Enforcement of the acts of Navigation.—Grenville's administration continued.
October, 1763—April, 1764.
the stamp act was to be the close of a system of
colonial ‘measures,’ founded, as Grenville
believed, ‘on the true principles of policy, of commerce, and of finance.’1
He, said those who paid him court, is not such a minister as his predecessors; he is neither ignorant like some of them of the importance of the colonies; nor like others, impotently neglectful of their concerns; or diverted by meaner pursuits from attending to them.
is now happy in a minister who sees that the greatest wealth and maritime power of Great Britain
depend on the use of its colonies, and who will make it his highest object to form ‘a well digested, consistent, wise and salutary plan of colonization and government.’2
The extent of the American
illicit trade was very great; in particular, it was thought that of a million
and a half pounds of tea consumed annually in the
colonies, not more than one tenth part was sent from England
held that the contraband was all stolen from the commerce and part of it from the manufactures of Great Britain
, against the fundamental principles of colonization, and the express provisions of the law. Custom had established in the American
ports a compromise between the American
claim to as free trade as the English
, and the British
acts of restriction.
did what none of his predecessors had done: he read the Statute Book
of Great Britain
; and the integrity of his mind revolted at this connivance.
It pleased his austere vanity to be the first and only minister to insist on enforcing the laws,4
which usage and corruption5
had invalidated; and this brought him in conflict with the spirit which
had aroused in Boston
, and which equally pre-
vailed among the descendants of the Dutch
The island of Manhattan
lay convenient to the sea, sheltered by other islands from the ocean; having safe anchorage in deep water for many miles along its shores, inviting the commerce of continents, of the near tropical islands, and of the world.
To-day its ships, fleet, safe, and beautiful in their forms, exceed in amount of tonnage nearly twice over all the commercial marine of Great Britain
at the moment of Grenville
Between its wharfs and the British
harbors, its packets run to and fro, swiftly and regularly, like the weaver's shuttle, weaving the band that joins nations together in friendship.
Its imports of foreign produce are in value equal twice-told to all that was imported into the whole island of Great Britain
Nor does a narrow restrictive policy shut out the foreigner; its port is lively with the display at the mast-head of the flag of every civilized nation of the earth.
People of all countries have free access, so that it seems the representative city of all Europe
, in whose streets may be heard every language that is spoken from the steppes of the Ukraine to the Atlantic
would have interdicted direct foreign commerce and excluded every foreign vessel.
American independence, like the great rivers of the country, had many sources; but the head-spring which colored all the stream was the Navigation Act
Reverence for the colonial mercantile system was branded into Grenville
's mind as deeply and ineffaceably as ever the superstition of witchcraft into a credulous and child-like nature.
It was his ‘idol;’6
he adored it as ‘sacred.’7
He held that Colonies are
only settlements made in distant parts of the world for the improvement of trade; that they would be intolerable except on the conditions contained in the Act of Navigation; that those who, from the increase of contraband, had apprehensions that they may break off their connection with the mother country, saw not half the evil; that wherever the Acts of Navigation are disregarded, the connection is actually broken already.8
Nor did this monopoly seem to him a wrong; he claimed for England
the exclusive trade with its colonies as the exercise of an indisputable right which every state, in exclusion of all others, has to the services of its own subjects.9
His indefatigable zeal could never be satisfied.
All officers of the customs in the colonies were ordered to their posts; their numbers were increased; they were provided with ‘new and ample instructions enforcing in the strongest manner the strictest attention to their duty;’ every officer that failed or faltered was instantly to be dismissed.
Nor did Grenville
fail to perceive that ‘the restraint and suppression of practices which had long prevailed, would certainly encounter great difficulties in such distant parts of the king's dominions;’ the whole force of the royal authority was therefore invoked in aid.10
The Governors were to make the suppression of the forbidden trade with foreign nations the constant and immediate object of their care.
All officers, both civil, and military, and naval, in America
and the West Indies
, were to give their cooperation.
‘We depend,’ said a memorial from the
treasury, ‘upon the sea-guard as the likeliest means for accomplishing these great purposes,’ and that sea-guard was to be extended and strengthened as far as the naval establishments would allow.
To complete the whole, and this was a favorite part of Grenville
's scheme, a new and uniform system of Courts of Admiralty was to be established.
On the very next day after this memorial was presented, the king himself in council gave his sanction to the whole system.11
Forthwith orders were issued directly to the Commander-in-chief
that the troops under his command should give their assistance to the officers of the revenue for the effectual suppression of contraband trade.12
Nor was there delay in following up the new law to employ the navy to enforce the Navigation Acts
To this end Admiral Colville
the naval Commander-in-chief
on the coasts of North America
, from the river St. Lawrence
to Cape Florida
and the Bahama Islands
, became the head of a new corps of revenue officers.
