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



Boston, April 6, 1775.

My Friends and Fellow-Countrymen:

We are now verging towards a close of our lucubrations upon the right of Parliament. I blush upon asking your further attention to this matter, having already trespassed long on your patience. The importance of the subject, and a show of argument in the two papers succeeding the one considered in our last, must be my apology. Having examined this question to its foundation, in a course of papers that have been laid before the publick; having compared it with every principle of law, of justice, and of social connexions, which would not disgrace the understanding of a Hottentot; having traced its decision in our favour, up to a connexion with our most important duty, and the precepts of Heaven; it remains only that we obviate the residue of our writer' s half-made arguments upon this subject, by showing their inconclusiveness or remoteness from the point. Such matters as fall within the principles and


reasonings established and applied on former occasions, we may pass by, as having been fairly and fully answered. It is unnecessary in this stage of the controversy to offer any thing in affirmance of our claim, however the observations and assertions of our antagonist may provoke us to it; for this, I must refer you to our past Numbers, Many other things might be added, so fertile and clear is the subject, the which, if they should all be written, I suppose the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.

The Paper of January 16th, begins with the most flagrant misrepresentation of facts, from which we may form some shrewd conjectures of its progress and end. "Had a person, some fifteen years ago, undertaken to prove that the Colonies were annexed to the Realm, were a part of the British Empire or Dominion, and as such subject to the authority of the British Parliament, he would have acted as ridiculous a part as to have undertaken to prove a self-evident proposition. Had any person denied it, he would have been called a fool or a madman. "If this be true, James the First, Charles the First, and Charles the Second were mad Kings, as we have shown from good authority; our famed progenitors madmen; our Charters the offspring of madness; the English Laws and the British Constitution the essence of madness; and this ridiculous madness has been handed down, by some mysterious fatality, from generation to generation to the present day, excepting, in a few instances, where persons basking in the sunshine of Court favours, have had their brains so heated and volatilized by the piercing rays of honour and profit, as to enable them to evaporate the general contagion. Our sane disputant may stand high in this catalogue. By what specificks such cures are effected is no longer matter of curious speculation. This brings to my mind the story of a prodigal forward child, who, madly attempting to hang himself in his father' s presence, was cured of his lunacy by a sum of money, which disease would never return but with an empty purse.

At this wise period individuals and bodies of men deny it, notwithstanding in doing it they subvert the fundamentals of Government, deprive us of British liberties, and build up absolute monarchy in the Colonies. We proved in our last that the admission of this authority is, in every point of view, absolutely inconsistent with the fundamentals of Government, British rights, English liberties, or the security of life, liberty, and property, which we are entitled to as men. And thus it erects an absolute Government in the Colonies as repugnant to every idea of freedom as life and death, blessing and cursing, are opposite to each other.

"Our Charters," says our hypothetical reasoner, "suppose regal authority in the grantor; if that authority be derived from the British Crown, it presupposes this Territory to have been a part of the British Dominions, and as such subject to the imperial Sovereign." If he means any thing to the purpose by these (perhaps designedly) inaccurate expressions and obscure reasoning, it must be this, viz: Our Charters suppose the right and property of the Colonies, or the American Territory, to be in the King, as grantor; and if this right and property be derived to him from the English Crown, or British, if he pleases, it presupposes the Colonies to have been a part of the British Dominions. To take him upon his own argument: Our Charters suppose nothing in the grantor, but what he has absolutely granted away, (excepting the reservations to himself,) which the Charters suppose he had good right to do. And his deriving this right or property from the English Crown, presupposes nothing to have belonged to the English Dominions, and subject to the imperial Sovereign, but what, being taken away and vested in the King, was conveyed over to the grantees, which proves, even upon his own principles, that we are not now a part of the British State, nor subject to its supreme authority. This is argumentum ad hominem.

