(A line by line historical analysis of the accusations of the Declaration of Independence.)
XXVI. He has constrained our fellow-citizens, taken captive on the high seas, to bear arms against their country, to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall themselves by their hands.
About the last of December, 1775, the British Parliament passed an act for prohibiting all trade and commerce with the colonies, and authorizing the capture and condemnation, not only of all American vessels with their cargoes, but all other vessels found trading with the colonies, and the crews were to be treated, not as prisoners, but as slaves. By a clause in the act, it was made lawful for the commander of a British vessel to take the masters, crews, and other persons, found in the captured vessels, and to put them on board any other British armed vessel, enter their names on the books of the same, and, from the time of such entry, such persons were to be considered in the service of his majesty, to all intents and purposes, as though they had entered themselves voluntarily on board such vessel.1 By this means, the Americans were compelled to fight even against their own friends and countrymen--to become the executioners of their friends and brethren, or to fall by their hands." This barbarous act was loudly condemned on the floor of Parliament, as unworthy of a Christian people, a "refinement of cruelty unknown among savage nations," and paralleled only "among pirates, the outlaws and enemies of human society." But the act became law, and to the disgrace of Great Britain it was put in force.
It was the provisions of this odious act which laid the British government under the necessity of providing a force to carry out its designs in America, which its resources in men were inadequate to do; and ministers resorted to the foul measure of hiring German soldiers to fight their battles against their brethren here.
1 Pitkin, vol. i., p 357.
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