January 19, 1776


George Washington and other patriot generals agree that troops cannot be spared for service in Canada and that Boston must be attacked before Howe receives reinforcements.

Thomas Jefferson reads in the Virginia Gazette the King’s speech, upon the convening of Parliament, declaring that the colonials were aiming at independence.  Said the King:  “The object is too important, the spirit of the British nation too high, the resources with which God hath blessed her too numerous, to give up so many colonies which she has planted with great industry, nursed with great tenderness, encouraged with many commercial advantages, and protected and defended at much expense and treasure.”

This paragraph sent Jefferson to his library to refute the King’s claim, which he does in a bound notebook.  Jefferson lays out a long history of Sir Walter Raleigh and the manner in which the Virginia colony comes about, claiming that it was with no British assistance.  The article ends with a few practice swings at the King, which Jefferson will renew in his Declaration of Independence.  “Kings are much to be pitied, who, misled by weak ministers, and deceived by wicked favourites, run into political errors, which involve their families in ruin: and it might prove some solace to his present majesty, when, fallen from the head of the greatest empire the world has seen, he shall again exhibit in the political system of Europe the original character of a petty king of Britain, could he impute his fall to error alone. Error is to be pitied and pardoned: it is the weakness of human nature. But vice is a foul blemish, not pardonable in any character. A king who can adopt falshood, and solemnize it from the throne, justifies the revolution of fortune which reduces him to a private station. When the accident of situation is to give us a place in history, for which nature has not prepared us by corresponding endowments, it is the duty of those about us carefully to veil from the public eye the weaknesses, and still more, the vices of our character. A minister who can prompt his sovereign publicly to betray either, will merit the perpetual execrations of those who, in the future page of history, shall see consecrated to infamy the names of their nearest relations. Such was the sovereign, and such the minister, of October the 28th. 1775.”

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