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second draft - Thomas Jefferson, The Works, vol. 2 (1771-1779) 
The Works of Thomas Jefferson, Federal Edition (New York and London, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904-5). Vol. 2.
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A Declaration of by
We the representatives of the United colonies of America now sitting in General Congress, to all nations send greeting of setting forth the causes & necessity of their taking up arms.
The large strides of late taken by the legislature of Great Britain towards establishing over these colonies their absolute rule, and the hardiness of the present attempt to effect by force of arms what by law or right they could never effect, render it necessary for us also to change the ground of opposition, and to close with their last appeal from reason to arms. And it behooves those, who are called to this great decision, to be assured that their cause is approved before supreme reason; so is it of great avail that its justice be made known to the world, whose affections will ever take part with those encountering oppression. Our forefathers, inhabitants of the island of Great Britain, having long endeavored to bear up against the evils of misrule, left their native lands to seek on these shores a residence for civil & religious freedom. At the expense of their blood, with to the ruin of their fortunes, with the relinquishment of everything quiet & comfortable in life, they effected settlements in the inhospitable wilds of America; they and there established civil societies with various forms of constitution. But possessing all, what is inherent in all, the full and perfect powers of legislation. To continue their connection with the friends whom they had left, they arranged themselves by charters of compact under one the same common king, who thus completed their powers of full and perfect legislation and became the link of union between the several parts of the empire. Some occasional assumptions of power by the parliament of Great Britain, however unacknowledged by the constitution of our governments, were finally acquiesced in thro’ warmth of affection. Proceeding thus in the fullness of mutual harmony and confidence, both parts of the empire increased in population & wealth with a rapidity unknown in the history of man. The political institutions of America, its various soils and climates opened a certain resource to the unfortunate & to the enterprising of every country, and ensured to them the acquisition & free possession of property. Great Britain too acquired a lustre and a weight among the powers of the earth which her internal resources could never have given her. To a communication of the wealth and power of the whole every part of the empire we may surely ascribe in some measure the illustrious character she sustained through her last European war, & its successful event. At the close of that war however having subdued all her foes1 it pleased our sovereign to make a change in his counsels. The new ministry finding all the foes of Britain subdued she took up the unfortunate idea of subduing her friends also. By them2 & her parliament then for the first time asserted a right3 assumed a power of unbounded legislation over the colonies of America; and in the space course of ten years during which they have proceeded to exercise this right, have given such decisive specimens of the spirit of this new legislation, as leaves no room to doubt the consequence of acquiescence under it. By several acts of parliament passed within that space of time they have attempted to take from us undertaken to give and grant our money without our consent: a right of which we have ever had the exclusive exercise: they have interdicted all commerce to one of our principal towns, thereby annihilating its property in the hands of the holders; they have cut off the commercial intercourse of whole colonies with foreign countries; they have extended the jurisdiction of courts of admiralty beyond their antient limits; thereby they have depriving deprived us of the inestimable right privilege of trial by a jury of the vicinage in cases affecting both life & property; they have declared that American Subjects charged with certain offenses shall be transported beyond sea to be tried before the very persons against whose pretended sovereignty the offense is supposed to be committed; they have attempted fundamentally to alter the form of government in one of these colonies, a form established secured by charters on the part of the crown and confirmed by acts of its own legislature; and further secured by charters on the part of the crown; they have erected in a neighboring province acquired by the joint arms of Great Britain & America, a tyranny dangerous to the very existence of all these colonies. But why should we enumerate their injuries in the detail? By one act they have suspended the powers of one American legislature, & by another have declared they may legislate for us themselves in all cases whatsoever. These two acts alone form a basis broad enough whereon to erect a despotism of unlimited extent. And what is to secure us against this dreaded evil? The persons assuming these powers are not chosen by us, are not subject to our controul or influence, are exempted by their situation from the operation of these laws, and lighten their own burthens in proportion as they increase ours. These temptations might put to trial the severest characters of antient virtue: with what new armour then shall a British parliament encounter the rude assault? towards these deadly injuries from the tender plant of liberty which we have brought over, & with so much affection fostered on these our own shores, we have pursued every temperate, every respectful measure. We have supplicated our king at various times, in terms almost disgraceful to freedom; we have reasoned, we have remonstrated with parliament in the most mild & decent language; we have even proceeded to break off our commercial intercourse with our fellow subjects, as the last peaceful admonition that our attachment to no nation on earth should supplant our attachment to liberty. And here we had well hoped was the ultimate step of the controversy. But subsequent events have shewn how vain was even this last remain of confidence in the moderation of the British ministry.1 During the course of the last year their troops in a hostile manner invested the town of Boston in the province of Massachusetts bay, and from that time have held the same beleaguered by sea & land. On the 19th day of April in the present year they made an unprovoked attack assault on the inhabitants of the said province at the town of Lexington, murdered eight of them on the spot and wounded many others. From thence they proceeded in the all the array of war to the town of Concord, where they set upon another party of the inhabitants of the same province, killing many of them also, burning houses, & laying waste property, until repressed by the arms1 the people2 suddenly assembled to oppose this cruel aggression. Hostilities thus commenced on the part of the ministerial army have been since by them pursued without regard to faith or to fame. The inhabitants of the town of Boston in order to procure their enlargement having entered into treaty with a certain Thomas Gage General Gage their Governor principal instigator of these enormities3 it was stipulated that the said inhabitants,4 having first deposited their arms with their own magistrates their arms & military stores should have liberty to depart from out of the said town taking with them their other goods & effects. Their arms and military stores they accordingly delivered in, and claimed the stipulated license of departing with their effects. But in open violation of plighted faith & honour, in defiance of the sacred obligations of treaty which even savage nations observe, their arms and warlike stores, deposited with their own magistrates to be preserved as their property, were immediately