While the shadow of hope remained that our enemies could be taught by our example to respect those laws which are held sacred among civilized nations, and to comply with the dictates of a religion which they pretend, in common with us, to believe and revere, they have been left to the influence of that religion and that example. But since their incorrigible dispositions cannot be touched by kindness and compassion, it becomes our duty by other means to vindicate the rights of humanity.
We, therefore, the Congress of the United States of America, do solemnly declare and proclaim that if our enemies presume to execute their threats, or persist in their present career of barbarity, we will take such exemplary vengeance as shall deter others from a like conduct. We appeal to the God who searcheth the hearts of men for the rectitude of our intentions; and in his holy presence declare that, as we are not moved by any light or hasty suggestions of anger or revenge, so through every possible change of fortune we will adhere to this our determination.
Done in Congress by unanimous consent, the thirtieth day of October, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-eight.
1 Also attributed to Adams by Niles, Principles and Acts, pp. 476, 477.
[W. V. Wells, Life of Samuel Adams, vol. iii., pp. 56, 57; a draft is in the Samuel Adams Papers, Lenox Library.]
Philadelphia, Nov. 1, 1778.
My dear sir,—
I duly received your favor of October—by the last post, and should have immediately answered it, had I not been that day exceedingly engaged. I do not keep copies of all my letters,—they are trifles. You were mistaken in supposing that I ascribed the independence of America to New England only. I never was so assuming as to think so. My words are, that America is obliged to New England, and this is an acknowledged truth. It is the opinion of others, as well as myself, that the principles and manners of New England, from time to time, led to that great event. I pray God she may ever maintain those principles which, in my opinion, are essentially necessary to support and perpetuate her liberty. You may see my sentiments of the patriotism of other States in a letter I lately wrote to Mrs. Adams (if it is in being), in which I relate a conversation which passed between Monsieur -------- and myself. But enough of this. I love my country. My fears concerning her are that she will ruin herself by idolatry.