The Bill, with Amendments, reported to the House

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Friday, December 8, 1775,

Mr˙ Mackworth, according to order, reported from the Committee of the Whole House, to whom the Bill was committed, the Amendments which the Committee had made to the Bill, and which they had directed him to report to the House. And he read the Report in his place, and afterwards delivered the Bill, with the Amendments, in at the Clerk' s table.

Ordered, That the said Report be now read.

Then the Counsel against the Bill were called in.

And the said Report was read.

And the Petition of the Planters of his Majesty' s Sugar Colonies, residing in Great Britain, and of the Merchants of London, trading to the said Colonies, against the said Bill, was also read.

And the Counsel for the Petitioners were heard, in support of the allegations of the said Petition.

And then they withdrew.

The House was moved, That the Minutes of the Examination of George Walker, Esquire, and John Ellis, Esquire, taken upon the 16th day of March, in the last session of Parliament, before the Committee of the Whole House, to whom it was referred to consider of the Petition of the Merchants, Traders, and others, of the City of London, concerned in the commerce of North-America, and of the several other Petitioners, referred to the consideration of the said Committee, might be read.

And the same being read accordingly,

A motion was made and the question being put, That the further consideration of the said Report be adjourned till Tuesday, the 23d day of January next,

It passed in the negative.

Lord North moved, That the Amendments made by the Committee be now read a second time.

Mr˙ T˙ Townshend condemned this mode of hurrying on the national business; it was disgraceful to Parliament, and offended every rule of decency. It was injurious to the nation at large, and it fully verified what had often been asserted and lamented, that our laws were become the more edicts of the Council table, or rather the dark machinations of a desperate cabal of Ministers, and not the laws of free, deliberative assemblies, uninfluenced by any other consideration but the good of the kingdom. He hoped, however flushed with victory the Minister might be, for form' s sake at least he would consent to put off the report till after the Christmas recess: besides, he recommended his Lordship seriously to reflect how fatal it might be, if the measure, which he seemed so eager to carry, should fail; and think in time in what manner he could face his friends, if compelled to meet them at the commencement of the next, as he did at the present session, with the doleful tidings, that he was again deceived.

Sir George Hay spoke of the Admiralty Courts, and their immediate connection with the civil law, and the near affinity this bill bore to both, as one of their genuine offspring. He said it was the wisest and most salutary measure that had been hitherto devised for compelling the rebellious Americans to return to their duty. He observed, that they might beat our army, but they could not beat our navy; for, he was confident, the latter was powerful enough to cope with the combined force of all Europe.

Mr˙ Serjeant Adair made no doubt but the present bill bore a much nearer affinity to the civil law than to the common law of England; the former was the parent of tyranny,

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despotism, and arbitrary power; and no person who attended in the least to the present bill, but must see at the first glance it was a compound of them all, and, consequently, like its parent, the very reverse to the laws of England, and totally repugnant to the glorious Constitution which gave them birth. Without pretending to the gift of prophecy, he might venture to foretell that the bill now under consideration would bring destruction on this country; and, applying to the noble Lord in the blue ribbon, asked him, if he was so misled or mistaken, as to imagine that one hundred and twenty or two hundred servile associates would be a sufficient protection to him in the hour of trial, when the nation, finding itself ruined, would rise, almost as one man, to avenge themselves on the guilty authors and advisers of such destructive measures.

Sir Richard Sutton said, that this country had numerous channels for its trade and commerce, and great consumptions within itself; but America had neither. Their rice, tobacco, corn, lumber, indigo, &c˙, must go to other markets; he therefore thought the bill the most effectual means to restore the people of that country to their senses. Governour Johnstone opposed hurrying the bill on in such a disgraceful manner; which, he said, was one of the most oppressive and tyrannick measures that could possibly enter into the mind of man to conceive. He observed, that you might put the Americans to the torture, you might starve, proscribe, or do anything which malice or despotism could suggest, but you would never prevail upon them to consent to taxation.

