Item of the Day: Pitt’s Political Debates

Full Title:

Political Debates.  [Featuring William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham]  “Upon the whole, I will beg leave to tell the House what is really my opinion.  It is, that the Stamp Act be REPEALED ABSOLUTELY, TOTALLY, andIMMEDIATELY.” The Great Commoner.  A Paris, Chez J. W. Imprimeur, Rue du Colombier Fauxbourg St. Germain, a l’Hotel de Saxe. M DCC LXVI. [Prix 30 Sous.] Avec Approbation, & Privilege

It is necessary to inform the reader, that some time before the meeting of parliament, a report had been artfully propogated, that the ministry had changed their minds with regard to the Stamp-Act, and, instead of repealing, were resolved to enforce it.  If it could be proved, that this report did not come originally from the favourites of a certain northern nobleman, yet it was certainly much indebted to them for its progress, which was so great as to affect the stocks.

The king’s speech to the parliament on the 14th of January, 1766, gave some colour to the suggestion; but when the gentleman had spoke who moved for the address, and who seconded it, nothing could be clearer, than that the ministry persisted in their intention to promote the repeal.  The friends of the late ministry applauded the king’s speech, and approved of the proposed address, which, as usual, only recapitulated the speech.

The opposition took great offence at the tenderness of the expression, that the first gentlemen had made use of concerning America.  Mr. Nugent particularly insisted, “That the HONOR and dignity of the kingdom obliged us to compel the execution of the Stamp-Act, except the right was acknowledged, and the repeal solicited as a favour.  He computed the expence of the troops now employed in America for their defence, as he called it, to amount to nine-pence in the pound of our land-tax; while the produce of the Stamp-Act would not raise a shilling a head on the inhabitants of America; but that a pepper-corn, in acknowledgement of the right. was of more value than millions without.  He expatriated on the extreme ingratitude of the colonies; and concluded, with charging the ministry with encouraging petitions to parliament, and instructions to members from the trading and manufacturing towns, against the Act.”

Mr. Pitt was the next speaker.  Every friend of his country rejoiced to see him again in that house, and more so, in such perfect health.  As he always begins very low, and as every body was in agitation at his first rising, his introduction was not heard, ’till he said, “I came to town today; I was a stranger to the tenor of his majesty’s speech, and the proposed address, ’till I heard them read in this house.  Unconnected and unconsulted, I have not the means of information; I am fearful of offending through mistake, and therefore beg to be indulged with a second reading of the proposed address.”  The address being read, Mr. Pitt went on:–“He commended the king’s speech, approved of the address in answer, as it decided nothing, every gentleman being left at perfect liberty to take such  a part concerning America, as he might afterwards see fit.  One word only he could not approve of, and EARLY, is a word that does not belong to the notice the ministry have given to parliament of the troubles in America.  In a matter of such importance, the communication ought to have been immediate:  I speak not with respect to parties; I stand up in this place single and unconnected.  As to the late ministry, (turning himself to Mr. G—-lle, who sat within one of him) every capital measure they have taken, has been entirely wrong!”

 

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Filed under 1760's, Colonial America, George III, Government, Posted by Matthew Williams, Stamp Act

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