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Gage’s Proclamation

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

June 12. –To-day General Gage has issued a proclamation, offering pardon in the king’s name to all those, excepting Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who will forthwith lay down their arms, and return to their usual occupations. Those who do not accept the mercy he offers, and who give protection to those gentlemen, or assist them in any way, are to be treated as rebels and traitors. Martial law is also declared, “for so long a time as the present unhappy occasion shall necessarily require.” A correspondent says: –“The proclamation is replete with, consummate impudence, the most abominable lies, and stuffed with daring expressions of tyranny as well as rebellion against the established constitutional authority both of Great Britain and of the American States.”


Or blustering denunciation
(Replete with defamation)
Threatening devastation,
And speedy jugulation,
Of the new English nation. —
Who shall his pious ways shun?

Whereas the rebels hereabout,
Are stubborn still, and still hold out;
Refusing yet to drink their tea,
In spite of Parliament and me;
And to maintain their bubble, Eight,
Prognosticate a real fight;
Preparing flints, and guns, and ball,
My army and the fleet to maul;
Mounting their guilt to such a pitch,
As to let fly at soldiers’ breech;
Pretending they design’d a trick,
Tho’ ordered not to hurt a chick;
But peaceably, without alarm,
The men of Concord to disarm;
Or, if resisting, to annoy,
And every magazine destroy: —
All which, tho’ long obliged to bear,
Thro’ want of men, and not of fear;
I’m able now by augmentation,
To give a proper castigation;
For since th’ addition to the troops,
Now reinforc’d as thick as hops;
I can, like Jemmy at the Boyne,
Look safely on–fight you, Burgoyne;
And mow, like grass, the rebel Yankees,
I fancy not these doodle dances: —
Yet, e’er I draw the vengeful sword,
I have thought fit to send abroad,
This present gracious proclamation,
Of purpose mild the demonstration,
That whosoe’er keeps gun or pistol,
I’ll spoil the motion of his systole;
Or, whip his —-, or cut his weason,
As haps the measure of his treason: —
But every one that will lay down
His hanger bright, and musket brown,
Shall not be beat, nor bruis’d, nor bang’d,
Much less for past offences hang’d;
But on surrendering his toledo,
Go to and fro unhurt as we do: —
But then I must, out of this plan, lock
Both samuel adams and john hancock;
For those vile traitors (like debentures)
Must be tucked up at all adventures;
As any proffer of a pardon,
Would only tend those rogues to harden: —
But every other mother’s son,
The instant he destroys his gun,
(For thus doth run the king’s command,)
May, if he will, come kiss my hand. —
And to prevent such wicked game, as
Pleading the plea of ignoramus;
Be this my proclamation spread
To every reader that can read: —
And as nor law nor right was known
Since my arrival in this town;
To remedy this fatal flaw,
I hereby publish martial law.
Meanwhile, let all, and every one
Who loves his life, forsake his gun;
And all the council, by mandamus,
Who have been reckoned so infamous,
Return unto their habitation,
Without or let or molestation. —
Thus graciously the war I wage,
As witnesseth my hand, –Tom Gage.

By command of Mother Cary,
Thomas Mucker, Secretary. 1


1 Pennsylvania Journal, June 28.

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