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To the Inhabitants of the Massachusetts-Bay. No. VII



Boston, March 30, 1775.

My Friends and Countrymen:

Without any introduction, preface, or apology, I shall reassume the paper which was the subject of our examination in my last, beginning where we then ended. This last column of our writer is curious enough. I can hardly determine whether profound silence, smiling neglect, or a serious refutation would be its best answer.

When he tells us, with the air of an argument, "if allegiance be due to the person of the King, (be might have added, or to the British Crown,) he then appears in a new capacity, as King of America, or rather, in several new capacities, as King of Massachusetts, of Rhode-Island, of Connecticut, &c˙, &c." He might have still added, and if these Colonies are three thousand miles from the King' s palace, from Kew, or his place of residence, wherever it he, he must govern them by Deputies or Viceroys. And what does all this amount to? Where is the difficulty? What is his inference? Is it to the point?

But if our connection with Great Britain, by the Parliament, be dissolved, the Colonies will have none among themselves, their having one and the same person for their Sovereign being no union at all; as he must govern each State by it own Parliament, which would pursue its own particular interest, notwithstanding any possible efforts of the King for the general good. Admitting all this, and as much more of the kind as our wanderer pleases, to be true, it is no evidence of our connection with the Parent


State. They may be good reasons why we should, by some means or other, especially at the present day, consolidate into a closer union among the Colonies, that a common interest might govern the whole. We might therefore pass it by as nothing to the purpose. But let us attend a moment to the state of facts. The only way to govern States, and direct their movements, is by the edict of a Monarch, or the laws of a Legislative Assembly. Such is the Constitution of Government in most of the British Colonies, that no law can be passed but by the consent of the King' s representative, who, as he is appointed by His Majesty, and holds his office during his pleasure, observes such a line of conduct as is pointed out by his Royal master, or the mandate of his Minister. In all the Colonies, unless Connecticut is an exception, their laws are sent home and laid before His Majesty for his approbation, who has it in his power, within a limited time, entirely to disannul them. Considering this, and that the appointment of all executive officers is either mediately or immediately in the Crown, excepting in one or two of the Colonies; it is scarcely supposable that any one could pursue its own interest to the detriment of another; or that a course of conduct could be adopted inconsistent with the best welfare of the Parent State, so long, as the powers of the Crown, and the checks of prerogatives are directed by constitutional motives.

The next argument of pur substantial reasoner is, I believe, entirely new, and would have been so a thousand years hence, had not he, in the labours of invention, stumbled upon it; it is all his own; no one will envy him the honour of this mighty discovery: "If the King of Great Britain has really these new capacities, they ought to be added to his titles; and another difficulty will arise — the prerogatives of these new Crowns have never been defined or limited. Is the monarchical part of the several Provincial Constitutions to be nearer, or more remote from absolute monarchy, in an inverted ratio to each one' s approaching to or receding from a Republick?" The Royal title is, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c." Where, then, will this titular argument carry us? What mighty revolutions, junctions, and disjunctions will it accomplish? If it proves any. thing in the application of its inventor, it proves that all the Kings of England, from Henry the Sixth to the reigning Prince, were Kings of France. That Ireland and Great Britain are distinct States, in a different sense from what the Colonies are; and that Henry the Eighth and King George the Third (God bless him) were both Defenders of the Faith, though the one a Papist, and the other a Protestant. The prerogatives of the Crown are defined, and limited with convenient certainty by our several Charters, the ends of Government being confined within the circle of doing good. Prerogatives are not, nor ever will be defined with mathematical nicety, "or inverted ratios;" humanity itself forbids it. The dividing line between day and night, light and darkness, has never been drawn, nor can it be. You may therefore as well argue from the want of such a line, the non-existence of light and darkness, as from indefinite prerogatives, the coalition of States. But, says our pleasant amuser, if we are not subject Jo the supreme authority of the Mother Country, "where shall we find the British Constitution, that, we all agree, we are entitled to? We shall seek for it in vain in our Provincial Assemblies. Charter Governments have no more power than what is expressly granted by their several Charters. The first Charter granted to this Province did not empower the Assembly to tax the people at all. Our Council Boards are destitute of the authority of the House of Lords, and its members of the splendid appendages of peerage. Thus the supposition of our being independent States, or exempt from the authority of Parliament, destroys the very idea of our having a British Constitution." And further, "the argument drawn from the first principle of our being entitled to English liberties, destroys the principle itself; it deprives us of the Bill of Rights, and all the benefits resulting from the Revolution, of "English Laws and the British Constitution." Our patriots, says he, have been so intent upon building up American rights, that they have overlooked the rights of Great Britain and our own interest, and instead of proving that we are entitled to the same privileges that a subject in Great Britain


