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To The Inhibitants of the Massachusetts-Bay No. VI



Boston, March 23, 1775.

My Friends and Countrymen:

It is common for the solicitous, and honest inquirer after truth, to suspend his judgment until he becomes acquainted with the arguments on both sides of the question. But to demonstrative certainty there can be but one side only. And this, I think, we have already seen, to be plain, smooth, and as conspicuous as the beaming of the sun at noon-day. In matters of probability there are often counter arguments, mutually destroying each other, where the less being deducted from the greater, the assent of the mind is strong in proportion to the excess of evidence. If there are, in the nature of things, any real objections to our claim of Parliamentary independence, as defined in a past number, we may reasonably expect to find them in the publications of the toryistical champion, Massachusettensis. Like a veteran in the service, he has erected a fortress, and played briskly from his batteries, upon this subject, in three successive papers. From the great roar, and little execution, there is reason to expect his design was to raise a smoke, which might conceal a forlorn party from the enemy' s eye, and so secure a difficult retreat. Persuaded I am, if we can once reach his strong holds, by removing the rubbish and lumber which is artfully strewed to embarrass access, with a small force we can soon force his intrenchments.

To avoid prolixity, I shall not dwell upon such matters as fall within the reasoning and principles which we have already established, leaving you to your own recollection, and natural penetration upon a bare reference.


It may be of use to premise, that the question we have been examining, and which is still under consideration, is, whether we are in truth a part of the British Empire, in such a sense, as to be subject to her supreme authority in all cases whatever? Whether this subjection is fit and necessary on principles of rectitude and policy, is a distinct matter. Admitting this to be true, it is a good reason why we should immediately unite, but no evidence that we are already united. Nor is the question, whether a submission to ministerial measures be dangerous and ruinous, or forcible opposition to the regulating laws eligible and effectual. These matters are worthy your serious consideration. Our first attention ought to be to the justice of our cause; then, if prudence leads us to contend, we may reasonably expect, He who is higher than the highest, will look down with gracious approbation upon our righteous struggle, and by breaking the jaws of proud oppressors, take the prey even from between their teeth. It is necessary that the above distinctions be kept constantly in view, as they will secure us from a confusion of ideas on the one hand, and enable us to distinguish between reasoning and fallacy on the other, in publications where they are artfully confounded.

After a long parade upon miscellaneous subjects our designing reasoner fairly opens to the point. Says he, "the Colonies are a part of the British Empire." In support of which, he produces the opinion of the best writers upon the Law of Nations: that when a Nation takes possession of a distant country and settles there, that country, though separated from the principal establishment, or mother country, naturally becomes a part of the state, equal with its ancient possessions." The truth of this principle may be allowed with safety to our argument. For the conclusion, that a country, though separated from the principal establishment, becomes a part of the mother state, is general, depending upon an antecedent reason resulting from a particular state of facts in a number of similar instances, and therefore cannot be applied to cases not only dissimilar in general, but also in those particular circumstances upon which alone its whole force depends. The antecedent state of facts, which is assigned as a reason, by the civilians themselves, in support of their conclusion, is "a Nation' s taking possession of a country, and settling there." It is an invariable rule in logick, which our sophister is well acquainted with, that if the antecedent position of the argument is untrue or contradicted, the conclusion of course depending thereon falls to the ground. We have already shown that this Country was taken possession of by individuals, and by them settled at their own risk, and private expense, and not by the Nation as a Nation. So that this principle carries meat in its mouth, as is sometimes said; and in the application of our logical genius, to use his own language, is felo de se, destroys itself; for being without the reason, we cannot be within his conclusion.

The above-cited opinion not only fails of proving our connection in any degree whatever; but no argument can be adduced pertinent to our present subject from any precedents in ancient history, as the settlement of the American Colonies was undertaken from views, and accompanied with circumstances, singular, and perfectly dissimilar to those which influenced colonization in the more early ages of the world. We have not yet done with the above-cited opinion. Something worse is still behind. It not only fails of serving the purpose of him who adduced it, but so far as. it applies to the subject, it descends with its whole force directly against him. For the implication is violent, by a fair construction, that the opinion of the best writers on the Law of Nations is in favour of our being separate from the Mother Country, if this Colony was not taken possession of and settled by the English Nation as such. This is apparent, not only from the force of words, and thread of reasoning as explained above; but also from their express positions, that individuals have a right to abandon the jurisdiction of a State, and settle in some vacant part of the world, and thereby recover their natural freedom. The argument holds still stronger where the country moved to was in the prior occupacy of a foreign Nation, and honestly purchased of the occupants by the persons emigrating, as in the present instance. Therefore the authority of those writers, if they are consistent with themselves, is clearly in support of the doctrine of


