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the Throne? But if, as is most probable, Democracies or Aristocracies should be the modes, who does not feel himself a considerable loser by the change? Was every Colony to become a distinct and separate State, what endless divisions among them! Should such a number of little Commonwealths (where the diversity of laws, the inequality of riches, the variety of possessions, must sow in secret the seeds of opposition in interests) be disposed to form a confederated union, how adjust the rank which each should hold in it, and the influence which each should possess, in proportion to their respective risks and importance? Jealousy, and a hundred other passions, which so early divided the States of Greece, would spread discord through a multitude of Colonies, rather associated by resentment and indignation against Britain, (which are but transitory and galling ties,) than by the sober and well-weighed principles of a natural and permanent union. Their confederacy will continue no longer than the necessity of opposing the common enemy. When that necessity ceases, the turbulent spirit of conquest will break loose, the strong will overrun the weak, and they will mourn for the peaceful influence of the parent country. All these considerations seem to evince that an eternal divorce from Britain would be a great and grievous misfortune to these Colonies.
But, say the friends of innovation, it is both unnatural and inconvenient for the Sovereign of America to reside at three thousand miles distance. This I look upon to be one of our greatest blessings. A King at a distance can never have that personal influence which we find to be the cause of every subversion of the rights of the People; and although some inconveniences may arise from his distant situation, the good by far overbalances the evil.
Others have asked, How can we again be reconciled to a People who hath declared us Rebels, or acknowledge allegiance to a King who has violated the rights of the subject, and broke through the barriers of the Constitution? I answer, that I care but little for their declarations; for as long as we have the power of retaliation in our hands, they will not dare to treat us as Rebels; and although I detest the principles of George III., and shall think it my duty, at all times, to oppose his unjust encroachments, yet I mean to preserve the Constitution, by restraining the King. All men are intoxicated with power; and it is the duty of the People to watch over those who must of necessity be invested with supreme command. The same caution holds good in Monarchies, Aristocracies, and Republicks.
But, I am told, your scheme is merely visionary; the People of England will never agree to such a reconciliation as renders the Crown independent of Parliament. Let us beat them into compliance. They will be glad to receive us on those terms, rather than lose us altogether. And while we acknowledge allegiance to the Crown of England, let us assert our natural, our constitutional rights to a free Government, and oppose an invincible resistance to every shadow of Parliamentary resistance over these Colonies.
With much more show of reason, it is alleged that necessity and our common safety call out aloud upon us to separate forever. The advocates of this doctrine tell us, that as long as we continue under the allegiance of the Crown of England, the Nations of Europe will not lend us any assistance. And have we, then, so bad an opinion of our own strength as, in despair, to call in the assistance of foreigners? No, say they; but surely an alliance with foreigners will be an advantage to us, by enabling them to supply us with the necessaries for carrying on the war; that on a declaration of Independence, and not before, our seas and rivers will be crowded with French and Spaniards; a ready market will be had for our produce; and gold and silver will pour in apace. Alas! I fear it will prove but a golden dream, out of which we shall awake restless, dissatisfied, and in despair. The very reverse appears to me to be the most probable. While Britain remains mistress of the seas, and blocks up every inlet into our country, how are the French and Spaniards to get in amongst us? Have we not seen her an overmatch for France and Spain united? And while she continues in alliance with Russia and Holland, is it not probable that she will beat the rest of the united world on that element? But I will suppose France and Spain able to lend effectual assistance; yet I affirm that it is neither their interest to give it, nor our interest to accept of it, with a view to absolute Independency. Cut the knot which ties Old England to the New, and soon would the Northern Colonies, alone, possess more force than they now have united with Britain. This vast Continent, let loose from every connection in Europe, would enjoy the liberty, the command of all her own movements. It would then become a measure of equal importance and facility for her to seize those lands whose treasures might supply what the mediocrity of her own productions denies her. Her independent position would enable her to complete the preparations for invasion, before the rumour of them would reach the European climates. She might choose her enemy, the field, and the moment of her victories. Her thunder would always discharge itself on coasts where it was least expected, on seas but feebly guarded by distant States. Those countries, for the defence of which forces were sent over, would be conquered before they could be succoured. They could neither be recovered by treaty, without great sacrifices, nor prevented from again falling under that yoke from which an enfeebled hand had delivered them. The Colonies of these States would hasten to acknowledge a master who would offer them no conditions so vexatious as that of their own Government; or else, animated by the example of the English Provinces, they would break the chain which fastens them so shamefully to Europe.
Sound policy, then, will prevent the rival Nations of England from precipitating, by their secret Councils, by clandestine succours, or by open assistance, the total Independence of America, which can only deliver them from a neighbouring rival, by giving them a conquerer at a distance. I will go further, and assert, however paradoxical it may appear, that although the other Nations of Europe will not assist in bringing about a total separation, it will be their true interest to join the Americans in that constitutional Independence which gives them a free trade under the allegiance of the Crown of England.
England, it is true, derives the influence she is mistress of, especially in the New World, from the extent and population of her Northern Colonies. It is they who put it in her power to attack at all times, with advantage, the isles and the continent of other nations, to conquer their lands and to ruin their commerce. But let it be considered that this Crown hath, in the other quarters of the globe, interests which may run counter to her progress in America, which may hamper or retard her enterprises there, and which may annihilate her conquests by the necessity of restitutions.
France and Spain have nothing more to gain from a total separation of the Colonies, but what they will receive from their independent trade under the Crown of England. They have a great deal more to lose. This reasoning, it is said, may hold good with respect to Spain, but the French Territories in America are so insignificant that an extensive commerce with the Continent, and the prospect of a powerful fleet, will vastly overbalance the other considerations. And can we be serious in our wishes to aggrandize the power of France that nation who lately aspired at universal empire, and only wanted a fleet to carry her scheme into execution? Shall we be such short-sighted politicians as to furnish her with that fleet? Soon would she give laws to the whole American Continent. Or, suppose the power of France should be only an equal match for Britain, what shall we gain by the conflict? A diversion of the British forces, perhaps, in our favour. But is it not more probable that the contending Powers, being wearied with their mutual losses, would join to divide the Colonies between them?
Thus, every great and powerful motive combines to mark the line of American politicksthe rights of a free trade, under the Crown of England, and the power of granting supplies as the free gift of the People, until, in the fulness of time, the seat of Empire shall be transferred from Britain to America.
NORTHAMPTON COUNTY (VIRGINIA) COMMITTEE.
Captain Duncan Hill, Commander of the Schooner lately loaded with Flour, formerly commanded by Captain Kell, laid his Instructions from the honourable the Council of Safety of Maryland before the Committee, and desired their advice therein. The Committee accordingly took his case