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Letter from the Massachusetts to the Continental Congress



In Provincial Congress, Watertown,

May 16, 1775.

"Resolved, That Doctor Benjamin Church be ordered to go immediately to Philadelphia, and deliver to the President of the Honourable American Congress there now sitting, the following application, to be by him communicated to the Members thereof; and the said Church is also directed to confer with the said Congress respecting such other matters as may be necessary to the defence of this Colony, and particularly the state of the Army therein."

May it please your Honours:

That system of Colony administration which, in the most firm, dutiful, and loyal manner, has been in vain remonstrated against by the representative body of the United Colonies, seems still, unless speedily and vigorously opposed by the collected wisdom and force of all America, to threaten ruin and destruction to this Continent.

For a long time past this Colony has, by a corrupt Administration in Great Britain and here, been deprived of


the exercise of those powers of government, without which a people can be neither rich, happy, nor secure. The whole Continent saw the blow pending, which if not warded off must inevitably have subverted the freedom and happiness of each Colony. The principles of self-defence, roused in the breasts of freemen by the dread of impending slavery, caused to be collected the wisdom of America in a Congress, composed of men who, through time, must, in every land of freedom, be revered among the most faithful asserters of the essential rights of human nature.

This Colony was then reduced to great difficulties, being denied the exercise of civil Government according to our Charter, or the fundamental principles of the English Constitution, and a formidable Navy and Army (not only inimical to our safety, but flattered with the prospect of enjoying the fruit of our industry) were stationed for that purpose in our Metropolis. The prospect of deciding the question between our Mother Country and us by the sword, gave us the greatest pain and anxiety; but we have made all the preparation for our necessary defence that our confused state would admit of; and as the question equally affected our sister Colonies and us, we have declined, though urged thereto by the most pressing necessity, to assume the reins, of civil Government without their advice and consent; but have hitherto borne the many difficulties and distressing embarrassments necessarily resulting from a want thereof.

We are now compelled to raise an Army, which, with the assistance of the other Colonies, we hope, under the smiles of Heaven, will be able to defend us and all America from the further butcheries and devastations of our implacable enemies. But as the sword should, in all free States, be subservient to the civil powers; and as it is the duty of the Magistrates to support it for the people' s necessary defence, we tremble, at having an Army (although consisting of our own countrymen) established here, without a civil power to provide for and control them.

"We are happy in having an opportunity of laying our distressed state before the representative body of the Continent, and humbly hope you will favour us with, your roost explicit advice respecting the taking up and exercising the powers of civil Government, which we think absolutely necessary for the salvation of our Country; and we shall readily submit to such a general plan as you may direct for the Colonies, or make it our great study to establish such a form of Government here, as shall not only most promote our own advantages, but the union and interest of all America.

As the Army now collecting from different Colonies is for the general defence of the rights of America, we would beg leave to suggest to your consideration the propriety of your taking the regulation and general direction of it, that the operations of it may more effectually answer the purposes designed.

JOS˙ WARREN, President pro tem.

SAMUEL FREEMAN, Secretary pro tem.

To the Hon˙ the Continental Congress, Philadelphia.