enjoys, they have been arguing away our most essential rights. Upon reading this paragraph I could not but wonder who it was "that suffered his pen to run so freely." Can it be an honest native of this Province, with such a stand in the community as to be able to see distinctly all its political manoeuvres?

If our position be true, which I think we have abundantly confirmed, that previous to the Colonies receiving their several Charters they were in a natural state compared with Great Britain; it undeniably follows, that they possess every power or right that is not expressly given into the hands of the King by those Charters, they being the original source, of power, it passing from them to the King, and vice versa.

Our first Charter enabled this Colony expressly "from time to time to make, ordain, and establish all manner of wholesome and reasonable orders, laws, statutes, ordinances, directions, and instructions necessary for the well ordering and governing the same." This most certainly included in it the right of making laws for taxation, as well as those for any other purpose.

In order to determine whether the argument drawn from the principle of our being entitled to English liberties, destroys itself, deprives us of the Bill of Rights, and all the benefits resulting from the Revolution, the English laws, and the British Constitution, it may be necessary to call to mind their chief excellencies, and their essential and principal characteristicks.

The freedom of the English Constitution, says the great Montesquieu, which has directly for its end political liberty, consists in a certain distribution of the legislative, executive, and judiciary powers of the State, or the fundamental laws. The freedom of the subject consists in his standing in such a relation to this Constitution, and the laws originating from it, as to be secure in his person and property. In general, then, for the Americans to have British Constitutions they must have free ones: and they must stand in the same relation to them, as to their valuable and essential purposes, that the Britons form with theirs.

The King, who is the third branch in the Legislative Assembly, and the first magistrate in the Kingdom, is dependant on the people for his supplies. The Royal authority is a kind of invisible entity, a spring that ought to move, easily, without noise and attrition, giving motion to the political machine, and having the publick good for its standing regulator. It can do no wrong. And if it should happen to get impaired, or deviate from foreign attractions, the effectual and Constitutional remedy, is tight purse-strings. To have then a British Constitution, is to have the third branch of our Legislative Assembly, and first officer in the Province, dependant on the people for his salary. The officers of the Crown in England must see to the legality of their conduct; if they violate the laws, even by Royal direction, they cannot take shelter behind the Throne, or plead in justification an illegal command. A Provincial Governour ought then to make the law of the land, and the fundamental principles of society, the rule of conduct, and not the mandate from a Minister of State. The House of Lords have a negative voice on all Acts of the Commons; so have our Council Board on all Bills of our Representatives. In fact they have, in substance, constitutionally, all the authority of the House of Peers.

A British Constitution knows of no laws binding upon its subjects but what were made, or consented to by themselves, or their substitutes, and what the legislators themselves are subject to, in common with every individual in the community: this is a grand security, a constitutional bulwark of liberty. "Liberty of man, in society, (says the immortal Locke,) is to be under no other legislative power but that established by consent in the commonwealth; nor under the dominion of any will, or restraint of any law, but what this legislative shall enact according to the trust reposed in it," "Freedom of men in Government, (says; the same author,) is to have a standing rule to live by, common to all and every one in that society, and made by the legislative power erected in it; and not to be subject to the arbitrary will of another. This freedom from absolute arbitrary power is so necessary to, and closely joined with a man' s preservation, that he cannot part with it but by what forfeits his preservation and life together." Indulge me in adding a few more lines, from this


