My dear Countrymen,
Some states have lost their liberty by particular accidents: But this calamity is generally owing to the decay of virtue. A people is travelling fast to destruction, when individuals consider their interests as distinct from those of the public. Such notions are fatal to their country, and to themselves. Yet how many are there, so weak and sordid as to think they perform all the offices of life, if they earnestly endeavor to increase their own wealth, power, and credit, without the least regard for the society, under the protection of which they live; who, if they can make an immediate profit to themselves, by lending their assistance to those, whose projects plainly tend to the injury of their country, rejoice in their dexterity, and believe themselves entitled to the character of able politicians. Miserable men! Of whom it is hard to say, whether they ought to be most the objects of pity or contempt: But whose opinions are certainly as detestable, as their practices are destructive.
Though I always reflect, with a high pleasure, on the integrity and understanding of my countrymen, which, joined with a pure and humble devotion to the great and gracious author of every blessing they enjoy, will, I hope, ensure to them, and their posterity, all temporal and eternal happiness; yet when I consider, that in every age and country there have been bad men, my heart, at this threatening period, is so full of apprehension, as not to permit me to believe, but that there may be some on this continent, against whom you ought to be upon your guard—Men, who either hold, or expect to hold certain advantages, by setting examples of servility to their countrymen. Men, who trained to the employment, or self taught by a natural versatility of genius, serve as decoys for drawing the innocent and unwary into snares. It is not to be doubted but that such men will diligently bestir themselves on this and every like occasion, to spread the infection of their meanness as far as they can. On the plans they have adopted, this is their course. This is the method to recommend themselves to their patrons.
From them we shall learn, how pleasant and profitable a thing it is, to be for our SUBMISSIVE behavior well spoken of at St. James’s, or St. Stephen’s; at Guildhall, or the Royal Exchange. Specious fallacies will be dressed up with all the arts of delusion, to persuade one colony to distinguish herself from another, by unbecoming condescensions, which will serve the ambitious purposes of great men at home, and therefore will be thought by them to entitle their assistants in obtaining them to considerable rewards.
Our fears will be excited. Our homes will be awakened. It will be insinuated to us, with a plausible affectation of wisdom and concern, how prudent it is to please the powerful—how dangerous to provoke them—and then comes in the perpetual incantation that freezes up every generous purpose of the soul in cold, inactive expectation—“that if there is any request to be made, compliance will obtain a favorable attention.”
Our vigilance and our union are success and safety. Our negligence and our division are distress and death. They are worse—They are shame and slavery. Let us equally shun the benumbing stillness of overweening sloth, and the feverish activity of that ill informed zeal, which busies itself in maintaining little, mean and narrow opinions. Let us, with a truly wise generosity and charity, banish and discourage all illiberal distinctions, which may arise from differences in situation, forms of government, or modes of religion. Let us consider ourselves as MEN—FREEMEN—CHRISTIAN FREEMEN—separated from the rest of the world, and firmly bound together by the same rights, interests and dangers. Let these keep our attention inflexibly fixed on the GREAT OBJECTS, which we must CONTINUALLY REGARD, in order to preserve those rights, to promote those interests, and to avert those dangers.
Let these truths be indelibly impressed on our minds—that we cannot be HAPPY, without being FREE—that we cannot be free, without being secure in our property—that we cannot be secure in our property, if, without our consent, others may, as by right, take it away—that taxes imposed on us by parliament, do thus take it away—that duties laid for the sole purpose of raising money, are taxes—that attempts to lay such duties should be instantly and firmly opposed—that this opposition can never be effectual, unless it is the united effort of these provinces—that therefore BENEVOLENCE of temper towards each other, and UNANIMITY of counsels, are essential to the welfare of the whole—and lastly, that for this reason, every man among us, who in any manner would encourage either dissension, dissidence, or indifference, between these colonies, is an enemy to himself, and to his country.
The belief of these truths, I verily think, my countrymen, is indispensably necessary to your happiness. I beseech you, therefore, “teach them diligently unto your children, and talk of them when you sit in your houses, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
What have these colonies to ask, while they continue free? Or what have they to dread, but insidious attempts to subvert their freedom? Their prosperity does not depend on ministerial favors doled out to particular provinces. They form one political body, of which each colony is a member. Their happiness is founded on their constitution; and is to be promoted, by preserving that constitution in unabated vigor, throughout every part. A spot, a speck of decay, however small the limb on which it appears, and however remote it may seem from the vitals, should be alarming. We have all the rights requisite for our prosperity. The legal authority of Great Britain may indeed lay hard restrictions upon us; but, like the spear of Telephus, it will cure as well as wound. Her unkindness will instruct and compel us, after some time, to discover, in our industry and frugality, surprising remedies—if our rights continue unviolated: For as long as the products of our labor, and the rewards of our care, can properly be called our own, so long it will be worth our while to be industrious and frugal. But if when we plow—sow—reap—gather—and thresh—we find, that we plow—sow—reap—gather—and thresh for others, whose PLEASURE is to be the SOLE LIMITATION how much they shall take, and how much they shall leave, WHY should we repeat the unprofitable toil? Horses and oxen are content with that portion of the fruits of their work, which their owners assign them, in order to keep them strong enough to raise successive crops; but even these beasts will not submit to draw for their masters, until they are subdued by whips and goads.
Let us take care of our rights, and we therein take care of our prosperity. “SLAVERY IS EVER PRECEDED BY SLEEP.”Individuals may be dependent on ministers, if they please. STATES SHOULD SCORN IT—and if you are not wanting to yourselves, you will have a proper regard paid you by those, to whom if you are not respectable, you will be contemptible. But—if we have already forgot the reasons that urged us with unexampled unanimity, to exert ourselves two years ago—if our zeal for the public good is worn out before the homespun cloths, which it caused us to have made—if our resolutions are so faint, as by our present conduct to condemn our own late successful example—if we are not affected by any reverence for the memory of our ancestors, who transmitted to us that freedom in which they had been blessed—if we are not animated by any regard for posterity, to whom, by the most sacred obligations, we are bound to deliver down the invaluable inheritance—THEN, indeed, any minister—or any tool of a minister—or any creature of a tool of a minister—or any lower instrument of administration, if lower there be, is a personage whom it may be dangerous to offend.
I shall be extremely sorry, if any man mistakes my meaning in any thing I have said. Officers employed by the crown, are, while according to the laws they conduct themselves, entitled to legal obedience, and sincere respect. These it is a duty to render them; and these no good or prudent person will withhold. But when these officers, through rashness or design, desire to enlarge their authority beyond its due limits, and expect improper concessions to be made to them, from regard for the employments they bear, their attempts should be considered as equal injuries to the crown and people, and should be courageously and constantly opposed. To suffer our ideas to be confounded by names on such occasions, would certainly be an inexcusable weakness, and probably an irremediable error.
We have reason to believe, that several of his Majesty’s present ministers are good men, and friends to our country; and it seems not unlikely, that by a particular concurrence of events, we have been treated a little more severely than they wished we should be. They might not think it prudent to stem a torrent. But what is the difference to us, whether arbitrary acts take their rise from ministers, or are permitted by them? Ought any point to be allowed to a good minister, that should be denied to a bad one? The mortality of ministers, is a very frail mortality. A —— may succeed a Shelburne—A —— may succeed a Conway.
