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Stiles, Ezra (1727-1795) to Catharine Macaulay

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC01798 Author/Creator: Stiles, Ezra (1727-1795) Place Written: Newport, Rhode Island Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 15 April 1775 Pagination: 3 p. : docket ; 32 x 20 cm.

Summary of Content: Parliament's repressive laws have inflamed Americans; criticizes Britain for not sharing its triumph over France with its colonists. Convinced that the colonists are capable of governing themselves and that American legislatures should prepare for conflict, he suggests the current fomentation may result in "an entirely new Colony-Police" and upon such an alliance could arise a "Continental or Imperial Congress." Forecasts the future greatness of America.

Background Information: Ezra Stiles, a future president of Yale College, was serving as pastor in Newport at the time he wrote this letter.

Full Transcript: Dear Madam Newport Apr. 15. 1775
The Resolutions of Parliament instead of intimidating only add Fuel to the Flame, invigorate & strengthen the Resolutions of the Americans. We have the united Wisdom of ...the Continent incessantly exercised in deliberating, projecting & resolving the public Measures adapted to the present momentous Exigency: and if deserted by our Brethren in Great Britain, and abandoned by the World, we confidently trust in our God that he will deliver us. We hoped the unhappy & unnatural Differences would have been amicably adjusted & settled upon Principles of public Justice, Equity, Benevolence. If otherwise, America is ready for the last Appeal, which however shocking and tremendous, is by the Body of the Colonies judged less terrible than the Depredations of Tyranny & arbitrary Power. There are 120 Thousand stands of Arms in good Repair in the hands of the comon People of New England only; and Amunition may amt. for more Battles than one, nor are they at a loss for whole [illegible] of further Supplies of Powder & Arms. We have certainly Six hundred Barrels of Powder with a Quantity of Small Arms within a few days arrived into this Colony only. And there is pretty certain Intelligence, that notwithstanding the Vigilance of the Navy, above six Thousand Barrels of Powder have been imported into the continental Colonies, particularly Virginia, Maryland & New England, the half year past, is incredible. It will not be the Loss of several Battles that can conquer & subdue the Spirit of a hardy People fighting pro Aris & Focis, for Property, Religion & Liberty. I pray God that Things may never come to real Action, for after that, the Wound can never be healed.
We are set forth a Spectacle to God, Angels & Men. Not only Britain, but all Europe are Spectators of the Conflict, the arduous struggle for Liberty. We consider ourselves as laying the foundation of a glorious future-Empire, and acting a part for the Contemplation of Ages. America is ambitious of conducting with that Prudence, Wisdom, Counsel, and true Greatness, which may comend them to the Admiration of Posterity and the World. These Motives [2] are transfused throughout the Body of the People, and operate with great Efficacy. The Motive is prodigious, and the operation astonishing! We are not the Aggressors. Our Fathers fled hither for Religion and Liberty; - if extirpated from hence, we have no new World to flee to. God has located us here, and by this Location has comanded us here to make a Stand, and see the Salvation of the Lord. In repeated Days of Prayer and Fasting, we have asked Council of Heaven, and comitted our Cause to God. The Event is with the Lord of Hosts, which we doubt not will be happy and glorious. We are embarked in a glorious and animating Cause, and procede in it with undoubted Confidence of final Success.
When Rome was attacked by the Carthaginian Powers, when the Carthaginian Armies came round & poured into the northern parts of Italy, this Attack united the otherwise divided Nations of all Italy, and the Italians fought side by side with the Romans with victorious success. But when the Punic Wars were finished, the Romans took all the Glory of Conquest to themselves, dispised the Socii, and claimed Domination over Allies; tho' the latter could raise [inserted: & bring into the field] three Quarters of a Million according to Velleius Paterculus while the Romans fell short of 300 Thousand according to Livy. Hence arose the Bellum Sociale, which from a very trifling Incident kindled into a Flame, and spread thro' Italy with an incredible Celerity. Two numerous Armies met to dispute a Point of Honor and nominal Dignity; but wisely stoped their Fire in full Volley, and pacificated all by agreeing to share in equal Liberty, upon the Roman Blood accepting the Italian in [illegible strikeout] [inserted: Jus] Civitatis. [inserted at bottom of page: Which wise Policy increased The census in 100 years from 300 Thousd to Seven Million Citizens.] America now exasperated does not dread to meet her Brethren in Bellum Sociali, if Great Britain shall persit in rapaciously seizing and annihilating her dearest Rights & Liberties. Massachusetts will resume her old Charter of 1628, or assume a new moddled Police, elect Magistrates, constitute Courts & Judges, levy Taxes & raise Forces the ensuing Summer, if before their annual Election they have nothing more favorable from Parliament. The instructioned Governors and Mandamus Councillors in the other Provinces are fallen into such disrepute, and have so lost the Confidence of [inserted: the] Colonies, as being the mere Creatures of a corrupt Ministry, Enemies to American Liberty, that they are nearly ripe to fall into [inserted: neglect &] Desuetude; while the Colony Congresses, which exhibit more just & equal Representations of the people, acquire weight daily, & feel more Liberty to Act efficaciously for [3] for the public good, unchecked by arbitrary Governors. They will naturally find themselves, possessed of Power, & rise into Legislatures. The Maryland Congress has already proceeded to levy Taxes for an Armament. So. Carolina Congress have shut up the Courts of Law. The System proceeds, and may perhaps terminate in an intirely new Colony-Police, by erecting the Congresses into [inserted: the] Legislatures of free allied States. And on this Alliance and Confederacy may arise a stated Continental or Imperial Congress for deliberating Matters of universal Moment. I do not say that this Change would be the happiest, wisest & best: but this I say, that the [inserted: present] Measures of Administration & Parlt. will precipitate & ensure such a Revolution, and if not desisted and departed from, all will very soon terminate in this. If there be no Relaxation speedily, a Continental Army will be raised, and under repeated supposed Defeats, will survive and perpetuate itself, till such or a similar system of Policy shall be eventually established.
It is my ardent Prayer to the Most High that the Union between Great Britain and these Colonies may never be dissolved; and that we may always boast and glory in having Great Britain the Head of the whole British Empire. And we thank you, dear Madam, for interposing your kind Offices, in you late truly patriotic, pathetic & importunate Address to the three Kingdoms. With the sincerest Esteem and Respect, I am, Dear Madam,
Your most Obedient
Very humble Servant
Ezra Stiles
You will receive this by Francis Dana Esq, of Cambridge near Boston a Barrister at Law, who I ask leave to comend to your Notice, as one that can inform you the state of the Massachusetts Bay very particularly.
Mrs. Macaulay
[address:]
To
Mrs. Catharine Macaulay
In
London
Favored by
Fra. Dana Esq.

[docket:]
April 15th 1775.
Ezra Stiles -
Newport
See More

People: Stiles, Ezra, 1727-1795
Macaulay, Catharine, 1731-1791

Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783

Subjects: Revolutionary WarFrench and Indian WarGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyGlobal History and US Foreign PolicyWomen's HistoryLiterature and Language ArtsGovernment and CivicsLawFranceMilitary HistoryCongress

Sub Era: The War for Independence

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