Imágenes de páginas

power of Austria by memorable defeats, and con. in which the debates and disputes upon the quesquered a rank among nations. But the sun of tion of independence were many and vehement, America also shines upon the heads of the brave; Jobn Dickinson, one of the deputies of the pro. the point of our weapons is no less formidable than vince to the general congress, a man of prompt theirs; here also the same union prevails, the same genius, of extensive influence, and one of the most contempt of dangers and of death in asserting the zealous partizans of American liberty, restricted cause of country.

however to the condition of union with England, “Why then do we longer delay, wby still delib- harangued, it is said, in the following manner erate? Let this most happy day give birth to the against independence: American republic. Let her arise, not to devas "It too often happens, fellow citizens, that men, tate and conquer, but to re-establish the reign of heated by the spirit of party, give more importance peace and of the laws. The eyes of Europe are in their discourses, to the surface and appearance of fixed upon us! 'she demands of us a living example objects, than either to reason or justice; thus evinof freedom, that may contrast, by the felicity of cing that their aim is not to appease tumults, but to the citizens, with the ever increasing tyranny which excite them; not to repress the passions, but to indesolates her polluted shores. She invites us to fame them, not to compose ferocious discords, but prepare an asylum where the unbappy may find so. to exasperate and imbitter them more and more. lace, and the persecuted repose. She intreats us They aspire but to please the powerful, to gratify to cultivate a propitious soil, where that generous their own ambition, to flatter the caprices of the mul. plant, which first sprung up and grew in England, titude, in order to captivate their favour. Accord. but is now withered by the poisonous blasts of ingly in popular commotions, the party of wisdom Scottish tyranny, may revive and flourish, shelter, and of equity is commonly found in the minority; and, ing under its salubrious and interminable shade all perhaps, it would be safer, in difficult circumstances, the unfortunate of the human race. This is the to consult the smaller instead of the greater number. end presaged by so many omens, by our first vic-Upon this principle I invite the attention of those tories, by the present ardour and union, by the who hear me, since my opinion may differ from that: flight of Howe, and the pestilence which broke out of the majority; but I dare believe it will be shared amongst Dunmore's people, by the very winds by all impartial and moderate citizens, who con. which baffled the enemy's fleets and transports, and demn this tumultuous proceeding, this attempt to that terrible tempest which ingulfed seven hundred coerce our opinions, and to drag us, with so much vessels upon the coast of Newfoundland. If we precipitation to the most serious and important of are not this day wanting in our duty to country, decisions. But; coming to the subject in controthe names of the American legislators will be pla- versy, I affirm, that prudent men do not abandon ob. ced, by posterity, at the side of those of Theseus, of jects which are certain, to go in pursuit of those Lycurgus, of Romulus, of Numa, of the three Wil- which offer only uncertainty. Now, it is an establiams of Nassau, and of all those whose memory bas lished fact, that America can be well and happily been, and will be, forever dear to virtuous men and governed by the English laws, under the same king good citizens.”

and the same parliament. Two hundred years of Lee had scarcely ceased speaking, when no dubi. happiness furnish the proof of it; and we find it ous signs of approbation were manifested on all also in the present prosperity, which is the result of parts. But the deputies of Pennsylvania and Mary. these venerable laws and of this ancient union. It is land not being present, and the congress desirous, not as independent, but as subjects; not as republic, byisome delay, to evidence the maturity of their de. but as monarcby, that we have arrived at this de. liberations, adjourned the futher consideration of gree of power and of greatness. the subject to the first of July. Meanwhile the “What tben is the object of these chimeras, hatchpatriots babored strenuously to induce the two dis.ed in the days of discord and of war? Shall the senting provinces also to decide for independence. transports of fury have more power over us than the They employed the most earnest persuasions, to experience of ages? Shall we destroy, in an mo. which they added also threats, intimating that not ment of anger, the work cemented and tested by only would the other colonies exclude them from time? the confederation, but that they would immediately “I know the name of liberty is dear to each one treat them as enemies. The provincial assém'ıly of of us; but bave we not enjoyed liberty even under Pennsylvania remained inflexible. At length, the the English monarchy? Shall we this day renounce inhabitants of Pennsylvania formed a convention, that to go and seek it in I know not wbat forin of

