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Letter to the Inhabitants of the Province of Quebec

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26 Oct. 1774Journals 1:105--131774
''Friends and fellow-subjects'',
These are the rights ''you'' are entitled to and ought at this moment in perfection, to exercise. And what is offered to you by the late [[Act of Parliament]] in their place? Liberty of conscience in your religion? No. God gave it to you; and the temporal powers with which you have been and are connected, firmly stipulated for your enjoyment of it. If laws, divine and human, could secure it against the despotic caprices of wicked men, it was secured before. Are the French laws in ''civil'' cases restored? ''It seems so''. But observe the cautious kindness of the Ministers, who pretend to be your benefactors. The words of the statute are--that those "laws shall be the rule, until they shall be ''varied'' or ''altered'' by any ordinances of the Governor and Council." Is the "certainty and lenity of the ''criminal'' law of England, and its benefits and advantages," commended in the said statute, and said to "have been sensibly felt by you," secured to you and your descendants? No. They too are subjected to arbitrary "''alterations''" by the [[Governor and Council]]; and a power is expressly reserved of appointing "such courts of ''criminal'', ''civil'', and ''ecclesiastical'' jurisdiction, as shall be thought proper." Such is the precarious tenure of mere ''will'', by which you hold your lives and religion. The Crown and its Ministers are impowered, as far as they could be by Parliament, to establish even the ''[[Inquisition]]'' itself among you. Have you an [[Assembly]] composed of worthy men, elected by yourselves, and in whom you can confide, to make laws for you, to watch over your welfare, and to direct in what quantity, and in what manner, your money shall be taken from you? No. The power of making laws for you is lodged in the governor and council, all of them dependent upon, and removeable at, the ''pleasure'' of a Minister. Besides, another late statute, made without your consent, has subjected you to the impositions of ''[[Excise]]'', the horror of all free states; thus wresting your property from you by the most odious of taxes, and laying open to insolent tax-gatherers, houses, the scenes of domestic peace and comfort, and called the castles of English subjects in the books of their law. And in the very act for altering your government, and intended to flatter you, you are not authorized to "assess, levy, or apply any ''rates'' and ''taxes'', but for the inferior purposes of ''making roads'', and erecting and repairing ''public buildings'', or for other ''local'' conveniences, within your respective towns and districts." Why this degrading distinction? Ought not the property, honestly acquired by ''[[Canadians]]'', to be held as sacred as that of ''Englishmen''? Have not Canadians sense enough to attend to any other public affairs, than gathering stones from one place, and piling them up in another? Unhappy people! who are not only injured, but insulted. Nay more!--With such a superlative contempt of your understanding and spirit, has an insolent Ministry presumed to think of you, our respectable fellow-subjects, according to the information we have received, as firmly to perswade themselves that your gratitude, for the injuries and insults they have recently offered to you, will engage you to take up arms, and render yourselves the ridicule and detestation of the world, by becoming tools, in their hands, to assist them in taking that freedom from ''us'', which they have treacherously denied to ''you''; the unavoidable consequence of which attempt, if successful, would be the extinction of all hopes of you or your posterity being ever restored to freedom: For idiocy itself cannot believe, that, when their drudgery is performed, they will treat you with less cruelty than they have us, who are of the same blood with themselves.
[[Image:Montesquieu.jpg|thumb|left|Portrait of Charles de Secondat, baron of Montesquieu]]What would your countryman, the immortal ''[[Montesquieu]]'', have said to such a plan of domination, as has been framed for you? Hear his words, with an intenseness of thought suited to the importance of the subject.--"In a free state, every man, who is supposed a free agent, ''ought to be concerned in his own government'': Therefore the ''legislative'' should reside in the whole body of the ''people'', or their ''representatives''."--"The political liberty of the subject is ''a tranquillity of mind'', arising from the opinion each person has of his ''safety''. In order to have this liberty, it is requisite the government be so constituted, as that one man need not be ''afraid'' of another. When the power of ''making'' laws, and the power of ''executing'' them, are ''united'' in the same person, or in the same body of Magistrates, ''there can be no liberty''; because apprehensions may arise, lest the same ''Monarch'' or ''Senate'', should ''enact'' tyrannical laws, to ''execute'' them in a tyrannical manner."
"The power of ''judging'' should be exercised by persons taken from the ''body of the people'', at certain times of the year, and pursuant to a form and manner prescribed by law. ''There is no liberty'', if the power of ''judging'' be not separated from the ''legislative'' and ''executive'' powers."
What advice would the truly great man before-mentioned, that advocate of freedom and humanity, give you, was he now living, and knew that we, your numerous and powerful neighbours, animated by a just love of our invaded rights, and united by the indissoluble bands of affection and interest, called upon you, by every obligation of regard for yourselves and your children, as we now do, to join us in our righteous contest, to make common cause with us therein, and take a noble chance for emerging from a humiliating subjection under Governors, Intendants, and Military Tyrants, into the firm rank and condition of English freemen, whose custom it is, derived from their ancestors, to make those tremble, who dare to think of making them miserable?
Would not this be the purport of his address? "Seize the opportunity presented to you by Providence itself. You have been conquered into liberty, if you act as you ought. This work is not of man. You are a small people, compared to those who with open arms invite you into a fellowship. A moment's reflection should convince you which will be most for your interest and happiness, to have all the rest of North-America your unalterable friends, or your inveterate enemies. The [[injuries of [[Boston]] have roused and associated every colony, from [[Nova-Scotia]] to [[Georgia]]. Your province is the only link wanting, to compleat the bright and strong chain of union. Nature has joined your country to theirs. Do you join your political interests. For their own sakes, they never will desert or betray you. Be assured, that the happiness of a people inevitably depends on their liberty, and their spirit to assert it. The value and extent of the advantages tendered to you are immense. Heaven grant you may not discover them to be blessings after they have bid you an eternal adieu."
We are too well acquainted with the liberality of sentiment distinguishing your nation, to imagine, that difference of religion will prejudice you against a hearty amity with us. You know, that the transcendant nature of freedom elevates those, who unite in her cause, above all such low-minded infirmities. The [[Swiss Cantons]] furnish a memorable proof of this truth. Their union is composed of [[Roman Catholic]] and [[Protestant States]], living in the utmost concord and peace with one another, and thereby enabled, ever since they bravely vindicated their freedom, to defy and defeat every tyrant that has invaded them.
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