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Memorial of Samuel Loudon


The Committee met pursuant to adjournment.

Present: William Paulding, Esquire, Chairman.

FOR NEW-YORK. — Mr˙ Scott, Colonel McDougall, Captain Rutgers, Mr˙ Van Cortlandt, Colonel Lott, Mr˙ Imlay, Mr˙ Bancker, Mr˙ Sands, Mr˙ Roosevelt, Mr˙ Randall, Mr˙ Van Zandt.
FOR SUFFOLK. — Mr˙ Tredwell.


FOR ORANGE. — Mr˙ Cuyper.
FOR KING' S. — Mr˙ Vanderbilt, Mr˙ Covenhoven, Mr˙ Leffertse.
FOR DUTCHESS. — Mr˙ Everson.
FOR WESTCHESTER. — Mr˙ Paulding.
FOR RICHMOND. — Mr˙ Lawrence.

The Memorial of Samuel London, Printer, with remarks on the subject, were read and filed.

"To the Honourable the Committee of Safety of the Colony of NEW-YORK, the Memorial of SAMUEL LOUDON, of the City of NEW-YORK, Printer, showeth:

"That some weeks ago, a manuscript, composed by a gentleman at some considerable distance, and sent in order to be printed here, in answer to the celebrated pamphlet entitled Common Sense, was put into my hands by a gentleman of this City, who desired me to print it. As a publication of this nature required mature deliberation, I did not incline, nor did the gentleman require me to comply with his proposal, till I should be convinced that the manuscript was written with decency, or did not express or even imply any disapprobation of the Proceedings of the honourable Continental Congress, or the glorious cause in defence of which Americans are spending their blood and treasure. Being satisfied as to these particulars, I agreed to print the manuscript on my own account. Having made some progress in printing off the sheets, I advertised the publication of the pamphlet in Mr˙ Garne' s Gazette, not Imagining that any offence could justly be taken by my fellow-citizens; but, to my great surprise, I soon found that the advertisement had given disgust to some of the inhabitants, who highly resented it.

"On the evening of the 18th ultimo I received a message to attend on the Committee of Mechanicks; I attended accordingly, and was interrogated by Mr˙ Christopher Duyckinck, the Chairman, who was the author of the manuscript I was printing, and who gave it to me? I told them I did not know the author, and that I got the manuscript from a gentleman of this City, whose name, in my opinion, they had no right to demand. Displeased at this reply, they threatened to bum the pamphlet, blaming me in strong terms for printing it. I expostulated with them on the impropriety of condemning a book before they had read it; proposed to send them the sheets that were printed, for their perusal, and to refer the whole affair to the Committee of Safety, and abide by their determination. They did not, however, think it proper to regard any of my proposals, but sent six of their number to my house, who nailed and sealed up the printed sheets in boxes, except a few, which were drying in an empty house, which they locked, and took the key with them; the following evening they returned the key, and informed me that they had referred the matter to the General Committee of Inspection. Same evening I received a note to wait on that Committee; I attended, and was informed by the Chairman, Colonel Broome, that a complaint had been preferred against me for printing an answer to the pamphlet entitled Common Sense; and the Committee advised me not to persist in publishing it at present, as my personal safety might be endangered. I thanked the Committee, and promised to comply with their advice. This availed nothing for my security; for, some time after ten o' clock, the same night, the before-mentioned Mr˙ Duyckinck, without any commission from the Committee, attended by a considerable number, to appearance more than forty persons, who rushed into my house; some of them ran up stairs to the Printing-Office (while others guarded the door) and took away the whole impression of said pamphlet, being about fifteen hundred copies, which, at a very moderate calculation, amounts to seventy-five pounds; they carried them to the Commons and there burned them, as I have been informed.

"Your Memorialist conceiving the above-mentioned transactions a violent infraction of the liberty of the Press, and an unjustifiable attack on his private property, prays that the honourable Committee will take such measures, and give directions in the premises as may secure the liberty of the Press, protect private property, prevent such insults for the future, and enable your Memorialist to recover damages adequate to the Injuries he has sustained.

"And your Memorialist, &c˙, SAMUEL LOUDON.

"New-York, March 28, 1776."


"I would not anticipate the reflections that will naturally arise in the mind of every candid and dispassionate reader of the plain and impartial narrative I have given in the Memorial to the honourable Committee of Safety, but justice to the publick and myself requires me to subjoin a few remarks.

"As the question concerning American independence hath not, to the best of my knowledge, been decided by the Continental Congress, nor by any legal subordinate Convention, there can be no criminality in publishing the arguments for and against it; and as it is a question of the greatest importance, it should not be decided before the arguments are fully discussed.

"Though a formal answer to the pamphlet entitled Common Sense hath been published in Philadelphia, the printer hath not fallen under the resentment of the Continental Congress, which is a decisive evidence that the Representatives of North-America do not judge him to be a transgressor. My zealous, well-meaning, misguided opponents, would have acted a consistent part had they paid a due deference to the wisdom and good sense of that honourable body of men, whom they have solemnly promised to support, by suspending all proceedings against me till the Philadelphia printer had been called to account and condemned by them.

"The publick will determine whether, by not suffering any other person to publish their sentiments but the author of the above-mentioned Pamphlet, and such as have adopted his way of thinking, many thousands of steady friends to the common cause of America are not deprived of one of their essential privileges — the liberty of declaring their opinion upon a subject of the greatest moment, and in which they are unspeakably more interested than the supposed author of that pamphlet.

"It is at any rate self-evident, that if any set of unauthorized men shall be permitted to assume the power of legislating for their fellow-citizens, and punishing them as they please, our legal Conventions and Committees, with all the precious liberties for which we are contending, will be in effect annihilated, and we will be in a more miserable slavery than would arise from the most successful exertion of all the tyrannick acts of the British Parliament.

"The freedom of the Press is now insulted and infringed by some zealous advocates for liberty. A few more nocturnal assaults upon printers may totally destroy it, and America, in consequence, may fall a sacrifice to a more fatal despotism than that with which we are threatened.

"I have no consciousness of guilt in the affair for which I have been persecuted. It is well known that I have always been a steady friend to the liberties of America; and I am resolved to risk my all in their defence, and cheerfully submit to every determination of the Continental Congress, of the Provincial Congress of this Colony, and the General Committee of this city, that is not contrary to the dictates of religion, justice, and humanity; hoping, at the same time, that the reputation of American Councils will never be contaminated by any determination of such an iniquitous kind. I only claim common justice; and desire that, for the future, all political publications issued from my press be legally and impartially tried by the publickly avowed principles of the Colonies met in Continental Congress. If at any time I shall publish principles opposite to these, under any other predicament than that of common news, let me be treated with all the severity which an enemy to his country deserves.


"The following are all the names I have as yet been able to collect of the persons who took away and burnt my pamphlets, viz: Christopher Duyckinck, John Gilbert, Thomas Pratt, John Buchanan, (Tavern-Keeper at the New-Slip,) — Brower, (the Carpenter,) — Bicker, (an officer,) Malcom McEuen, (a Pewterer.")

Ordered, That the consideration thereof be postponed till next week.