History of the United States of America, from the Discovery of the Continent - Vol. 3

By George Bancroft | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XV.
PARLLAMENT AFFIRMS ITS RIGHT TO TAX AMERICA. ROCKING-
HAM’S ADMINISTRATION CONTINUED.

THE THIRD OF FEBRUARY 1766.

IT was the third day of February when the duke of Grafton offered in the house of lords the resolution, which was in direct contradiction to his wishes. Shelburne proposed to repeal the stamp act, and avoid the question of right.

“If you exempt the American colonies from one statute or law,” said Lyttelton, “you make them independent communities. If opinions of this weight are to be taken up and argued upon through mistake or timidity, wo shall have Lycurguses and Solons in every coffee-house, tavern, and gin-shop in London. Many thousands in England who have no vote in electing representatives will follow their brethren in America in refusing submission to any taxes. Tho commons will with pleasure hear the doctrine of equality being tho natural right of all; but tho doctrine of equality may be carried to the destruction of this monarchy.”

Lord Temple treated as a jest his brother-in-law’s distinction in regard to internal taxation. “Did the colonies, when they emigrated, keep the purse only, and give up their liberties?” He cited Shakespeare to prove that “who steals a purse eteals trash;” then, advising the lords to firmness toward the colonies, he concluded with an admonition from Tacitus.

“The question before your lordships,” said Camden, “concerns the common rights of mankind. The resolution now proposed gives the legislature an absolute power of laying any tax upon America. In my opinion, my lords, the legislature had no right to make this law. When the people consented to be

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