top of page

Reasons Why the British Colonies, in America, Should not be Charged with Internal Taxes..., by Thomas Fitch






In Behalf of the COLONY of CONNECTICUT.


By Gov. Thomas Fitch



BY the Constitution, Government and Laws of Great Britain, the English are a Free People. Their Freedom consists principally, if not wholly, in this general Privilege, that "NO LAWS CAN BE MADE OR ABROGATED, WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT, BY THEIR REPRESENTATIVES IN PARLIAMENT."

By the Common Law of England, every Commoner hath a Right not to be subjected to Laws made without his Consent, and because such Consent (by Reason of the great Inconvenience and Confusion attending Numbers, in such Transactions) cannot be given by every individual Man in Person, therefore is the Power of rendering such Consent, lodged in the Hands of Representatives, by them elected and chosen, for that Purpose. Their Subjection, then, to their Laws, is not forced, but voluntary.

As the chief Excellency of the British Constitution consists in the Subject's being bound only by such Laws to which they themselves Consent, as aforesaid; and as, in order to their enjoying that Right, they are (agreeable to the Constitution) necessarily vested with the Power of electing their Representatives; so this Right or Power is a fundamental Privilege, and so essential a Part of the Constitution, that, without it, the Subject cannot be said to be free: Therefore, if he be hindred from voting in such Election, or obstructed in the lawful Use of that real Right or Privilege, a Suit will lie for him at Common Law.

None of the Privileges included in those general Rights (which, in an especial Manner, denominate the British Subjects a free People) is maintained with greater Care and Circumspection, and of which they are more jealous, than this particular, known, approved and fixed one, that No Tax, Loan or Benevolence can be imposed on them, but with their own Consent, by their Representatives in Parliament. This Privilege is of ancient Date, and whenever it hath been encroached upon, has been claimed, struggled for, and recovered, as being essential for the Preservation of the Liberty, Property, and Freedom of the Subject: For if the Privilege of not being taxed without their Consent, be once taken from them, Liberty and Freedom are certainly gone with it. That Power which can tax as it shall think proper, may govern as it pleases; and those subjected to such Taxations and Government, must be far, very far from being a free People: They cannot, indeed, be said to enjoy even so much as the Shadow of English Liberties.

Upon these general and fundamental Principles, it is conceived that the Parliament (althô it hath a general Authority, a supreme Jurisdiction over all His Majesty's Subjects; yet, as it is also the high and safe Guardian of their Liberties) doth not extend its Taxations to such Parts of the British Dominions, as are not represented in that grand Legislature of the Nation; nor is it to be presumed that this wise and vigilant Body will permit such an essential Right, which is as the very Basis of the Constitution, in any Instance, ever to be violated. And upon the same Principles (as is apprehended) those subordinate Jurisdictions or Governments, which, by Distance, are so separated from Great Britain, that they are not and cannot be represented in Parliament, have always been permitted to have and enjoy Privileges similar to those of their Fellow-Subjects in the Mother Country, that is, of being subjected only to Taxations laid by the particular Legislatures, wherein they are or may be represented by Persons, by them elected for that Purpose, and, consequently of not being taxed without their Consent. Thus, in Ireland, Taxes are laid by the Parliament of that Kingdom; and, in the Colonies or Plantations in America, by the several Assemblies or Legislatures therein.

These being the essential Rights and Privileges of the British Constitution, founded on the Principles of the common Law, thô, in diverse Respects, particularly regulated by sundry Statutes, The King's Subjects in the Plantations, claim a general Right to the Substance and Constitutional Part of them, as their BirthRight and Inheritance. This claim is founded on such Considerations as follow, viz.

1st. The People in the Colonies and Plantations in America, are really, truly, and in every Respect, as much the King's Subjects, as those born and living in Great Britain are. "All Persons born in any Part of the King's Dominions, and within his Protection, are his Subjects; as all those born in Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the King's Plantations, or on the English Seas; who, by their Birth, owe such an inseparable Allegiance to the King, that they cannot, by any Act of theirs, renounce or transfer their Subjection to any foreign Prince." 4 BAC. 166.

2dly. All the King's Subjects, both in Great Britain and in the Colonies and Plantations in America, have Right to the same general and essential Privileges of the British Constitution, or those Privileges which denominate them to be a free People.

As Protection necessarily demands and binds to Subjection and Obedience to that Authority and those Laws whereby a People are protected; so Subjection and Obedience as necessarily and justly Intitle to Protection: These mutually imply, require, and support each other. The King, as political Head of his Subjects, stands equally related to them, in that Capacity, and is as really obligated to protect one Subject as well as another; and as he has an Interest in all his Subjects, so they have an Interest in him, regulated according to the political Constitution. Though the particular and formal Parts of the Governments of the Colonies may be various one from another, and diverse from that of Great Britain, and such Diversity of Forms or Establishments necessarily arise from their different Situations and Circumstances; yet both Law and Equity agree, in this general Principle that All the King's Subjects ought to be supported and protected in their Rights and Liberties, and especially in such as are fundamental and essential to their Freedom. The Subjects in Great Britain are under no greater or stronger Obligations of Submission and Obedience to the Crown, than those in the Colonies are; and surely, if the Colonists are under the same Obligations to Submission and Obedience with other their Fellow Subjects, it will not be easy to shew, that they have not the same Right to be protected and secured in the Enjoyment of every just and legal Privilege.

