To the Free and Patriotic Inhabitants of the City of Philad. & Province of Pennsylvania
When word reached the colonies that Parliament had repealed virtually all of the Townshend Revenue Acts passed in 1767, many argued that it was the appropriate time to end the boycott of British goods. However, craftsmen in Philadelphia argued that the boycott must continue and urged that the public refrain from purchasing products manufactured by those who continued to carry on a trade with the British. Merchants, many of whom were Quakers who had suffered from the boycott, protested and argued that the affairs of state should not be left up to the “rabble.”They intended to have the Pennsylvania Assembly take action to end the boycott at a meeting called for June 5, 1770. On May 31, a broadside written under the pseudonym “A Lover of Liberty and a Mechanic’s Friend,” criticized merchants who failed to respect the liberty of mechanics (artisans) and urged them to persevere in their struggle. The following is an excerpt from the broadside.
Brethren and Fellow Citizens, Country Men and Friends.
It is with deepest concern I have lately heard the members of a very respectable assembly of Artisans, Mechanics, Tradesmen . . . censored for the laudable Resolutions they then entered into, by sundry merchants of the city, some of whom have been cruelly ungenerous, as to declare their Resolutions to injure particular members of that Assembly, (who are now exten- sively engaged in valuable manufactures among us) by not purchasing themselves, nor suffering, if in their power, others to purchase a single article manufactured by them.Their only ground for which this unchristian-like declaration was because the patriotic Members express their detestation of a measure of the most evil tendency to our constitution. And is with equal concern and astonishment I find many of our merchants persist in declaring Mechanics have no Right to give their sentiments respecting an importation, and that they are determined to use their utmost endeavours to promote an importation of British Commodities at their next meeting—O ye Pennsylvania patriots! How are ye fallen from your boasted virtue? If we once considered a compliance with the Acts . . . why should we now cease to exclaim against them? If an opposition to such acts was once thought inseparably essential to our freedom, why should not an opposition to a part of them now be considered so? For the admission of any one of them must be as fatal in its consequences as if the whole had then place . . . . I well know there are some reputable and sensible merchants amongst us who look on the favourers of an importation of British commodities (at this time) as enemies to their country, and I also know that a number of those who vehemently advise an importation, and who licentiously pronounce the Mechanic Body amongst us “improper persons to be con- sulted on the subject of an importation” are only weak and babbling boys—clerks of yesterday—Merchants of today’s christening—. . . and yet these very men, these infant sons of commerce, have the impudence to assert that Mechanics are men of no consequence, nay, they have even dared . . . to declare those worthy men “a Rabble,” though it is notoriously true that . . . a good Mechanic is considered one of the most serviceable, one of the most