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Southern Colonies will not accede to it. My hand and heart are full of it. There will be no abiding union without it. When the Colonies come to be pressed with taxes they will divide and crumble to pieces. Will a Government stand on recommendations? It is idle to suppose so. Will Canada ever join us without Independence and Government? They will not. Can we subsist, and support our trading people, without trade? It appears more and more every day in the country and Army that we cannot. Nay, without a real Continental Government our Army will overrun us, and people will, by and by, sooner than you may be aware of, call for their old Constitutions; and as they did in England after Cromwells death, call in Charles the Second. For Gods sake let there be a full Revolution, or all has been done in vain. Independency, and a well planned Continental Government, will save us. God bless you. Amen and amen.
To Elbridge Gerry, Esq.
BOSTON TOWN MEETING.
At a meeting of the Inhabitants of this Town, by adjournment, on Wednesday, May 1, 1776, the following gentlemen were chosen a Committee of Correspondence, Inspection, and Safety, viz:
ELEAZER RUSSELL TO COLONEL JOSHUA WENTWORTH.
Portsmouth, New-Hampshire, May, 1776.
SIR: When you offered me the Association to subscribe, my indisposition was so great that I could hardly speak or think; therefore, entreated you to call again, or give me leave to wait on you when able.
Respect to publick authority inclines me much to sign it; but as I am utterly unable to comply with the letter of it, can by no means do it without restriction and reserve.
The article of defending the country with arms is explicit and peremptory; which the total loss of health makes me incapable ofmy constitution rent for three successive years with paralytick fits, seldom able to walk a mile without assistance, often falling headlong when crossing a floor, and always confined in cold or damp weather.
There is also an original scruple on my mind, strengthened by more than thirty years reflection, on the subject of the lawfulness of shedding human blood of any nation, except for crimes condemned by human laws founded on the divine.
A thought never entered my heart but what was replete with the tenderest emotions for the country in its bleeding state. My duty is clear in submitting to the powers now in being in the Colony, and my disposition fixed to serve the publick in every view consistent with the above description of my health, and the rights of conscience as expressed in a late resolve of the Continental Congress.
It is you, sir, I have immediately to do with in this affair; and if you will please to make these thoughts known to any of the Committees, or Court, that may be proper, I think it will excuse, I am sure it will oblige, your respectful and most humble servant,
To Joshua Wentworth, Esq.
To the Inhabitants of the AMERICAN Colonies:
FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS: It was hard, it was cruel, to have British laws imposed upon us against our repeated petitions, in the face of our most solicitous remonstrances. It was mean, it was irritating, to have standing armies forced into our towns, and ships-of-war stationed in our harbours, and we ourselves denied a law for our safety, the means of defence, in case of unjust violence and lawless depredations. His policy was to keep us defenceless, unprepared, and unarmed, that we might fall an easy prey to the intended invasion. Hence, and from his innate aversion to everything not instamped with the characters of slavery, was his repeated reprobation, in their virgin purity, of bills for a new necessary regulation of the Militia, and for the prevention of bribery and corruption, those bulwarks of the publick peace, integrity, and safety.
We have gradually and insensibly been departing from our once happy Government, by the practices of those whose interest it was to filch away the liberties of the subject. Men, the first in ability and rectitude, have been dismissed from the service of the country, for no other reason but their unshaken attachment to her interest; and others, the servile minions of power, placed in their stead, and crammed down the throats of the people. Wealth was accumulated, and offices monopolized by the few; of consequence their influence increased, and their power dangerously augmented. The power in the hands of the people was diminishing in the same proportion as individuals became great and wealthy by the administration of publick justice. Under the combined influence of the Justices of the Peace, officers of the Militia, Judges and officers of the Courts, and other standing Magistrates and officers, a Republican Government, with a Monarchical check, was rapidly degenerating into an Aristocracy, the most oppressive and arbitrary of all Governments. I do not mention it as alone peculiar to the late demolished set of Magistrates; some others, perhaps, would have done the same. It is the lot of mortals, it is incident to humanity. Few, very few, are fortified against the bewitching charms of power, and the pleasant sweets of emolument. However, it evinces the necessity of two political maximsthe necessity in all Governments, both of a limited delegation of power in point of time, and a frequent resort to first principles.
My dear countrymen, when I recollect your descent, your loyalty, your worthy achievements, with the motives of your conduct, I feel the workings of a laudable pride, and the flame of vanity kindling within me. But the fire of indignation burns fierce when I consider how you have been galled by Parliamentary pressure, and Majestratical power; how petitions for redress have been the occasion of adding insult to cruelty, and increasing the weight of your wrongs, of procuring sneers from your bosom enemies, and frowns from a deluded Sovereign, at first pocketed by an American Minister, and then branded with infamy, despised, spurned at, and trampled under foot. Groundless, scandalous, and vexatious, have been the refined appellations to mark the character of the whole communityintolerable oppression to a man susceptible of the suggestions of an English heart. History may unfold the dangers of thus wantonly sporting with the feelings of a spirited people. For this, Charles I. lost his head, and James II. the British Crown. But to return. When I review your past sufferings, how you have been cramped and obstructed in the making of necessary laws; your Militia discouraged; your Magistrates appointed with the advice of a maimed hebdominal Council; your agents refused pay, to prevent the possibility of complaints, however necessary; your castle surrendered; your manufacturing house attacked; your harbours invested with a powerful fleet; your capital with a lawless soldiery; your Representatives made to give way to a Standing Army, kept in duress, dissolved, prorogued, adjourned, and harassed about, with a great expense to their constituents, for no other reason but because they refused to betray their trust, and submit to a wanton exercise of arbitrary power; your ears wounded by horrid oaths; your eyes with wretched scenes; your persons with frequent indignities; your Sabbaths profaned; your religion despised; the morals of the young corrupted; innocency seduced, and chastity abused; your countrymen butchered; your property destroyed; your laws trampled upon; your Governour and your Judges made independent; a Board of Commissioners constituted; Courts of Admiralty established; their jurisdiction enlarged, and trial by Juries in many instances taken away, and others greatly impaired; and, finally, how every branch of your Constitution, principle of law, and maxim of freedom,