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him in his proposal. These untutored savages would startle at the question, and wonder that there could be a person so ignorant as not to know that publick messengers, with the calumet in their hands, are entitled to audience, respect, and hospitality. And shall Americans, glorying in their attachment to the rights of humanity, be the first to violate obligations which have been thus universally held sacred? No! Let us never give that advantage to those who have been striving to excite the indignation of mankind against us as faithless people, ferocious, barbarous, and uninfluenced by those humane sentiments and finer feelings which, in modern times, have, in some measure, softened the horrors of war. We know that such a charge is as malicious as it is groundless. Instances enough might be produced to refute it, since this contest was carried on by arms; and I trust no future ones will be found which might have a tendency to support it.
As we have long professed an ardent desire for peace, let us meet those who bring the terms, with that virtuous confidence which is inseparable from an upright conduct. Let us hear their proposals with patience, and consider them with candour; remembering how deeply the happiness of millions may be concerned in the issue. If what they offer be such as freemen ought to accept, my voice shall be for an immediate reconciliation, as I know of no object so worthy of a patriot as the healing our wounds, and the restoring of peace, if it has for its basis an effectual security for the liberties of America . If, on the contrary, the terms which may be offered should be such as we cannot accept, we have only to say so, and the negotiation will be at an end.
But this writer is greatly concerned for our virtue, lest we should be cajoled, deceived, and corrupted. I confess these fears appear to me so groundless, that I suspect their reality. Is it possible, in good earnest, to entertain so ill an opinion of those who have staked their lives and fortunes on this contest, as to believe that they will suffer themselves to be flattered out of their liberties, or induced to sell their birthright for a mess of pottage?
When I consider that this treaty is to be managed, on the part of America, by men delegated for their integrity and abilities by the voice of their country, I feel myself quite easy on that score. If the scheme of the Ministry be to try the arts of corruption where their arms cannot prevail, there are other and less suspicious ways of carrying it into execution than by Commissioners in the face of America, where they will have the eyes of all fixed upon them, and their conduct diligently watched and severely scrutinized.
Upon the whole, it appears that this writer is more an enemy to the business on which the Commissioners are to be sent, than really apprehensive for our virtue. He seems to have drank deep of the cup of Independence; to be inimical to whatever carries the appearance of peace; and too ready to sacrifice the happiness of a great Continent to his favourite plan. Among such Writers, I pretend not to class myself; for I am bold to declare, and hope yet to make it evident to every honest man, that the true interest of America lies in reconciliation with Great Britain upon constitutional principles; and I can truly say, I wish it upon no other terms.
Why the many publications in favour of Independency (with which our presses have lately groaned) have passed hitherto unnoticed, I am not able to determine. But there are certainly times when publick affairs become so interesting, that every man becomes a debtor to the community for his opinions, either in speaking or writing. Perhaps it was thought best, where an appeal was pretended to be made to the common sense of this country, to leave the people for a while to the free exercise of that good understanding which they are known to possess. Those who made the appeal have little cause to triumph in its success. Of this they seem sensible; and, like true quacks, are constantly pestering us with their additional doses, till the stomachs of their patients begin wholly to revolt. If little notice has yet been taken of the publications concerning Independence, it is neither owing to the popularity of the doctrine, the unanswerable nature of the arguments, nor the fear of opposing them, as the vanity of the authors would suggest. I am confident that nine-tenths of the people of Pennsylvania yet abhor the doctrine.
If we look back to the origin of the present controversy, it will appear that some among us at least have been constantly enlarging their views, and stretching them beyond their first bounds, till at length they have wholly changed their ground. From the claim of Parliament to tax us, sprung the first resistance on our part. Before that unjust claim was set on foot, not an individual, not one of all the profound legislators with which this country abounds, ever held out the idea of Independence. We considered our connection with Great Britain as our chief happinesswe flourished, and grew rich and populous, to a degree not to be parallelled in history. Let us then act the part of skillful physicians, and wisely adapt the remedy to the evil.
Possibly some men may have harboured the idea of Independence from the beginning of this controversy. Indeed, it was strongly suspected there were individuals whose views tended that way; but as the scheme was not sufficiently ripened, it was reckoned slanderous, inimical to America, and what not, to intimate the least suspicion of this kind.
Nor have many weeks yet elapsed since the first open proposition for. Independence was published to the world. By what men of consequence this scheme is supported, or whether by any, may possibly be the subject of future inquiry. Certainly it has no countenance from the Congress, to whose sentiments we look up with reverence. On the contrary, it is directly repugnant to every declaration of that respectable body. It would be needless to quote particular passages in proof of this, as they are to be met with in almost every page of their proceedings. I will refer to a few only, viz: their Resolves , March 5, 1775; their Declaration, July 6; their Address to the King, July 8; their Letter to the Lord Mayor of London; and more especially their Declaration for a Fast, June 12, in which, with the deepest marks of sincerity, they call upon all America to join with them in addressing the great Governour of the world, humbly beseeching him to avert the desolating judgments with which we are threatened; to bless our rightful Sovereign, &c.; that America may soon behold a gracious interposition of Heaven for the redress of her many grievances, the restoration of her invaded rights, and reconciliation with the parent State, on terms constitutional and honourable to both. Will any one be so hardy as to say, that either the appointment or observation of this solemn day was a mere mockery of Heaven and earth, or even that any American joined in it, who was not sincere? I trust not. But if multiplying authorities were of any use, I might add the sentiments of our own Representatives in Assembly, expressed in the Instructions to their Delegates; the sentiments of Maryland in similar Instructions; the Resolves of New-Jersey and New-Hampshire; nor shall the much injured Province of Massachusetts-Bay be left out of the catalogue, whose Provincial Congress, while yet bleeding with the wounds received at Lexington, thus addressed the inhabitants of Great Britain; These are marks of Ministerial vengeance against this Colony, but they have not yet detached us from our Royal Sovereign, &c, trusting that, in a constitutional connection with the mother country, we shall soon be a free and happy people. These were the sentiments of the Colony of the Massachusetts, signed by that great martyr to liberty, Doctor Warren, and soon after sealed with his blood.
The sentiments of sundry other Colonies might be shown to have corresponded with these; but this letter has already reached its full length. I shall take some future opportunity to examine the arguments which have been offered to induce a change of these sentiments; and, upon the whole, I doubt not to make it appear that Independence is not the cause in which America is now engaged, and is only the idol of those who wish to subvert all order among us, and rise on the ruins of their country.
ALEXANDER McDONALD, AND OTHERS, TO JONATHAN SERGEANT.
Princeton, New-Jersey, March 12, 1776.
SIR: We take the liberty of addressing ourselves to you, as a gentleman to whom we are all, in some measure, We labour under some embarrassments, which we wish, through you, to have laid before the Congress; not doubting but they will take the same into consideration, and grant such relief as may remove our apprehensions; which