Abbildungen der Seite

spite of all the precautions and provisions the wit of man

could invent. He also maintained, that, on a re-examination of the provincial accounts, their revenue was seven thousand three hundred and eighty-one pounds per annum, clear of the five hundred pounds per annum for sinking the five thousand pounds, formerly given-for the king’s use; and, that the sums due, and which, by the laws in being, should have been paid in the September preceding, amounted at least to, fourteen thousand pounds. He averted they could not but be- sensible that the twenty thousandv pounds currency they proposed to give, and called a generous- sum, was very insutllcient to answer the exigence, and that it was not two pence in the pound, upon the just and real value of the es‘ tates of the province; and, in short, he said whatsoever else occurred to him, which could favour his purpose of figuring here athome: as if he was in all respects right, and the assembly in all respects wrong. ‘

Argumentatively then, if not historically, we have now the merits of the case before us, and may safely pronounce, that, if instructions may or can be construed into laws, instructions are then of more value than proclamations, which do not pretend to any such authority.-~'-That, though grants

from the crown are in the first instance matter of grace, the

subject may claim the benefit of them as matter of right._~ That when the prerogative has once laid any restraint on itself, nothing short of a positive act of forfeiture, or act of parliament, canauthorise any species of resumption.-~That if a subsequent instruction may cancel or obviate an original grant, charters, under all the sanctions [the prerogative can give them, are no better than quicksands.--That in the "charter given to William Penn, Esq. and solemnly accepted as the basis of government, by hisfollowers, there is no reserve on the behalf of the crown, to tie up the province from malting the same use of its credit, which is the privilege of every private subject.--That, notwithstanding all the pretended sacro-sanctitude of an instruction, probationary at first, neither renewed or referred to, directly or indirectly, by his ma- ' jesty or his ministers‘ afterwards, and virtually discharged by



a subsequent act of parliament, which expressly restrained some colonies,‘and consequently left the rest in’possession of their ancient liberty, the governor was notoriously ready to [dispense with it on proprietary terms.--That the difference between five and ten years for sinking the bills, was a point in which the national interest had no concerm—That if the eastern colonies, which were those restrained by the said act, .mightrnevertheless, in case of exigence, make new issues of paper-money, those unrestrained might surely do the same in the like case, on such terms, and after a mode, as appeared most reasonable to theriiselves.-That, according to all the repre~ sentations of the governor to the assembly, if true, the fate of the province, if not of the public, depended on‘their giving a supply—That‘, consequently, no exigency could be more pressing than the present, nor emission of paper-money better warranted.--And that he could, nevertheless, leave the province exposed to all the calamities which that exigence could possibly bring upon it, or upon the servicev in general, rather than give up one proprietary item: whereas the difficulty imposed upon the people manifestly was, either to be a prey to their invaders, or give up every privilege that made their'country worth defending: which shews, in the fullest, clearest and most unanswerable manner, that all proprietary interposition between the sovereign and subject, is alike injurious to both; and that the solecism of an imperium in imperia, could hardly be more emphatically illustrated.

To the crown, under this difiiculty, the assembly now thought it high time to make their appeal; in humble confidence, that a fair and modest stateof their case, would recommend them to the royal protection, and skreen them from the malignity of their adversaries.

That the. governor, however, might not, in the mean time, remain ignorant of their sentiments, they made another application to him by message; in which they apprized him of what they had done, and of their joining issue with him in submitting their cause to his majesty’s decision; as also, of their inclination to adjourn till May, for the sake of their own private affairs, to relieve the province from the expence

't v . ‘

they sat at, and suspend the uneasiness which a contest, like 4 to bev endless, and 'in which they. were treated withv so little decency, had given to them. And having thus, as they ob- i ~ served, reduced what immediately concerned them, within a narrow compass, they first declare, it was hard for them to conjecture, how‘ the governor came by his knowledge of the 4» people’s fondness of their currency, and aversion to restraints I on that head; seeing they had not petitioned for any increase of it, nor the assembly offered any such vbill, during his administration, except that which comprehended the sum given for the king’s use, and that only as the best method they could devise for making the grant effectual. On the behalf of the late assemblies, they next insinuate, that when they did offer such bills they were but for a very moderate sum, founded on minute calculations of their trade, and guarded against the danger of depreciation, by such securities as long experience had shewn to be effectual. Proceeding then to . the governor’s re-assertion concerning the shameful slights put on the money-act of Queen Anne, they appeal to the tes- \ timony of the board of trade in favour of their own as a reasonable act, and the royal sanction given thereto, by which ' ~ 3 it is declared, that their provincial bills of credit are lawful ‘ money of America, according to the said act of Queen Anne; as also to the course of exchange ever since, as a full confutation of his charge. ,T hey further plead a necessity to differ from him in his state of the public money; assure him the computations he relied upon were made without skill, or a sufiicient knowledge of their laws; adhere to the justice and rectitude of their own state; maintain, that by the laws in being, seven .thousand pounds was the most they had power over, which sum, since their last settlement, had been greatly reduced by the very heavy charges of govern- ‘' ' ment; and, having recapitulated what the governor had been pleased to say concerning the insuflicience of their grant, Ste. '1‘ conclude in the followingspirited manner:

