GaspeeVirtual Archives
Oration of Reverend John Allen
An Oration, Upon the Beauties of Liberty, Or the Essential Rights of the Americans.

Notes on John Allen and his "Oration on the Beauties of Liberty"

by Dr. John Concannon, webmaster, Gaspee Virtual Archives

 The Reverend John Allen was a rather strange individual, that happened to write some of the most influential discourses on American liberties in the period just prior to the Revolutionary War.  He earned an early reputation in Great Britain as a Calvinist-Baptist theologian with his publishing in the Royal Spiritual Magazine in 1752.  He is next found to have been a minister in Salisbury, England,  and in 1764 he assumed the role as pastor of the Particular Baptist Church in London. The Particular Baptists, remain to this day, a specific sect within the Baptist lines that hold to a Calvinist theology of predestination.  His side-line drapery business went bankrupt and he was confined in a debtor's prison for a short time.  He is next noted to have been dismissed from a post at a Broadstairs congregation "for bad behaviour." [1]  Returning to London in 1768, he taught school for a period before being arrested for forgery in 1769.

In 1770, Allen wrote the "Spirit of Liberty" [1b], an influential defense of both the Baptist religion and of American sympathizer, John Wilkes, who had recently been deposed from Parliament [2]. Realizing the necessity of leaving behind his spotted past, he wrote the piece under the pen name of 'Junius, junior'. ('Junius' [the elder] was a political essayist of the time whose "letters in the Public Advertiser made" Prime Minister Grafton (1768-1770) "and his administration the butt of fierce political satire"[3].) Ultimately Allen could not escape his reputation and left for America where he landed in New York  He subsequently found his way to Boston where by 1772 he was invited to preach at the Second Baptist Church.  In 1774, Allen moved to New Hampshire where he died in obscurity c1785-1788.  He was heralded as "New England's Tom Paine" by historians noting his influence on Revolutionary thinking.[4Paine, of course, was the author of the very popular Common Sense.

The "Oration on the Beauties of Liberty" was initially a sermon Allen preached to the Second Baptist Church in Boston Dec. 3, 1772, and which later was printed as a popular pamphlet in several editions and in several cities (4 in Boston, MA; 3 in New London, CT; and one in Wilmington, DE as of 1775).  It appears to have two distinct sections; the sermon as delivered (pages iii-xiv) followed by a second portion (pages 15-31) which was probably written after realizing the great reception by Bostonians to his spoken sermon. This second section appears to be a separate letter composed by Allen to Lord Dartmouth, and is notable in that the page numbers are in Arabic, rather than the Roman numerals of the sermon itself..  Whether the letter was actually sent to Lord Dartmouth personally is unknown.  According to Bradley, the complete text of "An Oration on the Beauties of Liberty" did not appear in the first editions of the printing, but were only added into the fourth and fifth Boston editions. [5] 

The publication "fast becomes the sixth-best-selling pamphlet in the colonies prior to the publication of the Declaration of Independence. It is a spirited defense of the rights of the American people. The American Alarm (1773) and The Watchman's Alarm (1774), rousing polemical works on behalf of independence, would follow." [6]  Sandoz relates that "A strong admixture of political theory and theology had by then become customary for Boston congregations, but it was less usual in Baptist churches; by any standard Allen was radical for the time." [7]

That Allen's "Oration" was both popular and influential there can be no doubt. William Leslie points out that, "The sermon answered directly Lord Dartmouth's letter to Governor Wanton which was, much to the chagrin of its author, edited and published in Boston soon after Wanton had received it." [p250] [8 One of the commissioners in the Gaspee investigation, New Jersey Chief Justice Frederick Smythe, stated less than two months after the sermon, that this "Seditious preacher harrangned [sic] his congregation, by means of which the alarm was effectually given, and the utmost horror excited in the minds of the people against the means intended to be taken by Government in the cause of Public Justice." [9]  By May, 1773, John Adams gave testimony into his diary of the furor created by Allen; "Coll. Otis reads to large Circles of the common People, Allens Oration on the Beauties of Liberty and recommends it as an excellent Production." [10]  The reference is, of course, to James Otis, the revolutionary thinker and Son of Liberty.

Allen's "Oration" is likely to have influenced political thinking at the critical time when the Committees of Correspondence were forming in direct reaction to both the Gaspee Affair and the subsequent, but unrelated, attempt by the British ministry to pay the salaries of Massachusetts colonial judges directly from the treasury.  Both of these events were considered by Allen to be deliberate and threatening attempts on American liberties, and both were cited by Thomas Jefferson as the key reasons members of the Virginia House of Burgesses met to form the first intercolonial Committee of Correspondence in March of 1773. [11]  Leslie states, "The importance of these two arguments thus linked together is difficult to exaggerate not only because they were widely disseminated but also because only here is there to be found a complete resolution of the basic conflict of laws and jurisdictions inherent in the Gaspee affair." [p251]

"An Oration on the Beauties of Liberty" has been previously, and erroneously, attributed to New Jersey preacher Isaac Skillman.  This famous pamphlet is still widely known for its arguments against taxation, and to this day, its anti-taxation comments are frequently quoted by websites devoted to such an agenda.  The pamphlet is also frequently cited in historical research on American attitudes about slavery, but we such citations relate only to editions published subsequently where Allen added in an anti-slavery diatribe.  Allen could not get his first publishers in Boston to include the anti-slavery language. Nowhere in the first three editions of "Orations" does Allen allude to the injustice of enslaved blacks. Rather, he cites the oppression by the English government on Americans, and in fact, notes with disdain that some Gaspee raiders were identified based on "the accusations of a negro."[p27]

It is noteworthy that Bernard Bailyn made extensive references to Allen's "Oration" in his 1968 Pulitzer Prize winning The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. [13] Inexplicably, many historians have chosen to ignore the main premise of the "Oration" that was written wholly in reaction to the Gaspee Affair.

10 John Adams diary 19, 16 December 1772 - 18 December 1773, 1773. May 24th [i.e. 25th]. Tuesday. Available on-line at <> visited May 2005.

6 <> visited May 2005.

13 Bailyn, Bernard:  The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution. Cambridge: Belknap Press, 1967.

1 Benedict, Jim.: "Allen, John" in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, on-line at <>  Visited May 2005.

5 Bradley, Patricia.
Slavery, Propaganda, and the American Revolution. Jackson, MS: University Press of Mississippi, 1998 (on-line for a charge at <>

4 Bumstead, J. and Clarke, C.: "New England's Tom Paine:  John Allen and the spirit of liberty", William and Mary Quarterly, 21 (1964), 561-70

11 Jefferson, Thomas.:
Thomas Jefferson Papers, July 27, 1821, Autobiography Draft Fragment, January 6 through July 27.  Available on line at:  [<> Type in "Gaspee" in search field] . Visited July 2004.

8, 12 Leslie, William R.: "The Gaspee Affair: A Study of its Constitutional Significance". Mississippi Valley Historical Review XXXIX, 1952, pp 233-256.

2, 7 Sandoz, Ellis, ed.:
Political Sermons of the American Founding Era: 1730-1805, 2 vols, (2nd ed. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1998), on-line at <> Visited May 2005

9 Frederick Smythe to Lord Dartmouth, New York, February 8. 1773, Gaspee Papers, Rhode Island Historical Society.  We have not read this letter ourselves; it is quoted in Leslie, "The Gaspee Affair.." (see citation 8 above).

