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The Monitor, No. 9



There is no opinion more necessary to be universally inculcated and received, than this: That it has been, and still continues to be, the grand aim and intention of the Ministry, to reduce the Colonies to a state of slavery, or, what is, in fact, the same thing, to a state of absolute subjection to the authority of Parliament, in all the plenitude of its imaginary omnipotence. The contrary belief is one great source of the coldness and disaffection which, unhappily, are too prevalent among us at this alarming season. It is this which disinclines numbers to that decisive plan of opposition, which is pursued by America in general, and leads them to a pertinacious adherence to what they term pacifick, moderate, and conciliating measures. It is impossible to conceive that any man in his senses can seriously believe that there is any thing unjust, or oppressive, in the real designs of Administration, and can, notwithstanding, imagine they may be withdrawn from them by complaisance, respect, and humility, on our part. There is a manifest incongruity in the supposition, that deliberate injustice and oppression are to be defeated by a calm appeal to the reason, to the equity, and to the generosity of those who are the authors of them. Force, alone, can be depended on, as an effectual barrier against them, and will always be employed by prudent men and discerning politicians.

Nor was there ever any opinion supported by a series of clearer facts, and more unequivocal circumstances, than the one I now recommend, insomuch that I cannot forbear my astonishment at the obstinate blindness and incredulity of many, in spite of the strongest evidence the nature of the case will possibly admit. No man that governs his judgment by any rational principles, can doubt a single moment, that the views of the Cabinet, respecting America, have all along been the most arbitrary and ruinous imaginable, and that they have, at length, arrived to such maturity, as to call aloud for every exertion a love of liberty, or a dread of impending slavery, can inspire.

The most undeviating uniformity of principle is evident in all the conduct of Administration, from their first attempt to tax the Colonies to the present instant; and, a repetition of its efforts, during a course of years, has served to render its true nature too conspicuous and notorious to be controverted, without the most barefaced absurdity or effrontery.

The matter of taxation is the most exceptionable part of Parliamentary claims. It is this which effectually overthrows every idea of liberty on the part of the Colonies; and it is this, to the establishment of which, in its fullest latitude, every step taken by the Ministry has been immediately directed.

The Stamp Act is an indisputable evidence, that an intention to enslave us did once exist; but it is supposed, by many, that it has been since laid aside, as it was hastily and inconsiderately taken up, and was found, by experience, to be impracticable. But, on what reasons this supposition is founded, is, to me, utterly inconceivable, since it is in direct contradiction to the whole tenor of subsequent


events. Had there been no actual revival of the principle, the first attempt might have been ascribed to some transient cause; but, the experiment having been repeated at different times, and in different manners, clearly proves that it was the effect of system, and refutes the contrary presumption. To this, it has been objected, that the several interruptions which have taken place, by repealing the offensive acts, contradict the notion of a system, or of any regular plan of despotism. But, it is a full answer to this, to say, that though a general permanent design might have been formed, to extend the boundless authority of the Parliament over us, yet, it was hard to fix upon any stable, invariable means to accomplish it.

It was to be expected, that the means would remain discretionary, to be diversified as policy, improved by experience, should suggest, conformable to the variety of occasions that might arise. It is, also, extremely probable, that cabals among the Ministry, intestine disturbances, and the rivalship of contending parties, have contributed to produce those relaxations of the general plan which have heretofore happened.

Supposition ought not to be indulged against fact; and, if we adhere closely to this, we must be convinced that the same spirit, which influenced the Stamp Act, has inspired all the succeeding conduct of Administration. This act was repealed, because it was found inexpedient, not because it was built upon an erroneous principle. Our petitions were rejected, because they contained a negation of the right to tax us; and these, together with the resolutions of our Provincial Assemblies, were pronounced derogatory to the just rights of the British Legislature. Here, the right of taxation was tenaciously maintained and asserted, at the same time that the exercise of it, in a particular instance, was abolished. Surely this did not imply a renunciation of the design to enslave us, but only indicated that the present attempt was unsuccessful, and that it was necessary to postpone the execution to some more convenient opportunity. The Declaratory Act put this beyond a doubt; for there our slavery is decreed in as strong expressions as language can afford. There, the power of Parliament to bind us by statutes, in all cases whatsoever, is literally declared and recorded, in the most formal manner.

Nothing can be more arbitrary and inadmissible, than to interpret the intentions of men in opposition to their own plain, express declarations. If we will allow the Parliament to know its own designs, and if we will credit its own positive expressions of them, we cannot hesitate a moment, to believe, that it had embraced a solemn, fixed resolution, to usurp an unbounded dominion over the Colonies.

If it should be said, that a mere general declaration of right does not absolutely disclose an intention to practice upon it, I answer, that it strongly implies it, and that the inference from the one to the other is natural and unavoidable.

