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way having been an ardent opponent to the whole train o! measures against them, ending with the sugar and stamp acts. The new ministry, however, had a difficult part. They did not command the confidence of Mr. Pitt and the liberal party, at the head of which that statesman stood in the coun. try; and were certain of the exasperated opposition of the high prerogative party, and the friends of the late ministry, to every proposal in favor of the Americans. On one side, they were met with intelligence of alarming disturbances and disaffection in America, bordering upon rebellion, and goaded into a vindication of the laws of the country-and, on the other, were assailed with loud complaints by the manufacturing and trading classes of England, of the ruin which 'threatened them from a perseverance in this policy. By the resolute refusal of the American merchants to take any more British merchandize, the largest market for it was suddenly lost; manufactures were at a stand; the chief sources of commerce were cut off"; the laboring population were thrown, to a great extent, out of employment; the price of provisions was raised, and the currency deranged by the failure of the customary remittances from the colonies. In this posture of affairs, the ministry managed adroitly, until the ensuing session of parliament-sending soothing let. ters to the principal men in the colonies-and, without pledging themselves to any question of principle, undertaking, in general terms, to redress their grievances. Parliament met in December; and, early in the session, American affairs were brought before them for discussion and decision. The American papers, relating to the origin, progress, and
ice | tendency, of the disturbances in the colonies,
100. were laid before the House of Commons, on the 14th of January; and the 28th assigned for taking them into consideration. During the progress of the inquiry, Dr. Franklin was examined at the bar of the house, and his answers produced a great impression. To the question, “ Do you think the Americans would submit to the stamp duty, if it was moderated ?” he answered, " Never, unless compelled by force of arms." When asked, what was the temper of America towards Great Britain, before the year 1763 ? he replied, “The best in the world. They submitted willingly to the government of the crown; and paid in their courts obedience to the acts of parliament. Numerous as the peo ple are in the several old provinces, they cost you nothing
in forts, citadels, garrisons, and armies, to keep them in subjection. They were governed by this country, at the expense only of a little pen, ink, and paper, they were led by a thread. They had not only a respect, but an affection for Great Britain-for its laws, its customs and manners, and even for its fondness for its fashions, which greatly increased the commerce.” It was asked of him, What is their temper now ?-to which he answered frankly, “Very much altered." He gave it as his judgment of the opinion of the Americans, on the nature of the acts in question, that "every assembly on the continent, and every member in every assembly, concurred in denying the right.”
The policy of the ministry was soon after settled. They resolved to pursue a middle course to repeal the stamp act and at the same time assert the power;-to give up the tax on the ground of inexpediency and difficulty, but declare the absolute right of parliament to bind the colonies. This policy was introduced in the form of resolutions; the declaratory resolutions being first brought in, and the resolution to repeal following a few days after. Parties shifted on the debate. Mr. Grenville, and those who acted with him, supported the declaration, and resisted the repeal; and Pitt, Lord Camden, Col. Barrè, and their friends, sustained the repeal, and deny. ed vehemently the whole power in question. In the course of the debate, Mr. Grenville replying, with some severity, to a speech of Mr. Pitt, said, “The seditious spirit of the colonies owes its birth to the factions in this house;" and concluded with charging the Americans with “breaking out, almost into open rebellion." Mr. Pitt's reply was noble, and is known almost by heart by every American. “Sir, (said he, addressing the speaker,) a charge is brought against gentlemen sitting in this house, for giving birth to sedition in America. The freedom with which they have spoken their sentiments against this unhappy act, is imputed to them as a crime; but the imputation shall not discourage me. It is a liberty which I hope no gentleman will be afraid to exercise ; it is a liberty, by which the gentleman who calumniates it, might have profited. He ought to have desisted from his project. We are told America is obstinate-America is almost in open rebellion. Sir, I rejoice that America has resisted; three millions of people so dead to all the feelings of liberty, as voluntarily to submit to be slaves, would have been fit instruments to make slaves of all the rest. I came not
here armed at all points with law cases and acts of parliament, with the statute book doubled down in dog's ears to defend the cause of liberty ;
* but for the defence of liberty upon a general, constitutional principle—it is a ground on which I dare meet any man.
The honorable gentleman boasts of his bounties to America. Are not these bounties intended finally for the benefit of this kingdom? If they are not, he has misapplied the national treasures.
I am no courtier of America-I maintain that parliament has a right to bind, to restrain America. Our legislative power over the colonies is sovereign and supreme. The honorable gentleman tells us, he understands not the difference between internal and external taxation ; but surely there is a plain distinction, between taxes levied for the purpose of raising a revenue, and duties imposed for the regulation of commerce.
