By the Great and General Court of the Colony of
The Fraility of human Nature, the Wants of Individuals, and the numerous
Dangers which Surround them through the Course
of Life, have in all Ages, and in every Country,impell'd them to form Societies, and establish Governments.
As the Happiness of the People is the sole End of Government, so the Consent of the People is the only Foundation of it,
in Reason, Morality, and the natural Fitness of Things: And therefore every Act of Government, every Exercise of So-
vereignty, against, or without, the Consent of the People, is Injustice, Usurpation, and Tyranny.
It is a Maxim, that in every Government, there must exist somewhere, a supreme, sovereign, absolute, and uncontroulable Power: But,
this Power resides always in the Body of the People; and it never was, or can be delegated to one Man, or a few; the Great Creator having,
never given to Men a Right to vest others with Authority over them, unlimited either in Duration or Degree.
When Kings, Ministers, Governors, or Legislators, therefore, instead of
exercising the Powers instrusted with them, according to the
ples, Forms, and Proportaions stated by the Constitution, and established by the original Compact, prostitute those Powers to the Purposes of
Oppression; -- to subvert, instead of supporting a free Constitution; -- to destroy, instead of preserving the Lives, Liberties and Properties of
the People; -- they are no longer to be deemed as Magistrates vested with a sacred Character but become public Enemies, and ought to be resisted.
The Administration of Great Britain despising equally the
Justice, Humanity, and Magnanimity of their Ancestors; and the Rights
Liberties and Courage of AMERICANS, have, for a Course of Years, labored to establish a Sovereignty in America, not founded in the
Consent of the People, but in the mere Will of Persons a Thousand Leaugues from Us, whom We know not, and have endeavored to
establish this Sovereignty over Us, against our Consent, in all Cases whatsoever.
The Colonies, during this Period, have recurred to every peacable Resource
in a free Constitution, by Petitions and Remonstrances
to obtain Justice; which has not only been denied to them, but they have been treated with unexampled Indignity and Contempt; and
at length, open War of the most Atrocious, cruel and sanguinary Kind, has been commenced against them. To this,an open, manly and
successful resistance has hitherso been made. Thirteen Colonies are now firmly united in the Conduct of this most just and necesary War,
under the wise Councils of their Congress.
It is the Will of Providence, for wise, rightous, and gracious ends that
this Colony should have been singled
out, by the Enemies of
America, as the first Object both of their Envy and their Revenge; and after having been made the Subject of several merciless and vin
dictive Statues, one of which was intended to subvert our Constitution by Charter, is made the Seat of War.
No effectual Resistance to the System of Tyranny prepapred for us could be
made without either instant Recourse to Arms, or a tem-
porary Suspension of the ordinary Powers of Government, and Tribunals of Justice: To the last of which Evils, in hopes of a speedy
Reconciliation with Great-Britain, upon equitable Terms, the Congress advised Us to submit:--And Mankind has been a Phaenome-
non, without Example in the political World, a large and populous Colony, submitting in great Decency and Order, for more than a Year,
under such a suspension of Government.
But as our Enemies have proceeded to such barbarous Extremities, commencing
Hostilities upon the good People of this Colony, and
with unprecedented Malice exerting their Power to spread the Calamities of Fire, Sword and Famine through the Land, and no reasonable
Prospect remains of a speedy reconciliation with Great-Britain, the Congress have resolved:
"That no Obedience being due to the Act of Parliament for ahering the
Charter of the Colony of Massachusetts-Bay, nor to a
"vernor or Lieutenant Governor, who will not observe the Directions of, but endeavor to subvert that Charter; the Governor and
"Lieutenant Governor of that Colony, as to be considered as absent, and their Offices vacant; and as there is no Council there, and
"Inconveniences arising from the Suspension of the powers of Government, are intolerable, especially at a time when General Gage
"hath actually levied War, and is carrying on Hostilities against his Majesty's peaceable and loyal Subjects of that Colony; that, in order
"to conform as near as may be to the Spirit and Substance of the Charter, it be recommended to the Provincial Convention, to write
"Letters to the inhabitants of several Places which are intitled to Representation in Assembly, requiring them to chuse such Repre-
"sentatives; and that the Assembly when chosen, do elect Counsellers; and that such Assembly and Council, exercise the Powers of Go-
"vernment, until a Governor of his Majesty's Appointment will consent to govern the Colony, according to its Charter."
