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Address to the Inhabitants of New-York



New-York, October 20, 1774.

Without entering into the dispute as to the right of the British Parliament to impose Duties in America, I would beg leave to submit some thoughts to consideration, which good policy and a regard to our own interest, might allow to have weight in influencing our judgments in this matter.

Before we make an alteration in any circumstance in life we should consider the value of the good we put to hazard, and the risk we run of being sufferers by the exchange. In the present political case we should place the benefits arising from obedience against the burthens that we are compelled to submit to.

To induce us to submit with cheerfulness we should consider that the Government to which we pay obedience has the power to protect us; and that from the genius of the British Constitution, from the commercial interest and good policy of that Nation, we have every desirable security that its authority over us will be exercised with justness and gentleness, and for our own real advantage, as that must be the best means of promoting its own. And to


make us prize the blessings we enjoy under this Government we should consider the circumstances to which we should be reduced were we withdrawn from the protection of Great Britain. In the wide spread Colonies of America, where the country is continually increasing in inhabitants, and improving in cultivation, there will be frequent occasion for alterations and amendments in their Government, Laws, and Provincial Regulation. And where can those inhabitants find such a model of good Government as in the British Constitution? Where can they be directed so well as by the wisdom of a British Senate? How could the frequent jarring interests of different Provinces be adjusted without bloodshed, but by the interposition of the authority of that Government? And how could the power of the whole Continent be collected and applied on any exigency without its supreme direction? When we consider the many encouragements by bounties, and otherwise given by Great Britain for the cultivation of this country, and the production of articles of commerce, when we compare the Duties paid by the subject in Great Britain with those paid by the subject in America for that protection which is common to both, we shall see great cause to admire the tenderness and indulgence of Government towards us. In the infancy of societies, as in the early stage of life, there is an impatience under the restraint of authority. The violent passions of youth often plunge into the greatest distresses, and societies have often been thrown into confusion and disorder by the turbulence of factious demagogues, who have abused the license of the press and the credulity of the people, to serve their own interested or ambitious purposes.

If there should be any persons who endeavour to persuade us into a confidence of our sufficiency to our own government, defence, and protection, let us look well into the characters of such men, and the motives for their conduct, before we suffer ourselves to be influenced by their patriotick pretensions. It may answer the purposes of a present interest to flatter the passions of the multitude, but he who would secure a solid reputation to himself, by promoting the real good and happiness of his country, must not expect a present approbation; he will have to combat the views of particular persons and many popular prejudices, that will expose him to the reproaches of interested minds, and the general censure of his cotemporaries.

Let us consider our present state, our wide spread Continent, the different religious constitutions and interests of the Colonies, their capacity for offence and defence separately and collectively, dependent and independent on Great Britain, let us then ask ourselves by what means the present welfare of America can be best secured, and its future interest promoted. Can we say at this time that we of ourselves are sufficient to these things? Or shall we not be compelled to own that our present security and future happiness depend on maintaining the power and supreme authority of Great Britain. That under her auspices we must establish that order and government which must be the basis of every thing that shall make us great hereafter.

Let it be sufficient to our ambition to lay the firm foundation, and let posterity wait for those materials that may be furnished by the hand of Time, for erecting the goodly and lasting fabrick. But if ever we shall be led by designing men to a vain reliance on our own ability, and dare to the combat the only power that can protect us at present, and open the paths to our future greatness, we shall, by sad experience, be taught, that though we may, for a while, distress her, yet that we have ruined ourselves.

For supposing Great Britain should require no allegiance from us, and in return withdraw its protection; or, that we, by an opposition to its authority, could compel it to acknowledge our independence; in either case we should find ourselves a prey to every foreign invader; our extension would be our weakness, and the several Provinces would, in their turn, become subject to the tyranny of demagogues, the disorder of anarchy, and all the calamities of civil war. How infatuated then are the people in a neighbouring Province, who continue to brave the power of Great Britain whilst under her correction? Can they imagine that instigating other Provinces to revolt from her authority will be the means to relieve them from chastisement? Having drawn on themselves her resentment, will


they further incense her wrath, and persist in disobedience to their own destruction?

Will other Provinces forego the advantages of the protection and commerce of Great Britain because they are justly severely corrected? Will they not rather learn wisdom by their misconduct and misfortunes? In vain may we now expect that the merchants and manufacturers in Great Britain will rouse in our cause and join in our clamour, or that we can again prevail upon Parliament to repeal the laws of the Empire. The mercantile subjects in Great Britain are now well persuaded that a spirit for illicit trade is the principal motive for all our resistance; and they are satisfied, that to recover the debts due to them in this country, and to maintain the commerce of the Nation with America, it is necessary for them to join in supporting the authority of Government over us.

But supposing the Southern Provinces should shut up their Ports, put a stop to all commerce with Great Britain, and gratify all the sanguine expectations of the Bostonians, cannot Great Britain turn the course of commerce into other channels? Cannot it open other Ports, and give protection and encouragement to well-disposed subjects to establish therein? Yea, and can furnish both ships and mariners to carry on that commerce.

She can soon raise a small village into a great city, or reduce a proud and factious metropolis to a fishing hamlet.

Let us then see that we can only rise to greatness by a reflection of glory from Great Britain, that every assistance we lend her in support of her power, is repaid by the protection she yields us against outward enemies, and by the establishment she makes for the maintenance of order and government within, and that our present peace and welfare, and future happiness, and glory, depend upon securing that protection and support by our duty and affection.