« PreviousContinue »
The pilgrim spirit has not fled ;
It walks in noon's broad light;
With the holy stars, by night.
And shall guard this ice-bound shore,
Shall foam and freeze no more.
V.—THE CONDUCT OF GREAT BRITAIN TOWARDS AMERICA IN
1774. Extract from Patrick Henry's Speech in the Convention of the Dole
gates of Virginia, March, 1775, upon a resolution for organizing the Militia.
Mr. President, —I HAVE but one lamp by which my feet are guided; and that is the lamp of experience. I know of no way of judging of the future but by the past. And, judg. ing by the past, I wish to know what there has been in the conduct of the British ministry for the last ten years, to justify those hopes with which gentlemen have been pleased to solace themselves and the House? Is it that insidious smile with which our petition has been lately received ? Trust it not, sir; it will prove a snare to your feet. Suffer not yourselves to be betrayed with a kiss. Ask yourselves how this gracious reception of our petition comports with those warlike preparations which cover our waters and darken our land. Are fleets and armies necessary to a work of love and reconciliation ? Have we shown our. selves so unwilling to be reconciled, that force must be called in to win back our love ? Let us not deceive ourselves, sir. These are the implements of war and subjugationthe last arguments to which kings resort. I ask gentle. men, sir, what means this martial array, if its purpose be not to force us to submission? Can gentlemen assign any other possible motive for it? Has Great Britain any enemy, in this quarter of the world, to call for all this accumulation of navies and armies ? No, sir, she has none. They are meant for us ; they can be meant for no other. They are sent over to bind and rivet upon us those chains, which the British ministry have been so long forging. And what have we to oppose to them? Shall we try argument ? Sir, we have been trying that for the last ten years.. Have we any thing new to offer upon the subject ? Nothing. We have held the subject up in every light of which it is capa. ble ; but it has been all in vain. Shall we resort to en. treaty and humble supplication ? What terms shall we find which have not been already exhausted ? Let us not, I beseech you, sir, deceive ourselves longer. Sir, we have done every thing that could be done, to avert the storm which is now coming on. We have petitioned; we have remonstrated ; we have supplicated ; we have prostrated ourselves before the throne, and have implored its inter. position to arrest the tyrannical hands of the ministry and parliament. Our petitions have been slighted ; our remon. strances have produced additional violence and insult ; our supplications have been disregarded ; and we have been spurned, with contempt, from the foot of the throne ! In vain, after these things, may we indulge the fond hope of peace and reconciliation. There is no longer any room for hope. If we wish to be free—if we mean to preserve in. violate those inestimable privileges for which we have been so long contending-if we mean not basely to abandon the noble struggle in which we have been so long engaged, and which we have pledged ourselves never to abandon, until the glorious object of our contest shall be obtained—we must fight! I repeat it, sir, we must fight! An appeal to arms and to the God of Hosts is all that is left us !
VI.--THE RESISTANCE OF THE COLONIES ADVOCATED.
Extract from the same Speech.
Mr. President, -The gentlemen who are opposed to our resisting with arms the aggressions of Great Britain, tell us, sir, that we are weak ; unable to cope with so formidable an adversary. But, sir, when' shall we be stronger? Will.it be the next week, or the next year? Will it be when we are totally disarmed, and when a British guard shall be stationed in every house? Shall we gather strength by ir. resolution and inaction ? 'Shall we acquire the means of effectual resistance by lying supinely on our backs, and hugging the delusive phantom of hope, until our enemies shall have bound us hand and foot ? Sir, we are not weak, if we make a proper use of those means which the God of nature hath placed in our power.
Three millions of peo. ple, armed in the holy cause of liberty and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, sir, is not to the strong alone ; it is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat, but in submission and slavery ! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston ! The war is inevitable--and let it come! I repeat it, sir, let it come! It is in vain, sir, to extenuate the matter.
Gentlemen may cry, peace, peace—but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale, that sweeps from the north, will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field ! Why stand we here idle ? What is it that gentlemen wish ? What would they have ? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery ? Forbid it, Heaven! I know not what course others may take'; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death !
-WARREN'S ADDRESS TO THE AMERICAN SOLDIERS,
BEFORE THE BATTLE OF BUNKER'S HILL.
STAND!, the ground's your own, my braves !
Hope ye mercy still?
Extract from Mr. Burke's Speech, on a Resolution introduced into the
House of Commons, 19th of April, 1774, to repeal the duty on the Importation of Teaf into America.
Mr. Speaker,—LET us embrace some system or other be. fore we end this session.' Do you mean to tax America, and
• It is well known that the British soldiers set fire to Charlestown, which is within sight of Bunker's Hill, just before the battle.
+ On the 17th of June, 1825, half a century from the day of the battle, the corner stone of a granite monument was laid on the ground where Warren fell.
# The history of British Taxation, the cause of our Revolution, mura be known to every American youth, and no account need be given of it here,
to draw a productive revenue from thence? If you do, speak out: name, fix, ascertain this revenue ; settle its quantity ; define its objects; provide for its collection; and then fight when you have something to fight for. If you murder-rob! If you kill, take possession : and do not appear in the character of madmen, as well as assassins, violent, vindictive, bloody and tyrannical, without an object. But may better counsels guide you !
Again, and again, revert to your old principles-seek peace, and ensue it. Leave America, if she has taxable matter in her, to tax herself. I am not here going into the distinctions of rights, nor attempting to mark their boundaries. I do not enter into these metaphysical distinctions.
I hate the very sound of them. . Leave the Americans as they anciently stood, and these distinctions, born of our unhappy contest, will die along with it. They and we, and their and our ancestors, have been happy under that system. Let the memory of all actions, in contradiction to that good old mode, on both sides, be extinguished for ever. Be content to bind America by laws of trade ; you have always done it. Let this be your reason for binding their trade. Do not burthen them by taxes ; you were not used to do so from the beginning. Let this be your reason for not taxing. These are the arguments of states and kingdoms. Leave the rest to the schools; for there only they may be discussed with safety. But if, intemperately, unwisely, fatally, you sophisticate and poison the very source of government, by urging subtle de. ductions, and consequences odious to those you govern, from the unlimited and illimitable nature of supreme sovereignty, you will teach them by these means to call that sovereignty itself in question. When you drive him hard, the boar will surely turn upon the hunters. If that sovereignty and their freedom cannot be reconciled, which will they take? They will cast your sovereignty in your face. Nobody will be ar. gued into slavery. Sir, let the gentlemen on the other side call forth all their ability ; let the best of them get up, and tell me, what one character of liberty the Americans have, and what one brand of slavery they are free from, if they are bound in their property and industry, by all the restraints you can imagine on commerce, and at the same time are mude pack.horses of every tax you choose to impose, without the