ON THE EAST INDIA COMPANY
(Introductory note and edited document contributed by Dr. Mary Gallagher)
The author of this clever piece of republican
propaganda, which appeared in Philadelphia twelve days before Bostonians
held their tea party, has not been identified.
Since he stresses the commonality of interest between artisans
and merchants, he was as likely to have been a merchant spokesman as a
mechanic. Nevertheless, he
accurately articulates the ideology that moved tradesmen to resist
Parliament’s attempts to tax the colonies. The unity he attempted to
forge did not endure. Before
the end of the decade Philadelphia’s artisans would accuse wealthy
merchants of the same price-gouging practices with which the
“Mechanic” charged the East India Company.
my dear and much respected brethren,
a Time when a corrupt and prostituted Ministry are pointing their
destructive Machines against the sacred Liberties of the Americans,
the Eyes of all Europe are
upon us; and much is expected from the known Resolution and Conduct of
the Pennsylvanians, amongst
whom the industrious and respectable Body of tradesmen
and mechanics bear a very
large Proportion. The Point
in Question is, Whether we have Property of our own,
or Not? Whether our Property, and the dear-earned Fruits of our Labour,
are at our own Disposal, or shall be wantonly wrested from us, by a Set
of luxurious, abandoned and piratical Hirelings, to be appropriated by
them to increase the Number of such infamous Pensioners, and support
their unlimited Extravagance? The
Result depends on our determined Virtue and Integrity, at so important a
Nature of the detestable tea-scheme,
and the pernicious Consequences of submitting to receive it amongst us,
subject to a Duty payable here, and levied on us without our Consent,
have been so judiciously set forth, and demonstrated by abler Pens, as
to leave no Room for one of my Capacity to undertake it: and if the
trifling Duty of Three-Pence
were only to be considered, it would not be worth our while to
oppose it; nor worth while for the Ministry so strenuously to insist on,
and take off, in Lieu thereof, a much greater Sum payable in London: But, that by this Breach (though small) they will enter the
Bulwark of our sacred Liberties, and will never desist, till they have
made a Conquest of the Whole.
arbitrary Measures we have virtuously opposed hitherto: Let us for our
own Sakes, for our Posterity’s Sake, for our Country’s Sake, steadfastly persevere in opposing to the End.
Corruption, Extravagance, and Luxury, are seldom found in the
Habitations of Tradesmen. Industry,
Śconomy, Prudence, and Fortitude, generally inhabit there: and I expect
to see these commendable Virtues shine forth upon the present Occasion,
with more than brilliant Lustre.
not the artful Insinuation of our Enemies, That
the Duty will be paid in England, by the East-India Company, and not in
America, have any Weight amongst us: This is one of their Toils to
ensnare us. The Act of 11th
of Geo. 3, expressly lays the
aforesaid Duty, on all Teas
imported in America from England, payable on its landing here: And no private Contract
between the East India Company
and the Lords of the Treasury, no Power under the Crown, nor even the
King himself, can dispense with, set aside, disannul, or make void such
a Clause, or any other in any Act of Parliament, but the same Power and
Authority by which it was enacted.
The grand Point in View is, by every Artifice to enslave the American
Colonies, and to plunder them of their Property, and what is more, their
Birth-Right, liberty. It is therefore highly encumbent on us unitedly, with Heart
and Soul, to resist the diabolical Delusion, and despise the infamous
supposing the Act was repealed, and the Tea could be imported free of
any Duty, Impost, or Custom; yet is it not a most gross and daring
Insult to pilfer the Trade from the Americans,
and lodge it in the Hands of the East
India Company? Let us
not be prevailed upon to suppose that this will affect the Merchants
only: - We need not concern ourselves with it: - It will first most
sensibly affect the Merchants: but it will also very materially affect you,
me, and every Member of the Community.
The East India Company
at present have shipped their desperate Adventure in chartered Bottoms;
it was prudent so to do, or else possibly their obnoxious Vessels and
Cargoes might become a sacrifice to the Resentment of a much injured and
exasperated People. The
same Consideration might probably have induced them to appoint our
Merchants their Agents to support the first heat of Action, rightly
judging that if we would chastise our Friends with
Whips, we should chastise their Factors with
Scorpions. But if they
can once open the Channel of Trade to themselves, they will hereafter
ship their Teas in their own Bottoms.
They have passed a gross Affront upon our Merchants in appointing
such, whom we respect, Commissioners.
Hereafter, if they succeed, they will send their own Factors and
Creatures, establish Houses amongst US, Ship US all other East-India
Goods; and in order to full freight their Ships, take in other Kind of
Goods at under Freight, or (more probably) ship them on their own
Accounts to their own Factors, and under-sell our Merchants, till they
monopolize the whole Trade. Thus
our merchants are ruined, Ship Building ceases.
They will then sell Goods at any exorbitant Price.
Our Artificers will be unemployed, and every Tradesman will groan
under dire Oppression.
East India Company, if once
they get Footing in this (once) happy Country, will leave no Stone
unturned to become your Masters. They
are an oppulent Body, and Money or Credit is not wanting amongst them.
They have a designing depraved, and despotic Ministry to assist
and support them. They
themselves are well versed in tyranny,
plunder, oppression, and bloodshed.
Whole Provinces labouring under the Distresses of Oppression,
Slavery, Famine, and the Sword, are familiar to them.
Thus they have enriched themselves,Thus they are become the most
powerful Trading Company in the Universe.
Be, therefore, my dear Fellow-Tradesmen, prudent, be watchful, be
determined to let no Motive induce you to favour the accursed Scheme.
Reject every Proposal, but a repealing
Act. Let not their
baneful Commodity enter your City.
Treat every Aidor or Abettor with Ignominy, Contempt, &c.,
and let your whole Department prove to the World, “that
we will be free indeed.”