Charles Townshend Usurps the lead in Government— Chatham
's Administration continued.
October, 1766—January, 1767.
the people of Massachusetts
into the belief that they were ‘restored once more’ to the secure enjoyment ‘of their rights and liberties.’
But their secret enemies, some from a lust of power, and others from an inordinate love of money,1
still restlessly combined to obtain an American army and an American tribute, representing them in numerous letters as necessary for the enforcement of the Navigation Acts
, and even for the existence of Government.
When the soldiers stationed in New-York
had, in the night2
of the tenth of August, cut down the flagstaff of the citizens, the General
reported the ensuing quarrel as a proof of ‘anarchy and confusion,’ and the requisiteness of troops for the support of ‘the laws.’3
Yet the New-York Association
of the Sons of Liberty had been dissolved; and all efforts to keep up ‘its glorious spirit,’ were subor
dinated to loyalty.4
‘A few individuals’5
having celebrated the anniversary of the outbreak against the Stamp Act, care was taken to report, how healths had been drunk to Otis
, ‘the American Hampden
, who first proposed the Congress
‘to the Virginians,’ who sounded the alarm to the country; to Paoli
and the struggling Corsicans
; to the spark of Liberty that was thought to have been kindled in Spain
, who made the restraints on commerce intolerable by claiming the legal penalty of treble forfeits from merchants whom his own long collusion had tempted to the infraction of a revenue law, came unintermitted complaints of illicit trade.
, now Portland
, an attempt to seize goods under the disputed authority of Writs of Assistance, had been defeated by a mob;7
and the disturbance was made to support a general accusation against the Province.
, Charles Paxton
, the Marshal
of the Court of Admiralty, came with the Sheriff
and a similar warrant, to search the house of Daniel Malcom8
for a second time; but the stubborn patriot refused to open his doors, which they dared not break down, so doubtful were they of their right; and when the altercation attracted a crowd, they withdrew, pretending to have been obstructed by a riotous and tumultuous assemblage, These incidents, by themselves of little moment, were secretly
reported as a general rising against the execution of
the Laws of Trade.
But the chief reliance of the cabal rested on personal importunity; and the untiring Paxton
, who had often visited England
, and was known to possess as much of the friendship of Charles Townshend
as a selfish client may obtain from an intriguing patron, was sent over as the representative of the colonial Crown Officers9
, with special authority to appear as the friend of Oliver10
and of Hutchinson
We are drawing near the measures which compelled the insurrection of the colonies; but all the stars in their courses were harbingers of American Independence.
No sooner were the prairies of Illinois
in the possession of England
, a deputy Indian Agent, who from personal observation knew their value, urged their immediate colonization.
Sir William Johnson
; William Franklin
, the royalist Governor of New Jersey
; several fur-traders of Philadelphia
; even Gage12
himself eagerly took part in a project by which they were to acquire vast estates in the most fertile valley of the world.13
Their proposal embraced the whole Western territory bounded by the Mississippi
, the Ohio
, a line along the Wabash
to Lake Erie
, and thence across Michigan
, and the Fox River
, to the mouth of
The tract was thought to contain sixty-three millions of acres, the like of which could nowhere be found.
favored the enterprise which promised fortune to its undertakers, and to America
some new security for a mild colonial Administration.
It was the wish of Shelburne,15
who loved to take counsel with the great philosopher on the interests of humanity, that the Valley of the Mississippi
might be occupied by colonies enjoying English liberty.
But the Board of Trade, to which Hillsborough had returned,16
insisted that emigrants to so remote regions would establish manufactures for themselves; and in the very heart of America
, found a power, which distance must emancipate.
They adhered, therefore, to the Proclamation of 1763, and to the range of the Alleghanies
as the frontier of British settlements.
But the prohibition only set apart the Great Valley
as the sanctuary of the unhappy, the adventurous, and the free; of those whom enterprise, or curiosity, or disgust at the forms of life in the old plantations, raised above royal edicts;17
of those who had nowhere else a home; or who would run all risks to take possession of the fine soil between the Alleghanies
and the Ohio
The boundless West
became the poor
man's City of Refuge
where the wilderness guarded
his cabin as inviolably as the cliff or the cedar-top holds the eagle's eyrie.
The few who occupied lands under grants from the Crown, could rely only on themselves for the protection of their property, and refused to pay quit-rents till their legal right should be acknowledged.
The line of ‘straggling settlements’ beyond the mountains, extended from Pittsburg
up the Monongahela20
and its tributaries to the banks of the Greenbriar and the New River
and to the well-known upper valley of the Holston
where the military path from Virginia
led to the country of the Cherokees.
