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liament," passed contemporaneously with the stamp' act, for more necessaries than had been usual under former requisi. tions. The extent of the claim; and the form in which it was made, revived the taxing question. New-York refused, peremptorily, to comply with the act--and one of the consequences was, a bill passed in the next session, for suspending the legislative power of that assembly, until they should consent to carry the mutiny act;' as it was called, into effect.
Some time previous to that event, and in the summer of 1766, the Rockingham ministry had been dissolved, and a new cabinet brought in under Mr. Pitt, who was created Earl of Chatham. These changes took place in July. Lord Shelburne re-entered the administration as one of the Secre. taries of State with Gen. Conway—and Charles Townshend, a man of brilliant and versatile genius, but capricious and unstable, was made Chancellor of the Exchequer. The duke of Grafton was placed at the head of the Treasury, and Lord Camden was made Lord Chancellor. This is the chequered administration, afterwards so humorously described by Burke, in his review of the life and character of Chatham. The scheme of taxing America was, with some artful modifications, while Lord Chatham was confined by sickness in the country, revived under the influence of Mr. Townshend, who had been goaded in some degree into the exper- ' iment, by the taunts of the ex-minister Grenville.' Previous to this final measure, the new ministry were called upon to meet the state of affairs in the colonies, arising from the opposition to the act for quartering soldiers. The assembly of New York were punished for their refusal to comply with the act, by the suspension of their legislative min, privileges, which arbitrary measure, while it re- 92
July 2, 1767. duced New York to submission, roused a general feeling of resentment and alarm throughout America. It was well described by Richard Henry Lee, of Virginia, Las a flaming sword,' hung over the heads of the other colonies. *'
Another act, passed at the same time, was also regarded with similar dread and dislike. By it, a board of trade was i established in the colonies, independent of colonial regula. tions, as a permanent body of administrators of the revenue, to administer such regulations as the king or council' might make, as to American commerce. The sensitive jealousy of the people of Boston, saw in this new board, part of a system
of embarrassment to their trade, and hostility to their prin. ciples,
But the most important act, was that of Mr. Townshend, for imposing duties on glass, tea, paper, and painter's colors, imported from Great Britain into the colonies which was passed with little opposition to take effect on the 20th of November. Professing, in the body of the act, and the form of the exaction, to be a regulation of commerce, it declared in the preamble, that it was "expedient to raise a revenue in America, and to make a more certain and adequate provision for defraying the charge of the administration of justice, and the support of the civil government of the provinces, and for defraying the expenses of defending, protecting, and secu. ring them." This included, palpably, some of the most odious designs with which the Grenville ministry had been charged-especially that of making a new civil list in the colonies, dependent upon ministerial patronage solely, and to be paid out of the proceeds of colonial taxation.
These three acts all passed towards the close of the session-and were approved by the king on the same day. Be
1767. | fore their effect could be known, their author, Mr. Septem'r. Charles Townshend, died suddenly of a putrid fever, and was succeeded by Lord North. A new office was created of Secretary of State for the colonies; and Lord Hillsborough, who had performed the duties as first Lord of Trade and Plantations under Mr. Grenville's ministry, was appointed to the place. The earl of Chatham continued unable to attend to business, and some months afterwards resigned his office, in which he was succeeded by the Earl of Bristol.
The excitement in America, on the receipt of the intellis gence of these bills, was scarcely less than on the passage of the stamp act, two years before. The whole effect of the repeal of that ill-judged measure, in quieting the public feel ing, was totally destroyed. The colonial assemblies promptly commenced another and equally spirited series of resolus tions, memorials, remonstrances, petitions, and protests, against the powers set up, and the oppression practised. Sympathy for the persecuted state of the province of New York, overpowered any timid apprehensions of encountering the like arbitrary suspension of their functions, and they aca cordingly expressed a generous zeal for her violated rights.
The first popular measures, were the same that had been found so effective in the former contest. Resolutions against
the use and importation of British fabrics, commenced at Boston in October, and were concurred in, shortly afterwards, by New York and Philadelphia, and most of the principal towns engaged in commerce. The terms of the agreement, were to encourage the growth and consumption of domestic articles, and to discourage the introduction into the country of any thing whatever from Great Britain, not abso lutely necessary. Early in the next session of the general court, the house of representatives of Massachu
Jan'y 1768. setts took the lead in protesting against all these measures, including the yet unrepealed and offensive sugar act, which had been lost sight of, in the victory over the stamp act. The subtle distinction, by which the new duties had been made to differ from the stamp duties, in being external taxes combining regulations of trade with revenue,
instead of internal duties solely for revenue, was met and : exposed boldly. It is the glory,' said they, ‘of this con
stitution, that it hath its foundation in the law of God and nature. It is an essential natural right, that a man shall quietly enjoy, and have the sole disposal of his own property. This natural and constitutional right is so familiar to American subjects, that it would be difficult, if possible, to convince them, that any necessity can render it just, equitable, and reasonable, in the nature of things, that parliament should impose duties, subsidies, talliage, and taxes, internal or external, for the sole purpose of revenue.' They declared the act laying duty on tea, as well as the stamp act and the sugar act, to be, both in form and substance, as much revenue acts, as the land tax, customs, and excises of England. They warmly reprobated the act establishing a permanent commission of the customs of America, and stigmatized the suspension of the New York Legislature as an alarming act to the
rest of the colonies from which 'political death and annihii lation' were to be apprehended. A circular was adopted to the other colonies, set
February ting forth these views, and asking co-operation.
