Category Archives: Government

Item of the Day: Polybius, translated by Edward Spelman (1743)

Full Title: A Fragment Out of the Sixth Book of Polybius, Containing a Dissertation upon Government in general, particularly applied to That of the Romans, together with a Description of the several Powers of Consuls, Senate, and People of Rome. Translated from the Greek with Notes. To which is prefixed a Preface, wherein the System of Polybius is applied to the Government of England: And, to the above-mentioned Fragment concerning the Powers of the Senate, is annexed a Dissertation upon the Constitution of it. By a Gentleman. London: Printed by J. Tettenham, and sold by W. Meyer . . . , M.DCC.XLIII. [1743].

 

Of the several FORMS of GOVERNMENT: Of the Origin, and natural Transition of those Governments to one another: That the best Constitution is That, which is compounded of all of them; and that the Constitution of the Romans is such a one.

Concerning those Greek Commonwealths, which have often encreased in Power, and often, to their Ruine, experienced a contrary Turn of Fortune, it is an easy Matter both to relate past Transactions, and foretel those to come; there being no great Difficulty, either in recounting what one knows, or in publishing Conjectures of future Events, from those that are past. But concerning the Roman commonwealth, it is not at all easy, either to give an account of the present State of their Affairs, by Reason of the Variety of their Institutions; or to foretel what may happen to them, through the Ignorance of the peculiar Frame of their government, both publick and private, upon which such Conjectures must be founded. For which Reason, an uncommon Attention and Enquiry seem requisite, to form a clear Idea of the Points, in which the Roman Commonwealth differs from Those of Greece.

It is, I find, customary with those, who professedly treat this Subject, to establish three Sorts of Government; kindly Government, Aristocracy, and Democracy: Upon which, one may, I think, very properly ask them, whether they lay these down as the only Forms of Government, or, as the best: For, in both Cases, they seem to be in an Error; since it is manifest that the best Form of Government is That which is compounded of all three. This we not only find to be founded in Reason, but also in Experience; Lycurgus having set the Example of this Form of Goverment in the Institution of the Lacedaemonian Commonwealth. Besides, these three are not to be received as the only Forms; since we may have observed some monarchical and tyrannical Governments, which, though widely different from kingly Government, seem still to bear some Resemblance to it. For which Reason, all Monarchs agree in using their utmost Endeavours, however falsely, or abusively, to be styled Kings. We may have also observed still more Oligarchies, which seemed, in some Degree, to resemble Artistocracies, though the Difference between them has been extremely great. The same Thing may be said also of Democracy.

What I have advanced, will become evident from the following Considerations; for, every Monarchy is not presently to be called a kingly Government, but only That, which is the Gift of a willing People, and is founded on their Consent, rather than on Fear and Violence. Neither, is every Oligarchy to be looked upon as Aristocracy, but only That, which is administered by a select Number of those, who are most eminent for their Justice and Prudence. In the same Manner, that Government ought not to be looked upon as a Democracy, where the Multitude have a Power of doing whatever they desire and propose; but That only, in which it is an established Law and Custom to worship the Gods, to honour their Parents, to respect their Elders, and obey the Laws; when, in Assemblies so formed, every Thing is decided by the Majority, such a Government deserves the Name of a Democracy.

So that, six Kinds of Government must be allowed; three, which are generally established, and have been already mentioned; and three, that are allied to them, namely, Monarchy, Oligarchy and the Government of the Multitude. The first of these is instituted by Nature, without the Assistance of Art: The next is kingly Government, which is derived from the other by Art, and Improvement; when this degenerates into the Evil, that is allied to it, I mean, Tyranny, the Destruction of the Tyrant gives Birth to Aristocracy; which, degenerating also, according to the Nature of Things, into Oligarchy, the People, inflamed with Anger, revenge the Injustice of their Magistrates, and form a Democracy; from the Insolence of which, and their Contempt of the Laws, arises, in Time, the Government of the Multitude.

Whoever examines, with Attention, the natural Principles, the Birth, and Revolution of each of these Forms of Government, will be convinced of the Truth of what I have advanced: For he alone, who knows in what Manner each of them is produced, can form a Judgment of the Encrease, the Perfection, the Revolution, and the End of each; and when, by what Means, and to which of the former States they will return. I thought this Detail, in a particular Manner, applicable to the Roman Government, because the Establishment and Encrease of That was, from the Beginning, founded on Nature. . . .

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Filed under 1740's, Constitution, Eighteenth century, Government, Greek/Roman Translations, Political Philosophy, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Roman Empire

Item of the Day: The Works of Sallust (1744)

Full Title: The Works of Sallust, Translated into English. With Political Discourse upon that Author. To which is added, a Translation of Cicero’s Four Orations Against Catiline. London: Printed for T. Woodward, and J. Peele; and sold by J. Osborn, at the Golden Ball in Pater-noster Row, MDCCXLIV. [1744]

 

DISCOURSE I.