Each captain of his squadron had customhouse commissions and a set of instructions from the Lords Commissioners
of the Admiralty
for his guidance; and other instructions were given them by the Admiral
to enter the harbors or lie off the coasts of America
; to qualify themselves by taking the usual custom-house oaths to do the office of customhouse
officers; to seize such persons as were suspected
by them to be engaged in illicit trade.
The promise of large emoluments in case of forfeitures stimulated their natural and irregular vivacity14
to enforce laws which had become obsolete, and they pounced upon American property as they would have gone in war in quest of prize-money.
Even at first their acts were equivocal, and they soon came to be as illegal as they were oppressive.
There was no redress.
An appeal to the Privy Council was costly and difficult, and besides, when as happened before the end of the year,15
an officer had to defend himself on an appeal, the suffering colonists were exhausted by the delay and expenses, while the treasury took care to indemnify their agent.
The rule adopted for colonizing America, was founded on the uniform principle of grants of lands from the crown, subject to quit-rent; so that the new settlements would consist entirely of the king's tenants,16
and would owe their landlord a large annual rental.
In the small West India islands
, an agrarian law set bounds to the cupidity for land.
Egmont, the new head of the admiralty, an upright and able, but eccentric man, preferred the feudal system to every form of government, and made a plan for establishing it in the isle of St. John
This reverie of a visionary he desired to apply to all the conquered countries, to Acadia
on the north; and to the two Floridas on the south, which were to be divided into great baronies, each composed of a hundred vassals.
In each province
there were to be castles, fortified, casemated,
and armed with cannon, placed near enough to preserve a connection.
The contemptuous neglect of his project17
inclined him to think lightly of Grenville
's ability, and to hate him,18
nor did he forgive Hillsborough
for his opposition.
In forming the new territory into provinces, the fear of danger from large states led to the division of Florida
; for it was held to be good policy to enhance the difficulties of union among the colonies by increasing the number of independent governments.19
The boundary of Massachusetts
, both on the east and on the north, was clearly defined; extending on the east to the St. Croix
, and on the north leaving to the province of Quebec
the narrow strip only, from which the water flows into the St. Lawrence
, or the province of Quebec
, as it was called, the narrower boundaries, on which Shelburne had insisted, were adopted.
All that lay to the west of Lake Nepising, and all the country beyond the Alleghanies
, were, by a solemn proclamation, shut against the emigrant, from the fear that remote colonies would claim the independence which their position would favor.
had conquered the west and dared not make use of it. She went to war for the Ohio valley
, and having got possession of it, set it apart to be kept as a desert.
A puny policy would have pulled down
the monument to Pitt
's name at the head of the Ohio
and have brought all the settlers to this side the mountains.
‘The country to the westward of our frontiers, quite to the Mississippi
, was intended to be a desert for the Indians to hunt in and inhabit.’
Such a policy was impossible; already there was at Detroit
the seed of a commonwealth.
The long protracted siege drew near its end. The belts sent in all directions by the French
, reached the nations on the Ohio
and Lake Erie
that their old allies would depart; the garrison in the Peorias was withdrawn; the fort Massiac was dismantled; its cannon sent to St. Genevieve
, the oldest settlement of Europeans in Missouri
The missionary, Forget, retired.
the message to all the nations on the Ohio
was explained to the Piankishaws, who accepted the belts and the calumets.
The courier who took the belt to the north, offered peace to all the tribes wherever he passed;24
and to Detroit
, where he arrived on the last day of October, he bore a letter of the nature of a proclamation, informing the inhabitants of the cession of Canada
; another, addressed to twenty-five nations by name, to all the Red Men
, and particularly to Pontiac
, chief of the Ottawas; a third to the commander, expressing a readiness to surrender to the English
all the forts on the Ohio
, and east of the Mississippi
The next morning Pontiac
sent to Gladwin
, that he accepted the peace which his father, the
, had sent him, and desired all that had passed
might be forgot on both sides.25
Friendly words were exchanged, though the formation of a definitive treaty of peace was referred to the Commander-in-Chief
The savages dispersed to their hunting grounds.
Nothing could restrain the Americans
from peopling the wilderness.
To be a freeholder was the ruling passion of the New England
man. Marriages were early and very fruitful.
The sons, as they grew up, skilled in the use of the axe and the rifle, would, one after another, move from the old homestead, and with a wife, a yoke of oxen, a cow, and a few husbandry tools, build a small hut in some new plantation, and by tasking every faculty of mind and body, win for themselves plenty and independence.
Such were they who began to dwell among the untenanted forests that rose between the Penobscot
and the Sainte Croix
, or in the New Hampshire
Grants, on each side of the Green Mountains
, or in the exquisitely beautiful valley of Wyoming
, where on the banks of the Susquehanna
, the wide and rich meadows, shut in by walls of wooded mountains, attracted emigrants from Connecticut
, though their claim of right under the charter of their native colony was in conflict with the territorial jurisdiction of the proprietaries of Pennsylvania
The mild climate of the south drew the herdsmen till further into the interior.
