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ciples, which, if once they were admitted, left no security to the Americans for any thing they possessed. The claim, which they resisted, was that of direct taxation by a House of Commons, in which they were not represented. They asserted truly, that taxation and representation were inseparable;-that the right grew from the fact, and could not exist without it. In private life, the guardian regulates the conduct, and even disposes of the property of the pupil, for his maintenance, for his service, or for his education. But it does not follow, that he may take any part of it for his own use or benefit. The first may be a duty; ths second would be a robbery. protecting power has a claim to obedience, not to money. To prevent any farther question on this subject, all claim to lay taxes on the colonies was formally renounced in the year 1778. The act of the 18th of his present majesty, commonly called governor Johnstone's act, "declares and enacts, that the king and parliament of Great Britain will not impose any duty, tax, or assessment whatsoever, payable in the colonies, except such duties as it may be expedient to im pose for the regulations of commerce, the nett produce of such duties to be always paid and applied to the use of such colonies."-This surrender, on the part of Great Britain, is specific. All the other general rights of the mother country remain unaltered. The concession, by which one particular point is given up. amounts in fact to a re-affirmance of the rest. The question then is, whether the measure I propose, and particularly that part of it, by which the planters would be obliged to allot some portion of their land with a cottage to their negroes, be or be not an act of taxation. I desire to confine myself to this point at present, because I do not mean to insist that a provision for the salaries and establishments of magistrates, advocates, and commissioners may not properly be the subject of a different consideration. What I am now speaking of is the allotment of a share in the usufruct of the estate to the service and benefit of the estate itself, and to no other purpose. Nothing is taken away from the owner, nothing is applied to the uses of government. The tenure of the villan regardant was in its nature usufructuary, and was never understood to limit or impair the right of the proprietor to the property of the soil. Now I affirm that
it is essential to the character and definition of a tax, that the amount shall be taken from the contributor and applied to the service of the crown or of the public. To appropriate and allot an existing fund, whether in land or money, is not of itself an act of taxation. But, if it were so, what pretence have these gentlemen to appeal to the case or to quote the rights, which justified the resistance of America? Is there any resemblance between the two situations? The Americans resisted taxation, because they were not represented in parliament. The folly and injustice of this country, by persisting in a claim of right, which never could have been effectually exercised, and which at last was relinquished, drove the Americans to the necessity of asserting much more than their original pretensions amounted to. They began with petition and remonstrance:they appealed to the sword, and established their destined independence long be fore its natural and inevitable period, before they themselves had forescen or desired it. In the fullness of time, and in the maturity of their state, separation and independence must have been the lot of America. The Herculean infant would necessarily have burst its cradle, and broken loose from its leading strings. But then the union of the two countries would have continued unimpaired. The mutual relations of kindness and friendship would not have been dissolved. Affection and attachment would have occupied the places of authority and dependence. Between the case of America and that of the West India islands there is no similarity, nor are the same consequences possible. Is it true, in fact, that the property of the West India islands is not represented in the House of Commons? Of what sort of persons does that party consist, which, on the subject of the slave trade, carries every thing before it in this House? Why, Sir, it is one of their allegations, when it suits their purpose, that the property of the islands is vested in Great Britain, that is, in the hands of resident owners, mortgagees, merchants, and creditors. They are all on the spot, to represent the interests, and to defend the right of the islands. They, at least, are the subjects of Great Britain. They, at least, may be compelled by the power of parliament. If they are not your subjects, what are they? The Americans, on the contrary, resided on their own continent, at a distance, which made com