Though the Subjects, in the Colonies, are situate at a great Distance from their Mother Country, and, for that Reason, cannot participate in the general Legislature of the Nation, nor enjoy some particular formal Immunities possessed by those at Home; yet, as they settled, at this Distance, by Royal Licence and under national Encouragements, and thereby enlarged the British Dominions and Commerce, which add Riches and Strength to the Nation; and as they brought with them, and constantly claimed, the general Principles, those fundamental Principles, which contain the Essence and Spirit of the common Law of the Nation; it may not be justly said they have lost their Birth-Right, by such their Removal into America; for to suppose that those Settlements, that the Performance of such important and public Services, should be prejudicial to the Claim of the Colonies to the general Privileges of British Subjects, would be inconsistent both with Law and Reason, would naturally lead to unjust and absurd Conclusions, inasmuch as those public national Advantages would not have been promoted, unless some of the King's Subjects had planted, settled and dwelt in his Colonies abroad: And yet, that such planting, settling and living, should subject the Inhabitants to the Loss of their essential Rights as Englishmen, would be to reward great, public and meritorious Services with great and unspeakable Losses and Disadvantages: And how inconsistent such Measures and Principles are with the Honour and Justice of the British Crown and Government, may well deserve Consideration. It therefore seems apparent that the King's Subjects in the Plantations have a Right, and that it is for the Honour of the Crown and the Law, that they should have a Right, to the general and essential Privileges of the British Constitution, as well as the Rest of their Fellow-Subjects. And with Regard to the Colony of Connecticut, in particular, there can be on Question of its having such Right, as these general Privileges and Immunities are fully and explicitly granted and declared to belong to them, by the Royal Charter of Incorporation given to the said Colony by King Charles the Second, in the fourteenth Year of his Reign, in which is contained this Paragraph, viz.

And further Our Will and Pleasure is, and We Do, for Us, Our Heirs and Successors, Ordain, Declare and Grant, unto the said Governor and Company, and their Successors, that all and every the Subjects of Us, Our Heirs or Successors, which shall go to inhabit within the said Colony; and every of their Children which shall happen to be born there, or on the Seas in going thither or returning from thence, shall have and enjoy all Liberties and Immunities of free and natural Subjects, within any of the Dominions of Us, Our Heirs or Successors, to all Intents, Constructions and Purposes whatsoever, as if they, and every of them, were born within the Realm of England.

 Now, whether these Words are to be understood only as declarative of the Principles of the ancient Common Law of England, and of the common Rights of Englishmen, settled by Royal Licence, and under the Protection of the Crown, in a Colony or Plantation abroad, and so evidential of the Rights and Immunities belonging to all the King's Subjects in America; or whether they are to be consider'd as a Grant and Confirmation of such Privileges and Immunities to His Majesty's Subjects of the Colony of Connecticut in particular, they equally evince (as far as a Royal Declaration and Grant can operate to that Purpose) the Truth of what is here pleaded for, so far as respects the People of the said Colony. Indeed these Words (on the general Principles of the Common Law) ought (as is apprehend) to be construed as containing a full Declaration of the Rights of the Subject, and in order to remove all Doubts about the same, a Confirmation of them is annexed to or joined, therewith. It may also be further observed, that by this Paragraph can't be meant or intended that the King's Subjects, within all his Dominions, should have or be governed by the same particular and formal Laws or Regulations, because their Situations are in distant Parts of the World, and their Circumstances are so widely different, that the same particular Establishments and formal Regulations, which in one Place might be good and wholesome for the People, in another would be unwholesome, prejudicial, and by no Means answer the End of Laws: But this Declaration and Confirmation denotes and imports (as is conceived) that all those general and essential Rights which the free and natural Subjects in the Mother Country are possessed of, and vested with, by Virtue of the main, leading, and fundamental Principles of the Common Law of Constitution of the Realm, the King's Subjects, in the said Colony of Connecticut, shall have and enjoy, to all Intents, Constructions and Purposes whatsoever, that is, in such Plenitude as always to be, and ever to be treated as, free and natural Subjects.