In defiance of reiterated royal mandates, Virginian adventurers outgrew all limits of territorial parishes, and seated themselves on the New River
, near the Ohio
, in the forbidden valley of
; and not even the terrors of border
wars with the savages ‘could stop the enthusiasm of running backwards to hunt for fresh lands,’26
in men who loved no enjoyment like that of perfect persona] freedom in the companionship of nature.
annually passed the Cumberland Gap
, gave names to the streams and rocky ridges of Tennessee
, and with joyous confidence chased game in the basin of the Cumberland river
On all the waters, from the Holston river
to the head springs of the Kentucky
and the Cumberland
, there dwelt not one single human inhabitant.
It was the waste forest and neutral ground that divided the Cherokees from the Five Nations and their dependents.
The lovely region had been left for untold years the paradise of wild beasts, which had so filled the valley with their broods, that a thrifty hunter could, in one season, bring home peltry worth sixteen hundred dollars.28
So the Mississippi valley
was entered at Pittsburg
, on the New River
, and on the Holston
It was only Florida
, the new conquest, accepted in exchange for Havana
, that civilized men left as a desert.
When, in July, possession of it was taken, the whole number of its inhabitants, of every age and sex, men, wives, children, and servants, was three thousand, and of these the men were almost all in the pay of the Catholic King
The possession of it had cost Spain
nearly two hundred and thirty thousand
dollars annually; and now Spain
, as a compen-
sation for Havana
, made over to England
the territory which occasioned this fruitless expense.
Most of the people, receiving from the Spanish
treasury indemnity for their losses, migrated to Cuba
, taking with them the bones of their saints and the ashes of their distinguished dead; leaving, at St. Augustine
, their houses of stone, in that climate imperishable, without occupants, and not so much as a grave tenanted.
The western province of Florida
extended west and north to the Mississippi
, in the latitude of thirty-one degrees.
On the twentieth of October the French
surrendered the post of Mobile
, with its brick fort,30
which was fast crumbling to ruins.
A month later the
slight stockade at Tombecbe,31
in the west of the Choctaw
country, was delivered up. In all this England
gained nothing for the time but an unhealthy station for her troops, for whom there was long no shelter but low huts of bark.
To secure peace at the south, the Secretary of State
had given orders32
to invite a congress of the southern tribes, the Catawbas, Cherokees, Creeks, Chicasaws and Choctaws; and in a convention held on the tenth of November, at Augusta
, at which the governors of Virginia
and the colonies south of it were present, the peace with the Indians33
of the south and southwest was ratified.
The head man and chiefs of both the upper and lower Creek nations, whose warriors were thirty-six hundred in number,
agreed to extend the frontier of the settlement
From this time dates the prosperity of that province, of which the commerce, in ten years, increased almost five fold.
For these vast regions Grenville
believed he was framing a perfect system of government.
If he was ignorant as to America
, in England
he understood his position, and proudly and confidently prepared to meet that assembly, in which English ambition contends for power.
His opponents were divided, Charles Yorke
, the attorney-general
, had resigned, but so reluctantly, that in doing it he burst out into tears.
and his friends designed him as their candidate for the high station of Lord Chancellor, which was the great object of his ambition.
would never hear of it. ‘My resistance of my Lord Mansfield's influence,’ said he, ‘is not made in animosity to the man, but in opposition to his principles.’
Since through Charles Yorke
the ways of thinking of Lord Mansfield would equally prevail in Westminster Hall, he cared not to hear the name of Yorke sound the highest among the long robe, and he dismissed from his mind the vain dream that any solid union on revolution principles was possible under the various entanglements.34
So when parliament assembled, Yorke
was with the court in principle, and yet a leader of the opposition.
On the first night of the session there were two divisions relating to Wilkes
, and on both the ministers had a majority of nearly three to one.
In the debate on the king's speech and the address,
spoke with great ability;35 Grenville
, in answer-
ing him, went through all the business of the summer, and laid before the house his plans of economy; contrasting them with the profusion which had marked the conduct of the war. He was excessively applauded during the whole course of his speech, and afterwards complimented and congratulated by numbers of people upon the firmness of his conduct and the establishment of the king's government, which now seemed thoroughly settled.
The king repeated to him the praises bestowed on the superiority of talent and judgment with which he had spoken.36
In the ensuing debate on the question, whether the privilege of parliament preserved a member from being taken up for writing and publishing a libel, Charles Yorke
, the great lawyer of the Rockingham
whigs, spoke against the claim of privilege, and the house decided by a great majority, that a member of parliament, breaking the laws, is not privileged against arrest.
Nor would Grenville
or the king brook opposition; Barre
, the gallant associate of Wolfe
, was dismissed from the army for his votes, and the brave and candid Conway
from the army and from his place in the bed-chamber.
Shelburne also was not to remain the king's aidde-camp.
