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but had parliaments of their own, wherein their consent was. given as it ought to be, in grants of their own money. I do not mean to enter into this question. The parliament repealed the acts as inexpedient, but in another act asserted a right of taxing America ; and in the following year laid duties on the manufactures of this country exported thither. On the repeal of the stamp act, the Americans had returned to their wonted good humor and commerce with Britain ; but this new act for laying duties renewed their uneasiness. They were long since forbidden by the navigation act to purchase manufactures from Britain, or make the same themselves.
In this situation were affairs when my Lord H. entered on the American administration. Much was expected from his supposed abilities, application, and knowledge of business in that department. The newspapers were filled with his panegyrics, and expectations raised perhaps inconveniently 31,
The Americans determined to petition their sovereign, praying his gracious interposition in their favor with his parliament, that the imposition of these duties, which they considered as an infringement of their rights, might be repealed. The assembly of the Massachusetts Bay had voted that it should be proposed to the other colonies to concur in that measure, This, for what reason I do not easily conceive, gave great offence to his lordship, and one of his first steps was to prevent these concurring petitions. To this end, he sent a mandate to that assembly. (the parliament of that country) requiring them to RESCIND that vote, and desist from the measure, threatening them with dissolution in case of disobedience. The governor communicated to them the instructions he received to that purpose. They refused to obey, and were dissolved! Similar orders were sent at the same time to the governors of the other colonies, to dissolve their respective parliaments if they presumed to accede to
the Boston proposition of petitioning his majesty, and several of them were accordingly dissolved.
• Bad ministers have ever been averse to the right subjects claim of petitioning and remonstrating to their sovereign : for through that channel the prince may be apprised of the mal-administration of his servants ; they may sometimes be thereby brought into danger, at least such petitions afford a handle to their adversaries whereby to give them trouble. But as the measure to be complained of was not his lordship’s, it is rather extraordinary that he should thus set his face against the intended complaiuts. In his angry letters to America, he called the proposal of these petitions
66 measure of most dangerous and factious tendency, calculated to inflame the minds of his majesty's subjects in the colonies, to promote an unwarrantable combination, and to excite and encourage an open opposition to, and denial of the authority of the parliament, and, to 'subvert the true spirit of the constitution ;! and directed the governors immediately on the receipt of these orders, to exert their utmost influence to defeat this FLAGITIOUS attempt.
Without entering into the particular motives to this piece of his lordship's conduct, let us consider a little the wisdom of it. When subjects conceive themselves oppressed or injured, laying their complaints before the sovereign or the governing powers, is a kind of vent to griefs that gives some ease to their minds ; the receiving with at least an appearance of regard their petitions, and taking them into consideration, gives present hope, and affords time for the cooling of resentment; so that even the refusal, when decently expressed and accompanied with reasons, is made less unpleasant by the manner, is half approved, and the rest submitted to with patience. But when this vent to popular discontents is
denied, and the subjects are thereby driven to desperation, infinite mischiefs follow. Many princes have lost part, and some the whole of their dominions, and some their lives by this very conduct of their servants. The secretary for Anierica, therefore, seems in this instance not to have judged rightly for the service of his excellent master.
But supposing the measure of discouraging and presenting petitions a right one, were the means of effecting this end judiciously chosen? I mean, the threatening with dissolution and the actual dissolving of the American parliaments. His lordship probably took up the idea from what he kņows of the state of things in England and Ireland, where, to be rechosen upon a dissolution, often gives a candidate great trouble, and sometimes costs him a great deal of money. A dissolution may therefore be both fine and punishmeật to the members, if they desire to be again returned. But in most of the colonies there is no such thing as standing can, didate for election. There is neither treating nor bribing. No man even expresses the least inclination to be chosen. Instead of humble advertisements intreating votes and interest, you see before every new election, requests of former members, acknowledging the honor done them by preceding elections, but setting forth their long service and attendance on the public business in that station, and praying that in consideration thereof, some other person may be chosen in their room. Where this is the case, where the same representatives may be and generally are, after a dissolution, chosen, without asking a vote or giving éven a glass of cyder to an elector, is it likely that such a threat could contribute in the least to answer the end proposed? The experience of former governors might have instructed his lordship that this was a vain expedient. Several of them, misted by their English ideas, had tried this practice to make assemblies
submissive to their measures, but never with success. By the influence of his power in granting offices, a governor naturally has a number of friends in an assembly; these, if suffered to continue, though a minority, might frequently serve his purposes, by promoting what he wishes, or obstructing what he dislikes. But if, to punish the majority, he in a pet dissolves the house, and orders a new election, he is sure not to see a single friend in the new assembly. The people are put into an ill-humor by the trouble given them, they resent the dissolution as an affront, and leave out every man suspected of having the least regard for the governor. This was the very effect of my lord's dissolutions in America, and the new assemblies were all found more untractable than the old ones.
But besides the imprudence of this measure, was it constitutional ? The crown has doubtless the prerogative of dissolving parliaments, a prerogative lodged in its hands for the public good, which may in various instances require the use of it. But should a king of Great Britain demand of his parliament the rescision of any vote they had passed, or forbid them to petition the throne, on pain of dissolution, and actually dissolve them accordingly, I bumbly conceive the minister who advised it would run some hazard of censure at least, for thus using the prerogative to the violation of common right, and breach of the constitution. The American assembly have no means of impeaching such a minister ; but there is an assembly, the parliament of England, that have that power, and in a former instance exercised it well, by impeaching a great man (Lord Clarendon) for having (though in one instance only) endeavored to introduce arbi. trary government into the colonies.
The effect this operation of the American secretary had in America, was not a preveption of those petitions as he
intended, but a despair in the people of any success from them, since they could not pass to the throne but through the hands of one who showed himself so extremely averse to the existence of them. Thence arose the design of interesting the British merchants and manufacturers in the event of their petitions, by agreements not to import goods from Great Britain till their grievances were redressed. Universal resentment occasioned these agreements to be more generally entered into, and the sending troops to Boston, who daily insulted the assembly." and townsmen, instead of terrifying into a compliance with his measures, served only to exasperate and sour the minds of people throughout the continent, make frugality fashionable when the consumption of British goods was the question, and determine the inhabitants to exert every nerve in establishing manufactures among themselves.
Boston baving grievously offended his lordship, by the refractory spirit they had shown in re-choosing those representatives, whom he esteemed the leaders of the opposition there, he resolved to punish that town by removing the assembly from thence to Cambridge, a country-place about four miles distant. Here too his lordship's English and Irish ideas seem to have misled him. Removing a parliament from London to Dublin, where so many of the inhabitants are supported by the expense of such a number of wealthy lords and commouers, and have a dependance on that support, may be a considerable prejudice to a city deprived of such advantage; but the removal of the assembly, consisting of frugal honest farmers, from Boston, could only affect the
* They mounted a numerous guard daily round the parliament house, with drums beating and fifes playing while the members were in their debates, and had cannon planted and pointed at the building