consummate reasoner; lines which ought to be wrote in letters of gold, and sunk to the centre of every man' s heart. "The supreme power cannot take from any man part of his property without his own consent; for the preservation of property being the end of Government, and that for which men enter into society, it necessarily supposes and requires that the people should have property, without which they must be supposed to lose that by entering into society, which was the end for which they entered into it: too gross an absurdity for any man to own. Men therefore in society, having property, they must have such a right to the goods which by the laws of the community are theirs, that no body hath a right to take their substance, or any part of it from them without their consent. Without this they have no property at all; for I have no property in that which another can by right take from me when he pleases, against my consent. Hence it is a mistake to think, that supreme or legislative power of a community can do what it will, or dispose of the estates, of the subject arbitrarily, or take any part of them at pleasure. For Government is constituted with this condition, and for this end, that men might have and secure their properties."

A British Constitution, then; which Massachusettensis says is agreed on all hands we are entitled to, knows of no authority to make laws for more than three millions of subjects, but such as is erected among themselves, in which they are represented, to which the law makers themselves are subjected, and which is consistent with the enjoyment of private property. Compare, on the one hand, the assumed principles of Parliament and ministerial measures, with the above criterions, and on the other the natural and constitutional authority of our Assemblies, and draw your conclusions.

The fundamental laws of England, which are laws of mercy, and the precepts of reason, of improved artificial reason, are severally declarations of the rights of Englishmen. They are emanations from the Constitution, are blended with it, are a part of it. They principally and with vigilant jealousy regard and secure life, liberty, and property. Next to a man' s life, (if not before it,) the nearest and dearest enjoyment is freedom; a deprivation of this being a sort of civil death, or living misery. Angliae jura in omni casu libertati dant favorem. Magna Charta, or the great Charter of the liberties of the Kingdom, which was made in the ninth year of Henry the Third, was declaratory of the fundamental laws and ancient liberties of the subject. By the twenty-ninth chapter of this revered piece of antiquity, no man can be taken, or imprisoned, dispossessed of his freehold, of his lands, of his liberties, (not even by Parliament,) but by the verdict of his equals, or by the law of the land, or condemned without lawful trial by a jury. A Statute of the 25 Edw˙ I. was a confirmation of this great Charter, by the sixth chapter of which no aid or tax can be taken on any occasion whatever, but by the common consent of the Realm, and for the common benefit thereof. By another foundation-statute in the 34 Edw4dot; I. no tallage or aid can be taken or levied, but by grant and common consent of Parliament; tallage, according to Lord Coke, being a general word including all taxes, subsidies, &c˙, whatever; and Parliament, meaning an assembly, composed of the Representatives of the people, Within this Act are all new offices erected with new fees, or old offices with additional fees; for this is a tax upon the subject. By the famous Habeas Corpus Act, which is founded in common right, and on common law, which is the birth-right of every Englishman, no person can be sent prisoner out of England or Wales into Scotland, Ireland, Jersey, Guernsey, or to any other place beyond seas. The Bill of Rights, which passed the British Parliament, upon the accession of William the Third to the throne, after reciting the declaration of the Lords and Commons, and the endeavours of James the. Second to subvert, and extirpate the Protestant religion, and the laws and liberties of the Kingdom, declares, among a number of other articles for vindicating and asserting the ancient rights and liberties of the people:

"4thly: That levying money without consent and grant of Parliament is illegal.


"5thly: That it is the right of the subject to petition the King.

"6thly: That the raising or keeping a Standing Army within the Kingdom in time of peace, unless it be with consent of Parliament, is against law.

"7thly: That the subjects which are Protestants, may have arms for their defence, suitable to their conditions, and as allowed by law.

"13th: That for the redress of all grievances, and for the amending, strengthening, and preserving the laws, Parliament ought to be held frequently."