The House of Commons entering upon the consideration of supplies with entire confidence in the minister, readily voted those necessary for the military establishment in the colonies; and this was followed
by a renewed grant of the land-tax, which, at four
shillings in the pound, produced a little more than two million pounds sterling.
promised that the tax should be continued at that rate for only two years after the peace; and then should be reduced to three shillings in the pound, an easement to the landed interest of five hundred thousand pounds. Huske
, the new member for Malden
, once subservient to Charles Townshend
, a native of New-Hampshire
, educated at Boston
, the same who nearly nine years before had in 1755 foreshadowed the stamp-tax,37
and had publicly pledged himself to propose38
a plan for defraying all the expenses of the military service in America
by a fund on the colonies, a man who was allowed to understand the colonies very well, seized an opportunity39
to renew his proposal, boasting that taxes might be laid on the colonies to yield £ 500,000, which would secure the promised relief to the country gentlemen.
This sum, he insisted, the Americans
were well able to pay, and he was heard by the House
with great joy and attention,40
betraying his native land for the momentary
pleasure of being cheered by the aristocracy, which was soon to laugh at him.41
the force of opposition was broken.
came penitently and regretfully to Grenville
to mourn over his mistake in resigning office, and make complaint of the exigency of the times which had whirled him out of so eminent and advantageous a post in the law; and Grenville
felt himself so strong as to dare to slight him. Even Charles Townshend
was ready to renounce the friendship of Pitt
, and his manifest desire of taking office passed unheeded.
Nothing was feared from the opposition in England
Who could look, then, for resistance from America
or forbode danger from a cause on trial in a county court in Virginia
Tobacco was the legalized currency of Virginia
a year of war and consequent interruption of agricultural pursuits, and again in 1758,43
a year of the utmost distress, the legislature indulged the people in the alternative of paying their public dues, including the dues to the established clergy, in money at the fixed rate of two pence for the pound of tobacco.
All but the clergy acquiesced in the law. At their
instance its ratification was opposed by the Bishop
, who remarked on ‘the great change in the temper of the people of Virginia
in the compass of a few years, and the diminution of the prerogative of the crown.’
‘The rights of the clergy and the authority of the king,’ said he, ‘must stand or fall together.’44
And the Act was negatived by the king in council.
The ‘Two-penny Act’ became, therefore, null and void from the beginning; and in the Virginia courts
of law it remained only to inquire by a jury into the amount of damages which the complainants had sustained.45
was one of those engaged to plead against ‘the parsons,’ whose cause was become a contest between the prerogative and the people of Virginia
When a boy, he had learned something of Latin; of Greek
, the letters; but nothing methodically.
It had been his delight to wander alone with the gun or the angling-rod; or by some sequestered stream to enjoy the ecstasy of meditative idleness.
He married at eighteen; attempted trade; toiled unsuccessfully as a farmer; then with buoyant mind resolved on becoming a lawyer; and answering questions successfully by the aid of six weeks study of Coke
and the Statutes of Virginia
, he gained a license as a barrister.
For three years the novice dwelt under the roof of his father-in-law, an inn-keeper near Hanover Courthouse, ignorant of the science of law, and slowly learning its forms.
On the first day of December, as Patrick Henry
entered the court, before which he had never spoken,
he saw on the bench more than twenty clergymen, the most learned men in the colony; and the house was filled and surrounded by an overwhelming multitude.
To the select jury which had been summoned, Maury
, ‘the parson’ whose cause was on trial, made objections; for he thought them of ‘the vulgar herd,’ and three or four of them dissenters of the sect called ‘New Lights.’
‘They are honest men,’ said Henry, ‘and therefore unexceptionable;’ and the court being satisfied, ‘they were immediately called to the book and sworn.’
The course of the trial was simple.
The contract was, that Maury
should be paid sixteen thousand pounds of tobacco: the act of 1758 fixed the value at two pence a pound; in 1759 it had been worth thrice that sum. The council for the clergy briefly explained the standard of their damages, and gave a high-wrought eulogium on their benevolence.
The forest-born orator, of whose powers none yet were conscious, rose awkwardly to reply, but faltered only as he began.
He built his argument on the natural right of Virginia
to self-direction in her affairs, pleading against the prerogative of the crown, and the civil establishment of the church, against monarchy and priestcraft.
The act of 1758, having every characteristic of a good law, and being of general utility, could not, consistently with the original compact between king and people, be annulled.
‘A king,’ he added, ‘who annuls or disallows laws of so salutary a nature, from being the father of his people, degenerates into a tyrant, and forfeits all right to obedience.’
At this assertion, the opposing counsel cried out aloud to the
bench, ‘The gentleman has spoken treason.’
ists too, in the crowd, raised a confused murmur of ‘treason, treason, treason.’
‘The harangue’ thought one of the hearers, ‘exceeds the most seditious and inflammatory of the most seditious tribunes in Rome
Some seemed struck with horror; some said afterwards, their blood ran cold, and their hair stood on end. The multitude, wrapt in silence, filling every spot in the house, and every window, bent forward to catch the words of the patriot, as he proceeded.
