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“ EXPLANATION OF THE PLATE.
“ GREAT BRITAIN is supposed to have been placed upon the globe; but the COLONIES, (that is, her limbs,) being severed from her, she is seen lifting her eyes and mangled stumps to heaven: her shield, which she is unable to wield, lies useless by her side ; her lance has pierced New England: the laurel branch has fallen from the hand of Pennsyloania: the English oak has lost its head, and stands a bare trunk, with a few withered branches; briars and thorns are on the ground beneath it; the British ships have brooms at their topmast heads, denoting their being on sale; and BRITANNIA herself is seen sliding off the world, (no longer able to hold its balance) her fragments overspread with the label, DATE OBOLUM BELISARIO.”
“ The MORAL.
“ History affords us many instances of the ruin of states, by the prosecution of measures ill suited to the temper and genius of their people. The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy ; it being a' matter of no moment to the state, whether a subject grows rich and florishing on the Thames or the Ohio, in Edinburgh or Dublin. These measures never fail to create great and violent jealousies and animosiţies between the people favored and the people oppressed : whence a total separation of affections, interests, political obligations, and all manner of connexions, necessarily ensue, by which the whole state is weakened, and perhaps ruined for ever!"
These sentiments, applied to the picture which they were annexed to, were well calculated to produce reflection; they form part of the same system of political ethics, with the following fragment of a sentence, which Dr. Franklin inserted in a political publication of one of his friends :“ The attempts to establish arbitrary power over so great a part of the British empire, are to the imminent hazard of our most valuable commerce, and of that national strength, security, and felicity, which depend on union and liberty ;"—the preservation of which, he used to say, “ had been the great object and labor of his life; the wĦOLE being such a thing as the world before never saw !"
In June, 1774, a general congress of deputies from all the colonies, began to be universally looked forward to. This had a year before been suggested by Dr. Franklin, in a letter to the Hon. Thomas Cushing, Esq. dated July 7, 1773, in which he says,—" But as the strength of an empire depends not only on the union of its parts, but on their readiness for united exertion of their common force; and as the discussion of rights may seem unseasonable in the commencement of actual war, and the delay it might occasion be prejudicial to the common welfare; as, likewise, the refusal of one or a few colonies, would not be so much regarded if the others granted liberally, which perhaps by various artifices and motives they might be prevailed on to do; and as this want of concert would defeat the expectation of general redress, that otherwise might be justly formed; perhaps it would be best and fairest for the colonies, in a geNERAL CONGRESS, now in peace to be assembled, (or by means of the correspondence lately, proposed, after a full and solemn assertion and declaration of their rights, to engage firmly with each other, that they will never grant aids to the crown in any general war, till those rights are recognised by the king and both houses of parliament; communicating to the crown this their resolution. Such a step, I imagine, will bring the dispute to a crisis ; and whether our demands are immediately complied with, or compulsory measures thought of to make us rescind them, our ends will finally be obtained; for even the odium accompanying such compulsory attempts, will contribute to unite and strengthen us; and, in the mean time, all the world will allow that our proceeding has been honorable.”
Such had been the advice of Dr. Franklin; and, as he obserres somewhere, “a good motion never dies;" so this was eventually acted upon in all its bearings, and was the first step to the union of the colonies, and their final emancipation from Great Britain.
The first congress assembled at Philadelphia, Sept. 17, 1774. Their first public act was a declaratory resolution expressive of their disposition with respect to the colony of Massachusetts Bay, and immediately intended to confirm and encourage that people in their opposition to the oppressive acts of the British parliament. This, and other analogous resolutions relative to Massachusetts, being passed, the congress wrote a letter to General Gage, governor and commander of the king's troops in that province, in which, after repeating the complainte-formerly made by the town of Boston, they declared the determined resolution of the colonies to unite for the preservation of their common rights, in opposition to the late acts of parliament, under the execution of which the unhappy people of Massachusetts weré oppressed;