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Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connexion between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved; and that, as FREE and INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of right do. And, for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the Protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.
Josiah Quincy, Jun.
BORN in Boston, Mass., 1744. DIED at Sea, off Gloucester, Mass., 1775.
AN INTERVIEW WITH LORD NORTH.
["Journal of a Voyage to England in 1774.”—Memoir of the Life of Josiah Quincy, Jun. 1825.]
ARLY this morning J. Williams, Esq., waited upon me with the compliments of Lord North, and his request to see me this morning. I went about half-past nine o'clock, and found Sir George Savil (as Mr. Williams informed me) in the levee room. After a short time his lordship sent for Mr. Williams and myself into his apartment. His reception was polite, and with a cheerful affability his lordship soon inquired into the state in which I had left American affairs. I gave him my sentiments upon them, together with what I took to be the causes of most of our political evils-gross misrepresentation and falsehood. His lordship replied, he did not doubt there had been much, but added that very honest men frequently gave a wrong statement of matters through mistake, prejudice, prepossessions, and biasses of one kind or other. I conceded the possibility of this, but further added that it would be happy, if none of those who had given accounts relative to America had varied from known truth, from worse motives.
We entered largely into the propriety and policy of the Boston Port Bill. In the conversation upon this subject I received much pleasure. His lordship several times smiled, and once seemed touched. We spoke considerably upon the sentiments of Americans, of the right claimed by Parliament to tax-of the destruction of the tea-and the justice of payment for it. His lordship went largely and repeatedly into an exculpation of the ministry. He said they were obliged to do what they did; that it was the most lenient measure that was proposed; that if administration had not adopted it they would have been called to an account; that the nation were highly incensed, etc.
Upon this topic I made many remarks with much freedom and explicitness, and should have said more had not his lordship's propensity to converse been incompatible with my own loquacity. His lordship more than thrice spoke of the power of Great Britain, of their determination to exert it to the utmost, in order to effect the submission of the Colonies. He said repeatedly, "We must try what we can do to support the authority we have claimed over America. If we are defective in power, we must sit down contented, and make the best terms we can, and nobody then can blame us after we have done our utmost; but till
we have tried what we can do, we can never be justified in receding, We ought, and we shall be very careful not to judge a thing impossible because it may be difficult; nay, we ought to try what we can effect, before we determine upon its impracticability." This last sentiment, and very nearly in the same words, was often repeated,—I thought I knew for what purpose.
His lordship spoke also upon the destruction of the Gaspee, and in direct terms twice said that the commissioners were appointed to try that matter, and had transmitted accounts that they could obtain no evidence. This declaration being in flat contradiction to what I had several times heard Chief-Justice Oliver declare to be the case from the bench, when giving his charges to the grand-jury, was particularly noticed by me. His honor ever most solemnly declared, in public and private, that the commission was to inquire whether any such event had happened, in order to send word to England, that so a trial might, or might not be ordered, as the evidence might be; and in the most express terms declared the commissioners had no power to try.
In the course of near two hours' conversation, many things more passed between us. As many letters and messages were delivered to his lordship while I was present, I several times rose to depart, telling his lordship I was afraid I should trespass on his patience, or the concerns of others; but being requested to stay, I remained about two hours, and then rose to go, but his lordship kept standing while he continued his conversation with his usual spirit. Upon my departure he asked me when I should leave England. I told him it was uncertain,--but imagined not this twelvemonth. He hoped the air of the island would contribute to my health, and said he thought the most unhealthy months were past; and then, saying, "I am much obliged to you for calling on me," we left each other to our meditations.
THE DUTY OF AMERICANS.
[Letter to Mrs. Quincy.-London, 14 December, 1774. From the Same.]
THERE is not a sensible man of either party here, but acknowledges your ability to save your country if you have but union, courage, and perseverance. But your enemies pretend to be sanguine that your avarice of commercial riches will dissolve your union and mutual confidence, that your boasted courage is but vapor, and that your perseverance will be as the morning cloud.
