Abbildungen der Seite
PDF

exchanging torn and illegible bills, and to replace it by a new emission of bills to the same amount, to be sunk out of the product of the excise in ten years. Upon which the governor waved the instruction, and passed the bill; five hun

dred men were raised and supported by it, for near eighten

months, employed chiefly in defending the frontiers of New York, when the expedition at length was dropped and the

troops disbanded. I A formal bill to restrain the northern colonies in general,

from issuing paper bills of credit, it must be observed, had

been brought into parliament, but not perfected; and in the year 1748 again: upon which occasion the next governor of Pennsylvania, James Hamilton, Esq; in a message to the assembly in October 1749, made use of the following remarkable expressions. ‘ I take it for granted, we are all sensible of the mischievous tendency of the bill that was brought into parliament the last year' to regulate and restrain paper bills of credit in the plantations (in which there was a clause to enforce the orders of the crown in his majesty’s American do— minions) and it is not improbable, that something of the saine kind may be offered in the ensuing session. I persuade myself you will give your agent full instructions upon this subject, in case it should become necessary for him to oppose it : the honourable proprietaries at that time laboured and with success to avert the mischief? that threatened this province from the passing of the said bill; and I have itin command from them to assure you of their assistance upon all future occasions, wherein the welfare and happiness of the people of this province may be concerned.’

This had a fav'ourable‘appearance towards the province, and from hence it might well be supposed, that the issues from this source would never be productive of any deep or

lasting strife. v

But though the springs had not as yet broke out with any violence, they were working their way under ground. The growing charge of Indian affairs, which lay wholly on the province, and which, on the head of purchases, as before explained, was productive of great advantages’to the prO

prietaries, began to be the subject of public complaint: and by these suggestions of the importance of the proprietaries at home, the people were to be taught the danger of disobliging them. _

But if this was their view, it did not answer: the assembly had too much discernment to be diverted from the object before them by the interposition of another, how dextrously soever the trick was performed and therefore proceeded, notwithstanding to take this affair into consideration.

It is scarce necessary to intimate, that the governor, and the creatures of the government, did all they could, not only to discourage them in it, but also to convince them, in effect, that, according to the usual current of the world, all advantages are the prerogative of those above, and all burdens the inheritance of those below.--This may indeed be agreeable to the usual current of the world: but then as such doctrines are not over palatable anywhere, so in a free government like Pennsylvania, it was not to be thought they would be swallowed at all. They were neither to be convinced nor discouraged it seems: on the contrary, they persevered; they examined; they reported; they ‘resolved ; and at last applied to the proprietaries, to do what equity required, by taking a share of the charge upon themselves.

I

The proprietaries, on the other hand, announced in their

reply, “that they did not conceive themselves to be under any such obligation, even though the people had been taxed for the charges of government: that as not one shilling had been levied on the people for that service, it was so much less reasonable in the people to ask any thing of them: that they had, notwithstanding, charged themselves with paying their interpreter even much more than could be due to him on their account, and were also then at the expence of maintaining his son with a tutor in the Indian country, to learn their language and customs for the service of the country; as well as of sundry other charges on Indian affairs; that they had been at considerable expcnce for the service of the province both in England and there? that they pay the Indians forthe land vthey purchase: and that they are no more obliged I M

[graphic]

to contribute to the public charges than any other chief governor of any other colony.”

In answer to this the assembly, May 1751, respectfully represented, “ that the preserving a good understanding with the Indians was more for the interest of the proprietaryestate than that of any other estate in the province, as it gave the proprietaries an opportunity of purchasing lands on the frontiers at a low price, and selling them at a high one, which would otherwise be impracticable: that, therefore, the obligations of justice and equity being stronger than those of law, they were certainly bound by them to contribute to the expence of those Indian treaties and presents by which the good understanding so beneficial to them was maintained; that though taxes in form, for the immediate support of the proprietaries’ substitute, and for defraying the charges of these Indian treaties, had not of late years been imposed on the province, the charge of all (by the interest of the papermoney, which was a virtual tax, the excise, which was a real one, producing about 80001. per annum, and the tax arising from licenses of various kinds, amounting yearly to a sum not inconsiderable, and appropriated wholly to the governors support,) was paid by the province: that the assembly had always paid the Indian interpreter for his public services to his full satisfaction: that they believed future assemblies would not fail to do whatever could be reasonably expected from them in regard to his son, when he should be qualified to sticceed him; as also to discharge all just debts for expences properly chargeable to the province, whether incurred there or inl'lngland, whenever the accounts should be exhibited: that by the act forbidding all but the proprietaries to purchase lands of the Indians, they had obtained a monopoly of the soil, consequently ought to bear the whole charge of every treaty for such purchases, as the profit was to be wholly theirs: that their paying for land (bought as was conceived much cheaper on account of the provincial presents accompanying those treaties) was not a satisfactory reason, why they should not bear a part of the charge of such other trea—

