Primary tabs

Debate on the Bill

Mr. Dunning


The order of the day, for the third reading of the Bill, was read;

A motion was made, and the question being put, that the said Bill be now read a third time?

Mr˙ Dunning. There seems to me to be a system of tyranny adopted throughout the whole of the three Bills which have been brought into this House, one of which is passed, and the other two are now under consideration. While the first proposition stood single, I mean the Boston Port Bill, I did not think it of sufficient magnitude to oppose it, till it was followed by these two others. It now appears to me, that the inhabitants of Boston are much in the same condition as prisoners surrendering at discretion, as it is in the power of the Minister to allow or disallow the restoration of its port and trade. [He then gave a long history to the House of the manner in which the Bills had been moved for and brought in; he animadverted on the contents of the three Bills, and commented on the preamble of the Bill now before the House.] I have not, said he, heard of, nor do I see any overt act of treason stated in the preamble of this Bill, so as to authorize the severe punishments which it enacts: we are now, I find, in possession of the whole of that fatal secret, which was intended as a corrective for all the disturbances in America; but it does not appear to be either peace or the olive-branch — it is war, severe revenge, and hatred, against our own subjects. We are now come to that fatal dilemma, "resist, and we will cut your throats; submit, and we will tax you" — such is the reward of obedience. There appears to me nothing of a system or plan throughout the whole that has been adopted or intended, because the Bills have been so altered, in the Committee, that there is scarce a word remaining of the original plan, if there was any; the preamble of the Bill now before us seems to have a presumption of open resistance, of which no proof has as yet been had, or appeared at your bar, so as to countenance such an assertion; if indeed, that military guard, which was appointed by the town, had been employed in the manner as the preamble mentions, it might then have been deemed an open resistance, but nothing of that kind happened; the whole resistance that was made was by a few of the mob, urged on by the impetuosity of riot and disturbance. Had any thing appeared that bore the least similarity to treason or rebellion, my honorable and learned friends would have told us that it was treason, and I will give them credit for their willingness upon such an occasion; but if there was treason, there were traitors, and they would have been known and punished; and if not known, they would at least have been inquired after; but as no inquiry has yet been set on foot, I will be bold to say, there was neither treason nor traitors. We seem to be in a strange condition, not knowing whom we have to deal with, nor in what manner to act. If gentlemen will look into the charter, it will be seen that the Governor complained without cause of the want of power; it was the ignorance of the Governor; he had power, but did not know it; and I think that the gentlemen who had the planning of these Boston Bills, have made alterations in the Government of Massachusetts Bay, without the previous ceremony of knowing the old one. There must be, and certainly is, a complete legislative power vested in the Assembly of the Province, to have given this power to the Governor, had the charter been deficient, I mean for the preservation of peace and good order. [He spoke a long time to prove that the constitution of Massachusetts Bay, was in no manner defective, but that the defect was owing to some unknown cause; and, said he, to what I profess I do not know.] When I talk of the Minister, I mean to speak with all due respect to the noble Lord, though I do not consider him as the immediate actor of all this. I know not the age, the person, or the sex, but that I may not be wrong, I will use the language of Acts of Parliament, which I imagine will comprehend, and will say, he, she, or they; to that person or persons alone do I mean to address myself. Let me ask, said he, whether these mischiefs arising from the charter, are peculiar to Massachusetts Bay? Are there no deficiencies in others? Yet it is said an alteration is necessary to make the charter


conformable to the Royal Government. Now, do you know that when you have altered it, it will not be dissimilar to many of the others, when the ignorance of the Government of one Province appears to me to be as great in those who are to alter it, as in the others. I find great fault, Sir, that the whole of this arrangement is to be under the direction of the Crown; and that the whole civil and military power of that country is to be totally at the disposal of the Ministers of this. I really think the motto of this Bill should have been Tua Caesar aetas. He then went through the different clauses of the Bill, objecting principally against the prisoners being brought over here, as contained in the last Bill; and that difficulties would arise which would convince gentlemen who had a concern in the management of these affairs, that what they had done had tended to disunite the affections of the American subjects from this country; and, instead of promoting peace, order, and obedience, would produce nothing but clamour, discontent, and rebellion.

