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in them, had made a strong impression, and Chap. n. would not lightly be abandoned. It ought to 1768. have been foreseen that with such a people, so determined, the conflict must be stern and hazardous; and even if ultimate success might be counted on, it was well worth the estimate, whether the object would compensate the means used in obtaining it.
A petition to the king was also agreed on, j£^TMw replete with professions of loyalty and attach
* * * January «|.
ment to his person and family, but stating in
very explicit terms, the sense they entertained of the acts against which they petitioned.
After the petition to the king had been Tventy-nm voted, a day was appointed to take under 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 members:* but on a motion for reconsidering the resolution which was made on a subsequent day, in a house consisting of February«. 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 Eleventh, respective colonies, stating the proceedings of
* The Whole number of members was then one hundred and ten.
Chap, u. the house of representatives of Massachussetts 1768. was then agreed to; one copy of which was i«ttS*to presented to their governor, and another copy, fnpMin. to prevent its being misrepresented, was transmitted to their agent in London.*
To avoid what might give to these measures, taken in defence of rights believed to be the most clear and the most sacred, the appearance of systematic opposition to the British government, the house, soon after concluding their circular letter, called up a requisition of the governor to make a further 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 governor 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 Massachussetts was extremely well
• See Note, M. VI. at the end of the volume.
received in the other colonies. They generally Chap. U. approved the measures of opposition which had 1-68. 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 proceedings, and in the letter to Massachussetts, communicating the representation made by the house of burgesses to parliament, they say, "that they do not affect an independency of their parent kingdom, the prosperity of which they are bound, to the utmost of their abilities, to promote; but cheerfully acquiesce in the authority of parliament to make laws for preserving a necessary dependence, and for regulating the trade of the colonies: yet they cannot conceive, and humbly insist it is not essential, to support a proper relation between the mother country and colonies transplanted from her, that she should hav e a right to raise money from them without their consent, and presume they do not aspire to more than the rights of British subjects when they assert, that no power on earth has a right to impose taxes on the people, or take the smallest portion of their property, without their consent given by their representatives in parliament. This has ever been considered as the chief pillar of the constitution; without this support no man can be said to have the least
Chap.h. shadow of liberty: since they can have no proles, perty in that, which another can by right take from them when he pleases, without their consent."*
On the first intimation of the measures taken by Massachussetts, the earl of Hillsborough,who had been appointed, about the close of the year 1767, to the then newly created office of secretary of state for the department of the colonies, Letter from addressed a circular letter to the several goverhLiisborougii nors, to be laid by them before the assemblies of their respective colonies, in which he treats the circular letter of Massachussetts as being of the most dangerous and factious tendency, calculated to inflame the minds of his majesty's good
* In this letter too, the house of burgesses, after reprobating the act imposing duties on glass, &c. express their opinion concerning the mutiny act in the following terms. "The act suspending the legislative power of New York, they consider as still more alarming to the colonies, though it has that single province in view. If parliament can compel them to furnish a single article to the troops sent over, they may, by the same rule, oblige them to furnish clothes, arms, and every other necessary, even the pay of the officers and soldiers; a doctrine replete with every mischief, and utterly subversive of all that's dear and valuable; for what advantage can the people of the colonies derive from their right of choosing their own representatives, if those representatives when chosen, be not permitted to exercise their own judgments, be under a necessity (on pain of being deprived of their legislative authority) of enforcing the mandates of a British parlia. roent."
Subjects in the colonies, to promote an unwar- Chap. n. rantable combination, to excite and encourage an 1768. open opposition to and denial of the authority of parliament, and to subvert the true principles of the constitution; and he endeavours to prevail with them to treat with a proper resentment, what he terms "such an unjustifiable attempt to revive those distractions which have operated so fatally to the prejudice of the colonies, and of the mother country;" but in any event not to take part with Massachussetts by approving such proceedings.
Far from producing the desired effect, this letter of the earl of Hillsborough rather served to strengthen the determination of the colonies to unite in their endeavours for the purpose of obtaining a repeal of the laws so universally detested; and they declared that they could not consider as an unwarrantable combination, a concert of measures to give weight and efficacy to their representations in support of principles', they deemed essential to the preservation of the British constitution, and of British liberty.
It is probable that this letter was accompanied with instructions to dissolve such assemblies as should refuse to comply with its recommendation, as the assemblies were generally dissolved on taking the same into consideration, and declining to gratify the wish expressed by his
Vol. n. '<i