Centres in itself power over its Colonies. —Hillsborough's Administration of the Colonies con-cluded.
steadily pursued the system of concen-
Chap. XLVII.} 1771.
trating all power over the Colonies; but so gradually that a sudden, complete collision with ancient usage was avoided.
If the Charter
of the Province had been taken away,1
even the moderate would have held themselves absolved from their allegiance.2
But the appointment of a native Bostonian as Governor, seemed to many a pledge of relenting; and his plausible professions hushed the people into silence.
‘The glorious spirit of liberty is vanquished and left without hope but in a miracle,’ said desponding patriots.
‘I confess,’ said Samuel Adams
, ‘we have, as Wolfe
expressed it, a choice of difficulties.
Too many flatter themselves that their pusillanimity is true prudence; but in perilous times like these, I cannot conceive
of prudence without fortitude.’3
Chap. XLVII.} 1771.
ed; but John Adams
retired from ‘the service of the people,’ and devoting himself to his profession,4
for a time ceased even to employ his pen in their defence.5 Otis
who had returned to the Legislature, disordered in mind, and jealous of his declining influence, did but impede the public cause.
, also, vanity so mingled with patriotism, that the Government
hoped to separate him from its uncompromising opponents.6
The Assembly which for the third year was convened at Cambridge
, overruled the advice of Samuel Adams
, and was proceeding with business.
Yet it adopted the Protest in which he drew the distinction between the existence of a prerogative and its abuse; and significantly inquired, what would follow in England
, if a British King
should call a Parliament in Cornwall
and keep it there seven years. Nor did he omit to expose the rapid consolidation of power in the hands of the executive by the double process of making all civil officers dependent for support solely on the King
, and giving to arbitrary instructions an authority paramount to the Charter
and the laws.
The Protest had hardly been adopted, when the
application of its doctrines became necessary.
The Commissioners of the Customs had through Hutchinson7
applied for an exemption of their salaries from
the colonial income tax; and Hillsborough
Chap. XLVII.} 1771. July.
ing a usage of more than fifty years, commanded the compliance of the legislature.
The engrossed taxbill for the year was of the same tenor with the annual Acts from time immemorial.
The assessors had moreover rated the Commissioners
with extreme moderation.
Persons who had less income, were taxed as much as they, so that it did not even appear that any regard was had to their salaries.8 Paxton
's provincial tax for all his personal estate and all his income, was for the last year less than three pounds sterling; and what he paid to the town and county not much more.9
And to defeat this little tax, in itself so reasonable, so consonant to usage, and in its apportionment so forbearing, Hutchinson
, on the fourth of July, greatly against his own judgment, negatived the Bill, and declared his obligation under his instructions to negative any other, drawn in the same usual terms.
The stopping supplies by a veto of the Crown was unknown in England
; an order from the King
to exempt special individuals from their share of taxation was unconstitutional; the exemption, if submitted to by the Assembly, would have been an acquiescence in an unwarrantable instruction; and a formal recognition of the system of parliamentary taxation.
perceived all the danger, and on the next day, the House
replied in his words: ‘We know of no Commissioners
of his Majesty's Customs, nor of any revenue his Majesty has a right to establish in North America
; we know and feel a tribute levied
and extorted from those, who, if they have property,
Chap. XLVII.} 1771. July.
have a right to the absolute disposal of it. To withhold your assent to this bill, merely by force of instruction, is effectually vacating the Charter
and giving instructions the force of laws, within this Province.
If such a doctrine shall be established, the representatives of a free people would be reduced to this fatal alternative,—either to have no taxes levied and raised at all, or to have them raised and levied in such a way and manner, and upon those only whom his Majesty pleases.’10
At the first meeting of the Assembly, loyalty had visibly prevailed, and the decided patriots were in a minority; necessity had extorted the most explicit assertion of colonial rights, and an unanswerable exposition of the limit of the prerogative.
In closing the session Hutchinson
put at issue the respect for monarchy itself.
‘I know,’ said he, ‘that your messages and resolves of the last year were very displeasing to the King
I shall transmit my messages, and this your extraordinary answer to be laid before him.’
Thus the Province was led to speculate on the personal opinions of their Sovereign, and to inquire into the use of regal power itself; while the King
regarded the contest with Massachusetts
as involving not only the power of Great Britain
and the rights of the Crown, but his personal honor.
men saw the event that was approaching, but not that it was so near.
