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CHAPTER XII.

Judicial Courts suspended, on account of Stamps—Opinion of Representa

tives, and of the council thereon-Dispute with governor and Council on drawing money from the treasury-Extracts from Governor's speeches, and answers of the House-Stamp Act repealed, and assertion of the right of Parliament to make laws for the Colonies–Mr. Pitt-Dispute with Governor about choice of Counsellors-Reflections of the Council on the Riots-Address of House to the King—Political views of Goyernor Bernard—Different opinions among the people—Dispute in granting compensation for the losses by the mob-Trade--Arrival of British troops-Dispute about expenses of the troops.

It now became an important question, whether the courts should proceed without the use of the stamp paper, and whether any business could be legally transacted, where there were written contracts, without them. The citizens of Boston petitioned the governor and council to direct the courts to proceed without them. The general court being in session, appointed a committee on the subject, and the council joined several members of that board, but though a report was made and accepted in the council, the house did not approve, and it was continued to the January session following. The report was in favor of the courts proceeding in the usual business, as though no such act of parliament had been passed. In January, it was proposed by the house to add to it, “ that the courts be directed to sit immediately;" but the council seem not to have been willing to order the court to sit, but stated that it was understood the courts would be holden as formerly. Early in the spring they were held at the regular terms. As the courts had been suspended during the fall months, the house was desirous of directing them in January to proceed in their proper duties. The council were not backward in condemning the stamp act, and they expressed an opinion, that the courts might proceed without stamps ; but were unwilling further to interfere ; they said “the most sensible and judicious persons in the colonies looked on the act as grievous and unconstitutional; and that it was believed no one would think it consistent with his reputation to distribute the stamps. When the

stamps were deposited at the castle, the governor and council ordered additional men as a guard ; and afterwards issued warrants for their wages, without having the authority of a resolve of the house for it. This was a subject of heavy complaint, as a dangerous precedent. The house remonstrated against it to the council ; and the latter excused their conduct, by saying that the exigency required it. The house insisted, that it was highly improper; but granted that the executive might justly order the men for protection, though it should not decide their pay, nor draw money from the treasury without a resolve of both branches of the legislature. The danger to the liberties of the people from such power in the executive was pointed out by the house ; and in a second address to the council, there was a solemn protest against the principle.

The last day of the court, the governor sent a long message to the house, in which he criminated their conduct, and complained that he had not been treated with due respect. The first day of the following session, the house made a full reply ; in which they observed, “that they should have been happy to have passed it in silence, but felt bound to notice some parts of it, as he had borne hard on them. They could not suppose, they said, “that he meant to push the prerogative so far, as to impose silence on them. They expressed surprise that he should say, the disordered state of the province had affected its very councils; and to intimate that it was on the eve of a rebellion. Impartial history,” they said, “would testify, that the people of the province, after giving the strongest testimony of their loyalty to the king, also gave equal testimony of a love of liberty and a regard to those principles, which are the basis of his majesty's government, by a glorious stand even against an act of parliament, when they saw their essential and unalienable rights disregarded and infringed -- and that they had knowledge and virtue enough to regulate their opposition by law. Your excellency says, the times have been made more difficult than they need to have been ; which is our opinion also. They who have made them so,* have reason to regret the injury they have done to an honest and virtuous people. We hope tranquillity will be soon restored. The custom-houses are oper, and the people permitted to attend to their usual employments. The courts of justice also must be open; open immediately; and the law, the great rule of right, be executed. The stopping of the courts of justice is a grievance which this house

* The governor and lieutenant governor had before this written to England, approving of the stamp act, if they did not even recommend it.

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must inquire into. Justice must be administered through the province. In the mean time we shall wait in hope that the loyal application to the king for a repeal of the stamp act will succeed. With reference to the declaration of the governor, in his speech, that he had not interfered with the stamp act, the house say, “they were sorry, when he knew what interest and alarm it had excited in the province, he should not have exerted his influence in their favor, and represented the feelings and complaints of the people on the subject.

At the session of the general court, in January, 1766, the governor made a very short speech, and said, “ that when the time should come that his services would be acceptable to the province, he should gladly use it for their benefit.” sentatives replied, “ that they had never known the time, since he had been in the chair, that his services would not have been acceptable and useful; and, that in seeking the welfare of the province, they could not but still hope for his assistance."

The British minister had given directions that the stamp act, and the mutiny act, passed about the same time, should be published by authority in the province; and the governor desired the house of representatives to give orders accordingly ; but the house declined. The governor, by advice of council, directed that they should be published. The house complained, that this was done contrary to their opinion, and an expense incurred for service which they wished not to be performed. They represented it as arbitrary and unconstitutional. At the same time, they complained, that the governor had an irresponsible council, who met at his house every week, and advised to improper measures, some of which were specified. These complaints were expressed in the form of resolutions, and published. They also complained again, that the judicial courts were shut, which tended to dissolve the bonds of civil society; and was an intolerable grievance, and ought forthwith to be redressed.

