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To General Burgoyne



Philadelphia, June 16, 1775.

SIR: Your accession to a command upon this side the Atlantick must necessarily engage the attention of America. A gay sparkler from the parade of St˙ James' s may attract the eye of the young and inexperienced; but when the real Soldier and the able Senator appears, these little meteors must die away, whilst a different class of men mark the latter' s conduct with determined circumspection. If brave, he is humane; if worthy the seat he fills in the legislature, he will not suffer his idea of promoting his Country' s welfare to be circumscribed by any partial, local boundaries. If thus brave and wise, he will love valour and freedom, and endeavour to kindle these glorious emanations of virtue in every bosom. The temple of Liberty fills all space, and the great and good of every age have been the willing votaries to sacrifice at her altar.

It appears, Sir, that you have considered the grand American question; "real and virtual representation," external and internal laxes, "revenue and regulation," are not with you novel ideas. I cannot suppose your "understanding confounded," or your "head dizzy with these distinctions;" though you seem willing to consider them as "rhetorical and sophistical," while you view "the Declaratory


Act of the sixth of the present King" as the solemn line by which your judgment is to be bounded, and beyond which your researches must not presume to soar. Have he Parliament of England, Sir, never been mistaken? re they infallible? No, Sir. We know there existed laws or the punishment of witchcraft, but true philosophy haying exploded that errour, the wisdom of succeeding times repealed those statutes. The halcyon days of George the Second broke that supposed subjection to the powers of darkness. Forbid it, Heaven, that a more gloomy infatuation should be cloud the reign of George the Third. You view "the Government" of England as "suspended," the Parliament a phantom, the mere shadow of authority, assembled only to lament a substance lost, and to propose and subtilize questions of their own impotency. "Was this the case, I should agree" with you, that the state of Britain was wretched indeed, and that she was about "reverting to her primitive insignificancy in the map of the world." But, Sir, can any Government be suspended, when every branch of authority the Constitution warrants her to exercise is acknowledged and obeyed — when she is only restrained from putting in effect what she has no right to attempt? Were the powers granted to James the Second by the Constitution, resumed by that source from whence they sprung", because the virtue of our ancestors would not permit him to suspend acts of Parliament, violate Charters, and introduce Popery? Had that deluded man made the line of the Constitution the path of his obedience, he would not have had cause to lament the substance he lost, or sat torpid at St˙ Germaine' s, subtilizing questions of his own impotency.

Wisdom and goodness flee every species of deception. Suffer not yourself to be deceived. "The Congress of Philadelphia" is not "the legislature to dispense the blessings of Empire;" it is composed of gentlemen met, by the appointment of the freemen of America, to devise the most probable schemes for cementing the Parent State and all her blooming Colonies in the firmest band of union; such an union as may make the most happy Nation of the earth, and transmit its glory and freedom to the latest time. Their intention is "to spare the blood of their fellow-subjects;" "to spare the treasures of the State;" and, in concert with Britain, to erect an Empire on the firm basis of the Constitution, that shall survive until time shall be no more.

In addressing you, I hope, Sir, nothing has or may fall from my pen to injure the sacred cause of my Country, or to disgust yourself. The language of freedom, as a mother tongue, I must adopt, whilst the walk of abuse or offensive personality shall be entirely unoccupied by