seized by a body of armed men under orders from the said Thomas Gage General, the greater part of the inhabitants were detained in the town, and the few permitted to depart were compelled to leave their most valuable effects behind. We leave the world to their own its own reflections on this atrocious perfidy. That we might no longer doubt the ultimate aim of these ministerial maneuvers the same Thomas General Gage, by proclamation bearing date the 12th day of June, after reciting the grossest falsehoods and calumnies against the good people of these colonies, proceeds to declare them all, either by name or description, to be rebels & traitors, to supersede by his own authority the exercise of the common law of the said province, and to proclaim and order instead thereof the use and exercise of the law martial. This bloody edict issued, he has proceeded to commit further ravages & murders in the same province, burning the town of Charlestown, attacking & killing great numbers of the people residing or assembled therein; and is now going on in an avowed course of murder & devastation, taking every occasion to destroy the lives & properties of the inhabitants of the said province. To oppose his arms we also have taken up arms. We should be wanting to ourselves, we should be perfidious to posterity, we should be unworthy that free ancestry from whom which we derive our descent, should we submit with folded arms to military butchery & depredation, to gratify the lordly ambition, or sate the avarice of a British ministry. We do then most solemnly, before God and the world declare that, regardless of every consequence, at the risk of every distress, the arms we have been compelled to assume we will wage use with the perseverance, exerting to their utmost energies all those powers which our creator hath given us, to guard preserve that liberty which he committed to us in sacred deposit & to protect from every hostile hand our1 lives & our properties. But that this our declaration may not disquiet the minds of our good fellow subjects2 in any parts of the empire, we do further assure them that we mean not in any wise to affect that union with them in which we have so long & so happily lived and which we wish so much to see again restored. That necessity must be hard indeed which may force upon us that desperate measure, or induce us to avail ourselves of any aid which their enemies might proffer. We did not embody a soldiery to commit aggression on them; we did not raise armies for glory or for conquest; we did not invade their island carrying death or slavery to its inhabitants. We took up arms in defence of our persons and properties under actual violation, we took up arms we have taken up arms when that violence shall be removed, when hostilities shall cease on the part of the aggressors, hostilities shall cease on our part also. The moment they withdraw their armies, we will disband ours. For the atchievement of this happy event, we call for & confide in the good offices of our fellow subjects beyond the Atlantic. Of their friendly dispositions we do not cease to hope; aware, as they must be, that they have nothing more to expect from the same common enemy, than the humble favour of being last devoured. And we devoutly implore assistance of Almighty God to conduct us happily thro’ this great conflict, to dispose the minds of his majesty, his ministers, & parliament to reasonable terms reconciliation with us on reasonable terms, & to deliver us from the evils of a civil war.
? If it might not be proper to take notice of Ld. Chatham’s Plan and its being [[Editor: illegible word mentioning his great abilities.]]
? If it might not be proper to take notice how many great Men in Parlt. and how many considerable Cities and Towns in England, have acknowledged the Justice of our Cause.
? Ld. North’s Proposals.1
draft of report on lord north’s motion2
[July 25, 1775.]
The Congress proceeding to take into their consideration a resolution of the House of Commons of Gr Br referred to them by the several assemblies of New Jersey, Pnnsylva & Virga, which resoln is in these words “that it is the opinion &c” are of Opinion
That the colonies of America possess an the exclusive right privilege of giving & granting their own money; that this involves the right of deliberating whether they will give any sums make any gift, for what purposes they will give them it shall be made, and what shall be it’s the amount of the gift, and that it is a high breach of this privilege for any body of men, extraneous to their constitutions, to prescribe the purposes for which money shall be levied on them, & to take to themselves the authority of judging what shall be a sufficient levy of their conditions circumstances, & and situation, & of determining the sufficiency or insufficiency of any the levy proposed amount of the contribution to be levied.
That as they possess a right of appropriating their gifts, so are they entitled at all times to inquire into its their application; to see that it they be not distributed wasted among the venal & corrupt to sap for the purpose of sapping undermining their the civil rights of the givers, of overbearing them by with military force power by diverting them nor yet applied be diverted to the support of standing armies for the purpose of overbearing these states by military inconsistent with domestic quiet their freedom & subversive of their our quiet. To propose therefore as this resolution does that the monies given by the colonies shall be subject to the disposal of parliament alone, is to propose that they shall surrender give relinquish this right of enquiry; and to put it in the power of others to render their gifts ruinous in proportion as they are liberal.
That this privilege of giving or withholding our monies is an important barrier against in the undue exertion of prerogative, which if left altogether without controul might may be exercised to our great oppression; & that is also & all history shows it how efficacious its intercession for redress of grievances & reestablishment of rights and how improvident would be the surrender of so powerful a mediator.
We are further of opinion
That the proposition contained in this resolution is uncandid unequal unreasonable & insidious: uncandid unequal unreasonable because if we declare we accede to it we declare in absolute terms without reservation we will purchase the favour of parliament not without knowg not at the same time & leave the price of that purchase to be fixed by the sellers alone, at what price they will please to estimate their favour; it is insidious because a colony on refusal of any a proffered sum any individual colonies having bid & bidden again till it they finds the height of parliamentary avidity of the seller unattainable by all its their powers, are then to return into opposition single & unsupported divided from its their sister colonies having in the meantime been taken whom the minister shall will have previously imparted fully detached from the Union by acceptance a grant of easier terms, or deluded into inactivity by keeping up into a definite answer and by delayg of the definitive answer or by an artful procrastination of a definitive answer.
That the suspension of the exercise of their pretended power to tax levy taxes of taxation being expressly made commensurate with the duration continuing of our gifts, in order these must be perpetual to make that so: and experience has invariably proven that to render a governing power perpetually independent it is not the best method of preserving the friendship & good offices of any part of government to render it independent by vesting it with perpetual revenues and whereas no experience has shewn that a gift of perpetual revenues secures a perpetual return of duty or of good kind dispositions. On the contrary the parliament itself with a wisdom we mean worthy to imitation cautiously wisely attentive to this circumstance observation are in the established practice of granting their own money but from year to year only.
