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A. The tax on all estates, real and personal, is eighteen pence in the pound, fully rated; and the tax on the profits of trades and professions, with other taxes, do, I suppose, make full half a crown in the pound.
Q. Do you know any thing of the rate of exchange in Pennsylvania, and whether it has fallen lately?
A. It is commonly from 170 to 175. I have heard that it has fallen lately from 175 to 162 and a half, owing, I suppose, to their lessening their orders for goods; and when their debts to this country are paid, I think the exchange will probably be at par.
Q. Do not you think the people of America would submit to pay the stamp duty, if it was moderated ?
A. No, never, unless compelled by force of arms.
Q. Are not the taxes in Pennsylvania laid on un. equally, in order to burthen the English trade, particularly the tax on professions and business?
A. It is not more burthensome in proportion than the tax on lands. It is intended, and supposed to take an equal proportion of profits.
Q. How is the assembly composed ? Of what kinds of people are the members, landholders or traders ?
A. It is composed of landholders, merchants and artificers.
Q. Are not the majority landholders ? Å. I believe they are. Q. Do not they, as much as possible, shift the tax off from the land, to ease that, and lay the burthen heavier on trade?
A. I have never understood it so. I never heard such a thing suggested. And indeed an attempt of that kind could answer no purpose. The merchant or trader is always skilled in figures, and ready with his pen and ink. If unequal burthens are laid on his trade, he puts an additional price on his goods; and the consumers, who are chiefly landholders, finally pay the greatest part, if not the whole.
Q. What was the temper of America towards G, Britain before the year 1763 ?
A. The best in the world. They submitted willingly to the government of the crown, and paid, in all their courts, obedience to acts of parliament. Nu. merous as the people are in the several old provinces, they cost you nothing in forts, citadels, garrisons or armies, to keep them in subjection. They were governed by this country at the expence only of a little pen, ink and paper. They were led by a thread. They had not only a respect, but an affection, for Great. Britain, for its laws, its customs and manners, and even a fondness for its fashions, that greatly increased the commerce. Natives of Britain were always treated with particular regard; to be an Old England-man, was, of itself, a character of some respect, and gave a kind of rank among us.
Q. And what is their teniper now?
R. Did you ever hear the authority of parliament to make laws for America questioned till lately?
A. The authority of parliament was allowed to be valid in all laws, except such as should lay internal taxes. It was never disputed in laying duties to regu. late commerce.
Q. In what proportion hath population increased in America ?
A. I think the inhabitants of all the provinces together, taken at a medium, double in about 25 years. But their demand for British manufactures increases much faster, as the consumption is not merely in proportion to their numbers, but grows with the growing abilities of the same numbers to pay for them. In 1723, the whole importation from Britain to Pensylvania, was but about 15,000 pounds sterling ; it is now near half a million.
Q. In what light did the people of America use to consider the parliament of Great-Britain ?
A. They considered the parliament as the great bulwark and security of their liberties and privileges, and always spoke of it with the utmost respect and veneration. Arbitrary ministers, they thought, might
possibly, at times attempt to oppress them; but they relied on it, that the parliameni, on application, would always give redress. They remembered, with gratitude, a strong instance of this, when a bill was brought into parliament, with a clause to make royal instructions laws in the colonies, which the house of commons would not pass, and it was thrown out.
Q. And have they not still the same respect for parliament.
A. No; it is greatly lessened.
A. To a concurrence of causes; the restraints late. ly laid on their trade, by which the bringing of foreign gold and silver into the colonies was prevented; the prohibition of making paper money among themselves ; and then demanding a new and heavy tax by stamps; taking away, at the same time, trials by juries, and refusing to receive and hear their humble petitions.
Q. Don't you think they would submit to the stamp act, if it was modified, the obnoxious parts taken out, and the duty reduced to some particulars, of small mo. ment?
A. No; they will never submit to it.
Q. What do you think is the reason that the people of America increase faster than in England ?
A. Because they marry younger, and more generally.
Q. Why so?
A. Because any young couple that are industrious, may easily obtain land of their own, on which they can raise a family.
Q. Are not the lower rank of people more at their ease in America than in England?
A. They may be so, if they are sober and diligent, as they are better paid for their labour.
Q. What is your opinion of a future tax, imposed on the same principle with that of the stamp act; how would the Americans receive it? A. Just as they do this. They would not pay
Q. Have you not heard of the resolutions of this house, and of the house of lords, asserting the right of parliament relating to America, including a power to tax the people there?
A. Yes, I have heard of such resolutions.
Q. What will be the opinion of the Americans on those resolutions ?
A. They will think them unconstitutional, and unjuist.
Q. Was it an opinion in America before 1763, that the parliament had no right to lay taxes and duties there?
A. I never heard any objection to the right of laying duties to regulate commerce; but a right to lay internal taxes was never supposed to be in parliament, as we are not represented there.
Q. On what do you found your opinion, that the people in America made any such distinction ?
A. I know that whenever the subject has occurred in conversation where I have been present, it has appeared to be the opinion of every one, that we could not he taxed in a parliament where we were not represented. But the payment of duties laid by act of parliament, as regulations of commerce, was never disputed.
Q. But can you name any act of assembly, or public act of any of your governments, that made such dis. tinction ?
A. I do not know that there was any? I think there was never an occasion to make any such act, till now that you have atteinpled to tax us ; that has occasioned resolutions of assembly, declaring the distinction, in which I think every assembly on the continent, and every member in every assembly, have been unanimous.
Q. What then could occasion conversations on that subject before that time?
A. There was in 1754 a proposition made (I think it came from hence) that in case of a war, which wi then apprehended, the gove o urs of the colonies shou
meet, and order the levying of troops, building of forts, and taking every other necessary measure for the general defence; and should draw on the treasury here for the sums expended, which were afterwards to be raised in the colonies by a general tax, to be laid on them by act of parliament. This occasioned a good deal of conversation on the subject, and the general opinion was, that the parliament peither would nor could lay any tax on us, till we were duly represented in parliament, because it was not just, nor agreeable to the nature of an English constitution.“
Q. Don't you know there was a time in New York, when it was under consideration to make an application to parliament to lay laxes on that colony, upon a deficiency arising from the assembly's refusing or neglecting to raise the necessary supplies for the support of the civil government?
A. I never heard of it.
Q. There was such an application under consideration in New York; and do you apprehend they could suppose the right of parliament to lay a tax in America was only local, and confined to the case of a deficiency in a particular colony, by a refusal of its assembly to raise the necessary supplies ?
A. They could not suppose such a case, as that the assembly would not raise the necessary supplies to support its own government. An assembly that would refuse it must want common sense, which cannot be supposed. I think there was never any such case at New-York, and that it must be a misrepresentation, or the fact must be misunderstood. I know there have been some attempts, by ministerial instructions from hence, to oblige the assemblies to settle permanent salaries on governors, which they wisely refused to do; but I believe no assembly of New York, or any other colony, ever refused duly to support government by proper allowances, from time to time to public officers.
Q. But in case a governor, acting by instruction, should call on an assembly to raise the necessary supplies, and the assembly she uld refuse to do it, do you