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The Committee appointed to draw up a Declaration to be published by General Washington, upon his arrival at the Camp before Boston, reported a draft on June 24th, which occasioned long and warm debate, and was finally re-committed. No copy of this first draft said, by Jefferson, to have been drawn by John Rutledge, is known to exist. Dickinson had taken a distinguished part in this debate, and with Jefferson was added to the Committee. Jefferson was desired to prepare a draft, but the result was not satisfactory either to Dickinson or to William Livingston. The former criticised it for its harshness, and the latter for its “much fault-finding and declamation, with little sense or dignity. They seem to think a reiteration of tyranny, despotism, bloody, &c. all that is needed to unite us at home and convince the bribed voters of North of the justice of our cause." (Letter to Lord Stirling, July 4, 1775.) Jefferson's own account was: “It was too strong for Mr. Dickinson. He still retained the hope of reconciliation with the mother country, and was unwilling it should be lessened by offensive statements. He was so honest a man, and so able a one, that he was greatly indulged even by those who could not feel his scruples. We therefore requested him to take the paper, and put it into a form he could approve. He did so, preparing an entire new statement, and preserving of the former only the last four paragraphs and the half of the preceding one. We approved and reported it to Congress." Autobiography, in Writings (Ford) I, 16.
1 These two papers are found in the Jefferson Manuscripts in the Library of Congress. The second, or later, draft contains some suggested changes in the writing of John Dickinson, and bears on the last page the following memorandum by Jefferson:
"1775. June 23. Congress appointed a commee to prepare a Declaration to be published by Gen! Washington on his arrival at the camp before Boston, to wit, J. Rutledge, W. Livingston, Dr. Franklin, M: Jay, and M? Johnson.
“June 24, a draught was reported.
“June 26. being disliked, it was recommitted and M? Dickinson and T. Jefferson added to the committee. the latter being desired by the commee to draw up a new one, he prepared this paper. on a meeting of the commee J. Dickinson objected that it was too harsh, wanted softening, &c., whereupon the commee desired him to retouch it, which he did in the form which they reported July 6, which was adopted by Congress.”
Although the Jefferson drafts were never actually laid before Congress they are essential to a proper understanding of the Declaration as finally accepted.
The large advances strides of The large strides of late taken late taken by the legislature of by the legislature of Great Britain Great Britain towards establish- towards establishing over these ing in over these colonies their colonies their absolute rule, and absolute rule, and the hardiness the hardiness of the present atof their present attempt to effect tempt to effect by force of arms by force of arms what by law or what by law or right they could right they could never effect, ren- never effect, render it necessary der it necessary for us also to shift for us also to change the ground change the ground of opposition of opposition, and to close with and to close with their last appeal their last appeal from reason to from reason to arms. And as it arms. And as it behoves those, behoves those who are called to who are called to this great decithis great decision to be assured sion, to be assured that their cause that their cause is approved before is approved before supreme reasupreme reason, so is it of great son; so is it of great avail that it's avail that it's justice be made justice be made known to the known to the world whose prayors world, whose affections will ever cannot be wanting intercessions take part with those encountering affections will ever be favorablete oppression. Our forefathers, in
people take part with those en- habitants of the island of Great countring oppression. Our fore- Britain, having long endeavored fathers, inhabitants of the island to bear up against the evilsof mis of Gr. Britn harassed having there mule, left their native land to seek vainly long endeavored to bear up on these shores a residence for civil against the evils of misrule, left and religious freedom. At the their native land to seek on these expence of their blood, with to shores a residence for civil and the ruin of their fortunes, with religious freedom. At the ex- the relinquishment of everything pense of their blood, with to the quiet and comfortable in life, they less ruin of their fortunes, with effected settlements in the inhospitthe relinquishment of everything able wilds of America; they and quiet and comfortable in life, they there established civil societies effected settlements in the inhos- with various forms of constitution. pitable wilds of America; they But possessing all, what is inher there established civil societies un ent in all, the full and perfeet der with various forms of consti- powers of legislation To continue tution, but possessing all, what is their connection with the friends inherent in all, the full and perfect whom they had left, they arranged powers of legislation. To con- themselves by charters of compact tinue their connection with the under one the same common king, friends whom they had left and who thus completed their powers but loved they arranged them- of full and perfect legislation and selves by charters of compact un- became the link of union between der the same one common king the several parts of the empire. who became the throwhom wnion was ensured to the multiplied who thus became the controul link unit ing of union between the several parts of the empire. Some occa- Some occasional assumptions of sional assumptions of power by power by the parliament of Great the parl. of Gr. Brit. however Britain, however unacknowledged foreight and unknown to unac- by the constitution of our governknowledged by the constitution ments, were finally acquiesced in we had formed of our govern- thro’ warmth of affection. Proments were finally acquiesced in ceeding thus in the fullness of [ ]tbro' the warmth of affection. mutual harmony and confidence, Proceeding thus in the fullness of both parts of the empire increased mutual harmony and confidence in population and in wealth with both parts of the empire encreased a rapidity unknown in the history in population and in wealth with a of man. The political institutions rapidity unknown in the history of America, it's various soils and of man. The various soils politi- climates opened a certain resource cal institutions of America, it's to the unfortunate and to the envarious elimes soils and climates terprising of every country, and opening sure certain resource to ensured to them the acquisition the unfortunate and to the enter- and free possession of property. prising of alt every country where and ensured to them the acquisition and free possession of property. Great Britain too acquired Great Britain too acquired a lustre a lustre and a weight in the politi and a weight among the powers eal system among the powers of of the earth which her internal rethe world earth which it is thought sources could never have given her internal resources could never her. To a communication of have given her. To the a com- the wealth and the power of the munication of the wealth and the whole every part of the empire power of the several parts of the we may surely ascribe in some whole every part of the empire measure the illustrious character we may surely ascribe in some she sustained through her last measure surely Aseribe the illustri- European war, and its successful ous character she sustained thro' event. At the close of that war her last European war and its suc- however having subdued all her cessful event. At the close of that foes it pleased our sovereign to war however Gr. Britain having make a change in his counsels. subdued all her foes she took up The new ministry finding all the the unfortunate idea of subduing foes of Britain subdued she took up her friends also. Her parliament the unfortunate idea of subduing then for the first time asserted a her friends also. her parliament right of unbounded legislation for then for the first time asserted a over the colonies of America: by rights assumed a power of unan soveral aets passed in the years bounded legislation over the coloof the 5th the 6th and the 7th and nies of America; and in the space the 8th years of the reign of his course of ten years during which present majesty several duties they have proceeded to exoreise were imposed for the purpose of this right, have given such deciraising revenue on the American sive specimen of the spirit of this colonists, the powers of courts of new legislation, as leaves no room Admiralty were extended beyond to doubt the consequence of actheir antient limits and the inesti quiescence under it. mable right [of being tried in all cases civil] trial by twelve peers of our vieinage was taken away in cases affeeting both life and prop erty. By part of an aet passed in the 12th Fear of the present reign an American-colonist eharged with the offenses-deseribed in that het may be transported beyond sea for triał [of such offense] by the very persons against whose pretended sovereignty [the supposed offense] is supposed to be committed and pursuing with eagerness the newly assumed thought have in the space of 10 years during which they have