Proceedings and Votes on the Petition to the King

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Die Veneris, 10 ho˙, A˙M˙, the 24th March, 1775.

The House resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole House, upon the draught of a Petition to the King. After some time spent therein, Mr˙ Speaker resumed the Chair, and Colonel Seaman reported that he was directed by the Committee to make the following Report to the House, to wit:

That after reading the said Draught through in the Committee, and upon reading it again, paragraph by paragraph, when he came to the fifth paragraph, a motion was made by Colonel Schuyler, in the words following, viz:

Mr˙ Chairman: I move that the following words be struck out of the fifth paragraph, beginning after the word "her," to wit: "We acknowledge there are appearances which may be construed to our disadvantage, and that several of the measures pursued by the Colonies, are by no means justifiable; yet, while we disapprove and condemn them, we entreat you, as the indulgent father of your people, to view them in the most favourable light, and to consider them as the honest, though disorderly struggles of liberty, not the licentious efforts of independence;" and that the following words be substituted, to wit: "And as we have too much reason to suspect that pains have been taken to induce your Majesty to think us impatient of constitutional Government, we entreat you, royal sir, to believe that our commotions are honest struggles for maintaining our constitutional liberties, and not dictated by a desire of independence. Could your princely virtues, as easily as your powers, have been delegated to your servants, we had not at this time been reduced to the disagreeable necessity of disturbing your repose, on an occasion which we sincerely lament."

Upon which debates arose, and the question having been put thereon, it passed in the negative, in manner following, viz:

for the Negative.

Mr˙ Brush,
Mr˙ Billopp,
Colonel Wells,
Mr˙ Nicoll,
Mr˙ Kissam,
Mr˙ Gale,
Mr˙ Coe,
Mr˙ Van Kleeck,
Mr˙ Jauncey,
Mr˙ De Lancey,
Mr˙ Rapalje,
Mr˙ Ten Eyck,
Mr˙ Speaker,
Mr˙ Wilkins,
Colonel Philips.

For the Affirmative.

Mr˙ De Witt,
Colonel Schuyler,
Mr˙ Clinton,
Mr˙ Boerum,
Captain Seaman,
Colonel Woodhull,
Mr˙ Thomas,
Mr˙ Van Cortlandt.

That on reading the sixth paragraph, a second motion was made by Colonel Schuyler, in the words following, viz:

Mr˙ Chairman: I move that the following words be struck out of the sixth paragraph, to wit: "Your Majesty' s American subjects have hitherto been in a state of infancy, and till lately have submitted implicitly, and without repining, to the authority of the parent state; they have now reached the period of maturity, and think themselves entitled to their birth-right — an equal participation of freedom with their fellow-subjects in Britain;" and the words following be substituted, to wit: "Although your Majesty' s American subjects have, in some instances, submitted to the power exercised by the parent state, they nevertheless conceive themselves entitled to an equal participation of freedom with their fellow-subjects in Britain."

On which debates arose, and the question having been put thereon, it was carried in the negative, in manner following, viz:

For the Negative.

Mr˙ Brush,
Mr˙ Billopp,
Colonel Wells,
Mr˙ Nicoll,
Mr˙ Kissam,
Mr˙ Gale,
Mr˙ Van Kleeck,
Mr˙ Jauncey,
Mr˙ De Lancey,
Mr˙ Rapalje,
Mr˙ Ten Eyck,
Mr˙ Speaker,
Mr˙ Wilkins,
Colonel Philips.

For the Affirmative.

Mr˙ De Witt,
Colonel Schuyler,
Mr˙ Coe,
Mr˙ Clinton,
Mr˙ Boerum,
Captain Seaman,
Colonel Woodhull,
Mr˙ Thomas,
Mr˙ Van Cortlandt.

