Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. VIII.: Of the Benefits received by the British Nation, from the Sacrifice made of the Property of the Loyalists. - The Claim of the American Loyalists
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CHAP. VIII.: Of the Benefits received by the British Nation, from the Sacrifice made of the Property of the Loyalists. - Joseph Galloway, The Claim of the American Loyalists 
The Claim of the American Loyalists reviewed and maintained upon incontrovertible Principles of Law and Justice (London: G. and T. Wilkie, 1788).
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Of the Benefits received by the British Nation, from the Sacrifice made of the Property of the Loyalists.
IT will not be denied, that the property of the Loyalists has been given up by the sovereign authority, as the necessary price and purchase of peace for the whole society. The Minister who made the treaty, unequivocally declared it. It was so understood at the time by all the Members of both Houses of Parliament, when they confirmed the peace. Indeed the fact speaks for itself; because unless that authority conceived that the affairs of the nation were in such extremity as to make such a sacrifice necessary, it could have no right to give up their property, as is before proved, but was obliged to protect it by carrying on the war, until it was regained and restored to them.
Should we attempt to describe the benefits purchased for the nation by this sacrifice, the extent of them is so great and diffusive, it could not be done. However, to have before us a summary view of them, we will only observe, that the ravages of war were stopped in the most violent stage of their progress; and peace and security, with all the invaluable blessings attending them, were restored to every person in the British dominions, except the American Loyalists. The farmer was restored to the unmolested tillage of his ground, and to the peaceful enjoyment of more extensive profits, “under his own vine, and his own fig-tree;” the manufacturer, to a greater vent and greater profits for his commodities, every market being laid open to him; and the vessel of the merchant traverses the ocean at less risk and expence, and consequently to much greater advantage. To these benefits, which are more readily conceived than expressed, we must add the immense national savings. Had the war continued one year more, twenty millions at least, according to the confession of the Minister who made the peace, must have been raised and added to the national debt; and, in all probability, thousands of Britons would have been lost in battle. Had it been extended to two or three years, treble that sum, or sixty millions, would have been incurred; and no man can say, what might have been, in the then deranged state of our public affairs, the loss the nation might have sustained in its territorial possessions. From these burthens, losses, and dangers, great as they were, the nation has been happily relieved, by giving up the property of a few of its subjects. And as it is now certain the debt due to the Loyalists will be much less than one fifth of the expence of one year’s campaign, which was the supposition of the Minister who negociated the peace, it is evident that an immense gain thereby accrued to the nation; but when the other savings and benefits are thrown into the scale, the profits are so great that they admit of no calculation, and the consideration to be paid for them sinks below comparison.
There are certain duties so strongly enforced by moral obligation, that nothing will justify a violation of them but inability or impossibility to perform them; such as, the payment of a debt justly contracted; the fulfilling a promise made for a reasonable and just consideration; the making satisfaction for injuries sustained through a violation of a just covenant or engagement, or a just recompense for benefits received at the expence of others; and adequate compensation for damages or injuries done* . These are moral axioms, which carry with them no less evidence than mathematical demonstrations. In all these cases, the moral obligation has been esteemed so great, that the legislatures of States have subjected the property to seizure, the person to perpetual imprisonment, and, in some instances, obliged the debtor to give up his freedom and the produce of his labour, until the duty is fully discharged. The debt due from the nation is certainly of this kind. The human mind can conceive no duty where the moral obligation to discharge it, is more solemnly enjoined by the laws of God and man. It is a debt due from the whole people of Great Britain, not only arising from the most important services done, but from a two-fold violation of their public faith and engagements. The property of the Loyalists has been lost, through a breach of the sacred engagement entered into by the sovereign authority, and confirmed by the essential laws of the State, to protect them; and, as the nation is represented in, and acts by, that authority, of course, through a breach of that engagement by the whole nation. It has moreover been given up as the price of peace* , and as a sacrifice to the necessities, security, and happiness of those who were sacredly bound to protect and preserve it. Besides, the advantages and interests derived from the breach of the national and sovereign faith, to those who have committed it, infinitely surpass in value the sum necessary to make a due reparation, and this reparation is expressly enjoined by the original and immutable laws of the British constitution. It is therefore a debt of the highest and most inviolable nature, from which Parliament can never honourably and justly discharge itself, but by making adequate compensation; nor can the moral obligation to do it be by any means suspended, for a moment, but by national inability and insolvency.