He defined the use of an established church and of the clergy in society: ‘When they fail to answer those ends,’ said he, ‘the community have no further need of their ministry, and may justly strip them of their appointments.
In this particular instance, by obtaining the negative of the law in question, instead of acquiescing in it, they ceased to be useful members of the state, and ought to be considered as enemies of the community.’
‘Instead of countenance they very justly deserve to be punished with signal severity.’
‘Except you are disposed,’ thus he addressed the jury, ‘yourselves to rivet the chains of bondage on your own necks, do not let slip the opportunity now offered of making such an example of the reverend plaintiff as shall hereafter be a warning to himself and his brothers, not to have the temerity to dispute the validity of laws authenticated by the only sanction which can give force to laws for the government of this colony, the authority of its own legal representatives, with its council and governor.’
Thus he pleaded for the liberty of the continent, and its independence of all control from England
over its legislature; treating the negative of the king in council as itself in equity a nullity.
The cause seemed to involve
only the interests of the clergy, and Henry made it
the cause of the people of America
The jury promptly rendered a verdict of a penny damages.
A motion for a new trial was refused: an appeal was granted.
But the verdict being received, there was no redress.
The vast throng gathered in triumph round their champion, child of the yeomanry, who on that day had taught them to aspire to religious liberty and legislative independence.
‘The crime of which Henry is guilty,’ wrote one of the clergy, ‘is little, if any, inferior to that which brought Simon
Lord Lovat to the block.’
For ‘the vindication of the king's injured honor and authority,’ they urged the punishment of the young Virginian
, and a list was furnished of witnesses against him. But Patrick Henry
knew not fear; nor did his success conquer his aversion to the old black letter of the law books.
Though he removed to the county of Louisa
, in quest of business, he loved the green wood better even than before, and would hunt deer for days together, taking his only rest under the trees; and as he strolled through the forest, with his ever ready musket in his hand, his serene mind was ripening for duty, he knew not how, by silent communion with nature.
The movement in Virginia
was directed against
Vague rumors prevailed of new commercial and fiscal regulations, to be made by act of parliament;46
and yet Americans
refused to believe it possible that the British
legislature would wilfully subvert their liberty.
No remonstrance was prepared
against the impending measures, of which the extent
was kept secret.
, in January, 1764, with a view to effect the greatest possible reduction of the duty on foreign West Indian products, elected Hutchinson
as its joint agent with Mauduit
But before he could leave the province, the house began to distrust him, and by a majority of two, excused him from the service.47
The designs of government were confided to the crown officers in America
For generations they, and their predecessors, had been urging the establishment of a parliamentary revenue for their support.
They sought office in America
for its emoluments; the increase and security of those emoluments formed their whole political system.
When they learned that the taxes which they had so long and so earnestly recommended, were to be applied exclusively to the support of the army, they shrunk from upholding obnoxious measures, which to them were to bring no profit.
They were disheartened, and began to fear that provision for the civil list, the only object they cared for, was indefinitely postponed.
In their view, the regulation and the reformation of the American
government was become a necessary work, and should take precedence of all other business.
They would have a parliamentary regulation of colonial charters, and a certain and sufficient civil list,48
laid upon perpetual funds.
, accepting the opinions of his secretary, Jackson
, refused to become the attorney for American office-holders, or the founder of a stupendous system of colonial patronage and corruption.
His policy looked mainly to the improvement
of the finances, and the alleviation of the burdens
which pressed upon the country gentlemen of England
urged the payment of the salaries of the crown officers in the colonies, directly from England
, in accordance with the system which he had been maturing since 1748, Grenville
would not consent to it; and though Halifax
, at a formal interview with him, at which Hillsborough and Jenkinson
were present, became extremely heated and eager,49 Grenville
Nor would he listen to the suggestion, that the revenue to be raised in America
should constitute a fund to be disposed of under the sign manual of the king; he insisted that it should be paid into the receipt of the Exchequer, to be regularly appropriated by parliament.50
Nor did Grenville
ever take part in the schemes which were on foot to subvert the charters of the colonies, and control their domestic government.
Nor did he contribute to confer paramount authority on the military officers
On the contrary, he desired to keep the army subordinate to the law. He did not, indeed, insist that his colleagues should yield to his opinions, but, in parliament and elsewhere, he refrained from favoring the system which would have made the crown officers in America
, wholly independent of American legislatures; and have raised the military power in America
above the civil.
When, therefore, he came to propose
taxes on America
, he was at variance with his col-
leagues, whose rashness he moderated, and whose plan of government he opposed, and with the whole body of colonial office holders, to whose selfishness he refused to minister.
So the plans of Halifax and Charles Townshend
, for the time, fell to the ground Grenville
had but one object, to win the support on the landed gentry, whose favor secured majorities in parliament, and gave a firm tenure of office.
He was narrow-minded and obstinate; but it was no part of his intention to introduce despotic government into the New World.
