834 | To Thomas Hutchinson

    Pall Mall, March 7th. 1770.

    No. 21.

    Dear Sir,

    Last Monday I wrote to you a short Letter,1 of which I now send you a duplicate. I cannot now enlarge upon those Subjects as a fresh one is now started which is more interesting to America.

    Lord North began the Debate saying, the last Year the Ministry had in Consideration the Complaints of the Americans against the late Duties, & were of Opinion that such of them as were laid upon British Manufactures were uncommercial and ought to be repealed. This was signified to the Colonies by a circular Letter;2 notwithstanding which, they had been very refractory & had entered into illegal Combinations hurtfull to themselves as well as their Mother Country; and thereby were entitled to no favour. Nevertheless as the Merchants of London trading to America had given in a petition upon this Subject, and this day was appointed to consider it, he was content that the Duties on Glass, Painters colours & British Paper should be repealed upon Commercial Principles only. But he could not consent to the Repeal of the Duty on Tea, not only because it was not a British Manufacture; but because it was insisted upon in the Way of Denying the Right of the Parliament to tax the Colonies. It was not consistent with the Policy, dignity or Honor of Great Britain to give Way to the Obstinacy of America. He was not at all influenced by the American Associations; they must be broke up; they had allready brought Distress on that Country by the Rise of Goods and Great Quantity of Goods were now going over. But as he was advised in the Cabinet when the circular Letter was advised, tho’ he had doubted of the Propriety of it, he thought himself obliged to make good the Assurances he had given, tho’ the Americans had forfeited the Benefit of it: & if it was not for this Obligation, perhaps he should have thought otherwise of the Proposal he made now. The Americans complained without Reason, & had forgot the many Indulgences of Great Britain in giving Bounties upon allmost every thing imported from America. He added that there was a Treaty with the East India Company depending, which might possibly in its Consequences produce a Repeal of the Duty upon Tea; but he would engage for Nothing. — 3 I have thought proper to give you these particulars, because, what may surprise you, he was the only Person on the Side of the Ministry that spoke in favor of the partial Repeal; tho some Ministerial Men spoke against any Repeal.

    Mr Beckford,4 Lord Mayor, moved for an Amendment so as to include the whole Act, urging that the Americans would not be satisfied with[ou]t it: therefore the keeping the Duty upon Tea was anticommercial as it would hurt the Commerce of Great Britain. Govr Pownall5 spoke to the same Purpose & said he did not ask the Repeal as a favor to America; not to repeal would be ^a^ favour to Americans, as it would make them industrious, & raise Manufactories: He proposed it as a Commercial Object in favour of this Country. He denied that the Associations were at an End & offered to produce Letters to show that they were not & he justified the Legality of them. He complained that the military Power was put above the civil Power & said that if any Minister would maintain that Superiority, he pledged himself that he would impeach him.

    Col Mackay6 spoke next & said that the Repeal of the Stamp Act had made the Americans wanton in their Claims against Great Britain. That three Quarters of the Bostonians would be against the Combinations if they could act for themselves. That notwithstanding the Cry against the Troops, many prayed for their Continuance for the Sake of the Money they brought in. That the military were so far from being superior to the civil, it was the very reverse: for when a Soldier had committed a trivial Crime the Justices first fined him more than he could pay & then sold him for non-payment.7 That the most illegal Part of the Conduct of the Americans arose from the Encouragement they received from hence.

    Mr Greenville said that the Question put him under great Difficulties. He had allways disapproved of this ^Act^ & thought him it an improper one. But he was convinced that the Repeal of it at this Time & under the present Circumstances would give a Wound to the Authority of Great Britain. If he should vote against ^the^ Repeal he should show his Approbation of an Act he did not like; if he voted for the Repeal, he should appear to assent to the Pretensions of the Americans which he could not approve of. He did had therefore nothing to do but to decline voting at all. He accordingly left the House with some of his Friends.

    Several other Members spoke & among them two ministerial ^leading^ Men in the Ministerial Party against any Repeal at all.8 The first Question was for the Repeal of the whole Act, when it passed pro 142, con 204. Maj 62. The second Question was for the Repeal of Glass Colours & British Paper: There were some no’es but not enough to encourage a Division.9 There was upon this Occasion as upon the Repeal of the Stamp Act, a great Departure from the Arrangement of Parties & therefore it was probable there was no Desire on either Side to distinguish the Votes.

    I hope that this Determination, now it is over, will have an Effect to lay a Foundation for a Reconciliation between Great Britain & America: if it is not so, the American Opponents may assure themselves that their Credit will be very low in the next Session of Parliament. It was with a View to such a Reconciliation that I have laboured hard for the partial Repeal both with those who were well disposed to it, and those who declared against it: a total Repeal of the Act I could not have attempted, if I had thought it right. Certain it is that farther Concessions by the Means of Opposition & Threats are not like to be obtained; tho they may do much in the Way of Submission & Duty.

    I am, &c.

    Lt Govr Hutchinson

    L, LbC      BP, 8: 70–74.