Samuel Adams.

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ously known that this Proteus ( during the passage )
left no stone unturned to poison the minds of every
officer on board ; particularly his two Brethren ;
who by the time they arrived in Boston, were charged
so high with prejudice and resentment against the
People ( though never here before ) that from their
first landing they did not even condescend to treat
the principal people in the place with common
decency This, assuredly was setting out with the
utmost propriety for the good of the service ; and
such men, undoubtedly, are very fit instruments to
promote the public good : Indeed, if conducting
themselves with a bearish insolence and intolerable
haughtiness is to be the standard of their merit, I
don t think, if Great-Britain was to be searched, two
abler officers could be found, for the purpose. Will
those Gentlemen have effrontery enough to contradict


this ? Can they deny that their whole forte (from
their first sitting) was to enter into and make a
party against particular persons ? Have they not
spent the major part of their time in politics and
cabals ? Had they not several private meetings
( before their unaccountable flight for Castle William)
of such a secret and important nature as to have a
man with a drawn sword to guard their door ? Did
they not turn out several worthy honest officers,
merely to affront the person who had appointed
them and to irritate the people ? But those are
strictures I shall dwell upon at large hereafter.


[Boston Gazette, December 12, 1768.]


IT is a very improbable supposition, that any peo
ple can long remain free, with a strong military
power in the very heart of their country : Unless
that military power is under the direction of the
people, and even then it is dangerous. History,
both ancient and modern, affords many instances of
the overthrow of states and kingdoms by the power
of soldiers, who were rais d and maintain d at first,
under the plausible pretence of defending those very
liberties which they afterwards destroyed. Even
where there is a necessity of the military power,
within the land, which by the way but rarely happens,
a wise and prudent people will always have a watch
ful & a jealous eye over it ; for the maxims and rules

1 768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 265

of the army, are essentially different from the genius
of a free people, and the laws of a free government.
Soldiers are used to obey the absolute commands of
their superiors : It is death for them, in the field,
to dispute their authority, or the rectitude of their
orders ; and sometimes they may be shot upon the
spot without ceremony. The necessity of things
makes it highly proper that they should be under the
absolute controul of the officer who commands them ;
who saith unto one come, and he cometh, and to
another go, and he goeth. Thus being inured to
that sort of government in the field and in the time
of war, they are too apt to retain the same idea, when
they happen to be in civil communities and in a time
of peace : And even their officers, being used to a
sort of sovereignty over them, may sometimes forget,
that when quartered in cities, they are to consider
themselves & their soldiers, in no other light than
as a family in the community ; numerous indeed,
but like all other families and individuals, under the
direction of the civil magistrate, and the controul of
the common law Like them, they are to confine their
own rules and maxims within their own circle ; nor
can they be suppos d to have a right or authority to
oblige the rest of the community or any individuals,
to submit to or pay any regard to their rules and
maxims, any more than one family has to obtrude
its private method of ceconomy upon another.

It is of great importance, and 1 humbly conceive
it ought to be the first care of the community, when
soldiers are quartered among them, by all means to
convince them, that they are not to give law, but to


receive it : It is dangerous to civil society, when the
military conceives of it self as an independent body,
detach d from the rest of the society, and subject to
no controul : And the danger is greatly increased
and becomes alarming, when the society itself yields
to such an ill grounded supposition : If this should
be the case, how easy would it be for the soldiers, if
they alone should have the sword in their hands, to
use it wantonly, and even to the great annoyance and
terror of the citizens, if not to their destruction.
What should hinder them, if once it is a given point,
that the society has no law to restrain them, and they
are dispos d to do it ? And how long can we imagine
it would be, upon such a supposition, before the
tragical scene would begin ; especially if we consider
further, how difficult it is to keep a power, in its
nature much less formidable, and confessedly limited,
within its just bounds ! That constitution which
admits of a power without a check, admits of a tyr
anny : And that people, who are not always on their
guard, to make use of the remedy of the constitution,
when there is one, to restrain all kinds of power, and
especially the military, from growing exorbitant,
must blame themselves for the mischief that may
befall them in consequence of their inattention : Or
if they do not reflect on their own folly, their pos
terity will surely curse them, for entailing upon them
chains and slavery.

