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Lesson One

Reading 10

Benjamin Rush Describes Reaction to the Remonstrance

The Assembly had little success as the Independents convinced many of the people who signed the Remonstrance to retract their names. Benjamin Rush wrote to his wife describing the failure of the Assembly to win adherence to the Remonstrance.

Friday, June 1st, 1776

My dearest Julia,

Benjamin Rush Dictionary of American Portraits, Dover Publications, Inc., 1967

It gives me great pleasure to inform you that our cause continues to prosper in nine out of ten of the counties in our province. Two emissaries from the proprietary party [Moder- ates] were detected at Lancaster and York with the Remon- strance. One of them fled; the other was arrested by a county committee and obliged to go off without gaining a single convert to toryism. The Remonstrance was burnt as treason- able libel upon the liberties of America in Reading in Berks county. Many hundreds who signed it in Philadelphia county have repented of their folly and scratched out their names. A German we are told in Oxford township . . . came up to the man who had by direct falsehood prevailed upon him to sign the Remonstrance, and begged him to erase his name. The man refused it. The German in a passion took the paper out of his hands and tore it into a thousand pieces, saying at the same time, “Now, sir, you tell me d——d lies again.” The Remonstrance had 86 names subscribed to it.

Source: Butterfield, Rush Letters, I, 101 (see Hawke, In the Midst of Revolution, p. 141).


1. What argument is presented in the Remonstrance supporting the legitimacy of the Pennsylvania Assembly?

  • 2.

    How is the Assembly responding to the petition collected in the State House Yard on May 20?

  • 3.

    According to Benjamin Rush, how effective was the Assembly’s Remonstrance?

  • 4.

    What can you infer from Rush’s letter to his wife show regarding the depth of sentiment

towards independence?


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