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míg however, convinced a great number of people in D tain ; and thus, the American cause came to be consider as the cause of liberty.
The Americans finding that all their remonstre were fruitless, at last united in an agreement not to in, any more of the British manufactures, but to encourage the utmost of their power', every 43cful manufacture a nice theinselves. Thus the British inanufacturers became a on ty against the ministry, and expressed their resentmeni strong terms; but the ministry were not to be easily daun ed; and therefore proceeded to the last step of their tended plan, which was to lay on stamp duties through the continent. Previou13 to this, several regulations made in favour of the coin mercc of the colonies ; but ti, had imbibed such unfavourable impressions of the Bri ministry, that they paid very little regard to any thing i tended to be done in their favour; or, if these acts on made any favourable impressions, the stump act at on obliterated every sentiment of that nature.
The reason given for this act, so exceedingly obnoxio was, that a sum might be raised suficient for the defence of the colonies against a foreign enemy ; but this pretence. was so far from giving satisfaction to the Americans, that it excited their indignation to the utmost. They not only asserted that they were abundantly able to defend them. selves, but denied the right of the British Parliament to tax them at all. ; To enter into the arguments of the contending parties upon this occasion, would be superfluous. It was manifest that the matter was not to be decided but by force of arms ; and the British ministry, confident of the authority and power of that country, were disposed to carry on matters with a high hand, to terrify the colonists into submission, or compel them by forcc.
The Stamp act, after a violent opposition in pariiament, was passed, and its reception in America was such as might have been expected. The news and the act itself, first arrived at Boston, where the bells were muel, and rung a funeral peal. The act was first hawked about the streets, with a death's head affixed to it, and styled “ The folly of England, and the ruin of America.” It was afterwards pub. licly burnt by the enraged populace; the stamps were sçi
zed and destroyed, unless brought on board of men of war, er kept in fortified places. Those who were to receive the stamp duties were compelled to resign their offices; and such of the Americans as favoured the government on this occasion, had their houses plundered and burned.
Though these outrages were committed by the multitude, they were connived at by those of superior rank, who afterwards openly patronized them; and the doctrine became general and openly avowed, that Britain had no right to tax the colonies without their own consent. The ministry now found it absolutely necessary, either to yield to the Americans, by repealing the obnoxious laws, or to enforce them by arms.
The ferment had become general through the colonies. Virginia first, and afterwards all the rest of the provinces declared against the right of Britain to tax America ; and, that every attempt to vest others with this power, besides the king, or the governor of the province, and his general assembly, was illegal, unconstitutional, and unjust. Non. importation agreements were every where entered into ; and it was resolved, to prevent the sale of any more British goods after the present year. American manufactures, though dearer, as also inferior in quality to the British, were universally preferred. An association was also entered into against eating of lamb, in order to promote the growth of wool; and the ladies agreed to renounce the use of every kind of ornament imported from Great Britain.
Such a general and alarming confederacy determined the Ministry to repeal some of the most obnoxious Acts ; and to this they were the more inclined by a petition from the first American Congress, held at New-York in 1765.
The stamp act was therefore repealed, to the universal joy of the Americans, as well as to the general satisfaction of the English, whose manufactures had began to suffer in consequence of American associations against them. The disputes on the subject however, were by no means silenced ; every one continued to argue the case as violently as ever. Dr. Benjamin Franklin was on this occasion examined before the house of Commons; and his opinion was in substance as follows : “ That the tax in question was impracticable and ruinous. The very attempt had so far alienated the affection of the colonies,
that they behaved in a less friendly manner towards the natives of England than before, considering the whole nation as conspiring against their liberty, and the parliament as móre willing to oppress than to assist and support them. America in fact, did not stand in any need of British manufactures, having already began to construct such as might be deemed absolutely necessary, and that with such success, as left no doubt of their arriving in a short time at perfection. The elegancies of dress had al. ready been renounced for American manufactures, though much inferior, and the bulk of the people consisting of farmers, were such as could in no way be affected by the want of British commodities, as having every necessary within themselves, materials of all kinds were to be had in plenty: the wool was fine, flax grew in great abundance, and iron was every where to be met with.” The Doctor also insisted, that “ the Americans had been greatly misrepresented ; that they had been traduced as void of gratitude and affection to the parent state ; than which nothing could be more contrary to truth. In the war in 1755, they had at their own expense raised an army of 25,000 men ; and that they assisted the British expeditions against South America, with several thousand men; and had made many brave exertions against the French in North America.
