tion to the parliament of Great Britain,’ and extolling
the ‘English constitution as the most perfect form of government,’ the source of ‘all their civil and religious liberties;’ they argued that, in reason and sound policy, there exists a material distinction between the exercise of a parliamentary jurisdiction in general acts of legislation for the amendment of the common law or the regulation of trade through the whole empire, and the exercise of that jurisdiction by imposing taxes on the colonies; from which they, therefore, entreated to be relieved.
While the Congress
were still anxiously engaged in weighing each word and phrase which they were to adopt, it was rumored that a ship laden with stamps had arrived.
At once, all the vessels in the harbor lowered their colors in sign of grief.
The following night, papers were posted up at the doors of every public office, and at the corners of the streets, in the name of the country, threatening the first man that should either distribute or make use of stamped paper.
‘Assure yourselves,’ thus the stamp distributors were warned, ‘the spirit of Brutus
is yet alive.’
The people grew more and more inflamed, declaring, ‘we will not submit to the Stamp Act upon any account, or in any instance.’
‘In this, we will no more submit to parliament than to the Divan at Constantinople
‘We will ward it off till we can get France
to protect us.’
From mouth to mouth flew the words of John Adams
, ‘You have rights antecedent to all earthly government; rights that cannot be repealed or restrained by human laws; rights derived from the Great Legislator of the Universe.’
In the midst of this intense excitement, the Congress
brought its deliberations to a