Sir William Meredith

Sir William Meredith said, that if necessity gave a right to tax America, the state of our finances at the close of the last war fully justified the Stamp Act. That he acknowledged the supremacy of Great Britain over America; but that the Legislature of a free country must not, in taxation, or any other act of power, deprive the subject of his right to freedom in person and property. The security an Englishman has in property consists in this, that no tax can be imposed upon him but by the very members of Parliament who pay the tax themselves, equally with all those on whom they impose it; that no man had any thing he could call his own, if another could take his property, and use it, either for his advantage, or in order to prevent the diminution of his own fortune; but that such taxes only might be raised as were consequential to regulations of trade — such were port duties. That a tax similar to that upon tea was imposed by the 25th of Charles II˙, since that time upon molasses, and other articles, which the Americans had acquiesced in. That the (Sir William) never approved the tax upon tea; had opposed it, as he would always oppose the taxation of America. But now, that the Americans had not only resisted the Act of Parliament, but laid violent hands on the merchants' property, it was high time to regulate the course of justice, so that our merchants might trade thither with security. That the present Regulation Bills went no further. That they established the trial by Jury in America the same as in England; whereas the juries were now appointed according to the mere will and pleasure of the Selectmen, some of whom had been forward in committing those excesses that occasioned the present uneasinesses. That the Council was now appointed by the Assembly, and could controul every act of the Governor; the execution therefore of every law enacted by the British Parliament, was at their option; but that all executive power must be subservient to the legislative, otherwise the Legislature itself would be a mere cypher. We must therefore either relinquish at once the right of enacting laws, or take the execution of them out of the hands of those that have denied our authority to make them. That we had better break at once all connections with America, than encourage our merchants to trade thither without the full protection of the laws of their country, both in securing their effects, and in obtaining redress for such injuries as they may sustain.

Mr. Stanley

Mr˙ Stanley. These Bills certainly affect the interior policy of America, and are intended for the better regulation of its internal Government. Whatever may be the opinion of that propriety of regulation with the American, I know not; but their submission to the laws of some country is necessary, as I cannot conceive the independence of an American Colony to exist, whilst the balance of power remains in Europe, supported and protected by armies and navies. These People must resort to some State, and it must be to a Protestant one; and were they to unite themselves with any other State than this, they would meet with a yoke and burden which they would not wish to bear. It is said by some, that this is driving them to a state of slavery; by others, that this proceeding will be ineffectual. As to the latter, if we do not go far enough, we are certainly on the right side; but I cannot sit still, and see with indifference the authority of this


country submitting to every indignity they shall offer us. There are but two ways of governing mankind, by force, or by consent. Mankind are to be governed by legal power, acting by prescribed rules of law and justice; and a measure established on this doctrine, deserves the concurrence of the House. [Here he gave a long account of the rise of the American Government, and shewed, that an inattention to it, in its infancy, had induced the Americans so to think of themselves, as to throw the Government into a wild democracy; that it was not till after the Restoration that any degree of attention was paid them: He then read an extract from some old papers, shewing that the Americans had, so long ago as King William' s time, refused obedience to the prerogative in many instances.] America, says he, is not now to be governed as it might be a hundred years ago; and how is it possible that the Council should, in any shape, have power, when it appears, that if any person, of moderate passions towards the degree of respect or authority to this country, is chosen of the Council, and is inclined to assist the Governor, he has always soon after been displaced? Let me ask gentlemen, if the property of the subjects of this country had been injured in France, would they have thought it a prudent conduct to have sat still and done nothing? I had much rather that this dispute had passed nine years ago, but I would rather meet the attack now than nine years hence; and I should blame myself much if, by any vote of mine, I should separate so valuable a Province from this country.

