Documents for 1775: Armed Conflict

CONTENTS




The Earl of Dartmouth to Gov. Thomas Gage January 27, 1775
WHITEHALL January 27th 1775 Secret.

SIR,

Although your letters by the Scarborough represented the Affairs of the Province under Your Government in a very unfavourable light, & stated an Opposition to the Execution of the Law which marked a Spirit in the People of a dangerous & alarming nature, yet as they did not refer to any Facts tending to shew that the Outrages which had been committed were other than merely the Acts of a tumultuous Rabble, without any Appearance of general Concert or without any Head to advise, or Leader to conduct that could render them formidable to a regular Force led forth in support of Law and Government, it was hoped that by a vigorous Exertion of that Force, conformable to the Spirit & Tenor of the King's Commands signified to you in my several Letters, any further Insults of the like nature would have been prevented, & the People convinced that Government wanted neither the Power nor the Resolution to support it's just Authority & to punish such atrocious Offences. Your Dispatches, however, intrusted to Mr. Oliver, and those which have been since received, by the Schooner St Lawrence, and through other Channels relate to Facts, and state Proceedings, that amount to actual Revolt, and shew a Determination in the People to commit themselves at all Events in open Rebellion.

The King's Dignity, & the Honor and Safety of the Empire, require, that, in such a Situation, Force should be repelled by Force; and it has been His Majesty's Care not only to send you from hence such Reinforcement of the Army under your Command as general Considerations of public Safety would admit, but also to authorize you to collect together every Corps that could be spared from necessary Duty in every other part of America. It is hoped therefore that by this time your Force will amount to little less than 4,000 effective Men, including the Detachment of Marines that went out in the Men of War that sailed in October last, and I have the Satisfaction to acquaint you that Orders have been given this day for the immediate Embarkation of a further Detachment of Seven Hundred Marines, and of three Regiments of Infantry, & One of light Dragoons, from Ireland.

The Regiments of Infantry will be completed by Recruits to their full Establishment; and the Regiment of Light Dragoons will be augmented eighteen Men a Troop, that is to say Nine Men to be drafted with their Horses from the other Regiments of Light Cavalry in Ireland, nine Men without Horses from the Light Dragoons in England.

It is further directed that the number of Men wanting to complete the Regiments now with you, according to your last Returns, which amounts in the whole to near 500 should be raised by drafting one Man a Company from each of the Regiments in Ireland which will amount to about 200 & by drafting one Man a Company from some Regiments here, which will make about 60 more, and the remaining 240 to be raised by recruiting in Ireland for the number which (after the other mode of Supply) will be wanted for each Regiment.

You will observe that nine Men in each Troop of the Regiment of Light Dragoons will be without Horses, and a large Allowance must also be made for the Loss of Horses in the Passage. It will therefore be necessary that ample Provision of Horses be made, & you will not fail to take the earliest & most effectual Measures for securing a number, not less than 200 and Preparing them for Service upon the Arrival of the Regiment.

I understand a Proposal has been made by Mr Ruggles for rasing a Corps of Infantry from among the friends of Government in New England. Such a Proposal certainly ought to be encouraged, and it is the King's Pleasure that you should carry it into effect upon such Plan as you shall judge most expedient.

It appears that your Object has hitherto been to act upon the Defensive, & to avoid the hazard of weakening your Force by sending out Detachments of your Troops upon any Occasion whatsoever; & I should do injustice to Your Conduct, and to my own Sentiments of your Prudence & Discretion, if I could suppose that such Precaution was not necessary.

It is hoped however that this large Reinforcement to your Army will enable you to take a more active & determined part, & that you will have Strength enough, not only to keep Possession of Boston, but to give Protection in to Salem & the friends of Government at that Place, & that you may without Hazard of Insult return thither if you think fit, & exercise Your Functions there, conformable to His Majesty's Instructions.

I have already said, in more Letters than one, that the Authority of this Kingdom must be supported, & the Execution of its Laws inforced, & you will have seen in His Maty's Speech to both Houses of Parliament, & in the Addresses which they have presented to His Majesty, the firm Resolution of His Majesty and Parliament to act upon those Principles; and as there is a strong Appearance that the Body of the People in at least three of the New England Governments are determined to cast off their Dependence upon the Government of this Kingdom, the only Consideration that remains is, in what manner the Force under your Command may be exerted to defend the Constitution & to restore the Vigour of Government.

