« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
By his Majefly, in the firft charge, is meant-not his Majefty, but--one of his Majesty's Governors. He, it feems, excited domiftic infurrections among them-Be it fo-But who are meant by them? Men in rebellion; men who had excited, and were continuing to excite, civil infurrections against his Majefty's government; men who had excited, and were continuing to excite, one fet of citizens to pillage the effects, burn the houses, torture the perfons, cut the throats of another fet of citizens.
But how did his Majesty's Governors excite domestic infurrec tions? Did they fet father against fon, or fon against father, or brother against brother? No-they offered freedom to the flaves of these affertors of liberty. Were it not true, that the charge was fully juftified by the neceflity, to which the rebellious proceedings of the Complainants had reduced the Governor, yet with what face cah they urge this as a proof of tyranny? Is it for them to say, that it is tyranny to bid a flave be free? to bid him take courage, to rife and aflift in reducing his tyrants to a due obedience to law to hold out as a motive to him, that the load which crushed his limbs fhall be lightened; that the whip which harrowed up his back fhall be broken, that he fhall be raised to the rank of a freeman and a citizen It is their boat that they have taken up arms in fupport of thefe their own self evident truths-" that all men are equal"—" that all men are endowed with the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Is it for them to complain of the offer of freedom held out to thefe wretched beings? of the offer of reinftating them in that equality, which, in this very paper, is declared to be the gift of God to all; in thofe unalienable rights, with which, in this very paper, God is declared to have endered all mankind?
With refpect to the other measure, the attempt-and it has been more than an attempt-to engage the Indians against them-Were it neceffary, I thould be bold enough to avow-what, I believe, has already been faid by fome one upon this fubject-" That fince force
is become neceffary to fupport the authority of Parliament, that "force which is molt eafly to be procured, and most likely to be effective, is the force which ought to be employed." I should be bold enough to avow, that to me it would make little difference," whether
the inftrument be a German or a Calmuck, a Ruffian or a Mo"hawk."
Should the force of prejudice be too ftrong to yield to this defence, were it neceflary we might have recourfe to another confideration. We might urge, that after all, we are only letting loofe on them an enemy whom we had hitherto reftrained; an enemy from whom, but by our protection, they would never have been delivered; an enemy whom, in their defence, we oft times have encountered.
On thefe grounds we might, I think, fafely reft the defence of the fecond charge contained in this Article. But the truth is, we are not compelled to defend it on this ground. How merciless foever the Indian Savages may be, how deftructive foever be their known rule of warfare, it is the height of infolence in the Congrefs to complain that they are invited to join us: it is the baseft hypocrify
to impute it to his Majefty, as a voluntary act of feveri y-becauseand this reafon, I think, admits of no reply-the Congress were the firft to engage the Indians in this difpute.
The Congrefs knows this affertion to be true. It was not till the affair of Cedres, that is, till the year 1776, that any Indians appeared on the fide of Government. It was early in the year 1775, that the Rebels furprised Ticonderoga; made incurfions and com mitted hoftilities in the frontiers of his Majesty's province of Quebec; a province at that time in peace. Now the Members of the Congress cannot deny that then, at that very time, they had not barely engaged, but had brought down as many Indians as they could collect against his Majesty's troops in New England, and the northern pro
Nor were they lefs induftrious or lefs tardy in bringing down the Indians into the fouthern Colonies; for at the fame time, namely, early in the year 1775, the Committee of Carolina deputed fix perfons to treat with the Creek and Cherokee Indians. Were it neceffary I could name them. Sir James Wright, Governor of Georgia, and Mr. Stuart, Superintendent for his Majesty in the Cherokee nation, had been driven, the one from his ufual place of refidence, the other out of the province. One perfon ftill remained, Mr. Cameron, the Deputy-fuperintendent in the Cherokee nation? he was in their way; his prefence impeded the treaty they wished to form with the Cherokees; obftructed measures which, imputed to his Majefty, they call the height of cruelty, but adopted by theirfelves, become only, in their own language, means of defence." He therefore was confidered as an object that was at any rate to be removed. The Deputies of the Committee requested, or, as their felves explained it, "commanded," him to retire. He not obeying their orders, one of the Deputies, accompanied by two Independent preachers *, after having gone through the interior and back parts of Carolina and Georgia, on the pious miffion of haranguing and inciting the people to rebellion, difpatched an emiffary to give and receive Talks from the Indians, and to endeavour to bring them down upon his Majefty's troops; and as Mr. Cameron was ftill in their way, their emiffary was directed to raise the Indians and feize him; and if that could not be done, to offer a confiderable reward to any individual that would privately fhoot him from behind a bush, and then efcape into the Settlements.