3dly. In order that the King's Subjects in the Colonies and Plantations in America, might have and enjoy the like Liberties and Immunities as other their Fellow-Subjects are favoured with, it was and is necessary the Colonies should be vested with the Authority and Power of Legislation; and this they have accordingly assumed and exercised, from their first regular Settlement, down to this Time, and have been constantly owned and acknowledged therein, treated as having such Authority, and protected in the same by the Crown and the supreme Legislature of the Nation. Those Corporations, which, by their Situation and Circumstances, are privileged with the Right of electing their Representatives to bear a proportionable Part in the general Legislature of the Nation, althô they may be vested with Authority to make By Laws and Regulations, within their own Jurisdictions, agreeable to the Bounds and Limits of the Charters which institute and give them Existence, indeed are, and ought to be, immediately subject to the Laws, Orders, and Taxes of such general Legislature, as well as others, and that even without being expressly named, for this obvious and solid Reason, because they are legally represented therein: But with Regard to those Corporations or Governments, which, by their Distance and Situation, have no possible Opportunity of such a Representation, the Case is far otherwise. Whenever, therefore, Acts are formed by the supreme Legislature, that are, in any Respect, to extend to the Governments abroad, they are made to be so extended by express Words; and even such as are so extended to Subjects who are not admitted a Representation, or to bear a Part in the Legislation, may not improperly be said to be sovereign Acts, or Acts supported by the sovereign Dominion of the Makers of them. And as the Exercise of such sovereign Authority may be said (as is humbly conceived) to be, in some Measure an Exception from the general Rule by which British Subjects (according to the Constitution) are governed, it is most justly to be presumed and relied upon that the supreme Guardians of the Liberties of the Subjects, will never extend that Authority further than may be done without depriving any of the King's Subjects of those Privileges which are essential to their Liberty and Freedom, or leave them in Possession of such Rights and Liberties. It is a clear Point that the Colonies may not, they cannot, be represented in Parliament; and if they are not vested with legislative Authority within themselves, where they may be represented by Persons of their own electing, it is plain they will not be represented in any Legislature at all, and, consequently, if they are subjected to any Laws, it must be to such as they have never consented to either by themselves or any Representatives, which will be directly contrary to that before-mentioned fundamental Principle of the British Constitution, that "NO LAWS CAN BE MADE Or ABROGATED, WITHOUT THE CONSENT OF THE PEOPLE, BY THEIR REPRESENTATIVES." It therefore appears that for the Crown to govern the Colonies and Plantations abroad, by and with the Consent of the People represented in Assemblies or legislative Bodies, is properly and truly to govern them agreeable to the British Constitution of Government; and althô this may not, in every Form and Manner, be exactly similar to the Government at Home, yet, as near as the different Situation and Circumstances admit will it agree with the fundamental Principles thereof. That the Colony of Connecticut (agreeable to these general Principles) is vested with such a legislative Authority, appears by their Charter, full to that Effect. By this Charter the Colony are impowered to meet in a general Assembly, consisting of a Governor or Deputy-Governor, Assistants and Deputies, annually to be chosen by the Freemen: And such Assembly is vested with Authority, from Time to Time, to make, ordain and establish all Manner of wholesome and reasonable Laws, Statutes and Ordinances, Directions and Instructions, not contrary to the Laws of the Realm of England; and every Officer, appointed for putting such Laws, Ordinances, &c. from Time to Time, into due Execution, is sufficiently warranted and discharged against the King's Majesty, his Heirs and Successors, by a special Clause, in the same Charter, express to that Purpose. By this Royal Patent it is therefore evident, that a full Power of Legislation is granted to the Colony, limitted with a Restriction that they conform, or are not to act contrary to the general Principles of the Laws of the Nation, and consequently, as when they exceed the Bounds and Limits, prescribed in the Charter, their Acts will be void, so, when they conform and regulate their Acts agreeable to the Intent and Meaning of it, their Acts may properly be said to have the Royal Approbation and Assent. And these Powers, Rights and Privileges the Colony has been in Possession of for more than a Century past. This Power of Legislation necessarily includes in it, an Authority to impose Taxes or Duties upon the People for the Support of Government and for the Protection and Defence of the Inhabitants; as, without such Authority, the general Right of Legislation would be of no Avail to them. These Privileges and Immunities, these Powers and Authorities, the Colony claims, not only in Vertue of their Right to the general Principles of the British Constitution, and by Force of the Royal Declaration and Grant in their Favour, but also as having been in the Possession, Enjoyment and Exercise, of them for so long a Time, and constantly owned, acknowledged and allowed to be just in the Claim and Use thereof, by the Crown, the Ministry, and the Parliament; as may evidently be shewn by Royal Instructions, many Letters and Acts of Parliament, all supposing and being predicated upon the Colony's having and justly exercising these Privileges, Powers and Authorities: And what better Foundation for, or greater Evidence of, such Rights can be demanded or produced, is certainly difficult to be imagined.

These Points being thus rendered so clear and evident, may it not thence be very justly inferred,

4thly. That charging Stamp Duties, or other internal Taxes, on the Colonies, in America, by parliamentary Authority, will be an Infringment of the formentioned Rights and Privileges, and deprive the Colonists of their Freedom and Inheritance, so far as such Taxations extend? The charging a Tax on any particular Part of the Subject's Estates in the Plantations, by Authority of Parliament, will doubtless be found Nothing less than taking from them a Part of their Estates on the sole Consideration of their being able to bear it, or of having a Sufficiency left notwithstanding. It must certainly be admitted that the People thus charged, do not consent, nor have any Opportunity so to do. An express Consent, either by themselves or Representatives, can by no Means be pretended, neither can their Consent be argued from Implication, as their Subjection and Allegiance to the Crown, are supposed to be according to the Tenor of the Laws of the Nation, for althô the King is stiled the Head of the Common Wealth, Supreme Governor, Parens Patriae, &c. yet is he still to make the Law of the Land the Rule of his Government, that being the Measure as well of his Power as of the Subjects Obedience; for as the Law asserts, maintains and provides for the Safety of the King's Royal Person, Crown and Dignity, and all his just Rights, Revenues, Powers and Prerogatives, so it likewise declares and asserts the Rights and Liberties of the Subject. [4 Bac. 149.] Therefore, in this Case, as there can be no other implied Consent than what the general Principles of the Law or Constitution implies, or what is included in the Obligations to Submission and Obedience to Laws. And as the general, fundamental Principles of the British Constitution or Laws, which the Americans claim the Privilege of, are quite the Reverse of such Implications, and really imply and suppose the Contrary, it follows that charging such Taxes will be to take Part of their Estates from the People without their Consent, either expressed or implied; it can't be said such Charging would be founded on Contract, as it might be where the Subjects are represented in the Legislature; neither may it be founded on a Forfeiture, as there is no Pretence of that Kind in these Cases; surely, then, there can be no Right either to demand or receive a Man's Estate, where both these are wanting.

If these internal Taxations take Place, and the Principles upon which they must be founded, are adopted and carried into Execution, the Colonies will have no more than a Shew of Legislation left, nor the King's Subjects in them, any more than the Shadow of true English Liberty; for the same Principles which will justify such a Tax of a Penny, will warrant a Tax of a Pound, an hundred, or a thousand Pounds, and so on without Limitation; and if they will warrant a Tax on one Article, they will support one on as many Particulars as shall be thought necessary to raise any Sum proposed. And all such Subjections, Burthens, and Deprivations, if they take Place with Respect to the King's Subjects abroad, will be without their Consent, without their having Opportunity to be represented, or to shew their Ability, Disability, or Circumstances. They will no longer enjoy that fundamental Privilege of Englishmen, whereby, in special, they are denominated a free People. The legislative Authority of the Colonies, will, in Part, actually be cut off, a Part of the same will be taken out of their own Assemblies, even such Part as they have enjoyed so long, and esteem most dear; nay, may it not be truly said, in this Case, that the Assemblies in the Colonies will have left no other Power or Authority, and the People no other Freedom, Estates, or Privileges, than what may be called a Tenancy at Will? that they have exchanged, or rather lost, those Privileges and Rights, which, according to the national Constitution, were their Birth-Right and Inheritance, for such a disagreeable Tenancy? Will not such Determinations amount to plain Declarations, to the Colonies, that althô they have enjoyed those Immunities and Privileges heretofore, and been acknowledged and encouraged in the Possession and Use of them, yet now they must expect, for Reasons of State, for some public Utility, to part with them, and be brought under a Kind of Subjection not far from the very Reverse of that Freedom they justly claim and so highly value? May it not be enquired what Reasons are or may be assigned for so different Treatment of the Subjects of the same Most Gracious King, of the same general State or Community? May it not, upon the whole, be concluded, that charging Stamp Duties, or other internal Duties, by Authority of Parliament, as has been mentioned, will be such an Infringment of the Rights, Privileges and Authorities of the Colonies, that it may be humbly and firmly trusted, and even relied upon, that the supreme Guardians of the Liberties of the Subject, will not suffer the same to be done, and will not only protect them in the Enjoyment of their just Rights, but treat them with great Tenderness, Indulgence and Favour?


