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what I am speaking of. This you know much better than I do, and therefore I need add nothing farther to recommend this subject to your serious consideration. I am, with the most cordial esteem and attachment, dear sir, your faithful and affectionate humble servant,
Answer to the preceding Queries.
Craven Street, Nov. 29, 1769.
BEING just returned to town from a little excursion, I find yours of the 21st, containing a number of queries, that would require a pamphlet to answer them fully. You, however, desire only brief answers, which I shall endeavour to give.
Previous to your queries, you tell me, that "you apprehend his majesty's servants have now in contemplation, 1st, To relieve the colonists from the taxes complained of; 2d, To preserve the honour, the dignity, and the supremacy of the British legislature over all his majesty's dominions." I hope your information is good; and that what you suppose to be in contemplation will be carried into execution, by repealing all the laws, that have been made for raising a revenue in America by authority of parliament without the consent of the people there. The honour and dignity of the British legislature will not be hurt by such an act of justice and wisdom. The wisest councils are liable to be misled, especially in matters remote from their inspection. It is the persisting in an error, not the correcting it, that lessens the honour of any man
or body of men. The supremacy of that legislature, I believe, will be best preserved by making a very sparing use of it; never but for the evident good of the colonies themselves, or of the whole British empire; never for the partial advantage of Britain to their prejudice. By such prudent conduct, I imagine, that supremacy be gradually strengthened, and in time fully established; but otherwise, I apprehend it will be disputed, and lost in the dispute. At present the colonies consent and submit to it, for the regulations of general commerce; but a submission to acts of parliament was no part of their original constitution. Our former kings governed their colonies, as they had governed their dominions in France, without the participation of British parliaments. The parliament of England never presumed to interfere in that prerogative, till the time of the great rebellion, when they usurped the government of all the king's other dominions, Ireland, Scotland, &c. The colonies that held for the king, they conquered by force of arms, and governed afterwards as conquered countries: but New England, having not opposed the parliament, was considered and treated as a sister-kingdom, in amity with England (as appears by the Journals, March 10, 1642.)
1st. "Will not a repeal of all the duties (that on tea excepted, which was before paid here on exportation, and of course no new imposition) fully satisfy the colonists?"
Answer, I think not.
2d. "Your reasons for that opinion?"
A. Because it is not the sum paid in that duty on tea that is complained of as a burden, but the principle of the act, expressed in the preamble, viz. That those duties were laid for the better support of government, and the
the administration of justice in the colonies*. This the colonists think unnecessary, unjust, and dangerous to their most important rights. Unnecessary, because in all the colonies (two or three new ones excepted +) government and the administration of justice were, and always had been, well supported without any charge to Britain: unjust, as it has made such colonies liable to pay such charge for others, in which they had no concern or interest: dangerous, as such mode of raising money for those purposes tended to render their assemblies useless; for if a revenue could be raised in the colonies for all the purposes of government by act of parliament, without grants from the people there, governors, who do not generally love assemblies, would never call them; they would be laid aside; and when nothing should depend on the people's good-will to government, their rights would be trampled on; they would be treated with contempt. Another reason, why I think they would not be satisfied with such a partial repeal, is that their agreements, not to import till the repeal takes place, include the whole; which shows, that they object to the whole; and those agreements will continue binding on them, if the whole is not repealed.
3d. "Do you think the only effectual way of composing the present differences is to put the Americans
"Men may lose little property by an act whieh takes away all their freedom. When a man is robbed of a trifle on the highway, it is not the two-pence lost that makes the capital outrage." "Would twenty shillings have ruined Mr. Hampden's fortune? No! but the payment of half twenty shillings, on the principle it was demanded, would have made him slave" See Mr. Burke's speeches in 1774 and 1775. B. V.
+ Nova Scotia, Georgia, the Floridas, and Canada. B. V.
precisely in the situation they were in before the passing of the late stamp act?"
A. I think so.
4th." Your reasons for that opinion?"
A. Other methods have been tried. They have been refused or rebuked in angry letters. Their petitions have been refused or rejected by parliament. They have been threatened with the punishments of treason by resolves of both houses. Their assemblies have been dissolved and troops have been sent among them: but all these ways have only exasperated their minds and widened the breach. Their agreements to use no more British manufactures have been strengthened; and these measures, instead of composing differences, and promoting a good correspondence, have almost annihilated your commerce with those countries, and greatly endanger the national peace and general welfare.
5th." If this last method is deemed by the legisla ture, and his majesty's ministers, to be repugnant to their duty as guardians of the just rights of the crown, and of their fellow-subjects; can you suggest any other way of terminating these disputes, consistent with the ideas of justice and propriety conceived by the king's subjects on both sides the Atlantic ?"
A. I do not see how that method can be deemed repugnant to the rights of the crown. If the Americans are put into their former situation, it must be an act of parliament; in the passing of which by the king, the rights of the crown are exercised, not infringed. It is indifferent to the crown, whether the aids received from America are granted by parliament here, or by the assemblies there, provided the quantum be the same; and it is my opinion, that more will be generally granted there voluntarily, than can ever be exacted or collected
from thence by authority of parliament. As to the rights of fellow-subjects (I suppose you mean the people of Britain) I cannot conceive how those will be infringed by that method. They will still enjoy the right of granting their own money, and may still, if it pleases them, keep up their claim to the right of granting ours; a right they can never exercise properly, for want of a sufficient knowledge of us, our circumstances and abilities (to say nothing of the little likelihood there is that we should ever submit to it) therefore a right that can be of no good use to them; and we shall continue to enjoy in fact the right of granting our money, with the opinion, now universally prevailing among us, that we are free subjects of the king, and that fellow-subjects of one part of his dominions are not sovereigns over fellow-subjects in any other part. If the subjects on the different sides of the Atlantic have different and opposite ideas of" justice and propriety," no one "method" can possibly be consistent with both. The best will be, to let each enjoy their own opinions, without disturbing them, when they do not interfere with the common good.
6th. "And if this method were actually allowed, do you not think it would encourage the violent and factious part of the colonists, to aim at still farther concessions from the mother-country?"
A. I do not think it would. There may be a few among them that deserve the name of factious and violent, as there are in all countries; but these would have little influence, if the great majority of sober reasonable people were satisfied. If any colony should happen to think, that some of your regulations of trade are inconvenient to the general interest of the empire, or preju