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Quebec from England some time in April, and I think as early as the middle of April, if not earlier. If they have any judgment or policy in England, their land forces for the reduction of America will be chiefly employed by the way of Quebec and New-York ; diversions may be given in other parts, but their main strength will be destined thither. I have no doubt but you are by this time fully sensible that the sharpest eye must be unremittedly kept on the people of New-York ; their manauvres and tergiversations exceed the depths of satan. But I will not school you any longer on this head,
I beg leave to let you know that I have read the pamphlet entitled “Common Sense, addressed to the inhabitants of America,” and that every sentiment has sunk into my well prepared heart : in short, you knew that my heart before was like good ground well prepared for good seed; and without an American independent supreme government and constitution, wisely devised and designed, well established and settled, we shall always be but a rope of sand ; but that well done, invincible. I need not repeat what I said to you of the worthlessness and futility of all paper currency without such a general, well established and independent government.
Your field of business is immense, and absolutely boundless ; but industry, courage, application and perseverance will surmount every thing : some relaxation and exercise is absolutely necessary, to maintain health and spirit ; but sloth and dissipation, and turning off business to others, and procrastination, if they gain any admission, will be our infallible ruin. I know you will not indulge to them, and I hope none others of your number. Solomon never uttered a truer maxim than when he said " Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint.”
Two things I beg leave to hint: the one is, that it seems to us here that when congress, by their late resolve, ordered an appeal from our admiralty courts to their honourable body, they did not well consider how dissonant such a mode of trial is from the genius of the times; to wit, by jury ; nor how much it is open to the exception which was made to the stamp act, of its exposing and making one of the parties liable to be carried for a trial to any remote quarter or part of the continent, at the will of a crown officer. Would it not have been more expedient and constitutional to have ordered the appeal to have been to the superiour court of the colony in which the first trial was had. Besides, it seems to bear hard on the maxim “ that the legislative and executive ought always to be distinct and diverse."
Secondly, I hope, sir, you will by no means forget to endeavour that there be the most peremptory and absolute order and injunction on all the generals and officers of the American army, that quarters for the army or any part of them, shall in no case be impressed, but by the intervention of a civil magistrate, or direction of the legislature of the colony. They have again (I suppose through the resentment and pique of Park, the assistant quarter-master) quartered a company on Major Thompson, against his will. Our assembly is so much on the wing, and the active members so generally gone, that it is impossible to make any proper remonstrance thereof to the general.
It is not easy to imagine what a handle such conduct as this gives to the tories, and how much they rejoice to be able to take such exceptions ; besides, it is downright and intolerably wrong. It is much more necessary that congress should make some express order and regulation for their forces in every part, touching their behaviour in this particular ; because, you know that the colonies in general, and this in particular, are in the hands and power of the army, by reason of the militia being in a great degree stripped of their arms and ammunition for the sake of furnishing
I suggest one thing more, and I have done ; to wit: I hope that the next period or term for which the continental troops will be enlisted will be three, or at least two years: the disadvantages and risk of their being engaged and holden for short terms, even for but one whole year, are many; at the same time they never will, nor can I say that I desire that they should engage for an indefinite time; but I believe they will, after a little while, be willing to engage for two or three years.
My letter is unconnected. I enter matters as they occur, without studying coherence : if you think them of any value, you have full leave to communicate to your brethren of this colony. I am, sir, With great and most sincere respect, Your obedient humble servant,
JOSEPH HAWLEY, Mr. Gerry,
MAJOR HAWLEY TO MR. GERRY.
FEB, 20. 1776.
Pray sir, will it not be extremely difficult for us to hold on with our defence and support of all our inhabitants without trade? Will people, who have been bred and accustomed to trade till they have arrived to men's and women's estate, ever get into any other business? Be sure they never will be dexterous at any other, nor contented ; nay, they will be a weight on the community, and a very heavy one too. But if we resolve on independence, what will hinder but that we may
instantly commence a trade, not only with Holland, France and Spain, but with all the world, as the government of the new independent state shall permit? Then we shall have done with the unmanageable plans and chimeras of nonimportation agreements, which, with nonconsumption agreements, never were and never will be kept, and tend inexpressibly to debauch and wickedize a people, by means of the irresistible temptation, which trading people will always be under to violate the general agreements, not only for the sake of profits, but really for any reputable subsistence; whereas, the instant you resolve on independence, and give leave to trade, your trading people will immediately fly to it, whatever risks and hazards there may be of losing; and indeed the greatest part will escape.
Pray consider this matter with regard to Canada and the Dutch of New-York : will they ever join with us heartily, who in order to it must sacrifice their trade, to which they are so much addicted, and whereby they have always made good profits, and expose themselves to want and beggary? whereas, the moment that we resolve on independence, trade will be free for them; for the one to France and the other to Holland, to which they always inclined, and would heretofore go at almost as great risks as they will then at first run; then we shall have done with our impracticable associations for nonconsumption, the source of in