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The assembly, in the mean time, with a degree of composure and steadiness, which, in ahigher orbit, would be called dignity and magnanimity, delivered their sentiments and purposes in one address to the governor, in the following concise but weighty terms; viz. “ We have deliberately and seriously considered the governor’s speech of the twenty~fourth instant, together withthe letters andpapers he has been pleased to lay before us, by which we find, that the defeat of the forces, under the immediate command of general
‘Braddock, and the retreat of colonel Dunbar, to fort Cumberland, are attended with very shocking circumstances; ne
vertheless, it gives us real satisfaction, under this unfortunate
‘and unexpected change in our affairs, that this province has ‘seasonably and cheerfully complied with the demands of the king’s forces, and that no part of this unhappy defeat can be laid’ to our charge.
“We think it our duty on this occasion to be neither parsimonious nor tenacious of such matters as have been in dis
' pute, and are now under the consideration of our superiors ; but, reserving to ourselves all our just rights, we have resolved to grant fifty thousand pounds ‘for the king’s use, by a tax on all the real and personal estates within this province, in which we shall proceed with all possible dispatch; hoping to meet in the governor the same good dispositions he so earnestly recommends to us.
“The governor’s call of our house at this time is agreeable to us, as it impowers us to exert ourselves yet farther in the service of our country; and the like opportunity given to the lower counties, under the governor’s administration, we doubt not will be acceptable to them, and add their contribution to the common cause,before the time to which they stand adjourned.” ’ I . a,
And now a plain, unrefining reader would think, that, the danger of the province being so' great as the governor had described it, and the disposition of the assembly so sincere to provide for its security, the issue of the session could not but be as happy as the prospect was promising. k
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The very reverse of this, however, happened to be the case. The assembly found the proprietaries in possession of an immense estate, in lands and quit-rents; this estate was as much endangered as any other estate, and was to be defended in common with the rest; they did not think the immensity of it gave it any title to any exemption of any kind, and they found no such exemption specified in any of their charters. ' '
Proceeding, therefore, by the rules‘ of reason and equity, ' as well as policy, they taxed the whole land alike ; and sub- \
jected the'i‘prop'rietaries, as landholders, to a proportional share of all the claims and impositions, which their deputy would have exempted them from as governors in chief, and was so strenuous for imposing on the people alone; and this one bitter ingredient was mars in alla, death in the pot. The burdens laid by the proprietaries, or by proprietary power on the province, could not be too heavy; but they themselves would not charge a finger with the least part of the weight of them. i _ i \
On the same day that the bill was sent up, it was returned with such amendments, as entirely exonerated'the whole‘ proprietary estate; and the following message was immediately prepared by the assembly, and dispatched to the g0vernor, to wit:
\ ‘May it please the Gooernar,
‘The taxing of the proprietary estate with the estates of the people of the province, for their common security in this time of imminent danger, seems to us so perfectly equitable and just, that we are siirprized the governor should propose it as an amendment to our bill,9 that the proprietary estate “be in this instance exempted.
‘As the occasion urges, we are extremely desirous to come as soon as possible to a conclusion in the business of
9The bill laid the tax on all estates real and personal throughout the province, the proprietary estate ‘ not excepted.’ The amendment proposed was-in these words, ‘Dele the word [not] and insert the word [onlyli A small, but very significant alteration! '
this sitting; and do therefore entreat the governor would be pleased to acquaint us explicitly, whether he is restricted by the proprietaries from passing the bill as it stands in that particular, though it were otherwise consistent with his judg~ ment, since it will only waste time to endeavor to convince
him of its reasonableness, if after all it will not obtain his ‘ \
- ‘Or, if it be possible that such exemption of the proprietary estate from its share in the common expence of securing the whole, should appear to the governor a thing right in
itself, we would then request him to favor us with the reay
sons of his opinion, that we may take them immediately into consideration; for till this matter is explained, and under
stood, we think it needless to consider any other proposed
‘ In answer to your message of yesterday, you will'give me leave to observe, that in the proprietary commission appointing me to this government, there is a proviso that nothing therein contained shall extend, or be construed to extend, to give me any power to do or consent to any act whereby the estate or property of the proprietaries may be hurt or encumbered ; and this proviso being contained in the body of the commission from which I derive the power of acting as governor, it is not only the highest prohibition to~ me, but any law that I may pass contrary to that proviso, I
imagine, would be void in itself for want of power in me to
give it a being. \
‘But had I not been thus prohibited, I should still have
thought it my duty, to have excepted the proprietary estate from the levies proposed to be made, for the following reasons.