It seems to be your Idea that Matters are come to such a State that this is no otherwise attainable than by an absolute Conquest of the People of the three Governments of Massachuset's Bay, Connecticut & Rhode Island, & that such Conquest cannot be effected by a less Force than 10,000 Men.

I am persuaded, Sir, that you must be aware that such a Force cannot be collected without augmenting our Army in general to a War-Establishment; and tho 'I do not mention this as an objection, because I think that the preservation, to Great Britain, of her Colonies demands the exertion of every effort this Country can make, yet I am unwilling to believe that matters are as yet come to that Issue.

I have stated that the violences committed by those who have taken up arms in Massachusetts Bay, have appeared to me as the acts of a rude Rabble without plan, without concert, & without conduct, and therefore I think that a smaller Force now, if put to the Test, would be able to encounter them with greater probability of Success than might be expected from a greater Army, if the people should be suffered to form themselves upon a more regular plan, to acquire confidence from discipline, and to prepare those resources without which every thing must be put to the issue of a single Action.

In this view therefore of the situation of The King's Affairs, it is the Opinion of The King's Servants in which His Majesty concurs, that the first & essential step to be taken towards re-establishing Government, would be to arrest and imprison the principal actors & abettors in the Provincial Congress (whose proceedings appear in every light to be acts of treason & rebellion) if regardless of your Proclamation & in defiance of it they should presume again to assemble for such rebellious purposes; and if the steps taken upon this occasion be accompanied with due precaution, and every means be devised to keep the Measure Secret until the moment of Execution, it can hardly fail of Success, and will perhaps be accomplished without bloodshed; but however that may be I must again repeat that any efforts of the People, unprepared to encounter with a regular force, cannot be very formidable; and though such a proceeding should be, according to your own idea of it, a Signal for Hostilities yet, for the reasons I have already given, it will surely be better that the Conflict should be brought on, upon such ground, than in a riper state of Rebellion.

It must be understood, however, after all I have said, that this is a matter which must be left to your own Discretion to be executed or not as you shall, upon weighing all Circumstances, and the advantages and disadvantages on one side, and the other, think most advisable.

I have fully exposed to you the Grounds upon which the Proposition has been adopted here, & unless the situation of things shall be very different from what they at present appear to be, it is considered as the best & most effectual means of vindicating the authority of this Kingdom.

Some attention must be given to the consideration of what it may be fit to do with those who shall be made prisoners in consequence of this Proceeding --And here I must confess the little hope I have that in the present situation of Things, and the temper of the people, they could be prosecuted to conviction. Their imprisonment however will prevent their doing any further mischief; and as the Courts of justice are at present not permitted to be opened, the continuance of that imprisonment will be no slight punishment.

I have mentioned this Measure as having the probable effect to become a Test of the People's resolution to resist, but there are other Cases that must occur in which the affording the Assistance of the Military will probably become unavoidable.

The recommendation of the General Congress, that Committees in the several Provinces should be appointed to carry into execution the Association for Nonimportation, and that they should take into their possession all ships arriving in the American Ports after the first of December, and should dispose of their Cargoes, in the manner, and for the purposes stated in their Resolutions, encourages Acts of so illegal & arbitrary a nature that every Effort must be made to protect the Commerce of the Kingdom and the Property of the King's Subjects from such outrageous Insults; and if, in any such Cases, the Assistance be afforded with Vigour and Celerity, I trust not much will be hazarded in the Execution, even should the Attempt encourage the People to take up Arms, seeing in this, as well as in the other Case, their Efforts of Resistance must be made without Plan or Preparation.

In such an Event as I have here supposed, it must be considered also, that any Efforts of Resistance on the Part of the People will be the less to be feared, as the Scene of Action, if it should come to Extremities, must be in Situations, where the Naval Force, which will receive immediate & considerable Augmentation, may be brought to act in Aid of the Army with full Effect.

I sincerely wish that the Information which we have received of the State of the Province, would enable me to instruct you upon every Case in which you may wish to receive such Instruction; but in a Situation where every thing depends so much upon the Events of the Day, and upon local Circumstances, your Conduct must be governed very much by your own Judgement and Discretion.

