received the plan of a Stamp tax.—Grenville's administration continued.
No sooner was parliament up, than Jenkinson
to forward the American
stamp-act, by seeking that further information, the want of which he had assigned as a reason for not going on with it. But the treasury had no mode of direct communication with the colonies, and the Secretary of State
had no mind to consult them.
For the moment nothing was done, though Jackson
wrote to Hutchinson
for his opinion on the rights of the colonists and the late proceedings respecting them.
Meantime the officers of France
, as they made their last journey through Canada
, and down the valley of the Mississippi
, as they gazed on the magnificence of the country, and on every side received the expressions of passionate attachment from the many tribes of red men, cast a wistful and lingering look upon the empire which they were ceding.1
himself saw futurity better.
He who would
not set his name to the treaty of peace with Great
Britain, issued the order2
in April, 1764, for the transfer of the island of New-Orleans
and all Louisiana
And he did it without mental reserve.
He knew that the time was coming when the whole colonial system would be changed; and in the same year,3
while he was still minister of the marine, he sent de Pontleroy, a lieutenant in the navy of the Department of Rochefort
, to travel through America
, under the name of Beaulieu
, in the guise of an Acadian wanderer; and while England
was taxing America by act of parliament, France
was already counting its steps towards independence.4
The world was making progress; restrictive laws and the oppression of industry were passing away, not less than the inquisition and the oppression of free thought.
‘Every thing that I see,’ wrote Voltaire
, in April; “every thing is scattering the seeds of a revolution, which will come inevitably.
Light has so spread from neighbor to neighbor, that on the first occasion it will kindle and burst forth.
Happy are the young, for their eyes shall see it.”
The impulse to the revolution was to proceed from the new world, which was roused by the rumor of the bill for the impending regulations.
‘My heart bleeds for America
,’ said Whitefield
, at Portsmouth, in New Hampshire
. ‘O poor New-England
, there is a deep-laid plot against both your civil and religious liberties; and they will be lost.
Your golden days are at an end.’
But in this case, as so often, evil designs created their
‘If the colonist is taxed without his consent,’ said the press5
, ‘he will, perhaps, seek a change.’
‘The ways of Heaven are inscrutable,’ wrote Richard Henry Lee
, of Virginia
, privately to a friend;6
‘this step of the mother country, though intended to secure our dependence, may produce a fatal resentment, and be subversive of that end.’
‘If the colonies do not now unite,’ was the message received from Dyer
, who was then in England
; ‘if they do not unite, they may bid farewell to liberty, burn their charters, and make the best of thraldom.’7
Even while it was not yet known that the bill had passed, alarm pervaded New-England
, at the town meeting in May, there stood up Samuel Adams
, a native citizen of the place, trained at Harvard College, a provincial statesman, of the most clear and logical mind, which, throughout a long life, imparted to his public conduct the most exact consistency.
His vigorous and manly will resembled in its tenacity well-tempered steel, which may ply a little but will not break.
In his religious faith he had from childhood been instituted a Calvinist of the straitest sect; and his riper judgment and acuteness in dialectics confirmed him in its creed.
In his views on church government he adhered to the congregational forms, as most friendly to civil and religious liberty.
He was a member of the Church
, and in a rigid community was an example in severity of morals and the scrupulous observance of every ordinance.
Evening and morning his house was a
house of prayer; and no one more revered the
The austere purity of his life witnessed the sincerity of his profession.
He was a tender husband, an affectionate parent, and relaxing from severer cares, he could vividly enjoy the delights of conversation with friends; but the walls of his modest mansion never witnessed dissipation, or levity, or frivolous amusements, or any thing inconsistent with the discipline of the man whose incessant prayer for his birthplace was, that ‘Boston
might become a Christian Sparta
For his political creed, he received and held fast the opinions of the Fathers of New-England
, that the colonies and England
had a common king, but separate and independent legislatures.
When he commenced Master of Arts at Cambridge
, he affirmed that ‘it is lawful to resist the Chief Magistrate
, if the Commonwealth
cannot otherwise be preserved;’ and when, in consequence of an act of the British Parliament, overruling the laws of the colony, his father's estate had been unjustly seized, he appeared in defence of colonial supremacy within colonial limits, and by his success gratified alike his filial piety and his love of country.9
He was at this time near two and forty years of age; poor, and so contented with poverty, that men censured him as ‘wanting wisdom to estimate riches at their just value.’
But he was frugal and temperate;
and his prudent and industrious wife, endowed
with the best qualities of a New-England
woman, knew how to work with her own hands, so that the small resources, which men of the least opulent class would have deemed a very imperfect support, were sufficient for his simple wants.
Yet such was the union of dignity with economy, that whoever visited him saw around him every circumstance of propriety.10
Above all, he combined with poverty a stern and incorruptible integrity.
His nature was keenly sensitive, yet he bore with magnanimity the neglect of friends and the malignity of enemies.
Already famed as a political writer, employing wit and sarcasm, as well as energy of language and earnestness, no one had equal influence over the popular mind.
No blandishments of flattery could lull his vigilance, no sophistry deceive his penetration.
Difficulties could not discourage his decision, nor danger appal his fortitude.
He had also an affable and persuasive address, which could reconcile conflicting interests and promote harmony in action.
