Independence National Historical Park. Reprinted by permission.

The principal part of the deficient five or six millions must be procured by loans from private persons at home and abroad. Every thing may be hoped from the generosity of France which her means will permit, but she has full employment for her revenues and credit in the prosecution of the war on her own part. If we judge of the future by the past, the pecuniary succors from her must continue to be far short of our wants, and the contingency of a war on the continent of Europe makes it possible they may diminish rather than increase.

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Before I proceed to confirm this assertion by the most obvious arguments, I will premise a few brief remarks. The only distinction between freedom and slavery consists in this: In the former state a man is governed by the laws to which he has given his consent, either in person or by his representative; in the latter, he is governed by the will of another. In the one case, his life and property are his own; in the other, they depend upon the pleasure of his master. It is easy to discern which of these two states is preferable. No man in his senses can hesitate in choosing to be free, rather than a slave.

Hamilton, Alexander, 1757–1804.

That Americans are entitled to freedom is incontestable on every rational principle. All men have one common original: they participate in one common nature, and consequently have one common right. No reason can be assigned why one man should exercise any power or preeminence over his fellow-creatures more than another; unless they have voluntarily vested him with it. Since, then, Americans have not, by any act of theirs, empowered the British Parliament to make laws for them, it follows they can have no just authority to do it.

Hamilton’s essays appeared in the October 1778.

Yet this attempt has been made; and it is become, in some measure, necessary to vindicate the conduct of this venerable assembly from the aspersions of men who are their adversaries only because they are foes to America.

Book Design by Erin Kirk New, Watkinsville, Georgia

When the political salvation of any community is depending, it is incumbent upon those who are set up as its guardians to embrace such measures as have justice, vigor, and a probability of success to recommend them. If, instead of this, they take those methods which are in themselves feeble and little likely to succeed, and may, through a defect in vigor, involve the community in a still greater danger, they may be justly considered as its betrayers. It is not enough, in times of imminent peril, to use only possible means of preservation. Justice and sound policy dictate the use of probable means.

The Mahabharata: A Journey to Enlightenment

What, then, is the subject of our controversy with the mother country? It is this: Whether we shall preserve that security to our lives and properties, which the law of nature, the genius of the British constitution, and our charters, afford us; or whether we shall resign them into the hands of the British House of Commons, which is no more privileged to dispose of them than the Great Mogul. What can actuate those men who labor to delude any of us into an opinion that the object of contention between the parent state and the colonies is only three pence duty upon tea; or that the commotions in America originate in a plan, formed by some turbulent men, to erect it into a republican government? The Parliament claims a right to tax us in all cases whatsoever; its late acts are in virtue of that claim. How ridiculous, then, is it to affirm that we are quarrelling for the trifling sum of three pence a pound on tea, when it is evidently the principle against which we contend.

I am now to address myself in particular to the Farmers of New York.

The design of electing members to represent us in general Congress was, that the wisdom of America might be collected in devising the most proper and expedient means to repel this atrocious invasion of our rights. It has been accordingly done. Their decrees are binding upon all, and demand a religious observance.

This argument will be as good as the one I am next going to examine.

We did not, especially in this province, circumscribe them by any fixed boundary; and therefore, as they cannot be said to have exceeded the limits of their authority, their act must be esteemed the act of their constituents. If it should be objected that they have not answered the end of their election, but have fallen upon an improper and ruinous mode of proceeding, I reply by asking, Who shall be the judge? Shall any individual oppose his private sentiment to the united counsels of men in whom America has reposed so high a confidence? The attempt must argue no small degree of arrogance and self-sufficiency.