But as yet there was no settlement in Kentucky
, and James Smith
, who, with three others from Pennsylvania
, went this year from the Holston
, by way of Cumberland River
, to the Ohio
, and so to the mouth of the Tennessee
, left no memorial of his passing by but the name of Stone
, one of his companions, which he gave to a branch above Nashville
Most of the party proceeded to the country of the Illinois
In North Carolina
, the people along the upland frontier, many of whom had sprung from Scotch-Irish
suffered from the illegal exactions of
Sheriffs and officials, whose pillaging was supported by the whole force of Government.
‘The Sons of Liberty,’ said they to one another, ‘withstood the Lords
of Parliament in behalf of true Liberty; let not officers under them carry on unjust oppression in our province.’25
Some of those who were wronged hardly gained by their utmost efforts a scanty subsistence for their families.26
All were loyal; regarding the British
form of government as ‘the wholesomest Constitution in being.’
But they were goaded ‘by the corrupt and arbitrary practices of nefarious and designing men, who, being put into posts of profit and credit among them, and not being satisfied with the legal benefits which arose from the execution of their offices, had been using every artifice, practising every fraud, and where these failed, not sparing threats and menaces whereby to squeeze and extort from the wretched poor.’27
To meet this flood of iniquity, the most approved advice came from Herman Husbands,28
an independent farmer, who dwelt on Sandy Creek
, then in Orange
, now Randolph County
, where he possessed an ample freehold of most fertile land, and cultivated it so well, that his fields of wheat and his ‘clover meadow’29
were the admiration of all observers.
Each neighborhood throughout Orange County
and elected Delegates to a General Meeting
are judiciously to examine,’ such were the instructions given them by their simple-hearted constituents, ‘whether the freemen of this County labor under abuses of power, and in particular to examine into the public taxes, and inform themselves by what laws, and for what uses they are laid, in order to remove some jealousies out of our minds; and the Representatives
, Vestrymen, and other officers are requested to give the Members of said Meeting what information and satisfaction they can; so far as they value the good will of every honest freeholder and rendering the execution of the public offices pleasant and delightsome.’30
In October, chosen men, about twelve in number, assembled at Maddock's Mill, on Enoe River, just outside of Hillsborough
Some of the officers had expressed their willingness to meet the people; but none appeared.
A second invitation was sent to them; but no answer came, except from Edmund Fanning
A favorite and at a later day the sonin-law of Governor Tryon
, he was at that time the Representative
of the County
, one of its magistrates, the highest officer under the Crown in its militia; and was amassing a fortune by oppression as an attorney, and by extortion as Registrar, loading titles to estates with doubts,32
and charging illegal prices for recording Deeds.33
He was, above all others, justly obnoxious to the people; and his message to them
ran, that their proposition to inquire ‘judiciously’
implied an intention of setting up a jurisdiction, and looked more like an insurrection than a settlement.
‘We are no critics in words,’ replied the Meeting;34
‘we know not how many different constructions the term “judiciously” may bear; as to ourselves, we meant no more by it, than wisefully, carefully, and soberly to examine the matter in hand.’
Their wrongs were flagrant and undeniable.
‘Grievous now it is to us,’ they said, ‘to have our substance torn from us by those monsters in iniquity, whose study it is to plunder us.’
And since their ‘reasonable request’ for explanations was unheeded, they resolved on ‘a meeting for a public and free conference yearly, and as often as the case might require,’ that so they might reap the profit of their right under ‘the Constitution
of choosing representatives and of learning what uses their money was called for.’35
Yet their hope of redress was very distant.
How could unlettered farmers succeed against the undivided administrative power of the Province?
And how long would it be before some indiscretion would place them at the mercy of their oppressors?
The apportionment of Members of the colonial Legislature was grossly unequal; the Governor
could create Boroughs; the actual Legislature, whose members were in part unwisely selected, in part unduly returned, rarely called together, and liable to be continued or dissolved at the pleasure of the Governor
, increased the poor man's burdens by voting an annual poll-tax
to raise five thousand pounds, and the next year ten
thousand more, to build a House for the Governor
, the General Court resumed its session near the end of October; and received petitions from the sufferers by the Stamp Act.
The form of its an-
swer was suggested by Joseph Hawley
, the Member for Northampton
He was the only son of a schoolmaster, himself married, but childless; a very able lawyer, of whose singular disinterestedness his native town still preserves the tradition.
Content with a small patrimony, he lived securely in frugal simplicity,37
closing his house door by a latch, without either bar or bolt.