Of Faction and Parties.

________________________

SECT. I.

How easily the People are led into Faction, and kept in it, by their own Heat and Prejudices, and the Arts of their Leaders; how hard they are to be cured; and with what Partiality and Injustice each Side treats the other.

SALLUST observes, “That whoever raised Civil Dissentions in the Commonwealth, used plausible Pretences; some seeming to vindicate the Rights of the People; others to exalt the Authority of the Senate; Both Sorts to pursue the public Good; yet all only striving severally to procure Weight and Power to themselves. Neither, in these their Civil Contests, did any of them observe Moderation or Bounds: Whatever Party conquered, still used their Victory with Violence and Inhumanity.” This, I doubt, is true of all Parties in their Pursuits and Success: I have, therefore, thought it pertinent to discourse here at large upon Faction and Parties.

The People are so apt to be drawn into Faction, and blindly to pursue the Steps of their Leaders, generally to their own special Prejudice, Loss, and Disquiet, if not to their utter Ruin, that he who would sincerely serve them, cannot do it more effectually, than by warning them against such ready and implicit Attachment to Names and Notions, however popular and plausible. From this evil Root have sprung many of the sore Calamities that, almost every-where, afflict Mankind. Without it the world had been happily ignorant of Tyranny and Slavery, the Two mighty Plagues that now haunt and devour the most and best Parts of it; together the subordinate and introductory Miseries, of national Discord, Devastation, and Civil War.

People, as well as Princes,  have been often undone by their Favourites. A great Man amongst them, perhaps, happened to be cried up for his fine Actions, or fine Qualities, both often overrated; and became presently their Idol, and they trusted him without Reserve: For their Love, like their Hate, is generally immoderate; not from a Man who has done them, or can do them, much Good, have they any Apprehension of Evil; till some Rival for their Affection appear superior to their first Favourite in Art of Fortune; one who persuades them, that the other has abused them, and seeks their Ruin. Then, it is like, they make a sudden Turn, set up the latter against the former; and, having conceived an immoderate Opinion of HIm, too, put immoderate Confidence in him; not that they are sure that the other had wronged them, or abused his Trust, but take it for granted, and punish him upon Presumption; trusting to the Arts and Accusations of their new Leader, who probably had deceived and inflamed them. . . .

They may possibly commit themselves to the Guidance of a Man, who certainly means them well, and seeks no base Advantage to himself: But such Instances are so rare, that the Experiment is never to be tried. Men, especially Men of Ambition, who are the forwardest to grasp at such an Office, do, chiefly, and in the first Place, consider Themselves; and, whilst guided by Partiality for themselves, cannot judge indifferently. Such a Man, measuring Reason and Justice by his Interest, may think, that it is right, that the People should always be deceived, should always be kept low, and under a severe Yoke, to hinder them from judging for Themselves, and throwing off Him, and to prevent their growing wanton and ungovernable. In short, the Fact is, (almost eternally) That their Leader only finds his Account in leading them, and They never, in being led. They make him considerable; that is, throw him into the Way of Power and Profit: This is his Point and End; and, in Consideration of all this, what does do he he for them? At best, he generally leaves them where he found them. Yet this is tolerable, nay, kind, in comparison of what oftener happens: Probably he has raised Feuds and Animosties amongst them, not to end in an Hundred Years; Fuel for intestine Wars; a Spirit of Licentiousness and Rebellion, or of Folly and Slavery.

In the midst of the Heats, and Zeal, and Divisions, into which they are drawn, for This Man against That, are they ever thoroughly apprised of the Merits and Source of the Dispute? Are they Masters of the real Fact, sufficent for accusing one, or for applauding another? Scarce ever. What Information they have, they have generally no Information at all; but only a few Cant Words, such as will always serve to animate a Mob; “I am for John: He is our Friend, and very honest. I am against Thomas: He is our worst Enemy, and very wicked, and deserves to be punished.” And so say They who have taken a Fancy to Thomas, and are prejudiced against John. When it is likely, that neither John or Thomas have done them much Harm, or much Good; or, perhaps, both John and Thomas study to delude and enthral them. But, when Passion prevails, Reason is not heard . . .

 

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Filed under 1740's, Eighteenth century, Government, Greek/Roman Translations, History, Political Commentary, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: The Honourable Charles James Fox (1801)

Found In: Public Characters of 1798-9. The Third Edition. Enlarged and Corrected to the 20th of April, 1801. To Be Continued Annually. London: Printed for R. Phillips, No. 71, St. Paul’s Church Yard; and sold by T. Hurst, J. Wallie and West and Hughes, Paternoster-Row; Carpenter and Co. Old Bond-Street; R. H. Westley, Strand; and by all other booksellers, 1801.

 

THE HONOURABLE (LATELY RIGHT HONOURABLE)

CHARLES JAMES FOX.

