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proprietary government, in which the proprietor of the province was governor; although he generally refided abroad, and administered the government by a deputy of his own appointment; the affembly only being chofen by the people. Such were the governments of Pennfylvania and Maryland; and originally of New-Jerfey and Carolina. The third kind was that of royal government, where the governor and council were appointed by the crown, and the affembly by the people. Of this kind were the governments of New-Hampshire, Maffachusetts, New-York, New-Jersey, after the year 1702; Virginia, the Carolinas, after the refignation of the proprietors in 1728; and Georgia. This variety of governments created different degrees of dependence on the crown. Το render laws valid, it was conftitutionally required that they fhould be ratified by the king; but this formality was often difpenfed with, efpecially in the charter governments.
At the beginning of the laft war with France, commiffioners from many of the colonies had affembled at Albany, and propofed that a great council fhould be formed by deputies from the feveral colonies, which, with a general governor to be appointed by the crown, fhould be empowered to take measures for the common fafety, and to raise money for the execution of their defigns. This propofal was not relifhed by the British miniftry; but in place of this plan, it was propofed, that the governors of the colonies, with the affiftance of one or two of their council, fhould affemble and concert measures for the general defence; erect forts, levy troops, and draw on the treafury of England for monies that fhould be wanted; but the treafury to be reimbursed by a tax on the colonies, to be laid by the English parliament. To this plan, which would imply an avowal of the right of parliament to tax the colonies, the provincial affemblies objected with unfhaken firmnefs. It feems therefore that the British parliament, before the war, had it in contemplation to exercife the right they claimed of taxing the colonies at pleasure, without permitting them to be reprefented. Indeed it is obvious that they laid hold of the alarming fituation of the colonies about the year 1754 and 1755, to force them into an acknowledgment of the right, or to the adoption of measures that might afterwards be drawn into precedent. The colonies, however, with an uncommon forefight and firmness, defeated all their attempts. The war was carried on by requifitions on the colonies for fupplies of men and money, or by voluntary contributions.
But no fooner was peace concluded, than the English parliament refumed the plan of taxing the colonies; and to justify their attempts, faid, that the money to be raised, was to be appropriated to defray the expence of defending them in the late war.
The first attempt to raise a revenue in America appeared in the memorable ftamp act, paffed March 22, 1765; by which it was enacted, that certain inftruments of writing, as bills, bonds, &c. fhould not be valid in law, unless drawn on ftamped paper, on which a duty was laid. No fooner was this act published in America, than it raised a general alarm. The people were filled with apprehenfions at an act which they fuppofed an attack on their conftitutional rights. The colonies petitioned the king and parliament for a redress of the grievance, and formed affociations for the purpose of preventing the importation and ufe of British manufactures, until the act fhould be repealed. This fpirited and unanimous
oppofition of the Americans produced the defired effect, and on the 18th of March, 1766, the ftamp-act was repealed. The news of the repeal was received in the colonies with univerfal joy, and the trade between them and Great-Britain was renewed on the moft liberal footing.
The parliament, by repealing this act, fo obnoxious to their American brethren, did not intend to lay afide the scheme of raising a revenue in the colonies, but merely to change the mode. Accordingly the next year they passed an act, laying a certain duty on glafs, tea, paper and painters colours; articles which were much wanted, and not manufactured, in America. This act kindled the resentment of the Americans, and excited a general oppofition to the meafure; fo that parliament thought proper, in 1770, to take off these duties, except three-pence a pound on tea. Yet this duty, however trifling, kept alive the jealoufy of the colonists, and their oppofition to parliamentary taxation continued and increased.
But it must be remembered, that the inconvenience of paying the duty was not the fole nor principal caufe of the oppofition; it was the principle, which, once admitted, would have fubjected the colonies to unlimitted parliamentary taxation, without the privilege of being reprefented. The right, abftractly confidered, was denied; and the fmalleft attempt to eftablish the claim by precedent, was uniformly refifted. The Americans could not be deceived as to the views of parliament; for the repeal of the ftamp-act was accompanied with an unequivocal declaration, that the parliament had a right to make laws of fufficient validity to bind the colonies in all cafes whatfoever.'
The colonies therefore entered into measures to encourage their own manufactures, and home productions, and to retrench the ufe of foreign fuperfluities; while the importation of tea was prohibited. In the royal and proprietary governments, the governors and people were in a state of continual warfare. Affemblies were repeatedly called, and fuddenly diffolved. While fitting, the affemblies employed the time in flating grievances and framing remonftrances. To inflame thefe difcontents, an act of parliament was paffed, ordaining that the governors and judges fhould receive their falaries of the crown; thus making them independent of the provincial affemblies, and removeable only at the pleasure of the king.
