession of the town of Boston, in the province of Massachusett's Bay, and still occupied it as a gar rison, on the 19th day of April, sent out from that place a large detachment of his army, who made an unprovoked assault on the inhabitants of the said province, at the town of Lexington, as appears by the affidavits of a great number of persons, some of whom were offi cers and soldiers of that detachment; murdered eight of the in
Fruitless were all the intreaties, arguments and eloquence of an il-habitants, and wounded many lustrious band, of the most dis. tinguished peers and commoners, who nobly and strenuously asserted the justice of our cause, to stay or even to mitigate the heedless fury with which these accumulated and unexampled outrages were hurried on. Equally fruitless was the interference of the city of London, of Bristol, and many other respectable towns in our favour. Parliament adopted an insidious manœuvre, calculated to divide us, to establish a perpetual auction of taxation, where colonies should bid against colony, all of them uninformed what ransom should redeem their lives; and thus to extort from us at the point of the bayonet the unknown sums that should be sufficient to gratify; if possible to gratify, ministerial rapacity, with the miserable indulgence left to us of
others. From thence the troops proceeded in warlike array to the town of Concord where they set upon another party of the inhabi tants of the same province, killing several and wounding more, until compelled to retreat, by the country-people suddenly assembled to repel this cruel aggression. Hostilities thas commenced by the British troops, have been since prosecuted by them without regard to faith or reputation. The inhabitants of Boston being confined within that town by the General, their Governor; and having, in order to procure their dismission, entered into a treaty with him; it was stipulated that the said inhabitants, having deposited their arms with their own magistrates, should have liberty to depart, tak ing with them their other effects,
They accordingly delivered up their arms but, in open violation of honour, in defiance of the obliga tion of treaties which even savage nations esteem sacred, the Governor ordered the arms deposited as aforesaid, that they might be preserved for their owners, to be seized by a body of soldiers; detained the greatest part of the inhabitants in the town, and compelled the few who were permit ted to relire, to leave their most valuable effects behind.
By this perfidy wives are separated from their husbands, children from their parents, the aged and sick from their relations and friends, who wish to attend and comfort them; and those who have been used to live in plenty, and even elegance, are reduced to deplorable distress.
The General further emulating his Ministerial Masters, by a proclamation bearing date on the 12th day of June, after venting the grossest falshoods and calumnies against the good people of these colonies, proceeds to declare them all either by name or deseription, to be rebels and traitors, to supercede the course of the common law, and instead thereof to publish and order the use and exercise of the law martial.'His troops have butchered our countrymen; have wantonly burnt Charlestown, besides a considerable number of houses in other places; our ships and vessels are seized; the neces sary supplies of provisions are intercepted; and he is exerting his utmost power to spread destruction and devastation around him.
the people of that province and the Indians to fall upon us; and we have but too much reason to apprehend, that schemes have been formed to excite domestic enemies against us. In brief, a part of these colonies now feels, and all of them are sure of feeling, as far as the vengeance of administration. can inflict them, the complicated calamities of fire, sword, and fa mine.
We are reduced to the alternative of chusing an unconditional submission to the tyranny of irritated ministers, or resistance by force.
The latter is our choice.
We have counted the cost of this contest, and find nothing so dreadful as voluntary slavery. Honour justice, and humanity forbid tamely to surrender that freedom, which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them, if we basely intail hereditary bondage upon them.
Our cause is just: Our union is perfect: Our internal resources are great, and if necessary, foreign assistance is undoubtedly attainable. · We gratefully acknowledge, as signal instances of the divine fayour towards us, that his Providence would not permit us to be called into this severe controversy, until we were grown up to our present strength, had been previously exercised in warlike operations, and. possesed of the means of defending ourselves.
With hearts fortified with these animating reflections, we most solemnly before God and the world declare, that, exerting the utmost energy of those [R] 3
powers which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have been compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabated firmness and perseverance, employ for the preservation of our liberties, being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather than to live slaves.
Lest this declaration should disquiet the minds of our friends and fellow subjects, in any part of the empire, we assure them, that we mean not to dissolve that union
With an humble confidence in the mercies of the supreme and impartial judge and ruler of the universe; we most devoutly implore his divine goodness to conduct us happily through this great conflict, to dispose our adversaries to reconciliation on reasonable terms, and thereby to relieve the empire from the calamities of civil war.
By order of the congress,
JOHN HANCOCK, President.
A Second Petition from the General Congress in America, to his Majesty.
which has so long and so happily
In our own native land, in de'fence of the freedom that is our birthright, and which we ever enjoyed till the late violation of it; for the protection of our property, acquired solely
dustry of our forefathers, and ourselves; against violence actually offered, we have takon up arms. We shall lay them down when ho stilities shall cease on the part of the aggressors, and all danger of their being renewed shall be removed, and not before.
THE following is a true copy of the Petition from the General, Congress in America, to his Majesty, which we delivered to Lord Dartmouth, the first of this month, and to which, his Lordship said, no answer would be given.
To the King's most excellent Majesty,
your Majesty's faithful
New Hampshire, Massachusett'sBay, Rhode Island, and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the counties of New-Castle, Kent and Sussex in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North and South Caro lina, in behalf of ourselves and the inhabitants