Let me tell you one very serious truth, in which we are all agreed,
your countrymen must seal their cause with their blood. You know how often, and how long ago, I said this. I see every day more and more reason to confirm my opinion. I every day find characters dignified by science, rank, and station, of the same sentiment. Lord said to me yesterday: "It is idle, it is idle, Mr. — ; this country will never carry on a civil war against America; we cannot, but the ministry hope to carry all by a single stroke." I should be glad to name the lord, but think it not best. Surely my countrymen will recollect the words I held to them this time twelvemonth: "It is not, Mr. Moderator, the spirit that vapors within these walls that must stand us in stead. The exertions of this day will call forth events which will make a very different spirit necessary for our salvation. Look to the end. Whoever supposes that shouts and hosannas will terminate the trials of the day entertains a childish fancy. We must be grossly ignorant of the importance and value of the prize for which we contend; we must be equally ignorant of the powers of those who have combined against us; we must be blind to that malice, inveteracy, and insatiable revenge which actuate our enemies, public and private, abroad and in our bosom, to hope we shall end this controversy without the sharpest-the sharpest conflicts; to flatter ourselves that popular resolves, popular harangues, popular acclamations, and popular vapor will vanquish our foes. Let us consider the issue. Let us look to the end. Let us weigh and consider, before we advance to those measures which must bring on the most trying and terrible struggle this country ever saw."
Hundreds, I believe, will call these words, and many more of the same import, to remembrance. Hundreds, who heretofore doubted, are long ere this convinced I was right. The popular sentiments of the day prevailed; they advanced with "resolutions" to hazard and abide the consequences. They must now stand the issue; they must preserve a consistency of character; they must not delay; they must
or be trodden into the vilest vassalage, the scorn, the spurn of their enemies, a by-word of infamy among all men.
THE FEELING OF ENGLISHMEN.
[Letter to Mrs. Quincy.-London, 24 November, 1774. From the Same.]
AMERICA hath none to fear so much as her own children. Some
of these are inveterate and persevering beyond example or conception. Seeing I have not time to give you a regular detail of all I have heard and seen, you will probably inquire, "What is the substance of what you collect? What is your own private opinion?" To gratify
my friends on these heads was the cause of my snatching this hasty moment, and transmitting my opinion.
The minds of people are strangely altered in this island; the many are now as prone to justify and applaud the Americans, as, but a little while ago, they were ready to condemn and punish. I have conversed with almost all ranks of people for these fifteen days past, and having been in very large circles of the sensible part of the community during that time, my opportunity for information was the more fortunate. I came among a people, I was told, that breathed nothing but punishment and destruction against Boston and all America. I found a people many of whom revere, love, and heartily wish well to us. Now is it strange that it should be so? For abstracted from the pleasure that a good mind takes in seeing truth and justice prevail, it is the interest, the highest private interest of this whole nation, to be our fast friends; and strange as it may seem when you consider the conduct of the nation as represented in Parliament, the people know it. The following language has been reiterated to me in various companies, with approbation and warmth.
"We are afraid of nothing but your division and your want of perseverance. Unite and persevere. You must prevail,-you must triumph."
This and similar language hath been held to me with a zeal that bespoke it came from the heart,—with a frequency that proved such sentiments dwelt upon the mind. I could name you the first characters for understanding, integrity, and spirit, who have held such language;—but it would be improper to name those who might perhaps be discovered through the indiscretion of American friends, or the prying villany of public conspirators. Bowdoin, Winthrop, Chauncy, Cooper, Warren, etc., can recollect whom they introduced me to, and thence conjecture a few of those whose British hearts are thus in America.
Great is the anxiety here lest the Congress should petition or remonstrate. In the arts of negotiation, your adversaries are infinitely your superiors. If that mode of proceeding is adopted by the Congress, many very many friends will sink,-they will desert your cause from despondency. At present (as I am assured and as I verily believe) could the voices of this nation be collected by any fair method, twenty to one would be in favor of the Americans. You wonder and say, "Then whence is it that they do not exert themselves?" One Américan phrase will give you the true reason. The people are "cowed" by oppresion. It is amazing,—it is incredible how much this is the case. Corruption, baseness, fraud, exorbitant oppression never so abounded as in this island. And will you believe me when I say that Englishmen—that boasted race of freemen-are sunk in abject submission.