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[124] of the board of trade, was unfolding the plan in the
Chap. Xlviii} 1775. Aug.
house of commons just before Bute retired.

The execution of the design fell to George Grenville. Now Grenville conceived himself to be a whig of the straitest sect, for he believed implicitly in the absolute power of parliament, and this belief he regarded as the great principle of the revolution of 1688. He was pleased with the thought of moulding the whole empire into closer unity by means of parliamentary taxation; but he also preserved some regard for vested rights, and this forbade him to consent to a wilful abrogation of charters. The Americans complained to him that a civil list raised by the British parliament would reduce the colonial assemblies to a nullity; Grenville saw the justice of the objection, disclaimed the purpose, dropped that part of the plan also, and proposed to confine the use of the parliamentary revenue to the expenses of the military establishment. The colonists again interposed with the argument, that by the theory of the British constitution, taxation and representation are inseparable correlatives; to this Grenville listened and answered, that the whole empire was represented collectively, though not distributively, in parliament as the common council; but that, as even in Britain some reform by an increase of the number of voters was desirable, so taxation of the colonies ought to be followed by a special colonial representation; and, with this theory of constitutional law, he passed the stamp act.

When a difference at court drove Grenville from office, his theory lost its importance, for no party in England or America undertook its support. The

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