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to those of confirmed tyranny and deliberate op- 1764. preffion. Could there be a more arbitrary or abfurd ordinance, than to require the Americans to pay in fpecie, of which they were entirely destitute, and which they had now no means left of acquiring, taxes in themselves too grievous to be borne ?-In vain was it urged, that too great a quantity of circulating paper has a tendency to banish the precious metals, which always difappear where they are not neceffary; that they would return on its being circumfcribed, and that fair trade and ufeful induftry, inftead of being hurt by fuch a regulation, would be promoted, and idle fpeculation and romantic projects only difcouraged; that the taxes complained of were no greater than what found policy requires, in order to give a preference to the commodities of the English Weft India Iflands above thofe of other nations; and that they would all be returned, together with an additional fum in fpecie, for the payment of the Britifh troops in America. Thefe troops were a new caufe of terror, and the conquefts which had occafioned their establishment, were execrated. The jealous republicans of New England, already beheld in idea their own money employed to pay a band of rapacious mercenaries, hired to keep them in flavish fubjection to the mother-country. They were filled with indignation at the thought; and inftead of attending to feveral acts paffed for the encouragement of their trade, which were at leaft a balance for thofe of a contrary tendency, they not only determined to abide by their former refolution of non-importation, but to encourage to the utmoft of their power all kind

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Namely, "a Bill for granting Leave for a limited Time for carrying Rice from the Provinces of South Carolina and Georgia to other Parts of America, on paying British Duties; a Bill for granting a Bounty upon the Importation of Hemp and Flax from her American Colonies into Great Britain; and a Bill for encouraging the Whale-fifhery in the American

Scars.

1764. kinds of manufactures within themselves, without paying any regard to the laws of Great Britain in that refpect.

Stamp act poftponed, that the

To this fecond refolution, which foon became general, the colonists were partly incited by a vote of the House of, Commons, paffed at the fame time with the act impofing thofe duties which gave fo much offence; that, towards further defraying the neceffary expences of protecting the colonies, it may be proper to charge certain ftamp-duties upon them." Nothing could be more imprudent than this vote; which feems to have been dictated by the fame timid policy that, under the name of lenity, has been fo difgraceful to the arms, and prejudicial to the interefts of Great Britain, in the prefent difpute with her colonies. It was meant as a prelude to the famous STAMP ACT, and was carried with little or no oppofition. Had the act itself been proposed at the fame time, it would have paffed with equal eafe, and the oppofition in the colonies would, in all probability, have been very inconfiderable.

But that measure was poftponed till next feffion of parliament, in order that the colonies might have time, as was pretended, " to offer a compenfation for the revenue which a ftamp-duty might yield;" and the minister actually fhewed his willingness, fera com- when the colony agents waited upon him to offer penfation their thanks for this mark of his confideration, by any

colonics might of

other tax.

to

receive propofals for any other tax that might be equivalent in its produce to the one under contemplation." There is reafon however to believe, that the true purpose of the vote was to gather the fenfe of the colonies with regard to an internal taxation and that was as unfavourable as the boldeft leader of faction, either in England or America, could have wifhed it. Had the parliament firmly exerted their legiflative authority over the colonies,

which had never feriously been called in queftion 1764. fince the revolution, by giving to the purpofed bill at once the force of a law, the colonifts would not have felt in its actual operation those evils suggested by an enthusiastic fancy, difcoloured by falfe report; nor would ambitious men have had leifure to propagate, by working on the fears and the difcontents of the people, thofe infectious principles of natural liberty and original equality, fo flattering to human nature, but inconfiftent with all government, and which all popular leaders have thought it neceffary to employ, till they were invested, like Washington, with the fupreme command, or like Cromwell, found themselves fufficiently powerful to tell their equals they were flaves.

In confequence of this procraftination, and thofe Confelicentious principles which it allowed to fpring up, quence of poftponthe colonists not only took the folemn refolution, ing the already mentioned, to manufacture for themfelves, ftamp act. without deigning to take any notice of the restrictive laws already in force, but fent over petitions to be prefented to the king, lords and commons, pofitively, and directly calling in queftion the authority and jurifdiction of the British parliament over them. The minority in both Houfes caught the language, which was re-echoed by their adherents without doors; and when the bill for laying a ftamp-duty on the colonies was read, a warm debate enfued, in which not only the expediency of that or any other internal tax was called in queftion, but also the right of the British legislature to tax the colonies without their concurrence.

The question of right we fhall afterwards have occafion to difcufs, when it came formally before the great council of the nation, and the propriety of the particular tax will naturally fall under our examination, in fpeaking of the repeal of the stampact: it will therefore be fufficient here to confider a

queftion

1764. queftion intimately connected with both, the ability of the colonies to bear internal taxes; from which the expediency of impofing them, will in fome meafure appear. The common advantages which every empire derives from the provinces fubject to its dominion, it was obferved by the friends of adminif tration, confifts in the military force which they furnish for its defence, and in the revenue that they yield for the fupport of its civil government. But the English colonies have never yet contributed any thing towards the defence of the mother-country, or towards the support of its civil government: on the contrary, they themfelves have been hitherto defended almost entirely at the expence of the parent-state. The expence of their own civil government has always been very moderate *: it has generally been confined to what was neceffary for paying competent falaries to the governor, to the judges, and to fome other officers of police, and for maintaining a few of the most useful public works. Their ecclefiaftical government is conducted upon a plan equally frugal: tithes are unknown among them; and their clergy, by no means numerous, are maintained either by moderate ftipends, or by the voluntary contributions of the people. The most important part of the expence of government, that of protection, has conftantly indeed fallen upon the mother-country: and if he is to receive no compenfation for paft favours, it is at leaft but reafonable, that the colonies fhould henceforth raile fuch a proportion of revenue, as will for the future free

* The expence of the civil establishment of Maffachufets Bay, before the commencement of the prefent disturbances, ufed to be but about eighteen thousand pounds a year; that of New Hampfire and Rhode island, three thoufand five hundred each; that of Connecticut four thousand; that of New York and Penfylvania, four thousand five hundred each; that of New Jersey, one thousand two hundred; that of Virginia and South Carolina, eight thousand each :-in a word, all the dif ferent civil eftablishments in North America, did not then much ceed feventy thousand pound sterling annually.

free her from this burden; efpecially as the colo- 1764. nits, who are fubject neither to the tythe nor poor's rate, must be infinitely more able to bear revenuetaxes, than the inhabitants of Great Britain, whỏ groan beneath thofe two grievous and oppreffive loads.

It was answered by the gentlemen in oppofition, That, however appearances might be in their fa vour, most of the provinces in North America were exceffively poor; that they were upwards of four millions in debt to the merchants of Great Britain, who being creditors to fuch an amount, were in reality the proprietors of a great part of what the Americans feemed to poffefs; that the fuppreffion of manufactures in that country, and obliging the colonists to take every fort which they ufe from Great Britain, comprifes all kinds of taxes in one, and makes them in reality the fupporters of a great part of our public burdens. But if actual taxes were even neceffary, there was no poffibility of paying them; the interior commerce of the colonies being entirely carried on by a paper currency, and the gold and filver which occafionally came among them, all fent to Great Britain: we could not draw from them what they had not; we had already got all their specie: they had neither gold nor filver left; and without gold and filver taxes could not be paid.

The fcarcity of gold and filver money in America, it was, or might have been replied*, is not the effect of the poverty of that country, or of the inability of the people there to purchase those metals. In a country where the wages of labour are confiderably higher, and the price of provifions much lower

The author has not confined himself merely to the arguments offered in either houfe of Parliament: he has also included thofe employed by the best political writers on both fides, as well as fuch as occured to himself.

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