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Style in Congressional Debate Speeches 67 Understanding Resolutions 76 bring something new to the table: a new argument, a piece of evidence through compelling content and effective style. A per- suasive being active in a chamber, they think that asking ques- tions as often as.
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- November 10-25 (November 23-December 8), 1917
- Bills and Resolutions -- efycymepodor.tk
- SPEECH OF EDMUND BURKE, ESQ.
- Bills and Resolutions
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Sep 10, week of. Medical Cannabis Research Act of To amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to authorize additional visas for well-educated aliens to live and work in the United States, To amend the Internal Revenue Code of to encourage retirement and family savings, and for other purposes. Save American Workers Act of Comprehensive Care for Seniors Act of To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency.
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Protect and Grow American Jobs Act tracked by users. Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny Act of tracked by users. Please consider your options: Suggested ways to find a bill Start by using the subject areas listed on this page. Search for bills whose text contains a keyword Since bills often contain legal terminology in place of everyday words, it is often easier to find a bill using one of the other methods above. Subject areas Agriculture and Food narrow topic Armed Forces and National Security narrow topic Arts, Culture, Religion narrow topic Civil Rights and Liberties, Minority Issues narrow topic Crime and Law Enforcement narrow topic Economics and Public Finance narrow topic Emergency Management narrow topic Environmental Protection narrow topic At this proposition, I must pause a moment.
The thing seems a great deal too big for my ideas of jurisprudence. It looks to me to be narrow and pedantic, to apply the ordinary ideas of criminal justice to this great public contest. I do not know the method of drawing up an indictment against an whole people. I cannot insult and ridicule the feelings of Millions of my fellow creatures, as Sir Edward Coke insulted one excellent individual Sir Walter Rawleigh at the bar.
I am not ripe to pass sentence on the gravest public bodies, entrusted with magistracies of great au thority and dignity, and charged with the safety of their fellow citizens, upon the very same title that I am. I really think, that for wise men, this is not judicious; for sober men, not decent; for minds tinctured with humanity, not mild and merciful.
Perhaps, Sir, I am mistaken in my idea of an Empire, as dis tinguished from a single State or Kingdom. But my idea of it is this; that an Empire is the aggregate of many States, under one common head; whether this head be a monarch, or a presiding re public. It does, in such constitutions, frequently happen and nothing but the dismal, cold, dead uniformity of servitude can prevent its happening that the subordinate parts have many local privileges and immunities.
Between these privileges, and the su preme common authority, the line may be extremely nice. Of course disputes, often too, very bitter disputes, and much ill blood, will arise. But though every privilege is an exemption in the case from the ordinary exercise of the supreme authority, it is no denial of it. The claim of a privilege seems rather, ex vi termini, to imply a superior power.
For to talk of the privileges of a State or of a person, who has no superior, is hardly any better than speaking nonsense. Now, in such unfortunate quarrels, among the compo nent parts of a great political union of communities, I can scarce ly conceive any thing more compleatly imprudent, than for the Head of the Empire to insist, that, if any privilege is pleaded against his will, or his acts, that his whole authority is denied; instantly to proclaim rebellion, to beat to arms, and to put the offending provinces under the ban.
Will not this, Sir, very soon teach the provinces to make no distinctions on their part? It may not always be quite convenient to impress dependent communities with such an idea. We are, indeed, in all disputes with the Colonies, by the neces sity of things, the judge. It is true, Sir. But, I confess, that the character of judge in my own cause, is a thing that frightens me.
Instead of filling me with pride, I am exceedingly humbled by it. I cannot proceed with a stern, assured, judicial confidence, until I find myself in something more like a judicial character. I must have these hesitations as long as I am compelled to recol lect, that, in my little reading upon such contests as these, the sense of mankind has, at least, as often decided against the supe rior as the subordinate power.
Sir, let me add too, that the opinion of my having some abstract right in my favour, would not put me much at my ease in passing sentence; unless I could be sure, that there were no rights which, in their exercise under certain cir cumstances, were not the most odious of all wrongs, and the most vexatious of all injustice. Sir, these considerations have great weight with me, when I find things so circumstanced; that I see the same party, at once a civil litigant against me in a point of right; and a culprit before me, while I sit as a criminal judge, on acts of his, whose moral quality is to be decided upon the merits of that very litigation.
Men are every now and then put, by the complexity of human affairs, into strange situations; but Justice is the same, let the Judge be in what situation he will.
November 10-25 (November 23-December 8), 1917
There is, Sir, also a circumstance which convinces me, that this mode of criminal proceeding is not at least in the present stage of our contest altogether expedient; which is nothing less than the conduct of those very persons who have seemed to adopt that mode, by lately declaring a rebellion in Massachuset's Bay, as they had formerly addressed to have Traitors brought hither under an act of Henry the Eighth, for Trial.
For though rebellion is de clared, it is not proceeded against as such; nor have any steps been taken towards the apprehension or conviction of any individual offender, either on our late or our former address; but modes of public coercion have been adopted, and such as have much more resemblance to a sort of qualified hostility towards an independant power than the punishment of rebellious subjects. In this situation, let us seriously and coolly ponder. What is it we have got by all our menaces, which have been many and fero cious?