He never, from jealousy, checked the advancement of others; and in accomplishing great deeds he took to himself no praise.
Seeking fame as little as fortune, and office less than either, he aimed steadily at the good of his country and the best interests of mankind.
Of despondency he knew nothing; trials only nerved him for severer struggles; his sublime and unfaltering hope had a cast of solemnity, and was as much a part of his nature as if his confidence sprung from insight into the divine decrees, and was as firm as a sincere
Calvinist's assurance of his election.
For himself and
for others, he held that all sorrows and all losses were to be encountered, rather than that liberty should perish.
Such was his deep devotion, such his inflexibility and courage, he may be called the last of the Puritans, and seemed destined to win for his country
The victory of endurance born.
On his motion and in his words, Boston
, while it still set forth its acknowledged dependence upon Great Britain
, and the ready submission of its merchants to all just and necessary regulations of trade, asserted its rights and privileges, whether held by charter or by birth.
‘There is no room for delay,’ said the town to its representatives.
‘Those unexpected proceedings may be preparatory to more extensive taxation; for if our trade may be taxed why not our lands and every thing we possess?
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?
This annihilates our charter right to govern and tax ourselves.
We claim British rights, not by charter only; we are born to them.
Use your endeavors that the weight of the other North American colonies may be added to that of this province, that by united application all may happily obtain redress.’
Thus the town of Boston
denied the right of the British parliament to tax America, and looked for redress to a union of all the colonies.
the arrival of the English
packet was awaited with unusual interest.
When it came
tardily along in June, it was not easy to describe the
manner in which people were affected.
‘I will wear nothing but homespun,’11
exclaimed one citizen; ‘I will drink no wine,’ echoed another, angry that wine must pay a new duty.
‘I propose,’ cried a third, ‘that we dress in sheepskins with the wool on.’
All expressed their resentment in the strongest manner.
It was thought a French army of three thousand men might land in America
without opposition from its inhabitants.
‘It appears plainly,’ said the gentle Robert R. Livingston
, ‘that these duties are only the beginning of evils.
The stamp duty, they tell us, is deferred, till they see whether the colonies will take the yoke upon themselves, and offer something else as certain.
They talk, too, of a land tax, and to us the ministry appears to have run mad;’ and looking forward to measures of resistance, ‘we in New-York
,’ he added, ‘shall do as well as our neighbors: the God of Heaven, whom we serve, will sanctify all things to those who love Him and strive to serve Him.’
The legislature of Massachusetts was then in session.
The Boston Instructions, drawn by Samuel Adams
, formed the corner-stone of its policy.
In pursuance of them, James Otis
prepared ‘a state’ of the case.12
By the laws of nature and of nations, the voice of universal reason, and of God, by statute law and the common law, this memorial claimed for the colonists the absolute rights of Englishmen-personal security and liberty, the rights of property, the power of local legislation, subject only to the king's negative as in Ireland
, and the sole power of taxing themselves.13
‘The authority of the parliament of Great
Britain,’ such were the words of this paper, ‘is circumscribed by bounds, which, if exceeded, their acts become mere power without right, and consequently void.’
‘Acts of parliament against natural equity are void.
Acts against the fundamental principles of the British
institutions are void.’14
‘The wild wastes of America
have been turned into pleasant habitations; little villages in Great Britain
into manufacturing towns and opulent cities; and London
itself bids fair to become the metropolis of the world.15
These are the fruits of the spirit of commerce and liberty.
The British empire to be perpetuated must be built on the principles of justice.’16
Such were the views of Otis
, sent by Massachusetts
to its agent in London
, ‘to be improved as he might judge proper.’
The Assembly formally repudiated the concessions of their agent.
Their silence had rather been the silence of ‘despair.’
They protested against ‘the burdensome scheme of obliging the colonies to maintain a standing army,’ as against the constitution, and against reason.
They rehearsed their services during the last war. Still incredulous, they demand: ‘Can it be possible that duties and taxes shall be assessed without the voice or consent of an American parliament.
If we are not represented, we are slaves.’
,’ said they, connecting the questions of American and Irish liberty, ‘was a conquered country, yet no duties have been levied by the British parliament on Ireland
‘The resolutions for a stamp act naturally and directly tend to enervate the good
will of America
towards Great Britain
of trade are neither equitable nor just; but the power of taxing is the grand barrier of British liberty.
If this is once broken down, all is lost.’
‘In a word,’ say they, representing truly the point of resistance at which America
was that year ready to halt, ‘a people may be free, and tolerably happy, without a particular branch of trade; but without the privilege of assessing their own taxes they can be neither.’17
At the same time, Otis
, and Sheafe
, as the committee for corresponding with the other colonies, sent a circular letter to them all, exposing the danger that menaced their ‘most essential rights,’ and desiring ‘their united assistance.’
Thus the legislature adopted the principles and the line of conduct which the town of Boston
, at the im pulse of Samuel Adams
, had recommended.18
On the other hand, Bernard
sought to ingratiate himself in England
, by sending over for the consideration of his superiors a scheme of American polity which he had employed years in maturing.
