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To the Inhabitants of British America



FRIENDS AND COUNTRYMEN: At a time when Ministerial Tyrants threaten a People with the total loss of their liberties, supineness and inattention on their part will render that ruin which their enemies have designed for them, unavoidable. A striking instance of this we have in the history of the Carthagenians. That brave people, notwithstanding they had surrendered up three hundred hostages to the Romans, upon a promise of being restored to their former liberties, found themselves instantly invaded by the Roman Army. Roused by this unexpected procedure, they sent Deputies to know the occasion of this extraordinary manoeuvre. They were told that they must deliver up all their Arms to the Romans, and then they should peaceably enjoy their liberties. Upon their compliance with this requisition, Marius, one of the Roman Consuls,


thus addressed them: "We are well pleased with these first instances of your obedience, and therefore cannot help congratulating you upon them. I have but one thing more to require of you in the name of the Roman people; I will therefore, without further preamble, plainly declare to you an order, on which the safety of your Republick, the preservation of your Goods, your Lives, and Liberties, depend. Rome requires that you abandon your City, which we are commanded to level with the ground. You may build yourselves another where you please, provided it be ten miles from the sea, and without walls or fortifications. A little courage and resolution will get the better of the affection which attaches us to old habitations, and is founded more in habit than in reason." The consternation of the Carthagenian Deputies, at hearing this horrid, treacherous speech, is not to be expressed. Some swooned away, others burst forth into cries and lamentations. Nor were even the Roman Soldiers who were present, unmoved at the affecting scene. "These sudden fits," said the base inhuman Consul, "will wear off by degrees. Time and necessity teaches the most unfortunate to bear their calamities with patience. The Carthagenians, when they recover their senses, will choose to obey."

Although the Carthagenians, after this, made a noble and manly resistance, yet the surrender of their Arms proved the destruction of that City, which had so often contended with Rome for the empire of the world.

Equally inexcusable with the Carthagenians, will the Americans be, if they suffer the tyrants who are endeavouring to enslave them, to possess themselves of all their Forts, Castles, Arms, Ammunition, and warlike Stores. What reason can be given by them for such cowardly and pusillanimous conduct? Perhaps it may be said that "there yet remains some gleam of hope, that the British Ministry may do us justice, bestow to us our liberties, and repeal those oppressive Acts which now hang over America." And was this even probable, it would hardly justify such a conduct. But what foundation have we for such a hope? If this be the intention of the Ministry, is a formidable Fleet and numerous Army necessary to bring it about? Could they not have given up their plan for enslaving America, without seizing all the strong holds on the Continent? upon all the Arms and Ammunition: and without soliciting and finally obtaining an order to prohibit the importation of warlike Stores into the Colonies? Does this speak the language of peace and reconciliation? or does it rather speak that of war, tumult, and desolation? And shall we, like the Carthagenians, peaceably surrender our Arms to our enemies, in hopes of obtaining in return the liberties we have so long contended for?

Be not deceived, my countrymen. Should the Ministry ever prevail upon you to make that base and infamous surrender, they will then tell you, in the language of the haughty and inhuman Marius, what those liberties are which they will in future suffer you to enjoy; and endeavour to persuade you, that when you have recovered your senses, you will choose to obey. Is it possible that any person among us thinks of making a submission to the several powers which now claim a right to rule over us? If so, let him take a view of the situation he and his American brethren must then be in. We all acknowledge our submission to the authority of our Provincial Legislature, in the same manner as the people in Great Britain acknowledge the power of Parliament over them; because the Assemblies here and Parliament there, are composed in part of persons elected by the people, and who are liable, for any misconduct, to be excluded by them from ever acting again as their Representatives; and where the people have this constitutional check upon their rulers, slavery can never be introduced. "But," says the famous Mr˙ Locke, "whenever a power exists in a state over which the people have no control, the people are completely enslaved." If this be the case, what shall we say to the claim of Parliament to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever? to the mandates of a Minister of State which so often have superseded the laws of the Colony Legislatures, although assented to by his Majesty? or to the late Order of the King and Council, prohibiting the importation of warlike Stores into the Colonies? And who, by the same colour of right, may, whenever they please, prohibit the importation


of any or even every other article. These are undoubtedly such powers as we have no check upon or control over; powers similar to those which have spread tyranny and oppression over three quarters of the globe; and if we tamely submit to their authority, will soon accomplish that slavery which they have long been endeavouring to brine upon America.

I am far from wishing hostilities to commence on the part of America; but still hope that no person will, at this important crisis, be unprepared to act in his own defence, should he, by necessity, be driven thereto. And I must here beg leave to recommend to the consideration of the people on this Continent, whether, when we are by an arbitrary decree prohibited the having Arms and Ammunition by importation, we have not, by the law of self-preservation, a right to seize upon those within our power, in order to defend the liberties which God and nature have given to us; especially at this time, when several of the Colonies are involved in a dangerous war with the Indians, and must, if this inhuman order has the designed effect, fall a prey to those savage barbarians who have so often deluged this land in blood.


New-Hampshire, December 24, 1774.