We find a new kind of minister lately spoken of at home—“THE MINISTER OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS.” The term seems to have peculiar propriety when referred to these colonies, with a different meaning annexed to it, from that in which it is taken there. By the word “minister” we may understand not only a servant of the crown, but a man of influence among the commons, who regard themselves as having a share in the sovereignty over us. The “minister of the house” may, in a point respecting the colonies, be so strong, that the minister of the crown in the house, if he is a distinct person, may not choose, even where his sentiments are favorable to us, to come to a pitched battle upon our account. For tho’ I have the highest opinion of the deference of the house for the King’s minister, yet he may be so good natured, as not to put it to the test, except it be for the mere and immediate profit of his master or himself.
But whatever kind of minister he is, that attempts to innovate a single iota in the privileges of these colonies, him I hope you will undauntedly oppose; and that you will never suffer yourselves to be either cheated or frightened into any unworthy obsequiousness. On such emergencies you may surely, without presumption, believe, that ALMIGHTY GOD himself will look down upon your righteous contest with gracious approbation. You will be a “band of brothers,” cemented by the dearest ties—and strengthened with inconceivable supplies of force and constancy, by that sympathetic ardor, which animates good men, confederated in a good cause. Your honor and welfare will be, as they now are, most intimately concerned; and besides—you are assigned by divine providence, in the appointed order of things, the protectors of unborn ages, whose fate depends upon your virtue. Whether they shall arise the generous and indisputable heirs of the noblest patrimonies, or the dastardly and hereditary drudges of imperious task-masters, YOU MUST DETERMINE.
To discharge this double duty to yourselves, and to your posterity, you have nothing to do, but to call forth into use the good sense and spirit of which you are possessed. You have nothing to do, but to conduct your affairs peaceably—prudently—firmly—jointly. By these means you will support the character of freemen, without losing that of faithful subjects—a good character in any government—one of the best under a British government. You will prove, that Americans have that true magnanimity of soul, that can resent injuries, without falling into rage; and that tho’ your devotion to Great Britain is the most affectionate, yet you can make PROPER DISTINCTIONS, and know what you owe to yourselves, as well as to her—You will, at the same time that you advance your interests, advance your reputation—You will convince the world of the justice of your demands, and the purity of your intentions. While all mankind must, with unceasing applauses, confess, that YOU indeed DESERVE liberty, who so well understand it, so passionately love it, so temperately enjoy it, and so wisely, bravely, and virtuously assert, maintain, and defend it.
“Certe ego libertatem, quae mihi a parente meo tradita est, experiar: Verum id frustra an ob rem faciam, in vestra manu situm est, quirites.”
For my part, I am resolved to contend for the liberty delivered down to me by my ancestors, but whether I shall do it effectually or not, depends on you, my countrymen. “How littlesoever one is able to write, yet when the liberties of one’s country are threatened, it is still more difficult to be silent.”
Is there not the strongest probability, that if the universal sense of these colonies is immediately expressed by RESOLVES of the assemblies, in support of their rights, by INSTRUCTIONS to their agents on the subject, and by PETITIONS to the crown and parliament for redress, these measures will have the same success now, that they had in the time of the STAMP ACT.
See the act of suspension.
The day of King william the Third’s landing.
For the satisfaction of the reader, recitals from the former acts of parliament relating to these colonies are added. By comparing these with the modern acts, he will perceive their great difference in expression and intention.
The 12th Cha. Chap. 18, which forms the foundation of the laws relating to our trade, by enacting that certain productions of the colonies should be carried to England only, and that no goods shall be imported from the plantations but in ships belonging to England, Ireland, Wales, Berwick, or the Plantations, etc. begins thus: “For the increase of shipping, and encouragement of the navigation of this nation, wherein, under the good providence and protection of GOD, the wealth, safety, and strength of this Kingdom is so much concerned,” etc.
The 15th Cha. II. Chap. 7, enforcing the same regulation, assigns these reasons for it. “In regard his Majesty’s plantations, beyond the seas, are inhabited and peopled by his subjects of this his Kingdom of England; for the maintaining a greater correspondence and kindness between them, and keeping them in a firmer dependence upon it, and rendering them yet more beneficial and advantageous unto it, in the further employment and increase of English shipping and seamen, vent of English woollen, and other manufacturers and commodities, rendering the navigation to and from the same more safe and cheap, and making this Kingdom a staple, not only of the commodities of those plantations, but also of the commodities of other countries and places for the supplying of them; and it being the usage of other nations to keep their plantations’ trade to themselves,” etc.
The 25th Cha. II, Chap. 7, made expressly “for the better securing the plantation trade,” which imposes duties on certain commodities exported from one colony to another, mentions this cause for imposing them: “Whereas by one act, passed in the 12th year of your Majesty’s reign, intitled, An act for encouragement of shipping and navigation, and by several other laws, passed since that time, it is permitted to ship, etc. sugars, tobacco, etc. of the growth, etc. of any of your Majesty’s plantations in America, etc. from the places of their growth, etc. to any other of your Majesty’s plantations in those parts, etc. and that without paying custom for the same, either at the lading or unlading the said commodities, by means whereof the trade and navigation in those commodities, from one plantation to another, is greatly increased, and the inhabitants of divers of those colonies, not contenting themselves with being supplied with those commodities for their own use, free from all customs (while the subjects of this your kingdom of England have paid great customs and impositions for what of them hath been spent here) but, contrary to the express letter of the aforesaid laws, have brought into divers parts of Europe great quantities thereof, and do also vend great quantities thereof to the shipping of other nations, who bring them into divers parts of Europe, to the great hurt and diminution of your Majesty’s customs, and of the trade and navigation of this your kingdom; For the prevention thereof, etc.
The 7th and 8th Will. III. Chap. 22, intitled, “An act for preventing frauds, and regulating abuses in the plantation trade,” recites that, “notwithstanding divers acts, etc. great abuses are daily committed, to the prejudice of the English navigation, and the loss of a great part of the plantation trade to this kingdom, by the artifice and cunning of ill disposed persons; For remedy whereof, etc. And whereas in some of his Majesty’s American plantations, a doubt or misconstruction has arisen upon the before mentioned act, made in the 25th year of the reign of King Charles II, whereby certain duties are laid upon the commodities therein enumerated (which by law may be transported from one plantation to another, for the supply of each other’s wants) as if the same were, by the payment of those duties in one plantation, discharged from giving the securities intended by the aforesaid acts, made in the 12th, 22nd and 23rd years of the reign of King Charles II, and consequently be at liberty to go to any foreign market in Europe,” etc.
The 6th Anne, Chap. 37, reciting the advancement of trade, and encouragement of ships of war, etc. grants to the captors the property of all prizes carried into America, subject to such customs and duties, as if the same had been first imported into any part of Great Britain, and from thence exported, etc.
This was a gift to persons acting under commissions from the crown, and therefore it was reasonable that the terms prescribed in that gift, should be complied with—more especially as the payment of such duties was intended to give a preference to the productions of British colonies, over those of other colonies. However, being found inconvenient to the colonies, about four years afterwards, this act was, for that reason, so far repealed, that by another act “all prize goods, imported into any part of Great Britain, from any of the plantations, were made liable to such duties only in Great Britain, as in case they had been of the growth and product of the plantations.”
