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to have the publick good at heart; and give every countenance and support to the officers who conduct the election in preserving the Constitution inviolate; so shall ye be instrumental in preserving your country, and have the pleasure of enjoying liberty while you live, and transmitting it to the latest posterity.
Philadelphia, April 30, 1776.
TO THE ELECTORS OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA.
A tradesman being asked why the principal merchants and gentlemen in Philadelphia were so much against Independency, replied: The gentlemen are chiefly of a certain connection, which speaks for itself, and may be properly called the family compact of Pennsylvania; and our great merchants are principally those who have gotten the whole trade into their hands, and, in consequence, are making immense fortunes at the expense of the People. None but capital houses dare now risk a trade. These great merchants, therefore, buy our produce cheap, and set what price they please on the goods they import. If affairs continue any time in their present condition, they will have the whole wealth of the Province in their hands, and then the people will be nearly in the condition that the East-India Company redueed the poor natives of Bengal to; whereas, were Independence declared, so that the Powers of Europe could tell Great Britain that they did not trade with Rebel subjects, they would push in as quick as possible, and strive which should secure the greatest trade to themselves. This would soon bring down the price of goods at present so much complained of, put an end to their monopolizing schemes, and destroy their present prospect of making enormous estates at our expense. Their golden harvests would then be at an end, and all ranks and conditions would come in for their just share of the wealth which would flow in upon us from all quarters. Would you have men, says he, to be for Independency, who gain as much upon one ships cargo now, as they did formerly by ten, purely because Independency is not declared? What is the ruin of their country to men who make from fifteen to twenty thousand pounds per month profit? They will rise, let who will fall. This is the connection which Cato boasts of. Some few there are, I agree, who value no private interest when their country is at stake; but they make no part of this combination. Above ninety of these merchants, having drawn in a few of our friends, who saw not their designs of destroying the influence of patriotick Committees, sent in a most insulting Remonstrance to our Committee of Inspection, denying their power, and refusing to submit to their decisions, merely because they attempted to moderate the extravagant price of their goods, and keep them within such limits as would enable the common people to purchase what they wanted. One of this junto, combined against North-America, declared that he would shed blood before Independency should take place. Another, in a publick company, said there was a large number of the first men on the Continent who would publickly declare against the Congress, and oppose them as soon as they declared for Independency. A third said, he would submit to the claims of Parliament rather than see these Colonies independent; and a fourth, when told there was not the least prospect of Great Britain accepting any other terms than absolute submission, and the giving up a number of our principal patriots to the halter, replied, Well, and if they have committed crimes against the State deserving of death, why should they not suffer? Some of these are at the head of the party that oppose Independency, and these are the terms they expect to bring us to. They have been repeatedly called upon to declare what are the terms of reconciliation which they will accept, and the arguments to support its propriety. But they evade the matter. And as to arguments, they have something more substantial in view; they have the certain prospect of rising on the ruins of their country. Here is the true cause of their opposition.
This appears to me to deserve the publick notice. And if such a Remonstrance as is above hinted at, has been handed to the Committee of Inspection, I hope they will publish it, with the names of the signers affixed to it, that the people may know who are their friends, and who are against them.
Philadelphia, April 30, 1776.
TO THE ELECTORS AND FREEHOLDERS OF THE CITY OF PHILADELPHIA.
FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS: A late law of this Province having appointed the election of four additional Members of Assembly for this city, to be held to-morrow, and the choice of fit persons for this trust being a matter of the highest importance, it has been thought proper, in a brief and plain way, to submit a few things to your serious consideration on this great occasion.
The chief blessings which a People can enjoy under a free Government, depend upon a fair and equal representation; the having frequent elections of those to whom they consign the care of their rights; and holding these elections in such a way, that every person entitled by law to a vote may exercise that most valuable of all privileges, agreeable to his own reason and conscience, without being overawed by the threats of power or party.
The late law has provided for the first of these three things, viz: a more equal representation. And our prudent ancestors, in their former laws, by the method of ballot, have provided for the two latter in such a way as hath rendered our Constitution the admiration of all our neighbours. But the best laws are of no signification, if a People become insensible of their value, or inattentive to their execution. The office of a Burgess for the City of Philadelphia is as great and honourable a trust as can fall to the share of any freeman of Pennsylvania; and yet a stranger, who had observed what a small proportion of the electors of this city have thought it worth their while to step from their houses to give a vote, in some late instances, would imagine either that we hold this privilege at a cheap rate, or that we have nothing at stake in our Representatives; and this neglect has lately been construed against us, by an anonymous writer, into a tacit approbation of new doctrines, by no means agreeable to the general sense of the good people of this city.
A question has lately been started, which has greatly changed our political ground, and has driven all our little distinction of parties entirely out of sight. It is, whether united, as heretofore, we shall continue our resistance to an oppressive Ministry till we can bring vengeance on their heads, and open the door for renewing our happy connection with the People of Great Britain; or whether, without waiting to know clearly whether this be possible or not, we shall, by our own act, shut the door against reconciliation, immediately declare ourselves a separate people, and run the risk of all the evils which may follow.
Upon one side of the question, we have every publick declaration of the Continent; the avowed design of our taking arms into our hands; the ardent desire of multitudes of good men deeply interested in the consequences; the sense of this Province, uniformly expressed from the beginning; and of some neighbouring Provinces, just renewed in their latest transactions. On the other side, we have the publication of nameless writers, setting themselves up in opposition to publick bodies, striving to inflame the passions, and lead us on to schemes of dangerous and uncertain event, wholly inconsistent with our original purposes.
If peace can be obtained upon safe terms, no good man can think, without horrour, upon the pursuit of new schemes which present nothing to us but a long stoppage of our trade and commerce, an immense increase of our taxes, changes in our civil Governments, the consequent uncertain situation of our lives and properties, the ruin of families, intestine divisions, and all the calamities attendant upon civil war. There is this essential difference between a declaration of Independence, as it hath been called, and the continuing our defence upon the present foundation: in the one case, a conviction of her error, on the part of Great Britain, may restore peace and tranquillity; in the other, we leave no room for such a conviction to operate in our favour. On the contrary, the tools of power will strive to verify their predictions, that we were aiming at a separation from the beginning. They will thereby seek to raise the indignation of the world against us, and to unite the whole British Nation in a fixed enmity. They will exert every engine to defeat our schemes, and practise every art, in every Court in Europe, to injure our credit.
As prudence and regard to ourselves can never direct us to give an enemy such an advantage, or to pursue such a conduct till the last extremity, it becomes one of the most