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Speech of Captain Wilson


Thursday, October 12, 1775.

Captain Wilson said, that as his knowledge of American politicks was only derived from newspapers, he was convinced, as such authority had heretofore been deemed unworthy the attention of the House, of his incompetence to discuss the subject, although he was fixed in his sentiments; for which reason he did not take a part in the debate yesterday. He said that it had been much complained of, that gentlemen too often came into the House predetermined how they would vote, let the arguments be, on either side, however cogent; but that he thought on some occasions it was expedient and necessary for gentlemen who did not make politicks their entire study. To support his position, he said, that the variety of contradictory assertions which often happened in the House, must, on subjects of importance, unavoidably bewilder the understanding of many. For instance, that he had heard it asserted that the greatest part of His Majesty' s Colonies were now in a state of rebellion, and, on the other hand, that they were only contending for their natural rights, in opposition to a tyrannick Ministry. He heard it said, that the American proceedings were abhorred by almost all His Majesty' s subjects; and that he had heard it insisted, that an infinite majority of the Protestants of Ireland wished them an emancipation from their oppression, as the probable consequence of the Ministry issuing their design on America must be the inevitable vassalage of Ireland. That he had heard it insinuated that a great man, well known in the


political world, was a man of fire without judgment, and words without truth; that by others it was alleged he was revered by every friend of the Constitution, and was a most able and unrivalled statesman. That he heard it said, the import of the clause in the address respecting the American disputes, was of no other consequence than to declare our attachment to His Majesty; and, on the other hand, he heard it strenuously contended, that it was a very dangerous foundation for a more dangerous superstructure. That he heard it asserted the Americans were an infamous, fanatick banditti, consisting of the outcasts of both Kingdoms; and, on the other hand, as warmly maintained, that they were a wealthy, honest, brave, industrious people, toiling to enjoy their natural rights. He then said he would not at that time pretend to give an opinion, but that, if they were that desperate gang as represented, they were very unfit to be trusted with dangerous weapons; wherefore, he begged to submit a proposal to the consideration of gentlemen; which was, that in the next address they should insert the following clause:

"That His Majesty' s Ministers may graciously take into consideration the dangerous effects, on His Majesty' s liege Troops, by those inhuman weapons called rifle-guns; and that they may be pleased to issue a proclamation forthwith, that such of the Provincial Troops as are called Riflemen be disbanded, and the barrels of their guns be turned into plough-irons; and, by way of punishment to those who have made use of such weapons, that they may be converted into plough-horses; and if any difficulty should attend the execution of such orders, that said men and guns be sent to His Majesty' s Ministers of the Gospel in Canada, who will very soon have the matter accomplished, as they do not find the least trouble in much more miraculous transformations."

The House then adjourned till Tuesday, the 24th instant.