The 6th Geo. II Chap. 13, which imposes duties on foreign rum, sugar and molasses, imported into the colonies, shews the reasons thus—“Whereas the welfare and prosperity of your Majesty’s sugar colonies in America, are of the greatest consequence and importance to the trade, navigation, and strength of this kingdom; and whereas the planters of the said sugar colonies, have of late years fallen into such great discouragements, that they are unable to improve or carry on the sugar trade upon an equal footing with the foreign sugar colonies, without some advantage and relief be given to them from Great Britain: For remedy whereof, and for the good and welfare of your Majesty’s subjects,” etc.
The 29th Geo. II Chap. 26, and the 1st Geo. III Chap. 9, which continue the 6th Geo. II Chap. 13, declare, that the said act has, by experience, been found useful and beneficial, etc. These are all the most considerable statutes relating to the commerce of the colonies; and it is thought to be utterly unnecessary to add any observations to these extracts, to prove that they were all intended solely as regulations of trade.
“It is worthy observation how quietly subsidies, granted in forms usual and accustomable (though heavy) are borne; such a power hath use and custom. On the other side, what discontentments and disturbances subsidies framed in a new mold do raise (such an inbred hatred novelty doth hatch) is evident by examples of former times.” Lord Coke’s 2nd Institute, p. 33.
Some people think that Great Britain has the same right to impose duties on the exports to these colonies, as on the exports to Spain and Portugal, etc. Such persons attend so much to the idea of exportation, that they entirely drop that of the connection between the mother country and her colonies. If Great Britain had always claimed, and exercised an authority to compel Spain and Portugal to import manufactures from her only, the cases would be parallel: But as she never pretended to such a right, they are at liberty to get them where they please; and if they chuse to take them from her, rather than from other nations, they voluntarily consent to pay the duties imposed on them.
Either the disuse of writing, or the payment of taxes imposed by others without our consent.
The peasants of France wear wooden shoes; and the vassals of Poland are remarkable for matted hair which never can be combed.
Plutarch in the life of Lycurgus. Archbishop Potter’s “Archaeologia Graeca.”
Cleon was a popular firebrand of Athens, and Clodius of Rome; each of whom plunged his country into the deepest calamities.
It is very worthy of remark, how watchful our wise ancestors were, lest their services should be increased beyond what the law allowed. No man was bound to go out of the realm to serve the King. Therefore, even in the conquering reign of Henry the Fifth, when the martial spirit of the nation was highly inflamed by the heroic courage of their Prince, and by his great success, they still carefully guarded against the establishment of illegal services. “When this point (says Lord Chief Justice Coke) concerning maintenance of wars out of England, came in question, the commons did make their continual claim of their ancient freedom and birthright, as in the first of Henry the Fifth, and in the seventh of Henry the Fifth, etc. the commons made a PROTEST, that they were not bound to the maintenance of war in Scotland, Ireland, Calice, France, Normandy, or other foreign parts, and caused their PROTESTS to be entered into the parliament rolls, where they yet remain; which, in effect, agrees with that which, upon like occasion, was made in the parliament of the 15th Edward I.” (2d Inst. p. 528)
4th Inst. p. 28.
Reges Angliae, nihil tale, nisi convocatis primis ordinibus, et assentiente populo suscipiunt. (Phil. Comines. 2d Inst)
These gifts entirely depending on the pleasure of the donors, were proportioned to the abilities of the several ranks of people who gave, and were regulated by their opinion of the public necessities. Thus Edward I had in his 11th year a thirtieth from the laity, a twentieth from the clergy; in his 22nd year a tenth from the laity, a sixth from London, and other corporate towns, half of their benefices from the clergy; in his 23d year an eleventh from the barons and others, a tenth from the clergy; a seventh from the burgesses, etc. (Hume’s Hist. of England)
The same difference in the grants of the several ranks is observable in other reigns.
In the famous statute de tallagio non concedendo, the king enumerates the several classes, without whose consent, he and his heirs never should set or levy any tax—“nullum tallagium, vel auxilium per nos, vel beredes nostros in regno nestro ponatur feu levetur, sine voluntate et assenfu archiepiscoporum, episcoporum, comitum, baronum, militum, burgensium, et aliorum liberorum com. de regno nostro.” (34th Edward I)
Lord Chief Justice Coke, in his comment on these words, says—“for the quieting of the commons, and for a perpetual and constant law for ever after, both in this and other like cases, this act was made.” These words are “plain,without any scruple, absolute,without any saving.” 2d Coke’s Inst. p. 532, 533. Little did the venerable judge imagine, that “otherlikecases” would happen, in which the spirit of this law would be despised by Englishmen, the posterity of those who made it.
The Goddess of Empire, in the Heathen Mythology; according to an ancient fable, Ixion pursued her, but she escaped in a cloud.
In this sense Montesquieu uses the word “tax,” in his 13th book of Spirit of Laws.
The rough draft of the resolves of the congress at New York are now in my hands, and from some notes on that draft, and other particular reasons, I am satisfied, that the congress understood the word “tax” in the sense here contended for.
It seems to be evident, that Mr. Pitt, in his defense of America, during the debate concerning the repeal of the Stamp Act, by “internal taxes,” meant any duties “for the purpose of raising a revenue”; and by “external taxes,” meant duties imposed “for the regulation of trade.” His expressions are these—“If the gentleman does not understand the differences between internal and external taxes, I cannot help it; but there is a plain distinction between taxes levied for the purposes of raising a revenue, and duties imposed for the regulation of trade, for the accommodation of the subject; although, in the consequences, some revenue might incidentally arise from the latter.”
These words were in Mr. Pitt’s reply to Mr. Greenville, who said he could not understand the difference between external and internal taxes.
In every other part of his speeches on that occasion, his words confirm this construction of his expressions. The following extracts will show how positive and general were his assertions of our right.
“It is my opinion that this Kingdom has no right to lay a tax upon the colonies”—“The Americans are the sons, not the bastards of England.taxation is no part of the governing or legislative power”—“The taxes are a voluntary gift and grant of the commonsalone. In legislation the three estates of the realm are alike concerned, but the concurrence of the peers and the crown to a tax, is only necessary to close with the form of a law.
The gift and grant is of the commons alone”—“The distinction betweenlegislation and taxationis essentially necessary to liberty”—“The commons of America, represented in their several assemblies, have ever been in possession of the exercise of this their constitutional right, of giving and granting their own money. They would have beenslaves, if they had not enjoyed it.” “The idea of a virtual representation of America in this house, is the most contemptible idea that ever entered into the head of man—It does not deserve a serious refutation.”
He afterwards shows the unreasonableness of Great Britain taxing America, thus—“When I had the honor of serving his Majesty, I availed myself of the means of information, which I derived from my office, i speak therefore from knowledge. My materials were good. I was at pains to collect, to digest, to consider them; and I will be bold to affirm, that the profit to Great Britain from the trade of the colonies, through all its branches, is two millions a year. This is the fund that carried you triumphantly through the last war. The estates that were rented at two thousand pounds a year, threescore years ago, are three thousand pounds at present. Those estates sold then from fifteen to eighteen years purchase; the same may now be sold for thirty. you owe this to america. this is the price that america pays you for her protection”—“I dare not say how much higher these profits may be augmented”—“Upon the whole, I will beg leave to tell the house what is really my opinion; it is, that the Stamp Act be repealed absolutely, totally, and immediately. That the reason for the repeal be assigned, because it was founded on an erroneous principle.”
