The Address of the London Working Men's Association to the People of Canada
Friends in the Cause of Freedom:— Brothers under Oppression:— and Fellow-Citizens living in Hope, —
We have witnessed with delight the noble spirit you have evinced against the despotic ordinances and tyrant mandates of your oppressors. Inspired by the justice of your cause, you have nobly begun the glorious work of resistance. May the spirit of perseverance inspire you onward till the basely concocted Resolutions are withdrawn — your constitutional rights and wishes respected — or your independence secured by a charter won by your bravery!
While freemen stand erect in the conscious pride of thinking right and acting well, their honest front will ofttimes scare the tyrant from his purpose, or check his mad career; for experience as taught him that liberty in a smock frock is more than a match for tyranny in armour; but if they chances to crouch submission, or yield but a hair's breadth to his wish, their doom is fixed — for tyrants delight to crush the yielding suppliant slave.
Onward, therefore, brothers, in your struggle — you have justice on your side, and good men's aspirations that you win. Nay, we trust that the wide-spreading information of the present age has so far enlightened the minds and expanded the sympathies of most classes of men, that even the British soldier (cut off and secluded as he is from society), on turning to the annals of atrocious deeds which mark the track of kingly despotism, and more especially those which characterize its career of cruelty against American liberty, when the savage yell, the tomakawk, and the scalping knife were the frightful accompaniments of the bayonet, must blush for his country and his profession.
Yes, friends the cause of DEMOCRACY has truth and reason on its side, and knavery and corruption are alone its enemies.
To justly distribute the blessings of plenty which sons of industry have gathered, so as to bless without satiety all mankind — to expand by the blessings of education the divinely mental powers of man, which tyrants seek to mar and stultify — to make straight the crooked paths of justice, and humanize the laws — to purify the world of all crimes which want and and lust of power have nurtured, — is the end and aim of the Democrat: to act the reverse of this is the creed and spirit of aristocracy. Yet of this later clan are those who govern nations — men whose long career of vice too often forms a pathway to their power — who, when despotic deeds have stirred their subjects up to check their villany, declaim against "sedition," talk of "designing men," and impiously invoke the attributes of Deity to scare them from their sacred purpose.
It gives us great pleasure to learn, friends, that you are not easily scared by proclamation law — by the decree of the junta against a whole nation. Surely you know and feel, though Governor Gosford may not, that "a nation never can rebel." For when the liberties of a million of people are prostrated to the dust at the will of a grasping, despicable minority — when an attempt is made to destroy their representative rights, the only existing bond of allegiance, the only power through which laws can be justly enforced — then has the time arrived when society is dissolved into its original elements, placing each man in a position freely to choose for himself those institutions which are the most consonant to his feelings, or which will best secure to him his life, labour, and possessions. If the mother country will not render justice to her colonies in return of their allegiance — if she will not be content with mutual obligations, but seek to make them the prey of military nabobs and hungry lordlings, executing their decrees with force, she must not be disappointed to find her offspring deserting her for her unnatural absurdities and monstrous cruelty.
Your legislative and executive councils, feeling the great inconvenience of submitting to your constitutional rights, have endeavoured to frown you into compliance by British legislation.
You have wisely questioned such authority, and justly branded their decrees with the infamy they deserve. They now loudly threaten you with Gosford-law of their own enactment. Should you be firm to your purpose (as we think you will), they will have recourse to diplomacy and cunning, they will amuse you with the name of royalty, talk of your youthful Queen's affection for you, and every specious art their craft can dictate. But they will carefully keep back from royal ears the wrongs they have generated — the crimes of open plunder and private peculation which have made the breach between you; they'll tell their garbled tale of "treason & sedition," poisoning the youthful mind to suit their purpose.
Canadian brethren! hear us, though we be only working men:— trust not too much the princely promises when your own ears are the witness; less so, when oceans roll between, and interested chieftains tell the tale. Trust to your righteous cause, and honest deeds to make that cause secure.
We have received, with considerable satisfaction, your resolutions approving of our humble exertions in your behalf — though we did but our duty in endeavouring to arouse the feelings of our fellow men against the injustice we saw was about to be perpetrated on a distant portion of our brethren; and in this we have been successful to a degree we did not anticipate, for we have received letters of approval from considerable bodies of Working Men joining their feelings and sympathies with ours towards you. Do not, therefore, believe that the working millions of England have any feelings in common with your oppressors; if they have not unitedly condemned their infamy, it is that the severity of their own misfortunes and oppressions diverts their attention from those of their neighbours. When the voice of the millions shall be heard in the senate-house, when they shall possess power to decree justice, our colonies will cease to be regarded as nurseries for despots, where industry is robbed to pamper vice.
We beg to congratulate you on the number of choice spirits which the injustice inflicted on your country has called into action. With such leaders to keep alive the sacred flame of freedom, and such devotedness and self-denial as you have evinced from the onset, we augur your success.
Hoping that you will continue to stir up the timid and cheer on the brave — to teach your children to lisp the song of freedom, and your maidens to spurn the hand of the slave — and that you may yet witness the sun of independence smiling on your rising cities, your cheerful homes, tangled forests, and frozen lakes, is the ardent wish of the members of the Working Men's Association.
Signed by the Committee on their behalf,
WILLIAM CUMMING, silversmith,
HENRY VINCENT, compositor,
ARTHUR DYSON, compositor,
JOHN DANSON, cleck,
SERAPHINO CALDERARA, barometer maker,
WILLIAM PEARCE, carpenter,
JAMES JENKINSON, engraver,
ROBERT HARTWELL, compositor,
HENRY MITCHELL, turner,
RICHARD CAMERON, brace maker,
JAMES LAWRENCE, painter,
WILLIAM PEARCE, brass worker,
WILLIAM LOVETT, (cabinet maker) & secretary.
- Reply of the Central and Permanent Committee of the County of Montreal to the Address of the London Working Men's Association
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