We are of the opinion that even fair terms could hardly be accepted by us
Tho’ desirous & determined to consider in the most dispassionate light view every advance towards reconciliation made by the British parlmt. let our brethren of Britain reflect what could have been the sacrifice to men of free spirits had [il legible] even fair terms been proffered by freemen when attended as these were with the most irritating circumstances of insult & defiance with circumstances so insultive circumstances. A proposition to give our money, when accompanied with large fleets & armies. Addressed to our fears rather than to our freedom. Let Britons our brethren of Britain reflect with what patience they would they have received articles of treaty from any power on earth when sent by such messengers plenipotentiaries borne by on the point of the bayonet by the hands of military plenipotentiaries? on the point of a bayonet.
We think that the attempt alike unreasonable & unnecessary & unwarrantable to raise upon us by force or by threats our proportional contributions to the common defense, when all know, and themselves acknowledged we have ever freely & fully given those contributionsed whenever called upon to contribute in the character freemen should be is one among a plain proof, among many others that not the obtaining these but the rendering to their absolute dominion was not the ultimate end of Parliamentary object of parliament.
We are of opinion it is not just yt the colonies should make any be required to oblige themselves stipulate to other contributions while Great Britain possesses a monopoly of their trade. This is of does of itself lay them under a heavy contribution levied on them. To demand therefore another an additional contribution by way in the form of a tax is to demand the double of their equal proportion. We conceive no reason If we are to contribute proportionally equally with the other parts of the empire, let us equally with them enjoy like them equal rights of free commerce with the whole world. But while the restrictions on our trade shut up to us the resources of wealth we cannot bear it is it unjust we should be expected to bear all other burthens equally with those to whom under no restriction have every resource is open?
We conceive that the Brit. parl. has no right to intermeddle with our provisions for the support of civil governmt or administration of justice. That the provisions has been made in such manner as to we have already we have made are such as please ourselves, they answer the substantial purposes governmt & of justice, & other purposes than these should not be answered. We do not mean to burthen that our people shall be burthened with heavy & oppressive taxes to provide sinecures for the drones of creation ministerial partisans the idle or wicked under color of providing for a civil list. But while parliament pursue their unmolested their plan of civil govnt within their own jurisdiction we hope also to pursue ours also without molestation.
We are of opinion the proposition is altogether unsatisfactory, because the parliament it imports only a suspension, not a renunciation of the right to tax us; because too it is does not proposed to repeal the several acts of parl, passed for the purposes of restraining the trade and altering the form of government of the Eastern colonies; extending the boundaries, & changing the government & religion of Quebec; enlarging the jurisdiction of the courts of admiralty & vice admiralty; taking from us the rights of trial by jury of the vicinage in cases affecting both life and property; exempting the murderers of colonists from legal trial transporting us into other countries to be tried for criminal offenses; exempting by mock-trial the murderers of colonists from punishment; and for quartering soldiers upon us in times of profound peace. Nor do they renounce the power of suspending our own legislatures & of legislating for us themselves in all cases whatsoever. So far indeed from repealing the injurious acts of parl. before mentioned they pass others at the same time equally injurious On the contrary to show they mean not to dis continue discontinuance of injuries injury at the very time of making this proposition they are passing acts at the very time of making holding out this proposition, for restraining the commerce & fisheries of the province of New England & for interdicting in general the trade of the other colonies with all foreign nations. This proof is proves unequivocally of what we may expect in the future they mean not discontinuance of to relinquish this usurpation the exercise of indiscriminate legislation over us.
Upon the whole
This proposition seems to have been held up to the world to deceive them it into a belief that the colonies are unreasonable there was no matter &c.1but and more particularly to lull into fatal security our well affected fellow subjects on that other side the water into a fatal security till time should be given for the operation of those arms which a British minister pronounced would instantaneously reduce the “cowardly” sons of America to unreserved submission. But when the world reflects how inadequate to justice are the vaunted terms offered, when it attends to the rapid & bold succession of injuries which for the space during a course of 11. years have been aimed at these colonies by a wicked administration, when it reviews the pacific & respectful applications complaints expostulations which during that whole time have been made the sole arms we oppose to their usurpations, them, when it considers observes that our complaints were either not heard at all, or were answered with new & accumulated injuries, when it considers recollects that the minister himself declared from the beginning on an former early occasion he would never cease [blank space in copy]2 till America was at his feet, & that an avowed partisan of ministry has more lately denounced against America the dreadful sentence “Delenda est Carthago,” that this was done in the presence of a British senate & being unreproved by them we must considered be taken to be as approved their own sentiment; when it considers the great armaments by sea & land with which they have invaded us by sea & land, & the circumstances of cruelty with which these have commenced & prosecuted hostilities; when these things we say are laid together & attentively considered, can the world be deceived by the artifices of a ministry into an opinion that we are unreasonable, or can it hesitate to believe with us that nothing but our own exertions can may defeat the ministerial sentence of death or submission.
to john randolph1
Monticello, August 25, 1775.
