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Address to the Inhabitants of the Province of South Carolina



Charlestown, June 20, 1774.

MY DEAR COUNTRYMEN: I cannot but hope that the late Act for intimidating America, by the punishment of Boston, will open your eyes, and arouse you from your lethargy. It seems then that we are now to submit to every imposition of our fellow-subjects, however arbitrary and cruel, or we are to be dragooned into it. You find the Parliament, not contented with a claim to the right of taxing us without our consent, now rise higher in their demands, and assume the power of breaking all our Charters, giving and granting our wharfs and shore-lands, and, in short, they plainly claim the power of making the King absolute in America. I shall make a few strictures on the Act of Parliament, and leave you to judge whether there ever was an Act of so base and poisonous a nature, stolen by the vilest Ministry from the most abject Senate.

It begins by setting forth the cause of this strange and arbitrary measure, and what is it? Why, forsooth, because divers ill-affected persons had fomented and raised dangerous commotions and insurrections in the town of Boston, in which commotions and insurrections certain valuable cargoes of tea had been destroyed, &c˙, &c. It is not pretended — it could not be pretended, that the town of Boston, as such, was concerned in these riots — but some ill-minded persons; and what is the consequence?

That grave and omnipotent body, instead of enabling his Majesty


to prosecute and bring to justice those ill-minded persons, proceed to pass an Act to ruin, if possible, a whole town, and with them, a whole Province; in the most cruel and unjust manner to distress and destroy not less than forty thousand people more than can be supposed to have had a hand in the riot. And not only them, but virtually to confiscate, not merely the wharfs and quays of Boston, but all the shore-lands round that great bay comprehended between Nahant and Alderton Points, so that the navigation, upon which multitudes out of the town of Boston, as well as in it, must subsist, is violently taken from them. It is the happiness of all God' s creatures, that in him omnipotence and justice are joined; it is like to be the curse of America if the Parliament is allowed to be almighty; that it has neither justice nor mercy. If the Parliament is to have the absolute government of us, we have here a specimen of what we are to expect. If a few ill-minded persons were to take upon them to make water against the door of a custom house officer, or of a cellar where the tea is lodged, upon the same principle all in Charlestown might be laid in ashes.

But let us advert to the principle of the Act. By the first and second clauses of it, all the wharfs, quays, landings, and water lots of that great bay between Nahant and Alderton Points, which are the subsistence of many thousand people, are condemned, and little better than confiscated, as no goods are either to be landed upon them or shipped from them by any vessel down to the size of a common wherry; and thus under the penalty not merely of the forefeiture of the vessels and cargoes, with the horses, carriages, cattle, and every utensil concerned in carrying goods so landed, hut of a fine, three times the value of such goods at the highest price of them, upon any person that shall so much as aid or abet; these fines not to be recovered in a common court of law, where you might have a chance for justice upon a trial by jury, but in a Court of Admiralty, that monster of oppression! where the King, who is to receive the fine, is both judge and jury. Upon which clauses I would only ask, when was the Parliament of Great Britain vested by the Americans with a right to their wharfs and landings? If the money in our pockets is really represented in Parliament, as the trainers of the Stamp Act seemed to imagine, when did ever the Americans give one inch of their lands into the power of their fellow-subjects in England? Are our lands then — all our estates, nay, our peace, and life itself, to lie at the pleasure of any Minister who is knave enough to bribe an English Parliament.

As though this was not enough, and our Ocean itself must not be free to our ships, by the next clauses no ship or vessel of any size is to be permitted, upon any pretence, or any exigency, to come into the bay; no, not so much as to hover off and lie in the Ocean. A league of the sea is abridged, not suffered to be sailed upon by mariners; nay, vessels of any Nation coming there, though by accident or ignorance, (as no sufficient time is given to spread the intelligence,) are subjected to the caprice of any wretch who commands those worse than Spanish guards costas, to be assigned to whatever port he thinks fit, and if not obeyed in six hours, to be forfeited, cargo and all.

Dip farther into this production of Hell and you find that not so much as a wood-boat can enter — not a market-boat can enter — not a market boat bring a few cabbages or bushels of corn to support sixty thousand people, but it must first enter at Salem (twenty miles the straightest way by land, but by sea a much greater distance) to obtain a permit, and even not then without an insolent officer and armed men on board. This seems designed to starve the town, or at least to raise the price of provisions, so as to force that capital of America to yield, and by that means to discourage all future struggles for liberty.

To force the officers on the station to be faithful and to deter any one of them who might otherwise listen to the native suggestions of an English heart, five hundred pounds sterling fine is imposed upon the one who shall so much as connive at the smallest breach of the Act.

It is impossible that by the first of June intelligence of this measure should have spread even through America, and yet, on that day, all charter parties are rendered void that have been made for that port, by which the freighters on many vessels must be ruined.