That a third motion was then made by Colonel Schuyler, on reading the said sixth paragraph, in the words following, viz:

Mr˙ Chairman: I move that the following words be struck out of the sixth paragraph, after the word "Parliament," to wit: "On the contrary, we cheerfully acknowledge our subordination to it as the grand Legislature of the Empire; we wish only to enjoy the rights of Englishmen, and to have that share of liberty, and those privileges secured to us which we are entitled to, upon the principles of our free and happy Constitution. Permit us,

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therefore," and the following words substituted, to wit: "Conscious of the incompetency of the Colony Legislatures to regulate the trade of the Empire, we cheerfully acknowledge such a power in that august body, as is founded in expediency, and confined to the regulation of our external commerce, with a view to the general weal of all your Majesty' s subjects, and in such a manner as will leave to us, unimpaired, those rights which we hold by the immutable laws of nature and the principles of the English Constitution; but the exercise of powers incompatible with those rights, not justified by expediency, and destructive of English liberty, induces us."

And debates arose on the said motion, and the question having been put thereon, it was carried in the negative, in manner following, viz:

For the Negative.

Mr˙ Brush,
Mr˙ Billopp,
Colonel Wells,
Mr˙ Nicoll,
Mr˙ Kissam,
Mr˙ Gale,
Mr˙ Coe,
Mr˙ Van Kleeck,
Mr˙ Jauncey,
Mr˙ De Lancey,
Mr˙ Rapalje,
Mr˙ Ten Eyck,
Mr˙ Speaker,
Mr˙ Wilkins,
Colonel Philips.

For the Affirmative.

Mr˙ De Witt,
Colonel Schuyler,
Mr˙ Clinton,
Mr˙ Boerum,
Captain Seaman,
Colonel Woodhull,
Mr˙ Thomas,
Mr˙ Van Cortlandt.

That on reading the seventh paragraph, a motion was made by Colonel Woodhull, in the words following, viz:

Mr˙ Chairman: I move that the following words be struck out of the seventh paragraph, after the word "Representative," to wit: "This right we do not at present enjoy, inasmuch as the British Parliament, in which we have no representation, have claimed and exercised a right of making laws binding upon us in all cases whatsoever;" and the following words substituted, to wit: "This invaluable right the British Parliament, in which we neither are nor can be represented, have declared an intention to infringe, by asserting an authority to bind us by their Acts in all cases whatsoever."

Upon which debates arose, and the question having been put thereon, it was carried in the negative, in manner following, viz:

For the Negative.

Mr˙ Nicoll,
Mr˙ Kissam,
Colonel Philips,
Mr˙ Ten Eyck,
Mr˙ Coe,
Mr˙ Wilkins,
Mr˙ Walton,
Mr˙ Billopp,
Colonel Wells,
Mr˙ Jauncey,
Mr˙ Speaker,
Mr˙ De Lancey,
Mr˙ Van Kleeck,
Mr˙ Rapalje,
Mr˙ Brush.

For the Affirmative.

Colonel Schuyler,
Mr˙ Clinton,
Mr˙ Van Cortlandt,
Mr˙ Boerum,
Colonel Woodhull,
Captain Seaman,
Mr˙ Thomas,
Mr˙ De Witt,
Mr˙ Gale.

That on reading the thirteenth paragraph, a motion was made by Colonel Schuyler, in the words following, viz:

Mr˙ Chairman: I move that the following words be inserted in the said thirteenth paragraph, between the word "thereof" and the word "and," to wit: "An abridgment of your Majesty' s prerogative, in the preservation of which we are deeply interested, and a violation of our legislative rights." On the question, it passed in the affirmative.

That on reading the fourteenth paragraph, a motion was made by Mr˙ De Witt, in the words following, viz:

Mr˙ Chairman: I move that the following words be struck out of the fourteenth paragraph, to wit: "The Act for the regulation of the Government of Quebec, we must beg leave to mention also to your Majesty, as the extension of that Province, and the indulgence granted by it to Roman Catholicks, have given great uneasiness to the minds of many of your Majesty' s American subjects;" and the following words substituted, to wit: "We beg leave to hold up to your Majesty, as a most alarming grievance, the change wrought by your Parliament in the Government of Quebec; a change by which your Majesty' s Royal Proclamation, conferring the privileges of Englishmen on the inhabitants of that conquered country, is abrogated; the rights of your Majesty' s natural born subjects, who have settled there in confidence thereof, wholly defeated; its future population by emigrants who know the value of British liberty, most effectually discouraged; Popery highly encouraged, if not established; and a form of Government unknown in the British Constitution, erected in that very extensive Dominion, to the great grief and danger of your Majesty' s ancient, loyal, free, and Protestant Colonies on this Continent." On the question,

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debates arose, the Committee divided, and it passed in the negative, in manner following, viz:

For the Negative.

