« PrécédentContinuer »
His Majesty's Most Gracious An- in order to present the petitions of
My Lords and Gentlemen, I thank you for this very dutiful and loyal address, and for the affectionate and solemn assurances you give me of your support in maintaining the just rights of my crown, and of the two houses of parliament; and you may depend on my taking the most speedy and effectual measures for inforcing due obedience to the laws, and the authority of the supreme legislature.
Whenever any of my 'colonies shall make a proper and dutiful application, I shall be ready to conclude with you, in affording them every just and resonable indulgence; and it is my ardent wish, that this disposition may have a happy effect on the temper and conduct of my subjects in America,'
Protest of several of the Lords, on its being resolved in their House, on Tuesday, the 7th of February, 1775, to put a main Question, viz. To agree with the Commons in the foregoing Address, sent by them
the N. American merchants, and of the West-India merchants and planters, which petitions the House might reject if frivolous, or postpone if not urgent, as it might seem fit to their wisdom; but to hurry on the business to which these petitions so materially and directly related, the express prayer of which was, that they might be heard before " any resolution may be taken by this right hopourable House, respecting America," to refuse so much as to suffer them to be presented, is a proceeding of the most unwarrantable nature, and directly subversive of the most sacred rights of the subject. It is the more particularly exceptionable, as a Lord, in his place, at the express desire of the West-India merchants, informed the House, that, if necessitated so to do, they were ready, without counsel, or farther preparation, instantly to offer evidence to prove, that several islands of the WestIndies could not be able to subsist after the operation of the proposed address in America. Justice, in regard to individuals, policy, with regard to the public, and decorum, with regard to ourselves, required that we should admit this petition to
ought, as we conceive, with gladness, to have accepted that information from the merchants, which, if it had not been voluntarily offered, it was our duty to seek. There is no information concerning the state of our colonies (taken in any point of view) which the merchants are not far more competent to give than governors or officers, who often know far less of the temper and disposition, or may be more disposed to misrepresent it than the merchants. Of this we have a full and melancholy experience, in the mistaken ideas on which the fatal acts of the last parfiament were formed.
3dly. Because we are of opinion, that in entering into a war, in which mischief and inconvenience are great and certain (but the utmost extent of which it is impossible to foresee) true policy requires that those who are most likely to be immediately affected should be thoroughly satisfied of the deliberation with which it was undertaken: and we apprehend that the planters, merchants and manufacturers will not bear their losses and burthens, brought on them by the proposed civil war, the better for our refusing so much as to hear them previous to our engaging in that war; nor will our precipitation in resolving add much to the success
Not contents Dissentient, 1st. Because the violent matter of this dangerous address was highly aggravated by the violent manner in which it was precipitately hurried through the House. Lords were not allowed the interposition of a moment's time for deliberation, before they were driven headlong into a declaration of civil war. A conference was held with the Commons, an address of this importance presented, all extraneous information, although offered, positively refused; all petitions arbitrarily rejected, and the whole of this most awful business received, debated and concluded in a single day.
2dly. Because no legal grounds were laid, in argument or in fact, to shew that a rebellion, properly so
called, did exist in Massachusett's Bay, when the papers of the latest date, and from whence alone we derive our information, were written. The overt-acts to which the, species of treason affirmed in the address ought to be applied, were not established, nor any offenders marked out but a general mass of the acts of turbulence, said to be done at various times and places, and of various natures, were all thrown together, to make out one. general constructive treason. Neither was there any sort of proof of the continuance of any unlawful force, from whence we could infer that a rebellion docs now exist. And we are the more cautious of pronouncing any part of his ma jesty's dominions to be in actual rebellion, because the cases of constructive treason, under that branch of the 25th of Edward the Third, which describes the crime of rebellion, have been already so far extended by the judges, and the distinctions thereupon so nice and subtle, that no prudent man ought to declare any single person in that situation, without the clearest evidence of uncontrovertible overtacts, to warrant such a declaration. Much less ought so high an authority as both houses of parliament to denounce so severe a judgment against a considerable part of his majesty's subjects, by which his forces may think themselves justified in commencing a war, without any further order or com
3dly. Because we think that several acts of the last parliament, and several late proceedings of administration with regard to the colonies, are real grievances, and just causes of complaint; and we cannot, in
honour, or in conscience, consent to an address which commends the temper by which proceedings, so very intemperate, have been car ried on; nor can we persuade ourselves to authorize violent courses against persons in the colonies who have resisted authority, without, at the same time, redressing the grievances which have given but too much provocation for their behaviour.
