(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.  

December 4, 1773
To the tradesmen, mechanics, &c. Of the province of pennsylvania

my dear and much respected brethren,

At 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 Crisis.

The 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.

These 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.  

Let 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 Projectors.

But 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.

The 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.

Philadelphia, December 4, 1773.