December Meeting, 1940
A STATED Meeting of the Society was held, at the invitation of Mr. Augustus P. Loring, Jr., at No. 2 Gloucester Street, Boston, on Thursday, December 19, 1940, at three o’clock in the afternoon, the President, Kenneth Ballard Murdock, in the chair.
The records of the Annual Meeting in November were read and approved.
The Corresponding Secretary reported the receipt of letters from Mr. William Roberts Carlton, Mr. Stephen Phillips, and Mr. Harry Andrew Wright, accepting election to Resident Membership in the Society.
Mr. Lincoln Colcord of Searsport, Maine, Mr. Thomas Herbert Johnson of Lawrenceville, New Jersey, and Mr. William Gurdon Saltonstall of Exeter, New Hampshire, were elected Corresponding Members of the Society.
The Reverend Arthur J. Riley read the following paper:
Catholicism and the New England Mind
TO many, the title given above may appear paradoxical. The natural and instinctive reaction of most students of the New England colonial period is to believe that a long bow is being drawn when an attempt is made to show that Catholicism had a positive influence on the New England mind. It is perfectly obvious that New England was generally Protestant until the turn of the present century. It is equally certain that the religious movement in colonial New England derived from an English and a Continental Protestantism. Why, then, labor to show that Catholicism had a place in this development, a place that at first thought seems clearly insignificant? In answer it may be said that it is not intended to show that Catholicism had any positive motivating part in the development of New England in the colonial period. That it had a negative motivating part as a result of the anti-Catholicism of the era is now generally admitted. New England Protestants were insistent on the fact that they constituted the true church in contradistinction to, among others, the Church of Rome. These New Englanders constantly argued about false interpretations of doctrines and practices expounded by the Catholics or “Papists.” In a word, the Puritans and their contemporaries were concerned with Catholicism, at least from a hostile viewpoint; and their thought and mind were formed and molded by this reaction to Catholic thought and practice.
The purpose of what is written here is much wider than a mere discussion of the negative angle of anti-Catholicism, however positive were its results. The discussion that follows aims to show that there are many things in New England Protestantism which have a much closer relationship with things Catholic than is generally recognized. As one studies the apparently endless tangle of theological controversies and embattled sects of the colonial and later periods, one notes that there are certain terms which are always the subject of debate. These terms were not new to New England or even to Protestantism, novel as their interpretation in these debates may have been. Such terms were the basis for discussion or definition long before the Protestant Reformation. They are, in fact, the great headings of religious thought. But in the Reformation and the development thereafter certain interpretations were debated: those given these terms by the so-called Church of Rome. Non-Catholic students may or may not approve of this Catholic system of thought, but they cannot neglect it because they consider it false. It had been definitely crystallized prior to the time of the Reformation and is easily recognizable historically.
The plea, then, is to use this pre-Reformation Catholic system of thought as the basis for study of New England colonial history. Here was a historical unity which can easily be ascertained; here was a unity which the New England Protestants themselves recognized. That is why this basis is chosen as historically the most accurate. To start with modern Protestant terms and attempt to read modern connotations back into the colonial period is impractical. To begin with the colonials themselves and neglect the age-old meanings of the terms, which were then being newly defined or reinterpreted, is to see only part of the picture, and the more confused and confusing part at that. It is slipshod history to begin the study of a movement halfway along. Historical understanding requires that movements be traced to their causes; only thus can one bring order out of chaos, simplicity out of confusion.
A discussion of the problem here outlined may suitably find its starting point in a consideration of the notes or marks of the Christian Church as it was conceived in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. Therein one reaches a least common denominator, for these notes or marks were accepted by Catholics and early Protestants alike. It was in the interpretation of these marks that there developed the confusing divisions of New England thought and history. It is not yet possible, of course, to say the last word on the subject. There are many points which still need further investigation before a definitive monograph can be written. Yet the time has come for emphasizing the necessity of a reorientation of the study of colonial history. When such an eminent scholar as Mr. Perry Miller insists that Puritan piety is Augustinian, it is time that the relationship between Protestant and Catholic thought be appraised, not from a polemical or apologetical viewpoint—there has been enough of that—but from a strictly historical aspect.
