« ZurückWeiter »
And the thirdrelated to the, proprietary estate ; concerning which‘ it asserted and maintained, lst, that the said estate never had been taxed ; 2dly, that, over and above such exemption, several acts were passed, giving to the said proprietary a support by duties and other impositions; 3dly, that, since the expiration of those laws, no aid had been given to the proprietaries as such ; notwithstanding which, they had on several occasions, _shewn their regard to the public service,
by voluntarily and cheerfully expending several considerable '
sums of their own money for the advancement thereof, although no provincial tax had been laid upon the people within their time, till the last year; so that, not having any reason to suspect, the assembly would deviate so much from the ancient usage, as to pretend, by'any act of theirs, to charge their estate with the burden of any taxes, they had therefor given the preceding governor no particular instructions on that head; 4<thly, that the assembly, taking occasion of the troubles of America, had represented them in a very untrue light, as unwilling to assist the public by contributing to the defence of the country, though no application had been made to either of them for that purpose ; 5thly, that the bill theyr had prepared and sent up for raising fifty thousand pounds for the king’s use, by a tax of twelve cents per pound, and twenty shillings per head, was aibill of a most unjust and extraordinary nature; in as much as the estates oflthe proprietaries were not accepted, but, on the contrary, the assessors were to acquaint themselves with, and procure the amount of their estate in quit-rents, and in the same manner as other estates were assessed and taxed in the respective counties, by virtue of the said bill; as the said twelve cents was laid on the whole value or fee-simple of every estate, which, supposing the same computed at twenty-five years purchase only, was a quarter part more than the whole gross rent, without allowing for any charges or repairs; 'as it was contrary to the royal charter, which required land-tax bills, as well as other bills, to be consonant to reason, the laws, statutes, and rights of the kingdom, &c. not repugnant to them; as 50 heavy a tax was not necessary to be laid for the raising such
a~sum,,which might have been raised many other ways; as calculated for the purposeaof putting it in the power of persons wholly chosen by the people ‘to tax their estates up to their full value, and to ease other persons,by taxing them so lightly, as only to make up what might afterwards be wanting to complete the said sum; as the taxing of unimproved lands, yielding no rent or profit to the owner, was highly unreasonahle,‘and contrary both ,to the practice of Great Britain, and the laws andstatiites thereof; as, according to the best inquiries they could make, neither‘ the quit-rentsrese‘rved‘ to the‘crown,~ or the proprietaries of any other colonies,‘ had ever been taxed towards the raising any supplies granted in those colonies; quit-rents in ‘general 'beingindeed so small, ‘ that little or no land-tax would be payable outof them, even in Great Britain, where land-taxes are annual; and as the
grantees and owners of' such farms and plantations, out of
"which such‘very small L‘ac'kuowlegmen-ts were reserved to them, did, in case of alan'd-tax, pay for' the value of such
their said farms 5" '6thly,ith,at though'their deputy governor’
didyrefuse his assent to ‘the bill, ontthe 'assembly’s refusing toexempt their estates, theytwere so far from desiring not to contribute to the-defence and support of his majesty’s rights 'and dominions,that immediately on the first notice sent them of Braddock’s defeat, they sent over an orderto their re. ceiverageneral to pay out of the arrears of their quit-rents the sum of five thousand pounds, as a free gift towards the defence of the province, desiring all disputes might cease, and that the governor and assembly would join together in measures to oppose the common enemy; 7thly, that the said sum of five thousand pounds, so by them given, was, according to their belief, twenty times more than the tax upon all their estates there, ifv truly and proportionably rated, according to .the value of all other estates,‘ would have amounted’ to‘, for raising a sum of fifty thousand pounds; 8thly, that another bill of the same unjust nature, for raising fifty-five thousand pounds, by a tax of Sixpence in the pound on the clear value of all estates (theirs excepted in consideration of the said free-gift) their then ‘lieutenant-governor not being provided T t '
A 7 \._\__-—\~“ 7 "do _ _ as.“ \fig ,
with particular instructions with respect to such bill, and‘because the money was then requisite for the defence of the province, gave his assent vto; 9th1y, that they, tendering as they ought topdo, the then exigency of aflTai-rs, and the necessity of ‘ a supply, did not make any application to his ‘majesty for his royal disallowancelof the said act, as at any other time they should have done; IOthly, that the assessors appointed by the assembly in both the said bills were few in number, chosen by the people only, and not one by them; and though incapable of knowing the true value of the several estates, so to be rated and taxed, were 'made final and absolute judges without appeal; Ilthly, that by laying so great a tax to raise so small ‘a sum, the said assessors had it in their power to commit great irregularities, in taxing some estates to their utmost value, and easing others, which would bermequal and unjust, and was so much the more to be .feared, because they, the'proprietaries, hacl~ been informed, that in assessing the ordinary county levies on the like plan, many persons, instead of being rated at their full worth, had not been rated at a fiftieth part of it. ’ ,_ . 5 \ All these several articles (here ‘stated in their. full‘ force) are introduced with a Whereas at the head of ‘each, and all implicated in one embarrassed immeasurable period; towhich ‘is tacked the instruction itself, with the following preamble: ‘ And whereas the said assembly appear to us to have been
‘ inclined not only vto load and burden our estates with ‘taxes
by their authority, directly contrary to former usagy, but even to charge the same disproportionably, and in an an equal manner, in order to ease the estates of others,‘ which is a measure we are by no means willing to consent to; and as the present invasion of his majesty’s'American dominions, may make it necessary to raise further supplies for his service in our said province, the assembly may hereafter propose and after bills or acts of assembly, to lay additional taxes on real estates there ;.you are, therefore, hereby required and direct. ed, not to give your assent to any bill or act of assembly of that sort, unless the act be made to ‘continue for one single year only, and no longer,’ 81c.