republic, which will soon change into a licentious moment when our separation shall take place, every anarchy and popular tyranny? In the human body thirg will assume a contrary direction. The nations the head only sustains and governs all the members, will accustom themselves to look upon us with disdirecting them, with admirable harmony, to the dain; even the pirates of Africa and Europe will fall same object, whicb is self.preservation and happi upon our vessels, will massacre our seamen, or lead ness; so the head of the body politic, that is the bem into a cruel and perpetual slavery. king, in concert with the parliament, can alone maintain the union of the members of this empire, cable in their affections, a manifest propensi y to

“There is in the human species, often so inexpli. lately so flourishing, and prevent civil war by obvi. ating all the evils produced by variety of opinions oppress the feeble as well as to datter the power.

ful. Fear always carries it against reason, pride and diversity of interests. And so firm is my

against moderation, and cruelty against clemency. persuasion of this, that I fully believe the most cruel war which Great Britain could make upon us, would

"Independence, I am aware, has attractions for be that of not making any; and that the surest a}l mankind; but I maintain, that, in the present means of bringing us back to her obedience, would quarrel, the friends of independence are the probe that of employing none. For the dread of the moters of slavery, and that those who desire to se. English arms once removed, provinces would rise parate us, would but render us more dependent, if up against provinces, and cities against cities; and independence means the right of commanding, and we should be seen to turn against ourselves the not the necessity of obeying, and if being depen. arms we bave taken up to combat the common dent is to obey, and not to command. If, in reg. enemy.

dering ourselves independent of England, suppos.

ing, bowever, that we should be able to effect it, "Insurmountable necessity would then compel os

we might be so, at the same time, of all other na. to resort to the tutelary authority which we should

tions, I sbould applaud the project; but to change have rasbly abjured, and if it consented to receive

the condition of English subjects for that of slaves us again under its egis, it would be no longer as

to the whole world, is a step that could only be free citizens, but as slaves. Still inexperienced,

counselled by insanity. If you would reduce your and in our infancy, what proof have we given of our

selves to the necessity of obeying, in all things, the ability to walk without a guide? none, and, if we

mandates of supercilious France, wbo is now kind. judge the future by the past, we must conclude that our concord will continue as long as the danger, dent. If, to British liberty, you prefer the liberty of

ling fire under our feet, declare yourselves indepen. and no longer.

Holland, of Venice, of Genoa, or of Ragusa, declare "Even when the powerful band of England sup yourselves independent. But, if we would not ported us, for the paltry motives of territorial limits change the signification of words, let us preserve and distant jurisdictions, have we not abandoned and carefully maintain this dependence, wbich bas ourselves to discords, and sometimes even to vio been, down to this very hour, the principle and lence? And what must we not expect now that source of our prosperity, of our liberty, of our real minds are heated, ambitions roused, and arms in independence. the hands of all?

“But bere I am interrupted, and told that no ono “If, therefore, our union with England offers us questions the advantages which America derived at so many advantages for the maintenance of internal first from her conjunction with England; but that peace, it is no less necessary to procure us, with fo- the new pretensions of the ministers have changed reign powers, that condescension and respect which all, bave subverted all. If I should deny, that, for is 80 essential to the prosperity of our commerce, the last twelve years, the English government has to the enjoyment of any consideration, and to the given the most fatal direction to the affairs of the accomplishment of any enterprize. Hitherto, in colonies, and that its measures towards us savor of our intercourse with the different nations of the tyranny, I should deny not only what is the maniworld, England has lent us the support of her name fest truth, but even what I bave so often advanced and of her arms: we have presented ourselves in all and supported. But is there any doubt that it al. the ports and in all the cities of tbe globe, not as ready feels a secret repentance? These arms, these Americans, a people scarcely heard of, but as Eng- soldiers, it prepares against us, are not designed to lisb; under the shadow of this respected name, establish tyranny upon our shores, but to vanquish every port was open to us, every way was smooth, our obstinacy, and to compel us to subscribe to every demand was heard with favor. From the conditions of accommodation. Do veio is it asserted


that the ministry will employ all means to make stories, they will invade our fisheries and obstruct themselves quite sure of us, in order to exercise our navigation, they will attempt our liberty and upon us, with impunity, all the rigor of their power; our privileges. We shall learn too late what it costs for to pretend to reduce us to an absolute impossi to trust to those European flatteries, and to place bility of resistance, in cases of oppression, would be, that confidence in inveterate enemies which has on their part, a chimerical project. The distance been withdrawn from long tried friends. of the seat of gevernment, the vast extent of inter.

