Samuel Adams.

The writings of Samuel Adams (Volume 1) online

. (page 20 of 31)
Online LibrarySamuel AdamsThe writings of Samuel Adams (Volume 1) → online text (page 20 of 31)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

[Boston Evening Post, December 26, 1768.]


HAVING determined (from my first publication)
not to deviate from the strictest rules of impartiality,
during my scrutinizing into the individuals that con
stitute the A n B d of C s ; I to my very
great mortification find it utterly impossible to pro
ceed with the history of Mr. (Shan ap Morgan

Shentleman of Wales) as high up as his Birth and

1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 279

Parentage, which was what I proposed to have done,
had it been attainable : I must indeed own I have
been led into a very gross error on his account ;
taking it for granted that Mr. - - (Shan ap Morgan)
in conformity to the ancient & modern usage of his
countrymen, had brought his Petigry with him, an
instance never being known (before this) in the
annals of Europe of any Welshman s quitting his
country, without at least a Portmanteau full of the
Petigry of his Family ; which (by way of abridgment)
seldom fails running up as far as Owen Tudor.
Indeed I have been informed by a very worthy
Welsh Gentleman now in this town, that the better
sort never travel with less than fifteen hundred vol
umes in folio ; but unfortunately for me at this crit
ical juncture, I find that Mr. - - (Shan ap Morgan
Shentleman of Wales) set out from Mongomeryshire
without a single sheet of his : Whether this was
owing to an accidental fire that destroyed the Man
sion-house (and of consequence the records of the
family, for the largest and best room in the house is
always set apart for that purpose) or that the Rats
destroyed them for want of better food ; or whether
they ever had any existance, I know not ; let that
be as it may, I am under the disagreeable necessity
of skipping over the geneological part of this Gentle
man s history as nimbly as the briskest native of
Wales over its most rugged mountains, in order to
arrive at the critical period of his being hired (by a
Welsh Attorney) as a hackney boy to write Warrants
& learn to read Acts of Parliament.

As impartiality is the darling I have adopted, I

2 8o THE WRITINGS OF [1768

should have been vastly happy to have had it in my
power to trace this Gentleman up to the Tudors or
Winns : but as that (upon my plan) is totally inad
missible ; I must content myself with finding him em
ployed as before recited with his Welsh Attorney ;
who after taking an infinity of pains to instruct him
so as to enable him to read Acts of Parliament and
copy Warrants tolerably well, found to his unspeak
able disappointment that Mr. - - (Shan ap Morgan)
grew very talkative ; opinionated ; and intolerably
ignorant and wrong-headed ; so much so, that he was
very glad to dismiss him at the end of five months
with a hearty drubbing ; the impression of which
(some say) he has never got the better of to this

day. Immediately after his dismission Mr. (Shan

ap Morgan) travell d up to London and lived there
some time (I can t say how long) as other Gentle
men do, upon his means : some say he plyed with
his countrymen in the Sedan way (but I do not aver
this for truth) The next thing we know of him, is
his advertising at the New England Coffee-house in
order to get a berth as Clerk to any skipper bound to
the coast of Guinea that would please to ship him.
Here again unluckily, I must lose sight of Mr. -
(Shan ap Morgan Shentleman of Wales) till his
embarkation for America with a very worthy country
man of his (as an Officer in the Revenue) who
through good nature, and the utmost humanity,
smuggled him and what baggage he had (exclusive
of his Petigry) on board ship, in order to prevent
both from falling into the hands of the Philistians.
On his first arrival, to my knowledge, he had at

1768] SAMUEL ADAMS. 281

least the appearance of much humility ; tho it was
observed at the same time that he looked wild and

confused : however Mr. (Shan ap Morgan) in a

very little time waxed fat and kicked his five

months instruction from his Mongomeryshire At
torney, began now to break out ; he thought it im
possible that the people of N- 1, of which place he

was C r (under a very severe rider) could know

any thing of Acts of Parliament, or any other kind
of literature and in short, in a very little time Mr.

