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ing reasons: "Because, b fore the rights of the colony of Massachusetts Bay, which they derive from their charter, are taken away, the definite legal offence by which a forfeiture of their charter is incurred ought to have been clearly stated, and the parties heard in their own defence; and the mere celerity of a decision against it will not reconcile the minds of the people to that mode of government which is to be established upon its ruins. On the general allegations of a declaratory preamble, the rights of any public body may be taken away, and any visionary scheme of government substituted in their place. By this bill, the governor and council are invested with dangerous powers, unknown to the British constitution, and with which the king himself is not intrusted. By the appointment and removal of the sheriff at pleasure, they have the means of returning such juries as may best suit with the gratification of their passions and their interests; the life, liberty, and property of the subject are put into their hands without control. The weak, inconsistent, and injudicious measures of the ministry have given new force to the distractions of America, which, on the repeal of the stamp-act, were subsiding; have revived dangerous questions, and gradually estranged the affections of the colonies from the mother country. To render the colonies permanently advantageous, they must be satisfied with their condition, that satisfaction there is no chance of restoring, but by recurring to the principles on which the repeal of the samp-act was founded.?
The Boston port-act, and the act for remodeling the Constitution of Massachusetts, were strong and severe measures,-measures which, it might have been conceived, would have set at rest any common jealousy of popular rights, and satisfied any ordinary thirst for vengeance.But, whilst these acts were in progress, the British prime
Why did the duke and others protest against this bill?
minister held in reserve another phial of wrath to pour on the heads of the refractory colonists. On the 15th of April, he rose in his place and proposed a third bill, which, he hoped, would effectually secure the province of Massachusetts Bay from future disturbances. The tenor of this bill, which bore the plausible title of a bill 'for the impartial administration of justice,' was, that ‘in case of any person being indicted for murder or any other capital offence committed in the province of Massachusetts in aiding the magistracy, the governor might send the person so indicted to another colony or to Great Britain for trial,'—the act to continue in force for four years. It was observed, that whilst Lord North was moving the House for leave to bring in this bill, and was attempting, in a short speech, to enforce its necessity, his voice faltered. This is not matter of surprise. His lordship was a good tempered and humane man; and it must have been repugnant to his better feelings to become the organ for the proposing of such atrocious measures. The introduction of this bill roused in opposition to it the energies of Colonel Barre, who had, however, unwillingly, acquiesced in the preceding laws of coercion. He saw clearly the drift of the proposed statute, and was well aware that the colonists would not submit to it. “You may,' said he, “think that a law founded on this motion will be a protection to the soldier who imbrues his hand in the blood of his fellow-subjects. I am mistaken if it will. Who is to execute it? He must be a bold man, indeed, who will make the attempt. If the people are so exasperated, that it is unsafe to bring the man who has in. jured them to trial, let the governor who withdraws him
What did the prime minister propose on the 15th of April?
from justice look to himself. The people will not endure it; they would no longer deserve the reputation of being descended from the loins of Englishmen if they did endure it. Such was the bold language of an experienced soldier, who knew America well. But this warning voice was raised in vain. The views of the Court were adopted by both houses of parliament, and this last and most unconstitutional measure of coercion was passed into a law.
It might seem just and equitable that compensation should be made by a delinquent community for property destroyed within its precincts, and not unreasonable that a town which had perpetrated an open violation of fiscal law should be deprived, till it was reduced to a better spirit, of the privileges of a port. Nor is it improbable that, had the British ministry proceeded no farther in their measures of vengeance, the other commercial cities of the colonies would have regarded the humiliation of the people of Boston with indifference. But the attack upon the charter of Massa chusetts filled the bosom of every North American with indignation and alarm.
Charters they had been accustomed to consider as inviolable compacts between the king and his people; but if these could be annulled and abrogated by parliament, what province could deem its constitution safe from violation? And in the provision for the trial in Great Britain of individuals accused of murders committed in America, they saw an indemnity for every one who might avail himself of a plausible pretext to put to death any person who might be obnoxious to government. Such were the feelings of the colonists. But, on this side of the Atlantic, these invasions of the liberties of fellow subjects were regarded with unconcern, and even with satifaction. The people of Great Britain generally care little about the internal state of the distant possessions of the crown.-
What filled the Americans with indignation and alarm?
They at that time looked up to parliament with awe, as a threefold body vested with the attribute of omnipotence; and they made themselves a party in the quarrel, reprobating the refractory spirit of the colonies as a rebellion against the sovereign authority, of which they imagined that every individual Briton had a share.
REMOVAL OF THE SEAT OF GOVERNMENT FROM BOSTON.
When intelligence arrived at Boston of the strong proceedings of the British parliament and government, the patriots of Massachusetts cast an anxious eye on the sister colonies. They were well aware that, if left to themselves at this awful crisis, they must succumb to the power of the mother country; but they entertained hopes that a union of the provinces against what they regarded as ministerial oppression, would rescue their common liberties from destruction. To effect this union they used the utmost exertions of activity, skill, and prudence. The opposition to the stamp-act and to the duty on tea, had been carried on by means of committees of correspondence, which had established links of connexion throughout the whole of the British dependencies in North America. Of this organization they now availed themselves with the utmost promptitude; and, by the mission of agents of consummate ability, they roused the inhabitants of every district of continental America to a sense of their wrongs. Public meetings were held in every township of every province, in
On the receipt of this intelligence what did the patriots of Massachusetts do?
(selves? Where were public meetings held?
which it was resolved to make common cause with the people of Massachusetts, and to resist the claim of the British parliament to tax them without their consent. The steps to be taken in pursuance of these resolutions, they unanimously agreed to refer to a general congress, the speedy summoning of which they declared to be absolutely necessary to the public safety.
In the mean time, General Gage had arrived at Boston, invested with the united authority of governor and commander-in-chief of the forces. He was speedily followed by two regiments of foot, and by various other detachments, which gradually swelled his garrison to a number which was deemed amply sufficient to overawe the malcontents, and to enforce the execution of the obnoxious acts.Soon after his arrival, he announced his intention of holding the general court of the colony at Salem after the 1st of June, the day appointed by the statute of the commencement of the operation of the Boston port-act. The blow thus struck seemed to common observers to be fatal to the inhabitants of that devoted town. Property was instantly depreciated to the lowest scale of value.
Houses were deserted by their tenants; warehouses were emptied and abandoned; the quays were deserted; silence reigned in the ship-yards, and thousands of artificers wandered through the streets destitute of employ. But the sufferers bore their distresses with a sullen resolution. Not a murmur was heard against the democratic leaders, who might in a certain sense be regarded as the authors of their miseries;
What were the resolutions of these meetings?