Inclined by temperament to moods of melancholy,38
his mind would again kindle with a brighter lustre, and be borne onwards by its resistless impulses.
All parties revered his purity of life and ardent piety; and no man in his neighborhood equalled him in the public esteem.
relief, except on condition of a general amnesty.
‘Of those seeking compensation,’ said he, ‘the chief is a person of unconstitutional principles, as one day or other he will make appear.’40
The Resolves of Parliament were cited in reply.
‘The Parliament of Great Britain,’ retorted Hawley
, ‘has no right to legislate for us.’
At these words Otis
, rising in his place, bowed and thanked him, saying, ‘He has gone further than I myself have as yet done in this House.’41
It was the first time that the
power of Parliament had been totally denied in a
‘No Representation, no Taxation,’ had become a very common expression; the Colonies were beginning to cry, ‘No Representation, no Legislation.’42
Having never shown bitterness of party spirit, Hawley
readily carried the Assembly with him, from their great opinion of his understanding and integrity; and a Bill was framed, ‘granting compensation to the sufferers and pardon to the offenders,’ even to the returning of the fines which had been paid.
A recess was taken that members might consult their constituents, whose instructions were strictly regarded.43
Yet before the adjournment complaint was made of the new zeal of Bernard
in enforcing the Navigation Acts
and sending to England
injurious affidavits secretly taken.
‘I knew the time,’ interposed a member, ‘when the House
would have readily assisted the Governor
in executing the Laws of Trade.’
‘The times,’ replied Otis
, ‘are altered; we now know our rights.’44
While the mercenary motives which prompted the Governor
's sudden eagerness to suppress illicit trade, incensed the people still more at the captious restraints on navigation, Shelburne sought to recover the affections of the Colonies by acquiring and deserving their confidence.45
‘Assure the Assembly of Massachusetts,’ he said with ‘frankness’46
correspondent, ‘they may be perfectly easy about
the enjoyment of their rights and privileges under the present Administration.’
He enjoined moderation on every Governor, and was resolved to make no appointments but of men of ‘the most generous principles.’
, whom he directed to pursue conciliatory measures,47
he wrote no general approval of his conduct, no censure of the Assembly, no unqualified assertion of the legislative power of Parliament; but invited the colonial Legislature of itself to fall upon measures for terminating all local difficulties.
The country people, as they read the letter, which was printed at the request of the Council, agreed with one another that the compensation it recommended, should be made.
,’ said they, ‘has asked this of us as a favor; it would be ungenerous to refuse.’48
On the re-assembling of the Legislature, Hawley
Bill prevailed by large majorities; yet it was also voted that the sufferers had no just claim on the Province,49
that the grant was of their own ‘free and good will,’50
and not from deference to ‘a Requisition.’
The Governor assented to an Act in which a colonial Legislature exercised the prerogative of clemency; and Hutchinson
, saying ‘beggars must not be choosers,’ gave thanks, at the bar of the House
, to his benefactors.
But he treasured up the feeling of revenge, and the next year taking offence at some ex
planatory publication by Hawley
dismissed him ar-
bitrarily from practising in the Superior Court.
The patriots of New England
did not doubt Shelburne's attention to its real interests and respect for its liberties; but they were exquisitely sensitive to every thing like an admission that the power of taxing them resided in Parliament.
was rebuked, because, with consent of Council, he had caused the Billeting Act
to be printed by the printer of the Colony laws; and had made that Act his warrant for furnishing supplies at the Colony
's expense to two companies of artillery,52
who, in stress of weather, had put into Boston
attributed the taxing of America
by Parliament to Bernard
‘I know,’ said he, ‘the room, the time, and the company, where the plan was settled.’
And he added publicly, ‘Those who are appointed to the American Governments
are such as are obliged by their crimes or their debts to fly their country.’53
The debates unmasked the hypocrisy of Hutchinson
; and roused the public to a sense of danger from Paxton
voyage to England
The jealous Legislature dismissed Richard Jackson
from the service of the Province; and the House
elected the honest, but aged Dennys De Berdt
as its own particular Agent.
This is the time from which Hutchinson
dated the revolt of the Colonies; and his correspondence and advice conformed to the opinion.55
was gifted with a sagacity which divined the
evil designs, now so near their execution.
He instructed De Berdt
to oppose the apprehended establishment of a military force in America
, as needless for protection and dangerous to liberty.
‘Certainly,’ said he, ‘the best way for Great Britain
to make her Colonies a real and lasting benefit, is, to give them all consistent indulgence in trade, and to remove any occasion of their suspecting that their liberties are in danger.