Mr. T. Townshend

Mr˙ T˙ Townshend. The importance of this subject, and the melancholy consequences which are likely to ensue, deserve the serious attention of this House. I am not in a hurry to adopt the opinion of Administration, but I should be the lowest wretch upon earth if I suffered private opinion to be smothered. I was determined to give support to the most plausible method that was proposed, and I will say, as to this method, Si quid novisti rectius istis, candidas imperti, si non, his utere mecum. I am much averse to the meddling with charters, but when I see the inconveniencies that arise from the town-meetings, I don' t think myself unreasonable in wishing to adopt an amendment. I think the Juries are properly altered, according to the constitution of this country, nor have I any objection to men being brought over to England to be tried, if it is impossible to find men of cool disposition and proper temper to try them in that country; and if I see this Bill left to the execution of the abilities of General Gage, I fear not the success of it. I remember, Sir, that men who were the most violent in opposition to the Stamp Act, at the time it was agitating, afterwards, when they found it was likely to pass, were applying for Stampmaster' s places. I wished much Sir, to have coupled this measure with another; I mean the repeal of the Tea Tax, which we might have done without showing the least timidity, but shall content myself with giving my affirmative to the present Bill before you.

Colonel Barré

Colonel Barré. The question now before us is, whether we will chuse to bring over the affections of all our Colonies by lenient measures, or to wage war with them? I shall content myself with stating — [Here he gave a long history in what manner Mr˙ Grenville, as an able financier, wished to search for means to liberate this country from its load of debts] that when the Stamp Act was repealed, it produced quiet and ease: was it then in the contemplation of any sober, honest mind, that any other tax would be laid on for at least a century? He blamed the late Mr˙ C˙ Townshend, with all his eloquence, for loading America with a tax; nor was he, said he, sufficiently cautious in choosing proper Commissioners for executing his trust; it was this which disgusted the inhabitants of Boston, and there has been nothing but riots ever since. It is the duly of the governing State to correct errors and wrong opinions. [Here he read several extracts of Mr˙ Dickinson' s (of Philadelphia) book, entitled, "Farmer' s Letters," and from Mr˙ Otis' s book, entitled "The Rights of the British Colonies."] You sent over troops, said he, in 1768, and in 1770 you were obliged to recall them. The People were fired at by a lawless soldiery, and seven or eight innocent persons were killed. They were carried about the town as victims of your revenge, to incite the compassion of the friends and relations of the


