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To Robert Jordan, and others the Friends of the Yearly Meeting for Business, now conven'd in Philadelphia.


IT is with no small Uneasiness that I find myself concerned to apply thus to this Meeting: But as I have been longer and more deeply engaged in Affairs of Go­vernment, and I believe I may safely say, have considered the Nature of it more closely than any Man besides in this Province; as I have also from my Infancy been educated in the Way that I have ever since walked in, and I hope without Blemish to the Profession; I conceive and hope you will think I have a Right to lay before you, the heavy Pressure of Mind that some late Transactions in this small Government of ours have given me, through an Apprehension, that not only the Reputation of Friends, as a People, but our Liberties and Privileges in general may be deeply affected by them.

But on this Head I think fit to mention, in the first Place, That when, above Forty-two Years since, our late Proprietor proposed to me at Bristol, to come over with him as his Secretary; after I had, agreeably to his Advice, taken Time to consider of it, which I did very closely before I engaged, I had no Scruple to accept of that, or of any other Post I have since held: Being sensible, that as Government is absolutely necessary amongst Mankind, so, tho' all Government, as I had clearly seen long be­fore, is founded on Force, there must be some proper Persons to administer it; I was therefore the more surprised, when I found my Master, on a particular Occasion in our Voyage hither, tho' coming over to exercise the Powers of it here in his own Person, shew'd his Sentiments were otherwise. But as I have ever endeavoured to think and act consistently myself, observing Friends had laid it down as their Prin­ciple, That Bearing of Arms, even for Self-Defence, is unlawful; being of a diffe­rent Opinion in this Respect, tho' I ever condemned offensive War, I therefore, in a great Measure, declined that due Attendance on their Meetings of Business, which I might otherwise have given. I must here nevertheless add further, that I propose not, in offering this, to advance Arguments in Support of the Lawfulness of Self-Defence; which, amongst those, who, for Conscience Sake, continue in a Condition to put strictly in Practice the Precepts of our Saviour, would be altogether needless; but where-ever there is private Property, and Measures taken to increase it, by amassing Wealth, according to our Practice, to a Degree that may tempt others to invade it, it has always appeared to me, to be full as justifiable to use Means to defend it when got, as to acquire it. Notwithstanding which, I am sensible our [...] have so openly and repeatedly professed their Principles on that Head to the Government, and they have thereupon been so much distinguished by its Favours, [...] peaceable People, from whom no Plots or Machinations of any Kind are to be [...] that I shall consider this, as I have said, to be their standing and avowed Principle, and only offer to your Consideration, what I conceive to be a clear De­monstration, that all Civil Government, as well as Military, is founded on Force; and therefore, that Friends, as such, in the Strictness of their Principles, ought in no manner to engage in it: As also that as we are a subordinate Government, and therefore accountable to a superiour One for our Conduct, it is expected by that Supe­riour, [Page 2]that this Province, as well as all the other British Colonies, shall make the best Defence, against a foreign Enemy, in its Power, as it was strictly required to do by the late Queen, in the last French War, upon which the then Governor raised a Militia of three Companies of Voluntiers, but for Want of a Law for its Support, it dropt in about two Years after; and the like Orders may undoubtedly [...] again, when another War with France breaks out, which is said now to unavoidable: That it is of the greater Importance to Britain, as it is, for [...] sons, most assuredly to ourselves, that the Country should be defended, as it [...] the Heart of the other British Colonies on the Main: And that it is well [...] Europe, that from the vast Conflux of People yearly into it, from Germ [...] Ireland, Numbers, who can bear Arms, are not wanting for a Defence, were [...] Law for it, as there is in all the other British Colonies, I think, without Exception.

That all Government is founded on Force, and ours as well as others, will be in­disputably evident from this: King Charles II. in his Grant of this Province to our Proprietor, directed, that the Laws of England, for the Descent of Lands, and for the Preservation of the Peace, should continue the same till alter'd by the Legislative Authority; and our Government continues still on the same Plan, with Judges, Justices, Sheriffs, Coroners, Clerks, Juries, &c. all of whom, who act by Commis­sions, have them from the Governor in the English Form; the English Law is plead­ed in all our Courts, and our Practitioners copy, as near as they can, after the Prac­tice of Westminster-Hall. By that Law, when the Peace is commanded, even by a Constable, all Obedience to that Command manifestly arises from a Sense in the Person or Persons commanded, that his Resistance would be punished, and therefore they chuse to avoid it: But in Civil Cases of more Importance, the Sheriff, who is the principal executive Officer, executes the Judgments of the Courts upon those they were given against, which they are obliged to comply with, how much soever against their Will; for here also they know Resistance would be in vain; or if they attempt any, the Sheriff is obliged by the Law, without any Manner of Excuse, to find a sufficient Force, if to be had in his County, to compel to a Compliance. And in the Pleas of the Crown, besides that he is obliged to put to Death such Cri­minals as by the Law have been condemned to it, he, as general Conservator of the Peace, is likewise invested, by the same Law, with proper Powers for suppressing all Tumults, Riots, Insurrections and Rebellions, on whatsoever Occasion they may arise, as far as the whole Posse or Force of his County will enable him; and for this End he receives, together with his Commission, the King's Writ of Assistance, requiring all Persons within his District to be aiding to him, in these and all other Cases; by which, if Need be, they may freely use Fire-Arms, and all Manner of destructive Weapons; and are not at all accountable, by the Law, for any Lives they may take of those in the Opposition, any more than a Man is, on the High-Road, for killing another who attempts to rob him; and such as refuse to assist the Sheriff, are, by the same Law, liable to Fine and Imprisonment: From whence it is evident, there is no Difference, in the last Resort, between Civil and Military Go­vernment; and that the Distinction that some affect to make, between the Lawful­ness of the one and of the other, is altogether groundless. As no Man is kill'd in the Field, so none are punished, with their Good-will; a superiour Force is employed in the one Case as well as in the other; and the only Difference that I [...] ever able to discover in their Essentials, is, that the Sheriff being but one [...] his County, cannot possibly assemble any very great Number together, in [...] Method or Order, as in Case of any Insurrection in the City of Philadelpia [...] soon appear; but on the contrary, in a regular Militia, every Person [...] Commanding Officer, and whither to repair on a proper Call. And [...] Premises it certainly follows, that whoever can find Freedom in himself, [...] Assembly in making Laws, as particularly for holding of Courts, is so far concerned in Self-Defence; and makes himself essentially as obnoxious to Censure, as those who directly vote for it.

[Page 3] But further it is alledged, that King Charles II. very well knew our Proprietor's Principles when he granted him these Powers of Government, contained in the Charter: To which 'tis answer'd, that amongst the other Powers granted to the Proprietor and his Deputies, He is created by the Charter a Captain General, with Power to levy War on any People not in Amity with the Crown of England; which in case he was not free to do by himself, he might by his Deputies; and if he were in­vested with Powers to make an invasive War, much more it was to be expected that he should defend his Country against all Invaders. And I am a Witness, that in those two Years, or somewhat less, that the Proprietor took the Administration on himself, when last here, He found himself so embarassed between the indispensable Duties of Government on the one Hand, and his Profession on the other, that he was deter­mined, if he had staid, to act by a Deputy. It is further alledged, by our Friends, that no other was expected than that this should be a Colony of Quakers, and it is so reputed to this Day; that they are willing themselves to rely on the sole Protection of of divine Providence, and others who would not do the same should have kept out of it, for no-body called or invited them. But it is answered to this, That the King's Charter gives free Leave to all his Subjects, without Distinction, to repair to the Country and settle in it, and more particularly, the Proprietor's own Invitation was general and without Exception; and by the Laws he had pass'd himself, no Country, no Profession whatever, provided they own'd a God, were to be excluded. That 'tis true our Friends at first made a large Majority in the Province; yet they are said now to make, on a moderate Computation, not above one Third of the Inhabitants. That altho' they alledge they cannot for Conscience-sake bear Arms, as being contrary to the peaceable Doctrine of JESUS (whose own Disciples nevertheless are known to have carried Weapons) yet, without Regard to others of CHRIST's Precepts, full as express, against laying up Treasure in this World, and not caring for to-morrow, they are as intent as any others whatever in amassing Riches, the great Bait and Temp­tation to our Enemies to come and plunder the Place; in which Friends would be far from being the only Sufferers, for their Neighbours must equally partake with them who therefore, by all means desire a Law for a Militia, in a regular Manner to defend themselves and the Country, as they have in the other Colonies. That in the last French War, Pensilvania was but an inconsiderable Colony; but now, by its extended Commerce, it has acquired a very great Reputation; and particularly that Philadelphia has the Name of a rich City, is known to have no manner of Fortification, and is, as has been said, a tempting Bait by Water from the Sea; and by Land, the whole Country lies exposed to the French, with whom a War is daily expected: That in their last War with England, the French in Europe were so greatly distress'd, by a Current of yearly Losses, that they were glad to sit quiet where they might; but now 'tis much otherwise, as they appear rather in a Condition to give Laws to all their Neighbours: That our own Indians unhappily retiring Westward, have open'd a ready R [...] and Communication between this Province and Canada, by their settling [...] of that great [...] Mississipi; which Branch extending a thousand [...] from its Mouth, where it enter [...] [...] said River, reaches even into this Province, and between its Waters and the western Branches of Sasquchannah there is but a small Land-Carriage: That the French exceedingly want such a Country as this to supply their Islands with Provisions, and our Rivers for an easier Inlet to that vast Country of Louisiana, which they possess on Mississipi, than they now have by the barr'd Mouth of it, which empties itself a great Way within the Shoal-Bay of Mexico; and they have many large Nations of Indians in Alliance with them to facilitate their Conquests. For the which Reasons, our numerous back Inhabitants, as well as others, ought to be obliged to furnish themselves with Arms, and to be disciplined as in other Colonies for their own proper Defence, which would be no manner of Charge to the Publick, and but [...].

These, I think, are the principal Arguments adduced by those who plead for a Law for Self-Defence: To which I shall add these other weighty Considerations, that may more [Page 4]particularly affect Friends as a People; The Government at Home, and particularly the Parliament, appear to have this present War very much at Heart, in which they spare no Charge in fitting out large Fleets, with Land-Forces, and expect that all their Colonies will in the same Manner exert themselves, as the Assemblies of all the others have in some Measure done, ours excepted, not only in their Contributions, but they have also generally a regular Militia for their Defence.

Our Friends have recommended themselves to the Government in Britain, not on­ly by their peaceable Deportment, as has been already observed, but by complying with its Demands, in chearfully contributing by the Payment of their Taxes towards every War; yet they are admitted into no Offices of the Government above those of the respective Parishes where they live, except that some have undertaken to re­ceive the Publick Money; and tho' tolerated in their Opinions, as they interfere not with the Administration, yet these Opinions are so far from being approved by the Government, that when they shall be urged as a Negative to putting so valuable a Country as this, and scituate, as has been mentioned, in a proper Posture of Defence, those who plead their Privileges for such a Negative, may undoubtedly expect to be divested of them, either by Act of Parliament, or a Quo Warranto from the King against their Charters; for it will be accounted equal to betraying it. And this, besides the irreparable Loss to ourselves, must prove a Reproach, and vast Disad­vantage to the Profession every where.

'Tis alledged, the Governor made a false Step last Year in Encouraging or Suffering our Servants to inlist; for which he has been abridged by the Assembly of the Salary, for a Year and a half, that has for many Years before been allowed to our Governors. But as this is interpreted by the Ministry in Britain, as a Proof of an extraordinary Zeal for the King's Service, his Conduct herein, as also his Let­ter to the Board of Trade, however displeasing to us, will undoubtedly recommend him the more to the Regard of our Superiors, in whose Power we are; and accord­ingly we may expect to hear of it.

Our Province is now rent into Parties, and in a most unchristian Manner [...] Love and Charity, the great Characteristicks of the Christian Religion, are in a great Measure banished from amongst the People, and Contention too generally prevails. But, for the weighty Reasons that have been mentioned in this Paper, it is not to be doubted but that those who are for a Law for Defence, if the War continues, and the Country be not ruin'd by an Enemy before, must in Time obtain it: It is therefore proposed to the serious and most weighty Consideration of this Meeting, Whether it may not, at this Time, be adviseable, that all such who for Conscience-sake cannot join in any Law for Self-Defence, should not only decline standing Candidates at the ensuing Election for Representatives themselves, but also advise all others who are equally scrupulous, to do the same; and as Animosities and Faction have greatly prevailed amongst us of late, and at all Times there prevails with too many an ill­judged, parsimonious Disposition, who [...] Reason than to save [...] Money, but probably on some other Pretence, [...] Opposition to the Governor, may most [...] should give out publickly before hand, when they find they are named, that they will by no means serve tho' chosen; and accordingly that the Meeting recommend this to the Deputies from the several Monthly or Quarterly Meetings in this Province. All which, from the sincerest Zeal for the Publick Good, Peace of the Country, and not only the Reputation, but the most solid Interest of Friends as a People, is (I say again) most seriously recommended to your Consideration, by

Your true Friend and Well-wisher, J. L.

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