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we cannot comply with the request of Congress, in any other manner than we have done, and flatter ourselves they will rest satisfied, and consider us excusable.
Mr. Ross was apprehended by our order, on Monday evening last; we shall have him in custody, and examine him fully.
Permit us, sir, to assure you that we are determined to maintain the rights and liberties of this country, at every hazard of life and property, and will vigorously pursue every measure which the defence of America shall require.
We have the honour to be, your most obedient, humble servants.
By order and on behalf of the Council of Safety of the Province of Maryland.
To the Honourable the President of Congress.
MARYLAND DELEGATES TO COUNCIL OF SAFETY.
Philadelphia, Thursday, April 18, 1776.
GENTLEMEN: We moved yesterday in Congress, that the letter referred to by Mr. Johnson should be immediately transmitted to you, that you might have an opportunity of vindicating your honour against the malicious charges made by the writer. This produced a warm debate, which lasted for several hours. We insisted (and were supported by several gentlemen) that the letter, containing the most severe reflections upon you, as a publick body, ought not to be concealed; that it was absolutely necessary, in the present state of our affairs, that the dignity of the Executives of every Province should be supported, if properly conducted; and if there rested a suspicion that any publick body, either from weakness or want of integrity, omitted or refused to execute the trust committed to them, it ought to be made known to their constituents, that the power might be placed in more safe hands; that the exertions of the letter-writer had already produced, in part of the Council of Virginia, distrust and suspicion of you; that we had the most convincing proofs, upon all occasions, of your integrity, vigilance, and activity in the common cause; and, therefore, esteemed it our duty to insist that justice might be done to your injured characters. It was argued against the motion, that the letter was confidential; that it had raised no suspicions in the Congress of your zeal or integrity, because they had reposed the highest confidence in you immediately afterwards, by the recommendation sent by the return of the express; that the mischief, which would be produced by communicating the letter would be greater than any benefit which could be expected from it; and that the President was not obliged to produce the letter before the Congress, to take order thereon, although it had been read in the House. Upon the question whether the President should be requested to lay the letter before Congress, five Colonies voted in the negative, three in the affirmative, and one divided.
We conceived this treatment to you, and our Province, to be cruel and ungenerous to the last degree. The obligation to secrecy expired yesterday; and we immediately determined to give you such a state of this transaction as our memories supply us with; and Mr. Johnson committed to writing what passed on the first day. We this morning waited on Mr. Hancock to demand the letter, but he refused to see us.
Thus the affair rests at present; and we cannot delay communicating it to you longer. We have ordered an express immediately to set out for Annapolis, and have not the least doubt but what you will take the proper steps to vindicate your honour against the foul calumny of Mr. Purviance, who has dared to detract from your patriotism and spirit. We are determined at all hazards to support you; and, though very sorry for the occasion, hope you have complied with the recommendation of Congress, by securing Mr. Eden and his papers. If he has conducted himself fairly, an examination will do him credit; if otherwise, we ought to know it, and guard against his unfriendly endeavours. We shall write you by the post; and are, gentlemen, your most obedient servants,
THOMAS JOHNSON, JUN.,
To the Honourable the Council of Safety of Maryland.
REMARKS ON A PLAN OF THE AMERICAN COMPACT, PROPOSED BY AN ENGLISH AMERICAN.
New-York, April 18, 1776.
No reasonable objection can be offered to the first and second articles of this plan. The third proposes that the Crown shall appoint officers during good behaviour. Who is to judge of their behaviour, and remove them upon misbehaviour? Doubtless the King in Council. If he should judge that good behaviour in his officers which Ame-rica knows and feels to be abominably bad behaviour, what remedy has she by this plan? And that this will frequently be the case, past experience convinces. The Earl of Dunmores infamous behaviour has been justified by the King; so was Bernards, Hutchinsons, and all the rest of the Kings wicked Ministers; and so it will be, so long as an arbitrary and inequitable, partial spirit reigns in the British Count, which, to all appearance, will not soon be expelled. America can have no security against the greatest and perpetua-ted vexation from the Kings officers, unless she has a voice in their appointment, and the power of renovating them upon misbehaviour.
The fourth article is admissible. The fifth proposes a General Congress to manage the general affairs of all the Colonies. This has a plausible appearance, but it is a felo de se; for it is added at the close of the article, but as absolute power might in time be assumed by this Congress, were it without any check, its acts therefore should go home for the Royal assent. The Crown to have no power to reject them, or the Provincial acts, unless done within three years after their passing here. That is, to prevent the Congress from assuming absolute power, let them have no power at all to do any one thing, except what the King, from time to time, wills to have done, and let him have three years to consider upon every act before he either affirms or annuls it. And this restriction, this planner would have laid upon all the Provincial Assemblies too. A fine Constitution, indeed; an excellent device to screen the rights and liberties of America against all future attempts of the Crown and British Ministry! That she may henceforth be effectually secured from the encroachments of the Crown, let the Crown be invested with absolute power to restrain her from passing any one act for her own security or benefit, either in Congress or Provincial Assemblies, but what the King, in his sovereign pleasure, allows her to do, from time to time. This entirely undermines the security seemingly given her in the second article: Parliament shall not intermeddle with the internal police of the Colonies. No ! But the King and his Ministry shall, as far as they please. Let the Colonies provide for their own internal government. Yes, as far as the King pleases, and in such manner as he, with the British Council, approves, and no further. Suppose the Provinces give a bounty to encourage any kind of manufactures, or lay a duty on any luxuries imported from Britain, or make acts to prohibit the importation of African Slaves into the Colonies, &c., &c., will the British Council advise the King to confirm them?
The sixth article proposes that America should agree that the King shall have a right to keep up a Standing Army of ten or twelve thousand men in America in times of peace. Yes, give him a constitutional right to drive in a small wedge, and he will be able after that to get in a bigger. No, the article says, more than this stipulated number the Crown should not send without the consent of the General Congress. By such an article, America would invite the British Ministry to use all their interest to corrupt the members of her Congress, and make it their interest to do so; and they would probably succeed by degrees. At first, draw them in to consent to fifteen thousand, then to twenty. When by this their constituents are alarmed, and themselves brought into danger, they will readily consent to the introduction of thirty or forty thousand, and we shall soon have all our Tories in the Army, prepared to cut us off. This article opens a door to the tyranny of Britain and a military Government, under the pretence of shutting the door against it. If America agrees to this, she is lost.
The eighth article proposes, that America should agree to pay the King a perpetual duty of eight per cent upon all merchandises imported from foreign countries. For what? To pay Britain for protecting her by a Standing Army, kept up within her in times of peace, when she neither wants nor