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CH A P T E II.

The distress of the nation through the

stoppage of trade Debates in parliament concerning the repeal of the Stamp Act--the arguments used on both sides of the question--the joy of the nation upon repealing that act--the right of taxation confirmed, c.

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ANNO DOMINI 1766.

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! Tris.no wonder, when we consider the transactions of the preceding two years, that both this country and the colonies were in a distracted and an uneasy situation; commerce was funk, and the manufactures were in a great measure at a stand ; provisions ex«, ceedingly dear, and many labourers without employment. Thoufands had no visible methods of provi., ding for themselves and families, however willing they : were to work to supply their necessities. That source of supply which supported our manufacturers at home was now stopped : The color its were neither able nor willing to pay for the goods they had received, nor were they disposed to continue their usual trade, with the mother country. In America every thing was in a state of anarchy and confusion : The laws, were suspended, and the lawless committed many outrages with impunity. Under a pretence of liberty, bad men gave full reins to their vicious inclinations, ás is cominon in a state of univerfal commotion. The common people, who, though they are not in general the most vicous, yet are often easiest misled; when hey afsembled in bodies went into extravagances of

the

the most licentious kind. The fober part were not able to restrain the impetuosity of a multitude, without law, magistracy, or order; nor did they find it convenient to use means to restrain. a temper, which they perceived inight on some future occasion, serve the purposes they had in view. They were defigned to oppofe the stamp'ast, and they could do nothing withouit the aid of the people.

Botha ! There were two things which gave the colonists an advantage over our manufacturers at home; they were in possession of large quantities of British goods, which were yet unpaid, and they had an extentive country, abounding with many necessary articles fitted for at thre conveniences of life. These prevented them from feeling fo smartly dhe immediate effects of this universál stagnation in business, rioccasioned by the stamp act.; To thefe may be added the flame of zeab for diberty .. being put in fuchi a strong agitation by this new law, made them bear difficulties which in other cases would have been intolerable.lui Our manufacturers 'àit home not being under the influence of the fame enthufiafm were ready to defpond and fint at the profpeét of their future distresses; and as many of them had lavishly squandered what they had earned by their labour, they had laid nothing up fora ciine of calamity. They were: therefore oppressed, without having the fame souvee of animation which supported the colonists. The millions of debt which the Americans Owed the merchants in this country, rendered them incapable to carry on bus finess as formerly, and the effects of this evil were soon felt severely : The poor rates encreased; the poor were ill provided for, and the nation complained er universal discontent reigned in every quarter of the empire, and the ministry, were blamed for all. Soine at home

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were for enforcing the stamp act by military power at once, and for sending a powerful armameng to give fanction to this new act of parliament. Others contidered this measuré as both impolitic and unnatural; like making one member of the body destroy another, and affirmed that it would be better to repeal the act than waste any part of the empire with fire and sword. This was undoubtedly both a rational and judicious opinion ; for though they should have forced the Americans to have suffered the Itamps to have continued, they could not have forced them to have used them, except they had pleased, unless in certain cases ; for provided they had been disposed to have' trusted one another upon common paper, they would have had no need of stamps to make their deeds legal; nor could they have forced them to have taken all their necessaries from Britain, when they could have, and make them at home, without reducing them to a state of mere slavery.

The ministry, on this occafion were much perplexed:. They were pressed on the one hand to enforce the law by coercive measures, and on the other hand desued to repeal the stamp act. The promoters of the stamp law meant to embarrass the ministry by persuading them to use violent measures, and then the reproach would have fallen upon the ininiíter, and they would have been forgotten in the general odium.-- On the other hand, the courtiers, and their instruments were ready to charge them with facrificing the honour of the nation and the diga nity of the crown. This ministry, which has since gone name of the Rockingham ministry, met

by with much oppofition in all their proceedings, both from fome popular men, and many of another charådter z But they pursued such measures as gained

them

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s ble or

years past. This

them credit with the nation, and when they were changed gave up without pension, place, or emolument.

I cannot help here reciting a passage from the Annual Register, which shews what the ministry had to struggle with at this critical period. Says the author,

There were not a tew that kept aloof from, and in is due time declared against the ministry, upon some cc symptoms which appeared early, of their wanting so that countenance, which as it has been favoura

adverse, has determined the fortune of the cu several successive systems of administration for fome

part of the opposition for very s obvious reasons, was by much the most danger66.ous.'

But the ministry had what few fince can pretend to, fair and clear characters, and though they were young in office, were in high esteem with the nation ; their integrity was above fufpicion, and their abilicies feemed to encrease with the difficulties of their employment. . Their constant attachment to the cause of liberty had procured them the confidence and good will of the people, both which they enjoyed in a very exalted degree. This shewed both their good sense, and the foundness of their principles, that though they were in an immediate sense the servants of the sovereign, yet they would not employ their power and authority for any other purpose except the good of the subjects. Considering the difficulties they had to combat, they shewed as much political wisdom and sagacity as any ministers have done for

many years. And it is no reproach to the memory of Mr Pitt, to affirm, that they behaved with as much wisdom and steadiness, in as difficult a situation, as ever was exemplified in his ministry. They had a multitude of jarring interests to reconcile, a divided

empire empire to unite, and the miscarriages of the past mi. nistry to re&tify; and befides an animosity among brethren to overcome, which is worfe to remove than even to conquer an enemy.

What theirenemies imagined was impossible forthem to accomplish, they effected; they both preferved the dignity of the crown and nation, and prevented the fubjects from destroying one another. All their de. * {patches to the different governors, were delivered with firmness and temper, which, when they were examined before the commons. did them great honour; they were found neither to have driven the colonies to defperation, nor to have yielded up the dignity of the crown and nation in any particular. In this administration the Duke of Richmond was one of the secre. taries of state, whose abilities as well as integrity has fince, shone forth confpicuously on the fide of true pa. triotism. It may be presumed that he had a fhare in the wise direction of measures at this time.

The prudent management of the ministry on this occasion, was severely censured by those who were then and have been since for violent measures; their conduct was called weak, pufillanimous, and feeble, their measures undetermined and without design. But the reason of this cenfure was obvious; they saw that by the repeal of measures which they had pro. mute, disgrace would fall upon them, and they wanted to see the executive power embarraffed before the meeting of parliament so far, that the legislature could not in honour recede from supporting it. For this reason the moderation of the Rockingham administration was most severely censured by the opposition. The controversy began now to be discussed at large, and many pamphlets were published on both Gides of the question, with very little temper. Had the

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