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Address of the Grand Jury for the County of Essex, in New-Jersey, to Frederrick Smith


To the Honourable FREDERICK SMYTH, Esquire, Chief Justice of the Province of NEW-JERSEY:

The Address of the Grand Jury for the Body of the County of Essex, at a Court of Oyer and Terminer and General Gaol Delivery, held at Newark, in the said County, the first Tuesday in November, 1774.

May it please your Honour:

As your Honour' s charge from the Bench was not so properly directory to us with respect to our duty as the Grand Inquest of this County, as matter of instruction for the regulation of our own personal conduct amidst the present commotions of the Continent, we think ourselves obliged, from the singularity of the charge, and its paternal tenderness for our welfare, to express our gratitude for your Honour' s friendly admonitions, (which doubtless derived great solemnity from the place in which they were delivered,) and at the same time to inform you how far we have the misfortune to differ from you in sentiment, both as to the origin and tendency of the present uneasiness so generally diffused through all the Colonies. If we rightly understood a particular part of your Honour' s charge, you were pleased to tell us, that while we were employed in guarding against "imaginary tyranny, three thousand miles distant," we ought not to expose ourselves to a "real tyranny at our own doors." As we neither know, sir, nor are under the least apprehension of any tyranny at our own doors, unless it should make its way hither from the distance you mention, and then, we hope, that all those whom the Constitution has entrusted with the guardianship of our liberties, will rather strive to obstruct than accelerate its progress, we are utterly at a loss for the idea thereby intended to be communicated. But, respecting the tyranny at the distance of three thousand miles, which your Honour is pleased to represent as imaginary, we have the unhappiness widely to differ from you in opinion. The effect, sir, of that tyranny is too severely felt to have it thought altogether visionary. We cannot think, sir, that


taxes imposed upon us by our fellow-subjects, in a Legislature in which we are not represented, is an imaginary, but that it is a real and actual tyranny; and of which no Nation whatsoever can furnish a single instance. We cannot think, sir, that depriving us of the inestimable right of trial by jury: seizing our persons and carrying us for trial to Great Britain, is a tyranny merely imaginary. Nor can we think with your Honour, that destroying Charters and changing our forms of Government, is a tyranny altogether ideal. — That an Act passed to protect, indemnify, and screen from punishment such as may be guilty even of murder, is a bare idea. — That the establishment of French laws and Popish religion in Canada, the better to facilitate the arbitrary schemes of the British Ministry, by making the Canadians instruments in the hands of power to reduce us to slavery, has no other than a mental existence. In a word, sir, we cannot persuade ourselves that the Fleet now blocking up the Port of Boston, consisting of ships built of real English oak and solid iron, and armed with cannon of ponderous metal, with actual powder and ball; nor the Army lodged in the Town of Boston, and the Fortifications thrown about it, (substantial and formidable realities,) are all creatures of the imagination. These, sir, are but a few of the numerous grievances under which America now groans. These are some of the effects of that deliberate plan of tyranny concerted at "three thousand miles distance," and which, to your Honour, appears only like the "baseless fabrick of a vision." To procure redress of these grievances, which to others assume the form of odious and horrid realities, the Continent, as we learn, has very naturally been thrown into great commotions; and as far as this County in particular has taken part in the alarm, we have the happiness to represent to your Honour, that in the prosecution of measures for preserving American liberties, and obtaining the removal of oppressions, the people have acted in all their popular assemblies, (which it is the right of Englishmen to convene whenever they please,) with the spirit, temper, and prudence, becoming freemen and loyal subjects.

To trespass no longer on your Honour' s patience, we conclude with our hearty wishes, that while the great cause of liberty is warmly, and at the same time so peaceably vindicated, by all honest Americans, as essentially necessary to publick happiness; no bias of self-interest; no fawning servility towards those in power; no hopes of future preferment, will induce any man to damp their laudable and patriotick ardour; nor lend his helping hand to the unnatural and diabolical work of riveting those chains which are forging for us by that same actual tyranny, at the distance of three thousand miles.