[976 munication impracticable, and not only | tion of the strict right of parliament to without representation, but not even in act legislatively for the general benefit contact, and much less in sympathy with of the West India islands, I know there the power that pretended to tax them. is another important question to be reThe progress of their population had no solved. Since the different islands have limits. An unbounded territory expanded colonial assemblies or inferior parliaments to receiv it. The Islands have their of their own, why do I not prefer some boundary fixed by nature. The number course of application to those assemblies, of their white inhabitants cannot increase and try whether all the useful purposes of beyond a certain point, and must always the bill, which I am endeavouring to rebe inconsiderable in comparison with the commend to the House of Commons, negroes and people of colour. Of some may not equally be effected through that superior power, of some protecting do- medium? The question is fair, and I minion, the islands must for ever be the shall answer it frankly. In the face of colonies or the dependencies. In the na- experience, and against all our knowledge ture of things they never can be indepen- and observation of the principles, characdent states. Their representatives in this ter, and proceedings of these assemblies, House talk boldly of separation, and even let us suppose for a moment that a geneintimate resistance. I would not drive ral disposition did really prevail among them to that issue. If they can make out them to impart to their negroes some their right, I would never put them to a share in the natural rights of human creatrial of their strength. Their arguments tures, labouring in their service, and a and their power are pretty much upon a legal security for the possession of them. footing. They know that, if they were un- Within these few years, since questions connected with us to-morrow, and if it on this subject have been warmly revived were possible for them to maintain their and repeatedly agitated in England, they independence against France and Ame- have had opportunities and incitements ica, the great market for their produce enough to indulge their benevolence, 8 in the consumption of these kingdoms, and to take the business into their own and that to this market they must bring hands. But neither have they discovered it on any terms, which parliament should such an inclination, nor do I think it was think fit to prescribe to them. in their power to have concerted a general plan, or to have pursued it with effect. Partial alterations might possibly have been attempted in the several islands, without system or connexion, according to the accidental temper or prevailing discretion of the different assemblies. Some would have granted less than others. Very little, I believe, would have been yielded by any of them. But, were it otherwise in point of disposition, their number and their distance from each other would have made it impossible for them to deliberate in concert, or finally to concur in a uniform conclusion. The colonies of North America were in contact with each other, and were capable of acting under one direction, for a ge
I have already intimated, that it is not my intention to propose any thing, that should really trench on the question of taxation, or furnish a pretence to cavil or to quarrel with the general views and purposes of the measure. I need not argue about privileges, which I have no thoughts of invading. If the sums required to pay the salaries and to support the establishments made necessary by this or any other plan, were to be raised in the Islands by the direct authority of parliament, the objection would then be in its place, and proper to be considered. That point is not in question, and need not be debated. If the colonial assemblies cannot be prevailed upon, by a recommendation from the crown, or any other means, to pro-neral object. The islands have no union vide for such expenses, the charge must of views, no common bond of interest, to be borne by Great Britain, and may easily engage them to agree in a general resolube assessed upon objects, unquestionably tion; much less have they a union of power within the disposition of parliament. Ito inforce it. So much the more necesam ready, for my part, to contribute to sary is it, that there should be somewhere it, by a perpetual rent charge on my a superior indifferent tribunal, and a bindestate, to a greater amount than can be ing power paramount to them all. No reasonably stated as the just proportion authority, adequate to the purpose, can of any individual. exist but in parliament. If one of the Waving now, Sir, all farther considera- provincial legislatures presided with so
public uses thereof." But in what form, or by what testimony conviction is to be obtained in this or any other instance against a white man, where there is no white evidence, which must generally be the case, is no where specified. White overseers and drivers will not often bear witness against one another. They have a fellow feeling on this subject, or they can easily take care not to act in company. An act passed in Dominica in the year 1788, "for the encouragement, protection, and better government of slaves," I am told, is greatly relied on as a proof of the justice and humanity, which prevail in the islands. This act does certainly admit, that "it is just and proper that the slaves should be protected in their persons from the violence and inhumanity of such white persons and free persons of colour, who may have no lawful authority over them." The admission is important. Observe the date, and then consider what sort and what length of antecedent practice is proved by it. But this act is remedial. I wish it were possible to bring the whole tenor of it into your view. One example will be enough to show you the spirit that runs through it. The 18th clause declares that the inferior crimes of slaves cannot always be conveniently brought before the cognizance of the magistrates, and therefore enacts, "that every slave, who shall disobey orders, or who shall be guilty of neglect of duty, or absence from labour, &c. &c. shall be punished at the discretion of the owner, renter, manager, or overseer, by confinement or flogging on the bare back provided the number of lashes does not exceed thirtynine." Trial and conviction are avowedly out of the question. But, if the punisher shall inflict any punishment not prescribed by this act,-What then? He "shall be subject to a penalty not exceeding 201. current money of the island to be recovered by bill, plaint, or information, in any of his majesty's courts of record!" Who is to complain? Who is to inform?