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by his infinite goodness and wisdom, as the objects of a legal domination never rightfully resistible, 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. But a reverence for our Creator, principles of humanity, and the dictates of common sense, must convince all those who reflect on the subject, that government was instituted to promote the welfare of mankind, and ought to be administered for the attainment of that end.”
Extract from a Petition sent by Congress to the King of Great Britain, July 8, 1775.
“Your majesty's ministers, persevering in their measures, and proceeding to impose hostilities for enforcing them, have compelled us to arm in our own defence, and have engaged us in a controversy so peculiarly abhorrent to the affection of your still faithful colonies, that, when we consider whom we must oppose in this contest, and, if it continues, what may be the consequences, our own particular misfortunes are accounted by us as part of our distress.”
Extract from the Address to the American People by Congress, May 8, 1778.
“You cannot, but remember how reluctantly we were dragged into this arduous contest, and how repeatedly, with the earnestness of humble entreaty, we supplicated a redress of our grievances from him who ought to have been the father of his people. In vain did we implore his protection; in vain did we appeal to the justice, the generosity, of Englishmen—of men who had been the guardians, and asserters, and vindicators of liberty through a succession of ages—men who, with their swords, had established the firm basis of freedom, and cemented it with the blood of heroes. Every effort was vain. For, even while we were prostrate at the foot of the throne, that fatal blow was struck which separated us forever. Thus spurned, contemned, and insulted, thus driven by our enemies into measures which our souls abhorred, we made a solemn appeal to the tribunal of unerring wisdom and justice—to that almighty Ruler of princes, whose kingdom is over all.”
Extract from the “General Orders issued by General Washington to the Army of the United States, April 18, 1783.” * * * “For happy, thrice happy, shall they be pronounced hereafter, who have contributed any thing, who have performed the meanest office, in erecting this stupendous fabric of freedom and empire on the broad basis of independence, who have assisted in protecting the rights of human nature, and establishing an asylum for the poor and oppressed of all nations and religions. “The glorious task for which we flew to arms being accomplished, the liberties of our country being fully acknowledged, and firmly secured by the smiles of Heaven on the purity of our cause, and the honest exertions of a free people to be free, against a powerful nation disposed to oppress them,” &c.
Extract from the answer of General Mifflin, the President of Congress, to the Speech made by General Washington, on his resigning his Commission, December 23, 1783.
“Having defended the standard of liberty in this new world, having taught a lesson to those who inflict and to those who feel oppression, you retire from the great field of action with the blessing of your fellow-citizens.”
Among the foregoing are some of the expressions made by the constituted authorities of the land, and which must have been issued by at least a majority of the different bodies who emanated them. They consequently show the feelings of a large body of the people, and the reasons and object that caused them to resist the proceedings of Great Britain. Whether they were right or wrong in forcible resistance, is another question; we cannot stop here to discuss it, but shall observe, we doubt whether the army, during a good portion of that memorable struggle, could have been kept together, destitute as they fre-. quently were of every comfort and convenience, were it not they were urged on by their love of liberty and of the right, and by such appeals as were made to these inherent principles of our nature. Look at the army at Walley Forge : almost naked in the dead of winter; almost literally without food or raiment, or they had such only as was barely enough to support their animal wants; nay, they had not enough to satisfy their hunger, or to shield them from the severity of the cold. Take the British officer's account, which we shall shortly give, of Marion's situation; and Marion said it was often much worse than when the officer was with him; for they did not always have enough even of potatoes. Imagine to yourself an army of men living in the woods, sustaining themselves upon roasted potatoes, their plates sheets of bark, their tables logs, and their fingers for knives and forks, day after day, month after
month, exposed to the hot sun and chilly damps of a southern climate ; and all, as is said, for “liberty;” and liberty not so much for them
selves as for posterity. If they were wrong, it
seems, at least, we should be charitable towards such failings; but yet here is the principle for which we contend, - that it was for liberty, and liberty alone, that produced our Revolution, and that this was the mainspring and moving power that put in action the men of that day; and without it the Revolution could not have been carried on, nor, so far as human observation can be made, could it have been successfully terminated; and that it was not the liberty of the mass, a disenthraldom of the state from a foreign power, an independency of government, but it was the liberty of the individual that was sought; it was to shield him from oppressive taxes, to protect him from being quartered upon by a brutal soldiery, and their money from going to build up a rich few in the island of Great Britain."
* In the Introduction to the Biographical Dictionary, compiled by J. J. Rogers, it is said that Mr. Benjamin West told Mr. J. Adams, while he was minister to the court of St. James, that the cause for taxing the colonies without their consent arose from the fact that the courtiers around George III. urged him to build for himself a more elegant palace than the one he was then living in, as it did not compare with the palaces of other kings on the continent; and when he was informed that there was not money enough in the treasury to supply his wants for that purpose, (a million was asked for,) and was told that he might raise the sum in America, he consented to make the attempt; and the famous stamp act was passed in March, 1765. His palace was to have been built in Hyde Park; and Mr. West showed Mr. Adams the
We do not here quote from the Declaration of Independence, because we shall have occasion so often to refer to its language it is not necessary.
Gov. Hancock, in a speech made in 1784, in commemoration of the Boston Massacre, makes use of the following expressions:
“Security to the persons and property of the government is so obviously the design and end of civil government, that to attempt a logical proof of it would be like burning tapers at noonday to assist the sun in enlightening the world; and it cannot be virtuous or honorable to attempt to support a government of which this is not the great and principal basis; and it is to the last degree vicious and infamous to attempt to support a government which manifestly tends to render the persons and properties of the governed insecure. Some boast of being friends to government: I am a friend to righteous government, founded on the principle of reason and justice; but I glory in publicly avowing my eternal enmity to tyranny.”
Mr. Hancock was chosen president of the convention of Massachusetts, to take into consideration the adoption of the present Constitution, but did not attend till the last week of the session. It was said a majority of the convention would be against the adoption, and that the governor was with the opposers." “Certain amendments were proposed to remove the objections of those who thought some of the articles deprived the people
site which was there marked out for that purpose. Thus, for the sake of a palace, George III, lost a kingdom.
"Biographical Dictionary, Art. Hancock.