He urged on the cabinet, that a general reformation of the American
governments was not only desirable, but necessary; that the colonies enjoyed their separate legislatures, not as a right, but as a contingent privilege; that parliament could modify their governments as it should see fit; that its power to impose port duties, and levy internal taxes in the colonies, was not to be disputed;
and if requisitions were neglected the power ought to
be exercised; that there should be for the colonies a certain, sufficient, and independent civil list; that there should be an American nobility for life, to mediate between the king and the people; that the American
charters were suited only to the infancy of states, and should be abolished, and one form of government established for all America
Of the paper containing this advice, Bernard
sent several copies to the ministry, carefully concealing from America
his treacherous solicitations, and he darkly hinted at arguments which should make his scheme acceptable, but which were ‘fit’ only for the consideration of the cabinet.20
thus secretly and stealthily laid before the cabinet his views on America
through the press to the world of mankind; and his voice was powerful enough to reach England
, and to be considered in parliament.
He saw around him men who ‘had built much upon the fine salaries they should receive from the plantation branch of the revenue;’ and ‘he knew that with similar views several officers of the crown in some of the colonies had been pushing for such an act for many years;’ but his singularly constituted mind, which was for ever in collision with them in daily life, in its moments of exaltation, scorned all personal jealousies.
He did not want affection for England
‘The British constitution,’ said he, ‘comes nearest the idea of perfection of any that has been reduced to practice.’
‘Let parliament lay what burthens they please on us,’
he even added, ‘it is our duty to submit and patiently bear them till they will be pleased to relieve us. If any thing fall from my pen that bears the least aspect but that of obedience, duty, and loyalty to the king and parliament, the candid will impute it to the agony of my heart.’
It was his purpose not to enter into war with British institutions, or the British parliament, but to treat of the first principles of free government and human rights.
‘Government,’ such was his argument, which I shall state as nearly as possible in his own words-
government is founded, not on force, as was the theory of Hobbes, nor on compact, as was the theory of Locke and the revolution of 1688; nor on property, as had been asserted by Harrington.
It springs from the necessities of our nature, and has an everlasting foundation in the unchangeable will of God.
Man came into the world and into society at the same instant.
There must exist in every earthly society a supreme sovereign, from whose final decision there can be no appeal, but directly to Heaven.
This supreme power is originally and ultimately in the people; and the people never did in fact freely, nor can rightfully make an unlimited renunciation of this divine right.
Kingcraft and priestcraft are a trick to gull the vulgar.
The happiness of mankind demands that this grand and ancient alliance should be broken off for ever.
The omniscient and omnipotent Monarch of the universe has, by the grand charter given to the human race, placed the end of government in the good of the whole.
The form of government is left to the individuals of each society; and its whole superstructure
and administration should be conformed to the law of universal reason.
There can be no prescription old enough to supersede the law of nature and the grant of God Almighty, who has given all men a right to be free.
If every prince since Nimrod had been a tyrant, it would not prove a right to tyrannize.
The administrators of legislative and executive authority, when they verge towards tyranny, are to be resisted; if they prove incorrigible, are to be deposed.
The first principle and great end of government being to provide for the best good of all the people; this can be done only by a supreme legislative and ex ecutive ultimately in the people, or whole community, where God has placed it; but the difficulties attending a universal congress gave rise to a right of representation.
Such a transfer of the power of the whole to a few was necessary; but to bring the powers of all into the hands of one, or some few, and to make them hereditary, is the interested work of the weak and the wicked.
Nothing but life and liberty are actually hereditable.
The grand political problem is to invent the best combination of the powers of legislation and execution: they must exist in the state, just as in the revolution of the planets; one power would fix them to a centre, and another carry them off indefinitely; but the first and simple principle is equality and the power of the whole.
The best writers on public law contain nothing that is satisfactory on the natural rights of colonies.
Even Grotius and Puffendorf establish the matter of right on the matter of fact.
Their researches are often but the history of ancient abuses; and the American Admiralty courts learn of them to determine controversies
by the rules of civil and feudal law. To be too fond of studying them is a ridiculous infatuation.
The British colonists do not hold their liberties or July.
their lands by so slippery a tenure as the will of the prince.
Colonists are men; the common children of the same Creator with their brethren of Great Britain.
The colonists are men; the colonists are therefore free born; for, by the law of nature, all men are free born, white or black.
No good reason can be given for enslaving those of any color.
Is it right to enslave a man because his color is black, or his hair short, and curled like wool, instead of Christian hair?
Can any logical inference in favor of slavery be drawn from a flat nose or a long or a short face?
The riches of the West Indies, or the luxury of the metropolis, should not have weight to break the balance of truth and justice.
Liberty is the gift of God, and cannot be annihilated.
Nor do the political and civil rights of the British colonists rest on a charter from the Crown.
Old Magna Charta was not the beginning of all things; nor did it rise on the borders of chaos out of the unformed mass.
A time may come when parliament shall declare every American charter void; but the natural, inherent, and inseparable rights of the colonists as men and as citizens, would remain, and whatever became of charters, can never be abolished till the general conflagration.
There is no foundation for distinction between external and internal taxes: if parliament may tax our trade, they may lay stamps, land taxes, tithes, and so indefinitely; there are no bounds.
But such an imposition of taxes, whether on trade, or on land, on houses,
or ships, on real or personal, fixed or floating property, in the colonies, is absolutely irreconcilable with the rights of the colonists as British subjects and as men. Acts of parliament against the fundamental principles of the British constitution are void.
