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The Fishery Bill

From Diary of the American Revolution, Vol I. Compiled by Frank Moore and published in 1859.

Yesterday the ship Samson arrived at New York from England. Accounts by this vessel mention that the forces destined for, and on their way to America, are eleven regiments of foot, and two of light horse on board ninety-five transports, with seventeen men-of-war, all victualled for twelve months; other accounts reduce the forces and ships to about half the above number. All, however, agree, that the design of their coming is to dragoon the British colonies into a surrender of their liberty and property, and to destroy the English constitution: —They who refuse to fight for their liberty deserve to be slaves. A letter from London received by the captain of the Samson says, “The friends of America, on the arrival of the packet, were much alarmed at a report that New York was disaffected to the common cause, and had determined to break the resolves of the Congress, especially that of non-importation. However, we had the pleasure, from the best accounts, to find it otherwise. I have now to inform you that notwithstanding all we could do, the Fishery Bill 1 was yesterday (March 1) read the third time, and passed the House of Commons, whereby a stop is to be put to all the fisheries on the first of July, except the whale fishery, which is to be continued until the first of November. Every impartial man must in his heart condemn a bill so replete with inhumanity and cruelty. It will be an everlasting stain on the annals of our pious sovereign, who, from the best accounts, is the grand promoter of these proceedings. We hope the firmness of your countrymen will evince to all the world, your just sense of measures so unjust; and will, in due season, retort them with vengeance on the guilty heads of the enemies of the British empire. 2


1 “The Black Act.”–A bill to restrain the trade and commerce of the Provinces of Massachusetts Bay and New Hampshire; the colonies of Connecticut and Rhode Island, and Providence Plantation, in North America, to Great Britain, Ireland, and the British Islands in the West Indies; and to prohibit such provinces and colonies from carrying on any fishery on the Banks of Newfoundland, or other places therein mentioned, under certain conditions, and for a time to be limited. —Holt’s Journal, April 20.
2 Holt’s Journal, April 20.

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