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tives as land-holders? surely not, being hereditary governors‘of the pro: vince, and having a voice in the legislature by their own particular representative the governor. How then came you by a right to tax them as fel
low-subjects and land-holders, seeing they had no voice in choosing you, '
nor were entitled to any, though owners of land in every county? From the very principles therefore of the English constitution, you have no right to tax them as freeholders or fellowlsubjects, as you call them; if, therefore, you tax them at all, it must be as proprietaries, and chief governor's, which is the only capacity by which they are connected with, or related to, the inhabitants of this province; and under them in that capacity, you derive the power of' acting as an assembly. You cannot therefore, without in.verting the order of things, have a power over those from whom you and every one else in the province derive all the power they have. They hold the government and soil of this province under the same grant, and the title to both is centered in their persons, and cannot be separated or divided without destroying their authority. It may be very true, as you say, ‘-‘ that the proprietaries do not govern you ;” but that .is not owing to any want of legal authority in them, but from another cause that I need not
The support, as you call it, that is paid by the province to a lieutenantgovernor, is no other than the fees of oflice, and as such are due to any one that administers the government, and are not; what you would insinui ate, given to the. lieutenant for doing the. duty of the principal; the chief of them are public-house licenses, which were originally granted by charter, not by any concession of the people (though you from time to time have taken it for granted to be so) and in favor to them, as former govere nors took much larger sums for this service, moderate fees have been consented to be fixed by law, as considerations for the business done, not as Suflicient for the support of government; all the fees and perquisites
‘whereof do not amount, communibu: anm's, to more than a thousand
pounds. As to the land tax acts of parliament you refer to, they may be as you
say with respect to the crown’s fee-farm rents. But I do not conceive they _
amount to a proof that the king pays taxes, all taxes whatever being paid to him; and there seems to me an inconsistency in supposing he can both pay and receive. I take the clause you mention to have no other meaning than to appropriate part of the revenues of the crown to one public use, which were before appropriated to another; for I must observe to you, that the king can have no private estate, but from the dignity of his ofiice holds his lands in right of the crown. And another reason why a poundage is collected upon the crown’s fee-farm rents, may be, that the 'land tax should not fall heavier upon the other lands in the same hundreds or dis? tricts, as the quotas of each were long ago settled as they now stand in the
king’s books, and cannot, without confusion, be altered upon the crown’;
‘ acquiringlands in anyof them.
And upon this you break out into a lofty exclamation, that ‘this is not the first instance by many, in which proprietaries and governors of petty colonies have assumed to themselves greater powers, privileges, immunities, and prerogatives, than were ever claimed by their royal master on the imperial throne of all his extensive dominions.” I must acknowlege, gentleinen, that these are sounding words; but‘ what instances among the many can you give, of that assuming behaviour in your present proprietaries l have they ever claimed any rights or prerogatives not granted to them by the royal charter, or reserved by that of their Father, under which ‘you sitFcan you lay to their charge, during the course of a long administration over you, one act of injustice or severity? have they even exercised all those
'powers which by the royal charter they might legally do, and to which that
charter requires the people to be obedient? on the contrary, have they not given up to the people many things they had a right to insist on, and indulged them in every thingthat they judged for their benefit? how just is it therefore, gentlemen, to accuse them of assuming powers and prerogatives greater than their royal master? would you turn your eyes towards your own conduct, and apply some of these significant words to yourselves, you would find them much more applicable than they are to the proprietaries. The charter under which you act, gives you the powers and privileges of an assembly, according to the rights of the free-born subjects of England, and as is usual in any of the king’s plantations in America. This, gentlemen, is the foundation of your powers, which, by the royal charter, were to be consonant to the laws and constitution of England. But instead
" of confining yourselves to that which your wise ancestors thoughtfully suf
ficient to answer the ends of good government, and secure the liberties of the people, you have taken upon you great and mighty powers, dispensed with positive laws by the strength of your own orders, claim a right to dispose of all public money, and of keeping your proceedings a secret from the crown, with many others unknown to an English constitution, and never heard of in the other plantations in America. Who therefore can be so justly accused as yourselves of assuming unwarrantable powers, greater than ever were claimed by a British house of parliament, or, to use your own (words, ‘by your royal master on the imperial throne of all his extensive, dominions,’ who pretends to no powers but what the constitution gives him, and disclaims a right of dispensing with laws.
