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attachment of the colonists to the mother Chap.h country, and assert the rights they claim, in 1765. the style of conviction.
In addition to these measures, congress recommended to the several colonies to appoint special agents, who should unite their utmost endeavours in soliciting redress of grievances; and having directed their clerk to make out a copy of their proceedings for each colony, they adjourned.
To interest the people of England against the measures of administration, associations were formed, in every part of the continent, for the encouragement of domestic manufactures, and against the use of those imported from Great Britain. To increase their quantity of wool, they determined to kill no lambs, and to use all the means in their power to multiply their flocks of sheep. As a security against. the use of stamps, proceedings in the courts of justice were suspended, and it was earnestly recommended to settle all controversies by arbitration. While this determined and systematic opposition was made by the' thinking part of the community, there were some riotous violence
r * * ui the
and disorderly meetings, especially in the large 8r«ttown towns, which threatened serious consequences. Many houses were destroyed, much property injured, and several persons, highly respectable in character and station, grossly abused. These violences received no countenance from the
Chap, a leading members of society, but it was extremely 1765. difficult to stimulate the mass of the people to that vigorous and persevering opposition which was deemed essential to the preservation of American liberty, and yet to restrain all those excesses which disgrace, and often defeat the wisest measures. In Connecticut and New York, originated an association of persons styling themselves the "sons of liberty," who bound themselves, among other things, to march to any part of the continent, at their own expense, to support the British constitution in America; by which was expressly stated to be understood, the prevention of any attempt which might any where be made, to carry the stamp act into operation. A corresponding committee of these "sons of liberty" was established, who addressed letters to certain conspicuous characters throughout the colonies, and contributed, very materially, to increase the spirit of opposition, and perhaps, the turbulence with which it was in some places attended.
thwRfof While these transactions were taking place
the adnu- O Jr.
mstration. m America, causes entirely unconnected with the affairs of the colonies produced a total revolution in the British cabinet. The Grenville party was succeedecLby an administration unfriendly to a further prosecution of the plan for taxing the colonies without their consent. General Conway, now one of the principal secretaries of state, addressed a circular letter Chap. n. to the respective governors of the colonies, in 1765. which he disapproved, in mild terms, the violent Scptemb<.r. measures which had been adopted in America, and recommended to them, while they main- October. tained the dignity of the crown and of parliament, to observe a temperate and conciliatory conduct towards the colonists, and endeavour, by all persuasive means, to restore the public peace.
Parliament was opened by a speech from the 1766. throne, in which his majesty declared "his Janoary firm confidence in their wisdom and zeal, which would, he doubted not, guide them to such sound and prudent resolutions, as might tend at once to preserve the constitutional rights of the British legislature over the colonies,, and to restore to them that harmony and tranquillity, which had lately been interrupted by disorders of the most dangerous nature."
In the course of the debate in the house of commons, on the motion for the address, mr. Pitt.in the most explicit terms, condemned the act for collecting the stamp duties in America, and declared his opinion to be, that parliament had no right to tax the colonies. At the same time he asserted "the authority of that kingdom to be sovereign and supreme in every circumstance of government and legislation whatever." He maintained the difficult proposition "that taxation is no part of the governing or legislative power; but that taxes are a voluntary gift and Chap.ii. grant of the commons alone." He concluded 1766. a very able and very eloquent speech, by recommending to the house "that the stamp act be repealed, absolutely, totally and immediately."
The opinions, whifch had been maintained by mr. Pitt, were very warmly opposed by the late ministers headed by mr. Grenville. He said "that the disturbances in America were grown to tumults and riots; he doubted, they boidered on open rebellion; and, if the doctrine he had heard that day should be confirmed, he feared they would lose that name, to take that of revolution. The government over them being dissolved, a revolution" he said "would take place in America." He contended that taxation was a part of the sovereign power;.... one branch of the legislation; and had been exercised over those who were not represented. He could not comprehend the distinction between external and internal taxation, and insisted that the colonies ought to bear a part of the burdens, occasioned by a war for their defence, stamps* The existing administration, however, con
rcpraled. ° 7
curred in sentiment with mr. Pitt, and the act
was repealed; but its repeal was accompanied
with a declaratory act, asserting the power and right of Great Britain to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever.
The joy in America, on receivingintelligence of this event, was unbounded. The assertion of the abstract principle of right gave them but I
little concern, because they considered it merely Chap.il as a salvo for the wounded pride of the nation, 1766. and believed confidently that no future attempt would be made to reduce it to practice. The highest honours were every where conferred on those parliamentary leaders,who had been active in obtaining a repeal of the act; and in Virginia, an act passed the house of burgesses for erecting a statue to his majesty, as an acknowledgment of their high sense of his attention to the rights and petitions of his people. With the repealing and declaratory acts, came a circular letter from secretary Conway, extolling "the moderation, the forbearance, the unexampled lenity and tenderness of parliament towards the colonies;" this signal display of which, he hoped, "could not but dispose them to that return of cheerful obedience to the laws and legislative authority of Great Britain, and to those sentiments of respectful gratitude to the mother country, which are the natural, and," he trusted, "w ould be, the certain effects of so much grace and condescension, so remarkably manifested on the part of his majesty, and of the parliament."
Although the sentiment of joy, produced by the repeal of the stamp act, was common to all the colonies, the same temper did not prevail in all of them. The commercial regulations excited, in the northern trading towns, scarcely less disgust than had been created by the stamp