Address of the Sons of Liberty of Montreal to the Young Men of the North American Colonies
When urgent circumstances in the affairs of a country make it necessary for men to form themselves into Parties, or Associations, a proper respect for the opinion of society, demands from them an explicit Declaration of the causes which have induced them to combine, and of the principles which they intend to advance, by the power of their organization.
We consider that, next to the privilege of acting for himself, man possesses, from the very foundation of society, that of uniting his energies with those of his fellow-citizens for all purposes of mutual interest, or defence, and that, therefore, the right of association is as sacred and inalienable, as the right of personal liberty. We hold that governments are instituted for the benefit, and can only exist justly by the consent of, the governed, and whatever may be the artificial changes in human affairs, that a government of choice is an inherent right of the people. It cannot be alienated, and consequently may always be asserted and exercised. All governments being instituted for the benefit of a whole people, & not for the honor or profit of any individual, all pretensions of Divine or absolute authority to rule, claimed by, or for, any man or set of men, are blasphemous and absurd, alike monstrous when inculcated, and degrading when admitted. The authority of a parent state over a colony can exist only during the pleasure of the Colonists; for the country being established and settled by them, belongs to them of right, and may be separated from all foreign connection, whenever the inconveniences resulting from an Executive power residing abroad, ceasing to harmonise with a local Legislature, makes such a step necessary to the inhabitants for the protection of life, liberty, or the pursuit of happiness.
The Young Men's Association of Montreal adopting the title of "THE SONS OF LIBERTY" is not intended to be a private cabal, or a secret junto, but an active Democratic body comprising all young men in the city patriotically alive to the interests of their country, whatever may be their creed, country, or the nation of their ancestors.
The causes which demand, at the present juncture, from all, but more especially from Young Men, coming forward into active life, a heroic devotion to their country's cause, are manifold and imposing.
At the cession of this Province in 1763, with a view to consolidate British power on the banks of the St. Lawrence, certain rights of property, religion and government, were guaranteed to the Canadians, and afterwards more fully confirmed in 1774, when the approaching noble revolt of the American States rendered concessions to the new subjects of empire extremely politic. The brilliant success of those States, and the overwhelming movement of revolution in France, having made England tremble for the safety of her remaining possessions, she passed, in 1791, the Act called the "Constitutional Act," which divided Upper from Lower Canada, and established a Representative Assembly in each. In 1812, conciliation was again rendered necessary, by the declaration of war with the United States. These times of danger have been the seasons of seeming justice to Canada, while the intervening and succeeding periods furnish but one long history of repeated injuries, atrocities, usurpations and wrongs. Thus we have seen British rulers, with a cowardice and a perfidy unworthy of the Representatives of a powerful nation, continuing to allure the people of Canada, by deceptive promises, in times of pressing necessity, and, when the emergency had passed, resorting to every unwarrantable expedient to defer, or avoid the fulfilment of, their solemn engagements.
REMAINING PARAGRAPHS TO BE TRANSCRIBED SOON...
|This text is in the public domain worldwide either because its author died at least 100 years ago or because it was published by a public body. Translations published later may still be copyrighted.|