deceased, and next morning you were forced to order the troops out of town. He condemned much the behaviour of Governor Hutchinson, as an accomplice in the present disturbances, and commended the behaviour of Governor Tryon, who, knowing that he could only land the tea at the muzzle of his guns, prudently sent it back to England. All other Colonies, he said, had behaved with nearly the same degree of resistance, and yet you point all your revenge at Boston alone; but I think you will very soon have the rest of Colonies on your back. You have blocked up the port of Boston; I supported you in that, and I think I have no great guilt on that head, as I thought it was a measure adopted to produce a compromise for the damage the East India Company had sustained. You propose, by this Bill, to make the Council of Boston nearly similar to those of the other Royal Governments; have not the others behaved in as bad a manner as Boston? And it is my opinion, that the office of Council, being chosen by the Crown, will become so odious, that you will not get a respectable man that dares to accept of it, unless you have the military officers for the Council, whom I think, in my conscience, will behave well. Let me ask again, what security the rest of the Colonies will have, that upon the least pretence of disobedience, you will not take away the Assembly from the next of them that is refractory. [Here he blamed the House very much for not receiving the petition of Mr˙ Bollan, who, he said, had corresponded with the new Council, and had been allowed and received at the public offices as Agent for the Colonies.] Why, said he, will you pretend to alter the charter of that constitution, of which you know not its present form of Government; for, he said, he had observed that the late Governor of Boston (Governor Pownall) had been, during the different stages in which the Bill had been debated, going from side to side of the House, to give information about the Government and its laws, many of which he remembered; some few the Governor had forgot. In France, Sir, it is a custom, said he, to judge upon one-sixth, seventh, or eighth, of a proof — the unfortunate Calas, of Thoulouse, was condemned upon eight hearsays, which in France amounted to a proof; but, surely, a British House of Commons will not condemn on such evidence; and I hope never to see Thoulouse arguments [here a member observed he meant too loose arguments] admitted as proof here. I do not know of any precedent for this Bill — it is impossible to put it in execution — and I will tell the House a story that happened to us when we marched at Ticonderoga; "The inhabitants of that town looked upon the officers of the corps as men of superior beings to themselves, and the youngest amongst them, I will answer for it, was highly treated, and indulged by the fair sex to the utmost of our wishes, even their wives and daughters were at our service;" and if the same degree of civility prevails, think you that it is possible the execution of this Bill can ever be observed by your army? I was of the profession myself, and I beg leave to tell the House that I am no deserter from it. I was forced out of it by means which a man of spirit could not submit to. I take this opportunity to say again, that I am no deserter from my profession. [Here it was strongly imagined, that the Colonel meant to give a broad hint to Administration, that the line of his profession was not disagreeable to him.] I think this Bill is, in every shape, to be condemned; for that law which shocks Equity is Reason' s murderer; and all the protection that you mean to give to the military, whilst in the execution of their duty, will serve but to make them odious; and what is so to others, will soon become so to themselves. I would rather see General Gage invested with a power of pardon, than to have men brought over here to be tried; and the state of the case upon the trial, I mean in America, would, I am sure, justify such pardon. You are, by this Bill, at war with your Colonies; you may march your troops from North to South, and meet no enemy; but the People there will soon turn out, like the sullen Hollanders, a set of sturdy rebels; a perpetual exertion of your authority will soon ruin you; therefore, let me advise you to desist. Let us but look a little into our behaviour. When we are insulted by France and Spain, we negotiate — when we dispute with our


Colonies, we prepare our ships and our troops to attack them. It has been the language of a noble Lord, that when America is at our feet, we will forgive them, and tax them; but let me recommend lenient measures, and to go cap in hand to your subjects; if you do not, you will ruin them. The great Minister of this country (Lord Chatham) always went cap in hand to all: his measures were lenient and palliative; but we have now adopted another system. In one House of Parliament "we have passed the Rubicon," in the other "delenda est Carthago." [He gave a history here of the different state of finance in which France was; that it was superior in every degree to this country; that their establishments were lower in point of expense; and that France was more ready and fit to go to war than we were; and that during these troubles with our Colonies, France would not lie quiet;] — But I see nothing, said he, in the present measures but inhumanity, injustice, and wickedness; and I fear that the hand of Heaven will fall down on this country with the same degree of vengeance.

Mr. S. Fox

Mr˙ S˙ Fox. I rise, Sir, with an utter detestation and abhorrence of the present measures. It is asserted by many gentlemen, that these measures are adopted to keep up the regard of the People, but I can by no means acquiesce in that; all these Bills have no qualities relative to those lenient measures. As to the second Bill, it has a most wanton and wicked purpose; we are either to treat the Americans as subjects or as rebels. If we treat them as subjects, the Bill goes too far; if as rebels, it does not go far enough. They have never yet submitted, and I trust they never will. We have refused to hear the parties in their defence, and we are going to destroy their charter without knowing the constitution of their Government. I am utterly against such measures as these, which can tend to nothing but to raise disturbance and rebellion.