Yet the colonists know the blood and treasure independence would cost.
They will never think of it, till driven to it as the last fatal resort against ministerial oppression, which will make the wisest mad, and the weakest strong.
The world is at the eve of the highest scene of earthly power and grandeur that has ever yet been displayed to the view of mankind.
Who will win the prize is with God.
But human nature must and will be rescued from the general slavery that has so long triumphed over the species.
Thus, ‘in the agony of his heart,’ Otis
reasoned for his country and for the race, bringing into the living intelligence of the people the first principles of free government and human rights; ignorant of the beauty of the edifice which he was rearing.
He wrought in sad sincerity;
Himself from God he could not free;
He builded better than he knew.
The book of Otis
was reprinted in England
Lord Mansfield, who had read it, rebuked those who spoke of it with contempt.
But they rejoined, ‘The man is mad.’
‘One madman often makes many.
Massaniello was mad: nobody doubted it; yet for all that he overturned the government of Naples
was a prophet, not the leader of a party; full of sagacity in his inspirations, but wanting steadfast
consistency of conduct.
His colleague, Oxenbridge Thacher
, was less enthusiastic and less variable.
Connection with Great Britain
was to him no blessing, if Great Britain
would impose burdens unconstitutionally.
He vindicated the right of resisting arbitrary taxation by the frequent example of the British parliament; and he dwelt on the danger to the inhabitants of England
if the ministers could disfranchise a million and a half of subjects in America
‘Here,’ said Mayhew
as he lamented the cold adhesion of ‘the timid good,’23
and for himself, trod the thorny path of resistance to the grandeurs of the world—‘here there are many who ‘see the right, and yet the wrong pursue.’
But it is my fixed resolution, notwithstanding many discouragements, in my little sphere to do all I can for the service of my country; that neither the republic nor the churches of New England
may sustain any injury.’
And every where men began to enter into a solemn agreement notto use a single article of British manufacture; not even to wear black clothes for mourning.
To encourage the growth and manufacture of wool, nearly all Boston
signed a covenant to eat no lamb.
While the people encouraged one another in the conviction that taxation by parliament was tyranny, Hutchinson
addressed his thoughts to the Secretary
of the Chancellor
of the Exchequer.
‘The colonists,’ said he, claim a power of making laws, and a privilege of exemption from taxes, unless
voted by their own representatives.
only the colonies when first planted, but the provinces when changed into colonies, were freed from taxes for the Roman
exchequer of every sort.
It can be of no purpose to mention modern colonies.
, the inhabitants of Britain only are free, and the inhabitants of British colonies only feel the loss of freedom—and they feel it more sensibly because they thought it doubly secured as their natural right, and their possession by virtue of the most solemn engagements.
Nor are the privileges of the people less affected by duties laid for the sake of the money arising from them than by an internal tax.
Not one-tenth part of the people of Great Britain have a voice in elections to parliament; and, therefore, the colonies can have no claim to it; but every man of property in England may have his voice, if he will.
Besides; acts of parliament do not generally affect individuals, and every interest is represented.
But the colonies have an interest distinct from the interest of the nation; and shall the parliament be at once party and judge?
Is it not a continual question, What can be done to make the colonies further beneficial to the nation?
And nobody adds, consistently with their rights.
You consider us as your property, to improve in the best way you can for your advantage.
The nation treats her colonies as a father who should sell the services of his sons to reimburse him what they had cost him, but without the same reason; for none of the colonies, except Georgia and Halifax, occasioned any charge to the crown or kingdom in the settlement of them.
The people of New England fled for the sake of civil and religious liberty; multitudes flocked to America with this dependence, that their
liberties should be safe.
They and their posterity have enjoyed them to their content, and therefore have endured with greater cheerfulness all the hardships of settling new countries.
No ill use has been made of these privileges; but the dominion and wealth of Great Britain have received amazing addition.
Surely the services we have rendered the nation have not subjected us to any forfeitures.
I know it is said, the colonies are a charge to the nation, and they should contribute to their own defence and protection.
But during the last war they annually contributed so largely that the parliament was convinced the burden would be insupportable, and from year to year made them compensation; in several of the colonies for several years together more men were raised, in proportion, than by the nation.
In the trading towns, one-fourth part of the profit of trade, besides imposts and excise, was annually paid to the support of the war and public charges; in the country towns, a farm which would hardly rent for twenty pounds a year, paid ten pounds in taxes.
If the inhabitants of Britain had paid in the same proportion, there would have been no great increase of the national debt.
Nor is there occasion for any national expense in America.
For one hundred years together the New England colonies received no aid in their wars with the Indians, assisted by the French.
Those governments now molested, are as able to defend their respective frontiers; and had rather do the whole of it by a tax of their own raising, than pay their proportion in any other way.
Moreover, it must be prejudicial to the national interest to impose parliamentary taxes.
promised by an increase of the revenue are all fallacious and delusive.
You will lose more than you gain.
Britain already reaps the profit of all their trade, and of the increase of their substance.
By cherishing their present turn of mind, you will serve your interest more than by your present schemes.
The remonstrance of Hutchinson
reflected the opinion of all candid royalists in the colonies; but the pusillanimous man entreated his correspondent to conceal his confession from those whom it would displease.
