WEDNESDAY, October 23, 1765, A. M.
The Congress met according to Adjournment.
The Petition to the House of Commons being Ingrossed, was Read and Compared, and is as follows, viz.
To the Honourable the Knights, Citizens, and Burgesses of Great-Britain, in Parliament assembled.
The PETITION of his Majesty's dutiful and loyal Subjects, the Free|holders and other Inhabitants of the Colonies of the Massachusetts-Bay, Rhode-Island, and Providence Plantations, New-Jersey, Pennsylvania, the Government of the Counties of New-Castle, Kent, and Sussex, upon Delaware, Maryland,
Most humbly Sheweth,
THAT the several late Acts of Parliament imposing divers Duties and Taxes on the Colonies, and laying the Trade and Commerce thereof under very Burthensome Restrictions, but above all the Act for granting and applying certain Stamp Duties, &c. in America, have fill'd them with the deepest Concern and Surprize'; and they humbly conceive the Execution of them will be attended with Consequences very Injurious to the Commercial Interest of Great-Britain and her Colonies, and must terminate in the eventual Ruin of the latter.
Your Petitioners therefore most ardently implore the Attention of the Honourable House, to the united and dutiful Representation of their Cir|cumstances, and to their earnest Supplications for Relief, from those Regu|lations which have already involv'd this Continent in Anxiety, Confusion, and Distress.
We most sincerely recognize our Allegiance to the Crown, and acknow|ledge all due Subordination to the Parliament of Great-Britain, and shall always retain the most grateful Sense of their Assistance and Protection. It is from and under the English Constitution, we derive all our Civil and Religious Rights and Liberties: We Glory in being Subjects of the best of Kings, and having been Born under the most perfect Form of Government; but it is with most ineffable and humiliating Sorrow, that we find ourselves, of late, deprived of the Right of Granting our own Property for his Ma|jesty's Page 22 Service, to which our Lives and Fortunes are entirely devoted, and to which, on his Royal Requisitions, we leave ever been ready to contribute to the utmost of our Abilities.
We have also the Misfortune to find, that all the Penalties and Forfei|tures mentioned in the Stamp Act, and in divers late Acts of Trade extend|ing to the Plantations, are, at the Election of the Informer, Recoverable in any Court of Admiralty in America. This, as the newly erected Court of Admiralty has a general Jurisdiction over all British America, renders his Majesty's Subjects in these Colonies, liable to be carried, at an immense Expence, from one End of the Continent, to the other.
It gives us also great Pain, to see a manifest Distinction made therein, between the Subjects of our Mother Country, and those in the Colonies, in that the like Penalties and Forfeitures recoverable there only in his Ma|jesty's Courts of Record, are made cognizable here by a Court of Admiralty: By these Means we seem to be, in Effect, unhappily deprived of Two Pri|vileges essential to Freedom, and which all Englishmen have ever considered as their best Birthrights, that of being free from all Taxes but such as they have consented to in Person, or by their Representatives, and of Trial by their Peers.
Your Petitioners further shew, That the remote Situation, and other Circumstances of the Colonies, render it impracticable that they should be Represented, but in their respective subordinate Legislature; and they hum|bly conceive, that the Parliament, adhering strictly to the Principles of the Constitution, have never hitherto Tax'd any, but those who were actually therein Represented; for this Reason, we humbly apprehend, they never have Tax'd Ireland, or any other of the Subjects without the Realm.
But were it ever so clear, that the Colonies might in Law, be reasonably deem'd to be Represented in the Honourable House of Commons, yet we conceive, that very good Reasons, from Inconvenience, from the Principles of true Policy, and from the Spirit of the British Constitution, may be ad|duced to shew, that it would be for the real Interest of Great-Britain, as well as her Colonies, that the late Regulations should be rescinded, and the several Acts of Parliament imposing Duties and Taxes on the Colonies, and extending the Jurisdiction of the Courts of Admiralty here, beyond their ancient Limits, should be Repeal'd.
We shall not Attempt a minute Detail of all the Reasons which the Wis|dom of the Honourable House may suggest, on this Occasion, but would humbly submit the following Particulars to their Consideration.
That Money is already become very scarce in these Colonies, and is still decreasing by the necessary Exportation of Specie from the Continent, for the Discharge of our Debts to British Merchants.
That immensely heavy Debt is yet due from the Colonies for British Manufactures, and that they are still heavily burthen'd with 〈◊◊〉 dis|charge the Arrearages due for Aide granted by them in the late War.
Page 23That the Balance of Trade will ever be much against the Colonies, and in 〈◊〉 of Great-Britain, whilst we consume her Manufactures, the De|mand for which must ever Increase in Proportion to the Number of Inha|bitants settled here, with the Means of Purchasing them. We therefore humbly conceive it to be the Interest of Great-Britain, to increase, rather that diminish, those Means, as the Profits of all the Trade of the Colonies ultimately center there to pay for her Manufactures, as we are not allowed to purchase elsewhere; and by the Consumption of which, at the advanced Prices the British Taxes oblige the Makers and Venders to set on them, we eventually contribute very largely to the Revenue of the Crown.
That from the Nature of American Business, the Multiplicity of Suits and Papers used in Matters of small Value, in a Country where Freeholds are so minutely divided, and Property so frequently transferr'd, a Stamp Duty must ever be very Burthensome and Unequal.
That it is extremely improbable that the Honourable House of Commons, shou'd at all Times, be thoroughly acquainted with our Condition, and all Facts requisite to a just and equal Taxation of the Colonies.
It is also humbly submitted, Whether there be not a material Distinction in Reason and sound Policy, at least, between the necessary Exercise of Par|liamentary Jurisdiction in general Acts, for the Amendment of the Common Law, and the Regulation of Trade and Commerce through the whole Em|pire, and the Exercise of that Jurisdiction, by imposing Taxes on the Colonies.
That the several subordinate Provincial Legislatures have been moulded into Forms, as nearly resembling that of their Mother Country, as by his Majesty's Royal Predecessors was thought convenient; and their Legislatures seem to have been wisely and graciously established, that the Subjects in the Colonies might, under the due Administration thereof, enjoy the happy Fruits of the British Government, which in their present Circumstances, they cannot be so fully and clearly availed of, any other Way under these Forms of Government we and our Ancestors have been Born or Settled, and have had our Lives, Liberties, and Properties, protected. The People here, as every where else, retain a great Fondness for their old Customs and Usages, and we trust that his Majesty's Service, and the Interest of the Na|tion, so far from being obstructed, have been vastly promoted by the Pro|vincial Legislatures.
That we esteem our Connections with, and Dependance on Great-Britain, as one of our greatest Blessings, and apprehend the latter will appear to be sufficiently secure, when it is considered, that the Inhabitants in the Colo|nies have the most unbounded Affection for his Majesty's Person, Family, and Government, as well as for the Mother Country, and that their Subor|dination to the Parliament, is universally acknowledged.
We therefore most humbly entreat, That the Honourable House would be pleased to hear our Counsel in Support of this Petition, and take our distressed and deplorable Case into their serious Consideration, and that the Page 24 Acts and Clauses of Acts, so grievously restraining our Trade and Commerce, imposing Duties and Taxes on our Property, and extending the Jurisdiction of the Court of Admiralty beyond its ancient Limits, may be repeal'd; or that the Honourable House would otherwise relieve your Petitioners, as in your great Wisdom and Goodness shall seem meet.
And your Petitioners as in Duty bound shall ever pray.
Then the Congress Adjourned till To-Morrow Morning X o'Clock.