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but those who were actually therein represented;" and then show, that it would be for the interest of Great Britain, as well as for that of the colonies, to repeal the acts complained of.
The congress recommended to the colonies to send with their petitions special agents, who should unite their endeavors to obtain a redress of grievances. One of these was Dr. Franklin, from Pennsylvania. The petitions were to be presented immediately to the king, and to parliament when they should again be convened.
Meetings of the people were held in every part of the country, to express their opposition to the stamp act; and the determination was declared, that the act should never be carried into effect. Newspapers abounded with denunciations of the act; and essays from some of the ablest pens were distributed in pamphlets throughout the country. The merchants of New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, entered into agreements to order no goods from Great Britain ; and associations were formed in all parts of the country against the use of British manufactures, and for the encouragement of domestic fabrics. To avoid the necessity of using stamps, proceedings in the courts of justice were suspended, and the people were advised to settle their disputes by arbitration. An association was also formed, styled “the sons of liberty," who bound themselves to go to any part of the country, to resist by force any attempt to carry the stamp act into operation. So violent was the opposition to this measure, that, on the first day of November, when the act was to have gone into effect, neither stamps no officers were to be found !
In July of this year, (1765,) a change took place in the British cabinet. The new administration was not disposed to prosecute the plan for taxing the colonies without their consent. In January, 1766, parliament assembled, and the papers of the American congress were laid before that body. A bill for the repeal of the stauf act was introduced in February; and after an animated and able debate, in which Mr. Pitt and Lord Grenville were the leading speakers; the former advocating the repeal, the latter opposing it; the bill passed both houses by large majorities, and, on the 18th of March, received the assent of the king. Parliament, however, lest the act of repeal should be construed into a relinquishment of the right of taxation, passed a declaratory resolution, asserting the power and right of the king and parliament “ to make laws of sufficient force and validity to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever." This resolution was followed by four others, one of which declared, that the tumults and insurrections which had been raised and carried on in gevc. ral of the colonies, had been encouraged by votes and resolutions passed in the assemblies of the said colonies; and another, that the king should be requested to instruct the governors of these colonies “to require the
assemblies to make proper recompense to those who have suffered in their persons or properties, in consequence of such tumults and insurrections."
The general joy caused by the repeal of the stamp act, was in some measure restrained by the claim of unlimited power over the colonies asserted in the first resolutiou. It was apprehended by some, that the exercise of the power of taxation would be repeated on some future occasion. Others, however, supposed the declaration to have been made simply from motives of national pride; parliament having deemed it derogatory to British honor to concede the principle contended for by the colonies; and that the declaration would never be reduced to practice. The hopes of the latter, however, were soon disappointed. In 1767, an act was passed, imposing duties upon glass, paper, paints, and tea imported into the colonies from Great Britain; the object of which, as declared in the preamble, was to raise a revenue in America."
The tardy compliance, by some of the colonies, with the demand to make compensation to the sufferers in the stamp act riots, and the offensive manner in which the requisition was complied with; and the refusal of others to furnish certain articles not usually furnished, but now required, for the soldiers quartered in the colonies, excited the displeasure of the British government, and were probably among the causes which induced the passage of this act. To insure the collection of the duties, authority was given the king to appoint commissioners who were to reside in the colonies, and to be intrusted with the execution of the laws relating to trade. The duties imposed by this act were deemed taxes as really as were the stamp duties; and the act imposing them was scarcely less odious than its predecessor, and met with similar opposition. Massachusetts, being, from her extensive commerce, most deeply affected by restrictions upon the trade of the colonies, took the lead in opposition to this measure. Her general assembly met in January, 1768. A petition to the king was prepared; and letters were addressed to some of the prominent members of parliament, in which they again claim exemption from taxation without representation, as the right of Englishmen, under the British constitution. They also set forth the injustice of this and other acts of parliament. They say: "The colonies are prohibited from importing commodities the growth or manufacture of Europe, cxcept from Great Britain, with the exception of a few articles;" which they consider an advantage to Great Britain of twenty per cent. in the price of her productions, and virtually a tax of equal amount to the colonies. They say farther: "The same reasoning will hold good to the many enumerated articles of their produce which the colonies are restrained, by acts of parliament, from sending to foreign ports. By this restraint, the market is glutted, and consequently the produce sold is cheaper; which is an advantage to
Great Britain, and an equal loss or tax upon the colonies." They also addressed a circular letter to the assemblies of the respective colonies. The other colonies joined, not only in addressing the king, but in declaring the duties unconstitutional.
Alarmed at this movement set on foot by Massachusetts, the king, by his secretary of state, addressed a circular letter to the several governors, to be by them laid before the assemblies of their respective colonies, pro'nouncing the action of Massachusetts an unjustifiable attempt to revive those distractions which have operated so fatally to the prejudice of the colonies and the mother country," and requesting them not to take part with Massachusetts by approving such proceedings. The governor of Massachusetts was directed" to require of the house of representatives in his majesty's name, to rescind the resolution which gave birth to the circular letter of the speaker." The house, by a vote of 92 to 17, refused to rescind or to disapprove the proceedings of the preceding assembly, and addressed a letter to the British secretary, Lord Hillsborough, in justification of their course. A letter was also sent to the governor, stating the reasons for refusing to rescind the resolution. The governor, on receiving this letter, dissolved the assembly. He had been previously instructed by the king to do so, in case of their refusal to rescind, and to transmit their proceedings to the king, that measures might be taken to prevent for the future, "conduct of so extraordinary and unconstitutional a nature.” The “measures" intended were the arresting of persons concerned in resisting or preventing the execution of the laws, and the transporting of them to England to be tried for treason.