(Shan ap Morgan Shentleman of Wales) turned

out a very tyrant ; harrassed the merchants out of
their lives, with a continual unintelligible jargon
about Acts of Trade, and false quotations ; grew
fat ; began to dress well ; and carry a great air of
importance nay began to fortune hunt but without
success And here I shall quit him at present, to
assure my readers, that I esteem the liberty of the
press (within its proper limits) as the greatest bless
ing to the good, and the severest scourge to the
licentious, and in no other manner will I ever use it ;
having a thorough detestation to licentiousness of all
denominations ; nor shall threats from men in power,
or any mean underhand methods of revenge pre
vent me from exposing the abuse of the power put
into their hands. In time I will shew the conduct of
these men in proper colours, chusing to finish with
them as individuals before I take notice of their
publick conduct in a particular manner.



[Boston Gazette, January 9, 1769.]

Messieurs EDES & GILL,

IT seems to be generally agreed, that every man
who is taxed has a right to be present in person or
by his own representative, in the body that taxes him ;
or as Lord Carnbden has expressed it, that " taxation
and representation are inseparable." A man s prop
erty is the fruit of his industry ; and if it may be taken
from him under any pretence whatever, at the will of
another, he cannot be said to be free, for he labors
like a bond slave, not for himself, but for another :
Or supposing his property comes by inheritance or
free gift, it is absolutely his own, and it cannot rightly
be taken from him without his consent. This I take to
be the commonly receiv d opinion, concerning liberty,
as it regards taxation : And it is moreover generally
understood, that upon this opinion the very being of
a free government depends. The writer who signs
Z. T. in the two last Evening-Posts, thinks it very
hard that " he and others should be treated with
sneers and ridicule, and as enemies of their country
for not falling in with the commonly receiv d opinion
of liberty and taxation " ; but till he makes it appear
that it is not a just and very important opinion, he has
no reason for his complaint.

He tells us that in the year 1764, " it was proposed
in Parliament to tax the colonies for the charge of
their government and defence "; and intimates the rea
son " The nation being then more than 140 millions
in debt ; which was above 60 millions more than it was

1769] SAMUEL ADAMS. 283

the last war. " I would ask this gentleman, whether
the old settled colonies, or particularly whether this
province ever put the nation to a farthing s expence for
its government or defence, from the first settlement of
it to this day ? If he can prove it ever did, he will do
that which no one has been able to do before ; but if
he cannot, and I presume he cannot, the reason he
offers why the colonies or particularly why this prov
ince, should be obliged to pay any part of the na
tional debt, is of no validity : But he seems to be
aware of this himself ; and therefore advances another
reason why it was propos d that the parliament should
tax America, viz. to defend the conquered provinces
44 which ought not to be left without troops." And it
was not reasonable that, " England after having run
so deeply in debt for acquiring them, should now tax
itself for the maintenance of them." But did Eng
land alone run deeply in debt in conquering the
French in America ? Did not the colonies bear a
great share in the expence of it ? Undoubtedly :
Why then should not England tax herself at least for
a part of the maintenance of them ? Because " great
stability and security was given thereby to all the
American governments." Was Canada conquered
then only for the sake of giving stability and security
to the American governments? Had Great Britain
no view to her own profit ? to the advancement of her
own glory, the increase of her trade, and the enlarge
ment of her empire ? Has she not the sole advantage
of the trade, and the immense tracts of land which the
colonies helped her to conquer ? And is it a sufficient
reason why they should pay the whole expence of


defending these acquisitions, because stability and se
curity was given to them by means of the conquest,
after they had pushed their settlements to the infinite
advantage of the mother country, at their own ex-
pence and in continual wars with the French and In
dian enemies some of them for a century and a half !
But the plan is laid : " 10,000 troops must be kept
up in America," the charge of them only computed at
,250,000, and the charge of troops and government,
.350,000 per annum, and " considering the distress
of the nation, none could expect to prevail against a
tax on the colonies." And further " all that Mr.
Grenville desired was, that America would bear the
charge of its own government and defence." In pur
suance of this plan, the stamp act, he tells us, pass d
the house of commons ; but " in complaisance to the
colonies, and as Mr. Grenville expressed it, to consult
their ease, quiet and good-will, it was hung up till
the next year, to give them the opportunity to pass it
themselves or some other equivalent." This then was
the state of the case ; the house of commons was re-
solv d to propose to the colonies, that they should tax
themselves ,350,000 sterling a year for the main
tenance of 10,000 troops to be kept up in America, and
for the support of their own government, (which they
had always before honorably supported) or they would
tax them by the passing of the stamp act : And our
writer, by way of question, expresses his surprise that
instead of " considering the distress of the nation, and
\htjustness of the demand, the legality of their right
to tax us was disputed, and we proceeded boldly to
assert what we called our liberties." But he ought to

