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smuggling, the Isle of Man. Now will the noble lord condescend to tell me why he repealed the taxes on your manufactures sent out to America, and not the taxes on the manufactures exported to the Isle of Man ? The principle was exactly the same, the ob jects charged infinitely more extensive, the duties without comparison higher. Why? Why, notwithstanding all his childish pretexts, because the taxes were quietly submitted to in the Isle of Man, and because they raised a flame in America. Your reasons were political, not commercial. The repeal was made, as Lord Hillsborough's letter well expresses it, to regain " the confidence and affection of the colonies, on which the glory and safety of the British empire depend.” A wise and just motive, surely, if ever there was such. But the mischief and dishonor is, that you have not done what you had given the colonies just cause to expect, when your ministers disclaimed the idea of taxes for a revenue. There is nothing simple, nothing manly, nothing ingenuous, open, decisive, or steady, in the proceeding, with regard either to the continuance or the repeal of the taxes. The whole has an air of littleness and fraud. The article of tea is slurred over in the circular letter, as it were by accident: nothing is said of a resolution either to keep that tax or to give it up. There is no fair dealing in any part of the transac tion.
If you mean to follow your true motive and you public faith, give up your tax on tea for raising a revenue, the principle of which has, in effect, been disclaimed in your name, and which produces you no advantage, -no, not a penny. Or, if you choose to go on with a poor pretence instead of a solid rea
son, and will still adhere to your cant of commerce, you have ten thousand times more strong commercial l'easons for giving up this duty on tea than for abandoning the five others that you have already renounced.
The American consumption of teas is annually, I believe, worth 300,0001. at the least farthing. If you urge the American violence as a justification of your perseverance in enforcing this tax, you know that you can never answer this plain question, — Why did you repeal the others given in the same act, whilst the very same violence subsisted ? — But you did not find the violence cease upon that concession. - No! because the concession was far short of satisfying the principle which Lord Hillsborough had abjured, or even the pretence on which the repeal of the other taxes was announced ; and because, by enabling the East India Company to open a shop for defeating the American resolution not to pay that specific tax, you manifestly showed a hankering after the principle of the act which you formerly had renounced. Whatever road you take leads to a compliance with this motion. It opens to you at the end of every visto. Your commerce, your policy, your promises, your reasons, your pretences, your consistency, your in consistency, - all jointly oblige you to this repeal.
But still it sticks in our throats, if we go so far, the Americans will go farther. We do not know that. We ought, from experience, rather to presume the contrary. Do we not know for certain, that the Americans are going on as fast as possible, whilst we refuse to gratify them? Can they do more, or can they do worse, if we yield this point? I think this concession will rather fix a turnpike to prevent their
further progress. It is impossible to answer for bodies of men. But I am sure the natural effect of fidelity, clemency, kindness in governors is peace, goodwill, order, and esteem, on the part of the governed. I would certainly, at least, give these fair principles a fair trial ; which, since the making of this act to this hour, they never have had.
Sir, the honorable gentleman having spoken what he thought necessary upon the narrow part of the subject, I have given him, I hope, a satisfactory an
He next presses me, by a variety of direct challenges and oblique reflections, to say something on the historical part. I shall therefore, Sir, open myself fully on that important and delicate subject : not for the sake of telling you a long story, (which, I know, Mr. Speaker, you are not particularly fond of,) but for the sake of the weighty instruction that, I fiatter myself, will necessarily result from it. It shall not be longer, if I can help it, than so serious a matter requires.
Permit me then, Sir, to lead your attention very far back, – back to the Act of Navigation, the cornerstone of the policy of this country with regard to its colonies. Sir, that policy was, from the beginning, purely commercial ; and the commercial system was wholly restrictive. It was the system of a monopoly. No trade was let loose from that constraint, but merely to enable the colonists to dispose of what, in the course of your trade, you could not take,- or to enable them to dispose of such articles as we forced upon them, and for which, without some degree of liberty, they could not pay. Hence all your specific and devailed enumerations ; hence the innumerable checks and counterchecks; hence that infinite variety of paper
chains by which you bind together this complicated system of the colonies. This principle of commercial monopoly runs through no less than twenty-nine acts of Parliament, from the year 1660 to the unfortunate period of 1764.
In all those acts the system of commerce is established as that from whence alone you proposed to make the colonies contribute (I mean directly and by the operation of your superintending legislative power) to the strength of the empire. I venture to say, that, during that whole period, a Parliamentary revenue from thence was never once in contemplation. Accordingly, in all the number of laws passed with regard to the plantations, the words which distinguish revenue laws specifically as such were, I think, premeditately avoided. I do not say, Sir, that a form of words alters the nature of the law, or abridges the power of the lawgiver. It certainly does not. How ever, titles and formal preambles are not always idle words; and the lawyers frequently argue from them. I state these facts to show, not what was your right, but what has been your settled policy. Our revenue laws have usually a title, purporting their being grants ; and the words“ give and grant” usually precede the enacting parts. Although duties were imposed on America in acts of King Charles the Second, and in acts of King William, no one title of giving “ an aid to his Majesty,” or any other of the usual titles to revenue acts, was to be found in any of them till 1764; nor were the words “give and grant” in any preamble until the sixth of George the Second. However, the title of this act of George the Second, notwithstanding the words of donation, considers it merely as a regulation of trade : “An act for the better securing of the trade of his Maj
esty's sugar colonies in America.” This act was made on a compromise of all, and at the express. desire of a part, of the colonies themselves. It was therefore in some measure with their consent; and having a title directly purporting only a commercial regulation, and being in truth nothing more, the words were passed by, at a time when no jealousy was entertained, and things were little scrutinized. Even Governor Bernard, in his second printed letter, dated in 1763, gives it as his opinion, that "it was an act of prohibition, not of revenue.” This is certainly true, that no act avowedly for the purpose of revenue, and with the ordinary title and recital taken together, is found in the statute-book until the year I have mentioned : that is, the year 1764. All before this period stood on commercial regulation and restraint. The scheme of a colony revenue by British authority appeared, therefore, to the Americans in the light of a great innovation. The words of Governor Bernard's ninth letter, written in November, 1765, state this idea very strongly. “It must,” says he, “have been supposed such an innovation as a Parliamentary taxation would cause a great alarm, and meet with much opposition in most parts of America ; it was quite new to the people, and had no visible bounds set to it.” After stating the weakness of government there, he says, “ Was this a time to introduce so great a novelty as a Parliamentary inland taxation in America ?” Whatever the right might have been, this mode of using it was absolutely new in policy and practice.
Sir, they who are friends to the schemes of American revenue say, that the commercial restraint is full as hard a law for America to live under. I think so, too. I think it, if uncompensated, to be a condition