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be held on the 12th of November . Hereupon, a question arose on the mode of electionwhether it should be by publick voice, poll, or ballot. And it was determined at a publick meeting, called for that purpose, that it should be by ballot. Two tickets were, by the then two parties, made out, printed, and handed to the publick for their examination and amendment. At the day of election five hundred and seventeen voters, besides the voters from the District of Southwark, gave in their votes; and, upon counting them off, there appeared to be four hundred and ninety-nine for one ticket, with very few exceptions to any one name; and eighteen only for the other ticketa majority so clear and so evident, that there could not be a doubt how the election would go; which rendered it unnecessary for the voters to turn out so generally as they otherwise would have done. As the conduct of the Committee then chosen had the approbation of all the friends to the present opposition to the wicked measures of Great Britain, at the two following elections few alterations were made, and the persons proposed were so generally approved, it would have been unnecessary to have voted at all, but for the formality and name of the thing. You are also greatly mistaken in the number of voters for the present Committee, and I would set you right herein, if it were at all material in the case. But if you know anything of our elections, you must know that the circumstance of having but a few voters is common in our elections, even for Assemblymen and Burgesses, where there is little or no change proposed, or where the new candidate has the voice of the people generally in his favour. You are undoubtedly right in your observation, that attempts of unjustly acquiring power should be equally restrained in the lowest as in the highest; and the observation points out the necessity there is for the middle class of men constantly to watch both these orders, and rigorously to exert themselves in the defence of liberty; for upon their conduct will for ever depend the liberty of mankind.
But if your other charges and insinuations are as unjust and groundless as the insinuations respecting the Committee, whatever declarations of regard to order, Government, Charter rights, and liberty, which you may make; and whether your complexion be black, brown, or fair, your conduct and sentiments will resemble a modern (more than an ancient) Cato, who will consent to live a slave rather than to die free.
New-York, March 14, 1776.
Nothing can be more surprising than the great chain of events which have taken place in the American Colonies within the small compass of a few years. Possibly no instances occur in the history of mankind in which the universal opinion has been more frequently opposed. It is no wonder, then, that we now find ourselves at a loss where to fix. That the King can do no wrong; that the interests of Great Britain and the Colonies were the samereciprocal and inseparable; that she could not injure us without injuring herself, and therefore we were safe; that she was a tender parent, in whom we might confide implicitly; that she was the grand support of freedom and the Protestant religion; that the King was imposed upon by his Ministers; that a change in Administration would rectify evils complained of; that the abilities and weight of our friends in Parliament would prevent extremities; that our friends throughout the nation would return a better Parliament than the last; that the act declaring their right to tax us in all cases whatever would not be carried into execution, but remain a harmless letter; that the several repeals and seeming alterations in their plan of conduct proved a relinquishment of any evil intentions; that the power of Britain was such as we could not oppose through one single campaign; that our Provincial Troops could not face the regularity and discipline of British forces; that we have no resources to carry on a war; that jealousies and opposition of interests would ever prevent a junction of the Colonies;these, and a thousand other opinions in succession, have taken full possession of us; and, after a little while, we have found ourselves obliged to relinquish them. They were the grafts which might be expected to grow from that attachment to, and veneration for, the idea we had been taught to form of the wisdom, justice, and tenderness of Britain . It has also been supposed that we are so connected with, and dependant on, Great Britain, that repeated injuries, committed with an avowed intent to do them, and more; and that plundering, murder, executions, and conflagrationsin short, that all the havock of halters, fire, sword, and faminecannot destroy the debt of gratitude and justice we owe to that State, or make it our interest to dissolve the connection.
Let us examine this matter. Possibly the facts on which this opinion is founded may bear the inquiry not much better than the facts referred to above.
It is said we are indebted to Great Britain for the settlements of the Colonies. The truth is, when they were discovered, it was the effect of accident, concurring with the disposition of the hardy adventurer. The settlement was made by persons who had no great reason to be obliged to King or Parliamentthey were persecuted at home, and retired from mankind to a wilderness. There they suffered much, and risked all. If they obtained grants from the King, it could be only of security from further oppressions of his hand. More he could not grant. Even this was, for a while, refused. The land was inhabited by natives to whom God had given the property and dominion. Of these natives the property was bought by the settlers, who cleared the country, cultivated the soil, and grew and prospered in the arts and in Government, without any expense to the King or Parliament of Britain . It is said we are indebted to Great Britain for protection from our foes. It should be said, we have to charge Britain with all the foes and wars we ever had. In the infancy of the Colonies, they were thought of little value, not worth contending for. The very settling of them has been treated with neglect and contempt. Then they were in no danger. When their consequence afterwards became more apparent, (and, indeed, from their first origin to the present time, they have been so much advanced in population, wealth, and every advantage, as to be under no apprehensions from any of their neighbours; and had they, at any intermediate period, extended their trade generally to all parts of Europe, it is possible that the interest of every part in our commerce might have prevented any one power from oppressing or injuring us;) even Britain herself would have found it her interest to protect our peace and trade. But our forefathers were fond of the pageantry of a King, and attached to the country that gave them birth. They chose the King of England to be their supreme head, and flattered themselves that, though they were persecuted at home, yet, that he would leave to them peace, liberty, and safety, in the wilderness. Thus we have been involved in every British war. Even a dispute in Hanover was sufficient to deluge America in blood; and, till the year 1756, no war had any particular reference, in its principles, to American interests. Nor ought we to be charged with even that. However, the Parliament of Britain has done us the justice to acknowledge we then overdid our proportion, and they have refunded accordingly. In all instances, our coasts have, by them, been left unguarded, and our frontiers defenceless. When France and Spain scoured our shores because we were connected with Britain, we have been left without a single ship-of-war. When we trafficked with the Indians back for their land, or for peace, or repelled their incursions, it was at our own expense, though, in many cases, they were set on us by the foes of Britain . Shall any commercial advantages which we have enjoyed be urged as a ground of gratitude or retribution? Let the most zealous advocate for continual dependance on Britain point out a single instance of preference given by that Court to the American trade if he can; and while he hunts the rusty records in vain for any such, let him not turn over, unnoticed, the numberless acts passed to restrict our free commerce, to clog with impositions and duties, to discourage manufactures and employments for our poor, and to give advantages, at our cost, to the lordly West-Indians. In a few words, the Colonies have paid more to Britain, in a course of trade, (by giving a greater price for goods of inferior value, &c., than if they had gone to other European markets,) than any claims the British partisan can feign.
It is said that, under this connection and dependance, we have grown and thriven. That we have thriven