4thly. Because we think the loose and general assurances given by the address, of future redress of griev ances, in case of submission, is far from satisfactory, or at all likely to produce their end, whilst the acts complained of continue unre pealed, or unamended, and their authors remain in authority here, because these advisers of all the measures which have brought on the calamities of this empire, will not be trusted, whilst they defend, as just, necessary, and even indulgent, all the acts complained of as grievances by the Americans; and must, therefore, on their own principles, be found in future to govern the colonies in the manner which has already produced such fatal effects; and we fear that the refusal of this House, so much as to receive, previous to determination (which is the most offensive mode of rejection) petitions from the unoffending natives of GreatBritain, and the West-India islands, affords but a very discouraging prospect of our obtaining hereafter any petitions at all, from those whom we have declared actors in rebellion, or abettors of that crime.
Lastly. Because the means of inforcing the authority of the British legislature, is confided to person's
of whose capacity, for that purpose, from abundant experience, we have reason to doubt; and who have hitherto used no effectual means of conciliating or of reducing those who oppose that authority: this appears in the constant failure of all their projects, the insufficiency of all their information, and the disappoitment of all the hopes, which held out they have for several years to the public. Parliament has never refused any of their proposals, and yet our affairs have proceeded daily from bad to worse, until we have been brought, step by step, to that state of confusion, and even civil violence, which was the natural result of these desperate
We therefore protest against an address amounting to a declaration of war, which is founded, on no proper parliamentary information; which was introduced by refusing to suffer the presentation of petitions against it, (although it be the undoubted right of the subject to present the same) which followed the rejection of every mode of conciliation; which holds out no substantial offer of redress of grievanand which promises support to those ministers who have inflamed America, and grosly misconducted the affairs of GreatBritain.
Message of his Majesty to the House of Commons, on Friday, the 10th of February, 1775.
"HIS. Majesty being deterconsequence of the address of both Houses of Parliament, to take the most speedy and effectual measures for supporting the just rights of his crown, and the two Houses of Parliament,
thinks proper to acquaint this
House, that some addition to his
forces by sea, and land will be necessary for that purpose; and doubts not but his faithful Commons, on whose zeal and affection he entirely relics, will enable him to make such augmentation to his forces as the present occasion shall be thought to require.
beneficial commerce with our colonies, yet they are exceedingly alarm ed at the consequences that must I ensue, if the bill now depending in this honourable house should pass into a law, entitled, "A Bill to restrain the Trade and Commerce of Massachusett's Bay 'and New Hampshire, and Colonies of Connecticut and Rhode Island, and Providence Plantation in NorthAmerica, to Great-Britain, Ireland, and the British Islands in the WestIndies, and to prohibit such provinces and colonies from carrying on any fishery on the banks of Newfoundland, or other places therein to be mentioned, under certain conditions, and for a time to be limited; the said bill as your petitioners conceive, being unjustly founded, because it involves the whole in the punishment intended for the supposed offences of a few.
"That it must, in its consequences, overwhelm thousands of his majesty's loyal and useful subjects with the utmost poverty and distress, inasmuch as they will be, thereby deprived of the fisheries, which are the natural means of supporting themselves and families.
"That the extensive commerce between Great-Britain and her colonies will, by this bill, be greatly injured, as a capital source of remittance will be stopt, which will not only disconnect the future commercial intercourse between those colonies and this country, but will eventually render them incapable of paying the large debts already due to the merchants of this city.
"That the utmost confusion will probably ensue from enforcing this bill, if passed into a law, as it cannot be supposed that a great number
of men, naturally hardy and brave, will quietly submit to a law which will reduce them almost to famine, they not having within themselves provisions sufficient for their sub, sistence.
"That it will induce the French to extend their fisheries, and by that means increase the wealth and strength of our rivals in trade, to the great prejudice of this coun try.
"That your petitioners feel for the many hardships which their fellow-subjects in America already labour under, from the execution of several late acts of parliament, evidently partial and oppressive, and which seem to be extended and continued by this bill; inasmuch as it confirms those acts, which in particular cases deprive the American subjects of trial by jury, prohibit the Americans from carrying provisions from one colony to another, invite a contraband trade under military protection, prevent any subject of Great-Britain or Ireland from being part owner of certain American ships or vessels, and vest an undue and dangerous alle thority in the governor and council of Massachusett's Bay.
"Your petitioners, therefore, humbly pray this honourable house, that the said bill may not pass into a law."