Yet to his friends in America
, he used to say, that there was no ground for the distinction between the duties on trade and internal taxes; that if the Parliament intended to go on, there would be a necessity to dispute the distinction; ‘for,’ said he, ‘they may find duties on trade enough to drain us thoroughly.’24
And it is affirmed, that to members of the legislature of Massachusetts, from whom he had ends to gain, Hutchinson
denied utterly the right of parliament to tax America.25
The appeals of the Colonies were made in the spirit of loyalty.
The wilderness was still ringing with the war-whoop of the savage;26
and the frontiers were red with blood; while the colonies themselves, at the solicitations of Amherst
and of Gage
, his successor, were lavishing their treasure to secure the west to Great Britain
In July, the little army of eleven hundred men, composed chiefly of provincial battalions from New Jersey
, New-York, and Connecticut
, that of
led by Colonel Israel Putnam
under the command of Bradstreet
, reached Niagara
There was found a vast concourse of Indians
, of various nations, willing to renew friendship, and expecting presents.
, to save their settlements from imminent destruction, brought in prisoners, and ratified a peace.
had been ordered by General Gage
to give peace to all such nations of Indians as would sue for it, and to chastise those that continued in arms; but none remained in arms.
Half way from Buffalo
, he was met by deputations from the Shawnees, the Delawares, the Hurons of Sandusky
, and the Five Nations of the Scioto valley
, desiring that the chain of friendship might be brightened; and he settled a treaty with the nations dwelling between Lake Erie
and the Ohio
was welcomed by the
Hurons with every expression of joy and respect.
A detachment was sent to take possession of Michilimackinac, and a vessel found its way into Lake Huron
On the seventh of September, great numbers of Indians
, especially Ottawas and Chippewas, assembled at Bradstreet
's tent, and seated themselves on the ground for a Congress.
on that day cashiered all their old-chiefs, and the young warriors shook hands with the English
as with brothers.28
desire that all resentment should be laid aside, and
asked for peace, in the names of their wives and children.
A treaty was then made, and the arms of the Chippewas and Ottawas, the Hurons and Miamis
, the Pottawattamies and Sacs, were attached to it. Two days afterward, the Missisagas drew an eagle with a medal round its neck, as the signature for their nation.
did not appear, but was included in the covenant.
By its conditions the Indian
country was made a part of the royal dominions; its tribes were bound to render aid to the English
troops; and in return were promised protection and assistance.
Indian murderers and plunderers, as well as British deserters, were to be delivered up; all captives were to be set free and restored.
The families of English settlers were assured of a welcome.
After securing repose to the Northwest
encamped near the carrying-place at Sandusky
Neither he nor those whom he deputed took possession of the country on the Mississippi
While provincial American troops were confirming to England
the possession of its conquests, the British
ministry was pursuing its new methods of government.
The king, ‘by virtue of his prerogative royal, appointed an impost of four and a half per cent., in specie, on produce shipped from Grenada
, from and after the twenty-ninth day of September, 1764;’29
and this illegal30
order was justified on the ground that Grenada
was a conquered island, in which customs
had been collected by the most Christian
small return to the exchequer blinded Grenville
to the principles of British law.31
The same reasoning was applied to the Canadians; and the Attorney
of Great Britain
gave their opinion, that the duties payable in Canada
to its former government at the time of the conquest, might be legally collected by the authority of the British
But arbitrary taxation was the only relic of French usages which was retained.
All the laws, customs, and forms of judicature33
of a populous and long-established colony were in one hour34
overturned by the ordinance of the seventeenth of September; and English laws, even the penal statutes against Catholics
, all unknown to the Canadians, and unpublished, were introduced in their stead.
The improper choice and the number of the civil officers sent over from England
, increased the disquietude of the colony.
The ignorant, the greedy, and the factious, were appointed to offices which required integrity, knowledge, and abilities.35
The judge pitched upon to conciliate the minds of seventy thousand foreigners to the laws and government of Great Britain
, was taken from a jail, and was entirely unacquainted with the civil law and the language of the people.
, with regard to the language,
was not better qualified.
The offices of Secretary
of the Province, Registrar, Clerk
of the Council, Commissary
of Stores and Provisions, Provost Marshal
, and others, were given by patent to men of interest in England
, who let them out to the best bidders, and so little considered the capacity of their representatives, that none of them understood the language of the natives, but all, in their turn, hired such servants as would work at the cheapest rate, without much inquiry how the work was done.36
As no salary was annexed to these patent places, the value of them depended upon the fees, which the governor was ordered to establish equal to those in the richest ancient colonies.
Nor could he restrain those officers who lived by fees from running them up to extortion.
When he checked them in their views of profit, he was regarded as their enemy, nor was there any chance for harmony in the government, unless all should become equally corrupt.37
The Supreme Court of Judicature took to itself all causes, civil and criminal.
The chicanery and expensiveness of Westminster Hall were introduced into the impoverished province; and English justice and English offices seemed to the poor Canadians
an ingenious device to drain them of the little substance which was still left to them.38
In the one hundred and ten rural parishes there were but nineteen Protestant families.
The rest of the Protestants were a few half-pay officers, disbanded soldiers, traders, mechanics, and publicans, who resided
, most of them fol-
lowers of the army, of low education, all with their fortunes to make, and little solicitous about the means;39
so that, as the Catholics were disfranchised, magistrates were to be made, and juries composed from about four hundred and fifty suttlers and traders— men of narrow ideas, ignorant, and intoxicated with unexpected power.
