Posted by: Democratic Thinker | December 6, 2010

Christopher Gadsden: Report of the Stamp Act Congress

Background of the American Revolution

Christopher Gadsden, an ardent supporter of a united American effort to protect the rights of the colonies, reports the actions of the Stamp Act Congress of October 1765 to the agent of the South Carolina Colony.

There ought to be no New England men, no New Yorker, &c., known on the Continent, but all of us Americans; a confirmation of our essential and common rights as Englishmen may be pleaded from the Charters safely enough, but any farther dependence on them may be fatal.

To Charles Garth, Agent of the Colony.


Charles Town, So. Carolina, DEC. 20, 1765.

Dear Sir,

AS I am persuaded it will give you pleasure to hear what our Assembly has done in the common cause, in order to promote the important matters agreed upon at the Congress, I will make no further apology for giving you an account thereof.

As Mr. Lynch, Rutledge and myself were informed at New York that our Assembly were to meet the 28th October, we thought it absolutely necessary that one of us should set off as speedily as possible, after the breaking up of the Congress, in order to catch our House before their adjournment. This fell to my lot, and accordingly I left York with the papers, two days after, in a very small schooner, crowded with passengers, full of these hopes; but, unfortunately, through the over-timorousness of the master, who stretched too far to the eastward, I did not get here till the 13th last month, and in less than forty-eight hours after, had the pleasure of seeing my worthy colleagues, Mr. Lynch and Mr. Rutledge, in a short passage by the way of Philadelphia. We found the Assembly (not expecting us so soon) had adjourned to the 25th of last month. As soon as we arrived and could get copies of the Minutes of the Congress made out, we dispatched them as we were desired to Georgia and North Carolina. The 26th, a House was made, and passed the inclosed report, together with the Minutes of the Congress, their Declarations of opinion and the engrossed Addresses to the King, Lords and Commons, then laid before them. The Declarations and the Addresses were accordingly read that morning, and then the House adjourned to 4 o’clock, P. M., of the same day, when the whole was agreed to unanimously (excepting by one member) totidem verbis, and the Addresses ordered to be signed by the Speaker; and, as a fine ship, the only one then in harbor that had cleared before the first of November for any part of Great Britain, was ready and obliged to sail the next morning, being a spring ship, the Commissioner of Correspondence was immediately ordered to write a letter to the Agent and enclose them, which was done, and the vessel, the Charming Charlotte, Capt. Reeves, luckily had an opportunity of getting over the bar the next morning with a very fine wind. The next day the House did us the honor to give us their thanks by the Speaker signifying their approbation of our whole conduct in the most ample and obliging manner.

A Committee was afterwards appointed to draw up such particular Resolutions on the present occasion as were thought necessary for the House to enter into, which accordingly they did, and reported, and to which, after making a very few alterations, the House agreed, and ordered to be published—inclosed is one of these publications. As soon as this business was completed the House adjourned till after Christmas, (to the 7th January,) having just ordered the Commissioner of Correspondence to write more fully to the Agent upon these important matters by a packet that will sail in about ten or twelve days. The short letter that has been already sent to the Agent you have herewith a copy of, as also of another wrote by Mr. Lynch, Mr. Rutledge, and myself from New York the day after the Congress, and put into Capt. Davis’ bag the morning I sailed. Our people have behaved as firmly in the common cause as any upon the Continent, without having done the least mischief, and I make little doubt of their continuing so to do, though we have a number of cunning, jacobitical, Butean rascals to encounter, that leave nothing untried to counterwork the firmness and loyalty of the true sons of liberty among us; these are such infernal fiends as none of the sister colonies north of us have to dread, but with all their cunning (though that is generally accounted a more formidable enemy than mere force), I hope, and indeed don’t doubt but the wretched miscreants will find themselves disappointed, and their American posterity, as well as ourselves by our uniform spirit of firmness, made happy in the preservation of their and our just rights and privileges, whether they will or no. The friends of liberty here are all as sensible as our brethren to the northward, that nothing will save us but acting together. That province that endeavors to act separately will certainly gain nothing by it; she must fall with the rest, and not only so, but be deservedly branded besides with everlasting infamy.

For my part, I have ever been of opinion, that we should all endeavor to stand upon the broad and common ground of those natural and inherent rights that we all feel and know, as men and as descendants of Englishmen, we have a right to, and have always thought this bottom amply sufficient for our future importance. I wish that the charters, (we have ——— one as most) being different in different colonies, may not be the political trap that will ensnare us at last by drawing different colonies upon that account to act differently in this great and common cause, and whenever that is the case, all will be over with the whole. There ought to be no New England men, no New Yorker, &c., known on the Continent, but all of us Americans; a confirmation of our essential and common rights as Englishmen may be pleaded from the Charters safely enough, but any farther dependence on them may be fatal. I am the more rivetted into this opinion from all ministerial writers that I have seen, fas est et ab hoste doceri, and from none more than the famous author of the regulations lately made concerning the colonies, published the present year with great eclat, pages 17 and 18, also page 22 where he informs us of the reasons why the new provinces are not yet permitted to have Assemblies, which are easily seen through. ‘Tis pity that every Assembly in each province should not have a constant eye upon the attacks that may be made upon the essential part of the British Constitution in any, and the agents of the whole ordered to assist upon such occasions, for any single province being once deprived of a material right, ‘tis presently made a precedent for the rest. The late attacks on different parts of the Constitution in different places are very alarming and have the appearance of design; in New York on one point, in our province on another, in Jamaica on a third, in Maryland on several, and the striding encroachments of the Council almost every where, except in your happy province in this respect, &c, &c, this by the by—. I still wish what Mr. Lynch and I were so earnestly for at the Congress, that we had stopt at the Declarations and Petition to the King, as the House of Commons refused ——— to the ——— of the Colonies, when the matter was pending in Parliament, as we neither hold our rights from them or the Lords. His Majesty is, in the petition, desired to lay the matter before the Parliament. However, as the Congress thought otherwise, and union is most certainly all in all, the Memorial to the Lords and Petition to the Commons were supported by us here equally with as much zeal as if we had voted for them at the Congress, and God send the desired success and establish harmony once more between us and our mother country. But had we consented to the addition that was so strenuously proposed to be made to the first Declaration of the Opinion of the Congress, I am sure we should have been far, very far from having the thanks of our House. The attachment the eastern gentlemen seemed to have to it, I imputed to their Charters, but I must own I was unable to account how any other gentlemen could be so particularly fond of it. I wish these Charters may not be the bane of us at last, as it seems to be the common fetch of the P—t, and ministerial writers at present that the King could not grant us those exemptions that are claimed Under them.