Briefly, all Christians at the time of the Reformation—whether that be placed in the twelfth, the fourteenth, or the sixteenth century—understood the Church to be a definite external organization. Admission to this church was dependent on the fulfillment of certain conditions; and continued membership was governed by definite rules. Such admitted and practising members could be recognized by the doctrines they professed, the morals they practised, and the allegiance they paid. Doctrinally, Christians believed in a Supreme Being who in some mode created the world and the first man and woman. These two creatures violated God’s ordinances and committed sin, thereby plunging themselves and the rest of mankind into loss of God’s favor. God, however, did not turn completely away from man but spoke to him from time to time through inspired men who recorded these inspirations in writing in that part of the Bible called the Old Testament. In due time He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, who also spoke to and taught mankind, founded a church, and died on the Cross that man might be saved from the penalty of sin. A portion of the teaching of Christ is likewise recorded in writing in that part of the Bible called the New Testament. The inspired writings, the Old and the New Testaments, contain God’s Word and must be accepted by all believers. The correct interpretation of this revelation is dependent upon some agency external to the individual, whether it be direct individual inspiration or an inspired church. Belief in these doctrines, correctly understood, together with a belief in the salvific will of God, constituted the basis for membership in the Church, which had a definite external ceremonial manifesting to the public at large that the individual had so conformed. After such conformation the individual attended such ceremonies, professed such doctrines, and practised such morals as the Church legislated. Failure so to act was punished by authority, which had the sole right of judgment. This, then, was the concept of the Church at the time of the Reformation and for a period continuing at least to 1750, a concept admitted by Protestants and Catholics alike.
The foregoing formulation sets forth the fundamental tenets of the various early Protestant sects. Historically, these tenets were still being taught, as they had been previously, by the Catholic Church. The point to be emphasized is that Protestants and Catholics alike insisted on these tenets as the marks of the Christian Church. Early Protestant and New England writers and preachers were children of the era in which they lived. They took the conceptions recognized in their time and in the meaning which the concepts then had. Whether they accepted these concepts in the terms of their then current meaning or sought to modify them, they used terms and conceptions derived from the Catholicism which preceded the Protestant revolt. This state of affairs the Reformers had constantly and vividly in mind.
Now these notes or marks may be grouped under four major headings: interpretation of the Scripture or authority, organization, justification, and political implications. This fourfold division is not disjunctive, a fact that must be clearly understood; but it will be found practical in viewing the historic cleavages of doctrine and practice to consider the points separately. Actually, of course, the views held with regard to any one of these divisions will necessarily modify views about the others. In many cases, too, meanings in one field were completely modified and changed by developments in thought in quite another field.
Primary, of course, to any study of the relationship between Protestantism and Catholicism is the question of interpretation of the Scripture or authority. This problem essentially means the canon of the Scripture, the interpretation of its content, its completeness as a source of revelation, and the authority guaranteeing the accuracy of that revelation. It will be well first to state the Catholic doctrine. The Catholic view holds that God from time to time has spoken to man and that these words have been recorded in part in the Scripture. Not all that has been spoken, however, has found its way into these inspired writings, for there is a vast store in tradition. A church guaranteed by God to be accurately inspired determines what writings are to be considered part of the Scripture and what store of tradition has really been revealed. This totality of revelation or the deposit of faith is to be safeguarded by some external authority which has the power to teach and declare. The Catholic Church, in other words, holds that Scripture and tradition form the deposit of faith, which is interpreted and guarded by that Church.
The Protestant movement began by declaring that the Scripture alone formed the total deposit of faith; that its content gave clear indication of its origin in divine revelation; and that the meaning of the Scripture was to be found by individual inspiration. This naturally led in the course of time to variations. When radically different interpretations of the Scripture were forthcoming, and when the canon of the Scripture itself was argued, appeal was frequently made to external authority, the state, for the enforcement of pure doctrine. Some people went further and asserted that there was a new revelation, superadded to the Scripture, granted by special inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Finally, under the influence of Rationalism the fundamental belief in the inspiration of the Scripture was swept away; and under the aegis of Pietism the doctrinal content was modified by a conscious emphasis on emotionalism. Thus three great divisions resulted. In the first place there are the Evangelicals or those Protestants who accept the Scripture alone as the total deposit of faith. They include the present fundamentalist and the earlier Calvinist Anglicans, the Calvinists (Baptists, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians), the Lutherans, the Methodists, the Quakers, the Ranters, the Seekers, the Arminians, the Antinomians, and the Independents. In a second group there are the Experientialists, who include the Protestants who postulate another revelation over and above the Scripture. Such are the Anabaptists, the Swedenborgians, the Inspiration Communities, the followers of Sebastian Franck, the Mormons, the Rosicrucians, the Irvingites, and some forms of Pietists. Finally there are the Liberals, of whatever name or shade, who reject the inspired character of all or most of the Scripture.
