Appendix 2


    [c.1-15 Jun. 1764]



    In the Year 1764

    A view of the present wealth, power, and extension of the British Empire is alarming as well as pleasing: we cannot but be concerned for the stability of a fabrick built on so disjointed foundations, and raised to so great a height; and must be convinced that it will require much political skill to secure its duration. The most obvious means to effect this, must be an Union of the several parts of this vast body, and especially a Connection between the Seat of Empire and its Dependencies; a Connection not created by temporary expedients, or supported by enforced subjection; but established upon fixed Principles of Law and Polity, and maintained by a regular, free, and equitable subordination.2 What are the principles which will best connect the Head and the Members of this great Empire, is the subject of the present enquiry. They ought to be simple, plain, and certain, or they will not be suitable to their general purpose; they ought to be generally admitted, or they will not have their full effect; they must be such as will stand the test of reason, or they will not be generally admitted.

    In this disputative age, and in a science of all the most disputative, it may seem a difficult task to attempt to settle a general theory for a business in which such a variety of passions, prejudices, and interests, are like to interpose. Sensible of this, and studious only of Truth and Utility, the writer has avoided declamation, and kept close to argument. He has reduced his whole subject into a set of propositions; beginning with first principles which are self evident, proceeding to propositions capable of positive proof, and descending to hypotheses which are to be determined by degrees of probability only. This was intended to be a perfect chain; the avoiding of prolixity is the cause why it is not so; where any links shall appear to be wanting, the judicious reader will easily supply them. The advantages of this kind of writing are obvious: by seeing the principles and the reasoning of the arguments laid before him articulately, the reader can more precisely determine what to assent to, and what to deny; and the writer, if he should appear to be mistaken, will have the merit of contributing to his own conviction.3

    The present expectation, that a new Regulation of the American Governments will soon take place, probably arises more from the opinion the public has of the abilities of the present Ministry, than from any thing that has transpired from the Cabinet: it cannot be supposed that their penetration can overlook the necessity of such a Regulation, nor their public spirit fail to carry it into execution. But it may be a question, whether the present is a proper time for this work: more urgent business may stand before it; some preparatory steps may be required to precede it; caution and deliberation may retard it: but these will only serve to postpone. As we may expect that this Reformation, like all others, will be opposed by powerful prejudices, it may not be amiss to reason with them at leisure, and endeavour to take off their force before they become opposed to Government.


