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Memorial from the Officers of the Military Association


A Memorial from the Officers of the Military Association of the City and Liberties of Philadelphia was presented to the House, and is as follows, viz:

"To the Honourable Representatives of the Freemen of the Province of PENNSYLVANIA, in General Assembly met:

"The Memorial of the Officers of the Military Association of the City and Liberties of PHILADELPHIA, humbly sheweth:

"That your Memorialists have been favoured with a copy of an address, said to be that of the people called Quakers, containing matter of so much importance to the opposition now so universally gone into against ministerial oppression, that your memorialists cannot pass it by with silence, though they apprehend that the contents of it cannot make the intended impression on the minds of men so enlightened as the Representatives of this Province. But as we know, by fatal experience, that papers of a publick nature, coming from a body of men supposed by the Ministry to have very general influence in the Province, have contributed to draw upon us our present calamities, we are constrained to remonstrate against the address; and this with a view not only of expressing our abhorrence of the doctrines contained in it, but of justifying ourselves from


the groundless aspersions thrown on us among the other bodies of freemen, who, out of zeal for the publick service, have presented petitions and memorials to your honourable House.

"We cannot but see with astonishment the antiquated and absurd doctrine of passive obedience held up in this age of science, and that before the representative body of this Province, whose existence as a constitutional House of Assembly depends on the contrary to this slavish opinion. We do, in the most solemn manner, protest that we mean not to violate the rights of conscience, as we are unjustly charged; but cannot, from all the lights we are possessed of, discover that, under the idea of conscientious scruples, opinions should he promulgated, subversive of every political principle of that glorious Constitution, to defend which we have put our lives and fortunes to the hazard, and tending to throw a damp upon the plan of opposition which alone, under God, can save from destruction this devoted Country.

"We cannot alter the opinion we have ever held with regard to those parts of the Charter quoted by the addressers, that they relate only to an exemption from any acts of uniformity in worship, and from paying towards the support of other religious establishments than those to which the inhabitants of this Province respectively belong. We know of no distinctions of sects, when we meet our fellow-citizens on matters of publick concern; and ask those conscientiously scrupulous against bearing arms to contribute towards the expense of our opposition, not because of their ‘religious persuasion, but because the general defence of the Province demands it. Therefore, that part of the Charter which relates to people not being’ molested or prejudiced in their person or estate, on account ‘of their conscientious persuasion or practice,’ is totally out of the question, and has been held up with a view to alarm the House with groundless apprehensions.

"We beg leave to remind the honourable House of the constant usage of the Province, and that, in all the wars we have been engaged in, no exemption from fines and taxation has been made in favour of any set of people; but, on the contrary, laws and ordinances have repeatedly been made for the purposes of defence, laying general imposts on the inhabitants of the Province, of all sects and societies.

"We are, however, of opinion that speculative disputes should not now be gone into. The enemy are desolating our Country, and danger daily awaits us. Our situation, therefore, furnishes us with arguments, drawn from the laws of nature and reason, which transcend all local establishments. From these laws, and the general principles of civil society, it is undoubtedly certain that all persons who enjoy the benefits should also hear their proportion of the burdens of the state. We cannot conceive it to be consistent with a reasonable conscience to acquire and engross considerable property, in any country, and not part with some of it to defend the rest. We further think, that those who apply taxes, and not those whom the exigencies of the state and the weight of a majority oblige to pay them, are answerable for the consequences of such application. We conscientiously believe that no member of society should be exempted from paying a reasonable proportion of his property towards the general defence, though, he may be exempted from actually bearing arms; and in such case, by paying a fine for such exemption, he is in a better situation than one who risks his life in the service. And if the wealthy members of the society of Quakers are permitted to withhold their proportion, it will in some degree be an invasion of our liberty of conscience, by denying us the means of so effectually making a warlike opposition against our oppressors, which cannot be done without money.

"We know not what ‘schemes’ the addressers allude to; for our parts, we have none, but to defend our lives, liberties, and property, and by every lawful and reasonable mode to obtain an equal and general contribution for this purpose, from all ranks of people.

"We pray the House to recollect the mischievous consequences which have arisen from a former production, said to come from the whole body of the people called Quakers; but which, as we have reason to believe, like that now before your honourable House, flowed from a few


individuals, who assumed to themselves the prerogative of speaking the sentiments of the whole society; and that your honourable House will reject from their minutes their present address, which tends to show a disunion among us, and therefore may be of fatal consequences to our cause.

"And, as we fear the people will not longer submit to see the publick burden so unequally borne, we earnestly beg, to preserve the peace of the Province, and the consequence of your honourable House, (which we would wish to govern us in this important struggle, in preference to any other body,) you will be pleased to take into your consideration our former memorials relative to the Association, which we engaged in from the best of motives, and which has been solemnly approved of by a vote of your honourable predecessors.

"By order of a Board of Officers:


Philadelphia, October 31, 1775."