The King' s Speech to Both Houses


Thursday, October 26, 1775.

This day the Parliament met at Westminster.

His Majesty being seated on the Throne, adorned with his crown and regal ornaments, and attended by his Officers of State, (the Lords being in their robes,) commanded the Usher of the Black Rod to let the Commons know, "It is his Majesty' s pleasure they attend him immediately in this House." Who being come with their Speaker,

His Majesty was pleased to say:

"My Lords and Gentlemen:

"The present situation of America, and my constant desire to have your advice, concurrence, and assistance, on every important occasion, have determined me to call you thus early together.

"Those who have long too successfully laboured to inflame my people in America, by gross misrepresentations, and to infuse into their minds a system of opinions repugnant to the true constitution of the Colonies, and to their subordinate relation to Great Britain, now openly avow their revolt, hostility, and rebellion. They have raised troops, and are collecting a naval force; they have seized the publick revenue, and assumed to themselves legislative, executive, and judicial powers, which they already exercise in the most arbitrary manner over the persons and properties of their fellow-subjects. And although many of these unhappy people may still retain their loyalty, and may be too wise not to see the fatal consequence of this usurpation, and wish to resist it, yet the torrent of violence has been strong enough to compel their acquiescence till a sufficient force shall appear to support them.

"The authors and promoters of this desperate conspiracy have, in the conduct of it, derived great, advantage from the difference of our intentions and theirs. They meant only to amuse, by vague expressions of attachment to the parent State, and the strongest protestations of loyalty to me, whilst they were preparing for a general revolt. On our part, though it was declared in your last session that a rebellion existed within the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay, yet even that Province we wished rather to reclaim than subdue. The resolutions of Parliament breathed a spirit of moderation and forbearance; conciliatory propositions accompanied the measures taken to enforce authority, and the coercive acts were adapted to cases of criminal combinations amongst subjects not then in arms. I have acted with the same temper, anxious to prevent, if it had been possible, the effusion of the blood of my subjects, and the calamities which are inseparable from a state of war; still hoping that my people in America would have discerned the traitorous views of their leaders, and have been convinced, that to be a subject of Great Britain, with all its consequences, is to be the freest member of any civil society in the known world.

"The rebellious war now levied is become more general, and is manifestly carried on for the purpose of establishing an independent Empire. I need not dwell upon the fatal effects of the success of such a plan. The object is too important, the spirit of the British nation too high, the resources with which God hath blessed her too numerous, to give up so many Colonies which she has planted with great


industry, nursed with great tenderness, encouraged with many commercial advantages, and protected and defended at much expense of blood and treasure.

"It is now become the part of wisdom, and (in its effects) of clemency, to put a speedy end to these disorders by the most decisive exertions. For this purpose I have increased my naval establishment, and greatly augmented my land forces; but in such a manner as may be the least burdensome to my kingdoms.

"I have also the satisfaction to inform you, that I have received the most friendly offers of foreign assistance; and if I shall make any treaties in consequence thereof, they shall be laid before you. And I have, in testimony of my affection for my people, who can have no cause in which I am not equally interested, sent to the garrisons of Gibraltar and Port-Mahon, a part of my Electoral troops, in order that a large number of the established forces of this Kingdom may be applied to the maintenance of its authority; and the national Militia, planned and regulated with equal regard to the rights, safety, and protection of my crown and people, may give a further extent and activity to our military operations.

"When the unhappy and deluded multitude, against whom this force will be directed, shall become sensible of their error, I shall be ready to receive the misled with tenderness and mercy; and in order to prevent the inconveniences which may arise from the great distance of their situation, and to remove, as soon as possible, the calamities which they suffer, I shall give authority to certain persons upon the spot to grant general or particular pardons and indemnities, in such manner, and to such persons as they shall think fit; and to receive the submission of any Province or Colony, which shall be disposed to return to its allegiance. It may be also proper to authorize the persons so commissioned to restore such Province or Colony so returning to its allegiance, to the free exercise of its trade and commerce, and to the same protection and security, as if such Province or Colony had never revolted.

"Gentlemen of the House of Commons:

"I have ordered the proper estimates for the ensuing year to be laid before you; and I rely on your affection to me, and your resolution to maintain the just rights of this country, for such supplies as the present circumstances of our affairs require. Among the many unavoidable ill consequences of this rebellion, none affects me more sensibly than the extraordinary burden which it must create to my faithful subjects.

"My Lords and Gentlemen:

"I have fully opened to you my views and intentions. The constant employment of my thoughts, and the most earnest wishes of my heart, tend wholly to the safety and happiness of all my people, and to the re-establishment of order and tranquillity through the several parts of my dominions, in a close connection and constitutional dependance. You see the tendency of the present disorders, and I have stated to you the measures which I mean to pursue for suppressing them. Whatever remains to be done, that may further contribute to this end, I commit to your wisdom. And I am happy to add that, as well from the assurances I have received, as from the general appearance


of affairs in Europe, I see no probability that the measures which you may adopt will be interrupted by disputes with any foreign power."

Then his Majesty was pleased to retire;

And the Commons withdrew.

The House was adjourned during pleasure to unrobe.