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bounds, and the exclusion of that trade which hath usually supplied them with silver-money too severely insisted upon; ... this proportion of the price of labour will much sooner cease to be an object of objection to manufacturing there, than is commonly apprehended. The winters in that climate are long and severe; during which season no labour can be done without doors. That application therefore of their servants labour, to manufactures for home consumption, which under any other circumstances would be too dear for the product created by it, becomes, under these circumstances, all clear gains. And if the colonists cannot on the one hand purchase foreign manufactures at any reasonable price, or have not money to purchase with, and there are, on the other, many hands idle which used to be employed in navigation, and all these, as well as the husbandmen, want employment; these circumstances will soon over-balance the difference of the rate of labour in Europe and in America. And if the colonies, under any future state of administration, which they see unequal to the management of their affairs, once come to feel their own strength in this way, their independence on government, at least on the administration of government, will not be an event so remote as our leaders may think, which yet nothing but such false policy can bring on. For, on the contrary, put their governments and laws on a true and constitutional basis, regulate their money, their revenue, and their trade, and do not check their settlements, they must ever depend on the trade of the mother country for their supplies, they will never establish manufactures, their hands being elsewhere employed, and the merchants being always able to import such on terms that must ruin the manufacturer. Unable to subsist without, or to unite against the mother country, they must always remain subordinate to it, in all the transactions of their commerce, in all the operation of their laws, in every act of their government: ... The several colonies, no longer considered as demesnes of the crown, mere appendages to the realm, will thus become united therein, members and parts of the realm, as essential parts of a one organized whole, the commercial dominion of Great Britain. THE TAKING LEADING MEASURES TO THE FORMING OF WHICH, OUGHT, AT THIS JUNCTURE, TO BE THE GREAT OBJECT OF GOVERNMENT.
12. The Controversy on Writs of
In his later years, Adams wrote up several dramatic incidents of the Revolutionary struggle, of which this
The scene is the council chamber of the old town house in Boston. The date is the month of February, 1761.
In this chamber, near the fire, were seated five judges, with lieutenant governor Hutchinson at their head, as chief justice; all in their new fresh robes of scarlet English cloth, in their broad bands, and immense judicial wigs. In this chamber was seated at a long table all the barristers of Boston, and its neighbouring county of Middlesex, in their gowns, bands and tye-wigs. ...
Two portraits, at more than full length, of king Charles the second, and king James the second, in splendid golden frames, were hung up in the most conspicuous side of the apartment. If my young eyes or old memory have not deceived me, these were the finest pictures I have seen. The colours of their long flowing robes and their royal ermines were the most glowing, the figures the most noble and graceful, the features the most distinct and characteristic: far superior to those of the king and queen of France in the senate chamber of congress.
Samuel Quincy and John Adams had been admitted barristers at that term. John was the youngest. He should be painted, looking like a short thick fat archbishop of Canterbury, seated at the table, with a pen in his hand, lost in admiration. .
You have now the stage and the scenery. Next follows a narration of the subject. I rather think that we lawyers ought to call it a brief of the cause.
When the British ministry received from general Amherst his despatches, announcing his conquest of Montreal, and the consequent annihilation of the French government and power in America, in 1759, they immediately conceived the design and took the resolution of conquering the English colonies, and subjecting them to the unlimited authority of parliament. With this view and intention, they sent orders and instructions to the collector of the customs in Boston, Mr. Charles Paxton, to apply to the civil authority for writs of assistance, to enable the custom house officers, tide waiters, land waiters, and all, to command all sheriffs and constables to attend and aid them in breaking open houses, stores, shops, cellars, ships, bales, trunks, chests, casks, packages of all sorts, to search for goods, wares and merchandizes, which had been imported against the prohibitions, or without paying the taxes imposed by certain acts of parliament, called “The Acts of Trade."
In the meantime chief justice Sewall died, and lieutenant governor Hutchinson was appointed chief justice of that court in his stead. Every observing and thinking man knew that this appointment was made for the direct purpose of deciding this question, in favour of the crown, and all others in which it should be interested.
An alarm was spread far and wide. Merchants of Salem and Boston applied to Mr. Pratt, who refused, and to Mr. Otis and Mr. Thatcher, who accepted, to defend them against this terrible menacing monster, the writ of assistance. Great fees were offered, but Otis, and I believe Thatcher, would accept of none. "In such a cause," said Otis, “I despise all fees.”
I have given you a sketch of the stage and the scenery, and a brief of the cause; or, if
like the phrase better, of the tragedy, comedy or farce.
Now for the actors and performers. Mr. Gridley argued with his characteristic learning, ingenuity and dignity, and said every thing that could be said in favour of Cockle's petition, all depending, however, on the "If the parliament of