To these encroachments on the constitution you givethe sacred name of'privilege and under the mask of zeal for the public, conceal yourown schemes, pretending they are all for the benefit of the people, when they can answer no purpose but to encrease your own power, and endanger the just rights‘
‘ that the people enjoy under the royal and proprietary charters, by making
it necessary for his majesty and a British parliament to interpose their authority to save the province. The people have no way so efi'ectually to secure themselves in the' enjoyment of their liberty, as strictly adhering to the constitution established by charter, making that the foundation and standard of their proceedings, and discountenancing eve ry deviation from it.‘
The second and third reasons given by me, and your answers to them being deduced from the law for raising county rates and levies, I shall consider them together.
I do not see why the proprietary estate in each county is not benefitted in common with other estates, and by the same means. The proviso there; fore relating to their estates, was not inserted because he had no benefit by the money raised, but was properly a condition, upon which his governor consented to vest the whole power of choosing the tax-officers in the people, and is declarative of the rights of his situation, of which the people in general might be ignorant.
Ithink, with you, that the proprietary tax would not be more than an hundredth part of the whole, but cannot therefore admit, that if he is taxed, he should be excluded from any voice in the choice of those impowered to tax him, or that the votes of his officers, in their own right, can make the assessors his representatives; nor can I easily conceive, that a negative
upon a choice is half the choice, or indeed any part of’ it; but as what you“
say upon this head has very little argumentative force, I shall not dwell upon it, but say something as to the law itself. I
From the tenor of the act it appears to me to be intended, not only for laying and raising taxes to defray the necessary charges in every county, but to settle the mode of raising money upon all occasions; it/directs the manner of choosing commissioners, assessors, collectors, and treasurers, gives them particular powers, and regulates the conduct of those entrusted with the laying and receiving taxes. It is a positive and perpetual law, and by a special proviso expressly declares the proprietary estate not liable to taxes. You yourselves apply it to a provincial purpose by the bill under consideration, and the apparent reason why it was never applied to that purpose before is, that no provincial tax has ever been laid since the enacting of that law. \ ' ‘
You are certainly empowered, by some temporary laws to dispose of'particular monies raised by those laws, when they come into the public oil-ices, and I do not know that this power has been disputed; the legislature that gave those laws a being, bad a right to pass them in that shape, and a future legislature may do the same, if‘ they think fit; but I do not conceive that you have from those laws a right to dispose of all money that shall be mised, that being no part of the charter, but must depend upon the legislature that raises it, who may reserve the disposition to ‘themselves, give it to you, or any body else they think fit.
And here I cannot help taking notice of‘ an expression in your message, that you have allowed me a share in the disposition of the fifty thousand pounds. Is it from you, gentlemen, that I derive the right of governing this province, or from your allowance that I have avoice in the legislature? are you the sovereign disposers of power? have you a right to give and take away at pleasure? if not, whence that lofty claim of allowingyour governor ashare in the disposition of public money? is not the whole property of the people subject to the power of the legislature; and have I t
not a voice in that legislature, not derived from, or dependent upon, you; and how came you therefore by a right to allow me a share in the disposition of money, which cannot be raised without my consent? such language may possibly be agreeable to your notions of your own superlative powers,
but is not justified by the constitution established by charter, or any rights ‘
properly belonging to an assembly; and your claiming such a power, shews the extensiveness of your plan, which is no less in that respect, than to render yo'ursclves independent, and assume a superiority over your proprietaries and governors; a plan you would not fail to carry into execution, were your power equal to your inclinations.