“And that pig and bar iron, made in his Majesty’s colonies in America, may be further manufactured in this kingdom, be it further enacted by the authority aforesaid, that from and after the twenty-fourth day of June, 1750, no mill, or other engine, for slitting or rolling of iron, or any plating forge, to work with a tilt hammer, or any furnace for making steel, shall be erected; or, after such erection, continued in any of his Majesty’s colonies in America.” 23d Geo. II. Chap. 29, Sect. 9.
Though these particulars are mentioned as being absolutely necessary, yet perhaps they are not more so than glass in our severe winters, to keep out the cold from our houses; or than paper, without which such inexpressible confusions must ensue.
“The power of taxing themselves, was the privilege of which the English were, with reason, particularly jealous.” (Hume’s Hist. of England)
Mic. iv. 4.
It has been said in the House of Commons, when complaints have been made of the decay of trade to any part of Europe, “That such things were not worth regard, as Great Britain was possessed of colonies that could consume more of her manufactures than she was able to supply them with.” “As the case now stands, we shall show that the plantations are a spring of wealth to this nation, that they work for us, that their TREASURE CENTERS ALL HERE, and that the laws have tied them fast enough to us; so that it must be through our own fault and mismanagement, if they become independent of England.” (Davenant on the Plantation Trade)
“It is better that the islands should be supplied from the Northern Colonies than from England; for this reason, the provisions we might send to Barbados, Jamaica, etc. would be unimproved product of the earth, as grain of all kinds, or such product where there is little got by the improvement, as malt, salt beef and pork; indeed the exportation of salt first thither would be more advantageous, but the goods which we send to the Northern Colonies, are such, whose improvement may be justly said, one with another, to be near four fifths of the value of the whole commodity, as apparel, household furniture, and many other things.” (Idem)
“New England is the most prejudicial plantation to the kingdom of England; and yet, to do right to that most industrious English colony, I must confess, that though we lose by their unlimited trade with other foreign plantations, yet we are very great gainers by their direct trade to and from Old England. Our yearly exportations of English manufactures, malt and other goods, from hence thither, amounting, in my opinion, to ten times the value of what is imported from there; which calculation I do not make at random, but upon mature consideration, and, peradventure, upon as much experience in this very trade, as any other person will pretend to; and therefore, whenever reformation of our correspondency in trade with that people shall be thought on, it will, in my poor judgment, require GREAT TENDERNESS, and VERY SERIOUS CIRCUMSPECTION.” (Sir Josiah Child’s Discourse on Trade)
“Our plantations spend mostly our English manufactures, and those of all sorts almost imaginable, in egregious quantities, and employ nearly two thirds of all our English shipping; so that we have more people in England, by reason of our plantations in America.” (Idem)
Sir Josiah Child says, in another part of his work, “That not more than fifty families are maintained in England by the refining of sugar.” From whence, and from what Davenant says, it is plain, that the advantages here said to be derived from the plantations by England, must be meant chiefly of the continental colonies.
“I shall sum up my whole remarks in our American colonies, with this observation, that as they are a certain annual revenue of SEVERAL MILLIONS STERLING to their mother country, they ought carefully to be protected, duly encouraged, and at every opportunity that presents itself, improved for their increment and advantage, as every one they can possibly reap, must at last return to us with interest.” (BEAWES’S Lex Merc. Red.)
“We may safely advance, that our trade and navigation are greatly increased by our colonies, and that they really are a source of treasure and naval power to this kingdom, since THEY WORK FOR US, AND THEIR TREASURE CENTERS HERE. Before their settlement, our manufactures were few, and those but indifferent; the number of English merchants very small, and the whole shipping of the nation much inferior to what now belongs to the Northern Colonies only. These are certain facts. But since their establishment, our condition has altered for the better, almost to a degree beyond credibility—Our MANUFACTURES are prodigiously increased, chiefly by the demand for them in the plantations, where they AT LEAST TAKE OFF ONE HALF, and supply us with many valuable commodities for exportation, which is as great an emolument to the mother kingdom, as to the plantations themselves.” (POSTLETHWAYT’s Univ. Dict. of Trade and Commerce)
“Most of the nations of Europe have interfered with us, more or less, in divers of our staple manufactures, within half a century, not only in our woolen, but in our lead and tin manufactures, as well as our fisheries.” (POSTLETHWAYT, ibid.)
“The inhabitants of our colonies, by carrying on a trade with their foreign neighbors, do not only occasion a greater quantity of the goods and merchandises of Europe being sent from hence to them, and a greater quantity of the product of America to be sent from them hither, which would otherwise be carried from, and brought to Europe by foreigners, but an increase of the seamen and navigation in those parts, which is of great strength and security, as well as of great advantage to our plantations in general. And though some of our colonies are not only for preventing the importations of all goods of the same species they produce, but suffer particular planters to keep great runs of land in their possession uncultivated, with design to prevent new settlements, whereby they imagine the prices of their commodities may be affected; yet if it be considered, that the markets of Great Britain depend on the markets of ALL Europe in general, and that the European markets in general depend on the proportion between the annual consumption and the whole quantity of each species annually produced by ALL nations; it must follow, that whether we or foreigners are the producers, carriers, importers and exporters of American produce, yet their respective prices in each colony (the difference of freight, customs and importations considered) will always bear proportion to the general consumption of the whole quantity of each sort, produced in all colonies, and in all parts, allowing only for the usual contingencies that trade and commerce, agriculture and manufacturers, are liable to in all countries.” (POSTLETHWAYT, ibid.)
“It is certain, that from the very time Sir Walter Raleigh, the father of our English colonies, and his associates, first projected these establishments, there have been persons who have found an interest, in misrepresenting, or lessening the value of them—The attempts were called chimerical and dangerous. Afterwards many malignant suggestions were made about sacrificing so many Englishmen to the obstinate desire of settling colonies in countries which then produced very little advantage. But as these difficulties were gradually surmounted, those complaints vanished. No sooner were these lamentations over, but others arose in their stead; when it could be no longer said, that the colonies were useless, it was alleged that they were not useful enough to their mother country; that while we were loaded with taxes, they were absolutely free; that the planters lived like princes, while the inhabitants of England labored hard for a tolerable subsistence.” (POSTLETHWAYT, ibid.)
“Before the settlement of these colonies,” says Postlethwayt, “our manufactures were few, and those but indifferent. In those days we had not only our naval stores, but our ships from our neighbors. Germany furnished us with all things of metal, even to nails. Wine, paper, linens, and a thousand other things, came from France. Portugal supplied us with sugar; all the products of America were poured into us from Spain; and the Venetians and Genoese retailed to us the commodities of the East Indies, at their own price.”