Disorder and division ensued in attempting to introduce the civil administration.
The troops that had conquered, and for four years had ruled the country, remained in it, commanded by an officer, who by the new establishment was deprived of the government of half the province, and who remained in every respect independent of the civil authority.
As there were no barracks in the country, the quartering the troops furnished perpetual opportunities of displaying their importance and rancor.
The meek and unresisting province was given over submissively to hopeless oppression, as cold iron suffers blows on the anvil, but neither takes shape nor sparkles.
The history of the world furnishes no instance of so rash injustice.40
The British ministers were still more zealous to restrain and circumscribe the republican spirit of New England
In September, letters were received in New-York
, announcing that the king in council had, at the instance of Halifax, dismembered New Hampshire
, and annexed to New-York
the country north of
and west of Connecticut river
decision was declaratory of the boundary; and it was therefore held by the royalists that the grants made under the sanction of the royal governor of New Hampshire
Many of the lands for which the king had received the price, and which were already occupied and cultivated, were granted in the king's name anew, and the former purchasers were compelled to redeem them, or menaced with eviction.
This decision was based upon the belief of the superior loyalty of New-York
; and yet at that moment the spirit of resistance was nowhere so strong.
‘History,’ it was said, ‘does not furnish an instance of a revolt begun by the people which did not take its rise from oppression.
Nothing but this, sensibly felt, can unite the several governments in such a design; and without union they can do nothing.’42
But the passions of New-York
were too vehement to wait for concert.
Its assembly contained merchants, and owners of large tracts of land, and ‘common farmers, which last,’ wrote the lieutenant governor
, ‘are men easily deluded and led astray with popular amusements of liberty and privileges.’43
On coming together in September, their address44
claimed for their constituents ‘that great badge of English liberty, the being taxed only with their own consent.’
This ‘exclusive right,’ the loss of which would
bring ‘basest vassalage,’ they, in October, represented to the king, as a right which ‘had received the royal sanction;’ and they enumerated as their grievances, ‘involuntary taxes,’ the ‘acts of trade,’ the substitution of the discretion of a judge of a vicead-miralty court for the trial by jury, the restraint on the use of the credit of the colony by act of parliament.
These they repeated in a manifesto to the House of Lords, to whom they further ‘showed,’ that ‘the supreme power lodged in a single person’ is less fearful than a constitution in which one part of the community holds the right for ever to tax and legislate for the other.
If the constitution of Great Britain
gives to parliament that right, then, they say, ‘it is the most unequal constitution that ever existed; and no human foresight or contrivance can prevent its final consummation in the most intolerable oppression.’45
The same complaints were enforced in a petition and representation to the House of Commons.
They pleaded that they had never refused, and promised that they never would refuse to hearken to a just requisition from the crown.
They appealed to their records, as evidence before the whole world of their fidelity and steady affection to the mother country; their untainted loyalty and cheerful obedience; their exercise of their political privileges unabused.
‘An exemption from the burden of ungranted and involuntary taxes’—such were the words of the General Assembly of New-York
—‘must be 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,
nor even the idea of property.
Life itself would become intolerable.
We proceed with propriety and boldness to inform the Commons of Great Britain
, who, to their infinite honor, in all ages asserted the liberties of mankind, that the people of this colony nobly disdain the thought of claiming that exemption as a privilege.
They found it on a basis more honorable, solid, and stable; they challenge it, and glory in it as their right. * * The thought of independency upon the supreme power of the parliament we reject with the utmost abhorrence. * * The authority of the parliament of Great Britain to model the trade of the whole empire, so as to subserve the interest of her own, we are ready to recognise in the most extensive and positive terms; but the freedom to drive all kinds of traffic, in subordination to, and not inconsistent with the British
trade, and an exemption from all duties in such a course of commerce, is humbly claimed by the colonies, as the most essential of all the rights to which they are entitled as colonies, and connected in the common bond of liberty with the free sons of Great Britain
For, with submission, since all impositions, whether they be internal taxes, or duties paid for what we consume, equally diminish the estates upon which they are charged, what avails it to any people by which of them they are impoverished?’
And they deprecated the loss of their rights as likely ‘to shake the power and independence of Great Britain
The people of Rhode Island
, headed by Stephen Hopkins
, the governor of their own choice, proceeded more calmly and on a better foundation.
not recognise any just authority in parliament to en-
act even the laws of trade.
, they elected a committee of correspondence.
The colony was ready ‘to exert its utmost efforts to preserve its privileges inviolate.’
It saw that the ‘critical conjunction’ was come ‘when they must be defended or finally lost;’ and they invited all other colonies to maintain their liberties with spirit, and devise a method of union.
The proposition of Rhode Island
was received with joy by the assembly of Pennsylvania.
The complaints of the English
ministry had been specially directed against that opulent and prosperous colony, though it had been ready to make liberal grants for the public service, and had failed to do so only because the proprietaries had interposed their negative, unless their own estates were wholly or partially exempted from taxation.
They were, moreover, the landlords of all the inhabitants; and yet to the judges, who were of their own appointment and were to decide all questions between them and their tenants, they gave no other tenure of office than their own good pleasure.
