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To the People of Massachusetts



Salem, Massachusetts, Septembers, 1775.

If we recollect in what manner the servants of the best of Princes, and particularly his late faithful Governour of this Province, have been constantly employed, we shall have little reason to be surprised at any condition of disgrace by which the once respected name of Englishmen may be degraded. That unfortunate gentleman, whose signal fidelity and good services will forever endear him to the most gracious Prince who governs this part of his Dominions with such satisfaction to his subjects, has, I trust, by this time established a durable reputation. This Country, I think, will remember his affection for its peace, his piety and zeal in office, with peculiar justice. His Majesty' s righteous Ministers are bound to regard him with particular attention. He has laboured more abundantly than they all. Without regarding the opinion of his friends or the censure of the world, he has sacrificed his virtue to merit their esteem. His religious principles have been uniform. I am convinced they were always the very same they are at present. They have been wonderfully serviceable. By these his distinguished zeal in support of the claims of the British Legislature, which he constantly condemned to his friends, and once publickly opposed, though seemingly inconsistent with principles of honesty, may be fairly reconciled. The end, if we acknowledge his divinity, will forever sanctify the means, and murder, on certain occasions, may be lawful. Upon these principles I account for the murders in King-street, the benevolent idea of abridging English liberties, and the present situation of this Country. But this language is too mild for the occasion. Every unwarrantable exertion of Parliamentary power, every scheme hitherto adopted for subjugating the Colonies, has been carefully pointed out by him. In consequence of his earnest repeated solicitations, the Constitution of this Province has been torn up from the foundation; our coasts infested with ships of war; our commerce obstructed; the Metropolis forced from our hands, garrisoned, and fortified; the inhabitants oppressed and reduced to beggary; the Continent forced to arms; the liberties of America endangered, and the lives of three


thousand of His Majesty' s subjects wantonly destroyed. The best of Princes has been advised to consent to acts which disgrace his royal character, and violate the first principles of justice and humanity; which have already involved the Nation in blood, disaffected his subjects, and will finally dismember his Empire and shake his Throne. This is strong language, but it is supported by fact and argument. I appeal to the confidential letters of his late trusty and well beloved Governour, for a full explanation of that deep plan of policy which has duped the best of Princes, and degraded the honour of his arms. His Majesty' s faithful servants adopted it with all its blunders; they never gave themselves leisure to obtain solid information, nor once reflected on the danger of their enterprise; they embarked in the cause with their usual intrepidity, with a fixed determination to persist, though the interests of the Nation should be sacrificed forever in the contest. The system of Government is uniform. Dissipation and luxury can only be supported by plunder and oppression. But these ignorant men should be informed that plunder and oppression will rouse the whelp of the British lion in the woods of America.

But this is not the subject which it is the design of this paper to illustrate. The short recapitulation I have made of the state of the Colonies, and the affection hitherto discovered for their real interest, by our most gracious Sovereign and his favourite servants, was necessary to introduce the consideration of future probable measures. Past kind offices may be considered as ominous, especially if they have been constantly and uniformly bestowed.

There is a certain period in the annals of every Nation, when the collected virtue and abilities of every member of the community should be exerted to defend its rights; when the people should be roused to a sense of their danger, and animated to adopt such measures as will issue in the free and full enjoyment of those rights of nature and society which every man is fairly entitled to. Were I called upon to point out that interesting period in the history of this Country, the present alarming era would fix my attention. We have it now in our hands to establish an everlasting barrier against ministerial influence, and to obtain substantial justice for the people. I mean by carrying back the Constitutions of the several Colonies to their original principles; by vesting the appointment of all legislative, judicial, and executive officers in that branch of Government which can best exert it for the publick service, and with the least diminution of legal liberty; and by immediately exercising the power thus established. Until this be done, we can have no consistent plan of defence, no solid resources in case of sudden emergencies. We must be governed by temporary expedients, and upon every unexpected measure be disconcerted, and finally ruined. I know it may be said that we have prospects of accommodation, and that it may not be necessary to adopt a regular system. This opinion is as fatal as it is groundless. I would not preclude the possibility of a compromise. I confess that I feel the prejudices of my education in favour of a settlement with Great Britain upon honourable terms. But when I reflect that the villain who fomented quarrels among the Colonies, and earnestly pressed that Boston should be made a solemn sacrifice to gratify his resentment; who procured this Province to be disfranchised, and the inhabitants to be wantonly destroyed; when I consider that this man is still consulted upon every measure respecting his Country; that his opinion is invariably pursued, and that he attempts to conceal his crimes from the eye of the publick, by ardent professions of love for his native soil, and zeal for the, religion of his fathers, I cannot but suspect some mischievous scheme is in agitation to destroy all the privileges of the people. I own, too, that I am not yet sanguine enough to expect a more plentiful harvest of ministerial virtue in one year than another. We have been witnesses of the flagitious attempts which have been repeatedly made, and obstinately persisted in, to establish a Government in this Province arbitrary upon the face of it, and notoriously under the influence of the Crown. I affirm that we have no reasonable ground to suppose that these attempts are yet laid aside; on the contrary, from the evidence before us, we ought to be assured that they are not. Why are the avowed enemies of the people caressed? Why are all the Powers in Europe meanly requested to