What I have said will point out to you with precision the Idea entertained here, of the manner in which the Military Force under your Command may be employed with effect; and it only remains for me to suggest to you, whether it may not be advisable, if there should be an evident Intention on the Part of Connecticut and Rhode Island to support the Inhabitants of Massachuset's Bay in their Rebellious Conduct, that the Fortifications upon the Island in front of the Town of Newport, and the Battery at New London should be dismantled; It may also be advisable to bring away the Cannon and Stores belonging to that Battery, and deposit them in some Place of Security; a Service which, I conceive, may very easily be effected by the Admiral without the Aid of any Detachment from the Army; and you will do well to consider whether it may not be practicable, to recover into The King's possession those Cannon and Stores which have been taken away in so extraordinary a manner from the Fort at Newport

With regard to the state of America in general, affairs there are now come to a Crisis in which the Government of this Country must act with firmness and decision.

The accounts of what has already passed in Parliament on the Subject of America will probably reach You thro' other channels as early as you can receive this Letter; and I make no doubt they will be accompanied with every misrepresentation and exaggeration that can have the effect to encourage in the people more desperate Measures; you will therefore be more than ever on your guard, and upon no account suffer the Inhabitants of at least the Town of Boston, to assemble themselves in arms on any pretence whatever, either of Town guard or Militia duty; and I rather mention this, as a Report prevails that you have not only indulged them in having such a Guard, but have also allowed their Militia to train and discipline in Faneuil Hall.

In reviewing the Charter for the Government of the Province of Massachusets Bay, I observe there is a clause that impowers the Governor to use & exercise the Law-Martial in time of actual War, Invasion or Rebellion.

The inclosed copy of a Report made to me by the Attorney & Solicitor General, contains an Opinion that the Facts stated in the Papers you have transmitted, are the history of an actual and open Rebellion in that Province, and therefore I conceive that according to that Opinion, the exercise of that power is strictly justifiable, but the Expedience and Propriety of adopting such a Measure must depend upon your own Discretion under many Circumstances that can only be judged of upon the Spot.

I am Sir, Your most Obedient humble Servant.

DARTMOUTH

Honble Governor Gage.

[Endorsed] Secret. Earl of Dartmouth. Jan'y 17th 1775. Recd by Falcon sloop of War. April 16th



Agreement of the Ipswich, Massachusetts Minute Men January 24, 1775

We whose names are hereunto subscribed do voluntarily enlist ourselves as minute men, to be ready for military operation upon the shortest notice. And we hereby promise and engage that we will immediately, each of us, provide for and equip himself with an effective fire-arm bayonet pouch, knapsack, and round of cartridges ready made. And that we may obtain the skill of complete soldiers, we promise to convene for exercise in the art military, at least twice every week; and oftener if our officers shall think necessary, And as soon as such a number shall be enlisted as the present captain, lieutenant and ensign of the company of militia shall think necessary, we will proceed to choose such officers as shall appear to them and to the company to be necessary; the officers to be chosen by a majority of the votes of the enlisted company. And when the officers are duly chosen, we hereby promise and engage that we will punctually render all that obedience to them respectively as is required by the laws of this province or practised by any well regulated troops. And if any officer or soldier shall neglect to attend the time and place of exercise, he shall forfeit and pay the sum of two shillings lawful money for the use of the company unless he can offer such an excuse to the officers of the company as to them shall appear sufficient. . . .



Resolutions of the Provincial Congress of Virginia March 23, 1775

Resolved, that a well regulated militia composed of gentlemen and yeomen is the natural strength and only security of a free government; that such a militia in this colony would forever render it unnecessary for the mother country to keep among us, for the purpose of our defence, any standing army of mercenary forces, always subversive of the quiet, and dangerous to the liberties of the people, and would obviate the pretext of taxing us for their support.

That the establishment of such a militia is at this time peculiarly necessary, by the state of our laws for the protection and defence of the country some of which have already expired, and others will shortly do so; and that the known remissness of government in calling us together in a legislative capacity renders it too insecure in this time of danger and distress, to rely that opportunity will be given of renewing them in General Assembly or making any provision to secure our inestimable rights and liberties from those farther violations with which they are threatened.

