The Road to Revolution

1765

“At present few things are under notice of my observation that can afford you any amusement in the recital–The Stamp Act Imposed on the Colonies by the Parliament of Great Britain engrosses the conversation of the Speculative part of the Colonists, who look upon this unconstitutional method of Taxation as a direful attack upon their Liberties, & loudly exclaim against the Violation…”

“As to the Stamp Act taken in a single and distinct view; one, & the first bad consequence attending of it I take to be this–our Courts of Judicature will be shut up, it being morally impossible under our present Circumstances that the Act of Parliament can be complied with…it may be left to yourselves, who have such large demands upon the Colonies, to determine, who is to suffer most in this event–the Merchant, or the Planter…”

1766

“The Repeal of the Stamp Act, to whatsoever causes owing, ought much to be rejoiced at, for had the Parliament of Great Britain resolvd upon enforcing it the consequences I conceive woud have been more direful than is generally apprehended both to the Mother Country & her Colonies…”

1767

“Unseasonable as it may be, to take any notice of the repeal of the Stamp Act at this time, yet, I cannot help observing that a contrary measure woud have Introduced very unhappy Consequences: those therefore who wisely foresaw this, and were Instrumental in procuring the repeal of it, are, in my opinion, deservedly entitled to the thanks of the well wishers to Britain and her Colonies…”

1769

“At a time when our lordly Masters in Great Britain will be satisfied with nothing less than the deprivation of American freedom, it seems highly necessary that something shou’d be done to avert the stroke and maintain the liberty which we have derived from our Ancestors; but the manner of doing it to answer the purpose effectually is the point in question…”

1774

“…in short the Ministry may rely on it that Americans will never be tax’d without their own consent that the cause of Boston the despotick Measures in respect to it I mean now is and ever will be considerd as the cause of America (not that we approve their cond[uc]t in destroyg the Tea) & that we shall not suffer ourselves to be sacrificed by piecemeal though god only knows what is to become of us, threatned as we are with so many hoverg evils as hang over us at present…”

“As to your political sentiments, I would heartily join you in them, so far as relates to a humble and dutiful petition to the throne, provided there was the most distant hope of success. But have we not tried this already?…And to what end? Did they deign to look at our petitions? Does it not appear, as clear as the sun in its meridian brightness, that there is a regular, systematic plan formed to fix the right and practice of taxation upon us?…”

“… I see nothing on the one hand, to induce a belief that the Parliament would embrace a favourable oppertunity of Repealing Acts which they go on with great rapidity to pass, in order to enforce their Tyrannical System; and on the other, observe, or think I observe, that Government is pursuing a regular Plan at the expence of Law & justice, to overthrow our Constitutional Rights & liberties, how can I expect any redress from a Measure which hath been ineffectually tryd already–For Sir what is it we are contending against?…”

“For my own part, I shall not undertake to say where the Line between Great Britain and the Colonies should be drawn, but I am clearly of opinion that one ought to be drawn; & our Rights clearly ascertaind. I could wish, I own, that the dispute had been left to Posterity to determine, but the Crisis is arrivd when we must assert our Rights…”

“I think I can announce it as a fact, that it is not the wish, or the interest of the Government, or any other upon this Continent, separately, or collectively, to set up for Independence; but this you may at the same time rely on, that none of them will ever submit to the loss of those valuable rights & priviledges which are essential to the happiness of every free State, and without which, Life, Liberty & property are rendered totally insecure…”

1775

“I have promisd to review the Independant Company of Richmond sometime this Summer, they having made me a tender of the Command of it, [at] the same time I could review yours and shall very che[er]fully accept the honr of Commanding it if oc[ca]sion requires it to be drawn out, as it is my full intention to devote my Life & Fortune in the cause we are engagd in, if need be…”

“Unhappy it is though to reflect, that a Brother’s Sword has been sheathed in a Brother’s breast, and that, the once happy and peaceful plains of America are either to be drenched with Blood, or Inhabited by Slaves. Sad alternative! But can a virtuous Man hesitate in his choice?”

“I am now set down to write to you on a subject which fills me with inexpressable concern—and this concern is greatly aggravated and Increased when I reflect on the uneasiness I know it will give you—It has been determined by Congress, that the whole Army raised for the defence of the American Cause shall be put under my care, and that it is necessary for me to proceed immediately to Boston to take upon me the Command of it.”

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