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Declaration of the Congress respecting their treatment of the Prisoners taken among the Insurgents


Pursuant to a former Resolution, the following Declaration was laid before this Congress, and approved:


Impelled by a regard to our own safety, and the preservation of those rights and privileges which God and the Constitution have made unalienably ours, and which the power of Great Britain, with unremitting vengeance, injustice, and cruelty, is labouring to subvert, we have been induced to measures which it is the object of this Declaration to explain to those who may be interested in them or their consequences.

To other Provinces, at a distance from their own places of residence, without that circle where their personal and family influence may be excited to the prejudice of the Continent, and of this Province in particular, we have deemed it absolutely necessary for the publick safety to remove a body of men, whose residence fortune has cast in the very bowels of our country, and who, in common with ourselves, have shared the blessings which a mild and liberal Provincial system of laws, a benign climate, an increasing trade, that poured riches into the lap of our honest industry, the countenance and protection of their honest neighbours held forth to them with the most liberal hand. This misguided people, disregarding the duty which they owe to that country under the just and equal laws of which they have enjoyed protection, procured ample means of subsistence for themselves and their families, and possessed of a considerable property amongst us, were equally bound, by every tie, divine and human, to defend and maintain the cause of liberty, which, in common with ourselves, all virtuous men on this Continent, at the hazard of everything dear to them, are labouring at this day to defend. Those men, confederating with our unnatural enemies, and taking advantage of their residence


amongst us, and that confidence which such a relation necessarily created, have raised their hands against us, and endeavoured to imbrue them in the best blood of our fellow-citizens. God in his Providence hath hitherto defeated their wicked machinations, and after their having experienced a shameful defeat, hath put into our possession many of the principals of them, who, from the wickedness of their own hearts, and from the seduction of others, meant to have consigned this once flourishing Colony to the most abject slavery and oppression.

Those people, though subdued, still retain principles inimical to us; and are prompt, as soon as they shall be favoured by their situation, or the assistance of troops expected every day to invade this Colony, with a probability of succeeding, to attempt to carry their wishes into execution, and, co-operating with a merciless Administration, drench this Province in blood and slaughter.

These have been our motives for exercising a severity, which regard to the common safety, and that first principle of nature, self-preservation, prompted. Justice demanded it at our hands; and in the anguish of our hearts we lament the sad necessity which the frailties of our fellow-beings have allotted to our share; still we wish the reformation of those who, in this unhappy contest, are severed from us, and from those endearing ties which nature and social connexions have formed for them, and who still remain amongst us to lament the folly and wickedness of those whom we have removed from amongst them. To these we administer this consolation, that they may rest assured that no wanton acts of cruelty, no severity, shall be exercised to the prisoners; no restraints shall be Imposed upon them, but what shall be necessary to prevent their using their liberty to the injury of the friends of America.

We have their security in contemplation, not to make them miserable. In our power, their errors claim our pity, their situation disarms our resentment. We shall hail their reformation with increasing pleasure, and receive them to us with open arms. Then sincere contrition and repentance shall atone for their past conduct. Members of the same political body with ourselves, we feel the convulsion which such a severance occasions; and shall bless the day which shall restore them to us friends to liberty, to the cause of America, the cause of God and mankind.

We war not with the helpless females which they left behind them; we sympathize in their sorrow, and wish to pour the balm of pity into the wounds which a separation from husbands, fathers, and the dearest relations, have made. They are the rightful pensioners upon the charity and bounty of those who have aught to spare from their own necessities to the relief of their indigent fellow-creatures; to such we recommend them.

May the humanity and compassion which mark the cause we are engaged in, influence them to such a conduct as may call forth our utmost tenderness to their friends whom we have in our power. Much depends upon the future demeanour of the friends of the Insurgents who are left among us, as to the treatment our prisoners may experience. Let them consider these as hostages for their own good behaviour; and by their own merits make kind offices to their friends a tribute of duty as well as humanity from us, who have them in our power.

The Congress adjourned till to-morrow morning, nine o' clock.