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The power of legislating for us, and of raising a revenue upon the articles of commerce, would be a sufficient degree of slavery. It is absurd to say that Great Britain could not impose heavy burthens on our commerce, without immediately feeling the effect herself. She may enrich herself by reducing us to the most lamentable state of penury and wretchedness. We are already forbid to purchase the manufactures of any foreign countries. Great Britain and Ireland must furnish us with the necessaries we want. Those things we manufacture among ourselves may be disallowed. We should then be compelled to take the manufactures of Great Britain upon her own conditions. We could not, in that case, do without them. However excessive the duties laid upon them, we should be under an inevitable necessity to purchase them. How would Great Britain feel the effects of those impositions, but to her own advantage? If we might withdraw our custom and apply to other nations, if we might manufacture our own materials, those expedients would serve as a refuge to us, and would indeed be a security against any immoderate exactions. But these resources would be cut off. There would be no alternative left us. We must submit to be drained of all our wealth, for those necessaries which we are not permitted to get elsewhere.

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Extraordinary emergencies require extraordinary expedients. The best mode of opposition was that in which there might be a union of councils. This was necessary to ascertain the boundaries of our rights, and to give weight and dignity to our measures, both in Great Britain and America. A Congress was accordingly proposed, and universally agreed to.

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With respect to the justice of submitting to impositions on our trade for the purpose of raising a revenue to support the navy by which it is protected, I answer that the exclusive regulation of our commerce for her own advantage is a sufficient tribute to Great Britain for protecting it. By this means a vast accession of wealth is annually thrown into her coffers. It is a matter of notoriety that the balance of trade is very much against us. After ransacking Spain, Portugal, Holland, the English, French, Spanish, Dutch, and Danish plantations, for money and bills of exchange, as remittances for the commodities we take from Great Britain, we are still always greatly in arrears to her. At a moderate computation, I am well informed that the profits she derives from us every year exceed two millions and a half sterling; and when we reflect that this sum will be continually increasing as we grow more and more populous, it must be evident that there is not the least justice in raising a revenue upon us by the imposition of special duties.

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You tell me: “There is also this reason why we should, at least, have tried the mode of petition and remonstrance, to obtain a removal of the grievances we complain of,—the friends of America and England have strongly recommended it as the most decent and probable means of succeeding.” I wish you had been so kind as to have particularized those friends you speak of. I am inclined to believe you would have found some difficulty in this. There have been some publications in the newspapers, said to be extracts of letters from England; but who are the authors of them? How do you know they were not written in America? or, if they came from England, that the writers of them were really sincere friends? I have heard one or two persons named as the authors of some of these letters; but they were those whose sincerity we have the greatest reason to distrust. The general tenor of advice from those with whose integrity we are best acquainted, has been, to place no dependence on the justice or clemency of Great Britain, but to work our deliverance by a spirited and self-denying opposition. Restrictions on our trade have been expressly pointed out and recommended as the only probable source of redress.

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This mode of expression, so indefinite in itself, shows that the use made of the clause by some ministerial advocates, is by no means natural or warrantable. It could only be intended to set forth the British constitution as a pattern for theirs; and accordingly we find, that upon the arrival of Sir George Yardly in Virginia, soon after this patent was procured, the government was regulated upon a new plan, that it might “resemble the British constitution, composed of two Houses of Parliament and a sovereign. The number of the council was increased, intending this body should represent the House of Lords, while the House of Commons was composed of burgesses, assembled from every plantation and settlement in the country.”

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As to the justice of proceeding in the manner we have done, it must depend upon the of such a mode of conduct. If the British Parliament are claiming and exercising an unjust authority, we are right in opposing it by every necessary means. If remonstrances and petitions have been heretofore found ineffectual (and we have no reasonable ground to expect the contrary at present), it is prudent and justifiable to try other methods, and these can only be restrictions on trade. Our duty to ourselves and posterity supersedes the duties of benevolence to our fellow-subjects in Great Britain, Ireland, and the West Indies.