Let us examine it upon its true principles. The Charters, as we have elsewhere observed, from their subject matter and the reality of things, can only operate as the evidence of a compact between an English King and the American subjects; their running in the style of a grant is mere matter of form, and not of substance. Nor do they suppose the Territory granted to be the right and property of the King as grantor, any more than where Magna


Charta gives and grants to the people of England their rights, sua jura, and their liberties, libertatis suas, all which the people had a right to, and possessed previous to and independent of this Charter, proves that these rights and liberties were mere emanations from the royal grantor, or new blessings given to the subject as matters of bounty and grace, and not, rather, the royal assurance that those rights which adhered to them as men, and their Constitution confirmed to them as Englishmen, should not be invaded. Admitting that our Charters did suppose the right and property of the Colonies in the grantor, suppositions are only admissible where facts cannot be ascertained; they are always controlled and superseded by evidence. Massachusettensis knows, Great Britain knows, common sense teaches, history confirms, and we have already proved, that the grantor had no right, title, or possession here in America, excepting what was derived from a visit made to these shores by some British mariners, when they were the possessed and rightful property of twenty other Nations; or what is still more ridiculous, if possible, from a Popish pretended right in Christians to take away the property, the dwellings, the liberties, and the lives of heathens. So that all this famous train of reasoning, going upon a false, mistaken, and refuted supposition of an antecedent right in the King, dwindles into sound and shadow; for the foundation being removed, the superstructure, however artificial and superb, must tumble to the ground. It is peculiarly characteristical of our embarrassed writer, to beg the question. I wish for once he would come to the point. Has he proved, excepting by arguments that evince directly the contrary, that before the reception of our Charters the Colonies were a part of the British Empire, or that these Charters united them to the British Realm? Does not his confused Babel fabrick, which he has been so long building, stand entirely on this basis? I call upon him to prop it up, if be has it in his power, or frankly confess the imposition. Let him name the time when, point out the manner how, or the means by which the Colonies were united to the Realm of England; or let him be for ever silent concerning a right in Parliament to give law in all cases to more than three millions of unrepresented and misrepresented Americans. I dare say this is a task that he, nor any other man in his senses, will never seriously attempt. Every history, every record, every scrap of paper to be found upon the subject, evinces the contrary. It may not be amiss to recite a few passages from a historian of great fame and undoubted credit.
"When the Europeans first visited this Country, they found it inhabited by twenty different Nations, or Tribes, independent of each other, and commanded by their respective chiefs. Of these Nations the most powerful was the Massachusetts, situate on or near the harbour of Boston. King James the First, by letters patent, dated April 10, 1606, erected two Companies, granting to them all the Northeast Coast of America, which was then called Virginia. One of the Companies was called Plymouth Company, who, for some time, traded only with the natives of North Virginia, or now New-England, for furs, and fished upon their Coast."
Did this grant to the Company suppose this Territory to be in the grantor, and presuppose it a part of the British Empire? Just as much as if a Provincial Governour should erect Companies, and grant them large tracts of the new discovered world in the South Seas belonging to the Otaheits, would suppose a right in the Governour to the land of the Natives, and presuppose it a part of the Province he governed; a species of reasoning that the veriest tyro which ever passed the hands of a common pedagogue might have confuted.

About the year 1619 the Dissenters in England, to avoid religious persecution, having purchased the Plymouth Patent of the Company, (to prevent pretensions for molestation,) and obtaining another from King James of all New-England, a hundred and fifty men embarked on board of a Ship which arrived at Cape Cod in New-England, from Plymouth, the 6th of September, 1620, where they built a Town and called it by the name of New-Plymouth, and elected John Carver their first Governour. The Indians, continues the same historian, were at this time too much engaged in wars among themselves to give these strangers any disturbance; and Massassoit, Prince of the Massachusett


Nation, learning what a powerful people the English were, made Governour Carver a visit the following spring, and entered into an alliance offensive and defensive with the English. This Prince also consented to acknowledge the King of England his Sovereign, and made cession of part of his Country to the new Planters. Several other Sachems did the same, following his example, and desired the protection of the English against their enemies, professing themselves subjects to King James. Did the cession of this land to the English unite it to the British Empire? Did the Mother State enlarge and contract herself in proportion as our ancestors increased or diminished their possessions in America? Did the natives subject themselves and their lands to the operation of any law that might pass the British Parliament, by acknowledging themselves the subjects of King James? Or would a Charter from His Britannick Majesty, granting them what was their own before, have settled the matter? What nonsensical conclusions, what complicated absurdities, will toryistical reasonings run us into.

In 1664 King Charles II granted New-York, the Jerseys, and Pennsylvania to his brother, the Duke of York; the Duke granted over Pennsylvania to Sir William Penn, who received an additional grant from the same King in 1680. Penn, says the historian, notwithstanding the grants made him by the Crown and the Duke of York, did not esteem himself the real proprietor of the lands until he had given the Indians a valuable consideration for their Country. He assembled, therefore, their Sachems or Princes, and purchased countries of a very large extent of them at a moderate price, which he paid to the entire satisfaction of the natives. This flourishing Colony, whenever it wants to extend its settlements, it purchases new lands of the Sachems, and not from the Crown of England. What suppositions and presuppositions would our surreptitious land grantors raise from the above history? Does it prove the right in the Crown? Does it establish the desiderata of the Tories?