Mr˙ Walton,
Mr˙ Nicoll,
Mr˙ Kissam,
Colonel Philips,
Mr˙ Ten Eyck,
Mr˙ Gale,
Mr˙ Wilkins,
Mr˙ Billopp,
Colonel Wells,
Mr˙ Jauncey,
Mr˙ Speaker,
Mr˙ De Lancey,
Mr˙ Van Kleeck,
Mr˙ Rapalje,
Mr˙ Brush.

for the Affirmative.

Colonel Schuyler,
Mr˙ Clinton,
Mr˙ Van Cortlandt,
Colonel Woodhull,
Captain Seaman,
Mr˙ Thomas,
Mr˙ De Witt,
Mr˙ Coe.

That on reading the fifteenth paragraph, Mr˙ Clinton moved that the same be struck out, which is in these words, viz: "The late Acts for shutting up the Port of Boston, and altering the Charter of the Massachusetts Bay, we presume not to mention to your Majesty, without first assuring you, that we, in many instances, disapprove of the conduct of that Province, and beseeching your gracious interposition in their favour; we cannot, however, help observing, that those Acts seem to establish a dangerous precedent, by inflicting punishment without the formality of a trial;" and the following words substituted, to wit: Although, royal sir, it would be improper here to enter into a justification of the merits of the measures which occasioned the late act for shutting up the Port of Boston, abridging the Charter rights of the Massachusetts Bay, and for the impartial administration of justice in that Province; your Majesty will, however, graciously be pleased to permit us to observe, that the ill-policied scheme of Colony Administration pursued by your Majesty' s Ministers since the close of the last war, has been "productive of great warmth in every part of your Empire; nor can we avoid declaring, that we view those Acts with that jealousy which is the necessary result of a just sense of the blessings of freedom, and abhor the principles they contain, as establishing precedents subversive of the rights, privileges, and property, and dangerous to the lives of your Majesty' s American subjects."

Upon which debates arose, and the question having been put thereon, it was carried in the negative, in manner following, viz:

For the Negative.

Mr˙ Walton,
Mr˙ Nicoll,
Mr˙ Kissam,
Colonel Philips,
Mr˙ Ten Eyck,
Mr˙ Wilkins,
Mr˙ Billopp,
Colonel Wells,
Mr˙ Jauncey,
Mr˙ Speaker,
Mr˙ De Lancey,
Mr˙ Van Kleeck,
Mr˙ Rapalje,
Mr˙ Brush,
Mr˙ Gale.

For the Affirmative.

Colonel Schuyler,
Mr˙ Clinton,
Mr˙ Van Cortlandt,
Colonel Woodhull,
Captain Seaman,
Mr˙ Thomas,
Mr˙ De Witt,
Mr˙ Coe.

That Colonel Philips then moved to have the words "seem to" struck out of the said fifteenth paragraph, which passed in the affirmative.

That on reading the sixteenth paragraph, a motion was made by Mr˙ Clinton, in the words following, viz:

