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But if Britain does not think fit to accept this proposition, we, in order to remove her groundless jealousies, that we aim at independence, and an abolition of the Navigation Act, (which hath in truth never been our intention, and to avoid all future disputes about the right of making that and other acts for regulating our commerce, do hereby declare ourselves ready and willing to enter into a covenant with Britain, that she shall fully possess, enjoy, and exercise that right, for an hundred years to come; the same being bona fide used for the common benefit; and, in case of such agreement, that every Assembly be advised by us to confirm it solemnly by laws of their own, which, once made, cannot be repealed without the assent of the crown.
The last charge, that we are dishonest traders, and aim at defrauding our creditors in Britain, is sufficiently and authentically refuted by the solemn declarations of the British merchants to Parliament, (both at the time of the Stamp Act and in the last session) who bore ample testimony to the general good faith and fair dealing of the Americans, and declared their confidence in our integrity; for which we refer to their petitions on the journals of the House of Commons. And we presume we may safely call on the body of the British tradesmen, who have had experience of both, to say, whether they have not received much more punctual payment from us, than they generally have from the members of their own two Houses of Parliament.
On the whole of the above it appears, that the charge of ingratitude towards the mother country, brought with so much confidence against the colonies, is totally without foundation; and that there is much more reason for retorting that charge on Britain, who, not only never contributes any aid, nor affords, by an exclusive commerce, any advantages to Saxony, her mother country;
but no longer since than in the last war, without the least provocation, subsidized the King of Prussia while he ravaged that mother country, and carried fire and sword into its capital, the fine city of Dresden' An example we hope no provocation will induce us to imitate.”
* The following preamble to a proposed resolution of Congress (not passed) was drawn up by Dr. Franklin, about the time that the above Windication was written.—Editor.
“Whereas the British nation, through great corruption of manners and extreme dissipation and profusion, both private and public, have found all honest resources insufficient to supply their excessive luxury and prodigality, and thereby have been driven to the practice of every injustice, which avarice could dictate or rapacity execute; And whereas, not satisfied with the immense plunder of the East, obtained by sacrificing millions of the human species, they have lately turned their eyes to the West, and, grudging us the peaceable enjoyment of the fruits of our hard labor and virtuous industry, have for years past been endeavouring to extort the same from us, under color of laws regulating trade, and have thereby actually succeeded in draining us of large sums, to our great loss and detriment; And whereas, impatient to seize the whole, they have at length proceeded to open robbery, declaring by a solemn act of Parliament, that all our estates are theirs, and all our property found apon the sea divisible among such of their armed plunderers as shall take the same ; and have even dared in the same act to declare, that all the spoilings, thefts, burnings of houses and towns, and murders of innocent people, perpetrated by their wicked and inhuman corsairs on our coasts, previous to any war declared against us, were just actions, and shall be so deemed, contrary to several of the commandments of God (which by this act they presume to repeal), and to all the principles of right, and all the ideas of justice, entertained heretofore by every other nation, savage as well as civilized; thereby manifesting themselves to be hostes humani generis; And whereas it is not possible for the people of America to subsist under such continual ravages without making some reprisals; Therefore, Resolved, &c.”
The following articles exhibit the first sketch of a plan of Confederation, which is known to have been presented to Congress. They seem to have been proposed by Dr. Franklin in his individual capacity, and not as a member of any committee. They were brought forward on the 21st of July, 1775. What proceedings were had in relation to them cannot be ascertained from the Journals; but it is probable, that, after some debate, they were referred to a committee. It is worthy of remark, that, although they are dated nearly a year before the declaration of independence, they could hardly be made practical, without assuming the existence of an independent government. The subject of a confederation was discussed from time to time ; but the plan finally acceded to by the States was not adopted by Congress till November 15th, 1777. This ultimate plan differed in many essential points from Dr. Franklin's draft, and was more extensive. It was not ratified by a sufficient number of States to carry it into effect till July 9th, 1778, nor by all the States till March 1st, 1781. — EDITOR.
The name of this Confederacy shall henceforth be THE UNITED COLONIES OF NORTH AMERICA.
The said United Colonies hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, binding on
themselves and their posterity, for their common defence against their enemies, for the securities of their liberties and properties, the safety of their persons and families, and their mutual and general welfare.
That each colony shall enjoy and retain as much as It may think fit of its own present laws, customs, rights, privileges, and peculiar jurisdictions within its own limits; and may amend its own constitution, as shall seem best to its own Assembly or Convention.
That, for the more convenient management of general interests, delegates shall be annually elected in each colony, to meet in general Congress at such time and place as shall be agreed on in the next preceding Congress. Only, where particular circumstances do not make a duration necessary, it is understood to be a rule, that each succeeding Congress be held in a different colony, till the whole number be gone through; and so in perpetual rotation; and that accordingly the next Congress after the present shall be held at Annapolis, in Maryland. *
That the power and duty of the Congress shall extend to the determining on war and peace; the sending and receiving ambassadors, and entering into alliances (the reconciliation with Great Britain); the settling all disputes and differences between colony and colony, about limits or any other cause, if such should arise; and the planting of new colonies when proper. The Congress shall also make such general ordinances as, though necessary to the general welfare, particular Assemblies cannot be competent to, viz. those that may relate to our general commerce, or general currency; the establishment of posts; and the regulation of our common forces. The Congress shall also have the appointment of all general officers, civil and military, appertaining to the general confederacy, such as general treasurer, secretary, &c.
ARTICLE VI. All charges of wars, and all other general expenses to be incurred for the common welfare, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury, which is to be supplied by each colony in proportion to its number of male polls between sixteen and sixty years of age. The taxes for paying that proportion are to be laid and levied by the laws of each colony.
The number of delegates to be elected and sent to Congress by each colony shall be regulated, from time to time, by the number of such polls returned ; so as that one delegate be allowed for every five thousand polls. And the delegates are to bring with them to every Congress an authenticated return of the number of polls in the respective provinces, which is to be taken triennially, for the purposes above mentioned.
At every meeting of the Congress, one half of the members returned, exclusive of proxies, shall be necessary to make a quorum; and each delegate at the Congress shall have a vote in all cases, and, if necessarily absent, shall be allowed to appoint any other delegate from the same colony to be his proxy, who may vote for him.