Perhaps it may be here objected, that these Principles, if allowed, will prove too much, as the Parliament, by its supreme Dominion, has a Superintendancy over all the Colonies and Plantations abroad, and Right to govern and controul them as shall be thought best, and most conducive to the general Good of the Whole; and, accordingly hath passed divers Acts for regulating their Trade and Navigation, and, in other Respects, directed their Conduct, limitted the Exercise of their Authorities, &c.


To Objections and Observations of this Kind, it may be answered, that as the Parliament of Great Britain is most certainly vested with the supreme Authority of the Nation, and its Jurisdiction and Power most capacious and transcendent, the Colonies will be far, very far from urging or even attempting any Thing in Derogation of the Power or Authority of that august Assembly, or pretending to prescribe Bounds or Limits to the Exercise of their Dominion; nothing in the foregoing Observations besure, is intended, by way of Objection, but that the Crown by its Prerogative, or the Parliament by its supreme and general Jurisdiction, may justly order and do some Things, which may affect the Property of the American Subjects, in a Way which, in some Sense, may be said to be independent upon or without the Will or Consent of the People, as by Regulations of Trade and Commerce and the like; and by general Orders relative to and Restrictions of their Conduct for the Good of the Whole: For as the Colonies are so many Governments independent on each other, or not subjected the one to the other, they can only establish Regulations within and for themselves respectively; and as they are all subordinate to and dependent upon the Mother Country, and Propriety, Conveniency and even Necessity require that they should be subject to some General Superintendancy and Controul, in order that the general Course of their Trade and Business should be so uniform as to center in some general national Interest, it becomes plainly expedient that there should be some supreme Director over all His Majesty's Dominions; and this Character and Authority, all Men must acknowledge and allow, properly belong to the British Parliament. Against the Exercise of such general Jurisdiction, for the common Interest and Advantage of the Mother Country and of the Plantations, collectively taken, the before mentioned Observations are in no Measure intended; for it is humbly conceived, that the Subjects in the Colonies, may enjoy their Rights, Privileges and Properties, as Englishmen, and yet, for political Reasons, be restrained from some particular Correspondence or Branches of Trade and Commerce, or may be subjected therein to such Duties, Charges and Regulations, as the supreme Power may judge proper to establish as so many Conditions of enjoying such Trade. Reasons of State may render it expedient to prohibit some Branches of Trade and to burden others as aforesaid. And as such Regulations will doubtless appear, upon Examination, rather to be a preventing the Subject from acquiring Property, than taking it from him, after it is legally become his own, the Objections relative to such Establishment, ought to be only against those that may be supposed unequal, unprofitable, or not expedient, the Determination of which must nevertheless be left to the supreme Authority of the Nation. What therefore is designed to be urged from these general Principles of the British Constitution, is, that the Legislatures of the Colonies ought to be left entire, and that His Majesty's good Subjects in them should be permitted the continued Enjoyment of their essential Rights, Immunities and Privileges, which will not, as is supposed, by any Means be the Case, if the internal Taxations before mentioned should take Place. But if Restrictions on Navigation, Commerce, or other external Regulations only are established, the internal Government, Powers of taxing for its Support, an Exemption from being taxed without Consent, and other Immunities, which legally belong to the Subjects of each Colony, agreeable to their own particular Constitutions, will be and continue in the Substance of them whole and entire; Life, Liberty and Property, in the true Use of the Terms, will then remain secure and untouched.


On this Distinction it may perhaps be further said, by Way of Objection, that a Stamp Duty differs from a Tax, as it will oblige the Subjects only to pay for Paper, Parchment, &c. which they are at Liberty to use or not to use, at Pleasure; and so, if they chuse to make use of it, they voluntarily submit to the Charge, and can't be said to be taxed without their Consent.


This by no Means will obviate the Arguments; for a Regulation which necessarily obliges a Man to part with any certain Portion of his Estate, amounts to the same Thing as the actual taking such Portion from him. It must be supposed that the People in America will buy and fell their Lands, nay, in a Multitude of Instances, they would not know how to subsist without such Dispositions: They will also be necessitated to give and take Obligations, and to use Paper for various other Purposes, or there will be of Course, so great a Stagnation of Business as almost to bring on a Dissolution of their civil and political Existence. These Things will be found as necessary as the Use of Agriculture itself. They will therefore be as certainly taxed by a Duty charged on the Transfer of their Lands, as by a Tax laid directly on the Land itself. If Lands were to be taxed, it might as well be said, People are not obliged to have Lands (and indeed some have none) so that such as do acquire them, voluntarily submit to the Charge, which is really saying Nothing to the Purpose, for the Use and Improvement of Lands Barter, and Transmutation of Property are as necessary in civilized Countries, as Food and Raiment are to the Body natural. Indeed the Supposition of the Necessity and certain Use of the Articles to be charged, can be the only Foundation to render a Revenue arising therefrom worthy of Notice, as otherwise the Effect would be altogether precarious.

