Colony assemblies and RepresentationMarch 23, 2020
151 Under the present system of management, Great Britain only derives loss from her colonies.
152 The following proposal never was and never will be adopted by any nation=
Great Britain should voluntarily give up all authority over her colonies. The colonies should be left to elect their own magistrates and enact their own laws. The colonies should make peace and war as they might think proper.
No nation ever voluntarily gave up the dominion of any province no matter how=
troublesome it might be to govern it small the revenue it afforded, compared to the expence it created
Such sacrifices are always mortifying to the pride of every nation.
Although such sacrifices might frequently be agreeable to their interest. More importantly, they are always contrary to the private interest of the government. They would be deprived of= many places of trust and profit many opportunities of acquiring wealth and distinction The possession of the most turbulent and unprofitable province always affords wealth and distinction The most visionary enthusiast cannot propose such a measure with any serious hopes of it ever being adopted. If it were adopted, Great Britain would be immediately freed from the expence of the peace establishment of the colonies. She might settle for a treaty of commerce which would secure her a free trade. The free trade would be more advantageous to the people. It would be less advantageous to the merchants than the current monopoly. The natural affection of the colonies to the mother country was almost extinguished by our recent dissensions. By parting good friends, this affection would perhaps quickly revive. By this affection, they might for centuries respect the treaty of commerce they concluded at parting with us. They might be disposed to favour us in war and in trade. They might become our most faithful, affectionate, and generous allies instead of turbulent and factious subjects. The parental affection of Great Britain and the filial respect of her colonies might be revived. Such affection and respect was present between the ancient Greek colonies and their mother city.
153 For any province to be advantageous to its empire, it should afford a peacetime revenue sufficient for=
defraying the expence of its own peace establishment contributing its proportion to support the empire’s government.
“Every province necessarily contributes to increase the expence of that general government.”
If any province does not contribute, an unequal burden must placed on some other part of the empire. The wartime revenue of every province should be proportional to peacetime revenue of the empire. Neither the ordinary nor extraordinary revenue from British colonies is proportional to the revenue of Great Britain. The monopoly was supposed to= increase British private revenue enable the British to pay more taxes to compensate the deficiency of revenue from the colonies. I have shown that this monopoly is a very grievous tax on the colonies. It may increase the revenue of an order of men in Great Britain, but it reduces the people’s revenue. It consequently reduces the people’s ability to pay taxes. The order of men who get increased revenue from the monopoly is absolutely impossible to tax beyond the proportion of other orders. I shall show in Book 5 that that order is extremely unwise even to attempt to tax beyond that proportion. No resource can be drawn from that order.
154 The colonies may be taxed by their own assemblies or by the British parliament. 155 It seems improbable that the colony assemblies can ever levy a public revenue sufficient to=
maintain their own civil and military establishment pay their share of the government expences of the British empire.
It took a long time before even the parliament of England, under the eye of the sovereign, could be=
brought under such a system of management rendered sufficiently liberal in their grants to support the civil and military establishments even of England.
Such a system of management could only be established in the English parliament by distributing among the parliament members a part of=
the offices the disposal of the offices arising from this civil and military establishment
But it is difficult for the sovereign to manage the colony assemblies in the same way as the parliament due to their:
- dispersed situation
- various constitutions
It would be absolutely impossible to distribute among all the leading members of all the colony assemblies a share of the offices of the general government of the British empire.
Such offices would dispose the leaders to:
- give up their popularity at home
- tax their constituents to support that general government.
Almost the whole emoluments were divided among people who were strangers to them. The following renders such a system of management unfeasible:
The unavoidable ignorance of administration concerning the importance of those assembly members The offences which must frequently be given The blunders which must constantly be committed in attempting to manage them.
156 “The colony assemblies cannot be the proper judges of what is necessary for the defence and support of the whole empire.”
The care of that defence and support is not entrusted to them.
It is not their business. They have no regular information concerning it.
The assembly of a province, like the vestry of a parish, may judge very properly concerning the affairs of its own district.
But it can have no proper means of judging those of the whole empire. It cannot even judge properly the proportion of its own province to the whole empire. It cannot judge the relative degree of its wealth and importance compared with other provinces.
Because those other provinces are not under the inspection and superintendency of the assembly of a particular province.
Only an assembly which inspects and superintends the affairs of the whole empire can judge:
- what is necessary for the defence and support of the whole empire
- in what proportion each part should contribute.