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When we consider the magnitude of the prize we contended for, the doubtful nature of the contest, and the favorable manner in which it has terminated, we shall find the greatest possible reason for gratitude and rejoicing.
This is a theme that will afford infinite delight to every benevolent and liberal mind, whether the event in contemplation be considered as the source of present enjoyment, or the parent of future happiness; and we shall have equal occasion to felicitate ourselves, on the lot which Providence has assigned us, whether we view it in a natural, a political, or a moral point of light.
The rights of mankind, the privileges of the people, and the true principles of liberty, seem to have been more generally discussed, and better understood, throughout Europe, since the American Revolution, than they were at any former period.
THE SPIRIT OF THE REVOLUTION.
The value of liberty was enhanced in our estimation, by the difficulty of its attainment, and the worth of character appreciated by the trial of adversity. The tempest of war having at length been succeeded by the sunshine of peace, our citizen-soldiers impressed a useful lesson of patriotism on mankind, by nobly re
turning, with impaired constitutions and unsatisfied claims, after such long sufferings and severe disappointments, to their former occupations. Posterity, as well as the present age, will doubtless regard, with admiration and gratitude, the patience, perseverance and valor, which achieved our Revolution. They will cherish the remembrance of virtues which had but few parallels in former times, and which will add new lustre to the most splendid page of history.
I concur with the legislature in repeating, with pride and joy, what will be an everlasting honor to our country, that our Revolution was so distinguished for moderation, virtue, and humanity, as to merit the eulogium they have pronounced, of its being unsullied with a crime.
FALSE AND CRUEL POLICY OF GREAT BRITAIN.
Great Britain understood herself perfectly well, in this dispute, but did not comprehend America.
She meant, as Lord Camden clearly and explicitly declared, to drive America into rebellion, that her own purposes might be more fully answered by it. But take this along with it, that this plan originated in a firm belief, founded on misinformation, that nỏ effectual opposition would or could be made. They
little dreamt of what has happened, and are disappointed in their views.
Does not every act of Administration, from the Tea Act to the present session of Parliament, declare this, in plain and self-evident characters? Had the Commissioners any powers to treat with America? If they meant peace, would Lord Howe have been detained in England five months after passing the act? Would the powers of these Commissioners have been confined to mere acts of grace, upon condition of • absolute submission? No! surely no! They meant to drive us into what they termed rebellion, that they might be furnished with a pretext to disarm, and then strip us of the rights and privileges of Englishmen and citizens.
If they were actuated by the principles of justice, why did they refuse, indignantly, to accede to the terms which were humbly supplicated before hostilities commenced, and this country was deluged in blood; and now make their principal officers, and even the Commissioners themselves, say, that these terms are just and reasonable; nay, that more will be granted than we have yet asked, if we will relinquish our claim to independency?
What name does such conduct as this deserve? And what punishment is there in store for the men who have distressed millions, involved thousands in ruin, and plunged numberless families in inextricable woe ? Could that which is just and reasonable now, have been unjust four years ago?
They must either be wantonly wicked and cruel, or, (which is only another mode of describing the same thing,) under false colors are now endeavoring to deceive the great body of the people, by industriously propagating a belief, that Great Britain is willing to offer ANY terms, and that we will accept NONE; thereby hoping to poison and disaffect the minds of those who wish for peace, and to create feuds and dissensions among ourselves.
In a word, having less dependence now in their arms than their arts, they are practising such low and dirty tricks, that men of sentiment and honor must blush at their fall.
Among other manoeuvres in this way, they are forging letters, and publishing them as intercepted ones of mine, to prove that I am an enemy to the present measures, and have been led into them, step by step, still hoping that Congress would recede from their claims.
THE STAMP ACT: ITS PASSAGE CONDEMNED.
The Stamp Act, imposed on the colonies by the Parliament of Great Britain, engrosses the conversation of the speculative part of the colonists, who look upon this unconstitutional method of taxation, as a direful attack upon their liberties, and loudly exclaim against the violation.
What may be the result of this, and of some other
(I think I may add ill-judged) measures, I will not undertake to determine; but this I may.venture to affirm, that the advantage accruing to the mothercountry will fall greatly short of the expectations of the ministry; for certain it is, that our whole substance already in a manner flows to Great Britain, and that whatsoever contributes to lessen our importations must be hurtful to our manufactures. The eyes of our people already begin to be opened; and they will perceive, that many luxuries, for which we lavish our substance in Great Britain, can well be dispensed with, while the necessaries of life are mostly to be had within ourselves. This, consequently, will introduce frugality, and be a necessary incitement to industry.
If Great Britain loads her manufactures with heavy taxes, will it not facilitate such results? They will not compel us, I think, to give our money for their exports, whether we will or not. And I am certain, that none of their traders will part with them, without a valuable consideration. Where, then, is the utility of these restrictions?
As to the Stamp Act, regarded in a single view, one and the first bad consequence attending it, is, that our courts of judicature must inevitably be shut up; for it is impossible, or next to impossible, under our present circumstances, that the act of Parliament can be complied with, were we ever so willing to enforce its execution. And, not to say (which alone would be sufficient) that we have not money to pay