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Proposed Vindication and Offer to Parliament, Drawn up in a Committee of Congress, June 25, 1775



Forasmuch as the enemies of America in the Parliament of Great Britain, to render us odious to the Nation, and give an ill impression of us in the minds of other European Powers, have represented us as unjust and ungrateful in the highest degree; asserting on every occasion that the Colonies were settled at the expense of Britain; that they were, at the expense of the same, protected in their infancy; that they now ungratefully and unjustly refuse to contribute to their own protection, and the common defence of the Nation; that they aim at independence; that they intend an abolition of the Navigation Acts; and that they are fraudulent in their commercial dealings, and propose to cheat their creditors in Britain by avoiding the payment of their just debts

And as by frequent repetition these groundless assertions and malicious calumnies may, if not contradicted and


refuted, obtain farther credit, and be injurious throughout Europe to the reputation and interest of the Confederate Colonies, it seems proper and necessary to examine them in our own just vindication.

With regard to the first, that the Colonies were settled at the expense of Britain, it is a known fact that none of the twelve United Colonies were settled, or even discovered, at the expense of England. Henry the Seventh indeed granted a commission to Sebastian Cabot, a Venetian, and his sons, to sail into the Western Seas for the discovery of new countries; but it was to be "suis eorum propriis sumptibus et expensis," at their own costs and charges. They discovered, but soon slighted and neglected, these Northern Territories, which were, after more than a hundred years dereliction, purchased of the natives, and settled at the charge and by the labour of private men and bodies of men, our ancestors, who came over hither for that purpose. But our adversaries have never been able to produce any record, that ever the Parliament, or Government, of England was at the smallest expense on these accounts; on the contrary, there exists on the Journals of Parliament a solemn declaration in 1642, (only twenty-two years after the first settlement of the Massachusetts, when, if such expense had ever been incurred, some of the members must have known and remembered it,) "that these Colonies had been planted and established without any expense to the State." New-York is the only Colony, in the founding of which England can pretend to have been at any expense, and that was only the charge of a small armament to take it from the Dutch, who planted it. But to retain this Colony at the peace, another, at that time full as valuable, planted by private countrymen of ours, was given up by the Crown to the Dutch, in exchange, viz: Surinam, now a wealthy sugar Colony in Guiana, and which, but for that cession, might still have remained in our possession. Of late, indeed, Britain has been at some expense in planting two Colonies — Georgia and Nova-Scotia; but those are not in our confederacy, and the expense she has been at in their name has chiefly been in grants of sums unnecessarily large, by way of salaries to officers sent from England, and in jobs to friends, whereby dependants might be provided for, those excessive grants not being requisite to the welfare and good government of the Colonies; which good government (as experience in many instances of other Colonies has taught us) may be much more frugally, and full as effectually, provided for and supported.

With regard to the second assertion, that these Colonies were protected in their infant state by England, it is a notorious fact, that in none of the many wars with the Indian natives, sustained by our infant settlements for a century after our first arrival, were ever any troops or forces of any kind sent from England to assist us; nor were any forts built at her expense to secure our seaports from foreign invaders; nor any ships-of-war sent to protect our trade, till many years after our first settlement, when our commerce became an object of revenue, or of advantage to British. merchants; and then it was thought necessary to have a frigate in some of our ports, during peace, to give weight to the authority of Custom-House, Officers, who were to restrain that commerce for the benefit of England. Our own arms, with our poverty, and the care of a kind Providence, were all this time our only protection; while we were neglected by the English Government, which either thought us not worth its care, or, having no good will to some of us, on account of our different sentiments in religion and politicks, were indifferent what became of us. On the other hand, the Colonies have not been wanting to do what they could in every war for annoying the enemies of Britain. They formerly assisted her in the conquest of Nova-Scotia. In the war before last, they took Louisbourgh, and put it into her hands. She made her peace with that strong fortress, by restoring it to France, greatly to their detriment. In the last war, it is true, Britain sent a fleet and army, who acted with an equal army of ours, in the reduction of Canada; and, perhaps, thereby did more for us, than we, in the preceding wars, had done for


