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given to their freedom; they cannot be ignorant that more dependence may be placed on the affections of a brother, than on the forced service of a slave: they must approve your efforts for the preservation of your rights; from a sympathy of soul they must pray for your success; and I doubt not but they will, ere long, exert themselves effectually, to redress your grievances. Even in the dissolute reign of king Charles II. when the house of commons impeached the earl of Clarendon, of high treason, the first article on which they founded their accusation was, that " he had designed a standing army to be raised, and to govern the kingdom thereby." And the eighth article was, that he had introduced an arbitrary government into his majesty's plantation." A terrifying example to those who are now forging chains for this country.
You have, my friends and countrymen, frustrated the designs of your enemies, by your unanimity and fortitude: it was your union and determined spirit which expelled those troops, who polluted your streets with innocent blood. You have appointed this anniversary as a standard memorial of the bloody consequences of placing an armed force in a populous city, and of your deliverance from the dangers which then seemed to hang over your heads; and I am confident that you never will betray the least want of spirit when called upon to guard your freedom. None but they, who set a just value upon the blessings of liberty, are worthy to enjoy her-your illustrious fathers were her zealous votaries-when the blasting frowns of tyranny drove her from public view, they clasped her in their arms; they cherished her in their generous bosoms; they brought her safe over the rough ocean, and fixed her seat in this then dreary wilderness; they nursed her infant age with the most tender care; for her sake, they patiently bore the severest hardships; for her support, they underwent the most rugged toils; in her defence, they boldly encountered the most alarming dangers; neither the ravenous beasts that ranged the
woods for prey, nor the more furious savages of the wilderness, could damp their ardor! Whilst with one hand they broke the stubborn glebe, with the other they grasped their weapons, ever ready to protect her from danger. No sacrifice, not even their own blood, was esteemed too rich a libation for her altar! God prospered their valor; they preserved her brilliancy unsullied; they enjoyed her whilst they lived, and dying, bequeathed the dear inheritance to your care. And as they left you this glorious legacy, they have undoubtedly transmitted to you some portion of their noble spirit, to inspire you with virtue to merit her, and courage to preserve her. You surely cannot, with such examples before your eyes, as every page of the history of this country affords,* suffer your liberties to be ravished from you by lawless force, or cajoled away by flattery and fraud.
The voice of your father's blood cries to you from the ground, my sons scorn to be slaves! In vain we met the frowns of tyrants-in vain we crossed the boisterous ocean, found a new world, and prepared it for the happy residence of liberty-in vain we toiled-in vain we fought-we bled in vain, if you, our offspring, want valor to repel the assaults of her invaders! Stain not the glory of your worthy ancestors, but like them, resolve never to part with your birth-right; be wise in your deliberations, and determined in your exertions for the preservation of your liberties. Follow not the dictates of passion, but enlist yourselves under the sacred banner of reason; use every method in your power to secure your rights; at least prevent the curses of posterity from being heaped upon your memories.
If you, with united zeal and fortitude, oppose the torrent of oppression; if you feel the true fire of patriotism burning in your breasts: if you, from your
* At simul heroum laudes, et facta parentis
souls, despise the most gaudy dress that slavery can wear; if you really prefer the lonely cottage, (whilst blest with liberty,) to gilded palaces, surrounded with the ensigns of slavery, you may have the fullest assurance that tyranny, with her whole accursed train, will hide their hideous heads in confusion, shame and despair. If you perform your part, you must have the strongest confidence, that the same Almighty Being who protected your pious and venerable forefathers, who enabled them to turn a barren wilderness into a fruitful field, who so often made bare his arm for their salvation, will still be mindful of you, their offspring.
May this Almighty Being, graciously preside in all our councils. May he direct us to such measures as he himself shall approve, and be pleased to bless. May we ever be a people favored of God. May our land be a land of liberty, the seat of virtue, the asylum of the oppressed, a name and a praise in the whole earth, until the last shock of time shall bury the empires of the world in one common undistinguished ruin!
ORATION OF JOHN HANCOCK,
AT BOSTON, MARCH 5, 1774, THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE "BOSTON MASSACRE."*
Men, Brethren, Fathers and Fellow-Countrymen,
THE attentive gravity, the venerable appearance of this crowded audience; the dignity which I behold in the countenances of so many in this great assembly; the solemnity of the occasion upon which we have met together, joined to a consideration of the part I am to take in the important business of this day, fill me with an awe hitherto unknown, and heighten the sense which I have ever had, of my unworthiness to fill this sacred desk. But, allured by the call of some of my respected fellow-citizens, with whose request it is always my greatest pleasure to comply, I almost forgot my want of ability to perform what they required. In this situation I find my only support, in assuring myself that a generous people will not severely censure what they know was well intended, though its want of merit should prevent their being able to applaud it. And I pray that my sincere attachment to the interest of my country, and hearty detestation of every design formed against her liberties, may be admitted as some apology for my appearance in this place.
I have always, from my earliest youth, rejoiced in the felicity of my fellow-men; and have ever considered it as the indispensable duty of every member of society to promote, as far as in him lies, the prosperity of every individual, but more especially of the community to which he belongs; and also, as a faithful subject of the state, to use his utmost endeavors to de
* See page 5th.
tect, and having detected, strenuously to oppose every traitorous plot which its enemies may devise for its destruction. Security to the persons and properties of the governed, is so obviously the design and end of civil government, that to attempt a logical proof of it, would be like burning tapers at noonday, to assist the sun in enlightening the world; and it cannot be either virtuous or honorable, to attempt to support a government, of which this is not the great and principal basis; and it is to the last degree vicious and infamous to attempt to support a government which manifestly tends to render the persons and properties of the governed insecure. Some boast of being friends to government; I am a friend to righteous government, to a government founded upon the principles of reason and justice; but I glory in publicly avowing my eternal enmity to tyranny. Is the present system, which the British administration have adopted for the government of the colonies, a righteous government-or is it tyranny? Here suffer me to ask, (and would to heaven there could be an answer,) what tenderness, what regard, respect or consideration has Great Britain shown, in their late transactions, for the security of the persons or properties of the inhabitants of the colonies? Or rather what have they omitted doing to destroy that security? They have declared, that they have ever had, and of right ought ever to have, full power to make laws of sufficient validity to bind the colonies in all cases whatever. They have exercised this pretended right by imposing a tax upon us without our consent; and lest we should show some reluctance at parting with our property, her fleets and armies are sent to enforce their mad pretensions. The town of Boston, ever faithful to the British crown, has been invested by a British fleet: the troops of George the III. have crossed the wide Atlantic, not to engage an enemy, but to assist a band of traitors in trampling on the rights and liberties of his most loyal subjects in America-those rights and liberties which, as a father, he ought ever to regard, and as a king, he is bound, in