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CH. X.]

THE POWER OF PARLIAMENT TO LEVY TAXES.

257

but just what it was, or how far it ex- opinion is, that, if by favoring the trade tended, was not quite so clear. Al of the colonies with foreign nations, though the colonists had unwillingly they gain £500,000, at the end of two yielded to the exercise of power by years, fully one half of it will have come Parliament in matters of trade, still into the royal exchequer, by the inthey had yielded submission, and had creased demand for English manufacsuffered legislation to extend to a num- tures. This is a mode of taxing them ber of other matters beside trade. Par- more agreeably to their own constitution liament had regulated colonial trade for and laws, as well as our own.” But there the exclusive benefit of the mother was not the same political sagacity in country for a long time, and had ap- some of Walpole's successors; and they pointed custom-house officers, and insti- ventured to try what he had declined; tuted admiralty courts in the colonies: they determined to tax the colonies.* it is true, these were systematically George Grenville enjoys the reputaevaded and resisted; nevertheless, what tion of having given origin to the had been done and submitted to, had scheme which resulted in the wellgiven Parliament a sort of legal vested known Stamp Act. He was in some right in all points of the kind. But, let it be noted, Parliament had never

* “ The disposition to tax the Americans, unless

they would tax themselves equal to the wishes of the exercised the power of levying taxes

ministry, was undoubtedly strengthened by the refor revenue. The minor matters of

ports of their gaiety and luxury which reached the regulating the postage on letters, and mother country ; it was also said, that the planters certain duties on“ enumerated articles," lived like princes, while the inhabitants of Britain

“ . The offiwere mere trifles; and however the

cers lately returned, represented them as rich, question might stand as to the power wealthy, and even overgrown in fortune. Their of Parliament to levy taxes upon the opinion might arise from observations made in the

American cities and towns during the war, while colonists, it was certain that it had large sums were spent in the country, for the support never yet been attempted to be exer

American productions were

then in great demand, and trade flourished. cised. When the English ministry ven

people, naturally generous and hospitable, having a tured to make the trial, the contest, al- number of strangers among them, indulged themmost at once, involved in itself the

very essentials of life and liberty.

war was terminated, and they had no further appre

hension of danger, the power of the late enemy in the That astute minister, Sir Robert country being totally broken, -Canada, and the back Walpole, when a suggestion was made lands to the very banks of the Mississippi, with the to him to levy a direct tax upon the Floridas, being ceded to Great Britain,-it was

thought they could not well make too much of those colonies, as we have noted in a former who had so contributed to their security. Partly to chapter, had declined making so dan- do honor to them, and partly, it is to be feared, to gerous an experiment: "I shall leave gratify their own pride, they added to their show of

plate, by borrowing of neighbors, and made a great this operation to some one of my suc- parade of riches in their several entertainments. cessors, who may possess more courage plenty and variety of provision and liquors enabled

them to furnish out an elegant table, at a comparathan I, and have less regard for the

tively trifling expense.”—Gordon's History of the commercial interests of England. My ) American Revolution,” vol. i., p. 157.

of fleets and armies.

The

selves in many uncommon expenses.

When the

The

VOL. I.--35

1764.

considerable doubt as to the propriety liament. It was foreseen that the law of taxing the colonies without allowing would be disregarded, if extraordinary them representatives; yet, as Mr. Ban- measures were not adopted to enforce croft says," he loved power and the it, and provision made that penalties favor of Parliament, and contemplating for violating it, and all other revenue the immense debt of England with a laws, might be recovered in the adsort of terror, he was ready to insist miralty courts. The judges of these upon the colonies helping to bear the courts were dependent solely on the burden; and so, forgetting the wise king, and decided the causes brought caution of Walpole, he brought forward before them without the intervention in Parliament, a proposition to impose of a jury. upon the colonists the payment of a The colonial agents in London sent stamp tax on all bills, bonds, notes, copies of the resolutions to their releases, policies of insurance, legal papers, spective colonies.* As soon as the inof various kinds, etc. It was at first telligence of these proceedings reached laid before Parliament more for infor- America, they were considered as the mation and notice, than with any pur commencement of a system of opprespose of pressing its passage.

