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To the Inhabitants of New-Jersey



Friends and Fellow-Subjects:

How fashionable soever might have been the doctrine of passive obedience and non-resistance in those dark times of ignorance and barbarism, when the laity had no more instruction than to repeat the Lord' s prayer, nor the clergy any more reading than would save them from hanging; it is, in this lettered and enlightened age, so generally exploded, that save a few Tories, who are pensioned out of their consciences, or a few gowns and cassocks who are looking for an American mitre, no man is fond of broaching so gross an absurdity. It is certainly the voice of unbiased, uncorrupted reason, that whatever one man has a right to enjoy, no other man has a right to take from him; and that, consequently, the first has an undoubted right to repel the invasion of the latter. And what does it matter whether this invasion is made under the character of king, highwayman, or robber? since it is not from the person of the invader, but from the nature of the invasion itself, that the injury receives its complexion, and on which the right of the resistance is founded. And as this is the undoubted right of all mankind, it is, with respect to Englishmen, reduced to absolute certainty by a most memorable clause in the Great Charter, whereby four out of twenty-five Barons may show the King his miscarriage; and on his not amending it, may, with the residue of the twenty-five and commonalty, redress themselves by force. It is true the Americans have no Barons to shew the King his miscarriage; but the Barons appointed for that purpose by Magna Charta being thereto appointed as representatives of the people aggrieved, it is evident, from the nature of our local circumstances, that we must have a right to appoint, in the room of such Barons, a representation for the same purpose; and that such representatives must have the same right to lay our grievances before the throne, and the aggrieved, in default of redress by the Prince, have a right, in the same manner, to redress themselves. In the light of this representation I consider the Continental Congress, being expressly chosen to present our grievances to His Majesty, and to supplicate him to remove our complaints. To this purpose they are undoubtedly the Barons of North-America, on whom the united confederated Colonies depend for counsel and protection, agreeable to the security granted to the subjects by the 64th section of Magna Charta above referred to, and which, it being probably in few of your hands, I choose to give you at large:

The Security for the Rights, Privileges, and Immunities of Magna Charta.

Section 64. "And whereas we have granted all these things for God' s sake, and for the amendment of our Government, and for the better compromising the discord arisen betwixt us and our Barons, we, willing that the same be firmly held and established forever, do make and grant our Barons the security underwritten, to wit: that the Barons shall choose five-and-twenty Barons of the Realm, whom they list, who shall, to their utmost power, keep, and hold, and cause to be kept, the peace and liberties which we have granted and confirmed by this our present Charter; insomuch, that if we or our justice, or our bailiff, or any of our ministers act contrary to the same, in any thing against any person, or offend against any article of this peace and security, and such our miscarriage be shown to four Barons of the said five-and-twenty, those four Barons shall come to us, or to our justice if we be out of the Realm, and shew us our miscarriage, and require us to amend the same without delay; and if we do not amend it, or if we be out of the Realm, our justice do not amend it within forty days after the same is shewn to us, or to our justice if we be out of the Realm, then the said four Barons shall report the same to the residue of the said five-and-twenty Barons, and then those five-and-twenty Barons, with the commonalty of England, may distress us by all the ways they can, to wit: by seizing on our castles, lands, and possessions, and by what other means they can, till it be amended, as they shall judge, saving our own person, the person of our Queen, and the persons of our children; and when it is amended, they shall be subject to us as before; and whoever of the Realm will, may swear that, for the performance of these things, he will obey the commands of the said five-and-twenty Barons, and that together with them,


he will distress us to his power; and we will give publick and free leave to swear, to all that will swear, and will never hinder any one; and for all persons of the Realm, that of their own accord will swear to the said five-and-twenty Barons, to distress us, we will issue our presents, commanding them to swear as aforesaid."

This, my countrymen, is the security granted to you and me, and by this are confirmed all the rights and privileges of an English subject, and which the present Administration seem determined to destroy. It may, indeed, be said, that we do not belong to the Massachusetts-Bay, and that New-Jersey is not attacked. But can you be so supine as to suppose that you will continue to enjoy those inestimable rights of Magnet Charta, when other Colonies are bereft of them; and that the Massachusetts is the only Colony to be punished? Have they not done more for the parent State than any Colony on the Continent? Did they not in the war before the last, with very little assistance, take Cape-Breton, the Dunkirk of North-America, the giving up of which procured a peace for the Mother Country? Did they not the last war send seven thousand Troops into the field, under the King' s General, until the final conquest of Canada? Notwithstanding all this, you see their capital blocked up, their Charter mutilated, and an armed force ready to execute the arbitrary measures of the Minister, who covers himself under a purchased majority in Parliament. Hostilities being actually begun in the Massachusetts, you cannot expect to fare better than your sister Colony. Your trade is already restrained, and you are daily to expect open violence to enforce unconstitutional taxation. Thus we have lived to see our most sacred rights daringly invaded; but we will not live to see them destroyed. The wound by which our liberty falls ought first to reach our hearts; and the rich torments of our blood be shed as a libation on the pile of expiring freedom.

The power of the people can never be lost or impaired, unless they are wanting to themselves. What they could once do, they can and ought to do now. Let us therefore cordially unite under the Continental Congress, and look to them as the English formerly did to their Barons, and I am confident in so good a cause we shall have the protection of Heaven; which is the sincere desire, and prayer of June 14, 1775.