1769] SAMUEL ADAMS. 285

have shown that the colonies could be said to be free
in either case proposed, or in the one more than in the
other ; and until he does this, he cannot reasonably
find fault with them for thinking the propos d alter
native a just occasion to awaken their attention, &
-that it was high time for them boldly to assert what
they knew to be their indefeasible right, viz. to grant
their aid with a free consent & without constraint. I
never yet heard it said, that a man who had his purse
demanded of him by a superior power, acted freely,
tho he delivered it with his own hand, instead of
waiting for it to be taken from him by force : His will
and consent certainly cannot be at all concerned in the

Our writer tells us that the " stamp-act being hung
up (in its state of a bill) for a year, might have fav
oured us with time to plead our cause, and he doubts
not but we might have been freed from the greatest
part of those charges " ; But does he not consider,
that in pleading our cause, as he terms it, we im
plicitly put it in the power of others to be the judges
whether they shall tax us without our consent ; for I
do not find among the pleadings which he would
have had us to make, there is any thing that looks
like a saving of our right. And supposing that after
having pleaded our cause, in the manner in which he
would have had us to have done it, we should not
have prevailed upon them to have receded from their
purpose of taxing us if we did not tax ourselves ;
would they not have done it with a much better
grace, and told us that we ought not surely to com
plain, since in pleading our cause before them, we


left it to their sole judgment and decision, whether
they had not the right to tax us, or which is the same
thing, oblige us to tax ourselves, and they had
determined that they had the right. This it must be
own d would have afforded a happy precedent for all

But this matter it seems was already determined ;
for he tells us that " the parliament previous to the
repeal resolved that they had a right to tax us " ; If
his inference is, that they really had the right,
because they resold d that they had, I shall only say,
that his reasoning is much like that of a late letter
writer from London, whose wonderful performance,
if I mistake not, was inserted in all our news papers,
who says that " when an act of parliament is once
pass d, it becomes a part of the constitution." This
I confess, at once shuts the mouths of all Americans
from complaining of revenue acts, or any other acts
of parliament as unconstitutional; for what is an
essential part of the constitution, I think, cannot be

Our writer intimates very strongly, that the repeal
of the stamp act was a matter of favor rather than
justice to the colonies that the act itself was the
discipline of a tender and prudent parent that the
colonies in opposing it, discover the symptoms of dis
traction that the repeal was derogatory to the honor
of the parliament, but it was done to give the colo
nies time to come to reason that instead of this,
their obstinate temper, manifested by assuming and
insulting airs, has made TROOPS necessary for the
order of society : All which no doubt entitles him to

1769] SAMUEL ADAMS. 287

m 1 1 favor, with a pension of two hundred a year, or
at least a place under the right worshipful the
American b d of C m rs.

After all, he acknowledges that " there is a great
deal of justice and propriety in the case, that the sub
jects taxed should give their consent by their repre
sentatives " ; but he fears that if our plea stands good,
that the parliament cannot tax us now, it will hold
Sfood at another time ; and therefore he would have


had us, against the time to come, when he supposes
we may " become equal to a fourth part of the whole ",
to acknowledge that they had the right to tax us,
whenever we should refuse to tax ourselves, for such
sums as they shall think proper to demand of us ;
and if the matter had been " thus stated and pleaded
in a public manner", he apprehends, "it would have
influenced the people in the colonies to have made a
different choice of persons to represent them ", and
things would have taken a different turn . Perhaps
it would have pleas d this writer if they had chosen
persons who would have given up the whole dispute
about the right ; for I cannot see that there is any
difference, with regard to the right in question, be
tween the Americans consenting forever hereafter to
tax themselves such sums as the parliament of Great
Britain shall apportion them to pay, and their con
senting that the parliament shall tax them as well as
apportion the sum : The mode of taxation in the
"one case, might have been allowed to the Americans,
and that is generally allow d even to an enemy in
the case of military contribution; but the right of

1 ministerial.


consenting to the taxation itself would be given up ;
and in that case would not the colonies be tributary
to the people of Great-Britain, instead of fellow
subjects, co-equal in dignity and freedom.

