Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Chap. H. indulgence until they are grown to a good 1765. degree of strength and opulence, and protected by our arms, will they grudge to contribute their mite to relieve us from the heavy load of national expense, which we lie under?" In answer to this observation, colonel Barr€, indignantly and eloquently exclaimed, "Children planted by your care.i" "No! your oppression planted them in America. They fled from your tyranny into a then uncultivated land, where they were exposed to all the hardships to which human nature is liable, and among others, to the savage cruelty of the enemy of the country, a people the most subtle, and, I will take upon me to say, the most terrible that ever inhabited any part of God's earth. And yet, actuated by principles of true English liberty, they met all these hardships with pleasure, compared with those they suffered in their own country from those who should have been their friends. "They nourished by your indulgence/" u No! they grew by your neglect. When you began to care about them, that care was exercised in sending persons to rule over them, who were the deputies of some deputy sent to spy out their liberty, to misrepresent their actions, and to prey upon them:....men, whose behaviour, on many occasions, has caused the blood of those sons of liberty to recoil within them men promoted to the highest seats of justice, some of whom were glad, by going to a foreign

country, to escape being brought to the bar of Chap.u. justice in their own. "They protected by your 1765. arms?'''' They have nobly taken up arms in your defence; have exerted their valour, amidst their constant and laborious industry, for the defence of a country, the interior of which, while its frontiers were drenched in blood, has yielded all its little savings to your enlargement. Believe me....remember, I this day told you so; the same spirit which actuated that people at first, still continues with them.......but prudence forbids me to explain myself further. God knows, I do not at this time speak from party heat. However superior to me, in general knowledge and experience, any one here may be, I claim to know more of America, having seen and been conversant in that country. The people there are as truly loyal, I believe, as any subjects the king has; but a people jealous of their liberties, and who will vindicate them if they should be violated....but the subject is delicate ....I will say no more."

The passage of this act, the operation of which was to commence on the first of November, excited throughout the colonies the most serious and universal alarm. It was believed sincerely to wound vitally the constitution of the country, and to destroy the most sacred principles of liberty. Combinations against its execution were every where formed; and the utmost exertions were used to render as diffusive as possible, a knowledge of the per

Chap. ii. nicious consequences which must flow from 1765. admitting that America could be taxed by a legislature in which she was not represented.

The assembly of Virginia was in session when the intelligence was received. The subject was taken up, and, by a small majority, May 2». several resolutions which had been introduced by mr. Henry, and seconded by mr. Johnson* were agreed to, one of which asserts the exclusive right of that assembly to lay taxes and impositions on the inhabitants of that colony, and that every attempt to vest such a power elsewhere "is illegal, unconstitutional, and unjust, and has a manifest tendency to destroy British as well as American freedom."

On the passage of these resolutions the governor dissolved the assembly, and writs for new elections were issued. But so entirely did the people take part with the opposition to the scheme of taxation proposed by ministers, that in almost every instance, the members who had voted in favour of the resolutions, were re-elected, while those who had voted against them, were generally excluded in favour of J""c- candidates who entertained popular opinions.

The legislatures of several other colonies passed resolutions similar to those of Virginia, and'the house of representatives of Massachussetts, contemplating a still more solemn and

* See Note, A'o. IV. at the end of the volume.

effectual expression of the general sentiment, Chap. It.

recommended u congress of deputies from all 1765.

the colonial assemblies, to meet at New York the first tuesday in October, to consult together on the present circumstances of the colonies, and the difficulties to which they are, and must be reduced by the operation of the acts of parliament, for levying taxes on them. Circular letters signed by the speaker, communicating this recommendation, were addressed to the several speakers of the respective provincial assemblies, and wherever they were in session, the recommendation was acted on. New Hampshire alone, although joining in the general opposition, declined sending members to the congress; and the legislatures of Virginia and North Carolina were not in session.

In the mean time, the papers teemed with the most animating exhortations to the people, to unite in the defence of their liberty, and property; and the stamp officers,* almost every where, were compelled to resign.

• They were generally gentlemen of influence in the several provinces, who were recommended by the colonial agents ;....so little did they expect the serious opposition, made in America, to this measure. Mr. Gordon says, that doctor Franklin advised mr. Ingersoll to accept, the appointment which* was offered him, and added, at the same time, "go home, and tell your countrymen to get children as fast as they can;" plainly alluding to their supposed present inability to resist the power of Britain.

VoL. II. N

october. Congress

CHap. IL At the time appointed, the commissioners 1765. from the assemblies of Massachussetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the three lower counties on the NeTyor?. Delaware, Maryland, and South Carolina, assembledatNewYork; and Timothy Ruggles, esq. of Massachussetts, having been chosen their chairman, they proceeded on the important objects for which they had convened. The first measure of the congress was a declaration* of the rights and grievances of the colonists. This paper asserts them to be entitled to all the rights and liberties of natural born subjects within the kingdom of Great Britain; among the most essential of which, are, the exclusive power to tax themselves, and the privilege of a trial by jury. ,

The grievance most complained of was, the act granting certain stamp duties and other duties in the British colonies, the direct tendency of which, they said, by taxing the colonists without their consent, and by extending the jurisdiction of courts of admiralty, was to subvert their rights and liberties.

A petition to the king was also agreed on, together with a memorial to each house of parliament.

These papers were drawn with temper and firmness. They express unequivocally, the

* See Note, JVo. V. at the end of the volume.

« ZurückWeiter »