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The Progres of the Dispute between Great Britain and Fer Colonies continued, from the Repeal of the Stamp Act, in 1766, to the palling of the Bofton Port Bill 1774.
O miniftry perhaps ever conducted a popular meafure with fo little advantage, or even reputation to themfelves, as thofe under the Marquis of Rockingham the repeal of the Stamp Act. The people, ftruck with the glaring inconfiftency of a law for afcertaining the right of impofing internal taxes upon the colonies, and one for removing the only internal tax that had been impofed, without any other being fubftituted in its ftead, could not conceive both to be the work of the fame men: they afcribed the latter, and with fome appearance of reafon, to the bold and animated fpeech of Mr. Pitt, in the House of Commons, and one no lefs forcible by Lord Camden, in the Houfe of Peers* The court, though not entirely of the fame opinion, confidered the miniftry as a fet of weak men, labouring under the influence of popular clamour, or feduced by the thirst of popular applaufe, and therefore unworthy of its confidence: it accordingly threw them afide, in the hour of their difappointment; and their places were filled by thofe who had mifled them, and on whom the beams of public as well as royal favour fhone. Lord Camden was raifed to the head of the law, in the room of the Earl of Northington; the Duke of Grafton to the head of the treafury, in the room of the Marquis of Rockingham; and the new-made Earl of Chatham, fuppofed to be the oftenfible minifter, and political guardian to the Duke
* What contributed particularly to favour this opinion was, that these two celebrated speeches were not fo much levelled against the Stamp Act, as against the right of the parliament to tax the colonics, which had just been established by the Declaratory Bill.
Duke of Grafton, was appointed lord privy-feal. 1756. At the fame time, the Earl of Shelburne was appointed fecretary of ftate, in the room of the Duke of Richmond. General Conway retained his place, as the other fecretary.
Both the old and new miniftry were much difappointed in the effect of their lenient measures upon the refractory colonists. That factious and turbulent fpirit which had taken poffeffion of their minds, was by no means mollified by the repeal of the Stamp Act. They had obtained a triumph, and were refolved to enjoy it. Not content with private outrages, too often repeated, and marks of difrefpect to government, no lefs frequently fhewn in New England and the neighbouring provinces, the affembly of New York, in direct oppofition to an act paffed by the Rockingham adminiftration for providing the troops with neceffaries in their quarters, took the liberty of regulating the provifions of the army according to a mode of their own, without any regard to that prefcribed by parliament. This affair, 1767. being brought before the Houfe of Commons next feffion, occafioned warm debates, and rigorous meafures were by fome propofed. Happily, however, the general opinion was, rather to bring the colonifts to temper, and a fenfe of their duty by acts of moderation, which fhould at the fame time fufficiently fupport the dignity of the legislature, than by fevere measures to inflame ftill farther that fpirit of discontent which was already too prevalent among them. According to thefe principles a bill was paffed, by which the governor, council, and affembly of New York, were prohibited from palling or affenting to any act of affembly, for any purpose whatever, till they had complied with all the terms of the act of parliament.
This reftriction, though confined to one colony, was intended as a leffon for the whole; and that
CHAP. II. 1767. they might no longer confider the repeal of the Stamp Act as a relinquishing of the legiflative authority of Great Britain over them, a bill was also paffed, during the fame feffion, for laying certain duties on tea, paper, painters colours, and glafs, imported into the British colonies and plantations in America. Such a meafure, though by no means inconfiftent with the political principles either of the late on prefent miniftry, as they had maintained the power of impofing port-duties, at the fame time that they denied the right of internal taxation, afforded nevertheless to the Grenville administration and their affociates, in its confequences, great cause of recrimination. It demonftrated to the world the views of the Americans, and the fallacy of fome late pretenfions to patriotifm. No better difpofed to pay thefe duties than the ftamp-duties, which had been fo induftriously reprefented, both at home and abroad, as unjuft and oppreffive, the colonifts took the most vigorous and effectual fteps for defeating the purpose of the new laws; though planned by men whom they had lately adored as their deliverers, and whom every tongue had applauded as the champions of liberty and the conftitution,
Boston, the capital of Maffachufets Bay, was in this, as well as the former inftance, the place where the oppofition to the authority of the British legiflature firft difcovered itself. At a general meeting of the inhabitants, fummoned on the occafion, feveral refolutions were entered into for the encouragement of manufactures, the promoting of induftry and œconomy, and the leffening and reftraining the use of foreign fuperfluities. Thefe refolutions, every one of which was highly prejudicial to the commerce of the mother-country, contained a long lift of enumerated articles, which it was determined either not to use at all, or in the fmalleft quantities poflible. At the fame time a fubfcription was opened, and a committee appointed, for the encouragement of
their own growing manufactures, and the establish. 1767. ment of new ones. Among thefe, it was refolved in particularly to promote the making of paper and glafs, as being liable to the payment of the new portduties: it was alfo refolved to reftrain the expence of funerals; to reduce drefs to a degree of primitive fimplicity; and in general, not to purchase from the mother-country any commodity that could be procured in any of the colonies.
These refolutions were either adopted, or fimilar ones entered into by all the old colonies on the continent; and a circular letter was fent foon after, by the affembly of Maffachufets Bay, to all the other affemblies in North America, The purport of that detter was, to fhew the pernicious tendency of the late act of parliament; to reprefent it as unconftitutional; and to propose a common bond of union between the colonies, in order to prevent the effect of the ftatute, as well as to promote harmony in their applications to government for a repeal of it. Nor were their natural rights as men, or their conftitutional ones as Englishmen forgot; all of which, it was pretended, were infringed by the impofition of the new port-duties.
Unfortunately during this ill humour of the people of Maffachufets Bay, they were diffatisfied with Mr. Bernard, their governor. He had been thwarted in every measure for fome years paft by the afsembly; and both parties feemed more attentive to the gratification of private and perfonal animofity, than zealous for the public good. Proud no doubt of an occafion of triumph, the governor ordered to be read to the affembly, according to its intention, a letter from the Earl of Shelburne, one of the principal fecretaries of ftate, containing very fevere animadverfions on that body. The rage of the members instantly vented itfelf in the moft indecent expreflions, first against the miniftry, and afterwards
1768. against the governor. The charges made in it must i have been founded, it was faid, on mifreprefentations
of facts in his difpatches to the fecretary. A committee was accordingly appointed to wait on him, in order to defire a copy of Lord Shelburne's letter, as well as of thofe which he had written himself, relative to the affembly, and to which the charges in that must refer. Thefe copies being refufed, the affembly wrote a letter to the fecretary of state, in which great pains were taken to vindicate their own conduct at the expence of the governor, and to afcribe to his mifreprefentations the difadvantageous opinion entertained of them in the cabinet. They alfo wrote letters to the lords of the treafury, and moft of the great officers of ftate; in which, along with great profeffions of loyalty, they not only renonftrated strongly against the operation of the late act of parliament, but infinuated that the impofition of the port duties was contrary to the constitution, and totally fubverfive of their rights and liberties.
Seeing no hope of being able to mollify the refrac tory fpirit, fo predominant in the affembly of his province, governor Bernard adjourned it. The fpeech which he delivered on the occafion contained many fevere ftrictures on the conduct of the members, particularly in regard to Lord Shelburne's letter; and he complained greatly of fome turbulent and ambitious men, who under falfe pretences of triotifm, had acquired too great an influence, as well in the affembly as among the people-who facrificed the welfare of their country to the gratification of their lawless paflions, and to the fupport of an importance, which could have no existence but in times of trouble and confufion.
During these distractions in America, and in confequence of them, a new office was created at home; a fecretary of state was appropriated to the department of the colonies only. Much was expected