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“In many parts they are little, perhaps, or nothing at all, inferior in respect of their conveniences to the mother country.”
As these differences cannot be known in Parliament here, how can you proportion and vary your taxes of America, so as to make them equal and fair ? It would be undertaking what you are not qualified for, as well as doing what you have no right to do.
“Yet it must be granted, that they know best the state of their own funds, and what taxes they can afford to pay.”
And yet you would be meddling.
“ It is very certain, that England is entitled to a great deal of gratitude from her colonies.”
The English are eternally harping on this string, the great obligation the colonies are under for protection from the French. I have shown, already, that the defence was mutual. Every man in England, and every man's estate, have been defended from the French; but is it sense to tell any particular man, “ The nation has incurred a debt of one hundred and forty-eight millions to protect you and your estate, and therefore you owe a great deal of gratitude to the nation?” He will say, and justly, “I paid my proportion, and I am under no obligation.” The colonies, as I have shown in preceding notes, have always paid more in various ways, and besides extending your trade sometimes (from which you exclude the colonies), and for whims about the balance of power, and for the sake of continental connexions in which they were separately unconcerned. On the other hand, they have, from their first settlement, had wars in America, in which they never engaged you. The French have never been their enemies, but on your account.
“That the late war was chiefly kindled and carried on, on your account, can scarcely be denied.”
It is denied.
“By the steps they seem to take to shake off our sovereignty.”
Our sovereignty again! This writer, like the Genoese queens of Corsica, deems himself a sprig of royalty!
“For, as soon as they are no longer dependent upon England, they may be assured they will immediately become dependent upon France.”
We are assured of the contrary. Weak states, that are poor, are as safe as great ones, that are rich. They are not objects of envy. The trade, that may be carried on with them, makes them objects of friendship. The smallest states may have great allies; and the mutual jealousies of great nations contribute to their security.
“And whatever reasons there might exist to dispose them in our favor in preference to the French; yet, how far these would operate, no one can pretend to say.”
Then be careful not to use them ill. It is a better reason for using them kindly. That alone can retain their friendship. Your sovereignty will be of no use, if the people hate you. Keeping them in obedience will cost you more than your profits from them amount to..
“It is not, indeed, for their jealousy of their rights and liberties, but for their riotous and seditious manner of asserting them.”
Do you Englishmen then pretend to censure the colonies for riots ? Look at home! within a year, riots in the country about corn; riots about elections; riots about work-houses; riots of colliers; riots of weavers ; riots of coal-heavers; riots
I have seen,
of sawyers; riots of sailors; riots of Wlkesites; riots of government chairmen; riots of smugglers, in which custom-house officers and excisemen have been murdered, the King's armed vessels and troops fired at, &c. In America, if one mob rises, and breaks a few windows, or tars and feathers a single rascally informer, it is called rebellion ; troops and fleets must be sent, and military execution talked of as the decentest thing in the world. Here, indeed, one would think riots part of the mode of government.
“And if she had not thought proper to centre almost all her care, as she has done, upon making the late peace, in procuring them a safe establishment, and to sacrifice to it, in a manner, every other object, she might, at least, expect from them a more decent and dutiful demeanour."
In the last war, America kept up twenty-five thousand men at her own cost for five years, and spent many millions.
Her troops were in all battles, all service. Thousands of her youth fell a sacrifice. The
. crown gained an immense extent of territory, and a great number of new subjects. Britain gained a new market for her manufactures, and recovered and secured the old one among the Indians, which the French had interrupted and annihilated. But what did the Americans gain except that safe establishment, which they are now so taunted with ? Lands were divided among none of them. The very fishery, which they fought to obtain, they are now restrained in. The plunder of the Havana was not for them. And this very safe establishment they might as well have had by treaty with the French, their neighbours, who would probably have been easily made and continued their friends, if it had not been for their connexion with Britain.
“And it seldom happens, that any one fares the better for his insolence."
Then don't be insolent with your power.
“For should matters on all sides, as I hope they never will, be carried to extremities, I cannot take upon me to say but England may yet produce both a ministry and Parliament, that would rather share them once more with the French, than totally relinquish her present pretensions.”
We have been often threatened with this wise measure of returning Canada to France. Do it when you please. Had the French power, which you were five years subduing with twenty-five thousand regulars, and twenty-five thousand of us to help you, continued at our backs ready to support and assist us, whenever we might think proper to resist your oppressions, you would never have thought of a Stamp Act for us; you would not have dared to use us as you have done. If it be so politic a measure to have en
. emies at hand, (as the notion is) to keep your subjects in obedience, then give part of Ireland to the French to plant. Plant another French colony in the Highlands, to keep rebellious Scotland in order. Plant another on Tower Hill, to restrain your own mobs. There never was a notion more ridiculous. Don't you see the advantage you may have, if you preserve our connexion ? The fifty thousand men and the fleet employed in America, during the last war, are now so much strength at liberty to be employed elsewhere.
“The legislative power of every kingdom or empire should centre in one supreme assembly.”
Distinguish here what may be convenient from what is fact. Before the union it was thought convenient, and long wished for, that the two kingdoms should join in one Parliament. But, till that union was formed, the fact was, that their Parliaments were distinct, and the British Parliament would not make laws for Scotland. The same fact now subsists in America. The Parliaments and states are distinct; but the British Parliament has taken advantage of our minority, and usurped powers not belonging to it.
“It would not be amiss, perhaps, to ask them what bounds they would be content to fix to their claims and demands upon us, as hitherto they seem to be at a loss where to stop.”
They only desire, that you would leave them where you found them; repeal all your taxing laws, and return to requisitions when you would have aids from them.
“I must freely own, that whatever opinion I may have of their right, I certainly have not quite as favorable one of their conduct, which often is neither consistent nor prudent.”
They think the same of yours.
“If they are really willing we should exercise any acts of sovereignty among them at all
, the imposition they have so riotously resisted might not improperly, perhaps, have been allowed better quarter.”
Leave the King, who alone is the sovereign, to exercise his acts of sovereignty in appointing their governors, and in approving or disapproving their laws. But do you leave it to their choice to trade elsewhere for commodities ? To go to another shop? No! you say they shall buy of you, or nobody.
“Nor should mere custom, nor any charter or law in being, be allowed any great weight in the decision of this point.”
The charters are sacred. Violate them, and then the present bond of union (the kingly power over us) will be broken.