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Authentick Speech of Lord North


Extract of a Letter from LONDON, to a Gentleman of PHILADELPHIA, dated FEBRUARY 23, 1775.

Enclosed I send you an authentick Speech, made by Lord North at the time he introduced his deceitful plan as to American taxation, and forming a system for disunion in North America. You may rely on the authenticity of the Speech, as it was taken in short hand by a Member in the House.

Grievances can only be settled by a dutiful application. When subjects apply in that manner, it is right to grant whatever indulgence is necessary. The exercise of the right of taxing every part of the British Dominions, by no means to be given up; the propositions I have now made only states upon what ground it may be suspended. That it may be asked whether it is possible for Parliament to come to some Resolution on that subject, while they are sending Fleets and Armies in order to lay the trade of the Colonies under restrictions; but he thought it best at this outset to let them know what we expect, and whether they meant to dispute the whole of our authority or no; that though it was not worth while to spend the lives of his Majesty' s subjects in levying a trifling tax among them, it was worth every exertion to socure their allegiance, and to enforce the supreme Legislative authority of this country; that their Congress was an illegal assembly; that they were separate States, independent of one another, and had no connection but in that relation to Great Britain; that as our Army and Navy Establishment was necessarily increased on their account, and for their protection, they ought to contribute their just proportion to that expense, subject to the disposal of Parliament; that he should never depart from the proper exercise of that right when they refused to contribute voluntarily, which, if they did, he should think it right to suspend the exercise of our right to tax them here, except for the regulation of commerce; and to remove every objection, that other taxes might be raised upon them under colour of regulations on commerce, he meant that the produce of such Duties should be applied to the particular use of that Province, where they were levied.

"That Parliament cannot divest itself of the right of taxation in every part of the Empire, because it may become necessary to demand assistance and supply from every corner of it. That the Colonies complain Parliament is ignorant of their true state; but this is only a specious pretence — let them first tax themselves, and then it will be seen whether suspension of taxation accompanies their contribution; that


this proposition was no dishonourable concession, because, in the present condition of things, the mother country, in the moment of victory over them, would demand no more; that we are not treating with enemies, nor wishing to take any advantage of them, but only to settle a dispute between subject and subject on a lasting foundation; that it might be objected America paid enough already, but that he begged leave to remind the House that the subjects of Britain were subjected to the payment of 1,800,000 Pounds yearly to discharge the interest on the debt contracted last war, our conquests in which left them in a state of ease and security. But it may be said, will you treat with Rebels? I am not inclined to treat, but to demand: nor do I mean in the least to suspend our military operations by Sea and Land till they submit to the laws.

"Whether any Colony will come in on these terms I know not; but I am sure it is both just and humane to give them the option.

"If one consents, a link of the great chain is broken. If not, which possibly may be the case, and that they make no offer whatever, or none that we could with any propriety accept, it will convince men of justice and humanity at home, that our dispute with America was not about modes of taxation, but that they have deeper views, and mean to throw off all dependence upon this country, and to get rid of every control of the Legislature; that he hoped at least this would, not lessen our unanimity at home, though he never expected to see that unanimity so much wished on a matter of this importance."