When,' said the honorable gentleman, 'were the colonies emancipated ? At what time, say I in answer, were they made slaves? The Americans have been wronged—they have been driven to madness by injustice. Will you punish them for the madness you have occasioned ? No: let this country be the first to resume its prudence and temper; I will pledge myself for the colonies, that, on their part, animosity and resentment will cease. He concluded an impassioned speech, by expressing his deliberate judgment, that the stamp act ought to be repcaled, absolutely, totally, and immediately.”
The declaratory act was finally carried in the House of Commons, by a vote of 275 to 167—and the repealing act by a vote of 250 to 122. Both went to the House of Lords; and, after vehement debate, were finally carried there, and received the royal assent on the 18th March. Lord Camden distinguished himself on the occasion, by the ardor of his zeal for American liberty.
The repeal of the stamp act, was placed upon the ground that its continuance would be detrimental to British commerce—and the declaratory act affirmed, that “Parliamen: could bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever ;” and that "votes and resolutions of assemblies in America, derogatory to the rights and power of the British Parliament, were null and void.”
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The repeal of the stamp act, produced great rejoicings in America. It was considered a virtual triumph over the doctrine of parliamentary supremacy, by the signal defeat of the measures in which it had been for the first time practically declared. The energy and determination of the colonies, had driven the British government from their chosen positionand this was just cause for congratulation. Accordingly, the repeal was celebrated with bonfires and illuminations. Massachusetts voted her thanks to the king, the duke of Grafton, and Mr. Pitt-and the house of burgesses of Virginia, passed a bill for erecting a statue to the king, and an obelisk to commemorate those who had been most active in behalf of America, in the British parliament. Other events, however, soon cooled this warmth of gratitude; and the succeeding house of burgesses postponed the project indefinitely.
The passage of the declaratory act, simultaneously with the repealing act, was a sufficient warning that Great Britain had only consented to a truce in her war against American rights. In the temper of the colonies, it must have been foreseen by them, that though they might very properly exult in the defeat of the measures of Great Britain, they could not cordially return to the same state of confidence and affection towards her, while the principle against which they had contended so strenuously as a tyrannical innovation, remained incorporated in her statutes by the same act which abandoned its enforcement for the time. The immediate danger of collision was passed; but it had so passed, as to leave materials for perpetual dissension, and the disposition to instant resistance, on any future attempt at internal taxation. The re« peal itself was thus, by the declaratory act, made inoperative for permanent conciliation; and other immediate measures were calculated to weaken its effects yet further. The restrictions upon trade, and the treasury regulations, were still in force ; the courts of admiralty still retained their extraordinary jurisdiction, so oppressive and unpopular among the people, especially on account of the suspension of jury trials; and the bills restraining the paper circulation of the colonia
were unrepealed. In addition to these latent sources of diso cord, the first acts of the royal authorities, in regard to the stamp act repeal, tended to revive one of those quarrels with the general assembly of Massachusetts, which had so powerful an influence on the colonial cause. The whole stamp act controversy, had sharpened the jealousy of the Americans against all British pretensions, and had enlightened the public mind by the ablest disquisitions in every branch of all the questions of constitutional
, chartered, and original rights. Secretary Conway's circular letter to the Governor, dated March 31st, expressed the disposition of the government to forget and forgive the "unjustifiable marks of undutiful disposition,” which had been shown in the colonies; and recommended the colonial assemblies to make compensation to those who had suffered in New-York and Boston, during the disturbances of the preceding year. In laying this communication before the assembly of Mas
sachusetts, Governor Bernard arrogantly styled it June, 1766.
a requisition ; and told them, that the authority by which it was introduced, should "preclude all disputation about it.” The stern independence of the assembly, met at once this attempt to impose the recommendations of the king, as obligatory upon them; and they returned him an answer to his speech, conceived in the very temper of the stamp act resistance. They delayed granting the compensation until December; and then only granted it on terms highly offensive to the government. A declaratory resolution accompanied the act of relief, protesting that it was done from a grateful regard to the king's recommendation, and from deference to the opinion of the illustrious patrons of the colonies in Great Britain,” without any interpretation of the recommendation into a 'requisition,'—" with full persuasion that the sufferers had no just claim or demand on the province;" and that it should not be drawn into a precedent. The same act granted full “ pardon, indemnity, and oblivion, to all offenders in the late times''
proceeding which so displeased the ministry, that the whole act was disallowed. The compensation to the sufferers was, however, paid.
New-York made provision for the same class of persons, but dissensions arose immediately both there, and in other colonies, especially Massachusetts, on the subject of furnishing supplies for the soldiery quartered among them. The demand was made them " in
pursuance of the act of pare