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In the same year, in a year hitherto disastrous to mankind, by the Portuguese was discovered the passage of the Indies, and by the Spaniards the coast of America. The nations of Europe were fired with boundless expectations, and the discoverers pursuing their enterprise, made conquests in both hemispheres of wide extent. But the adventurers were not contented with plunder; though they took gold and silver to themselves, they seized islands and kingdoms in the name of their sovereigns. When a new region was gained, a governor was appointed by that power which had given the commission to the conqueror; nor have I met with any European but Stukeley of London, that formed a design of exalting himself in the newly found countries to independent dominion.
To secure a conquest, it was always necessary to plant a colony, and territories thus occupied and set- tled were rightly considered as mere extensions or processes of empire; as ramifications which, by the circulation of one public interest, communicated with the original source of dominion, and which were kept flourishing and spreading by the radical vigour of the mother-country.
The colonies of England differ no otherwise from those of other nations, than as the English constitution differs from theirs. All government is ultimately and essentially absolute, but subordinate societies may have more immunities, or individuals greater liberty, as the operations of government are differently conducted. An Englishman in the common course of life and action feels no restraint. An English colony has very liberal powers of regulating its own manners and adjusting its own affairs. But an English individual may by the supreme authority be deprived of liberty, and a
colony divested of its powers, for reasons of which that authority is the only judge.
In sovereignty there are no gradations. There may be limited royalty, there may be limited consulship; but there can be no limited government. There must in every society be some power or other from which there is no appeal, which admits no restrictions, which pervades the whole mass of the community, regulates and adjusts all subordination, enacts laws or repeals them, erects or annuls judicatures, extends or .contracts privileges, exempt itself from question or controul, and bounded only by physical necessity.
By this power, wherever it subsists, all legislation and jurisdiction is animated and maintained. From this all legal rights are emanations, which, whether equitable or not, may be legally recalled. It is not infallible, for it may do wrong; but it is irresistible, for, it can be resisted only by rebellion, by an act which makes it questionable what shall be thenceforward the supreme power.
An English colony is a number of persons to whom the king grants a charter, permitting them to settle in some distant country, and enabling them to constitute a corporation, enjoying such powers as the charter grants, to be administered in such forms as the charter prescribes. As a corporation they make laws for themselves, but as a corporation subsisting by a grant from higher authority, to the controul of that authority they continue subject.
As men are placed at a greater distance from the supreme council of the kingdom, they must be entrusted with ampler liberty of regulating their conduct by their own wisdom. As they are more secluded from
masy recourse to national judicature, they must be more extensively commissioned to pass judgment on each other. .. For this reason our more important and opulent colonies see the appearance and feel the effect of a regular legislature, which in some places has acted $0 long with unquestioned authority, that it has forgotten whence that authority was originally derived. • To their charters the colonies owe, like other corporations, their political existence. The solemnities of legislation, the administration of justice, the security of property, are all bestowed upon them by the royal grant. Without their charter there would be no power among them, by which any law could be made, or duties enjoined, any debt recovered, or criminal punished
A charter is a grant of certain powers or privileges given to a part of the community for the advantage of the whole, and is therefore liable by its nature to change or to revocation. Every act of government aims at public good. A charter which experience has shown to be detrimental to the nation, is to be repealed; be. cause general prosperity must always be preferred to particular interest. If a charter be used to evii pur. poses, it is forfeited, as the weapon is taken away which is injuriously employed.
The charter therefore by which provincial governments are constituted, may be always legally, and where it is either inconvenient in its nature, or misapplied in its use, may be equitably repealed; by such repeal the whole fabric of subordination is immediately destroy.. ed, and the constitution sunk at once into a chaos : the society is dissolved into a tumult of individuals, without authority to command, or obligation to obey ;
without any punishment of wrongs but by personal res sentment, or any protection of right but by the hand of the possessor.
A colony is to the mother-country as a member to the body, deriving its action and its strength from the general principle of vitality'; receiving from the body, and communicating to it, all the benefits and evils of health and disease ; liable in dangerous maladies to sharp applications, of which the body however must partake the pain ; and exposed, if incurably tainted, to amputation, by which the body likewise will be mutilated.
The mother-country always considers the colonies thus connected, as parts of itself; the prosperity or unhappiness of either is the prosperity or unhappiness of both ; not perhaps of both in the same degree, for the body may subsist, though less commodiously without a limb, but the limb must perish if it be parted from the body.
. Our colonies therefore, however distant, have been hitherto treated as constituent parts of the British empire. The inhabitants incorporated by English charters, are entitled to all the rights of Englishmen. They are governed by English laws, entitled to English dignities, regulated by English counsels, and protected by English arms; and it seems to follow by consequence not easily avoided, that they are subject to English government, and chargeable by English taxation.
To him that considers the nature, the original, the progress and the constitution of the colonies, who remembers that the first discoverers had commissions from the crown, that the first settlers owe to a charter their civil forms and regular magistracy, and that all personal immunities and legal securities, by which
the condition of the subject has been from time to time improved, have been extended to the colonists, it will not be doubted but the parliament of England has a right to bind them by statutes, and to bind them, in all cases whatsoever, and has therefore a natural and constitutional power of laying upon them any tax or impost, whether external or internal, upon the product of land, or the manufactures of industry, in the exigencies of war, or in the time of profound peace, for the defence of America, for the purpose of raising a revenue, or for any other end beneficial to the ems pire.
There are some, and those not inconsiderable for number, nor contemptible for knowledge, who except the power of taxation from the general dominion of parliament, and hold, that whatever degrees of obedience may be exacted, or whatever authority may be exercised in other acts of government, there is still reverence to be paid to money, and that legislation passes its limits when it violates the purse.
Of this exception, which by a head not fully impreg.nated with politics is not easily comprehended, it is alleged as an unanswerable reason, that the colonies şend no representatives to the house of commons. . It is, say the American advocates, the natural diss tinction of a freeman, and the legal privilege of an Englishman, that he is able to call his possessions his own, that he can șit secure in the enjoyment of inheritance or acquisition, that his house is fortified by the law, and that nothing can be taken from him but by his own consent. This consent is given for every man by his representative in parliament. The Ameriçans unrepresented cannot consent to English taxations, as a corporation, and they will not consent as individuals.?