—I am sorry the situation of our country should render it not eligible to you to remain longer in it. I hope the returning wisdom of Great Britain will, ere long, put an end to this unnatural contest. There may be people to whose tempers and dispositions contention is pleasing, and who, therefore, wish a continuance of confusion, but to me it is of all states but one, the most horrid. My first wish is a restoration of our just rights; my second, a return of the happy period, when, consistently with duty, I may withdraw myself totally from the public stage, and pass the rest of my days in domestic ease and tranquillity, banishing every desire of ever hearing what passes in the world. Perhaps (for the latter adds considerably to the warmth of the former wish), looking with fondness towards a reconciliation with Great Britain, I cannot help hoping you may be able to contribute towards expediting this good work. I think it must be evident to yourself, that the Ministry have been deceived by their officers on this side of the water, who (for what purpose I cannot tell) have constantly represented the American opposition as that of a small fraction, in which the body of the people took little part. This, you can inform them, of your own knowledge, is untrue. They have taken it into their heads, too, that we are cowards, and shall surrender at discretion to an armed force. The past and future operations of the war must confirm or undeceive them on that head. I wish they were thoroughly and minutely acquainted with every circumstance relative to America, as it exists in truth. I am persuaded, this would go far towards disposing them to reconciliation. Even those in Parliament who are called friends to America, seem to know nothing of our real determinations. I observe, they pronounced in the last Parliament, that the Congress of 1774 did not mean to insist rigorously on the terms they held out, but kept something in reserve, to give up; and, in fact, that they would give up everything but the article of taxation. Now, the truth is far from this, as I can affirm, and put my honor to the assertion. Their continuance in this error may, perhaps, produce very ill consequences The Congress stated the lowest terms they thought possible to be accepted, in order to convince the world they were not unreasonable. They gave up the monopoly and regulation of trade, and all acts of Parliament prior to 1764, leaving to British generosity to render these, at some future time, as easy to America as the interests of Britain would admit. But this was before blood was spilt. I cannot affirm, but have reason to think, these terms would not now be accepted. I wish no false sense of honor, no ignorance of our real intentions, no vain hope that partial concessions of right will be accepted, may induce the Ministry to trifle with accommodation, till it shall be out of their power ever to accommodate. If, indeed, Great Britain, disjointed from her colonies, be a match for the most potent nations of Europe, with the colonies thrown into their scale, they may go on securely. But if they are not assured of this, it would be certainly unwise, by trying the event of another campaign, to risk our accepting a foreign aid, which, perhaps, may not be attainable, but on condition of everlasting avulsion from Great Britain. This would be thought a hard condition, to those who still wish for re-union with their parent country. I am sincerely one of those, and would rather be in dependence on Great Britain, properly limited, than on any other nation on earth, or than on no nation. But I am one of those, too, who, rather than submit to the rights of legislating for us, assumed by the British Parliament, and which late experience has shown they will so cruelly exercise, would lend my hand to sink the whole Island in the ocean.
If undeceiving the Minister, as to matters of fact, may change his disposition, it will, perhaps, be in your power, by assisting to do this, to render service to the whole empire, at the most critical time, certainly, that it has ever seen. Whether Britain shall continue the head of the greatest empire on earth, or shall return to her original station in the political scale of Europe, depends, perhaps, on the resolutions of the succeeding winter. God send they may be wise and salutary for us all. I shall be glad to hear from you as often as you may be disposed to think of things here. You may be at liberty, I expect, to communicate some things, consistently with your honor, and the duties you will owe to a protecting nation. Such a communication among individuals, may be mutually beneficial to the contending parties. On this or any future occasion, if I affirm to you any facts, your knowledge of me will enable you to decide on their credibility; if I hazard opinions on the dispositions of men or other speculative points, you can only know they are my opinions. My best wishes for your felicity, attend you, wherever you go, and believe me to be assuredly, Your friend and servant.
to francis eppes1
Philadelphia, Oct. 10th, 1775.
—I wrote to Patty [Mrs. Jefferson] on my arrival here, and there being nothing new in the political way, I enclosed her letter under a blank cover to you. Since that we have received from England news of much importance which coming through many channels we believe may be confidently relied on. Both the ministerial and provincial accounts of the battle of Bunker’s Hill had got to England. The ministry were determined to push the war with vigor, a measure in which they were fixed by the defeat of the Spaniards by the Moors. Ninety brass cannon were embarked from the tower, and may be hourly expected either at N. York or Boston. Two thousand troops were to sail from Ireland about the 25th Sept.; these we have reason to believe are destined for N. York. Commodore Shuldam was to sail about the same time with a great number of frigates and small vessels of war, to be distributed among the middle colonies. He comes at the express and earnest intercessions of Ld. Dunmore, and the plan is to lay waste all the plantations on our river sides. Of this we give immediate notice to our Committee of Safety by an express whom we dispatched last Friday, that if any defence could be provided on the rivers by fortifications or small vessels it might be done immediately. In the spring, 10,000 men more are to come over. They are to be procured by taking away two-thirds of the garrison at Gibraltar (who are to be replaced by some Hessians) by 2,000 Highlanders and 5,000 Roman Catholics, whom they propose to raise in Ireland. Instead of Roman Catholics, however, some of our accounts say foreigners are to be sent. Their plan is this. They are to take possession of New York and Albany, keeping up a communication between them by means of their vessels. Between Albany and St. John’s, they propose also to keep open the communication, and again between St. John’s and Quebec, and Boston. By this means they expect Gage, Tryon, and Carleton may distress us on every side, acting in concert with one another. By means of Hudson’s River, they expect to cut off all correspondence between the northern and southern rivers. Gage was appointed Governor-General of all America; but Sir Jeffrey Amherst consented afterwards to come over, so that Gage is to be recalled; but it is believed Amherst will not come till the spring; in the meantime Howe will have the command. The coöperation of the Canadians is taken for granted in all the ministerial schemes. We hope, therefore, they will be dislocated by the events in that quarter. For an account of these I must refer you to Patty. My warmest affections attend Mrs. Eppes. Adieu.
to francis eppes1
Philadelphia, Oct. 24, 1775.
—Since my last, we have nothing new from England or from the camps at either Cambridge or St. John’s. Our eyes are turned to the latter place with no little anxiety, the weather having been uncommonly bad for troops in that quarter, exposed to the inclemencies of the sky without any protection. Carleton is retired to Quebec, and though it does not appear he has any intimation of Arnold’s expedition, yet we hear he has embodied 1,100 men to be on his guard. A small vessel was the other day cast away on the Jersey shore (she was one of the transports which had some time ago brought over troops to Boston) on board of which were a captain, with his subordinate officers and marines, amounting to 23 in all, and also a Duncan Campbell who was going to recruit men at New York for General Gage, he having some time before undertaken the same business in the same place, and actually carried off 60 men. The marines and their officers were all taken immediately, except their captain and the recruiting gentleman; these pushed off in a little boat, and coasted it to Long Island, where they got on board a sloop which was to have sailed in an hour, when the party sent after them came upon them. They were brought to this city this morning, the marines having been here some time. Our good old speaker died the night before last. For the particulars of that melancholy event I must refer you to Patty. My affections attend Mrs. Eppes. Adieu.
to john page1
Philadelphia, Oct. 31, 1775.