While remonstrances were made against the stamp act, as an unconstitutional measure, it was also represented as oppressive, and petitions were offered for its repeal. In asking this, the general court made strong professions of loyalty, and were careful to acknowledge their allegiance to the crown.

Their depial of a right in parliament to pass the stamp act or to impose taxes on the people in the province, was a great hindrance to its repeal. The ministry thought it would be yielding too much ; that it would be admitting, in effect, that the parliament had no right to legislate for the colonies ; which they would not for a moment allow. This was evident from

declarations in parliament, from some of the minister's letters to the governor, and from the agents of the province in England to the general court. But the opposition was so decided and so general in the colonies against the stamp act, and the agents and friends of Massachusetts were so active in remonstrating against it, that early in the winter of 1766, it was made a question, whether it would not be both just and politic to repeal it. The proposition was received with no favor at first; but various considerations united to produce an opinion for the policy of withdrawing it. It was admitted to be a novel measure, even if just and constitutional ; for it was found, “ that it had not been the practice of England to lay internal taxes on her dominions which were not represented”-and “that the statute book abounded with judgments of parliament, that internal taxes ought not to be laid without consent of parliament, or the representation of that part of the kingdom which paid. And some apprehended serious resistance from the colonies, should attempts be made by ministers to enforce the law.Many able statesmen in parliament spoke earnestly for repealing the act, and against the justice of passing it at first; among whom were Mr. Pitt, Mr. Pownall, who had been governor of the province, the dukes of Newcastle, of Grafton, and of Richmond, the lord high chancellor, and the chancellor of the exchequer. Mr Pitt said, “this kingdom has no right to tax the colonies ! We give and grant to his majesty, the property of his subjects in America ! It is an absurdity. The commons of America have always been in the exercise of this constitutional right of granting their own money; and they would have been slaves, if they had not enjoyed it."

If the repeal of the stamp act had not been coupled with an offensive and alarming declaration, that the parliament of England had a right to bind the colonies in all cases whatever, the measure would have given entire and universal satisfaction. But, while relief from an actual burden gave great joy to the common people, and all classes rejoiced in the event, the more intelligent patriots received it with distrust and anxiety, because the principle, against which they had been contending, was avowed and asserted, and was to operate, on future occasions, to the prejudice of their rights and liberties, as the will of the administration might dictate. After the stamp act was withdrawn, which they had prayed might be done, still to complain might be construed against them; and to acquiesce in silence in the sentiment advanced, would be wrong, and might soon produce most arbitrary measures. The governor took advantage of the occasion to tell the house, “that he presumed they were sat

isfied and grateful; and if any should complain, they must be deemed of a factious spirit, and of very bad tempers.

The chief cause of this reflection from the governor on the house was their omitting to elect such cođnsellors as were most agreeable to him; and which he chose to construe into an insult on the king as well as himself, and even “ as having a tendency to overthrow the government of the province.” The persons, who had been several previous year's chosen into the council, and left out in May 1766, were Mr. Hutchinson, (the lieutenant governor,) secretary Oliver, and judges Oliver and Trowbridge. The three first had become very unpopular, from the belief that they had favored the stamp act, and approved the plan of raising a revenue in the province by internal taxes for the treasury in England, or for high salaries to officers of the crown, and of a military force to sustain the custom-house officers in their oppressions. The house expressed their surprise, that the governor should consider their conduct in this respect so improper and dangerous ; they said, “it was their right to elect, and it was most unexpected to be censured for a legal and constitutional act. They believed they had chosen able and faithful men, and they had no doubt they would take good care of the interests of the province. The persons not elected, who the governor thought necessary to the safety and honor of the colony, had other employment and other offices, which required all their time."*

The governor informed the house, at this time, that when he received any special instructions from the king, which he was daily expecting, he would communicate them. In reply, the house observed, “when your excellency shall be directed to speak to us with greater authority than your own, we shall be all attention ; being assured, that every thing coming from his majesty will be full of grace and truth.” Soon after, letters were received from the secretary of state, accompanied by an official notice of the repeal of the stamp act; in which reference was made to the declaration connected with it, of the right of parliament to legislate for the colonies in all cases; and requiring also that compensation be made to those who sustained fosses by the riots of the preceding year. The governor immediately sent the letters to the general court; and urged them to indemnify the persons whose property was destroyed.

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At this session, the governor had given his reto to the election of James Otis, as speaker - and he withheld his consent from the following persons, chosen counsellors ; Colonel Otis, Thomas Saunders, Samuel Dexter, and John Gerrish and of this, the house had equal right to complain, as he had of their passing by his fuvorites.

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