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The proceedings which I have enumerated, either immediately or in their evident consequences, deeply affected all the Colonies; ruin stared them in the face. They united their counsels, and laid their just complaints before the Throne, praying a redress of grievances. But, to their astonishment, their dutiful petition for peace and safety was answered only by an actual commencement of war and military destruction!
In the mean time the British troops, that had been peaceably received by the devoted inhabitants of Boston as the troops of their Sovereign bound to protect them, fortified that town, to imprison the inhabitants, and to hold that capital against the people to whom it belonged. And the British rulers, having determined to appeal from reason and justice to violence and arms, a select body of those troops, being in the night suddenly and privately marched from Boston, at Lexington, on the 19th day of April, 1775, they by surprise drew the sword of civil war, and plunged it into the breasts of the Americans! Against this horrid injustice the Almighty gave instant judgmenta handful of country Militia, badly armed, suddenly collected, and unconnectedly and irregularly brought up to repel the attack, discomfited the regular bands of tyranny; they retreated, and night saved them from total slaughter.
Thus forced to take, up arms in our own defence, America yet again most dutifully petitioned the King, that he would be pleased to direct some mode by which the united applications of his faithful Colonists to the Throne, in presence of their common councils, might be improved into a happy and permanent reconciliation; and that, in the mean time, measures might be taken for preventing the further destruction of the lives of his Majestys subjects; but it was in vain! The petition on the part of millions, praying that the effusion of blood might be stayed, was not thought worthy of an answer! The nefarious war continued. The ruins of Charlestown, Falmouth, and Norfolk, (towns not constructed for offence or defence,) mark the humane progress of the Royal arms. So the ruins of Carthage, Corinth, and Numantium, proclaimed to the world that justice was expelled the Roman Senate! On the other hand, the fortitude with which America has endured these civil and military outrages; the union of her people, as astonishing as unprecedented, when we consider their various manners and religious tenets, their distance from each other, their various and clashing local interests, their self-denial, and their miraculous success in the prosecution of the warI say, these things all demonstrate that the Lord of Hosts is on our side. So it is apparent, that the Almighty constructor of the universe, having formed this Continent of materials to compose a State pre-eminent in the world, is now making use of the tyranny of the British rulers as an instrument to fashion and arrange those materials for the end for which, in his wisdom, he had formed them.
In this enlightened age humanity must be particularly shocked at a recital of such violences. And it is scarce to be believed, that the British tyranny could entertain an idea of proceeding against America by a train of more dishonourable machinations. But nothing less than absolute proof has convinced us that, in carrying on the conspiracy against the rights of humanity, the tyranny is capable of attempting to perpetrate whatever is infamous.
For the little purpose of disarming the imprisoned inhabitants of Boston, the Kings General, Gage, in the face of day, violated the publick faith, by himself plighted; and in concert with other Governours, and with John Stuart, he made every attempt to instigate the Savage nations to war upon the Southern Colonies, indiscriminately to massacre man, woman, and child. The Governours in general have demonstrated that truth is not in them; they have inveigled Negroes from, and have armed them against their masters; they have armed brother against brother, son against father. Oh! Almighty Director of the universe! what confidence can be put in a Government ruling by such engines, and upon such principles of unnatural destruction. A Government that, upon the 21st day of December last, made a law, ex post facto, to justify what had been done, not only without law, but in its nature unjusta law to make prize of all vessels trading in, to, or from the United Coloniesa law to make slaves of the crews of such vessels, and to compel them to bear arms against their conscience, their fathers, their bleeding country. The world, so old as it is, heretofore had never heard of so atrocious a procedure. It has no parallel in the registers of tyranny. But to proceed.
The Kings judges in this country refused to administer justice; and the late Governour, Lord William Campbell, acting as the Kings representative for him, and on his behalf, having endeavoured to subvert the Constitution of this country, by breaking the original contract between King and People, attacking the People by force of arms; having violated the fundamental laws; having carried off the great seal, and having withdrawn himself out of this Colony, he abdicated the Government.
Oppressed by such a variety of enormous injuries, Continental and local, civil and military, and by divers other arbitrary and illegal coursesall done and perpetrated by the assent, command, or sufference, of the King of Great Britain, the Representatives of South-Carolina, in Congress assembled, found themselves under an unavoidable necessity of establishing a form of Government, with powers legislative, executive, and judicial, for the good of the Peoplethe origin and great end of all just Government. For this only end, the House of Brunswick was called to rule over us. Oh! agonizing reflection! that House ruled us with swords, fire, and bayonets. The British Government operated only to our destruction. Nature cried aloud, self-preservation is the great law; we have but obeyed.
If I turn my thoughts to recollect in history a change of Government upon more cogent reasons, I say I know of no change upon principles so provokingcompellingjustifiable. And in these respects, even the famous Revolution in England, in the year 1688, is much inferior. However, we need no better authority than that illustrious precedent; and I will therefore compare the causes of, and the law upon the two events.
On the 7th of February, 1688, the Lords and Commons of England, in Convention, completed the following Resolution:
Resolved, That King James the Second, having endeavoured to subvert the Constitution of the Kingdom, by breaking the original contract between King and People; and, by the advice of Jesuits and other wicked persons, having violated the fundamental laws, and having withdrawn himself out of this Kingdom, has abdicated the Government, and that the Throne is thereby vacant.
That famous Resolution deprived James of his Crown, and became the foundation on which the Throne of the present King of Great Britain is built; it also supports the edifice of Government which we have erected.
In that resolve there are but three facts stated to have been done by James. I will point them out, and examine whether those facts will apply to the present King of Great Britain, with regard to the operations of Government, by him or his Representative, immediately, or by consequence affecting this Colony.
The first fact is, the having endeavoured to subvert the Constitution of the Kingdom, by breaking the original contract.
The violation of the fundamental laws is the second fact; and in support of these two charges, the Lords Spiritual and Temporal and Commons, assembled at Westminster, on the 12th day of February, 1688, declared that James was guilty:
By assuming and exercising a power of dispensing with, and suspending of Laws, and the execution of Laws, without consent of Parliament;
By committing and prosecuting divers worthy Prelates, for humbly petitioning to be excused from concurring to the said assumed power;
By issuing and causing to be executed a Commission, under the great seal, for erecting a Court, called the Court of Commissioners for Ecclesiastical Causes;
By levying Money for, and to the use of the Crown, by pretence of prerogative, for other time, and in other manner than the same was granted by Parliament;
By raising and keeping a Standing Army within this Kingdom in time of peace, without consent of Parliament, and quartering Soldiers contrary to law;
By causing several good subjects, being Protestants, to be disarmed, at the same time when Papists were both armed and employed contrary to law;By violating the freedom of election of Members to serve in Parliament;