What advantage have we derived from the penal laws we have passed, and which, for the time, have been severe and numerous? What advances have we made towards our object, by the sending of a force, which, by land and sea, is no contemptible strength? Has the disorder abated? If then the removal of the causes of this Spirit of American Li berty be, for the greater part, or rather entirely, impracticable; if the ideas of Criminal Process be inapplicable, or, if applicable, are in the highest degree inexpedient, what way yet remains?
No way is open, but the third and last—to comply with the American Spirit as necessary; or, if you please, to submit to it, as a necessary Evil. If we adopt this mode; if we mean to conciliate and concede; let us see of what nature the concession ought to be? To ascer tain the nature of our concession, we must look at their complaint. They complain, that they are taxed in a Parliament, in which they are not represented.
If you mean to satisfy them at all, you must satisfy them with regard to this complaint. If you mean to please any people, you must give them the boon which they ask; not what you may think better for them, but of a kind totally different. Such an act may be a wise regulation, but it is no concession: Sir, I think you must perceive, that I am resolved this day to have nothing at all to do with the question of the right of taxation.
Some gentlemen startle—but it is true: I put it totally out of the question. It is less than nothing in my consideration. But my consideration is narrow, confined, and wholly limited to the Policy of the question. I do not examine, whether the giving away a man's money be a power excepted and reserved out of the general trust of Government; and how far all mankind, in all forms of Polity, are intitled to an exercise of that Right by the Charter of Nature.
Or whether, on the contrary, a Right of Taxation is necessarily involved in the general principle of Legislation, and in separable from the ordinary Supreme Power? These are deep ques tions, where great names militate against each other; where reason is perplexed; and an appeal to authorities only thickens the confu sion. For high and reverend authorities lift up their heads on both sides; and there is no sure sooting in the middle.
This point is the great Serbonian bog, betwixt Damiata and Mount Casius old, where armies whole have sunk. I do not intend to be overwhelmed in that bog, though in such respectable company. The question with me is, not whether you have a right to render your people miserable; but whether it is not your interest to make them happy? It is not, what a lawyer tells me, I may do; but what humanity, reason, and justice, tells me, I ought to do.
Is a politic act the worse for being a generous one? Is no concession proper, but that which is made from your want of right to keep what you grant? Or does it lessen the grace or dignity of relaxing in the exercise of an odious claim, because you have your evidence-room full of Titles, and your magazines stuffed with arms to enforce them? What signify all those titles, and all those arms? Of what avail are they, when the reason of the thing tells me, that the assertion of my title is the loss of my suit; and that I could do nothing but wound myself by the use of my own weapons?
I am not deter mining a point of law; I am restoring tranquillity; and the general character and situation of a people must determine what sort of go vernment is fitted for them. That point nothing else can or ought to determine. My idea therefore, without considering whether we yield as matter of right, or grant as matter of favour, is to admit the people of our Colonies into an interest in the constitution; and, by recording that admission in the Journals of Parliament, to give them as strong an assurance as the nature of the thing will admit, that we mean for ever to adhere to that solemn declaration of systematic indulgence.
Some years ago, the repeal of a revenue act, upon its understood principle, might have served to shew, that we intended an un conditional abatement of the exercise of a Taxing Power. Such a measure was then sufficient to remove all suspicion; and to give perfect content.
But unfortunate events, since that time, may make something further necessary; and not more necessary for the sa tisfaction of the Colonies, than for the dignity and consistency of our own future proceedings. I have taken a very incorrect measure of the disposition of the House, if this proposal in itself would be received with dislike. I think, Sir, we have few American Financiers. But our misfor tune is, we are too actute; we are too exquisite in our conjectures of the future, for men oppressed with such great and present evils.
The more moderate among the opposers of Parliamentary Conces sion freely confess, that they hope no good from Taxation; but they apprehend the Colonists have further views; and if this point were conceded, they would instantly attack the Trade-laws. These Gentlemen are convinced, that this was the intention from the beginning; and the quarrel of the Americans with Taxation was no more than a cloke and cover to this design. Such is the merit of the trade laws in this posture of the debate. But when strong internal circumstances are urged against the taxes; when the scheme is dissected; when experience and the nature of things are brought to prove, and do prove, the utter impossibility of obtaining an effective revenue from the Colonies; when these things are pressed, or rather press themselves, so as to drive the advocates of Colony taxes to a clear admission of the futility of the scheme; then, Sir, the sleeping trade laws revive from their trance; and this useless taxation is to be kept sacred, not for its own sake, but as a counterguard and security of the laws of trade.
Then, Sir, you keep up revenue laws which are mischievous, in order to preserve trade laws that are useless.
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Such is the wisdom of our plan in both its members. They are separately given up as of no value; and yet one is always to be defended for the sake of the other. But I cannot agree with the Noble Lord, nor with the pamphlet from whence he seems to have borrowed these ideas, concerning the inutility of the trade laws.
For without idolizing them, I am sure they are still, in many ways, of great use to us; and in former times, they have been of the greatest. They do confine, and they do greatly narrow, the market for the Ame ricans. One fact is clear and indisputable. The public and avowed origin of this quarrel, was on taxation.
