Richard Furman's Address to the Residents Between the Broad and Saluda River

(November 1775)

[Pg. 1] High Hills of Santee

Permit me on this alarming occasion to address you on the endearing character of Friends, Brethren, and Fellow Subjects. For as it concerns great numbers in the most interesting matters, their Lives. Fortunes (and what is much greater) Consciences being called into question; Suffer me, my Friends, to offer you a few thoughts, that flow from a heart, which thinks it is influenced with the most tender and impartial concerns for the good of the whole. I have endeavored since the present unhappy disputes took place between Great Britain and America, to make an impartial inquiry concerning the transaction of both parties, in order to find the truth; and as we are all liable to be imposed upon, I would willingly offer a few things to your consideration at this critical juncture. I am informed that a considerable number are now met, and encamped near the Bush River, but by whose influence, and for what purpose, it is hard to determine, as the accounts [Pg. 2] are various: but by what I can gather from the sense of the people of have been conversant with, your design is to withstand the operations of the Congress; upon supposition of their acting in rebellion against the King, and designing to enslave the People.

My business therefore, shall be to set matters in a clear light, that an impartial judgment may be passed upon them. I find myself under difficulties (it is true) to go through this work, because what is, and has been said to that end is so much called in question, by people, who have not opportunity to inform themselves, who are prejudiced by false reports, carried by men, who wish well to neither King nor Country. If the above articles are believed by you, viz: the Congress being in rebellion against the King, and designing to enslave and ruin the People, I shall 1st shew that they do not appear to be true, and then the consequences , that will necessarily flow from your proceedings, if they are not.

1st Then, I am to shew the Congress (and with them far [Pg. 3] the greatest part of America) do not appear to be acting in rebellion against the King, nor seeking to enslave the people. This will readily appear if we consider what the Americans oppose, what means of opposition they have made use of, what they have laid themselves open to, in so doing, and how far it is consistent, with Justice and Righteousness to make such resistance.

First then, What do the Colonies oppose? I answer not the rightful power of the King, not the lawful power of any of his officers, but such things as tend to destroy the peace, and happiness of the Nation. The sum of what they oppose, is comprised in that law, that was past some years ago by the British Legislature; That they had a right to bind the Americans in all cases whatsoever!

The taxes, that were afterwards laid upon Glass, Paper, Paint, Tea etc were only consequences of the above law: and therefore their enforcing, and our submitting to one of [Pg. 4] them, would be as effectual to the enslaving of Americans, as the whole of them would have been. For the enslaving of Americans, as the whole of them would have been. For instance, if a man tells me, that he has a to do with me or any thing I have got, what he pleases, and therefore demands of me, either of labour, or part of my estate, if I give it, then I submit to his unlimited power over me; and by my own consent, he has a right to lay upon me, what he pleases. The Parliament, therefore by insisting on the duty of tea (tho' they did take off other duties) as much claim their unlimited power over America, as they did whilst those acts were unrecalled; As is abundantly manifest, from the resolves of both Houses of Parliament, and it being what the Ministers founds his pretentions upon, in sending an army to make us yield thereto. Let it be considered that, for that end, they have taken away the charter of Massachusetts Bay Province, sent an army and navy to Boston, their capital, who after many provocations and insults, fell upon in a furious manner, and killed eight men [Pg. 5] before they were resisted. They also passed an act forbidding them to trade to any place whatsoever, excepting Ireland, Great Britain, and the West Indian Islands, or to fish on their own coast; And respecting trade have done the like to almost all other provinces along the Continent. They have enlarged (the) government of Canada, and extended it all along the back of the other provinces, and established the Roman Catholic religion, and made it a Military, Arbitrary, and Tyrannick government, intending as the Minister declared in the House of Commons, to have the Canadians as a force always ready to bring down on the back of the other colonies, (should they oppose the designs of Parliament) to subdue them. And should they succeed, we have nothing to assure us, but the Popish religion may be established in all the colonies. They have taken away our birth-right. I mean trials by Juries; so enlarged the power of they admiralty and the Officers thereof, that a man can scarcely call any thing his own that he possesses; for they may break open any man's house, [Pg. 6] chest etc, on suspicion, without a civil officer to assist: and should they kill anybody in this service, they are not to be tried for it here, but sent to England for trial; and if any man should prosecute another in that court, tho' contrary to law, if the judge but writes on the proceedings, That there was probable cause of action, it shall hinder the owner from recovering damages from the prosecutor.