“If it be asked whether foreigners, for what goods they take of us, do not pay on that consumption a great portion of our taxes? It is admitted they do.” (POSTLETHWAYT’S Great Britain’s True System)
“If we are afraid that one day or other the colonies will revolt, and set up for themselves, as some seem to apprehend, let us not drive them to a necessity to feel themselves independent of us; as they will do, the moment they perceive that THEY CAN BE SUPPLIED WITH ALL THINGS FROM WITHIN THEMSELVES, and do not need our assistance. If we would keep them still dependent upon their mother country, and, in some respects, subservient to her views and welfare; let us make it their INTEREST always to be so.” (TUCKER on Trade)
“Our colonies, while they have English blood in their veins, and have relations in England, and WHILE THEY CAN GET BY TRADING WITH US, the stronger and greater they grow, the more this crown and kingdom will get by them; and nothing but such an arbitrary power as shall make them desperate, can bring them to rebel.” (DAVENANT on the Plantation Trade)
“The Northern colonies are not upon the same footing as those of the South; and having a worse soil to improve, they must find the recompense some other way, which only can be in property and dominion: Upon which score, any INNOVATIONS in the form of government there, should be cautiously examined, for fear of entering upon measures, by which the industry of the inhabitants be quite discouraged. ’Tis ALWAYS UNFORTUNATE for a people, either by CONSENT, or upon COMPULSION, to depart from their PRIMITIVE INSTITUTIONS, and THOSE FUNDAMENTALS, by which they were FIRST UNITED TOGETHER.” (Idem) The most effectual way of uniting the colonies, is to make it their common interest to oppose the designs and attempts of Great Britain.
“All wise states will well consider how to preserve the advantages arising from colonies, and avoid the evils. And I conceive that there can be but TWO ways in nature to hinder them from throwing off their dependence; one, to keep it out of their power, and the other, out of their will. The first must be by force; and the latter, by using them well, and keeping them employed in such productions, and making such manufactures, as will support themselves and their families comfortably, and procure them wealth too, and at least not prejudice their mother country.
“Force can never be used effectually to answer the end, without destroying the colonies themselves. Liberty and encouragement are necessary to carry people thither, and to keep them together when they are there; and violence will hinder both. Any body of troops, considerable enough to awe them, and keep them in subjection, under the direction too of a needy governor, often sent thither to make his fortune, and at such a distance from any application for redress, will soon put an end to all planting, and leave the country to the soldiers alone, and if it did not, would eat up all the profit of the colony. For this reason, arbitrary countries have not been equally successful in planting colonies with free ones; and what they have done in that kind, has either been by force, at a vast expense, or by departing from the nature of their government, and giving such privileges to planters as were denied to their other subjects. And I dare say, that a few prudent laws, and a little prudent conduct, would soon give us far the greatest share of the riches of all America, perhaps drive many of the other nations out of it, or into our colonies for shelter.
“There are so many exigencies in all states, so many foreign wars, and domestic disturbances, that these colonies CAN NEVER WANT OPPORTUNITIES, if they watch for them, to do what they shall find their interest to do; and therefore we ought to take all the precautions in our power, that it shall never be their interest to act against that of their native country; an evil which can no other-wise be averted, than by keeping them fully employed in such trades as will increase their own as well as our wealth; for it is much to be feared, if we do not find employment for them, they may find it for us; the interest of the mother country, is always to keep them dependent, and so employed; and it requires all her addresses to do it; and it is certainly more easily and effectually done by gentle and insensible methods, than by power alone.” (CATO’s Letters)
If any one should observe that no opposition has been made to the legality of the 4th Geo. III. Chap. 15, which is the FIRST act of parliament that ever imposed duties on the importations in America, for the expressed purpose of raising a revenue there; I answer—First, That tho’ the act expressly mentions the raising of a revenue in America, yet it seems that it had as much in view the “improving and securing the trade between the same and Great Britain,” which words are part of its title; And the preamble says, “Whereas it is expedient that new provisions and regulations should be established for improving the revenue of this kingdom, and for extending and securing the navigation and commerce between Great Britain and your Majesty’s dominions in America, which by the peace have been so happily extended and enlarged,” etc. Secondly, All the duties mentioned in that act are imposed solely on the productions and manufactures of foreign countries, and not a single duty laid on any production or manufacture of our mother country. Thirdly, The authority of the provincial assemblies is not therein so plainly attached as by the last act, which makes provision for defraying the charges of the “administration of justice,” and the intention of the 4th Geo. III. Chap. 15, was not as much to regulate trade, as to raise a revenue, the minds of the people here were wholly engrossed by the terror of the Stamp Act, then impending over them, about the intention of which there could be no doubt.
These reasons so far distinguish the 4th Geo. III. Chap. 15, from the last act, that it is not to be wondered at, that the first should have been submitted to, tho’ the last should excite the more universal and spirited opposition. For this will be found, on the strictest examination, to be, in the principle on which it is founded, and in the consequences that must attend it, if possible, more destructive than the Stamp Act. It is, to speak plainly, a prodigy in our laws; not having one British feature.
II Corinthians 3:6.
Many remarkable instances might be produced of the extraordinary inattention with which bills of great importance, concerning these colonies, have passed in parliament; which is owing, as it is supposed, to the bills being brought in by the persons who have points to carry, so artfully framed, that it is not easy for the members in general, in the haste of business, to discover their tendency.
The following instances show the truth of this remark. When Mr. Greenville, in the violence of reformation, formed the 4th Geo. III. Chap. 15th, for regulating the American trade, the word “Ireland” was dropped in the clause relating to our iron and lumber, so that we could send these articles to no part of Europe, but to Great Britain. This was so unreasonable a restriction, and so contrary to the sentiments of the legislature for many years before, that it is surprising it should not have been taken notice of in the house. However the bill passed into a law. But when the matter was explained, this restriction was taken off by a subsequent act. I cannot positively say how long after the taking off of this restriction, as I have not the act, but I think, in less than 18 months, another act of parliament passed, in which the word “Ireland” was left out, just as it had been before. The matter being a second time explained, was a second time regulated.
Now if it be considered, that the omission mentioned struck off with ONE word so VERY GREAT A PART OF OUR TRADE, it must appear remarkable; and equally so is the method, by which Rice became an enumerated commodity.
“The enumeration was obtained (says Mr. Gee) by one Cole, a Captain of a ship, employed by a company then trading to Carolina; for several ships going from England thither, and purchasing rice for Portugal, prevented the aforesaid Captain of a loading. Upon his coming home, he possessed one Mr. Lowndes, a member of parliament (who was very frequently employed to prepare bills) with an opinion, that carrying rice directly to Portugal, was a prejudice to the trade of England, and PRIVATELY got a clause into an act, to make it an enumerated commodity; by which means he secured a freight to himself. BUT THE CONSEQUENCE PROVED A VAST LOSS TO THE NATION.” I find that this clause, “PRIVATELY got into an act,” FOR THE BENEFIT OF CAPTAIN COLE, to the “VAST LOSS OF THE NATION,” is foisted into the 3d and 4th Anne, Chap. 5th, intitled, “An act for granting to her Majesty a further subsidy on wines and merchandises imported,” with which it has no more connection, than with 34th Edward I. the 34th and 35th of Henry VIII, and the 25th of Charles II. WHICH PROVIDE, THAT NO PERSON SHALL BE TAXED BUT BY HIMSELF OR HIS REPRESENTATIVE.
Tacitus’s Ann. Book 13, § 13.
Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws, Book 13, Chap. 8.