While any Act of Parliament is in force, which has the least appearance of a design to raise a revenue out of them, their jealousy will be awake.’56
At the same time he called across the continent to the patriot most like himself, Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina
. ‘Tell me, sir,’ said he57
of the Billeting Act
, ‘whether this is not taxing the Colonies as effectually as the Stamp Act?
And if so, either we have complained without reason, or we have still reason to complain.
was told, that he should have stationed a sufficient number of troops in America
before he sent over the Stamp Act.
Had that been the case, your Congress might have been turned out of doors.
has had regular troops among them for some months.
I never could hear a reason given to my satisfaction why they were ordered to remain there so long.
A standing army, especially in a time of peace, is not only a disturbance, but is in every respect dangerous to the civil community.
Surely, then, we cannot consent to their quartering among us; and how hard is it for us to be obliged to pay our money to subsist them!’
had already met patriots of South Caro-
lina under the Live Oak
, which was named their Tree of Liberty,58
had set before them the Declaratory Act
, explained to them their rights, and leagued with them to oppose all foreign taxation.
Every Colony denied the right of Parliament to control its Legislature.
, of Rhode Island
, asked relief for his losses; founding his claim on the resolves of the British
House of Commons, and the King
‘Neither of them,’ said the Speaker
of the Assembly, ‘can ever operate with me; nor ought they to influence the free and independent Representatives of Rhode Island
had leave to withdraw his first petition and substitute an inoffensive one, which was received, but referred to a future session.
the soldiery continued to irritate the people by insolent language, and by once more cutting down their flagstaff;60
so that the Billeting Act
could find no favor.
sought to persuade their Assembly to obedience, holding forth hope of a change of the law on a well-grounded representation of its hardship; and a prudent Governor could have avoided a collision.
was chiefly bent on establishing a Play-house62
against the wishes of the Presbyterians, and his thoughtless frivolity drove the House
to a categorical conflict with
the Act of Parliament, when they had really made
‘provision for quartering two battalions and one company of artillery.’
They did but exercise a discretion of their own, and refused to be ‘guilty of a breach of trust,’ by imposing heavier burdens than the people could support.63
This prudent reserve secured unanimity in the Assembly and among their constituents.64
as well as over all North America
, the Act declaratory of the absolute power of Parliament was met by ‘the principle of the supreme power of the people in all cases whatsoever.’65
Before American affairs engaged the attention of Parliament, the power of Chatham
's Ministry was shaken by Camden's indiscretion.
On occasion of a scarcity, the Ministry had prohibited the export of corn.
Camden defended the measure as ‘not only excusable but legal;’ and to the complaints of its arbitrariness, rashly answered: ‘The Crown may do whatever the safety of the State
may require, during the recess of Parliament, which is at most but a forty days tyranny.’
This dangerous opinion Chatham
rejected, and Mansfield triumphantly overturned.
The waves thus raised had not subsided, when traces began to appear of the influence of Paxton
, who had arrived from Boston
, to tell his stories of rebellion against the Navigation Act
, and to be congratulated on the accession to power of his patron, Charles Townshend
In Parliament a spirit was rising very different from that which had prevailed in the previous winter.
‘So long as I am in office,’ said
Townshend on the floor of the House
, ‘the authority
of the laws shall not be trampled upon.
I think it the highest injury to the nation to suffer Acts of the British Parliament to be broken with impunity.’66
He did not fear to flatter the prejudices of the King
, and court the favor of Grenville
; for he saw that Chatham
, who had ‘declared to all the world, that his great point was to destroy faction,’ was incurring the hatred of every branch of the aristocracy.67
Eight or nine68
Whigs resigned their employments, on account of his headstrong removal of Lord Edgecombe from an unimportant post.69 Saunders
left the Admiralty
, and Keppel
's place fell to Jenkinson
party knew the weakness of the English Ximenes
, and scorned to accept his moderate bid for recruits.
But the King
continually cheered him on ‘to rout out’ the Grandees of England
, now ‘banded together.’70
‘Their unions,’ said Chatham
in return, ‘give me no terrors.’
‘I know my ground,’ he wrote to Grafton
‘and I leave them to indulge their dreams.
Faction will not shake the King
nor gain the public.
Indeed, the King
is firm, and there is nothing to fear;’ and he risked an encounter with all his adversaries.
To Shelburne, who was charged with the care of the Colonies, he gave his confidence and his support.