5thly. Another Reason offered as an Objection against charging Stamp Duties, &c. in the Colonies, may be drawn from the Consequence of such a Measure, as it is most probable, if not certain, it will, in the Event, prove prejudicial to Great Britain itself. The Colonies and Plantations in America are, indeed, of great Importance to their Mother Country and an Interest worthy of her most tender Regard: The more they prosper and increase in Number, Riches and Commerce, the greater will be the Advantage not only to them but also to the Nation at Home. In the Colonies there is a Vent for and a Consumption of almost all Sorts of British Manufactures, and of many and various Kinds of Goods of the Produce of other Countries, first imported into Britain and from thence brought into the Plantations, whereby the Revenue of the Crown and Wealth of the Nation are much encreased, at the Expence of the Colonies; for these Goods the Colonies make Remittances with what Monies they are able to collect, in a Variety of their own Produce, and by circular Trade; and taking the whole Trade together, it amounts, to a very great Sum, the Profits of which in general center in Great Britain. If the Plantations are encouraged and prosper, this will be an increasing Interest and become more and more of Importance; but if Measures should be taken, which, in Regard to them, would have a natural Tendency to abate their Vigour, Spirit and Industry, or to turn them into some other Channel, to supply the Necessaries of Life, what can be expected but a Decrease of the Colonies Wealth and Prosperity, and consequently a Decay of an important national Interest. And as, on the one Hand, depriving the Colonies of Part of their Powers and Privileges and rendering the Tenures of them and of their Liberties and Properties precarious, as by charging Stamp Duties or other internal Taxes upon them by Act of Parliament, &c. will naturally produce that unhappy Effect of causing the Colonies to languish and decrease; so, on the other Hand, upholding and continuing the Freedom of their Governments, maintaining their Authority, their Laws, securing their Properties, considering and treating their Privileges and Immunities as Matters too sacred to be violated, will naturally tend to invigorate, enliven and encourage the People, and keep up in them a Spirit of Industry in all Kinds of Dealing and Business, and of Emulation in the Service of their Mother Country, whereby they will become more able and zealous to promote the national Interest. This will doubtless be found almost universally to be the Case of a People where they enjoy Liberty, and their Lives, Properties and Privileges are secure, and the Reverse of it as generally to be the Consequence of a contrary Treatment; for what Encouragement hath the Merchant to expose his Interest to Chances and Dangers, the Farmer, the Mechanic and the common Labourer to weary themselves in their fatiguing toilsome Employments, if, after all, Part of their Estates (and how great a Part is to them altogether uncertain) may be taken from them, and in such Ways and Manner as they have heretofore been led to think are inconsistent with their essential Rights and Liberties? Surely then, if subjecting the Colonies to Burdens which will discourage and abate their Industry, will eventually prove disadvantageous to the Mother Country, and the charging of Stamp Duties or other internal Taxes on them, will, in the End, have that Effect (as has been endeavoured to be shewn and evinced) the taking such a Measure must be inconsistent with good Policy and the true Interest of the Nation.

6thly. Furthermore to enforce the Objections against Stamp Duties or other internal Taxations, it is conceived that a summary Representation of the Settlement, special Services and Circumstances of the Colony of Connecticut, may be here, with great Propriety adduced, from whence very cogent Reasons may be drawn in their Favour.

The first Settlers of the Colony, who were derived from England, their native Country, planted here in the Year 1636, and having purchased their Lands, or rather a Right of Pre-emption of the Crown, or the King's Patentees, they were obliged to Purchase the greatest Part of them again of the native Claimers, Possessors, and Proprietors of the Country, and some other Part was obtained at a much dearer Rate, which was by Conquest; for the People of these new Settlements, scarce of one Year's Date, and very small, were forced, for the Defence of their Lives and those Settlements, which in a fair and equitable Manner they had made, to enter into a War with the principal Tribe of Indians, then in this Part of the Country, who rose with all their barbarous, insiduous, crafty Force and Cruelty to rout these new Settlers out of the Country, as the first Effort of their set and declared Design to break up and prevent the Settlement of New-England. Against this numerous and powerful Tribe, enraged with Jealousy at the English, these Planters, who were able to raise but about fourscore Men, took up Arms, and, by the Smiles of Heaven, in sundry severe Conflicts, overthrew, conquered and effectually subdued these their crafty, bloody and inveterate Enemies. And as this was the first Indian War in New-England, and issued so Successfully on the Part of the English, whose Courage, Force and Conduct in War now became the Dread and Terror of the Natives throughout the Land, it laid a Foundation for Tranquility in general for almost forty Years after, which gave a most favourable Opportunity for the Settlements in the Country to multiply and increase in Strength and Vigour.

The Plantation and Settlement of the Colony, by the Year 1661, being considerably increased, they made Application to the Crown for a Charter of Incorporation, with Powers of Government, founded on the general Principles of the English, now British Constitution, that is to say, that they might be governed with the Consent of the People represented in an Assembly composed of Members elected for that Purpose; and, in Consequence of such Application, King Charles the Second, in the 14th Year of his Reign, granted his Royal Charter to the said Colony, the Preamble of which is worthy of special Notice, as in it are these Words. viz.

"Whereas, by the several Navigations, Discoveries; and successful Plantations, diverse of our loving Subjects of this our Realm of England,  several Lands, Islands, Places, Colonies, and Plantations have been obtained and settled in that Part of the Continent of America Called New-England, and thereby the Trade and Commerce there hath been of late Years much increased: And whereas we have been informed, by the humble Petition of our trusty and well-beloved John Winthrop, John Mason, &c. being Persons principally interested in our Colony or Plantation of Connecticut in New-England, that the same Colony, or the greatest Part thereof, was purchased and obtained for great and valuable Considerations, and some other Part thereof gained by Conquest and with much Difficulty and at the only Endeavours, Expence and Charges of them and their Associates and those under whom they claim, subdued and improved, and thereby become a considerable Enlargement and Addition to our Dominions and Interest there: Now, know ye, that IN CONSIDERATION THEREOF," &c.

