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Jack P. Greene, Exploring the Bounds of Liberty: Political Writings of Colonial British America from the Glorious Revolution to the American Revolution. Vol. 3 (1755-1774) [2018]

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Jack P. Greene, Exploring the Bounds of Liberty: Political Writings of Colonial British America from the Glorious Revolution to the American Revolution. Edited and with an Introduction by Jack P. Greene and Craig B. Yirush. Latin translations by Kathleen Alvis (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2018). Vol. 3 (1755-1774).

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About this Title:

Exploring the Bounds of Liberty is a 3 vol. collection which presents a rich and extensive selection of the political literature produced in and about colonial British America during the century before the American Revolution (1687-1774). Vol. 3: 53. [William Livingston], An Address to His Excellency Sir Charles Hardy (New York, 1755) to 75. Anonymous, Considerations on the Imposition of 4 ½ Per Cent; Collected on Grenada, Without Grant of Parliament (London, 1774).

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The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.

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This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.

Table of Contents:

Edition: current; Page: [i]
Exploring the Bounds of Liberty
Edition: current; Page: [ii] Edition: current; Page: [iii]
Exploring the Bounds of LIBERTY
Political Writings of Colonial British America from the Glorious Revolution to the American Revolution
volume iii
Edited and with an Introduction by Jack P. Greene and Craig B. Yirush
Latin Translations by Kathleen Alvis
liberty fund
Edition: current; Page: [iv]

This book is published by Liberty Fund, Inc., a foundation established to encourage study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.


The cuneiform inscription that serves as our logo and as the design motif for our endpapers is the earliest-known written appearance of the word “freedom” (amagi), or “liberty.” It is taken from a clay document written about 2300 bc in the Sumerian city-state of Lagash.

Compilation, introduction, translations, editorial matter, and index © 2018 by Liberty Fund, Inc.

Front: “Vintage engraving of Boston Harbour showing the Dartmouth, which was one of the ships boarded during the Boston Tea Party, a political protest by the Sons of Liberty in Boston, a city in the British colony of Massachusetts, against the tax policy of the British government and the East India Company, which controlled all the tea imported into the colonies.” Used by permission © 1890.

Spine: Library of Congress, dated 1758: “A general map of the middle British colonies in America: Viz. Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pensilvania, New-Jersey, New-York, Connecticut, and Rhode-Island: Of Aquanishuonigy the country of the Confederate Indians comprehending Aquanishuonigy proper, their places of residence, Ohio and Tuchsochruntie their deer hunting countries, Couchsachrage and Skaniadarade, their beaver hunting countries, of the Lakes Erie, Ontario, and Champlain, . . . exhibiting the antient and present seats of the Indian nations.” Used by permission.

All rights reserved

Printed in the United States of America

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Greene, Jack P., editor. | Yirush, Craig, 1968– editor.

Title: Exploring the bounds of liberty : political writings of colonial British America from the Glorious Revolution to the American Revolution / edited by Jack P. Greene and Craig B. Yirush with an introduction by Jack P. Greene ; Latin translations by Kathleen Alvis.

Description: Carmel, Indiana : Liberty Fund, Inc., 2018. | Includes index. Identifiers: LCCN 2017026534 | ISBN 9780865978997 (hardcover : alk. paper) Subjects: LCSH: United States—Politics and government—To 1775—Sources.

Classification: LCC E195 .E97 2018 | DDC 973.3—dc23

LC record available at

liberty fund, inc.

11301 North Meridian Street

Carmel, Indiana 46032-4564

Edition: current; Page: [v]


  • Introduction xi
  • Editors’ Note xxi
  • Translator’s Note xxiii
  • Acknowledgments xxv
  • volume i
    • 1. William Penn, The Excellent Priviledge of Liberty and Property (Philadelphia, 1687) 3
    • 2. [John Palmer], The Present State of New England (Boston, 1689) 47
    • 3. Gershom Bulkeley, The People’s Right to Election (1689) 95
    • 4. [Edward Littleton], The Groans of the Plantations (London, 1689) 115
    • 5. [Edward Rawson], The Revolution in New England Justified (1691) 147
    • 6. John Montague, Arguments Offer’d to the Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners (1701) 195
    • 7. [Thomas Hodge], Plantation Justice, London (1701) 215
    • 8. “An American” [Benjamin Harrison], An Essay upon the Government of the English Plantations on the Continent of America (London, 1701) 227
    • 9. [William Penn], The Allegations Against Proprietary Government Considered (1701) 279 Edition: current; Page: [vi]
    • 10. Reflections on the Printed Case of William Penn, Esq., in a Letter from Some Gentlemen of Pensilvania (1702) 287
    • 11. Anonymous, A Letter from a Merchant at Jamaica to a Member of Parliament in London (London, 1709) 297
    • 12. Anonymous, Truth Brought to Light (London, 1713) 313
    • 13. Anonymous, Some Instances of the Oppression and Male Administration of Col. Parke (1713) 327
    • 14. Samuel Mulford, Samuel Mulford’s Speech to the Assembly at New-York [New York, 1714] 345
    • 15. [Robert Hunter], Androboros: A Biographical Farce in Three Acts [New York, 1714] 355
    • 16. [James Spence and Roderick MacKenzie], The Groans of Jamaica (London, 1714) 395
    • 17. [William Gordon], A Representation of the Miserable State of Barbadoes (London, 1719) 463
    • 18. Elisha Cooke, Mr. Cooke’s Just and Seasonable Vindication (Boston, 1720) 485
    • 19. Anonymous, A True State of the Case between the Inhabitants of South Carolina, and the Lords Proprietors of That Province [London, 1720] 499
    • 20. Jeremiah Dummer, A Defence of the New-England Charters (Boston, 1721) 509
    • 21. [Samuel Cranston and] R. Ward, A Vindication of the Governour and Government of His Majesty’s Colony of Rhode-Island (Newport, 1721) 551
    • 22. David Lloyd, A Vindication of the Legislative Power (1725) 561
    • 23. James Logan, The Antidote (1725) 573
    • 24. John Bulkley, “Preface” in Roger Wolcott, Poetical Meditations (New London, 1725) 595 Edition: current; Page: [vii]
    • 25. J. N., The Liberty and Property of British Subjects Asserted (London, 1726) 629
    • 26. Daniel Dulany, The Right of the Inhabitants of Maryland to the Benefit of the English Laws (1728) 649
    • 27. “Amicus Reipublicae,” Trade and Commerce Inculcated ([Boston], 1731) 677
    • 28. “A Sincere Lover of Virginia” [Sir William Gooch], A Dialogue (Williamsburg, 1732) 725
  • volume ii
    • 29. William Smith, Mr. Smith’s Opinion Humbly Offered to the General Assembly of the Colony of New-York (New York, 1734) 743
    • 30. Joseph Murray, Mr. Murray’s Opinion Relating to the Courts of Justice in the Colony of New-York (New York, 1734) 809
    • 31. Sir John Randolph, The Speech of Sir John Randolph, upon His Being Elected Speaker of the House of Burgesses (Williamsburg, 1734) 869
    • 32. [“Americanus”], Letter to the Freeholders and Other Inhabitants of the Massachusetts-Bay (Newport, 1739) 875
    • 33. [Maurice Moore], A True and Faithful Narrative of the Proceedings of the House of Burgesses of North-Carolina (Williamsburg, 1740) 887
    • 34. [William Douglass], A Discourse Concerning the Currencies of the British Plantations in America (Boston, 1740) 933
    • 35. Thomas Baxter, A Letter from a Gentleman at Barbados to His Friend (London, 1740) 979
    • 36. Samuel Chew, The Speech of Samuel Chew, Esq. (Philadelphia, 1741) 1005 Edition: current; Page: [viii]
    • 37. “Remarks on the Maryland Government and Constitution,” American Magazine (1741) 1021
    • 38. [Jonathan Blenman], Remarks on Several Acts of Parliament (London, 1742) 1049
    • 39. Thomas Stephens, The Hard Case of the Distressed People of Georgia (London, 1742) 1117
    • 40. [Edward Trelawny], An Essay Concerning Slavery (London, 1746) 1131
    • 41. Samuel Nevill, Mr. Nevill’s Speech to the House of Representatives of the Colony of New-Jersey (New York Weekly Post Boy, May 19, 1746) 1165
    • 42. “A Freeholder,” “A Native of Maryland,” “Americano-Britannus,” “Philanthropos,” and Anonymous (Maryland Gazette, 1748) 1185
    • 43. [Archibald Kennedy], An Essay on the Government of the Colonies (1752) 1261
    • 44. Anonymous, The Voice of the People (Boston, 1754) 1293
    • 45. [Landon Carter], A Letter from a Gentleman in Virginia to the Merchants of Great Britain (London, 1754) 1301
    • 46. George Frye, The Case of Capt. George Frye (London, 1754) 1323
    • 47. Anonymous, A Short Account of the Interest and Conduct of the Jamaica Planters (London, 1754) 1359
    • 48. Stephen Hopkins, A True Representation of the Plan Formed at Albany, for Uniting All the British Northern Colonies (Newport, 1755) 1371
    • 49. “Philolethes” [Samuel Ward], A Short Reply to Mr. Stephen Hopkins’s Vindication (Newport, 1755) 1391
    • 50. [William Smith], A Brief State of the Province of Pennsylvania (London, 1755) 1399
    • 51. Anonymous, An Answer to an Invidious Pamphlet, Intituled, A Brief State of the Province of Pennsylvania (London, 1755) 1421 Edition: current; Page: [ix]
    • 52. “Veridicus” [Thomas Frearon], The Merchants, Factors, and Agents Residing at Kingston, Complainants, Against the Inhabitants of Spanish-Town (London, 1755) 1477
  • volume iii
    • 53. [William Livingston], An Address to His Excellency Sir Charles Hardy (New York, 1755) 1541
    • 54. Daniel Fowle, A Total Eclipse of Liberty (Boston, 1755) 1555
    • 55. J.W., A Letter from a Gentleman in Nova-Scotia, To a Person of Distinction on the Continent ([London], 1756) 1579
    • 56. T[homas] W[right] and [William Wragg], Letters to the South Carolina Gazette (May 13, June 5, 1756) 1589
    • 57. [Landon Carter], A Letter to a Gentleman in London, from Virginia (Williamsburg, 1759) 1613
    • 58. Richard Bland, A Letter to the Clergy of Virginia (Williamsburg, 1760) 1637
    • 59. [Joseph Galloway], A Letter to the People of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1760) 1659
    • 60. James Otis, A Vindication of the Conduct of the House of Representatives of the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay (Boston, 1762) 1679
    • 61. Massachusetts House of Representatives: Instructions to Jasper Mauduit (June 15, 1762) 1723
    • 62. John Camm, A Single and Distinct View of the Act, Vulgarly Entitled, The Two-Penny Act (Annapolis, 1763) 1737
    • 63. Richard Bland, The Colonel Dismounted: Or the Rector Vindicated (Williamsburg, 1764) 1777
    • 64. John Dickinson, A Speech, Delivered in the House of Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1764) 1835 Edition: current; Page: [x]
    • 65. Joseph Galloway, The Speech of Joseph Galloway, Delivered in the House of Assembly, of the Province of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1764) 1869
    • 66. “An American” [Arthur Lee], An Essay in Vindication of the Continental Colonies of America (London, 1764) 1933
    • 67. [Nicholas Bourke], The Privileges of the Island of Jamaica Vindicated (London, 1766) 1955
    • 68. [Robert Munford], The Candidates; Or, The Humours of a Virginia Election [1770] 2023
    • 69. Anonymous, Observations upon the Report Made by the Board of Trade against the Grenada Laws (London, 1770) 2053
    • 70. John Gardiner, The Argument or Speech of John Gardiner, Esquire (St. Christopher, 1770) 2085
    • 71. “A Freeman” [John J. Zubly], Calm and Respectful Thoughts on the Negative of the Crown (Savannah, 1772) 2123
    • 72. “A Planter” [Edward Long], Candid Reflections upon the Judgement on What Is Commonly Called the Negroe-Cause (London, 1772) 2149
    • 73. Samuel Estwick, Considerations on the Negroe Cause (London, 1773) 2193
    • 74. A Member of the Assembly [John Day], An Essay on the Present State of the Province of Nova-Scotia [Halifax, 1774] 2231
    • 75. Anonymous, Considerations on the Imposition of 4½ Per Cent; Collected on Grenada, Without Grant of Parliament (London, 1774) 2249
  • Index 2269
Edition: current; Page: [1541]

Exploring the Bounds of Liberty

53: [William Livingston], An Address to His Excellency Sir Charles Hardy (New York, 1755)

When Sir Charles Hardy assumed the governorship of New York in 1755, William Livingston, a young man who had already gained a reputation as an effective political commentator, greeted him with this pamphlet. Livingston’s ostensible intention was to present Hardy with “a general account of our political state,” and he emphasized the colony’s mixed political and cultural heritage from its Dutch and English past, stressing its inheritance “from such ancestors” of “the highest relish, for civil and religious LIBERTY,” which at once made New Yorkers susceptible to political divisions and “party-rage,” produced “an unbounded love of English-Liberty,” and made them passionate advocates for religious liberty. Religious liberty, he explained, meant that, in contrast to a few who had an excessive “fondness for the English hierarchy,” they mostly had a strong “aversion to ecclesiastical establishments,” a “levelling principle,” he explained, that was “no innovation, in our colony constitution; but rather one of its original and fundamental ingredients.” With these observations on religion, Livingston got to the underlying intent of his pamphlet, which was to enlist Hardy in the fight over whether newly founded King’s College, now Columbia University, should have a religious affiliation. “The inhabitants of this colony,” he explained, “are equally protestants” and expected “an equal indulgence from the government. As they are alike loyal subjects,” he continued, “they hope for the same privileges and protection.” Closing with a declaration of Edition: current; Page: [1542] his opposition to “the pernicious doctrine, that the people have no right, to inspect into, or animadvert upon, the actions of their superiors,” he warned Hardy that by “distinguishing one persuasion, and depressing the rest,” a governor would, “instead of glory and applause, earn only insecurity, and reproach.” (J.P.G.)

Edition: current; Page: [1543]




His Excellency


Captain General and Governor in Chief of

the Province of New-York, and Territories

thereon depending in America,

and Vice-Admiral of the same.

By the AUTHOR of a Weekly Paper,




Edition: current; Page: [1544]

To his Excellency Sir Charles Hardy, &c.

May it please your Excellency,

Tho’ the people of this province, claim not the honour, of a personal acquaintance with your Excellency; yet his Majesty’s advancing you to this exalted station, when the honour of his imperial crown, and the success of the British arms, so greatly depend upon the wisdom of your conduct, is an illustrious proof of your Excellency’s superior merit. At this important crisis, when an enemy equally aspiring and perfidious, is insolently meditating, to tarnish the lustre of his diadem; and trample on the dignity of the nation; it is to be presumed, that our august sovereign, in appointing a governor, for this part of the theatre of all their intended violence and insult, was peculiarly directed in his choice, by his princely wisdom and the maturest deliberation. From this obvious reflection, and the concurrent reports of your Excellency’s amiable character, the universal joy and acclamation upon your long-wished-for arrival, was a tribute of honour, not more due to your Excellency, than cordially offered by the people. ’Twas the natural expression of minds over-flowing with gratitude, for that paternal and royal bounty, which had provided them a ruler, with talents to plan; and resolution to execute.

This address, Sir, will perhaps appear, not more singular in the materials that compose, than in the motives which inspire it. The author is neither led by custom; nor urged by interest. He intends not to play the panegyrist; but to communicate the sentiments,—the genuine sentiments of his heart. Instead of congratulating your Excellency with the smoke of incense; he begs leave to approach you, with the more substantial sacrifice of sincerity and affection. An oblation this! of greater value with men of sense; and therefore, to you, Sir, more acceptable, than the solemn farce of ceremony, and the accustomed delusions of complement. He would, with the greatest humility, convey to your judicious ear, what those in your eminent station, seldom hear; and what it is the interest of many, they should never hear. He is prompted to do himself this honour, by an ardent affection for the prosperity of his country; and the warmest wishes for the glory and tranquility of your administration. In defence of the former, he has long toiled with indefatigable vigour; and to promote the latter, he would as chearfully lend his aid, by opening to your Excellency’s view, such interesting scenes, as the artful and designing, may endeavour to misrepresent, or conceal.

Edition: current; Page: [1545]

Tho’ your Excellency has entered a tempestuous ocean; yet nothing is easier, than to out-ride the storm. It is, in short, only refusing the command, to those who will rather sink the vessel, than not govern the master.

Yes,—may it please your Excellency, I have known men who were foremost in resounding a governor’s fame; and having rendered him odious to the people, foremost in exciting a clamour against him. That we have still amongst us, such specious deceivers, I hope you, Sir, by a suitable precaution, may never experience.

To inspect into their own affairs, not blindly trusting to favourites, is the most durable security and renown, of those at the political helm. It was therefore a wise remark, and worthy the princely mouth that uttered it, which an Emperor of Persia made to a creature of his, who told him, that he degraded the royal majesty, by being seen too much by the people. “No, replied the monarch, it is owing to the tricks and frauds of flatterers, that a prince is shut up in solitude; whence they themselves may have the larger scope, to tyrannize in his name. He who would truly reign, must see all, and direct all.”

Against such men, and their insidious devices, your Excellency will, doubtless, be ever on your guard. They kiss only with a view to betray; and in the language of an inspired potentate, tho’ their words are smoother than oil, yet they be very swords: Sedulously disguising their own counsels; prone to blacken others; and alike imperious and fawning. To keep men of candour and sincerity at a distance, they will misrepresent, decry, and traduce them. The clamours too of the people, are often, by such crafty seducers, kept from a governor’s knowledge; and he is murmured at for measures, which he believes to be popular.

If they cannot lord it in the name of their master; they will strive to create faction against him: And if to them he resigns the sway; his will be the reproach of their wanton domination. But, thanks to heaven! their power of doing mischief, is decreased, in proportion as their mischievous designs, have been explored and divulged. To be deaf therefore to their wily blandishments, is certain security and fame; as a resignation to their misguidance, is inevitable infelicity and ruin.

Too often, has it been the misfortune of rulers, to repose an excessive confidence in pretended friends, who are the worst of enemies. Alas, how greatly exposed! surrounded as they are, by subtle and interested men; while the virtuous and modest, retire with commiseration and sorrow, because Edition: current; Page: [1546] they abhor flattery; and will not ensnare. They wait till they are sought, and seldom, very seldom, are they inquired after. Ill men on the contrary, are impudent and insinuating; dextrous at dissimulation; and to sooth the passions of those in power, ever ready to violate honour and conscience. How unhappy therefore is a governor, open to the artifices of such fallacious favourites, and neglecting to encourage men of veracity and a becoming freedom!

The author of this address, has made it an invariable rule, to flatter no man. He has unfolded the pernicious schemes of designing politicians, without passion or prejudice. He never pursued any interest, but that of the common weal; and thence the malice of those, whose views were inconsistent with the public good. For this he hath been threatned and defamed:—For this, been flattered and cajoled. But as he neither courts the favour, nor dreads the frowns, of the great; he has been alike uninfluenced by hope or fear; and equally despised their vengeance, or applause.

Instead therefore of imitating, the pompous adulation and parade, of common addresses; he humbly begs leave to testify his high respect for your Excellency, by laying before you a general account of our political state.

This would probably, to the superficial and empty, appear less courtly and polite: But will, I am confident, by a gentleman of your Excellency’s judgment, be esteemed more useful and sincere.

I shall therefore, Sir, without farther apology, beg leave to acquaint you, that the greatest number of our inhabitants, are descended either from those, who with a brave and invincible spirit, repelled the spanish tyranny in the Netherlands; or from those, who for their ever-memorable opposition, to the arbitrary measures of King Charles Ist, were constrained to seek a refuge, from the relentless sword of persecution, in the then inhospitable wilds of America.

From such ancestors, we inherit the highest relish, for civil and religious Liberty. A patrimony, more permanent and invaluable, than the most affluent riches, or extensive possessions! Inamoured as we are with freedom, we are at the same time, too incurious, minutely to examine our happy constitution. Hence we are easily captivated, with appearances, instead of realities. This fatal inattention is incouraged, by some, who under the gilded title of patriots, are daily forging chains for their fellow subjects. And indeed, while the popular pulse beats high for privileges, but incompetently understood, it is easy for a man of fortune, and influence, to raise numbers Edition: current; Page: [1547] at his call. Such a temper in our inhabitants, joined to so inglorious a negligence, gives ample scope, to the restless and insatiate spirit of ambition. And when the mock-patriot, thinks fit to sound the alarm, the administration is tumbled into anarchy; and the province thrown into convulsions: Or is he not indulged with an immoderate share of power, his disappointment swells into indignation and revenge. And thus falls the public peace, a dreadful sacrifice to private pique and resentment.

With too much of this spirit, have our most important concerns, for many years past, been conducted. We have seen a late administration, tho’ far from unexceptionable, frequently embarrassed, and opposed, thro’ a pretended zeal for the public: And a mighty faction erected, upon the sordid foundation, of a personal quarrel. The smallest oversights in government, were then represented, as premeditated encroachments on the rights of the subject; and errors, to the best of men unavoidably incident, aggravated into crimes, inexpiable, and enormous. Instead of the cool deliberate voice of reason, matters of the utmost moment, were managed by the virulence of party-rage. On the pile of vulgar error, they mounted their glory; and spread artificial mists, before the eyes of credulous simplicity. To display their consequence, they created monsters only to quell them; as Hercules demanded a Hydra, for the illustration of his valour. The bulk of the people, the mean while, were unhappily divided, as he who bore the sway, or they who, aimed at usurping it, could gain the ascendant. Thus were we rendered the pliant tools of those, whose invariable principle is, absolutely to rule, or absolutely to oppose a governor. To point out persons, would be a task, both unnecessary and invidious. Your Excellency’s superior penetration, will soon discover, those men of dark intrigues. And by holding the reins of government with an equal and steady hand, you will infallibly disappoint their designs, whether they aim at governing, or confounding the province.

Apt as we are, to split into parties, thro’ a zeal for liberty and our misconception, in many cases, of the true interest of the province; we are, however, when united, an easy and a generous people: Easy in our submission to a wise and prudent administration; and generous—in supporting, with a voluntary and unsparing hand, the true dignity and lustre of government. The only requisite therefore, to render a gentleman of your Excellency’s distinguished station; as happy, as eminent, is an equal distribution of good offices, to persons of every denomination. The seditious and aspiring, who Edition: current; Page: [1548] would swell their importance, by means of a slavish faction, and a misrepresentation of men of virtue and independence, will undoubtedly meet with your contempt and abhorrence.

Properly to describe our unshaken loyalty, and indissoluble attachment, to his Majesty’s most sacred person, and illustrious house, should be the task of a prompter genius, and a more accomplished pen. So universal a warmth, for the glorious revolution, and its more glorious consequences, animates every breast, that the least disaffaction, to the protestant descent, in the imperial house of Hanover, is a blemish, from which we can boast, a total exemption. Nor to be admired at indeed, is this our exemplary allegiance; It is a virtue naturally resulting, from an unbounded love of English-liberty, which to our august sovereign, and his royal father, has ever been an object, of the most diligent attention. Such unparalleled fidelity, to the best of Kings, must necessarily ensure to his representative, an obedience the most chearful, and undissembled. And while your Excellency, continues deaf, to the evil insinuations of those, who aim at inordinate power, our submission to your pleasure, will be as unlimited, as we have reason to hope, your administration will be just.

Our religious character, is as multiform, as our origin is various. Popery however, is not to be enumerated, among our several professions. We equally detest the doctrines, and the interests of Rome. With the same passion for Freedom, so strongly apparent, in our secular concerns, are we also inspired, in matters of religion. And different as our sentiments are on that momentous subject, (bating a few, whose fondness for the English hierarchy, inclines them to wish for what they would perhaps, be the first to deplore,) we universally concur, in an aversion to ecclesiastical establishments. This leveling principle, as some are pleased most improperly to stile it, is no innovation, in our colony constitution; but rather, one of its original and fundamental ingredients. It is a principle, to which we owe our numbers,—our prosperity,—our opulence. A principle indispensibly requisite, in the formation of every infant state: A principle in fine, chiefly adverted to, in the capitulation and surrender of this province, by the Dutch; and in the conditions upon which it was settled, by the Duke of York: The latter, expressly declaring, “that every township, shall pay their own minister, according to such agreement, as they shall make with him; the ministers being elected, by the major part, of the housholders and inhabitants of the town.” And let me humbly presume, to assure your Excellency, that Edition: current; Page: [1549] nothing is more odious to the people, who have the honour to be governed by you, than religious tests, and discriminations, for civil purposes. Jests and discriminations, so expressly repugnant, to the very genius of our provincial constitution. Distinctions of this kind, are indeed artfully set up by some, with whom divide et impera,1 is a never-failing maxim. They industriously administer fuel for contention, between those, who are weak enough to submit to their guidance; and such, as resolutely refuse the same implicite subjection. By giving a preference to the former, they necessarily excite the resentment of the latter. Thus are we divided, that we may be weakened; and consequently more easily subdued.

This important scene, in our political drama, ’tis presumed will no sooner open to your Excellency’s view, than be wisely closed, by your vigilant circumspection: Your happy arrival, forbodes the speedy abolition, of so obnoxious a distinction: and encourages every honest man, of whatever profession, to hope for that protection and confidence, which real merit, seldom fails to receive, from gentlemen of your benevolent disposition, and courtly refinement.

To conclude this address, without some account of our college, which has long been the subject of animated debate, would, considering the importance of the dispute, be an unpardonable omission. It is universally esteemed, an affair deserving the utmost attention, as its defeat or success, must eventually issue, either in the corroboration or destruction, of our sacred and political privileges. I cannot, for this reason, think it a matter, altogether unworthy your Excellency’s notice. Every good magistrate, will make the care of his people, in some degree, his own care. Nor would any wise ruler, in a mixt government at least, chuse to be unacquainted, with the inclinations of his inferiors; or the principles, and motives, that actuate the contending parties. The body politic, as well as the natural body, cannot be preserved in its bloom and vigour, without a competent knowledge, of its constitution, and frame. These considerations embolden me, to implore your Excellency’s patience, while I exhibit a summary sketch, of the rise, progress, and present state of our college. Aware of the flatness, inevitably attending historical narrations, I shall confine myself to all possible brevity. Your Excellency may perhaps condescend, after the present hurry, Edition: current; Page: [1550] occasioned by your joyful accession; to peruse some late papers, in which this interesting topic, hath been more diffusely canvassed.

From the first settlement of this province, to the year 1746, the education of youth, however advancive of its prosperity, was shamefully, and almost totally neglected. A jealousy of our neighbours, whose attention to the progress of science, was nearly coeval with the birth of their colonies, at length gave a spring to our ambition. Measures were not concerted, for the cultivation of literature, and the glorious introduction of light, and knowledge. As we are divided, into a great variety of protestant denominations, who all participated in the expence of this noble design, reason dictated, justice demanded, and policy required, the most liberal constitution. Sensible of this,—let the authors of the scheme, with confusion hear the story! sensible of this; and fearful of a disappointment, party-spirit concealed its malignant purpose, of ingrossing the government of the intended seminary; and contracting its basis, to subserve the narrow aims of a faction. Concealed it,—till several thousand pounds were raised by public lottery, for its erection. To their own perpetual infamy, and the general, tho’ unmerited dishonour of their persuasion, a small juncto2 of the church, hatched this baneful cokatrice. To carry the project into execution, before the public had the least intimation of their latent designs, they privately conspired an establishment by charter, in which they reserved to themselves, the power, the exorbitant power, of ruling the college, according to their sovereign, uncontrolable pleasure. The subversion of this fastidious babel, was owing to his late excellency governor Clinton; who boldly refused a patent, for so odious a monopoly. The evidence of this transaction, accidentally reached the ear of a late writer, who foreseeing the meditated mischief, exposed it to the world, in a course of papers then publishing, under the title of the Independent Reflector.

Unaw’d and unabash’d, they still prosecuted their measures, with unremitted assiduity. Measures, peculiarly detrimental to their country; and adapted to subjugate the whole province, to their boundless dominion. The detection of these subdolous machinations, at once inflamed the resentment of the contrivers; and inspirited them with fresh ardor, for its speedy accomplishment. Their conduct, blended with fraud and imposition, became in the year 1753, so shameless and rampant, that instead of entering upon a detail of particulars, tenderness to their reputations, enjoins me to throw Edition: current; Page: [1551] over it the veil of silence. The discovery of that, and several other gradations, towards the mark of their ambitious views, will doubtless be made by your Excellency, upon a farther acquaintance with your province.

Permit me then, Sir, to inform you, that tho’ the several branches of the legislature, had, by the sanction of a law, reserved solely to themselves, the disposition of the sums raised for a college; and deposited them in the hands of trustees, impowered to set them at interest; and made accountable to the legislative body; yet without their consent or approbation, those very trustees on the 20th of May, 1754, petitioned his honour the lieutenant governor, for a charter. A charter, clogged with discriminating tests, and formed to gratify the ambition and arrogance of an aspiring party! The injustice and impolicy, of incumbering a new colony of protestant refugees, of various persuasions, with an ecclesiastical test, tho’ strongly insisted upon, in a protest of one of their own members, were arguments insufficient to dissuade them, from so partial and unrighteous a scheme. A scheme unnaturally calculated, to exclude from the President’s Chair, every man in the province, not in communion with an episcopal church; however distinguished for his merit, his genius, his erudition, or his loyalty.

The people, who have long felt the benign influences of his most gracious Majesty’s auspicious reign, were naturally incensed at an innovation, which obliquely impeached, their loyalty to their Sovereign, and their affection for the illustrious house of Hanover. That such would be the effect, of this extraordinary procedure, was obvious to two gentlemen of the board of council, who protested against granting the petition. Its tendency to foment feuds and animosities, amongst his majesty’s subjects, at this critical juncture, is particularly alledged, among other irrefragable reasons, assigned for their dissent. These appear on the minutes of council, which your Excellency hath a right, at all times to consult. Tho’ a majority of the committee of that honourable board (two of whom, [surprising to relate] were among the petitioning trustees) advised his honour in favour of the petition: Yet, so far were the people from being satisfied, that the current of all public and private conversation, ran violently, not only against the exclusive clauses, but any kind of charter constitution. Your Excellency will reasonably expect, that the sense of the community, discovered itself in the grand assembly of their representatives. It did so. The flame which had long been enkindling, in the great mass of the people, impatient of further restraint, at length, broke out in the house; and the trustees were Edition: current; Page: [1552] ordered, to give an account of their proceedings. At this juncture (on the 31st of October) his honour, after five months consideration of the charter, gave his fiat for its passing the seals: And in a few days after, the assembly resolved, to apply the money to no other college, than such, as should be incorporated and established, by legislative act. A bill for that purpose, was accordingly brought in, read and committed; and afterwards printed, for the public animadversion. When the Dutch, the most numerous of our inhabitants, had embarked in the affair, by petitioning the house, for a clause in the act, establishing a theological professor of their communion; and the popular voice, was loud against the charter, it was reasonably hoped, that its partizans would have dropped the project. A project, that without the approbation of the people, could never attain, the true ends of an institution, for the education of youth. But instead of a cordial concurrence in the bill, it was by the authors of the charter, vehemently opposed. They vainly relied on their imaginary power, to vanquish their adversaries; and wheedle the Dutch, into an acquiescence in their measures, by obtaining a new charter, which only in part conferred, what the latter had by their petition, requested of the assembly. Flushed with these sanguine prospects, the majority of the governors, appointed by the first charter, procured without the consent of the Dutch, a supplemental patent for a professor. Soon after, on the 12th of June, just before your Excellency’s expected arrival, they petitioned the house (in the absence of several of the members averse to the scheme) for a confirmation of both the charters; and their investure with the monies, set a part for the use of a college. But agreeable to the general spirit of sundry petitions from the counties, to their respective representatives, the consideration of this extraordinary request, was postponed till after September next.

Loud and universal, was the joy of the public; who in this interval, impatiently waited your Excellency’s appearance, to give a favourable turn to so important an affair. Whether this will best be effected by a dissolution (the customary complement on the arrival of a new governor, scarce ever omitted; and strongly commended in the first address of the general assembly to Mr. Clinton) or any other measures, is not mine, but your Excellency’s, to determine.

From this simple relation of facts, might be deduced several observations, to display in a stronger light, the peculiar genius and temper of a province, which not more joyfully hails, your Excellency’s safe arrival; than it congratulates itself, on the delightful prospect, of your appeasing Edition: current; Page: [1553] our commotions, by a righteous administration. But as I have already, Sir, too long trespassed on your patience, I shall only take the liberty to say, that as the inhabitants of this colony, are equally protestants, they expect an equal indulgence from the government. As they are alike loyal subjects, they hope for the same privilege and protection: To secure this priceless jewel, their ancestors abandoned their native soil; crossed the perilous ocean; and settled a howling wilderness. No wonder then, if to their posterity, this remains ever dear, and beyond all estimation precious. No wonder, if a partial distribution of honours, is ey’d with jealousy; and produces disaffection, and clamour. Less marvel still, if a governor, for distinguishing one persuasion, and depressing the rest, should, instead of glory and applause, earn only insecurity, and reproach.

Besides these unquestioned privileges of Englishmen, I claim no higher boon, than the unmolested immunity, of treating public men, and measures, with the freedom and impartiality, always indulged by the best administrations, nor even restrained but by the worst. To me, utterly unintelligible is the pernicious doctrine, that the people have no right, to inspect into, or animadvert upon, the actions of their superiors. A doctrine, fit only for a tyrant to enjoyn, and slaves to obey. A doctrine, invented by wicked men, to screen their flagitious deeds, from public cognizance, and public censure. Truth, and rectitude, dread not the closest inquiry: And guilt, and iniquity, ought to be detected, arraigned, and condemned, however gorgeously apparelled, or highly exalted. In these sentiments, I am sure of being joined, by every man, whose personal merit, (like that of your Excellency’s) amidst the greatest external splendor, constitutes his real,—his substantial dignity.

With singular delight, Sir, we anticipate the superior blessings, to arise from the elevation, of so humane and beneficient a gentleman, to the seat of government. A station, that will enable him, to exercise diffusive and god-like benevolence—to be the patron of the oppressed,—the scourge of the oppressor,—to administer relief to the necessitous—and by his powerful authority and example, at once to encourage, and to embellish, virtue. By virtue here, I mean not, a superstitious devotion, an implicit faith, or a bigotted attachment to those solemn fooleries, too often miscalled, by that venerable name; but an habitual disposition of doing good to all; of injuring none; and of promoting the happiness of human kind.

This is glory, solid, intrinsic, and undecaying! Undecaying indeed!—for such is the effulgence of genuine worth; and such the transcendent dignity, Edition: current; Page: [1554] that beams from patriotism and public-spirit, that the trophies thence acquired, will triumph over all the monuments, erected to exterior and advantitious grandeur. And while the rich, and the fortunate, are had in momentary remembrance by portraits and statues; the hero and the patriot, will survive in the affections of posterity; and disseminate their actions, thro’ distant ages.

That your Excellency may long deserve, and as long enjoy, the smiles of your royal master; the love of a happy people; and the benediction of the King of Kings.—That you may constantly be illuminated, by the boundless source of light; and having closed this mortal scene, with great renown and length of days, be finally advanced, to the supreme honours of immortality,—is the fervent prayer of him, who desires to be ever esteemed, what he sincerely is, with the profoundest submission,

Sir, Your Excellency’s most humble, most dutiful,
and most obedient servant,
The AUTHOR of the Watch-Tower.
Edition: current; Page: [1555]

54: Daniel Fowle, A Total Eclipse of Liberty (Boston, 1755)

Not all threats to individual liberty in colonial British America came from corrupt or arbitrary metropolitan officials. As this selection shows, some came directly from the elected legislatures themselves. In the fall of 1754, the Massachusetts Assembly took such offense at The Monster of Monsters (this selection will be included in the ebook-only edition) that it ordered it burned by the common hangman and set about an investigation of who wrote and who published the tract. The investigation led to the printer Daniel Fowle who denied that he had printed it but admitted to selling it in his shop. After rigorous examination by the legislature, he further admitted that he had obtained the pamphlets he sold from two other printers, his brother Zachariah and Royal Tyler who operated another printing establishment. On suspicion that Daniel was the actual publisher, however, the Assembly ordered him committed to the common jail (here spelled “gaol”) and denied contact with the outside world. Written while he was in jail, this selection is mostly an account of his disagreeable confinement for several days in a rat-infested and stinking cell and of the effects of his confinement upon the health of his wife.

But Fowle also used it to protest the Assembly’s venting its “intemperate Zeal . . . upon some of those very innocent Persons who gave” it its authority and condemned its action in confining him as “an unheard of Attack upon the Liberty of an Englishman.” Dismissing the objection that such a protest was “a Freedom not becoming a private Person, to complain of a real or supposed Injury received by those in Authority, and especially of those who are look’d Edition: current; Page: [1556] upon [as] the Guardians of our Liberty, and the Fathers of the Country,” Fowle charged that the Assembly’s assumption of the commitment power constituted “an unjust President” that could “be of fatal Consequence to a free Constitution” and that implied that the members of the Assembly “were not to be accountable to their Constituents.” But no “State could be . . . happy, except the Magistrates were as Subject to the Laws, as private Persons were to the Magistrates,” he argued, asserting that representatives expressed the “Voice of the People” only when they acted “according to the Laws of the Land, or at least, not inconsistent with them, and their Conduct is agreeable to the Constitution of a free People” and that it would “be very absurd, to suppose [that] when a free People unite in choosing a small Number of Men to transact the publick Affairs with Dispatch” they gave “up that Power which of right belongs to them, and not only so, but” gave “them a Power to oppress and distress them as they please.” Declaring the Assembly’s action as “purely ARBITRARY” and “a new Thing in the Land,” he denied that he had been dealt “with in a due Course and Process of Law” and cited an array of authorities, including the French philosopher Montesquieu, the political writer Henry Care, and the English legal theorist Sir John Fortescue, to show that, in the English jurisprudential tradition, he had “been treated contrary to, and in direct Violation of all the Laws of the English Nation” and that imprisonment without due process constituted a form of “civil Death.” “Strange!” it seemed to Fowle, “That Men who have had Liberty and Property continually sounding in their Ears from the Press and the Pulpit; even from their Infancy, should be guilty of this unaccountable Conduct,” and he reminded his readers that the proper venue for trying supposed wrongs was the courts, operating with “the Grand Privilege of Trials, by our Country, that is by Juries.” (J.P.G.)

Edition: current; Page: [1557]

A Total Eclipse of


Being a true and faithful Account of the

Arraignment, and Examination of Daniel Fowle

before the Honourable House of Representatives

of the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay in

New-England, Octob. 24th 1754. barely on Suspicion

of his being concern’d in Printing and Publishing a

Pamphlet, intitled, The Monster of Monsters.

Also his Imprisonment and Sufferings in a

Stinking Stone Gaol, without the Liberty of Pen,

Ink or Paper, and not allowed to see his nearest

Friends, nor to write a Line to his Wife; with

many other Incidents and Aggravations; which

shews it to be Monstrous Treatment.

Written by Himself.

  • ———O give me Liberty;
  • For were ev’n Paradise itself my Prison,
  • Still I should long to leap the Crystal Walls.
  • Dryd.

BOSTON, Printed in the Year 1755.

Edition: current; Page: [1558]


Daniel Fowle
Fowle, Daniel

To the Freemen of New-England.


There are many who imagine, that unless their Performances are dedicated to some Great Person of the first Rank, they loose their Value, and are soon thrown aside as useless—yet at the same Time are so lavish of their Talents, that they think themselves happy if they are indulged the Favour of being quite extravagant in stuffing the same with fulsome Complements, but laughing in their Sleves, to use an old homely Saying, while they are endeavouring to ingraciate themselves into Favor with those they have no real Regard for.

But the Author of the following Piece thinks himself arriv’d almost to the Pinnacle of Honour, that he can take the Liberty, and hopes to be indulg’d the Favour, of addressing himself to a great Number of Freemen, (not forgetting the Clergy, who I heard was roused on this Occasion, as well they might, some of whom came to see him afterwards, though he was condemn’d without Benefit of Clergy) in whose Veins there is yet a free Circulation of that noble Blood, some of which was formerly spilt, to procure the Privileges we now enjoy under the best of Kings, and that without the least ECLIPSE, unless at some particular Times, when Pride and Ambition fires the Breasts of those who have had some little Share in the Honours of Government; but quite mistaking the End and Design thereof, have run themselves into such wrong Notions by their intemperate Zeal, which has even vented itself upon some of those very innocent Persons who gave them their Authority; which for want of Skill to conduct properly, or what is worse, such an high Opinion of themselves, that Reason for a while has been dethron’d, and the Imagination they have had of Power above all Law and Reason, has taken Place.—As I am now only speaking of what has been in Times past, I hope no one will think I am aiming at any Person’s Conduct in the present Government of Affairs—No, Gentlemen, this is only to put you upon your Guard; I have not the false Complaisance to Flatter those who I am well assured had rather have Truth deliver’d with Simplicity, than only the Appearance thereof in a pompous Stile; and therefore shall take the Liberty of subscribing my self your sincere Friend and humble Servant, while you continue stedfast, and do not give up your Birth-Rights.—

D. F.
Edition: current; Page: [1559]


Candid Reader,

It is customary for Authors to apologize by Way of Preface to the World for their Writings; and surely those of a low Class I think, ought never to publish without one. Indeed such great Men as Lock, Pope, Dryden, Shakespear, Milton, or Butler, need none to their Works, but common Scriblers should offer an Excuse for troubling the Public; which happens to fall to my Lot at this Time. I must acknowlege, I should have been glad had I remain’d in Obscurity as I have done for many Years, and slid out of this noisy World unnoticed: But as there is an over-ruling Providence, and every Thing will in the End turn to the Advantage of Truth and Honesty; sometimes even in this Life, but most certainly will in the future.—So I desire to be resign’d, waiting for the Event.

But not to be too tedious, or raise the Expectation of the Reader, with more in my Title and Preface, than there is in the Book itself, shall only observe, That I doubt not the following Piece will be thought by many, if not all, who peruse it, to be a new, remarkable, unprecedented Procedure, especially as it was done in the English Nation: Therefore shall submit this plain, honest Account of the whole Matter, to your better Judgment, who shall take the Pains to give it a reading; and doubt not all proper Allowance will be made, as it is the first Time the Author has taken the Freedom, or rather Courage, to venture without a Pilot, as he would not willingly have any one even suspected to be concern’d, lest it should be accounted a Libel, and upon that very SUSPICION, be thrown into a stinking Stone Gaol, though never so innocent, and suffer in the same Manner as if he was the real Author: without Law, nay, contrary to Law, and in direct Opposition even to the poor dim Light of Nature, if I am not very much mistaken. And as I have experienc’d the same for another Person (and it may perhaps be the Lot of many more, unless divine Providence, in the Use of appointed Means, interpose) yet I would not wish my greatest Enemy to remain there so long, unless I was sure it was lawful to take away his Life, as it had like to have cost me mine—therefore would not publish this Affair, if I apprehended any other Person would be thought the Author besides myself, or any ways accessory thereto; but I am well assur’d the plain unpolish’d Stile it appears in, will convince them to the contrary, and that it is only their humble Servant,

D. F.
Edition: current; Page: [1560]


Perhaps there has not any Occurrence for many Years happen’d, especially, in this Country, which has occasion’d more Speculation than a late Proceeding of the Lower House of Assembly against the Author of the following Piece, only upon Suspicion of his being concern’d in printing and publishing a Pamphlet entitled, The MONSTER of MONSTERS.*

Had Expresses been immediately dispatch’d, the News could not have flew quicker to the most distant Parts of the Province, and the other Governments upon the Continent; and no Doubt will be the Wonder of our Mother Country, when they have a true Account of this notable Affair, which if the Reader will but have Patience a while, he will find it was an unheard of Attack upon the Liberty of an Englishman, than which scarcely any Thing is dearer, if he has but the Spirit of a Man: And as my Antagonists in a few Months will become weak as other Men, and loose their Strength, as Sampson did when his Locks was shorne, no one can object, but that I shall be upon an Equality with them, so that what was done only by a pretended Power, (which is no very good Character, when Laws human and divine, as well as Reason, are set aside) will have a due Consideration.

And though it may be thought by some, a Freedom not becoming a private Person, to complain of a real or supposed Injury received by those in Authority, and especially of those who are look’d upon the Guardians of our Liberty, and the Fathers of the Country; yet when its done with a becoming Modesty, and proper Deference, surely every Man who is born free, and especially the “English, who deserve the Liberties they enjoy; and are so much the more worthy of them, as they have spared no Pains to preserve them, whose Breasts are all on Fire for Liberty:”

I say, when this is the Case, every Man, who has not justly forfeited it, will think he has a Right to vindicate himself, and have the same Satisfaction, in Proportion, as if the Injury had been done to any Gentleman of Fortune, or Edition: current; Page: [1561] high Character in Life, as an unjust President establish’d or conniv’d at, may be of fatal Consequence to a free Constitution. To use the Words of One who speaking of the different Forms of Government in Europe, says, “None of them appears so perfect as that of England: Here it is that we find united all the Qualifications necessary to make the People happy, and the Prince great, as long as he is just.”

It was the Opinion of Solon, “That a State could not be happy, except the Magistrates were as Subject to the Laws, as private Persons were to the Magistrates. According to the Sentiments of this venerable Sage, the Constitution of a Government should be so framed, as to keep an Equilibrium between the People and the Prince.” As what I am now writing is only an Introduction to something of an extraordinary Nature, hope I shall be excused, and not incur the Censure of being too verbose, as perhaps it might give too great a Shock to some Persons, and would scarcely be credited, unless their Minds were prepared to receive the Truth before hand, which is my Intention.

And as it is an acknowledged Truth, “That nothing is so dear to an honest Man, as his good Name, nor ought he to neglect the just Vindication of his Character, when it is injuriously attack’d by any;”—so this, I think, being my Case, I hope to make it appear to every honest, unprejudiced Person, that I have been most severely, cruelly, and unjustly treated; and that I have a Right from the Laws of GOD and Man to make my Complaint, without a partial Respect to Persons; and no one will have Reason to say, I speak Evil of Dignities, or of the Rulers of the People; for I am determin’d to stick close to the Truth, and certainly that will prevail with those who have any Regard for their own Freedom, or their Posterity—

And though I have had many Thoughts concerning the Publication of this Affair, I now think upon the whole, it is for the best; and therefore shall give the Publick the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth; for should this be overlook’d, our Children perhaps may pay Reverence to a grey-headed Error; therefore this ought not to be wink’d at, least it should take deeper Root;—but as a faithful Physicion would act, it ought to be cut out, and thrown away as an eating Canker, which in a little Time would eat out the Vitals of that noble Principle of Liberty, for the Sake of which our pious Forefathers ventur’d their Lives, and all that was dear to them.

I would endeavour to use soft Words where the Subject will allow of it, so as not to stir up, but turn away Wrath; and smoother than Oyl, but at the same Time to cut like a Razor; to make it appear I am Serious, and in Earnest—And Edition: current; Page: [1562] therefore shall conclude this introductive Part with an Extract from the Letters of Pliny* viz. Pomponius Secundus, the famous tragic Poet, whenever his Friend and he differed about the retaining or rejecting any Thing in his Writings, used to say I appeal to the People; and accordingly by their Silence or Applause, adopted either his own or his Friends Sentiments: such was the Regard he paid to the Populace!

A Total Eclipse of Liberty.

On the 24th of October 1754, while at Dinner, I was apprehended by an Order from the Lower House of Assembly sign’d Thomas Hubbard Speaker, on Suspicion of publishing a Pamphlet, entitled THE MONSTER OF MONSTERS;§ and forthwith to make my Appearance before said House to answer to such Questions as should be ask’d me relating to the above Edition: current; Page: [1563] Pamphlet;—But before I could be admitted, was confined in the Lobby about an Hour, then was by the Messenger called before the House; and after my proper Complements before that Grand Assembly, was interrogated in the following Manner, by Mr. Speaker, viz. Do you know any Thing of the Printing this?—Holding it out—Upon which I desired it in my own Hands; which was granted:—After looking over it some Time, I said, it was not of my printing, neither had I any such Letters in my Print-House:—After some considerable Pause, and the Gentlemen looking upon one another, I was ask’d, Whether I knew any thing relating to said Book?—I then desir’d the Opinion of the House, Whether I must answer to that Question? But notwithstanding this Edition: current; Page: [1564] reasonable Request, there was no Vote pass’d, that I could perceive, excepting three or four Gentlemen said Yes, Yes, very earnestly: Upon which I inform’d them, I could not say, I had no Concern; for as I heard there was such a Pamphlet to sell, I had bought two Dozen, and sold them out of my ’Shop, and should not tho’t any Harm if I had sold an hundred of them. This brought on the following Questions and Answers, viz. Who did you buy them of?—I reply’d, they were sent, I thought, by a young Man, but could not tell his Name.—Who did he live with? I then again desir’d the Opinion of the House, Whether I was oblig’d to tell who I bought of?—Three or four again rose up and said I must: Upon which I said, I believ’d the young Man liv’d with Mr. Royal Tyler. It was then demanded, Whether I had any Conversation with him about them? I reply’d, I believe I might in the same Manner as I had with many others, not that I imagin’d him the Author, or any other Person, for I never agreed with any Body about the Printing of it, neither was it ever offer’d to me. I was then ask’d, Whether any of my Hands assisted in the doing of it? I answer’d, I believe my Negro might, as sometimes he work’d for my Brother. I was then queried, Whether my Brother had any Help? I said, No. Then a Gentleman said, Somebody must help him, for one could not print alone: As this was what I never knew before, I reply’d, one could print, and I could do five hundred with my own Hands.—I was next question’d, Whether I ever saw any of it while printing? As I was determin’d to shew no Contempt of Authority, I acknowledg’d I had seen some of it printing off, as Printers transiently go into one another’s Houses.—Whose House was it?—I think it was my Brother’s—What is his Name?—Zechariah—Where does he live? Down by Cross-Street.—One Gentleman stood up and said, sometime ago I said I bought but two Dozen, afterwards I bought a hundred; to which I reply’d, I would have bought a hundred if I could have sold them. Another then stood up and said, before I had Time to answer, You do not Know when you LIE: Upon which I said, Begging your Pardon, Sir, I know when I Lie, and what a Lie is as well as your self: to which there was no Reply.

They then concluded I was the Author, as I could bring no Body else—I desired I might have a little Time to consider as the Book was publish’d several Months past, and perhaps I might give more Light in the Affair; but instead of telling me to go to my Print-House to enquire who brought the Books there, I was lock’d up for three Hours in the upper Chamber of the Court-House: Then was ordered down to make my Appearance before the Hon. House a second Time, and was further examined relating to this MONSTROUS BUSINESS, to know if I could say any thing more, or Edition: current; Page: [1565] give any further Light; (I understood Mr. Royal Tyler had been sent for, and examin’d in my Absence) but as I had nothing to correct in my Answers before, told them I could not give any further Light.—Upon which one stood up and said, when I was in the House before, I said that I bought the Books of Royal Tyler;—Here I was suspicious they intended to get me to acknowledge I had them of him. Which was not true in Fact. I deny’d and said I believe his Boy left them at the Shop. Which I find also I am mistaken in. And after being oblig’d to repeat over great Part of what I had before said, was ordered again in the above Loft, where I was confin’d till between nine and ten o’Clock at Night, without Company or Prisoners Fare—From thence was ordered, Malefactor-like, attended with a Crowd of Spectators, who were waiting at the Doors, to know the Event of the Monster, to his Majesty’s Gaol in Boston; as soon as I was guarded to the Prison-Keeper’s House, many Friends came to see me, endeavouring to keep up my Spirits; but no one imagin’d what was to follow, nor I myself;—but every one concluded, as Security enough was offer’d, that I might have the best Chamber and Bed in the Prison-Keeper’s House; a while after my nearest Friends withdrew, and wish’d me a good Night. It being now between 11 and 12 at Night, we came to the Point in Hand, whether I must actually go into the Gaol; I was told I must, and that into the Stone-one; this I said was cruel hard; but go I must and did; where I now am an Englishman, free born; having been for many Years entitled to the Privilege of voting for some of the Members of that very House, by whose Order I am now committed for no other Reason, but upon Suspicion of printing and publishing the aforesaid Book entitled the Monster of Monsters;*—but as I have heard of many Wonders in Edition: current; Page: [1566] the World, this seems to be the Wonder of Wonders; and I think from this Time I shall never more wonder at any Thing;—But perhaps some may say, this is only a Whim, a Fancy of some Lunatick Person, who imagin’d this Thing while he was dreaming of Monsters. Can it be true in Fact! Is it possible under the English Constitution! Is it possible among a Free People! Especially is it any way likely among New-England Subjects! Search for a Parralel in all the English Records! See if the like can be found, unless when Tyranny prevail’d, and Liberty, the Glory of our Constitution, was oblig’d to hide it’s Head! Without any more Admirations, this very Affair was transacted in Boston, New-England, a Place where our Ancesters fled for Refuge, and left their pleasant Habitations, that they might enjoy LIBERTY, the natural Right of free-born Subjects, and not be confin’d upon Suspicions, nor subjected to those Oppressions which are enough to make a wise Man mad.

Thus far I wrote in Gaol the first Night: About 8 o’Clock in the Morning the Prison-Keeper came up into my dark Apartment and said he had Orders not to allow me Pen, Ink, or Paper, which he immediately took from me; and also said his Orders was, Not to let me see or speak with any Body; which perhaps some may think ought not to be told in Gath, and that I might have more Modesty* than to blaze it about, or publish it in the Streets of Askelon, &c.

Part II.

I Should have inlarged in my first Account, but it was either surmised, or somebody inform’d that I had a Pen and Ink, which the Prison-Keeper said he had Orders to take from me, which he did; so was obliged to break off abruptly; and for Fear of being search’d, hid what I had wrote in a Edition: current; Page: [1567] private Place, where I thought Modesty would be a Check upon him from searching: Now thinking my self very secure, only desired I might have the Liberty of writing a few Lines to my Wife; this Favour was denied me. I then begg’d I might have the Liberty of speaking with some Friend in the Place of my Confinement, which was also denied me;—I then intreated that my Wife might be sent for, that I might deliver some Message to her to intercede for my Deliverance out of this stinking, dark, melancholly Place; but all my Pleadings were of no avail. Mr Young then said, he would carry any Message for me, but not in writing,* though I told him he might see what I wrote.—This I look’d upon to be shocking Orders which Mr. Young had receiv’d, but knew at the same Time, that no Man or Body of Men had a right to give, as this Affair was circumstanc’d either from the Laws of God or Man, but was purely Arbitrary in the bad Sense of the Word—Had I been a Murderer, I should not have been denied these Favours, for they are generally allow’d, the Comfort of their nearest Friends; and though I could enlarge with Truth, and show wherein this Treatment was almost too much for human Nature to bear, shall not at present proceed any further on this Head—

All I could be allow’d was to send a Message by Mr. Young, who said he would deliver it to the Person who was below, and had brought me some Victuals, if I inclin’d to send Word by him; but as I did not care to commit any Thing of a private Nature to him, only desired him to acquaint my Wife Edition: current; Page: [1568] and Relations, That I was deprived either of the Pleasure of her Company, or theirs; for I was not allow’d to have any Body with me; nor to write her a Line. Which was deliver’d as far as I know. But to digress a little, This Building, by what I can learn from the Prisoners, has seven Apartments, besides the Dungeon; the Walls about three Feet and half thick. When I was first convey’d to Mr. Young’s House, I thought I might have lodg’d there, giving Securitys as before hinted, but the Officer shewed me a Paper, Sgn’d by Thomas Hubbard,* Speaker, wherein was these Words, To put me into the Common Gaol: I hop’d the Common Gaol meant no more than the Wooden one; but I must go into the Stone one, which it seems is the proper Meaning of the Words Common Gaol, as there were explain’d at that Time: I suppose it is called Common, because all Sorts of Criminals are put here, such as Murderers, Thieves, Common-Cheats, Pick-Pockets, &c. And what is worse than all that has been mention’d, Suspicious Persons, who are convicted of no Crime at all; but are to remain there during the Pleasure of Lawless, arbitrary, ambitious Men. So I am here as one of the worst of Criminals, the Nature of my Crime, being only Suspicion. But to proceed, After all Intreaties of my self and Friends failed, as before mention’d, and I found I must go into this Place, I then endeavoured to bring my Mind to my Condition, and thought more than I said, as there are no humane Laws against Thinking, though against Speaking. After Eleven at Night, when People were Edition: current; Page: [1569] generally gone to Rest, I was by the Prison-Keeper and several others, conducted through several Apartments, each of which was secured with Locks and Bolts; on each Door of about 70 Spickes, the Heads of which about two Inches diametor. I walk’d very slow, that I might observe as I went along; and could not help thinking of those Words, which appear’d very stricking to me, of walking through the dark Valley of the Shadow of Death. Having got to my Apartment, without any broken Bones, it being an ugly stumbling Way to the Place, an extraordinary Composure of Mind ensued;* I then fancy’d myself like one of the old Philosophers, the Account of whose Lives has been some Entertainment to me, but wish’d for Diogene’s Tub or Hogshead, or something to keep out the Inclemency of the Weather, for it was a dark stormy Night, and rain’d prodigious hard all next Day. I had no Bed to lodge on, but a Pillow and one Blanket. I walked about, and when tired sat down, and heard the Clock strick every Time from 12 till Eight. There is but one Window, and that without any Thing to keep off the Weather, as there is only several Iron Bars, no Winder-shut, which the Murderer was favour’d with. The Place stunk prodigiously, which oblig’d me to tye my Handkerchief over my Mouth and Nose, for fear of being suffocated; worse than the Smell of Brimstone. I heard no Noise for some considerable Time; all Nature seem’d to be dead; the first stiring of any Thing I could hear, was the Noise of Rats, which seem’d to be of a prodigious Size, and have Reason to think if I had been favour’d with a Club, I might have been the Death of some of them. As I was now depriv’d of all human Company, I wished for my little Dog Corriden, and was sorry I had not thought of him before, whose Company perhaps I might have been indulg’d. About two o’Clock I heard a most terrible Groan as of some human Person, which startled me a little, but had Resolution enough I thought, to encounter, had it been One from the other World; the Groan appear’d to be very long and piercing: In a few Minutes after, I spoke out with as strong a Voice as I could, Who’s there! This seem’d to bring the Dead to Life; for I soon found I had roused the Prisoners in the other Apartments, and was immediately answer’d by one Edition: current; Page: [1570] who said his Name was Wyer, I suppose you have heard of me; he was to have been executed the Thursday following. I told him I was sorry for his Misfortune; and advised him to behave sutably under his Affliction; he thank’d me, and bid me a good Night; he was in the next Room; only a Plank Partition parted us. Soon after I was hail’d by one in the upper Loft, whose Name is Webb, to know if I had just come in, and desired I would not take it amiss, as Prisoners were as kind to one another as the Place would allow of; I then told him between eleven and twelve. From that Time till eight the next Morning, I had no more Conversation with any Body; soon after I heard Wyer at Prayer, who seem’d to be very penitent, then there was a general Muster of the Prisoners, and calling to one another, some for Tobacco; some for Rum, Sugar, Water, &c. some Swearing, Crying and Praying; so that I was entertained with a Variety, which seem’d as though I had got into another World. As I found my Companions must be Murderers, Thieves, common Cheats, &c. I imagin’d I might make a good Improvement by conversing with these notorious Sinners: And though it is said a Man may be known by his Company; yet I beg Leave to contradict that general prevailing Notion, and differ from some; I think there is an Advantage in being with all Sorts of Persons, if Prudence is used, and the Place does not stink too much. Had I not been here, I should not have known the Behaviour of a poor Melefactor bound in Chains; I should not have had so clear an Idea of that Patience and Resignation, which is so much talk’d of, and so little practised in the World. I than desired the Prison Keeper to remove me any where in the Prison, so I might get out of this Place, for I was almost suffocated with the Smell. He told me he could not, unless I went above with Webb; which I readily accepted of; and in about two Hours after was removed; which Place was pleasant in Comparison of the other. I indeavour’d now to make the best of my Companion; and though I had heard a notorious Character of him, must say, he behaved to me with all the Civility of a good natur’d Man.

* ¶ * Is it not very unaccountable, as this Affair took up so much Time, and was carried on with so much Deliberation, that it was never sent up to the Honourable Board, to know if his Excellency and Honours, (who are two Branches of the Legislature) approved of it? Had this been done, as I think it should, with Submission to better Judgment; and had I been so happy as to have been favour’d with their Opinion, doubt not it would have met with but a very cool Reception, and finally thrown out, as not being for the Dignity of the General Assembly to take Notice of such an imaginary Creature; or if in Edition: current; Page: [1571] their Wisdom should have thought otherwise, I cannot entertain the least Doubt but that the Law would have been the Rule for my Trial, and that it could never find Place in the Heart of a sincere and upright Christian of prosecuting it to Effect in the Manner it was done.

Part III.

As I was ordered half a Hour ago by the Prison-Keeper to come out of the close Stone-Gaol, into his Dwelling-House, I think it necessary immediately to give some further Account of this extraordinary Affair, which is not mention’d fully in my first and second Papers.

I have been 48 Hours confin’d in a stinking close Stone-Gaol, a particular Account of which I gave in my second Paper. It is now more than ever before a pleasant Thing for my Eyes to behold the Sun. I am now allow’d the Use of Pen, Ink, Paper, the Pleasure of seeing my Relations, and many Friends, whom before I knew nothing of. I seem to myself as one almost risen from the Dead, and though weak in Body, can perceive a Revival as I have the Liberty of breathing a freer Air. While I was in Tribulation, I am inform’d the People were in Doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? And tho’ I had not the Use of the Bible, I cannot remember, whether that in particular was forbid me.

But as I have had many Thoughts, some Parts of Scripture came fresh in my Mind, such as, “If this Counsel or this Work be of Men, it will come to Nought;” And that “there is no Wisdom, nor Understanding, nor Counsel against the Lord.” I was inform’d about Midnight, that the Jaylor had received a strict Charge to thrust me into Prison, and there to keep me safely, but no Orders to make my Feet fast in the Stocks. Afterwards the Keeper himself told this Saying to me, which I suppose came from the Magistrates, to let me go; and doubt not I might have departed in Peace: But St. Paul’s Words seem’d to be rivited into me, speaking of himself and his Fellow-Sufferers, “They have beaten (or abused) us openly uncondemn’d (i.e. by the Law) being Romans, and have cast us into Prison; and now do they thrust us out privily? Nay, verily, but let them come themselves and fetch us out:” Perhaps their hard Hearts may relent, when they see the Situation we are in, as it is natural for the Eye to affect the Heart. So it is applicable in some Measure to my Case, as I was put into the inner Room Edition: current; Page: [1572] in the Prison, and that at Midnight, uncondemn’d, i.e. by the Law; and I am an Englishman, free-born, not having forfeited my Liberty any more than the above Romans; and I now desire that the same Authority that put me in, would by Virtue of that same Power take me out, and not thrust me out privily. I had heard that the Chief Magistrate, and some others, gave this good Advice; Take heed to yourselves, what ye intend to do as touching those Man. If any should say I am mad, or beside my self; it could not be wondered at considering the Treatment I have unjustly received; but I can affirm with all seriousness in the Words of St. Paul, I am not mad, but speak forth the Words of Truth and Soberness. I only speak freely, and every Man of common Sense has this Right, and I think every Man is more or less concern’d in an Affair of this Nature, for this Thing was not done in a Corner, unless it was in a Corner of the Court-House. I did nothing that was worthy of Death or of Bonds, the former I was in great Danger of, the latter I actually experienced; when at the same Time I ought to have been set at Liberty. I have Reason to think twenty four Hours more would have put an End to my Life, for I had catch’d a prodigious Cold the first Night, as the Wind blew hard in upon me the whole Time; and had that been the Case, what Satisfaction could have been made to injur’d Innocence? Would it have been any Mitigation, because it was done by the Representatives of the People, or at least by a Number of them? No! the Crime would have been so much the more aggravated, as it cannot be supposed they were ignorant of what they were doing, though I have so much Charity as to think that forty Men of superior Sense then sitting, would sooner have cut off their Hands than been guilty of such a base Action; but suppose most Votes carried it.

After I was deliver’d from this doleful, melancholly Stinking Place, into Mr. Young’s Dwelling House, I had a particular Account of the Doctor’s attending my Wife, who on this Occasion, was thrown into Fainting Fits, and Hesterick Disorders, of which perhaps she may never recover so as to be the same Woman as before. Here is a further Aggravation of this unprecedented Conduct of those who had no Right to put me there, as I hope I shall be able to prove—The whole Time she was forbid Admittance, who would willingly have kept with me: How then must this appear to a thinking Mind, that the dearer Part of a Man’s Self must be as it were torn from him, which God had join’d together, and no Man had a Right to put asunder, Edition: current; Page: [1573] excepting in some particular Cases, of which there can no Shadow of a Reason be pretended here. I could only hear while in Gaol, the tender Cries of an aged Mother, for the Sight of her Son, the Intercession of Friends for a Relief, and the encouraging Words of some to keep up a good Heart; and the Pity of the poor Melefactor, who said, he thought I was worse off than himself. Soon after I had got into the Prison-Keeper’s House, being weak in Body, and scarcely able to walk, my dear Companion, with Assistance, came in, whose Paleness and quivering Lips, with Trembling, was enough to move a Stoick. Here, I acknowlege, I want Words to paint this Scene in true and lively Colours; and as I imagine Language, were I capable, would only eclipse a true Idea of it, so I think nothing but a compleat Orator, a Master of Language, perfectly acquainted with human Nature, can draw it to its Life; therefore shall forbear.

The Day being now far spent, and my Friends taking their Leave, I retired to a Chamber, and went to Rest as soon as I could; having a tolerable Night’s Refreshment, I awoke with considerable Strength of Body, heard two Sermons preach’d to the poor Melefactor; as there was a Number of Persons came to see the Prisoner on this Occasion, there was Enquiry, how I came out. I also heard the House had sent for the Mittemus1 on Saturday, and that the Sheriff would not give up the Original, for I was not under Bonds, nor any Body for me, that I should not depart the Prison-Yard; and the Doors and Gates being frequently open I had opportunity enough to go out, but being determin’d to show no Contempt of Authority, nor any other Orders, am now, on Monday, (October 28.) still confin’d waiting for the Pleasure of the Hon. House.*

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This Affair, I understand, is the chief Topick of Conversation in Town, and well it may be, for it is a new Thing in the Land. As I live under the Constitution of England, shall transcribe a few Thoughts out of that approved Piece, entitled the Spirit of Laws, Vol. 1. P. 216, and so on.—

“The Liberty of the Subject is a Tranquility of Mind, arising from the Opinion each Person hath of his Safety. In order to have this Liberty, it is requisite the Government be so constituted as one Man need not be afraid of another.

“When the Legislative and Executive Powers are united, in the same Person, or in the same Body of Magistrates, there can be no Liberty; because Apprehensions may arise, least the same Monarch or Senate should enact tyrannical Laws, to execute them in a tyrannical Manner.

“Again, There is no Liberty, if the Power of judging be not separated from the Legislative and Executive Powers. Were it join’d with the Legislative, the Life and Liberty of the Subject would be exposed to arbitrary Controul; for the Judge would be the Legislature. Were it joined to the Executive Power, the Judge might behave with all the Violence of an Oppressor.

“There would be an End of every Thing, were the same Man, or the same Body, whether of the Nobles or of the People, to exercise those three Powers, that of enacting Laws, that of executing the Publick Resolutions, and that of judging the Crimes or Differences of Individuals.”

Tuesday October 29. Afternoon.

The Doctor having acquainted me that my Wife was thrown into Fits on Account of my Confinement, which oblig’d me to write the following Letter to Thomas Hobbard, Esq; Speaker, to be communicated to the House, viz.—

Daniel Fowle
Fowle, Daniel
Hon. Gentlemen,

As I have been confin’d in Mr. Young’s Custody for above five Days, two Days and Nights of it in the Stone-Gaol, and hearing my Wife has had several fainting Fits, which the Doctor says will endanger her Life; and as it proceeds, he thinks, upon this Account, I must beg you would dismiss me, to go to her, and shall be ready to wait upon you when you may have Occasion for me.

I am with all due Regard Your most humble Servant
Daniel Fowle.
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P. S. Since I wrote the above, I have receiv’d the inclosed Letter—

L. F.
L. F.
October. 29.
Mr. Fowle,

I was so shock’d at your Confinement in the Common Gaol, that I was Seized with a Trembling, and I sunk down with a Fainting Fit; I have had several since, and my Spirits are quite gone;—I am now going to Bed weak and faint, and God alone knows whether I shall ever come to my self again. Can the House be stript of all Bowels of Compassion?—I am, &c.—

L. F.—

It may not be amiss here to transcribe some Passages of that excellent Book, entitled the English Liberties; or, The Free-born Subjects Inheritance: The Author, in his Preface says, “Let us then by perusing this Treatise deeply imprint in our Minds the Laws and Rights that from Age to Age have been deliver’d down to us from our Renown’d Fore-Fathers, and which they so dearly bought and vindicated to themselves at the Expence of so much Blood and Treasure: In a Word, Let them never perish in our Hands, but let us make our Lives happy in the Enjoyment of them, and piously transmit them to our Posterity; being fully convinced of this Truth, that when Liberty is once gone, even Life itself grows insipid, and loses all its Relish.”

*No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or Free Customs, or be outlawed; or exiled, or any otherwise destroyed, nor will we pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful Judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land. We will sell to no Man, we will not deny or defer to any Man, either Justice or Right.

No Freeman shall be taken, &c. These Words deserve to be written in Letters of Gold, and I have often wondered that they are not inscribed in Edition: current; Page: [1576] Capitals, in all our Courts of Judicature, Town-Halls, and most publick Edifices; they being so essential to our English Freedom and Liberties, and because my Lord Coke in the second Part of his Institutes, has many excellent Observations on this Chapter; I shall recite his very Words;

That no free Man shall be taken, or imprisoned, but by the Law of the Land, i.e. by the Common Law, or by the Statute Law, for the Liberty of a Man’s Person is more dear to him than any Thing, and therefore if he be wronged in that Liberty, ’tis very reasonable he should be relieved.

No Man shall be disseised, i.e. put out of Seisin or be dispossessed of his Free-hold, i.e. of his Lands or Tenements, or Livelihood, or of his Liberties, or Free-Customs, which belong to him as his Birth-right, unless it be by Lawful Judgment, i.e. by a Verdict of his Equals, or Men of his own Condition, or by the Law of the Land, i.e. to speak once for all, by the due Course and Process of Law.

No Man shall be taken, &c. i.e. restrained of his Liberty, by Petition, or Suggestion, to the King or Council, unless it be by Indictment or Presentment, of good and lawful Men, living near the Place where such Deeds were done. The Warrant or Mittimus,2 containing a Lawful Cause, ought to have a Lawful Conclusion, &c. and him safely to keep until he be delivered by Law, &c. and not until the Party committing shall farther Order.

If any Man, by Colour of Authority where he hath not any in that particular Case, shall persume to arrest or imprison any Man, or cause him to be arrested or imprisoned, this is against this Act, and it is most hateful, when it is done by Countenance of Justice.

There are three Things, which the Law of England (which is a Law of Mercy) principally regards and taketh Care of, viz. Life, Liberty and Estate. Next to a Man’s Life, the nearest Thing that concerns him, is Freedom of his Person; for indeed what is Imprisonment, but a kind of civil Death? “Therefore,” saith Forteseus, “the Laws of England do, in all Cases, favour Liberty.”

If the Impartial should think upon perusing the foregoing, that I have wrote with any unbecoming Passion or Prejudice, I am willing to acknowlege it. But at the same Time must observe, to use the Words of an excellent Writer, “All Anger or Resentment cannot be condemned, although there is little lovely in any Degree of it. An intire Insensibility of all Injuries, of which there are but few Instances, would be a very inconvenient Disposition; exposing a Man to the Contumelies and Petulance of others; nor consistent with his own Character.”

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Is it not very surprising, such a Vote should pass that House, when I declar’d the Book was not of my printing, neither had I any such Types to print with? If it be said it was put to Vote, and there was a Majority for my Committment, and Mr. Speaker was order’d to sign a Mittemus to put me into the Common Gaol, I think he might with as much Propriety have sign’d my Death Warrant if order’d. If it then be said, Mr. Speaker was against this Proceeding, could he not in a genteel Manner have excused himself, and desired the House to appoint another for this Case, and considered if he did me Wrong, though by their Influence, or Order, it would not excuse him, unless they had an absolute Power to take away Life at Pleasure—[I here shall insert that Passage in the English Liberties, Pag. 3. “’Tis true the Law itself affirms, the King can do no Wrong; which proceeds not only from a Presumption, that so excellent a Person will do none, but also because he acts nothing but by Ministers, which (from the lowest to the highest) are answerable for their Doings; so that if a King in his Passion should command A to kill B, without Process of Law, A may yet be prosecuted by Indictment, or upon an Appeal, (where no Royal Pardon is allowable) and must for the same be executed, such Command notwithstanding.”] Would he in Fact have done it, had I been his Son in Law, though ordered by the whole General Assembly? No I dare say, he would not; and he certainly must know, or at least ought to know, in order to qualify him for that Office, I was not dealt with in a due Course and Process of Law; and that their Power did not extend in such Cases to any but their own Members. All I desir’d was a fair Trial at Common Law, which I doubt not is founded upon Reason; and if I had been condemn’d, would have endeavoured to be calm and easy, and thrown them in the Heap of Misfortunes Mankind are subject to.

If this was a just Method of Proceeding, why was not the other Printers sent for, and against whom Warrants were issued? It seems there was no Occasion for this; but if they could sacrifice an innocent Person, it might be a Terror to others. Is this just? Has it the Appearance of Justice! Nay, would any of them have carried the Affair to such a monstrous Heighth with a Relation or an Acquaintance? Would Mr. Speaker have sign’d that Mittimus had I been nearly allied to his Family? It is unaccountable, that a Gentleman, who for several Years has had almost the unanimous Vote of this Town to represent them, should act thus, when he must know our Liberties were touch’d to the Quick; (for I would not in the least imagine he could be Ignorant) and that the plain English of establishing such a Precedent would be this: If Edition: current; Page: [1578] I can be secure, or protected, I will do all in my Power to put every Man into the Stone Gaol that shall pretend either directly or indirectly to find Fault with the Conduct of the House of Representatives, while I am Speaker, even if they are barely suspected; and whatever they order, I will sign, and we will be Judges of Parallels and Innuendoes, though we should incur the Censure of Juvenal, who says, “There are a Sett of Creatures who have no Mercy on Paper, and are ready to answer, even when they are absolute Strangers to the Subject.

Strange! That Men who have had Liberty and Property continually sounding in their Ears from the Press and Pulpit; even from their Infancy, should be guilty of this unaccountable Conduct? Is the Nature of Right and Wrong altered? Is this Glory departing from New-England which our Renowned Predecessors purchased with so much Blood and Treasure? We hope not. We have our Courts of Justice not yet overthrown: For we have the Grand Privilege of Trials, by our Country, that is by Juries; and I hope never to see the Day, when the People of this Country, will be so stupid as tamely to give up the Privileges they of Right enjoy; but always have a Godly Jealousy, when there is the least Encroachment either in Civil or Religious Affairs, and more especially when the very Foundation is struck at; and act like Men; fear not stern Countenances, the Threats of a Prison, nor the rattling of Chains; but imitate the noble Courage of your Fathers, who are now sleeping quietly in the Dust, and fear’d none of these Things, as they knew they were acting in a just Cause; and have overcome, and no Doubt gain’d the Prize: For should you act an inglorious Part, and they could rise out of their Graves, you would not be acknowleged as their Children, but the degenerate Plants of a strange Vine.

Now while we have Opportunity, let us consider, that as Life once lost, can never be recovered; so when Liberty is banish’d, or by bad Treatment, takes it Flight to another Climate, where it will be kindly receiv’d, it’s almost as impossible to recover it again in its native Beauty, as it is for the Ethiopian to change his Skin, or the Leopard his Spot.

Although I could inlarge, with Assistance, from the best Authors, who has wrote on the Original of Civil Government, The internal Structure of States, and the several Parts of the supreme Power, The Downfall of Tyranny &c. and show wherein the Author of the foregoing Piece has been treated contrary to, and in direct Violation of all the Laws of the English Nation; but must reserve these Thoughts, with an Appendix, for another Opportunity.

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55: J.W., A Letter from a Gentleman in Nova-Scotia, To a Person of Distinction on the Continent ([London], 1756)

Not a single instance can be found in english history of any colony being planted with success under the direction of military measures,” said a writer signing himself J.W. in this “sketch . . . of a plan” to establish Nova Scotia as “a secure and most valuable frontier to the english possessions in America.” Emphasizing the singularity of the Nova Scotia constitution and government, he complained that it differed from “all others . . . in the English dominions.” With a lieutenant colonel for governor, a Council composed entirely of military or naval personnel and a few civil officers, and no legislature of the sort that could “be found in all the other English colonies and islands in America,” this government subjected the “free born subjects of England” to taxes and regulations to which they had not given their assent, even laying restraints on speech by making “it criminal to utter opinions different from the unerring judgment” of the governor and Council. “Notwithstanding that we are the youngest child as a colony upon the continent,” the author acidly remarked, “we are vain enough to set examples which no other colony has yet undertaken.”

