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acts show clearly, that, from the Restoration, the colonies were considered as part of the realm of England, in point of taxation, as well as every thing else :
25th Charles II, chap. 7, expressly relates to the colonies, and lays several specific duties on commodities exported from the plantations.
9th Anne, chap. 10, orders a revenue to be raised in America from the post office.
9th Anne, chap. 27, lays a duty on several goods imported into America.
3d George II, chap 28, lays a duty on all rice exported from Carolina to the south of Cape Finisterre.
8th George II, chap. 19, extends the same to Georgia.
6th George II, chap. 13, lays several duties on rum, sugar, and molasses, imported into North America.
10. All that impartially consider what has been observed, must readily allow that the English parliament has an undoubted right to tax all the English colonies.
But whence then is all this hurry and tumult? Why is America all in an uproar ? If you can yet give yourselves time to think, you will see the plain case is this :
A few years ago you were assaulted by enemies, whom you were not well able to resist. You represented this to your mother country, and desired her assistance. You was largely assisted, and by that means wholly delivered from all your enemies.
After a time, your mother country, desiring to be reimbursed for some part of the large expense she had been at, laid a small tax (which she had always a right to do) on one of her colonies.
But how is it possible that the taking this reasonable and legal step should have set all America in a flame?
I will tell you my opinion freely; and perhaps you will not think it improbable. "I speak the more freely, because I am unbiassed; I have nothing to hope or fear from either side. I gain nothing either by the government or by the Americans, and probably never shall. And I have no prejudice to any man in America : I love you as my brethren and countrymen.
11. My opinion is this: We have a few men in England who are determined enemies to monarchy. Whether they hate his present majesty on any other ground than because he is a king I know not. But they cordially hate his office, and have for some years been undermining it with all diligence, in hopes of erecting their grand idol, their dear commonwealth, upon its ruins. I believe they have let very few into their design; (although many forward it, without knowing any thing of the matter ;) but they are steadily pursuing it, as by various other means, so in particular by inflammatory papers, which are industriously and continually dispersed throughout the town and country; by this method they have already wrought thousands of the people even to the pitch of mad
By the same, only varied according to your circumstances, they have likewise inflamed America. I make no doubt but these very men are the original cause of the present breach between England and her colo
And they are still pouring oil into the flame, studiously incensing each against the other, and opposing, under a variety of pretences, all
measures of accommodation. So that, although the Americans in general love the English, and the English in general love the Americans, (all, I mean, that are not yet cheated and exasperated by these artful men,) yet the rupture is growing wider every day, and none can tell where it will end.
These good men hope it will end in the total defection of North America from England. If this were effected, they trust the English in general would be so irreconcilably disgusted, that they should be able, with or without foreign assistance, entirely to overturn the government ; especially while the main of both the English and Irish forces are at so convenient a distance.
12. But, my brethren, would this be any advantage to you? Can you hope for a more desirable form of government, either in England or America, than that which you now enjoy? After all the vehement cry for liberty, what more liberty can you have? What more religious liberty can you desire, than that which you enjoy already ? May not every one among you worship God according to his own conscience? What civil liberty can you desire, which you are not already possessed of? Do not you sit, without restraint, “every man under his own vine ?" Do you not, every one, high or low, enjoy the fruit of
your labour? This is real, rational liberty, such as is enjoyed by Englishmen alone; and not by any other people in the habitable world. Would the being independent of England make you more free? Far, very far from it. It would hardly be possible for you to steer clear, between anarchy and tyranny. But suppose, after numberless dangers and mischiefs, you should settle into one or more republics, would a republican government give you more liberty, either religious or civil ? By no means. No governments under heaven are so despotic as the republican ; no subjects are governed in so arbitrary a manner as those of a commonwealth. If any one doubt of this, let him look at the subjects of Venice, of Genoa, or even of Holland. Should any man talk or write of the Dutch government, as every cobbler does of the English, he would be laid in irons before he knew where he was. And then, wo be to him! Republics show no mercy.
13. “But if we submit to one tax, more will follow.” Perhaps so, and perhaps not. But if they did ; if you were taxed (which is quite improbable) equal with Ireland or Scotland, still, were you to prevent this, by renouncing connection with England, the remedy would be worse than the disease. For 0 ! what convulsions must poor America feel, before any other government was settled ? Innumerable mischiefs must ensue, before any general form could be established. And the grand mischief would ensue when it was established; when you had received a yoke which you could not shake off.
