« AnteriorContinuar »
within them; men, promoted to the highest seats of justice, some of whom, to my knowledge, were glad, by going to foreign countries, to escape the vengeance of the laws in their own. “They protected by your arms ? They have nobly taken up arms in your defence, have exerted their valor amidst their constant and -laborious industry, for the defence of a country, whose frontiers, while drenched in blood, its interior parts have yielded for your enlargement, the little savings of their frugality, and the fruits of their toils. And believe me, remember, I this day told you so, that the same spirit which actuated that people at first, will continue with them still ; but prudence forbids me to explain myself any further. God knows, I do not, at this time, speak from motives of party heat; what I assert proceeds from the sentiments of my heart. However superior to me in general knowledge and experience, any one here may be, yet I claim to know more of America, having seen, and been more conversant in that country. The people there are as truly loyal, as any subjects the king has ; but a people jealous of their liberties, and who will vindicate them, if they should be violated; but the subject is delicate; I will say no more.” This discourse was pronounced by the colonel without preparation, and with such a tone of, energy, that all the house remained, as it were, petrified with surprise, and all viewed him with attention, without uttering a word. But the pride of the ministers would not permit them to retreat, and the parliament could not hear, with patience, its authority to tax America, called in question. Accordingly, many voted in favor of the bill, because they believed it just and expedient; others, because the ministers knew how to make it appear such ; others, finally, and perhaps the greater number, from jealousy of their contested authority. Thus, when the house divided on the 7th of February, 1765, the nays were not found to exceed fifty, and the yeas were two hundred and fifty. The bill was, therefore, passed, and was approved with great alacrity in the house of lords, on the 8th of March sollowing, and sanctioned by the king the 22d of the same month. Such was this famous scheme, invented by the most subtle, by the most sapient heads in England; whether the spirit of sophistry in which it originated, or the moment selected for its promulgation, be the most deserving of admiration, is left for others to pronounce. Certain it is, that it gave occasion in America to those intestine commotions, that violent fermentation, which, after kindling a civil war, involving all Europe in its flames, terminated in the total disjunction from the British empire of one of its fairest possessions. If in this great revolution, the arms of England suffered no diminution of splendor and glory, owing to the valor and gallantry dis
played by her soldiers throughout the war, it cannot be disguised that VOL. I. 7
her power and influence were essentially impaired among all nations of the world. The very night the act was passed, doctor Franklin, who was then in London, wrote to Charles Thomson, afterwards secretary of Congress, “The sun of liberty is set; the Americans must light the lamps of industry and economy.” To which Mr. Thomson answered; “Be assured we shall light torches of quite another sort.’ Thus predicting the convulsions that were about to follow.
END OF Book FIRST.
NOTES TO BOOK I.
NOTE 1. –PAGE 22.
*Excluding the people of the colonies from all share in the choice of the grand council, would probably give extreme dissatisfaction, as well as the taxing them by act of parliament, where they have no representation. “In matters of general concern to the people, and especially when burthens are to be laid upon them, it is of use to corsider, as well what they will be apt to think and say, as what they ought to think; I shall, therefore, as your excellency requires it of me, briefly mention what of either kind occurs to me on this occasion. ‘First, they will say, and perhaps with justice, that the body of the people in the colonies are as loyal, and as firmly attached to the present constitution, and reigning family, as any subjects in the king's dominions. ‘That there is no reason to doubt the readiness and willingness of the representatives they may choose, to grant, from time to time, such supplies for the defence of the country, as shall be judged necessary, so far as their abilities allow. ‘That the people in the colonies, who are to feel the immediate mischiefs of invasion and conquest by an enemy, in the loss of their estates, lives, and liberties, are likely to be better judges of the quantity of forces necessary to be raised and maintained, forts to be built and supported, and of their own abilities to bear the expense, than the parliament of England, at so great a distance. ‘That governors often come to the colonies merely to make fortunes with which they intend to return to Britain; are not always men of the best abilities or integrity; have, many of them, no estates here, nor any natural connexions with us, that should make them heartily concerned for our welfare; and might, possibly, be fond of raising and keeping up more forces than necessary, from the profits accruing to themselves, and to make provision for their friends and dependants. ‘That the counsellors, in most of the colonies, being appointed by the crown, on the recommendation of governors, are often persons of small estates, frequently dependent on the governors for offices, and therefore too much under influence ‘That there is, therefore, great reason to be jealous of a power in such governors and councils, to raise such sums as they shall judge necessary, by drafts on the lords of the treasury, to be afterwards laid on the colonies by act of parliament, and paid by the people here; since they might abuse it, by projecting useless expeditions, harassing the people, and taking them from their labor to execute such projects, merely to create offices and employments, and gratify their dependants, and divide profits. ‘That the parliament of England is at a great distance, subject to be misinformed and misled by such governors and councils, whose united interests might, probably, secure them against the cffect of any complaint from hence. ‘That it is supposed an undoubted right of Englishmen, not to be taxed, but by their own consent, given through their representatives; that the colonies have no representatives in parliament. ‘That to propose taxing them by parliament, and refuse them the liberty of choosing a representative council, to meet in the colonies, and consider and judge of the necessity of any general tax, and the quantum, shows a suspicion of their loyalty to the crown, or of their regard for their country, or of their common sense and understanding; which they have not deserved.
