« ZurückWeiter »
part of this article; viz. the repeal, might be obtained, but not the refunding part, and therefore advised striking that out: but as I thought it just and right, I insisted on its standing.
On the 3rd and 4th articles I observed, we were frequently charged with views of abolishing the navigation act. That, in truth, those parts of it which were of most importance to Britain, as tending to increase its naval strength, viz. those restraining the trade, to be carried on only in ships belonging to British subjects, navigated by at least three quarters British or colony seamen, &c. were as acceptable to us as they could be to Britain, since we wished to employ our own ships in preference to foreigners, and had no desire to see foreign ships enter our ports. That indeed the obliging us to land some of our commodities in England before we could carry them to foreign markets, and forbidding our importation of some goods directly from foreign countries, we thought a hardship, and a greater loss to us than gain to Britain, and therefore proper to be repealed. But as Britain had deemed it an equivalent for her protection, we had never applied or proposed to apply for such repeal. And if they must be continued, I thought it best (since the power of parliament to make them was now disputed) that they should be re-enacted in all the colonies, which would demonstrate their consent to them. And then if, as in the sixth article, all the duties arising on them were to be collected by officers appointed and salaried in the respective governments, and the produce paid into their treasuries, I was sure the acts would be better and more faithfully executed, and at much less ex pence, and one great source of misunderstanding removed between the two countries, viz. the calumnies of low officers appointed from home, who were for ever abusing the people of the country to government, to magnify their own zeal, and recommend themselves to promotion. That the extension of the Admiralty jurisdiction so much complained of would then no longer be necessary; and that besides its being the interest of the colonies to execute those acts, which is the best security, government might be satisfied of its being done, from accounts to be sent home by the naval officers of the 4th article. The gentlemen were satisfied with these reasons, and approved the 3rd and 4th articles; so they were to stand.
The 5th they apprehended would meet with difficulty. They said, that restraining manufactures in the colonies was a favorite idea here; and therefore they wished that article to be omitted, as the proposing it would alarm and hinder perhaps the considering and granting others of more importance: but as I insisted on the equity of allowing all subjects in every country to make the most of their natural advantages, they desired I would at least alter the last word from repealed to reconsidered, which I complied with.
In maintaining the 7th article (which was at first objected to, on the principle that all under the care of government should pay towards the support of it,) my reasons were, that if every distinct part of the King's dominions supported its own government in time of peace, it was all that could justly be required of it; that all the old or confederated colonies had done so from their beginning; that their taxes for that purpose were very considerable; that new countries had many public expenses which old ones were free from, the works being done to their hands by their ancestors, such as making roads and bridges, erecting churches, court-houses, forts, quays, and other public buildings, founding schools and places of education, hospitals and alms-houses, &c. &c.; that the voluntary and the legal subscriptions and taxes for such purposes, taken together, amounted to more than was paid by equal estates in Britain. That it would be best for Britain, on two accounts, not to take money from us as contribution to its public expense, in time of peace; first, for that just so much less would be got from us in commerce, since all we could spare was already gained from us by Britain in that way; and secondly, that coming into the hands of British ministers accustomed to prodigality of public money, it would be squandered and dissipated, answering no good general purpose. That if we were to be taxed towards the support of government in Britain, as Scotland has been since the union, we ought then to be allowed the same privileges in trade as she has been allowed. That if we are called upon to give to the sinking fund or the national debt, Ireland ought to be likewise called upon; and both they and we, if we gave, ought to have some means established of inquiring into the application, and securing a compliance with the terms on which we should grant. That British ministers would perhaps not like our meddling with such matters; and that hence might arise new causes of misunderstanding. That upon the whole, therefore, I thought it best on all sides, that no aids shall be asked or expected from the colonies in time of peace; that it would then be their interest to grant bountifully and exert themselves vigorously in time of war, the sooner to put an end to it That specie was not to be had to send to England in supplies, but the colonies could carry on war with their own paper money; which would pay troops, and for provisions, transports, carriages, clothing, arms, &c. So this 7th article was at length agreed to without further objection.
The 8th the gentlemen were confident would never be granted. For the whole world would be of opinion that the King, who is to defend all parts of his dominions, should have of course a right to place his troops where they might best answer that
Vol. I. 2 G
purpose. I supported the article upon principles equally important in my opinion to Britain as to the colonies: For that if the King could bring into one part of his dominions, troops raised in any other part of them, without the consent of the legislatures of the part to which they were brought, he might bring armies raised in America into England without consent of parliament, which probably would not like it, as a few years since they had not liked the introduction of the Hessians and Hanoverians, though justified by the supposition of its being a time of danger. That if there should be at any time real occasion for British troops in America, there was no doubt of obtaining the consent of the assemblies there; and I was so far from being willing to drop this article, that I thought I ought to add another, requiring all the present troops to be withdrawn, before America could be expected to treat or agree upon any terms of accommodation; as what they should now do of that kind might be deemed the effect of compulsion, the appearance of which ought as much as possible to be avoided, since those reasonable things might be agreed to, where the parties seemed at least to act freely, which would be strongly refused under threats or the semblance of force. That the withdrawing the troops was therefore necessary to make any treaty durably binding on the part of the Americans, since proof of having acted under force, would invalidate any agreement. And it could be no wonder that we should insist on the crown's having no right to bring a standing army among us in time of peace; when we saw now before our eyes a striking instance of the ill use to be made of it, viz. to distress the King's subjects in different parts of his dominions, one part after the other, into a submission to arbitrary power, which was the avowed design of the army and fleet now placed at Boston. Finding me obstinate, the gentlemen consented to let this stand, but did not seem quite to approve of it. They wished, they said, to have this a paper or plan that they might show as containing the sentiments of considerate impartial persons, and such as they might as Englishmen support, which they thought could not well be the case with this article.