1b For some quotations from Allen's "Spirit of Liberty" see Thompson, William: "Triumphs of Truth", 1825, on-line at

3 A Web of English History:  "
The ministry of Augustus Henry Fitzroy, third Duke of Grafton October 1768 - January 1770" On-line at <> Visited May 2005
Webmaster's note:  The pamphlet that appears below is the first edition and was obtained from a New England source, and scanned using Primax PrimaPage98 into Microsoft Word97, then converted into html by Netscape7.1 Composer; but much editing was still required.  Page numbers presented here from the printed pamphlet appear to generally correspond with that used by Bailyn in citations found in his Ideological Origins, of JHL 38: from the John Harvard Library.  Hyperlinks have been added to bring the reader to a page containing the webmaster's commentary note about the phrase or passage; use the BACK button on your browser to return to the main text.  Since the pamphlet was printed in several versions by separate printers, this makes for possible different sets of page numbers, spelling and printer typesetting errors.  Therefore, to allow text searching from within the digital realm the pamphlet has been somewhat regularized as to style, such as de-hyphenating Rhode-Island. On the other hand, we have attempted to retain Allen's emphasis of certain words in the published pamphlet by using the original style of italics and capitalization.  Rather than appending the [sic] notation, obviously mispelt words, in the context of 1773, are colored green in the text.  Scholars who insist on the seeing 's' printed as 'f' are referred to the original pamphlets.....if you can find yourfelf a copy [sic]. 


Upon the Beauties of LIBERTY,

DELIVERED on the Annual

THANKSGIVING, December 3d. 1772.



Or the Essential RIGHTS of the AMERICANS.


At the Second Baptist-Church in BOSTON,

Upon the last Annual THANKSGIVING,.

Humbly dedicated to the Right-Honourable
the Earl of DARTMOUTH.

PUBLISHED by the Request of many.


Printed and Sold by D. KNEELAND, and N. DAVIS,
in Queen-street.
+        X        X        X        X        X        +

To the Right-Honourable the Earl


My LORD,      
    WHEN I view the original right, power and Charter, confirm'd, sealed, and ratified to the Province, or Inhabitants of Rhode Island, and its standing in full force, and unrepealed for more than an hundred years; which is as follows:

"Be it enacted that no freeman, shall be taken, or imprisoned, or deprived of his freehold, or liberty, or free custom, or be outlaw'd, or exil'd, or otherwise destroy'd, nor shall be oppressed, judged or condemned, but by the Law of this Colony.— And that no man of what state or condition soever, shall be put out of his lands or Tenements, nor taken, nor imprisoned, nor disinherited nor BANISHED, (observe this my Lord,) nor any ways destroy'd, or MOLESTED, without being, for it, brought to answer, by a due course of Law of this COLONY":

Me-thinks, that even your Lordship, will not blame them if they stand fast in the Liberty wherein they were made free.

    As a fly, or a worm, by the law of nature, has as great a right to Liberty, and Freedom (according to their little sphere


in life,) as the most potent monarch upon the earth: And as there can be no other difference between your Lordship, and myself, but what is political, I therefore, without any further apology, take leave to ask your Lordship, whether any one that fears GOD, loves his neighbor as himself, (which is the true Scripture-mark of a christian,) will OPPRESS his fellow-creatures?   If they will, where are the beauties of Christianity? Not to be seen in this life, however they may be seen in the next.

    I HAVE seen what is said to be an authenticated copy of your Lordship's Letter to the Governor of Rhode Island, in which there are such DICTATIONS, DIRECTIONS, and positive COMMANDS, to oppress, with tyranny, a free People, which is inconsistent with a good man, or a Christian to have any concern or agency therein. The law of GOD directs us to do unto others, as we would they should do unto us. And knowing that your Lordship is well acquainted with the Divine Oracles, having had the honour to dine at your Lordship's Seat, in Staffordshire, and was, when in England, personally acquainted with Mr. Wright, your Lordship's Steward, and with the good and pious Character your Lordship bears.  I therefore take this leave as a fellow Christian, as one that loves, as the highest happiness of his existence, the Beauties, Spirit, and LIFE of Christianity, to ask your Lordship, how your Lordship would like to have his Birth-right, Liberty and freedom, as an Englishman, taken away by his King, or by the Ministry, or both?  Would not your Lordship immediately say, it was Tyranny, Oppression and Destruction, by a despotic power?  Would not your Lordship be ready to alarm the Nation; and point out the STATE upon the brink of destruction?

    My LORD,
    ARE not the Liberties of the Americans as dear to them as those of Britons?  Suppose your Lordship had broke the Laws of his King, and Country; would not your Lordship be willing to be tried by a Jury of your peers, according to the Laws of the land?  How would your Lordship like to be fetter'd with irons, and drag'd three thousand miles, in a hell upon earth?  No!  But in a HELL upon water (Through a Man of War's crew), to take your trial?  Is not this contrary to the spirit of the law, and the rights of


an Englishman?  Yet thus you have given direction, as the King's Agent, or the agent of the Ministry, to destroy the rights and laws of the Americans. How your Lordship can answer for this agency or injustice before GOD, and Man, will be very difficult:  However, if great men, and good men, and Christians can dare to do such thing's as these (when in power,) Heaven grant that I may have no acquaintance with them in this world; or if they have any power in Heaven, not in the world to come; for I think, my Lord, that such men, who will take away the Rights of any people, are neither fit for Heaven, nor Earth, either fit for the Land or the Dunghil.

    YOUR Lordship let us know that the case of the burning the Gaspee Schooner has been laid before the law servants of the Crown, and that they make the crime of a deeper die than piracy namely, an act of high treason, and levying a war against the King.

    WELL my Lord, and supposing this to be the case, are not the Rhode Islanders subjects to the King of Great Britain? Has not the King his attorney, his courts of judicatory to decide matters between the King and the subjects?  Why then must there be New Courts of admiralty erected to appoint and order the inhabitants to be confin'd, and drag'd away three thousand miles, from their families, laws, rights and liberties, to be tried by their enemies?  Do you think my Lord, this is right in the fight of God and Man?  I think if the Rhode Islanders suffer this infringement of their liberties, granted them by their Charter, from the King of England, any place out of Hell is good enough for them, for was there ever such cruelty, injustice and barbarity ever united against a free people before, and my Lord Dartmouth to have an hand in it, from whom we might rather have expected mildness, mercy, and the rights of the people supported.

    YOUR Lordship's letter frequently reminds us that this destructive authority, (to destroy the lives and liberties of the people) is his Majesty's will and pleasure. ——— How far his Majesty may be influenc'd and dictated by his Ministry I will not take upon me to say, but that it is his Majesty's will and pleasure of his own, mind and consent, I will not believe a word of it, for his Majesty is a person of more tenderness and understanding, than to attempt such tyranny, besides, his attempt to destroy the Rights of the People — destroys his Right as King to reign over them, for according


to his Coronation oath, he has no longer a Right to the British Crown or Throne, than he maintains inviolable firm the Law and Rights of the People.  For violating the people's rights, Charles Steward, King of England lost his Head, and if another King, who is more solemnly bound than ever Charles Steward was, should tread in the same steps, what can he expect?  I reverence and love my King, but I revere the rights of an Englishman before the authority of any King upon the Earth.  I distinguish greatly between a King and a Tyrant, a King is the guardian and trustee of the rights and Laws of the people but a Tyrant destroys them.

    BESIDES my Lord, the inhabitants of America know as well

"as the people of England, that the people are the right and fountain of power and authority, the original seat of Majestythe Author of laws and the creators of officers to execute them.  And if at any time they shall find the power they have conferred abused by their TRUSTEES, their MAJESTY violated by tyranny, or by usurpation, their authority prostituted to support violence or screen corruption, the laws grown pernicious through accidents unforeseen, or rendered ineffectual through the infidelity of the executors of them, then it is their RIGHT and what is their right, is undoubtedly their privilege and duty, (as their essential power and Majesty) to resume that that delegated power and authority they entrusted them with, and call their trustees to an ACCOUNT; to resist the usurpation, and extirpate the tyranny ; to restore their sullied MAJESTY and their prostituted AUTHORITY; to suspend, alter or abrogate those laws, and punish the unfaithful and corrupt officer.  Nor it the duty only of the united body but EVERY member of it ought, according to his respective rank, power and weight in the community, to CONCUR in advancing those glorious designs." — "This is my Lord the happy constitution of England, the power, right and Majesty of the people which has been frequently recognized and established.   By which Majesty, right and power, Kings are made, and UNMADE by the choice of the people; and laws enacted, and annulled only by their own consent, in which none can be deprived of their property, abridged of their freedom, or forfeit their lives without an appeal to the laws, and the verdict of their Peers or equals."

