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a very few Tories and placemen excepted, who will probably soon export themselves. Britain, at the expense of three millions, has killed one hundred and fifty Yankees this campaign, which is twenty thousand pounds a head; and at Bunker's Hill she gained a mile of ground, half of which she lost again by our taking post on Ploughed Hill. During the same time sixty thousand children have been born in America. From these data his mathematical head will easily calculate the time and expense necessary to kill us all, and conquer our whole territory. My sincere respects to and to the club of honest whigs at Adieu. I am ever yours most affectionately,
JAMES OTIS OF BOSTON
1725-1783 When the Writs of Assistance were decreed, Otis was advocategeneral under the crown, and he was therefore called upon to uphold the action of the government. He resigned his well-salaried position, and, refusing a fee, used all his eloquence against the Writs. John Adams took notes of the first part of this speech, and made a summary
of the chief points of the remainder. The opening paragraphs were published in the Massachusetts Spy for April 29, 1773, from which the following extract is taken.
From Otis's speech “Against Writs of Assistance," delivered before the
Superior Court in Boston, February, 1761. My engaging in this and another popular cause has raised much resentment. But I think I can sincerely declare that I cheerfully submit myself to every odious name for conscience' sake; and from my soul I despise all those whose guilt, malice, or folly has made them my foes. Let the consequences be what they will, I am determined to proceed. The only principles of public conduct that are worthy of a gentleman or a man are to sacrifice estate, ease, health, and applause, and even life, to the sacred calls of his country.
These manly sentiments, in private life, make the good citi
zen; in public life, the patriot and the hero. I do not say that when brought to the test, I shall be invincible. I pray God I may never be brought to the melancholy trial; but if ever I should, it will be then known how far I can reduce to practice, principles which I know to be founded in truth.
From “The Rights of the British Colonies Asserted and Proved,"
1764. On America's Right to Representation A state has no right to make slaves of the conquered. Even when the subordinate right of legislature is forfeited and so declared, this cannot affect the natural persons either of those who were invested with it, or the inhabitants, so far as to deprive them of the rights of subjects and of men. The colonists will have an equitable right notwithstanding any such forfeiture of charter, to be represented in Parliament, or to have some new subordinate legislature among themselves. It would be best if they had both. Deprived, however, of their common rights as subjects, they cannot lawfully be while they remain such. A representation in Parliament from the several colonies, since they are become so large and numerous, as to be called on not only to maintain provincial government, civil and military among themselves, for this they have chearfully done, but to contribute towards the support of a national standing army, by reason of the heavy national debt, when they themselves owe a large one, contracted in the common cause, can't be tho’t an unreasonable thing, nor if asked could it be called an immodest request. Qui sentit commodum sentire debet et onus, has been tho't a maxim of equity. But that a man should bear a burthen for other people, as well as himself, without a return, never long found a place in any law-book or decrees, but those of the most despotic princes. Besides the equity of an American representation in parliament, a thousand advantages would result from it. It would be the most effectual means of giving those of both countries a thorough knowledge of each others interests; as well as that of the whole, which are inseparable.
Were this representation allowed; instead of the scandalous memorials and depositions that have been sometimes, in days of old, privately cooked up in an inquisitorial manner, by persons of bad minds and wicked views, and sent from America to the several boards, persons of the first reputation among their countrymen, might be on the spot, from the several colonies, truly to represent them. Future ministers need not, like some of their predecessors, have recourse for information in American affairs, to every vagabond stroller, that has run or rid post thro’ America, from his creditors, or to people of no kind of reputation from the colonies; some of whom, at the time of administring their sage advice, have been as ignorant of the state of this country, as of the regions in Jupiter and Saturn. . . . We all think ourselves happy under Great-Britain. We love, esteem and reverence our mother country, and adore our King. And could the choice of independency be offered the colonies, or subjection to Great Britain upon any terms above absolute slavery, I am convinced they would accept the latter. The ministry, in all future generations may rely on it, that British America will never prove undutiful, till driven to it, as the last fatal resort against ministerial oppression, which will make the wisest mad, and the weakest strong.
RICHARD HENRY LEE OF VIRGINIA
1732–1794 The Address was read to the delegates of the colonies at the Second Continental Congress, July 8, 1775. A month later, William Penn's son Richard carried it to England together with a last Petition to the King and other documents. It was of these papers that Lord Chatham said: “When you consider their decency, firm ness, and wisdom, you cannot but respect their cause and wish to make it your own."
The second extract is from a letter to a friend in London, written by Lee, May 31, 1764. The third is from his famous speech
introducing his motion, “that these united colonies are and of right ought to be free and independent states."
The three selections are taken from the Memoir of the Life of Richard Henry Lee, 1825, by his grandson, Richard Henry Lee. Of the third the author says: “Memory has preserved a faint outline of his first speech, and pronounces the following, as the concluding sentences, with which he introduced his memorable motion.”
From “The Address of the Colonies to the Inhabitants of Great
Your ministers (equal foes to British and American freedom) have added to their former oppressions an attempt to reduce us by the sword to a base and abject submission. On the sword, therefore, we are compelled to rely for protection. Should victory declare in your favor, yet men trained to arms from their infàncy and animated by the love of liberty will afford neither a cheap nor easy conquest. Of this, at least, we are assured, that our struggle will be glorious, our success certain; since even in death we shall find that freedom which in life you forbid us to enjoy.
Let us now ask what advantages are to attend our reduc-. tion? The trade of a ruined and desolate country is always inconsiderable, its revenue trifling; the expense of subjecting and retaining it in subjection certain and inevitable. What then remains but the gratification of an ill-judged pride or the hope of rendering us subservient to designs on your liberty?
Soldiers who have sheathed their swords in the bowels of their American brethren will not draw them with more reluctance against you. When too late you may lament the loss of that freedom which we exhort you, while still in your power, to preserve.
On the other hand, should you prove unsuccessful; should that connection which we most ardently wish to maintain be dissolved; should your ministers exhaust your treasures and waste the blood of your countrymen in vain attempts on our
liberty; do they not deliver you, weak and defenceless, to your natural enemies?
Since, then, your liberty must be the price of your victories; your ruin, of your defeat; what blind fatality can urge you to a pursuit destructive of all that Britons hold dear?
If you have no regard to the connexion that has for ages subsisted between us; if you have forgot the wounds we have received fighting by your side for the extension of the empire ; if our commerce is not an object below your consideration; if justice and humanity have lost their influence on your hearts; still motives are not wanting to excite your indignation at the measures now pursued; your wealth, your honor, your liberty are at stake.
Notwithstanding the distress to which we are reduced, we sometimes forget our own afflictions to anticipate and sympathize in yours. We grieve that rash and inconsiderate councils should precipitate the destruction of an empire which has been the envy and admiration of ages; and call God to witness that we would part with our property, endanger our lives, and sacrifice everything but liberty, to redeem you from ruin.
A cloud hangs over your heads and ours; e'er this reaches you, it may probably burst upon us; let us then (before the remembrance of former kindness is obliterated) once more repeat those appellations which are ever grateful in our ears ; let us entreat heaven to avert our ruin, and the destruction that threatens our friends, brethren, and countrymen on the other side of the Atlantic.
From a letter to a friend in London.
Can it be supposed that those brave adventurous Britons, who originally conquered and settled these countries through great dangers to themselves and benefit to the mother country, meant thereby to deprive themselves of the blessings of that free government of which they were members, and to which they had an unquestionable right? or can it be imagined that