Page images
PDF
EPUB

be adopted. Is it not fundamentally un- was not your force that was present apjust to prevent the parties who have of. plied to quell the disturbances ? How fended being heard in their defence ? came they to be so feeble and inactive? Justice, Sir, is not to be measured by How are you sure that the orders and frigeographical lines nor dittance. Every gates which you now send, will act betman, Sir, is authorised to be a magi- ter? I cannot think this, by any means, strate, to put a stop to disturbances a prudent measure, to be blocking up which he perceives to be committed a one port after another; the consequence gainst his majesty's peace; but did you will be dreadful, and I am afraid deexpect that the people who were not structive; you will draw a foreign force present at such disturbances, should be upon you, perhaps, at a time when you equally punished for not aiding and as- little suspect it; I will not say where lifting in putting an end to those riots that will end; I will be silent on that which they never saw or heard of. This head, and go no further, but think of Sir, says he, is surely a doctrine of de- the consequence. Again, Sir, in one of vils, tó require men to be present in the clauses of the bill you proscribe the every part of America wherever a riot property of the people, to be governed happens ; but this bill involves those and measured by the will of the crown. who have never in the least been guilty; This is a ruinous and dangerous principle and then you again say, that the diftur- to adopt. There is an universal disconbances which did happen, ought to have tent throughout all America, from an been immediately put a stop to by the internal bad government. There are people of Boston, and that they were but two ways to govern America, either bound to preserve the good order of the to make it subservient to all your laws, town; but, Sir, I have too much reve or to let it govern itself by its own inrence for the image of God to conceive ternal policy. I abhor the measure of that the honourable gentleman (Mr. taxation where it is only for a quarrel, Welbore Ellis) does really and truly and not for a revenue; a measure that imbibe such doctrine. (He then read is teazing and irritating without any part of colonel Lellie's letter, No 45, good effect; but a revision of this questiwherein the colonel said, that neither on will one day or other come, wherein the governor nor the council nor any of I hope to give my opinion. But this is the Custom-House officers, have ever the day that you wish to go to war with yet applied to me for any affiftance; if all America, in order to conciliate that they had, I could most certainly have country to this; and to say that Ameriput a stop to all their riot and violences, ca fhall be obedient to all the laws of but not without some bloodshed, and this country. I wish to see a new regufiring upon their town, and killing many lation and a plan of a new legislation in innocent people.) Why, fir, says he, that country, not founded upon your did not the governor at once send for this laws and ftatutes here, but grounded assistance? Was it contrary to, or do you upon the vital principles of English lithink he would have broken through his berty. instructions if he had endeavoured, by Mr. Sawbridge said, the offence of fuch ways and means, to preserve the burning the tea, was done in the night public peace, and prevent violences time, and not tempore diurno; that this from being committed? The fault of this was an ex poft fatto law, and like the governor ought not to be the means of law of the Black Act, which had been punishment for the innocent. You have mentioned, before the offence was comfound that there was no government mitted; that as far as that, or any other there: why did not the governor exer- precedent participated of this law, so cise his authority? Why did not the far they were most iniquitous ; that it Chips execute their duty ? What was the was an act of cowardice in the minister reason they did not act? Why is not to come to parliament to ask for that Mr. Hancock, and the chief people who which had been allowed, and was in the are known, punished, and not involve power of the crown to order and direct ; the innocent with the guilty in one uni- he meant, he said, the removal of the versal calamity? You, surely, Sir, can. Custom-House officers, and other things not have power to take away the trade mentioned in that act, the preservation of a port, and call it privilege! Why of the peace, and the executive autho

rity in that country: All these might of the tea, and have declared their jufhave been done by the crown, without tification of resistance to the obedience, applying to parliament, but that the of our laws. Yet we are desired to minister was timorous of proceeding him- hear them; to hear those very persons self, and wanted to skulk behind the who have declared to you, and to all protection of the legislature.

the world, that they intended this vioLord North said, he rose to explain lence against the law; therefore, it is himself, and was sorry to commit an said, fir, by some honourable gentlemen offence to the House at that hour of the in this House, that we ought not to pronight, and especially as it would be to ceed in this measure, till we have heard the disturbance of the neighbourhood these very people, who are the great who are totally innocent ; (alluding to offenders, say at your bar, in their dethe charge that had been made by Mr. fence, that Great-Britain has no authoSawbridge, that the innocent people rity to tax them; they can make no in the town of Boston would suffer other plea; they can make no other deequally with the offenders) nor am I, claration than what they have already fir, alhamed, says his lordship, at done ; but, fir, we muit adopt the meaany time, to take shelter under the le- sure, let what will be the consequence. gislature. The honourable gentleman I hope and conclude it will be a happy says, the minister might do certain ings, one.