Noting the King’s “disposition, not only to defend and protect his subjects under the full enjoyment of the liberties they are born to, but to extend the same into his american dominions,” the author called for a representation to the Crown to establish that “essential of english men’s priviledges, I mean Edition: current; Page: [1580] that of the representatives of the people in the third branch of legislative authority.” He also called for the removal of British troops to the western frontiers and their replacement with regiments composed of Americans, “the only troops” who knew how “to encounter the savages,” were free from the “arbitrary dispositions” of European soldiers, and might be attracted by the promise of land—in this case, improved land by the dispossessed Acadians. Men bred up and living under a civil government in which they had a voice and on which they could depend to secure their liberty and property, he suggested, “would for ever be themselves the most forward in rendering their assistance to maintain the authority of the civil magistrate.” (J.P.G.)

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From a Gentleman




A Person of Distinction on the Continent.

Describing the present State of Government

in that Colony.

With some seasonable Remarks.

Printed 1756.

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J. W.
J. W.
March 1. 1756

Notwithstanding the pleasure I receive from the honour you are pleased to confer on me, in favouring me with your confidence, and in complimenting my ability to give you a description of the present state of our government; and asking my opinion what methods would be most conducive to improve the advantages gained over the French in this colony, from the reduction of Beausejour, and the exterpation of the perfidious Neutrals; I must confess, that it being a matter of such vast importance to the interest of the British nation in general, and the colonies in America in particular, that I should very gladly excuse my self. However, as I cannot now depart from my constant practice of treating all your requests as commands, you must be obey’d.

The model of the present government in N——a S——a, differs from all others that I am acquainted with in the English dominions. For here we have a L——t G——r, who is a L——t C——l of one of his Majesty’s regiments in this province, and senior officer in the army upon the spot, who commands (now) in the absence of the G——r. As our constitution is singular, so in this particular is it that this L——t G——r takes upon himself the stile and title of Excellency;—and he seems to be the first in that rank, who has discovered either an impatience to have a better title to it, or that his predecessors in the different provinces in America, had less sense of their own prerogative, or more modesty than himself.

The next branch of our legislative authority, is the king’s council; and this consists of one captain in the army, who is also the Governor’s secretary, and executes the office of secretary of the province. I mention this gentleman first, because in case of demise or absence of his E——y the L——t G——r, and the two senior C——rs who are both place-men, but on the civil list; this captain would command two L——t C——ls in the army, who are also C——rs and juniors to the captain; and the other three are a captain in the navy, and the two chief justices of the supream court of the province, and the inferiour court of common pleas.

The other branch, which is to be found in all the other English colonies and islands in America, is at present vacant.—For hitherto it has not been filled up—so that all the laws, edicts, proclamations, call them what you will, are promulged, and absolute obedience thereto exacted from the free born subjects of England, by these two branches only of Edition: current; Page: [1583] authority:—However strange it may appear, they impose taxes, and execute by virtue of their laws or ordinances, corporal punishments;—so that should they create new felonies, it is not to be wonder’d at; for one of their laws published in the Boston news-paper, as an extraordinary thing in its kind, lays restraint on the speech, and renders it criminal to utter opinions different from the unerring judgment of his Ex——y and H——rs. From the first settlement of the province until October 1754, the supream court of the province consisted of the Governour and Council, and in his absence his Ex——y the L——t G——r and their H——rs, acted as the supream judges in all law cases.—As it was the original plan, to frame this government after the model of the government of Virginia, so the first commission appointing the justices of the lower courts, was here in the same manner as it is there under the denomination of county courts; and they were held monthly:—inconveniencies soon appearing, the commission was altered for the lower courts to be model’d after the method of the New-England inferiour court of common pleas; and they were slated to be held four times a year, which is the present practice.

As the same men are justices of the peace, who are justices of the inferiour court of common pleas, the quarter sessions is open’d the same day, and the same jury-men attend both courts; these are eight justices named in both these commissions, six of whom are place-men, and dependants upon the government for their subsistence.—And ’tis observable that a uniformity runs through every part of this constitution, and I believe it is singular that the provost marshall or high sheriff, has the arbitrary appointment of all jury-men; no such thing as balloting jurors having ever yet been practised here.—In October 1754, a chief justice for this province arrived from England; a gentleman, whose whole life seems to have been spent in the severe study of the law;—for in that he is allowed to be a great man, or in other terms an accomplished lawyer.—To compleat the singularity of all the material parts of our government, this gentleman, in order to countenance his Ex——y the L——t G——r, takes upon himself the stile and title of his Lordship:—and in the supream court he now sits alone; sometimes in scarlet, sometimes in black robes, but always with a very large full-bottom wigg, after the example of the judges in Westminster-Hall.

Thus Sir, you see that notwithstanding we are the youngest child as a colony upon the continent, we are vain enough to set examples which no other colony has yet undertaken.

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You demand of me, whether the people have no voice in the choice of any town officers? I must do justice to the administration, by informing you that the people have a priviledge of this sort, for every year new constables are chosen; and this being an office of great importance, and a necessity of the most able and skilful persons to execute the charge, twelve constables are returned by majority of voices every year; thus we have an election once a year: and this is the only instance wherein the people have any connection with the administration, saving the obedience they are compel’d to render to the statutes, laws, ordinances, edicts, or whatever you are pleased to call them, that are framed and published as coercive under the sanction of his Ex——y and H——rs.

This is, Sir, a very candid and just representation of the present administration in Nova-Scotia.

As I never attempted to claim any pretention to the character of a polititian, so you cannot expect other remarks from me than what are obvious to the meanest capacity; and such as are the natural dictates of common sense. The certainty of a very considerable number of Neutrals, not less than 6000 at least being remov’d from this province, is a fact evident to all the northern colonies to which they have been carried; and that they have left behind them the several farms upon which they subsisted, is likewise certain.—The climate of the country being as healthy as any upon the globe, is universally agreed—as also that a more fertile soil is not to be found in America, is likewise agreed by all good judges in agriculture. Nothing then remains now to be done, but for a proper encouragement to be pointed out to fill the vacated lands with subjects sincerely and heartily attached to the interests of his majesty, and the descendants of his royal house.—His majesty’s disposition, not only to defend and protect his subjects under the full enjoyment of the liberties they are born to, but to extend the same into his american dominions; is likewise a fact as well known to each individual of his subjects there, as that he is king of Great-Britain. Nothing surely remains to remove the first objection, which is too generally made against coming to settle in this province; namely, that the essential of english men’s priviledges, I mean that of the representatives of the people in the third branch of legislative authority: but that a proper representation be made to his majesty, and there can be no doubt but the royal order will immediately be forwarded upon such representation.

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Another prevailing objection urg’d by those who are well disposed to occupy the vacated lands is, it seems, that the behaviour of the military force employed by his majesty for the defence of his subjects in this province, has been so very extraordinary, that men who can otherways provide for themselves, will never come within the reach of their insults and ravages.

’Tis needless to inform you, Sir, because I am sensible you will soon be informed from a cloud of witnesses, that the extravagancies of the military people here, have carried them such lengths, that the fewel for some of the soldiers barracks, have been supplied great part of this winter by pulling to pieces and burning the houses built by the setlers, at their own charge and expence.

To remove this objection, I know but one possible method; and that is, to remove the authors of it: As it may be urg’d that such a step would be to expose the colony an easy conquest to the French; I most humbly beg leave with the greatest deference, to propose an expedient that may obviate that difficulty, and perhaps point out a method to secure the province with more certainty to his majesty; and have an immediate tendency to fill it with useful inhabitants, with less expence to the crown, and more satisfaction to all his faithful subjects in the colonies.

’Tis very notorious that the regular troops which come from Europe, are altogether unskilled in the Indian method of fighting; which does not seem to be disputed since general Braddock’s defeat: and in all the skirmishes that have happened in this province, some of the regulars have been pillaged of their scalps;—but never have they been able to produce a single trophy of that kind, to the enemy’s loss.

Should this province be threatned with a formal invasion, from an expedition carried on by regular troops and shipping from old France, we cannot doubt being supported and relieved by a sufficient naval armament to repel the invaders.

The greatest thing then to be attended to, is how to secure the planters who may set down upon their lands from the ravages of the Indian enemy; and for this purpose experience has confirmed to us, that regulars are useless; for part of the troops have more than once or twice, been scalped in a manner under the walls of their forts, where there was not any settlements to defend.

As Americans are the only troops calculated to encounter the savages,—I would with the greatest submission recommend to your consideration, Edition: current; Page: [1586] whether 2000 men to be raised in all America, either to be regimented or as independant companies, so that a saving be made of all field officers; to be victualled and paid upon a footing with the other American troops, and discharged either at the end of the present contention, or sooner as occasion may offer; would not be more successful than double that number of regulars:—their usefulness in this respect, I consider as one of the least advantages arising to the province. For they would consist of people unacquainted with arbitrary dispositions, no contention would ever arise between military and civil authority;—nor between the Americans and Europeans: for ’tis evident in America, all strangers that behave themselves with decency, are constantly treated with respect and humanity. A different conduct influences some Europeans here to the prejudice of the Americans, who are almost totally driven away from the province;—men bred up under a civil government, would for ever be themselves the most forward in rendering their assistance to maintain the authority of the civil magistrate.

I would further propose that as an encouragement for sufficient numbers to enter into this service, that they should be informed that during their service they should be intitled to some part of the vacated lands, where they might in the interval of their duty, employ their time for the benefit of themselves and families in improving their lands; by which method at the time of their discharge, the colony would be enriched with a number of setlers without any expence other than that which must be expended on the same number of regular troops.

Nothing of this sort can be expected from men who enter the army for life, and subject to be removed from one part of the province to another in their circle of duty.—Whereas in the service of Americans, no occasion of relieving the posts they are destined to, would offer among men who might be put into such a posture as to be imployed, as well for the defence of their own possessions and families, as those of their neighbours.—Should any regular troops be thought necessary to be planted in this province, it is to be hoped those raised in America, will be preferred; and as to the other regular troops, I need not mention that they are greatly qualified to defend such forts and passes in all the frontiers of America; and many such posts there are from St. John’s river in this province, even to fort Du Quesne, which will require at least four or five regiments to garrison; and this distribution of regular troops, would be a great saving to the several colonies who are now obliged to garrison their forts with men of their Edition: current; Page: [1587] own, who might be much better employed and much more to their own satisfaction in any other way.

Thus, Sir, have I given you in obedience to your commands, the rough sketch or out-lines of a plan to establish this colony a secure and most valuable frontier to the english possessions in America.—The more masterly touches requisite to finish so great a work, is under your direction in a very able hand:—I shall conclude with one or two short remarks,—That not a single instance can be found in english history, of any colony being planted with success under the direction of military measures—The more exposed to dangers these setlers live, the more necessary to encrease their priviledges to make their situations sit easy upon ’em; and therefore ought they to be the least of any people living subject to military influence, when they can be protected, or in other words, enabled to protect themselves by a better method.

I am, Sir, your most obedient, and very humble Servant,
J. W.
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56: T[homas] W[right] and [William Wragg], Letters to the South Carolina Gazette (May 13, June 5, 1756)

Throughout the early 1750s in South Carolina, the Assembly and the Council, acting in its role as an Upper House, engaged in a variety of contests, most of them over the Council’s right to amend money bills and inspect accounts, long denied it by the Assembly, and its right to have a share in choosing the colony’s London agent. These contests came to a head in the spring of 1756 and led to a remarkable newspaper exchange in which the very structure of the South Carolina constitution came under discussion. Published as a supplement to the May 13 edition of the weekly newspaper, The South-Carolina Gazette, the opening salvo in this exchange was signed by T——s W——t, whom most historians assume to have been Thomas Wright, a member of the Assembly. Whether or not a small Council, appointed by the pleasure of the Crown, had ever been an adequate instrument for fulfilling in colonial polities the legislative role exercised by the House of Lords, whose members were independent of the Crown, had long been a subject of political discussion within the British American empire, but no one before Wright had directly challenged the legislative competence and authority of a provincial council on constitutional grounds.

Wright argued that the settlers’ refusal to implement early proprietary plans to create a landed aristocracy in South Carolina during its early years meant that during the proprietary period its emerging polity had “only two estates, the lords proprietors and the people,” and he suggested that because the British Parliament, in the act by which the proprietors surrendered title of the colony to the Crown, implicitly confirmed this arrangement, “the Edition: current; Page: [1590] legislative power in this province” consisted of “none but his majesty’s rights and those of the people.” Without a nobility, Wright observed, “the government cannot here be similar to that of England, one estate or part of the British constitution being wanted, and therefore we come as near to the practice of Great-Britain . . . as the situation and circumstances of our province will admit,” with the Assembly passing laws and the governor assenting to them. For the Council, whose members served at the Crown’s pleasure, also to have a voice in legislation, Wright argued, would give the Crown twice as much weight as the people and thereby destroy the balance requisite to British government. Wright admitted that the Council had, “for some time past, . . . claimed and assumed the power of an Upper House of parliament, affecting to resemble the House of Lords.” In contrast to members of the House of Lords, however, colonial councilors voted for representatives in the legislature, served at pleasure, and were not hereditary, conditions that in his view made it impossible to find “the least similitude between the Council in Carolina, and the house of peers in England.” Indeed, the Council’s claims had no other foundation than “his majesty’s instructions to his governor,” which, he insisted, could not constitute “a legal establishment.” Such instructions might be binding on governors and other Crown appointees, he wrote in making a point often made by colonial legislators over the previous century, but they could never be “laws and rules to the people of this province,” which was why over the years the Assembly had ignored one instruction after another, “the people not thinking ’twas proper to pass laws for such a purpose.” “Without an act of parliament of Great-Britain, or an act of assembly of this province,” he concluded, “such an upper house could not have a legal establishment.”

The Council responded to this frontal assault by publishing in the June 5, 1756, issue of the South Carolina Gazette a detailed “Vindication” in three parts, the last of which is reprinted here. Presented as a collective effort by the Council but probably composed by councillor William Wragg, who later wrote consistently on the side of Crown authority, this document drew upon ideas developed by Crown authorities during the Restoration, arguing that the authority of colonial legislatures did not derive from their constituents’ inherited rights as English people, as colonial legislative leaders had long claimed, but were entirely “ex Gratis Regia,” grants from the King, and could “therefore be limited by him, and be subject to his correction.” “Without the grace of the crown,” the Council declared, South Carolina Edition: current; Page: [1591] would “have no legislative power at all, much less . . . a right to exercise the power given” it “in express Contradiction to the directions of the crown.” It could “no more prevent its being subject to the controul of the crown,” the Council exclaimed, “than it could make laws to bind the kingdom of Great-Britain.” Because the Assembly could thus claim no “authority as a legislative body but immediately from the crown, it followed that the Council’s claim to the status of an upper house was based on exactly “the same Right” and the same legal foundation as that of the Assembly. Arguing that various acts of Parliament applying to the colonies proved that colonial legislative authority was both “limited and qualified,” the Council warned the Assembly not to provoke Parliament’s interposition into South Carolina’s affairs “by too immoderate and frantic an use of those privileges we are now permitted to enjoy” and specifically cautioned it not to presume “to call in question” the Council’s long-standing status as an upper house, a status that derived from an authority that was “co-eval and co-equal” with that of the Assembly itself. (J.P.G.)

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South Carolina Gazette, May 5th 1756

(Rara temporum faecilitate, ubi sentire quae velis, & quae sentias dicere licet.)1


As the Council in this province, for some time past, have claim’d and assumed the power of an Upper House of parliament, affecting to resemble the house of lords in Great-Britain, I offer some considerations to the public on that head.

By royal charter of his majesty king Charles II. dated at Westminster the 24th of March 1662, and in the 15th year of his reign: And also by a second charter of his said majesty, dated the 30th of June 1665, in the 17th year of his reign: He did grant and confirm to the lords proprietors of the province of Carolina,

All that province or tract of ground, called Carolina, situate, lying, and being within or about the degrees of 36 30 northern latitude, and so west in a direct line as far as the South-Seas; and south and westward as far as the degrees of 29 inclusive, northern latitude.

By the 4th paragraph or clause, his majesty was pleased to give the said lords power and authority, to ordain, make and enact, any laws and constitutions whatsoever, according to their best discretion, by and with the advice, assent and approbation of the freemen of the said province, or the greater part of them, or their delegates or deputies, &c.

By the 7th paragraph or clause, his majesty was pleased to ordain, constitute and declare, That the province of Carolina

shall be of our allegiance, and the subjects and people transported or to be transported into the said province, and the children of them, and such as shall descend from them, there born, or hereafter to be born, be, and shall be denizens and lieges of us, our heirs and Edition: current; Page: [1593] successors, of this our kingdom of England, and be in all things held and reputed, as the liege people of us, our heirs and successors, born within this our said kingdom or any other our dominions, &c. As likewise all liberties, franchises, and privileges, of this our kingdom and of other our dominions aforesaid, may freely and quietly have, possess, and enjoy, as our liege people born within the same, without the molestation, vexation, trouble or grievance of us, our heirs and successors, &c.

By an act of parliament, passed in the 2d year of his present majesty’s reign, for establishing an agreement with seven of the lords proprietors of Carolina, for the surrender of their title and interest in that province to his majesty, it is obvious, that, altho’ his present majesty is vested with all the interest, property, and estates of seven of the late lords proprietors, yet (in the said act of parliament) nothing is expressed or intended, to take away or diminish any of the rights and liberties of the people of this province; but, on the contrary, there is a tacit confirmation of of all the privileges granted by his late majesty king Charles II. in his two charters, since in the said act they are both recited.

The ancient and usual method, from the first settlement of this province, to the end of the government of Robert Johnson, Esq; the proprietors governor, (above 50 years), the words used in the enacting clauses of our laws were, “Be it enacted by {blank} palatine, and the rest of the true and absolute lords and proprietors of this province, by and with the advice and consent of the rest of the members of assembly now met at Charles-Town, &c.” This custom was used until the inhabitants denied the authority of the lords proprietors, and James Moore, Esq; was chosen governor: When the enacting clause was altered, and ran in the words following, “Be it enacted by the honourable James Moore, Esq; governor, by and with the advice and consent of the council and representatives of the inhabitants of the settlement in South-Carolina, now met at Charles-Town, and by the authority of the same.” The reasons for this alteration are evident, for they could not make use of the name of the palatine, as he was chosen governor by the people, who had disclaim’d the jurisdiction of the lords proprietors, and consequently were obliged to alter the method formerly used in wording the enacting parts of their laws.

The first law I have met after governor Nicholson’s arrival, bears date the 18th of August, 1721, in which the words of the enacting clause run thus, “Be it enacted by his excellency Francis Nicholson, Esq; governor, by and with the advice and consent of his majesty’s honourable council, and the assembly of this province, &c.” I have not been able to learn the reasons why this method Edition: current; Page: [1594] has been since usually followed, unless ’twas occasioned by the preceding acts passed in governor Moore’s time; which acts could not be worded, in the enacting clause, either with the names of the lords proprietors, or his then majesty king George, because governor Moore had no commission from the king, and the province had disowned the authority of the lords proprietors. It is as reasonable, now to make use of the king’s majesty’s name in all our enacting clauses, as it was, in former times, to use the palatine’s name and the rest of the lords proprietors, for his majesty, now our sovereign and proprietor, has his representative, the governor, to consent on his behalf to all laws passed in the province: and therefore, the using his majesty’s name, would appear more similar and like the custom used in Great-Britain of enacting all laws; and the practice of Ireland, governed by a lord-lieutenant, is so good a precedent, as this province could not be in the wrong to imitate.

It is plain, to every considerate man, that the practice in this province formerly, in passing their laws, shewed there was only two estates, the lords proprietors and the people. The lords proprietors had a governor, who represented the palatine; and the other lords had each his deputy, who consented for his constituent or principal. The governor, with these deputies, sat in council, and gave his, and they their, consent to all laws they approved. This method will plainly appear, by examination of all the laws passed in this province to the end of the proprietors government under Mr. Johnson. Our constitution is no way altered by his majesty’s being vested with the estate of the lords proprietors; it ought to be as near as possible like that of England (by our charter); but the scheme form’d by the late lords proprietors, for making a nobility in this province to represent an upper house, failing, hitherto none but his majesty’s rights and those of the people seem to constitute the legislative power in this province; for, since there is no nobility, the government cannot here be similar or like that of England, one estate or part of the British constitution being wanted, and therefore we come as near to the practice of Great-Britain, by passing our laws in the assembly, and those confirmed or assented to by the governor, as the situation and circumstances of our province will admit. The parliament of England is composed of king, lords, and commons; the two houses agreeing and uniting, are a proper balance of power between the crown and people: But, if his majesty’s authority is represented by his governor, which constitutes one estate of our legislature, and his majesty should further appoint a council, to preside in the nature of an upper house or house of peers, and these appointed only durante bene Edition: current; Page: [1595] placito regis,2 such an appointment must necessarily destroy the balance, and be contrary to the usage of our mother-country. I dare venture to affirm, no instruction from his majesty to any governor, ever called the council an upper house, nor can the council produce any instruction to any governor, wherein any words can imply them to be a house of peers. The council have not any correspondence with his majesty’s ministers, or with the lords for trade and plantations, as council. They have no commission or patent for their places, but are only named by his majesty, or by his majesty’s order to his governor to appoint them. The council have nothing to shew to support any claim or privilege, only his majesty’s instructions to his governor: To him and them they must apply and refer themselves, to know, who they are, what power they have, and what his majesty’s pleasure is concerning them. Their power lives, moves, and has being, only from the governor’s instructions: How far such a council is, from the nature of an upper house, or house of peers, will easily be discerned from a little inquiry: But first it will be proper, to consider the council as assistants to the governor, and named by his majesty for that end, lest the weighty affairs of government be too ponderous for the judgment of every governor, and that the advice of council might help the governors in arduous affairs, and support the rights of his majesty, as well as promote the good of his people in the colonies. If the council were in the nature of an upper house or house of peers, then the governor would have no counsellors; for, they having, as an upper house, given their opinion, he would be precluded asking their advice, they having already determined, and consequently, in most or many cases, will be without council; as it happened not many years since, when a law was proposed for making and stamping bills for the payment of two sloops (the Nonpareil and Pearl) then lately employed in the service of the province; also last year, when a bill was passed by the assembly, for granting to his majesty 40,000 l. to be sent to Virginia, and employed in defending his majesty’s just rights, &c. the council, as an upper house, approved and pass’d the bill, the governor would not assent to the same, in which circumstance his excellency was deprived of counsel, which creates such an absurdity in the government here, that there needs but few words to prove the inconsistency of the council acting as an upper house. The messages usually sent to the assembly are full of absurdity, for they are frequently brought down by the clerk of the council, who stiles him so at the Edition: current; Page: [1596] conclusion, and begins with, a message from the upper house. The lords of parliament are called by writ every parliament, as well as the commons, to consult about the arduous affairs of the kingdom. The lords have no vote for electing parliament-men. The lords are independent, and not to be displaced at pleasure of a minister. The peers are hereditary counsellors to the king and kingdom. The counsellors in Carolina are dependent, and hold their places during pleasure. The counsellors in Carolina vote for members of assembly, and have their representatives: Can they represent themselves, and be represented? The members of the council can be suspended by the governor: Can a peer of England be suspended? The members of the council are summoned, by the governor’s order, upon every important occasion: Does his majesty summon the peers of the realm? Surely, no person can draw the least similitude between the council in Carolina, and the house of peers in England. If his majesty’s ministers should be pleased to order his governor to carry into execution, any instruction which the people apprehend inconsistent with their rights, can the council here appear against such instructions? Have not some governors, instructions to receive no salary or present from the people, unless they will settle it upon them and their successors? Have not some governors instructions, that the laws of the province should all be passed with a saving clause? Can members of the council advise, or publicly oppose, against such instruction? If they cannot appear (from the nature of their office) to dissuade the people from complying with such measures recommended by the ministry, such an upper house would be most dangerous to our rights, liberties, and estates.—It appears to me very odd, that any set of men can be so deluded, as to imagine, that one day they can be freemen, voting for representatives; the next day, representing themselves, as peers; and the third day, metamorphosed into a council of state, to approve or disapprove of what they had determined the morning or day before as an upper house.

If the scheme for making a nobility, form’d by the lords proprietors, had taken effect, then the landgraves, barons and cassicks, would have been an upper house of parliament in this province: But that scheme was never confirmed by act of assembly of Carolina, and so failed.—I imagine from hence, no addition or diminution can be made to our constitution; and altho’ his majesty should be pleased, by his ministers, to give instructions to his governor, for erecting or making an upper house of assembly, I conceive, such an upper house could not have a legal establishment, without an act of parliament of Great-Britain, or an act of assembly of this province; for, if any instructions from his majesty can substitute an upper house, or make Edition: current; Page: [1597] an addition to our legislature, by the same rule, his majesty’s instructions can lessen the rights of assembly, or totally take away all their privileges.—Instructions from his majesty, to his governor, or the council, are binding to them, and esteem’d as laws or rules; because, if either should disregard them, they might immediately be displaced: But, if instructions should be laws and rules to the people of this province, then there would be no need of assemblies, and all our laws and taxes might be made and levied by an instruction.—’Tis certain, many instructions to the governors of the colonies have never been carried into execution, the people not thinking ’twas proper to pass laws for such a purpose.

If the council was admitted to be an upper house, they would have no right to meddle in money matters, which can be made appear, from many precedents in the journals of the house of commons: And if, by seeing the accompts, they can neither lessen nor augment any sum provided in the schedule annexed to the tax-bill, the demand made, for the accompts to be sent them, brings to my mind the novel of the curious impertinent in Don Quixote.—If the council should take upon them to shorten or increase any sum, provided in the schedule to the estimate, it would lead the assembly into a perplexing review of all the accounts again, who have examined them already with the eyes and judgments of the counsellors, as their representatives.—If the gentlemen of the council can shew the instrument of writing, by which they claim their privileges of an upper house, from the grant of any king of England, I will promise to shew them all the rights and liberties the assembly claim endorsed on the back of it.

T——s W——t.

South Carolina Gazette, June 5th 1756 The Vindication of the Council concluded.

As to the Fourth Head.

It would justly be esteemed the highest presumption in any of the legislative bodies of this province, who, in their most exalted state, are but a poor Epitome of British grandeur, to enter into a discussion of the extent of the privileges and powers of the house of peers and house of commons Edition: current; Page: [1598] in Great-Britain: A subject of too much delicacy to be touched by any but themselves: Much less decent would it be for them to undertake to determine which of those two wise and august bodies have been in the Right, in matters of that kind that have been in dispute between them.

It is confessed on the one hand, that the house of commons have claimed the sole Right of framing, altering, and amending money bills; it must also be confessed on the other hand, that the lords have never allowed that Right to be in the house of commons: They have constantly asserted their own privileges in that respect, which their journals amply testify, though from considerations of prudence, they have frequently waved and suspended their exercise of them. This matter still remains undetermined: For these honourable assemblies having no Superior to appeal to, their disputes can never be decided by others.

It would be comparing small things indeed with great, to mention this province in such a dispute.

This province, and the legislature of it, is entirely subordinate and dependent. Its powers are derivative, and not original. And it can no more prevent its being subject to the controul of the crown, than it can make laws to bind the kingdom of Great-Britain.

The whole power of legislation here springs from the crown: The assembly’s power as a branch of it, must undoubtedly be derived from the same fountain; for they claim their privileges in that respect from the charter, and that was given by the crown. Without this power, which is of the kind with those given to corporations for making By Laws, they could not exercise any legislative functions at all.

If this liberty had not been granted, they must have been unprovided with such laws as would be properly adapted to their situation: The legislature of England, being so far removed, might not have known their wants, or might not have known them early enough to have made a suitable provision for them. Therefore the privileges they now enjoy are ex Gratia Regis; may they not therefore be limited by him, and be subject to his correction?

It is to be considered then, whether the charter will furnish any pretence for the assembly’s claiming ALL the Privileges of the House of Commons in Great-Britain.

The charter granted to the lords proprietors gives a power “TO THEM, to ordain, make, and enact Laws according to their best Discretion, by and with the Advice, Assent, and Approbation of the Freemen or their Delegates, Edition: current; Page: [1599] provided the same be consonant to Reason, and, as near as may be conveniently, agreeable to the Laws and Customs of this our Realm of England.”

It is explicit as to the Subject-Matter of them; but is silent as to the Powers and Privileges of the several constituent parts of the legislative bodies.

If the privileges of the house of commons in Great-Britain are not expressly given, as they are not; it must be said, that they are impliedly given; but that they are not impliedly given will as clearly appear.

The king, it is true, enjoins and commands that the people shall be treated and reputed as his LIEGE faithful People, and shall enjoy all Liberties, Franchises and Privileges as his LIEGE People born within the kingdom of England.

What more is meant by the word Liege, than that such a person shall be intitled to the protection of the king and the laws, for which he is bound to pay a due submission to the king and the laws. Can no man enjoy the privileges of a LIEGE subject, without having all the transcendant Powers of the House of Commons virtually in him? A man may certainly have a right to have his property secured to him, and to have his person protected from violence, and yet be incapacitated from giving a vote for a member of parliament, of being a member, or of enjoying the privileges of one.

Those are privileges depending upon other qualifications and other requisites.

“All the tenants and inhabitants shall be immediately subject to our Crown of England, as depending thereof, for ever.”

Many facts might be produced to illustrate this, but we shall refer to one of the latest in 1718, in an act of repeal of the lords proprietors.

“His majesty having been pleased, by his order in council, to signify his royal pleasure to us the lords proprietors, that we should forthwith repeal an act passed in that province, we in OBEDIENCE TO HIS MAJESTY’S COMMANDS, repeal, &c.”

If neither from the Words nor Spirit of the charter the inferences drawn by the assembly can be collected, what admiration will it not create in our mother-country, to find them declaring, that if they are not permitted to exercise EVERY Privilege that the House of Commons in Great-Britain does, they will renounce THAT which is given them by the charter, of advising, assenting to, or approving of such measures as are conducive to the public safety and tranquility?

This is the plain English, without any gloss, of their first alternative.

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“If the governor shall be of opinion, that the present assembly assume any Power or Privilege whatsoever which is not exercised by the House of Commons in Great-Britain, since we despair of being able to advance the public good, we desire to be dissolved immediately.

But if the privileges contended for by the assembly were to be found in the charter, and that they had not renounced the benefits of it, by the people’s throwing off the government of the lords proprietors, it must be admitted, that the operation of it would be equally strong in every clause of it. And what comparison will the 15th, 16th and 18th clauses bear, with the numerous advantages and benefits the province enjoys under his majesty’s benign administration of government among us?

The lords proprietors, their deputies or officers, had the powers given them of a captain-general of an army, full power, liberty and authority, in case of rebellion, tumult, or sedition, to exercise MARTIAL LAW against such as shall refuse to SUBMIT themselves to their GOVERNMENT, or shall refuse to serve in the wars, or are OTHERWISE OFFENDING against MILITARY DISCIPLINE.

This is what Freemen are subjected to by the charter without their advice, assent or approbation. This is one of the privileges we boast of under it!

“Power is given to them likewise, to grant an universal liberty and toleration in religion, even in Indulgencies and Dispensations.

But thanks to God, the infatuation never prevailed so far, as to have arguments drawn from the charter in favour of POPERY!

If it does not appear, from the most critical observation upon the charter, that the assembly are either possessed of, or intitled to, the privileges of the house of commons;

Their Claim must be derived from

  • 1st. Length of practice. Or,
  • 2dly. From some fresh grant under the crown.

As to the first, to avoid prolixity, we will confine ourselves to the question upon the accompts, which the assembly refused this year to send to the council.

For which purpose it is proper to be kept in our mind, that without the grace of the crown they have no legislative power at all, much less have they a right to exercise the power given them, in express Contradiction to the directions of the crown.

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From the beginning of government in this province, the accompts relating to expences incurred for public services, have always undergone the examination of both council and assembly.

Humble application having been made by the people of the province, who had renounced the government under the charter, to request his majesty’s most gracious and immediate government and protection of them, Mr. Nicholson was appointed, by his majesty, provisional governor, with full powers, instructions and authorities to establish the peace of the province. In his time an act was passed for electing members of assembly. The 11th clause of this act, immediately, and for many years after, was so understood (and surely therefore rightly understood*), that a committee of the council joined a committee of the commons house of assembly, to examine the accompts of the creditors of the public; and money-bills, strictly and properly so called, were amended by the council, as occasion required, according to his majesty’s 35th instruction to governor Nicholson. This instruction is made Part of the election-act, which, by way of Proviso, restrains the commons house of assembly from claiming any privileges that are contrary to that instruction.

The clause of the act is,

That all and every member of the commons house of assembly, shall have as much power and privilege, as any member of the commons house of assembly of this Province heretofore of right had, might, could or ought to have in the said province; provided the same are such as are according to his majesty’s 35th instruction.

The instruction is,

And whereas the members of several assemblies in the plantations, have frequently assumed to themselves privileges NO WAYS belonging to them, especially of being PROTECTED from suits at law during the term they remain of the assembly, to the great prejudice of their creditors and the obstruction of justice; and some of the assemblies have presumed to ADJOURN themselves at pleasure, without leave from our Edition: current; Page: [1602] governors first obtained, and others have taken upon them the SOLE FRAMING of money bills, refusing to let the council alter or amend the same: ALL which practices are very detrimental to our prerogative: If upon your calling an assembly in South-Carolina, you find them insist upon any of the abovesaid privileges, you are to signify to them, that it is our express will and pleasure, that you do not allow any protection to any member of the council or assembly, further than in their persons, and that only during the sitting of the assembly, and that you are not to allow them to adjourn themselves, otherwise than de Die in Diem,3 except for sundays and holidays, without leave from you or the commander in chief for the time being first obtained: It is also our further pleasure, that the council have the like power of framing money bills as the assembly; and you are expressly enjoined, not to allow the said assembly, or any of the members thereof, any power or privilege whatsoever which is not allowed by us to the house of commons, or the members thereof, in Great-Britain.

These privileges were exercised by the council, without any exception taken thereto by the assembly ’till 1735, at which time we find the first precedent of their claiming a sole right of framing, altering and amending money-bills. This claim was afterwards repeated in 1739, but was peremptorily denied by the council.

As we were then upon the eve of a war with Spain, and considering the danger to the public which would arise from such disputes, in order to prevent them, a middle way was agreed upon by both Houses: The assembly admitted the council to propose amendments, and the council allowed their proposed amendments to be inserted by the assembly, and the accompts were always sent by the assembly to the council, and from that time the practice has constantly been observed ’till NOW.

As to the second point.

The instructions to every governor since have been of the same tenor; and indeed no fresh grant of privileges to the assembly has been so much as attempted to be, nor can with Truth be, urged. But there is one of a contrary tendency, where the governor is not to issue money, but by his warrant by and with the advice and consent of the council.

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“But the assembly may, nevertheless, be PERMITTED, from time to time, to view and examine all accompts of money disposed of by virtue of laws made by them.”

If the instruction giving the council a power to frame, alter and amend money bills, is of force and validity, which, being incorporated with the law, can admit of no doubt, it must authorise them likewise to look into every thing relative to such bills: For it would imply a gross absurdity to give a Power of doing a thing, composed of various parts, a consideration of every one of which is necessary to form the judgment, and at the same time to restrain the exercise of that judgment, by concealing any one of those parts: For it is a known and uncontroverted rule, that qui finem dat, dat media ad finem necessaria,4 in order to accomplish any end proposed, you must make use of the necessary means for it; and the more so in this province, where many of these accompts are for services done by the advice of council, who must therefore be the best judges of them.

From an obstinate perseverance in that mistaken opinion, that because an independent body, which acknowledges no Superior, enjoys certain rights and privileges, that therefore an inferior subordinate and dependent body has an equal claim to them, this province may be drawn into real dangers, and finally suffer the greatest evils.

The disparity between this province and her mother-country is great and obvious; there the people cannot be bound by any law that is not made with their own consent. The people of this province likewise, it is true, do consent to the making of laws for their own government in a limited and qualified Way. But it is well known, that they are bound by laws made not only without, but even against their consent,* whenever the parliament of Great-Britain find it necessary to interpose their authority for OUR GOOD, which either we do not see or do not pursue; as they undoubtedly will do in preventing our drawing evils on ourselves by too immoderate and frantic an use of those privileges we are now permitted to enjoy.

But as the gradations in Vice are regularly progressive, ’till they terminate in a dissolute and abandoned course of life, so the Claims of the assembly with regard to privileges, which at first began by making small advances Edition: current; Page: [1604] upon our constitution without receiving any check, have gradually risen to such a pitch, that every new whim and conceit of splenetic Mind or innovating Genius, is immediately resolved into privilege. And as power is ever assuming, and ill brooks controul, a doctrine is lately laid down and publicly avowed by them, in a message of the 15th of April to the governor, in which they deny any legislative power or authority to be in the council: This point once gained, this restraint upon any exorbitancy of an assembly once removed, all power must of course center with them. This was the plan of 1648: That succeeded; and the train of evils that flowed from it are too notorious to be expatiated upon. This is the object now struck at, and to serve that purpose is the stroke given. Too plain is the design to be misunderstood, of too great consequence is it to be passed over without observation.

Granting, say they, that the persons appointed by the king as council to advise his majesty’s governors in America, have a power to act in a legislative capacity, or as an upper house, as the council are pleased to call themselves, which we think may be denied with a great deal of Reason, ’till an Act of Parliament shall be made to give them such a Power, &c.

Perhaps it might have too much the air of Sarcasm to admit this proposition, and to ask in consequence of it, when the act of parliament passed to give the Assembly the privileges of the house of commons in Great-Britain? Whether the crown has not as much power to appoint a council, as it has to give the liberty of chusing an assembly? And whether the assembly claim any authority as a legislative body, but immediately from the crown, and in the same Right that the council do?

As the present circumstances of our affairs require a speedy supply to his majesty, especially the important work of building a fort in the Cherokee nation; and as the public good is our only aim, we are desirous to fall upon ANY EXPEDIENT that may save the province from the impending danger, therefore are READY TO PREPARE another bill for accomplishing these ends, which WE will present to your excellency, if you shall THINK FIT to give your assent to the same.

Their ZEAL is so predominant, that it is extraordinary to find an inclination in them to wait the formality of a governor’s assent. But it is difficult to reconcile this new manner of enacting laws by Two branches of the legislature with that part of the same message, where they say,

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“We look upon the British constitution to be the best that ever was established, we are very desirous, ’tis our only aim, to have the public business carried on in this province, as the same is done in our mother-country, as nearly as may be, and consistently with our charter, rights, and privileges.”

In Great-Britain laws are known to be enacted by three estates. That is admitted to be the best method: They would approach it as near as may be conveniently: They are the judges of that Convenience, and by a SUPERIORITY of genius have discovered that Two is nearest to Three. If they preferred four branches, they would equally as much resemble their mother-country. But the words of the charter, “as nearly as may be conveniently agreeable to the laws and customs of England refer to the Matter of the laws to be enacted, and not to the Persons or Branches enacting.

That the council have exercised a legislative right, though in a much inferior degree to the house of peers in Great-Britain, is evident from Experience: That they have at this time the same authority for exercising that right that the people indisputably have of sending representatives to the assembly, will appear as fully by the charter itself, as it does by the king’s commission to his governor.

This is certain, they are a body that the assembly are not so well acquainted with as they should be. If they had, they would not have fallen into the inconsistency of finding Fault with the imperfection in their constitution, because they are removable at pleasure and not hereditary as the house of lords are, and at the same time of pointing out the Benefit to the Public from the governor’s Power of suspending or removing them from their station. It would have been more discreet to have attacked the individuals than the body. It seems there is not that Pliancy in their disposition, that implicit Resignation to the opinion of the assembly, that the service of his majesty and the security of the province requires, therefore they hope his Excellency will please to suspend the Council, and appoint other Men according to their own heart, SUCH as they may gently lead into the path they would have them walk in. It is unlucky that, before they made their request, they had not discovered the governor’s Want of Power to gratify it, as they were no doubt well assured of his great Inclination to comply with whatever they desired. But they have now found, that the power given by the crown to suspend, is not arbitrary; it is so limited as not to admit of a wanton exercise of it, to gratify the caprice or humour of a Governor, or his most affectionate Friends; it is to Edition: current; Page: [1606] be made use of only against such as neglect or betray that trust which by the constitution they are invested with, and which by their oaths they have engaged faithfully and conscientiously to discharge.

Let the world consider, that the families and estates of the members of the council, such as they are, are mostly in this province, that the Advantages they receive from a long attendance as council to the governor in the executive part of government, and also as a branch of the legislature, are no greater than what the assembly receives,—the Satisfaction of serving their Country, and thereby rendering the truest and most acceptable Service to our Sovereign;—and that their seats in council are only during pleasure:—Then let them declare what Temptation there can be to induce the council to advance their momentary Power to the abridgment of the privileges of their POSTERITY, THEIR FRIENDS AND THEIR COUNTRYMEN.

It is immaterial whether the persons thus circumstanced, thus complained of, and exercising the second branch of the legislature, are called Deputies, Council, House, or BOARD, as the assembly affect to call them. The house of peers are known by various names, House of Lords, House of Peers, and the Upper House of Parliament. The name will make no variation in the substance and essence of the thing, and the powers belonging to it.

If the palatine was represented by the governor, the other lords proprietors by their deputies, and the people by their delegates, the three distinct branches are formed. If the lords proprietors deputies were appointed only to advise the governor, as the assembly would have the present council to do, then the other lords proprietors would not have an equal share of power with the palatine, nay they would be excluded from having any, whereas the right of legislation is given to every one equally with the palatine.

That these three distinct branches existed, is clear from the Recital in Archdale’s first law in 1695–6, where it is admitted and acknowledged, in the most explicit Terms, by the whole community.

Whereas the lords proprietors, out of their paternal care of us the inhabitants of this their colony, have been graciously pleased to impower and commissionate John Archdale to do and act such things, with the Advice and CONSENT of three or more of their deputies, and by and with the Advice and CONSENT of the delegates and representatives of the people, as to him and THEM shall seem most to conduce, &c. therefore the representatives of the people do in most humble Manner Edition: current; Page: [1607] pray the Governor and THE LORDS PROPRIETORS DEPUTIES that it may be enacted.

And then follows the enacting stile that always had been used, and was continued to the time of the people’s renouncing their charter, “By palatine, and the REST of the true and absolute lords proprietors of this province, by and with the advice and consent of the REST of the members of the general assembly.”

That these DEPUTIES were a COUNCIL, appears from the act for building a state-house in 1712.

The commissioners shall form the model of the said house after such manner as it may most conveniently answer the end for which it is designed; that it shall contain a handsome convenient room for the COUN-CIL, a large hall for the HOUSE OF COMMONS, and closets for the papers belonging to THE COUNCIL AND HOUSE OF COM-MONS.

Many of the lords proprietors disallowances and repeals of acts passed here, shew the same thing.

“To the governor and COUNCIL of South-Carolina.

The term, “and the REST of the members of the general assembly,” shews there were more than Two distinct estates: For if the deputies were no branch of the legislature, the form of enacting would have been, By the Palatine and the Members of the General Assembly; or, as the form is in Pennsylvania, by {blank} governor, &c. by and with the Advice and Consent of the Freemen in General Assembly met.

But if this had been otherwise, it is plain, that the People themselves understood, and tho’t it most eligible, that there should be Three distinct branches of the legislature; for at the intermediate Time between their renouncing the proprietary government, and the king’s receiving them more immediately under his own government, when they modelled the legislature ACCORDING TO THEIR OWN WISH, we see the laws enacted by the Governor, by and with the Advice and Consent of THE COUNCIL, and the Representatives.

Upon a further perusal, will be found this title to an act in 1722.

“An estimate of the charges of the government, that is and will be due on the 25th of March next 1723, to be provided for by the General Assembly, and agreed to by the Committee of BOTH HOUSES appointed for that purpose.”

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This ERROR in calling and considering the middle branch of the legislature, Deputies, Council, and HOUSE, prevailed ’till the present enlightened assembly made this new discovery.

For no longer ago than the 11th of May 1754, the assembly, in their address to the governor, take notice of his Affection and Regard for the Welfare of the province, lately expressed in his excellency’s speech to BOTH HOUSES.

When the majority of the assembly become better acquainted with the excellency of the British constitution, they will discern the indulgence that has been shewn to this province by extending the essential parts of it hither. They will not, it is to be hoped, assert against Reason, as they have done against Fact and Experience: They will, it is to be wished, at least have so much regard for their Posterity, as not to draw on them those evils, which their forefathers have avoided, by not presuming to call in question that power that is co-eval and co equal with their own.

If this truth can be any longer doubted of, let them cast their eyes a little further, and read the Introduction to every disallowance and repeal by the king, of acts passed here since his majesty’s taking this province under his more immediate protection.

“Whereas BY COMMISSION UNDER THE GREAT SEAL OF GREAT-BRITAIN the governor, COUNCIL, and assembly are authorized and impowered to make, constitute and ordain laws, &c.”

But the favourite proposition is, that the legislative Power of the Council must be annihilated. Assertions take the place of Argument. The charter, it is said, gives them no such Power; that nothing can give them such a Power but an act of parliament; and that no such Power has been given them by any act of parliament; that the constitution of this country is composed of only Two legislative branches, a governor and the commons house of assembly; and therefore that the commons house of assembly presenting a bill for any purposes of government to the governor, and his assenting to it, will give it the force and validity of a law.

And then again immediately, as if they were determined to be confuted by the changing Sides, “The council are a Branch of the Legislature; for they WANTONLY reject tax bills, they withheld tax-bills; from this conduct of theirs, in not passing Bills, our Grievances arise; by this we are UNAVOIDABLY exposed to Dangers, Calamities, Evils, &c.

Thus their arguments, like two-edged Swords, are intended to cut on the opposite sides. Some may be made proselytes of by One Part, and some by Edition: current; Page: [1609] the other. If all can but be brought, even by different Principles, into the same Opinion, laying blame or odium on the council, the Point is gained, and the End answered.

Mistake may admit of excuse, as condour will acknowledge and correct it when discovered: But this absurdity has its foundation in Malice: And as the Superstructure is composed of ill-connected parts, it will, like other bad Buildings, fall to pieces without the help of any extraneous force.

Can it be convincing or conclusive to a common understanding, to be told, that the council cannot proceed with a bill, and that their doing it would be to assume a Power they have not, and yet that they are to blame for NOT having proceeded in it.

The council admit, that they act as a legislative body by virtue of no other power or authority than his majesty’s SIGN-MANUAL, and his majesty’s COMMISSION and INSTRUCTIONS to his governor; and they take an OATH to defend all his majesty’s Jurisdictions, Pre-eminences, and Authorities by act of parliament or OTHERWISE.

Besides the instructions already mentioned, there is one that obliges “the governor to observe, in passing all laws, that the stile of enacting the same be, by the GOVERNOR, COUNCIL, and ASSEMBLY.”

Another says, “That in every act which shall be transmitted (and all are ordered to be transmitted) the several Dates, or respective Times when the same passed the ASSEMBLY, the COUNCIL, and received YOUR ASSENT, be particularly expressed.”

But if it was admitted, for argument’s sake, that it is unconstitutional for the council to be a branch of the legislature, that they never did exercise any such power, that his majesty never gave or intended to give them any such, and even that he has no Authority to give any such: but that he has so circumscribed the power of his governor, that he cannot give his assent to any bill without having the advice and consent of the council so to do.

What are the advantages that will accrue to the province from such an admission? Will the business of the public be more expeditiously or better carried on?

If this practice should prevail, let the Errors of a bill presented to the governor by the assembly be ever so gross, or ever so numerous, they must either be enacted into a law, or the unexceptionable parts of the bill must drop.

The governor lays it before the council, and asks their advice and consent whether he shall assent to it.—They are of opinion he ought not.—What Edition: current; Page: [1610] then?—He cannot pass it: And the bill must die. For the only parliamentary step the governor can take is, either to assent to it, or to say, he will consider of it; which is his parliamentary Language of rejecting it.

If it is a bill of that consequence, that the public will suffer for the want of what is intended to be provided for by it, there must be a Prorogation, that it may be altered and brought in again, and so {toties quoties?} from PASSION-WEEK even to CHRISTMAS-Week, ’till the council think it is brought to such a degree of perfection, that the governor may assent to it.

If a tax-bill is laid before them by the governor; they find a Schedule is referred to; they can’t judge of the Propriety or of the Truth of the Allegations in it, without seeing that Schedule; that Schedule refers to Accompts, upon which it is founded; they cannot say the public does not pay too much, or that the creditor of the public has as much as in conscience and justice he ought to have, without seeing those Accompts; they will not give the governor their advice in a blind and implicit manner to assent to the bill. Is not the advice to be given according to Judgment? Can a judgment be formed without having the Facts before them?

According to this Refinement of the constitution, in all human probability no bill would ever pass. As it is, messages frequently pass, and conferences are held, between the council and assembly, before the bills are brought to such maturity as to be fit for the governor’s assent.

Upon this plan of Refinement, the council’s power over the bill would be as great as it is at present; the inconveniences and delays to the members of assembly would be greater; and the public would at last be deprived of that Benefit they had reason to promise themselves from the sage and important Appearance of so many Representatives.

Upon a Recapitulation of the several parts of this Vindication, it will be found, that if the repeated advice of the council had been fortunately attended to, the fort in the Cherokees had been long since built; after many opportunities had been lost, that yet a small detachment might have been at Tennessee the End of February last, and the whole body by the Middle of April. The not passing the tax-bill in April could not surely have been foreseen in January; nor could a transaction in April have prevented those that were to be employed from leaving the town in February and March.

And therefore, that the governor’s not fulfilling his engagements to the Cherokees cannot arise from the council’s not passing the tax-bill.

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Had the assembly sent the accounts according to constant Usage, instead of attempting to destroy the legislative powers of the council, the tax-bill would have been proceeded in. It was in the power of the assembly, by doing this, to remedy the evils they complain of. By this, it was in the power of the assembly, not only to have carried on the fortifications in Charles-Town, but to have given maintenance to many of the Acadians by employing them in those works, since they would not remove the Dangers apprehended from them, and which, in one of their messages to the governor, they said they could not lose Sight of.

It has appeared, that the Precariousness and Uncertainty of passing tax-laws do not proceed from the council; but from the assembly’s setting up NEW claims and pretences, speciously disguised with the name of Privileges, though ill founded and unsupported by Usage or Reason, which they would sooner suffer the public to be shipwreck’d, than they would recede from.

It has been evident also, that the council’s having rejected two tax-bills did not proceed from Wantonness in them; but from a lavish, or to use with Propriety an expression adopted in the remonstrance, a wanton provision being made and insisted upon by the assembly for the supposed services of a person, when they had no evidence to produce of his Merit: That their passing the third, transcribed Verbatim from the second, did not arise from a conviction that they had acted wrong in rejecting the other two, but from a superior consideration, from a generous regard for the honour of Carolina; that the province might not labour under the disgrace and imputation of not having exerted itself in defence of his majesty’s just rights, after the point so essential to the constitution as the Independency of the council, as a Branch of the legislature, had been so fully established by their rejecting the two former bills.

It has been obvious, that the commons house of assembly have not, nor can, consistently with the constitution of this province, enjoy ALL the same privileges that are enjoyed by the house of commons in Great-Britain; and that the council must, agreeable to this constitution, exercise a legislative power, though in a much inferior degree to that exercised by the house of peers in Great-Britain; and that without such power, the constitution of this province can in no respect be said to have any Affinity with that of Great-Britain, the excellence of which commands our Admiration, as our imitation of it will insure our Safety, and which the assembly cannot imitate without acknowledging that power in the council as A FIRST PRINCIPLE.

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Upon the whole.

The council are filled with the greatest zeal for his majesty’s honour and the welfare of this province; and they sincerely lament the unhappy situation it must be in, from the interruptions that have been, and are likely to be, given to the public business in general assembly. The satisfaction they receive from a conviction that they don’t contribute towards it, administers but small consolation to them. They would not have made this appeal to the public, if they had not perceived Jealousies infused into people’s minds, in order to cast an Odium upon their conduct. When it has been so publicly arraigned, it becomes them to break thro’ a silence (which their moderation hath hitherto imposed upon them) which might be looked upon as an admission of those charges that have been so laboriously misrepresented and so industriously propagated. They are not in the least desirous of making any advances or encroachments upon the privileges of others, but their duty to his majesty, to their country, and to themselves, call upon them to defend the Post that has been entrusted to their care.

All that they have had in view, upon this disagreeable occasion, hath been to clear themselves from blame, where it has unjustly been cast upon them. And if in the course of this vindication any unwelcome Truths are fixed on those, whose misrepresentations have obliged them to lay open the real state of things, it has been involuntary and extorted from them. They have avoided all fallacious Arts, or Asperity of Language, that might give specious Colours or a keener Edge to their arguments. The Justice of their cause needs not the one, nor would their Moderation admit of the other, however excusable in them the Treatment they have received might have rendered it.

It is not for want of a DUE RESPECT that no notice is taken AT PRESENT of his excellency’s ANSWER to the REMONSTRANCE. Perhaps a little Time, though it may be needless to give MORE LIGHT, may give a more PROPER OPPORTUNITY,

By Order of the House,
William Simpson, C.C.
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57: [Landon Carter], A Letter to a Gentleman in London, from Virginia (Williamsburg, 1759)

During the Seven Years’ War, many colonies lacked the liquid capital to pay for the large expenditures they made for defense without issuing paper money, secured in various ways but usually by a government pledge to accept it for taxes, and most such issues were designated legal tender. Virginia, which had never previously resorted to paper money, was among the colonies that now issued it. Parliament having prohibited the issue of legal tender paper currency in the four New England colonies by a 1751 statute, London authorities took a dim view of such issues but, given the need for colonial help with defense against the French, they had little choice but to accept them. In the case of Virginia, the British merchants who dominated the tobacco trade between Virginia and Britain worried that the Virginians might use the legal tender stipulation to pay their considerable debts to them in depreciated paper. They expressed their worries in a memorial to the Board of Trade, which sent it along to Virginia. In this selection, Landon Carter, an important member of the House of Burgesses, defended the legislature’s issuing of such currency as a product of wartime necessity and, bristling with indignation against the charge that Virginians might try to defraud their British creditors, explained that the statutes authorizing the issues protected creditors against being paid in depreciated paper by requiring the judiciary to reset the value of the currency in relation to sterling at frequent, regular intervals. This exchange marked the beginning of a long debate, the result of which was that Parliament, by the Currency Act of 1764, extended the prohibition against the issue of legal tender money to the colonies south of New England. (J.P.G.)

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to a

Gentleman in LONDON,




Printed by William Hunter.


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A Letter to a Gentleman in London.


Having lately seen in the Journals of the Assembly of this Colony, held in 1758, a long Memorial, addressed to the Right Honorable the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations, by the Merchants of London, in Behalf of themselves and of their Correspondents, Merchants of Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow, trading and interested in the Colony of Virginia, I cannot help entertaining you with some Observations upon it; and, that you may judge of the Justice with which they are made, I have transcribed the whole Memorial, as it appears on the Journals aforesaid.


That the General-Assembly of Virginia have lately passed an Act, whereby their Provincial Treasurer is authorized, for the Purposes therein mentioned, to issue Paper Notes to the Amount of £.80,000 which said Paper Notes so issued and rated at Proclamation Money by the said Act of Assembly, are thereby declared to be a lawful Tender in Payment of any Debt or Demand whatever, excepting his Majesty’s Quitrents.

That your Petitioners having very large Sums of Money now due to them in the said Province, in the Way of Trade, upon Bargains and Contracts made with the Inhabitants of Virginia; and for, and on their Account, do moreover stand bound to the Tradesmen in Great-Britain for large Sums: All which said Bargains and Contracts, by general Agreement, are payable in Sterling, or at the Rate of Sterling, lawful Money of this Kingdom; and were entered into, and concluded, long before the Issuing of such Notes, and before any such Traffick, by Way of Paper-Money, was known or heard of in the Virginia Trade.

Your Memorialists therefore beg Leave hereupon to remonstrate to your Lordships the very great Injury that may arise to the trading Interest of these Kingdoms, and more particularly to your Memorialists, from the Virginia Act, as it now stands; not only by Reason that it does affect Debts, Bargains and Contracts, due to the Merchants of these Kingdoms, expresly stipulated payable to them, before the passing of the Act, in Sterling, or at the Rate of Sterling, lawful Money of Great-Britain, but does moreover invert the Nature of Trade, from a certain to an uncertain Edition: current; Page: [1616] Value of Profit and Loss: And, in so far, your Memorialists do conceive the said Act to be arbitrary and unjust; arbitrary, because it does, ex post facto, extend to Debts due on Bargains and Contracts made before the passing of the Act; unjust, by Reason that it does depreciate the Nature of such Debts, by making Debts (payable in Sterling Money, of universal Value) to be received in Paper Notes of a local, uncertain, and fluctuating Value, at the same Time that no Provision is made by the Act for making Payment in such Notes ad valorem of Sterling, according to the Difference of Exchange between such Paper-Money and Sterling, when Payment is made; which Provision, on Principles of Law and common Equity, ought to have been made: In so far, therefore, as that your Memorialists may be very great Sufferers from the Defects in the said Act as it now stands, as well as from a Clause in one other Act that passed in the said Province Anno 1748, intituled, An Act declaring the Law concerning Executions, and for the Relief of insolvent Debtors, whereby Executions for Sterling Debts shall be levied in current Money, at the Rate of 25 per Cent. Advance on Sterling for the Difference of Exchange, and not otherwise.

Your Memorialists do therefore humbly offer to your Lordships Consideration an Expedient which your Memorialists apprehend may fully answer the End proposed by your Memorialists by guarding against the Injury that may arise from the said Acts, with respect to your Memorialists Properties and the Trade of this Kingdom, and at the same Time no ways defeat the Operation of the Paper Money Act, with regard to the military Services thereby intended; which Expedient is viz. That the Governor of Virginia be instructed by his Majesty to urge to the Assembly the passing another Act for explaining and amending the Act now in Question, and thereby provide that all Debts, Bargains, or Contracts, that were entered into before the passing of the said Act shall remain and stand payable according to the Nature of such Debts, Bargains or Contracts. And that all Bargains or Contracts that have been heretofore made, or that may hereafter be made and entered into, in the Course of Trade or otherwise, between these Kingdoms and Virginia, if the same shall be expresly stipulated and made payable according to Sterling or lawful Money of Great-Britain; that then and in such Cases such Paper Notes so issued or that hereafter may be issued, or any other Species of Current Money not being Sterling, shall not be deemed a lawful Tender in Payment of any such Debt, Bargain, or Contract, so entered into, payable in Sterling or lawful Money of Great-Britain, unless the Person or Edition: current; Page: [1617] Persons to whom such Payment is tendered in Paper Notes or in any other Species of Current Money shall think proper to accept thereof in such Paper Notes or other Species of Current Money, if the same shall be offered to him or them, according to the Difference of Exchange between such Paper Notes and other Species of Current Money, at the Time when such Paper Notes or other Species of Current Money shall be so offered in Payment of Sterling Debts, &c. And that the Person or Persons so accepting of Payment in Paper Notes or in any other Species of Current Money, according to the Difference of Exchange between Sterling and Paper Curency, and such other Species of Current Money, shall be deemed and held as fully paid and satisfy’d for his and their Debts to all Intents and Purposes as if such Payment had been made in Sterling or lawful Money of Great-Britain, any thing in the aforesaid Act or in any other Act to the contrary notwithstanding.

To an Amendment of this Nature your Memorialists conceive the Assembly of Virginia can make no Objection, in so far as that it is bonâ fide founded on Principles of common Justice and the Laws of this Kingdom, and more particularly agreeable to the Act of the Sixth Year of her late Majesty Queen Anne, whereby foreign Silver is made Current in the Plantations, but in due Proportion as the intrinsick Value thereof is to Sterling. And at the same Time it is thereby provided that all such Species of Silver Coin so made Current shall not affect Contracts or Bargains made prior to the Act. And it is thereby further provided that nothing in the said Act shall be construed to compel any Person or Persons whatsoever to receive in Payment any of the said Species of such foreign Silver Coin as the same is rated in the Act. In so far therefore as that the Amendment proposed by your Memorialists to the Act of Virginia, coincides with Equity and the Laws of England, and with the Regard that is at all Times due to the trading Interest of these Kingdoms, and with the Justice due to your Memorialists in this particular Case.

From such Considerations your Memorialists humbly hope for your Lordships Interposition with his Majesty for an Instruction to the Governor of Virginia, for the Purposes aforesaid, and that your Lordships will be pleased to suspend giving Judgment upon the Virginia Act as it now stands by way of Approbation thereof, ’til such Time as the Sense of the Assembly of that Province is had upon the Amendments proposed thereto.

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As to the Memorial, by Way of general Observation, I say, it appears from the Complexion of it, to be a Performance wholely dictated by an uncommon Kind of Partiality, and the grossest Species of Weakness imaginable: For from the wording of it, it is evident, that it is but of very late Date that any Paper Money was heard of in Virginia. It would therefore have been but Justice, previous to any Complaint in an Instance so rare, and new, to have made some Enquiry into the Cause of making such an Act; especially if it is attended with such dreadful Consequences as it is represented to be. They would then have found that not only extreme Poverty, but even extreme Danger, united to compel the Colony to fall on some Expedient for raising Money to defray the Expences of an Army that they were under the greatest Necessity imaginable of collecting together, to secure themselves against the rapid Incursions of a cruel and barbarous Enemy. And that before they attempted to substitute Paper or any Thing in Lieu of what I find is by Merchants only called, Money, they had used every Method of borrowing Money at a greater Interest than common, and if I am not much mistaken, Application was even made to some of these complaining Gentlemen, but with very little Success. Such an Enquiry would not only have explained the Cause of making such an Act, by shewing the Dilemma that the Country was in (for altho’ many Gentlemen discovered on the Occasion a truly Patriot Spirit, yet it was impossible for private Fortunes to go any serviceable Length in such an Affair) but it might possibly have convinced Men, calling so loudly for Equity, Law, Justice, and what not, that such an Act was exceedingly proper, and indeed well precedented; for we find even limited Monarchies and Commonwealths have done the same Thing in such distressed Circumstances: Some have coined in the Field, and others have substituted baser Metals in the Room of Gold and Silver which they had not, to answer their pressing Occasions. Surely then they who shall apply the Words Arbitrary and Unjust to a Transaction truely similar as to its Circumstances, to what has before been deemed necessary and passed uncensured, must either be very bad Haberdashers of Epithets, or Men of low and selfish Notions. Should it be said that Virginia ought not to be considered with respect to its Power of making Laws in the Light of a limited Monarchy or Commonwealth; I answer that whenever any People are reduced to the before mentioned Necessity, it is an incontestable Argument for the Exertion of every Degree of Power, since it is certainly ultimately exercised for the absolute Benefit of that very State from which a Power Edition: current; Page: [1619] of the same Nature must necessarily have been granted, had it been near enough to have extended it in a proper Time: Such a Power therefore is always imply’d in the very Nature of Things, let the Degree of Subjection be what it will; and the Consequence of its not being so, would in the Case of any potent and sudden Invasion be the Loss of the Colony to that very State which claims the Subjection, unless Matters shall be conducted hereafter with much greater Precaution, than has hitherto been experienced. To prevent any Thing that may be advanced against this Argument with Respect to the distressed Situation of the Colony, on Account of the Assistance sent to it under General Braddock, or the £. 20000 remitted to the Honorable Robert Dinwiddie, the then Governor; I say in the former Instance, it was more distressed by the Defeat suffered, than it was before the Assistance was sent; for the unexpected Victory inspired the Enemy, with greater Boldness, and if possible lessened their Humanity. In the Instance of the Money, the Person intrusted is perhaps able to assign some Reason why not more than £. 800 was expended, or apply’d to the Use of the Colony, or Maintenance of their Army.

And here I think I ought to be a little explicit, and disclose a Matter somewhat scandalous in the transacting. Mr. Dinwiddie, from a general Foresight in turning the Penny (always distinguishable in him) having ordered certain Necessaries for the Use of the Forces, under the Command of General Braddock, refused absolutely to discharge the Accounts of the Persons employ’d to procure the same to the Amount of £. 1236 - 11 - 2, pretending that he could not regularly carry those Articles to Account with the Government in England, and by frequent Solicitations to the Committee appointed for the Disposal of the Money raised here for the Defence of the Colony, he engaged them to pay that Sum under a most solemn Promise of subjecting to their Order £. 5000 that remained in his Hands out of the above mentioned £. 20000, which he alledged might be regularly done, as that Money was remitted to him for the Use of the Colony; but when the Assembly addressed him to dispose of a Part of that £. 5000 for building a Fort in the Cherokee Country; a Thing recommended to them as necessary to preserve the Friendship of those People, he returned for Answer, that he had no more remaining in his Hands of the above £. 20000 than the £. 800 before mentioned; accordingly no more than that Sum was apply’d as is before expressed. So that the Country instead of being benefitted by that Remittance from England, was not a little injured in as much as it was Edition: current; Page: [1620] properly speaking the Means of their loosing £. 435 - 11 - 2 of their own Money in this Instance alone. I might add further, that at the Time the above Sum of £. 20000 was in that Gentleman’s Hands, or at his Disposal, he was graciously pleased to lend the Country the Sum of £. 3000 at the exorbitant Interest of Six per Cent. which was punctually paid him. These Facts are too true to be deny’d, and although the Sum perhaps may be too trifling for the Enquiry of a British Parliament, yet certainly as it was a very glaring Abuse of the good Intentions of the People of England, it seems but just that the Public should be satisfy’d with an impartial Examination into the Conduct of that Gentleman, in this Particular at least, since from his own Mouth, we have been informed that the M——y at Home had complimented him with £. 2000 of that Money as a Recompence for his extraordinary Care in the Disposal of it.

Now as this was the Situation of the Country, could any Thing but mere Partiality and Weakness dictate a Complaint against an Act so immediately conducive to its Preservation. Thus far I observe of the Memorial in general, I shall now treat it in a more particular Manner, and pursue it as paragraphically as may be in order to shew that the Partiality with which I charge it, is of such a Nature as will not endure a Disguise even with the false Shew of Reasoning which seems to have been purposely adapted quite thro’ it.

I. We are told that the Paper Notes emitted by the Act are by it declared to be a lawful Tender in Payment of any Debt or Demand whatever (excepting his Majesty’s Quitrents.) I agree it is so declared in the Act, and of what Use would such Notes have been, or to what Purpose should they have been issued at all, if they were not to be Current in all Cases. Gentlemen may attempt to gloss over their Endeavours by talking of Expedients for making the Act serviceable for the military Purposes for which it was intended, and yet not general as to the Currency of these Notes; but I beg Leave to say it is nothing more than a Piece of artful Nonsense; for what are the military Services of Money, but the paying of the Soldiers, and purchasing the Stores necessary for War; and could any Man be hired to fight for a Cash that he could not pay his Debts with, but at the Option of his Creditor? And who is there that would part with any Kind of Stores for a Piece of Paper that should only be useful at the Will of another that might think proper to deal with him? If then it is necessary that such Notes should be a current Tender in such Cases; why not in all Cases? Why is a Debt in England of Edition: current; Page: [1621] greater Dignity? Kings indeed have a just Right to such Exceptions, their privy Purses ought always to be kept sacred from any Touch, but that of the last Instance: But Subjects have no Pretence to Immunities, one more than another, they must all equally enjoy an Advantage, or suffer a Calamity whenever it attends a Community. And I hope I am not arguing with Persons who do not think Virginia a Part of the British Community. Had this Law been calculated on the Footing of the Expedient, proposed by the Memorialists to their Lordships, it would have carried its own Insignificancy; that is, it would not have answered its Intention of raising Men for the War, which was necessarily aimed at; but I shall treat the Expedient in a more respectful Manner by taking full Notice of it, when it comes in its Turn, and I believe shew, however prettily it might read in a Countinghouse, it would meet with a quite different Fate at a Bar of Equity.

II. We are told in what Manner the Merchants are affected by the Act.

The Inhabitants of the Colony are indebted to them in large Sums of Money. Furthermore the Merchants on Account of these Inhabitants are bound to the Tradesmen of Great-Britain in large Sums; both of which were by general Agreement payable in Sterling, or at the Rate of Sterling, and this by Contracts concluded long before the issuing of any Paper Money in Virginia.

I think we have here a Declaration of the whole Cause of their Complaint, that is, 1st, The Planters are indebted to them; 2dly, They are furthermore indebted to them; for I am persuaded however artfully they may have divided on this Article of Debt, it is but one and the same Thing, that is, a Debt to the Merchants from the Planters; but it seems to have been necessary here to represent the whole City, nay the several Kingdoms of Great-Britain, likely to be endangered by this Act, in order to raise the greater Clamor against it. I shall not do Justice to the Weakness of this Paragraph, if I do not here take Notice of a Discovery made by it, that I am sure many Merchants of the City of London, have deny’d to be the Case when charged with it in private Letters. We have had many of us for some Time past, great Reason to own the Thing is unhappily true in the first Instance, of our being indebted. Unhappily in as much as the Generality of Creditors are a Kind of lording Tyrants over their unfortunate Debtors, notwithstanding the undoubted Securities pledged, and the annual Tribute paid in, of a very high tho’ lawful Interest. And to this we do attribute (and we presume with Edition: current; Page: [1622] great Truth too) the Growth of many Innovations and arbitrary Charges (to use the Gentlemen’s own Language) that have been and are every now and then brought to Account to keep the poor Dogs of Debtors deep in their Books, and render the Redemption of their Freedom impossible, by thus lowering the Produce of their Commodity, that they may continue under the Obligation of sending it to them alone, thro’ Fear of more apparent Persecutions. I say this we knew, and we have had great Reason to believe (that notwithstanding the Merchants always took Care to carry every Article of Goods as soon as shipped to the Account of the Planter) they were nevertheless in Arrears to the Tradesmen for them, from their being so observably rated above the same Things purchased with ready Money; but it was never certainly known to be so till this Declaration made, which I call a Discovery, and I am much mistaken if they were aware of making it, at the Time they were endeavouring to interest others in their Complaints. Now tho’ this artful Division of theirs is but a weak Effort in them; yet it opens to us a prodigious Aggravation of the Misfortunes of those that are indebted to them, in as much as they are not only obliged to pay dearer, for the Necessaries they send for, from the advanced Price of the Tradesmen, always added for long Credit given; but are loaded with Interest in the Merchants Accounts on that advanced Price; which must needs be a large annual Sum out of the Profits of the Colony, put into the Pocket of the Merchant; a Practice not so well founded as to admit of a common Justification: But I shall forbear to consider this any further here, as it is an Article that may one Day make a very good Figure amongst many others, in a Complaint from this Side of the Water, when the Leisure of a British Parliament shall admit of an Enquiry into the real Causes of the distressed Situation of their Colonies; and some truly noble Spirit shall glory in exerting itself for that Benefit, which has so long been desired.—Let the Attempt be thine, O Fauquier, to complete thy Goodness, thine to explode and remove all unnatural and destructive Jealousies, and by thy Happiness demonstrate to distant and succeeding Delegations, that it is the Patriot Governor alone that can represent the Patriot KING. Nor deem thou this as a Drop bubling from the nauseous Fountain of Flattery: No ’tis the Dictate of a Mind that enjoys more than Kings can confer, a contented Condition; a Mind that has no Demand against thee but what must centre in its Country’s Good; a Mind that disdains all Praise or Commendation to any dignify’d Character but such as is made truly glorious by public Virtue. Now let me ask the Edition: current; Page: [1623] Gentlemen how a Debt from the Planters to the Merchants came to be made an Introduction to their Complaints. It does indeed shew a Connection they have with the Colony, but I beg Leave to say, they are not in that Connection, in the least affected by any new Thing in the Act. They acknowledge the Debts due from the Colony, were by general Agreement dischargeable in Sterling or at the Rate of Sterling Money; and does this Act say they shall not be so discharged? No, nor was it ever intended to operate in such a Manner; it says indeed, that the Paper Notes so issued, shall be a lawful Tender in Payment of any Debt or Demand whatever, and these Words do expresly imply ad valorem, with Respect to Sterling Debts, and it is not in the Power of the most quibbling Petyfogger to cavil long enough to draw any other Meaning out of them. ’Tis a known Rule in the Construction of Statutes, that two Acts equally subsisting shall only operate in the Manner in which they are truly reconcileable, and this for a very good Reason, otherwise every new Statute must be extended so as to take in all the Laws that are relative to the Matter contained in such Statute, which would be perhaps constructing a Volume every Session of Parliament too large for any one Man’s Perusal, and might be productive of great Confusion, which is too often the Case in frequent Revisals. When therefore a subsisting Act has fully regulated any Matter or Thing, a succeeding Statute not expresly or virtually repealing it, shall not be extended to defeat the Purpose of the proceeding Act. I will exemplify it in the Case before us, to shew the Justice of it, tho’ there seems to be little Need of any Exemplification, as there is scarcely a Book treating of Statutes that does not confirm it. There was an Act made in 1748, which the Memorialists have recited, declaring that Executions for Sterling Debts should be levied in Current Money at the Rate of Twenty-five per Cent. Advance on Sterling, and not otherwise. The Act in the Paper Emission in no Part either virtually or expresly repeals or contradicts it; can the Clause then, allowing the Tender of Paper Notes in Payment of any Debt whatever, mean with Respect to Sterling Debts any Thing else, but that such Tender shall be made according to the Act in Force, before the making the Act for Paper Emission, and was that Law in 1748 still in Force could such Tender made under the Paper Act be good, unless it had been made at the Rate of Twenty-five per Cent. And as this was the then ad valorem between Sterling and Currency, how can the Merchant be affected by the Paper Act, as to his Sterling Debt, Bargain, or Contract. This may be a Method out of the Way of Reasoning with these Gentlemen, but if they Edition: current; Page: [1624] will wade in Waters that they are Strangers to, they should apply to those who are acquainted with them, before they rush into Fears and Apprehensions and expose themselves by mere groundless Complaints. From hence it appears any other Construction upon the Act complained of would be against the Rule of Law, and I must say, Against the Rule of common Sense too, for they might as well in my Opinion, carry the Tender in the Act to a Payment of a Debt in Tobacco, which would be an Absurdity, if there was no Limitation of the Words to be allowed. The Gentlemen must now excuse me if I tell them, that altho’ they have laid their Complaint against the Act, in the Defect of it with Respect to a Provision for Sterling Debts; I cannot think that they or their Draftsman were really so ignorant as not to know, that this Act did not stand in Need of any such Clause; but that by the amending Clause in the Expedient proposed to their Lordships, they intended some Thing further, and that their sole Motive for complaining was, that they should not be obliged to take these Notes at any Rate at all, but as they pleased. Should this be the Case, they are not only Men of very inhumane Principles, but notwithstanding their long Practice in the Arts of Profit and Loss, very bad Politicians, as to their particular Interest. Inhumane in that they would either compel a Man to do an Impossibility, (viz.) Pay a Debt in a particular Coin, when it is not in his Power to acquire one Penny of it to do it with, or else pay it in such a Manner, as would oblige him to Part with all that he has: For if there was to be no Restriction set as to the Value of Sterling Money, and the Difference wholly left to the Will of the Creditor, it would be vesting such Creditor with the most arbitrary Rule in the World, and from the very Nature of complaining in all such Cases, it would be giving up the Debtor and his dependent Connections, as a Sacrifice to the certain Cruelty of the Creditor; for he that growls at the wholsome Restrictions Society shall think proper to establish between Man and Man, can only do it from an incompassionate and devouring Temper; in vain is Charity to be expected from him who contends against Laws that have Charity for their Basis. In England indeed where all the Currency they have is a rated Sterling, there can be no Occasion for a Law of this Kind to enable the Debtor to stop the Persecutions of his Creditor; but in Countries where Sterling is a Coin very little seen, such a Law is not only salutary for the Community, but highly Equitable and Just, between Man and Man, that they should be permitted to discharge their Money Debts, of what Kind or Nature soever, in the Currency of the Country in which they live, and it is Edition: current; Page: [1625] the true Business of the Legislature to keep such Laws at all Times subsisting; for Man left to his own Will over his Fellow Creatures, may sometimes fall into such Depravations of Mind, as to become more cruel than the most Savage Beast of Prey. As to their Politicks, I need only put a Case founded on a real Fact, to shew how bad they are with Respect to their Debts. Suppose a People to be so circumstanced as to have no Sterling at all amongst them, and very little of any other Coin, how can such a People be ever able to pay their Debts; few Commodities besides their Tobacco can be exported to any certain Market, but in the Way of Barter; their Tobacco seldom yields much more in England in common Crops, than is sufficient to purchase Necessaries and pay Interest; and should an accidental foreign Trade send a little of its Gold into that Country, a Tender ad valorem of that Gold, must necessarily be allowed, or that would be of little Service; if then it must be allowed in the Case of one Species of Currency, why should it not in all Kinds; would it not then be much easier for such Merchants to get their Debts paid by an established circulating Currency, than by none at all: A Debt so paid might in the Round of Trade (which Adventurers are well acquainted with) be carried Home to England, and there centre in Sterling, with a very fair and considerable Profit. I will now ask where is the material Difference between one Kind of Currency and another with Respect to Trade or Debts; but I bar the Man of miserly Habits from giving any Answer at all, he is first for the most Part a Stranger either to Trade or Debts, because he can scarcely trust himself, how then will he trust another. Again, the Wretch conceives such an inexpressible Pleasure in the counting and poring over his Golden Guineas, that I much question whether double the Sum in Bank-Bills would purchase them. ’Tis to the rational Trader alone that I apply, and such Merchants ought to be deemed; to them therefore I address myself, and I am persuaded I have their true Answer in this Memorial.