My Lord, as this is according to the laws of England, the liberty, privilege and power of his Majesty's subjects in Great Britain, why not then the privilege of his Majesty's subjects


in America? Has his Majesty (as it seems to be all laid upon him) two kind of laws, one for England and the other for America, a power to reign as King and guardian of his people's rights at home, and a power to destroy the rights of the Colonies abroad?  I really don't understand it my Lord, if he has no right to do it why does he do it?  If you say the king does not do it, why do you say he does?  This is using his Majesty cruel. However somebody does it, your Lordship says it is his Majesty with his Privy Council, the latter I rather think. However be it who it will, whether the King, Ministry or Parliament, they have no more right to do it, than they have to cut your Lordship's throat. Has not your Lordship a right to oppose any power that may assault your Lordship's Person, right or privilege, without its being deemed rebellion against the King and state? —Yes, sure you have!  Then surely my Lord an American has the same right to oppose every usurping power (let it be from whom it will) that assaults his person, or deprives him of his own law or liberty as an American. Has he offended, yes!  Is he willing to be tried by his own laws? yes!  Then that man, that King, that minister of state, be who he will, is worse than a Nero TYRANT that shall assume to drag him three thousand miles to be tried by his ENEMIES.

    BESIDES my Lord, what is rebellion, if I understand it right, they are persons rising up with an assumed authority and power to act, dictate and rule in direct violation to the laws of the land — I believe my Lord, I am right here for this reason your General FANNING, and your Governor TYRON when in North Carolina, thought so, and like cruel blood-thirsty savages, murdered mankind for thinking they had a right to oppose any power that attempted to destroy their LIBERTIES. This was my Lord a cruel barbarous slaughter of mankind — However, if it was deemed rebellion in them, and they were treated as rebels, because they (as the ministry said) broke the laws of the government of the Province; then surely it follows, that the King's Ministry and Parliament must be REBELS, to God and mankind, in attempting to overthrow (by guns, swords, by the power of war) the laws, and government of Rhode Island.  Have not the Rhode Islanders as much right to the privileges of their own laws as the King of England has to his Crown?  sure they have!  Then surely, that man must be a tyrant in his soul, that shall deem it rebellion in the Rhode Islanders, supposing they should kill every man, that shall attempt to destroy their laws, rights and liberties.


    IT is true any Lord, the Gaspee Schooner is destroyed, and thereby the Laws of England are violated, (as you apprehend,) by Indians out of the woods, or by Rhode Islanders, I cannot say who; but it is a query with me my Lord, whether there is any Law broke in burning the Gaspee Schooner; if it was done by the INDIANS (which is the current report) then there is no Law broke; for the Scripture says, "where there is no Law, there is no transgression."  And it is well known, that the Indians were never under any Law to the English.  Did I say, they were never under any Law to the English?  Heaven forgive me!  I mean my Lord no other Law, than the Sword and Bayonet; the same law that some would fain bring the Americans under now. But suppose my Lord, that this deed was done by the Rhode lslanders, the query is still with me — whether there is any transgression committed?  The Scripture says, where there is no Law, there is no transgression: Now, the question is, do the Rhode Islanders receive their Laws from England?  If so, there is a transgression committed against those Laws, but if not, there is no transgression, for where there is no Law, there is no transgression, says St. James.  For my part, I cannot see how any Man in America, can properly break the Laws of England.  The whole lies here, the laws of America only are broke, let the offender then be try'd by the law he has broke, what can justice, (I had almost said tyranny) define more? However my Lord, there is another idea arises in my mind, (and it is no wonder, for the Bostonians are very notional) which is, if there is any law broke, it is the King and the ministry who have broke it; for I would be glad to know my Lord, what right the King and ministry has to send an armed Schooner to Rhode Island, to take away the property of the people, any more than they have to send an armed Schooner into Brest, and demand the property of France.  Know this, that the King of England has no more right, according to the laws of God and nature, to claim the lands of America, than he has the lands of FranceAmerica, my Lord, in the native rights of the Americans, it is the blood bought treasure of their forefathers; and they have the same essential right to their native laws, as they have to the air they breathe in, or to the light of the morning, when the sun rises: and therefore they who oppress the Americans must be as great enemies to the rights of the laws of nature, as they who would (if it were in their power) veil the light of the sun from the universe.  Remember my Lord, the Americans have


a privilege to boast of above all the world. They never were in bondage to any man, and therefore it is more for them to give up their RIGHTS, than it is for all Europe to give up their RIGHTS into the hands of the TURKS; consider what English tyranny their forefathers fled from, what seas of distress they met with?  What savages they fought with?  What blood-bought treasures, as the dear inheritance of their lives, they have left to their children. Without any aid from the King of England; and yet after this, these free-born people must be counted REBELS, if they will not loose every right of Liberty, which their forefathers bought with their blood, and submit again to English ministerial tyrannyO America! O America!

    MY Lord, I hope I need not remind your Lordship of the enquiry that the divine Messiah made to PETER, when they required a tax, or tribute, from Him. "Of whom," asks CHRIST, to PETER, "do they gather tax, or tribute, of the children, or of strangers?"  And PETER said, "of strangers." "Then", says CHRIST, "the children are FREE".  Now, the Gaspee schooner, my Lord, was a stranger; and they should, if it was in their commission, have gathered tax from strangers: But instead of which, they would have gathered it from the children. They forgot that the children were free:  Therefore, my Lord, it must certainly be, that the Gaspee schooner has committed the transgression, and broke the Laws, of the freedom of this country. No doubt, my Lord, but they have a right to tax the strangers, that come to dwell in their country; but to tax the children, which are free in their own native country, this will not do!  Nature forbids it; the law of GOD condemns it. And no law, but that of tyranny, can desire it.

    And therefore it was, my Lord, that the children (who are by the law of GOD, and the law of nature, FREE), looked upon the Gaspee schooner as stranger, as such they treated her; but when the schooner as a stranger, attempted to gather tax of the children who are free then they looked upon her, as a Pirate, who took away their property without their consent, by violence, by arms, by guns, by oaths and damnations: This they thought looked so like Piracy, that the children did not like it; and they thought their behavior as strangers, was very unpolite, that they could not so much as pass by these strangers, but the children must bow to them, and come to them; this, the children being free, did not like, and they thought was best for the children, and the strangers, all to be free: And therefore, one night, my Lord they went and set the strangers (who, by the way, were all prisoners), freefree upon


the face of the whole earth; and then to preserve them free, they burnt their prison. Now, my Lord, would it not be hard to hang these poor men for it?

    However, If there is any law broke, it is this, that the Gaspee Schooner, by the power of the English ministry and admiralty have broke the laws and taken away the rights of the Americans. And yet the Americans must be punished for it, contrary to their own laws. O! Amazing! I would be glad to know, my Lord, what right the King of England has to America, it cannot be an hereditary right that lies in Hanover, it cannot be a parliamentary right that lies in Britain, not a victorious right, for the King of England never conquered America. Then he can have no more right to America, than what the people have, by compact, invested him with, which is only a power to protect them, and defend their rights civil and religious; and to sign, seal, and confirm as their steward such laws as the people of America shall content to. If this be the case, my Lord, then judge whether the King of England and the ministry are not the transgressors in this affair, in sending armed Schooners to America, to steal by power and sword the people's property. And if any are to be try'd for law-breakers, it surely ought, in justice, to be them. But the people of AMERICA act my Lord very honest in the affair, they are willing to GIVE and TAKE, to give the English offenders the liberty to be try'd by their own laws, and to take the same liberty wherein they have offended to be tried by their own laws, they surely have as much right to the privileges of their own laws, as the King of England has to his Crown, or that the native of Britain has to the rights of an Englishman. — Consider then, my Lord, how cruel, how UNJUST, how unanswerable before God and Man it must be, by any violence and power to destroy the rights of the Americans.

