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To the People of Pennsylvania



Permit me, my dear countrymen, to engage your attention for a moment, upon a subject of the last importance. I mean only to trouble you with a very few observations upon a publication in the Pennsylvania Journal of this week, which, under the plausible signature of A Lover of Order, is endeavouring to introduce into your Country a system of Government that will involve you in all the evils your enemies can wish to come upon you. I shall not hesitate to say, that the author of this essay is much more offended with the substance, of the Instructions given by our Assembly to the Pennsylvania Delegates, than with the measure itself. Had they prescribed a conduct directly opposite to what is so properly pointed out in them, no man can doubt but this Lover of Order would have submitted quietly to the breach of it, which he censures, and would gladly have seen that assumption of power which he now so boldly protests against; because, not used according to his destructive wishes, or to speak in the plain language which the times demand, I think it requires but little penetration to pronounce, that he has conceived the pernicious hope of seeing Great Britain and America in a state of separation. He cannot call this an unfair construction of his conduct, when he recollects, that of all the deviations from our Constitution into which the House has been driven by the unhappiness of our situation, that only is marked with his disapprobation, which interferes with the independent scheme. It will be needless to mention the many instances of this kind that have passed unnoticed by him since the commencement of our unhappy contest. Ill informed as he appears to be, they cannot have escaped him.

He acknowledges that, for the sake of convenience, he would consent that the Assembly should appoint the Delegates; surely then the same convenience would induce him to consent that they should instruct them, as it would be much more difficult for the people at large, in this extensive Province, to agree upon a set of rules for the government of their members in Congress, than to fix upon men who are equal to the execution of those directions. If in the latter case the difficulty is found too great to contend with, in the former it must be considerably increased, not to say quite insurmountable. But if the people think it proper to invest the House with the power of appointing members for the Congress, they ought also to suffer the same body to instruct them; because the English Constitution does, and reason always would permit instructions to be given to persons intrusted with any commission by those who appointed them to execute it. If our Assembly have not a right to instruct, they have not a right to appoint the Delegates; and, consequently, Pennsylvania has never joined her sister Colonies in any part of the present opposition, never having sent her Representatives to the Congress.

But this doctrine, your love of liberty and your understandings will forbid you to allow.

Another objection made to the Instructions is, that they are too positive, and couched in terms amounting to a command, which he would have you believe renders the design of appointing Delegates abortive, and makes them sit as mere ciphers among their brethren. In this place the intention of a Congress seems to be entirely forgot. If I remember rightly, it was instituted by all the Provinces, professedly, to obtain a redress of grievances, and to agree upon some plan of opposition to the tyranny with which Great Britain unhappily thought of distressing us. The exercise of this duty is left open as wide as ever, nay, it is enforced in the strongest terms. They are only forbid to accede to any proposition which may cause or lead to a separation from our Mother Country, or a change of the


form of Government. For the truth of this construction, I appeal to your judgment upon the words of the draught.

The dangerous arts of men of this cast are clearly shown in the attempts he makes to mislead your understandings, and to turn your just prepossessions in favour of our excellent form of Government into the means of overthrowing it. The Constitution of England, says he, decayed and complicated as it is, never suffers one House to instruct the other; neither doth it permit a person to sit in both Houses. The observation is true in both parts, and we shall no longer be freemen when it ceases to be so. But how or when can he mean to apply it. The cases are totally different, for two substantial reasons. In the first place, no other body can be found in the British Dominions which answers the description of the American Congress; because no part of them is in a situation to require the existence of such a body, except the Colonies. And, in the second place, neither the Congress, nor Pennsylvania House of Assembly, are formed upon the plan of the British House of Lords, where the members either inherit their seats, or are called into them by the King' s writs. The Lords and Commons of Great Britain are different bodies, with separate interests, in many respects, but so connected that one cannot act without the other, being designed as a check upon each other; but the interest of every American House of Assembly is entirely involved in that of the Congress, and though every reasonable man would wish them to agree in their resolutions, yet it is not absolutely necessary, as we see in the fatal instance of New-York. This remark, when submitted to the judgments of men who have not had an opportunity of making themselves acquainted with the nature of the bodies which are compared in it, may seem to imply what the author would infer from it, viz: that our Constitution will not admit an Assembly to instruct its members of the Congress; but I hope the falsity of the inference will be easily seen, through, when the cases are properly considered.

At the present juncture, when a petition from a few of the Friends has, to the eye of the world, given the false appearance of a disunion in our Province, we must esteem it a particular happiness, that we have a House of Assembly, which, from our Constitution, cannot be dissolved, and which coincides with the Congress in the opposition to an arbitrary Court. The resolves of a set of men, elected as they are, will ever be considered as conveying the true sentiments of the people they represent, notwithstanding the feigned language of non-resisting petitions, or the clamours of discontented Republicans.

It may be thought by many, that the little publication which I have ventured to comment upon could have no very dangerous tendency; but when I see that, inconsiderable as they really are, such pieces constantly attract the notice of Government, and have been made use of by a neighbouring Governour to support the false charge of independent designs in the people, I am induced to take more notice of them than they really deserve.

Our Representatives, my dear countrymen, have set us a noble example, in this respect at least; let us, therefore, join with them in endeavouring to convince our Sovereign and the world, that the accusation of our aiming at a separation from Great Britain is as false as our opposition to despotism has been true and spirited.


Philadelphia, November 25, 1775.