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To the Virginians

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

We hope our countrymen will not be at all dispirited at the destruction of Norfolk, but rather rejoice that half the mischief our enemies can do us is done already. They have destroyed one of the first towns in America, and the only one (except two or three) in Virginia, which carried on any thing like a trade. We are only sharing part of the sufferings of our American brethren, and can now glory in having received one of the keenest strokes of the enemy, without flinching. They have done their worst, and to no other purpose than to harden our soldiers, and teach them to bear without dismay, all the most formidable operations of a war carried on by a powerful and cruel enemy; to no other purpose than to give the world specimens of British cruelty and American fortitude, unless it be to force us to lay aside that childish fondness for Britain, and that foolish, tame dependence on her. We had borne so long with the oppressions of an ungenerous restriction of our trade–of a restriction, in some instances, which seemed calculated merely as badges of our subjection, and had been contented so long with barely refusing to purchase commodities which they had taxed for the purpose of raising a revenue in America, that our patience and moderation served but to encourage them to proceed to greater lengths. To greater lengths they have proceeded, as far as the proudest tyrant’s lust of despotism, stimulated by cruelty, a rancorous malice, and an infernal spirit of revenge, could hurry them. How sunk is Britain! Could not Britons venture to wage war with America till they were told that Americans were cowards–till they had disarmed them, or had, as they thought, put it out of their power to procure arms; nor even then without the assistance of Roman Catholics and Indians, and endeavoring to raise amongst us a domestic enemy? Was this like a brave and generous nation? If they were lost to all the feelings of Britons, for men contending for the support of the British constitution, if they were determined to conquer America, why did they not attempt it like Britons? Why meanly run about to the different powers of Europe, entreating them not to assist us? Why make use of every base and inhuman stratagem, and wage a savage war unknown amongst civilized nations? Surely who ever has heard of Carleton’s, Connolly’s, and Dunmore’s plots against us, cannot but allow that they must have been authorized by a higher power; and whoever believes this cannot but wish to be instantly and forever removed from under such a power, and to be guarded most effectually against it. Most freely would we cut the gordian knot which has hitherto so firmly bound us to Britain, and call on France and Spain for assistance against an enemy who seem bent on our destruction, but who, blessed be the God of Hosts, have been baffled in most of their attempts against us, been chastised in all, and have made many attacks against us without being able to kill a single man. 1


1 “An American” in the Virginia Gazette, January 5.

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