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ought to have remained neuter,) yet, as he has joined the British Parliament against us, he has become a party in the quarrel. Hence, so far as the present is a contest of Constitutions, the Parliament has evidently won the field; for the whole force of the Legislature of Great Britain has been, from the first day of the controversy, armed against us; but we have, in no one instance, been able to call forth the strength of our Legislatures to oppose. Nay, we have constantly had them against us, ready to join the foe. I ask, how happens this, Cato? Why are you so in love with such a Constitution? As you are not fond of answering silly queries, I will endeavour to answer them myself: it is, because our Legislatures are dependant on our very enemy, and theirs is independent of us. Our constitutional connection with Britain gives her so prodigious an advantage over us, that, if we had strictly adhered to our chartered Constitutions, we would have been enslaved before this time; and it will ever be so as long as we are dependant.
Both the King and Parliament of Great Britain are the choice of the People of Great Britain; but though our Assemblies are our choice, our Governours are not; they are either nominated by the King of Great Britain, or some one of his British subjects, which effectually destroys their utility to us in this, and every such controversy, which has already, or is likely hereafter to happen. Their salaries, though the gift of the people, are evidently no counterpoise to their nomination, if facts can prove any thingand for this plain reason, that, though we grant the wages, yet it rests in the power of the King whether they shall enjoy it or not, as, after the appointment, the continuance of it depends entirely on him.
The King of Great Britain, though our King, will ever join the Parliament against us as often as a contention hap pens. The Parliament are his tools; and their illegal claims are only a specious covering for his endeavours after arbitrary power in the first place; and, in the second place, his Crown, his dignity, and his support, depend entirely upon their grants, and not upon ours. He will, therefore, take part with them on every occasion. On the contrary, his Representatives are not so dependant on us as to oblige them to take, part with us. This is not all; for in every Province where they had the power, they not only refused to concur in our measures, but also prevented us from making use of our Representatives, that we might not have the shadow of a Legislature to support us; and even in those Provinces where his power has not extended so far, he has constantly gone as far as he could. This is not all yet; for in many they have corrupted the ignorant and illiterate by bribes, set up the Royal standard against us, and obliged us to fight under every disadvantage. Is it not so, Cato?
There is, therefore, a capital defect in our chartered Constitutions; a defect which makes an essential difference between the present state of our liberties and that secured to Englishmen by Magna Charta; a defect which, if not effectually removed, will oblige us ever to hold our liberties at the point of our swords, or by that most precarious of alltenureswill and pleasure. The immortal Barons were too wise to be duped by fair promises. They drew their swords, determined to obtain absolute security; and they did obtain it. They obtained, by Magna Charta, the constitutional right of levying war against the King as often as he should attempt to infringe upon the liberties of the people. Were our Governours the choice of the people, and dependant on them for their salaries, we would, in the pre sent case, be able to make a constitutional resistance to oppressionto oppose Constitution to Constitution. But this not being the case, the Parliament has plainly the ad vantage. It is necessary, therefore, to our security to have our Governours as much dependant on the people of America, as the King is on those of Great Britain, before our Constitutions can be of any service to us against British encroachments; or that, when our Governours refuse their concurrence, our Representatives shall have the privilege of setting them aside, and acting legislatively without them. This is a clause as essential to the security of America as the clause which grants to the people of Great Britain the right of declaring war against the King when he attempts to disturb their privileges. Will Cato stand it out till this is obtained?
But as the contest is between us and the Parliament, we ought now to inquire how we can be secured against Parliamentary encroachments? The Constitution of Great Britain is such, that what this Parliament does, the next can undo. And it is impossible for one Parliament to pass a bill which will not be liable to a repeal by any future one, without destroying the very essence of its own Constitution. Is there any remedy against this defect, Cato? Let us set; the constitutional dependant principles, if you are a friend to liberty, which will give absolute and permanent security to our liberties, and not leave us at the mercy of our enemy; and then we will talk further on the subject. We have gone too far, and have too much sense to rest our future safety on the probability of her letting us alone for the future.
Our constitutional connection with Great Britain is the very plea alleged by Great Britain for her attempts to enslave us. Now, if this Constitution is the very foundation of her claims; if she, in consequence thereof, had declared us Rebels, which she could not, unless she supposed we violated the Constitution by our resistance; and if it was not in our power to make effectual opposition, in strict conformity to the Constitutions she gave us, why is Cato so fond of reconciling us on these principles, and on no other? This looks not like honesty, Cato. If you love America, and if your attachment to the cause is real, answer to these things. A lover of truth and liberty will be afraid of no queries whatever. You say you have viewed the ground on which you stand, and are not afraid to tread it in the sight of the most vigilant son of liberty. Hero it is. Come forth, then; here I wish to find you. But, I beseech you, examine it thoroughly first; explore its hidden recesses; for I am well assured it contains a secret mine, which, if once sprung, will either blow up you and your party, or our liberties.
This Continent has had a twelve years constant experience that the Constitution of the Colonies could not protect them from British oppression. Can you deny it, Cato? However it be against your present designs, yet this you must acknowledge. Can you tell the first day a Committee existed on this Continent? Did not that day tell the world we had no Constitution that could withstand British oppression? Can you remember the time our Assemblies were first dissolved for attempting to correspond with one another on the subject of our, grievances? Did not that time convince even Cato himself that our Constitutions were not equal to the task of protecting themselves? Do you recollect the hour our worthy Governour refused to call our Assembly to consult on ways and means to preserve our liberties? Did not that hour inform you that the chartered Constitution of Pennsylvania could do nothing for us? Now, if after so long and so severe a trial of their defects, we should still take up with them on the recommendation of Cato, might not the world, particularly that part of it which you say is looking at us, laugh at our stupidity and folly?
Your first argument in support of your creed is, that Agriculture and commerce have hitherto been the happy employments by which these Middle Colonies have risen into wealth and importance. By them the face of the country has been changed from a barren wilderness into the hospitable abodes of peace and plenty. I forbear to point out your constant endeavour to separate the interest of the Middle Colonies from the rest, as if the wealth of the whole arose not from the same sources; or as if your description of one or two would not answer for all. I also forbear to mention the care of your party to have your letters, though addressed to the People of Pennsylvania, reprinted in New-York and Maryland papers. When you have gone through the demonstration, how we can have effectual security to our liberties under so defective Constitutions, then, and not till then, I shall call upon you to prove that agriculture and commerce would decay, if the whole world were our market instead of the British Islands, and a few foreign ports to which we are most graciously permitted to export a few articles. I will also call on you to convince us that a severe restraint on our trade in many instances, and in some a total prohibition, tends to enrich us. And here it may not be amiss to show how poor the Hollanders have grown since they became independent, and were obliged to support all the expenses the Common Man has mentioned.
But Cato has given uncommon proofs of his attachment to trade, by declaring that he will arm against us as soon as we form any alliance with such powers as are able and