The Committee of Correspondence of Boston to the Inhabitants of the Province of Quebec

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The Committee of Correspondence of Boston to the Inhabitants of the Province of Quebec
February 21, 1775

BOSTON, Feb 21 1775


At a Time when the British Colonies in North America are universally complaining of the Oppression of a corrupt Administration, the Necessity and Advantage of a free Communication of Sentiments as well as Intelligence must be obvious to all. Hence it is that the Committee of Correspondence appointed by the Town of Boston, have long been sollicitous of establishing a friendly Intercourse with their Brethren and Fellow Subjects in your Province. Having receivd Direction for this important Purpose from our Provincial Congress sitting at Cambridge on the first of this Instant,2 we take the Liberty of addressing a Letter to you Gentlemen, begging you would be assured that we have our mutual Safety and Prosperity at heart. It is notorious to all the Colonies, that at the Conclusion of the last War, a System was formd for the Destruction of our common Rights & Liberties. The Design of the British Ministry was to make themselves Masters of the Property of the Colonists, and to appropriate their Money in such a Manner as effectually to enslave them. The Ministry had influence enough in Parliament to procure an Act, declaratory of a Right in the King Lords and Commons of Great Britain to make Laws binding his Majestys Subjects in America in all Cases whatsoever; and also to pass other Acts for taxing the American Subjects with the express Purpose of raising a Revenue, and appropriating the same for the Support of Civil Government & defraying the Charges of the Administration of justice in such Colonies where his Majesty should think proper. The Principle upon which these Acts was grounded, is in our opinion totally inconsistent with the Idea of a free Government; for there can be no Freedom where a People is governd by the Laws of a Parliament, in which they have no Share and over which they can have no Controul; and if such a Legislature shall give and grant as much of our Money as it pleases without our Consent in Person or by our Representatives what are we but Bond Servants instead of free Subjects? These Revenue Laws have in their operation been grievous to all the Colonies & this in a particular Manner. Our own property has been extorted from us, and applied to the purpose of rendering our provincial & only Legislature an insignificant Body; and by providing for the Executive & judiciary Powers in the Province independent of the People, to place them under the absolute Power & Controul of a Minister of State. Our righteous and stedfast opposition to this System of Slavery, has been artfully held up to our fellow Subjects in Britain as springing from a latent Design to break off all political Connections with the Parent Country and to set up an independent Government among ourselves. The Letters of Bernard, Hutchinson and Oliver have been detected; by which it appears how great a Share they have had in misrepresenting & calumniating this Country, and in plotting the total Ruin of its Liberties, for the Sake of enriching & aggrandising themselves & their families. The two last named were Natives of the Colony, of ancient families in it, and having by Art & Intrigue gaind a considerable Influence over an unsuspecting People, and thereby a reputation in England, they found Means to get themselves advancd to the highest Seats in this Government; and they improvd these Advantages, to put a period to our free Constitution, by procuring an Act of Parliament to disanul the essential parts of our Charter & constitute an absolute despotick Government in its Stead; fourteen regiments are now assembled in this Capital, and Reinforcements are expected, to put this Act into Execution. The People are determined that this shall not be done. They are united & firmly resolvd to withstand it at the utmost Risque of Life and Fortune. A Scene therefore may open soon, unless the Ministry hearken to the Voice of Reason & Justice, which the Friends of Britain and America must deprecate.