Lord Cambden’s speech.
“It is my opinion, that this kingdom has no right to lay A TAX upon the colonies”—“The Americans are the SONS, not the BASTARDS of England”—“The distinction between LEGISLATION and TAXATION is essentially necessary to liberty”—“The COMMONS of America, represented in their several assemblies, have ever been in possession of this their constitutional right, of GIVING AND GRANTING THEIR OWN MONEY. They would have been SLAVES, if they had not enjoyed it.” “The idea of a virtual representation of America in this house, is the most contemptible idea that ever entered into the head of man—It does not deserve a serious refutation.” (Mr. Pitt’s Speech on the Stamp-Act)
That great and excellent man Lord Cambden, maintains the same opinion. His speech in the house of peers, on the declaratory bill of the sovereignty of Great Britain over the colonies, has lately appeared in our papers. The following extracts so perfectly agree with, and confirm the sentiments avowed in these letters, that it is hoped the inserting them in this note will be excused.
“As the affair is of the utmost importance, and in its consequences may involve the fate of kingdoms, I took the strictest review of my arguments; I re-examined all my authorities; fully determined, if I found myself mistaken, publicly to own my mistake, and give up my opinion: But my searches have more and more convinced me, that the British parliament have NO RIGHT TO TAX the Americans”—“Nor is the doctrine new; it is as old as the constitution; it grew up with it; indeed it is its support”—“TAXATION and REPRESENTATION are inseparably united. GOD hath joined them: No British parliament can separate them: To endeavor to do it, is to stab our vitals.”
“My position is this—I repeat it—I will maintain it to my last hour—TAXATION and REPRESENTATION are inseparable—this position is founded on the laws of nature; it is more, it is itself AN ETERNAL LAW OF NATURE; for whatever is a man’s own, is absolutely his own; NO MAN HATH A RIGHT TO TAKE IT FROM HIM WITHOUT HIS CONSENT, either expressed by himself or representative; whoever attempts to do it, attempts an injury; WHOEVER DOES IT, COMMITS A ROBBERY; HE THROWS DOWN THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN LIBERTY AND SLAVERY.” “There is not a blade of grass, which, when taxed, was not taxed by the consent of the proprietor.” “The forefathers of the Americans did not leave their native country, and subject themselves to every danger and distress, TO BE REDUCED TO A STATE OF SLAVERY. They did not give up their rights: They looked for protection, and not for CHAINS, from their mother country. By her they expected to be defended in the possession of their property, and not to be deprived of it: For should the present power continue, THERE IS NOTHING WHICH THEY CAN CALL THEIR OWN; or, to use the words of Mr. Locke, “WHAT PROPERTY HAVE THEY IN THAT, WHICH ANOTHER MAY, BY RIGHT, TAKE, WHEN HE PLEASES, TO HIMSELF?”
It is impossible to read this speech, and Mr. Pitt’s, and not be charmed with the generous zeal for the rights of mankind that glows in every sentence. These great and good men, animated by the subject they speak upon, seem to rise above all the former glorious exertions of their abilities. A foreigner might be tempted to think they are Americans, asserting, with all the ardor of patriotism, and all the anxiety of apprehension, the cause of their native land—and not Britons, striving to stop their mistaken countrymen from oppressing others. Their reasoning is not only just—it is, as Mr. Hume says of the eloquence of Demosthenes, “vehement.” It is disdain, anger, boldness, freedom, involved in a continual stream of argument.
“So credulous, as well as obstinate, are the people in believing everything, which flatters their prevailing passion.” (Hume’s Hist. of England)
The writs for searching houses in England, are to be granted “under the seal of the court of exchequer,” according to the statute—and that seal is kept by the chancellor of the exchequer. 4th Inst. p. 104.
“The gentleman must not wonder he was not contradicted, when, as minister, he asserted the right of parliament to tax America. I know not how it is, but there is a MODESTY in this house, which does not choose to contradict a minister. I wish gentlemen would get the better of this modesty. IF THEY DO NOT, PERHAPS THE COLLECTIVE BODY MAY BEGIN TO ABATE OF ITS RESPECT FOR THE REPRESENTATIVE.” (Mr. Pitt’s Speech)
“Within this act (statute de tallagio non concedendo) are all new offices erected with new fees, or old offices with new fees, for that is a tallage put upon the subject, which cannot be done without common assent by act of parliament. And this does notably appear by a petition in parliament in anno 13 H. IV. where the commons complain, that an office was erected for measureage of cloths and canvas, with a new fee for the same, by color of the king’s letters patents, and pray that these letters patents may be revoked, for that the king could erect no offices with new fees to be taken of the people, who may not so be charged but by parliament.” (2d Inst. p. 533)
An enquiry into the legality of pensions on the Irish establishment, by Alexander M’Aulay, Esq.; one of the King’s council, etc.
Mr. M’Aulay concludes his piece in the following beautiful manner. “If any pensions have been obtained on that establishment, to SERVE THE CORRUPT PURPOSES OF AMBITIOUS MEN—If his Majesty’s revenues of Ireland have been employed in pensions, TO DEBAUCH HIS MAJESTY’S SUBJECTS of both kingdoms—If the treasure of Ireland has been expended in pensions, FOR CORRUPTING MEN OF THAT KINGDOM TO BETRAY THEIR COUNTRY; and men of the neighboring kingdom, to betray both—If Irish pensions have been procured, TO SUPPORT GAMESTERS AND GAMING-HOUSES; promoting a vice which threatens national ruin—If pensions have been purloined out of the national treasure of Ireland, under the MASK OF SALARIES ANNEXED TO PUBLIC OFFICES, USELESS TO THE NATION; newly invented, FOR THE PURPOSES OF CORRUPTION—If Ireland, just beginning to recover from the devastations of massacre and rebellion, be obstructed in the progress of her cure, BY SWARMS OF PENSIONARY VULTURES PREYING ON HER VITALS—If, by squandering the national substance of Ireland, in a LICENTIOUS, UNBOUNDED PROFUSION OF PENSIONS, instead of employing it in nourishing and improving her infant agriculture, trade and manufactures, or in enlightening and reforming her poor, ignorant, deluded, miserable natives (by nature most amiable, most valuable, most worthy of public attention)—If, by such abuse of the national substance, sloth and nastiness, cold and hunger, nakedness and wretchedness, popery, depopulation and barbarism, still maintain their ground; still deform a country, abounding with all the riches of nature, yet hitherto destined to beggary—IF SUCH PENSIONS be found on the Irish establishment; let such be cut off: And let the perfidious advisers be branded with indelible characters of public infamy; adequate, if possible, to the dishonor of their crime.”
In Charles the second’s time, the house of commons, influenced by some factious demagogues, were resolved to prohibit the importation of Irish cattle into England. Among other arguments in favor of Ireland it was insisted—“That by cutting off almost entirely the trade between the kingdoms, ALL THE NATURAL BANDS OF UNION WERE DISSOLVED, and nothing remained to keep the Irish in their duty, but force and violence.”