“There are many persons who, to gain their ends, vening seas, the continual increase of our popula. estol the advantages of a republic over monarchy. tion, our warlike spirit, our experience in arms, the I wi?l not here undertake to examine which of these lakes, the rivers, the forests, the defiles which

forms of government merits the preference. I abound in our territory, are our pledges that Engo know, however, that the English nation, after hav. land will always prefer to found her power uponing tried them both, has never found repose except noderation and liberty, rather than upon rigour in monarchy. I know, also, that in popular repuband oppression. An uninterrupted succession of lics themselves, so necessary is monarchy to cement victories and of triumphs could alone constrain Eng, humán society, it has been requisite to institute land to acknowledge American independence; monarchical powers, more or less extensive, under wbich, whether we can expect, whoever knows the the names of archons, of consuls, of doges, of gon. instability of fortune can easily judge.

falonjers, and finally of kings. Nor should I here "If we have combated successfully at Lexington omit an observation, the truth of which appears to and at Boston, Quebec and all Canada have witnes.

me incontestable: the Englisb constitution seems to sed our reverses. Every one sees the necessity of be the fruit of the experience of all anterior time; opposing the extraurdinary pretensions of the min. in which monarchy is so tempered, that the monarch isters; but does every body see also that of fight finds himself checked in his efforts to seize abso. ing for independence?

lute power; and the authority of the people is so re"'It is to be feared, that, by changing the object of

gulated, that anarchy is not to be feared. But for the war, the present harmony will be interrupted, us it is to be apprehended, that when the counter. that the ardour of the people will be chilled by ap- poise of monarchy sball no longer exist, the demoprehensions for their new situation. By substitu. cratic power may carry all before it, and involve ting a total dismemberment to the revocation of the the whole state in confusion and ruin. Then an am. laws we complain of, we should fully justify the bitious citized may arise, seize the reins of power, ministers; we should merit the infamous name of and annihilate liberty forever; for such is the ordi. rebels, and all the British nation would arm, with

nary career of ill-balanced democracies, they fall an unanimous impulse, against those who, from op. into anarchy, and thence under despotism. pressed and complaining subjects, should have be. come all at once irreconc:lable enemies. The Eng. “Such are the opinions which might have been lish cherish the liberty we defend; they respect the offered you with more eloquence, but assuredly not dignity of our cause; but they will blame, they will with more zeal or sincerity. May heaven grant that detest, our recourse to independence, and will such sinister forebodings be not one day accomplish. unite with one consent to combat us.

ed! May it not permit that, in this solemn con

course of the friends of country, the impassioned “The propagators of the new doctrine are pleas

language of presumptuous and ardent men should ed to assure us, that, out of jealously towards Eng.

have more influence than the pacific exhortations land, foreign sovereigns will lavish their succours up

of good and sober citizens; prudence and modera. on us, as if these sovereigns could sincere by applaud

tion found and preserve empires, temerity and pro rebellion; as if they had not colonies, even here in

sumption occasion their downfall." America, in which it is important for them to main. tain obedience and tranquillity. Let us suppose, The discourse of Dickinson was heard with at. however, that jealousy, ambition, or vengeance, tention; but the current flowed irresistibly strong should triumph over the fear of insurrections; do in a contrary direction, and fear acting upon mang you think these princes will not make you pay dear more powerfully even than their opinion, the mafor the assistance with which they flatter you? Who jority pronounced in favor of independence. The bas not learnt, to his cost, the perfidy and the cu-deputies of Pennsylvania were accordingly author. pidity of Europeans? They will disguise their sed to return to congress, and to consent that the averice under poinpous words; under the most be onfederate colonies should declare themselves free · Acrolent pretexts they will despoil us of our terri-land independent stales,


« AnteriorContinuar »