‘Out of the eater cometh forth meat,’ said Cooper
foretold a bloody struggle, in which ‘America
Chap. XLVII.} 1771. July.
growing strength and magnitude,’13
would give her the victory.
The progress of opinion was marked by the instructions of the House
to its Agent, which unreservedly embodied the principle that colonial legislation was free of Parliament and of royal instructions.
They were drawn by Samuel Adams
, who had long before said in Town Meeting
; ‘Independent we are, and independent we will be.’
‘I doubt,’ said Hutchinson
, ‘whether there is a greater incendiary than he in the King
At least his intrepidity could not be
His language became more explicit as danger drew nearer.
In August, Boston
saw in its harbor twelve vessels of war, carrying more than two hundred and sixty guns, commanded by Mon. tagu, the brother of Sandwich
Yet there was no one salient wrong, to attract the sudden and universal attention of the people.
The Southern Governors felt no alarm.
Eden from Maryland
congratulated Hillsborough, on the return of confidence and harmony.16
‘The people,’ thus Johnson
, the Agent
wrote after his return home, ‘appear to be weary of their altercations with the Mother Country
; a little discreet conduct on both sides, would perfectly reestablish that warm affection and respect towards
, for which this country was once so
Chap. XLVII.} 1771. Sept.
, too, reported ‘a disposition in all the Colonies to let the controversy with the kingdom subside.’18
sent word to tempt Hancock
by marks of favor.
and most of the party,’ said the Governor
, ‘are quiet; and all of them, except Adams
, abate of their virulence.
would push the Continent into a rebellion to-morrow, if it was in his power.’19
generally was so tranquil, Samuel Adams
continued musing till the fire within him burned; and the thought of correspondence and union among the friends of liberty flashed upon his mind.
‘It would be an arduous task,’ he said, meditating a project which required a year's reflection for its maturity, ‘to awaken a sufficient number in the colonies to so grand an undertaking.
Nothing, however, should be despaired of. We have nothing,’ he continued, ‘to rely upon but the interposition of our friends in Britain, of which I have no expectation, or the last Appeal.20
The tragedy of American freedom is
A tyranny seems to be at the very door.
They who lie under oppression deserve what they suffer; let them perish with their oppressors.
Could millions be enslaved if all possessed the independent spirit of Brutus
, who to his immortal
honor, expelled the tyrant of Rome
, and his royal
and rebellious race?
The liberties of our country are worth defending at all hazards.
If we should suffer them to be wrested from us, millions yet unborn may be the miserable sharers in the event.21
Every step has been taken but one; and the last appeal would require prudence, unanimity, and fortitude.
America must herself, under God, finally work out her own salvation.’22
While these opinions were boldly uttered, Hutch-
inson, in the annual Proclamation which appointed the Festival of Thanksgiving and which used to be read from every pulpit, sought to ensnare the clergy by enumerating as a cause for gratitude, ‘that civil and religious liberties were continued,’ and ‘trade enlarged.’
He was caught in his own toils.
All the Boston
ministers except one refused to read the paper; when Pemberton
, of whose church the Governor
was a member, began confusedly to do so; the patriots of his congregation, turning their backs on him, walked out of meeting in great indignation; and nearly all the Ministers
agreed on the Thanksgiving Day
‘to implore of Almighty God the restoration of lost liberties.’23
Nowise disheartened, Hutchinson
and confidently ‘to hear how the extravagance of the Assembly in their last session would be resented by the King
;’ now striving to set Hancock
more against Adams
; now seeking to lull the people
into security; now boasting of his band of writers on the side of Government, Church, a professed patriot, being of the number; now triumphing at the spectacle of Otis
, who was carried into the country, bound hand and foot as a maniac; now speculating on the sale of cheap teas at high prices; now urging the Government
to remodel all the New England
Provinces, even while he pretended that they were quiet and submissive.
His only fears were lest the advice he had sent to the Ministry should become known in America
, and lest Temple
, who had gone to England
and bore him contemptuous hatred, should estrange from him the confidence of Whately
Confirmed by the seeming tranquillity in America
, and by the almost unprecedented strength of the Ministry in Parliament, Hillsborough
gave free scope to the conceit, wrongheadedness, obstinacy and passion, which marked his character, and perplexed and embarrassed affairs by the perverse and senseless24
exercise of authority.
To show his firmness, he still required the Legislature of Massachusetts to exempt the Commissioners
from taxation, or the tax bill should be negatived; while Gage
was enjoined to attend to the security of the fortress in Boston harbor
, Noble Wimberly Jones
, a man of exemplary life and character, had been elected Speaker.