The matter, however, is not closed quite so easily. The earlier Reformers, notably Luther, Calvin, and Henry VIII, soon recognized that there had to be some principle of authority in this matter of interpretation of the Scripture. Luther at first felt that the grace of God would take the place of the Pope and bishops, but he soon found that he had to appeal to the authority of the state. Calvin from the very beginning required the state to aid the church in protection of doctrine. Henry VIII substituted himself for the Pope and immediately introduced the Erastian element into the Anglican Church, which for this very reason has had a curious history. The English Reformers under Edward VI introduced the evangelicalism of John Calvin; Mary Tudor made the English Church officially Roman Catholic; and Elizabeth made it something halfway between that of Edward VI and that of Mary, thus causing traditional elements to remain in the face of strong Calvinist tendencies. The Stuarts continued this, but Laud for a moment brought Anglicanism very near the Catholic Church; then it became the almost lifeless pawn of the state until its invigoration by John Wesley.
With the development of Protestant sects under unfavorable state governments the leaders had to find some substitute in practice for the authority of the state. This they did in synods or similar gatherings corresponding to plenary national councils in the Catholic Church. These meetings adopted the many confessions of faith and issued the catechisms which contain the so-called official teaching of the various groups.
With the rejection of the teaching authority of the Church came the Socinian or anti-Trinitarian movements of the sixteenth century. With the rise of the Deism of the eighteenth century came the Unitarianism of the nineteenth. And with the overthrow of the inspiration of the Scripture came the Liberalism of the nineteenth century and the Modernism of the twentieth which speak merely of a historic Christ and are in reality a modified Unitarianism.
Thus the whole series of sectarian movements may be seen in logical development from one basic and primary Catholic tenet. Similarly, the rejection of tradition as a source of revelation brought in its wake the whole problem of church organization. The Catholic point of view then held and still holds that there is a hierarchic organization in which there is a laity, an ordained priesthood, and a self-perpetuating episcopacy at whose head there is the Pope, who enjoys supremacy of jurisdiction. This hierarchic organization is the guardian of a sevenfold sacramental system, a liturgical rite, and various and sundry devotions. In this the early Anglicans concurred except for the position of the Pope. The subsequent infiltrations of Calvinism caused considerable modifications. The Edwardian change swept away the Mass, at least a portion of the sacramental system, some of the liturgy, and a few devotions. Later Calvinist efforts sought to abolish the episcopacy, the Lord’s Supper, the liturgy, the devotions, and, save in a symbolic meaning, the remainder of the sacramental system. Modern Anglo-Catholic reactions have endeavored to restore much of the Catholicism which existed in the time of Henry VIII and toward which Laud tended.
As a part of this historical development of the concept of religious organization, it may be noted that the earlier Protestants and their fundamentalist successors were forced to postulate a universal priesthood of the laity, which at one fell swoop abolished the episcopacy and the papacy, together with an ordained priesthood. Hence they could have merely licensed ministers whose license was from either the state, the congregation, or the representatives of the latter. If there was a ceremony of ordination, it implied the bestowal of no special powers but was simply a sign of approval. In this group must be placed all Protestants except the Anglicans, the Modernists, and the Liberals. This last group hold that no external organization is necessary, believing that the religious bond exists only between God and the individual.
The third great line of division between Protestants and Catholics centers about the problem of justification, which was, as all know, the great battleground of the religious movements. This problem has two phases: the consequences of original sin and belief in the salvific will of God. The shades of opinion with regard to each and their interrelationship are almost as numerous as are the theologians who debated the problem. For the purpose of the present discussion it will be sufficient to indicate some of the more important. The Catholic position has always been that Adam violated an ordinance of God, thereby really committing sin, and in virtue of that sin suffered the loss of God’s grace and a weakening of his nature through a clouding of the intellect, a weakening of the will, and a tendency to concupiscence. To remedy this state of affairs God, in due time, sent His divine Son, Jesus Christ, who through His redemptive death on the Cross won salvation for man. Through Christ, man wins his salvation through a process which leaves both God and man completely free. By God’s grace man’s nature is intrinsically changed and supernaturalized so that by the performance of the proper actions man may merit salvation by his own efforts.
