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.’1
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, ’