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A. The common rights of Englishmen, as declared by Magna Charta, and the petition of right; all justify it.
Q. Does the distinction between internal and external taxes exist in the words of the charter? A. No, I believe not.
Q. Then may they not, by the same interpretation, object to the parliament's right of external taxation?
A. They never have hitherto. Many arguments have been lately used here to shew them that there is no difference, and that if you have no right to tax them internally, you have none to tax them externally, or make any other law to bind them. At present they do not reason so; but in time they may possibly be convinced by these arguments.
Q. Do not the resolutions of the Pennsylvania assembly say—all taxes? A. If they do, they mean only internal taxes; the same words have not always the same meaning here and in the colonies. By taxes they mean internal taxes; by duties they mean customs; these are their ideas of the language.
Q. Have you not seen the resolutions of the Massachusetts Bay assembly?
Q. Do they not say, that neither external nor internal taxes can be laid on them by parliament':
A. I don't know that they do; I believe not.
Q. If the same colony should say neither tax nor imposition could be laid, does not that province hold the power of parliament can lay neither?
A. I suppose that by the word imposition they do not intend to express duties to be laid on goods imported, as regulations of commerce.
Q. What can the colonies mean then by imposition as distinct from taxes? A. They may mean many things; as impressing of men, or of carriages, quartering troops on private houses, and the like; there may be great impositions that are not properly taxes. Q. Is not the post-office rate an internal tax laid by act of parliament? A. I have answered that.
Q. Are all parts of the colonies equally able to pay taxes?
A. No, certainly; the frontier parts, which have been ravaged by the enemy, are greatly disabled by that means; and therefore, in such cases, are usually favored in our tax-laws. Q. Can we at this distance be competent judges of what favors are necessary? A. The parliament have supposed it, by claiming a right to make tax-laws for America: I think it impossible.
Q. Would the repeal of the stamp-act be any discouragement of your manufactures? Will the people that have begun to manufacture decline it?
A. Yes, I think they will; especially if, at the same time, the trade is opened again, so that remittances can be easily made. I have known several instances that make it probable. In the war before last, tobacco being low, and making little remittance, the people of Virginia went generally into family-manufactures. Afterwards, when tobacco bore a better price, they returned to the use of British manufactures. So fulling-mills were very much disused in the last war in Pennsylvania, because bills were then plenty, and remittances could easily be made to Britain for English cloth and other goods.
Q. If the stamp-act should be repealed, would it induce the assemblies of America to acknowledge the rights of parliament to tax them, and would they erase their resolutions?
A. No, never.
Q. Is there no means of obliging them to erase those resolutions?
A. None that I know of; they will never do it unless compelled by force of arms.
Q. Is there a power on earth that can force them to erase them?
A. No power, how great soever, can force men to change their opinions.
Q. Do they consider the post-office as a tax, or as a regulation?
A. Not as a tax, but as a regulation and conveniency; every assembly encouraged it, and supported it in its infancy, by grants of money, which they would not otherwise have done; and the people have always paid the postage.
Q. When did you receive the instructions you mentioned?1
A. I brought them with me, when I came to England, about fifteen months since.
Q. When did you communicate that instruction to the minister?
A. Soon after my arrival,—while the stamping of America was under consideration, and before the bill was brought in.
Q. W7ould it be most for the interest of Great Britain, to employ the hands of Virginia in tobacco, or in manufactures?
A. In tobacco, to be sure.
Q. What used to be the pride of the Americans?
A. To indulge in the fashions and manufactures of Great Britain.
Q. What is now their pride?
A. To wear their old clothes over again, till they can make new ones.
Withdrew. [1 See p. 48.]
Account of Governor Hutchinson's Letters, and the Examination of Dr. Franklin before a Committee of the British Privy Council.
[Referred to, page 184 of Memoirs.]
Governor Hutchinson, lieutenant-governor Andrew Oliver, Charles Paxton, Esq., Nathaniel Rogers, Esq., and Mr. G. Roome, having sent from Boston certain representations and informations to Thomas Whately, Esq. member of parliament, private secretary to that Mr. George Grenville, who when in office was the father of the stamp act, and afterwards one of the lords of trade; these letters were placed by some friend to the interests of America, in the hands of Dr. Franklin, who as an agent for the colonies, in discharge of his duty, had them conveyed back to Boston. The assembly of Massachusetts were so much exasperated, that they returned attested copies of the letters to England, accompanied by a petition and remonstrance, for the removal of governor Hutchinson, and lieutenant-governor Andrew Oliver, from their posts. The council of Massachusetts likewise, on their own part, entered into thirteen resolves, in tendency and import similar to the petition of the assembly; five of which resolves were unanimous, and only one of them had so many as three dissentients. In consequence of the assembly's petition, the following proceedings and examination took place.