"If that authority was vested in the person of the King in a different capacity, then the British Constitution and Laws are out of the question, and the King must be absolute, as to us, as his prerogatives have never been limited." To which we answer, that our Charter, and that alone, brings the English Constitution and Laws into view, and makes them necessary questions, let the King' s authority and capacity be as they may. It refers us to those as to a standard (as it might as well have done to any other Constitution and code of laws) to reduce to a certainty the rights and privileges we were entitled to by our Charter; as also to point out and circumscribe the prerogatives of the Crown. So that these prerogatives are as much limited and confined in the Colonies as they are in England.

"Charter Governments must severally revert to absolute monarchy, as their Charters may happen to be forfeited by the grantees not fulfilling the conditions of them." This goes entirely upon the supposition that the King was the original owner and proprietor of the premises. This is begging the question; for we have shown, over and over, that it is a baseless hypothesis, framed by court-undertakers to support their darling plan; thus obscuring truth, they attempt to clothe the minds of their readers with darkness, and feed them with errour. It is not only void of proof, but, what is worse, in direct opposition to irrefragable arguments, and the stubborn evidence of facts. If the conditions on which the Charter was made are broken by the one party or the other, (the grantees or the grantor,) the only possible conclusion from thence is, that the compact is dissolved, and both set at large.

Our heroick writer, imagining that he had not quite frightened away our senses, or reasoned us out of our rights and liberties, attempts to smile away both. "It is curious, indeed," says he, with an air of ridicule, "to trace the denial and oppugnation, to the supreme authority of the State. When the Stamp Act was made, the authority of Parliament to impose internal taxes was denied, but their right to impose external ones, or, in other words, to lay duties upon Goods and Merchandise was admitted. When the Act was made imposing duties on Tea, &c˙, a new distinction was set up, that the Parliament had a right to lay duties upon Merchandise for the purpose of regulating,


Trade, but not for the purpose of raising a Revenue. That is, the Parliament had good right and lawful authority to lay the former duty of a shilling on the pound, but had none to lay the present duty of three pence." If our writer seriously believes this to be a fair representation of the matter, he is certainly to be pitied, instead of being reasoned with. The distinction set up is important, it is substantial, it is this, that the British Parliament may have good right and lawful authority to make a law to operate in England within the jurisdiction of Parliament, where the people are represented, for to lay a duty of one shilling, or nineteen shillings, if you please, on the pound, for the purpose of raising a revenue; and yet have no authority or right to make a law to operate within the Colonies beyond the jurisdiction of Parliament, where the people are not represented, for to lay a duty of three pence, or even the infinitissimum of a farthing, for the same purpose. Admitting that some of the Whigs set up different though consistent distinctions at different times, or rather, expressed the same distinction by different words, does it affect the merits of the controversy? Does it not rather prove that the Stamp Act, which ushered in the present ruinous system of politicks, was such a novelty in Colony administration, and the principle it dragged after it such a monster in an English Constitution, as to render a description of it difficult by terms and distinctions?