Countless other explanations there have been. The Modern Rationalists and many Modernists, for instance, have denied the reality of sin. The Rousseauists have denied any weakening of man’s nature. All early and later fundamentalist Protestants have asserted the total vitiation of man’s nature. This is a result of the identification in Adam of the natural and supernatural destinies so that when the latter was lost, man’s nature was intrinsically changed and completely vitiated insofar as the attainment of salvation as a right of man was considered. This led inevitably to the predication of a loss of liberty and the later Calvinist insistence on predestination. The Rationalists, the Rousseauists, many Modernists, and some Unitarians have taught the denial of any particular aid to man from God. According to this doctrine man utilizes only his unaided nature and abilities. All early Protestants and most of the later fundamentalist groups have insisted on the denial of any intrinsic change by grace in man’s nature. Grace, according to this view, is a purely external imputation of Christ’s merits. Thus Calvin taught that man is impotent and that salvation is merely God’s decree of imputation. How this imputation affects man was the source of considerable speculation, for it has practical psychological consequences: how is the individual himself to know and how are others to recognize whether he has been thus predestined? In point of fact such groups as the Anabaptists, the Antinomians, the Quakers, the Ranters, the Seekers, the Rosicrucians, and the Pietistic and Inspiration Communities, by insisting that man is completely moved by the Spirit, reduced to nothing man’s part in salvation, even in acceptance of God’s invitation. On the other hand, a considerable group felt that man must make some effort of his own and in their explanations so exaggerated the necessity of this effort that they taught in effect that man does all while God merely furnishes grace in consequence. This was the doctrine of Luther—to all intent and purpose—of the Arminians in Holland, the Laudians in England, and most of the fundamentalist Anglicans. The Covenanting Puritans taught that both man and God act freely but by compact coördinate their activities, a tenet which in some respects parallels the Catholic doctrine but in important aspects is different in emphasis and theory.
The foregoing schema is long and somewhat involved. But it indicates that the Catholic doctrine concerning man’s justification is a primary source for the understanding of an abundant section of New England thought and history. To most modern readers, be they Catholic or Protestant, these theological speculations are arid and uninteresting. But this modern judgment cannot be referred back to colonial times in New England. To the Puritans and their contemporaries it was exceedingly important to determine and define the process of justification and the nature of God’s salvific will. It was of the utmost consequence to exclude from power and, at times, even from physical presence in the community those who held opposing views and thereby taught a different way of life. A modern student who would honestly evaluate the stormy arguments of William Perkins, John Cotton, Anne Hutchinson, William Ames, and Jonathan Edwards, among others, must in the end go back to the beginning of the argument. He must return to a study of the Catholic doctrine of justification, which antedates the Reformation.
The discussion thus far has resulted in the sketching, from three major theological tenets, of the derivation and the relationship of many confusing factors in New England history. The underlying assumption has been that there was a theological basis for many of the movements in western Europe during the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, and in New England from the beginning of its history. This assumption is not meant, however, to exclude or deny the sociological, social, political, or economic factors then operating. Rather it suggests that these factors cannot be adequately evaluated unless they be properly placed in their own historic milieu, for none can deny that the times were surcharged and saturated with religious speculation and argument.
From this, one can proceed logically to a consideration of the fourth basis suggested above for analyzing and studying New England history: the political implications of Catholicism as understood and combatted by New England colonials. It is well known and has been commonly remarked that a feeling of hostility toward Catholic governments and Catholic political relationships marked the early New England mind. This was a product of the age and was matched by a similar Catholic antagonism toward Protestant governments and political alliances. The modern period which was taking form showed a radical change from the Middle Ages, during which a theory and practice of living, a civilization, had been attained by the action and reaction of secular leaders and the religious organization of the Church. In a wide view of western civilization Constantine’s Edict of Milan ended the ancient period of history and began what is called the Middle Ages. Imperial toleration of the Catholic Church inaugurated a period of development in which the Christian Church, with its specific doctrines and practices, and the secular state, with its worldly purposes and activities, sought to attain a mutual adjustment and balance.