‘What the governor may think sufiicient', is as much a mystery to us, as he may apprehend his proprietary instruc- _ I ,- , ;| tions are; but, we presume, it may be suflicient for all the i ‘a 3”“




purposes in Sir Thomas Robinson’s last letter, and as much or more, than we think, can be reasonably expected from us. How the governor became so suddenly acquainted with

the real value of our estates,~ is not easy to conceive ; but we ,

know' from long experience, having many of us‘received our birth in. this province, that the inhabitants are ‘not generally h wealthy or rich, though we believe them to be, in the main, frugal and industrious, yet it is evident that their lands are ~ greatlyvencumbered with their debts to the public. From these considerations, we are obliged to think the governor’s estimation of our wealth is undoubtedly too highrunless he includes the value of the proprietary lands; for, by the report of a committee of assembly in August, 1752, it appears, that the tax‘ ables of this province ‘did not exceed twenty-two thousand;

and'the grant we have offered of twenty thousand pounds,

from the best calculations we can make, doth at least amount to five times the sum ‘that hath ever been raised by a two~ penny tax through this province. As we think the governor cannot be a competent judge of the real value of our estates, in this little time of his administration, and as we have now submitted our cause to higher determination, we conceive ourselves less concerned in his computations of our estates, whatever they may be. a

‘ The‘ governor is pleased to inform us, “ That the propries taries are too nearly interested in the prosperity of this‘ country, to do anything to its prejudice, and he should have imagined that the people could not now stand in need of any proofs of [the proprietary affection, or suspect them of having any designs to invade their just rights and privileges, which, he is confident, they detest and abhor.” We cannot suppose the governor would mean they detest and abhor our just rights and privileges {and yet we are convinced the clause in their commission to him, their lieutenant, whereby they impower him to act as fully and amply, to all intents, constructions, and purposes, as they themselves might or could do, were they personally present, “ You, (our governor) following and observing such orders, instructions, and directions, as you now have, or hereafter, from time to time, shall _receivevfrom us,

1 ~


or our heirs,” is not only repugnant to our just rights and privileges, but impracticable, against common sense, against law, and void in itself; and yet if the governor should think

his hands are so tied'up by these instructions, that he is, not ,

at liberty to act for the public good, we musttconclu-de they are of dangerous consequence at all times, ‘and particularly in this time of imminent danger, not only to ourselves, but to the British interest in North America.’ >

To this message the governor returned a short answer in

these words: ‘ Gentlemen, _ ‘I am very much surprized at your proposal to adjourn till May, as you have made no provision for the defence of

v the province, or granted the supplies expected by the crown,

and recommended by the secretary of state’s letters: I must therefore object to the proposed adjournment, while things remain in this situation, and hope you will, in consideration of the danger to which your country stands exposed, /conti_ nue sitting till you have granted the supplies to the__crown, and effectually provided for the defence of the people you represent; but if you are determined to rise at this time without doing any thing, remember it is‘your own act, and all the fatal consequences that may attend your leaving the province in this defenceless state, must lie at your doors,’Tlie house in return unanimously resolved, ‘ That'the governor has been respectfully and repeatedly solicited by this house, to pass a‘ bill presented to'him, for granting twenty thousand pounds for the king’s use, which, in our opinion, would have answered the expectations of the crown‘ from this province, as signified by the secretary of state’s letters, had the governor been pleased to have given it his assent; therefore, whatever ill consequences ensue, from supplies not having been granted at this critical juncture, must lie at his door.’ . v _ The governor, by.h,is secretary, demanded a copy of their minutes, The house ordered the minutes both of this and their last sessions to'be printed, and that a copy finished should be delivered to the governor: and, having then re,

« ZurückWeiter »