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was, that deprived of the taxing power, she would be destitute of all means of equalizing the burdens of all parts of the empire; and that while the United Kingdom was groaning under the weight of taxes and debts, no part of them would fall on the plantations abroad. They would thus enjoy all the benefits and protection of the British government, army, and navy, without contributing to their support, or to any portion of the immense expenditures incurred in wars, carried on jointly for common objects. This complaint opened a dangerous question for British supremacy, because it pointed out the advantages of independence to the Colonies, and provoked a discussion of the merits of the commercial monopoly, enjoyed by Great Britain. The people of the Colonies insisted, that a sufficient equivalent for all these British burdens, was found in the burden of taxation for British benefit, imposed upon them by the navigation acts, and acts relating to trade and manufactures. They contended that their exemption from direct taxation was more than counterbalanced by the immense sums exacted from them indirectly, by the operation of this commercial monopoly. They reasoned, in fine, just as Dr. Franklin, ten years before, foretold that they would, should the attempt ever be made to tax them for revenue.
The passage is to be found in his letter to Governor Shirley, in 1754, discussing the merits of the substitute offered by the ministry to the Albany plan of Union, and itis worth transcribing as part of the history of the question, and as a summary, by this sagacious statesman and wary politician, of the effects of this system upon the Colo nies; He said:
“Besides the taxes necessary for the defence of the frontiers, the Colonies 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 a 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 Great Britain; and when the duty laid upon it leaseng ita
price to the planter, or it sells for less than it would in foreign markets, the difference is a tax paid to Great Britain.
4. Some manufactures we could make, but are forbidden, and must take them of British merchants; the whole price is a tax 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 a 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 Great 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 centres finally among the merchants and inhabitants of Great 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 and disposing of them ; but to pay immoderate 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 a bard measure 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 to be given to them for such merits, if they had been before in a state of slavery.”
“These things," said Franklin, in 1754, "and such kinds of things as these, I apprehend, will be thought and said if the proposed alteration of the Albany Plan takes place.”.
The event verified the sagacity of Franklin. The principles involved in the ministerial substitute, were, indeed, suspended for a while ; but were revived and put into practice in these contemporaneous measures of the Grenville ministry: the stamp act resolutions--the molasses act, and the regulations of trade. All that he had foreseen and his characteristic prudence did not permit him to express fully all he foresaw
" said and done" in the Colonies, in opposition to these measures. They were received with loud indignation, vehement remonstrance, and instant denials of the right of parliament to tax the Colonies without their consent,
1. The news reached America soon after the adjournment of parliament. Instead of yielding to the artful suggestion of the minister, and proposing another mode of apportioning the taxes required, they fearlessly denied the whole claim of power. Boston, where the first intelligence was received,
took the lead. At a town meeting, held in May, May, 1764.
the people, in a set of instructions to their representatives in the colonial legislature, drawn up by Samuel Adams, directed them in energetic language, "to use constantly” their "power and influence to maintain the invaluable rights and privileges of the province, as well those which are derived by the royal charter," as those which, being prior to and independent of it, they hold "essentially as freeborn subjects of Great Britain.” They affirm, in regard to the principle of these acts" It annihilates our chartered right to govern and tax ourselves. It strikes at our British privileges, which, as we have never forfeited them,we hold in common with our fellow subjects, who are natives of Great Britain. If taxes are laid upon us in any shape, without our having a legal representation where they are laid, are we not reduced from the character of free subjects, to the miserable state of tributary slaves ?” They proceeded to recommend communications with the other provinces, that " by the united application of all who are aggrieved, all may happily obtain redress.”
