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Q. Do you remember the abolishing of the paper currency in New England, by act of assembly?
A. I do remember its being abolished, in the Mas. sachusett's Bay.
Q. Was not Lieutenant Governor Hutchinson principally concerned in that transaction ?
A. I have heard so.
A. I believe it might, though I can say little about it, as I lived at a distance from that province.
Q. Was not the scarcity of gold and silver an argument used against abolishing the paper?
A. I suppose it was.
Q. What is the present opinion there of that law? Is it as unpopular as it was at first? A. I think it is not.
Q. Have not instructions from hence been sometimes sent over to governors, highly oppressive and unpolitical?
Q. Have not some governors dispensed with them for that reason?
A. Yes; I have heard so.
Q. Did the Americans ever dispute the controling power of parliament to regulate the commerce ?
Q. Can any thing less than a military force carry the stamp-act into exection?
A. I do not see how a military force can be applied to that purpose.
Q. Why may it not?
A. Suppose a military force sent into America, they will find nobody in arms; what are they then to do? They cannot force a man to take stamps who chooses to do without them. They wil not find a rebellion ; they may indeed make one.
Q. if the act is not repealed, what do you think will be the consequences ?
A A total loss of the respect and affection the people of Imerica bear to this country, and of all the commerce that depends on that respect and affection.
low can the commerce le acted?
A. You will find, that is the act is not repealed, they will take very little of your manufactures in a short time.
Q. Is it in their power to do without them?
A. The goods they take from Britain are either necessaries, mere conveniences, or superfluities. The first, as cloth, &c. with a little industry they can make at home; the second they can do without, till they are able to provide them among themselves; and the last, which are much the greatest part, they will strike off immediately. They are mere articles of fashion, purchased and consumed, because the fashion in a respected country, but will now be detested and rejected. The people have already struck off, by general agreement, the use of all goods fashionable in mournings, and many thousand pounds worth are sent back as unsaleable.
Q. Is it their interest to mak cloth at home?
A. I think they may at presert get it cheaper from Britain, I niean of the same fineness and neatness of workmanship; but when one considers other circumstances, the restraints on their trade, and the difficulty of making remittances, it is their interest to make every thing..
Q. Suppose an act of internal regulations, connected with a tax, how would they receive it?
A. I think it would be objected to.
Q. Then no regulation with a tax would be submit: ted to ?
A. Their opinion, is, that when aids to the Crown are wanted, they are to be asked of the several assemblies, according to the old established usage, who will as they always have done, grant them freely. And that their money ought not to be given away without their consent, by persons at a distance, unacquainted with their circumstances and abilities. The granting aids to the Crown, is the only means they have of recommending themselves to their sovereign, and they think it extremely hard and unjust, that a body of men, in which they have no representatives, should make a merit to itself of giving and granting what is not its
own, but theirs, and deprive them of a right they esteem of the utmost value and importance, as it is the security of all their other rights.
Q. But is not the post-office, which they have long received, a tax as well as a regulation ?
A. No ; the money paid for the postage of a letter is not of the nature of a tax; it is merely a quantum meruit for a service done ; no person is compellable to pay the
money, if he does not chuse to receive the service. A man may still, as before the act, send his letter by a servant, a special messenger, or a friend, if he thinks it cheaper and safer.
Q. But do they not consider the regulations of the post-office, by the act of last year, as a tax ?
A. By the regulations of last year the rate of postage was generally abated near thirty per cent. through all America ; they certainly cannot consider such abatement as a tax.
Q. If an excise was laid by parliament which they might likewise avoid paying, not by consuming the articles excised, would they then not object to it?
A. They would certainly object to it, as an excise is unconnected with any service done, and is merely an aid which they think ought to be asked of them, and granted by them, if they are to pay it, and can be granted for them by no others whatsoever, whom they have not impowered for that purpose.
Q. You say they do not object to the right of parliament in laying duties on goods to be paid on their importation; now, is there any kind of difference between a duty on the importation of goods, and an excise on their consumption ?
A. Yes; a very material one ; an excise, for the reasons I have just mentioned, they think you can have no right to lay within their country.
But the sea is yours; you maintain, by your fleets, the safety of navigation in it; and keep it clear of pirates; you may have therefore a natural and equitable right to some toll or duty on merchandizes carried through that part of your dominions, towards defraying the expence you are at in ships to maintain the safety of that carriage.
Q. Does this reasoning hold in the case of a duty laid on the produce of their lands exported? and would they not then object to such a duty ?
A. If it tended to make the produce so much dearer abroad as to lessen the demand for it, to be sure they would object to such a duty ; not to your right of lay, ing it, but they would complain of it as a burthen, and petition you to lighten it.
Q. Is not the duty paid on the tobacco exported a duty of that kind ?
A. That, I think, is only on tobacco carried coastwise from one colony to another, and appropriated as a fund for supporting the college at Williamsburgh, in Virginia.
Q Have not the assemblies in the West-Indies the same natural rights with those in North America ?
Q And is there not a tax laid there on their sugars exported ?
A. I am not much scquainted with the West-Indies, but the duty of four and a half per cent. on sugars exported, was, I believe, granted by their own assemblies.
Q. How much is the poll-tax in your province laid on unmarried men?
A. It is, I think, fifteen shillings, to be paid by every single freeman, upwards of twenty-one years old.
Q What is the annual amount of all the taxes in Pennsylvania ?
A. I suppose about 20,000 pounds sterling.
Q Supposing the stamp-act continued, and enforced, do you imagine that ill humour will induce the Americans to give us much for worse manufactures, of their own, and use them, preferably to better of ours ?
A. Yes, I think so. People will pay as freely to gratify one passion as another, their resentment as their pride
Q. Would the people at Boston discontinue their trad?
A. The merchanis are a very small number compared with the body of the people, and nrust discontinue their trade, if uobody will buy their goods.
Q. What are the body of the people in the colonies? A. They are farmers, husbandmen or planters.
Q. Would they suffer the produce of their lands to rot?
A. No; but they would not raise much. They would manufacture more, and plough less.
Q. Would they live without the administration of justice in civil matters, and suffer all the inconveniencies of such a situation for any considerable time, rather than take the stamps, supposing the stamps were pro. tected by a sufficient force, where every one might have them?
A. I think the supposition impracticable, that the stamps should be so protected as that every one might have them. The act requires sub-distributors to be appointed in every county town, district and village, and they would be necessary. But the principal distributors, who were to have had a considerable profit on the whole, have not thought it worth while to cotinue in the office, and I think it impossible to find sub-distributors fit to be trusted, who, for the trifling profit that must come to their share, would incur the odium, and run the hazard that would attend it; and if they could be found, I think it impracticable to protect the stamps in so many distant and remote places.
Q. But in places where they could be protected, would not the people use them rather than remain in such a situation, unable to obtain any right, or recover, by law, any debt?
A. It is hard to say what they would do. I can only judge what other people will think, and how they will act, by what I feel within myself. I have a great many debts due to me in America, and I had rather they should remain unrecoverable by any law, than submit to the stamp-act. They will be debts of honour. It is my opinion the people will either continue in that situation, or find some way to extricate themselves, perhaps by generally agreeing to proceed in the courts without stamps.