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The Petition of Grand American Continental Congress, to the King's Most Excellent Majesty

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THE
PETITION
OF THE
GRAND AMERICAN CONTINENTAL
CONGRESS,
TO THE
KING'S
Most Excellent Majesty.

AMERICA:
BOSTON, Printed and sold at the Printing-Office, near
the MILL-BRIDGE .

[This page is blank.]

The first PETITION, &c.
1774

[A note on the bottom of the page states that the handwritten additions were made by Thomas Pemberton.]

MOST GRACIOUS SOVEREIGN,

WE your majesty's faithful subjects of the colonies of
New-Hampshire, Massachusetts-Bay, Rhode-Island
and Providence plantations, Connecticut, New-York, New-
Jersey, Pennsylvania, the counties of Newcastle, Kent and
Sussex on Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North-Carolina, and
South-Carolina, in behalf of ourselves and the inhabitants of
those colonies, who have deputed us to represent them in ge-
neral congress, by this our humble petition, beg leave to lay our
grievances before the throne.

A standing army has been kept in these colonies, ever since
the conclusion of the late war, without the consent of our as-
semblies ; and this army, with a considerable naval armament,
has been employed to enforce the collection of taxes.

The authority of the commander in chief, and, under him,
of the brigadiers general, has in time of peace, been rendered
supreme in all the civil governments in America.

The commander in chief of all your majesty's forces in
North-America has, in time of peace, been appointed governor
of a colony.

The charges of usual officers have been greatly increased,
and new, expensive, and oppressive officers have been multiplied.

The judges of admiralty and vice-admiralty courts are im-
powered to receive their salaries and fees from the effects con-
demned by themselves.

The officers of the customs are impowered to break open
and enter houses, without the authority of any civil magistrate
founded on legal information.

The judges of courts of common law have been made in-
tirely dependant on one part the legislature for their salaries as
well as for the duration of their commissions.

Councellors, holding their commissions during pleasure, ex-
ercise legislative authority.

Humble and reasonable petitions from the representatives of
the people have been fruitless.

The agents of the people have been discountenanced, and
governors have been instructed to prevent the payment of
their salaries.

Assemblies have been frequently and injuriously dissolved,
and commerce burthened with many useless and oppressive re-
strictions.

By several acts of parliament made in the fourth, fifth,
sixth, seventh, and eighth years of your majesty's reign, duties
are imposed on us, for the purpose of raising a revenue, and
the powers of admiralty and vice-admiralty courts are extend-
ed beyond their ancient limits, whereby our property is taken
from us without our consent ; the trial by jury, in many civil
cases, is abolished ; enormous forfeitures are incurred for slight
offences ; vexatious informers are exempted from paying
damages to which they are justly liable, and opprssive security is
required from owners before they are allowed to defend their
rights.

Both houses of parliament have resolved, that the colonists
may be tried in England for offences alleged to have been
committed in America, by virtue of a statute passed in the
thirty-fifth year of Henry the eighth ; and in consequence
thereof attempts have been made to enforce that statute.

A statute was passed in the twelfth year of your majesty's reign,
directing that persons charged with committing any offence
therein described, in any place out of the realm, may be indicted
and tried for the same in any shire or county within the realm,
whereby inhabitants of these colonies may, in sundry cases
by that statute made capital, be deprived of a trial by their
peers of the vicinage.

In the last session of parliament, an act was passed for
blocking up the harbour of Boston ; another impowering the
governor of the Massachusetts-Bay to send persons indicted for
murder in that province, to another colony, or even to Great-
Britain, for trial, whereby such offenders may escape legal

punishment ; a third for altering the chartered constitution of
government in that province; and a fourth, for extending the
limits of Quebec, abolishing the English, and restoring the
French laws, whereby great numbers of British freemen are
subject to the latter, and establishing an absolute govern-
ment and the Roman Catholic religion throughout those vast
regions that border on the westerly and northerly boundaries of
the free protestant English settlements ; and a fifth for the
better providing suitable quarters for officers and soldiers in his
majesty's service in North-America.

To a sovereign, who "glories in the name of Briton," the
bare recital of these acts must, we presume, justify the loyal
subjects who fly to the foot of his throne and implore his cle-
mency for protection against them.

From this destructive system of colony administration, adopt-
ed since the conclusion of the late war, have slowed those distres-
ses, dangers, fears, and jealousies, that overwhelm your majesty's
dutiful colonists with affliction ; and we defy our most subtle
and inveterate enemies to trace the unhappy differences be-
tween Great-Britian and these colonies, from an earlier period,
or from other causes than war have assigned; had they pro-
ceeded on our part from a restless levity of temper, unjust im-
pulses of ambition, or a [ . . . ] ful suggestions of seditious persons, we
should merit the opprobrious terms frequently bestowed on us
by those we revere. But, so far from promoting innovations,
we have opposed them, and can be charged with no of-
fence, unless it be one to receive injuries and be sensible of them.

Had our creator been pleased to give us existence in a land
of slavery, the sense of our condition might have been miti-
gated by ignorance and habit ; but, thanks be to his adoreable
goodness, we were born the heirs of freedom, and ever enjoyed
our rights under the auspices of your royal ancestors, whose
family was seated on the British throne to rescue and secure a
pious and gallant nation from the popery and despotism of a
superstitious and inexorable tyrant. Your majesty, we are
confident, justly rejoices, that your title to the crown is thus
founded on the title of your people to liberty ; and therefore
we doubt not but your royal wisdom must approve the sensi-
bility that teaches your subjects anxiously to guard the bles-
sing they received from divine providence, and thereby to prove
the performance of that compact which elevated the illustrious
house of Brunswick to the imperial dignity it now possesses.

