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|been the maxim of the Tories, viz.: to unite the people of Great Britain, and divide those of America. All the movements, marches, and counter-marches of both parties, on both sides of the Atlantic, may be reduced to one or the other of these rules. I have shown that the people of America are united more perfectly than the most sanguine Whig could ever have hoped, or than the most timid Tory could have feared.”—Remembrancer, for 1775, published in London, Vol. I, p. 13.
XXI. Provincial Congress, at Watertown, Mass., in 1775.
It seems that, in 1775, the idea of American Independence was not in the minds of many of the people of the United Colonies. In the Provincial Congress, at Watertown, Massachusetts, on the 26th of April, 1775, an “Address to the inhabitants of Great Britain.” was adopted. It contained the following passage: “They” [the British Ministry] “have not yet detached us from our Royal Sovereign; we profess to be his loyal and dutiful subjects; and, so hardly dealt with as we have been, are still ready, with our lives and fortunes, to defend his person, family, crown, and dignity; nevertheless, to the persecution and tyranny of his cruel Ministry, we will not tamely submit.”—Remembrancer, Vol. I, p. 71.
In a letter dated “Monticello, August 25, 1775,” Thomas Jefferson said, he “would rather be in dependence on Great Britain, properly limited, than on any other nation upon the earth, or than on no nation. But,” he continued, “I am one of those too, who, rather than submit to the rights of legislating for us, assumed by the British Parliament, and which late experience has shown they will so cruelly exercise, would lend my hand to sink the whole island in the ocean.”—Jefferson’s Complete Works, Vol. I, p. 201.
James Wilson, of Pennsylvania, on the Declaration of Independence.
James Wilson, in a letter addressed “to the citizens of Pennsylvania,” said: “When the measure” [the Declaration of American Independence] “began to be an object of contemplation in Congress, the Delegates of Pennsylvania were expressly restricted from consenting to it. My uniform language in Congress was, that I never would vote for it, contrary to my instructions. I went further, and declared that I never would vote for it, without your authority.” # * * “When your authority was communicated by the conference of Committees from the several counties of the State, I then stood upon very different grounds: I declared so in Congress. I spoke and voted for the measure.” ” * * “Some who would not accede to the Declaration of Independence when it was made, have ever since shone in the number of its most determined and most illustrious supporters.”— Pennsylvania Journal, Oct. 18, 1780.
Extracts from “The Examination of Joseph Galloway, Esq., late Speaker of the House of Assembly of Pennsylvania, before the House of Commons, in a Committee on the American Papers”—Mr. Montagu in the chair— June 16, 1779:
“Question.—How long have you lived in America : Answer.—I have lived in America from my nativity to the month of October last, about fortyeight years. * * * Question.—At the beginning of the present rebellion, when the inhabitants took up arms, had the people, in general, independence in view 3 Answer.—I do not believe, from the best knowledge I have of the state of America at that time, that one-fifth of the people had independence in view. * * * Question.—That part of the rebel army that enlisted in the service of the Congress, were they chiefly composed of the natives of America, or were the greatest part of them English, Scotch and Irish : Answer.—The names and places of their nativity being taken down, I can answer the question with precision. There were scarcely one-fourth natives of America—about one-half Irish—the other fourth were English and Scotch.”
A letter dated “Philadelphia, June 20, 1775,” says:
“It is amazing to see the spirit of the Germans among us. Thousands of them have served as soldiers in their own country. They speak with infinite pleasure of sacrificing their lives and property for the preservation of liberty, which they know full well how to value from its deprivation by despotic princes.”—London. “Remembrancer” for 1775, p. 144.
C EIA PTER VI.
On the 15th of May, 1776, the Continental Congress adopted a Preamble, which contains the following passage: “And, whereas, it appears absolutely irreconcileable to good reason and conscience, for the people of these Colonies now to take the oaths and affirmations necessary for the support of any government under the crown of Great Britain, and it is necessary that the exercise of every kind of authority under the said crown should be totally suppressed, and all the powers of government exerted, under the authority of the people of the Colonies, for the preservation of internal peace, virtue, and good order, as well as for the defense of their lives, liberties, and properties, against the hostile invasions and cruel depredations of their enemies, Therefore—
“Resolved, That it be recommended to the respective assemblies and conventions of the United Colonies, where no government sufficient to the exigencies of their affairs hath been hitherto established, to adopt such government as shall, in the opinion of the representatives of the people, best conduce to the happiness and safety of their constituents, in particular, and America in general.”—Journals of Congress.
Delegates in Congress from Virginia instructed to propose Declaration of Independence.
On the 15th of May, 1776, the members of the Virginia Convention instructed the Delegates in Congress from Virginia “to propose to that respectable body to declare the United Colonies free and independent States, absolved from all allegiance to or dependence upon the Crown or Parliament of Great Britain.” The Virginia Delegates in Congress were also instructed to favor a confederation of the Colonies, “provided that the power of forming government for, and the regulation of the internal concerns of each Colony, be left to the respective Colonial legislatures.”—Jefferson’s Complete Works, Vol. I, p. 12.-Diary of the Amer. Rev., Wol. I, p. 242.
On the 12th of June, 1776, nearly one month before the Declaration of American Independence was proclaimed by the Continental Congress, the representatives of the people of Virginia, in Convention assembled, passed a Bill of Rights, in which the following declarations appear:—
1st.—“That all men are by nature equally free and independent, and have certain inherent rights, of which, when they enter into a state of society, they cannot, by compact, deprive or divest their posterity; namely, the enjoyment of life and liberty, with the means of acquiring