Resolved therefore, that this colony be immediately put into a posture of defence: and that Patrick Henry, Richard Henry Lee, Robert Carter Nicholas, Benjamin Harrison, Lemuel Riddick, George Washington, Adam Stephen, Andrew Lewis, William Christian, Edmund Pendleton, Thomas Jefferson and Isaac Zane, Esquires, be a committee to prepare a plan for the embodying arming and disciplining such a number of men as may be sufficient for that purpose.





Declaration of the Causes and Necessities of Taking Up Arms July 6, 1775

If it was possible for men, who exercise their reason, to believe, that the Divine Author of our existence intended a part of the human race to hold an absolute property in, and an unbounded power over others, marked out by his infinite goodness and wisdom, as the objects of a legal domination never rightfully resistible, however severe and oppressive, the Inhabitants of these Colonies might at least require from the Parliament of Great Britain some evidence,that this dreadful authority over them, has been granted to that body. But a reverence for our great Creator, principles of humanity, and the dictates of common sense, must convince all those who reflect upon the subject, that government was instituted to promote the welfare of mankind, and ought to be administered for the attainment of that end. The legislature of Great Britain, however, stimulated by an inordinate passion for a power, not only unjustifiable, but which they know to be peculiarly reprobated by the very constitution of that kingdom, and desperate of success in any mode of contest, where regard should be had to truth, law, or right, have at length deserting those, attempted to effect their cruel and impolitic purpose of enslaving these Colonies by violence, and have thereby rendered it necessary for us to close with their last appeal from Reason to Arms.-Yet, however blinded that assembly may be, by their intemperate rage for unlimited domination, so to slight justice and the opinion of mankind, we esteem ourselves bound, by obligations of respect to the rest of the world, to make known the justice of our cause.

Our forefathers, inhabitants of the island of Great Britain, left their native land, to seek on these shores a residence for civil and religious freedom. At the expence of their blood, at the hazard of their fortunes, without the least charge to the country from which they removed by unceasing labor, and an unconquerable spirit, they effected settlements in the distant and inhospitable wilds of America, then filled with numerous and warlike nations of barbarians. Societies or governments, vested with perfect legislatures, were formed under charters from the crown;and an harmonious intercourse was established between the colonies and the kingdom from which they derived their origin. The mutual benefits of this union became in a short time so extraordinary, as to excite astonishment. It is universally confessed, that the amazing increase of the wealth, strength and navigation of the realm, arose from this source; and the minister, who so wisely and successfully directed the measures of Great Britain in the late war publicly declared, that these colonies enabled her to triumph over her enemies.-Towards the conclusion of that war, it pleased our sovereign to make a change in his counsels.-From that fatal moment, the affairs of the British empire began to fall into confusion, and gradually sliding from the summit of glorious prosperity, to which they had been advanced by the virtues and abilities of one man, are at length distracted by the convulsions, that now shake it to its deepest foundations. The new ministry finding the brave foes of Britain, though frequently defeated, yet still contending, took up the unfortunate idea of granting them a hasty peace, and then subduing her faithful friends.

These devoted colonies were judged to be in such a state, as to present victories without bloodshed, and all the easy emoluments of statutable plunder.-The uninterrupted tenor of their peaceable and respectful behaviour from the beginning of colonization, their dutiful, zealous, and useful services during the war, though so recently and amply acknowledged in the most honorable manner by his majesty, by the late king, and by Parliament, could not save them from the meditated innovations.-Parliament was influenced to adopt the pernicious project, and asserting a new power over them, have, in the course of eleven years, given such decisive specimens of the spirit and consequences attending this power, as to leave no doubt concerning the effects of acquiescence under it. They have undertaken to give and grant our money without our consent, though we have ever exercised an exclusive right to dispose of our own property; statutes have been passed for extending the jurisdiction of courts of Admiralty and Vice-Admiralty beyond their ancient limits; for depriving us of the accustomed and inestimable privilege of trial by jury, in cases affecting both life and property; for suspending the legislature of one of the colonies; for interdicting all commerce to the capital of another; and for altering fundamentally the form of government established by charter, and secured by acts of its own legislature solemnly confirmed by the crown; for exempting the "murderers" of colonists from legal trial, and in effect, from punishment; for erecting in a neighboring province, acquired by the joint arms of Great Britain and America, a despotism dangerous to our very existence; and for quartering soldiers upon the colonists in time of profound peace. It has also been resolved in parliament, that colonists charged with committing certain offences, shall be transported to England to be tried.