ALL the great men of the present day are either the offspring of, or immediately descended from, new families. The ancient nobility repose under the laurels of their ancestors. Not deigning to apply to any of the learned professions, and deeming commerce and agriculture unworthy of their pursuits (a few illustrious characters excepted) they delegate their domestic concerns to the care of their upper servants, and not unfrequently the business of the nation is entrusted to their proxies. This, perhaps, will be the best apology for the multitude of the plebeian scions, recently engrafted on the stock of ancient aristocracy; and, although it may puzzle Garter, Norroy, and Clarencieux, to find them either arms or ancestors, certain it is, that the life-blood of nobility has been infused into the peerage through the conduit of democracy.

It may also be necessary to preface this article with another observation, of which some of the most conspicious characters of the present political drama, afford more than one pregnant instance: that the younger sons of our nobility are more successful in their political efforts, than the elder. This may be easily accounted for: the heir to a great fortune, and an illustrious title, knows not how soon both may devolve upon him; and when that event takes place, to what further object can his expectations point? He finds that he has been born a legislator, and that a large fortune is intailed upon his person; here, then, are wealth and honours not only within his grasp, but actually in his possission. It is otherwise with the juniro brances, for they have in general but little in possesion, and every thing to look for; they inhereit all the exquisite relish for pleasure that their seniors enjoy to satiety, and are only deficient in the means of gratification. Like the dove of Noah, they scarcely find a resting-place for the soles of their feet, on their own earth; and they are exactly in the situation of an invading general who has burnt his ships, for they must go on, or perish!

Charles James Fox is the younger son of Henry, who was himself a younger son of Sir Stephen Fox, celebrated less for his own birth, than the circumstance of being a father at the age of eighty, an event not incredible, however, and rendered, in the present instance, unsuspicious, by the decorous conduct, and acknowledged virtue of the partner of his bed. Henry entered early into public life, and such was his address in parliament, during the reign of George II. that he soon attained not only some of the most arduous and honourable but also the most lucrative situations in the gift of the crown; for, in the year 1754, he was appointed secretary at war; then secretary of state for the southern department; and, after being ousted by the great Mr. Pitt, less celbrated uner the name of Earl of Chatham, we find him filling the immensely beneficial office of pay-master general of the forces, accumulating great wealth, and thereby incurring the animadversions of the first city of the empire. Such, indeed, was his consequence, that at a time when patents of peerage were not very common, he was ennobled by his present Majesty, in 1763, by the title of Baron Holland of Foxley.

His son, Charles James, was born January 13th, 1749, and if on his father’s side he classed among the novi homines, by his mother’s, his descent must be allowed to be illustrious; for Lady Georgiana Carolina Lenox was the daughter of the late Duke of Richmond; and, as such, in addition to that of the King of Sardinia, she was allied to the two rival, but related families, which had so long contested the throne of Great Britain — those of Brunswick and Stuart.

But it is not to such claims as these that the future historian will have recourse; he will dwell with ardour on the early promise of a genius, the precocious talents of the boy, the matured wisdom of the philosopher and the statesman; and while the ablilities and virtues that adorn the character of his hero bring him forward on the canvas, these inefficient and involuntry pretensions will be cast into the shade, and scarcely be distinguished in the background. . . .

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Filed under 1790's, Biography, Culture, Eighteenth century, Government, Great Britain, Politics, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: The Royal Interview (1789)

Full Title: The Royal Interview: A Fragment by the Author of a Letter from a Country Gentleman to a Member of Parliament. Third Edition. London: Printed at the Logographic Press, and sold by J. Walters, No. 169, Opposite Old Bond Street, Piccadilly; C. Stalker, Stationers-Court, Ludgate-Street; and W. Richardson, under the Royal-Exchange, MDCCLXXXIX. [1789]

 

ROYAL INTERVIEW, &c.

K.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * To say the truth, it has been my wish and intention not to enter into any conversation with your Royal Highness concerning the public conduct of my ministers, or those who have acted in opposition to them during the affecting interval of my government. It was rather an anxious desire of my own heart to pass over the chasm which the lapse of my understanding occasioned in the public administration of my kingdom. It appeared to me, that there was not intermediate event which could afford a pleasing topic of discussion between you and myself: and as it would ill become me to accompany the blessing of my recovery with resentment to my son, whatever his conduct might have been, I became extremely solicitous to avoid a retrospect. –It is enough for me, that, on awaking from my delerium, I find my kingdom uninjured by my infirmity, and exulting in my restoration. –But as you seem to apprehend ill impressions, of some kind or other, and declare, that the comfort of your life depends on my hearing from yourself the reasons which governed your conduct during my affliction, I shall comply with your requisiton, and listen to you with a paternal patience. It becomes me, however, previously to inform you, that I am well acquainted with every transaction of the late important period, and that my opinion is already formed of the measures that have been adopted, of the opposition that was made to them, and of the persons who have appeared as principal actors on the occasion. It may be also necessary, for a right understanding between us, in the business on which we are about to engage, to observe, that while you possess a full right to plead, I may take the liberty, if I see occasion, to condemn. —-My kindest attention awaits you.

