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[72] Act. A slight modification, leaving some option to
Chap. XXIX.} 1767. April.
the Colonies, would have remedied this disagreement.

The Navigation Acts were a perpetual source of just and ever increasing discontent. But no public body in America had denied their validity; nor was there any reluctance to subordinate American commerce to the general interests of the empire; the relaxations which America most desired were very moderate, relating chiefly to intercourse with the West Indies, and the free export of such of its products as Great Britain would not receive. The illicit trade was partly owing to useless laws, but more to the prevailing corruption among the servants of the crown. No practical question existed, except that which Otis had raised, on the legality of the Writs of Assistance first issued by Hutchinson; and while it was even suggested by one person at least to construe some reported declarations of Otis1 as proofs of treason, and to bring him to trial in England on an impeachment by the House of Commons, the Attorney and Solicitor General of England, established his opinion that the Writs themselves, which had begun the controversy, were not warranted by law.2

1 Lansdowne House Ms., indorsed, ‘Remarks on the Present State of America,’ April, 1767, from Mr. Morgan; Compare Bedford's Opinion, in Lyttelton to Temple, 25 Nov. 1767, in Phillimore's Life and Correspondence of Lyttelton, 743.

2 The opinion of the Attorney and Solicitor General, I could not find in the State Paper office, nor at the Treasury; but that it was adverse to the views of Charles Townshend appears from a letter of Mr. Grey Cooper to Mr. Nuthall, 14 Feb. 1767, in Treasury Letter Book, XXIII. 416, directing him ‘forthwith to lay this matter before Mr. Attorney and Mr. Solicitor General, together with the case and their opinion, for their reconsideration.’ That there was in ‘the reconsideration’ no change of the adverse opinion, may be inferred from the fact, that the Treasury gave up the question, took no step against Malcom, and introduced into the American Revenue Bill just the clause which, from Townshend's point of view, an adverse opinion would have rendered necessary. Besides, had the opinion been favorable to the Crown Officers, it would have been made use of in America.

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