—We have nothing new from England or the camp before Boston. By a private letter this day to a gentleman of Congress from General Montgomery we learn that our forces before St. John’s are 4,000 in number besides 500 Canadians, the latter of whom have repelled with great intrepidity three different attacks from the fort. We apprehend it will not hold out much longer as Monsr. St. Luc de la Corne and several other principal inhabitants of Montreal who have been our great enemies have offered to make terms. This St. Luc is a great Seigneur amongst the Canadians and almost absolute with the Indians, he has been our most bitter enemy, he is acknowledged to be the greatest of all scoundrels, to be assured of this I need only to mention to you that he is the ruffian who when during the late war Fort William Henry was surrendered to the French & Indians on condition of saving the lives of the garrison had every soul murdered in cold blood. The check which the Canadians received at first is now wearing off. They were made to believe we had an army of 15,000 men going there, but when they saw Montgomery with but 2,700 they were thunderstruck at the situation they had brought themselves into. However when they saw even this small armament march boldly to invest St. John’s & put a good face on the matter they revived, & the recruits since have contributed to inspirit them more.
I have set apart nearly one day in every week since I came here to write letters. Notwithstanding this I never had received the scrip of a pen from any mortal breathing. I should have excepted two lines from Mr. Pendleton to desire me to buy him 24 lb of wire from which I concluded he was alive. I speak not this for you from whom I would not wish to receive a letter till I know you can write one without injury to your health, but in future as I must be satisfied with information from my colleagues that my county still exists, so I am determined to be satisfied also with their epistolary communications of what passes within our knowledge. Adieu, Dear Page.
Delenda est Norfolk.1
to francis eppes2
Philadelphia, Nov. 7, 1775.
—We have no late intelligence here except of the surrender of Chambly, with 90 prisoners of war, 6½ tons of powder, 150 stands of arms, and some other small matters. The acquisition of this powder, we hope, has before this made us masters of St. John’s, on which Montreal and the upper parts of St. Lawrence will of course be ours. The fate of Arnold’s expedition we know not as yet. We have had some disagreeable accounts of internal commotions in South Carolina. I have never received the script of a pen from any mortal in Virginia since I left it, nor been able by any inquiries I could make to hear of my family. I had hoped that when Mrs. Byrd came I could have heard something of them; but she could tell me nothing about them. The suspense under which I am is too terrible to be endured. If anything has happened, for God’s sake let me know it. My best affections to Mrs. Eppes. Adieu.
to francis eppes1
Philadelphia, Nov. 21st, 1775.
—After sealing my last letter to you, we received an account of the capture of St. John’s which I wrote on the letter. What I then gave you was true account of the matter. We consider this as having determined the fate of Canada. A committee of Congress is gone to improve circumstances, so as to bring the Canadians into our Union. We have accounts of Arnold as late as October 13. All well and in fine spirits. We cannot help hoping him into possession of Quebec, as we know Carleton to be absent in the neighborhood of Montreal. Our armed vessels to the northward have taken some of the ships coming with provisions from Ireland to Boston. By the intercepted letters we have a confirmation that they will have an army of four or five and twenty thousands there by the spring, but they will be raw-teagues.1 3,000 are lately arrived there. I have written to Patty a proposition to keep yourselves at a distance from the alarms of Ld. Dunmore. To her, therefore, for want of time, I must refer to you, and shall hope to meet you as proposed. I am, dear Sir, with my best affections to Mrs. Eppes, your friend and servant.
to john randolph2
Philadelphia, November 29, 1775.
—I am to give you the melancholy intelligence of the death of our most worthy Speaker, which happened here on the 22d of the last month. He was struck with an apoplexy, and expired within five hours.
I have it in my power to acquaint you, that the success of our arms has corresponded with the justice of our cause. Chambly and St. John’s were taken some weeks ago, and in them the whole regular army in Canada, except about forty or fifty men. This day, certain intelligence has reached us, that our General, Montgomery, is received into Montreal; and we expect, every hour, to be informed that Quebec has opened its arms to Colonel Arnold, who, with eleven hundred men, was sent from Boston up the Kennebec, and down the Chaudière river to that place. He expected to be there early this month. Montreal acceded to us on the 13th, and Carlton set out, with the shattered remains of his little army, for Quebec, where we hope he will be taken up by Arnold. In a short time, we have reason to hope, the delegates of Canada will join us in Congress, and complete the American union, as far as we wish to have it completed. We hear that one of the British transports has arrived at Boston; the rest are beating off the coast, in very bad weather. You will have heard, before this reaches you, that Lord Dunmore has commenced hostilities in Virginia. That people bore with everything, till he attempted to burn the town of Hampton. They opposed and repelled him, with considerable loss on his side, and none on ours. It has raised our countrymen into a perfect phrensy. It is an immense misfortune, to the whole empire, to have a King of such a disposition at such a time. We are told, and everything proves it true, that he is the bitterest enemy we have. His Minister is able, and that satisfies me that ignorance or wickedness, somewhere, controls him. In an earlier part of this contest, our petitions told him, that from our King there was but one appeal. The admonition was despised, and that appeal forced on us. To undo his empire, he has but one truth more to learn; that, after colonies have drawn the sword, there is but one step more they can take. That step is now pressed upon us, by the measures adopted, as if they were afraid we would not take it. Believe me, dear Sir, there is not in the British empire a man who more cordially loves a union with Great Britain, than I do. But by the God that made me, I will cease to exist before I yield to a connection on such terms as the British Parliament propose; and in this, I think I speak the sentiments of America. We want neither inducement nor power, to declare and assert a separation. It is will, alone, which is wanting, and that is growing apace under the fostering hand of our King. One bloody campaign will probably decide, everlastingly, our future course; and I am sorry to find a bloody campaign is decided on. If our winds and waters should not combine to rescue their shores from slavery, and General Howe’s reinforcements should arrive in safety, we have hopes he will be inspirited to come out of Boston and take another drubbing; and we must drub him soundly, before the sceptred tyrant will know we are not mere brutes, to crouch under his hand, and kiss the rod with which he designs to scourge us,
declaration concerning ethan allen1
[Dec. 2, 1775 ?]