her. Let it be remembered, however, that she rejected the, plan we formed in the Congress at Albany, in 1754, for our own defence, by an union of the Colonies — an union she was jealous of, and therefore chose to send her own forces; otherwise, her aid, to protect us, was not wanted. And from our first, settlement to that time, her military operations in our favour were small, compared with the advantages she drew from her exclusive commerce with us. We are, however, willing to give full weight to this obligation; and as we are daily growing stronger, and our assistance to her becomes of more importance, we would, with pleasure, embrace the first opportunity of showing our gratitude, by returning the favour in kind. But when Britain values herself as affording us protection, we desire it may be considered that we have followed her in all her wars, and joined with her, at our own expense, against all she thought fit to quarrel with. This she has required of us, and would never permit us to keep peace with any Power she declared her enemy; though, by separate treaties, we might well have done it. Under such circumstances, when at her instance we made nations our enemies whom we might otherwise have retained our friends, we submit it to the common sense of mankind, whether her protection of us in these wars was not our just due, and to be claimed of right, instead of being received as a favour? And whether, when all the parts of an Empire exert themselves to the utmost in their common defence, and in annoying the common enemy, it is not as well the parts that protect the whole, as the whole that protects the parts? The protection, then, has been proportionably mutual. And whenever the time shall come that our abilities, may as far exceed hers as hers have exceeded ours, we hope we shall be reasonable enough to rest satisfied with her proportionable exertions, and not think we do too much for a part of the Empire, when that part does as much as it can for the whole.

The charge against us, that we refuse to contribute to our own protection, appears from the above to be groundless. But we further declare it to be absolutely false; for it is well known, that we ever held it our duty to grant aids to the Crown, upon requisition, towards carrying on its wars; which duty we have cheerfully complied with, to the utmost of our abilities; insomuch that frequent and grateful acknowledgments thereof by King and Parliament appear On their records. But as Britain has enjoyed a most gainful monopoly of our commerce, the same, with our maintaining the dignity of the King' s representative in each Colony, and all our own separate establishments of Government, civil and military, has ever hitherto been deemed an equivalent for such aids as might otherwise be expected from us in time of peace. And we hereby declare, that on a reconciliation with Britain, we shall not only continue to grant aids in time of war, as aforesaid, but whenever she shall think fit to abolish her monopoly, and give us the same privileges of trade as Scotland received at the union, and allow us a free commerce with all the rest of the world, we shall willingly agree (and we doubt not it will be ratified by our constituents) to give and pay into the Sinking Fund £100,000 sterling per annum, for the term of one hundred years; which duly, faithfully and inviolably applied to that purpose, is demonstrably more than sufficient to extinguish all her present national debt, since it will in that time amount, at legal British interest, to more than £230,000,000.

But if Britain does not think fit to accept this proportion, we, in order to remove her groundless jealousies that we aim at independence, and an abolition of the Navigation Act, (which hath in truth never been our intention,) and to avoid all future disputes, about the right of making that and other acts for regulating our Commerce, do hereby declare ourselves ready and willing to enter into a covenant with Britain, that she shall fully possess, enjoy, and exercise that right for a hundred years to come; the same being bona fide used for the common benefit. And in case of such agreement, that every Assembly be advised by us to confirm it solemnly by laws of their own, which once made cannot be repealed without the assent of the Crown.


The last charge, that we are dishonest traders, and aim at defrauding our creditors in Britain, is sufficiently and authentically refuted by the solemn declarations of the British merchants to Parliament, (both at the time of the Stamp Act, and in the last session,) who bore ample testimony to the general good faith and fair dealing of the Americans, and declared their confidence in our integrity; for which we refer to their petitions on the Journals of the House of Commons. And we presume we may safely call on the body of the British tradesmen, who have had experience of both, to say, whether they have not received much more punctual payment from us than they generally have from the members of their own two Houses of Parliament.

On the whole of the above, it appears that the charge of ingratitude towards the Mother Country, brought with so much confidence against the Colonies, is totally without foundation; and that there is much more reason for retorting that charge on Britain, who not only never contributes any aid, nor affords, by an exclusive commerce, any advantages to Saxony, her mother country; but no longer since than in the last war, without the least provocation, subsidized the King of Prussia while he ravaged that mother country, and carried fire and sword into its capital, the fine City of Dresden — an example we hope no provocation will induce us to imitate.



* Journals of the House of Commons, on the 4th of April, 1748; 38th January, 1756; 3d February, 1756; 16th and 19th of May, 1757; 1st of June, 1758; 26th and 30th of April, 1759; 26th and 31st of March, and 28th of April, 1760; 9th and 20th of January, 1761; 25d and 26th of January, 1762; and 11th and 17th of March, 1763,