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Allegiance to Crowned Heads Upon the British Throne



New-York, October 19, 1775.

The word Allegiance is derived from the Latin verb alligo, or alligare, which signifies the binding of one thing or person to another: when it is spoken of a subject with


relation to his Sovereign, it means the obligation the former is under to submit to and obey the latter in all things lawful; so that it is the legal faith and obedience which every subject owes to his Sovereign, immediately upon his being placed upon the throne, with the royal crown upon his head, accompanied with his coronation oath.

Sovereign rulers, seated upon the throne of Great Britain, are bound by their coronation oath to govern the realm according to the fundamental laws of the State, contained in Magna Charta, which is the basis of all the English laws and liberties that can be justified; which laws the subject is under indispensable obligations to obey, so soon as he sustains the relation of a subject to his Sovereign. But the obligation is very much confirmed by his taking the oath of allegiance. For he promises and solemnly swears, that he will be faithful and bear true allegiance to his Sovereign upon the throne, governing according to the fundamental laws of the Kingdom. This oath of allegiance, taken by the subject to the Sovereign, may be considered as the counterpart of the coronation oath, taken by the Sovereign to the subject; and both together constitute the nature of a covenant between Prince and people; for as the King or Queen is bound by oath to govern the people according to the fundamental laws of Magna Charta, so the people are bound by the oath of allegiance to obey all the laws of the Administration that are conformable to that great charter.

But if the British Legislature enact laws subversive of the fundamental Constitution — laws that stretch the prerogative beyond its limited bounds, and violate the liberties of the subject, the Sovereign adding his sanction to them, and thereby violating his coronation oath; the people in such case are absolved, ipso facto, from their obligations of obedience to the King. So far, in this case, is it from being a virtue and matter of duty for the people tamely to surrender their natural and constitutional rights and privileges, that it is their duty to insist upon them, and not submit to the cruel arm of despotism.

Every measure, indeed, expressive of suitable deference to crowned heads, should be taken, by petitions, remonstrances, and addresses to the Throne. But if all these are rejected and prove ineffectual, the subject has a right to defend his liberties by resistance, even unto blood, in case the Administration endeavour to carry their unconstitutional acts of despotism into execution by the sword. The law of God, the law of nature, and the gospel of Jesus Christ, will justify them in so doing.

But may we rebel against the King? Is he not "the Lord' s anointed?" No! the King of England is not "the Lord' s anointed," in the sense that Said, David, and other Kings of Israel were, who were made Kings by the special appointment and nomination of God himself.

The Government of the Jews, before God gave them a King, was theocratical. God himself was their King and their lawgiver, as an absolute Sovereign. And when the form of their Government was changed, he pointed out their Kings, who by divine direction were solemnly anointed with oil. God retaining his legislative superintendency, as supreme monarch, their Kings had only the administration of Government committed to their trust; in which they were under indispensable obligations to be observant of his laws, in every step of their administration.

But we have no such Kings in England, nor ever had. Not one of them ever was pointed out by God, in that extraordinary way, nor anointed as those Kings of Israel were. Our Kings are made so by compact, as is apparent in the coronation oath and oath of allegiance. The rule of the Administration is the law, or laws made by the Lords and Commons, agreeable to Magna Charta; and the King is as much bound by that Constitution as the subject.

Therefore, if the King gives his sanction to acts of Parliament, subversive of that grand charter by which he holds his crown, and endeavours to carry them into execution by force of arms, the people have a right to repel force by force, in vindication of their lives, their rights and privileges. And if they do, it cannot with any propriety be called rebellion; for rebellion is a traitorous taking up of arms against the King, in the regular discharge of his important trust, as King of Great Britain, &˙c.

But when the King of Great Britain violates the Constitution,


by such mal-administration as has been specified, he unkings himself, and is liable to be deposed: Nay, he in a sense deposes himself. The person remains, but the constitutional King of Great Britain no longer exists in him. Nor can he be recovered from that degradation, that moral and political death, without reversing, annulling, and repealing those unconstitutional acts which he has ratified, and recalling the fleets and armies of those raparees, those bloody banditti he has sent forth to carry them into execution.

Can it, with any propriety, be called rebellion to fight against such robbers, such murderers, who came with an unjustifiable commission to rob, plunder, and destroy, contrary to the letter, spirit, and genius of the British Constitution? May it not rather be said, that they fight and rebel against the King, inasmuch as they rebel against the Constitution that made him King; and so fight against the King, though they fight for his person? And are not all those Ministers and lawmakers traitors to the King, who have led him into these destructive snares? And yet the King himself cannot be excused.

It would be vain to say, he did not make those unconstitutional acts, but the Lords and Commons in Parliament assembled. For he ratified them, and passed them into laws, when he might and could have negatived them. His approbation passed them into laws, to enslave or murder his subjects. And he, having the power of making war as well as peace, sent his hostile fleets and armies to enslave or destroy his American Colonies, when he might have withheld them, and ought so to have done. Nor can he any more be deemed the lawful King of Great Britain, until he repeals those cruel acts, and causes the bloody war to cease which they have commenced. No King, unless it be a constitutional King, can subsist under the English Constitution.