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A discourse concerning unlimited submission

Introduction: Charles W. Akers in his book, Called Unto Liberty, entitles the chapter on Unlimited Submission, "A Catechism of Revolution." This small pamphlet was just that. lt is appropriate in celebrating the United States Bicentennial to remember that there was a generation before the American Revolution which prepared the way for this course of action. These precursors were more often than not clergymen--usually from New England. Notable among this group was Jonathan Mayhew who, in Unlimited Submission and in The Snare Broken (1766), on the Stamp Act, helped prepare the seedbed of the American Revolution. Unlimited Submission was reprinted several times in the Eighteenth Century but the facsimile version that follows is the first edition to which John Adams referred Fourth of July orators who "really wish to investigate the principles and feelings which produced the Revolution." John Adams wrote to Thomas Jefferson, " ... This discourse was reprinted a Year before l entered Harvard College and I read it, till the Substance of it was incorporated into my Nature and indelibly engraved on my Memory." ln this work, Mayhew takes a stand on the right of the governed to remove their tyrants forcibly when they do not serve the public good. He stated further that a king can only exercise power which a constitution gives him and his subject swears to obey him only when he exercises this kind of limited power. Additionally, the king must refrain from infringing on the legal rights of his people. Fully twenty-five years before the Declaration of Independence, Jonathan Mayhew made it clear that the citizen of Massachusetts had a duty to resist a repressive prince and, in effect, enter into a contract with his King. By stating this, Mayhew had prepared the seedbed of the American Revolution. [Norman E. Tanis]

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