“The king (says Mr. Hume, in his history of England) was so convinced of the justness of these reasons, that he used all his interest to oppose the bill, and he openly declared, that he could not give his assent to it with a safe conscience. But the commons were resolute in their purpose”—“And the spirit of TYRANNY, of which NATIONS are as susceptible as INDIVIDUALS, had animated the English extremely TO EXERT THEIR SUPERIORITY over their dependent state. No affair could be conducted with greater violence than this by the commons. They even went so far in the preamble of the bill, as to declare the importation of Irish cattle to be a NUISANCE. By this expression they gave scope to their passion, and at the same time barred the king’s prerogative, by which he might think himself entitled to dispense with a law, so FULL OF INJUSTICE AND BAD POLICY. The lords expunged the word, but as the king was sensible that no supply would be given by the commons, unless they were gratified in all their PREJUDICES, he was obliged both to empty his interest with the peers, to make the bill pass, and to give the royal assent to it. He could not, however, forbear expressing his displeasure at the jealousy entertained against him, and at the intention which the commons discovered, of retrenching his prerogative.
THIS LAW BROUGHT GREAT DISTRESS FOR SOME TIME UPON IRELAND, BUT IT HAS OCCASIONED THEIR APPLYING WITH GREATER INDUSTRY TO MANUFACTURES, AND HAS PROVED IN THE ISSUE BENEFICIAL TO THAT KINGDOM.”
Perhaps the same reason occasioned the “barring the king’s prerogative” in the late act suspending the legislation of New York.
This we may be assured of, that WE ARE as dear to his Majesty, as the people of Great Britain are. We are his subjects as they, and as faithful subjects; and his Majesty has given too many, too constant proofs of his piety and virtue, for any man to think it possible, that such a prince can make any unjust distinction between such subjects. It makes no difference to his Majesty, whether supplies are raised in Great Britain, or America; but it makes some difference to the commons of that kingdom.
To speak plainly, as becomes an honest man on such important occasions, all our misfortunes are owing to a LUST OF POWER in men of abilities and influence. This prompts them to seek POPULARITY by expedients profitable to themselves, though ever so destructive to their country.
Such is the accursed nature of lawless ambition, and yet—What heart but melts at the thought!—Such false, detestable PATRIOTS, in every state, have led their blind, confiding country, shouting their applauses, into the jaws of shame and ruin. May the wisdom and goodness of the people of Great Britain, save them from the usual fate of nations.
The last Irish parliament continued 33 years, during all the late King’s reign. The present parliament there has continued from the beginning of this reign, and probably will continue till this reign ends.
I am informed, that within these few years, a petition was presented to the house of commons, setting forth, “that herrings were imported into Ireland from some foreign parts of the north so cheap, as to discourage the British herring fishery, and therefore praying that some remedy might be applied in that behalf by parliament.”
That upon this petition, the house came to a resolution, to impose a duty of Two Shillings sterling on every barrel of foreign herrings imported into Ireland; but afterwards dropt the affair, FOR FEAR OF ENGAGING IN A DISPUTE WITH IRELAND ABOUT THE RIGHT OF TAXING HER.
So much higher was the opinion, which the house entertained of the spirit of Ireland, than of that of these colonies.
I find, in the last English papers, that the resolution and firmness with which the people of Ireland have lately asserted their freedom, have been so alarming in Great Britain, that the Lord Lieutenant, in his speech on the 20th of last October, “recommended to that parliament, that such provision may be made for securing the judges in the enjoyment of their offices and appointments, DURING THEIR GOOD BEHAVIOR, as shall be thought most expedient.”
What an important concession is thus obtained, by making demands becoming freemen, with a courage and perseverance becoming Freemen!
One of the reasons urged by that great and honest statesman, Sir William Temple, to Charles the Second, in his famous remonstrance, to dissuade him from aiming at arbitrary power, was that the King “had few offices to bestow.” (Hume’s Hist. of England)
“Tho’ the wings of prerogative have been clipped, the influence of the crown is greater than ever it was in any period of our history. For when we consider in how many boroughs the government has the votes at command; when we consider the vast body of persons employed in the collection of the revenue, in every part of the kingdom, the inconceivable number of placemen, and candidates for places in the customs, in the excise, in the post-office, in the dock-yards, in the ordnance, in the salt-office, in the stamps, in the navy and victualling offices, and in a variety of other departments; when we consider again the extensive influence of the money corporations, subscription jobbers and contractors, the endless dependencies created by the obligations conferred on the bulk of the gentlemen’s families throughout the kingdom, who have relations preferred in our navy and numerous standing army; when I say, we consider how wide, how binding a dependence on the crown is created by the above enumerated particulars, and the great, the enormous weight and influence which the crown derives from this extensive dependence upon its favor and power, any lord in waiting, any lord of the bed-chamber, any man may be appointed minister.” A doctrine to this effect is said to have been the advice of L——H——. (Late News Paper)
Here may be observed, that when any ancient law or custom of parliament is broken, and the crown possessed of a precedent, how difficult a thing it is to restore the subject again to his FORMER FREEDOM and SAFETY.” (2d Coke’s Inst. p. 529)
“It is not almost credible to foresee, when any maxim or fundamental law of this realm is altered (as elsewhere hath been observed) what dangerous inconveniences do follow.” (4th Coke’s Inst. p. 41)
Maryland and Pennsylvania have been engaged in the warmest disputes, in order to obtain an equal and just taxation of their Proprietors’ estates: But this late act of parliament does more for those Proprietors, than they themselves would venture to demand. It totally exempts them from taxation—tho’ their vast estates are to be “secured” by the taxes of other people.
Machiavel’s Discourses—Book 3. Chap. I.
The author is sensible that this is putting the gentlest construction on Charles’s conduct; and that is one reason why he chooses it. Allowances ought to be made for the errors of those men, who are acknowledged to have been possessed of many virtues. The education of this unhappy prince, and his confidence in men not so good or wise as himself, had probably filled him with mistaken notions of his own authority, and of the consequences that would attend concessions of any kind to a people, who were represented to him, as aiming at too much power.
“Opinion is of two kinds, viz., opinion of INTEREST, and opinion of RIGHT. By opinion of interest, I chiefly understand, the sense of the public advantage which is reaped from government; together with the persuasion, that the particular government which is established, is equally advantageous with any other, that could be easily settled.”
“Right is of two kinds, right to power, and right to property. What prevalence opinion of the first kind has over mankind, may easily be understood, by observing the attachment which all nations have to their ancient government, and even to those names which have had the sanction of antiquity. Antiquity always begets the opinion of right”—“It is sufficiently understood, that the opinion of right to property, is of the greatest moment in all matters of government.” (Hume’s Essays)
Omnia mala exempla ex bonis initiis orta sunt. (SALLUST. Bell. Cat. S. 50)
“The republic is always attacked with greater vigor, than it is defended: For the audacious and profligate, prompted by their natural enmity to it, are easily impelled to act by the least nod of their leaders: Whereas the HONEST, I know not why, are generally slow and unwilling to stir; and neglecting always the BEGINNINGS of things, are never roused to exert themselves, but by the last necessity: So that through IRRESOLUTION and DELAY, when they would be glad to compound at last for the QUIET, at the expense even of their HONOR, they commonly lose them BOTH.” (CICERO’S Orat. for SEXTIUS)
Such were the sentiments of this great and excellent man, whose vast abilities, and the calamities of his country during this time enabled him, by mournful experience, to form a just judgment on the conduct of the friends and enemies of liberty.