But why should we enumerate our injuries in detail ? By one statute it is declared, that parliament can "of right make laws to bind us IN ALL CASES WHATSOEVER." What is to defend us against so enormous, so unlimited a power? Not a single man of those who assume it, is chosen by us; or is subject to our controul or influence; but, on the contrary, they are all of them exempt from the operation of such laws, and an American revenue, if not diverted from the ostensible purposes for which it is raised, would actually lighten their own burdens in proportion as they increase ours. We saw the misery to which such despotism would reduce us. We for ten years incessantly and ineffectually besieged the Throne as supplicants; we reasoned, we remonstrated with parliament, in the most mild and decent language. But Administration, sensible that we should regard these oppressive measures as freemen ought to do, sent over fleets and armies to enforce them. The indignation of the Americans was roused, it is true; but it was the indignation of a virtuous, loyal, and affectionate people. A Congress of Delegates from the United Colonies was assembled at Philadelphia, on the fifth day of last September. We resolved again to offer an humble and dutiful petition to the King, and also addressed our fellow-subjects of Great Britain. We have pursued every temperate, every respectful measure: we have even proceeded to break off our commercial intercourse with our fellow-subjects, as the last peaceable admonition, that our attachment to no nation upon earth should supplant our attachment to liberty. This, we flattered ourselves, was the ultimate step of the controversy: but subsequent events have shewn, how vain was this hope of finding moderation in our enemies. . . .

We have received certain intelligence that General Carleton, the Governor of Canada, is instigating the people of that province and the Indians to fall upon us; and we have but too much reason to apprehend, that schemes have been formed to excite domestic enemies against us. In brief, a part of these colonies now feels, and all of them are sure of feeling, as far as the vengeance of administration can inflict them, the complicated calamities of fire, sword, and famine. -We are reduced to the alternative of chusing an unconditional submission to the tyranny of irritated ministers, or resistance by force. The latter is our choice. -We have counted the cost of this contest, and find nothing so dreadful as voluntary slavery. Honor, justice, and humanity, forbid us tamely to surrender that freedom which we received from our gallant ancestors, and which our innocent posterity have a right to receive from us. We cannot endure the infamy and guilt of resigning succeeding generations to that wretchedness which inevitably awaits them, if we basely entail hereditary bondage upon them.

Our cause is just. Our union is perfect. Our internal resources are great, and, if necessary, foreign assistance is undoubtedly attainable. We gratefully acknowledge, as signal instances of the Divine favour towards us, that his Providence would not permit us to be called into this severe controversy, until we were grown up to our present strength, had been previously exercised in warlike operation, and possessed of the means of defending ourselves. -With hearts fortified with these animating reflections, we most solemnly, before God and the world, declare, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have been compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverance, employ for the preservation of our liberties; being with our [one] mind resolved to dye Free-men rather than live Slaves.

Lest this declaration should disquiet the minds of our friends and fellow subjects in any part of the empire, we assure them that we mean not to dissolve that Union which has so long and so happily subsisted between us, and which we sincerely wish to see restored.-Necessity has not yet driven us into that desperate measure, or induced us to excite any other nation to war against them.-We have not raised armies with ambitious designs of separating from Great Britain, and establishing independent states. We fight not for glory or for conquest. We exhibit to mankind the remarkable spectacle of a people attacked by unprovoked enemies, without any imputation or even suspicion of offence. They boast of their privileges and civilization, and yet proffer no milder conditions than servitude or death.

In our own native land, in defence of the freedom that is our birth-right, and which we ever enjoyed till the late violation of it-for the protection of our property, acquired solely by the honest industry of our fore-fathers and ourselves, against violence actually offered, we have taken up arms. We shall lay them down when hostilities shall cease on the part of the aggressors, and all danger of their being renewed shall be removed, and not before.

With an humble confidence in the mercies of the supreme and impartial Judge and Ruler of the universe, we most devoutly implore his divine goodness to protect us happily through this great conflict, to dispose our adversaries to reconciliation on reasonable terms, and thereby to relieve the empire from the calamities of civil war.