For a moment the existence of the ministry itself was endangered.
All parties joined in condemning the writings of Wilkes
; and even the extreme measure of his expulsion from his seat in parliament, was carried with only one dissentient vote.52
The opposition, with great address, proceeded to an abstract question
on the legality of general warrants.
They were undoubtedly illegal.
himself was sure of it. He sought, therefore, to change the issue and evade the question by delay; and insisted that a single branch of the legislature ought not to declare law; that to do so would be an encroachment on the power of parliament, and on the functions of the judiciary, before which the question was pending.
, the attorney-general
, said, harshly, that in a court of law the opinion of the House of Commons was worth no more attention than that of so many drunken porters; but Grenville
defended his well-chosen position with exceeding ability, and was said to have outdone himself.53
In a house of four hundred and fifty he es-
caped, but only by a majority of fourteen.
The king felt the vote of the opposition as a personal offence.
‘My nature,’ said he, firmly, ‘ever inclines me to be acquainted with who are my true, and who false friends; the latter I think worse than open enemies.
I am not to be neglected unpunished.’54
In the account Grenville
sent him of the division, marks of being dispirited were obvious, and the king instantly answered, ‘that if he would but hide his feelings, and speak with firmness, the first occasion that offered, he would find his numbers return.’
The minister followed his sovereign's advice, and the event exceeded the most sanguine expectations of both.55
The occasion was offered on presenting the budget.
There were still reasons enough to make Grenville
reluctant to propose a stamp-tax for America
But the wish for it was repeated to him from all classes of men; and was so general, that had he not proposed it, he would not have satisfied the expectations of his colleagues, or the public, or parliament, or the king.
unanimously denied either the justice or the right of the British Parliament, in which America
was not represented, to grant their property to the crown; and this questioning of the power of parliament irritated56
It was an impeachment of his declared belief and of his acts, and his conscience easily condemned opinions which thwarted his ambition.
Besides; as a thorough
whig, he regarded the parliament of England as
in all cases supreme; he knew ‘no other law, no other rule.’57
The later reports of the military commanders58
, accused the colonies of reluctance to furnish the men and money which the commanderin-chief had required.59
The free exercise of deli berative powers by the colonial assemblies, seemed to show a tendency for self-direction and legislative independence, which might even reach the Acts of Navigation.
Forged letters of Montcalm
, too, were exhibited to Grenville
in which American independence at an early day was predicted as the consequence of the conquest of Canada
Lord Mansfield, who believed the letters genuine,61
was persuaded, as were others, that the dependence of the colonies was endangered.
had been ‘made to believe’ that the Americans
were able to contribute to the revenue, and he had little reason to think them so stubborn as to refuse the payment of a tax. There was not the least disposition in the agents of the colonies to oppose it;62
and the agent of Massachusetts
made a merit of his submission.63
had for years watched the ripening of the
measure, and could not conceal his joy at its adoption.64 Thomas Pownall
, ‘the fribble,’65
who had been Governor
, and is remembered as one who grew more and more liberal as he grew old, openly contended for an American revenue to ‘be raised by customs on trade, a stamp-duty, a moderate land-tax in lieu of quit rents, and an excise.’66
But on the other hand, Jackson
's able secretary, so well acquainted with the colonies, would never himself be privy to any measures taken with respect to the Stamp-Act, after having formally declined giving any other advice on the subject, excepting that which he had always given, to lay the project aside.67
too, then first Lord
of the Board of Trade, as yet retained enough of the spirit of an Irishman to disapprove a direct taxation of a dependency of the British
empire by a British Act of Parliament.
He gave his advice against the stamp-tax, and to the last withheld from it his support; so that Grenville
, in proposing it, was sustained neither by the civil office-holders in America
, who had been and were still so clamorous for parliamentary interference, nor by the Board of Trade, which was the very author of the system.
The traditions of the whig party, too, whose principles Grenville
claimed to represent, retained the
of Sir Robert Walpole
, and questioned the
wisdom of deriving a direct parliamentary revenue from America
‘Many members of the House of Commons declared against the stamp-duty, while it was mere matter of conversation.’70
Nor could Grenville
have been ignorant that Pitt
had in vain been urged to propose an American Stamp-Tax.
The force of the objection derived from the want of representation on the part of America
did not escape the consideration of Grenville
He accepted the theory of the British Constitution, which regarded the House of Commons as a representative body.
In his inner mind he recognised, and to one friend he confessed, the propriety of allowing America
representation in the body by which it should be taxed, and at least wished that parliament would couple the two measures.
But he shunned the responsibility of proposing such a representation; and chose to risk offending the colonies, rather than forfeit the favor of parliament.
He looked about him, therefore, as was always his method, for palliatives, that he might soothe the colonies, and yet gratify the landed gentry.