Mr˙ Fox. I have always said, that the war carrying on against the Americans is unjust, that it is not practicable; but admitting it to be a just war, that it is practicable, I say that the means made use of are by no means such as will obtain the end. I shall confine myself singly to this ground, and show that this bill, like every other measure, proves the want of policy, the folly and madness, of the present set of Ministers. I was in great hopes that they had seen their errour, and had given over coercion, and carrying on war against America by means of acts of Parliament. In order to induce the Americans to submit to your legislature, you pass laws against them, cruel and tyrannical in the extreme. If they complain of one law, your answer to their complaint is, to pass another more rigorous than the former. But they are in rebellion, you say; if they are, treat them as Rebels are wont to be treated. Send out your fleets and armies against them, and subdue them; but let them have no reason to complain of your laws. Show them that your laws are mild, just, and equitable, that they therefore are in the wrong, and deserve the punishment they meet with. The very contrary of this has been your wretched policy. I have ever understood it as a first principle, that in rebellion you punish the individuals, but spare the country; in a war against the enemy, you spare individuals, and lay waste the country. This last has been invariably your conduct against America. I suggested this to you when the Boston Port Bill passed. I advised you to find out the offending persons, and to punish them; but what did you do instead of this? You laid the whole town of Boston under terrible contribution, punishing the innocent with the guilty. You answer, that you could not come at the guilty. This very answer shows how unfit, how unable you are, to govern America. If you are forced to punish the innocent to come at the guilty, your Government there is, and ought to be, at an end. But, by the bill now before us, you not only punish those innocent persons who are unfortunately mixed with the guilty in North-America, but punish and starve whole islands of unoffending people, unconnected with, and separated from them. Hitherto the Americans have separated the right of taxation from your legislative authority; although they have denied the former, they have acknowledged the latter. This bill will make them deny the one as well as the other. What signifies, say they, your giving up the right of taxation, if you are to enforce your legislative authority in the manner you do. This legislative authority so enforced, will, at any time, coerce taxation, and take from us whatever you think fit to demand. It is a bill which should be entitled, a bill for carrying more effectually into execution the resolves of the Congress.

Lord North had not the most distant intention of distressing the inhabitants, or hurting the trade of the Sugar Colonies.

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Nothing could be further from his thoughts. If, therefore, any of the provisions of the present bill should affect the West-India planters, he was sorry for it: but as things were now circumstanced, he feared it was not to be avoided. In civil convulsions of this kind, it was plain that many must suffer; it was a necessary consequence of such a state of things; but still, if the measure was a good one, or the best, on the whole, that could be devised, it must be taken with all its consequences. Parliament have thought fit to adopt it, and till they think proper to alter their opinion, it is absurd to object that this body of men, that island, or such and such places, will feel the temporary effects of it; but, said his Lordship, till it is made manifest that the inconveniences complained of are shown to outweigh the general interest we have in preserving the dependancy of America on this country, every argument maintained on the ground of temporary or local inconvenience must be nugatory and absurd.

Mr˙ Burke said, the noble Lord' s argument came fairly to this: first, determine on your measure, bring it, (or, to use the noble Lord' s usual word,) propose it, or submit it to Parliament; and if any one offers to reason, inquire, or ask questions concerning its propriety, let the adviser, or proposer, or submitter, rise, and very gravely assure his auditors, that all such inquiries, reasons, questions, or objections, are totally nugatory and absurd; for we are not come to argue on it, the measure itself being already determined on. This was a new kind of logick; but very well calculated for expediting publick business, and every way worthy of its noble author and teacher.