, who reported him to be ‘a very strong Liberty Boy,’ would not consent to the choice; and the House
voted the interference a
breach of their privileges.25 Hillsborough
ed their unwarrantable and inconsistent arrogance.26
He now directed the Governor
‘to put his negative upon any person whom they should next elect for Speaker, and to dissolve the Assembly in case they should question the right of such negative.’27
The affections of South Carolina
were still more
Its public men were ruled by their sense of honor, and felt a stain upon it as a wound.
A Carolinian in the time of Lyttleton
, had been abruptly dismissed from the King
's Council; and from that day it became the pride of native Carolinians not to accept a seat in that body.28
The members of the Assembly ‘disdained to take any pay for their attendance.’29
Since March 1771, no legislative Act had been perfected,30
because the Governor
refused to pass any appropriations which should cover the grant of the Assembly to the Society for the Bill of Rights
; but the patriot planters ever stood ready to lend their private credit and purses to the wants of their own colonial Agents or Committees.
To extend the benefit of Courts of Justice into the interior, the Province, at an expense of five thousand pounds,31
bought out the monopoly of Richard Cumberland
as Provost by patent for the whole; and had offered to establish salaries for the Judges
, if the Commissions of those Judges were but made permanent as in England
At last, in 1769,
trusting to the honor of the Crown, they voted perpe-
tual grants of salaries.
When this was done, Rawlins Lowndes
and others, their own judges, taken from among themselves, were dismissed; and an Irishman, a Scotchman, and a Welshman were sent over by Hillsborough to take their places.32
‘We, none of us,’ said the planters, ‘can expect the honors of the State
; they are all given away to worthless, poor sycophants.’33
The Governor, Lord Charles Greville Montagu
, had no Palace at Charleston
; he uttered a threat to convene the South
Carolina Assembly at Port Royal
, unless they would vote him a house to his mind.34
This is the culminating point of administrative insolence.
The system of concentrating all colonial power in England
was resisted also at the West
the corruption and favoritism of the military commander compelled the people to a remonstrance.
The removal of them all to places within the limits of some established Colony, was the mode of pacification which Hillsborough deliberately approved.
The Spanish jurisdiction across the river offered so near a sanctuary, that such a policy was impracticable.
An establishment by the Crown upon the lowest plan of expense, and without any intermixture of popular power, was thought of. ‘A regular constitutional Government for them,’ said Gage
, ‘cannot be suggested.
They don't deserve so much attention.’
Chap. XLVII.} 1772.
agree with you,’ rejoined Hillsborough; ‘a regular Government for that District would be highly improper.’
The people of Illinois
, weary of the shameless despotism which aimed only at forestalling tracts of land, the monopoly of the Indian
trade, or the ruin of the French
villages, took their cause into their own hands; they demanded institutions like those of Connecticut
, and set themselves inflexibly against any proposal for a Government, which should be irresponsible to themselves.
In 1771, they had assembled in a General Meeting
, and had fixed upon their scheme; they never departed from it; ‘expecting to appoint their own Governor and all civil Magistrates.’36
The rights of freemen were demanded as boldly on the Prairies
as in Carolina
or New England
Towards the people at Vincennes
was less relenting; for there was no Spanish shore to which they could fly. They were, by formal proclamation, peremptorily commanded to retire within the jurisdiction of some one of the Colonies.37
But the men38
were as unwilling to abandon their homes in a settlement already seventy years old,39
as those of Illinois
to give up the hope of freedom.
The spirit of discontent pervaded every village in the wilderness; and what allegiance would men of French origin bear to a British King
who proposed to take away their estates and to deny them liberty?
The log cabins having been planted,
and hopes of self-government called into existence, it
Chap. XLVII.} 1772.
was beyond the power of the British King
to remove the one or the other.
The inhabitants of Virginia
were controlled by the central authority on a subject of still more vital importance to them and their posterity.
Their halls of legislation had resounded with eloquence directed against the terrible plague of negro slavery.
Again and again they had passed laws, restraining the importations of negroes from Africa
; but their laws were disallowed.
How to prevent them from protecting themselves against the increase of the overwhelming evil was debated by the King
in Council, and on the tenth day of December, 1770, he issued an instruction, under his own hand, commanding the Governor
, ‘upon pain of the highest displeasure, to assent to no law, by which the importation of slaves should be in any respect prohibited or obstructed.’40
In April 1772, this rigorous order was solemnly debated in the Assembly of Virginia. ‘They were very anxious for an Act to restrain the introduction of people, the number of whom already in the Colony, gave them just cause to apprehend the most dangerous consequences, and therefore made it necessary that they should fall upon means not only of preventing their increase, but also of lessening their number.
The interest of the country,’ it was said, ‘manifestly requires the total expulsion of them.’41
, like Richard Henry Lee
, had begun his
legislative career by efforts for emancipation.
Chap. XLVII.} 1772.
mind of Patrick Henry
, the thought of slavery darkened the picture of the future, even while he cherished faith in the ultimate abolition of an evil, which, though the law sanctioned, religion opposed.42
To have approached Parliament with a Petition against the Slave-Trade might have seemed a recognition of its supreme legislative power; Virginia
, therefore, resolved to address the King
himself, who in Council had cruelly compelled the toleration of the nefarious traffic.
They pleaded with him for leave to protect themselves against the crimes of commercial avarice, and these were their words:
The importation of slaves into the Colonies from the Coast of Africa, hath long been considered as a trade of great inhumanity; and, under its present encouragement, we have too much reason to fear, will endanger the very existence of your Majesty's American dominions.
We are sensible that some of your Majesty's subjects in Great Britain may reap emoluments from this sort of traffic; but when we consider, that it greatly retards the settlement of the Colonies with more useful inhabitants, and may in time have the most destructive influence, we presume to hope that the interest of a few will be disregarded, when placed in competition with the security and happiness of such numbers of your Majesty's dutiful and loyal subjects.
Deeply impressed with these sentiments, we most humbly beseech your Majesty to remove all those restraints on your Majesty's Governors of this Colony
which inhibit their assenting to such laws, as might check so very pernicious a commerce.
In this manner Virginia
led the host, who alike condemned slavery and opposed the Slave-Trade.
Thousands in Maryland
and in New Jersey
, were ready to adopt a similar Petition; so were the Legislatures of North Carolina
, of Pennsylvania
, of New-York
, in its towns and in its Legislature, unceasingly combated the condition as well as the sale of slaves.
There was no jealousy among one another in the strife against the crying evil; Virginia
harmonized all opinions, and represented the moral sentiment and policy of them all. When her Prayer reached England
through the Press called to it the sympathy of the people; again and again it was pressed upon the attention of the Ministers
But the Government
of that day was less liberal than the tribunals; and while a question respecting a negro from Virginia
led the courts of law to an axiom, that, as soon as any slave sets his foot on English ground, he becomes free, the King
stood in the path of humanity, and made himself the pillar of the colonial Slave-Trade.
Wherever in the Colonies a disposition was shown for its restraint, his servants were peremptorily ordered to maintain it without abatement.
But he blushed to reject the solemn appeal of Virginia
personally to himself, and evaded a reply.43
For the last five years there had been no contested election in Boston
Deceived by the apparent tranquillity, the friends of Government attempted to
defeat the choice of Samuel Adams
The effort failed; he had more than twice and a half as many votes as his opponent,44
and the malice of his enemies rendered him still dearer to the people.
The Legislature was for the fourth year, convened
; but the Governor
had grown weary of his pretensions, and with a very ill grace, against his declared purpose, adjourned the session to the accustomed House in Boston
The long altercation on that subject subsided; but the system of British supremacy was sure to produce new collisions.
Inhabitants of Providence, in Rhode Island
, had in the last March, complained to the Deputy Governor
of the conduct of Lieutenant Dudingston
of the Gaspee
, who obstructed their vessels and boats, without showing any evidence of his authority.
, the Chief Justice
, on being consulted, gave the opinion, ‘that any person who should come into the Colony and exercise any authority by force of arms, without showing his commission to the Governor
, and if a Custom House officer, without being sworn into his office, was guilty of a trespass, if not piracy.’
The Governor, therefore, sent a sheriff on board the Gaspee
, to ascertain by what orders the Lieutenant
acted; and Dudingston
referred the subject to the Admiral
answered from Boston
: ‘The Lieutenant
, has done his duty.
I shall give the King
's officers directions, that they send every man taken in molesting them to me. As sure as the people of Newport
attempt to rescue any vessel, and any of them 45
are taken, I will hang them as pirates.’46
Chap. XLVII.} 1772.
ton seconded the insolence of his superior officer, insulted the inhabitants, plundered the islands of sheep and hogs, cut down trees, fired at market boats, detained vessels without a colorable pretext, and made illegal seizures of goods of which the recovery cost more than they were worth47
On the ninth of June, the Providence Packet
was returning to Providence
, and proud of its speed, went gayly on, heedless of the Gaspee
The tide being at flood, the Packet ventured near shore; the Gaspee
confidently followed; and drawing more water ran aground on Nauquit, a little below Pantuxet.
The following night a party of men in six or seven boats, led by John Brown
and Joseph Brown
, and Simeon Potter
, boarded the stranded schooner, after a scuffle in which Dudingston
was wounded, took and landed its crew, and then set it on fire.48
The whole was conducted on a sudden impulse;49
who was spoken of for the place of Colonial Secretary of State
, resolved never to leave pursuing the Colony of Rhode Island
, until its Charter should be taken away.50
‘A few punished at Execution Dock, would
be the only effectual preventive of any further at-
Chap. XLVII.} 1772.
tempt,’ wrote Hutchinson
, who wished to see a beginnin of taking men prisoners, and carrying them directly to England
There now existed a statute authorizing such a procedure.
Two months before, the King
had assented to an Act for the better securing Dock-yards, ships and stores, which extended to the Colonies, made death the penalty for destroying even the oar of a cutter's boat, or the head of an empty cask belonging to the fleet, and subjected the accused to a trial in any county in Great Britain
Of this statute, which violated every safeguard of
justice and might be still more mischievous as a precedent, the Assembly of Massachusetts at that time took no notice, confining its attention to the gradual change in the Constitution
of the Colony, effected by the payment of the King
's civil officers through warrants under his sign manual, drawn on a perennial fund raised by an Act of Parliament.
They regarded the Charter
as ‘a most solemn compact,’ which bound them to Great Britain
By that Charter they held, they were to have a Governor and Judges, over whom the power of the King
was protected by the right of nomination, the power of the Colony by the exclusive right of providing support.
These views were embodied52
in a Report to the Assembly,53
and on the tenth of July, adopted by a vote of eighty-five to nineteen.
It followed, and was so
resolved, that a Governor who like Hutchinson
Chap. XLVII.} 1772. July.
not dependent on the people for support, was not such a Governor as the people had consented to, at the granting of the Charter
; the House
most solemnly protested ‘that the innovation was an im portant change of the Constitution
, and exposed the Province to a despotic administration of Government.’
The inference was unavoidable.
If the principle contained in the Preamble to Townshend
's Revenue Act should be carried out, obedience would no longer be due to the Governor
, and the rightful dependence on England
would be at an end.
Deceived by the want of organized union among the Colonies, Hutchinson
sent word to Hillsborough, that ‘if the nation would arouse and unite in measures to retain the Colonies in subordination, all this new doctrine of independence would be disavowed, and its first inventors be sacrificed to the rage of the people whom they had deluded.’54
, on his
part, was proceeding with eager haste to carry Townshend
's system into effect; and on the seventh of August, he announced, that the King
, with the ‘entire concurrence of Lord North,55
had made provision for the support of his law servants in the Province of Massachusetts Bay
It was almost a special provision for Hutchinson
It marks the character of the people, that this act, constituting judges, who held their offices at the King
stipendiaries of the Crown, was selected as the crisis
Meantime Hillsborough was left with few supporters except the herd of flatterers who had soothed his vanity, and by their misrepresentations made him subservient to their selfishness.
, having become convinced that he had weakened the respect of the Colonies for a royal Govern ment, was weary of him; his colleagues disliked him, and conspired to drive him into retirement.57
The occasion was at hand.
had negotiated with the Treasury for a grant to a Company of about twenty-three millions of acres of land, south of the Ohio
and west of the Alleghanies
, from the fear that men in the backwoods would be too independent, opposed the project.58 Franklin
, a friend of the King
of the Council, Camden, the Secretaries of the Treasury
and others to become shareholders in his scheme; by their influence, the Lords
of Council disregarded the adverse report of the Board of Trade, and decided in favor of planting the new Province.60 Hillsborough
was too proud to brook this public insult; and the King
, soothing his fall by a patent for a British Earldom, accepted his resignation.
But his system remained behind him. When he was gone, Thurlow61
took care that the grant for the Western Province
should never be sealed; and the amiable Dartmouth
who became Secretary
for the Colonies, had been taught to believe,62
like Lord North and the King
, that it was necessary to carry out the policy of consolidation, as set forth in Townshend