« ZurückWeiter »
the court of admiralty, for the sum of nine thousand pound sterling, and he was constrained to find bail in the sum of three thousand. A similar process was served upon several other gentlemen, who were supposed to have been concerned in the sloop Liberty, which had been seized, as before noticed. But all these suits failed for the want of proof, and the sloop was restored, on the 26th of March, 1769.
In 1768, the non-importation associations became general throughout the colonies, under the motto of “ United we conquer, divided we die.”
The next step taken by the colonies was, to re-ship goods to Britain, instead of storing, as had been practised; this had a powerful effect upon the merchants of England, and through them, opened the eyes of the nation to the dreadful consequences which were likely to follow, and the judgments the ministry were about to bring upon the nation. The manufacturers felt their interest wounded, and took the alarm, and the ministry began to feel that they had kindled a fire in America, that had traversed the ocean, and now burst forth into a blaze amidst their own dwellings. That spirit, that indicted the spirited address of approbation and support to his majesty, began to abate, and soon softened down into a spirit of moderation. Thus cooled, the ministry began to see the evils that awaited them, and wisely turned their attention to peace. .. .
The colonies of Maryland and South Carolina, followed the example of Virginia, in their spirited resolves, and the inhabitants of Charlestown interdicted all commercial in. tercourse with Rhode Island and Georgia, which brought them to terms; they awoke from their lethargy, and joined the confederacy. The non-importation agreement was now in force from Georgia to Maine, except at Portsmouth, this town never joined the confederacy; such was the influence of the governor over a people, who were at that
day more generally uninformed, or illiterate, than the other colonies. - In Massachusetts, the fire raged with increased violence; here were the foreign troops, and here was the focus of the revolution. . '
The assembly, at their May session, remonstrated to the governor against the military force in Boston ; but more particularly against their being compelled to hold their sittings under the mouths of their canyon,* as being incompatible with the honor and dignity of freemen ; and demanded of his excellency, that the forces of his majesty, by sea and land, be removed from the port and town of Boston, during the session of this assembly. To which the governor replied—“Gentlemen, I have no authority over his majesty's ships in this port, or his troops within this town." The house then considered this reply of the governor as expressing a declaration, that they were legislating at the point of the bayonet, and at the mercy of a foreign despot, which opened their eyes to their true situation, and they immediately passed the resolve, “that they could proceed no further with business while surrounded with an armed force," and the governor adjourned them to hold their sittings the next day at Cambridge. Here the governor, by his message, requested the assernbly to make provision for the expenses that had already arisen, or should hereafter arise, for the quartering the forces in Boston, and at Castle-Island, according to act of parliament. This was bringing the subject to the test, and the house met it firmly, with the following resolves :
: 1. “ That the convention, by committees which they had been constrained to assemble, was highly necessary
* A park of artillery was planted in front of the state-house, with muzzles pointed directly towards that seat of justice and of the laws.
and proper, that they might jointly petition for the royal interposition in favour of their violated rights.
2. “ That the establishing a standing army in this colony, in time of peace, is an invasion of natural rights."
3. “ That a standing army is not known as a part of the British constitution.”
4. “ That the sending an armed force into this colony, under pretence of assisting the civil authority, is highly dangerous to the people, unprecedented, and unconstitutional.”
5. Was the same as we have before noticed under Vir. ginia resolves.
The governour met these resolves, by the following demand—“ Will the house make provision for the troops ?" To which the house replied by message in the negative: and the governor prorogued them to the 10th of January, to meet at Boston.
New-York, and the colonies of the south, entered with spirit into the measures of the day, and concurred in their resolves with Virginia.
The house of Burgesses next ordered the following ad. dress to be presented to his majesty :
6 When we consider, that by the established laws, and constiution of this colony, the most ample provision is made for apprehending, and punishing all those who dare to engage in any treasonable practices against your majesty, or disturb the tranquillity of government; we cannot, without horror, think of the unusual, and permit us with all humility to add, unconstitutional, and illegal mode; recommended to your majesty, of transporting beyond sea, the inhabitants of America suspected of any crime, and of trying such persons in any other manner, than by the ancient, and long established course of proceedings ; for how truly deplorable must be the case of a wretched American, who having incurred the displeasure of any one in power, is dragged from his native home, and his dearest domestic connections, and thrown into a prison, not to wait his trial before a court, jury, or judges, from a knowledge of whom he is encouraged to hope for speedy justice; but to exchange his imprisonment in his own country, for fetters among strangers ? Conveyed to a distant land, where no friend, no relation will alleviate his distresses, or minister to his necessities ; and where no witness can be found to testify to his innocence ; shunned by the reputable and honest, and consigned to the society and converse of the wretched and abandoned, he can only pray that he may soon end his misery : with his life.”
. This address, as was designed, had more serious effects upon the feelings of the colonists, than upon those of the king, or the Parliament, and opened their eyes to a true sense of their situation, and danger. .
An attempt was made at this time, in the House of Commons, to repeal the obnoxious duties ; but without effect; the pride and obstinacy of the ministry, were yet unmoved by the clamour of their own citizens, or the remonstrances of the colonies; and Lord North thus expressed the sense of Parliament. “ However prudence, or policy may hereafter induce us to repeal the late paper, and glass act, I hope we shall never think of it, until we see America prostrate at our feet.” .
When this session of Parliament was closed, Lord Hills. borough attempted to sooth the irritability of the colonies. and soften down their feelings, as well as their measures, by the following circular letter, which he addressed to the governors of the several colonies, May 13th, 1769.
5It is the intention of his majesty's ministers, to move in the next Parliament, that the duties on glass, paper, and colours, be taken off, as having been laid contrary to the true principles of commerce ;" with assurances at the same time, “ that a design to propose to Parliament to lay any further taxes on America, for the purpose of raising a revenue, has at no time been entertained.” Lord Botetourt, Governor of Virginia, endeavoured to force this impression upon the minds of the assembly of Virgin. ia, by a speech upon the occasion, in which he pledged himself to use the utmost of his ifluence to effect it. The house of Burgesses in their reply, very politely expressed their confidence in his lordship's views, and went so far as to say—“ We esteem your lordship's information, not only as warranted; but even sanctified by the royal word.” Nevertheless the duty of three pence per pound remaining upon tea, shewed to the colonies that enough of taxes was retained to establish the principle in the Declaratory Act--that Great Britain claims the right of binding the colonies in all things whatsoe ver.” And this to them, amounted to the same, as if the whole taxes should remain, because the principle was the same, and this was the real point in question. :
The assembly of Pennsylvania had not given their testimony against the resolves of Parliament ; but a committee of Philadelphia merchants had fully expressed their sentiments to the committee in London, upon the contents of the circular letter of Lord Hillsborough, in which, after noticing in a lengthy detail, the controversy in question, they summarily declare" For this reason we think ourselves obliged to inform you, that though the mer. chants have confined their agreements to the repeal of the act laying a duty on glass, paper, tea, &c. yet nothing