Back in the day not everybody agreed with the substance of the American Declaration of Independence.
A recently discovered document, from an attic in an ancient New Hampshire home, provided another view, a dissident view, if you will, demonstrating once again that all politics are not only local, but somewhat strange.
The document is a diary written by a dairy farmer named Martin Schotzman. He signed himself ‘Marty’, and apparently did some lawyering on the side and was well respected in his tiny community.
His commentary on the Declaration follows. He notes that he sent his comments to Thomas Jefferson and his revolting friends in hope of mediating what looked to be a harbinger of hard times and revolution.
The ‘He’ refers to the King of Great Britain at the time, a fellow named George III (no last name apparently) who was often nonplussed at the behavior of his countrymen overseas in the Colonies.
Without further ado, Marty’s comments on passages from the DOI:
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
Now isn’t that a bit whiny, Tom? George is a busy guy. He’s running an empire, remember. Sometimes things just fall through the cracks of the empireocracy.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
Surely you can’t mean that last fool who tried to make dancing illegal? We’ve been ignoring Governors for years and doing what we want. Why make a messy issue of it now?
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
You keep calling George a tyrant. Believe me, I’ve met the man and he’s just not smart enough to be a tyrant. You’re only going to annoy him. And you know the Legislature is a circus. Those guys can be bought by any trade guild with a few pieces of silver. Not much of an inestimable right, if you ask me.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
Like they didn’t enjoy that trip to the Bahamas. Do you know what happened to the native pregnancy rate last time those guys met there?
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
Manly firmness, Tom? Please! They were just pissed because George didn’t give them a raise. And look what happened in the Bahamas when they raised their manly firmness. Hardly cause for revolution.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
What invasions, Tom? Sure, we had that little problem with the Indians last May, but a few turkeys and beads, a couple of kegs of ale, hey, we settled that without any help from the lawyers, thanks for nothing. The Chief got a little drunk, but that hardly counts as a convulsion.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
Now, Tom, George is just looking out for us. Look what happened in Canada. They let in the French and pretty soon the Frenchies wanted their own country. Start letting foreigners in and pretty soon we’ll look like the Balkans. A bunch of different states bickering at each other. Give the King a little credit, Tom.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.
Is this about Ben being pissed off because George wouldn’t put his friend on the Bench?
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
Yes, and Will has done a fine job. Someone has to tend to these details.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
Swarms, Tom? Swarms? We got a new dog officer, and he eats over at Widow Barnes’ house. He’s a good carpenter too. Seems like a good match, and hardly anything to get upset over.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
Would you rather have a Sitting Army, or a Laying Down Army? They’re not bad guys. They built us a much needed road last year, they fixed up the schoolhouse. They even grow some of their own food. And you just know the politicians want a handout, that’s why they mumble and groan about this issue.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
The Civil Power, Tommy? Those guys couldn’t find their butt with both hands. Why do you think they’re in office? They’re too dumb to survive in the real world. And the soldier boys aren’t all that bright either.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
Okay, so maybe nickeling and diming them would be better.
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
Maybe he does, but those mock Trials don’t do these guys much good when they head into town for a few drinks. There’s Justice and there’s Justice, Tom.
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
You mean for keeping that cheap Chinese crap away from our children?
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
Somebody’s got to pay for the roads and the courts and the schools and suchlike. Do you really think the people will have any say if our own pols tax us? Come on, Tom, you know how it works. It’s all ‘Read My Lips’ until they get elected, and then they tax everything in sight.
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
You really want to be tried by the dumb masses?
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
That would be an extraordinary rendition, and okay, I’ll agree with you on that one. If you steal in Boston, you shouldn’t be tried in Philly.
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies
Just because the neighbor jumps off a cliff doesn’t mean you’re going to jump too. Those guys were wimps anyway. But they got a nice trade deal out of it.
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
Change is the only certainty, Tom. Why fight it? Go with the flow. Work from the inside.
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
Again, we sent the dumbest of the dumb to the Legislature. They should have been suspended. You won’t believe what they caught our Legislator doing in the back of the church with the Magistrate’s wife. Then he claimed he was just out for a hike when he just had to help the poor woman because her skirt got caught on a nail.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
Which is it, Tom? You’ve accused George of messing in Government here too much and now you’re accusing him of abdicating Government. He’s probably confused.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
Actually, Tom, officially, we’re still his people. We are British, you know. Just because some of the soldiers got out of hand now and again, you can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater the way Mrs. Dunwood did last Thanksgiving.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
Oh, did you miss out on the whole Inquisition thing, Tom? And the history bits about the Greeks and the Persians, and the Romans and the Carthaginians? And that Clovis fellow? The Viking invasions? You’re a bit over the top here, Tommy.
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.
Some of those guys were just glad to have a job and see the world. And some were just bad apples. We were all pretty glad to see Timmothy Turner end up in an overseas berth. He was nothing but trouble around here.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
Oh, like we treated the ‘Savages’ with all kinds of love and respect when we took their land and gave them the Smallpox. They were pissed at us anyway, Tom, and don’t pretend you didn’t know.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Sure, we’d rather elect our own Tyrants. Tom, this is not going to lead to a good end. It always happens. You start out building a country with the best of intentions by overthrowing some lousy King or Governor, and the next thing you know you’re the one doing the killing and stealing and pillaging and raping to some other country. You guys are angry because you’re not the King. What makes you think you’ll be any better? You’re being pushed into this by a bunch of business guys who are looking to make a bigger buck, who are frankly too big for their britches. If you don’t watch out they’ll be running the country pretty quick and that’s just not a good idea.
Anyway, just be careful. Let me at least suggest that if you guys don’t hang together on this, if you’re really going to push it, you’ll hang separately.
Yr dr frnd,