A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.

Back to The Second Continental Congress

"Philadelphia, June 14. In Congress, May 26, 1775. To the Oppressed Inhabitants of Canada."

Section Viewing Options NOTE

  • 1
  • 2
overview | large | transcription HELP

Request Reproduction


In CONGRESS, May 26, 1775.

ALARMED by the designs of an arbitrary
Ministry, to extirpate the Rights and Liber-
ties of all America, a sense of common danger,
conspired with the dictates of humanity, in urging
us to call your attention by our late Address to
this very important object.

Since the conclusion of the late war, we have
been happy in considering you as fellow sufferers
with us. As we were both entitled, by the bounty
of an indulgent Creator, to Freedom, and being
both devoted by the cruel edicts of a despotic Ad-
ministration to common ruin, we perceived the
fate of the Protestant and Catholic Colonies to be
strongly linked together, and therefore invited you
to join with us in resolving to be free, and in re-
jecting with disdain the fetters of slavery, however
artfully polished.

We most sincerely condole with you on the
arrival of that day, in the course of which the
Sun could not shine on a single Freeman in all
your extensive dominion. Be assured that you
unmerited degradation has engaged the most un-
feigned pity of your Sister Colonies: And we
flatter ourselves you will not, by tamely bearing
the yoke, suffer that pity to be supplanted by con-

When hardy attempts are made to deprive men
of rights bestowed by the Almighty, when ave-
nues are cut through the most solemn Compacts,
for the admission of despotism; when the plighted
faith of government ceases to give security to loyal
and dutiful Subjects; and when the insidious stra-
tagems and manoeuvres of peace become more ter-
rible than the most sanguine operations of war,
it is high time for them to assert those rights, and
with honest indignation oppose the torrent of op-
pression rushing in upon them.

By the introduction of your present form of
government, or rather form of tyranny, you and
your wives and your children are made slaves. --
You have nothing, that you can call your own,
and all the fruits of your labour and industry may
be taken from you, whenever an avaricious Go-
vernor and a rapacious Council may incline to
demand them. You are liable by their edicts, to
be transported into foreign countries to fight bat-
tles in which you have no interest, and to spill
your blood in conflicts, from which neither honor
or emolument can be derived: Nay, the enjoy-
ment of your very Religion, on the present system,
depends on a legislature, in which you have no
share, and over which you have no controul, and
your Priests are exposed to expulsion, banishment,
and ruin, whenever their wealth and possessions
furnish sufficient temptation. They cannot be
sure that a virtuous Prince will always fill the
throne, and should a wicked or careless King
concur with a wicked Ministry, in extracting the
treasure and strength of your country, it is im-
possible to conceive to what variety and to what
extremes of wretchedness you may, under the pre-
sent establishment, be reduced. -- We are informed
you have already been called upon to waste your
lives in a contest with us. Should you, by a com-
pliance in this instance, assent to your new estab-
lishment, and a war break out with France, your
wealth and your sons may be sent to perish in
expeditions against their islands in the West In-
dies. --

It cannot be presumed, that these considerations
will have no weight with you, or that you are so
lost to all sense of honor. We can never believe,
that the present race of Canadians are so degene-
rated as to possess neither the spirit, the gallantry,
or the courage of their ancestors. You certainly
will not permit the infamy and disgrace of such
pusillanimity to rest on your own heads, and the
consequences of it on your children for ever.

We, for our parts, are determined to live free
or not at all, and are resolved that posterity shall
never reproach us with having brought slaves into
the world.

Permit us again to repeat, that we are your
friends, not your enemies, and be not imposed up-
on by those who may endeavour to create animo-
sities. The taking the fort and military stores at
Ticonderoga and Crown-Point, and the armed
vessels on the Lake, was dictated by the great law
of self-preservation. They were intended to an-
noy us, and to cut off that friendly intercourse and
communication which has hitherto subsisted be-
tween you and us. -- We hope it has given you
no uneasiness, and you may rely on our assurances
that these Colonies will pursue no measures what-
ever, but such as friendship and a regard for our
mutual safety and interest may suggest.

As our concern for your welfare entitles us to

your friendship, we presume you will not, by do-
ing us injury, reduce us to the disagreeable ne-
cessity of treating you as enemies. --

We yet entertain hopes of your uniting with
us in the defence of our common Liberty, and
there is yet reason to believe, that should we join
in imploring the attention of our Sovereign to the
unmerited and unparalleled oppressions of his
American Subjects, he will at length be unde-
ceived, and forbid a licentious Ministry any lon-
ger to riot in the ruins of the Rights of Mankind.

A true Copy from the Minutes,