The Marquis of Carmarthen

The Marquis of Carmarthen. I do not mean to trespass long at this hour of the night; but there is not a person in the world a stranger to the practices carried on in America, with a direct intention to throw off their dependance on this country. The opposition which they fomented, was not made on account of the tax, but a systematic measure of opposition to every part of the law of this country. It might have been thought by sober-minded People, that the repeal of the Stamp Act would have brought them back to a sense of their duty: but, alas! Sir, it had a contrary effect. [He read an extract of a letter from Governor Bernard, setting forth, that "upon coercive measures being adopted in this country, the Americans seemed to give an acquiescence; but whenever lenient ones were the system of Administration, they have always been turbulent and riotous." It has been observed, Sir, by an honorable gentleman (Colonel Barré) that a great Minister (Lord Chatham) proceeded upon cap-in-hand measures. I do not agree with him on that point, as I never heard that Minister celebrated for that part of his character. I always understood that his measures were deemed spirited and vigorous, and that he was the farthest man in the world from making use of cap-in-hand measures; his character was of a far different nature. But I refer the House to all the panegyrics that have been passed on that noble Lord, for confirming what I say. But, Sir, the time may soon come, when that noble Lord will have an opportunity, in the other House of Parliament, to adopt and make use of those cap-in-hand measures which the honorable gentleman has just now attributed to him, as a part of his character; but I strongly believe his system will be of a different kind.

Mr. St. John

Mr˙ St˙ John. I rise, Sir, to take up a few minutes of the House' s time, and to make a few observations upon what has been said. It has been stated that this Bill is taking away all the rights of the Americans in one day, and that it is a total destruction of their charter. What is this, Sir, but a gross misrepresentation of Parliamentary proceedings? I hold it, Sir, imprudent to meddle with chartered rights, but in cases where the rights of that charter are exercised to the detriment and injury of the People. Sir, Parliament has saved America from the laws of tyranny, by amending their constitution; and to say that we have no right to alter their Government for such purpose, appears to me the highest absurdity; we


are perpetually altering and ameliorating our own constitution, upon emergencies; is there then no emergency at this present instant, when your officers are obliged to take shelter in your castle; when the magistrates refuse to execute their authority to keep the peace; when your ships are plundered, and your trade obstructed; and whenever a person endeavours to reform the constitution of that country, he incurs nought but pains and penalties? Is it no defect, that the inhabitants, when they meet to choose their officers of the town, that they determine upon points that go to the very vitals of the constitution? Not to correct these deficiencies in their constitution, but to give up the points which they contend for; would be a base surrender of the rights of posterity. It has been said, this law is partial, but that that partiality is applicable only to the People of Boston, who have been the ringleaders of the whole disturbances; that it is slow, I agree, because measures of this sort, when adopted on the line of security, proceed with an attentive step. But I cannot agree that the measure is hostile; if it is, it is hostility adopted for the prevention of bloodshed. Have we not been provoked to this from the manifold injuries which this country has received? It is not, Sir, the strength of America that we dread; they have neither men, army, nor navy. What then have we to fear — do we dread the loss of our trade? No, Sir, the avarice of the Americans will prevent that. They threaten us with not paying their debts; but I am afraid, if we give way to them, they will not allow that they owe us any: however, Sir, let us not proceed weakly nor violently, but with resolution and firmness. I approve of the system that is adopted; and with regard to a fair and impartial trial in that country, I think it not only improbable but impossible; I therefore wish well to the present Bill.

Mr. Byng

Mr˙ Byng. I am sorry, Sir, to find that we are not now proceeding in our judicial capacity, but in our legislative one; I could wish that we instilled into the measure more judgment, and less of our power. It is said this measure is adopted to prevent bloodshed; is it then that you send armies there for that purpose? It has been said, that Parliament has bowed its head to every Minister as often as measures have been adopted. It bowed when the Stamp Act was made! It bowed when it was repealed! I wish, however, in this present instance, it would for once not be quite so civil. It has been said, that these Bills are for amending the constitution. Will gentlemen call that amendment a good one, which directs, that the Judges' places shall be at the disposed of the Crown? Surely not. It has been said, Sir, that there has been treason and traitors, but that the traitors are not known. There can be no treason without traitors, therefore endeavour to find out the traitors first, that they may be punished, to save the destruction of an innocent People. It has been urged, that this Bill is only for a short time; but the same argument that operates for its continuance for an hour, will operate equally for its perpetuity.