Constantine’s decree had ended one period and begun another. But the old did not immediately disappear, nor did the new immediately take form. In a similar manner the beginning and development of the modern period came with the formulation and reduction to practice of the maxim of the Peace of Augsburg (1555): cuius regio, eius religio. A new theory and practice of living, a new civilization began. But in the beginning the old theory still persevered and sought restoration, and the new theory fought vigorously in its own interest. The New England Protestants, for example, dreaded the possibility that they would be forced to submit to the rule of a Catholic England, a Catholic France, or even, in a remote possibility, a Catholic Spain. They had sought a haven in New England because, among other reasons, they sought escape from the Catholic tendencies in England or France; they labored to keep this a haven from such dreaded movements.
As a matter of fact, this fear of Catholic governments and tendencies was brought to New England at the very outset. The Pilgrims left Holland because, among other reasons, they knew that the existing truce between Holland and Spain would expire in 1621; and they feared the Catholic forces would win in the impending struggle and so introduce the Spanish Inquisition into the Low Countries. Later, the Catholic government of France was held responsible for the St. Bartholomew’s Day “Massacre” in which sixty thousand French Huguenots were said to have been slain. English history provided the story of the persecution of John Wyclif, forerunner of the English Reformation, and the more recent memory of Mary Tudor’s repressive activities. In their own day the emigrating New England Puritans had been witnesses of the Catholic tendencies of Archbishop Laud. With this as a partial background and with the memory of other repressive efforts on the part of Catholic governments against early reformers, it is not to be wondered that the New England Protestants viewed with alarm every tendency toward Catholicism evident in the Anglican Church, every show of might on the part of New France, and every attempt to establish Anglicanism or impose its routine in New England. The gradual trend toward Catholicism among the Stuarts, the final reception into that faith of James II, and the frequent attempts of the later Stuarts to regain the lost throne were other occasions for this fear. Both the return of Louisbourg, so dearly won, to a hated France and the quasi-establishment of Catholicism by the Quebec Act in the conquered realm of their dreaded enemy were, to the New England Protestants, clear evidences that they were being betrayed by Protestant England into the Catholic camp. Even at the time of the American Revolution there was a vocal fear that alliance with Catholic France was extremely dangerous. The interlocking features of these political happenings have not yet been sufficiently analyzed to determine their complete effect on New England thought. Here is a problem for the future dispassionate historian, for it cannot be approached with present-day conceptions. Full understanding requires a survey which shall begin with the political theory of the Middle Ages and thence proceed to our local history.
From what has been said, it seems that a fairly strong case can be presented for the necessity of an understanding of Catholicism in the study of New England colonial history. Just as the history of Harvard University cannot be properly studied without a deep knowledge of the English universities and their derivation from the medieval universities, so the evolution of the New England mind must be presented from a background of the period in which it originated. It is obvious that twentieth-century ideas must not be read back into this period. On the other hand, the starting point of Puritan or Protestant doctrines themselves is inadequate, almost axiomatically so. In short, for a true historical approach there must be a deep appreciation of the notes or marks of the Church as it existed in pre-Reformation days, whether this church be accepted as true or false. The organization which displayed a unity of doctrine and practice in that pre-Reformation period was, regardless of the explanation posited for that unity, the Roman Catholic Church. The present-day student may or may not accept the doctrines or claims of that church. But if he be a historian, he cannot blind himself to the historic fact that western civilization did once accept those doctrines and claims; there can be no legitimate denial of the fact that Catholicism was the thought of the period. What that thought was is historically ascertainable and must be the starting point of any broad investigation of New England colonial history. If that study begins with a later date, there will necessarily be confusion and chaos. If, however, it begins with the original unity before division, all subsequent developments will fall into focus; order and historical perspective can be attained. It is in the hope that such studies will be made and such historical perspective be attained that the ideas advanced here have been presented for consideration.