 

P.

I have very reason to apprehend that some particular leading indivduals, among your Majesty’s servants, have represented my demeanour during the late unhappy period, as undutuful to yourself, unfeeling to your situation, and hostile to the interests of your kingdom.

 

K.

What convincing reason you may possess whereon to buld such an hypothesis, I am not anxious to enquire, because they are without foundation. Both the Lord Chancellor and the first minister have, in their communications to me, delivered themselves with the most respectful attention to you; and if I could suppose it possible for such wise men and faithful servants to step beyond the bounds of decorum in their consultations with me, I should conclude they had done it in the more than earnest manner with which they recommended me to check any, and every suspicion of my breast with respect to the motives that governed the late conduct of your Royal Highness. Indeed, I cannot but express my concern, that, on the very threshold of the business, you should begin with answering an accusation that has never been made, and charging those men with practising against you all the injustice of misrepresentation, who have, on the contrary, acted with a spirit of magnanimity, which would do honour to yourself. But, not to turn you aside from the mode of apology, which, perhaps, you are prepared to adopt; –you are at liberty to suppose that I am perfectly well acquainted with your plans of operation during the time when it was doubtful, whether it would please God to restore me to myself and to my people.

 

P.

I should be truly sorry, Sir, to suspect where suspicion would be unjust; and your royal word is more than sufficient to remove mine, in the matter before us, from certain of your Majesty’s Ministers; but as I know them to be indisposed towards me, I had something like a right to imagine, that, in representing their own services to your Majesty, they would not fail to misrepresent those who oppose them.

 

K.

I cannot answer for the secret designs or thought of my Ministers, any more than for those of my children. —To search into the recesses of the human heart, and to discover what is passing there, belongs to that Power alone, before which the monarchs of the world must bend; –but as I wish to hear your sentiments on something more than vague opinion, I must beg your Royal HIghness to confine yourself to yourself; and that you will not do your heart and understanding so great injustice as to look for your justification in the misconduct of others. —But I perceive your embarrassment; — to relieve you, therefore, as far as may be in my power, from your very unpleasant situation, and to save you the trouble, as well as the pain, of stating the supposed charges, which your propose to answer — I will turn catechist, if you please, and offer such interrogatories as may call forth those replies, which will involve all that you wish to say to me in the very interesting subject of the present conference. I shall therefore suppose, what I trust you feel yourself prepared to prove, that, during the late extraordinary and awful period, you have done every thing which was required, by your duty to me, who am your father — the dignity of your station, which places you next to your Sovereign — and the interests of the Empire, which, if you live, will one day be your own. On this idea I shall conclude, that, when you had recovered from the severe shock which must have been felt by your mind, on the unexpected nature and possible consequences of my illness, you immediately called to your councils and consolation, some of the first, the wisest, and the best men in this country: or, if you should have thought it more proper, as it might have been at first, to rest the burthen of your mind on one rather than many, I should hope that the distinguished individual would be most worthy of your confidence, and be esteemed as such by the nation, as well as yourself. May I, therfore, ask, whom did your Roayl Highness honour with your earliest communications?

 

P.

Mr. Sheridan. —

 

K.

Mr. Sheridan! –In the name of reason, common sense, and honour, what could induce you to place such a confidence, in such a man? — . . .

 

 

 

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Filed under 1780's, George III, Government, Great Britain, Political Commentary, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Royal Family

Item of the Day: Mr. Bridge’s Election Sermon (May 27, 1789)

Full Title: A Sermon Preached Before His Excellency John Hancock, Esq. Governour; His Honor Benjamin Lincoln, Esq. Lieutenant-Governour; The Honourable The Council, Senate and House of Representatives, of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, May 27, 1789. Being the Day of General Election. By Josiah Bridge, A.M. Pastor of the Church in East-Sudbury. Boston: Printed by Adams & Nourse, Printers to The Honourable General Court, M,DCC,LXXXIX. [1789]

 

AN

Election SERMON.

PSALM LXXXII. VERSE I.

GOD standeth in the Congregation of the Mighty; He judgeth among the GODS.

THIS passage of scripture may well possess the minds of this mumerous and respectable audience, with reverence and a sacred awe, before him, who is greatly to be feared in the assembly of his saints; and who will be sactified in all them that come nigh to him: It is particularly adapted to arrest the most serious attention of our honoured Rulers; at whose invitation we are assembled in the House of God on this auspicious anniversay, –to supplicate the Divine Presence with them, and his smiles and blessing upon the special business of the day; and their admiration of government the ensuing year; and to enquire of him from his word, agreeable to the laudable practice of our pious Progenitors, from the first settlement of the country, to the present period.

