Benson John Lossing.

Harper's encyclopdia of United States history from 458 A.D. to 1905 (Volume 3) online

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of the republic. It was the preamble of to defend them from oppression and vio-
the Declaration of Independence which lence as the shepherd his sheep; and
elected Lincoln, which sent forth the whereas God did not create the people
Emancipation Proclamation, which gave slaves to their prince, to obey his coin-
victory to Grant, which ratified the Thir- mands, whether right or wrong, but
teenth Amendment. rather the prince for the sake of the sub-
We shall not here attempt to delineate jects (without which he could be no
the influence of this state paper upon prince), to govern them according to
mankind in general. Of course, the equity, to love and support them as a
emergence of the American Republic as an father his children or a shepherd his flock,
imposing world-power is a phenomenon and even at the hazard of life to defend
which has now for many years attracted and preserve them. And when he does not
the attention of the human race. Surely, behave thus, but, on the contrary, op-
no slight effect must have resulted from presses them, seeking opportunities to
the fact that, among all civilized peoples, infringe their ancient customs and privi-
the one American document best known leges, exacting from them slavish compli-
is the Declaration of Independence and a nee, then he is no longer a prince, but a
that thus the spectacle of so vast and tyrant, and the subjects are to consider
beneficent a political success has been him in no other view. And particularly
everywhere associated with the assertion when this is done deliberately, unauthor-
of the natural rights of man. "The doc- izod by the States, they may not only
trines it contained," says Buckle, "were disallow his authority, but legally pro-
not merely welcomed by a majority of the ceed to the choice of another prince for
French nation, but even the government their defence. This is the only method
itself was unable to withstand the gen- left for subjects whose humble petitions
eral feeling." " Its effect in hastening and remonstrances could never soften their
the approach of the French Revolu- prince or dissuade him from his tyran-
tion . . . was indeed most remark- nical proceedings; and this is what the
able." Elsewhere, also, in many lands, law of nature dictates for the defence of
among many peoples, it has been cited liberty, which we ought to transmit to
again and again as an inspiration to po- posterity, even at the hazard of our lives,
litical courage, as a model for political And this we have seen done frequently in
conduct; and if, as the brilliant historian several countries upon the like occasion.
just alluded to has affirmed, " that noble whereof there are notorious instances, and
Declaration . . . ought to be hung more justifiable in our land, which has
III. D. 49



DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, DUTCH

been always governed according to their prince s creatures at devotion; and by
ancient privileges, which are expressed h the addition of the said canons he would
the oath taken by the prince at his ad- have introduced the Spanish inquisition,
mission to the government; for most of which has been always as dreadful and
the provinces receive their prince upon detested in these provinces as the worst
certain conditions, which he swears to of slavery, as is well known, in so much
maintain, which, if the prince violates, he that his imperial majesty, having once
is no longer sovereign. Now thus it was before proposed it to these States, and
with the King of Spain after the demise upon whose remonstrances did desist, and
of the Emperor, his father, Charles the entirely gave it up, hereby giving proof of
Fifth, of glorious memory (of whom he the great affection he had for his sub-
received all these provinces), forgetting jects. But, notwithstanding the many
the services done by the subjects of these remonstrances made to the King both by
countries, both to his father and himself, the provinces and particular towns, in
by whose valor he got so glorious and writing as well as by some principal lords
memorable victories over his enemies that by word of mouth; and, namely, by the
his name and power became famous and Baron of Montigny and Earl of Egmont,
dreaded over all the world, forgetting also vho with the approbation of the Duchess
the advice of his said imperial majesty, of Parma, then governess of the Low
made to him before to the contrary, did Countries, by the advice of the council of
rather hearken to the counsel of those State were sent several times to Spain
Spaniards about him, who had conceived a upon this affair. And, although the King
secret hatred to this land and to its lib- had by fair words given them grounds to
erty, because they could not enjoy posts of hope that their request should be corn-
honor and high employments here under plied with, yet by his letters he ordered
the States as in Naples, Sicily, Milan, and the contrary, soon after expressly com-
the Indies, and other countries under the manding, upon pain of his displeasure, to
King s dominion. Thus allured by the admit the new bishops immediately, and
riches of the said provinces, wherewith put them in possession of their bishop-
many of them were well acquainted, the rics and incorporated abbeys, to hold
said counsellors, I say, or the principal of the court of the inquisition in the places
them, frequently remonstrated to the King where it had been before, to obey and
that it was more for his majesty s reputa- follow the decrees and ordinances of the
tion and grandeur to subdue the Low Conn- Council of Trent, which in many articles
tries a second time, and to make himself are destructive of the privileges of the
absolute (by which they mean to tyran- country. This being come to the knowl-
nize at pleasure), than to govern accord- edge of the people gave just occasion to
ing to the restrictions he had accepted, great uneasiness and clamor among them,
and at his admission sw r orn to observe, and lessened that good affection they had
From that time forward the King of always borne toward the King and his
Spain, following these evil counsellors, predecessors. And, especially, seeing that
sought by all means possible to re- ho did not only seek to tyrannize over
duce this country (stripping them of their their persons and estates, but also over
ancient privileges) to slavery, under their consciences, for which they be-
the government of Spaniards having first, lieved themselves accountable to God only,
under the mask of religion, endeavored to Upon this occasion the chief of the nobil-
settle new bishops in the largest and ity in compassion to the poor people, in
principal cities, endowing and incorporat- the year 1566, exhibited a certain re-
ing them with the richest abbeys, assign- monstrance in form of a petition, humbly
ing to each bishop nine canons to assist praying, in order to appease them and
him as counsellors, three whereof should prevent public disturbances, that it would
superintend the inquisition. By this in- please his majesty (by shewing that
corporation the said bishops (who might clemency due from a good prince to his
be strangers as well as natives) would people) to soften the said points, and
have had the first place and vote in the especially with regard to the rigorous
assembly of the States, and always the inquisition, and onpital punishments for

50



DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, DUTCH



matters of religion. And to inform the
King of this affair in a more solemn man
ner, and to represent to him how neces
sary it was for the peace and prosperity
of the public to remove the aforesaid in
novations, and moderate the severity of
his declarations published concerning di
vine worship, the Marquis de Berghen,
and the aforesaid Baron of Montigny had
been sent, at the request of the said
lady regent, council of state, and of the
States General as ambassadors to Spain,
where the King, instead of giving them
audience, and redress the grievances they
had complained of (which for want of a
timely remedy did always appear in their
evil consequences among the common
people), did, by the advice of Spanish
council, declare all those who were con
cerned in preparing the said remonstrance
to be rebels, and guilty of high treason,
and to be punished with death, and con
fiscation of their estates; and, what s
more (thinking himself well assured of
reducing these countries under absolute
tyranny by the army of the Duke of
Alva ) , did soon after imprison and put
to death the said lords the ambassadors,
and confiscated their estates, contrary to
the law of nations, which has been always
religiously observed even among the most
tyrannic and barbarous princes. And, al
though the said disturbances, which
in the year 1506 happened on the
fore-mentioned occasion, were now ap
peased by the governess and her
ministers, and many friends to lib
erty were either banished or sub
dued, in so much that the King had not
any shew of reason to use arms and vio
lences, and further oppress this country,
yet for these causes and reasons, long
time before sought by the council of
Spain (as appears by intercepted letters
from the Spanish ambassador, Alana, then
in France, writ to the Duchess of Parma),
to annul all the privileges of this coun
try, and govern it tyrannically at pleasure
as in the Indies: and in their new con
quests he has, at the instigation of the
council of Spain (shewing the little re
gard he had for his people, so contrary to
the duty which a good prince owes to his
subjects), sent the Duke of Alva with a
powerful army to oppress this land, who
for hi* inhumane cruelties is looked u^on