In Pursuance of which Advice, the good People of this Colony have choosen a full and free Representation of themselves, who, being
convened in Assembly, have elected a Council; who, as the executive Branch of Government, have constituted necessary Officers through
the Colony. The present Generation, therefore, may be congratulated on the Acquisition of a Form of Government, more immediately
in all it's Branches, under the influence and Controul of the People; and therefore more free and happy than was enjoyed by their
Ancestors: But as a Government so popular can be supported only by universal Knowledge and Virtue, in the Body of the People, it is
the Duty of all Ranks, to promote the means of Education, for the reising Generation, as well as true Religion, Purity of Manners, and
Integrity of Life, among all Orders and Decrees.
As an Army has become Necessary for our Defence, and in all free States the
civil must provide for and control the Military power,
the major part of the Council have appointed Magistrates and Courts of Justice in every County, whose Happiness is so connected with
that of the People, that it is diffiult to suppose they can abuse their Trust. The Business of it is to see thise Laws inforced, which are
necessary for the preservation of Peace, Virtue and good order.And the Great and General Court expects and requests, that all ne-
cessary support and Alliance be given, and all proper Obidience yielded to them; and will deem every Person, who shall fail of his
Duty in this Respect toward them, a Disturber of the Peace of this Colony, and desrving of exemplary Punishment.
That Piety and Virtue, which alone can secure the Freedom of any People, may
be encouraged, and Vice and Immorality supressed,
the Great and General Court have thought fit to issue this Proclamation, commanding and enjoying it upon the good People of
this Colony, that they lead sober, religious and peacable lives; avoiding all Blasphemies, Contempt of the Holy Scriptures, and of
the Lord's Day, and all other Crimes and Misdemeanors, all Debauchery, Prophaneness, Corruption, Venality, all riotous and
tumoltuous Proceedings, and all Immoralities whatsoever: And that they decently and reverently attend the public worship of
GOD, at all Times acknowledging with Gratitude his merciful Interposition in their behalf, devotely confiding in Him, as the
GOD of Armies, by whose Favour and Protection alone they may hope for Success, in their present Conflict.
And all Judges, Justices, Sherriffs, and Grandf Jurors, Tythingmen, and all
other Civil Officers within this Colony, are hereby strictly
enjoined and commanded that they contribute all in their Power, by their Advice, Exertions and Examples, towards a general Re-
formation of Manners; and that they bring to condign Punishment, every Person, who shall commit any of the Crimes, or Mis-
demeanors aforesaid, or that shall be guilty of any Immoralities whatsoever; and that they use their utmost Endeavors, to have
the Resolves of the Congress, and the Good and Wholesome Laws of this Colony duly carried into Execution.
And as the Ministers of the Gospel, within this Colony, have during the late
relaxation of the Powers of Civil Government,
exerted themselves for our Safety, it is hereby recommended to them, still to continue their virtuous Labours for the Good of
the People, inculeating by their public Ministry, and private Example, the Necessity of Religion, Morality, and good Order.
In Council January 19, 1776.
ORDERED, That the foregoing Proclamation be read at the opening
of every Superiour Court of Judicature, &c., In-
feriour Court of Common Pleas, and Court of General Sessions for the Peace within this Colony, by their respective Clerks; and
at the annual town meetings in March, in each Town. And it is herebt recommended to the several Ministers of the Gospel,
throughout this Colony, to read the same in their respective Assemblies on the Lord's Day next after their receiving it, immedi-
ately after Devine Service. Sent down for Concurrence,
PEREZ MORTON. Dep'y Sec'ry.
In the House of Representatives, January 23, 1776. Read and concurr'd.
WILLIAM COOPER, speaker pro Tem.
By Order of the General Court,
PEREZ MORTON, Dep. Sec'ry.
GOD Save the PEOPLE