Hereby it appears that this Charter was granted upon valuable Considerations, which adds Weight and Strength to the Title on which the Claim of the Colony to the Rights, Immunities, and Franchises therein granted and confirmed are founded, for here are the Considerations of large Sums of Money advanced, Conquest made at the Expence of the Blood and Treasure of the Planters, eminent publick national Services performed and to be performed, and all to the Enlargement of the King's Dominions and for the Increase of the national Commerce, which the Charter is a clear and full Evidence of. The Powers and Privileges granted by this Charter were properly the Purchase of the People, and the grantting was an Instance of Royal Justice to them, thô the Grace and Favour of the Crown assuredly ought to be and hath been at all Times humbly and gratefully acknowledged therein. Therefore as there really were valuable Considerations which were proper Foundations for such a Grant, it was doubtless judged to be for the Honour of the Crown to grant the Powers of Government with such ample and beneficial Immunities and Privileges as are allowed and given in and by the Charter aforesaid; and these the People indeed look upon as the Purchase of their Ancestors, as a gracious and royal Reward of the Merit and Services of their Forefathers, and as one of the best Inheritances they left to their Children; whether therefore it can be consistent with Law of Equity they should be deprived of such an Inheritance, or any Part thereof, may be worthy of serious Consideration: For if the Right of a single Person to vote in the Election of a Member of Parliament be so sacred in the Eye of the Law, that to deprive him of it, entitles to an Action at Common Law for his Damages and the Violation of his Privileges, as was adjudged in the House of Lords, in the Case of Ashby and White, how sacred then ought the Powers, Privileges and Immunities of a whole Colony of loyal People, of all the Freemen in it, to be look'd upon and considered? And of what Importance is it they should be defended and protected therein? As the Enjoyment of such Privileges and Liberties, of such a free Constitution of Government naturally tends to promote Loyalty and Obedience in a People, so the Inhabitants of the Colony of Connecticut (without arrogating) may, with the strictest Veracity, say and insist, that none of the Colonies in the British Dominions, have approved themselves more loyal and obedient to the King's Majesty, or more forward and zealous for promoting his Service, then they have constantly done. These Principles of Loyalty and Zeal, the natural Result of Liberty and Freedom, have influenced the Colony to exert itself with a becoming vigorous Spirit and Resolution in public and benevolent Services, whenever they have been called upon or applied to for that Purpose. It hath not only defended itself in its infant State against the violent Insurrections of the Indians who formerly lived near or dwelt among them, and at all Times down to the present Day, against all its Enemies, but also, as it increased in Numbers and Strength, hath from Time to Time, afforded Aid, Succour and Relief to the neighbouring Colonies. It is found, by ancient, Memorials, that the Colony of Connecticut united with, and at large Expence and to most remarkable Effect, assisted the other Colonies in carrying on the famous Indian War called the Narraganset War, which raged about the Year 1675, when (after a shocking Destruction of the English People, their infant Towns and Settlements) those Barbarians were totally subdued, and the distressed Country thereby saved from impending Ruin.

From the Year 1688 to about 1695, Connecticut, at sundry Times and as Occasions required, furnished expeditious Aid and Succour to the Province of New-York, for the Defence and Protection of Albany and other Places, then exposed to frequent Irruptions of the French and Indians; in which Service, at the several Times of their Distress, were employ'd about five Hundred Men, at the Charge and Expence of the Colony, the Amount whereof appears to be about five Thousand Pounds. Within the same Times, Help and Relief were repeatedly raised and sent forward, with great Expedition, for the Defence of the Frontiers in the County of Hampshire, in the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay, which often happily tended to the Safety, Encouragement and Support of the People there, and was gratefully acknowledged and certified by some of the principle Men in those Parts. The Expence of these Services to the Colony of Connecticut (besides the Loss of Lives in several Encounters) amounted to near two Thousand Pounds.

It appears also that the Colony of Connecticut, in the Years 1703, 4, 5, and 6, on repeated Alarms, Occasioned by Irruptions of the Enemy, on the Frontier Towns and Places in the Province of the Massachusetts-Bay, raised and sent Numbers of Men for the Relief, Succour and Defence of the Inhabitants in those Parts. These Men were generally sent on Horseback for the Sake of Expedition, the Occasions being urgent, thô at some Times on Foot. And as those Alarms were frequent, the Succours were sent in about twenty several Parties succeeding one another. The Number of Men employed in those Services was about seventeen Hundred and of Horse near nine Hundred. And the total Expence occasioned thereby to the Colony (as may be still shewn by the Accounts thereof) amounted to near eleven Thousand Pounds. The Currency in those Times was about three-fourths the Value of Sterling Money. All these Services were voluntarily performed by the small Colony of Connecticut, for the Relief and Protection of their Fellow-Subjects in the other Colonies (one of which in particular was under the immediate Government of the Crown) without receiving either Money or any other Aid from the Crown, or from the neighbouring Provinces.

In the Expedition in 1710 against Port-Royal, now Annapolis, when it was taken from the French, and the costly disastrous Expeditions set on Foot against Canada in 1709 and 1711, the Colony of Connecticut bore a full Proportion of Expence and sustained a very great Loss of Men. And the Colony failed not likewise of bearing a large Share in that memorable Expedition formed by the New-England Governments against Cape-Breton, in 1745, when it was reduced to the Obedience of the British Crown. This was a seasonable an important Conquest, and will not be forgotten, while the principal Articles which served as a Basis for restoring the Peace to Europe that followed it, are had in Remembrance.

But the more recent Instances of the Loyalty, Zeal and Serviceableness of the Colony of Connecticut are such as follow.