as one of its greatest enemies, accom
panied with counsellors too like himself.
And, although he came in without the
least opposition, and was received by the
poor subjects with all marks of honor
and respects, as expecting no less from
him than tenderness and clemency, which
the King had often hypocritically promised
in his letters, and that himself intended
to come in person to give orders to their
general satisfaction, having since the de
parture of the Duke of Alva equipped a
fleet to carry him from Spain, and an
other in Zealand to come to meet him at
the great expense of the country, the bet
ter to deceive his subjects, and allure
them into the toils, nevertheless the said
duke, immediately after his arrival
(though a stranger, and no way related
to the royal family), declared that he had
a captain-general s commission, and soon
after that of governor of these provinces,
contrary to all its ancient customs and
privileges; and, the more to manifest his
designs, he immediately garrisons the
principal towns and castles, and caused
fortresses and citadels to be built in the
great cities to awe them into subjection,
and very courteously sent for the chief
nobility in the King s name, under pre
tence of taking their advice, and to em
ploy them in the service of their country.
And those who believed his letters were
seized and carried out of Brabant, con
trary to law, where they were imprisoned
and prosecuted as criminals before him
who had no right, nor could be a com
petent judge; and at last he, without
hearing their defence at large, sentenced
them to death, which was publicly and
ignominiously executed. The others, bet
ter acquainted with Spanish hypocrisy, re
siding in foreign countries, were declared
outlawries, and had their estates confis
cated, so that the poor subjects could
make no use of their fortresses nor be as
sisted by their princes in defence of their
liberty against the violence of the pope;
besides a great number of other gentle
men and substantial citizens, some of
whom were executed, and others banished
that their estates miffht be confiscated,
plaguing the other honest inhabitants, not
only by the injuries done to their wives,
children, and estates by the Spanish sol
diers lodged in their houses, as likewise



DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, DUTCH

by diverse contributions, which they were payment of the troops. After which
forced to pay toward building citadels and the said troops, made more insolent
new fortifications of towns even to their by the connivance of their command-
own ruin, besides the taxes of the hun- ers, proceeded to open violence, endeavor-
dredth, twentieth and ten the penny, to ing first to surprise the city of Brus-
pay both the foreign and those raised in sels, the prince s usual residence, to
the country, to be employed against their be the magazine of their plunder; but,
fellow-citizens and against those who at not succeeding in that, they took by force
the hazard of their lives defended their the town of Alost, and after that surprised
liberties. In order to impoverish the sub- and forced Maestricht, and soon after the
jects, and to incapacitate them to hinder said city of Antwerp, which they plundered
his design, and that he might with more and burnt, and massacred the inhabitants
ease execute the instructions received in in a most barbarous manner, to the irrep-
Spain, to treat these countries as new arable loss not only of the citizens, but to
conquests, he began to alter the course of all nations who had any effects there. And
justice after the Spanish mode, directly notwithstanding the said Spaniards had
contrary to our privileges; and, imagin- been, by the council of state (upon which
ing at last he had nothing more to fear, the King, after the decease of the great
he endeavored by main force to settle a commander, had conferred the government
tax called the tenth penny on merchandise of the country) in the presence of Jeron-
and manufactury, to the total ruin of imo de Rhoda, declared enemies to the
these countries, the prosperity of which States, by reason of their outrageous vio-
depends upon a flourishing trade, notwith- lences, nevertheless the said Rhoda, upon
standing frequent remonstrances, not by his own authority (or as it is imagined)
a single province only, but by all of them by virtue of certain private instructions
united, which he had effected, had it not which he might possibly have received
been for the Prince of Orange with diverse from Spain, undertook to head the
gentlemen and other inhabitants, who had Spaniards and their accomplices, and to
followed this prince in his exile, most use the King s name (in defiance of the
of whom were in his pay, and banished by said council) and authority, to counterfeit
the Duke of Alva with others who the great seal, and act openly as governor
espoused the liberty of their country, and lieutenant - general, which gave oc-
Soon after the provinces of Holland and casion to the States at the same time to
Zealand for the most part revolted, put- agree with the aforesaid Prince of Orange,
ting themselves under the protection of in conjunction with the provinces of Hol-
the Prince of Orange, against which land and Zealand, w r hich agreement was
provinces the said duke during his gov- approved by the said council of state (as
eminent, and the great commander (whom the only legal governors of the country),
the King sent to these countries, not to to declare war unanimously against the
heal the evil, but to pursue the same tyran- Spaniards as their common enemy, to
nical courses by more secret and cautious drive them out of the country; at the
methods) who succeeded him, forced the same time, like good subjects, making use
provinces, who by garrisons and citadels of all proper applications, humbly peti-
were already reduced under the Spanish tioning the King to have compassion on ac-
yoke, both with their lives and fortunes count of the calamities already suffered,
to conquer them, shewing no more mercy and of the greater expected hourly, unless
to those they employ to assist them than his majesty would withdraw his troops,
if they had been enemies, permitting the and exemplarily punish the authors of the
Spaniards, under pretence of mutiny, to plundering and burning of our principal
enter the city of Antwerp forcibly, in the cities as some small satisfaction to the
sight of the great commander, and to live distressed inhabitants, and to deter others
there at discretion for the space of six from committing the like violences,
weeks at the expense of the inhabitants, Nevertheless, the King would have us be-
and obliging them (to be free from lieve that all this was transacted without
Spanish violence) to furnish the sum of his knowledge, and that he intended tc
four hundred thousand florins for the punish the authors, and that for the future



DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, DUTCH

we might expect all tenderness and clem- terest in order, by their assistance, to

ency, and as a gracious prince would give force those who would not join with him

all necessary orders to procure the public in making war against the Prince of

peace. And yet he not only neglected to Orange, and the provinces of Holland and

do us justice in punishing the offenders; Zealand, more cruel and bloody than any

that, on the contrary, it is plain all was war before. But, as no disguises can long

done by orders concerted in the council conceal our intentions, this project was

of Spain; for soon after the letters were discovered before it could be executed;

intercepted directed to Rhoda and other and he, unable to perform his promises,

captains, who were the authors of all our and instead of that peace so much boasted

miseries, under the King s own hand, in of at his arrival a new war kindled, not

which he not only approves of their pro- yet extinguished. All these considera-

ceedings, but even praises and promises tions give us more than sufficient reason

them rewards, and particularly to the said to renounce the King of Spain, and seek

Rhoda as having done him singular ser- some other powerful and more gracious

vices, which he performed to him and to prince to take us under his protection;

all the rest who were ministers of his and, more especially, as these countries

tyranny, upon his return to Spain. And. have been for these twenty years aban-

the more to blind his subjects, he sent doned to disturbance and oppression by

at the same time Don John, his natural their King, during which time the in-

brother, as of his blood, to govern habitants were not treated as subjects,

these countries, who under pretence but enemies, enslaved forcibly by their

of approving the treaty of Client con- own governors.

firming the promise made to the Having also, after the decease of Don
States of driving out the Spaniards, John, sufficiently declared by the Baron
of punishing the authors of the dis- de Selles that lie would not allow the
turbances, of settling the public peace, and pacification of Ghent, the which Don John
of re-establishing their ancient liberties, bad in his majesty s name sworn to main-
endeavored to divide the said estates in tain, but daily proposing new terms of
order to enslave one after another, which agreement less advantageous. Notwith-
was soon after discovered by the provi- standing these discouragements we used
dence of God, who is an enemy to all all possible means, by petitions in writing,
tyranny, by certain intercepted letters, from and the good offices of the greatest princes
which it appeared that he was charged by in Christendom, to be reconciled to our
the King to follow the instructions of King, having lastly maintained for a long
Rhoda; and, the better to conceal this time our deputies at the Congress of
fraud, they were forbidden to see one an- Cologne, hoping that the intercession of
other, but that he should converse friendly his imperial majesty and of the electors
with the principal lord of the country, would procure an honorable and lasting
that, gaining them over to his party, he peace, and some degree of liberty, particu-
might by their assistance reduce Holland larly relating to religion (which chiefly
and Zealand, after which the other prov- concerns God and our own consciences),
inces would be easily subdued. Whereupon at last we found by experience that noth-
Don John, notwithstanding his solemn ing would be obtained of the King by
promise and oath, in the presence of all prayers and treaties, which latter he
the aforesaid States, to observe the pacifi- made use of to divide and weaken the
cation of Ghent, and other articles stipu- provinces, that he might the easier exe-
lated between him and the States of all cute his plan rigorously, by subduing
the provinces, on the contrary sought, by them one by one, which afterwards plain-
all possible promises made to the colonels ly appeared by certain proclamations and
already at his devotion, to gain the Ger- proscriptions published by the King s
man troops, who were then garrisoned in orders, by virtue of which we and all offi-
the principal fortresses and the cities, cers and inhabitants of the United Prov-
that by their assistance he might master inces with all our friends are declared
them, as he had gained many of them al- rebels, and as such, to have forfeited our
ready, and held them attached to his in- lives and estates. Thus, by rendering us

