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Her politics,
instead of civilizing, has tended to brutalize mankind, and under the
vain, unmeaning title of "Defender of the Faith," she has made war like
an Indian against the religion of humanity. Her cruelties in the East
Indies will never be forgotten, and it is somewhat remarkable that the
produce of that ruined country, transported to America, should there
kindle up a war to punish the destroyer. The chain is continued,
though with a mysterious kind of uniformity both in the crime and the
punishment. The latter runs parallel with the former, and time and fate
will give it a perfect illustration.

When information is withheld, ignorance becomes a reasonable excuse; and
one would charitably hope that the people of England do not encourage
cruelty from choice but from mistake. Their recluse situation,
surrounded by the sea, preserves them from the calamities of war, and
keeps them in the dark as to the conduct of their own armies. They see
not, therefore they feel not. They tell the tale that is told them and
believe it, and accustomed to no other news than their own, they receive
it, stripped of its horrors and prepared for the palate of the nation,
through the channel of the London Gazette. They are made to believe that
their generals and armies differ from those of other nations, and have
nothing of rudeness or barbarity in them. They suppose them what
they wish them to be. They feel a disgrace in thinking otherwise, and
naturally encourage the belief from a partiality to themselves. There
was a time when I felt the same prejudices, and reasoned from the
same errors; but experience, sad and painful experience, has taught me
better. What the conduct of former armies was, I know not, but what the
conduct of the present is, I well know. It is low, cruel, indolent and
profligate; and had the people of America no other cause for separation
than what the army has occasioned, that alone is cause sufficient.

The field of politics in England is far more extensive than that of
news. Men have a right to reason for themselves, and though they cannot
contradict the intelligence in the London Gazette, they may frame upon
it what sentiments they please. But the misfortune is, that a general
ignorance has prevailed over the whole nation respecting America. The
ministry and the minority have both been wrong. The former was always
so, the latter only lately so. Politics, to be executively right, must
have a unity of means and time, and a defect in either overthrows the
whole. The ministry rejected the plans of the minority while they were
practicable, and joined in them when they became impracticable. From
wrong measures they got into wrong time, and have now completed the
circle of absurdity by closing it upon themselves.

I happened to come to America a few months before the breaking out of
hostilities. I found the disposition of the people such, that they might
have been led by a thread and governed by a reed. Their suspicion was
quick and penetrating, but their attachment to Britain was obstinate,
and it was at that time a kind of treason to speak against it. They
disliked the ministry, but they esteemed the nation. Their idea of
grievance operated without resentment, and their single object was
reconciliation. Bad as I believed the ministry to be, I never conceived
them capable of a measure so rash and wicked as the commencing of
hostilities; much less did I imagine the nation would encourage it.
I viewed the dispute as a kind of law-suit, in which I supposed the
parties would find a way either to decide or settle it. I had no
thoughts of independence or of arms. The world could not then have
persuaded me that I should be either a soldier or an author. If I had
any talents for either, they were buried in me, and might ever have
continued so, had not the necessity of the times dragged and driven them
into action. I had formed my plan of life, and conceiving myself happy,
wished every body else so. But when the country, into which I had just
set my foot, was set on fire about my ears, it was time to stir. It
was time for every man to stir. Those who had been long settled had
something to defend; those who had just come had something to pursue;
and the call and the concern was equal and universal. For in a country
where all men were once adventurers, the difference of a few years in
their arrival could make none in their right.

The breaking out of hostilities opened a new suspicion in the politics
of America, which, though at that time very rare, has since been proved
to be very right. What I allude to is, "a secret and fixed determination
in the British Cabinet to annex America to the crown of England as a
conquered country." If this be taken as the object, then the whole
line of conduct pursued by the ministry, though rash in its origin and
ruinous in its consequences, is nevertheless uniform and consistent in
its parts. It applies to every case and resolves every difficulty.
But if taxation, or any thing else, be taken in its room, there is no
proportion between the object and the charge. Nothing but the whole
soil and property of the country can be placed as a possible equivalent
against the millions which the ministry expended. No taxes raised in
America could possibly repay it. A revenue of two millions sterling a
year would not discharge the sum and interest accumulated thereon, in
twenty years.

