They are Jealous of Their Liberties

Colonel Isaac Barre

Americanist History, William Jackman

Parliament assumed the right to tax the Americans, and paid no attention to their protests, but characterized them as “absurd,” “insolent,” “mad.” when they expostulated with Grenville, the Prime Minister, he warned them that in a contest with England they would gain nothing. The taxes must be levied at all events; and he graciously asked if there was any form in which they would rather pay them than by means of the threatened stamps. These were to be affixed to all documents used in trade, and for them a certain impost duty was charged. Only the English merchants whose interests were involved in the American trade, appear to have sympathized with the colonists. Franklin, who was then in London as agent for the Assembly of Pennsylvania, wrote home: “Every man in England regards himself as a piece of a sovereign over America, seems to jostle himself into the throne with the king, and talks of our subjects in the colonies.”

The Stamp Act did not pass without a struggle. During these discussions, Colonel Barre, who, in the war against the French, was the friend and companion of Wolfe, charged the members of the House of Commons with being ignorant of the true state of the colonies. When Charles Townshend, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, asked the question, “Will our American children, planted by our care, nourished by our indulgence, and protected by our arms, grudge to contribute their mite to relieve us from our burdens?” Barre indignantly replied: “They planted by your care! No, your oppressions planted them in America. They fled from your tyranny to an uncultivated, inhospitable country; where they exposed themselves to almost every hardship, and to the cruelties of the savage foe. They nourished by your indulgence! They grew by your neglect; your care for them was to send persons to rule them; deputies of deputies, to some members of this house, sent to spy out their liberties, to misrepresent their actions, and to prey upon them; men who have caused the blood of those sons of liberty to recoil within them. They protected by your arms! They have nobly taken up arms in your defense. Amidst their constant and laborious industry they have defended a country whose frontiers were drenched in blood, while its interior settlements yielded all their little savings to your emoluments. I speak the genuine sentiments of my heart. They are a people as truly loyal as any subjects of the king; they are jealous of their liberties, and will vindicate them, if ever they should be violated.”

Source: Jackman, William. “History of the American Nation,” Volume 2, pp. 403 -404, Chicago 1902.