They tell us, the Act for emitting Paper-Money is unjust, by Reason that it depreciates the Nature of Sterling Debts, by making what was payable in a Coin of universal Value, payable in Notes of a local, uncertain, and fluctuating Value: If I understand these Terms right, we are to collect from them, that the Value of Sterling is universally agreed upon; and that Paper Notes have no Value at all, but in the Place they are made current; and that even the Value there is uncertain, because of its Fluctuation with Respect to the Value of Sterling: The material Difference between Paper and Sterling Edition: current; Page: [1626] must then lye in the Certainty of the one, and in the Uncertainty of the other. And is it not evident, that all other Species of Coin, with Respect to Sterling, are of the same uncertain Nature as Paper? Neither can Gold and Silver Coin be less so than Paper, as it must be rated by Sterling, the Scarcity or Plenty of which will certainly lower or advance the exchanging Difference; and to say that Gold and Silver Coin is current in more Places than the Paper Currency is, and therefore though local yet less confined, is but a Kind of begging the Question, and when it is granted, it makes very little in the Point, for in those Countries where Gold and Silver Coin are not current by Law, they are only to be considered as a trading Commodity, which is more or less vendible in Proportion to the Gain or Profit that is to be made by it, and there can be no Instance in which a Paper Currency that can be remitted to the Country where it is made current by Law, will not be as good a Commodity in Trade as Gold and Silver, but one; that is, where the trafficking or exchanging Difference between Gold and Silver and Sterling is greater than the intrinsick Difference; and as this can only happen from the too great Scarcity of Sterling Trade, should an Instance or two depending upon such an Accident be made such an Argument of as to decry a Paper Currency, when in every other Case it is equal to all other Coins, except Sterling: And as to Trade or Debts, I beg Leave to say they cannot be affected by it, for the Trader has it always in his Power to suit his Trade to his expected Payments; and the Sterling Debt, when paid in Paper, will always be paid in the exchanging Difference that is then circulating: To be injured, therefore, by the Paper Notes, the Trader or Creditor must put a Case that can only center in his own Neglect or Avarice; his Neglect, in not negociating it away in Time, before Exchange shall rise; Avarice, in keeping it by him, in Expectation that the Exchange is still falling, and from thence proposing a farther Gain to himself. Those who tell us, that Paper Currency has a farther Difference from Gold and Silver Coins, in that it is difficult to be realized; if they mean it is difficult to turn an Estate in Paper Notes into a landed, or any other permanent Estate, I answer it cannot be more so in that than it would be in other Coins, when the Act is considered; for that does absolutely bar all Difference between them, and when an Estate becomes vendible, it cannot by Law be of more Value in one than another: A Man, indeed, of a miserly Disposition might be tempted to part with a Tract of Land for Gold, when he would not for Paper; but that Gold he must keep useless, or clandestinely exchange it; for if he does it openly, he can get no Edition: current; Page: [1627] more for it than if it was Paper. Should a Man want to realize it, as they call it in England, he can as easily exchange it for Bills as Gold, if he does not care to venture it in the Commodity of the Country; and in no Instance does it differ with Respect to realizing from Gold and Silver Coins, but in the before-mentioned one, where the Plenty of such Coin shall so far exceed the Sterling Trade, as to make the exchanging Difference greater than the intrinsick: And thus, at last, does this Difficulty of realizing become greater in the one than the other, by the same Accident which I have before mentioned, and which must be so rare as scarcely to happen twice in a Man’s Life. I am pretty well satisfied, that these Arguments against the Virginia Paper Currency have been adopted from the Practice of other Colonies, where they have both Gold and Silver, and Paper Currencies, at a great Difference with Respect to each other; but it should be considered, that it is there a profitable Trade to the cunning Merchants, and that no Provision (as I am informed) was ever made against it in the Acts that emitted the Paper: But in Virginia this is in a great Measure prevented, and will be more so, as the Iniquities of such Trade shall from Time to Time be discovered; but here I beg Pardon for a Digression; I shall now consider the Arbitrariness, and Injustice charged on the Act by the Memorialists.

The Act they say not only inverts the Nature of Trade from a certain to an uncertain Value of Profit and Loss; but it extends ex post facto to Debts due on Bargains and Contract, made before the Passing of the Act, and therefore it is arbitrary. I was something puzzled to fix a Meaning to the certain Value of Profit and Loss in Trade, which this Act has overset, because from all the Ideas I could collect of Trade, it can have very little Certainty in it; there is always a Probability in it, and some Trades are more probable as to their Success than others; but as I know it was a Complaint against the Act, I have endeavoured to extract a Meaning out of it: That is, that before the Making of the Act, they used to Trade for Sterling only, which they call a Trade of certain Value, and since the Act they are obliged to Trade for Paper Currency, which is of uncertain Value. If this is the Accusation, I beg Leave to say, it is a Mistake, for they did not, nor could they trade any more for Sterling before the Making of the Act, than they do, or can since the Act; that is before the Act there was always a subsisting Currency in the Country, which they were obliged to take in Exchange for Sterling, trade how they would, and this Act does no more than introduce a new Kind of Currency, which these Gentlemen, as I have already shewn, are only pleased Edition: current; Page: [1628] to think meanly of, not that it materially differs from the Currency that subsisted before the making of the Act: Their Accusation therefore as to its inverting of Trade, &c. is vague and idle, and their ex post facto is of the same Stamp; they are Words that do not deserve my Notice, only to expose the Scheme couched in them, they know they give a retrospective Cast to the Act, and such is the popular Cry against a Retrospection in Statutes, that it is like bawling out a mad Dog in the Streets, which has been the Cause of violent Deaths to many an harmless and useful Cur. But I will first satisfy those who shall read me, that it is a Complaint ill founded, and then shew these Gentlemen, that whatever the common and vulgar Opinion may be of retrospective Acts, they may be the most salutary Acts imaginable to a Community in some Instances.

1st, ’Tis said the Act does ex post facto extend to Debts, &c. due before the Making of the Act. I say no Part of this is true, but that the Debts, &c. were contracted before the Act: And how does this Act extend to such Debts? In no other Manner than what they were always extended to, and must from the very Nature of Things have been extended to as soon as ever a Debt, &c. could possibly have been contracted: I say it must from the very Nature and Reason of Things, have been a Rule that every Person trading from Great-Britain in a Country where the particular Currency of that Country was of less Value than Sterling, that such Trader should be obliged to take his Debt or Contract in such Country, at some certain Discount, between the Currency of such Country and Sterling, or he must have traded solely by Barter; and if any one will give himself the Trouble of enquiring Back into the History of Exchange and Trade in this Colony, he will find that for a long Time, the Riches of the People, lying more in Sterling than Currency, from that over Balance, the Difference of Exchange was first on the Side of Currency. I can charge my Memory with having read old Letters, wherein one per Cent. Sterling, was given for one Hundred Pounds Currency. And this seems to be the Reason of those Acts now subsisting amongst us (tho’ very little regarded) prohibiting the Exportation of Cash under large Penalties, and of those other Acts (now so iniquitously extended) giving Encouragement for the Importation of Cash: In Time as the Quantity of Cash encreased, Sterling claimed a superior Value, and as the Riches of the Country declined in Sterling, the exchanging Value encreased; during all which Time the Trader must have suited himself to the Possibility of his Chapman, and the Creditor to that of his Debtor; but when Men became so extravagant as to pay Edition: current; Page: [1629] no Regard to social Good, but governed their Demands wholly by Avarice, let it undo where it would; then the Law in 1748, came in to Remedy the Evil where it could, by taking Cognizance of the Claim of the Creditor, and so ultimately confining the Trader; and if he could not be contented with a reasonable Exchange, the Process brought against the Debtor, ended in a Regulation of the Exchange between Sterling and Currency, as the Legislature then thought was most reasonable: But this Limitation of Exchange to a certain Standard always, was by these very Gentlemen exclaimed against (as I shall shew them presently, to give the World the true Complexion of this Memorial) and the Legislature then fell on the best and most equitable Rule, that can be devised by Man, for the dispensing of Justice to the Creditor, and preserving the unfortunate Debtor from his merciless Claws; by directing Courts to Rate the Value of their Sterling Judgments given, in Current Money, according to the general and most known exchanging Difference; so that the Creditor was justly dealt with, and always had Cash in such a Proportion, as might enable him to replace his Sterling Debt in England, if he pleased. Thus the Rule, which Reason and Nature dictated should be subsisting, became the Rule established by Law, and did subsist before the Act, for emitting Paper Currency. I hope it is now evident the Act has done nothing ex post facto, it has enacted no new Thing with Regard to any Sort of Debts, but only directed that for such a Time, such Notes should have all the Value, that any other Species of Currency had: If it should be said that although Sterling Judgments were before the Act, to be rated in Currency, yet such Currency was no Tender in Law, at it is in this Act; I answer, it is a mere Lawyer’s Quibble, and if it was not expresly declared so in former Acts, yet it was virtually, and consequentially so done, in that every Creditor must know he could recover no more than the real Difference of Exchange; and surely that Court where it should appear that the Debtor had made the Creditor a Tender of the full Exchange on his Debt, must have treated such Creditor on his Refusal, as a litigious Person.

As to retrospective Statutes, I need do no more than mention a common Proposition, to prove that notwithstanding popular Clamor, they are often very expedient. Let a preceeding Transaction be what it will, it may be productive of very great Evil to a Community by its Effects, and shall a Community go on to endure this Evil, because it was produced by an Action done before the Evil was experienced: To say they ought is to fix the Infallibility of human Understanding, as to Causes, Effects, and Consequences, Edition: current; Page: [1630] which is an Absurdity. A Retrospection therefore in such Cases, is not only salutary, but absolutely necessary, to destroy such Effects even if it is obliged to reach the Cause: Suppose for Instance there had been no Rule or Law subsisting to oblige a Creditor to accept of an adequate Exchange for his Sterling Debt in Currency; I say from the apparent Necessity there was of making this Act to raise Men and Money, which has been shewn beyond Contradiction, it was absolutely necessary for the Good of the Community, that the Act should be so made, as to take in the Creditor before the Act, or else such Creditor might have defeated the main Purpose of the Act (that of providing an Army) in refusing to be satisfy’d for his Debt by the Notes, and would not such a Proceeding in Creditors, have struck at the very Vitals of the Community, by leaving the Land defenceless, and in the Power of the Ravages of the Enemy.

The Injustice wherewith this Act is charged, in depreciating Debts, &c. has been fully answered, in the Arguments already used, which shew that neither Trade or Debt, are or can in the least, be affected by the Act; the very Defect they hint at in the Act (that is the Want of a Proviso for paying Sterling Debts ad valorem) is nothing more than a Defect in their own Brain; they either have not read the Laws of the Country, or are disturbed that all the Laws are not every Session brought into one Law, and what a mighty Law would that be! In Fact, the Clause they want was long before this Act enacted, and in some Measure at their own Instance, which I shall now shew in their next Paragraph of Complaint.

In order to make their Complaint more formidable, they usher in the Act passed in 1748, to shew what Sufferers they are like to be by the Virginia Acts of Assembly. In the short Sketch that I have just now given of the History of Exchange in this Colony, I shewed that it was always a Method in the Country, of paying Currency for Sterling ad valorem and that whilst Creditors were govern’d by the real or exchanging Difference subsisting, it remained only an equitable Rule, necessarilly subsisting in the Nature and Reason of Things; but when Avarice admitted of no Bounds to their Demands, the Assembly in 1748, took the Case under their Consideration, and to do Justice to both Creditor and Debtor, made all Executions on Sterling Debts leviable at Twenty-five per Cent. which was then thought the common and reasonable Exchange: But the Law was not long known in England, before the Merchants of London, whom I suppose I may safely call the Memorialists, endeavoured to obtain a Repeal Edition: current; Page: [1631] of it, by the King’s Proclamation; however they were given to understand it was constitutionally late, for a Repeal by Proclamation, as his Majesty had given his Assent to the Act. And an Instruction was accordingly sent to the Governor, to urge the Assembly (as those Gentlemen term it) to do it by a subsequent Act. The Assembly always endeavouring to avoid giving the least Color for a Complaint against them, then readily embraced the Opportunity, and with great Alacrity, passed a Law to Repeal that in 1748, and so enacted, that all Courts on any Judgment given in Sterling, should at the Time of passing such Judgment, settle at what Rate of Discount, the same should be leviable in Current Money. Now let any candid Man say what these Memorialists would be at: A Clause is wanted in the Paper Act to provide for the Payment of Sterling ad valorem, and it is so done and practised before and after the making of the Act. Again, the Act in 1748, is likely to injure them, when in Fact there is no such Law in Being: Surely these Things can hardly be called common Mistakes, no, they are gross Blunders, begotten by a Genius for Clamoring. I now again hope this Act is not only cleared of all Arbitrariness and Injustice, but that it justly rides in Triumph over the Memorial, and all its devilish Machinations, for certainly calumniating Insinuations, and false Accusations, are Satan’s chief Implements.

I will now consider the Expedient proposed by these Gentlemen, and that minutely too, to shew how little deserving of Regard this Body are in this Instance, however formidably they may have united; and indeed to shew how necessary it is to preserve the Justice due to every Cause, by hearing both Parties fully before a Determination should be given.

To separate the Expedient from its great Bundle of Preamble, is simply to say, it is an Amendment to the Paper Act. 1st, To secure all Contracts before the passing the Act from any Effect at all by it. 2dly, That in all Cases of Sterling Debts, &c. stipulated payable in Sterling either before or after the Act, such Debts, &c. shall not be effected by a Tender of Paper, or any other Species of Currency not being Sterling at any Rate, unless the Creditor, &c. shall consent to it; and if he does consent to it and takes the Money, that then he shall be deemed in Law, fully satisfy’d for his Debt, &c.

I cannot here pass over a Compliment due to the Gentlemen, on Account of their Happiness in the Choice of a Draftsman, who has discovered in the Memorial, a wonderful Dexterity in splitting Unities; that is, dividing Edition: current; Page: [1632] one and the same Thing into several Parts, for the Sake of multiplying Sentences: The wiser Part of Mankind has indeed condemned the Practice as nonsensical, but a bad Cause (or rather no Cause at all) for complaining, should be rolled up in an abundant Disguise of Words. The first Part of the Amendment proposed is wholly to secure Debts, &c. made before the Act from being affected by it. And what does the second Part of the Amendment propose? Nothing more than to secure all Sterling Debts, made both before and after the Act, from being affected by it; for I conceive it wants no written Law to tell a Man if his Creditor is willing to discharge his Debt, for Carrots or Turnips, he may pay them to him; and that after he has paid them, and the Creditor has taken them as such, he is certainly discharged from any further Claim on Account of that Debt or Contract; and for this he has the Law of common Sense to direct him. But now for the Reasonableness of such an Amendment, which not only strikes at the Paper Act, but at all Rules and Acts relative to the exchanging of current Money, and of Course at the Law of necessary Justice, before explained; when I say the Reasonableness of such an Amendment, I mean not the Amendment as it is worded, for verily that is mere formal Nonsense, but of any Amendment to secure these Sterling Debts, &c. from being paid by Law in the Currency of the Country ad valorem, for that is the certain Drift of the Memorialists; a Drift they did not care to be plain in discovering, when they charged the Paper Act as being defective with Respect to Sterling Debts: In this Kind, indeed, it is defective; and had it been otherwise, it would have been the most fallacious Act imaginable, by emitting a Currency that should be no where current, not so current as a Cask of Nails, or any other Commodity, to be sold only to him that might want to buy them, for any Man might hold what he had to sell at a Sterling Demand, and then of what Worth would the Paper Notes have been? I need say nothing more to such an Amendment, than to remind any Reader of the Necessity that must have always subsisted of exchanging (not only in Virginia, but in every Country where Sterling is not the sole Currency) Sterling for such Currency, at an agreed Rate; and that it was from this Necessity alone that any Law could ever have arisen to establish the Method of doing it, lest the Will of the Creditor should grow too extravagant for the Capacity of the Debtor; all which, I flatter myself, I have fully shewn in my Observations already made on this Memorial. I should now take Leave of the Expedient, but that there is a seeming Arrogancy in concluding that it was impossible for the Edition: current; Page: [1633] Assembly of Virginia to make any Objections to the Amendment, in so far as it is, bona fide, founded on Principles of common Justice, and the Laws of England. What, do the Principles of common Justice oblige a People, extending the Power of a Mother-Country, by improving her distant Territories, and in doing that, confined (except in some trifling Commodities) solely to a Trade with that Mother-Country? I say, should such a People, in the Course of such Trade, fall in Debt to such Mother-Country, do the Principles of common Justice enjoin, that Persons so circumstanced should not be allowed any Way of paying such Debts, but in a Coin of which there is hardly an Hundred Pounds to be found amongst them in a Year; or else to pay them according to the extravagant Demands that their Creditors shall make in the Currency they have: Gentlemen that talk so, must be Madmen; is this common Justice? It is, bona fide, unnatural, and against all Justice. Again, the Amendment (they say) is founded on the Laws of England; to this I answer, without entering into a critical Enquiry as to the Fact, and with all possible Deference, that if there be such a Law, as the Laws of no People on Earth should be unalterable, every Moment that it has had any Effect in the Manner that these Memorialists propose, it must have been grievously partial and burthensome; and therefore it ought now to change its Face, and smile on those who have deserved all Attention, and every reasonable Indulgence; who, in Spite of Poverty and every unnatural Check, have certainly convinced the World, that they are faithful Subjects, endued with that Nobleness of Spirit that has ever distinguished a true-born Briton.

The Conclusion is of a Piece with the whole Memorial, that runs on with a very great Air of Importance, but complains of nothing real; and this, it is evident, is as pompously inclined to the same Point, Nothing. There is a Request made to their Lordships, that they would be pleased to suspend giving Judgment on the Virginia Act as it now stands, by Way of Approbation thereof, till such Time as the Sense of the Assembly of the Province is had upon the Amendments proposed thereto; which, in Fact, is desiring that their Lordships would let the Act keep its Force and Efficacy, which every Act must necessarily do that is passed by the Governor, unless his Majesty shall declare his Dissent by Proclamation, which no Doubt he is in some Cases advised to: But, if the Act lyes for his Majesty’s Pleasure, it is necessarily operating here as a Law, unless provided against in the Body of it by a suspending Clause. Their Lordships Approbation of an Act might Edition: current; Page: [1634] indeed incline his Majesty to give his Assent to it, and thereby give it a greater Degree of Firmness in the Constitution; but this can hardly be very necessary, in many temporary Laws: Of Course then these Gentlemen have really asked for nothing, with Respect to their Complaint; not only nothing to their Purpose, but so long as their Request is granted; that is, that their Lordships shall be silent as to their Approbation of the Act. It is very materially against them; but I have all along seen they have a latent Meaning in the Memorial, and I suspect here they are praying that their Lordships will suspend their Approbation, in order to offer up another Prayer hereafter, that they will be pleased to advise his Majesty to repeal it; and this Construction is not out of the Way of their partial System carefully kept up through the whole: But would not this be a most extraordinary Prayer indeed, first to let an Act emit Money at such a settled Currency and on such a settled Fund, and, when the Money is in Circulation, repeal it, because London or British Merchants are put on the necessary and just Footing with other People. If I mistake not, it would amount to an entire Forfeiture of publick Faith, with a very sacred Absolution for so doing.

I will now recommend both the Memorial, and Observations on it, to the impartial Reader; and let him say if in any Instance he ever met with less Cause of Complaint, less Decency or Gratitude to that Country against whom they complain, less Respect to that Board to whom they address themselves, or less Regard for the Reputation of their own Body: I say less Cause of Complaint, because the very Matter complained of (if ever it existed) was not only long before their Complaints fully remedied, but even before the passing the Act; I say less Decency and Gratitude to that Country against whom they complain; 1st, in puffing out how largely they are indebted to them; 2dly, in accusing them with arbitrarily and iniquitously endeavouring to destroy their Trade, and cheat them of their Debts: For this would be the Conclusion, had the Facts been true; and not in the least reflecting how many of them owe their very Being, as Merchants, to the Civilities of the Country, and at Times perhaps when their own Credit was not sufficient to have induced any Man but a bold-venturing Virginian to have trusted them: I say less Respect to that Board to whom they address themselves, in presuming to build on Mistakes, Blunders, scandalous Accusations, and what not, in order (if possible) to deceive their Lordships, and less regardful of their own Reputation in rendering it for ever after this a Edition: current; Page: [1635] just Matter of Suspicion, whether the Facts on which they shall ground any future Complaint, are truly stated or not.

Was it for such Uses as these, ye Merchantmen of London, that this Country has submitted to a long and constant Tax on their Commodity, in order to raise a Treasury for the mutual Benefit of the Trade;* that instead of assisting them in their greatest Poverty, in the Day of their greatest Distress, with the Overflowings of that Heap, if properly accounted for ye do not only loudly oppose their Endeavours to preserve themselves, but even abuse them, and aim by your Complaint (no Matter whether founded on Truth or Falsehood) at particular Exemptions of yourselves, from all Possibility of suffering in the common Calamity, and thereby shew yourselves no otherwise interested in the Country, than in the dirty Demands you have against it.

If the Gentlemen shall think proper to shew themselves offended at what I have written, I can only say that I am sorry for the Cause of Writing, but not for having done it; for ’tis certainly a Piece of Justice due to the Legislative Body of my Country, to remove from them where it can be done with Truth, every Kind of Reflection against their Honor, their Virtue; and I shall never be affected with any Reply that can be made, having an excellent little Fortress to protect me, one built on a Rock not liable to be shaken with Fears, that of Independency, my Batteries are Facts and Truth, and my Engineer is a Fellow as fit for his Post as any in the World, Reason; thus supported I will conclude with the Words of Cicero, in the Cause he plead for Publius Quinctius.

Hic ego, si Crussi omnes cum Antoniis existant, si tu L. Philippe, qui inter illos florebas hanc causam votes cum Hortensio dicere, tamen superior sim necesse est; non enim quemadmodum putatis, omnia sunt in eloquentiâ, est quaedam tamen ita perspicua veritas, ut eam infirmare nulla res possit. Of which I shall give the following modest Translation, by Way of Address to the Lords of Trade, &c.

Edition: current; Page: [1636]
My Lords,

I am so confident of the Justice of my Country, in the Matter complained of to your Lordships, by this Memorial, that I cannot avoid saying, altho’ all the Croffus’s and Anthony’s, that ever excelled in Oratory; nay tho’ Lucius Phillippus, who made so great a Figure at the Bar, even in their Days, was now in being, and engaged with the Merchants of London against me, yet I am satisfy’d that I must of Necessity prevail, and this not from any Boast of extraordinary Eloquence in what I have written, but from that evident Truth which governs thro’ the Whole, Truth that cannot be perverted by any Kind of Artifice whatever.

I am,
Your most Obedient.
Edition: current; Page: [1637]

58: Richard Bland, A Letter to the Clergy of Virginia (Williamsburg, 1760)

Not just London merchants but also the Bishop of London, the official with jurisdiction over the Church of England in the American colonies, subjected the conduct of the Virginia legislature to severe strictures during the late 1750s. The Anglican Church had long been the established church in Virginia, and its clergymen received a public salary in tobacco. When short crops of tobacco in a few counties in 1755 and in most counties in 1758 substantially raised the market value of tobacco, the legislature passed the so-called Two-penny Acts enabling taxpayers to pay their taxes in money instead of tobacco at the set rate of two pence per pound. When the legislature failed to heed the protests of some of the Virginia clergy, who regarded this legislation as a means to cheat them out of what would have been a welcome economic windfall, some of the more vociferous met in convention and dispatched Rev. John Camm, rector of York-Hampton Parish, to London to present a memorial to try to get the 1758 law overturned as unfair, using as a wedge the fact that, inasmuch as the measure altered an existing law that had been confirmed by the Crown, it could technically only be passed with a clause suspending its execution until London authorities had approved it.

In London, Camm gained the sympathetic ear of the Bishop of London, who in a 1759 letter to the Board of Trade denounced the Two-penny Acts as an attack not just on the maintenance of the clergy but on “the Prerogative and Influence of the Crown” and charged that Virginia, formerly “a Edition: current; Page: [1638] well-ordered and well-regulated Colony” whose inhabitants “lived in Submission to the Power set over them,” now had “nothing more at Heart than to lessen the Influence of the Crown.” Although Camm’s mission succeeded in getting both measures disallowed by the Crown, he failed in his intention to have them declared void from the moment of their passage.

To defend Virginia from the Bishop’s charges and the legislature for its passage of the Two-penny Acts, Richard Bland, the colony’s leading antiquary and a burgess for Prince George County, published this pamphlet. Bland devoted much of his pamphlet to correcting the Bishop’s assertion that the legislature had only recently placed the patronage to ecclesiastical appointments in the local vestries, instead of in the governor, showing that the practice dated back more than a century to 1642. But he also made the case that the Two-penny Acts were only intended to provide short-term relief to taxpayers at a time of “general Distress and Calamity” when short tobacco production occurred while the colony was already burdened by high taxes required for defense measures undertaken in the Seven Years’ War, and he argued that provincial governments had to have the flexibility to deal with such pressing situations in a timely fashion, declaring that “where . . . Necessity prevails, every consideration must give Place to it,” even the “fixed Rule[s] of the Constitution.” This controversy continued for another four years, in pamphlets by Bland, Landon Carter, and Camm (Selections 61 and 62 also refer to this controversy). (J.P.G.)

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to the

Clergy of Virginia,

in which

The Conduct of the General-Assembly

is vindicated,


The Reflexions contained in a Letter to the

Lords of Trade and Plantations,

from the Lord-Bishop of London.


one of the Representatives

in Assembly for the County

of Prince-George.

Ne quid falsi dicere audeat, ne quid veri non audeat.1



Printed by William Hunter.


Edition: current; Page: [1640]
T. London
London, T.
June 14th, 1759.

Copy of a Letter from the Lord-Bishop of London, to the Lords of Trade and Plantations.

My Lords,

I have considered the Act from Virginia, referred to me: It seems to be the Work of Men conscious to themselves that they were doing wrong; for, though it is very well known that the Intention of the Act is to abridge the Maintenance of the Clergy, yet the Framers of the Act have studiously avoided naming them, or properly describing them, throughout the Act; so that it may be doubted whether, in a legal Construction, they are included or not. But, to take the Act as they meant it, and as every Body understands it, we must first consider by what Authority the Assembly acted, in passing such a Law; and, in the next Place, how inconsistent the Provision of the Act was with Justice and Equity: The Subject-Matter of the Act, as far as the Clergy are concerned, was settled before by Act of Assembly; which Act had the Royal Assent and Confirmation, and could not be repealed by a lesser Power than made it; and, to make an Act to suspend the Operation of the Royal Act, is an Attempt which in some Times would have been called Treason, and I do not know any other Name for it in our Law.

If they had brought in an Act of Repeal, to take Place from the Time they could obtain the King’s Assent to the said Act of Repeal, they would have been blameless; but, to assume a Power to bind the King’s Hands, and to say how far his Power shall go, and where it shall stop, is such an Act of Supremacy as is inconsistent with the Dignity of the Church of England, and manifestly tends to draw the People of the Plantations from their Allegiance to the King, when they find they have a higher Power to protect them: Whether or not such an Effect be produced, I know not; but, surely it is Time to look about us, and to consider the several Steps lately taken to the Diminution of the Prerogative and Influence of the Crown; lately taken, I say: Because, within a few Years past, Virginia was a well-ordered and well-regulated Colony, and lived in Submission to the Power set over them; they were all Members of the Church of England; and no Dissenters amongst them; the Clergy respected, and well used by the People; but these Days are over, and they seem now to have nothing more at Heart than to lessen Edition: current; Page: [1641] the Influence of the Crown and the Maintenance of the Clergy, both which ends will be effectually served by the Act now under our Consideration.

It was not till the Year 1748 that this Spirit began to shew itself, at which Time an Act of Assembly passed, by which the Patronage of all the Livings in the Colony were taken from the Crown, and given to the Vestry in the several Parishes; and yet this Act received the Royal Assent, upon what Inducements, I know not: But it was observable, that the Assembly did not care to attack the Rights of the Crown, and that of the Clergy, at the same Time; and therefore, in the same Act of 1748, there is the strongest Confirmation of the Clergy’s Right to their full Proportion of Tobacco, without any Diminution whatsoever, which Provision was meant to silence the Complaints of the Clergy against the other Part of the Act; and Reason they had to Complain, when, instead of the Royal Authority, they were put under the Power of the Vestry and made subject to the Humours of the People.

That no Good was finally intended the Clergy, is manifest from hence, that no sooner were they in Possession of the Patronages, but they wanted also to be absolute Masters of the Maintenance of the Clergy; in which Attempt, they proceeded warily, and endeavoured to bring in the Scheme by Degrees; and accordingly, in the Year 1755, the Clergy in the Counties of Princess-Anne and Norfolk were deprived of their Tobacco, and forced to accept of a Compensation in Money, very much to their Loss.

The same Year produced a general Act, but a temporary one, and was followed by a very extraordinary Resolution of the Council; the Case was this: The Assembly had passed the Act; when it came to the Governor for his Assent, he boggled at it; and, for his own Security, thought proper to advise with the Council, that is, with the very Persons who had been the Promoters of it; he tells them, he apprehended it interfered with the Law confirmed by his Majesty in regard to the Allowance provided for the Clergy.

Here the Case is fully stated: It is admitted, that the Maintenance of the Clergy had the King’s Confirmation; and that the Governor, by his Instructions, is restrained from altering it; but it seems the Act confirmed by his Majesty, appointed 16,000 Pounds of Tobacco to each Clergyman. The Act upon which this Advice was asked took no Notice of the Quantity of Tobacco allowed to the Clergy, but made it subject to a Compensation in Money, which was to be rated by the very Persons who were liable to the Payment of the whole: Upon this Circumstance the Council gave Edition: current; Page: [1642] their Judgment, and declared it was the Opinion of the Board, that this Bill was not contradictory to that Law, insomuch as it by no Means lessened the Quantity of Tobacco allowed the Clergy, but only ascertained the Price thereof to be paid in Money for all Dues, as well to Officers as to the Clergy.

This Declaration is a formal Judgment in the Case, stated between the Authority of the Crown and the Power of the Assembly, and subjected the Laws established by the Royal Assent to be altered, corrected or suspended, by a Vote of the Assembly.

The Lieutenant-Governour wanted something of an Excuse for what he was strongly inclined to do, and a very sad one they furnished him with. What made him so zealous in the Cause, I pretend not to judge; but surely the great Change which manifestly appears in the Tempers and Disposition of the People in that Colony, in the Compass of a few Years, deserves highly to be considered; and the more so, as the Deputy-Governour and Council seem to act in Concert with the People, to lend their Authority to support their unreasonable Demands: But one would think, upon Consideration of some late Transactions there, that the Deputy-Governours thought themselves obliged, upon their first Entrance, to make a Present to the Vestries of the Maintenance of the Clergy, the Jurisdiction of the Prerogative and the Supremacy and Rights of the Crown.

As to the Want of Justice and Equity shewed in the Act to the Clergy, the Case is too plain to admit of any Reflexion upon it: If the Crown does not or cannot support itself in so plain a Case, as is before us, it would be in vain for the Clergy to plead the Act confirmed by the King; for their Rights must stand, or fall, with the Authority of the Crown.

I am, my Lords,
Your most obedient humble Servant,
Richard Bland
Bland, Richard
March 20, 1760

A Letter to the Clergy of Virginia.


The Character given to the Lord Bishop of London’s Letter to the Lords of Trade, and the Exultations it has occasioned amongst some of our Clergy, inflamed me with an ardent Desire of seeing it; but that was a Favour too great for me to receive; it was to be put only into confiding Hands, and with Edition: current; Page: [1643] a kind of Adjuration, that no Person should see it, but such as might be trusted: However, I have at last obtained a Copy of it, and I assure you, my Expectations were never more disappointed; for, instead of the Force and Conviction with which it is boasted to be written, it is, to me at least, only an Evidence of the Imbecillity of the human Mind; and a Demonstration, that, at certain Periods of Life, the most learned and pious Men are subject to the Impositions of the Crafty and Malevolent.

I take it for granted, that this Letter contains the Substance of the Instructions given Mr. Camm by that small part of the Clergy, that met at the College in a late Convention; when Men, in the highest Stations, and of the best Characters, were treated with so much Rudeness and Indecency, that the Clemency of the Administration was never more conspicuous, than in not punishing such atrocious and riotous Behaviour.

To give a proper, and, at the same Time, a decent Answer to this Letter, is scarce possible. His Lordship stands too much in my Way: A Person, in his high and sacred Station, is not to be treated with the same Language he is pleased to bestow upon a whole People; nor, impeached with an Attempt to hoot out Truth, with Harangue and Declamation. But, though this Deference is due to his Lordship’s great Name, surely Mr. Camm, nor his Abettors expect the same Complaisance: They stand upon the same Level with other Men, and are not superior to them, as I know of, either in Station or Learning.

The British Parliament, you know, always consider his Majesty’s Speeches from the Throne, as Speeches from the Ministry, and treat them as such, with the utmost Freedom: Now, by observing the same Rule, I will suppose this Letter to be a Memorial from the Convention, representing their Complaints against the Colony to the Lords of Trade; and, upon this Supposition, I will prove that it is an invidious and insolent Charge, without Foundation, and contrary to Facts, which you yourselves know to be true.

That his Lordship, did not give himself the Trouble to enquire into the Truth of this Memorial; and that, by taking Things at second Hand, he has been imposed on, is extremely evident; for, if he had exercised his own Candour and Integrity, and not relied on these Memorialists for the Truth of Facts, he could never have accused the General-Assembly with breaking through the Constitution, by Usurpations on the Prerogative of the Crown, and Encroachments on the Rights of the Clergy; which, in this Letter, are Edition: current; Page: [1644] so dexterously interwoven, that the Colony must be guilty of constructive Treason at least, whenever they concern themselves with what the Clergy are pleased to call their Rights.

Before I examine into the Reasons which prevailed with the General-Assembly to pass the Act so much complained of, it will be necessary for me to lay before you the several Charges against the Colony, in the Order of Time in which they stand; and, that the Reasonings of these Memorialists may not lose their Force, I will give them in the full Strength of his Lordship’s own Expressions.

Within a few Years past, Virginia was a very orderly and well-regulated Colony, and lived in Submission to the Power set over them; they were all Members of the Church of England, and no Dissenters amongst them; the Clergy respected, and well used by the People: But, these Days are over; and they seem now to have nothing more at Heart, than to lessen the Influence of the Crown, and the Maintenance of the Clergy.

Surely, these Memorialists must be more than infatuated to talk at this Rate; and, by the grossest Misrepresentations, endeavour to traduce a Colony, that has given a Thousand recent Proofs of her Affection to her Sovereign, and her Regard to the established Church; and at a Time too, when she is exerting herself, even beyond her Abilities, to maintain a War against the professed Enemies of the Religion and Liberties of Britain, who have invaded his Majesty’s Dominions and frequently supported a Popish Pretender to his Throne.

These are certainly strong Instances of a fixed Design in the General-Assembly to assume a Power to bind the King’s Hands, and to say how far his Power shall go and where it shall Stop; and evidently show their traitorous Intent, of assuming a Supremacy inconsistent with the Dignity of England, and manifestly tending to draw the People of the Plantations from their Allegiance to the King: Pompous Words, and a heavy Charge, truly! and, if true, it is Time for England to look about, and consider the several Steps lately taken, to the Diminution of the Prerogative and Influence of the Crown; especially as the Deputy-Governour and Council seem to act in Concert with the People, and to lend their Authority to support their unreasonable Demands; and think themselves obliged, to make a present to the Vestries of the Maintenance of the Clergy, the Jurisdiction of the Bishop, and the Supremacy and Rights of the Crown.

I could not have imagined, that Men acquainted with Virginia could have forged such a false and invidious Accusation; but really it gives me Surprize Edition: current; Page: [1645] to find we have Men, even among our Clergy, who, in Defiance of the Truth, stick at no Artifice to bring their evil Machinations to Perfection; and who, if they can but gain their End, contemn the Scandal of Detection.

Till within these few Years, we were all Members of the Church of England, and had no Dissenters amongst us. If the Memorialists, by this Assertion, only intended to advance a manifest Untruth, I should not have thought it worth my Time to take Notice of it; but, when they would from thence insinuate, that the greater Part of the Colony, especially of the General-Assembly, are Dissenters (for this is the plain Inference from the Expression) it must create a proper Resentment in every Member of that Assembly, to be treated with such an opprobrious and outragious Reflexion.

That we have had Dissenters among us almost from the first Settlement of the Colony; you know, Gentlemen, and unless these Memorialists can procure a Repeal of the Act of Toleration, and establish an Hierarchy upon Arch-Bishop Laud’s Principles, I will venture to pronounce we shall always have them: Indeed our religious Forefathers, in the Year 1662, did attempt to prevent their Increase, by a very extraordinary Law, which imposed Fines, Penalties, and even Banishment, upon them; but this Law was repealed by the King, after the Revolution, as contrary to the Spirit of Christianity, and the Mildness and Equity of the English Government.

And so far have the General-Assembly been from attempting to lessen, or to make a Present to the Vestries of the Maintenance of the Clergy, that I dare venture to appeal to yourselves, whether from the frequent Declarations of many Members of that Assembly, you have not had Reason to expect an Establishment more to your Satisfaction, than that which you at present enjoy? You certainly had such Expectations in the Year 1755, when you petitioned the Assembly for a more liberal Provision; I will take the Liberty to transcribe the Substance of that Petition, from the Burgesses Journals: It sets forth,

That the Salary appointed by Law for the Clergy is so scanty, that it is with Difficulty they support themselves and Families, and can by no Means make any Provision for their Widows and Children, who are generally left to the Charity of their Friends; that the small Encouragement given to Clergymen, is a Reason why so few come into this Colony from the two Universities; and that so many, who are a Disgrace to the Ministry, find Opportunities to fill the Parishes; that the raising the Salary would prove of great Service to this Colony, as a decent Edition: current; Page: [1646] Subsistence would be a great Encouragement to the Youth to take Orders; for Want of which, few Gentlemen have hitherto thought it worth their while to bring up their Children in the Study of Divinity; that they generally spent many Years of their Lives at a great Expence in Study, when their Patrimony is pretty well exhausted; and, when in Holy Orders, they cannot follow any secular Employment for the Advancement of their Fortunes, and may on that Account expect a more liberal Provision.

This Petition was, indeed, rejected by the Burgesses; because, as they had been just forced into an expensive and dangerous War, which they could not forsee the Consequences of, they thought it a very improper Season to take a Matter, which would bring an additional Tax upon the People, under their Consideration. This, many of you know to be the Reason your Petition did not meet with a more favourable Reception; and some of you were so satisfied with it, that they disclaimed all Knowledge of the Petition, and were extremely offended with the Promoters of it.

And now, if what these Memorialists would insinuate be true, that the Clergy are not now treated by the People, with the Respect they used to be in former Times, allow me to ask you, whether this Petition does not assign a good Reason for it? For if so many of the Clergy, who are a Disgrace to the Ministry, find Opportunities to fill the Parishes, they must necessarily sink very low in the Opinion of good Men, and cannot expect to be treated with Respect by the People, who are generally influenced by Example more than Precept; but do not understand me as if I would say that all our Parishes are filled with such Men; no, Gentlemen, we have some Clergymen who are an Honour to their Function; who not only teach the Doctrines of their great Master, but also endeavour to imitate him in the Purity of his Life and Manners; and these Clergymen do, and always will, command that Respect, I had almost said Veneration, from the People, which is due to good and pious Men. If the Memorialist had said that those Clergymen, who (according to this Petition) are a Disgrace to the Ministry, have fallen into the Contempt of the People, I would have acknowledged it with great Candour; but, to charge the People with a Contempt of the Clergy in general, and from this bare-faced Insinuation too, that they are all Dissenters, is as false as it is malicious.

And now, what Effrontery must these Men be Masters of, who have advanced such palpable Untruths? And what Name do they deserve, who have dared to publish Inventions of their own against plain Matters of Fact: Truly, a Name so abhorred, that it finds not Room in civil Conversation.

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But these are not the only severe and confident Censures contained in this Memorial; for it is with the same Spirit of Misrepresentation and Abuse, these Memorialists think fit to say, That it was not till the Year 1748 this Spirit began to show itself, at which Time an Act of Assembly passed, and the Patronages of all the Livings in the Colony were taken from the Crown, and given to the Vestries in the several Parishes: But it was observable that the Assembly did not care to attack the Rights of the Crown, and that of the Clergy, at the same Time; and therefore, in the same Act of 1748, there is the strongest Confirmation of the Clergy’s Right to their full Proportion of Tobacco, without any Diminution whatsover, which Provision was meant to silence the Complaints of the Clergy against the other Part of the Act; and Reason they had to complain; when, instead of the Royal Authority, they were put under the Power of the Vestries, and made Subject to the Humours of the People.

That no Good was finally intended the Clergy, is manifest from hence; that, no sooner were they in Possession of the Patronages, but they wanted also to be absolute Masters of the Maintenance of the Clergy: In which Attempt they proceeded warily, and endeavoured to bring in the Scheme by Degrees; and accordingly, in the Year 1755, the Clergy in the Counties of Princess-Anne and Norfolk were deprived of their Tobacco, and forced to accept of a Compensation in Money, much to their Loss.

The Storm begins to gather, has a dismal and frightful Appearance, and seems to be rushing on with a mighty Force; but Men, who are conscious of the Uprightness and Integrity of their Actions, are not easily dismayed; that stand firm and unshaken, and are under no Apprehensions from the Appearance of Things: I must beg your Indulgence, till I examine this Part of the Memorial, and wipe off these severe Reflexions from my Country.

By an Act of Assembly, made so long ago as the Year 1642, which was revised and re-enacted in the Year 1662, the Right of Patronage, or Presentation, was given to the Vestries in the several Parishes (which indeed they had before by the Law of England, as Builders and Endowers of all the Churches within their Parishes) and the Right of Induction was given to the Governour: This Act is now in Force, and this Method of Presentation and Induction was constantly observed till the Year 1727, when a new Act was made, whereby

Every Minister, received into any Parish by the Vestry, had an annual Salary of 16,000 Pounds of Tobacco and Cask; and the Vestries were to purchase, and appropriate, not less than 200 Acres of Land for a Glebe Edition: current; Page: [1648] in every Parish; and were to build, on such Glebe, a Mansion-House, and all other Outhouses and Conveniences, for the Use and Habitation of the Minister, at the Charge of the Parish: And every Minister, during his Incumbency, was to keep, and leave, all the Buildings on his Glebe, in tenantable Repair; and, on Failure, was subject to the Action of the Church-Wardens for Damages, to be recovered with Costs of Suit.

After the making of this Act, the old Method of Presentation and Induction was, for the most Part, discontinued; and, when a Parish became vacant, the Governour and Commissary usually wrote recommendatory Letters to the Vestry, upon which the Clergyman recommanded was generally received into the Parish, and had Possession of the Spiritualties and Temporalties of it.

This Method of filling the Parishes continued till the Year 1748, at which Time a Suit was determined in the General-Court, between Mr. Kay, Minister of Lunenburg Parish, in the County of Richmond, and his Vestry; in which, the Question was, “Whether the Reception of a Minister by a Vestry, under the Act of Assembly made in the Year 1727, will enable him to maintain an Action for a Trespass committed on the Glebe Lands, without Induction, against Persons acting under an Order of Vestry:” This Trial made a great Noise, the Clergy interested themselves very much in it, and the Judges were divided in Opinion upon the Argument; but at last Judgment was pronounced for the Minister, and the Vestry appealed to his Majesty in his Privy-Council.

The General-Assembly was now sitting upon the Revisal of the Laws; and, as such Controversies were thought to be a Prejudice to Religion, they determined to put a Stop to them for the future; and, when the Act for the better Support of the Clergy came under their Consideration, they added a Clause to it, by which, “every Minister, received into any Parish, is entitled to all the spiritual and temporal Benefits of it; and may maintain an Action of Trespass against any Person or Persons whatsoever who shall disturb him in the Possession and Enjoyment thereof.”

But this was not the only Favour the Clergy received from that Assembly: They had an Addition of Four per Cent. upon their Salaries, and the Vestries were impowered to make necessary Repairs upon their Glebes, at the Charge of the Parish, which they could not do by the Act 1727; so that the Ministers are now, in Effect, discharged from keeping their Glebes in Edition: current; Page: [1649] Repair. The most Part of these Alterations were made at the Instance of your late Commissary Doctor Dawson, and some others of your Reverend Body; who looked upon them, at that Time at least, as Favours; and several of the Burgesses received their Acknowledgments, which some of you must remember.

It is true, indeed, that Assembly did declare, that the Vestries Right of Presentation to vacant Parishes, which had been given them, indisputably, by the Act of 1662, or more properly 1642, should be extended to twelve Months, when it was supposed before to be limited to six Months only: And the Reason was, that as Clergymen were not always to be had in this Country, the Vestries might have Time to procure them from England; and you must allow this to be a good Reason for this Alteration, since thereby we have an Opportunity, to endeavour at least, to fill our Parishes with Clergymen from the Universities, who, possibly, may be no Disgrace to the Ministry.

Here is the Case fully stated, as to this Part of the Memorial; and I desire a formal Judgment upon it. Were not the Vestries in Possession of the Patronages above an Hundred Years before the Act of 1748? If they were, as is evident from the Act of 1642, then the Assembly in 1748 could not have taken them from the Crown, and given them to the Vestries. Are the Clergy, by the Act of 1748, put under the Power of the Vestries and made subject to the Humours of the People, more than they were before, by Laws that have had Existence ever since the Establishment of a civil Power amongst us? If they are, produce an Instance; for, I protest, that neither myself, or any Person with whom I have conversed upon the Subject, can discover one; or, does it manifestly appear, that no Good was intended the Clergy by the Act of 1748?

If that Act has made any Alteration in the Case, is it not in Favour of the Clergy? It has given them an Addition of four per Cent. to their Salaries; it has given the Vestries Power to keep their Glebes in Repair for them; and it has made them as complete Incumbents, and as independent of the Vestries, as if they were regularly and formally instituted and inducted by a Bishop.

These are the Benefits the Clergy receive from the Act of 1748, more than what were given them by the Act of 1727; and yet it is said that Act takes the Patronages from the Crown, and gives them to the Vestries: It puts the Clergy under the Power of the Vestries, and makes them subject to the Humours of the People; and no Good was finally intended them by it. If the most glaring Instances of Unfairness and Disingenuity; if Rudeness and Edition: current; Page: [1650] Insolence to the legislative Body of a Country, to which they are beholden for a Subsistence; if an unrestrained License in Invective and Abuse are the Criterion by which we are to judge of the Truth of Facts, these Memorialists have, without Doubt, established theirs upon a Foundation not to be shaken. But how far this part of the Memorial is consistent with that Truth and Candour which becometh those who profess themselves Teachers of the Religion of the God of Truth, must be left, upon what has been observed, to every fair and impartial Person to determine.

But the General-Assembly, it seems, is composed of a Set of artful designing Men, who proceed warily, and endeavour to bring in their Schemes by Degrees; for no sooner were they in Possession of the Patronages, but they wanted to be absolute Masters of the Maintenance of the Clergy: And accordingly, in the Year 1755, the Clergy in the Counties of Princess-Anne and Norfolk, were deprived of their Tobacco, and forced to accept of a Compensation in Money, much to their Loss.

You, who are well acquainted with the Value and Goodness of Tobacco in every Parish in the Colony, know that the Tobacco made in Princess-Anne and Norfolk, is the worst and meanest in the Country; and that, in common Years, it does not sell for more than eight or ten Shillings the Hundred, and often under. As this is owing to the Quality of the Lands in those Counties, which are improper for the Culture of Tobacco, the Inhabitants have been forced upon other Employments to gain a Subsistence, and seldom made Tobacco enough to discharge the common Expences of their Counties and Parishes: The People being under these Circumstances, and exposed to the arbitary Exactions of the publick Collectors, petitioned the General-Assembly for Relief; they set forth,

That their Lands being very poor, and but small Quantities of Tobacco made by them, they were subject to great Impositions in Discharge of their Tobacco Debts; and prayed that an Act might pass to enable such Persons, as had not Tobacco sufficient to discharge all their publick Dues, after applying so much as they might have, to pay the Balance in Money, at a Price to be rated annually by the Courts of the said Counties.

This Petition was thought extremely reasonable by the Ministers in those Counties, as the House of Burgesses were informed by their Representatives, and accordingly an Act passed for the Relief of those People; and I am perswaded the Ministers, principally concerned never once complained Edition: current; Page: [1651] of this Act: For I myself have heard the Minister of Norfolk (who lives in great Harmony with his Parishioners, and is much esteemed and respected by them) declare, he was perfectly satisfied with it; and I believe it would be no difficult Matter to prove that he fell under the severe Censure of these Memorialists because he refused to enter into their Measures.

But, admitting that the Assembly did wrong, and ought not to have passed such an Act, this Errour could only be an Errour in Judgment, proceeding from a very laudable and Christian Principle, a Desire to relieve these People from the unhappy Circumstances they were under from the Laws then in Force, and not from any traiterous Intent, to lessen the Prerogative of the Crown, and to become absolute Masters of the Maintenance of the Clergy; I say traiterous Intent, because, according to the Doctrine the Memorialists are desirous to establish, whoever entertains a Thought which, by the most forced Construction, seems to be disadvantageous to the Clergy, must necessarily be Traitors, and no other Name can be found for them in our Law.

Thus you have the History of this Act; and I hope that you, who are so eminent for Acts of Mercy and Benevolence, who cannot be influenced by the secular Trifles of Wealth and Riches, will think that the Assembly did nothing more than their Duty, when they extended their Assistance to these their oppressed Brethren; and endeavoured, in a Way that did Injury to no Man, to relieve them from their Distresses.

I now come in Order of Time to the Act, passed in the Year 1757, for enabling the Inhabitants of this Colony to discharge their Tobacco Debts in Money for that Year; this Act, it is said, seems to be the Work of Men conscious to themselves that they were doing wrong: Why so? Because, though it is well known that the Intention of the Act is to abridge the Maintenance of the Clergy, yet the Framers of it have studiously avoided naming them, or properly describing them, throughout the Act so that it may be doubted in a legal Construction whether they are included or no; but, might not the Framers of the Act make Use of general Words descriptive of their Intentions, without being conscious to themselves that they were doing wrong? And might not they intend an adequate Compensation to the Clergy for their Salaries, without having any Design to abridge them of their Maintenance? This is certainly a Demonstration in the Abstract, and is so convincing a Way of Reasoning that it could certainly fall from no Pen but that of the Memorialists.

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But to take the Act as they intended it, and as every Body understands it: Strange! that every Body should understand the Clergy to be included in an Act, when the Framers of it studiously avoided naming them, or properly describing them; and when it may be doubted, in a legal Construction, whether they are included or not: But to be serious, for really the Subject requires it, we must first consider by what Authority the Assembly acted in passing such a Law; and, in the next Place, how inconsistent the Provision of the Act is with Justice and Equity.

The Subject-Matter of the Act, so far as the Clergy are concerned, was settled before by Act of Assembly, which Act had the Royal Assent and Confirmation, and could not be repealed by a lesser Power than made it; and to make an Act to suspend the Operation of the Royal Act, is an Attempt which, in some Times, would have been called Treason, and I know no other Name for it in our Law.

In order to give an Answer to this Part of the Memorial, I must carry you a good Way into our Laws, and lay before you the Motives that prevailed with the Assembly to pass the Act so loudly exclaimed against.

By an Act of Assembly passed in the Year 1662, an annual Salary of £. 80 was settled upon every Parish Minister, “to be paid in the valuable Commodities of the Country; if in Tobacco, at 12 Shillings the Hundred; if in Corn, at ten Shillings the Barrel.” This Act continued in Force many Years; but Tobacco falling in its Value to about ten Shillings the Hundred, and the Clergy being thereby deprived of one Sixth of the Provision the Law intended them, in the Year 1696 a new Act was made, and their Salaries were fixed at 16,000 lbs of Tobacco with Cask, which at that Time was worth about £. 80. In the Year 1727 the Assembly made some farther Provision for the Clergy; but, as Tobacco continued at nearly the same rate then as it was of in the Year 1696, they made no Alteration in their Salaries; and, till the Inspection-Law took Place, in the Year 1731, the Clergy’s Salaries were generally worth about £. 80 annually: That Law indeed, by raising the Value of Tobacco, increased the Clergies Salaries to about £. 100 or £. 120, which they seldom if ever exceeded.

In the Year 1748 the Act of 1727 was revised, and an Addition of Four per Centum was made to the Clergies Salaries, to enable them to turn their Transfer Notes (in which the Salaries are payable) into Receipts for Crop Tobacco, without Loss, which they could not do before. From this short Detail of the Laws, it is plain that the Legislature intended a Settlement for Edition: current; Page: [1653] the Clergy of not more than £. 80 or £. 100 per Annum, exclusive of their Glebes and other Perquisites.

Besides these Salaries to the Clergy, there are other great and heavy, though necessary, Charges to be born by the People; such as Maintenance of the Poor, and many other parochial Charges, publick and County Levies, Secretaries, County-Court Clerks, Sheriffs, Surveyors, and other Officers Fees; all which are, by Law, made payable in Tobacco: And that these Salaries, Levies and Fees, may be duly and regularly collected and paid, the Sheriffs and other publick Collectors are impowered to distrain the Slaves, Goods and Chattels, of every Person from whom they are demandable, who does not pay them by the 10th Day of April annually; and the Slaves, Goods and Chattels, so distrained, are to be sold at publick Auction, if the Owners do not replevy them by Payment, within two Days after Distress made.

Thus do the Laws stand at this Time, with respect to all publick Tobacco-Debts; and now let me suppose that these Laws have received the Royal Assent, and from the Inclemency of the Season and other Accidents not one Pound of Tobacco should be made in the Colony, what are the People to do, and what is to become of them? The Clergies Salaries, you say, must be paid; but that, upon the Supposition, is impossible; they must then, you say, apply for the Royal Permission to repeal or suspend these Laws; but that will not do: The Father of his People is at too great a Distance to extend his beneficent Hand for their Relief in Time; they must then, you say, be left to the Charity of the Clergy: Great and extensive, I acknowledge your Charity to be, Gentlemen! But what must be done with the other publick Creditors, who perhaps have not such large Bowels of Mercy and Compassion? And what must be done with those Harpies, those Beasts of Prey, the publick Collectors? Must they be left to feed, without Controul, upon the Vitals of the People? Must they ravage, as they list, far and wide? Must the People be exposed to their Impositions, Exactions and Rapines?—Have their Estates seized, sold and destroyed, for not complying with Laws which Providence has made it impossible to comply with? Common Sense, as well as common Humanity, will tell you that they are not, and that it is impossible any Instruction to a Governour can be construed so contrary to the first Principles of Justice and Equity, as to prevent his Assent to a Law for relieving a Colony in a Case of such general Distress and Calamity.

How such a Law, in such a Case, can be a binding of the King’s Hands, and how it manifestly tends to draw the People of the Plantations from their Edition: current; Page: [1654] Allegiance to the King, is, I confess, to me inexplicable: I should imagine it would have a quite different Tendency; for, if it could be possibly supposed, that the People of the Plantations could ever entertain a Thought of withdrawing their Dependency from the British Throne, such Doctrines, as are propogated in this Memorial, would be the ready Means of doing it, as thereby the People would be reduced to a State scarce superior to that of Galley-Slaves in Turkey, or Israelites under an Egyptian Bondage.

I need not inform you that the Circumstances of the Colony were almost as deplorable in the Year 1757, as the Case above supposed: It was a Year in which many Thousands of the People did not make one Pound of Tobacco, a Year in which the humane Landlord and Creditor were obliged to withhold their Demands from their Tenants and Debtors; a Year in which, if all the Tobacco made in the Colony had been divided between the tithable Persons only, they would not have had 200 lb. a Man to pay the Taxes for the support of the War, their Levies and other publick Dues, and to provide a scanty Subsistence for themselves and Families; and, what was still more melancholy, it was a Year in which Dearth and Scarcity took such Hold of the Land that the General-Assembly were obliged to issue Money from the publick Funds to keep the People from starving.

What now were the Legislature to do? Were they to sit idle, and silently commiserate the Miseries of the People, without affording them Assistance? No, Gentlemen; this would have been Treason indeed—Treason against the State—against the Clemency of the Royal Majesty: They therefore did their Duty, and passed a Law which gave them some Relief, without doing Injury to any publick Creditor; a Law, which was approved of by almost every Man in the Colony, and which every other honest benevolent and charitable Man, when rightly informed, must approve of as extremely just and necessary. They did not attempt, or even entertain a Thought of, abridging the Maintenance of the Clergy; but allowed them a Price for their Salaries equal to Crop Tobacco at 18 Shillings the Hundred, which made their Salaries that Year £. 144; a Sum, I will pronounce, larger than the Clergy in general had received in any one Year from the first Regulation of their Salaries by a Law, and which (one would be willing to think) they, above all Men ought to have been contented with, in a Year of such general Distress.

And here permit me to observe, that at the Time this Act passed, many Landlords and publick Officers, whose Rents and Fees were payable in Tobacco, were Members of the General-Assembly; and, with great Edition: current; Page: [1655] Chearfulness, consented to, and indeed were the chief Promoters of, it. I need not draw a Comparison between their Conduct and that of the Memorialists; the Contrast is apparent, without any Animadversions of mine.

But to make an Act to suspend the Operation of the Royal Act, which the Governour, by his Instructions, is restrained from altering, is an Attempt which in some Times would have been called Treason; and I do not know any other Name for it in our Law.

The Royal Prerogative is, without Doubt, of great Weight and Power in a dependent and subordinate Government: Like the King of Babylon’s Decree, it may, for aught I know, almost force the People of the Plantations to fall down and worship any Image it shall please to set up; but, great and powerful as it is, it can only be exerted while in the Hands of the best and most benign Sovereign, for the Good of his People, and not for their Destruction. When, therefore, the Governour and Council (to whom this Power is in Part delegated) find, from the Uncertainty and Variableness of human Affairs, that any Accident happens which general Instructions can by no Means provide for; or which, by a rigid Observation of them, would destroy a People so far distant from the Royal Presence, before they can apply to the Throne for Relief; it is their Duty as good Magistrates, to exercise this Power as the Exigency of the State requires; and, though they should deviate from the strict Letter of an Instruction, or perhaps, in a small Degree, from the fixed Rule of the Constitution, yet such a Deviation cannot possibly be Treason, when it is intended to produce the most salutary End, the Preservation of the People: In such a Case it deserves Commendation and Reward.

The Royal Instructions ought certainly to be obeyed, and nothing but the most pressing Necessity can justify any Person for infringing them; but, as salus populi est suprema lex,2 where this Necessity prevails, every Consideration must give Place to it, and even these Instructions may be deviated from with Impunity: This is so evident to Reason, and so clear and fundamental a Rule in the English Constitution, that it would be losing of Time to produce Instances of it. You were of this opinion, I believe, when you petitioned the Assembly, in the Year 1755, for an Alteration in your Salaries; and, I am persuaded, if you had been lucky enough to have had them fixed in Money to your Satisfaction, we should have seen you strong Advocates for Edition: current; Page: [1656] such a Law, notwithstanding it would have been as manifest an Infringment of the Royal Instructions as the Law is which these Memorialists complain of: We should then have had no Representations against us for assuming a Supremacy inconsistent with the Dignity of England; we should have been an orderly and well-regulated Colony, and the Clergy would have been respected and well used by the People.

And pray what is the Reason of this Difference in the Conduct of the Clergy? Why should they commend the General-Assembly for altering the Royal-Act in the Instance before us, and condemn them for doing the same Thing for the Advantage and Preservation of the whole People? Why should they treat the General-Assembly as Traitors, as Contemners of the Church and Clergy, for deviating from his Majesty’s Instructions (and a very small Deviation it was) in this Case, and be extolled as liege Subjects, as true Sons of the Church, and Respecters of the Clergy, for the very same Deviation in the other: The Clergy, it must be confessed, is of great Consideration in the State; as Instructors of the People in that Religion upon which the Salvation of Souls depends, they ought to be held in high Estimation; but yet the Preservation of the Community is to be preferred even to them.

Thus I have considered this Memorial: It is hard to see what good End the Memorialists propose by it; they certainly do not intend the Advancement of Religion, or to establish themselves, as Lovers of Truth, in the Opinion of Mankind; and to gain a small pecuniary Advantage, at the Expence of their Veracity, is an Acquisition, I should think, Men of their Function could not possibly endeavour at, even if there was a Certainty of their obtaining it. I should now take my Leave of you, if it was not for an Insinuation which is flung out in the latter Part of the Memorial; which, though it seems to be personal, I think myself obliged to take Notice of:

One would think, upon the Consideration of some late Transactions, that the Deputy-Governours thought themselves obliged, upon their first Entrance, to make a Present to the Vestries of the Maintenance of the Clergy, the Jurisdiction of the Bishop, and the Supremacy and Rights of the Crown.

What these late Transactions are, I know not; but, if this Insinuation is levelled against the Gentleman now at the Head of the Administration, I think myself obliged, in Justice to his Merit, to endeavour to obviate it: He, indeed wants no Panegyrist; but yet thus much I will say, that whilst he maintains, with a becoming Dignity, the Honour and just Rights of the Crown, he wields the Rod of Authority with so gentle, so easy and merciful Edition: current; Page: [1657] an Hand, that though the People know the Power of the Prerogative, they scarce feel the Weight of it, and rejoice under the Felicity of his Government; and yet this Gentleman has less Reason to govern with Lenity (if pecuniary Considerations can be a Reason to a noble and generous Mind) than most of our former Governours; for I affirm, and I defy even these Memorialists to prove the contrary, that he has not been offered by the People the Present our former Governours have usually been complimented with upon their Accession to the Government, neither has he received any Money from the People but that which the Nature of his Appointment justly entitles him to; so that, if this Insinuation is intended to reflect on him as a mercenary Man, who would sacrifice the Rights of the Crown to his own private Interest, it is downright Calumny, a Contradiction to Truth and clear Matter of Fact, and deserves no farther Consideration.

I do not say this to flatter, or gain Favour: Flattery I despise, and I never was anxious of the Favours of great Men; it is Truth that forceth it from me, and I hope I shall never sacrifice that, even to procure the good Opinion of the Clergy.

If it should be thought that I have said more than I can justify, I am ready for my Trial: We are upon the Spot, where Facts can be known and Truth discovered; but then I insist on the Privilege of an Englishman, that my Trial be fair, open and publick; for I abhor those Accusers, who, like Romish Inquisitors, or some late Conventioners, carry on their insidious Practices in the Dark, lest the Day-light should discover the Iniquity of their Transactions, and then valeant quantum valere possint.3

I am Gentlemen,
Your obedient Servant,
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59: [Joseph Galloway], A Letter to the People of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1760)

The independence of judges from royal influence was an important theme in the English constitutional debate of the seventeenth century, and as an important part of the Revolutionary settlement, the Act of Settlement of 1701 specified that thenceforth the tenure of judges should not be at the pleasure of the Crown, as had been the case under the Stuarts, but during good behavior. But British authorities never extended this stipulation to the colonies. Although a few colonies managed, through metropolitan inadvertence, to achieve the same arrangement, most of them had not done so by the middle of the 1750s. During the quarter century before the American Revolution, colonial legislatures in many colonies, including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Jamaica, tried to pass measures requiring judicial tenure during good behavior, only to have them struck down by London authorities. The Pennsylvania Assembly passed its judicial tenure act in 1759, and this pamphlet, almost certainly written by Joseph Galloway, is the fullest statement of colonial British American thinking on this subject.

Opening with a consideration of the importance of an independent judiciary in a free government, the author recounted in some detail the English experience in this regard, arguing that it was an ancient English right, restored on the settlement that followed the Glorious Revolution, and that Parliament had “intended” to extend this essential element of English liberty “to all the King’s Subjects in America.” Accusing proprietary governors of trying to revive “the wicked Policy” of the Stuarts by making judges Edition: current; Page: [1660] dependent upon them, he urged his readers to oppose such effort. Not “the least Spark of Reason [can] be offered, why a British Subject in America” should “not enjoy the like Safety” with Britons at home from an independent judiciary, he declared, urging his readers “to insist on the Enjoyment of this your native, your antient and indubitable Right” until they had “prevail[ed] on your G[overno]rs to grant the Judges Commissions to the People of Pennsylvania, in the same free and constitutional Manner, as your Sovereign grants them to his Subjects in England.” (J.P.G.)

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To the People of


Occasioned by the ASSEMBLY’s

passing that Important ACT,


Constituting the JUDGES

of the

Supream COURTS and Common-Pleas,

During Good BEHAVIOUR.

I charged your Judges at that Time, saying, Hear the Causes between your Brethren, and judge Righteously between everyMan and his Brother, and the Stranger that is withhim: Ye shall not Respect Persons in Judgment, but you shall hear the Small as well as the Great; you shall not be afraid of the Face of Man, for the Judgment is GOD’s.

Deut. i. 16, 17.

Philadelphia: Printed in MDCCLX.

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A Letter, To the People of Pennsylvania, &c.

Whoever has made himself acquainted with antient History, and looked into the original Design of Government, will find, that one of its chief and principal Ends was to secure the Persons and Properties of Mankind from private Injuries and domestic Oppression.

In forming a Plan of Government compleatly to answer these excellent Purposes, the fundamental Laws and Rules of the Constitution, which ought never to be infringed, should be made alike distributive of Justice and Equity, and equally calculated to preserve the Sovereign’s Prerogative and the People’s Liberties. But Power and Liberty ever being Opponents, should the Work stop here, the Constitution would bear a near Analogy to a Ship without Rudder, Rigging, or Sails, utterly incapable of answering the End of its Construction. For tho’ the wisest and best Laws were enacted to fix the Bounds of Power and Liberty, yet without a due Care in constituting Persons impartially to execute them, the former by its Influence, and Encroachments on Liberty would soon become Tyranny, and the latter by the like Extent of its Limits might possibly degenerate into Licentiousness. In both which Cases, the Condition of Mankind would be little mended; scarcely better than in their original State of Nature and Confusion, before any civil Polity was agreed on.

The Men therefore who are to settle the Contests between Prerogative and Liberty, who are to ascertain the Bounds of sovereign Power, and to determine the Rights of the Subject, ought certainly to be perfectly free from the Influence of either. But more especially of the former, as History plainly evinces, that it is but too apt to prevail over the Ministers of Justice by its natural Weight and Authority, notwithstanding the wisest Precautions have been used to prevent it.

The Necessity of this independent State of Justice is rendered apparent by the slightest Consideration of human Frailty. Consider Men as they really are, attended with innumerable Foibles and Imperfections, ever liable to err; and you will find but very few, who are so obstinately just, as to be Proof against the enticing Baits of Honor and Interest. The Love of Promotion and private Advantage, are Passions almost universal, and admit of the most dangerous Extreams. The one in Excess generally produces the most servile Obedience, the other intolerable Avarice and a base Dereliction of Edition: current; Page: [1663] Virtue. That which we love and engages our Attention, we are ever ready to purchase at any Price. Thus an inordinate Lover of Promotion sooner than part with it, would surrender up his Regard for Justice, his Duty to his Country, and to his GOD for its Preservation. And the avaricious Man sooner than lose his Pelf, would part with his Honor, his Reputation, I had almost said his Life. And such is the Influence of this Dread of parting with that which we esteem, whatever it be, that it so effectually chains down the Powers of the human Soul, that it cannot be said to enjoy Freedom of Judgment, scarcely Freedom of Thought.

Of this Truth, the abject Promises and servile Conduct of the great Lord Bacon, exhibit an irrefragable Proof. It was but rational to think, that a Man of his extensive Abilities, and capacious Soul, that could comprehend all the Beauties of Rectitude and Justice at a View, would at least preserve in his public Station, an independent and unperverted Judgment. And yet his Virtue fell a Victim to his love of Promotion. He begged for Preferment with the same low Servility, that the necessitous Pauper would beg for daily Bread. His Promise to the King in order to obtain the Chancellors Place, was, “That when a Direction was once given, it should be pursued and performed.” And when he succeeded in his Wishes, his Conduct with respect to the Court and its arbitrary Measures, shewed that he strictly fulfilled his Engagement.

Whoever has read the Form of a Commission during Pleasure, and considered its Limitations, must certainly be surprized that a generous Mind would accept of a Tenure so servile, and so incompatible with the very Nature of Justice. He can be but a Tenant at Will of a G——r at best, and for the most Part of an At——y G——l, or perhaps some other Favorite in the several Counties. The Terms of Tenure are, until our further Will and Pleasure shall be made known, which, by a natural Construction, if we may call Reason and Experience to our Aid, is, no longer than you gratify us, our Favorites and Creatures, in your Determinations, let our Will and Pleasure therein be ever so illegal, ever so partial and unjust.

That some Men of independent Circumstances, happy in the Possession of Virtue, have accepted of those Commissions and acted uprightly, I will not pretend to dispute. They are remarkable Instances of public Integrity, and merit the highest Commendation. They are among Mankind, as a Comet among the Stars, rarely to be seen. But generally to look for strict Impartiality and a pure Administration of Justice; to expect that Power Edition: current; Page: [1664] should be confined within its legal Limits, and Right and Justice done to the Subject by Men who are dependent, is to ridicule all Laws against Bribery and Corruption, and to say that human Nature is insensible of the Love, or above the Lure of Honor, Interest, or Promotion.

With what Freedom and Justness do the modern Writers of a certain great Nation, complain against the Multiplicity of ministerial Officers, who hold their Commissions during Pleasure; and what renders that Freedom so justifiable, and those Complaints so just, but the Misfortunes the Nation has suffered, by the Weight these Creatures have thrown into the Scale of Power, by paying an implicit Obedience to its Commands, and a devoted Adherence to its Measures. If then, such are the dangerous Effects of a Dependency in the ministerial Officers, whose Conduct is circumscribed by positive Laws, and checked by the superior Courts of Justice; how much more so must a Dependency of the judicial Officers be, where every Thing is left in the Power, and to the Discretion of the Judge, on whose Breath, the Security of all Property and the Liberty of the People depend? Must it not produce more dangerous Consequences? Will it not bring on inevitable Ruin?

But further to illustrate the Necessity of an independent State of Justice in every Community where the Security of Property and the Happiness of Mankind, is the object of its Polity, numerous Instances might be adduced from the Histories of Europe, in which it has been the principal Policy of the most arbitrary Princes, who have conceived a Design of quelling the Spirit of Liberty, and enslaving their Subjects to their Will and Pleasure, to draw over to their Party the Ministers of the Law. By this Means, having effectually superseded the Execution of the Laws, and subdued the Power which alone could check a tyrannical Exercise of Prerogative; they have let loose every Instrument of Oppression, and left Nothing in the Community able to oppose the Torrent. Attempts of this Kind have frequently succeeded, and sometimes in Reigns, when the Judges have been as independent as the Law could make them. If so, how much more easily is this Policy pursued and executed, when the Judges hold their Offices on the servile Tenure of during Pleasure.

Without wandering into foreign History, a few Examples from that of our Mother-Country, and our own Province, will best suit my Purpose, as they are more familiar and adapted to your Circumstances.

By this Kind of Policy, Richard H. broke over every Barrier of Law, and prostrated the Fence which the Wisdom of Ages had planted round Edition: current; Page: [1665] the Constitution. Or as the Historian has it, “By the murderous Weapons of perverted Law.”

The Opinion subscribed by all the Judges in England, touching the Commission for inspecting the public Revenues of the same Reign, is an evincing Evidence of this Truth. The Parliament observing the immense Profusion of the public Treasure by the Ministers of Richard, the great Want of Oeconomy in his Houshold, a Number of Pensions granted to his Creatures, his numerous Favorites grown rich amidst a national Penury and Distress, saw the Necessity of an Enquiry into, and Reformation of these Abuses, and appointed a Committee of eleven Noblemen for that Purpose, whose Authority was confirmed by an Act of Parliament. But this being inconsistent with the King’s arbitrary Plan, he no sooner received the Supplies, but in a most solemn Manner he protested against it, and pursued every Measure in his Power to enslave the Nation. His detestable Scheme was to intimidate and corrupt the several Sheriffs to return a packed Parliament of his own Tools; the City of London was to furnish him with Men and Money, and the Judges of the Courts were to pervert the Laws, and sacrifice the Rights of the Nation.

But he failed in all his Reliances, save on the prostituted Judges: The Sheriffs informed him, that the People would never give up that most valuable Privilege, the Freedom of Elections. The City of London excused herself from acting her Part in the horrid Scene. But the Judges over-awed and corrupted, justified all his Measures. In the Opinion, I have mentioned above, they declared, that the Commission and Statute aforesaid, were derogatory to the King’s Prerogative; that the Persons who moved for them, procured, or prevailed on his Majesty to assent to them, should be punished with Death; that the King in all Matters to be treated of in Parliament, had a Right to direct and command from the Beginning to the End thereof; that if they acted contrary to the King’s Pleasure made known therein, they were to be punished as Traitors; that he could whenever he pleased, remove any of his Judges and Officers, and justify or punish them for their Offences; And that the Lords and Commons could not impeach them for any of their Crimes; with many other Things equally subversive of the Laws of the Land, and the very Being of the Constitution. An Opinion, so evidently infamous and servile, that it cannot call for the least Remark. I shall therefore only observe, that Belknap Chief-Justice, after he had signed it, not being resolute enough to be steady, nor so vicious as to want Remorse for violating his Oath, the Edition: current; Page: [1666] Cause of Truth and his Country, declared, “that he wanted Nothing but a Hurdle, a Horse, and a Halter to bring him to the Death he deserved.”

The same Plan of Policy was pursued by Charles I. He removed Sir Robert Heath, Lord Chief-Justice, from his Office, because he could not approve of, and justify his Conduct, and Sir John Finch, a most abject Tool of the Court, became his Successor.

Thus by removing at his Pleasure, Men of Virtue and Integrity from the Courts of Law, and placing in their Stead such as would serve his arbitrary Purposes, he procured a Set of Judges entirely devoted to his Will. Under the Sanction of their Opinion, he issued forth his Proclamations, and enforced an Obedience to them, as the fundamental Laws of the Land; while those very Laws, by which not public and private Property only, but the very Existence of the Constitution itself was preserved, were dispensed with. So far did he carry this Policy, that it was common for the Secretaries of State, to send Letters to the Judges to lay aside the Laws against Papists, while the Persons that dared to disobey his arbitrary Proclamations, were proceeded against with more Rigour than if they had violated the fundamental Laws of the Kingdom.

The same Measure was taken to justify and support that infamous Violation of the Subjects Right, the Imposition of Ship-Money. The Judges were first closetted, flattered, threatened and intimidated, until they were prevailed on to subscribe to an Opinion, directly inconsistent with the Laws of the Land and the Liberties of the Nation.

No Englishman can ever forget the unheard of Barbarities committed by Judge Jefferies, that murdering Instrument of the Court of James II.

Nor will that successful Attempt of the same King, to procure a set of Judges that should determine, not according to Law, but his tyrannical Directions, ever to be effaced from the Minds of Britons: He first closetted them agreeable to the Example of his Predecessor Charles; and would have made an express Bargain with them, that they should continue in their Commissions, provided they would maintain his pretended Prerogative of dispensing with penal Laws. But four of them discovered great Dissatisfaction at the Proposal, and particularly, Sir Thomas Jones plainly told him, “He would not do what he required of him.” His Majesty answered, “He would have twelve Judges of his own Opinion.” Sir Thomas replied, “Twelve Judges, Sir, you may possibly find, but not twelve Lawyers.” But to convince him of his Mistake, the King in a few Days appointed four such Creatures from Edition: current; Page: [1667] the Bar, in the Room of the four worthy Judges, as effectually answered his Purpose; and eleven out of twelve, confirmed, as far as their Opinions could confirm, his illegal Power of dispensing with the Laws of their Country.

Many other Instances of this Nature, might be brought from the History of your Fore-fathers to demonstrate the Necessity of creating the Office of a Judge, independent of Power; and to show that an Increase of Prerogative, a Perversion of the Laws, a Suspension of your natural Rights, and a Violation of the fundamentals of an English Constitution, have often been effected by this Kind of Policy; this undue and illegal Influence on the Courts of Justice.

But permit me to remind you of those notorious Instances of violated Property, the Insistment of your Servants in the late Spanish War, who were a Part of Property as firmly secured by the Laws of your Country, as any you enjoy; as much your Right, as the Ox you have paid for, or the Inheritance you have purchased. Were they not by an arbitrary Stretch of Power, violently wrested from your Hands, without Money and without Recompence? What availed all your Endeavours to procure the Benefit of those Laws, and a Restitution of your Rights? Your Courts of Justice were dependent on, and under the Direction of the very Author of the Oppression.

Thus it is evident from the Nature of Justice, from the slightest Consideration of the frailty of human Nature, and from antient as well as modern Observation; that your Rights and Properties have been utterly insecure, while your Judges have been under the Influence of, and subject to the pleasure of your Rulers; and that your Welfare and Happiness have been merely Ideal, when the Laws of the Land, those impregnable Bulwarks of your Safety, have either been suspended, or not executed.