Early in the beginning of the prefent year, an attempt was made on Tybee Island, where the Rebels expected to find the Governor of Georgia, with feveral officers and gentlemen. Happily they were not there. Had they been there, we may judge of the treatment they would have received by that which was actually inflicted on fome mariners and a fhip-carpenter, whom the Rebels did furprise there. One of them was killed; three mortally wounded. The firit died, not of the wounds he received in the attack, but under the cruel torture of the SCALPING knife. So far were thefe troops of the Congrefs from being averfe to employ Indians, that they not only brought
Their names are Hart and Tenant: fuch pious paftors should be known.'
A 2 3
Indians with them, but determined, as we fee, to adopt their known rule of warfare; the whole party of Rebels were dressed and painted like Indians.
Yet these men can, without a blufh, impute it to the King as a voluntary act of feverity, that his Majefty has engaged the Indians.' ARTICLE XXVIII.
"In every ftae of thefe oppreffions we have petitioned for redress in the moit humble terms; our repeated petitions have been answered only by repeated injury."
Very different are the ideas which feem to be attached to the fame terms on this fide of the Atlantic and on the other. Here Acts of Parliament are Acts of the Legislature, acknowledged to be fupreme; there Acts only of pretended legislation, of unacknowledged individuals. Here treafon is an offence of the most atrocious nature; there only a pretended offence. Here to deny the authority of Parliament is the utmoft height of audacity; there it is the lowest pitch of humility. • This diftinction it was neceffary to make, before we could come at the meaning of this article. The reader might otherwise have imagined, that in the refolutions of the American Affemblies, in their addreffes to the good people of England, in their Petitions to the King or the Parliament, the authority of Parliament, and their own just and conftitutional fubordination to it, had been recognised, and the undisputed prerogative of the Crown allowed; that specific demands of what would fatisfy them had been made, and fpecific offers of what they would do had been tendered. It might otherwise require more than common difcernment to find out the bumility of their Petitions: what they call a Petition for Redress, would still pafs in the eyes of men of common understanding for a claim of independence.
To go through the proceedings of all their Affemblies, to cite all their Refolutions, Addreffes, and Petitions, would be to the reader, as well as to the writer, unspeakably irk fome. Let us then begin by the proceedings of that Congrefs which fat in feventy four. At that time hoftilities were not begun, at leaft on the part of the Crown. So far from it, that the Congrefs expreffed its furprise at the fteps, which the appearance of hoftility on the part of the Provincials compelled the Commander of his Majefty's forces to take, for the purpofe, not of attacking them, but fecuring his own troops from being attacked. Befides, the profeffed object of that Congress, as their felves declare it, in a letter to General Gage, was "by the
purfuit of dutiful and peaceable measures, to procure a cordial
" and effectual reconciliation between Great Britain and the Colo"nies." If ever, it must be then, when they were assembled with this defign, that their language would be decent and humble, their propofals candid and explicit. If there we find no traces of humility or candour, it would be folly in the extreme to look for it thereafter. Now as well in the Refolves, as in the Addresses and Petitions of that Congrefs, the legislative power of Parliament, and the known prerogative of the Crown are declared to be grievances. Ila contradiction to what we have feen to be the conftant courfe of go
vernment, they deny the right of the Crown to ftation the troops in fuch part of the empire as in its wisdom it fhall fee fit; they deny the authority of Parliament to make any law, relating to their internal policy, or to taxation internal or external; points on which they claim the exclusive right of legislature to their own Affemblies. In all bumility they refolved, that the open refiftance fhewn to the legiflative power of Parliament, by the inhabitants of Bolton; that all the outrages by which that refiitance was manifefted and attendedfuch as deftroying the property of his Majefty's British fubjects, feizing his ftores, burning his magazines, torturing his officers, fhutting up the Courts of Juftice, were most thoroughly to be approved, ought to be fupported by the united efforts of North America, to be kept alive by contributions from all the Colonies *.