Our text has a primary reference to the Rulers of God’s ancient covenant people. But as this passage of scripture is of no private interpretation, it will as fitly apply to our civil fathers now before God, as the the Jewish Sanhedrim of old.

The words before us, will naturally lead us —“To make some brief and general observations on government.” —The propriety and usefulness of an assembly, for conducting the important affairs of it. —The sublime characters rulers sustain. —The Surpeme Ruler present with them, as an observer, and judge; ready for their assistance and support, when acting up to their character; and carefully noticing whenever they lose sight of the great end of their appointment: And the powerful influence, the consideration of his presence and inspection must have, to engage them in a conscientious discharge of the duties of their exalted stations. May I be indulged your serious and candid attention, while I attempt to dilate a little, upon these several particulars; all obviously contained in, or easily deducible from our text. God standeth in the Congregation of the Mighty: He judgeth among the Gods.

That our text applies to the supreme government of a community, and involves the various departments of it, is readily seen by looking into the Psalm before us; where we find this congregation of the mighty, reproved for the improper use of their power, and a different mode of conduct enjoined upon them. “How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Defend the poor and fatherless: Do justice to the afflicted and needy: Deliver the poor and needy, rid them out of the hand of the wicked.”

Civil government is both a dictate of nature, and revelation; and is accordingly indifferently denominated, the ordinance of God, and the ordinance of man. Man was originally formed for society, and furnished with faculties adapted thereto: Faculties for the improvement of which social intercourse is indispensably necessary. Some of the most important duties, and refined delights of human life are of the social kind.

In order to obtain the benefits of society, civil rule is essentially requisite. Those lusts of men, from whence come wars and fightings, are so prevalent in this apostate world, that they are obliged to form compacts and combinations, for mutual assistance and support. And there is perhaps no people no [sic] earth, however uncultivated and barbarous, but who have adopted some kind of civil polity.

The light and law of nature, which uniformly urges to this mode of procedure, may well be accepted, as an expression of the divine will: For God addresses the human mind in divers manners; and he does it by the voice of reason, as well as revelation.

The providence of God is particularly concerned, in elevating man to post of honour and dignity; and giving them a seat among the congregation of the mighty. “For promotion cometh neither from the east, nor from the west, nor from the south: But God is the judge: He putteth down one, and fitteth up another.” “By me (says wisdom, or that glorious Being who is the wisdom of God) by me kings reign, and princes decree justice. By me princes rule and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.” And in the New-Testament, we have the same idea held up, in terms equally express. “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers; for there is no power, but of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God.” Again, “submit yourselves to every ordinance of man, for the Lord’s sake; whether it be to the King, as supreme, or unto Governours, as unto them that are sent by him for the pinishment of evil doers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God.”

These declarations apply to civil government in general, which is indispensably necessary to social felicity and safety. But they are by no means to be extended to every mode of government that has obtained among mankind: Not certainly to despotic and lawless domination. This is not the ordinance of God. Nor indeed any other government, but such a sprotects the subjects in the peaceable possession of their just rights, properties and priviledges.

. . . Power is an intoxicating quality; and for a single individual to be vested with sovereign rule, is subjecting him to a temptation too strong for human virtue. A desire of pre-eminence is a natural passion, and when properly restrained, may prove highly beneficial to society. But when it has a full free course, and attains the summit of its wish, and feels itself without controul; the  subject of this undue elevation, is apt to be puffed up with pride, to become intolerably supercilious and tyrannical; and to trample upon those rights of the community, and individuals, which it is the prime design of government to protect.

Wherever the will of a despot is the supreme law, the great end of government is usually perverted. This is sufficently attested by facts: And it is no other than what might justly be expected from the nature of man.  . . .

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Filed under 1780's, Early Republic, Elections, Government, Massachusetts, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Religion, Sermons

Item of the Day: Almon’s Anecdotes (on Wm. Knox) (1797)

Full Title:

Biographical, Literary, and Political Anecdotes of Several of the Most Eminent Persons of the Present Age.  Never Before Printed.  With an Appendix; Consisting of Original, Explanatory, and Scarce Papers.  By the Author of Anecdotes of the Late Earl of Chatham.  In Three Volumes.  Volume II.  London: Printed for T. N. Longman, and L. B. Seeley.  In Pater-Noster-Row.  1797. 

Chapter XXI.

William Knox, Esq.  Advocate for the American War.  Secretary to Lord George Germaine.  His State of the Nation; assisted by Mr. Grenville.  Other Publications.