To use many arguments to prove that the nation is not insolvent, but able to discharge all its debts with honour, is unnecessary, since greater demonstrations of wealth than are to be found in any country in Europe, appear wherever we cast our eyes. To which it cannot be necessary to add any other proof than that declaration penned by the first Minister of Great Britain (whose peculiar duty it is to understand the national resources), and delivered by the mouth of Majesty itself, “That our commerce and revenue are in a flourishing state.”
We will therefore leave the chimerical idea of national insolvency, there being nothing more absurd and contrary to truth; and proceed to shew with what ease the demand of the Loyalists may be satisfied. We will take for granted, what will not be denied, that there are eight millions of persons in Great Britain who contribute towards the national expences; and suppose, that the debt due to the Loyalists should amount even to the sum suggested by the Minister who negociated the peace, which will not be the case; it would require to pay it in five years, only one shilling and sixpence each person per annum; and, to fund and place it upon a par with that of the national creditors, it will require less than four pence per annum each person; which would amount, on the whole, to a sum considerably less, as experience has shewn, than can be easily raised by voluntary contributions to an annual lottery.
Here we find, when this debt to the Loyalists shall be fairly distributed among those who enjoy the benefits arising from it, as both reason and law direct, it will be scarcely felt. And when it is further considered that it may be paid, in a mode yet more easy to the nation at large, and without adding in the least to its present burthens, by the voluntary contributions of thousands who are ready to make them, no reason can be assigned why it has not been done long since.
Under these circumstances, it is impossible for us to suppose, there is a man in Great Britain, who, understanding the nature and import of the debt due to the Loyalists, the benefits he has long enjoyed in consequence of it, the facility with which it may be paid, and the high obligation he is under to discharge it, will not cheerfully contribute his proportion towards it. Is there one honest and liberal mind which can enjoy benefits obtained by the sacrifice of the lives and fortunes of his innocent and faithful fellow-subjects, without making a just recompense? Is there one man of the least degree of sympathy and humanity, who can see his brethren, equally entitled with himself to the protection of the State, made the victims to their peace and happiness, without contributing his quota to rescue them from the oppression? If there are persons so lost to all sense of reason, justice, and humanity, let them consider, that the case of the Loyalists may soon be their own. Rebellions and war may and will happen; their property may be taken, destroyed, or given up to the public necessities without their consent; and they, like the Loyalists, with their helpless families, may be reduced from affluent fortunes to poverty and want, while others enjoy the benefits arising from the oppression and injustice done to them. Indeed the sacrifice of private property to the public benefit is a common case. It has occurred as often as a rebellion or war has happened in Great Britain. Should a precedent in the case of the Loyalists be established by the highest authority, for refusing the protection and indemnity due to the subject, where will they find, in their case, relief from the oppression?
It may also not be improper for Parliament to consider, that foreign nations will not fail to exult at finding so great a want of public justice in the British government, the strongest of all possible proofs of a decline in the wisdom and power of States; and that the subject at home will clearly perceive, he cannot in future rely on any protection or indemnity for the sacrifice, which may at any time be made, of his property for the public benefit, nor for the losses he may sustain by his fidelity to the Crown, and zealous exertions in defence of the State. Will he not reflect, that a state of neutrality will be his only security, and that he can be under no obligation to do more?
[* ]“No human establishment, no connection into which mankind can enter, can supersede the obligation of that general and inviolable law of nature, that the damage we have done to another should be repaired, except the sufferers have manifestly renounced their right to reparation.” Burlamaqui, part iii. c. 5. s. 14.
[* ]See the Appendix.