This quarrel has indeed brought on new disputes on new questions; but certainly the least bitter, and the fewest of all, on the trade laws. To judge which of the two be the real radical cause of quarrel, we have to see whe ther the commercial dispute did, in order of time, precede the dis pute on taxation? There is not a shadow of evidence for it. Next, to enable us to judge whether at this moment a dislike to the Trade Laws be the real cause of quarrel, it is absolutely necessary to put the taxes out of the question by a repeal. See how the Americans act in this position, and then you will be able to dis cern correctly what is the true object of the controversy, or whe ther any controversy at all will remain?
Unless you consent to remove this cause of difference, it is impossible, with decency, to assert that the dispute is not upon what it is avowed to be. And I would, Sir, recommend to your serious consideration, whe ther it be prudent to form a rule for punishing people, not on their own acts, but on your conjectures? Surely it is preposterous at the very best. It is not justifying your anger, by their mis conduct; but it is converting your ill-will into their delinquency. But the Colonies will go further. What will quiet these panick fears which we entertain of the hostile effect of a con ciliatory conduct?
Is it true, that no case can exist, in which it is proper for the sovereign to accede to the desires of his discontented subjects? Is there any thing peculiar in this case, to make a rule for itself? Is all authority of course lost, when it is not pushed to the extreme? Is it a certain maxim, that, the fewer causes of dis satisfaction are left by government, the more the subject will be inclined to resist and rebel? In forming a plan for this purpose, I endeavoured to put myself in that frame of mind, which was the most natural, and the most reasonable; and which was certainly the most probable means of securing me from all error.
I set out with a perfect distrust of my own abilities; a total renunciation of every speculation of my own; and with a profound reverence for the wisdom of our ances tors, who have left us the inheritance of so happy a constitution, and so flourishing an empire, and what is a thousand times more valuable, the treasury of the maxims and principles which formed the one, and obtained the other. During the reigns of the kings of Spain of the Austrian family, whenever they were at a loss in the Spanish councils, it was common for their statesmen to say, that they ought to consult the genius of Philip the Second.
The genius of Philip the Second might mislead them; and the issue of their affairs shewed, that they had not chosen the most perfect standard. But, Sir, I am sure that I shall not be misled, when, in a case of constitutional difficulty, I consult the genius of the English constitution. Con sulting at that oracle it was with all due humility and piety I found four capital examples in a similar case before me: Ireland, before the English conquest, though never governed by a despotick power, had no Parliament.
How far the English Parliament itself was at that time modelled, according to the pre sent form, is disputed among antiquarians. But we have all the reason in the world to be assured, that a form of Parliament, such as England then enjoyed, she instantly communicated to Ireland; and we are equally sure that almost every successive improvement in constitutional liberty, as fast as it was made here, was transmitted thither.
The feudal Baronage, and the feudal Knighthood, the roots of our primitive constitution, were early transplanted into that soil; and grew and flourished there. Magna Charta, if it did not give us originally the House of Commons, gave us at least an House of Commons of weight and consequence. Ireland was made immediately a partaker. This benefit of English laws and liberties, I confess, was not at first ex tended to all Ireland. English authority and English liberties, had exactly the same boundaries. Your standard could never be advanced an inch before your privileges. Sir John Davis shews beyond a doubt, that the refusal of a general communication of these rights, was the true cause why Ireland was five hundred years in subduing; and after the vain projects of a Military Government, attempted in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, it was soon discovered, that nothing could make that country English, in civility and allegiance, but your laws and your forms of legislature.
It was not English arms, but the English constitution, that conquered Ireland. From that time, Ireland has ever had a general Parliament, as she had before a partial Parlia ment. You changed the people; you altered the religion; but you never touched the form or the vital substance of free government in that kingdom. You deposed kings; you restored them; you al tered the succession to theirs, as well as to your own crown; but you never altered their constitution; the principle of which was respected by usurpation; restored with the restoration of Monarchy, and established, I trust, for ever, by the glorious Revolution.
This has made Ireland the great and flourishing kingdom that it is; and from a disgrace and a burthen intolerable to this nation, has rendered her a principal part of our strength and ornament. This country cannot be said to have ever formally taxed her. The irre gular things done in the confusion of mighty troubles, and on the hinge of great revolutions, even if all were done that is said to have been done, form no example. If they have any effect in ar gument, they make an exception to prove the rule. None of your own liberties could stand a moment, if the casual deviations from them, at such times, were suffered to be used as proofs of their nul lity.
By the lucrative amount of such casual breaches in the con stitution, judge what the stated and fixed rule of supply has been in that Kingdom. Your Irish pensioners would starve, if they had no other fund to live on than taxes granted by English authority. Turn your eyes to those popular grants from whence all your great supplies are come; and learn to respect that only source of publick wealth in the British empire. This country was said to be re duced by Henry the Third. It was said more truly to be so by Edward the First. But though then conquered, it was not looked upon as any part of the realm of England.
Its old constitution, whatever that might have been, was destroyed; and no good one was substituted in its place. The care of that tract was put into the hands of Lords Marchers—a form of Government of a very singular kind; a strange heterogeneous monster, something between Hostility and Government; perhaps it has a sort of resemblance, according to the modes of those times, to that of commander in chief at present, to whom all civil power is granted as secondary. The manners of the Welsh nation, followed the Genius of the Go vernment: The people were ferocious, restive, savage, and unculti vated; sometimes composed, never pacified.
