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pressing themselves, page 55: Attached to your Majestys person, family, and Government, with all devotion that principle and affection can inspire, connected with Great Britain by the strongest ties that can unite societies, and deploring every event that tends in any degree to weaken them, we solemnly assure your Majesty that we not only most ardently desire the former harmony between her and these Colonies may be restored, but that a concord may be established between them, upon so firm a basis as to perpetuate its blessings, uninterrupted by any future dissensions, to succeeding generations, in both countries.
We beg leave further to assure your Majesty, that, notwithstanding the sufferings of your loyal Colonists during the course of this present controversy, our breasts retain too tender a regard for the kingdom from which we derive our origin, to request such a reconciliation as might, in any manner, be inconsistent with her dignity or her welfare. These, (related as we are to her,) honour and duty, as well as inclination, induce us to support and advance; and the apprehensions that now oppress our hearts with unspeakable grief, being once removed, your Majesty will find your faithful subjects on this Continent ready and willing, at all times, (as they have ever been,) with their lives and fortunes, to assert and maintain the rights and interests of your Majesty, and of our Mother Country.
In their Address to the People of England, (page 163,) they say: We are accused of aiming at Independence; but how is this accusation supported? By the allegations of your Ministers; not by our actions.
A little further, they add: Even under these circumstances, what measures have we taken that betray a desire of Independence?
After speaking of the taking possession of Ticonderoga and Crown Point, they say, page 165; Yet give us leave most solemnly to assure you, that we have not yet lost sight of the object we have ever had in view a reconciliation with you on constitutional principles, and a restoration of that friendly intercourse which, to the advantage of both, we till lately maintained.
Page 166, they add: It has been said that we refuse to submit to the restrictions on our commerce. From whence is this inference drawn? Not from our words. We have repeatedly declared the contrary; and we again profess our submission to the several acts of trade and navigation passed before the year 1763; trusting, nevertheless, in the equity and justice of Parliament, that such of them as, upon cool and impartial consideration, shall appear to have imposed unnecessary or grievous restrictions, will, at some happier period, be restricted or altered.
In their Letter to the Lord Mayor and Corporation of London, sent home by Governour Penn, (page 172,) they say: North-America, my Lord, wishes most ardently for a lasting connection with Great Britain, on terms of just and equal liberty; less than which generous minds will not offer, nor brave and free ones be willing to receive. A cruel war has at length been opened against us; and whilst we prepare to defend ourselves like the descendants of Britons, we still hope that the mediation of wise and good citizens will at length prevail over despotism, and restore harmony and peace, on permanent principles, to an oppressed and divided Empire.
In the Talk drawn up to be held with the Indians, after reciting to thern the happy connection that had subsisted for above one hundred years with Britain, and informing them of the present cause of our quarrel, they say, (page 182:) Brothers and friends of the Six Nations, attend: We, upon this Island, (meaning America,) have often spoke and entreated the King, and his servants the Counsellors, that peace and harmony might still continue between us; that we cannot part with or lose our hold of the old covenantchain which united our fathers and theirs; that we want to brighten this chain, and keep the way open, as our fathers did; that we want to live with them as brothers; labour, trade, travel abroad, eat and drink in peace. We have often asked them to love us, and live in friendship with us, as their fathers did with ours.
Page 186, they tell them: We do not take up the hatchet, and struggle for honour or conquest, but to maintain our civil Constitution and religious principles, the very same for which our forefathers left their native land and came to this country.
In addressing the People of Ireland, (page 221,) after most pathetically describing the ravages of the Ministerial Army, the burning of Charlestown, and the deplorable situation of the town of Boston, they declare: Though vilified as wanting spirit, we are determined to behave like men; though insulted and abused, we wish for reconciliation; though defamed as seditious, we are ready to obey the laws; and though charged with rebellion, will cheerfully bleed in defence of our Sovereign, in a righteous cause. What more can we say? What more can we offer?
Thus, we find the Congress, through the whole of their proceedings, till the time of their adjournment, uniformly holding up the idea of reconciliation. If we look for the sentiments of whole Provinces of a much later date, we shall find them still acting upon the same principles. The Instructions from the Representatives of the People of Pennsylvania, (who form one-eighth of the whole Continent,) expressly direct their Delegates in Congress to keep up a steady opposition to every proposal of separation from Great Britain.
The Province of Maryland, in Convention met the 7th day of last December, unanimously resolved, that being deeply affected with the suspicion entertained by his Majesty, of these Colonies designing to establish an independent Empire, declare that they are desirous to remove from the mind of the King an opinion which we feel to be highly injurious to the People of this Province; and in order to manifest to his Majesty, to the Parliament, the people of Great Britain, and to the whole world, the rectitude and purity of our intentions in the present opposition to the measures of the British Ministry and Parliament, do declare, that the people of this Province, strongly attached to the English Constitution, and truly sensible of the blessing they have derived from it, warmly impressed with sentiments of affection for and loyalty to the House of Hanover, connected with the British Nation by the ties of blood and interest, and being thoroughly convinced that, to be free subjects of the King of Great Britain, with all its consequences, is to be the freest members of any civil society in the known world, never did, nor do entertain any views or desires of Independency. That as they consider their union with the Mother Country, upon terms that may insure to them a permanent freedom as their highest felicity, so would they view the fatal necessity of separating from her, as a misfortune next to the greatest that can befall them.
In the votes and proceedings of the Assembly of New-Jersey, held last November, we find that sundry Petitions against Independency were presented to the House; that several of the signers were summoned to attend, who, it seems, had signed the Petition on the report that some men affected Independency. On reading the Petitions a second time, the House came to the following resolves: That reports of Independency, in the apprehension of this House, are groundless; that it be recommended to the Delegates of the Colony to use their utmost endeavours for the obtaining a redress of American grievances, and for restoring the union between the Colonies and Great Britain upon constitutional principles; that the said Delegates be directed not to give their assent to, but utterly reject any propositions, if such should be made, that may separate this Colony from the Mother Country, or change the form of Government thereof.
On examining the votes a little further, it should seem that one of the petitioners, who had been summoned before the House, had charged one of the members with supporting the doctrine of Independency; in consequence of which we find the following paragraph, page 20:
Mr. . . . . . attending pursuant to the order of the forenoon, and, being examined as to the words spoken by him of the member, informed the House that he neither intended any offence or insult to the House, or any member of it, and that he is sorry any member of the House should take it as an insult upon him; with which this House being satisfied, and being of opinion that it appears Mr. . . . . . really misapprehended the words of the member, and that the same member is not justly chargeable with such opinions, do discharge Mr. . . . . . from any further attendance on the House.
Here we see that the Assembly express themselves as if it were criminal to hold such opinions, by using the words