    MY Lord, the close of your Lordship's letter, is such that it is enough to make the blood of every vein stand stagnated as a testimony against ministerial bloody power. It not only gives a right to every American to be angry, but to be incensed against your Lordship, wherein you tell the Governor of Rhode Island, that it is his Majesty's pleasure, that General Gage, hold the troops in readiness to assist this assumed court of admiralty, to destroy the rights of the people. What my Lord, is bloody Bonner's days so near America? O America! O America! What, the blood-power of the sword and death to aid civil magistrates to destroy


the people's rights?  Stop a little my Lord, give a little breathing time — for it is a solemn thing to die. I wonder your Lordship's knees did not smite together when as the King's, or ministerial agent, you wrote this authority, how a good man, a christian, and one that fears God, can be an agent not only to destroy the rights of  people, but to oppress them, with the military power of blood and death, is enough to make the Earth to reel, and all Heaven to stand aghast!  Be astonish'd O ye Heavens at this!  I hope, my Lord, you do not intend to renew that bloody, barbarous assassination in America which I saw the Scotch barbarian troops thro' the orders of Lord B——n and Lord W——b spread in St. George's fields, remember the blood of young Allen cries to Heaven for vengeance in their face, and a louder voices than Abel's blood, which cry'd to Heav'n for vengeance is still heard in Boston streets, against a bloody military power, and though the murderers escaped by a scene well known to some, but too dark to explain—Yet the God of truth & justice stands at the door.  Supposing my Lord, that the Rhode Islanders, for the sake of the blood bought liberties of their forefathers, for the sake of the birthrights of their children, should show a spirit of resentment against a tyrannical arbitrary power that attempts to destroy their lives, liberties and property, would it not be insufferably cruel (for this which the law of nature and nations teaches them to do) to be butchered, assassinated and slaughtered in their own streets by their own King?  Consider, my Lord, that we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and that it would be a cold cordial for your Lordship at the bar of God, to have thousands of Americans rise up in judgment against you. Yet I would rather this was the case, tho' I suffer'd death with them, than they should loose their essential rights as Americans.

    BUT it may be moot to let your Lordship know that if the Americans unite (as there seems a good prospect of it) to stand as band of brethren for their liberties, they have a right, by the law of GOD, of nature, and of nations, to be reluct at and even to resist any military and marine force, surely they must be intended in readiness for the French not for Americans, for can it ever enter into the heart of a mother to murder her children? Of a King to kill his subjects?  Of an agent to destroy the rights of the Colonies he represents?  But, suppose my Lord, that this should be the bloody intent of the ministry, to make the Americans subject to their slavery, then let blood for blood, life for life, and death


for death decide the contention. This bloody scene can never be executed but at the expence of the destruction of England, and you will find my Lord, that the Americans will not submit to be SLAVES, they know the use of the gun and the military art as well as any of his Majesty's troops at St. James's, and where his Majesty has one soldier, who art in general the refuse of the earth, America can produce fifty, free men, and all volunteers, and raise a more potent army of men in three weeks, than England can in three years. But God forbid that I should be thought to aim at rousing the Americans to arms, without their rights, liberties and oppression call for it. For they are unwilling to beat to Arms, they are loyal subjects; they love their King; they love their Mother country; they call it their HOME; and wish nothing more than the prosperity of Britain, and the glory of their King:  But they will not give up their rights, they will not be slaves to any power upon Earth. Therefore, my Lord, as a peace-maker; as their agent; as their friend, lay their grievance before their King. —————————
Let the Americans enjoy their birthright, blessings, and Britain her prosperity; let there be a mutual union between the mother and her children, in all the blessings of life, trade and happiness; then, my Lord, both Britons, and Americans, will call you blessed.   

    Wishing, from my heart, the inviolable preservation of the RIGHTS and LIBERTIES of the AMERICANS, and the growing happiness of ENGLAND: ———

                            I am, my LORD,

                                    his MAJESTY's Loyal Subject,

                                             and your LORDSHIP's

                                                    DUTIFUL SERVANT,

                            A BRITISH BOSTONIAN.
X         O         X

As the most High has given LIBERTY to every Being that he has given life and breath to:  Therefore whatever tends to diffuse this blessing of heaven, through the beauties of creation, may surely claim a divine patronage.  And as LIBERTY is the best of blessings to a King, Nation, or a People; the blessings that GOD has given, and therefore every person has a divine right to enjoy it: For this reason, the following ORATION, upon the DIVINE RIGHT of the People, is, with permission, and reverence, put into your LORDSHIP'S hands,

By your LORDSHIP'S most obedient,  

and most Humble Servant,      




That they may do evil with both hands, earnestly, the Prince asketh, and the Judge asketh for a Reward; and the great Man he uttereth his mischievous desire: SO THEY WRAP IT UP.

    The faithfulness of the prophet Micah; the fidelity of his heart, and the zeal of his soul for the liberties of the people, was remarkable. His faithfulness when tyranny reigned by authority;


when the laws, rights and liberties of the people were at the dispose of the arbitrary power of the wicked king AHAZ, as it is written 2 Chron. 28. 1.

"And Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem, but he did not that which was right in the sight of the Lord; like David his father. (Ver. 19.)  For the Lord brought Judah low, because of Ahaz king of Israel, for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the Lord, (ver. 22).  And in the time of this distress did he trespass yet more and more against the Lord—this is that king AHAZ."

    And therefore this faithful prophet lays the matter to heart, as one that revered the liberties and happiness of the people above the authority of the king, and the power of his senates. And therefore says, in the verse preceding the text, “The good man is perished out of the earth, and there is none upright among men; they all lie in wait for blood, they hunt every man his brother with a net.” And is not this the case at this day?  For what is the ministry hunting after now?  Is not every one hunting for their brother, with the NET of admiralty-courts and tyranny? If they can but once get their American brethren in this net, they may kick and flirt as long as they will, they'll never get out any more. It is indeed said, “In vain is the net spread in the sight of any bird” and that he has made us wiser than the fowls of the air, but wherein will the Americans appear to be wiser than the fowls of the air, if they suffer themselves to be taken in this ministerial net?  REMEMBER.


    OBSERVE, that it was a dark time with the nation, a dark time with the church of the living God, and a very distressing time respecting the people, when Micah appeared cotemporary with Isaiah, as a prophet of the Lord, and a SON of LIBERTY, therefore he tells the oppressors of the people, “The best of them is a brier, and the most upright of them sharper than a thorn hedge — the day of the watchmen, and thy visitation cometh, now shall be their perplexity.” And is not this the case?  Is not the day of the watchmen of America come, who watch for the rights of the people, as the centinels of the land, to defend them from every invasion of power and destruction?  Now their visitation in Providence is come — to try the watchmen whether they will stand for God, and the people, or not. Now shall be their perplexity of the ministry, who lie in wait for blood and hunt every man his brother with a net, who utter their mischievous desire, and so they wrap it up. — For this faithfulness, in King Ahaz, and Hezekiah’s days, the prophet Micah’s name has a singular honor in the annals of heaven above the rest of the prophets in Israel — (Jer. 17, 18, 19). because he said — “hear this I pray you, ye heads of the house of Jacob, and Princes of the house of Israel, that abhor judgment and pervert all equity.”