This gentleman was another of Mr. Grenville’s friends; and was a very strenuous and persevering advocate of the British measures against America.  He was agent for Georgia; and Under Secretary of State to Lord Hillsborough, and to Lord George Germaine, during the American war.  To his zeal and suggestions, many of the unfortunate measures against America were ascribed, and he sustained much of the hatred of the Americans on that account.  He was the author of several tracts on American subjects, the principal of which was,

“The Controversy between Great Britain and her Colonies reviewed.”  It is obviously a work of much labour and contains extracts from many papers.  The writer’s view is to support the right of Great Britain to tax America.

He was also the writer of a tract intitled “The Present State of the Nation; particularly with respect to its Trade, Finances, &c.”  This pamphlet was, at first, ascribed to Mr. Grenville; and Mr. Burke, by his pamphlet intitled “Observations upon it,” gave a temporary currency to that opinion.  Mr. Grenville undoubtedly assisted the writer with materials and arguments, but the compositions belong to Mr. Knox.  It consists principally of a defence of Mr. Grenville’s ministry and measures, and a condemnation of the Rockingham ministry, and their measures.

Mr. Knox has also published two small volumes, called “Extra-official State Papers;” which contain many useful hints. 

The two following Letters are not unworthy of the reader’s notice:

5th March 1783.

“Sir,

“Letters having been written to the Secretary of the late Board of Trade, and to my colleague, for the last six months, as Under Secretary of State in the American department, and to all the clerks who have been deprived of their situations in those offices by their suppression, acquainting them, that the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury had made them all allowances in compensation of the incomes they had been deprived of; and no such letter having come to me, I am constrained to give you the trouble of this letter, to request the favour of you to move their Lordships to permit you to inform me of what account it is that I, who had served as Under Secretary to every Secretary of State that has filled the American department, from its institution to its suppression, and even attended the Earl of Shelburne when that department was absorbed in the domestic, until his Lordship was more ably served, should be the only person passed over upon this occasion without compensation, and even without notice.

“I am, Sir, &c. William Knox.”

“Geo. Rose, Esq.”

Copy of Mr. Rose’s Answer, dated 17th of March 1783.

“Sir,

“Upon reading to my Lords Commissioners of the Treasury your letter, dated the 5th instant, respecting a compensation for your office of Under Secretary of State for the American department, I am directed to acquaint you, that my Lords are of opinion that you have no claim whatever to a compensation for the loss of your office, you already having a pension of six hundred pounds a-year for yourself, and the like sum for Mrs. Knox.

“I am, Sir, &c. Geo. Rose.”  

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Filed under 1790's, American Revolution, Eighteenth century, Government, Great Britain, Letters, Posted by Matthew Williams

Item of the Day: A Letter from King Charles II regarding Nathaniel Bacon (1676)

Full Title: A Letter from his Majesty Charles 2d, for the apprehension of Nathaniel Bacon, the instigator and head of a Rebellion in Virginia

Found In: Letters from the English Kings and Queens Charles II, James II, William and Mary, Anne, George II, &c. To the governors of the Colony of Connecticut, together with the Answers  thereto, from 1635 to 1749; and Other Original, Ancient, Literary and Curious Documents, Compiled from Files and Records in the Office of the Secretary of the State of Connecticut. By R. R. Hinman, A. M. Secretary of the State of Connecticut. Hartford: John D. Eldredge, Printer, 1836. [pp. 99-100]

[The following letter has been transcribed as it appears in the above text. No changes or corrections have been made to the spelling of the words in the document.] 

CHARLES R.

Trusty and well beloved, wee greet you well, wee doubt not but you have heard of the disorders in our Colony of Virginia, raised and continued by Nathaniell Bacon the younger, who hath made himself the head and leader of a rebellion there, to the great detriment of that Colony, and the danger of others, near adjoyning  thereunto, having confidence therefore in your loyalty, and that you abhor such desperate and treasonable actions, and to prevent the contagion of so bad an example in other Colonies upon that tract belonging to our Crowne; wee have thought fitt to signifie our pleasure unto you, and hereby to require that if the said Nathaniel Bacon, or any of his accomplices in that rebellion, shall for their safety or otherwise, retreat, or resort into that Province of our Colony of New England, under your jurisdiction, or any part thereof, you cause him, them, and every of them, to be forthwith seized and secured, and then give immediate notice thereof, to the Governour or Commander in chief in Virginia, to the end such further course may be taken with them as shall be agreeable to law. And wee doe further require you to issue forth proclamation streightly, forbidding all and every the planters or inhabitants of your said Province to joyne with the said rebells, or to afford them any arms, ammunition, provisions, or assistance of any kind whatsoever, but contrarily enjoyning those under your jurisdiction to oppose the said rebells in all things as there shall be occasion–and so wee bid farewell. Given at our Court in White Hall, the 3d day of November, 1675, in the eight and twentieth year of our Reigne.

By his Majesties command.

H. COVENTRY

To our trusty and well beloved, the governour and Councill of the Colony of Connecticut, in New England.

