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The True Interest of America Impartially Stated

In this pamphlet, published in response to pro-independence broadsides like Thomas Paine's Common Sense, Anglican clergyman and Loyalist Charles Inglis endeavors to "impartially state" the reasons he considers the maintenance of ties to Great Britain to be in the colonies' "true interest." Inglis enumerates the advantages he sees deriving from the colonial relationship, citing the benefits of peace and renewed trade, and then goes on to list what he sees as the "evils" that would inevitably result from a separation from Britain. Evacuated from New York in 1783, where he had served in Trinity Church, Inglis returned to Britain, later crossing the Atlantic again to become the first Anglican bishop of Nova Scotia.

I think it no difficult matter to point out many advantages which will certainly attend our reconciliation and connection with Great-Britain, on a firm, constitutional plan. I shall select a few of these and . . . shall afterwards point out some of the evils which inevitably must attend our separating from Britain . . .

1. By a reconciliation with Britain, a period would be put to the present calamitous war, by which so many lives have been lost, and so many more must be lost, if it continues. . . . it is time to lay aside those animosities which have pushed on Britons to shed the blood of Britons; it is high time that those who are connected by the endearing ties of religion, kindred and country, should resume their former friendship, and be united in the bond of mutual affection, as their interests are inseparably united.

2. By a Reconciliation with Great-Britain, Peace - that fairest offspring and gift of Heaven - will be restored. In one respect Peace is like health; we do not sufficiently know its value but by its absence. . . .

3. Agriculture, commerce, and industry would resume their wonted vigor. At present, they languish and droop, both here and in Britain; and must continue to do so, while this unhappy contest remains unsettled.

4. By a connection with Great-Britain, our trade would still have the protection of the greatest naval power in the world. . . .

5. The protection of our trade, while connected with Britain, will not cost a fiftieth part of what it must cost, were we ourselves to raise a naval force sufficient for this purpose.

6. Whilst connected with Great-Britain . . . we may be better supplied with goods by her, than we could elsewhere. . . . The manufactures of Great-Britain confessedly surpass any in the world - particularly those in every kind of metal, which we want most; and no country can afford linens and woollens, of equal quality cheaper.

7. When a Reconciliation is effected, and things return into the old channel, a few years of peace will restore everything to its pristine state. Emigrants will flow in as usual from the different parts of Europe. Population will advance with the same rapid progress as formerly, and our lands will rise in value . . .

Let us now, if you please, take a view of the other side of the question. Suppose we were to revolt from Great-Britain, declare ourselves Independent, and set up a Republic of our own-what would be the consequence? - I stand aghast at the prospect - my blood runs chill when I think of the calamities, the complicated evils that must ensue. . . .

1. All our property throughout the continent would be unhinged; the greatest confusion, and most violent convulsions would take place. . . .

2. What a horrid situation would thousands be reduced to who have taken the oath of allegiance to the King: yet contrary to their oath, as well as inclination, must be compelled to renounce that allegiance, or abandon all their property in America!. . . . A Declaration of Independency would infallibly disunite and divide the colonists.

3. By a Declaration for Independency, every avenue to an accommodation with Great-Britain would be closed; the sword only could then decide the quarrel; and the sword would not be sheathed till one had conquered the other. . . . The importance of these colonies to Britain need not be enlarged on, it is a thing so universally known. . . . Great-Britain therefore must, for her own preservation, risk every thing, and exert her whole strength, to prevent such an event from taking place. This being the case --

4. Devastation and ruin must mark the progress of this war along the sea coast of America. Hitherto, Britain has not exerted her power. . . . But as soon as we declare for independency, every prospect of this kind must vanish. Ruthless war, with all its aggravated horrors, will ravage our once happy land-our seacoasts and ports will be ruined, and our ships taken. Torrents of blood will be split, and thousands reduced to beggary and wretchedness. . . .

5. But supposing once more that we were able to cut off every regiment that Britain can spare or hire, and to destroy every ship she can send . . . a republican form of government would neither suit the genius of the people, nor the extent of America. . . . The Americans are properly Britons. They have the manners, habits, and ideas of Britons; and have been accustomed to a similar form of government. But Britons never could bear the extremes, either of monarchy or republicanism.

Besides the unsuitableness of the republican form to the genius of the people, America is too extensive for it. That form may do well enough for a single city, or small territory; but would be utterly improper for such a continent as this. . . .

But here it may be said - That all the evils above specified, are more tolerable than slavery. With this sentiment I sincerely agree - any hardships, however great, are preferable to slavery. But then I ask, is there no other alternative in the present case? Is there no choice left us but slavery, or those evils? I am confident there is; and that both may be equally avoided. Let us only shew a disposition to treat or negociate in earnest - let us fall upon some method to set a treaty or negociation with Great Britain on foot; and if once properly begun, there is moral certainty that this unhappy dispute will be settled to the mutual satisfaction and interest of both countries.

Source | Charles Inglis, The True Interest of America Impartially Stated (Philadelphia: Humphreys, 1776); from Virtual Library, http://www.vlib.us/amdocs/texts/inglis.html
Creator | Charles Inglis
Item Type | Pamphlet/Petition
Cite This document | Charles Inglis, “The True Interest of America Impartially Stated,” HERB: Resources for Teachers, accessed June 19, 2019, https://herb.ashp.cuny.edu/items/show/1128.

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