    1. 1. The Kingdom of Great Britain is imperial; that is, Sovereign, and not subordinate to or dependent upon any earthly power.
    2. 2. In all imperial states there resides somewhere or other an absolute power, which we will call the Sovereignty.
    3. 3. The Sovereignty of Great Britain is in the King in Parliament; that is, in the King, acting with the advice and consent of the Lords and the Commons (by their Representatives), assembled in the Parliament of Great Britain.
    4. 4. The King in Parliament has the sole right of legislation, and the supreme superintendency of the government; and, in this plenitude of power, is absolute, uncontrolable, and accountable to none; and therefore, in a political sense, can do no wrong.
    5. 5. The Execution of the government is in the King alone, to be exercised according to the laws of the country, written and unwritten.
    6. 6. The exercise of this right is the King’s Prerogative; and, whilst it is regulated by the laws, the King can do no wrong in such exercise.
    7. 7. The laws are either unwritten, that is, rules of government immemorially admitted and approved; or written, that is, ordinances of the Parliament.
    8. 8. The privileges of the people are the right of having conjunctively, by their representatives, one third part of the sovereign legislative power, and of enjoying separately the protection and benefit of the laws.
    9. 9. The kingdom of Great Britain has, belonging to and depending upon it, divers external dominions and countries; all which, together with Great Britain, form the British Empire. Let, therefore, the British Empire signify the aggregate body of the British dominions, and the Kingdom of Great Britain the island which is the seat of the government.
    10. 10. The King in Parliament, is the sole and absolute Sovereign of the whole British Empire.4
    11. 11. No members of the British Empire, other than the Parliament of Great Britain, can have a right to interfere in the exercise of this Sovereignty, but by being admitted into the Parliament, as Wales, Chester, and Durham have been, and Ireland may be.
    12. 12. Such an union is not necessary to the generality of the British external dominions; but it may be expedient with most of them.5
    13. 13. The external British dominions, without such an union, are subordinate to and dependent upon the Kingdom of Great Britain, and must derive from thence all their powers of legislation and jurisdiction.
    14. 14. Legislation is not necessary to an external and dependant government; jurisdiction is necessary and essential to it. Therefore,
    15. 15. A separate Legislation is not an absolute right of British subjects residing out of the seat of Empire; it may or may not be allowed, and has or has not been granted, according to the circumstances of the community.
    16. 16. Where it is granted or allowed, it must be exercised in subordination to the Sovereign power from whom it is derived.6
    17. 17. No grant of the power of Legislation to a dependant government, whether it comes from the King alone, or from the Parliament, can preclude the Parliament of Great Britain from interfering in such dependent government, at such time and in such manner as they shall think fit. Because,
    18. 18. Though the King can do acts to bind himself and his successors, he cannot bind the Parliament; nor can the Parliament bind their successors, nor even themselves.
    19. 19. It is the King’s prerogative to provide for the administration of justice in general, according to law.
    20. 20. In places to which the ordinary administration of justice does not extend, the King has a right to make extraordinary provision for it, so that such provision be as conformable to the laws as the case will permit. Nevertheless,
    21. 21. It is the right of the Parliament, by its supreme power of legislation and superintendency, to adjust and settle finally the powers and modes of jurisdiction. Therefore,
    22. 22. The new jurisdictions established by the King, until they are confirmed by Parliament, are only temporary provisions.
    23. 23. The King has a right to grant to private persons goods or lands which have been acquired by, or have fallen to the general estate, so that such grants be agreeable to law; in which case, they are presumed to be beneficial to the community.
    24. 24. Such grants may be enquired into legally by the courts of law, and discretionally by the Parliament; and if they shall be found to be illegal, exorbitant, or prejudicial to the community, they may be avoided, upon a presumption that the King was deceived.
    25. 25. A grant upon a condition performed, or to be performed, is a grant upon a valuable consideration: if the condition is performed, the grantee becomes a purchaser for value; if it is not performed, the grant is void.
    26. 26. Jurisdiction, being a matter of public trust, and not of private property, cannot be claimed as granted for a valuable consideration.
    27. 27. If a grantee professes to hold a jurisdiction as a property yielding profit, he proves that he ought not to hold it; as the profit must arise from something or other prejudicial to the public; for whose sake only jurisdictions are or ought to be created or exercised.
    28. 28. Where the King grants jurisdiction and lands in one grant, they are in law two separate grants, as they are to be judged by separate and distinct principles; and the grant of the one may be valid, and of the other void or voidable.7
    29. 29. The rule that a British subject shall not be bound by laws, or liable to taxes, but what he has consented to by his representatives, must be confined to the inhabitants of Great Britain only; and is not strictly true even there.
    30. 30. The Parliament of Great Britain, as well from its rights of Sovereignty as from occasional exigencies, has a right to make laws for, and impose taxes upon, its subjects in its external dominions, although they are not represented in such Parliament. But,
    31. 31. Taxes imposed upon the external dominions ought to be applied to the use of the people, from whom they are raised.
    32. 32. The Parliament of Great Britain has a right and a duty to take care to provide for the defence of the American colonies; especially as such colonies are unable to defend themselves.
