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The Congress proceeding to take into their consideration a resolution of the House of
Commons of Great Britain, referred to them by the several Assemblies of New Jersey, Pennsylvania,
and Virginia, which resolution is in these words: “That it is the opinion, &c.,” are of

That the Colonies of America possess the exclusive privilege of giving and granting their
own money; that this involves the right of deliberating whether they will make any gift, for
what purposes it shall be made, and what shall be the amount of the gift; and that it is a high
breach of this privilege for any body of men, extraneous to their constitutions, to prescribe the
purposes for which money shall be levied on them; to take to themselves the authority of
judging of their conditions, circumstances, and situation, of determining the amount of the
contribution to be levied:

That, as they possess a right of appropriating their gifts, so are they entitled at all times
to inquire into their application, to see that they be not wasted among the venal and corrupt
for the purpose of undermining the civil rights of the givers, nor yet be diverted to the support
of standing armies, inconsistent with their freedom, and subversive of their quiet. To propose,
therefore, as this resolution does, that the moneys, given by the Colonies, shall be subject to
the disposal of Parliament alone, is to propose, that they shall relinquish this right of inquiry,
and put it in the power of others, to render their gifts ruinous, in proportion as they are

That this privilege of giving, or withholding our moneys, is an important barrier against
the undue exertion of prerogative, which, if left altogether without control, may be exercised
to our great oppression; and all history shows how efficacious its intercession for redress of
grievances, and reestablishment of rights, and how improvident would be the surrender of so
powerful a mediator.

We are of opinion:

That the proposition contained in this resolution is unreasonable and insidious; unreasonable,
because if we declare we accede to it, we declare without reservation we will purchase
the favor of Parliament, not knowing, at the same time, at what price they will please to
estimate their favor. It is insidious, because individual colonies, having bid and bidden again,
till they find the avidity of the seller unattainable by all their powers, are then to return into
opposition, divided from their sister Colonies, whom the minister will have previously detached
by a grant of easier terms, or by an artful procrastination of a definitive answer:

That the suspension of the exercise of their pretended power of taxation being expressly
made commensurate with the continuing of our gifts, these must be perpetual to make that so;
whereas no experience has shown that a gift of perpetual revenue secures a perpetual return of
duty, or of kind dispositions. On the contrary, the Parliament itself, wisely attentive to this
observation, are in the established practice of granting their own money from year to year only.

Though desirous and determined to consider, in the most dispassionate view every advance
towards reconciliation, made by the British Parliament, let our brethren of Britain reflect what
could have been the sacrifice to men of free spirits, had even fair terms been proffered by freemen
when attended as these were, with circumstances of insult and defiance. A proposition to
give our money, when accompanied with large fleets and armies, seems addressed to our fears,
rather than to our freedom. With what patience, would they have received articles of treaty,
from any power on earth, when borne on the point of the bayonet, by military plenipotentiaries?

We think the attempt unnecessary and unwarrantable to raise upon us, by force or by
threats, our proportional contributions to the common defence, when all know, and themselves
acknowledge, we have fully contributed, whenever called to contribute, in the character of freemen.

We are of opinion it is not just that the Colonies should be required to oblige themselves to
other contributions, while Great Britain possesses a monopoly of their trade. This does of itself
lay them under heavy contribution. To demand, therefore, an additional contribution in the
form of a tax, is to demand the double of their equal proportion. If we are to contribute
equally with the other parts of the empire, let us equally with them enjoy free commerce with
the whole world. But while the restrictions on our trade shut to us the resources of wealth,
is it just we should bear all other burthens, equally with those to whom every resource is

We conceive, that the British Parliament has no right to intermeddle with our provisions
for the support of civil government, or administration of justice; that the provisions we have
made are such as please ourselves. They answer the substantial purposes of government,
and of justice; and other purposes than these should not be answered. We do not mean that


Page 960
our people shall be burthened with oppressive taxes to provide sinecures for the idle or wicked,
under color of providing for a civil list. While Parliament pursue their plan of civil government
within their own jurisdiction, we hope, also, to pursue ours without molestation.

We are of opinion the proposition is altogether unsatisfactory because it imports only
a suspension, not a renunciation of the right to tax us; because, too, it does not propose to
repeal the several acts of Parliament, passed for the purposes of restraining the trade, and
altering the form of government of one of the Eastern Colonies; extending the boundaries,
and changing the government and religion of Quebec; enlarging the jurisdiction of the Courts
of Admiralty and Vice-admiralty; taking from us the rights of trial by jury of the vicinage in
cases affecting both life and prosperity; transporting us into other countries to be tried for
criminal offences; exempting, by mock trial, the murderers of Colonists from punishment; and
for quartering soldiers upon us, in times of profound peace. Nor do they renounce the power
of suspending our own legislatures, and of legislating for us themselves in all cases whatsoever.
On the contrary, to show they mean no discontinuance of injury, they pass acts, at the very
time of holding out this proposition, for restraining the commerce and fisheries of the Province
of New England; and for interdicting the trade of the other Colonies, with all foreign nations.
This proves unequivocally, they mean not to relinquish the exercise of indiscriminate legislation
over us.

Upon the whole, this proposition seems to have been held up to the whole world to deceive
it into a belief that there is no matter in dispute between us but the single circumstance
of the mode of levying taxes, which mode they are so good as to give up to us, of course that
the Colonies are unreasonable if they are not, thereby, perfectly satisfied; whereas, in truth,
our adversaries not only still claim a right of demanding ad libitum, and of taxing us themselves
to the full amount of their demands if we do not fulfil their pleasure, which leaves us
without anything we can call property, but, what is of more importance, and what they keep
in this proposal out of sight, as if no such point was in contest, they claim a right of altering
our charters, and established laws which leave us without the least security for our lives or

The proposition seems, also, calculated more particularly to lull into fatal security our
well-affected fellow subjects on that other side of the water, till time should be given for the
operation of those arms which a British minister pronounced would instantaneously reduce
the “cowardly” sons of America to unreserved submission. But, when the world reflects
how inadequate to justice are the vaunted terms, when it attends to the rapid and bold succession
of injuries, which, during a course of eleven years, have been aimed at these Colonies,
when it reviews the pacific and respectful expostulations, which, during that whole time, have
been made the sole arms we oppose to them, when it observes, that our complaints were either
not heard at all, or were answered with new and accumulated injuries; when it recollects,
that the minister himself declared on an early occasion, “that he would never treat with
America, till he had brought her to his feet”; and that an avowed partisan of ministry has,
more lately, denounced against America the dreadful sentence “Delenda est Carthago”; and
that this was done in the presence of a British senate, and being unreproved by them, must
be taken to be their own sentiments, when it considers the great armaments with which they
have invaded us and the circumstances of cruelty, with which these have commenced and prosecuted
hostilities; when these things, we say, are laid together, and attentively considered, can
the world be deceived into an opinion that we are unreasonable, or can it hesitate to believe
with us, that nothing but our own exertions, may defeat the ministerial sentence of death, or
submission? [520]
Ford ed., i, 476. (July 25, 1775.)


This is Jefferson's draft. Congress made several verbal alterations.—Editor.