I am led to these reflections from the appearance
of the present times ; when one wou d be apt to
think, there was like to be a speedy change of the
civil, for a military government in this province. No

1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 267

one I believe can be at a loss to know, by whose in
fluence, or with what intentions, the troops destin d
for the defence of the colonies, have been drawn off,
so many of them, from their important stations, and
posted in this town. Whether they are to be con-
sider d as marching troops, or a standing army, will
be better determined, when the minister who has
thus dispos d of them, or G. B d, or the Commis
sioners of the customs, if he or they sent for them,
shall explain the matter ; as they who did send for
them, assuredly will, to Britain and America. I dare
challenge them, or any others to prove that there
was the least necessity for them here, for the pro-
fess d purpose of their coming, namely to prevent
or subdue rebels and traitors : I will further ven
ture to affirm, that he must be either a knave or
a fool, if he has any tolerable acquaintance with the
people of this town and province, nay, that he must
be a traitor himself who asserts it. I know very well,
that the whole continent of America is charg d by
some designing men with treason and rebellion, for
vindicating their constitutional and natural rights :
But I must tell these men on both sides the atlantic,
that no other force but that of reason & sound argu
ment on their part, of which we have hitherto seen
but precious little, will prevail upon us, to relinquish
our righteous claim : Military power is by no means
calculated to convince the understandings of men :
It may in another part of the world, affright women
and children, and perhaps some weak men out of
their senses, but will never awe a sensible American
tamely to surrender his liberty. Among the brutal


herd the strongest horns are the strongest laws ; and
slaves, who are always to be rank d among the ser
vile brutes, may cringe, under a tyrant s brow : But
to a reasonable being, one I mean who acts up to his
reason, there is nothing in military atchievement, any
more than in knight errantry, so terrifying as to in
duce him to part with the choicest gift that Heaven
bestows on man.

But whatever may be the design of this military
appearance ; whatever use some persons may intend
and expect to make of it : This we all know, and
every child in the street is taught to know it ; that
while a people retain a just sense of Liberty, as
blessed be God, this people yet do, the insolence of
power will for ever be despised ; and that in a city,
in the midst of civil society, especially in a time of
peace, soldiers of all ranks, like all other men, are to
be protected, govern d, restrain d, rewarded or pun- \
ish d by the Law of the Land.


[Boston Evening Post, December 19, 1768.]

CANDIDUS informs the Public, that the Reason he
has not as yet favored them with the genuine history
of Shan ap Morgan Shentleman of Wales, is the great
difficulty he finds in ascertaining the true genealogy of
that Gentleman ; being thoroughly sensible of the
absolute necessity of a very nice scrutiny in this par
ticular ; the Gentlemen of that Country being always

1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 269

very tenacious of their Petigry : but makes not the
least doubt he shall be able to publish it with some
very curious anecdotes to the satisfaction of both
Shan ap Morgan Shentleman of Wales, and the public,
in a very little time.

[Boston Gazette, December 19, 1768.]

THE raising and keeping a standing army within
the kingdom, in a time of peace, unless it be with the
consent of Parliament, is Against Law. This is a
declaration of the Right of every British subject,
solemnly recogniz d by the parliament, immediately
after the glorious revolution by William the third.
It stands recorded, as one of the first things done,
after that friend to the common Rights of mankind,
that great deliverer of the nation from popery and
slavery, and his royal consort were fixed on the
throne : When the constitution was again restored
and settled on its own basis, which indeed is the only
true basis of all government, the laws of God and
nature. -For government is an ordinance of Heaven^ -
design d by the all-benevolent Creator, for the general
happiness of his rational creature, man. >

The consent of parliament necessarily implies the
consent of the people : For the people are always
present in parliament by themselves or their repre
sentatives. I know very well, that some of the late
contenders for a right in the British parliament to


the Americans, who are not and cannot be repre
sented there, have denied this : When pressed with
that fundamental principle of nature and the con
stitution, thatAvhat is a man s own, is absolutely his
own, and that no man can have a right to take it
from him without his consent, they have alleg d &
would fain have us believe, that by far the greater
part of the people in Britain, are excluded the Right
of chusing their representatives and yet are taxed ;
and therefore that they are taxed without their con
sent. Had not this doctrine been repeatedly urged,
I should have thought the bare mentioning it would
have opened the eyes of the people there, to have
seen where their pretended advocates were leading
them: \That m order to establish a right in the
people in England to enslave the colonists, under a
plausible shew of great zeal for the honor of the
nation, they are driven to a bold assertion at all
adventures, that truly the greater part of the nation
are themselves subject to the same yoke of bondage.
What else is it but saying that the greater part of the
people in Britain are slaves ? For if the fruit of all
their toil and industry, depends upon so precarious a
tenure, as the will of a few, what security have they
for the utmost farthing ? What are they, but slaves,
delving with the sweat of their brows, not for the
benefit of themselves, but their masters ? After all
the fine things that have been said of the British con
stitution, and the boasted freedom and happiness of
the subjects who live under it, will they thank these
modern writers, these zealous assertors of the honor
of the nation, for reducing them to a state, inferior

1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 271

to that of indented servants, who generally contract
for a maintenance at least, for their labor. }