‘That compelling the colonies to pay money without their consent, would be rather like raising contributions in an enemy's country, than taxing of Englishmen for their own public benefit; that it would be treating them as a conquered people, and not as true British subjects. ‘That a tax laid by the representatives of the colonies might be easily lessened as the occasions should lessen; but being once laid by parliament, under the influence of the representations made by governors, would probably be kept up and continued for the benefit of governors, to the grievous burthen and discontentment of the colonies, and prevention of their growth and increase. ‘That a power in governors, to march the inhabitants from one end of the British and French colonies to the other, being a country of at least one thousand five hundred miles long, without the approbation or the consent of their representatives first obtained, to such expeditions, might be grievous and ruinous to the people, and would put them upon a footing with the subjects of France in Canada, that now groan under such oppression from their governor, who, for two years past, has harassed them with long and destructive marches to Ohio. ‘That if the colonies, in a body, may be well governed by governors and councils appointed by the crown, without representatives, particular colonies may as well, or better, be so governed; a tax may be laid upon them all by act of parliament, for support of government; and their assemblies may be dismissed as an useless part of the constitution. ‘That the powers proposed by the Albany plan of union, to be vested in a grand council representative of the people, even with regard to military matters, are not so great as those which the colonies of Rhode Island and Connecticut are entrusted with by their charters, and have never abused; for by this plan, the president-general is appointed by the crown, and controls all by his negative; but in those governments, the people choose the governor, and yet allow him no negative. ‘That the British colonies bordering on the French, are frontiers of the British empire; and the frontiers of an empire are properly defended at the joint expense of the body of the people in such empire; it would now be thought hard, by act of parliament, to oblige the Cinque Ports, or sea coasts of Britain, to maintain the whole navy, because they are more immediately defended by it, not allowing them, at the same time, a vote in choosing members of parliament; and as the frontiers of America bear the expense of their own defence, it seems hard to allow them no share in voting the money, judging of the necessity of the sum, or advising the measures. ‘That besides the taxes necessary for the defence of the frontiers, the colouies pay yearly great sums to the mother country unnoticed ; for, 1. Taxes paid in Britain by the land-holder, or artificer, must enter into and increase the price of the produce of land and manufactures made of it, and great part of this is paid by consumers in the colonies, who thereby pay a considerable part of the British taxes. * 2. We are restrained in our trade with foreign nations; and where we could be supplied with any manufacture cheaper from them, but must buy the same dearer from Britain, the difference of price is a clear tax to Britain. 3. We are obliged to carry a part of our produce directly to Britain; and when the duties laid upon it lessen its price to the planter, or it sells for less than it would in soreign markets, the difference is a tax paid to Britain. 4. Some manufactures we could make, but are forbidden, and must take them of British merchants; the whole price is a tar paid to Britain. 5. By our greatly increasing demand and consumption of British manufactures, their price is considerably raised of late years; the advantage is clear profit to Britain, and enables its people better to pay great taxes; and much of it being paid by us, is clear tax to Britain. 6. In short, as we are not suffered to regulate our trade, and restrain the importation and consumption of British superfluities, as Britain can the consumption of foreign superfluities, our whole wealth centers finally amongst the merchants and inhabitants of Britain; and if we make them richer, and enable them better to pay their taxes, it is nearly the same as being taxed ourselves, and equally beneficial to the crown. ‘These kind of secondary taxes, however, we do not complain of though we have no share in laying or disposing of them; but to pay immediate heavy taxes, in the laying, appropriation, and disposition of which, we have no part, and which, perhaps, we may know to be as unnecessary as grievous, must seem hard measures to Englishmen, who cannot conceive, that by hazarding their lives and fortunes in subduing and settling new countries, extending the dominion, and increasing the commerce of the mother nation, they have forfeited the native rights of Britons, which they think ought rather to be given to them as due to such merit, if they had been before in a state of slavery.