Our writer says, that " if such grants and privileges
as are pleaded by the Colonists, (such as Charters,
&c.) may ever exempt them from paying such a pro
portion of taxes, it must be concluded that the em
pire is founded on unjust principles, which needs a
reform, in order to make an equality among the sub
ject." But he seems to be too apt to forget that
the rights of nature, as well as the constitution of
Great- Britain, exempts the subjects from paying any
money at all, upon any account, without their con
sent. This is one of the principles upon which the
British empire is founded, and has stood firmly for
many ages ; if this writer thinks it needs a reform to
make an eqiiality, surely his proposal that one part of
the empire should consent that the other should be
the lords proprietors, has no tendency to promote an
equality among the subjects He tells us that
^formerly the Right of taxation was in the King only
<v~ I should have been glad if he had pointed us to
j that time We know that Kings, even English
- Kings, have lost their crowns and their heads for
assuming such a right. T is true, this strange claim
has occasioned much contention, and it always will,
as long as the people understand the great charter of
nature upon which Magna Charta itself is founded
\ ^ No man can take another s property from him
\^ without his consent This is the law of nature, and
a violation of it is the same thing whether it be done


1769] SAMUEL ADAMS, f 289

by one man who is called a King or by five hundred
of another denomination. He tells us that by
Magna Charta & the Bill of Rights, " the King may
tax his sjubJs with the cons^nt_oi_2arliament n \_
deny _ it- The-J^jn^jiever taxes his subjects they \
gr a n t_Jinn_theiji^^

tax_ themselves in jjieir own mode. ^Taxation is
their own v^^n^ry^)y\^ if I may be allow d the
expression, ^sovereign acj^ it is a gift of the people
to the ^zVz^^Indeed the law whereby each indi- J
vidual becomes oblig d to pay his share of the sum

which he has consented to give to the King, is the \
joint act of King, Lords and Commons. The people * J
of Great-Britain are always in the parliament of
Great-Britain by their representatives therefore the
consent of parliament is the consent of the people
but the people of America never were repre
sented in the parliament of Great-Britain, conse
quently the consent of the commons of Great-Britain
to tax them cannot be said to be their consent. His
conclusion therefore that our rights are in no wise \
infring d, because as he says we are taxed by the King
with the consent of the British parliament, admitting
that it were so, evidently fails This writer seems i
to be very zealous for the power of parliament, but /
to use his own words " certainly ignorant of what \y
is founded upon."

In his conclusion he finds fault with the people for
giving out "that they will defend their liberties at \
the peril of their lives " ; he indeed says it is the
language of a party only, but I hope, nay I believe
he is mistaken I hope it is the resolution of the


2 9 o THE WRITINGS OF [1769

whole people of America, when called, to defend their
liberties at the peril of their lives He talks very
loosely and strangely of opposing the landing of the
King s troops a thing which never I suppose existed
in the minds of any, but those who wish d for it, that
they might have an occasion of justifying the repre
sentations they had made of this people as rebellious

However, he acknowledges that in some cases,
"if there had open d any prospect of succeeding
by opposition, he should have readily join d in the
cause of his country against such oppression " Pray
who joins now in the party who give out that they
will defend their liberties at the peril of their lives ?