Lord George Germaine contended, that the Americans brought the troubles on themselves, by resisting the laws and authority of this country. The gentlemen on the other side say, why did not the Government of Massachusetts-Bay discover the first rioters at Boston, and punish them, and let the matter rest there? I will tell them why. Because the Council refused to co-operate or act with Governour Hutchinson on that occasion, who did everything in his power to persuade them. Whatever may be urged against this bill, and its advisers, it is, in my opinion, the readiest and surest way to make the Americans submit to the supremacy of this country, and return to their duty; for as soon as any Province submits, its ports will be opened, and its trade and commerce from that moment restored. Whenever peace shall be restored, if I have been in the least instrumental in effecting so desirable an end, I shall feel the greatest pleasure and happiness from it: and whatever ill-natured interpretation may have been put on my conduct, I can assure the House that I never sought nor asked for the office I have the honour to fill, nor wished for it, further than I flattered myself I might be serviceable to my country. I was in a situation which could leave me no temptation to seek emoluments; my fortune had put me above such a wish. His Lordship, after proceeding to enumerate some other circumstances, to show that he took the publick part he did purely from disinterested motives, adverted to something which had fallen, in the course of the debate, relative to one Walker, who, he said, had promoted disturbances in Canada. He informed the House, that the Governour had notice given him of Walker' s intrigues, and had sent to seize him; that he defended himself, and had wounded some of the soldiers that attacked his house; and thus having enraged the soldiers, they set fire to it, and took himself and family prisoners; and that he was now in irons. On the whole, that what the Governour had done was no more than his duty; and had he acted otherwise, it would have been a breach of it. He added, that by the arguments used by the opponents of the bill, they seemed desirous to protract the war; but for his part, he was of opinion, that this bill, backed by the naval and military armaments that would be sent out to enforce it, would be the best means to shorten it; and as there was nothing for which he so ardently wished, as to see the present disputes speedily terminated, he would give the present motion his hearty assent:

The House then divided. The noes went forth:

Tellers for the yeas,
Sir Archibald Edmondston,
Mr˙ De Grey,
143

Tellers for the noes,
Mr˙ Alderman Oliver,
Mr˙ Pultney
38

So it was resolved in the affirmative.

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Then the said Amendments being accordingly severally read a second time, were, upon the question severally put thereupon, agreed to by the House.

Ordered, That the Bill, with the Amendments, be engrossed.

Ordered, That the said Bill be read a third time upon Monday morning next, if the said Bill shall be then engrossed.

Mr˙ Dempster moved, and the question being put, That James De Lancey, Esq˙, do attend this House upon Monday next, in order to be examined upon the third reading of the said Bill,

It passed in the negative.

Mr˙ Burke, then moved, and the question being proposed, That evidence concerning the state of America, the temper of the people there, and the probable operation of an Act now depending, is unnecessary to this House, this House being already sufficiently acquainted with these matters; An Amendment was proposed to be made to the question, by inserting at the beginning thereof these words, "That it is necessary and proper to come to a Resolution."

And the question being put, That those words be there inserted,

It was resolved in the affirmative.

Then the main question, so amended, being put, That it is necessary and proper to come to a Resolution, that evidence concerning the state of America, the temper of the people there, and the probable operation of an Act now depending, is unnecessary to this House, this House being already sufficiently acquainted with these matters,

It passed in the negative.

Mr˙ Burke also moved, and the question being put, That an humble Address be presented to his Majesty, that he will be graciously pleased to order to be laid before this House such advices as may enable this House to judge of the present state and condition of his Majesty' s loyal and dutiful Province of Georgia, in North-America;

It passed in the negative.

Notes

nts

* Another Amendment was proposed to be made to the said Amendment, by adding, after the word "troops," the words "and in order that the indulgence which is by this bill denied for publick purposes to trade in general, may not be continued for the purpose of private monopoly, Be it hereby enacted, That the Collector and Searcher of each port respectively, from which such store-ships and transports shall be entered outward, shall cause the same carefully to be examined, and upon proof of neglect of the said examination, the parties so offending shall forfeit five hundred pounds; and the said Collector and Searcher, or any other officer of the Customs, or any other person or persons giving informations of any goods shipped on board any of the said vessels, other than shall be bona fide for the use of the said troops and garrisons, shall be entitled to the full advantage and benefit of the same, as if the same were his proper goods and chatties; and if any mariner on board such ship shall make such discovery, he shall, over and above the said advantages, be entitled to his immediate discharge, his wages being first paid, if he shall require the same, provided that no more than one person in one ship, he being the first informer, shall be entitled to the said discharge."

