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whatever colony. This checked the commerce of them all. Ships loaded with cargoes destined either directly or indirectly to make remittance in England, were not spared. If the differences between the two countries had been then accommodated, these unauthorised plunderers would have been called to account, and many of their exploits must have been found piracy. But what cured all this, set their minds at ease, made short work, and gave full scope to their piratical disposition, was another act of parliament, forbidding any inquisition into those past facts, declaring them all lawful, and all American property to be forfeited, whether on sea or land, and authorising the king's British subjects to take, seize, sink, burn, or de stroy, whatever they could find of it. The property suddenly and by surprise, taken from our merchants by the operation of this act, is incomputable. And yet the cry did not diminish, These Americans don't pay their debts !
Had the several states of America, on the publication of this act seized all British property in their power, whether consisting of lands in their country, ships in their harbors, or debts in the hands of their merchants, by way of retaliation, it is probable a great part of the world would have deemed such conduct justifiable. They it seems thought otherwise, and it was done only in one or two states, and that under particular circumstances of provocation. And not having thus abolished
all demands, the cry subsists that the Americays should pay their debts !
General Gage being with his army, (before the declaration of open war) in peaceable possession of Boston, shut its gates, and placed guards all around to prevent its communication with the country. The inhabitants were on the point of starving. The general, though they were evidently at his mercy, fearing that while they had any arms in their hands, frantic desperation might possibly do him some mischief, proposed to them a capitulation, in which he stipulated, that if they would deliver up their arms, they might leave the town with their family and goods. In faith of this agreement, they delivered their arms. But when they began to pack up for their departure, they were informed, that by the word goods, the general understood only household goods, that is, their beds, chairs, and tables, not merchant goods ; those he was informed they were indebted for to the merchants of England, and he must secure them for the creditors. They were accordingly all seized, to an immense value, what had been paid for not excepted. It is to be supposed, though we have never heard of it, that this very honorable general, when he returned home, made a just distribution of those goods, or their value, among the said creditors. But the cry nevertheless continued, These Boston people do not pay their debts !
The army having thus ruined Boston, proceeded
to different parts of the continent. They got possession of all the capital trading towns. The troops gorged themselves with plunder. They stopped all the trade of Philadelphia for near a year, of Rhode Island longer, of New York near eight years, of Charlestown in South Carolina and Savannah in Georgia, I forget how long. This continued interruption of their commerce ruined many merchants. The army also burnt to the ground the fine towns of Falmouth and Charlestown near Boston, New London, Fairfield, Norwalk, Esopus, Norfolk, the chief trading town in Virginia, besides innumerable tenements and private farm houses. This wanton destruction of property operated doubly to the disabling of our merchants, who were importers from Britain, in making their payments, by the immoderate loss they sustained themselves, and also the loss suffered by their country debtors, who had bought of them the British goods, and who were now rendered unable to pay. The debts to Britain of course remained undischarged, and the clamor continued, These knavish Americans will not pay us!
Many of the British debts, particularly in Virginia and the Carolinas, arose from the sales made of negroes in those provinces by the British Guinea merchants. These, with all before in the country, were employed when the war came on, in raising tobaccos and rice for remittance in payment of British debts. An order arrives from England, advised by one of their most celebrated moralists, Doctor Johnson, in his Taxation no Tyranny, to excite these slaves to rise, cut the throats of their purchasers, and resort to the British army, where they should be rewarded with freedom. This was done, and the planters were thus deprived of near 30,000 of their working people. Yet the demand for those sold and unpaid still exists; and the cry continues against the Virginians and Carolinians, that they do not pay their debts !
Virginia suffered great loss in this kind of property, by another ingenious and humane British invention. Having the small-pox in their army while in that country, they inoculated some of the negroes they took as prisoners belonging to a number of plantations, and then let them escape, or sent them covered with the pock to mix with and spread the distemper among the others of their color, as well as among the white country people, which occasioned a great mortality of both; and certainly did not contribute to the enabling debtors in making payment. The war too having put a stop to the exportation of tobacco, there was a great accumulation of several years' produce in all the public inspecting warehouses and private stores of the planters. Arnold, Philips, and Cornwallis,
with British troops, then entered and over-ran the · country, burnt all the inspecting and other stores
of tobacco, to the amount of some hundred shiploads; all which might on the return of peace, if
it had not been thus wantonly destroyed, have been remitted to British creditors. But these 1-0 Virginians, why don't they pay their debts ?
Paper money was in those times our universal currency. But it being the instrument with which we combated our enemies, they resolved to deprive us of its use by depreciating it; and the most effectual means they could contrive was to counterfeit it. The artists they employed performed so well, that immense quantities of these counterfeits which issued from the British government in New York, were circulated among the inhabitants of all the states, before the fraud was detected. This operated considerably in depreciating the whole mass, first, by the vast additional quantity, and next by the uncertainty in distinguishing the true from the false ; and the depreciation was a loss to all and the ruin of many. It is true our enemies gained a vast deal of our property by the operation, but it did not go into the hands of our particular creditors, so their demands still subsisted, and we were still abused for not paying our debts !
By the seventh article of the treaty of peace, it was solemnly stipulated, that the king's troops in evacuating their posts in the United States, should not carry away with them any negroes. In direct violation of this article, General Carleton, in evacuating New York, carried off all the negroes that were there with his army, to the amount of several hundreds. It is not doubted that he must have