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reign of King Charles II., and consequently be at liberty to go to any foreign market in Europe, etc.
The sixth of George the Second, chapter 13, which imposes duties on foreign rum, sugar, and molasses, imported into the colonies, states the reasons thus:
Whereas, the welfare and prosperity of your Majesty's sugar colonies in America are of the greatest consequence and importance to the trade, navigation, and strength of this kingdom; and whereas, the planters of the said sugar colonies have of late years fallen into such discouragements, that they are unable to improve or carry on the sugar trade upon an equal footing with the foreign sugar colonies, without some advantage and relief given to them from Great Britain: FOR REMEDY WHEREOF, AND FOR THE GOOD AND WELFARE OF YOUR MAJESTY'S SUBJECTS, etc.
It is not necessary to add any argumentative comments to these extracts, in order to prove that the statutes were all intended solely as regulations of commerce. That object is plainly wrought into the very texture of the quoted passages. Throughout the entire web and woof of the policy of these trade laws not a thread of purpose to raise a revenue can be discerned. But all this was radically changed when Parliament passed the first American revenue act—the act in 1764, imposing the port duties—with the significant preamble partly given below:
And whereas, it is just and necessary that A REVENUE BE RAISED IN YOUR MAJESTY'S SAID DOMINIONS IN AMERICA, for defraying the expenses of defending, protecting, and securing the same; we, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, THE COMMONS OF GREAT BRITAIN, in Parliament assembled, being desirous to make some provision, in this present session of Parliament, TOWARD RAISING THE SAID REVENUE IN AMERICA, have resolved to GIVE and GRANT unto your Majesty the several rates and duties hereinafter mentioned, etc,
This act encountered prompt and energetic opposition in the colonies, where it was contested on the ground of right. The House of Burgesses in Virginia sent an address to the House of Lords and a remonstrance to the House of Commons, arguing against British authority to make such a law. Remonstrances were likewise sent from Massachusetts and New York to the Privy Council. Here were the actual beginnings of that mighty controversy which ended in revolution and independence. Early in the spring of 1765 followed the odious Stamp Act, which was too gross and palpable a departure from old courses to deceive the meanest capacity, and which kindled the rising blaze of discontent into a conflagration of resentment. This act opened with the following recital:
Whereas, by an act made in the last session of Parliament, several duties were granted, continued, and appropriated toward defraying the expenses of defending, protecting, and securing the British colonies and plantations in America: and whereas, it is first necessary that provision be made FOR RAISING A FURTHER REVENUE WITHIN YOUR MAJESTY'S DOMINIONS IN AMERICA, toward defraying the said expenses, we, your Majesty's most dutiful and loyal subjects, THE COMMONS OF GREAT BRITAIN, in Parliament assembled, have therefore resolved to GIVE and GRANT unto your Majesty the several rates and duties hereinafter mentioned, etc.
In 1767, notwithstanding it had become necessary to concede to the colonies the repeal of the Stamp Act, after a brief and ineffectual effort to execute its provisions, another tax was imposed in the shape of duties on glass, paper, painters' colors, and tea. The preamble to this third measure was as follows:
Whereas, it is expedient THAT A REVENUE SHOULD BE RAISED IN YOUR MAJESTY'S DOMINIONS IN AMERICA, for making a more certain and adequate provision for defraying the charge of the administration of justice, and the support of civil government in such provinces, where it shall be found necessary; and toward the further defraying the expenses of defending, protecting, and securing the said dominions, THE COMMONS OF GREAT BRITAIN, in Parliament assembled, have therefore resolved to GIVE and GRANT unto your Majesty the several rates and duties hereinafter mentioned, etc.