The proprietaries do not shrink, as you call it, at the payment of a small sum of money, nor is that the motive for insisting on their right, they having by me ofi'ercd much more than their proportion of this tax can possibly amount to; but to preserve the rights of their station, which if they give up, whenever they are demanded, as claims will never be wanting, they will
very,soon be stripped of every thing they have a right to enjoy, both power ‘
Your answer to my fourth reason admits, that taxing the estates of proprietaries is contrary to the usage and practice in this and other governments, by saying, that custom and usage, against reason and justice, ought to have but little weight. But I do not admit that reason and justice are on your side of the question; on the contrary, I think I have shewn that they are with me, and look upon the usage and custom as a strong evidence, that the legislatures of this and other proprietary governments were of my opinion; and I am very much concerned, gentlemen, that you shall choose ‘this time of imminent danger, when your country is invaded, to introduce a new and extraordinary claim, to the prejudice of‘ persons that are absent; when you know, that however right, you may think it, I have it not in my power to consent ‘to it, consistent with duty and honor.
As to myself, I think it necessary to say, that for the dispatch of the pub
' lic business at this critical conjuncture, when every honest heart should be concerned for the public service, I studiously avoided every thing that ‘ could renew the disputes that subsisted between us, and earnestly recom
mended the same temper of mind to you; and cannot therefore but be excecdingly surprised in return to be this injuriously treated, and represented as the hateful instrument, of reducing a free people to the abject state of vassalage. What grounds have you, gentlemen, for this heavy charge! what laws of' imposition, abhorrent to common justice and common reason, have I attempted to force down your throats? have I proposed any thing to you, .during the course of my short administration, but to grant supplies to the crown adequate to the exigency of the times; to assist the king’s forces sent for our protection; and to put the province into a posture of defence, by establishing a militia, which is putting the Sword into the hands of the people fortheir own security? and where can it be trusted with more safety than to themselves? are these impositions, or are they abhorrent to 60mmcn' justice and reason? I have, it is true, refused to give my assent to some
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bills proposedby you, because they were contrary to the king’s instructions ; and amended others, to make them agreeable to the charter, and consistent with the safety of the people, by lodging the disposition of the public money in the hands of the legislature; and for this,, which is no more than a due obedience to the lawful commands of the crown, and‘ the free exercise of my reason and judgment in matters of legislation, am I branded with infamy and reproach, and set up as the object of a people’s resentmcnt.
I am not, gentlemen, conscious to myselfof having done, or intended to do, any the least injury to the people committed to my charge; and the man that has been oppressed or injured by me, let him stand forth and complain. Who is it in your province that does not enjoy the freedom of his own religious worship? whose liberty have I taken away? or whose property have 1 invaded? surely if] have taken advantage of the people’s distress, and of your regard for your country, to force down your throats laws of imposition, abhorrent to justice and reason; if I have done or attempted any thing to deprive the people of their liberties, and reduce them to the abject state of vassalage, you will be able to point out some instances of these things; and I call upon you to do it, if you can, and make good your charge. It is not to the people i am hateful, gentlemen, but to yourselves; and that for no other reason, but doing‘ the duty of my station, exercising my own judgment, as a branch of the legislature, with freedom and independency, and keeping you, as far as it was in my power, to the duty of yours. ‘
Had you really any tenderness for your bleeding country, would you have acted the part you have done? would you have looked tamely on, and see the French seat themselves within your borders? would you have suffered them to encrease their numbers, and fortify themselves in a place from whence, in few days, they may march an army among the inhabitants? would you have been deaf to all the affectionate warnings and calls of his majesty, the faithful guardian of his people’s safety? and would you have refused the proper, necessary and timely assistance to an army, sent to protect these colonies? or would you now, when that army is defeated, waste your time in disputing about new and extraordinary claims OfrYOUZ.‘ own raising, when every head and hand should be employed for the public safety? .
However, gentlemen, to conclude, let me entreat you to lay aside all heat and animosity, to consider the naked and defenceless state of the in‘ habitants, with a temper of mind becoming‘ the important océasion; to look upon the French, and their Indians, as your only enemies, and the person\ that intend to enslave you; and be assured, that your proprietaries, or governor, have no designs to the prejudice of the people ofl’cnnsylvania, but will continue to protect them in the enjoyment of all their just rights and privileges- i i