Had we time for amusement, and to trace the Tories in the route they have taken, we could give such a curious history of their distinctions, contradictions, explanations, and declarations, in nurturing of this despicable brat of ministerial influence, if not in the unnatural part they acted as midwives, to give it birth, as would grace the Memoirs of Don Quixotte, or the most fantastick Knighterrant that ever lived. When the Tea Act, with others, passed, no American was found hardy enough openly to assert a right in Parliament to tax the unrepresented inhabitants of the Colonies; this was reserved as an exploit for our undaunted writer. At that time the Tories, or rather the friends to Government, as they call themselves, to save appearance, conjured up from their own noddles the ideas of a virtual representation; we heard much about the Americans being virtually represented in the British Parliament. This for awhile was trumpeted forth by every creature, or spawn of a creature, in the toryistical choir. They hugged the unmeaning invention until, by its becoming familiar, it grew contemptible; at last with shame they gave it up. However, it was succeeded by another distinction from the same fountain (a Tory' s fertile brain) equally ridiculous. The duty upon Tea was no tax. It was for the purpose of regulating trade. Nothing was a tax that could possibly be eluded, as this might by not consuming the dutied article. This was not long matter of dispute. The Ministry had christened their, own bantling, they called it a tax; its sponsors, or God-fathers in America, rather than quarrel with their best friends, consented, at length, to call it by its proper name. The curtain is still kept drawn; and the farce continues. It is next admitted to be a tax, and that Parliament had no right to impose it. But yet it was our duty to submit to it cheerfully, acknowledge the right of laying it, and in that way get it removed. Having worried through all this series of contradictions, with much more equally curious, to no purpose; being chagrined with disappointment, and provoked at their own folly and stupidity, their last resort is to speak out, and declare us slaves. This Massachusettensis was most heroically resolved upon. He accordingly asserts that Parliament has a right to tax us; a right to make laws binding upon us in all cases whatsoever; and that opposition to such laws would be treason and rebellion. Such has been the vile employment, the sordid drudgery of those engaged in support of Court measures, though no person has reason to grudge them their places and pensions, either in enjoyment or expectancy, as compensations for their service. Certainly those inferiour animals that are scattered up and down through the Country, those jackals, which, like so many satellites, have been revolving round some military Officer or new made Justice, in expectation of titles, of feathers, are much to be pitied. Poor things ! could their leaders once get seated securely in the chair of greatness and absolute power, this insignificant tribe of fawners, seekers, and expectants, would be forever dismissed from their


service; and their greatest misfortune, perhaps, would be, that they were once acquainted. To such, it is the advice of, a friend immediately to throw off the infatuation, put on the man, and show the world they are not to be duped.

"It is of the last importance," says Massachusettensis, "to settle this point, that is, the right of Parliament; it will (continues he) serve as a true test, certain criterion, and invariable standard, to distinguish the friends from the enemies of our Country, patriotism from sedition, loyalty from rebellion." I heartily subscribe to the justice of this observation, but commisserate the unhappy situation of its author, if the friends and enemies of our Country should be distinguished by this standard of his own erecting, which, to do him justice, is the standard of truth. Weighed in such an equitable and discriminating balance, we should find all those fair pages of calumny which our author has published to the world respecting the conduct of the Whigs, converted into the sweetest encomiums; and Massachusettensis would be but another name for treason; the friends to Government, order, and the laws, in the modern prostituted application of the words, and the advocates for injustice, oppression, tyranny, and rebellion, would become synonymous terms.

After making some observations, which are nothing to the purpose, unless the Colonies are annexed to the Realm, which is not the case, nor ever will be; and if they were, it would not follow, if Guernsey and Jersey are enslaved, that the Americans must be so too; a clause from our first Charter, too long to be repeated, respecting incorporation, is recited by our author, upon which he gravely asks this simple question, "Whether it looks like a distinct or independent State?" We may fully answer him by another question equally simple, viz: Is there a single word in it that looks like uniting us to the British Empire, or subjecting us to the authority of Parliament? If it has not this look, it does not look to the point; for it is demonstration, as there was a time when the Colonies were disunited from the Realm and the supreme authority of the Parent State, that they are so now, unless there is evidence of a subsequent connexion. It is to be wished that those who keep eternally harping upon our being annexed to the British Realm, would point out the process that united us. There is none in nature. I challenge them to produce any.

The two next adduced paragraphs from our first Charter, we have examined in our third and fourth numbers, and have shown the first exactly to correspond with the rights we contend for, and the latter to be absolutely inconsistent with, and repugnant to, every principle and idea of our being a part of the British Empire, and subject to its Sovereign power. It is therefore unnecessary to take them up in this place.

The last-recited clause from this Charter we have also considered; the substance of which is, that all and every of the subjects of the King of England, his heirs and successors, who should go to and inhabit in the Massachusetts Colony, and all their children born in the said Colony, or on the Seas, should have and enjoy all the liberties and immunities of free and natural born subjects within any of the Dominions of the King, his heirs and successors, to all intents and purposes whatsoever, as if they were, and every of them, born within the Realm.

"It is upon this clause, or a similar one in the Charter of William and Mary, that our patriots have built up the stupendous fabrick of American independence." Be it so: the foundation, were there no other, would sustain the building; it is impossible to undermine it or explain it away.