Whatever air of significance these gentlemen may
put on, their assertion, made with so much seeming
gravity, I believe, when examined, will appear to be
without the least foundation in reason : It is against


the plain and obvious rule of equity, whereby the
industrious man is intitled to the fruits of his indus
try : It weakens the best cement of society, as it
renders all property precarious : And it destroys the
very end for which alone men can be supposed to
submit to civil government, which is not for the sake
of exalting one man, or a few men, above their equals,
that they may be maintained in splendour and great
ness ; but that each individual, under the joint protec
tion of the whole community, may be the Lord of his
own possession, and sit securely under his own vine. J
The assertion, that the greater part of the people of
England are excluded a representation of their own
free election, is so far from being the truth, that the
contrary is indisputably evident from the whole tenor
of the common law, and divers acts of Parliament,
recognizing & confirming the same ; wherein it is ex
pressly declared, that every individual within the
realm, is present in parliament, in person, or by a
representative of his own free election. If any one
should doubt of the truth of a proposition so much
contended for, as weir as gloried in, by every sensible
Briton, I would refer him to my Lord Coke, 2 Inst.
for his satisfaction. If then, one essential part of
the parliament consists of the representatives of the
whole commonalty of Britain, chosen by themselves, it


follows, that the consent of the Parliament implies the
consent of the body of the people : Unless that body
should themselves out of doors agree, that their rep
resentatives had materially mistaken their true senti
ments, or otherwise misrepresented them. Hence
appears the security derived from the British consti
tution to the British jubj^ects : Each of whom being
a constituent part of the public, enjoys his natural
unalienable right of offering the whole force of his
reason, for or against any public measure : And as the
raising and posting a standing army among them, is,
in many respects, inconvenient, and always dangerous
to civil liberty, the people have an indefeasible right
to judge of its necessity : And therefore it is an es
tablished point, that it never can be done, consistent
with the law and the constitution, in a time of peace,
unless the body of the people, by their representatives
in parliament, shall judge it to be necessary or con
venient, and accordingly Consent To It.



[Boston Gazette, December 26, 1768.]


A STANDING Army, is an army rais d, and kept within
the community, to defend it against any sudden
attacks.- If it be ask d who is to judge, when the com
munity is in danger of such attacks ? one would natu
rally answer, The community itself : For who can
be more proper judges of it than they, for whose safety
alone, and at whose expence alone, they are kept and

1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 273

maintain d. The people, while they enjoy the bless
ings of freedom, and the security of their property,
are generally early enough in their apprehension of
common danger ; especially when it is so threatening
as to require the military aid : And their judgment of
the necessity or expediency of a standing army, is
generally, at least as honest, as that of their superiors.
Indeed, in arbitrary governments, and alas, how few
are there in the world, that are not so ! the people
give up the power of judging in this matter, as well
as in all other matters of public concern, to their gov
ernors ; who always sooner or later, instead of govern
ors, make themselves their masters and tyrants, and
even their executioners : And this change is com
monly bro t on by the means of standing armies.

t in free governments, the people have an influ
ence in publick affairs ; and they always will, so far at
least, as to prevent their being ruin d, by the avarice,
ambition, humour, caprice, or violence, of one man or
a^ few men, whose interest it may be to ruin them.
^Thanks be to Heaven, the government of Great-
Britain has still its proportion of a democracy : The
people have their share in the legislature, and no law
can be made, nor any publick measures taken, which
can affect their interest, without their consent.

It is an undeniable truth, that a standing army never
can be raised and kept within the kingdom, in a time
of peace/consistent with the constitution, without the
consent of the people, by their representatives in
parliament \ / If it should be enquired, whether the
Americans 4ver did or ever could consent in parlia
ment to the raising and keeping a standing army


among them ; the question may be solv d, when it is
determin d whether they ever did or ever could con
sent in parliament, to the acts for raising a revenue
upon paper, glass, tea, molasses and other articles im
ported, or to the late stamp act : /And upon this de
cision also, diverse other questions may be determin d ;
such as, whether the Americans are entitled to such
of the rights of the British constitution as are founded
in nature and reason ? Whether they have ever for
feited those rights ? Or whether they are unright
eously invaded A

I have heard it said, that these troops are marching
troops, and therefore they cannot be called standing
armies ; which to be sure is arguing very conclusively,
for there is, in some respects, a manifest difference
between them. Their marchings and countermarch-
ings, have hitherto been inexplicable to many persons
of a common understanding ; and were it a time of
war, one might expect to see or hear of some notable
display of military skill and valor very soon : But as
it is at present a time of profound peace, we ought
not in reason to entertain thoughts of that kind ; es
pecially as the troops are drawn in from the outposts,
where, if at all, ther<? can be any prospect of an attack
from the enemy : /We must therefore be content to
wait a little longer ; when without doubt we shall hear
the present measures accounted for, from the con
summate wisdom and policy of the American depart
ment, to the honor of the British nation, and the
astonishment of all Europe^

V^The British parliament, with an entire and well
grounded confidence in the best of Kings, have con-