14. Brethren, open your eyes! Come to yourselves! Be no longer the dupes of designing men! I do not mean any of your countrymen in America ; I doubt whether any of these are in the secret. The designing men, the Ahithophels, are in England ; those who have laid their scheme so deep, and covered it so well, that thousands, who are ripening it, suspect nothing at all of the matter. These well-meaning men, sincerely believing that they are serving their country, exclaim against grievances, which either never existed, or are aggravated above measure; and thereby inflame the people more and more, to the wish of those who are behind the scene. But be not you duped any longer; do not ruin yourselves for them that owe you no good-will, that now employ you only for their own purposes, and in the end will give you no thanks. They love neither England nor America, but play one against the other, in subserviency to their grand design of overturning the English government. Be warned in time ; stand and consider, before it is too late ; before you have entailed confusion and misery on your latest posterity. Have pity upon your mother country! Have pity upon your own! Have pity upon yourselves, upon your children, and upon all that are near and dear to you! Let us not bite and devour one another, lest we be consumed one of another! O let us follow after peace! Let us put away our sins; the real ground of all our calamities; which never will or can be thoroughly removed, till we fear God and honour the king!
A SERMON preached by Dr. Smith, in Philadelphia, has been lately reprinted in England. It has been much admired, but proceeds all along upon wrong suppositions. These are confuted in the preceding tract; yet I would just touch upon them again.
Dr. Smith supposes, 1. They have a right of granting their own money ; that is, of being exempt from taxation by the supreme power. If they “ contend for” this, they contend for neither more nor less than independency. Why then do they talk of their “rightful sovereign ?" They acknowledge no sovereign at all.
That they contend for “ the cause of liberty,” is another mistaken supposition. What liberty do you want, either civil or religious ? You had the very same liberty we have in England. I say you had; but you have now thrown away the substance, and retain only the shadow. You have no liberty, civil or religious, now, but what the congress pleases to allow.
But you justly suppose, “We are by a plain original contract entitled to a community of privileges, with our brethren that reside in England, in every civil and religious respect.” (p. 19.) Most true. And till you appointed your new sovereigns, you enjoyed all those privileges. Indeed you had no vote for members of parliament; neither have I, because I have no freehold in England. Yet the being taxed by the parliament is no infringement either of my civil or religious liberty. And why have you no representatives in parliament ? Did you ever desire them?
But you say again, “ No power on earth has a right to grant our property without our consent.” (p. 22.)
Then you have no sovereign; for every sovereign under heaven has a right to tax his subjects; that is, “ to grant their property, with or without their consent.” Our sovereign (that is, in connection with the lords and commons) has a right to tax me, and all other Englishmen, whether we have votes for parliament-men or no.
Vainly, therefore, do you complain of “unconstitutional exactions, violated rites and mutilated charters.” (p. 24.) Nothing is exacted but according to the original constitution both of England and her colonies. Your rights are no more violated than mine, when we are both taxed by the supreme power; and your charters are no more mutilated by this, than is the charter of the city of London.
Vainly do you complain of being “ made slaves.” Am I or two millions of Englishmen made slaves because we are taxed without our own consent?
may still “ rejoice in the common rights of freemen.” I rejoice in all the rights of my ancestors. And every right which I enjoy is common to Englishmen and Americans.
But shall we “surrender any part of the privileges which we enjoy by the express terms of our colonization;" that is, of our charter? By no means; and none requires it of you. None desires to withhold any thing that is granted by the express terms of your charters. But remember! one of your first charters, that of Massachusetts Bay, says, in express terms, you are exempt from paying taxes to the king for seven years; plainly implying, that after those seven years you are to pay them like other subjects. And remember your last charter, that of Pennsylvania, says, in express terms, you are liable to taxation; yea, it objects against being taxed by the king, unless in connection with the lords and commons.
But “a people will resume,” you say, " the power which they never surrendered, except”—No need of any exception. They never surrendered it at all; they could not surrender it; for they never had it. I pray, did the people, unless you mean the Norman army, give William the Conqueror his power? And to which of his successors did the people of England (six or seven millions) give the sovereign power? This is mere political cant; words without meaning. I know but one instance in all history wherein the people gave the sovereign power to any one : that was to Massaniello of Naples. And I desire any man living to produce another instance in the history of all nations.
