« ZurückWeiter »
nies from all share in the choice of the grand council will give extreme dissatisfaction; as well as the taxing them by act of Parliament, where they have no representation. It is very possible, that this general government might be as well and faithfully administered without the people, as with them; but where heavy burthens are to be laid upon them, it has been found useful to make it as much as possible their own act; for they bear better, when they have, or think they have, some share in the direction; and when any public measures are generally grievous, or even distasteful, to the people, the wheels of government move more heavily.
ON THE IMPOSITION OF DIRECT TAXES UPON THE COLONIES WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT.
Wednesday Morning, (December 18th, 1754.)
I mentioned it yesterday to your Excellency as my opinion, that excluding the people of the colonies from all share in the choice of the grand council would probably give extreme dissatisfaction, as well as the taxing them by act of Parliament, where they have no representation. In matters of general concern to the people, and especially where burthens are to be laid upon them, it is of use to consider, as well what they will be apt to think and say, as what they ought to think. I shall therefore, as your Excellency requires it of me, briefly mention what of either kind occurs to me on this occasion.
First, they will say, and perhaps with justice, that the body of the people in the colonies are as loyal,
and as firmly attached to the present constitution and reigning family, as any subjects in the King's dominions.
That there is no reason to doubt the readiness and willingness of the representatives they may choose to grant from time to time such supplies for the defence of the country, as shall be judged necessary, so far as their abilities will allow.
That the people in the colonies, who are to feel the immediate mischiefs of invasion and conquest by an enemy, in the loss of their estates, lives, and liberties, are likely to be better judges of the quantity of forces necessary to be raised and maintained, forts to be built and supported, and of their own abilities to bear the expense, than the Parliament of England, at so great a distance.
That governors often come to the colonies merely to make fortunes, with which they intend to return to Britain; are not always men of the best abilities or integrity; have many of them no estates here, nor any natural connexion with us, that should make them heartily concerned for our welfare; and might possibly be fond of raising and keeping up more forces than necessary, from the profits accruing to themselves, and to make provision for their friends and dependents.
That the counsellors in most of the colonies being appointed by the crown, on the recommendation of governors, are often persons of small estates, frequently dependent on the governors for offices, and therefore too much under influence.
That there is therefore great reason to be jealous of a power in such governors and councils to raise such sums, as they shall judge necessary, by drafts on the Lords of the Treasury, to be afterwards laid
on the colonies by act of Parliament, and paid by the people here; since they might abuse it, by projecting useless expeditions, harassing the people, and taking them from their labor to execute such projects, merely to create offices and employments, and gratify their dependents, and divide profits.
That the Parliament of England is at a great distance, subject to be misinformed and misled by such governors and councils, whose united interests might probably secure them against the effect of any complaint from hence.
That it is supposed an undoubted right of Englishmen not to be taxed but by their own consent, given through their representatives.
That the colonies have no representatives in Parliament.
That to propose taxing them by Parliament, and refuse them the liberty of choosing a representative council to meet in the colonies, and consider and judge of the necessity of any general tax and the quantum, shows a suspicion of their loyalty to the crown, or of their regard for their country, or of their common sense and understanding, which they have not deserved.
That compelling the colonies to pay money without their consent, would be rather like raising contributions in an enemy's country, than taxing of Englishmen for their own public benefit.
That it would be treating them as a conquered people, and not as true British subjects.
That a tax laid by the representatives of the colonies might be easily lessened as the occasions should lessen; but, being once laid by Parliament under the influence of the representations made by governors, would probably be kept up and continued for the
benefit of governors, to the grievous burthen and discontent of the colonies, and prevention of their growth and increase.
That a power in governors to march the inhabitants from one end of the British and French colonies to the other, being a country of at least one thousand five hundred miles long, without the approbation or the consent of their representatives first obtained to such expeditions, might be grievous and ruinous to the people, and would put them upon a footing with the subjects of France in Canada, that now groan under such oppression from their governor, who for two years past has harassed them with long and destructive marches to Ohio.
That if the colonies in a body may be well governed by governors and councils appointed by the crown, without representatives, particular colonies may as well or better be so governed; a tax may be laid upon them all by act of Parliament for support of government, and their Assemblies may be dismissed as an useless part of the constitution.
That the powers, proposed by the Albany Plan of Union to be vested in a grand council representative of the people, even with regard to military matters, are not so great as those which the colonies of Rhode Island and Connecticut are intrusted with by their charters, and have never abused; for, by this plan, the president-general is appointed by the crown, and controls all by his negative; but in those governments, the people choose the governor, and yet allow him no negative.
That the British colonies bordering on the French are properly frontiers of the British empire; and the frontiers of an empire are properly defended at the joint expense of the body of the people in such
empire. It would now be thought hard by act of Parliament to oblige the Cinque Ports or seacoasts of Britain to maintain the whole navy, because they are more immediately defended by it, not allowing them at the same time a vote in choosing members of the Parliament; and, as the frontiers of America bear the expense of their own defence, it seems hard to allow them no share in voting the money, judging of the necessity and sum, or advising the measures.
That, besides the taxes necessary for the defence of the frontiers, the colonies pay yearly great sums to the mother country unnoticed; for
1. Taxes paid in Britain by the landholder or artificer must enter into and increase the price of the produce of land and manufactures made of it; and great part of this is paid by consumers in the colonies, who thereby pay a considerable part of the British
2. We are restrained in our trade with foreign nations; and where we could be supplied with any manufacture cheaper from them, but must buy the same dearer from Britain, the difference of price is a clear tax to Britain.
3. We are obliged to carry a great part of our produce directly to Britain; and where the duties laid upon it lessen its price to the planter, or it sells for less than it would in foreign markets, the difference is a tax paid to Britain.
4. Some manufactures we could make, but are forbidden, and must take them of British merchants; the whole price is a tax paid to Britain.
5. By our greatly increasing the demand and consumption of British manufactures, their price is con siderably raised of late years; the advantage is clear profit to Britain, and enables its people better to pay