    33. 33. The Parliament of Great Britain has a right and a duty to take care that provision be made for a sufficient support of the American governments. Because,
    34. 34. The support of the Government is one of the principal conditions upon which a colony is allowed the power of Legislation. Also, because
    35. 35. Some of the American Colonies have shewn themselves deficient in the support of their several Governments, both as to sufficiency and independency.
    36. 36. The Colonies ought, so far as they are able, to pay the charge of the support of their own Governments, and of their own defence.
    37. 37. The defence of the American Colonies, being now almost wholly a sea service, is connected with the defence of trade. Therefore,
    38. 38. Duties upon imports and exports, make the most proper funds for the expences of such defence. And
    39. 39. It being the proper business of the Parliament of Great Britain, to establish and determine the necessary regulations and restrictions of the trade of their external dominions; and the duties upon the American imports and exports being interwove with the regulations and restrictions of trade; the imposition of such Duties is the proper business of the Parliament.
    40. 40. The port duties being most properly applicable to the defence of the Colonies, it remains that the support of the Governments be provided for by internal duties.
    41. 41. The fund for the defence of the country, and those for the support of the Governments, should be kept separate; because the former relates to the general whole of the country, and the latter to the particular divisions of it.
    42. 42. The fund for the defence of the country should be kept entire, because it must be applied to the defence of such parts as shall have most need of it, without any regard to the particular divisions of the country.
    43. 43. The several funds for the support of the Governments ought to be kept separate: otherwise money, raised by internal taxes in one Province, may be applied to the support of the Government of another; which seems not to be equitable.
    44. 44. Although the right of the Parliament of Great Britain, to raise taxes in any parts of the British Empire, is not to be disputed; yet it would be most advisable to leave to the Provincial Legislatures the raising the internal taxes.
    45. 45. If the sums required were fixed, there would be no inconvenience in letting the Provincial Legislatures determine the manner in which they shall be raised.
    46. 46. It will be more agreeable to the people, that the necessary internal taxes should be raised by the Provincial Legislatures; as they will be most able to consult the particular convenience of their respective provinces. Whereas,
    47. 47. It may be difficult to form a general Parliamentary tax, so as to make it equally suitable to all Provinces.
    48. 48. It would make it more agreeable to the people, though the sum to be raised was prescribed, to leave the method of taxation to their own Legislature.
    49. 49. If the Provincial Legislatures should refuse to raise the sums required for the support of Government, or should insist upon doing it by improper means, the Parliament might then take the business into their own hands.
    50. 50. But it is most probable that the people would acquiesce in this measure, and would soon be reconciled to it, when they observed the good effects of a certain and adequate establishment for the support of Government.8 For
    51. 51. The want of such an establishment has had bad consequences in many of the Governments of the American colonies, and has contributed more than all other things put together, to contention in the legislature, and defect of justice in the courts of law. Therefore,
    52. 52. The establishment of a certain, sufficient, and independent Civil List, is not only expedient, but necessary to the welfare of the American Colonies.
    53. 53. Such an appointment will tend greatly to remove all the seeds of contention, and to promote a lasting harmony and good understanding between the Government and the people.
    54. 54. The People of the Colonies ought not to object to such an appointment, because the support of Government is one of the terms upon which they have received the power of Legislation; and, if the Government is not supported, the Legislation must cease: and because
    55. 55. The Support of Government ought to be certain and sufficient; otherwise the execution of it will be uncertain, and its powers insufficient for its purposes.
    56. 56. The Government ought not to be dependent upon the people; and the particular means used in some of the Colonies to keep their Governments dependent, and the use which has been made of such dependency, afford ample proofs that they ought not to be so.
    57. 57. The right of a people, in a Legislative Colony,9 to judge of the expediency of extraordinary and contingent expences, does not conclude for the same right as to the ordinary and necessary expences; because
    58. 58. The former must be ever uncertain, the latter may be reduced to a certainty; the one concerns the welfare only of the Colony, the other the very existence as a separate state.10
    59. 59. The subjects of the British Empire, residing in its external dominions, are intitled to all the rights and privileges of British subjects, which they are capable of enjoying.
    60. 60. There are some rights and privileges which the British subjects, in the external dominions, are not equally capable of enjoying with those residing in Great Britain.
    61. 61. The right of having a share in the Imperial Legislature, is one of these incapacities in those external dominions, where a representation is impracticable.
    62. 62. A Representation of the American Colonies in the Imperial Legislature is not impracticable: and therefore,
    63. 63. The propriety of a Representation of the American Colonies in the Imperial Legislature, must be determined by expediency only.
    64. 64. A Representation of the American Colonies, in the Imperial Legislature, is not necessary to establish the authority of Parliament over the Colonies. But
    65. 65. It may be expedient for quieting disputes concerning such authority, and preventing a separation in future times.