    THEREFORE, these sayings of that pious prelate of the church of England, bishop Burnet, in his history of his own time, are noble, valuable and great; especially where he says, “there is not any thing more certain than this: That kings are made for


the people, and not the people for them.” Was not David made a king for the people? Was not Saul? Was not Solomon? Then let not kings think too highly of themselves; for the GOD of heaven never intended they should be any more than the servants of the people; therefore the bishop adds, “that, perhaps, there is no nation under heaven more sensible of this than the English nation; so that, if the prince does not govern, by this maxim, the people will soon grow very unkind to him.” If this be the case, the king of England may immediately see the reason of all his people’s hard speeches, and unkindness to him: It is because he has departed, either by inclination, or persuasion, from this royal STANDARD. Therefore he adds, “the interest, and essential RULE for a king is to study the interest of the nation; to be ever in it; to be always pursuing it:” This will lay such a degree of confidence in HIM, that he will ever be safe in the PEOPLE, while they feel they are safe in him; and not a moment longer. So that if the king of England is not happy let him thank himself for it: It is not his people’s fault — it is his OWN. For that king is not worthy to reign, that does not make the RIGHTS of his people the rule of his actions: Knowing this, that HE receives all his power, and majesty, from them; and how can he think that he has any right to rule over them, unless he rules in their hearts by inviolably maintaining their RIGHTS?  For as the ministers of the gospel (when in their proper place) are no otherwise than the people’s servants; so the king is no more than the servant of


the people: And when at any time, he is unfaithful, as the people’s Servant, they have a right to say to him, “give an account of thy stewardship, that thou mayest be no longer steward.” For what can he judge, when a free and affectionate people, lay their grievances, with tears, at his feet, praying, for years past, for redress? And yet he will not hear them!!! Or if he does, he answers them like RehoboamROUGHLY: What can he expect, but Rehoboam’s revolution? “What part have we in David? Or what portion have we in the son of Jesse? Every man to thy tent, O Israel.” And therefore, the pious bishop further observes, “that a Prince that would command the affections, and praise of the nation, should not study to stretch his prerogative"; here I think the pious bishop missed it, for it is not his prerogative, but the people’s; and this is what makes it so insufferable, and unbearable, that the king should make use of their power and prerogative, to destroy their rights: This Charles Steward did, and he fell into the hands of wicked men, and they cut off his head for it.

    BUT to proceed to the words of the text. “That they may do evil with both hands earnestly; the prince asketh, and the judge asketh for a reward, and the great man he uttereth his mischievous desire: So they wrap it up.”

            Observation the first.
    IT is then plain that a craving, absolute Prince, is a great distress to a people.


    THE Prince asketh! What does he ask for? Why the tall pine trees, for masts for his great ships; well, let him have them, not as his right, no, but as your gift to him. Well, but the prince asketh? Well, what does he ask now?  Why, that the British streets may be paved with American gold; well do not make a word about that? Let him have it, but let it be in the fair way of trade, and commerce, not by taxation, and oppression. The essence of money, lies, in what money buys. This England can furnish you with.

    BUT the prince asketh? Well what is it? will he never have done asking? What does he ask now? Have patience, and you shall hear, well what is it? Why it is the favour of the government of Rhode Island, to hold a court of admiralty to authorize them to confine suspected persons (guilty or not guilty), and drag them away three thousand miles, to take their trial by a jury of strangers, if not enemies. But the granting of this in some measure depends upon the consent of the governor. But all governors (who are worthy the name) are such as the scripture describes (Judges 5. 9). “My heart, says one," nay every American will say the same, "is towards the governours who offer themselves willingly among the people,” to rule by their laws, to defend the rights of the people, to protect their persons, to secure their liberties. And this is (we hear) the happiness, power and bulwark of Rhode Island government. For its safety lies in this, that the Governor of the province, and the judges of the superior court, the representatives of the people, and general assembly,


are solemnly bound by oath, to rule, govern and decide, and determine ONLY by their own laws; if so, they have a right to tell the prince, that though he asketh yet he will ask in vain.

    Once more,
    BUT the prince asketh, what now does he ask? Will he never have done asking?  Well, but what does he ask? Why he asketh, the women, the wives upon the government of Rhode Island, to spare their husbands from their beds, from their bosoms, from their arms, and from their children; to be confin’d in the horrid kingdom of a Man of War’s crew; to be transported back again to tyranny their forfathers fled from, to a land of snares, and the shadow of death. This may be thought to be harsh language, and by the ministry, a HARD saying who can bear it?  But it is not a hair’s breadth more in meaning, than the intended power and tyranny of this new court of admiralty. And will you not submit to it?  No! That is right; I am glad of it, but perhaps, it may be thought rather hard, when a prince asketh, not to grant so small a favour.

    BUT the text likewise says — The Judge asketh for a reward. The judges have the key of the laws, the hearts of the lawyers, and the power of juries, too much in their own hands. The lives of the people, the rights of the subject, and the disposal of their property, was originally intended to be determined by juries only. But as the judges have assumed by custom, a power of dictating to lawyers even at the bar, and a direction to the jury; it highly becomes them more than ever, to be men fearing God and


hating covetousness. Therefore it is an ill sound to hear that the judge asketh for a reward, what can it be for? sure it cannot be for freeing the King Street murderers, or pleading that it was only manslaughter; if he knew that it was wilful murder. No doubt but this act of kindness will be rewarded, if not at the judgment seat of Christ, which some despise; yet at the bar of God, when, he shall say, "arise ye dead and come to judgment": Then there will be no setting aside a witness in Mr. P——ms case, nor no other.

    Again the text saith,
    THE Judge asketh for a reward! Well, what reward is it, a reward from the crown of Britain? if so, not to let him have it, by no means: For if once the judges of the courts of judicatory of this province become dependent for their support, or salaries, upon the favour of the crown, or ministry at home, you become a nation of slaves to ministerial power; for thereby you submit the key of all your essential rights as Americans, to be in the hands of your enemies: For if you suffer the judges to become dependent for their pay upon the ministry of England, what are they but the ministry’s servants. If so, you may naturally suppose, they must do as the ministry directs them; if not, they will be unfaithful servants; and if faithful to the ministry, where then are your rights? Where is the security of your lives, or your property. For a more bolder, daring innovation upon your right of power, decision and determination by your own laws, respecting your right and property between man and man, between the crown of England, and the rights of America, cannot possibly be made, or


attempted to be made, than to make your judges dependent upon the British ministry; it is in effect, giving up your right to all you have, to all that you, or your children can ever possess. As the possession of a person’s right, whether hereditary, or by purchase, depends much upon the determination of the judges. And if the judges are wholly to be dependent upon the crown of England, for nomination and support, then you may easily judge whose servants and slaves you are to be. For it is well known that the judges, or general courts, or some body, has for these hundred years, and more, distressed their brethren in their estates, and in their consciences, by imposing payment for ministers, and for a worship of God contrary to the people’s consciences; and if they have done these things in the green tree, what may you not expect in the dry.

    BUT as the text says, The Judge asketh for a reward. If it be for his fidelity in his high office, for his honourable support, according to the dignity of his character, you are bound in duty, in affection, and in obedience to let him have it. Shew your affection, readiness and gratitude, to reward your judges, as the guardians of your rights; as those who from their hearts, should protect and hand forth the liberties of their brethren to them. This is the way to become a band of brethren from the governor, to the meanest subject. Perhaps, the whole of your complaint in this respect, is owing for want of your taking an earlier opportunity, to settle such salaries, as their merit, labour and expence deserves.

    YET let not this lead us from the observation, which was, that, an asking, craving, absolute prince,


is a great distress to a people. Was not this the case of the people in King Ahaz, and in King Ahab’s day, when he craved Naboth’s vineyard? Likewise in Jeroboam’s days, who deprived the people of their religious liberties, in worshipping the God of Israel, in his temple at Jerusalem? Who set up his golden calves at Dan and Bethel, of whom it is said, this is Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who taught Israel to sin. Was not this the case in Zedekiah’s days, though he was warned by the word of the Lord, and by the prophet of the GOD of Israel? Yet he was, notwithstanding, absolute and craving, though he was told, it would end in the destruction of himself, and his people. Was not this the cause of almost all the distress, deaths, and bloodshed, that have ever happened in England since the conquest of Julius Cæsar? Their king’s ruling and reigning, by a dispotic power, which they assumed, contrary to the laws and rights of the people. Were not the Britons obliged by the love of liberty, to obtain their royal Magna Charta, sword in hand, from King John? Was not this the case in the reign of Charles the First, when the people and parliament took up arms, to maintain the rights and laws of the people; and when it required either the head of the king, or the loss of their liberties? They soon decided the matter; they soon let the king know that they revered their rights and liberties, above his life, power, and prerogative. In Charles the Second’s reign, there was much the same absolute power over the rights of the people, both civil and religious: But he had a peculiar politeness of temper in pleasing even his very enemies. In James the Third’s reign, dispotic power


was too evident, and distressing for the people to bear; therefore a revolution, both of king, and state, by the spirit, power, and arms, of the people, was soon accomplished.

