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there of delay? An hour may decide it as well as an age. We are too serious to be playing over with them all the tricks of what they are pleased to call negotiation, but which is really nothing else than downright lying and sharping. It is no time to parley with a robber about your purse when he has his pistol at your breast. You must either give or take in a moment. It would become us, in the opinion of some men, mighty well, to be sure, to forbear such high language, and rather to manage our cause by supplication and crying to a great King and a powerful nation! We have cried and roared long enough already, and what have we got by it? Our petitions have been turned out of doors, and we have all been called Rebels and savages, and what not, because we have roared so loud as to disturb his Majestys good repose, and oblige him to wear out his horses driving from Kew to St. Jamess. If we are blameable, it is for using these ineffectual applications too long. The time is come in which we ought to do something decisive; and the more desirous our enemies seem to be to involve us in knotty and intricate negotiations, the more determined should we be not to unravel them, but to cut them with the sword. They well know that tedious, inactive delays, must bring our affairs to a ruinous condition; and if they can waste our time in negotiating, the battle is won without striking a stroke. Our resources must be greatly diminished before we engage in action; and when they have worn us out with subtle deliberations, and wasted our treasure, while they only wanted to gain time by artful compliances and demands, they know very well how, by a fetch in politicks, to throw everything into confusion again, and to expose us naked, and perhaps distracted with mutual discords among ourselves, to superior wealth and superior power. I design no reflection on those who may be appointed to treat with them on the part of America; on the other hand, I do not doubt their abilities. But it is always in the power of Ministry, who will be treacherous, and whose interest lies in gaining time, to overreach the wisest politicians, if they will descend to follow them through the labyrinths of a negotiation that is only meant as a wile to mislead, or to blind them. But we have not only an accumulated debt to dread by the tedious delays that are unavoidable in the common forms of negotiating, but infinite dissensions among ourselves. An enterprise that depends upon the concord and exertions of the people, will ever infallibly fail if they are long held in a state of doubtful inactivity. All wise politicians, who have governed them with success, have found it necessary to keep them employed in constant action. I can scarcely forbear to consider it as miraculous, that this extensive Continent has hitherto been led to pursue one determinate plan with so much unanimity and perseverance. But there is no error we ought more to dread than wearing out the patience of the populace by inaction. When their minds have long hung in suspense, at such a crisis as the present, they naturally fall into one of these two dangerous evilseither an entire languor and passivity of temper, or an impatience that at length breaks out in faction and sedition. In two of our neighbouring Colonies, which have been farthest removed from the scene of action, we have already seen this observation unhappily verified. And the suspense in which all the Colonies have been held for a considerable time is beginning to verge towards impatience, which will very probably soon burst out into violent mutual dissensions, if it shall be defrauded out of a proper enemy, by an unseasonable negotiation, especially when it is artfully managed by emissaries who will refuse neither promises nor rewards to inflame it to their purpose. For Gods sake, then, my countrymen, let us waste no time in unnecessary and dangerous delays; let us act with vigour and decision; let us propose to them the terms we demand in a clear and unequivocal manner, and require of them an immediate and unequivocal answer. Suffer them not to waste an hour, (for every hour is precious,) under the artful pretence of considering propositions more maturely, which they ought to have been well determined on long ago; or of not having brought with them sufficient powers, a usual artifice of statesmen, so that they can propose or answer nothing decisive without sending two or three times across the Atlantick. And since they have set us the example of treating at the point of the sword, cut short the negotiation they would be willing to protract, and make your appeal at once to the sword.
QUERIES OFFERED TO THE FREEHOLDERS AND PEOPLE OF VIRGINIA AT LARGE.
Williamsburgh, April 13, 1776.
Is it your intention to be freemen or slaves? If it is your intention to be free, should you not adopt the sure means of being so, whilst these means are in your hands, and not put it in the power of fortune to wrest them out of your hands? Are not these means obvious to every common understanding? Is it not manifest that you have already sinned beyond forgiveness in the eye of the accursed Ministry of Great Britain, and of that more accursed tyrant, who will employ no Ministry unless they previously stipulate to work your ruin? Is there any circumstance in the whole life or character of this tyrant which gives you reason to think that he will relent? Was he ever known to forgive those that he had once oppressed or injured? Is there any symptom of virtue in either House of Parliament which can flatter you that they will check the disposition of their masters? Is there any appearance of vigour and spirit in the people of Great Britain which can open a prospect of relief? Is it probable that a people who have suffered their own most sacred laws to be baffled, violated, and trampled upon with impunity, should rouse themselves in the cause of others, who are removed three thousand miles distant from them? On the contrary, is it not plain that they are scarcely less hostile to your rights and happiness than the tyrant himself? It is true a few virtuous men have appeared your advocates; but have not the virtuous, and friends to liberty in other parts of the globe, been equally your advocates? Have not the first geniuses of France, inspired by the sacred love of freedom and humanity, stepped forth as champions of that cause which is in fact the cause of all mankind? The Rhenels, Voltaires, and Alemberts, have exerted their talents in your defence; and they have exerted them not in vain: their works have been read with avidity and applause. Every man who thinks, every man who feels, through the different States of France, Italy, and Germany, is your friend, and sends up vows for your success; while, in England, argument, reason, wit, and eloquence, have been absolutely thrown away. As an evidence of this truth, has a single County petitioned in your favour? Some few manufacturing towns have indeed expressed their apprehensions that the present measures may be detrimental to their own commerce and interest; but on the injustice and inhumanity of these measures they have been utterly silent. Have not your fields been laid waste, your property confiscated, your citizens butchered, and your cities reduced to ashes? Have not the Savages been tampered with to deluge your frontiers with blood and slaughter? Have not your slaves been instigated to murder you and your wives and children? Are not these things (monstrous and incredible as they are) notorious? But in what manner have they affected the people of England? Have they shown the least resentment, indignation, or even compassion? Have they not, on the contrary, voted, or suffered their Representatives to vote fresh means for prosecuting the diabolical plan? Have they not negotiated with every power of Europe for hireling instruments, to insure your destruction? Are these things facts, or are they not? And can you now sit patiently, with your arms across? Will you not rouse yourselves at the great call of nature? Will you suffer a few coward hearts, contemptible, confused heads, or perhaps treacherous bosoms, to keep you fascinated in a state of torpor, till the chain is fixed about your necks, by which you will be inextricably held? But, to speak without a figure, I will tell you plainly, fellow-citizens, your situation, and point out your interest and duty. You have already proceeded so far that, were your cause less righteous than it is, you could not in policy recede. You have overturned every form of the Constitution, if such a defective patchwork fabrick as yours can be called a Constitution; you have assumed the legislature into your own hands; you have raised troops; you have waged war; and you have, in appearance at least, expelled your Governour. In short, you have committed a multiplicity of acts, which a Prince less tyrannical, a Ministry less abandoned, and a Nation less imperious than that of Great Britain, might choose to construe treason, and which, if fortune, or your own indecision, should throw it into their power, they will infallibly punish as such. If you succeed, all these things, which you have done, will redound to your honour; but if you miscarry, (which may Heaven and your