Is this then the best meafure in which are to be enacted in that bill, the present case? It certainly is; I hear without application to parliament; such of none other or preferable, or I would as changing the Custom House officers, adopt it. It is to tell America, that you ordering the peace to be preserved, and are in earnest. If we do not mean toa better regulation of internal govern- tally to give up the matter in question, ment to take place; but that they could we must assert our right at this time, not block up a port, or make it illegal while we can, whilft it is in our power. for the landing, lading, and shipping Instead of our treating America like a of goods in any place heretofore grant- foreign enemy, America has treated us ed, without the aid of parliament. I like one, disavowing our authority, and will not undertake to fay, what will be declaring against all obedience to the the consequence or event of this mea laws of Great-Britain. We are threasure; I am strongly of opinion it will tened again, by one honourable gentlebe falutary and effective, but I will say, man, left a foreign enemy should, in this that it was not in the power of the mi- emergency, start up,-he stopped short, nister to sit still, and take no measure, and said, he would say no more upon I believe, fir, that no profecution in that head. I suppose he meant, that that country, according to its present this foreign enemy would lay hold of form of government, will be effectual. America during our conteft. Time of I was therefore much for adopting the peace, fir, is the only season for adoptmeasure proposed. It certainly may be ing regulations. This is the crisis then right to direct a prosecution against those in which that contest ought to be deterindividuals who may be found offenders, mined. Another honourable friend of but can the honourable gentleman be of mine is for repealing the tea duty. I opinion, from what he has seen and read am of opinion, fir, that the repealing from the papers on the table, that any any measure whatever, at this moment, obedience will be paid to such a prose- would stamp us with a degree of timidity, cution, or that it will be in the least and would produce a total different efdegree effective ? This measure will feet from what I expect this measure will certainly not excuse the individual of- do. fenders, no more than the fine upon a Governor Johnstone. It may appear county, between sun and fun, will ex- arrogant in a member so inferior, as I cuse the person who committed the rob- confess myself to be, to offer objections bery. This is no ex poft facto law; they to a bill fo extensive in its consequences committed the offence of destroying the under every confideration, especially tea, knowing and declaring, at the same after it must have been so maturely contime, the law which they offended a sidered, in every article, by men so difgainst. The committee of Boston, fir, tinguished by their talents and high situagave the directions for the destruction tions in office. Nevertheless, though

naturali

[ocr errors]

E:

naturally diffident of my opinion, when the execution. However much such I had the good fortune, or bad fortune approbation may prevail at the particu(I don't know which to termn it) of lar moment in this House, it is imposprognosticating to the chairman of the fible to believe the sense of Great-BriEalt-India company the consequences tain, or the sense of America, can go of sending this tea, on their own ac to the punishing a particular town, for count, to America, and the event has refifting the payment of the tea tax, which literally fulfilled my words, as is well is universally odious throughout Ameknown to some members now in my ere, rica, and is held in ridicule and conit makes me more confident in warning tempt by every thinking man in this the House of what I apprehend will be country:-The question of taxing Amethe consequences of this bill.

rica is fufhciently nice to palliate reI told the chairman of the East-India fistance, if the subject had never been company, first in conversation, on alk- litigated in this country; but, after the ing my opinion, and afterwards by let- highest characters in the ftate had deter, that I conceived the East-India com clared againit the right of this country pany exporting tea on their own ac to impole taxes on America, for the count, was, under every confideration purpoles of revenue; after the general of their situation and institution, wrong; voice of the fenate had concurred in but, under the present discontents and repealing the Stamp Ac, upon that disputed matters of government in Ame- principle; after those men, who had rica, criminally absurd, because they maintained these doctrines, had been were presenting themselves as the buit promoted by his majeity to the first in the controversy, where they would stations in the adminiftration of civil probably come off with the loss of the and judicial affairs, there is so much whole. The event has justified my pre- mitigation to be pleaded in favour of the diction; for whatever re-payment the Americans, from those circumstances, company may obtain from the town of (allowing them in an error at present) Boston, under those cruel coercive mea that every man mult feel the height of sures nuw proposed, (the effect of which cruelty, by enforcing contrary maxims, I still doubt,) yet the company muft with any degree of severity, at first, beremain great losers even if the other fore due warning is given. provinces, equally culpable, are made It is in vain to say that Boston is more to refund the loss arising from their con- culpable than the other colonies ; sendduct, because it was not supplies of cash ing the ships from thence, and obliging at a distant period the company wanted, them to return to England, is a more but an immediate supply,' to answer a solemn and deliberate act of relistance temporary exigency, which a combina- than the outrage committed by persons tion of the enemies of the company had in disguise in the night, when the ships produced.