The apprehension of being degraded into a state of servitude
from the pre-eminent rank of English freeman, while our
minds retain the strongest love of liberty, and clearly forsee
the miseries preparing for us and our posterity, excites emoti-
ons in our hearts which, though we cannot describe, we
should not wish to conceal. Feeling as men, and thinking as
subjects, in the manner we do, silence would be disloyalty.
By giving this faithful information we do all in our power to
promote the great objects of your royal cares, the tranquillity of
your government and the welfare of your people.

Duty to your majesty, and regard for the preservation of
ourselves and our posterity, the primary obligations of nature
and of society, command us to entreat your royal attention,
and as your majesty enjoys the signal distinction of reigning o-
ver freemen, we apprehend the language of freemen cannot be
displeasing. Your royal indignation we hope will rather fall
on those designing and dangerous men, who daringly interpos-
ing themselves between your royal person and your faithful
subjects, and for several years past incessantly employed to dis-
solve the bonds of society, by abusing your majesty's authority,
misrepresenting your American subjects, and prosecuting the
most desperate and irritating projects of oppression, have at
length compelled us, by the force of accumulated injuries,
too severe to be any longer tolerable, to disturb your majesty's
repose by our complaints.

These sentiments are extorted from hearts that much more
willingly would bleed in your majesty's service. Yet so great-
ly have we been misrepresented that a necessity has been al-
ledged of taking our property from us without our consent,
"to defray the charge of the administration of justice, the sup-
port of civil government, and the defence, protection and secu-
rity of the colonies." But we beg leave to assure your majes-
ty, that such provision has been, and will be made for defray-
ing the two first articles as has been and shall be judged, by the
legislatures of the several colonies, just and suitable to their
respective circumstances; and for the defence, protection, and
security of the colonies, their militias, if properly regulated,
as they earnestly desire may immediately be done, would be
fully sufficient, at least in time of peace; and in case of war
your faithful colonists will be ready and willing, as they ever
have been when constitutionally required, to demonstrate their

loyalty to your Majesty, by exerting their most strenuous ef-
forts in granting supplies and raising forces. Yielding to no
British subjects, in affectionate attachment to your majesty's
person, family, and government, we too dearly prize that pri-
vilege of expressing that attachment, by those proofs which
are honourable to the prince who receives them, and to the
people who give them, ever to resign it to any body of men
upon earth.

Had we been permitted to enjoy in quiet, the inheritance
left us by our forefathers, we should at this time have been
peaceably, chearfully and usefully employed in recommending
ourselves by every testimony of devotion to your Majesty, and
of veneration to the state from which we derive our origin.
But though now exposed to unexpected and unnatural scenes
of distress by a contention with that nation, on whose parent-
al guidance on all important affairs, we have hitherto with
filial reverence constantly trusted, and therefore can derive no
instruction in our present unhappy and perplexing circumstan-
ces from any former experience ; yet we doubt not the purity
of our intention and the integrity of our conduct will justify
us at that grand tribunal before which all mankind must sub-
mit to judgment.

We ask but for peace, liberty and safety. We wish not a
diminution of the prerogative, nor do we solicit the grant of
any new right in our favour. Your royal authority over us
and our connection with Great-Britsin, we shall always care-
fully and zealously endeavour to support and maintain.

Filled with sentiments of duty to your majesty and affection
to the parent state, deeply impressed by our education and
strongly confirmed by our reason ; and anxious to evince the
sincerity of these dispositions, we present this petition only to
obtain redress of grievances and relief from fears and jealousies,
occasioned by the system of statutes and regulations adopted
since the close of the late war, for raising a revenue in Ame-
rica, extending the power of courts of Admiralty, and Vice-
Admiralty, trying persons in Great-Britain for offences alledg-
ed to be committed in America, affecting the province of
Massachusetts-bay, and altering the government, and extend-
ing the limits of Quebec, by the abolition of which system, the
harmony between Great-Britain and these colonies, so neces-
sary to the happiness of both, and so ardently desired by the

latter, and usual intercourses, will be immediately restored.

In the magnanimity and justice of your majesty and par-
liament, we confide for a redress of our other grievances, trust-
ing, that when the causes of our apprehensions are removed,
our future conduct will prove us not unworthy of the regard
we have been accustomed in our happier days to enjoy. For
appealing to that Being who thoroughly searches the hearts of
his creatures, we solemnly profess, that our councils have
been influenced by no other motive than a dread of impending
destruction.

Permit us then, most gracious sovereign, in the name of all
your faithful people in America, with the utmost humility to
implore you, for the honour of Almighty God, whose pure re-
ligion our enemies are undermining ; for your glory, which can
be advanced only by rendering your subjects happy, and keep-
ing them united ; for the interest of your family depending
on an adherance to the principles that enthroned it ; for the
safety and welfare of your kingdoms and dominions threatned
with almost unavoidable dangers and distresses : That your
Majesty, as the loving father of your whole people, connected
by the same bands of law, loyalty, faith and blood, though
dwelling in various countries, will not suffer the transcendent
relation formed by these ties, to be farther vioiated, in un-
certain expectation of effects, that if attained, never can
compensate for the calamities through which they must be
gained.

We therefore most earnestly beseech your majesty, that your
royal authority and interposition may be used for our relief,
and that a gracious answer may be given to this petition

.

That your majesty may enjoy every felicity, through a long
and glorious reign, over loyal and happy subjects, and that
your descendants may inherit your prosperity and dominions,
till time shall be no more, is, and always will be, our sincere
and fervent prayer.