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Small injuries may become fatal

Dave Barnby drew our attention to a homily preached by Simeon Howard to the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company in Boston in 1773:

An incautious people may submit to these demands, one after another, till its liberty is irrecoverably gone, before they saw the danger. Injuries small in themselves may in their consequences be fatal to those who submit to them; especially if they are persisted in. And, with respect to such injuries, we should ever act upon that ancient maxim of prudence: obsta principiis.

The first unjust demands of an encroaching power should be firmly withstood when there appears a disposition to repeat and increase such demands. And oftentimes it may be both the right and duty of a people to engage in war, rather than give up to the demands of such a power, what they could, without any incoveniency, spare in the way of charity. War, though a great evil, is ever preferable to such concessions as are likely to be fatal to public liberty.

Dave's email concludes,"Obsta Principiis means resist the first encroachments. A farmer might say, 'Nip it in the bud.' When certain moral or constitutional principles are violated, it matters little how gross the deviation. Once a breach has occurred we had better fix it, and fix it right now." (The quotes come from Mark Steyn's book America Alone.)

The British in America decided to resist encroachments on their freedom, though it took them some time to arrange a united and effective effort.