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century-if it does not drop it must be amputated. The idea of a virtual representation of America in this House is the most contemptible idea that ever entered into the head of a man.' Mr. Pitt concluded by declaring it as his opinion, that whilst the Americans were possessed of the constitutional right to tax themselves, Great Britain, as the supreme governing and legislative power, had always bound the colonies by her laws, by her regulations and restrictions in trade, in navigation, in manufactures, in every thing except that of taking their money out of their pockets without their consent. Of this broad assertion, of the extent of British power over the colonies, Mr. Grenville, the patron of the stanip-act, took advantage, and maintained that there was no difference in principle between the right to impose external and internal taxation. He asserted that the protection from time to time afforded to America by Britain was a just ground of claim to obedience on the part of the latter from the former, and asked when America was emancipated from the allegiance which she owed to the parent State? Provoked by Mr. Grenville's sophistry, and irritated by his insolence of tone and manner, Mr. Pitt gave utterance to the following declaration-a declaration, no doubt, well calculated to animate the spirit of freedom on the other side of the Atlantic. “The gentleman tells us that America is obstinate; America is almost in open rebellion. I REJOICE THAT AMERICA HAS RESISTED. Three millions of people, so dead to all the feelings of liberty, as voluntarily to submit to be slaves, would have been fit instruments to make slaves of the rest of their fellow subjects.
Thus did Mr. Pitt plead the cause of the colonies with all the fervor of commanding eloquence. In the course of a
Who followed Mr. Pitt in debate?
few days the same cause was maintained by Dr. Franklin, on the plain and unadorned, but convincing principles of
In the month of February, that celebrated philosopher was examined at the bàr of the House of Commons touching the state of America, and the probable effect upon the inhabitants of that country of the imposition of stamp duties. In this examination he evinced an accurate and extensive knowledge of facts--of facts which were calculated to convince any reasonable mind that it was morally impossible to enforce the stamp-act in the colonies; and that an attempt to effect that object would be productive of the worst consequences to the prosperity of Britain.The train of interrogatories furnished, of course, by himself, afforded him an opportunity of stating his opinions in his accustomed clear and simple manner; and the cross-examination which he underwent on the part of members hos. tile to the claims of the colonies, gave an occasion for the display of that coolness of temper and promptitude of perception by which he was distinguished. His examination concluded with the following pithy questions and replies:Q. What used to be the pride of the Americans? A. To indulge in the fashions and manufactures of Great Britain: Q. What is now their pride? A. To wear their old clothes over again till they can make new ones.*
*On the 10th of November, 1776, on motion of the Duke of Richmond, that Mr. Penn, whom he saw below the bar, should be examined, in order to establish the authenticity of the petition presented by him, several curious particulars, re. lative to much contoverted subjects, came out upon the examination of this gen. tleman.
He was personally acquainted with almost all the members of Congress, had been governor of the colony, and resided in the city in which they assembled and
What celebrated philosopher is here spoken of ?
The distress of the commercial and manufacturing interests now co-operating with parliamentary arguments and eloquence, the new ministers, who were not so deeply com
held their deliberations, and had every opportunity, from office, family connexion, locality of property, and an extensive acquaintance, to obtain the fullest information of the state of affairs in America, as well as of the temper and disposition of the people. It was also evident, that his discernment was equal to the forming a just estimate of things, and there could scarcely be a suspicion of partiality in favor of any measure which could tend to American independence, as the great fortune of his family, if not wholly lost, must be much impaired by such an event. Among the remarkable parts of his testimony was an absolute negative to the supposition or charge, that any design of independence had been formed by the Congress. He declared, that the members composing that body had been fairly elected; that they were men of character, capable of conveying the sense of America; and that they had actually conveyed the sense of their constituents; that the different provinces would be governed by their decisions in all events; that the war was levied and carried on by the colonists, merely in defence of what they thought their liberties; that the spirit of resistance was general, and they believed themselves able to defend their liberties against the arms of Great Britain; that the colony of Pennsylvania contained about sixty thousand men able to carry arms—that of these, twenty thousand had voluntarily enrolled themselves to serve without pay, and were armed and embodied before the governor's departure. Being questioned as to the nature of that volunteer force, he said that it included the men of best fortune and character in the province, and that