Primary tabs

Letter from Eleazer Russel to Meshech Weare: His reasons for not signing the Association



Portsmouth, August 17, 1776.

HONOURABLE SIR: A subject important to me now leads me to address you, for which I beg your indulgence, and that you will please to lay the matter before the honourable Committee of Safety.

On the 4th of May last, Colonel Wentworth, of the Committee for the town of Portsmouth, brought me the Association to subscribe, at a time I was so ill as to be incapable of anything. Upon growing better, I thought largely of the matter, and finding my mind perplexed, wrote to him on the subject; which letter, at my request, he consented to lay before the Committee of Safety.

Till yesterday, I never knew but the Association paper, with my letter, had been in the Committee' s hands for more than two months, and now find myself bound by every principle of honour, duty, and gratitude, to enlarge upon the affair.

It was and is merely to secure the morality of my mind that I was reluctant to put my name to it. Solemnly to bind myself to the performance of what nature and necessity rendered impossible, I started at the thought of. And though my health is mended, so wretched are my nerves that I could not do one hour' s military duty to save my life. The article of shedding human blood, in me is not a humour, but a principle; not an evasion but a fact. It was received in early life, and has grown with my growth and strengthened with my strength. Not a partiality for British more than savage blood; for, all circumstances considered, I think the latter more innocent than the former.

From the first injuries done America by Great Britain, my thoughts took fire on the subject, and have been conceived and uttered in one unvaried strain, to the highest personage and down to the lowest enemy, without hesitation of reserve, so that I can challenge all mankind to impeach me to my country.

To enlarge on the matter in my own favour would be easy, but might appear indelicate, and to be wholly silent in the case would be criminal; therefore, leaving my conduct to be judged of by persons of liberal sentiments and sensibility of mind, I am, with the greatest respect, honourable sir, your obliged and dutiful humble servant, E˙ RUSSELL.

To the Honourable Colonel Weare.