The assembly of Virginia passed resolutions asserting the exclusive right to impose taxes upon the inhabitants of that colony, and the right to petition for a redress of grievances, and to obtain a concurrence of other colonies in such petitions, and expressing their disapproval of the address of parliament to the king requesting him to direct the governor of Massachusetts to aid in causing persons to be prosecuted in England for offenses alleged to have been committed in that colony. The assembly also agreed on an address to the king, declaring their attachment to
crown, and their conviction that the complaints of the colonists were not without just cause. The governor, on being informed of these proceedings, forthwith dissolved the assembly. Whereupon, the members met at a private house, and formed a non-importing association, in which the people of the province generally afterwards united.
In the same month, (May, 1769,) the general court of Massachusetts was convened for the first time since its dissolution in July, 1768. The state house being surrounded by an armed guard, the house requested the governor to order the removal of the troops from the town during
the session of the assembly, declaring it to be inconsistent with their dignity, as well as freedom, to deliberate in the midst of an armed force, ' with cannon pointed at the door of the state house. The governor refused to comply with the request, alleging that he had no authority over the troops
The general court had been convened in order to procure a grant of money for purposes of government; but they refused to enter upon the business for which they had been called together, confining themselves chiefly to the consideration of their grievances. In the hope that, if removed from the influences that surrounded them in the metropolis, they would attend to their proper legislative duties, the governor adjourned them to Cambridge. But they resumed the consideration of their rights and grievances, and passed a long series of resolutions, one of which related to the quartering of troops among them to enforce the laws, and declared, " that the establishment of a standing army in the colony, in time of peace, without consent of the general assembly, is an invasion of the natural rights of the people, as well as those which they claim as free born Englishmen, confirmed by magna charta, the bill of rights, as settled by the revolution, and by the charter of the province." Another resolution expressed the same sentiment as that of the assembly of Virginia, relative to the transportation of Americans to England for trial. When, toward the close of the session, they were called upon by the governor to provide for paying expenses already incurred for quar tering the troops, and for similar expenses in future, they peremptorily refused.
The spirit exhibited in the legislatures of Virginia and Massachusetts, prevailed in most of the colonies. Similar sentiments were expressed by their assemblies; and in several of them the Virginia resolutions were adopted. Non-importation agreements became general. One object of these associations is supposed to have been to secure the aid of the mer. chants and manufacturers, whose interests would be most affected by nonimportation, in endeavoring to procure a repeal of the obnoxious laws. The merchants of Boston, in August, 1768, agreed not to import from Great Britain, between the first day of January, 1769, the day on which the revenue act was to take effect, and the first of January, 1770, any articles whatever, except a few of the most necessary; and of those last taxed, to import none until the duties were taken off. In New York, Salem, and some other cities and towns, similar agreements were formed; but they did not become general through the colonies, until all hope was lost that petitions and memorials would effect the desired object.
In March, 1770, a bill was introduced in parliament, exempting from duty all the articles embraced in the act of 1768, except tea. The total
repeal of the act might have been construed into an abandonment of the principle in controversy. To prevent such construction, was probably the chief object of retaining the duty on that article. At a meeting of the merchants of Boston, it was resolved, that this partial repeal would not remove the difficulties that attended their trade; that it was intended only to relieve the British manufacturers; and that they would adhere to their non-importation agreement. Similar resolutions were elsewhere adopted. The general observance, however, of the non-importation agreement, did not long continue. Associations, and individuals of the same association, accused each other of violations of the agreement; and each made the acts of others a pretext for his own.
Troops were still kept in Boston, to enforce the acts of trade and rerende,
and to awe the people into submission. This was the cause of frequent quarrels and of some actual collisions. On the 5th of March, 1770, an affray took place between a part of the military and some of the inhabitants, in which the latter were fired upon, and four of them were killed. The town was thrown into commotion. The bells were rung, and the inhabitants assembled in arms, and were with difficulty restrained from rushing upon the soldiers. The next morning, a large meeting assembled in Faneuil Hall, and in the afternoon, at a town meeting legally warned, it was resolved," that nothing could rationally be expected to restore the
peace of the town, and prevent further blood and carnage, but the immediate removal of the troops.” A committee was appointed, with Samuel Adams as chairman, who proceeded to the council chamber, to demand of the lieutenant governor (IIutchinson) their instant removal. After some hesitation, and upon the advice of the council, the troops were removed to the castle, and peace was restored. Captain Preston and eight soldiers were indicted and tried for murder. It appeared upon trial, that the soldiers had been provoked by repeated insults and assaults of the mob; and all were acquitted except two, who were convicted of manslaughter only.
On the 12th of April, the bill to take off the duties on glass, paper, and paints
, was passed; but although the non-importation associations had been generally abandoned, opposition to the importations was still maintained. The perseverance of the colonists in their determination not to import tea from England had caused the accumulation of a large quantity in the warehouses of the East India company, who were impelled to apply to parliament for relief. An act was accordingly passed, (1773) allowing the company a drawback of all the duties they had paid in England on such of their teas as they should export to America. This would enable the company to sell the article cheaper in the colonies than in Great Britain; which, it was hoped, would induce the colonists to