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compelled to remain here in poverty and misery? Considerations such as these persuade me, that the proposed law would be both Unjust and InhuMan.
If then it is unnecessary, impracticable, impolitic, and unjust, I hope our parliament will never receive the bill, but leave landlords to their own remedy, an abatement of rents, and frugality of living; and leave the liberties of Britons and Irishmen at least as extensive as it found them. I am, Sir, yours, &c. A Friend To The Poor.
For The Pennsylvania Gazette.
On Sending Felons To America. Sir,
We may all remember the time when our mother-country, as a mark of her parental tenderness, emptied her gaols into our habitations, "for the Better peopling," as she expressed it, "of the colonies" It is certain that no due returns have yet been made for these valuable consignments. We are therefore much in her debt on that account; and, as she is of late clamorous for the payment of all we owe her, and some of our debts are of a kind not so easily discharged, I am for doing however what is in our power. It will show our good-will as to the rest. The felons she planted among us have produced such an amazing increase, that we are now enabled to make ample remittance in the same commodity. And since the wheelbarrow law is not found effectually to reform them, and many of our vessels are idle through her restraints on our trade, why should we not employ those vessels in transporting the felons to Britain?
I was led into this thought by perusing the copy of a petition to parliament, which fell lately by accident into my hands. It has no date, but I conjecture from some circumstances, that it must have been about the year 1767 or 1768. (It seems, if presented, it had no effect, since the act passed.) I imagine it may not be unacceptable to your readers, and therefore transcribe it for your paper; viz.
To the Honorable the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses of Great Britain, in Parliament assembled,
The Petition of B. F. Agent for the Province of Pennsylvania;Most humbly showeth;
That the transporting of felons from England to the plantations in America, is, and hath long been, a great grievance to the said plantations in general.
That the said felons being landed in America, not only continue their evil practices to the annoyance of his Majesty's good subjects there, but contribute greatly to corrupt the morals of the servants and poorer people among whom they are mixed.
That many of the said felons escape from the servitude to which they were destined, into other colonies, where their condition is not known; and wandering at large from one populous town to another, commit many burglaries, robberies, and murders, to the great terror of the people; and occasioning heavy charges for apprehending and securing such felons, and bringing them to justice. That your petitioner humbly conceives the easing one part of the British dominions of their felons by burthening another part with the same felons, cannot increase the common happiness of his Majesty's subjects, and that therefore the trouble and expense of transporting them, is upon the whole altogether useless.
That your petitioner, nevertheless, observes with extreme concern in the votes of Friday last, that leave is given to bring in a bill for extending to Scotland, the act made in the fourth year of the reign of King George the First, whereby the aforesaid grievances are, as he understands, to be greatly increased by allowing Scotland also to transport its felons to America.
Your petitioner therefore humbly prays, in behalf of Pennsylvania, and the other plantations in America, that the house would take the premises into consideration, and in their great wisdom and goodness repeal all acts, and clauses of acts, for transporting of felons; or if this may not at present be done, that they would at least reject the proposed bill for extending the said acts to Scotland; or, if it be thought fit to allow of such extension, that then the said extension may be carried further, and the plantations be also, by an equitable clause in the same bill, permitted to transport their felons to Scotland.
And your petitioner, as in duty bound, shall pray, &c.
The petition, I am informed, was not received by the house, and the act passed.
On second thoughts, I am of opinion, that besides employing our own vessels, as above proposed, every English ship arriving in our ports with goods for sale, should be obliged to give bond, before she is permitted to trade, engaging that she will carry back to Britain at least one felon for every fifty tons of her burthen. Thus we shall not only discharge sooner our debts, but furnish our old friends with the means of "better peopling" and with more expedition, their promising new colony of Botany Bay.
I am yours, &c. A. Z.
VINDICATION AND OFFER FROM CONGRESS TO
Forasmuch as the enemies of America in the parliament of Great Britain, to render us odious to the nation, and give an ill impression of us in the minds of other European powers, have represented us as unjust and ungrateful in the highest degree;—asserting, on every occasion, that the colonies were settled at the expense of Britain;— that they were, at the expense of the same, protected in their infancy;—that they now ungratefully and unjustly refuse to contribute to their own protection, and the common defence of the nation;—■ that they aim at independence;—that they intend an abolition of the navigation acts;—and that they are fraudulent in their commercial dealings, and purpose to cheat ther 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 farther credit, and be injurious throughout Europe to the reputation and interest of the confederate colonies, it seems pro
1 The above paper was drawn up in a committee of congress, June 25, 1775, but does not appear on their minutes; a severe act of parliament, which arrived about that time, having determined them not to give the sum proposed in it.—It was first printed in the Public Advertiser for July 18, 1777, No. 13,346. B. V.