Address to the Inhabitants of the Province of South Carolina



Charlestown, July 4, 1774.

GENTLEMEN: The hour is approaching, the determination of which will affect posterity to the remotest generation. An unparalleled stretch of arbitrary power has lately taken away the chartered privileges of a sister Colony, and granted to his Majesty the property of thousands against whom nothing had been proved. The same Ministerial tools who refused to admit the Letters of Hutchinson and Oliver to be evidence in support of the Assembly' s Petition against them, have condemned a whole town unheard, on the sole evidence of their private Letters. The last evening of May, thousands of brave Americans lay down possessed of lands, wharfs, &c˙, confirmed by Royal Charters; the rising sun of the ensuing day beheld them stripped of all legal right to those possessions. The loyal sufferers supplicate our aid, to concert some general plan of conduct. An auspicious day will soon behold the numerous Sons of Liberty assemble at her call.

Give me leave to present to your view our happy situation before the year 1765. When money or troops were wanted, a requisition was made to our Assemblies, whose compliances in general did them great honour, particularly in the last war, when they were supposed to have contributed more than their quota. A mutual confidence reigned between British subjects on both sides of the Atlantick. Taxation being mutually acknowledged to reside in the Deputies of each, and legislation in the Parliament of Great Britain. Within these few years, such is the encroaching nature of power, they began, for the first time, to lay taxes for the raising of a revenue. Hence the accursed Stamp Act, Declaratory Act, and the imposition of duties on paper, paints, glass, tea, &c. The Americans, determined to oppose the raising a revenue of them by Representatives they never chose, agreed to parry the Tea Act, by stopping the importation of it. The Ministry, unwilling thus to be baulked, request the aid of the East India Company. They, knowing the measure to be dangerous, because it was unjust, hesitate; but, after they were indemnified from all losses, they undertake to export large cargoes of tea, loaded with a duty for the raising a revenue, to be paid in our ports, with our money. In what light is the East India Company to be considered in this matter? As merchants trading here under the sanction of the law of nations, or as a banditti hired to attack our privileges? In what light could the Americans consider their commodity? As the sacred property of the honourable trader? No; but as an engine by which the enemies of America meant to subvert its privileges. Tea, so circumstanced, brought with such a design, so involved in the dispute, lost the sacred sanction of common property, and may figuratively be said to have changed its nature, and become an instrument of war. In this view of the matter, the Bostonians seem to have done no more than the spirited traveller who breaks the sword or pistol of a robber presented to the breast. Pardon the comparson, ye pensioned hirelings of power, though interest blinds your eyes, the free-born sons of America know, that, notwithstanding the vast Atlantick rolls between, a subject born in this Continent has a constitutional right to the same privileges as if he had received his first existence in the Island of Great Britain; and that, of consequence, no power on earth has any more right to demand his money,


without his consent, than the assassin who robs on the highway. They also know, that Great Britain claims a right of obliging the Colonists to buy manufactures of none but British merchants; and that, of consequence, a duty laid on them for raising a revenue, is a tax to all intents and purposes.

Figure to yourselves, my countrymen, the abject situation you are in. It is inconvenient to manufacture for yourselves; indeed Great Britain says you shall not, as in her prohibition of slitting mills, and the transporting of any American woollen manufactures whatsoever, or hats, by land or water, from one Colony to another, she also commands you to buy from her. How complete, then, is your slavery, if she has a right to lay taxes at pleasure on those articles of commerce, which she will neither permit you to make for yourselves, nor buy from any but herself? This short review of the dispute evinces the justice of our opposition to the payment of taxes on British manufactures. By tamely submitting to this usurped claim, you not only reduce yourselves to be tenants at will to the British House of Commons, but also lay a foundation for overturning the Constitution of England, herself. Her excellent form of Government is supported on the tripple pillars of Kings, Lords, and Commons; either of these being defective or overgrown, the fabrick will at least totter, if not tumble. The Americans, in one century, will exceed the inhabitants of England. If, then, their property should be at the disposal of the House of Commons, they will grow too strong for the other branches of Legislature, and erect a Government of five hundred and fifty-eight tyrants in the place of the present admirably equipoised Constitution.

From what has been said, it appears, that the duty on tea is founded on the same principles with the Stamp Act, and ought to be opposed with equal firmness. America, through a long tract of two thousand miles, remonstrated against the precedent, and resolved that the tea should sooner be destroyed than landed. Hapless Boston! Not one whit more guilty than the other towns, thy fate was predetermined! Thou wert deliberately ensnared, that thou mightest be superlatively punished. Delenda est Carthago, was the motto of thine enemies. Thou didst break the dagger that was pointed at the heart of American liberty, and therefore the property of the innocent, as well as the guilty, has been ravished from them, and their lives made to depend on those "whose tender mercies are cruelty."

