Page:American Archives, Series 4, Volume 1.djvu/533
CONTINENTAL CONGRESS, OCTOBER 26, 1774.
"every man's being allowed to speak his thoughts, and lay " open his sentiments."
Apply these decisive maxims, sanctified by the authority of a name which all Europe reveres, to your own state. You have a Governour, it may be urged, vested with the Executive powers, or the powers of Administration; in him, and in your Council, is lodged the power of making laws. You have Judges, who are to decide every cause affecting your lives, liberty, or property. Here is, indeed, an appearance of the several powers being separated and distributed into different hands, for checks, one upon another; the only effectual mode ever invented by the wit of men, to promote their freedom and prosperity. But scorning to be illuded by a tinselled outside, and exerting the natural sagacity of Frenchmen, examine the specious device, and you will find it, to use an expression of Holy Writ, " a whited sepulchre," for burying your lives, liberty, and property.
Your Judges, and your Legislative Council, as it is called, are dependent on your Governour, and he is dependent on the servant of the Crown in Great Britain. The Legislative, Executive, and Judging powers are all moved by the nods of a Minister. Privileges and immunities last no longer than his smiles. When he frowns, their feeble forms dissolve. Such a treacherous ingenuity has been exerted in drawing up the code lately offered vou, that every sentence, beginning with a benevolent pretension, concludes with a destructive power; and the substance of the whole, divested of its smooth words, is that the Crown and its Ministers shall be as absolute throughout your extended Province, as the despots of Asia or Africa. What can protect your property from taxing edicts, and the rapacity of necessitous and cruel masters? your persons from lettres de catchct, jails, dungeons, and oppressive services? your lives and general liberty from arbitrary and unfeeling rulers? We defy you, casting your view upon every side, to discover a single circumstance, promising from any quarter, the faintest hope of liberty to you or your posterity, but from an entire adoption into the Union of these Colonies.
What advice would the truly great man, before mentioned, that advocate of freedom and humanity, give you, was he now living, and knew that we, your numerous and powerful neighbours, animated by a just love of our invaded rights, and united by the indissoluble bands of affection and interest, called upon you, by every obligation of regard for yourselves and your children, as we now do, to join us in our righteous contest, to make common cause with us therein, and take a noble chance for emerging from a humiliating subjection under Governours, Intendants, and Military Tyrants, into the firm rank and condition of English Freemen, whose custom it is, derived from their ancestors, to make those tremble who dare to think of making them miserable?
Would not this be the purport of his address? "Seize the opportunity presented to you by Providence itself. You have been conquered into liberty, if you act as you ought. This work is not of man. You are a small people, compared to those who, with open arms, invite you into a fellowship. A moment's reflection should convince you which will be most for your interest and happiness, to have all the rest of North America your unalterable friends, or your inveterate enemies. The injuries of Boston have roused and associated every Colony from Nova Scotia to Georgia. Your Province is the only link wanting to complete the bright and strong chain of Union. Nature has joined your country to theirs. Do you join your political interests. For their own sakes they never will desert or betray you. Be assured that the happiness of a people inevitably depends on their liberty, and their spirit to assert it. The value and extent of the advantages tendered to you are immense. Heaven grant you may not discover them to be blessings after they have bid you an eternal adieu."
We are too well acquainted with the liberality of sentiment distinguishing your Nation, to imagine that difference of Religion will prejudice you against a hearty amity with us. You know that the transcendent nature of freedom elevates those who unite in her cause, above all such lowminded infirmities. The Swiss Cantons furnish a memorable proof of this truth. Their Union is composed of Roman Catholick and Protestant States, living in the utmost concord and peace with one another, and thereby enabled, ever since they bravely vindicated their freedom, to defy and defeat every tyrant that has invaded them.
Should there be any among you, as there generally are in all societies, who prefer the favours of Ministers, and their own private interests, to the welfare of their country, the temper of such selfish persons will render them incredibly active in opposing all publick-spirited measures, from an expectation of being well rewarded for their sordid industry, by their superiours; but we doubt not you will be upon your guard against such men, and not sacrifice the liberty and happiness of the whole Canadian people and their posterity, to gratify the avarice and ambition of individuals.
We do not ask you, by this Address, to commence of hostility against the Government of our common Sovereign. We only invite you to consult your own glory and welfare, and not to suffer yourselves to be inveigled or intimidated by infamous Ministers, so far as to become the instruments of their cruelty and despotism; but to unite with us in one social compact, formed on the generous principles of equal liberty, and cemented by such an exchange of beneficial and endearing offices as to render it perpetual. In order to complete this highly desirable Union, we submit it to your consideration, whether it may not be expedient for you to meet together, in your several Towns and Districts, and elect Deputies, who, afterwards meeting in a Provincial Congress, may choose Delegates to represent your Province in the Continental Congress, to be held at Philadelphia, on the tenth day of May, 1775.
In this present Congress, beginning on the fifth of the last month, and continued to this day, it has been, with universal pleasure, and an unanimous vote, resolved that we should consider the violation of your rights, by the Act for altering the Government of your Province, as a violation of our own, and that you should be invited to accede to our confederation, which has no other objects than the perfect security of the natural and civil rights of all the constituent members, according to their respective circumstances, and the preservation of a happy and lasting connection with Great Britain, on the salutary and constitutional principles herein before mentioned. For effecting these purposes, we have addressed an humble and loyal Petition to his Majesty, praying relief of our and your grievances; and have associated to stop all importations from Great Britain and Ireland, after the first day of December, and all exportations to those Kingdoms and the West Indies, after the tenth day of next September, unless the said grievances are redressed.
That Almighty God may incline your minds to approve our equitable and necessary measures, to add yourselves to us, to put your fate, whenever you suffer injuries which you are determined to oppose, not on the small influence of your single Province, but on the consolidated powers of North America; and may grant to our joint exertions an event as happy as our cause is just, is the fervent prayer of us, your sincere and affectionate friends and fellowsubjects. By order of Congress,
Henry Middleton, President.
Resolved, That the Address of the Congress to the People of Canada be signed by the President, and that the Delegates of the Province of Pennsylvania superintend the translating, printing, publishing, and dispersing it. And it is recommended by the Congress to the Delegates of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, and New- York, to assist in and forward the dispersion of the said Address.
The Address to the King being engrossed and compared, was signed at the table by all the Members:—
To the King's Most Excellent Majesty:
Most Gracious Sovereign: We, your Majesty's faithful subjects of the Colonies of New-Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, the Counties of New-Castle, Kent, and Sussex, on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, in behalf of ourselves and the inhabitants of those Colonies who have deputed us to represent them in General Congress, by this our humble Petition, beg leave to lay our Grievances before the Throne.