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may rest assured that I shall keep this oath ever in mind. The Constitution shall be the invariable rule of my conduct. My ears shall always be open to the complaints of the injured. Justice in mercy shall neither be denied or delayed. Our laws and religion, and the liberties of shall be America, maintained and defended to the utmost of my power. I repose the most perfect confidence in your engagement. And now, gentlemen, let me intreat that you will, in your several Parishes and Districts, use your influence and authority to keep peace and good order, and procure strict observance of and ready obedience to the law. If any persons therein are still strangers to the nature and merits of the dispute between Great Britain and the Colonies, you will explain it to them fully, and teach them, if they are so unfortunate as not to know their inherent rights. Prove to them that the privileges of being tried by a jury of the vicinage, acquainted with the parties and witnesses; of being taxed only with their own consent, given by their representatives, freely chosen by and sharing the burden equally with themselvesnot for aggrandizing a rapacious Minister and his dependant favourites, and for corrupting the people and subverting their liberties, but for such wise and salutary purposes as they themselves approve; and of having their internal polity regulated only by laws consented to by competent judges of what is best adapted to their situation and circumstancesequally bound, too, by those laws, which are inestimable, and derived from that Constitution, which is the birthright of the poorest man, and the best inheritance of the most wealthy. Relate to them the various unjust and cruel statutes which the British Parliament, claiming a right to make laws binding the Colonies in all cases whatsoever, have enacted, and the many sanguinary measures which have been and are daily pursued and threatened, to wrest from them those invaluable benefits, and to enforce such an unlimited and destructive claim. To the most illiterate it must appear that no power on earth can of right deprive them of the hard-earned fruits of their honest industry, toil, and labour; even to them the impious attempt to prevent many thousands from using the means of subsistence provided for man by the bounty of his Creator, and to compel them, by famine, to surrender their rights, will seem to call for Divine vengeance. The endeavours, by deceit and bribery, to engage barbarous nations to imbrue their hands in the innocent blood of helpless women and children; and the attempt by fair, but false promises, to make the ignorant domesticks subservient to the most wicked purposes, are acts at which humanity must revolt. Show your constituents, then, the indispensable necessity which there was for establishing some mode of Government in this Colony; the benefits of that which a full and free representation has established; and that the consent of the people is the origin, and their happiness the end, of Government. Remove the apprehensions with which honest and well-meaning, but weak and credulous minds may be alarmed, and prevent ill impressions by artful and designing enemies. Let it be known that this Constitution is but temporary, till an accommodation of the unhappy differences between Great Britain and America can be obtained; and that such an event is still desired by men who yet remember former friendships and intimate connections, though, for defending their persons and properties, they are stigmatized and treated as Rebels.
Truth being known, will prevail over artifice and misrepresentation. Conviction must follow its discovery. In such cases, no man, who is worthy of life, liberty, or property, will or can refuse to join with you in defending them to the last extremity; disdaining every sordid view, and the mean, paltry considerations of private interest and present emolument, when placed in competition with the liberties of millions; and seeing that there is no alternative but absolute, unconditional submission and the most abject slavery, or a defence becoming men born to freedom, he will not hesitate about the choice. Although superior force may, by the permission of Heaven, lay waste our towns and ravage our country, it can never eradicate from the breasts of freemen those principles which are ingrafted in their very nature. Such men will do their duty, neither knowing or regarding consequences, but submitting them, with humble confidence, to the omniscient and omnipotent Arbiter and Director of the fate of Empires, and trusting that His almighty arm, which has been so signally stretched out for our defence, will deliver them in a righteous cause.
The eyes of Europe, nay, of the whole world, are on America The eyes of every other Colony are on thisa Colony whose reputation, generosity, and magnanimity, is universally acknowledged. I trust, therefore, it will not be diminished by our future conduct; that there will be no civil discord here; and that the only strife amongst brethren will be, who shall do most to serve and to save an oppressed and injured country.
April 11, 1776.
Ordered, That the Speech this day delivered by his Excellency the President and Commander-in-Chief of this Colony to both Houses, be forthwith printed, as well in the Newspapers as otherwise.
Ordered, That a sufficient number of copies of all the Acts and Ordinances passed in the present Session (for each Member of both Houses, and every Magistrate to have one) be printed with all possible expedition.
On motion, Resolved That it is the opinion of this House that such Crown Officers as were confined by the late Congress to Charlestown should have liberty, if they choose it, to depart this Colony; and that this House will make provision for the payment of their passages and necessary seastores to Europe or the West-Indies.
On motion, Resolved, That his Excellency be desired to issue a Declaration of Pardon with certain exceptions.
On motion, Resolved, That his Excellency be desired to cause all publick Papers and Effects, in the possession of all or any of the Crown Officers, to be immediately secured and properly taken care of.
Whereupon the following Message was drawn and agreed to by the House:
May it please your Excellency:
We request that your Excellency will, as soon as may be, cause the Resolution of the 13th of last month, respecting the sending certain persons therein named to Connecticut, to be carried into execution; and, when the persons therein named shall be without the limits of this Colony, that your Excellency will then publish a declaration of pardon and amnesty to the late Insurgents then in the Colony, with such exceptions as your Excellency shall think proper, with the advice of the Privy Council.
We do also acquaint your Excellency that this House have resolved that such Crown Officers as were confined by the late Congress to Charlestown, shall have liberty, if they choose it, to depart this Colony; and that this House will make reasonable provision for the payment of their passages, and necessary sea-stores, to Europe or the West-Indies; and upon this resolution your Excellency will be pleased to cause such measures to be taken as that the resolution may have its proper effect.
And to the intent that the publick papers and effects, in the possession of all or any of those officers, may be properly secured and taken care of, we request your Excellency will order proper persons immediately to take possession of such publick papers and effects.
Ordered, That the Message be engrossed, and that Mr. Speaker do sign the same.
Ordered, That the Honourable Mr. Dryton and Captain McQueen do carry the said Message to his Excellency the President.
Mr. Speaker then adjourned the House to Tuesday, the 1st day of October next, after the Members thereof had sat in Congress and in General Assembly seventy-one days.
An Act to prevent Sedition, and punish Insurgent and disturbers of the publick peace.
Whereas a horrid and unnatural war is now carried on by the Ministry and Parliament of Great Britain, against the United Colonies of North-America in general, and this Colony in particular, with a cruel and oppressive design of robbing the Colonies and good people of this Colony of their dearest and most valuable rights as freemen, and reducing them to a state of the most abject slavery and oppression; and whereas, also, in order further to accomplish the said iniquitous and unwarrantable designs, every means has been adopted by a wicked Administration to sow civil dissensions and animosities, and to create disorder, confusion, and bloodshed amongst the good people of this Colony, by employing