« PreviousContinue »
and material, and who, therefore, far from being qualified to be directors of the great movement of empire, are not fit to turn a wheel in the machine. But to men truly initiated and rightly taught, these ruling and master principles, which, in the opinion of such men as I have mentioned, have no substantial existence, are in truth everything, and all in all. Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom, and a great empire and little minds go ill together. If we are conscious of our station, and glow with zeal to fill our places as becomes our situation and ourselves, we ought to auspicate all our public proceedings on America with the old warning of the church, Sursum corda! We ought to elevate our minds to the greatness of that trust to which the order of Providence has called us. By adverting to the dignity of this high calling, our ancestors have turned a savage wilderness into a glorious empire, and have made the most extensive, and the only honorable conquests, not by destroying, but by promoting the wealth, the number, the happiness of the human race. Let us get an American revenue as we have got an American empire. English privileges have made it all that it is; English privileges alone will make it all it can be.
143. In full confidence of this unalterable truth, I now (quod felix faustumque sit) 45 lay the first stone of the Temple of Peace: and I move you—
I. "That the colonies and plantations of Great Britain in North America, consisting of fourteen separate governments, and containing two millions and upwards of free inhabitants, have not had the liberty and privilege of electing and sending any knights and burgesses, or others, to represent them in the high court of Parlia
145. II. "That the said colonies and plantations have been liable to, and bounden by, several subsidies, payments, rates and taxes, given and granted by Parliament, though the said colonies and plantations have not their knights and burgesses in the said high court of Parliament, of their own election, to represent the condition of their country; by lack whereof they have been oftentimes touched and grieved by subsidies given, granted and assented to, in the said court, in a manner prejudicial to the commonwealth, quietness, rest and peace of the subjects inhabiting within the same.
146. III. "That, from the distance of the said colonies. and from other circumstances, no method hath hitherto been devised for procuring a representation in Parliament for the said colonies.
147. IV. "That each of the said colonies hath within itself a body, chosen in part or in the whole by the freemen, freeholders or other free inhabitants thereof, commonly called the general assembly, or general court; with powers legally to raise, levy and assess, according to the several usages of such colonies, duties and taxes towards defraying all sorts of public services.
148. V. "That the said general assemblies, general courts, or other bodies legally qualified as aforesaid, have at sundry times freely granted several large subsidies and public aids for his Majesty's service, according to their abilities, when required thereto by letter from one of his Majesty's principal secretaries of state; and that their right to grant the same and their cheerfulness and sufficiency in the said grants have been at sundry times acknowledged by Parliament.
149. VI. "That it hath been found by experience that the manner of granting the said supplies and aids by the said general assemblies hath been more agreeable to the inhabitants of the said colonies, and more beneficial and conducive to the public service, than the mode of giving and granting aids and subsidies in Parliament, to be raised and paid in the said colonies."
150. VII. That it may be proper to repeal an act made in the seventh year of the reign of his present Majesty, entitled,An act for granting certain duties in the British colonies and plantations in America; for allowing a drawback of the duties of customs upon the exportation from this kingdom, of coffee and cocoanuts of the produce of the said colonies or plantations; for discontinuing the drawbacks payable on China earthenware exported to America; and for more effectually preventing the clandestine running of goods in the said colonies and plantations.'
151. VIII. That it may be proper to repeal an act made in the fourteenth year of the reign of his present Majesty, entitled, 'An act to discontinue, in such manner and for such time as are therein mentioned, the landing and discharging, lading or shipping, of goods, wares and merchandise, at the town and within the harbor of Boston, in the province of Massachusetts Bay, in North America.'
152. IX. That it may be proper to repeal an act made in the fourteenth year of the reign of his present Majesty, entitled, 'An act for the impartial administration of justice in the cases of persons questioned for any acts done by them in the execution of the law, or for the suppression of riots and tumults, in the province of Massachusetts Bay, in New England.'
153. X. That it may be proper to repeal an act made in the fourteenth year of the reign of his present Majesty, entitled, 'An act for the better regulating the government of the province of Massachusetts Bay, in New England.'
154. XI. "That it may be proper to explain and amend an act made in the thirty-fifth year of the reign of King Henry the Eighth, entitled 'An act for the trial of treasons committed out of the king's dominions.'
155. XII. "That from the time when the general assembly, or general court, of any colony or plantation in North America shall have appointed by act of assembly duly confirmed, a settled salary to the offices of the chief justice and other judges of the superior courts, it may be proper that the said chief justice and other judges of the superior courts of such colony shall hold his and their office and offices during their good behavior, and shall not be removed therefrom but when the said removal shall be adjudged by his Majesty in council, upon a hearing on complaint from the general assembly, or on a complaint from the governor or council or the house of representatives severally, of the colony in which the said chief justice and other judges have exercised the said offices.
156. XIII. "That it may be proper to regulate the courts of admiralty or vice-admiralty authorized by the fifteenth chapter of the fourth of George the Third, in such a manner as to make the same more commodious to those who sue and are sued in the said courts; and to provide for the more decent maintenance of the judges of the same."
Why was the British government so determined to assert its right to tax America?
What was Lord North's plan and why was it not suitable as a remedy?
State briefly the substance of Burke's conciliatory resolutions. Chatham, Wilkes, and Burke each considered the American question one of the most important that had been brought before the House of Commons. How do they seem to differ regarding the reason for its importance?
If Burke's plan had been followed, what would probably have been the effect on the history of the British Empire? How do you think the history of America would have been influenced if Burke's plan had been followed?
By what means did Burke hope to infuse the colonies with a patriotic love for English institutions and the empire?
Was any part of Burke's plan introduced into later colonial policy?
Discuss the accuracy of Burke's estimate of colonial char
What democratic principle, advocated by Burke in this speech, has since his time become commonly accepted as characteristic of just and sound government?
How does Burke's style differ from that of Otis, Chatham, and Wilkes?
What are the persuasive advantages and disadvantages of such a style?
Would Burke's oratorical style be more or less acceptable in our day than it was in 1775? Why?
Comment briefly on Burke's emphasis on causes and results. Enumerate the various motives to which Burke appealed. Point out instances where Burke's diction is a source of persuasive power.
Knowing what you do of the audience and Burke's speech, how do you account for the fact that the House of Commons rejected his plan by a vote of 270 to 78?