refused to depart. That of blocking up I now venture to predict to this House, the harbour of Bofton to prevent the that the effect of the present bill must importation of Britisa manufactures, or be productive of a general confederacy the exportation of goods which are to to resist the power of this country. It pay for them, is a measure equally as is irritating, tempting, nay inviting men absurd as if the parliament here, upon to those deeds, by ineffectual expe- the resistance which was made to their dients, the abortions of an undecisive resolution, by the riots at Brentford, mind, incapable of comprehending the and other disturbances in the county of chain of consequences which must result Middlesex, had decreed, by way of from such a law.-I am not one of those punishment, that the freeholders should who believe that distant provinces can have been prohibited from fowing of be retained in their duty by preaching wheat. For whose benefit do the inhaor inchantments ; I believe that force bitants of Boston toil and labour ? The or power, conducted with wisdom, are springs in the circle of commerce bear so the means of securing regular obedience nicely on each other, that few men can under every establishment, but that such tell, by interrupting one, the degree and force mould never be applied, to any extent to which the rest may be exposed. degree of rigour, unless it shall carry By excluding the importation of molafthe general approbation of mankind in fes, and the exportation of that fpirit

which

[ocr errors]

which is diflilled at Boston, the whole verning, rewards and punishıments, are
Guinea trade will be affected, and in taken from your supreme executive
consequence the sugar trade that depends magiitrate in every sense, and then you
upon it. In extending this kind of are surprized that all order and obedience
pun:inment to the other colonies, every should cease. The colonies can only
cae must see the danger ; and yet, if it be governed by their assemblies, as Eng-
can be approved for one, the same ar- land by the House of Commons; the
guments will hold good to approve or patent offices, as well as those in the
reject it respecting the other. But let customs, which were formerly given at
any man tgure to himself the confe- the recommendation of the governors,
quences to his country, if a similar to men supporting government, and re-
punifhment was applied to the colony fiding in the provinces, are now given
of Virginia ; 300,000l. a year diminu- in reversion three or four lives deep, to
tion in revenue, besides the loss of all men living in this country. The com-
the foreign contracts, and perhaps of mand of the military, which was another
that beneficial trade for ever. Notwith- great source of respect and obedience,
standing the general approbation which is likewise taken from the governor ; so
has been given to this bill, and the loud that in truth he remains an insignificant
applauses which have been re-echoed to pageant of state, fit only to transmit
every word of the noble lord in explain- tedious accounts of his own ridiculous
ing it, yet no man will be bold enough situation; or, like a doctor of the Sor-
to say, that this partial punishment is a bonne, to debate with his assembly about
remedy for the general disease; and yet abstract doctrines in government.
without knowing what is to follow, no I am far from wishing to throw any
man can be vindicated (even supposing blame upon governor Hutchinson, or to
the bill right in part) for giving his as- condemn him, as the town of Boston,
sent to it. Those gentlemen who are now is, unheard. The absence of the
in the secrets of the cabinet, and know man, and the general clamour against
how assuredly every proposition from him will restrain me from faying many
them is adopted by this House, may he things respecting his conduct, which ap-
excused for their sanguine acclamations pear reprehensible. But I cannot ad-
in favour of the mealure. But the ge- mit a pallage in the speech of a noble
neral mass, who must be equally igno- lord to pass unnoticed. His lordship al-
rant with myself of what is to follow, ledges, " that the governor could not
can have no excuse for giving their af- apply to the admiral in the harbour, or
sent fo readily for punishing their fel- to the commanding officer of the
low-subjects in so unprecedented a man troops in the castle, for the protection of
ner; and their eager zeal serves only to of the Custom House officers, as well as
Thew how ready they are to obey the will the teas in question, without the advice
of another, without exercising their own of his council.”. But I beg leave to
judgment in the case. If the govern- inform the noble lord, as i lerved in
ment of this country is resisted in Ame- that itation myself, that there is a vo-
rica,

