The Corsica Case Conflict Resolution History Essay
The idea of colony does not involve the idea of slavery. There is a wide difference between the dependence of a free people and the submission of slaves. The former I allow, the latter I reject with disdain. Nor does the notion of a colony imply any subordination to our fellow-subjects in the parent state while there is one common sovereign established. The dependence of the colonies on Great Britain is an ambiguous and equivocal phrase. It may either mean dependence on the people of Great Britain or on the king. In the former sense, it is absurd and unaccountable; in the latter, it is just and rational. No person will affirm that a French colony is independent on the parent state, though it acknowledge the king of France as rightful sovereign. Nor can it with any greater propriety be said that an English colony is independent while it bears allegiance to the king of Great Britain. The difference between their dependence is only that which distinguishes civil liberty from slavery, and results from the different genius of the French and English constitutions.
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What can speak in plainer language the corruption of the British Parliament than this act, which invests the king with absolute power over a little world (if I may be allowed the expression), and makes such ample provision for the Popish religion, and leaves the Protestant in such a dependent, disadvantageous situation, that he is like to have no other subjects in this part of his domain, than Roman Catholics, who, by reason of their implicit devotion to their priests, and the superlative reverence they bear those who countenance and favor their religion, will be the voluntary instruments of ambition, and will be ready, at all times, to second the oppressive designs of the administration against the other parts of the empire.
I am aware that you could never have done what you have without first obtaining a noble victory over every sentiment of honor and generosity. You have therefore nothing to fear from the reproaches of your own mind. Your insensibility secures you from remorse. But there are arguments powerful enough to extort repentance, even from a temper as callous as yours. You are a man of the world, sir; your self-love forces you to respect its decisions, and your utmost credit with it will not bear the test of your recent enormities, or screen you from the fate you deserve.
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The national debt is now about one hundred and forty millions sterling—a debt unparalleled in the annals of any country besides. The surplus of the annual revenues, after paying the interest of this debt, and the usual expenses of the nation, is upon an average about one million and a quarter sterling; so that with all their present resources they would not be able to discharge the public debt in less than should the peace continue all that time. It is well known that most of the necessaries of life are at present heavily taxed in Great Britain and Ireland. The common people are extremely impoverished, and find it very difficult to procure a subsistence. They are totally unable to bear any new impositions; and of course there can be no new internal sources opened. These are stubborn facts, and notorious to every person that has the least acquaintance with the situation of the two kingdoms. Had there been the vast resources you speak of, why have they not been improved to exonerate the people and discharge the enormous debt of the nation? The guardians of the state have been a supine, negligent, and stupid pack indeed, to have overlooked, in the manner they have done, those numerous expedients they might have fallen upon for the relief of the public. It cannot be expected but that a war will take place in the course of a few years, if not immediately; and then, through the negligence of her rulers, Great Britain, already tottering under her burthens, will be obliged to increase them till they become altogether insupportable, and she must sink under the weight of them. These considerations render it very evident that the mighty resources you set forth in such pompous terms have nothing but an existence, or they would not have been left so uncultivated in such necessitous and pressing circumstances.
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I will go farther and assert that the authority of the British Parliament over America would, in all probability, be a more intolerable and excessive species of despotism than an absolute monarchy. The power of an absolute prince is not temporary, but perpetual. He is under no temptation to purchase the favor of one part of his dominions at the expense of another, but it is his interest to treat them all upon the same footing. Very different is the case with regard to the Parliament. The Lords and Commons, both, have a private and separate interest to pursue. They must be wonderfully disinterested, if they would not make us bear a very disproportional part of the public burthens, to avoid them as much as possible themselves. The people of Britain must, be an order of superior beings, not cast in the same mould with the common degenerate race of mortals, if the sacrifice of our interest and ease to theirs be not extremely welcome and alluring. But should experience teach us that they are only mere mortals, fonder of themselves than their neighbors, the philanthropy and integrity of their representatives will be of a transcendent and matchless nature, should they not gratify the natural propensities of their constituents, in order to ingratiate themselves and enhance their popularity.
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I imagine it will be readily allowed that Great Britain could not spare an army of above fifteen thousand men to send against the colonies. These would have to subdue near six hundred thousand. The established rule of computing the number of men capable of bearing arms in any nation, is by taking a fifth part of the whole people. By the best calculations, we are supposed, in America, to exceed three millions. The fifth part of three millions is six hundred thousand. But in order to be certain of our computations, let us suppose there are only five hundred thousand fighting men in the colonies. Then there will be upward of thirty Americans to one British soldier. A great disparity indeed! And such as never can be compensated by any discipline or skill whatever! It will be objected that these five hundred thousand cannot act together. I grant it; nor is there any occasion that they should. Forty thousand will be a sufficient number to make head at a time; and these must be kept up by fresh supplies as fast as there is any diminution.