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Camillus to the Printers of the Pennsylvania Gazette



Philadelphia, February 22, 1775.

GENTLEMEN: I rejoice to find that, in a Province distinguished for its progress in science and literature as Pennsylvania, the few sons of despotism are reduced to the pensioned pen of some ministerial hireling at Boston. Believe me, gentlemen, your Paper did not gain an extensive circulation from the gleanings of others; its value has been owing to the originality, as well as the elegance of its essays. Every Newspaper, from New-Hampshire to Georgia, (two at Boston, and one at New-York, excepted,) would furnish refutations of the re-publication in your last Paper, signed Phileirene. But I will not ask you to serve up to your readers, at second-hand, what will be more acceptable as an original, though of a coarser and humbler composition. I therefore beg leave to present to my fellow subjects and citizens.

The other side of the Question.

It is a just remark of the celebrated Chesterfield to his son, that grant him but two or three positions, and he would undertake, by fair inference, to prove that robbing on the highway is an honest, and ought to be a reputable calling. Happy would it be if the sacred rights of mankind were as safe in this respect, as the persons of individuals. But the superiour temptations to justify the invasion of the former, are too alluring not to afford melancholy proofs, in every age and Country, of a prostitution of the most shining talents, to gild the pill of arbitrary power and lawless domination. When we see a Bacon, a Milton, a Strafford, and Bolingbroke, sacrificing at their shrine, can we be surprised if men of such principles, but far inferiour abilities, should appear among us, with the Treasury of England in full view, and hearts panting to lord it over their fellow-men? Divine Providence has endowed the inhabitants of America with rational powers not inferiour to those of any other Country; it is but justice to say, they have generally improved them better than any other. By their good sense and judgment shall this author be tried, whose facts, modesty, style, accuracy, and precision, have been thought


worthy of a re-publication, which occupies half your last Paper, to the exclusion of all Foreign news, for which it has been distinguished. This fair structure is built on two principles.

1st. That the Americans have entire independence on the Mother Country in view, as the great object of their present contest.

2d. That all opposition to what is called Government, is rebellion.

Both these propositions are false and groundless; the writer was not able to prove, and therefore takes them for granted; but I may, with honest boldness, challenge him, or his adopting friend, to show, from the publick transactions of any Congress or Assembly throughout this great Continent, that such a claim was ever in their contemplation. Are the repeated and fervent acknowledgments of our allegiance to our common Sovereign; our submission to all his appointments of office, from the Governour to the lowest deputy' s deputy; to his negative upon all our laws; to his decisions in Council, as the dernier resort in the administration of justice, and the payment of quit-rents; I ask if these are the badges of independence? But they do not end here. With what exemplary patience and obedience have we submitted to the restraints of Trade, and even an abridgment of the common bounties of Heaven. The water is not permitted to flow, or the earth to produce, for the same beneficial purposes to the American as for the Briton, In a Country where the price of manual labour calls for the utmost exertion of art and ingenuity, we are restrained from slitting or rolling iron, so as to answer some of the most important purposes in life. These are restrictions to which we not only have submitted, but to which the great Council of America has professed its willingness to submit. With what shameless affrontery can any writer, therefore, charge the people of America with seeking independence, when every transaction of Government, of trade, of justice, and manufactures, originates, proceeds, or terminates under the control of Great Britain. But the thirst of power is so raging and insatiable, that it esteems nothing possessed, while any thing remains to be possessed; impatient of all restraints, its desires perpetually outrun its enjoyments, and it can be satisfied with nothing less than an entire and full surrender of the liberty and happiness of mankind. What use it has made of its acquisitions, let the deserted villages, ruined towns, and uncultivated fields of arbitrary Countries declare. If to live by one man' s will, would be all men' s misery, can we suppose that we shall derive any relief from the number of our tyrants, or that our burden would be lighter, because many hands were concerned in the imposition.

Our author' s next position is, that opposition of every kind to the powers set over us, however exercised, is rebellion. Those ornaments of human nature, Locke, Sydney, Hoadley, and many other illustrious names, have so refuted these absurd doctrines of passive obedience and non-resistance; and they are so repugnant to the common sense and happiness of mankind, that it would be an affront to the understandings of my countrymen to suppose they could now admit of a serious argument. If the good of the people is the end of all Government, if limitations of power have, by the experience of all ages, been found necessary for the safety of the governed, if a participation in legislation has been found to be the best and only limitation, with what pity and concern must we view that infatuation which can obtrude doctrines in America long since reprobated in Britain, as subversive of every principle of political safety and happiness. With men of such characters, the noble struggles of our ancestors against the prerogatives of the Crown were so many odious exertions of wickedness and folly. — Magna Charta, Trial by Juries, and exemption from arbitrary and perpetual imprisonment, are fruits of the most detestable impiety and treason; nay! the Resolution itself, as founded and formed by a resistance to that Government, but the basis and foundation of the present, was a successful rebellion. These are the stale artifices of our Court sycophants of every age. It would be an outrage upon the understandings, as well as rights of mankind, to call tyranny and slavery by their proper names, when they were seeking to establish them. Under the specious title of laws and Government, they hope to lull the vigilant, deter the timid, and damp the enterprising,


till the shackles are riveted on, and the deluded wretches find, too late, that the will of their masters is the only law, and oppression the only Government. To draw the line, I confess, is no easy task; but wherever legal Government ends, there tyranny most certainly begins. To show that this terminated as to the Colonies, in the year 1763, a period in which the independency of America was never thought of, and to which our highest hopes and ambition is to return; to enumerate the proofs, the odious, but indisputable proofs of this, and to show that our present opposition has every prospect of success, I must refer to another letter, lest I should exclude some more able writer, or incur my own censure. In the mean time, my dear countrymen and fellow-citizens, read the histories of those Countries which were once free; converse with those, (for we have many among us) who have fled hither from arbitrary States; acquaint yourselves with their ruinous taxes, their venal courts of justice, their merciless depredations upon the chastity, property, liberty, and happiness of their vassals; then reason, and judge, and if you are not lost to every sentiment of publick virtue, the honour of your country, and regard for yourselves and your posterity, your hearts will rise in grateful emotions to the Giver of all good gifts, that He has cast your lot in a land of freedom; and I trust you will mingle with them a humble but firm resolution, by His assistance, to transmit the blessings you have received, undiminished, to the latest posterity. "He that would give up essential liberty for temporary safety, deserves neither liberty nor safety." — This was the favourite motto of many in this City but a very few years since. A principle of action and duty, founded upon truth and reason, will ever continue the same, however the persons or occasions may change. Come forward then, ye staunch advocates for Provincial Liberty, support your principles — this was once your Law and your Prophets — be consistent — convince the world that you do not act upon the local views of a party, but upon the manly and generous principle of publick good, which upon all occasions leads you to sacrifice temporary ease to essential liberty.