The 9th article was so drawn, in compliance with an idea of Dr. Fothergill's, started at our first meeting, viz. that government here would probably not e satisfied with the promise of voluntary grants in time of war from the assemblies, of which the quantity must be uncertain; that therefore it would be best to proportion them in some way to the shillings in the pound raised in England; but how such proportion could be ascertained he was at a loss to contrive ; I was desired to consider it. It had been said, too, that parliament was become jealous of the right claimed and heretofore used by the crown, of raising money in the colonies without parliamentary consent; and therefore, since we would not pay parliamentary taxes, future requisitions must be made with consent of parliament, and not otherwise. I wondered that the crown should be willing to give up that separate right, but had no objection to its limiting itself, if it thought proper: so I drew the article accordingly, and contrived to proportion the aid by the tax of the last year of peace. And since it was thought that the method I should have liked best, would never be agreed to, viz. a continental congress to be called by the crown, for answering requisitions and proportioning aids; I chose to leave room for voluntary additions by the separate assemblies, that the crown might have some motive for calling them together and cultivating their good will, and they have some satisfaction in showing their loyalty and their zeal in the common cause, and an opportunity of manifesting their disapprobation of a war, if they did not think it a just one. This article therefore met with no objection from them; and I had another reason for liking it, viz. that the view of the proportion to be given in time of war, might make us the more frugal in time of peace.
For the I Oth article, I urged the injustice of seizing that fortress, (which had been built at an immense charge by the province, for the defence of their port against national enemies) and turning it into a citadel for awing the town, restraining their trade, blocking up their port, and depriving them of their privileges. That a great deal had been said of their injustice in destroying the tea; but here was a much greater injustice uncompensated, that castle having cost the province 300,000l. And that such a use made of a fortress they had built, would not only effectually discourage every colony from ever building another, and thereby leave them more exposed to foreign enemies, but was a good reason for their insisting that the crown should never erect any hereafter in their limits without the consent of the legislature. The gentlemen had not much to say against this article; but thought it would hardly be admitted.
The 11th article it was thought would be strongly objected to; that it would be urged the old colonists could have nothing to do with the affairs of Canada, whatever we had with those of the Massachusetts; that it would be considered as an officious meddling merely to disturb government; and that some even of the Massachusetts acts were thought by administration to be improvements of that government, viz. those altering the appointment of counsellors, the choice of jurymen, and the forbidding of town meetings. I replied, that we having assisted in the conquest of Canada, at a great expense of blood and treasure, had some right to be considered in the settlement of it. That the establishing an arbitrary government civ the baek of our settlements might be dangerous to us all; and that loving liberty ourselves, we wished it to be extended among mankind, and to have no foundation for future slavery laid in America. That as to amending the Massachusetts government, though it might be shown that every one of these pretended amendments were real mischiefs, yet that charters being compacts between two parties, the King and the people, no alteration could be made in them, even for the better, but by the consent of both parties. That the parliament's claim and exercise of a power to alter our charters, which had always been deemed inviolable but for forfeiture, and to alter laws made in pursuance of these charters which had received the royal approbation, and thenceforth deemed fixed and unchangeable, but by the powers that made them, had rendered all our constitutions uncertain, and set us quite afloat. That as by claiming a right to tax us ad libitum, they deprived us of all property; so by this claim of altering our laws and charters at will, they deprived us of all privilege and right whatever, but what we should hold at their pleasure. That this was a situation we could not be in, and must risk life and every thing rather than submit to it. So this article remained.
The 12th article I explained, by acquainting the gentlemen with the former situation of the judges in most colonies, viz. that they were appointed by the crown, and paid by the assemblies. That the appointment being during the pleasure of the crown, the salary had been during the pleasure of the assembly. That when it has been urged against the assemblies, that their making judges dependent on them for their salaries, was aiming at an undue influence over the courts of justice; the assemblies usually replied, that making them dependent on the crown for continuance in their places, was also retaining an undue influence over those courts; and that one undue influence was a proper balance for the other; but that whenever the crown would consent to acts making the judges during good behaviour, the assemblies would at the same time grant their salaries to be permanent during their continuance in office. This the crown has however constantly refused. And this equitable offer is now again here proposed; the colonies not being able to conceive why their judges should not be rendered as independent as those in England. That, on the contrary, the crown now claimed to make the judges in the colonies dependent on its favor for both place and salary, both to be continued at its pleasure. This the colonies must oppose as inequitable, as putting both the weights into one of the scales of justice. If therefore the crown does not chuse to commission the judges during good behaviour, with equally permanent salaries, the alternative proposed