Thefe arbitrary proceedings, with many others not here mentioned *, could not fail of producing a rupture. The first act of violence, was the maffacre at Bofton, on the evening of the fifth of March, 1770. A body of British troops had been stationed in Bofton to awe the inhabitants, and inforce the measures of parliament. On the fatal day, when blood was to be fhed, as a prelude to more tragic fcenes, a riot was raifed among fome foldiers and boys; the former aggreffing by throwing fnow-balls at the latter. The bickerings and jealoufies between the inhabitants and foldiers, which had been frequent before, now became ferious. A multitude was foon collected, and the controverfy became fo warm, that to disperse the people, the troops were embodied
* See an enumeration of grievances in the act of independence, and in a variety of petitions to the king and parliament.
and ordered to fire upon the inhabitants. This fatal order was executed, and feveral perfons fell a facrifice. The people reftrained their vengeance at the time; but this wanton act of cruelty and military defpotifin fanned the flame of liberty; a flame that was not to be extinguished but by a total feparation of the Colonies from their oppreffive and hoftile parent.
In 1773 the fpirit of the Americans broke out into open violence. The Gafpee, an armed fchooner belonging to his Britannic Majefty, had been ftationed at Providence in Rhode Island, to prevent fmuggling. The vigilance of the commander irritated the inhabitants to that degree, that about two hundred armed men entered the veffel at night, compelled the officers and men to go ashore, and fet fire to the schooner. A reward of five hundred pounds, offered by government for apprehending any of the perfons concerned in this daring act, produced no effectual difcovery.
About this time, the difcovery and publication of fome private confidential letters, written by the royal officers in Boston, to perfons in office in England, ferved to confirm the apprehenfions of the Americans, with refpect to the defigns of the British government. It was now made obvious that more effectual measures would be taken to eftablish the fupremacy of the British Parliament over the Colonies. The letters reconimended decifive meafures, and the writers were charged, by the exafperated Americans, with betraying their truft and the people they governed.
As the refolutions of the Colonies not to import or confume tea, had, in a great measure, deprived the English government of a revenue from this quarter, the parliament formed a fcheme of introducing tea into America, under cover of the East-India Company. For this purpofe an act was paffed, enabling the Company to export all forts of teas, duty free, to any place whatever. The Company departed from their ufual mode of bufinefs, and became their own exporters. Several hips were freighted with teas, and fent to the American colonies, and factors were appointed to receive and difpofe of their cargoes.
The Americans, determined to oppofe the revenue-fyftem of the Eng lith parliament in every poffible shape, confidered the attempt of the EaitIndia Company to evade the refolutions of the colonies, and difpofe of teas in America, as an indirect mode of taxation, fanétioned by the authority of Parliament. The people affembled in various places, and in the large commercial towns took meafures to prevent the landing of the teas. Committees were appointed, and armed with extenfive powers to infpect merchants books, to propofe tefts, and make use of other expudients to fruftrate the defigns of the Eaft-India Company. The fame fpirit pervaded the people from New-Hampfhire to Georgia. In fore places, the confignees of the teas were intimidated fo far as to relinquith their appointments, or to enter into engagements not to act in that capacity. The cargo fent to South Carolina was ftored, the confignees being reftrained from offering the tea for fale. In other provinces, the hips were fent back without difcharging their cargoes.
But in Boston the tea fhared a more violent fate. Senfible that no legal measures could prevent its being landed, and that if once landed, it would be difpofed of; a number of men in difguife, on the 18th of December 1773, entered the fhips, and threw overboard three hundred and forty chefts of it, which was the proportion belonging to the Eaft-India H 2
Company. No fooner did the news of this deftruction of the tea reach Great-Britain, than the parliament determined to punish that devoted town. On the king's laying the American papers before them, a bill was brought in and paffed, to difcontinue the landing and difcharging, lading and fhipping of goods, wares and merchandizes at the town of Bofton, or within the harbour.'
This act, patled March 25, 1774, called the Bofton Port Bill, threw the inhabitants of Maflachusetts into the greateft confternation. The town of Bofton paffed a refolution, expreffing their fenfe of this oppreffive measure, and a defire that all the colonies would concur to flop all importation from Great-Britain. Most of the colonies entered into fpirited refolutions, on this occafion, to unite with Maffachusetts in a firm oppofition to the unconftitutional meafures of the parliament. The firft of June, the day on which the Port Bill was to take place, was appointed to be kept as a day of humiliation, fafting and prayer throughout the colonies, to feek the divine direction and aid, in that critical and gloomy juncture of affairs.
It ought here to be obferved, that this rational and pious custom of obferving fafts in times of diftrefs and impending danger, and of celebrating days of public thanksgiving, after having received fpecial tokens of divine favour, has ever prevailed in New-England fince its first fettlement, and in fome parts of other ftates. Thefe public fupplications and acknowledgments to heaven, at the commencement of hoftilities, and during the whole progrefs of the war, were more frequent than ufual, and were attended with uncommon fervour and folemnity. They were confidered by the people, as an humble appeal to heaven for the juftnefs of their caufe, and defigned to manifeft their dependence on the GOD OF HOSTS for aid and fuccefs in maintaining it against their hoftile brethren. The prayers and public difcourfes of the Clergy who were friends to their fuffering country (and there were very few who were not) breathed the fpirit of patriotifm; and as their piety and integrity had generally fecured to them the confidence of the people, they had great influence and fuccefs in encouraging them to engage in its defence. In this way, that venerable clafs of citizens aided the caufe of their country; and to their pious exertions, under the GREAT ARBITER of human affairs, has been juftly afcribed no inconfiderable share of the fuccefs and victory that crowned the American arms.
During the height of the confternation and confufion which the Bofton Port Bill occafioned; at the very time when a town-meeting was fitting to confider of it, General Gage, who had been appointed to the government of Maffachufetts, arrived in the harbour. His arrival however did not allay the popular ferment, or check the progrefs of the measures then taking, to unite the Colonies in oppofition to the oppreffive act of parliament.
But the Port Bill was not the only act that alarmed the apprehenfions of the Americans. Determined to compel the province of Maffachusetts to fubmit to their laws, parliament paffed an act for the better regulating government in the province of Maffachusetts Bay. The object of this act was to alter the government, as it ftood on the charter of King William, to take the appointment of the executive out of the hands of the
people, and place it in the crown; thus making even the judges and Theriffs dependent on the king, and removeable only at his pleasure.
This act was foon followed by another, which ordained, that any perfon, indicted for murder, or other capital offence, committed in aiding the magiftrates in executing the laws, might be fent by the governor either to another colony, or to Great Britain, for his trial.
This was foon followed by the Quebec Bill; which extended the bounds of that province, and granted many privileges to the Roman Catholics. The object of this bill was, to fecure the attachment of that province to the crown of England, and prevent its joining the colonies in their refiftance of the laws of parliament.
But these measures did not intimidate the Americans. On the other hand they served to confirm their former apprehenfions of the evil defigns of government, and to unite the colonies in their oppofition. A correfpondence of opinion with refpect to the unconftitutional acts of parliament, produced a uniformity of proceedings in the colonies. The people generally concurred in a propofition for holding a congrefs by deputation from the feveral colonies, in order to concert measures for the preservation of their rights. Deputies were accordingly appointed, and met at Philadelphia on the 26th of October, 1774.
In this first congrefs, the proceedings were cool, deliberate and loyal; but marked with unanimity and firmnefs. Their first act was a declaration, or state of their claims as to the enjoyment of all the rights of British fubjects, and particularly that of taxing themfelves exclufively, and of regulating the internal police of the colonies. They alfo drew up a petition to the king, complaining of their grievances, and praying for a repeal of the unconftitutional and oppreffive acts of parliament. They figned an affociation to fufpend the importation of British goods, and the exportation of American produce, until their grievances fhould be redreffed. They sent an address to the inhabitants of Great-Britain, and another to the people of America; in the former of which they enumerated the oppreffive fteps of parliament, and called on their British brethren not to aid the miniftry in enflaving their American fubjects; and in the latter, they endeavoured to confirm the people in a spirited and unanimous determination to defend their conftitutional rights.
In the mean time, every thing in Maffachusetts wore the appearance of oppofition by force. A new council for the governor had been appointed by the crown. New judges were appointed and attempted to proceed in the execution of their office. But the juries refufed to be fworn under them; in fome counties, the people affembled to prevent the courts from proceeding to bufinefs; and in Berkshire they fucceeded, fetting an example of refiftance that has fince been followed, in violation of the laws of the state.
In this fituation of affairs, the day for the annual mufter of the militia approached. General Gage, apprehenfive of fome violence, had the precaution to feize the magazines of ammunition and ftores at Cambridge and Charleston, and lodged them in Boston. This measure, with the fortifying of that neck of land which joins Boston to the main land at Roxbury, caused a univerfal alarm and ferment, Several thoufand people affembled, and it was with difficulty they could be restrained from falling upon the British troops.