Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

of that rancorous, malignant, corroding, festering nature, that in all probability it will mortify the whole body. Let us then, my Lords, set to this business in earnest; not take it up by bits and scraps, as formerly, just as exigencies pressed, without any regard to the general relations, connections and dependencies. I would not by any thing I have said, my Lords, be thought to encourage America to proceed beyond the right line. I reprobate all acts of violence by her mobility; but when her inherent constitutional rights are invaded, those rights that she has an equitable claim to the enjoyment of, by the fundamental laws of the English constitution, and engrafted thereon, by the unalterable laws of nature, then I own myself an American, and feeling myself such, shall to the verge of my life, vindicate those rights against all men, who strive to trample on, or oppose them."

I have inserted this defence of the American cause at full length, as one of the greatest displays of wisdom, truth, and justice, dressed in the most masterly stile of eloquence that ever flowed from the tongue of an orator, either in ancient or modern days; as well as to shew that the hearts of ministers were steeled against conviction; that their passions had surmounted their understandings, and that God had given them up to the grossest delusion.

This motion was also supported by Lord Camden, Lord Shelburn, and the Marquis of Rockingham. And opposed by Lords Littleton, Suffolk, Gower, Townsend, Rochford, and Weymouth; the question was carried against the motion, 77 to 13—and the fate of America was sealed. The commercial and manufacturing interests of Gr< •ritain, now became alarmed for their own interests, as

II as the safety of the nation; and all the great commer

.1 and manufacturing cities, made one joint effort by their etitions, to stay the proceedings of ministers, and if pa*

1£'L. IH. I*

[graphic]

sible save the nation from ruin; but all in vain; these petitions were heard and consigned over to the committee of •iblivion, (as it was then termed.) The city of London, with great zeal renewed her petition, but it was indignantly rejected. .' .. .: *,,'

The petition of the continental Congress, (which was noticed in its place,) was next presented by Mr. Bollan, Dr. Franklin, and Mr. Lee, which had been presented to the king, and by him referred to that house. This threw the house into a high fever; they denred the legality of that body, (Congress,) treated their petition with indignity, and rejected it without discussion, by a majority of 218 to 68.

Thus we have seen displayed that sovereign power with which ministers controul the supreme councils of the nation, and a display of that mad and obstinate policy with which they have resisted all light, truth and justice.

Lord Dartmouth at this time wrote circular letters to all his majesty's governors in the colonies, with instructions to use all possible endeavours to prevent their holding any more congresses, to seek redress for their pretended grievances.

Lord Chatham, true to himself and to his country, called again at the gate of justice, and presented the House ot Lords the outlines of the following bill, entitled "A provincial act for settling the troubles in America, and for asserting the supreme legislative authority, and superintending power of Great-Britain over her colonies." But the^ bill of this noble lord was rejected without a discussion, and he found, to his inexpressible grief and mortification, that (he gate of justice was closed forever upon the rights of America, and that even justice herself had become stout blind, and fled the realm.

The limits of this work will not permit me to pursue that flood of petitions, that continued to pour in upon the -'nistry, from all parts of the British dominions, even th< West-Indies ; nor the violence and bitterness of the debate^ they occasioned; but the declaration of Lord North, disclosing the plan of measures about to he pursued by ministers, deserves some notice. His lordship openly declared that it was now concluded "to send a greater force to America, and put a stop to all the foreign trade of the colonies of New-England, particularly their Newfoundland fisheries, till they returned to their duty." This declaration called forth a torrent of debate as Well as of abuse, and the whole powere of language were put in requisition to manage the contest. By the ministerial party, every possible abuse was heaped upon the American character, they were denounced as a lazy, filthy, cowardly, factious crew; and a General Grant declared publicly, that with rive regiments he could march >through the country.

[graphic]
[graphic]

By the opposition, the American character was generously vindicated, and the dangers as well as the horrors that awaited the issue of present measures, were clearly unfolded. In illustrating this remark, a noble lord called up the attention of ministers to the more serious consequences that would result from present measures, by the advantages their ancient a ndnatural enemy* would be able to derive from a war between England and her colonies; a war that would give full scope to the gratification of all those passions of jealousy and revenge she had felt and harboured since the peace of 17G3, and thus concluded—" My -head and my heart join in deprecating the horrors of a civil war, which will be rendered still more dreadful, by its nvolving in it certain consequences, a foreign one, with the combined forces of great and powerful nations."

On the 7th of February an address to his majesty was presented, thanking him for the communication received in the American papers, in which the rebellion of the colonies was fully disclosed, and promising his majesty the joint support of both houses of Parliament, at the

'Tho French

hazard of their lives, and properties, to suppress all such rebellion. To which his majesty returned a gracious answer, assuring both houses "that they might rely upon his taking the most speedy and effectual measures to enforce a due obedience to the laws, and the authority of the supreme legislature."

The next day the minister moved for leave to bring in a bill for restraining the trade, &c. as has been disclosed. This bill again called up the attention of the London merchants, and their testimony was introduced, to shew the good that resulted to England from the fishing trade of New-England; by which it appeared that she, (New-England,) in the year 1764, employed 45,880 tons of shipping, and 6002 seamen; and that the amount of her sales in foreign markets for that year were 322,220/. 16s. sterling, and that the fisheries were then greatly increased, and also that a suppression of this trade would wound the commerce of Britain, and involve thousands of innocent citizens in ruin. The question prevailed, 3 to 1.

On the 27th of February, Mr. Quincey sailed for America, and left the ministry to pursue their mad system of measures, and wallow in their own filth and corruption.

. CHAPTER VI. .

i i' .•

CAUSES THAT LED TO THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION, CONTINUED. WAR COMMENCED.

Those scenes which have been disclosed in the corrupt councils of Britain, were not acted in a corner; but they flew like lightning to the shores of America, and warned Vhem of their danger, and hastened their efforts to meet their fate.

The royal proclamation, interdicting the exportation of military stores; his majesty's speech, and the answer of Parliament, all served to shew to the colonies that their doom was sealed, and that to retain their liberty they mus1 wade in blood.

A new colonial congress was chosen for Massachusetts, and convened at Cambridge on the 1st of February, wheii John Hancock, Esq. was chosen president. At the end of two weeks they adjourned to Concord as a place of greater safety, and where they might continue their sittings without interruption. The duties of this congress were now become pressing, in arranging the affairs of the colony to meet the approaching crisis, and to prepare for that explosion which was now generally expected to commence with the opening of the spring.

The proceedings of the colony of New-York, in their General Assembly, in refusing to send delegates to the General Congress, gave great offence to the congress of Massachusetts; and in their sending a petition to the king, and a memorial to the House of Lords, together with a remonstrance to the House of Commons, all in their own name; in all which they stated the grievances they had endured since the old war; declared their acknowledgment of the supreme government of the British Parliament over (he whole empire, and their authority to regulate the trade

[graphic]
« ZurückWeiter »