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manufactures were diminished, and their debts, to British merchants accumulated. These things were not submitted to without strong remonstrances and repeated appeals to the interest, no less than the justice, of Great Britain. Resolutions against the use of British manufactures became general, and a feeling of hostility to imported goods grew up rapidly, In the succeeding vear, the amount of English merchandize imported into the single city of Boston, was diminished to the extent of ten thousand pounds sterling. A like decrease took place in other towns and provinces, affording a proof as well of the spirit of repugnance to the measures of the British government, as of the necessities of the Colonies, deprived of their customary business, and exhausted of their means of remittance. The session of 1764 produced a change, called for by the British merchants and manufacturers, by which a part of the traffic between the Colonies and the West Indies, that had been arbitrarily suppressed, was expressly authorized, but under such enormous duties, as made it impossible to be carried on to advantage. At the same time, the payment of the new duties was required to be made in specie, at the British Treasury. To aggravate this injustice, a bill was passed, nearly contemporaneously, suppressing the bills of credit that had formed the currency of the Colonies, and ordering them to be refused in payment for duties after a certain day. Penalties, incurred for breaches of these acts, were made recoverable in the courts of the particular colony, or any other admiralty court in the Colonies, at the option of the informer or prosecutor. By this tyrannical act, defendants might be carried, at the pleasure of the government agents, from one end of the continent to the other, to support their rights, and be deprived, according to the practice in the admiralty, of the benefits of a jury trial. Complaints and discontents of the Colonies against the general course of Great Britain towards them, constantly increased.
At the same time that these commercial regulations, following each other with rapidity in a few months, i were exasperating the Colonies, Mr. Grenville, as first commissioner of the treasury, was revolving in his mind his scheme for raising revenue directly from America, by internal taxation. Looking, at this distance of time, upon his measures, they seem to have been destitute of common prudence and sagacity; or to have been devised in the insolence of power, for the purpose of crushing the Colonies at once. By a
harassing and oppressive exercise of constitutional powers,
nevet denied to the British government, he kept them in a state E of exasperation, and disposed to watch, with eager scrutiny,
every movement of parliament which related to them. The molasses and sugar act, re-enacted in 1764, contained in its preamble the first formal enactment, ever adopted, to raise revenue by taxation from America. That enactment connected the whole series of commercial restrictions and
oppressions with the novel and already contested question of | taxation. All the motives for complaint and resentment
against Britairf were thus united together. A grave consti
tutional argument was added to the subjects of controversy, i and all the elements of opposition, in all parts of the con
tinent, brought,. by the arrogance or unskilfulness of the minister, to bear together against him. To those abstract principles of liberty, which were cherished with such fervency among them, he had contrived, in a few months, to add all the provocations of anger and suffering-of passion and interest to quicken their impatient apprehensions of the new system of taxation he was about to impose upon them. The evils growing out of the treasury restrictions and the sugar act, were soon absorbed in the greater grievances and more dangerous consequences threatened by the stamp act, and the high-toned pretensions to absolute supremacy, set up by these various measures.
The stamp-act project had been avowed some time before the other measures, though it was not carried into effect until some time afterwards. American taxation was an essential part of Mr. Gren ville's financial plans, for the session of parliament, beginning on the 15th of November, 1763. It is plain that he had at first his doubts of the constitutional question, or of the policy of pressing so strong an expedient at once. Instead of imposing these taxes as a regular method of raising revenue, he first gave notice of his intention, then introduced declaratory resolutions upon the expediency, afterwards inserted it in the preamble of a commercial act--the sugar act—and finally, after eighteen months of this hesitating policy, made the enactment, in the celebrated stamp act, in March, 1765, reciting the preamble of the sugar act as authority. This policy'shows, at once, the consciousness of Mr. Grenville, that he was undertaking a task of importance and difficulty, and his determination to persevere. About the
close of the year 1763, he informed the Agents of the Colonies, in London, of his design of raising a revenue in America, and proposed to them to delay bringing forward any specific measure, in order to give the colonial legislatures the opportunity of proposing some plan acceptable to themselves. He ingeniously intimated, as a proof of his friendship to them, that by timely compliance with this hint, they might establish it as a precedent, that they should always be consulted on the subject of taxation. The proposition was artful, and had the alternative been accepted, would have obtained an explicit acknowledgment of the disa puted right. He offered them no choice in the principle, but the right of taxation being assumed, he mentioned his preference for the stamps, leaving it to the Americans to select any other object for taxation, or mode of furnishing the sum required. It was promised, as an additional bait, that the sum raised should be expended in America-an indulgence which but little sagacity was necessary to perceive to be altogether illusory, since there could be no security, the taxing power once admitted, that future sums, raised in the same way, would not be disposed of at the pleasure of those who had the right to receive them; and because there was no limit to the sums that might be expended in America fur British objects, against the will and adverse to the wishes and principles of the Americans. The sum required by Mr. Grenville was one hundred thousand pounds, to be used in part, in the payment of ten thousand troops, to be quartered in America. This feature of the plan, by no means aided in reconciling the Americans to it, the presence of the regular troops having been always a cause of contention ; and the proposal to augment that force so largely in a time of peace, wearing the appearance of a design to over-awe them. History and the testimony of British writers has since given us a further insight into the designs of the ministry of that day, which were, unluckily for them, defeated by the prompt spirit of the colonies. A grand scheme is said to have been in agitation, for re-arranging the boundaries, and re-modeling the governments of the provinces; reducing them to nearly an equal size, and forming entirely new political institutions to establish a standing force-increase the salaries of the governors and principal officers, and create new courts, officers, judges, &c., all to be appointed and paid by the crown, out of the proceeds of American taxation. An
American peerage is believed to have been part of this splendid scheme, well devised for perpetuating the power of a ministry, and enlarging the king's prerogative by the enormous mass of patronage which it offered. The first step was the power to tax, and the second, the raising of the troops, both of which met with resistance in the sturdy principles of America.
When Mr. Grenville's proposal, with these modifications, was made to the agents in London, it did not appear to them in the odious light in which it was received by their constituents at home. Some of them, in the first instance, waited upon the minister to return thanks for what seemed to them an indulgence. They transmitted it to their several legislatures, where it met with universal and indignant rejection ; not one of them acceded to its principle, in any shape. Two offered to raise the proportion in the ancient way, and after the usage of their predecessors. In the mean time, friends of America in London, became active in labouring to avert the danger. Towards the close of the session, in March, 1761, the minister, in pursuance of his plan, as
March, 1764. communicated to the agents, brought forward his budget of supplies for the year. The sugar bill was passed, avowing in the preamble, the expediency of levying taxes in America, for defending, protecting, and securing the British colonies and plantations in America,”—and the fourteenth resolution of the committee of ways and means, recited, that towards defraying the same expenses, it might be proper to charge certain staMP DUTIES in the said colonies and plantations." This was brought in on the 10th of March, and the execution postponed to the next session, with the express view of giving the colonies an opportunity of offering the substitute suggested.
The popular and legislative movements, addresses, and remonstrances, hereinafter described or quoted, will explain sufficiently the constitutional grounds assumed in the colonies, in opposition to this claim of power, and resistance to the acts in which it was afterwards contained. . A few historical items may be acceptable, to show how tenaciously the same rights had been insisted upon by them in the earliest times when they were too weak to resist oppression, and only strong in sagacity and love of liberty.
The right of the British parliament to impose taxes for the regulation of trade, had never been altogether denied, though
the use of the power had frequently produced murmurs and irritation. The line of distinction between the two powers was sometimes so indistinct, as frequently to give. occasions for doubt as to what was the leading object, and to unite apparently in the same enactments, revenue and regulation. Sometimes acts clearly commercial in their purport, were complained of heavily, as levying taxes, and therefore unconstitutional, because the Colonists were not represented in parliament. No act, avowedly for revenue, had been ever passed; and regulations, altogether legitimate, were rejected frequently because they were supposed to imply that right. Massachusetts was the boldest in this controversy, and for a long series of years refused obedience to the navigation acts of 1651 and 1660, which make the commercial code of Great Britain. Her tenacious refusal to conform to these acts, under the special requisition of king Charles II., and her persevering rejection of the king's collector, Randolph, through a series of years from 1677 to the revolution in 1688, form one of the noblest passages in her history. She instructed her agents to insist before the king, that " the acts of navigation were an invasion of the rights and privileges of the subjects of his majesty in that colony, they not being represented in parliament." The collector persisting, he was met with such fierce opposition, that he was recalled, at his own represent. ation, “that he was in danger of being put to death, by virtue of an ancient law, as a subverter of the constitution.” Some years subsequent, when James II. was making his boldest approaches towards unlimited power in Europe and America, and his governor, Andross, was making laws and levying taxes at his pleasure, șupported by the tyrannical example of his master, the inhabitants of several towns in Massachusetts refused to levy rates or raise taxes; and the selectmen of Ipswich, in spite of threatenings of fine and imprisonment, both of which were inflicted upon them for their disobedience, voted that “it is against the privilege of English subjects to have money raised without their own consent in assembly or parliament." This tone never varied, down to the latest period of her colonial condition, in all circumstances and under all administrations. In 1761, about the time of the controversy about the writs of assistance, in Boston, Governor Bernard had undertaken to equip a vessel belonging to the colony, upon his own responsibility, for which he was