Should one man publickly assert, that he had a perfect right to the possessions of another, all who heard him would suppose, of course, that he intended to do justice to himself whenever a favourable occasion offered, and to recover his property, unjustly detained by the present possessor. In like manner, when the Parliament assumes a plenary, unlimited sovereignty over the Colonies, it is highly reasonable to conclude, that a full exercise of the sovereign power is intended.

At the first passing of this act, it was generally considered, in America, as a punctilious formality, in order to prevent any diminution of the imaginary dignity of Parliament, and to preserve an appearance of consistency in its pretensions. But this was a proof of greater confidence than penetration; for a little reflection would have shown, that every purpose of that kind was sufficiently answered by the method observed in the repeal of the Stamp Act, which entirely precluded every detractory implication, and retained the original principle on which that act was founded; so that any further step was altogether superfluous in that view.

The Declaratory Resolution was plainly the result of an active zeal for the power lately exerted, and was established as a more complete ground-work for future operations. Probably its immediate object was to procure a concurrence


of parties in a general principle, in order to silence opposition to such particular exertions of it as should afterwards be made. Had the primitive design upon our liberties been deserted, the policy must have been obvious, of leaving all exorbitant claims untouched and unmentioned, to extinguish those jealousies which had been excited by the preceding attempt.

But, whatever ambiguity there might have been, at first, it was totally banished by the following statute of George III, which demonstrated a continuance of the primary intention to bring us under the yoke, and proved, beyond a doubt, that the Declaratory Act was not simply a matter of form, but had been instituted as a constant rule of practice. In this instance, the most exceptionable branch of the authority claimed, (the power of taxation,) was again exercised, though in a different shape from that in which it before appeared. It was politick to change the mode, because it was more likely it should be complied with, under a new form, than under one in which it had been already rejected.

Though this act, in some respects, was preferable to the former, yet, considered in all its relations, it was far more alarming and injurious. Connected with previous circumstances, it rendered the crime of the Ministry more glaring and inexcusable; for, certainly, two attempts speak more decisively than one, especially when corroborated by an intervenient declaration, so clear and peremptory as that which I have been animadverting upon. A renewal of taxation, after such definitive experience as had been gained from the former trial, excluded every idea of inconsiderateness and precipitation, and denoted a mature, fixed, inveterate scheme of oppression.

This act was combatted with the same spirit and energy which had been employed on the foregoing occasion, and the Ministry again found it necessary to allay the ferment they had raised, by removing the cause. They, however, only repealed a part of the act, reserving the remainder as a test that they did not renounce the principle of taxation, and as the instrument of another attack. This repeal, too, partial as it was, had the same foundation of inexpedience with the other.

The attack has been since made, and has involved all the consequences of a civil war. By returning to the charge, a fresh testimony was supplied, of the badness of the Ministerial intentions, and of their deep-laid, inflexible schemes to overturn the liberties of the Continent. Three attempts are still more explicit than two; and, if three attempts to enforce the same power of taxing us do not convince us that an obstinate design has been maintained, for a series of years, to deprive us of all the rights of a free people, I am unable to conceive that any possible degree of evidence would be sufficient for our conviction.

Every successive step of the Ministry is a link of the same chain. The professed purpose of all the penal statutes is to secure obedience to the laws of Parliament, to say nothing of the unexampled rigour and violence with which they have been conducted. The Port Bill, which restrains the trade of Boston, requires these conditions, among others, as essential to its abrogation; full submission to the laws of Parliament, and the payment of His Majesty' s duties and customs: that is, the duty upon tea, and, consequently, any other which might be imposed. The pretended authority of the Parliament, in every respect, particularly in that of taxation, is the acknowledged aim and end of all its measures.

The celebrated motion made in the last session, which the Ministry declared was to inform us of the terms we were finally to expect, reserves to the Parliament the exclusive power of taxation, and leaves to our Assemblies only the mode of raising the sums required of us. The quantum, or the amount of what we are to give, is to be determined, in the last resort, by the Parliament; and we are plainly told in what manner this power will be used,

The advantages of trade between Britain and the Colonies, are said to be nearly equal, on both sides; and, accordingly, after an inconsiderable allowance, for the inconvenience we sustain by a monopoly, we are to be made to pay full as much, in taxes, as the people at home. Did this proposition stand alone, it would be a sufficient testimony that we have been destined to slavery; but, when


it is compared and connected with all the preceding circumstances, and with those striking illustrations of fire and sword which have been since exhibited, it must carry an irresistible evidence to every ingenuous mind.

New-York, January 4, 1776.



* Imposing duties on paper, glass, painters' colours, tea, &c.

* As there are some leading points, which it is of the last importance to impress upon the minds of the people, I hope the repetition of the same ideas, which I am obliged to make, will be excused, since utility is the sole aim of these papers.