He claimed for the Supreme-Government
, the right of dominion over the conquests in India
, and the
disposition of its territorial revenue; and as Towns-
hend crossed his plans and leaned to the East India Company, he proposed to Grafton
the dismissal of Townshend
as ‘incurable.’72 Burke
indulged in sarcasm at ‘the great person, so immeasurably high’ as not to be reached by argument, and travestied the litany in a solemn invocation to ‘the Minister
‘Have mercy upon us,’ he cried, while the Opposition applauded the parody; ‘doom not to perdition the vast public debt, seventy millions of which thou hast employed in rearing a pedestal for thy own statue.’73
And the very next day, in the House of Lords, Chatham
marked his contempt of the bitter mockery of Rockingham
's partisans by saying to the Duke
, ‘When the people shall condemn me, I shall tremble; but I will set my face against the proudest Connection of this country.’
‘I hope,’ cried Richmond
, ‘the Nobility will not be browbeaten by an insolent Minister,’ and Chatham
retorted the charge of insolence.74
But it was the last time during his Ministry that he appeared in the House of Lords.
His broken health was unequal to the conflict which he had invited.
On the eighteenth of December,75
he repaired to Bath
with a nervous system so weak that he was easily fluttered, and moved to tears; yet still in his infirmities he sent to the Representatives
his friendly acknowledgment of their vote of gratitude.
saw his opportunity, and no longer
concealed his intention.
Knowing the King
of Shelburne, he took advantage of his own greater age, his authority as the ablest orator in the House of Commons, his long acquaintance with American affairs, and the fact that they turned chiefly on questions of finance, to assume their direction.
His ambition deceived him into the hope of succeeding where Grenville
had failed; and in concert with Paxton
, from Boston
, he was devising a scheme for a Board of Customs in America
, and duties to be collected in its ports.
He would, thus obtain an American fund for a civil list, and concentre the power of government, where Grenville
looked only for revenue.
He expected his dismissal if Chatham
regained health; and he also saw the clearest prospect of advancement by setting his colleagues at defiance.
He therefore prepared to solve the questions of Asia
in his own way; and trod the ground which he had chosen with fearless audacity.
On the twenty-sixth day of January, the House of Commons, in Committee of Supply, considered the estimates for the land forces and garrisons in the Plantations
seized the opportunity to declaim on the repeal76
of the Stamp Act.
He enforced the necessity of relieving Great Britain
from a burden which the Colonies ought to bear, and which with contingencies exceeded £ 400,000; reminding the country gentlemen that this sum was nearly equal to one shilling in the pound of the land tax. He spoke elaborately; and against Chatham
was even more rancorous than usual.77
‘Administration,’ replied Townshend
, ‘has applied
its attention to give relief to great Britain
ing the whole expense of securing, defending, and protecting America
and the West India Islands
; I shall bring into the House
some propositions that I hope may tend, in time, to ease the people of England
upon this head, and yet not be heavy in any manner upon the people in the Colonies.
I know the mode by which a revenue may be drawn from America
As he spoke the House
shook with applause; ‘hear him,’ ‘hear him,’ now swelling loudest from his own side, now from the benches of the Opposition.
‘I am still,’ he continued, ‘a firm advocate for the Stamp Act,79
for its principle and for the duty itself,80
only the heats which prevailed made it an improper time to press it. I laugh at the absurd distinction between internal and external taxes.
I know no such distinction.
It is a distinction without a difference; it is perfect nonsense; if we have a right to impose the one, we have a right to impose the other; the distinction is ridiculous in the opinion of every body, except the Americans
Looking up where the Colony Agents
usually sat, he added with emotion, ‘I speak this aloud, that all you who are in the galleries may hear me;81
and, after this, I do not expect to have my statue erected
Then laying his hand on the table in
front of him, he declared to the House
is undone, if this taxation of America
is given up.’83
Grenville at once demanded of him to pledge himself to his declaration; he did so most willingly; and his promise received a tumultuous welcome.84
Lord George Sackville
pressed for a revenue that should be adequate; and Townshend
engaged himself to the House
to find a revenue, if not adequate, yet nearly sufficient to meet the military expenses when properly reduced.85
The loud burst of rapture dismayed Conway
, who sat in silent astonishment at the unauthorized but premeditated rashness of his presumptuous colleague.86
The next night, the Cabinet
questioned the insubordinate Minister, ‘how he had ventured to depart, on so essential a point, from the profession of the whole Ministry;’ and he browbeat them all. ‘I appeal to you,’ said he, turning to Conway
, ‘whether the House
is not bent on obtaining a revenue of some sort from the Colonies.’
Not one of the Ministry then in London
, had sufficient authority to advise his dismission; and nothing less could have stopped his measures.87