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Most of the other colonies adopted some mode, by petition, remonstrance, or address, to make known to the British parliament, the like sentiments in opposition to the new scheme. The policy already mentioned, of forbearing to use, and declining to import, British merchandize, which was very generally adopted at this period, strengthened, materially, the party in Great Britain, already disposed, as well from their general whig principles, as from their opposition to the existing cabinet, to favor the cause of America. The manufacturing and commercial classes were seriously affected by the diminution of the American demand for their goods; and the effect was to create an interest adverse to perseverance in the ministerial plan. Attention was attracted to the constitutional question with greater earnestness; and in the session of parliament succeeding that in which these irritating measures had passed without opposition and with little notice, a party was found, small in numbers, indeed, but remarkable for splendor of talent and eloquence, to resist them, first, as unjust, ungrate ful, inexpedient, and dangerous; and finally, as tyrannical usurpations.
The session of parliament commenced, after an unusually long recess, on the 10th of January. During the winter the colonial agents had made strenuous efforts to dissuade Mr. Grenville from proceeding. A deputation, selected by them, waited upon him to remonstrate personally with him, and to assure him of the willingness of America to contribute to the debt and expenses of the empire, to the extent of their means, as they had always done upon royal requisitions, they reserving the constitutional privilege of granting the supplies, by their own votes, as in the case of the Commons of Great Britain. They urged the strong repugnance in America to the proposed tax, and desired a suspension of the design. These representations availed nothing with the minister. He declined receiving any proposal from the Colonies, short of an admission of the parliamentary right, and a substitute for the tax proposed, more agreeable to themselves, which none of them were authorized to make. He offered them the favor of being heard by counsel, on the constitutional question, at the bar of the House of Commons, which they unanimously declined; because, they said, the colonies were not defendants, amenable to that jurisdiction--they protested against it. Thę stamp act
accordingly took its course, and was formally introduced into the Commons by a report from the committee of ways and means, in a series of resolutions, fifty-five in number, which were agreed to by the House, on the 7th of February. Petitions against it were presented from the colonies of Virginia, South Carolina, and Connecticut. They were refused under a standing rule of the House, that no petition can be received against
a money bill. The New York petition was expressed in such ! strong language, that no member of the House could be
found to offer it. On the rejection of those from the three colonies named the other petitions were withdrawn. The bill accordingly passed by a large majority, about 250 to 50; was carried through the House of Lords, without difficulty, on the 8th of March, and received the king's sanction on the 22d.
The discussions in the Commons, though the numbers were disproportioned, was very animated. The ministerial speakers were Mr. Grenville, and Charles Townsend, a brilliant orator, just then in the prime of his faculties, and with a growing reputation. Mr. Pitt was absent, confined to his bed by sickness. The friends of the colonies were Col. Barrè, Alderman Beckford, Mr. Jackson, and Sir William Meredith. Col. Barrè and Alderman Beckford were the only speakers who denied the right of Great Britain to tax the colonies for revenue. The others relied on the danger, injustice, and inexpediency.
In the course of the debate, Mr. Townsend ended a long speech on the side of the minister, in the following words: "And now will these Americans, children planted by our care, nourished by our indulgence, till they are grown to a degree of strength and opulence, and protected by our arms, will they grudge to contribute their mite to relieve us from the heavy weight of that burden which we lie under?"
Col. Barrè, a distinguished officer and member of parlia. ment, fired with a generous indignation, caught up these words, and on the instant uttered that eloquent retort, which, with his other efforts in behalf of American liberty, has made his name dear to every American heart.
They planted by your care !—No, your oppression planted them in America. They fled from a tyranny to a then uncultivated and inhospitable country, where they exposed themselves to almost all the hardships to which human nature is liable; and among others to the cruelty of a savage foe the most subtle, and I will take upon me to say, the most
formidable of any people upon the face of the earth; and yet, actuated by principles of true English liberty, they met all hardships with pleasure, compared with those they suffered in their own country, from the hands of those that should have been their friends.
They nourished up by your indulgence!—They grew up by - your neglect of them. As soon as you began to care about
them, that care was exercised in sending persons to rule them in one department and in another, who were, perhaps,
the deputies of deputies to some members of this House, sent - to spy out their liberties, to misrepresent their actions, and
to prey upon them.-Men whose behaviour on many occasions, has caused the blood of these sons of liberty to recoil within them.-Men who, promoted to the highest seats of justice, some, who, to my knowledge, were glad, by going to a foreign country, to escape being brought to the bar of a court of justice in their own.
