British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

B. PROBLEMS OF REPRESENTATIVE GOVERNMENT

1
ROYAL INSTRUCTIONS TO THE PEACE COMMISSION, 12 April 17781

[The Commissioners are to assure the American leaders that any proposals which the Commissioners consider reasonable will be immediately referred to the British Government and Parliament. The proposed conditions for a truce are then detailed.]

. . . It being to be understood that the design expressed by Our subjects in America, to return to their condition in 1763, is the principle of the present negotiation, that proposition, in general terms, must be agreed to at once. But the explanation of it will lead into some discussion, and it is very essential not only to evince the good faith of Great Britain, but, for the successful result of the treaty, to proceed by ascertaining in the first place the demands of Our subjects in America, and the extent to which we mean to acquiesce in those demands, reserving the terms to be proposed to them as a subsequent consideration.

If they should require any security that the benefits held out to them by the 11th and 12th ch. of the 18th of Our reign, should not be at any future time annulled or revoked, the demand is not to be rejected. But it would be proper to place it in the class of those demands which have been made to Us and Our two Houses of Parliament for the alteration and improvement of their constitution, which Great Britain is desirous to consider with the utmost attention: and it will be reasonable to put them upon proposing the security they may require.

As to contribution, it is just and reasonable that you should remind those with whom you treat that you are led to hope they will now make good, in the name and on the part of our subjects in America, their own repeated declarations of their readiness to contribute to the public charge, in common with all Our other subjects, seeing they are to enjoy the common privileges of all Our other subjects: and they are the rather called upon to exercise this act of justice, as such contribution would now be a mere act of free will.

If they are disposed to consider that idea without prejudice, they will find their advantage in fixing upon a ratio by which the amount of a contribution may be regulated.

The sum required will be moderate. It may be taken upon a ratio of their numbers, their tonnage, or exports. The increase of the

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1

Printed in Carlisle Papers ( H.M.C. 1897, 15th Rept., Appendix Part VI), pp.322-33. The Commissioners were: the Earl of Carlisle, Viscount Howe, Sir William Howe, William Eden, and Capt. George Johnstone, R.N.

-168-

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