Having shewn you, that a Security of your Rights and Properties was the chief End of your entring into Society, and that, that Security cannot be obtained without an independent and uninfluenced Judicature; it becomes an indispensible Duty to take some Pains, to convince you, that this Security is your undoubted Privilege as Englishmen, of which you cannot be divested without Violence to your antient Rights and the Principles of an English Government.

To trace this your important Privilege to its original Source, it will be necessary to follow me back to the first Dawn of the present Constitution of England; there to learn the precarious Situation of Property, and the wise Remedy, that was framed to give it a permanent Security.

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Before the Time of the great Alfred, that wise Founder of the English Government, the Care of the several Counties was committed to the Nobility. They acted in a double Capacity as Leaders of the Troops, and Judges of the People’s Properties; and being frequently absent on Military Duty, were obliged to leave the Administration of their civil Affairs to Prefects or Deputies, who, holding their Authority during the Pleasure of the Lords, and the Lords being the Creatures and Dependents of the Crown, in all their Determinations, paid a devoted Obedience to the Directions of their Superiors, and the Voice of Prerogative, while, the Execution of the Laws, and the Rights of the Subject were the least of their Concern. The Nation at this Time had Property, but no Safety in the Enjoyment. They had some Degree of Liberty, but held it as Tenants at Will of the Crown, of the Nobility or their Favorites; they had Laws, but no Protection from the hostile Hand of the domestic Oppressor. In this unfortunate and desponding Situation, did the great Father of public Virtue find Liberty and Property—The two principal Objects of all good Laws. A generous Compassion for the distressed State of the Nation, induced him to alter the Constitution wherever he found it inconsistent with the Welfare and Happiness of his People. The Security of Property, without which private Felicity is a mere Chimera, engrossed his chief Attention. He was the Author of the excellent Institution of Trials by Jurors that solid Pillar of English Liberty. He altered the former dependent State of Justice, by appointing and commissionating Judges independent of the Crown; that they might ever after remain free from its Influence, and deaf to every Solicitation, but the Convictions of Truth. He did not perhaps, like our modern Politicians, see no Advantage in an impartial Administration of Justice, but well knew from late Experience, that Justice must be a Stranger to the Land, whose Form of Government could not ensure Safety to the Liberties, and Properties of the People.

The Office of a Judge being thus wisely established, numerous Instances might be drawn from the English History, to demonstrate, that the Ministers of Justice were not removeable at the Pleasure of the Crown. Edward I. a Prince remarkable for his excellent Schemes of distributive Justice, and as cautious as the good Alfred, lest his Prerogative should oppress the Law, was determined to purge the civil Polity from the gross Pollutions it had contracted from former Reigns. But before he could displace a Set of the most venal and corrupted Judges, he was under a Necessity from the Nature Edition: current; Page: [1669] of their Commissions, to impeach them before the Nobility, and convict them of their Offences.

The like Method was taken by the great Restorer of English Liberty, Edward III. In Order to remove Green and Skipwith from their Offices, who had justly incurred his, and the Nations Displeasure, by their Extortion and Partiality.

The infamous Tresilian Chief-Justice, and his Brother Judges; the former of whom was punished Capitally, and the others banished to Ireland in the Reign of Richard II. were first tryed and convicted, before they were removed from the Seat of Justice.

In the arbitrary Reign of James I. Lord Chief-Justice Coke, who at that Time had become very odious to the King, by a virtuous Opposition to his Measures, and had also incurred the public Indignation, by his extream Avarice, was convicted, of one of the most trifling Articles exhibited against him, on his own Confession, which served as a Pretence for the removing him from his Offices.

Agreeable to this excellent Policy of the common Law, ever since the latter End of the eighth Century, the Judges have held their Commissions during their Good Behaviour; a few Instances to the Contrary made by the Incroachments of Power, excepted: Even in the most arbitrary Reigns of Charles, and James II. the Judges were commissionated in this legal and constitutional Form; reigns in which Power had so great an Ascendancy, that had it not been consistent with the antient common Law, and the Usage and Custom of Ages, the Rights of the Nation had not met with so great a Favour. The Forms of the Commissions of Sir Robert Hide, and Sir Robert Forster, who held them during Good Behaviour, are to be seen in the Reports of Charles’s Reign. And Sir Robert Archer some Time before, having unjustly incurred the Displeasure of Charles, received a Supersedeas to his Commission as one of the Judges, but with virtuous Resolution, he refused to surrender his Patent without a Trial, and continued in his Office during his Life.

The next Thing worthy your Attention is, how far this invaluable Policy, so often suspended by arbitrary Power, was restored and confirmed by your Predecessors, the first Settlers of this Province. They had drank of the bitter Cup of despotic Authority: They had sufferd the Mischiefs of perverted Law: They had seen their Liberties both civil and religious bend under its Weight: They resolved therefore to seek a more hospitable Country, but Edition: current; Page: [1670] would not venture their Lives and Estates in this desart Land, without some Security against any Incroachment on this inestimable Part of their Mother Constitution. They wisely foresaw great Danger of an Invasion thereof, in a Province, where an immense Quantity of Property, was to attend a large Extent of Power, where the same Person who was to enjoy the Powers of Government, was likewise to be an universal Landlord, possessed of many Millions of Acres, with all their increasing Advantages and Emoluments; that this Property, at the same Time it produced Contests, would create Power and Influence, and if those Contests were to be decided, tho’ not immediately by the Proprietary himself, yet mediately by his Deputies, whose Dignity, Office and Estate depended on his Breath, their Conditions and Circumstances by their Removal could be rendered worse, and the Safety of their Persons and Properties more precarious. It was therefore expresly stipulated and solemnly covenanted by William Penn, with the first Adventurers before their Departure from their native Country, That

He would nominate and appoint such Persons for Judges, Treasurers, Masters of the Rolls, Sheriffs, Justices, as were most fitly qualified for those Employments; to whom he would make and grant Commissions for the said Offices respectively, to hold them for so long Time as every such Person should well behave himself, in the Office or Place to him respectively granted, and no longer.

Thus secured as they Thought, in the Enjoyment of their Liberties and Estates, they surrendered up every social Connection of their native Land, under the vain Expectation of enjoying this Privilege agreed on before their Departure. But how righteously this fundamental Rule of your Constitution has been observed, the late dependent State of your Magistracy (whose Commissions have been granted during the Governors Pleasure) the Partiality and Favour that have been shewn to a favorite Att——y, to whose Influence they have been indebted for their Offices, and on whose Will their Continuance therein depended; the many Instances of Men of Integrity being displaced from the Seat of Justice, because of their virtuous Opposition to the Measures of Power; and the partial Distribution of Offices to Creatures and Tools, are so many incontestable Testimonies, of a manifest Breach of public Faith with your Predecessors and you their Posterity.

If your Ancestors here were not wanting in their Endeavours to secure you from the Mischiefs of perverted Law, and to transmit to you an upright Edition: current; Page: [1671] Administration of Justice; the Parliament of your Mother Country, have not been less careful in this respect. At the Time of the happy Revolution, that famous Opportunity of overcoming the Usurpations of former Reigns, and restoring the Constitution to its antient Freedom, many of the national Rights were revived and confirmed by the Bill of Rights. And yet, such was the Haste and Zeal of the Parliament, to settle the Essentials of the present Government, that many important Matters were neglected, among which may be accounted, a Restitution of the Courts of Judicature to their antient Independency. But this Error was not long undiscovered, the Parliament called to Mind the Mischiefs the Nation had suffered by the slavish Opinions of the Judges in the Case of Ship-Money; the arbitrary Removal of Justices Powel and Holloway, for acting consistent with their Oaths and Consciences in the Case of the five Bishops; they remembered that such was the Influence of James II. with the Judges, whom he commissioned during his Pleasure, that Juries were packed; the Subject held to excessive Bail; the Laws of Liberty violated and dispensed with; expensive Fines imposed; cruel Punishments inflicted; the Spirit of Liberty worn out, and many Innocents condemned. Without the Spirit of Divination, they plainly foresaw, that the same Train of fatal Consequences must attend the Liberties of the Nation, should their Judges remain subject to the same Influence. They therefore, as soon as it became necessary to make a farther Limitation of the Succession of the Crown in the Protestant Line, gladly embraced the happy Opportunity of rectifying former Mistakes, and of making a further Security for the antient Rights and Liberties of the Subject. They resolved that the one should go Hand in Hand with the other. And by the Act which settled the further Limitation of the Crown, it is, among other Things expresly declared, That the Judges Commissions shall be made Quam diu se bene gesserint, or as long as they should behave themselves well in their Offices; and their Salaries shall be ascertained and established.

Here it is worthy your Information, first, That the Rights and Liberties claimed and declared by the Bill of Rights, that second Magna Charta, and the Act of Settlement, created no Innovation of the antient Constitution. The Parliament had no Design to change, but only to restore the antient Laws and Customs of the Realm, which were the true and indubitable Rights and Liberties of the People of England. This appears as well from the Bill of Rights, and the Resolves which preceded the Act of Settlement, as from the Act itself. From whence it follows, that this Right of the People to Edition: current; Page: [1672] have their Judges indifferent Men, and independent of the Crown, is not of a late Date, but Part of the antient Constitution of your Government, and inseparably Inherent in the Persons of every freeborn Englishman; and that the granting Commissions to the Judges during Pleasure, was then esteemed by the Parliament, and truly was, an arbitrary and illegal Violation of the Peoples antient Liberties.

Secondly, That those excellent Laws were intended to extend, and actually do extend to all the King’s Subjects in America. That their Faith and Allegiance are bound by them to the present most excellent Royal Family, and of Course that they are entitled to the Rights and Liberties therein claimed, asserted and confirmed. And yet your former G——rs, as if they had been determined to revive and pursue the wicked Policy of those arbitrary Reigns I have mentioned, and to throw aside the worthy Example of his present most gracious Majesty, have acted as if those excellent Laws were not to be executed, and the Example of their Sovereign unworthy of influencing their Conduct. They have granted all the Commissions of the Judges during their Will and Pleasure, and like Charles and James, have occasionally removed such as dared oppose their arbitrary Designs, and filled up their Places with others, who would ratify and support their Measures, however unjust and illegal.

This being the Case, what Censure and Blame would your Representatives have merited, had they not seized the first Opportunity of rendering your Courts and Judges independent. An Opportunity offered; they passed a Law, limiting the Number of the Judges which before was unlimited, and left it in the Power of a bad G——r, to create as many Dependents as his Measures should call for. It directs that the Judges of the Supream Court and Common-Pleas, shall hereafter hold their Commissions during their Good Behaviour; which before have often depended on the Nod of a G——r, or an At——y G——l. And it ordains, that the Judges of the Common-Pleas shall hold the Orphans Court; that in no Instance, your Properties exceeding the Value of £5. should be determined by Men dependent on Power or its Advocates; and the Ministers of Justice, who ought to be the Ministers of your Protection, may not be prevailed on, either to pervert your Laws, or to give up your Rights.

A law so full of Advantages to the People, one would imagine could not have an Enemy; and yet we find there is Nothing so virtuous, but the Enemies of Virtue will decry. The principal Objection against this Law is, that Edition: current; Page: [1673] “It brings a great Expence on the Counties, without any Benefit accruing from it.” Let us enquire what mighty Burden will attend it in the County of Philadelphia, where the Expence will be greatest. The Judges have never sat above Five Days in the Quarter at most, which, at Twenty Shillings per Day, will amount to One Hundred Pounds per Annum. One Hundred Pounds divided among 7000 Taxables, which this County contains, will not make it Three pence half penny per Man. Is an Expence so trifling equal to the Advantages to be derived from such a Law? Is that Expence unnecessary which procures Safety to your Property, and Protection to your Persons? Is an impartial Administration of Justice of so little Moment to the People? For what Purpose were the Courts of Judicature established? Was it that Judgment should be given according to the Nod and Direction of a P——y, G——r, or Att——y G——l, or, as the last shall happen to be employed? Or, was it that they should be free from all Fear, Favour or Affection whatsoever? That their Determinations might flow from an honest Conscience, from an impartial and unbiassed Mind?

The Enemies to this Law, like all other Persons who do not act upon Principle, manifestly contradict their own constant Practice. What Man among them, who has a Controversy with his Neighbour, would not chuse to have it determined by Arbitrators at least as independent of his Opponent as himself? I think I am safe in asserting, that no Man of common Sense, would submit his Cause to the Judgment of Arbitrators, who are the Tenants at Will, or Debtors of his Antagonist, or to Persons who are connected with him by Blood or Affinity, or by Obligations and Favours conferred. Is it not a common Objection at our Courts of Justice, in the Election of Referees, that the Person named, is of the same religious Persuasion with the other Party? Whence arises the Objection but from a well grounded Suspicion, that in some Men, even Similitude of Sentiments may create undue Favour and Attachment to the Interest of one side; and bias the private Judgment and be the Cause of Injustice.

If this be the Case between Neighbour and Neighbour, how does it stand between the Proprietaries and the People of this Province? Every Freeholder is by Contract their Debtor, and therefore every one of them may, and many often will, have Disputes and Lawsuits with them, respecting the many Covenants contained in their Grants, and the Quitrents. Does not the same Reason which declares the Use of indifferent Arbitrators in the Case of private Persons, loudly proclaim the Necessity of independent Men Edition: current; Page: [1674] to settle the Differences between Power and Property; between the Proprietaries and the People? Have not Men who are cloathed with immense Property and extensive Power, by the Weight of these alone, too great an Opportunity of influencing the Courts of Justice, without this unnatural and unreasonable Dependency of the Judges on their Pleasure?

I have shewn you, in the Reigns of Charles and James, that Men of Fortune and the most extensive Abilities, have sacrificed their Honor, their Oaths and their Consciences, on the Altar of Court Influence. That they have violated the sacred Office and Trust of a Judge, which were committed to them for the Welfare of the People. Do you think it would be a difficult Task to produce you Examples of the like Immolations in your own Government? Have some of your past Administrations been less oppressive and arbitrary than those of Charles and James? Have not the Royal Grant and Proprietary Charter, the Foundations of your Constitution, been dispensed with, and superseded by arbitrary P——y Edicts? Have not those Edicts, which like the Laws of the Medes and Persians were to alter not, chained down the Judgments of your Rulers, and deprived them of their Discretion in Matters of Legislation?

Have you known a Scheme of Power to deprive you of your Properties, in which your M——g——st——es have not been concerned? Have you forgot the Attempt to destroy the Freedom of your Elections, abetted and supported by the Men who ought to have suppressed it? Have not your Servants, as much your Property as the Money in your Purses, been illegally enlisted, by a former G——r, and scarcely any could be found, who dared to execute the Laws made for its Safety? What Part did they act, in preventing your Houses, (which by Law are to every Man a Place of Refuge and Safety) from being made Barracks for the Soldiery.—Did they execute the penal Statute of our Mother Country against it, or did not some of them act a shameful Neutrality, while others united with Power, and in its very Council abetted the illegal Attempt. How manfully and conscientiously did they exert themselves in suppressing the Rioters, those Instruments of Power, who were collected to frighten the Representatives to surrender up your sacred Rights, or were not some of them mixed with the Mob, promoting and abetting their wicked Design?

Where then is the Difference? If Charles and James dispensed with penal Statutes in Order to introduce Popery, your former G——rs have dispensed with the Laws and Fundamentals of your Liberties and Privileges, Edition: current; Page: [1675] in order to introduce Slavery. If the former influenced the Determinations of the Judges, and thereby perverted the Laws of the Country, your P——ries by severe Penalties, have deprived the Head of the executive as well as legislative Authority, of his Discretion and Reason: And your G——rs have so influenced the Courts of Justice to justify and support their despotic Designs, that you and your Predecessors, from the like dangerous Policy, have suffered equal Mischief, and the like Misfortunes.

Should, then, the same illegal and arbitrary Measures hereafter be pursued by some future Son of Oppression; should a Design be formed of dispensing with your Laws, and of imposing unnecessary Taxes and Burthens heavy to be born, without the Assent of your Representatives, and the Ministers of Justice be thought the proper Instruments of effecting these horrid Purposes, how certain the Success! how easy the Task! while your Judges are dependent on the Will of the Oppressor. Can you doubt that human Nature, wearing the Yoke engraved with the Motto DURING PLEASURE, will not hold and practice the Doctrine of passive Obedience and non Resistance, with respect to the Destruction of your Rights and Privileges? If it should retain Virtue enough not to be active in their Ruin, Will not the same Cause ever produce the same Effect? Will that which was once destructive, now change its Nature, and become harmless and innocent? Has the Poison of the Asp ever lost its virulent Quality? Will you then surrender up your sacred Rights into the Hands of Power for Protection? Will you suffer the Safety of your Persons, which is still more precious, to depend on the Humour and Caprice of your Rulers and their Favorites?

Consider, my Countrymen, farther, are the Pennsylvanians Men of more independant Fortunes, or of greater Abilities? do they inherit a greater Share of inflexible Virtue? And are they less liable to Influence and Corruption than the People of England? Has not fatal Experience evidently demonstrated, that the private Property of your P——ries, and their Favorites, will daily clash more and more with yours; more frequently and in a much greater Degree than the private Interest of your Sovereign possibly can with that of his Subjects. And yet has not the wise Example and Policy of a British Parliament thought it indispensably necessary, even there, that the Judges should hold their Commissions during good Behaviour, as independent of the Crown as of the Nation.

If those Things be so, can the least Spark of Reason be offered, why a British Subject in America shall not enjoy the like Safety, the same Protection Edition: current; Page: [1676] against domestic Oppression? Is it because you have left your native Land at the Risque of your Lives and Fortunes, to toil for your Mother Country, to load her with Wealth, that you are to be rewarded with a Loss of your Privileges? Are you not of the same Stock? Was the Blood of your Ancestors polluted by a Change of Soil? Were they Freemen in England; and did they become Slaves by a six Weeks Voyage to America? Does not the Sun shine as bright, our Blood run as warm; Is not our Honor and Virtue as pure, our Liberty as valuable, our Property as dear, our Lives as precious here as in England? Are we not Subjects of the same King, and bound by the same Laws, and have we not the same God for our Protector?

What, then, can you think of those abject Americans; those Slaves by Principle; those Traitors to their own and Posterities Happiness, who plunging the Dagger into the Vitals of their own Liberty, do not blush at declaring, that you are not entitled to the same Security of Property; the same Rights and Privileges of the freeborn Subjects of England? Let me ask those Enemies to your Welfare, how much thereof are you entitled to? Who will measure out and distribute your poor Pittance, your short Allowance? Is a Tenth, an Hundredth, or a Thousandth part to be the Portion of your Liberty? Abject detestable Thought! The poor African, who is taken Captive in War, and dragged an involuntary Slave to Jamaica, calls for your Humanity and Compassion; but the voluntary Wretch, that works out his own and Posterities slavish Condition, for the Sake of a little present Lucre, Promotion or Power, is an Object deserving your deepest Resentment, your highest Indignation.

Ye who are not wilfully blind to the Advantages of this beneficial Law, who for want of a little Reflection have spoke derogatorily of its Merits; let me rouse you from your Lethargy, and prevail on you to see through the Perspective of Truth, your and your Posterities Danger and approaching Misery. What will avail the Laws which are and shall be made for your Protection, if they are not impartially executed? What will avail the virtuous Struggles, the noble Victories of your Representatives over the Attempts of your intestine Enemies? What will avail, the heavy Taxes you labour under? the Thousands you have exhausted? the Blood and Treasure you have expended, to protect your Persons and Properties from foreign Invaders, if they are not safe from the insidious Designs of Ambition and Power, their ever vigilant and active Foes, nor even from the artful Attempts of a Edition: current; Page: [1677] litigious Neighbour, who is in favour with the Great, or can first employ a favorite Attorney?

Whatever then, be the Fate of the Law, which has occasioned this Address to you, let me intreat you, to insist on the Enjoyment of this your native, your antient and indubitable Right. ’Tis yours by the Usage and Custom of ages; ’tis yours by the Rules of Reason; ’tis yours by Covenant with the first Founder of your Government; ’tis yours by the united Consent of King, Lords and Commons; ’tis yours by Birth-right and as Englishmen.—Complain, and remonstrate to your Representatives incessantly, until they shall, like the great and good Alfred, make a Restitution of this your most important and essential Right, the first and principal Object of their Concern; until they prevail on your G——rs to grant the Judges Commissions to the People of Pennsylvania, in the same free and constitutional Manner, as your Sovereign grants them to his Subjects in England.

Be assured, if a Privilege thus justly founded, so often ratified and confirmed; if an impartial and independent Administration of Justice is once wrested from your Hands, neither the Money in your Pockets, nor the Clothes on your Backs, nor your Inheritances, nor even your Persons, can remain long safe from Violation. You will become Slaves indeed, in no respect different from the sooty Africans, whose Persons and Properties are subject to the Disposal of their tyrannical Masters.

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60: James Otis, A Vindication of the Conduct of the House of Representatives of the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay (Boston, 1762)

Written by James Otis, a lawyer and influential member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives who would subsequently achieve wider fame as a result of his writings during the stamp crisis, this pamphlet deals with one of the oldest and thorniest issues in colonial politics: the control of colonial finance. While the Assembly was recessed in December 1761, Governor Francis Bernard and his council voted to expend funds from the treasury to outfit a vessel to go to the aid of Massachusetts fishermen threatened by privateers off the coast of Cape Breton, and this pamphlet recounts the altercation that ensued after the House expressed its “uneasiness” at an action that involved the disbursement of funds “without the knowledge of the house, and paying it without their privity or consent.” Citing the few similar examples in which the governor and council had previously acted in an “unusual and unconstitutional way,” the House complained that such actions “in effect” took “from the house their most darling priviledge, the right of originating all Taxes,” and led in the direction of “annihilating one branch of the legislature.” “Once the Representatives of a people give up this Priviledge,” the House declared, “the Government will very soon become arbitrary.” In response, Bernard argued that although “the Business of originating Taxes most certainly belongs to the Representatives Edition: current; Page: [1680] of the People,” the “Business of issuing Money out of the Treasury, as certainly belongs to the Governor with the Advice of Council.”

In his pamphlet, Otis argued that executive authority over disbursements was “confined by the charter, law and constitution of the province . . . to the general assembly or legislative body of the province” and that the governor and council were completely “bound and limitted by the appropriations and establishments made by the acts of the province” and had no discretion in their disbursements. “Would all plantation Governors reflect upon the nature of free government, and the principles of the British constitution, as now happily established, and practice upon those principles, instead (as most of them do) of spending their whole time in extending the prerogative beyond all bounds,” Otis noted, “they would serve the King their master better, and make the people under their care infinitely happier,” and he advised Bernard that, if he wanted to have a successful administration, he should “in all cases take the advice of the general assembly. (Which however contemptably some may affect to speak of it, is the great council of this province, as the British parliament is of the kingdom.)” (J.P.G.)

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of the


of the

House of Representatives

of the


of the


more particularly,

in the


of the


By James Otis, Esq; A Member of said House.

  • “Let such, such only, tread this sacred Floor, Who dare to love their Country and be Poor;”*
  • “Or good tho’ rich, humane and wise tho’ great, Jove give but these, we’ve nought to Fear from Fate!”

BOSTON: Printed by Edes & Gill, in Queen-Street. 1762.

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The Preface

The following Vindication, was written in order to give, a clear View of Facts; and to free the House of Representatives, from some very injurious aspersions, that have been cast upon them, by ill-minded people out of doors. Whether the writer has acquitted himself as becomes a candid and impartial vindicator, is submitted to the judgment of the publick; which is ever finally given without Favour or affection; and therefore the appeal is made to a truly respectable and solemn tribunal? At the same time that a sincere love is professed for all men, and the duty of honour and reverence towards superiors is freely acknowledged, it must be allowed that one of the best ways of fulfilling these Duties, is in a modest and humble endeavor, by calm reason and argument, to convince mankind of their mistakes when they happen to be guilty of any. The more elevated the person who errs, the stronger sometimes is the obligation to refute him; for the Errors of great men are often of very dangerous consequence to themselves, as well as to the little ones below them. However it is a very disagreable task, to engage in any kind of opposition to the least individual in Society; and much more so when the opinions of Gentlemen of the first rank and abilities, and of publick bodies of men are to be called in question.

The world ever has been and will be pretty equally divided, between those two great parties, vulgarly called the winners, and the loosers; or to speak more precisely, between those who are discontented that they have no Power, and those who never think they can have enough.

Now, it is absolutely impossible to please both sides, either by temporizing, trimming or retreating; the two former justly incur the censure of a wicked heart, the latter that of cowardice, and fairly and manfully fighting the battle out, is in the opinion of many worse than either. All further apology for this performance shall be sum’d up in the adage. Amicus Socrates, amicus Plato, sed magis Amica veritas.1

A Vindication &c.

A Quorum of the house of representatives of the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay, being met, on the 8th of Sept. ad. 1762, according to prorogation, informed his Excellency the Governour by a committee chosen Edition: current; Page: [1683] for that purpose, that they were ready to proceed to business. The committee returned that they had delivered the Message. Mr. Secretary came down soon after with a message from his Excellency, directing the attendance of the House in the council chamber. Mr. Speaker with the House immediately went up; when his Excellency was pleased to make the following Speech; of which Mr. Speaker obtained a Copy, and then with the house returned to their own Chamber.

His Excellency’s speech is as follows. Viz.

Gentlemen of the Council, and Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

I have been always desirous to make your Attendance to this General Court as unexpensive to your Constituents and as convenient to yourselves as the Nature and Incidents of the public Business will allow. But, as, whilst the War continues, this Province, however happy in the Operations being removed at a Distance, must expect to bear some Share of the Trouble and Expence of it: It will sometimes unavoidably happen that I must be obliged to call you together at an unseasonable Time.

I have now to lay before you a Requisition of His Excellency Sir Jeffery Amherst, who, observing that the great and important Services on which His Majesty’s Regular Troops are now employed, and the Uncertainty of their Return, render it absolutely necessary, that Provision should be made in Time for garrisoning the several Posts on this Continent during the Winter, desires that you would provide for continuing in Pay the same Number of Troops that remained during last Winter; that is, Six Captains, Thirteen Subalterns, and Five Hundred and Seventy Two Privates, amounting in the whole to Five Hundred and ninety one Men.

I must observe to you that the Necessity of this Request arises from the present vigorous Exertion in the West-Indies; which promises effectually to humble the Pride of our Enemies, and pave the Way to Peace. As this glorious Expedition cannot but have your entire Approbation, I doubt not but you will readily embrace this Opportunity to give a public Testimony of it.

The French Invasion of Newfoundland must give you great Concern upon Account of the National Loss which the Interruption of the Fishery there must have occasioned, although this Province will not, in its own particular, greatly suffer thereby. But I am persuaded that the Reign of the French in those Parts is by this Time near over; and I flatter myself Edition: current; Page: [1684] that this Government will have some Share in the Honour of putting an End to it.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

The great Alarm which spread itself over the Country upon the French getting Possession of a strong Post in Newfoundland, obliged me with the Advice of Council to take some cautionary Steps which have been attended with Expence. But as these Measures were advised with an apparent Expediency, and have been conducted in the most frugal Manner, I doubt not but what has been done will have your Approbation. I shall inform you of the Occasion of these Expences, and order the Accounts thereof to be laid before you.

Gentlemen of the Council, and

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

As I have called you together at this Time with Reluctance, so I shall be desirous to dismiss you, as soon as the public Business shall have had due Consideration. This, I apprehend, will take up not many Days; after which I shall be glad to restore you to your several Engagements at your own Homes with as little Loss of Time as may be.

Fra. Bernard.

This speech (with General Amherst’s Letter therein referred to) being read, the Consideration thereof was appointed for the next morning at nine of the clock.

September the 9th, the house agreable to the order of the day, entered into the Consideration of his Excellency’s speech.

In the course of the debate the following speech was made, as nearly as can be recollected by memory;

Mr. Speaker,

This Province has upon all occasions been distinguished by its loyalty and readiness to contribute its most strenuous efforts for his majesty’s service. I hope this spirit will ever remain as an indelible Characteristick of this People. Every thing valuable is now at stake. Our most Gracious Sovereign, and his royal Predecessor, of blessed memory, have for some years been engaged in a bloody and expensive, but most just and necessary War, with the powerful Enemies of their Persons, Crown Edition: current; Page: [1685] and Dignity; and consequently of all our invaluable civil and religious Rights and Priviledges. The Almighty has declared the justice of this War, by giving us the most astonishing series of Victories and Triumphs recorded in ancient or modern story. From these Successes we had reason to hope that the War would have ended last year in a glorious peace. Our King and Father has condescended to tell us that his Endeavors for that purpose were frustrated by Gallic Chicanery and Perfidy. The King of Spain has been prevailed upon to break his Neutrality, to forsake his alliance with Great Britain, to turn a deaf Ear to the Interest and Cries of his own Subjects, and to attach himself to the Party of France and of Hell. But Heaven still smiles upon his Majesty’s Arms. We have within this Hour received undoubted Intelligence of a memorable Victory obtained by Prince Ferdinand of Brunswick; and of the Reduction of the Havannah, the Key of the Spanish Treasury. Besides an immense Value in specie we have taken and destroyed one quarter of the Spanish navy. This has been done at a bad Season of the year and in Spite of as Gallant a defence as ever was made of a strong Hold. Mr. Speaker, the Fate of North America, and perhaps ultimately of Great Britain herself depends upon this War.

Our own immediate Interest therefore, as well as the general Cause of our King and Country, requires that we should contribute the last peny, and the last drop of Blood, rather than, that by any backwardness of ours, his Majesty’s Measures should be embarrassed; and thereby any of the Enterprizes, that may be planned for the Regular Troops miscarry. Some of these Considerations, I presume, induced the Assembly, upon his Majesty’s Requisition, signified last Spring by Lord Egremont so cheerfully and unanimously to raise thirty three Hundred Men for the present Campaign; and upon another Requisition, signified by Sir Jeffery Amherst, to give a handsome bounty for inlisting about nine Hundred more into the regular Service. The Colonies we know, have been often blamed without Cause; and we have had some share of it. Witness the miscarriage of the pretended Expedition against Canada in Queen Anne’s Time, just before the infamous Treaty of Utrecht. It is well known by some now living in this Metropolis, that every Article, that was to be provided here, was in such readiness, that the Officers, both of the army and navy, expressed the utmost Surprise at it upon their arrival. To some of them no doubt it was a Disappointment; for in order to shift the Blame of this shameful affair from themselves, they Edition: current; Page: [1686] endeavoured to lay it upon the New-England Colonies. I remember, that by some, who would be thought faithful Historians, the miscarriage at Augustin in the last War, has been attributed to the neglect of the Carolinians. But it is now notorious to all, that the ministry of that Day never intended that any good should come of that Enterprize; nor indeed of any other, by them set on foot, during the whole War. The Conduct of that War, so far as the ministry were concerned, has been judged to be one continued abuse upon the Sovereign and his People. Thank God, we are fallen into better Times. The King, the ministry, and the People are happily united in a vigorous pursuit of the common good. Surely then if we should discover the least remissness in his Majesty’s Service, as we should be truly blame-worthy, we may depend upon having matters represented in the strongest light against us, by those who delight to do us harm.

I am therefore clearly for raising the men, if Gen. Amherst should not inform us, by the return of the next mail, that he shall have no occasion for them. But as his Letter is dated the 4th of August, before even Moore Castle was taken, and since the Reduction of the Havannah, a number of the Regulars are returned to New-York, it is possible the General may have altered his Sentiments, as to the necessity of these Provincials.

Waiting 2 or 3 Days however can’t make any odds in this Business, as our Troops are all inlisted to the last of October. Upon the whole Mr. Speaker, I am for a Committee to take the Governor’s Speech and the present Requisition into Consideration, and make report.

This being seconded, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Otis, Mr. Tyler, General Winslow, and Mr. Witt, were appointed a Committee to take said Speech and Requisition into Consideration, and make report. The Committee waited a few Days for the Return of the Express, but hearing nothing further about the men it was taken for granted that the General expected them. The Committee therefore without debate unanimously reported to the House in favour of raising them at the bounty of Four Pounds each, that is, ten Shillings more than was given in the Spring. This Report was likewise almost unanimously accepted, and the men are now inlisting.

Here is another instance of the readiness of this Province to do every thing in their Power for his Majesty’s Service. This Spirit notwithstanding many ungenerous Suggestions to the contrary, has remarkably discovered Edition: current; Page: [1687] itself in most if not all the British Colonies during the whole War. This Province has since the year 1754, levied for his Majesty’s Service as Soldiers and Seamen, near thirty Thousand men besides what have been otherwise employed. One year in particular it was said that every fifth man was engaged in one Shape or another. We have raised Sums for the support of this War that the last Generation could hardly have formed any Idea of. We are now deeply in debt, but should think our selves amply rewarded if Canada should be retained.

The House did not enter into a particular Consideration of the latter part of the Governor’s Speech, at this Time; as it is general; and an explanatory message was expected, with particular accounts of all the expences alluded to. Accordingly Sept. the 14th Mr. Secretary came down with the following message, from his Excellency, Viz.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

Soon after the French Invasion of Newfoundland, the Inhabitants of Salem and Marblehead, who were concerned in the Fishery North-West of Nova-Scotia, were alarmed with Advice that a French Privateer was cruising in the Gut of Canso; and petitioned for protection for their Fishing Vessels then employed in those Seas.

As the King George was then out on a Cruize, and the Massachusetts-Sloop was just returned from Penobscot, I fitted the latter out in the readiest and most frugal Manner I could. I put on board her twenty-six Provincials, which I had within my Command, and augmented her Crew which was established at six Men, to twenty-four; and having compleately armed her, sent her to the Gut of Canso, to the Protection of the Fishery there.

From thence she is just now returned, after a Cruize of about a Month; in which she saw no Enemy, although she heard of a French Pirate being in those Seas, and looked after him; and has in some Part Answered her Purpose, by encouraging the Vessels there to stay to compleat their Fares.

She now waits for Orders; and before I disarm her, and reduce her Crew, it may deserve Consideration whether it may not be advisable to keep up her present Complement, ’till the King George is discharged from the Service she is now engaged in; which I refer to your Deliberation.

Fra. Bernard.
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A little paper only, accompanied this message, with a short account of the Difference to the Province by the Governor and Council’s inlarging the Establishment, which amounted to about Seventy two Pounds. But no notice was taken of the Commissary’s and other Bills which must finally swell this account much higher. However it was neither the measure, nor the expence of it, that gave the House so much uneasiness, as the manner of it; that is, the inlarging an Establishment without the knowledge of the house, and paying it without their privity or consent. The Council minute relating to this Affair stands thus.

At a General Council held at the Council Chamber in Boston upon Monday the 9th Day of August 1762.


His Excellency the Governor.

Hon. Thomas Hutchison, Esq; Lieutenant Governor. Mr. Danforth, Judge Lynde, Brigadier Royal, Capt. Erving, Brigadier Brattle, Mr. Bowdoin, Mr. Hancock, Mr. Hubbard, Mr. Gray, Mr. Russell, Mr. Flucker, Mr. Ropes.

Upon representation made to his Excellency the Governor from a Number of Persons Inhabitants of the Towns of Salem and Marblehead, for some protection to be afforded to the Fishery, they having received an account of a French Privateer in the Gut of Canso. Advised that his Excellency give orders for fitting out the Sloop-Massachusetts, in order to proceed on a cruize, to the Gut of Canso, and Bay Vert, for the protection of the Fishery and to continue her said cruise not exceeding one Month; and as his Excellency proposes to put on board twenty-six Provincials, and ten men out of the Ship King George, provided she arrives seasonably, towards manning of the said Sloop: Advised that her proper Crew be augmented to twenty-four men, officers included, upon the following Wages, viz. Captain £.5 6 8. per Month, Lieut. £.4 0 0. Master £.4 0 0. Master’s mate £.3 6 8. Boatswain £.3 6 8. Boatswain’s mate £.3 0 0. Gunner £.3 6 8. Gunner’s mate £.3 0 0. per Month, and each Private £.2 13 14. per Month; and that the Commissary General put in Provisions for said Cruize accordingly.

The Protection of the Fishery is undoubtedly a very important object and the Province at the beginning of the War built a Ship of twenty Guns, Edition: current; Page: [1689] and a Scow of sixteen Guns, for the immediate protection of the Trade. I wish the Interests of Commerce were more attended to by those who have it in their Power to cherish them. The trade in the opinion of some has never received a Benefit from those Vessels equal to the Tax Trade alone has paid for their Support. However if more are wanted, when that necessity appears, doubtless the assembly will establish more, in the mean time, no more can be lawfully established at the publick Expense. There has been an Instance or two of the Governor and Council’s taking upon them in the recess of the Court to fit out the Province Ship, in a very unusual and unconstitutional manner, as appears by the following Extracts from the Council Records.

11th of September 1760. Present in Council the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, the Honorable Jacob Wendell, Samuel Watts, Andrew Oliver, John Erving, James Bowdoin, William Brattle, Thomas Hancock, and Thomas Hubbard, Esqr’s.

His Excellency having communicated to the board some Intelligence he had received of five Privateers being cruizing off the Southern Provinces in Lat. 39. 28. and asked the advice of the Council with respect to manning the Province Ship King George. Advised that his Excellency give Orders for immediately compleating the Ship’s Complement of Men, by directing Captain Hallowell to beat up for Volunteers upon the Encouragement of eight Dollars per man for the Cruize over and above the Wages agreable to the Establishment. Advised and Consented that a Warrant be made out to the Treasurer to pay unto Captain Hollowell the Sum of One Hundred and sixty Pounds sixteen Shillings, to pay the Bounty of said Men, he to be accountable.

To the Honour of General Brattle he was single in his Opposition to this Resolution.

21st of May 1761. In Council,

Present the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, the honorable John Osborne, Jacob Wendell, Andrew Oliver, John Erving, William Brattle, Thomas Hancock, and Thomas Hubbard, Esqr’s.

Whereas Intelligence has been received of two Privateers cruizing off Block-Island which have already taken divers Vessels bound to and from Edition: current; Page: [1690] the Colonies, and the Ship King George having no more than thirty men belonging to her, Officers included, and there being no prospect of any further men inlisting upon the present Establishment, and the appropriation for the Service of said Ship being exhausted, and his Excellency having proposed to put fifty men of the new raised Troops on board said Ship to serve for one Cruize only; therefore in order to compleat the Complement of Men; advised that his Excellency give orders to Captain Hallowell to send the Ship down to Nantasket without Delay, and to impress from all inward bound Vessels, coasters and Provincial Vessels excepted; also to inlist Volunteers upon a Bounty of ten Dollars each; provided the money can be procured; and for that Purpose it is further advised that a Warrant issue upon the Treasurer for seven Hundred Dollars, to be paid out of such Sums as shall be subscribed by any Merchants or other persons, for the above services, upon the credit of a Reimbursement to be made by* the General Court at their next Session.

There had been some other Proceedings that were very much disrelished by former Houses, e.g. In three Days after the Heirs of Lieutenant Governor Phipps had received a Denial from the House to bear the Expence of his Honor’s Funeral, the Governor and Council paid it. Some other extraordinary accounts had also been allowed contrary to the known and express Sense of the House. All these matters together alarmed the present House, and they thought it high time to remonstrate. Accordingly when the Governor’s Message relating to the Sloop Massachusetts was read, (upon a motion made and seconded) it was ordered as an Instruction to the Committee to answer it, to remonstrate against the Governor and Council’s making and increasing Establishments without the Consent of the House. Tho’ no Notice is taken of this Instruction in the printed Votes of the House. The Journal stands thus, “Read and Ordered, that Mr. Otis, Mr. Tyler, Captain Cheever, Col. Clap and Mr. Witt, take said message under consideration, and report an answer thereto.”

Sept. the 15th, The committee reported the following answer and Remonstrance, Viz.

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May it please your Excellency,

The House have duly attended to your Excellency’s message of the 11th, Instant, relating to the Massachusetts Sloop, and are humbly of opinion that there is not the least necessity for keeping up her present complement of men, and therefore desires that your Excellency would be pleased to reduce them to fix, the old establishment made for said Sloop by the General Court.

Justice to our selves, and to our constituents oblige us to remonstrate against the method of making or increasing establishments by the Governor and council.

It is in effect taking from the house their most darling priviledge, the right of originating all Taxes.

It is in short annihilating one branch of the legislature. And when once the Representatives of a people give up this Priviledge, the Government will very soon become arbitrary.

No Necessity therefore can be sufficient to justify a house of Representatives in giving up such a Priviledge; for it would be of little consequence to the people whether they were subject to George or Lewis, the King of Great Britain or the French King, if both were arbitrary, as both would be if both could levy Taxes without Parliament.

Had this been the first instance of the kind, we might not have troubled your Excellency about it; but lest the matter should grow into precedent; we earnestly beseech your Excellency, as you regard the peace and welfare of the Province, that no measures of this nature be taken for the future, let the advice of the council be what it may.

Which being read, was accepted by a large majority, and soon after sent up and presented to his Excellency by Captain Goldthwait, Mr. Otis, Captain Taylor, Mr. Cushing and Mr. Bordman.

The same day the above remonstrance was delivered, the Town was alarmed with a report that the House had sent a message to his Excellency reflecting upon his Majesty’s person and government, and highly derogatory from his crown and dignity, and therein desired that his Excellency would in no case take the advice of his majesty’s council. About five of the clock P.M. the same day Mr. Speaker communicated to the house a Letter from the Governor of the following purport.

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Fra. Bernard
Bernard, Fra.

I have this morning received a message from the house, which I here inclose, in which the King’s name, dignity, and cause, are so improperly treated, that I am obliged to desire you to recommend earnestly to the house, that it may not be entered upon the Minutes in the terms it now stands. For if it should, I am satisfied that you will again and again wish some parts of it were expunged; especially if it should appear, as I doubt not but it will, when I enter upon my vindication, that there is not the least ground for the insinuation under colour of which that sacred and well-beloved name is so disrespectfully brought into Question.

September 15th. To the Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Your’s, etc.
Fra: Bernard.

Upon the reading of this letter, it was moved to insert these words, to wit, “with all due reverence to his Majesty’s sacred Person and Government, to both which we profess the sincerest attachment and loyalty be it spoken it would be of little importance,” &c. But a certain member crying “Rase them,” “Rase them,* the proposed amendment was dropped, it being obvious, that the remonstrance would be the same in effect, with or without the words excepted against. These dreadful words, under which his Excellency had placed a black mark, were accordingly erased and expunged, and the Message returned to the Speaker.

In the course of the debate a new and surprising doctrine was advanced. We have seen the times when the majority of a council by their words and actions have seemed to think themselves obliged to comply with every Thing proposed by the Chair, and to have no rule of conduct but a Governor’s will and pleasure. But now for the first time, it was asserted that the Governor in all cases was obliged to act according to the advice of the council, and consequently would be deemed to have no Judgment of his own.

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In order to excuse if not altogether justify the offensive Passage, and clear it from ambiguity, I beg leave to premise two or three data.* 1. God made all men naturally equal. 2. The ideas of earthly superiority, preheminence Edition: current; Page: [1694] grandeur are educational, at least acquired, not innate. 3. Kings were (and plantation Governor’s should be) made for the good of the people, and not Edition: current; Page: [1695] the people for them. 4. No government has a right to make hobby horses, asses and slaves of the subject, nature having made sufficient of the two former, for all the lawful purposes of man, from the harmless peasant in the field, to the most refined politician in the cabinet; but none of the last, which infallibly proves they are unnecessary. 5. Tho’ most governments are de facto2 arbitrary, and consequently the curse and scandal of human nature; yet none are de jure3 arbitrary. 6. The British constitution of government as Edition: current; Page: [1696] now established in his Majesty’s person and family, is the wisest and best in the world. 7. The King of Great-Britain is the best as well as most glorious Monarch upon the Globe, and his subjects the happiest in the universe. 8. It is most humbly presumed the King would have all his plantation Governors follow his royal Example, in a wise and strict adherence to the principles of the British constitution, by which in conjunction with his other royal virtues, he is enabled to reign in the hearts of a brave and generous, free and loyal people. 9. This is the summit, the ne plus ultra4 of human glory and felicity. 10. The French King is a despotic arbitrary prince, and consequently his subjects are very miserable.

Let us now take a more careful review of this passage, which by some out of doors has been represented as seditious, rebellious and traiterous. I hope none however will be so wanting to the interests of their country, as to represent the matter in this light on the east side of the atlantick, tho’ recent instances of such a conduct might be quoted, wherein the province has after its most strenuous efforts, during this and other wars, been painted in all the odious colours that avarice, malice and the worst passions could suggest.

The house assert, that “it would be of little consequence to the people, whether they were subject to George or Lewis, the King of Great-Britain or the French King, if both were arbitrary, as both would be, if both could levy taxes without parliament.” Or in the same words transposed without the least alteration of the sense.

“It would be of little consequence to the people whether they were subject to George the King of Great-Britain, or Lewis the French King, if both were arbitrary, as both would be, if both could levy taxes without parliament.”

The first question that would occur to a philosopher, if any question could be made about it, would be whether the position were true. But truth being of little importance with most modern politicians, we shall touch lightly upon that topic, and proceed to inquiries of a more interesting nature.

That arbitrary government implies the worst of temporal evils, or at least the continual danger of them is certain. That a man would be pretty equally subjected to these evils under every arbitrary government, is clear. That I should die very soon after my head should be cut off, whether by a sabre or a broad sword, whether chopped off to gratify a tyrant by the christian name of Tom, Dick or Harry is evident. That the name of the tyrant would be of Edition: current; Page: [1697] no more avail to save my life than the name of the executioner, needs no Proof. It is therefore manifestly of no importance what a prince’s christian name is, if he be arbitrary, any more, indeed, than if he were not arbitrary. So the whole amount of this dangerous proposition may at least in one view be reduced to this, viz. It is of little importance what a King’s christian name is. It is indeed of importance that a King, a Governor, and all other good christians should have a christian name, but whether Edward, Francis or William, is of none, that I can discern. It being a rule to put the most mild and favourable construction upon words that they can possibly bear, it will follow that this proposition is a very harmless one, that cannot by any means tend to prejudice his Majesty’s Person, Crown, Dignity or Cause, all which I deem equally sacred with his Excellency.

If this proposition will bear an hundred different constructions, they must all be admitted before any that imports any bad meaning, much more a treasonable one.

It is conceived the house intended nothing disrespectful of His Majesty, his Government or Governor, in those words. It would be very injurious to insinuate this of a house that upon all occasions has distinguished itself by a truly loyal spirit, and which spirit possesses at least nine hundred and ninety-nine in a thousand of their constituents throughout the province. One good natured construction at least seems to be implied in the assertion, and that pretty strongly, viz. that in the present situation of Great Britain and France, it is of vast importance to be a Briton, rather than a Frenchman; as the French King is an arbitrary despotic Prince; but the King of Great Britain is not so de jure, de facto, nor by inclination; a greater difference on this side the Grave cannot be found, than that which subsists between British subjects, and the slaves of tyranny.

Perhaps it may be objected that there is some difference even between arbitrary Princes in this respect at least, that some are more rigorous than others. It is granted, but then let it be remembered, that the life of man is as a vapour that soon vanisheth away, and we know not who may come after him, a wise man or a fool; tho’ the chances before and since Solomon, have ever been in favour of the latter. Therefore it is said of little consequence. Had it been No instead of little, the clause upon the most rigid stricture might have been found barely exceptionable.

Some fine Gentlemen have charged the expression as indelicate. This is a capital impeachment in politicks, and therefore demands our most serious Edition: current; Page: [1698] attention. The idea of delicacy in the creed of some politicians, implies that an inferior should at the peril of all that is near and dear to him (i.e. his interest) avoid every the least trifle that can offend his superior. Does my superior want my estate? I must give it him, and that with a good grace, which is appearing, and if possible being really obliged to him that he will condesend to take it. The reason is evident; it might give him some little pain or uneasiness to see me whimpering, much more openly complaining at the loss of a little glittering dirt. I must according to this system not only endeavour to acquire my self, but impress upon all around me a reverence and passive obedience to the sentiments of my superior, little short of adoration. Is the superior in contemplation a king, I must consider him as God’s vicegerent, cloathed with unlimited power, his will the supreme law, and not accountable for his actions, let them be what they may, to any tribunal upon earth. Is the superior a plantation governor? he must be viewed not only as the most excellent representation of majesty, but as a viceroy in his department, and quoad provincial administration, to all intents and purposes vested with all the prerogatives that were ever exercised by the most absolute prince in Great Britain.

The votaries of this sect are all Monopolizers of offices, Peculators, Informers, and generally the Seekers of all kinds. It is better, say they, to give up any thing, and every thing quietly, than contend with a superior, who by his prerogative can do, and (as the vulgar express it) right or wrong, will have whatever he pleases. For you must know, that according to some of the most refined and fashionable systems of modern politics, the ideas of right and wrong, and all the moral virtues, are to be considered only as the vagaries of a weak or distempered imagination in the possessor, and of no use in the world, but for the skilful politician to convert to his own purposes of power and profit.

With these,

  • The Love of Country is an empty Name,
  • For Gold they hunger: but n’er thirst for Fame.

It is well known that the least “patriotic spark” unawares “catched,” and discovered, disqualifies a candidate from all further preferment in this famous and flourishing order of knights errant. It must however be confessed they are so catholic as to admit all sorts from the knights of the post to a garter and Star; provided they are thoroughly divested of the fear of Edition: current; Page: [1699] God, and the love of mankind; and have concentrated all their views in dear self, with them the only “sacred and well-beloved name,” or thing in the universe. See Cardinal Richlieu’s Political Testament, and the greater Bible of the Sect, Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees. Richlieu expresly in solemn earnest, without any sarcasm or irony, advises the discarding all honest men from the presence of a prince, and from even the purlieus of a court. According to Mandeville, “The moral virtues are the political offspring which flattery begot upon pride.” The most darling principle of the great Apostle of the order, who has done more than any mortal towards diffusing corruption, not only thro’ the three kingdoms, but thro’ the remotest dominions, is, “that every man has his price, and that if you bid high enough, you are sure of him.”

To those who have been taught to bow at the name of a King, with as much ardor and devotion as a papist at the sight of a crucifix, the assertion under examination may appear harsh; but there is an immense difference between the sentiments of a British house of commons remonstrating, and those of a courtier cringing for a favour. A house of Representatives here at least, bears an equal proportion to a Governor, with that of a house of Commons to the King. There is indeed one difference in favour of a house of Representatives; when a house of Commons address the King, they speak to their Sovereign, who is truly the most august Personage upon earth: When a house of Representatives remonstrate to a Governor they speak to a fellow subject; tho’ a superior, who is undoubtedly intitled to decency and respect; but I hardly think to quite so much Reverence as his master.

It may not be amiss to observe, that a form of speech may be, in no sort improper, when used arguendo,5 or for illustration, speaking of the King, which same form might be very harsh, indecent and even ridiculous, if spoken to the King.

The expression under censure has had the approbation of divers Gentlemen of sense, who are quite unprejudiced by any party. They have taken it to imply a compliment rather than any indecent reflection, upon his Majesty’s wise and gracious administration. It seems strange therefore that the house should be so suddenly charged by his Excellency with Impropriety, groundless Insinuations, &c.

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What cause of so bitter Repentance, again and again, could possibly have taken place, if this clause had been printed in the Journal, I can’t imagine. If the case be fairly represented, I guess the province can be in no danger from a house of Representatives daring to speak plain English, when they are complaining of a grievance. I sincerely believe the house had no disposition to enter into any contest with the Governor or Council. Sure I am that the promoters of this address had no such view. On the contrary, there is the highest reason to presume that the house of Representatives will at all times rejoice in the prosperity of the Governor and Council, and contribute their utmost assistance, in supporting those two branches of the legislature, in all their just rights and preheminence. But the house is and ought to be jealous and tenacious of its own priviledges; these are a sacred deposit intrusted by the people, and the jealousy of them is a godly jealousy.

But to proceed with our narration; on Saturday about a quarter before one of the Clock, Mr. Secretary came down with his Excellency’s vindication, which is as follows.

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

I have received an Answer from you to a Message of mine; informing you of my having upon a sudden Apprehension of Danger, fitted out the Province Sloop to protect a considerable and very interesting Fishery, belonging to this Province: Upon which Occasion you are pleased to observe, that the Method of doing this, which you call making or increasing Establishments is taking from the House the Right of originating Taxes, annihilating one Branch of the Legislature, and tending to make the Government arbitrary.

These are hard Words: and the Consciousness of my own Integrity will not permit me to submit in Silence to such Imputations. I know what the Priviledges of the People are, and their Nature and Bounds: and I can truly say that it has never been in my Thoughts to make the least Invasion of them. If therefore you think proper to send such a Charge as this to the Press; I must desire that my Vindication may accompany it.

In Order to which I shall first consider what the legal and constitutional Powers of the Governor and Council are, then state the Fact in Question, and by Application of the one to the other, see whether the Conclusions before-mentioned will follow. In this Disquisition I shall not inquire whether any Necessity can be sufficient to justify a House of Representatives in giving up the Priviledge of originating Taxes; as I do not believe that such a Cession was ever desired by any Person concerned in the Edition: current; Page: [1701] Government, or that any Governor and Council since the Revolution attempted or ever will attempt to tax the People.

The Business of originating the Taxes most certainly belongs to the Representatives of the People, and the Business of issuing Money out of the Treasury, as certainly belongs to the Governor with the Advice of the Council. In general all Votes and Orders for the Charge of the Government originate in the House of Representatives, and the Money for defreying such Charges is issued by Warrant of the Governor with the Advice of Council, without any further Reference to the House of Representatives.

But as it is impossible that the General Court should provide for every Contingency that may happen unless they were continually sitting; there will sometimes be Cases in which the Governor, with the Council, is to be justified in issuing Money for Services not expresly provided for by the General Court: Of these there are two very obvious.

The one is, where a Danger arises so immediate and imminent that there is no Time for calling together the Assembly. In this I apprehend there is no other Limitation of Expense, but in Proportion to the Evil impending: For the Safety of the People being the supreme Law, should at all Events be provided for.

The other is, where the Expence of some necessary Service is so inconsiderable, as to be not worth the while to put the Province to the Charge of the Assembly’s meeting for that Purpose only, at an Expence perhaps ten or twenty Times more than the Sum in Question.

This I take to be the Law and Usage of every Royal Government on the Continent. In that over which I formerly presided, where the people were very averse to frequent or long Sessions of the Assembly, I have upon an Emergency, with Advice of the Council only, raised Three Hundred Men at a Time, and marched them to the Defence of the Frontiers; and when the Assembly has met, have received their Thanks for so doing.

Now let me state the Case in Question. Most of the principal Merchants in Salem and Marblehead, who were considerably interested in a Fishery near the Gut of Canso, in which I am told upwards of One Hundred Vessels from this Province were employed, received Advice that there was a French Privateer or Pirate cruizing in those Parts. It has appeared since, that this Alarm was not peculiar to this Province: It reached Quebec, from whence an armed Schooner was fitted out to Edition: current; Page: [1702] look after this Frenchman. It reached New-York, from whence General Amherst advised me of this French Vessel. These Merchants therefore applying by their Deputies to me for an immediate Protection of their Fishery, I laid the Matter before the Council, and it happening that the Province Sloop was just returned from Penobscot, it was advised by the Council, that she should be immediately fitted out to go to the Protection of this Fishery: this was done in the most frugal Manner possible; out of the Fifty Men put on board the Sloop, only twenty-four were charged to the Province, the rest were drawn out of the Provincials employed at Castle-William, and in the recruiting Service; the Ammunition and Military Stores were taken from the Castle, to which they have been restored without Loss or Expense; the Men were engaged only for one Month, after which they were not to be continued without the Advice of the General Court. This is the true State of this Transaction; and surely I may say it deserved a very different Animadversion than what it has had.

Now to apply it to the Censure it has met with: This was an Act which the Governor with the Council had a Right to do; it was a legal and constitutional Exercise of the Powers vested in them; it was an Exertion of the Executive Power of the Government, distinct from that of the Legislature. If it was wrong and ill advised (which I don’t mean to admit) it could amount to no more than an improper Application of the public Money, by those who have lawful Authority to apply such Money to the public Purposes. When this Distinction is considered; how can this Act, whether right or wrong, be applied to the Right of originating Taxes, annihilating one Branch of the Legislature and making the Government arbitrary?

As for the discretionary Part of the Act, after I have had the Advice of the Council, and the Approbation of my own Judgment and Conscience, I shall not enter into any further Argument about it, than just to observe; That if the Governor and Council legally acting in the Executive Administration, and determining to the best of their Judgment and Skill, with a conscientious Regard to the Good of the People, shall be liable to be called to account for Difference of Opinion only, the Government will be very much weakened. But I shall persuade myself that a steady Attention to the Peace and Welfare of the Province, which you recommend to Me, will always sufficiently justify my Conduct: and in that Confidence I hope I shall never fail to exert the Powers which have been committed to Edition: current; Page: [1703] Me for the Defence and Protection of the People of this Province, by all lawful and constitutional Means.

Fra. Bernard.

This being read, the Secretary instantly informed the Speaker, that his Excellency directed the attendance of the house in the council chamber.

The two houses had finished the publick business; and before this the house of Representatives had by a committee asked a recess, so it was presumed the house was sent for to be prorogued, as it turned out. The Speaker rose to go up to the council, without desiring the house to attend him, the usual and regular form, which it is presumed was forgot. But it was moved that his Excellency’s vindication, according to his desire, should be printed in the Journal. This motion was seconded, and passed in the affirmative by a great majority. Then a motion was made and seconded, for a committee to prepare a Reply to this vindication in the recess of the court, and to make report at the next session; this also passed in the affirmative by a considerable majority, and Mr. Speaker, Mr. Otis, and Mr. Tyler, were chosen a committee for said purpose. Then the House immediately attended his Excellency in the Council-Chamber. When his Excellency, after giving his assent to two or three bills, prorogued the court.

It was wished, at least by the moderate part of the house, that his Excellency had thought fit so far to give up the point, as to wave any contest about it, by assuring the house, that if his right was ever so clear, he would not exercise it, if grievous to the people. A like condescension crowned heads have practised, and found their account in it; as I am persuaded his Excellency would, if the unanimous vote of thanks from the whole representative body of this people is worth any thing. This I guess he would have had: And as it is a maxim that the King can do no wrong, but that whatever is amiss is owing intirely to those about him; so, with regard to his Excellency, we ought to presume the best; and that it is to be charged to the account of some weak or wicked advisers, that this business did not end happily. However, the matter is now become very serious, by his Excellency’s vindication; which we shall next consider.

The Charter of the province of the Massachusetts-Bay, has invested the Governor and Council with power to issue (without the concurrence of the House, as it is now construed, or rather as the genuine sense of the Edition: current; Page: [1704] Charter has been waved by former Houses) the monies out of the treasury. But the Question is, Whether this power be limited? If it is unlimited, the priviledge of levying taxes by originating them in the House of Representatives, is of little value. What Representative would plume himself upon the priviledge of originating taxes, if the money could be squandered away at pleasure; which in other words may happen hereafter to be just as the tools and sycophants of power shall advise. This power therefore, in the nature and reason of the thing, should seem to be limited by some usage or custom, if not by something more explicit. The words of the Charter are,

And we do for us, our heirs and successors, give and grant, that the said General Court or Assembly, shall have full power and authority to name and settle annually, all civil officers within the said province, for the time being; and to set forth the several duties, powers and limits of every such officer to be appointed by the said general court or assembly; and the forms of such oaths, not repugnant to the laws and statutes of this our realm of England, as shall be respectively administered unto them, for the execution of their several offices and places; and also to impose fines, mulcts, imprisonments, and other punishments; and to impose and levy proportionable and reasonable assessments rates and taxes, upon the estates and persons of all and every the proprietors or inhabitants of our said province or territory, to be issued and disposed of by warrant, under the hand of the Governor of our said province, for the time being, with the advice and consent of the Council, for our service, in the necessary Defence and support of our government of our said province or territory, and the protection and preservation of the inhabitants there, according to such acts as are or shall be in force within our said province.

Here seems to be an express limitation of the power. Nothing is left to usage or custom, much less to discretion. It is manifest from the Charter, that the Acts of the province are the only legal and constitutional justification to the Governor and Council, in issuing any money out of the treasury: “According to such Acts as are or shall be in force within our said Province,” are certainly no unmeaning words.

It is clear from hence, that without the aid of an Act of the province, the Governor and Council cannot legally take a shilling out of the treasury, let the emergency be what it may. It is agreed with his Excellency, that in issuing Edition: current; Page: [1705] Money from the treasury, as the charter has of late years been construed the Governor and Council are meer executive officers. They are controllers-general of the Treasury, i.e. the treasurer cannot pay without their warrant; but then they are as much bound by the acts of the province, as the treasurer himself. He, the Treasurer, indeed may be called to an account, but they can’t, being in other respects two branches of the Legislature. The only remedy therefore is a remonstrance, and when that proves ineffectual, the house may and ought to refuse to supply the Treasury, and stop a few Grants and Salaries; which would soon bring matters right without any dangerous shock to Government, or weakening thereof; but what the whole world must impute to a Governor and Council, that would oblige a House to have recourse to the last resort, but one; I mean as we are a dependent Government, a dutiful and humble remonstrance to his Majesty.

The Parliament of Great-Britain have as the last resort, been known to appeal to Heaven, and the longest sword; but God forbid that there ever should be occasion for any thing of that kind again; indeed there is not the least danger of it since the glorious revolution, and the happy establishment resulting therefrom. It was formerly the custom for the Speaker of the house to sign all warrants upon the treasury, but this was at last either tamely given up, or at least waved.

It may be objected, that tho’ our supply bills appropriate by far the greatest part of the sums raised, yet something is always expresly left for contingencies, and the Governor and Council may and must in the nature of the thing apply this at discretion. I answer, 1. Even this is issued by force of an act, and not by virtue of any general power in the Governor and Council, independent of the act. 2. Neither custom nor usage suppose that this sum appropriated for contingencies could be applied to the fitting out of men of war, and making establishments for them; for armed vessels is one express appropriation in our acts, which shews that this is not considered as a contingency, and that the assembly do not expect any further charge for this article, than they have appropriated.*

3. All our Governors and Councils have not always confined themselves to the appropriation for contingencies, but some have drawn for what they deem’d contingencies when they have known the appropriation to be Edition: current; Page: [1706] expended, and in short have not confined themselves to any appropriation in payment; whatever they may have done in the form of their warrants. 4. If the Governor and Council can fit out one man of war, inlist men, grant a bounty and make establishments, why not for a navy, if to them it shall seem necessary, and they can make themselves the sole judges of this necessity. The rumour in the case of the Massachusetts was that fourteen privateers instead of one pyrate were cruizing off Canso. What could this one poor sloop have done against such odds? Salus populi est suprema Lex.6 Why then did not the Governor and Council fit out fourteen men of war, or at least enough to take fourteen privateers? It has been said that there were no privateers among the fishermen, but that when they discovered the sloop, she was taken for one, and that many of the fishermen ran home in a fright, and lost their fares. How true this is I can’t say, but have heard it reported, and believe there is at least as much ground for it as there was to believe the story of fourteen privateers. The Governor and Council doubtless meant well as to the protection of the fishery, and had there been no unjustifiable extension of their power, every one would have thankfully acquiesced. The money for fitting out this sloop might have been raised by the Governor and Council’s promise to recommend a reimbursement to the assembly. They might perhaps have borrowed it of the Treasurer upon the same terms, and the priviledges of the House thereby would have been preserved. It would be a very easy thing to raise twenty times the sum wanted to fit out this sloop upon the credit of a like recommendation. This method was taken in fitting out the King George in 1761, as appears by the vote of Council, and the Governor’s message afterwards to the house of Representatives, and their vote thereupon, which last are as follows,

Gentlemen of the House of Representatives,

The provision made the last session for manning the King George was soon found insufficient for the purpose, and after bearing up for a month the crew amounted to but thirty men. In this condition the ship remained, when I received advice that there were two French privateers on the coast and that there were several more to be expected: I immediately called a Council; at which attended a committee of the merchants. The council were of opinion, that the ship should be immediately fitted out: and in order to do it with more expedition, I Edition: current; Page: [1707] offered that if the crew could be quickly compleated to an hundred men, I would put fifty provincials on board for a short cruize. It was therefore “advised to raise seventy men, and to give ten Dollars bounty: But there was no fund in the Treasury to resort to for this purpose. It was therefore concluded to order the Treasurer to borrow seven hundred Dollars of the merchants on the credit of the province, (not on the credit of a recommendation, as it should have been and perhaps was meant) which was accordingly done; and I must desire you would take care for the repayment thereof.

The House, after long debate, and divers referrences, on the second of June, voted, “that the province treasurer be directed to repay the seven hundred Dollars borrowed of the merchants on the credit of the province for bounty, in order to man the ship King George.”

I want to know why the same method of raising the money might not have been taken the first time of fitting out the ship King George, and in fitting out the sloop Massachusetts.

However, even this method of supplying the treasury by the Governor and Council’s ordering subscriptions upon the credit of the province (by which it is presumed a recommendation to the assembly is meant) is by no means a justifiable practice.

The Governor and Council have naturally a great influence in all Houses of Representatives, and when the money is once taken up and applied, it would seem hard to make the subscribers lose it; and so in time it would come to be a thing of course, for the House to reimburse all expences the Governor and Council should be pleased to create in the recess of the assembly; and after a course of tame acquiescence in such a practice, the House would become as some desire to have it, a very insignificant, unimportant part of the constitution.

It is therefore the indispensible duty of the House of Representatives, to be very cautious how they allow or approve of any expences incurred even in this way.

His Excellency is pleased to wave any inquiry “whether any necessity can be sufficient to justify a House of Representatives in giving up the privilege of originating taxes?” for this reason only expressed; viz. “I don’t believe (says his Excellency) that such a cession was ever desired by any Person concerned in the government, or that any Governor and Council since the Edition: current; Page: [1708] revolution, attempted or ever will attempt to tax the people.” I wish I could exercise as much charity towards former Governors and Councils, as for his Excellency and the present honourable Council; but I can’t. I am verily persuaded, that we have had some Governors and some Councellors, since the revolution, that would gladly have been as absolute as Turkish Bashaws; and that the whole tenor of their actions has given convincing proof of such a disposition.

A tax upon the people in form, by issuing a tax bill, and ordering an assessment, I believe has not been attempted by a Governor and Council since the revolution. This would be too alarming. The vulgar are apt to be forcibly affected with names and appearances, rather than by realities. If the money can be drawn out of the treasury without any regard to the appropriations, made by the acts of the province; and the House whenever called upon, will without murmuring supply the treasury again; they serve the purpose of a very convenient machine to quiet the people; and the money flows in with greater ease and plenty than if the Governor and Council were, ad libitum,7 to collect and dissipate the public treasure.

It is observable, that in France and other despotic governments, ’tis often with great difficulty, and sometimes with hazard, that the revenue is collected. Had Richlieu and Mazarine convinced the parliaments that it was a great priviledge to be allowed to vote as much money as was called for, and for any purpose the court might want it, the government would have had the appearance of liberty under a tyranny; which to those ministers would have been a vast ease and security. But those great politicians either never thought of this refinement, or, the parliaments were too stupid to be convinced, of the utility of such a plan.

His Excellency proceeds, “The business of originating the taxes most certainly belongs to the Representatives of the people; and the business of issuing money out of the treasury, as certainly belongs to the Governor and Council.” To say nothing of the doubt that might justly be made, whether a non-claim, waver, or even an express concession by any former house, of the priviledge of joining in a warrant, for issuing the money, can be binding upon their Successors? Would not a stranger to our constitution be lead to think, from this general assertion of the Governor, that he with the Council, could issue money without regard to the acts of the province, and Edition: current; Page: [1709] the appropriations thereby made; and that the house indeed, had no right to appropriate, but only to lay the burden of taxes on the people? Especially when his Excellency in the next period says, that “in general, all votes and orders (and acts might have been added) for the charge of the governments, originate in the House of Representatives; and the money for defreying such charge, is issued by the Governor, with the advice of the council, without any further reference to the house of Representatives.”

That this is true in fact, to wit, that after the money is raised, his Excellency and their Honors have no further reference to, or regard for the house, is possible. But that they have had some regard to appearances is certain from the form of their warrants.

Province of the Massachusetts-Bay.

By his Excellency the Governor.

You are, by and with the Advice and Consent of his Majesty’s Council, ordered and directed to pay unto A. B. the sum of

Which sum is to be paid out of the appropriation for

For which this shall be your warrant.

Given under my Hand at Boston, the {blank} Day of 176{blank}, in the {blank} Year of His Majesty’s Reign.

F. B.

To Mr. Treasurer.

By Order of the Governor, with the Advice and Consent of the Council.

A. O. Secr’y.

Now, if after the house have supplied the treasury, the Governor and Council have a right to issue the money without further regard to the house of Representatives; why are the words Out of the appropriation for, &c. inserted, but to salve appearances? Otherwise it might run thus, “Out of the public money in the treasury.” “But as it is impossible, (says his Excellency,) that the General Court should provide for every contingency that may happen unless they were continually sitting; there will sometimes be cases in which the Governor & Council is to be justified in issuing money for services not expresly provided for by the General Court; of these there are two very obvious.” “The one is, when a danger arises so immediate and imminent, that there is no Time for calling together the assembly. In this I apprehend there is no other limitation of expence, but in proportion to the evil impending. For the safety of the people being the supreme law, should at all Edition: current; Page: [1710] events be provided for. The other is, where the expence of some necessary service is so inconsiderable, as to be not worth the while to put the province to the charge of the Assembly’s meeting for that purpose only, at an expence perhaps of ten or twenty times more than the sum in question.” Frequent and long sessions I know are burdensome to the people, and many think they had better give up every thing, than not have short sessions. But let these consider that it is a very poor bargain, that for the sake of avoiding a session extraordinary, sacrifices the right of being taxed by their Representatives; and risques ten or twenty times the sum in the end, to be levied by a Governor and Council. I know too, that some gentlemen in order to lessen the weight of a House of Representatives, are constantly exclaiming against long and frequent sessions; the people are gulled with the bait, and the house when they meet, are often in want of time to compleat the public business, in the manner that they would wish, and the nature of some affairs requires. What is the consequence? Why, it is become a very fashionable doctrine with some, that in the recess of the court, the Governor and Council are vested with all the powers of the General Assembly. It is costly and unpopular to have frequent and long sessions; therefore they shall be few, short and hurried; and in the mean time, the Governor and Council shall have a right to do what they judge “the supreme law,” the good of the common-wealth, requires, and no limitation or bounds are to be set to the money they expend, but their sovereign judgment of the quantum of the impending evil; for, “the safety of the people being the supreme law, should at all events, and by all means (but that of calling an assembly together) be provided for.” This is a short method to put it in the power of the Governor and Council, to do as they please with the men and money of the province; and those Governor’s who can do as they please with the men and money of a country, seem to me to be, (or at least are in a pretty fair way soon to be) arbitrary; which in plain English means no more than do as one pleases. As to those inconsiderable services, not worth while to put the province to the charge of an assembly; it seems to be of no great importance whether they are performed or not. 2. There is always an appropriation for contingencies, great and small. If this sum should be exhausted, sufficient might always be procured upon the credit of a recommendation from the Governor and Council, for a reimbursement. 3. Any particular service had better suffer, and the province suffer, that way, than lose such a priviledge as that of taxing Edition: current; Page: [1711] themselves; upon which single priviledge evidently depends all others, Civil and Religious.

His Excellency tells us of “the law and usage of every royal government upon the continent;” and that, “in that over which he presided formerly, he had upon an emergency, with the advice of the Council only, raised three hundred men at a time, and marched them to the defence of the frontiers, and when the assembly has met has received their thanks for so doing.”

Whether the assembly of this province equal the assembly of New-Jersey, in gratitude or any other virtue, I shall not presume to determine. But this I am sure of, that this province has been more liberal in their grants to his Excellency, than to any of his predecessors. Instead of any debate about his salary, three grants have been made in less than two years, amounting to near three thousand pounds sterling in the whole, besides the very valuable island of Mount Desart which the province thought they had a right to grant subject to his Majesty’s confirmation; and which his Excellency will have confirmed to him. All this with the ordinary perquisites, besides the full third of all seizures, must amount to a very handsome fortune, obtained in about two years and two months. His Excellency has not been pleased to tell us, whether the assembly paid the expence of this extraordinary march, or whether the Governor and Council ordered it to be paid? Now if the assembly paid it, as they doubtless ought, after thanking his Excellency, and thereby admitting the utility of the measure, their priviledge was saved. But if the Governor and Council paid it out of the treasury, and the House acquiesced in the infringement of their priviledge, it cannot be produced as a precedent for us, let it be ever so royal a government. His Excellency has a right to transport any of the militia of this province to any part of it, by sea or land, for the necessary defence of the same; and to build and demolish forts and castles, and with the advice of the council in times of war, to exercise martial law upon the militia, but then it is with the House to pay the expence, or refuse it as they please. No man by charter can be sent out of the province but by an act of the three branches of the legislature. The King himself applies to parliament to support his army and navy, and it is their duty to do it, and they ever have and will do it; and the supplies for these ever originate in, and are appropriated by the House of Commons; in whose money bills the House of Lords won’t presume to Edition: current; Page: [1712] make any amendment; consent or reject in the whole is all the power they exercise in this particular.

His Excellency next proceeds to state “the case in question,” by which I suppose is meant the facts relative to fitting out the sloop Massachusetts. The facts mentioned, I take it for granted are in the main true, but the most material one seems to be omitted, namely, that the Governor and Council made an establishment; in consequence of which the expense of this fitting out, or a great part at least has been paid out of the Treasury, by warrant from the Governor and Council. There is also a small mistake in his Excellency’s saying the sloop was then returned. She was expected, but her return was uncertain. Had the sloop been sent and the pay or reimbursement referred to the House, there might have been no complaint as to this particular step. But the main question is not as to the right of sending the sloop, but of making, or increasing her establishment, and paying it out of the publick monies without the consent of the House; not only in this, but in a number of late similar instances, that have induced the House to question the right of the Governor and Council to draw monies out of the treasury in this way. Or more properly, as it results from the remonstrance of the House, and his Excellency’s vindication: The question is in effect, whether the House have a right to appropriate the money they agree to levy upon their constituents?

It being pretty evident I hope by this time, that if the Governor and Council can issue what they please, and for what they please, that the House has no right to appropriate; and it is as clear that if the right of appropriation is of any avail or significancy, the Governor and Council cannot issue the monies from the treasury for what they please; but are bound and limitted by the appropriations and establishments made by the acts of the province, to which by the way they are two parties of three in the making.

His Excellency having given us his state of the case in question, proceeds “to apply it to the censure it has met with” as his Excellency is pleased to express it. By which I presume his Excellency means the application he had promised in the beginning of his vindication. “I shall consider, says his Excellency, what the legal and constitutional powers of the Governor and Council are; then state the fact in question, and by the application of the one to the other, see whether the conclusion before mentioned will follow.”

Here again there seems to be some little obscurity, by reason of these words, “fact in question”; there being no question about the facts, but about Edition: current; Page: [1713] the right, not so much about the right of fitting out the vessel, as the Governor and Council’s right to pay for it out of the treasury, without the consent of the House. What question can there be about facts? There is no doubt but that the vessel was sent, and that in consequence of an application from Salem and Marblehead gentlemen.

I therefore presume to read the second paragraph of his Excellency’s vindication according to the sense and spirit, (tho’ not strictly agreable to the letter.) thus, “In order to my vindication (dele to which) I shall 1. Consider what the legal and constitutional powers of the Governor and Council are. 2. State the facts. 3. By application of the legal and constitutional powers of the Governor and Council to the fact, see whether the conclusions before mentioned will follow.” According to this division, which in the spirit, tho’ not in the letter, is a very good one; his Excellency has given us his sense of the legal and constitutional powers of the Governor and Council. His Excellency is undoubtedly as well acquainted with the nature of these powers, as “what the priviledges of the people are, their bounds and their nature.” I presume his Excellency also has the same thorough knowledge of “what the priviledges of the House of Representatives are, their nature and their bounds;” which last are more immediately the subject of inquiry, than those of the people. Tho’ it is true, that the priviledges of the House are the great barrier to the priviledges of the people, and whenever those are broken down the people’s liberties will fall an easy prey.

His Excellency having finished his state of facts, proceeds according to the method premised to the third and last head of discourse, which is, with his Excellency the application; not “of the case in question, to the censure it has met with,” tho’ the latter words seem to import this; but of the legal and constitutional powers of the Governor and Council, to the facts, in order to make his conclusions. This is evidently his Excellency’s meaning. The application is mental. The conclusions are expressed. The first his excellency is pleased to make is in these words. “This was an act which the Governor with the Council had a right to do.” I am no great admirer of the syllogistic form of reasoning, and this dress is very uncourtly, yet all conclusive reasoning will bear the test of the schools. Let us try an experiment. His Excellency’s whole vindication may nearly in his own words be reduced to this categoric syllogism. “All the money for defreying the charges of the government is issued by warrant of the Governor with the advice of Council, without any further reference to the house of Representatives.”