Mr. Rigby

Mr˙ Rigby. I rise, Sir, only just to contradict an opinion which has been imbibed, that, in the debate the other day, I wished to tax Ireland. I only used it as an argument in my speech to tax America; but never expressed a hint that it was proper to tax it. It has also been observed, that I treated requisition in a ridiculous light; I did so; and I think any requisition to the Americans for their quota of their taxes, would be both ridiculous and ineffectual. But the honorable gentleman' s (Mr˙ Barré) ideas of requisition, go no further than furnishing provision for a regiment. The honorable gentleman has taken three or four days to consider of my speech, in order to give it an answer. I say stand and deliver, to the Americans, just as much as I say to my constituents, when I give my vote to passing the Land Tax Bill; but the honorable gentleman was very desirous to have a fling at me. I desire, Sir, to support the present Ministry, because I regard them; because I have respect for their abilities and resolution. That great Minister, Sir, who has been so much famed for cap-in-hand measures, did make his country too big for any one, even himself, to govern. There is not a symptom that any of the People out of doors are displeased with our measures; but I am told quite the contrary. America, at this instant, is in a state of downright anarchy; let us give it a Government. I always, Sir,


speak, when I like, and hold my tongue when I think proper; and whatever weight and force I may have been represented to have, connected with my friends, I would give it in support of the noble Lord; I would vote, Sir, for these measures, were I upon my oath, which seems now to be the fashionable Parliamentary test [alluding to those objections he always made to the oath of the Committee appointed to try controverted elections;] and whether I am upon my honour, or my oath, I will give a hearty concurrence to these measures.

General Conway

General Conway. I would not take up the time of the House at this late hour of the night, but for a very short time. I never did maintain that Great Britain had no right to tax America; I said taxation and legislation had no connection; I allowed that we had an abstract right to tax Ireland, and also America, in the Declaratory Act; but I do not know the time when it will be proper and right so to tax. This measure will throw us into great difficulties, which I do not know when we shall get out of. The tax upon tea does nothing for our revenue, it is no object; as long as you continue the doctrine of taxing America, you will never be at rest. Where is this olive branch I have heard so much talk about? It is not to be found in these measures. I do not wish to see the military protected from the laws of their country; if they commit an offence, why not leave them open in the same manner as others are? I have said, "that we are the aggressors," and I say so still; after so many innovations of the Stamp Act, and other taxes, I am for cap-in-hand measures — for lenity and tenderness to the Americans. There is an universal right in persons to be heard at this Bar in judicial cases, when they apply for it; but I rise, Sir, only to lament what I cannot prevent; and that this spirit may be rightly directed, I do hope that the Americans will wait till better times; for I think it is better to have peace with America, and war with all the world, than be at war with America; because, if they are at peace with us, they will contribute to support us in time of war.