The government, having no support in the affections of the people, was so weak, that during the previous winter it had suffered the murder of twenty Indians to pass unpunished; and could not restrain armed mobs who went about threatening the lives of more.
To escape from the perpetual intervention of private interest in public affairs, Franklin
, with the great body of the Quakers, as well as royalists, desired that the province should become a royal government.
One man in the assembly, the pure-minded and ingenuous John Dickinson
, though ever the opponent
of the scandalous selfishness of the proprietaries,
had in May spoken earnestly against the proposal; for he saw that ‘the province must stake on the event liberties that ought to be immortal;’ and desired to see an olive leaf, at least, brought to them before they should quit their ark.46
On the other side, Joseph Galloway
urged with vigor the just complaints against the proprietaries.
All royalist at heart, he had even applauded the ministry of Grenville
for its disposition to mild and equitable measures, and was tolerant of a military establishment,47
of which all the inconveniency to the colonies was to ‘be a proportionable part of the aids to support the troops.’
, with undaunted courage supporting popular rights against every danger, was willing to transfer to the king the executive power then held by the proprietaries, believing it could be done without detriment to the established privileges of Pennsylvania
A petition for the change was adopted by a large majority; but when in summer the policy of Grenville
with regard to the American
Stamp Act was better understood, a new debate arose, in which Franklin
took the lead.
It was argued, that, during the war the people of Pennsylvania
had granted more than their proportion, and were ever ready to grant sums suitable to their abilities and zeal for the service; that, therefore, the proposition of taxing them in parliament was both cruel and unjust; that by the constitution of the colonies, their business was with the king, and never, in any way, with the chancellor
of the exchequer; that they could not make
any proposition to Grenville
about taxing their constituents by parliament, since parliament had no right to tax them at all; that the notice which they had received bore no marks of being the king's order, or made with his knowledge; that the king had always accompanied his requisition with good words, but that the financier, instead of making a decent demand, had sent a menace, that they should certainly be taxed, and only left them the choice of the manner; and they accordingly ‘resolved, that as they always had, so they always should think it their duty to grant aid to the crown, according to their abilities, whenever required of them in the usual constitutional manner.’48
At the elections in Autumn, the proprietary party representing that ‘the king's little finger would be found heavier than the proprietaries' whole loins,’ succeeded, by about twenty votes among near four thousand, in defeating Franklin
's return as the representative of Philadelphia
But the majority of the new assembly placed in him unabated confidence, and conforming to the happy suggestions of Rhode Island
, they proceeded to an act which in its consequences was to influence the world.
On the twenty-sixth day of October, they elected Benjamin Franklin
their agent, and in spite of the bitter protest of his opponents, he sailed for England
with the sacred charge of the liberties of his country in his custody.
At that time Pennsylvania
was employing her men and her treasure to defend the West
a firm peace with the Indians on the Ohio
desirable to show a strong force in the midst of their settlements.
The regular army was feeble, and could furnish scarcely five hundred men, most of them Highlanders.
, at her own charge, added a thousand, and Virginia
contributed a corps of volunteers.
These took up the march, under Bouquet
, for the heart of Ohio
Virginia volunteers formed the advance guard, the axemen followed to clear three paths.
At the sides, the soldiers marched in single file; in the centre, two deep, followed by the convoy of well-laden pack horses and droves of sheep and oxen; a party of light horsemen came next; again, Virginia volunteers brought up the rear.
With the little army went many who had lost children, or friends, and came to search the wilderness for the captives.
At the fork in the Indian
path, where it branches to the lower towns of the Muskingum
, blazed forest-trees were found marked with emblematic records of deeds of war—the number of scalps taken in battle, and of prisoners that had been saved.
A little below the mouth of Sandy Creek
, beneath a bower erected on the banks of the Tuscarawas
, chiefs and warriors of the Senecas, the Delawares, and the Shawnees, came to light the council-fire, to smoke the calumet, and to entreat for peace.
At the close of the speech, the Delaware
chiefs delivered up eighteen white prisoners and eighty-three small sticks, as pledges for the return of so many more.
To insure the performance of their promises, Bouquet
marched farther into their country, till, at the junction of the White Woman
and the Tuscarawas
the centre of the Indian
villages, he made an encamp
ment that had the appearance of an English town.
There the Shawnees, the most violent and warlike all the tribes, accepting the terms of peace with dejected sullenness, promised by their orator, Red Hawk
, to collect all captives from the lower towns, and restore them in the spring; and there the nearer villages brought their white prisoners to the English
The arrival of the lost ones formed the loveliest scene ever witnessed in the wilderness.
Mothers recognised their once lost babes; sisters and brothers, scarcely able to recover the accent of their native tongue, learned to know that they were children of the same parents.
How does humanity abound in affections!
Whom the Indians spared they loved!
They had not taken the little ones and the captives into their wigwams without receiving them into their hearts, and adopting them into their tribes and families.
To part with them now was anguish to the red men; they shed torrents of tears; they entreated of the white men to show kindness to those whom they restored.
From day to day they visited them in the camp; they gave them corn and skins.
As the English
returned to Pittsburg
, they followed to hunt for them, and bring them provisions.
A young Mingo
would not be torn from a young woman of Virginia
, whom he had taken as his wife.
