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timations had been given of such an intention. The King's firm answer, as it is called, to our petitions and remonstrances, has probably been judged sufficient for the present. I forwarded that answer to you by the last packet, and sent a copy of it by a Boston ship the beginning of last month. Therein we are told, that “his Majesty has well weighed the subject matter, and the expressions, contained in those petitions; and that, as he will ever attend to the humble petitions of his subjects, and be forward to redress every real grievance, so he is determined to support the constitution, and resist with firmness every attempt to derogate from the authority of the supreme legislature.”
By this it seems that some exception is taken to the expressions of the petitions, as not sufficiently humble, that the grievances complained of are not thought real grievances, that Parliament is deemed the supreme legislature, and its authority over the colonies supposed to be the constitution. Indeed, the last idea is expressed more fully in the next paragraph, where the words of the act are used, declaring the right of the crown, with the advice of Parliament, 'to make laws of sufficient force and validity to bind its subjects in America in all cases whatsoever.
When one considers the King's situation, surrounded by ministers, counsellors, and judges, learned in the law, who are all of this opinion, and reflects how necessary it is for him to be well with his Parliament, from whose yearly grants his fleets and armies are to be supported, and the deficiencies of his civil list supplied, it is not to be wondered at, that he should be firm in an opinion established, as far as an act of Parliament could establish it, by even the friends of America at the time they repealed the Stamp Act; and which is so generally thought right by his Lords and
Commons, that any act of his, countenancing the contrary, would hazard his embroiling himself with those powerful bodies. And from hence it seems hardly to be expected from him, that he should take any step of that kind. The grievous instructions, indeed, might be withdrawn without their observing it, if his Majesty thought fit so to do; but, under the present prejudices of all about him, it seems that this is not yet likely to be advised.
The question then arises, How are we to obtain redress? If we look back into the Parliamentary history of this country, we shall find, that, in similar situations of the subjects here, redress would seldom be obtained but by withholding aids when the sovereign was in distress, till the grievances were removed. Hence the rooted custom of the Commons to keep money bills in their own disposition, not suffering even the Lords to meddle in grants, either as to quantity, manner of raising, or even in the smallest circumstance. This country pretends to be collectively our sovereign. It is now deeply in debt. Its funds are far short of recovering their par since the last war; another would distress it still more. Its people diminish, as well as its credit. Men will be wanted, as well as money. The colonies are rapidly increasing in wealth and numbers. In the last war they maintained an army of twenty-five thousand. A country, able to do that, is no contemptible ally. In another war they may perhaps do twice as much with equal ease.
Whenever a war happens, our aid will be wished for, our friendship desired and cultivated, our good will courted. Then is the time to say, “Redress our grievances. You take money from us by force, and now you ask it of voluntary grant. You cannot have it both ways. If you
choose to have it without our consent, you must go on taking it that way, and be content with what little you can so obtain. If you would have our free gifts, desist from your compulsive methods, and acknowledge our rights, and secure our future enjoyment of them.” Our claims will then be attended to, and our complaints regarded.
By what I perceived not long since, when a war was apprehended with Spain, the different countenance put on by some great men here towards those who were thought to have a little influence in America, and the language that began to be held with regard to the then minister for the colonies, I am confident, that, if that war had taken place, he would have been immediately dismissed, all his measures reversed, and every step taken to recover our affection and procure our assistance. Thence I think it fair to conclude, that similar effects will probably be produced by similar circumstances.
But, as the strength of an empire depends not only on the union of its parts, but on their readiness for united exertion of their common force; and as the discussion of rights may seem unseasonable in the commencement of actual war, and the delay it might occasion be prejudicial to the common welfare; as likewise the refusal of one or a few colonies would not be so much regarded, if the others granted liberally, which perhaps by various artifices and motives they might be prevailed on to do; and as this want of concert would defeat the expectation of general redress, that otherwise might be justly formed; perhaps it would be best and fairest for the colonies, in a general congress now in peace to be assembled, or by means of the correspondence lately proposed, after a full and solemn assertion and declaration of their rights, to engage firmly with each other, that they will never grant
aids to the crown in any general war, till those rights are recognised by the King and both Houses of Parliament; communicating at the same time to the crown this their resolution. Such a step I imagine will bring the dispute to a crisis; and, whether our demands are immediately complied with, or compulsory measures thought of to make us rescind them, our ends will finally be obtained; for even the odium accompanying such compulsory attempts will contribute to unite and strengthen us, and in the mean time all the world will allow, that our proceeding has been honorable.
No one doubts the advantage of a strict union between the mother country and the colonies, if it may be obtained and preserved on equitable terms.
In every fair connexion, each party should find its own interest. Britain will find hers in our joining with her in every war she makes, to the greater annoyance and terror of her enemies; in our employment of her manu
5 factures, and enriching her merchants by our commerce; and her government will feel some additional strengthening of its hands by the disposition of our profitable posts and places. On our side, we have to expect the protection she can afford us, and the advantage of a common umpire in our disputes, thereby preventing wars we might otherwise have with each other; so that we can without interruption go on with our improvements, and increase our numbers. We ask no more of her, and she should not think of forcing more from us.
By the exercise of prudent moderation on her part, mixed with a little kindness; and by a decent behaviour on ours, excusing where we can excuse from a consideration of circumstances, and bearing a little with the infirmities of her government, as we would with those of an aged parent, though firmly asserting our privileges, and declaring that we mean at a proper time to vindicate them, this advantageous union may still be long continued. We wish it, and we may endeavour it; but God will order it as to his wisdom shall seem most suitable. The friends of liberty here wish we may long preserve it on our side of the water, that they may find it there, if adverse events should destroy it here. They are therefore anxious and afraid, lest we should hazard it by premature attempts in its favor. They think we may risk much by violent measures, and that the risk is unnecessary, since a little time must infallibly bring us all we demand or desire, and bring it to us in peace and safety. I do not presume to advise. There are many wiser men among you, and I hope you will be directed by a stil superior wisdom.
With regard to the sentiments of people in general here, concerning America, I must say, that we have among them many friends and wellwishers. The Dissenters are all for us, and many of the merchants and manufacturers. There seems to be, even among the country gentlemen, a general sense of our growing importance, a disapprobation of the harsh measures with which we have been treated, and a wish that some means may be found of perfect reconciliation. A few members of Parliament in both Houses, and perhaps some in high office, have in a degree the same ideas; but none of these seem willing as yet to be active in our favor, lest adversaries should take advantage, and charge it upon them as a betraying the interests of this nation. In this state of things, no endeavour of mine, or our other friends here, “ to obtain a repeal of the acts so oppressive to the colonists, or the orders of the crown so destructive of the charter rights of our province in particular, can expect a sudden suc