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abolition of the Navigation Acts; and that they are fraudulent in their commercial dealings, and purpose to cheat their creditors in Britain, by avoiding the payment of their just debts;
And, as by frequent repetition these groundless assertions and malicious calumnies may, if not contradicted and refuted, obtain further credit, and be injurious throughout Europe to the reputation and interest of the confederate colonies, it seems proper and necessary to examine them in our own just vindication.
With regard to the first, that the colonies were settled at the expense of Britain, it is a known fact, that none of the twelve united colonies were settled, or even discovered, at the expense of England. Henry the Seventh, indeed, granted a commission to Sebastian Cabot, a Venetian, and his sons, to sail into the western seas for the discovery of new countries;. but it was to be “ suis eorum propriis sumptibus et expensis," at their own costs and charges.* They discovered, but soon slighted and neglected these northern territories; which were, after more than a hundred years' dereliction, purchased of the natives, and settled at the charge and by the labor of private men and bodies of men, our ancestors, who came over hither for that purpose. But our adversaries have never been able to produce any record, that ever the Parliament or government of England was at the smallest expense on these accounts; on the contrary, there exists on the journals of Parliament a solemn declaration in 1642, (only twenty-two years after the first settlement of the Massachusetts, when, if such expense had ever been incurred, some of the members must have known and remembered it)
* See the Commission in the Appendix to Pownall's Administration of the Colonies. Edition 1775.
“That these colonies had been planted and established without any expense to the state.” New York is the only colony in the founding of which England can pretend to have been at any expense; and that was only the charge of a small armament to take it from the Dutch, who planted it. But to retain this colony at the peace, another at that time full as valuable, planted by private countrymen of ours, was given up by the crown to the Dutch in exchange, viz. Surinam, now a wealthy sugar colony in Guiana, and which, but for that cession, might still have remained in our possession. Of late, indeed, Britain has been at some expense in planting two colonies, Georgia and Nova Scotia; but those are not in our confederacy; † and the expense she has been at in their name has chiefly been in grants of sums unnecessarily large, by way of salaries to officers sent from England, and in jobs to friends, whereby dependants might be provided for; those excessive grants not being requisite to the welfare and good government of the colonies, which good government (as experience in many instances of other colonies has taught us) may be much more frugally, and full as effectually, provided for and supported. With regard to the second assertion, that these colonies were protected in their infant state by England, it is a notorious fact, that, in none of the many wars with the Indian natives, sustained by our infant settlements for a century after our first arrival, were ever any troops or forces of any kind sent from England to assist us; nor were any forts built at her expense, to secure our seaports from foreign invaders; nor any ships of war sent to protect our trade, till many years after our first settlement, when our commerce became an object of revenue, or of advantage to British merchants; and then it was thought necessary to have a frigate in some of our ports, during peace, to give weight to the authority of custom-house officers, who were to restrain that commerce for the benefit of England. Our own arms, with our poverty, and the care of a kind Providence, were all this time our only protection; while we were neglected by the English government; which either thought us not worth its care, or, having no good will to some of us, on account of our different sentiments in religion and politics, was indifferent what became of us. On the other hand, the colonies have not been wanting to do what they could in every war for annoying the enemies of Britain. They formerly assisted her in the conquest of Nova Scotia. In the war before last they took Louisburg, and put it into her hands. She made her peace with that strong fortress, by restoring it to France, greatly to their detriment. In the last war, it is true, Britain sent a fleet and army, who acted with an equal army of ours, in the reduction of Canada; and perhaps thereby did more for us, than we in the preceding wars had done for her. Let it be remembered, however, that she rejected the plan we formed in the Congress at Albany, in 1754, for our own defence, by a union of the colonies; a union she was jealous of, and therefore chose to send her own forces; otherwise her aid to protect us was not wanted. And from our first settlement to that time, her military operations in our favor were small, compared with the advantages she drew from her exclusive commerce with us. We are, however, willing to give full, weight to this obligation; and, as we are daily growing stronger, and our assistance to her becomes of more importance, we should with pleasure embrace the first opportunity of showing our gratitude by returning the favor in kind.
* “Veneris, March 10th, 1642. Whereas, the plantations in New England have, by the blessing of the Almighty, had good and prosperous success, without any public charge to this state, and are now likely to prove very happy for the propagation of the Gospel in those parts, and very beneficial and commodious to this kingdom and nation; the Commons now assembled in Parliament, &c. &c. &c.”
# Georgia joined the other colonies soon afterwards. On the 20th of July, 1775, a letter was read in Congress from the convention of Georgia, giving notice that delegates had been appointed in that colony to attend the Continental Congress.-Editor.
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But, when Britain values herself as affording us protection, we desire it may be considered, that we have followed her in all her wars, and joined with her at our own expense against all she thought fit to quarrel with. This she has required of us; and would never permit us to keep peace with any power she declared her enemy; though by separate treaties we might well have done it. Under such circumstances, when at her instance we made nations our enemies, whom we might otherwise have retained our friends, we submit it to the common sense of mankind, whether her protection of us in these wars was not our just due, and to be claimed of right, instead of being received as a favor 2 And whether, when all the parts of an empire exert themselves to the utmost in their common defence, and in annoying the common enemy, it is not as well the parts that protect the whole, as the whole that protects the parts 2 The protection then has been proportionably mutual. And, whenever the time shall come, that our abilities may as far exceed hers, as hers have exceeded ours, we hope we shall be reasonable enough to rest satisfied with her proportionable exertions, and not think we do too much for a part of the empire, when that part does as much as it can for the whole.
The charge against us, that we refuse to contribute to our own protection, appears from the above to be groundless ; but we farther declare it to be absolutely false ; for it is well known, that we ever held it as our duty to grant aids to the crown, upon requisition, towards carrying on its wars; which duty we have cheerfully complied with, to the utmost of our abilities; insomuch that frequent and grateful acknowledgments thereof, by King and Parliament, appear on the records.* But, as Britain has enjoyed a most gainful monopoly of our commerce; the same, with our maintaining the dignity of the King's representative in each colony, and all our own separate establishments of government, civil and military ; has ever hitherto been deemed an equivalent for such aids as might otherwise be expected from us in time of peace. And we hereby declare, that on a reconciliation with Britain, we shall not only continue to grant aids in time of war, as aforesaid; but, whenever she shall think fit to abolish her monopoly, and give us the same privileges of trade as Scotland received at the union, and allow us a free commerce with all the rest of the world; we shall willingly agree (and we doubt not it will be ratified by our constituents) to give and pay into the sinking fund Tone hundred thousand pounds] sterling per annum for the term of one hundred years; which duly, faithfully, and inviolably applied to that purpose, is demonstrably more than sufficient to extinguish all her present national debt; since it will in that time amount, at legal British interest, to more than [two hundred and thirty millions of pounds.] t.
* Supposed to allude to certain passages in the journals of the House of Commons on the 4th of April, 1748; 28th of January, 1756; 3d of February, 1756 ; 16th and 19th of May, 1757 ; 1st of June, 1758; 26th and 30th of April, 1759; 26th and 31st of March, and 28th of April, 1760; 9th and 20th of January, 1761; 220 and 26th of January, 1762; and 14th and 17th of March, 1763. — B. V.
† See Dr. Price's Appeal on the National Debt.-B. V.