Smithsonian

Reconciliation Better than Independence

Anglican clergyman and educator William Smith wrote a series of public letters in 1776 under the name “Cato” in reply to Thomas Paine’s Common Sense.

We have already declared ourselves independent, as to all useful purposes, by resisting our oppressors upon our own foundation. And while we keep upon this ground, without connecting ourselves with any foreign nations, to involve us in fresh difficulties and endanger our liberties still further, we are able, in our own element (upon the shore), to continue this resistance; and it is our duty to continue it till Great Britain is convinced (as she must soon be) of her fatal policy, and open her arms to reconciliation, upon the permanent and sure footing of mutual interests and safety.

Upon such a footing, we may again be happy. Our trade will be revived. Our husbandmen, our mechanics, our artificers will flourish. Our language, our laws, and manners being the same with those of the nation with which we are again to be connected, that connection will be natural; and we shall the more easily guard against future innovations. Pennsylvania has much to lose in this contest and much to hope from a proper settlement of it. We have long flourished under our charter government. What may be the consequences of another form we cannot pronounce with certainty; but this we know, that it is a road we have not traveled and may be worse than it is described.

Source: Teresa O’Neill, ser. ed., Opposing Viewpoints: The American Revolution, American History Series (San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 1992), p.151.