Wales within itself, was in perpetual disorder; and it kept the frontier of England in perpetual alarm. Benefits from it to the state, there were none. Wales was only known to England, by incursion and invasion. Sir, during that state of things, Parliament was not idle. They attempted to subdue the fierce spirit of the Welsh by all sorts of rigorous laws. They prohibited by statute the sending all sorts of arms into Wales, as you prohibit by proclamation with some thing more of doubt on the legality the sending arms to America. They disarmed the Welsh by statute, as you attempted but still with more question on the legality to disarm New England by an instruction.
They made an act to drag offenders from Wales into England for trial, as you have done but with more hard ship with regard to America. By another act, where one of the parties was an Englishman, they ordained, that his trial should be always by English. They made acts to restrain trade, as you do; and they prevented the Welsh from the use of fairs and markets, as you do the Americans from fisheries and foreign ports. In short, when the statute-book was not quite so much swelled as it is now, you find no less than fifteen acts of penal regulation on the subject of Wales. Here we rub our hands—A fine body of precedents for the au thority of Parliament and the use of it!
The march of the human mind is flow. Sir, it was not, until after Two Hundred years, discovered, thatby an eternal law, Pro vidence had decreed vexation to violence; and poverty to rapine. Your ancestors did however at length open their eyes to the ill hus bandry of injustice. They found that the tyranny of a free people could of all tyrannies the least be endured; and that laws made against an whole nation were not the most effectual methods for securing its obedience. With a preamble stating the entire and perfect rights of the crown of England, it gave to the Welsh all the rights and privileges of English subjects.
A political order was established; the military power gave way to the civil; the marches were turned into counties. But that a na tion should have a right to English liberties, and yet no share at all in the fundamental security of these liberties, the grant of their own property, seemed a thing so incongruous; that Eight years after, that is, in the Thirty-fifth of that reign, a complete and not ill propor tioned representation by counties and boroughs was bestowed upon Wales, by act of Parliament. From that moment, as by a charm, the tumults subsided; obedience was restored; peace, order, and civilization, followed in the train of liberty—When the day-star of the English constitution had arisen in their hearts, all was harmony within and without— Simul alba nautis Stella refulfit, Defluit saxis agitatus humor: The very same year the county palatine of Chester received the same relief from its oppressions, and the same remedy to its dis orders.
The inhabitants, without rights themselves, were the fittest to destroy the rights of others; and from thence Richard II. The people of Chester applied to Parliament in a petition penned as I shall read to you:. To the King our Sovereign Lord, in most humble wise shewn unto your Excellent Majesty, the inhabitants of your Grace's county palatine of Chester; That where the said county palatine of Chester is and hath been always hitherto exempt, excluded and separated out and from your high court of parliament, to have any knights and burgesses within the said court; by reason whereof the said inhabitants have hitherto sustained manifold disherisons, losses and damages, as well in their lands, goods, and bodies, as in the good, civil, and politick governance and mainte nance of the commonwealth of their said country: And for as much as the said inhabitants have always hitherto been bound by the acts and statutes made and ordained by your said highness, and your most noble progenitors, by authority of the said court, as far forth as other coun ties, cities, and boroughs have been, that have had their knights and burgesses within your said court of parliament, and yet have had neither knight ne burgess there for the said county palatine; the said inhabitants, for lack thereof, have been oftentimes touched and grieved with acts and statutes made within the said court, as well derogatory unto the most antient jurisdictions, liberties, and privileges of your said county palatine, as prejudicial unto the common wealth, quietness, rest, and peace of your grace's most bounden subjects inhabiting within the same.
What did Parliament with this audacious address? Treat it as an affront to government? Spurn it as a deroga tion from the rights of legislature? Did they toss it over the table? Did they burn it by the hands of the common hangman? Here is my third example. It was attended with the success of the two former. Sir, this pattern of Chester was followed in the reign of Charles II. This county had long lain out of the pale of free legisla tion.
So scrupulously was the example of Chester followed, that the style of the preamble is nearly the same with that of the Chester act; and without affecting the abstract extent of the authority of Parliament, it recognizes the equity of not suffering any considerable district in which the British subjects may act as a body, to be taxed without their own voice in the grant. Now if the doctrines of policy contained in these preambles, and the force of these examples in the acts of Parliament, avail any thing, what can be said against applying them with regard to America?
Are not the people of America as much Englishmen as the Welsh? Are the Americans not as numerous?
If we may trust the learned and accurate Judge Barrington's account of North Wales, and take that as a standard to measure the rest, there is no comparison. The people cannot amount to above ,; not a tenth part of the number in the Colonies. Is America in rebellion? Wales was hardly ever free from it. Have you attempted to govern America by penal statutes? You made Fifteen for Wales. But your legislative authority is perfect with regard to America; was it less perfect in Wales, Chester, and Durham? But America is virtually represented. But, Sir, your ancestors thought this sort of virtual representation, however ample, to be totally insufficient for the freedom of the inhabitants of territories that are so near, and comparatively so inconsiderable.
