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Petition to the House of Commons, Sept 22, 1768


To the Honourable Knight, Citizens, and Burgesses of GREAT BRITAIN, in Parliament assembled.

The Petition of the Representatives of the Freemen of the Province of PENNSYLVANIA, in Assembly met, humbly showeth:

That your petitioners, taking into their serious consideration the act of Parliament imposing duties on His Majesty' s American subjects, for


the purpose of raising a Revenue, and conceiving that the said act is injurious, to the rights of their constituents, as well as to the trade and commerce of the British dominions, beg leave, in the most respectful, manner, to represent those aggrievances to the Commons of Great Britain, who, they trust, ever will be the faithful guardians and supporters of British liberty.

In the latter end of the last century, our ancestors, under permission of the Crown, removed from their mother country and settled in this distant land, then a wilderness. The motives to an enterprise so arduous, expensive, and hazardous, were not only to enlarge the British empire, and extend its commerce, but to enjoy that perfect security of liberty to which they were entitled, as British subjects, in their native land. And, notwithstanding innumerable dangers and difficulties, they have peopled and improved the country into an extensive Colony, without the least expense to the mother state, whereby the British empire has been considerably enlarged, its commerce extended, and its wealth and power greatly increased. In this removal from their native country, the effects whereof have so manifestly promoted the interest and dignity of the British Government, your petitioners conceive they brought over with them the natural and constitutional rights of English subjects, which have descended to, and are now vested in their posterity, who have, by no act whatever, forfeited or surrendered them: one of which is, that no taxes, for the purpose of revenue, can be legally imposed on them but by representatives chosen by themselves; a right absolutely necessary to tho security of their properly and estates, and derived to them under the ancient principles of the English Government, and which has ever been esteemed the chief pillar and support of all the other privileges, inasmuch as they apprehend they can, with no propriety, be said to enjoy more than the mere shadow of liberty, while others exercise a power, whenever they please, to take such parts and proportions of their property from them as they think proper, without their consent. In confirmation of this right, a legislative authority, founded on this first and important principle of English liberty, so essential to the happiness of the subjects, was early established in this Province, under the approbation of the Crown. This Legislature was vested with full power not only to support the internal Government of the Province, but of giving and granting to their Sovereign the necessary aids, whenever required, for the general security of His Majesty' s dominions. To this Legislature requisitions have been always made for that purpose, since the establishment of the present Government, particularly in the limes of King William, Queen Anne, his late most excellent Majesty, and our present most gracious Sovereign, and with the utmost cheerfulness and liberality complied with; a part of which has been, repeatedly, reimbursed by the British Parliament.

Under this right, established on the principles of English liberty, on the settled form of their own Government, and the uninterrupted usage and custom so often recognised and confirmed by the Sovereigns of the mother state, and even by the Parliament itself, the good people of this Province have settled, and esteemed themselves happy, in the enjoyment of that security of property which they conceive to be most essential to freedom, (and without which their other privileges can never be long supported or maintained,) until the late act of Parliament imposing a Stamp duty on the Colonies, which the late honourable House of Commons, united with the other branches of the British Legislature, has been pleased to repeal.

That your petitioners, after the repeal of that act, flattered themselves that His Majesty' s most faithful subjects in this Province, yet labouring under a heavy load of debt, occasioned by their excess in granting of aids to the Crown, in the last war, would, in future, be left in the undisturbed possession of this most valuable and important right, which their Legislatures have exercised so perfectly to the satisfaction of the British Government, and general benefit of His Majesty' s dominions. It, therefore, gave them inexpressible concern to observe another act passed, in a late session of the last Parliament, imposing duties on His Majesty' s American subjects, for the purpose of revenue, and reducing them to the same unhappy condition from which, by the wisdom and justice of the British Legislature, they had been so lately relieved; for, we beg leave to represent, that, should the Parliament, of Great Britain continue to exercise a power of imposing taxes on His Majesty' s subjects who are not, nor can be, represented in your august House, their property and estates must become extremely precarious, as they can have no power to judge of the propriety of those taxes; no constitutional check on the liberality in granting them; no opportunity of pointing out the easiest mode of imposing and levying them, or of explaining their grievance, when they conceive themselves injured or oppressed, without which it appears to your petitioners impossible for the most wise and just Legislature to impose taxes with propriety and equity, or with safety to the people who are to be affected by them.

Your petitioners, confiding in the justice of your honourable House, and your attachment to the principles of liberty, entreat that you would be pleased to take the rights of His Majesty' s faithful American subjects, together with the said act of Parliament, under your consideration, and grant them, so far as is in your power, relief from an aggrievance from which the people of Great Britain are exempted, a continuation whereof, we fear, will create a distinction that must naturally occasion a disunion of interest, sentiments, and affections, between them, which, in its consequence, may be attended with great inconveniences and mischiefs to the trade and commerce of his Majesty' s British, as well as American dominions.

Signed, by order of the House, JOSEPH GALLOWAY, Speaker.

PHILADELPHIA, September 22, 1768.

A true copy from the Journals:

CHARLES MOORE, Clerk of Assembly.