Here, in these three acts, may be observed an authority expressly claimed and exerted to impose duties on the colonies without their consent; not for the regulation of trade; not for the preservation or promotion of a mutually beneficial intercourse between the several constituent parts of the British empire, theretofore the sole objects of parliamentary limitations of commerce; but for the single purpose of obtaining a revenue from America. This fundamental and signal change in the British policy proved to be the summons to protracted discussion on both sides of the Atlantic-in Parliament, in the colonial assemblies, in the newspapers, in pamphlets, and in the fireside exchange of opinions. The degree of authority which might rightfully be exercised by the mother country over the colonies had never been accurately defined. But the controversy to which these revenue laws gave birth soon greatly enlarged the extent of political information in America, and, while rendering more diffusive among the colonists a knowledge of their rights, inspired a much more accurate mode of thinking, speaking, and writing on the subject. It was in the course of the disputes on the pending questions that the wide difference between duties for regulation and duties for revenue, with the special formulas of words to designate that difference, became indelibly impressed upon the memories of the whole American people. For a number of years there was no lack of printed as well as spoken argument to keep alive the distinction in the popular mind. Among the most influential publications of this kind was the series of letters from the
of John Dickinson, a farmer in Pennsylvania, reprinted in London in 1768, and frequently referred to by historians. Below is a pointed extract from the second of these letters:
The Parliament unquestionably possesses a legal authority to regulate the trade of Great Brtiain and all her colonies. Such an authority is essential to the relation between a mother country and her colonies, and necessary for the common good of all. He who considers these provinces as States distinct from the British empire has very slender notions of justice or their interests. We are but parts of a whole, and therefore there must exist a power somewhere to preside and preserve the connection in due order. This power is lodged in the Parliament, and we are as much dependent on Great Britain as a perfectly free people can be on another.
I have looked over every statute relating to these colonies from their first settlement to this time, and I find every one of them founded on this principle, till the stamp-act administration. All before are calculated to regulate trade, and preserve or promote a mutually beneficial intercourse between the several constituent parts of the empire; and though many of them imposed duties on trade, yet those duties were always imposed with design to restrain the commerce of one part, that was injurious to another, and thus to promote the general welfare. The raising a revenue thereby was never intended. Thus the king, by his judges in his courts of justice, imposes fines, which altogether amount to a very considerable sum, and contribute to the support of government; but this is merely a consequence arising from restrictions that only meant to keep peace and prevent confusion; and surely a man would argue very loosely who should conclude from hence that the king has a right to levy money in general upon his subjects. Never did the British Parliament, till the period above mentioned, think of imposing duties in America, FOR THE PURPOSE OF RAISING A REVENUE.
Among the earliest proceedings of the memorable Congress of Independence, as recorded in its journals, October 14, 1774, is the unanimous declaration and resolve, claiming for the colonies that
They are entitled to a free and exclusive power of legislation in their several provincial legislatures, where their right of representation can alone be preserved, in all cases of taxation and internal polity, subject only to the negative of their sovereign, in such manner as has been heretofore used and accustomed; but, from the necessity of the case, and a regard to the mutual interest of both countries, we cheerfully consent to the operation of such acts of the British Parliament as are bona fide restrained to the regulation of our external commerce, for the purpose of securing the comMERCIAL ADVANTAGES of the whole empire to the mother country, and the commercial benefits of its respective members, excluding every idea of taxation, external or internal, for raising a revenue on the subjects in America without their consent.
At length the stress of circumstances compelled Great Britain herself to formally admit the legitimacy of the position taken by the Continental Congress. The surrender of Burgoyne's entire army to the American forces at Saratoga, in October, 1777, had removed every flattering hope of conquest with which the British cabinet and nation had so long been deluded, and suddenly exhibited in open view the mass of resistance which must yet be encountered. Soon a desire to restore peace on any terms, short of the dismemberment of the empire, found its way into the ranks of the ministry. In 1788, Lord North, aroused to the realities of his situation, and seeking to win the insurgent colonies from independence and from alliance with France, procured the passage of a bill which offered a compromise upon the precise basis for which they had long contended. This measure of conciliation had the sig