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of Concord, where they set upon aother party of the inhabitants of the same province, killing several and wounding more, until compelled to retreat by the country people suddenly assembled to repel this cruel aggression. Hostilities, thus commenced by the British troops, have been since prosecuted by them without regard to faith or reputation. The inhabitants of Boston being confined within that town by the general, their governor, and having, in order to procure their dismission, entered into a treaty with him, it was stipulated that the said inhabitants, having deposited their arms, with their own magistrates, should have liberty to depart, taking with them their other effects. They accordingly delivered up their arms; but, in open violation of honor, in defiance of the obligation of treaties, which even savage nations, esteem sacred, the governor ordered the arms deposited as aforesaid, that they might be preserved for their owners, to be seized by a body of soldiers; detained the greatest part of the inhabitants in the town, and compeiled the few who were permitted to retire, to leave their most valuable effects behind.
By this perfidy, wives are separated from their husbands, children from their parents, the aged and the sick from their relations and friends, who wish to attend and comfort them ; and those who have been used to live in plenty and even elegance, are reduced to deplorable distress.
The general, further emulating his ministerial masters, by a proclamation bearing date on the 12th day of June, after venting the grossest falsehoods and calumnies against the good people of these colonies, proceeds to “ declare them all either by name or description, to be rebels and traitors, to supersede the course of the common law, and instead thereof to publish and order the use and exercise of the law martial.” His troops have
butchered our countrymen, have wantonly burnt Charlestown, besides a considerable number of houses in other places ; our ships and vessels are seized ; the necessary supplies of provisions are intercepted, and he is exerting his utmost power to spread destruction and devastation around him.
We have received certain intelligence, that general Carleton, the governor of Canada, is instigating the people of that province, and the Indians, to fall upon us; and we have but too much reason to apprehend, that schemes have been formed to excite domestic enemies against us. In brief, a part of these Colonies now feel, and all of them are sure of feeling, as far as the vengeance of administration can inflict them, the complicated calamities of fire, sword, and famine. We are reduced to the alternative of choosing an unconditional submission to the tyranny of irritated ministers, or resistance by force. The latter is our choice. We have counted the cost of this contest, and find nothing so dreadful as voluntary slavery. Honour, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them, if we basely entail hereditary bondage upon them. Our cause is just. Our union is perfect.
Our internal resources are great, and, if necessary, foreign assistance is undoubtedly attainable. We gratefully acknowledge, as signal instances of the Divine favor towards us, that his providence would not permit us to be called into this severe controversy, until we were grown up to our present strength, had been previously exercised in warlike operations, and possessed the means of defending ourselves. With hearts fortified with these animating reflections, we most solemnly, before God,
and the world DECLARE, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have been compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverence, employ for the preservation of our liberties ; being with one mind resolved to die FREEMEN rather than to live
Lest this declaration should disquiet the minds of our friends and fellow-subjects in any part of the empire, we assure them that we mean not to dissolve that union which has so long and so happily subsisted between us, and which we sincerely wish to see restored. Necessity has not yet driven us into that desperate measure, or induced us to excite any other nation to war against them. We have not raised armies with ambitious designs of separating from Great Britain, and establishing independent states. We fight not for glory or for conquest. We exhibit to mankind the remarkable spectacle of a people attacked by unprovoked enemies, without any imputation or even suspicion of offence. They boast of their priviges and civilization, and yet proffer no milder conditions than servitude or death.
In our own native land, in defence of the freedom that is our birth-right, and which we ever enjoyed till the late violation of it; for the protection of our property, acquired solely by the honest industry of our forefathers and ourselves, against violence actually offered, we have taken up arms. We shall lay them down when hostilities shall sease on the part of the aggressors, and all danger of their being renewed shall be removed, and not before.
With an humble confidence in the mercies of the supreme and impartial Judge and Ruler of the universe, we most devoutly implore his Divine good
ness to protect us happily through this great conflict, to dispose our adversaries to reconciliation on reasonable terms, and thereby to relieve the empire froin the calamities of civil war.
IN CONGRESS, JULY 8, 1775.
KING'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY.
Most Gracious Sovereign, We your majesty's faithful subjects of the Colonies of New Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the counties of New-Castle, Kent, and Sussex on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Ca. rolina, and South Carolina, in behalf of ourselves and the inhabitants of these Colonies, who have deputed us to represent them in general congress, intreat your majesty's gracious attention to this our humble petition.
The union between our mother country and these colonies, and the energy of mild and just government, produced benefits so remarkably important, and afforded such an assurance of their permanency and increase, that the wonder and envy of other nations were excited, while they beheld Great Britain rising to a power the most extraordinary the world had ever known.
Her rivals, observing that there was no probability of this happy connection being broken by civil dissentions, and apprehending its future effects, if left any longer undisturbed, resolved to prevent her receiving such continual and formidable accessions of wealth and strength, by checking the growth of those settlements from which they were to be derived.
In the prosecution of this attempt, events so unfavorable to the design took place, that every friend to the interest of Great Britain and these Colonies, entertained pleasing and reasonable expectations of seeing an additional force and exertion immediately given to the operations of the union, hitherto experienced, by an enlargement of the dominions of the crown, and the removal of ancient and warlike enemies to a greater distance.
At the conclusion, therefore, of the late war, the most glorious and advantageous that ever had been carried on by British arms, your loyal Colonists having contributed to its success, by such repeated and strenuous exertions, as frequently procured them the distinguished approbation of your majesty, of the late king, and of parliament, doubted not but that they should be permitted, with the rest of the empire, to share in the blessings of peace, and the emoluments of victory and conquest.
While these recent and honourable acknowledgments of their merits remained on record in the journals and acts of that august legislature, the parliament, undefaced by the imputation or even the suspicion of any offence, they were alarmed by a new system of statutes and regulations adopted for the administration of the Colonies, that filled their minds with the most painful fears and jealousies; and to their inexpressible astonishment, perceived the danger of a foreign quarrel quickly succeeded by domestic danger, in their judgment of a more dreadful kind.
Nor were these anxieties alleviated by any tendency in this system to promote the welfare of their mother country. For though its effects were more immediately felt by them, yet its influence appeared to be injurious to the commerce and prosperity of Great Britain.