An Address delivered at the request of a committee of the citizens of Washington: on the occasion of reading the Declaration of Independence, on the Fourth of July, 1821
Continued from the previous post:
Fellow-Citizens, it was in the heat of this war of moral elements, which brought one Stuart to the block, and hurled another from his throne, that our forefathers sought refuge from its fury, in the then wilderness of this Western World.
They were willing exiles from a country dearer to them than life. But they were the exiles of liberty and of conscience, dearer to them even than their country. They came too with Charters from their kings : for even in removing to another hemisphere, they cast “longing, lingering, looks behind,” and were anxiously desirous of retaining ties of connexion with their country, which, in the solemn compact of a charter, they hoped by the corresponding links of allegiance and protection to preserve.
But to their sense of right, the charter was only the ligament between them, their country, and their king. Transported to a new world, they had relations with one another, and relations with the aboriginal inhabitants of the country to which they came, for which no royal charter could provide. The tirst settlers of the Plymouth colony, at the eve of landing from their ship, therefore, bound themselves together by a written covenant ; and, immediately after landing, purchased from the Indian natives the right of settlement upon the soil.
This was a social compact formed upon the elementary principles of civil society, in which conquest and servitude had no part. The slough of brutal force was entirely cast off: all was voluntary ; all was unbiassed consent ; all was the agreement of soul with soul.
Other colonies were successively founded, and other charters granted, until, in the compass of a century and a half, thirteen distinct British Provinces peopled the Atlantic shores of the North American continent with two millions of freemen ; possessing by their charters the rights of British Subjects, and nurtured by their position and education, in the more comprehensive and original doctrines of human rights. From their infancy they had been treated by the parent state with neglect, harshness, and injustice. Their charters had often been disregarded and violated ; their commerce restricted and shackled; their interests wantonly or spitefully sacrificed; so that the hand of the parent had been scarcely ever felt, but in the alternate application of whips and scorpions.
When in spite of all these persecutions, by the natural vigor of their constitution, they were just attaining the maturity of political manhood, a British Parliament, in contempt of the clearest maxims of natural equity, in defiance of the fundamental principle upon which British freedom itself had been cemented with British blood : on the naked unblushing allegation of absolute and uncontrollable power, undertook by their act, to levy, without representation and without consent, taxes upon the people of America, for the benefit of the people of Britain. This enormous project of public robbery was no sooner made known, than it excited throughout the colonies one general burst of indignant resistance. It was abandoned, reasserted and resumed, until fleets and armies were transported, to record in the characters of fire, famine, and desolation, the transatlantic wisdom of British legislation, and the tender mercies of British consanguinity.