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Meeting of the North American Merchants


A Speech intended to have been spoken at the Meeting of the NORTH AMERICAN Merchants, at the King' s Arms Tavern, JANUARY 4, 1775.

The great and important business you are here convened upon, cannot, I presume, be conducted well in so large a body as I see here met at present; therefore, I suppose you will appoint a Committee; and lest I should not be present when you have determined on those who are to compose it, I beg leave to recommend to those gentlemen all that coolness and deliberation which the importance of the object demands, and to bear always in mind that every resolution which irritates, disserves any cause, as violence destroys it; witness the late violent measures at Boston, respecting the Tea. The whole world condemned the outrage, in consequence of which Parliament passed an Act to block up the Port of Boston; and lest that should not be sufficient to inflame the neighbouring Colonies, the same power takes away the Charter, mutilates the whole form of Government of Massachusetts Bay, and, to complete all, presents our new Canadian subjects, purely to oblige them, with a code of Laws as near to those of France as could possibly be framed.

You see, then, gentlemen, how violence produces violence; notwithstanding which, it is hardly to be believed that three or four hundred people should consent to such measures; but it so happened. Now, gentlemen, I will speak a few words on the subject of your meeting.

If you had petitioned Parliament last Spring against those ruinous Acts which then passed, I should now have been against any petition; nor indeed is it clear to me that it is at this time expedient; but as so many respectable gentlemen think it ought to be done, I entirely acquiesce, in expectation, that a new Parliament, which I am told is composed of wise men, honest men, and of men who are open to conviction, which I think there is not a gentleman present will or can say of the last. I say, gentlemen, if you had then petitioned against those ruinous Acts, you ought now to leave the authors of them to get out of the pit they had dug for themselves, as well as they could; but as, by your silence, if you did not aid them, you did not warn them of the danger, you ought now, as good Christians, to lend Administration your hand to get out of that dismal hole into which the rashness of the last Parliament has precipitated it. On this principle I am for an humble petition, as an excuse for their undoing that which no wise Administration would have ventured to propose, much less to have carried it to so ruinous a length. I say, gentlemen, as an excuse; for if I am informed right, that is all Administration wants. But I beg, gentlemen, that neither in your petition nor advice, if asked by men of power, that you require less than a repeal of all the Acts passed last year respecting America, as well as the remains of that impolitick one passed in 1767, which laid a duty of three pence per pound on Tea. This being done, I will venture to engage, and so will every one present who is fully acquainted with the disposition of the Colonists, that peace and good order will soon be re-established, and that love and brotherly affection, restored, which subsisted at the Conclusion of the late war between the mother country and the Colonies, besides our having any reasonable pecuniary assistance in their power, which this Kingdom shall require or Stand in need of from them.