assist in our destruction, by refusing us supplies? Why have not our petitions, resolves, and remonstrances, roused the best of Princes from his lethargy? But why this ridiculous mention of the King? Is he ever consulted? Has he any opinion of his own? Was he ever permitted to bestow a single mark of his royal favour upon this Country? No. His favours have a different direction. That noxious northern planet which spreads plague and pestilence wherever its influence extends, absorbs the royal munificence. The friends of the people have nothing to expect but silence and contempt from the private virtues of their Sovereign. His publick virtues have long since ceased to be in question. It is, therefore, no longer for the interest of the people to renounce the benefits of society, under a vain expectation of a change of publick measures. I appeal to past experience and present appearances when I affirm that it is the design of Administration to persist with obstinacy, but not to act with vigour. The one is perfectly consistent with the uniform plan of the cabinet. To adopt violent measures would alarm the body of the people, who are too brave to permit the inhabitants of America to be sacrificed upon the altar of despotism. I repeat it, we have nothing to expect from the Ministry but fraudulent designs upon the liberties of this Country. Why are the Troops under General Gage continually re-enforced? Why do they remain inactive within Boston? Why is our commerce distressed, our seamen dragged out of our ships, and our coasts plundered? The intentions of the Ministry are not pacifick. Their virtues are cunning and perseverance; they have adopted a plan, and they will obstinately pursue it. They avoid the preparations for a vigorous war, for fear of sounding an alarm to the people of Great Britain. By piratical acts of hostility upon the coasts here, the brave Troops of the first Monarch in Europe are tolerably well supplied, his dastard Colonists are frighted and distressed, and the administration of his Ministers, instead of appearing contemptible in his own eyes and ridiculous to the whole world, seems to the most gracious Prince upon the throne to be directed by more than human wisdom. But piracy alone is not the grand object which engrosses the attention of His Majesty' s servants. They wait for some favourable event to crown all their schemes. They expect this event in the disunion of the Colonies. To accomplish it, every possible mode, by threats, promises, persuasions, and bribery, is anxiously improved, at the expense of the whole national interest. They know that a confederacy between many distinct States is seldom of long duration. The seeds of dissension are many. The difficulty of keeping a large body of Troops in the field without action is unavoidable is the consequences are too often fatal.

These are the dangers we have to fear, and this is the moment to repel them. The scene, in the course of a few months, may be fatally changed; the advantage thrown away; the most favourable opportunity lost. Hereafter we shall know the value of it. When time and difficulties damp the ardour of our Troops, and disaffection or backwardness prevails among the Colonies; when the Minister has completed his preparations; when the collected force of foreign invasion and domestick troubles attacks us at once, every man will then be able to determine of the wisdom or folly of past measures. It is said that by the delay of the Minister our Troops will be disciplined and the officers acquire experience; that there is not the most distant prospect of a disunion. To this I answer generally: that human affairs are perpetually fluctuating, and a good citizen would wish to guard against every possible contingence that might prove fatal to the community, were it to happen. That our Troops want discipline and the officers experience, and that they will acquire both by delay, I confess to be true. I am ready to acknowledge real advantages; but these are overbalanced by greater impending mischiefs. The state of things is much altered in this Country since it first became necessary to oppose the enormous influence of the Crown. We have nothing to apprehend from violent exertions on the side of the Minister, but every thing from delay and political cunning. Formerly it was the intent of the people to petition, remonstrate, and ascertain their privileges. At present it is not only their interest, but I hold it essentially necessary to the preservation of the rights of America, that such steps be


instantly taken as will restore them to the benefits of Constitutional Government in all its branches; and that they improve offensively the natural advantages of their situation. Upon the same principle that I would have opposed the taking up arms and assuming the powers of Government six months ago, I now insist that the first be not employed, or rather neglected, for the service of the enemy, and that Government be instantly established in all its parts, upon principles of publick good. It is indifferent to me whether the Minister carries his point by violence, or whether, by holding out the olive branch in one hand, while he manages the war with the other, he accomplishes the same pernicious designs. In either case, I consider him as a dangerous enemy, who ought to be attacked.

I do not mean to point out any particular mode of attack or defence; I leave it to those of greater abilities — to publick councils. I give my opinion to the people, as one of the people. I only affirm, in general, that we have nothing to expect from the best of Princes, or his virtuous servants, but war. I have endeavoured to confirm my opinion by recollecting past events, by bringing the various appearances of the political world into one point of view. I have said that this is the moment to obtain substantial justice for the people; that it ought to be improved; and, were I to give my opinion upon the subject, I should say, in general terms, that I would have all the members of the community instantly employed for the common weal, in departments to which their various abilities are best adapted. That all, or as many as possible, of our sea-ports be thrown into a posture of defence, and the people constantly used to arms. That vessels of force be immediately fitted out from, the several ports upon the Continent, to protect our trade, and drive from our coasts the thousand armed tenders that infest the seas and seize our merchantmen; and that we be no longer guilty of delay.