December 24, 1774
In answer to Alexander Hamilton.
… Do you think, Sir, that Great Britain is like an old, wrinkled, withered, worn-out hag, whom every jackanapes that truants along the streets may insult with impunity? You will find her a vigorous matron, just approaching a green old age; and with spirit and strength sufficient to chastise her undutiful and rebellious children. Your measures have as yet produced none of the effects you looked for: Great Britain is not as yet intimidated; she has already a considerable fleet and army in America; more ships and troops are expected in the spring; every appearance indicates a design in her to support her claim with vigour. You may call it infatuation, madness, frantic extravagance, to hazard so small a number of troops as she can spare against the thousands of New England. Should the dreadful contest once b egin— But God forbid! Save, heavenly Father!
O save my country from perdition!
Consider, Sir, is it right to risk the valuable blessings of property, liberty and life, to the single chance of war? Of the worst kind of war-a civil war? a civil war founded on rebellion? Without ever attempting the peaceable mode of accommodation? Without ever asking a redress of our complaints from the only power on earth who can redress them? When disputes happen between nations independent of each other, they first attempt to settle them by their ambassadors; they seldom run hastily to war till they have tried what can be done by treaty and mediation. I would make many more concessions to a parent than were justly due to him, rather than engage with him in a duel. But we are rushing into a war with our parent state without offering the least concession; without even deigning to propose an accommodation. You, Sir, have employed your pen, and exerted your abilities, in vindicating and recommending measures which you know must, if persisted in, have a direct tendency to produce and accelerate this dreadful event. The congress also foresaw the horrid tragedy that must be acted in America, should their measures be generally adopted; why else did they advise us “to extend our views to mournful events,” and be in all
“respects prepared for every contingency?”
May God forgive them, but may he confound theirdevices: and may he give
and a better mind!