How then can I think it suffi cient for those which are infinitely greater, and infinitely more remote? Perhaps I might be inclined to entertain some such thought; but a great flood stops me in my course. Opposuit natura —I cannot remove the eternal barriers of the creation. The thing in that mode, I do not know to be possible. As I meddle with no theory, I do not absolutely assert the impracticability of such a representation.
But I do not see my way to it; and those who have been more confident, have not been more successful. However, the arm of public benevolence is not shortened; and there are often several means to the same end. What nature has disjoined in one way, wisdom may unite in another. When we cannot give the benefit as we would wish, let us not refuse it altogether. If we cannot give the principal, let us find a substitute.
Fortunately I am not obliged for the ways and means of this substitute to tax my own unproductive invention. I am not even obliged to go to the rich treasury of the fertile framers of imaginary commonwealths; not to the Republick of Plato, not to the Utopia of More; not to the Oceana of Harrington. It is before me—It is at my feet, and the rude swain treads daily on it with his clouted shoon. I only wish you to recognize, for the theory, the ancient constitutional policy of this kingdom with regard to representation, as that policy has been declared in acts of parliament; and, as to the practice, to return to that mode which an uniform experience has marked out to you, as best; and in which you walked with security, advantage, and honour, until the year My resolutions therefore mean to establish the equity and justice of a taxation of America, by grant, and not by imposition.
To mark the legal competency of the Colony assemblies for the support of their government in peace, and for public aids in time of war. To acknowledge that this legal competency has had a dutiful and beneficial exercise; and that experience has shewn the benefit of their grants, and the futility of parliamentary taxation as a method of supply. There are three more resolutions corollary to these. If you admit the first set, you can hardly reject the others.
But if you admit the first, I shall be far from sollicitous whether you accept or refuse the last. I think these six massive pillars will be of strength sufficient to support the temple of British concord. I have no more doubt than I entertain of my existence, that, if you admitted these, you would command an immediate peace; and with but tolerable fu ture management, a lasting obedience in America. I am not ar rogant in this confident assurance. The propositions are all mere matters of fact; and if they are such facts as draw irresistible con clusions even in the stating, this is the power of truth, and not any management of mine.
Sir, I shall open the whole plan to you together, with such ob servations on the motions as may tend to illustrate them where they may want explanation. The first is a resolution— " That the Colo nies and Plantations of Great Britain in North America, consisting of Fourteen separate Governments, and containing Two Millions and upwards of free inhabitants, have not had the liberty and privilege of electing and sending any Knights and Burgesses, or others to repre sent them in the high Court of Parliament. The second is like unto the first— " That the said Colonies and Plantations have been liable to, and bounden by, several subsidies, payments, rates, and taxes, given and granted by Parliament, though the said Colonies and Plantations have not their Knights and Bur gesses, in the said high Court of Parliament, of their own election, to represent the condition of their country; by lack whereof they have been oftentimes touched and grieved by subsidies given, granted, and assented to, in the said court, in a manner prejudicial to the com mon wealth, quietness, rest, and peace, of the subjects inhabiting within the same.
Does it arrogate too much to the supreme legislature? Does it lean too much to the claims of the people? If it runs into any of these errors, the fault is not mine. It is the language of your own an cient acts of Parliament.
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Non meus hic sermo, sed quae praecepit Ofellus, ruflicus, abnormis sapiens. It is the genuine produce of the ancient rustick, manly, home-bred sense of this country—I did not dare to rub off a particle of the venerable rust that ra ther adorns and preserves, than destroys the metal. It would be a profanation to touch with a tool the stones which construct the sacred altar of peace. I would not violate with modern polish the ingenuous and noble roughness of these truly constitutional mate rials. Above all things, I was resolved not to be guilty of tampering, the odious vice of restless and unstable minds.
I put my foot in the tracks of our forefathers; where I can neither wander nor stumble. Determining to fix articles of peace, I was resolved not to be wise beyond what was written; I was resolved to use nothing else than the form of sound words; to let others abound in their own sense; and carefully to abstain from all expressions of my own. What the law has said, I say. In all things else I am silent.
I have no organ but for her words. This, if it be not ingenious, I am sure is safe. There are indeed words expressive of grievance in this second re solution, which those who are resolved always to be in the right, will deny to contain matter of fact, as applied to the present case; although Parliament thought them true, with regard to the counties of Chester and Durham.
They will deny that the Americans were ever "touched and grieved" with the taxes. If they consider nothing in taxes but their weight as pecuniary impositions, there might be some pretence for this denial. But men may be sorely touched and deeply grieved in their privileges, as well as in their purses. Men may lose little in property by the act which takes away all their freedom. When a man is robbed of a trifle on the highway, it is not the Two-pence lost that constitutes the capital outrage.
This is not confined to privileges. Even ancient indulgences withdrawn, without offence on the part of those who enjoyed such favours, ope rate as grievances. If so, why were they almost all, either wholly repealed or exceedingly re duced? Else why were the duties first reduced to one Third in , and afterwards to a Third of that Third in the year ?
Were they not touched and grieved by the Stamp Act? I shall say they were, until that tax is revived. Were they not touched and grieved by the duties of , which were likewise repealed, and which, Lord Hillsborough tells you for the ministry were laid contrary to the true principle of commerce?