Here let me pause, and ask, why is the attack made on only one Province, when all are equally guilty? Divide and destroy, is the only answer which can be given. Why are they punished so much beyond the demerit of the offence? To intimidate every American who would dare to dispute the omnipotence of Parliament. Why is the duty on tea so warmly supported, when it scarcely pays the cost of collecting? Not for the trifling sum of three pence a pound, but to establish a precedent to tax us at pleasure. Yes, my countrymen, you may depend on it, a design is formed against your liberties; and that, one by one, you will be victims to Ministerial despotism, unless you unite in the most vigorous self-denying opposition. The exhausted treasury of England is unequal to the


support of the increasing number of placemen and pensioners, and therefore they would fain augment their resources by plundering the fair possessions which your industrious forefathers have hewn out of the wilderness of uncultivated America. Golden showers have rained down on the abettors of these accursed schemes, and disgrace fallen on every honest man who opposed them. Witness the promotion of Bernard, Oliver, and the expectations of Hutchinson. Pardon me, illustrious Franklin! if I mention thy venerable name in the same unhallowed page which is stained with those of Hutchinson and Bernard. Though you disarmed the Heavens of her thunder, and taught the lightnings to play harmless around our heads, yet, because you opposed the subjugation of your native land, therefore you have been disgraced.

Suppose the Bostonians were wrong in destroying the tea; we should vigorously unite against the present measure, as that mode of punishment is a fatal precedent. If a few people, even if the whole town was guilty, will this justify the taking the Charter from the whole Colony? If restitution was to be made, is that a sufficient reason that the lands, wharfs, and property of thousands, should be given to the King for ever? If these Acts of Parliament are suffered to operate, landholders may consign the deeds by which they hold their property to the tallow chandlers and pastry cooks. If the security of property is the object, why is it not tried at common law? No, my countrymen, nothing less is designed than to beggar three or four worthy patriots of that town, new-model their Constitution, and establish a precedent for the enslaving this free country. Do you need arguments to prove that it is a common cause, and that we should all unite, heart and hand, in some vigorous measures of opposition? Surely no. Methinks I hear almost every one resolve, that tyranny and injustice should not enter in till the body of the last freeman lies in the breach. Sorry am I to hear, that some, insulting the misery of the Bostonians, ludicrously compare them to a fox, "who, having lost his tail, largely inveighed against the use of tails, and persuaded the other foxes to cut off theirs." Ye assassins of America! (for I cannot forbear,) who, though you have received your existence from her indulgence, trample on her rights! What name shall I give you? Ye are not men; for, is it manly to hug yourselves in wanton ease, unconcerned at the sufferings of your brethren, bleeding in the common cause! Ye are not brutes! for "the ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master' s crib; but ye neither know nor consider." The surly dog will lick the hand and fawn upon the man who gives him bread; but you, more ungrateful, join in the most unnatural opposition to that country, the bounty of which enables you to bask in the sunshine of prosperity. I trust, my countrymen, you have too much good sense to be influenced by such unfeeling wretches, and that neither ease nor interest will deter you from affording vigorous assistance to your injured brethren. At your proposed meeting, make the plan of operation as perfect as possible. Perhaps it is the last time you will be indulged the liberty of consulting together, on pain of being fired upon, by malicious men, privileged to murder. A Ministerial Parliament has made it unlawful for your neighbours to assemble; and many reasons make it highly probable that this is but act one of the begun tragedy of American liberty. I would, therefore, recommend to you the passing of some resolves on the late oppressive Acts of Parliament; the choosing of Deputies for a general Congress; the entering into solemn agreement not to import goods; (a very few articles excepted;) the appointment of Committees to procure subscriptions to this agreement, and to enforce the observance of it; and also to collect money for the suffering poor in Boston and amongst yourselves. These measures are hard; but unless we willingly impose them on ourselves, much harder are likely to be imposed by our unrighteous task-masters. I repeat it again, (for it cannot be too often insisted upon,) that all evils of this kind fly up, and kick the beam, when weighed against the consequences of our giving up the point. What though you should be obliged to wear the same garb your slaves hitherto have done, or though every fourth man, thrown out of business, should be supported by the liberal and wealthy. Better to remain in this State, calling the little we have our own, than to commit


treason against the Majesty of Heaven, by tamely acknowledging the claim of Parliament to dispose of your houses, lands, wharfs, money, and even your lives, at their discretion.

The inconveniencies of non-importation, however discouraging they may appear to the imagination of the timid, shrink into nothing when compared with those it will prevent. The planters are greatly in arrears to the merchants; a stoppage of importation would give them all an opportunity to extricate themselves from debt. The merchants would have time to settle their accounts, and be ready with the return of liberty to renew trade. We can live independent, as our country abounds with all things necessary for our support. Who that has the spirit of a man, but would rather forego the elegancies and luxuries of life, than entail slavery on his unborn posterity to the end of time? If gentlemen of influence lead the way, the honest industrious patriot will appear more graceful in sober homespun, than the gayest butterfly dressed in all his gaudy decorations. Nothing but custom makes the curl-pated beau a more agreeable sight with his powder and pomatum, than the tawney savage with his paint and bear' s grease. Too long has luxury reigned amongst us, enervating our constitutions and shrinking the human race into pigmies. "Hysterick and hypochondriack diseases, were formerly confined to the chambers of the great, are now to be found in our kitchens and workshops." Our gray-headed fathers tell us, that, in the present generation, there is a sensible diminution of the strength and stature of their predecessors, "who nobly independent lived."