sion, which, if not vigorously resisted, The next year, Grenville, now prime would eventually deprive them of the minister, proposed several resolutions liberty of British subjects. The

tending to develop his plan for General Court of Massachu

taxing America,t such as ad- setts, at their session in June, took this ditional duties on imports into the col law into consideration. The House of onies from foreign countries, on sugar, Representatives resolved, “That the indigo, coffee, etc., it being openly sole right of giving and granting the avowed that the object had in view money of the people of that province was, to “raise a revenue for defraying was vested in themselves, and that the the expenses of defending, protecting, imposition of taxes and duties by the and securing his majesty's dominions in Parliament of Great Britain, upon a America? These resolutions passed people who are not represented in Parthe House without much debate or liament, is absolutely irreconcilable notice, it being resolved, without a with their rights."

with their rights.” “If our trade may division, “that Parliament had a right be taxed,” was their argument, in the to tax the colonies.” Among the reso- words of that eminent patriot, Samuel lutions proposed by Grenville, was one Adams, “ why not our lands, why not imposing “certain stamp duties on the the produce of our lands, and every colonies :" but he declared to the House, thing we possess or use? This, we conhis desire that it should not be acted ceive, annihilates our charter-rights to upon until the next session of Par- govern and tax ourselves. It strikes

at our British privileges, which, as we * See Mr. Bancroft's “ History of the United States," vol. V., p. 156.

* See Apppendix I., at the end of the present chapt Ibid. p. 186

ter.

CH. X.

AMERICAN VIEWS AS TO THE STAMP TAX.

259

have never forfeited, we hold in com- Rhode Island. In the Virginia House mon with our fellow subjects who are of Burgesses, a petition to the king, a natives of Britain. If taxes are laid memorial to the House of Lords, and a upon us without our having a legal remonstrance to the Commons, were representation where they are laid, we drawn up by a Committee consisting of are reduced from the character of free Richard Henry Lee and other eminent subjects to the state of tributary

state of tributary leaders of the aristocracy. The tone slaves." The House also dispatched adopted was moderate, and the hardan energetic letter to Mr. Mauduit, the ship of pressing a measure like the one agent in England, declaring, “if we proposed, was dwelt upon. are not represented, we are slaves!" Grenville had a reason for delay, in and, together with the letter, sent a not urging the stamp tax forward. His copy of the recently issued pamphlet notion was, that the colonies, finding of Otis, “ The Rights of the British that the revenue must be paid in some Colonies Asserted.” The ground taken way by them, and particularly disliking by Otis was bold, and clearly set forth the form in which it was proposed by that this whole matter was one of prin- stamp duties, would suggest some other ciple with the colonists; yet there was mode, and then he would take them at no hint of forcible resistance to the their word, and the revenue would be claims of Parliament. Indeed, lawyer- raised without further trouble. " If like, Otis maintained the supremacy of they think any other mode of taxation Parliament and its acts, denouncing more convenient to them,” were his resistance as high treason. The col- plausible words, “and make any proponists were not yet ready to array osition of equal efficacy with the stamp themselves in arms against the doings duty, I will give it all due consideraof Parliament; but there was no dispo- tion.” But to do this thing, he was sition, on the other hand, to any thing resolved: "if you object to the Amerilike servile submission to injustice. cans being taxed by Parliament, save Tracts similar to that of Otis were put yourself the trouble of the discussion, forth in Rhode Island,“ by authority;" for I am determined on the measure.

.” in Maryland, by Dulany, the secretary Many in England, says M. Botta, and of the province; and in Virginia, by possibly the agents of the colonies Bland, a leading member of the House themselves, attributed this conduct of of Burgesses.

the minister to moderation; but beToward the close of the year, pe- yond the Atlantic it found a quite diftitions to Parliament were drawn up in ferent reception, all with one voice exMassachusetts and Connecticut, which claiming that this was an interested

were somewhat moderated in charity. For they thought, that how

tone, owing, in the case of Mas- ever civil his offers, the minister would sachusetts, to the influence of Hutchin- nevertheless exact, to a penny, the en

New York agreed to a petition tire sum he desired, which in substance much more strongly worded, as did also I was saying, that willingly or otherwise,

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son.