Is not the assurance given by that noble person to the Colonies of a resolution to lay no more taxes on them, an admission that taxes would touch and grieve them? Is not the resolution of the noble Lord in the blue ribband, now standing on your Journals, the strongest of all proofs that parliamentary subsidies really touched and grieved them?
Else, why all these changes, modifications, re peals, assurances, and resolutions? The next proposition is— " That, from the distance of the said Colonies, and from other circumstances, no method hath hitherto been devised for procuring are presentation in Parliament for the said Colo nies. I go no further on the pa per; though in my private judgement, an useful representation is impossible; I am sure it is not desired by them; nor ought it perhaps by us; but I abstain from opinions.
The fourth resolution is— " That each of the said Colonies hath within itself a body, chosen in part, or in the whole, by the freemen, freebolders, or other free inhabitants thereof, commonly called the General Assembly, or General Court, with powers legalty to raise, levy, and assess, according to the several usage of such Colonies, duties and taxes towards defraying all sorts of public services.
This competence in the Colony assemblies is certain. Those who have been pleased paradoxically to deny this right, holding that none but the British parliament can grant to the Crown, are wished to look to what is done, not only in the Colonies, but in Ireland, in one uniform unbroken tenour every session. Sir, I am surprized, that this doctrine should come from some of the law servants of the Crown. I say, that if the Crown could be responsible, his Majesty—but certainly the ministers, and even these law officers themselves, through whose hands the acts pass, bien nially in Ireland, or annually in the Colonies, are in an habitual course of committing impeachable offences.
However, they are safe; as no one impeaches them; and there is no ground of charge against them, except in their own unfounded theories. The fifth resolution is also a resolution of fact— " That the said General Assemblies, General Courts, or other bodies legally qualified as aforesaid, have at sundry times freely granted several large subsidies and public aids for his Majesty's service, according to their abilities, when required thereto by letter from one of his Majesty's principal Secretaries of State; and that their right to grant the same, and their chearfulness and sufficiency in the said grants, have been at sundry times acknowledged by Parliament.
These expences were immense for such Colonies. They were above , l. It will not be necessary to go through all the testimonies which your own records have given to the truth of my resolutions. I will only refer you to the places in the Journals: Sir, here is the repeated acknowledgement of Parliament, that the Colonies not only gave, but gave to satiety. This nation has formally acknowledged two things; first, that the Colonies had gone beyond their abilities, Parliament having thought it necessary to reimburse them; secondly, that they had acted legally and laud ably in their grants of money, and their maintenance of troops, since the compensation is expressly given as reward and encouragement.
My resolution therefore does nothing more than collect into one proposition, what is scattered through your Journals. I give you nothing but your own; and you cannot refuse in the gross, what you have so often acknowledged in detail. The admission of this, which will be so honourable to them and to you, will, in deed, be mortal to all the miserable stories, by which the passions of the misguided people have been engaged in an unhappy system.
The people heard, indeed, from the beginning of these disputes, one thing continually dinned in their ears, that reason and justice de manded, that the Americans, who paid no Taxes, should be com pelled to contribute. How did that fact of their paying nothing, stand, when the Taxing System began? Grenville be gan to form his system of American Revenue, he stated in this House, that the Colonies were then in debt two millions six hun dred thousand pounds sterling money; and was of opinion they would discharge that debt in four years.
On this state, those untaxed people were actually subject to the payment of taxes to the amount of six hundred and fifty thousand a year. In fact, however, Mr. The funds given for sinking the debt did not prove quite so ample as both the Colonies and he expected. The calculation was too sanguine: How ever, the Taxes after the war, continued too great to bear any ad dition, with prudence or propriety; and when the burthens im posed in consequence of former requisitions were discharged, our tone became too high to resort again to requisition. No Colony, since that time, ever has had any requisition whatsoever made to it.
We see the sense of the Crown, and the sense of Parliament, on the productive nature of a Revenue by Grant. Now search the same Journals for the produce of the Revenue by Imposition —Where is it? It is the melancholy burthen and blot of every page. I think then I am, from those Journals, justified in the sixth and last resolution which is— " That it hath been found by experience, that the manner of granting the said supplies and aids, by the said General Assemblies, hath been more agreeable to the said Colonies, and more beneficial, and conducive to the public service, than the mode of giving and granting aids in Parliament, to be raised and paid in the said Colonies.
The conclusion is irresistible. You can not say, that you were driven by any necessity, to an exercise of the utmost Rights of Legislature. You cannot assert, that you took on yourselves the task of imposing Colony Taxes, from the want of another legal body, that is competent to the purpose of supply ing the Exigencies of the State without wounding the prejudices of the people. Neither is it true that the body so qualified, and having that competence, had neglected the duty.
The question now, on all this accumulated matter, is;—whether you will chuse to abide by a profitable experience, or a mischievous theory; whether you chuse to build on imagination or fact; whe ther you prefer enjoyment or hope; satisfaction in your subjects, or discontent? If these propositions are accepted, every thing which has been made to enforce a contrary system, must, I take it for granted, fall along with it. On that ground, I have drawn the following resolution, which, when it comes to be moved, will naturally be divided in a proper manner: I wish, Sir, to repeal the Boston Port Bill, because independently of the dangerous precedent of suspending the rights of the subject during the King's pleasure it was passed, as I apprehend, with less re gularity, and on more partial principles, than it ought.