2, my opinion is, instead of remov- lume of indiructions to every governor
ing the seat of government in the colony, on this subject, whereby he is commande
and forcing the elements to bend to our ed, under the severest penalties, “ 10
will, which is impoflible, that an ef- give all kind of protection to trade and
fettual force should be carried to the commerce, as well as to the officers of
heart of the colony refifting, to crush his majesty's customs, by his own autho-
rebellion in the bud before a general rity, without the necessity of acting
confederacy can be formed. In the pre- through his council." Nor can I con-
fent case we abandon the government, ceive a possible excuse for the defiruc-
and drive the inhabitants to dispair, tion of those teas, while two men of
leaving the multitude a prey to any war lay in the harbour, without the
ambitious spirit that may arise. For my, least application having been made 10
own part I am convinced, from expe- the admiral for protection, during to
rience in the colonies, that good govern- long a transaction.
ment may be conducted there upon ra The first essential point in those dif-
tional grounds, as well as in this coun- putes which are now likely to become to
try; but the power and means of go- serious, by the weakness of adminiftra-

tio

[ocr errors]

tion in this country in following no con- perceived the injustice and futility of
pected plan, either of force or favour, the measure in dispute ? But I can easily
but constantly vibrating between the suppose, from the pride of authority
two, is to put ourselves in the right, where our vanity is lo much flattered,
and for this purpose I would recommend that no man durit venture a propofition
the immediate repeal of the tea duty, for receding from that cruel measure,
which can be vindicated upon no prin- after it had been resisted by violence.
ciples, either of commerce or policy. These are the general heads.
Men may alledge this would be giving The particular objections to the bill
up the point. But if we have no better are, first, for continuing the punishment
points to dispute upon, I am ready to “ until satisfaction shall be made to the
yield the argument. Raising taxes in India company,” without ftating the
America not for the purposes of revenue, amount, or what that satisfaction shall
I maintain to be unnecessary and dan- be. Next, “ until peace and good or-
gerous. A Stamp Act, as a measure of der shall be certified to be restored,"
police, varied for the different govern- when it is impossible, as to the subject in
ments, and leaving the revenue raised dispute, that such certificate can ever be
thereby to be appropriated by the re- granted, because the Custom-House of-
fpective legislatures, I hold to be a mea ficers are removed, and all trade and
sure of the highest efficacy, for main- commerce prohibited. The numerous
taining a due obedience to the authority disputes and litigations which must ne-
of this country, and prolonging that cessarily arise in carrying this law into
dependence for ages to come. How far execution, on contracts made by parties
it can be executed after what has alrea- before they could be apprized of it; and
dy passed, I am rather diffident; but of the dispatch of thips in harbour, under
this I am certain, that in case Greate the limited time, without any exception
Britain is deprived of executing a mea for the desertion of seamen, of wind
sure of that nature, which by pervading and weather, is altogether melancholy
every transaction secures the execution to consider ! The power given to the
in itself, the has lost one of the greatest admiral or chief commander to order
engines for supporting her influence the ships returning from foreign voyages,
throughout the empire without oppref- to such stations as he shall direct, is wild,
fion. Some men who are for simplifying vexatious, and indefinite. That of
government to their own comprehensions permitting his majesty to alter the value
will not allow they can conceive that of all the property in the town of Bor-
the supreme legislative authority shall ton, upon restoring the port, by affixing
not be paramount in all things and such quays and wharfs as he only shali
taxation being fully comprehended in appoint for landing and shipping of goods,
legislation, they argue, that the power is liable to such misrepresentation and
of the one must neceflarily follow that abuse, that I expect to see every evil
of the other; and yet we find mankind follow the exercise of it, and it must
posrefed of privileges which are not to create infinite jealousies and distractions
be violated in the most arbitrary coun- among the people.
tries. The province of Languedoc is I am therefore of opinion, that this
a striking example in refutation of the bill, both from the principle and man-
doctrines respecting taxation, which are ner in which it has been passed, and
held by such narrow observers. The from fore-running the general regula-
kingdom of Ireland is another instance tions that are intended, and which ought
in our own dominions. There is not one at least to accompany it; instead of quiet-
argument which can apply for exempt- ing the disturbances in Boston, will pro-
ing Ireland from taxation by the parlia- mote them ftill further, and induce the
ment of Great-Gritain, that does not inhabitants to cut off all communication
equally protect the colonies from the with your ships of war, which may be
power of such partial judges. Every productive of mutual hostilities, and
man should now call to his remembrance most probably will end in a general re-
by what obstinate infatuation Philip II. volt."
came to lose the United Provinces. The question was then put, and it
Can it be supposed, that in a nation fo was Resolved, that the bill do pass, with
wise as Spain was at that time, no man this title. An act to discontinue in

such

« PreviousContinue »