In the Year 1755, when Forces were raised by the Northern Colonies for removing Encroachments made on His Majesty's Territories in America, by the French, Connecticut raised a Thousand Men for that Service, and also two Thousand more the same Year to reinforce the Army at Lake George, then apprehended too weak to withstand the Enemy. This Number was two or three Times the Proportion of Connecticut compared with some other Colonies concerned in that Expedition. In 1756 it raised two Thousand five Hundred Men, which was double the Number proposed by the King's Commander in Chief for the Colony's Proportion in the Service of that Year. This was done by the Colony as it was supposed the southern Colonies would fail of the Proportion allotted for them to raise; and left the Service should suffer, it exerted itself in such duplicate Proportion. In 1757, the Proportion demanded by His Majesty's Commander in Chief, for the Service of that Year, being fourteen Hundred Men, the Colony not only raised that Number, but also, on Intelligence of the Attack on Fort William Henry, speedily sent forward about five Thousand of the Militia, for the Relief of that Fortress and Protection of the Country, then in great Consternation in those Parts. And in 1758 an Expedition was set on Foot for the Reduction of Canada, and the Colonies being called upon by the Crown, to raise as many Men as the Number of their Inhabitants would admit of; and as it was apprehended that in Case of Success, an End would be put to the War in these Parts by that Year's Campaign, Connecticut exerted itself beyond all former Efforts, in Hopes of its being the finishing Stroke, and accordingly agreed to raise five Thousand Men, and actually had but few short of that Number in the Field. But as this important Design failed of Accomplishment at that Time, the Colony, by Royal Direction, was called upon strenuously to exert itself in the like Service, in 1759, and even until the End of the War. And as what hath been done by the Colonies, on that extraordinary Occasion, in 1758, seem'd constantly to be made the Rule of Demand upon them afterwards, the annual Requisition of the Crown proved exceeding heavy upon the Colony of Connecticut, for it had indeed exerted itself vastly beyond its Ability, and any just Proportion in that Year; yet nevertheless they agreed to raise the Number demanded in every succeeding Year of the War, being spirited, as far as possible to yield the strictest Obedience to the King's Commands, and determined to persevere in his Service with the utmost Efforts. And in the present Year 1764, the Colony hath raised upwards of two Hundred and fifty Men for the Annoyance of the Indians and Protection of His Majesty's Subjects in other Governments. These Troops are now out on Service at the Direction of the King's Commander in Chief in North-America.

In these Services, from the Year 1755 to the Year 1762 inclusive, the Expences of the Colony, over and above the parliamentary Grants (which have been received with the most sensible and humble Gratitude) amounts to upwards of four hundred thousand Pounds; the large Arrears of which Sum will remain a heavy distressing Burden upon the People for many Years to come. Moreover several Thousands of the hardiest and most able young Men, the Hope and Strength of the Farmers, have been destroyed, lost, and enervated in the many distant arduous Campaigns, during the Course of this terrible War. The Husbandary of the Country (its only Resource) has suffered and still suffers extremely hereby; and the Colony will not recover itself from these Disadvantages in a long Tract of Time. And althô, by the Success of the military Operations in America, large, extensive and most valuable Acquisitions have been made to the British Dominions, yet the Colony of Connecticut gains Nothing thereby, further than as it may be said to be concerned in the Common Cause and general Interest of the Whole. It had no Lands to recover or even to secure from the Enemy, as some other Governments had; it hath no immediate Trade with the Indians, nor will its Situation admit of any but what may, by some Individuals, be carried on through and so subject to the Controul of other Colonies. The Profits of this Trade have ever been mostly in the Hands of those whose Proimity gave them peculiar Advantages for it. Nay, instead of receiving particular Benefit by these Events, the Colony will rather suffer Disadvantage thereby, in the Emigration of its Inhabitants, already thinned, for Settlement of the vacant Lands in other Provinces, which are now secure from the Enemy who formerly annoyed them. Therefore Principles of Loyalty and Zeal for the King's Service, Principles of Benevolence, Humanity and Compassion for their Fellow-Subjects in Danger and Distress and the agreeable Prospect, a laudable Desire of enjoying Quiet and Peace, in Consequence of a general Tranquility in the Land, must be considered as the genuine Motives and Springs inducing the Colony of Connecticut, to exert itself in the Manner and to the Degrees before mentioned.

And now, when all these Things are duly considered and viewed in a proper Light, will it not be thought that the Colony has good Reason to hope and expect, in Return for and in Consequence of such Services, if not to be indulged with greater and more extensive Favours from the Crown and Nation, at least to be protected and secured in the full Enjoyment of the Rights and Privileges essential to the Freedom of Englishmen, instead of having those Rights curtailed or infringed, by charging on them a Stamp Duty, as proposed, or any other the like new and unprecedented Taxation.


Perhaps, after all that hath been offered, it will be objected by some that America ought, and is able to bear a just Proportion of the American Expence; and that as the Duty already charged will, they suppose, not be sufficient to defray that Expence, it becomes necessary to make Additions to the Duties already laid.


1st. In order to obviate and answer this Objection it may be necessary to enter a little into a Consideration of the Occasion and Nature of those Charges which, by some are denominated American Expences. That Expence which is occasioned merely for the Defence and Protection of the new Governments and Acquisitions, it is conceived ought not to be charged upon the Colonies in general, as it is truly no other than a national Interest, or an Interest of the particular new Governments or Acquisitions, and consequently ought, where it is not purely national, to be laid on those whose immediate Profit is advanced thereby. The old Colonies, especially New-England, were at the sole Charge of settling and defending themselves, and that they should now be compelled to contribute towards settling others, under much better Advantages in that Regard than they were, will not fail of being esteemed hard and injurious. If the Expence arises in defending and securing the Fur Trade and the Out-Posts requisite for carrying on the same, to oblige these Colonies which receive no immediate Advantage by it, to bear a proportionable Part of the Burden, will also be hard and unequal, and especially if that Trade is sufficiently profitable to support itself, if otherwise, why is there so much Care and mighty Attention constantly exercised towards it. If the Expence occurs in holding and protecting the new and large Acquisitions, wherefore should the Colonies bear that, when they have no Interest in them? they do indeed properly belong to the Crown, and will finally be disposed of and settled for the Benefit of the Crown and the Nation in general, and not for the Advantage of the Colonies in particular. But,