    The second observation is,
    THAT when the king, judges, and senates, unite to destroy the rights of the people by a dispotic power, or as the text expresses it, that they may do evil with both hands, then the prosperity of the nation totters; the crown shakes; and the destruction of the people’s rights is near at hand. For the rights of the people, which is the supreme glory of the crown and kingdom of Britain, is the Magna Charta of the king as well as of the people; it is as much his previledge, as it is his glory, to maintain their rights; and he is as much under a law (I mean the law of the rights of the people), as the people are under the oath of allegiance to him. And therefore whatever power destroys their rights, destroys at the same time, his right to reign, or any right to his kingdom, crown, or glory; nay, his right to the name of a king among the people. Was not this the case in Rehoboam’s days, when the people were distressed with large and heavy taxations, and oppressions? they petitioned the king to relieve them from such oppressions, but would he hearken to them, according to the advice of his father’s counsellors? No! but according to the advice of his young Counsel, he answered them like an arbitrary prince, in the speech of his dispotic ministry, roughly, My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions: But, would the people bear this oppression? No! What part, said they, have we in David? Or what


portion in the son of Jesse? To thy tents, Oh Israel. Was not this the case in Zedekiah’s reign? And was not this lately the case in Sweeden, when the King with a few of his Senators, and ministry, about him, destroyed the rights of the people, by the power of the sword, and established his despotic will as the law of the land, by the tyranny of death?

    Observation the third,
    THIS shews, that an arbitrary dispotic power in a prince, is the ruin of a nation, of the King, of the crown, and of the subjects; therefore it is to be feared, abhorred, detested and destroyed, because the happiness of the King, and the prosperity of the people are hereby, not only in danger, but upon the brink of destruction. Every age and every history furnishes us with proofs, as clear as the light of the morning, of the truth of this.

     BUT it is the singular happiness of the Americans, according to their own laws, not to be in bondage to any power upon the earth. The King of England, has no power to enact, or put in force any law that may oppress them, his very attempting to do it, at once destroys his right to reign over them. For the brightest Gem which the king of England wears, in the British crown, is that majesty, trust, and confidence, which the Americans invest him with as the king and guardian of their rights, and liberties.

    THE Parliament of England cannot justly make any laws to oppress, or defend the Americans, for they are not the representatives of America, and therefore they have no legislative power either for them or against them.

    THE house of Lords cannot do it, for they are


Peers of England, not of America; and, if neither king, lords, nor commons, have any right to oppress, or destroy, the liberties of the Americans, why is it then, that the Americans, do not stand upon their own strength, and show their power, and importance, when the life of life, and every liberty that is dear to them and their children is in danger?

    Therefore, let me address you with all the power of affection, with all the pathos of soul, as one who esteems the full possession of the rights of the Americans, as the highest blessing of this life — to stand alarmed! See your danger — death is near, destruction is at the door — need I speak? Are not your harbours blockaded from you? Your castle secured by captives — your lives destroyed — revenues imposed upon you — taxation laid — military power oppressing — your CHARTER violated — your G ——’s heart not right — your constitution is declining — your liberties departing, and not content with this, they now attack the life, the soul, and capitol of all your liberties — to choose your judges, and make them independent upon you for office or support, and erect new courts of admiralty to take away by violence, the husband from his family, his wife, his home, his friends, and his all, through a scene, less joyful than Pluto’s horrid kingdom. To be confined, and tried for his life by the accusation of a negro.

    HAS not the voice of your father’s blood cry'd yet loud enough in your ears, in your hearts “ye sons of America scorn to be slaves”?  Have you not heard the voice of blood in your own streets, louder than that which reached to Heaven, that cry'd for vengeance, that was, saith the Lord to Cain, the voice


of thy brother’s blood, of only one, but this of many brethren. Therefore, if there be any vein, any nerve, any soul, any life or spirit of liberty in the sons of America, show your love for it; guard your freedom, prevent your chains; stand up as one man for your liberty; for none but those, who set a just value upon this blessing, are worthy the enjoyment of it.

    Which leads me to the fifth observation, which is,
    THAT it is not rebellion, I declare it before GOD, the congregation, and all the world, and I would be glad if it reached the ears of every Briton, and every American; That it is no rebellion to oppose any king, ministry, or governor, that destroys by any violence or authority whatever, the rights of the people. Shall a man be deem'd a rebel that supports his own rights? it is the first law of nature, and he must be a rebel to GOD, to the laws of nature, and his own conscience, who will not do it. A right to the blessing of freedom, we do not receive from Kings, but from Heaven, as the breath of life, and essence of our existence; and shall we not preserve it, as the beauty of our being? Do not the birds of the air expand their wings? the fish of the sea their fins? and the worm of the earth turn again when it is trod upon? And shall it be deem'd rebellion?  Heaven forbid it!  Shall Naboth’s disputing with King Ahab, respecting his vineyard, be deem'd rebellion? Or the people sending home their governor in irons some years ago, be deemed rebellion? It is no more rebellion, than it is to breathe.

    Sixthly, to observe,
    THAT when the rights and liberties of the people are destroyed, it is commonly by the mischievous design


of some great man. The text says, the great man uttereth his mischievous desire: But who this great man is, we do not certainly know, but may shrewdly guess; but whether Lord Bute, Duke of Grafton; or Lord Hillsborough, is not so material, but the mischievous design, is what we fear, is what we feel, if they instill in the King’s mind a divine right of authority to command his subjects, this is mischievous. King Charles found it so, Rehoboam found it so, and so will our present King, if he hearkens to such advice.

    IF they make the name of the King sacred, I hope they mean a political sacredness: If so, he is no more sacred than the people have made him, by investing him with the sacred trust of their rights. If any great man, or the whole ministry makes use of the king’s Name, or his authority, to enforce their arbitrary will, as a law to the subjects, that the subjects must obey, and passively submit?  because, say they, it is his majesty’s will and pleasure:  This is a mischievous design — mischievous to the dignity of the crown — to his majesty’s person — to his security — to his family — and their safety. It is likewise mischievous to his majesty’s subjects, as it spreads discord, disunion and disaffection to the king, to his authority, and power, which is a mournful consideration, and is the bane of all our national distress. The people in England, and the people in America, would fain love their King, and obey him with reverence, and affection, and make him the most happy prince upon the earth, if he would but prevent this mischievous design of the ruin of their essential rights, and liberties.

    BUT the text says, The great man uttereth his mischievous


desire — and indeed we believe he does, in the closet, in the cabinet, and in the ears of the King. Oh! it is a mischievous design, too deep for us to fathom, or come to the bottom of, it carries in it the plain aspect of distress to the king, and distruction to the people. Oh! kind heaven, prevent what king and people have too much cause to fear; however, at best, it is a mischievous design to alienate (by any direction, or dictation) the affections of his majesty’s good subjects; as it destroys the bonds, and ties, of national blessings; their rights, their liberties; their lives; their properties: And if this is not a mischievous design there can scarce be one found out of the deeps of the dark mansions.

    BUT to return to you, my dear Americans, you think hard to pay duties for teas, imports, clearances, entries, &c. &c. But what will you farmers and landholders think, of paying a fixed tax for every acre of land you enjoy, for every apple tree you rear, for every barrel of cider you make, for every pound of candles you burn, for every pound of soap you use, for every pair of shoes you wear, for the light of the morning, and the sun, that a kind heaven gives you; what do you think of paying a continual tax for all these?  this is contain’d in the mischievous design. Stand alarm’d, O ye Americans. — But I close with the last remark from the text. So they wrap it up. It will do, it will do say they. The King, say they, has a right to appoint judges, courts of admiralty, impose revenues, lay taxes, send military forces, block up their harbours, command them — compel them by arms — pay their judges — get the key of their laws, rights and liberties into our


hands, this will do! and so they wrap it up, as fine and smooth as can be: But I think it is better to unwrap it again. What do you think, my dear Americans?  But I add no more — but advise you, as it is a day of public thanksgiving, to bless GOD for the liberties and mercies we do enjoy; not for those you are deprived of.— My second advice is, love your king, pray for him, pray for your governor, pray for your judges, that all their reign may be easy to themselves, and happy for the people.


x x x x
x x x
x x

N. B. This Piece comes into the World, as Men
go through it, with many faults.
Comments on Allen's references to historical events and personalities


Note that an excellent source to find specific quotations used by Allen from the King James Bible is at:  We make the assumption that this is the version he used as his reference.