The corpo ration of Boston was not heard, before it was condemned. Other towns, full as guilty as she was, have not had their ports blocked up. The same ideas of prudence, which in duced you not to extend equal punishment to equal guilt, even when you were punishing, induce me, who mean not to chastise, but to recon cile, to be satisfied with the punishment already partially inflicted. Ideas of prudence, and accommodation to circumstances, pre vent you from taking away the Charters of Connecticut and Rhode-island, as you have taken away that of Massachuset's Co lony, though the Crown has far less power in the two former pro vinces than it enjoyed in the latter; and though the abuses have been full as great, and as flagrant, in the exempted as in the punished.
The same reasons of prudence and accommodation have weight with me in restoring the Charter of Massachuset's Bay. Such, among others, is the power in the Go vernor to change the sheriff at his pleasure; and to make a new returning officer for every special cause. It is shameful to behold such a regulation standing among English Laws. The act for bringing persons accused of committing murder under the orders of Government to England for Trial, is but temporary.
That act has calculated the probable duration of our quarrel with the Colonies; and is accommodated to that supposed duration. I would hasten the happy moment of reconciliation; and therefore must, on my principle, get rid of that most justly obnoxious act. The act of Henry the Eighth, for the Trial of Treasons, I do not mean to take away, but to confine it to its proper bounds and original intention; to make it expressly for Trial of Treasons and the greatest Treasons may be committed in places where the juris diction of the Crown does not extend.
Having guarded the privileges of Local Legislature, I would next secure to the Colonies a fair and unbiassed Judicature; for which purpose, Sir, I propose the following resolution: These Courts I do not wish to take away; they are in them selves proper establishments. This Court is one of the capital securities of the Act of Navigation. The extent of its jurisdiction, indeed, has been encreased; but this is altogether as proper, and is, indeed, on many accounts, more eligible, where new powers were wanted, than a Court absolutely new. But Courts incommo diously situated, in effect, deny justice; and a Court, partaking in the fruits of its own condemnation, is a robber.
These are the three consequential propositions. I have thought of two or three more; but they come rather too near detail, and to the province of executive Government, which I wish Parliament always to superintend, never to assume. If the first six are granted, congruity will carry the latter three. If not, the things that remain unrepealed, will be, I hope, rather unseemly incumbrances on the building, than very materially detrimental to its strength and stability.
SPEECH OF EDMUND BURKE, ESQ.
Here, Sir, I should close; but that I plainly perceive some ob jections remain, which I ought, if possible, to remove. The first will be, that, in resorting to the doctrine of our ancestors, as con tained in the preamble to the Chester act, I prove too much; that the grievance from a want of representation, stated in that preamble goes to the whole of Legislation as well as to Taxation.
And that the Colonies grounding themselves upon that doctrine, will apply it to all parts of Legislative Authority. I have chosen the words of an act of Parliament, which Mr. Grenville, surely a tolerably zealous and very judicious advocate for the sovereignty of Parliament, formerly moved to have read at your table, in confirmation of his tenets. It is true that Lord Chatham considered these preambles as de claring strongly in favour of his opinions.
He was a no less pow erful advocate for the privileges of the Americans. Ought I not from hence to presume, that these preambles are as favourable as possible to both, when properly understood; favourable both to the rights of Parliament, and to the privilege of the dependencies of this crown? But, Sir, the object of grievance in my resolution, I have not taken from the Chester, but from the Durham act, which confines the hardship of want of representation, to the case of subsidies; and which therefore falls in exactly with the case of the Colonies.
But whether the unrepresented counties were de jure, or de facto, bound, the preambles do not accurately distinguish; nor indeed was it necessary; for, whether de jure, or de facto, the Le gislature thought the exercise of the power of taxing, as of right, or as of fact without right, equally a grievance and equally oppressive. I do not know, that the Colonies have, in any general way, or in any cool hour, gone much beyond the demand of immunity in relation to taxes.
It is not fair to judge of the temper or dispo sitions of any man, or any set of men, when they are composed and at rest, from their conduct, or their expressions, in a state of disturbance and irritation. It is besides a very great mistake to imagine, that mankind follow up practically, any speculative principle either of government, or of freedom, as far as it will go in ar gument and logical illation. We Englishmen, stop very short of the principles upon which we support any given part of our con stitution; or even the whole of it together.
I could easily, if I had not already tired you, give you very striking and convincing in stances of it. This is nothing but what is natural and proper. All government, indeed every human benefit and enjoyment, every virtue, and every prudent act, is founded on compromise and barter. As we must give away some natural liberty, to enjoy civil advantages; so we must sacrifice some civil liberties, for the advantages to be derived from the communion and fellowship of a great empire.
But in all fair dealings the thing bought, must bear some proportion to the purchase paid. None will barter away the immediate jewel of his soul. Though a great house is apt to make slaves haughty, yet it is purchasing a part of the artificial importance of a great empire too dear, to pay for it all essential rights, and all the intrinsic dignity of human nature.
