Sunday, March 16, 2008

"you will be ready in arms to defend your country, your liberty, your wives, your children and possessions, from rapine, abuse, and destruction"

State of Massachusetts-Bay.

In the House of Representatives, January 26th, 1777.

ORDERED, That the following ADDRESS be printed, and a copy thereof sent to each minister of the gospel within this State, to whom it is recommended to read the same the next Lord's day after he shall receive it to his people, immediately after the religious exercises of the day are over. And also that a copy thereof be sent to the commanding officer of each company of the militia in each town in this State, to be read to the companies of militia while they are under arms, for the purpose of recruiting the Army.

To the People of Massachusetts-Bay.

Friends and Countrymen!

WHEN a people within reach of the highest temporal happiness human nature is capable of, are in danger of having it wrested from them by an enemy whose paths are marked with blood, and an insupportable load of misery; which succeeding generations must bear through painful centuries of time, is offered instead of it; to rouse the brave, invite the generous, quicken the flow, and awaken all to a sense of their danger, is a measure as friendly as it is important.
The danger of having your towns, your families, your fruitful fields, and all the riches and blessings derived from the industry and wisdom of your venerable ancestors, who may justly be ranked among the most virtuous and brave men that the world ever produced, ravished from you, and possessed by a banditti whom no laws can controul, and whose aim is to trample upon all the rights of humanity, would be sufficient to give the coward courage, and animate to the greatest feats in arms the most supine and indolent.--Surely then, while America, the asylum of happiness and freedom, is infested with a foe whose sole aim is to rifle her sons of every enjoymentt that can render life desireable; you will be ready in arms to defend your country, your liberty, your wives, your children and possessions, from rapine, abuse, and destruction.

For this grand and noble purpose, so worthy of the virtuous and brave, and we humbly trust so pleasing to Almighty God, you have by your delegates assembled in counsel for several years past;--For this in April 1775, you arrayed yourselves in arms, defeated and put to flight that band of Britons, who uninjured and unoffended, like robbers and murderers dared to assault your peaceful mansions;--and for this we trust you will be at all times ready to spend your blood and treasure.

In addressing you upon the important subject of your own defence, should we attempt a narration of the causes of your danger; the many petitions you have presented, praying but for peace, liberty and safety, and to avoid the necessity of shedding the blood of your fellow men, and the unexampled indignity and contempt with which those petitions were treated--it would be undeservedly to impeach you of inattention to your own safety.

Let it suffice then to say, That when every other method taken by you was productive of nothing but insults;--and that flames in your houses, murders on your persons, and robberies upon your property, were returned in answer to your peaceable, humble and dutiful petitions.

When the force of Britain, with that of her allies, was collected and drawn into exertion, to reduce you from ease and affluence, to slavery and vassalage; the Congress of the United States, despairing otherwise to establish your safety upon principles which would render it durable, made that declaration by which you become independant of Great-Britain, and in which character alone you can be secure and happy.

But as the increasing power and opulence of the United States, are now the dread and envy of those whose avaritious and ambitious minds had laid a plan for the monopoly and enjoyment of them, a large army is necessary for your defence; and the Congress have therefore determined upon eighty-eight battalions, of which fifteen are to be raised by this State.--The militia who have been marched to aid the army under the conduct of that man whose fortitude, virtue and patience, is perhaps without example, (and who hourly without any reward but the approbation of his own mind) is risquing his all in your cause, will soon be on their return--The enemy angry at the chastizement justly given them for their unprovoked cruelties to our brethren in the Jersies, are watching an opportunity to return the blow.

A farther draft from the militia would so much burthen the people of this State, that this court cannot think of it without pain and anxiety--We have therefore, being sensible that you need no other stimulous to your duty than having the line of it drawn for you, directed that a number of men, amounting to one seventh part of all the male persons of sixteen and upwards, should be immediately engaged in the Continental army, upon the encouragement given by government--this encouragement we conceive to be greater than any ever yet given, even to the greatest mercenaries--Surely then a people called to fight not to support crowns and principalities, but for their own freedom and happiness, will readily engage.

That the encouragement given might fully answer the designs of government, and the expectation of the soldiery, this court have settled the price of every necessary and convenient article of life produced in this country, and also the price of foreign goods in a just proportion to their price in the place from which they are imported, considering the risque of importation--And nothing is now wanting to give value to the soldiers wages and stability to our currency, but the vigorous and punctual execution and observance of that act; which we hope to see speedily effected by the public virtue and zeal of this people in the cause of their country.

But left some of you should be deceived by the misrepresentations of designing men, we must remind you that all the pretensions to peace and reconciliation, so pompously dealt out in the insidious proclamations of the commissioners of the king of Great-Britain, amount to nothing more than an invitation to give up your country and submit unconditionally to the government of the British Parliament--They tell you that their king is graciously disposed to revise all acts which he shall deem incompatible with your safety--But your good sense will lead you to determine, that if he is a Prince worthy to reign over a free people, and a friend to the rights of mankind, he would long ago have determined as to the justice of the those acts, and must have seen them founded on despotism, and replete with slavery--but they do not tell you that their Sovereign has the least intention to repeal any one of those acts--surely then a revision of them can never restore your freedom or in the least alleviate your burthens.

But those Commissioners, although they offer themselves as the Embassadors of peace, and, invite you to what they call the mild and gentle government of Britain, mark their footsteps with blood, rapine and the most unexampled barbarities, distributing their dreadful and savage severity, as well to the submissive as the obstinate, while neither rank, sex or age exempts any from the effects of their brutal passions.

Should America be overcome by or submit to Britain, the needy and almost perishing tenant in Ireland, disarmed and having but little property in the production of his toil and labour, selling the bread for which his tender infants are suffering, to pay the naughty landlord's rent or insulting collector's tax, would be but a feint resemblance of your calamity.

Society, where no man is bound by other laws than those to which he gives his own consent is the greatest ornament, and tends most of all things to the felicity of human nature, and is a priviledge which can never be given up by a people without their being exceedingly guilty before Him who is the bestower of every good and perfect gift.

We therefore for the sake of that religion, for the enjoyment whereof your ancestors fled to this country, for the sake of your laws and future felicity, entreat and urge you to act vigorously and firmly in this critical situation of your country--and we doubt not but that your noble exertions under the smiles of Heaven, will insure you that success and freedom, due to the wise Man and the Patriot.

Above all, we earnestly exhort you to contribute all within your power to the encouragement of those virtues--for which the supreme Being has declared that he will bestow his blessings upon a nation, and to the discouragement of those vices for which he overturns kingdoms in his wrath; and that at all proper times and seasons--you seek to Him by prayer and supplication for deliverance from the calamities of war, duly considering that without his powerful aid and gracious interposition all your endeavours must prove abortive and vain...........Sent up for Concurrence.

Samuel Freeman, Speaker, P. T.

In Council, January 28, 1777...........Read and Concurred.

John Avery, Dep'y Sec'ry.
Also See:
Right to Keep and Bear Arms -
Historical Directories:



At 9:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks Dave, a good read.

At 10:49 AM, Anonymous Wendy Weinbaum said...

As a Jewess in the US, I would like to remind everyone that criminals are stopped by FIREARMS, not by talk. Furthermore, America wasn't won with a registered gun! That is why all REAL Americans put our 2nd Amendment FIRST!


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