It was said that the war of 1755 had been undertaken in defence of the colonies ; but the truth was, that it originated from a contest about the limits between Canada and Nova-Scotia, and in defence of the English rights to trade on the Ohio. The Americans, however, would still continue to act with their usual fidelity ; and were any war to break out in which they had no concern, they would be as ready as ever to assist the parent state to the utmost of their power, and would not fail to manifest their ready acquiescence in contributing to the emergencies of government, when called to do so in a regular and constitutional manner.”
The ministry were conscious that in repealing this ob. noxious act, they yielded to the Americans; and there. fore, to support as they thought, the dignity of Great Britain, it was judged proper to publish a declaratory bill, setting forth the authority of the mother country, over
her colonies, and her power to bind them by laws and statutes in all cases whatsoever. This much diminished the joy with which the repeal of the siamp act was re. ceived in America. . It was considered a proper reason to enforce any claims equally prejudicial with the stamp act, which might hereafter be set up; a spirit of jealousy pervaded the whole continent, and a strong party was formed, determined to guard against the supposed encroachments of British power.
It was not long before an occasion offered, in which the Americans manifested a spirit of absolute independency ; and, that instead of being bound by the British legislature in all cases whatsoever, they would not be controlled by it in the most trivial affairs. The Rockingham ministry had passed an act, providing the troops stationed in different parts of the colonies with such accommodations as were necessary for them. The assembly of New York however, took upon them to alter the mode of execution prescribed by the act of Parliament, and to substitute one of their own.
This gave very great offence to the new ministry, and rendered them, though composed of those who had been active against the stamp bill, less favourable to the colonies in all probability, than they would otherwise have been. An unlucky circumstance at the same time occur. red, which threw every thing once more into confusion. Cie of the new ministry, Charles Townshend having declared that he could find a way of taxing America, without giving offence; was called upon to propose his plan. This was by imposing a duty upon tea, paper, painter's colours, and glass imported into America. The conduct of the New York assembly, respecting the troops, and that of Boston, which had proceeded in a similar manner, caused this bill to meet with less opposition than otherwise it might have done. As a punishment to the refractory assemblies, the legislative power was taken from New York, until it should fully comply with the terms of the act. That of Boston at last submitted with reluctance. The bill for the new taxes quickly passed, and was sent to America in 1768. A ferment much greater than that occasioned by the stamp-act, now took place throughout the continent. The populace renewed their outrages, and
those of superior stations, entered into regular combinations against it.
Circular letters were sent from Massachusetts colony to all the others, setting forth the injustice and impropriety of the behaviour of the British legislature. Meetings were held in all the principal towns. It was proposed to lessen the consumption of all foreign manufactures, by giving proper encouragement to their own. Continual disputes ensued betwixt the governors and general assemblies, which were aggravated by a letter from lord Shelburne, to governor Barnard of Massachusetts Bay, containing complaints of the people he governed. The assembly, exasperated to the highest degree, charged their governor with having misrepresented them at the court of Britain ; required him to produce copies of the letters he had sent; and on his refusal, wrote letters to the English ministry, accusing him of misrepresentation and partiality, complaining at the same time most grievously of the proceedings of parliament, as utterly subversive of the liberties of America, and the rights of British subjects. The governor, at a loss how to defend himself, prorogued the assembly, and in his speech on the occasion, gave a loose to his resentment, accusing the members of ambitious designs, incompatible with those of dutiful and loyal subjects. To counteract the circular letter of the province of Massachusett's Bay, lord Hillsborough, secretary for the American department, sent another to the governors of the different colonies, reprobating that sent by the Assembly of Massachusetts Bay, as full of misrepresentation, and tending to excite a rebellion against the parent state.
Matters were now drawing to a crisis. The governor had been ordered to proceed with vigour, and by no means show any disposition to yield to the people as formerly. In particular they were required to rescind that resolution by which they had written the circular letter above mentioned ; and in case of a refusal, it was told them that they would be dissolved. As this letter had been framed by the resolutions of a former house, they desired after a week's consultation, that a recess might be granted to consult with their constituents ; but this being refused, they came to a determination 92 against 17, to adhere to the resolution wl.ich produced the circular letter,