- Suppose he repeats the thirty-nine lashes, after a short interval. That case is not provided for. Most of these lawgivers seem to think it reasonable that, if any violent injury be done to the person of a negro, compensation should be made for it. By an act of St. Vincent's, past in 1767, it is provided that, if any white person shall castrate or dismember any slave (familiar cases) he [3 R]
vereignty over the rest, it might possibly | be sufficient to form the plan. The difficulties of the execution would still be insurmountable. But, let their capacity be what it may, the principal disqualification lies in their rooted aversion to the measure, and in their contempt of the ob jects of it. Such is the invariable influence of arbitrary capricious power, to vitiate the human mind, to make us hate, when we have injured; and despise, when we have degraded. A great deal, it is said, may be expected from the virtue and prudence of the colonial assemblies. Let us try the value of that expectation by the test of experience. To judge of what they will do, let us see what they have done. I place no confidence in professions, unsupported by conduct. I have examined their laws with care and attention. I have read them with patience, with weariness, and disgust. I do assure you, Sir, it is not easy for an English mind to conceive that such a code as this could be the result of debate and deliberation in a senate of any sort. Their utter ignorance of every rational principle of legislation is only to be paralleled by the unfeeling cruelty that dictates and prevails through all their resolutions. I shall not weary the House with details or recitals from this book. My hon. friend near me (Mr. W. Smith) has kindly undertaken that task, if the House should be disposed to call for it. I believe it will be sufficient, if I give you a sample of the principles, on which these assemblies have proceeded. You may take it safely for a specimen of the whole. First of all, let the personal injury done to a negro, be ever so atrocious, the assemblies have taken special care to make conviction impossible. Suppose that all the negroes on any plantation should jointly and severally attest that the overseer had "maimed, defaced, mutilated, or cruelly tortured" a negro (the common language of these laws), their evidence would avail nothing. The party would be at liberty to purge himself on his oath; that is, they have established impunity by law for crimes, in many cases worse than murder. They talk of conviction perpetually, and of penalties to be attached to it. To deface, to maim, or to mutilate, if by any means the fact can be proved, is to be punished with imprisonment, not exceeding three months, and a fine of 100/. currency," to be paid into the treasury of the island for the [VOL. XXXII.]
direct recourse to the power of parliament and the injustice of resorting to any other, one general consideration of the subject remains to be stated, and with that I shall conclude. The population of the islands consists of the many, who are black, and of a few who are white. The few legislate for the many, without their consent or knowledge. The ne groes, I take it, are not represented in the assemblies, whose authority, however, would not have been disputed, if it had been exercised with any tolerable regard to justice, reason, or humanity. The nature of the case requires that there should be somewhere a compulsory power over both parties. The highest attribute of parliament is to compel the guilty and to protect the innocent. The station and the trust are inseparable. Renounce your office, or perform your duty.
With the assistance of a near relation, whose studies I hope will be successful as long as they are directed by generous principles to honourable ends, a bill for the purposes, which I have submitted to the House, is in some degree of forwardness. I am glad I did not foresee the uncommon difficulties that belong to it, and the extent of the labour I was about to undertake. I fear it would have deterred me from attempting to do any thing. SupRe-posing I were at liberty to proceed as I thought fit, my desire would be to have leave to bring in the bill, to read it once, to have it printed, and to let it lie over till the ensuing session. Even they, who might wish to promote the objects of the bill by other means, would find some advantage, I hope, from having it before them. They might take the materials, and make a better use of them. Though I should not have a seat in parliament, I shall be ready to devote my time and my labour to assist any man, who will undertake to prosecute the measure.