‘ ties as tended to the common welfare and peace of the pro

vince: and that'upon the whole,\as the interests of the proprietaries were so constantly intermixed more or less, with those of the province, in all Indian treaties, and as it appeared the proprietaric‘s thought they paid more than their share, while the people thought they paid abundantly too much, they apprehended the surest'way to prevent dissatisfaction on all sides, would be to fix a certain proportion of the charge of all future provincial treaties with the Indians, to be paid by the proprietaries and province respectively: which, not only as a proposal equitable in‘itself, but conducive "also to preserve that union and harmony between the proprietaries and people, so evidently advantageous to both, they hoped, would, on further consideration, be agreed to.”

How this was received we shall see in its place.

The assembly proceeded soon after, to take into consideration the growth of the province, and the state of their commerce; and finding both to be such as required an exten-\ sion of their paper-currency, on the same grounds and for the same ends as at first gave rise to it, unanimously resolved to strike an additional sum of twenty thousand pounds, in order to replace defective bills, and increase the provincial capital, in proportion to the increase of inhabitants; as also to re-emit and continue the sums already in circulation.

A bill was accordingly prepared in January, 1753, and sent up to the governor (Hamilton) for his concurrence; but though that gentleman was a native of the province, with rather better qualifications for his post, and, as may be sup~ posed, more affection for the people than is common with governors, he had his reasons for not seeing this provincial point in the same light that the province did, and therefore returned the bill in a day or two, with his negative upon it: qualified indeed with expressions of concern for his so differing in opinion with them, but founded in‘ the dislike raised in Britain by the late too general and undistinguishing complaints against the plantation bills of credit, which rendered the time very unseasonable for any application to the crown concerning the extension or rg_-emission of theirs; and forti; fied by a caveat, which sounded. so much the more ' p‘lausi'ble'

\

[graphic]

\ , as it seemed to be drawn from their own premises, namely,

that the many advantages they derived from the use of papermoney ought to make them extremely careful, how they took any step which might possibly endanger it.

The assembly, on the other hand, gladly fastened on an acknowledgment so express in favour of the thing; and, from the same sense of it, declared themselves to be equally careful with the governor in the conduct and direction of it: but having so done, they went on to say, ‘that as they did not think the dislike raised in Britain of the plantation-bills, was so general and undistinguishing, or still so warmly subsisted as the governor seemed to apppehend, so neither did they conceive the time to be unseasonable for an application to the crown about theirs: that they were equally concerned with the governor for their difference of opinion, and that they might not seem to act too precipitately in an affair of such importance, they chose to make a short adjournment, before they took his objection into consideration.’

Adjourn they did accordingly; and at their next meeting, which was towards the end of May the same year, found themselves earnestly pressed by a message from the governor, on one hand concerning Indian affairs, and on the other by petitions from a considerable number of inhabitants, fora further addition to their paper-money, supported by a variety of" allegations of the most interesting and affecting nature.

The governor’s message, whether premature or not will best appear from the sequel, prepared the house to expect, “ that the country of Allegheny situate on the waters of the Ohio, partly within the limits of Pennsylvania, partly within those of Virginia, already was or soon would be invaded by. an army of French and Indians from Canada: in which case

the Indians inhabiting there, who were a mixture of the Six

Nations, IShawnese, Delawares, and Twigtwees lately recommended as allies to the province by the said Six Nations, would be obliged to leave the country, and, his majesty’s

“subjects trading with them would be cut off, Ste. unless ‘

timelv warned by the messengers sent tb them by himself for that puriose: that Montour, an interpreter, had heard

‘Ly-w

« ZurückWeiter »