Bishop Samuel Seabury, using the pen name A.W. Farmer, wrote to condemn the colonists for calling a Continental Congress. Seabury insisted that the Continental Congress was illegal because the colonists were under the legal jurisdiction of England's parliament. They simply had no right to challenge the authority of the English...
Bishop Samuel Seabury, using the pen name A.W. Farmer, wrote to condemn the colonists for calling a Continental Congress. Seabury insisted that the Continental Congress was illegal because the colonists were under the legal jurisdiction of England's parliament. They simply had no right to challenge the authority of the English parliament and no right to band together to protest injustice against the colony of Massachusetts, which was at the center of the colonists' quarrel with England.
Hamilton, just 19 years old, argued that the colonists had every right to form their own Congress, arguing that the "natural law" that comes directly from God ("the hand of the divinity itself") allows humans to fight injustice and guarantees people the natural rights of liberty, security, and self-determination. On this subject, Hamilton wrote:
The sacred rights of mankind are not to be rummaged for, among old parchments, or musty records. They are written, as with a sun beam, in the whole volume of human nature, by the hand of the divinity itself; and can never be erased or obscured by mortal power.
Hamilton argues that the English parliament's legal power over the colonies can be ignored because of England's unjust behavior to the colonists. He states several reasons for this: first, parliament exercises authority over the colonists (bosses them around) even though the colonists never agreed to this. Hamilton puts it this way:
If we examine the pretensions of parliament ... we shall, presently detect their injustice. First, they are subversive of our natural liberty, because an authority is assumed over us, which we by no means assent to.
Second, Parliament is forcing them to play by rules ("laws") that are unfair. Since the colonists had no part in making these laws, and since the laws are a burden, the colonists are not bound under the natural law of God to obey them. The colonists simply can't feel secure that laws they had no part in making will really protect them or are in their best interest. In fact, these laws could be made by out-of-control Parliament members in England who could decide, if they wanted to, to make the colonists suffer as much as possible. Hamilton says it this way:
And secondly, they divest us of that moral security, for our lives and properties, which we are entitled to, and which it is the primary end of society to bestow. For such security can never exist, while we have no part in making the laws, that are to bind us; and while it may be the interest of our uncontrolled legislators to oppress us as much as possible.
Hamilton also argues that the Congress was needed because England created a state of emergency by how unfairly it treated Massachusetts. He asserts that the colonies have to stick together because an injustice to one could lead to all of them being treated unjustly. He writes that the various colonies simply had to get together in a Congress to figure out what their rights were and to speak with a united voice because that would give them "weight and dignity." In other words, they would have more power and be taken more seriously if they all spoke as one united body. Hamilton writes:
Extraordinary emergencies, require extraordinary expedients. The best mode of opposition was that in which there might be an union of councils. This was necessary to ascertain the boundaries of our rights; and to give weight and dignity to our measures, both in Britain and America. A Congress was accordingly proposed, and universally agreed to.