An Address to all the English Colonies of North America


Philadelphia, June 1, 1774.


Remember the fable of the bundle of sticks given by the father to his sons; it could not be broken until it was divided. We must stand or fall together. For the Boston Port Act carries in its principle and effects the certain, if not the immediate destruction of all the liberties of America, the ruin of all our property, and greatly endangers the safety of our persons; its nature is so malignant, and its operations will be so fatal to our whole temporal happiness, that it cannot fail to awaken the attention of all America. The most deliberate wisdom, the steady counsel, and firm resolution of America, never was, and it is hardly conceivable, ever can be more necessary than in this dreadful crisis.

I don' t pretend to be able to comprehend all the evils, or to point out half the consequences of that alarming statute; but a few that occur appear to me to deserve great consideration.

1st. The Legislative power, by which it was enacted, is founded in a direct violation of the most essential and fundamental principle of the English Constitution, viz: that no ENGLISHMAN shall be bound by any law to which he has not consented.

2d. The ordinary object of human laws, is either the attainment of some benefit, resulting therefrom, or the remedy of a mischief. But this is a mere statute of vengeance, wreaked on the Bostonians, for opposing the Parliamentary duty on tea, and is, therefore, a practical proof as well as dreadful sample of the disposition of the British Parliament to hurl mighty destruction against all who


oppose their impositions, whenever it is in their power to cause their resentment to be felt.

3d. The interest ruined by this Act of Parliamentary vengeance is immense, ' tis the trade and navigation of an ancient metropolis of one of the richest and oldest Provinces of English America, whose dignity and merit is second to none on this Continent; whose inhabitants are almost wholly of English descent; whose affections for the English nation, and attachment to Hanoverian succession have been rapturously warm; whose patience and perseverance, whose expense of lives and treasure in commencing and extending the conquests and settlements of English America, all far exceed the utmost claim or boast of any other English Colony. But they oppose the Tea Duty, therefore their merits are forgotten, their honour is laid in the dust; their interest, obtained by long and painful industry to the amount of hundreds of thousands, is ruined; their traitors are cherished and encouraged, their humble and dutiful petitions are rejected, their claims of right, founded in nature, in the English Constitution, and in their Charter, under the sacred sanction of the public faith, are spurned ought of sight with anger and contempt.

4th. The extent and operation of this baneful Act is mostly confined to the harbour of Boston, and its appendages, but its principle extends to every inch of English America. The Bostonians have as good a right to their harbour, their shipping, their wharfs and landing places, as they have to their houses, gardens, streets, commons, country seats, and plantations, and as good a right as the Philadelphians have to theirs, and, therefore, nothing can be more manifest than this, viz: That the same principle, the same power, that can seize on and wrest the one, can, with equal right and authority, seize on and wrest all the others out of the hands and use of their present proprietors, and, therefore, it follows by a consequence, which I dare say the British Parliament don' t mean to deny, that if we presume to oppose any Act they may make, however oppressive and tyrannical we may deem it, or even to affront any peevish officer they may appoint over us, or without any of these, if they should even conceit we affront them, or if, without even such conceit, they should take it into their heads to exercise the absurd plenitude of their power over us, I say, in any of these cases, the same Parliamentary power which has deprived the Bostonians of their harbour, wharfs, landing places, &c˙, can, with equal authority, deprive any and every English Colony on the Continent of theirs, and accordingly send a sufficient force of ships and soldiers to stop every port in them, and put an end to all their navigation and trade; and not that only, but drive them all from their houses, streets, cities, and plantations. I appeal to the public if these are strained consequences, and if the power that can do the one cannot, with equal right, do all the rest.

5th. This fatal Act, as far as it relates to personal covenants and contracts, not only makes void all bills of lading, charter parties, &c˙, relating to vessels and cargoes destined to the port of Boston, and which may arrive there after the first day of June next; but the principle of this manifestly extends to all written contracts and covenants whatsoever, sealed or unsealed; to all deeds of lands, mortgages, indentures, covenants, bonds, bills, notes, receipts, &c˙, for there can be no doubt that the same power which is able to vacate, by sovereign authority, covenants and contracts relative to navigation made by private persons on reasonable and lawful considerations, can vacate also all covenants and contracts relating to inland affairs, so that if we should happen to disapprove of the Tea Duty, the Boston Port Act, or any other law the British Parliament may see fit to make, we may expect soon to be visited with a law from them, vacating all our deeds of lands, indentures of servants, bonds, &c˙, empowering all our servants to run away, and every rascal that pleases to enter on our estates and turn us out of our houses, &c.

6th. This dreadful extent of power is claimed by the British Parliament, on whom we have not the least check, and whose natural prejudices will ever induce them to oppress us — they are not of our appointment, they do not hope for our votes, or fear the loss of them at a future election; they have no natural affection for us; they don' t feel for us; they never expect to see us, and therefore do not court our smiles, or dread meeting our angry countenances.


When they vote away our money, they don' t, at the same time, give that of their own and their best friends with it, but, on the contrary, they ease themselves and their friends of the whole burthen they lay on us, and, therefore, will always have strong inducements to make or burdens as heavy as possible that they may lighten their own. Indeed, in every view of this Act, it appears replete with horrour, ruin, and woe, to all America; it matters not where it begins to operate, no Colony on the Continent is exempt from its dreadful principle, nor can any one that has a seaport avoid its execution. But however ghostly, grinning, and death-like this awful threatening power lowers over us, I doubt not there are means left to America to avoid its effects, and virtue enough to induce every individual to throw aside every little consideration and unite with immoveable firmness in the important business of self-preservation.

We have reason to think this is the last effort of the power that would oppress us; if, it takes place we are undone, undone with our posterity. If we oppose and avoid it, we may still continue to enjoy our liberties, and posterity will look back to this alarming period, and will admire and boast the virtue of their ancestors that saved them from slavery and ruin.