By order of Congress,

Attested,

JOHN HANCOCK, President

CHARLES THOMPSON, Secretary







Royal Proclamation of Rebellion (August 23, 1775)

Whereas many of Our Subjects in divers Parts of Our Colonies and Plantations in North America, misled by dangerous and ill-designing Men, and . forgetting the Allegiance which they owe to the Power that has protected and sustained them, after various disorderly Acts committed in Disturbance of the Publick Peace, to the Obstruction of lawful Commerce, and to the Oppression of Our loyal Subjects carrying on the same have at length proceeded to an open and avowed Rebellion, by arraying themselves in hostile Manner to withstand the Execution of the Law, and traitorously preparing, ordering, and levying War against Us; And whereas there is Reason to apprehend that such Rebellion hath been much promoted and encouraged by the traitorous Correspondence, Counsels, and Comfort of divers wicked and desperate Persons within this Realm: To the End therefore that none of Our Subjects may neglect or violate their Duty through Ignorance thereof, or , through any Doubt of the Protection which the Law will afford to their Loyalty and Zeal; We have thought fit, by and with the Advice of Our Privy Council, to issue this Our Royal Proclamation, hereby declaring that not only all Our Officers Civil and Military are obliged to exert their utmost Endeavours to suppress such Rebellion, and to bring the Traitors to Justice; but that all Our Subjects of this Realm and the Dominions thereunto belonging are bound by Law to be aiding and assisting in the Suppression of such Rebellion, and to disclose and make known all traitorous Conspiracies and Attempts against Us, Our Crown and Dignity; And We do accordingly strictly charge and command all Our Officers as well Civil as Military, and all other Our obedient and loyal Subjects, to use their utmost Endeavours to withstand and suppress such Rebellion, and to disclose and make known all Treasons and traitorous Conspiracies which they shall know to be against Us, Our Crown and Dignity; and for that Purpose, that they transmit to One of Our Principal Secretaries of State, or other proper Officer, due and full Information of all Persons who shall be found carrying on Correspondence with, or in any Manner or Degree aiding or abetting the Persons now in open Arms and Rebellion against Our Government within any of Our Colonies and Plantations in North America, in order to bring to condign Punishment the Authors, Perpetrators, and Abettors of such traitorous Designs. . . .

[ * Reprinted from Clarence S. Brigham (ed.), British Royal Proclamations Relating to America, 1603-1783 (1911), pp. 224-229.]





King's Speech to Parliament October 26, 1775

"My Lords, and Gentlemen,

The present Situation of America, and My constant Desire to have your Advice, Concurrence, and Assistance, on every important Occasion, have determined Me to call you thus early together.

Those who have long too successfully laboured to inflame My People in America, by gross Misrepresentations, and to infuse into their Minds a System of Opinions repugnant to the true Constitution of the Colonies, and to their subordinate Relation to Great Britain, now openly avow their Revolt, Hostility, and Rebellion. They have raised Troops, and are collecting a Naval Force; they have seized the publick Revenue, and assumed to themselves Legislative, Executive, and Judicial Powers, which they already exercise in the most arbitrary Manner over the Persons and Properties of their Fellow Subjects. And although many of these unhappy People may still retain their Loyalty, and may be too wise not to see the fatal Consequence of this Usurpation, and wish to resist it, yet the Torrent of Violence has been strong enough to compel their Acquiescence till a sufficient Force shall appear to support them.

The Authors and Promoters of this desperate Conspiracy have, in the Conduct of it, derived great Advantage from the Difference of our Intentions and theirs. They meant only to amuse, by vague Expressions of Attachment to the Parent State, and the strongest Protestations of Loyalty to Me, whilst they were preparing for a general Revolt. On Our Part, though it was declared in your last Session that a Rebellion existed within the Province of the Massachusets Bay, yet even that Province We wished rather to reclaim than to subdue. The Resolutions of Parliament breathed a Spirit of Moderation and Forbearance: conciliatory Propositions accompanied the Measures taken to enforce Authority, and the coercive Acts were adapted to Cases of criminal Combinations amongst Subjects not then in Arms. I have acted with the same Temper, anxious to prevent, if it had been possible, the Effusion of the Blood of My Subjects, and the Calamities which are inseparable from a State of War; still hoping that My People in America would have discerned the traiterous Views of their Leaders, and have been convinced, that to be a Subject of Great Britain, with all its Consequences, is to be the freest Member of any Civil Society in the known World.