Edition: current; Page: [1714]

The principal merchants in Salem and Marblehead were frightened with a rumour of a privateer; upon their application the Governor and Council took the alarm, fitted out an armed vessel, and by their warrant defreyed the charge out of the treasury without any reference at all to the House of Representatives.


1. “This was an act which the Governor with the Council had a right to do.” No man in his senses to be sure can deny the major proposition, for the word is plainly implies a right; according to Mr. Pope and other great authorities, “whatever is is right.” The minor is a bare recital of notorious facts; therefore the way is clear to follow his Excellency in the rest of his inferences. 2. Inference. “It was a legal and constitutional exercise of the powers vested in them.” 3. “It was an exertion of the executive power, distinct from that of the legislative.” 4. If it was wrong, &c.

His Excellency then proceeds to ask the House a very important question. But before we consider what answer may be given to that question, and probably would have been given, had there been time before the court was prorogued; I beg leave to make a few observations upon his Excellency’s three last inferences. I have carefully examined the Charter, and the laws of this province, and think I may challenge any man to show any thing in either, that gives the least colour of right to the Governor and Council, to fit out an armed vessel to cruize upon the high seas, at the expence of the province, or to grant a bounty for inlisting the seamen, or to impress them when they won’t inlist fast enough, as in the case of the ship King George, or to make an establishment for the officers and seamens wages, much less to issue the money from the treasury for defreying these charges by warrant of the Governor and Council, without any reference to the House of Representatives, who must upon supposition of such powers be strangers, total strangers to the expense thus brought upon the province.

But we are told that “this is an exertion of the executive power of the government, distinct from the legislative.”

I am as much for keeping up the distinction between the executive and legislative powers as possible. Happy, very happy, would it be for this poor province, if this distinction was more attended to than it ever has been. I am heartily rejoiced however, that his Excellency seems here to discountenance and explode the doctrine that some among us have taken great pains to inculcate, viz. that in the recess of the general assembly the whole power Edition: current; Page: [1715] of the three branches devolves upon the Governor and Council. If I may compare small things with great, without offence, this doctrine is as absurd as if a man should assert that in the recess of parliament, the whole power of parliament is devolved upon the King and the House of Lords. Had such a doctrine always prevailed in England, we should have heard nothing of the oppressions and misfortunes of the Charles’s and James’s; The revolution would never have taken place; the genius of William the third would have languished in the fens of Holland, or evaporated in the plains of Flanders; the names of three George’s would doubtless have been immortal; but Great-Britain to this day might have been in chains and darkness, unblessed with their influence. I take it for granted therefore, his Excellency must mean by “power of the government,” not the power of the whole province in great and general court assembled, but only the executive power of the Governor and Council, distinct from the legislative, as just explained by him. Names are sometimes confounded with things by the wisest of men. It is however of little importance what the power is called, if the exercise of it be lawful. If the power of taxing is peculiar to the general assembly, if the charter has confined it to the general assembly, as I think it evidently does, and this act of the Governor and Council is a tax upon every inhabitant, as it clearly is, being paid out of money raised by their representatives upon them for other purposes, which must remain unsatisfied; and so much more must be raised upon them as is thus taken away: It follows that as all taxation ought to originate in the House; this act of the Governor and Council is so far from being an executive act peculiar to them, that it is evidently taking upon them in their executive capacity, or what other name else, you are pleased to give it, a power not only confined by the charter, law and constitution of the province, to the general assembly or legislative body of the province, but so far confined to one branch of that body, that it can lawfully and constitutionally originate only in the House.

If therefore this act was wrong and ill-advised, which I think has been abundantly proved, whether his Excellency will be pleased to admit it or not; it could “amount to more than an improper application of the publick money by those who have lawful authority to apply such money to the publick purposes.” It is granted, should the treasurer without warrant do such an act, it would be no more than an improper application of the public money by one who has lawful authority to apply such money to the publick purposes, by warrant from the Governor and Council. Should the treasurer Edition: current; Page: [1716] act without such warrant, he would be accountable. But when he has the Governor and Council’s warrant, that perhaps will justify, or at least, ought to excuse him, be the warrant right or wrong; because it would be hard to make him answerable for the conduct of his superiors, and to expect him to set himself up as a judge against the Governor and Council, one of which joins in his choice, and the other has an absolute negative upon him. But upon supposition the Governor and Council act wrong, and misapply the monies of the province, which his Excellency seems to concede, is at least a possible case. What is to be done? I agree with his Excellency that they are not liable to be called to an account, and it would be a ridiculous vanity and presumption in the House to think of any such thing. We have no body to institute a suit against the Governor and Council; no court to try such a suit; all that would be left therefore in so unhappy a case (if the priviledge of the House of joining in all issues from the treasury has been given up by former assemblies, and that is binding upon their successors, “which I don’t mean to admit”) is to remonstrate. This method the House have taken in the present case, rather than at this juncture reclaim their ancient priviledge of joining in all warrants for the issues from the treasury. However, I conceive that the right of joining in such warrants can never die. But to confine ourselves to his Excellency’s inferences, let us for a moment concede that this act by the Governor and Council, at most is only a misapplication of the publick monies. The conduct of the House is certainly to be justified. The Governor and Council of the province misapplying money, is a grievous event, a terrible misfortune, and a dreadful example to inferiors. It would be enough to infect seven eighths of the petty officers in the community. Whenever a peculator, great or small, should be called to an account after such an event repeated, and passed unnoticed by the House, he would at least console and comfort, nay even plume himself with such like reflections as these. “My betters have done so before me. They make what applications they please of the publick money, without regard to law, or the duty of their trust, and so will I.” Tho’ with regard to the present Governor and Council, it is presumed a misapplication can proceed only from an error in judgment, which the wisest are in a degree subject to, not from any supposed pravity of inclination; yet it would be of dangerous tendency, and therefore a proper subject of remonstrance. A remonstrance is not an insolent and presumptuous “calling a Governor and Council to an account for difference of opinion only,” nor any charge of wilful evil, but only of error in judgment, Edition: current; Page: [1717] and a humble endeavour to point it out; relying always upon their known goodness and wisdom, that whenever they shall discover the truth, they will readily follow it. The House of Commons remonstrating (as they have sometimes done) I believe would be astonished to hear their humble petitions to the Throne called “hard words and groundless insinuations, &c. and viewed as calling the King to account. It is true, that the Governor and Council may do many things, if they are so disposed, which they cannot be called to an account for in this world; but this will hardly prove that they have a right to do them, especially after the whole body of the people by their Representatives complain of them as grievous. It is by no means a good inference in politicks, any more than in private life, or even in a state of nature, that a man has a right to do every thing in his natural power to do. This would be at once to make a man’s own will and his power, however obtained, the only measure of his actions.

But in answer to his Excellency’s grand question, it will appear that this act, and the like instances complained of, are more than a bare misapplication of the public money; they are what the house called them “a method, (and they might have added a lately devised method, the first instance almost being in the case of the ship King-George, in 1760) of making and increasing establishments by the Governor and Council,” in effect taking from the House their most darling priviledge, that of originating all taxes.” “In short (i.e. a short method for) annihilating one branch of the legislature.”

And it remains infallibly true, when once the Representatives of a people give up this priviledge, the government will very soon become arbitrary, i.e. the Governor and Council may then do every thing as they please.

His Excellency asks, “When this distinction is considered, how can this act, right or wrong, be applied to the right of originating taxes, annihilating one branch of the legislature, and making the government arbitrary.” His Excellency, thro’ his whole vindication, seems to speak of the single act of fitting out the sloop, and don’t once mention the establishment made for her, or the payment thereof; much less the two instances of fitting out the ship King George: All which the house had in view, as is manifest by their saying, that, “had this been the first instance, they might not have troubled his Excellency about it.” However, if this was the only instance that ever had happened of such an exertion of the executive power by the Governor and Council, it seems to be very applicable to the right of originating taxes, and to have a tendency to make the Governor and Council of the province Edition: current; Page: [1718] arbitrary. If the Governor and Council have a right to draw what money they please out of the treasury, under a notion of discretion which they are to exercise, as executive officers of the government; it follows, that for so much charge as the government incurs by the exercise of this discretionary power, by so much the province is taxed by the Governor and Council, without any privity or consent of the house; so much charge then as is incurred by this discretionary power, the house cannot be said to originate. Their right of originating taxes therefore is so far taken away; their power as to this ceasing and coming to nothing, by the Governor and Council exercising it themselves, without the house, may be said to be annihilated. And when the power and priviledge of any branch of the legislature ceases, is taken away and annihilated, then the government is so far arbitrary. The house are so modest as only to say, “that in such a case it will soon become arbitrary.”

Can any man be so unreasonable as to contend that the province is not as much taxed by the Governor and Council’s paying for this sloop out of the money already raised, as if the house had voted it? What is the difference? The people pay the reckoning whether the Governor and Council take upon them to arm vessels out of money raised for other purposes, or the house vote to raise money for arming vessels. When the money is gone out of the treasury for arming vessels, the debts of the province contracted by the three branches of the legislature must nevertheless be paid, and other monies must be levied instead of those taken away by the Governor and Council. And as according to his Excellency’s distinction, there is no limitation of the discretionary expence, so long as the good of the whole, in the opinion of the Governor and Council shall require it; they may spend every farthing in the treasury, and for what they please. Suppose his Excellency should judge it expedient and absolutely necessary upon the apprehension of some imminent and immediate danger (of which he is in fact absolutely by the charter the sole judge) to march all the militia to the frontiers. This he can do without even the advice of the Council. Suppose the Council, tho’ not consulted, as they need not be, as to the utility of the march, should place such absolute confidence in his Excellency’s wisdom as to sign a warrant for drawing every farthing out of the treasury for the paying and subsisting this armament. Could not as much be said for all this, as is said for fitting out the sloop?

The House of Representatives, should they presume to remonstrate, might with the same propriety be given to understand that “there was not Edition: current; Page: [1719] time to call them together,” that “the danger was immediate and imminent, and in such a case there is no limitation of expence, but in proportion to the evil impending;” “for the safety of the people being the supreme law, should at all events be provided for.” Furthermore, “this was an act the Governor and Council had a right to do:” “It is a legal and constitutional exercise of the powers vested in them.” “It is an exertion of the executive power of the government, distinct from the legislative.” Nay let us go but one step further, and I think the reasoning will be compleat on the side of his Excellency, or on the side of the House. All things are possible, and when his Excellency and the Council we are now blessed with, are taken from us, we may have a Governor and Council, that after they have given out orders to array and march the militia, and by warrant drawn all the money out of the treasury, may alter their minds as to the imminent danger, lay by the expedition, but instead of replacing the money in the treasury, divide and pocket it among themselves.

The reader no doubt starts at such a supposition, ’tis only a bare possibility as stated. The House might possibly remonstrate in such a case. But I hold that upon the principles advanced by his Excellency, it would be wrong in them so to do, and that it ought to be taken for a satisfactory answer, That “if it were wrong and ill advised in the Governor and Council (thus to convert all the treasure of the province to their own use, which they might not mean to admit) yet it would amount to no more than a very improper application of the publick money, by those who had lawful authority to apply such money to the publick purposes.”

“When this distinction is considered, how could such an act, whether right or wrong, be applied to the right of originating taxes, annihilating one branch of the legislature, and making the government arbitrary.” Perhaps such future Governor not understanding law distinctions so well as his Excellency our present Governor, might expresly add, and so good Messieurs Representatives you have nothing to do but to supply the treasury, again, tax the many headed monster* once more, and when you have done it, the first moment I think fit I’ll draw it all out again, under colour of some sudden imminent danger; and if you don’t like it, you may e’en go h——g yourselves, as they at least most certainly would richly deserve who should tamely submit to such usage.

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To conclude. Would all plantation Governors reflect upon the nature of a free government, and the principles of the British constitution, as now happily established, and practice upon those principles, instead (as most of them do) of spending their whole time in extending the prerogative beyond all bounds; they would serve the King their master much better, and make the people under their care infinitely happier.

Strange it is, that when King’s and many of her mighty men have fallen in their attempts upon the liberties of the people of Great Britain, that plantation Governor’s don’t all consider the Act of 13th of George the second, Chapter vii. which is a plain declaration of the British parliament, that the subjects in the colonies are entitled to all the privileges of the people of Great Britain. By this act of parliament even Foreigners having lived seven years in any of the British colonies, are deemed natives, on taking the oaths of allegiance, &c. and are declared by said act to be his Majesty’s natural born subjects of the kingdom of Great Britain, to all intents, constructions and purposes, as if any or every of them had been, or were born within the kingdom. The reasons given for this naturalization of foreigners, in the preamble of the act are, that

the increase of the people is the means of advancing the wealth and strength of any nation or country, and that many foreigners and strangers, from the lenity of our government, the purity of our religion, the benefit of our laws, the advantages of our trade, and the security of our property, might be induced to come and settle in some of his Majesty’s colonies in America, if they were made partakers of the advantages and priviledges which the natural born subjects of this realm do there enjoy.

Nor is any new priviledge given by this act to the natives of the colonies, it is meerly as to them a declaration of what they are intitled to by the common law, by their several charters, by the law of nature and nations, and by the law of God, as might be shown at large, had I time or room.

All settled attempts therefore, against the liberty of the subject, in any of the plantations, must end in the ruin of the Governor who makes them; at least they will render his administration as uneasy to himself, as unhappy for the people. It is therefore the indispensable duty of every one, and will be the sincere endeavour of every honest man, to promote the utmost harmony between the three branches of the legislature, that they may be a mutual Edition: current; Page: [1721] support to each other, and the ornament, defence and glory of the people Providence has committed to their care.

I am convinced that if his Excellency will in all cases take the advice of the general assembly, (which however contemptably some may affect to speak of it, is the great council of this province, as the British parliament is of the kingdom) that his administration will be crowned with all the success he can desire. But if instead of this, the advice of half a dozen or half a score, who among their fellow citizens may be chiefly distinguished by their avarice, ignorance, pride or insolence, should at any time obtain too much weight at court, the consequences will be very unfortunate on all sides.

Had the writer of these sheets any thing to ask or fear from his Excellency, for himself, a very slender modern politician would quickly perceive the incompatability of this performance with a court interest. That he has done every thing he could in his small sphere to make his Excellency’s administration prosperous to him and happy for the people, abundant proofs have been given; and they will one day be convincing to his Excellency. He has never opposed his Excellency in any thing but what he would have opposed his own Father in. And he takes this opportunity publickly to declare, that in all his legal and constitutional measures, his Excellency shall find him a fast tho’ humble friend and servant: But the Liberty of his country, and the Rights of mankind, he will ever vindicate to the utmost of his capacity and power.

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61: Massachusetts House of Representatives: Instructions to Jasper Mauduit (June 15, 1762)

As the Seven Years’ War wound down, rumors stretched across the Atlantic of metropolitan intentions to tighten London’s control over the colonies, and when the Massachusetts agent William Bollan reported that metropolitan authorities might try to require the inclusion of a suspending clause in all subsequent Massachusetts legislation, the Massachusetts General Assembly appointed a committee, composed of Thomas Hutchinson and James Bowdoin from the Council and Thomas Cushing, Johan Phillips, and Royall Tyler from the House, to draft these instructions to newly appointed agent Jasper Mauduit in protest of such a step. Metropolitan insistence upon suspending clauses had been an increasing source of tension within the empire since the late 1740s and had generated much discussion in several colonies. These instructions provide perhaps the fullest statement of colonial objections to such devices and of late colonial convictions about the necessity for colonial legislative independence in regard to local affairs.

Those objections and convictions were both practical and constitutional. The practical considerations were two. First, the instructions pointed out that suspending legislation for any period would delay its implementation, thereby in many cases defeating the intentions of the legislature, delaying the resolution of problems, and in general contributing to confusion in “the domestick concerns” of the province. Second, it argued that the governor and assembly were, “in the nature and Reason of things,” “the most Adequate Judges, of all local Laws, and most of our Edition: current; Page: [1724] Laws are such.” If effective governance of distant polities depended upon their legislatures’ having wide scope to handle the pressing exigencies arising within their societies, British constitutional traditions, the instructions argued, dictated that provincial legislatures exercised their authority as a matter of right. Contending that “No Reason can be given why a man should be abridg’d in his Liberty, by removing from Europe to America, any more than by his removing from Dover to London,” the instructions, deliberately conflating natural rights, British rights, and charter rights, argued that the right “to be free from any superior power on Earth” and not “to be under” any “legislative power but that established by Consent in the Commonwealth” or “under the Dominion of any Will or Restraint of any Law, but what such legislative shall enact” was the “principal” right among many “Rights of the Colonists,” a right that was “so inherent” that no people could “give it up without becoming Slaves.” This “essential and fundamental” privilege, the report declared, was “by no means local, that is, confined to the Realm [of England]; but by the Common law and by particular Acts of Parliament extended throughout the Dominions.”

In this brief for the legislative independence of provincial legislatures throughout the empire, the authors expressed pride in the fact “that British America” had, in its enjoyment of British liberty, ever been “distinguished from the slavish Colonies round about it, as the fortunate Britains are from their Neighbours, upon the Continent of Europe” and went on to attribute Britain’s “present Strength, and populousness” to “the Growth of the plantations” and, in turn, their growth “to that beautifull Form of Civil Government under which we live.” Expressing the belief that the commitment of the Hanoverian monarchs to support liberty throughout the empire would ensure “that our privileges will remain sacred and inviolate,” the report concluded by suggesting that the strenuous exertions of the colonies in general and of Massachusetts in particular during the Seven Years’ War should provide “very strong inducements, to enlarge rather than Curtail our Privileges.” (J.P.G.)

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Instructions to Jasper Mauduit


Our late Agent William Bollan, Esqr., having by his letters of the 8th of May 1761, of the 12th of February, and the 15th of March last, Copies of which will be transmitted you with this, informed the General Court that the Province’s power of Legislation is like to be nearly affected if not called in Question, by the Requisition of a suspending Clause in our Acts, and that in certain Cases, at least, they shall not take Effect untill they shall have received the Royal Sanction.

We are also informed by the same Gentleman, that “many powerful Reasons have for a long” Time called

for a thorough Examination in order for a full proof and firm Establishment of the Original, inherent and just Title of the Colonies in America to the Rights, Liberties and Benefits of the State, whereof they were Members, when they prosecuted this noble Enterprize, and of which by their great Expence, Toil and Peril in inlarging the Dominions for the Common good, they continued perfect Members, and from whom of Course these Rights descended to their Posterity.

The natural Rights of the Colonists, we humbly conceive to be the same with those of all other British Subjects, and indeed of all Mankind. The principal of these Rights is to be “free from any superior power on Earth, and not to be under the Will or Legislative Authority of Man, but to have only the Law of Nature for his Rule.”

Our political or Civil Rights will be best understood by beginning at the Foundation,

The Liberty of all Men in society is to be under no other legislative power but that established by Consent in the Commonwealth, nor under the Dominion of any Will or Restraint of any Law, but what such legislative shall enact, according to the trust put in it. In General freedom of Men under Government, is to have standing fundamental Rules to live by, common to every one of that Society, and made by the legislative power erected in it; a Liberty to follow my own will in all things where that Edition: current; Page: [1726] Rule prescribes not, and not to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown arbitrary will of another Man; as freedom of Nature is to be under no Restraint but the law of Nature.

This Liberty is not only the Right of Britons, and British Subjects, but the Right of all Men in Society, and is so inherent, that they Can’t give it up without becoming Slaves, by which they forfeit even life itself. Civil Society great or small, is but the Union of many, for the Mutual Preservation of Life, Liberty and Estate. These notions of Liberty had the Ancient Greeks and Romans, and the same Ideas had our Ancestors in Britain, long before the discovery of America. Most of the Transactions from the Grant of Magna Charta to the Revolution may be considered as one continued Struggle between Prince and People, all tending to that happy Establishment, which Great Britain has since enjoyed and is every day increasing to perfection.

The Allegiance of British Subjects being perpetual and inseparable from their persons, so while they are in the Breach of none of the Laws of their Country, is their Liberty. No Reason can be given why a man should be abridg’d in his Liberty, by removing from Europe to America, any more than by his removing from London to Dover, or from one side of a street to the other. So long as he remains a British Subject, so long must he be intitled to all the privileges of such an one: The most essential and fundamental of these Priviledges, are by no means local, that is, confined to the Realm; but by the Common law, by the Constitution and by particular Acts of Parliament extended throughout the Dominions. The particulars of these priviledges are to be found in Magna Charta, the Bill of Rights, and in almost every publick Transaction, since the Revolution. By the Laws of Nature and of Nations, which in this Instance at least, are the voice of universal Reason, and of God, when a Nation takes possession of desert, uncultivated and uninhabited Countries, or which to our present purpose is the same thing, of a Country inhabited by Salvages, who are without Laws and Government, and settles a Colony there; such Country tho’ separated from the principal Establishment or Mother Country, naturally becomes part of the State, equally with its antient possessions. This is not only Confirmed by the Practice of the Antients, but by the Moderns, ever since the Discovery of America. Frenchmen, Portugals, and Spaniards are no greater Slaves abroad than at home, and by Analogy Britains should be as free on one side of the Atlantic as on the other.

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That this is the sense of the British Parliament is among many instances that might be cited very evident from the 13th G: 2nd C: 7. By this Act even Foreigners having lived seven Years in any of the British Colonies are deemed Natives, on taking the Oaths of Allegiance, etc., and are declared by said Act, to be his Majesty’s natural born Subjects, of the Kingdom of Great Britain, to all intents, Constructions and purposes, as if any, or every of them, had been or were born within the Kingdom. The Reasons given for this Naturalization, in the Preamble of the Act are, that

the Increase of the People is the Means of advancing the wealth and Strength of any Nation or Country, and that many Foreigners and Strangers from the Lenity of our Government, the Purity of our Religion, the Benefit of our Laws, the advantages of our Trade, and the security of our property, might be induced to come and settle in some of his Majesty’s Colonies in America, if they were made partakers of the advantages and privileges which the natural born Subjects of this Realm do there enjoy.

It seems a little strange that after this explicit declaration of the Parliament, made no longer since, than the 13th Year of the last Reign, that any of the Colonies should be called upon by their agent, and earnestly pressed for a full proof and firm Establishment of their original and inherent Rights.

It is now near three Hundred Years since America was first discovered, and that by, British Subjects, and near ten Generations have passed away, thro’ various Toils and many bloody Conflicts, in settling this Country. None of these ever dreamt, but what they were intitled to equal Priviledges, with those of the same Rank, born within the Realm. We have heard it from our Fathers, and their Fathers told it unto them, that British America was ever to be distinguished from the slavish Colonies round about it, as the fortunate Britains are from their Neighbours, upon the Continent of Europe. We humbly conceive that it is for the Interest of Great Britain that her Colonies should be thus distinguished. It is agreed by some very judicious English Writers, that the Expeditions made by our antient Princes, however they might enlarge their power, and exalt their glory, were far enough from being serviceable to the Liberty or property of the Subjects. The figure Great Britain now makes, arises from Maxims embraced in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth, and which have been in a measure adhered to ever since, and are daily improving by Practice. This wise Queen is thought to have laid the Real Foundation of that Wealth, power and true Glory which we Edition: current; Page: [1728] rejoice to see our illustrious Sovereign in the full possession of. She among other great things, promoted the Navigation and Commerce of her subjects, open’d a free passage for them to both the Indies, and excited that spirit which induced her Subjects to make Settlements in the most distant parts of the Globe.

Some things indeed of a very disagreeable kind, (even in her Reign, and much more so, in every Reign afterwards till the Revolution) conspired to hasten these Settlements. These furnish a very striking proof, that the great Author of Nature, and the kind Father of us all, has made the sorest temporal Evils, Civil war and discord subservient to his allwise purposes, and productive of great temporal good. To the freedom of the British Constitution, and to their Increase of Commerce, it is owing, that these Colonies have flourished, without diminishing the inhabitants of the mother Country, contrary to the Effects of plantations made by most other Countries, which have suffered at home, in order to aggrandize themselves abroad.

Great Britain is well known to have increased prodigiously both in Numbers and in wealth, since she began to Colonize. There are very good judges, who scruple not to affirm, that it is to the Growth of the plantations Great Britain is indebted for her present Strength, and populousness. As the wild wastes in America have been turned into pleasant Habitations, and flourishing trading Towns, so many of the little Villages, and obscure Burroughs in England, have put on a New Face, suddenly started up and become fair Market Towns, and great Cities. London itself, which bid fair to become the Metropolis of the World, is five Times more populous than in the days of Elizabeth. This and numberless other Mutual Advantages are intirely derived from the spirit of Trade and Commerce, the planting of Colonies and some consequential Amendments in our Constitution, or rather to the Reduction of it, to its first principles. Hence it is demonstrable how much we all owe to that beautifull Form of Civil Government under which we live. It is also evidently the Interest, and ought to be the care of all those intrusted with the Administration of the Government, to see that every part of the British Empire enjoys to the full the advantages derived from the Laws, and that Freedom which is the Result of their being maintained with Impartiality and Vigour. This we have seen reduced to Practice in this and the preceding Reigns, and think we have the highest Reason (from the paternal care and goodness that his Majesty has hitherto discovered to all his dutiful and loyal subjects and to us in particular) to rest assured that our priviledges Edition: current; Page: [1729] will remain sacred and inviolate: We shall ever pray that our most gracious Sovereign’s life may be prolonged, and that he and his posterity may Reign in Britain, and in British America till Time shall be no more.

It must be manifest to every judicious and disinterested person, that the Connection between Britain and her Colonies is so strong and natural, as to make their mutual happiness, depend upon a mutual Support. Nothing tends more to the destruction of both, than sowing seeds of Dissention between them. From the Importance of these principles, it is presumed, that Great Britain has been induced to go through so many glorious Enterprizes during this and the last Reign, for the defence of her Colonies, and that the Colonies have so very loyally and strenuously exerted themselves. We think it but a piece of Common Justice due to the good people of this Province, to declare that they are not behind any of the Colonies in their Duty to their King and Country.

We have the satisfaction to inform you, that altho’ the War is protracted beyond what was expected, this Province has readily complied with every Requisition made for his Majesty’s service this year.

We have raised three Thousand three hundred provincials, and granted a Bounty of seven pounds Currency for Eight hundred and ninety Men more to enlist into the Regular Regiments. We shall upon all Occasions rejoice in demonstrating, even with the Sacrifice of life and Fortune, our Attachments to his Majesty’s person, Family and Government. The New England Governments for many Years (without any immediate Support from England, or their neighbouring Colonies, some of which last indeed were unable) defended themselves, and protected their Brethren, from the Insults of the French, and the Ravages of the Barbarians. The particulars of these services, and the Expence and loss of Men, may be hereafter collected in one view, and transmitted you. But at present we must attend to the Subject of Legislation.

The power of Legislation is in this Province immediately derived from the Charter of King William and Queen Mary; which with a New impression of our laws will be transmitted you, by the first opportunity. This Legislative power has been ever Subject to the King’s Disapprobation, as expressed in said Charter. And all antient Acts of Parliament are received here, and duly obeyed, that can be considered as part of, or amending the Common Law; and all such Acts of Parliament as expressly mention the plantations.

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By this Charter, it is granted, ordained, and established, that all and every of the Subjects, that shall come to inhabit within this Province or Territory, and every of their Children, which shall happen to be born here, or on the Seas in coming here, or returning from hence, shall have and enjoy all the Liberties and Immunities, of free and natural Subjects, within any of the dominions, to all intents, and Constructions and purposes, whatsoever, as if they had, and every of them were born within the Realm of England. This is declaratory of the Common Law, the Law of nature and nations, which all agree in this particular. There are regularly three Incidents to a subject born: 1. Parents under the actual Obedience of the King. 2. That the place of his Birth, be within the King’s dominions. 3. The time of his Birth, is to be chiefly considered, for he cannot be a Subject born of one Kingdom, that was born under the allegiance of the King of another Kingdom, albeit afterwards, the one Kingdom descends, to the King of the other Kingdom, see 7. Coke, Calvin’s Case, and the several Acts of Parliament relating to Naturalization, from Ed: 3d to this time. By which it will evidently appear that the British American Colonies are part of the Common wealth and well entitled to the rights, liberties and benefits thereof.

It may not be amiss to observe that we were possessed of one very important branch of Liberty, before the people of England were, for by the Charter of King James 1 to the adventurers, a free profession of Religion is declared to be one of the principal ends of the plantation. This was long enough before the Acts of Toleration at home.

The said Charles proceeds,

And we do for us, our heirs and Successors, Give and grant, that the said General Court or assembly, shall have full power and authority, to name and settle Annually, all Civil officers within the said Province, such officers excepted, the Election and Constitution of whom, we have by these Presents reserved to us, our heirs and Successors, or to the Governour of our said Province for the Time being; and to set forth the several duties, powers, and Limits, of every such officer, to be appointed by the said General Court or assembly; and the Forms of such Oaths, not repugnant to the Laws, and Statutes of this our Realm of England, as shall be respectively administred to them, for the Execution of their several offices and places; and also to impose Fines, Mulcts, Imprisonments, and other punishments; and to impose and levy proportionable and reasonable Edition: current; Page: [1731] assessments, Rates and Taxes, upon the Estates and persons, of all and every the proprietors or Inhabitants of our said Province or Territory, to be issued and disposed of, by Warrant under the hand of the Governor of our said Province, for the time being, with the advice and Consent of the Council for our service, in the Necessary Defence and Support of our Government of our said province or Territory, and the Protection and preservation of the Inhabitants there, according to such Acts, as are or shall be in Force within our said Province and to dispose of Matters and Things whereby our Subjects, Inhabitants of our said Province may be Religiously, Peaceably, and Civilly, governed, protected and defended, so as their good life, and orderly conversation, may win the Indians, Natives of the Country, to the Knowledge and obedience of the only true God, and Saviour of Mankind, and the Christian Faith, which his Royall Majesty, our Royal Grandfather, King Charles the First, in his said Letters Patent, declared was his Royal Intention, and the Adventurers free profession to be the principal End of the said Plantation. And for the Better securing and maintaining Liberty of Conscience, hereby granted to all persons, at any time, being and residing, within our said Province or Territory as aforesaid, willing, commanding and requiring, and by these presents, for us, our heirs and Successors ordaining and appointing, that all such orders, Laws, Statutes and ordinances, instructions and directions, as shall be so made and published under our seal of our said Province or Territory, shall be carefully and duly observed, kept and performed and put in Execution, according to the true intent and meaning of these presents. Provided always And we do by these presents, for us, our heirs and Successors, establish and ordain, that in the framing and passing of all such orders, Laws, Statutes and ordinances, and in all Elections, and Acts of Government whatsoever, to be passed, made or done, by the said General Court or assembly, or in Council; the Governor of our said Province or Territory of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, for the time being, shall have the Negative Voice; and that without his Consent or approbation, signified and declared, in writing, no such orders, Laws, Statutes ordinances Elections, or other Acts of Government whatsoever, so to be made, passed or done by the said General Assembly, or in Council, shall be of any Force, Effect, or Validity; any thing herein contained to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding. And we do for us, our heirs and Successors, establish and ordain, that the said orders, Laws, Statutes and ordinances, be by the first opportunity, after the making thereof, Edition: current; Page: [1732] sent or transmitted unto us, our heirs and Successors, under the publick Seal, to be appointed by us, for our or their approbation, or disallowance. And that in Case all or any of them shall at any time within the Space of three Years, next after the same shall have been presented to us, our heirs and Successors, in our, or their Privy Council, be disallowed and rejected, and so signified by us, our heirs and Successors, under our or their Sign Manual, and Signet; or by order in our or their Privy Council, unto the Governour for the time being, then such and so many of them as shall be so disallowed and rejected, shall thenceforth cease and determine and become utterly Void, and of none Effect. Provided always, That in Case, We, our heirs, or Successors, shall not, within the Term of three Years after the presenting of such orders, laws, Statutes or ordinances, as aforesaid, signify our, or their disallowance, of the same, then the said orders, Laws Statutes or Ordinances, shall be and Continue in full Force and Effect, according to the true Intent and Meaning of the same, until the Expiration thereof, or that the same shall be repealed, by the General Assembly of our said Province for the time being. Provided also, That it shall and May be lawful, for the said Governour, and General Assembly, to make or pass any grant of Lands, lying within the Bounds of the Colonies, formerly called the Colonies of the Massachusetts Bay, and New Plymouth, and Province of Main, in such manner, as heretofore they might have done, by virtue of any former Charter, or letters Patent; which grants of Lands, within the Bounds aforesaid, We do hereby Will and ordain to be and continue forever in full force and Effect, without our further approbation or Consent. And so as Nevertheless, and it is our Royal Will and pleasure, that no grant, or Grants of any Lands, lying or extending from the River of Sagadahock, to the Gulph of St. Lawrence, and Cannada Rivers, and to the Main Sea Northward, and Eastward, to be made or past by the Governour and General Assembly of our said Province be of any Force, Validity or Effect, untill we our heirs and Successors shall have signified our or their approbation of the same.

The Reasons against a suspending Clause, in these laws, until the King’s approbation, or disapprobation may be known, are briefly these: 1. There is no such thing required by the Words of the Charter, except in a particular Case, to wit of grants of Land, in Sagadahock. 2. The Cotemporary, as well as constant usage to the country, ever since the Charter, and which has never before been called in question, is, as we think, an unanswerable argument in Edition: current; Page: [1733] Law, and in reason, that no such thing was ever intended. 3. The Laws for Assessments, Rates and Taxes mentioned in the Charter, and many others are in their nature annual. Now if these are not to take Effect, until they have received the Royal Sanction, they would often not take Effect at all, for the time of their Continuance, or the greatest part of it would be ordinarily elapsed before such Sanction could possibly be obtained. This Consideration is enough to evince, what confusion would happen in the domestick concerns of the province, even in the time of Peace. But in a time of War, as this is, his Majesty’s Service would be extremely endangered hereby, for if all Acts and orders for levying our provincial Troops (which are commonly raised in the Spring, and dismissed in the Fall) were to be sent home, as by this principle they must, the Campaign would be over before such Acts and orders could be returned from England. A Multiplicity of such instances might be mentioned, and numberless others that can’t be foreseen, may possibly happen, by the Establishment of such a principle. All the officers of the Government, who depend upon annual grants, for their services, must be by this means, kept out of their pay and Subsistance, untill the Royal approbation be known, so that the Treasury instead of yielding ready and prompt payment, will ever be a year behind hand, and the King’s officers in the meantime, starving, and his service Suffering. The Charter provides, that without the Governor’s Consent or approbation, signified and declared in writing, no such orders, Laws, Statutes, Ordinances, Elections, or other Acts of Government whatsoever to be made, passed or done by the said General Assembly, or in Council, shall be of any force Effect or Validity. This at least very strongly implies, that immediately upon such consent or approbation, they become Laws, and want nothing but publication, especially as in the Clause preceeding, upon such Consent of the Governor, and publication under the Seal of the Province, the Subject is required to yield carefull and due Obedience.

5. If it had been intended that the Royal approbation should also have been obtained, previous to our Laws having any Force, a Word or two would have put the matter beyond all doubt, as in the subsequent Clauses relating to the grants of Lands. Those in Massachusetts, Plymouth and Province of Main, are expressly grantable by the Province, without having further royal approbation than the Charter. Those in Sagadahock are expressly grantable, by the General Court, but the grant is as expressly suspended until the Royal approbation be signified. 6: This Clause then, “such and so many Edition: current; Page: [1734] of them, as shall be disallowed and rejected, shall thenceforth cease and determine, and become utterly void and of none Effect,” shews the intent was, to make the King’s disallowance in the nature of a repeal, and the act voidable, not void. If it is considered in this light all mean Acts are good. This Construction is abundantly confirmed by the constant usage hitherto, and by the next Clause

Provided always, that in Case we, our heirs or Successors, shall not within the Term of Three years after the presenting of such orders, Laws, Statutes and ordinances as aforesaid, signify, our or their disallowance of the same, then the said orders, Laws, etc. shall be and continue in full force and Effect, according to the true intent, and meaning of the same

until the Expiration thereof, or that the same shall be repealed by the General Assembly. If this doctrine of Suspension takes place, every Act must lie three years, unless his Majesty’s pleasure be sooner signified, which is not probable, for there is no Instance, of any allowance being signified, nor is it requisite by Charter, and there have been but few disallowances. If all our Acts are to be three Years, in order for a disapprobation, the most important affairs, as raising Taxes, laying Excise, Imposts, Grants of Money, to his Excellency the Governor, and others for their Salaries, levying Troops, paying and subsisting for the King’s service, would be always three years behind hand. Such a form of Legislation, would be a burthen rather than a benefit to the Subject. Omnis Innovatio plus novitate perturbat, quam utilitate prodest.1 We have proved that be an act, ever so necessary to be carried into immediate Execution, yet by this new system, it may lay and be suspended three years. Let us suppose that the next day after the three years of suspension are expired, the Continuance of the Act, any longer becomes dangerous, or detrimental to the Province, from some one of a Thousand Changes in Circumstances, which are daily turning up, in the ordinary Course of human affairs.

What is to be done: Why the Assembly, as by Charter they have right, repeal this Act, but this Act of repeal can have no immediate Effect, any more than any other law, but must be suspended it is said for the Royal Edition: current; Page: [1735] approbation or disallowance, and may lie three years more without any allowance or disallowance, so here’s six years gone, three of which the poor Colony is without a law, perhaps absolutely needful for its being, and three Years after the Occasion of the law ceases, and becomes absolutely bad, it must remain in force. A little Change in Circumstances would cause another similar rotation, and so on Ad infinitum, both in Number and Continuance, Uno absurdo dato Mille Sequuntur.2

Further, the Governor, and the Assembly, by the Charter, and in the nature and Reason of things, are deemed in general the most Adequate Judges, of all local Laws, and most of our Laws are such. Some few there may be indeed, of which the boards in England, are infinitely better Judges than we are, but if they all had the Wisdom of angels they must often be in the dark in relation to such as in their nature are local, and have the particular state and Circumstances of this People for their object. If these suspensions are Established, it will be in the power of the Crown, in Effect, to take away our Charter without act of Parliament, or the Ordinary process at Common law, and surely, the laws of England, will never make such Construction of the King’s Charter, as to put it in the power of the donor or his Successors to take it away when he pleases. We have nothing of this kind to fear from his present Majesty, or his Ministry, on the contrary, we flatter our selves that when the services and sufferings of the American Colonies in general, and of this in particular, are fully considered, they will afford very strong inducements, to enlarge rather than Curtail our Priviledges. We would recommend to you, to Consult Mr. Jackson upon this Subject and such other Council, learned in the law as you may think Needfull.

We shall as soon as possible furnish you with some further particulars, relative to this very interesting and important question.

We shall with this transmit you Copies of the Instructions heretofore given Mr. Bollan, and from time to time make such additions as our affairs may require.

In Council, June 14th, 1762. Read and accepted, and ordered that the Secretary transmit a Copy hereof to Mr. Agent Mauduit by the first opportunity.

Sent down for Concurrence.
Jno. Cotton, Dep: Sec’y.
Edition: current; Page: [1736]
Read and Concurr’d. Timo. Ruggles, Speaker.
Copy. A. Oliver, Sec’y.
And’w Oliver
Oliver, And’w
June 15, 1762

I am directed by the General Court to inform you that in case any Attempt should be made to abridge or in any measure controul the General Court in regard to their Power of Legislation as granted by the Province Charter, You are then to make use of the Letter of Instructions herewith sent you upon that Subject, in such manner as your discretion shall dictate; but if no such Attempt should be made, You will in that case keep them to Yourself.

In their behalf, I am, Sir, Your most humble Servant,
And’w Oliver.
Edition: current; Page: [1737]

62: John Camm, A Single and Distinct View of the Act, Vulgarly Entitled, The Two-Penny Act (Annapolis, 1763)

John Camm, leader of the clerical revolt in Virginia against the Two- Penny Acts of 1755 and 1758, waited nearly three years to answer Richard Bland’s and Landon Carter’s 1760 defenses of those measures (see Selection 58). Camm argued that those acts were aimed at relieving, not the poor, but the wealthy property holders and, using his own parishioners in York County as an example, succeeded in showing that the wealthy with many tithables on their establishments benefited most from the legislation. Stressing his maxim of “Salus Populi est Suprema Lex,1 Bland had contended that legal technicalities like suspending clauses always had to give way before the common good, but in Camm’s view, Bland’s conception of that maxim meant no more than “to take as much as shall be thought necessary from the Incomes of the Clergy, and dispose of it chiefly among the Rich and Wealthy and Successful,” while “not quite excluding all of the Poor and Distressed sort from their share in the Booty.”

But Camm also took up the constitutional question, suggesting that the Virginia Assembly had not, “till very lately,” claimed “a power to pass Laws that interfer’d with any confirm’d by his Majesty without a suspending Clause” and that such claim was “an Innovation” that violated the “Old Constitution.” “I look not on the Colony, as a little independent Sovereignty; but Edition: current; Page: [1738] as having a particular Connection with the Mother Country and [being] dependent on the Crown of Great-Britain,” he wrote, “and I know not in what this dependence can more properly consist, than in the standing uninterrupted Validity of Laws confirmed by the Crown, until they are Repeal’d or Suspended by the same Authority.” He confessed his sentiments “that if we could destroy the substance of the King’s Power, or the Rights of the Crown, or the Prerogative . . . and reduce it to a mere Shadow, something that has no Weight, is not to be felt, we should only hereby Sap one of the strongest batteries, erected for the defense of Liberty and Property.”

In the appendix, Camm republished his correspondence with the Virginia printer Joseph Royale, the public printer for Virginia who declined to publish Camm’s tract on the grounds that it might offend the Virginia House of Burgesses. Royale’s refusal explains why Camm published the pamphlet in Annapolis. (J.P.G.)

Edition: current; Page: [1739]



VIEW of the ACT,

Vulgarly entitled,



An Account of it’s beneficial and wholesome Effects in


In which is exhibited

A SPECIMEN of Col. Landon Carter’s

Justice and Charity; as well as of

Col. Richard Bland’s Salus Populi.2

By the Reverend JOHN CAMM,


Though I have the Gift of Prophecy, and understand all Mysteries, and all Knowledge,—and have not Charity; I am Nothing.

Carter’s Text.

Ne quid falsi dicere audeat, ne quid veri non audeat.3

Bland’s Motto.

Could nothing but thy chief Reproach serve for a Motto.


Annapolis: Printed by Jonas Green, for the Author. 1763.

Edition: current; Page: [1740]

A Single and Distinct View of the Act vulgarly entitled The Two-penny Act.

In compliance with the Opinion of my Friends, and with Col. Bland’s challenging the CLERGY to an open Justification of their Complaint, on the Spot, where particular Facts can be best Examined, I have here put down a few plain ones in point, for the Satisfaction of Him and the Public: Though, in his Appeal to particular Facts I am afraid he was not over Sincere; in as much as no body deals more in General Topicks, False Facts, and ill-adapted Maxims, than himself.

I suppose, if my Tobacco had been paid in 1758, I could have sold it for Fifty Shillings a Hundred; and I allow 133 l. 6 s. 8 d. Currency for 100 l. Sterling, as the Exchange in that Year. If I am not exact to a shilling, in either of these Articles, it will not affect the Consequences to be deduced from them; or, the proportionable Share which must be Assign’d to each of my Parishioners, out of that Part of my Income, for one Year, proposed to be taken away from me, by The Two-penny Act.

Taking these Premises for granted, I find, that my Salary that Year would have amounted to 300 l. Sterling; and that the Sum intended to be taken out of it for certain good purposes is 200 l. Sterling. To shew what these good Purposes are, I have here put down a List for 1758, of the Persons who Pay towards the Maintainance of the Minister in my Parish, with their Number of Tithables, taken from Authentick Copies now in my Hands; and have annexed the Sum in Sterling, that each of them was Presented with, as far as they could be by the late Assembly, out of my Salary; which I shall beg leave to accompany with a few Reflections at the bottom.

I depend on the good Sense of my Parish, who have never shewn any Resentment, or given any Ill-treatment to me, for presuming to make a Voyage to England, in quality of Agent for the Convention of the Clergy, that they will not be Offended at seeing their Names on this Occasion. But, as I have consulted no Body on this Head, if any of them should take Offence, he must thank Col. Bland, and Col. Carter for it, whose Endeavours to confound Poverty with Riches, Loss with Gain, Justice with Injustice, Necessity with its Opposite, have called upon me to dispel the Fog, which they are willing to diffuse over the Face of a Truth, in it’s own Nature as Clear as the Sun.

Edition: current; Page: [1741]
A LIST of the OBJECTS OF CHARITY in the Parish of York-Hampton, containing all the White Men, except a few very poor People and the Parson, who are deem’d Rich enough to relieve All these Objects.
Tithables. £. s. d.
Col. Carter Burwell, Three Estates. 61 10 19 10¼
Col. Edward Digges, Two Estates. 56 10 1 10
Hon. William Nelson. 38 6 16 11½
Mr. James Burwell. 34 6 2
Mr. John Wormeley. 24 4 6 6 T. £. s. d.
Hon. T. Nelson. 22 3 10 235 42 6 11¾
Mrs. Lightfoot, Two Estates. 38 6 16 11½
Mr. John Godwin, senior. 19 3 8
Mr. Thomas Reynolds. 18 3 4 10½
Mr. John Godwin. 17 3 1
Mrs. Frances Nelson. 16 2 17 8
Mrs. Agnes Smith. 15 2 14
Mr. Robert Smith. 15
Peyton Randolph, Esq; 15
Mr. William Allin. 14 2 10
Richard Ambler, Esq; 14
Mr. Arthur Dickenson. 14
Mr. Hudson Allin. 14
Mr. John Norton. 13 2 6 10¼
Mr. Robert Ballard. 11 1 19
Mr. Aaron Philips. 11
Mr. John Chapman. 11
Mrs. Jemima Barham. 11
Mrs. Elizabeth Godwin. 10 1 16
Mr. John Wynne. 10
Mr. James Mitchell. 16
Mr. Laurence Smith. 10 1 16
Mr. Nathaniel Buck. 10 T. £. s. d.
Mr. John Tenham. 10 326 58 14 11½
Col. Charles Carter, Mem. Assembly. 9 1 12
Mr. William Moss, junior. 9
Mr. James Mills. 9
Mr. Elliston Armistead, Estate. 9
Mr. John Gibbons. 9
Mr. Thomas Gibbons. 9
Mr. Charles Hansford, junior. 9
Mr. Everard Dowsing. 8 1 8 10
Mr. William Powell. 8
Mrs. Ann Chapman. 8
Mr. Benjamin Moss, senior. 8
Mr. John Lester, senior. 8
Mr. David Morce. 8
Mrs. Mary Moss. 7 1 5
Mrs. Elizabeth Moss. 7
Mr. Philip Dedman. 7
Mr. Thomas Pescod. 7
Col. Dudley Digges, Mem. Assembly. 7
Mr. Griffin Stith. 7
Mr. Joseph Mountfort. 7
Mr. John. Wagstaff. 7
Mr. Edward Potter’s, Estate. 7
Mr. William Moody. 7
Mrs. Martha Bryan. 7
Mr. John Hunter. 6 1 1
Mr. Edward Cross. 6
Mr. George Riddell. 6
Mr. Edmund Tabb. 6
Mr. Thomas Archer. 6
Mr. William Moss. 6
Mr. James Moss. 6
Mr. Robert Godwin. 6
Mr. Augustine Moore, 5 18
Mr. Robert Shield. 5
Mr. William Stevenson. 5
Mr. John Baptist. 5
Mr. Armistead Lightfoot. 5 18
Mr. John Chisman, junior. 5
Mr. Charles Mills. 5
Mr. William Adduston Rogers. 5
Mr. John Burcher. 5
Mr. John Harvey. 5
Mr. Philip Burt. 5
Mr. Young Moreland. 5
Mr. Basil Wagstaff. 5
Mrs. Mary Lewis. 5
Mrs. Martha Wade. 5
Mr. Thomas Wade. 5 T. £. s. d.
Mr. William Baker. 5 321 57 16 11¼
Mr. Seymour Powell. 4 14 5
Mr. David Jameson. 4
Mr. Nicholas Dickson 4
Mr. Patrick Mathews 4
Mr. Edward Baptist. 4
Mr. Thomas Gibbs. 4
Mr. Edward Wright. 4
Mr. Thomas Wootton. 4
Mr. John Burcher. 4
Mr. Anthony Robinson 4
Mr. Richard Hobday. 4
Mr. James Cosby. 4
Mr. John Coman. 4
Mr. Henry Chisman. 4
Mr. Whitehead Lester. 4
Mr. James Matt Ince. 4
Mr. Edmund Glanvill. 3 10
Mr. William Harris. 3
Mr. Christopher Cortes. 3
Mr. Thomas Gibbs. 3
Mrs. Anne Gibbons. 3
Mrs. Mary Moody. 3
Mrs. Martha Satterwhite. 3
Mr. Kemp Charles. 3
Mr. John Wootton. 3
Mr. Alexander Maitland. 3
Mr. William Evans. 3 10
Mr. John Roberts. 3
Mr. Robert Booth Armistead. 3
Mr. Matt. Burt. 3
Mr. Samuel Hill. 3
Mr. Charles Hansford, senior. 3
Mr. Benjamin Barham. 3
Mr. John Hyde. 3
Mrs. Mary Catton. 3
Mrs. Frances Lester. 3
Mrs. Elizabeth Barham. 3
Mrs. Mary Cocket. 3
Mrs. Mary Potter. 3
Mr. John Hack. 2 7
Mr. William Brodie. 2
Mr. Joseph Nisbett. 2
Mr. Peter Mace. 2
Mr. Benjamin Moss, junior. 2
Mr. Samuel Jones. 2
Mr. John McClary. 2
Mrs. Martha Goosley. 2
Mrs. Elizabeth Buckler. 2
Mrs. Elizabeth Irwin. 2
Mrs. Catharine Hansford. 2
Mrs. Bethia Morris. 2
Mrs. Anne Cosby. 2
Mr. William Cary. 2
Mr. John Hay. 2
Mr. Dudley Wright. 2
Mr. Thomas Trotter 2
Mr. Richard Singleton 2
Mr. Ambrose Burfort. 2
Mr. Francis Peters. 2
Mr. Dickeson Yeatman. 2
Mr. John Dunford. 2
Mr. George Booth. 2
Mr. John Lester, junior. 2
Mr. Edward Hansford; junior. 2
Mr. Robert Martin. 2
Mr. Sacheveral Sclater. 2
Mr. Joseph Freeman. 1 3
Mr. John Freeman. 1
Mrs. Ann Orton. 1
Mrs. Amy Archer. 1
Mrs. Elizabeth Allin. 1
Mrs. Mary Tuomar. 1
Mrs. Martha Pepper. 1
Mrs. Anne Dunford. 1
Mrs. Sarah Bruce. 1
Mrs. Sarah Cosby. 1
Mrs. Mildred Moreland. 1
Mr. Haldenby Dixon. 1
Mr. George Wilson. 1
Mr. William Holt. 1
Mr. Allen Jones. 1
Mr. Thomas White. 1
Mr. John Pearson. 1
Mr. Hillsman Thomas. 1
Mr. John Bower. 1
Mr. Thomas Burroughs. 1
Mr. Will. Mitchell. 1
Mr. John Davis. 1
Mr. Richard Limehouse, junior. 1
Mr. Richard Coventon. 1
Mr. Charles Freeman. 1
Mr. Will. Stroud. 1
Mr. Joseph Stroud, junior. 1
Mr. Will. Gill. 1
Mr. James Martin. 1
Mr. Joseph Wootton. 1
Mr. Charles Yeatman. 1
Mr. Anthony Roberts. 1
Mr. Hansford Hill. 1
Mr. Robert Harrison. 1
Mr. Thomas Mansfield. 1
Mr. Savage Hooker. 1
Mr. Edward Mansfield. 1
Mr. John Mansfield. 1 3
Mr. Edward Parish. 1
Hon. Robert Burwell’s Rachel. 1 227
Deduct 2 Constables.
£. s. d.
225 40 10 11¼
T. £. s. d.
235 42 6 11¾
326 58 14 11½
321 57 16 11¼
225 40 10 11¼
1107 199 9
By avoiding the nicety of Fractions. 10
£.200 0 0

Remarks on the above Dividend.

The poor Slaves, the White Servants, such as have no Tithables, such as are excused paying Tithes on account of their Poverty, all which answer to the poor and labouring People in other Countries, come in for no share in this Dividend.

The Poor, who have an annual Allowance of Tobacco from the Parish for the Maintainance of themselves, and other poor Persons, the Clerk of the Church and the Sexton, are so far from coming in for any share in the above Dividend, that they lose two thirds of their stated Allowance, as well as the Parson, being proportionably affected by the Act.

One would think, that in a Project for the Benefit of the Poor, the Poorer any Man was, the greater Share he should have in the Benefit of the Project. But here every thing is just the reverse; the Poorer the Man is, the less share he has in the Benefit of the Project. And such a degree of uniformity runs through the Scheme, that the very poorest sort of Free People, instead of being Sharers in the Benefit of the Project, are Sharers and Fellow-sufferers in the Detriment of the Project. To squeeze the Clergy for the advantage of the Poor, is like robbing Peter to pay Paul. However it would be no little Satisfaction to the Clergy if the Poor had the Advantage.

The first Class of Persons enumerated, consisting of one Half of the Vestry, share £ 42 6 11¾. The second Class, composed of such as have under Twenty Tithables (except One of them who has more) and not less than Ten, that is, of such who have none of them perhaps less than Eight Slaves, besides their Lands and other Property, run away with £ 58 14 11½. Here is above Half the Sum to be sure very Charitably disposed of. The third Class, being Persons who have none of them less than Five Tithables, are allotted £ 57 16 11¼. And Edition: current; Page: [1748] to the Class, among whom such Poor People are included as are intitled to a Part in this Charity, is left £ 40 10 11¼: In this last Class, and even among such as have but one Tithable in my Parish, are comprehended, Persons who have large Possessions in other Parishes; Merchants whose Fortunes lie in Trade; Substantial Tradesmen and young Persons Storekeepers, who are above receiving the Donation of three shillings and seven Pence farthing at my Hands: Nor would any of the poorest People in my Parish, I think I can venture to answer for them, desire me to lose Two Hundred Pounds Sterling, that they might save three shillings and seven Pence farthing, or double, or treble, or quadruple that Sum. In short it may appear plainly from hence, to such as will be pleased to open their Eyes, that if Ten Pounds had been properly distributed among the real poor and necessitous or distressed in my Parish, it would have had more effect towards Relieving such real poor and necessitous or distressed, than the Two Hundred disposed of as above. And if the Parson either would not, or could not, afford to give the said Ten Pounds, would it have been any mighty Burden upon the Shoulders of the whole Parish, to whom the Care and Maintainance of the Poor properly belong, and not to the Parson alone.

Compare what the Poorest receive, with what goes to the Richest, and you will find, that the one does not get so many six pences as the other does pounds. Now can it be looked upon in any other Light than as a very severe Tax upon Charity, to oblige a Man for every Six-pence he bestows upon the Poor, to give Forty Times as much to the Rich? In a word, if any Man can discover any Justice, Charity, Benefit to the Community, Sense or Reason in this Project, which is not infinitely over-balanced by contrary effects, I say no more, but let him stand forth and endeavour with all his might, to make it appear; whether he chuse by fair Argumentation to Confront me at the Bar of Reason; or by impertinent Abuse, antiquated Maxims, confident Assertions, imaginary impossible Cases, inconsistent Notions, sneaking Chicanery and voluminous Nonsense, to Summon me before the Tribunal of Folly. It is an easy matter to gloss over Vices with the Names of Virtues, and vice versa to blacken Virtues with the Titles of Vices; which is the chief Art, that I find used by the Two Pamphleteers.

Permit me to conclude this my first Series of Remarks, with commenting on a fundamental Passage of Col. Carter’s; which should have stood at the beginning of his Piece. For from this Root naturally issue all the rest of his Tenets and smart Sayings, as so many legitimate Branches.

The Country is in the general Poor, and may be said to have been so, for some Time past; because the Crops do seldom more, if so much, as Edition: current; Page: [1749] balance the Disbursements of the Year: The cause of this is immaterial in the case, as that must Rest solely on the immediate Poverty; and let the Cause of that Poverty be what it will, as it cannot be instantly cured, it will make nothing against the Argument.

I cannot enough admire the propriety of Conduct in this Writer; who, having Sentiments to offer to the Public which cannot be cover’d with too thick a Veil, usually takes care to wrap them up Warm in a Cloudy Diction: And thereby makes it necessary for his Opponents to be at some pains in dragging his enveloped Notions into the Light, before they can be properly exposed. When this Operation has been duly performed by the thinking Reader upon the above Passage, he will discover the Notion lurking in it to be no other than this, that when a certain Number of Gentlemen have contracted Debts, which it is inconvenient for them to Pay, as exceeding the Ability of their present Running Cash, though this should have happened by means of the worst Extravagancies, no matter; it would be the highest degree of Cruelty and Unreasonableness of the ordinary Creditor, to expect any thing from such Debtors, much more to be so unpolite as to think of breaking in upon their Estates, or disturbing the Symetry of their elegant Moveables. From whence, when we advert to the Subject which this judicious Writer is upon, easily flows this Consequence, that it is very Pious and Charitable, when Occasion serves, to withdraw the Revenues of a Church aiming to come at a moderate Provision, establish’d in the firmest manner by Law, and bestow them towards feeding the voracious and insatiable Gaming Table, and thereby discharging, like Gentlemen, the Debts of Honour, improperly so call’d, if not to be esteem’d of most dignity. All which may be dexterously performed; provided the Superstition of the middling Frugal, and some of the poorer Ranks be quieted, by giving them a share in the Advantages of this profitable Doctrine, proportionable to their Circumstances: It being Hoped, that the boasted Respect of such for the Church and Clergy will not always amount to the value of Twenty Shillings; when that of their Superiors may be sometimes bragged of for Rising so high, as to gratify an Hungry and obliging Parson with a good Dinner; which is, what I suppose Col. Bland chiefly means by that general good Reception given to Clergymen of good Behaviour; and is consonant to the printed Boast of Col. Carter, concerning the Encouragement bestow’d on the Learned in the Profession of Physick; when he tells us the Labourers in that Vineyard have the Honour of being occasionally admitted to a share Edition: current; Page: [1750] in the Delicacies of a plentiful Table. Col. Carter has shewn more Judgment in suppressing part of the Apostle’s Account of Charity, than in giving us what he has quoted. For had he given the Apostle’s account unmutilated, the Reader must have seen that Charity vaunteth not itself, and that a Man may not only give away what belongs to another, but even every thing of his own, without having Charity. The Proverbial Account of Charity, which informs us, that it begins at Home, would have been more for the Colonel’s Purpose, than the Apostle’s Account. And if he could have proved that it ends too where it begins, his Point I think would have been fully carried.

Miscellaneous Remarks.

I have met with two very credible Accounts, of the Number of Hogsheads of Tobacco, shipped in the scarce Year to Britain; one of them an imperfect one amounting to about Twenty five Thousand Hogsheads, the other Thirty five Thousand. Comparing either of these Numbers of Hogsheads shipped, and the Price Sold at in the Colony that Year, with those of any other Year, you may prove that the scarce Crop was one of the most valuable Crops that ever was raised in Virginia. Any Inconvenience or Distress then that could arise to the Inhabitants, could not arise from the Smallness but from the Unevenness of it alone. And supposing, that in such a Case, the Assembly are to interpose and rectify the unequal Distributions of Providence; how are they to proceed to Act Justly? Are they to take from all the Gainers by the scarcity, and especially the Rich, and distribute what is thus collected among the poor Sufferers only: Or are they to take from some of the least and poorest Gainers, and let all the Rich and chiefest Gainers come in for the largest Share of the Contributions with the Sufferers. If it be argued, that the proper Distinction could not have been made; then there should have been none made: For an improper one could not answer the End proposed, nor any good end whatsoever, except it be a good one, to leave Things worse than we find them by increasing that very Inequality, which we pretend to be desirous of removing. But it is denied, that a proper Distinction could not have been made. For every one, who knows that there are Warehouses in the Country, to which the Tobacco must be carried for Inspection, before it be Shipped, also knows, that what Tobacco every Man brought thither could have been ascertained to the utmost Nicety. And if Edition: current; Page: [1751] the Persons, who engaged in so delicate a matter, as that of Property must needs be to a British Subject, would not take the necessary pains to do it as it ought to be done, to give general Satisfaction: I repeat it, that I am one of those who assume the Liberty to think, that they had better not have Meddled at all in so Nice a Business.

If there be not above Eighty Parishes in Virginia, as I believe there is not, at least there never has been above that Number filled at one Time, the whole Tobacco coming to the Clergy, amounts to Twelve Hundred and Eighty Hogsheads, of a Thousand Weight each; and if the Crop ever fall so low as to Twenty five Thousand and Sixty Hogsheads, they will be entitled to one Twentieth Part of the Crop, but when it rises to Sixty Thousand Hogsheads, they will not be entitled to so much as a Fortieth: Nay their Proportion will be a good deal less in either of these Cases; because the Hogsheads in general are much above a Thousand Weight each, for what I know, Twelve Hundred, one with another. If there be One Hundred and Twenty eight Thousand Tithables in the Colony, the Income of the whole Clergy will come to Ten Pounds of Tobacco per Poll; one Third as much per Poll as is paid to the Clergy in Maryland. By the above reckoning a Parish at a medium contains Sixteen Hundred Tithables; and the poor Men, who have each of them one Tithable to pay for, throughout the Colony, when the Sum of Two Hundred Pounds Sterling are taken from the Parson, save one with another two shillings and six Pence. If in some Parishes such a poor Man saves Five Shillings, or upwards, in other Parishes again, to make up the balance, the poor Man must save but one shilling and three pence, or under. In a good common Year, when the Parson’s Salary amounts to One Hundred Pounds Sterling, the poor Men, who have one Tithable to pay for, pay, towards the said Salary, one shilling and three pence Sterling, upon an Average. Add to all this, that Tobacco, in which the Clergy are paid, is no Necessary of Life, that it is but One Article of Commerce, though the Chief one, out of Many. These Things consider’d, I hope Col. Carter, for whom my present Pains are principally intended, will be induced to think, the Colony well secured from any exorbitant Demands of the Clergy; whatever may be their Ambitious or Covetous Designs: And will in particular be able to Conquer his excruciating Apprehensions for the Fate of the Tithe Pig. There is often a Cry about the Scarcity of Transfer Tobacco to pay the Clergy and other Creditors with, even in Years of Plenty: What does this arise from? not from the Scarcity of the Crop, in proportion to the Demands Edition: current; Page: [1752] upon it, but from other well-known Causes. The Gentlemen Ship their whole Crops, and depend upon Purchasing Transfer Tobacco, to discharge their Tobacco Debts with; others follow the Example of their Superiors, and sell their whole Crops with the same Dependence; and when by this Management Transfer Tobacco becomes Dear, the Collectors and Sheriffs are blamed for taking high Prices: The payment of the Clergy is retarded to their great Damage on various Accounts, and they are at last rewarded for a Forbearance, in itself very hurtful to them, with worse Tobacco a great deal, than must have been paid them, had it been paid in Legal Time. If it be consider’d how much more it takes here, than in many Parts of England, to enable a Clergyman to live and appear decently; to employ himself suitably to his Station; to do his Duty in an extensive Parish; and to provide for his Family: His Income would, on a fair estimation, be perhaps thought inferior to that of a Fifty Pounds a Year Curacy in the Mother Country. It is well known, that the Stipend, one Year with another, or compar’d with that of many inferior employments, is a very small Provision; otherwise more Persons in Virginia, where Learning is cheap, would give their Sons a proper Education for the Church; and there would have been no Occasion for a late Proposal in the Assembly, to raise a little Fund to be distributed, by way of a Bounty, for encouraging young Natives, duly qualified, to enter into Holy Orders. There are many of the Clergy, who have served here a great Number of Years, that, if they had receiv’d their Legal Dues as the Law stood, without the interposition of the Two-penny Act, could have done no more with them than discharge their arrears on the Books of the Merchants; and might now be glad to give up the Sum in debate, provided the present Assembly, out of their Compassion for unhappy Debtors, would enable them to Pay those Debts, which the late Assembly, out of a like Compassion, depriv’d them of an Opportunity to Discharge; not to go farther than my next Neighbours for Instances of this kind; what Reasonableness or Expediency could there be in taking Ten or Twenty Pounds from Mr. Davis and his Family, consisting of a Wife and eleven Children; to bestow this Sum in Charity on Col. William Digges, possessed of above an Hundred Slaves, and Lands proportionable; or from Mr. Warrington and his Family; to bestow a Charitable Gift on Persons of Col. Hunter’s or Col. Cary’s immense Fortunes and Opportunities of Advantage. Nay, to confess a serious Truth, I believe I should myself, who am a single Man, have grown Old in the Service, and lately expected Mountains of Riches and Preferment from the Edition: current; Page: [1753] profitable Employments, conferr’d upon me by my Opulent and Powerful Brethren, according to the sollicitous and public Spirited Apprehensions of certain profound Politicians, thoroughly acquainted with Mankind, should lose nothing by the compensation mentioned. Of such Persons as these Col. Carter complains for not being eminently Charitable; that is, for not Founding Colleges; or not rivalling him in Ostentatious* Charity Schools; or not being liberal in Donations to the Rich and Wealthy. In which he just Acts the part of one, who, after being at great Pains to dry up the Source, should rationally wonder why the Stream does not flow; Yes and overcome it’s Banks, and spread it’s Waters to quench the thirst of the soil adjacent, all round about to no little Distance. I cannot but think, that, if he had a Mill to erect, or a piece of Ground to prepare for a Meadow, our Author’s notions would take another Course, and run in a quite different Channel.

I will not say, as Col. Carter does, it is no matter how I became Poor; I must be reliev’d by Charity; or rather I must have my legal Dues; That therefore my numbering myself among some of the poorest of the Clergy, who confessedly have had less advantages for improving their Circumstances than myself, may not be imputed altogether to that Want of Oeconomy, and an extravagant Way of Living too fashionable in the Colony. I will endeavour to give some other Account of it, besides the smallness of the Provision at the best for the Clergy. I was out near Two Hundred Pounds Current Money, to be valued by the Exchange as it stood some Years ago, in Damages sustained on my Glebe, for want of Necessaries to make it properly mine, and in providing the said necessaries against future ravages; for which I never desired any return. It has cost me a considerable Sum out of my own Pocket, in contending to make other Professors, as well as myself, useful at the College, in endeavouring to obtain for them, so much Command over their Pupils, and the Servants of the College, as is necessary for the Education of the former; and that the Masters may not be deprived, without a Hearing Edition: current; Page: [1754] for no Crime alledged, but that of Sickness, or that of not contradicting any Law of the Society. This I may perhaps take some other Opportunity to enlarge upon for the information of the Reader. I have had some Losses by Sea, my Tobacco having been sometimes taken by the Enemy; and it never enter’d into my Head, that the Assembly, or any Body else, were to make up the Damage to me; but I thought it my Duty to bear the cross Accidents of Life without repining. I have made these Pleas, as not desiring to be thought either ashamed or proud of my Poverty; though, of the Two, I would rather chuse to have Occasion for the latter, than the former. When Poverty is brought upon us by our own Fault intirely, or moves us to mean behaviour under it, we have Reason to be ashamed of it; it is truly disgraceful. There is no knowing how a Man would Act in the last Extremity; but I think I should suffer a great deal before I could be too importunate for Relief; much more, before I could take upon me the Character of a Sturdy Beggar, and, like my two Rich Opponents, most unmercifully Abuse those, who are confessedly unwilling to bestow their Charity upon me, after I had first taken care to get enough from them to satisfy my present need, without asking their consent or being beholden to their good will. It is amazing, that these Writers should not be aware, that the Clergy may, with more Reason, urge the Plea of Poverty for obtaining their just and legal Dues to the uttermost Farthing, than these Writers can plead Poverty for the rest of the Community, for the Rich as well as the Poor, but particularly the Rich, to justify the withholding from the Clergy, their just and legal Dues, and transferring them to the greatest Gainers by that Scarcity, of which there has been so many exaggerated Descriptions, and so much ill-grounded Complaint.

I am no less astonished at Col. Bland’s casting the Conduct of Archbishop Laud in our Teeth; and not forgetting to compare us to Romish Inquisitors; and this too for secret Machinations; though he knows every Thing that passes among us, and more too, than I am with Col. Carter’s seeming to dread some design upon his Tithe Pig. Had the former but just reflected upon his own Practice of Officiating as a Clergyman, in the Churches of the Parish, wherein he makes the most Conspicuous Figure; on his Reading the Public Prayers, and Delivering Sermons there, he might have found a fitter Parallel for the present State of the Virginia Clergy in the Time of Cromwell’s Preaching Colonels, than in that of the Reign preceding; and, that a professed Friend of the Church of England should even betray a wish to see the Clergy of it Lower, who are already unable to secure either their small Edition: current; Page: [1755] Stipends or their Office from invasion, not to mention the illiberal Freedom with which their private Characters are Traduced, is a moderately striking Phoenomenon in this Region. It is to be sure happy for us to have Laymen, who are not only infallible Judges of a Clergyman’s Duty and Merit, but can perform such eminent Parts of his Office as well as himself; because, where this is the Case, there is the less Occasion to provide a good Maintainance for the Clergy, or for being punctual in paying their appointment whether it be great or little; the Office being by the same Means preserv’d from that Contempt, which justly falls upon the Person of the Minister. Yet if a Parson was to go into a Muster-Field, and take upon him to Exercise the Colonel’s Troop, in the Colonel’s absence, I make no doubt but such an Impropriety would be loudly condemn’d as an heinous Offence and unseemly Usurpation.

Col. Bland, I think, speaks pretty plain in comparing the Prerogative of the Crown of Great-Britain to the King of Babylon’s Decree, in that Topick of his Encomium on the Governor, where he judiciously extols him for not letting the People feel the Weight of the Prerogative; but chiefly with Respect to my present Subject in his maxim of Salus Populi est Suprema Lex, for I cannot bring it any other way to suit his Purpose than by construing it thus, Salus Populi, to take as much as shall be thought necessary, and as often as thought necessary from the Incomes of the Clergy, and dispose of it chiefly among the Rich and Wealthy and Successful, and not quite excluding all of the Poorer and Distressed sort from their share in the Booty, est Suprema Lex, is a Law of the first obligation, and therefore must take place of any Law confirm’d by the Crown: This maxim was advanced, though somewhat differently interpreted, to suit a far different Occasion, at the glorious Revolution, to which we owe innumerable Blessings. It was then produced for setting aside an arbitrary Popish and Abdicating King; and now it is prostituted towards setting aside the useful Authority of our late and present most just and benevolent Sovereigns; but tho’ it was Apposite and Rightly used for the former Purpose, I hope it will never be available for the latter, or come to be esteem’d suitable to any Occurrence that can arise from a short and valuable Crop of Tobacco: When the Clergy think themselves aggriev’d by any Thing done here, and seek a Remedy for the supposed Grievance, by Methods which they are advised are legal and free for British Subjects to use, under apparent Injury, a great Cry is industriously propagated against the Clergy; representing them as disturbers of Government and Factious Edition: current; Page: [1756] contemners of Authority. So far all goes well; and while it is kept in this Key, the Song of Authority is sweet and ravishingly Delectable; but if it happen to be taken a Note higher, then the Musick becomes altogether harsh and dissonant. If the Clergy appeal to Authority, and pretend that Authority as well as Equity declares on their side of the Question, if they talk of the King’s Power and Authority, then truly they are warned of the Danger of the Prerogative; are put in Mind what dreadful Feats it perform’d among our Ancestors; are carried into Asia, into the most despotick Regions and most antient Times, to be shewn the Scenes of Terror exhibited by the Decrees of the Kings of Babylon; as if any Thing of a similar Nature was to be apprehended in these Days, under such Sovereigns as we are and have long been blest with; to whose singular concern and tenderness for the Happiness of their People, we are bound in the strongest ties of Gratitude, and, to whose Decision no one, who has any Opinion of the Uprightness of his Cause, or sincerely desires, that Right may take place, need to be afraid of Appealing. Methinks there is some inconsistency in this Conduct of those who differ from us on this Occasion, of Men, who seem to be rigid Exactors of Attention and Obedience to Authority, while she builds and feathers her Nest in Shrubs and Bushes: But Advocates for the softest indulgence and remissness, when she mounts higher and utters her Voice from the Top of the British Oak. However, be that as it will, I frankly confess my Sentiments to be, that if we could destroy the substance of the King’s Power, or the Rights of the Crown, or the Prerogative, I care not what you call it, and reduce it to a mere Shadow, to something that has no Weight, is not to be felt, we should only hereby Sap one of the strongest Batteries, erected for the defence of Liberty and Property. My Enemies are welcome to make the most of this Confession; but if my Brethren should entertain the same Sentiments, whatever may be the Opinion of Col. Bland, and his Adherents, gather’d from former Times and distant Governments which have no Resemblance with ours, I hope they will permit us to take Shelter in our Distress, under the Wings of the Prerogative; under the Protection of a most Gracious and Religious Monarch, eminently and illustriously attach’d to the true Interests and Felicity of his Subjects.

But Col. Bland allows, that nothing except the most pressing Necessity could excuse the Passing such an Act, as that which chiefly prompted our Complaint and his rambling Declamation, as contrary almost in every Instance to the Truth, as it is foreign to the Purpose: And if Col. Bland will Edition: current; Page: [1757] stick to this, I think all that is worth debating about, between us, is at an End; for it must appear, from what I have already offer’d to the Public, not only, that such an Act was Unnecessary, but that the Nature of Things do not admit of a possibility for such an Act to be necessary. For how, in the Name of Wonder, can any Calamity, tho’ set off with all the aggravations of Col. Bland’s fruitful Pen, make it Necessary to take from the Poor and Needy, and distribute the principal part of what is so taken, among the Rich and Wealthy; nay, among the Gainers by that very Calamity? That the Clergy are, and must be, Poor, I will borrow a Proof from Col. Bland, who says, that they never generally receiv’d for one Year, so much as an Hundred and Forty-four Pounds Current Money a piece: And that they, who were to be Benefited by the Detriment of the Clergy, are chiefly the Rich and Wealthy, and many of them great Gainers by the Calamity, has been sufficiently shewn already. This Point needs no farther illustration. However, take the following: If there had been a Proposal for an Indulgence to such as were used to raise Tobacco to pay their Levies with, and could not raise it in the Scarce Year, that they might be excused from paying any Thing that Year, provided they should be obliged to pay the full Value next Year, according to the Price which the Clergy had actually sold the rest of their Income at, in the scarce Year; would not the Clergy have agreed to this? Was not this, or something like this, all that could be Necessary? And if so, could the Act which went so much farther, be Necessary? If there should be some Necessity for departing a little from the establish’d Rule of Right, as Col. Bland Justly calls it, Can there be any Necessity for going Beyond the Demands of Real Necessity? Yes, says the Colonel, we did not chuse the tedious employment of inquiring too minutely into the Real Necessity, it was difficult to make every body, who was advantaged by it, pay to the relief of it; there was a Lion in the Way; and therefore, to save Time and Trouble, it was necessary to go beyond the Demands of Real Necessity, as far as, in what Manner, and for what Purposes, we pleased. He might as well say, that when he wants a Coat for a Pigmy, he will direct his Taylor to take Measure of a Giant: Or, that in such a Situation, he will order Cloth enough for a Giant, lest the Taylor should complain for want of Cabbage. And why not? when the Cloth is not only to cost him Nothing, but he is also to go Snacks with the Taylor in the Cabbage. However, they who suffer by such severe attacks upon the Cloth, cannot help wishing, that he would be more sparing of it; and may well take up the speech of the poor Frogs in the Fable, who could not pop Edition: current; Page: [1758] their Heads above Water with safety, and tell the pelting Boys, This is Sport to you, Young Gentlemen, but it is Death to us.

But let us try what can be made of this always suspicious Plea of Necessity; this Plea, constantly used in unjustifiable Cases, when nothing else can be said; this Plea, upon which Col. Bland rests his whole Defence. Let us try, I say, what can be made of it, when admitted for Argument’s sake in the utmost Extent that Col. Bland can desire. Col. Bland allows, that an Act, interfering with one confirm’d by the King, and passed without a suspending Clause, can be justify’d by the most pressing Necessity alone. Four Acts complain’d of, agree in the peccant Circumstance and the justifying Occurrence, by which alone according to him such Acts can be justify’d, is urged only in behalf of one of them; and it is not so much as pretended, that it is applicable to more of them. This Plan of Defence therefore proves three Acts out of four totally unjustifiable. And what can this most pressing Necessity signify towards exculpating the fourth, when we resume our first position and deny it not only to have had a real, but a possible Existence? What Necessity was there for Passing the Norfolk and Princess-Ann Act, or the Act for the Frontier Parishes without a suspending Clause? What Necessity was there for the general Act, which affected the whole Clergy in 1755; by which several suffered, and one in particular was defrauded of about Twenty Pounds by the Collector, who received Tobacco from the People and paid off the Parson in Money, as the Act directed; and who was therefore in Col. Bland’s mild, moderate, and decent Stile, a Beast of Prey; a Harpy left to feed on the Vitals of the poor Parson without controul. There was just as much Necessity for all this, as there was for stinting the price of Corn at Twelve shillings and Six pence a Barrel; which all the Year afterwards did not sell higher than at Ten Shillings. In Truth, the late Assembly, being fallible, as well as other Societies of Men, have frequently suffer’d themselves to be imposed upon by frightful Descriptions of approaching Scarcity; which may serve as a Warning to their Successors against too hasty credulity concerning Accounts of the Crop, at a Time when it cannot certainly be known how it will turn out.

