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sally prevalent in my own day, and to govern two million of men, impatient of servitude, on the principles of freedom. I am not determining a point of law; I am restoring tranquillity; and the general character and 5 situation of a people must determine what sort of government 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 favor, is 10 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
forever to adhere to that solemn declaration of systematic 15 indulgence.
Some years ago, the repeal of a revenue act, upon its understood principle, might have served to show that we intended an unconditional abatement of the exercise of a taxing power.
Such a measure was then sufficient 20 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 satisfaction of the colonies than for the dignity and con
sistency of our own future proceedings. 25 I have taken a very incorrect measure of the disposi
tion of the House, if this proposal in itself would be received with dislike. I think, Sir, we have few American financiers. But our misfortune is, we are too acute;
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 concession freely confess that they hope no good from taxation ; but they apprehend the colonists have 5 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 cloak and cover to this design. 10 Such has been the language, even of a gentlemanof real moderation and of a natural temper well adjusted to fair and equal government. I am, however, Sir, not a little surprised at this kind of discourse whenever I hear it ; and I am the more surprised on account of the argu- 15 ments which I constantly find in company with it, and which are often urged from the same mouths and on the same day.
For instance, when we allege that it is against reason to tax a people under so many restraints in trade as the 20 Americans, the noble lord in the blue ribbon 3 shall tell you that the restraints on trade are futile and useless, of no advantage to us, and of no burden to those on whom they are imposed ; that the trade to America is not secured by the Acts of Navigation, but by the natural 25 and irresistible advantage of a commercial preference. Such is the merit of the trade laws in this posture 1 Careful, detailed.
George Rice. 3 Lord North.
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 5 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 10 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.
Such is the wisdom of our plan in both its members. 15 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 with20 out 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 Americans. But my perfect
conviction of this does not help me in the least to dis25 cern how the revenue laws form any security whatsoever
to the commercial regulations; or that these commercial regulations are the true ground of the quarrel; or that the giving way in any one instance of authority is to lose all that may remain unconceded,
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 th two be the 5 real, radical cause of quarrel, we have to see whether the commercial dispute did, in order of time, precede the dispute 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 10 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 discern correctly what is the true object of the controversy, or whether any controversy at all will remain. 15 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, whether it be prudent to form a rule for punishing people, not on their 20 own acts, but on your conjectures. Surely it is preposterous at the very best. It is not justifying your anger by their misconduct, but it is converting your ill-will into their delinquency.
But the colonies will go further. Alas ! alas ! when 25 will this speculating against fact and reason end ? What will quiet these panic fears which we entertain of the hostile effect of a conciliatory 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 anything 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 5
fewer causes of dissatisfaction are left by government, the more the subject will be inclined to resist and rebel ?
All these objections being in fact no more than suspicions, conjectures, divinations," formed in defiance of
fact and experience, they did not, Sir, discourage me 10 from entertaining the idea of a conciliatory concession, founded on the principles which I have just stated.
In forming a plan for this purpose, I endeavored to put myself in that frame of mind which was the most
natural and the most reasonable, and which was certainly 15 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 an
cestors, who have left us the inheritance of so happy a 20 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 25 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; 1 Sound.