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Filed under 1670'S, Charles II, Colonial America, Connecticut, Government, Great Britain, History, New England, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: An Address to the People of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1775)

Full Title: An Address to the People of England, Scotland, and Ireland, on the present Important Crisis of Affairs. By Catharine Macaulay. Printed by R. Cruttwell, in Bath, for Edward and Charles Dilly, in the Poultry, London, MDCCLXXV. [1775]

 

AN

ADDRESS, &C.

THE advantage of a second opportunity to correct a mistake, when the first has been neglected, is a happiness which few individuals, or bodies of men, experience; and a blessing which, if it oftener occurred in the affairs of life, would enable most of us to avoid the greater part of the misery which at present appears inseparable to the human state.

The Electors of this kingdom, however, have shewn themselves incorrigible, by recently abusing what the author of The Patriot justly calls a high dignity, and important trust; and this after a ruinous experience of the effects of a former ill-placed confidence.

It is not to be supposed, that either the beauty of justice, the interests of liberty, or the welfare of individuals, as united to the common good, can have any avail with men, who, at this important crisis of British affairs, could reject the wise example set them by the city of London, in requiring a test from those they elected in to the representative office; a test which, had it been generally taken, and religiously observed, would have dispersed the dark cloud which hangs over the empire, restored the former spendor of the nation, and given a renewed strength, vigour, and purity, to the British consitution.

Among the Electors, however, there are undoubtedly many who, by the most cruel of undue influences, –that influence which the opulent exert over the needy, have in a manner been constrained to act contrary to judgment and inclination; while there are others who have been misled by their ignorance, and the sophistry of men of better understanding. –To these, and that large body of my countrymen who are unjustly debarred the privilege of election, and, except by petition and remonstrance, have no legal means of opposing the measures of government, I address myself on the present momentous occasion.

It can be no secret to you, my friends and fellow citizens, that the minstry, after having exhausted all those ample sources of corruption which your own tameness under oppressive taxes have afforded, either fearing the unbiassed judgment of the people, or impation at the flow, but steady progress of despotism, have attempted to wrest  from our American Colonists every privilege necessary to freemen; –privileges which they hold from the authority of their charters, and the principles of the constitution.

With an entire supineness, England, Scotland, and Ireland, have seen the Americans, year by year, stripped of the most valuable of their rights; and, to the eternal shame of this country, the stamp act, by which they were to be taxed in an arbitrary manner, met with no opposition, except from those who are particularly concerned, that the commercial intercouse between Great-Britain and her Colonies should meet wih no interruption.

With the same guilty acquiescence, my countrymen, you have seen the last Parliament finish their venal course, with passing two acts for shutting up the Port of Boston, for indemnifying the murderers of the inhabitants of Massachusets-Bay, and changing their chartered constitution of government: And to shew that none of the fundamental principles of our boasted constitution are held sacred by the government or the people, the same Parliament, without any interruption either by petition or remonstrance, passed another act for changing the government of Quebec; in which the Popish religion, instead of being tolerated as stipulated by the treaty of peace, is established; in which the Canadians are deprived of the right to an assembly, and of trial by jury; in which the English laws in civil cases are abolished, the French laws established, and the crown empowered to erect arbitrary courts of judicature; and in which, for the purpose of enlarging the bound where despotism is to have is full sway, the limits of that province are extended so as to comprehend those vast regions that lie adjoining to the northerly and westerly bounds of our colonies. . . .

 

 

 

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Filed under 1770's, Colonial America, Eighteenth century, England, Government, Great Britain, Liberty, Political Pamphlets, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

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

Item of the Day: Franklin on the Slave Trade (1790/1836)

Full Title:

The Works of Benjamin Franklin; Containing Several Political and Historical Tracts Not Included in Any Former Edition, And Many Letters Official and Private Not Hitherto Published; with Notes and A Life of the Author.  By Jared Sparks.  Volume II [of 9].  Boston: Hilliard, Gray, and Company. 

On The Slave Trade.

To the Editor of the Federal Gazette. 

March 23rd, 1790.

Sir,

Reading last night in your excellent paper the speech of Mr. Jackson in Congress against their meddling with the affair of slavery, or attempting to mend the condition of the slaves, it put me in mind of a similar one made about one hundred years since by Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim, a member of the Divan of Algiers, which may be seen in Martin’s Account of his Consulship, anno 1687.  It was against granting the petition of the sect called Erika, or Purists, who prayed for the abolition of piracy and slavery as being unjust.  Mr. Jackson does not quote it; perhaps he has not seen it.  If, therefore, some of its reasonings are to be found in his eloquent speech, it may only show that men’s interests and intellects operate and are operated on with surprising similarity in all countries and climates, whenever they are under similar circumstances.  The African’s speech, as translated, is as follows.

Allah Bismallah, &c.  God is great, and Mahomet is his Prophet.

