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near Half a Century in the Middle Colonies, has convinced them of it among themselves; by the great Increase of their Settlements, Numbers, Buildings, Improvements, Agriculture, Shipping and Commerce. And the same Experience has satisfied the British Merchants who trade thither, that it has been greatly useful to them, and not in a single Instance prejudicial. It is therefore hoped, that securing the full Discharge of British Debts, which are payable here, and in all Justice and Reason ought to be fully discharged here in Sterling Money, the Restraint on the legal Tender within the Colonies will be taken off, at least for those Colonies that desire it, and where the Merchants trading to them make no objection
to it. London, March II, 1767.
426. THE REPEAL OF THE STAMP ACT *
To THE PRINTER,
It is reported, I know not with what Foundation, that there is an Intention of obliging the Americans to pay for all the Stamps they ought to have used, between the Commencement of the Act, and the Day on which the Repeal takes Place, viz. from the first of November 1765 to the first of May 1766; and this is to make part of an Act, which is to give Validity to the Writings and Law Proceedings, that contrary to Law have been executed without Stamps, and is to be the Condition on which they are to receive that Validity. Shall we
1 Printed from Goddard's Pennsylvania Chronicle, March 23, 1767, where it was copied from the Gazetteer. — ED.
then keep up for a Trifle the Heats and Animosities that have been occasioned by the Stamp Act? and lose all the Benefit of Harmony and good Understanding between the different Parts of the Empire, which were expected from a generous total Repeal? Is this Pittance likely to be a Whit more easily collected than the whole Duty P Where are Officers to be found who will undertake to collect it? Who is to protect them while they are about it? In my Opinion, it will meet with the same Opposition, and be attended with the same Mischiefs that would have attended an Enforcement of the Act entire. But I hear, that this is thought necessary, to raise a Fund for defraying the Expence that has been incurred by stamping so much Paper and Parchment for the Use of America, which they have refused to take and turn'd upon our Hands; and that since they are highly favour’d by the Repeal, they cannot with any Face of Decency refuse to make good the Charges we have been at on their Account. The whole Proceeding would put one in Mind of the Frenchman that used to accost English and other Strangers on the PontNeuf," with many Compliments, and a red hot Iron in his Hand; Pray Monsieur Anglois, says he, Do me the Favour to let me have the Honour of thrusting this hot Iron into your Backside 2 Zoons, what does the Fellow mean I Begone with your Iron or I'll break your Head Nay Monsieur, replies he, if you do not chuse it, I do not insist upon it. But at least, you will in Justice have the Goodness to pay me something for the heating of my Iron.
1 A bridge over the River Seine, leading to Paris. – F.
N. B. The Project of the Act was really as mentioned above, but altered afterwards in the House, so as to be a total Indemnification, without the Payment of any Money at all. [Ed. of the Chronicle.]
427. TO LORD KAMES' London, April 11, 1767. MY DEAR LORD,
I received your obliging favour of January the 19th. You have kindly relieved me from the pain I had long been under. You are goodness itself. I ought to have answered yours of December 25. 1765. I never received a letter that contained sentiments more suitable to my own. It found me under much agitation of mind on the very important subject it treated. It fortified me greatly in the judgment I was inclined to form (though contrary to the general vogue) on the then delicate and critical situation of affairs between Great Britain and her Colonies, and on that weighty point, their Union. You guessed aright in supposing that I would not be a mute in that play. I was extremely busy, attending Members of both Houses, informing, explaining, consulting, disputing, in a continual hurry from morning to night, till the affair was happily ended. During the course of it, being called before the House of Commons, I spoke my mind pretty freely. Inclosed I send you the imperfect account that was taken of that examination. “You will there see how entirely we agree, except in a point of fact, of which you could not but be misinformed; the papers at that time being full of mistaken assertions, that the colonies had been the cause of the war, and had ungratefully refused to bear any part of the expence of it. I send it you now, because I apprehend some late incidents are likely to revive the contest between the two countries. I fear it will be a mischievous one. It becomes a matter of great importance that clear ideas should be formed on solid principles, both in Britain and America, of the true political relation between them, and the mutual duties belonging to that relation. Till this is done, they will be often jarring. I know none whose knowledge, sagacity and impartiality qualify him so thoroughly for such a service, as yours do you. I wish therefore you would consider it. You may thereby be the happy instrument of great good to the nation, and of preventing much mischief and bloodshed. I am fully persuaded with you, that a Consolidating Union, by a fair and equal representation of all the parts of this empire in Parliament, is the only firm basis on which its political grandeur and prosperity can be founded. Ireland once wished it, but now rejects it. The time has been, when the colonies might have been pleased with it: they are now indifferent about it; and if it is much longer delayed, they too will re. juse it. But the pride of this people cannot bear the thought of it, and therefore it will be delayed. Every man in England seems to consider himself as a piece of a sovereign over America; seems to jostle himself into the throne with the King, and talks of our subjects in the Colonies. The Parliament cannot well and wisely make laws suited to the Colonies, without being properly and truly informed of their circumstances, abilities, temper, &c. This it cannot be, without representatives from thence: and yet it is fond of this power,
* From “Memoirs of the Life and Writings of the Honourable Henry Home of Kames.” Vol. II, p. 75. —ED.
knowledge for exercising it; which is desiring to be omnipotent, without being omniscient. I have mentioned that the contest is likely to be revived. It is on this occasion. In the same session with the stamp act, an act was passed to regulate the quartering of Soldiers in America; when the bill was first brought in, it contained a clause, empowering the officers to quarter their soldiers in private houses: this we warmly opposed, and got it omitted. The bill passed, however, with a clause, that empty houses, barns, &c., should be hired for them, and that the respective provinces where they were should pay the expence and furnish firing, bedding, drink, and some other articles to the soldiers gratis. There is no way for any province to do this, but by the Assembly’s making a law to raise the money. The Pennsylvanian Assembly has made such a law: the New York Assembly has refused to do it: and now all the talk here is of sending a force to compel them. The reasons given by the Assembly to the Governor, for the refusal, are, that they understand the act to mean the furnishing such things to soldiers, only while on their march through the country, and not to great bodies of Soldiers, to be fixt as at present, in the province; the burthen in the latter case being greater than the inhabitants can bear: That it would put it in the power of the Captain-General to oppress the province at pleasure, &c. But there is Supposed to be another reason at bottom, which they intimate, though they do not plainly express it; to wit, that it is of the nature of an internal tax laid on them by Parliament, which has no right so to do. Their refusal is here called Rebellion, and punishment is thought of. Now waving that point of right, and supposing the Legis