These articles, with others, are declared, claimed, and asserted to be the true, ancient, and indubitable rights and liberties of the people of the Kingdom; and so ought to be esteemed, adjudged, allowed, and taken. Accordingly it was enacted by the King, Lords, and Commons, that this Bill should stand, remain, and be the law of the Realm forever. None of those Acts gave any new rights to the subject; they are only declarative of what were their unresigned, inherent, ancient rights as Englishmen, as Britons. If, then, we are entitled to British liberties, we are entitled to all those rights, privileges, and securities which we have been surveying. These are the essential qualities; the first principles, and capital characteristicks of the British Government, the props and checks which have enabled it to stand so many ages the rude shocks of foreign invasions, domestick feuds, civil commotions, and of time itself; and would secure it from falling, but with the pillars of nature," were it not for the sappings of bribery and corruption at its roots, and the gnawings of ambition and avarice on its branches.

Therefore to enjoy the benefits resulting from the Revolution, the Bill of Rights, the English Laws, and the British Constitution, we can be taxed by no Assembly but pur Provincial ones, in which we are represented: cannot be sent home for trial, according to a late law; can be dispossessed of our property only by the judgment of our Peers; can have Soldiers quartered upon us only by the consent of our General Courts, &c˙, &c˙, &c. This is the essence Of the British Constitution. The appellations, Kings, Peers of the Realm, Knights of the Shire, &c˙, as well as Governours, Counsellors, and Representatives, are but secondary qualities, or mere formalities. The same Constitution in substance may appear under a thousand different forms, and the same valuable purposes be answered by them all. It is for the above substantial, rights that our patriots (whom America we trust will hail, as Rome did Cicero, the fathers and saviours of their country") have been arguing. It is in defence of these social blessings that they have sacrificed their ease, their health, and their wealth, and now stand, when the bolts are just ready to burst upon our heads.

We are next told: "If there be any grievance, it does not consist in being subject to the authority of Parliament, but in our not having an actual representation in it; and this is withheld by the first principles of Government, and the, immutable laws of nature." That is, to speak plain English, if one community is oppressed by another, the grievance does not consist in the oppressive act, but in the want of a right to act in the manner which is oppressive; and if this right is withheld by the immutable laws of nature, or by God himself, who is the Author of immutabilities in nature, these laws must be trampled upon and faulted, and the immaculate oppressor go free. Thus you see that grievances must be imputed to the God of Nature, and the rectitude of Heaven questioned, rather than the propriety and equity of ministerial measures disputed. The truth is, the grievance consists in being subject to the authority of a Parliament in which we are not and cannot be represented.

We are next presented with a passage from Governour Hutchinson' s letters, which were sent to solicit the vengeance of a Kingdom upon this unhappy Colony, and to drag down the resentments of an incensed Court upon individuals. I shall not at present dispute upon the merits or demerits of the characters and measures which were the subject matter of these letters. "There must be an abridgment of what is called English liberties," is the famous sentence which we are told has rung through the Continent. We have already seen what Locke, Montesquieu, Magna Charta, uncorrupted Parliaments, the


fundamental laws, the Bill of Rights, the English Constitution, the Britons and the Americans call English liberties. These, these are the liberties that must be abridged. I have no fondness for aspersions and calumnies of any kind. This gentleman possesses, and has exercised, undoubtedly, in various departments, some amiable private virtues and useful accomplishments. But such have been his notorious principles and many instances of publick conduct, that it must give pain to a good mind to be acquainted with his political character. I forbear; for I would not bring a railing accusation against the Devil himself, were I, like Michael, brought to contend with him.

