Declaring Independence

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Declaring Independence

Sources in American History

Professor Zachary M. Schrag

United States History

History 120, section 1

George Mason University

Spring 2006

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Thomas Bradbury Chandler, “The Friendly Address to All Reasonable Americans,” 1774 1

The Declaration of Independence, 1776 4

The Articles of Confederation, 1777 7

The Constitution of the United States, 1787 14

The Bill of Rights (Amendments I-X), 1791 24

Alexander Hamilton, Report on Manufactures, 1791 26

The Working Shoemakers of Philadelphia, “Address to the Public,” 1805 28

Catharine Esther Beecher. A Treatise on Domestic Economy: For the Use of Young Ladies at Home and at School, 1849. 30

Harriot K. Hunt, “Protest against Taxation without Representation,” 1852 34

Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1781-1782 35

John C. Calhoun, “Speech on the Oregon Bill,” June 27, 1848 38

Frederick Douglass, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” 1852 40

The Civil War Amendments (Amendments XIII-XV), 1865-1870 43

Richard T. Ely, “A Declaration by the Representatives of the Wage-Workers of the United States in Congress Assembled,” July 4, 1886 45

Henry Ward Beecher, “Communism Denounced,” 1877 47

William Graham Sumner, “The Concentration of Wealth: Its Economic Justification,” 1902 49

National People’s Party Platform (The Omaha Platform), 1892 51

Lyndon B. Johnson, “The Great Society” 55

Ronald Reagan, “A Time for Choosing,” 1964 59

Lyndon B. Johnson, “To Fulfill These Rights,” 1965 67

Thomas Bradbury Chandler, “The Friendly Address to All Reasonable Americans,” 1774

Archive of Americana, Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans, 1639-1800

Friends, Countrymen, and Fellow-Subjects!

The Frame of the English government, for the admirable wisdom of its structure, has always been the wonder of the world; and under its protection and mild influence, the subjects of Great-Britain are the happiest people on earth. But of all the subjects of Great-Britain, those who reside on the American Colonies have been, and were they sensible of their own advantages, might still be, by far the happiest: surrounded with the blessings of peace, health, and never-failing plenty—enjoying the benefits of an equitable and free constitution—secured by the protection and patronage of the greatest maritime power in the world—and contributing, in but a small proportion, to the support of the necessary public expences. Under these advantages, the colonies have hirtherto flourished beyond example. They have become populous, both by natural increase, and the yearly influx of foreigners, the sure indications of a happy country; and they have become rich, by practicing, at their ease, the peaceful arts of agriculture and commerce. And were they to pursue the same path which has brought them thus far, there is no doubt but they would go on to flourish and prosper in the same proportion, till, in process of time, they would excite either the admiration or envy of the whole human race.

But a far different prospect, at this time, presents itself to view. The darkness of a rising tempest is beginning to overspread our land. The thunder roars at a distance, and appears to be swiftly approaching. It is high time therefore to awaken the thoughtless to a sense of their danger, and to think of providing for our common safety.

There is, there can be, but one way to prevent the ruin that threatens us. Our own misconduct has brought it forward; and our immediate reformation must stop its progress. He must be blind, that is not convinced of this; and he must be infatuated, that will pursue the road, which evidently terminates in darkness and destruction.

Whether the British Parliament has been right or wrong in its late Proceedings, towards the Colonies; our own behaviour has been such as every government must and will think intolerable. If the supreme power of any kingdom or state, through want of due information or attention, should adopt measures that are wrong or oppressive, the subjects may complain and remonstrate against them in a respectful manner; but they are bound, by the laws of Heaven and Earth, not to behave undutifully, much more not to behave insolently and rebelliously. The bands of society would be dissolved, the harmony of the world confounded, and the order of nature subverted, if reverence, respect, and obedience, might be refused to those whom the constitution has vested with the highest authority. The ill consequences of open disrespect to government are so great, that no misconduct of the administration can justify or execute it. . . .

Were the Americans actually in a state of oppression, it would shew their wisdom and prudence, to submit with patience to the present condition, rather than to provoke the power that oppresses them, without some fair prospect of obtaining relief. One degree of distress, in consequence of the weight of illegal power, is a grievance; ten degrees of distress are proportionably a greater evil; but bad as it is, he must be an idiot or a madman, who would not prefer them to twenty.

But we are so far from being in a state of oppression, that the proper dispute subsiting between Great-Britain and any of her colonies, excepting that of the Massachusetts Bay, is only, de Lana Caprina, about an act imposing a duty of three pence a pound upon tea. This is the only ground we have for complaining of the administration; and yet this has occasioned, throughout our colonies, such an indecent and violent opposition to government as is truly astonishing. Can such behaviour, on so slight a provocation, proceed from dutiful and loyal subjects? No; it is impossible. Whatever we may think, or say, of ourselves; if we had any true principles of loyalty, or any tolerable sense of the duty that is due to the supreme legislative power, under which the providence of God, and our own consent, have placed us, no trifling considerations could prevail with us to behave towards it in so petulant and disrespectful a manner. But there is too much reason to believe, that our minds are unprincipled, and our hearts disposed for rebellion. Ever since the reduction of Canada, we have been bloated with a vain opinion of our power and importance. Our ease has produced pride and wantonness. We have been intoxicated with such draughts of liberty, as our constitutions would not bear; and under this intoxication, we have conceived that all the privileges indulged us were the effects of fear. . . .

There is no room to doubt but such an army as was employed in the reduction of Canada, would be more than sufficient for the conquest of all the disaffected American colonies, should such a resolution become necessary, in order to reduce them to obedience. For they are open and accessible on every quarter, and have not a single fortress to cover them, nor one regiment of regular troops to defend them; and they are without military stores, without magazines, and without the skill that is necessary for supporting an army. Under such circumstances what would the boasted numbers of our inhabitants avail us against an attack from Great-Britain? If an army was sent in upon us, which a body of forty thousand of our militia was unable to withstand (for it is impossible that a greater number of undisciplined men could act to advantage) it would be able to carry desolation through the whole country; and all the men in the colonies, were they firmly united, would not be able to oppose it. But yet, if the army here supposed, should be found unequal to the design of reducing the colonies, Great Britain could send of her own troops a second, of equal strength to the assistance of the first; the these she could add a third of Hessians, a fourth of Hanoverians, and so on till the work were completed. She could easily take possession of all our sea-coasts where our wealth is principally seated, and force us to fly into the back parts of the country for immediate safety. There an army of Canadians might be ordered to meet us, and unnumbered tribes of savages might be let loose upon us at the same time, while our lands would lie uncultivated, our stores exhausted, our families unsheltered, and those that happened to escape the sword, glittering and flaming both in the front and rear of our settlements, would soon perish by sickness or famine. . . .

When [the Americans] come to find that on their side there can be no prospect of victory, but that every day must deepen their distress and render their condition worse and worse; their natural understandings will return to them, and irresistibly plead the necessity of a submission as soon as possible. In that end happy would it be for them, if they could be considered only as conquered enemies; but alas! they must be viewed in the light of vanquished rebels, and treated accordingly. Their leaders must be given up into the executioner’s hands; confiscations of their estates forfeited by rebellion, must follow, and all must be left at the mercy of their vanquishers. When one people is conquered by another in war, private property is restored to its former possessors; but when rebellions are crushed, the most to be expected is, that the lives of those that belong to the lower classes will be spared.

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