1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 275

sented to the raising and keeping a considerable
standing army in this time of peace : And it is the
prerogative of the crown to march this army into
any part of the dominions. The prerogative is a
power vested in the crown by the constitution, for
the safety of the people : And it is a power, which
is never to be exerted, but when the safety of the
people requires it : So wise and gracious a prince
as now fills the throne, we may rely upon it, will
never exercise that power to the injury of his sub
jects. The time has been, in former reigns, when
such a confidence would have been abused, and such
an army made use of, not to defend the nation, but
to destroy its liberties. A part of this army is de-
sign d for the protection and defence of the colonies ;
the new-conquered provinces may need that pro
tection and defence, and our brethren and fellow sub
jects in Halifax, it is said, are uneasy without troops :
We may safely depend on the wisdom and goodness
of his present Majesty, that those troops will always
be employed strictly for that purpose : Vput as the
Americans are so unfortunate as to have no voice in
the raising and disposing of troops for the defence of
America, and especially as they are at so great a dis
tance from the throne ; the time may come, in some
future reign, when a favourite minister may gain
such an ascendency over his master, as to have it in
his power to trifle with the royal prerogative ; at
least to dispose of the army in America as he pleases :
With an air of sovereignty, he may dismantle gar
risons, remove the troops from those stations where
alone the service of the public may call for them, and


order them to be marched into the very heart of well
settled provinces, and quartered even in cities in a
time of profound peace ; there to erect standing ar
mies, or at least to maintain such a military force, as
he may think sufficient to awe the civil authority, and
subdue the people of America to his schemes of arbi
trary and despotic power.

But if these troops are marching troops, that is, if
they are only marching thro this town to the frontier
garrisons, the places of their destination, how is it
that we are told by some who I believe are in the
secret, that they are ordered here to suppress riots
and tumults ? This I should think has rather the
appearance of a standing army, designed to be es
tablished in the province. It is said that they have
strict orders " to preserve the peace " :^ Are then the
military gentlemen constituted the conservators of
the peace in a civil government ? No, but they are
" to act under the civil magistrate," and this is said

to be the declaration of lord H h 1 himself : Has

his lordship then been told, and does he believe it,
that the civil magistrates of the province have been
deserted by the people, their only constitutional aid,
in the legal exercise of power, and that a military
force is become necessary to support the King s
authority in it? If he has, he has been egregiously
deceived, and the people have been grossly abused :
His Majesty s council of the province, who must be
allowed to be at least impartial judges, have declared
otherwise. But further, " as much lenity will be
shown to the people " by these troops acting under

1 Hillsborough.

i 7 68] SAMUEL ADAMS. 277

the civil magistrate " as the nature of things will ad
mit " : This is the insulting language of the enemies,
and it is adopted by the weak friends of America :
then we are deemed delinquents, but thro his
1-d-h-p s favor the subjects of lenity. Who, that has
a spirit of resentment can read their letters without
indignation and contempt ? Which serve more and
more to evince the truth, that we have been repre
sented to the nation as seditious, disloyal and even
upon the very eve of rebellion ! I expect to be told,
in the stile of the officer in the navy, who it is said
writes to his friend in Philadelphia, that " the Bos-
tonians have behaved in a most haughty manner
and have flown in the face of the mother country."
This is the common place language of the whole

/ I O O

party ^ But I challenge them all to show a single in
stance of the conduct of the town of Boston, that is
not fully consistent with the character they justly
bear ; as a people of unspotted loyalty to their
sovereign, as well as tenacious of those sacred rig-hts
and liberties wherewith God hath made them free/

It is not my present purpose, to confute the false
representations that have been made of the people
of this town and province, and indeed of all America,
to induce such extraordinary measures. I will appeal
to the consciences of all those who have made them,
if their consciences are not already seared, as with a
red hot iron, that they are scandalous, false and to
the greatest degree malicious : Before such meas
ures were taken it behoved the m r 1 to enquire, and
a faithful m r would have thoro ly & impartially



enquired, whether such representations were true or
false : Surely a continent of subjects, who have al
ways been loyal as well as brave ; who have in recent
instances during the late war, distinguished their
loyalty, and their affection to the mother country by
their bravery, are not to be treated as rebels, till they
iare proved to be so : And I humbly presume, that a
matter of this nature and importance ought not to
rest on the bare ipse dixit of a man, who from his
first coming into America, has proved himself the
greatest enemy to the people in it, by open repeated
lander to their faces, as well as private malice.
he time will, I hope, before long come, when the
mist that has been cast over the eyes of Britain, will
be dispersed as with the light & heat of the sun :
Then she will clearly see into the base art that has
been used to deceive and ruin her, and will resent it
to the confusion of all those who have used it. ,



Online LibrarySamuel AdamsThe writings of Samuel Adams (Volume 1) → online text (page 19 of 31)