Of The Present Ability Of America
OF THE PRESENT ABILITY OF AMERICA, WITH SOME MISCELLANEOUS
I have never met with a man, either in England or America, who hath not confessed his
opinion that a separation between the countries, would take place one time or other: And
there is no instance, in which we have shewn less judgement, than in endeavouring to
describe, what we call the ripeness or fitness of the Continent for independence.
As all men allow the measure, and vary only in their opinion of the time, let us, in order
to remove mistakes, take a general survey of things, and endeavour, if possible, to find
out the VERY time. But we need not go far, the inquiry ceases at once, for, the TIME
HATH FOUND US. The general concurrence, the glorious union of all things prove the
It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies; yet our present numbers are
sufficient to repel the force of all the world. The Continent hath, at this time, the largest
body of armed and disciplined men of any power under Heaven; and is just arrived at that
pitch of strength, in which no single colony is able to support itself, and the whole, when
united, can accomplish the matter, and either more, or, less than this, might be fatal in its
effects. Our land force is already sufficient, and as to naval affairs, we cannot be
insensible, that Britain would never suffer an American man of war to be built, while the
continent remained in her hands. Wherefore, we should be no forwarder an hundred years
hence in that branch, than we are now; but the truth is, we should be less so, because the
timber of the country is every day diminishing, and that, which will remain at last, will be
far off and difficult to procure.
Were the continent crowded with inhabitants, her sufferings under the present
circumstances would be intolerable. The more seaport towns we had, the more should we
have both to defend and to lose. Our present numbers are so happily proportioned to our
wants, that no man need be idle. The diminution of trade affords an army, and the
necessities of an army create a new trade.
Debts we have none; and whatever we may contract on this account will serve as a
glorious memento of our virtue. Can we but leave posterity with a settled form of
government, an independent constitution of its own, the purchase at any price will be
cheap. But to expend millions for the sake of getting a few vile acts repealed, and routing
the present ministry only, is unworthy the charge, and is using posterity with the utmost
cruelty; because it is leaving them the great work to do, and a debt upon their backs, from
which they derive no advantage. Such a thought is unworthy of a man of honor, and is the
true characteristic of a narrow heart and a peddling politician.
The debt we may contract doth not deserve our regard, if the work be but accomplished.
No nation ought to be without a debt. A national debt is a national bond; and when it