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Q. In what proportion hath population increased in America i
A. I think the inhabitants of all the provinces together, taken at a medium, double in about twenty-five years. But their demand for British manufactures increases much faster; as the consumption is not merely in proportion to their numbers, but grows with the growing abilities of the same numbers to pay for them. In 1723, the whole importation from Britain to Pennsylvania, was but about 15,000l. sterling; it is now near half a million.
Q. In what light did the people of America use to consider the Parliament of Great Britain?
A. They considered the Parliament as the great bulwark and security of their liberties and privileges, and always spoke of it with the utmost respect and veneration. Arbitrary ministers, they thought, might possibly, at times, attempt to oppress them; but they relied on it, that the Parliament, on application, would always give redress. They remembered, with gratitude, a strong instance of this; when a bill was brought into Parliament, with a clause, to make royal instruction laws in the colonies, which the House of Commons would not pass, and it was thrown out.
Q. And have they not still the same respect for Parliament?
A. No; it is greatly lessened.
Q. To what causes is that owing?
A. To a concurrence of causes; the restraints lately laid on their trade, by which the bringing of foreign gold and silver into the colonies was prevented; the prohibition of making papermoney among themselves,1 and then demanding a new and heavy tax by stamps; taking away, at the same time, trials by juries, and refusing to receive and hear their humble petitions.
Q. Don't you think they would submit to the Stamp-act, if it was modified, the obnoxious parts taken out, and the duty reduced to some particulars of small moment?
A. No; they will never submit to it.
Q. What do you think is the reason that the people in America increase faster than in England?
A. Because they marry younger, and more generally.
Q. Why so?
A. Because any young couple that are industrious, may easily obtain land of their own, on which they can raise a family'
Q. Are not the lower rank of people more at their ease in America than in England?
A. They may be so, if they are sober and diligent; as they are better paid for their labor.
Q. What is your opinion of a future tax, imposed on the same principle with that of the Stamp-act; how would the Americans receive it?
A. Just as they do this. They would not pay it.
1. [Some of the colonies had been reduced to the necessity of bartering, from the want of a medium of traffic]
2. [See Dr. Franklin's " Thoughts on the Peopling of Countries,"]
Q. Have not you heard of the resolutions of this House, and of the House of Lords, asserting the right of Parliament relating to America, including a power to tax the people there?
A. Yes, I have heard of such resolutions.
Q. What will be the opinion of the Americans on those resolutions?
A. They will think them unconstitutional and unjust.
Q. Was it an opinion in America before 1763, that the Parliament had no right to lay taxes and duties there?
A. I never heard any objection to the right of laying duties to regulate commerce; but a right to lay internal taxes was never supposed to be in Parliament, as we are not represented there.
Q. On what do you found your opinion, that the people in America made any such distinction?
A. I know that whenever the subject has occurred in conversation where I have been present, it has appeared to be the opinion of every one, that we could not be taxed in a parliament where we were not represented. But the payment of duties laid by act of parliament as regulations of commerce, was never disputed.
Q. But can you name any act of assembly, or public act of any of your governments, that made such distinction?
A. I do not know that there was any; I think there was never an occasion to make any such act, till now that you have attempted to tax us; that has occasioned resolutions of assembly, declaring the distinction; in which I think every assembly on the continent, and every member in every assembly, have been unanimous.
Q. What then could occasion conversations on that subject before that time?
A. There was in 1754 a proposition made (I think it came from hence) that in case of a war, which was then apprehended, the governors of the colonies should meet, and order the levying of troops, building of forts, and taking every other necessary measure for the general defence; and should draw on the treasury here for the sums expended; which were afterwards to be raised in the colonies by a general tax, to be laid on them by act of parliament. This occasioned a good deal of conversation on the subject; and the general opinion was, that the parliament neither would nor could lay any tax on us, till we were duly represented in parliament; because it was not just, nor agreeable to the nature of an English constitution.
Q. Do not you know there was a time in New York, when it was under consideration to make an application to Parliament to lay taxes on that colony, upon a deficiency arising from the assembly's refusing or neglecting to raise the necessary supplies for the support of the civil government?
A. I never heard of it.
Q. There was such an application under consideration in New YorkP- and do you apprehend they could suppose the right of Parliament to lay a tax in America was only local, and confined to the case of a deficiency in a particular colony, by a refusal of its assembly to raise the necessary supplies?
A. They could not suppose such a case, as that the assembly would not raise the necessary supplies to support it sown government. An assembly that would refuse it, must want common sense; which cannot be supposed.—I think there was never any such case at New York, and that it must be a misrepresentation, or the fact must be misunderstood. I know there have been some attempts, by ministerial instructions to oblige the assemblies to settle permanent salaries on governors, which they wisely refused to do; but I believe no assembly of New York, or any other colony, ever refused duly to support government by proper allowances, from time to time, to public officers.
Q. But in case a governor, acting by instruction, should call on an assembly to raise the necessary supplies, and the assembly should refuse to do it; do you not think it would then be for the good of the people of that colony, as well as necessary to government, that the Parliament should tax them?
A. I do not think it would be necessary. If an assembly could possibly be so absurd as to refuse raising the supplies requisite for the maintenance of government among them, they could not long remain in such a situation; the disorders and confusion occasioned by it must soon bring them to reason. ,
Q. If it should not, ought not the right to be in Great Britain of applying a remedy?
A. A right, only to be used in such a case, I should have no objection to; supposing it to be used merely for the good of the people of the colony.
