Page images
PDF
EPUB

. A. I believe they would.
• Q. Why do you think so?

A. I can speak for the colony I live in; I had it in instruction from the assembly to assure the ministry, that as they always had done, so they should always think it their duty, to grant such aids to the crown as were suitable to their circumstances and abilities, whenever called upon for that purpose, in the usual constitutional manner; and I had the honour of communicating this instruction to that honourable gentleman then minister.*

Q. Would they do this for a British concern, as suppose a war in some part of Europe, that did not affect them?

* I take the following to be the history of this transaction. Until 1763, and the years following, whenever Great Britain wanted supplies directly from the colonies, the secretary of state, in bis majesty's name, sent them a letter of requisition, in which the occasion for the supplies was expressed; and the colonies returned a free gift, the mode of levying which they wholly prescribed. At this period, a chancellor of the exchequer (Mr. George Grenville) steps forth and says to the house of commons: We must call for money from the colonies in the way of a tax ;-and to the colony-agents, write to your several colonies, and tell them, if they dislike a duty upon stamps, and prefer any other method of raising the money then selves, I shall be content, provided the aniount be hut raised. " That is," observed the colonies, when commenting upon his terms, if we will not tax ourselves, as we may be directed, the parliament will tax us," Dr. Franklin's instructious, spoken of above, related to this gracious option. As the colonies could not choose " another tax," while they disclaimed every tax; the parliament passed the stamp-act.

It seerus that the only part of the offer which bore a show of favour, was the grant of the mode of levying---and this was the only circumstance which was not new.

See Mr. Mauduit's account of Mr. Grenville's conference with the agents, confirmed by the agents for Georgia and Virginia, and Mr. Burke's speech, in 1774, p. 55, B. V.

A. Yes,

· A. Yes, for any thing that concerned the general interest. They consider themselves as part of the whole.

Q. What is the usual constitutional manner of calling on the colonies for aids ?

A. A letter from the secretary of state.

Q. Is this all you mean ; a letter from the secretary of state ?

A. I mean the usual way of requisition, in a circular letter from the secretary of state, by his majesty's command, reciting the occasion, and recommending it to the colonies to grant such aids as became their loyalty, and were suitable to their abilities.

Q. Did the secretary of state ever write for money for the crown!

A. The requisitions have been to raise, clothe, and pay men, which cannot be done without money.

Q. Would they grant money alone, if called on?

T. In my opinion they would, money as well as men, when they have money, or can make it.

Q. If the parliament should repeal the stamp act, will the assembly of Pensylvania rescind their resolutions ?

A. I think not.

Q. Before there was any thought of the stamp act, did they wish for a representation in parliament?

A. No.

Q. Don't you know that there is, in the Pensylvanian charter, an express reservation of the right of parliament to lay taxes there?

A. I know there is a clause in the charter, by which the king grants that he will levy no taxes on the inha

bitants, bitants, unless it be with the consent of the assembly, or by act of parliament.

Q. How then could the assembly of Pensylvania agsert, that laying a tax on them by the stamp act was an infringement of their rights?

A. They understand it thus: by the same charter, and otherwise, they are intitled to all the privileges and liberties of Englishmen; they find in the great charters, and the petition and declaration of rights, that one of the privileges of English subjects is, that they are not to be taxed but by their common consent ; they have therefore relied upon it, from the first settlement of the province, that the parliament never would, nor could, by colour of that clause in the charter, assume a right of taxing them, till it had qualified itself to exercise such right, by admitting representatives from the people to be taxed, who ought to make a part of that common consent.

l. Are there any words in the charter that justify that construction ?

A. The common rights of Englishmen, as declared by Magna Charta, and the petition of right, all jus

tify it.

Q. Does the distinction between internal and external taxes exist in the words of the charter ?

A. No, I believe not.

l. Then may they not, by the same interpretation, object to the parliament's right of external taxation ?

A. They never have hitherto. Many arguments have been lately used here to show them that there is no difference, and that if you have no right to tax them internally, you have none to tax them externally, or make any other law to bind them. At present they do not reason so; but in time they may possibly be convinced by these arguments.

make

Q. Do not the resolutions of the Pensylvania assem. bly say-all taxes?

A. If they do, they mean only internal taxes; the same words have not always the same meaning here and in the colonies. By taxes they mean internal taxes; by duties they mean customs; these are their ideas of the language.

Q. Have you not seen the resolutions of the Massachusett's Bay assembly?

A. I have.

Q. Do they not say, that neither external nor internal taxes can be laid on them by parliament?

A. I don't know that they do; I believe not.

Q. If the same colony should say, neither lax nor imposition could be laid, does not that province hold the power of parliament can lay neither?

Q. I suppose that by the word' imposition, they do not intend to express duties to be laid on goods imported, as regulations of commerce.

2. What can the colonies mean then by imposition as distinct from taxes?

A. They may mean many things, as impressing of men, or of carriages, quartering troops on private houses, and the like; there may be great impositions that are not properly taxes.

2. Is not the post-office rate an internal tax laid by act of parliament?

A. I have answered that.

2. Are all parts of the colonies equally able to pay taxes?

A. No,

A. No, certainly; the frontier parts, which have been ravaged by the enemy, are greatly disabled by that means; and therefore, in such cases, are usually favoured in our tax-laws.

Q. Can we, at this distance, be competent judges of what favours are necessary?

A. The parliament have supposed it, by claiming a right to make tax-laws for America; I think it impossible.

Q. Would the jepeal of the stamp act be any discouragement of your manufactures? Will the people that have begun to manufacture decline it?

A. Yes, I think they will; especially if, at the same time, the trade is opened again, so that remittances can be easily made. I have known several instances that make it probable. In the war before last, tobacco being low, and making little remittance, the people of Virginia went generally into family-manufactures. Afterwards, when tobacco bore a better price, they returned to the use of British manufactures. So fulling-mills were very much disused in the last war in Pensylvania, because bills were then plenty, and remittances could easily be made to Britain for English cloth and other goods. : Q. If the stamp act should be repealed, would it induce the assemblies of America to acknowledge the rights of parliament to tax them, and would they erase their resolutions?

A. No, never.

Q. Are there no means of obliging them to erase those resolutions?

A. None that I know of; they will never do it, unless compelled by force of arms.

« PreviousContinue »