[iv]:  Second Baptist Church--formed in 1743, later merged with the Baldwin Place Baptist Church.

[iv]:  Lord Dartmouth--William Legge (1731-1801) The British Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs. Upon the resignation of Lard Hillsborough in late 1772, Lord Dartmouth was appointed by his step-brother and then Prime Minister, Lord North to replace Hillsborough.  Lord Dartmouth was responsible for coordinating all American affairs in the British Ministry during his tenure.  Dartmouth College (NH) is named in honor of his philanthropy in providing for the education of native Americans.. 

[iv]: D Kneeland and N. Davis--Local publishers of the period, notably printing many sermons and religious works.

[v]:  Charter: --We're not quite sure of Allen's source here, though he is most likely referencing the bill of rights included in the first organizational charter of Rhode Island adopted in 1647. 

[v]:  "Be it enacted that no freeman, ...."--assumably from the same RI charter bill of rights.of 1647.

vi: Your Lordship's letter--giving instructions to the RI Governor Joseph Wanton and other members of the Royally-appointed commission to investigate and indict suspects for the burning of the HMS Gaspee revenue schooner in June 1772.  They were to send any suspects so identified directly to England in a Royal Navy warship to stand trial.

vi: "...drag'd three thousand miles.."--The calculated distance between Newport, RI and London, England is a total of 3328 statute miles.  Source:

vii: " act of high treason..."--Suspects were to be tried for high treason under the statute of King Henry VIII c2.

viii:  Coronation Oath--used since before memory in England, Parliament did formally establish a Coronation Oath in 1689 ensuring that new monarchs would uphold the rights granted Englishmen under the Magna Charta and subsequent acts of Parliament.  King George objected to certain clauses in his oath relating "to maintain the Protestant Reformed Religion."  Source:

viii: Charles Steward--This is a misspelt reference to Charles Stuart, King Charles I of England (1625-1649) who attempted to gain more absolute power, but was overthrown and executed by forces of Parliament and with the subsequent ascension of Oliver Cromwell as "Lord Protector"

viii:  "As the people of England...."--We have presented the quotation section as published.  It appears, however, that this whole section may be a printer error, since from within the quote, Allen seems to make remarks that are not likely to have been part of his source.  No reference is given other than vaguely, "This is, my Lord, the happy constitution of England....."  We do note that Jean Louis Delolme wrote an analysis text The Consitution of England in 1771, and suspect this may have been Allen's source.  We also note that the full title of Thomas Paine's Common Sense is Common Sense:  On the Origin and Design of Government in General, with Concise Remarks on the English Constitution. Perhaps this work was also  influential to Paine.

ix:  "However somebody does it, ....."--Here Allen seems to avoid direct confrontation with Dartmouth or King George III, and blames the Privy Council and British Ministry for leading them astray.

ix: Nero tyrant--Nero, Emperor of Rome (54-68 A.D.) " In 62....a series of treason laws were put to deadly use against anyone considered a threat. In 64 A.D. a great fire left much of the city in ruins, and while it is not certain that Nero himself had the fires set, it is true that his ambitious building campaign, which followed the fires .... represented to many a private selfishness at a time when public reconstruction was most needed."  Source:

ix: General Fanning & North Carolina--In 1768 Chief Justice of North Carolina Edmund Fanning, "raised, at the request of NC Governor Tryon, a corps of eight hundred provincials to oppose and put down a body of insurgents who styled themselves regulators, whose object was to rescue from trial and punishment leading rebels. In 1771 he was again called upon by Governor Tryon to raise and embody a corps of provincials to suppress an insurrection in North Carolina, and was second to Governor Tryon at the battle of Allamance, in which action the insurgents, to the number of twelve thousand, were totally defeated."  Source: <>

x:  "....if it was done by the INDIANS..."--Some reports indicated that the Gaspee attackers wore disguises as Indians, but more authoritative sources indicate no disguises were worn by the men from Providence.  This suggests that if disguises were worn by any of the attackers, they must have been by the men from Bristol.

x: "...where there is no Law, there is no transgression..."--Romans 4:14-15 said to be by the Apostle Paul.  Allen attributes this to St. James, but in the context of the St. James Bible.

x: fain--defined as happily or gladly

x:  Brest--The chief seaport on the Atlantic coast of France.

xi: "Then the children are free,"--Matthew 17:25,

xii:  Hanover--Refers to George III Hanover, King of England, the Hanover genealogical line os descent

xii:  General Gage--was ordered to send troops to assist the Gaspee Commissioners if they felt they needed them, but this was never requested by commissioners.

xii: Bloody Bonner's days--Edmund Bonner was a Sixteenth Century Roman Catholic Bishop of London (periodically), "his duty was to try heretics under Henry's [VIII's] Act of the Six Articles, and though his action seems to have been only official, accusations of excessive cruelty and bias against the accused were spread broadcast by his enemies, and from the first he seems to have been unpopular in London.....The part he took in these affairs gave rise to intense hatred on the part of the Reformers, and by them he was represented as hounding men and women to death with merciless vindictiveness."  Source:

xiii: St. George's fields-- c1769, After American sympathizer John Wilkes "...was denied his seat in Parliament, some 30,000 of his followers, known as Wilkesites, gathered on St. George's Fields, outside the prison where he was being held, to protest his arrest. When the protestors began throwing objects, [Scottish] soldiers fired into the crowd, killing eleven. The so- called Massacre of St. George's Fields emphasized the disagreement in Britain over colonial rights and spurred the movement that grew up in support of Wilkes' cause."  Source:  (stale link 2009)

xiii: Lord B-n,  --Probably British Secretary of War William Wildman, Second Viscount Barrington; Lord Barrington

xiii: Lord W-b, --perhaps British Solicitor General Alexander Wedderburn (First Baron Loughborough, First Earl of Rosslyn)

xiii: young Allen cries--This seems to suggest that, perhaps, one of John Allen's relatives was involved in the uprising.

xiii: Abel's blood--Genesis 4:8-11 Abel of Cain and Abel, "Abel's blood cried from the ground unto God for vengeance."

xiii:  Boston Massacre--"On Monday March 5, 1770, after a weekend of minor clashes, the conflicts between Boston Garrison Soldiers and colonialists came to a head. Insults exchanged between a British soldier and a local merchant ended with a butt-stroke of a musket. This lead to a small riot, and the Boston Garrison responded with a small squad of soldiers under the command of Captain Thomas Preston. The colonial mob taunted and menaced the squad,...[which].. took aim into the crowd and fired,....... Three colonialists were killed and two mortally wounded. The real significance of this event was that it gave rebellious leaders propaganda against the British..... After this event, and the propaganda that followed it, the British Troops had to evacuate Boston to the Castle William."   Source:

xiii: "...and though the murderers escaped ..."--"The British were tried for their acts, defended by John Adams, and were acquitted." Source:

xiii: "...if the Americans unite (as there seems a good prospect of it)..."--Here Allen begins baiting and insulting the British, almost daring them to declare war on America.

xiv: "...his Majesty's troops at St. James's..."--The palace guard of the King, quartered in King James' Court in London.


15: "That they may do evil...."--quoted from King James Bible, Micah 7:3

16:  2 Chron. 28. 1.--Second Chronicles, Chapter 28. Verse 1 of the King James Bible.  Allen then cites verses 19 and 22, and his annotations of the verses precede his quotations from them.

16:  "The good man is perished...."--quoted from Micah 7:2

16:  "In vain is the net spread..."--quoted from Proverbs 1:17

17: "The best of them is a brier,...."--quoted from Micah 7:4

17: "Now their visitation in Providence is come —"--Allen is referring here to Providence, Rhode Island, not to divine Providence.  The Gaspee commissioners actually met in Newport, RI, but that was actually their mistake; the Gaspee raid set out from Providence.

17:  ...“...hear this I pray you, ye heads...."--quoted from Micah 3:9, and is NOT from (Jeremiah. 17, 18, 19) . We're not sure what Allen meant to do with this erroneous, misplaced annotation.

17:  Bishop Burnet--Gilbert Burnet (1643-1715) was a Scottish divine and historian, and Bishop of Salisbury. in 1724 wrote Bishop Burnet's History of his own Time. (two volumes).  He was a respected cleric, a preacher, and an academic, as well as a writer and historian. Later he moved to London, where his political and religious sentiments prompted him to support the Whigs. Facing persecution he fled to the Netherlands in 1683.

18:  ....David....Saul....Solomon...--all were kings of Israel.

19: Rehoboam--Solomon's son, and a King of Israel

20: Sarcasm re: the Prince--The "Prince" would, of course, be King George III.

20:  Judges 5:9--in this case, Allen precedes his quotation with the annotation.

21:  "The judge asketh for a reward". --Micah 7:3

22: King Street murders--The Boston Massacre

22: Mr. P——ms:--Possibly refers to Capt. Thomas Preston, the officer in charge during the Boston Massacre, defended by John Adams in the subsequent trial.

22:  "arise ye dead and come to judgment"--sounds Biblical doesn't it?  But this exact quotation cannot be found in the King James Bible.

22: Corrupt Judges & Salary--Noticing that New England courts too often sided with the defendants in actions brought by the Crown, British Ministers proposed paying the Massachusetts judges directly from the British treasury, so that they would, in theory, be more responsive to the desires of Great Britain. Together with the Gaspee commission, the Judges Salary controversy were, at the time, the two items that most ticked off American revolutionary thought.

23: " imposing payment for ministers, ..."--Massachusetts, while tolerating other churches, had taxed the population to support the Anglican Church within the colony.

24: Naboth, Ahab, Jeroboam-- The story of Naboth's vineyard and King Ahab of Israel is told in 1 Kings 21.  The story of  Jeroboam is told in 1 Kings 11 and 1 Kings 12

24: Dan and Bethel--towns of the location of Jeroboam's golden calves as per 1 Kings 29

24:  Zedekiah--King of Israel in 2 Kings 24:18

24: Julius Caesar--The Emperor of Rome invaded Britain in 55-54 BC

24:  Magna Charta, 1st version, was sealed by King John (Lackland) at Runnymede in 1215 but not incorporated into law until 1297.

 24:  King Charles II --reigned 1660-1685, he is generally noted to have pursued a policy of political tolerance and power-sharing

24:  King James III,--there never has been a King James III of England, and the sequence with which Allen talks suggests he meant the son of King Charles II, King James II who reigned 1685-1688.  James acted recklessly attempting to restore royal prerogative and turn England back to the Catholic faith, costing him the crown when parliament overthrew him and he was exiled to France.  There was a King James III of Scotland, 1452 - 1488, but the history does not fit with Allen's references.

25:  ...."that they may do evil with both hands...."--Micah 7:3

25:  "...My father chastised you with whips,..."--1 Kings 12:11

25: "What part, said they, have we in David? ...."--1 Kings 12:16

26: Sweeden [sic]--On August 21, 1772 the coup d'etat by King Gustav III was completed by adopting a new Constitution, ending half a century of parliamentary rule in Sweden and making him an 'enlightened despot'.

26: "BUT it is the singular happiness of the Americans,..."--Here Allen is basically disavowing the Crown's right to rule in the American colonies.

27: "your G ——’s heart not right..." --subject to speculation, probably "your Governor's heart not right..."

27:  "...Pluto's horrid kingdom."--Pluto was the Greek god of the netherworld, or Hades (Hell).

27:"Observations of a negro"--Aaron Briggs, the indentured servant whose testimony identified several of the Gaspee attackers, was actually of mixed Indian and black blood, called "Mustee".  For all the credit that Allen is given for his position against slavery in his later sermons, this passage appears to be disdainful of black people, even if viewed in the context of the time, 1772.

27: ...the voice of blood in your own streets..."--Once again, the reference is to the Boston Massacre.

27: "...that cry'd for vengeance, that was, saith the Lord to Cain...."--Genesis 4:9

28: "...for none but those, who set a just value upon this blessing, are worthy the enjoyment of it...."--Allen calls for all Americans to unite and fight to protect their liberties.

28: "Which leads me to the fifth [sic] observation, which is,..."--Allen skipped his fourth observation, if there was any; probably a misnumbering.

28: "...sending home their governor in irons..."-- Presumably a reference to ex-Governor Francis Bernard, the Royally-appointed governor of Massachusetts from 1760-1769, he was forced out of his post by pro-independence political forces after the Stamp Act crisis and replaced by Thomas Hutchinson. Although sent home to England, and burned in effigy, we doubt Berard was actually put in irons.

29: "...the great man uttereth his mischievous desire..."--Micah 7:3. 

29: Lord Bute, -- John Stuart, third Earl of Bute (PM May 1762-April 1763); Lord Bute  Unpopular prime Minister responsible for new taxes to pay off Britain's debt arising from the Seven Year's War. "It was at this time that the myth emerged of the king and Bute plotting to subvert the constitution and introduce a despotism. The opposition used Bute's Scottish ancestry.....and his closeness to the Queen Mother (rumours were rife that they were lovers) to blackguard him.....Riots broke out and there were hangings of effigies of Bute - mainly boots. Politicians were stoned in the streets and the mob smashed the windows in Bute's house. The king hoped that Bute would ride out the storm but the Prime Minister was unable to take any more criticism and personal attacks. Bute resigned on 8 April 1763 and was succeeded as PM by George Grenville."...."George III admired Bute and relied heavily upon his advice even after Bute had left political life. However, he still advised the king privately which led to Burke's suspicions of the 'Minister behind the Curtain' later. It was Bute who taught the king to mistrust politicians."...."Bute remained a friend of the king, continuing to advise him until George III broke with him in 1766."  Source:

29: Duke of Grafton,-- Augustus Henry Fitzroy, third Duke of Grafton (PM October 1768 - January 1770), "Grafton became PM in his own right after Chatham's resignation, having acted as caretaker Prime Minister and First Lord of the Treasury in Chatham's ministry (1766-68). Grafton's appointment made little difference to government because he was a political light-weight who took office from a sense of loyalty and duty. He had a number of problems to deal with and from November 1768 the 'Junius' letters in the Public Advertiser made Grafton and his administration the butt of fierce political satire. 'Junius' sided with Wilkes and attacked government inefficiency and its apparent disregard for law. 'Junius' held up George III and Grafton for popular hatred."  Source:

29: Lord Hillsborough--Lord Dartmouth's immediate predecessor as British Secretary of State for Colonial Affairs, Hillsborough was generally considered less tolerant of American insubordination  It was on his watch that the Gaspee was burned, and he was the one who actually initiated the commission of inquiry about the Gaspee.

29:  "...and their safety..."--A veiled threat Allen appears to make on the life of the King.

30: " the closet, in the cabinet, and in the ears of the King."--Hereabouts Allen indicts the King's ministers and Privy Council as the root cause of the King's policies against American freedoms..

30: "...the deeps of the dark mansions."--Presumably, the King's ministers who, by and large, were noblemen that lived and conducted business in their various stately mansions.

30: "...paying a fixed tax for every acre of land you enjoy....."--Allen's long diatribe against taxes is often quoted to this day by anti-taxation elements in our society.

30: "Stand alarm’d, O ye Americans"--This seems to be the most often quoted phrase from Allen by various writers.
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Originally Posted to Gaspee Virtual Archives 10/2001    Last Revised 4/2009    Allen.html