And now it is imitated, that if they succeed in their attempts, they will make us pay for all the expenses of the last war, which they say was undertaken on our account, and cost them Seventy Millions Pounds Sterling (four hundred and ninety million this money); & yet it stands recorded in the transactions of Parliament, that America did more than their part, and therefore at the conclusion of the peace, they sent them some of the money back.

In the next place let us consider the means of opposition. It first began in their not receiving tea. Several Provinces sent it back. Boston would have done the same, but their governor would not suffer it to go out of the port. While it was thus kept a number of men, said [Pg. 7] to be about thirty, in disguise, went and destroyed it; probably fearing that as time was drawing near, that it was (agreeable to the act) to be seized and sold for the duty, some persons might by the governor's influence, buy it, and so Parliament have the plea that they had submitted to the abovementioned law. In the next place, they entered into a resolution, not to trade with Great Britain, and some other of His Majiestie's dominions; (at the same time sending the most humble petitions to the King, that he would be pleased to repeal those acts, that were the causes of the unhappy disputes. And this they have continued to do, to this very day.) They also fell upon other measures, to bring any, that should be disaffected among themselves, to a compliance. And, here ( I believe) thro' the means of some men who were put into public trusts, and did not know very well what to do with power, some things were done, contrary to the designs of Congress, and the genius of the cause. (Had the People been unanimous and exerted themselves, they might have prevented this, by choosing such men, as would have best suited the whole, as it depended up- [Pg. 8] -on choice.) The next step of opposition was the taking up of arms, which never was done, till the stroke was struck at Boston, before-mentioned, when it was done purely by way of defence.

The third thing is to consider what the Colonies have laid themselves open to, by opposing the designs of Parliament. And here a due consideration, methinks, will remove those undue suspicions, and jealousies, that arise in the minds of some. In the first place, the rage of the ministry is excited against them, (as was expected). Thro' their means the King seems set against his Subjects, and the British army and, navy have access unto our [coast?]. Their trade being stopped, they necessarily encounter with may inconveniences; their crops, that they used to export, through which they obtained their wealth, lying upon their hands. And should Great Britain continue to insist upon subjection, under the necessity of maintaining the expenses of a war, here let it be observed that great men are the chief [Pg. 9] losers, their estates being along the sea coast, their houses in towns, and cities being liable to be burnt, or knocked down by bombs, and cannon; and as they have the most in their hands, the taxes must be heavier upon them. These are a few of the difficulties, that the Colonies have to struggle with, (& these chiefly felt by rich men) whilst they are earnestly seeking for reconciliation. But if, as it is asserted by some, they are struggling for independency, they may not only expect to have Great Britain to encounter with, but other great and war-like powers of Europe, therefore it cannot be true that they are struggling for such a state.

Lastly let us consider the justness, and righteousness of the cause. The righteousness of it appears in their endeavoring to maintain the principles of the Constitution; in which the peace and happiness of the people is safetly included. The state of the British empire is a mixt monarchy, where the King and People make laws. The people do this by their representatives, whom they choose. The representatives can a- [Pg. 10] -gree in no law, but they bind themselves in it. The House of Commons of Great Britain are their representatives, and every thing passed as law there is first agreed to by them. The House of Assembly of the province of America, are their representatives. Thus the King and the representatives are officers of trust, and accountable for what they do, the people giving them authority. The King can do nothing without the representatives, not the representatives without the King. Neither can the representatives of one part of the Kingdom, represent another part of it. Now the Parliament of Great Britain say they have a right to bind us in all cases whatsoever, tho' they are not our representatives, and so may lay any thing upon us without feeling it themselves. Thus they have broken the principles of the constitution, by taking away the power of our Assemblies, and by establishing Popery, contrary to law, in one of the provinces, which gives us reason to suspect, they have a design to impose the same upon the other provinces; at least they claim that [Pg. 11] power.

Thus it is to maintain the happy state of the constitution, that America has opposed Parliament; and in so doing has not rejected the King's lawful authority. For what the King does, contrary to the constitution , is not the power, that is of God, spoken in Scripture, and therefore ought not to be obeyed. For should the King command one man to kill his innocent neighbor, this would be contrary to justice and humanity. He ought therefore, to reject that command; but in everything lawful and just, he ought to yield willing obedience.

