« PreviousContinue »
Indian natives, sustained by our infant settlements for a century after our first arrival, were ever any troops or forces of any kind sent from England to assist us; nor were any forts built at her expence to secure our seaports from foreign invaders; nor any ships of war sent to protect our trade, till many years after our first settlement, when our commerce became an object of revenue, or of advantage to British merchants, and then it was thought necessary to have a frigate in some of our ports, during peace, to give weight to the authority of custom-house officers, who were to restrain that commerce for the benefit of England. Our own arms, with our poverty, and the care of a kind providence, were all this time our only protection, while we were neglected by the English government; which either thought us not worth its care, or, having no good will to some of us, on account of our different sentiments in religion and politics, was indifferent what became of us. On the other hand, the colonies have not been wanting to do what they could in every war for annoying the enemies of Britain. They formerly assisted her in the conquest of Nova Scotia. In the war before last they took Louisbourg, and put it into her hands. She made her peace with that strong fortress, by restoring it to France, greatly to their detriment. In the last war, it is true, Britain sent a fleet and
who acted with an equal army of ours, in the reduction of Canada; and perhaps thereby did more for us, than we in the preceding wars had done for her. Let it be remembered however, that she rejected the plan we formed in the congress at Albany, in 1754, for our own defence, by an union of the colonies; an union she was jealous of, and therefore chose to send her own forces;
otherwise her aid to protect us was not wanted. And from our first settlement to that time, her military operations in our favour were small, compared with the advantages she drew from her exclusive commerce with us. We are however willing to give full weight to this obligation ; and as we are daily growing stronger, and our assistance to her becomes of more importance, we should with pleasure embrace the first
opportunity of showing our gratitude, by returning the favour in kind. But when Britain values herself as affording us protection, we desire it may be considered, that we have followed her in all her wars, and joined with her at our own expence against all she thought fit to quarrel with. This she has required of us, and would never permit us to keep peace with any power she declared her enemy, though by separate treaties we might well have done it. Under such circumstances, when, at her instance, we made nations our enemies, whom we might otherwise have retained our friends; we submit it to the common sense of mankind, whether her protection of us in these wars was not our just due, and to be claimed of right, instead of being received as a favour? And whether, when all the parts of an empire exert themselves to the utmost in their common defence, and in annoying the common enemy, it is not as well the parts that protect the whole, as the whole that protects the parts? The protection then has been proportionably mutual. And whenever the time shall come, that our abilities may as far exceed hers, as hers have exceeded ours, we hope we shall be reasonable enough to rest satisfied with her proportionable exertions, and not think we do too much for a part of the empire, when that part does as much as it can for the whole.
The charge against us, that we refuse to contribute to our own protection, appears from the above to be groundless : but we farther declare it to be absolutely false; for it is well known, that we ever held it as our duty to grant aids to the crown, upon requisition, towards carrying on its wars; which duty we have cheerfully complied with, to the utmost of our abilities; insomuch that frequent and grateful acknowledgments thereof by king and parliament appear on their records*. But as Britain bas enjoyed a most gainful monopoly of our commerce, the same, with our maintaining the dignity of the king's representative in each colony, and all our own separate establishments of government, civil and military, has ever hitherto been deemed an equivalent for such aids, as might otherwise be expected from us in time of peace. And we hereby declare, that on a reconciliation with Britain, we shall not only continue to grant aids in time of war, as aforesaid ; but, whenever she shall tbink fit to abolish her monopoly, and give us the same privileges of trade as Scotland received at the anion, and allow us a free commerce with all the rest of the world, we shall willingly agree (and we doubt not it will be ratified by our constituents) to give and pay into the sinking fund [100,0001.] sterling per annum for the term of one hundred years, which, duly, faithfully, and inviolably applied to that purpose, is demonstrably more than sufficient to extinguish all her present
* Supposed to allude to certain passages in the Journals of the house of commons on the 4th of April, 1748, 28th January, 1756, 3d February, 1756, 16th and 19th of May, 1757, 1st of June, 1758, 26th and 30th of April, 1759, 26th and 31st of March, and 28th of April, 1760, 9th and 30th January, 1761, 22d and 26th January, 1762, and 14th and 17th March, 1763. B. V.
national debt, since it will in that time amount, at legal British interest, to more than 230,000,0001.* But if Britain does not think fit to accept
proposition, we, in order to remove her groundless jealousies, that we aim at independence, and an abolition of the navigation act, (which hath in truth never been our intention) and to avoid all future disputes about the right of making that and other acts for regulating our commerce, do hereby declare ourselves ready and willing to enter into a covenant with Britain, that she shall fully possess, enjoy, and exercise that right, for an hundred years to come, the same being bonâ fide used for the common benefit; and in case of such agreement, that every assembly be advised by us, to confirm it solemnly, by laws of their own, which, once made, cannot be repealed without the assent of the crown.
The last charge, that we are dishonest traders, and aim at defrauding our creditors in Britain, is sufficiently and authentically refuted by the solemn declarations of the British merchants to parliament, (both at the time of the stamp-act and in the last session) who bore ample testimony to the general good faith and fair dealing of the Americans, and declared their confidence in our integrity, for which we refer to their petitions on the journals of the house of commons. And we presume we may safely call on the body of the British tradesmen, who have had experience of both, to say, whether they have not received much more punctual payment from us than they generally have from the members of their own two houses of parliament.
On the whole of the above it appears, that the charge
* See Dr. Price's Appeal on the National Debt. B. V. VOL. III.
of ingratitude towards the mother country, brought with so much confidence against the colonies, is totally without foundation; and that there is much more reason for retorting that charge on Britain, who not only never contributes any aid, nor affords, by an exclusive commerce, any advantages to Saxony, her mother country; but no longer since than in the last war, without the least provocation, subsidized the king of Prussia while he ravaged that mother country, and carried fire and sword into its capital, the fine city of Dresden. An example we hope no provocation will induce us to imitate.
Reprobation of Mr. Strahan's parliamentary Conduct.
Philadelphia, July 5, 1775. MR. STRAHAN, YOU are a member of that parliament, and have formed part of that majority, which has condemned my native country to destruction.
You have begun to burn our towns, and to destroy their inhabitants !
Look at your hands !- they are stained with the blood of your relations and your acquaintances.
You and I were long friends; you are at present my enemy, and I am yours.
This letter appeared, shortly after the period of its date, in most of the public papers. We extract it from the Gentleman's Magazine. Editor.