4 January 1773194

    At a meeting of the freeholders and other inhabitants of the town of Petersham, in the county of Worcester, duly assembled according to law, held by adjournment on the 4th of January, 1773, the committee chosen the 30th ult. made the following report, viz.

    “THE town having received a circular letter from the town of Boston,195 respecting the present grievances and abominable oppression under which this country groans, have thereupon taken into their most serious consideration, the present policy of the British government and administration, with regard to Great-Britain and these colonies, have carefully reviewed the mode of election and the quality of the electors of the commons of that island, and have also attentively reflected upon the enormous and growing influence of the crown, and that bane of all free states a standing army, in the time of peace, and in consequence therefore are fully confirmed in opinion, that the antient rights of the nation are capitally invaded, and the greatest of the most precious and established liberties of Englishmen utterly destroyed: ——— And whereas, the Parliament of Great-Britain by various statutes and acts, have unrighteously destroyed our trade, denied and precluded us from the setting up and carrying on manufactures highly beneficial to the inhabitants of these territories, restricted and prevented our lawful intercourse and commerce with other states and kingdoms, have also made laws and institutions touching life and limb, in disherison of the ancient common law of the land; and moreover, have, in these latter times, robbed and plundered the honest and laborious inhabitants of this extensive continent, of their property by mere force and power, and are now draining this people of the fruits of their toil, by thus raising a revenue from them against the natural rights of man, and in open violation of the laws of God: This town in union with the worthy inhabitants of Boston, now think it their indispensible duty to consider of the premises and the present aspect of the times, and to take such steps as upon mature deliberation are judged right and expedient, and hereupon this town

    Resolved, That, with a Governor appointed from Great-Britain (especially at this day) during pleasure, with a large stipend, dependant upon the will of the crown, and controled by instructions from a British Minister of State; with a council subject to the negative of such a governor, and with all officers civil and military subject to his appointment or consent; with a castle in the hands of a standing army, stationed in the very bowels of the land,196 that amazing number of place-men and dependants, with which every maritime town already swarms, no people can ever be truly virtuous, free or brave.

    Resolved, That the parliament of Great-Britain, usurping and exercising a legislative authority over, and extorting an unrighteous revenue from these colonies, is against all divine and human laws. The late appointment of salaries to be paid to our Superior Court Judges, whose creation, pay and commission depend on mere will and pleasure, complete a system of bondage equal to any ever before fabricated by the combined efforts of the ingenuity, malice, fraud, and wickedness of man.

    Resolved, That it is the opinion of this town, that a despotic, arbitrary government is the kingdom of this world, as set forth in the New-Testament, and is diametrically opposite to the establishment of christianity, in a society, and has a direct tendency to sink a people into a profound state of ignorance and irreligion; and that if we have an eye to our own and posterity’s happiness (not only in this world but the world to come) it is our duty to oppose such a government.

    And further Resolved, That the depriving the colonies of their constitutional rights, may be fitly compared to the dismembering the natural body, which will soon affect the heart; and it would be nothing unexpected for us to hear, that those very persons who have been so active in robbing the colonies of their constitutional rights, that they have delivered up the constitution of our mother country into the hands of our King.

    Therefore, Resolved, That it is the first and highest social duty of this people, to consider of, and seek ways and means for a speedy redress of these mighty grievances and intolerable wrongs; and that for the obtainment of this end, this people are warranted, by the laws of God and nature, in the use of every rightful art, and energy of policy, stratagem and force.

    “And while we are thus under these awful frowns of divine providence, and involved, as this people are, in heavy calamities which daily increase in number and severity, it is highly becoming towns and individuals to humble themselves before almighty GOD, seriously to commune with their own hearts, and seek carefully with tears, for the causes of the prevailing distresses of the land: And while it is apparent that pristine piety and purity of morals have given place to infidelity, dissipation, luxury and gross corruption of mind and morals, there is a loud call for public humility, lamentings and reformation; and it is at this time eminently incumbent upon one and all, to seek at the throne of the Great GOD, for those special and remarkable interpositions of divine providence, grace and mercy, which have so often saved New-England from both public and private distress and misery: And as there is great reason to believe that in past times we have too much depended upon the exertions of worldly wisdom and political devices, it becomes us in our present melancholy situation to rely no longer on an arm of flesh, but on the arms of that all-powerful GOD, who is able to unite the numerous inhabitants of this extensive territory, as a band of brothers in one common cause; who can easily give that true religion which shall make us his people indeed, that spirit which shall fit us to endure temporary hardships for the procurement of future happiness; that spirit of valour and irresistable courage which shall occasion our aged and our youth to jeopard their lives with joy in the high places of the field, for his name and service sake, for the preservation also of this goodly heritage of our fathers, for the sake of the living children of our loins, and the unborn millions of posterity.

    “We believe that there are very many, who in these days have kept their integrity and garments unspotted; and hope that God will deliver them, and our nation for their sake. GOD will not suffer this land, where the gospel hath flourished, to become a slave of the world; he will stir up witnesses of the truth, and in his own time spirit his people to stand up for his cause and deliver them. In a similar belief, that Patriot of Patriots, the great ALGERNON SIDNEY, lived and died, and dying breathed a like sentiment and prophecy, touching his own and the then approaching times;*197 a prophecy however not accomplished until a glorious revolution.