Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms

On this day in 1775, the Continental Congress issues a Declaration on the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms. The desired effect was for King George III to recognize the “severe and oppressive… tyranny” of Parliament and his ministers. That it was one day after the Olive Branch Petition underscores the tension of the times.

Even so, the king sided with Parliament. Thus, Congress had no choice but to proceed from a Declaration of Arms to a Declaration of Independence. After all, they had “pursued every temperate, every respectful measure.”

The Declaration and the Divine

Here are a few excerpts of the Declaration on the Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms

“If it was possible for men, who exercise their reason to believe, that the divine Author of our existence intended a part of the human race to hold an absolute property in, and an unbounded power over others, marked out by his infinite goodness and wisdom, as the objects of a legal domination never rightfully resistible, however severe and oppressive, the inhabitants of these colonies might at least require from the parliament of Great-Britain some evidence, that this dreadful authority over them, has been granted to that body. But a reverance for our Creator, principles of humanity, and the dictates of common sense, must convince all those who reflect upon the subject, that government was instituted to promote the welfare of mankind, and ought to be administered for the attainment of that end.”

“We gratefully acknowledge, as signal instances of the Divine favour towards us, that his Providence would not permit us to be called into this severe controversy, until we were grown up to our present strength, had been previously exercised in warlike operation, and possessed of the means of defending ourselves. With hearts fortified with these animating reflections, we most solemnly, before God and the world, declare, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have been compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverence, employ for the preservation of our liberties; being with one mind resolved to die freemen rather than to live slaves.”

“With an humble confidence in the mercies of the supreme and impartial Judge and Ruler of the Universe, we most devoutly implore his divine goodness to protect us happily through this great conflict, to dispose our adversaries to reconciliation on reasonable terms, and thereby to relieve the empire from the calamities of civil war.”

Causes and Necessity of Taking Up Arms

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