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Petition of the Merchants


Upon reading the Petition of the Merchants, Traders, and others, of the City of London, concerned in the American commerce, setting forth —

"That the Petitioners are essentially interested in the commerce, which, for many years, hath been carried on with the British Colonies in America, to the increase of the Manufactures, the improvement of the Revenues, the support of the Naval strength of Great Britain, and to the extension of the general trade of the whole Empire: And considering the happy effect of those laws which the British Legislature had, from time to time, enacted for the regulation of this commerce, the Petitioners were warranted in presuming that human wisdom could not have framed a more effectual institution for the attainment and security of these valuable objects. It is to the operation of laws incompatible with this institution, that the Petitioners can alone attribute the frequent interruptions which of late years have prevailed in this commerce; the total stagnation


which at present subsists in the export trade with the greatest and most important part of North America; the certain ruin with which the whole of that valuable and extensive commerce, and thousands of industrious Manufacturers in these Kingdoms, are threatened; the large and fatal diminution which the national revenue must inevitably sustain, and the sensible decline of publick credit. Under these circumstances, the Petitioners are constrained, by a sense of that duty which they owe to themselves, their fellow-subjects, and their posterity, to appear before this right honourable House with these their respectful but just complaints. The Petitioners approach this right honourable House with the greater confidence, when they reflect, that the Peers of this Realm are the hereditary Counsellors of the Crown, and the constitutional guardians of those invaluable interests, by which the most distant subjects of the Empire are inseparably united. And relying on their justice for a fair construction of the motives which induced them to this necessary application, the Petitioners rest assured that they shall not be deemed to have brought under the consideration of this right honourable House matters of trivial concern, when they humbly submit, that the fundamental policy of those laws of which they complain, and the propriety of enforcing, relaxing, or amending the same, are questions essentially connected with the commerce between Great Britain and America; and consequently, that the consideration of the one cannot be entered on without a full discussion of the other;" the Petitioners, therefore, most humbly pray this right honourable House, "That they will enter into an immediate examination of that excellent system of commercial regulation, on the faith of which the intercourse between Great Britain and her Colonies hath been founded and maintained to an extent, and with a success, of which history affords no example. And weighing the true cause of that disorder by which this happy intercourse hath been disturbed, will apply such healing remedies as can alone restore and establish the same on a permanent foundation;" and therefore, praying their Lordships, "That no resolution may be taken by this right honourable House, respecting America, until they shall have been heard by themselves, their Agents, or Counsel, in support of this Petition."

It is ordered that the said Petition do lie on the table.