A Declaration (or a letter to Howe) on Allen’s case.
When necessity compelled us to take up arms against Great Britain in defence of our just rights, we thought it a circumstance of some comfort that our enemy was brave and civilized. It is the happiness of modern times that the evils of necessary war are softened by the refinement of manners & sentiment and that an enemy is an object of vengeance, in arms, & in the field only. It is with pain we hear that Mr. Allen and eleven others taken with him while fighting bravely in their country’s cause, are sent to Britain in irons, to be punished for pretended treason; treasons too created by one of those very laws whose obligation we deny, and mean to contest by the sword. This question is will not to be decided by reeking vengeance on a few wretched helpless captives brave men who unfortunately but by subduing conquering vanquishing your enemies in the field of glory encounters of virtue atchieving success in the fields of war, by and gathering there those laurels which grow for the warrior brave alone. In this light we view the object between us, in this line we have hitherto conducted ourselves for its attainment. To those of your who bearing your arms have fallen into our hands we have extended afforded every comfort for which captivity will admit and misfortune call for enlargement upon parole has been admitted this they will do us the justice to testify. Enlargement & comfortable subsistence have been extended to both officers & men, trusting to the ties of honour & their bondage restraint is a bondage restraint of honour only. Should you think proper in these days to revive the antient barbarity of antient ages, barbarism and again disgrace our nature with the practice sacrifice the fortune of war has put it into our hands power subjects for multiplied retaliation. To them, to you, & to the world we declare they shall not be wretched unless their imprudence or your example shall oblige us to make them so; but we declare that their lives shall compel teach our enemies to respect the rights of nations. We have ordered Brigadr. General Prescot to be bound in irons & to be confined in close jail, there to experience sufferings similar to those corresponding miseries to those which shall be inflicted on Mr. Allen. His life shall answer for that life of Mr. Allen, & the lives of as many others for those sent with him of the brave men captivated with him. We deplore the event which shall oblige us to retaliate shed blood for blood, and shall resort to retaliation but as the means of stopping the progress of butchery. This it is a duty we owe to those engaged in support of our the cause of their country, to assure them that if any unlucky circumstance baffling the efforts of their bravery shall put them in the power of their enemies, their lives shall be warranted from sacrifice by the lives of the prisoners in our hands we will use the pledges in our hands to warrant their lives from sacrifice.
to john page1
[About Dec. 10th, 1775.]
De rebus novis, ita est. One of our armed vessels has taken an English store ship coming with all the implements of war (except powder) to Boston. She is worth about £30,000 sterling as General Washington informs us, & the stores are adapted to his wants as perfectly as if he had sent the invoice. They have also taken two small provision vessels from Ireland to Boston. A forty gun ship blew up the other day by accident in the harbor of Boston. Of a certainty the hand of God is upon them. Our last intelligence from Arnold to be relied on is by letter from him. He was then at Point Levy opposite Quebec & had a great number of canoes ready to cross the river. The Canadians received him with cordiality & the regular force in Quebec was too inconsiderable to give him any inquietude. A later report makes him in possession of Quebec, but this is not authenticated. Montgomery had proceeded in quest of Carleton & his small fleet of 11 pickeroons, then on Lake St. Francis. He had got below him & had batteries so planted as to prevent his passing. It is thought he cannot escape their vigilance. I hope Ld. Chatham may live till the fortune of war puts his son into our hands, & enables us by returning him safe to his father, to pay a debt of gratitude. I wish you would get into Convention & come here. Think of it. Accomplish it. Adieu.
The Congress have promoted Brigadier Genl. Montgomery to be a Major General, and on being assured that Arnold is in possession of Quebec it is probable he will be made a Brigadier General, one of those offices being vacant by Montgomery’s promotion. This march of Arnold’s is equal to Xenophon’s retreat. Be so good as to enquire for the box of books you lodged for me at Nelson’s & get them to a place of safety. Perhaps some oppty may offer of sending it to Richmond.
report to congress on congress committee1
[December 15, 1775.]
The Committee appointed to consider and prepare instructions for a committee who are to sit during the recess of Congress have agreed to the following resolutions
Resolved that it is the opinion of this committee that the sd Committee during the Recess of Congress should be authorized & instructed
To receive and open letters directed to the Congress
To correspond with the several Conventions, Assemblies, or Committees of safety, with the Committee of Congress sent to Canada, the Commissioners for Indian affairs; and the Commanding officers of the Continental forces in the several departments
To give counsel to the sd commanding officers whenever applied to by them
To supply the Continental forces by sea and land with all necessaries from time to time
To expedite the striking monies ordered by the Congress to be struck
To transmit to the several Commanding officers, Paymasters & Commissaries from time to time such sums of money as may be necessary for the pay & subsistence of the Continental forces, and order paiment by the Treasurer for such contracts as they, the said committee, may make in pursuance of the authorities and instructions given them
To take charge of all military stores belonging to the United Colonies, to procure such further quantities as may probably be wanted, & to order any part thereof wheresoever it may be most requisite for the Common service.
To direct the safe keeping and comfortable accommodation of all Prisoners of War.
To contribute their counsel and authority towards raising recruits ordered by Congress
To procure intelligence of the condition and designs of the enemy.
To direct military operations by sea and land; not changing any objects or expedition determined on by Congress
To attend to the defence and preservation of forts and strong posts and to prevent the enemy from acquiring new holds
To apply to such officers in the several colonies as are entrusted with the executive powers of government for the occasional aid of Minute-men and militia whenever & wherever necessary
In case of the death of any officer within the appointment of Congress, to employ a person to fulfil his duties, until the meeting of Congress, unless the office be of such nature as to admit of a delay of appointment until such meeting
To examine public claims and accounts and report the same to the next Congress.
To publish and disperse authentic accounts of military operations.
To expedite the printing of the Journal of Congress as by them directed to be published
To summon a meeting of Congress at an earlier date than that to which it may stand adjourned, if any great and unexpected emergence shall render it necessary for the safety or good of the United colonies
And to lay before the Congress at their meeting all letters received by them with a report of their proceedings.
