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HISTORY OF VIRGINIA.

CHAPTER I.

National Debt of Great Britain-Her authority in America-Sir Robert Walpole-Injustice of taxing the Colonies-Lord Chatham-Doctor Johnson-Patrick Henry-His early life-Clergy and Two Penny Act -Clergy suit-Henry's eloquence - Indian War - George Grenville proposes to raise revenue by taxing the Colonies-Virginia remonstrates -Stamp Act-Indignation in America—Virginia Legislature of 1765— Patrick Henry's Resolutions—Their effect-First Congress―Stamp Act repealed-Treasurer Robinson-Death of Governor Fauquier-His character-Charles Townsend-Duties on tea and other articles-Action in Virginia-Norborne Berkley-Baron de Botetourt arrives-His character-First Virginia Convention-English injustice—Death of Botetourt-Lord Dunmore governor-Dabney Carr-Boston Port BillRaleigh Tavern-Convention in Williamsburg-Indian HostilitiesGeneral Andrew Lewis-Battle of Point Pleasant-Severe Loss of the Virginians-Savages defeated-Speech of Logan-Convention of 1775 in Richmond-Patrick Henry's great speech-Its effect-Dunmore secretly removes powder from Williamsburg-War.

SINCE the reign of William and Mary, England had felt continually increasing upon her, the weight of that huge debt which seems destined at last to involve the British state in total ruin. But, hitherto, great as were her necessities, they had not so blinded her eyes to the light of justice and of policy,

"Irretrievable ultimate ruin has Alison, Hist. Europe, ii. 407.. thus been brought upon the state."

as to induce her to think seriously of taxing her American Colonies.

Her hand had often pressed heavily upon them. Her Sovereigns had infringed their charters, and taken away their lands; and her Parliaments had fettered their trade by Navigation Laws, continued from reign to reign without repeal. It cannot be said that the Colonists had borne her oppressive rule without resistance. We have seen enough already in the History of Virginia to show that the power, and not the right, of the mother country had been acknowledged in the reluctant submission yielded to each law which subjected the Colony to unequal restraints. The time was now approaching when another struggle was to be made, and America was to demand that right and power should no longer be held in conflict with each other.

Few things are more difficult than the task of defining the precise extent of constitutional authority claimed by Great Britain, and admitted by her American Dependencies, during the whole period of their connexion. He who will examine what has been written on the subject by those who have professed to understand it, will be, at least, as much astonished at their discord of opinion, as he will be edified by their arguments. Many in America, and some in England, held that the Crown alone was the supreme bond of union, and that the English Parliament had no direct legisla

Read Grahame's remarks and note.-Colon. Hist. ii. 417.

1763.]

IN AMERICA.

21

tive control over the Colonies. Others taught that the Parliament was sovereign, and that its lawmaking power, in every case calling for its exercise, might be extended to the Colonies as fully as to any other part of the British Realm. In America, the rule of the Parliament in its action on the commerce of the Colonies, seems to have been reluctantly, but certainly admitted; and, harsh as were her Navigation Laws, had England never gone beyond them, she would long have retained her dominion over her distant children.

But there was one line beyond which the boldest advocates of English authority had not yet ventured to pass. To annex duties to imports for the purpose of regulating commerce, and directing it into profitable channels, had long been the policy of the mother country, and habit had taught the Colonies to submit; but the scheme of levying a tax in any form, upon America, for the purpose of pouring revenue into the British treasury, had never yet been tried; and, even when spoken of, had always been abandoned. It is true, that as early as 1696, a pamphlet had appeared in England, recommending a Parliamentary tax upon one of the Colonies; but it was immediately answered by two counterpamphlets, in which the right contended for was

Sir George Calvert's Message to House of Commons, in Grahame, note, Colon. Hist. ii. 417.

b This was William Pitt's opinion: "At the same tine, let the sovereign authority of legislative and commer. cial control, always possessed by this

country, be asserted in as strong terms as can be devised; and if it were denied, I would not suffer even a nail for a horseshoe to be manufactured in America."—Grahame, iv. 241; Blackstone's Com. i. 76-78.

b.

broadly denied, and the ruling powers seem tacitly to have acknowledged the injustice of the attempt. During Sir Robert Walpole's administration, England was beginning to totter beneath her financial burden; but when that sagacious statesman was asked to tax America, he repelled the temptation with prophetic alarm. He declared that "it was a measure too hazardous for him to venture upon," and when afterwards, upon the failure of his celebrated Excise Bill, Sir William Keith renewed the proposition, the baffled minister replied with emphasis: "I have Old England set against me, and do you think that I will have New England likewise?" England needed a mind as comprehensive as that of Walpole to teach her that justice and true policy must always ultimately coincide, and that it is better to bear present ills than, by using an illegal remedy, to insure final retribution.

It is not strange that the American Colonies should have shrunk with horror from the first approaches of the great taxing power to which Britain sought to subject them. They were not represented in her Parliament; and, in the very nature of things, they could not there sustain and secure their interests. Separated by three thousand miles of water, distinct in the products of their soil, their habits and feelings, and already maintaining legislative assemblies of their own, there was every thing to prove

a Lord Camden's Speech in 1766, cited in Gordon's America, i. 75.

Belsham's Great Britain, v. 134; Bisset's George III., 188, in note.

Coxe's Memoirs of Walpole, in Belsham, v. 135.

1763.]

INJUSTICE OF TAXATION.

23

the folly of any scheme which would have sought to countenance their rights by admitting their delegates to the floor of the English House of Commons. And accordingly, this plan never received any general favour, either in America or in the mother country, although political visionaries were not wanting to introduce and by argument to support it. It would have been impossible that the Colonies should have been duly represented in the English Parliament. If neither Ireland nor Scotland has had complete justice done to her in her legislative union with England, it will be easy to see what gross mockery would have been practised upon America, by inviting her delegates to join the lawmakers of Great Britain upon English soil. But it has been fortunate that a plan which would have been plausible enough to delay our independence, was yet so ungrateful to the mother country, that she never seriously contemplated its adoption. England taxed her Colonies without even the semblance of justice, that America might stand acquitted in the eyes of all the world in her exercise of the right of revolution.

Money, since its first introduction, has had an importance in human affairs, to which no other physical possession of man can lay claim. It is because money represents every thing else in the world, that men are prone to regard it as more valuable than all other things united. If land and water, houses and cattle, offices and titles, feelings and principles, can be, in a thousand varied forms,

⚫ See Dr. Johnson's Taxation no Tyranny, Works, Am. edit. 1834, ii. 433.

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