I suppose in this case he would have us to
understand that he would have acted boldly and
risqued his life but he says his opposition must be
" in case of unreasonable exertions of the power of
parliament", of which he will judge for himself
before he makes opposition ; and pray why will he
not give others the like liberty ? but I would advise
him and all others who talk after this manner, if
there be any besides him, to take care that the cause
is just, upon which alone they may depend for
success ; and moreover to be sure that this is the
mind of the publick, without which they cannot
flatter themselves with even a prospect of success.
It is not likely however that he would have joined
with all his countrymen against the board of commis
sioners, for he declares his opinion that " the true
British spirit would have been lost, if the ministry
had not exerted the power of the nation for their
relief", when they had voluntarily, and to serve the

1769] SAMUEL ADAMS. 291

turn, immured themselves in Castle-William. I desire
to know before I conclude, how long the ministry has
had authority to exert the power of the nation this I
always tho t belong d to the parliament generally, in
some cases to the King, but I never heard that the
power of the nation was left in the hands of the
ministry, but so it is according to our writer, who
would have looked upon the present exertions of
power in America to be neither parliamentary, nor
legal, but merely ministerial. The ministry he says
has exerted the power of the nation, by which he
must mean its military power, for the relief of the
commissioners of the customs ; I suppose in his
next he will acknowledge, what I really believe to be
true, that it was done by their special application.

{Boston Evening Post, January 16, 1769.]

Nor Law, nor Cavalcade of Ho born ,
Could render half a grain less stubborn,
For he at any time would hang,
For tk opportunity f harangue ;
And rather on a gibbet dangle,
Than miss his dear delight to -wrangle ;
In which his parts were so accomplisht,
That right or wrong he ne er was non plust ;
But still his tongue ran on, the less
Of weight it bore, with greater ease,
And with its everlasting clack
Set all mens ears upon the rack.


As, // faut de / Argent was the principle upon
which Mr. - (Shan ap Morgan, Shentleman of


Wales) smuggled himself into America, he very soon
found that a tyrannical and doggerel behaviour
(back d with a very insignificant smattering of the
law) would by no means answer the great end he
proposed to himself in the pecuniary way ; this
single consideration was fully sufficient to induce him
speedily to alter his conduct he therefore in a very
little time made the trade more convenient to the people,
many cargoes were suffered to be landed for proper
considerations ; and others (by agreement) went
through & prosecution for the p.enalty of one hundred
pounds sterling, for discharging their cargoes without
reporting ; one third of which fell to his share :
Such were the avenues thro which Mr. - - (Shan
ap Morgan) gallop d in the lucrative way ; insomuch
that in the plenitude of his importance (when iipon
the fortune hunting scheme, which he very often
attempted tho in vain) he assured the ladies and
their friends, that his employment was worth him
twelve hundred pounds sterling per ann. and I am
certain it was thought to be so to him, in the/#//2
he was then in ; tho I am very well informed, by the
number of ships belonging to that port, as well as by
the accounts given by \\% predecessor and successor,
it may be honestly worth between four and five
hundred pounds sterl. and no more. This difference,
tho very considerable, will not be wondered at, when
I assure my readers, that the then fee for a vessel s
entering was from tivelve to twenty Joes In this

golden path continued Mr. (Shan ap Morgan-

Shentleman of Wales) till fear began to outstrip
avarice, and startle him by whispering in his ear,

1769] SAMUEL ADAMS. 293

what might happen the question that then arose in
his mind was, what step should be taken ; there
there lay the poize ; at last Mr. (Shan ap Mor
gan) conceived a thought of writing home against

the C y in the severest terms ; not supposing it

probable he should continue long there after such
practices the only difficulty that remained, was to
know how to draw up his historical narrative equal
to the malevolence of his heart ; and this, it is certain
(with his want of ability) would have been a total
bar to his proceedings, had he not fortunately
stumbled on one Kennedy Scott (a man of some
talents at drawing up papers) then wandering about
this continent.

This representation against the C y accord
ingly went home ; and I was well informed by a
Gentleman of veracity (last summer from London)
who had seen it there, that Mr. - (Shan ap Mor
gan, Shentleman of Wales) is by no means equal to
such performance. I would be understood to mean,
as to the mode not the matter.

Affairs at home taking such an extraordinary turn
as they did, thro the impression of Verres and
others, was a very lucky circumstance to Mr.
(Shan ap Morgan) for the people were at that time
ready to receive any unfavourable representation
from this country ; accordingly, those from this Gen
tleman made with a view to save himself from im

Online LibrarySamuel AdamsThe writings of Samuel Adams (Volume 1) → online text (page 20 of 31)