Dr. Franklin had, from his station of agent for Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, naturally a large share in these transactions; having been also exposed to much indecent persecution, and attacks upon his character, by the ministers and their dependants, he was called upon by the natural constancy and vigor of his mind, to sustain himself and the trusts confided to him; and entered resolutely into those affairs. His examination in 1766, (See Appendix No. 6.) had made an indelible impression on the government, from its force, its truth the; capacity and equanimity of the man, and the jealousy excited by the overwhelming evidence he gave, which proved so clearly the ignorance of ministers, and the impolicy of their measures towards America, caused him thenceforth to be looked upon with an eye of suspicion, if not of hatred. In this temper of the ministers it was that he addressed the following letter, with the memorial, to the secretary of state.
To the Right Hon. the Earl of Dartmouth.
London, Aug. 21, 1773. My Lord,
I have just received from the house of representatives of the Massachusetts Bay, their address to the king, which I now enclose, and send to your lordship, with my humble request in their behalf, that you would be pleased to present it to his majesty the first convenient opportunity.
I have the pleasure of hearing from that province by my late letters, that a sincere disposition prevails in the people there to be on good terms with the mother country; that the assembly have declared their desire only to be put into the situation they were in before the stamp act: They aim at no novelties. And it is said, that having lately discovered, as they think, the authors of their grievances to be some of their own people, their resentment against Britain is thence much abated.
This good disposition of theirs (will your lordship permit me to say) may be cultivated by a favorable answer to this address, which I therefore hope your goodness will endeavor to obtain.
With the greatest respect,
I have the honor to be, my lord, &c.
Agent for the House of Representatives.
TO THE KING'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY.
Most Gracious Sovereign, —
We your majesty's loyal subjects, the representatives of your ancient colony of Massachusetts Bay, in general court legally assembled, by virtue of your majesty's writ under the hand and seal of the governor, beg leave to lay this our humble petition before your majesty.
Nothing but the sense of duty we owe to our sovereign, and the obligation we are under to consult the peace and safety of the province, could induce us to remonstrate to your majesty concerning the mal-conduct of persons, who have heretofore had the confidence and esteem of this people; and whom your majesty has been pleased, from the purest motives of rendering your subjects happy, to advance to the highest places of trust and authority in the province.
Your majesty's humble petitioners, with the deepest concern and anxiety, have seen the discords and animosities which have too long subsisted between your subjects of the parent state and those of the American colonies. And we have trembled with apprehensions that the consequences, naturally arising therefrom, would at length prove fatal to both countries.
Permit us humbly to suggest to your majesty, that your subjects here have been inclined to believe, that the grievances which they have suffered, and still continue to suffer, have been occasioned by your majesty's ministers and principal servants being, unfortunately for us, misinformed in certain facts of very interesting importance to us. It is for this reason that former assemblies have, from time to time, prepared a true state of facts to be laid before your majesty; but their humble remonstrances and petitions, it is presumed, have by some means been prevented from reaching your royal hand.
Your majesty's petitioners have very lately had before them certain papers, from which they humbly conceive, it is most reasonable to suppose, that there has been long a conspiracy of evil men in this province, who have contemplated measures, and formed a plan to advance themselves to power, and raise their own fortunes, by means destructive of the charter of the province, at the expence of the quiet of the nation, and to the annihilating of the rights and liberties of the American colonies.
And we do, with all due submission to your majesty, beg leave particularly to complain of the conduct of his excellency Thomas Hutchinson, Esq. governor, and the honorable Andrew Oliver, Esq. lieutenant-governor of this your majesty's province, as having a natural and efficacious tendency to interrupt and alienate the affections of your majesty, our rightful sovereign, from this your loyal province; to destroy that harmony and good-will between Great Britain and this colony, which every honest subject should strive to establish; to excite the resentment of the British administration against this province; to defeat the endeavors of our agents and friends to serve us by a fair representation of our state of facts ; to prevent our humble and repeated petitions from reaching the ear of your majesty, or having their desired effect. And finally, that the said Thomas Hutchinson and Andrew Oliver have been among the chief instruments in introducing a fleet and army into this province, to establish and perpetuate their plans, whereby they have been not only greatly instrumental in disturbing the peace and harmony of the government, and causing unnatural and hateful discords and animosities between the several parts of your majesty's extensive dominions; but are justly chargeable with all that corruption of morals, and all that confusion, misery, and bloodshed, which have been the natural effects of posting an army in a populous town.
Wherefore we most humbly pray, that your majesty would be pleased to remove from their posts in this government the said Thomas Hutchinson, Esquire, and Andrew Oliver, Esquire; who have, by their above-mentioned conduct, and otherwise, rendered themselves justly obnoxious to your loving subjects, and entirely lost their confidence; and place such good and faithful men in their stead, as your majesty in your wisdom shall think fit. In the name and by order of the house of representatives.
THOMAS CUSIIING, Speaker.