Mr˙ Chairman: I move that the said sixteenth paragraph be struck out, which is in these words, to wit: "We cannot quit the subject of our grievances, without humbly representing to your Majesty, that we are apprehensive many inconveniences may arise from the Judges of the Supreme Court in this Colony holding their commissions during pleasure; we therefore entreat your Majesty to grant them their commissions upon the tenure that the Judges of your Majesty' s Courts in England hold theirs, during good behaviour; and we assure your Majesty, that if you shall be pleased to grant us this indulgence, you will find the Representatives of this Colony ready and willing to annex such adequate and permanent salaries to those offices, as shall render them as independent of the people, as your Majesty may be pleased to make them of the Crown;" and the following words substituted, to wit: "With the highest satisfaction, most gracious Sovereign, we reflect on your royal declaration from the throne, at your happy accession, that it was essential to the impartial administration of justice, and one of the best securities to the rights and liberties of your subjects, that your Judges should hold their commissions during good behaviour; permit us then to pray, that you will be graciously pleased to remove the distinction between your subjects in England and those in America, by commissioning your Judges here to hold their offices on the same tenure; in which case we beg leave to assure your Majesty, that we stand ready to give them such adequate and permanent salaries as will render them independent

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of the people." On the question, the Commitee agreed to the same, nemine contradicente.

That after he had read the seventeenth paragraph, Mr˙ Clinton moved that the following words be struck out from the beginning of the said seventeenth paragraph, to wit:

"We have now, most gracious Sovereign, stated our grievances to your Majesty; we have done it, we trust, with all the respect due to the best of Kings, and with that decent freedom becoming the Representatives of a [faithful, ancient, and loyal Colony;]
[Here four pages of the original are missing. They contained the remainder of the Proceedings on the Petition to the King, and the Proceedings on the Memorial to the House of Lords, as far as the twenty-first paragraph.]
part of his Majesty' s Dominions; but that it is essential to freedom, and the undoubted rights of our constituents, that no Taxes be imposed on them but with their consent, given personally or by their lawful Representatives;" and the following substituted, to wit: "And while we esteem it our duty thus fully to lay them before your Lordships, we beg leave to assure you, that we shall never repine at the exercise of Parliamentary authority to regulate trade for the general weal of the Empire, when it is solely employed in the enacting Duties on imports from foreign countries, that may interfere with the products or manufactures of any part of the British Empire, provided that in the mode every idea of taxation for the purpose of raising a Revenue in America, be excluded." Upon which, debates arose, and the question having been put thereon, it was carried in the negative, in manner following, viz:

For the Negative.

Mr˙ Walton,
Mr˙ Kissam,
Colonel Philips,
Mr˙ Ten Eyck,
Mr˙ Billopp,
Mr˙ Nicoll,
Mr˙ Wilkins,
Mr˙ De Lancey,
Mr˙ Rapalje,
Mr˙ Van Kleeck,
Mr˙ Jauncey,
Mr˙ Brush,
Mr˙ Gale,
Mr˙ Coe,
Colonel Wells,
Mr˙ Speaker.

For the Affirmative.

Colonel Schuyler,
Mr˙ Clinton,
Colonel Woodhull,
Captain Seaman,
Mr˙ Van Cortlandt,
Mr˙ Thomas,
Mr˙ De Witt,
Mr˙ Boerum.

That after going through the same, paragraph by paragraph, and having made several amendments thereto, he asked the Committee whether they agreed to the same, and would direct him to report them to the House? Upon which debates arose, the Committee divided, and it passed in the affirmative, in manner following, viz:

For the Affirmative.

Mr˙ Walton,
Mr˙ Rapalje,
Mr˙ Kissam,
Colonel Philips,
Mr˙ Ten Eyck,
Mr˙ Billopp,
Mr˙ Wilkins,
Mr˙ Nicoll,
Mr˙ De Lancey,
Mr˙ Van Kleeck,
Mr˙ Jauncey,
Mr˙ Brush,
Mr˙ Coe,
Mr˙ Gale,
Colonel Wells,
Mr˙ Speaker.

For the Negative.

Colonel Schuyler,
Mr˙ Clinton,
Colonel Woodhull,
Captain Seaman,
Mr˙ Van Cortlandt,
Mr˙ Thomas,
Mr˙ De Witt,
Mr˙ Boerum.

Which Report he read in his place, and afterwards delivered it, with the said draught and amendments, in at the table, where the same were again read; and on the question, Whether the House agree to the same, and would order the said draught and amendments to be engrossed? It passed in the affirmative.

Ordered, That the said draught and amendments be engrossed.