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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

The Arraignment of George III.

By William Henry Drayton (1742–1779)

[Born at Drayton Hall, Ashley River, S. C., 1742. Died in Philadelphia, Penn., 1779. From a Charge to the Grand Jury of Charleston, S. C., 23 April, 1776.]

THE HOUSE of Brunswick was yet scarcely settled in the British throne, to which it had been called by a free people, when, in the year 1719, our ancestors in this country, finding that the government of the lords proprietors operated to their ruin, exercised the rights transmitted to them by their forefathers of England; and, casting off the proprietary authority, called upon the house of Brunswick to rule over them—a house elevated to royal dominion, for no other purpose than to preserve to a people their unalienable rights. The king accepted the invitation, and thereby indisputably admitted the legality of that revolution. And in so doing, by his own act, he vested in those our forefathers, and us their posterity, a clear right to effect another revolution, if ever the government of the house of Brunswick should operate to the ruin of the people. So the excellent Roman emperor, Trajan, delivered a sword to Saburanus, his captain of the Prætorian guard, with this admired sentence: “Receive this sword, and use it to defend me if I govern well, but against me, if I behave ill.”

With joyful acclamations our ancestors, by act of Assembly, passed on the 18th day of August, 1721, recognized the British monarch. The virtues of the second George are still revered among us—he was the father of his people: and it was with ecstasy we saw his grandson, George the Third, mount the throne possessed of the hearts of his subjects.

But alas! almost with the commencement of his reign, his subjects felt causes to complain of government. The reign advanced—the grievances became more numerous and intolerable—the complaints more general and loud—the whole empire resounded with the cries of injured subjects! At length, grievances being unredressed and ever increasing; all patience being borne down; all hope destroyed; all confidence in royal government blasted!—Behold! the empire is rent from pole to pole!—perhaps to continue asunder forever.

The catalogue of our oppressions, continental and local, is enormous. Of such oppressions, I will mention only some of the most weighty.

Under color of law, the king and parliament of Great Britain have made the most arbitrary attempts to enslave America:

By claiming a right to bind the colonies “in all cases whatsoever;”

By laying duties, at their mere will and pleasure, upon all the colonies;

By suspending the legislature of New York;

By rendering the American charters of no validity, having annulled the most material parts of the charter of the Massachusetts Bay;

By divesting multitudes of the colonists of their property, without legal accusation or trial;

By depriving whole colonies of the bounty of Providence on their own proper coasts, in order to coerce them by famine;

By restricting the trade and commerce of America;

By sending to, and continuing in America, in time of peace, an armed force, without and against the consent of the people;

By granting impunity to a soldiery instigated to murder the Americans;

By declaring, that the people of Massachusetts Bay are liable for offences, or pretended offences, done in that colony, to be sent to, and tried for the same in England, or in any colony where they cannot have the benefit of a jury of the vicinage;

By establishing in Quebec the Roman Catholic religion, and an arbitrary government, instead of the Protestant religion and a free government.

And thus America saw it demonstrated, that no faith ought to be put in a royal proclamation; for I must observe to you that, in the year 1763, by such a proclamation, people were invited to settle in Canada, and were assured of a legislative representation, the benefit of the common law of England, and a free government. It is a misfortune to the public, that this is not the only instance of the inefficacy of a royal proclamation.