Col. Bland seems displeased that the Clergy should complain of the particular Acts agreeable he says to the Ministers concerned (how far they were so we shall see by and by) as well as of the general Acts. I will therefore let him know how these particular Acts came to be taken Notice of by the Body of the Clergy. When some of them applied to Governor Dinwiddie to beseech a Negative on the General Two Penny Act in 1755, he, readily Edition: current; Page: [1759] condemning the Act, as contrary to Law, Justice, and his Instructions, at first Approved of their Petition, and finally gave no Reason for Rejecting it (besides his Fear of Displeasing the People) but that the Act confirm’d by the Crown had been already broken through by the particular Acts: And for a Proof of this, he was pleased to call in Col. Tucker of Norfolk, as an Evidence: The Clergy hereupon took this Matter into consideration, and found the particular Acts not only grievous in their own Nature, but used as steps and precedents for injuring the whole Clergy. I have charged Col. Bland with the want of Truth and Ingenuity in many Instances; to Trace out every one of which would carry me farther than there is any need to go on this Occasion; however, that I may not appear to have made this Charge without sufficient Reason, I shall single out a few Capital ones: The first that I shall mention, concerns a Matter of Fact asserted in the most positive manner, as thus, “I myself have heard the Minister of Norfolk (who lives in great Harmony with his Parishioners, and is much Esteem’d and Respected by them) declare,” he was perfectly satisfied with it (the Norfolk Act) “and I believe it would be no difficult Matter to prove, that he fell under the severe censure of these Memorialists because he refused to enter into their Measures.” To which, I answer, I myself have heard the same Minister, since the Publication of this confident Assertion, Declare before Evidences, that he did not know there was any such Act as the above in Agitation, ’till long after it had been Passed; and, that from the Moment in which it came to his Knowledge, he always expressed an utter Dislike of it. I myself have heard one of this Minister’s Parishioners, a Person of undoubted Credit, as well as the Minister, declare, that to his Knowledge, this Minister had always expressed his strong Dislike of the Act. And I myself also declare, that I believe it would be a very difficult Matter, for Col. Bland to prove, that this Minister, deservedly esteem’d and respected by his Parish, was ever severely censured by any Memorialists for not entring into their Measures. The Ministers, concerned in the other particular Act, might, for what I know, be well satisfied with it. But why? Because they, or their Predecessors, had been before contented to take the poor pittance of Fifty Pounds Current Money a Year from their respective Parishes, rather than go to Law, of which they were not able to bear the Expence. And pray where now was the Wonder, that they should prefer a lesser to a greater Evil? Col. Bland has given us some Account of a famous Petition of the Clergy, in which I own I see no mighty Harm, provided it might stand Alone, without the Colonel’s Edition: current; Page: [1760] Comment. Had it been offer’d in the Behalf, instead of being offer’d in the Name, of the Clergy, they would have had less Cause to be offended at it. I could have wish’d too, that it had been so nicely Worded, as not to have been liable to be interpreted into any implied Censure by the most strained Construction: Particularly that there had not been in it the doubtful Expression so many, which is capable of being taken by two Handles; the worst of which this Commentator has not fail’d to lay hold on. This Petition, he says, was disclaimed by some of the Clergy. It was indeed disclaimed by many of them; but not for the Reason he mentions. It was not Owned by any more than One Clergyman, who designed Well; but, whether he was strictly justifiable in doing what he did on this Occasion I will not determine. No more than two Clergymen were privy to this Petition; and one of them had scarce Time to Read it over, it having been only shewn him in the Lobby immediately before it was presented. Be all this as it will, the Petition must be Argued upon, as if it had been the Petition of the Body; tho’ at other Times such of the Clergy, as think proper to attend the regular Summons of the Bishop’s Commissary, must not expect to pass with Col. Bland for that Body; no not when almost all the absent Members send excuses for the want of their Appearance, together with their Concurrence in the Measures proposed by their Brethren. It is Matter of pleasantry to observe concerning this vilified Petition, that the Author of it did not prefer it from any Imagination that there was Room to expect Success in it, but to evince the contrary by Experiment, to such as might be weak enough to entertain a Notion of Success in this way at that Time. This is a Piece of secret History, a Stratagem, a Machination, which it seems Col. Bland, with all his Sagacity and Insight into every body’s Affairs has not been able to penetrate. And though it may seem not altogether fair and quite contrary to the known Openness and Sincerity of the Person I am speaking of: Yet, if it was proper to dwell any longer on this Circumstance, a very good Account might be given of it. But thus much Col. Bland might have known, if he pleased, that it was not the Petition of the Clergy; for most of the Assembly knew this a Day or two after it’s Presentation; and were first offended at such a Petition from the Clergy, and afterwards chagrin’d to find that it did not come from the Clergy. Part of the charge on this Petition is a generous Inference drawn from it, that if the Provision for the Clergy was to be made better by an Act they would make no complaints concerning encroachments Edition: current; Page: [1761] on the Authority of the King. To make this Inference good, it should have appear’d in the Petition that the Clergy wanted a better Provision by an Act without a suspending Clause. But there is no such Thing in the Petition: And I believe it would be a difficult Matter, for Col. Bland to prove, that the Clergy, though willing enough to have a better Provision, would accept of it by means of an Act without a suspending Clause. However this way of Arguing is an Acknowledgment from Col. Bland, that in his Opinion the Clergy would not have complained of any Act, had their Condition not been made worse by it: Yet he says of the Assembly, they did not attempt or even entertain a thought of abridging the Maintainance of the Clergy. This Man knows every body’s Thoughts; not only beyond, but even contrary to, their professions. For it cannot be forgot, that every body declared their expectations of Forty Shillings a Hundred for their Tobacco, at the Time when Sixteen Shillings and Eight pence a Hundred were prescribed to the Clergy; nor that several of the Members publickly threaten’d, that if the Clergy would not be content with Two pence a Pound, they should very soon be compell’d to take a penny a Pound, nor that a much less price than Sixteen Shillings and Eight pence a Hundred was put to Vote in the House of Burgesses; nor that some one of the Members cried out for Five Shillings a Hundred, whether this last Person was a Friend or a Foe it Matters little, since either way it shews his Opinion of what was then a doing.

I hope there is no Occasion to enter into any more particular refutations of what is affirmed by this Writer. If it was in Character for me to return his own civil and temporate and genteel Language upon him, I should say this rude, infatuated, atrocious Writer; this utterer of palpable Falshoods, who, if he can but carry the Ends of a Hot and Violent Demagogue with the People despises the scandal of Detection; whose unpunished Behaviour alone is a sufficient proof of the Mildness of the Administration, (at least how far some Men are freely permitted to go with Impunity: Nay with no small Share of Applause in the Abuse of others) with all the rest of his hurly burly vociferous verbosity, applicable to no Creature living, more than to Himself; not excepting his Brother Brawler (to compliment him too in a kind of Language, which he loves to use) that Boreas of the Northern Neck, who has bluster’d so long and so hard, to blow down, if he could, all the Professions, and reduce his Country to a primitive State of Barbarity; and when he cannot bring his Friends and Neighbours to Edition: current; Page: [1762] join in this ennobling Project, with singular Moderation, Humility and Charity, Bellows out, O Northern Neck! Opprobrium Judaicum!4 No good can come out of Nazareth.

There is one Observation in Col. Bland’s Pamphlet, not altogether destitute of Truth and Sense, and ’twere a Sin to rob him of his Mite. This is concerning the Patronage of Livings. The Clergy knew, that some Persons piqued themselves upon a Point carried against them in the Law of 1748, with the approbation of the Bishop’s Commissary. They consider’d the Laws and did not find the Presentation to Livings mentioned before that Law. They procured this Matter to be examin’d by better Heads than their own for such an inquiry; which also fell into the same Mistake. The Reason of which was, that the old Law by which the Presentation to Livings is placed in the Vestries so long ago, is not referr’d to in the subsequent Laws. However the Lords of Trade pointed out this old Law; and this Matter was immediately given up as a Mistake: Upon which I must have Leave to wish, that every Body else were as ready to part with their Errors, when detected, as the Clergy, who do not pretend to be Infallible, nor allow Infallibility in other Men; neither are they willing to be Governed, whatever Col. Bland may insinuate, by any Popes either Ecclesiastical ones or Civil ones. I wish too, that the two Pamphleteers would have rested satisfied to leave the Difference between them and the Clergy, in the Hands of the ordinary Courts of Justice; of the Right Honourable the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations; of the most Honourable the Privy Council, and his most Gracious Majesty: Who, if the Clergy had been so weak as to design such an Imposition, cannot be imposed upon by them. When these Writers shall be pleased coolly to consider this; they certainly cannot persist to think that they, who under the Persuasion of suffering a most singular Grievance, a Grievance never heard of in the Mother-Country, appeal to the most disinterested and impartial Judges; to Judges brought up in the true Notions, and nursed in the Bosom of Liberty; and confine themselves within legal Methods of Complaint; that they, I say, are more properly stiled Clamorous, than those, who in inflammatory Harangues, and scurrilous Pamphlets, stuffed with personal Accusation and private Malice, appeal to the common People of Virginia, liable enough (GOD knows) to Imposition, or else such Writers would not attempt to persuade them out of their Senses.

Edition: current; Page: [1763]

I am not ignorant, that others as well as these Writers, have taken Offence at the Clergy for carrying their Complaint to England. I cannot think that any British Subject has Reason to blame another, for making Use of that happy Privilege, which every British Subject enjoys, of approaching the Throne in an humble Petition. However, in the present Case this Measure was unavoidable: The late Commissary was desired to call the Clergy together; that they might meet at the same Time with the Assembly, who, according to Report, were going to pass an Act, in which the Clergy understood themselves to be very much concerned; but the Commissary, not being under the Influence of the Clergy, or in their true Interest, refused this Request: When the Assembly were met, the Speaker was applied to, that some of the Clergy might be heard before a Committee, upon the Bill depending, by themselves or their Counsel; which they imagined was agreeable to Parliamentary Proceedings; the Council were applied to for the same Purpose; the Governor for a Negative on the Bill; all this without any Kind of Success. And now where were the Clergy, thus rejected by every Branch of that Part of the Legislature which resides here, to go, but to the Fountain-head; where they might hope to be heard; where they acknowledge with the most submissive Duty and Gratitude, they were heard; and where they entertain the most pleasing Hopes they still shall be most graciously heard. I will conclude this Paragraph with wishing, that the two Colonels, when they write next, would be pleased to make a Distinction between a loyal Attachment, which was never called in Question, to the present most illustrious Family on the Throne, in Opposition to Popish Pretenders, and an Aversion to lessen the Authority of the reigning Prince; two Things as obviously distinct in their own Nature, as they are manifestly and totally confounded together by these Writers, too rapid with Rage and Rancour to be free from Foam and Froth, and to flow in a gentle and pellucid Stream of Precision.

It has often been urged as an Argument against the Reasonableness of the Clergy’s Complaint, that the Secretary, the Clerks and other Officers of the Law, suffered a greater Loss by the Act than the Clergy: It is granted, that they did so; but two Things are observed at the same Time, which make the Case of these Gentlemen, and that of the Clergy widely different. If they lose more, it is a Proof, that there is a much better Provision made for them than for the Clergy; and they can therefore better afford to lose a great Deal than the Clergy can afford to lose a little. In the other Point, the Clergy have Edition: current; Page: [1764] the Advantage of the Gentlemen of the Law: For the Provision of the latter is Temporary, confessedly changeable by the Assembly alone; and hence a good Reason arises, why it may be Prudence in them to be mute, and make a Merit of their Silence; while it concerns the Clergy to complain; not that they are, or ought to be, more willing than other Men to part with what belongs to them; but for fear the Remedy should prove worse than the Disease. This Account of the Matter is confirmed by a late Attempt of some Gentlemen of the Law, to have their Fees placed upon a better Foundation.

However, if all this was otherwise, I am so far from finding any Consolation in seeing my Neighbour’s Goods taken away from him, as well as my own from me, that I shall always rejoice at the ill Success of the Blow aimed at the Merchants, as one good Effect of the Complaint set a foot by the Clergy, and seconded by the Merchants; even though the Clergy themselves should never be one Penny the better, but much out of Pocket by their Attempt. But at the same Time I own I am at a Loss to know, what good Reason can be given for an Order by the late Assembly, to support all Vestries against the Appeals of the Clergy, and no Order for supporting private Contractors against the Merchants: Since if they were minded to support the Validity of their Act, they should have supported it, one would think, against one Set of Men as well as another. What a Pity it is that the Clergy are not all Good! since in that case, if we may venture to reason from what Col. Bland says of the general Respect paid to well-behaved Clergymen, the Body would not have been thus singled out as the Mark of peculiar Resentment.

I have heard the Word Constitution urged in conversation, as something that the Clergy were endeavouring to Overturn by their Application to legal Methods of Complaint, under their present pretended Grievances; and Col. Bland seems to lean this Way, when he discovers an indignant Fear (Real no doubt) that his Condition was going to be made like that of a Galley Slave in Turkey, or an Israelite under Ægyptian Bondage: How solid by the Bye is this Innuendo! How consistently it comes from such a Disposition (so void of Tyranny and Insolence) as is discover’d in Col. Bland’s Pamphlet. The Colonel if he pleases, may set his Heart at rest, and be assured, that no body desires to see him reduced even to so bad a Condition as that of the Ægyptian Bondage of his own Slaves. But setting aside this ridiculous Intimation, that the Clergy in a contention for Property, the general Property as well as their own, have shewn themselves willing to introduce more Slavery into the Colony than is to be found there at present; if the Argument about the Edition: current; Page: [1765] Constitution be rightly urged; if the Clergy can make a Breach in it by Petitioning the Crown, or having recourse to Courts of Judicature; I am afraid Injustice, under the Name of Charity, Necessity, or some other good-natur’d Term, but by no Means under so ill-sounding a Title as that of Rapacity is like to become Constitutional: And if so, the Clergy cannot possibly have any Provision, but what is totally precarious, not certain or establish’d in any Degree whatsoever, except the mere Will and Pleasure of some, who have been pleased to shew their ill-will, not to Individuals, but to that Body of Men, can merit such an Appellation. I do not know whether it is safe for me to meddle on so nice a Point, in which I may easily Wade out of my Depth: However, I will venture a few Words, not as declaring what is, or what is not, Constitutional, (I leave that to those wiser Heads who are every Day to be met with) but what possibly may be Right; and is so, for any Thing that I know to the contrary; and I will hope that my Ignorance, if I mistake, may be excused by the mildness of the Administration. I have heard that one of the revised Laws, making some Alteration in Land Affairs, because it contradicted a Law confirm’d by the Royal Assent, laid sometime Dormant and Unobserv’d for want of the like Assent. I have Reason to believe, that a power to pass Laws that interfer’d with any confirm’d by his Majesty without a suspending Clause, was never claim’d by the Assembly, till very lately, when they passed several Laws of this kind in respect to the Clergy: And if so, the passing such Laws must appear in the Light of an Innovation; the removal of which must be no less than adhering to, and preserving the Old Constitution. I look not on the Colony as a little independent Sovereignty; but as having a particular Connection with the Mother Country and dependent on the Crown of Great-Britain: And I know not in what this dependence can more properly consist, than in the standing uninterrupted Validity of Laws confirmed by the Crown, until they are Repeal’d or Suspended by the same Authority. I am confirm’d in these Notions by considering, that the Natives, and those who reside here, have the Power and Riches of the Mother Country for their Defence against their Enemies; that they hold their Lands of the Crown; that they have the same Rights in the Mother Country as other British Subjects, that consequently other British Subjects have equal Rights here; that those Subjects, who Trade hither and have considerable Effects here, tho’ residing in Britain, are properly a Part of the Colony, whose Interests must be attended to, as well as that of those who reside here; and that if those, who reside here, could at pleasure suspend Laws Edition: current; Page: [1766] confirm’d by the King, (which seems a Thing of the same Nature with a dispensing Power in the Crown) could dissolve all Contracts; could put every body in the State of Minors under Wardship; rendering them as little able to make Contracts as they are compellable to comply with them when made, could discharge Tenants from the Payment of their Rents and Arbitrarily dispose of every Man’s Property: The Subjects residing in Britain would probably be as unwilling to Trust their Property here, as in any Foreign Kingdom independent of the Crown of Great-Britain. If Dependence be one of our Fundamentals, and such a one as we cannot even subsist without, our Security against our Foes and against one another, it is our Interest and our Business to know wherein it consists, and fulfil the Obligation. Nothing I apprehend is to be got by mistaking our Situation; for whatever we Build on so sandy a Basis, can only serve to Tumble about our Ears and crush us in the Ruins. However I only speak herein my own sense, which I desire to obtrude upon no body. I only hope, that my Adversaries will allow thus much, that in a Dispute between the Authority of the Crown and that of the Assembly, it concerns the Clergy and all loyal Subjects to find out by all legal Methods, what is their Duty, who are their Sovereign Masters, and whom they ought ultimately to Obey. If his sacred Majesty please to give up any Part of his Authority and Royal Prerogative, the Clergy most undoubtedly must submit: But in the mean Time, let them stand excused for wishing to see that, which after the best Information they can get, they esteem a Part of the Constitution equally valuable for supporting Liberty and Property and for Maintaining the Dignity of the Crown inviolably preserv’d.

What should make the two Writers take such unnecessary Pains to shew, that the present Governor had received no pecuniary Gratification from the Assembly at the Time of their Writing, not even the common Compliment, as it is called, they best know; what this has to do with the Subject which they undertake to discuss, must be left to themselves to explain. I do not believe, that any of the Clergy ever imagin’d the Governor to have receiv’d any Reward for passing the Two-Penny Act, except the Pleasure and Satisfaction of Obliging it’s Friends and Promoters. For my own Part, I never suspected that the Governor had receiv’d any Present from the Assembly at the Time when these Gentlemen wrote their Pamphlets; any more, than I now suspect the Present, which he has since receiv’d, on the Motion of one of these Gentlemen, to have any Relation to the Two-Penny Act. If that Present be any Thing more than the usual Compliment, the Excess is not worthy of Notice, not enough Edition: current; Page: [1767] to compensate for it’s inferiority in Point of Time, when compar’d with other Presents of the like Nature. However if the Two-Penny Act should remain as a Precedent, to shew what might Occasionally be taken from the Clergy without the King’s Consent, I cannot say but some of the Clergy would be apprehensive, that future Governors might possibly be influenced by Motives which his present Honour is above; and so a Present, out of the Revenues of the Clergy to other Men, might in Process of Time become as common a Compliment on the arrival of a new Governor, as a Present from the Assembly to the Governor; and I think the very Introduction of such a Topick by my Adversaries before the Public, shews that their Sentiments are not far wide of mine, if I should adopt such an Apprehension.

I am not to learn, that Modesty and Impudence, or in other Words, Rudeness and Politeness, belong more to the Station of Men than to their Behaviour in them; and make no Doubt of falling for the Freedoms I have used, even among many who call themselves British Subjects, under the Imputation of factious Insolence; while my Adversaries are graced with the generous Praise of having demeaned themselves on all Occasions with Temper and Decency. I could have wished indeed, that the Arguments on both Sides might have been considered independent of Names and Situations in Life: But my Adversaries, being Persons of Figure, began the War in such a Manner as to shew, that the doing this would, in their Opinion, be parting with their strong Holds. It is plain enough that they thought it inexpedient to give, and esteemed themselves far above the Apprehension of having Occasion to take Quarter. The Manner of my Defence has perhaps been too much directed by the Conduct of the Attack. I acknowledge that I was at a Loss how otherwise to discharge myself; when in my Judgment I had to do with Hectoring Bullies, more considerable for fierce Language than true Spirit. I found it too great a Difficulty for me to let the Merit of their Example be entirely thrown away. I must therefore now prepare to muster up as much Courage as I can, to stand my Ground: Expecting no other than to be peppered off with Vollies of Small Shot, after having borne the Thunder of the Great Guns, from the Forts of the two Colonels, and perhaps other tremendous Batteries, founded upon boasted Rocks of an impregnable Stability, under the Command of Engineer Reason, as one of the Colonels has it, in a former modest and unanswerable Pamphlet, written to the Merchants of London, and designed for the Information of the Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations. But what Terrors are sufficient to make a free Edition: current; Page: [1768] British Subject cold in the Cause of Common Sense, Common Justice, and Common Honesty, when their Enemies are formidable, and would triumph over them, under Pretence of soaring to superior Heights of Virtue? Such Heights of Virtue as lie hid in the Clouds of an Understanding sanguine enough to make sure of Victory beforehand, and certain to rage under a Defeat, when it cannot bring every other Imagination about it to partake of its Reveries, and embrace Phantoms for Substances. Yet, that I may, if possible, soften the two Colonels, and contribute towards rendering their next Fire less cruel, and such as will not wound me with chewed Bullets; I humbly entreat them to consider, whether they have any Reason to be angry, if I have at last endeavoured to scrape off some of the Dirt, which they threw so liberally, and return it to the right Owners; or, to change the Allusion, for one perhaps as proper, if I have taken out, at last, what they owed me for Cash and Reputation, in their own Way, after giving them the usual long Credit. I hope they will consider, that so far from treating them thus publicly, with too much plain Dealing and Asperity, my Intention was not to answer them at all, any otherwise than by a Trial in the ordinary Courts of Judicature; till I was advised by my Friends, that This was too long a-coming, and the Colonels would have Reason to think themselves neglected. And finally, since I am in the Humour of Hoping, I hope the Colonels will think, that I have been punished enough in sustaining the Reproaches already cast upon me; in missing, as several of the Visitors stick not to affirm, an Election into the President’s Place at the College; in having been forbid, with others, the late Governor’s House, under the Title of Disturbers of his Government; in having been recommended by him, in Conjunction with others, to the Correction of the Grand Jury for being so audacious as to publish under our Names, an Invitation to as many of our Brethren, as were willing to attend, for them to meet us at a Brother’s House, before he left the Country; in having been forbid the present Governor’s Palace, when I waited on him with the Royal Disallowance of several Acts; in enduring, for some Time, an annual Commemoration or Renewal of this Prohibition; and in losing, no Doubt, many good Dinners, as well as agreeable and improving Conversations, both at the Palace and other Places, cum multis aliis quae nunc perscribere longum est.5 All this, which some in my Place would call a Persecution, Edition: current; Page: [1769] but my Temper does not incline me to inflame either my Readers, or my own Resentment, with any Expressions of so sour and aggravating a Cast; all this, I say, has happened to me, for what is called my Obstinacy, but what notwithstanding, I have the Pleasure and Satisfaction of thinking a Regard for Justice, Learning, Religion, Liberty and Property, and the Public Good, unabated by too scrupulous a Concern about what Calumnies might be uttered to my Disadvantage, or what other ill Consequences might follow to myself. A Thought which I shall undoubtedly hold fast and enjoy, as a Fountain of Consolation in my Troubles; until I find better Reasons for parting with it, than have hitherto appeared.

N. B. In looking over the Calculation at the Beginning of this Piece, I find a Mistake. The Assembly’s Allowance of Two pence a Pound was not on nett, but on transfer Tobacco. In consequence of which I have given them Credit for Eight Pounds Sterling less than I ought to have done. My supposed Loss therefore will not amount to Two Hundred Pounds Sterling; but only to One Hundred and Ninety-two Pounds; and a Twenty-fifth Part must also be deducted from the supposed Savings of every Person in the Catalogue. If any one think Fifty Shillings a Hundred for my Tobacco, too high a Rate for the scarce Year; or the Exchange allowed for that Year not high enough; then my Loss will be the less; also the Relief to the Poor and Distressed will be diminished; and the Gain too to the Opulent and Successful will be more moderate; these being all inseparably linked together in one Chain. If there be any other Mistakes in the above Piece, I shall without any Kind of Reluctance, acknowledge myself under Obligations to him, who will bestow the Favour of just Corrections upon them; my chief View in this Undertaking being to have the Matter placed in the truest Light, and determined in the exactest Manner possible. The intelligent Reader will observe, that I have not calculated what ought to be paid me in case of my Recovering; but only my supposed Loss, and the supposed Savings of other Persons, by the Act. I have therefore said nothing of Interest for lying out of my Money, or of the Costs of Suit. If any shall appear hereafter on this Subject; if they shall dismiss all personal Invectives; if they shall forbear Writing in such a Manner, as if they thought the Clergy of Virginia answerable for the Conduct of ROMISH INQUISITORS, &c. because they may be comprised under the same common Name of CLERGYMEN; which is just as if we should reproach particular Laymen, with the Cruelties and Oppression of other Laymen; which is treating Men like Children; and aiming to scare Edition: current; Page: [1770] them with Bugbears, is merely combating the Air, and neither better nor worse than so much of nothing to the Purpose; I say, if this Behaviour, and all other extraneous Reflections shall be avoided, it will cut the Business short, will probably save a great Deal of Ink-shed, and tend to lessen the Increase of Waste-Paper. But if the old Method of Reply shall be chosen, I cannot promise that something of the same Leaven will not diffuse itself through the Mass of the Rejoindre. For this seems necessary, if it be but out of pure Complaisance to the Patterns given by such genteel Opponents, such discreet Adversaries; who understand so well wherein their Strength consists. To be plain and serious; we desire not any Truth, or sound Argument, to be suppressed for our Convenience; but only the trifling Arts of intemperate Declamation.

The Appendix.

The following Letters are Published, to shew, how an ordinary Inhabitant of Virginia, may be run down, even in Print, with all the Appearance of Openness and Intrepidity, in challenging him to an Answer: While he is actually debarred of Using that Privilege, and his not using it, is at the same Time taken for a Confession of the Justice with which he has been censured; the Press being open to Abuse, but not to Disabuse.

John Camm
Camm, John
Joseph Royle
Royle, Joseph

To Joseph Royle, Esq; Keeper of the Public Press.

Dear Sir,

I have been misrepresented and abused from your Press, by Col. Richard Bland, and Col. Landon Carter. The former has challenged me, as to certain atrocious Crimes, which he has been pleased to accuse me of, to make the most public Defence here; where Facts relative to the Dispute between us are already known, or of easy Examination. I have never in the least blamed you for accommodating these Gentlemen with the Use of your Press, to assist them in the above Undertakings; because I judged, that your having done this, would, in your Opinion, lay you under Obligation to grant me the Use of the same Press, whenever I should be moved to answer their Accusations. Which Obligation, if you should refuse to fulfil, you will shew beyond Contradiction, that you want either the Inclination, or the Permission, to keep a Free Press.

I desired the Use of your Press some Time ago, and you told me that the Press was engaged in indispensible Duty for the Present: Which Excuse I Edition: current; Page: [1771] admitted to be reasonable. I now repeat my Request, and beg that you will either publish what I have to say, in my own Vindication, with all possible Dispatch, or else, that you will, in a few Days, give me an entire Refusal to publish. If the former be your Resolution, keep this Letter by you, to shew any who may be inclined to censure you for lending your Press to me, that you could not do otherwise, consistently with your own Honour, or that of the Public. But if you will not publish a Defensive Piece for me, as well as Offensive Ones against me; in that Case, let this Letter at least, appear in your Gazette, to satisfy my Friends and my Foes, that I have been called upon to vindicate myself from the Press here, and have not been permitted to do it here; and that therefore this Letter and the Piece, which is made the Subject of it, will both be published in England. I heartily wish you well, which is all in the Power of

Your real Friend,
Joseph Royle
Royle, Joseph
Aug. 1, 1763
John Camm
Camm, John

To the Reverend Mr. Camm.

Dear Sir,

In Answer to Yours, desiring me to let you know, whether my Press would be open for you, to give a Reply to the Matters alledged against you by Col. Richard Bland and Col. Landon Carter; I cannot help thinking, but it will be the Opinion of every impartial Man, that you have a good Right to expect the same Means of justifying any Instances in your Conduct, which you may think those Gentlemen have misrepresented or abused. You may, therefore, as soon as you please, send your Vindication to the Press; but if there be any Thing in it, which Reflects on the Proceedings of the General Assembly, it would be very imprudent in me, I think, to be concerned in Printing any Animadversions on their Conduct, as I believe every Body will agree in this, that it is my Duty, as Printer to the Public, studiously to avoid giving Offence to the Legislature.

I am, Your most obedient humble Servant,
John Camm
Camm, John
Dear Sir,

I here send you my Piece, and hope you will find no Reason against its Publication. In the mean Time, I depend on your not permitting it to go out Edition: current; Page: [1772] of your Hands. You will find I have said nothing at all of the present Assembly, who are the Legislature; and with regard to the late Assembly, who were, but are not, the Legislature, I have gone no farther than to suppose them fallible Men, and therefore liable to be imposed upon by Misrepresentation. As for Bland and Carter, I have taken more Freedom with them. They have given me a full Right so to do; which, I assure you I should have been better pleased, if they had not given.

Since you acknowledge my Right to publish in my own Vindication; you cannot sure deny, that the Conduct of this Vindication must be left to myself. If, contrary to my Design, I have said any Thing at which just Offence can be taken, it is I, and not you, who must be answerable. Every Body will know, that as you would not prescribe to my Adversaries in what Manner they should treat me, neither could you prescribe in what Manner they should be treated by

Your most humble Servant,
Joseph Royle
Royle, Joseph
Aug. 5, 1763
Dear Sir,

On looking over your Pamphlet, I find it not only a Reply to those of Colonels Bland and Carter, but also intermixed with Satyrical Touches upon the late Assembly, and some Particulars besides. The present Assembly is composed of near the same Set of Gentlemen with the last, so that I am of Opinion what is said against them, if it should Displease, would be taken as ill by this Assembly, as if pointed directly at them; I am far from saying it would give them Offence, nay, I think otherwise; however as there is a Possibility in the Case, it will be most prudent in me not to risk forfeiting their Good-will upon such an Issue, as I cannot but own myself a Dependent upon the House of Burgesses, and the Public in general. I therefore return you your Pamphlet, and can assure you, that Nobody has seen it, as it has not been out of the Hands of

Your very humble Servant,
John Camm
Camm, John
Dear Sir,

I am sorry to find that the Rule of your Press is to publish Satyrical Touches and some Particulars besides by way of a Blow at the Clergy; and to Edition: current; Page: [1773] refuse publishing any Thing, which appears to you, of the like Kind, in a Defence of that Body. Neither does it give me any Pleasure to see, that this Rule is intirely owing to Hope of Advantage from being aiding and assisting to abuse the Clergy; and to Fear arising from a possibility of Harm, should the Clergy be assisted to wipe off that Abuse.

I cannot tell how to reconcile your allowance of my Right to vindicate myself by the means of your Press, and your refusing me the Benefit of that Right, with your professing to think, that what I have written, if published by you, would not have given Offence. Whether any unreasonable Offence would have been taken or not, I cannot tell; no just Offence, in my Opinion, could have been taken. Col. Bland challenged me, to enter openly into a Debate about an Act of the late Assembly; and censured my Behaviour as atrociously Criminal, in relation to that Act: How then could I answer him, without calling the Justice, Reasonableness, and Validity of that Act into Question?

I acknowledge as much Prudence as you please, in the Rule by which your Press is Conducted; but would it not have been Acting more Wisely, by which I mean Fairly and Honestly, either to have published for me Now, or Never to have published against me? Whence has your Office derived a Right to sacrifice any Person’s Reputation to worldly Convenience, or prudential Regards?

I have had an Occasion imposed upon me, to put you, I find, to too severe a Trial; in which you have acted just as some of your Superiors would have done under the like Circumstances. You set, no Doubt, a proper Value upon your Character, which is very amiable in many Points of View; it hurts me to find in one an Exception. In Consideration of it’s standing so clear of every other Blemish, and in Hope that you will take gang warily, in the best Sense of the Expression, for your future Motto, fearing as much to do Injury to the Poor and Impotent, as to do Justice upon the Rich and Mighty, I desire to remain

Your sincere Friend,

It was thought proper to add this last Letter, though it was not sent at the Time of it’s being written, for Reasons of a private Nature.

Edition: current; Page: [1774]

The Virginia Act of Assembly, which gave Occasion to the two Pamphlets, to which the above is an Answer, so far as the Author thought, and perhaps farther than many others will think, there was any Necessity to answer, is here added, that the Original Subject of Altercation between the Antagonists in this Debate, may not be forgotten by their Readers, or lost in the Heat of Contention.

An ACT to enable the Inhabitants of this Colony, to discharge their Public Dues, Officers Fees, and other Tobacco Debts, in Money, for the ensuing Year.

It being evident from the prodigious Diminution of our Staple Commodity, occasioned by the Unseasonableness of the Weather in most Parts of the Colony, that there will not be Tobacco made sufficient to answer the common Demands of the Country, and it being certainly expedient at all such Times, to prevent as much as possible the Distresses that must inevitably attend such a Scarcity; Be it therefore Enacted by the Lieutenant-Governor, Council and Burgesses of this present General Assembly, and it is hereby Enacted by the Authority of the same, That it shall and may be lawful to and for any Person or Persons, from whom any Tobacco is Due, by Judgment for Rent, by Bond, or upon any Contract, or for Public, County and Parish Levies, or for any Secretaries, Clerks, Sheriffs, Surveyors, or other Officers, Fees, or by any other Ways and Means whatsoever, to pay and satisfy the same, either in Tobacco according to the Directions of the Act of Assembly entitled, An Act for amending the Staple of Tobacco, and preventing Frauds in his Majesty’s Customs, or in Money at the Rate of 16s8{p.} for every Hundred Pounds of nett Tobacco, and so in Proportion for a greater or lesser Quantity, at the Option of the Payer. And the Sheriffs, and other Collectors, shall, and they are hereby required to receive the same from Any Person or Persons, in Discharge of any such Levies and Officers Fees. And the Sheriffs, or other Collectors of the Levies and Fees aforesaid, shall Account with and Pay to the Persons entitled to the same, in Proportion to their several Demands, all Tobacco and Money which they shall receive in Payment of such Levies and Fees, which shall discharge such Sheriffs and Collectors from any other Demands for such Levies and Fees, any Law to the contrary thereof notwithstanding. Provided always, That nothing herein contained shall extend, or be construed to extend, to any Public County, or Parish Edition: current; Page: [1775] Levies, or Officers Fees, now due, or hereafter to become due, in any County where by Law the Inhabitants of such County are now impowered to discharge the same in Money. Provided also, That nothing herein contained shall extend to any Contract made for Tobacco before the Passing of this Act, where the Money or Goods given for such Tobacco, have been bonâ fide paid at a greater Rate than Sixteen Shillings and Eight pence per Hundred, as aforesaid; but that all such Contracts shall be Discharged in Tobacco, according to the Terms of such Contracts, or in Money according to the Price really given for such Tobacco, together with the lawful Interest arising on the same to the Time of Paying the same, at the option of the Person or Persons from whom the Tobacco would have been Due, had this Act never been Passed. And be it farther Enacted, That this Act shall Continue and be in Force for One Year, and no longer.

A VERY elegant Composition closes this APPENDIX, that the Author, a Person of the first Renown for Eloquence, and a celebrated Master of the English Language, may have the generous Pleasure of seeing one of his many admirable Performances, distinguished from the Rest, by no superior Degree of Merit, but by Brevity alone, arrive at the Honour of a Second Edition, and contribute to the Sale of an Adversary’s Work. For which this Adversary here makes him all the Acknowledgments due from a grateful Enemy.

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63: Richard Bland, The Colonel Dismounted: Or the Rector Vindicated (Williamsburg, 1764)

Signing himself “Common Sense,” Richard Bland in this pamphlet offered a detailed critique of John Camm’s Single and Distinct View of the Act (see Selection 62). Organized around a mock dialogue between Bland and Landon Carter, Camm’s other protagonist, much of the pamphlet was a detailed commentary on Camm’s prose and ideas in which Bland tried to show the absurdity of Camm’s charge that, in passing the Two-penny Act, the House of Burgesses “were attempting to overturn the constitution and to restrain the royal prerogative by passing acts which interfered with acts confirmed by His Majesty, without a suspending clause.” But the pamphlet is most remarkable for its early articulation of the long implicit colonial theory about the distribution of authority among the several polities that composed the British Empire.

Written after colonials knew that the British Parliament was considering imposing taxes on the colonies but before it had actually done so, the pamphlet was one of the earliest ruminations on the extent of Parliament’s authority over the colonies, the issue that would finally sunder the empire a dozen years later. After taking the reader through the various legal, cultural, customary, and historical foundations for Virginia’s exercise of legislative powers and rehearsing the by now thoroughly conventional colonial claims to the rights of freeborn English people and the legacy of the English common law, Bland offered an extended examination of the colonial Virginia Edition: current; Page: [1778] constitution, which he referred to as “a legal constitution,” and, more especially, of the scope of Virginia’s legislative authority. Because no laws could be made within the empire without the consent of “a legislature composed in part of the representatives of the people” to whom those laws applied, the authority of colonial legislatures, Bland declared flatly, necessarily included the exclusive power to “enact laws for the INTERNAL government of the colony and suitable to its various circumstances and occasions.” If the colonies’ dependent status required that they “be subject to the authority of the British Parliament” in “every instance” of the “EXTERNAL government,” he reasoned, that body could not “impose laws upon us merely relative to our INTERNAL GOVERNMENT,” without depriving colonists “of the most valuable part of our birthright as Englishmen, of being governed by laws made with our own consent.” By the constitutional practice of the British Empire, he suggested, “all power over the colony” was “excluded from the mother kingdom but such as respects its EXTERNAL Government,” and the colonial legislatures had “a right to enact ANY law they shall think necessary for their INTERNAL Government.”

Bland did not deny that the Crown’s assent through its governor was requisite to the exercise of colonial legislative functions, but, cautioning against those who, like Camm, were advocates of the doctrines of Sir Robert Filmer, he observed that “submission, even to the supreme magistrate, is not the whole duty of a citizen” and that consideration was “likewise due to the rights of our country and to the liberties of mankind.” From this perspective it seemed obvious to Bland that the royal instructions, which were “nothing more than rules and orders laid down as guides and directions for the conduct of governors,” could not, as Camm suggested, “have the force and validity of a law, and must be obeyed without reserve,” an arrangement, which, if followed, would, Bland objected, “at once strip us of all the rights and privileges of British subjects, and . . . put us under the despotic power of a French or Turkish government.” “Not being obligatory on the people,” then, royal instructions could not bind the Virginia Assembly, which had “a right to present any act relative to the internal government of the colony to the governor for his assent.” So far from “setting up the standard of rebellion against the King’s authority” when it passed the Two-penny acts, the Virginia legislature was thus doing no more than fulfilling its role of making law for the colony, a role that only its members had the first-hand knowledge necessary to perform. (J.P.G.)

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Colonel Dismounted:

or the

Rector Vindicated.

In a Letter addressed to His REVERENCE:


A Dissertation upon the Constitution

of the Colony.

By Common Sense.

  • Quodcunque ostendis mihi sic, incredulus odi.1
  • Hor.


Printed by Joseph Royle, MDCCLXIV.

Edition: current; Page: [1780]

I think it necessary to advertise the readers that this letter was drawn up above eight months ago, purely for amusement. But from a motive which has prevailed with me, I now make it public. To distinguish His Reverence’s elegant and polite language, the quotations from his inimitable works are printed in italic characters.

To the Reverend John Camm, Rector of York-Hampton

It must be confessed, may it please Your Reverence, that you have erected two noble works, outlasting monumental brass, in honor of your victory over the patrons of ignorance and irreligion. The dignity of sentiment that shines with so peculiar a luster in your Single and Distinct View and in your Observations,* the elegant language devoid of sophistry and diversified with the most agreeable tropes that give ornament and strength to those excellent performances, must excite the admiration of the present age and transmit your name, with distinguished éclat, to posterity.

Wonderful genius! who with infinite wit and humor can transform the unripe crab, the mouth-distorting persimmon, the most arrant trash into delicious fruit, nay wring-jaw cider into palatable liquor. Presumptuous tithe-pig Colonel! Infatuated syllogistical Colonel! What humiliating disgrace have they brought upon themselves! But they deserve it. Why did they inflame your resentment? Did they not know Your Reverence has honesty to represent facts truly, learning to write accurately, and wit to make your lampoons, though loaded with rancor and abuse, agreeable and entertaining? Did they not know that besides these excellent accomplishments you possess in an eminent degree that cardinal virtue with whose assistance very moderate abilities are capable of making a great figure? What arrogance was it then, even in the boreas of the Northern Neck, in the violentus auster,2 to enter the lists against such a gladiatorian penman? Could these pygmies expect to triumph over such a redoubted colossus? And in defense too of a cause that was not defensible? In defense of some particular Assemblies that had been impeached of high crimes and misdemeanors before the Lords of Trade and Plantations, when Your Reverence was agent for the WHOLE body of the Virginia clergy in England? Edition: current; Page: [1781] These high crimes and misdemeanors, it is certain, are accumulated in the impeachment to a surprising degree; but what then? The impeachment may be true, notwithstanding; nay, it is true: Your Reverence has said it is true and that is enough. Indeed the colonels with their hurly-burly vociferous verbosity dispute your veracity and pretend that in your representation of the General Assembly’s conduct you indulge a language injurious to the truth, that you encourage party contentions, that you break in upon the respect owing to the legislature of the colony, that you construe the worthiest and best intentions into criminal designs against the royal authority, that you prefer the support of your own cause before the truth and the service of the public, and that by a low kind of wit and satire you expect to prevail against reason and argument. But they, you know, deal in false facts, ill-adapted maxims, confident assertions, imaginary impossible cases, inconsistent notions, sneaking chicanery, and voluminous nonsense, and therefore are not worthy of credit.

May it please Your Reverence, I was pronouncing the other day a sublime miscellaneous oration before a numerous audience, and proving that Your Reverence does not deserve these reflections. But before I proceed I must explain what I mean by a miscellaneous oration, not that I intend this explanation for Your Reverence’s information; this would be presumption, since you have proved indisputably, by your own incomparable writings, that you are a perfect master of the miscellaneous manner. But as this letter may fall into the hands of readers less learned than Your Reverence, I think it necessary for their information. A miscellaneous oration then is exactly like that kind of miscellaneous writing in which, according to a noble author, the most confused head, if fraught with a little commonplace book learning, may exert itself to as much advantage as the most orderly and settled judgment.

An orator in this way draws together shreds of learning and fragments of wit, and tacks them in any fantastic form he thinks proper; but connection, coherence, design, and meaning are against his purpose, and destroy the very spirit and genius of his oration. In short, may it please Your Reverence, it is just like the miscellaneous remarks in your Single and Distinct View.

I say, may it please Your Reverence, I was holding forth to a numerous audience in support of your charge against the General Assembly, when the hot and violent demagogue, rushing through the crowd in an attitude that would have frightened the renowned knight of La Manca himself, advanced Edition: current; Page: [1782] upon me with hasty strides and brawled out, Thou dealer in general topics, thou confounder of justice with injustice, I will prove this charge to be contrary to the truth in every instance.

I had given half a crown, may it please Your Reverence, for your Single and Distinct View; and as a subscriber to the Virginia Gazette I became possessed of your Observations, and another witty paper* remarkable for an elegant and polite description of a certain odoriferous knight who has the honor of being distinguished by one of the titles properly belonging to Your Reverence. But Ned the barber, a shrewd inquisitive fellow, while shaving me the other day, cast his eye upon that facetious paper, which I held in my hand, and asked me whether the progenitors of the sweet-scented knight received the honor of knighthood from the monarch who advanced the loin of beef to that dignity or not. I told him I believed this honor must have been conferred by the British Solomon, because as history tells us he was very intimate with His Reverence’s ancestors, making them the constant companions of his sports and divertisements; and it was probable he created them baronets when he instituted that order, but of this I could not be positive. Well then, said Ned, pray Sir ask the Rector of York-Hampton; he knows all things, all secrets, no prattling gossip,

  • Who with an hundred pair of wings
  • News from the furthest quarters brings,
  • Sees, hears, and tells, untold before,
  • All that she knows, and ten times more,

knows so much as this Reverend Rector does; and as nothing can be hid from him, no person is so capable of resolving this question. To oblige Ned the barber, this digression has obtruded itself; and he waits with impatience for your determination.

May it please Your Reverence, as you had declared the hectoring bullies were more considerable for fierce language than true spirit, I was under no difficulty about the manner of my defense; for, thought I, if Your Reverence obliged two bullies to part with their strongholds, surely the same weapons, though perhaps not managed when in my hands with the same Edition: current; Page: [1783] dexterity as when under Your Reverence’s conduct, will dispel the fog which one Cromwellian preacher endeavors to diffuse over the face of truth. Then by a motion of my left hand, which I was obliged to use upon this occasion, similar to that of a soldier when he is commanded to handle his cartridge, I drew your Single and Distinct View from my right pocket, and opposing it to the enemy I found myself more invincible than if armed with Mambrino’s celebrated helmet, or the more celebrated shield, forged with Vulcanian art for the son of Thetis. It was, may it please Your Reverence, altogether impenetrable to the enemy’s great guns; and as for his small arms, they made not the least impression upon it. Having this advantage, I advanced, in my turn, upon my antagonist, drove him off the field, and took possession of several posts the strength of which he had magnified, until they fell into my hands. He then shifted his ground, and by a sudden maneuver which I really did not expect, entrenched himself in new entrenchments. These I instantly stormed; but as I could not carry them I was at a loss how to conduct my attack until reflecting on the astonishing virtues of your Single and Distinct View, I resolved to try if trumpeting it out would not have the effect upon these entrenchments as the sound of the ram’s horn had upon the walls of Jericho; and I assure you I had great expectations at first, for the entrenchments were shocked several times, especially upon the repetition of your fine criticisms, and I verily thought they would have been leveled with the ground by the sound of the words justice, learning, religion, liberty, property, public good, which compose part of your character, in the panegyric Your Reverence so justly bestows upon yourself.

But as the severest shocks from this tremendous battery did not destroy the entrenchments, though they were frequently severe enough to shock my senses, I applied to your Observations, and thundering out with a vociferous contempt these words of your other encomium upon yourself, I write for liberty and property, for the rights of commerce, for an established church, for the validity of the King’s authority, pro aris et focis,3 immediately the enemy beat the chamade and demanded a conference, which I granted him. As this conference relates to Your Reverence, I think it proper to transmit you a particular detail of it, which I choose to do through Mr. Royle’s press, that I may be certain of its coming safe to hand.

Edition: current; Page: [1784]

The Colonel opened the conference as followeth:

I make no doubt, Sir, said he, but that you have entered into this controversy from an opinion that everything the Rector has advanced with respect to the General Assemblies, and those whom he distinguishes by the name of his adversaries, is true.

I replied, My motive for espousing His Reverence proceeds from my opinion of his veracity. Then, Sir, said the Colonel, I will convince you that the Rector has neither truth or ingenuity. Neither truth or ingenuity in His Reverence’s works! replied I, hastily. What do you mean, Colonel? Have you not experienced the wonderful effects of his Single and Distinct View? And would you not have felt, perhaps, more fatal effects from his Observations had you not implored this conference? I acknowledge, said the Colonel, the Rector’s works, like those deep-throated engines Milton makes the apostate angels oppose to the celestial army,

  • . . . belched out smoke,
  • And with outrageous noise the air
  • And all her entrails tore; disgorging foul
  • Their devilish glut . . .

but smoke and noise are not evidences of truth. Colonel, said I, interrupting him, I expect you will not treat His Reverence with scurrility. I will endeavor to avoid it, answered the Colonel, for I am by no means fond of copying the Rector’s style or saintlike phrases; it is by reason and argument, not by blows and insults, that I expect to convince you of the truth.

The Colonel went on: I had determined not to give myself any further trouble about the Rector of York-Hampton. I know it was a Sisyphean labor to engage in a dispute with this man, for, as Pope says,

  • Destroy his fib, or sophistry, in vain,
  • The creature’s at his dirty work again.

I thought too I should be very indifferently employed to reply in form, as Lord Shaftesbury calls it, to his Single and Distinct View, which in my opinion carries with it its own ridicule; neither could I be persuaded that so sorry a performance, which perverts the meaning of my most simple expressions, mutilates sentences, and makes me speak words I never uttered would be looked upon by men of sense as a refutation of my Letter to the Clergy. And as for his tinsel wit, if it can be worthy of such an epithet, I despised Edition: current; Page: [1785] it. But that I may convince you of this writer’s sophistry, of his misrepresentation of the plainest facts, and of the constitutional proceedings of the General Assembly, I will examine his legerdemain performances; and I hope irksome as the talk is I shall have the strength to go through with it.

In the apology this Rector makes for his impudence or rudeness (these are his own words) he says that in this war which his adversaries began, the manner of his defense has been directed by the conduct of the attack, for he found it too great a difficulty for him to let the merit of their example be entirely thrown away; so that lex talionis4 is the rule of retribution with this peacemaking Rector. However, let that be as it will, let us see whether this eminent divine is a man of truth and ingenuity. My adversaries began the war, says this faithful recorder of events. But is he sure of this? Or is it a false fact, a confident assertion invented to persuade men out of their senses, according to his own elegant expressions? I affirm it is a false fact, a confident assertion, which, if I prove, will, I presume, make the scourge he intended for others reverberate with double force upon himself.

At the September session of Assembly in the year 1758, the people represented to the House of Burgesses that “by reason of the short crops of tobacco made that year it would be impossible for them to discharge their public dues and taxes that were payable in tobacco, which would expose them to the vexatious and oppressive exactions of the public collectors; and they prayed that an act might pass for paying all public, county, and parish levies, and officers’ fees in money at such price as by the House should be thought reasonable.” The short crops made that year, and the impossibility of paying their public tobacco dues as the laws then stood, were the reasons given by the people for desiring, and by the General Assembly, in consequence of this representation, for passing the Two-Penny Act. But though the relief of the people from the general distress of that year could be the only possible motive with the General Assembly for passing that act, yet this discerner of spirits, this man who knows everybody’s thoughts, discovered other reasons for their conduct. Suffer me to recite them in brief from the impeachment brought against the legislative body of the colony before the Lords of Trade and Plantations in the time of the Rector’s agency in England. In that impeachment they are accused with exercising acts of supremacy inconsistent with the dignity of the Church of England and manifestly tending Edition: current; Page: [1786] to draw the people of the plantations from their allegiance, with assuming to themselves a power to bind the King’s hands, with having nothing more at heart than to lessen the influence of the crown and the maintenance of the clergy, with attacking the rights of the crown and of the clergy, with depriving the King of his royal authority over the clergy, putting them under the power of the vestries and making them subject to the humors of the people, with never intending any good to the clergy, with taking possession of the patronages and wanting to be absolute masters of the maintenance of the clergy, with passing acts of Assembly on pretense that only small quantities of tobacco were made in some years that they might render the condition of the clergy most distressful, various, and uncertain after a painful and laborious performance of their functions. In short, and to sum up the whole in one word, with being traitors in the legal sense of the word.

This charge, so heavy and so injurious, occasioned my Letter to the Clergy; and I will submit it to your determination whether I had not a right, as a friend to truth, as a member of that body so grossly abused, to obviate the acrimonious invectives contained in this charge. If I had no right, then I am the aggressor; but if I had, then the Rector’s want of truth and ingenuity in a plain matter of fact is evident, as he must be the author of this controversy.

To this I replied, You certainly have a right, Colonel, by all legal methods, to vindicate the conduct of the General Assembly not only as a member of it, but as an honest man, against every unjust accusation; and as this impeachment was brought in a public manner before the Lords of Trade in England, who have the direction and superintendency of the plantation affairs, I must own that your publishing your defense here does not make you the author of this war. The promoter of this impeachment is, without question, the person who BEGAN it. Well then, Sir, said the Colonel, the Rector BEGAN the war. I replied, Be not so hasty, Colonel; His Reverence is innocent. A man of his integrity, of his truth and uprightness of heart, could not invent such a malevolent groundless charge; and as you accuse a clergyman remarkable for his humility and meekness of temper as a promoter of dissension between the legislature and clergy of the colony, you deserve the censure His Reverence has thought proper to pass upon you. Why Sir, asked the Colonel, seemingly astonished, was not the Rector the author of this impeachment? If he was not the clerk that drew it, still he was the instrument; or, that I may express myself in less ambiguous terms, the informer upon whose evidence it was drawn up. Nay, does Edition: current; Page: [1787] not the paper* presented by him to the Lords of Trade as The Humble Representation of the Clergy of the Church of England in His Majesty’s Colony and Dominion of Virginia, which in fact composes part of this invidious libel, prove that he was the author of it? And is not this more than thinking, according to the pretty proverb so wittily applied in his Observations? Is it not good authority for charging him with being the author, the forger of the impeachment? Besides, does he not justify it in his Observations? Does he not, by a most unfair and disingenuous comment upon four acts passed by the General Assembly attempt to prove that they all agree in these peccant circumstances? Why really, Colonel, said I, how can you justify three of those acts? For by your present plan of defense, you only endeavor to prove that the General Assembly were not guilty of the crimes laid to their charge by passing one act; their passing three others, then, of the same pernicious tendency, is altogether unjustifiable. I was, may it please Your Reverence, a little graveled here, and under some apprehension of tripping if I had attempted a further justification of your truth and ingenuity. I was therefore desirous to divert the Colonel from pursuing his proofs against you as the author of the war by putting him upon his defense of the other three peccant acts.

The Colonel replied, I perceive, Sir, by your attempting to divert me from the point I was upon, you are convinced the Rector BEGAN the war. The Colonel stopped. I was silent. For, may it please Your Reverence, what could I say in your vindication until I had it from yourself that you was not the informer upon whose evidence this impeachment was drawn up; but if you deny that you was the informer, and will let me know who was, I am resolved to have another bout with the Colonel. I must therefore beseech you to be very explicit in this particular when you favor the public with your next production.

It would be disgustful, even to you, Sir, his friend, resumed the Colonel, was I to take notice of all the fustian contained in his panegyrics upon his own and his brethren’s loyalty. Don’t think, gentlemen of the clergy, said the Colonel, breaking out into a rhapsody upon repeating the word brethren, don’t think that you all have the honor of being brethren to this ever-to-be-reverenced Rector. No, gentlemen, the word brethren, like the word many, is capable of being taken by two handles. Do not, therefore, flatter yourselves Edition: current; Page: [1788] that the Rector of York-Hampton takes it by the same handle he takes the word all* (by which single word all has produced one of the finest pieces of true genuine original criticism that ever was invented by the wit of man). I say, gentlemen, the word brethren is not, like the word all, to be taken by the big handle, but like the word many is to be taken by the little handle; so that the Rector’s brethren are but few comparatively with the whole body of the Virginia clergy, perhaps only a quindecemvirate5 of them, of which he is the chief, who in a general convention of twenty-five carried the vote for appointing him their agent to impeach the General Assembly of their country of treason. But now I am addressing myself to the clergy, give me leave to propose a question or two to those fifty-five (for it seems there are at least eighty parochial clergymen in the colony) who did not think proper to attend the regular summons of the bishop’s commissary. Did you, gentlemen, when you sent excuses for want of your appearance send also your concurrence in the measures that were proposed in the convention? Were you acquainted with these measures before they were proposed? If you were, who made you acquainted with them? Not your late commissary. He was one of the traitors; he was not under the influence of the clergy or in their true interest, and therefore cannot be supposed to have given you the information, though he was the only person who ought to have done it; perhaps he was not let into the secret designs of the Rector and his brethren. And if you were not informed, could you send your concurrence to measures you knew nothing of? I am persuaded you could not, but that you would have attended the regular summons of the bishop’s commissary on purpose to have opposed the measures that were carried by the quindecemvirate had you been acquainted with them before the meeting of the convention. The respect I bear you, the high sentiments I entertain of your truth and ingenuity (these, gentlemen, are favorite words with the Rector), the piety, candor, and integrity so conspicuous in the lives of most of you, make me sure you would have attended on purpose to oppose measures so contrary to your real interest, so repugnant to truth, and which could only serve to destroy the harmony and concord it is your inclination as well as duty to cultivate and maintain between the legislature and the reverend body of the clergy.

Edition: current; Page: [1789]

The Colonel resumed his defense: Was I to trace out ALL the Rector’s boasts of his and his brethren’s adhering to and preserving the old constitution, which some particular Assemblies were endeavoring to destroy, of their sheltering themselves under the authority of the British oak, under the wings of the prerogative, under the protection of a most gracious and religious monarch, from whose allegiance the General Assemblies were attempting to draw the people of the plantations, it would carry me further than there is any need to go on this occasion. ALL his ostentatious flourishes are to be seen at large in his masterly works, which I suppose are by this time transmitted to Graham Franks, now in England, to be laid before the Board of Trade or perhaps a more honorable board, that his unparalleled loyalty may be manifested when his cause against the collector of his parish levy is carried before that high tribunal. But lest the word ALL, which I have taken occasion to use twice in this part of my defense, to wit, once when I spoke of the Rector’s boasts, and again when I spoke of his ostentatious flourishes, should fling him into labor with another criticism and make him bring forth, like the mountain in the fable, I must inform you which handle you are to take it by in these two places. Know then, Sir, that you are to take this word ALL by the big handle, and not by the little handle, which last mentioned handle I took it by when in my Letter to the Clergy I explained my sense of it as it stood in the impeachment by making it include the greater part of the members of the General Assembly; which I said must be the import of the word in that part of the impeachment I was then considering. But this explanation I suppose the Rector passed over, that he might demonstrate to the world his profundity in critical knowledge.

I will now examine the three acts the Rector cites as further instances of the General Assembly’s disloyalty.

In the year 1738 two new counties and parishes were erected upon the frontiers of the colony, far distant from navigation. That these counties might be settled and a good barrier be thereby made against the French,* several encouragements were granted to the inhabitants; one of these was that they might pay all levies and officers’ fees in money for tobacco, at the rate of three farthings per pound. Under this regulation the salary of the ministers in each of the new parishes was only £152, when the salary of Edition: current; Page: [1790] the other parochial ministers was 16,640 pounds of tobacco, as settled by the act of 1727, which was then in force. The ministers of these new parishes continued to receive this salary of £152 until the year 1753, when one of them petitioned the Council for an augmentation of his salary; this petition was sent by the Council to the House of Burgesses, who immediately passed the act for the frontier parishes, as the Rector calls it, whereby the minister’s salary in each of these parishes was settled at £100 a year, according to the desire of the minister petitioning. This act, passed upon this consideration, and which was so advantageous to the ministers of these parishes, was one article in the impeachment of high crimes against the majesty of our sovereign and the dignity of the Church of England; and as the colony had no agent at that time in England to represent a true state of the case, was, from the misrepresentation of the agent appointed by fifteen of the Virginia clergy without the participation of the two ministers concerned, repealed by the royal proclamation. For this repeal the ministers of those two parishes returned the Rector their humble and hearty acknowledgments by their petition to the General Assembly for a renewal of the repealed act, without which they must starve; which petition had such an effect upon the humanity of this traitorous Assembly, who had nothing more at heart than to lessen the maintenance of the clergy and to render their condition most distressful, various, and uncertain, that regardless of the Rector’s resentment they complied with the ministers’ request.

As to the Norfolk and Princess Anne Act, I presume I need not repeat what I have said upon it in my Letter to the Clergy, where I have given a candid and honest account of the reasons which prevailed with the General Assembly to pass it; to which I can add nothing, except that the petition from the people which gave rise to it was presented to the House of Burgesses at their October session, 1754, and being referred to the next session, did not come under the consideration of the House until the 7th day of May, 1755; so that full time was given for any person to represent against it if it had not been agreeable to him.

From this account of the Frontier and Norfolk acts the Rector’s want of truth and ingenuity, of decency and good manners in his remarks upon the General Assembly for passing these acts, is sufficiently evident. For him to charge the legislature with attempting to lessen the influence of the crown and the maintenance of the clergy because they gave to the ministers of the frontier parishes an increase of salary, without which they must have lived in Edition: current; Page: [1791] the greatest indigence, and because they gave relief to the people in one part of the colony from laws which under their particular circumstances were extremely oppressive to them, I say for him to charge the legislature with such attempts is an instance of want of truth and an indecency of behavior which no man could be guilty of but one who was resolved to trudge, with might and main, through dirt and mire to gain his ends.

And now, Sir, may I not say with great justice of this Rector, in his own words, that he has shown more judgment in suppressing part of the Apostle’s account of charity than in giving us what he had quoted; for had he given the Apostle’s account unmutilated, the reader must have seen that charity doth not behave itself unseemly, that it rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth. But as the proverbial account of truth, that it is not to be spoken at all times, seemed to be more for the Rector’s purpose, he has preferred it in his articles of impeachment.

The general act of 1755 was passed when, I confess, there was not such a pressing necessity for it as there was afterwards, in the year 1758; but their passing this act when perhaps there was no great necessity for it does not make the General Assembly guilty of the crimes contained in the Rector’s impeachment.

The legislature of this as of all other countries are fallible men, and as such may enact laws which they may think necessary and for the public good but which from experience may be found unnecessary and even destructive of that good they were intended to promote. But is this fallibility to be imputed to them as a crime? Or is their enacting a law to enable the inhabitants of the colony to discharge their tobacco debts in money, in a year, as they thought, of general dearth and scarcity, an evidence of their attempting to restrain the power of their sovereign and to destroy the dignity of the established church? And yet in such a point of view does this Rector place their conduct. Is such a representation honest? Is it such a one as ought to have come from a man who so confidently charges others with a want of truth and ingenuity? And is it decent for a clergyman to treat members of the General Assembly for offering a just defense against so aggravated a charge with a language not to be found but amongst those who have prostituted themselves to the lowest dregs and sediments of scurrility? Here I stopped the Colonel and said with some warmth, You forget your promise, Colonel, not to treat His Reverence with hard names. His scurrility, indeed, is provoked defensive scurrility; which consideration will have its due effect with the readers of every degree, who Edition: current; Page: [1792] are the judge and jury and everything with His Reverence. But you, Colonel, have, unprovoked, abused His Reverence in your first defense, and in your letter to him published in a public newspaper you have charged him with a neglect of duty in his parish, which is one of the most palpable, barefaced, and impudent falsehoods that ever was invented. I thought, Sir, replied the Colonel, I had convinced you that the Rector was the aggressor, and that his abusive and unjust charge against the General Assembly had occasioned the controversy between us. As to my abuse of him in my Letter to the Clergy, you must be convinced of the contrary if you will read that letter with attention; for though the manner in which he has detached my words which seem to have any severity of expression in them from their proper places, collected them into one view, and taken them to himself, may show how easy it is for a caviler to give a new sense, or a new nonsense, to anything, yet as they are applied by me in the several parts of my Letter to the Clergy in which they stand they will appear to be nothing more than proper and just expressions relative to the treatment the General Assemblies have received from the Rector and his accomplices. It is true, in one place of my letter I have disputed the Rector’s superiority in point of learning above other men, which I acknowledge is great sauciness in me, since he has demonstrated by his fine writings that he is as excellent a critic and as learned a divine as he is a good Christian; but as I did not know so much at that time, I hope I shall be forgiven. If I have accused him with a neglect of duty in his parish, and can be convinced that this accusation is unjust, in that case I have done him an injury, and will not only ask his forgiveness of my offense, but make an atonement for it by publicly acknowledging that I have aspersed the character of a diligent pastor, attentive to and perpetually careful of the spiritual concerns of all the flock committed to his charge. But then, as I may differ from him about the precise meaning of the word duty, I must, to prevent mistakes, have the meaning of it fixed and determined; for perhaps I may understand it in a more extensive sense than the Rector doth. It is, you know Sir, according to his own definition of it, a complex term, and consequently must include something more than an excursion out of the parish where he resides to his church in York-Hampton on a Sunday when he is not confined at home by pain and sickness. I suppose the Rector calls himself a minister, a laborer, a watchman, a pastor, a steward, an ambassador, in sacred things. These different characters, then, must have different heads of duty belonging to them. I cannot therefore agree that he discharges all these duties by only attending Edition: current; Page: [1793] his parish church on a Sunday; and if he does nothing more, he may be likened to a servant who having six talents committed to his management wraps five of them up in a napkin and only trades with one, or rather a small part of one of them. Whether such a servant acts justly or not is not for me to determine. But Colonel, said I, I have studied to find out what connection there could be between His Reverence’s neglect of duty in his parish and the dispute between you and him about the Two-Penny Act. Exactly as much, Sir, replied the Colonel, as there is between my officiating as a clergyman in the churches of the parish where I live and a dispute relating to the power of the General Assembly to enact laws; which is all the reply I shall make to his windmill and giant and his other quixotisms. Why Colonel, said I, do you really officiate as a clergyman in the churches of the parish where you live? I do not, answered the Colonel; but I officiate sometimes as reader in the church which I frequent in the absence of the minister, being thereto appointed by the vestry. My motive for accepting this appointment, I presume, the Rector has no right to inquire into, since it was not from a pecuniary consideration. Well Colonel, said I, as to that matter, whether right or wrong, I have no business with it; but your resentment against His Reverence for making use of the happy privilege which every British subject enjoys, of approaching the throne in an humble petition, is not to be defended. Did I express any resentment against the Rector, replied the Colonel, for making use of this happy privilege, I should be blameable because I value it as much as the Rector can, notwithstanding his pompous encomiums upon his own loyalty. But I shall always consider it as an affront to the throne, which under our present illustrious race of kings has been eminently distinguished for truth and justice, to approach it with a petition loaded with calumny and abuse against the King’s substitute and every other part of the legislature of the colony. If the Rector thought himself injured by any act of the General Assembly, he had a right to approach the throne with an humble petition against it; but then he should have approached it with truth: he should have represented facts with candor and integrity, and not have imputed such act to causes which could not possibly exist; and if he had done so, I assure you, Sir, he and I should have had no dispute.

But Colonel, said I, in your account of the famous petition* you have reflected with great severity upon the clergy, when I own I can see no mighty harm in that petition, provided it might stand alone, without your comment. Edition: current; Page: [1794] Besides, it was the petition of one clergyman only, who did not prefer it from any imagination that there was room to expect success in it, but to evince the contrary by experiment. Your reflections therefore were very disingenuous; and though the design of the petition is a piece of secret history, a stratagem, a machination, which it seems you, with all your sagacity and insight into everybody’s affairs, have not been able to penetrate, yet your inference drawn from it that if the provision for the clergy was made better by an act they would make no complaint concerning encroachments on the authority of the King is no less ungenerous, since to make this inference good it should have appeared in the petition that the clergy wanted a better provision by an act without a suspending clause. But there is no such thing in the petition; and I believe it would be a difficult matter to prove that the clergy, though willing enough to have a better provision, would accept of it by means of an act without a suspending clause. My account of the famous petition, as the Rector calls it, replied the Colonel, is taken from the Burgesses’ Journals, where it stands as the petition of the clergy, and not as the petition of one of them. However, let it be for the present that it was owned by one clergyman only. The Rector says this clergyman designed well; and that one other clergyman was privy to the petition, who, from what he says about the secret history of it, I conclude must be himself. Now this petition declares that many clergymen who are a disgrace to the ministry find opportunities to fill the parishes; and can any expression be found in my Letter to the Clergy, torture it how you will, that reflects with such severity upon them as this declaration doth, which was made in the most public manner by one of their own body abetted by one other, and he no less a person than the pious Rector of York-Hampton? And if our parishes are filled with so many clergymen who are a disgrace to the ministry, may it not be suspected that such men would accept of a better provision by an act without a suspending clause? And that they would not be very nice in examining whether such act was worded exactly conformable to a royal instruction to the governor for his own particular conduct, especially when they were not answerable for a transgression of it? The Rector, in zeal for the royal authority, might, for aught I know, be willing to refuse a better provision under such an act; but as he has not as yet attained to that degree of supremacy as to decree by his own authority that his brethren should refuse it, it would be necessary to determine this matter in a convention. And if the clergymen, distinguished with such excellent characters by the author of the petition, who are so Edition: current; Page: [1795] many, should prevail against the self-denying Rector of York-Hampton upon a question in which their temporal interest might outweigh the royal authority as in all probability they would, the Rector, by an established rule of the convention, must submit, and perhaps rather than be the occasion of a schism, would subscribe to the vote of the majority. But as his conduct in such a case cannot be known, it must remain a matter of opinion whether he would accept of a better provision or not under such an act.

But notwithstanding the changes the Rector is perpetually ringing upon an act with, and an act without a suspending clause, his loyalty will not shine forth with a meridian brightness unless he refuses to accept of a better provision under an act with a suspending clause; for the governor is not to give his assent to any act with a suspending clause that alters or repeals an act which has received the royal approbation, without first obtaining the King’s permission. So that before the Rector ought to accept of a better provision under any act of the General Assembly, the clergy should appoint him their agent a second time to approach the throne with an humble petition for the royal permission to the governor to give his assent to such act; which appointment, if I dare venture a conjecture, would be extremely pleasing to him, as he would thereby have an opportunity of soliciting a place for himself of the first ecclesiastical dignity in the colony, which I believe is at this time vacant.

And let it not be thought that a convention cannot be held during the vacancy of the commissaryship for appointing him agent; for if an advertisement in the Virginia Gazette, signed by him and two or three others, was of sufficient authority, in the late commissary’s time, to convene the clergy, certainly now there is no commissary he may by his own power call a convention upon a matter of such importance to himself.

But let all this happen as it may, it is extremely obvious that the Rector’s temper inclines him to inflame his own resentment into a fixed contempt of the General Assembly; otherwise he could not have approved of the conduct of the author of this petition, if what he says of him is true, that he did not prefer the petition from any imagination that there was room to expect success in it, but to evince the contrary by experiment: so that the General Assembly may be used by designing men as instruments to carry on their deep-laid stratagems and machinations on purpose to afford matter of pleasantry to the Rector. But it may be that the Rector has tripped in his history of this clergyman’s conduct, who, I have heard, gave the gentleman on whom he Edition: current; Page: [1796] prevailed to present the petition to the House of Burgesses a quite different account of his design; and that gentleman was insulted by a great intimate of the Rector’s for presenting it; which insult, I suppose, would not have been given if the author of the petition had expected no other effects from it than what the Rector says he did.

Colonel, said I, your remarks are of a sour and aggravating cast. His Reverence’s temper does not incline him to inflame his own resentment; he has suffered persecution; he has missed the president’s place at the college; he has been forbid, with others, the late governor’s house under the title of disturbers of his government; he has been recommended by the late governor in conjunction with others to the correction of the Grand Jury for being so audacious as to publish under their names an invitation to as many of their brethren as were willing to attend, for them to meet at a brother’s house before he left the country. He has been forbid the present governor’s palace, when he waited on him with the royal disallowance to several acts of Assembly. He has, I say, suffered all these persecutions, cum multis aliis quae nunc prescribere longum est;6 and certainly His Reverence, who has suffered so much for adhering to reason and justice, and the principles of true patriotism, is excusable for the freedoms he has used.

The Rector, replied the Colonel, gives colorings to his imagery as best suit his purpose; but remove the false appearances and his representations will not exhibit so amiable a character. The brother at whose house this meeting was appointed was not a person of that distinction or moral accomplishments as to make it necessary for the clergy to pay their compliments to him in a body upon his leaving the country. The late governor knew, the late commissary knew, as did many other gentlemen, that he was one of the cabal; and they all believed, and, if it was proper to dwell any longer on this circumstance, a very good account might be given for their belief, that this meeting was on purpose to raise disturbances in the government, to form stratagems and machinations against the administration and the legislature of the colony, which this brother was to solicit in England. And as Mr. Dinwiddie, the late governor, thought it an affront to his authority as well as to the bishop’s commissary for three or four clergymen to assume to themselves a power to call a meeting of the clergy, he resented the insult in a manner becoming his character as the King’s substitute. As to the prohibition the Rector received from appearing at the present governor’s palace, his affrontive and disrespectful Edition: current; Page: [1797] behavior was the occasion of it; for, as I have been informed that contrary to his duty and the respect due to the King’s representative, he did not wait on the governor with the royal disallowance to several acts of Assembly, with which he was charged by the Lords of Trade, until several weeks after his arrival in the country, though he was in the place of the governor’s residence; and when he did wait on him he delivered the dispatch opened after he had communicated it to such of his brethren as he thought proper. So that his own modesty, if he has any, and a consideration of his own character, should, methinks, have prevented his complaining of this prohibition.

And as to his missing the president’s place at the college, his contumacious treatment of the Visitors’ authority, which is so publicly known, could not entitle him to their favors, even admitting that he was qualified in other respects.

Colonel, said I, this is all prejudice. You suffer your passion to make a fool of you. His Reverence has given the strongest proofs of true patriotism; he has delivered the constitution from the basest attempts to destroy it; he faces every attack, encounters every danger, despises every obloquy; in short, he may say, with old Siffredi in the play,

  • . . . I have preferred my duty,
  • The good and safety of my fellow subjects,
  • To all those views that fire the selfish race
  • Of men . . .

since he has with boldness, and, as he says, with truth justified his impeachment against the General Assemblies who were attempting to overturn the constitution and to restrain the royal prerogative by passing acts which interfered with acts confirmed by His Majesty, without a suspending clause. Now, Colonel, how can you exculpate the General Assemblies from this atrocious crime?

The Rector’s patriotism, answered the Colonel, is as conspicuous as his modesty and politeness; but it is really matter of pleasantry, as this Thersites* Edition: current; Page: [1798] said of the famous petition, to hear him haranguing about the constitution, which if he knows anything of, he does not care to make it public.

The constitution cannot be destroyed, nor the royal prerogative restrained by any act of the General Assembly. The King as sovereign possesses an inherent power in the legislature of the colony and can give his allowance or disallowance to any act passed by them; but as the Rector boasts that I am not able to answer his arguments upon this head of accusation, that I am graveled, that he hath caught my gentleman tripping lightly over marshy ground, you must give me leave to examine into the power of the General Assembly to enact laws, which I believe will put an end to the Rector’s exultations and convince you it was the contemptibleness and not the weight of his arguments that prevented my answering them in the letter I thought proper to address to him.

I do not suppose, Sir, that you look upon the present inhabitants of Virginia as a people conquered by the British arms. If indeed we are to be considered only as the savage aborigines of this part of America, we cannot pretend to the rights of English subjects; but if we are the descendants of Englishmen, who by their own consent and at the expense of their own blood and treasure undertook to settle this new region for the benefit and aggrandizement of the parent kingdom, the native privileges our progenitors enjoyed must be derived to us from them, as they could not be forfeited by their migration to America.

One of the greatest lawyers and the greatest philosopher of his age* tells us, “A country gained by conquest hath no right to be governed by the English laws.” And another no less eminent lawyer says, “Where the country of a pagan or infidel is conquered, there, ipso facto, the laws of such country are abrogated.” And from hence I suppose it was that a learned and upright judge gave it as his opinion, “That Virginia is to be governed by such laws as the King pleases.” But certainly this great judge was not acquainted with Virginia; if he was he never would have given an opinion which with respect either to the original or present inhabitants of this country must be erroneous. It must be erroneous with respect to the original inhabitants because they were never fully conquered, but submitted to the English government Edition: current; Page: [1799] upon terms of peace and friendship fixed and settled by treaties; and they now possess their native laws and customs, savage as they are, in as full an extent as they did before the English settled upon this continent. It must be erroneous with respect to the present inhabitants because upon a supposition that their ancestors were conquerors of this country, they could not lose their native privileges by their conquests. They were as much freemen, and had as good a right to the liberties of Englishmen after their conquest as they had before; if they had not, few of them, I believe, would have been induced by so inadequate a reward to endeavor an extension of the English dominions, and by making conquests to become slaves.

Under an English government all men are born free, are only subject to laws made with their own consent, and cannot be deprived of the benefit of these laws without a transgression of them. To assert this is sufficient; to demonstrate it to an Englishman is useless. He not only knows, but, if I may use the expression, feels it as a vital principle in the constitution, which places him in a situation without the reach of the highest executive power in the state, if he lives in an obedience to its laws.

If then the people of this colony are freeborn and have a right to the liberties and privileges of English subjects, they must necessarily have a legal constitution, that is, a legislature composed in part of the representatives of the people who may enact laws for the internal government of the colony and suitable to its various circumstances and occasions; and without such a representative, I am bold enough to say, no law can be made.

By the term internal government it may be easily perceived that I exclude from the legislature of the colony all power derogatory to their dependence upon the mother kingdom; for as we cannot lose the rights of Englishmen by our removal to this continent, so neither can we withdraw our dependence without destroying the constitution. In every instance, therefore, of our external government we are and must be subject to the authority of the British Parliament, but in no others; for if the Parliament should impose laws upon us merely relative to our internal government, it deprives us, as far as those laws extend, of the most valuable part of our birthright as Englishmen, of being governed by laws made with our own consent. As all power, therefore, is excluded from the colony of withdrawing its dependence from the mother kingdom, so is all power over the colony excluded from the mother kingdom but such as respects its external government. I do not deny but that the Parliament, as the stronger power, Edition: current; Page: [1800] can force any laws it shall think fit upon us; but the inquiry is not what it can do, but what constitutional right it has to do so. And if it has not any constitutional right, then any tax respecting our internal polity which may hereafter be imposed on us by act of Parliament is arbitrary, as depriving us of our rights, and may be opposed. But we have nothing of this sort to fear from those guardians of the rights and liberties of mankind.