Pennsylvania had nearly, contemporaneously, passed similar resolutions, and on the receipt of the circular of Massachusetts, it was entered upon their minutes with great unanimity. The house of burgesses, in Virginia, in particular, applauded the course of Massachusetts, and proclaimed the same principles and opinions in relation to all these acts, in language of determined boldness, as “replete with every
mischief, and utterly subversive of all that is dear and valuable."
In Great Britain, the circular, and other proceedings of Massachusetts, were received with alarm and resentment. They were viewed as preparatory to another congress, and a united opposition--and, in consequence, the earl of Hillsborough addressed a letter to Governor Bernard, directing him 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, and to declare their disapprobation of, and dissent to, that rash and hasty proceeding He was further directed, if the house refused, to dissolve them, and report to the king, that measures might be taken for the future, to prevent "a conduct of so extraordinary and unconstitutional a nature." A circular was addressed, at the same time, to the governors of the other colonies, instructing them to prevent the several assemblies from taking notice of the Massachusetts circular; or, if the assemblies proved refractory, to dissolve them.
Governor Bernard laid the directions of the minister before the house, at their meeting in June. Their spirit rose with the occasion; and they passed a nearly unanimous vote, not to rescind, as they had been ordered'; and re-affirmed the same opinions in still more energetic language-adding, as another ground of complaint, the attempt to restrain their right of deliberation. They expressed their surprise, that they should be called upon to rescind a resolution of a former legislature-a resolution that had been executed, and consequently only existed,' as a historical fact. But, they added, if by rescinding, the government required them to express their disapprobation of that resolution, "we have only to inform you, that we have voted not to rescind; and that on a division on the question, there were 92 nays and 17 yeas '-a piece of information, intended to reprove the letters he had written to England, charging the passage of the resolution to “unfair" practices. The governor dissolved them but not before the same committee who had drawn up this reply, had drawn a petition to the king to recall the governor, which was adopted by the house. The ministerial circular to the other provinces, met a similar fate.
The assembly of Maryland, in reply to Governor Sharpe's message, told him, with firmness, that they would not be deterred from joining in constitutional measures for common
objects, with the legislatures of the other colonies." We shall not be intimidated,” say they, “ by a few sounding expressions, from doing what we think to be right.”
Other colonies adopted similar resolutions. Virginia, in her memorial, protested that she would not "consent to anti-constitutional powers;" and Georgia pronounced the Massachusetts resolutions complained of, to be not of a dangerous and factious tendency, as Lord Hillsborough had termed them—but, "on the contrary, tending to a justifiable union of subjects aggrieved, in lawful and laudable endeavors to obtain redress.” New-York, in addition to language equally decided, appointed a committee of correspondence.
In the mean time, the excitement in the town of Boston against the new board of customs, had risen to a great height, and produced a violent conflict between them, in the latter part of May. At the requisition of Governor Bernard, who complained of the refractory spirit of the Bostonians, it had been determined to station a military force among them; and, for that purpose, General Gage was ordered to quarter a regiment of the regular troops, in that town. Before they arrived, however, the seizure of the sloop Liberty, belonging to John Hancock, for a violation of the odious revenue laws, had produced a great ferment in the town, and resulted in riotous proceedings; during which, the collector, comptroller, and inspector of the customs, were roughly handled by the populace, and their houses assaulted. They were finally compelled to take refuge, first on board of the Romney man-of-war, and then in Castle William. The dissatisfaction of the people was increased, by the impressment of American seamen, by officers of the Romney. The disturbances in the city, together with the attacks upon the revenue officers, were brought before the legislature-who expressed their disapprobation of the disorders, and directed prosecutions to be commenced against the persons principally concerned in it. At the same time they denounced the conduct of the revenue officers as haughty, tyrannical, and insulting.
The legislature being dissolved, the governor refused to convene another, without the express commands of the king. About the first of September, a rumor began to prevail of the expected arrival of troops, to compel the obedience of the town to the acts of parliament. The inhabitants immediately held a town meeting, and asked information of the