Thefe are the humble Petitions to which this article alludes. What return could by any Government be made to them, we may leave to any man to determine who knows what government is. But they pe titioned for redress. Their grievances we fee they ftate in very com. prehenfive terms; fo comprehenfive, as to take in every Act of Go. yernment. Were the offers of what they were ready to do more precife and explicit? What motives did they hold out to induce the King and Parliament to give up fo large a portion of an authority, hitherto undisputed? They very gravely affured his Majesty, that they had always been as fubmiffive and as dutiful as they ought to be; that they would hereafter be just as fubmiffive and as dutiful as they had been; that moreover in complying with their demands, he would obtain the inestimable advantage of what?" feeing all jealoufies " removed;"—that is-if he would take away every trace of their fubordination to his felf and Parliament, they would not complain of his authority; if neither he, nor his Parliament would exercife any power over them, they would not be jealous of his power or that of Parliament.
It is for malcontents, perfons who profefs their felves diffatisfied, to ftate precisely what it is with which they are diffatisfied; what it is that will content them; what it is to which they are willing to fubmit. They know it for certain, at least they ought to know it; is it not for them then to declare it, to declare their own feelings, what paffes in their own breafts? Or is Government, who does not know it, cannot know it, to torture itself to divine it?
" This was not done; and yet fo far was the British Government "from anfwering,"-as the Congrefs words it," their repeated Pe. "titions, by repeated injuries;" that it made the first advances, actually held out terms of accommodation. These terms were fubmitted to the confideration of the refpective Affemblies; and who would think it i-thefe Affemblies fo tremblingly alive to every the gentleft touch of their rights by the King or Parliament, declared without referve, and without a blush, that all their powers were abforbed by a body unknown to their laws,-by a Congrefs. To that Congrefs then which fate in 1775, they referred it to confider of the terms held out to them. By these humble Petitioners how were the terms received ?
See the printed Journal and proceedings of this Congrefs.'
The Parliament was declared to be "a body of men extraneous to their conftitution." The propofition held out by Parliament, was declared to be infidious and unreasonable;" the requifition to furnish any contribution, any aid, under the form of a tax, was declared to "be unjust." The "intermeddling," as it was refpe&fully called,— of the British Parliament, in their Provifions for the Support of the "civil government, or administration of justice," was declared to be contrary to right." The reafon for this laft affertion was added, and was fuch as concluded against the whole power of Parliament"That the provifions already made pleased their felves"."
Is this the language of fubjects humbly petitioning for redress? Of men, who profefs their felves members of one large empire, and fubordinate in any degree, to the fupreme controlling body of that empire or is it the language of one independent ftate to another?
Could any doubt arife in the mind of any candid man, whether independence had, or had not, been all along the determined object of the leading men in America, he would have only to perufe the printed proceedings of thefe two Affemblies, which fat under the title of Congreffes t.
In the firit, they profeffed to defire nothing more ardently, than that fome mode might be adopted of hearing and relieving their griefs, fome propofition held forth which might be a ground of reconciliation. Dreading, meanwhile, nothing fo much as the accomplishment of their pretended wishes, they throw into their Votes and Addreffes, and Petitions, terms expreffive of the highest contempt for the authority of Parliament, and of their firm refolution not to fubmit to the exercife of the undifputed prerogative of the Crown. They profeffed to afk only for " Life, Liberty, and Property." But when they came to explain their profefiions, it appeared, that by property they meant a total exemption from contributing any thing to the common burdens of the State; by liberty, a total manumithon from the authority of Parliament, the Crown, or the Law; an entire abolition of all the cuftoms of their ancestors, all the inftitutions of their forefathers.
When, notwithstanding the infolence of this language, and in contradiction to their expectations, a mode of treating was propofed, terms of reconciliation were offered by Parliament; the confideration of them was rejected by the refpective Provincial Affemblies le gally established, and by them referred to an affembly unacknow ledged by the laws; to the Congrefs.
To that Congrefs they were prefented at the very beginning of their Seffion. Instead of being taken up directly, as furely might have been expected, confidering the importance of the object, and the dignity of that auguft body from whom they originally came, they were laid afide; the Congrefs proceeded to vote a paper-currency, to feize the public revenues, to raife armies, to appoint offi
See the proceedings of the Congrefs in 1775-'
To their own account of the proceedings there, we may apply the words of Cicero, though in a different fenfe from that in which he ufed them, "Quicunque hunc librum legerit, nihil amplius erit, quod defideret."