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Thoughts on Independence

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

July 1.–Every moment that I reflect on our affairs, the more I am convinced of the necessity of a formal declaration of Independence. Reconciliation is thought of now by none but knaves, fools, and madmen; and as we cannot offer terms of peace to Great Britain, until, as other nations have done before us, we agree to call ourselves by some name, I shall rejoice to hear the title of the United States of America, in order that we may be on a proper footing to negotiate a peace.

Besides, the condition of those brave fellows who have fallen into the enemy’s hands as prisoners, and the risk which every man runs, who bears arms either by land or sea in the American cause, makes a declaration of Independence absolutely necessary, because no proper cartel for an exchange of prisoners can take place while we remain dependants. It is some degree of comfort to a man, taken prisoner, that he belongs to some national power, is the subject of some state that will see after him. Oliver Cromwell would have sent a memorial as powerful as thunder to any king on earth, who dared to use prisoners in the manner which ours have been. What is it that we have done in this matter? Nothing. We are subjects of Great Britain and must not do these things! Shame on your cowardly souls that do them not! You are not fit to govern!

Were Britain to make a conquest of America, I would for my own part choose rather to be conquered as an independent state than as an acknowledged rebel. Some foreign powers might interpose for us in the first case, but they cannot in the latter, because the law of all nations is against us. Besides, the foreign European powers will not long be neutral, and unless we declare an independence, and send embassies to seek their friendship, Britain will be beforehand with us; for the moment that she finds she cannot make a conquest of America, by her own strength, she will endeavor to make an European affair of it. Upon the whole, we may be benefited by independence, but we cannot be hurt by it, and every man that is against it is a traitor. 1


1 “Republican,” in the Pennsylvania Evening Post, June 29.