Rapin’s History of England.
Char. II. Chap. 23 and 24.
I James II. Chap. 1 and 4.
In the year of the city 428, “Duo singularia haec ei viro primum contigere; prorogatio imperii non ante in ullo facta, et acto honore triumphus.” (Liv. B.S.Chap. 23. 26)
“Had the rest of the Roman citizens imitated the example of L. Quintius, who refused to have his consulship continued to him, they have never admitted that custom of proroguing of magistrates, and then the prolongation of their commands in the army had never been introduced, which very thing was at length the ruin of that commonwealth.” (Machiavel’s Discourses, B. 3. Chap. 24)
I don’t know but it may be said, with a good deal of reason, that a quick rotation of ministers is very desirable in Great Britain. A minister there has a vast store of materials to work with. Long administrations are rather favorable to the reputation of a people abroad, than to their liberty.
Demosthenes’s 2d Philippic.
The expense of this board, I am informed, is between Four and Five thousand Pounds Sterling a year. The establishment of officers, for collecting the revenue in America, amounted before to Seven Thousand Six Hundred Pounds per annum; and yet, says the author of “The regulation of the colonies,” “the whole remittance from all the taxes in the colonies, at an average of thirty years, has not amounted to One Thousand Nine Hundred Pounds a year, and in that sum Seven or Eight Hundred Pounds per annum only, have been remitted from North America.”
The smallness of the revenue arising from the duties in America, demonstrates that they were intended only as REGULATIONS OF TRADE: And can any person be so blind to truth, so dull of apprehension in a matter of unspeakable importance to his country, as to imagine, that the board of commissioners lately established at such a charge, is instituted to assist in collecting One Thousand Nine Hundred Pounds a year, or the trifling duties imposed by the late act? Surely every man on this continent must perceive, that they are established for the care of a NEW SYSTEM OF REVENUE, which is but now begun.
“Dira caelaeno,” etc. Virgil, Aeneid 3.
It is not intended, by these words, to throw any reflection upon gentlemen, because they are possessed of offices: For many of them are certainly men of virtue, and lovers of their country. But supposed obligations of gratitude, and honor, may induce them to be silent. Whether these obligations ought to be regarded or not, is not so much to be considered by others, in the judgment they form of these gentlemen, as whether they think they ought to be regarded. Perhaps, therefore, we shall act in the properest manner towards them, if we neither reproach nor imitate them. The persons meant in this letter, are the base spirited wretches, who may endeavor to distinguish themselves, by their sordid zeal in defending and promoting measures, which they know, beyond all question, to be destructive to the just rights and true interests of their country. It is scarcely possible to speak of these men with any degree of patience—It is scarcely possible to speak of them with any degree of propriety—For no words can truly describe their guilt and meanness—But every honest bosom, on their being mentioned, will feel what cannot be expressed.
If their wickedness did not blind them, they might perceive along the coast of these colonies, many men, remarkable instances of wrecked ambition, who, after distinguishing themselves in the support of the Stamp Act, by a courageous contempt of their country, and of justice, have been left to linger out their miserable existence, without a government, collectorship, secretaryship, or any other commission, to console them as well as it could, for loss of virtue and reputation—while numberless offices have been bestowed in these colonies on people from Great Britain, and new ones are continually invented, to be thus bestowed. As a few great prizes are put into a lottery to TEMPT multitudes to lose, so here and there an American has been raised to a good post.
- Apparent rari nantes in gurgite vasto.
Mr. Greenville, indeed, in order to recommend the Stamp Act, had the unequalled generosity, to pour down a golden shower of offices upon Americans; and yet these ungrateful colonies did not thank Mr. Greenville for showing his kindness to their countrymen, nor them for accepting it. How must that great statesman have been surprised, to find, that the unpolished colonies could not be reconciled to infamy, to treachery? Such a bountiful disposition towards us never appeared in any minister before him, and probably never will appear again: For it is evident, that such a system of policy is to be established on this continent, as, in a short time, is to render it utterly unnecessary to use the least art in order to conciliate our approbation of any measures. Some of our countrymen may be employed to fix chains upon us, but they will never be permitted to hold them afterwards. So that the utmost, that any of them can expect, is only a temporary provision, that may expire in their own time; but which, they may be assured, will preclude their children from having any consideration paid to them. NATIVES of America must sink into total NEGLECT and CONTEMPT, the moment that THEIR COUNTRY loses the constitutional powers she now possesses.
Montesquieu’s Spirit of Laws, Book 14, Chap. 13.
“Instrumenta regni.” Tacitus’s Ann. Book 12. st 66.
If any person shall imagine that he discovers, in these letters, the least dislike of the dependence of these colonies on Great Britain, I beg that such person will not form any judgment on particular expressions, but will consider the tenor of all the letters taken together. In that case, I flatter myself, that every unprejudiced reader will be convinced, that the true interests of Great Britain are as dear to me, as they ought to be to every good subject.
If I am an Enthusiast in any thing, it is in my zeal for the perpetual dependence of these colonies on their mother country—A dependence founded on mutual benefits, the continuance of which can be secured only by mutual affections. Therefore it is, that with extreme apprehension I view the smallest seeds of discontent, which are unwarily scattered abroad. Fifty or Sixty years will make astonishing alterations in these colonies; and this consideration should render it the business of Great Britain more and more to cultivate our good dispositions towards her: But the misfortune is, that those great men, who wrestling for power at home, think themselves very slightly interested in the prosperity of their country Fifty or Sixty years hence, but are deeply concerned in blowing up a popular clamor for supposed immediate advantages.
For my part, I regret Great Britain as a Bulwark, happily fixed between these colonies and the powerful nations of Europe. That kingdom remaining safe, we, under its protection, enjoying peace, may diffuse the blessings of religion, science, and liberty, through remote wilderness. It is therefore incontestably our duty, and our interest, to support the strength of Great Britain. When confiding in that strength, she begins to forget from whence it arose, it will be an easy thing to show the source. She may readily be reminded of the loud alarm spread among her merchants and tradesmen, by the universal association of these colonies, at the time of the Stamp Act, not to import any of her MANUFACTURES.
In the year 1718, the Russians and Swedes entered into an agreement, not to suffer Great Britain to export ANY NAVAL STORES from their dominions but in Russian or Swedish ships, and at their own prices. Great Britain was distressed. Pitch and tar rose to Three Pounds a barrel. At length she thought of getting these articles from the colonies; and the attempt succeeding, they fell down to Fifteen Shillings. In the year 1756, Great Britain was threatened with an invasion. An easterly wind blowing for six weeks, she could not MAN her fleet, and the whole nation was thrown into the utmost consternation. The wind changed. The American ships arrived. The fleet sailed in ten or fifteen days. There are some other reflections on this subject, worthy of the most deliberate attention of the British parliament; but they are of such a nature, that I do not choose to mention them publicly. I thought it my duty, in the year 1765, while the Stamp Act was in suspense, to write my sentiments to a gentleman of great influence at home, who afterwards distinguished himself, by espousing our cause, in the debates concerning the repeal of that act.
[*]Ubi imperium ad ignaros aut minus bonos pervenit; novum illud exemplum, ab dignis & idoneis, ad indignos & non idoneos transfeltur. (Sall. Bell. Cat st 50)