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On the Prospects of War in America

To the Printer of the Public Advertiser.

SIR, PACIFICUS, in your Paper of Friday last, tells us, that the Inhabitants of New England are “descended from the Stiff-Rumps in Oliver’s Time;” and he accounts for their being “so tenacious of what they call their Rights and Liberties,” from the “independent Principles handed down to them by their Forefathers, and that Spirit of Contradiction, which, he says, is the distinguishing Characteristic of Fanaticism.” But it seems the Inhabitants of Virginia and Maryland, who are descended from the Royalists of the Church of England, driven hence by those very Oliverian Stiff-Rumps, and never tinctured with Fanaticism, are, in the present Case as stiff-rump’d as the others, and even led the Way in asserting what “they call their Rights.” So that his Hypothesis of Fanaticism appears insufficient to account for the Opposition universally given to the Stamp-Act in America; and I fancy the Gentleman thought so himself, as he mends it a little after, by lumping all the Americans under the general Character of “House-breakers and Felons.”

Supposing them such, his Proposal of “vacating all their Charters, taking away the Power of their Assemblies, and sending an armed Force among them, to reduce them all to a military Government, in which the Order of a commanding Officer is to be their Law,” will certainly be a very justifiable Measure. I have only some Doubts as to the Expediency of it, and the Facility of carrying it into Execution. For I apprehend ’tis not unlikely they may set their Rumps more stiffly against this Method of Government, than ever they did against that by Act of Parliament. But, on second Thoughts, I conceive it may possibly do very well: For though there should be, as ’tis said there are, at least 250,000 fighting Men among them, many of whom have lately seen Service; yet, as one Englishman is to be sure as good as five Americans, I suppose it will not require Armies of above 50,000 Men in the whole, sent over to the different Parts of that extensive Continent, for reducing them; and that a three or four Years Civil War, at perhaps a less Expence than ten or twelve Millions a Year, Transports and Carriages included, will be sufficient to compleat Pacificus‘s Pacification, notwithstanding any Disturbance our restless Enemies in Europe might think fit to give us while engaged in this necessary Work. I mention three or four Years only; for I can never believe the Americans will be able to spin it out to seventy, as the Hollanders did the War for their Liberties against Spain, how much soever it may be found the Interest of our own numerous Commissaries, Contractors, and Officers afraid of Half Pay, to continue and protract it.

It may be objected, that by ruining the Colonies, killing one half the People, and driving the rest over the Mountains, we may deprive ourselves of their Custom for our Manufactures: But a Moment’s Consideration will satisfy us, that since we have lost so much of our European Trade, it can only be the Demand in America that keeps up, and has of late so greatly enhanced the Price of those Manufactures, and therefore a Stop put to that Demand will be an Advantage to us all, as we may thereafter buy our own Goods cheaper for our own Use at home. I can think of but one Objection more, which is, that Multitudes of our Poor may starve for want of Employment. But our wise Laws have provided a Remedy for that. The Rich are to maintain them. I am, SIR, Your humble Servant, PACIFICUS SECUNDUS.

The Public Advertiser, January 2, 1766