"I have already," says our writer," shewn that the supposition of our being exempted from the authority of Parliament, is pregnant with the grossest absurdities." No mortal, excepting himself, has ever been able to see those absurdities. We have seen what such empty pretensions amounted to in a past paper, and to whom the absurdities were imputable. "Let us now," says he, "consider this clause in connexion with other parts of the Charter." Here we are led to expect some important reasoning; however, a recital of his argument is its best confutation. "If," says he, "we suppose this clause to exempt us from the authority of Parliament, we must throw away all the rest of the Charter, for every other part indicates the contary


as plain as words can do." This is considering the clause in connexion with other parts. There is no end in contradicting the mere assertions of one who lets his pen run so freely. Read the Charter, and see if any part indicates the contrary, unless profound silence upon the subject is taken for such an indication.

"What is still worse, this clause becomes felo de se, and destroys itself; for if we are not annexed to the Realm we are aliens, and no Charter, grant, or other act of the Crown can naturalize us, or entitle us to the liberties and immunities of Englishmen." This is begging the question; it goes upon the old Jacobitish supposition deteriorated. It supposes that within the Realm the subject holds all his rights and liberties of the King, as the original possessor; and that persons out of the Realm, in a state of nature, possess no rights and liberties as men. In short, it supposes Great Britain to be the grand and only store-house of freedom, the dispenser of civil blessings, and that no part of the wide world can be entitled to any liberties or immunities, but what she, of her special grace and mere bounty, is pleased to grant them; whereas the truth is, we were entitled to all the rights of Englishmen, independent of any Charters or Realms under Heaven; and surely we are not the less so for having them confirmed by compact.

We shall waive what might be offered respecting aliens' allegiance to the King, and the relation that Wales, Jersey, Guernsey, and Ireland, stand in to the Realm of England, as they do not affect the solution of our present question.

More distortions, windings, and twistings, were never crowded into so small a compass as in the paragraph we are now considering. The following is diverting enough: "If a person born in England removes to Ireland, Jersey, or Guernsey, and settles there, he is then no longer represented in the British Parliament, but he and his posterity are, and will ever be, subject to its authority. So that the inhabitants of the American Colonies do, in fact, enjoy all the liberties and immunities of natural born subjects. We are entitled to no greater privileges than those who are born within the Realm; and they can enjoy no other than we do when they reside out of it. Thus it is evident that this clause amounts to no more than the Royal assurance that we are a part of the British Empire, and natural born subjects, and as such bound to obey the supreme power of the State." Such a concatenation of ideas were never jumbled up together before. The clause grants to all persons who were born within the Realm, and should come and inhabit in this Province from time to time, as well as to all their children born on the seas, or in this Colony, all the liberties and immunities of free natural born subjects within any of the King' s Dominions, to all intents apd purposes whatsoever, as if they were born within the Realm of England, The language of this clause, then, according to our mysterious interpreter, to all those who come from England here, would be this, viz: You who are born within the Realm of England, and shall go and inhabit in the Massachusetts Colony, shall have and enjoy all the liberties and immunities that those have and enjoy who are born within the Realm, of England, and shall go and inhabit in America. As great a solecism as ever entered the head of man. If the accidental liberties that those persons enjoy who are only born within the Realm, and remove to foreign parts, are to measure and point but ours, how shall we ever know them? Is Ireland, Guernsey, the East and West-Indies, or Turkey, to decide the question and define the rights of all America? for those born in England have gone to, and enjoy different liberties in all these places; and, according to our logician, if the Americans enjoy as much liberty as those who were born in England enjoy in any of those Dominions, even if it be in Turkey, we are entitled to no more.

This clause is so far from being the Royal assurance that we are a part of the British Empire, and as such subject to its supreme authority, that it is directly the contrary, Its meaning undeniably is, notwithstanding the violence offered It by the Tories, who are pierced to their very vitals by its force, that we should enjoy all the privileges and immunities that the inhabitants of Great Britain are entitled to. What some of these were, we saw in our last number. It can have no other meaning but this, which will support that stupendous fabrick of American independence


which we have possessed and practised upon for a century and a half, and which our patriots are struggling to preserve against the storms, the sackings and sappings of the Tories.

Whoever reads the Charter, continues he, will meet with irresistible evidence that our being within the jurisdiction of Parliament were the very tenures by which they held their estates. It is astonishing that any man will give himself such liberties. Whoever reads the Charter with an expectation of finding evidence of this, or any thing of the kind, will most certainly find himself egregiously disappointed. There is nothing from beginning to end that looks any more like it than what may be found in the Assembly' s Catechism, or the Pilgrim' s Progress.