Reconciliation never appears to have been the wish or the object of the
administration; they looked on conquest as certain and infallible, and,
under that persuasion, sought to drive the Americans into what they
might style a general rebellion, and then, crushing them with arms
in their hands, reap the rich harvest of a general confiscation, and
silence them for ever. The dependents at court were too numerous to be
provided for in England. The market for plunder in the East Indies was
over; and the profligacy of government required that a new mine should
be opened, and that mine could be no other than America, conquered
and forfeited. They had no where else to go. Every other channel was
drained; and extravagance, with the thirst of a drunkard, was gaping for
supplies.

If the ministry deny this to have been their plan, it becomes them to
explain what was their plan. For either they have abused us in coveting
property they never labored for, or they have abused you in expending an
amazing sum upon an incompetent object. Taxation, as I mentioned before,
could never be worth the charge of obtaining it by arms; and any kind of
formal obedience which America could have made, would have weighed with
the lightness of a laugh against such a load of expense. It is therefore
most probable that the ministry will at last justify their policy by
their dishonesty, and openly declare, that their original design was
conquest: and, in this case, it well becomes the people of England to
consider how far the nation would have been benefited by the success.

In a general view, there are few conquests that repay the charge of
making them, and mankind are pretty well convinced that it can never be
worth their while to go to war for profit's sake. If they are made war
upon, their country invaded, or their existence at stake, it is their
duty to defend and preserve themselves, but in every other light, and
from every other cause, is war inglorious and detestable. But to return
to the case in question--

When conquests are made of foreign countries, it is supposed that the
commerce and dominion of the country which made them are extended. But
this could neither be the object nor the consequence of the present
war. You enjoyed the whole commerce before. It could receive no possible
addition by a conquest, but on the contrary, must diminish as the
inhabitants were reduced in numbers and wealth. You had the same
dominion over the country which you used to have, and had no complaint
to make against her for breach of any part of the contract between
you or her, or contending against any established custom, commercial,
political or territorial. The country and commerce were both your own
when you began to conquer, in the same manner and form as they had been
your own a hundred years before. Nations have sometimes been induced to
make conquests for the sake of reducing the power of their enemies, or
bringing it to a balance with their own. But this could be no part of
your plan. No foreign authority was claimed here, neither was any such
authority suspected by you, or acknowledged or imagined by us. What
then, in the name of heaven, could you go to war for? Or what chance
could you possibly have in the event, but either to hold the same
country which you held before, and that in a much worse condition, or
to lose, with an amazing expense, what you might have retained without a
farthing of charges?

War never can be the interest of a trading nation, any more than
quarrelling can be profitable to a man in business. But to make war with
those who trade with us, is like setting a bull-dog upon a customer at
the shop-door. The least degree of common sense shows the madness of
the latter, and it will apply with the same force of conviction to the
former. Piratical nations, having neither commerce or commodities of
their own to lose, may make war upon all the world, and lucratively
find their account in it; but it is quite otherwise with Britain: for,
besides the stoppage of trade in time of war, she exposes more of her
own property to be lost, than she has the chance of taking from others.
Some ministerial gentlemen in parliament have mentioned the greatness of
her trade as an apology for the greatness of her loss. This is miserable
politics indeed! Because it ought to have been given as a reason for her
not engaging in a war at first. The coast of America commands the West
India trade almost as effectually as the coast of Africa does that of
the Straits; and England can no more carry on the former without the
consent of America, than she can the latter without a Mediterranean
pass.

In whatever light the war with America is considered upon commercial
principles, it is evidently the interest of the people of England not to
support it; and why it has been supported so long, against the clearest
demonstrations of truth and national advantage, is, to me, and must be
to all the reasonable world, a matter of astonishment.



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