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Americus to the People of England



London, March 28, 1776.

The doctrine of recurring to the first principles on calamitous occasions not possible to be provided against by the positive laws of the State, was, till the Revolution, the theme of logical disputes, and the portion of abstract opinion. But at that glorious era in the history of the world, as well as of this country, it remained no longer a problem of the schools; it became law; and when the Crown pressed King William' s brows, Monarchy and the rights of mankind were, for the first time in human annals, made consonant and compatible — prerogative and private rights, obedience and resistance, so wisely blended together, that no


man who has ever since that day dared to violate its purity, but must answer for a crime against nature at the bar of God.

This palladium, purified from the rubbish, washed from the blood of five hundred years, placed by a kind of miracle in your hands, and your right to preserve it made the tenure of the Royal authority itself, you suffered, in thirty years afterwards, without murmuring, to be removed from amongst you, though the pretext for doing it only added insult to injury; and, couched as it was under Parliamentary language, was a gross and impudent affront to the nation.

As I address myself to the whole body of the people, rich and poor, many of whose situations set them aloof from a knowledge of our history and Constitution, I assert, that that Parliament, which continued itself from three years to seven, was guilty of a notorious breach of publick trust; and that the King, when he confirmed the act, broke his coronation oath of Government according to law. From that period we are to date that omnipotence of Parliament, which is now shaking the empire to the centre, in less than ninety years from the birth of the Constitution. By suffering that stroke of Parliamentary magick to pass unpunished, the allegiance of the Commons was annihilated and dissolved; since at any time, by submission to the two other estates, they might, from peaceable and undisputed precedent, renew their lease, and usurp your elective rights.

This opus magnum, this grand elixir of life, being thus discovered, the terrours of retribution are taken away. As long, indeed, as your corruption makes a vacancy, like the surrender of a copyhold estate, to be granted back on a fine, or, rather, as a reserved rent on a freehold, they will submit to betray you under the humble title of servants; but should you ever recover your senses, they would immediately have recourse to the old experiment to evade your resentment. Even now were you to call aloud to Parliament to restore the honour, the peace, and commerce of the nation, and declare you would no longer support the expenses of a ruinous and iniquitous war, you would soon be told that the Constitution knows no other power than the King, Lords, and Commons; that the power of the last, when delegated, cannot be dictated to, or recalled; a proclamation of rebellion would be issued; the Militia would be embodied into a standing Army; and you would be taxed to the teeth to defray the charges of your own subjection.

Make the case of America your own, then, before it is too late. The same scenes are preparing for Ireland, and you must drink the dregs of both the cups. If you suffer an infringement of the, rights of the remotest verge of the empire, it will soon run, like electricity, to the centre. Strip off the bark from the hardy oak, and the heart will soon follow in decay. Rouse yourselves from the sleep in which the opiate of influence has hushed the British dragon till his head be cut off. Try the experiment of sending your instructions to the Commons, to put an end to the war; and if my prophecy be fulfilled in their reception, you already know the legal powers of redress with which you are invested by the Constitution.