A Political and Civil History of the United States of America, from the Year 1763 to the Close of the Administration of President Washington, in March, 1797: Including a Summary View of the Political and Civil State of the North American Colonies, Prior to That Period - Vol. 1

By Timothy Pitkin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER III.

Colonists consider themselves entitled to the rights of Englishmen--Claim the right of representation--Disputes with the crown on this subject--Opinions of eminent lawyers on this question--Declaration of rights by the assembly of New York in 1691--Declaration of the colonies at various times on the right of taxation--Various acts of parliament restricting the trade and manufactures of the colonies--The origin and causes of these acts--Their effects in the colonies and opinions concerning them--Mode of enforcing them--Board of trade and plantations established-- Objects and power of this board--Rice included among the enumerated commodities in a clandestine manner--Acts of parliament concerning hats and hatters-- Manufacture of iron and steel prohibited--Slitting mills, plating forges and furnaces, in the colonies declared common nuisances--Governors ordered to destroy them-- Principles and opinions of English writers concerning the trade and manufactures of the colonies.

THE colonists, from their first settlement considered themselves entitled to the rights of Englishmen, as secured by magna charta, and confirmed by the bill of rights.

The most important of these rights, were those of representation and taxation. To have a share in making the laws by which they were to be governed, as well as in the imposition of taxes they were to pay, they always claimed as their birthright.

Under the charter and proprietary governments, the colonists were secured in the right of representation, by solemn compacts with the crown; but in the royal governments, this right was not conceded, but depended, as claimed by the crown, on royal authority alone.

This important question was agitated at an early period, as we have before stated, in the province of New York. About the time of the revolution in England, it was a subject of debate in that province, whether the people had a right to be represented in the assembly, or whether it was a privilege to be enjoyed through the favor of the crown.* This question was settled in favor of the right, on the part of the people, by the act to which we have

____________________
*
Smith, p. 127.

-85-

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