1765.

they must submit to his good pleasure; these complaints were of any avail. and, consequently, his complaisance was The course to be pursued was decided but that of an accomplished robber. It upon, and the ministry went forward was known that he would not be satis- with their plan. The memorials, the fied with less than £300,000 sterling a remonstrances, the petitions, the resoluyear, the sum considered necessary for tions of the Americans, were rejected, the support of the army it was resolved and the bill for imposing a stamp duty to maintain in the colonies for their de- was submitted to Parliament, at its sesfence. No one of the agents was au- sion, in 1765. thorized to comply. Two only alleged It is not difficult to imagine the kind they were commissioned to declare that of discussion which then took place. their provinces were ready to bear their Few of the members of the House proportion of the duty upon stamps, knew or cared aught for America, save when it should be established accord- as it seemed to open a new ing to ancient usages. The minister, source whence revenue could therefore, having heard no proposal be drawn; and were it not a well-esthat appeared to him acceptable, re- tablished fact, it would seem incredible, solved to pursue the design of a stamp that there could have been so remarktax. Meanwhile, the fermentation in able a state of ignorance and blindness America was violent, not only among as to the actual position and importprivate citizens, but also among the ance of the colonies, and their power members of public and corporate of asserting and defending their rights. bodies; and all were of one mind, in On the one side, it was contended that asserting that the Parliament had no taxation and representation are insepright to tax the colonies. In all places, arable, and that the imposition of this political circles and clubs were formed; tax would be as impolitic as it was unthe subject of all conversations was the just, for the Americans would not subfatal tax. Every day, every hour, di- mit to it. On the part of the ministry, minished the respect and affection of it was claimed that the colonies were the Americans towards the British na- in fact virtually as much represented tion, and increased their disposition to by the actual members, as were the resist. Supported, too, as they knew, great proportion of the English, who by some of the purest patriots of the themselves enjoyed no vote; that the mother country, they earnestly de- right of taxing the colonists was declaimed against the injustice of any rived from the responsibility and exsuch proceeding, as laying a tax upon pense of defending them; that the them for the purpose of supporting a colonists must either be entirely destanding army in America. The mur- pendent upon England, or entirely sepmurs which had arisen from every quar- arated from her. The inconsistency ter against this proposal were alarming, of allowing a duty to be placed upon and ought to have proved a note of their exports, while they refused to subwarning to the ministry. But none of mit to one upon stamps, was artfully

CH. X.]

BARRÉ’S ELOQUENT WORDS.

261

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pointed out. Finally, after ostentatious- gence! They grew by your neglect of ly enumerating the advantages derived them. As soon as you began to care by America from her connection with for them, that care was exercised in Great Britain, and leaving out of sight sending persons to rule them in one the counterbalancing restraints upon department and another, who were, her commerce, which had all along perhaps, the deputies of deputies, to been so unwillingly acquiesced in, Mr. some members of this House, sent to Charles Townshend, one of the minis- spy out their liberties, to misrepresent ters, propounded this inquiry :-“And their actions, and to prey upon themnow, will these Americans, children men whose behavior, on many occaplanted by our care, nourished up by sions, has caused the blood of those our indulgence, till they are grown to sons of liberty to recoil within thema degree of strength and opulence, men promoted to the highest seats of and protected by our arms--will they justice; some who, to my knowledge, grudge to contribute their mite to re- were glad, by going to a foreign counlieve us from the heavy weight of that try, to escape being brought to the bar burden which we lie under ?"

of a court of justice in their own. Instantly Colonel Isaac Barré arose They protected by your arms ! to reply. He had before spoken, and Those sons of liberty have nobly taken was one of the very few who knew up arms in your defence, have exerted how to appreciate the Americans. His their valor amidst their constant and words were listened to with the atten- laborious industry for the defence of a tion they deserved. Taking up Towns-country whose frontier was drenched in hend's interrogation, he exclaimed: blood, while its interior parts yielded

They planted by your care! No; all its little savings to your emolument. your oppressions planted them in Amer- And believe me-remember, I this day ica. They fled from your tyranny, to told you so,—that same spirit of freea then uncultivated and inhospitable dom which actuated that people at country, where they exposed them- first, will accompany them still ;—but selves to all the hardships to which prudence forbids me to explain myself human nature is liable, and, among further. God knows, I do not at this others, to the cruelties of a savage foe, time speak from any motives of party the most subtle, and I will take upon heat; what I deliver are the genuine me to say, the most formidable of any sentiments of my heart. However supeople upon the face of God's earth; | perior to me, in general knowledge and yet, actuated by principles of true experience, the respectable body of this English liberty, they met all hardships House may be, yet I claim to know with pleasure, compared with those more of America than most of

you, they suffered in their own country, having seen and been conversant with from the hands of those who should that country. The people, I believe, have been their friends.

are as truly loyal as any subjects the · They nourished up by your indul king has, but a people jealous of their

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