Resolved that the said Committee shall be authorized to appoint their own clerk who shall take an oath of secrecy before he enters on the exercise of his office.
Resolved that in case of the death of any member of the said Committee, they immediately apply to his surviving colleagues to appoint some one of themselves to be a member of the said Committee.
to thomas nelson1
Philadelphia, May 16, 1776.
—I arrived here last Tuesday after being detained hence six weeks longer than I intended by a malady of which Gilmer can inform you. I have nothing new to inform you of as the last post carried you an account of the naval engagement in Delaware. I inclose a vote of yesterday on the subject of government as the ensuing campaign is likely to require greater exertion than our unorganized powers may at present effect. Should our Convention propose to establish now a form of government perhaps it might be agreeable to recall for a short time their delegates. It is a work of the most interesting nature and such as every individual would wish to have his voice in. In truth it is the whole object of the present controversy; for should a bad government be instituted for us in future it had been as well to have accepted at first the bad one offered to us from beyond the water without the risk & expence of contest. But this I mention to you in confidence, as in our situation, a hint to any other is too delicate however anxiously interesting the subject is to our feelings. In future you shall hear from me weekly while you stay, and I shall be glad to receive Conventional as well as publick intelligence from you.
P. S.—In the other colonies who have instituted government they recalled their delegates, leaving only one or two to give information to Congress of matters which might relate to their country particularly, and giving them a vote during the interval of absence.
I am at present in our old lodgings tho’ I think, as the excessive heats of the city are coming on fast, to endeavor to get lodgings in the skirts of the town where I may have the benefit of a freely circulating air. Tell Page & McClurgh that I received their letters this morning and shall devote myself to their contents. I am here in the same uneasy anxious state in which I was the last fall without Mrs. Jefferson who could not come with me. I wish much to see you here, yet hope you will contrive to bring on as early as you can in convention the great questions of the session. I suppose they will tell us what to say on the subject of independence,1 but hope respect will be expressed to the right of opinion in other colonies who may happen to differ from them. When at home I took great pains to enquire into the sentiments of the people on that head, in the upper counties I think I may safely say nine out of ten are for it. Adieu. My compliments to Mrs. Nelson.
May 19. Yesterday we received the disagreeable news of a second defeat at Quebec. Two men of war, two frigates and a tender arrived there early on the 6th instant. About 11 o’clock the same day the enemy sallied out to the number of a thousand. Our forces were so dispersed at different posts that not more than 200 could be collected at Headquarter’s. This small force could not resist the enemy. All our cannon, 500 muskets & 200 sick men fell into their hands. Besides this one of their frigates got possession of a batteau with 30 barrels of powder & an armed vessel which our crew was forced to abandon. Our army was to retreat to the mouth of the Sorel.
Genl. Arnold was to set off from Montreal to join them immediately, upon whose rejoining them, it was hoped they might return as far as Dechambeau. General Wooster has the credit of this misadventure, and if he cannot give a better account of it than has yet been heard, I hope he will be made an example of. Generals Thomas and Sullivan were on their way with reinforcements. Arnold had gone up to Montreal on business, or as some say, disgusted by Wooster.
The congress having ordered a new battalion of riflemen to be raised in Virginia, Innis wishes much to be translated to it from the Eastern shore which was so disagreeable to him that he had determined to have resigned.
report of committee on canadian affairs1
[May 21, 1776.]
R. 1. postpon’d
Resolved that the Commissioners for Indian affairs in the Northern department be directed to use their utmost endeavors to procure the assistance of the Indians within their department to act against the enemies of the Colonies, that they particularly endeavor to engage them to undertake the reduction of Niagara, engaging on behalf of Congress to pay them 133⅓ dollars for every prisoner they shall take and bring to headquarters, or to the said Commissioners.
R. 2. postpon’d
Resolved that the Commissioners for Indian affairs in the Middle department be directed to use their utmost endeavors to procure the assistance of the Indians within their department, that they particularly endeavor to engage them to undertake the reduction of Detroit upon the same terms offered the Indians who shall go against Niagara.
R. 3. postpon’d
Resolved that the Commissioners in each of the said departments be directed to employ one or more able partisans whom the Congress will liberally reward for their exertions in the business to be committed to them.
R. 4. referred to N. J. & P. for
Resolved that it is the opinion of this Committee that there be raised for the Service of the United Colonies one battalion of Germans1
Resolved that the companies of riflemen from Virginia and Maryland be regimented and that the regiment be compleated to the original number of the Pennsylvania battalion.
R. 6. a
Resolved that the Pennsylvania battalion of riflemen be compleated to their original establishment.
R. 6. b
Resolved that two Companies of the forces now in the Delaware counties be ordered to Cape May.
Resolved that the Committee appointed to Contract for cannon be directed to procure a number of brass or iron field pieces to be made or purchased immediately [and sent to Canada.]1
R. 8. Come. already appointed to procure medec.?
Resolved that a proper assortment of Medicenes be sent to Canada.
Resolved that Mr. James Mease be directed to purchase & forward to the Quarter Master general in New York as much cloth for tents as he can procure.
R. 10. Comd. to the Come. of which Mr. Shearman is Chairman
Resolved that proper persons be appointed by Congress to purchase such articles as may be wanted for the use of the soldiers in Canada & send the same to Albany, that they may be forwarded to the army in Canada: and that they be particularly attentive to provide in time a sufficient number of leathern breeches & under waistcoats, and such other winter cloathing as may be necessary for them.
Resolved that the Committee appointed to contract for the making of shoes for the army be directed to forward with all expedition to the Quarter Master in Canada such as are already provided.
Resolved that Prisoners taken by continental arms be not exchanged by any authority but the Continental Congress.
Resolved that it is the opinion of this Committee that all vessels which sailed from the port or harbor of Boston whilst the town of Boston was in possession of the enemy, having on board the effects belonging to the enemies of America & which have been or may be seized be liable, together with the said effects, to confiscation; in the same manner and proportions as have been heretofore resolved by Congress.