With this act I am content to close my parliamentary life. I set out with a fixed principle, and have adhered to it faithfully, without looking to the right or left for advantages. I am not conscious of having pursued any interest at the expense of any duty. I saw my way, and I knew where it would lead me. For profit or preferment I should have taken another course. For honour and happiness I shall not think that I have lived in vain, if, at the period of my existence, I should be able to look back, as I do in this place, to a life of unrewarded service, and to end it
shall, upon conviction," and if " the
In other islands, the proof of inno-
I ask pardon of the House for dwelling so long, on such odious examples of deliberate legislative barbarity. It was necessary, in order to show you what sort of legislators you are referred to; into what hands you are to delegate your justice and your mercy, and how fit they are to be trusted. To establish the necessity of a
with an act of benevolence to mankind. I move you, Sir, "That leave be given to bring in a Bill for the better Regulation and Improvement of the State and Condition of the Negro and other Slaves in the Islands, Colonies, or Plantations in the West Indies or America, under the dominion of his majesty, his heirs, or
Mr. Serjeant Adair said, that though he concurred in the principles and object of the hon. gentleman, the general plan he had proposed was attended with such insurmountable obstacles as would induce him to give it his decided opposition. He would not, however, like the hon. gentleman, impute improper motives to the conduct of any one, and would give him the credit of being guided by the purest views of humanity and of justice; and were his propositions brought forward in a stage in which they could debate matters of regulation, or were they advanced in a colonial assembly, he should consider them entitled to support. In his mind, nothing but a total abolition could produce that amelioration which it was the object of any partial plan of regulation to obtain. The ingenious arguments that had that night so ably been suggested in pursuance of this idea, convinced him the more that such a plan was attended with difficulties which no talents could surmount. He hoped that the great measure, from which it only could result, would never be abandoned. There were many points upon which he agreed entirely with the hon. gentleman. Property, marriage, freedom from the lash, and regulation of the traffic on the coast of Africa, he considered in themselves as extremely good, but he was afraid they were not to be effected in the way proposed. As to the article of property, he did not well see how it could be realised, without fixing the negroes to the place where the property existed, and thus innovating upon the legal right in slaves which the masters at present possessed. The state of the slaves was so involved with the system which prevailed and the rights arising out of it to the proprietors, that no partial remedy could operate with advantage. With regard to the two others, marriage, and exemption from the whip, he would have heartily concurred in them, had the House been deliberating upon matters of regulation. As to the regulation of the trade on the coast of Africa, he could never assent to any plan of regulation that
would seem to indicate a recognition of the principle which had been denounced by the House after the fullest examination Upon the point of propagation, he was induced, from the facts upon the subject, to differ. The state of the slaves had not operated totally to defeat this object. But if all the advantages which should result from this propagation were not enjoyed, what an argument for the total abolition of the trade, and a complete prohibition of any new importation! So long as cultivation was cheaper from continued importation than from care and attention in rearing the children of the negroes, no pains would be taken to make the propagation answer the necessity.But the principal reason that induced him to give his negative to the motion, was the impolicy of interfering in the internal regulations of the colonies. He did not oppose it as denying the right. It was better to avoid all abstract reasonings on the right of the legislature to form regulations, and to confine it to the immediate necessity of the case. He was unwilling to take up the intermediate points between general admission and negation of the right. As the regulations proposed were to have effect wholly within the colonies, he did not wish to drive them to the situation of the American colonies, and bring into question their separation from this country. It was admitted that the colonies were not represented; and this was a consideration that should attach us more to a complete abolition; for then there would be no need to reconcile the jarring interests of assemblies, or provoke any nice discussions. All that was to be done was to stop the supplies of negroes, and the evils complained of would cease of themselves. It was indeed true, that many of the islands were represented by their proprietors here; but it was not as proprietors of lands in the West Indies, but as inhabitants of this country. As well might it be argued, that because many persons from Ireland resided here, the British parliament might pass an act, disposing of the property of any class of persons in that country. He thought, therefore, that nothing would be so inju rious as the apportioning the lands of the West India proprietors, without their consent. As he was convinced that the plan could not be effectual, without a total abolition, and as it was so dangerous in its principle, he would give it his negative..
Mr. Fox said:-The case, Sir, which