The House of Representatives responded to these movements of the people with a temper of equal promptness and decision. They drew up a strong set of instructions to their agent in London, who had offended them by not opposing these acts,—for which neglect he had assigned as a reason,
that he had not been directed by them, on the subject, and took their silence for assent. They reproved him sharply for the inference, and told him that “ the silence of the province should have been imputed to any cause, even to despair, rather than have been construed into a tacit cession of their rights; or as an acknowledgment of a right in the British parliament to impose taxes and duties on a people not represented in the House of Commons." Their letter concluded with the declaration, “that the power to raise their
own taxes is the great barrier to English liberty,
which, if once broken down, all is lost." They further adopted resolves, that "the sole right of giving and granting the money of the people of this province, is vested
in them or their representatives, "--and that the imposition of duties or taxes by the parliament of Great Britain, upon a people not represented in the House of Commons, is absolutely irreconcilable with their rights." A committee was appointed to sit, during the recess of the House, to watch over the rights of the people.
The Assembly of Connecticut almost contemporaneously E appointed a committee on the same subject, who, in con
nexion with Governor Fitch, drew up a powerful argument in favor of colonial rights.
The House of Burgesses, in Virginia, met in November, and was not less prompt in remonstrance. A special com
mittee was appointed to report addresses to the king, and to ;- both houses of parliament. These papers were drawn up by
Richard Henry Lee, and adopted by the House of Burgesses. While they professed the warmest attachment to the king's government and person, they reproved, in firm language, the new doctrines of taxation, which had been introduced into the administration, and insisted upon their natural and char. tered claim to be protected in their "ancient and inestimable right of being governed by such laws, respecting their internal polity and taxation, as are derived from their own consent, with the approbation of their sovereign or his substitute : a right which, as men, and descendants of Britons, they have ever quietly possessed, since first, by royal permission and encouragement, they left the mother kingdom to extend its commerce and dominion.” This right, they asserted, they had been invested with from the first establishment of a regular government in the colony, and requisitions had been constantly made to them by their sovereigns, on all occasions when the assistance of the colony was thought necessary to preserve the British interest in America; “from whence they must conclude, they cannot now be deprived of a right they have so long enjoyed, and which they have never forfeited.”. In fine, they maintained it to be a fundamental principle of the Bietish constitution, "without which freedom can nowhere exist,” that the people are not subject to any taxes but such as are laid on them by their own consent, or by those who are legally appointed to represent them: property must become too precarious for the genius of a free people, which can be taken from them at the will of others, who cannot know what taxes such people can bear, or the easiest mode of raising them; and who are not under that restraint, which
is the greatest security against a burthensome taxation, when the representatives themselves inust be affected by every tax imposed on the people.”
The petitions and remonstrances of New York were remarkable for their ability and fearlessness. They were éven more bold than those of Massachusetts and Virginia, and preceded the latter in point of time. After reciting the uninterrupted usage of the colony, in raising by its own representatives its own taxes, they insist that “an exemption from the burden of all ungranted and involuntary taxes, is the grand principle of every free state ; without such a right vested in themselves, exclusive of all others, there can be no liberty, no happiness, no security,”—and this, they add, not upon any “privilege," but on a basis more honorable, solid, and stable; "they challenge it and glory in it as their right." In conclusion they declare, they have no desire to derogate from the power of the parliament of Great Britain ; "but they cannot avoid deprecating the loss of such rights as they have hitherto enjoyed: rights established in the first dawn of the constitution; founded upon the most substantial reasons, confirmed by invariable usage, conducive to the best ends; never abused to bad purposes, and with the loss of which, liberty, property, and all the benefits of life, tumble into insecurity and ruin : rights, the deprivation of which will dispirit the people, abate their industry, discourage trade, introduce discord, poverty, and slavery, or, by depopulating the Colonies, turn a vast, fertile, prosperous region into a dreary wilderness, impoverish Great Britain, and shake the power and independence of the most opulent and flourishing empire in the world.”
Committees of Correspondence were also appointed to confer with the other assemblies or committees on the subject of the impending dangers which threaten the Colonies, of being taxed by laws to be passed in Great Britain."
The Assembly of Pennsylvania referred the subject to a committee, who reported instructions to the provincial agent, in England, to join with the other colonies; and maintaining, in their own behalf, that the right of assessing their own taxes, and freedom from impositions, “not granted by the representatives of the people,” were secured to them by the charter from Chales II. They did greater service to their common country by sending Dr. Franklin, in November, as their agent in England, ti cssist in repelling these dangerous innovations.