Editor’s note: A month before the July 4, 1776 Declaration of Independence was penned, the residents of this seacoast town in Massachusetts called upon the representative of Scituate to support their sentiment to break from Britain, which in their estimation was seeking “to extirpate the Americans from the face of the earth, if possible, unless they tamely resign the rights of humanity”.
Recommendation for Independence by Scituate, Mass., Residents
SCITUATE, PLYMOUTH COUNTY.
Instructions to NATHAN GUSHING, Esq˙, Representative of the Town of SCITUATE, June 4, 1776.
The inhabitants of this town being called together on the recommendation of our General Assembly, to signify our minds on the great point of independence on Great Britain, think fit to instruct you on that head. The Ministry of that kingdom having formed a design of subjecting the Colonies to a distant, external, and absolute power, in all cases whatsoever, wherein the Colonies have not, nor, in the nature of things, can have any share by representation, have for a course of years past exerted their utmost art and endeavour to press the same plan, so destructive to both countries, into execution; but finding it, through the noble and virtuous opposition of the sons of freedom, impracticable, by means of mere political artifice and corruption, they have at length had a fatal recourse to a standing army, so repugnant to the nature of a free Government, to fire and sword, to bloodshed and devastation, calling in the aid of foreign troops, as well as endeavouring to stir up the savages of the wilderness to exercise their barbarities upon us; being determined by all appearances, if practicable, to extirpate the Americans from the face of the earth, if possible, unless they tamely resign the rights of humanity, and to re-people this once happy country with the ready sons of vassalage, if such can be found: We, therefore, apprehending such a subjection utterly inconsistent with the just rights and blessings of society, unanimously instruct you to endeavour that our Delegates in Congress be informed, in case that Representative body of the Continent should think fit to declare the Colonies independent of Great Britain, of our readiness and determination to assist, with our lives and fortunes, in support of that (as we apprehend) necessary measure.
Touching other matters, we trust in your discretion, fidelity, and zeal, for the publick welfare, to propose and forward all such measures as you shall apprehend may tend to our necessary defence in the present threatening aspect of affairs, or to promoting the internal peace, order, and good Government of this Colony.
American Archives, Series Four, Vol 6, Peter Force, Ed., Washington, p. 699
1776, David McCullough, New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005