Arnold, Thomas (1742-1821) To the inhabitants of the town of Providence Assembled in town-meeting.
Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC01152
Author/Creator: Arnold, Thomas (1742-1821)
Place Written: Providence, Rhode Island
Type: Autograph letter signed
Date: 09 March 1778
Pagination: 4 p. 31 x 19 cm
Summary of Content: Opposes the proposed ”test oath,” requiring a declaration of loyalty to the American cause. He argues that the Friends (i.e. Quakers) cannot swear to uphold a violent or warlike nation.
People: Arnold, Thomas, 1742-1821.
Historical Era: American Revolution, 1763-1783
Full Transcript: To the Inhabitants of the Town of Providence Assembled in Town Meeting the 9th of the third mo. 1778, Friends, Having carefully per? A Bill published in the Providence paper for the consideration of the publhik [sic] and by order of the general Assembly of their last sitting proposed to be enacted, asherein is required of the People an Oath, or Affirmation, to the support of one power ? contending against another by Violence: and the Same inforced [sic] by penalties, hardly to be expected from any wise or confident Legislature, and to the Compassionate & humane painful even to think of: And as I am greatly desirous not only on account of those who must suffer under it; but also for their sake of their peace who may have a hand in passing the Same, that it may not by any means become a Law; I am concerned to offer some things to your mighty consideration, and desire to do it in such a manner as to discharge myself in truth & faithfulness, without giving offense to any, which my heart meaneth not to do., Now as that part of the before mentioned Law which ? the People, with whom I desire ever to remain ? in the bond of peace and with what clearness they could comply with & engage to the same, I desire the confident and those who seek to Judge in truth and equity to Note what follows--I believe it will be consented by most it not all present that Friend, have maintained their ? and peaceable testimony against war & fighting inviolable under every ? ? Government when their Loss has been cost from the ? time. That it has been their principle neither to set up not pull down; over to assist or join, directly or indirectly with any side or party contending for Government by Violence or shedding of Blood., I have also a hope that the present authority or the people in general do not desire to try war again, by ? & ? Laws, the patience & performance of that Principle, which Neither Kings nor Commons by Imprisonment, Confiscation of Estate, Banishment And death itself could ever weary out or overcome., Now those who are not willing to have any hand in Acting over again those Scenes - Who do not desire to impose anything different from this impartial Court of Conduct in order that they may not be unawares engaged therein, would ? to consider whether something more is not required by this Law that what Friends could comply with, in their Judgment, consistent with their peaceable Testimony, was the other power now making the Demand: For the truth remains to be the same in all places, and it’s countenance is wary when set against violence and war and it will discover ? the Specious provisions and distinctions suggested by our Common Adversary, who when he cannot directly prevail transforms himself into many shapes whose head the seed of the woman was to bruise. Those ? who are entitled under his banner dare not content themselves with keeping up a specious warfare with the fruit and Branches of the Corrupt Tree and at the same time are secretly ? to support the Bitter root from whence they spring. They desire to be subject to the Civil Magistrates ? whenever they Answer the ordination of God to be a Terror to evil doers & a press or support to them that do well: and when they do not, they endeavor patiently to suffer, But they cannot consent to be strength to that Arm that is ? forth for the promise shedding of Blood under any man or Body of men whatever., You are now meet together to consult upon passing a Law designed to extort from the secret of Man’s breast his private sentiments which if they prove not to agree with those therein prescribed, he must cover himself with the garment of the ? & perjured Man, or sad Alternative, he must suffer the forf? Of this Estate & Banishment on pain of Death; Althohe was one who wished not to pubhlish his Sentiments & was a peaceable Industrious Subject, such as it is the ? of all other States to Cherish & Encourage. ? you to ? that we ? a fine people. Call to your remembrance from whence we had our Original War it not from the Banishment of those who could not for con? ? comply with not yield ? to those Laws & establishments which ? made a part of that civil ? from whence they were Banished? Have not those Laws & that Establishment stunk in you Nostrils? Have they not been abhorred in your minds? Have they not been ? upon your lips and upon the lips of all Confident Men? I ? it to you with great sincerity of heart that you do not ? this evil example of passing a Law, which under a pretense of Civil ? demands an Engagement Inconsistent with the Religious Testimony of a people who have supported the same under every power ? ? since they have been a people; and which will ? & ? fall with ? Wright Plymouth all ? of humanity upon the heads of many Conscientious People ? as to any offence against you, who are not gathered under any outward name as to Religion but only the ? power of the Almighty which I hope ? in proportion as things are faithful will support them., Now I desire every Individual before he gives his Vote for passing this Law deeply to considered whether he meaneth in his heart to execute the same, whether he Intends to banish and confiscate the Estate of every one who for Conscientious scruple or doubt ? not in the presence of the Most High take the Same; And if such banished men they Neighbor acquaintance or Fellow Creature, should believe it his duty to return part of Compassion to your immortal Souls warn you of & testify against so great ? and in the fear of the Lord & ordi? ? should Actually return; Whether in that Care he intends to take the Life of every such person? This ? indeed to ? the transactions of that day, which many define might be buried in Oblivion, wherein William Ledra and others suffered in the Town of Borton, with this additional severity. They were banished strangers then on to be banished from their Estates their Nation Country their Friends, Relatives & near Connections; But I desire their example may ever remain unparrallell’d [sic] in the history of New England that another so great a stain may ? be fixed upon the Character of it’s Inhabitants; But above all that quilt of so deep a ? not remain to be exp? By the blood of this unhappy Country, which is almost ? poured forth like water upon the ground., Let none be preferred that this Law will be Complied with by all for it’s worthy for when a living? To the contrary, And, although I may not stand the day of tryal [sic] against which I dare not ? any resolutions of my own will, for they are all Broken down & in pieces at this time, but that ability only which shall then be given, and in which I am not without hope, by it then are a goodly number who shall abide the ? severity which ? may be permitted to inflict for the honor of the peaceable Testimony of the Most High, ? for his name Sake., With bowels of Compassion therefore & much Tenderness of spirit I entreat you to be warned not to go about to embrace your hands in Innocent Blood; For should you willfully enter upon such hard and cruel Measures, contrary to your Cooler Judgment, when you shall have involved yourselves therein & come to the Execution, ye may not see the way to extricate yourselves at the ? of you may wish you had never begun but had washed your hands of Innocent blood earlier than ? did., From your Friend, Tho Arnold
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