53



DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE, DUTCH

odious to all, he might interrupt our council of the province. And, until such
commerce, likewise reducing us to despair, a president and counsellors shall be nomi-
offering a great sum to any that would nated, assembled, and act in that capac-
assassinate the Prince of Orange. So, ity, they shall act in our name, except
having no hope of reconciliation, and find- that in Holland and Zealand where they
ing no other remedy, we have, agreeable shall use the name of the Prince of
to the law of nature in our own defence, Orange, and of the States of the said
and for maintaining the rights, privi- provinces till the aforesaid council shall
leges, and liberties of our countrymen, legally sit, and then shall conform to the
wives, and children, and latest posterity directions of that council agreeable to the
from being enslaved by the Spaniards, contract made with his highness. And,
been constrained to renounce allegiance instead of the King s seal aforesaid, they
to the King of Spain, and pursue such shall make use of our great seal, centre-
methods as appear to us most likely seal, and signet, in affairs relating to the
to secure our ancient liberties and privi- public, according as the said council shall
leges. Know all men by these pres- from time to time be authorized. And in
ents that, being reduced to the last ex- affairs concerning the administration of
tremity, as above mentioned, we have justice, and transactions peculiar to each
unanimously and deliberately declared, province, the provincial council and other
and do by these presents declare, that the councils of that country shall use respec-
King of Spain has forfeited, ipso jure, all tively the name, title, and seal of the said
hereditary rights to the sovereignty of province, where the case is to be tried,
those countries, and are determined from and no other, on pain of having all let-
henceforward not to acknowledge his ters, documents, and despatches annulled,
sovereignty or jurisdiction, nor any act And, for the better and effectual perform-
of his relating to the domains of the Low ance hereof, we have ordered and corn-
Countries, nor make use of his name as manded, and do hereby order and corn-
prince, nor suffer others to do it. In con- mand, that all the seals of the King of
sequence whereof we also declare all offi- Spain which are in these United Prov-
cers, judges, lords, gentlemen, vassals, and inces shall immediately, upon the publi-
all other the inhabitants of this country cation of these presents, be delivered to
of what condition or quality soever, to the estate of each province respectively,
be henceforth discharged from all oaths or to such persons as by the said estates
and obligations whatsoever made to the shall be authorized and appointed, upon
King of Spain as sovereign of those peril of discretionary punishment,
countries. And whereas, upon the motives Moreover, we order and command that
already mentioned, the greater part of from henceforth no money coined shall be
the United Provinces have, by common stamped with the name, title, or arms of
consent of their members, submitted to the King of Spain in any of these United
the government and sovereignty of the il- Provinces, but that all new gold and silver
lustrious Prince and Duke of Anjou, upon pieces, with their halves and quarters,
certain conditions stipulated with his shall only bear such impressions as the
highness, and whereas the most serene States shall direct. We order likewise and
Archduke Matthias has resigned the gov- command the president and other lords of



Online LibraryBenson John LossingHarper's encyclopdia of United States history from 458 A.D. to 1905 (Volume 3) → online text (page 8 of 76)