After saying it is for the interest of the Colonists to continue part of the British Empire, and their duty to remain subject to the authority of Parliament, both of which are favourite objects of their wishes, upon the good old plan, which the experience of a century has proved to be mutually beneficial; our declaimer, in the full career of rhetorical flourish, suffers, I believe, the real principles of his practice to escape him, perhaps unguardedly, which gives a key to his refined system of politicks: "After many more centuries," says he, "have rolled away, long after they who, are now building upon the stage of life, shall have been, received to the bosom of mother earth, the Colonies may have the balance of wealth, numbers, and power in their favour, and some future George may cross the Atlantik and rule Great Britain by an American Parliament." A most sublime, scheme of Parliament! Unexceptionable principles of policy! The wealthy are to oppress and grind the faces of the comparatively indigent; the many to enslave the few; the powerful to tyrannize over the impotent; the great to devour the small; the strong the weak; and Great Britain, in her turn, to become the slaves of America, the longest sword being the great charter of liberties, and the invaluable standard of right and wrong. Is justice, is equity, are the rights of mankind such transportable wares, such floating machines? Are there no fixed, eternal, and immutable principles of political truth and social justice, notwithstanding the acute efforts of some moderns to explain them away, which cannot be violated, but by the imputation of guilt? guilt of the blackest dye, which will sooner or later fall with crushing weight on the culprit' s head. Can the splendour of wealth always dazzle the eye of reason, or the intoxicating fumes of undelegated power steel the heart against the stings and lashes of natural conscience? Can superiority of numbers alter the laws of nature, and annihilate the never-failing principles of strict justice? Can the longest sword sooth the clamours and twingings of a wounded spirit, or be plead in justification at the bar of an offended God? We are told by the poets, that the guilty are driven about and haunted by the burning torches of the furies. Presumptuous guilt is the fury, says Cicero, that torments; an evil conscience the phrensy that rages; and stinging reflection the terrour that distracts. These, these are the incessant bosom fiends that haunt the guilty, that harrow up their souls, and will day and night avenge the injuries and oppressions of innocent sufferers.

Let me ask our courtly-tongue pad if he really thinks Great Britain, for centuries yet to come, will be such proficients in his sublime philosophy as to set supinely at ease and see herself stripped of her most valuable rights; rights, in defence of which she has been often arrayed in armour and in blood. Would she petition an American Parliament for redress of grievances? Would she acknowledge the right of deprivation, so long as there was one man existing on the Island? Would not every drop of English blood boil into a fury? Would not every spark of British spirit kindle" into a flame? Would it not burst, forth like a conflagration, and sweep with the besom of destruction the laws enacted in an American Parliament, and their executors, off the stage of entities?

My abused, wretchedly abused countrymen, whilst we are complaining of injuries and oppressions from others, let us see to it that we keep good consciences void of offence ourselves. Let us injure no man' s person or property; cautiously guard against all outrages, riots, mobs, or irregular and unnecessary risings, which the adversaries to the common cause may artfully attempt to lead or provoke us into. The cause we are engaged in is of too much dignity to be sullied by rashness, too important, too seriously important,


to be weakened by tumult and partial strife. Liberty receives strength and vigour from prudence and consideration. Justice, equity, and regularity, are her closest friends: she courts virtue as her bosom companion, and shuns vice, as her dangerous enemy. Let us equally avoid the feverish fits of political heat and cold. Banish from our breasts all personal prejudices, private piques, narrow opinions, illiberal distinctions, and little, unbecoming jealousies. Let us display a magnanimity proportionate to the importance and dangers of the struggle, cultivating harmony of sentiments and unanimity of counsels. Act discreetly, firmly, and unitedly. So long as men have hearts to feel, and blood and spirits to act, some irregularities and indiscretions will unavoidably take place under galling oppressions. These must be expected until vice is deep trodden to its centre, and frailties and human imperfections banished from the earth. I trust those among us will be few and exceeding small, such as, being viewed by an eye of candour, may be easily covered with the mantle of charity.

All America has recognised our cause, has become surety for our safety, and pointed out the process for redress. All the Colonies unitedly oppose. Opposition so respectable, so ample, never was known. Their unanimity and firmness was never exceeded. Let us then adopt, and religiously observe the recommendations of the grand American Congress, as the best rules of political, conduct; hold their Association sacred; treat the enemies of our Country in the manner they prescribe; avoid, studiously avoid, every thing that may occasion a rupture and hasten on the last appeal; being completely equipped,and thoroughly prepared for every event, let us conduct peaceably and inoffensively. If we are attacked, and hostilities commenced against us, self-preservation, the first law of nature, must and ought to assume the reins, take the command, direct our conduct and govern the man. It does not oblige us to stand still until we are hewn dead at our enemies' feet.




* How much property is taken from the subject and fiven to the Crown by the operation of the unparalleled Port Bill, and that without any trial, protensions of forfeiture, law, or justice.