    66. 66. The expediency of American Legislatures, does not arise from the want of their having Representatives in the Imperial Legislatures.
    67. 67. If the American Colonies had Representatives in Parliament, still there would be an occasion for provincial Legislatures, for their domestic œconomy, and the support of their Governments. But
    68. 68. All external Legislatures must be subject to, and dependent on, the Imperial Legislature: otherwise there would be an Empire in an Empire.
    69. 69. Some external States are incapable of a Legislature; which has often been the case of infant Colonies.11 Therefore,
    70. 70. The same form of Government is not equally proper to a Colony in its infant and in its mature state.
    71. 71. There may be a middle state between infancy and maturity, which may admit of a form of Government more proper for it than either of the extremes.
    72. 72. There is but one most perfect form of Government for Provinces arrived at maturity.
    73. 73. That is the most perfect form of Government for a dependent province, which approaches the nearest to that of the sovereign state, and differs from it as little as possible.
    74. 74. There is no such form of Government among the American Colonies. And therefore
    75. 75. Every American Government is capable of having its Constitution altered for the better.
    76. 76. The Grants of the powers of Governments to American colonies by charters, cannot be understood to be intended for other than their infant or growing states.
    77. 77. They cannot be intended for their mature state, that is, for perpetuity; because they are in many things unconstitutional and contrary to the very nature of a British Government. Therefore,
    78. 78. They must be considered as designed only as temporary means, for settling and bringing forward the peopling the colonies; which being effected, the cause of the peculiarity of their constitution ceases.
    79. 79. If the Charters can be pleaded against the authority of Parliament, they amount to an alienation of the dominions of Great Britain, and are, in effect, acts of dismembering the British Empire, and will operate as such, if care is not taken to prevent it.12
    80. 80. To make the Government of a Province the most perfect, it is necessary to regard the Extension as well as the Constitution of it.
    81. 81. A Province should be so extended, that the honourable support of the Government should not be burthensome; and so confined, that the assembling the Legislature may not be inconvenient.
    82. 82. Where the Legislature can meet without inconvenience, the larger a Province is, the more effectual will be the powers of its Government,
    83. 83. The notion which has heretofore prevailed, that the dividing America into many governments, and different modes of government, will be the means to prevent their uniting to revolt, is ill-founded; since, if the Governments were ever so much consolidated, it will be necessary to have so many distinct States, as to make an union to revolt impracticable. Whereas,
    84. 84. The splitting America into many small governments, weakens the governing power, and strengthens that of the people; and thereby makes revolting more probable and more practicable.
    85. 85. To prevent revolts in future times (for there is no room to fear them in the present) the most effectual means would be, to make the governments large and respectable, and balance the powers of them.
    86. 86. There is no Government in America at present, whose powers are properly balanced; there not being in any of them a real and distinct third Legislative power mediating between the King and the People, which is the peculiar excellence of the British Constitution.
    87. 87. The want of such a third Legislative power, adds weight to the popular, and lightens the royal scale: so as to destroy the balance between the royal and popular powers.13
    88. 88. Although America is not now (and probably will not be for many years to come) ripe enough for an hereditary Nobility; yet it is now capable of a Nobility for Life.
    89. 89. A Nobility appointed by the King for life, and made independent, would probably give strength and stability to the American governments, as effectually as an hereditary Nobility does to that of Great Britain.
    90. 90. The reformation of the American governments should not be controlled by the present boundaries of the colonies; as they were mostly settled upon partial, occasional, and accidental considerations, without any regard to a whole.
    91. 91. To settle the American governments to the greatest possible advantage, it will be necessary to reduce the number of them; in some places to unite and consolidate; in others to separate and transfer; and in general to divide by natural boundaries instead of imaginary lines.
    92. 92. If there should be but one form of Government established for all the North American Provinces, it would greatly facilitate the reformation of them: since, if the mode of Government was every where the same, people would be more indifferent under what division they were ranged.
    93. 93. No objections ought to arise to the alteration of the boundaries of provinces from Proprietors, on account of their property only; since there is no occasion that it should in the least affect the boundaries of properties.
    94. 94. The present distinctions of one government being more free or more popular than another, tend to embarrass and to weaken the whole; and should not be allowed to subsist among people, subject to one King and one Law, and all equally fit for one form of Government.
    95. 95. The American colonies, in general, are at this time arrived at that state, which qualifies them to receive the most perfect form of government, which their situation and relation to Great Britain make them capable of.
    96. 96. The people of North America, at this time, expect a revisal and reformation of the American Governments, and are better disposed to submit to it than ever they were, or perhaps ever will be again.
    97. 97. This is therefore the proper and critical time to reform the American governments upon a general, constitutional, firm, and durable plan; and if it is not done now, it will probably every day grow more difficult, till at last it becomes impracticable.14

    Pamphlet, PC Select Letters, 67-88.