Page:American Archives, Series 4, Volume 1.djvu/528

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923
924
CONTINENTAL CONGRESS, OCTOBER 21, 1774.

In the same year, and by a subsequent Act, it was declared, "that his Majesty, in Parliament, of right, had power to bind the people of these Colonies by Statutes in all cases whatsoever."

In the same year another Act was passed for imposing Rates and Duties payable in these Colonies. In this statute, the Commons, avoiding the terms of giving and granting, "humbly besought his Majesty, that it might be enacted," &c. But from a declaration in the preamble that the Rates and Duties were "in lieu of" several others granted by the Statutes first before mentioned, for raising a Revenue, and from some other expressions, it appears that these Duties were intended for that purpose.

In the next year, [1767] an Act was made "to enable his Majesty to put the Customs, and other Duties in America, under the management of Commissioners," &c. And the King, thereupon, erected the present expensive Board of Commissioners, for the express purpose of carrying into execution the several Acts relating to the Revenue and Trade in America.

After the repeal of the Stamp Act, having again resigned ourselves to our ancient unsuspicious affections for the parent state, and anxious to avoid any controversy with her, in hopes of a favourable alteration in sentiments and measures towards us, we did not press our objections against the above mentioned Statutes, made subsequent to that repeal.

Administration, attributing to trifling causes, a conduct that really proceeded from generous motives, were encouraged in the same year [1767] to make a bolder experiment on the patience of America.

By a Statute, commonly called the Glass, Paper, and Tea Act, made fifteen months after the repeal of the Stamp Act, the Commons of Great Britain resumed their former language, and again undertook to "give and grant Rates" and Duties to be paid in these Colonies," for the express purpose of "raising a Revenue to defray the charges of the Administration of Justice; the support of Civil Government; and defending the King's Dominions," on this Continent. The penalties and forfeitures, incurred under this Statute, are to be recovered in the same manner with those mentioned in the foregoing Acts.

To this Statute, so naturally tending to disturb the tranquillity, then universal throughout the Colonies, Parliament, in the same session, added another no less extraordinary.

Ever since the making the present peace, a Standing Army has been kept in these Colonies. From respect for the mother country, the innovation was not only tolerated, but the Provincial Legislatures generally made provision for supplying the Troops.

The Assembly of the Province of New-York having passed an Act of this kind, but differing in some articles from the directions of the Act of Parliament made in the fifth year of this reign, the House of Representatives in that Colony was prohibited by a Statute made in the last session mentioned, from making any Bill, Order, Resolution, or Vote, except for adjourning or chusing a Speaker, until provision should be made by the said Assembly for furnishing the Troops within that Province, not only with all such necessaries as was required by the Statute, which they were charged with disobeying, but also with those required by two other subsequent Statutes which were declared to be in force until the 24th day of March, 1769.

These Statutes of the year 1767, revived the apprehensions and discontents that had entirely subsided on the repeal of the Stamp Act; and, amidst the just fears and jealousies thereby occasioned, a Statute was made in the next year, [1768] to establish Courts of Admiralty and Vice Admiralty on a new model, expressly for the end of more effectually recovering of the penalties and forfeitures inflicted by Acts of Parliament, framed for the purpose of raising a Revenue in America, &c.

The immediate tendency of these Statutes is to subvert the right of having a share in Legislation, by rendering Assemblies useless; the right of Property, by taking the money of the Colonists without their consent; the right of Trial by Jury, by substituting in their place trials in Admiralty and Vice Admiralty Courts, where single Judges preside, holding their commissions during pleasure; and unduly to influence the Courts of Common Law, by [924]rendering the Judges thereof totally dependent on the Crown for their salaries.

These Statutes, not to mention many others exceedingly exceptionable, compared one with another, will be found, not only to form a regular system in which every part has great force, but also a pertinacious adherence to that system for subjugating these Colonies, that are not, and from local circumstances, cannot be represented in the House of Commons, to the uncontrollable and unlimited power of Parliament, in violation of their undoubted rights and liberties, in contempt of their humble and repeated supplications.

This conduct must appear equally astonishing and unjustifiable, when it is considered how unprovoked it has been by any behaviour of these Colonies. From their first settlement, their bitterest enemies never fixed on any of them a charge of disloyalty to their Sovereign, or disaffection to their mother country. In the wars she has carried on, they have exerted themselves whenever required, in giving her assistance; and have rendered her services which she has publickly acknowledged to be extremely important. Their fidelity, duty, and usefulness, during the last war, were frequently and affectionately confessed by his late Majesty and the present King.

The reproaches of those who are most unfriendly to the freedom of America, are principally levelled against the Province of Massachusetts Bay; but with what little reason, will appear by the following declarations of a person, the truth of whose evidence in their favour, will not be questioned. Governour Bernard thus addresses the two Houses of Assembly in his Speech, on the 24th of April, 1762,—"The unanimity and despatch with which you have complied with the requisitions of his Majesty, require my particular acknowledgment; and it gives me additional pleasure to observe, that you have therein acted under no other influence than a due sense of your duty, both as members of a General Empire, and as the body of a particular Province."

In another Speech, on the 27th of May, in the same year, he says, "Whatever shall be the event of the War, it must be no small satisfaction to us, that this Province hath contributed its full share to the support of it. Every thing that hath been required of it, hath been complied with; and the execution of the powers committed to me, for raising the Provincial Troops, hath been as full and complete as the grant of them. Never before were Regiments so easily levied, so well composed, and so early in the field, as they have been this year: the common people seemed to be animated with the spirit of the General Court, and to vie with them in their readiness to serve the King."

Such was the conduct of the people of the Massachusetts Bay during the last war. As to their behaviour before that period, it ought not to have been forgot in Great Britain, that not only on every occasion they had constantly and cheerfully complied with the frequent Royal Requisitions; but, that chiefly by their vigorous efforts, Nova Scotia was subdued in 1710, and Louisbourg in 1745.

Foreign quarrels being ended, and the domestick disturbances that quickly succeeded on account of the Stamp Act being quieted by its repeal, the Assembly of Massachusetts Bay transmitted an humble address of Thanks to the King and divers Noblemen, and soon after passed a Bill for granting compensation to the sufferers in the disorder occasioned by that Act.

These circumstances, and the following Extracts from Governour Bernard's Letters in 1768, to the Earl of Shelburne, Secretary of State, clearly show with what grateful tenderness they strove to bury in oblivion the unhappy occasion of the late discords, and with what respectful deference they endeavoured to escape other subjects of future controversy. "The House, (says the Governour) from the time of opening the session to this day, has shown a disposition to avoid all dispute with me; every thing having passed with as much good humour as I could desire, except only their continuing to act in addressing the King, remonstrating to the Secretary of State, and employing a separate Agent. It is the importance of this innovation, without any wilfulness of my own, which induces me to make this Remonstrance at a time when I