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Lesson One

Reading 6

  • 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 it.

  • Q.

    Have you 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 unjust.

  • 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 Americas 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 everyone that we could not be 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.

    You say the colonies have always submitted to external taxes and object to the right of Parliament only in laying internal taxes; now can you show that there is any kind of difference between the two taxes to the colony on which they may be laid?

  • A.

    I think the difference is very great. An external tax is a duty laid on commodities imported; that duty is added to the first cost and other charges on the commodity, and when it is offered to sale, makes a part of the price. If the people do not like it at that price, they refuse it; they are not obliged to pay it. But an internal tax is forced from the people without their consent, if not laid by their own representatives. The stamp act says we shall have no commerce, make no exchange of property with each other, neither purchase nor grant nor recover debts; we shall neither marry nor make our wills unless we pay such sums, and thus it is intended to extort our money from us or ruin us by the consequences for refusing to pay it.

  • Q.

    But supposing the external tax or duty to be laid on the necessaries of life imported into your colony, will not that be the same thing in its effects as an internal tax?

  • A.

    I do not know a single article imported into the northern colonies, but what they can either do without or make themselves.

***

  • Q.

    Did the Americans ever dispute the controlling power of parliament to regulate the commerce?

  • A.

    No.

23

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