indendence. For I appeal to every man' s private knowledge of the rise and progress of this Country. You have heard, my dear countrymen, you well know, your fathers have told you, nor will it be hid from your children, or the generations to come, the wonderful transactions of our virtuous predecessors; who, under the blessing of Providence, after they had been from one nation to. another, from one kingdom to another people, came and took possession of this land, wandering in it hungry and thirsty, naked and cold, finding no city to receive them, no house to repose in, no aid from their forsaken parent, a few in number surviving the accumulated hardships, they and their posterity settled and defended it, in their own right, at their own risk and expense against the horrid attacks of nations, savage, heathen, delighting in havock and in blood. Nay, I will venture to appeal to Massachusettensis himself, to his oracle of infallibility, the author of the history of this Province; these are his words, speaking of the war with Philip, in which many valuable lives were lost. Says he, "Fighting made soldiers. As soon as the inhabitants had a little experience of the Indian way of fighting, they became a match for them. An addition to their numbers they did not want. Be that as it may, this is certain, that as the Colony was at first settled, so it teas now preserved from ruin without any charge to the Mother Country." What are your feelings? Does not strong conviction arrest your minds? Does not reason and passion join their voice? Look to the graves of our slaughtered ancestors; they will open their mouths; and teach us freedom' s price in serious lessons wrote with blood.

Thus our silver-tongued disputant, (I had almost said doubled-tongued,) imagining that he had, or that a particular class of courtfidians would believe he had, proved, that the Colonies were a part of the British Empire, by an argument that concludes directly in his teeth, so far as it applies; he justly observes that two supreme independent authorities cannot exist in the same state, as it would, be imperium in imperio, the height of political absurdities; and thence infers, as well he might, our entire subjection to the uncontrollable power of the parent State. We may, in our turn, retort this argument with additional force, and, in his own way, prove we are not a part of the British Empire, by the following plain demonstrated position, viz: The Colonies are not subject to the supreme authority of Great Britain. The greatest statesmen and sages in the law of the past and present age, tell us that representation is commensurate with legislation — that they are inseparably joined by God himself in an eternal league. Two supreme independent authorities cannot exist in the same State. The Colonies are not represented in the supreme legislative court of the Parent Country. If then we are not subject to the superlative power of the British State, we are not part of the British Realm or Empire. What, my friends, becomes of this famous argument urged by Massachusettensis, which is introduced with so much pomposity, with such artful encpmiums on the British Constitution, as would, he seems to hope, reconcile one to slavery for the sake of being governed by King, Lords, and Commons; which is managed with such a career of words, and backed with such argumentative similes, taken from the economy of the human body, as would, he may think, induce the Colonists cheerfully to become the slaves of British subjects, if not the servants of British slaves.

To remove all scruples, respecting the matter, our writer in his next paragraph, without attempting to prove it, boldly asserts: It is beyond a doubt that it was both the sense of the Parent Country and our ancestors, that they were to remain subject to Parliament. It is evident, says he, from the Charter itself, and this authority has been exercised by Parliament from time; to time, almost ever since the first settlement of the Country, and has been expressly acknowledged by our Provincial Legislatures. I presume he never has, nor ever will he, or his posterity find a single instance where the authority of Parliament, to bind us in all cases whatsoever has been acknowledged by our Provincial Assemblies. They have, and do now, admit the right of regulating trade, from the necessity of the case, and the fitness and. rectitude of the measure. And if his ipse dixit is to be the rule of political faith, he might as well have told us, that it was the sense of our ancestors, and the Parent State, that we should be subject


to the Grand Seignior of Turkey, where the people, as well as the country, are the properly of the Emperour, every man' s fortune and life being solely at his disposal, without the least check or restraint. "But it is evident from the Charter itself," says he. Where is the evidence? Is it not as evident from the Alcoran or Church Liturgy? These matters we have already considered in other papers, to which I refer you.