Q. But who is to judge of that, Britain or the colony?
A. Those that feel can best judge.
Q. You say the colonies have always submitted to external taxes, and object to the right of Parliament only in laying internal taxes; now can you show that there is any kind of difference between the two taxes to the colony on which they may be laid?
A. I think the difference is very great. An external tax is a duty laid on commodities imported; that duty is added to the first cost and other charges on the commodity, and when it is offered to sale, makes a part of the price. If the people do not like it at that pi ice, they refuse it -y they are not obliged to pay it. But an internal tax is forced from the people without their consent, if not laid by their own representatives. The Stamp-act says, we shall have no commerce, make no exchange of property with each other, neither purchase nor grant, nor recover debts; we shall neither marry nor make our wills, unless we pay such and such sums; and thus it is intended to extort our money from us, or ruin us by the consequences of refusing to pay it.
Q. But supposing the internal tax or duty to be laid on the necessaries of life imported into your colony, will not that be the same thing in its effects as an internal tax?
A. I do not know a single article imported into the northern colonies, but what they can either do without, or make themselves.
Q Do not you think cloth from England absolutely necessary to them?
A. No, by no means absolutely necessary; with industry and good management, they may very well supply themselves with all they want..
Q. Will it not take a long time to establish that manufacture among them; and must they not in the mean while suffer greatly?
A. I think not. They have made a surprising progress already. And I am of opinion, that before their old clothes are worn out, they will have new ones of their own making.
■Q. Can they possibly find wool enough in North America?
A. They have taken steps to increase the wool. They entered into general combinations to eat no lamb; and very few lambs were killed last year. This course persisted in, will soon make a prodigious difference in the quantity of wool. And the establishing of great manufactories, like those in the clothing towns here, is not necessary, as it is where the business is to be carried on for the purposes of trade. The people will all spin, and work for themselves, in their own houses.
Q. Can there be wool and manufacture enough in one or two years?
A. In three years, I think, there may.
Q. Does not the severity of the winter, in the northern colonies, occasion the wool to be of bad quality?
A. No; the wool is very fine and good.
Q. In the more southern colonies, as in Virginia, do not you know the wool is coarse, and only a kind of hair?
A. I do not know it. I never heard it. Yet I have been sometimes in Virginia. I cannot say I ever took particular notice of the wool there, but I believe it is good, though I cannot speak positively of it; but Virginia, and the colonies south of it, have less occasion for wool; their winters are short, and not very severe; and they can very well clothe themselves with linen and cotton of their own raising for the rest of the year.
Q. Are not the people in the more northern colonies obliged to fodder their sheep all the winter?
A. In some of the most northern colonies they may be obliged to do it, some part of the winter.
Ct. Considering the resolutions of Parliament *, as to the right; do you think, if the Stampact is repealed, that the North Americans will be satisfied?
A. I believe they will.
Q. Why do you think so?
A. I think the resolutions of right will give them very little concern, if they are never attempted to be carried into practice. The colonies will probably consider themselves 'in the same situation, in that respect, with Ireland; they know you claim the same right with regard to Ireland, but you never exercise it. And they may believe you never will exercise it in the colonies, any more than in Ireland; unless on some very extraordinary occasion.
Q. But who are to be the judges of that extraordinary occasion?
1 Afterwards expressed in the Declaratory Act.
A. Though the Parliament may judge of the occasion; the people will think it can never exercise such right, till representatives from the colonies are admitted into parliament; and that whenever the occasion arises, representatives will be ordered.
Q. Did you never hear that Maryland, during the last war, had refused to furnish a quota towards the common defence?
A. Mary land has been much misrepresented in that matter. Maryland, to my knowledge, never refused to contribute, or grant aids to the crown. The assemblies every year, during the war, voted considerable sums, and formed bills to raise them. The bills were, according to the constitution of that province, sent up to the council, or upper house, for concurrence; that they might be presented to the governor, in order to be enacted into laws. Unhappy disputes between the two houses, arising from the defects of that constitution principally, rendered all the bills but one or two abortive. The proprietary's council rejected them. It is true, Maryland did not contribute its proportion; but it was, in my opinion, the fault of the government, not of the people.
Q. Was it not talked of in the other provinces as a proper measure to apply to Parliament to compel them?
A. I have heard such discourse; but as it was well known, that the people were not to blame, no such application was ever made, nor any step taken towards it.
Q. Was it not proposed at a public meeting?
A. Not that I know of.
Q. Do you remember the abolishing of the paper currency in New England, by act of assembly?
A. I do remember its being abolished, in the Massachusetts Bay. ,
Q. Was not Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson principally concerned in that transaction?
A. I have heard so.
Q. Was it not at that time a very unpopular law?
A. I believe it might, though I can say little about it, as I lived at a distance from that province.
Q. Was not the scarcity of gold and silver an argument used against abolishing the paper?
A. I suppose it was.1
Q. What is the present opinion there of that law? Is it as unpopular as it was at first?
A. I think it is not.
Q. Have not instructions from hence been sometimes sent over to governors, highly oppressive and unpolitical?
Q. Have not some governors dispensed with them for that reason ?,
A. Yes; I have heard so.
1 See Dr. Franklin's answer to the report of the board of trade, of Feb. 9, 1764, entitled, "Remarktand Facts relative to American Paper Money."