The rebellious War now levied is become more general, and is manifestly carried on for the Purpose of establishing an independent Empire. I need not dwell upon the fatal Effects of the Success of such a Plan. The Object is too important, the Spirit of the British Nation too high, the Resources with which God hath blessed her too numerous, to give up so many Colonies which she has planted with great Industry, nursed with great Tenderness, encouraged with many Commercial Advantages, and protected and defended at much Expence of Blood and Treasure.

It is now become the Part of Wisdom and (in its Effects) of Clemency, to put a speedy End to these Disorders by the most decisive Exertions. For this Purpose I have increased my Naval Establishment, and greatly augmented My Land Forces; but in such a Manner as may be the least burthensome to My Kingdoms.

I have also the Satisfaction to inform you, that I have received the most friendly Offers of Foreign Assistance; and if l shall make any Treaties in consequence thereof, they shall be laid before you. And I have, in Testimony of My Affection for My People, who can have no Cause in which I am not equally interested, sent to the Garrisons of Gibraltar and Port Mahon, a Part of My Electoral Troops, in order that a larger Number of the established Forces of this Kingdom may be applied to the Maintenance of its Authority; and the National Militia, planned and regulated with equal Regard to the Rights, Safety, and Protection of My Crown and People, may give a farther Extent and Activity to our Military Operations.

When the unhappy and deluded Multitude, against whom this Force will be directed shall become sensible of their Error, I shall be ready to receive the Misled with Tenderness and Mercy: And in order to prevent the Inconveniencies [sic] which may arise from the great Distance of their Situation, and to remove as soon as possible the Calamities which they suffer, I shall give Authority to certain Persons upon the Spot to grant general or particular Pardons and Indemnities, in such Manner, and to such Persons as they shall think fit; and to receive the Submission of any Province or Colony, which shall be disposed to return to its Allegiance. It may be also proper to authorize the Persons so commissioned to restore such Province or Colony so returning to its Allegiance, to the free Exercise of its Trade and Commerce, and to the same Protection and Security, as if such Province or Colony had never revolted. . . .



The American Prohibitory Act December 22, 1775

Whereas many persons in the colonies of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the three lower counties on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, have set themselves in open rebellion and defiance to the just and legal authority of the king and Parliament of Great Britain, to which they ever have been, and of right ought to be, subject; and have assembled together an armed force, engaged his Majesty's troops, and attacked his forts; have usurped the powers of government, and prohibited all trade and commerce with this kingdom an d the other parts of his Majesty's dominions; for the more speedily and effectually suppressing such Wicked and daring designs, and for preventing any aid, supply, or assistance being sent thither during the continuance of the said rebellious and treasonable commotions, be it therefore declared and enacted . . . that all manner of trade and commerce is and shall be prohibited with the colonies of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the three lower counties on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia; and that all ships and vessels of or belonging to the inhabitants of the said colonies, together with their cargoes, apparel, and furniture, and all other ships and vessels whatsoever, together with their cargoes, apparel, and furniture, which shall be found trading in any port or place of the said colonies, or going to trade, or coming from trading, in any such port or place, shall become forfeited to his Majesty, as if the same were the ships and effects of open enemies, and shall be so adjudged, deemed, and taken in all courts of admiralty, and in all other courts whatsoever.

111. And, for the encouragement of the officers and seamen of his Majesty's ships of war, be it further enacted, that the flag officers, captains commanders, and other commissioned officers in his Majesty's pay, and also the seamen, marines, and soldiers on board shall have the sole interest and property of and in all and every such ship, vessel, goods and merchandise. which they shall seize and take (being first adjudged lawful prize in any of His Majesty's courts of admiralty) to be divided in such proportions, and after such manner, as his Majesty shall think fit to order and direct by proclamation or proclamations hereafter to be issued for those purposes.


This Document was prepared by Peter King
Email: pking@ccs.carleton.ca
Last modification date: 25-12-96