He then admits there is one specious argument in our favour; but, says he, it leads to such absurdities as demonstrate its fallacy. It is this: "The Americans are entitled to all the privileges of an Englishman; it is the privilege of an Englishman to be exempt from all laws that he does not consent to, in person, or by representative; the Americans are not represented in Parliament, and therefore are not subject to its authority." I suspect, my countrymen, we have not been conversant enough in the school of absurdities to be able to detect the fallacy of this obstinate, this unwieldy argument. However, nil desperandum Massachusettense duce. "If (says our arch reasoner) the Colonies are not subject to the authority of Parliament, Great Britain and the Colonies must be distinct States, as completely so as England and Scotland were before the union, or as Great Britain and Hanover are now." Where, in the name of common sense, is the absurdity of Great Britain and the Colonies being distinct States' , united under one common Sovereign, seeing Scotland was so once, and Hanover is so now? The very instances that he adduces to illustrate his absurdities with, prove to demonstration that there is no absurdity in the supposition. An absurdity consists in a supposition or declaration inconsistent with the truth of fact, or the possible relation of things. But, says he, "in this case the Colonies will owe no allegiance to the imperial Crown, and perhaps not to the person of the King." Our subtile manager has sot told us, and I dare say never will, where the inconsistency is in not owing allegiance to the King, or point out the absurdities deducible from thence. Finding he could not get along with his reductio ad absurdum, he, like a person thoroughly acquainted with the futility of his argument, prudently chose to waive the subject. There is not only no absurdities deducible from the supposition of our owing no allegiance to the imperial Crown, but it is not true that this consequence follows from his premises, there being no connexion between our being independent of Parliament, and the inference drawn from thence. Let us examine it. A King of England, as such, "is a political entity. He has two distinct capacities, or bodies; the one natural, in common with other men, and subject to like passions; the other a body politick, consisting of those constitutional powers, prerogatives, and capacities which he derives from his subjects as their Sovereign. This latter body, never dies. Upon the dissolution of the natural, which is called the demise of the King, the body political is transferred or conveyed over from the deceased to another natural body; the name of King being a term of continuance. He forms one of the three distinct powers, or bodies, which are entirely Independent of each other, composing the supreme power or legislative authority of the Empire. The Lords spiritual and temporal is another, and aristocratical branch, distinct and independent. The House of Commons is a third democratical power, freely chosen by the people from among themselves. These three constitute that aggregate body called the British Parliament, whose sovereignty is constitutionally over all its constituents. By what principle in logick, then, by what hair-breadth argument, can be inferred a subjection to the two last of those powers, or to all three in concert, from an allegiance to the first? Where is the middle term that enforces the conclusion? Where the intermediate idea that shows the connexion? If there are none, (and I defy him to show any,) where, upon his own principles, is the mighty absurdity of Great Britain and the Colonies being distinct States, having one common Sovereign? To strengthen the supposition, I would ask, whether the Peers of the Realm, who sit in the House of Lords are Peers of America? This noble independent order are the Representatives of all the Commons in the Kingdom; and, like the House of Commons, can give their assent to no law which does not bind themselves, equally with all the other members of the comnunity. This is one of the principal securities to the


people against oppression. But where is the American' s security? On their supposition, avarice and ambition unchecked, is the guardian of his property; arbitrary will, and perhaps sportive caprice, the tenure by which he draws his breath".

The next inference that our indefatigable writer makes against us is, that by possibility we may owe no allegiance to the person of the King, that is, to the King of England, in no capacity whatever. Where he gets this conclusion, or how he draws it, I dare not hazard a conjecture, unless it be that he conjured it up with that huge group of verbose absurdities through which we have just now forced our way. Admitting it to be deducible from a state of facts, there is no inconsistency in the whole affair. And I will venture to say, that he who possesses such a facility at drawing of consequences, fas vel nefas, well knows that premises established are not to be invalidated by deductions therefrom. It is therefore unnecessary at this time to inquire, whether allegiance be if fact due to the person of the King, or to the British Crown. This is the less necessary, as Massachusettensis himself seemed to think there was no difficulty in getting over his own objection, after he had made it. It was the opinion of Lord Coke and others, the first in fame, that allegiance is due to the former. Either supposition is perfectly consistent with the American plan of independence. The latter we have above shown to be so. Allegiance to the person of the King is admitted to be so. Charles the First, who titled himself at the head of our former Charter, King of England, Scotland, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, &c˙, stipulated for himself and his Royal successors, by which the inhabitants of this Colony became his liege subjects, and he their acknowledged Sovereign. Now, although personal allegiance may be due, yet it is evident, both from the words of the Charter, its design and subject-matter, which is the best key for construction, that British royalty was a necessary qualification, and an English Crown an essential appendage of the person who is constitutionally the Sovereign of this Province. The person upon the Throne of England, by virtue of the British Constitution, is our rightful Sovereign, by virtue of our Provincial Charters, not because he is King of England, but because our Constitution vests the sovereignty of this Province in the person who is designated by a British Crown and an English Sceptre.

It is obvious to observe here, that when Our Charter was granted, and after, until the reign of Queen Anne, England and Scotland were two perfectly distinct and totally independent States, the supreme power of each being lodged in a Parliament of its own. Charles the First being a Prince common to both States, formed one branch of the supreme legislative authority in both Kingdoms. If, therefore, our becoming subject to this Prince brought us within the jurisdiction of the English Parliament, upon the principles of the Tories, for the same reason it subjected us to the sovereign power of the Scottish legislators, and of consequence exposed us to the service of two masters, to the distraction and misery of double legislation and complicated taxation — as great a political curse as can be in reserve in the store of Heaven for any people under its broad canopy. I have something further to say on this curious paper.