Here follows a variety of prescriptions and prohibitions; some plausible; some artificial; and all serving asa shoeinghorn to the great one of all, the exemption of the proprietary quit-rents, which was to be rendered as express as pos» sible. '
That, however, they may not appear altogether intractable, one concession is made towards the conclusion, which is worth more perhaps than they supposed; as it contains a tacit acknowledgment that, in equity, they ought to be taxed like the rest of, their fellow-subjects, and yet less than them they would have it understood; such estates of theirs, as come within that description, not being like to produce such .a sum as deserved to be made a provincial object; and the ‘introductory part of the paragraph, as may be collected from the famous contest between them and the assembly concerning'Indian expences, justly drawing'the'whole into suspicion.
This is the paragraph. Valeat quantum aalere potest. _
‘And whereas we are, and always have been, most ready and willing to bear a just proportion along with our tenants in any necessary tax for the, defence of ‘the said ‘province, which shall be equally laid upon the lands. of the inhabitants, and also upon any'of our manors or lands which are, actually let out on leases, either for lives or years, as being estates in some degree like to those of which the inhabitants are possessed; therefore you are at liberty to give your consent to any reasonable bill or act for that purpose, provided the tax to be paid for such our last mentioned estates, shall he payable by the tenants andoccupiers, who shall deduct the same out of the rents payable by them to us.’
It is remarkable, that through the whole, the language is such as could indeed become none but an absolute proprietary; all dictatorial; all in chief, as lord paramount; as if there was no king in Israel, nor any interest worthy consideration, but the proprietary interest; as if there was no pccasion for royal instructions, or as if it was impossible any such should interfere with theirs; and as if the provincial legislature was anose of wax to be twisted into what shape they
Such were these instructions: and as to their elfectin the house, it was such as was naturally to be expected; they saw a controversy without end before them, productive in its way of all manner of calamities public and private, and to be
prevented or shortened only by a submission equally ruinous.
They saw this; and it threw them into agonies, though not into despain' , " i The first expedient they made use ‘of was the following message to the governor: ‘ Zllay it please the Governor,
‘The house have taken into their most serious consideration the proprietary instructions relating to the passing of money-bills, which the governor has been pleased to lay before us; and as we are fully convinced the present unhappy circumstances of this province require very large and immediate supplies, We have likewise ‘considered the funds whereby such sums as we judge absolutely necessary for the security of the province may be sunk; but every thing we have hitherto been‘ able to propose, must be rendered‘in‘a great degree fruitless by those instructions, if adhered to.
‘ We therefore request the governor would be pleased to inform us, whether he does notapprehend himself at liberty, notwithstanding the said proprietary instructions, to pass such equitable bills as We may otl'er‘him, if consistent with his own judgment, and agreeable to such‘laws as have been enacted by his predecessors, and received the royal assent.’
To this the governor answered,
‘ Gentlemen, ' , > '
‘ I am very glad to hear the house have taken the ‘moneybills into'their serious consideration, and the proprietary in~ structions on that subject.
‘It would be with great reluctance, especially at this time, if I should differ in sentiments with the house of representatives. You will be pleased to observe how I am circumstanced, and that I cannot recede from my instructions without risking both my honor. and fortune, which, I am p6r< guadegl, you, gentlemen," are too equitable to desire.‘