Thus tho' America oppose those things that are wrong, which his Majesty has consented to, yet as they believe him blinded by his ministers, they do not reject him as their King, but desire that he should reign over them. This appears by their petition sent to him, their publick professions of loyalty, and the direction of the Continental Congress so to do; (tho' some audacious [Pg. 12] villains assert that Ministers dare not in the lower parts to pray for the King, as I was told in your neighborhood.) As I intimated in the beginning of my letter, I feel the greatest difficulty, from the incredulity of so many of the people. But Sirs, for what end should the people in the lower parts of the Province, deceive you? You are their Brethren, and you may depend upon it, that every wellwisher to the cause of America, and friend of Congress, desires your welfare. But what farther evidence would you have, more than may be had? The Acts of Parliament spoken-of may be seen. The debates upon greatest abilities, in the nation, (and which serve for the greatest proof,) have been and are printed in the public Gazettes. Men of the best authority, who have been to England, and returned, assert them to be so. The newspapers brought from thence (which may be seen) prove the same. The very enemies of the cause, who have come from England, do not pretend to deny them. The troops sent into America, all [Pg. 13] prove the same; not to mention the other hand that the members of the Continental and Provincial Congresses, and with them the Committees of the several districts, throughout the country, act spending their time and labor, without fee or reward. The Gentlemen in the Towns, and Cities, take their turns in keeping guard; a hardship the Country does not feel.

The second general proposition was to point out a few of the consequences, that necessarily will flow (according to the most probable appearances) from your opposing (especially in violent measures), the proceedings and designs of America, who is seeking to preserve her liberty. Indeed, God may make use of you, as a scourge to the nation, for sin; and so you may succeed in your attempts, altho' their cause be good. But before you engage in this you ought to consider, whether your sins do not call for the same divine displeasure, and whether you had a commission to act as the ministers of the Divine vengeance, or not.

First then, if you succeed in your endeavors, (which no [Pg. 14] doubt is the thing you would desire,) what would you gain by it? It is not likely this could be done, without the shedding of much blood, and that of your friends, and neighbors! A most awful consideration. But will this be to answer any valuable purpose? Certainly no. It will be to bind yourselves, [unclear: under] the unlimited sway of Arbitrary power, in the hands of those men, who, to make use of you, for the accomplishment of their purposes, will smile upon you, and promise you fair things; but once they have got their ends, will make you and your prosperity feel the heavy hand of their oppression. Perhaps, (as has been intimated by some) you have the promise of obtaining the rebels' (as they are called) lands and estates. But will you act the parts of assassins, and robbers, for these! Surely not. Is there not a day coming, when a righteous judge will make inquisition for these things? But after you have got these, must not the present designs of Parliament, ( I mean the corrupt part of it,) be answered by the taxes, that will [Pg. 15] be laid upon them. Above all, consider that by joining in with the designs of the Ministers, you conspire against the liberty of Conscience, and would extinguish that precious jewel out of the Constitution.

But what prospect have you of success? It is true you have a number of men amongst you, and I doubt not, many of them valiant men, who are associating with you, who, for want of better information, do what they do. But what are they, to the rest of the twenty thousand of South Carolina, and the united power of the other Twelve Confederate Provinces, who are ready to give their aid. Consider how, if once they get to the height of exasperation, not only your own blood may be shed, but also your innocent Wives, and children may share in the unhappy fate. The Indians already vow revenge for the loss of the powder, which, you may be assured, (whatever you may suspect) was sent only to keep them in friendship, instead of bringing them upon you. Who [Pg. 16] could have acted so inhuman a part?

If you have been privately injured, or your concerns not so tenderly attended-to, as you could desire; remember that taking up of arms is not the most likely way to get redress. Rather fall upon cool measures. Rather join in with the great body of America; and as friend with friend, endeavor to promote the good of the Whole. Should you appoint some sensible and honest men, that you could confide in, to inquire into the truth of those things I have asserted, you may be assured you will find them true.

Thus Sirs I have endeavored to discharge my conscience, in what appeared to me to be my duty, in laying these things before you. What I have said has been impartial. My undertaking has been private and voluntary, not for reward, as you may suppose.

When I was lately among you, I would have come to your camp, and there would have conversed with you about [Pg.17] these things, only that I understood you were making some prisoners. If these lines may be a means to convince any and so stop the effusion of human blood, I shall have gained my end. Which that it may be, is my sincere and hearty prayer to Almighty God.

A Loyal Subject

High Hills of Santee
November 1775

First draught of an address written by R. F. to the inhabitants of South Carolina who resided between the Broad and Saludy Rivers, at the time they were embodying in the year 1775 in opposition to the authority of the American Congress. -- It was a private and voluntary undertaking; but General Richardson having seen it, directly after he had set out on his expedition, had several copies taken and sent before his army among the disaffected public.

Transcribed by Leroy Butler, Department of History, Furman University, from an original in the Baptist Historical Collection, Furman University Library.