None of us who would not risque his life, rather than fall under a government purely arbitrary. But, although there are some amongst us who think our constitution wants many im provements, to make it a complete system of liberty, perhaps none who are of that opinion, would think it right to aim at such improvement, by disturbing his country, and risquing every thing that is dear to him.
In every arduous enterprize, we con sider what we are to lose, as well as what we are to gain; and the more and better stake of liberty every people possess, the less they will hazard in a vain attempt to make it more. These are the cords of man. Man acts from adequate motives relative to his in terest; and not on metaphysical speculations. Aristotle, the great master of reasoning, cautions us, and with great weight and pro priety, against this species of delusive geometrical accuracy in moral arguments, as the most fallacious of all sophistry. The Americans will have no interest contrary to the grandeur and glory of England, when they are not oppressed by the weight of it; and they will rather be inclined to respect the acts of a superintending legislature; when they see them the acts of that power, which is itself the security, not the rival, of their secon dary importance.
In this assurance, my mind most perfectly ac quiesces; and I confess, I feel not the least alarm, from the dis contents which are to arise, from putting people at their ease; nor do I apprehend the destruction of this empire, from giving, by an act of free grace and indulgence, to two millions of my fellow citizens, some share of those rights, upon which I have always been taught to value myself. Speaker, I do not know what this unity means: The very idea of subordination of parts, excludes this notion of simple and undivided unity.
England is the head; but she is not the head and the members too. Ireland has ever had from the beginning a separate, but not an independent, le gislature; which, far from distracting, promoted the union of the whole. I do not see that the same princi ples might not be carried into twenty Islands, and with the same good effect. This is my model with regard to America, as far as the internal circumstances of the two countries are the same.
I know no other unity of this empire, than I can draw from its example during these periods, when it seemed to my poor un derstanding more united than it is now, or than it is likely to be by the present methods. But since I speak of these methods, I recollect, Mr. I must be deeply concerned, whenever it is my misfortune to continue a dif ference with the majority of this house.
But as the reasons for that difference are my apology for thus troubling you, suffer me to state them in a very few words. I shall compress them into as small a body as I possibly can, having already debated that matter at large, when the question was before the committee. First, then, I cannot admit that proposition of a ransom by auction;—because it is a meer project.
It is a thing new; un heard of; supported by no experience; justified by no analogy; without example of our ancestors, or root in the constitution. It is neither regular parliamentary taxation, nor Colony grant. Secondly, it is an experiment which must be fatal in the end to our constitution. For what is it but a scheme for taxing the Colo nies in the antichamber of the Noble Lord and his successors? To settle the quotas and proportions in this house, is clearly impossible.
You, Sir, may flatter yourself, you shall sit a state auctioneer with your hammer in our hand, and knock down to each Colony as it bids. But to settle on the plan laid down by the Noble Lord the true proportional payment for four or five and twenty govern ments, according to the absolute and the relative wealth of each, and according to the British proportion of wealth and burthen, is a wild and chimerical notion.
This new taxation must therefore come in by the back-door of the constitution. Each quota must be brought to this House ready formed; you can neither add nor alter. You must register it. You can do nothing further. For on what grounds can you deliberate either before or after the pro position? You cannot hear the counsel for all these Provinces, quarrelling each on its own quantity of payment, and its proportion to others. If you should attempt it, the Committee of Provincial Ways and Means, or by whatever other name it will delight to be called, must swallow up all the time of Parliament.
Thirdly, it does not give satisfaction to the complaint of the Colonies. They complain, that they are taxed without their con sent; you answer, that you will fix the sum at which they shall be taxed.
Bills and Resolutions
That is, you give them the very grievance for the re medy. You tell them indeed, that you will leave the mode to themselves. I really beg pardon: For, suppose the Colonies were to lay the duties which furnished their Contingent, upon the importation of your manufactures; you know you would never suffer such a tax to be laid. You know too, that you would not suffer many other modes of taxation. The whole is delusion from one end to the other. Fourthly, this method of ransom by auction, unless it be uni versally accepted, will plunge you into great and inextricable diffi culties.
In what year of our Lord are the proportions of payments to be settled? To say nothing of the impossibility that Colony agents should have general powers of taxing the Colonies at their discretion; consider, I implore you, that the communication by special messages, and orders between these agents and their con stituents on each variation of the case, when the parties come to contend together, and to dispute on their relative proportions, will be a matter of delay, perplexity, and confusion, that never can have an end.
If all the Colonies do not appear at the outcry, what is the con dition of those assemblies, who offer, by themselves or their agents, to tax themselves up to your ideas of their proportion? The re fractory Colonies, who refuse all composition, will remain taxed only to your old impositions; which, however grievous in principle, are trifling as to production. The obedient Colonies in this scheme are heavily taxed; the refractory remain unburthened.
What will you do? Will you lay new and heavier taxes by Parliament on the disobedient? Pray consider in what way you can do it? You are perfectly convinced that in the way of taxing, you can do no thing but at the ports. Now suppose it is Virginia that refuses to appear at your auction, while Maryland and North Carolina bid handsomely for their ransom, and are taxed to your quota? How will you put these Colonies on a par? Will you tax the tobacco of Virginia?