But it may be objected that this general position excludes all the laws of England, so as that none of them are obligatory upon us in our internal government. The answer to this objection is obvious: the common law, being the common consent of the people from time immemorial, and the “birthright of every Englishman, does follow him wherever he goes,” and consequently must be the general law by which the colony is to be governed. So also the statutes of England in force at the time of our separation, having every essential in their institution to make them obligatory upon our ancestors, that is, their consent by their representatives, and having the same sanction with the common law, must have the same extensive force, and bind us in the same manner the common law does; if it was otherwise it would involve this contradiction, that of two laws made by the same power, one is coercive upon us when the other is not so, which is plainly absurd.

From these principles, which I take to be incontrovertible, as they are deduced from the nature of the English constitution, it is evident that the legislature of the colony have a right to enact ANY law they shall think necessary for their internal government.

But lest these principles, plain and evident as they are, should be controverted by the Rector or some other of Sir Robert Filmer’s disciples, who perhaps may assert that the King by his prerogative can establish any form of government he pleases in the colony, I will examine the power the General Assembly derives from grants from the crown, abstracted from the original rights of the people.

King James I by his charter, under the great seal of England, granted the dominion of Virginia to the Treasurer and Company of Adventurers, and gave them full power and authority to constitute a form of government in the colony as near as might be agreeable to the government and policy of England. Pursuant to this power, the Treasurer and Company by their charter established the legislature in the governor, Council, and representatives of the people, to be called the General Assembly, with “free power to treat, consult, and conclude as well of all emergent occasions concerning Edition: current; Page: [1801] the public weal of the colony and every part thereof, as also to make, ordain, and enact such general laws and orders for the behoof of the colony and the good government thereof as shall from time to time appear necessary or requisite.”

The General Assemblies have continued to exercise this legislative power from that time. King James left them in full possession of this power upon his dissolving the company; and King Charles I in the year 1634 by order in his Privy Council declared that “interests which the colony enjoyed while they were a corporation should not be impeached, but that they should enjoy the same privileges they did before the recalling the company’s patent.” And in the year 1642 under his sign manual and royal signet he “confirmed the form of government, declared that they should ever remain under the King’s immediate protection, and that the form of government should not be changed.”

After the Restoration, in the year 1675, the General Assembly sent three agents to England to solicit a new charter from King Charles II. Their petition upon this occasion was referred by the King’s order in his Privy Council the 23rd of June to his attorney and solicitor general, who reported their opinion to the Lords of the Committee for Foreign Plantations, “That it would be for His Majesty’s service and for the increase of the trade and growth of the plantation of Virginia if His Majesty shall be graciously pleased to grant and confirm, under his great seal, unto his subjects in Virginia the particulars following.” And then they recite the several heads of the General Assembly’s petition, one of which was “That the power and authority of the General Assembly, consisting of the governor, Council, and Burgesses, may be by His Majesty ratified and confirmed”; but with this proviso, “That His Majesty may, at his pleasure, revoke any law made by them; and that no law so revoked shall, AFTER such revocation and intimation thereof from hence (i.e., from England), be further used or observed.”

The Lords of the Committee for Foreign Plantations presented this report to His Majesty in his Privy Council at Whitehall on the 19th of November 1675; which His Majesty approved and confirmed, and ordered a bill to be prepared by the attorney and solicitor general for his signature in order to the passing letters patent “for the settlement and confirmation of all things according to the said report.”

A complete charter was accordingly prepared, and received the King’s signature; but before it came to the great seal stopped in the hanaper office upon receiving an account of Bacon’s insurrection.

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But though the charter did not pass the great seal, King Charles II from that time, and his successors ever since, have inserted the several clauses of it relative to the power of the General Assembly in their commissions to their governors, who have “full power and authority, by and with the advice of the Council to call General Assemblies, and by and with the advice and consent of the Council and Assembly or the major part of them respectively, to make, constitute, and ordain laws, statutes, and ordinances for the public peace, welfare, and good government of the colony, and the people and inhabitants thereof.” “Which laws, statutes, and ordinances, of what nature or duration soever, are to be within three months or sooner after the making of them transmitted unto the King under the public seal of the colony for the royal approbation or disallowance. And in case all or any of them shall at any time be disallowed and not approved and so signified by the King under his sign manual or by the Privy Council unto the governor or commander-in-chief of the colony for the time being, then such and so many as shall be disallowed and not approved shall from thenceforth cease and determine and be utterly void and of no effect.”

From this short review of our constitution it may be observed that the people have an original right to a legal government, that this right has been confirmed to them by charter, which establishes the General Assembly with a general power “to make, ordain, and constitute laws, statutes, and ordinances for the public peace, welfare, and good government of the colony.” Which power, by a constant and uninterrupted usage and custom, they have continued to exercise for more than 140 years. And if what Lord Coke says in Calvin’s Case is true, that “where the King by charter or letters patent grants to a country the laws of England or a power to make laws for themselves, he nor his successors can alter or abrogate the same,” we cannot be deprived of this right, even upon the Rector’s principles of passive obedience.

But it may be asked if the King’s assent is not necessary to give sanction to the acts of the General Assembly. I answer, it is necessary. As sovereign, no law can be made without his assent, but then it is not necessary that he should be present in his royal person to give his assent; this is plainly impossible. He therefore gives power by commission under his great seal to his governor to give his assent, which, to speak in the language of the law, is in this case a teste meipso7 and gives life and being to the laws in the same manner as if he was present in his royal person.

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The King frequently gives his assent to acts of Parliament by commission to persons appointed for that purpose; he does the same thing by his commission to the governor, who thereby becomes the King’s representative in his legislative character, so that the governor’s assent to laws here is in effect the King’s assent. But as the King cannot be informed of the nature of the laws passed by his commissioner while under the consideration of the General Assembly, he reserves to himself a power of abrogating them, notwithstanding his commissioner’s assent; and from the time of such abrogation, and not before, they are to cease and determine.

But Colonel, said I, notwithstanding you have deduced your history of the constitution from the royal grants and the established principles of the English government, His Reverence is in the right. He relies upon the King’s instructions to the governor, which ought not to be infringed, but must have the force and obligation of laws upon us.

I have, replied the Colonel, a high reverence for the majesty of the King’s authority, and shall upon every occasion yield a due obedience to all its just powers and prerogatives; but submission, even to the supreme magistrate, is not the whole duty of a citizen, especially such a submission as he himself does not require. Something is likewise due to the rights of our country and to the liberties of mankind. To say that a royal instruction to a governor, for his own particular conduct, is to have the force and validity of a law, and must be obeyed without reserve, is at once to strip us of all the rights and privileges of British subjects, and to put us under the despotic power of a French or Turkish government. For what is the real difference between a French edict and an English instruction if they are both equally absolute? The royal instructions are nothing more than rules and orders laid down as guides and directions for the conduct of governors. These may and certainly ought to be laws to them, but never can be thought, consistently with the principles of the British constitution, to have the force and power of laws upon the people. Which is evident from this plain reason: promulgation is essential to the nature of laws, so that no law can bind any people before it is declared and published to them; but the King’s instructions are to be kept secret and not published to us, no not even to the Council, unless the governor thinks it for the King’s service. “You are to communicate,” says one of these instructions to the governor, “unto our Council of Virginia from time to time, such and so many of our instructions as you shall find convenient for our service.” So that from the instructions themselves it is evident the Edition: current; Page: [1804] King does not intend them as laws to his people. Besides, the royal instructions are drawn up in England by ministers who from their distant situation from us cannot have so full and perfect a view of affairs in the colony as is necessary for those who are to be legislators and supreme directors of them. Sudden emergencies will arise; present occasions will be lost; and such quick and unexpected turns are perpetually happening in all sublunary affairs as require the utmost vigilance and celerity, and can never stay for such a distant guidance and command. The ministers in England see nothing with their own eyes that is passing amongst us and know nothing upon their own knowledge, and therefore are very improper legislators to give laws to the colony. The King’s instructions, then, being only intended as guides and directions to governors, and not being obligatory upon the people, the governors are only answerable for a breach of them, and not the General Assembly; and if they are answerable only, they have the only right of determining whether their passing acts upon particular emergent occasions is contrary to the spirit and true meaning of their instructions or not. In short, Sir, the Council and House of Burgesses have a right to present any act relative to the internal government of the colony to the governor for his assent without violating any instruction; and the governor has a right, as the King’s commissioner representing the royal person, to give or refuse his assent to such act as he may think it agreeable or contrary to his instructions directing his conduct in this particular. This I say, Sir, the Council and House of Burgesses may do, from the general powers with which they are invested by the constitution, without being guilty of attempts to restrain the power of the royal prerogative; which being committed to the governor, he is to determine how he is to exercise it and no other person has anything to do with it in this case. From hence then it is evident that the General Assembly may pass an act which alters or repeals an act that has received the royal approbation without destroying the old constitution or attempting to bind the King’s hands; and if such act is passed, it must have the force and obligation of a law until the King declares his royal disallowance of it.

But since the royal instructions are so much insisted on by the Rector, I will examine whether the same doctrine I have endeavored to establish may not be deduced from them.

I have no copy of the instructions relating to this question, nor have I been able to procure one; but as I have formerly read them, I believe I can recite them tolerably exact.

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By these instructions the governor is “not to give his assent to any act that alters or repeals any other act without a suspending clause, although the act to be altered or repealed has not had the royal approbation, unless in cases of great emergency; nor is he to give his assent to any act that alters or repeals any other act which has had the royal approbation without first obtaining the King’s permission, under the penalty of being removed from his government and incurring the King’s highest displeasure.” Now I infer from these instructions that, admitting the governor should pass an act contrary to them, he subjects himself to the penalties inflicted on him for a breach of his instructions, but the act so passed by him has the obligation of a law until the King’s disallowance of it; for if such act is void, ab initio,8 the instructions would be absurd, because to restrain the governor from passing an act which when passed is as absolutely void as if it had never existed, is absurd and useless.

Our sovereign, therefore, knowing that from the fundamental principles of the constitution such act must have the force of a law when passed by the governor, has restrained him from giving his assent in such a case under particular personal penalties, but has left the act to its course until he thinks proper to repeal it by his disapprobation.

But this is not all; for as the governor may pass an act in a case of great emergency though contrary to the general tenor of the instructions, it would involve a greater absurdity, if possible, should an act be void ab initio which he passes by virtue of the general powers given him by his commission under the King’s great seal, and another act passed by him under the same authority have the force of a law because the governor is of opinion that the exigencies of the colony make such act necessary. Under such a construction the case is plainly this: the governor passes an act in a case of great exigency contrary to the strict letter of his instructions, which act shall have the force of a law because he thinks the circumstances of the colony require it; but if he passes such an act when he thinks the circumstances of the colony do not require it, such act shall be void ab initio. This is like the absolution in the Romish Church, which is of no effect, though proclaimed with a loud voice, unless the intention of the priest accompanies, and is too absurd to deserve any further consideration. And yet into such an absurdity Edition: current; Page: [1806] must you fall, Sir, when you contend that such an act is void ab initio, from a construction of the royal instructions to the governor.

Neither will the Rector’s hearsay account* of one of the revised laws make any alteration in the case, for the land law that was altered by this revised law never received the royal assent; but the reason why this revised law laid some time dormant and unobserved was that as it affected the King’s grants of his lands, a suspending clause was added to it so that it could have no operation until the royal approbation of it was obtained. And though this approbation was obtained, it was not known to us until several years after, when Mr. Montague, our present agent, by direction from the committee of correspondence, inquiring after it found it in the Council office in England and transmitted it to us, from which time it became in force here.

But Colonel, said I, though all this may be true I am at a loss to know what good reason can be given for an order of the late Assembly to support the vestries against the appeals of the clergy, and not an order for supporting private contractors against the merchants. When, Sir, answered the Colonel, you can produce an instance of a merchant or any other person except the Rector and two or three of his brethren bringing suits to try the validity of an act of the legislature, I will give you a reason why the merchants were not included in the order of the late Assembly. I suppose from what you say you would insinuate as if the Assembly pointed the clergy out as the particular objects of their resentment; but in this you are mistaken. An action was brought in the General Court by the Rector against the collector of his parish levy on purpose to controvert the power of the General Assembly in making laws, or rather to render their power a mere cipher. It behoved them then to support their own authority and the validity of their own acts against every attempt to destroy it; and from hence it was that by an order of the late Assembly the collector of York-Hampton parish levy was to be defended in the Rector’s suit against him at the public expense.

Thus, Sir, I have endeavored to obviate the Rector’s arguments and to convince you that the General Assemblies were not setting up the standard of rebellion against the King’s authority when they passed the acts which have given this patriot Rector such great offense. The insults offered by him to the legislative body of the colony and to private characters are Edition: current; Page: [1807] certainly carried to a great height; but whether this is owing to the panic he is thrown into lest the old constitution should be destroyed or to satisfy a malevolent and turbulent temper, is not worth my time to inquire. I have avoided repeating what I said formerly in my letters upon this subject, so must desire you to consider those letters as part of my present defense, since I cannot think that the Rector has given any answer to them.

I know that the plainest demonstration is lost upon men who are under the influence of prejudice or an obstinate disposition of mind. Such men will never want ground for wrangling, especially if they have any by-purposes to serve. But notwithstanding the artful endeavors and invidious representations of such men, I make no doubt that you will, from a sincere desire of promoting truth and the public good, give an impartial decision in this dispute, which I shall submit to you after observing that whoever throws out reflections on the acts of the legislature as plainly tend to weaken their authority, let his profession of patriotism be otherwise ever so specious, is so far an enemy to his country.

Colonel, said I, I have not sufficiently considered this matter to form a just opinion of it; but as His Reverence is a great master of reason and acquainted with the nature and principles of government, I will communicate this conference to him, which, as soon as he has reconnoitered, I doubt not will receive a proper reply.

And thus, may it please Your Reverence, the conference broke up of which I have given you this faithful account. I shall be extremely rejoiced if you can find leisure from the laborious and painful duties of your pastoral office to send forth a reply to the Colonel’s arguments; but

  • Cum tot sustineas et tanta negotia solus,
  • . . . moribus ornes,
  • Legibus emendes; in publica commoda peccem,
  • Si longo sermone morer tua tempora . . .9

I am, may it please Your Reverence, with the utmost deference and esteem,

Your most obedient servant,
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Appendix Number I

Richard Bland
Bland, Richard
October 25th, 1763
John Camm
Camm, John

To the Rev. Mr. John Camm, Rector of YORK-HAMPTON.


Colonel Landon Carter and myself have at length fallen under your correction. It has been delayed, indeed, a good while; and you tell us in excuse your intention was not to answer us at all, otherwise than by a trial in the ordinary court of judicature, until you was advised by your friends that this was too long a coming, and the colonels would have reason to think themselves neglected. But this certainly cannot be a good reason for withholding your chastisement from us for more than three years; however, I should be satisfied with it if I did not believe you had at least another motive for not letting us hear from you until this time. The motive I mean is, I confess, a little Jesuitical and does no great honor to your candor and integrity; but then it is a strong instance of your sagacity, a virtue in your estimation infinitely more valuable than either of the former. You, Sir, have a cause with the collectors of your parish levy to be determined [by] this General Court; and your pamphlet appears mighty properly for that trial.

But let your reason for appearing in print at this time be what it will, I should think the rude and uncivil language that hath been brawled out by Colonel Carter and myself, too rapid with rage and rancor to be free from foam and froth should not have been exceeded by a person of your urbanity and politeness; but you, who always act so consistently with your own character, have managed this controversy into which you are pleased to enter with the colonels with a rage and rancor ten times more foaming and frothy than those are actuated with on whom you have thought proper to discharge the overflowings of your good nature. But perhaps, Sir, according to the language of your first memorial to the Lords of Trade, you was so diligently employed in a painful and laborious performance of your function amongst your parishioners that you had no time to examine your weapons properly; and as scurrility and venomous abuse were nighest at hand and most easily to be come at, you employed them in your defense instead of reason and argument flowing in a gentle and pellucid stream.

You, Sir, seem to imitate those reasoners who, to use the words of an ingenious divine, are very prolix in invalidating arguments which nobody lays any stress upon; but when they are really strong and impregnable, they Edition: current; Page: [1809] would fain slip them over as hastily as they can and take a slight cursory notice of them. Very material objections are to them like marshy ground: a man may make a shift to run lightly and nimbly over it, but if he ever treads leisurely and dwells long upon one place, he infallibly sinks.

This is evident as well from your manner of managing your arguments against the Two-Penny Act, as you call it, as from your way of examining the facts contained in my Letter to the Clergy. In the one case you do not give a just account of the tobacco made or the price it sold at in the scarce year, nor do you consider the advantages arising from it to the people in general, in opposition to the disadvantage a few individuals suffered by means of it, which, I presume, ought to be a principal consideration with legislatures in forming of laws. In the other case you jumble into one confused and undigested heap distinct points that have not the least connection with one another, and pronounce with the authority of an overbearing pedagogue that my rambling declaration is contrary almost in every instance to the truth, and foreign to the purpose.

Without pursuing you through the maze of your disjointed arguments, I will exhibit a specimen of your way of reasoning from your miscellaneous remarks.

The Bishop of London tells the Lords of Trade, in his letter to them, that within these few years past the people of Virginia were ALL members of the Church of England, and NO dissenters among them; but these days are over. In answer to this part of the bishop’s letter, I show that there were dissenters in the colony above 100 years ago; and I say, unless the memorialists can procure a repeal of the Act of Toleration, and establish a hierarchy upon Archbishop Laud’s principles, I will venture to pronounce we shall always have them. In another part of my letter I compare the conduct of some conventioners to Romish inquisitors, as to the secret manner of carrying on their transactions.

Now in answer to these two distinct and very different parts of my letter, you express your astonishment at my casting the conduct of Archbishop Laud in your teeth, and not forgetting to compare you to Romish inquisitors. And, which must certainly be the strongest and most convincing reason in the world for disproving what I say, you charge upon me, what I am sure you do not know, my own practice of officiating as a clergyman in the churches of the parish where, with a sarcasm peculiar to men of your uncommon wit, you say I make the most conspicuous figure.

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This I must confess is to me a new way of reasoning; but if it is a conclusive one, suffer me to try how it will do in another case.

By the statutes against nonresidence, the parson is obliged to reside constantly in his parish to discharge the several duties of his office; but the Rector of York-Hampton hath deserted his parish, and is scarce ever in it to perform the duties of his office. Therefore his Single and Distinct View is almost in every instance contrary to the truth and foreign to the purpose.

If this is good logic I will submit it to every impartial person to determine whether I have not the advantage in the argument, since my major proposition is known to be true by all the lawyers, and my minor is known to be true by all the inhabitants of York-Hampton, let my conclusion be what it will. But your argument is not true in any part of it.

This instance, cum multis aliis, quae nunc prescribere longum est, but may be found almost in every page of your masterly work, is sufficient to expose your sophistry in the management of this controversy.

But let me ask you, what has my officiating in the church as a clergyman, suppose it true, or Colonel Carter’s founding a free school in his parish for the instruction of the poor and ignorant in the duties of religion, to do in a question upon the utility of the act of Assembly that gives you so great offense? Are you enraged with us for actions which, without your learned commentary, when truly known, may be commendable? Or do you collect all the trash you can from shrubs and bushes, with a purpose to swell your notable performance to the size of a thirty-penny pamphlet, that you may be reimbursed the large sums you have expended out of your own pocket in contending to make the professors useful at the college.

I remember to have read in some book or other that, after a long and tedious argument of a cause in one of the courts in England, in which much was said quite foreign to the purpose, the judge, when he came to deliver his opinion, told the counsel they had made the cause like a Banbury cheese, from which, if the bad and unsound parts were pared, the remaining good would be reduced to a very small size. Your Single and Distinct View may then most justly be compared to a Banbury cheese: pare off the scurrility and abuse, the false reasoning, and more false facts, and it will be reduced to less than the title page.

In answer to your scurrility and personal abuse, as I despise what you can say of me, I shall only observe that, like the Yahoo in Lemuel Gulliver, you Edition: current; Page: [1811] fling your filth about you in such a manner that no cleanly person can come within your reach without disgust.

I have before exhibited a specimen of your false reasoning, and would in this place produce many more instances of it; but as a particular recital of them will much exceed the limits prescribed me by the printer in his paper, I must content myself with desiring every reader who thinks you or me worthy his notice to compare those parts of your Single and Distinct View wherein I am mentioned with my Letter to the Clergy, and they will easily discover them without my animadversions.

But though false reasoning can easily be discovered by every intelligent reader, false facts cannot be known but from evidence which every reader may not perhaps be acquainted with; it will be necessary therefore for me to consider particularly those you have advanced. You say you have met with two VERY CREDIBLE accounts of the tobacco shipped in the scarce year to Britain, one of them an IMPERFECT one amounting to 25,000 hogsheads, the other to 35,000. The impropriety of your expression in this part of your remarks, that an IMPERFECT account should be a CREDIBLE one, would not be worth noticing if I had not to do with a person who writes with so much exactness and precision, and who has employed above three years in composing his mighty work. But, Sir, even this imperfect account exceeds the quantity of tobacco shipped the scarce year if the receiver general’s accounts are to be credited. By his accounts, only 24,169 hogsheads were shipped; and if you had inquired, you might have known that at least 5,000 of these hogsheads were of the preceding year’s crop and the property of merchants residing in Great Britain in the hands of their factors here, and that full 1,000 hogsheads of the tobacco made in the scarce year were brought from the neighboring provinces; so that upon a just state of the account it will appear that not 20,000 hogsheads were made in this colony that year. But I will suppose 20,000 hogsheads were made. Computing then this number of hogsheads at 1,000 each, and allowing the number of tithables to be 120,000, which is 8,000 less than you suppose them to be, it will appear that the tobacco made in the scarce year does not come to 170 pounds for each tithable. But when the clergy’s salaries, the secretary’s, county court clerks’ and sheriffs’ fees, with the expenses of the several parishes exclusive of the clergy’s salaries and expenses of the several counties, which at a very moderate computation will be found to exceed 4,650,000 pounds of tobacco, I say when these expenses are deducted it will be found that not 100 pounds Edition: current; Page: [1812] of tobacco will be remaining for each tithable to maintain themselves and families and to support the late war in that dreadful year.

The circumstances that the people labored under in that year I have particularly described in my letter, which you have not been hardy enough, now you are upon the spot where truth can be discovered, to deny; though I have been informed by good authority when you was in England you told the Lords of Trade in your second memorial to them that the scarcity complained of was mere pretense.

In answer to what you say of the injury the clergy received by the Two-Penny Act, which is what your long list of names and accurate calculations are intended to show, as I have not as yet been under your tuition to learn confidence enough to contest self-evident facts, I shall admit to be true in part; but then let me examine whether the consequences you mention are justly deducible from thence.

Suppose the rich men who had tobacco due to them from their poor tenants could possibly have acted upon the same principles that seem to govern your conduct. Would not these poor tenants have felt the inconveniences of that year in a more affecting manner than they did under the protection of that act? If you could have compelled these rich men to pay any price for their proportion of your salary you had thought proper to exact from them, could not they have meted the same measure to their poor tenants? And in this case, would not the tenants have been the only sufferers? The same reason extends to all kinds of tobacco debtors, and indeed in a good degree to those money debtors the produce of whose labor was not sufficient to subsist their families; and you yourself must acknowledge, if you will acknowledge any truth, that thousands of the people were under such circumstances.

But allowing that the tobacco creditors had a right to receive their tobacco under the several laws that establish their salaries and fees or a compensation in money adequate to the value of tobacco that year, what ought this compensation to be? And here you will find that your account of the price of tobacco the scarce year is no less false than your other facts. In the beginning of the inspection that year, crop tobacco sold at about 27 or 28 shillings; it did rise afterwards to 35 and 40 shillings, and for a short time was as high as 50, and some of the best crops sold at 52 shillings and six pence, occasioned by a man who commenced a purchaser without any design of paying; but it soon fell, and in the month of June was down as low as 35 shillings. The Edition: current; Page: [1813] public collectors could not distrain upon the people until the 10th of April, and the public creditors could not legally demand their tobacco from the collectors until the 10th of June, so that at the time your salary was due, crop tobacco was at 35 shillings; but as yours was transfer tobacco, and not equal to crop in value, it would not have produced that price; and yet in your computation you make your salary worth 50 shillings the hundredweight. Credat Judaeus Apella, non ego.10

Your insinuations that the General Assembly are attempting to restrain the power of the royal prerogative are too contemptible to deserve any reply; but your charge against me relative to my account of the minister of Norfolk’s conversation with me requires a particular answer. You say that gentleman was always dissatisfied with the act I mention in that part of my Letter to the Clergy where I am speaking of Norfolk and Princess Anne. Now I repeat it here that I myself have heard that gentleman declare he was satisfied with it, and I am ready to produce at least three gentlemen, at this time in this city, who will declare he did not always express an utter dislike of it; and I can likewise prove, by gentlemen also in this city, that he said he left your convention and refused to contribute towards your agency as he disapproved of your scheme. Could I attain to the sublimity of your diction I might very justly exclaim out on this occasion, O John Camm! opprobrious John Camm! no good cometh out of John Camm.

I assure you my principal design in making you this address is to obviate this reflection, flung out by you with so much malevolence against my private character. Indeed, I did not regard it myself, as it came from you; but I did not know what credit it might meet from persons unacquainted with you or me. For the future, whatever productions you may think proper to send forth against me, I shall treat them as they deserve, with a silent contempt.

I am, as I ought to be, In every respect, yours.
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Number II

John Camm
Camm, John

Observations on Colonel BLAND’s Letter to the Reverend JOHN CAMM, Rector of York-Hampton, published in the Virginia Gazette October 28, 1763.


This is humbly to acquaint you that Colonel Richard Bland’s letter directed to me in the Gazette is come safe to hand; and according to report I am in imminent danger of being knocked down with a folio volume from the other colonel, 50 pages of it being already finished. But this is none of my business at present; for why should I anticipate misfortunes? It is enough to bear them with fortitude when they arrive.

My present antagonist seems to give up several posts, the strength of which was magnified until they fell into the enemy’s hands; but now when they are no longer tenable by the original possessor, according to a usual turn in war, they are undervalued as of little consequence. He fights as he runs, to secure as handsome a retreat as possible. He shifts his ground and entrenches himself in new encampments. Well, it is still his place to lead and mine to pursue. Farewell then all attempts to prove an act to be made in salutem populi11 for the very preservation and subsistence of the people, which, whatever the respectable enactors intended, is in its own nature a plain attack upon private property, on the foundations of commerce, on the provision for an established church, on the principles of free government, on the King’s authority, on the stability of private and public faith, on everything which a British subject has just cause to value himself upon. Adieu to that most pressing necessity which Colonel Bland told us was the only thing that could justify any departure from the established rule of right or the passing certain acts without a suspending clause, which necessity for the act in question wants nothing to make it fit for the Colonel’s purpose but a possibility of existence. Good night to the famous petition, which as the petition of the whole clergy was to effect terrible things, but as the petition of one individual is unable to perform any mighty matter. And lastly, peace to the ashes of the kings of Babylon, Turkish slaves, harpies, beasts of prey, monsters, and tithe pigs. No, I beg Colonel Bland’s pardon, the tithe pig belongs to the other colonel, and must be kept cold for his particular Edition: current; Page: [1815] entertainment, as I understand him to be a great lover of cold roast pig. I wish among the kings of Babylon, etc., I could have buried Archbishop Laud and the Romish inquisitors; but these obstinate warriors still keep the field, and like some heroes in romance insist upon being killed over again.

The Colonel sets off with detecting a horrible machination of mine in publishing my Single and Distinct View at so critical a time, for which he pronounces me to be Jesuitical, and kindly informs me what little value I set upon candor and integrity, resolving, I suppose, that the letters which have passed between Mr. Royle and me relative to the time and manner of my publishing are not authentic, and that my pretended voyage to the metropolis of Maryland is all an invented trick. As to my setting little value upon candor and integrity, I hope the Colonel will be convinced to the contrary by my leaving them in his hands, and desiring that he will show his regard for them by trying to hold them fast. As to my being Jesuitical, I can only entreat him to give over fancying that to tease an adversary with cant terms and to talk to the purpose are one and the same thing. Once upon a time terms of this kind would have done wonders, but at present they are somewhat out of date, and no more regarded than an old almanac. But the Colonel talks of a cause that I have with the collectors of my parish levy. If it be so as he says, let him tell whether it be usual for the legislature of a free government to interfere in a private lawsuit by making an order to support one private subject against another. If this be usual, I shall be glad to be better informed. The Colonel says the above cause is to be determined this General Court, in which I have the misfortune to find him a false prophet. I desire the readers to take notice that, as I was acquainted by my attorney, then here but now in England, my vestry would not agree that the collectors should stand suit with me until they were assured that the General Assembly would bear the expense of an appeal, and that several private contractors with the merchants gave up the point in dispute for want of the like assurance.

I cannot help being diverted at the Colonel’s scolding so bitterly against scurrility. He is pleased to confess that I exceed both Their Worships in scurrility, which I assure you is no ordinary victory; and therefore he is entitled to my thanks for so easily ceding to me this honor. As he has not condescended to particularize any scurrilous words of mine, I suppose he means his own words, which I have returned to him in as good condition as I received them. I find the Colonel is of their turn who like to be very sharp and cutting themselves, but do not like to be attacked with the same weapons, who Edition: current; Page: [1816] will fight anybody in the way of wit and argument, provided they may be allowed the use of a small sword against their adversary’s penknife. So the overseer is hugely delighted to exercise the cowskin upon others; but if any bystander presume to snatch it out of his hand and let him feel the weight of it a little, he takes it very unkindly, grows furious, and strikes the first person, whether friend or foe, who has the misfortune to be placed within the reach of his arm. These gentlemen act herein as if they had obtained an exclusive right to the trade of scurrility. If they have, they have nothing to do but to produce their patent. After all, the Colonel is not the proper person to determine finally whether I have been scurrilous or not, but this must be left to the decision of the readers of every degree; and if they bring me in guilty, as they are the judge and jury and everything with me at present, I have nothing further to urge but only to recommend myself to their mercy, hoping they will consider that my scurrility was provoked defensive scurrility, and suffer this consideration to have its due effect in mitigating the rigor of the penalty.

The Colonel next tells us that his salus populi,12 his most pressing necessity, which was once the only thing that could bring him off and justify the act in debate and all the other arguments which I have endeavored to invalidate, he no longer lays any stress upon. That’s a good Colonel now! This is very kind; this is meeting me more than half way; we shall be quite agreed presently. But hold, the Colonel has still got some impregnable fortresses. He is not indeed so indiscreet a commander as to tell me in what their strength consists, but he makes me in some measure acquainted with their situation; by which I am afraid the foundation is bad upon which they are erected, for it seems they stand on marshy and rotten ground. Now if I have run lightly over the Colonel’s marshy ground in saying no more of this marshy ground than he has, he has run as lightly over it as I have done; and therefore the worst that can be concluded against me from hence is that the Colonel and the Parson of York-Hampton are equally expert in bog-trotting.

The Colonel says that I have not given a just account of the tobacco made or the price it sold at in the scarce year. I do not pretend to be exact to a pound of tobacco or to a shilling in money, which I think I have told the public already. Why will the Colonel have me to be infallible when I disclaim any such pretensions? The Colonel talks of what ought to be a principal Edition: current; Page: [1817] consideration with legislatures in forming laws. I have already endeavored to show either that the occasion of the dispute between the Colonel and me was not a fit object for the legislature of a free government to consider, or if it was, that things have been most grievously and irregularly managed, that the remedy for the supposed evil was worse than the disease. The Colonel seems to think that he has nothing to do but to prove that there was some disorder or inconvenience had happened to some members of the community here, whereas it lies upon him to show that a safe and adequate remedy was made use of for their relief. To do some good to a green wound in the extremities by throwing the whole body politic into a declining and hectic condition is no sound nor commendable practice. Whether the Colonel or I jumble most, or ramble most, or are most foreign to the purpose is become a matter of fact which cannot now be amended, but must be left as it is to the examination of the readers.

The Colonel will not pursue me through the maze of my disjointed arguments. He is in the right, for without engaging in that undertaking he is sufficiently bewildered.

There is no pressing necessity for supposing that the late Bishop of London by the words all and no meant that there was lately a time when there was not a single dissenter in the colony; because the Colonel himself, as we shall see by and by, uses the like kind of terms without designing to have them taken in so strict a sense. But supposing that the old and venerable bishop had made some mistake here, what has this to do with repealing the Act of Toleration or Archbishop Laud’s hierarchy? Was the Bishop of London any enemy to toleration? Are not the clergy in Virginia friends to toleration? Do they desire anything more than that neither the toleration nor the establishment may be sacrificed the one to the other? Does not the Colonel read the public prayers and deliver sermons in the churches of his own parish whenever he pleases? If his zeal should lead him to turn field-preacher, who will take upon them to hinder him? What more toleration would he have? Why I suppose as he goes halves with the parson in the spiritualities, he thinks it but reason that he should have a share in the temporalities too; which purpose the frequent repetition of Two-Penny Acts would answer fully. I hope Archbishop Laud and his hierarchy will not have the assurance to rise up again. What are these horrible secrets for which the conventioners are to be compared to Romish inquisitors? I know of nothing that the conventioners had any occasion to keep secret. I know nothing of their Edition: current; Page: [1818] being more secret than any other body of men on similar occasions. If I do not mistake (for I have not the pamphlets at this instant before me) the two colonels fall upon them both for being too secret and too open in relation to the same article, namely, the Bishop of London’s letter. I beg that these Romish inquisitors may be quiet, and not be so impertinent as to give us any further trouble. Have I brought nothing to disprove what the Colonel says but his own practice of officiating as a clergyman in the churches of the parish wherein he makes the most conspicuous figure? Why did he not put in delivering sermons too? The Colonel says I do not know him to make use of this practice. He means that I never was one of his congregation. True; but what then? What if I know those who have been made a part of his congregation? Will not their evidence be sufficient?

We must now view the Colonel in his meridian glory, armed at all points in a logical coat of mail, drawing up his majors and his minors and allied army of lawyers, rank and file. With all this apparatus, to do what? To attack a windmill instead of a giant, for there is just as much connection between a windmill and a giant as there is between my residing a mile or two out of my parish and the dispute about Two-Penny Acts; and anger makes more Don Quixotes than ever were made by reading romances or books of chivalry. But let us muster these majors and minors with the forces under their command and examine how they can perform their exercise. Upon this the Colonel is so hardy as to risk the fortune of the day; and if he will abide by his own criterion, I am afraid he is in great danger of a total overthrow. First, for the Colonel’s major; it is this: “By the statutes against nonresidence the parson is obliged to reside constantly in his parish to discharge the several duties of his office.” How does the Colonel prove this major proposition? It is known, he says, to be true by all the lawyers. Has the Colonel consulted all the lawyers in the universe? Has he consulted all or half the lawyers in Virginia? If the Colonel does not mean by this expression all the lawyers above 50 of that numerous body, then let him learn to forgive that learned, religious, and public-spirited prelate, the late Bishop of London, his all and no. Be it known to the readers that I have received advice on this point of nonresidence wherewith I am so well satisfied that whenever the Colonel or anybody else shall be pleased to proceed legally against me for what is injurious to no living soul, I am willing to contest the matter; and if I cannot support myself against the charge, I know I must suffer the penalty in that behalf made or provided, which I hope to bear with patience. The Edition: current; Page: [1819] Colonel justly remarks the use of residence, which is that the parson may discharge the several duties of his office. And what if these be discharged without residing as well as they could be by residence, in any part of my parish? Nay, what if they be discharged better, as I have more opportunity now of getting assistance when confined at home by pain or sickness than I could have if resident in any part of my parish? What foundation then can there be left for complaint? Does the Colonel think that the statutes can oblige those Virginia clergymen to reside in their parishes whose glebes and houses are placed out of their parishes? If the Colonel does not, then he will allow some exceptions in the case of residence, and some good reasons for nonresidence. But it is time to look after the Colonel’s minor proposition, which is this: “The Rector of York-Hampton hath deserted his parish, and is scarce ever in it to perform the duties of his office.” How does the Colonel prove this minor proposition? He says it is known to be true by all the inhabitants of York-Hampton. All again! Why will the Colonel lay himself so open? I am almost ashamed to take this advantage of an angry man in single combat. Is it not amazing that in an attempt to clear himself, when questioned in point of veracity, this writer should utter one of the most palpable, barefaced, and impudent falsehoods that ever was invented? If there be a single Negro in my parish so abandoned as to agree to the Colonel’s minor proposition, I will beg his master to let him become one of the Colonel’s congregation, for I despair of his ever receiving any good from me. And now let the readers decide whether the Colonel’s logical outrage will ever prove him to have the advantage of the argument. If the Colonel pleases to excuse all this falsehood by attributing it to confusion (which I believe he knows to have been pleaded very lately in excuse for an arrant detected falsehood, at a time too when the person I speak of was in the act of clearing up his character), I have no objection to its going as far as can be desired with the readers. Could the Colonel forget himself so far as to think of awing, with a fierce and bullying look, all my parishioners into false witnesses? Why must I be continually called upon to put the Colonel in mind of the smallness of that circle within which his domineering influence is, or ought to be, circumscribed? Had the Colonel gone no further than to accuse me of neglect of duty in my parish, and to found this charge upon his believing I was too defective in memory to be able to pronounce the names of half the people in my parish, that is of half the free subjects and half the slaves on perusing their faces, I am sorry to say he would have had better authority for this accusation Edition: current; Page: [1820] than I could have wished. He would have had that of a very respectable person, to whom I am obliged for several favors, and with whom it gives me pain to have any dispute of this nature. However, this gentleman must excuse me for adding on this occasion in my own defense that in charging me with neglect of duty I think he is mistaken in point of fact; that in bringing this charge behind my back he did not act so handsomely as I had reason to expect from one of his station and character; and that in laying the matter before the Visitors and Governors of the college there appears to me something of absurdity, because these gentlemen have not, that I know of, undertaken to extend their authority over the parochial affairs of York-Hampton. It would grieve me to appear ungrateful for favors; but I must say that if any person understands by doing me the greatest favor that he thereby acquires any right to treat me in other matters as he pleases, he is in an error. I will not purchase favor at any such dear rate. Had this gentleman condescended to be explicit to me on the head of duty, I might either have been better informed concerning my duty, or else I might have found that he and I differ about the precise meaning of the complex term duty, just as the colonels and I differ about the ideas which ought to be comprised under the terms charity, poverty, and necessity; for the syllogistical Colonel must know that most disputes, when thoroughly canvassed, are found to end in mere logomachies. Thus much with regard to the gentleman with whom I wish to be upon good terms. With regard to any others it is sufficient to say that I do not look upon either the clergy or the masters of the college to be purely hired and public butts for the patrons of ignorance or irreligion to shoot their arrows at by way of exercise or amusement.

Having studied to find out what connection there could be between my neglect of duty in my parish and the dispute between the Colonel and me, I have stumbled upon an incident which makes me think that the Colonel does believe I went to Annapolis and that Mr. Jonas Green really printed my Single and Distinct View; and on this incident, as I take it, is founded the connection which it has cost me so much labor to investigate. For you must know that by going to Annapolis to publish against Colonel Bland (hinc illae lachrymae)13 I was absent one Sunday from one of my churches, and the person engaged to officiate in my room happened to be too sick to attend. It fell the harder upon the parish as there are no colonels in it Edition: current; Page: [1821] pragmatical enough to be fond of supplying in my absence and exercising my office. When the press here happens to be shut against me, if the Colonel could keep so tight to the duty of my parish as to prevent my having any intercourse with other presses, who knows but he might be easy?

The Colonel talks of my collecting trash from shrubs and bushes. I suppose he here uses the vulgar idiom, and by the word trash means fruit; and if I spend three years in gathering this fruit, provided it be eatable at last, I therein show the public more respect than I should have in presenting them with hastily gathered, green, sour productions; as full of verjuice as an unripe crab, and as rough to the palate as a mouth-distorting persimmon, or, as the common planter emphatically expresses it, wring-jaw cider.

The Colonel’s Banbury cheese is excellent, and is served up in its proper place, close after the fruit, to cure the teeth set on edge by the trash. It will do again and again, on any other occasion as well as this.

Whether the Colonel’s not being able to come near me is owing to my yahoo nature or to something more disagreeable to the Colonel, is left to the readers to determine.

Whereas the Colonel recommends it to the readers to compare what I have said in my Single and Distinct View with his Letter to the Clergy, I have no objection to the sale of his pamphlet. On the contrary, I wish every brother of the quill may meet with proper encouragement.

The Colonel makes rather too much rout concerning the differences between his 24,169 hogsheads and my 25,000. That this observation of the Colonel’s may look the more like something, he dexterously drops the little unfavorable word about; for I had said the credible and imperfect account amounts to about 25,000.

And now suppose, for argument’s sake, that the receiver general’s account should be unfinished, putting down some parts of Virginia blank, may not the Colonel get an idea from hence how an account may be credible as far as it goes, and yet be imperfect? My other account I am informed came from England, where it may be as well known as here what tobacco was shipped that year to Britain. I do not know whether the principles of the Colonel’s calculation be true by which he reduces the crop in the scarce year to 20,000 hogsheads; but if they be, in that case the income of the whole clergy will not amount to a fifteenth part. And a fifteenth of one article of commerce, and no necessary of life, might be paid to the clergy once in fifty years without any heavy burden upon the people; and if it was, I am sure it would be Edition: current; Page: [1822] far enough from putting the other colonel’s tithe pig into any kind of danger. Against the remainder of the preceding crop, and the hogsheads of tobacco which come from other provinces, if the Colonel will descend into these minutiae, he should have set the quantity smuggled and shipped off without inspection. This I presume is not all to be found in the receiver general’s accounts, or in any other account; so that every account of tobacco raised or exported in any one year viewed in this very nice light must fail of exactness and be at the best credible and imperfect. And surely if the Colonel will reckon on the one side what comes hither from other provinces, he ought to reckon too on the other side what goes from hence to other provinces. I do not know how to deduct the secretary’s, county court clerks’, and sheriffs’ fees except the Colonel had produced authentic accounts of them; and therefore I am only led into a maze by this part of the Colonel’s calculations. If the Colonel will give me the liberty he takes of supposing my premises, I will undertake to secure what conclusions I have a mind; but though I do not know how much the above fees come to, this I know, that the price of the scarce crop more than made up for the defect in quantity, besides its causing the next year’s crop to sell better than it otherwise would have done; that the scarce crop was a very valuable crop; that any grievance which could arise from it must arise from the inequality of the shares enjoyed by individuals; that to take from some of the poorest and least gainers and give what was so taken to the richest and greatest gainers by means of the high price and small quantity was augmenting the inequality which caused the grievance if there was any, and thereby augmenting the grievance itself. As to what the Colonel says about supporting the war in that dreadful year, I do not remember whether the war was more dreadful in that year than in other years; but if it was, no exigence of war could give any right or make it expedient and useful for one part of the community to plunder the other, or for some subjects to reimburse themselves for their losses by the war out of the substance of those other subjects who cheerfully contributed their quota towards the expense of the war with the rest of the people. This is like the other colonel’s urging that all the country was poor, and thence arguing not that money must be some way or other got from other countries to relieve the general poverty of this, but that money must be taken from some of the poorest part of the community here and be given to the richest to relieve the general poverty of the richest and render frugality unnecessary among the opulent. I pretend to be as great a friend, at least speculatively, Edition: current; Page: [1823] to the true and real utility of the whole colony as Colonel Bland or anybody else; and I believe (whether the Colonel will believe it or not) that it is an honest zeal of this kind which now prompts me to say that I had rather we had endured almost any evil the Colonel can imagine than that a legislature of a free government should set the example of breaking the firmest agreements, not to mention that original compact concerning which some of the best writers on government enlarge with so much pleasure. The Colonel can tell by the event of the scarce year how grievous it sometimes is to many people for one single man to fail of complying with his agreements.

Whether the Colonel has good authority or not for my telling the Lords of Trade that the scarcity complained of was mere pretense, I hope he will allow me the benefit of the proverb which tells us that a man cannot be hanged for thinking; and he may remember, if he pleases, that the first Two-Penny Act was passed when there was no real scarcity.

What would the Colonel say about an inconsiderable number of tenants? Were all the tenants poor? Could none of them bear one hard year by the success of former years? Did none of them raise good crops in the scarce year and thereby find it in itself a happy year for them? Were none of them to be ranked among those who were much profited by the particular calamity? Could anybody tell better than the landlord himself whether his tenant was an object of charity? Must the landlords as well as the parsons, must everybody, to serve the Colonel’s views, be supposed to be void of compassion, except the charitable corporation, I mean the late Assembly? If anybody but the landlord can remit or dispose of his rents in charity, has he the private property of his lands? Was there no way to relieve such as were in want but by unhinging private property? Could not the sufferers have been separated from the prosperous, the sheep from the goats? Could not a collection of voluntary contributions have been made for the really unfortunate through the colony as there was for the sufferers by fire in Boston? Would not this have answered all just and reasonable purposes much better than such an act of Assembly? Would it not have been more agreeable to the practice of free governments? Would the landlords have acquiesced so quietly under the act had they not been reimbursed and found their account in the scheme one way for what they lost in another? Must the landlord be compelled, in a free government, to relieve the poor tenant by remitting his rents; and must the parson be compelled to reimburse the landlord? Let the Colonel look over my catalogue once more, and tell Edition: current; Page: [1824] me how much of my money went either to poor men, or to poor tenants, or to poor sufferers by any accident whatsoever; and let him not forget that many such catalogues, many such objects of charity, might easily be produced, objects which were rich before the dreadful calamity arrived and still more enriched by the dreadful calamity itself. If all the angry colonels upon earth were to beg me to believe that an act which gives three or four or five shillings, whatever it be, to a poor man in Gloucester, and five or six hundred times as much to Mr. Page, was made for the sake of the poor man in Gloucester and not for the sake of Mr. Page; or that an act which gives a small amount to a few poor tenants and prodigious sums to a promiscuous crowd (of tenants and no tenants, gainers by the high market and no gainers, not in proportion to the poverty but to the riches of each) was made for the sake of the few poor tenants, and not for the sake of the promiscuous crowd; or that Mr. Nicholas, for selling his crop of tobacco in the scarce year for 1500 guineas, and his next crop the better by reason of the preceding scarcity, ought to be ranked among objects of charity; I am so obstinate in this, as well as other points, while I think I have reason and justice on my side, that the angry and imperious colonels might in my mind as well bid me swallow one of the Allegheny Mountains under the pretense that it is but a pill of moderate size which may be gulped down at a single effort with the utmost facility by a patient of any resolution.

If the Colonel cannot prevail for having the Two-Penny Act adjudged law (and God forbid he should); if he cannot get all the lawyers on his side of the question in this debate, his next petition is that the parsons may have as small a compensation by the way of damages as possible. But what if evidence has been already given in one court that tobacco was sold at 50s. a hundred in May and June, and that tobacco to be delivered in August was sold in May at 50s.? What if some of the parsons either did sell or can prove that they could have sold at 50s. in May or June, provided they could have engaged to deliver the tobacco a month or two afterwards? Must not all these things be considered and settled by the jury? Besides, Colonel Bland should not run the tobacco down too low, because this will prove that the poor men, the poor tenants, and the poor sufferers received so much the less relief. As for the rich men and the great gainers, they perhaps could make more of the tobacco by selling it at 50s. than the parsons could have done by selling at 35s. a hundred. When the Colonel can prevail with those who sold their tobacco at 52s. 6d. to refund because the high price was partly Edition: current; Page: [1825] occasioned by a man who commenced purchaser without any design of paying, then will I agree that the parson ought to have less damages on this account, especially from those who sold their tobacco at 52s. 6d. a hundred.

Colonel Bland is pleased to say, “your insinuations that the General Assembly are attempting to restrain the power of the royal prerogative are too contemptible to deserve any reply.” Is not the Colonel a little graveled here? Or, in his own phrase, have I not caught my gentleman here tripping lightly over the marshy ground? I do not insinuate that the General Assembly are, but that some particular Assemblies were, attempting to restrain the power of the royal prerogative. I do not insinuate that Colonel Bland is endeavoring to give the people frightful ideas of the royal prerogative in his letter before me, but that he was doing this in his former letter. Is not passing acts which interfere with acts confirmed by His Majesty, without a suspending clause and without any necessity, attempting to restrain the power of the royal prerogative? Has not Colonel Bland acknowledged that this departure from the established rule of right can be justified by the most pressing necessity alone? Will he eat his own words? I do not believe that Colonel Bland refuses to reply on this head because he thinks my arguments contemptible. For this plain reason I do not believe it, because contemptible arguments are more easily replied to than such as are otherwise. Will the Colonel answer none but sound arguments? If he will not, he discovers a strange delight to show his art of disputation on the wrong side of the question. Barely to say anything is contemptible must, in a dispute, pass for nothing. If Colonel Bland was to vary this phrase, I do not like your arguments, a thousand ways, he would be more tedious than convincing.

Now comes on the minister of Norfolk’s affair. The Colonel repeats it that he heard him say he was satisfied with the Norfolk Act, and has three gentlemen to produce who will declare he did not always express an utter dislike of it. Supposing this to be true, if I had an opportunity I should beg leave to ask the gentlemen a few such questions as these: Did the minister of Norfolk say he was perfectly satisfied with the act? What might he be supposed to mean by being satisfied with the act, from the occasion and circumstances of the discourse? Did he mean that he thought the act just and reasonable in its own nature, or that he was willing to acquiesce rather than disoblige his parishioners? Which Colonel Bland seems willing to make the criterion of a good clergyman. Might he not mean that he was willing to acquiesce rather than be at any considerable expense about it? As Edition: current; Page: [1826] the conversation seems to have been about the time of the last convention: Are you sure the minister spoke of the Norfolk Act and not of the last Two-Penny Act? Observe, Colonel Bland brings this story against the clergy for complaining of an act with which the person immediately concerned was perfectly satisfied, on the maxim I suppose of volenti non fit injuria.14 This is representing the minister of Norfolk as if he originally thought the act just and reasonable, or at least had given his consent for it to be proposed to the General Assembly; so that if this matter was searched to the bottom, I am still apprehensive it would appear that the Colonel had added something to what the minister said, or that if he has not altogether invented a speech, he has, what is almost as bad, invented a meaning for the minister of Norfolk, and is a great improver of small tales into matters of consequence. The Colonel says he can prove, by the evidence of gentlemen, that the minister of Norfolk said, “he left our convention, and refused to contribute to my agency, as he disapproved of our scheme.” This no doubt augmented the minister’s merit with the Colonel; but the Colonel does not now undertake to prove that the minister of Norfolk was ever severely censured by any memorialists for this conduct, which a while ago the Colonel may remember was believed by him to be no difficult matter. There is such a striking difference between what the Colonel now says and what he said before, his assertions are so much rounder in the one place than in the other, that he who will be at the trouble of comparing the passages will not want reason to conclude that the Colonel did exceed his commission from the minister of Norfolk.

I have no desire to meddle with the Colonel’s private character, though he seems to be no sparer of private characters; but if the Colonel will publish daring assertions to the prejudice of others, he makes it the business of everyone injured thereby to dispute his veracity.

And now I endeavor at being as indifferent as I ought to be about either the Colonel’s silent or his vociferous contempt. He is welcome either to amuse himself with the sullens or a more boisterous expression of his resentment. I acknowledge the ancient and undeniable right of a baffled disputant to sit down and dissipate his chagrin by swallowing his own spittle alone, or to give it vent in outrageous exclamations, as he finds it most for his ease and convenience. It must be very grating (and I cannot Edition: current; Page: [1827] help being touched with compassion for him) to a patriot and a Churchman to be caught in such a controversy as this in which Colonel Bland has been a fiery volunteer quite on the wrong side of the question with respect to both these characters.

If anyone thinks me too warm, let him consider the cause in the defense of which I have engaged. I write for liberty and property, for the rights of commerce, for an established church, for the validity of private and public contracts, for free government, for the King’s authority, pro aris et focis. The forces set in battle array against these are charity, poverty, necessity, a particular not a general calamity, which are not the natural enemies of the former, but pressed into the service against their inclination. I am as ready to dispute the prize of patriotism with the Colonel, whenever he pleases, as that of veracity. I believe it would puzzle the Colonel to name a man in the colony who has suffered more for adhering to what he thinks agreeable to reason and justice and the principles of true patriotism than opprobrious John Camm. For engaging so zealously in this contest and in compliance with a public challenge, one worthy gentleman I am told is for having the flesh pulled off my bones with pincers. To do the Colonel justice, though he has some time ago appeared inclinable to call upon the secular arm by insinuating that the administration was too mild in not punishing our atrocious and infatuated behavior, I do not believe that he would approve of this short method of argument by the pincers, because it savors too much of the Romish inquisition. Let Colonel Bland say what he will of me, I am far from saying no good can come out of Colonel Bland. On the other hand, I believe some good may come out of him in his calmer moments, when he does not suffer his passion to make a fool of him. It would be hard if there should not some good come out of him when he is pleased, considering how much evil comes out him when he is disobliged.

At length I think I have got tolerably well rid of this blast from violentus auster without much damage to my sails and rigging, on which the furious puff seems chiefly to have spent its force. If I was but as well over the storm which is gathering from the opposite quarter, why then I think I might sleep soundly without breaking my rest half a dozen times in a cold night to inquire which way the wind is, and on being told that it is either north or south, jumping out of bed and preparing for a hurricane. I wish these blustering deities would peruse the Reverend Mr. Giberne’s once-admired discourse upon peace, and tell us how much better he agrees with the apostle Edition: current; Page: [1828] about peace than a certain gentleman that shall be nameless agrees with him about charity.

  • Oh peace! thou source and soul of social bliss . . .
  • Oh liberty! thou goddess heav’nly bright . . .
  • But what is Hecuba to them, or they to Hecuba!

I hope the sublimity of this conclusion will be to the Colonel’s taste. Readers, until I shall be called upon again to give you further trouble, farewell.

I am your most humble servant,

P.S. Look at the act of Assembly; you will find it was passed (under the influence of a panic terror raised or promoted perhaps by some designing people) on supposition that there would not be tobacco made sufficient to answer the common demands of the country for that year. Look at the Colonel’s calculations in his letter to me; you will see he supposes about 100 pounds of tobacco left for each tithable, over and above what would have answered these demands. A hundred and twenty thousand tithables (as the Colonel supposes) multiplied by 100 and again divided by 1000 will give twelve thousand hogsheads of tobacco of a thousandweight each. Observe the consequences hence arising; that there was more than twice as much tobacco made in the scarce year as the act supposes would be made; that after all the debts of the year deducted, there was more tobacco remaining than the act supposed would be made in the whole; that after all the debts of the year deducted (the clergy having been paid among the rest) there would remain in the hands of the owners about ten times as much of tobacco alone as the clergy’s allowance comes to. These are the consequences from Colonel Bland’s own calculation, taking all his suppositions for granted, whereas several of them may be doubted, and one of them is undoubtedly false, namely, his rating the hogsheads shipped at no more than a thousandweight upon an average.

Besides, the tobacco raised in the scarce year was not divided into equal shares and so distributed among the people according to their number of tithables, but some raised little or none, and some had as much as usual. In this consisted the evil, if there was any, which was not remedied but increased by the act. Had such a division of the whole crop been proposed by the Colonel to the General Assembly, it would have been more to the purpose than the act which passed. It would have been a natural and effectual way to remove the Edition: current; Page: [1829] inequality deemed grievous; but that they who raised as good crops as they did commonly, and sold them for thrice the usual price, should receive a charitable donation into the bargain, is what occasions one of the most difficult parts of the Colonel’s talk in justifying the act, which parts the Colonel wisely refuses to buckle to or approach by reason of the difficulty.

The Colonel expresses himself very strangely when he speaks of the tithables maintaining themselves and their families and supporting the late war in that dreadful year as if all the tithables were free subjects, when in truth more than three fourths of them are slaves, not possessors of estates, but estates themselves, and maintained (chiefly at least) out of the grain and other produce, the profits of merchandise, and the advantages made by mechanical businesses.

I do not like the Colonel’s affecting to call the scarce year that dreadful year or his seeming to grudge the expense of a war (so happy and successful, so interesting and beneficial to Virginia) in that dreadful year. I dare say, bating a groundless alarm or two, the Colonel enjoyed his fireside very quietly in that dreadful year. And what if he did pay his proportion towards the support of the war in that dreadful year? Why should this appear to give him such deep regret? Would he have had the brave fellows who ventured their lives for his defense to have fought for nothing in that dreadful year?

Since the above was written, Mr. Smith, the late minister of Norfolk, who, as far as I am able to judge, has been the innocent occasion of a dispute between Colonel Bland and me, has appeared in the Gazette in his own justification. From whence it is clear that he said he was satisfied with the Two-Penny Act which did not affect him, but never said he was satisfied with the Norfolk and Princess Anne Act, which proved in the end to be a Three-Half-Penny Act, under the lash of which he was left by the Two-Penny Act. On the other hand, after Colonel Bland has given a particular account of the petition for this Three-Half-Penny Act in his Letter to the Clergy, page the 12th, his following words are: “This petition was thought extremely reasonable by the ministers in those counties, as the House of Burgesses were informed by the representatives, and accordingly an act passed for the relief of those people; and I am persuaded the ministers principally concerned never once complained of this act. For I myself have heard the minister of Norfolk (who lives in great harmony with his parishioners, and is much esteemed and respected by them) declare he was perfectly satisfied with it; and I believe it would be no difficult matter to prove that he fell Edition: current; Page: [1830] under the severe censure of these memorialists because he refused to enter into their measures.”

Now let anybody reconcile what Colonel Bland has here said or what he has said in his letter to me with what I have said and what Mr. Smith has said in print, if they can. I have only to add that from the nature of the thing it does not appear probable to me either that the ministers in Norfolk and Princess Anne should think a petition for putting it into the breast of a county court and their parishioners to set a price upon their tobacco extremely reasonable, or that the representatives of those counties, whoever they were, should inform the House of Burgesses that the ministers thought such a petition extremely reasonable.

Number III

John Camm
Camm, John

To the Right Honorable the Lords Commissioners for Trade and Plantations.

The humble representation of the clergy of the Church of England in His Majesty’s colony and dominion of Virginia:


That about the year 1620, in the infancy and first establishment of the said colony, whilst the same was held under grants from the crown to the Virginia Company, that company, in making provision for the clergy, had ordered 100 acres of land in each borough or division to be laid off for a glebe, and for their further maintenance a certain and standing revenue out of the profits of each parish, so as to make each living at least £200 sterling per annum, to be raised by a certain quantity of tobacco and corn per head on tithable persons; and afterwards for a further encouragement that pious, learned, and painful ministers might be invited to go over, the said company ordered six tenants to be placed on each of these glebes at the public expense.

That the said provision for a glebe was enacted into a law by an act of the governor, Council, and Burgesses in General Assembly in the year 1662, which law was again repealed by another act made the 24th of September, 1696; and in lieu thereof, by the last-mentioned act it was enacted that the minister in each parish should have for his maintenance the yearly sum of 16,000 pounds of tobacco besides his lawful perquisites. And the vestries were authorized to raise and levy the same in their respective parishes, as Edition: current; Page: [1831] also to levy 5 per cent for collecting and paying the same; and other matters were thereby enacted for purchasing and laying out a glebe and building a convenient dwelling house for the ministers. Which provision with other advantages also to the minister have been enforced by sundry other additional acts of Assembly passed since that time, and particularly by an act of the year 1727, by which the time for the vestries’ meeting and laying the parish levy was to be on or before the 15th of October yearly. That in the year 1748 an act of Assembly entitled An Act for the Support of the Clergy, and for the Regular Collecting the Parish Levies was passed, which was to take place on the 10th of June, 1751, whereby all former acts relating to provision for the clergy were repealed, and that matter was put upon a new footing, viz., that the sole right of presentation should be in the vestries in the several parishes, and that every minister then already preferred or thereafter to be preferred to any parish should have and receive an annual salary of 16,000 pounds of tobacco and cask, with an allowance of 4 per cent for shrinkage to be levied, assessed, collected, and paid in manner therein directed. That the clergy, hoping that the said regulation was certain, fixed, and determinate, acquiesced under the said act, and His Majesty was graciously pleased to give his royal assent thereto, whereby it became a firm and absolute law not within the power of the Assembly of Virginia of themselves to break through, repeal, or alter, as the clergy conceived; but they very soon found their mistake, for that the same has from time to time since been pretended to be set aside in some instances, partially for some particular parts of the colony, and in others totally, for the whole colony, by a number of acts passed by the Assembly in manifest opposition to His Majesty’s royal instructions to his governor, contrary to common justice, and to the great discouragement, loss, and injury of the clergy of the said colony.

For by one act of Assembly passed in———each of the ministers of the two particular parishes of Frederick and Augusta are to be paid in money at the annual rate of £100 Virginia currency only, in lieu of 16,000 pounds of tobacco and cask. And by another act passed the 26th of June, 1755, as to two other counties of Princess Anne and Norfolk the justices in the county courts are annually to set a price on tobacco not under 10 per cent; and whatever value tobacco may happen to be of, all persons chargeable with tobacco for public dues in those counties are to pay and discharge the same in money at such fixed price. And some other partial acts of the like nature have been pretended to be passed there.

Edition: current; Page: [1832]

And by another more general short temporary act passed in the same year (1755) entitled An Act to Enable the Inhabitants of This Colony to Discharge Their Tobacco Debts in Money for This Present Year (on a pretense that only a small quantity of tobacco was made), all persons from whom any tobacco was due, by any ways or means whatsoever, were to pay the same either in tobacco according to the directions of another act therein referred to, or else in money at the rate of 16s. 8d. per hundred, at the option of the payer; that act to continue in force for the space of ten months, and no longer.

And again, by another general act passed on the 12th of October, 1758, entitled An Act to Enable the Inhabitants of This Colony to Discharge the Public Dues, Officers’ Fees, and Other Tobacco Debts in Money for the Ensuing Year (upon a surmise that the crop might prove deficient), all persons in the colony from whom any tobacco is due, by any ways or means whatsoever, are to pay the same either in tobacco according to the directions of another act therein referred to, or else in money at the rate of 16s. 8d. per hundred, at the option of the payer; this act to continue in force for one year, and no longer.

That by these several acts the condition of the clergy is rendered most distressful, various, and uncertain after a painful and laborious performance of their functions in parishes very wide and extensive, some of them 40 or 50 miles in length, and possessed of numerous inhabitants; and they are deprived of that maintenance which was enacted for them by His Majesty, whose royal authority the said Assembly cannot by law control, and are put upon such unjust and unequal footing that if on the one hand tobacco is plenty and the price low, they are to take the tobacco in kind, but if in other years the price or value is something better, then the clergy are by these short temporary acts stripped of the common benefit and obliged to take money, and that paper currency also at a value to be put upon tobacco by the vestry or the justices, who are the persons that owe and are to pay the greatest parts or shares of the same at a price far beneath the real value; whereby the parishes aim at a power to turn out as well as to nominate the rectors there, it being wholly in their own power to render their provision so very mean as to drive them away from the same, to the great hardship of the clergy, who entered on their function, as they conceived, on the faith of a sure and absolute law, as they imagined, but who find themselves thus unduly deprived of the same not only after the contract made but even after Edition: current; Page: [1833] the duty and service performed, which is a singular hardship upon the body of the clergy in Virginia in general.

That the clergy are advised that it is not in the power of the Assembly to break through the laws confirmed by His Majesty’s royal authority, and that this matter interferes with the royal prerogative in several respects and is forbid by many of the royal instructions, which have been broke through in order to pass these pretended acts there.

That the said acts complained of are made to commence immediately, and contain no suspending clause to wait the royal judgment and pleasure; and some of them are short temporary acts, made only for 10 or 12 months so as to prevent the possibility of the royal consideration of them whilst in continuance: the better to effect which purpose the same are either not sent over at all or at best not until very near the expiration of the same; and the last of the said acts is not yet sent to Your Lordships’ board, though passed on the 12th of October, 1758. But the clergy most humbly present herewith an attested copy of the same: that the convention of the clergy being there most grievously and insupportably injured, have, by their most humble address to His Majesty, implored his royal relief.

And pray of Your Lordships to represent the premises to His Majesty in such manner that not only the said pretended acts may be declared null and void ab initio, but also that such explicit instructions and commands may be sent to His Majesty’s governor that no act may be pretended to be passed there for the future to repeal, alter, or prejudice in any manner the said fundamental act passed in 1758 and confirmed by His Majesty, whereby a certain and fixed maintenance for the clergy in that colony was settled; and to afford the clergy there all such further and other relief in the premises as to Your Lordships, in your great wisdom and justice, shall seem meet.

And they shall ever pray, etc.

Agent appointed by the General Convention of the Clergy in Virginia.

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64: John Dickinson, A Speech, Delivered in the House of Assembly of the Province of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1764)

The demand for royal government in Pennsylvania came to a head in 1764 after the Crown had disallowed several Pennsylvania laws passed in 1759 and the new governor, Richard Penn, a member of the proprietary family, had refused to pass a tax bill unless it followed exactly the stipulations in form set down by the London Privy Council for such measures. This was the last straw for the anti-proprietary group that dominated the Assembly, which proceeded to debate the question of whether it should ask the Crown to take over the colony, adjourned for a few weeks to sound out its constituents on the question, and finally, following the collection of about thirty-five hundred signatures on petitions favoring the change, drew up and voted overwhelmingly for a petition to the Crown to take the colony under its immediate jurisdiction. Among the very few dissenters was the young lawyer John Dickinson, who had spent considerable time in London reading law and observing British politics during the late 1750s and early 1760s. No adherent of the proprietors, Dickinson nonetheless expressed powerful reservations about the timing of the petition in a speech which he subsequently published.

In the speech, the published version of which was introduced by a long preface by an anonymous writer sympathetic to its views, Dickinson was primarily concerned to warn Pennsylvanians of the danger that a transition to the Crown might result in the loss of many, if not all, of the colony’s Edition: current; Page: [1836] peculiar and extensive liberties. Pointing out that the “gale of ministerial favour has in all seasons blown propitious to proprietary interests” and that over the last several years “Every point in which the Proprietors thought fit to make any opposition” had been “decided against us,” Dickinson thought it all too probable that a shift to royal government would deliver Pennsylvania not only “from the government of the Proprietors” but also from “the privileges we claim under them.” “Numerous are the instances, that might be mentioned, of rights vindicated and equitable demands made in this province, according to the opinions entertained here, that in Great-Britain, have been adjudged to be illegal attempts, and pernicious pretensions,” he observed. He noted that the colony still “labour[ed] under the disadvantage of royal and ministerial displeasure” and predicted that British authorities would be dismayed “when they understand that our . . . application for a change, proceeds from the governor’s strict adherence to the terms of stipulations, so solemnly made, and so repeatedly approved, by the late and present King,” that Pennsylvanians “desire[d] to come more immediately under the King’s command BECAUSE they will not obey those royal commands, which have already been signified to them.”

In contrast to the proponents of royal government who surmised that, if the Crown’s ministers did try to take away any of Pennsylvania’s privileges, the British Parliament would intervene to protect them, Dickinson asserted that Pennsylvanians had no reason to expect that “the opinion of Parliament” would be any different from “the undeviating practice of the ministry,” as it had been exhibited “in every instance” in recent years. “At this period, when the administration is regulating new colonies, and designing, as we are told strictest reformations in the old,” he warned, it was unlikely that they would either “grant an invidious distinction in our favour” and thereby distinguish “the People of Pennsylvania . . . from all other subjects, under his Majesty’s immediate government” or exempt them from the metropolitan impulse to ensure “that the prerogative should be exercised with its full force in our American provinces, to restrain them within due bounds, and secure their dependance on this kingdom.”

With this pamphlet, Dickinson initiated a pamphlet war that may be followed through the next selection (see Selection 65). (J.P.G.)

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Delivered in the House of Assembly

of the Province of Pennsylvania,

May 24th, 1764.


One of the Members

for the County of Philadelphia.

On Occasion of a PETITION, drawn up by Order,

and then under Consideration, of the House; praying his

Majesty for a Change of the Government of this Province.


Certe ego libertatem, quae mihi a Parente meo tradita est, experiar; verum id frustra, an ob rem faciam, in vestra manu situm est, Quirites.

Sall. Bel. Jugurth. in Orat. Memmii.

As for me, I will assuredly contend for that glorious plan of

Liberty handed down to us from our ancestors; but whether

my Labours shall prove successful, or in vain, depends wholly

on you, my dear Countrymen!


Printed and Sold by William Bradford,

at his Book-Store adjoining the London Coffee-House.


Edition: current; Page: [1838]


To understand clearly the nature of that dispute which led the Assembly to those measures, which are so justly animadverted on in the following excellent Speech, it will be proper to look a few years backward.

In the year 1759, Governor Denny, whose administration will never be mentioned but with disgrace in the annals of this Province, was induced, by considerations to which the world is now no stranger, to pass sundry acts, contrary to his duty, and to every tie of honor and justice. On the 2d of September 1760 his late Majesty in council repealed six of these acts; and in regard to the seventh (which was an act for granting to his Majesty One hundred thousand Pounds, by a tax on all estates real and personal &c.) the Lords of his Majesty’s most honorable privy Council declared it their opinion “that the said act was fundamentally wrong and unjust, and ought to be repealed, unless six certain amendments were made therein;”—

Benjamin Franklin and Robert Charles, Agents for the Province, undertook that, in case the act might be left unrepealed, “the Assembly of Pennsylvania would prepare and pass an act for making the amendments proposed by the Lords of the Council, and to indemnify the Proprietaries from any damage they might sustain by such act not being prepared and passed.” This stipulation was signed by the hands of the said agents, and the Proprietors for the sake of peace accepted of it.

But, notwithstanding the solemnity of this agreement, the Assembly in framing the late Supply-Bill, insisted upon explaining the 2d and 3d articles of the stipulation in their own way, and inserting them in the bill in different words from those made use of by the Lords of Council, and signed by their own agents. The Governor, on the contrary, thought that no words could be so proper to convey the meaning of the Lords of Council and prevent disputes, as those which their Lordships themselves had made use of; and that he could neither in decency or duty depart from them.

Hereupon messages ensued, and the Assembly, among other vehement and warm resolves, broke up with the following most extraordinary one, viz.

That this House will adjourn, in order to consult their constituents, whether an humble address should be drawn up, and transmitted to his Majesty, praying that he would be graciously pleased to take the people of this Province, under his immediate protection and government &c.

Edition: current; Page: [1839]

What methods were taken, during this adjournment, to lead a number of rash, ignorant and inconsiderate people into petitions, the evil tendency of which they did not understand, is an enquiry not suitable to the present occasion. It is enough to say that, after incredible pains, in a Province containing near three hundred thousand Souls, not more than 3500 could be prevailed upon to petition for a change of government; and those very generally of a low rank, many of whom could neither read nor write.

The wiser and better part of the Province had far different notions of this measure. They considered that the moment they put their hands to these petitions, they might be surrendering up their birth-right, and putting it in the power of a few men, for the sake of gratifying their own ambitious projects and personal resentments, to barter away that glorious plan of public liberty and charter privileges, under which this Province has risen to the highest degree of prosperity, with a rapidity almost unparallelled in history.

Though the ill success of these petitions, must have been very mortifying to the projectors of them, yet the Assembly were at all hazards to be persuaded to make them the foundation of a petition to the King for a change of government. It was in vain to urge the smallness of the numbers who signed the petitions; the high veneration in which our present constitution hath long been held by good men of every denomination, and the multitudes of industrious people whom even the very fame of it hath invited among us, from almost every part of the world. These considerations were but slight bars to men actuated by ambition and resentment; men who have long found their own importance to consist in fomenting the divisions of their country, and now hope to aggrandize themselves by bringing about the proposed change, whatever may be its consequences to others. They therefore found means to carry their petition thro’ the House; but not without the most spirited testimony against it, from a noble Few, a Patriot Minority, whose names will be mentioned with honor, so long as any remembrance is left of the present boasted Liberties of Pennsylvania.

At the head of these Few, the worthy author of the following Speech signalized himself. Having devoted to a severe course of study those years which too many give to dissipation and pleasure, he shewed himself, at his first entrance on public life, possessed of a knowledge of the laws and constitution of his country, which seldom falls to the share even of grey hairs. Alike independent in spirit and in fortune, removed as far as any man can be from all connections with the Proprietors or their immediate friends, and Edition: current; Page: [1840] following only the unbiassed dictates of his own heart; he could not be a silent spectator while the most distant attempt was made upon that constitution, for which our fathers planted a wilderness, and which is derived to us by the Faith of Charters, and Sanctity of Laws!

This SPEECH was delivered on the 24th of May, and the late Speaker, Mr. Norris, with the four Members under mentioned, are said to have declared to Mr. Dickinson, that he had fully spoke their Sentiments, in his own. The next day in the afternoon, Mr. Dickinson moved that the further consideration of the matter should be adjourned to the following morning. But it was voted by a great majority (Mr. Dickinson, Mr. Joseph Richardson, Mr. Isaac Saunders, and Mr. John Montgomery being for the negative) that the Petition as then drawn, should be transcribed, in Order to be signed by the Speaker; which was ordered accordingly.

Mr. Dickinson having then digested the heads of his speech into the nature of a Protest, in which he was joined by Mr. Saunders and Mr. Montgomery,* offer’d it to be entered in the minutes; but it was refused.

Mr. Norris the Speaker, who, from the nature of his office, could not join in the Protest or take any part in the debate, finding matters pushed to this extremity, informed the House, in a very solemn and affecting manner, “That for thirty years past he had had the honour of serving as a Representative of the people of this Province, and near half that time as Speaker—That, in these offices, he had uniformly endeavoured, according to the best of his judgment, to promote the public good—That the subject of the present debate was a matter of the utmost importance to the Province—That as his sentiments on the occasion were very different from those of the majority, and his seat in the chair prevented him from entering into the debate, he therefore prayed the House, That if, in consequence of their order, his duty should oblige him to sign the Petition as Speaker, he might be permitted to offer his sentiments on the subject before he signed, and that they might be entered on the minutes;” which was granted accordingly.

The House then adjourned to the next morning, and when they met, the Clerk delivered the members a letter from the Speaker, acquainting them that his indisposition prevented his further attendance, and praying them Edition: current; Page: [1841] to chuse a new Speaker. Thus this aged member and faithful servant of the House, as if foreseeing troubles to come, chose to retire, and leave them to those whose temper they better suited.

Benjamin Franklin, Esq; was accordingly chosen Speaker, and in the afternoon of the same day, signed the Petition, as one of his first acts; an act which . . . but posterity will best be able to give it a name!

As these transactions could not fail of being very interesting to the good people of this Province, it is not to be wondered that they expressed an earnest desire to see the following Speech, that they might be able to form some knowledge of what was intended: for their own Representatives did not think proper to let the contents of their petition for the proposed change be known; tho’ upon this single stake, so far as depended upon them, they have risqued our whole constitution. On the 6th of June, therefore, a great number of the principal Gentlemen of Philadelphia, applied to Mr. Dickinson for a copy of his speech, by letter as follows viz.


We whose names are underwritten, citizens of Philadelphia, acknowledge the obligations that the good people of this Province are under to you, for your spirited defence of our charter privileges, which we apprehend are greatly endangered by some late proceedings, particularly the setting on foot a petition to his Majesty for a change of government. We are surprized that our representatives, who ought to be guardians of the constitution, do not check rather than encourage this unseasonable application of a few (comparatively) of the people of this extensive Province. We hereby testify our sincere gratitude to you, Sir, and the other patriot Members that appeared on the side of our Charter and Privileges, and request a copy of the Speech you delivered on that occasion in the House, as we are perswaded that the publication thereof would be of great utility and give general satisfaction. We beg leave to assure you of our regard, and are

Sir Your most obedient humble Servants,

About the same time Mr. Saunders and Mr. Montgomery, earnestly desirous that their names might be joined with Mr. Dickinson’s thro’ this whole affair, sent him the following letter.

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Isaac Saunders
Saunders, Isaac
John Montgomery
Montgomery, John

As we are informed that a number of the principal gentlemen of the city of Philadelphia intend applying to you to have your Speech, which was deliver’d a few days ago in the House of Assembly, against the measure, proposed for a change of government, published, and as we are of opinion the publication thereof, together with the reasons on which our protest is founded, may be of considerable service: We judge it proper (in case you are of the same opinion of making them publick) that you should signify to the publick how heartily we have concurred with you in the same sentiments, set forth in your Speech, and in disapprobation of the late resolves of the House; this we judge a piece of justice due to ourselves, least we incurr, from our constituents, the imputation of betraying or sacrificing their essential rights and privileges which we meant to defend: We likewise authorize you hereby to affix our names to the dissent and protest,* which the House refused entering on their minutes.

We are respectfully,
Sir, Yours &c.
Isaac Saunders.
John Montgomery.

Having thus given a faithful account, both of the occasion of this Speech, and of its publication, it would be almost impossible not to quote a few passages from former Assemblies, to shew in what high terms, even of rapture and admiration, they continually mentioned our present constitution and plan of government.

We hope, say they, the people of Pennsylvania will never be wanting to acknowledge the great wisdom and singular goodness of our late honourable Proprietor, from whom we derive the privileges of our annual elections, as well as many other immunities which have so manifestly contributed to the prosperity of the Province, &c. again

When we commemorate the many blessings bestowed on the inhabitants of this colony, the religious and civil liberties we possess, and to whom these valuable blessings under God and the King, are owing, we should be Edition: current; Page: [1843] wanting to ourselves and them, that we represent, did we not do justice to the memory of thy worthy ancestor.

