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Bill Presented by Lord North

Lord North


The Lord North presented to the House, according to order, a Bill for the better regulating the Government of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, in North America: and the same was received.

Lord North, on presenting the Bill, (after the breviat was read, containing the propositions which in moving for the Bill, he had mentioned as the ground of it, with this addition and alteration, "that the nomination of the Council should be by the Crown,") said, in this Bill there would be no negative voice in the Council; nor was the Lieutenant Governor and Secretary to be of the Council, unless nominated by his Majesty; that the Council would have much the same power as before, except the nomination of judicial officers; that he had altered the mode of choosing of juries, from the hints that were thrown out the other day


in the debate by a noble Lord, (George Germain;) that the principle on which our juries were formed seemed to be highly approved of, and that of the juries of America disapproved of; that he had now adopted the mode of choice as near the method of choosing the juries in England as possible; that this was a regulation of a very nice kind; and if gentlemen did not like to have it made part of the present Bill, it might be separated and made a Bill of itself.

Mr. R. Fuller

Mr˙ R˙ Fuller gave notice, that he intended to move for a Committee to inquire into the Tea Duty on Thursday next, to see whether or not it was possible to repeal that Act before the present one took place.

Mr. Dempster

Mr˙ Dempster desired to ask the noble Lord, by whom the Governors and Judges were appointed formerly, and by whom paid?

Lord North

Lord North said, the Judges were paid by the Crown; and that their salaries were to accrue out of the duties chargeable on the tea.

Mr. Dowdeswell

Mr˙ Dowdeswell said, he was unwilling to let the day pass without some observations on the Bill, as it was brought in upon a different plan to what it was moved. He observed, that Government had now received sufficient advice for regulating their conduct, and coming to some decision about what was proper to be done; but the further they went, the worse they were; that the House had now a Bill before them, which was calculated to destroy the charter of the Province of Massachusetts Bay; that if, indeed, we were now to make a new charter for governing and regulating the number of emigrants that are daily going to America, we should, perhaps, make it in a different manner, and suit it more to the disposition of the times: but I wish, said he, to see no new charter granted. The Americans have laboured with unwearied industry, and flourished for near fourscore years under that democratic charter; they have increased their possessions, and improved their lands to a pitch we could not have expected, and we have reaped the benefit of their labour, yet you are now going to destroy that very charter which has subsisted to the mutual benefit of both countries; the charter which they have, breathes a spirit of liberty superiour to any thing either of the former or present times. It was granted in King William' s time, and is more adapted to the spirit of a free people, than any charter that can possibly be framed by any Minister now; but, I hope, before this Bill passes, that you will, at least, recollect yourselves in a cool, dispassionate manner, and look upon Americans as your children, and call them by whatever name you will, rebellious or disobedient, that you will consider, at the same time, that they are froward children, that there are also peevish parents, and that the ill-humour and disposition of a child is oftentimes brought about by the petulant obstinacy of a foolish parent. The ridiculous doctrine that parents are apt to instil into their children, of "you shall do it — you shall do it," is oftentimes the means of enforcing the same disposition in the child, of "I wont." I hate that absurd obstinacy, of "you shall," and, "I wont," between parent and child. You are not now contending for a point of honour; you are struggling to obtain a most ridiculous superiority, to which I hardly know a name bad enough to stamp it with. The regulations which you are going to enact, will be so inadequate and so improper a remedy, that, in my opinion, it would be better to give up the whole, than to correct in such a violent and imprudent manner; let me at least advise temper in your proceedings, and that whatever is done, may not be effected with rigour and severity.

Governor Pownall

Governor Pownall rose to give the House an account of the mode in which juries were chosen in America; the House at first did not much attend, but his extensive knowledge in American affairs, soon drew that attention to what he said, which his abilities so justly deserved. He gave an account in what manner the Council were chosen heretofore; that they were elected by the whole Legislature, and not (as had been mistakenly represented) by the People at large; that the Selectmen were a kind of Aldermen, much the same as those in Corporations in England; that about forty were chosen in each town, after which the remaining ones were generally appointed as persons proper to serve upon juries, from which five or six people were taken, as occasion required; that the Grand Juries were struck off from capital men, who were appointed for that


purpose. He said great inconvenience would arise from the town meetings not being held without the consent of the Governor; that all business of a municipal nature was done at a town meeting; that these towns were, in many places, three hundred miles from the Capital, and that business must stand still in many instances, in these towns, till the Governor' s consent could be obtained. He concluded with expressing a wish that the laws of the Province of Massachusetts Bay, as far as related to the present Bill, might be laid before the House.

The Bill Read

The Bill was then read the first time.

Ordered, That the said Bill be read a second time upon this day sevennight.

Ordered, (on the motion of Mr˙ Dowdeswell,) That such a number of copies of the said Bill be printed, as shall be sufficient for the use of the members of the House.