Ten times over, in different words, you “profess yourselves to be contending for liberty." But it is a vain, empty profession; unless you mean by that threadbare word, a liberty from obeying your rightful sovereign, and from keeping the fundamental laws of your country. And this undoubtedly it is, which the confederated colonies are now contending for.
SOME OBSERVATIONS ON LIBERTY.
(PRINTED IN THE YEAR 1776.]*
1. It was with great expectation that I read Dr. Price's “ Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty, the Principles of Government, and
(* The date of this tract of Mr. Wesley's shows that it was written at a time of great national excitement. This must be its apology. As a political production, it cannot fail to meet the strong and decided disapprobation of Americans; and we insert it here, with a few others alike foreign from our own views, solely to fulfil our promise of a complete edition of his works. Indeed, Mr. W. himself
, after the success. ful termination of the great struggle in which America had made the last dire appeal to arms for the assertion of her rights, frankly, in effect, confessed his error, and acknowledged that it was by the interposition and providence of God himself, that our independence was achieved.-See his letter “To Dr. Coke, Mr. Asbury, and our Brethren in North America;" dated in September, 1784.)
the Justice and Policy of the War with America ;” and I was not disappointed.* As the author is a person of uncommon abilities, so he has exerted them to the uttermost in the tract before us, which is certainly a masterpiece of its kind. He has said all that can be said upon the subject, and has digested it in the most accurate manner; and candour requires us to believe that he has wrote with an upright intention, with a real design to subserve the interest of mankind in general, as well as the subjects of the British empire. But as the Doctor is a friend to liberty, so he can think and let think.” He does not desire that we should implicitly submit to the judgment, either of him or any other fallible man; and will not therefore be displeased at a few farther observations on the same subject. That subject is,
2. The liberty which is now claimed by the confederate colonies in America. In order to understand this much controverted question, I would set aside every thing not essential to it. I do not therefore now inquire, whether this or that measure be consistent with good policy; or, whether it is likely to be attended with good or ill success : I only want to know, is their claim right or wrong? Is it just or unjust?
3. What is it they claim ? You answer, “ Liberty.” Nay, is it not independency? You reply : “ That is all one; they do claim it, and they have a right to it.”
To independency? That is the very question. To liberty they have an undoubted right; and they enjoy that right. (I mean, they did, till the late unhappy commotions.) They enjoyed their liberty in as full a manner as I do, or any reasonable man can desire.
“What kind of liberty do they enjoy?" Here you puzzle the cause, by talking of physical and moral liberty. What you speak of both is exactly true, and beautifully expressed: but both physical and moral liberty are beside the present question ; and the introducing them can answer no other end than to be wilder and confuse the reader. Therefore, to beg the reader “ to keep these in his view,” is only begging him to look off the point in hand. You desire, him in order to understand this,
(* The favourable light in which Dr. Price's writings brought him before the American public, will appear from the following extract from the ‘Diplomatic Correspondence,' edited by Mr. Jared Sparks :
DR. PRICE TO B. FRANKLIN.
LONDON, January 18th, 1779. Doctor Price returns his best thanks to the honourable Benjamin Franklin, Arthur Lee, and John Adams, for conveying to him the resolution of Congress of the 6th of October last,* by which he is invited to become a member of the United States, and to give his assistance in regulating their finances. It is not possible for hia to express the sense he has of the honour which this resolution does him, and the satisfaction with which he reflects on the favourable opinion of him which has occasioned it. But he knows himself not to be sufficiently qualified for giving such assistance; and he is so connected in this country, and also advancing so fast in the evening of life, that he cannot think of a removal." He requests the favour of the honourable commissioners to transmit this reply to Congress, with assurances that Dr. Price feels the warmest gratitude for the notice taken of him, and that he looks to the American States, as now the hope, and likely soon to become the refuge of mankind.”
* “ In Congress, October 6th, 1779.- Resolved, That the Honourable Benjamin Franklin, Arthur Lee, and John Adams, or any of them, be directed forth with to apply to Dr. Price, and inform him that it is the desire of Congress to consider him a citizen of the United States ; and to receive his assiste ance in regulating their finances. That if he shall think it expedient to remove with his family to America, and afford such assistance, a generous provision shall be made for requiting his services." ")