it was generally composed of men who were possessed of property either landed or otherwise; that an additional body of four thousand five hundred minute men had since been raised in the province, who were to be paid when called out upon service; that they had the means and material of casting iron cannon in great plenty; that they cast brass cannon in Philadelphia, and they made small arms in great abundance and perfection; that the colonies had been dissatisfied with the reception of their former petitions; but that they had founded great hopes upon the success of that which he brought over, that it was styled the Olive Branch, and that he had been congratulated by his friends upon his being the bearer of it; that it was greatly to be feared, that if conciliatory measures were not speedily pursued, they would form connexions with foreign powers, and that if such connexions were once formed, it would be found a matter of great difficulty to dissolve them. Being asked, “whether the people of the different provinces were now in a state of freedom?' he said that they thought themselves so; whether the most opulent inhabitants would not prefer freedom under this country to what they now enjoy? he answered that they would prefer it to any other state of freedom; and that, notwithstand
mitted as their predecessors on the subject of the stampact, at length made up their mind to give way. Before the examination of Dr. Franklin, indeed, namely, on the 21st of January, 1766, a motion had, under their auspices, been made in the Commons in a committee of the whole House to the following effect;—“That it is the opinion of the committee, that the House be moved, that leave be given to bring in a bill to repeal an act passed in the last session of parliament, entitled, “An act for granting and applying certain stamp duties, and other duties in the British colonies and plantations in America towards farther defraying the expenses of defending, protecting, and securing the same, and for amending such parts of the several acts of parliament relating to the trade and revenues of the said colonies and plantations, as direct the manner of determining and recovering the penalties and forfeitures therein mentioned." To this resolution the advocates of the obnoxious statute moved an amendment, by which it was proposed to leave out the word “repeal,' and insert 'explain and amend.' But this amendment was rejected by a majority of one hundred and eighteen.
ing their determination to support the measures of the Congress, they wished for a reconciliation with this country He denied i s being an object of the Congress to throw off the regulations of their trade, and acknowledged that the most thinking men in Pennsylvania were of opinion, that a refusal of the present petition would be a bar to all reconcilement.
It was observed, with some severity of animadversion, as a singular circumstance in the present situation of affairs, what appeared upon this examination, that neither the Secretary of State, who received the petition, nor any other minister or person in authority, had, since the arrival of the witness in England, proposed a single question to him, or desired the smallest information relative to the state of affairs in America or the disposition or temper of the people. This circumstance was used to give countenance to the charge so often repeated by the opposition, that a system had been chalked out for the administration, which they were obliged blindly to pursue, and to act in it merely as machines, without being at liberty to form an opinion as to justice, eligibility, or consequence.Annual Register, Vol. XIX., 1776.
On the 24th of February, the above mentioned proceedings were confirmed by the passing a resolution similar to the foregoing one, but with a view, no doubt, of saving the dignity of the nation and of his Majesty's government; this second resolution was accompanied by others, approving of the conduct of such of the colonists as had used their best exertions for the enforcement of the stamp-act in America; indemnifying those 'who, by reason of the tumults and outrages in North America, had not been able to procure stamped paper since the passing of the act for lay. ing certain duties on stamps in the colonies, and had incurred penalties and forfeitures, by writing, ingrossing, or printing on paper, vellum, or parchment, not duly stamped, as required by the said act. A bill, founded on these resolutions, was accordingly brought into the House. This bill, after warm debates, passed both Houses of Parliament, and received the royal assent on the 16th of March, 1766. The ostensible grounds for the adoption of this measure, as expressed by preamble to the act, was the inexpediency of the tax on stamps, and by way of guardedly reserving the main point in question, namely, the right of the British parliament to impose internal taxes on the colonies, the repeal act was accompanied by a declaratory act in which it was asserted, that the parliament had, and of right ought to have, power to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever.' This broad and unqualified claim on the part of the British legislature, was little calculated to satisfy such of the American colonists as had maintained the struggle against the British misistry upon deep and well considered principle. These, no doubt, regarded it with suspicion and dislike, as containing the germ of future encroachments upon their rights and privileges. But it seems to have made little im
On the 24, Feb. what proceedings were confirmed?