Let us, then, be content to eat, and drink, and wear, what our country can afford, at least till it is determined whether we are to work for ourselves, or the devouring bloodsuckers of another quarter of the globe. Thus circumstanced, a non-importation agreement will not only prove a means of restoring our liberty, but also be productive of many salutary purposes.

The number of people in England has been computed to be equal to seven millions, and that the cultivation of the land cannot employ more than every seventh man, the other, six millions being supported by manufacturing. Writers on trade suppose that America consumes nearly one half of their wares, and, therefore, virtually supports almost three millions of the inhabitants of that Island. By a strict observance of a prudent non-importation agreement, we can reduce this number to a starving condition; and if non-exportation should also take place, it would lessen the revenue two millions sterling a year. Thus, Hannibal like, we can plant the war in our oppressor' s country. Think with yourselves, my countrymen, how confidently you may expect redress, when you have the eloquence of three millions of such miserable subjects pleading in your behalf! A despotic Ministry has been deaf to your cries; but how can they be deaf to the cries of so many of their own subjects pinched with poverty and hunger? Will it suffice that Lord North should exhort them to patience till he subjugates three millions of free born Americans? Surely no. Something more than bare words and empty promises is necessary to satisfy the inexorable cravings of a hungry belly. In vain has Chatham plead, in vain has Camden exhausted the powers of language in demonstrating our right of exemption from Parliamentary taxation; but not in vain will these pinched millions plead. If we can subdue pride and luxury in ourselves, and withhold our commerce, in six months we can distress the West Indies and Great Britain, so that the cry of famine, re-echoed from thousands, rising in mobs, will oblige the Parliament to adopt other measures. These are the constitutional weapons with which we can fight the enemies of our Continent. Courage, then, my countrymen. Remember the success that crowned your opposition to the Stamp Act. Unanimity and perseverance, in our good cause, will make us invincible. Think of your ancestors who fled from tyranny and persecution to this uncultivated land, fearing less from savage beasts and savage men, than slavery, the worst of savages. By their industry this wilderness has blossomed as a rose. Will you tamely suffer your possessions, improved by their labour, and bought with their blood, to be wrested from you, and given to placemen and pensioners? Think of


your posterity, and transmit to them the fair inheritance of liberty, handed down from your glorious progenitors. Kindle with the complicated idea, and, upon this trying occasion, sacrifice every private consideration to the publick good.

When I review the annals of the world, I am constrained to believe that great things await America. When Liberty was well nigh banished from every quarter of the globe, she found an asylum in this savage land. Learning, liberty, and every thing that ennobles the human mind, have constantly been travelling westward. I never can believe, that in this sacred land slavery shall be so soon permitted to erect her throne on the ruins of freedom. It is contrary to the analogy of things, which gradually have their rise, progress and declension. Be firm, be of one mind; abandon luxury and indolence, encourage industry and frugality. Choose your Deputies for a general Congress; solemnly enter into a non-importation agreement, and religiously adhere to it. Thus persevering, as sure as God is in Heaven you will obtain a speedy redress of all your grievances.



* In the year 1690, New England alone furnished three thousand troops, and forty transports, against Canada. They sent six thousand men, under General Hill, for the same purpose, in Queen Anne' s wars. In 1739, they raised four thousand men to serve against Carthagena. In 1746, they alone made a conquest of Cape Breton. In 1759, at the request of Admiral Saunders, sailing against Quebeck, they sent him a number of their best sailors, who served in the fleet during the remainder of the war. They also sent a large body of troops, under the command of General Lyman, to the Havana. All this they did willingly.

* I reject the division of taxes into external and internal. Any duty laid to raise a revenue is properly a tax. What is commonly called an external tax, is no more than a regulation of trade; and though the revenue might be accidentally increased by such regulations, they are very different from duties laid expressly to raise money.

† Many things make this probable. Admiral Montagu, writing concerning the destruction of the tea, has these words: "During the whole of the transaction, neither the Magistrates, owners, nor revenue officers, ever called for my assistance; if they had, I could easily have prevented the execution of the plan." Why did Hutchinson necessitate the destruction of the tea by the refusal of a pass? His letters complaining of their Charter; the clauses in the Bill designed to impoverish Hancock, Rowe, &c˙, and many other things, make it highly probable that the whole was a premeditated juggle between Hutchinson and the Ministry.

‡ The expense of the American Board of Commissioners is between four and five thousand pounds a year; and yet, says the Author of "The Regulations of the Colonies," the whole remittance from all the taxes in the Colonies before this establishment, at an average of thirty years, did not amount to one thousand nine hundred pounds a year. The smallness of this sum proves that these duties were regulations of trade; and the coeval existence of the new Revenue Laws, and the Board of Commissioners, make it obvious to every man that the trifling tax on tea is designed only to try our temper, and to prepare the way for much heavier.