But to crown the whole, my countrymen, and to show you what treatment you are to expect by tame submission to that many-headed tyrant, this oppression is to be continued until all the demands of the East India Company are satisfied, and all the imaginary injuries received by the Commissioners in certain times past from the mob, are redressed. By whom? by the town of Boston; by the innocent as well as the riotous, and how? As a town they can do nothing, unless they tax every individual inhabitant. But when is it to be supposed that satisfaction is made? Why, when the Governour, who, by office, if not by inclination, is supposed to be a mere tool of arbitrary power, shall be brought to certify that it is done. But suppose this satisfaction is made, is all then over? No. They have been so kind, after this, as to subject the immense property of so many thousand people, not to the future adjudications of another Parliament: they supposed it possible that another Parliament might be shocked with horror with the crime; they supposed that the ancient English soul, but now fled to America, might have fortitude to stand it out for a time; they, therefore, put it out of the power of a future Parliament, by leaving it to the King. The Minister did not choose to put the delightful carnage out of his own hands; that Minister, who contemptuously refused satisfaction from the merchants at home, determined to keep the matter in his own power, thereby violating the first rights of Englishmen, by which our property should be sacred as well as our lives.

But have the Parliament been content, then, to throw the town of Boston wholly into the King' s hands until satisfaction is made? No. To complete the massacre of American liberty, they have, in defiance of all law and justice, put it into the King' s power to judge and determine, for ever hereafter, what use shall be made, or not be made, of those immense estates in water lots, which surround one of the most extensive bays in America. They have, in effect, given and granted to his Majesty all the wharfs and landings in Boston, and around the harbour, through all generations; for, if it must be wholly at the King' s pleasure whether I shall make a wharf or landing on my land or not; or, if I do, whether I shall make any use of it, the nature of the property is wholly altered. Is that my land which I cannot improve as I please, or on which I am not allowed to land goods even that have paid the duty? Shall we be thus given, by our brethren, into the hands of the King, to do with our estates as he sees proper?

Compared to this Act, what are all the clauses of Parliamentary power heretofore made? The design of this is threefold. First, to establish a precedent of Parliamentary right even to dispose of our lands. Secondly, to promote a new wharf office for the support of a thousand more bloodsuckers in America; and, thirdly, to give the King power to punish, by these wretches, any wharf holder who shall hereafter prove patriotic, or have the honesty to espouse the cause of his oppressed country. Thus you find the property of thousands of Americans, not merely taxed by aliens, but effectually taken out of their hands, and every one of their grants by which the possessors now hold them, the waters, water courses, landings, and every other appurtenance, rendered null and void. No right is too sacred to be violated by a Minister who has a Parliament at his nod. What an aspect has this upon the landholders in America? What are you to expect from such a precedent as this? Have not the Parliament as good a right to pass an Act tliat rice and indigo shall be made only in such parts of this country as the King shall direct? For my part, I should not be surprised even to see an edict restricting the making of these articles to the Colony of Georgia, and imposing heavy fines upon those who should presume to make them here. And all this is done against the sanctity of a most solemn Charter, granted expressly to secure certain rights and privileges to a people not only beyond he power of Parliament, but beyond the power of the King himself, the Crown having pledged its faith, not to be recalled, never to violate those privileges. And now, when, upon the faith of such solemn agreement, a country is subdued, and cities built, an insolent Minister, taking affront at the opposition of a favourite scheme of oppression, shall, by a word, overset the whole, we are now threatened with the loss of all the Charters in America,


if we do not submit. At this rate, what security have we of our lives, liberties, and all we hold dear? Was it ever known that the Parliament did give and grant the landed property of any country or town in England into the King' s power for ever? No, this is what no Parliament ever thought it had a right to do, even in the country which it represents. But what they cannot do in England, they undertake to do here. Indeed, if we are to be governed by English Parliaments, we must expect that they will lay upon us what they would not venture to lay upon their own constituents. They have actually now voted away certain property of Americans, which they dare not do of the English themselves. No Minister could, have the boldness to propose such a thing with the City of London.

This, ye base advocates for Parliamentary power in America, this is the blessed fruit of your doctrines. The matter now speaks for itself, and it is out of your power to disguise it. And now, whether supported by place or pension, or only formed to slavish principles by connection and interest, I call upon you to vindicate these proceedings. It has often been to me a wonder, that any set of men who breathe American air can find it in their hearts to wish America enslaved, and their children to grow up under chains; that any set of men, nourished by its bread, and drawn from the kennel of obscurity by American bounty, should advocate the cause of American thraldom. I have often been astonished that, in the midst of a free and spirited people, there should be found a wretch so insolent as to hold up his head in company and speak against the rights of an Injured and oppressed country. These intestine enemies are more to be feared than the arms of Britain herself. Mark every man, my dear countrymen, who on this occasion slyly attempts to divide you, or weaken your zeal; withdraw your countenance and support from him; give it to those who merit it, and set him down as a traitor.