Our* happy constitution secured to us, by the wisdom and goodness of our first Proprietary and founder of this province, so happily continued to us, under the government of his honourable descendants justly entitle them to our affection and zeal for their honor and interest.

But it would be endless to quote all that has been said by our Assemblies, in favour of the constitution of this province, and its worthy founder. The sum of the whole when taken from the minutes, and thrown together in their own express words, is nothing less than what follows.

  • (1) A man of principles truely humane,
  • an Advocate for
  • Religion and Liberty,
  • (2) Possessing a noble spirit
  • That exerted itself
  • For the good of mankind,
  • Was
  • (3) The great and worthy founder
  • Of
  • Pennsylvania.
  • To its Inhabitants, by Charter,
  • (4) He granted and confirmed
  • (5) Many singular Privileges and Immunities,
  • (6) Civil and Religious
  • (7) Which he continually studied
  • to preserve and defend for them,
  • Nobly declaring
  • Edition: current; Page: [1844]
  • (8) That they had not followed him so far
  • To lose a single tittle
  • Of the Great Charter
  • To which all Englishmen were born!
  • For these Services,
  • (9) Great have been the acknowledgements
  • Deservedly paid to his Merit;
  • (10) And his Memory
  • Is dear to his people,
  • Who have repeatedly confessed
  • That
  • (11) Next to divine Providence,
  • (12) Their Happiness, Prosperity and Increase
  • (13) Are owing
  • To his wise conduct and singular goodness
  • (14) Which deserve ever to be remembered
  • With
  • Gratitude and Affection
  • By Pennsylvanians.

Were it intended to write the highest encomium on the constitution of this country, and to erect the most lasting monument to the memory of its illustrious founder, a more noble inscription could hardly be devised than what is contained in the foregoing minutes of Assembly; and a time may come when impartial posterity, notwithstanding the presenting gratitude of a few, may perhaps adapt it for this purpose.

As to the wild measures now on foot, they will undoubtedly destroy themselves by their own violence; and it would be impossible to add any thing that can more expose their rashness than what is contained in the following Speech. The Proprietors hold their Right by that charter under Edition: current; Page: [1845] which ours is derived. Can the latter in law or equity be deemed more sacred than the former: Have the Proprietors, by any act of theirs, forfeited the least tittle of what was granted them by his Majesty’s royal ancestors? Or can they be deprived of their charter-rights without their own consent? have they not constantly sheltered themselves under the wing of government, and received the approbation of his Majesty’s first servants in the law to every material Instruction sent to their governors here?

In the present dispute nothing has been insisted upon on the part of our Governors but a strict adherence to what has been solemnly determin’d by his Majesty in Council.

Indeed we have every way the worst of the whole business. If a change were to take place, the Proprietors before they resign their charter, would certainly obtain a full equivalent for their Rights of Government, and likewise have all their Rights of Property secured to them by laws which we could not dispute. Such a change, were they inclined to it, could certainly be of very little prejudice to them; but with respect to us the case is quite different. Instead of securing any thing in reversion or exchange, our representatives, by their present petition, seem (so far at least as depends on them) to have offered up our whole charter-rights, leaving it to the grace of others to return us any part, or indeed no part of them, according as it may be thought proper. But, thanks be to God, this is a power with which our representatives were never vested by us; and therefore the act they have committed is void in itself. Nor is there any doubt but an immense majority of the good people of this Province will still be found ready, at a proper time, to vindicate their charter-rights; and to let the world know that they hold those men unworthy of all future trust, who could wantonly sport with things so sacred.

Former Assemblies made it an article of impeachment against one of the most considerable* men of this Province. “That he had contrived to violate (only) a part of the constitution of this government.” But what would they have thought of an attempt to violate the whole?

We know it will be replied, that the change now proposed is not a change of this kind, and that our privileges might be preserved in virtue Edition: current; Page: [1846] of our Laws, even if our charter were given up. But a sufficient answer is given to this in page the 11th and 12th of the following Speech; and indeed it is astonishing that this argument could ever be made use of to impose upon any person, when it is well known that the chief privileges, by which the constitution of this province is distinguished, depend upon our charter alone, and upon no possitive law whatever.

And here, let no wrong construction be put upon this defence of the particular constitution of Pennsylvania. Those who now contend for it, have the highest veneration for the dignity and authority of the Crown. They think themselves as much under its immediate protection as any of his Majesty’s subjects on this continent are; and it is well known, that they have on all occasions been among the first of those who have appeared in defence of the just rights of our gracious Sovereign.

They think it may be said, without giving the least offence, that the inhabitants of this Province enjoy certain privileges which are not to be found in the governments around them, and which they could not have the least hopes of preserving in case of any change of our present constitution. Multitudes of people have chosen a settlement in this Province, preferable to all others, on account of these privileges, and they now think that they have a right to the perpetual enjoyment of them; as they are in no case inconsistent with good order or the public good. Many private corporations, in his Majesty’s dominions enjoy singular immunities upon the like foundation; and those bodies have never been thought undutiful for adhering tenaciously to their rights from age to age. Certainly we may be considered in something higher light than Corporate Bodies of this kind.

Having swelled this preface to a much greater length than was at first intended, we shall only offer one remark more, upon the terms in which the Petition of our Assembly is said to be drawn up. We have heard that this Province is described in it as a scene of riot, violence and confusion: but yet one can hardly judge it possible, that our representatives could venture to approach the royal ear with such an unjust account of their constituents. Nevertheless we have a right to insist on a copy of this petition from the Committee in whose hands it is, that if we lie under any accusations in it, we may have an opportunity to answer them. A request so reasonable, that we are persuaded it cannot be refused, especially in a matter wherein we Edition: current; Page: [1847] may be greatly affected.

We would only observe that the present is not a time for divisions of any kind in his Majesty’s colonies; but for the closest union among ourselves, that we may be able, by decent and just representations of the state of our country, to save it from burthens which it cannot bear, and to encourage it in those improvements whereof it is capable. Let it be remembered what we have got by bringing our party quarrels before the Crown these many years past, most certainly nothing but shame to ourselves, and a load of expence to our country, which, however beneficial it may have been to the Agents employed, has not been of the least service to the public.

The Speech of John Dickenson, Esq; &c.

Mr. Speaker,

When honest men apprehend their country to be injured, nothing is more natural than to resent and complain: but when they enter into consideration of the means for obtaining redress, the same virtue that gave the alarm, may sometimes, by causing too great a transport of zeal, defeat its own purpose; it being expedient for those who deliberate of public affairs, that their minds should be free from all violent passions. These emotions blind the understanding: they weaken the judgment. It therefore frequently happens, that resolutions form’d by men thus agitated, appear to them very wise, very just, and very salutary; while others, not influenced by the same heats, condemn those determinations, as weak, unjust, and dangerous. Thus, Sir, in councils it will always be found useful, to guard against even that indignation, which arises from integrity.

More particularly are we bound to observe the utmost caution in our conduct, as the experience of many years may convince us, that all our actions undergo the strictest scrutiny.—Numerous are the instances, that might be mentioned, of rights vindicated and equitable demands made in this province, according to the opinions entertained here, that in Great-Britain, have been adjudged to be illegal attempts, and pernicious pretensions.

These adjudications are the acts of persons vested with such dignity and power, as claim some deference from us: and hence it becomes not unnecessary to consider, in what light the measures now proposed may appear to those, whose sentiments from the constitution of our government, it will always be prudent to regard.

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But on this important occasion, we ought not to aim only at the approbation of men, whose authority may censure and controul us. More affecting duties demand our attention. The honour and wellfare of Pennsylvania depending on our decisions, let us endeavour so to act, that we may enjoy our own approbation, in the cool and undisturbed hours of reflection: that we may deserve the approbation of the impartial world; and of posterity who are so much interested in the present debate.

No man, Sir, can be more clearly convinced than I am, of the inconveniences arising from a strict adherence to proprietary instructions. We are prevented from demonstrating our loyalty to our excellent Sovereign, and our affection to our distrest fellow-subjects, unless we will indulge the Proprietors, with a distinct and partial mode of taxation, by which they will save perhaps four or five-hundred pounds a year, that ought to go in ease of our constituents.

This is granted on all sides to be unequal; and has therefore excited the resentment of this House. Let us resent—but let our resentment bear proportion to the provocation received; and not produce, or even expose us to the peril of producing, effects more fatal than the injury of which we complain. If the change of government now meditated, can take place, with all our privileges preserved; let it instantly take place: but if they must be consumed in the blaze of royal authority, we shall pay too great a price for our approach to the throne; too great a price for obtaining (if we should obtain) the addition of four or five hundred pounds to the proprietary tax; or indeed for any emolument likely to follow from the change.

I hope, I am not mistaken when I believe, that every member in this House feels the same reverence that I do, for these inestimable rights. When I consider the spirit of liberty that breathes in them, and the flourishing state to which this province hath risen in a few years under them, I am extremely desirous, that they should be transmitted to future ages; and I cannot suppress my solicitude, while steps are taking, that tend to bring them all into danger. Being assured, that this house will always think an attempt to change this government too hazardous, unless these privileges can be perfectly secured, I shall beg leave to mention the reasons by which I have been convinced, that such an attempt ought not now to be made.

It seems to me, Sir, that a people who intend an innovation of their government, ought to chuse the most proper time, and the most proper method Edition: current; Page: [1849] for accomplishing their purposes; and ought seriously to weigh all the probable and possible consequences of such a measure.

There are certain periods in public affairs, when designs may be executed much more easily and advantageously, than at any other. It hath been by a strict attention to every interesting circumstance; a careful cultivation of every fortunate occurrence; and patiently waiting till they have ripened into a favourable conjuncture, that so many great actions have been performed in the political world.

It was through a rash neglect of this prudence, and too much eagerness to gain his point, that the Duke of Monmouth destroyed his own enterprize, and brought himself dishonourably to the block, tho’ every thing then verged towards a revolution. The Prince of Orange with a wise delay pursued the same views, and gloriously mounted a throne.

It was through a like neglect of this prudence, that the commons of Denmark, smarting under the tyranny of their nobility, in a fit of revengeful fury, suddenly surrendered their liberties to their king; and ever since with unavailing grief and useless execrations, have detested the mad moment, which slipt upon them the shackles of slavery, which no struggles can shake off. With more deliberation, the Dutch erected a stadholdership, that hath been of signal service to their state.

That excellent historian and statesman Tacitus, whose political reflections are so justly and universally admired, makes an observation in his third annal, that seems to confirm these remarks. Having mentioned a worthy man of great abilities, whose ambitious ardour hurried him into ruin, he uses these words, “quod multos etiam bonas pessum dedit, qui spretis quae tarda cum securitate, praematura vel cum exitio properant.” “Which misfortune hath happened to many good men, who despising those things which they might slowly and safely attain, seize them too hastily, and with fatal speed rush upon their own destruction.”

If then, Sir, the best intentions may be disappointed by too rapid a prosecution of them, many reasons induce me to think, that this is not the proper time to attempt the change of our government.

It is too notorious and too melancholy a truth, that we now labour under the disadvantage of royal and ministerial displeasure. The conduct of this province during the late war, hath been almost continually condemned at home. We have been covered with the reproaches of men, whose stations give Edition: current; Page: [1850] us just cause to regard their reproaches. The last letters from his majesty’s secretary of state prove, that the reputation of the province has not yet revived. We are therein expressly charged with double dealing, disrespect for his Majesty’s orders, and in short, accusations, that shew us to be in the utmost discredit. Have we the least reason to believe, when the transactions of this year, and the cause of our application for a change, are made known to the king and his ministers, that their resentment will be waived? Let us not flatter ourselves. Will they not be more incensed, when they find the public service impeded, and his majesty’s dominions so long exposed to the ravages of merciless enemies, by our inactivity and obstinacy, as it will be said? For this, I think, hath been the constant language of the ministry on the like occasions. Will not their indignation rise beyond all bounds, when they understand that our hitherto denying to grant supplies, and our application for a change, proceed from the governor’s strict adherence to the terms of the stipulations, so solemnly made, and so repeatedly approved, by the late and present King?

But I may perhaps be answered, “that we have agreed to the terms of the stipulations, according to their true meaning, which the Governor refuses to do.” Surely, Sir, it will require no slight sagacity in distinguishing, no common force of argument, to persuade his Majesty and his Council, that the refusal to comply with the true meaning of the stipulations proceeds from the Governor, when he insists on inserting in our bill the very words and letters of those stipulations.

“But these stipulations were never intended to be inserted verbatim in our bills, and our construction is the most just.” I grant it appears so to us, but much I doubt, whether his Majesty’s Council will be of the same opinion. That Board and this House have often differed as widely in their sentiments. Our judgment is founded on the knowledge we have of facts, and of the purity of our intentions. The judgment of others, is founded on the representations made to them, of those facts and intentions. These representations may be unjust; and therefore the decisions that are formed upon them, may be erroneous. If we are rightly informed, we are represented as the mortal enemies of the proprietors, who would tear their estates to pieces, unless some limit was fixed to our fury. For this purpose the second and third articles of the stipulations were formed. The inequality of the mode was explained and enlarged upon by the provincial counsel; but in vain. I think, I have heard a worthy member who lately returned from England, mention these circumstances.

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If this be the case, what reasonable hope can we entertain, of a more favourable determination now? The Proprietors are still living. Is it not highly probable that they have interest enough, either to prevent the change, or to make it on such terms, as will fix upon us for ever, those demands that appear so extremely just to the present Ministers? One of the Proprietors appears to have great intimacy and influence, with some very considerable members of his Majesty’s Council. Many men of the highest character, if public reports speak truth, are now endeavouring to establish proprietary governments, and therefore probably may be more readily inclined to favour proprietary measures. The very gentlemen who formed the articles of the stipulations, are now in power, and no doubt will inforce their own acts in the strictest manner. On the other hand, every circumstance that now operates against us, may in time turn in our favour. We may perhaps be fortunate enough, to see the present prejudices against us worn off: to recommend ourselves to our Sovereign: and to procure the esteem of some of his ministers. I think I may venture to assert, that such a period will be infinitely more proper than the present, for attempting a change of our government.

With the permission of the House, I will now consider the manner in which this attempt is carried on; and I must acknowledge, that I do not in the least degree approve of it.

The time may come, when the weight of this government may grow too heavy for the shoulder of a subject; at least, too heavy for those of a woman, or an infant. The proprietary family may be so circumstanced, as to be willing to accept of such an equivalent for the government from the crown, as the crown may be willing to give. Whenever this point is agitated, either on a proposal from the crown or proprietors, this province may plead the cause of her privileges with greater freedom, and with greater probability of success, than at present. The royal grant; the charter founded upon it; the public faith pledged to the adventurers, for the security of those rights to them and their posterity, whereby they were encouraged to combat the dangers, I had almost said, of another world; to establish the British power in remotest regions, and add inestimable dominions with the most extensive commerce to their native country; the high value and veneration we have for these privileges; the afflicting loss and misfortune we should esteem it, to be deprived of them, and the unhappiness in which his majesty’s faithful subjects in this province would thereby be involved; our inviolable loyalty and attachment to his Majesty’s person and illustrious family, whose sovereignty Edition: current; Page: [1852] hath been so singularly distinguished by its favourable influence on the liberties of mankind.—All these things may then be properly insisted on. If urged with that modest heart-felt energy, with which good men should always vindicate the interests of their country, before the best of sovereigns, I should not despair of a gracious attention, to our humble requests. Our petition in such a case, would be simple, respectful, and perhaps affecting.

But in the present mode of proceeding, it seems to me, that we preclude ourselves from every office of decent duty to the most excellent of Kings; and from that right of earnestly defending our privileges, which we should otherwise have. The foundation of this attempt, I am apprehensive, will appear to others, peculiarly unfortunate. In a sudden passion, it will be said against the proprietors, we call out for a change of government. Not from reverence for his Majesty; not from a sense of his paternal goodness to his people; but because we are angry with the Proprietors; and tired of a dispute founded on an order approved by his Majesty, and his royal grandfather.

Our powerful friends on the other side of the Atlantic, who are so apt to put the kindest construction on our actions, will no doubt observe, “that the conduct of the people of Pennsylvania, must be influenced by very extraordinary councils, since they desire to come more immediately under the King’s command, because they will not obey those royal commands, which have been already signified to them.”

But here it will be said; nay it has been said; and the petition before the House is drawn accordingly; “we will not alledge this dispute with the Governor on the stipulations, but the general inconveniences of a proprietary government as the cause of our desiring a change.” ’Tis true we may act in this artful manner, but what advantages shall we gain by it? Though we should keep the secret, can we seal up the lips of the Proprietors? Can we recal our messages to the Governor? Can we annihilate our own resolves? Will not all—will not any of these discover the true cause of the present attempt?

Why then, should we unnecessarily invite fresh invectives in the very beginning of a most important business, that to be happily concluded, requires all the favour we can procure, and all the dexterity we can practice?

We intend to surround the throne, with petitions that our government may be changed from proprietary to royal. At the same time we mean to preserve our privileges: But how are these two points to be reconciled?

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If we express our desire for the preservation of our privileges, in so general or faint a manner, as may induce the King to think, they are of no great consequence to us, it will be nothing less than to betray our country.

If on the other hand we inform his Majesty, “that tho’ we request him to change the government, yet we insist on the preservation of our privileges,” certainly it will be thought an unprecedented Stile of petitioning the crown, that humbly asks a favour, and boldly prescribes the terms, on which it must be granted.

How then shall we act? Shall we speak, or shall we suppress our sentiments? The first method will render our request incoherent: the second will render it dangerous. Some gentlemen are of opinion, that these difficulties may be solved, by intrusting the management of this affair to an Agent: but I see no reason to expect such an effect. I would first observe that this matter is of too prodigious consequence to be trusted to the discretion of an Agent—But if it shall be committed by this House, the proper guardian of the public liberties, to other hands, this truth must at some time or other be disclosed, “that we will never consent to a change, unless our privileges are preserved.” I should be glad to know, with what finesse this matter is to be conducted. Is the agent to keep our petition to the crown in his pocket, till he has whispered to the ministry? Will this be justifiable? Will it be decent? Whenever he applies to them, I presume, they will desire to know his authority for making such an application. Then our petition must appear; and whenever it does appear, either at first or last, that and the others transmitted with it, I apprehend, will be the foundation of any resolutions taken in the King’s Council.

Thus, in whatever view this transaction is considered, shall we not still be involved in the dilemma already mentioned, “of beging a favour from his Majesty’s goodness, and yet shewing a distrust that the royal hand, stretched out at our own request for our relief, may do us an injury?”

Let me suppose, and none can offer the least proof of this supposition being unreasonable, that his Majesty will not accept of the government, clog’d, as it will be said, with privileges inconsistent with the royal rights: how shall we act then? We shall have our choice of two things: one of them destructive: the other dishonourable. We may either renounce the laws and liberties framed and delivered down to us by our careful ancestors: or we may tell his Majesty with a surly discontent, “that we will not submit to his implored protection, but on such conditions, as we please to impose on him.” Edition: current; Page: [1854] Is not this the inevitable and dreadful alternative, to which we shall reduce ourselves?

In short, Sir, I think the farther we advance in the path we are now in, the greater will be the confusion and danger in which we shall engage ourselves. Any body of men acting under a charter, must surely tread on slippery ground, when they take a step that may be deemed a surrender of that charter. For my part, I think the petitions that have been carried about the city and country to be signed, and are now lying on the table, can be regarded in no other light, than as a surrender of the charter, with a short indifferent hint annexed of a desire, that our privileges may be spared, if it shall be thought proper. Many striking arguments may in my opinion be urged, to prove that any request made by this House for a change, may with still greater propriety be called a surrender. The common observation “that many of our privileges do not depend on our charter only, but are confirmed by laws approved by the Crown,” I doubt will have but little weight with those, who will determine this matter.

It will readily be replied, “that these laws were founded on the charter; that they were calculated for a proprietary government, and for no other; and approved by the Crown in that view alone: that the proprietary government is now acknowledged by the people living under it to be a bad government; and the Crown is intreated to accept a surrender of it: that therefore by abolishing the proprietary government, every thing founded upon it, must of consequence be also abolished.”

However if there should be any doubts in the law on these points, there is an easy way to solve them.

These reflections, Sir, naturally lead me to consider the consequences that may attend a change of our government; which is the last point, I shall trouble the House upon at this time.

It is not to be questioned, but that the Ministry are desirous of vesting the immediate government of this Province, advantageously in the Crown. Tis true, they dont chuse to act arbitrarily, and tear away the present government from us, without our consent. This is not the age for such things. But let us only furnish them with a pretext, by pressing petitions for a change; let us only relinquish the hold we now have, and in an instant we are precipitated from that envied height where we now stand. The affair is laid before the parliament, the desires of the Ministry are insinuated, the rights of the Crown are vindicated, and an act passes to deliver us Edition: current; Page: [1855] at once from the government of Proprietors, and the privileges we claim under them.

Then, Sir, we who in particular have presented to the authors of the fatal change, this long-wish’d for opportunity of effecting it, shall for our assistance be entitled to their thanks—Thanks! which I am persuaded, every worthy member of this House would abhor to deserve, and would scorn to receive.

It seems to be taken for granted, that by a change of government, we shall obtain a change of those measures which are so displeasing to the people of this Province—that justice will be maintained by an equal taxation of the proprietary estates—and that our frequent dissentions will be turned into peace and happiness.

These are effects indeed sincerely to be wished for by every sensible, by every honest man: but reason does not always teach us to expect the warm wishes of the heart. Could our gracious Sovereign take into consideration, the state of every part of his extended dominions, we might expect redress of every grievance: for with the most implicit conviction I believe, he is as just, benevolent, and amiable a Prince, as heaven ever granted in its mercy to bless a people. I venerate his virtues beyond all expression. But his attention to our particular circumstances being impossible, we must receive our fate from ministers; and from them, I do not like to receive it.

We are not the subjects of ministers; and therefore it is not to be wondered at, if they do not feel that tenderness for us, that a good prince will always feel for his people. Men are not born ministers. Their ambition raises them to authority; and when possessed of it, one established principle with them seems to be, “never to deviate from a precedent of power.”

Did we not find in the late war, tho’ we exerted ourselves in the most active manner in the defence of his Majesty’s dominions, and in promoting the service of the Crown, every point in which the Proprietors thought fit to make any opposition, decided against us? Have we not also found, since the last disturbance of the public peace by our savage enemies, the conduct of the late Governor highly applauded by the ministry, for his adherence to those very stipulations now insisted on; and ourselves subjected to the bitterest reproaches, only for attempting to avoid burthens, that were thought extremely grievous. Other instances of the like kind I pass over, to avoid a tedious recapitulation.

Since then, the gale of ministerial favour has in all seasons blown propitious to proprietary interests, why do we now fondly flatter ourselves, that Edition: current; Page: [1856] it will suddenly shift its quarter? Why should we with an amazing credulity, now fly for protection to those men, trust every thing to their mercy, and ask the most distinguishing favours from their kindness, from whom we complained a few months ago, that we could not obtain the most reasonable requests? Surely, Sir, we must acknowledge one of these two things: either, that our complaint was then unjust; or, that our confidence is now unwarranted. For my part, I look for a rigid perseverance in former measures. With a new government, I expect new disputes. The experience of the royal colonies convinces me, that the immediate government of the Crown, is not a security for that tranquility and happiness we promise ourselves from a change. It is needless for me to remind the House, of all the frequent and violent controversies that have happened between the King’s Governors in several provinces, and their Assemblies. At this time, if I am rightly informed, Virginia is struggling against an instruction relating to their paper currency, that will be attended, as that colony apprehends, with the most destructive consequences, if carried into execution.

Indeed, Sir, it seems vain to expect, where the spirit of liberty is maintained among a people, that public contests should not also be maintained. Those who govern, and those who are governed, seldom think they can gain too much on one another. Power is like the ocean; not easily admitting limits to be fixed in it. It must be in motion. Storms indeed are not desirable: but a long dead calm is not to be looked for; perhaps, not to be wished for. Let not us then, in expectation of smooth seas, and an undisturbed course, too rashly venture our little vessel that hath safely sailed round our own well known shores, upon the midst of the untry’d deep, without being first fully convinced, that her make is strong enough to bear the weather she may meet with, and that she is well provided for so long and so dangerous a voyage.

No man, Sir, amongst us hath denyed, or will deny, that this Province must stake on the event of the present attempt, liberties that ought to be immortal—Liberties! founded on the acknowledged rights of human nature; and restrained in our mother-country, only by an unavoidable necessity of adhering in some measure, to long established customs. Thus hath been formed between old errors and hasty innovations, an entangled chain, that our ancestors either had not moderation or leisure enough to untwist.

I will now briefly enumerate, as well as I can recollect, the particular privileges of Pennsylvania.

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In the first place, we here enjoy that best and greatest of all rights, a perfect religious freedom.

Posts of honour and profit are unfettered with oaths or tests; and therefore are open to men, whose abilities, strict regard to their conscientious persuasion, and unblemished characters qualify them to discharge their duties with credit to themselves, and advantage to their country. Thus justice is done to merit; and the public loses none of its able servants.

The same wisdom of our laws, has guarded against the absurdity of granting greater credit even to villains, if they will swear, than to men of virtue, who from religious motives cannot. Therefore those who are conscientiously scrupulous of taking an oath, are admitted as witnesses in criminal cases. Our legislation suffers no checks, from a council instituted, in fancied imitation of the House of Lords. By the right of sitting on our own adjournments, we are secure of meeting, when the public good requires it: and of not being dismist, when private passions demand it. At the same time, the strict discharge of the trust committed to Us, is inforced by the short duration of our power, which must be renewed by our constituents every year.

Nor are the people stript of all authority, in the execution of laws. They enjoy the satisfaction of having some share, by the appointment of provincial commissioners, in laying out the money which they raise; and of being in this manner assured, that it is applied to the purposes, for which it was granted. They also elect sheriffs and coroners; officers of so much consequence, in every determination that affects honour, liberty, life or property.

Let any impartial person reflect, how contradictory some of these privileges are to the most antient principles of the English constitution, and how directly opposite other of them are to the settled prerogatives of the crown; and then consider, what probability we have of retaining them on a requested* change: that is of continuing in fact a proprietary government, though we humbly pray the King to change this government. Not unaptly, in my opinion, the connection between the proprietary family and this Province, may be regarded as a marriage. Our privileges may be called the fruits of that marriage. The domestic peace of this family, it is true, has not been unvexed with quarrels, and complaints: But the pledges of their affection Edition: current; Page: [1858] ought always to be esteemed: and whenever the parents in an imprudent request shall be divorced, much I fear, that their issue will be declared illegitimate.—This I am well persuaded of, that surprizing must our behaviour appear to all men, if in the instant when we apply to his Majesty for relief from what we think oppression, we should discover a resolute disposition to deprive him of the uncontroverted prerogatives of his royal dignity.

At this period, when the administration is regulating new colonies, and designing, as we are told the* strictest reformations in the old, it is not likely that they will grant an invidious distinction in our favour. Less likely is it, as that distinction will be liable to so many, and such strong constitutional objections; and when we shall have the weight both of the clergy and ministry, and the universally received opinions of the people of our mother country to contend with.

I mean not, Sir, the least reflection on the church of England. I reverence and admire the purity of its doctrine, and the moderation of its temper. I am convinced, that it is filled with learned and with excellent men: but all zealous persons, think their own religious tenets the best, and would willingly see them embraced by others. I therefore apprehend, that the dignified and reverend gentlemen of the church of England, will be extremely desirous to have that church as well secured, and as much distinguished as possible in the American colonies: especially in those colonies, where it is overborne, as it were, by dissenters. There never can be a more critical opportunity for this purpose than the present. The cause of the church will besides be connected with that of the crown, to which its principles are thought to be more favourable, than those of the other professions.

We have received certain information, that the conduct of this Province which has been so much censured by the ministry, is attributed to the influence of a society, that holds warlike measures at all times to be unlawful.—We also know, that the late tumultuous and riotous proceedings, which are represented in so strong a light by the petition, now before the House, have been publicly ascribed to the influence of another society. Thus the blame of every thing disreputable to this province, is cast on one or the other of these dissenting sects. Circumstances! that I imagine, will neither be forgot, nor neglected.

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We have seen the event of our disputes concerning the Proprietary interests; and it is not to be expected, that our success will be greater, when our opponents become more numerous; and will have more dignity, more power, and as they will think, more law on their side.

These are the dangers, Sir, to which we are now about to expose those privileges, in which we have hitherto so much gloried. Wherefore? To procure two or three, perhaps four or five hundred pounds a year, (for no calculation has carried the sum higher) from the Proprietors, for two or three or four or five years, for so long and something longer, perhaps, the taxes may continue.

But are we sure of gaining this point? We are not. Are we sure of gaining any other advantage? We are not. Are we sure of preserving our privileges? We are not. Are we under a necessity of pursuing the measure proposed at this time? We are not.

Here, Sir, permit me to make a short pause. Permit me to appeal to the heart of every member in this House, and to entreat him to reflect, how far he can be justifiable in giving his voice, thus to hazard the liberties secured to us by the wise founders of this Province; peaceably and fully enjoyed by the present age, and to which posterity is so justly entitled.

But, Sir, we are told there is no danger of losing our privileges, if our government should be changed, and two arguments are used in support of this opinion.—The first is, “That the government of the Crown is exercised with so much lenity in Carolina and the Jerseys.”—I cannot perceive the least degree of force in this argument. As to Carolina, I am not a little surprized, that it should be mentioned on this occasion, since I never heard of one privilege that colony enjoys, more than all the other royal governments in America. The privileges of the Jerseys, are of a different nature from many of which we are possest; and are more consistent with the royal prerogative.

Indeed I know of none they have, except that Quakers may be witnesses in criminal cases, and may bear offices. Can this indulgence shewn to them for a particular reason, and not contradictory to the rights of the crown, give us any just cause to expect the confirmation of privileges directly opposite to those rights, and for confirming which no such reason exists. But perhaps the gentlemen, who advance this argument, mean, that we shall purchase a change at a cheap price, if we are only reduced to the same state with the Jerseys—Surely, Sir, if this be their meaning, they entirely forget those extraordinary privileges, which some time ago were mentioned.

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How many must we in such a case renounce? I apprehend, it would prove an argument of little consolation to these gentlemen, if they should lose three fourths of their estates, to be told, that they still remain as rich as their neighbours, and have enough to procure all the necessaries of life.

It is somewhat remarkable, that this single instance of favour in permitting an affirmation instead of an oath, in a single province, should be urged as so great an encouragement to us, while there are so many examples of another kind to deterr us. In what royal government besides the Jerseys, can a Quaker be a witness in criminal cases, and bear offices?(a) In no other. What can be the reason of this distinction in the Jerseys? Because in the infancy of that colony, when it came under the government of the crown, there was, as appears from authentic vouchers, an absolute necessity from the scarcity of other proper persons, to make use of the people called Quakers in public employments. Is there such a necessity in this Province? Or can the ministry be persuaded, that there is such a necessity? No, Sir, those from whom they will receive their information, will grant no such thing; and therefore I think there is the most imminent danger, in case of a change, that the people of this society will lose the exercise of those rights, which, tho’ they are intitled to as men, yet such is the situation of human affairs, they with difficulty can find a spot on the whole globe where they are allowed to enjoy them. It will be an argument of some force I am afraid, that the church of England can never expect to raise its head among us, while we are encouraged, as it will be said, in dissension: but if an oath be made necessary for obtaining offices of honour and profit; it will then be expected that any Quakers who are tempted to renounce their principles, will undoubtedly make an addition to the established church.

If any other consideration than that which has been mentioned, was regarded in granting that indulgence in the Jerseys, tho’ no other is exprest, it seems not improbable, that the nearness of this Province might have had some weight, as from its situation it afforded such strong temptations to the inhabitants of the Jerseys to remove hither, had they been treated with any severity.

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Their government in some measure was formed in imitation of our government; but when this is altered, the English constitution must be the model, by which it will be formed.

Here it will be said “this cannot be done but by the Parliament; and will a British Parliament do such an act of injustice, as to deprive us of our rights?” This is the second argument, used to prove the safety of the measures now proposed.

Certainly the British Parliament will not do, what they think an unjust act: but I cannot persuade myself, that they will think it unjust, to place us on the same footing with themselves. It will not be an easy task to convince them, that the people of Pennsylvania ought to be distinguished from all other subjects, under his Majesty’s immediate government; or that such a distinction can answer any good purpose. May it not be expected, that they will say

No people can be freer than ourselves; every thing more than we enjoy, is licentiousness, not liberty: any indulgences shewn to the colonies heretofore, were like the indulgences of parents to their infants; they ought to cease with that tender age; and as the colonies grow up, to a more vigorous state, they ought to be carefully disciplined, and all their actions regulated by strict laws. Above all things it is necessary, that the prerogative should be exercised with its full force in our American provinces, to restrain them within due bounds, and secure their dependance on this kingdom.

I am afraid, that this will be the opinion of the Parliament, as it has been in every instance, the undeviating practice of the ministry.

But, Sir, it may be said “these reasons are not conclusive, they do not demonstratively prove, that our privileges will be endangered by a change.” I grant the objection: but what stronger reasons, what clearer proofs are there, that they will not be endangered by a change.

They are safe now; and why should we engage in an enterprize that will render them uncertain? If nothing will content us but a revolution brought about by ourselves, surely we ought to have made the strictest enquiries what terms we may expect; and to have obtained from the ministry some kind of security for the performance of those terms.

These things might have been done. They are not done. If a merchant will venture to travel with great riches into a foreign country, without a Edition: current; Page: [1862] proper guide, it certainly will be adviseable for him to procure the best intelligence he can get, of the climate, the roads, the difficulties he will meet with, and the treatment he may receive.

I pray the House to consider, if we have the slightest security that can be mentioned, except opinion (if that is any) either for the preservation of our present privileges, or gaining a single advantage from a change. Have we any writing? have we a verbal promise from any Minister of the Crown? We have not. I cannot therefore conceal my astonishment, that gentlemen should require a less security for the invaluable rights of Pennsylvania, than they would demand for a debt of five pounds. Why should we press forward with this unexampled hurry, when no benefit can be derived from it? Why should we have any aversion to deliberation and delay, when no injury can attend them?

It is scarcely possible, in the present case, that we can spend too much time, in forming resolutions, the consequences of which are to be perpetual. If it is true as some averr, that we can now obtain an advantageous change of our government, I suppose it will be also true next week, next month, and next year: but if they are mistaken, it will be early enough, whenever it happens, to be disappointed, and to repent. I am not willing to run risques in a matter of such prodigious importance, on the credit of any man’s opinion, when by a small delay, that can do no harm, the steps we are to take may become more safe. Gideon, tho’ he had conversed with an “angel of the lord” would not attempt to relieve his countrymen, then sorely opprest by the Midianites, least he should involve them in greater miseries, until he was convinced by two miracles that he should be successful. I do not say, we ought to wait for miracles; but I think we ought to wait for something, which will be next kin to a miracle; I mean, some sign of a favourable disposition in the ministry towards us. I should like to see an olive leaf at least brought to us, before we quit the ark.

Permit me, Sir, to make one proposal to the House. We may apply to the Crown now, as freely as if we were under its immediate government. Let us desire his Majesty’s judgment on the point, that has occasioned this unhappy difference between the two branches of the legislature. This may be done without any* violence, without any hazard to our constitution. We Edition: current; Page: [1863] say the justice of our demands, is clear as light: every heart must feel the equity of them.

If the decision be in our favour, we gain a considerable victory; the grand obstruction of the public service is removed; and we shall have more leisure to carry our intentions coolly into execution. If the decision be against us, I believe the most zealous amongst us will grant it would be madness to expect success in any other contest. This will be a single point, and cannot meet with such difficulties, as the procuring a total alteration of the government. Therefore by separating it from other matters, we shall soon obtain a determination, and know what chance we have of succeeding in things of greater value. Let us try our fortune. Let us take a cast or two of the dice for smaller matters, before we dip deeply. Few gamesters are of so sanguine a temper, as to stake their whole wealth on one desperate throw at first. If we are to play with the public happiness, let us act at least with as much deliberation, as if we were betting out of our private purses.

Perhaps a little delay may afford us the pleasure of finding our constituents more unanimous in their opinions on this interesting occasion: and I should chuse to see a vast majority of them join with a calm resolution in the measure, before I should think myself justifiable in voting for it, even if I approved of it.

The present question is utterly foreign from the purposes, for which we were sent into this place. There was not the least probability at the time we were elected, that this matter could come under our consideration. We are not debating how much money we shall raise: what laws we shall pass for the regulation of property; nor on any thing of the same kind, that arises in the usual parliamentary course of business. We are now to determine, whether a step shall be taken, that may produce an entire change of our constitution.

In forming this determination, one striking reflection should be preserved in our minds; I mean, “that we are the servants of the people of Pennsylvania”—of that people, who have been induced by the excellence of the present constitution, to settle themselves under its Protection.

The inhabitants of remote countries, impelled by that love of liberty which all wise providence has planted in the human heart, deserting their native soils, committed themselves with their helpless families to the mercy of winds and waves, and braved all the terrors of an unknown wilderness, in hopes of enjoying in these woods, the exercise of those invaluable rights, Edition: current; Page: [1864] which some unhappy circumstance had denied to mankind in every other part of the earth.

Thus, Sir, the people of Pennsylvania may be said to have purchased an inheritance in its constitution, at a prodigious price; and I cannot believe, unless the strongest evidence be offered, that they are now willing to part with that, which has cost them so much toil and expence.

They have not hitherto been disappointed in their wishes. They have obtained the blessings they sought for.

We have received these seats by the free choice of this people, under this constitution; and to preserve it in its utmost purity and vigour, has always been deem’d by me, a principal part of the trust committed to my care and fidelity. The measure now proposed has a direct tendency to endanger this constitution; and therefore in my opinion, we have no right to engage in it, without the almost universal consent of the people, exprest in the plainest manner.

I think, I should improperly employ the attention of this House, if I should take up much time in proving, that the deputies of a people have not a right by any law divine or human, to change the government under which their authority was delegated to them, without such a consent as has been mentioned.—The position is so consonant to natural justice and common sense, that I believe it never has been seriously controverted. All the learned authors that I recollect to have mentioned this matter, speak of it as an indisputable maxim.

It may be(b) said perhaps in answer to this objection “that it is not intended to change the government, but the governor.” This, I apprehend, is a distinction only in words. The government is certainly to be changed from proprietary to royal; and whatever may be intended, the question is, whether such a change will not expose our present privileges to danger.

It may also be said “that the petitions lying on the table, are a proof of the people’s consent.” Can petitions so industriously carried about, and after all the pains taken, signed only by about thirty five hundred persons, be look’d on as the plainest expressions of the almost universal consent of the many thousands that fill this Province? No one can beleive it.

It cannot be denied, Sir, that much the greatest part of the inhabitants of this Province, and among them men of large fortunes, good sense, and Edition: current; Page: [1865] fair characters, who value very highly the interest they have in the present constitution, have not signed these petitions, and as there is reason to apprehend, are extremely averse to a change at this time. Will they not complain of such a change? And if it is not attended with all the advantages they now enjoy, will they not have reason to complain? It is not improbable, that this measure may lay the foundation of more bitter, and more lasting dissentions among us, than any we have yet experienced.

Before I close this catalogue of unhappy consequences, that I expect will follow our request of a change, I beg leave to take notice of the terms of the petition, that is now under the consideration of the House.

They equally excite in my breast—surprize, and grief, and terror. This poor Province is already sinking under the weight of the discredit and reproaches, that by some fatality for several years past, have attended our public measures; and we not only seize this unfortunate season to engage her in new difficulties, but prepare to pour on her devoted head, a load that must effectually crush her.—We inform the King by this petition, that Pensylvania is become a scene of confusion and anarchy: that armed mobs are marching from one place to another: that such a spirit of violence and riot prevails, as exposes his Majesty’s good subjects to constant alarms and danger: and that this tumultuous disposition is so general, that it cannot be controuled by any powers of the present government; and that we have not any hopes of returning to a state of peace and safety, but by being taken under his Majesty’s immediate protection.

I cannot think this a proper representation of the present state of this Province. Near four months are elapsed, since the last riot: and I do not perceive the least probability of our being troubled with any more. The rioters were not only successfully opposed, and prevented from executing their purpose; but we have reason to believe, that they were convinced of their error, and have renounced all thoughts of such wild attempts for the future. To whose throat is the sword now held? What life will be saved by this application; Imaginary danger! Vain remedy! Have we not sufficiently felt the effects of royal resentment? Is not the authority of the Crown fully enough exerted over us? does it become us to paint in the strongest colours, the folly or the crimes of our countrymen? To require unnecessary protection against men who intend us no injury, in such loose and general expressions, as may produce even the establishment of an armed force among us?

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With unremiting vigilance, with undaunted virtue, should a free people watch against the encroachments of power, and remove every pretext for its extension.

We are a dependant colony; and we need not doubt, that means will be used to secure that dependance. But that we ourselves should furnish a reason for settling a military establishment upon us, must exceed the most extravagant wishes of those, who would be most pleased with such a measure.

We may introduce the innovation, but we shall not be able to stop its progress. The precedent will be pernicious. If a specious pretence is afforded for maintaining a small body of troops among us now, equally specious pretences will never be wanting hereafter, for adding to their numbers. The burthen that will be imposed on us for their support, is the most trifling part of the evil. The poison will soon reach our vitals. Whatever struggles we may make to expell it,

  • Haeret lateri lethalis arundo1

The dart with which we are struck, will still remain fixed—too firmly fixed, for our feeble hands to draw it out. Our fruitless efforts will but irritate the wound; and at length we must tamely submit to—I quit a subject too painful to be dwelt upon.

These, Sir, are my sentiments on the petition that has occasioned this debate. I think this neither the proper season, nor the proper method, for obtaining a change of our government. It is uncertain, whether the measures proposed will place us in a better situation, than we are now in, with regard to the point lately controverted: with respect to other particulars it may place us in a worse. We shall run the risque of suffering great losses. We have no certainty of gaining any thing. In seeking a precarious, hasty, violent remedy for the present partial disorder, we are sure of exposing the whole body to danger. I cannot perceive the necessity of applying such a remedy. If I did, I would with the greatest pleasure pass over to the opinion of some gentlemen who differ from me, whose integrity and abilities I so much esteem, that whatever reasons at any time influence me to agree with them, I always receive a satisfaction from being on their side. If I have erred now, I shall comfort myself with reflecting, that it is an innocent error. Should the measures pursued in consequence of this debate, be opposite to my opinion; and Edition: current; Page: [1867] should they procure a change of government with all the benefits we desire; I shall not envy the praise of others, who by their fortunate courage and skill have conducted us unhurt through the midst of such threatening danger, to the wished for port. I shall chearfully submit to the censure of having been too apprehensive of injuring the people of this Province. If any severer sentence shall be passed upon me by the worthy, I shall be sorry for it: but this truth I am convinced of; that it will be much easier for me to bear the unmerited reflections of mistaken zeal, than the just reproaches of a guilty mind. To have concealed my real sentiments, or to have counterfeited such as I do not entertain, in a deliberation of so much consequence as the present, would have been the basest hypocrisy. It may perhaps be thought that this however would have been the most politic part for me to have acted. It might have been so. But if policy requires, that our words or actions should belye our hearts, I thank God that I detest and despise all its arts, and all its advantages. A good man ought to serve his country, even tho’ she resents his services. The great reward of honest actions, is not the fame or profit that follows them, but the consciousness that attends them. To discharge on this important occasion, the inviolable duty I owe the public, by obeying the unbiassed dictates of my reason and conscience, hath been my sole view; and my only wish now is, that the resolutions of this House, whatever they are, may promote the happiness of Pennsylvania.

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65: Joseph Galloway, The Speech of Joseph Galloway, Delivered in the House of Assembly, of the Province of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, 1764)

A long with Benjamin Franklin, Joseph Galloway was a primary leader in the movement for abolishing proprietary government in Pennsylvania, and he rushed to answer Dickinson’s opposition to the petition to the Crown for royal government (see Selection 64). Fronted by an anonymously written preface that, at thirty-seven pages in small type, probably contained far more words than the body of the text, the pamphlet was a detailed and entirely hostile review of Dickinson’s position that accused him of political naïveté and an inexcusable lack of awareness of the extent to which the proprietor’s numerous “Attempts of Power” in recent decades had “deeply wounded” the rights of Pennsylvanians. Only “a Stranger to Proprietary Usurpations,” Galloway declared, could fail to appreciate the fact that for “these twenty Years” “Proprietary Partizans” had been “cursing our Constitution, declaring that it was no Constitution . . . and that Things could never be well with us, ’till it was new-modell’d, and made exactly conformable to the British Constitution,” arguing that privileges that were “proper in the Infancy of a Colony, to encourage Settlement,” were “unfit for it in its grown State, and ought to be taken away.

For people of Galloway’s persuasion, such behavior only served to underline the undesirability “flowing from an Union of great Wealth, with extensive Power.” A proprietary regime had everywhere “been found Edition: current; Page: [1870] inconvenient, attended with Contentions and Confusions where-ever it existed,” and, “greatly to the Satisfaction and Happiness of the People,” had been “gradually taken away from Colony after Colony” until only Pennsylvania and Maryland remained as proprietary colonies in an empire in which all the rest were under the immediate jurisdiction of the Crown. With none of the “Mischiefs” incident to proprietary colonies, he averred, royal colonies enjoyed “a full Freedom and Power of Legislation” with “No Obstructions to his Majesty’s Service,” and “a perfect Administration of Justice.” Denying that there was any “Royal and Ministerial Prejudice” against Pennsylvania, Galloway challenged Dickinson to show some proof to support his surmise “that his Majesty and Ministers will act with Violence, and desert the Principles of Justice and Law, to take away our Rights without our Consent” and confidently asserted that “a British House of Commons, the Guardians of British Liberties,” could always be counted on to put a stop to “unjust Attempts of particular Ministers, on the Liberties of America.” (J.P.G.)

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Joseph Galloway, Esq;

One of the Members for Philadelphia County;


To the Speech of John Dickinson, Esq;

Delivered in the House of Assembly,

of the Province of Pennsylvania, May 24, 1764.

On Occasion of a Petition drawn up by Order,

and then under the Consideration of the House;

praying his Majesty for a Royal, in lieu of a

Proprietary Government.

Audi et alteram Partem.1


Printed and sold by W. Dunlap, in Market-street.


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It is not merely because Mr. Dickinson’s Speech was usher’d into the World by a Preface, that one is made to this of Mr. Galloway. But as in that Preface, a Number of Aspersions were thrown on our Assemblies, and their Proceedings grossly misrepresented, it was thought necessary to wipe those Aspersions off, by some proper Animadversions; and by a true State of Facts, to rectify those Misrepresentations.

The Preface begins with saying, that “Governor Denny, whose Administration will never be mentioned but with Disgrace, in the Annals of this Province, was induced by Considerations to which the World is now no Stranger, to pass sundry Acts,” &c. thus insinuating, that by some unusual base Bargain secretly made, but afterwards discover’d, he was induc’d to pass them.—It is fit, therefore, without undertaking to justify all that Governor’s Administration, to shew what those Considerations were.—Ever since the Revenue of the Quit-rents first, and after that the Revenue of Tavern Licences, were settled irrevocably on our Proprietaries and Governors, they have look’d on those Incomes as their proper Estate, for which they were under no Obligations to the People: And when they afterwards concurr’d in passing any useful Laws, they considered them as so many Jobbs, for which they ought to be particularly paid. Hence arose the Custom of Presents twice a Year to the Governors, at the close of each Session in which Laws were past, given at the Time of Passing. They usually amounted to a Thousand Pounds per Annum. But when the Governors and Assemblies disagreed, so that Laws were not pass’d, the Presents were with-held.—When a Disposition to agree ensu’d, there sometimes still remain’d some Diffidence. The Governors would not pass the Laws that were wanted, without being sure of the Money, even all that they call’d their Arrears; nor the Assemblies give the Money without being sure of the Laws.—Thence the Necessity of some private Conference, in which, mutual Assurances of good Faith might be receiv’d and given, that the Transactions should go hand in hand. What Name the impartial Reader will give to this Kind of Commerce, I cannot say: To me it appears, an Extortion of more Money from the People, for that to which they had before an undoubted Right, both by the Constitution, and by Purchase: But there was no other Shop they could go to for the Commodity they wanted, and they were oblig’d to comply.—Time establish’d the Custom, and made it seem honest; so that Edition: current; Page: [1873] our Governors, even those of the most undoubted Honor, have practis’d it.—Governor Thomas, after a long Misunderstanding with the Assembly, went more openly to work with them in managing this Commerce and they with him. The Fact is curious, as it stands recorded in the Votes of 1742–43, Sundry Bills sent up to the Governor for his Assent, had lain long in his Hands without any Answer.—Jan. 4. The House

Ordered, That Thomas Leech, and Edward Warner, wait upon the Governor, and acquaint him, that the House had long waited for his Result on the Bills that lie before him, and desire to know when they may expect it.—The Gentlemen return and report, that they waited upon the Governor, and delivered the Message of the House according to Order, and that the Governor was pleased to say, He had had the Bills long under Consideration, and waited the Result of the House.

—The House well understood this Hint; and immediately resolv’d into a Committee of the whole House, to take what was called the Governor’s Support into Consideration, in which they made, the Minutes say, some Progress; and the next Morning it appears, that that Progress, whatever it was, had been communicated to him; for he sent them down this Message by his Secretary;—“Mr. Speaker, The Governor commands me to acquaint you, that as he has received Assurances of a good Disposition in the House, he thinks it incumbent on him to shew the like on his Part; and therefore sends down the Bills which lay before him, without any Amendment.”—As this Message only shew’d a good Disposition, but contain’d no Promise to pass the Bills; the House seem to have had their Doubts; and therefore, February 2, when they came to resolve, on the Report of the Grand Committee, to give the Money, they guarded their Resolves very cautiously, viz.

Resolved, That on the Passage of such Bills as now lie before the Governor, the Naturalization Bill, and such other Bills as may be presented to him, during this Sitting, there be paid him the Sum of Five Hundred Pounds.—Resolved also, That on the Passage of such Bills as now lie before the Governor, the Naturalization Bill, and such other Bills as may be presented to him this Sitting, there be paid to the Governor, the further Sum of One Thousand Pounds, for the current Year’s Support; and that Orders be drawn on the Treasurer and Trustees of the Loan Office, pursuant to these Resolves.

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—The Orders were accordingly drawn, with which being acquainted, he appointed a Time to pass the Bills, which was done with one Hand, while he received the Orders in the other; and then with the utmost politeness, thank’d the House for the Fifteen Hundred Pounds, as if it had been a pure Free Gift, and a mere mark of their Respect and Affection. “I thank you, Gentlemen, (says he) for this Instance of your Regard; which I am the more pleased with, as it gives an agreeable Prospect of future Harmony between me and the Representatives of the People.”—This, Reader, is an exact Counterpart of the Transaction with Governor Denny; except that Denny sent Word to the House, that he would pass the Bills before they voted the Support.—And yet, here was no Proprietary Clamour about Bribery, &c. And why so? Why, at that Time, the Proprietary Family, by Virtue of a secret Bond they had obtained of the Governor at his Appointment, were to share with him the Sums so obtained of the People!

This Reservation of the Proprietaries they were at that Time a little asham’d of, and therefore such Bonds were then to be Secrets. But as in every Kind of Sinning, frequent Repetition lessens Shame, and increases Boldness, we find the Proprietaries ten Years afterwards, openly insisting on these Advantages to themselves, over and above what was paid to their Deputy:

Wherefore, (say they,) on this Occasion, it is necessary, that we should inform the People, through yourselves, their Representatives, that as, by the Constitution, our Consent is necessary to their Laws, at the same Time that they have an undoubted Right to such as are necessary for the Defence and real Service of the Country; so it will tend the better to facilitate the several Matters which must be transacted with us, for their Representatives to shew a Regard to us and our Interest.

—This was in their Answer to the Representation of the Assembly, [Votes, December, 1754, Page 48] on the Justice of their contributing to Indian Expences, which they had refused. And on this Clause, the Committee make the following Remark;—

They tell us, their Consent is necessary to our Laws, and that it will tend the better to facilitate the Matters which must be transacted with them, for the Representatives to shew a Regard to their Interest: That is, as we understand it, though the Proprietaries have a Deputy here, supported by the Province, who is, or ought to be, fully impower’d to pass all Edition: current; Page: [1875] Laws necessary for the Service of the Country; yet, before we can obtain such Laws, we must facilitate their Passage, by paying Money for the Proprietaries which they ought to pay, or in some Shape make it their particular Interest to pass them. We hope, however, that if this Practice has ever been begun, it will never be continued in this Province; and that, since, as this very Paragraph allows, we have an undoubted Right to such Laws, we shall always be able to obtain them from the Goodness of our Sovereign, without going to Market for them to a Subject.

—Time has shewn that those Hopes were vain; they have been oblig’d to go to that Market ever since, directly, or indirectly, or go without their Laws. The Practice has continued, and will continue, as long as the Proprietary Government subsists, intervening between the Crown and the People.

Do not, my courteous Reader, take Pet at our Proprietary Constitution, for these our Bargain and Sale Proceedings in Legislation.—’Tis a happy Country where Justice, and what was your own before, can be had for Ready Money. ’Tis another Addition to the Value of Money, and of Course another Spur to Industry.—Every Land is not so bless’d. There are Countries where the princely Proprietor claims to be Lord of all Property; where what is your own shall not only be wrested from you, but the Money you give to have it restor’d, shall be kept with it, and your offering so much, being a Sign of your being too rich, you shall be plunder’d of every Thing that remain’d. These Times are not come here yet: Your present Proprietors have never been more unreasonable hitherto, than barely to insist on your Fighting in Defence of their Property, and paying the Expence yourselves; or if their Estates must, (ah! must) be tax’d towards it, that the best of their Lands shall be tax’d no higher than the worst of yours.

Pardon this Digression, and I return to Governor Denny; but first let me do Governor Hamilton the Justice to observe, that whether from the Uprightness of his own Disposition, or from the odious Light the Practice had been set in on Denny’s Account, or from both, he did not attempt these Bargains, but pass’d such Laws as he thought fit to pass, without any previous Stipulation of Pay for them. But then, when he saw the Assembly tardy in the Payment he expected, and yet calling upon him still to pass more Laws, he openly put them in Mind of the Money, as a Debt due to him from Custom.

In the Course of the present Year, (says he, in his Message of July 8. 1763) a great Deal of public Business hath been transacted by me; and I believe, Edition: current; Page: [1876] as many useful Laws enacted, as by any of my Predecessors in the same Space of Time; yet I have not understood, that any Allowance hath hitherto been made to me for my Support, as hath been customary in this Province.

—The House having then some Bills in hand, took the Matter into immediate Consideration, and voted him five Hundred Pounds; for which an Order or Certificate was accordingly drawn; and on the same Day the Speaker, after the House had been with the Governor, reported,

That his Honor had been pleased to give his Assent to the Bills, by enacting the same into Laws; and Mr. Speaker farther reported, that he had then, in behalf of the House, presented their Certificate of Five Hundred Pounds to the Governor, who was pleased to say, he was obliged to the House for the same.

—Thus we see the Practice of purchasing and paying for Laws, is interwoven with our Proprietary Constitution, us’d in the best Times, and under the best Governors. And yet, alas poor Assembly! How will you steer your brittle Bark between these Rocks? If you pay ready Money for your Laws, and those Laws are not lik’d by the Proprietaries, you are charg’d with Bribery and Corruption:—If you wait a While before you pay, you are accus’d of detaining the Governor’s customary Right, and dun’d as a negligent or dishonest Debtor, that refuses to discharge a just Debt!

But Governor Denny’s Case, I shall be told, differs from all these, for the Acts he was induced to pass, were, as the Prefacer tells us, “contrary to his Duty, and to every Tie of Honor and Justice.” Such is the Imperfection of our Language, and perhaps of all other Languages, that notwithstanding we are furnish’d with Dictionaries innumerable, we cannot precisely know the import of Words, unless we know of what Party the Man is that uses them.—In the Mouth of an Assembly-man, or true Pennsylvanian, Contrary to his Duty, and to every Tie of Honor and Justice, would mean, the Governor’s long Refusal to pass Laws, however just and necessary, for taxing the proprietary Estate; a Refusal contrary to the Trust reposed in the Lieutenant Governor, by the Royal Charter, to the Rights of the People, whose Welfare it was his Duty to promote, and to the Nature of the Contract, made between the Governor and the Governed, when the Quit-rents and Licence Fees were establish’d, which confirm’d what the Proprietaries call Edition: current; Page: [1877] our undoubted Right to necessary Laws.—But in the Mouth of the Proprietaries, or their Creatures, contrary to his Duty, and to every Tie of Justice and Honor, means, his Passing Laws, contrary to Proprietary Instructions; and contrary to the Bonds he had previously given to observe those Instructions:—Instructions however, that were unjust and unconstitutional, and Bonds that were illegal and void from the beginning.

Much has been said of the Wickedness of Governor Denny in Passing, and of the Assembly in prevailing with him to pass those Acts. By the Prefacer’s Account of them, you would think the Laws so obtain’d were all bad, for he speaks of but seven, of which, six he says were repeal’d, and the seventh reported to be “fundamentally wrong and unjust,” and “ought to be repealed, unless six certain Amendments were made therein.”* Whereas in fact there were nineteen of them; and several of those must have been good Laws, for even the Proprietaries did not object to them. Of the eleven that they oppos’d, only six were repeal’d; so that it seems these good Gentlemen may themselves be sometimes as wrong in opposing, as the Assembly in enacting Laws. But the Words fundamentally wrong and unjust are the great Fund of Triumph to the Proprietaries and their Partizans. These their subsequent Governors have unmercifully dinn’d in the Ears of the Assembly on all occasions ever since, for they make a Part of near a Dozen of their Messages.—They have rung the Changes on those Words, till they work’d them up to say that the Law was fundamentally wrong and unjust in Six several Articles. [Governor’s Message, May 17th, 1764.] instead of “ought to be repealed unless six Alterations or Amendments could be made therein”—A Law unjust in six several Articles, must be an unjust Law indeed; Let us therefore once for all, examine this unjust Law, Article by Article, in order to see whether our Assemblies have been such Villains as they are represented.

The first Particular in which their Lordships propos’d the Act should be amended, was, “That the real Estates to be tax’d, be defined with Precision, so as not to include the unsurveyed waste Land belonging to the Proprietaries.” This was at most, but an Obscurity to be cleared up. And tho’ the Law might well appear to their Lordships incertain in that Particular; with us, who better know our own Customs, and that the Proprietaries waste Edition: current; Page: [1878] unsurveyed Land, was never here considered among Estates real, subject to Taxation, there was not the least Doubt or Supposition, that such Lands were included in the Words, “all Estates real and personal.” The Agents therefore, knowing that the Assembly had no Intention to tax those Lands, might well suppose they would readily agree to remove the Obscurity.

Before we go farther, let it be observ’d, That the main Design of the Proprietaries, in opposing this Act, was, to prevent their Estates being tax’d at all. But as they knew that the Doctrine of Proprietary Exemption, which they had endeavoured to enforce here, could not be supported there, they bent their whole Strength against the Act on other Principles to procure its Repeal, pretending great willingness to submit to an equitable Tax; but that the Assembly, out of mere Malice, because they had conscienciously quitted Quakerism for the Church! were wickedly determin’d to ruin them, to tax all their unsurvey’d Wilderness Lands, and at the highest Rates, and by that Means exempt themselves and the People, and throw the whole Burden of the War on the Proprietary Family.—How foreign these Charges were from the Truth, need not be told to any Man in Pennsylvania. And as the Proprietors knew, that the Hundred Thousand Pounds of Paper Money, struck for the Defence of their enormous Estates, with others, was actually issued, spread thro’ the Country, and in the Hands of Thousands of poor People, who had given their Labor for it; how base, cruel, and inhuman it was, to endeavour, by a Repeal of the Act, to strike the Money dead in those Hands at one Blow, and reduce it all to Waste Paper, to the utter Confusion of all Trade and Dealings, and the Ruin of Multitudes, merely to avoid paying their own just Tax!—Words may be wanting to express,—but Minds will easily conceive,—and never without Abhorrence!

The second Amendment propos’d by their Lordships was, “That the located uncultivated Lands belonging to the Proprietaries shall not be assessed higher than the lowest Rate, at which any located uncultivated Lands belonging to the Inhabitants shall be assessed.”—Had there been any Provision in the Act, that the Proprietaries Lands, and those of the People, of the same Value, should be taxed differently, the one high, and the other low, the Act might well have been call’d in this Particular, fundamentally wrong and unjust. But as there is no such Clause, this cannot be one of the Particulars on which the Charge is founded; but, like the first, is merely a Requisition to make the Act clear, by express Directions therein, that the Proprietaries Estate should not be, as they pretended to believe it would be, Edition: current; Page: [1879] tax’d higher in proportion to its Value, than the Estates of others.—As to their present Claim, founded on that Article, “that the best and most valuable of their Lands, should be tax’d no higher than the worst and least valuable of the People’s,” it was not then thought of; they made no such Demand, nor did any one dream, that so iniquitous a Claim would ever be made by Men who had the least Pretence to the Characters of Honorable or Honest.

The third Particular was, “That all Lands not granted by the Proprietaries within Boroughs and Towns, be deemed located uncultivated Lands, and rated accordingly, and not as Lots.” The Clause in the Act that this relates to, is,

And whereas many valuable Lots of Ground within the City of Philadelphia, and the several Boroughs and Towns within this Province, remain unimproved; Be it enacted, &c. That all such unimproved Lots of Ground, within the City and Boroughs aforesaid, shall be rated and assessed, according to their Situation and Value, for and towards raising the Money hereby granted.

—The Reader will observe, that the Word is all unimproved Lots, and that all comprehends the Lots belonging to the People, as well as those of the Proprietary.—There were many of the former, and a Number belonging even to Members of the then Assembly; and considering the Value, the Tax must be proportionably as grievous to them, as the Proprietary’s to him.—Is there among us a single Man, even a Proprietary Relation, Officer, or Dependant, so insensible of the Differences of Right and Wrong, and so confus’d in his Notions of just and unjust, as to think and say, that the Act in this Particular, was fundamentally wrong and unjust? I believe not one.—What then could their Lordships mean by the propos’d Amendment?—Their Meaning is easily explain’d. The Proprietaries have considerable Tracts of Land within the Bounds of Boroughs and Towns, that have not yet been divided into Lots: They pretended to believe, that by Virtue of this Clause, an imaginary Division would be made of those Lands into Lots, and an extravagant Value set on such imaginary Lots, greatly to their Prejudice:—It was answered, that no such Thing was intended by the Act; and that by Lots, was meant only such Ground as had been surveyed and divided into Lots,—and not the open undivided Lands.—If this only is intended, say their Lordships, then let the Act be amended, so as clearly to express what is intended. This is the full Amount of the third Particular.—How the Act Edition: current; Page: [1880] was understood here, is well known by the Execution of it, before the Dispute came on in England; and therefore before their Lordships Opinion on the Point could be given; of which full Proof shall presently be made.—In the mean Time it appears, that the Act was not on this Account, fundamentally wrong and unjust.

The fourth Particular is, “That the Governor’s Consent and Approbation be made necessary to every Issue and Application of the Money to be raised by Virtue of such Act.”—The Assembly intended this, and tho’t they had done it in the Act. The Words of the Clause being,

That [the Commissioners named] or the major Part of them, or of the Survivors of them, with the Consent and Approbation of the Governor or Commander in Chief of this Province, for the Time being, shall order and appoint the Disposition of the Monies arising by Virtue of this Act, for and towards paying and cloathing two Thousand seven Hundred effective Men, &c.

—It was understood here, that as the Power of disposing, was expressly to be with the Consent and Approbation of the Governor, the Commissioners had no Power to dispose of the Money without that Approbation: But their Lordships, jealous (as their Station requires) of this Prerogative of the Crown, and being better acquainted with the Force and Weakness of Law Expression, did not think the Clause explicit enough, unless the Words, and not otherwise, were added, or some other Words equivalent. This Particular therefore was no more, than another Requisition of greater Clearness and Precision; and by no Means a Foundation for the Charge of fundamentally wrong and unjust.

The fifth Particular was, “That Provincial Commissioners be named to hear and determine Appeals, brought on the Part of the Inhabitants as well as the Proprietaries.”—There was already subsisting a Provision for the Appointment of County Commissioners of Appeal, by whom the Act might be, and actually has been, as we shall presently shew, justly and impartially executed, with Regard to the Proprietaries; but Provincial Commissioners, appointed in the Act, it was thought might be of Use, in regulating and equalizing the Modes of Assessment of different Counties, where they were unequal; and, by affording a second Appeal, tend more to the Satisfaction both of the Proprietaries and the People.—This Particular was therefore a mere proposed Improvement of the Act, which Edition: current; Page: [1881] could not be, and was not, in that respect, denominated fundamentally wrong and unjust.

We have now gone thro’ five of the six proposed Amendments, without discovering any Thing on which that Censure could be founded; but the sixth remains, which points at a Part of the Act, wherein we must candidly acknowlege there is something, that in their Lordships View of it, must justify their Judgment: The Words of the 6th Article are, “That the Payments by the Tenants to the Proprietaries of their Rents, shall be according to the Terms of their respective Grants, as if such Act had never been passed.”—This relates to that Clause of the Act, by which the Paper Money was made a legal Tender in “Discharge of all Manner of Debts, Rents, Sum and of Sums of Money whatsoever, &c. at the Rates ascertained in the Act of Parliament, made in the sixth of Queen Anne.”—From the great Injustice frequently done to Creditors, and complain’d of from the Colonies, by the vast Depreciation of Paper Bills, it was become a general fixed Principle with the Ministry, that such Bills, whose Value, tho’ fixed in the Act, could not be kept fixed by the Act, ought not to be made a legal Tender in any Colony, at those Rates. The Parliament had before passed an Act to take that Tender away in the four New-England Colonies, and have since made the Act general. This was what their Lordships would therefore have proposed for the Amendment.—But it being represented, That the chief Support of the Credit of the Bills, was the legal Tender, and that without it they would become of no Value; it was allowed generally to remain, with an Exception to the Proprietaries Rents, where there was a special Contract for Payment in another Coin.—It cannot be denied, but that this was doing Justice to the Proprietaries, and that had the Requisition been in favour of all other Creditors also, the Justice had been equal, as being general. We do not therefore presume to impeach their Lordship’s Judgment, that the Act, as it enforced the Acceptance of Bills for Money, at a Value which they had only nominally and not really, was in that Respect fundamentally wrong and unjust.—And yet we believe the Reader will not think the Assembly so much to blame, when he considers, That the making Paper Bills a legal Tender, had been the universal Mode in America for more than threescore Years. That there was scarce a Colony that had not practised that Mode, more or less.—That it had always been thought absolutely necessary in order to give the Bills a Credit, and thereby obtain from them the Uses of Money.—That the Inconveniencies were therefore submitted to, for the Edition: current; Page: [1882] Sake of the greater Conveniencies.—That Acts innumerable of the like Kind had been approved by the Crown.—And, that if the Assembly made the Bills a legal Tender at those Rates to the Proprietaries, they made them also a legal Tender to themselves, and all their Constituents, many of whom might suffer in their Rents, &c. as much, in proportion to their Estates, as the Proprietaries. But if he cannot on these Considerations, quite excuse the Assembly, what will he think of those Honourable Proprietaries, who when Paper Money was issued in their Colony, for the common Defence of their vast Estates, with those of the People, and who must therefore reap, at least, equal Advantages from those Bills with the People, could nevertheless wish to be exempted from their Share of the unavoidable Disadvantages.—Is there upon Earth a Man besides, with any Conception of what is honest, with any Notion of Honor, with the least Tincture in his Veins of the Gentleman, but would have blush’d at the Thought; but would have rejected with Disdain such undue Preference, if it had been offered him?—Much less would he have struggled for it, mov’d Heaven and Earth to obtain it, resolv’d to ruin Thousands of his Tenants by a Repeal of the Act rather than miss of it;* and enforce it afterwards by an audaciously wicked Instruction, forbidding Aids to his King, and exposing the Province to Destruction, unless it was complied with. And yet,—These are honourable Men.

Here then we have had a full View of the Assembly’s Injustice; about which there has been so much insolent Triumph! But let the Proprietaries and their discreet Deputies hereafter recollect and remember; that the same august Tribunal, which censured some of the Modes and Circumstances of that Act, did at the same Time establish and confirm the Grand Principle of the Act, viz. That the Proprietary Estate ought, with other Estates, to Edition: current; Page: [1883] be taxed:—And thereby did in Effect determine and pronounce, that the Opposition so long made in various Shapes, to that just Principle, by the Proprietaries, was fundamentally wrong and unjust.—An Injustice, they were not, like the Assembly, under any Necessity of committing for the public Good; or any other Necessity but what was impos’d on them by those base Passions that act the Tyrant in bad Minds, their Selfishness, their Pride, and their Avarice.

I have frequently mentioned the equitable Intentions of the House, in those Parts of the Act that were suppos’d obscure, and how they were understood here. A clear Proof thereof is found, as I have already said, in the actual Execution of the Act; in the Execution of it before the Contest about it in England, and therefore before their Lordships Objections to it had a Being.—When the Report came over, and was laid before the House, one Year’s Tax had been levied; and the Assembly, conscious that no Injustice had been intended to the Proprietaries, and willing to rectify it if any should appear, appointed a Committee of Members from the several Counties, to examine into the State of the Proprietaries Taxes thro’ the Province, and nominated on that Committee, a Gentleman of known Attachment to the Proprietaries, and their Chief Justice, Mr. Allen, to the end that the strictest Enquiry might be made.—Their Report was as follows.—

We the Committee appointed to enquire into, and consider the State of the Proprietary Taxation thro’ the several Counties, and report the same to the House, have, in pursuance of the said Appointment, carefully examined the Returns of Property, and compared them with the respective Assessments thereon made through the whole Province:—and find,

First, That no Part of the unsurveyed waste Lands, belonging to the Proprietaries, have, in any Instance, been included in the Estates taxed.

Secondly, That some of the located uncultivated Lands, belonging to the Proprietaries in several Counties, remain unassessed, and are not, in any County, assessed higher than the Lands under like Circumstances, belonging to the Inhabitants.

Thirdly, That all Lands, not granted by the Proprietaries, within Boroughs and Towns, remain untaxed, excepting in a few Instances, and in those they are rated as low as the Lands which are granted in the said Boroughs and Towns.

Edition: current; Page: [1884]
The whole of the Proprietary Tax of eighteen Pence in the Pound, amounts to £. 566 4 10
And the Sum of the Tax on the Inhabitants for the same Year, amounts, thro’ the several Counties, to } 27,103 12 8

And it is the Opinion of your Committee, that there has not been any Injustice done to the Proprietaries, or Attempts made to rate or assess any Part of their Estates, higher than the Estates of the like Kind belonging to the Inhabitants, are rated and assessed;—but on the contrary, we find, that their Estates are rated, in many Instances below others.

Thomas Leech, George Ashbridge.
Joseph Fox. Emanuel Carpenter.
Samuel Rhoads. John Blackburn.
Abraham Chapman. William Allen.

The House communicated this Report to Governor Hamilton, when he afterwards press’d them to make the stipulated Act of Amendment; acquainting him at the same Time, that as in the Execution of the Act, no Injustice had hitherto been done to the Proprietary, so, by a Yearly Inspection of the Assessments, they would take Care that none should be done him; for that if any should appear, or the Governor could at any Time point out to them any that had been done, they would immediately rectify it; and therefore, as the Act was shortly to expire, they did not think the Amendments necessary.—Thus that Matter ended during that Administration.—And had his Successor, Governor Penn, permitted it still to sleep, we are of Opinion it had been more to the Honor of the Family, and of his own Discretion.—But he was pleas’d to found upon it a Claim manifestly unjust, and which he was totally destitute of Reason to support. A Claim, that the Proprietaries best and most valuable located uncultivated Lands should be taxed no higher than the worst and least valuable of those belonging to the Inhabitants: To enforce which, as he thought the Words of one of the Stipulations seem’d to give some Countenance to it, he insisted on using those very Words as sacred, from which he could “neither in Decency or in Duty,” deviate, tho’ he had agreed to deviate from Words of the same Report, and therefore equally sacred, in every other Instance. A Conduct which will, as Edition: current; Page: [1885] the Prefacer says in Governor Denny’s Case, forever disgrace the Annals of his Administration.*

Never did any Administration open with a more promising Prospect. He assur’d the People, in his first Speeches, of the Proprietaries paternal Regard for them, and their sincere Dispositions to do every Thing that might promote their Happiness. As the Proprietaries had been pleased to appoint a Son of the Family to the Government, it was thought not unlikely that there might be something in these Professions; for that they would probably chuse to have his Administration made easy and agreeable, and to that End might think it prudent to withdraw those harsh, disagreeable and unjust Instructions, with which most of his Predecessors had been hamper’d: The Assembly therefore believ’d fully, and rejoic’d sincerely.—They show’d the new Governor every Mark of Respect and Regard that was in their Power. They readily and chearfully went into every Thing he recommended to them. And when he and his Authority were insulted and indanger’d by a lawless murdering Mob, they and their Friends, took Arms at his Call, and form’d themselves round him for his Defence, and the Support of his Government.—But when it was found that those mischievous Instructions still subsisted, and were even farther extended; when the Governor began, unprovok’d, to send the House affronting Messages, seizing every imaginary Occasion of reflecting on their Conduct; when every other Symptom appear’d of fixt deep-rooted Family Malice, which could but a little while bear the unnatural Covering that had been thrown over it, what Wonder is it, if all the old Wounds broke out and bled afresh, if all the old Grievances, still unredress’d, were recollected; if Despair succeeded of any Peace with a Family, that could make such Returns to all their Overtures of Kindness?—And when, in the very Proprietary Council, compos’d of stanch Friends of the Family, and chosen for their Attachment to it, ’twas observ’d, that the old Men, (1. Kings, Chap. 12.) withdrew themselves, finding their Opinion slighted, and that all Measures were taken by the Advice of two or three young Men (one of whom too denies his Share in them) is it any Wonder, since like Causes produce like Effects, if the Assembly, notwithstanding all their Edition: current; Page: [1886] Veneration for the first Proprietor, should say, with the Children of Israel under the same Circumstances, What Portion have we in David, or Inheritance in the Son of Jesse: To your Tents, O Israel!

Under these Circumstances, and a Conviction that while so many natural Sources of Difference subsisted between Proprietaries and People, no Harmony in Government could long subsist; without which, neither the Commands of the Crown could be executed, nor the public Good promoted; the House resum’d the Consideration of a Measure that had often been propos’d in former Assemblies; a Measure that every Proprietary Province in America had, from the same Causes, found themselves oblig’d to take, and had actually taken or were about to take; and a Measure that had happily succeeded, wherever it was taken; I mean the Recourse to an immediate Royal Government.

They therefore, after a thorough Debate, and making no less than twenty-five unanimous Resolves, expressing the many Grievances this Province had long laboured under, thro’ the Proprietary Government; came to the following Resolution, viz.

Resolved, Nemine contradicente,2

That this House will adjourn, in order to consult their Constituents, whether an humble Address should be drawn up, and transmitted to his Majesty, praying, that he would be graciously pleased to take the People of this Province under his immediate Protection and Government, by compleating the Agreement heretofore made with the first Proprietary for the Sale of the Government to the Crown, or otherwise as to his Wisdom and Goodness shall seem meet.*

This they ordered to be made public, and it was published accordingly, in all the News Papers; the House then adjourn’d for no less then seven Weeks, to give their Constituents Time to consider the Matter, and themselves an Opportunity of taking their Opinion and Advice. Could any thing be more Edition: current; Page: [1887] deliberate, more fair and open, or more respectful to the People that chose them?—During this Recess, the People in many Places, held little Meetings with each other, the Result of which was, that they would manifest their Sentiments to their Representatives, by petitioning the Crown directly of themselves, and requesting the Assembly to transmit and support those Petitions.—At the next Meeting, many of these Petitions were delivered to the House with that Request; they were signed by a very great* Number of the most substantial Inhabitants, and not the least Intimation was receiv’d by the Assembly from any other of their Constituents, that the Measure was disapproved, except in a Petition from an obscure Township in Lancaster County, to which there were about forty Names indeed, but all evidently signed by three Hands only.—What could the Assembly infer from this express’d Willingness of a Part, and Silence of the Rest; but that the Measure was universally agreeable? They accordingly resum’d the Consideration of it, and tho’ a small, very small Opposition then appear’d to it in the House, yet as even that was founded, not on the Impropriety of the Thing, but on the suppos’d unsuitableness of the Time, or the Manner; and a Majority of nine tenths being still for it, a Petition was drawn agreeable to the former Resolve, and order’d to be transmitted to his Majesty.

But the Prefacer tells us, that these Petitioners for a Change were a “Number of rash, ignorant, and inconsiderate People,” and generally of a low Edition: current; Page: [1888] Rank. To be sure they were not of the Proprietary Officers, Dependants, or Expectants, and those are chiefly the People of high Rank among us;—but they were otherwise generally Men of the best Estates in the Province, and Men of Reputation. The Assembly who come from all Parts of the Country, and therefore may be suppos’d to know them at least as well as the Prefacer, have given that Testimony of them. But what is the Testimony of the Assembly, who in his Opinion