Lord G. Germaine

Lord G˙ Germaine. I hope I shall be excused, Sir, for trespassing a few minutes on the House. I should be sorry to be a supporter of those measures, which are termed wicked and tyrannical; but as I cannot think that this Bill has any such designs, I shall readily adopt it. The trial of the military has been much objected to. What is it, Sir, but a protection of innocence? Will you not wish for that, Sir? America, at this instant, is nothing but anarchy and confusion. Have they any one measure but what depends upon the will of a lawless multitude? Where are the Courts of Justice? Shut up. Where are your Judges? One of them taking refuge in your Court. Where are your Council? Where is your Governor? All of them intimidated by a lawless rabble. Can these men expect a fair trial? No, Sir, at present they have no existence as any part of the executive power. It is objected, that the Judges receive their salaries from the Crown, and not from the People. It is to me a matter of surprise, that any gentleman could think seriously a moment, that this Government wanted no amendment. It has been said, give up the Tea Tax: Can you give up the Tea Tax, without the constitution? Support your supremacy, whatever you do; legislation cannot but be part of it. It has been observed, that we negotiated about Falkland' s Island; I wish, Sir, we could negotiate with the Americans upon the same terms. If they would do as the Spaniards did, that is, disown the fact, and give up the point in question, we might then negotiate. The Americans, it is true, have made this claim several years, of exemption from taxation, but they have never yet carried it. Great Britain, is desired to be at peace with her Colonies, by an acquiescence in their claim; but do you call such a submission to be a peace? I really think the first Bill, for blocking up the port, is the only Bill of pains and penalties, when you deprive that port of its trade; and this was the Bill to which the honorable gentleman (Colonel Barré) gave his hearty concurrence. The Bill before you is not such a Bill: there are no pains nor penalties; their Government will be restored, and private property protected. It has been said, go to the King' s Bench with this complaint, as in former times; but let me ask gentlemen, whether they can ameliorate or alter their


charter? No, Sir, they can do nothing but say guilty or not guilty, by forfeiting their charter. It is incumbent on every man to give his opinion from his own breast upon this great occasion; but Sir, I cannot help once more condemning that mob of People, which, under the profession of liberty, carries dark designs in its execution; but my utmost wish is, that these measures, in their consequences, may turn out well, and contrary to what has been apprehended.

Mr. C. Fox

Mr˙ C˙ Fox. I take this to be the question — whether America is to be governed by force, or management? I never could conceive that the Americans could be taxed without their consent. Just as the House of Commons stands to the House of Lords, with regard to taxation and legislation, so stands America with Great Britain. There is not an American, but who must reject and resist the principle and right of our taxing them. The question then is shortly this: Whether we ought to govern America on these principles? Can this country gain strength by keeping up such a dispute as this? Tell me when America is to be taxed, so as to relieve the burthens of this country. I look upon this measure to be in effect taking away their charter; if their charter is to be taken away, for God' s sake let it be taken away by law, and not by a legislative coercion: but I cannot conceive that any law whatever, while their charter continues, will make them think that you have a right to tax them. If a system of force is to be established, there is no provision for that in this Bill; it does not go far enough; if it is to induce them by fair means, it goes too far. The only method by which the Americans will ever think they are attached to this country, will be by laying aside the right of taxing. I consider this Bill as a bill of pains and penalties, for it begins with a crime, and ends with a punishment; but I wish gentlemen would consider, whether it is more proper to govern by military force, or by management.

Mr. Attorney General Thurlow

Mr˙ Attorney General Thurlow. The form of the present law was adopted to give magistracy that degree of authority which it ought to be vested with for the execution of the laws; but this Bill carries with it no degree of severity, unless the pleasure of disobeying is greater than that of the punishment. To say that we have a right to tax America, and never to exercise that right, is rediculous, and a man must abuse his own understanding very much not to allow of that right. To procure the tax by requisition is a most ridiculous absurdity, while the sovereignty remains in this country; and the right of taxing was never in the least given up to the Americans. Their charter is mere matter of legislative power; and whoever looks into that charter, will see that no power whatever was meant to be given them so as to controul the right of taxation from Great Britain.

