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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
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.
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 ? And whether, when all the parts of an empire exert themselves to the utmost in their common defence, and .n annoying the common enemy, it is not as well the parts that protect the whole, as the whole that protects the parts? 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 [one 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; 31 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 ; 20 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.
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; hut 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 Vindication 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 upon 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.”