HAS PARLIAMENT THE RIGHT TO TAX AMERICA? ADMINISTRA-
TION OF ROCKINGHAM.
THE stamp act, said George Grenville, when, emaciated, exhausted, and borne down by disappointment, he spoke in the house of commons for the last time before sinking into the grave, “the stamp act was not found impracticable. Had I continued in office, I would have forfeited a thousand lives if the act had been found impracticable.” “If the administration of this country had not been changed,” the Bedford party long persisted in asserting, “the stamp-tax would have been collccted in America with as much case as the land-tax in Great Britain.” Lord North professed to be of the same opinion.
Many of the landed aristocracy regarded the colonies as in an open rebellion, which ought to be checked in the beginning; the mercantile people were for redressing their grievances. Successive administrations had listened to schemes of coercive taxation; but no minister before Grenville had attempted to carry them into effect. Grenville declared the paramount authority of parliament throughout the British dominions to be the essence of the revolution of 1688; but the British constitution was in its idea more popular than in its degenerate forms; a large and growing party in England insisted that, by revolution principles, property is sacred against every exaction without consent, and demanded for its inhabitants a more equal share in the national council. In the new ministry, Northington, the chancellor, and Charles Yorke, the attorney-general, insisted on the right to tax America, while Grafton and Conway inclined to abdicate the pretended right,