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Let us take care of our rights and we therein take care of our prosperity.
We cannot be happy, without being free, that we cannot be free, without being secure in our property, that we cannot be secure in our property, if without our consent, other may, as by right, take it away...
With hearts fortified with these animating reflections, we most solemnly, before God and the world, declare, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which our beneficent. Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with abutting firmness and perseverance employ for the preservation of our liberties; being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather than to live as slaves.
For as long as the products of our labor and the rewards of our care, can properly be called our own, so long it will be worth our while to be industrious and frugal. But if when we plow, sow, reap, gather and thresh for others, whose pleasure is to be the sole limitation how much they shall take, and how much they shall leave, why should we repeat the unprofitable toil?
I shall be extremely sorry, if any man mistakes my meaning in any thing I have said. Officers employed by the crown are, while according to the laws they conduct themselves, entitled to legal obedience and sincere respect. These it is a duty to render them; and these no good or prudent person will withhold. But when these officers, through rashness or design, desire to enlarge their authority beyond its due regard for the employments they bear, their attempts should be considered as equal injuries to the crown and the people, and should be courageously and constantly opposed.
For I am convinced, that the authors of this law would never obtain an act to raise so trifling a sum as it must do, had they not intended by it to establish a precedent for future use. To console ourselves with the smallness of the duties, is a walk deliberately into a snare that is set for us...In short, if they have a right to levy a tax one penny upon us, they have a right to level a million upon us: for where does the right stop? At any given number of pence, shillings or pounds?...'There is nothing which we can call our own' or, to use the words of Mr. Locke, 'what property have we in that, which another may, by right, take, when he pleases, to himself?'
Some states have lost their liberty, by particular accidents: but this calamity is generally owing to the decay of virtue. A people is travelling fast to destruction, when individuals consider their interests as distinct from those of the public. Such notions are fatal to their country, and to themselves.
Kings or parliaments could not give the rights essential to happiness. We claim them from a higher source. from the King of kings, and Lord of all the earth. They are not annexed to us by parchments and seals. They are created in us by the decrees of Providence, which establish the laws of our nature. They are born with us; exist with us; and cannot be taken from us by any human power without taking our lives. In short, they are founded on the immutable maxims of reason and justice. It would be an insult on the Divine Majesty to say that he has given or allowed any man or body of men a right to make me miserable.
Let the Angels lead me to you, if only they fly in this land.
There is no treasure but Truth, there is no Truth but Wisdom. There is no Wisdom, but from Learning, and Learning is won by the devotion of hours, years, days and nights to the works of Nature and the Treasures of Truth that others have gathered
Honor, justice and humanity call upon us to hold and to transmit to our posterity, that liberty, which we received from our ancestors. It is not our duty to leave wealth to our children; but it is our duty to leave liberty to them. No infamy, iniquity, or cruelty can exceed our own if we, born and educated in a country of freedom, entitled to its blessings and knowing their value, pusillanimously deserting the post assigned us by Divine Providence, surrender succeeding generations to a condition of wretchedness from which no human efforts, in all probability, will be sufficient to extricate them; the experience of all states mournfully demonstrating to us that when arbitrary power has been established over them, even the wisest and bravest nations that ever flourished have, in a few years, degenerated into abject and wretched vassals.
Our cause is just. Our union is perfect.
No free people ever existed, or can ever exist, without keeping the purse strings in their own hands. Where this is the case, they have a constitutional check upon the administration, which may thereby by brought into order without violence. But when such a power is not lodged in the people, oppression proceeds uncontrolled in its career, till the governed, transported into rage, seek redress in the midst of blood and confusion.
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