Mr. E. Burke

Mr˙ E˙ Burke. I have little to say, Sir, with hopes to convince the House, but what I have to offer, I shall do with freedom. It has been asserted, that the nation is not alarmed, that no petitions of discontent are received. How can persons complain, when sufficient time is not given them to know what you are about? We have now seen the whole of this great work; I wish all was good that it contained. I am afraid a long series of labours and troubles will succeed. The question that is before you is a great one; it is no less than the proscription of provinces, and cities, and nations, upon their trial; except that when the saints of God are to judge the world I do not know one of greater importance. I will endeavour to comply with the temper of the House, and be short in what I have to offer. [The House being noisy, several members going out, soon after which he got up and said,] I find, Sir, I have got my voice, and I shall beat down the noise of the House. Why did I compromise? [Here he produced the letters from Lord Hillsborough to the Americans, which declared, that his Majesty, or his Ministers, had not any intention of laying any further taxes on America.] He dwelt some considerable time on the words which the letter contained, as a sort of declaration to the Americans that they should not be taxed. If you govern America at all, Sir, it must be by an army; but the Bill before us, carries with it the force of that army; and I am of opinion, they never will consent without force being used. I have to protest against this Bill, because you refuse to hear the parties aggrieved. Consider what


you are doing, when you are taking the trial over the Atlantic seas, three thousand miles to Great Britain; witnesses may be subpoened, and called upon by the prisoner, as many as he pleases. Let me, for God' s sake, wish that gentlemen would think a little more that a fair trial may be had in America; and that while the King appoints the Judge, there is a degree of fairness that People should the Jury. Repeal, Sir, the Act which gave rise to this disturbance; this will be the remedy to bring peace and quietness, and restore authority; but a great black book, and a great many red coats, will never be able to govern it. It is true, the Americans cannot resist the force of this country, but it will cause wranglings, scuffling, and discontent. Such remedies as the foregoing, will make such disturbances as are not to be quieted.

Lord North

Lord North arose to answer Mr˙ Burke. He desired leave to look at Lord Hillsborough' s letter, as he had not a copy of it; and explained the passages in that letter very different from what Mr˙ Burke had: he read the words, "That neither the King, or any of his Ministers, wished to tax America." His Lordship observed, That this was not an expression that carried with it a denial of the right, but only a wish that no further taxes "should be laid on." A man, says he, is not factious, that says America may be taxed; the letter contains an opinion, that no further taxes, at that time, ought to be laid. I am sorry to hear a charge thrown out, that these proceedings are to deprive persons of their natural right. Let me ask of what natural right, whether that of smuggling, or of throwing tea overboard? Or of another natural right, which is not paying their debts? But surely this Bill does not destroy any of their civil rights? You have given them a Civil Magistrate and a Council, which they had not before; you have given the innocent man a fair trial in some Colony or other; and if he cannot get a fair trial in that country, the whole being in a distempered state of disturbance and opposition to the laws of the mother country, then, in that case, and in that only, he must be sent to Great Britain. All that these Acts profess to do, is to restore some order to the Province. None that admit the least degree of sovereignty, can possibly deny the provision of this Bill; it is not a military Government that is established, but the alteration of a civil one. I am sure that this is adopted as the best method at present; I do not say it will succeed, but I hope for the good consequences of it; and if the Massachusetts Bay is to be governed by management, this is the only remedy. By what means is authority to be maintained, but by establishing that authority from Parliament? I do not know, Sir, what is the proper time to lay a fresh tax on America; but this I know, that this is not the proper time to repeal one. We are now to establish our authority, or give it up entirely; when they are quiet, and return to their duty, we shall be kind, whether by repealing this tax, or what not, I cannot tell; but this I will answer, that when they are quiet, and have a respect for their mother country, their mother country will be good-natured to them.

Sir George Savile

Sir George Savile. I shall say not a word of preface at this late hour; I do not hold it improper to take this into consideration in a legislative capacity, in preference to a judicial one; but I hold this to be a principle of justice, that a charter which conveys a sacred right, ought not to be taken away without hearing the parties, either in a judicial or legislative way, which has not been done, but from their own declaration in the papers on the table, and which I, in my mind, do not think sufficient evidence.

Bill Passed

Then the House divided:

Yeas, 239; Nays, 64.

So it was resolved in the Affirmative:

And the Bill was accordingly read the third time.

And after several amendments were made, the Bill was Passed.

Ordered, That Mr˙ Cooper do carry the Bill to the Lords, and desire their concurrence.