‘1- For that all governors, whether hereditary or otherwise, are, from the nature of their office, exempt from the payment of taxes; on the contrary, revenues are generally given to them to support the honour and dignity of government, and to enable them to do the ‘duties of their station.
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‘2. For that this exemption from taxes arising from the nature of governmenQ/is enforced by a positive law in this province, which expressly declares, that the proper estates of
' the proprietaries shall not be liable to rates or taxes.
‘3. For that the proprietaries, by their governor, having‘ consented to a law for vesting in the people the sole choice of the persons to assess and lay taxes in the several counties, without reserving to themselves, or their governor, any negative upon such choice, and this concession being made with .an express proviso, that the proprietary'estates should not be taxed, it will be very unreasonable to empower such persons by a law, without ther previous consent, to tax their estates at discretion. , \t '
' ‘41. For that it is contrary to the constant practice and usage in this and all'the proprietary governments upon this continent, so far as I' have been informed, to lay any tax upon the lands or estates of the proprietaries, exercising the government by themselves or their lieutenants.
For these reasons principally I made the amendments, r8lating to the proprietary estate, to your bill for giving fifty thousand pounds to the king’s use, and I hope, gentlemen, they will be suiiicient to induce you to'agree to those amendments. Were the proprietaries now upon the spot, I know their love and affection for this country to be such,‘ that they would do any thing in their power for its ‘preservation and safety ; but as they are not here, I'have, on their behalf, proposed to give lands west of the Allegheny mountains, without any purchase-money, and free from the payment of quitrents for fifteen years to come, and then not to exceed the common quit-rent in this province. The particular quantity proposed as an additional encouragement for each oflicer and soldier, is expressed in a message to you upon that head,’
And the next day but one the assembly rejoined, _“ That the intention of the bill was not to hurt or incumber (it being as little in their power or intention to hurt or incumber the estates of their constituents, as in the governor’s to hurt , or incumber the'proprietary estate) but to free 'it from hurt
'and incumbrance; the’ worst of incumbrances, the neighborhood of so mischievous an enemy, who, as they had been repeatedly told by the governor, had taken actual possession of some part, and laid claim to a much greater part of the proprietaries’ country; they could not conceive how the giving a part to save the whole, and, in the proprietary’s case, not only to save the whole, but to render it of double or treble value, could properly be called hurting or incumbering an estate‘; that if the argument had any force, it had the same force in behalf of the people; and, consequently, he ought in duty to reject both parts of the bill for the same reason; that for their parts, happening to think otherwise, they had laid the tax as cheerfully on their own estate's as on
those of their constituents.” “That the proposed grant of lands, for the encourage
ment of military adventurers, west of the Allegheny moun~
tains, without any purchase-money,‘ was as ‘absolutely irreconcileable with the letter of the proprietary proviso in his, the governor’s commission, as his assent to the tax upon their estate could be represented to be; that if their love and affection for their country was such, that if they were on the
spot, they would do any thing in their power for its preser-
vation; and if the governor, presuming on that'love and af— fection, thought himself at liberty to dispense with so posi_ tive a prohibition, it might be asked, why could he not venture to do the same in one instance for the same reason as in the other? and if the grant of lands would be valid, notwithstanding such prohibition, why would not his assent to the bill be the same? that this magnified offer had in reality been proposed only to make the taxing of the proprietary estate appear less reasonable; that it was in effect an offer of amusement only, good lands not being so much as specified; and as good as the best there, being to be had in Virginia (where quit-rents were but two shillings, whereas the common quit-rents ‘in Pennsylvania were four shillings and two pence sterling) without purchase-money, ,and with the same exemption of that quit-rent for fifteen years to come, so that the encouragement so graciously offered to those adventus