|You are here: Home >> American Archives|
Thus having stated the principal causes of our last Revolution, it is as clear as the sun in meridian that George the Third has injured the Americans at least as grievously as James the Second injured the People of England; but that James did not oppress these in so criminal a manner as George has oppressed the Americans. Having also stated the law on the case, I am naturally led to point out to you some of the great benefits resulting from that Revolution.
In one word, then, you have a form of Government in every respect preferable to the mode under the British authority. And this will most clearly appear by contrasting the two forms of Government.
Under the British authority, Govemours were sent over to us who were utterly unacquainted with our local interests, the genius of the people, and our laws. Generally, they were but too much disposed to obey the mandates of an arbitrary Ministry; and if the Governour behaved ill, we could not by any peaceable means procure redress. But, under our present happy Constitution, our Executive Magistrate arises according to the spirit and letter of Holy Writ: Their Governours shall proceed from the midst of them. Thus, the people have an opportunity of choosing a man intimately acquainted with their true interests, their genius, and their laws; a man perfectly disposed to defend them against arbitrary Ministers, and to promote the happiness of that people from among whom he was elevated, and by whom, without the least difficulty, he may be removed and blended in the common mass.
Again, under the British authority it was in effect declared, that we had no property; nay, that we could not possess any; and that we had not any of the rights of humanity. For men who knew us not; men who gained in proportion as we lost, arrogated to themselves a right to bind us in all cases whatsoever. But our Constitution is calculated to free us from foreign bondage; to secure to us our property; to maintain to us the rights of humanity; and to defend us and our posterity against British authority, aiming to reduce us to the most abject slavery.
Again, the British authority declared that we should not erect slitting-mills; and to this unjust law we implicitly and respectfully submitted, so long as with safety to our lives we could yield obedience to such authority. But a resolution of Congress now grants a premium to encourage the construction of such mills. The British authority discouraged our attempting to manufacture for our own consumption; but the new Constitution, by authorizing the disbursement of large sums of money, by way of loan or premium, encourages the making of iron, bar-steel, nail-rods, gun-locks, gun-barrels, sulphur, nitre, gunpowder, lead, woollens, cottons, linens, paper, and salt.
Upon the whole, it has been the policy of the British authority to oblige us to supply our wants at their market, (which is the dearest in the known world,) and to cramp and confine our trade so as to be subservient to their commerce, our real interest being ever out of the question. On the other hand, the new Constitution is wisely adapted to enable us to trade with foreign nations, and thereby to supply our wants at the cheapest markets in the universe; to extend our trade infinitely beyond what it has ever been known; to encourage manufacturers amongst us; and it is peculiarly formed to promote the happiness of the People, from among whom, by virtue and merit, the poorest man may arrive at the highest dignity. Oh, Carolinians! happy would you be under this new Constitution, if you knew your happy state.
Possessed of a constitution of Government, founded upon so generous, equal, and natural a principlea Government expressly calculated to make the People rich, powerful, virtuous, and happywho can wish to change it, to return under a Royal Government, the vital principles of which are the reverse in every particular? It was my duty to lay this happy Constitution before you in its genuine light. It is your duty to understand, to instruct others, and to defend it.
I might here, with propriety, quit this truly important subject; but my anxiety for the publick weal compels me yet to detain your attention, while I make an observation or two upon one particular part of the Constitution.
When all the various attempts to enslave America by fraud, under guise of law, by military threats, by famine, massacre, breach of publick faith, and open warI say, when these things are considered on the one hand, and, on the other, the Constitution expressing that some mode of Government should be established until an accommodation of the unhappy differences between Great Britain and America can be obtained; an event which, though traduced and treated as Rebels, we still ardently desireI say, when these two points are contrasted, can we avoid revering the magnanimity of that great council of the State, who, after such injuries, could entertain such a principle? But the virtuous are ever generous. We do not wish revenge. We earnestly wish an accommodation of our unhappy disputes with Great Britain; for we prefer peace to war. Nay, there may be even such an accommodation as (excluding every idea of revenue by taxation or duty, or of legislation by act of Parliament) may vest the King of Great Britain with such a limited dominion over us as may tend, bonajide, to promote our true commercial interests, and to secure our freedom and safetythe only just ends of any dominion.
But while I declare thus much on the one side, on the other it is my duty also to declare that, in my opinion, our true commercial interests cannot be provided for but by such a material alteration of the British acts of Navigation as, according to the resolve of the honourable the Continental Congress, will secure the commercial advantages of the whole Empire to the Mother Country, and the commercial benefits of its respective members; and that our liberties and safety cannot be depended upon if the King of Great Britain should be allowed to hold our forts and cannon, or to have authority over a single regiment in America, or a single ship-of-war in our ports. For if he hold our forts, he may turn them against us, as he did Boston against her proprietors. If he acquire our cannon, he will effectually disarm the Colony. If he has a command of troops among us, even if we raise and pay them, shackles are fixed upon us; witness Ireland and her National Army. The most express act of Parliament cannot give us security; for acts of Parliament are as easily repealed as made. Royal Proclamations are not to be depended upon; witness the disappointments of the inhabitants of Quebeck and St. Augustine. Even a change of Ministry will not avail us, because, notwithstanding the rapid succession of Ministers, for which the British Court has been famous during the present reign, yet the same ruinous policy ever continued to prevail against America. In short, I think it my duty to declare, in the awful seat of justice, and before Almighty God, that, in my opinion, the Americans can have no safety but by the Divine favour, their own virtue, and their being so prudent as not to leave it in the power of the British rulers to injure them.
Indeed, the ruinous and deadly injuries received on our side, and the jealousies entertained (and which, in the nature of things, must daily increase against us) on the other, demonstrate to a mind in the least given to reflection upon the rise and fall of empires, that true reconcilement never can exist between Great Britain and America, the latter being in subjection to the former. The Almighty created America to be independent of Britain. Let us beware of the impiety of being backward to act as instruments in the Almighty hand, now extended to accomplish his purpose, and by the completion of which, alone, America, in the nature of human affairs, can be secure against the craft and insidious designs of her enemies, who think her prosperity and power already by far too great. In a word, our piety and political safety are so blended, that to refuse our labours in this Divine work, is to refuse to be a great, a free, a pious, and a happy People.
And now, having left the important alternative, (political happiness or wretchedness,) under God, in a great degree in your own hands, I pray the Supreme Arbiter of the affairs of men so to direct your judgment as that you may act agreeable to what seems to be His will, revealed in His miraculous works in behalf of America, bleeding at the altar of Liberty!
THE PRESENTMENTS OF THE JURY.
At a Court of General Sessions of the Peace, Oyer and, Terminer, Assize and General Jail Delivery, begun to be holden in and for the District of CHARLESTOWN, at CHARLESTOWN, in the Colony aforesaid, on TUESDAY, the