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received in the other colonies. They generally CHAP. II. approved the measures of opposition which had 1768. been taken, and readily united in them. They too petitioned the king against the obnoxious acts of parliament, and instructed their several agents to use all proper means to obtain their repeal. Virginia transmitted to her sister colonies a statement of her proceedings, and in the letter to Massachussetts, communicating the representation made by the house of burgesses to parliament, they say, " that they do not affect an independency of their parent kingdom, the prosperity of which they are bound, to the utmost of their abilities, to promote; but cheerfully acquiesce in the authority of parliament to make laws for preserving a necessary dependence, and for regulating the trade of the colonies: yet they cannot conceive, and humbly insist it is not essential, to support a proper relation between the mother country and colonies transplanted from her, that she should have a right to raise money from them without their consent, and presume they do not aspire to more than the rights of British subjects when they assert, that no power on earth has a right to impose taxes on the people, or take the smallest portion of their property, without their consent given by their representatives in parlia. ment. This has ever been considered as the chief pillar of the constitution; without this support no man can be said to have the least
CHAP. 11. shadow of liberty: since they can have no pro1768. perty in that, which another can by right take
from them when he pleases, without their consent.”*
On the first intimation of the measures taken by Massachussetts, the earl of Hillsborough, who had been appointed, about the close of the year 1767, to the then newly created office of secre.
tary of state for the department of the colonies, Letter from addressed a circular letter to the several goverHillsborouge nors, to be laid by them before the assemblies
of their respective colonies, in which he treats the circular letter of Massachussetts as being of the most dangerous and factious tendency, calculated to inflame the minds of his majesty's good
the earl of
* In this letter too, the house of burgesses, after reprobating the act imposing duties on glass, &c. express their opinion concerning the mutiny act in the following terms. “ The act suspending the legislative power of New York, they consider as still more alarming to the colonies, though it has that single province in view. If parliament can compel them to furnish a single article to the troops sent over, they may, by the same rule, oblige them to furnish clothes, arms, and every other necessary, even the pay of the officers and soldiers; a doctrine replete with every mischief, and utterly subversive of all that's dear and valuable; for what advantage can the people of the colonies derive from their right of choosing their own re, presentatives, if those representatives when chosen, be not permitted to exercise their own judgments, be under a necessity (on pain of being deprived of their legislative authority) of enforcing the mandates of a British parlia. ment."
subjects in the colonies, to promote an unwar. CHAP. II. rantable combination, to excite and encourage an 1768. open opposition to and denial of the authority of parliament, and to subvert the true principles of the constitution; and he endeavours to prevail with them to treat with a proper resentment, what he terms “such an unjustifiable attempt to revive those distractions which have operated so fatally to the prejudice of the colonies, and of the mother country;" but in any event not to take part with Massachussetts by approving such proceedings.
Far from producing the desired effect, this letter of the earl of Hillsborough rather served to strengthen the determination of the colonies to unite in their endeavours for the purpose of obtaining a repeal of the laws so universally detested; and they declared that they could not consider as an unwarrantable combination, a concert of measures to give weight and efficacy to their representations in support of principles, they deemed essential to the preservation of the British constitution, and of British liberty.
It is probable that this letter was accompanied with instructions to dissolve such assemblies as should refuse to comply with its recommenda. tion, as the assemblies were generally dissolved on taking the same into consideration, and declining to gratify the wish expressed by his
CHAP. II. lordship respecting the conduct of their sister 1768. colony. June 21. When the general court of Massachussetts
was again convened, governor Bernard laid before the house of representatives an extract of a letter from the earl of Hillsborough, communicating the great concern of his majesty, that “a house, at the end of a session, should have presumed to revert to and resolve upon a measure of so inflammatory a nature, as that of writing to the other colonies, on the subject of their intended representations against some late acts of parliament.” After stating the opinion, entertained by the crown, of this measure, in terms similar to those used in his circular letter, and expressing the opinion that the resolutions were passed by surprise, and against the sense of the assembly, he declares it to be “the king's pleasure” that the governor “should require of the house of representatives, in his majesty's name, to rescind the resolution which gave birth to the circular letter from the speaker, and to declare their disapprobation of and dissent from that rash and hasty pro
ceeding.” June 23. This message unavoidably produced a con
siderable degree of agitation; but without coming to any resolution on it, the house requested the governor to lay before them the whole of the letter of the earl of Hillsborough, and also copies of such letters as had been
written by his excellency to that nobleman on CHAP. II. the subject to which the message referred. 1768.
- The letters written by the governor were June 24. haughtily refused, but the residue of that from the earl of Hillsborough was laid before them. That minister says, “if, notwithstanding the apprehensions which may justly be entertained of the ill consequence of a continuance of this factious spirit; which seems to have influenced the resolutions of the assembly at the conclu. sion of the last session, the new assembly should refuse to comply with his majesty's reasonable expectation, it is the king's pleasure, that you immediately dissolve them.” '
In a subsequent part of the letter, the governor is assured that “a faithful discharge of duty shall not operate to” his “prejudice, or to the discontinuance of any necessary establishments.”
Noimmediate answer being returned to these June 28. communications, the governor pressed the house to a decision on them; adding, that he could “not admit of a much longer delay without considering it as an answer in the negative.”
The next day the house requested a recess, that they might consult their constituents on the requisition made in consequence of the earl of Hillsborough's letter. This being refused, a letter to the earl was reported and agreed to by a majority of ninety-three to