2dly. What America's proportionable Part in the American Expence will be, is somewhat uncertain and difficult to determine: And in order to form any tolerable Judgment in the Case, it will be necessary to consider the Wealth of the Colonies, compared with the Mother Country, their Number of Inhabitants, compared with the Extent of their own Country; the Nature of their Climates, in some of which the cold Seasons are of such long Continuance, as to occasion a Consumption of the greatest Part of their Produce, their Trade and Commerce, the Profits of which in general center in Great Britain; their Business, Advantages and Disadvantages and other Circumstances, such as their being, in a general Way, obliged to spend so great a Proportion of their Labour in clearing, fencing and preparing their Lands for Improvement; and that the Surplus of their Labour, in many Instances, is but very little and in some Nothing at all. The clear Profits therefore to the Colonies being so very inconsiderable, it must surely be found, on a just and reasonable Computation, that their Proportion of any general national Expence, if any Thing, will be very small. But,

3dly. If, notwithstanding, it shall be judged necessary (which is even a difficult Supposition) to make an Addition to the Charges on America, yet is it humbly conceived, for the Reasons already offered, it will not by any Means ever be thought proper or just in order to effect that Purpose, it should be done in a Way that shall be an Infringement on the Constitutions of the Colonies, or that will deprive the Subjects in them of some of those important Liberties and Privileges, which, as Englishmen and Freemen they so justly value, and have a legal and equitable Right to, as well as the Rest of their Fellow-Subjects. Revenues are never raised in Great Britain by a Violation of the Consitution or any Part of it, but the Liberties and Privileges of the Subjects are always saved and maintained in those Cases; and why the Americans should not value their Privileges at as high a Rate as their Fellow-Subjects in Great-Britain do theirs, and wherefore the same Justice is not due to the one as to the other, what sufficient Reasons can possibly be assigned? Therefore whatever may be done in this Matter, it is humbly trusted will surely be effected in such Manner as to leave the Legislatures of the Colonies entire, and the People in the full Possession and Enjoyment of their just Rights and Immunities. This, it is conceived, might be effected by a Duty (if thought necessary and proper) on the Importation of Negroes, and on the Fur Trade, &c. for althô that on Slaves may and doubtless will fall with most Weight where the greatest Numbers are imported, yet will none be charged thereby but such as voluntarily submit to it, and was such Importation lessened, which might indeed be some Disadvantage to a few Individuals, yet probably it would be attended with many salutary Effects, both with Respect to Great Britain and her Colonies in general. And as a principle Article of the Expence in America must be for protecting and securing the Fur Trade, what good Reasons can be adduced wherefore that Trade should not be so charged as to support itself? for (as hath been already hinted) if it will not bear this Charge, why is it still held and maintained at such great Expence?

Having thus shewn that the English are a free People; that their Freedom consists in these general Privileges, that No Laws can be made or abrogated without their Consent by Representatives, and for that Purpose have Right to elect their Representatives; that the American Colonists are as really the King's Subjects, as loyal, and have as much Right to the general and fundamental Privileges of the British Constitution, and to Protection in the Enjoyment thereof, as the Rest of their Fellow Subjects in the Mother Country; that, in Consequence hereof the Colonies and Plantations in America, according to the general Principles of the national Constitution, are vested with Authority of Legislation, and have Right to be represented in their Assemblies, in whom that Authority is lodged, and with whose Consent they are to be governed by the Crown; that for the Crown to govern these Colonies and Plantations by and with the Consent of the People in such legislative Assemblies, is properly and truly to govern them agreeable to the national Constitution, or that it is as conformable to the fundamental Principles of the British Government that the Subjects in the Colonies should be represented in Assemblies or legislative Bodies, as that the Subjects in Great Britain should be represented in Parliament or the supreme Legislature of the Nation, and that the Government of the Subjects, with the Consent of their respective Representatives, is founded on the same general and essential Principles of Liberty: That charging Stamp Duties, or internal Taxes on the Colony, by Authority of Parliament will be inconsistent with those Authorities and Privileges which the Colonies, and the People in them legally enjoy, and have, with the Approbation of the Supreme Power of the Nation, been in the Use and Possession of for a long Course of Years; as also the Probability that such Measures will, in the Event, prove prejudicial to the national Interest as well as hurtful to the Colonies, together with some Matters and Circumstances more directly and peculiarly in Favour of the Colony of Connecticut, and the especial public and benevolent Services performed by it on many Occasions, which may justly merit some favourable Considerations; and answered such Objections as might probably be made against the Tenor of the Reasonings and Representations herein offered and laid down; it is now concluded, that on the Account of these and such other weighty Reasons as may occur, a British Parliament whose Design is to keep up that Constitution, Support the Honour and Prerogative of the Crown, and maintain the Privileges of the People, will have a tender Regard for the Rights and Immunities of the King's Subjects in the American Colonies, and charge no internal Taxations upon them without their Consent.

7 views0 comments

Related Posts

FDR's Fireside Chat #21 On Sacrifice

April 28, 1942 My fellow Americans: It is nearly five months since we were attacked at Pearl Harbor. For the two years prior to that attack this country had been gearing itself up to a high level of p

FDR's Fireside Chat #20 On the Progress of the War

My fellow Americans: Washington's Birthday is a most appropriate occasion for us to talk with each other about things as they are today and things as we know they shall be in the future. For eight yea


Rated 0 out of 5 stars.
No ratings yet

Add a rating
bottom of page