« AnteriorContinuar »
RESPECTING THE EFFECT OF THE QUEBEC BILL UPON THE BOUNDARY
OF NEW YORK.
On the 21st December, 1770, information was communicated to the Colonial Assembly of New York of the death of Robert Charles, Esq., who had long acted in the capacity of agent for that colony at the Court of Great Britain ; and on the same day, Edmund Burke was appointed as his successor. Occasional notices appear in the Journals of Assembly, indicating his interest in the affairs of the colony, and his fidelity in the discharge of the duties of his office.
His correspondence with the Assembly, during his agency, from the time of his appointment to the dissolution of the Assembly in April, 1775, has never been published. Nor is any part of it known to exist in the United States, except the letter now first pub. lished. Mr. SPARKS remarks in relation to it, (Life of Gouv. Morris, i. 51.) “Could the whole now be found and brought be. fore the Public, it would doubtless present in a full and luminous manner the views of that able statesman on all the important topics agitated at that time between Great Britain and the Colonies, and prove a treasure of rare worth in the historical materials of the country.''
The following letter, it will be seen, refers to the bill which had been recently passed by the British Parliament for the Government of Canada, commonly called the Quebec Bill. The bill was brought into the House of Lords by the Earl of Dartmouth, on the 2d of May, 1774, and passed without opposition. In the House of Commons it encountered much debate, Mr. Burke opposing it, in all its stages. He was successful in procuring an amendment in relation to the boundaries, designed to protect the interests of New SECOND SERIES, VOL. II.
York. The bill, as amended, passed the Commons on the 13th June, and was returned to the House of Lords on the 18th, when the Earl of Chatham denounced it as “a most cruel, oppressive and odious measure," and“ one that would shake the affections and confidence of his Majesty's subjects, in England and Ireland, and finally lose him the hearts of all the Americans." The bill passed by a large majority, and received the royal assent on the 22d June.
It was very unpopular in America, as it granted extraordinary privileges to the Catholic clergy, and was obviously intended to conciliate the Canadians through their influence, and unite them against the other colonies. It gave rise to much discussion in the assemblies, particularly that of New York, to which it was obnoxious on account of their proximity to Canada; and was referred to in their petitions and memorials, representation and remonstranceas "giving great uneasiness to the minds of many," and exciting ** jealousies in the colonies, by the extension of the limits of the Province of Quebec, in which the Roman Catholic religion has received such ample support.” It was also specified in the Declara. tion of Independence, as one of the “ acts of pretended legislation," which justified the separation from the parent country.
I was prevented by pressing business, and by not the best health, from sending you a letter by the July pacquet. When I had last the honor of writing to you on your affairs, I entertained no strong apprehensions, that the clause in the Quebec Bill concerning the boundary of that new Province, could materially affect the rights of your colony. It was couched in general and saving terms: it reserved all rights, and contirmed all adjudications; it was in all appearance sufficiently equitable. But upon a close consideration and subsequent inquiry, I found that you might be very much affected by it. i take the liberty of stating to you the light in which it appeared to me, and the conduct which I held, in consequence of that view of your interests.
I must first observe to you, that the proceedings with regard to the town of Boston and the Province of Massachu. setts Bay, had been from the beginning defended on their absolute necessity, not only for the purpose of bringing that refractory town and province into proper order, but for holding out an example of terror to the other colonies, in some of which (as it was said) a disposition to the same or similar excesses had been marked very strongly. This unhappy disposition in the colonies was by the friends of the coercive measures, attributed to the pride and presumption arising from the rapid population of these colonies, and from their lax form, and more lax exercise, of government. I found it in general discourses, and indeed in public debate, the predominant and declared opinion, that the cause of this resistance to legal power ought to be weakened, since it was impossible to be removed; that any growth of the colonies, which might make them grow out of the reach
posed in him, grant 30,000 acres of land to Captain Campbell, and whether the granting of it, under these circumstances, could have been of any additional security to the frontiers.
I repeat these plain simple facts, on which the dispute between you and me depends, and I shall now add that, at that time, I wrote only from memory. Since that time, the minutes of the Council in Captain Campbell's affair, and the files, have been inspected. There you will find many circumstances which had escaped my memory, in confirmation of what I have wrote to you. I believed you had been deceived, otherwise I had never given you the trouble of a single line. You have now living and written evidence pointed out to you, for your information. I gave you, and now again give you, an opportunity of showing your candor and love of truth, the most distinguishing qualifications of an historian ; and I again give you an opportunity to make redress, where you have undesignedly injured others. By this method, I think I act most consistently with the friendship, which has subsisted between your father and me, and with some regard to your character; for, with all the strength of evidence which can be produced, you know that other methods might have been taken.
As Mr. Alexander's memory is very dear to me, I cannot entirely pass what you write as from him. On recollection, you will find, that Mr. Alexander was not in the Council at that time. After near twenty years distance in time, Mr. Alexander may have entirely forgotten the circumstances of an affair, in which he was in no manner concerned, and he may have unwarily believed, as you and many others have, after such a distance of time, in a tale, privately propagated, to serve a private purpose ; but this makes it the more necessary that the truth appear. I wil. lingly receive what you have written in excuse; and as I desire nothing of you inconsistent with the strict rules of honor, I remain confident that your answer will show your resolution to make a proper redress, and thereby confirm the opinion entertained of you, by your obedient servant,
CADWALLADER COLDEN. To William Smith, JUN., Esq.
LETTER FROM CADWALLADER COLDEN TO WILLIAM SMITH.
FLUSHING, FEB. 19, 1759. Sir: I have your favor of the last of January, and am obliged for your
advice. I received at the same time a letter from your son, the answer to which I enclose. You may be assured, that I shall avoid contention of any kind at my time of life, and I have that opinion of your son's candor, that I cannot apprehend any on this occasion, after the first impression is over, and he has had time to reflect. However, he cannot excuse the not taking what information he could from the Secretary's office, before he had published; for if he had, any trouble which I now give would have been prevented. The pointing out to him the evidence, and where to be found, shows that I have no thoughts of entering into a dispute to his prejudice.
I find by the Governor's speech, that the settling the frontiers is to come under consideration at this time. It is not improbable that this story may be made use of on this occasion to my prejudice. I am confident you will not permit it, where you can prevent it; and I expect you will be well pleased to make use of the opportunity, if it offers, in vindication of,
Sir, your most obedient servant,
CADWALLADER COLDEN. To the Hon. William Smith, Esq.
To the Honorable George Clarke, Esq., Lieutenant Governor
of the Province of New York and Territories thereon depending, in America, in Council.
The humble petition of Laughlin Campbell, gentleman, in behalf of himself and sundry Protestant families, lately arrived into this Province of New York, from North Britain-showeth,
That whereas his late Excellency, William Cosby, Esq. Captain General in Chief of the said province of New