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An Earnest Appeal to the People



Philadelphia, February 12, 1776.

I cannot recall an idea to my mind more amazingly absurd and stupid, than the idea of Lord North' s second attempt to gull the Colonists into a belief of his inclination to hold out to them terms of a safe and amicable reconciliation with Great Britain. No one is ignorant that the Americans hare offered everything that can possibly be devised, to bury the injurious and enslaving claim of Administration in perpetual oblivion, and leave matters on the same footing they were before the pretence was held up. Those generous proposals, however often repeated, have as often been rejected with an insolent contempt; and yet,


the profound politician tells his opponents in the British House of Commons, that he is heartily inclined to a reconciliation with the Colonies, and willing to put them in the situation they so passionately desire; that is, (says he to a Courtier demanding explanation,) in a slate of absolute dependance on the British Parliament in all cases whatsoever; for, says his Lordship, they were unquestionably thus dependant in 1763.

Had his Lordship entirely forgot the success of his former experiments, perhaps a trial of the same wretched trick over again, might have appeared less ridiculous; I may, indeed, say, less insulting to the lowest understanding. I would ask the most credulous votary for making up the dispute, what possible grounds they perceive to found their expectation of a permanent reconciliation upon? Has any thing lately turned up which has indicated a change of disposition in the Prince or his favourites? Can a majority which have been secured from one seven years to another, by pure force of corruption, be depended on to remain firm to a slaughtering, plundering, and desolating Court, and share the detestation of present and future ages for mere nothing? Has the Court resolved to cast Bernard, Hutchinson and daughter, Richardson, the murderer, crazy John Malcolm, and Richardson, the recent volunteer, out on the community? I tell you nay.

You have a fresh instance of the firmness of the Cabinet, in adding another three thousand pound pensioner to the list, in a conjuncture when all mankind will confess there is need of saving. These burdensome pensions must come from some part of the dominions. If Great Britain and Ireland have conceived such a mortal hatred to America that they can hug her most inveterate enemies in their bosom, and vote them such munificent rewards for drawing her into so destructive a civil war, we cannot be safe in the power of such enemies. If they abound in resources as largely as Mr˙ Wedderburne and others boast they do, let them cease complaining of their poverty, and contentedly discharge their own national debt, rather than go on augmenting it by their efforts to saddle it, with an unlimited pension list, on America.

Does the nation bear the weight of the present unnatural quarrel with America, on other terms than a firm assurance of the Court that millions of leading men' s dependants shall be provided for in America, for whom places can by no means be found at home. Is not the very genius of the people of Great Britain and Ireland corrupted, insomuch that the views of young fellows of education, or any connexion with men of note, are altogether set on publick money? Can our peaceable men indulge a gleam of hope that this humour will alter, or that youths, bred in idleness and dissipation, will become industrious and disinterested patriots? If not, they must then be so weak as to conceit that Ministers will become less fond of fingering the publick money, and securing themselves in places of power and profit by means of it — indeed, that they will become more honest and saving of the national money than those the Constitution has appointed as a check upon them.

It is no wonder they tell of sending a formidable fleet and army to bring over their terms of reconciliation, when they are in no one article different from the terms they first aimed to impose. Had the Minister, or more properly the obstinate author of all our troubles, had the remotest idea of favouring us with a Government of laws, which had any respect to the security of our lives and properties, he had long since granted, with a good grace, petitions, made and repeated with the most dutiful and persevering affection, which asked for nothing more? Sed out Caesar out nullus, seems the unalterable determination of the man, who soothed our already elated expectations, by an inaugural declaration that he gloried in the name of Briton, then a distinctive characteristick of the patrons of universal liberty. If, therefore, the whole body of the governing and influential part of the governed, in Great Britain, be unalterably set upon extorting tribute from the Colonies; and the belter to secure the collection of it, claims right to impose laws, and executors of those laws, dependant only on themselves for appointment, continuance; and support, and all these to be extended at their sole pleasure, it may readily be determined in what condition the absolutely passive subjects of such an unnatural usurpation would quickly be. It is evident they have concluded on two things, viz:


to make a bold push for our entire subjection, as their ends would be thereby more readily answered; but that being found impracticable, we are to be tried with negotiation, in which all the craft, duplicity, and punick faith of Administration is to be expected. Pray God, it may be wisely and firmly guarded against! The honourable and worthy John Collins, Esq˙, of Newport, Rhode-Island, on the arrival of Lorth North' s last conciliatory plan, observed, that notwithstanding the exposure of his large estate to whatever depredations the enemy saw fit to make upon it, he was more concerned for the probable success of their arts than arms. Had the Americans in general the wisdom and firmness of that gentleman, matters would never have come to the present melancholy lengths we find them. However, in the great and general plan of Him who putteth down and setteth up States, this is, doubtless, an indispensable part, and, therefore, not to be complained of; but it has amazed me to contemplate the numerous instances of disappointment our enemies have met with in every plot they have laid for our destruction. How did Bernard and Hutchinson flatter themselves with the number of friends they had in several towns of the Massachusetts, and thought that a very trifling force from the other side of the water, added to their minions, dependants, and expectants, would crush a little turbulent faction who disturbed their darling measures? Certainly, men intoxicated with a lust of absolute power, found something in the appearance of things to tole them on to an object so grateful to their fondest wishes; otherwise they would have been contented to augment and Confirm their power by such unperceived degrees, that the happy days many tell us we have enjoyed under a continually invading usurpation, would not yet have been so sensibly interrupted. No less has the so often extolled Governour Tryon been disappointed in his benevolent intentions, respecting New-York. His band on Long-Island, and on the east side of Hudson' s River, with Sir John Johnson among his vassals, and the Indians, gave him great hopes of having matters in a fine train before the invincible Armada arrived in the Spring; instead of which, it is probable the active General Lee will so fortify that place, that all the force they can spend against it will be insufficient to reduce it. Dunmore, with all his wanton ravage, has done little more than exasperate the Virginians, and convinced that brave Colony, that they can be formidable to Savages on the east, as well as the west side of their Dominion. Carleton' s Canadians make no such figure in the harangues of the pensioner, as they did last year; and in case foreigners are to be procured to be poured in upon us, the greatest opposers of our total separation from Britain acknowledge they would then no longer defer a declaration of independency, and application to other powers for their protection. To this the whole scene appears rapidly advancing, in my view, as hastily as Infinite Wisdom thinks proper to conduct it; and if this be His most gracious design, He will work, and none shall hinder.