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the sense they entertained of the acts against which they petitioned
After the petition to the king had been voted, a day was appointed to take into consideration the propriety of addressing their sister colonies on a subject equally interesting to all. After long and earnest debate, the motion for the address was lost in a house consisting of eighty-two msmbers* ; but, on a motion for re-considering the resolution, which was made on a subsequent day, in a house consisting of the same number of members, it was carried in the affirmative by a great majority; and, by an immediate subsequent resolve, the first resolution was erased.
A circular letter to the assemblies of the respective colonies, stating the proceedings of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts, was then agreed to; one copy of which was presented to their governor, and another copy, to prevent its being misrepresented, was transmitted to their agent in Londont.
* The whole number of members was then one hundred and ten,
+ Province of Massacbussetts' Bay, Feb. jith, 1768. Sir, The House of Representatives of this province have taken into their consideration the great difficulties that must accrue 10 themselves and their constituents, by the operation of the several acts of parliaments imposing duties and taxes on the American colonies, As it is a subject in which every colony is deeply interested,
"To avoid what might give to these measures taken in defence of rights believed to be the most clear
they have no reason to doubt but your house is duly impressed with its importance, and that such constitutional measures will be come into as are proper. It seems to be necessary that all possible care should be taken that the representations of the several assemblies, upon so delicate a point, should harmonize with each other : the house therefore hopes that this letter will be candidly considered, in no other light than as expressing a disposition freely to communi. cate their mind to a sister colony, upon a common concern, in the same manner as they would be glad to receive the sentiments of your or any other house of assembly on the continent.
The house have humbly represented to the ministry their own sentiments, that his Majesty's high court of parliament is the supreme legislative power over the whole empire; that in all free states the constitution is fixed, and, as the supreme legislative derives its power and authority from the constitution, it cannot overleap the bounds of it without destroying its foundation ; that the constitution' ascertains and limits both sovereignty and allegiance; and therefore his Majesty's American subjects, who acknowledge themselves bound by the ties of allegiance, have an equitable claim to the full enjoyment of the fundamental rules of the British constitution; that it is an essential unalterable right in nature, ingrafted into the British constitution as a fundamental law, and ever held sacred and irrevocable by the subjects within the realm, that what a man hath honestly acquired is absolutely his own, which he may freely give, but cannot be taken from him without his consent; that the American subjects may therefore, exclusive of any consideration of charter rights, with a decent firmness, adapted to the character of freemen and subjects, assert this natural and constitutional right.
It is morever their humble opinion, which they express with the greatest deference to the wisdom of the parliament, that the acts made there, imposing duties on the people of this province, with
and the most sacred, the appearance of systematic opposition to the British governinent, the house,
the sole and express purpose of raising a revenue, are infringements of their natural and constitutional rights; because, as they are not represented in the British parliament, his Majesty's Commons in Britain, by those acts, grant their property without their consent.
This house further is of opinion, that their constituents, consider. ing their local circumstances, cannot by any possibility be represented in the Parliament; and that it will for ever be impracticable that they should be equally represented there, and consequently not at all, being separated by an ocean of a thousand leagues. That his Majesty's royal predecessors, for this reason, were gra. ciously pleased to form a subordinate legislative here, that their subjects might enjoy the unalienable right of a representation. Also that, considering the utter impracticability of their ever . being fully and equally represented in parliament, and the great expense that must unavoidably attend even a partial representation there, this house think that a taxation of their constituents, even without their consent, grievous as it is, would be preferable to any representation that could be admitted for them there.
Upon these principles, and also considering that were the right in the parliament ever so clear, yet, for obvious reasons, it would be beyond the rule of equity that their constituents should be taxed on the manufactures of Great Britain here, in addition to the duties they pay for them in England, and other advantages arising to Great Britain from the acts of trade; this house have preferred a bumble, dutiful, and loyal petition to our most gracious Sovereign, and made such représentation to his Majesty's ministers as they apprehend would tend to obtain redress.
They have also submitted to consideration, whether any people can be said to cnjoy any degree of freedom, if the crown in addition to its undoubted authority of constituting a governor, should appoint him such a stipend as it shall judge proper without the
soon after concluding their circular letter, called up a requisition of the governor to make a further
consent of the people, and at their expense: and whether, while the judges of the land and other civil officers hold not their commissions during good behaviour, their having salaries appointed for them by the crown, independent of the people, hath not a tendency to subvert the principles of equity, and endanger the happiness and security of the subject.
In addition to these measures, the house have written a letter to their agent, Mr. De Berdt, the sentiments of which he is directed to lay before the ministry, wherein they take notice of the hardship of the act for preventing mutiny and desertion, which requires the governor and council to provide enumerated articles for the king's marching troops, and the people to pay the expense; and also the commission of the gentlemen appointed commissioners of the customs to reside in America, which authorizes them to make as many appointments as they think fit, and to pay the appointees what sums they please, for whose malconduct they are not account. able: from whence it may happen that officers of the crown may be multiplied to such a degree as to become dangerous to the liberties of the people, by virtue of a commission which doth not appear to this house to derive any such advantages to trade as many have been led to expect.
These are the sentiments and proceedings of the house; and as they have too much reason to believe that the enemies of the colo nies have represented them to his Majesty's ministers and the parliameni as factious, disloyal, and having a disposition to make themselves independent of the mother country, they have taken occasion, in the most humble terms, to assure his Majesty and bis ministers, that, with regard to the people of this province, and as they doubt not of all the colonies, the charge is unjust.
The house is fully satisfied that your Assembly is too generous and enlarged in sentiment to believe that this letter proceeds from
provision for one of the king's garrisons within the province; which, without acknowledging the obligations of the mutiny act, they, of their free accord, instantly complied with. Soon afterwards the go, vernor prorogued the general court. This measure was accompanied by an angry speech, but little calculated to diminish the resentments of the house, directed personally against him-resentments occasioned as well by the haughtiness of his manners, and . a persuasion that he had misrepresented, in his letters to ministers, their conduct and opinions, as by the unpopular course his station at present required him to pursue.
The circular letter of the house of representatives of Massachussets was extremely well received in the other colonies ; they generally approved the measures of opposition which had been taken, and readily united in them. They, too, petitioned the king against the obnoxious acts of parliament, and instructed their several agents to use all proper means to obtain their repeal. Virginia transmitted to her sister colonies a statement of her pro
an ambition of taking the lead, or dictating to the other Assemblies; they freely submit their opinion to the judgment of others; and shall take it kind in your house to point out to them any thing further that may be thought necessary.
This house cannot conclude without expressing their firm confidence in the king, our common head and father, that the united and dutiful supplications of his distressed American subjects will meet with bis royal and favourable acceptance.