Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature: An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891. Vol. III: Literature of the Revolutionary Period, 17651787
A Patriots Thanksgiving
By Jonathan Mayhew (17201766)
[The Snare Broken: A Thanksgiving Discourse, occasioned by the Repeal of the Stamp Act. Preached May 23, 1766.]
WE have never known so quick and general a transition from the depth of sorrow to the height of joy, as on this occasion; nor, indeed, so great and universal a flow of either on any other occasion whatever. It is very true, we have heretofore seen times of great adversity. We have known seasons of drought, dearth, and spreading mortal diseases; the pestilence walking in darkness, and the destruction wasting at noonday. We have seen wide devastations made by fire; and amazing tempests, the heavens on flame, the winds and the waves roaring. We have known repeated earthquakes, threatening us with speedy destruction. We have been under great apprehensions by reason of formidable fleets of an enemy on our coasts, menacing fire and sword to all our maritime towns. We have known times when the French and savage armies made terrible havoc on our frontiers, carrying all before them for a while; when we were not without fear that some capital towns in the colonies would fall into their merciless hands. Such times as these we have known; at some of which almost every face gathered paleness, and the knees of all but the good and brave waxed feeble. But never have we known a season of such universal consternation and anxiety among people of all ranks and ages, in these colonies, as was occasioned by that parliamentary procedure which threatened us and our posterity with perpetual bondage and slavery. For they, as we generally suppose, are really slaves to all intents and purposes, who are obliged to labor and toil only for the benefit of others; or, which comes to the same thing, the fruit of whose labor and industry may be lawfully taken from them without their consent, and they justly punished if they refuse to surrender it on demand, or apply it to other purposes than those which their masters, of their mere grace and pleasure, see fit to allow. Nor are there many American understandings acute enough to distinguish any material difference between this being done by a single person, under the title of an absolute monarch, and done by a far-distant legislature, consisting of many persons, in which they are not represented; and the members whereof, instead of feeling and sharing equally with them in the burden thus imposed, are eased of their own in proportion to the greatness and weight of it .
The repeal, the repeal, has at once, in a good measure, restored things to order, and composed our minds by removing the chief ground of our fears. The course of justice between man and man is no longer obstructed; commerce lifts up her head, adorned with golden tresses, pearls, and precious stones. All things that went on right before are returning gradually to their former course; those that did not we have reason to hope will go on better now; almost every person you meet wears the smiles of contentment and joy; and even our slaves rejoice as though they had received their manumission. Indeed, all the lovers of liberty in Europe, in the world, have reason to rejoice; the cause is, in some measure common to them and us. Blessed revolution! glorious change! How great are our obligations for it to the Supreme Governor of the world!