Page:American Archives, Series 4, Volume 1.djvu/530
CONTINENTAL CONGRESS, OCTOBER 21, 1774.
desert their brethren suffering in a common cause; and that thus disunited, all may be subdued.
To promote these designs, another measure has been pursued. In the session of Parliament last mentioned, an Act was passed for changing the Government of Quebec, by which Act the Roman Catholick Religion, instead of being tolerated, as stipulated by the Treaty of Peace, is established; and the people there are deprived of a right to an Assembly; Trials by Jury, and the English Laws in civil cases, are abolished, and instead thereof the French Laws are established, in direct violation of his Majesty's promise by his Royal Proclamation, under the faith of which many English subjects settled in that Province, and the limits of that Province, are extended so as to comprehend those vast regions that lie adjoining to the Northerly and Westerly boundaries of these Colonies.
The authors of this arbitrary arrangement flatter themselves that the inhabitants, deprived of liberty, and artfully provoked against those of another religion, will be proper instruments for assisting in the oppression of such as differ from them in modes of government and faith.
From the detail of facts herein before recited, as well as from authentick intelligence received, it is clear beyond a doubt, that a resolution is formed, and now carrying into execution, to extinguish the freedom of these Colonies by subjecting them to a despotick Government.
At this unhappy period we have been authorized and directed to meet and consult together for the welfare of our common country. We accepted the important trust with diffidence, but have endeavoured to discharge it with integrity. Though the state of these Colonies would certainly justify other measures than we have advised, yet weighty reasons determined us to prefer those which we have adopted. In the first place, it appeared to us a conduct becoming the character these Colonies have ever sustained, to perform, even in the midst of the unnatural distresses and imminent dangers that surround them, every act of loyalty, and therefore, we were induced once more to offer to his Majesty the Petitions of his faithful and oppressed subjects in America. Secondly, regarding with the tender affection which we knew to be so universal among our countrymen, the people of the Kingdom, from which we derive our origin, we could not forbear to regulate our steps by an expectation of receiving full conviction that the Colonists are equally dear to them. Between these Provinces and that body subsists the social band, which we ardently wish may never be dissolved, and which cannot be dissolved until their minds shall become indisputably hostile, or their inattention shall permit those who are thus hostile, to persist in prosecuting, with the powers of the Realm, the destructive measures already operating against the Colonists, and, in either case, shall reduce the latter to such a situation that they shall be compelled to renounce every regard but that of self-preservation. Notwithstanding the violence with which affairs have been impelled they have not yet reached that fatal point. We do not incline to accelerate their motion, already alarmingly rapid; we have chosen a method of opposition that does not preclude a hearty reconciliation with our fellow-citizens on the other side of the Atlantic. We deeply deplore the urgent necessity that presses us to an immediate interruption of commerce that may prove injurious to them. We trust they will acquit us of any unkind intentions towards them, by reflecting that we are driven by the hands of violence into unexperienced and unexpected publick convulsions, and that we are contending for freedom, so often contended for by our ancestors.
The people of England will soon have an opportunity of declaring their sentiments concerning our cause. In their piety, generosity, and good sense, we repose high confidence; and cannot, upon a review of past events, be persuaded that they, the defenders of true religion, and the asserters of the rights of mankind, will take part against their affectionate Protestant brethren in the Colonies in favour of our open and their own secret enemies, whose intrigues for several years past have been wholly exercised in sapping the foundations of Civil and Religious Liberty.
Another reason that engaged us to prefer the commercial mode of opposition, arose from an assurance, that the mode will prove efficacious, if it be persisted in with fidelity and virtue; and that your conduct will be influenced by these laudable principles, cannot be questioned. Your own salvation, and that of your posterity, now depends upon yourselves. You have already shown that you entertain a proper sense of the blessings you are striving to retain. Against the temporary inconveniences you may suffer from a stoppage of Trade, you will weigh in the opposite balance the endless miseries you and your descendants must endure from an established arbitrary power. You will not forget the honour of your country, that must, from your behaviour take its title in the estimation of the world, to glory, or to shame; and you will with the deepest attention, reflect, that if the peaceable mode of opposition recommended by us, be broken and rendered ineffectual, as your cruel and haughty Ministerial enemies, from a contemptuous opinion of your firmness, insolently predict will be the case, you must inevitably be reduced to choose, either a more dangerous contest, or a final, ruinous, and infamous submission.
Motives thus cogent, arising from the emergency of your unhappy condition, must excite your utmost diligence and zeal to give all possible strength and energy to the pacifick measures calculated for your relief: But we think ourselves bound in duty to observe to you, that the schemes agitated against these Colonies have been so conducted, as to render it prudent that you should extend your views to mournful events, and be, in all respects, prepared for every contingency. Above all things, we earnestly entreat you, with devotion of spirit, penitence of heart, and amendment of life, to humble yourselves and implore the favour of Almighty God: and we fervently beseech his Divine goodness to take you into his gracious protection.
Ordered, That the Address to the People of Great Britain, and the Memorial to the Inhabitants of the British Colonies be immediately committed to the press; and that no more than one hundred and twenty copies of each be struck off, without further orders from the Congress.
Resolved, That an Address be prepared to the People of Quebec, and Letters to the Colonies of St. John's, Nova Scotia, Georgia, East and West Florida, who have not Deputies to represent them in this Congress.
Ordered, That Mr. Cushing, Mr. Lee, and Mr. Dickinson, be a Committee to prepare the above Address and Letters.
Ordered, That Mr. Galloway, Mr. McKean, Mr. J. Adams, and Mr. Hooper, be a Committee to revise the Minutes of the Congress.
The Address to the King being read, after debate,
Ordered, That the same be re-committed, and that Mr. J. Dickinson be added to the Committee.
Resolved, That the seizing, or attempting to seize, any person in America, in order to transport such person beyond the sea, for trial of offences committed within the body of a County in America, being against law, will justify, and ought to meet with resistance and reprisal.
Saturday, October 22, 1774.
The Honourable Peyton Randolph, Esquire, being unable to attend on account of indisposition, the Honourable Henry Middleton, Esquire, was chosen to supply his place as President.
An Address from Christopher Tully was read, and ordered to lie on the table.
Ordered, That the Journal of the proceedings of the Congress, as now corrected, be sent to the press, and printed under the direction of Mr. Biddle, Mr. Dickinson, and the Secretary.
Resolved, As the opinion of this Congress, that it will be necessary that a Congress should be held on the tenth day of May next, unless the redress of Grievances, which we have desired, be obtained before that time. And we recommend that the same be held at at the City of Philadelphia, and that all the Colonies in North America, choose Deputies, as soon as possible, to attend such Congress.
The Committee appointed to prepare a Letter to the Colonies of St. Johns, &c., reported a draught, which was read, and being amended, the same was approved, and is as follows: