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seemed to them to be-obey implicitly laws made by the parliament of Great Britain to raise money on you without your consent, or you shall enjoy no rights or privileges at all.
At the same time a person lately in high office* projected the levying more money from America, by new duties on various articles of our own manufacture (as glass, paper, painters' colours, &c.) appointing a new board of customs, and sending over a set of commissioners, with large salaries, to be established at Boston, who were to have the care of collecting those duties, which were by the act expressly mentioned to be intended for the payment of the salaries of governors, judges, and other officers of the crown in America; it being a pretty general opinion here, that those officers ought not to depend on the people there, for any part of their support,
It is not my intention to combat this opinion. But perhaps it may be some satisfaction to your readers, to know what ideas the Americans have on the subject. They say then, as to governors, that they are not like princes whose posterity have an inheritance in the government of a nation, and therefore an interest in its prosperity; they are generally strangers to the provinces they are sent to govern; have no estate, natural connection, or relation there, to give them an affection for the country; that they come only to make money as fast as they can; are sometimes men of vicious characters and broken fortunes, sent by a minister merely to get them out of the way; that as they intend staying in the country no longer than their government conti
Mr. Charles Townsend. B. V.
nues, and purpose to leave no family behind them, they are apt to be regardless of the good-will of the people, and care not what is said or thought of them after they are gone. Their situation at the same time gives them many opportunities of being vexatious; and they are often so, notwithstanding their dependence on the assemblies for all that part of their support, that does not arise from fees established by law, but would probably be much more so, if they were to be supported by money drawn from the people without their consent or good-will, which is the professed design of this new act. That if by means of these forced duties, government is to be supported in America, without the intervention of the assemblies, their assemblies will soon be looked upon as useless; and a governor will not call them, as having nothing to hope from their meeting, and perhaps something to fear from their inquiries into, and remonstrances against, his mal-administration. That thus the people will be deprived of their most essential right. That it being (as at present) a governor's interest to cultivate the good-will, by promoting the welfare of the people he governs, can be attended with no prejudice to the mother-country, since all the laws he may be prevailed on to give his assent to are subject to revision here, and if reported against by the board of trade, are immediately repealed by the crown; nor dare he pass any law contrary to his instructions; as he holds his office during the pleasure of the crown, and his securities are liable for the penalties of their bonds, if he contravenes those instructions. This is what they say as to governors.
As to judges, they alledge, that being appointed from hence, and holding their commissions not during good behaviour,
behaviour, as in Britain, but during pleasure: all the weight of interest or influence would be thrown into one of the scales (which ought to be held even) if the salaries are also to be paid out of duties raised upon the people without their consent, and independent of their assemblies approbation or disapprobation of the judges behaviour. That it is true, judges should be free from all influence; and therefore, whenever government here will grant commissions to able and honest judges during good behaviour, the assemblies will settle permanent and ample salaries on them during their commissions; but at present, they have no other means of getting rid of an ignorant or an unjust judge (and some of scandalous characters have, they say, been sometimes sent them) left, but by starving them out.
I do not suppose these reasonings of theirs will appear here to have much weight. I do not produce them with an expectation of convincing your readers. I relate them merely in pursuance of the task I have imposed on myself, to be an impartial historian of American facts and opinions.
The colonists being thus greatly alarmed, as I said before, by the news of the act for abolishing the legislature of New York, and the imposition of these new duties, professedly for such disagreeable purposes (accompanied by a new set of revenue officers, with large appointments, which gave strong suspicions, that more business of the same kind was soon to be provided for them, that they might earn their salaries) began seriously to consider their situation; and to revolve afresh in their minds, grievances, which, from their respect and love for this country, they had long borne and seemed almost willing to forget. They reflected how lightly
the interest of all America had been estimated here, when the interests of a few of the inhabitants of Great Britain happened to have the smallest competition. with it. That the whole American people was forbidden the advantage of a direct importation of wine, oil, and fruit, from Portugal; but must take them loaded with all the expence of a voyage one thousand leagues round about, being to be landed first in England, to be re-shipped for America; expences amounting, in wartime, at least to thirty pounds per cent more than otherwise they would have been charged with; and all this merely, that a few Portugal merchants in London may gain a commission on those goods passing through their hands. (Portugal merchants, by the bye, that can complain loudly of the smallest hardships laid on their trade by foreigners, and yet even in the last year could oppose with all their influence the giving ease to their fellow-subjects labouring under so heavy an oppression!) That on a slight complaint of a few Virginia merchants, nine colonies had been restrained from making paper-money, become absolutely necessary to their internal commerce, from the constant remittance of their gold and silver to Britain.-But not only the interest of a particular body of merchants, but the interest of any small body of British tradesmen or artificers has been found, they say, to outweigh that of all the king's subjects in the colonies. There cannot be a stronger natural right than that of a man's making the best profit he can of the natural produce of his lands, provided he does not thereby hurt the state in general. Iron is to be found every where in America, and beaver are the natural produce of that country: hats,, and nails and steel are wanted there as well as here. It is
of no importance to the common welfare of the empire, whether a subject of the king gets his living by making hats on this, or on that side of the water. Yet the hatters of England have prevailed to obtain an act in their own favour, restraining that manufacture in America; in order to oblige the Americans to send their beaver to England to be manufactured, and purchase back the hats, loaded with the charges of a double transportation. In the same manner have a few nail-makers, and still a smaller body of steel-makers (perhaps there are not half a dozen of these in England) prevailed totally to forbid by an act of parliament the erecting of slitting-mills, or steel furnaces in America; that the Americans may be obliged to take all their nails for their buildings, and steel for their tools, from these artificers, under the same disadvantages.*
I shall here give the reader the note at the end of the fourth paragraph of the farmer's seventh letter (written by Mr. Dickenson.)
"Many remarkable instances might be produced of the extraordinary Inattention with which bills of great importance concerning these colonies have passed in parliament; which is owing, as it is supposed, to the bills being brought in, by the persons who have points to carry, so artfully framed, that it is not easy for the members in general in the haste of business, to discover their tendency.
"The following instances show the truth of this remark.
"When Mr. Grenville, in the violence of reformation and innovation, formed the 4th George III. chap. 15th, for regulating the American trade, the word 'Ireland' was dropt in the clause relating to our iron and lumber, so that we could send these articles to no other part of Europe, but to Great Britain. This was so unreasonable a restriction, and so contrary to the sentiments of the legislature, for many years before, that it is surprising it should not have been taken notice of in the house. However, the bill pas sed into a law. But when the matter was explained, this restriction was taken off in a subsequent act.