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TO WILLIAM TUDOR. - John Adams, The Works of John Adams, vol. 10 (Letters 1811-1825, Indexes) 
The Works of John Adams, Second President of the United States: with a Life of the Author, Notes and Illustrations, by his Grandson Charles Francis Adams (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1856). 10 volumes. Vol. 10.
Part of: The Works of John Adams, 10 vols.
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TO WILLIAM TUDOR.
Quincy, 16 August, 1818.
We cannot yet dismiss this precious statute of the 6th of George II. chapter 13.
The second section I must abridge, for I cannot transcribe much more. It enacts, that all the duties imposed by the first section, shall be paid down in ready money by the importer before landing.
The third section must be transcribed by me or some other person, because it is the most arbitrary among statutes that were all arbitrary, the most unconstitutional among laws which were all unconstitutional.
Section 3d. “And be it further enacted, that in case any of the said commodities shall be landed, or put on shore in any of his Majesty’s said colonies or plantations in America, out of any ship or vessel before due entry be made thereof, at the port or place where the same shall be imported, and before the duties by this act charged or chargeable thereupon, shall be duly paid, or without a warrant for the landing and delivering the same, first signed by the collector or impost officer, or other proper officer or officers of the custom or excise, belonging to such port or place respectively, all such goods as shall be so landed or put on shore, or the value of the same, shall be forfeited; and all and every such goods as shall be so landed or put on shore, contrary to the true intent and meaning of this act, shall, and may be seized by the governor or commander-in-chief, for the time being, of the colonies or plantations, where the same shall be so landed or put on shore, or any person or persons by them authorized in that behalf, or by warrant of any justice of the peace or other magistrate, (which warrant such justice or magistrate is hereby empowered and required to give upon request,) or by any custom-house officer, impost, or excise officer or any person or persons him or them accompanying, aiding, and assisting; and all and every such offence and forfeitures shall, and may be prosecuted for and recovered in any court of admiralty in his Majesty’s colonies or plantations in America, (which court of admiralty is hereby authorized, impowered, and required to proceed to hear, and finally determine the same,) or in any court ofrecord in the said colonies or plantations, where such offence is committed, at the election of the informer or prosecutor, according to the course and method used and practised there in prosecutions for offences against penal laws relating to customs or excise, and such penalties and forfeitures so recovered there shall be divided as follows,—namely, one third part for the use of his Majesty, his heirs and successors, to be applied for the support of the government of the colony or plantation, where the same shall be recovered, one third part to the governor or commander-in-chief of the said colony or plantation, and the other third part to the informer or prosecutor, who shall sue for the same.”
Section 5th contains the penalties on persons assisting in such unlawful importation.
Section 6th. “Fifty pound penalty on molesting an officer on his duty. Officer, if sued, may plead the general issue. Fifty pound penalty, an officer conniving at such fraudulent importation.
Section 7th. “One hundred pound penalty, on master of ship, &c., permitting such importation.
Section 8th. “The onus probandi in suits to lie on the owners.
Section 12th. “Charge of prosecution to be borne out of the king’s part of seizures, forfeitures, and penalties.”
George II. was represented and believed in America to be an honest, well-meaning man; and although he consented to this statute and others which he thought sanctioned by his predecessors, especially King William, yet it was reported and understood that he had uniformly resisted the importunities of ministers, governors, planters, and projectors, to induce him to extend the system of taxation and revenue in America, by saying, that “he did not understand the colonies; he wished their prosperity. They appeared to be happy at present; and he would not consent to any innovations, the consequences of which he could not foresee.”
Solomon, in all his glory, could not have said a wiser thing. If George III. had adopted this sentiment, what would now be the state of the world? Who can tell, or who can conjecture?
The question now was concerning the designs of a new reign and of a new prince. This young king had now adopted the whole system of his predecessors, Stuarts, Oranges, and Hanoverians, and determined to carry it into execution, right or wrong; and that, by the most tyrannical instruments that ever were invented—writs of assistance. What hope remained for an American who knew, or imagined he knew, the character of the English nation and the character of the American people? To borrow a French word, so many reminiscences rush upon me, that I know not which to select, and must return for the present to Mr. Otis. By what means this young inexperienced king was first tempted by his ministers to enter with so much spirit into this system, may be hereafter explained.
Mr. Otis analyzed this statute, 6 George II. c. 13, with great accuracy. His calculations may be made by any modern mathematician who will take the pains. How much molasses, for example, was then subject to this tax? Suppose a million gallons, which is far less than the truth. Sixpence a gallon was full one half of the value of the article. It was sold at market for one shilling; and I have known a cargo purchased at a pistareen. The duties on a million gallons would then be twenty-five thousand pounds sterling a year; a fund amply sufficient with the duties on sugars, &c., and more than sufficient, at that time, to pay all the salaries of all the governors upon the continent, and all judges of admiralty too.
Mr. King, formerly of Massachusetts, now of New York, in a late luminous and masterly speech in Senate, page 18, informs us, from sure sources, that “we import annually upwards of six million gallons of West India rum.” The Lord have mercy on us! “More than half of which comes from the English colonies. We also import every year nearly seven millions of gallons of molasses; and as every gallon of molasses yields, by distillation, a gallon of rum, the rum imported, added to that distilled from molasses, is probably equal to twelve millions of gallons, which enormous quantity is chiefly consumed, besides whiskey, by citizens of the United States.” Again, I devoutly pray, the Lord have mercy on us!
But calculate the revenue, at this day, from this single act of George II. It would be sufficient to bribe any nation less knowing and less virtuous than the people of America, to the voluntary surrender of all their liberties.
Mr. Otis asserted this to be a revenue law; a taxation law; an unconstitutional law; a law subversive of every end of society and government; it was null and void. It was a violation of all the rights of nature, of the English Constitution, and of all the charters and compacts with the colonies; and if carried into execution by writs of assistance and courts of admiralty, would destroy all security of life, liberty, and property. Subjecting all these laws to the jurisdiction of judges of admiralty, poor dependent creatures, to the forms and course of the civil law, without juries, or any of the open, noble examination of witnesses or publicity of proceedings of the common law, was capping the climax, it was clenching the nail of American slavery.
Mr. Otis roundly asserted, that this statute, and the preceding statute, never could be executed. The whole power of Great Britain would be ineffectual; and by a bold figure, which will now be thought exaggeration, he declared that if the King of Great Britain in person were encamped on Boston common, at the head of twenty thousand men, with all his navy on our coast, he would not be able to execute these laws. They would be resisted or eluded.