“Have these Erika considered the consequences of granting this petition?  If we cease our cruises against the Christians, how shall we be furnished with the commodities their countries produce, and which are so necessary for us?  If we forbear to make slaves of their people, who in this hot climate are to cultivate our lands?  Who are to perform the common labors of our city, and in our families?  Must we not then be our own slaves?  And is there not more compassion and more favor due to us as Mussulmen, than to these Christian dogs?  We have now above fifty thousand slaves in and near Algiers.  This number, if not kept up by fresh supplies, will soon diminish, and be gradually annihilated.  If we then cease taking and plundering the infidel ships, and making slaves of the seamen and passengers, our lands will become of no value for want of cultivation; the rents of houses in the city will sink one half; and the revenue of government arising from its share of prizes be totally destroyed!  And for what?  To gratify the whims of a whimsical sect, who would have us, not only forbear making more slaves, but even manumit those we have. 

“But who is to indemnify their masters for the loss?  Will the state do it?  Is our treasury sufficient?  Will the Erika do it?  Can they do it?  Or would they, to do what they think justice to the slaves, do a greater injustice to the owners?  And if we set our slaves free, what is to be done with them?  Few of them will return to their countries; they know too well the greater hardships they must there be subject to; they will not embrace our holy religion; they will not adopt our manners; our people will not pollute themselves by intermarrying with them.  Must we maintain them as beggars in our streets, or suffer our properties to be the prey of their pillage?  For men accustomed to slavery will not work for a livelihood when not compelled.  And what is there so pitiable in their present condition?  Were they not slaves in their own countries?

“Are not Spain, Portugal, France, and the Italian states governed by despots, who hold all their subjects in slavery, without exception?  Even England treats its sailors as slaves; for they are, whenever the government pleases, seized, and confined in ships of war, condemned not only to work, but to fight, for small wages, or a mere subsistence, not better than our slaves are allowed by us.  Is their condition then made worse by their falling into our hands?  No; they have only exchanged one slavery for another, and I may say a better; for here they are brought into a land where the sun of Islamism gives forth its light, and shines in full splendor, and they have an opportunity of making themselves acquainted with the true doctrine, and thereby saving their immortal souls.  Those who remain at home have not that happiness.  Sending the slaves home then would be sending them out of the light and into darkness.

“I repeat the question, What is to be done with them?  I have heard it suggested, that they may be planted in the wilderness, where there is plenty of land for them to subsist on, and where they may flourish as a free state; but they are, I doubt, too little disposed to labor without compulsion, as well as too ignorant to establish a good government, and the wild Arabs would soon molest and destroy or again enslave them.  While serving us, we take care to provide them with every thing, and they are treated with humanity.  The laborers in their own country are, as I am well informed, worse fed, lodged, and clothed.  The condition of most of them is therefore already mended, and requires no further improvement.  Here their lives are in safety.  They are not liable to be impressed for soldiers, and forced to cut one another’s Christian throats, as in the wars of their own countries.  If some of the religious mad bigots, who now tease us with their silly petitions, have in a fit of blind zeal freed their slaves, it was not generosity, it was not humanity, that moved them to the action; it was from the conscious burden of a load of sins, and a hope, from the supposed merits of so good a work, to be excused from damnation.

“How grossly are they mistaken to suppose slavery to be disallowed by the Alcoran!  Are not the two precepts, to quote no more, ‘Masters, treat your slaves with kindness; Slaves, serve your masters with cheerfulness and fidelity,’ clear proofs to the contrary?  Nor can the plundering of infidels be in that sacred book forbidden, since it is well known from it, that God has given the world, and all it contains, to his faithful Mussulmen, who are to enjoy it of right as fast as they conquer it.  Let us then hear not more of this detestable proposition, the manumission of Christian slaves, the adoption of which would, by depreciating our lands and houses, and thereby depriving so many good citizens of their properties, create universal discontent, and provoke insurrections, to the endangering of government and producing general confusion.  I have therefore no doubt, but this wise council will prefer the comfort and happiness of a whole nation of true believers to the whim of a few Erika, and dismiss their petition.”      

The result was, as Martin tells us, that the Divan came to the resolution; “The doctrine, that plundering and enslaving the Christians is unjust, is as best problematical; but that it is in the interest of this state to continue the practice, is clear; therefore let the petition be rejected.”

And it was rejected accordingly.

And since like motives are apt to produce in the minds of men like opinions and resolutions, may we not, Mr. Brown, venture to predict, from this account, that the petitions to the Parliament of England for abolishing the slave-trade, to say nothing of other legislatures, and the debates upon them, will have a similar conclusion?  I am, Sir, your constant reader and humble servant,

HISTORICUS.

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Filed under 1790's, 1830's, Early Republic, Eighteenth century, Foreign Relations, Government, Islam, Koran, Letters, Newspapers, Posted by Matthew Williams, Slavery