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Address from a Freeholder of Essex



GENTLEMEN: Your notice to the Freeholders of Essex, of the 28th of November, was conveyed to me by Holt' s Paper of the 1st of December, and as your motive for convening us is declared to be in conformity to the wise, and prudent Resolves of the Congress, of which I had before heard, I determined to read their Resolves with the greatest attention, and therefore sent Tom with my best horse, who soon brought me the extracts of the Proceedings of the Congress; I eagerly sat down to read them, but, alas ! how was I disappointed; instead of wise and prudent, I found nothing but rude, insolent, and absurd Resolves, calculated to answer no end but to stir up strife, and increase confusion among us, and to unite every spirited Briton against us. Even Burke and Barre, if they have the least regard for national honour, must be roused by the humiliating terms this Congress make as a preliminary to Great Britain. When I voted for you, gentlemen, last


Summer, and a Congress was appointed, and Deputies sent, I hoped to hear that something had been done to Secure our liberties, and make up the breach with the mother country; but by this Congress the liberty we had is taken from us, and the breach widened. Pray, gentlemen, how can you ask us, nay, confidently tell us, that we will "unquestionably carry into execution, &c˙, the wise and prudent Resolutions entered into by the Delegates of this Continent in General Congress?" Did I think them wise and prudent, or believed that you can think them so, I would unquestionably support them; but when this Congress, instead of healing differences, create confusion; when, under the pretence of limiting the power of the King, Lords, and Commons, they create a power unknown to our Constitution, a mere Inquisition, what do they make of us? Do you and they apprehend us to be fools, and that we are implicitly to be led as you direct? We know what it is to be governed by Acts of Parliament, and never thought ill of them until we were alarmed into other sentiments; and although we may wish, and will take all lawful ways to get those restrained, repealed, or amended, that affect our liberty, yet we never can submit, nor I hope will any of us approve of men "whose business it shall be to observe the conduct of all persons touching this Association;" nor do I think that you will find many so "lost to a sense of publick virtue," and a regard for his neighbours, as to obey you or any set of men clothed with the dangerous power to "hold up to publick notice, as unfriendly to the liberties of his country, and thenceforward to break off all dealings with" any man that you, or a majority of you, shall think fit to post in the publick Papers as an enemy to his country. To such an inquisition I never will subscribe, and, by Heaven, I had rather submit to Acts of Parliament implicitly, nay, to the will of a King, than to the caprice of Committee-men; in the two first cases I shall fare with my neighbours, and shall be allowed to speak at least; in the last, I shall not dare to think or act, but I shall be in danger of being held up as an enemy to my country, and tarring and feathering is the least I am to expect. — I am to be a slave. I will then be a slave to a King and a Parliament. I never will have it said that I voted for, or consented to, my own Executioners, Inquisition, Observemen, Committee-men, or what you please to call yourselves, or your successors in office. Let me ask you seriously, and particularly five of you who are lawyers, how can you so barefacedly ask us to do this thing, when you know it is an open violation of our Constitution, and that the powers Committee-men will acquire by the Congress Resolve, are unlimited — not to be defined, for they are to make such regulations as they shall think proper to enforce the Association, so they will have it in their power to rule and proscribe as they please. How can you say that you cannot in the least doubt "our ready and immediate compliance with this Article," and blasphemously tell us that the salutary effects to arise from this Association, must, under God, depend upon the fidelity of individuals,"when you know the Almighty cannot approve of it, he is a God of order and mercy, and in this Association there is neither order nor mercy; you know it can have no other end than to clothe you and your succeeding Committee-men with absolute power, and so far from relieving us, that the measure will make us worse than slaves to you Committee-men; and for this you "depend upon the fidelity of individuals."

While I live, I will not bow my head to such servitude; I will oppose the measures of a King and his Parliament whenever they are dangerous to my liberty; but I will never give my voice for measures by which the Constitution of my country is thus wantonly to be altered, and by which men are to be clothed with power to revenge themselves upon their neighbours, without control, and the poor victim of their mad zeal, malice, or wrath, is to be exposed to infamy and disgrace, unheard, without the form of a trial, and against the laws of his country.

Reflect, Committee-men, for a moment on the tendency of this Resolve; in the powers it invests you with; shudder at the consequences; use not these powers, nay, not sparingly, as we are to kill our Sheep. Let not the prospect of unlimited power turn your heads, but amidst your zeal for liberty, and desire to prevent tyranny, alter not the


Constitution of your country, and usurp not powers you will not allow to, nay, such as the King and Parliament dare not attempt.

I have thought proper thus to deliver my sentiments, and should have done it in the first Paper succeeding your notice, and before the intended meeting, had not my distance from a Printer prevented; but, that the Freeholders of the Province, and of this County in particular, may consider of the dangerous step you have advised them to take, and in time may drop the absurd and destructive measure of Committee-men and Delegates, and constitutionally, by their Representatives, ask redress of such real grievances as they labour under, I have published my resolves, which, by-the-bye, are equally, if not more constitutional, rational, wise, and prudent, than either the Resolves of the Congress, or your notification; and I sincerely wish that my fellow-freeholders would look before they leap; without the first, I am sure the last will endanger their necks, &c.