They protected by your arms !—They have nobly taken up arms in your defence, have exerted a valour, amidst their constant and laborious industry, for the defence of a country whose frontier was drenched in blood, while its interior parts vielded all its little savings to your emolument. And believe ine, remember I this day told you so, that same spirit of freedom which actuated that people at first will accompany them still: but prudence forbids me to explain myself further. God knows, I do not at this time speak from any motives of party heat; what I deliver are the genuine sentiments of my heart. However superior to me in general knowledge and experience the respectable body of this House may be, yet I claim to know more of America than most of you, having seen and been conversant in that country. The people, I believe, are as truly loyal as any subjects the king has, but a people jealous of their liberties, and who will vindicate them, if ever they should be violated; but the subject is too delicate-I will say no more.” ringi
This gallant and vehement address produced a deepsilence, and was left unanswered. It produced no change in the course of ministers, though the sensation it excited at the time was great; and it was long after remembered as a prophetic warning of the consequences of ministerial rashness.
The preamble of this celebrated açt purports to be a con. tinuation of the molasses iact,, and recites that whereas, in the previous session of parliament, 3" duties had been der
manded, continued, and appropriated towards defraying the expenses of defending, protecting, and securing the British colonies and plantations in America,”and whereas, it is necessary “to raise a further revenue in America,” therefore the “ Commons of Great Britain," &c. do "give and grant" the enumerated stamp duties. The phraseology deserves notice, as containing in its very terms, an argument against the equity of the act. It is the Commons of Great Britain giving away the property of the Commons of America. This was strongly urged in an argument by Mr. Pitt, an extract from which, though it was not delivered until the next year, is introduced here, as a forcible comment on the title of this extraordinary act.
“This House represents the Commons of Great Britain. When in this House we give and grant, therefore, we give and grant what is our own, but can we give and grant the property of the Commons of America? It is an absurdity in terms. There is an idea in some, that the Colonies are virtually represented in this House. I would fain know by whom? The idea of virtual representation is the most contemptible that ever entered into the head of man: it does not deserve a serious refutation. The Commons in America, represented in their several Assemblies, have invariably exercised this constitutional right of giving and granting their own money; they would have been slaves if they had not enjoyed it. At the same time the kingdom has ever professed the power of legislative and commercial control. The Colonies acknowledge your authority in all things, with the sole exception that you shall not take their money out of their pockets without their consent. Here would I draw the line-quam ultra citraque nequit consistere rectum.".
With the stamp act, and during the same session, the ministry, as if anticipating the necessity of supporting their pretensions to supremacy by force, passed another act for quartering troops in America, and requiring the inhabitants to furnish them with quarters and supplies. As a proof of the insolence of tyranny with which some of its provisions were originally conceived, it may be stated, that in the draught of the bill, a clause was inserted for quartering them in private houses. This was rejected in the course of its passage, but the fact remains as a powerful commentary upon the extremes of violence to which the British ministers were prepared to rush at once, before any proceedings were held
in America, to secure the subjection of the colonists to their esactions.
The night after the passage of the stamp act, Franklin wrote from London to his friend Charles Thompson, afterwards the Secretary of Congress-"The Sun of Liberty is set: the Americans must light up the lamps of industry and economy." The heroism of the revolution spoke in Mr. Thompson's pithy answer"Be assured we shall light up torches of quite another sort.”
The intelligence of the final passage of these acts, produced, as was anticipated, a great sensation throughout America. The gloomy apprehensions, which had prevailed so widely under the recent policy of Great Britain, in regard to the Colonies, was deepened into feelings approaching to desperation. They saw in it a vital attack upon their liberty and property, evidently in accordance with a system of hostility to the rights which they cherished most dearly, by a powerful but unnatural parent, against whom they knew no modes of defence, and entertained no hopes, even where they ventured upon such contemplations for the future, of being able to make any efficient resistance. Resentment, alarm, indignation and doubt, were at first universal. That it was impossible to submit quietly to such tyrannical pretensions that, thenceforth, there was no security for any of their chartered privileges, or natural rights, was obvious to every capacity. The discussions of the preceding twelve months, in which the doctrine of British supremacy had been sharply discussed, in every form of argument, throughout the Colonies, had prepared the whole continent to understand the nature of the principles involved in it, and see all their tendencies. Few, however, were prepared for any precise line of conduct; few thought of any concerted movement of resistance; and force was, as yet, thought of by none.
On this occasion, as on that of the stamp resolutions, the course of the ministry in postponing the operation of their measures, favored the cause of the colonists. More than twelve months notice of the intention to raise an American revenue, had given them time to concentrate public opinion against the principle; and the deferring of the measure itself after its enactment, until the ensuing November, afforded them a like opportunity to recover from the first shock of the infliction; to unite public sentiment; and take measures in common for concerted action. 37930. 16.: "funt: a ben