, the Lord Chancellor,
and Charles Yorke
, the Attorney-General
, insisted on the right to tax America; while Grafton
inclined to abdicate the pretended right, and the kind-hearted Rockingham
declared himself ready to repeal a hundred Stamp Acts, rather than run the risk of such confusion as would be caused by enforcing one.
History, too, when questioned, answered ambiguously.
Taxation had become in Great Britain
and in the colonies, a part of the general legislative power, with some reserve in favor of the popular branch of the legislature; in the Middle Age
, on the contrary, when feudal liberties flourished most, the sovereign had large discretion in declaring laws to regulate civil transactions; but the service which he could demand from his vassals was fixed by capitulations and compacts, and could neither be increased, nor commuted for money, except by agreement.
The one side, not yet abandoning the field, ventured to assert, that America
was virtually represented in the British parliament as much as the great majority of the British
people; and while America
treated the pretext as senseless, a large and growing party in England
demanded for all its inhabitants a share in the national council.
Nor was the argument on which the Stamp Act rested, in harmony with the sentiments and convictions of reflecting Englishmen.
Its real authors insisted that protection and obedience are correlative duties; that Great Britain
protected America, and, therefore, America was bound to obedience.
But this is the doctrine of absolute monarchy, not of the British Constitution.