Mr. Morison communicated by title the following document, with an introduction prepared by Mr. Paul Fullam and Mr. George M. Elsey:
More Hints from Joseph Hawley, January, 1776
JOSEPH Hawley of Northampton, River God and Son of Liberty, was the leader and spokesman of Connecticut Valley radicals during the American Revolution. Elected by the General Court a delegate to the Continental Congress in 1774, he refused to serve for reasons of health, and John Adams was chosen in his stead. On this occasion Hawley sent to Adams a paper of his composition entitled “Broken Hints, to be communicated to the Committee of Congress for the Massachusetts.”441 This subsequently became famous as a trenchant statement of the New England radical position and as a prophecy. Nine months before the storm broke at Concord, Hawley stressed the inevitability of war. Accepting as a sine qua non of a peaceful settlement the elimination of “British taxation, all revenues, and the constitution or form of government enacted for us by the British parliament,” he pointed out that Parliament was committed to a contrary course of action which there was no expectation of its renouncing without a fight. Common sense demanded recognition of this fact and preparation for an irrepressible conflict. “We must fight,” the refrain of “Broken Hints,” was profoundly shocking to the majority of Congress, who hoped either to evade the issue or to appease the radicals.
For the next two years Hawley served in the Massachusetts Provincial Congress, where he sat on the important committees, studied finance, corresponded with the “fourteenth colony” of Quebec, concerned himself with the organization of the Massachusetts army, solicited aid from other colonies, and came into frequent and close contact with General Washington. Hawley managed to keep in touch with local as well as provincial affairs, and by frequent trips to his home to consult and advise other radicals he became “the mainspring of the revolutionary movement in western Massachusetts.”442 Through these manifold responsibilities the ardor expressed in “Broken Hints” still burned, and although his letters of 1775 seem somewhat less radical for that year than the “Hints” were for 1774, he was not hedging but waiting for events to have their effect. For many months before July 4, 1776, his letters to the Massachusetts delegates at the Continental Congress urged a declaration of independence and the establishment of a unified colonial government.
One of the most important of these letters was written to his young friend and political ally Elbridge Gerry after Gerry’s election to Congress in January, 1776. In the same form as “Broken Hints,” this letter is entitled “Hints for the consideration of Mr Gerry and Such others of the Honble Congress as he Shall judge proper to advise with thereon.” It is a summary of the program that Hawley would have advocated had he been in Gerry’s shoes. It contains the substance of Hawley’s political philosophy, the result of months of deliberation and the fruit of his recent experience. Taken together, “Broken Hints” and “Hints for Mr Gerry” measure the development of thought of a frontier radical from 1774 to 1776.
When the “Hints for Mr Gerry” was written, the radicals in Massachusetts were proceeding cautiously; independence was still discussed only in closed circles. For this reason Hawley did not advocate separation from England in so many words. But his program must not be mistaken for mere administrative reforms designed to meet the exigencies of the moment, for his proposal to establish a confederation with full control of the currency and the military would inevitably require independence.
A few weeks later, Hawley wrote to Gerry: “I beg leave to let you know that I have read the pamphlet entitled Common Sense, addressed to the inhabitants of America.”443 Thereafter he was no longer afraid to write frankly and openly for independence; the favorable reception of Paine’s pamphlet was the signal for casting all reserve to the winds.
The “Hints for Mr Gerry” is in private possession. The document is undated, but Hawley referred to it in his letter to Gerry of February 18 as “the minutes which you was pleased to accept of me as you was setting out on your journey to Congress.”444 Gerry left Boston on January 25, 1776. The letter, therefore, was probably written a few days earlier. The document is entirely in Hawley’s hand. It covers four pages of a single foolscap sheet which bears no address. It must therefore have been handed to Gerry personally at Watertown (where the Provincial Congress was sitting), as the passage quoted from Hawley’s letter of February 18 suggests.
