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with her, and of being bound by all the laws touching commerce, which might be passed by the British parliament. The limits of the authority of parliament they were not critical in canvassing, with one exception, namely, claiming to be independent of that body in the matter of internal taxation. They maintained, comformably to one of the most established principles of the British constitution, that an assembly in which they were not represented had no right to burden them with imposts.
WAR OF SEVENTEEN HUNDRED AND FIFTY-SIX.
The growing power of the British colonies in America was strikingly evinced in the year 1745, when a force of 5000 men, raised and equipped by the single State of Massachusetts, and acting in concert with a British armament from the Indies, took Louisburg from the French. The success of this expedition so much excited the jealousy of the government of France, that, after the termination of the war in which Louisburg was taken, they dispossessed the Ohio Company of the settlements which it had formed on the river of that name, alleging that the territory in question was part of the dominions of his Most Christian Majesty. It was on this occasion that George Washington, then a major in the Virginian militia, first drew his sword in hostility. At the head of 300 men he defeated a party of
What is a principle of the British constitution?
French; but being afterwards attacked by a superior force he was obliged to surrender, receiving, however, honorable terms of capitulation.
A war with France now seeming inevitable, a general meeting of the governors and leading members of the provincial assemblies was held at Albany, in the State of New York. This meeting proposed, as the result of its deliberations, that a grand council should be formed of members, to be chosen by the provincial assemblies; which council, together with a governor to be appointed by the crown, should be authorized to make general laws, and also to raise money from all the colonies, for their common defence.' The British government seem to have viewed this proposal with jealousy, as a step towards independence. They disapproved of the projected mode of the election of the members of the council; nor were they satisfied with the plan of raising the requisite supplies by acts of the colonial legislatures; and they proposed that “the governors of all the colonies, attended by one or two members of their respective councils, should, from time to time, concert measures for the whole colonies; erect forts and raise troops, with a power to draw upon the British treasury in the first instance; but to be ultimately reimbursed by a tax to be laid on the colonies by act of parliament. This counter proposal was strenuously opposed by the colonists, who refused to trust their interests to governors and members of councils, since almost the whole of the former, and the great majority of the latter, were nominated by the crown. As to the plan of raising taxes in the colonies by the au
What meeting was held at Albany?
thority of the British parliament, they rejected it in the most peremptory manner. In the discussions which took place on this occasion, Dr. Franklin took an active part, and in a letter to Mr. Shirley, governor of Massachusetts, as Dr. Ramsay observes, ‘he anticipated the substance of a controversy, which for twenty years employed the pens, tongues, and swords of both countries. In his correspondence with the governor, the American patriot intimated his apprehension, that excluding the people from all share in the choice of the grand council, would give extreme dissatisfaction, as well as the taxing them by act of parliament, where they have no representation. It is,' observes he, with equal candor and good sense,—it is very possible that this general government might be as well and faithfully administered without the people as with them; but where heavy burdens are to be laid upon them, it has been found useful to make it, as much as possible, their own act; for they bear better, when they have, or think they have, some share in the direction; and when any public measures are generally grievous, or even distasteful to the people, the wheels of government move more heavily. On the subject of the general characters of the governors of the colonies, to whom it was thus intended to delegate extraordinary powers, Dr. Franklin thus expressed himself, in terms well worthy the attention of all ministers who are invested with the appointment of such functionaries;—Governors often come to the colonies merely to make fortunes, with which they intend to return to Britain; are not always men of the best abilities or integrity; have many of them no estates here, nor any natural connexion with us, that should make them heartily concerned for our welfare; and might possibly be fond of raising and keeping up more forces than
What American patriot? What were his apprehensions?
necessary, from the profits accruing to themselves, and to make provisions for their friends and dependents. The opposition which their project experienced, induced the British government to withdraw it, and the colonies and the mother country for some time longer acted together in union and harmony. The consequence of this was, that under the vigorous administration of Mr. Pitt, the war,
begun in 1756, was terminated by a treaty signed in 1763; according to the articles of which, Canada was ceded to Great Britain by France, and the two Floridas by Spain.
The North American colonies, in general, entered into the war of 1756 with such zeal, that some of them advanced funds for its prosecution to a greater amount than the quota which had been demanded of them by the British government. Others of them, however, the State of Maryland for instance, had, from local and accidental causes neglected to contribute their share to the requisiíe supplies. This circumstance, in all probability, led British statesmen to wish to establish a system, by means of which the resources of the colonies might be made available without the necessity of the concurrence of their local legislatures.Accordingly, Mr. Pitt is said to have told Dr. Franklin, that, when the war closed, if he should be in the ministry, he would take measures to prevent the colonies from having a power to refuse or delay the supplies which might be wanting for national purposes.' This declaration is certainly at variance with the doctrines which Mr. Pitt maintained when the question of colonial taxation was afterwards discussed in parliament. But at the latter period that great statesman was no longer minister; and he is not the only politician who has held different language when in and out of power.
What distinguished British minister is named?
RESOLUTIONS OF THE HOUSE OF COMMONS, 10TH OF MARCH,
Whatever might be the motives of their conduct, the British ministry, in the year 1764, began to manifest a narrow and jealous policy towards the North American colonies. For a long series of years the commerce of the eastern States had been most beneficially extended to the Spanish and French colonies ; to which they transported great quantities of British manufactures, the profits on the sale of which were divided between themselves and their correspondents in the mother country. This course of trade, though not repugnant to the spirit of the navigation laws, was contrary to their letter. Of this the British ministry took advantage; and by the activity of their revenue cutters, they put a stop to the traffic in question, to the detriment and ruin of many merchants, not only in America, but also in Great Britain. In September, 1764, indeed, they caused an act to be passed, authorizing the trade between the North Americans and the French and Spanish colonies, but loading it with such duties as amounted to a prohibition, and prescribing that all offenders against the act should be prosecuted in the Court of Admiralty, where they were deprived of a trial by jury. As an accumulation of the grievances which the colonists felt from this act, its preamble contained the following words of fearful omen: •Whereas it is just and necessary that a revenue be raised in America, for defraying the expenses of defending, pro
What was the preamble?