In the same Session of the British Parliament the Act for establishing a Government in the Province of Quebeck was passed; whereby our Brethren & fellow Subjects in that Province are deprived of the most valueable Securities of the British Constitution, for which they wisely stipulated, & which was solemnly Guaranteed to them by the Royal Proclamation. These new Governments of Quebeck and Massachusetts Bay, of a kind nearly alike, though before unheard of under a British King, are looked upon by the other Colonies from Nova Scotia to Georgia, as Models intended for them all; they all therefore consider themselves as deeply concernd to have them abolishd; and it is for this Reason, that, although the Advantage of Delegates from your Province could not be had at the late Continental Congress, the Quebeck bill was considerd then not only as an intollerable Injury to the Subjects in that Province but as a capital Grievance on all. It is an inexpressible Satisfaction to us to hear that our fellow Subjects in Canada, of French as well as English Extract, behold the Indignity of having such a Government obtruded upon them with a resentment which discovers that they have a just Idea of Freedom & a due regard for themselves & their Posterity. They were certainly misrepresented in the most shameful Manner, when, in order to enslave them it was suggested that they were too ignorant to enjoy Liberty. We are greatly pleasd to hear that Remonstrances are already sent to the Court & Parliament of Britain against an Act so disgraceful to human Nature, and Petitions for its repeal. We pray God to succeed such noble Exertions, & that the Blessing of a free Government may be establishd there & transmitted to their latest posterity. The Enemies of American Liberty will surely be chagrind when they find, that the People of Quebeck have in common with other Americans the true Sentiments of Liberty. How confounded must they be, when they see those very Peoples upon whom they depended to aid them in their flagitious Designs, lending their Assistance to oppose them, cheerfully adopting the resolutions of the late Continental Congress & joyning their own Delegates in another, to be held at Philadelphia on the l0th of May next. The Accession of that Colony in particular will add great Reputation & Weight to the Common Cause.

We rejoyce in the opportunity of informing you that the Assembly of the Island of Jamaica have warmly espousd our Interest. We have seen a Copy of their Petition to the King in which they declare . . . .

We promise ourselves that great Good will be the Effect of this ingenuous Application in Behalf of the Northern Colonies.

As it is possible you may not have seen the Kings Speech at the opening of the Parliament we inclose it. Lord Dartmouth in a Circular Letter to the Governors in America, a Copy of which we have seen is pleasd to say "The Resolutions of both Houses to support the great CONSTITUTIONAL Principles by which his Majestys Conduct hath been governd, and their entire Approbation of the Steps his Majesty has taken for carrying into Execution THE LAWS PASSED IN THE LAST SESSION, will, I trust, have the Effect to remove the FALSE IMPRESSIONS which have been made upon the Minds of his Majestys Subjects in America, and put an End to those EXPECTATIONS OF SUPPORT in their UNWARRANTABLE PRETENSIONS, which have been held forth by ARTFUL & DESIGNING MEN." Dated Whitehall Decr 20 1774. What Ideas his Lordship has of the Consistency of the Quebec Act with constitutional Principles, which deprives the Subjects in Canada of those darling Privileges of the British Constitution, JURORS and the HABEAS CORPUS Act, and in all Crown Causes, consigns them over to Laws made without their Consent in person or by their Representatives, perhaps by a Governor & Council dependent upon the Crown for their Places & Support, & to be tryed by Judges equally dependent, we will leave to your Consideration. The Boston Port Bill is another act passed the last Session & it is executed with the utmost Rigour. How consistent was it with the great Principles of the Constitution founded on the Laws of Nature & reason, to punish forty or fifty thousand Persons for what was done in all Probability by only forty or fifty. His Lordship may possibly find it very difficult with his superior understanding to prove that the Destruction of the Tea in Boston was, considering the Circumstances of the Action, morally or politically wrong, or, if he must needs think it was so, could his Lordship judge it inconsistent with the Laws of God for a Tribunal to proceed to try condemn and punish even the Individuals who might be chargd with doing it without giving them an opportunity of being heard or even calling them to answer! Such however is the Policy, the Justice of the British Councils. Such his Lordships Ideas of "great constitutional Principles"! Nothwithstanding the great Confidence of the Noble Lord, we still have the strongest "Expectations of Support," not as his Lordship would have it, in the "unwarrantable Pretensions held forth by artful & designing Men," but in the rational & just Claims of every unpensiond & disinterested Man in this extended Continent.

We beg that you will favor the Committee of Correspondence by the return of this Messenger with your own Sentiments and those of the respectable Inhabitants of your Colony; and shall be happy in uniting with you in the necessary Means of obtaining the Redress of our Common Grievances.

We are Gentlemen with sincere good Wishes,

Your Friends & Countrymen,

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