It was under such circumstances that Thomas Penn
, one of the proprietaries of Pennsylvania
, with Allen
, a loyal American, then Chief Justice
under a proprietary appointment, and Richard Jackson
, sought an interview with Grenville
They seem to have offered no objection to the intended new act of trade; but reasoned against entering on a system of direct taxation.
The stamp-duty, they said, was an internal regulation; and they entreated that it might be postponed till some sort of consent
to it should be given by the Assemblies, to prevent a
tax of that nature from being laid without the consent of the colonies.71 Huske
, too, repenting of his eager zeal in promising a revenue from America
, joined in entreating delay, that opportunity might be given for America
to be heard.
's colleagues did not share his scruples; but his mind was accustomed to balance opinions; and he desired to please all parties.
He persisted, therefore, in the purpose of proposing a stamp-tax, but also resolved to show what he called ‘tenderness’ to the colonies, and at the risk of being scoffed at by the whole Bedford
party for his feebleness and hesitancy, he consented to postpone the tax for a year.
He also attempted to reconcile America to his new regulations.
In doing this he still continued within the narrow limits of protection.
The British consumption of foreign hemp amounted in value to three hundred thousand pounds a year.
was willing to shake off the precarious dependence upon other countries.
The bounties on hemp and flax, first given in the time of Queen Anne,72
had been suffered to drop; for, having never been
called for, they had fallen into oblivion.
ment was again renewed; and a bounty of eight pounds per ton for seven years, then of six pounds for seven years, then of four pounds for as many more, was granted on hemp or undressed flax imported from America
But as to manufactures, it was expected that no American would be ‘so unreasonable or so rash’ as to engage in the establishment of linen manufactories there, even of ‘the coarser kinds’ of linens; for in that case ‘not prohibitory laws, but laws to which no American could form an objection, would effectually thwart all their endeavors,’74
as the exigencies of the state required that Great Britain
should disappoint American establishments of manufactures as ‘contrary to the general good.’75
To South Carolina
special indulgence was shown; following the line of precedent,76
rice, though an enumerated commodity, was, on the payment of a half subsidy, allowed to be carried directly to any part of America
, to the southward of those colonies; that is, to the foreign West India islands
so that the broken and mowburnt rice might be sold as food for negroes, and good rice made cheaper for the British
The boon that was to mollify New England
was concerted with Israel Mauduit
, acting for his brother; the agent of Massachusetts
, and was nothing less than
the whale fishery.78 Great Britain
had sought to com-
pete with the Dutch
in that branch of industry; had, fostered it by bounties; had relaxed the act of navigation, so as to invite even the Dutch
to engage in it from British ports in British shipping.
But it was all in vain.
gave up the unsuccessful attempt, and sought a rival for Holland in British America, which had hitherto lain under the double discouragement, of being excluded from the benefit of a bounty, and of having the products of its whale fishing taxed unequally.
He now adopted the plan of gradually giving up the bounty to the British
whale fishery, which would be a saving of thirty thousand pounds79
a year to the Treasury, and of relieving the American
fishery from the inequality of the discriminating duty, except the old subsidy, which was scarcely one per cent.80
This is the most liberal act of Grenville
's administration, of which the merit is not diminished by the fact, that the American
whale fishery was superseding the English
under every discouragement.
It required liberality to accept this result as inevitable, and to favor it. It was done too, with a distinct conviction that ‘the American
whale fishery, freed from its burthen, would soon totally overpower the British
So this valuable branch of trade, which produced annually three hundred thousand pounds, and which would give employment to many shipwrights and other artificers, and to three thousand seamen,81
was resigned to America
The gain would, in the first instance, be the gain of
, but the mother country, reasoned Grenville
, feels herself benefited by the welfare of every particular colony; and the colonies must much more contribute interchangeably to the advantage of each other.
Such was the system of regulations for the colonies, prepared under the direction of Grenville
, with minute and indefatigable care.
It was after these preparations, that on the memorable ninth day of March, 1764, George Grenville
made his first appearance in the House of Commons as Chancellor
of the Exchequer, to unfold the budget.
He did it with art and ability.82
He boasted that the revenue was managed with more frugality than in the preceding reign.
He explained his method of funding the debt.
He received great praise for having reduced the demands from Germany
The whole sum of these claims amounted to nearly nine millions of pounds, and were settled for about thirteen hundred thousand pounds. The demands from the Landgrave of Hesse
still exceeded seventeen hundred thousand pounds, and he was put off with a payment of one hundred and fifty thousand pounds. The taxes of Great Britain
exceeded, by three millions of pounds, what they were in 1754, before the war; yet the present object was only to make the colonies maintain their own army.
Till the last war, they had never contributed to the support of an army at all. Besides the taxes on trade, which were immediately to be imposed, Grenville
gave notice in the house,83
that it was his
intention, in the next session, to bring in a bill im-
posing stamp-duties in America
, and the reasons for giving such notice were, because he understood some people entertained doubts of the power of parliament to impose internal taxes in the colonies; and because that, although of all the schemes which had fallen under his consideration, he thought a stamp-act was the best, he was not so wedded to it as to be unwilling to give it up for any one that might appear more eligible; or if the colonies themselves thought any other mode would be more expedient, he should have no objections to come into it, by act of parliament.
