Sidebilder
PDF
ePub

and the Floridas to Spain, to accomplish for themselves a recovery of these Colonies :

That it would not be long before we should receive certain information of the disposition of the French Court, from the agent whom we had sent to Paris for that

purpose: That if this disposition should be favorable, by waiting the event of the present campaign, which we all hoped would be successful, we should have reason to expect an alliance on better terms:

That this would in fact work no delay of any effectual aid from such ally, as, from the advance of the season, and distance of our situation, it was impossible we could receive any assistance during this campaign :

That it was prudent to fix among ourselves the terms on which we would form alliance, before we declared we would form one at all events :

And that if these were agreed on, and our Declaration of Independence ready by the time our Ambassador was ready to sail, it would be as well, as to go into that Declaration at this day.

On the other side it was urged by J. Adams, Lee, Wythe and others :

That no gentleman had argued against the policy or the right of separation from Britain, nor had supposed it possible we should ever renew our connection; that they had only opposed its being now declared:

That the question was not whether, by a Declaration of Independence, we should make ourselves what we are not, but whether we should declare a fact which already exists:

That, as to the people or Parliament of England, we had always been independent of them, their restraints on our trade deriving efficacy from our acquiescence only, and not from any rights they possessed of imposing them, and that so far our connection had been federal only, and was now dissolved by the commencement of hostilities:

That, as to the King, we had been bound to him by allegiance, but that this bond was now dissolved by his assent to the late Act of Parliament by which he declares us out of his protection, and by his levying war on us, a fact which had long ago proved us out of his protection; it being a certain position in law that allegiance and protection are reciprocal, the one ceasing when the other is withdrawn:

That James the Second never declared the people of England out of his protection; yet his actions proved it, and the Parliament declared it:

No Delegates then can be denied, or ever want, a power of declaring an existent truth:

That the Delegates from the Delaware counties having declared their constituents ready to join, there are only two Colonies, Maryland and Pennsylvania, whose Delegates are absolutely tied up, and that these had by their instructions only reserved a right of confirming or rejecting the measure:

That the instructions from Pennsylvania might be accounted for from the times in which they were drawn, near a twelve-month ago, since which the face of affairs has totally changed:

That within that time it has become apparent that Britain was determined to accept nothing less than a carte-blanche, and that the King's answer to the Lord Mayor, Aldermen and Common Council of London, which had come to hand four days ago, must have satisfied every one of this point:

That the people wait for us to lead the way:

That they are in favor of the measure, though the instructions given by some of their representatives are not:

That the voice of the representatives is not always consonant with the voice of the people, and this is remarkably the case in these middle Colonies »

That the effect of the resolution of the fifteenth of May has proved this, which, raising the murmurs of some in the Colonies of Pennsylvania and Maryland, called forth the opposing voice of the freer part of the people, and proved them to be the majority even in these Colonies :

That the backwardness of these two Colonies might be ascribed partly to the influence of proprietary power and connections, and partly to their having not yet been attacked by the enemy:

That these causes were not likely to be soon removed, as there seemed no probability that the enemy would make either of these the seat of this summer's war:

That it would be vain to wait either weeks or months for perfect unanimity, since it was impossible that all men should ever become of one sentiment on any question:

That the conduct of some Colonies, from the beginning of this contest, had given reason to suspect it was their settled policy to keep in the rear of this Confederacy, that their particular prospect might be better, even in the worst event:

That therefore it was necessary for those Colonies who had thrown themselves forward and hazarded all from the beginning, to come forward now also, and put all again to their own hazard :

That the history of the Dutch revolution, of whom only three States confederated at first, proved that a secession of some Colonies could not be so dangerous as some apprehended:

That a Declaration of Independence alone could render it consistent with European delicacy for European powers to treat with us, or even to receive an Ambassador from us :

That till this, they would not receive our vessels into their ports, nor acknowledge the adjudications of our courts of admiralty to be legitimate, in cases of capture of British vessels :

That though France and Spain may be jealous of our rising power, they must think it will be much more formidable with the addition of Great Britain, and will therefore see it their interest to prevent a coalition; but should they refuse, we shall be but where we are; whereas without trying we shall never know whether they will aid us or not:

That the present campaign may be unsuccessful, and therefore we had better propose an alliance while our affairs wear a hopeful aspect:

That to await the event of this campaign will certainly work delay, because during this summer, France may assist us effectually, by cutting off those supplies of provisions from England and Ireland, on which the enemy's armies here are to depend; or by setting in motion the great powers they have collected in the West Indies, and calling our enemy to the defence of the possessions they have there:

That it would be idle to lose time in settling the terms of alliance, till we had first determined we would enter into alliance:

That it is necessary to lose no time in opening a trade for our people, who will want clothes, and will want money too for the payment of taxes:

And that the only misfortune is, that we did not enter into alliance with France six months sooner, as, besides opening their ports for the vent of our last years produce, they might have marched an army into Germany and prevented the petty princes there from selling their unhappy subjects to subdue us.

It appearing from the course of these debates that the Colonies of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland were not matured for falling from the parent stem, but that they were fast advancing to that state, it was thought most prudent to wait awhile for them, and to postpone the final decision to the first of July, but that this might occasion as little delay as possible, a committee was appointed to prepare a Declaration of Independence. The committee were J. Adams, Dr. Franklin, Roger Sherman, Robert R. Livingston and myself. Committees were also appointed at the same time to prepare a plan of confederation for the Colonies, and to state the terms proper to be proposed for foreign alliance. The committee for drawing the Declaration of Independence desired me to do it. It was accordingly done, and being approved by them I reported it to the House on Friday the twenty-eighth of June, when it was read and ordered to lie on the table. On Monday the first of July the House resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole, and resumed the consideration of the original

« ForrigeFortsett »