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Liberty, the noble privilege of all honest men, can never be consistently maintained, without allowing qo thers as much as we take to ourselves, while they do not hold practical principles, destructive of the rights of all other people. It has been too often the dispo. sition of religious facieties, to blend the ideas of civil and religious things, and to make a certain form of religion, a fine qua non, of men's right to enjoy the li. berty of free citizens. This at once makes the king, dom of our Lord, a kingdom of this world, and renders every form of godliness a tool of private interest, selfishness, and pride. How far the colonists have re, formed their practices in this point, will appear in the sequel of this history; where they shall be ser in that light they deserve, as far as their actions point them out. Free from partiality to friends or foes, we shall endeavour to steer our course, and keep truth in view, as the unerring compass of all true and impartial history. But we shall now return to the more immediate causes of the present war, and the chief object of this history.
The satisfaction which the repeal of the stamp-act gave the colonists, did not remove their apprehensions concerning the designs of the ministry to oppress them; and the future proceedings of the English parliament, in giving sanction to the requisitions of the executive power, did fully confirm their apprehenfions. The laws that were passed this year, for the purpose of raising a revenue in the colonies, by the Jaying of duties on the importation of glass and paper, and other commodities from Britain, and the consequent establishment of custom-houses in their ports, alarmed them greatly. These caused dread. fal convulsions in the colonies, and produced consea quences highly prejudicial to the commercial interests
of the mother country. It will at least appear unfortunate, if not altogether impolitic, after the recent examples of the mischief that attended the stamp-act, and the consequent repeal thereof, from a conviction of those evils, a measure of a like tendency should have been lo ipeedily adopted, before the chagrin on account of the former irritation was worn off the minds of the colonists. Much the same arguments have been used in the defence of those measures that were made in support of the stamp-act, which thall te taken notice of, after we have considered the opposition that was made to the new statutes of this year.
The first visible instance of opposition shewn to these statutes, happened at Boston, October 27th, 1767, where the inhabitants, at a general meeting, formed, and agreed to several resolutions, for the encouragement of manufactures, promoting frugality, and economy, and for lessening and restraining of all superfluities. These resolutions, which were all of them in the first instance prejudicial to the commerce of Britain, contained an enumeration of articles, which it was determined not to use at all, or in as low a degree as possible. At the same time, a subscription was opened, and a committee appointed for the encouragement of their own former manufactures, and the establishment of new ones. Among these, it was agreed to give particular encouragement to the making of paper and glass, and the other commodities that were liable to the payment of new duties upon importation. It was also resolved to restrain the expences of funerals, and to reduce dress to a degree of primitive simplicity and plainness, and in general, not to purchase from the mother country any thing that could be procured in the colonies. These resolutions were adopted, or similar ones a.
greed upon by all the old colonies on the continent. The government of Britain might have by this time perceived that a people of fuch a Spartan taste were not to be easily frightened into compliance with suspicious, or arbitrary acts of a legislature, where they had none to represent them. A people that have as much public virtue as to become anfashionable, for the sake of preserving the rights of the community, and can restrain their passions and appetites for the sake of their country, are not easily to be driven to a compliance with acts they conceive to be unreasonable. - Whatever may be the errors or mistakes in the conduct of the colonists, and however far they may have acted wrong in some particulars, yet they have shewn a steadiness of principle and practice, that has at least the appearance of virtue, and which their enemies must admire, though their pride will not suffer them to acknowledge it. : What had lately irritated both parties in this disa pute, was the proceedings of the assembly at NewYork, and the act of the British parliament, made in. consequence theseof. It had been appointed by parliament in the last feffion, that the people of NewYork should provide for the King's troops, according to a method expressed in the act; whịch the assembly, instead of observing, pursued a measure of their own, without paying any regard to the prescription of para liament. Whether they shewed this opposition out of mere wilfulness, or claimed it as 'a principal of right, to observe their own way in providing for the troops, I will not affirm; but this was so offensive to * the legislature of Britain, that they passed an act, June 15th, whereby the governor, council, and allembly of New-York, are prohibited from passing any act of assembly whatsoever, till they had complied with the
terms of the act of parliament in every particular. This was designed as a lesson to the other colonies, to teach them more reverence to acts of the British legillarure; but it did not produce the intended effect; for the colonists who had begun to question the right of the parliament to make laws for them, were not disposed to obey a statute that was specially defigned to point out that they were in a state of varfalage. By such opposition of condu&, the leading actors on both sides grew more and more warm in their difpofition, and scarcely could restrain themselves within the bounds of decency and temper. The speeches of each party were often uncharitable, and recriminating, and expressed more the spirit of party, than liberality of sentiment, becoming contenders for liberty and the rights of mankind.
We are now approaching to the beginning of an year that is crowded with incidents, and teems with transactions of the greatest importance. The fpirits of the colonies were now agitated to a degree of en. thusiasm for their liberties, and they considered every new a&t of parliament as a fresh attack upon their freedom, and an insult to their understanding. Upon the eleventh of February, 1768, the assembly of Massachusetts bay feat a circular letter, signed by their speaker to all the other colonies in North America". The defign of this letter, was to shew the dangerous ten. dency of the late acts of parliament, to represent
them *CIRCU L A R L E T T E R. Gentlemen, Boston, Sept. 14. posed upon the people, without Your are already too well ac- Their confent: taxes designet for quainted with the melancholy and the support of the civil government very alarmning circumítances to in the colonies, in a manner clear, which this province, as well as - ly unconstitutional, and contrary to merica in general, is now reduced. that in which, till of late, governTaxes, equally detrimental to the ment has been supported, by the commercial interests of the parent free gift of the people in the Amecountry and her colonies, are imi rican assemblies or parliaments; as
them as unconstitutional, and to propose a cothinon da nion among the colonies in the pursuit of all legal mea. sures to prevent their effect, on an harmony in their applications to government, to obtain a repeal of them. It also largely sets forth their constitutional rights as English subjects; all of which they affirm were infringed by these new laws.
At this period, and for some years before, the af. fembly of Massachuletts-bay and their governor had almost differed in their opinion upon every subject,
also for the maintenance of a large American department, in one of
This diffolution you are fenfible they have pailed the several votes, has taken place; the governor has which we transmit to you, retiring publicly and repeatedly declared that they may be immediately laid that he cannot call another aftens before the town whose prudentials bly; and the secretary of Aate for:he are in your care, at a legal meet: