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[335] ‘without the least claim of pre-eminence one over the
chap. XVIII.} 1765. Oct.

The Congress entered directly on the consideration of the safest groundwork on which to rest the collective American liberties. Should they build on charters, or natural justice; on precedents and fact, or abstract truth; on special privileges, or universal season? Otis was instructed by Boston to support not only the liberty of the colonies, but also chartered rights. Johnson, of Connecticut, submitted a paper, which pleaded charters from the crown. But Robert R. Livingston, of New-York, ‘the goodness of whose heart set him above prejudices, and equally comprehended all mankind,’ would not place the hope of America on that foundation;1 and Gadsden, of South Carolina, giving utterance to the warm impulses of a brave and noble nature, spoke against it with irresistible impetuosity. ‘A confirmation of our essential and common rights as Englishmen,’ thus he himself reports his sentiments,2 ‘may be pleaded from charters safely enough; but any further dependence upon them may be fatal. We should stand upon the broad common ground of those natural rights that we all feel and know as men, and as descendants of Englishmen. I wish the charters may not ensnare us at last, by drawing different colonies to act differently in this great cause. Whenever that is the case, all will be over with the whole. There ought to be no New England man, no New-Yorker, known on the continent, but all of us Americans.’

These views prevailed; and in the proceedings of the Congress, the argument for American liberty

1 R. R. Livingston, jr., to the historian, Gordon.

2 Ms. Letter of Christopher Gadsden.

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