Resolved that the Continental agents in the respective colonies where no courts have been established for the trial of captures have power & be directed to dispose at public sale of such articles of a perishable nature as shall be taken from the enemies of America, and that the money arising from such sale be liable to the decree of such court whenever established.
Resolved that the inventory of the Ordinance Stores taken by Capt. Manly be sent to General Washington, & that he be requested to appoint a person on the part of the Colonies to join one on the part of Captain Manly & his crew, who, having first taken an oath for that purpose, shall proceed to value the same, & if they cannot agree in the value they shall call in a third person to determine the same: that the report of such persons be returned to Congress so soon as may be, and the value of the stores belonging to Captn. Manly & his crew be thereupon transmitted them.
proposed constitution for virginia1
[1 ]John Dickinson has here interlined “her successful & glorious ministry wars.”
[2 ]John Dickinson has here altered it to read “by their influence.”
[3 ]Altered by Dickinson to “were persuaded to assume & assert.”
[1 ]“Here insert substance of the Address declaring a Rebellion to exist in Massachusetts Bay, &c.”—Marginal note by John Dickinson.
[1 ]“Country” inserted here by Dickinson.
[2 ]“Only” inserted by Dickinson.
[3 ]“To procure their Enlargement,‘’ inserted by Dickinson.
[4 ]Dickinson inserts here the word “after.”
[1 ]“Friends &” inserted by Dickinson.
[2 ]“In Britain or other” inserted by Dickinson.
[1 ]These three queries are in the handwriting of John Dickinson.
[2 ]On July 22d Franklin, Jefferson, John Adams, and Lee were named by Congress a committee to report on the “conciliatory resolution” moved by Lord North, and adopted February 20, 1775, by the House of Commons. Jefferson in the Virginia House of Burgesses had already drawn a reply to this, which “having been approved, I was requested by the committee to prepare” the report. It was introduced July 25th, but was not adopted till July 31st. This is Jefferson’s draft of that paper, and varies considerably from the paper as finally adopted.
[1 ]That there is no matter in dispute between us but the single circumstance of the mode of levying taxes, which mode they are so good as to give up to us, of course that the colonies are unreasonable if they are not thereby perfectly satisfied: whereas in truth our adversaries not only still claim a right of demanding ad libitum and of taxing us themselves to the full amount of their demands if we do not fulfil their pleasure, which leaves us without anything we can call property, but what is of more importance & what they keep in this proposal out of sight as if no such point was in contest, they claim a right of altering all our charters and established laws which leaves us without the least security for our lives or liberties. The proposition seems also calculated more particularly &c.—T. J.
[2 ]In the copy as printed in the Journals of Congress (i., 191) the words “that he would never treat with America till he had brought her to his feet” are inserted here.
[1 ]From Randolph’s edition of Jefferson’s writings.
[1 ]From Randall’s Life of Jefferson, iii., 569.
[1 ]From Randall’s Life of Jefferson, iii., 569.
[1 ]From the Historical Magazine, xiv., 244.
[1 ]The British had just burned Norfolk in Virginia.
[2 ]From Randall’s Life of Jefferson, iii., 570.
[1 ]From Randall’s Life of Jefferson, iii., 570.
[1 ]Referring to Irish, whom the rumors of the day stated were being recruited in large numbers.
[2 ]From Randolph’s edition of Jefferson’s writings.
[1 ]Probably proposed on the arrival of the news of Allen’s confinement, Dec. 2, 1775. It was not accepted by the Congress.
[1 ]From the original in the possession of the American Antiquarian Society of Worcester, Mass.
[1 ]This committee, consisting of Jefferson, Hooper, Franklin, Jay, and Dean, were appointed December 13, 1775, to prepare instructions for a “Committee to sit during the adjournment” of Congress. They reported this paper on December 15th, but it seems never to have been acted on by the Congress, as no immediate adjournment took place, as was at that time expected. The feeling seems to have been in favor of a committee which should sit at Hartford or some other town nearer the seat of war. (See Coll. of Conn. Hist. Soc., ii., 249.) Compare with Jefferson’s “Draft of Report on a Committee of the States,” post., January 30, 1784.
[1 ]From the original in the American Antiquarian Society, of Worcester, Mass.
[1 ]The Virginia Convention passed the instruction for independence the day before this was written.
[1 ]On May 14, 1776, “a letter of the 11th from general Washington inclosing sundry papers; a letter of the 3d from general Schuyler; and a letter of the 9th from Daniel Robertson, were laid before Congress and read: Resolved, That they be referred to a committee of three. The members chosen, Mr. W. Livingston, Mr. Jefferson, and Mr. J. Adams.” On May 16th letters from the Commissioners of Congress in Canada, and from Washington, were referred to the same Committee. They presented the above report May 21st, which was read the same day, and consideration postponed. It was again considered on the 22d, and sundry resolutions adopted. Cf. Journal of Congress. This report is printed from the original in Jefferson’s handwriting, which is headed “Report on Indians.”
[1 ]This paragraph is stricken out.
[1 ]The words in brackets are stricken out.
[1 ]The fair copy is endorsed in Jefferson’s handwriting, “A Bill for new modelling the form of government, & for establishing the fundamental principles thereof in future. It is proposed that this bill, after correction by the Convention, shall be referred by them to the people, to be assembled in their respective counties and that the suffrages of two thirds of the counties shall be requisite to establish it.” The rough draft has no preamble, though space was left for it. In both copies the erasures and interlineations are indicated. The bracketed portions in Roman are so written by Jefferson. Those in italic are inserted by the editor. For these most important papers I am under obligation to the courtesy of Mr. Cassius F. Lee of Alexandria, Va., and Mr. Worthington Chauncey Ford, of Brooklyn, N. Y., not merely for photographic reproductions, but also for the facts concerning them given at large in the latter’s Jefferson’s Constitution for Virginia (The Nation, li., 107). This constitution, though mentioned in several of the histories and other works concerning Virginia, and though seen by Wirt (Life of Patrick Henry, p. 196), and by Leigh (Debates of Virginia Convention, 1830, p. 160), has never yet been printed or even quoted. The history of its production is as follows: