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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

A Tory’s Petition to the Continental Congress

By James Rivington (1724–1802)

[Born in London, England, about 1724. Died in New York, 1802. From Sabine’s American Loyalists. 1847.]

WHEREAS the subscriber, by the freedom of his publications during the present unhappy disputes between Great Britain and her Colonies, has brought upon himself much public displeasure and resentment, in consequence of which his life has been endangered, his property invaded, and a regard to his personal safety requires him still to be absent from his family and business; and whereas, it has been ordered by the Committee of Correspondence for the city of New York, that a report of the state of his case should be made to the Continental Congress, that the manner of his future treatment may be submitted to their direction; he thinks himself happy in having at last for his judges, gentlemen of eminent rank and distinction in the Colonies, from whose enlarged and liberal sentiments, he flatters himself that he can receive no other than an equitable sentence, unbiased by popular clamor and resentment. He humbly presumes that the very respectable gentlemen of the Congress now sitting at Philadelphia, will permit him to declare, and, as a man of honor and veracity, he can and does solemnly declare, that however wrong and mistaken he may have been in his opinions, he has always meant honestly and openly to do his duty as a servant of the public. Accordingly his conduct, as a printer, has always been conformable to the ideas which he entertained of English liberty, warranted by the practice of all printers in Great Britain and Ireland for a century past, under every administration; authorized, as he conceives, by the laws of England, and countenanced by the declaration of the late Congress. He declares that his press has been always open and free to all parties, and for the truth of this fact, appeals to his publications, among which are to be reckoned all the pamphlets, and many of the best pieces, that have been written in this and the neighboring Colonies in favor of the American claims. However, having found that the inhabitants of the Colonies were not satisfied with this plan of conduct, a few weeks ago he published in his paper a short apology, in which he assured the public that he would be cautious for the future of giving any further offence. To this declaration he resolves to adhere, and he cannot but hope for the patronage of the public, so long as his conduct shall be found to correspond with it. It is his wish and ambition to be an useful member of society. Although an Englishman by birth, he is an American by choice, and he is desirous of devoting his life, in the business of his profession, to the service of the country he has adopted for his own. He lately employed no less than sixteen workmen, at near one thousand pounds annually; and his consumption of printing paper, the manufacture of Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, and the Massachusetts Bay, has amounted to nearly that sum. His extensive foreign correspondence, his large acquaintance in Europe and America and the manner of his education, are circumstances which, he conceives, have not improperly qualified him for the station in which he wishes to continue, and in which he will exert every endeavor to be useful. He therefore humbly submits his case to the honorable gentlemen now assembled in the Continental Congress and begs that their determination may be such as will secure him, especially as it is the only thing that can effectually secure him, in the safety of his person, the enjoyment of his property, and the uninterrupted prosecution of his business.
May 20, 1775.