Some of the children who had been carried away young had learned to love their savage friends, and wept at leaving them.
Some of the captives would not come of themselves, and were not brought away but in bonds.
Who can fathom the mysteries of woman's love?
Some, who were not permitted to remain, clung to their dusky lovers at
parting; others, more faithful still, invented means to
escape, and fly back to their places in the wigwams of their chosen warriors.
With the wilderness pacified, with the French
removed, an unbounded career of happiness and tranquillity seemed opening upon the British
Never was there a moment when the affections of the colonists struggled more strongly toward England
, or when it would have been easier for the mother country to have secured to herself all the benefits of their trade, as well as their good will.
Had the officers in the public employ been wise, had the ministry possessed that moderation which is the test of greatness, independence would not have been seriously thought of. Virginia
, appealing to the king, to the house of lords, and to the house of commons, declared the taxation of America
by the British parliament to be ‘subversive of the fundamental principles of the constitution,’ and dangerous in its example to the empire at home.
But if the people could enjoy ‘their undoubted rights,’ ‘their connection with Britain, the seat of liberty, would be their greatest happiness.’
The people of North Carolina
, in an address of the assembly, claimed the inherent right and exclusive privilege of imposing their own taxes.
But they went no further than to appoint a committee to express their concurrence with the province of Masachusetts.49
At that time, the Assembly of Massachusetts, in the vain hope of being heard by the House of Commons,
yielded to the persuasions of Hutchinson
consented to plead for the liberties and privileges long enjoyed without making the claim of right; and invited England
to be content with the advantages of confining their trade.
So strong was the desire to put aside, if it were possible, the approaching conflict.
, in a methodical statement, with divisions and subdivisions, and a just enumeration of its services in the war, demonstrated, that charging stamp duties, or other internal duties, by authority of parliament, would be such an infringement of the rights, privileges, and authorities of the colonies, that it might be humbly and firmly trusted, and even relied upon, that the supreme guardians of the liberties of the subject would not suffer the same to be done.” In the midst of the strife about taxation, Colden
planned the prostration of the influence of the lawyers, and great landholders, by insisting that in all cases, even in the common law courts, from the verdict of a jury and without a writ of error, there lay the right to appeal to the king.
The judges refused to admit of such appeals.
‘I stand singly,’ said Colden
, ‘in support of the king's prerogative.
All that the owners of the great patents can do will only serve to irritate the ministry; for the king's prerogative will be zealously supported, whatever they may foolishly think of intimidating ministers.’
To the Earl
, he signalized the lawyer, John Morin Scott
, as an incendiary; and entreated the removal of Justice Robert R. Livingston
, who had firmly maintained the validity of the verdict of juries.
In this way the liberal party in New-York
acquired its strength.
The merchants opposed the government from hostility to restrictions on trade; the lawyers, from respect
to the due course of justice; the large land-
holders, from fear of the diminution of their estates, by the arbitrary exertion of the prerogative.
was eager to carry into effect a ‘new arrangement of New England
,’ believing that ‘the proper time for this business was now come’
The two republics of Connecticut
and Rhode Island
were to be dissolved; the government of New-York
extended as far as Connecticut river
; and Massachusetts
was to embrace the country from the Connecticut river
to the Piscataqua
Another colony, with Falmouth
—as its capital, might extend to the Penobscot
, and yet another to the St. John
,’ he continued, ‘would then afford a fine opportunity for trying the experiment of the most perfect form of government for a mature American province.’
A modification of its charter, a certain civil list, an order of nobility for life, and places of profit with sure emoluments, would place the king's authority ‘upon a rock.’50
If the new arrangement were to be conducted by the king in parliament, the consent of the colonies would not be necessary, and the business might soon be brought to a conclusion.
Nor did Bernard
forget to remind Lord Halifax, that once Massachusetts
had for a season established a stamp act.51
, the aged Johnson
, then enjoying ‘sweet retirement’ in the lovely village of Stratford
, familiar with the royalists of New-York
, and the acknowledged organ of the Episcopalians of the north,
thought it no sin to pray to God that ‘the mon-
strously popular constitution’ of Connecticut
might be changed; that the government at home might make but ‘one work’ of bringing ‘all the colonies under one form of government,’52
confidently hoping that the first news in the spring would be, bishops for America
, and all charter governments dependent immediately on the king.53
In Rhode Island
also, the few royalists made known in England
their wish for a change of government.54
The ministry, in December, were deliberating how to present the affairs of America
It was certain that the commons would be all but unanimous in their assertion of the power of parliament; and that the lords would be excited to insolent scorn by the opposite doctrine.
The Board of Trade,55
therefore, represented to the king, that the legislature of Massachusetts, by its votes in Juneof New-York, by its address to Colden
, in September, had been guilty ‘of the most indecent disrespect to the legislature of Great Britain
This the privy council57
reported ‘as a matter of the highest consequence to the kingdom;’ and Halifax58
was ordered to ‘receive the king's pleasure with respect to the time and manner of laying the papers before parliament.’
Having thus made sure in advance of the
support of vast majorities, the ministry retired to
enjoy the Christmas holidays in the country-houses, where wealth, and intelligence, and tradition, conbined to give to aristocratic hospitality its greatest grace, abundance, and refinement.