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ASTOR, LENOX AND TILDEN FOUNDATIONS. 1899.
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT, SS.
L.S. BE IT REMEMBERED; That on the eighteenth day of Janua
ry, in the forty-fifth year of the independence of the United States of Ame-
CHARLES A. INGERSOLL,
A true copy of Record, examined and sealed by me,
CHARLES A. INGERSOLL,
ROBERTS AND BURR, PRINTERS,
CAUSES THAT LED TO THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.
THAT We way correctly understand this most interesting and important subject, it may be necessary to examine the principles of that tenure, by which the citizens of the American colonies held the right of soil, as well as the principles of that jurisprudence by which they were governed.
I shall first attempt to shew, what are the principles of the rights of property, in a state of nature, and how those principles are either changed, or confirmed, by the laws of civil society I shall next attempt to argue from these premises, the illegality of that claim which Great-Britain attempted to exercise over the American colonies, when she assumed the right to tax them; and the injustice of the measures she adopted, when she made her appeal to arms, and attempted to enforce her demands by the sword. I shall also attempt to shew, how unwise and absurd that whole system of British politics was, which compelled the colonies to dissolve their connection with the mother country, and declare their independence.
By the laws of nature, occupancy, and possession, is the only law of title; the law of force gives no just right of property, because it is a maxim in nature "that might often overcomes right."
When the christian princes of Europe, granted letters patent to foreign adventurers, to discover, and possess the soil of foreign lands, they knew that they had no more right to grant such authority, than the Popes of Rome had
had, in exercising the same powers, for centuries before; which power they also actually claimed, and exercised at that very time.
If, therefore, the first principles of their claims, were founded in error, all subsequent claims, arising therefrom, must be supported by error. The aborigines of all the countries which were explored at the age when America was discovered, possessed the soil by the right of occupancy, or possession, and this possession had been immemorial, or time out of mind; which had also confirmed their title by the rights of prescription, according to the common law of civilized nations; therefore Great-Britain could not claim the right of soil to the American colonies, either by the laws of nature, or the common law of nations, and never pretended to claim by the right of statute, for she had no right on which she could found a statute. But the kings of England authorised these foreign discoveries, with the right of occupancy; did they become joint partners, by furnishing any part of the capital to support the expence of these adventures, or to promote these settlements; and is this the basis of their claims? Here again they are lame: not one sentence on historical record, can shew, that the crown of England ever advanced one cent, to promote either the adventures, or the settlements. The question now forces itself upon us, wherein then consisted her claims to the American colonies? The only answer that can be given in her favour is, that they were settled by the lawful subjects of the crown of England. But can her claims over, or upon the lives, and properties of those subjects of her crown, be just, which the cruel, oppressive, and tyrannical laws of her government had driven from their dear native land, into exile; and can these cruel and oppressive laws be binding upon the exile in a foreign land? This Great Britain did not claim, when the exiles were in Germany, France, Switzerland, and Holland; then why should she claim this of the exiles in the wilds of America?
The only answer that can be given by Britain to this ques tion is, that this was mutually understood, and acknowledged by the parties. This is true, so far as their mutual interest extended, and a mutual disposition to do good to each other, and no further; when this ceased, the bond of mutual interest ceased, and both parties were at liberty to dissolve the connection, and cultivate other civil and commercial intercourse. If the question should arise, what right had the exiles to the soil of America? my answer is at hand; they purchased it of the natives, who were the only rightful owners; they cleared, cultivated, and defended it by their own exertions, with the blessing of God, and were accountable to none but God for their hard earned possessions.*
But another question arises, on the part of Great-Britain, did she not send out her fleets, and armies to protect the colonies against the French, and actually drive them from their borders, by the conquest of Canada? My answer is at hand. Did not New-England subdue the strong fortress of Louisburg, the key at that time of French America, and at her own expence, and did not Great-Britain, by remunerating this expence, actually restore this fortress to the French, at the treaty of Utrecht? And when she assisted in the conquest of Canada, was not this a triumph over her natural enemy, at the expence of the blood, and treasure of the colonies? And did not Great Britain hold Canada as a reward for her services? Where then is the force of this argument? To close this tragic farce, GreatBritain claimed, that she had the power to enforce her demands, and she then drew the sword, to compel the exiles to yield to her measures; the colonies set her power at defiance, and proclaimed their national independence; and thus they were at issue.
*The tribe of Patuxet had become extinct, by the providence of God, and therefore their claim to the right of soil had become extinct, and the Plymouth Colony had good right to the soil, as being the next occupants, and this by the consent of Squanto, the only survivor of that tribe, and whe resided among them.
- In the first volume of this work, I have endeavoured to exhibit a full view, of those oppressions in England, that drove out the pilgrims from the land of their fathers, into voluntary exile, to plant a pure system, of civil and religious liberty, in the wilds of America. I have also given a general sketch of the intrigues, and oppressions, which were used from time to time, not only to interrupt, but to overthrow this system, of civil and religious rights, by vexatious grants, false, corrupt, and despotic governors, &c. I have developed the same system of despotic measures, throughout the details of the second volume, and my task is now to shew how Great-Britain pursued her plan of usurpation, and despotic sway, until she forced the colonies into a war, and then was compelled to yield to them, from necessity, (to restore that peace which she had broken,) all those just, and independent rights, which they would have been content to have enjoyed, for many years, in connection with the mother country. I do not mean to be understood here to say that the colonies would never have claimed the rights of an independent government, if GreatBritain had not forced them into a war. The time would undoubtedly have arrived, when united America, would have claimed her rank amongst the free, and enlightened nations of the earth; but that time would not have arrived before the fruit should have become fully ripe, and then it would have fallen off without any concussion, or violence. That sage in the councils of England, the old Earl of Chatham, gave seasonable warning to his nation, upon this momentous subject; but what is the wisdom of man, when it militates against the purposes of God? He who had planted this church in the wilderness, had now opened the way for that high, that dignified rank, it had become necessary for her to enjoy, that she might carry into effect the great designs, for which she had been nourished for so long a time in the wilderness, and unfold to the world, the