And the question being put, That those words be there added,

It passed in the negative.

An Amendment was proposed to be made to the Bill in fo. 3, 1˙1, by inserting after the word "Colonies," the words "unless the said ships and vessels can be proved to belong to a person or persons who hath or have not taken up arms against his Majesty' s Government, or given any aid to those who are in arms against the said Government."

And the question being put, That those words be there inserted,

It passed in the negative.

Another Amendment was proposed to be made to the. Bill in fo. 3, 1˙1, by inserting after the word "Colonies," the words "who shall be proved to be concerned in the said disturbances."

And the question being put, That those words be there inserted,

It passed in the negative.

Another Amendment was proposed to be made to the Bill in fo. 3, 1˙3, by inserting after the word "whatsoever," the words "except any such ship or vessel shall have been driven upon the coast of America, or put into any of the aforesaid harbours by distress, or in want of stores or provisions, for the procurement of which alone they have traded, and made no unnecessary delay."

And the question being put, That those words be there inserted,

It passed in the negative.

Another Amendment was proposed to be made to the Bill in fo. 3,1˙4, by inserting after the word "trading," the words "within the description of the Hovering clause of the Act of the 4 George, III, cap. 15.

And the question being put, That those words be there inserted,

It passed in the negative.

Another Amendment was proposed to be made to the Bill in fo. 3, 1˙4, by inserting after the word "Colonies," the words "as shall be forcibly held out against his Majesty' s Government."

And the question being put, That those words be there inserted,

It passed in the negative.

Another Amendment was proposed to be made to the Bill in fo, 3, 1˙10, by adding at the end of the clause, the words "Provided always, that nothing in this act shall extend to any Colony or Colonies, in America, of whose having set itself in open rebellion and defiance to the just and legal authority of the King and Parliament of Great Britain, no proof has yet been laid before this House."

And the question being put, That those words be there added,

It passed in the negative.

Another Amendment was proposed to be made to the Bill in fo. 49, 1˙16, by inserting after the word "acts," the words, "were contrary to the principles of justice made without due consideration, without hearing or citing to appear the parties affected, vesting dangerous, unexampled, and unconstitutional powers in the Crown, being utterly unfit for the purposes which they were intended to answer, and tending to bring discredit on the honour, wisdom, and justice of Parliament, and to increase, instead of extinguishing, the flames of civil war; and that right may be done to justice, and the liberties of the subjects, Be it enacted, That all Records and Proceedings of Parliament be wholly cancelled, and taken from the registers of this kingdom, or otherwise defaced and obliterated, to the intent that the same may not be visible in after ages, or brought into example, to the prejudice of any person or body corporate whatsoever."

And the question being put, That those words be there inserted,

It passed in the negative.

Another Amendment was proposed to be made to the Bill in fo. 49, 1˙16, by inserting after the word "acts," the words "were fitted to the state of the time in which the said acts were made, but are too severe for Colonies in declared rebellion."

And the question being put, That those words be there inserted,

It passed in the negative.

Another Amendment was proposed to be made to the Bill in fo. 51, 1˙8, by inserting after the word "persons," the words "who shall return to their duty as aforesaid; and the said Commissioners shall, and are hereby required to grant the same, when such return to their duty shall be duly proved to them, the said Commissioners."

And the question being put, That those words be inserted,

It passed in the negative.

Another Amendment was proposed to be made to the Bill, in fo. 51, 1˙8, by inserting after the word "shall," the words "be declared before the departure of the said Commissioners for America, by his Majesty in Council."

And the question being put, That those words be there inserted,

It passed in the negative.