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Address to the Inhabitants of New-Jersey



New-Jersey, August 23, 1774.

FRIENDS AND COUNTRYMEN: In a late address to you I have endeavoured to distinguish between taxes and duties; that the former ought to be imposed on our estates by our own Representatives; that the latter cannot be properly laid by any authority but that of Great Britain. That we are a part of the Great British Empire, and without losing every idea of a Colony, we cannot claim an exemption from duties and restrictions on trade.

I now beg leave to add, that this country was settled for the sole purpose of trade; and an absolute submission to the laws of the mother country, in paying customs and duties, was one of the terms our forefathers settled under. When we consider the design in planting Colonies, we should not be too fond of our own opinions, but hearken to those men who have made this subject their study, and examined it fully.

The great author of the Spirit of Laws, often quoted by our political writers, has given us not only his own sentiments, but the policy in Europe, of making these sentiments. Speaking of Colonies in his second volume, book twenty-one, chapter seventeen, he says, "The Colonies they (the European Nations) have formed, are under a kind of dependence, of which their is scarcely an instance in all the Colonies of the ancients; whether we consider them as holding of the state itself, or of some trading company established in the state." Again: "The design of these Colonies is to trade on more advantageous conditions than could otherwise be done with the neighbouring people, with whom all advantages are reciprocal. It has been established, that the metropolis alone shall trade in the Colonies, and that from very good reason: because the design of the settlement was the extension of commerce, not the foundation of a new city, or a new Empire; thus it is a fundamental law of Europe, that all commerce with a foreign Colony shall be regarded as a mere monopoly, punishable by the laws of the country."

No man can read these sentiments without perceiving the good policy upon which they are founded; for us to judge rightly of them, we should divest ourselves of those


opinions we have been taught to entertain, and that ideal notion of empire, which some men among us, who have no "grace but what is founded in dominion," have been but too successful in propagating. When we do this the force of this author' s sentiments will appear strongly to us, and if not fully convinced by them, we shall become so, when we reflect that one of the conditions of our forefathers emigrating to this Colony, or rather having leave to do so, was among others, that "in managing and carrying on trade with the people there, and in passing and returning to and fro," the Colony "should yield and pay to us, our heirs and successors, the customs and duties therefore due and payable, according to the laws and customs of this our Realm."

These are the words of the first grant of this Colony, made by Charles the Second, and by the laws of trade passed in this King' s reign, which are looked upon as the palladium of British commerce, as well as other Acts. The British Legislature have always made the trade of the Colonies their object, and ever kept in view the first intention of settling them. Under these laws our forefathers settled and improved their plantations; under them they and we ourselves have happily lived and enjoyed all the liberty that men could or can wish, and may yet do it if we will refuse to hearken to the sedition, nay, treason, that is daily buzzed into our ears by men who do not design our happiness, but only study their own emolument. They tell us we are cramped in our trade, and that if we permit this duty another will follow, and another, until we are ruined and deprived of all liberty.

If we, my countrymen, have not a free trade with every Nation, remember that our forefathers settled here with this restraint, and that we are no losers by it, for in return we have been, and now are, "visibly compensated by the protection of the mother country," who has, and yet doth, defend us "by her arms, or supports us by her laws;" besides, my countrymen, as trade is the object of the mother country, we should remember that it is not her interest to destroy it, she will rather encourage it. It is true that duties will be laid for revenue or prohibition, but these will never be calculated to destroy trade; but to encourage beneficial, and destroy destructive commerce, by which the smuggler will be restrained, and the fair trader enjoy the fruits of his industry and honesty. But what right have we to enter into a quarrel about it? Let us remember our duty to the parent state, the terms on which our forefathers settled, lived, and prospered; under which we ourselves have grown rich and lived happily. Let us request the parent state to leave the taxation of our estates to our own Representatives, and, without a doubt, we may rely that Great Britain will never abridge us of our liberties, while we act within the sphere of our duty, and pursue not measures destructive of their commerce, and bid defiance to her laws.

I have hope (I wish I could say more) that the intended Congress will be productive of good to the Colonies. Should they calmly and without prejudice enter into a consideration of the dispute with the mother country, they have it in their power to preserve our liberties, and restore harmony between the Colonies and the mother state. But should they listen to, and be governed by, the folly of the times, and think that these Colonies were not planted nor protected for the extension of commerce, but for a new Empire, then will our once happy country become a scene of blood and distraction; we can have no recourse but to arms, and alas how shall we face the force of our mother country in the day of trial, when roused by our repeated insults, and enraged by our avowed declarations against her authority, "her fleets and armies siege our cities, stop our trade, and we, by conquest, are reduced to a state our mother country will even be grieved to see."



This is the language of the ancients in the state which founded the Colony.