• These, and such kinds of things as these, I apprehend, will be thought and said by the people, if the proposed alteration of the Albany plan should take place. . Then the administration of the board of governors and council, so appointed, not having, the representative body of the people to approve and unite in its measures, and conciliate the minds of the people to them, will probably become suspected and odious; dangerous animosities and feuds will arise between the governors and govermed, and every thing go into confusion.’
This was the letter of Franklin.
NOTE II.-PAGE 43.
WHEREAs, by an act made in the last session of Parliament, several duties were granted, continued, and appropriated towards defraying the expenses of defending, protecting, and securing the British colonies and plantations in America: and whereas it is first necessary, that provision be made for raising a further revenue within your majesty's dominions in America, towards defraying the said expenses; we, your majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, the Commons of Great Britain, in parliament assembled, have therefore resolved to give and grant unto your majesty the several rites and duties hereinafter mentioned; and do most humbly beseech your majesty that it may be enacted, And be it enacted by the king's most excellent majesty, by and with the advise and consent of the lords spiritual and temporal, and commons, in this present parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, That from and after the first day of November, one thousand seven hundred and sixty-five, there shall be raised, levied, collected, and paid unto his majesty, his heirs, and successors, throughout the colonies and plantations in America, which now are, or hereafter may be, under the dominion of his majesty, his heirs and successors, 1. For every skin of velium or parchment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which shall be engrossed, written, or printed, any declaration, plea, replication, rejoinder, demurrer, or other pleading, or any copy thereof, in any court of law within the British colonies and plantations in America, a stamp duty of three pence. 2. For every skin or piece of vellum or parchment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which shall be engrossed, written or printed, any special bail, and appearance upon such bail in any such court, a stamp duty of two shillings. 3. For every skin or piece of vellum or parchment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which may be engrossed, written or printed, any petition, bill, or answer, claim, plea, replication, rejoinder, demurrer, or other pleading in any court of chancery or equity within the said colonies and plantations, a stamp duty of one shilling and six pence. 4. For every skin or piece of vellum or parchment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which shall be engrossed, written, or printed, any copy of any petition, bill, answer, claim, plea, replication, rejoinder, demurrer, or other pleading, in any such court, a stamp duty of three pence. '5. For every skin or piece of vellum or parchment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which shall be engrossed, written or printed, any monition, libel, answer, allegation, inventory, or renunciation, in ecclesiastical matters, in any court of probate, court of the ordinary, or other court exercising ecclesiastical jurisdiction within the said colonies and plantations, a stamp duty of one shilling. 6. For every skin or piece of vellum or parchment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which shall be engrossed, written or printed, any copy of any will, (other than the probate thereof) monition, libel, answer, allegation, inventory, or renunciation, in ecclesiastical matters, in any such court, a stamp duty of sir pence. 7. For every skin or piece of vellum or parchment, or sheet or piece of paper, on which shall be engrossed, written or printed, any donation, presentation, collation or institution, of or to any benefice, or any writ or instrument for the like purpose, or any ressister, entry, testimonial, or certificate of any degree taken in any university, academy,
cologe, or seminary of learning, within the said colonies and plantations, a stamp duty of two pounds,