Page images
PDF
EPUB

a title of independence, and in every respect equal to the royal title 'by' whichi' the crown is lielà:

« And as théfe-freehold éftatės tre of a very particular nature with respect to thiếif örigin, 16'' tlicy are conveyed in a very partícufat manner: They cánnot be taken bý á wift'of'fleri'facias. And if they are seized byniad writ of elegit, one diety oħlý of elie state enn be applied, for payment bfitlié - deptand costs." oii which the judginent'is founded; the other moiety inult remain for his furpoir and mäititêtránce. The freeHold'descends to the heir, discharged of ati debts, or specialties."> -:46 Now, we have féén what an English frééliold' is. Are there any füchrestates in América? I am certain there are not."" There can be no manoi's in that part of the world, for we can show the origin of their te. nuresa Their properties, pretended legislative autkority, and the existence of what they call freeholds cau be traced from prerogative. " Are our freeholds owing to huranbeneficence? No, e cân nấme feve. ral persons who oppreffedus; but the, Americans can point out none who have conferred upon us our estates, or any privileges whatever. 'Is there an estate in America which may not be taken by the same writ that takes in execution a negro or a horfe? The whole course of chancery 'proves that their estate sare only commercial charrets, subject to the disposition of the last will of the owner, and chargeable with all the debts of the deceased proprieror. And lest any doubt faould arise abour the propriety of these decrees in equity, equalizing a foreiga plantation to a personal eftate, there was a ftatute made in the fifth

of the preceding reign declarative of the coinmon law in, thisisrespect; - and-flatuting that foreign plantations; Should only be regarded in the light of personal estates.

year

After

After that iaw, what man in his right senses can dignify those estates with the name of freeholds?

“ The American eltates are destitute of the principal charactereitic of a freehold. They are derived from royal grants for the improvement of commerce. The pretended American freeholders are not original members of any court, by virtue of their freeholds. They have no manors, nor manor-courts in America, and consequently no courts to which the pretended American freeholders repair, by virtue of their freeholds, and in consequence of a title paramount to all human laws. Why then should they pretend to equalize their supposed freeholders with ours? An absolute ignorance of law and common sense could only give birth to such injudicious conduct. Our freeholders häve a share in the legislation; because by customs as ancient as those that establish government, they are entitled to rule in a certain district of the kingdom. Can the Americans boast of the existence of any such customs among them, or of estates and judicative authority derived out of these customs ? Why then should they pretend to be freeholders, and as such only subject to the legislation of their own election ?

“ The Americans will, perhaps, reply that they serve on Juries when called by the King's writ into the supreme court of their respe&tive provinces. But this happens not as with us by the excellency of te. nures, whose origin is unknown, but is owing to the grace of those princes who, without the authority of law, granted them that constitution. Are tenures flowing from the prince equal to tenures held independent of the crown? surely not. The Americans have no rights but from royal grants; and of consequence those rights must not be extended beyond their natural meaning, or interpreted to the prejudice of those who, by an inherent right, independent of the crown, govern the whole kingdom. The privileges of persons claiming under so high a tenure, cannot be impaired by deeds from the crown, and consequenily the government of our parliament must reach over all the English dominions, as if no such grants had been made, and no estates derived out of them.”

those

A writer on the other side says, “The question, if properly understood, is not concerning, a three-penny itamp, but liberty. Not that fiberty which is the tool of contending parties, the key to power, or the reviler of a minister's cradle; but that true and genuine liberty which expands and ennobles the heart of the

poorest freeholder, and prevents his property from being touched, but by the permission of those who by the constitution are his representatives in parliament.

“ The infatuation of some people here, while they endeavour by the most frivolous arguments, to esta• blish a right to tax America, in direct violation of this animating principle of their constitution, is to the last degree deplorable. It shall be my endeavours to shew here in a few words, how such a right would be directly subversive of our constitution, and therefore of our liberties. And here I fhall not enter into the question whether America be in the manor of EastGreenwich, (a frivolous equivocation derived from the casual use of this expression in the Massachusett's Charter of King Charles the second) nor yet whether American corn be indegestible or unpalatable, (though I confess I think it exceedingly palatable) because tliefe do not seem to me to be quite pertinent to the dispute, and are indeed unworthy refutation or animadverfion. The lands in America are as much freehold and derive that tenure from the same hand, as are the lands of England; and the holders of them, on the same tenure,

are

are as much freeholders as those of England. Now it must beknown to every one, that, at this day, there is not a freeholder in England who does notłgive his note for à representative in the assembly of the commons of England , who from tljence derive their name, and their sole: right of taxing the property of the people. Nor is there any freeholder-in-thenation foig, norant of his riglir, and of the foundation of his liberty, that, he would not complain of a violation of it if he was deprived of the privilege of-voting for such a representative ;; yet we are subjecting the American freeholders-to that very grievance, of which we ourfelves would complain as destructive of our freedom: we are subje&ting them to be taxed by reprefentatives, in the election of whom they have not (one voice. , They are freeholders as we are, they chuse representativesto tax them as we do ; and it seems inconsistent with the nature of the British constitution, and fubverfive of the freedom of the common people, that the property of a freeholder should be taxed by any-representatives but those for which he voters and therea by empowers to tax him. Let the case, for a moment, be our own, and suppale ourselves liable to be taxed by representatives chosen by the freeholders of Amee rica ; should we hesitate an.inftant in deckaring it an absolutę, violation of our liberty, and a flavish impofition. Therefore, the right of taxing the American freeholders, which fome, would establish-here, muft needs seem as unconstitutional and arbitrary with respect to the Americans, with what.justice then canwe thus: attempt to violate the liberty of the Americans? Is not this the height of infatuation?..

"? Having thus proved; upon fair and unqueftionable principles, that we can have no right to tax

be

[ocr errors]

the freeholders in America, I shall add a word or two upon what is terned a rebellion in America. The only occurrences there, which can have given the dealt ground for such a charge, are the tunultuous proceedings of the mob, and the resolves of the assemblies.,. With regard to the former, I would only beg.leave to ask, whether it is usual. to call the riotous actions of a mob' rebellion ? Were the weavers, when they assembled together, furrounded the parliament-house, offered most dangerous - violence to the coach of a noble peer, and, .if I smistake not, did him a personal injury, attempted to pull down his house, and, assaulted, his majesty's guards wich stones, fo as to,occasion the death of some of them, were they called-rebels.or-rioters,? Has the American mob beeg more outrageous ? And are they, and the whole,colonists.of America, who never ,were guilty of any such riots, to be. branded with the most odious and detested name of rebels.? Let us now .confider how far the resolves of the American assemblies can be called rebellious.. I have already proved, that England can have no right to tax America. :, The stampact seemed to them, therefore unconstitutional, and a direct violation of the rights of the American assemblies, who are the true and only representatives of the freeholders, and have the fale constitutional right of taxing their property. The afl'emblies, by their resalves, immediately afferted their rights, and remonstrated against this infringement of them, with a spirit and freedom which was well worthy the free representatives of a free .people: and can this be termed rebellion? In France, in Germany, in. Asia,

it might have been.esteemed such.; and is it. not a melancholy-proof, that this country is degenerating into their servile state and abject sentiments, when

the

« PreviousContinue »