Hints for the consideration of Mr Gerry and Such others of the Honble Congress as he Shall judge proper to advise with thereon
It appears plain to me that no vigorous and effectual operations for general defence will be carried on until a firm and well digested Confederation be formed and communicated by the Congress to all the colonies and the Same be Adopted and ratified most Solemnly by them all and a Supreme Legislative and Executive instituted in a Just proportion from all ye colonies and the most Solemn acts instead of Recomendations from time to time passed by such legislature which Shall bind the whole and every part with Subordinate legislatures for each Colony—these Subordinate Legislatures, or legislatives, will grow to perfection gradully but the Supreme ought to be made as perfect as possible immediately and be fully operating without any delay
I begg leave to Suggest that the Earliest and most effectual care must be taken to Secure and defend the colony of Canada whether Quebec Shall be taken by the colony Troops or not, for if the Ministerial Troops Should drive us out of Canada all the French and Indians northward of Missisippee River will be gaind by them, who will prove worse to the colonies if armed and furnished with amunition, than all the regulars who can be imported—For God’s Sake therefore let the utmost attention be afforded to that part—ample and Sufficient establishmts must be made for that part and fully executed
I most earnesdy begg that Congress would be indefatgable in their attention and exertion for a most effectual defense without Sparing any cost which Shall appear Necessary—To this interest I think it is Necessary again to exhort all the colonies to establish and equip their Militia effectually and to form good magazines
I think As our people must always be Inlisted only for certain and Short terms at present not for more than a year at once It will be absolutely Necessary that reasonable care should be always taken that a New establishmt should be filld against ye expiration of the old one—and lest there Should be any failure a Well appointed and organized Militia in every part of the continent should be ready to befriend us
Another Matter promises to be absolutely Necessary and to claim the early attention of Congress Namely a Continental authority for regulating the Paper Currency through the colonies—without it We Shall soon be in confusion with respect to it—if every colony is permitted to emit what Sum they please to Set ye times of redemption or sinking them as they please, and to postpone the times of sinking as they please—We Shall be deluged with paper Currency—The Bills will Depeciate to little or no value—different values will be set on the Bills of different colonies—Infinite frauds will take place between Crditors and Debtors and in short without a general regulation—Paper currency will fail as a medium Whereas under a general Superintending good regulation Paper currency Might Serve as a pretty steady Medium and a good fund for the greatest operations—No particular colony ought to be Suffered to emit any Bills without permission of the Genl Congress who ought to order the sum of the emission and the time of payment for whenever there is enough in the continent for a medium of which the Supreme Legislature Must be Judge—the Several Colonies Should Supply their Treasuries by borrowing and every Colony ought to be obliged Sacredly to keep their faith and Never to postpone their payments
A larger Consideration of this Matter is Necessary than the limits of this Sheet will admit But Sure I am It must have a Speedy and thoughrough consideration and discussion and all the colonies Must Submit to Some Just and Superior regulation or all paper Credit will soon come to Nothing—which with good regulations (as I could demonstrate) would enable us to carry on a War forever
Further I conceive it to be of immediate Necessity that Congress or the Supreme american Legislature Should effectually provide against their armies or any part of them invading private property and that their Troops Should in No case be quarterd on private houses without the consent of the owner or in cases of absolute Necessity under the direction of some Comittee of the General assembly of the colony where the troops shall be or a Civil Magistrate
Pray attend Minutely to the State of Canada and at all events let it be Maintaind & Secured by us against all foreign armies It is I conceive More than time Now that the establishments for Canada and New York were made for the Next Spring and Summer Campaign and that the same were filling up and I trust that Congress will not think of taking the like Method with respect to officers for the filling Such establishments as they have done for the Army here the experiment or trial of that Method I think has been more than Sufficient already
But to return to the Confederation—Can congress hesitate a moment about it? will not all be in confusion without it? will not every step be languid and ineffectual without it? Can the Credit of the continental currency or emissions of paper Bill have any foundation without it? Have not Tories sense enouh to know it? Will they fail to infuse the conviction into the Minds of others? We know without a Confederation the Credit of Such Bills stands on Nothing, in fact, they have No Basis at all. Tell it not in Gath &c445
as soon as a Confederation is formed and ratified Will it not be Necessary to enact all such resolves as Shall appear Salutary
Indulge Me one thought more To wit That one article of the Confederation ought expressly to be that the General Supreme legislative Should have full power and authority absolutely to order and direct all the Currencies of every colony—this Must be done—The Medium of Trade was always directed by the Supreme legislature—the Nature of the case Makes it abolutely Necessary
If we retain possession of Canada pray let a free civil Government be formed there as soon as possible—and May the Next Comtee Sent that way be e[x]pressly orderd to proceed farther than Ticonderoga, and I hope will consist of More than three
Full possession of the Rivers of St Lawrence Lake Champlain Hudson’s are of More consequence to us than Tongue can utter or heart conceive