At that time the merits of the question were opened at large.
The opposition were publicly called upon to deny, if they thought it fitting, the right of the legislature to impose any tax, internal or external, on the colonies; and not a single person ventured to controvert that right.
Upon a solemn question, asked in a full house,84
there was not one negative.
‘As we are stout,’ said Beckford
, ‘I hope we shall be merciful;’ and no other made a reply.
On the fourteenth of March, Charles Jenkinson
from a committee, on which he had for his associates, Grenville
and Lord North, reported a bill modifying and perpetuating the act of 1733, with some changes to the disadvantage of the colonies; an extension of the navigation acts, making England
storehouse of Asiatic as well — as of European
plies; a diminution of drawbacks on foreign articles exported to America
; imposts in America
, especially on wines; a revenue duty instead of a prohibitory duty on foreign molasses; an increased duty on sugar; various regulations to sustain English manufactures, as well as to enforce more diligently the acts of trade; a prohibition of all trade between America
and St. Pierre and Miquelon.
The only opposition came from Huske
who observed, that the colonies ought first to have notice and an opportunity of laying before the House
, by their agents, any objections they may have to such a measure.
The bill was rapidly carried through its several stages, was slightly amended, on the fourth of April was agreed to by the lords, and on the next day was approved by the king.
had avowedly undertaken to give and grant imposts on the American
The preamble declared that this was a contribution ‘towards’ the requisite revenue which was said to be fixed at £ 330,000.87
‘These new taxes,’ wrote Whately
, the joint Secretary of the Treasury
, ‘will certainly not be sufficient to defray that share of the American
expense, which America
ought and is able to bear.
Others must be added.’88
That this was intended appeared also from the bill itself.
This act had for the first time the title of ‘granting duties in the colonies and plantations of America
; for the first time it was asserted in the preamble, that it was just and necessary that a revenue should be raised there;’ and the Commons expressed themselves
‘desirous to make some provision in the pre-
sent session of parliament toward raising the said revenue’89
, who put on the appearance of candor, endeavored to gain acquiescence in the proposed stamp act; and when the agents waited upon him, to know what could be done to avert it, he answered:
I have proposed the resolution in the terms that parliament has adopted, from a real regard and tenderness for the subjects in the colonies.
It is highly reasonable they should contribute something towards the charge of protecting themselves, and in aid of the great expense Great Britain put herself to on their account.
No tax appears to me so easy and equitable as a stamp duty.90 It will fall only upon property, will be collected by the fewest officers, and will be equally spread over America and the West Indies.91 What ought particularly to recommend it is the mode of collecting it, which does not require any number of officers vested with extraordinary powers of entering houses, or extend a sort of influence which I never wished to increase.
The colonists now have it in their power, by agreeing to this tax, to establish a precedent for their being consulted before any tax is imposed on them by parliament;92 for their approbation of it being signified to parliament next year, when the tax comes to be imposed, will afford a forcible argument for the like proceeding in all such cases.
If they think any
other mode of taxation more convenient to them, and make any proposition of equal efficacy with the stamp-duty, I will give it all due consideration.
Ibid, p 35.
did not propose a requisition on the colonies, or invite them to tax themselves;93
the delay granted was only for form's sake,94
and with the hope of winning from them some expression of assent,95
and was in itself a subject of censure and discontent among the more thorough reformers of colonial governments.
No hope was given that parliament would forego taxing America.
On the contrary, it was held to be its bounden duty to do so. To a considerate and most respectable merchant, a member of the House of Commons, who was making a representation against proceeding with the stamp act, Grenville
answered, ‘If the stamp duty is disliked, I am willing to change it for any other equally productive.
If you object to the Americans
being taxed by parliament, save yourself
the trouble of the discussion, for I am determined
on the measure.’96
The whole weight of the British Legislature
, too, was brought to intimidate the colonists.
They were apprised that not a single member of either house doubted of the right of parliament to impose a stamp-duty or any other tax upon the colonies;97
and that every influence might be moved to induce them to yield, the king, in April, at the prorogation, gave to what he called ‘the wise regulations’ of Grenville
his ‘hearty approbation.’98
Out of doors the measures were greatly applauded.
It seemed as if the vast external possessions of England
were about to be united indissolubly with the mother country by one comprehensive commercial system.
Even Thomas Pownall
, once governor of Massachusetts
, who, not destitute of liberal feelings, had repeatedly predicted the nearness of American Independence, was lost in admiration of ‘the great minister,’ who was taking ‘pains to understand the commerce and interests’ of the plantations, and with ‘firmness and candor’ entering seriously upon regulating their affairs;99
and he prayed that Grenville
might live to see the power, prosperity and honor that must be given to his country, by so great and important an event as his interweaving the administration of the colonies into the British