Chapter 3

    Obstructions to the Revenue from the temper of the People, at the time of the Establishment of the Board of Customs

    From the state of the progress of Smug[g]ling and corruption, in consequence of the Act of the 6th George II26 it may well be imagined that the Establishment of a Board of Customs in America, could in no wise be agre[e]able either to then Trader, or the Subordinate officers.

    The latter had very small Salaries annexed to their employments, and consequently depended very much on the Fees of [41] of their Offices and to keep well with the Trade was necessary, not only for their support, but for their ease and personal comfort in the Society, so that the new Establishment which awakened the fears of all the Smug[g]ling Traders, likewise allarmed all the Officers of the Customs; who dreaded too nice an inspection into their conduct, and foresaw they must either offend the Traders by an attention to their duty, or draw on themselves the censure of their Superiors, by a neglect of it. [42]

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    The Act for laying a Duty on Paper, Glass, Tea, and Painters’ Colours, being passed about the same time with the Act for Establishing a Board of Customs in America, the People thought the Board was appointed merely in consequence of that Act, which they considered only as a new way of enforcing the raising of Money in the Colonies, without their Consent,27 the authority of which they had been taught to dispute, and deny; and now resolved as far as they were able, to defeat the operation of these Acts. Therefore, [45] though the appointment of a Board of Customs at another time might have been considered in a favorable light, it was now looked on as a means to rivet the Chains of oppression and the resentment of the People against the measure was vented on the Board and its Officers.

    The Newspapers teemed with everything that could inflame the Passions, the grossest abuse was used, and many fals[e]hoods asserted as facts, to rouse the People to resist the authority of Government and ill[-]treat its Officers.

    Nor was the persecution of the Servants of the Crown confined to the modes of [46] Slander, and violence on this (American) side the Water, for their Enemies were not less assiduous in misrepresenting their conduct, and blackening their character at home and every means was used to put the Commissioners in an unfavorable light.28 Every exertion of their authority was exag[g]erated into Acts of Severity and oppression. But whenever they mitigated the severity of the Law, what ever lenient measure they adopted, or hard Case they relieved, was never told. [47]

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    The Popular Governments in most of the Colonies subject every publick measure to the animadversion of the People at large, and they are ready upon every occasion to run into riots and disorder. The opposition to the Stamp Act had been attended with many circumstances of outrage and violence, yet that Act was finally repealed. An Act of oblivion was passed, and no person was punished for any of the enormities that had been commit[t]ed.

    The People remained [49] confident that it was owing to their clamour and resistance that the Stamp Act was repealed; and shewing the same Spirit and using the same means they were persuaded would have a like effect, if in future any measures were adopted by Government that should be disagre[e]able to them.

    The repeal of the Stamp Act was imputed to fear. This begot a confidence in their own power and an audacity in abusing and ill[-]treating every one who was in the Service of Government or respected its authority. [50]

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